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It seems, though he brought out of Devonshire the fiddle and fiddlestick, he brought not the resin, therewith to make good music; and every country is innated with a peculiar genius, and is left-handed to those trades which are against their inclinations.
He quitted his bishopric (not worth keeping) in the reign of king Edward the Sixth ; and no wonder he resumed it not in the reign of queen Mary, the bone not being worth the taking, the marrow being knocked out before. He died (being 103 years old) in the reign of queen Mary; and was buried in his native town, with his statue mitred and vested.
SINCE THE REFORMATION. John BIRD was born in the city of Coventry :* bred a Carmelite at Oxford, and became afterwards the thirty-first (the head game) and last Provincial of his order. He preached some smart sermons before king Henry the Eighth, against the primacy of the Pope ; for which he was preferred (saith bishop Godwin) to be successively bishop of Ossery in Ireland, Bangor in Wales, and Chester in England.
To the two last we concur; but dissent to the former, because John Bale, contemporary with this John Bird, and also bishop of Ossery (who therefore must be presumed skilful in his predecessors in that see) nameth him not bishop of Ossery,
Episcopum Pennecensem in Hibernia.” The same Bale saith of him, “ Audivi eum ad Papismi vomitum reversum,” (I have heard that in the reign of queen Mary he returned to the vomit of Popery); which my charity will not believe. Indeed in the first of queen Mary he was ousted of his bishopric for being married; and all that we can recover of his carriage afterwards is this passage at the examination of Master Thomas Haukes, martyr; when John Bird (then very old) brought Bonner a bottle of wine, and a dish of apples, probably a present unto him for a ne noceat; and therefore not enough to speak him a Papist in his persuasion.
Bishop Bonner desired him to take Haukes into his chamber, and to try if he could convert him: whereupon, after Bonner's departure out of the room, the quondam bishop accosted Haukes as followeth:
“I would to God I could do you some good. You are a young man, and I would not wish you to go too far, but learn of the elders to bear somewhat.”+
He enforced him no further ; but, being a thorough old man, even fell fast asleep. All this, in my computation, amounts but to a passive compliance, and is not evidence enough to make him a thorough-paced Papist ; the rather because John Pits omitteth him in the “Catalogue of English Writers," which no
• Bale, de Scriptoribus Britannicis.
doubt he would not have done, had he any assurance that he had been a radicated Romanist. Nothing else have I to observe of him, but only that he was a little man, and had a pearl in his eyes; and, dying 1655, was buried in Chester.
STATESMEN. Sir Nicholas THROCKMORTON, Knight, fourth son of Sir George Throckmorton of Coughton in this county, was bred beyond the seas, where he attained to great experience. Under queen Mary he was in Guildhall arraigned for treason (compliance with Wyat); and, by his own wary pleading, and the jury's upright verdict, hardly escaped. Queen Elizabeth em. ployed him her lieger a long time, first in France, then in Scotland, finding him a most able minister of state ; yet got he no great wealth; and no wonder, being ever of the opposite party to Burleigh, lord treasurer ;* chamberlain of the Exchequer, and chief butler of England, were his highest preferments. I say chief butler, which office, like an empty covered cup, pretendeth to some state, but affordeth no considerable profit. He died at supper with eating of salads, not without suspicion of poison, the rather because happening in the house of one no mean artist in that faculty, Robert earl of Leicester. His death, as it was sudden, was seasonable for him and his, whose active (others will call it turbulent) spirit, had brought him into such trouble as might have cost him, at least, the loss of his personal estate.f He died, in the fifty-seventh year of his age, February the 12th, 1570; and lieth buried in the south side of the chancel of St. Katharine Cree church, London. I
EDWARD CONWAY, Knight, son to Sir John Conway, knight, lord and owner of Ragleigh in this county. This Sir John being a person of great skill in military affairs, was made by Robert earl of Leicester (general of the English auxiliaries in the United Provinces) governor of Ostend. His son Sir Edward succeeded to his father's martial skill and valour, and twisted therewith peaceable policy in state affairs; so that the gown and the sword met in him in most eminent proportion; and thereupon king James made him one of the principal secretaries of state.
For these his good services he was by him created lord Conway of Ragleigh in this county; and afterwards, by king Charles, viscount Killultagh in the county of Antrim; and lastly, in the third of king Charles, viscount Conway of Conway in Carnarvonshire; England, Ireland, and Wales mutually embracing themselves in his honours. He died January the third, anno 1630.
* Camden's Elizabeth, anno 1569.
Stow's Suvrey of London, p. 140.
Idem, anno 1570.
John Digby, baron of Sherborne, and earl of Bristol, was born in this county, a younger son of an ancient family, long flourishing at Coleshull, therein. To pass by his infancy, (ali children being alike in their long coats), his youth gave pregnant hopes of that eminency which his mature age did produce.
He did ken the ambassador-craft as well as any in his age; employed by king James in several services to foreign princes, recited in his patent (which I have perused) as the main motives of the honours conferred upon him. But his managing the matchless match with Spain was his master-piece, wherein a good (I mean a great) number of state-traverses were used on both sides.
His contest with the duke of Buckingham is fresh in many men's memories, charges of high treason mutually flying about. But this lord fearing the duke's power (as the duke this lord's policy) it at last became a drawn battle between them; yet so that this earl lost the love of king Charles, living many years in his dis-favour: but such as are in a court-cloud have commonly the country's sunshine ; and this peer, during his eclipse, was very popular with most of the nation.
It is seldom seen that a favourite once broken at court sets up again for himself; the hap rather than happiness of this lord; the king graciously reflecting on him, at the beginning of the Long: Parliament, as one best able to give him the safest counsel in those dangerous times. But how he incensed the parliament so far as to be excepted pardon, I neither do know nor dare inquire. Sure I am, after the surrender of Exeter, he went over into France, where he met with due respect in foreign, which he missed in his native country. The worst I wish such who causelessly suspect him of Popish inclinations is, that I may
hear from them but half so many strong arguments for the Protestant religion, as I have heard from him, who was, to his commendation, a cordial champion for the church of England. He died in France, about the year 1650.
WRITERS. WALTER of COVENTRY was born and bred a Benedictine therein.* Bale saith he was “immortali vir dignus memoria," and much commended by Leland (though not of set purpose, but) sparsim, as occasion is offered. He excelled in the two, essential qualities of an historian, faith and method, writing truly and orderly, only guilty of coarseness of style. This may better be dispensed with in him, because “ Historia est res veritatis, non eloquentiæ,” because bad Latin was a catching disease in that age. From the beginning of the Britons he wrote a chronicle (extant in Bene't College library) to his own time. He flourished anno 1217.
Bale, de Scriptoribus Britannicis, Cent. iii. num. 74.
Vincent of COVENTRY was born in the chief city in this shire, and bred a Franciscan (though learned Leland mistakes him a Carmelite) in the university of Cambridge.*
His order, at their first entrance into England, looked upon learning as a thing beneath them; so totally were they taken up with their devotion. This Vincent was the first who brake the ice (and then others of his order drank of the same water); first applied himself to academical studies, and became a public professor in Cambridge.f He set a copy for the Carmelites therein to imitate, who not long after began their public lectures in the same place. He left some books to posterity, and flourished anno Domini 1250.
John of KilliNGWORTH, born in that castelled village in this county ; bred in Oxfordshire, an excellent philosopher, astronomer, and physician. He studied the stars so long, that at last he became a star himself in his own sphere, and outshined all others of that faculty. He was father and founder to all the astronomers of that age. I never did spring such a covey of mathematicians all at once, as I met with at this time; Cervinus or Hart, Cure, John Stacy, and Black, all bred in Merton College ;f which society, in the former century, applied themselves to school divinity; in this, to mathematics and attained to eminency in both; so good a genius acted within the walls of that worthy foundation. He flourished about the
WILLIAM of COVENTRY was born and bred a Carmelite in that city. He in his youth was afflicted with an unhealable sprain in his hip, and was commonly called Claudus Conversus, which I adventure to English, “ The Lame Converted.”
Conversus properly is one who, for lack of learning, or deformity of body, is condemned to the servile work in the monastery, under a despair ever to be made priest; termed, it seems, Conversus, because not of voluntary choice turning to that course of life, but turned (as passively necessitated) thereunto. S
But hear how J. Pits clincheth in his praise: “ Claudicavit corporis gressu, non virtutis progressu; vitiatus corpore, non vitiosus animo," being in his writings full of sentences; amongst which, Bale takes especial notice of his “ Prodesset hierosolymam petere et alia invisere loca sacra, sed multum præstaret eo precio pauperes alere domi ;” wherein, though I perceive no more sententiousness than common sense, yet because it containeth a bold truth in those blind days, it may be mentioned. He never set his name to his books ; but it may (according to the friarly
P. Thomas Ecclestone, in Chronicle of Franciscans.
† Bale, de Scriptoribus Britannicis, Cent. iv. num. 12. # Idem, Cent. vi. num. 10. § Pits, de Scriptoribus Angliæ, anno 1360.
fancy) be collected out of the capital letters of his several works; who flourished anno 1360.
John Rouse, son of Jeffery Rouse, was born at Warwick, but descended from the Rouses of Brinkloe in this county. He was bred in Oxford, where he attained to great eminency of learning. He afterwards retired himself to Guy's Cliffe, within a mile of Warwick.
A most delicious place, so that a man in many miles' riding cannot meet so much variety, as there one furlong doth afford. A steep rock, full of caves in the bowels thereof, washed at the bottom with a crystal river, besides many clear springs on the side thereof, all overshadowed with a stately grove; so that an ordinary fancy may here find to itself Helicon, Parnassus, and what not? Many hermits (and Guy earl of Warwick himself) being sequestered from the world, retreated hither. Some will say it is too gaudy a place for that purpose, as having more of a paradise than wilderness therein, so that men's thoughts would rather be scattered than collected with such various objects. But, seeing hermits deny themselves the company of men, let them be allowed to converse with the rarities of nature; and such are the fittest texts for a solitary devotion to comment upon.
To this place came our John Rouse; and, by leave obtained from king Edward the Fourth, immured himself therein, that he might apply his studies without distraction. Here he wrote of “The Antiquities of Warwick,” with a Catalogue of the Earls thereof; a Chronicle of our English Kings; and a History of our Universities. He was as good with the pencil as with the pen, and could draw persons as well as describe them, as appears by lively pictures limned with his own hand. He died, a very aged man, anno Domini 1491.
SINCE THE REFORMATION.
The Athenians did “nothing else but tell or hear some new thing."* Why tell before hear? Because, probably, they themselves were the first finders, founders, and fathers of many reports. I should turn such an Athenian to feign and invent, should I add any thing concerning this worthy person, whose life I have formerly written at large in my “ Holy State.” He died anno Domini 1602.
Thomas Drax, D.D. was born at Stoneleigh in this county, his father being a younger brother of a worshipful family, which
* Acts xyii. 21.