A Brief Biographical Note:
Henry Wotton (1568-1639) was born in Kent and was the son of a country gentle man. He was educated at Winchester School and Oxford, where he went first to New College and then to Queen's College. He was a confidential agent and correspondent of the Earl of Essex, an eminent figure at the court of Queen Elizabeth. On his return to England, he was made one of Essex's secretaries and in 1594 he went to the Middle Temple to study law. Early in 1601, he fled from England on the failure of the revolt of Essex. In 1602, he made a romantic excursion under the false name, from Italy to Scotland where he was brought to the Scottish king, James VI, a report from Tuscany that there was a conspiracy to assassinate him. When James VI of Scotland succeeded to the English throne as James I of England, he showed his gratitude by knighting him immediately. Sir Henry Wotton served James as an ambassador for next twenty years at Venice. He defined an ambassador as 'an honest man sent to lie abroad for the good of his country.' He led an important mission in 1602, to the court of Emperor Ferdinand at Vienna to conduct negotiation on behalf of Jame's daughter, the Queen of Bohemia. Such experience favored him to compose his loveliest poem "On His Mistress, the Queen of Bohemia". After retiring from foreign service, he was installed as provost of Eton College. King James never forgot his loyalty to himself and his daughter and gave him a generous pension in 1627 which was more than doubled three years later. The last fifteen years of Wotton's life formed a tranquil close to his eventful career, that of a truly distinguished diplomat, scholar and poet.
The Various Aspects of a Happy Life:
The Character of a happy life is deeply a religious poem by spirit. It concerns with the life and virtue of a good man. According to him, it is a happy man who gets birth in this world and it is more brilliant that he is taught here the knowledge based on selfishnessless, honesty, truthfulness and simplicity. All defends him from worldly filths and brightens his spirituality. Such teaching eradicates vanity and his existence feels him happy in his work.
The happy man never makes passions his masters. They will make him subordinate to his wills because they are concerned with mundane fame. Such passions expand his reputation in society and the inhabitants start secret talking about him. The honest man is eminent from all spiritual characters and does not worry of such public fame or secret talking. His existence never makes this world center but his inclination is to spirituality and this world is for time being. So his soul always remembers death and is prepared for it. It means that his virtual being is ready to welcome it because happy man knows it and is united. His passage is different and directs him to lords abode
The virtuous man or man of happy life is true and simple. His inner being or existence that is pure like a newly born baby. He never churns contempt for those whom chance favors. He is spiritually frank because he is not ambitious man. In the abode of simplicity and truthfulness, vice is not allowed. He is under the arch of love, virtue, simplicity and honesty where as vice never comes on such track. In such lovely life, praise is a great deception and is a mean of bringing vanity that makes great wounds in his spirit and physique. Such man has no will to rule over men but to rule over good.
In his poem, the virtuous man is happy not only in the promise of a heavenly reward but also in the enjoyment of a serene life of virtue in this world. His life is quite unusual and free from rumors. Rumor inflicts and annoys man kind. It brings restlessness and makes happy life noisy. His conscience is not weak but strong having an unfalling determination. In such state, cpnpiarcy and flattery never makes efforts to disturb or raises chance to upset him. So flatterers flee a way from his honest state. Not only this but also even oppressors never dare to ruin his glorious state.
There is likeness between this poem and Compion's The Man of Life Up Right. Both are concerned with the life and virtue of a good man. The honest or happy man is always satisfied and bows before God for His grace. He never acts like a selfish person. He is satisfied and thankful to Almighty Allah. When a person is completely devoted to God, the harmful days never appear. He enjoys all days with great spirit and love in the company of a religious book. The honest man accompanies great things based on spiritual directions and truthfulness, how his life can be miseable.
In last stanza, the poet jumps to conclusion that such man is free from slavery. He runs on virtuous and honest tracks never be exploded or derailed. All his hopes and fears are tied with it. He rules over him self but has no hope to rule the land. His happy life is waived with all good things, So it is his property that makes him glorious in this world as well as in the life here after.