sioned by the erection of a newly-invented water-closet in his house at Kelston. The fertility of genius, and the depth of reading, displayed in this little tract, ought to have screened the author from indignation; but as it contained, at the same time, many satirical allusions to the personages of the Court, and some sly insinuations levelled against the Queen herself, an universal cry of vengeance was excited against Harington; and nothing but the great partiality of Elizabeth for him, and her gratitude for the fidelity of his parents, saved him.

To sprightly characters allowances are generally given for slight deviations from the common forms of decorum; the manner in which they are made usually compensating for their singularity. Harington frequently availed himself of this privilege, and several anecdotes are handed down by tradition, in which Sir John seems to have sacrificed strict good manners to the opportunity of saying a good thing. One incident of this kind occurred at the table of Lady Rogers at Bath, the mother of his wife, who being accustomed to dine at an unconscionably late hour, Sir John determined to try the effect of his wit, in order to work a reformation. A large company being assembled, therefore, at her Ladyship's house, and the dinner on the table, one of his two sons was commanded to repeat the grace. The boy immediately began with, "O Lord, that givest us our meat in due season," when our Knight immediately interrupted him, bade him be silent, and not tell such a lie, "For I never knew," said he, "our meat in due season here in all my life." The sagacity of Sir John seems to have been in a degree imparted to his particular friend and companion, a spaniel dog, which he named Bungay. This celebrated animal was so extremely docile and well instructed, that he frequently travelled alone from Bath to London, carrying in a basket slung round his neck packages and letters, calling for refreshment at the houses on the way which his master was accustomed to frequent, and then pursuing his journey to Court, where his fidelity and sagacity always assured

him caresses and good cheer. In one of these expeditions Bungay unfortunately fell into the hands of a party of beggars, who emptied his basket, carried him off, and sold him to the servants of the Spanish ambassador. After a long and fruitless enquiry for this faithful servant, Sir John accidentally went to the ambassador's, when to his infinite satisfaction he recognized his companion sleeping under the table. Being rather perplexed in what manner to ascertain his property, and to request its restoration, he told the ambassador that the animal before them possessed many more talents than he was apprized of. This naturally induced an explanation, when Sir John, to identify the dog, called him by his name, and made him perform a variety of singular tricks, to the astonishment of his Excellency, who immediately insisted that his old master should once more receive the faithful animal into his protection. Bungay, among other useful offices that he was accustomed to perform, frequently went from the manor-house at Kelston to Bath for two bottles of wine, which the vintner would carefully pack up in the basket that hung suspended from his neck. One day, on his return with the cargo, when he had performed only half his journey, the handle of the basket unfortunately broke, and the whole apparatus fell of course to the ground; but as Bungay never lost his presence of mind, he quickly discovered a method of completing the errand on which he had been sent. One of the bottles he immediately conveyed into a secret part of an adjoining hedge, and taking the other in his mouth travelled home as fast as he could. Having delivered this, he posted back after the remaining one, which he soon conveyed to Kelston in a similar manner, and with equal safety. The concluding circumstance of poor Bungay's life bears ample testimony to his affection and sagacity, and places him upon a par with the far-famed Argus of Ulysses.

1 This story Sir John tells himself, but we must take it, for the most part, as an amusing romance.

Attending Sir John, who was on horseback, to Bath, the animal suddenly leaped upon the horse with such an expression of affectionate fondness to his master as surprised him. This he repeated three or four times successively, and immediately running into the adjoining hedge, lay down and expired. The Knight honoured his memory with some tributes of regard, by writing two epigrams on Bungay, and having his figure introduced into the print prefixed to his translation of Orlando Furioso. The family, also, have preserved an honourable memorial of this sensible creature, in giving the name of Bungay to every successive dog that was kept by the descendants of Sir John; and the beautiful spaniel which belonged to Doctor Harington,' the great great grandson of the Knight, retained this celebrated appellation. In 1599, Harington was made a knight-banneret in the field, by Essex, Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland, for the valour he displayed in that country. The disgust which the Queen conceived both against him and Essex on account of his honour being conferred without her privity, induced him probably to withdraw from Court and retire to Kelston. Here he flattered himself he could pass his remaining days in the pursuits of philosophy and the calm pleasures of rational occupation; but he had mistaken the petulance of pique for a change of disposition; and no sooner did James accede to the throne, than all his accustomed propensities returned; he again languished for courtly parade, and determined to ingratiate himself with the new monarch; which, from the following original letters preserved by the late Dr. Harington, it seems, he soon effected:

"To the Honourable Knyt. my trustie friend Sir John
Harington, by Bathe.

"Honorbl. Sr.-I resaived your letter sent by this gentllman, who delivered to his Maty yt was committed to him. All you sent to Mr.

'The last of the Haringtons who owned Kelston. great learning and much wit, an accomplished admirable musician. Dr. Harington died in 1825.

He was a man of physician, and an

Hunter, yor assured and constant friend, is sa weill accepted of his Matie, that I do not dout but in the anon tyme ye will fynde more in effect nor I can expresse by papeir. And although for the I doe not advertyse particularly, yet must I intreat your favourable censure as one that shall ever love you, and do his best for the accomplishment of your desair. In short time I hope to see qn qr, and I am not certaine ; but then shall yow know more of our maister's love to yorself, and of my devotion to doe yow service, yu shall constantly remayne,

Yor assured friend,


"To the Honorable Kynt. my loving nybour, Sir Johne

Harington, by Baithe.

"Sr.-Yors by Mr. Nicholas Stranger, dated at Westwood, the 27th of Marche, I raissaived at Court, at Hallyruid house, the 2d of Aprill. I fynde yourself and the spinning gentilwoman hath been oft skard, but now, God be praysed, past daunger. His Majestye and his trayne are to marche forward on their journey toward London on the 5th of Aprill. His Majesty excepted your Embleme Lanterne and letters now last exceiding kyndly, as yourself shall sey at meeting. I doubt not but your expectation shall be satisfyed. Thus in haiste, haveing manie dispaitches in hand, as this bearer can beare witness, I rest, requesting yow to make muche of the spinner, that she maie make much of the carder, and convert your spinning and keyding in ryding. The kinde and courteouse Knyte will use your counselle at the parlement, it may be for bothe your benefits. I commit yow to the Almightie. Yr affected and avowed friend to do yow service,

WILLIAM HUNTER. "From the Court at Hallyruid-House, this 5th day of April, 1603."

But the surest earnest of James's future favour was the following letter to Sir John, under the King's own hand, written two days before the above :—

"To our trustie and wel-beloved Sir John Harington, knt.

"Rt. trustie and wel-beloved friend, we greet yow heartily weill. We have raissavit your lanterne with the poesie ye send us be our servand Wm. Hunter, geving yow hairtie thanks, as lykewayis for your last letter quharin we persaist the continuance of your loyall affection

to us and your service. We shall not be unmyndefull to extende our princely favour heirafter to you and your perticulers at all guid occasions. We commit you to God.


"From our Court at Hallyruid House, the 3d of Aprill, 1603."

Sir John enjoyed a great portion of James's esteem, frequently corresponding with him, and going occasionally to Court; though it does not appear that his Majesty performed the promise of particular patronage made in his letter to the knight. John Harington, the puritan and republican, succeeded to Kelston on the death of his father, who, though much abused by party writers, possessed a degree of popularity in the neighbourhood where he resided, that proved his private virtues were great, if his political principles were wrong. His son and successor also, John, was equally beloved at Kelston; for the Lady Dionysia, his mother, having quarrelled with, and being determined to inconvenience him, by removing the personal property from the seat and disposing of it, the inhabitants of the parish rose upon the servants, dispersed them, and replaced the goods in the house, for the benefit of the heir. The old mansion, it is said, suffered during the civil wars, being alternately plundered by the royalists and parliamentarians, as often as their forces passed that way; but its venerable head still continued to brave the storms of fortune, and the changes and chances of human affairs, till modern taste laid its destructive hand upon the fabric, and in the rage of improvement levelled its turrets with the dust.

The stories told of Queen Elizabeth's visits to Kelston are romantic fictions.

« VorigeDoorgaan »