« PreviousContinue »
thought him to be that person.' He replied, "he was in the right, that he was the same, and that he expected a service from him, which was that he should go from him to his son the Duke of Buckingham, and tell him, if he did not somewhat to ingratiate himself to the people, or at least to abate the extreme malice which they had against him, he would be suffered to live but a short time. After this discourse he disappeared, and the poor man (if he had been at all waking) slept very well till morning, when he believed all this to be a dream, and considered it no otherwise.
“ The next night, or shortly afterward, the same person appeared to him again in the same place, and about the same time of the night, with an aspect a little more severe than before, and asked him, whether he had done as he had required of him;' and perceiving he had not, gave him very severe reprehensions, told him he expected more compliance from him, and that if he did not perform his commands, he should enjoy no peace of mind, but should always be pursued by him:' upon which he promised him to obey. But the next morning waking out of a good sleep, though he was exceedingly perplexed with the lively representation of all particulars to his memory, he was still willing to persuade himself that he had only dreamed, and considered that he was a person at such a distance from the Duke, that he knew not how to find out any admission to his presence, much less had any hope to be believed in what he should say; so with great trouble and unquietness he spent some time in thinking what he should do, and in the end resolved to do nothing in the matter.
“ The same person appeared to him the third time
with a terrible countenance, and bitterly reproaching him for not performing what he had promised to do. The poor man had, by this time, recovered the cou. rage to tell him, that in truth he had deferred the execution of his commands, upon considering how difficult a thing it would be for him to get any access to the Duke, having acquaintance with no person about him; and if he should obtain admission to him, he should never be able to persuade him that he was sent in such a manner: that he should at least be thought to be mad, or to be set on and employed by his own, or the malice of other men, to abuse the Duke; and so he should be sure to be undone.' The person replied, as he had done before, that he should never find rest till he should perform what he had required, and therefore he were better to despatch it: that the access to his son was known to be very easy, and that few men waited long for him; and for the gaining him credit, he would tell him two or three particulars, which he charged him never to mention to any person living but to the Duke himself; and he should no sooner hear them, but he should believe all the rest he should say:' and so, repeating his threats, he left him.
“ In the morning the poor man, more confirmed by the last appearance, made his journey to London, where the court then was. He was very well known to Sir Ralph Freeman, one of the Masters of Requests, who had married a lady that was nearly allied to the Duke, and was himself well received by him. To him this man went, and though he did not acquaint him with all the particulars, he said enough to let him know there was something extraordinary in it; and the knowledge he had of the sobriety and disVOL. II.
cretion of the man, made the more impression on him. He desired, that by hịs means he might be brought to the Duke, in such a place and in such a manner as should be thought fit, affirming that he had much to say to him, and of such a nature as would require much privacy, and some time and patience in the hearing. Sir Ralph promised, he would speak first with the Duke of him, and then he should understand his pleasure; and accordingly, the first opportunity, he did inform him of the reputation and honesty of the man, and then what he desired, and of all he knew of the matter. The Duke, according to his usual openness and condescension, told him that he was the next day early to hunt with the King: that his horses should attend him at Lambeth bridge, where he should land by five of the clock in the morning; and, if the man attended him there at that hour, he would walk and speak with him as long as should be necessary.'
“ Sir Ralph carried the man with him the next morning, and presented him to the Duke at his landing, who received him very, courteously, and walked aside in conference near an hour: none but his own servants being at that hour in that place, and they and Sir Ralph at such a distance, that they could not hear a word; though the Duke sometimes spoke loud and with great emotion, which Sir Ralph the more easily observed and perceived, because he kept his eyes always fixed upon the Duke, having procured the conference upon somewhat he knew was extraordinary. The man told him, in his return over the water, that “when he mentioned those particulars which were to gain him credit (the substance whereof, he said, he durst not impart unto him) the Duke's colour changed, and he swore he could come at that knowledge only by the devil, for that those . particulars were only known to himself and to one person more, who he was sure would never speak of it.'
“ The Duke pursued his purpose of hunting, but was observed to ride all the morning with great pensiveness and in deep thoughts, without any delight in the exercise he was upon; and before the morning was spent, left the field, and alighted at his mother's lodgings in Whitehall, with whom he was shut up for the space of two or three hours, the noise of their discourse frequently reaching the ears of those who attended in the next rooms. And when the Duke left her, his countenance appeared full of trouble with a mixture of anger, a countenance that was never before observed in him in any conversation with her, toward whom he had a profound reverence; and the Countess herself (for though she was married to a private gentleman, Sir Thomas Compton, she had been created Countess of Buckingham shortly after her son had assumed that title) was, at the Duke's leaving her, found overwhelmed in tears, and in the highest agony imaginable.
“ Whatever there was of all this, it is a notorious truth, that when the news of the Duke's murther (which happened within a few months after) was
* Fame insinuates, that the secret token was an incestuous breach of modesty between the Duke and a certain lady too nearly related to him, which it surprised him to hear of: this he thought he had good reasons to be sure the lady would not herself have communicated, and therefore he concluded none but the devil could have divulged the matter so that he was very far from receiving the man slightly, or laughing at his message
brought to his mother, she seemed not in the least degree surprised, but received it as if she had foreseen it; nor did afterward express such a degree of sorrow, as was expected from such a mother for the loss of such a son.” *
He took to wife, eight years before his death, Lady Catherine Manners, heiress general to the noble house of Rutland, who beside a solid addition to his estate, brought him three sons and a daughter (called Mary, his first-born): his eldest son died at nurse, before his journey to Rhé; and his third, Lord Francis, was born after his father's death: so that neither his first nor his last participated of any sense of his misfortunes or felicities. The second, who succeeded to his estates and honours, was born to cheer him on his return from that unfortunate expedition.t
For these sweet pledges, and no less for the unquestionable virtues of her person and mind, he loved his lady dearly, and well expressed his love in an act and time of no simulation; bequeathing her all 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. His elder brother of the same womb he left a Viscount, and his younger brother an Earl; Sir Edward
* This story, which the noble Historian of the English Rebellion seriously pronounces to rest upon a better foundation of credit than usually such discourses are founded upon,” is related with some little circumstantial difference by several considerable authors; but all seem to agree in it's material parts.
of His Life, with a short account of the fatal gallantry of his beautiful brother Lord Francis Villiers, is given in a subsequent Volume.