Matthew, Tobias

, eldest son of the preceding, and a very singular character, was born at Oxford, in 1578, while his tather was dean of Christ church; and matricuJated in 1589, when only eleven years of age. He was the year after admitted student, and by the advantage of quick parts, and a good tutor, he soon acquired considerable distinction as an orator and disputant. After taking his degrees in arts, he left England in 1605, for such improvement as travelling could confer, and made himself a master of some foreign languages. This journey, however, was much against his father’s inclination, who expressly forbade his going to Italy, suspecting probably what happened when he broke his word and went to that country, where he was converted to popery by the celebrated Jesuit Parsons, to the great grief of his father, who was theu in so distinguished a station in the church. He himself informs us that the first impressions made upon him arose from the devout behaviour of the rustics in the churches abroad, and from being convinced of the reality of the liquefaction of the blood of St. Januarius at Naples; but that his complete conversion was reserved for father Parsons, who gave him to read Mr. William Reynolds’ s “Reprehension of Dr. Whitaker,” which he esteemed the most valuable work on wit and humour he had ever seen. It affords, however, no very favourable idea of Mr. Matthew’s conversion, that it was begun by an imposture, and perfected by wit and humour.

In 1606 he returned to London, and wrote to sir Francis Bacon, a kinsman, friend, and servant of secretary Cecil, desiring him to acquaint the secretary of his conversion, and to assure him at the same time of his loyalty to the king. This intelligence, he tells us, was graciouslyaccepted by the secretary, and no harm threatened him | from that quarter. He then waited on archbishop Bancroft, to make his apology for changing his religion, and to request his grace’s interference with his friends. The archbishop received him courteously, but blamed him for so sudden a change without hearing both sides, and appointed certain days when he should come to Lambeth and canvass the matter. Several interviews accordingly took place, in all which Mr. Matthew would have us believe he held the better argument. At length the archbishop, by the king’s order, tendered him the oath of allegiance; and, upon Matthew’s refusal, committed him to the Fleet prison. Here he remained six months, visited by several people of rank: bishop Morton, sir Maurice Berkeley, sir Edwin Sandys, sir Henry Goodyear, &c. &c. Some of these endeavoured to argue with him, but, according to his own account, he was able to answer them. The plague raging in London, his friend sir Francis Bacon procured him a temporary release; and some time after he was finally released, on condition of going abroad, and not returning without the king’s leave. Such is his own account. Mr. Lodge adds another circumstance, that he was a member of parliament, and that the House of Commons silentlyacquiesced in a precedent (his banishment) so dangerous to their privileges. Be this as it may, he went abroad, and remained on the continent about twelve years. When in France he became acquainted with Villiers, afterwards duke of Buckingham, who, when he came into favour with king James, obtained leave for Mr. Matthew to return to England, which he did in 1617; and in 1622, by the king’s command, followed prince Charles into Spain. On their return, he was received into full favpur with the king, who, he adds, “managed his parents also to forgive him, and to take proper notice of him. They rather chose,” he says, “to attack me with sighs and short wishes, and by putting now and then some books into my hands, rather than by long discourses.” Yet these efforts of paternal affection appear to have had no effect on him.

In 1623, the king conferred the honour of knighthood upon him, and he was frequently and always favourably received at court. In Charles I.'s reign he was invited by the earl of Strafford, when appointed lord lieutenant of Ireland, to accompany him thither, which gave just alarm to some of the council, who probably suspected that his | insinuating manners were a cloak to hide his zeal for the advancement of the Romish church in England. Wood, who speaks more favourably of him than he deserves, doubts his being in holy orders; but Dodd, an unquestionable authority in this point, mentions the attestations of various persons who had heard him say mass; and there seems every reason to suppose that he was a spy from the church of Rome. His character being probably understood in this light, when the rebellion broke out he left his country, and joined the Jesuits at Ghent, where he died Oct. 13, 1655.

Although politics were his favourite pursuit in England, he affected the reputation of a man of universal genius, and certainly possessed many accomplishments. In his lighter hours he was a poet, a painter, and a man of gallantry. Lord Orford informs us that he made a portrait of the Infanta; and the famous character of Lucy Percy, countess of Carlisle, inserted by Fenton in his notes on Waller, was the production of his pen, and printed first in his volume of “Letters.” His excellent constitution required but few hours sleep, which he frequently took in a great chair, and rising by break of day, he used to dip his head in cold water. He was then fresh as the morning, and in spirits to write panegyrics upon lady Carlisle, or to pursue whatever else was started by his volatile genius. He was often, adds Granger, a spy upon such companies as he was admitted into upon the footing of an agreeable companion; and with the most vacant countenance would watch for intelligence to send to Rome. He affected much to whisper in public, and often pretended to disclose, when he was only attempting to obtain secret intelligence.

His published works are, 1. “The Life of St. Teresa,1623, 8vo. 2. “St. Augustine’s Confessions,” translated, 1624, 8vo. 3. “The Penitent Banduto, or the History of the Conversion and Death of the most illustrious Lord Signor Troilo Savelli, a baron of Rome,1625, 1663, 8vo. 4. “A collection of Letters made by sir Tobie Matthews, kt. with a character of Lucy, countess of Carlisle,” Lond. 1660, 8vo. These were properly made by sir Tobie, as many of them appear fictions; but others are real and curious. There are also some of his letters in the “Cabala” and the “Scrinia Sacra.” The following are attributed to him, but probably not printed: “A Cabinet of Rich Jewels;| Benefit of Washing the Head every Morning;“”The History of the Times," left imperfect. 1


Ath, Ox. Tol. II. Dodd’s Ch. Hist. Granger. Lodge’s Illustrations. ms account of his conversion, written by himself, from which Dr. Lort made Some extracts, now in the editor’s possession.