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ed in haste, but the most part gentlemen of family, and great resolution, seconded with two thousand foot, as, all circumstances well balanced on either side, may surely endure a comparison with any of the bravest impressions in ancient time. In the issue of the whole business, he seems, charged in opinion with a kind of improvident conscience, 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 honour, and zealous in the cause. At his return to Plymouth, a strange accident befel him, perchance not so worthy of memory for itself, as for that it seemeth to have been a kind of a prelude to his final 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 express messenger, with advisement to assure his own person, by declining the ordinary road to London, 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 than with ordinary swords. After this, the duke had not advanced three miles before he met with an old woman near a town in the road, who demanded, Whether the duke was in the company? And, bewraying some especial occasion to be brought to him, was led to his horse's side, where she told him, That, in the very next town where he was to pass, she had heard some desperate men vow his death; and, thereupon, would have directed him about by a surer way:
This old woman's casual access, joined with that deliberate advertisement 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 jointly upon consent, that the woman had advised him well: Notwithstanding all which importunity, he resolved to wave his way upon this reason, perhaps more generous than provident, that, if, as he said, he should but once by such a diversion make his enemy believe he was afraid of danger, he should never live without. Hereupon his young nephew, Lord Viscount 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 ribband through the town; pleading, that his uncle's life, whereon lay the property of his whole family, was, of all things under heaven, the most precious unto him; and, undertaking so to gesture and muffle
himself in his hood, as the duke's manner was to ride in cold weather, 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 arms and kissed him; yet would not, as he said, accept of such an offer in that case from a nephew, whose life he tendered 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 rode on without perturbation of his mind. He was no sooner entered into the town, but a scambling soldier clapped hold of his bridle, who thought it was in a begging, or, perchance,
somewhat worse, in a drunken fashion ; yet, a gentleman of his train, that rode a pretty distance behind him, conceiving, by the premisses, it might be a beginning of some mischievous intent, spurred up bis horse, and, with a violent rush, severed him from the duke; who, with the rest, went on quickly through the town; neither, for aught I can hear, was there' any further inquiry into that practice; the duke, peradventure, thinking it wisdom not to reserve discontentments too deep. As his return to the court, he found no change in fates, but smothered murmurings for the loss of so many gallant gentlemen; against which his friends did oppose, in their discourses, the chance of war, together with a gentle expectation for want of supply in time. After the complaints in parliament, and the unfortunate issue at Rhee, the duke's fame did still remain more and more in obloquy amongst the mass of people, whose judgments are only reconciled with good successes ; so, as he saw plainly, that he must go abroad again to rectify, with his best endeavours under the publick 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 unmindful, in his civil course, to cast an eye upon the ways to win unto him such as have been of principal credit in the lower house of parliament, apply. ing lenitives, or subducting from that part where he knew the humours were sharpest ; amidst which thoughts, he was surprised with a fatal stroke, written in the black book of necessity.
There was a younger brother, of mean fortunes, born in the county of Suffolk, by name John Felton, by nature of a deep melancholy, silent, and gloomy constitution, but bred in the active way of a soldier, and, thereby, raised to the place of lieutenant to a foot company in the regiment of Sir James Ramsey; this was the man that, closely within himself, had conceived the duke's death. But what may have been the immediate, or greatest motive of that felonious conception, is even yet in the clouds.
It was said at first, that he had been stung with a denial of his cape tain's place, who died 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 colonel, he found him to intercede for one Powel his own lieutenant, a gentleman of extraordinary valour; and, according to military custom, the place was good, that the lieutenant of the colonel's company might well pretend to the next vacant captainship under the same regiment, which Felton acknowledged to be in itself very usual and equitable, besides the especial merit of the person ; so that the aforesaid conceit of some rancour harboured, upon this denial, had no true ground. There was another 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 quarrels not yet well healed, which might, perhaps, lie festering in his breast, and, by a certain inflammation, produce this effect; but it carries small probability that Felton would so deface his own act, as to make the duke no more than an oblique sacrifice, to the fumes of his private revenge upon a third person; therefore, the truth is, that, either to honest a deed after it was done, or to slumber his conscience in the doing, he studied other incentives, alledging, not three hours before his execution, to Sir Richard Gresham, two only inducements thereof: The first, as he made it in order, was a certain libellous book, written by one Eggleston, a Scottish physician, which made the duke one of the foulest monsters upon the earth, and, indeed, unworthy not only of life in a christian court, and under so virtuous a king, but of any room within the bounds of all humanity, if his prodigious predictions had the least semblance of truth.
The second was the remonstrance itself of the lower house of parliament against him, which, perchance, he thought the fairest cover; so he put in the second place, whatsoever were the true motive, which, 1 think, none can determine, but the prince of darkness itself; he did thus prosecute the effect: In a bye cutler's shop on Tower-hill, he bought a tenpenny 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 maimed the other : This done, he made shift, partly, as it is said, on horseback, and partly on foot, to get to Portsmouth, for he was indigent and low in money, which, perhaps, might have a little edged his desperation. At Portsmouth, on Saturday, being the twenty-third of August, of that current year, he pressed, without any suspicion, in such a time of so many pretenders to employment, into an inward chamber, where the duke was at breakfast (the last of his repasts in this world) accompanied with men of quality and action, with Monsieur de Soubes, and Sir Thomas Fryer, and there, a little before the duke's rising from the table, he went and stood expecting till he should pass through a kind of lobby between that room and the next, where were divers attending him; towards which passage, as I conceive somewhat darker than the chamber, which he avoided, while the duke came with Sir Thomas Fryer close at his ear, in the very moment as the said knight withdrew himself from the duke, the assassin 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 sudden effusion of spirits, he sunk down under the table in the next room, and immediately expired. Certain it is, that, a good while before, Sir Clement Throckmorton, a gentleman then living, of grave judgment, had, in a private conference, advised him to wear a privy coat; whose counsel the duke received very kindly, but gave him this answer, That, against any popular fray, a shirt of mail would be but a silly defence, and, as for a single man's assault, he took himself to be in no danger: So dark is destiny.
One thing in this enormous accident is, I must confess, 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 removal thereof into the first room, there was not a living creature in either of the chambers, no more than if it had lain in the sands of Ethiopia ; whereas commonly, in such cases, you shall note every where a great and sudden conflux of people unto the place, to hearken and to see : But it should seem the very horror of the fact had stupified all curiosity, and so dispersed the multitude, that it is thought even the murderer
himself might have escaped, for who gave the blow noņe could affirm,
if he had not lingered 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 remembered by a virtuous fame, or an illustrious infamy.
Thus died this great peer, in the thirty-sixth year of his age complete, and three days over; in a time of great recourse unto him, and dependence upon him; the house and town full of servants and suitors; his duchess in an upper 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 greatness.
I have spent some inquiry, whether he had any ominous presagement before his end; wherein, though both ancient and modern stories have been infected with much vanity, yet, oftentimes, things fall out of that kind, which may bear a sober construction; whereof I will glean two or three in the duke's case.
Being to take his leave of my Lord's Grace of Canterbury, then Bishop of London, whom he knew well planted in the king's unchangeable affection, by his own great abilities, after courtesies of courage had passed between them: My Lord (says the duke) I know your lordship hath very worthily good accesses unto the King our Sovereign; let me pray you to put his Majesty in mind 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 ask him, Whether he had never any secret bodements in his mind? No (replied the duke), but I think some adventure may kill me, as well as another man.
The very day before he was slain, feeling some indisposition of body, the King was pleased to give him the honour of a visit, and found him in his bed; where, after much serious and private discourse, the duke, at his majesty's departing, embraced him in a very unusual and passionate manner, and did in like sort to his friend the Earl of Holland, as if his soul had divined he should see them no more: Which infusions towards fatal ends had been observed by some authors of no light authority.
On the very day of his death, the Countess of Denbigh received a letter from him; whereunto all the while she was writing her answer, she bedewed the paper with her tears; and, after a most bitter passion (whereof she could yield no reason, but, That her dearest brother was to be gone), she fell down in a swoon. Her said letter endeth thus : • I will
for your happy return, which I look at with a great cloud over my head, too heavy for my poor heart to bear without torment; but I hope the great God of heaven will bless you.'
The day following, the Bishop of Ely, her devoted friend, who was thought the fittest preparer of her mind to receive such a doleful accident, came to visit her; but, hearing she was at rest, he attended till she should awake of herself; which she did with the affrightment of a dream: * Her brother seeming to pass through a field with her in her coach; where, hearing a sudden shout of the people, and asking the reason, it was answered to be for jof that the Duke of Buckingham was sick.. Which natural impression she scarce had related unto her gentlewoman, before the bishop was entered into her bed-chamber for a chosen mes senger of the duke's death.
This is all that I dare present of that nature to any of judgment, not unwillingly omitting certain prognostick anagrams and such strains of fancy.
He took to wife, eight years and two months before his death, the Lady Catharine Manners, heir-general 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 before his journey to Rhee, and his third, the Lord Francis, was born after his father's death; so that neither his first, nor his last, were participant of any sense of his misfortunes, or felicities. His seo cond son, now Duke of Buckingham, was born to chear him after his return from that unlucky voyage.
For these sweet pledges, and no less for the unquestionable yirtues of her person and mind, he loved her dearly, and well expressed his love in an act and time of no simulation, towards his end, bequeathing herall his mansion-houses during her natural life, and a power to dispose of his whole personal estate, together with a fourth part of his lands in jointure. He left his elder brother of the same womb a viscount, and his younger an earl. Sir Edward Villiers, his half-brother on the fa ther's side, he either preferred, or removed (call it how you will) from his stepmother's eye to the presidentship, where he lived in singular estimation for his justice and hospitality, and died with as much grief of the whole province, as ever any governor 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 ab stained from court, enjoying, perhaps, the greater greatness of selffruition.
He left his mother a countess by patent in her own person, which was a new leading exanıple, grown before somewhat rare since the days of Queen Mary. His sister of Denbigh (that right character of a good lady) he most humbly recommended to the Queen, who, after a discharge of some French in her court, that were to return, took her into three several 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 intire or half blood, descending of the name of Villiers, or Beaumont, within any near degree, either matched with peers of the realm actually, or hopefully, with earls sons and heirs, or at least with knights, or doctors of divinity, and of plentiful condition. He did not much strengthen his own substance in court, but stood there on his own feet; for the truth is, the most of his allies rather leaned upon him, than shoared him up.
His familiar servants, either abont his person in ordinary attendance, or about his affairs of state, as his secretaries, or of office, as his stew