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  Diary of Henry Sidney (Earl of Romney) Her Occasional Meditations  

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The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21).
Volume VIII. The Age of Dryden.

X. Memoir and Letter Writers.

§ 23. Diary of Lady Warwick.


Lady Warwick, the wife of the fourth earl (Charles, who died in 1673), represents, among the “good women” of the restoration age, the puritan type proper, though, at the same time, she had a very distinct individuality of her own. Lady Mary Boyle was a daughter of the first, sometimes called “the great,” earl of Cork, and sister of Robert Boyle the natural philosopher and Roger Boyle lord Broghill (earl of Orrery). Her father’s ambitious nature had been much vexed by her secret match with an “insignificant younger son”; but the death of his elder brother made Charles Rich heir to the earldom of Warwick, to which he succeeded in 1659, twenty years after his marriage, so that she became a peeress like six out of her seven sisters. Much of her married life was spent at Little Leighs park in Essex (“delicious Leez,” as her brother Robert called it, in his dedication to her of his treatise entitled Seraphic Love, written in 1648). She came from a family accustomed both to think and to write; the religious frame of mind which she maintained during the whole of her later life was, no doubt, largely due to the hospitality extended by her father-in-law (the parliamentary general) to most of the puritan ministers in England, and she ascribes her conversion to a devout life partly to the counsels of one of them, Anthony Walker, partly to archbishop Ussher’s preaching against plays, of which she “saw not two” after her marriage. 23  Her husband seems to have been a warmhearted man, much attached to his wife and children (on the death of his only son, he sent forth loud cries of grief, though declaring that “his chief sorrow was that the trouble would kill his wife, who was more to him than a hundred sons”), but very passionate, and addicted to the habit of cursing and swearing, very often at his wife. Altogether, his treatment of her seems, notwithstanding his affection, to have been wanting in kindness. Her consciousness that she “did not remonstrate with him about his sins with sufficient faithfulness” was one of the great troubles of her life; a house, she felt, should be “perfumed with prayers, not profaned by oaths.” As to herself, solemn thoughts were never far from her: in the midst of a “great show” in the banqueting-house at Whitehall, a blast of trumpets aroused in her the thought, “What if the trump of God should now sound,” with a remembrance of the “glory” of which, in the days of the late king, she had been a witness in the very place whence he was to go forth to his death. 24  Other passages in her Diary show that religious feeling, at times, overcame her with mystic force; in a prayer after an outburst with her husband, her “soul did but breathe after God”; on another page, she records how she had “all that day great pleasure in thinking upon those happy hours she enjoyed with God in the morning.”   60

Note 23Autobiography, p. 22. [ back ]
Note 24. It is significant of the quality of her puritanism that, to the end of her life, she never failed to keep 30 January as a solemn fast. [ back ]

CONTENTS · VOLUME CONTENTS · INDEX OF ALL CHAPTERS · BIBLIOGRAPHIC RECORD
  Diary of Henry Sidney (Earl of Romney) Her Occasional Meditations  
 
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