Imágenes de páginas


1623, 1624.

State of public opinion respecting the prince and Bucking-

ham.--Policy adopted by the lord-keeper, -by the lord.


ment.-Marriage treaty with France.-Feeble prepara-

tions for war.–Troops sent to serve with the Dutch..

Expedition fitted out under Mansfeldt.-Its complete

failure.--Sickness and death of king James. His works

and character:- Anecdates of him.--His funeral sermon

by Williams:- Translation of the bible under his au-


.:. 387





1615, 1616. King's visit to Cambridge.-Comedy of Ignoramus..-Declin.

ing favor of Somerset.-Rise of Villiers.-Part taken by the archbishop and the queen in his advancement.-Somer. set disappointed of obtaining a general pardon.-Efforts of the opposing factions.-Detection of Overbury's murder.-Confession of Weston.— The king's final parting with Somerset.-Trial and conviction of Weston, of Mrs. Turner and other accomplices.--Dilatory mode of proceeding against the earl and countess of Somerset.- Ambigu. ous conduct of James. They are found guilty, but finally pardoned.- Reflections. - Death of Shakespeare. - Re

marks on his character and works. IT is somewhat remarkable that James, who had visited the university of Oxford as early as the year 1605, had not yet paid a similar compliment to that of Cambridge, though his hunting progress to Royston brought him annually into its neighbourhood. At length however, in March 1615, he announced




his intention of repairing thither, accompanied by the prince and by a numerous court; and extraordinary preparations were made for his magnificent reception. The earl of Suffolk had been suffered to succeed his more learned kinsman Northampton in the dignity of chancellor of the university, and the house of Howard, which was also elated by its alliance with the favorite, stood foremost on this occasion of display. The chancellor himself was lodged in St. John's college, where he kept his table on so grand a scale of hospitality, that his consumption of wine during the five days of the royal visit was estimated at no less than twenty-five tuns. His lady, with her daughters the countesses of Salisbury and of Somerset, and other near connexions, were accommodated at Magdalen college, and were the only females who graced the festival; perhaps because other ladies might be reluctant to appear in the train of lady Somerset. The king and the prince occupied Trinity college, in the spacious hall of which plays were nightly represented. These exhibitions for the evenings, with sermons and disputations every morning, sufficiently exercised the patience of the monarch, who was less disposed to attend to the oratory of others than to display his own. After listening to a “concio ad clerum” which occupied an hour and a half, he complained aloud, “that care had not been taken to prevent tediosity;" and on another occasion he is reported to have exclaimed, after nine hours of exhibitions of scholarship, “What do they think I am made of?” One of the performances however, though in the opinion of a person who was present “more than half marred with extreme length,” proved so peculiarly grateful to the taste of his majesty that he expressed the highest delight, and on an after occasion a second representation was commanded. This piece was the Latin comedy of Ignoramus, which, contrary to the common fate of occasional pieces, has held an enduring place in literature, and, besides being several times reprinted, was twice within the last century selected for performance by the Westminster scholars. It is doubtless a very amusing drama, full of bustle and incident, and abounding with laughable situations and grotesque characters; but its comic merits were not its only or principal recommendation to the favor of James. The hero of the piece is a practitioner of the common law, so much decried by the courtiers of the day; and the ridicule attached to his cunning, his pedantry, and the barbarous jargon of technical terms and latinized English of which his discourse is compounded, was no less agreeable to the monarch than it proved offensive to the profession of which Ambidexter Ignoramus is the representative. Those other distinguished objects of his majesty's contempt or aversion,—the pope, the jesuits with their doctrine of equivocation, Gạrnet's straw, and the puritans, all came in for a share of the lashing dealt around by the courtly satirist, and on the repetition of the piece, a new prologue added to the gratification of the royal auB 2



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