Higgons, Sir Thomas

, son of Dr. Thomas Hi?gons, some time rector of Westburgh in Shropshire, was born in 1624, in that county became a commoner of St. Alban’s-hall in the beginning of 1638, when he was put under the tuition of Mr. Edward Corbet, fellow of Merton college, and lodged in the chamber under him in that house. Leaving the university without a degree, he retired to his native country. He married the widow of Robert earl of Essex; and delivered an oration at her funeral, Sept. 16, 1656. “Oratione funebri, a marito ipso, more prisco laudata fuit,” is part of this lady’s epitapii. He married, secondly, Bridget, daughter of sir Devil Greenvili of Stow, and sister to John earl of Bath and removed to Grewell in Hampshire was elected a burgess for Malmsbury in 16.38, and for New Windsor in 1661. His services to the crown were rewarded with a pension of 500l. a year, and gifts to the amount of 4000l.*

*

King Charles II. sold Dunkirk to Louis XIV. and gave him English oak enough to build the very fleet that afterwards attacked and defeated one of ours in Bantry Bay on the coast of Ireland. This puts me in mind of the foresight of a gentleman, who had been some time envoy from the king to the princes and states of Italy, and who, in his return home, made the coast of France his road; in order to be as useful to his country as possible, and to his sovereign too, as he thought. In his audience of the kin;, he told his majesty, that the French were hard at work, building men of war in several of their ports, and that such a hasty increase of the naval power of France could not but threaten England’s sovereignty of the seas, and consequently portend destruction to her trade. The gentleman was in the right, for our trade and sovereignty of the seas are dependent on each other; they must live or die together. But what a recompeiise d you think he met with for his fidelity really such a one as I would hardly have believed, had I been told of it by any person but his own sou, the late Mr. Bevil Higgons, whose works, both in prose and verse, have made hrm known to all the men of letters in Britain, and whose attachment to the family of Stuart, evet to his dying day, puts his veraciiy in this point out of dispute. The recompense was a severe reprimand from the king, as the forerunner to the laying him aside, fur talking of things which his majesty told him it was not his business to meddle with.” I forget (says Mr. Nichols) from which of the political writers between 1730 and 1740 this anecdote was transcribed; most probably “The Craftsman.

He was afterwards knighted and in 1669, was sent envoy extraordinary to invest John George duke of Saxony with the order of the garter. About four years after, he was sent envoy to Vienna, where he continued three years. In 1685 he was elected burgess for St. Germain’s, “being then,” says Wood, “accounted | a loyal and accomplished person, and a great lover of the tegular clergy.” He died suddenly, of an apoplexy, in the King’s-bench court, having been summoned there as a witnt’ss, Nov. 24, 1691; and was buried in Winchester caihedral near the relics of his first wife. His literary productions are, 1. “A Panegyric to the King,1660, folio. 2. “The Funeral Oration on his first Lady,” Iff56. 3. “The History of Isoof Bassa,1684. He also translated into English, “The Venetian Triumph;” for which he was complimented by Waller, in his poems; who has also addressed a poem to Mrs. Higgons. Mr. Granger, who styles sir Thomasa gentleman of great merit,” was favoured by the duchess dowager of Portland with a ms copy of his Oration; and concludes, from the great scarcity of that pamphlet, that “the copies of it were, for certain reasons, industriously collected and destroyed, though few pieces of this kind have less deserved to perish. The countess of Essex had a greatness of mind which enabled her to bear the whole weight of infamy which was thrown upon her; but it was, nevertheless, attended with a delicacy and sensibility of honour which poisoned all her enjoyments. Mr. Higgons had said much, and I think much to the purpose, in her vindication; and was himself fully convinced from the tenor of her life, and the words which she spoke at the awful close of it, that she was perfectly innocent. In reading this interesting oration, I fancied myself standing by the grave of injured innocence and beauty; was sensibly touched with the pious affection of the tenderest and best of husbands doing public and solemn justice to an amiable and worthy woman, who had been grossly and publicly defamed. Nor could I withhold the tribute of a tear; a tribute which, I am confident, was paid at her interment by every one who loved virtue, and was not destitute of the feelings of humanity. This is what I immediately wrote upon reading the oration. If I am wrong in my opinion, the benevolent reader, I am sure, will forgive me. It is not the first time that my heart has got the better of my judgment.” “I am not afraid,” Mr. Nichols adds, “of being censured for having transcribed this beautiful passage.1
1

Nichols’s Poems. see Index. —Ath. Ox. vol. II.