A Short Biographical Dictionary of English Literature/Wotton, Sir Henry

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Wotton, Sir Henry (1568-1639).—Diplomatist and poet, s. of a Kentish gentleman, was b. at Boughton Park, near Maidstone, and ed. at Winchester and Oxf. After spending 7 years on the Continent, he entered the Middle Temple. In 1595 he became sec. to the Earl of Essex, who employed him abroad, and while at Venice he wrote The State of Christendom or a Most Exact and Curious Discovery of many Secret Passages and Hidden Mysteries of the Times, which was not, however, printed until 1657. Afterwards he held various diplomatic appointments, but Court favour latterly failed him and he was recalled from Venice and made Provost of Eton in 1624, to qualify himself for which he took deacon's orders. Among his other works were Elements of Architecture (1624) and A Survey of Education. His writings in prose and verse were pub. in 1651 as Reliquiæ Wottonianæ. His poems include two which are familiar to all readers of Elizabethan verse, The Character of a Happy Life, "How happy is he born and taught," and On his Mistress, the Queen of Bohemia, beginning "Ye meaner Beauties of the Night." He was the originator of many witty sayings, which have come down.