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their purses, (gold and silver being a precious commodety in that climate, and would procure any thing,) and did procure suits, honours, and offices, to any that first came; of all which the king afterward extended his bounty, in so large and ample a manner, as procured his own impoverishment, to the pressure of his subjects, so far as set some distance between him and them, which his wisdom and king craft could not easily at all times reconcile.' . .
The first that came from the king to the lords in England, to give order for all
things necessary for the expediting his jourSir Roger ney towards England, was Sir Roger Aston, K. James an Englishman born, but had his breeding
wholly in Scotland, and had served the
* James, however, took the most ingenuous mode of stifling the complaints of his subjects, by acknowledge ing his own prodigality, and expressing a resolution (which he did not adhere to) of guarding against his propensities to liberality in future. See Somers'Tracts, last edition, vol. ii. p. 69.
* Sir Roger Aston was groom of the chamber to : James I., although here irreverently termed his barber..
king many years as his barber, an honest and free-hearted man, and of an ancient family, in Cheshire, but of no breeding answerable to his birth ; yet he was the only man ever imployed as a messenger from the king to Q. Elizabeth, as a letter-carrier only, which expressed their own intentions without any help from him, (besides the delivery ;) but even in that capacity was in very good esteem with her majesty, and received very royal rewards, which did inrich him, and gave him a better revenue than most gentlemen in Scotland; for the queen did find him as faithful to her as to his master, in which he shewed much wisdom, though of no breeding. In this his imployment, I must not pass over one pretty passage I have heard himself relate: That
He was natural son of John Aston, second son of Rich-
he did never come to deliver any letters from his master, but ever he was placed in the lobby, the hangings being turned him, where he might see the queen dancing to a little fiddle, which was to no other end, than that he should tell his master, by her youthful disposition, how likely he was to come to the possession of the crown he so much thirsted after; for you must understand, the wisest in that kingdom did believe the king should never enjoy this crown as long as there was an old wife in England, which they did believe we ever set up, as the other was dead. :
Sir Roger Aston presenting himself before the council, being but a plain untutored man, being asked, How he did, and courted by all the lords, lighted upon this happy reply: Even, my lords, like a poor man, wandering above forty years in a wilderness and barren soyl, and now arrived
at the Land of Promise. This man was afof the Bed- terward made Gentleman of the Bed-Cham
ber, Master of the Wardrobe, and invested
After made Gentleman
with such honours and offices as he was capable of, and that inabled him to live in a noble way during his life, and to leave his daughters great fortunes; but had you seen how the lords did vye courtesjes to this poor gentleman, striving who should ingross that commodity by the largest bounty, you could not but have condemned them of much baseness, (especially seeing, when, at this time, offices and great places of honor will not be accepted from that son,)' that the very barber of whose father was so much courted, but to speak a good word in their behalfs. Surely the times are much altered.
And now all preparation was made to meet the king at Yorke, that he might in that northern metropolis appear like a king of England, and take that state on him there, which was not known in Scotland; there met him all the lords of the council, and there did they all make court to the Scotchmen that were most in favor with the king, and there did the Scotch courtiers
• Charles I. . 11
lay the first foundation of their English fortunes ; the chief of them was Sir George Hewme,' a kind of favourite, but not such as after appeared with young faces and smooth chins, but one that, for his wisdom and gravity, had been in some secret councels with his master, which created that dearness between them; and the chief of those secrets was that of Gowries conspiracy, though that nation gave little credit to the story, but would speak both slightly and despitefully of it, and those of the wisest of that nation ; yet there was a weekly commemoration, by the Tuesday sermon, and an anniversary feast, as great as it was possible, for the king's preservation, ever on the fifth of August ; upon which day, as Sir John Ramsey, after Earl of Holdernes," for
* Sir George Hume was afterwards created Earl of Dunbar, and was the only able and sensible man whom James ever made an avowed favourite.
* Sir John Ramsey (not Sir George) was the first who came to the king's assistance while he struggled with Alexander Ruthven. He struck Ruthven twice with his dagger, (the king meanwhile exclaiming, “ Fie, strike low, he hath a doublet of proof;'') and having