Imatges de pÓgina

did play the queen's part, did carry most precious gifts to both their majesties, but, forgetting the steps arising to the canopy, overset her caskets into his Danish majesty's lap, and fell at his feet, though I rather think it was in his face. Much was the hurry and confusion; cloths and napkins were at hand to make all clean. His majesty then got up and would dance with the Queen of Sheba ; but he fell down and humbled himself before her and was carried to an inner chamber and laid on a bed of state ; which was not a little defiled with the presents of the queen which had been bestowed upon his garments, such as wine, cream, beverage, cakes, spices and other good matters. The entertainment and show went forward and most of the presenters went buckward, or fell down ; wine did so occupy their upper chambers. Now did appear in a rich dress, faith, hope, and charity: hope did essay to speak, but wine rendered her endeavours so feeble that she withdrew, and hoped the king would'excuse her brevity: faith was then alone, for I am certain she was not joined with good works and left the court in a staggering condition; charity came to the king's feet, and seemed to cover the multitude of sins which her sister had committed ; she then returned to faith and hope who were both sick in the lower hall. Next came victory in bright armour, and by a strange medley of versification did endeavour to make suit to the king. But victory did not triumph long; for after much lamentable utterancé, she was led away like a silly captive, and laid to sleep on the outer steps of the antichamber. Now peace did make entry and strive to get foremost to the king; but I grieve to tell how great wrath she did discover to those of her attendants; and, much contrary to her semblance, most rudely made war with her olive branch and laid on the pates of those who did oppose her coming."

In this reign lived and died Sir John Spencer, once Lord Mayor of London, respecting whoin some circumstances have been mentioned which deserve to be recorded as illustrative of manners and private life. Being perhaps the richest citizen of his time, his opulence was so noted that one of the pirates of Dunkirk who during this and the succeeding reign conmitted their outrages with impunity on the English coast, laid a plan to carry him off into France to extort a ransom. This plan however was not successful. His only child, a splendid matrimonial prize, became the wife of William Lord Compton, afterwards created Earl of Northampton, to whom after his recovery from a temporary fit of derangement sbe addressed the following letter, which contains a striking exposition of the grants and wishes of a city heiress raised to the post and privilege of a lady of quality, in the commencement of the seventeenth century.

“ My sweet life, now I have declared to you my mind for set. ting of your state, I suppose that it were best for me to bethink an

consider within myself what allowance were meetest for me:...I pray and beseech you to grant me your most

kind and loving wife, the sum of 26001. quarterly to be paid. Also I would, besides that allowance, have 6001, quarterly, to be paid for the performance of charitable works : and those things I would not, neither will be accountable for. Also I will have three horses for my own saddle, that none shall dare to lend or borrow; none lend but I, none borrow, but you. Also I would have two gentlewomen, lest one should be sick, or have some other let. Also, believe it, it is an undecent thing for a gentlewoman to stand mumping alone when God hath blessed their lord and lady with a great estate : also when I ride a-hunting, or a-hawking, or travel from one house to another, I will have them attending ; so for either of those said women, I must and will have for either of them a horse. Also I will have six or eight gentlemen ; and I will have my two coaches, one lined with velvet to myself, with four fair horses ; and a coach for my women, lined with cloth and laced with gold(she had not yet forgotten the mansion house and its glittering accompaniments) otherwise with scarlet and laced with silver, with four good horses. Also at any time when I travel, I will be allowed not only caroches and spare horses for me and my women, but I will have such carriages as be fitting for all, orderly, not pestering my things with my women's, nor theirs with either chamber-naids, nor theirs with wash-maids. And my desire is, that you pay all charges for me. And for myself besides my yearly allowance, I would have twenty gowns of apparel, six of them excellent good ones, eight of them for the country and six other of them very excellent good ones. Also I would have to put in my purse 20001., and 2001. and so, you to pay my debts. Also I would have 6000l. to buy me jewels and 40001. to buy me a pearl chain. Now seeing I have been and am so reasonable unto you, I pray you do find my children apparel and their schooling, and all my servants, men and women, their wages. Also I will have all my houses furnished and my lodging chambers to be suited with all such furniture as is fit. So for my drawing chamber in all houses, I will have them delicately furnished, both with hangings, couch, canopy, glass, carpet, chairs, cushions and, all things thereunto belonging. Also my desire is, that you would pay your debts, build up Ashby-house and purchase lands, and lend no more money, as you love God, to my Lord-chamberlain who would have all, perhaps your life, from you. So, now I have declared to you what I would have, and what it is that I would not have, I pray you, when you be an Earl, to allow me 20001. more, than I now desire, and double attendance."

Of Carr's early favour and the jealousy and spite which his success excited in a courtier's bosom, we extract the following proofs from a letter written by Lord Thomas Howard to Sir Jobn Harrington.

1. '« My good and trusty Knight, " If you have good will and good health to perform what I shall

command, you may set forward for court whenever it suiteth your conveniency; the king hath often enquired after you, and would readily see and converse again with the merry blade,' as he hath oft called you since you were here. I will now premise certain things to be observed by you toward well gaining our prince's good affections ;-He doth wondrously covet learned discourse, of which you can furnish out ample means; he doth admire good fashion in clothes, I pray you give good heed hereunto; I would wish you to be well trimmed; get a new gerkin well bordered and not too short, the king saith he liketh a flowing garment; be sure it be not all of one sort but diversely coloured, the collar falling somewhat down, and your ruff well stiffened and bushy. We have lately had many gallants who have failed in their suits for want of due observance of these matters.

I wish you to follow my directions as I wish you to gain all you desire. Robert Carr is now most likely to win the prince's affections, and doth it wonderfully in a little time. The prince leaneth on his arm, pinches his cheek, smooths his ruffled garment. This young man doth much study all art and device; he hath changed his tailors and tiremen many times, and all to please the prince, who laugheth at the long-grown fashion of our young courtiers, and wisheth for change every day. In your discourse you must not dwell too long on any one subject, do not of yourself say, this is good or bad, but, if it were your majesty's good opinion, I myself should think it so and so. I will advise you one thing; the roan gennet whereon the king rideth every day, must not be forgotten to be praised, and the good furniture above all which lost a great man much notice the other day. A noble did come in suit of a place, and saw the king mounting the roan ; delivered his petition which was handed and read, but no answer given. The noble departed, and came to court next day, and got no answer again. The lord-treasurer was then pressed to move the king's pleasure touching the petition., When the king was asked for answer thereto, he said, in some wrath, shall a king give heed to a dirty paper when a beggar noteth not his gilt stirrups ? Now it fell out that the king had new furniture when the noble saw him in the court-yard, but he was overcharged with confusion, and passed by admiring the dressing of the horse. Thus, good knight, our noble failed in his suit." .

We suspect that this noble peer bad also failed in some soit when this letter was written ; and that his disappointment has given an edge to his successors, which renders it unsafe to trust implicitly to his representation, he proceeds in the same strain and says,

“ Carr hath all the favours as I told you before ; the king teacheth him Latin every morning, and I think some one should teach him English too; for as he is a Scotch lad he hath much need of better language. The king doth much covet his presence; the ladies too are not behind-hand in their admiration, for I tell you, good knight, this fellow is straight limbed, well-favoured, strong shoul

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dered and smooth faced, with some sort of cunning and show of modesty ; though G-wot, he well knoweth when to show his impudence. You are not young, you are not handsome, you are not finely; and yet will you come to court, and think to be well favoured ? Why, I say again good knight, that your learning may somewhat prove worthy hereunto ; your Latin and your Greek, your Italian and your Spanish tongues, your wit and discretion, may be well looked into for a time, as strangers at such a place; but these are not the things men live by now a-days. Will you say the moon shineth all the summer? that the stars are bright jewels fit for Carr's ears that the roan gennet surpasseth Bucephalus, and is worthy to be strodden by Alexander ? that his eyes are fire, his tail Berenice's locks, and a few more fancies worthy your noticing? your lady is virtuous and somewhat of a good house-wife; has lived in a court in her time, and I believe you may venture her forth again ; but I know these would not so quietly rest, were Carr to leer on their wives as some do perceive, yea, and like it well too, that they should be so noticed. If any mischance be to be wished, 'tis breaking a leg in the king's presence, for this fellow owes all his favour to that court; I think he hath better reason to speak well of his own horse than of the king's roan gennet. We are almost worn out in our endeavours to keep pace with this fellow in his duty and labour to gain favour, but all in vain; where it endeth I cannot guess, but honours are talked of speedily for him.”

A monstrous mass of misrepresentation, contradiction and falsehood has been published by the memoir writers of that day respecting the king's views and conduct during the trial of this infamous minion, and his profligate accomplices for the murder of Sir Thomas Overbury. Weldon describes in gross and disgusting terms (which would be hardly justifiable even if the circumstances were true) the dissimulation practised by the king in his final parting with Somerset. This writer states, that the Earl of Somerset never parted from James with more seeming affection than at this time when he knew Somerset would never see him more. When the earl kissed the king's hand, the king hung about his neck, saying, “ For God's sake when shall I see thee again? Ou my soul I shall neither eat nor sleep until you come again!” The earl told him, " On Monday," this being on the Friday, “For God's sake let me," said the king. The earl was not in his coach when the king used these very words, in the hearing of four servants, one of whom was Somerset's great creature, and of the bed chamber, who reported it to the aathor of this history ; “I shall never see bis face more.

We cannot believe the king to have been guilty of such atrocious and gratuitous dissimulation without much better authority than that which is here presented to us. Whatever

disposition James might have felt in this instance to practise the king-craft on which he prided himself, it is not probable that it would have been called into action on an occasion from which he could derive no advantage, and which must have exposed him to the merited contempt and abhorrence of all the world. The discovery of Somerset's atrocious guilt must have filled the king's mind with indignation and horror; and in the first burst of bis surprise and fury, he imprecated a solemn curse upon Coke and his posterity, if he spared any, and upon himself and his, if he pardoned any of those who had made bim the unwitting accomplice of their adultery and murder. From the first discovery of this dark transaction we do not perceive that the king took any steps which interfered improperly with the strict administration of justice, and considering the circumstances in which be was placed, it should not, we think, excite peculiar surprise that an individual so much under the influence of personal attachments should feel an insurmountable repug. nance to suffer the blood of a man once so dear to him to flow on the scaffold. The contest between his sense of justice and bis feelings of compassion may sufficiently account for the excessive agitation which the king is said to have betrayed during Somerset's trial, without ascribing it to the base fear of some important disclosure which it is insinuated the prisoner bad it in his power to make. We cannot in any view of the subject compliment our fair memorialist on the taste which induced her to retain the following passage. We are persuaded that if she had listened to the advice of the “ delightful teacher and indulgent friend” to whom her volumes are incribed, it would have been expunged :

* In fact it cannot be doubted that Somerset was in possession of some important secret of the king's which he threatened to betray: that he hoped by this menace to escape a trial, but was at length by skilful management, prevailed upon to be satisfied with the promise of a pardon ; all, indeed, that the king could with any appearance of decency grant. What this secret might be, it is in vain to enquire ; that it was a mystery of iniquity there can be little doubt ; but its nature was never known. That it related to the poisoning of prince Henry has been much believed, but may surely be pronounced untrue.'

What Miss Aikin wishes to insinuate by the above passage we cannot undertake to conjecture; but it would bave redounded more, we think, to the credit of a writer of the present day, to have distrusted, at least, the coarse slan

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