Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 28.djvu/116

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Howell
Howell
110

time. During 1622 he made a tour in France with a young friend, Richard Altham, son of Baron Altham, 'one of the hopefullest young men of this kingdom for parts and person.' At Poissy Howell endangered his health by close study, and on returning to London was attended by Dr. Harvey, the great physician.

Towards the end of 1622 Howell was sent to Spain on a special mission to obtain satisfaction for the seizure by the viceroy of Sardinia of a richly laden ship called the Vineyard, belonging to the Turkey company. Sir Charles Cornwallis and Lord Digby had already tried in vain to obtain redress, but Howell's importunate appeals to the Spanish ministers led to the appointment of a committee of investigation and to a declaration in favour of the English owners of the captured ship and merchandise. Howell visited Sardinia and induced the viceroy to offer compensation, but the viceroy proved insolvent, and Howell on his return to Madrid found the situation altered by the presence there of Prince Charles and Buckingham. Cottington, the prince's secretary, directed him to abstain from further action, and after the departure of the prince and his suite Olivarez made it plain that the Spanish government had no intention of aiding him. While the royal party was at Madrid Howell made the acquaintance of many of Prince Charles's retainers, including Sir Kenelm Digby and Endymion Porter, and wrote home spirited accounts of the prince's courtship of the infanta. Digby relates that Howell was accidentally wounded in the hand while in his society at Madrid, and that his `sympathetic powder' worked its first cure in Howell's case (A Late Discourse, 1658). Howell returned to England at the close of 1624 in company with Peter Wych, who was in charge of the prince's jewels. He made suit for employment to the all-powerful Duke of Buckingham, but his intimate relations (according to his own story) with Digby, earl of Bristol, Buckingham's enemy, ruined his prospects. A suggestion, which Howell ascribes to Lord Conway in 1626, that he should act as 'moving agent to the king' in Italy, came to nothing, because his demand for 100l. a quarter was deemed exorbitant. But he was in the same year appointed secretary to Emanuel, lord Scrope (afterwards Earl of Sunderland), who was then lord-president of the north. The office required his residence at York, and in March 1627 the influence of his chief led to his election as M.P. for Richmond, Yorkshire. Late in 1628 Wentworth succeeded Scrope as lord-president. Howell seems to have remained private secretary to the latter until Scrope's death in 1630, and lived for the time in comfort. In December 1628 Wentworth bestowed on him the reversion of the next attorney's place which should fall vacant at York; but when a vacancy occurred in 1629 Howell sold his interest and sent Wentworth (5 May 1629) an effusive letter of thanks (Strafford Letters, i. 50). In 1632 he accompanied, as secretary, the embassy of Robert Sidney, earl of Leicester, which was sent to the court of Denmark to condole with the king on the death of his mother, the queen-dowager. His official Latin speeches made, he tells us, an excellent impression, and he obtained some new privileges for the Eastland company. A short `diarium' of the mission by Howell is in Bodl. Libr. MS. Rawl. c. 354. In 1635 he forwarded many news-letters to Strafford from Westminster, and spent a few weeks in the same year at Orleans on the business of Secretary Windebank. Still destitute of regular employment, he crossed to Dublin in 1639, was well received by Strafford, the lord-deputy, was granted a reversion of a clerkship of the council, and was sent by Strafford on a political mission to Edinburgh and London.

In London the chief literary men were among his acquaintances. Ben Jonson was especially friendly with him, and in a letter dated from Westminster, 5 April 1636, Howell describes 'a solemn supper' given by Jonson, at which he and Carew were present. On Jonson's death in 1637 he sent an elegy to Duppa, who included it in his 'Jonsonus Virbius.' Lord Herbert of Cherbury and Sir Kenelm Digby were among his regular correspondents. In 1640 he began his own literary career with the publication of his 'maiden fancy,' a political allegory in prose dealing with events between 1603 and 1640, entitled 'Δενδρολογ: Dodona's Grove, or the Vocall Forest.' A 'key' was added, and with the second and third editions of 1644 and 1645 were issued two political tracts, 'Parables reflecting upon the Times,' and 'England's Teares.' A Latin version was published in 1646; a second part appeared in 1650. When, in the year of its first publication, Howell went on some diplomatic business to France, he carried with him a French translation which he had made of the book, and this, after revision by friends in Paris, was published there before he left in the same year. On 1 Jan. 1641-2 he presented to the king a printed poem entitled `The Vote, or a Poem presented to His Majesty for a New Year's Gift,' London, 4to, 1642, and shortly afterwards issued his entertaining `Instructions for Forreine Travel,' with a dedication in verse to Prince Charles. Accounts of France, Spain, and Italy are supplied, to which in a new