Page images
PDF
EPUB

hard by the park,) and within a quarter of an hour after he sent for Mr. St. John's man, who hath been several times here with him at Roterdam about his own affairs. He went to him without sword or cloak, and Apsley led him above a quarter of a mile from the house, and there told him he did confess he was beholden to him for severall civilities; and so embracing him took an opportunity to cast a rope over his head, and swore, Dam him * he must be hanged. But the fellow had a long periwigg on, which he slipt off, together with the halter, and went his way. Within half an houre, Apsley brought it back to the dore, and desired to speak with Mr. Walter St. John; but it was not thought convenient to open the dore. The next morning Apsley sent the fellow a letter to this effect:—Sir, I did very much wonder to see you the last night surprised with so sudden a fear, which (I confess), when I perceived, I did as foolishly encrease : but I would not have you conceive I intended you any mischief, my design being only to bring you to Mr. Nevill (a name that the fellow never heard of) who desires to speak with you.

“My lord acquainted the States with this by letter. They sent an account this day by Minheer Catz, that they had sent to apprehend him, but could not find him; yet, if he were in Holland, they resolved to have him and make him exemplary. They have sent to all places within their jurisdiction to have him apprehended.”

The next week the same subject is continued in the Mercurius. Some of the doings at the Hague remind us of the wild frolics of the Royalists in Walter Scott's “Woodstock.”

“You heard in my last of Apsley's designe: he is fled and cannot be heard of. # * *

“We have not yet made any progress, this being Annuall Jubilee, and a time of feasting amongst the Dutch ; so that the States sate not again untill Saturday; nor have the commissioners appointed to treat with my lords been here since Saturday was sennight; wherefore we have little else to communicate, save the abuses offered to ourselves and servants : yet few of our affronters will stand to it in the daytime, as hath appeared in some slight quarrels among the servants and footmen, and some of the rascality.

“Yet on Sunday night last there was a great company gathered about the gate, who broke the windows with stones, threatening highly. On Monday, in the afternoon, there was some quarrel at the dore, and swords drawn, wherein our servants were ingaged, and shewed more spirit than discretion: for the French lacqueys (who began the quarrel) retired still backward, and our men follow’d without fear or wit, till they had gotten a street and a halfe from our own dore toward the court; whither I suppose the French drew them, on purpose to insnare them; but they were timely called off, and followed only with a volley of stones and curses. But in the evening, about eight or nine a clock, no lesse (I am confident) than three hundred gathered about the dore, where they continued till twelve, which was till they were dispersed by the town-guard (as they say); but I scarce beleeve it, because wee hear of none that were apprehended. The stones and the brick-batts flew about the windows and over the walls pretty currantly. The porter got a knock on the pate which broke his head, as he stood within the dore, which was all the harm God suffered them to do us; but their threats were high. They moved sometimes toward the gates with a full crie, Fall on, fall on, fall on ; and truly we did expect a storme, for which we were very ill provided, haveing not three charges of pouder apeece for our guns in the house, nor guns enough to stand the encounter of half that number of men if furnished with any resolution. “There were two or three sent to the top of the house to discover the multitude and their actions; one of them, seeing some (as he affirmed) endeavouring with levers to throw down the great gates, let fly among them,-we understand no hurt was done; but at length they vanished. The next morning the magistrates of the town published a proclamation against these tumults for the future, and offered a guard, which my lords neither accepted nor refused: onely told the messenger they thought they had been sufficiently guarded by the law and custom of nations; and therefore they expected protection, which was promised: but it had come too late, if the rake-hels had pursued their business, who (as the honester sort of people say here) are set on by the Papists and French about the town; and they would make us believe that the town is very tender of us. We are told this day that last night they took the chief actor in the former uproar, who is likely to be hanged.”

LXXXVI.

MACHIAVELLI IN HIS RETIREMENT.

This extraordinary man, after filling some of the highest offices of the Florentine government, and associating with the first men of his age, was, in his fortythird year, driven into an obscure retirement, where his only companions were rustics, and his main resource his books. It will not be uninteresting to show how his naturally active, restless mind adapted itself to circumstances, and found occupation and amusement in the most trivial things. We should observe, however, that as he had not long before been put to the torture by the Medici, the destroyers of his country's liberty, and had only recently emerged from a dungeon, whence he had expected to pass to the scaffold, the common blessings of sun and air must have had unusual charms for him, and the hills, the woods, the waters of fair Tuscany must have been relished with a zest unknown to those who had never breathed

[graphic]

“The accursed breath of dungeon-dew.”

The place of his retreat was a small farm, called La Strada, near to the town of San Casciano, on the road from Florence to Rome. In a letter written on the 10th of December 1513, to his friend Francesco Vettori, who was then ambassador at Rome, Machiavelli says,

“Here I am then in the country; and since my last misfortunest I have not been, putting them altogether, twenty days in Florence. Up till now I have been killing thrushes. Getting up before daylight, I prepared my snares, and set off with a heap of cages at my back. * * * I caught at least two, and at most seven, thrushes. In this manner I passed all the month of September; and, though the amusement was a queer and vulgar one, I was very sorry when it failed me. I will now tell you the life I have led since. I rise with the sun; I walk to a wood of mine, which I am cutting; I stay there a couple of hours, inspecting the work done the preceding day, and gossiping with the woodmen. *** On leaving the wood, I go to a fountain, and thence to the spot where my birdnets and snares are, with a book in my hand, either Dante or Petrarca, or one of the minor Latin poets, Tibullus,

f Namely, his imprisonment and torture.

« PreviousContinue »