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Anecdotes Of Prince Henry, The Son Of James I
by [?]

Prince Henry, the son of James I., whose premature death was lamented by the people, as well as by poets and historians, unquestionably would have proved an heroic and military character. Had he ascended the throne, the whole face of our history might have been changed; the days of Agincourt and Cressy had been revived, and Henry IX. had rivalled Henry V. It is remarkable that Prince Henry resembled that monarch in his features, as Ben Jonson has truly recorded, though in a complimentary verse, and as we may see by his picture, among the ancient English ones at Dulwich College. Merlin, in a masque by Jonson, addresses Prince Henry,

Yet rests that other thunderbolt of war,
Harry the Fifth; to whom in face you are
So like, as fate would have you so in worth.

A youth who perished in his eighteenth year has furnished the subject of a volume, which even the deficient animation of its writer has not deprived of attraction.[1] If the juvenile age of Prince Henry has proved such a theme for our admiration, we may be curious to learn what this extraordinary youth was even at an earlier period. Authentic anecdotes of children are rare; a child has seldom a biographer by his side. We have indeed been recently treated with “Anecdotes of Children,” in the “Practical Education” of the literary family of the Edgeworths; but we may presume that as Mr. Edgeworth delighted in pieces of curious machinery in his house, these automatic infants, poets, and metaphysicians, of whom afterwards we have heard no more, seem to have resembled other automata, moving without any native impulse.

Prince Henry, at a very early age, not exceeding five years, evinced a thoughtfulness of character, extraordinary in a child. Something in the formation of this early character may be attributed to the Countess of Mar. This lady had been the nurse of James I., and to her care the king intrusted the prince. She is described in a manuscript of the times, as “an ancient, virtuous, and severe lady, who was the prince’s governess from his cradle.” At the age of five years the prince was consigned to his tutor, Mr. (afterwards Sir) Adam Newton, a man of learning and capacity, whom the prince at length chose for his secretary. The severity of the old countess, and the strict discipline of his tutor, were not received without affection and reverence; although not at times without a shrewd excuse, or a turn of pleasantry, which latter faculty the princely boy seems to have possessed in a very high degree.

The prince early attracted the attention and excited the hopes of those who were about his person. A manuscript narrative has been preserved, which was written by one who tells us, that he was “an attendant upon the prince’s person since he was under the age of three years, having always diligently observed his disposition, behaviour, and speeches.”[2] It was at the earnest desire of Lord and Lady Lumley that the writer of these anecdotes drew up this relation. The manuscript is without date; but as Lord Lumley died in April, 1609, and leaving no heir, his library was then purchased for the prince, Henry could not have reached his fifteenth year; this manuscript was evidently composed earlier: so that the latest anecdotes could not have occurred beyond his thirteenth or fourteenth year,–a time of life when few children can furnish a curious miscellany about themselves.

The writer set down every little circumstance he considered worth noticing, as it occurred. I shall attempt a sort of arrangement of the most interesting, to show, by an unity of the facts, the characteristic touches of the mind and dispositions of the princely boy.

Prince Henry in his childhood rarely wept, and endured pain without a groan. When a boy wrestled with him in earnest, and threw him, he was not “seen to whine or weep at the hurt.” His sense of justice was early; for when his playmate the little Earl of Mar ill-treated one of his pages, Henry reproved his puerile friend: “I love you because you are my lord’s son and my cousin; but, if you be not better conditioned, I will love such an one better,” naming the child that had complained of him.