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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 near 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-court, 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 band)- 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 ear, 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 peace-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 the 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, a 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 marriage 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 earl not above sixteen at the most; therefore for some few years, by reason of the nonage of the earl, they lived apart until about the year l6l0, at which time they enjoyed the society of one bed, and so continued until about the year l6l3, 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 Elwayes 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 troubled 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 both 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 the command of a regiment. At the same time the Earl of Oxford was
in Holland, a great and gallant commander, from whose valour and whose actions, other soldiers may take example, both to fight, and overcome. With him, and some others, who also had the charge of regiments, the Earl of Essex was very conversant; and the presence and command of these noblemen in the army did much add to the honour of the English regiment, and did enlarge and dilate their own fame into adjacent kingdoms.
He continued certain years in the Netherlands, and having gained renown, by his experience and perfection in the feats of arms,- he advanced thence to the Palatinate, to which place went also the Earl of Southampton, the Lord Willoughby, the Earl of Oxford, and Sir John Borlans, with their regiments; they arrived most welcome to the king and queen of Bohemia, the present condition of their affairs much wanting the presence of such brave commanders, who gave a new life and spirit to the soldiers wheresoever they came. At that time there were great hopes that the King of England would, out of his three kingdoms, send such a continued stock of men to the Palatinate, that the crown of Bohemia should be established on the head of the Elector Palatine, and that by no course.sooner than by virtue of the English arms: but King James never stood greatly affected, either to this war, or to the cause thereof, and.thereupon some regiments of unexperienced voluntiers going over, instead of a well-composed army, it was one reason, amongst many others, that not only Bohemia, but the Palatinate were also lost, which were both invaded by so mighty an enemy as was then the emperor, and seconded by so puissant a potentate as was the King of Spain.
The Earl of Essex having adventured all things for the relief of that distressed lady, and finding an impossibility, with such weak forces, to oppose so great a power, he resolved to return into England, but not without some hope that his majesty would be sensible of his daughter's sufferings, and of those illustrious and hopeful cradles, which grief and fear did rock, and that he would send over such full recruits of men, as might advance again his speedy return into Germany.
But God did otherwise ordain it, for not long after King James, by the privation of death, enjoyed the possession of a better life. And, Prince Charles being invested with the crown, he was so far from sending forces into Germany, that the German horse were called over into England.
The delight of King James was peace, but almost the first designs of King Charles were war. To this purpose, that he might make his kingdoms as terrible by arms, as his father had left them flourishing in peace, he calleth a parliament, which (the sickness, at the same time raging with great violence in the city of London) did meet at Oxford on the beginning of the month of August, in the first year of hisreign; but this king was never fortunate either in his parliaments, or in his wars, for, the Duke of Buckingham being questioned, the parliament was not long after dissolved. Howsoever, a design went on for a sudden expedition into Cadiz in Spain, which was committed to be managed by the Viscount Wimbleton, and by the Earl of Essex. The Earl of Essex did the more readily undertake it, because the judgment and the valour of Sir Edward Cecill, created by the King Viscount Wimbleton,
.was highly regarded by him, having had sufficient experience of it in the Low-Countries, where Sir Edward Cecill also for a long time, and with great reputation, commanded a regiment, for the service of the states: his other reason was, because that his father heretofore had taken Cadiz, and he believed that a more gallant action could never be imposed on him, than to be designed unto that place, where he might enlarge his own, and renew his father's glory. Being imbarqued for the prosecution of this service, which promised so much honour; being at •ea, and by a fair wind brought almost as far as Cadiz, the chief commanders opened their commission, and finding, to their great grief, that they had not that power granted them, which they expected, they had many consultations on it: Sir Edward Cecill was loth to exceed the bounds of the commission, well knowing what danger, on his return, might ensue thereby.
The Earl of Essex was unwilling to return without effecting any thing: and the rather, because the Spaniards (according to the ostentation natural to that nation) did begin to dare him from their walls and battlements; insomuch that some of his men were landed, and entered some part of the town; and the earl found that it was no difficult matter for the English again to be masters of the town, had they but authority to fall on. Howsoever the Spaniards had notice before hand that the English ships had a design upon that place; and some, withal, are of opinion, that they knew how far their commission did extend: all along the shore their horse and foot stood ready to entertain us at our landing, who wanted neither desire, nor resolution, to encounter them, had but the word been given. The Earl of Essex, being sorry that he was employed on so unnecessary an expedition, and so unsuitable to the English temper, did resolve with himself, on his return to England, to adventure no more on such employments, but to repair again to Holland, where the courage of himself, and his soldiers, should be sure of action, and where their action should be attended with honour. He there resided a certain time, and by his exemplary virtue did much advance the affairs of that state. Being called back Into England, by the importunity of his friends, he afterwards married with Mrs. Elisabeth Paulet, who (if I am not mistaken) had then some relation to the Marchioness of Hertford, sister to this earl. This Mrs. Paulet was a young lady of a delicate temper; she was daughter of Sir William Paulet of Hedington in Wiltshire, and descended by the father's side, from the illustrious family of the Paulets, Marquis of Winchester: by her, the Earl of Essex had a son, who was christened Robert, after his father's name, and died in the year 16.36, and lies buried at Drayton in the county of Warwick.
There is nothing born so happy, which is absolute in every part, for, much about the same time, there did arise some discontents, betwixt the earl and this lady also, upon which this earl did ever after abandon all uxorious thoughts, and wholly applied himself to the improvement of those rules, which conduce to the soundness of church and state: and, if any unseverer hours of leisure offered themselves in his study, he would employ that time in the perusal of some laboured poem, and having great judgment, especially in the English verse, it was his custom to applaud the professors of that art, as high as their desert, and to reward them above it; and he was no way inclined to the sullen opinion of those men who disclaim the muses, and esteem all poems to be as unlawful, as unprofitable.
When the ambition and the excess of the bishops did swell them up to such an uncompassed greatness, that they were not only become unwieldy to themselves, and intolerable to their diocesses, but endeavoured also to lay unconscionable burdens by compulsive ceremonies, on the kingdom of Scotland, the women there did first begin the coil, which was afterwards followed by their youth, their youth, who mustered themselves into arms for the defence of their religion, protesting themselves to be enemies to all thoughts, that had but the least relation to the church of Rome.
To this resolution (it being for the cause of God) the whole kingdom of Scotland did join their devoted hands. The King was seduced by the English bishops to make a war against them, and great preparation* were in hand, to that intent. In the first year that the King advanced against the Scots, the Earl of Essex was one of his principal commanders, but it pleased God to make that year no year of blood. In the year following, a parliament was called, and, money being gained for the prosecution of the war, it was again broke off. To this war, the bishops did contribute much, and Doctor Peirce, the bishop at that time of Bath and Wells, did not doubt to call it in his pulpit, the Bishops War. But what had the bishops to do with the sword, and indeed it thrived with them accordingly; for, the army of the King being beaten by the Scots, and the town of Newcastle being seized by them, it was thought expedient by the King's best counsellors that a parliament should be called again. This is the parliament which unto this day doth continue, and which have laboured so much to their perpetual glory, for the reformation of religion, for the liberty of the subject, and the safety of the kingdom.
On the beginning of this parliament, which represented the whole body of the kingdom, the King who, without all doubt, was inforced to summon it, to relieve the crying oppressions of his subjects, did appear like a man in a fever; sometimes very hot to give satisfaction to the complaints and desires of his subjects, and sometimes again cold and fro ward.
The most noble Earl of Pembroke, and Montgomery, being dismissed from his place, by the pleasure of his majesty, the parliament did move the King, that the Earl of Essex might succeed him, to which (his majesty unwilling openly to deny them) did give his assent; he knew very well that received maxim that (during their time of sitting in parliament) subjects are greater than they are, and the King less.
The earl, although (for a long time) he had discontinued the court, yet did deport himself, with so much honour and judgment, that the old courtiers, and those who were most intire unto his majesty could not find the least subject of distaste. But the discontents betwixt the King and parliament increasing, and the King forsaking London, the noble Earl of Essex (being a member of the House of Peers) would not for