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Of Sir Anthony Welldon, the author of the following treatise, we know but little; and that little having been chiefly preserved by the industrious malice of those who wrote against him, is not entitled to unlimited credit. His native country was Kent, and his father was clerk of the kitchen, or held some such office in the household of Queen Elizabeth. Sir Anthony Welldon himself was preferred to be one of the clerks of the Board of Green Cloth. In this capacity, he attended James I. upon his visit to his ancient and original kingdom. But the fare of Scotland, even when amended for the presence of her native monarch, was but indifferently suited to the hereditary taste of Sir Anthony Welldon, educated, as it were, among the
flesh-pots of the English court; and he gave vent · to his contempt in a libel, in which the pride, poverty, and puritanism, but especially the bad cheer of Scotland, were ridiculed without mercy. This piece, which we have preserved in the beginning of volume second, he inadvertently wrapped up in a record of the Board of Green Cloth; which circumstance, together with the hand-writing, having ascertained the author, he was dismissed from his office; a severe punishment for writing a jeu d'esprit, which it does not appear he had any intention to make public.
. His dismissal, according to Wood, was mitigated by a present in money, and a pension. After the civil war broke out, Sir Anthony Welldon sided with the parliament, and was chairman of the Kentish committee for the sequestration of royalists. The time of his death is uncertain.
It is said, that after Welldon had composed the following treatise, he shewed it to a friend, who advised him not to publish it. It is inscribed to Lady Elizabeth Sidley, of Southfleet, daughter and heiress of the celebrated and learned Sir Henry Saville, and mother of -Sir Charles Sedley, the dramatic poet. From
the dedication, it appears not to have been the author's intention to make his reminiscences public. But after his death, the manuscript was, according to Sanderson the historian, stolen out of Lady Sidley's possession, and surreptitiously published. The second edition appeared in 1651, and has been used for this work. It is augmented with, I.“ The Court of King Charles, continued unto the Beginning of these Unhappy Times,” &c. ; II.“ Observations instead of a Character upon the King from his childhood ;" III.“ Certain Observations before Queen Elizabeth's Death.”
Although the anecdotes given in the following work cannot entirely be depended upon, yet posterity must consider them as written with a more impartial spirit than was admitted by the ardent loyalists of Welldon's own time. They are in part answered by the author of a subsequent tract, Aulicus Coquinaria ; but he leaves enough unconfuted to give Welldon's work considerable value, as a picture, though not an accurate one, of King James's court and character.
I here present you with an epitome of some secret passages, in the whole reign of one king, part of anothers: Of which, myself have been either an eare or eye witnesse, or from the testimony of such as have been authors or actors, therefore unquestionable truths.
It is the conception and birth of four dạies, with the help of some scattered papers, (as a midwife,) to bring them into the world.
Being, therefore, but an embryon, you cannot expect any perfect shape : But what it wants in that, you shall find in the most perfect form of undeniable truths.