1679 ca.
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Carolina Threnodia.

Memoirs of the Two Last Years of the Reign of that unparallell'd Prince, of ever blessed Memory, King Charles I. By Sir Tho. Herbert, Major Huntington, Col. Edw. Coke, and Mr. Hen. Firebrace. With the Character of that Blessed Martyr, By... John Diodati, Mr. Alexander Henderson, and the Author of the Princely-Pelican.

Sir Thomas Herbert


Sir Thomas Herbert reports that Edmund Spenser appears among the writers studied by Charles I in confinement at Carisbrook Castle. The MS. Carolina Threnodia was written about 1679 and published in 1702. Herbert was appointed by the authorities to attend the King during his last days; this episode was the climax to a particularly adventuresome seventeenth-century life.

Advertisement: "There having been of late years several Memoirs printed and published relating the lives and actions of the Royal Martyr, King Charles I. of ever blessed memory; it was judged a proper and seasonable time to publish Sir Thomas Herbert's Carolina Threnodia under the title of his Memoirs; there being contained in this book the most material passages of the two last years of the life of that excellent and unparallelled Prince, which were carefully observed and related by the author in a large answer of a letter wrote to him by Sir William Dugdale."

W. Davenport Adams: "Sir Thomas Herbert (b. 1610, d. 1682), wrote Threnodia Carolina, containing an historical account of the two last years of King Charles I., written in 1678, and first published in 1702. He is said to have assisted Dugdale in the Monasticon Anglicanum" Dictionary of English Literature (1878) 277.




This done, the Day following a Restraint began of the King's going any more abroad into the Isle of Wight, his Majesty being then confined to Carisbrook-Castle and Line without, albeit within the Works, a Place sufficiently large and convenient for the King's walking and having good Air, and a delightful Prospect both to the Sea and Land: and for his Majesty's Solace and Recreation, the Governour converted the Barbacan, (a spacious parading Ground within the Line, tho without the Castle) into a Bowling-green, scarce to be equalled, and at one side built a pretty Summer-House, for Retirement. At vacant hours these afforded the King most Recreation, for the Building within the Castle-Walls had no Gallery, nor Rooms of State, nor Garden, so as his Majesty, constantly in the Fore-noons, excerised himself in the Walks without, and in the Afternoons there also, and in the Bowling-green or Barbacan. Nevertheless both times he carefully observed this usual Times set apart for his Devotion and for Writing. Mr. Harrington and Mr. Herbert continued waiting on his Majesty in the Bedchamber: he gave Mr. Herbert the charge of his Books, of which the King had a Catalogue, and from time to time had brought unto him, such as he was pleased to call for. The sacred Scripture was the Book he most delighted in, read often in Bishop Andrews Sermons, Hooker's Ecclesiastical Polity, Dr. Hammond's Works, Villalpandus upon Ezekiel, &c. Sand's Paraphrase upon King David's Psalms, Herbert's divine Poems; and also Godrey of Bulloigne writ in Italian by Torquato Tasso, and done into English Heroick Verse by Mr. Fairfax, a Poem his Majesty much commended, as he did also Ariosto, by Sir John Harrington, a facetious Poet, much esteem'd of by Prince Henry his Master; Spencer's Fairy Queen and the like, for alleviating his Spirits after serious studies. And at this time it was (as is presumed) he compos'd his Book called Suspiria Regalia, publish'd soon after his Death, and entitled The King's Pourtraiture in his Solitudes and Sufferings, which Manuscript Mr. Herbert found amongst those Books his Majesty was pleased to give him (those excepted which he bequeathed to his Children, hereafter mentioned) in regard to Mr. Herbert, tho he did not see the King write that Book, his Majesty being always private when he writ, and those his Servants never coming into the Bed-chamber, when the King was private, until he called; yet comparing it with his Handwriting in other things, found it so very like, as induces his Belief that it was his own Handwriting, having seen much of the King's Writing before; and to instance Particulars, in that his Majesty's Translation of Dr. Saunderson, the late Bishop of Lincoln's Book de Juramentis, or like Title, concerning Oaths, all of it translated into English, and writ with his own Hand; and which, in his Bed-chamber, he was pleased to show his Servants Mr. Harrington and Mr. Herbert, and commanding them to examine it with the Original, they found it accurately translated; which his Majesty not long after shewed the Bp. of London Dr. Juxon, and also Dr. Hammond, and Dr. Sheldon, his Majesty's Chaplains in ordinary (which first and last were afterwards Archbishops of Canterbury) such time as they waited upon him at Newport in the Isle of Wight, during the Treaty. In many of his Books he delighted himself with the Motto Dum Spiro Spero; which he wrote frequently at the Emblem of his Hopes as well as Endeavours for a happy Agreement with his Parliament. A Harmony and good Accomodation he heartily desired, and a fair End to all Matters that made this unhappy Separation: mean time alleviating his Mind by an honourable and chearful Submission to the Almighty, who in his Wisdom orders and disposes all things according to his good Pleasure, and who, in all his Tryals during his disconsolate Condition, marvellously supported him with an unparallell'd Patience. In one of his Books he writ this Distich;

Rebus in adversis facile est contemnere vitam:
Fortiter ille facit qui miser esse potest.

And out of another Poet, against the Levelling and Anti-monarchick Spirits which predominated at that time:

Fallitur egregio quisquis sub Principe credit
Servitium; numquam Libertas gratior extat,
Quam sub Rege pio. —
Claudian.

With many others which are memorable, and express his Delight in Learning. For he understood Authors in the Originals, whether Greek, Latin, French, Spanish, or Italian, which three last he spoke perfectly; and none better read in Histories of all sorts, which render'd him accomplish'd, and also would discourse well in Arts and Science, and indeed not unfitted for any Subject.


[pp. 42-45]