THE LIFE AND DEATH OF GEORGE VILLERS, Late Duke of Buckingham.
I Determine to write the life, and the end, the nature, and the fortunes, of George Villers, late Duke of Buckingham: which yet I have not undertaken out of any wanton pleasure in mine own pen; Nor truely without often ponde∣ring with my selfe before hand what Censures I might incurre: for I would not be ignorant by long observation, both abroad and at home; That every where all Greatnesse of power and favour is Circum∣vested with much prejudice. And that it is not easie for writers to research with due distinction (as they ought) in the Actions of eminent personages, both how much many have beene blemished by the envy of others, and what was corrupted by their owne felicity, unlesse after the Period of their splendor; which must needes Dazell Page 2 their beholders and perhaps often times themselves, we could as in some Scenes of the fabulous Age, excite them againe and conferre a while with their naked Ghosts: How ever for my part: I have no servile or ignoble end in my present labour, which may on either side restraine or embase the freedome of my poore judgment: I will therefore steere as evenly as I can, and deduce him from his Cradle through, the deepe and lubricke wayes of State and Court, till he was swallowed in the Gulfe of falelity.
I finde him borne in the yeere of our Saviour 1592. on the 28. of August at Brookesby in Leycester-shire, where his Ancestors had cheifly continued about the space of fourehundred yeeres, rather without obscurity, then with any great luster. After they had long before beene seated in Kinalton in the County of Nottingham, he was the third sonne of George Villars Knight, and Mary late Coun∣tesse of Buck. and Daughter to Anthony Beaumont of Co∣leorton Esquier, names on either side well known of Anci∣ent extraction. And yet I remember there was one, who in a wild Pamphlet which he published, besides other pittifull, Maglignities would scant allow him to be a Gentleman. He was nurtured where he had beene borne, in his first Ru∣diments till the yeeres of ten. And from thence sent to Billisden Schoole in the same County, where he was taught the principalls of Musicke, and other slight Literature, till the Thirteenth of his age; At which time his father dyed. Then his beautifull and provident Mother, (for those Attributes will not be denyed her) tooke him home to her house at Goodby, where shee had him in especiall care, so as he was first, (as we may say,) a Domesticke favorite; But finding him (as it should seeme) by nature little studious and contemplative, she chose rather to endue him with Conversative Qualities and Ornaments of youth, as Dancing Fencing and the like, Not without perchance even then (though far of) at a Courtiers life. To which lessons, he had such a dexterous proclitie, as his teachers Page 3 were faine to restraine his forwardnesse; to th'end that his brothers who were under the same trayning might hold pace with him. About the Age of Eighteene he travelled into France, where he improved himselfe well in the Language for one, that had so little Grammaticall foun∣dation, but more in the exercises of that Nobility for the space of three yeeres. And yet came home in his natu∣rall plight, without affected formes (the ordinary disease of Travellers. After his returne, he passed againe one whole yeere (as before) at Goodby under the Winge and Councells of his Mother: And then was forward to be∣come a suter at London to Sir Roger Ashtons Daugh∣ter, a Gentleman of the Bed chamber to King Iames, and Master of his Roabes, about which times, he falls into in∣trinsecall society with Sir John Greham, then one of the Gentlemen of his Maiesties Privie Chamber, who I know not upon what Luminaryes he spyed in his face, disswaded him from marriage, and gave him rather incouragement to woe fortune in Court, which advise sancke well into his fancy, for within some while, the King had taken by certaine Glauaces, (where of the first was at Apthorpe in a progresse) such liking of his person, that he resolved to make him a Master-peice, and to Mould him as it were Platonically to his owne Idea. Neither was his Majestie content onely to be the Architect of his fortune, with∣out putting his Gracious hand likewise to some part of the worke it selfe. Insomuch as it pleased him to descend and to avale his goodnesse, even to the giving of his foresaid friend Sir Iohn Grcham secret directions, how and by what degrees he should bring him into favour. But this was quickly discovered by him, who was then as yet in some possession of the Kings heart. For there is nothing more Vigilant, nothing more jealous, then a favorite, especially towards the wayning time and suspect of saciety, so as many Arts were used to discusse the beginnings of new affliction, (which lye out of my Roade) being a part of an∣other Page 4 mans story) All which notwithstanding (for I omitt things intervenient) there is Conveyed to Master Villers an intimation of the Kings pleasure to waite and to be sworne his servant. And shortly after his Cup∣bearer at large; And the Summer following he was ad∣mitted in ordinary. After which time favours came thicke upon him, (liker mayne showers, then sprinkling Droppes or Dewes) for the next Saint Georges-day he was Knighted and made Gentleman of the Kings-Bed∣chamber, and the same very day had an Annuall pension given him for his better support of one thousand pounds out of the Court of Wards. At Newyeers-tide following the King chose him Master of the Horse, After this hee was installed of the most Noble Order, And in the next August he Created him Baron of Whaddon, and Vis∣count Villers. In Ianuary of the same yeere he was ad∣vanced Earle of Buckingham, and sworne here of his Majesties Privie Counsell: As if a favorite were not so before, the March ensuing he attended the King into Scotland, And was likewise sworne a Counseller in that Kingdome, whereas (I have beene instructed by unpassi∣onate men) he did carry himselfe with singular sweet∣nesse and temper, which I held very credible for it be∣hoved him, being new in favor, and succeeding one of their owne; to study a moderate stile among those ge∣nerous Spirits. About Newyeers-tyde after his return from thence (for those beginnings of yeeres were very pro∣pitious unto him, as if Kings did choose remarkable dayes to inaugurate their favors, that they may appeare Actes aswell of the times, as of the Will) he was Created Marquis of Buckingham, and made Lord Admirall of England, Chiefe Iustice in Eyre of all the Parkes and Forrests in the South-side of Trent, Master of the Kings-Bench office (none of the unprofitablest peeces) Head Steward of Westminster, and Constable of Windsor-Castle.
Here I must breath a while to satisfie some that per∣haps Page 5 might otherwise wonder at such an Accumu∣lation of benefits, like a kinde of Embroidering or listing of one favour upon another. Certainly the hearts of great Princes, if they be considered as it were in ab∣stract, without the necessity of States and Circumstances of time being besides their naturall extent, moreover once opened and dilated with affection, can take no full and pro∣portionate pleasure in the exercise of any narrow Bounty. And albeit at first they give onely vpon Choice and love of the person, yet within a while themselves like∣wise begin to love their givings, and to foment their deeds, no lesse then Parents doe their Children: but let us goe on.
For these Offices and Dignities already rehearsed and these of the like nature which I shall after set downe in their place, (were as I am ready to say) but the facings or fringes of his greatnesse, in comparison of that trust, which his last most gracious Master did cast vpon him, in the one and twentieth yeere of his Raigne when he made him the Chiefe concomitant of his heire apparant, and only sonne, our deere Soveraigne: now be∣ing in a journey of much Adventure, and which (to shew the strength of his privacie) had beene before not communicated with any other of his Majesties most reserved Counsellers at home, being carryed with great closenesse, liker a busines of love then state; as it was in the first intendment. Now because the whole King∣dome stood in a zealous trepidation of the absence of such a Prince; I have beene the more desirous to re∣search with some diligence, the severall passages of the said journey, and the particular Accidents of any mo∣ment in their way. They began their motion, in the yeere 1623. on Tewsday the 18. of February from the Marquis his house of late purchase; at Newhall in Essex, setting out with disguised Beards, and with borrow∣ed Names of Thomas and Iohn Smith, And then attended Page 6 with none, but Sir Richard Greham Master of the Horse to the Marquesse, and of in ward trust about him. When they passed the River against Gravesend, for lacke of silver they were faine to give the Ferry-man a pecce of two and twenty shillings, which strooke the poore fellow into such a melting tendernesse, that so good Gentlemen should be going, (for so he suspected) about some quarrell beyond Sea, as he could not forbeare to ac∣quaint the Officers of the I owne, with what had befallen him, who sent presently post for there stay at Rochester, through which they were passed before any Intelli∣gence could arrive. On the brow of the Hill beyond that City, they were somewhat perplexed by espying the French Embassador, with the Kings Coach and other attending him, which made them bleuch, the beaten Roade, and teach Post hackneys to leape hedges. At Canterbury, whether some voyce, (as it should seeme,) was runne on before, the Mayor of the Towne came himselfe to seise on them, as they were taking fresh Horses, in a blunt manner, alleadging first a warrant to stop them from the Councell, next from Sir Lewis Lewkner Master of the Ceremonies, and lastly from Sir Henry Manwaring then Lieutenant of Dover, Castle. At all which confused fiction, the Marquis had no leasure to laugh, but thought best to dismaske his beard, and so told him, that he was going covertly with such slight com∣pany to take a secret veiw (being Admirall) of the for∣wardnesse of his Majesties Fleete, which was then in pre∣paration on the Narrow Seas: this with much a doe did somewhat hansomly heale the disguisment. On the way, on afterwards, the baggage post boy, who had beene at Court, got (I know not how) a glimering who they were; But his mouth was easily shut. To Dover, though bad Horses, and those prety impediments, they came not before fix at night; where they found Sir Francis Cot∣tington then Secretary to the Prince, now Baron of Page 7Hanwart, and Master Endimion Porter, who had beene sent before to provide a Vessell for their transportati∣on. The foresaid Knight was enjoyned for the neere∣nesse of his place on the Princes affaires, and for his long Residence in the Court of Spaine, where he had gotten singular credit, even with that cautions Nation by the temper of his Carriage. Master Porter was taken in, not onely as a Bed-chamber servant of Confidence to his Highnes, but likewise as a necessary and usefull Instru∣ment for his naturall skill in the Spanish tongue. And these five were at the first the whole Parada of this journey. The next morning, for the night was tem∣pestuous, on the 16. of the foresaid Moneth taking ship at Dover about six of the clocke, they landed the same day at Bulloyn in France, neere two houres after Noone; reaching Monstruell that night: (like men of dispatch) and Paris the second day after, being Friday the one and twentieth, but some three posts before, they had met with two German Gentlemen that came newly from England, where they had scene at Newmarket the Prince and the Marquis taking Coach together with the King, and retained such a strong impression of them both, that they now bewrayed some knowledge of their persons; but were out faced by Sir Richard Greham, who would needs perswade them they were mistaken: which in truth is no very hard matter, for the very strangnesse of the thing it selfe; and almost the impossibility to conceive so great a Prince and favorite so suddenly Metamor∣phized into travellers with no greater traine, was enough to make any man living unbeleeve his five sences. And this I suppose next the assurance of their owne well re∣solved Carriage, against any new accedent to have beene their best Anchor in all such Incounters. At Paris the Prince spent one whole day to give his minde some con∣tentment in veiwing of a famous City and Court, which was a neighbour to his future estates, But for the better Page 8 Veiling of their visages, his Highnesse and the Marquesse bought each of them a Perriwigge somewhat to over∣shaddow their foreheads. Of the King they got a sight after dinner in a Gallery where he was solacing himselfe with familiar pleasures. And of the Queene Mother as shee was at her owne Table; In neither place desired, no not by Mounsier Cadinet, who saw them in both, one hath bin lately Ambassador in England. Towards Evening, by a meere chance, in appearance, though underlined with a providence, they had a full sight of the Queene Infanta, and of the princesse Henriettae Marie, with other great Ladyes at the practise of a Masquing Daunce, which was then in preparation; having overheard two Gentlemen who were tending towards that sight, after whom they pressed and and were let in by the Duke De Mont Bason, the Queenes Lord Chamberlaine, out of humanity to strangers when diverse of the French went by. Note here even with a point of a Diamond by what oblige steppes and immagi∣nable preparatives, the high disposes of Princes affections doth sometimes contriue the secrets of his will, for by this casuall curiosity, it fell out that when afterwards the mar∣riage came in motion betweene our Soveraigne Lord and the aforesaid most Amiable Princesse. It must needs be (howsoever unknowne) no small spurre to the treaty, that shee hath not before beene altogether a stranger to his Eye.
From the next day, when they departed at three of the clocke in the morning from Paris being the 23. of February were spent six dayes to Bayon, the last Towne of France, having before at Bourdeaux, bought them five Riding Coates, all of one colour and fashion in a kinde of Noble simplicity, where Sir Francis Cottington was imployed in a faire manner to keepe them from being entertained by the Duke De Espernon, telling him they were Gentlemen of mean degree, and formed yet to little Courtship, who per∣chance might otherwise (being himselfe no superficiall man Page 9 in the practizes of the World, have peirced somewhat deeper then their out-side.
They were now entred into the deep time of Lent, & could get no flesh in their Innes, Whereupon fell out a pleasant passage. (If I may insert it by the way among more feri∣ous) there was neere Bayon, a heard of Goates with their young ones, upon which sight, the said Sir Richard Greham tells the Marquesse, he would snap one of the Kids and make some shift to carry him close to their lodging; which the Prince over-hearing, why Richard sayes he, do you think you may practise here your old trickes againe upon the borders, Vpon which words they first gave the Goate-heard good contentment, and then while the Marquesse and his servant being both on foote were chasing the Kidde about the stacke, the Prince from Horse-backe killed him in the head with a Scottish Pistol, let this serue for a Iournall Paren∣thesis, which yet may shew how his Highnesse even in such slight and sportfull dammage had a Noble sense of just dea∣ling.
At Bayon, the Count De Gramont Governour of that jealouse kay tooke an exquisite notice of their persons and behavour & opened himselfe to some of his traine; that he thought them to be Gentlemen of much more worth then their habits bewrayed, yet he let them courteously passe. And foure dayes after, they arrived at Madrid, being Wednesday the fift of March. Thus have I briefly runned over transcursions; as if my pen had bin posting with them; which done, I shall not neede to relate the affluence of our Nobles and others from hence into Spaine, after the voyce of our Prince his being there had beene quickly noysed, and at length beleeved, neither will I stay to consider the Arts of Rome, where now all Engines were Whetted (though Page 10 by the Divine blessing very vainly, when they had gotten a Prince of great Brittaine, upon Catholicke ground as they use to call it.
This, and the whole matter of Negotiation there, the open entertainments, the secret working, the Apprehensions on both sides, the apparance on neither. And in summe, all the circumstances and respect of Religion and State, inter∣mixed together in that commicture, will better become a Royall History or a Counsell table, then a single life, yet I cannot omit some things which intervened, at the meeting of two Pleiades, me thinkes not unlike that which Astrolo∣gers call a conjunction of Planets, of no very benigne Aspect, the one to the other; I meane the Marquis of Buc∣kingham, and the Conde D'Olivers: They had some shar∣per, and some milder differences which might easily happen in such an interveene of Grandes; both vehe∣ment on the parts which they swayed. But the most remarkable was upon a supposition of the Condees, (as fancies are cheape) that the Marques had intimated unto her some hopes of the Prince his conversion, which comming into debate, the Marquesse so roundly disavowed this Guilded dreame, as Olivers alleadged he had given him La-Mentida, and thereupon formes a Compliment to the Prince himselfe; which Buckingham denying, and yet Olivers persisting in the said Compliment, the Mar∣quesse though now in strange hands, yet seeing both his honour and the truth at stake, was not tender likewise to engage his life, but replied with some heate, that the Condees asseveration would force him to doe that which he had not done before, for now he held himselfe tyed in termes of a Gentleman, to maintaine the contrary to his affirmative in any sort whatsoever. This was the Page 11 highest and the harshest point that occurred be∣tweene them; which that it went so farre was not the Dukes fault, non his fault, neither (as it should seeme) that it went no farther.
There was another memorable passage one day of gentler quality, and yet eager enough. The Conde d' Olivers tells the Marqesse of a certaine flying noyse that the Prince did plot to be secretly gone, to which the Marquis gave a well tem∣pered answer, that though love had made his Highnesse steale out of his owne Countrey, yet feare would never make him runne out of Spaine in other manner then should become a Prince of his Royall and generous Vertues. In Spaine they stayed neere eight intire moneths, du∣ring all which times, who but Buckingham, lay at home under millions of male-dictions, which yet, at the Prince his safe arrivall in the West did die and vanish here and there into praises and eligyes, ac∣cording to the Contrary motions of popular waves. And now to summe up the fruite of the journey, discourses ranne thus among the cleerest obseruers. It was said, that the Prince himselfe without any imaginable staine of his Religion, had by the sight of forraine Courts, and observations of the different natures of people, and Rules of government, much excited and awaked his Spirits, and corroborated his judgement: And as for the Marquis, there was note taken of two great additions which he had gained, first he was returned with encrease of title, having there beene made Duke, by Patent sent him, which was the highest degree whereof an English subject Page 12 could be capable. But the other was farre greater, though closer, for by so long and so private, and so various consociation with a Prince of such ex∣cellent nature, he had now gotten as it were two lives in his owne fortune and greatnesse; whereas otherwise the estate of a favorite is at the best, but a Tennant at will, and rarely transmitted. But concerning the Spanish Commission which in publique conceit was the maine scope of the Iourney, that was left in great suspence, and after some time ut∣terly laid aside, which threw the Duke amongst free Witts (whereof we have a Ranke soile) un∣der diverse Censures, the most part were apt to beleeve, that hee had brought downe some deepe distaste from Spaine, which exasperated his Coun∣cels; Neither was there wanting some other that thought him altogether voyd of a little Am∣bition to shew his power, either to knit or dis∣solve. Howsoever the whole Scene of affaires was changed from Spaine to France, there now lay the prospective, which alteration being gene∣rally liked, and all alterations of State being ever attributed to the powerfullest under Princes; (as the manner is where the eminency of one obscureth the Rest) the Duke became suddain∣ly and strangely Gracious among the multitude, and was even in Parliament highly exalted; so as hee did seeme for a time to have overcome that naturall Incompatability, which in the expe∣rience of all ages hath beene noted betweene the vulgar and the Soveraigne favour, but this was no more then a moere Bubble or blast, and Page 13 like an Ephemerall fit of applause as eft∣soone will appeare in the sequell and traine of his life; I had almost forgotten, that after his returne from Spaine, hee was made Lord Warden of the Sinque-Ports (which is as it were a second Admiralty) and Ste∣ward likewise of the Mannour of Hampton Court; Dignities and Offices still growing of trust or profit. And the King now giving not onely out of a beneficient disposition, but a very habituall and confirmed cu∣stome, one yeere, sixe Moneths, two dayes, after the joyfull reception of the Prince his sonne from Spain. King Iames of immortall memory (among all the lovers and admirers of Divine and humane Sapience) Accomplished at Theobals his owne dayes on Earth, under whom the Duke had runne a long Course of Calme and smooth prosperity; I meane long for the ordinary life of favour, and the more nota∣ble, because it had beene without any Visible Ecclipse, or Wane in himselfe, amidst diverse variations in others.
The most importunant and pressing care of a new and Vigorous King, was his marriage, for mediate establishment of the Royall lyne, wherein the Duke having had an especiall hand hee was sent to conduce hither the most lovely and Vertuous Princesse Henriette Mariae, youngest daughter to the great Henry of Burbon, of whom his Majestie as hath beene said, had an ambula∣tory view in his travells, like a stollen taste of Page 14 something that provoketh appetite) Hee was accompanied with none of our Peeres, but the Earle of Mountgomery, now Lord Chamber∣laine, a Noble Gentleman, of trusty, free, and open nature, and truely no insuitable Associate, for that hee himselfe likewise at the beginning of King Iames, had runne his Circle in the Wheeling Vicissitude of favour.
And heere I must crave leave, in such of high quality or other of particular note, as shall fall under my pen (whereof this is the first) not to let them passe, without their due Character being part of my professed ingenuity.
Now this Ambassy, though it had a private shew, being charged with more formalitie then matter (for all the essentiall Conditions were before concluded) could howsoever want no Ornaments or bravery to adorne it: among which I am neere thinking it worth of a little re∣membrance, that the Duke one solemne day Georgeously clad in a suite all over-spred with Diamonds, and having lost one of them of good Value, perchance as hee might be dauncing after his manner with lofty motion. It was strangly re∣covered againe, the next morning in a Court full of Pages, such a diligent attendant was fortune, every where both abroad and at home.
After this faire discharge, all civill honours having showred on him before, there now fell out great occasions to draw forth his spirits into action, a breach first with Spaine, and not long after with France it selfe, notwithstanding so Page 15 streight an affinity, so lately treated with the one, and actually accompished with other. As if indeed, accor∣ding to that pleasant Maxime of State, Kingdomes were never married, this must of necessity involue the Duke in businesse enough, to have over-set a lesser Vessell, being the next Commander under the Crowne of Portes and ships.
But he was noted willingly to embrace those Over∣tures of publicke imployment, for at the Parliament at Oxford, his youth and want of experience in Mari∣tine service had bin somewhat shrewdly touched, even before the sleuces & floudgates of popular liberty were yet set open; so as to wipe out that objection, hee did now mainly attend his charge, by his Majesties un∣troubled and sereen Commands, even in a tem∣pestuous time. Now the men fell a Rub∣bing of Armour, which a great while had layen oy∣led, The Magazines of Munition are veiwed, The Officers of Remaines called to account, frequent Counsells of Warre, as many private conferences with expert Sea-men, a fleete in preparation for some attempt upon Spaine.
The Duke himselfe personally imployed to the States Generall. And with him joyned in full Commission the Farle of Holland, a Peere both of singular grace and solidity, and of all sweete and ser∣viceable vertue for publicke use.
These two Nobles, after a dangerous passage from Harwich, wherin three of their Ships were foundred, arrived the fift day at the Hage in Holland, here they were to enter a treaty, both with the States themselves, and with the Ministers of diverse allyed, and confederate Princes, about a Common diversion for the recovery of the Palatinate, where the Kings only Sisters Doway had Page 16 beene ravished by the German Eagle, mixed with Spanish Feathers, a Princesse resplendent in darknesse, and whose vertues were borne within the chaunce, but without the power of fortune. Here, it were iniurious to overslip a Noble act in the Duke during this imployment, which I must for my part celebrate above all his expenses; there was a Collection of certain rare Manuscripts, exquisitly written in Arabique and sought in the most remote parts by the dili∣gence of Erpinius, the most Excellent Linguist, these had beene left to the Widdow of the said Erpinius, and were upon saile to the Iesuits at Autwerpe; Licourish Chapmen of such Ware. Whereof the Duke getting knowledge, by his worthy and learned Secretary Doctor Mason, Inter∣verted the bargaine, and gave the poore Widdow for them five hundred pounds, a summe above their weight in silver, and a mixed act both of bounty and charity, the more laudable being much out of his naturall Element. These were they, which after his death were as Nobly presented, as they had beene bought, to the University of Cambridge, by the Dutchesse Dowager, assoone as she understood by the a∣foresaid Doctor Mason, her husbands intention, who had a purpose likewise (as I am well instructed) to rayse in the said University (whereof he was Chancellour) a faire case for such Monuments, and to furnish it with other choice collections from all parts of his own charge, per∣chance in some Emulation of that famous Treasury of knowledge at Oxford: without paralel in the Christian world. But let me resume the file of my relation, which this Object of bookes (best agreeable to my course of life) hath a little interrupted, the aforesaid Negotiation though prosecuted with heale and probable appa∣of Page 17 great effects, took up a Moneth before the Dukes re∣turn from his excentricity (for so I account favourites a∣broad) and then at home he met with no good News of the Cadez Attempt: In the preparation thereof, though he had spent much solicitude ex officio, yet it principally failed (as was thought) by late setting out, and by some contrarie ty of Weather at Sea; whereby the particular designe took ve•• before-hand, a point hardly avoydable in actions of noyse, especially where the great Indian Key to all Cabinets is working. Not long after this, the King pondering in his Wisedom the weight of his forraign Affairs, found it fit to call a Parliament at Westminster; this was that Assembly where there appeared a sudden and marvellous conversion in the Dukes Case, from the most exalted, as he had been, both in another Parliament, and in common voyce before) to the most depressed now, as if his condition had been ca∣pable of no Mediocrities. And it could not but trouble him the more, by happening when he was so freshly return∣ed out of the Low-Provinces, out of a meritorious employ∣ment, in his inward conceit and hope, which being the single example that our Annals have yeelded, from the time of William de la Pool, Duke of Suffolke, under Henry the sixth, of such a concurrence of two extremes, within so short time, by most of the same Commenders and disprovers, like the Naturall breath of man, that can both heat and cool) would require no slight memoriall of the particular Mo∣tives of so great a change, but that the whole Case was dis∣persed by the Knights of Shires, and Burgesses of Towns, thorow all the Veynes of the Land, and may be taken by any at pleasure, out of the Parliament Registers: Besides that, I observe it not usuall amongst the best patterns, to stuffe the report of particular lives, with matters of publike re∣cord, but rather to dive (as I shall endeavour, before I wipe my pen) into secret and proper afflictions; howsoever some∣what I must note in this strange Phenomenon: It began from a travelled Doctor of Physick, of bold spirit, and of able Elocution; who being returned one of the Burgesses Page 18 (which was not ordinary in any of his Coat) fell by a Me∣taphoricall Allusion, translate from his own Faculty, to propound the Duke as a main cause of divers infirmities in the State, or neer that purpose; being sure enough of Se∣conds, after the first On-set, in the Lower House. As for any close intelligence that they had before-hand with some in the higher (though that likewise was said, I want ground to affirm or believe it more then a generall conceit) which per∣haps might run of the working of envy amongst those that were neerest the object which we see so familiar, both in naturall and morall causes, the Dukes answers to his ap∣peachments, in number thirteen, I finde very diligently and civilly couched: and though his heart was big, yet they all savour of an humble spirit one way, equitable consideration, which could not possesse every vulgar conceit, and somewhat allay the whole matter, that in the bolting and sifting of neer foureeen yeers of such power and favour, all that came out, could not be expected to be pure and white and fine Meal, but must needs have withall among it a certain mixture of Padar and Bran, in this lower age of humane fragility: how∣soever this tempest did onely shake, and not rent his sayls; for His Majesties considering that almost all his appeach∣ments were without the compasse of his own Reign; and moreover, That nothing alleadged against him, had, or could be proved by Oath, according to the Constitution of the House of Commons, which the Duke himself did not forget in the Preface of his answers. And lastly, having had such experience of his fidelity and observance abroad, where he was chief in trust, and in the participations of all hazards, sound himself engaged in honour, and in the sense of his own naturall goodnesse, to support him at home from any further inquietude, and too dear buy his highest testimony of divers important imputations, whereof the truth is best known to His Majesty while he was Prince. The Summer follow∣ing, this Parliament (after an Embark of our trading Ships in the River of Bourdeaux, and other points of Soveraign affront there did succeed the action of Rbez) wherein the Page 19 Duke was personally imployed on either element, both as Admirall and Generall, with hope in that service to recover the publike good will, which he saw by his own example might quickly be won and lost: This action as I hear hath been delivered by a Noble Gentleman of much learning and active spirits, himself the fitter to do it right, which in truth he greatly wanted, having found more honourable censure even from some of the French Writers then it had generally amongst our selves at home; Now because the said work is not yet flowing into the light, I will but sweep the way with a few notes, and there only touching the Dukes own deport∣ment in that Island the proper subject of my quill, for in the generall survey of this action, there was matter of glory and grief so equally disturbnted on both sides, as if fortune had meant we should quickly be friends again, wherein let their names that were bravely lost, be rather memorized in the full table of time, for my part I love no ambitious pains in an eloquent description of mseries. The Dukes car∣riage was surely Noble throughout to the Gentlemen of faire respect, bountifull to the Souldier, according to any speciall value which he spyed in any, tender and carefull of those that were hurt, of unquestionable Courage in himself and rather fearfull of fame, then danger: In his countenance, which is the part that all eyes interpret, no open alteration even after the succours which he expected did fail him; but the lesse he shewed without, the more it wrought intrinsical∣ly, according to the nature of suppressed passions: for certain it is, That to his often mentioned Secretary, Doctor Mason, whom he layd in a Pallet neer him, for naturall Ventilation of his thoughts, he would, in the absence of all other ears and eyes, break out into bitter and passionate Eruptions, protesting, That never his dispatches to divers Princes, nor the great businesse of a Fleet of an Army, of a Siege, of a Treaty, of War, of Peace, both on soot together, and all of them in his head at a time, did not so much break his re∣port, as a conceit, That some at home, under His Majesty, of whom he had well deserved, were now content to forget Page 20 him; but whom he meant, I know not, and am loth to rove at coniectures. Of their two Forts, he could not take the one, not he would not take the other; but in the generall Town he maintained a seisure and possession of the whole, three full months, and eighteen dayes; and at the first de∣scent on shore, he was not immured within a woodden Ves∣sell, but he did countenance the landing in his long Boat; where succeeded such a defeat of neer two hundred Horse (and these not by his guesse) mounted in haste, But the most part Gentlemen of Family, and great resolution, seconded with 2000 Foot, as all circumstances well ballanced on ei∣ther side, may surely endure a comparison with any of the bravest Impressions in ancient time: in the issue of the whole businesse, he seems charged in opinion with a kinde of im∣provident conscienee, having brought off that with him to Camp, perchance too much from a Court, where Fortune had never deceived him: Besides, we must consider him yet but rude in the profession of Arms, though greedy of ho∣nour, and zealous in the cause. At his return to Plimouth, a strange accident befell him, perchance not so worthy of me∣mory for it self, as for that it seemeth to have been a kinde of prelude to his finall period.
The now Lord Goring a Gentleman of true honour, and of vigilant affections for his friend, sends to the Duke in all expedition an expresse messenger, with advisement to as∣sure his own Person, by declining the ordinary Road to Lon∣don, for that he had credible intelligence of a plot against His life to be put in Execution upon him in his said journey towards the Court: The Duke meeting the messenger on the way, read the Letter, and smothering it in his pocket without the least imaginable apprehension, rides forwards: His Company being about that time not above seven or eight in number, and those no otherwise provided for their defence, then with ordinary swords: after this, the Duke had advanced three miles before he met with an old woman neer a Town in the road, who demanded whether the Duke were in the Company; and bewraying some especiall occasion to Page 29 be brought to him, was lead to his horse side, where she told him that in the very next Town where He was to passe, she had heard some desperate men vow his death: And there∣upon would have directed him about by a surer way, this old womans casuall accesse joyn'd with that deliberate advertise∣ment which he had before from his noble friend, moved him to participate both the tenor of the said Letter and all the circumstances, with his Company, who were joyntly upon consent that the woman had advised him well; Notwith∣standing all which importunity, he resolved to wave his way upon this reason, perhaps more generous then provi∣dent, that if as he said she, should but once by such a diversi∣on malte his enemy beleeve he were afraid of danger, he should never live without: Hereupon his yong Nephew, Lord Vis∣count Fielding being then in his Company, out of a noble spirit besought him that he would at least honour him with his Coat and blew Riban through the Town, pleading that his Uncles life whereon lay the property of his whole Fa∣mily was of all things under heaven the most pretious unto him; and undertaking so to gesture and muffell up himself in his hood, as the Dukes manner was to ride in cold wea∣ther, that none should discern him, from him; And so he should be at the more liberty for his own defence, at which sweet proposition, the Duke caught him in his armes and kissed him; yet would not as he said accept of such an offer in that case, from a Nephew whose life he tendred as much as himself: And so liberally rewarded the poor creature for her good will; after some short directions to his Company how they should carry themselves, he road on without per∣turbation of his minde, he was no sooner entred into the Town, but a scambling Souldier clapt hold of his bridle, which thought it was in a begging or perchance somewhat worse, in a drunken fashion, yet a Gentleman of his trayne that road a pretty distance behind him, conceiving by the premisses it might be a beginning of some mischevious in∣tent, spurred up his horse, and with a violent roush severed him from the Duke, who with the rest went on quickly Page 22 through the Town, neither for ought I can heare was there any further inquiry into that practise, the Duke peradven∣ture thinking it wisedom not to reserve discontentments to deep, at his return to the Court he found no change in Fates, but smothered murmurings for the losse of so many gallant Gentlemen, against which his friends did oppose in their discourses the chance of War, together with a gentle expe∣ctation for want of supply in time, after the complaints in Parliament, and the unfortunate issue at Rbez, the Dukes fame did still remain more and more in obliquie among the masse of people, whose judgements are only reconciled with good successes, so as he saw plainly that he must abroad a∣gain to rectifie with his best endeavour under the publike service, his own reputation; Whereupon new preparatives were in hand, and partly reparatives of the former beaten at Sea: And in the mean while, he was not unmindfull in his civill course to cast an eye upon the wayes to win unto him such as have been a principle credit in the Lower house of Parliament, applying lenities, or subducting from that part where he knew the humors were sharpest, amidst which thoughts, he was surprised with a fatall stroke, written in the black book of necessity.
There was a yonger brother of mean fortunes born in the County of Suffolk, by name John Felton, by nature of a deep melancholy, silent, and glony constitution, but bred in the active way of a souldier, and thereby raised to the place of Lievtenant to a foot-company in the Regiment of Sir James Ramsey, this was the man that closely within himself had con∣cealed the Dukes death. But what may have been the im∣mediate or greatest motive of that fellonious conception, is even yet in the clouds.
It was said at first that he had been stung with a deniall of his Captains place, who dyed in England, whereof thus much indeed is true, that the Duke before he would invest him in the said place, advising first (as his manner was) with his Colonell, he found him to interpret for one Powell his own Lieutenant, a Gentleman of extraordinary valour, and Page 23 according to millitary custome, the place was good, that the Lieutenant of the Colonells company might well pretend to the next vacant Captain-ship under the same Regiment, which Felton acknowledged to be in it self very usuall and equitable, besides the speciall merit of the person, so as aforesaid con∣ceit of some rancour harboured upon their deniall had no true ground; there was no other imagination that between a Knight of the same County, whom the Duke had lately taken into some good degree of favour, and the said Felton, there had been ancient quarrells not yet well healed, which might perhaps lye festring in his breast; and by a certain in∣flamation product this effect; but that carries small probabi∣lity that Felton would so deface his own act, as to make the Duke no more then an oblique sacrifice, to the fames of his private revenge upon a third person: therefore the truth is, that either too honest a deed after it was done, or to stum∣ber his conscience in the doing, he studied other incentives, alleadging not three hours before his execution to Sir Ri∣char Gresham two only inducements thereof. The first, as he made it in order, was a certain libellous book written by one Eggleston a Scottish Physitian, which made the Duke one of the foulest Monsters upon the earth, and indeed unwor∣thy not only of life in a Christian Court, and under so ver∣tuous a King; but of any room within the bounds of all hu∣manity, if his prodigious predictions had the least semblance of truth.
The second, was the Remonstrance it self of the Lower House of Parliament against him, which perchance he thought the fairest cover, so he put in the second place, what∣soever were the true motive, which I think none can deter∣mine, but the Prince of darkenesse it self; he did thus prose∣cute the effect. In a by-Cutlers shop on Tower hill, he bought a ten-penny knife (so cheap was the instrument of this great attempt, and the sheath thereof he sewed to the lining of his pocket) that he might at any moment draw forth the Blade alone with one hand, for he had maymed the other: This done, he made shift, partly, as it is said, on Page 24 horse back and partly on foot, to get to Portsmouth, for he was indigent and low in mony, which perhapps might have a little edged his desperation, at Portsmoutb on Satur∣day being the 23. of August of that currant yeer, he pres∣sed without any suspition in such a time of so many preten∣ders to imployment, into an inward Chamber where the Duke was at breakefast (the last of his repasts in this world) accompanied with men of quality and action, with Monsier-de Soubes, and Sir Thomas Fryer, and there a little before the Dukes rising from the table, he went and stood expecting till he should Passe through a kinde of Lobye between that room and the next, where divers attending him; towards which passage, as I conceive somewhat dar∣ker then the Chamber, which he voided, while the Duke came with Sir Thomas Fryer close at his ear, in the very mo∣ment as the said Knight withdrew himself from the Duke, a Safinate gave him with a back blow a deep wound into his left side, leaving the knife in his body, which the Duke himself pulling out, on a suddain effusion of spirits, he sunk down under the table in the next room, and immediatly ex∣pired. Certain it is, that some good while before Sir Cle∣ment Throckmorton, a Gentleman then living, of grave judge∣ment, had in a private conferrence advised him to weare a privy Coat, whose Councell the Duke received very kind∣ly; but gave him this answer, that against any popular fa∣rie a shirt of mayle would be but a silly defence, and as for any single mans assault he took himself to be no danger: So darke is destiny.
One thing in this enormious accident, is, I must confesse, to me beyond all wonder (as I received it from a Gentleman of judicious and diligent observation, and one whom the Duke well favoured) That within the space of not many minutes after the fall of the body, and removall thereof in∣to the first room, there was not a living creature in either of the chambers, no more then if it had lien in the Sands of AEthiopia; whereas commonly, in such cases, you shall note every where a great and sudden conflux of people unto the Page 25 place, to hearken and to see: But it should seem the very horrour of the fact, had stupified all curiosity, and so dis∣persed the multitude, that it is thought even the murtherer himself might have escaped (for who gave the blow none could affirm, if he had not lingred about the house below, not by any confused arrest of conscience (as hath been seen in like examples) but by very pride in his own deed, as if in effect there were little difference between being remem∣bred by a verteous fame, or an Illustrious infamy.
Thus died this great Peer in the 36th yeer of his age com∣pleat, and three dayes over, in a time of great recourse unto him, and dependance upon him, the house and Town full of servants and suters: His Dutchesse in an up∣per room, scarce yet out of her bed, and the Court at that time not above six or nine miles from him, which had been the stage of his greatnesse.
I have spent some enquiry whether he had any ominous presagement before his end; wherein though both anci∣ent and modern Stories have been infected with much vani∣ty; yet oftentimes things fall out of that kind which may bear a sober constitution, whereof I will glean two or three in the Dukes case.
Being to take his leave of my Lords Grace of Canturbu∣ry, the only Bishop of London, whom he knew well planted in the Kings unchangeable affection, by his own great a∣bilities, after cortefies of courage had passed between them, My, Lord sayes the Duke, I know your Lordship hath very worthily good accesses unto the King our Soveraign, let me pray you to put His Majesty in minde to be good, as I no way distrust, to my poor wife and children: at which words or at his countenance in the delivery, or at both, My Lord Bishop being somewhat troubled, took the freedom to aske him where he had never any secret abodements in hi minde. No (replyed the Duke) but I think some adven ture may kill me as well as another man.
The very day before he was slain, feeling some indispo∣sition Page 26 of body, the King was pleased to give him the hoonur of a visit, and found him in his bed; where, and after much serious and private discourse, The Duke at His Maje∣sties departing, imbraced him in a very unusuall and passi∣onate manner, and in like sort to his friend the Earl of Hol∣land, as if his soule had divined he should see them no more, which infusions towards fatall ends, had been ob∣served by some Authors of no light authority.
On the very day of his death, the Countesse of Denbigh re∣ceived a Letter from him; whereunto all the while she was writing her answer, she bedewed the paper with her tears: And after a m•st bitter passion (whereof she could yeeld no reason, but, That her dearest brother was to be gone) she fell down in a swound. Her said letter endeth thus:
I will pray for your happy return, which I look at with a great cloud ever my bead, too heavy for my poor heart to bear without tor∣ment i but I hope the great God of heaven will blesse you.
The day following, the Bishop of Ely, her devoted friend, who was thought the fittest preparer of her minde to receive such a dolefull accident, came to visite her; but hearing she was at rest, he attended till she should awake of her self, which she did with the affrightment of a dream, Her brother seeming to passe thorow a field with her in her Coach; where hear∣ing of a sudden shout of the people, and asking the reason, it was answered to have been for joy that the Duke of Buckingham was sick. Which naturall Impression she scarce had related unto her Gentlewoman, before the Bishop was entred into her Bed-chamber for a chofen Messenger of the Dukes death.
This is all that I dare present of that nature to any of judgement, not unwillingly omitting certain prognostick Anagrams, and such strains of fancy.
He took to wife, eight yeers and two months before his death, the Lady Katherine Manners, Heir generall to the Noble House of Rutland; who besides a solid addition to his estate, brought him three sons and a daughter, called the Lady Mary, his first born; his eldest son died at Nurse, be∣fore Page 27 his iourney at Rbez; and his third, the Lord Francis, was born after his fathers death; so as neither his first nor his last were participant of any sense of his misfortunes or felicities: His second son, now Duke of Buckingham was born, to cheer him after his return from that unlucky Voyage.
For these sweet pledges, and no lesse for the unquestion∣able vertues of her person and minde, he loved her dearly, and well expressed his love in an act and time of no simulation towards his end, bequeathing her all his Mansion-houses du∣ring her naturall life, and a power to dispose of his whole personall estate, together with a fourth part of his Lands in Joynture: He left his elder brother of the same womb a Vis∣count, and his younger an Earl; Sir Edward Villers, his half brother on the fathers side, he either preferred or removed (call it how hou will) from his step-mothers eye to the pre∣sidentship, where he lived in singular estmation for his ju∣stice and hospitality; and died with as much. grief of the whole Providence, as ever any Governour did before his Religious Lady of sweet and Noble direction, adding much to his honour. The eldest of the brethren, and heir of the Name, was made a Baronet; but abstained from Court, en∣joying perhaps the greater greatnesse of self fruition.
He left his mother a Countesse by Patent, in her own per∣son, which was a new leading example, grown before some∣what rare, since the dayes of Queen Mary. His sister of Denbigh (that right character of a good Lady) he most hum∣bly recommended to the Queen; who alter a discharge of some French in her Court that were to return, took her into three severall places of honour and trust.
In short, not to insist upon every particular Branch of those private preferments, he left all his female kindred, of the entire or half blood, descending of the name of Villers or Beaumont, within any neer degree, either matched with Peers of the Realm actually, or hopefully, with Earls sonnes and heirs, or at least with Knights, or Divinity, and of plentifull condition. He did not much strengthen his own Page 28 substance in Court, but stood there on his own feet; for the truth is, the most of his Allies rather leaned upon him, then shoared him up.
His familiar servants, either about his person in ordinary attendance, or about his affairs of State, as his Secretaries; or of Office, as his Steward; or of Law, as that worthy Knight whom he long used to solicite his causes: He left all both in good Fortune, and, which is more, in good Fame.
Things very seldome consociated in the Instruments of great Personages.