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"In the name of God Almighty and All-merciful, I Henry Wotton, Provost of his Majesty's College by Eton, being mindful of mine own mortality, which the sin of our first parents did bring upon all flesh, do by this last Will and Testament thus dispose of myself, and the poor things I shall leave in this world. My Soul I bequeath to the Inimortal God my Maker, Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, my blessed Redeemer and Mediator, through his all sole-sufficient satisfaction for the sins of the whole world, and efficient for his elect; in the number of whom I am one by his mere grace, and thereof most unremoveably assured by his Holy Spirit, the true eternal Comforter. My body I bequeath to the earth, if I shall end my transitory days, at or near Eton, to be buried in the Chapel of the said College, as the Fellows shall dispose thereof, with whom I have lived-my God knows—in all loving affection; or if I shall die near Bocton Malherbe, in the County of Kent, then I wish to be laid in that Parish-Church, as near as may be to the sepulchre of my good father, expecting a joyful resurrection with him in the day of Christ.”
After this account of his faith, and this surrender of his soul to that God that inspired it, and this direction for the disposal of his body, he proceeded to appoint that his Executors should lay over his grave a marble stone, plain, and not costly and considering that time moulders even marble to dust,-for-*Monuments themselves must die; therefore did he-waving the common waythink fit rather to preserve his name-to which the son of Sirach adviseth all men--by a useful Apophthegm, than by a large enumeration of his descent or merits, of both which he might justly have boasted; but he was content to forget them, and did choose only this prudent, pious sentence to discover his disposition, and preserve his memory.
It was directed by him to be thus inscribed;
Hic jacet hujus Sententiæ primus Author:
DISPUTANDI PRURITUS ECCLESIARUM SCABIES.
Nomen alias quære.
*Juven. Sat. x. 146
Which may be Englished thus:
Here lies the first Author of this sentence:
THE ITCH OF DISPUTATION WILL PROVE
THE SCAB OF THE CHURCH.
Inquire his Name elsewhere.
And if any shall object, as I think some have, that Sir Henry Wotton was not the first author of this sentence: but that this, or a sentence like it, was long before his time; to him I answer, that Solomon says, "Nothing can be spoken, that hath not been spoken; for there is no new thing under the sun." But grant, that in his various reading he had met with this, or a like sentence, yet reason mixed with charity should persuade all Readers to believe, that Sir Henry Wotton's mind was then so fixed on that part of the communion of Saints which is above, that an holy lethargy did surprise his memory. For doubtless, if he had not believed himself to be the first author of what he said, he was too prudent first to own, and then expose it to public view and censure of every critic. And questionless it will be charity in all Readers to think his mind was then so fixed on Heaven, that a holy zeal did transport him; and that, in this sacred ecstacy, his thoughts were then only of the Church Triumphant, into which he daily expected his admission; and that Almighty God was then pleased to make him a Prophet, to tell the Church Militant, and particularly that part of it in this nation, where the weeds of controversy grow to be daily both more numerous and more destructive to humble piety; and where men have consciences that boggle at ceremonies, and yet scruple not to speak and act such sins as the ancient humble Christians believed to be a sin to think; and where, our reverend Hooker says, "former simplicity, and softness of spirit, is not now to be found, because Zeal hath drowned Charity, and Skill, Meekness." It will be good to think, that these sad changes, have proved this Epitaph to be a useful caution unto us of this nation; and the sad effects thereof in Germany have proved it to be a mournful truth.
This by way of observation concerning his Epitaph; the rest of his Will follows in his own words:
"Further, I the said Henry Wotton, do constitute and ordain to be joint Executors of this my last Will and Testament, my two grand-nephews, Albert Morton, second son to Sir Robert Morton, Knight, late deceased, and Thomas Bargrave, eldest son to Dr. Bargrave, Dean of Canterbury, husband to my right virtuous and only Niece. And I do pray the foresaid Dr. Bargrave, and Mr. Nicholas Pey, my most faithful and chosen friends, together with Mr. John Harrison,* one of the Fellows of Eton College, best acquainted with my books, and pictures, and other utensils, to be Supervisors of this my last Will and Testament. And I do pray the foresaid Dr. Bargrave, and Mr. Nicholas Pey, to be solicitors for such arrearages as shall appear due unto me from his Maj. esty's Exchequer at the time of my death; and to assist my forenamed Executors in some reasonable and conscientious satisfaction of my creditors, and discharge of my legacies now specified; or that shall be hereafter added unto this my Testament, by any Codicil or Schedule, or left in the hands, or in any memorial with the aforesaid Mr. John Harrison. And first, to my most dear Sovereign and Master, of incomparable goodness,—in whose gracious opinion I have ever had some portion, as far as the interest of a plain honest man-I leave four pictures at large of those Dukes of Venice, in whose time I was there employed, with their names written on the back side, which hang in my great ordinary Dining room, done after the life by Edoardo Fialetto: likewise a table of the Venetian College, where Ambassadors had their audience, hanging over the mantle of the chimney in the said room, done by the same hand, which containeth a draught in little, well resembling the famous Duke Leonardo Donato, in a time which needed a wise and constant man. Item. The picture of a Duke of Venice, hanging over against the door, done either by Titiano, or some other principal hand, long before my time. Most humbly
* Elected Fellow of Eton College, October 28th, 1636. He was probably that "learned and eminent Divine," whom Anthony Wood mentions as the Author of "A Vindication of the Holy Scriptures, or the Manifestation of Jesus Christ, the true Messiah already come." Lond. 1656. 8vo.
beseeching his Majesty, that the said pieces may remain in some corner of any of his houses, for a poor memorial of his most humble vassal.
"Item. I leave his said Majesty all the papers and negociations of Sir Nich. Throgmorton,* Knight, during his famous employment under Queen Elizabeth, in Scotland, and in France; which contain divers secrets of State, that perchance his Majesty will think fit to be preserved in his Paper-Office, after they have been perused and sorted by Mr. Secretary Windebank, with whom 1 have heretofore, as I remember, conferred about them. They were committed to my disposal by Sir Arthur Throgmorton, his Son, to whose worthy memory I cannot better discharge my faith, than by assigning them to the highest place of trust. Item. I leave to our most gracious and virtuous Queen Mary, Dioscorides, with the plants naturally coloured, and the text translated by Matthiolo, in the best language of Tuscany, whence her said Majesty is lineally descended, for a poor token of my thankful devotion, for the honour she was once pleased to do my private Study with her presence. I leave to the most hopeful Prince, the picture of the elected and crowned Queen of Bohemia, his Aunt, of clear and resplendent virtues, through the clouds of her fortune. Το my Lord's Grace of Canterbury now being, I leave my picture of Divine Love, rarely copied from one in the King's galleries, of my presentation to his Majesty; beseeching him to receive it as a pledge of my humble reverence to his great wisdom. And to the most worthy Lord Bishop of London, Lord High Treasurer of England, in true admiration of his Christian simplicity and contempt of earthly pomp, I leave a picture of Heraclitus bewailing, and Democritus laughing at the world; most humbly beseeching the said Lord Archbishop his Grace, and the Lord Bishop of London, of both whose favours I have tasted in my life-time, to intercede with our most gracious Sovereign after
* An eminent Statesman and Ambassador in the Court of Elizabeth, whose daughter Sir Walter Raleigh married. He was imprisoned in the Tower, as a party in Wyatt's insurrection, but was acquitted for want of evidence; and being greatly esteemed by Secretary Walsingham, he was employed in Embassies, both to France and Scotland. He died in February, 1571, being taken ill in the house of Treasurer Cecil, and not without suspicion of poison.
my death, in the bowels of Jesus Christ, that out of compassionate
"To the above-named Dr. Bargrave, Dean of Canterbury, I leave all my Italian Books not disposed in this Will. I leave to him likewise my Viol de Gamba, which hath been twice with me in Italy, in which country I first contracted with him an unremoveable affection. To my other Supervisor, Mr. Nicholas Pey, I leave my Chest, or Cabinet of Instruments and Engines of all kinds of uses in the lower box whereof, are some* fit to be bequeathed to none but so entire an honest man as he is. I leave him likewise forty pounds for his pains in the solicitation of my arrears; and am sorry that my ragged estate can reach no fur
* In it were Italian locks, pick-locks, screws to force open doors, and many things of worth and rarity, that he had gathered in his foreign travel.