I On Myself Can Live

Self-portrait by Anne Killigrew

Mistress Anne Kingsmill (Continued)

Anne's daily routine would have included a staple diet of bread, meat, and ales; food had begun to be more simply prepared, and each individual would have his own plate, utensils, and glass though cups of hot soup were shared. The upper class adult breakfast was bread and butter and a glass of ale, their dinner included various fish and meats. Again, men of all classes drank heavily--and the habit of getting stewed nightly was one the older Ann recurs to with real disgust more than once (Chartier 265-77; Trevelyn 276, 314). She would have dressed herself early and as an adult from a very young age; around the turn of the century the country-bred English gentlewoman a wore high-necked round collar which came down to her rib cage or a simpler "kerchief" around the neck, a "whisk," either of which was edged with ruffles, or there was the "wheel fardingale," a scooped-out collar, a stiff but perhaps less stiff and padded contraption than Elizabethan women had endured, or perhaps a whisk. We should imagine a young girl whose outline was like a pear: she has on soft leather boots, a cap with her hair brushed straight back falling in curls to her shoulders; under her collar, a short-waisted bodice (momentarily out in the 1660's to 1670's) with huge drooping sleeves, flaring out from this folds of skirt; prints show a length of cloth hanging from the bodice, like a rich curtain waiting to be pulled aside (Hollander 106-11; Cunnington, Children's Costume, 88- 99; Clark 310-15). To conclude, Ann prayed and read the Bible daily; weekly attendance at church was compulsory, thieves were everywhere and dangerous (the diners at Lamport Hall were not wrong to suspect a den of thieves), and roads (again) were awful (Hughes 13-8; Parkes passim; n5: Lady Brilliana Harley letters). Travelling was travail.

Of what Ann and her siblings' academic education consisted, whose funding was of such interest to all concerned, there is little record. From the Ischam diary we learn that young William Kingsmill was sent to a local grammar school for time, and one might like to think that Sir William interested himself in how much Latin they achieved (certainly Sir Justinian was concerned for his son's Latin); but there is no document showing any learning or achievement for either boy. Ann's cousin, Sir William's first daughter, Elizabeth Haslewood, Lady Hatton left some letters, but, if their nineteenth-century editor, Edward Maunde Thompson, goes too far when he calls them "illiterate" (iv)--and highly inconsistent even outrageous spelling was not uncommon in the seventeenth century--Elizabeth's letters are still dismaying performances. On Elizabeth's behalf she emerges as an affectionate and practical wife who knows her local politics very well, and whose husband respects her, shows tender feeling for her, and is loyal to her; still she can barely manage a coherent sentence (Hatton Correspondence, II 152-4, 158, 161-2 [n6: Editor].

From records of the education of other girls of Ann's class we find that along with the household skills Trevelyn outlines, girls of Elizabeth and Ann's class were taught arts and graces which would make them acceptable at court and before people considered to be of high status, such singing, dancing, mannered behavior--and French. There are extant detailed documents describing the education at least one girl frm the same social received at home from a tutor. Between around age ten to nineteen (1642-51), Lady Anne Hamilton, the daughter of William, the 1st Duke of Hamilton by Lady Mary Fielding, under the partial supervision of her paternal grandmother, Lady Anna Cunningham, at Chelsea Palace, was taught by her tutor, William Davidson, to write a good hand (penmanship, style was not the issue) and the "four rules of arithmetic;" he read theological tracts with her, and made her study French; Lady Anne Hamilton said very little about her education but once many years later when she came to the court of William III, and a grandson said she had no French, she remarked to his mother: "You may tell him I was not angry that he told the King I had no French, which is true I have very little, but that I had once" [Marshall 22-6]. Lady Anne's program throws light on where Ann was neglected or what no-one could force down her and what she chose to hold onto. Her French--and love of music and ability to versify--might suggest a good tutor was hired, but her lack of what were really the two central foci of the education of girls of her class suggests not.

First, like her cousin Elizabeth, and unlike Lady Anne Hamilton, Ann was not skilled in the modern italicized hand insisted on in most upper-class households (Marshall 146); Heneage can do it to perfection, but when Ann copies out her poems her letters are formed in the earlier sixteenth-century manner, her e's are strikingly old- fashioned (Dawson and Kennedy-Skipton 9-17). Ann's early hand is stilted and labored, her late crabbed and nervous. The one first draft of a poem in her hand that we have shows spelling every bit as outrageous as her cousin's (MS Portland XIX, 304-6); the mostly correct consistent spelling of her texts in the manuscripts testifies to the extreme care she took when she or Heneage copied or had another individual copy her poems [n7].

Upper-class girls were also drilled in arithmetic to enable them to manage or supervise household accounts; in later life Lady Anne- -much to the profit of her family--was a past master at this (Marshall 20; 189-208 and everywhere); Heneage's diary shows that throughout his and Ann's married life, he was in charge of coping with the numbers; it was he who managed all the court cases, all estate management, all buying of things and keeping the acounts; it was he who managed Ann's brother's oldest son's estates (MS F-H 282 passim). In other words, Ann never took care of the accounts; never consulted with the steward, and so on. It's possible of course she just wasn't interested, but never to participate--unless she didn't know how to--suggests a foolhardiness that is unlike Ann in other aspects of her life.

In fact all that we have suggests that Ann's learning is wholly academic and belletristic, and the inference is that she educated herself. She read on her own and taught herself from what books she was lucky enough to lay her hands on. Here too though we must not make her into a prodigy [n8: Warnicke & d'Ellis Allessandro]. She tells us she wrote poems from a very early age, and in "The Preface" to the manuscript volume today called the Folger (as it is owned and housed by the Folger Shakespeare library), but shall here also be called the Eastwell book in order to keep in mind that it was the product of Ann and Heneage's years after 1703, that is, copied out at Eastwell [n9] She gives us two stanzas from an "Invocation to Apollo," "some of the first lines I ever writt." I take these to have been written before she came to court, and it is touching that she saved and brings them forth in the preface to her collected if unprinted book. Apollo knows she has been studying and trying to imitate the poetry of Katherine Philips, and warns her:

I grant thee no pretence to Bays,
Nor in bold print do thou appear;
Nor shalt thou reatch Orinda's prayse,
Tho' all thy aim, be fixt on Her.
She tells us in the preface that she wrote because she could not stop herself; to Apollo she said that if it could not be her business, a serious vocation, it would be her delight:
Whilst Life by Fate is lent to me,
Whilst here below, I stay,
Religion, my sole businesse be,
And Poetry, my play

(MS Folger unpaginated i-vi)

She felt that she had gifts, but as the verse shows much practice and maturity was required before she could write polished mature verses. Her later in-depth knowledge religious doctrine and sermons was not uncommon; her knowledge of histories, travel books, letters, and biographies--and plays and poetry of all kinds was--but when it is a question of a Latin or Greek text, Ann's version is always either a translation from the Latin or Greek into French or English. Ann's fluency in French and attempt to learn and translate from Italian come in her later years; here it will only be noted that Ann's individual genius was responsible for her holding on to whatever French she was taught.

William Cameron, Ann's first and most thorough biographer brings Ann to court in late spring 1682 at the age of twenty-one; she was made independent of her guardians in April of that year (McGovern 20; Cameron 230); Cameron suggests she came with Dorothy who would have been twenty, but since the records of Princess Anne's household for 1684 do not include Dorothy, the probability is the younger sister waited a bit, perhaps until she too was slightly over twenty-one (Cameron 46); but before we can leave Northampton, we must first discuss the extremely unhappy incident which occurred after Ann had gone to London, but which originated in the childhood the Kingsmill children shared with their Haslewood cousins in their uncle's Northamptonshire home, and perhaps in the circumstances of the Haslewood-Kingsmill marriage in the first place.

The facts as stated in the court papers are that on November 13, 1683, the younger Sir William Haslewood and younger Sir William Kingsmill fought a duel in which Kingsmill killed Haslewood. Kingsmill was arrested on the charge of manslaughter, but petitioned that "this unhappy act did not proceed from any malice aforethought but was occasioned by the great provocations and sword of Mr. Haslewood drawn on the petitioner." Haslewood's sisters disagreed: they wrote their brother was "inhumanely slain" and requested their cousin be brought to trial. The younger Kingsmill was found guilty of manslaughter, but on June 14, 1684 was pardoned by Charles II (McGovern 29).

Lawrence Stone's recent study of the actual behavior of later seventeenth-century people as revealed in court battles provides the context: he shows that sex before marriage was condoned and practiced by openly courting and more transitory couples; if, as John Eames says, the younger Kingsmill was born much sooner than nine months after his parents married, we have our clue to one source of boys' hatred for one another. Why are we in the unusual situation of not knowing the heir's birth? the date was at least an embarrassment, if it did not risk loss of the estate. In Sir Thomas's diary we see Sir William Haslewood and the Lamport neighbours singling the young Kingsmill as someone "special." Kingsmill was at least sent to school; Haslewood was not. A nephew is given a status that sets him above a son. The young Haslewood's response was to taunt the intruder with hints about his illegitimacy. The word bastard would be a "great provocation"--young men don't mince words and the Haslewood household was not genteel. I have come a strikingly similar case where an uncle welcomes into his household and makes much of a young male who is not his son and is illegitimate; the oldest son and the nephew are natural rivals, and the oldest son's anger at the attention paid to the boy who ought to be much less regarded than he grows. The son spends years teasing and insulting the cousin, and then one day the cousin has had enough; he erupts into a murderous rage (Stone, Uncertain Unions 10-20, 103-4; n10: discussion of Colonna rivalries).

Ann's uncle, the older Sir William, had died in January 1682; while one can be glad he did not live to see his nephew kill his son, when he died, a moderating and controlling presence was lost. I suggest that as with many common familial murders, this one was years in the making. What Ann thought about it, she never said. The whole thing seems to have been treated as an unspeakable horror, and the younger Sir William Kingsmill, the pardoned murderer disappears from public life.

A year and one-half after her uncle's death and a year and one- half before their brother killed their cousin, Ann Kingmsill joined the court of James, Duke of York, in London; a year later Dorothy Ogle had joined her. James was setting up a household for himself and his second wife, the then pregnant Mary d'Este, better known to English-speakers as Mary of Modena. In the spring of 1682 James made a series of appointments, men for himself, and women for his wife and as yet unmarried daughter, Princess Ann, who both had returned from Scotland on May 27, 1682. As a known center of revelry, not to mention scandalous intrigue, Whitehall Palace did not appeal to the austere Mary; so St. James's Palace, despite its irregularity and age, became their home--and the new home of Ann Kingsmill and Dorothy Ogle (Turner, 212; Cameron 230; Strickland IX: 78-116, 147). Decades later in her fable of "The Eagle, the sow, and the Cat," Ann recalled the living quarters at St James as a kind of labyrinthine tree "cramm'd from Roof to Ground,/And Animals, as various, in them found," and says it was every bit as full of intrigue as Whitehall (1713 Misc. 212).

This would have been seen as a good if not altogether safe career move--a female family member could land a wealthy husband, but she could end up pregnant by someone decidedly undesirable, and not just because he was (relatively) poor. In 1709 Ann herself remembered the court of Charles II fondly as a time "When all was Riot, Masking, Playing;/When witty Beggars were in fashion (1713 Misc. 147), but to her family the unconventionality and ruthless quality of court life would pose a danger to their aggrandizing purposes. Ann or Dorothy might get "ideas" of their own; there are letters from other families who sent girls to court worrying over male debauchery (as they would see it), though in this period we also find families looking out for the happiness or individual safety of their marriageable children (n11: cite Stone, Marriage; Marshall; sources for Ann Cecil, Margaret Lucas).

Ann wrote three poems about her earliest days at court. Two are still basically unknown. The first of these is barely decipherable. It was copied out by Ann herself during the decade she and Heneage lived at first at Godmersham and then at Wye College (about 1594-1704) into a volume which is sometimes referred to as the Finch- Hatton manuscript but shall here also be called the Godmersham-Wye book to show its provenance [n12]; sometime later, perhaps just before they left for Eastwell, somemone relentlessly cross-hatched the text so as to prevent reading, yet it did not tear it out or paste another sheet over it (as was done with other of Ann's poems). Entitled "The Grove. Written when I was a Maid of Honour," it is our only text clearly written before Ann's marriage, and she speaks in desperate tones of a betrayal, of falseness everywhere, and her need to get away.

Building on Cameron's first heroic attempt to decipher this piece (233-4), I have further managed to emend and (I hope) retrieve enough of this poem to make sense of it. It opens thus:

Here will I wait ....... I may grant
In grateful shades I may not want
That ..... Content, the Joyes I see
In all, that do inhabit thee.
Oh! let me be your guest, and I
In ease shall live and in you shall dye.
........, the paths of this fair grove
Are kind, and yet ... know ... Love
A long series of nearly obliterated lines includes the phrases: "He with Large Promises of Joyes/And ... Armes ... getts, and then destroys;" then "And begg'd him .... a heart/The being in pain which I found..."

Then there are some lines in which the cross-hatching has been lighter, in which the censurer allowed many of the letters to be seen. Ann seems to be describing a male figure who was lovely on the outside, but false within:

..... I see his Temples grac'd,
Then all the Trophies, in them plac'd
Promiss'd, the human heart, .... Speed
Shou'd pay my Sighs, or for'em bleed.
These are his Soft deluding wayes,
With hopes, and flat'ry he betrayes
To claim it now, and make it .... e
To see't with Joy, and haste ......
Was all I look'd for, when beheld
So false is all ...
There follows some talk of the "The Players, that ... charg'd him," and Ann says "So hearts are used, when thought .... [are] Thus [under] The Tyrant's .... Sway/Betray'd through ....... broken away."

What we have here is a personal betrayal disguised as an allegory about love. Someone or Love's ""Soft deluding wayes" have "with hopes, and flat'ry" betrayed the poet. She was seduced and then dropped. Others knew about the affair, perhaps it happened at the theatre, and Ann is traumatized both because everyone knows, because she has made a fool of herself, because she never expected this.

The poem closes with a vow that the poet will learn to "Shun [indecipherable] Public assemblies, and the Courts" and "alone [indecipherable] pass [indecipherable] my life away/Since what the world does pleasure call/ [indecipherable] taste finds" awful; she says she will not "own his Pow'r" (the young man), and "to you [the grove] "still "repair (MS F-H 283 44-7)." We have here the first of Anne's many poems motivated by a detestation of and urgent need to retreat from court life--and by extension society.

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