Edward Barrington De Fonblanque.

Annals of the house of Percy, from the conquest to the opening of the nineteenth century (Volume v.2 pt.1) online

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Online LibraryEdward Barrington De FonblanqueAnnals of the house of Percy, from the conquest to the opening of the nineteenth century (Volume v.2 pt.1) → online text (page 30 of 31)
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1 The original spelling has been preserved as being more in character
with the oddity and quaintness of the sentiments and expressions.

3 " Woods were concluded the next means of reliefe, so as the axe was
put to the tree. Officers made so speedy sales, as within a few yeares
was sold the value of 20,000/., held worth 50,000/. ; to jewelers and
silkmen making their ne?ts in the branches .... and leaving nothing
but the memory of good trees in rotten roots."

^ 1 7


a.d. management of his servants, 1 and the administration of
1564-1632 his lancl5 .

" And this I must truely testify of Servants : and of Ex-
perience in all my Fortunes, good and badde : I have
found them more reasonable than ether Wyfe, Brothers, or
Friends. Why it should be soe is manifest .... a Wyfe
can but be a Woman subject to much Weakness, though
with Passions and Desiers as strong, if not stronger, than
those of others . . . ." and younger brothers are apt to
chafe under their inferior position " if their Humors be
not satisfied to the full as thev conclude is due to them
out of the Right of Birth, being born of one Flesh and
Blood," and to " tickle their Fancies with the Defence of
Equal ite to be most just and consonant to Reason."
Friends are " soe weakhearted in cases of Adversitie,
inclining soe much to the over loving their own Parti-
culars, that the very Respects of common Humanitie and
Fortitude hath been cast aside/'

The way to secure, on the part of servants, the
necessary " Awe, Obedience, Love, Carefulness, Playne
Dealing, Contentedness with lesse, and indeede all
Thyngs else that belongeth to this Mystery of Governing
.... is to let them fynd that ye nede them nott, and that
yf one be gonne to day, you can make. another do your
Business as well to morrow. . . ."

Example is inculcated as a useful element of efficient
administration :

" You must labour as mutche as may be that your
Servants Opinions be venerable, soe shall yowr Command-

1 The term must be taken in a wide sense as comprising military
officers, and gentlemen employed in situations of trust and confidence,
as well as ordinary household servants. The writer says: "Those
that you have to govern in your family are of two sortes: the
better and the meaner; the better should less direct the greatest
businesses than to execute .... the prime direction being even
the masters worke, otherwise shall you be but a master in shew, not
in deede."




ments be as Law to them, either out of Love or Conceite. a.d.
I knowe no better Way that they may find your Mynd l ° 5 Zl 22
inclined to Justice and Severite, than hiding from them
any notable Vice to be in yowr own selfe."

Undue suspicion is to be deprecated as much as over
confidence : —

11 Because Men are Men, you must not thinke to fynde
Gods of them for Knowledge, nor Saints for Lyfe. They
must be subject to their Affections and Passions, and
they will thinke best for those Endes they aime at,
although their Conclusions will be but Paralogisms
and Ignorances, if well digested, as most Things under
the Sun are."

The writer complains of the grasping tendencies of
servants who " will pleade Custome, if it be but a Loafe
of Bread, or a Canne of Bere, which, when they have it,
they will give it to the Dogges rather than loose it, with a
Proverb that the Lord payeth for all."

Here is wholesome and judicious counsel : —

" To contente your cheafe Instruments is to give them
Hering of that they advise ; if it happen their Counsels to
be unsound shew them these Errors out of Reason, and
rather make a Faulte of displeasing them, than yield to
that you know shall not be good. If there Counsels be
sound, or happen to jump with that you had concluded
before in the Inward of your Determination, never attri-
bute the same to your owne Will, but to their Advise,
soe shall you please them."

These strictures do not bear out the traditional belief
in the superior merits of domestic servants in the
olden time, as compared with those of the present dav.
If we may trust the Instructions, servants would appear
three centuries ago to have possessed most of the faults
which are now so commonly laid to the charge of that
class. The result of the Earl's experience, however,



a.d. seems to be that servants are very much what their
15 111 32 masters make them ; and the moral of his lecture may be
summed up in the sensible French axiom : Mauvaisc
administration fait mauvais valets.

Under the third head of the Instructions the writer
deals with the mischief arising from the proceedings of
those sycophants who beset the paths of men in hHi
positions, making themselves the intermediaries between
them and the persons in their employment :

" Be but the Giver yourself of yowr owne Giftes, and
so these Lyme Twigges can take no hold, nor you
remayne other than a free Man and at Lybertie " x

The most remarkable part of this composition is that
relating to the choice and treatment of a wife.

So poor an opinion did the Earl entertain of the
capacity of women, 2 that he would deny them even a
voice in the management of their domestic concerns ; 3
and it is amusing to find the author of this very cap-
riciously-spelt treatise illustrating the inferiority of the
sex by their inability to acquire "true Ortography "
or a good literary Style, " for how few can doe, or
doeth it." 4

Women, it is allowed, are by nature in some respects
almost the equal of men, for " their Wittes are tempered
as ours be," but in the course of their training their moral

1 Probably in reference to his own misplaced confidence in his agent,
Thomas Percy.

2 This seems to have been a favourite theme of his, for among
the books he purchased while in the Tower is one entitled Inferiority
delta Donna.

3 As regards women of rank ; in more humble households he admits
that wives may be usefully employed in the kitchen, and "in the
managing of some Home Causes."

♦ English orthography has always varied much with the age : but the
Earl of Northumberland, like most of his contemporaries, acknowle«i-v!
no standard, and frequently spelt the same word in two or three
different ways in the course of a single page. Even proper names
were subject to this capricious treatment.




sense becomes warped and stunted, so that they are
incapable of " Rationtination " and lose the sense of right '°1_! '
and wrong, acting only upon example and custom : " not
what is modest for them to doe, but sutche and sutche
doeth this ; not what is fitt for them and for their
Children to weare, out of the Abilities of their Caulings,
but sutche and sutche wears this and that; not that
Paynting is an immodest Ornament, but that Paynting
is the Fashion; and so in general, their Affections
founded upon what others do, maketh the Fault appere
to them a Fault or not, and not the Oualite of the
Fault itselfe."

Education can do but little towards remedying the
shallowness of woman's intellect :

" If any doe excell their Fellowes in matter of
Languages, (as somme Ladies do ;) if it be in French
yow shall commonly fynd it noe further improved than
to the study of an Amadis ; if in Italian, to the reading
of Ariosto ; if in Spanish, to looking upon a Diana de
Monte Maior; if in English, our natural Tongue, to an
Arcadia or some Love Discourses to make them able
to entertain a Stranger upon a Hearth in a Privy-
Chamber. ...

" Besides, mark but their Conversation ! In the most
parte it is but of Nursery Company ; or, if extraordinary
they do converse with Men, what will be their Entertain-
ments, but to tell them they are faiere, proper, witty,
and pretty Passages of flattering to gain their good

Wishes ? "

It is therefore unreasonable to expect greater Matters
of them than such as will make them " as wyse at fifteen
as at fifty," since they are incapable of making progress
" in any Learning saving in Love, a littel Craft, and a littel
Thriftiness, if they are so addicted out of Disposition ;
Handsomeness and Trimness being the Idol of there



a.d. Hartes, till Tyme write deep Wrincles on their l r or-
1564-1632 hekds ."'

Some allowance for female deficiencies must, however
be made on the score of physical causes, for :

" Their Bodyes you may perceave to be very tender
out of extreme Humidytes, and this doe all our Physitians
agree in ; soe as their Spirits are not held to be of that
Vigour and Robustness as Men's are."

On the subject of matrimony the writer quotes his
personal experiences in these coarse terms :

" In my Choise of a Wyfe it was long ere I made it ; I
had told thirty-one years ere I tooke one, my Resolutions
being grounded upon these Considerations of Choise :

" First, that my Wyfe should nether be oughly in
Boddy, nor in Mynd.

" Secondly, that she should bring with her Meat in her
Mouth to mayntayne her Expence.

" Lastly, that her Frendes should be of that Conse-
quency that they might appere to be Steps for yow to
better yow r Fortune. . . .

" My first Ende I attayned to ; the last I mist and grew
out of Hope within one or two Years ; for Essex and I
were at Warres within that Tyme, and Hindrances grew
rather than Love. ... It is very true I was suttell
enoughe, and knew enoughe of Frendes of this Kynd ;
yet did the seeming Honor of Essex make me carelesse ;

1 The injustice of these depreciatory comments is the more inexcusable
since the Elizabethan age was singularly rich in learned and accom-
plished Englishwomen. Among them, the Earl's own very strong-
minded cousin, Ann ClirTord, Countess of Pembroke, was a conspicuous
example. She is reputed to have read and spoken fluently five
languages ; was noted for her extraordinary capacity for business ;
and, according to her funeral sermon, could converse leornedly on any
subject, " from predestination to slea-silk." — See Whitaker's Craven.
In her picture at Skipton Castle she is represented seated at a table
with Eusebius, St. Augustine, Joseplvis, and the Arcadix before her.
The Earl's own daughter Lucy was likewise a striking refutation of Ins



the Form of your Mothers Vertu made me negligent ; a.ix
the honorable Race of boeth of them made me suspect 5 "
no Collusion, wherein I found many of their Fingers dipt
in afterwards, boeth as Actors and Abettors."

In selecting a wife :

" Be sure that she bring with her to buy her Pins
whatsoever shall happen, or else yow may repent yow.
Tyme will tell yow of many Imperfections in her that
Plenty must make Plasters for . . . yet choose you a
good Bodye, rather than a fayre Face, for the one will
add Advantage to the Persons of your Posterity, the
other is commonly a Lewer to call Eagles to the

The practice of wives having their own fortunes
settled upon themselves is condemned, and under no
circumstances should they be allowed " to keep the
Cofers," since "empty Purses be fitter for their Care than
full ones, and hardly shall yow fynd the Wyfe of a wyse
Man the Possessor of ritche Bagges," ... on the con-
trary, if they did save money, " it would goe upon their
owen Backes, and the Beefe Potts would be translated
into Wardrobbes ; . . . soe as if they can scrape up
anything that they may whorde up, it is not for yow."

The danger of " too much Uxorialitie " is strongly
insisted upon, and all means should be adopted to
prevent a wife from acquiring that influence to which she
is certain to aspire, and which weak husbands are apt to
concede, 1 " ether esteeming their YVyves Suffisienties at
too high a Rate, or for Quiet, lest they (desyring to have
Rule) otherwyse would chyde ; or out of Ease, because
the Husband would be slotheful, and give himself to his

1 The writer states that the domestic power of wives is greater in
England than in any other country except Germany " where the husband's
immeasurable beesttiynesse of drynking causes a necessite for the wyfe to
look to the businesse."

vol. ii. 353 A A


a d. Pleasures ; or out of Profitt, knowing the pinching
1564-1632 Humours of Wyves, when they betake themselfes to
Sparing ; . . not that I deny that Men should not be
good Husbands in wyse Men's Interpretations;" . . .
which interpretations would afford to " great Mens
Wyfes " full indulgence in such pursuits as properly fall
within their sphere, and allow them " to bring up their
Children well in their Long-Cote Age, to tender their
Healths and Education, and to obey their Husbands
... to see that their Women . . . kepe the Linen
sw r eete, that spoile be not made of Household Stuff, and
to have a Care when great Personages shall visitt, to sitt
at an ende of a Table and to carve handsomely." x

They might further be permitted the innocent pastime
of " a littell Wasting of Sleeve Silk . . . soe perhaps, in
two or three x\ges, a Bed, embroidered with Slippes, may
be fynished ; or, in somme lesse Tyme, a Purse or a paire
of Hangers wrought by her owen Hande may be ended."

Although by their position excluded from the ordinary
household duties of " Kitching-Buttray-Pantry " the look-
ing after " a Dary is tolerable, for soe may vow have
perhaps a Dishe of Butter, a softe Cheese, or some clouted
Creme once in a summer" and some control might be
allowed over " the Poultry and fed Fowle ; for a fat
Pulletts Legge of my Lady's owen Serving to a good
Pallate is a great Virtue."

The maintenance of strict domestic discipline is en-
joined as a duty, and remedies are suggested to counter-
act the various wiles and devices to which young wives
are certain to resort with a view to establishing their

1 This accomplishment continued to be cultivated by ladies down t<>
a much later period. Lady Mary Wortley Montagu states that she
had "taken instruction from a professed carving master'"' in order t
be "perfect in scientifically performing this act" at her fathers State



The tongue being woman's most formidable weapon, a.d.
special instructions are laid down as to the course to be I ^°5~ l622
adopted when a wife begins to rail or scold.

" Will you be angry then at a poore Woman that
understands littell ? Will you be disgusted if a Childe
doe lyke a Chylde, and creye if he has not his Will ? or
will you be troobled bycause a Woman chides, if she has
not what she desiers ?

" You knowe it is not by that that it can last, or, if it
doe, the Remedy I have ever found to be best is to lett
them talke, and you to kepe the Poore [power] in your
owen Handes that yow may do as yow list. Soe as in the
one, yow shall curbe them, and in the other yow shall
weary them, when they decerne they cannot move yow ;
for I have often knowen Men not replying, Women have
chid themselves oute of Breathe."

Wives when thwarted sometimes threaten to do them-
selves a personal mischief: in which cases their lords
are brutally advised if they should threaten "to kill
themselves, to give them a Knife ; if to hang themselves,
to lend them your Garter ; if to caste themselves head-
long out of Windows, to open the Casements ; and if to
sound [swoon] and dye, to let them lye till they come to
themselves again ; soe as to this Daye I can never hear
of any that finished by these mournful Deathes."

A higher tone is taken in the " Advice to my Son
on his Travels," in which no point is more strongly
inculcated than regard for the feelings and prejudices
of other nations :

" Religion is the first thing you are to see rightly to
the Honor of God ; in whiche I doubte not but that you
are so settled as I need but give this Caviat, that,
althoughe in their Religion yow shall see many thinges
worthy of Scorne in yowr Hart, yet shoe it not in yowr
outward Fashons ....

355 a A 2


a.d. . . . " Yowr Habits should be according to the Fashons

■564-1632 Q f t j ie Nations y OU }[ ve j n> SO e shall you avoyde being
gazed at, Things to Mens eyes not usuall, breding
Wonder ....

..." Yow must consider the End of yowr Travels is
not to learn apishe Iestures, or Fashons of Attyres, or
Varietes of costely Meates, but to gayne the Tonges ;
that herafter at yowr Leisures yow may discours with
them that are dead, if they have left any worth behind
them." . . .

The young traveller is enjoined to study the constitu-
tion of each country visited, and to make himself
acquainted with their laws, more especially those
relating to the tenure of land ; the produce and manu-
factures, and the character and organisation of the
military force ; and to be a careful observer of the
manners and habits of the different peoples.

" I wishe yow a skilfulle Sworde, for Peace sake ; yet
lett it be slippere-sheathed, if the Honor of your Master,
or your Countrie, or your owne be touched ; for those are
Duties you owe wherein your Flesh must not be too dear
unto you."

While profiting by all things in which he might discern
an improvement upon his native usages he is bid :

" Remember that you must die an Englishman, and
love your owen Home best ; for I knovve not where you
can be matcht with soe goode a Blessing as God and
yowr Country hath matcht you withal."

The perusal of these compositions can hardly fail to
call to mind the Letters to his Son, written a century and
a-half later, by another Earl of ancient northern lineage,
akin to the Percies. The age of armour had then been
succeeded by " the age of perruques," and the change
which the lapse of those years had worked in the nation.'. I
mind and manners is strongly reflected in the style



and tone of the two writers. The Courts of Elizabeth a.d.
and Anne, or the Verse of Spenser and Pope, do not l6o 5^ 6;
present a stronger contrast than the character of the
elaborate Code of Instructions in the preparation of which
the cynical but kind-hearted Northumberland occupied
much of the time of his weary captivity, and that of the
witty Letters which the courtly Chesterfield dashed off
among the other recreations of his luxurious existence.

The aims of the two writers were as divergent as
their style. The Wizard Earl, his temper embittered by
a sense of injustice, baffled ambition, ruined fortunes
and impaired health ; and exaggerating the lessons taught
by the experiences of a jarring domestic life, strove
to form the character of his son in the hard mould of
self-reliance, mistrust of mankind, and the subjection
of the affections to personal interests.

The accomplished Diplomatist sought only to make
his son a fine gentleman, by the cultivation of the arts of
the tailor and the dancing master, and the acquirement
of social graces. Neither system was calculated to
produce a satisfactory result ; but in the one, with much
to condemn, there was an element of manliness and
directness of purpose, of which there is no trace in the
polished maxims of the other. Underlying the theories
of the two writers there was, however, a certain identity
of thought, which sometimes found expression in almost
identical language.

11 Believe me, that though men have done more mischief
in the world than women, I would not advise you to
trust either more than is absolutely necessary. . . .

" If you marry for love you will certainly have some
very happy days, and probably some very uneasy ones ;
if for money, you will have more happy ones, and
probably no uneasy ones.'' '

1 Chesterfield's Letters to his Son, 1739 — 1754.


a.d. Northumberland might have written these sentences,

1564-^632 k ut j le wou y never have inculcated, as Chesterfield did,
habitual dissimulation ; a passion for play; a contempt for
learning, except for ornamental purposes, or "a genteel
carriage and graceful motions with the air of a man of
fashion," to be attained by means of " a good dancing
master, and some imitation of those who excel ; " nor,
with all his cynicism, would the Prisoner in the Tower
have laid it down as an incontrovertible proposition that
all good actions spring from a bad, mean, or selfish
motive ; or have advised his son "to pry into the recesses
of men's hearts, and having found their ruling passion,
work upon them by it, but never trust them."

It is noteworthy that both fathers equally failed to
influence the characters of their sons in the direction
contemplated. Their work affords but another illustra-
tion of the hopelessness of the attempt to regulate the
conduct of individual lives by general maxims. 1 In
spite of all the earnest warnings against the danger of
being governed through the domestic affections, Algernon
Percy became the most devoted and indulgent of hus-
bands to two successive wives ; while the example and
teaching of the finest gentleman of his day left Philip
Stanhope loutish in manner, slovenly in habit and
appearance, and sound in heart.

The compositions of the two Earls may be read with
interest and amusement, but the moral they point is a
false one. There is more wisdom, good sense and good
feeling in the two dozen lines of parting advice to his
son, which Shakespeare puts into the mouth of the old
Polonius, than in all the laboured pages of Northumber-

1 " Every man who has seen the \\ orld knows that nothing is so useless

as a general maxim Few indeed of the many wise apophthegms

that have been uttered, from the time of the seven sages ot Gree< e '-■>
that of Poor Richard, have pre\ ented a single foolish action." — Macau
Essays : " Macchiavelli."



land's " Instructions," or in the several volumes of a.d. 1622
Chesterfield's brilliant letters.

* *


King James I. of England, determined to signalise
his fifty-seventh birthday, among other acts of grace, by
liberating certain of his nobles from the prison to which
in the exercise of his royal pleasure he had consigned
them ; and his new favourite was despatched as the
bearer of this decision, and of the conditions attaching
to it.

"■ Buckingham appeared in the Tower, and conveyed
to the Earls of Northumberland, Southampton, and
Oxford, the King's command for their liberation on his
birthday ; but Northumberland is confined within thirty
miles compass of Petworth. 1 . . .

"On Sunday afternoon the Earl of Northumberland
was released from his long imprisonment in the Tower,
whence the Lord of Doncaster went to fetch him to
his house with a coach and six horses. 2 . . .

" The warders of the Tower make great moan that
they have lost such a benefactor. All the lords and great
men about this town go to visit and congratulate the
Earl .... Lord Arundel supped with him the first
night, and dined there the next day, whither came like-
wise, unbidden, the Spanish Ambassador. The Earl
continues at Syon for ten days, then goes to Petworth,
thence to Penshurst, to see his daughter Lisle, and so
on, when he thinks good, within his precincts." 3 . . . .

1 Chamberlain to Dudley Carleton, iSth July, 1622.— -State Papers.

2 It was generally stated that the Earl had ordered six horses to be
put to his carriage because he had been told that Buckingham had in-
troduced the fashion of driving four horses. Such an act of ostentatious
rivalry against a man of the calibre of the royal favourite was far more
likely to have originated, as stated by Chamberlain, with James Hay, in
his anxiety to do honour to his father-in-law on the occasion of their first


' Chamberlain to Dudley Carleton, 22nd July, 1622.— had.



a.d. With what strangely mingled feelings must the libe-

15 lli 32 rated prisoner once more have surveyed the outer world
from which he had lived secluded for sixteen weary
years ! He was in the flower of his manhood when the
Tower gates had first closed upon him ; it was a grey-
haired and prematurely bent man who now, under a
salute, of guns from the batteries, 1 crossed the draw-
bridge, and drove through London amid the cheers of
the populace, who had assembled in crowds to greet and
welcome back the victim of royal injustice and Court

Even now, however, James had clogged his tardy act
of grace with unworthy conditions. He had taken the
precaution of clipping the captive eagle's wings before
opening the cage. Never again might Northumberland
breathe the free air of his native moors ; never revisit

Online LibraryEdward Barrington De FonblanqueAnnals of the house of Percy, from the conquest to the opening of the nineteenth century (Volume v.2 pt.1) → online text (page 30 of 31)