[Historical Works Contents – Original]
THIS Kinges charecter is much easier to take then his picture, for he could euer be hardlie made to sitt for the taking of that, wich is the reasone of so few good peeces of him; bot his charecter was obvious to eurey eye.
He was of a midle stature, more corpulent throghe his clothes then in his bodey, zet fatt enouch; his clothes euer being made large and easie, the doubletts quilted for steletto proofe, his breeches in grate pleits, and full stuffed. He was naturally of a timorous dispositione, wich was the gratest reasone of his quilted doubletts. His eyes large, euer roulling after aney stranger cam in his presence, in so much as maney for shame haue left the roome, as being out of countenance. His beard was werey thin; his toung too large for his mouthe, vich euer made him speake full in the mouthe, and made him drinke werey vncomlie, as if eatting his drinke, wich cam out into the cupe in eache syde of his mouthe. His skin vas als softe as tafta sarsnet, wich felt so becausse he neuer washt his hands, onlie rubb’d his fingers ends slightly vith the vett end of a napkin. His legs wer verey weake, hauing had (as was thought) some foule play in his youthe, or rather befor he was borne, that he was not able to stand at seuin zeires of age; that weaknes made him euer leaning one other mens shoulders. His walke was euer circular, his fingers euer in that valke fidling about his cod peece. He vas werey temperate in his exercisses, and in his dyet, and not intemperat in his drinking; howeuer in his old age, and Buckinghames ioviall suppers, quhen he had aney turne to doe with him, made him sometimes ouertakin, wich he vold the verey nixt day remember, and repent vith teares. It is trew he dranke werey often, vich was rather out of a custome then aney delight; and his drinkes wer of that kynd for strenth, as Frontiniack, Canarey, Heigh Countrey wyne, tent and strong ale, that had he not had a werey strong braine, might haue daylie beine ouertakin, altho he seldome dranke at aney one tyme aboue foure spoonfulls, maney tymes not aboue one or tuo. He was werey constant in all thinges, (his fauorites excepted,) in vich he loued change; zet neuer cast doune aney (he once raissed) from the height of gratness, thoughe ther vounted neirnesse and priuacey, wnlesse by ther auen default, by opposing his change, as in Somersets case; zet had he not beine in that foule poysoning bussines, and so cast doune himselue, I doe werelie belieue, not him nather; for all his other fauoritts he lefte grate in honor, grate in fortoune, and did muche loue Mountgomerey, and trusted him more at the werey last gaspe, then at the first minut of his fauoritschipe. In his dyet, apparrell and iorneys, he was verey constant. In his apparrell so constant, as by his good vill he wold neuer change his clothes, till almost vorne out to ragges; his fashon neuer; in so much as one bringing to him a hat of a spanish block, he cast it from him, suearing he nather loued them nor ther fashions. Ane other tyme, bringing him roses one his shooes, he asked if they wold make him a ruffe footed doue, one zard of sexpenney ribbond serued that turne. His dyet and iournies was so constant, that the best obseruing courtier of our time was wount to say, Wer he asleepe seuin zeires, and then awakned, he vold tell quher the King eurey day had beine, and eurey dish he had had one his table.
He vas not verey vxorious, (though he had a werey braue Queen) that neuer crossed his desainges, nor intermedled with stait affaires; bot euer complayed with him, (euen aganist the natur of aney bot of a milde spirite). In the change of fauorittes, he was euer best quhen furthest from his Queen; and that was thought to be the first grounds of his often remoues, vich afterwards proued habituall. He was vnfortunate in the marriage of his daughter, and so was all christindome besydes; bot sure the daughter was more vnfortunat in a father, then he in a daughter. He naturally loued not the sight of a souldier, nor of aney valiant man; and it was ane obseruatione, that Sr Robert Mansell vas the onlie valiant man he euer loued; and him he loued so inteirly, that for all Buckinghames gratnesse with the King, and his hattred of Sr Robert Mansell, zet could not that alienat the Kinges affections from him; in so much as quhen, by the instigatione of Cottington, (then ambassador in Spaine) by Buckinghams procurement, the Spanishe ambassador came with a grate complaint aganist Sr Robert Mansell, then at Argiers to suppresse the pyratts; that he did support them; hauing neuer a frind ther (thoughe maney) that durst speake in his defence, the King himselue defendit him in thesse wordes:- My Lord Embassador, I cannot beleeue this, for I made choysse my selffe of him, out of thesse reasons; I know him to be valiant, honest, and noblie discendit, as most in my kingdome; and will neuer beleeue a man thus qualified vill doe so basse an acte. He naturally loued honest men, that wer not ouer actiue; zet neuer loued any man hartily, wntill he had bound him wnto him, by giuing him some suite, wich he thought bond the others loue to him againe. Bot that argued no generous disposition in him, to beleeue that aney thing bot a noble mynd, seasoned with verteue, could make aney firme loue or vnion; for mercenarey mindes ar carried away vith a grater prize, bot noble mindes alienated vith nothing bot publick disgraces.
He was werey witty, and had als maney redey vitty iests as aney man liuinge, at vich he wold not smyle himselffe, bot deliuer them in a graue and serious maner. He was verey liberall of quhat he had not in his auen gripe, and volde rather pairt with 100 lib. he neuer had in his keeping, then one 20 shiling peece within his auen custodey. He spent much, and had much vsse of his subiects purses, wich bred some clashings with them in the parliament, zet wold alwayes come offe, and end with a sweett and plausable close; and treulie his bountey was not discommendable, for his raising fauoritts was the worst; rewarding olde seruants, and reteining his natiue countrymen, was infinitly more to be commended in him then condemned. His sending embassadors wer no lesse chargeable then dishonorable and vnprofitable to him and his whole kingdome; for he was euer abussed in all negotiations; zet he had rather spend one hundereth thousand pound one embassies, to keepe or procure peace with dishonor, then ten thousand pound one ane armey that wold haue forced peace with honor. He loued good lawes, and had maney made in his tyme; and in his last parliament, for the good of his subiects, and suppressing promotters and progging fellowes, gaue way to that Nullum Tempus, &c. to be confinned to sexty zeires, wich was more beneficiall to the subiects in respecte of ther quiets, hen all the parliaments had giuen him during his quhole reign.
By his frequenting sermons, he appeared religious; zet his Tuesday sermons (if ze will beleeue his auen countreymen, that lived in thesse tymes quhen they wer erected, and well wnderstood the causse of erecting them) wer dedicated for a strange peece of deuotione.
He wold make a grate deall too bold with God in his passion, both in cursing and suearing, and one straine higher, vergeing one blasphemie; bot wold in his better temper say, he hopped God wold not impute them as sins, and lay them to his charge, seeing they proceided from passione. He had need of grate assurance, rather then hopes, that wold make daylie so bold with God.
He was werey crafty and cunning in pettey thinges, as the circumventinge aney grate man, the change of a fauorite, &c.; in so much, as a werey wise man was wount to say, he beleeued him the wisest foole in Christendome, meaning him wisse in small thinges, bot a foole in weighty affaires.
He euer desired to prefer meane men in grate places, that quhen he turnid them oute againe, they should haue no frind to bandy with them; and besydes, they wer so haitted, by being raissed from a mean estaite to ouertope all men, that eurey one held it a pretty recreation to haue them often turnid oute. Ther wer liuing in this Kings time at one instant, tuo Treasures, three Secretaries, tuo Lord Keepers, tuo Admiralles, three Lord Cheiffe Iustices, zet bot one in play. Therfor this King had a prettey faculty in putting out and in. By this you may perceaue in quhat his wisdome consisted; bot in grate and weighty affaires at his witts end.
He had a tricke to cousin himselffe with bargains vnderhand, by taking 1000 lib. ore 10,000 lib. as a bribe, quhen his counsell was traitting with his customers, to raisse them to so much more zeirly; this went into his priuy pursse, quherin he thought he had ouer reached the Lords, bot cousind himselffe; bot wold als easily breake the bargaine ypon the nixt offer, saying he was mistakin and deceaued; and therfor no reasone he should keepe the bargaine. This was often the caisse with the fermers of the customes. He was infinitly inclined to peace, bot more out of feare then conscience, and this was the gratest blemishe this King had through all his reign, otherwayes might haue beine ranked with the werey best of our Kinges; zet some tymes wold he shew pretty flashes of valour, wich might eassily decerned to be forced, not naturall; and being forced, could haue wished rather it wold haue recoiled back into himselffe, then carryed to that King it had concerned, least he might haue beine putt to the trayell, to manteine his seeiming valour.
In a word, he was, take him altogether, (and not in peeces) suche a King, I wishe this kingdome haue neuer aney worsse, one the condition not aney better; for he liued in peace, deyed in peace, and lefte all his kingdomes in a peaceable conditione, with his auen motto:-
One thought on “K. Ja: the Sixth, his Charecter, pp.108-115.”