Page images
PDF
EPUB

about, he dreamed of a stratagem, which should effect his design, which was, that he would perpetrate some light crime,in hope therefore to be committed to the prison, where the King was: whereupon he resolved to take a cudgel under his cloke, and go to the Realto, the chicfest place in Venice, and there quarrel with one or other, and bastinado bim, until he had drawn blood of him, for which act he doubted not but to be committed: he proceeded according to his secret determination, and, when he was come near the Realto, he met with a friend of his, who perceiving by his countenance, that he was troubled in mind, said unto him, Sir, I see by you there is somewhat amiss. John Bassanesse being well assured, that he was a faithful servant to the King, laid open his intention unto him, who found means to get a note, in writing, under the King's hand, of all the parcels, that passed from the one to the other. This memorandum was put into the hands of one Leonardo Donato, one of the Sabio Grande, that first examined the King, and was thought to owe him little goodwill; but, after he surveyed his cause, and found it so just and true, travelled earnestly to the senate, to pronounce him Don Sebastian, the true King of Portugal. All this I have heard confirmed by many very worthy persons : The original I could not bring with me, for that Donato, at my being there, was employed as general of five and twentythousand foot, and five thousand horse, in the county of Bresse, which force, the seigniory had levied the year before, for their defence, upon some intelligence, &c. But, as soon as John Bassanesse bad got the writing, he hied bim home to his father-in-law, and they agreed between them, that one should stand at one end of the table, and the other below, and the father wrote the pieces he knew, and the son, by his note, was able to inform the old man of divers parcels that he had forgotten; and the old man said, it was haste made him overslip somewhat; those four white horses, said he, I did not well remember, but I think verily it was true; and the old man wondered not a little, how his son came by this intelligence, and said, he had devised it himself; but, seeing himself vanquished, said to his son, Visit the King, my son, at your pleasure, and do him what good you may, and I beseech God to assist him.

Forasmuch as I know the curious sort of people desire to view the particulars, and to make our proof the more authentical, I have here set them down in order, as they were inventoricd.

The Parcels presented by the Duke to the King.

A case full of silks, of divers colours.
Another, full of cloth of silver, of divers sorts and colours.
Another, full of cloth of gold, of divers colours.
A dimond set in a ring.

An ancient garment, of very great value, being a trophy, taken from the French at St. Quintain's, embroidered and garnished about the neck with many jewels; four white horses, which the old man had forgotten, and divers other pieces not named.

Those parcels that were sent from the King to the Duke.

A great chain of gold of very good value, two peutrils, two bits, two pair of stirrups, all garnished with diamonds, rubies, and other stones of great price.

One diamond set in gold, which Bartholomæo Verneti said was as big as the nail of his right-thumb.

Many East-Indian dishes, of sundry colours, with other rich things of good esteem.

For the second of the last proofs, being the fourth and last, you shall understand that there be four merchants at Venice, men endued with wealth, honour, estimation, and charity, that in my hearing have named these four witnesses. Barnaba Rizzo, Jean Bassanesse, Constantine Nicoli, who keeps in his hand the uriginal letter of don Raimond Marqueti, by which it is manifest that Don Sebastian is one man, and Marco Tullio Catizzone another: which letter he shewed publickly at St. Mark's, to convince the falshood of the Castilians, and their adherents : For the which and such other like services, the Spaniards could not be appeased without revenge. The nineteenth of October, I had intelligence by letters, that one came into this honest man's shop, his servants being all sent out of the way, and cut him on the head with a cutlass, and in divers other places so dangerously, that he was in great peril of his life. The malefactor escaped unknown. The fourth and last is called Baptista Dolphin, and these four have been good friends to the King, both by entertaining him and travelling in his affairs, to the uttermost of their power, to set him at liberty, without intermission of any minute of opportunity, that might be spent in his profitable service. But the Castilian agents, considering and knowing the zeal of these personages, and observing their constancy, that, both with all their might and main, defended the cause of the King my master : seeing that neither fair promises, persuasions, nor threatenings, could make them desist from their vowed fidelity and assistance, entered into this devilish practice. First they began to publish these witnesses to be fools, couseners, and rogues, and persuaded certain bankers and brokers to lay wagers with them, that the prisoner was not Don Sebastian the King : assuring them that they might offer to give a thousand for one, if ever it were proved or published; for that they knew assuredly, that he was a Calabrian, a sodomite, a thief, a cousener, and a counterfeit, and that 'ere long they should see him hanged upon one of the pillars of St. Mark's church. These usurers believing this to be true, and desirous to make gain of any thing, began to enter into the course of laying wagers, as the Castilians had advised them.

The witneseses hearing they offered so frankly a thousand to one, if the prisoner were judged to be Don Sebastian, &c. knowing certainly that it was he (believing that the senate, in regard of such especial marks, tokens, and proofs, would not refuse to publish him, what they had found him) were easily drawn to bargain with these bankers, to some of the which, the simple and honest men gave out twenty, some thirty, some fifty, some

[ocr errors]

ten, some five crowns, in hopes to be paid a thousand for one: So that they had given out some three-hundred crowns or more; and, shortly after they found out the wrong and hinderance they had done to the poor King's cause, by their money, they began to repent themselves exceedingly of their folly: The account was cast, that the repayment would amount to three-hundred thousand crowns. And the baukers seeing themselves engaged for so great a sum of money; and if the senate should chance to publish that which they knew to be true, that they were like to be stripped of the greatest part of their substance, began to complot and oppose themselves to countercheck the truth, which fell out to be a great prejudice and bar to the King my master's cause; for that many chief men, and the factors of many principal houses, were interested in this hazard of indemnity : As those of the house of Astroci, Caponi, Baglioni, Labia, Jacobo Begia, Antonio Simone, Pietro Tobon, Bastian Garinoni, and many others of their parents and allies, for their sakes; among which were divers that bare offices in the commonwealth, as Jacobo Fescurini a proctor in St. Mark, that was ever an enemy to the King my master. In the end this devilish invention, and Castilian pernicious policy, wrought us much woe, and multiplied our enemies infinitely: For it was so comnionly known and spoken, that little children, as they went for mustard, could say, that this was the principal cause why the senators would have had Don Sebastian

he was not Don Sebastain but a Calabrian, and they promised straight to set him at liberty; and not that favour alone, but they would do what else for him, he could or would require. Whereupon he wrote a letter to the Pope, complaining justly upon the senators of Venice, for requiring at his hands so unlawful a thing, to whom he declared in his letter, that he answered them, that he had rather die a tortured death, than confess so palpable an untruth, to gain an ignominious life and liberty. O that it were possible for me to * speak all that is true in this case ! But I must let pass infinite injuries, lest the revealing all might rather aggravate than relieve my master's miseries. If I durst, this discourse should have been more ample, and better understood ; if it were lawful that I might say what I could say, that the monarchs and princes of Christendom have done the King my lord secretly and openly much good and ill, and are unwilling either of both should be manifested to the world in writing. Notwithstanding I will never bury in silence an answer that a grand Sabio of this commonwealth made to a magnificent prince in Europe, of great understanding, but of no great antiquity. This Sabio, going to visit this prince, was intreated by him to tell him what ground the seigniory of Venice had, to proceed upon the prisoner in that form, which called hiinself Don Sebastian King of Portugal? for (said he) if they found him to be a Calabrian, why did they set him at liberty without chastisement ? And if it were verified unto them by good proofs' and evidences that he was Don Sebastian King of Portugal, why did they use him in that manner? The grand Sabio publickly made this answer in the presence of many. Sir, forasmuch as the affairs concerned the estate of Spain, the seigniory would not presume to judge whether it was he or not, This man was committed for disobeying a commandment the seigniory laid upon him, and therefore restrained two years of his liberiy, to the end he might repent him of his fault, and after the expiration of two years again dismissed him upon the like commandment. And to be plain with your excellency: The man would follow no good advice, but was wilful, turbulent, and of ill government, by which means much ill is come unto him. That word, ill advised, might have been well interpreted, for that he would not deny himself to be that which undoubtedly he was. It was not my fortune to be present at this act, being elsewhere employed out of those parts : but at my return it was related to me, by a learned person that was there present; which afterward the same prince himself did ratify unto me, assuring me that the answer of that Sabio Grand did verily induce hiin to believe, that that prisoner was Don Sebastian, the very true King of Portugal: For if the seignory had held this man to be a Calabrian, said this prince, to what purpose did the Sabio hold me with such a long discourse publickly, considering he knew the privity of the affairs? If he had been proved a Calabrian, it had been suficient to have said in a word, Sir, he was a Calabrían, an impostor, and a cousener, without any more ado. But you see how the world fares, and how it sways abruptly, and so ends my pitiful narration; advising, interesting, and conjuring you (gentle reader) to shun the snares and trips of these subtle enemies: For I can assure you, by the testimony of a good conscience, that they be those that St. Chrysostome terms the Pha. risees, Qui portabant mel in ore, & fel in corde : They will Aap you in the mouth with honey, which, when you begin to chew, perhaps you shall taste sweet, but, in the digestion, you shall find it most bitter in operation, Farewell.

say,

THE

HISTORY OF ENGLAND.

THE FIRST BOOK.

DECLARING THE
STATE OF THE ISLE OF BRITAIN

UNDER THE

ROMAN EMPIRE. London, printed by Valentine Simmes, for John Barnes, dwelling in Pleetstreet,

at the sign of the Great Turk, 1602. Quarto, containing one-hundred sixteen Pages.

THE PREFACE,

I HAVE oftentimes wished, that (amongst so many large volumes, and abridgements of our English Chronicles, as are now extant) wo might have one continued history collected out of approved writers, and digested in such a manner, as the reader might neither be tired with the length of fabulous and extravagant discourses, nor left unsatisfied in any material points, or circumstances, worth his knowledge. And, although truth in her nakedness and simplicity ought, for her own sake, to be desired and preferred above all other things, yet, we see, that the nature of man, affecting, for the most part, rather pleasure than profit, doth more willingly embrace such things as delight the sense, than such as confirm the judgment; though, to satisfy both the one and the other, is accounted, in matters of this kind, the mark at which the best writers have aimed, as being the very type of Perfection itself: In which respect, I am persuaded, that such a work would be the better accepted, if the writer thereof should observe that method which hath been used in former times, by the best historiographers amongst the Greeks and Romans, who, to shew their own wits, and to refresh their readers, devised set speeches and orations, to interlace, with their true histories, as things both allowable and commendable, so far forth as they were grounded upon probable conjectures, fitting the speakers, and void of absurdity

Which course hath been held also in our own stories, by some of our countrymen, in writing upon particular subjects, which they have chosen as most agreeable to their own humours, and ministering best matter of discourse. Amongst all which, of this kind that excellent story of Richard the Third, written by Sir Thomas Moore, if my judgment fail me not, may worthily challenge the hrst place.

To write much in commendation of histories were, I suppose, but to spend time, as the sophister did in praising of Hercules, whom no man, in his right wits, ever dispraised: and the proems of historical books are already filled with discourses of the profitable use that may be made of them, considering, that examples, as the most familiar and pleasing kind of learning, are found, by common experience, to be much more available to the reforming of manners, than bare rules and precepts. If then the knowledge of histories in general be so commodious and commendable a thing, as learned men, in all ages, have esteemed it, I make no doubt, but it will be easily confessed, that there is no history so fit for Englishmen, as the very history of England; in which, if the affection I bear to my native country deceive me not, there are many things, besides the necessary use thereof, very well worthy to be remembered and observed : Howsoever, our chronicles have been a long time condemned for barbarous, as wanting that purity of language, wherewith the histories of many othernations are adorned : and, indeed, I could wish, that they were so set forth, as our gentlemen of England might take no less pleasure in reading the same, than they do now in reading the English translations of the Roman, French, and Italian histories, which, though they may be delightful, and, in some kinds, profitable, yet, is not the knowledge of them altogether so pertinent, and proper to us, as of the other, except we would desire to seem citizens of another country, and strangers in our own.

And although to some, perhaps, it may seem a labour unnecessary, to begin with such ancient things as were done here by the Romans,

« PreviousContinue »