« AnteriorContinuar »
Even such is man who heaps up sorrow,
song is short, the journey's so;
(1544—16–.) LITTLE is known of the personal history of this writer. He was a pupil of John Hopkins, the fellow translator, with Sternhold, of the Psalms. In the dedication of one of his earlier works, he informs us that he was an attorney in the Common Pleas; observing at the same time that
name of an attorney in the Common Pleas is now a dayes growen into contempt.” In 1568 he published “The Imitation; or, following of Christ, and the Contemning of Worldly Vanities, also the Perpetual Rejoyce of the Godlye, even in this life.” The volume from which the following lines are taken was published in 1604, and entitled, “Of the Golds Kingdome and this unhelping age: described in Sundry Poems intermixedly placed after certaine other Poems of more speciall Respect: and before the same is an oration of speech intended to have been delivered by the author hereof unto the King's Majesty."
Through many of Hake's productions there breathes a spirit of cynical mistrust, which gives colour to the supposition that he was "a dependant on court favour, and like many others, a disappointed one.” Much of his poetry is such as to have won the golden opinion that he “ learned yersification under his master Hopkins.”
The following verses are not without harmony ; and they exhibit a picture of resignation and hope calmly looking beyond the present of trouble and neglect.
COMPLAINING OF HIS WANT OF FRIENDS.
Waking in my bed, I wept,
And silently complained;
All hope of sleep restrained,
I criéd on my chance:
Will none my state advance ?
My want that never dies,
My soul that ever cries.
All these are but the loom
That warpeth up my death;
The loss of later breath.
But is there not a joy
That worldly joy excels,
And worldly woe expels?
There is, no doubt: God grant it me!
SIR HENRY WOTTON, son of Thomas Wotton, Esq., and member of a family which, says Walton, “seemed to be beloved of God," was born at Bocton Hall, in Kent, on the 30th March, 1568. He received his early education at Winchester; and in the beginning of 1584, entered New College, Oxford, which he soon after quitted for Queen's College, in the same university. Here he became well versed in logic and philosophy, and attracted attention by the acuteness of his intellect, and the extensive range of his acquirements, of which he afterwards gave proof in the varied character of his writings, completed or contemplated. Izaak Walton says that at nine
of age he proceeded master of arts; but this statement, along with others circumstantially recorded by the same pleasant biographer, is impugned by Wood, whose minutest researches could not enable him to determine that Wotton ever graduated at all. Leaving Oxford, Wotton travelled in France, Germany, and Italy; and after an absence of nine years, during which he made the acquaintance of many eminent and learned menamongst others, of Theodore Beza and Isaac Casaubonreturned to England in his thirtieth year, accomplished in person, mind, and manner.
He now became secretary to the unfortunate Earl of Essex;
but quitted the service of that impetuous and ambitious nobleman when his fall became imminent. Wotton retired to Florence, and so recommended himself
to the great Duke of Tuscany, that he was employed by him to carry letters to James VI. of Scotland, to advise that sovereign of a design to take away his life. This mission he accomplished in the disguise of an Italian, and under the assumed name of Octavio Baldi. Having distinguished himself by his zeal and adroitness in the conduct of this business, he returned to Florence, and remained there till the death of Queen Elizabeth.
The accession of James to the English throne promised to Wotton a home sphere of advancement; and he was knighted by the sovereign whom he had so weightily obliged, before the titles conferred by him had become vulgar. Wotton was employed in many important foreign missions, till, in 1619, he quitted his embassy at Venice with a vain hope of obtaining the office of Secretary of State.
On the 26th July, 1624, he was appointed to the Provostship of Eton College, “which he kept to his dying day, being,” as Wood pathetically observes, "all the reward he had for the good services he had done the crown of England.” The most enduring and most comprehensive result of his diplomatic career is a burlesque definition: “Legatus est vir bonus peregre missus ad mentiendum reipublicæ causâ; Anambassador is an honest man sent abroad to lie for the good of his country.”
It has been asserted, and more than once repeated by reckless biographers who act upon the assumption that dead men have no claim to character, that Wotton, at nearly sixty years of age, entered into holy orders in order to qualify himself for the provostship of Eton. A moment's reflection shows this to be a charge of considerable gravity. Happily for Sir Henry's memory, his genial biographer and brother angler, Walton, is explicit upon this point: “Being thus settled according to the desires of his heart, his first study was the statutes of the college; by which he conceived himself bound to enter into holy orders, which he did, being made deacon with all.convenient speed.” In the letter, of date 1627, in which he announces this event to the king, Wotton piously says: “If I can produce nothing else for the use of Church and State, yet it shall be comfort enough for the little remnant of my life, to compose some hymns unto his endless glory, who hath called me (for which his name be ever blessed), though late to his service, yet early to the knowledge of his truth and sense of his mercy.” The only fruits of this design which we possess, are the psalm we quote--which Lord Aston describes as the finest specimen he had met with of sacred poetry among our earlier authors; and the exceptional excellence of which overcomes our repugnance to the admission of translations—and the hymn, which also we give, written when he was “confined to his chamber by a quotidian fever of more contumacy than malignity,” about the year 1638. “ The Character of a Happy Life,” is by no means, as has been assumed, a portrait by Wotton of himself in his retirement; for this piece was published as early as 1614, with the fourth edition of “Overbury's Wife and Characters.” But it is singularly faithful as an anticipative picture, produced in his time of active and stirring employment, of the calm, contemplative, pious, and kindly life which Wotton led in his comparative seclusion at Eton. The “Reliquiæ Wottonianæ,” a posthumous collection of his works, which are miscellaneous and versatile rather than voluminous, includes “Lives, Letters, Poems, and Characters.” Sir Henry Wotton died at Eton College, in the chapel of which he was buried in December, 1639, aged seventy-two. He willed that his executors should lay over his grave a plain marble stone, and chose for an epitaph “this prudent, pious sentence, to discover his disposition, and