Venice: December 1640

Pages 99-109

Calendar of State Papers Relating To English Affairs in the Archives of Venice, Volume 25, 1640-1642. Originally published by His Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1924.

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December 1640

Dec. 7.
Senato, Secreta. Deliberazioni. Corti. Venetian Archives.
132. To the Ambassador in England.
We enclose a copy of the reply given to the secretary of England in response to his office in the Collegio last week, to serve for your information and to use if provoked, always taking care to protest the most friendly disposition of the republic towards English merchants and sailors. Your letters of the 9th ult. arrived yesterday. We enclose an abstract of advices.
Ayes, 97. Noes, 1. Neutral, 4.
133. That the Secretary of England be summoned to the Collegio and that the following be read to him :
We regret that English captains and sailors have had reason to complain and by our express instructions the English nation is to receive the best possible treatment, on an equality with our own subjects, while we look for due respect and obedience on their part towards our ministers especially the Sanità, which is of the very highest importance. Within recent memory this Rugero Filipis, who is now in question, refused to obey the minister of the Sanità and actually threatened him with violence, while he broke seals and took out bales, thus infringing the laws and regulations of the Sanità.
With reference to the ship of Captain Benjamin Crandeli, we will give orders for this turn to the Podestà of Malamocco to have the goods restored that were taken from the chests of the sailors, although this is contrary to the laws.
That orders be sent to the Podestà of Malamocco to restore to Captain Benjamin Crandeli all the goods taken by the officers of Malamocco from the chests of the sailors in his ship.
Ayes, 97. Noes, 1. Neutral, 4.
Dec. 7.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Inghilterra. Venetian Archives.
134. Girolamo Agustino, Venetian Secretary in England, to the Doge and Senate.
After a few days' illness one of the sons of the ambassador has died of the small pox, and the elder one is in great danger from the same complaint. In the midst of this affliction his Excellency has contracted a fever, which keeps him in bed. Accordingly he has directed me to write of the few events of this week. My knowledge is also restricted by the necessity of all this household abstaining from communicating with the Court and with all others, as this disease is considered here on a par with the plague, since it attacks every age, two or three times.
The number of the Scottish commissioners has now been made up to eight by the arrival of the one who fell sick on the way. All together they have kissed the king's hand, who, under pressure of necessity, dissimulated his feelings at seeing them appear so proudly in his presence. He could not, however, so far prevail over himself as to give them a courteous welcome, with words calculated to win their affection or at least to moderate their rancour. Yet he gave orders that the house usually devoted to the reception of ambassadors extraordinary should be assigned to them, for the conferences which are to be held. He proposed himself to take part in them, but when he arrived at the first meeting he got scant satisfaction, and they declared that they would not treat with him, but with the appointed commissioners alone, asserting that this was in their instructions. For this reason other quarters away from the court have been provided. Meanwhile it is announced that they will receive every possible satisfaction from parliament, though it will not hasten the conclusion of the affair, careless of the expense of 25,000l. a month if they first see all the affairs of England satisfactorily adjusted with the support of their arms, summoned by the common voice for this end. The commissioners say that they bring a sealed box from Scotland to present in parliament. It is believed to contain charges and papers against some of the ministers and particularly against the Archbishop of Canterbury, wishing to have it believed that they have intercepted letters from him to the pope.
A madman, rather than a zealous Catholic, meeting in the lobby of parliament a minister who was taking to the Lower Chamber a note of the Catholics of his parish, gave him two wounds, from which he is in some danger. (fn. 1) The culprit was immediately arrested, but he will not pay the penalty with his life unless the wounded man dies, as the law does not exact this. All the same this act has caused a great stir among the parliamentarians. Some of them, to stir the hatred of those who are less violent against the Catholics, have used the incident as an indication of some attempt by them against the parliament assembled, and in this way to urge the formation of a guard of 300 musketeers. But the Upper House, would not lower themselves to fear or to encourage suspicion in this way. But it is certain that the imprudent action of this man will greatly increase the prejudice against the Catholic faith.
The City of London has presented a memorial to parliament in which they accuse as seducers of the people the Capuchin fathers, the pope's minister and three of the queen's principal servants. The authority of the accuser no less than the plausibility of the accusation make one fear that they will proceed in the matter. But the eagerness with which the parliamentarians are at present applying themselves to obtain a capital sentence against the Lieutenant of Ireland, holds all other business in suspense. Two days ago he was taken from his prison to the Tower, for greater security, by order of the Upper Chamber, before which the Lower brings its accusations. Those of Ireland are kept back, as they are expecting matter of importance thence, with the imprisonment of two of his councillors, since he enjoyed 180,000l. sterling a year in that kingdom for his private profit. Thus being well aware that the greatest harm might come to him from thence he himself had the ports of that kingdom closed, and no one could leave it without the permission of his viceregents. When the king heard of it, in order to forestall parliament and win its favour, he restored the liberty to all by public proclamation.
The Bishop of Lincoln, who was condemned to the Tower with the loss of all his dignities and revenues, because he wrote against the liturgy of the Archbishop of Canterbury, disapproving of all the ceremonies in the Anglican Church, and reducing it to Puritanism, has been solemnly released amid great approbation. And so time is spent in vindicating private spite rather than in a profitable economy, all idea of state policy being put aside.
London, the 7th December, 1640.
Dec. 10.
Collegio, Secreta. Esposizioni, Principi. Venetian Archives.
135. The Senate's decision of the 7th inst. having been read to the Secretary of England, he said, in substance :
English nation and merchants are under special obligations to your Serenity who loves them as your own subjects. The captains and sailors of English ships came to me to complain of ill treatment and extortion, and I was bound to make the representations contained in the paper which I presented. But if any of them has committed a transgression he deserves the severe punishment due, though I feel sure that your Serenity will take into consideration the fact that he has fallen into some error.
The doge replied : You know the special regard of the republic for your country. The Senate has decided what you have heard on the evidence obtained and the demands of the law. They have also decreed the restitution of the goods taken by the officials of Malamocco in that ship, without taking into consideration the question that they might be smuggled. This has all been done with the express desire to gratify the sailors and your nation.
The secretary made his bow, took leave and went out without asking for another copy of the decision.
Dec. 11.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Francia. Venetian Archives.
136. Anzolo Correr, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
The Cardinal has sent to inform the English ambassador that the ships taken by the Archbishop of Bordeaux, in the Mediterranean, will be restored ; but he is not satisfied with this and claims their cargoes as well, after deducting what belonged to Spaniards ; a difficult business which will involve many disputes.
Sciatu, the 11th December, 1640.
Dec. 14.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Inghilterra. Venetian Archives.
137. Giovanni Giustinian, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the Doge and Senate.
The Scottish deputies continue their negotiations for an accommodation and have produced in writing the articles which they claim to have granted which concern deeply the interests of the king. They ask in the first place that he will confirm all the decrees of the last parliament, revoking those which were made to please the late King James his father. To permit the expulsion of the bishops. The exile of the Catholics with the confiscation of all their goods. In the future they are to be allowed to summon parliament every three years or whenever it is found opportune, without asking fresh leave of His Majesty, as has been the practice in the past. For their own security the castle of Edinburgh is to remain in their custody with all the others of that kingdom. The fortifications recently added to the frontier towns of Berwick and Carlisle are to be completely dismantled. The Scots pretended guilty are to be handed over to them, to be punished in conformity with the laws of that crown, and as compensation for their losses 50,000l. a year for 15 years are to be assigned to them out of the royal revenues, with the payment afterwards of 4,800,000 ducats, one half down and the other within a term of two months, an impossible sum which indicates that the enemy has no sincere wish for peace.
The king reflected deeply upon these proposals, with reference rather to the troubled state of the time than to their importance. Flattered by vain hopes, also, of being able to separate the Scots from the English. He told them that if they desist from troubling his servants the Marquis Hamilton and the Treasurer, he will not be averse from granting what they ask, except the handing over of the fortresses, the destruction of the fortifications and the payment of the four millions. The deputies, on their part, while holding out hopes that as regards the Marquis and Treasurer they will leave nothing for His Majesty to desire, stand firm upon all the other demands, asking in addition that the agreement shall be ratified afterwards by the parliament of England. This point, owing to the serious consequences involved, the king is trying every means to evade. Thus the success of the negotiations is involved in inextricable difficulties and even if a conclusion is reached it can only be with grave hurt and loss of prestige to His Majesty.
Meanwhile from the things so far granted to the rebels the Catholics are very apprehensive, and all the bishops of this country are equally alarmed, lest this example may serve as a stimulus to England to demand the same and greater advantages. If this occurs, as everyone predicts, the most conspicuous ensigns of the monarchy will be extinguished in this kingdom also.
After parliament had sent to York 50,000l. for the payment of the army they sent members to ask His Majesty to dismiss from his forces all the Catholic officers and soldiers. He promptly consented to this and instead of the imprisoned Lieutenant of Ireland he has sent the Earl of Essex to command, an individual greatly beloved by the Puritans. The king has done it all with the idea of conciliating the affection of that party, but so far with little or no success, all his actions being interpreted as the result of necessity rather than of sincere inclination.
Nothing essential has yet been established by the parliamentarians and they have employed all this week in examining the state of religion, with the new rites introduced into the Anglican liturgy by the Archbishop of Canterbury. Accusation and outcry against him come in from every quarter. Three leading men of the Puritans, who were severely punished two years ago for having written and preached against the book sent by him to Scotland, (fn. 2) have had their grievances presented in parliament and have asked permission to come here to prosecute their accusations. They came on Saturday, accompanied by 3000 horse and met by a hundred coaches and a countless number of the common people, not without grave scandal to rightminded men and increased peril to the archbishop.
Parliament has even notified the queen that she must dismiss the numerous English Catholics in her service. Her Majesty, justly incensed at such an audacious demand, has replied, that if she is obliged to deprive herself of the Catholics she will dismiss the Protestants also, and provide herself elsewhere with people of her faith. This is all I have to report this week, my body being tortured by a fever and my heart by the fatal events which have not yet ceased in this House.
London, the 14th December, 1640.
Dec. 15.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Haya. Venetian Archives.
138. Girolamo Giustinian, Venetian Ambassador at the Hague, to the Doge and Senate.
On Wednesday the 12th inst. the Prince of Orange informed the States General that he had concluded a marriage alliance between the daughter of the king of England and his only son William. The States applauded this vociferously and all the Provinces united in offering their congratulations. But these demonstrations are all for show and no one believes that their heart is in them. They perceive only too well the consequences that will be involved by the alliance of the House of Orange with a crown and a country that is so near. The king's daughter is only 5 or 6 years of age, and it is his second, according to the report here ; while the Prince's son is fourteen. The Queen Mother was the first to make the overtures and to set this affair in motion. She brought the proposals here with her. The matter came afterwards into the hands of a certain Hemfelit, a person of base origin, who cherished and matured the design with the ministers of the king of England with the help of the gold of the Prince of Orange. The Princess Palatine has not had any share in the affair. The marriage was all concluded as long ago as last August, but kept secret until the present time by arrangement between both parties and for common reasons. The king of England imparted the news to the Princess Palatine last August in a letter to be sent to her, but the letter has been kept back until the other day. The princess is much displeased at such evidence of want of confidence.
The articles that are made known provide that an embassy shall be sent in the Prince's name to ask for the king's daughter. The Prince has already selected two of his cognates, and the choice of the States is expected soon. In March next the prince's son is to go to England to fetch his wife, who will be educated here until she is of marriageable age, in a separate house of the Prince of Orange. Nothing is said about the dowry, but if his son dies the Prince of Orange is bound to grant 100,000 florins a year to the widowed princess.
The arrangement of this marriage is not only entirely unexpected, but one may also say somewhat unseasonable, seeing the tender age of the parties, and it excites all sorts of comments. Everyone expresses his personal opinions and all presuppose secret arrangements, according to the nature of such an affair. It seems quite apparent that the Prince intends to erect the greatness of his House upon the foundations of the royal blood, whereby it may rise to greater heights. In the opinion of many, however, this marriage alliance is likely to excite jealousy in the powers, suspicion in the States and is in itself premature and unequal.
The Hague, the 15th December, 1640.
Dec. 21.
Collegio, Secreta. Esposizioni, Principi. Venetian Archives.
139. The Secretary of England came into the Collegio and said in substance :
At the instance of my king your Serenity was pleased to extend the leave of Colonel Douglas in England for another six months and also that he should receive his pay for that period and for the past. His Majesty has instructed me to express his warmest thanks for this act of generosity and promises the most perfect correspondence. I have now to add that although the Colonel has had the order for receiving payment of his salary due, it still lacks effect, the Depositario at the Mint stating that he had not the money to fulfil the order. Meanwhile the Colonel's wife and family are suffering and are in most urgent need. I therefore beseech your Serenity to order this payment which has been awaited so long.
The doge replied : We are glad to meet his Majesty's requests, for whom we shall always show our sincere friendship. Order will be given for the payment of the money. The Cashier of the Collegio added that he himself would tell the Depositario to pay. The secretary seemed satisfied and after saying that Douglas's poor wife and family were worthy of compassion, he made his bow and went out.
Dec. 21.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Inghilterra. Venetian Archives.
140. Giovanni Giustinian, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the Doge and Senate.
Although His Majesty has not relaxed his efforts to dispose the commissioners of Scotland to embrace the accommodation upon the conditions offered to them he has not hitherto succeeded in moving them from their original opinions. They assert steadily that they will never consent to any composition unless the articles given in writing are accepted in their entirety, and they will not dislodge from their quarters in England before all that is agreed has been punctually fulfilled. As the conclusion of the treaty is constantly delayed by these differences, they have mutually agreed to extend the armistice for another month, as it was nearing its term.
Meanwhile the Scottish Commissioners have proposed in parliament to unite the two crowns by a perpetual alliance, on the express condition that if one of the two kingdoms enters upon war with any prince soever the other shall be obliged to support it with all its forces. In order to justify the hardihood of such a proposal the commissioners are trying to make out that such a union was greatly desired and promoted by the late King James, for the common benefit, but that the keen rivalry which then existed between the two nations, and other respects, prevented its success. But His Majesty has not been convinced by this example, which both in motives and in terms was very different, has frowned upon the proposal and is trying with all his might to make it fall through, since it is known that the aim is to keep the king here in perpetual subjection, and may possibly cover even more far reaching designs, as is suspected, since fresh rebel reinforcements reach the army every day, without need.
The sessions of parliament continue without intermission, though they are proceeding with their deliberations very slowly so as to keep them a long time on foot. Their attention at present is devoted to the book of the past actions of the ministers of the Court, more than to anything else. The four judges who declared in judgment that the royal authority extended to laying any charge or impost so ever upon the people, have been called upon to defend themselves as violators of the laws of the realm and traitors to their country, and among them is the Lord Keeper, who is the first minister of the Crown.
The Secretary Windebank, after a thorough examination of his conscience, and certain that in the present state of affairs the protection of His Majesty was not sufficient to get him out of danger, has fled from the country, preferring to experience the rigours of justice from a distance rather than to implore in vain the clemency of his judges as a prisoner. To tell the truth these judges are guided by no other reason than an immoderate passion to remove from the king all his most confidential ministers. This flight took place with his Majesty's express consent, and the minister took letters in the queen's own hand. So far the king has not wished to dispose of his office, and seems disinclined to do so in the future, possibly with the intention, when parliament is over, of recalling him to favour if the state of affairs permits.
Meanwhile the Spanish ambassadors are much concerned at the loss of this minister, who was the one who vigorously supported the interests of their master at this Court more than any one else. That party is now completely overthrown.
On the pretext of clearing up better the crimes of the Lieutenant of Ireland the Lower Chamber, by decree of all the parliament, has directed the Councillors of State to appear at the tribunal of that Chamber to answer all that shall be asked of them, releasing them from the original oath of secrecy to His Majesty and compelling them to publish all the past deliberations. Such a thing has never before been done by parliament, and thereby they have now laid the sickle to the most noble part of the royal sovereignty.
After a brief sickness, Anne, the third princess has passed away, to the intense grief of their Majesties. (fn. 3) I will offer my condolences in the usual way, if my own illness permits.
The Turkish Chiaus took leave of the king last Wednesday. He received a present, according to custom, from the Levant Company, and will proceed to Holland with the first favourable wind.
London, the 21st December, 1640.
Dec. 22.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Inghilterra. Venetian Archives.
141. Giovanni Giustinian, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the Doge and Senate.
After I had sent my last a personage arrived from the Court to inform me that a courier had just come from Holland with the conclusion of the marriage between the second princess here and the eldest son of the Prince of Orange, and that the bridegroom will soon proceed to this Court, accompanied by three ambassadors of the United Provinces who are said to be already appointed. The conditions of the marriage are as yet wrapped in secrecy, the affair having been conducted with great circumspection by the Princess Palatine, His Majesty's sister and by Mr. Enflit, without any minister participating. I learn that the completion of this business comes most unexpectedly to the Spanish Ambassadors, and as I wrote some time back, their Majesties seemed in no way inclined to it. Parliament also is not without its own suspicions, as the real motives which have led the king to this important decision are unknown. It is one that may easily lead to great consequences in the present state of the affairs of this kingdom, and to all Christendom as well. I will keep on the alert to report all particulars. So far you will have received better information from the Ambassador Giustiniano at the Hague, where the treaty was made.
London, the 22nd December, 1640.
Dec. 22.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Roma. Venetian Archives.
142. Anzolo Contarini, Venetian Ambassador at Rome, to the Doge and Senate.
Cardinal Barberino took occasion to beg me very earnestly to beseech your Serenity to charge your ambassador in London, during the serious disturbances there, to look after the interests of the Catholic Faith, and also to take under his protection Rosetti, the papal minister in those parts. If I am instructed to give some reply to the Cardinal upon this, it will serve as evidence that I have done what he asked.
Rome, the 22nd Dec. 1640.
Dec. 24.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Haya. Venetian Archives.
143. Girolamo Giustinian, Venetian Ambassador at the Hague, to the Doge and Senate.
Deputies of the Assembly of the States General came on Monday to inform me of the marriage concluded with England. On Thursday they chose three ambassadors to go to England on the subject. They will be sent by the common commissions of the Prince and the States. The partisans of the Prince carried this difficult point in the Assembly against some opposition. The ambassadors are, a cognate of the Prince named Brederode, a deputy of the States named Harsem, recently ambassador extraordinary to England, and that Hemuclit who arranged the marriage. They have instructions to have the alliance rearranged with the eldest daughter, who is about nine years of age, as the king has not yet said whether it is to be the first or the second daughter. The Prince is urging the departure of these ambassadors and the States will give their help to add splendour to the embassy.
The Hague, the 24th December, 1640.
Dec. 28.
Senato Secreta. Dispacci, Inghilterra. Venetian Archives.
144. Giovanni Giustinian, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the Doge and Senate.
Amid the universal applause with which the marriage of the princess has been received every one is curious to discover the more special reasons which prompted the conclusion. All agree in thinking that the king's chief object was to deprive the Scots by this means of the support of the United Provinces, and himself to use their authority and the credit of the Prince of Orange with that people to dispose them to accept an honourable composition and to withdraw their army from this country without further delay. When the English no longer have the strong incitement of these forces it will be easier for His Majesty to restrain the English parliament within the limits of moderation, and so revive his falling authority. Time will show how far these very difficult designs will succeed, and we shall also learn the marriage articles, which are still kept very secret.
Meanwhile they are impatiently awaiting the ambassadors from Holland, for whom the king has quarters prepared. It is freely stated that in addition to the demand for the princess they will bring proposals for a new alliance between this crown and the States, with the view of rendering this king more considerable among neighbouring princes, and the United Provinces better able, with such support, to rely on themselves and boldly to take such courses for the prosecution of the war or negotiations for an accommodation, as the conditions of the time and the vacillating fortunes of the Austrians make them consider most opportune. These are the opinions most current among the ministers of the greatest credit, and so I have thought fit to report them, although they are hardly practicable.
I learn from a person of great authority that although the marriage is announced for the second princess, it will really be with the first, formerly destined for the Catholic Prince. This particular is studiously kept secret, in order not to increase the annoyance of the Spanish Ambassadors, who consider themselves deeply affronted at the conclusion of this affair under their eyes, as it were to their shame.
Since the announcement of this marriage they have changed their tone at the palace, and whereas before the king spoke with hesitation and reserve, he now shows more vigour and lets it be understood that he will not permit parliament to punish his servants. Also, whereas the queen recently told the pope's minister, that with the multiplication of trouble in every direction it was no longer possible to insist on his stay in this kingdom and he had better go as soon as possible, the order has now been revoked, and fresh hopes held out of keeping him in his post. This also goes to show that there is nothing more constant under this sky than inconstancy.
Following the example of the Scots this city, by two aldermen, accompanied by 5000 men, presented a petition to parliament on Saturday signed by 20,000 persons containing seditious demands for the removal of the bishops from the realm, the exile of the Catholics, the confiscation of their goods and the complete prohibition of the ancient ceremonies decreed by parliamentary laws in the Anglican liturgy (et prohibite intieramente le vecchie ceremonie statuite per leggi Parlamentarie nella Liturgia Anglicana.) Nothing has yet been decided in this matter, upon which many other towns have done the same. The king is trying to prevent a declaration to the prejudice of the bishops upon whose place in parliament depends in great measure the maintenance of the royal party.
Thirteen delegates have arrived here unexpectedly from Ireland, sent from that kingdom to petition His Majesty to give them liberty of conscience, abolish all impositions introduced without grant by parliament there, and to grant them many other advantages, to which they have aspired in vain in the past. The king is detaining the delegates with hopes of satisfaction, but although he forbad them to apply to parliament, they have not obeyed. This has caused no little apprehension.
The Commissioner who is at present assisting in the government of that kingdom (fn. 4) has sent a courier with the news that the 10,000 foot and 1000 horse, assembled these last months by His Majesty's order to be sent to Scotland, now refuse to disband, after the need for them has passed, as they wish first to hear what satisfaction their delegates will bring back from the king. So it is to be feared that if they do not promptly grant some satisfaction to that people, a fresh fire will break out in Ireland also, no less difficult to quench than the others.
I have to acknowledge your Excellencies' letters of the 7th inst. and will make use of the information sent.
London, the 28th December, 1640.
Dec. 29.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Haya. Venetian Archives.
145. Girolamo Giustinian, Venetian Ambassador at the Hague, to the Doge and Senate.
The ambassadors will start in a few days for England. Besides commissions for the marriage they have instructions to do all in their power to arrange a settlement between the king and the Scots. They are to intervene in this business in the name of the state if a promising opening presents itself ; but if they find that the Scots are obstinate, as many anticipate, they are openly to express their readiness to afford assistance to the king. As a matter of fact such assistance has not been decided by the Provinces, but the ambassadors will use it as a matter of courtesy and simply to smoothe the negotiation of the treaty. The essence of their instructions is to offer the king of England a new alliance, defensive and offensive against the Spaniards, which is expected to be mutually satisfactory, and which ought to be seconded by favouring circumstances on the side of England and by the unanimous feeling of the people here, who have desired this alliance for many years.
The Hague, the 29th December, 1640.
Senato, Secreta. Relazioni. Venetian Archives. 146. From the Relation of Giovanni Nani, Venetian Ambassador at Rome, 1638-40.
With the Queen of England the pope exchanges ministers, with offices and gifts of courtesy, and it is conceded that that sovereign shall nominate Cardinals on a par with the other kings.


  • 1. Peter Heywood, Justice of the Peace for Westminster, stabbed on Saturday the 1st December, by one John James, a Catholic educated at Brussels. Rushworth : Hist. Collections Vol. III. part i., page 57. Montereul on the 6th Dec. P.R.O. Paris Transcripts. Hist, MSS. Comm. Ninth Report part ii., page 499, Montereul gives the date as Friday the 30th November.
  • 2. William Prynne, Henry Burton and John Bastwick. Their punishment was in June, 1637, more than three years before. According to Gardiner, Bastwick did not return to London until Dec. 4-14. Hist. of Eng., Vol. IX. page 242.
  • 3. She died on Saturday the 16th December, at Richmond and was buried at Westminster Abbey. Salvetti on 21 Dec. Brit. Mus. Add. MSS., 279621.
  • 4. Christopher Wandesford had been left in charge by Strafford and is no doubt the person meant, though he died on the 3rd December. Cal. S. P. Ireland 1637-47, pages 246-8.