Pagina-afbeeldingen
PDF
ePub

9

displeasure 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 one of the officers selected by Her Majesty to attend him. Farther than this she refused to condescend; for, though His Lordship 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 campaign in Ireland, had been a quarrel with the Lord Grey, who acting under him as a colonel of horse had, 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

* Vide Harrington's Nugæ Antiquæ, vol. ii. p. 33.

VOL. II.

с

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 the 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 Essexhouse,) with a great company of others, that afterwards were all in the action, had procured to be played before them the play of depos ing King Richard the Second ; — when it was told him by one of the

11

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 t," 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." I

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, and accompanied it with a

Bacon's Works, Mallet's edit. vol. iv. p. 412.
+ Vide Queen Elizabeth's Progresses, by Nichols, vol. ii. p. 1.
| Chalmers's Supplemental Apology, p. 311, 312.

C2

urs.

vt by that howse for so great 12th of the same month, “ the uztam and Grey, and Sir Walter Raroleigh.

vol. iii. p. 270.

Southampton as he rode through the streets of Lon! which affords but a melancholy trait of the manners of his might punished on the spot by the immediate committal <

indeed, to prison.

, and the It had been happy, however, for the fame and r

He ton, had this been the only unfortunate contest i

Queen ; à but he was recalled by Essex from the Low í

iv his lady; assist him in his insurrectionary movements :

and created government of his sovereign. Blinded by t?

and in the folship, which he cultivated with enthusiastic

of Hampshire, the treatment which he had lately receive

in a journey to readily listened to the treasonable suggest one of the conspirators who assembled at 1. ntly impeded by on the 8th of February 1601. Here i

chinations of some imprisoning the Queen's privy cous, Wis of the Eạrl *, was enquire into the purport of their mee; taken place between sallied forth, with the view of exciti,

Fiction to His Majesty enterprise so criminal, so rash, and ·

and he was apprefate which it merited ; and the tri:

fif not the smallest proof high treason took place on the 19 witte he was immediately found guilty, the former, as is my death, while the latter, from the

che affections of James we the modesty and contrition w

74106 writing to Lord Shrewsfrom the intercession of Cecil

My La. Southampton was the sentence affecting his life S. David's Day (March 1st) in the Tower. We have more than o!

" upon that day.” + Now this Southampton to dramatic that this partiality shoc'

e Countess of Suffolk, being machinations of treasc: before the rebellion, house,) with a great er

kwampton, covered long with the Ashes of

w Power, and the King lookt upon him with a the action, had procu

das teily to the new Baron Essingdon, Sir Robert ing King Richard 1h

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

13

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 November, 1607, Lord Southampton lost his mother, who had been wife successively to Henry Wriothesly Earl of Southampton, to Sir Thomas Heneage, and to Sir William Hervey. We are told by Lord Arundel that she “ lefte the best of her stuffe to her sonne, and the greatest part to her husband t;" this bequest, however, could not have been very ample, for it did not obviate the necessity of her son's applying, shortly afterwards, to trade and colonisation with the view of increasing his property. 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.

The warmth of temper which distinguished Lord Southampton in early life, seems not to have been adequately repressed by time and experience; he was ever prone to resentment, though not difficult to conciliate, and, unhappily, the manners of the age were not such as to impose due restraint on the tumultuary passions. A quarrel with Lord Montgomery, on å trifling occasion, which occurred in April, 1610, is but too striking an illustration of these remarks ; “ they fell out at tennis,” relates Winwood, 66 where the rackets flew about their ears, but the matter was compounded by the King, without further bloodshed ;" a passage, the close of which proves that they had fought and wounded each other with the instruments of their amusement !

We speedily recognise Lord Southampton, however, acting in a manner more suitable to his station and character; on the 4th of June, 1610, he officiated as carver at the magnificent festival which

[merged small][ocr errors]
« VorigeDoorgaan »