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Nassau, Don Christophoro, son of Antonio, King of Portugal, and divers other gentlemen of nobleness and valour-knighted in the field near Cadiz in Spain, after they had gotten great honoui and riches, besides a notable retaliation of injuries, by taking that town.
Sir John, being a gentleman excellently accomplished, both by learning and travel, was knighted by Queen Elizabeth, and by her looked upon with more than ordinary favour, and with inten. tions of preferment; but death in his younger years put a period to his growing hopes.
Of Sir Henry my following discourse shall give an account.
The descent of these fore-named Wottons was all in a direct line, and most of them and their actions in the memory
of those with whom we have conversed ; but if I had looked so far back as to Sir Nicholas Wotton, who lived in the reign of King Richard the Second, or before him upon divers others of great note in their several ages, I might by some be thought tedious; and yet others may more justly think me negligent, if I omit to mention Nicholas Wotton, the fourth son of Sir Robert, whom I first named.
This Nicholas Wotton was Doctor of Law, and sometime Dean both of York and Canterbury; a man whom God did not only bless with a long life, but with great abilities of mind, and an inclination to employ them in the service of his country, as is testified by his several employments,* having been sent nine times Ambassador unto foreign Princes; and by his being a Privy Councillor to King Henry the Eighth, to Edward the Sixth, to Queen Mary, and Queen Elizabeth, who also, after he had been, during the wars between England, Scotland, and France, three several times—and not unsuccessfully-employed in Committees for settling of Peace betwixt this and those kingdoms, “ died,” saith learned Camden, 6 full of commendations for wisdom and piety.” He was also, by the Will of King Henry the Eighth, made one of his Executors, and Chief Secretary of State to his son, that pious Prince, Edward the Sixth. Concerning which Nichoias Wotton I shall say but this little more; that he refused --being offered it by Queen Elizabeth-to be Archbishop of Can. Serbury,* _and that he died not rich, though he lived in that time of the dissolution of Abbeys.
* Camden in his Britannia.
More might be added; but by this it may appear, that Sir Henry Wotton was a branch of such a kindred, as left a stock of reputation to their posterity : such reputation as might kindle a generous emulation in strangers, and preserve a noble ambition in those of his name and family, to perform actions worthy of their ancestors.
And that Sir Henry Wotton did so, might appear more per. fectly than my pen can express it, if of his many surviving friends, some one of higher parts and employments, had been pleased to have commended his to posterity ; but since some years are now past, and they have all— I know not why-forborne to do it, my gratitude to the memory of my dead fri nd, and the renewed request of somet that still live solicitous to see this duty performed ; these have had a power to persuade me to undertake it; which truly I have not done but with distrust of mine own abilities; and yet so far from despair, that I am modestly confident my humble language shall be accepted, because I shall present all readers with a commixture of truth, and Sir Henry Wotton's merits.
This being premised, I proceed to tell the reader, that the Father of Sir Henry Wotton was twice married ; first to Elizabeth, the daughter of Sir John Rudstone, Knight; after whose death, though his inclination was averse to all contentions, yet necessitated he was to several suits in Law; in the prosecution whereof,—which took up much of his time, and were the occa. sion of many discontents,- he was by divers of his friends earnestly persuaded to a re-marriage; to whom he has often answered, “ That if ever he did put on a resolution to marry, he was seriously resolved to avoid three sorts of persons: namely
Those that had children ;
And those that were of his kindred. And yet, following his own Law-suits, he met in Westminster. * Holinshed.
+ Sir Edward Bysshe, Clarencieux King of Arms, Mr. Charles Cotton, and Mr. Nic. Oudert, sometime Sir Henry Wotton's servant.
Hall with Mrs. Eleonora Morton, Widow to Robert Morton, of Kent, Esquire, who was also engaged in several suits in Law: and he observing her comportment at the time of hearing one of her causes before the Judges, could not but at the same time both compassionate her condition, and affect her person ; for the tears of lovers, or beauty dressed in sadness, are observed to have in them a charming eloquence, and to become very often too strong to be resisted : which I mention, because it proved so with this Thomas Watton ; for although there were in her a concurrence of all those accidents, against which he had so seriously resolved, yet his affection to her grew then so strong, that he resolved to solicit her for a wife, and did, and obtained her.
By her—who was the daughter of Sir William Finch, of Eastwell, in Kent,--he had only Henry his youngest son. His Mother undertook to be tutoress unto him during much of his childhood; for whose care and pains he paid her each day with such visible signs of future perfection in Learning, as turned her employment into a pleasing trouble ; which she was content to continue, till his Father took him into his own particular care, and disposed of him to a Tutor in his own house at Bocton.
And when time and diligent instruction had made him fit for a removal to an higher form,—which was very early,—he was sent to Winchester-school: a place of strict discipline and order, that so he might in his youth be moulded into a method of living by rule, which his wise father knew to be the most necessary way to make the future part of his life both happy to himself, and useful for the discharge of all business, whether public or private. And that he might be confirmed in this regularity, he was, at
age, removed from that School, to be a Commoner of New. College in Oxford ; both being founded by William Wickham, Bishop of Winchester.
There he continued till about the eighteenth year of his age, and was then transplanted into Queen's College : where, within that year, he was by the chief of that College, persuasively enjoined to write a play for their private use ;-it was the Tragedy of Tancredo—which was so interwoven with sentences, and for the method and exact personating those humours, passions ana dispositions, which he proposed to represent, so performed, that
the gravest of that society declared, he had, in a slight employment, given an early and a solid testimony of his future abilities. And though there may be some sour dispositions, which
think this not worth a memorial, yet that wise Knight, Baptista Guarini,*—whom learned Italy accounts one of her ornaments, thought it neither an uncomely nor an unprofitable employment
for his age.
But I pass to what will be thought more serious.
About the twentieth year of his age he proceeded Master of Arts; and at that time read in Latin three Lectures de Oculo ; wherein he having described the form, the motion, the curious composure of the Eye, and demonstrated how of those very many, every humour and nerve performs its distinct office, so as the God of Order hath appointed, without mixture or confusion; and all this to the advantage of man, to whom the Eye is given, not only as the body's guide, but whereas all other of his senses require time to inform the soul, this in an instant apprehends and warns him of danger; teaching him in the very eyes of others, to discov. er Wit, Folly, Love, and Hatred. After he had made these observations, he fell to dispute this Optic question. “Whether we see by the emission of the beams from within, or reception of the species from without ?" And after that, and many other like learned disquisitions, he, in the conclusion of his Lectures, took a fair occasion to beautify his discourse with a commendation of the blessing and benefit of “ Seeing ;—by which we do not only discover Nature's secrets, but, with a continued content-for the eye is never weary of seeing—behold the great Light of the World, and by it discover the fabric of the Heavens, and both the order and motion of the Celestial Orbs; nay, that if the Eye look but downward, it may rejoice to behold the bosom of the Earth, our common mother, embroidered and adorned with numberless and various flowers, which man sees daily grow up to perfection, and then silently moralise his own condition, who, in a short time,
* An eminent Italian Poet, born at Ferrara, in 1537, made Professor of Belles Lettres in 1563, and subsequently entertained by the Grand Duke Alphonso II., who employed him on several embassies. In 1585, he published his famous poem “Il Pastor Fido :" and he died at Venice, Oct. 7th, 1612.
like those very flowers-decays, withers, and quickly returns again to that Earth, from which both had their first being.”
These were so exactly debated, and so rhetorically heightened, as, among other admirers, caused that learned Italian, Albericus Gentilis,* then Professor of the Civil Law in Oxford, to call him “ Henrice mi Ocelle ;” which dear expression of his was also used by divers of Sir Henry's dearest friends, and by many other persons of note during his stay in the University.
But his stay there was not long, at least not so long as his friends once intended; for the vear after Sir Henry proceeded Master of Arts, his Father—whom Sir Henry did never mention without this, or some like reverential expression; as, “ That good man my Father,” or, “ My Father, the best of men ;”—about that time, this good man changed this for a better life ; leaving to Sir Hen. ry, as to his other younger sons, a rent-charge of an hundred marks a year, to be paid for ever out of some one of his Manors, of a much greater value.
And here, though this good man be dead, yet I wish a circumstance or two that concerns him, may not be buried without a re. lation ; which I shall undertake to do, for that I suppose they may so much concern the Reader to know, that I may promise myself a pardon for a short digression.
In the year of our Redemption 1553, Nicholas Wotton, Dean of Canterbury,—whom I formerly mentioned,-being then Ambassador in France, dreamed that his Nephew, this Thomas Wotton, was inclined to be a party in such a project, as, if he were not suddenly prevented, would turn both to the loss of his life, and ruin of his family.
Doubtless the good Dean did well know that common Dreams are but a senseless paraphrase on our waking thoughts, or of the business of the day past, or are the result of our over-engaged
* A very celebrated Italian Lawyer, born at Ancona in 1550, and educated at Perugia. About 1572, he left his country with his father and brother, they being of the reformed religion, and whilst the two former settled in Germany, he came into England, and was admitted of New Inn Hall, Oxford, in 1580, through the patronage of Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester, then Chancellor of that University. In 1587, Queen Elizabeth made him Professor of Civil Law, and it is supposed that he died at Oxford, about April 1611.