Page images
PDF
EPUB

to speak earnestly to her lord that she may be allowed to go up to town for a few days, promising to return thither again whensoever her lord appoints it ; and she adds in a posteript : “ Iff my lorde sholld denie my comming, then I desire your

lordship I may understand itt as sone as may bee, that so I may order my poore businesses as well as I can, withe outt my once comming to the towne; for I dare not ventter to come upe withe outt his leve; let he sholld take thatt occasion to turne mee outt of this howse, as hee did outt of Whitthall, and then I shall nott know wher to put my hede. I desire nott to staye in the towne above 10 dayes, or a forttnight att the most *.”

We learn, in fact, from another letter in the same collection, addressed to the countess dowager of Kent, and dated Appleby Castle, January 10, 1649, that she was so restricted in her pecuniary allowance as to be obliged to pawn some of the most favourite and valuable articles in her possession ; for, after acknowledging a loan from the countess, and returning the sum, she beseeches her ladyship to deliver up “ a little cabinett and Helletropian

* Harl. MS. 7001.-Park's Royal and Noble Authors, vol. iii. p. 173.

cupe." The letter closes in a manner which strongly paints her love of books, and how soothing and permanent was the consolation which she derived from their aid. She sends her love and service to worthy Mr. Selden, and adds, “ she should be in a pitiful case if she had not exelentt Chacer's booke to comfort her ; but when she read in that, she scorned and made light of her troubles *."

From these troubles she was delivered very shortly afterwards by the death of the earl of Pembroke and Montgomery in January, 1649. Her married years had been, with few intervals, a state of mortification and sorrow; for though both her husbands had led a life of gaiety and even splendour, it was gaiety such as she could not partake, and splendour such as she could not but despise. In the first of these connexions, formed in the fervor of youthful fancy and affection, love for a time might sweeten the cup of disappointment; but in the second, there was nothing to relax the fetters of domestic coercion. “ It was my misfortune,” she says, speaking of these partners of her days, “ to have contra

Royal and Noble Authors, apud Park, v. iii. p. 174.

dictions and crosses with them both ; with

ту

first lord, about the desire he had to make me sell my rights in the lands of my ancient inheritance for a sum of

money, which I never did, nor never would consent unto, insomuch as this matter was the cause of a long contention betwixt us, as also for his profuseness in consuming his estate, and some other extravagances of his; and with my second lord, because my youngest daughter, the lady Isabella Sackvil, would not be brought to marry one of his younger sons, and that I would not relinquish my interest I had in five thousand pounds, being part of her portion, out of my lands in Craven : nor did there want divers malicious illwillers to blow and foment the coals of dissension betwixt us ; so as in both their life times, the marble pillars of Knowle in Kent, and Wilton in Wiltshire, were to me oftentimes but the gay arbour of anguish, insomuch as a wise man that knew the insides of

my fortune, would often say that I lived in both these my lord's great families, as the river of Roan or Rodanus runs through the lake of Geneva, without mingling any part of its streams with that lake ; for I gave myself wholly to retiredness as much as I

could in both these great families, and made good books and virtuous thoughts my companions, which can never discern affliction, nor be daunted when it unjustly happens : and by a happy genius I overcame all these troubles, the prayers of my blessed mother helping me therein *.”

It was in her second widowhood, and very shortly after the death of her lord, that she began that career of munificence, hospitality and utility, which has not undeservedly thrown so much splendour and veneration round her memory. She had now, indeed, the means of adequately carrying her plans into execution, for to an income already great were added the product of two large jointures; and, taking up her abode in the North, she set about the work of repairing the castles of her ancestors with an enthusiasm which nothing could repress. Her friends, indeed, cautioned her against rebuilding her castles whilst Cromwell remained in power, under an apprehension, that as soon as they were completed, he would issue orders for their demolition. “ Let him,” she replied, “ destroy them if he will; he shall surely find, as often as he does so,

[blocks in formation]

I will rebuild them, while he leaves me a shilling in

my pocket *."

As early as July, 1649, she visited Skipton and Barden for a few days, and, returning to the former place in the February following, continued there for nearly a twelvemonth, occupying the only parts of the castle which had not been rendered uninhabitable ; namely, the long gallery and adjoining apartments. Here, in holding courts, fixing boundaries, and giving orders for immediately necessary repairs, she passed her time; but it was not until October, 1655, that she commenced the restoration of the old castle, which had been little better than a mass of half demolished walls and rubbish since the year 1648.

1648. Her task was completed in about three years, and the following inscription over the entrance into the modern fabric, remains as the record of her labours.

“THIS SKIPTON CASTLE WAS REPAYRED BY The LADY ANNE CLIFFORD, COUNTESS DowAGER or PEMBROKE, DORSETT AND MONTGOMERIE, BARONESS CLIFFORD, WESTMORLAND, AND VES.. CIE, LADYE OF THE HONOUR OF SKIPTON, IN

Royal and Noble Authors, apud Park, v. iii. p. 166.

« PreviousContinue »