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as high esteem and reputation, as any judge that ever sat in Westminster Hall. He was a man acquainted with all sorts of learning, besides his knowledge in the law, in which he was exceeded by none; as will appear by the many judgments he gave, when on the bench, in the year-book of Henry VI. His character, in history, is that of pious, loyal, and learned; and he had the honour to be called the chief counsellor of the king. He was a great courtier, and yet a great lover of his country.”
The works of Fortescue, contain many facts relative to some of the darkest periods of our history, together with various notices, interesting to the antiquarian. There can be no doubt, therefore, that several of his MSS. which are still extant, may be printed with advantage.
These original letters, (as we are informed in the title-page,) were written during the reigns of Henry VI. Edward IV. and Richard III. by various persons of rank or consequence; and contain many curious anecdotes relative to that turbulent and bloody, but hitherto dark period of our history. They were published in 1787; and are all duplicates : for in order to prevent any repulsive effect to the reader, from their antique appearance, the original letter, in all the peculiarities of the ancient orthography, is given on one page, and on the opposite, is the same letter, in the modern spelling, except only such words as are now become obsolete. Agreeably to my plan, I shall extract only the modernized copy.
The Copy of a notable Letter, written by the Duke of
Suffolk*, to his Son t, giving him therein very good counsel.
My dear and only well beloved son, I beseech our Lord in Heaven, the maker of all the world, to bless you, and to send you ever grace to love him, and to dread him, to the which, as far as a father may charge his child, I both charge you, and pray you to set all your spirits and wits to do, and to know his holy laws and commandments, by the which ye shall, with his great mercy, pass all the great tempests and troubles of this wretched world.
* William de la Pole, duke of Suffolk, succeeded his brother Michael, slain at the battle of Agincourt, in 1415, as earl of Suffolk; he was prime minister and favorite of Henry VI. and queen Margaret; was created in 1443, 23d Henry VI. marquis ; and in 1448, 26th Henry VI. duke of Suffolk. He was banished by the king, at the instigation of the Commons, &c. and murdered on the sea, on the 2d of May, 1450, 28th Henry VI.
He married Alice, widow of Thomas de Montacute, earl of Salisbury, and daughter and heir of Thomas Chaucer, esq, of Ewelme, in Oxfordshire, and grand-daughter of Geoffrey Chaucer, the celebrated poet. :t John de la Pole (after his father's murder,) duke of Suffolk, &c. He married Elizabeth, daughter of Richard Plantagenet, duke of York, and sister of Edward IV. He died in 1491, 7th Henry VII. and was buried by his father at Wingfield, in Suffolk,
And that, also weetingly, ye do nothing for love nor dread of any earthly creature that should displease him. And whenever any frailty maketh you to fall, beseech his mercy soon to call you to him again with repentance, satisfaction, and contrition of your heart, never more in will to offend him.
Secondly, next him above all earthy things, to be · true liegeman in heart, in will, in thought, in deed, unto the king our greatest high and dread sovereign lord, to whom both ye and I be so much bound to ; charging you as father can and may, rather to die than to be the contrary, or to know any thing that were against the welfare* or prosperity of his most royal person, but as far as your body and life may stretch, ye live and die to defend it, and to let his highness have knowledge thereof in all the haste ye can.
Thirdly, in the same wise, I charge you, my dear son, alway as ye be bounden by the commandment of God, to do, to love, to worship, your lady and mother; and also that ye obey alway her commandments, and to believe her counsels and advices in all your works, the which dread not but shall be best and truest to you.
And if any other body would steer you to the con
* This very particular advice to his son, shows his fears for the king's personal safety at this time.
trary, to flee the counsel in any wise, for ye shall find it nought and evil.
Furthermore, as father may and can, I charge you in any wise to flee the company and counsel of proud men, of covetous men, and of flattering men, the more especially and mightily to withstand then, and not to draw nor to meddle with them, with all your might and power; and to draw to you and to your company, good and virtuous men, and such as be of good conversation, and of truth, and by them shall ye never be deceived nor repent you of.
Moreover, never follow your own wit in no wise, but in all your works, of such folks as I write of above, ask your advice and counsel, and doing thus, with the mercy of God, ye shall do right well, and live in right much worship, and in great heart's rest and ease.
And I will be to you as good lord and father as my heart can think.
And last of all, as heartily and as lovingly as ever father blessed his child in earth, I give you the blessing of our Lord and of me, which of his infinite mercy increase you in all virtue and good living; and that your blood may by his grace from kindred to kindred, multiply in this earth to his service, in such wise as after the departing from this wretched world here, ye and they may glorify him eternally amongst his angels in Heaven.
Vol. da i I.