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strongest illustrations of the precept.
"If we con
sider the meaning," he remarks, "there is mention made of two facts, which it was impossible that any body of common sense, in this lady's circumstances, should not have observed, and of a resolution, in consequence of these, which it was natural for every person who had a resentment of bad usage to make. Whence then results the vivacity, the fire which is so manifest in the letter? Not from any thing extraordinary in the matter, but purely from the laconism of the manner. An ordinary spirit would have employed as many pages to express the same thing, as there are affirmations in this short letter. The epistle might in that case have been very sensible, and withal very dull; but would never have been thought worthy of being recorded as containing any thing uncommon or deserving a reader's notice *"
Nothing, indeed, can more strikingly prove to what compressed and high-toned eloquence indignation of mind may give rise than this famous epistle; for the general style of lady Pembroke was minute, diffuse, and often languid; of which
* Philosophy of Rhetoric, vol. ii. pp. 263, 264.
we have a curious specimen in the manuscript folio of her writing preserved in the Harleian Collection, No. 6117, and from which, under the title of " A Summary of the Records, and a true Memorial of the Life of me the Lady Anne Clifford," &c. I have more than once had occasion to quote.
Long life, a gift only valuable when connected with mental peace and enjoyment, and the consciousness of utility to others, was granted to the countess of Pembroke, who for twenty-six years after the death of her last husband undeviatingly pursued a course which, whilst it ministered to her own happiness, showered blessings on all around her. She died on the 22d of March, 1676, in the eighty-eighth year of her age, and was buried, at her express desire, by the side of her beloved mother in the church of Appleby.
On the 14th of the following month her funeral sermon was preached within the same edifice by Dr. Edward Rainbow, bishop of Carlisle, from a text in the Proverbs of Solomon very appositely alluding to one of the chief employments of her latter days, her architectural restorations: "Every wise woman buildeth her house." To this worthy dignitary, indeed, who has executed his task con
amore, and at great length, we are indebted, amongst other things, for a striking picture not only of the natural powers of her understanding, but of the extraordinary extent and versatility of her knowledge. After commenting on the former, and telling us that she had "a clear soul, sprightful, of great understanding and judgment, faithful memory and ready wit," he adds, "she had early gained a knowledge, as of the best things, so an ability to discourse in all commendable arts and sciences, as well as in those things which belong to persons of her birth and sex to know. She could discourse with virtuosos, travellers, scholars, merchants, divines, statesmen, and with good housewives in any kind; insomuch, that a prime and elegant wit, Dr. Donne, well seen in all humane learning, is reported to have said of this lady, 'that she knew well how to discourse of all things from predestination to slea-silk:' meaning, that although she was skilful in housewifery, and in such things in which women are conversant, yet her penetrating wit soared up to pry into the highest mysteries. Although she knew wool and flax, fine linen and silk, things appertaining to the spindle and the distaff, yet she could open her mouth with wis
dom,' and had knowledge of the best and highest things, such as make wise unto salvation.' If she had sought fame rather than wisdom, possibly she might have been ranked among those wits and learned of that sex of whom Pythagoras or Plutarch, or any of the ancients, have made such honourable mention. But she affected rather to study with those noble Bereans, and those honourable women, who searched the scriptures daily; with Mary, she chose the better part, of learning the doctrine of Christ *."
Educated during one of the most magnanimous periods of the English monarchy, under the eye of a pious and sensible mother, and early accustomed to privations, disappointments, and self-denial, lady Pembroke preserved an almost heroic firmness and purity of conduct; and when, under the dissolute reign of Charles the Second, it was her lot to fall on degenerate days and godless tongues, she stood uncontaminated by the scene around her, and was, perhaps, the most exemplary female character of that age. Repeatedly had she been solicited, we are told, to go to Whitehall after the Restoration,
* Vide Royal and Noble Authors, apud Park, vol. iii. p. 169.
but she constantly declined it, saying, “that if she went thither she must have a pair of blinkers, lest she should see such things as would offend her in that licentious court *." It was on her own estates, in the halls of her ancestors, that, at such a time, she could alone hope to preserve her dignity and independency, could alone hope, through the medium of charity, hospitality, and personal influence, to be useful to her country and her kind. And here, as the historian of Craven in very forcible language has remarked, " equally remote from the undistinguishing profusion of ancient times, and the parsimonious elegance of modern habits, her house was a school for the young, and a retreat for the aged; an asylum for the persecuted, a college for the learned, and a pattern for all +."
Her love of literature, indeed, and especially of poetry, was one of the most pleasing features in her character. We have seen that she erected a tomb and wrote an epitaph in honour of the poet Daniel, her friend and tutor, and she paid a further and still more disinterested tribute to genius
Granger's Biographical History of England, vol. ii. p. 54. Ed. 1775.
+ Hist. Craven, p. 313.