Characters from 17th Century Histories and Chronicles
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With an Essay on THE CHARACTER

and Historical Notes






I. The Beginnings II. The Literary Models III. Clarendon IV. Other Character Writers


1. JAMES I. By Arthur Wilson 2. " By Sir Anthony Weldon 3. THE DUKE OF BUCKINGHAM (George Villiers, first Duke). By Clarendon 4. SIR THOMAS COVENTRY. By Clarendon 5. SIR RICHARD WESTON. By Clarendon 6. THE EARL OF ARUNDEL (Thomas Howard, fourteenth Earl). By Clarendon 7. THE EARL OF PEMBROKE (William Herbert, third Earl). By Clarendon 8. SIR FRANCIS BACON. By Ben Jonson 9. " " " By Arthur Wilson 10. " " " By Thomas Fuller 11. " " " By William Rawley 12. BEN JONSON. By Clarendon 13. " " By James Howell 14. HENRY HASTINGS. By Shaftesbury 15. CHARLES I. By Clarendon 16. " By Sir Philip Warwick 17. THE EARL OF STRAFFORD (Thomas Wentworth, first Earl). By Clarendon 18. THE EARL OF STRAFFORD (Thomas Wentworth, first Earl). By Sir Philip Warwick 19. THE EARL OF NORTHAMPTON (Spencer Compton, second Earl). By Clarendon 20. THE EARL OF CARNARVON (Robert Dormer, first Earl). By Clarendon 21. LORD FALKLAND (Lucius Cary, second Viscount). By Clarendon 22. LORD FALKLAND (Lucius Cary, second Viscount). By Clarendon 23. SIDNEY GODOLPHIN. By Clarendon 24. WILLIAM LAUD. By Clarendon 25. " " By Thomas Fuller 26. " " By Sir Philip Warwick 27. WILLIAM JUXON. By Sir Philip Warwick 28. THE MARQUIS OF HERTFORD (William Seymour, first Marquis). By Clarendon 29. THE MARQUIS OF NEWCASTLE (William Cavendish, first Marquis, and Duke). By Clarendon 30. THE LORD DIGBY (George Digby, second Earl of Bristol). By Clarendon 31. THE LORD CAPEL (Arthur Capel, first Baron). By Clarendon 32. ROYALIST GENERALS: PATRICK RETHVEN, EARL OF BRENTFORD; PRINCE RUPERT; GEORGE, LORD GORING; HENRY WILMOT, EARL OF ROCHESTER. By Clarendon 33. JOHN HAMPDEN. By Clarendon 34. JOHN PYM. By Clarendon 35. OLIVER CROMWELL. By Clarendon 36. OLIVER CROMWELL. By Clarendon 37. " " By Sir Philip Warwick 38. " " By John Maidston 39. " " By Richard Baxter 40. SIR THOMAS FAIRFAX. By Richard Baxter 41. SIR HENRY VANE, the younger. By Clarendon 42. " " " " " By Clarendon 43. COLONEL JOHN HUTCHINSON. By Lucy Hutchinson 44. THE EARL OF ESSEX (Robert Devereux, third Earl). By Clarendon 45. THE EARL OF SALISBURY (William Cecil, second Earl). By Clarendon 46. THE EARL OF WARWICK (Robert Rich, second Earl). By Clarendon 47. THE EARL OF MANCHESTER (Edward Montagu, second Earl). By Clarendon 48. THE LORD SAY (William Fiennes, first Viscount Say and Sele). By Clarendon 49. JOHN SELDEN. By Clarendon 50. JOHN EARLE. By Clarendon 51. JOHN HALES. By Clarendon 52. WILLIAM CHILLINGWORTH. By Clarendon 53. EDMUND WALLER. By Clarendon 54. THOMAS HOBBES. By Clarendon 55. " " Notes by John Aubrey 56. THOMAS FULLER. Anonymous 57. JOHN MILTON. Notes by John Aubrey 58. " " Note by Edward Phillips 59. " " Notes by Jonathan Richardson 60. ABRAHAM COWLEY. By himself 61. " " By Thomas Sprat 62. CHARLES II. By Halifax 63. CHARLES II. By Burnet 64. CHARLES II. By Burnet 65. THE EARL OF CLARENDON (Edward Hyde, first Earl), By Burnet 66. THE EARL OF LAUDERDALE (John Maitland, second Earl, created Duke 1672). By Clarendon. 67. THE EARL OF LAUDERDALE (John Maitland, second Earl, created Duke 1672). By Burnet 68. THE EARL OF SHAFTESBURY (Anthony Ashley Cooper, first Earl). By Burnet 69. THE EARL OF SHAFTESBURY (Anthony Ashley Cooper, first Earl). By Dryden 70. THE DUKE OF BUCKINGHAM (George Villiers, second Duke). By Burnet 71. THE DUKE OF BUCKINGHAM (George Villiers, second Duke). By Dryden 72. THE MARQUIS OF HALIFAX (George Savile, first Marquis). By Burnet 73. SIR EDMUND SAUNDERS. By Roger North 74. TWO GROUPS OF DIVINES: (1. Benjamin Whitchcot, Ralph Cudworth, John Wilkins, Henry More, John Worthington; 2. John Tillotson, Edward Stillingfleet, Simon Patrick, William Lloyd, Thomas Tenison). By Burnet 75. JAMES II. By Burnet 76. JAMES II. By Burnet


The seventeenth century is rich in short studies or characters of its great men. Its rulers and statesmen, its soldiers and politicians, its lawyers and divines, all who played a prominent part in the public life, have with few notable exceptions been described for us by their contemporaries. There are earlier characters in English literature; but as a definite and established form of literary composition the character dates from the seventeenth century. Even Sir Robert Naunton's Fragmenta Regalia, or Observations on the late Queen Elizabeth her Times and Favourites, a series of studies of the great men of Elizabeth's court, and the first book of its kind, is an old man's recollection of his early life, and belongs to the Stuart period in everything but its theme. Nor at any later period is there the same wealth of material for such a collection as is given in this volume. The eighteenth century devoted itself rather to biography. When the facts of a man's life, his works, and his opinions claimed detailed treatment, the fashion of the short character had passed.

Yet the seventeenth century did not know its richness. None of its best characters were then printed. The writers themselves could not have suspected how many others were similarly engaged, so far were they from belonging to a school. The characters in Clarendon's History of the Rebellion were too intimate and searching to be published at once, and they remained in manuscript till about thirty years after his death. In the interval Burnet was drawing the characters in his History of His Own Time. He, like Clarendon, was not aware of being indebted to any English model. Throughout the period which they cover there are the characters by Fuller, Sir Philip Warwick, Baxter, Halifax, Shaftesbury, and many others, the Latin characters by Milton, and the verse characters by Dryden. There is no sign that any of these writers copied another or tried to emulate him. Together, but with no sense of their community, they made the seventeenth century the great age of the character in England.

I. The Beginnings.

The art of literary portraiture in the seventeenth century developed with the effort to improve the writing of history. Its first and at all times its chief purpose in England was to show to later ages what kind of men had directed the affairs and shaped the fortunes of the nation. In France it was to be practised as a mere pastime; to sketch well-known figures in society, or to sketch oneself, was for some years the fashionable occupation of the salons. In England the character never wholly lost the qualities of its origin. It might be used on occasion as a record of affection, or as a weapon of political satire; but our chief character writers are our historians. At the beginning of the seventeenth century England was recognized to be deficient in historical writings. Poetry looked back to Chaucer as its father, was proud of its long tradition, and had proved its right to sing the glories of Elizabeth's reign. The drama, in the full vigour of its youth, challenged comparison with the drama of Greece and Rome. Prose was conscious of its power in exposition and controversy. But in every review of our literature's great achievement and greater promise there was one cause of serious misgivings. England could not yet rank with other countries in its histories. Many large volumes had been printed, some of them containing matter that is invaluable to the modern student, but there was no single work that was thought to be worthy of England's greatness. The prevailing type was still the chronicle. Even Camden, 'the glory and light of the kingdom', as Ben Jonson called him, was an antiquary, a collector, and an annalist. History had yet to be practised as one of the great literary arts.

Bacon pointed out the 'unworthiness' and 'deficiences' of English history in his Advancement of Learning.[1] 'Some few very worthy, but the greater part beneath mediocrity' was his verdict on modern histories in general. He was not the first to express these views. Sir Henry Savile had been more emphatic in his dedication to Queen Elizabeth of his collection of early chronicles, Rerum Anglicarum Scriptores post Bedam, published in 1596.[2] And after Bacon, somewhere about 1618, these views were again expressed by Edmund Bolton in his Hypercritica, or a Rule of Judgement for writing or reading our Histories.[3] 'The vast vulgar Tomes', he said, 'procured for the most part by the husbandry of Printers, and not by appointment of the Prince or Authority of the Common-weal, in their tumultuary and centonical Writings do seem to resemble some huge disproportionable Temple, whose Architect was not his Arts Master'. He repeated what he calls the common wish 'that the majesty of handling our history might once equal the majesty of the argument'. England had had all other honours, but only wanted a history.

But the most valuable statement on the conditions of English history at this time and the obstacles that hindered its progress was made by Sir John Hayward at the beginning of his Lives of the III Normans, Kings of England, published in 1613. Leaving aside the methods of the chroniclers, he had taken the classical historians as his model in his First Part of the Life and raigne of King Henrie the IIII. The interest of this work to the modern reader lies in its structure, its attempt at artistic unity, its recognition that English history must be written on a different plan, rather than in its historical matter. But it was no sooner published than Hayward was committed to the Tower because the account of the deposition of Richard II was held to be treasonable, the offence being aggravated by the dedication, in perfectly innocent terms, to the Earl of Essex. His work was thus checked till he met with encouragement from Henry, Prince of Wales, a patron of literature, of whom, though a mere youth, such men as Jonson, Chapman, and Raleigh, spoke with an enthusiasm that cannot be mistaken for flattery. Prince Henry saw the need of a worthy history of England. He therefore sent for Hayward to discuss the reasons with him:

Prince Henry ... sent for mee, a few monethes before his death. And at my second comming to his presence, among some other speeches, hee complained much of our Histories of England; and that the English Nation, which is inferiour to none in Honourable actions, should be surpassed by all, in leauing the memorie of them to posteritie....

I answered, that I conceiued these causes hereof; One, that men of sufficiencie were otherwise employed; either in publicke affaires, or in wrestling with the world, for maintenance or encrease of their private estates. Another is, for that men might safely write of others in maner of a tale, but in maner of a History, safely they could not: because, albeit they should write of men long since dead, and whose posteritie is cleane worne out; yet some aliue, finding themselues foule in those vices, which they see obserued, reproued, condemned in others; their guiltinesse maketh them apt to conceiue, that whatsoeuer the words are, the finger pointeth onely at them. The last is, for that the Argument of our English historie hath been so foiled heretofore by some unworthie writers, that men of qualitie may esteeme themselues discredited by dealing in it....

Then he questioned, whether I had wrote any part of our English Historie, other then that which had been published; which at that time he had in his hands. I answered, that I had wrote of certaine of our English Kings, by way of a briefe description of their liues: but for historie, I did principally bend, and binde my selfe to the times wherein I should liue; in which my owne obseruations might somewhat direct me: but as well in the one as in the other I had at that time perfected nothing.

The result of the interview was that Hayward proceeded to 'perfect somewhat of both sorts'. The brief description of the lives of the three Norman kings was in due course ordered to be published, and would have been dedicated to its real patron but for his untimely death; in dedicating it instead to Prince Charles, Hayward fortunately took the opportunity to relate his conversation with Prince Henry. How far he carried the other work is not certain; it survives in the fragment called The Beginning of the Raigne of Queene Elizabeth,[4] published after his death with The Life and Raigne of King Edward the Sixt. He might have brought it down to the reign of James. Had he been at liberty to follow his own wishes, he would have been the first Englishman to write a 'History of his own time'. But when an author incurred imprisonment for writing about the deposition of a sovereign, and when modern applications were read into accounts of what had happened long ago, the complexity of his own time was a dangerous if not a forbidden subject.

There is a passage to the same effect in the preface to The Historie of the World by Sir Walter Raleigh, who, unlike Hayward, willingly chose to be silent on what he knew best:

I know that it will bee said by many, That I might have beene more pleasing to the Reader, if I had written the Story of mine owne times; having been permitted to draw water as neare the Well-head as another. To this I answer, that who-so-ever in writing a moderne Historie, shall follow truth too neare the heeles, it may happily strike out his teeth. There is no Mistresse or Guide, that hath led her followers and servants into greater miseries.... It is enough for me (being in that state I am) to write of the eldest times: wherein also why may it not be said, that in speaking of the past, I point at the present, and taxe the vices of those that are yet lyving, in their persons that are long since dead; and have it laid to my charge? But this I cannot helpe, though innocent.

He wrote of remote ages, and contributed nothing to historical knowledge. But he enriched English literature with a 'just history', as distinct from annals and chronicles.[5] 'I am not altogether ignorant', he said, 'in the Lawes of Historie, and of the Kindes.' When we read his lives and commendations of the great men of antiquity as he pictured them, we cannot but regret that the same talents, the same overmastering interest in the eternal human problems, had not been employed in depicting men whom he had actually known. The other Elizabethan work that ranks with Raleigh's in its conception of the historian's office and in its literary excellence, deals with another country. It is the History of the Turks by Richard Knolles.

The character was definitely introduced into English literature when the historians took as their subjects contemporary or recent events at home, and, abandoning the methods of the chronicle, fashioned their work on classical models. Its introduction had been further prepared to some extent by the growing interest in lives, which, unlike chronicles that recorded events, recognized the part played by men in the control of events. In his Advancement of Learning Bacon regretted that Englishmen gave so little thought to describing the deeds and characters of their great countrymen. 'I do find strange', he said, 'that these times have so little esteemed the virtues of the times, as that the writing of lives should be no more frequent.' He and Hayward both wrote lives with the consciousness that their methods were new in English, though largely borrowed from the classics.[6] Hayward tried to produce a picture of the period he dealt with, and his means for procuring harmoniousness of design was to centre attention on the person of the sovereign. It is a conception of history not as a register of facts but as a representation of the national drama. His Henry IV gives the impression, especially by its speeches, that he looked upon history as resolving itself ultimately into a study of men; and it thus explains how he wished to be free to describe the times wherein he lived. He is on the whole earlier than Bacon, who wrote his Historie of the Reigne of King Henry the Seventh late in life, during the leisure that was forced on him by his removal from all public offices. Written to display the controlling policy in days that were 'rough, and full of mutations, and rare accidents', it is a study of the statecraft and character of a king who had few personal gifts and small capacity for a brilliant part, yet won by his ready wisdom the best of all praises that 'what he minded he compassed'. How he compassed it, is what interested Bacon. 'I have not flattered him,' he says, 'but took him to the life as well as I could, sitting so far off, and having no better light.' Would that Bacon had felt at liberty to choose those who sat near at hand. Who better than the writer of the Essays could have painted a series of miniatures of the courts of Elizabeth and James?

When at last the political upheaval of this century compelled men to leave, whether in histories, or memoirs, or biographies, a record of what they had themselves experienced, the character attained to its full importance and excellence. 'That posterity may not be deceaved by the prosperous wickednesse of these tymes, into an opinyon, that lesse then a generall combination and universall apostacy in the whole Nacion from their religion and allegiaunce could in so shorte a tyme have produced such a totall and prodigious alteration and confusion over the whole kingdome, and so the memory of those few who out of duty and conscience have opposed and resisted that Torrent which hath overwhelmed them, may loose the recompence dew to ther virtue, and havinge undergone the injuryes and reproches of this, may not finde a vindication in a better Age'—in these words Clarendon began his History of the Rebellion. But he could not vindicate the memory of his political friends without describing the men who had overcome them. The history of these confused and difficult years would not be properly understood if the characters of all the chief actors in the tragic drama were not known. For to Clarendon history was the record of the struggle of personalities. When we are in the midst of a crisis, or view it from too near a distance, it is natural for us to think of it as a fight between the opposing leaders, and the historians of their own time are always liable to attribute to the personal force of a statesman what is due to general causes of which he is only the instrument. Of these general causes Clarendon took little account. 'Motives which influenced masses of men', it has been said, 'escape his appreciation, and the History of the Rebellion is accordingly an account of the Puritan Revolution which is unintelligible because the part played by Puritanism is misunderstood or omitted altogether'.[7] But the History of the Rebellion is a Stuart portrait gallery, and the greatest portrait gallery in the English language.

[Footnote 1: Book II, ed. Aldis Wright, pp. 92-5.]

[Footnote 2: 'Historae nostrae particulam quidam non male: sed qui totum corpus ea fide, eaque dignitate scriptis complexus sit, quam suscepti operis magnitudo postularet, hactenus plane neminem extitisse constat.... Nostri ex faece plebis historici, dum maiestatem tanti operis ornare studuerunt, putidissimis ineptiis contaminarunt. Ita factum est nescio qua huiusce insulae infoelicitate, ut maiores tui, (serenissima Regina) viri maximi, qui magnam huius orbis nostri partem imperio complexi, omnes sui temporis reges rerum gestarum gloria facile superarunt, magnorum ingeniorum quasi lumine destituti, iaceant ignoti, & delitescant.']

[Footnote 3: Critical Essays of the Seventeenth Century, ed. Spingarn, vol. i, pp. 82-115.]

[Footnote 4: See also Camden Society Publications, No. 7, 1840.]

[Footnote 5: Roger Ascham in his Scholemaster divides History into 'Diaria', 'Annales', 'Commentaries', and 'Iustam Historiam'.]

[Footnote 6: Bacon told Queen Elizabeth that there was no treason in Hayward's Henry IV, but 'very much felony', because Hayward 'had stolen many of his sentences and conceits out of Cornelius Tacitus' (Apophthegms, 58). Hayward and Bacon had a precursor in the author of The History of King Richard the Thirde, generally attributed to Sir Thomas More, and printed in the collection of his works published in 1557. It was known to the chroniclers, but it did not affect the writing of history. Nor did George Cavendish's Life and Death of Thomas Wolsey, which they likewise used for its facts.]

[Footnote 7: C.H. Firth, 'Burnet as a Historian', in Clarke and Foxcroft's Life of Gilbert Burnet, 1907, pp. xliv, xlv.]

II. The Literary Models.

The authentic models for historical composition were in Greek and Latin. Much as our literature in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries owed to the classics, the debt was nowhere more obvious, and more fully acknowledged, than in our histories. The number of translations is in itself remarkable. Many of them, and notably the greatest of all, North's Plutarch, belong to the early part of Elizabeth's reign, but they became more frequent at the very time when the inferiority of our native works was engaging attention.[1] By the middle of the seventeenth century the great classical historians could all be read in English. It was not through translation, however, that their influence was chiefly exercised.

The classical historians who were best known were Thucydides, Polybius, and Plutarch among the Greeks, and Sallust, Livy, Tacitus, and Suetonius among the Latins; and the former group were not so well known as the latter. It was recognized that in Thucydides, to use Hobbes's words, 'the faculty of writing history is at the highest.'[2] But Thucydides was a difficult author, and neither he nor Polybius exerted the same direct influence as the Latin historians who had imitated them, or learned from them. Most of what can be traced ultimately to the Greeks came to England in the seventeenth century through Latin channels. Every educated man had been trained in Latin, and was as familiar with it for literary purposes as with his native tongue. Further, the main types of history—the history of a long period of years, the history of recent events, and the biographical history—were all so admirably represented in Latin that it was not necessary to go to Greek for a model. In one respect Latin could claim pre-eminence. It might possess no single passage greater than the character study of Pericles or of the Athenians by Thucydides, but it developed the character study into a recognized and clearly defined element in historical narrative. Livy provided a pattern of narrative on a grand scale. For 'exquisite eloquence' he was held not to have his equal.[3] But of all the Latin historians, Tacitus had the greatest influence. 'There is no learning so proper for the direction of the life of man as Historie; there is no historie so well worth the reading as Tacitus. Hee hath written the most matter with best conceit in fewest words of any Historiographer ancient or moderne.'[4] This had been said at the beginning of the first English translation of Tacitus, and it was the view generally held when he came to be better known. He appealed to Englishmen of the seventeenth century like no other historian. They felt the human interest of a narrative based on what the writer had experienced for himself; and they found that its political wisdom could be applied, or even applied itself spontaneously, to their own circumstances. They were widely read in the classics. They knew how Plutarch depicted character in his Lives, and Cicero in his Speeches. They knew all the Latin historians. But when they wrote their own characters their chief master was Tacitus.

* * * * *

Continental historians provided the incentive of rivalry. They too were the pupils of the Ancients, and taught nothing that might not be learned equally well or better from their masters, but they invited the question why England should be behind Italy, France, or the Low Countries in worthy records of its achievements. In their own century, Thuanus, Davila, Bentivoglio, Strada, and Grotius set the standard for modern historical composition. Jacques Auguste de Thou, or Thuanus, wrote in Latin a history of his own time in 138 books. He intended to complete it in 143 books with the assassination of Henri IV in 1610, but his labours were interrupted by his death in 1617. The collected edition of his monumental work was issued in 1620 under the title Iacobi Augusti Thuani Historiarum sui temporis ab anno 1543 usque ad annum 1607 Libri CXXXVIII. Enrico Caterino Davila dealt with the affairs of France from Francis II to Henri IV in his Historia delle guerre civili di Francia, published in 1630. Cardinal Guido Bentivoglio described the troubles in the Low Countries in his Della Guerra di Fiandra, published from 1632 to 1639. Famianus Strada wrote on the same subject in Latin; the first part of his De Bella Belgico, which was meant to cover the period from 1555 to 1590 but was not completed, appeared in 1632, and the second in 1647. Hugo Grotius, the great Dutch scholar, had long been engaged on his Annales et Historiae de Rebus Belgicis when he died in 1640; it was brought out by his sons in 1657, and contained five books of Annals from 1566 to 1588, and eighteen books of Histories to 1609. These five historians were well known in England, and were studied for their method as well as their matter. Burnet took Thuanus as his model. 'I have made him ', he says, 'my pattern in writing.'[5] The others are discussed by Clarendon in a long passage of his essay 'On an Active and on a Contemplative Life'.[6] He there develops the view, not without reference to his own history, that 'there was never yet a good History written but by men conversant in business, and of the best and most liberal education'; and he illustrates it by comparing the histories of his four contemporaries:

Two of these are by so much preferable before the other Two, that the first may worthily stand by the Sides of the best of the Ancients, whilst both the others must be placed under them; and a Man, without knowing more of them, may by reading their Books find the Difference between their Extractions, their Educations, their Conversations, and their Judgment. The first Two are Henry D'Avila and Cardinal Bentivoglio, both Italians of illustrious Birth; ... they often set forth and describe the same Actions with very pleasant and delightful Variety; and commonly the greatest Persons they have occasion to mention were very well known to them both, which makes their Characters always very lively. Both their Histories are excellent, and will instruct the ablest and wisest Men how to write, and terrify them from writing. The other Two were Hugo Grotius and Famianus Strada, who both wrote in Latin upon the same Argument, and of the same Time, of the Wars of Flanders, and of the Low-Countries.

He proceeds to show that Grotius, with all his learning and abilities, and with all his careful revisions, had not been able to give his narrative enough life and spirit; it was deficient in 'a lively Representation of Persons and Actions, which makes the Reader present at all they say or do'. The whole passage, which is too long to be quoted in full, is not more valuable as a criticism than as an indication of his own aims, and of his equipment to realize them. Some years earlier, when he was still thinking 'with much agony' about the method he was to employ in his own history, he had cited the methods of Davila, 'who', he added, 'I think hath written as ours should be written.'[7]

One of Clarendon's tests of a good history, it will be noted, is the 'lively representation of persons'; the better writers are distinguished by making 'their characters always very lively'. In his own hands, and in Burnet's, the character assumes even greater importance than the continental historians had given it. At every opportunity Clarendon leaves off his narrative of events to describe the actors in the great drama, and Burnet introduces his main subject with what is in effect an account of his dramatis personae. They excel in the range and variety of their characters. But they had studied the continental historians, and the encouragement of example must not be forgotten.

* * * * *

The debt to French literature can easily be overstated. No French influence is discoverable in the origin and rise of the English character, nor in its form or manner; but its later development may have been hastened by French example, especially during the third quarter of the seventeenth century.

France was the home of the memoire, the personal record in which the individual portrays himself as the centre of his world, and describes events and persons in the light of his own experience. It was established as a characteristic form of French literature in the sixteenth century,[8] and it reached its full vigour and variety in the century of Sully, Rohan, Richelieu, Tallemant des Reaux, Bassompierre, Madame de Motteville, Mlle de Montpensier, La Rochefoucauld, Villars, Cardinal de Retz, Bussy-Rabutin—to name but a few. This was the age of the memoire, always interesting, often admirably written; and, as might be expected, sometimes exhibiting the art of portraiture at perfection. The English memoir is comparatively late. The word, in the sense of a narrative of personal recollections, was borrowed at the Restoration. The thing itself, under other names, is older. It is a branch of history that flourishes in stirring and difficult times when men believe themselves to have special information about hidden forces that directed the main current of events, and we date it in this country from the period of the Civil Wars. It is significant that when Shaftesbury in his old age composed his short and fragmentary autobiography he began by saying, 'I in this follow the French fashion, and write my own memoirs.' Even Swift, when publishing Temple's Memoirs, said that ''tis to the French (if I mistake not) we chiefly owe that manner of writing; and Sir William Temple is not only the first, but I think the only Englishman (at least of any consequence) who ever attempted it.' Few English memoirs were then in print, whereas French memoirs were to be numbered by dozens. But the French fashion is not to be regarded as an importation into English literature, supplying what had hitherto been lacking. At most it stimulated what already existed.

The memoire was not the only setting for French portraits at this time. There were the French romances, and notably the Artamene ou le Grand Cyrus and the Clelie of Madeleine de Scudery. The full significance of the Grand Cyrus has been recovered for modern readers by Victor Cousin, with great skill and charm, in his Societe francaise au XVIIe siecle, where he has shown it to be, 'properly speaking, a history in portraits'. The characters were drawn from familiar figures in French society. 'Ainsi s'explique', says Cousin, 'l'immense succes du Cyrus dans le temps ou il parut. C'etait une galerie des portraits vrais et frappants, mais un peu embellis, ou tout ce qu'il y avait de plus illustre en tout genre—princes, courtisans, militaires, beaux-esprits, et surtout jolies femmes—allaient se chercher et se reconnaissaient avec un plaisir inexprimable.'[9] It was easy to attack these romances. Boileau made fun of them because the classical names borne by the characters were so absurdly at variance with the matter of the stories.[10] But instead of giving, as he said, a French air and spirit to Greece and Rome, Madeleine de Scudery only gave Greek and Roman names to France as she knew it. The names were a transparent disguise that was not meant to conceal the picture of fashionable society.

The next stage was the portrait by itself, without any setting. At the height of the popularity of the romances, Mlle de Montpensier hit upon a new kind of entertainment for the talented circle of which she was the brilliant centre. It was nothing more nor less than a paper game. They drew each other, or persons whom they knew, or themselves, and under their real names. And they played the game so well that what was written for amusement was worth printing. Divers Portraits, Imprimes en l'annee M DC LIX was the simple title of the first collection, which was intended only for the contributors.[11] When it reached its final form in 1663, it contained over a hundred and fifty portraits, and was offered to the public as La Galerie des Peintures, ou Recueil des portraits et eloges en vers et en prose, contenant les portraits du Roy, de la Reyne, des princes, princesses, duchesses, marquises, comtesses, et autres seigneurs et dames les plus illustres de France; la plupart composes par eux-memes.[12] The introductory defence of the portrait cites Suetonius and Plutarch, and Horace and Montaigne, but also states frankly the true original of the new fashion—'il faut avouer que nous sommes tres redevables au Cyrus et a la Clelie qui nous en ont fourni les modeles.' About the same time Antoine Baudeau, sieur de Somaize, brought out his Grand Dictionnaire des Precieuses,[13] in which there are many portraits in the accepted manner. The portrait was more than a fashion at this time in France; it was the rage. It therefore invited the satirists. Moliere has a passing jest at them in his Precieuses Ridicules;[14] Charles Sorel published his Description de I'isle de la Portraiture et de la ville des Portraits; and Boileau wrote his Heros de Roman.

The effects of all this in England are certainly not obvious. It is quite a tenable view that the English characters would have been no less numerous, nor in any way different in quality, had every Englishman been ignorant of French. But the memoires and romances were well known, and it was after 1660 that the art of the character attained its fullest excellence. The literary career of Clarendon poses the question in a simple form. Most of his characters, and the best as a whole, were written at Montpelier towards the close of his life. Did he find in French literature an incentive to indulge and perfect his natural bent? Yet there can be no conclusive answer to those who find a sufficient explanation in the leisure of these unhappy years, and in the solace that comes to chiefs out of war and statesmen out of place in ruminating on their experiences and impressions.

* * * * *

Something may have been learned also from the other kind of character that is found at its best in modern literature in the seventeenth century, the character derived from Theophrastus, and depicting not the individual but the type. In France, the one kind led on to the other. The romances of Scudery prepared the way for the Caracteres ou les Moeurs de ce Siecle of La Bruyere. When the fashionable portrait of particular persons fell out of favour, there arose in its place the description of dispositions and temperaments; and in the hands of La Bruyere 'the manners of the century' were the habits and varieties of human nature. In England the two kinds existed side by side. They correspond to the two methods of the drama. Begin with the individual, but draw him in such a way that we recognize in him our own or others' qualities; or begin with the qualities shared by classes of people, embody these in a person who stands for the greatest common measure of the class, and finally—and only then—let him take on his distinctive traits: these are methods which are not confined to the drama, and at all stages of our literature have lived in helpful rivalry. Long before France had her La Bruyere, England had her Hall, Overbury, and Earle.[15] The Theophrastan character was at its best in this country at the beginning of the seventeenth century when the historical character was still in its early stages; and it was declining when the historical character had attained its full excellence. They cannot always be clearly distinguished, and they are sometimes purposely blended, as in Butler's character of 'A Duke of Bucks,' where the satire on a man of pronounced individuality is heightened by describing his eccentricities as if they belonged to a recognized class.

The great lesson that the Theophrastan type of character could teach was the value of balance and unity. A haphazard statement of features and habits and peculiarities might suffice for a sketch, but perspective and harmony were necessary to a finished portrait. It taught that the surest method in depicting character was first to conceive the character as a whole, and then to introduce detail incidentally and in proper subordination. But the same lesson could have been learned elsewhere. It might have been learned from the English drama.

[Footnote 1: North's Plutarch went into five editions between 1579 and 1631; Thucydides was translated by Hobbes in 1629, and Polybius by Edward Grimeston in 1633; Xenophon's Anabasis was translated by John Bingham in 1623, and the Cyropaedia by Philemon Holland in 1632; Arthur Golding's version of Caesar's Gallic War was several times reprinted between 1565 and 1609; Philemon Holland, the translator-general of the age, as Fuller called him, brought out his Livy in 1600, and his Suetonius in 1606; Sallust was translated by Thomas Heywood in 1608, and by William Crosse in 1629; Velleius Paterculus was 'rendred English by Sir Robert Le Grys' in 1632; and by 1640 there had been six editions of Sir Henry Savile's Histories and Agricola of Tacitus, first published in 1591, and five editions of Richard Grenewey's Annals and Germany, first published in 1598. See H.R. Palmer's English Editions and Translations of Greek and Latin Classics printed before 1641, Bibliographical Society, 1911.]

[Footnote 2: 'Thucydides ... in whom (I beleeve with many others) the Faculty of writing History is at the Highest.' Thucydides, 1629, 'To the Readers.']

[Footnote 3: Philemon Holland's Livy, 1600, 'Dedication to Elizabeth.']

[Footnote 4: Sir Henry Savile's Tacitus, 1591, 'A.B. To the Reader.']

[Footnote 5: Supplement to Burnet's History, ed. H.C. Foxcroft, p. 451.]

[Footnote 6: In 'Reflections upon Several Christian Duties, Divine and Moral, by Way of Essays', printed in A Collection of several Tracts of Edward Earl of Clarendon, 1727, pp. 80-1.]

[Footnote 7: Letter to the Earl of Bristol, February 1, 1646 (State Papers, vol. ii, p. 334). Davila was very well known in England—better, it would appear, than the other three—and was credited with being more than a mere literary model. Clarendon says that from his account of the civil wars of France 'no question our Gamesters learned much of their play'. Sir Philip Warwick, after remarking that Hampden was well read in history, tells us that the first time he ever saw Davila's book it was lent to him 'under the title of Mr. Hambden's Vade Mecum' (Memoires, 1701, p. 240). A translation was published by the authority of the Parliament in 1647-8. Translations of Strada, Bentivoglio, and Grotius followed in 1650, 1654, and 1665. Only parts of Thuanus were translated. The size of his history was against a complete version.]

[Footnote 8: See the Memoires of Monluc, Brantome, La Noue, &c. The fifty-two volumes in Petitot's incomplete series entitled Collection des Memoires relatifs a l'histoire de France jusqu'au commencement du dix-septieme siecle show at a glance the remarkable richness of French literature in the memoire at an early date.]

[Footnote 9: La Societe francaise au XVIIe siecle, 1858 vol. i, p. 7. The 'key' drawn up in 1657 is printed as an appendix.]

[Footnote 10: Art poetique, iii. 115-18.]

[Footnote 11: Cousin, Madame de Sable, 1854, pp. 42-8.]

[Footnote 12: Edited by Edouard de Barthelemy in 1860 under the title La Galerie des Portraits de Mademoiselle de Montpensier.]

[Footnote 13: Edited by Ch. Livet, 1856 (Bibliotheque Elzevirienne. 2 vols.).]

[Footnote 14: Sc. x, where Madelon says 'Je vous avoue que je suis furieusement pour les portraits: je ne vois rien de si galant que cela', and Mascarille replies, 'Les portraits sont difficiles, et demandent un esprit profond: vous en verrez de ma maniere qui ne vous deplairont pas.']

[Footnote 15: Joseph Hall's Characters of Vertues and Vices appeared in 1608 Overbury's Characters 1614-22. For Earle, see pp. 168-70.]

III. Clarendon.

Clarendon's History of the Rebellion and Civil Wars in England is made up of two works composed with different purposes and at a distance of twenty years. The first, which may be called the 'Manuscript History', belongs to 1646-8; the second, the 'Manuscript Life', to 1668-70. They were combined to form the History as we now read it in 1671, when new sections were added to give continuity and to complete the narrative. On Clarendon's death in 1674 the manuscripts passed to his two sons, Henry Hyde, second Earl of Clarendon, and Laurence Hyde, Earl of Rochester; and under the supervision of the latter a transcript of the History was made for the printers. The work was published at Oxford in three handsome folio volumes in 1702, 1703, and 1704, and became the property of the University. The portions of the 'Manuscript Life' which Clarendon had not incorporated in the History as being too personal, were published by the University in 1759, under the title The Life of Edward Earl of Clarendon, and were likewise printed from a transcript.[1]

The original manuscripts, now also in the possession of the University of which Clarendon's family were such generous benefactors, enable us to fix the dates of composition. We know whether a part belongs originally to the 'Manuscript History' or the 'Manuscript Life', or whether it was pieced in later. More than this, Clarendon every now and again inserts the month and the day on which he began or ended a section. We can thus trace the stages by which his great work was built up, and learn how his art developed. We can also judge how closely the printed texts represent what Clarendon had written. The old controversy on the authenticity of the first edition has long been settled.[2] The original editors did their work faithfully according to the editorial standards of their day; and they were well within the latitude allowed them by the terms of Clarendon's instructions when they occasionally omitted a passage, or when they exercised their somewhat prim and cautious taste in altering and polishing phrases that Clarendon had dashed down as quickly as his pen could move.[3] Later editors have restored the omitted passages and scrupulously reproduced Clarendon's own words. But no edition has yet reproduced his spelling. In the characters printed in this volume the attempt is made, for the first time it is believed, to represent the original manuscripts accurately to the letter.[4]

On the defeat of the last Royalist army in Cornwall in February 1646 it was necessary to provide for the safety of Prince Charles, and Clarendon, in these days Sir Edward Hyde, accompanied him when on the night of March 2 he set sail for Scilly. They arrived in Scilly on March 4, and there they remained till April 16, when the danger of capture by the Parliamentary fleet compelled them to make good their escape to Jersey. It is a remarkable testimony to the vigour of Clarendon's mind that even in the midst of this crisis he should have been able to begin his History. He began it in Scilly on March 18, 1646—the date is at the head of his manuscript; and once he was settled in Jersey he immediately resumed it. But in writing his History he did not, in these days, think of himself only as an historian. He was a trusted adviser of the defeated party, and he planned his faithful narrative of what he knew so well not solely to vindicate the character and conduct of the King, but also with the immediate purpose of showing how the disasters had been brought out, and, by implication, how further disaster might be avoided. The proof of this is to be found not in the History itself, where he seems to have his eye only on 'posterity' and 'a better age', but in his correspondence. In a letter written to Sir Edward Nicholas, the King's secretary, on November 15, 1646, Clarendon spoke of his History at some length:

As soon as I found myself alone, I thought the best way to provide myself for new business against the time I should be called to it (for, Mr. Secretary, you and I must once again to business) was to look over the faults of the old; and so I resolved (which you know I threatned you with long ago) to write the history of these evil times, and of this most lovely Rebellion. Well; without any other help than a few diurnals I have wrote of longer paper than this, and in the same fine small hand, above threescore sheets of paper.... I write with all fidelity and freedom of all I know, of persons and things, and the oversights and omissions on both sides, in order to what they desired; so that you will believe it will make mad work among friends and foes, if it were published; but out of it enough may be chosen to make a perfect story, and the original kept for their perusal, who may be the wiser for knowing the most secret truths; and you know it will be an easier matter to blot out two sheets, than to write half an one. If I live to finish it (as on my conscience I shall, for I write apace), I intend to seal it up, and have it always with me. If I die, I appoint it to be delivered to you, to whose care (with a couple of good fellows more) I shall leave it; that either of you dying, you may so preserve it, that in due time somewhat by your care may be published, and the original be delivered to the King, who will not find himself flattered in it, nor irreverently handled: though, the truth will better suit a dead than a living man. Three hours a day I assign to this writing task; the rest to other study and books; so I doubt not after seven years time in this retirement, you will find me a pretty fellow.[5]

From this, as from other passages in his letters, Clarendon's first intentions are clear. The History was to be a repository of authentic information on 'this most lovely Rebellion', constructed with the specifically didactic purpose of showing the King and his advisers what lessons were to be learned from their errors; they would be 'the wiser for knowing the most secret truths'. At first he looked on his work as containing the materials of a 'perfect story', but as he proceeded his ambitions grew. He had begun to introduce characters; and when in the spring of 1647 he was about to write his first character of Lord Falkland, he had come to the view that 'the preservation of the fame and merit of persons, and deriving the same to posterity, is no less the business of history than the truth of things'.[6] He gave much thought to the character of Falkland, 'whom the next age shall be taught', he was determined, 'to value more than the present did.'[7] Concurrently with the introduction of characters he paid more attention to the literary, as distinct from the didactic, merits of his work. We find him comparing himself with other historians, and considering what Livy and Tacitus would have done in like circumstances. By the spring of 1648 he had brought down his narrative to the opening of the campaign of 1644. Earlier in the year he had been commanded by the King to be ready to rejoin Prince Charles, and shortly afterwards he received definite instructions from the Queen to attend on her and the Prince at Paris. He left Jersey in June, and with his re-entry into active politics his History was abruptly ended. The seven years of retirement which he had anticipated were cut down by the outbreak of the Second Civil War to two; and within a year the King for whose benefit he had begun this History was led to the scaffold. Not for twenty years was Clarendon again to have the leisure to be an historian. When in 1668 he once more took up his pen, it was not a continuation of the first work, but an entirely new work, that came in steady flow from the abundance of his knowledge.

Clarendon returned to England as Lord Chancellor in 1660, and for seven years enjoyed the power which he had earned by ceaseless devotion to his two royal masters. The ill success of the war with the Dutch, jealousy of his place and influence, the spiteful opposition of the King's chief mistress, and the King's own resentment at an attitude that showed too little deference and imprudently suggested the old relations of tutor and pupil, all combined to bring about his fall. He fled from England on November 30, 1667, and was never to set foot in England again. Broken in health and spirit, he sought in vain for many months a resting-place in France, and not till July 1668 did he find a new home at Montpelier. Here his health improved, and here he remained till June 1671. These were busy years of writing, and by far the greater portion of his published work, if his letters and state papers be excluded, belongs to this time. First of all he answered the charge of high treason brought against him by the House of Commons in A Discourse, by Way of Vindication of my self, begun on July 24, 1668; he wrote most of his Reflections upon Several Christian Duties, Divine and Moral, a collection of twenty-five essays, some of considerable length, on subjects largely suggested by his own circumstances; and he completed between December 1668 and February 1671 his Contemplations and Reflections upon the Psalms of David, an elaborate exposition extending to well over four hundred folio pages of print, which he had begun at Jersey in 1647. But his great work at this time was his Life, begun on July 23, 1668, and brought down to 1660 by August 1, 1670. It is by far the most elaborate autobiography that had yet been attempted in English. The manuscript consists of over six hundred pages, and each page contains on an average about a thousand words. He wrote with perfect freedom, for this work, unlike the earlier History, was not intended for the eyes of the King, and the didactic days were over. He wrote too with remarkable ease. The very appearance of the manuscript, where page follows page with hardly an erasure, and the 'fine hand' becomes finer and finer, conveys even a sense of relief and pleasure. His pen seems to move of itself and the long and elaborate sentences to evolve of their own free will. The story of his life became a loose framework into which he could fit all that he wished to tell of his own times; and the more he told, his vindication would be the more complete. 'Even unawares', he admitted, 'many things are inserted not so immediately applicable to his own person, which possibly may hereafter, in some other method, be communicated to the world.'[8] He welcomed the opportunity to tell all that he knew. There was no reason for reticence. He wrote of men as of things frankly as he knew them. More than a history of the Rebellion, his Life is also a picture of the society in which he had moved. It is the work which contains most of his characters.[9]

His early History had been left behind in England on his sudden flight. For about four years he was debarred from all intercourse with his family, but in 1671 the royal displeasure so far relaxed that his second son, Laurence, was granted a pass to visit him, and he brought the manuscript that had been left untouched for twenty years. They met in June at Moulins, which was to be Clarendon's home till April 1674. Once the old and the new work were both in his hands, he cast his great History of the Rebellion in its final form, and thus 'finished the work which his heart was most set upon'. In June 1672 he turned to the 'Continuation of his Life', which deals with his Chancellorship and his fall, and was not intended 'ever for a public view, or for more than the information of his children'. As its conclusion shows, it was his last work to be completed, but while engaged on it he found time to write much else, including his reply to Hobbes's Leviathan. 'In all this retirement', he could well say, in a passage which reads like his obituary, 'he was very seldom vacant, and then only when he was under some sharp visitation of the gout, from reading excellent books, or writing some animadversions and exercitations of his own, as appears by the papers and notes which he left.' The activity of these years of banishment is remarkable in a man who had turned sixty and had passed through about thirty years of continuous storm. His intellectual vitality was unimpaired. The old English jollity that Evelyn had remarked in him in happier if more difficult days had gone, but the even temper from which it had sprung still remained. He was at his best as a writer then; writing was never an effort to him, but in his exile it was an exercise and recreation. He could have said with Dryden that 'what judgment I had increases rather than diminishes; and thoughts, such as they are, come crowding in so fast upon me, that my only difficulty is to choose or to reject'.

He was still in hopes that he would be allowed to return to England, to die in his own country and among his children. 'Seven years', he said, 'was a time prescribed and limited by God himself for the expiration of some of his greatest judgements.'[10] In the seventh year of his banishment he left Moulins for Rouen, so as to be nearer home. His hopes were vain. He died at Rouen on December 9, 1674.[11] His body was brought to England for burial in Westminster.

* * * * *

Clarendon had been interested in the study of character all his life. His earliest work was 'The Difference and Disparity between the Estates and Conditions of George Duke of Buckingham and Robert Earl of Essex'. Sir Henry Wotton had written observations on these statesmen 'by way of parallel', and Clarendon pointed out as a sequel wherein they differed. It is a somewhat laboured composition in comparison with his later work, a young man's careful essay that lacks the confidence that comes with experience, but it shows at an early stage the talents which knowledge and practice were to develop into mastery. The school in which he learned most was the circle of his friends. Few men can have owed more to their friends than he did, or have been more generous in acknowledging the debt. He tells us he was often heard to say that 'next the immediate blessing and providence of God Almighty, which had preserved him throughout the whole course of his life (less strict than it ought to have been) from many dangers and disadvantages, in which many other young men were lost, he owed all the little he knew, and the little good that was in him, to the friendships and conversation he had still been used to, of the most excellent men in their several kinds that lived in that age; by whose learning, and information, and instruction, he formed his studies, and mended his understanding, and by whose gentleness and sweetness of behaviour, and justice, and virtue, and example, he formed his manners, subdued that pride and suppressed that heat and passion he was naturally inclined to be transported with.' He used often to say, he continues, that 'he never was so proud, or thought himself so good a man, as when he was the worst man in the company'. He cultivated his friendships, it is true, with an eye to his advancement; but it is equally true that he had a nature which invited friendships. He enjoyed to the full the pleasure of living and seeing others live, and a great part of his pleasure consisted in observing how men differed in their habits and foibles. He tells how Ben Jonson did not understand why young Mr. Hyde should neglect the delights of his company at the call of business; how Selden, with all his stupendous learning, was never more studious of anything than his ease; how Earle gave a wrong impression by the negligence of his dress and mien, whereas no man was more wary and cultivated in his behaviour and discourse; how Chillingworth argued for the pleasure of arguing and thereby irritated his friends and at last grew confident of nothing; how Hales, great in scholarship but diminutive in stature, liked to be by himself but had a very open and pleasant conversation in congenial company; how Waller nursed his reputation for ready wit by seeming to speak on the sudden what he had thoroughly considered. In all his accounts of the friends of his youth Clarendon is in the background, but we picture him moving among them at ease, conscious of his inferiority in learning and brilliance and the gentler virtues, yet trusting to his own judgement, and convinced that every man worth knowing has a pronounced individuality. In these happy and irresponsible days, when he numbered poets among his friends, he himself wrote poetry. Little of it is preserved. He contributed introductory verses to Davenant's Albovine, and composed verses on the death of Donne. His poetry was well enough known for Dryden to allude to it during his Lord Chancellorship, in the address presented to him at the height of his power in 1662:

The Muses, who your early Courtship boast, Though now your Flames are with their Beauty lost, Yet watch their Time, that if you have forgot They were your Mistresses, the world may not.

But first the law claimed him, and then politics, and then came the Civil War. As Privy Councillor and Chancellor of the Exchequer he was in the thick of the conflict. The men whom he had now to study were men of affairs. He had the clear and unimpassioned vision which often goes with a warm temperament, and could scrutinize his friends without endangering his affection for them. However deeply his feelings might be engaged, he had taken a pleasure in trying to see them exactly as they were. When he came to judge his political enemies he continued the same attitude of detachment, and studiously cultivated it. 'I am careful', he said in a private letter,[12] 'to do justice to every man who hath fallen in the quarrel, on which side soever.' 'I know myself', he said in the History,[13] 'to be very free from any of those passions which naturally transport men with prejudice towards the persons whom they are obliged to mention, and whose actions they are at liberty to censure.' It was beyond human nature for a man who had lived through what he did to be completely unprejudiced. He did not always scrupulously weigh what he knew would be to the discredit of the Parliamentary leaders, nor did he ignore mere Royalist rumour, as in the character of Pym. But his characters of them are often more favourable than might have been expected. He may show his personal dislike, or even his sense of their crime, but behind this he permits us to see the qualities which contributed to their success. There can be no reasonable objection to his characters of Hampden and Cromwell. Political partisans find them disappointing, and they are certainly not the final verdict. The worst that can be said of them is that they are drawn from a wrong point of view; but from that point of view their honesty is unquestionable. He does not distinguish men by their party. The folly of his own side is exhibited as relentlessly as the knavery of his opponents. Of no one did he write a more unfavourable character than the Earl of Arundel. He explains the failure of Laud, and he does not conceal the weakness of Charles.

There is a broad distinction between his earlier and later characters. While he was still in the midst of the conflict and hoped to influence it by stating what he knew, he depicted the individual in relation to events. When the conflict was over and he was at leisure to draw on his recollections, he made the individual to a greater degree the representative of the type. But the distinction is not clearly marked, and Clarendon may not have suspected it. His habitual detachment was assisted by his exile. The displeasure of his ungrateful master, from whom he had never been separated during seventeen difficult years, had proved the vanity of the little things of life. He looked at men from a distance that obscures what is insignificant, and shows only the essential.

All his characters are clearly defined. We never confound them; we never have any doubt of how he understood them. He sees men as a whole before he begins to describe them, and then his only difficulty, as his manuscripts show, is to make his pen move fast enough. He does not build up his characters. He does not, as many others do, start with the external features in the hope of arriving at the central facts. He starts from the centre and works outwards. This is the reason of the convincingness of his characters, their dramatic truth. The dramatic sense in him is stronger than the pictorial.

He troubles little about personal appearance, or any of the traits which would enable us to visualize his men. We understand them rather than see them. Hampden, he tells us, was 'of a most civil and affable deportment' and had 'a flowing courtesy to all men', a 'rare temper and modesty'; it is Sir Philip Warwick who speaks of the 'scurf commonly on his face'.[14] He says that the younger Vane 'had an unusual aspect', and leaves us wondering what was unusual. His Falkland is an exception, but he adopted a different scale when describing his greatest friend and only hero. Each of his two accounts of Falkland is in fact a brief biography rather than a character; the earliest of them, written shortly after Falkland's death, he once thought of making into a volume by itself. In his characters proper he confines himself more strictly than any other writer to matters of character. They are characters rather than portraits.

But portraiture was one of his passions, though he left its practice to the painters. He adorned his houses with the likenesses of his friends. It was fitting that our greatest character writer should have formed one of the great collections of pictures of 'wits, poets, philosophers, famous and learned Englishmen'.[15] To describe them on paper, and to contrive that they should look down on him from his walls, were different ways of indulging the same keen and tireless interest in the life amid which he moved.

[Footnote 1: For a detailed examination of the composition and value of Clarendon's History see the three articles by Professor C.H. Firth in The English Historical Review for 1904. No student of Clarendon can ever afford to neglect them.]

[Footnote 2: See No. 33, introductory note.]

[Footnote 3: See No. 6, introductory note, and No. 36, p. 140, II. 17-22 note.]

[Footnote 4: Contractions have been expanded. The punctuation of the original is slight, and it has been found desirable occasionally to insert commas, where seventeenth century printers would have inserted them; but the run of the sentences has not been disturbed. In modernized versions Clarendon's long sentences are sometimes needlessly subdivided.]

[Footnote 5: State Papers, 1773, vol. ii, pp. 288-9.]

[Footnote 6: Letter of March 16, 1647; infra p. 275.]

[Footnote 7: Letter of January 8, 1647; T.H. Lister, Life of Clarendon, 1837, vol. iii, p. 43.]

[Footnote 8: Ed. 1857, part 1, Sec. 85; omitted in the edition of 1759.]

[Footnote 9: Of the thirty-seven characters by Clarendon in this volume, twenty-seven are from the 'Manuscript Life'.]

[Footnote 10: State Papers, 1786, vol. iii, supp., p. xlv.]

[Footnote 11: Clarendon's lifetime coincided almost exactly with Milton's. He was two months younger than Milton, and died one month later.]

[Footnote 12: December 14, 1647; infra p. 275.]

[Footnote 13: Book ix, ad init.; ed. Macray, vol. iv, p. 3.]

[Footnote 14: See note, p. 129, ll. 22 ff.]

[Footnote 15: Evelyn's Diary, December 20, 1668. See the account of 'The Clarendon Gallery' in Lady Theresa Lewis's Lives of the friends of Clarendon, 1852, vol. i, pp. 15* ff., and vol. iii, pp. 241 ff.]

IV. Other Character Writers.

When Clarendon's History was at last made public, no part of it was more frequently discussed, or more highly praised, than its characters—'so just', said Evelyn, 'and tempered without the least ingredient of passion or tincture of revenge, yet with such natural and lively touches as show his lordship well knew not only the persons' outsides, but their very interiors.'[1] About the same time, and probably as a consequence of the publication of Clarendon's work, Bishop Burnet proceeded to put into its final form the History on which he had been engaged since 1683. He gave special attention to his characters, some of which he entirely rewrote. They at once invited comparison with Clarendon's, and first impressions, then as now, were not in their favour. 'His characters are miserably wrought,' said Swift.[2]

Burnet was in close touch with the political movements of his time. 'For above thirty years,' he wrote, 'I have lived in such intimacy with all who have had the chief conduct of affairs, and have been so much trusted, and on so many important occasions employed by them, that I have been able to penetrate far into the true secrets of counsels and designs.'[3] He had a retentive memory, and a full share of worldly wisdom. But he was not an artist like Clarendon. His style has none of the sustained dignity, the leisurely evolution, which in Clarendon is so strangely at variance with the speed of composition. All is stated, nothing suggested. There is a succession of short sentences, each perfectly clear in itself, often unlinked to what precedes or follows, and always without any of the finer shades of meaning. It is rough work, and on the face of it hasty, and so it would have remained, no matter how often it had been revised. Again, Burnet does not always have perfect control of the impression he wishes to convey. It is as if he did not have the whole character in his mind before he began to write, but collected his thoughts from the stores of his memory in the process of composition. We are often uncertain how to understand a character before we have read it all. In some cases he seems to be content to present us with the material from which, once we have pieced it together ourselves, we can form our own judgement. But what he tells us has been vividly felt by him, and is vividly presented. The great merit of his characters lies in their realism. Of the Earl of Lauderdale he says that 'He made a very ill appearance: He was very big: His hair red, hanging oddly about him: His tongue was too big for his mouth, which made him bedew all that he talked to.' There is no hint of this in Clarendon's character of Lauderdale, nor could Clarendon have spoken with the same directness. Burnet has no circumlocutions, just as in private life he was not known to indulge in them. When he reports what was said in conversation he gives the very words. Lauderdale 'was a man, as the Duke of Buckingham called him to me, of a blundering understanding'. Halifax 'hoped that God would not lay it to his charge, if he could not digest iron, as an ostrich did, nor take into his belief things that must burst him'. It is the directness and actuality of such things as these, and above all his habit of describing men in relation to himself, that make his best characters so vivid. Burnet is seldom in the background. He allows us to suspect that it is not the man himself whom he presents to us but the man as he knew him, though he would not have admitted the distinction. He could not imitate the detachment of Clarendon, who is always deliberately impersonal, and writes as if he were pronouncing the impartial judgement of history from which there can be no appeal. Burnet views his men from a much nearer distance. His perspective may sometimes be at fault, but he gets the detail.

With all his shrewd observation, it must be admitted that his range of comprehension was limited. There were no types of character too subtle for Clarendon to understand. There were some which eluded Burnet's grasp. He is at his best in describing such a man as Lauderdale, where the roughness of the style is in perfect keeping with the subject. His character of Shaftesbury, whom he says he knew for many years in a very particular manner, is a valuable study and a remarkable companion piece to Dryden's Achitophel. But he did not understand Halifax. The surface levity misled him. He tells us unsuspectingly as much about himself as about Halifax. He tells us that the Trimmer could never be quite serious in the good bishop's company.

We learn more about Halifax from his own elaborate study of Charles II. It is a prolonged analysis by a man of clear vision, and perfect balance of judgement, and no prepossessions; who was, moreover, master of the easy pellucid style that tends to maxim and epigram. A more impartial and convincing estimate of any king need never be expected. In method and purpose, it stands by itself. It is indeed not so much a character in the accepted sense of the word as a scientific investigation of a personality. Others try to make us see and understand their men; Halifax anatomizes. Yet he occasionally permits us to discover his own feelings. Nothing disappointed him more in the merry monarch than the company he kept, and his comprehensive taste in wit. 'Of all men that ever liked those who had wit, he could the best endure those who had none': there is more here than is on the surface; we see at once Charles, and his court, and Halifax himself.

As a class, the statesmen and politicians more than hold their own with the other character writers of the seventeenth century. Shaftesbury's picture of Henry Hastings, a country gentleman of the old school, who carried well into the Stuart period the habits and life of Tudor times, shows a side of his varied accomplishments which has not won the general recognition that it deserves. It is a sketch exactly in the style of the eighteenth century essayists. It makes us regret that the fragmentary autobiography in which it is found did not come down to a time when it could have included sketches of his famous contemporaries. The literary skill of his grandson, the author of the Characteristicks, was evidently inherited.

Sir Philip Warwick has the misfortune to be overshadowed by Clarendon. As secretary to Charles I in the year before his execution, and as a minor government official under Charles II, he was well acquainted with men and affairs. Burnet describes him as 'an honest but a weak man', and adds that 'though he pretended to wit and politics, he was not cut out for that, and least of all for writing of history'. He could at least write characters. They do not bear the impress of a strong personality, but they have the fairmindedness and the calm outlook that spring from a gentle and unassertive nature. His Cromwell and his Laud are alike greatly to his credit; and the private view that he gives us of Charles has unmistakable value. His Memoires remained in manuscript till 1701, the year before the publication of Clarendon's History. It was the first book to appear with notable characters of the men of the Civil Wars and the Protectorate.

The Histories and Memoirs of the seventeenth century contain by far the greatest number of its characters; but they are to be found also in scattered Lives, and in the collections of material that mark the rise of modern English biography. There are disappointingly few by Fuller. In his Worthies of England he is mainly concerned with the facts of a man's life, and though, in his own word, he fleshes the bare skeleton of time, place, and person with pleasant passages, and interlaces many delightful stories by way of illustrations, and everywhere holds us by the quaint turns of his fertile fancy, yet the scheme of the book did not involve the depicting of character, nor did it allow him to deal with many contemporaries whom he had known. In the present volume it has therefore been found best to represent him by the studies of Bacon and Laud in his Church-History. Bacon he must have described largely from hearsay, but what he says of Laud is an admirable specimen of his manner, and leaves us wishing that he had devoted himself in larger measure to the worthies of his own time.

There are no characters in Aubrey's Brief Lives, which are only a series of rough jottings by a prince of gossips, who collected what he could and put it all on paper 'tumultuarily'. But the extracts from what he says of Hobbes and Milton may be considered as notes for a character, details that awaited a greater artist than Aubrey was to work them into a picture; and if Hobbes and Milton are to be given a place, as somehow or other they must be, in a collection of the kind that this volume offers, there is no option but to be content with such notes, for there is no set character of either of them. The value of the facts which Aubrey has preserved is shown by the use made of them by all subsequent biographers, and notably by Anthony a Wood, whose Athenae Oxonienses is our first great biographical dictionary.

Lives of English men of letters begin in the seventeenth century, and from Rawley's Life of Bacon, Sprat's Life of Cowley, and the anonymous Life of Fuller it is possible to extract passages which are in effect characters. But Walton's Lives, the best of all seventeenth century Lives, refuse to yield any section, for each of them is all of a piece; they are from beginning to end continuous character studies, revealing qualities of head and heart in their affectionate record of fact and circumstance. There is therefore nothing in this volume from his Life of Donne or his Life of Herbert. As a rule the characters that can be extracted from Lives are much inferior to the clearly defined characters that are inserted in Histories. The focus is not the same. When an author after dealing with a man's career sums up his mental and moral qualities in a section by itself, he does not trust to it alone to convey the total impression. He is too liable also to panegyric, like Rawley, who could see no fault in his master Bacon, or Sprat who, in Johnson's words, produced a funeral oration on Cowley. There are no characters of scholars or poets so good as Clarendon's Hales, or Earle, or Chillingworth, or Waller; and for this reason, that Clarendon envisages them, not as scholars or poets but as men, and gains a definite and complete effect within small compass.

Roger North made his life of his brother Lord Keeper Guilford an account of the bench and bar under Charles II and James II. Of its many sketches of lawyers whom he or his brother had known, none is so perfect in every way as the character of Chief Justice Saunders, a remarkable man in real life who still lives in North's pages with all his eccentricities. North writes at length about his brother, yet nowhere do we see and understand him so clearly as we see and understand Saunders. The truth is that a life and a character have different objects and methods and do not readily combine. It is only a small admixture of biography that a character will endure. And with the steady development of biography the character declined.

A character must be short; and it must be entire, the complete expression of a clear judgement. The perfect model is provided by Clarendon. He has more than formal excellence. 'Motives', said Johnson, 'are generally unknown. We cannot trust to the characters we find in history, unless when they are drawn by those who knew the persons; as those, for instance, by Sallust and by Lord Clarendon.'[4]

[Footnote 1: Letter to Pepys, January 20, 1703; Pepys's Diary, ed. Braybrooke, 1825, vol. ii, p. 290.]

[Footnote 2: 'Short Remarks on Bishop Burnet's History,' ad init.]

[Footnote 3: History, preface]

[Footnote 4: Boswell, 1769, ed. G.B. Hill, vol. ii, p. 79.]

* * * * *

Sooner or later every one who deals with the history or literature of the seventeenth century has to own his obligations to Professor C.H. Firth. My debt is not confined to his writings, references to which will be found continually in the notes. At every stage of the preparation of this volume I have had the advantage of his most generous interest. And with his name it is a pleasure to associate in one compendious acknowledgement the names of Dr. Henry Bradley and Mr. Percy Simpson.

Oxford, September 16, 1918. D.N.S.



James VI of Scotland 1567. James I 1603.

Born 1566. Died 1625.


He was born a King, and from that height, the less fitted to look into inferiour things; yet few escaped his knowledge, being, as it were, a Magazine to retain them. His Stature was of the Middle Size; rather tall than low, well set and somewhat plump, of a ruddy Complexion, his hair of a light brown, in his full perfection, had at last a Tincture of white. If he had any predominant Humor to Ballance his Choler, it was Sanguine, which made his Mirth Witty. His Beard was scattering on the Chin, and very thin; and though his Clothes were seldome fashioned to the Vulgar garb, yet in the whole man he was not uncomely. He was a King in understanding, and was content to have his Subjects ignorant in many things; As in curing the Kings Evil, which he knew a Device, to ingrandize the Vertue of Kings, when Miracles were in fashion; but he let the World believe it, though he smiled at it, in his own Reason, finding the strength of the Imagination a more powerfull Agent in the Cure, than the Plaisters his Chirurgions prescribed for the Sore. It was a hard Question, whether his Wisedome, and knowledge, exceeded his Choler, and Fear; certainly the last couple drew him with most violence, because they were not acquisititious, but Naturall; If he had not had that Allay, his high touring, and mastering Reason, had been of a Rare, and sublimed Excellency; but these earthy Dregs kept it down, making his Passions extend him as farre as Prophaness, that I may not say Blasphemy, and Policy superintendent of all his Actions; which will not last long (like the Violence of that Humor) for it often makes those that know well, to do ill, and not be able to prevent it.

He had pure Notions in Conception, but could bring few of them into Action, though they tended to his own Preservation: For this was one of his Apothegms, which he made no timely use of. Let that Prince, that would beware of Conspiracies, be rather jealous of such, whom his extraordinary favours have advanced, than of those whom his displeasure hath discontented. These want means to execute their Pleasures, but they have means at pleasure to execute their desires. Ambition to rule is more vehement than Malice to revenge. Though the last part of this Aphorism, he was thought to practice too soon, where there was no cause for prevention, and neglect too late, when time was full ripe to produce the effect.

Some Parallel'd him to Tiberius for Dissimulation, yet Peace was maintained by him as in the Time of Augustus; And Peace begot Plenty, and Plenty begot Ease and Wantonness, and Ease and Wantonnesse begot Poetry, and Poetry swelled to that bulk in his time, that it begot strange Monstrous Satyrs, against the King[s] own person, that haunted both Court, and Country, which exprest would be too bitter to leave a sweet perfume behind him. And though bitter ingredients are good to imbalm and preserve dead bodies, yet these were such as might indanger to kill a living name, if Malice be not brought in with an Antidote. And the tongues of those times, more fluent than my Pen, made every little miscarriage (being not able to discover their true operations, like smal seeds hid in earthy Darknesse) grow up, and spread into such exuberant branches, that evil Report did often pearch upon them. So dangerous it is for Princes, by a Remisse Comportment, to give growth to the least Error; for it often proves as fruitful as Malice can make it.



This Kings Character is much easier to take then his Picture, for he could never be brought to sit for the taking of that, which is the reason of so few good peeces of him; but his Character was obvious to every eye.

He was of a middle stature, more corpulent through his cloathes then in his body, yet fat enough, his cloathes ever being made large and easie, the Doublets quilted for steletto proofe, his Breeches in great pleites and full stuffed: Hee was naturally of a timorous disposition, which was the reason of his quilted Doublets: His eyes large, ever rowling after any stranger came in his presence, insomuch, as many for shame have left the roome, as being out of countenance: His Beard was very thin: His Tongue too large for his mouth, which ever made him speak full in the mouth, and made him drink very uncomely, as if eating his drink, which came out into the cup of each side of his mouth: His skin was as soft as Taffeta Sarsnet, which felt so, because hee never washt his hands, onely rubb'd his fingers ends slightly with the wet end of a Naptkin: His Legs were very weake, having had (as was thought) some foul play in his youth, or rather before he was born, that he was not able to stand at seven years of age, that weaknesse made him ever leaning on other mens shoulders, his walke was ever circular ... He was very temperate in his exercises, and in his dyet, and not intemperate in his drinking; however in his old age, and Buckinghams joviall Suppers, when he had any turne to doe with him, made him sometimes overtaken, which he would the very next day remember, and repent with teares; it is true, he dranke very often, which was rather out of a custom then any delight, and his drinks were of that kind for strength, as Frontiniack, Canary, High Country wine, Tent Wine, and Scottish Ale, that had he not had a very strong brain, might have daily been overtaken, although he seldom drank at any one time above four spoonfulls, many times not above one or two; He was very constant in all things, his Favourites excepted, in which he loved change, yet never cast down any (he once raised) from the height of greatnesse, though from their wonted nearnesse, and privacy; unlesse by their own default, by opposing his change, as in Somersets case: yet had he not been in that foul poysoning busines, and so cast down himself, I do verily beleeve not him neither; for al his other Favorites he left great in Honour, great in Fortune; and did much love Mountgomery, and trusted him more at the very last gaspe, then at the first minute of his Favoriteship: In his Dyet, Apparrell, and Journeys, he was very constant; in his Apparrell so constant, as by his good wil he would never change his cloathes untill worn out to very ragges: His Fashion never: Insomuch as one bringing to him a Hat of a Spanish Block, he cast it from him, swearing he neither loved them nor their fashions. Another time, bringing him Roses on his Shooes, he asked, if they would make him a ruffe-footed-Dove? one yard of six penny Ribbond served that turne: His Dyet and Journies were so constant, that the best observing Courtier of our time was wont to say, were he asleep seven yeares, and then awakened, he would tell where the King every day had been, and every dish he had had at his Table.

Hee was not very uxorious, (though he had a very brave Queen that never crossed his designes, nor intermedled with State affaires, but ever complyed with him (even against the nature of any, but of a milde spirit) in the change of Favourites;) for he was ever best, when furthest from the Queene, and that was thought to be the first grounds of his often removes, which afterwards proved habituall. He was unfortunate in the marriage of his Daughter, and so was all Christendome besides; but sure the Daughter was more unfortunate in a Father, then he in a Daughter: He naturally loved not the sight of a Souldier, nor of any Valiant man; and it was an observation that Sir Robert Mansell was the only valiant man he ever loved, and him he loved so intirely, that for all Buckinghams greatnesse with the King, and his hatred of Sir Robert Mansell, yet could not that alienate the Kings affections from him; insomuch as when by the instigation of Cottington (then Embassadour in Spaine) by Buckinghams procurement, the Spanish Embassadour came with a great complaint against Sir Robert Mansell, then at Argiers, to suppresse the Pirats, That he did support them; having never a friend there, (though many) that durst speake in his defence, the King himselfe defended him in these words: My Lord Embassadour, I cannot beleeve this, for I made choyce my selfe of him, out of these reasons; I know him to be valiant, honest, and Nobly descended as most in my Kingdome, and will never beleeve a man thus qualified will doe so base an act. He naturally loved honest men, that were not over active, yet never loved any man heartily untill he had bound him unto him by giving him some suite, which he thought bound the others love to him againe; but that argued a poore disposition in him, to beleeve that any thing but a Noble minde, seasoned with vertue, could make any firme love or union, for mercinary mindes are carried away with a greater prize, but Noble mindes, alienated with nothing but publick disgraces.

He was very witty, and had as many ready witty jests as any man living, at which he would not smile himselfe, but deliver them in a grave and serious manner: He was very liberall, of what he had not in his owne gripe, and would rather part with hee never had in his keeping, then one twenty shillings peece within his owne custody: He spent much, and had much use of his Subjects purses, which bred some clashings with them in Parliament, yet would alwayes come off, and end with a sweet and plausible close; and truly his bounty was not discommendable, for his raising Favourites was the worst: Rewarding old servants, and releiving his Native Country-men, was infinitely more to be commended in him, then condemned. His sending Embassadours, were no lesse chargeable then dishonourable and unprofitable to him and his whole Kingdome; for he was ever abused in all Negotiations, yet hee had rather spend on Embassies, to keep or procure peace with dishonour, then on an Army that would have forced peace with honour: He loved good Lawes, and had many made in his time, and in his last Parliament, for the good of his Subjects, and suppressing Promoters, and progging fellowes, gave way to that Nullum tempus, &c. to be confined to 60. yeares, which was more beneficiall to the Subjects in respect of their quiets, then all the Parliaments had given him during his whole Reign. By his frequenting Sermons he appeared Religious; yet his Tuesday Sermons (if you will beleeve his owne Country men, that lived in those times when they were erected, and well understood the cause of erecting them) were dedicated for a strange peece of devotion.

He would make a great deale too bold with God in his passion, both in cursing and swearing, and one straine higher vergeing on blasphemie; But would in his better temper say, he hoped God would not impute them as sins, and lay them to his charge, seeing they proceeded from passion: He had need of great assurance, rather then hopes, that would make daily so bold with God.

He was so crafty and cunning in petty things, as the circumventing any great man, the change of a Favourite, &c. insomuch as a very wise man was wont to say, he beleeved him the wisest foole in Christendome, meaning him wise in small things, but a foole in weighty affaires.

He ever desired to prefer meane men in great places, that when he turned them out again, they should have no friend to bandy with them: And besides, they were so hated by being raised from a meane estate, to over-top all men, that every one held it a pretty recreation to have them often turned out: There were living in this Kings time, at one instant, two Treasurers, three Secretaries, two Lord Keepers, two Admiralls, three Lord chief Justices, yet but one in play, therefore this King had a pretty faculty in putting out and in: By this you may perceive in what his wisdome consisted, but in great and weighty affaires even at his wits end.

He had a trick to cousen himselfe with bargains under hand, by taking or as a bribe, when his Counsell was treating with his Customers to raise them to so much more yearly, this went into his Privy purse, wherein hee thought hee had over-reached the Lords, but cousened himselfe; but would as easily breake the bargaine upon the next offer, saying, he was mistaken and deceived, and therefore no reason he should keep the bargaine; this was often the case with the Farmers of the Customes; He was infinitely inclined to peace, but more out of feare then conscience, and this was the greatest blemish this King had through all his Reign, otherwise might have been ranked with the very best of our Kings, yet sometimes would hee shew pretty flashes of valour which might easily be discerned to be forced, not naturall; and being forced, could have wished, rather, it would have recoiled backe into himselfe, then carryed to that King it had concerned, least he might have been put to the tryall, to maintaine his seeming valour.

In a word, he was (take him altogether and not in peeces) such a King, I wish this Kingdom have never any worse, on the condition, not any better; for he lived in peace, dyed in peace, and left all his Kingdomes in a peaceable condition, with his owne Motto:

Beati Pacifici.



George Villiers, created Viscount Villiers 1616, Earl of Buckingham 1617, Marquis 1618, and Duke 1623. Born 1592. Assassinated 1628.


The Duke was indeede a very extraordinary person, and never any man in any age, nor I believe in any country or nation, rose in so shorte a tyme to so much greatenesse of honour fame and fortune upon no other advantage or recommendation, then of the beauty and gracefulnesse and becommingnesse of his person; and I have not the least purpose of undervale[w]inge his good partes and qualityes (of which ther will be occasion shortly to give some testimony) when I say, that his first introduction into favour was purely from the handsomnesse of his person: He was the younger Sunn of S'r George Villyers of Brookesby in the County of Leicester, a family of an auncient extraction, even from the tyme of the conquest, and transported then with the conqueror out of Normandy, wher the family hath still remayned and still continues with lustre: After S'r Georges first marriage, in which he had 2 or 3 Sunnes and some daughters, who shared an ample inheritance from him, by a secounde marriage with a younge lady of the family of the Beaumonts, he had this gentleman, and two other Sunns, and a daughter, who all came afterwards to be raysed to greate titles and dignityes. George, the eldest Sunn of this secounde bedd, was after the death of his father, by the singular affection and care of his Mother, who injoyed a good joynture in the accounte of that age, well brought up, and for the improvment of his education, and givinge an ornament to his hopefull person, he was by her sent into France, wher he spent 2. or 3. yeeres in attayninge the language, and in learninge the exercises of rydinge and dauncinge, in the last of which he excelled most men; and returned into Englande by the tyme he was 21. yeeres old.

Kinge James raingned at that tyme, and though he was a Prince of more learninge and knowledge then any other of that age, and really delighted more in bookes, and in the conversation of learned men, yett of all wise men livinge, he was the most delighted and taken with handsome persons, and with fyne clothes; He begann to be weary of his Favorite the Earle of Somersett, who was the only Favorite who kept that post so longe without any publique reproch from the people, and by the instigation and wickednesse of his wife, he became at least privy to a horrible murther, that exposed him to the utmost severity of the law (the poysoninge of S'r Thomas Overbury) upon which both he and his wife were condemned to dy, after a tryall by ther Peeres, and many persons of quality were executed for the same: Whilst this was in agitation, and before the utmost discovery was made, Mr. Villiers appeared in Courte, and drew the Kings eyes upon him: Ther were enough in the Courte enough angry and incensed against Somersett, for beinge what themselves desyred to be, and especially for beinge a Scotchman, and ascendinge in so shorte a tyme from beinge a page, to the height he was then at, to contribute all they coulde, to promote the one, that they might throw out the other; which beinge easily brought to passe, by the proceedinge of the law upon his cryme aforesayd, the other founde very little difficulty in rendringe himselfe gracious to the Kinge, whose nature and disposition was very flowinge in affection towards persons so adorned, insomuch that in few dayes after his first appearance in Courte he was made Cup-bearer to the Kinge, by which he was naturally to be much in his presence, and so admitted to that conversation and discource, with which that Prince alwayes abounded at his meales; and his inclination to his new Cuppbearer disposed him to administer frequent occasions of discourcinge of the Courte of France, and the transactions ther, with which he had bene so lately acquainted, that he could pertinently inlarge upon that subjecte, to the Kings greate delight, and to the reconcilinge the esteeme and valew of all the Standers by likewise to him, which was a thinge the Kinge was well pleased with: He acted very few weekes upon this Stage, when he mounted higher, and beinge knighted, without any other qualification he was at the same tyme made Gentleman of the Bedd chamber, and Knight of the Order of the Gartar; and in a shorte tyme (very shorte for such a prodigious ascent,) he was made a Barron, a Viscount, an Earle, a Marquisse, and became L'd High Admirall of Englande, L'd Warden of the Cinque Ports, Master of the Horse, and intirely disposed of all the graces of the Kinge, in conferringe all the Honours and all the Offices of the three kingdomes without a ryvall; in dispencinge wherof, he was guyded more by the rules of appetite then of judgement, and so exalted almost all of his owne numerous family and dependants, who had no other virtue or meritt then ther allyance to him, which aequally offended the auncient nobility and the people of all conditions, who saw the Flowres of the Crowne every day fadinge and withered, whilst the Demeasnes and revennue therof was sacrificed to the inrichinge a private family (how well soever originally extracted) not heard of before ever to the nation, and the exspences of the Courte so vast, unlimited by the old good rules of Oeconomy, that they had a sadd prospecte of that poverty and necessity, which afterwards befell the Crowne, almost to the ruine of it.

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