Four Worthies: John Chamberlain, Anne Clifford, John Taylor, Oliver Heywood

Four Worthies: John Chamberlain, Anne Clifford, John Taylor, Oliver Heywood

Four Worthies: John Chamberlain, Anne Clifford, John Taylor, Oliver Heywood

Four Worthies: John Chamberlain, Anne Clifford, John Taylor, Oliver Heywood

Excerpt

The four characters chosen for portraiture in this book have long interested the writer as individuals who have much to tell of the times in which they lived. Each of them is worth elaborate examination as a person, and such examination is made possible by the body of sources available. We are able to learn something of their attitudes towards their fellows and of what their fellows thought of them. If we can in some degree put ourselves into the minds and feelings of even a few men and women we shall understand more of that time, see a little further into a scene at best but dimly lighted. Not that we shall ever understand it as well as we would. We keep gazing from afar, from three hundred years away, at those figures, who seem always to recede slowly from our view. We hope that we may come up close to them and look upon them full-face, as we would upon our friends today. But they slip off into the shadow, for ever elusive. We are well aware that our books and manuscripts are not enough, that they reveal only small segments of the truth, but they are all we have.

The four characters selected for study are not more typical of their people and time than many others. To call any particular individuals typical of their nation and century is hazardous. What can be said is that each of the four was thoroughly English.

A woman like Anne, Lady Clifford, is inconceivable in any but an English setting. No countess in a Bavarian hill-topping castle or in a château along the Loire would have stood up to her sovereign and have resisted the pressures of a time-serving Court as did the Countess of Dorset. She exhibited moreover an outspokenness characteristic of the English countryside then and now. Her frankness and directness were only exceeded . . .

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