This paper investigates the experiences of Anne Clifford (1590–1676) with three controversial books: the anonymous libel known as Leicester’s Commonwealth; the Jesuit Robert Parsons’ Resolution (and its Protestant adaptation by Edward Bunny); and François De Sales’ Introduction to a Devout Life. Clifford’s unorthodox choice of reading material in these cases appears to jar with ideas about what an early modern woman — loyal to the Church of England and to the state, even through the political and religious uproar of England’s civil wars — could, would, or did read: all three titles were “popish,” one was seditious, and two saw many copies burned before Clifford obtained her own. Evidence for Clifford’s reading of these works is set in the context of her own wider habits and circumstances to understand her motives for attending to such seemingly controversial materials. The paper concludes that Clifford’s attention to these books does not likely reflect any divergence from her avowed orthodoxy, and unveils the likelihood of other motives for her engagement, such as genealogical research.
Le présent article se penche sur l’effet de trois livres controversés sur Anne Clifford (1590-1676) : le libelle anonyme connu sous le nom de Leicester’s Commonwealth; Resolution du jésuite Robert Parsons (et son adaptation protestante d’Edward Bunny); et Introduction à la vie dévote de François de Sales. Le choix de lectures peu orthodoxe de Clifford semble s’écarter de l’idée de ce qu’une femme du début des temps modernes — qui était fidèle à l’Église et à l’État d’Angleterre, même pendant les tollés politiques et religieux des guerres civiles anglaises — pouvait lire, devait lire ou lisait : les trois titres étaient « papistes », l’un était séditieux, et bien des exemplaires de deux des ouvrages ont été brûlés avant même que Clifford ne puisse mettre la main sur l’un d’eux. Les sources montrant que Clifford a lu ces ouvrages sont présentées dans le contexte de ses propres grandes habitudes et de sa situation en vue de comprendre son intérêt pour ce matériel soi-disant aussi controversé. L’article conclut que l’attention portée par Clifford à ces livres n’est pas un signe d’éloignement à son orthodoxie avouée, mais il révèle la probabilité de motifs autres, telle la recherche généalogique.
Corps de l’article
Anne Clifford (1590–1676), countess of Pembroke, Dorset, and Montgomery, read a great deal over a long lifetime spent entirely within England’s borders; and by reading books from beyond those borders — both geographical and ideological — Clifford’s intellectual world was opened to matters that might not otherwise have come within her ken. Among such books were three notable titles that moved north from France before finding themselves in Clifford’s hands. These were the anonymous libel most often called Leicester’s Commonwealth; the Jesuit devotional treatise known as Parsons’ Resolution; and François De Sales’ Introduction to a Devout Life. Sometime after their arrival in England, all three met with hostile receptions that led to their confiscation and subsequent covert circulation. Clifford’s choice of such apparently subversive reading material jars with some long-standing prejudices about what an orthodox early modern English woman could, would, or did read, since all three titles were “popish” in origin and often in intent, at least one was distinctly seditious, and two were banned and saw many copies burned before Clifford obtained her own. Some of the wider possibilities of early modern women’s reading practices across intellectual borders may therefore be illuminated by examining these books in conjunction with this particular reader.
The evidence of Clifford’s encounters with these and other books, controversial and otherwise, presents a valuable case study primarily because such a remarkable amount is known about her personal circumstances, owing both to her social prominence and her extensive surviving life-writings. Texts by, about, and owned by Clifford provide a significant if scattered record of her great variety of experiences as a reader, which I am elsewhere attempting to document and represent as fully as possible. This paper therefore aims to contextualize the “popish” books Clifford read within her broader habits, values, and motives as a reader. Here, I only have space to consider elements of the content and contemporary reception of selected items as a basis for inferring what led Clifford to attend to such controversial materials and to leave a record of her encounters with them. This paper, as an element of my larger project, aims to transform errant data into a rich account of a single historical figure’s lifetime of reading in order to enhance our understanding of early modern women’s experiences of literacy, the problematic nature of historical evidence for reading, the dovetailing of institutions and individuals at the nexus of a read text, and the meanings that may arise from books which form a unique corpus owing to their shared treatment by a single known reader.
While the evidence for Clifford’s engagement with the “popish” books in question is slight, it is part of the burden of this paper to suggest that, when studying early modern women’s reading, no evidence should be dismissed on that basis. The historiography of reading, after all, is no criminal court with an evidentiary bar beneath which cases should be dismissed. Since evidence for the reading of early modern women is much harder to locate than that for their male contemporaries — owing to factors such as the asymmetrical gendering of phenomena ranging from educational opportunities to property laws — any amount of proof matters disproportionately more than it might in better circumstances. With this in mind, my argument takes up the counsel of Heidi Brayman Hackel and Catherine E. Kelly who note that the documentation of feminine reading habits in this period and place differs, both in quantity and kind, from that for men, such that scholars in the field must “think creatively about sources and evidence.” In my full study of Clifford’s reading, evidence is accordingly drawn from sources situated along a spectrum of reliability, from unassailable marginalia in copies once owned by Clifford to intertextual allusions that may be detected in Clifford’s writings, as well as the names of authors and titles painted on books portrayed in The Great Picture, a massive triptych Clifford commissioned and displayed for a quarter of a century in two of her places of residence. I do not mean to debate that a bit of paint can guarantee that Clifford actually read all the tomes represented; but it does tell us that she was acquainted with those texts and willing to associate herself with them in a fashion that was extraordinarily public, given the number and variety of Clifford’s visitors. Such proof, if treated with care, can reveal much we would not otherwise learn. As in earlier feminist recoveries of women’s writing, in the history of reading it is equally important to marshal whatever evidence has so far survived the predations of time and patriarchy. In my larger project on Clifford, the range of evidence for her reading will be assessed for what it can and cannot tell us about the uses of reading and meanings of texts available to a particular reader at a time when the development of women’s literacy was becoming a shaping cultural and economic force. The present article is a necessary, if preliminary, step in that direction. It begins by outlining pertinent biographical details and the corpus of evidence for Clifford’s reading — especially of controversial materials — before examining her encounters with three banned Catholic texts and her motives for reading them when and as she did.
Biographical and Evidentiary Background
The story of Anne Clifford’s life has, over the last quarter century, become relatively well known. Born in 1590 to George Clifford (1558–1605) and Margaret Russell (1560–1616), respectively the earl and countess of Cumberland, Clifford survived two brothers to remain an only child. From the age of 15, when her father died, she became involved in lawsuits instigated by her mother who sought to overturn her estranged husband’s will, which excluded their daughter from inheriting considerable lands and titles in favour of the male line; the estates would, by the terms of this will, revert to Clifford only if that line, beginning with her paternal uncle, failed. After years of effort and upon her mother’s death, the cause was decided against Clifford; but in 1643 she nonetheless inherited the disputed estates upon the death of her last male cousin. From then until her death at the age of 86, Clifford actively led the management of these interests, not least by building and rebuilding half a dozen castles and at least as many churches, almshouses, schools, bridges, and mills in northern England. More relevant here is the fact that in the midst of these energetic endeavours, Clifford also devoted a great deal of time and care to reading, as considerable proof suggests she always had done.
While Clifford’s library does not survive intact, her reading is attested by evidence that is remarkably extensive for a woman in early modern England; perhaps for this reason, it has been of interest at least since her eulogy was prepared by the Bishop of Carlisle, Edward Rainbowe. In her own diaries, memoirs, and letters too, Clifford mentions reading (or listening to others read to her) several dozen identifiable printed books and other documents, not least the letters to which she was often replying in her own letters, many of which survive with endorsements in her hand. A few association copies (volumes once owned by Clifford) — including Philip Sidney’s Arcadia, which in a diary she mentions “hearing” read — are dispersed in public and private collections; a number are annotated, some quite thoroughly, either in her hand or her voice as it was captured by scribes, whose hands are often identifiable with particular household officers. Some diary references and association copies also match titles in The Great Picture, in which two depictions of Clifford — one teenaged and one middle-aged, in the left and right panels, respectively — stand surrounded by the representation of four dozen legibly identified books. The painting’s two distinct virtual libraries proffer a tantalizing, if obviously inexact, perspective on Clifford’s actual reading; but cross-references among painted titles, her writings, and association copies corroborate the probative value of both portrait and self-reportage, even if neither can offer the definitive insights of marginalia. Financial accounts from Clifford’s northern estates (which, since they are signed by her, also belong to her reading experience) itemize some books she bought, although, of course, books bought are not always read by their buyers, and Clifford was in the habit of distributing books to her servants for their spiritual edification. The manuscript compilation known as the Great Books of Record (comprising three sets of three large volumes of genealogical records and biographies of her ancestors, as well as autobiographical accounts, both summative and annual) was completed under Clifford’s supervision, with many marginal notes evincing her critical reading of the volumes. The range of reading experiences preserved in such documents offers robust evidence for the growing historiography of early modern reading and women’s reading in particular. Yet the available evidence on Clifford, while well-known and periodically studied in various batches, has never been assembled and studied in-depth as a corpus.
Toward such a comprehensive study, I have found it helpful to bracket such of Clifford’s choices of reading material as appear to form a pattern: in the present case, of her engagement with books having origins, contents, and intentions that were overtly and indisputably offensive to many of her countrymen in her time. Clifford’s eulogist, however, provides a clue to the unobjectionable way in which Clifford approached other, similarly contentious texts:
Authors of several kinds of Learning, some of Controuersies very abstruse, were not unknown to her. She much commended one Book, William Barklay’s Dispute with Bellarmine, both, as she knew, of the Popish perswasion, but the former less Papal; and who, she said, had well stated a main Point, and opposed that Learned Cardinal, for giving too much power, even in Temporals, to the Pope, over Kings and Secular Princes ...
Here, Clifford’s interpretation of materials “of the Popish perswasion” appears altogether orthodox, since she values the work of the Catholic Barclay (1546–1608) not for his defence of his faith but for his refutation of another more ardent defender of it. Her orientation here is also toward the worldly side of the day’s politico-religious complex, in which she remained a staunch royalist all through the civil wars that divided England on the limits of monarchic power. Clifford was apparently interested in distinguishing among relatively fine degrees of ideological difference, and might have taken particular pleasure in finding arguments agreeable to her perspective expressed by those otherwise at odds with it.
Elsewhere, however, Clifford took up controversial Catholic books without overtly engaging with either their political or religious sensitivity. The William Barclay she commended above, for instance, fathered another author to whom Clifford responded to with gusto: John Barclay (1582–1621), whose Argenis (1621) was a Latin romance encoding an allegory of sixteenth-century French civil embroilments. Although taken up enthusiastically by both James I and Charles I, Argenis was informally banned from female eyes in England — not, however, before Clifford undertook a thorough reading of her copy, hot off the press in 1625. But her extensive marginalia show Clifford responding mildly, if at all, to its controversial aspect; as the scholar who has most closely studied its marginalia concludes, “the contemporary politics of the text do not seem to have especially attracted her. Rather, Clifford seems to have been primarily interested in the narrative itself and its moralizing rhetoric,” and perhaps even to have identified personally with its eponymous main character, an only child and a “spirited well-educated princess negotiating a perilous, male-dominated political realm.” Of course, in the cases of both the princess Argenis and lady Anne, the personal was always already political; to delimit Clifford’s reading as one or the other is to imagine distinctions less easily sustained in her experience of early modern England.
However breezily Clifford read her Barclay, she was alive to the perils of participating in the more divisive aspects of the textual culture of the day; so much is clear from a remark she makes in her diary about a book called Balaam’s Ass. In the first section below, I contextualize Clifford’s attention to this item — a work which so offended James I as to lead to its author’s execution — in relation to her related contention with the king. In the same diary that notices Balaam’s Ass, Clifford records reading two similarly if less lethally controversial books: Leicester’s Commonwealth and Parsons’ Resolution. These books were related both in provenance and subject, since Robert Dudley (1532/3–1588), the first earl of Leicester, was attacked both in the anonymous Commonwealth and in a contemporary pamphlet by Robert Parsons (1546–1610), his De Persecutione Anglicana (1582). By century’s end, moreover, Leicester’s Commonwealth was frequently attributed to Parsons, the day’s leading English Jesuit controversialist, who in 1581 had fled for safety to France; although he was not likely the book’s maker, he at least acted as its emissary into England by sending an agent from France with copies which were confiscated, while their bearer was imprisoned and interrogated.
In separate sections below, I examine Leicester’s Commonwealth and Parsons’ Resolution along with another Jesuit production at one point banned in England — François De Sales’ Introduction to a Devout Life — in order to understand what might have led a resolutely orthodox woman to take up such heterodox and even illicit works. In each case, I argue that the nature of the pertinent controversies had diminished by the time Clifford encountered the texts or in the editions she read, and that what motivated Clifford’s reading may have ranged from wholly orthodox spiritual purposes (with Parsons’ Resolution), to purely secular genealogical research (with Leicester’s Commonwealth), and possibly even, in the case of De Sales, mere nostalgia for or nosiness about the circumstances of a book’s production. Clifford’s attention to these “popish” works cannot, therefore, be seen as evidence of her interest in, let alone attachment to, Catholicism itself; instead, her reading appears to have had a diversity of motives that cannot be inferred from a text’s most obvious or notorious aspect. Clifford’s readings “of the Popish perswasion” were thus likely far “less Papal,” in the words of Bishop Rainbowe, than the Pope might have hoped.
The Trials of Balaam’s Asses
In reflecting on 3 May 1619, Clifford found just two events worthy of record in her diary. The first: “about two or three o’clock in the morning Sir Arthur Lake’s wife died, having been grievously tormented a long time with pains and sores which broke out in blotches so that it was commonly reported that she died of the French disease” — that is, of syphilis. The second event was as follows:
This day one Williams a lawyer was arraigned and condemned at the King’s Bench of treason and adjudged to be hanged, drawn and quartered for a certain book he had made and entitled Balaam’s ass, for which book one Mr Cotton was committed to the Tower and long time kept prisoner there upon a suspicion to have made it but of late he was gotten out upon bail and now well quitted. Williams being condemned was carried to Newgate and the 5th of this month was hanged, drawn and quartered, according to his sentence, at Charing Cross.
Clifford records this judicial killing (and Cotton’s near miss) almost in the same breath as her speculations upon a fellow gentlewoman’s fatal sexually transmitted disease. The juxtaposition shows that, while Clifford may fairly be remembered as a distinctly dry stylist, her appetite for scandal was typical enough. But her inclusion here — in an otherwise spare diary that is mainly attentive to the concerns and activities of her extended family and their peers — of an account of the mutilation and death of a controversial author shows that Clifford was acutely attuned to the dangers of writing, as of reading, the wrong things in Jacobean England.
The wrong thing in this case was directly aimed at James I — and in more than one sense, according to a contemporary letter-writer: “a scandalous, libellous book, entitled Balaam’s Ass, … was let fall in the gallery at Whitehall, bearing a subscription to the king.” According to Williams himself, he had enclosed his book in a box, so one can see how it made such an impact. Although I have not yet examined the manuscript, that fact does not affect this analysis of Clifford’s response to it, since nothing suggests that Clifford read beyond its title, either; so much did not, however, prevent her response. It is even possible that the book’s title — Balaam’s Asse, or A Free Discourse Touching the Murmurs and Fearefull Discontents of the Tyme — might prove its most illuminating aspect in the present argument: with its alliterated antitheses between freedom and fear, as between discourse and discontents, the title neatly emphasizes the book’s operation as a self-reflexive discourse about discourse, an example of free expression on the subject of free expression. The biblical story of Balaam’s ass, moreover (a story with which Clifford, as an avid Bible reader, would have been intimately familiar) clarifies the relationship between the alternative titles. The original ass is beaten by her rider for refusing to go where she is told, although it turns out that she disobeys for good reason: she sees, as the rider does not, God’s messenger blocking the way. Balaam, in the Bible, abuses the ass until the angel intervenes and begins, in turn, to abuse Balaam. In the allegory Williams developed, his Free Discourse is the beast of burden, while the blind rider is the king. As it turned out, Williams read (or prophesied, as he would have said) quite well: the king did proceed to abuse him and his discourse, although no evidence survives of angelic intervention. Also unlike the ass, Williams eventually apologized: according to the same letter-writer, before he was hanged, Williams “prayed for the king and prince, and said he was sorry he had written so saucily and unreverently, but pretended he had an inward warrant and particular illumination … which made him adventure so far.”
That Clifford should interest herself in Williams’ trial is an exception in the records she left of her daily life: it is the only trial of a commoner mentioned in the diaries, although titled figures come and go often enough to and from the Tower of London. To interpret what this trial meant for Clifford, it is important to understand that a considerable portion of her life-writings appear to have been shaped in order to document and narrate her own trials, judicial and personal, in relation to the inheritance claims she maintained. These trials included her own letting-fall of some surprisingly free discourse before the person of James I. On 18 January 1617, she records that she kneeled with her husband in the presence of the king as he “persuaded us both to peace and to put the matter [of the disputed inheritance] wholly into his hands” — to let him take the reins, as it were — “which my Lord consented to, but I beseeched His Majesty to pardon me for that I would never part with Westmorland while I lived upon any condition whatsoever. Sometimes he used fair means and persuasions, and sometimes foul means but I was resolved before so as nothing would move me.” Clifford’s donkey-like resolve, her refusal to “move” at another’s behest, has long and often been regarded as her hallmark trait. Acheson characterizes her in terms that echo Williams’ humbly boastful self-characterization above: “Clifford stands out as … indubitably and even aggressively bold in her depiction of herself as the one who has been trusted to deliver certain truths to her people.” Clifford’s sense of herself as a solitary prophet is illustrated by the fact that, two days after the scene at court described above, even after all pertinent male relations (uncle, cousin, and husband) had agreed to the king’s demand for submission, Clifford remained the lone hold-out. She defied the king, as the ass did Balaam, and likewise saw her behaviour as divinely directed: she adds in a smug postscript, “This day I may say I was led miraculously by God’s providence.” Even so, Clifford might well have seen in Williams’ case some allusion to the danger she had courted in defying the king with her free discourse; yet her cognizance of the limits and dangers of such freedom and such discourse did not stop her from hearing, before the end of the same year, a cover-to-cover recitation of another book that had seditiously courted a monarch’s displeasure.
Clifford’s Leicester’s Commonwealth
In her first diary entry for December of 1619, Clifford notes that “Upon the 2nd Wat Conniston [her attendant] made an end of reading a book called Leicester’s Commonwealth in which there are many things of the Queen of Scots concerning her arraignment and her death which was all read to me.” Clifford’s distinctive phrase — “made an end of reading” — is her typical way of describing reading a book through, as in this case appears to be confirmed by her conclusion that it was “all read” to her. That Clifford did not dip into and skip discontinuously among passages but listened to the book from start to finish makes it all the more puzzling that she recalls the Commonwealth primarily for details of the trial and execution of Mary Stuart (1542–1587). It neither contains any such details, nor could it, since the book was first printed in 1584, some years before those events took place. One explanation for Clifford’s mistake might be that, if she at some later point edited her diary to yield the copy that survives, she added material based on a faulty memory. Alternatively, perhaps Conniston, at another time, read a different text featuring the details she associates with Leicester’s Commonwealth; after all, she herself records Conniston reading more than one lengthy tome aloud, so the mistake might arise from blurring similar occasions. A third possibility is that Conniston interpellated remarks regarding Mary Stuart’s trial and execution into their discussion of the text and Clifford’s memory of the book became imbricated with these unscripted interjections. Finally, Clifford could have heard a manuscript featuring the pertinent additions, although its modern editor, who has examined variants in 58 manuscripts, knows no such version.
The oddity of Clifford’s characterization of the work, which has not to my knowledge been noted elsewhere, testifies to the challenges of working even with such fragmentary evidence as remains of the historical experience of reading. Whatever the explanation, though, it is unlikely that her misleading remark should be taken to indicate that Clifford at no point heard a recital of Leicester’s Commonwealth. Uncertainty about the rationale for her remark need not lead to scepticism about its authenticity, since Clifford could hardly have used the nickname of such a notorious tract in error. She must have been at least as familiar with it as were her contemporaries, many of whom became well-versed in its scurrility in the decades following its initial publication; its editor has characterized it as “one of the most entertaining pieces of defamatory writing ever seen in English,” which rapidly achieved widespread popularity despite successive bans, and which accomplished at least one of its aims in lastingly tarnishing the reputation of Robert Dudley.
When the book first appeared, Dudley had long been known and widely resented for his precipitous elevation to an earldom based on the favouritism of Elizabeth I; he was also hated by some, especially Catholics, for informally leading the Puritan faction that had become so active in Elizabethan political culture. Although the book was perhaps best loved for the sheer nastiness of its slander, another of its broader aims was, somewhat incompatibly, to improve the toleration of English recusants (those covertly loyal to the Catholic church after the Elizabethan church settlement) by means of rational arguments that appear utterly at odds with its rabid libels. The book had, however, a third goal: to advance the Stuart claim to England’s throne when the succession had yet to be resolved. By 1619, with James Stuart long on the throne, the argument was moot; but Clifford, by 1619, could have felt little personal fondness for that family’s rule, not least since James I had so conclusively dismissed her claims for her own inheritance. More generally, she and other members of her clan had received from the Stuart court less favourable treatment than what they had anticipated and hoped for. As Clifford noted in her 1603 memoir, Elizabeth I intended her for a lady-in-waiting, but this destiny was not fulfilled after the regime change, and she alleges that she was not alone in such disappointment, with “every man,” according to Clifford, “expecting mountains and finding molehills” in the new Stuart court. Moreover, she adds with quiet but incisive hostility, “we all saw a great change between the fashion of the court as it is now, and of that in the Queen’s, for we were all lousy by sitting in Sir Thomas Erskine’s chamber” — that is, she and her peers were infested with lice from associating with one of the king’s favourites. Clifford may thus have indulged her personal resentment of the Stuarts by enjoying the recitation of a tract that connected support for that regime with the treacherous heresy of its Roman Catholic authors — the very sort of heresy with which James, too, was at times associated by Puritan critics. That Clifford read the tract from this jaded perspective seems supported by the error embedded in her record of the experience, that is, in her mistaken memory of the book as featuring the trial and execution of the king’s Catholic mother for treason against Elizabeth I.
Clifford may also, or instead, have taken far less controversial interest in the book, as with her engagement with Barclay’s Argenis half a dozen years later. Robert Dudley was, after all, a family relation (with Clifford’s maternal aunt being married to his older brother, Ambrose) who had arranged for her own parents’ ill-fated marriage; Clifford’s immediate ancestors, moreover, feature briefly in the tract. Her attention may thus have been primarily genealogical — which is not, however, to say that it was therefore uncontroversial, since Clifford’s tracking of her ancestry played a significant role in her claim to her father’s lands. Genealogy was one of Clifford’s most significant life-long interests, as appears both in adjacent diary entries to the reference to Leicester’s Commonwealth and, writ large, in her manuscript Great Books of Record. Even if it was Clifford’s familial historiography that impelled her to read even scurrilous reports of her relations, her erroneous characterization of the book’s focus on Mary Stuart’s fate suggests that her attention to the book was also stimulated by other motives. Even then, though, that motivation could still be said to have been based on her single-minded obsession with matters of familial inheritance.
Clifford’s, Parsons’, and Bunny’s Resolutions
About six months prior to listening to Leicester’s Commonwealth, Clifford made a note parallel to her entries for June 1619: “About this time my cousin Mary made an end of reading Parsons’ resolution and Burney’s resolution all over to me.” The phrase “made an end” again implies that Clifford absorbed the material in question from start to finish. As often with Clifford’s reading material, including Leicester’s Commonwealth, a familial connection may be discerned: when Parsons left Oxford to study medicine in Italy, he may have been patronized by Thomas Sackville (1536–1608), grandfather of Clifford’s first husband and author of some of the best-known parts of A Mirovr for Magistrates, another book Clifford owned and read. Again as with Leicester’s Commonwealth, a suggestive link may be made with the tricky transition from Tudor to Stuart rule, since Parsons was at one time seriously involved in continental plans to invade England and replace Elizabeth with either Mary Stuart or her son James. Parsons spent his later life in France after narrowly escaping the fate of his fellow Jesuit Edmund Campion, who was executed by English authorities for treason.
The book known as Parsons’ Resolution (1582), which simplified Jesuit spiritual exercises for lay readers, was its author’s most influential work; while the author’s other plans to subvert the English state failed, his prose was comparatively effective in converting readers to his cause. To counter the book’s effects on the English, the Calvinist cleric Edmund Bunny responded with a 1584 adaptation in which he assiduously eliminated all Catholic phrasing and thinking. Parsons, appalled, stopped the presses on his 1585 edition to insert a passage railing against Bunny’s “infinite corruptions, maymes, and ma[u]lings” and ramp up the Catholic elements to prevent their being bent to Anglican purposes. In 1589, Bunny dismissed Parsons’ objections in another elaboration of the original text with Bunny’s additions. It is not possible to know, based on her brief report, which version of these texts Clifford heard in 1619, since they appeared in print again and again over many decades in various versions. But Clifford was clearly — again, as with her choice of Leicester’s Commonwealth — far from alone in perusing this border-crossing book, with its authors shouting at each other across the Channel.
While the writers may have been at loggerheads, Bunny did at least attempt to bridge the intellectual border between them with what has been described as “among the first of the protestant controversial works to allow that the Church of Rome was indeed a true church.” Clifford was well positioned to appreciate such a tolerant position, since recusancy remained at its highest in England among the nobility, particularly in the north where Clifford had her most substantial roots and insistently saw her future. Clifford may even for some time have entertained conversion, since she wrote in her diary with respect to August 1617, “About this time I began to think much of religion and do persuade myself that this religion in which my mother brought me up is the true and undoubted religion so as I am steadfastly purposed never to be a papist.”  That Clifford felt the need to “think much” and “persuade” herself of such matters suggests she had been less steadfastly purposed before this period of contemplation, which concluded with so emphatic a declaration in favour of her mother’s Calvinist-tinted allegiance to the Church of England. If Clifford’s purpose subsequently held, as it appears to have done, then its very steadfastness might explain why she felt no compunction about studying such potentially divisive material in 1619, and doing so with a female cousin rather than with the tacit sanction offered by masculine supervision such as that Wat Conniston provided in reciting Leicester’s Commonwealth. But there is one important difference between that “popish” book and this one: while Leicester’s Commonwealth offered unmitigated sedition, aimed at bringing about Catholic rule in England, Parsons’ papistry reached Clifford only in conjunction with Bunny’s buffered version, which she represents, in her phrasing, as a separate text available for detached, perhaps studious, comparison: “Parson’s resolution and Burney’s resolution.” Bunny, on paper, could thus have served as the authorizing male reader elsewhere found in Clifford’s flesh-and-blood servants.
Clifford’s Introduction to a Devout Life
As with Leicester’s Commonwealth, Clifford read the final border- crossing book of interest here with support from masculine members of the household. Unlike with the other controversial works examined here, however, evidence of her reading François De Sales’ Introduction to a Devout Life appears solely in a list of “Memoranda” appended to an early twentieth-century biography after the main text had been typeset. Of his late-breaking find, the author remarks,
At Bill Hill [a country house in Berkshire] in the Library is one of the books that belonged to Lady Anne. It is St. Francis de Sales’ Introduction to a Devout Life 1648, bound in red Morocco and contains the following inscription. ‘This Book was begun to be read to your Ladyship in Brougham Castle the 9 day of March, 1664–1665 by Messrs Geo. Sedgwick, Thos. Strickland and John Taylor. And they made an end of reading it to you in the same Castle the 15th day of the same month.’
The copy has since vanished from view; it is neither at Bill Hill, which has changed owners, nor traced by any other catalogue, record, or person I have consulted. The authenticity of the inscription, however, is supported by echoes in the phrasing of similar notes in other association copies, none of which Williamson appears to have seen: Clifford’s copies of Sidney’s Arcadia (1605), A Mirovr for Magistrates (1610), Barclay’s Argenis (1625), and Selden’s Titles of Honor (1631) each feature a similarly precise inscription with respect to when, and often where, Clifford’s reading began and ended and by whom it was conducted. There is little reason to doubt Williamson read what he did, even if we cannot do so now.
The 1648 edition of De Sales that Clifford read survives in few copies, a fact that may reflect continued controversy around the title a decade after a different version was called in by the king to be “publikely burnt” for its brazen inclusion of Catholic doctrine. The book correlates with Parsons’ Resolution in its controversialist nature in several ways: the author was a Jesuit proffering spiritual advice; the first English version appeared in France; it rapidly found success through many editions; and, as a religious work, it participated in the best-selling genre of the time. It was also, like Parsons’ book, one of the many early modern Catholic works adapted freely by and for Protestants. But Clifford’s 1648 edition was different from its earlier English appearances in print, since it had been re-translated for greater fidelity to the original by English Jesuits on the continent, as is proudly declared on the title page: the book is Set Forth by the English Priests of Tourney Colledge at Paris. While it might not be surprising that Clifford did not read the confiscated 1637 edition, it does seem odd that someone of her declared steadfast Protestantism should not choose one of the seventeenth-century versions adapted to suit that faith, as with Bunny’s treatment of Parson’s Resolution. The fact that Clifford’s version was openly “popish,” however, might explain why not one but three male readers read it with her. Then again, they may well have read it in sequence rather than acting as a supervisory committee; these were, after all, secular household officers, hardly possessed of the authority of the chaplain required during her Bible-reading days at Knole.
If we cannot know what led Clifford to read in the 1660s a book banned and burned almost a generation earlier, we can infer how she might have become aware of the title in the first place, and through that inference contextualize her choice of reading material. Clifford’s second husband, Philip Herbert (1584–1650), the earl of Pembroke and Montgomery, was closely involved in the events that led to the prohibition of the 1637 translation. According to the Puritan William Prynne (1600–1679), Pembroke had been among the courtiers who had first complained of the book’s uncensored papistry; the complaint, coming when it did, resonated such that the book “would become an item (albeit a small one) in a succession of events in the later 1630s that desperately worried English Protestants, who became increasingly convinced that the court was strongly promoting Catholicism.” Although Clifford was estranged from her husband by 1637, her recollection of his involvement in the title’s confiscation and the surrounding atmosphere of scandal could not but have affected her response to the book. Unless the copy Clifford annotated reappears, it will remain unclear, however, as to why she chose to consult an edition reworked by Jesuits when she might have turned to a Protestant adaptation in better keeping with her own religious principles.
How did Clifford read her “popish” books? When she turned such pages, did Clifford experience the frisson of entering forbidden ground, or was it more like looking at your great-grandfather’s pin-ups? In trying to determine how Clifford approached these texts, it is worth remembering that a book banned in one generation might be bland in the next, as may have been the case by the time Clifford took up her copy of De Sales’ Devout Life. Book bans are apt to have a half-life, however: even once they have lost their teeth, they continue (if in a decreasingly dramatic fashion) to inform how readers respond to the books in question. In sum, though, the evidence above suggests that to read books banned and burned is not to break the same rules that the books in question did, intentionally or otherwise. A controversial book may, after all, be read for quite straightforward reasons: a characteristic bout of genealogical research, for instance, adequately rationalizes Clifford’s turn to Leicester’s Commonwealth at a point when her obsession with family history was taking hold. Familial connections, indeed, can account for Clifford’s encounters with all “popish” texts considered here: Leicester’s Commonwealth portrayed her relatives, Robert Parsons may have been sponsored by her grandfather-in-law, and Devout Life was publicly condemned by her second husband. On the other hand, even familial connections and genealogical research have their own ideological force, as in Clifford’s contentious response to another of her many reading materials: her father’s gendered will.
Evidence of Clifford’s determined character and staunch intellectual commitments — such as Rainbowe’s repetition of her defence of the moderately popish William Barclay against the more extreme cardinal Bellarmine and her own resolution “never to be a papist” — suggests Clifford was sufficiently confident of her views to peruse authors holding very different ones, including views offensive to the church and state to which she was (despite her dispute with James I) continuously and emphatically loyal. The fact that Protestants were generally accustomed to appropriating and adapting Catholic works (which is one way to describe the Reformation), as in Bunny’s Resolution and various editions of De Sales’ Devout Life, would have helped to ease her uptake of such works. For this reason, adaptation theory might help to extend the interpretation of such interconfessional texts, just as the historiography of censorship might in turn contribute usefully to adaptation studies.
Unless her annotated copy is found, however, no one can state conclusively if Clifford turned to Leicester’s Commonwealth, for instance, with an eye to its salacious gossip or her own familial historiography; but on balance it appears that her approach to such contentious materials was probably less than controversial. It is salient that Clifford heard a recitation of the seditious Commonwealth some decades after its ban, long after its major players were dead, while Parsons’ work was perhaps less popish than Protestant in the version she encountered, and De Sales’ book might have been sufficiently neutered by prior Protestant adaptations. No evidence suggests that Clifford’s attention to these books reflected her divergence from her avowed orthodoxy. Instead, her willingness to read works infused with risk and challenge might confirm the untroubled state of her faith, as she characterized it in August of 1617: she sensed no danger of being taken in. Such confidence is, moreover, of a piece with what is generally understood of Clifford’s resolute nature. Like Balaam’s admirable ass, she felt she saw what others could not, and so proved herself an extremely critical reader of everything from her father’s will to the king’s ruling that eventually confirmed it. Although her copies of Leicester’s Commonwealth, Parsons’ (and Bunny’s) Resolution, and De Sales’ Devout Life may have disappeared, there is every reason to suspect that she was just as resistant a reader of these three books as well.
LEAH KNIGHT is Associate Professor of Early Modern Non-Dramatic Literature in the Department of English Language and Literature at Brock University, where she is pursuing a SSHRC-funded study of Anne Clifford’s lifetime of reading experiences. She is the author of the award-winning Of Books and Botany in Early Modern England: Sixteenth-Century Plants and Print Culture (2009) and, most recently, Reading Green in Early Modern England (2014).
Heidi Brayman Hackel and Catherine E. Kelly, “Introduction” in Reading Women: Literacy, Authorship, and Culture in the Atlantic World, 1500–1800, ed. Heidi Brayman Hackel and Catherine E. Kelly (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2008), 3.
Attributed to Jan van Belcamp, The Great Picture Triptych, 1646. Oil on canvas. Centre panel: 254 x 254 cm., side panels: 254 x 119.38 cm. Abbot Hall, Kendal, UK.
As an estimate of the public nature of Clifford’s home, one might note that in a single month (January of 1676), Clifford was by her own account visited at Brougham Castle by at least 49 people: Mrs. Winch, Thomas Gabetis with his wife and servants (including one Thomas Whaley), George Sedgwick, Edward Hasell, Henry Machell, Samuel Grasty, William Spedding with his wife, Jeffrey Bleamire with his son, Lancelott Machell, Thomas Wright, Mr. Bracken, Richard Lowers, James Buchanan with his son, John Webster with his sons, William Musgrave, Robert Willison, Hugh Wharton, George Goodgion, Thomas Samford’s wife and son, Dr. Smallwood’s wife and son and daughter, Jane Carlton, John Gilmoor with his man William Labourn, Elizabeth Atkinson, Thomas Burbeck with his wife, daughter, and mother, Mr. Cattrick with his wife, Robert Carlton, James Bird, Richard Pinder, Charles Crow, Robert Hilton, John Bradford, Mrs Saul, John Twentyman. These people are variously identified by Clifford as sheriff, parsons, farmers, brewer, painter, housekeeper, judge, postmaster, keeper, attorney, and gardener. Many visited Clifford numerous times in the course of this month. D. J. H. Clifford, ed., The Diaries of Lady Anne Clifford (Sutton, 1990; rev. ed. Sutton, 2003; rpt. Stroud, UK: History Press, 2009), 239–54.
Hackel and Kelly, op. cit., 2.
Two book-length biographies exist: see George F. Williamson, Lady Anne Clifford, Countess of Dorset, Pembroke & Montgomery, 1590–1676: Her Life, Letters and Work (Kendal, UK: Titus Wilson, 1922; repr. Wakefield, UK: S.R. Publishers, 1967), and Richard T. Spence, Lady Anne Clifford, Countess of Pembroke, Dorset and Montgomery (1590–1676) (Stroud, UK: Sutton, 1997).
The eulogy was printed as A Sermon Preached at the Funeral of the Right Honorable Anne, Countess of Pembroke, Dorset, and Montgomery (London, 1677); for Rainbowe’s take on Clifford’s reading, see 33–5, 38–40, 52, 61–3, 66. Clifford’s subsequent biographers have also commented on her reading: see George F. Williamson, op. cit., 340–5, and Richard T. Spence, op. cit., 186–94. Analysis of Clifford’s reading that has been helpfully informed by feminist scholarship began with Mary Ellen Lamb’s “The Agency of the Split Subject: Lady Anne Clifford and the Uses of Reading,” English Literary Renaissance 22 (1992): 347–68. Shortly afterward, Katherine O. Acheson published The Diary of Anne Clifford, 1616–1619: A Critical Edition (New York: Garland, 1995), followed a decade later by The Memoir of 1603 and the Diary of 1616–1619 (Peterborough, ON: Broadview, 2007); each edition features numerous annotations on the texts Clifford says she read. In the wake of Lamb’s investigation and the appearance of Acheson’s editions, treatments of Clifford’s reading have consisted mainly of studies of individual or small groups of books Clifford is understood to have read. These include Stephen Orgel, “Marginal Maternity: Reading Lady Anne Clifford’s Mirror for Magistrates” in Printing and Parenting in Early Modern England, ed. Douglas Brooks (Aldershot, UK: Ashgate, 2004), 245–65; see also Stephen Orgel, “Reading Lady Anne Clifford’s A Mirovr for Magistrates” in Lady Anne Clifford: Culture, Patronage and Gender in 17th-Century Britain, eds. Karen Hearn and Lynn Hulse (Leeds: Yorkshire Archaeological Society, 2009), 109–16; Paul Salzman, “Anne Clifford’s Annotated Copy of Sidney’s Arcadia,” Notes and Queries 56.4 (2009): 554–5; Julie Crawford, “Lady Anne Clifford and the Uses of Christian Warfare” in English Women, Religion, and Textual Production, 1500–1625, ed. Micheline White (Farnham, UK: Ashgate, 2011), 101–23; Michelle M. Dowd, “‘Order Plays the Soul’: Anne Clifford, The Temple, and the Spiritual Logic of Housework” in George Herbert’s Travels: International Print and Cultural Legacies, ed. Christopher Hodgkins (Newark: University of Delaware Press, 2011), 59–77; and Georgianna Ziegler, “Lady Anne Clifford Reads John Selden,” unpublished conference paper delivered at the Renaissance Society of America, 2011, shared through private correspondence, 22 June 2011. Broader studies of Clifford’s reading have been undertaken by Heidi Brayman Hackel, Reading Material in Early Modern England: Print, Gender, and Literacy (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005), 222–40, and “Turning to her ‘Best Companion[s]’: Lady Anne Clifford as Reader, Annotator and Book Collector” in Lady Anne Clifford: Culture, Patronage and Gender in 17th-Century Britain, ed. Karen Hearn and Lynn Hulse (Leeds: Yorkshire Archaeological Society, 2009), 99–108. This paper’s scope leads me to include only work most pertinent to her reading.
For examples of Clifford’s correspondence, see Cumbria Archive Centre, Kendal, UK, WD HOTH/3/44/6/14. What is usually called Clifford’s diary offers a selectively day-by-day account, along with marginalia added at a later date, for the years 1616, 1617, and 1619. The text survives only in eighteenth-century copies; for the bibliography, see Katherine O. Acheson, “A Note on The Text” in The Memoir of 1603 and The Diary of 1616–1619, op. cit., 37–40 and “Introduction” in The Diary of Anne Clifford 1616–1619, op. cit., 17–29.
For Clifford hearing a reading of Arcadia, see Acheson (2007), op. cit., 145. Examples among Clifford’s annotated association copies which I have examined include Philip Sidney’s The Countesse of Pembrokes Arcadia (London, 1605), at the Bodleian Library, J-J Sidney 13; John Barclay’s Argenis: Or, The Loues of Poliarchus and Argenis, trans. Kingesmill Long (London, 1625), at the Huntington Library, CSmH RB 97024; and John Selden’s Titles of Honor (London, 1631), at the Folger Shakespeare Library, Folio STC 22178, copy 3. For Clifford’s reading of Arcadia, see Acheson (2007), op. cit., 145.
Treatments of Clifford’s books in The Great Picture include Graham Parry, “The Great Picture of Lady Anne Clifford” in Art and Patronage in the Caroline Courts, ed. David Howarth (Cambridge: University of Cambridge Press, 1993), 202–19, and Nigel Wheale, Writing and Society: Literacy, Print, and Politics in Britain 1590–1660 (London: Routledge, 1999), 116–31. See also George C. Williamson, “The Great Picture at Appleby Castle,” op. cit., 334–45 and Richard T. Spence, “History and Legitimacy Proclaimed: The Visual Displays,” op. cit., 181–203.
For Clifford’s references to reading several titles identified in The Great Picture, see Acheson (2007), op. cit., 99, 117, 145, 159, 179 (on Michel de Montaigne’s essays, Edmund Spenser’s The Faerie Queene, Philip Sidney’s Arcadia, St. Augustine’s City of God, and Ovid’s Metamorphoses). The Great Picture features Barclay’s Argenis and Sidney’s Arcadia (of which her copies may be found in the Huntington and Bodleian, op. cit., respectively.)
On Clifford’s distribution of devotional books, see Rainbowe, op. cit., 33–4. For Clifford’s account books, see Yale University, Beinecke Library, Osborne MS B27, 1600–02; Cumbria Archive Centre, Kendal, UK, WD HOTH/A988/17, 1665, 1667–8; and University of Sydney, Supplementary MS.074, 1675.
Cumbria Archive Centre, Kendal, UK, WD HOTH/1/10 (from Appleby Castle); WD HOTH (from Skipton Castle); WD/CAT 16 (thought to be descended from Sir Matthew Hale). The first complete edition is forthcoming from Jessica L. Malay: Anne Clifford’s Great Books of Record (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2015).
Early modern women’s reading is a burgeoning field within the historiography of reading, itself a subset of book history and studies of book culture. Hackel’s Reading Material in Early Modern England: Print, Gender, and Literacy, op. cit., has done much to transform the field and stimulated my understanding of the uniquely wide range of evidence available for Clifford’s reading; see also Hackel’s work with co-editor Kelly’s in Reading Women: Literacy, Authorship, and Culture in the Atlantic World, 1500–1800, op. cit. Edith Snook’s Women, Reading, and the Cultural Politics of Early Modern England (Aldershot, UK: Ashgate, 2005) offers over half a dozen in-depth case studies of particular readers (including a brief treatment of Clifford, 1–4) across a variety of ranks and occupations. For much earlier work based less on the material evidence of historical readers than on the evidence of fictional representations, dedications, and prescriptions in conduct books, see Louis B. Wright, “The Reading of Renaissance English Women,” Studies in Philology 28.4 (1931): 671–88. Suzanne B. Hull, in Chaste, Silent, and Obedient: English Books for Women, 1475–1640 (San Marino, CA: Huntington Library, 1982), similarly concentrated on books addressed and prescribed to women rather than on those women actually read. Although Hull’s study is still often cited for its foundational work, editors Jennifer Richards and Fred Schurink, in a 2010 issue of Huntington Library Quarterly devoted to reading in early modern England, note “how far the history of reading has come since the days when scholars were concerned with ‘implied’ rather than real readers,” with formalist and theoretical approaches more often subordinated today to intensive grappling with surviving evidence of “the interactions of owners with their books and the texts they contained” (73.3 : 345–361 at 360). As Richards and Schurink, op. cit., 346, note, “It is one of the achievements of the history of reading to have drawn attention to the importance of real historical readers, and to have shown just how different their responses could be from our own.” This paper and my larger study contribute to this line of thinking within the field.
Rainbowe, op. cit., 39.
A note on the flyleaf of Clifford’s copy indicates that she heard a recitation of Argenis, op. cit., all the way through, from 16 to 25 January 1625. The book may only have been banned by the fall of the same year, when a gentleman in the household of Queen Henrietta Maria noted, on 16 October, that “the Queen’s confessor will not endure that she should read Barclay’s Argenis,” and directs her to more suitably pious texts instead. Calendar of State Papers, Domestic Series, Charles I., 1625, 1626, ed. John Bruce (London: Longman, 1858), 125. Clifford also appears to have read the text again, since its annotations evince “multiple readings and prepare the text for a return reader,” Hackel, op. cit., 236.
Hackel, op. cit., 235–8.
D. C. Peck, ed. The Copy of a Letter Written by a Master of Art of Cambridge (1584) and Related Documents (Athens, OH: Ohio University Press Athens, 1985), 8–10. On the colloquial identification of Leicester’s Commonwealth as “Parsons’ Green-Coat” (based on the green colouring applied to the edges of its pages), see Victor Houliston, “Persons [Parsons], Robert (1546–1610),” Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004), doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/21474.
Clifford might once have recorded more events for this month; and, while it is possible that a later copyist selected sparsely among these events in the document that survives, evidence suggests that (if anyone) Clifford herself was inclined to refine the diary’s contents through a process of winnowing evinced in her other autobiographical texts. Her memoir of the events of 1603 following the death of Elizabeth I, for instance, combines precisely dated detail — “Upon the 24th Mr Flocknell … brought us word from his Lady that the Queen died” — with a compressed account of events, a combination that suggests the memoir was composed from an earlier daily account that is now lost. Acheson (2007), op. cit., 43. The annual reports she dictated from 1650 to 1675, which are preserved in the third volume of Great Books of Record, op. cit., may also be refined from diurnal accounts, as her eulogist suggests: “Diaries were summed into Annals,” Rainbowe, op. cit., 51. Of the diaries to which Rainbowe alludes, only one is known to survive, that from Clifford’s final months in 1676; the manuscript may be viewed at Dalemain Estate, UK. I am grateful to the owners, Mr. and Mrs. Robert and Jane Hasell-McCosh, for letting me view the original and obtain a copy. It may be more easily consulted in the edition of D. J. H. Clifford, op. cit., 237–80.
Acheson (2007), op. cit., 173.
From a letter of 16 March 1618/19, from the Reverend Thomas Lorkin to Sir Thomas Puckering, in The Court and Times of James the First, vol. 2, ed. Thomas Birch (London: Henry Colburn, 1849), 146–7.
See Un continuation des reports de Henry Rolle serjeant del’ Ley, de divers cases en le court del’ Banke le Roy, en le Temps del’ Reign de Roy Jaques (London, 1676), 88–90, on “Williams de Essex,” who defended himself against the charge of treason inciting rebellion in part on the grounds that “Il inclosed son liver in a Box sealed up, & sie secretment conveyed it al Roy, & nunquam published ceo,” 89. On the last page of Cambridge University Library, MS Dd.3.84 may be found “A parcel of a pamphlett cast in the courte by Williams, bearinge the title of Balaam’s Ass, for which he were after executed.” On this document, see Notes and Queries, 4th S. VI. Oct. 1, 1870, 284–5, a reply to a query in Notes and Queries, 4th S. Vi. Sept. 10, 1870, 215. See also British Library, Lansdowne MS 213/7.
Book of Numbers 22:21–34 (King James Version). Clifford’s regular and indeed daily reading of Psalms and Bible chapters is particularly evident in 1676 Dalemain diary, op. cit., but also in her diary from 1617, in which she records a reading of the Old Testament that appears to have started at Genesis and to have reached the end of Deuteronomy within a month; this reading would presumably have included the Book of Numbers. Acheson (2007), op. cit., 119–25.
This according to a later letter, 8 May 1619, John Chamberlain to Dudley Carleton, in The Court and Times of James the First, op. cit., 160.
Acheson (2007), op. cit., 111.
Rainbowe, op. cit., 67–8, for instance, ended her eulogy by praising how, “in this general corruption, lapsed time[’]s decay, and downfal of Vertue,” Clifford “stood immovable in her Integrity of Manners, Vertue, and Religion.” Williamson, op. cit., 303, featured the “determined front she presented to any attempt made to deprive her of what she regarded as her rights.” Spence, op. cit., 2, describes her “tenaciously pursu[ing]” her land claims “whatever the obstruction or opposition until her dying day.” It is hard to find an account of Clifford that does not allude to her stubbornness or determination.
Acheson (2007), op. cit., 33.
The Copie of a Leter, VVryten by a Master of Arte of Cambrige, to his Friend in London, Concerning Some Talke Past of Late Betvven Tvvo VVorshipful and Graue Men, about the Present State, and Some Procedinges of the Erle of Leycester and his Friendes in England (Paris, 1584). For further reading, see D.C. Peck, “Government Suppression of Elizabethan Catholic Books: The Case of Leicester’s Commonwealth,” The Library Quarterly 47.2 (1977): 163–77, and Peter Holmes, “The Authorship of ‘Leicester’s Commonwealth’,” The Journal of Ecclesiastical History 33 (1982): 424–30.
For the way in which her selective editing of the diary would reflect her known composition habits, see note 17.
On 13 February 1619, for instance, Conniston “made an end of reading the King’s book upon the Lord’s prayer”; 10 February, he “began to read St Austin of the City of God to me,” which book he finished reading to her (“made an end of”) on 10 March. Twelve days after he finished reading Leicester’s Commonwealth, he “began to read the book of Josephus to me of the Antiquities of the Jews,” Acheson (2007), op. cit., 158–9, 162, 189.
Peck, personal correspondence of 30 July 2013, noted no additional mention of Mary Stuart, her arraignment or her death, in any of the manuscript copies he examined.
Quotation from ibid., 5; on the book’s popularity, ibid., 11.
Acheson (2007), op. cit., 45–7.
On James I’s toleration, albeit limited, for English Catholics, see John J. LaRocca, “‘Who Can’t Pray with Me, Can’t Love Me’: Toleration and the Early Jacobean Recusancy Policy,” Journal of British Studies 23.2 (1984): 22–36.
Spence, op. cit., 71, mentions that Clifford’s father is referred to in the text; in fact, however, it is Clifford’s grandfather who is briefly described (Henry Clifford) and mistakenly given the name of Clifford’s father, George. See Peck, op. cit., 102, who clarifies the identification, 144, n. 223.
As examples of her genealogical interests in the diary around the time of her reading Leicester’s Commonwealth, see October of the same year, when she keeps a visitor talking “of many old matters” having to do with her family, or the next month, when she reads “in the sea papers of my father’s voyages,” or the next, when she “spent time as before in looking at the chronicles,” which were likely early drafts of the Great Books of Record. Acheson (2007), op. cit., 185–9.
Ibid., 180. Such marginal notes are a regular feature in the diary; they are placed, in the copies that survive, on facing pages to the original entries, and seem to have been additions Clifford made sometime after the original entries, since they often refer to events of a date later than the entries they are set beside. Such a method of composition could account for the vagueness of Clifford’s chronology (“About this time,” in this case), and reinforces the notion, as does her mistake about the content of Leicester’s Commonwealth, that Clifford’s accounts are not unimpeachable.
On Sackville’s patronage of Parsons, see Houliston, op. cit. On Clifford’s much-annotated copy of Mirovr for Magistrates, which I have examined thanks to the generosity of its owner, see Orgel, op. cit.
For the first edition of the work by Parsons, see R. P., The First Booke of the Christian Exercise, Appertayning to Resolution (Rouen, 1582); see also the adaptation by Edmund Bunny with his additions: A Booke of Christian Exercise, Appertaining to Resolution, That Is, Shewing How That We Should Resolve Our Selves to Become Christians in Deed: by R. Perused, and Accompanied Now with a Treatise Tending to Pacification (London, 1584). Acheson (2007), op. cit., 180, notes 19 issues or editions between 1582 and 1589; she also suggests (on what basis is not clear) that Clifford’s copy had been her mother’s. Spence, op. cit., 71, cites the 1601 edition as that which Clifford read, but does so without evidence, while an earlier biographer, Williamson, op. cit., 139, cites the 1603 edition, also without rationale. I decline to enter the debate, given the lack of proof.
Parsons, A Christian Directorie Guiding Men to Their Saluation. Deuided into Three Bookes. The First VVherof Apperteining to Resolution, is only Conteined in this Volume, Deuided into Tvvo Partes, and Set Forth Novv Againe VVith Many Corrections, and Additions by th’Authour Him Self, VVith Reprofe of the Corrupt and Falsified Edition of the Same Booke Lately Published by M. Edm. Buny (Rouen, 1585), 322.
Bunny, A Briefe Answer, Vnto Those Idle and Friuolous Quarrels of R. Against the Late Edition of the Resolution: by Edmund Bunny. Whereunto are Prefixed the Booke of Resolution, and the Treatise of Pacification, Perused and Noted in the Margent on All Such Places as are Misliked of R. (London, 1589).
Houliston, op. cit., and William Joseph Sheils, “Bunny, Edmund (1540–1618),” Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004), oxforddnb.com/view/article/3943.
Sheils, op. cit. For more on the books, authors, and their relations, see Robert McNulty, “The Protestant Version of Robert Parsons’ The First Booke of the Christian Exercise,” Huntington Library Quarterly 22 (1959): 271–300; John Driscoll, “‘The Seconde Parte’: Another Protestant Version of Robert Persons’ Christian Directorie,” Huntington Library Quarterly 25.2 (1962): 139–146; Brad S. Gregory, “The ‘True and Zealouse Service of God’: Robert Parsons, Edmund Bunny, and The First Booke of the Christian Exercise,” Journal of Ecclesiastical History 45 (1994): 238–68; and Victor Houliston, “Why Robert Persons would not be Pacified: Edmund Bunny’s Theft of The Book of Resolution” in The Reckoned Expense: Edmund Campion and the Early English Jesuits, ed. Thomas M. McCoog (Woodbridge: Boydell Press, 1996): 159–78.
“Catholicism survived most strongly among the nobility, of whom 15–20 percent clung to the old faith, including many leading magnates in an arc from Cumberland, Westmoreland, and Lancashire south to Derby, Worcestershire, and Herefordshire.” The counties of Cumberland and Westmoreland (now Cumbria) encompassed most of Clifford’s ancestral lands. Kevin Phillips, The Cousins’ Wars (New York: Basic Books, 1999), 52–3.
Acheson (2007), 144.
It is not clear if Clifford or others felt she needed assistance in reading certain books, but this was the case even with her Bible reading. In March of 1617, she had been for some weeks reading it in the company of the Knole House chaplain, Mr. Ran, when her husband peremptorily indicated that he must desist: “so as,” she writes, “I must leave off reading the Old Testament until I can get somebody to read it with me.” Ibid., 125.
A New Edition of the Introduction to a Devout Life of B. Francis de Sales Bishop and Prince of Geneua. Together with a Summary of his Life, and a Collection of his Choisest Maximes, Now Added to this the Last Edition. Set Forth by the English Priests of Tourney Colledge at Paris (Rouen, 1648). Williamson, op. cit., 527.
Personal correspondence, 7 March 2012, with Simon Richards, son of the current owner of Bill Hill. Clifford’s inscribed copy is not among the four copies of the 1648 edition listed in the British Library’s online English Short Title Catalogue (http://estc.bl.uk). Personal correspondence, 5 January 2012, Margaret Tenney, University of Texas at Austin; 11 January 2012, Janet McMullin, Oxford University; 11 January 2012, Christian Algar, British Library; 26 January 2012, Alastair Fraser, Durham University. No inscription is found in the copy housed in the University of San Francisco’s Gleeson Library, which I have examined.
For instance, in her copy of Sidney’s Arcadia, op. cit., Clifford wrote as follows: “This Booke did I beegine to Red ouer att Skipton in Cravan about the latter=ende of Januaray and I made an ende of Reding itt all ouer in Apellbey Castell in Westmorland the 19 day of Marche folloing in 1651: as the yeare begins on Newors=day.” Bodleian Library, J-J Sidney 13, sig. 2v. See also that on the fly-leaf of her copy of Barclay’s Argenis, op. cit.: “I began to reade this booke to your Ladiship the xvjth day of January: 1625: and ended it the xxvth of the same moneth:/.” For several such inscriptions in her Mirovr for Magistrates, see Orgel, op. cit.
Charles I, A Proclamation for Calling in a Book, Entituled, An Introduction to a Devout Life, [Being a Translation by I. Y. from the French of Saint Francis de Sales,] and that the Same be Pubikely Burnt (London, 1637).
On the popularity of religious books, see The Elizabethan Top Ten: Defining Print Popularity in Early Modern England, eds. Andy Kesson and Emma Smith (Farnham, UK: Ashgate, 2013), 8–9: “every census of what was published in the Elizabethan period reveals the dominance of religious material in the print marketplace. … Of the almost 11,000 titles published during Elizabeth’s reign, our best estimate is that around 40 percent were in this category.”
N. W. Bawcutt, “A Crisis of Laudian Censorship: Nicholas Okes and John Okes and the Publication of Sales’s An ‘Introduction to a Devout Life’ in 1637,” Library 1.4 (2000): 403–438 at 418.
See n. 48, above.
Bawcutt, op. cit., 417, 424: “In 1637 there was a series of spectacular conversions to Catholicism, culminating in that of the Countess of Newport in October. George Con, the papal agent, was visibly active in court and spoke freely to the king. The chapels of Queen Henrietta Maria and the Spanish ambassador celebrated Masses that were attended by prominent members of the aristocracy. Laud … persuaded the king to issue a proclamation on 20 December 1637 that forbade his subjects to participate in Catholic services. … and five days later the queen showed her contempt for it by holding an elaborate Christmas Mass in her private chapel and ordering the recent converts to take part in it.”
See Jennifer Clement, “Beyond Shakespeare: Early Modern Adaptation Studies and Its Potential,” Literature Compass 10.9 (2013): 677–87, doi: 10.1111/lic3.12080, who castigates the general neglect to date of “the wide range of early modern adaptation practices available for study” outside of matters related to Shakespeare and film.
LEAH KNIGHT est professeure agréée de littérature non dramatique du début des temps modernes au Département d’anglais et de littérature anglaise à l’Université Brock, où elle mène aussi une étude subventionnée par le Conseil de recherche en sciences humaines du Canada sur les lectures de toute la vie d’Anne Clifford. Leah Knight est aussi l’auteure de l’ouvrage primé Of Books and Botany in Early Modern England: Sixteenth-Century Plants and Print Culture (2009) et récemment de Reading Green in Early Modern England (2014).