George Sandys: Travel, Colonialism, and Tolerance in the Seventeenth Century

By James Ellison | Go to book overview

Appendix B

HAD SANDYS MET HUGO GROTIUS?

GROTIUS was a crucial influence on the men of Great Tew, as Hugh Trevor-Roper has shown, and Sandys's Grotius translation reflects their interest; but he may have had a more personal reason for turning to Grotius' work late in his career. In his commendatory poem to Christs Passion, Falkland appears to say that Sandys had actually met Grotius at some point in his career. In the poem Falkland addresses Grotius directly:

Though your acquaintance all of worth pursue, And count it honour to be known to you, I dare affirme your Catalogue does grace No one who better does deserve a place: None hath a larger heart, a fuller head, For he hath seen as much as you have read . . . 1

Falkland's poetry is never easy to decipher at the best of times, but here he appears to be saying that none of the many scholars who have sought out the acquaintance of Grotius deserves a place in his 'Catalogue' of acquaintance than George Sandys. 2 When could such a meeting have taken place? It was not unusual for travellers to seek out famous and learned men overseas and arrange an introduction: it is just conceivable that Sandys could have met Grotius on his foreign travels between 1610 and 1613. However it is more likely that he would have met Grotius on the latter's visit to England in 1613. This was as part of a Dutch mission to negotiate a settlement to the bitter disputes which had arisen between Dutch and English traders in the East Indies (although Grotius' true, unfulfiled goal on this trip was to persuade

____________________
1
Passion, sig.a[6]v.
2
Hugh Trevor-Roper has recently suggested that these lines imply Falkland himself had met Grotius; see From Counter-Reformation to Glorious Revolution (1993), p.82. In the line 'Though your acquaintance all of worth pursue', Falkland certainly could be referring both to Chillingworth's frustated desire to meet Grotius, and possibly to an actual meeting between himself and Grotius; the main part of the passage seems however to suggest that at some point George Sandys had met Grotius. 'Catalogue' at this period refers equally well to a list of men (liber amicorum which were often kept by educated men of the period) as to a list of books, and the former is the only sense which makes a good fit with these lines (I owe this point to James Knowles). Falkland uses the verb 'grace' in the seventeenth-century sense of 'name honourably', which Milton also used (OED).

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