« PreviousContinue »
HENRY PRINCE OF WALES.
HENRY, eldest son of the King of Great Britain, late of blessed hope, now of happy memory, died on the 6th of November, 1612. He died to the great grief and regret of the whole kingdom, as being a youth who had neither offended men's minds nor satiated them. The goodness of his disposition had awakened manifold hopes among numbers of all ranks, nor had he lived long enough to disappoint them. Moreover, as among the people generally he had the reputation of being firm in the cause of religion ; so the wiser sort were deeply impressed with the feeling that he had been to his father as a guard and shield against the machinations of conspirators, — a mischief for which our age has hardly found a remedy; so that the love of the people both for religion and for the King overflowed upon him, and was rightly taken into account in estimating his loss.
In body he was strong and erect, of middle height, his limbs gracefully put together, his gait kinglike, his face long and somewhat lean, his habit rather full, his countenance composed, and the motion of his eyes rather sedate than powerful. His forehead bore marks of severity, his mouth had a touch of pride. And yet when one penetrated beyond those outworks, and soothed him with due attention and seasonable discourse, one found him gentle and easy to deal with; so that he seemed quite another man in conversation than his aspect promised ; and altogether he was one who might easily get himself a reputation at variance with his manners. Of praise and glory he was doubtless covetous; and was stirred with every show of good
and every breath of honour: which in a young man goes for virtues. For both arms and military men were in honour with him; nor was he himself without something of a warlike spirit; he was given also to magnificence of works, though otherwise frugal enough of money; he was fond of antiquity and arts : and a favourer of learning, though rather in the honour he paid it than the time he spent upon it. In his morals there was nothing more to be praised than that in every kind of duty he seemed to be well trained and comformable. He was a wonderfully obedient son to the King his father, very attentive also to the Queen, kind to his brother ; but his sister he especially loved ; whom also he resembled in countenance, as far as a man's face can be compared with that of a very beautiful girl.
The masters and tutors of his youth also (which rarely happens) continued in great favour with him. In discourse, as he exacted respect from others, so he observed it himself. And finally in his daily way of life, and the assignation of several hours for its several duties, he was constant and regular above the habit of his years. His passions were not over vehement, and rather equable than great. For of love matters there was wonderfully little talk, considering his age: insomuch that he passed that extremely slippery time of his early manhood, in so great a fortune and in very good health, without being particularly noted for any affairs of that kind. There was no one in his court that had great power with him, or that possessed a strong hold on his mind. The very pursuits in which he took most delight had rather their times than their excesses; and were repeated each in its turn, rather than some one allowed to take the lead and overrule the rest; whether that were moderation and self-restraint, or that in a nature not very precocious, but ripening slowly, it did not yet appear which would ultimately prevail. In understanding he was certainly strong, and did not want either curiosity or capacity. But in speech he was somewhat slow, and as it were embarrassed ; and yet if you observed diligently the things he said, whether in asking questions or expressing opinions, they were ever to the point, and argued no ordinary capacity; so that his slow and seldom speaking seemed to come rather from suspense and solicitude than weakness or dulness of judgment. In the meantime he was a wonderfully patient listener, even in affairs which grew to length, and that attentively, and without growing weary; so
that he seldom let his thoughts wander or his mind lose its power of attention, but kept it still fixed and applied to that which was saying or doing: a habit which promised great wisdom in him if he had lived. Many points there were indeed in this prince's nature which were obscure, and could not be discovered by any man's judgment, but only by time, which was not allowed him. Those however which appeared were excellent; which is enough for fame. He died in the nineteenth year of his age of a malignant fever, which — springing from the great heats and droughts, greater than islanders are accustomed to,- was very general among the people during the summer, though few died of it; but became towards autumn more fatal. Rumour, ever more malignant (as Tacitus says) upon the deaths of princes, suggested poison. But as no symptoms of such a thing appeared, especially in the stomach which is commonly most affected by poison, that report soon died away.