THE FIRST DUKE AND DUCHESS OF NEWCASTLE.* Wtt.LIAat CAVENDISH, who rose from the rank of a commoner, through the degrees of Baron, Earl, Marquis, to be Duke of New- castle, was a man of princely fortune, high breeding, and chival- rous character, eminently skilled in horsemanship, which was his special study, a fine fencer and dancer, anything but famous as a general, fond of the society of men of letters, of whom he with harmless vanity affected to be one, and a persistent writer of bad -comedies. His sufferings and his great sacrifices in the Civil War and till the Restoration of Charles IL gave him very special claims to royal gratitude, which were without stint and without expense acknowledged. The total pecuniary amount of bis losses in his great estates, during the evil days of royalty, is -estimated at nearly a million sterling. Charles II., of whom in boyhood he had been the first governor, made him a
Duke. He had in 1644, after the battle of Marston Moor, thrown up his high commands and left England, -dissatisfied with the management of the King's affairs and his own treatment ; and, going to Paris, he fell in love with and married, in 1645, for second wife, Margaret Lucas, sister of Lord Lucas of Colchester, who was a maid of honour to Queen Henrietta in exile. It was a wonderfully happy marriage. Mutual affection and mutual admiration never reached a greater theight. The Duchess has given us great insight into their happy married life, and into the characters of herself and her husband, in which the good and the ridiculous are strangely mingled, in her little autobiography of 1656, written when they were in exile "and poverty at Antwerp, and in her biography of her husband, written after the Restoration, when they had recovered his splendid but datnaged estates, and were living in honour and in affluence. Her life of her husband, never reprinted since 1668 till now (when Mr. John Russell Smith has given us a reprint), was thus de- -scribed, on its first appearance, by a shrewd, hard-headed reader, one Samuel Pepys, Clerk of the Admiralty. On the night of the 18th of March, 1668, that worthy stayed at home on account of bad ayes, but tried them by "reading the ridiculous history of my Lord Newcastle, wrote by his wife, which shows her to be a mad, conceited, ridiculous woman, and he an ass to suffer her to write what she writes to him and ot him ; so to bed, my -eyes being very bad." The lapse of two centuries has given an interest to this strange, rambling, gushing, and egotistical volume, as a genuine account of a somewhat exceptional phase of old life and manners, and, ingenuous self-portraiture of a real Duke and Duchess, of two hundred years ago. Charles Lamb, who loved old folios, and whose most morbid tastes and fancies are catching, 'found no end of quaintness and artlessness in this volume, and gave it the benefit of his excessive praise. Autobiography is always pleasant reading. It is Carlyle, we think, who has said somewhere that the dullest human being, sitting down to write a true account of himself, will produce something worth reading. Any human life, as "human," has an interest for all humanity. The Duchess of Newcastle, grotesque and fantastic as she was, -was very far from being dull. But there should be a medium in appreciation, and the author of Ginx's Baby and Lord Bantam, who edits the Cavalier and his Lady, and has performed his duty in a very perfunctory manner, appears to go, by reaction pro- bably, into an unwholesome extreme of admiration of a Duke and Duchess of two centuries ago. Enchanted also by distance, he has become blinded to the substantial sins and essential errors of the -Cavalier cause, identified in the last years of the Duke and Duchess of Newcastle's lives with the most bigot and besotted of Crevernments and the most vicious and demoralised of Courts. Mr. Jenkins in his introductory essay has not taken the trouble to inform his readers when the Duke and Duchess were born and tlied. It transpires that they were both Royal sympathisers when the Civil War began, but readers require and are entitled to know how long they survived the Restoration. The Duke was born in 1592, was made a Knight of the Bath and a Baron by James I., and lived for eighteen years after the Restoration. The Duchess had died before him, in 1673.
Pepys and Evelyn in their truth-telling registers present a view of the Duchess of Newcastle, unnoticed by Mr. Jenkins,
* Tne Cavalier and his Lady: Selections from the Works of the First Duke and Duchess of Newcastle. Edited, with an Introdu3tory Essay, by Edward Jenkins. Golden Treasury Series. London; Disemillansad Co. 1872.
The Lives of William Cavendish, Duke of Ifewcastle, and of his Wife, Margaret, Duchess of Newcastle; written by the Thrice Noble and Illustrious Princess, Mrargaret, Duchess of Newcastle. Edited, with a Preface and Occasional Notes, by Mark Antony Lower, LL London : John Russell Smith. 187u
which yet finds confirmation in subdued confessions of her open- hearted autobiography.
On the Duke and Duchess's coming to town in the spring of 1667, the King made a viait to the Duchess, and Pepys strolled to Whitehall on April 11, in the hope of catching a sight of the Duchess, who was expected that day to make a return visit to the Queen. "The whole story," says he, "of this lady is a romance, and all she does is romantic. Her footmen in velvet coats, and herself in an antique dress, as they say ; and was the other day at her own play, the Ilamourous Lover, the most ridiculous thing that ever was wrote, but yet she and her lord mightily pleased with it ; and she at the end made her respects to the players from her box, and did give them thanks. There is as much expectation of her coming to Court, that so people may come to see her, as if it were the Queen of Sheba. But I lost my labour, for she did not come this night." But on April 26 Pepys had better luck. "Met my Lady Newcastle going with her coaches and footmen all in velvet ; herself, whom I have never seen before, as 1 have heard her often described, for all the town. talk is nowadays of her extravagancies, with her velvet cap, her hair about her ears ; many black patches, because of pimples about her month; naked-necked, without anything about it, and a black just-au-corps. She seemed to me a very comely woman : but I hope to see more of her on May-day." Pepys was a good judge of a comely woman, and on May-day he and Sir William Penn, the Admiral, drove into the Park to have a look at her, "That which we, and almost all, went for, was to see my Lady Newcastle, which we could not, she being followed and crowded upon by coaches all the way she went, that nobody could come near; only I could see she was in a large black coach, adorned with silver instead of gold, and so white curtains, and everything black and white, and herself in her cap." Pepys tried again on the 10th, but without better luck : —" Drove hard towards Clerken- well, thinking to have overtaken my Lady Newcastle, whom I saw before us in her coach, with a hundred boys and girls looking upon her, but I could not, and so she got home before I could come up to her ; but I will get a time to see her." And so he did, on May 30, when the Duchess paid a state visit to the Royal Society. Samuel Pepys, as one of the Fellows, was there, "where I found very much company, in expectation of the Duchess of New- castle, who had desired to be invited, and was, after much debate pro and con, it seems many being against it ; and we do believe the town will be full of ballads of it. The Duchess hath been a good, comely woman ; but her dress so antick, and her deportment so ordinary, that 1 do not like her at all, nor do I hear her say anything that was worth hearing, but that she was full of admi- ration, all admiration."
Pepys's strictures might possibly be pat down to a peevish, crooked humour ; but what says Evelyn, in the confidence of his Diary, and in confidence to a friend, of this lady, of whom he was the friend, and, alas ! in writing to herself, the fulsome flatterer ? He took Mrs. Evelyn one afternoon to see her, and the Duchess received her "in a kind of transport suitable to her extravagant humour and dress, which was very singular" (April 27, 1667). Evelyn also records the visit to the Royal Society, describing the Duchess as a mighty pretender to learning, poetry, and philosophy." The following account of her by Evelyn in a letter to a friend is a life-portrait of the fantastical lady, whom Mr. Jenkins puts forward as the type and representative of a Cavalier's wife
I was surprised to find so much extravagance and vanity in any person not confined within four walls. Her habit particular, fantasti- cal, not unbecoming a good shape. Her face discovers the facility of the sex in being yet persuaded it deserves the esteem years forbid, by the infinite care she takes to place her curls and patches. Her mien surpasses the imagination of poets or the descriptions of a romance heroine's greatness; her gracious bows, seasonable nods, courteous stretching-out of her hands, twinkling of her eyes, and various gestures of approbation, show what may be expected from her discourse, whioli is as airy, empty, whimsical, and rambling as her books, aiming at science, difficulties, high notions, terminating commonly in nonsense, oaths, and obscenity. Her way of address to people more than necessarily sub- missive, a certain general form to all, obliging by repeating affected, generous, kind expressions, endeavouring to show humility by calling back things past, still to improve her present greatness and favour to her friends. I found Dr. Charlton with her, complimenting her wit and learning in a high manner, which she took to be so much her due that she swore if the schools did not banish Aristotle and read 3targaret Duchess of Newcastle they did her wrong, and deserved to ho utterly abolished. My part was not yet to speak, but admire ; especially hearing her go on magnifiying her own generous actions, stately buildings, noble fortune, her lord's prodigious losses in the war, his power, valour, wit, learning, and industry,—what did she not mention to his or her own advantage? Sometimes, to give her breath, came in a fresh admirer ; then she took occasion to justify her faith, to give an account of her religion, as new and unintelligible as her philosophy, to site her own pieces, line and page in such a book, and to tell the adventures of some of her nymphs. At last I grew weary, and concluded that the creature, which I had heard speak of, was now to be seen, and that it was time to retire for fear of infection ; yet I hope, as she is an original, she may never have a copy. Never did I see a woman so full of her- self, so amazingly vain and ambitious."
But Evelyn, when writing to herself to thank her for a present of her multifarious unread volumes, could allow himself to address her in language of unmeasured adulation, which again is valuable, as showing the real worth of other praises of learned and literary men now seriously quoted as valuable testimonials: —
"Nor, Madam, is it by this that I intend to pay all my homage for that glorious presence, which merits so many encomiums, or write a panegyric of your virtues, which all the world admires, lest the in- dignity of my style should profane a thing so sacred ; but to repeat my admiration of your genius and sublime wit, so comprehensive of the most abstracted appearances, and so admirable in your sex, or rather in your Grace's person alone, which I never call to mind but to rank it among the heroines, and constellate with the Graces I do, Madam, acknowledge my astonishment, and can hardly think too great of those souls who, resembling your Grace's, seem to be as it were wholly separate from matter, and to revolve nothing in their thoughts but universal ideas. For what of sublime and worthy in the nature of things does not your Grace comprehend and explain ?"
Evelyn's Diary fortunately enables us to gauge his sincerity and know the truth. There was published, immediately after the Duke's death, a folio volume of adulatory letters and poems of learned and distinguished persons, great Oxford and Cambridge Dons, Bishops in ease and posse, and philosophers like Hobbes and Henry More, who repaid with flattery friendship and hospitality. Granger, the biographical historian, who was quite capable of a biographer's enthusiasm, and Dr. Kippis, in his edition of the Biographica Britannica, judiciously correcting fulsome praises of the Duke and Duchess's biographer in the first edition of that work, have printed several extracts of the volume, to show the height of folly of which the Duke and Duchess's flatterers were
capable. I know no flattery, ancient or modern," says Granger, "that is in any degree comparable to it, except the deification of Augustus and the erection of altars to him in his lifetime." Kippis stigmatises the flatterers as "examples of talents mis- applied, of learning degraded by servility, and adulation deviat- ing into profaneness." It is strange to find Mr. Jenkins, an iconoclast, on the side of flattery against common-sense. "She has been termed by literary prigs the mad Duchess,'" says Mr. Jenkins. This is intended for Horace Walpole, who has given a very sensible account of the ducal pair, and from whom we may at least hear the other side. "Of all the riders of Pegasus, perhaps there has not been a more fantastic couple than his Grace and his faithful Duchess, who was never off her pillion. What a picture of foolish nobility was this stately poetic couple, retired to their own little domain, and intoxicating one another with circum- stantial flattery, on what was of consequence to no mortal but themselves." Mr. Jenkins, it is inconceivable why, has taken into his head that some bad poetry of the Duke's, which he prints, in praise of the Duchesa's writings, may be ironical. The Duke was too good and innocent to satirise his wife, whom, indeed, he idolised, and he was not clever enough for irony. There is a paper in the Connoisseur, written by the editors, Colman and Thornton, called "Female Poets riding Pegasus, a Vision," and the ladies dreamt of are the Duchess of Newcastle, Mrs. Philips (Ornda), Mrs. Belau, Mrs. Leapor of Brackley, Mrs. Barber of Ireland, and Mrs. Pilkington. Not a very illustrious group The Duchess, whether from rank or merit is not said, has precedence, and first mounts Pegasus. She recites part of her poem on "Mirth and Melancholy." "All the while," says the writer, "that these lines were repeating, Milton seemed very much chagrined ; and it was whispered by some that he was obliged for many of the thoughts in his L'Allegro and 11 Penseroso to this lady's dialogue between Mirth and Melancholy." We can excuse Milton's ghost for being annoyed on hearing such whispers, but his "clear spirit" would have known that L'Allegro and 11 Penseroso were both written before 1645, when the Duchess of Newcastle was a young, trembling maid of honour to the Queen, and had not yet discovered her talent of writing. The Connoisseur paper cannot be considered a great, hardly a serious, eulogy. Yet on this paper inferences of fame and merit are founded, and to justify himself, when he evi- dently sees that justification is wanted, Mr. Jenkins turns Milton cleverly to account. He has probably discovered the anachronism 'which traced thoughts of L'Allegro and 11 Penseroso to the Duchess of Newcastle's poem, but he observes that "it is not too much to say that it rivals in their particular line L'Allegro and 1.1 Penseroso." As well might it be said that it rivals Paradise Lost, or that there is resemblance in the Duke and Duchess's foolish plays to Shakespeare's. The autobiography printed in this new volume of the Golden Treasury is interesting and quaint, and written in a subdued style for the Duchess; but it can bear no comparison with Lady Fanshawe's Memoirs, yet very insufficiently known to the public, and if Mr. Jenkins were bent on presenting a model Cavalier and his lady, he would have found, we think, far better material in Anne, Lady Fanshawe, and her accomplished husband, the translator of the Lusiad of Carnoens and It Pastor Fido of Guarini. And again, if he is not indissolubly wedded to the old Cavaliers, we cannot but think that the "Golden Treasury Series" would have been really enriched by. the reprint of Lucy H.utchinson's Memoirs—which have won the public heart—of her manly and sensible Roundhead husband.- The Duchess of Newcastle's autobiography occupies but five-and- forty pages of the volume, which is padded out with poor poetry of Duke and Duchess, with insipid extracts from the Duchess's. letters, and with aphorisms and allegories, of which, without. Mr. Jenkins's eye-glasses, we cannot see the special merit. The Duchess's turn of mind was not at all aphoristical, nor the soul of her wit brevity. The enterprising publishers- of the " Golden-Treasury Series" have been great public benefactors, and the reputation of that series is of national interest. We regret to see an inferior work in a series which has been adorned and made celebrated by the admirable collections of Messrs. Palgrave and Coventry Patmore and Sir Rouudell Palmer_ Mr. J. Russell Smith has been altogether justified in reprinting the Duchess's autobiography with the life of her husband ; they are both interesting and amusing, but not models of literary excellence, or even sobriety.