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in consequence of his dedication to him of Venus and Adonis, some marked proof of his kindness and protection.
Tradition has recorded, among other instances of this nobleman's pecuniary bounty, that he, at one time, gave Shakspeare a thousand pounds, in order to complete a purchase, a sum which in these days would be equal in value to more than five times its original amount. This may be, and probably is, an exaggeration; but that it has been founded on the well-known liberality of Lord Southampton to Shakspeare; on a certain knowledge that donations had passed from the peer to the poet, there can be little doubt. It had become the custom of the age to reward dedication by pecuniary bounty, and that Lord Southampton was diflusively and peculiarly generous in this mode of remuneration, we have the express testimony of Florio, who, dedicating his "World of Words" to this nobleman in 1598, says: "In truth, I acknowledge an entire debt, not only of my best knowledge, but of all; yea, of more than I know, or can to your bounteous lordship, in whose pay and patronage I have lived some years; to whom I owe and vowe the years I have to live. But, as to me, and many more, the glorious and gracious sunshine of your honour hath infused light and life.' Here, if we except the direct confession relative to "pay," the language is similar to, and not more emphatically expressive of gratitude than was Shakspeare's; and that, under the phrase "many more," Florio meant to include our poet, we may, without scruple, infer. To an actor, to a rising dramatic writer, to one who had placed the first fruits of his genius under his protection, and who was still contending with the difficulties incident to his situation, the taste, the generosity, and the feeling of Lord Southampton would naturally be attracted; and the donation which, in all probability, followed the dedication of Venus and Adonis, we have reason, from the voice of tradition, to conclude, was succeeded by many, and still more important, proofs of His Lordship's favour.
In 1597, when Lord Essex was appointed General of the forces destined to act against the Azores, Southampton, at the age of twenty-four, gallantly came forward as a volunteer, on board the Garland, one of Her Majesty's best ships,-an offer which was soon followed by a commission from Essex to command her. An opportunity speedily occurred for the display of his courage; in an engagement with the Spanish fleet, he pursued and sunk one of the enemy's largest men of war, and was wounded in the arm during the conflict. Sir William Monson, one of the Admirals of the expedition, tells us, that the Earl lost time in this chase, which might have been better employed; but his friend Essex appears to have considered his conduct in a different light, and conferred upon him, during his voyage, the honour of knighthood.
On his return to England, in October, 1597, he had the misfortune to find that the Queen had embraced the opinion of Monson, rather than that of Essex, and frowned with displeasure on the officer who had presumed to pursue and sink a Spanish vessel, without orders from his commander; a censure which was intended also to reach the General, with whom she was justly offended for having assumed the direction of a service to which his judgment and his talents were inadequate. His introduction to parlimentary business began on the 24th of October, 1597, and terminated, with the session, on the 8th of February, 1598; and two days afterwards, he left London to commence his tour.
In the course of November, 1598, there is reason to suppose that this enterprising nobleman returned to London; soon after which event, his union with Elizabeth Vernon took place. His bride was the daughter of John Vernon of Hodnet, in the county of Salop, and she appears to have possessed a large share of personal charms. A portrait of her was drawn by Cornelius Jansen, which is said to have "the face and hands coloured with incomparable lustre." The unjustihall resentment of the Queen, however, rendered this connection, for a time, a source of much misery to both parties. Her capricious tyranny was such, as to induce her to feel offended, if any of her courtiers had the audacity to love or marry
without her knowledge or permission; and the result of what she termed His Lordship's clandestine marriage, was the instant dismissal of himself and his lady to a prison. How long their confinement was protracted, cannot now be accurately ascertained; that it was long in the opinion of the Earl of Essex, appears from an address of his to the Lords of Council, in which he puts the following interrogation:Was it treason in my Lord of Southampton to marry my poor kinswoman, that neither long imprisonment, nor any punishment, besides, that hath been usual, in like cases, can satisfy, or appease?" But we do know that could not have existed beyond March, 1599; for on the 27th of that month, Lord Southampton accompanied his friend Essex to Ireland, where, immediately on his arrival, he was appointed by the Earl, now Lord Deputy of that country, his general of the horse.
This military promotion of Southampton is one among numerous proofs of the imprudence of Essex, for it was not only without the Queen's knowledge, but, as Camden has informed us, "clean contrary to his instructions." What was aturally to be expected, therefore, soon occurred; Lord Southampton was, by the Queen's orders, deprived of his commission, in the August following, and on the 20th of September, 1599, he revisited London, where, apprehensive of the spleasure of Her Majesty, he absented himself from court, and endeavoured to Soothe his inquietude by the attractions of the theatre, to which his ardent admiration of the genius of Shakspeare now daily induced him to recur.
The resentment of the Queen, however, though not altogether appeased, soon began to subside; and in December, 1599, when Lord Mountjoy was commissioned to supersede Essex in the Lord Lieutenancy of Ireland, Lord Southampton was ne of the officers selected by Her Majesty to attend him. Farther than this she refused to condescend; for, though His Lordhip solicited for some weeks the honour of kissing her hand, and was supported in this request by the influence of Cecil, he solicited in vain, and was at length compelled to rest satisfied with the expression of her wishes for the safety of his journey.
One unpleasant consequence of his former transient compaign in Ireland, had been a quarrel with the Lord Grey, who acting under him as a colonel of horse, and, from the impetuosity of youthful valour, attacked the rebel force without orders; a contempt of subordination which had been punished by his superior with a night's imprisonment. The fiery spirit of Grey could not brook even this requisite attention to discipline, and he sent Southampton a challenge, which the latter, on his departure for Ireland, in April, 1600, accepted, by declaring that he would meet Lord Grey in any part of that country. The Queen, however, for the present arrested the combat; but the animosity was imbittered by delay, and Lord Southampton felt it necessary to his character to break off his military engagements, which had conferred upon him the reputation of great bravery and professional skill, and had received the marked approval of the Lord Deputy, to satiate the resentment of Grey, who had again called him to a meeting, and fixed its scene in the Low Countries.
Of this interview we know nothing more than that it proved so completely abortive, that, shortly afterwards, Lord Grey attacked Southampton as he rode through the streets of London, an outrage which affords but a melancholy trait of the manners of the age, though punished on the spot by the immediate committal of the perpetrator to prison.
It had been happy, however, for the fame and repose of Southampton, had this been the only unfortunate contest in which he engaged; but he was recalled by Essex from the Low Countries, in order to assist him in his insurrectionary movements against the person and government of his sovereign. Blinded by the attachments of friendship, which he cultivated with enthusiastic warmth, and indignant at the treatment which he had lately received from the Queen, he too readily listened to the treasonable suggestions of Essex, and became one of the conspirators who assembled at the house of this nobleman on the 8th of February,
1601. Here they took the decisive step of imprisoning the Queen's privy counsellors who had been sent to enquire into the purport of their meeting, and from this mansion they sallied forth, with their view of exciting the citizens to rebellion. An enterprise so criminal, so rash, and chimerical, immediately met the fate which it merited; and the trial of Essex and Southampton for high treason took place on the 19th of February, when, both being found guilty, the former, as is well known, expiated his offence by death, while the latter, from the minor culpability of his views, from the modesty and contrition which he exhibited in his defence, and from the intercession of Cecil and the peers, obtained a remission of the sentence affecting his life, but was condemned to imprisonment in the Tower. We have more than once mentioned the great partiality of Lord Southampton to dramatic literature, and it is somewhat remarkable that this partiality should have been rendered subservient to the machinations of treason; for Bacon tells us, that "the afternoon before the rebellion, Merick (afterwards the defender of Essex-house), with a great company of others, that afterwards were all in the action, had procured to be played before them the play of deposing King Richard the Second; when it was told him by one of the players that the play was old, and they should have loss in playing it, because few would come to it, there were forty shillings extraordinary given to play it, and so thereupon played it was." It appears from the State Trials, vol. vii. p. 60, that the player to whom the forty shillings were given, was Augustine Philippes, one of the patentees of the Globe playhouse with Shakspeare, in 1603.
The term old applied to this play, which, according to the report of the Queen, was played forty times in open streets and houses," has induced Dr. Farmer and Mr. Tyrwhitt to conclude that a play entitled Richard the Second, or Henry the Fourth, existed before Shakspeare's dramas on these subjects. This position, however, is dissented from by Mr. Chalmers, who says," In opposition to Farmer and Tyrwhitt, I hold, though I have a great respect for their memories, that it was illogical to argue, from a nonentity, against an entity; that as no such play as the Henry IV. which they spoke of had ever appeared, while Shakspeare s Richard II. was apparent to every eye, it was inconsequential reasoning in them to prefer the first play to the last and I am, therefore, of opinion, that the play of deposing Richard II. which was seditiously played on the 7th of February, 1600-1. was Shakspeare's Richard II., that had been originally acted in 1596, and first printed in 1597."
This opinion of Mr. Chalmers will be much strengthened when we reflect that Lord Southampton's well-known attachment to the muse of Shakspeare, would almost certainly induce him to prefer the play written by his favourite poet to the composition of an obscure, and, without doubt, a very inferior writer.
The death of Elizabeth terminated the confinement and the sufferings of Lord Southampton. No sooner had James acceded to the throne, than he sent an order for his release from the Tower, which took place on the 10th of April, 1603, ard accompanied it with a request that he would meet him on his way to England." This might be considered as a certain presage of future favours, and was, indeed,speedily followed, not only by the reversal of his attainder, and the restoration of his property, but by an accumulation of honours. He was immediately appointe master of the game to the Queen; a pension of six hundred pounds per annum was allotted to his lady; in July, 1603, he was installed a knight of the garter, and created captain of Isle of Wight and Carisbrooke Castle, and in the following Spring he was constituted Lord Lieutenant of Hampshire, and was chosen by theth King as his companion in a journey to Royston.
This flow of good fortune was, however, transiently impeded by the jealousy of James, who stimulated by the machinations of some of his courtiers, envious of the returning prosperity of the Earl, was led to suspect that an improper inti macy had taken place between Southampton and his Queen; a charge of disaffer, tion to His Majesty was, therefore, brought against His Lordship, and he was
apprehended towards the close of June, 1604; but not the smallest proof of his disloyalty having been substantiated, he was immediately released, and as immediately retaken into favour.
Of his perfect reinstatement, indeed, in the affections of James we possess a decided proof. Rowland Whyte, writing to Lord Shrewsbury, on the 4th of March, 1604, says," My La. Southampton was brought to bed of a young Lord upon St. David's Day (March 1st), in the morning; a St. to be much honored by that howse for so great a blessing, by wearing a leeke for ever upon that day." Now this child was christened at court on the 27th of the same month, the King, and Lord Cranburn, with the Countess of Suffolk being gossips; an honour which was followed, in June, 1606, by a more substantial mark of regard, the appointment of His Lordship to be Warden of the New Forest, and Keeper of the Park of Lindhurst.
In 1609, he was constituted a member of the first Virginia Company, took a most active part in their concerns, and was the chief promoter of the different Voyages to America, which were undertaken as well for the purposes of discovery as for private interest.
On the 4th of June, 1610, he officiated as carver at the magnificent festival which was given in honour of young Henry's assumption of the title of Prince of Wales; and in July, 1613, we find His Lordship entertaining the King at his house in the New Forest, whither he had returned from an expedition to the Continent, expressly for this purpose, and under the expectation of receiving a royal visit. After discharging this duty to his sovereign, he again left his native country, and was present, in the following year, with Lord Herbert of Cherbury, at the siege of Rees, in the dutchy of Cleves.
It was at this period that his reputation, as a patron of literature, attained its highest celebrity, and it is greatly to be desired that tradition had enabled us to dwell more minutely on his intercourse with the learned. His bounty to, and encouragement of, Shakspeare have conferred immortality on his name; to Florio, we have seen, he extended a durable and efficient support; Brathwayt, in his dedication of his "Scholar's Medley," 1614, calls him "learnings best favourite;" and in 1617, he contributed very liberally to relieve the distresses of Minsheu, the author of The Guide to Tongues." Doubtless, had we more ample materials for his life, these had not been the only instances of his munificence to literary talent. Still further promotion awaited this accomplished nobleman. When James visited Scotland, in 1617, he accompanied his sovereign, and rendered himself so acceptable by his courtesy and care, that, on the 19th of April, 1619, he was rewarded by the confidential situation of a privy-counsellor, an honour which he had long anxiously held in view.
This completion of his wishes, however, was not attended with the result which he had so sanguinely expected. He found himself unable, from principle, to join in the measures of the court, and the opposition which he now commenced against the King and his ministers, had, in a mind so ardent, a natural tendency to excess. In 1620, and the two following years, he was chosen, contrary to the wishes of government, treasurer of the Virginia Company, an office of great weight and responsibility, but to which his zeal and activity in forwarding the views of that corporation, gave him a just claim. Such, indeed, was the sense which the company entertained of his merits, that his name was annexed to several important parts of Virginia; as, for instance, Southampton-hundred, Hampton-roads, etc.
Whilst he opposed the court merely in its commercial arrangements, no personal inconvenience attended his exertions; but when, in the session of parliament which took place towards the commencement of the year 1621, he deemed it necessary to withstand the unconstitutional views of ministers, he immediately felt the arm of power. He had introduced with success a motion against illegal patents; and during the sitting of the 14th of March, so sharp an altercation oc
curred between himself and the Marquis of Buckingham, that the interference of the Prince of Wales was necessary to appease the anger of the disputants.
This stormy discussion, and his Lordship's junction with the popular party, occasioned so much suspicion on the part of government, that on the 16th of June, twelve days after the prorogation of parliament, he was committed to the custody of the Dean of Westminster; nor was it until the 18th of the subsequent July, that he was permitted to return to his house at Titchfield, under a partial restraint, nor until the first of September that he was entirely liberated.
Unawed, however, by this unmerited persecution, and supported by a numerous and respectable party, justly offended at the King's pusillanimity in tamely witnessing his son-in-law's deprivation of the Palatinate, he came forward, with augmented activity, in the parliament of 1624, which opened on the 9th of February. Here he sat on several committees; and when James, on the 5th of the June following, found himself compelled to relinquish his pacific system, and to enter into a treaty with the States-General, granting them permission to raise four regiments in this country, he, unfortunately for himself and his son, procured the colonelcy of one of them.
Being under the necessity of taking up their winter-quarters at Rosendale in Holland, the Earl, and his eldest son Lord Wriothesly, were seized with a burning fever; "the violence of which distemper," says Wilson, "wrought most vigorously upon the heat of youth, overcoming the son first, and the drooping father, having overcome the fever, departed from Rosendale with an intention to bring his son's body to England; but at Bergen-op-zoom he died of a lethargy in the view and presence of the Relator, and were both in one small bark brought to Southampton." The son expired on the 5th of November, and his parent on the tenth, and they were both buried in the sepulchre of their fathers, at Titchfield, on Innocents' day, 1624.
Thus perished, in the fifty-second year of his age, Henry Earl of Southampton, leaving a widow and three daughters, who, from a letter preserved in the Cabala, appear to have been in confined circumstances; this epistle is from the Lord Keeper Williams to the Duke of Buckingham, dated Nov. 7th, 1624, and requesting of that nobleman "his grace and goodness towards the most distressed widow and children of my Lord Southampton."
If we except a constitutional warmth and irritability of temper, and their too common result, an occasional error of judgment, there did not exist, throughout the reigns of Elizabeth and James, a character more truly amiable, great, and good than was that of Lord Southampton. To have secured, indeed, the reve rence and affection of Shakspeare, was of itself a sufficient passport to the purest fame; but the love and admiration which attended him was general. As a soldier, he was brave, open, and magnanimous ; as a statesman remarkable for integrity and independence of mind, and perhaps no individual of his age was a more enthusiastic lover, or a more munificent patron, of arts and literature.
The virtues of his private life, as well as these features of his public character, rest upon the authority of those who best knew him. To the "noble" and "honourable disposition," ascribed to him by Shakspeare, who affectionately declares, that he loves him "without end," we can add the respectable testimony of Chapman, Sir John Beaumont, and Wither, all intimately acquainted with him, and the second his particular friend.
In short, to adopt the language of an enthusiastic admirer of our dramatic bard, "Southampton died as he had lived, with a mind untainted: embalmed with the tears of every friend to virtue, and to splendid accomplishments: all who knew him, wished to him long life, still lengthened with all happiness."
That a nobleman so highly gifted, most amiable by his virtues, and most re spectable by his talents and his taste, should have been strongly attached to Shakspeare, and this attachment returned by the poet with equal fervour, cannot excite much surprise; indeed, that more than pecuniary obligation was the tie that