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ILLUSTRIOUS ROBERT, EARL OF ESSEX, &c.
Containing, at large, the wars he managed, and the commands he had;
in Holland, the Palatinate, and in England: together with some wonderful observations of himself, and his predecessors, and many most remarkable passages, from his infancy, unto the day of his death.
By Robert Codrington, Master of Arts. London, Printed by F. Leach, for L. Chapman, Anno Dom. 1646. The author, Mr. Codrington, was born of an antient and genteel family
in Gloucestershire, elected Demy of Magdalen College in Oxford, the twenty-ninth of July, 1619, about seventeen years old, and took the Master's degree in 1626. After that, he travelled into several foreign lands; and, at his return, lived a gentleman's life, first in Nor. folk, where he married; and finished his life at London, by the plague, in the year 1665, having published many pieces of different taste in his life-time, and left several manuscripts prepared for the
press. As for the history before us, it is true, that he plainly declares himself
a parliamenteer; yet, so far as it goes, it is the least exceptionable, and the most comprehensive, of any writings on the same subject, in those times: for, besides the character of his hero, the Earl of Essex, he gives us the general opinion, and the ground of the first part of the civil war; seems to relate the natural facts without aggravation, and always speaks of the King's majesty with respect, ascribing the ill conduct of his affairs, and bad success, to the wickedness and heat of his counsels; and heartily wishing a good and lasting reconciliation
and peace between the King and his parliament. BEFORE EFORE we do begin with the discourse of the life and death of this
illustrious carl, it will not be impertinent to speak one word of the renowned earl, his father, who, as he rendered himself admirable, by the many great and glorious actions which he performed both by land and sea; so I may call it his master-piece, that he did beget so brave a son, and I may call it his son's master-piece, that he did lively resemble so
brave a father, in the height and perfection of his virtues, which he did express in his love unto his country, and in his atchievements for the honour and safety of it; and this shall ennoble both their names unto all posterity.
To give you a parallel of these two worthies, is a task almost as iinpossible as impertinent; for if you will excuse in them the priority of time, we may, in the course of their lives and honours, make a parallel, as soon, betwixt two beams of the sun, who are the same in heat, in glory, and in influence, and who do differ in nothing but in number only; we will therefore save that art and labour, and, as succinctly as we can, we will address ourselves to the great task we have undertaken.
This most noble carl was born in London, in the year of our Lord 1592, and almost in the evening of the reign of Queen Elisabeth, who, for his excellent endowments, did countenance his father living, and did lament him, being dead. His mother had the happiness to be espoused to three of the most gallant personages which that age did know." Her first husband was Sir Philip Sidney, whose virtues are too high for the praises of other men to reach them, and too modest to desire them; his pen and his sword have rendered him famous enough; he died by the one, and by the other he will ever live. This is the happiness of art, that although the sword doth atchieve the honour, yet the arts do record it, and no pen hath made it better known than his own. Her second husband was the renowned father of this most noble earl, who died beloved, and ho. noured, as well by his focs, as by his friends, and whose loss even heaven might lament, did not heaven enjoy him. Her third husband was the Earl of Clanrickard, a gallant gentleman, who exceeded the wildness of his native country, by his second education, and who exceeded his education by the happiness of his wedlock; and though, peradventure, some vain men do account it but as two threads put together, he did make it his band, by the advantage of which, he did so twist himself into the English virtues, that nothing remained in him as spun from Ireland, as Ireland now doth stand.
To omit the presages, and the unfaithful kisses of the promising madams who rocked his cradle, I will not say, that in that moving wicker (like another Hercules) he strangled in each hand the two invading dragous of transcending prerogative and superstition: this was the business of his life to come; a business which did grow up with his youth in hope, and which, in the event, did crown his age with glory.
Though the laurels, that crown the brows of conquerors, are the thickest and the heaviest, yet, I believe, the wreaths that court the brows of art are the greenest; we conquer, in our age, our fues in the field, but we overcome our greatest foe, which is ignorance, in our youth; to conquer which, he received hereditary courage from his father, who not only overcame, but triumphed over it, and did accepf the formality of two degrees, and, with great reputation, performed the exercises belonging to them in the university of Cambridge.
It is most certain, that illustrious and extraordinary personages have oftentimes extraordinary illuminations of the events, both good and bad, which shall befal them; of this we can give you remarkable instances
in this family. When Sir Walter Devereux was created Viscount of Hereford, and Earl of Essex, about the twelfth year of the reign of Queen Elisabeth, because he was descended, by his mother's side, from the antient and honourable family of the Bouchiers, it was the deliberate pleasure of the queen and state to increase his honours, by the knowledge of the fulness of his merit, and to make him governor of Ireland; and this place being preferred unto him [for, indeed, he was a gentleman of incomparable endowments] he did manage the affairs of that kingdom with great honour and judgment; and, by a secret power of attraction, which is natural and inherent to that family, he gained the approbation and applause of all men, and did much advance the affairs of England in the kingdom of Ireland; but the ambition and policy of the Earl of Leicester, who would have no man more eminent than himself, did so prevail at court, that, upon no cause at all, but that he was as good as great, he must be dishonoured from his dignity, and the government of that kingdom conferred on Sir Henry Sidney, a deserving gentleman, indeed, and the more meritorious, because he was the father of Sir Philip. This indignity did stick such an impression on this noble earl, who had now only a charge of some empty regiments of horse and foot, that his melancholy brought a fever on him; and the sooner, because his friend was the author of this injury, for the Earl of Leicester did pretend to no man greater affection than to himself. After some days, his sickness did confine him to his chamber, and afterwards to his bed. His dying words were remarkable; he desired that his song who was not then above ten years of age, might refrain from the court, and not trust his ear with the Aatteries, nor his eye with the splendor of it; and, above all things, that he should be mindful of the six and thira tieth year of his age, beyond which, neither he, nor but few of his fores fathers, lived. His instructed son did obey his father's will, and for many years did lead a contented and a retired life in Anglesey, until [I know not by what spell] the Earl of Leicester did work him into the fatal circle, and betrayed him to destruction. Being condemned to the block, he remembered his father's prediction, which now he could not avoid : and which is, indeed, most wonderful, on the very same hout, and (as it is believed] on the very same minute, that he was beheaded, bis son, who at that time was a student in Eaton college, did suddenly, and distractedly, leap out of his bed, where he was fast asleep, and, to the amazement of all, he cried out, that his father was killed, his father was dead; and not many hours after, the sad news was brought, which so early in the morning, and so strangely, he presaged.
His father being dead, this young earl was now looked on with more than ordinary observance; and the rather, because it was generally reported, that his father had too severe a tryal, and that his life was made a sacrifice, to satisfy the ambition of soine great personages, high in favour at the court. Sure it is that there appeared something of injustice in his death, for otherwise, why should Sir Walter Raleigh, and others, who were condemned as accessary to it, so publickly afterwards, and in print, disclaim it.
Queen Elisabeth being deceased, King James was no sooner established in the possession of the crown of England, but he restored to this
'young earl his father's titles and estate, and his eldest son ' (the mirror of his age, and the western world) Prince Henry was pleased to be very conversant and familiar with him, being near unto him in age, but more nean in affection, than in years. Betwixt whom and this earl, there happened a remarkable passage, which I conceive, in this place, not improper to insert.
Prince Henry, and this young earl, delighting themselves one morning, with the exercise and the pleasure of the tennis-conrt, after that a set or two were played, there did arise some difference upon a mistake : from banding of the ball, the prince, being raised into a choler, did begin to bandy words, and was so transported with his passion, that he told the Earl of Essex, that he was the son of a traytor. The Earl of Essex was then in the flourish of his youth, and full of fire and courage, and being not able to contain himself, he did strike the prince, with his racket, on the head, and that so shrewdly, that (as it is said] some drops of blood did trickle down. The news of this was presently brought to the king's car, who having examined the business, and fully understood the manner, and the occasion of it, did dismiss the earl, without any great check, and (being a true peacc-maker) he told his son, that he, who did strike him then, would be sure, with more violent blows, to strike his enemy in times to come.
This being in this manner reconciled, the report of this young earl did arise every day higher and greater. His recreations were riding of the great horse, running at the ring, and the exercise of arms. His other hours were taken up in study, and in perusal of books, that yielded most profit, not most delight, and from these he would always arise better, than when he sat down unto them; his delights were hunting of the hare, or buck, and he would seldom fail to be amongst the foremost, at the fall of the stag, or when the falcon on his wing was stooing to his prey. He, from his infancy, was well affected to religion, and to the reformation of the church; and this he received by inheritance from his father, for when the bishops (that felt the smart of it) had cried out against that lashing pamphlet, called, Martin-Mar-Prelate, and there was a prohibition published, that no man should presume to carry it about him, upon pain of punishment, and the queen herself did speak as much, when the earl was present: why then, said earl, what will become of me? And, pulling the book out of his pocket, he did shew it to the queen. I have heard grave men, and of great judgment, say, that he was the less inclined to Dr. Whitgift, à reverend divine, and his tutor also, because he was a bishop. But the ambition and pride of the prelates, and the clergy, were not then arrived to their utmost period; the suppressing of them must remain to be the work of my lord, his son, whom the parliament of England shall find to be their happy instrument, ordained for so great an end, by a greater power.
The Earl of Essex being confirmed in his father's honours and possessions, that a perfect reconcilement might be made in all things, a niarriage was contracted and concluded in the year 1606, betwixt him and the lady Frances Howard, daughter to the Right Honourable the Earl of Suffolk. She was a lady as transcendent in her spirit as her beauty: they were much about one age when they were married, the
lady Frances being about thirteen, and the carl not above sixteen at the most; therefore for some few years, by reason of the nonage of the earl, they lived apart til about the year 1610, at which time they enjoyed the society of one bed, and so continued until about the year 1613, when a complaint was made, and so closely prosecuted, that a way was contrived, and carried on with great power, for the procuring of a divorce betwixt the Earl of Essex and this lady. I say it was carried on with great power, for both divinity and law did not only look on, but were inforced to be actors in it. And yet they, who so much laboured in it, had afterwards the leisure to repent it, for this divorce was no sooner made, but the Earl of Somerset (who, at that time, was high in the king's favour) married this lady, the King himself and the archbishop being present, and allowing it. At that time there was a gentleman of excellent understanding, Sir Thomas Overbury by name, who, being beloved by the Earl of Somerset, did compose a poem, intituled The Wife, to dissuade the Earl of Somerset from this marriage; but the lady, conceiving that it did reflect upon her honour, did so prevail with the earl, that she turned his love unto hatred, and wrought his hatred unto so great a height, that nothing but the death of Sir Thomas Overbury could satisfy their revenge. His death being resolved on, they put it to the question by what means it should be performed, and it was concluded on by poison. There was a woman in those days famous for those arts, Mrs. Turner by name; they propound it unto her, and she is easily drawn into any mischief. The lieutenant of the Tower, Sir Jervis Elwayes*, was also made acquainted with it: the tragedy was no sooner acted but discovered; the actors were apprehended. Sir Jervis Elvayes was examined, found guilty, condemned, and suffered on Tower-hill: there was also one Frankling hanged, who brought the poison. Mrs. Turner, that prepared it, did also lose her life at Tyburn. This is the woman who first invented, and brought into fashion the use of yellow starch. The Earl of Somerset and his new-married lady were, upon pain of death, prohibited not to approach the presence of the King, nor to come within ten miles of his majesty's court. This did beget so great a discontent, that their love by degrees did begin to suffer diminution with their pomp: and the lady on her death-bed, being iroubled in her mind, did much cry out upon the Earl of Essex, whom she had so much injured.
The Earl of Essex, perceiving how little he was beholden to Venus, is now resolved to address himself to the court of Mars; and to this purpose he descendeth into the Netherlands, which, at that time, was the school of honour, for the nobility of England, in their exercise of arms: there he was no sooner arrived, but, with magnificent joy, he was entertained by grave Maurice, who saw buth in his carriage, and his courage, the lively image of his father. He at first trailed a pike, and refused no service in the field, which every ordinary gentleman is accustomed to perform. This did much endear him to the soldiers, and his liberality and humanity did the more advance him. He not long after had there she command of a regiment. At the same time the Earl of Oxford was
- Or, Yelvis.