Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 24.djvu/400
he spent a good deal of money in restoring and decorating in honour of the queen (Nichols, Progresses of Queen Elizabeth, ed. 1823, iii. 250). In the same year he was high sheriff of Somerset, and the rules for the management of his household may be read in 'Nugae Antiquae,' i. 105, &c. In 1596 he was again at court, where he published (under the pseudonym of Misacmos) a Rabelaisian satire entitled 'A New Discourse of a Stale subject, called the Metamorphosis of Ajax,' which was rapidly succeeded by three similar tracts, 'Ulysses upon Ajax' (under the pseudonym of Misodiaboles); 'An Anatomie of the Metamorphosed Ajax' (under the pseudonym of 'T. C. Traveller '), and 'An Apologie : 1. Or rather a Retractation; 2. Or rather a Recantation; 3. Or rather a Recapitulation ...; 12. Or rather none of them ' (anon.) It is enough to say that 'Ajax' is a euphemism for 'a jakes,' and that Harington throughout the series resembles Sterne at his worst no less in his curious and varied learning than in his indecency. It was not the indecency of the books but a suspected innuendo about the Earl of Leicester which drew on Harington the queen's anger (Nugae, i. 240). He was ordered to leave the court 'till he had grown sober,' and there was even a talk of summoning him before the Star-chamber. Ultimately a license was refused for printing the books, but not till the earliest volume had run through three editions in the year (Steevens, Shakespeare, ed. 1793, v. 354). In 1598 Harington was forgiven by Elizabeth, and was one of those who were chosen to accompany Robert Devereux, earl of Essex (1567-1601) [q.v.], on his ill-fated expedition to Ireland, where he served as commander of horse under the Earl of Southampton. A letter of his cousin, Robert Markham, giving him good advice before his departure, throws a lurid light upon the intrigues of Elizabeth's co art. Harington is told 'that damnable uncovered honesty of yours will mar your fortunes,' and is advised to 'obey the Lord Deputy in all things, but give not your opinion: it may be heard in England' (Nugae, i. 240-3). In Ireland Harington was knighted by Essex, a stretch of authority which greatly angered the queen. He took part in the expedition to Connaught, where he accompanied his cousin, Sir Griffin Markham. He afterwards, went with Essex on his expedition against Tyrone, and was chosen by Essex to go with him to London on his rapid journey, whereby he hoped to appease the queen's anger. When Harington entered the queen's chamber she said, 'What, did the fool bring you too? Go back to your business.' When he knelt before her she caught his girdle and swore 'By God's Son I am no queen : this man is above me.' Then she sternly bade Harington go home, and he went, he tells us, as if all the Irish rebels had been at his heels (ib. p. 356). Harington wrote a journal of Essex's proceedings in Ireland, perhaps a precautionary measure recommended by his friends. At all events he seems to have made his peace with the queen by putting it into her hands, with the result of inflaming her rage against Essex. 'She swore we were all idle knaves, and the Lord Deputy worse for wasting our time and her commands in such wise as my journal doth write of.' This Irish journal is printed in 'Nugae Antiquae,' i. 247-301. After thus saving himself he thought it wise to avoid any risk of 'shipwreck on the Essex coast.' 'Thank heaven,' he says, 'I am safe at home, and if I go into such troubles again I deserve the gallows for a meddling fool.'
In his retirement at Kelston Harington found an occupation in legacy-hunting. His wife's mother, Lady Rogers of Carrington, was old and infirm, and he was very anxious that she should disinherit her son in favour of her daughter. He had long pestered her with letters and epigrams for that purpose, and when she lay dying in January 1602, he went to the house at Carrington, broke open her chests, and endeavoured to take possession. After her death he refused possession to her son, Edward Rogers, and his outrageous conduct gave rise to a Star-chamber suit (Talbot Papers in Heralds' College, vol. M. 249), and Harington ran a risk of imprisonment. However, in December 1602 he was again at court, where he wrote an interesting account of the last days of Elizabeth. In preparation for this event he set himself to gain the favour of her probable successor, by sending the Scottish king a new-year's gift of a lantern, curiously constructed as a symbol of the waning light of Elizabeth and the full splendour that was to come. It bore a representation of the crucifixion, for the sake of the motto of the penitent thief, 'Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom.' At the same time he employed his pen in writing a 'Tract on the Succession to the Crown,' with the object of advocating James's claim. It argues in turn with protestants, puritans, and papists, and makes good the writer's case by appeals to authorities whom each class will recognise as above suspicion. Then it turns to a refutation of the plea advanced by Dolman (a pseudonym of Parsons) in fayour of the Infanta Isabella. But its interest lies not so much in its main argument as in the survey which it takes of the religious question in England from the point of view of a shrewd