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friendship is thus related by old Sir Nicholas Overbury, (Overbury's father,) who, in 1637, dictated certain things to his grindson, Nicholas Oldisworth, of Porton, relative to his unfortunate son :
“When Sir Tho. Overbury was a little past 20 yeares old, hee and Jolin Guilby, his father's chiefc clerke, were sent (upon a voyage of pleasure) to Edinburgh, with 601. between them. There Thom. mett with Sir Wm Cornwallis, one who knew him in Queene's College at Oxford. Sr Wm commended him to diverse, and among the rest to Robin Carr, then page to earle of Dunbarre : so they two came along to England together, and were great friends."*
The circumstances respecting Overbury's introduction at court are not recorderl, but it was doubtless through the influence of his powerful friend, who is said to have looked upon
"an oracle of direction.” He seems to have been well adapter for success, and to have been of a bold carriage and aspiring temper. Sir Nicholas has recorded of his son, “That when Sir Thomas was maile sewer to the King, his Mixty walking in the privy garden,
* This interesting notice is derivel from Arlditional MS., No. 15,476, in the British Museum. It is entitled
Booke touching Sir Thomas Overvury who was mur. thered by l'oison in the Tower of London, the i5th day of September, 16133, being the 32nd year of his age.' it contains the proceedings of the divorce of the Earl and Countess of Essex; the trials of Weston, Mrs. Turner, Franklin, and Helwysse, or Elwyt; the Eari and Countess of Somerset's arraignments ; a ballad on the same parties, not fit for publication ; and “ Notes taken A.1). 1637, from the mouth of Sir Nicholas Overbury, the father of Sir Thomas." It is altogether a inost valuable VS., and well deserving of publicativu.
shewed him to the Queene saying, Looke you, this is any newe sewer ; and queene Anne answered, 'Tis a prety young fellow."
On the 19th of June, 1608, Overbury received the honour of knighthood at Greenwich, and shortly afterwards his father, who was a Bencher of the Middle Teniple, was made one of the Judges of Wales. In the beginning of the following year, Sir Thomas Overbury visite France and the Low Countries, and penned his “Observations upon the state of the Seventeen Provinces," reprinted in the following pages. Shortly after his return he was spoken of as likely to be employed in a diplomatic capacity, * but the appointment did not take place.
Overbury was now looked upon as one of the risiug stars of the court, and the wits and poets of the day were anxious to do him homage. Foremost among them was Ben Jonsoli, who thus cpigramatized his friend :
“TO SIR THOJAS OVERBURY. “So Phæbus make me worthy of his bays, As but to speak thee, Overbury's praise : So where thou liv’st, thou mak’st life understool, Where, what makes others great, doth keep thee good ! I think, the fate of court thy coming crav'd, That the wit there and manners inight be sav'd: For since, what ignorance, what pride is tled ! And letters, and humanity in the stearl !
* The Rev. John Sandford, writing to Sir Thomas Edmondes, (Lonilon, March 6, 1610,) says, “The ambas. sador to be sent froin hence is diversly spoken of: some say Sir Henry Motion, lately arrived in court; others suspect Mr. George Calvert, who came to London on Sunday last ; of late Sir Thomas Overbury, a great favourite of Sir Robert Car, bath been inentioned."--The Court gud Times of James I.: 8vo. 1819, vol. i. p. 108.
Repent thee not of thy fair precedent,
In Ben Jonson's “ Conversations with Drummond of Hawthornden," we have the following entry :“Overhury was first his (Jonson's friend, then turn'd his mortail enimie.” To which passage
the learned editor adds, "When the enmity between Ben Jonson and Sir Thomas Overbury began is nowhere stated; probably anterior to February 1602-3, under which date we meet with the following in Manningham's Diary, (Harl. MSS. 5,353):
“Ben Jonson, the poet, now lives upon one Townesend and scornes the world. So Overbury."* The notice in Manningham's Diary in no way relates to the quarrel between Overbury and Jonson, which must have been of a date long subsequent to 1602-3, at which period Overbury was probably unknown at court. The difference between them was after the date of Jonson's lines, of which Gifford gays in a note, “ This Epigram was probably written about 1610, when Sir Thomas returned from his travels, and followed the fortunes of Cart with a zeal and integrity worthy of a better fate." +
Again in the same “Conversations,” we read, “The Countess of Rutland was nothing inferior to her father, Sir P. Sidney, in poesic. Sir Th: Overburie was in love with her, and caused Ben to
Notes of Ben Jonson's Conversations with William Drumnond Hawthornlen, January M.DC.XIX. (Elited by David Laing, E-2. Shakespeare Society, 1812.
+ Ben Jonson's Works, vol. viii. p. 224.
read his Wyffe to her, which he, with ane excellent grace, did, and praised the author. That the morne thereafter he discorded with Overburie, who would have him to intend a sute that was unlawful. The lines my Lady keep'd in remembrance, He comes too near who comes to be denied.” Here, in all probability, we have the cause of quarrel between Overbury and Jonson. The story, certainly, reflects more credit upon “rare Ben," than it does upon his courtly coteinporary.
Somerset and Overbury were each advancing in court favour and in mutual confidence. “Such," we are told, was the warmth of their friendship, that they were inseparable. Carr could enter into no scheme, nor pursue any measure without the advice and concurrence of Overbury, nor could Overbury enjoy any felicity but in the company of him he loved; their friendship was the subject of court conversation, and their genius seemeil so much alike, that it was reasonable to suppose no breach could ever be produced between them."*
Had Somerset been half as prudent in the choice of his mistress, as he had been in the selection of a friend, how different might have been the dénouement! We must now retrace our steps in order to introduce two other characters on the scene.
On the 5th of January, 1606, Robert Devereux, Earl of Essex, t was married to Frances Howard,
* Memoir of Overbury in Cibber's Lives of the Poets, vol. ii. p. 30.
+ Afterwards remarkable for his achieveients as the general of the parliament army. He was the only son of
(laughter of Thomas, Earl of Suffolk; a briilegroom of fourteen to a bride of thirteen. In a letter of the period we have a curious account of the nuptial rejoicings on the occasion.
“ The bridegroom," says the writer, “ carried himself as gravely and gracefully as if he were of his father's age. He had greater gifts given him than my Lord of Montgomery hal, his plate being valued at £3000, his jewels, money, and other gifts at £1000 more. But to return to the Mask. Both Inigo (Jones], Ben (Jonson), and the actors, men and women, did their parts with great commentation. The conceit or soul of the mask, was Hymen bringing in a bride, and Juno, Pronuba's priest, a bridegroom, proclaiming that those two should be sacrificed to nuptial union. And here the poet made an apostrophe to the union of the kingdoms; but before the sacrifice could be performed, Ben Jonson turned the globe of the earth, standing behind the altar, and within the concave sat the eight men-maskers, representing the four Humours and the four Affections, who leaped forth and disturbed the sacrifice to union. But amidst their fury, Reason that sat above them all, crowned with burning tapers, came down and silenced them. These cight, together with Reason, their moderator, mounted above their heads, sat somewhat like the ladies in the scallop-shell, the last year. About the globe of earth hovered a middle region of clouds, in the centre of which stood a grand concert of musicians, and upon the canton, or horns, sat the ladies,
the unliappy favourite of Queen Elizabeth, and was born at Essex-house in the Strand, in 1592.