Page images
PDF
EPUB

himself sometimes contemptible (gg).- And

from

cure success, and have the love and affection of those over whom they bear rule. To which let me add, that indolent princes are very insecure; they become victims frequently to the ambition of their own servants, and fall, though not unpitied, yet quite unlamented; For the people have sense enough to know, that a lise devoted to ease and pleasure, is of no importance to them, and therefore, with indifference, see it destroyed, though by those who ought to have desended it.

(gg) Indulged himself in drinking, &c.] Weldon observes, that "James was not intemperate in his drink"ing;" but he adds, " however in his old age, and "Buckingham's jovial suppers, when he had any turn "to do with him, made him sometimes overtaken, "which he would the very next day remember, and "repent with tears: it is true, he drank very often, "which was rather out of a custom than any delight, "and his drinks were of that kind for strength, as "frontiniack, canary, high-country wine, tent wine, "and Scotish ale, that had he not had a very strong brain, "might have daily been overtaken, although he sel"dom drank at any one time above four spoonsuls,

(a) Weldon," many times not above one or two (a)." This is

p. 166. very modest in Weldon. But other authors go a little

farther, and make James shew himself beneath a man

, by his intemperance. "The king was excessively ad

"dicted to hunting and drinking (fays Coke) not ordi

"nary French and Spanish wines, but strong Greek

." wines; and though he would divide his hunting from

"drinking these vvines, yet he would compound his

"hunting with di inking these wines, and to that pur

. " pose he was attended with a special officer, who was

"as much as could be always at hand, to fill the king's

"cup in his hunting, when he called for it. I have

"heard my father lay, that being hunting with the

"king,

from his known love of masculine beauty, Jiis excessive favour to such as were possessed

*e king, after the king had drank of the wine, he also

"drank of it, and though he was young and G/ an

"healthsul constitution, it so disordered his head, that

"it spoiled his pleasure, and disordered him for three

ct days after. Whether it was from drinking these

** wines, or from some other cause, the king became

"so lafcy and' unwieldy, that he was trust on horse

** back, and as he was set, so would he ride, without

*' otherwise poising himself ort his faddle; nay, when

"his hat was set on his head, he would not take the

"pains to alter it, but it fat as it was upon him (£)." (&) Coke'»

I doubt not but this account is truej Sully taking no- detect'<^,

tice, that " James's custom was never to mix water °* 'P+2S

"with his wine (c)." And therefore, though SirEd ward M Sully,

Piyton be a partial writer, and prejudiced much against "''

the Stuart race, yet I believe the following story from

him will not be deemed improbable. " When the king;.,, D . ,

** of Denmark [brother-in-law lo fames ] was hrst of divine cata

'{ all in England, both kings were so drunk at Theo- strophe of

"bald's, as our king was carried in the arms of the ^j| l"*y.

*,' courtiers, when one cheated another of the bed- house of

"chamber, for getting a grant from king fames, for Stuar"> p.

"that he would give him the best jewel in England for Lo'nd/i^t

'' a jewel of a hundred pound he promised him 5 and These quo

•' so put kin?- fames in his arms, and carried him to tatlons from

W**Istnn

"his lodging* and defrauded the bed-chamber man, Coke aJ. "who had much ado to get the king into his bed. Peyton, are "And Denmark was so disguised, as he would have ve,y ?dd,y '' lain with the countess of Nottingham, making horns '",eiynea"u-* '' in derision at her husband, the high admiral of Eng- pressed; but "land (rl)." I faid just now, this story, 1 believed, the reader would not be thought improbable; and I doubt not the th"m *st£ reader by the following letter of the countess of Nut- are, and not tingham to the Danish ambassador, will readily assent to expect them

. ar . . r- r ,'. e c M.1. 1 Hoc altered

it, seeing it confirms so chiet a part or it as the rude in or(Ur t behaviour of the Danish king to that lady. Tis wrote please,

F a with

sessed of it, and unseemly Caresses of them,

one

with spirit, and worthy perufal, which therefore I insert at large. ,

"SIR, '* I am very sorry this occasion should have been ofsered me by the king your master, which makes me troublesome to you for the present. It is reported to me by men of honour, the great wrong the king of Danes hathdone me, when I was not by to answer for myself; for if I had been present, I would have letten him know how much I scorn to receive that wrong at his hands. I need not to urge the particular of it, for the king himself knows it best. I protest to you, Sir, I did think as honourably of the king your master, as I did of my own prince; but now I persuade myself there is as much baseness in him as can be in any man; for although he be a prince by birth, it seems not to me that there harbours any princely thought in his breast; for either in prince or subject, it is the basest that can be to wrong any woman of honour. I deserve as little that name he gave me, as either the mother of himself, or of his children; and if ever I come to know what man hath informed your master so wrongsully of me, I shall do my best for putting him from doing the like to any other: but if it hath come by the tongue of any woman, I dare fay she would be glad to have companions. So leaving to trouble you any surther, I rest

"your friend,

(.) Supple- '' M. Nottingham («}."

ment to the

o6.baito P" There can, I think, remain no doubt but that Peytond. 1654. fjn's account is true; and consequently, when considered with what Weldon and Coke relate, it must be believed, that Jams addicted himself to drinking in such

a. manner,

one would be tempted to think, that he was not wholly free from a vice most unnatu- ral (hh).

He

a manner, as to render himself sometimes contemptible. "For it is not for kings to drink wine, nor for princes *' strong drink; lest they drink and forget the law, "and pervert the judgment of any of the afflicted (/)" (fj Prov. Drunkenness throws princes off their guard, and ex- *xxi. 4' poses those weaknesses which it most of all behoves them to conceal; and it takes off that reverence for their persons, which is necessary to make their subjects stand in a proper awe of them, and pay a submission to their commands. It debases the man, sinks the prince, spoils the politician, and reveals those secrets which are most v necessary to be concealed. "Drunkenness, fays Mon"taigne, seems to me to be a gross and brutish vice. *c The foul has the greatest interest in all the rest, and "there are some vices that have something, if a man *' may so fay, of generous in them. There are vices IC wherein there is a mixture of knowledge, diligence, *' valour, prudence, dexterity, and cunning: this is M totally corporeal and earthly, and the thickest skulled "nation [the Germans] this day in Europe, is that "where it is most in fashion. Other vices discompose "the understanding, this totally overthrows it, and "renders the body stupid (g)." These reflections seem sgj Morf. just and obvious, but they occurred not to the mind of taigne, Vol. 'James, or made little impression on him; for he seems p"15* to have been guided in his whole behaviour more by will and humour, by passion and inclination, than by wisdom, prudence, or discretion. So that his knowledge was of little service to him, and seldom caused him to act as a wise man, or an understanding king. It enabled him to talk, but was wholly insufsicient to regulate his actions; and so, in effect, was no better than ignorance.

(flH) From his known love of masculine beautv, ?2 *c.J He used cursing and swearing in his common,

&c.] I shall give my authorities, and leave the reader to judge what conclusion is to be drawn from them.— *' As no other reason appeared in favour of their [the , f* favourites of James] choice but handsomeness, so

"the love the king shewed, was as amorously convey** ed as if he had mistaken their sex, and thought them "ladies; which I have seen Somerset and Buckingham V labour to resemble in the effeminatehess of their dref

*' sings; though in w . looks, and wanton gestures,

*e they exceeded any part of woman-kind my conver"fation did ever cope withal. Nor was his love, or. "whatever else posterity will please to call it, (who "must be the judges of alLthat history shall inform) "carried on with a discretion sufficient to cover a less "scandalous behaviour; for the king's kissing them "after so lascivious a mode in public, and upon the "theatre as it were of the world, prompted many to "imagine some things done in the tyring-house, that "exceed my expressions no less than they do my expe." rience; and therefore left floating on the waves of "conjecture, which hath in my hearing tossed them "from one side to another. I have heard that SirHen"ry Rich, since earl of Holland, and some others, ret* fused his majesty's favour upon those conditions they *' subscribed to, who silled that place in his affection: "Rich losing that opportunity his curious face and com"plection afforded him, by turning aside and spitting (a) Ofborn, * ' after the king had slabbered his mouth (a)."—" Welh S'A, *' don, who saw James's parting with Somerset, just be"fore his commitment for Overbury's murther, fays, "that had you seen that seeming affection, you would "rather have believed he was in his rising than set"ting. The earl when he kissed his hand, the king "hung about his neck-, slabbering his cheeks, faying, "for God's fake when shall I see thee again? on my *' soul 1 shall neither eat nor sleep until you come again; W the earl told him on Monday (this being on the Fri

« PreviousContinue »