« AnteriorContinuar »
man as he is.* I leave him likewise forty pounds for his pains in the solicitation of my arrears ; and am sorry that my ragged estate can reach no further to one that hath taken such care for me in the same kind, during all my foreign employments. To the Library at Eaton College, I leave all my manuscripts not before disposed, and to each of the Fellows a plain ring of gold, enamelled black, all save the verge, with this motto within, Amor unit omnia.' This is my last will and testament, save what
shall be added by a schedule thereunto annexed, written on the first of October, in the present year of our Redemption, 1637, and subscribed by myself, with the testimony of these
witnesses, Nich. OUDERT,
HENRY WOTTON.” GEO. LASH.
And now, because the mind of man is best satisfied by the knowledge of events, I think fit to declare, that every one that was named in his will did gladly receive their legacies ; by which, and his most just and passionate desires for the payment of his debts, they joined in assisting the overseers of his will ; and by their joint endeav,
* In it were Italian locks, pick-locks, screws to force open doors, and many things of worth and rarity, that he had gathered in his foreign travels,
ours to the king (than whom none was more willing) conscionable satisfaction was given for his just debts.
The next thing wherewith I shall acquaint the reader is, that he went usually once a year, if not oftener, to the beloved Bocton-Hall, where he
“ he found a cure for all cares, by the cheerful company,” which he called “the living furniture of the place”; and “a restoration of his strength, by the connaturalness of" that which he called “his genial air."
He yearly went also to Oxford. But the summer before his death he changed that for a journey to Winchester college, to which school he was first removed from Bocton. And as he returned from Winchester towards Eaton college, said to a friend, his companion in that journey, “ How useful was that advice of a holy monk, who persuaded his friend to perform his customary devotions in a constant place, because in that place we usually meet with those very thoughts which possessed us at our last being there; and I find it thus far experimentally true, that at my now being in that school, and seeing that very place where I sat when I was a boy, occasioned me to remember those very thoughts of my youth which then possessed me; sweet thoughts, indeed, that promised my growing years numerous pleasures without mixtures of cares, and those to
be enjoyed when time (which I therefore thought slow-paced) had changed my youth into manhood. But age and experience have taught me that those were but empty hopes; for I have always found it true, as my Saviour did foretell, Sufficient for the day is the evil thereof.' Nevertheless, I saw there a succession of boys using the same recreations, and, questionless, possessed with the same thoughts that then possessed me. Thus one generation succeeds another, both in their lives, recreations, hopes, fears, and death."
After his return from Winchester to Eton, which was about five months before his death, he became much more retired and contemplative; in which time he was often visited by Mr. John Hales (the learned Mr. John Hales), then a Fellow of that college, to whom, upon an occasion, he spake to this purpose : "I have, in my passage to my grave; met with most of those joys of which a discoursive soul is capable, and been entertained with more inferior pleasures than the sons of men are usually made partakers of. Nevertheless in this voyage I have not always floated on the calm sea of content; but have often met with cross winds and storms, and with many troubles of mind and temptations to evil. And yet, though I have been and am a man compassed about with human frailties, Almighty God hath, by his grace, prevented me from making
shipwreck of faith and a good conscience, the thought of which is now the joy of my heart; and I most humbly praise him for it. And I humbly acknowledge that it was not myself, but he that hath kept me to this great age, and let him take the glory of his great mercy. And, my dear friend, I now see that I draw near my harbour of death; that harbour that will secure me from all the future storms and waves of this restless world; and I praise God I am willing to leave it, and expect a better ; that world wherein dwelleth righteousness; and I long for it."
These and the like expressions were then uttered by him at the beginning of a feverish distemper, at which time he was also troubled with an asthma or short spitting. But after less than twenty fits, by the help of familiar physic and a spare diet, this fever abated, yet so as to leave him much weaker than it found him ; and his asthma seemed also to be overcome in a good degree by his forbearing tobacco, which, as many thoughtful men do, he also had taken somewhat immoderately. This was his then present condition, and thus he continued till about the end of October, 1639, which was about a month before his death ; at which time he again fell into a fever, which, though he seemed to recover, yet these still left him so weak, that they and those other common infirmities that accompany age,
and were wont to visit him like civil friends, and after some short time to leave him, came now both oftener and with more violence, and at last took up their constant habitation with him, still weakening his body and abating his cheerfulness ; of both which he grew more sensible, and did the oftener retire into his study, and there made many papers that had passed his pen, both in the days of his youth and in the busy part of his life, useless, by a fire made there to that purpose. These, and several unusual expressions to his servants and friends, seemed to foretell that the day of his death drew near ; for which he seemed, to those many friends that observed him, to be well prepared, and to be both patient and free from all fear, as several of his letters, writ on this his last sick-bed, may testify. And thus he continued till about the beginning of December following, at which time he was seized more violently with a quotidian fever, in the tenth fit of which fever, his better part, that part of Sir Henry Wotton which could not die, put off mortality with as much content and cheerfulness as human frailty is capable of, being then in great tranquillity of mind, and in perfect peace with God and
And thus the circle of Sir Henry Wotton's life, that circle which began at Bocton, and in the circumference thereof did first touch at Win