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Italian antidotes against poison, as the Scots till then had been strangers to.
Having parted from the Duke, he took up the name and lan. guage of an Italian; and thinking it best to avoid the line of English intelligence and danger, he posted into Norway, and through that country towards Scotland, where he found the King at Stirling. Being there, he used means, by Bernard Lindsey, one of the King's Bed-chamber, to procure him a speedy and private conference with his Majesty ; assuring him, " That the business which he was to negociate was of such consequence, as had caused the Great Duke of Tuscany to enjoin him suddenly to leave his native country of Italy, to impart it to his King.'
This being by Bernard Lindsey made known to the King, the King, after a little wonder--mixed with jealousy—to hear of an Italian Ambassador, or messenger, required his name,—which was said to be Octavio Baldi,—and appointed him to be heard privately at a fixed hour that evening.
When Octavio Baldi came to the Presence-chamber door, he was requested to lay aside his long rapier—which, Italian-like, he then wore ;—and being entered the chamber, he found there with the King three or four Scotch Lords standing distant in several corners of the chamber: at the sight of whom he made a stand ; which the King observing, “ bade him be bold, and deliver his message; for he would undertake for the secrecy of all that were present.” Then Did Octavio Baldi deliver his letters and his message to the King in Italian ; which when the King had graciously received, after a little pause, Octavio Baldi steps to the table, and whispers to the King in his own language, that he was an Englishman, beseeching him for a more private conference with his Majesty, and that he might be concealed during his stay in that nation; which was promised and really per. formed by the King, during all his abode there, which was about three months; all which time was spent with much pleasantness to the King, and with as much to Octavio Baldi himself, as that country could afford; from which he departed as true an Italian as he came thither.
To the Duke at Florence he returned with a fair and grateful account of his employment; and within some few months after
his return, there came certain news to Florence, that Queen Elizabeth was dead: and James, King of the Scots, proclaimed King of England. The Duke knowing travel and business to be the best schools of wisdom, and that Sir Henry Wotton had been tutored in both, advised him to return presently to England, and there joy the King with his new and better title, and wait there upon Fortune for a better employment.
When King James came into England, he found amongst other of the late Queen's officers, Sir Edward, who was, after Lord Wotton, Comptroller of the House, of whom he demanded, “If he knew one Henry Wotton, that had spent much time in foreign travel ?” The Lord replied he knew him well, and that he was his brother. Then the King, asking where he then was, was answered, at Venice or Florence; but by late letters from thence he understood he would suddenly be at Paris. “ Send for him,” said the King, “and when he shall come into England, bid him repair privately to me.” The Lord Wotton, after a little wonder, asked the King, “ If he knew him ?”' To which the King answered, “ You must rest unsatisfied of that till you bring the gentleman to me."
Not many months after this discourse, the Lord Wotton brought his brother to attend the King, who took him in his arms, and bade him welcome by the name of Octavio Baldi, saying, he was the most honest, and therefore the best dissembler that he ever met with : and said, “Seeing I know you neither want learning, travel, nor experience, and that I have had so real a testimony of your faithfulness and abilities to manage an ambassage, I have sent for you Co declare my purpose ; which is, to make use of you in that kind hereafter.” And indeed the King did so, most of those two and twenty years of his reign; but before he dismissed Octavio Baldi from his present attendance upon him, he restored him to his old name of Henry Wotton, by which he then knighted him.
Not long after this, the King having resolved according to his Motto—Beati pacifici—to have a friendship with his neighbour Kingdoms of France and Spain ; and also, for divers weighty reasons, to enter into an alliance with the State of Venice, and to that end to send Ambassadors to those several places, did propose the choice of these employments to Sir Henry Wotton; who,
considering the smallness of his own estate,—which he never took care to auginent,— and knowing the Courts of great Princes to be sumptuous, and necessarily expensive, inclined most to that of Venice, as being a place of more retirement, and best suiting with his genius, who did ever love to join with business, study and a trial of natural experiments; for both which, fruitful Italy. that darling of Nature, and cherisher of all arts, is so justly famed in all parts of the Christian world.
Sir Henry having, after some short time and consideration, resolved upon Venice, and a large allowance being appointed by the King or his voyage thither, and a settled maintenance during his stay there, he left England, nobly accompanied through France to Venice, by gentlemen of the best families and breeding that this nation afforded : they were too many to name; but these two, for the following reasons, may
be omitted. Sir Albertus Morton*, his Nephew, who went his Secretary ; and William Bedel,t a man of choice learning, and sanctified wisdom, who went his Chaplain.
And though his dear friend Dr. Donne—then a private gentleman—was not one of the number that did personally accompany him in this voyage, yet the reading of this following letter, sent by him to Sir Henry Wotton, the morning before he left England, may testify he wanted not his friend's best wishes to attend him.
* The son of George Morton, of Esture, in Kent, elected Scholar of King's College, Cambridge, in 1602. After his employment under Sir H. Wotton, he was thrice agent in Savoy, Secretary to the Lady Elizabeth, in Heidelberg, and agent for the King to the Princes of the Union. He also became a Clerk of the Council, and was knighted in 1671. He died in the Parish of St. Mar. garet, Westminster, about November 1625, having been elected a Burgess in Parliament for the University of Cambridge ; and he left a widow and one son.
+ William Bedel, an excellent Prelate, was born at Black Notley, in Essex, and educated at Emanuel College, Cambridge, of which he became Fellow, in 1593. Much of his memoirs is given in the text; he died Feb. 7th, 1641, in the house of an Irish Minister, whither the rebels had conveyed him. In his life by Bishop Burnet, is an interesting account of his Irish translation of the Scriptures.
By which to you he derives much of his,
A taper of his torch ; a copy writ
After those learned papers, which your hand
After those loving papers which friends send
Admit this honest paper, and allow
at Venice, this says now, And has for nature what you have for task.
To swear much love ; nor to be chang'd before
But 'tis an easier load—though both oppress-
'Tis therefore well your spirits now are placed
For me !—if there be such a thing as I–
But though she part us, to hear my oft prayers
Sir Henry Wotton was received by the State of Venice with much honour and gladness, both for that he delivered his ambassage most elegantly in the Italian language, and came also in such a juncture of time, as his master's friendship seemed useful for that Republic. The time of his coming thither was about the year 1604, Leonardo Donato being then Duke; a wise and resolved man, and to all purposes such—Sir Henry Wotton would often say it—as the State of Venice could not then have wanted; there having been formerly, in the time of Pope Clement the Eighth, some contests about the privileges of Churchmen, and the power of the Civil Magistrates; of which, for the information of common readers, I shall say a little, because it may give light to some passages that follow.
About the year 1603, the Republic of Venice made several in. junctions against lay-persons giving lands or goods to the Church, without licence from the Civil Magistrate; and in that inhibition they expressed their reasons to be, “For that when any goods or land once came into the hands of the Ecclesiastics, it was not subject to alienation : by reason whereof—the lay-people being at their death charitable even to excess,—the Clergy grew every day more numerous, and pretended an exemption from all public service and taxes, and from all secular judgment; so that the burden grew thereby too heavy to be born by the Laity.”
* In the first edition of this Life, the whole of the passages from “ And though his dear friend,” to “ Sir Henry Wotton was received,” are wanting