The Right Hon. Sir RICHARD FANSHAWE, Knt. and bart., a statesman, negociator, and poet of the last century, was the youngest son, and tenth child, of sir Henry Fanshawe, knt. remembrancer of the exchequer, and brother of lord viscount Fanshawe, of Dromore, in the kingdom of Ireland, and was born at Ware-park in Hertfordshire, in the month of June 1608. Being only seven years of age when his father died, the care of his education devolved upon his mother, who placed him under the famous schoolmaster Thomas Farnaby. November 12, 1623, he was admitted a fellow-commoner of Jesus college, Cambridge, under the tuition of Dr. Beale, where he prosecuted his studies with success, and discovered a genius for classical learning. Thence he was removed to the Inner Temple, Jan. 22, 1626; but at his mother's death he resolved to pursue a line of life better adapted to his genius and inclination, and accordingly he travelled to France and Spain, for the purpose of acquiring the languages, and studying the manners of those countries. On his return home he was appointed secretary to the embassy at Madrid, under lord Aston, and was left resident there from the time of lord Aston's resignation to the appointment of sir Arthur Hopton in 1638.
Being in England at the breaking-out of the civil war, he declared early for the crown, and was employed in several important matters of state. In 1644, attending the court at Oxford, he had the degree of D.C.L. conferred upon him, and was appointed secretary at war to the prince of Wales, whom he attended into the western parts of England, and thence into the islands of Scilly and Jersey. In 1648 he was appointed treasurer to the navy under prince Rupert, which office he held till 1650, when he was created a baronet, and sent to Madrid to represent the necessitous situation of his master, and to beg a temporary assistance from Philip IV. He was then sent for to Scotland, and served there in the capacity of secretary of state to the great satisfaction of all parties, although he took neither covenant nor engagement. About this time he was recommended by the king to the York party, who received him with great kindness, and entrusted him with the broad seal and signet. In 1651 he was taken prisoner at the battle of Worcester, and committed to close custody in London; but, having contracted a dangerous sickness, he had liberty allowed him, upon giving bail, to go for the recovery of his health to any place he should chuse, provided he stirred not five miles thence without leave from the parliament. In 1654 he was at Tankersley park in Yorkshire, which place he hired of his friend lord Strafford, to whom he dedicated his translation of the "Lusiad of Camoens," written during his residence there. In February 1659 (under pretence of travelling abroad with the eldest son of Philip earl of Pembroke), he obtained his bail to be returned, and repaired to king Charles II. at Breda, who knighted him in April following; and appointed him master of requests, and secretary of the Latin tongue.
Upon his majesty's restoration he expected to be appointed secretary of state, from a promise which had formerly been made him of that office; but to his great disappointment, it was, at the instance of the duke of Albemarle, given to sir William Morrice, which circumstance lady Fanshawe states thus: "The king promised sir Richard that he should be one of the secretaries of state (at the Restoration), and both the duke of Ormond and lord chancellor Clarendon were witnesses of it; yet that false man made the king break his word for his own accommodation, and placed Mr. Morrice, a poor country gentleman of about £200 a year, a fierce presbyterian, and one who never saw the king's face; but still promises were made of the reversion to sir Richard."
He was elected one of the representatives of the university of Cambridge in the parliament which met the 8th of May 1661, and was soon after sworn a privy counsellor of Ireland. Having by his residence in foreign courts qualified himself, for public employments abroad, he was sent envoy extraordinary to Portugal, with a dormant commission to the ambassador, which he was to make use of as occasion should require. Shortly after, he was appointed ambassador to that court, where he negotiated the marriage between his master king Charles II. and the infanta donna Catharina, daughter of king John VI. and returned to England towards the end of the same year. It appears that he was again sent ambassador to that crown in 1662, and was, upon his return to England the following year, sworn of his majesty's privy-council. His integrity, abilities, and industry, became so well known in Portugal, that he was recommended and desired by that crown to be sent to Spain as the fittest person to bring about an accommodation between Spain and Portugal. In the beginning of 1664 he was sent ambassador to Philip IV. king of Spain, and arrived, February the 29th, at Cadiz, where he was saluted in a manner unexampled to others, and received with several circumstances of particular esteem. It appears from one of sir Richard's letters, that this extraordinary respect was paid him not only upon his own, but also upon his master the king of England's account. He says, "I had not been three hours on shore (at Cadiz) when an extraordinary messenger arrived from Madrid with more particular orders than formerly, from his catholic majesty, importing that our master's fleet, when arrived, and his ambassador, should be pre-saluted from the city in a manner unexampled to others, and which should not be drawn into example hereafter. Moreover (and this so likewise), that I and all my company must be totally defrayed, both here and all the way up to Madrid, upon his catholic majesty's account; with several other circumstances of particular esteem for our royal master, above all the world beside." From a passage in another letter of his it is evident, that the hope the Spaniards entertained, of having Tangier and Jamaica restored to them by England, was, that which made his arrival impatiently longed for, and so magnificently celebrated." During his residence at this court, however, after all that apparent good will, he experienced such frequent mortifications as ministers use to meet with in courts irresolute and perplexed in their own affairs, and had made a journey to Lisbon upon the earnest desire of Spain, and returned without effect. On a sudden, when the recovery of Philip IV. grew desperate, a project for a treaty was sent to the ambassador, containing more advantages of trade to the nation, and insisting upon fewer inconvenient conditions than had ever been in any of the former, and urging the immediate acceptation or rejection of it, on account of the king's illness, "which," they declared, "might make such an alteration in counsels, that, if it were not done in his lifetime, they knew not what might happen after." The ambassador, surprised with this overture, compared what was offered with what he was to demand by his instructions; and what was defective in those particulars he added to the articles presented to him, with such farther additions, as, upon his own observation and conference with the merchants, occurred to him; which being agreed to, he signed the treaty, with a secret article respecting Portugal, and sent it to England. The treaty was no sooner brought to the king, and perused in council, but many faults were found with it, and in the end the king concluded that he would not sign it; and the ambassador was recalled.
Sir Richard was preparing for his return to England; when, June 4, 1666, he was seized at Madrid with a violent fever, which put an end to his life the 16th of the same month, the very day he had designed to set out on his return home. His body, being embalmed, was conveyed by his lady, with all his children then living, by land to Calais, and afterwards to All Saints church in Hertford, where it was deposited in the vault of his father-in-law, sir John Harrison, till May 18, 1671, and then was removed into a new vault, made on purpose for him and his family in the parish-church of Ware. Near the vault there is a handsome monument erected to his memory. He was remarkable for his meekness, sincerity, humanity, and piety; and also was an able statesman and a great scholar, being in particular a complete master of several modern languages, especially Spanish, which was perfectly familiar to him.
Although much of his life was spent in active business, he found leisure to produce the following works: 1. An English translation in rhyme of Guarini's " Il Pastor Fido, or the Faithful Shepherd," 1646, 4to. 2. A translation from English into Latin verse of Fletcher's "Faithful Shepherdess," 1658. 3 In the octavo edition of "The Faithful Shepherd," are inserted the following poems of our author; An Ode on his majesty's Proclamation in 1630, commanding the gentry to reside upon their estates in the country; an English translation of the fourth book of Virgil's Aeneid; Odes of Horace, translated into English; and a summary Discourse of the Civil Wars of Rome. 4. He translated from Portuguese into English, Camoens' Lusiad, or Portugal's Historical Poem," 1655, folio. 5. After his decease were published two pieces in 4to, 1671, "Querer per solo querer," "To love only for love's sake," a dramatical romance, represented before the king and queen of Spain; and "Fiestas de Aranjeuz," Festival at Aranjeuz. Both written in Spanish by Antonio de Mendoza, upon celebrating the birth-day of Philip VI. in 1623, at Aranjuez; and translated by our author in 1654, during his confinement. 6. His correspondence was published in 1701, in one volume, 8vo, under this title: "Original Letters of his excellency sir Richard Fanshawe during his embassy in Spain and Portugal; which, together with divers letters and answers from the chief ministers of state in England, Spain, and Portugal, contain the whole negotiation, of the treaty of peace between those three crowns." The publisher received these letters from the hands of a daughter of sir Richard, who had then, in her possession. He also composed other things, remaining in manuscript, which he wrote in his younger years, but had not the leisure to complete. Even some of the preceding printed pieces have not all the perfection which our ingenious author could have given them: for, as his biographer observes, "being, for his loyalty and zeal to his master's service, tossed from place to place, and from country to country, during the unsettled times of our anarchy, some of his manuscripts falling by misfortune into unskilful hands, were printed and published without his consent or knowledge, and before lie could give them his last finishing strokes." But that was not the case with his translation of "II Pastor Fido," which was published by himself, and procured him much reputation.
His lady, by whom he had six sons and eight daughters, of whom one son and four daughters survived him, was the daughter of sir John Harrison by Margaret his wife, daughter of Robert Fanshawe, of Fanshawe-gate, esq. great uncle to sir Richard, to whom she was married in Wolvercot church, near Oxford, May 18, 1644. She compiled, for the use of her only son, "Memoirs of the Fanshawe Family," containing a particular account of their sufferings in the royal cause, in which she and her sister Margaret Harison (who in 1654 married sir Edmund Turnor, of Stoke-Rochford, co. Lincoln, knt.) bore a considerable share, being the constant companions of sir Richard in those perilous times. The description of her and her husband's taking leave of Charles I. when he was a prisoner at Hampton-court, is a very affecting specimen of these Memoirs, and is told with great simplicity. "During the king's stay at Hampton-court, I went three times to pay my duty to him, both as I was the daughter of his servant, and the wife of his servant; the last time I ever saw him I could not refrain from weeping. When I took my leave of the king, he saluted me, and I prayed God to preserve his majesty with long life and happy years. The king stroked me on the cheek, and said, 'Child, if God pleaseth it shall be so, but both you and I must submit to God's will; and you know in what hands I am in.' Then turning to my husband, he said, 'Be sure, Dick, to tell my son all that I have said, and deliver these letters to my wife. Pray God bless her; and I hope I shall do well.' Then taking my husband in his arms, he said, 'Thou hast ever been an honest man; I hope God will bless thee, and make thee a happy servant to my son, whom I have charged in my letter to continue his love and trust to you;' adding, 'And I do promise you, if I am ever restored to my dignity, I will bountifully reward you both for your services and sufferings.' — Thus did we part from that glorious sun, that within a few months afterwards was extinguished, to the grief of all Christians, who are not forsaken of their God."
These memoirs, from the variety of interesting matter they contain, might, if they were published, prove an acceptable present to the public. The excellent writer of them was no less distinguished for her strength of mind and courage than for her piety and virtue. When the vessel that carried her from Ireland to Spain was attacked, she put on men's clothes, and fought with the sailors. In the second volume of Mr. Seward's "Anecdotes" are many other curious extracts from lady Fanshawe's Memoirs.