Wake, Isaac

, a learned politician, was the son of Arthur Wake, rector of Billing, in Northamptonshire, master of the hospital of St. John at Northampton, and canon of Christ Church; and was born, it is supposed, at Billing, about 1575. He became a member of the university of Oxford in 1593, and in 1598 was elected probationer-fellow of Merton college. In 1604 he was chosen public orator, and in that capacity had frequent opportunities, sometimes before the king and court at their visits to the university, of delivering speeches in a pure and eloquent style. In 1609 he travelled in France and Italy, and after his return was made private secretary to sir Dudley Carleton, one of the chief secretaries of state, and discovering, in this situation, talents which might qualify him for diplomatic commissions, his majesty (James I.) employed him as ambassador to Venice, Savoy, and other courts. Previous to his setting out for Savoy in 1619, he received the order of knighthood. In 1625 he sat as member of parliament for the university of Oxford, and his speeches added considerably to his reputation. His accomplishments likewise, both as a scholar and a gentleman, were greatly admired. He died in 1632, while at Paris, in the service of Charles I. and his body being brought to England, was interred in the chapel at Dover castle. His funeral, which was very magnificent, was expressly at the charge of the king, who had intended him for the place of secretary of state had he lived.

His most celebrated work was his “Rex Platonicus, sive de potentiss. principis Jacobi regis ad Acad. Oxon. adventu, anno 1605,” Oxon. 1607, 4to, of which courtly publication there were at least six editions. There is a passage in this work from which Shakspeare is conjectured to have | derived the plot of his “Macbeth.” Sir Isaac’s other works are, 1. “Oratio funebris habita in Templo B. Mariae Oxon. quum mo2sti Oxonienses, piis manibus Johannis Rainoldi parentarent,” Oxon. 1608, 12mo, translated by Fuller in his “Abel Redivivus.” 2. Another on sir Thomas Bodley, priated by Bates in his “Vitse selectorum aliquot virorum,” &c. 3. “Discourse of the Thirteen Cantons of the Helvetical league,” Lond. 1655, 8vo, with two others on Italy and Sweden, under the general title of a “Threefold help to political observations.” He left some Mss. and there are several of his letters in the “Cabala,” and in the Harleian collection. 1


Ath. Ox. vol. 1. new edit. Fuller’s and Lloyd’s Worthies. See notes at the end of Johnson and Steevens’s edition of Shakspeare’s Macbeth.