Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 28.djvu/347

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Hutchinson
Hutchinson
341

life, ‘out of youthful curiosity to understand things which she heard so much discourse of at secondhand,’ she translated the six books of Lucretius into verse. ‘I turned it into English,’ she says, ‘in a room where my children practised the several qualities they were taught with their tutors, and I numbered the syllables of my translation by the threads of the canvas I wrought in, and set them down with a pen and ink that stood by me.’ This translation, which she presented in 1675 to Arthur Annesley, earl of Anglesea, is now in the British Museum (Add. MS. 19333[1]) Though religiously brought up, she was not, as a young woman, convinced of the vanity of conversation which was not scandalously wicked. ‘I thought it no sin,’ she continues, ‘to learn or hear witty songs and amorous sonnets or poems’ (Life of Colonel Hutchinson, i. 26). As she grew older she grew more rigid, came to regard the study of ‘pagan poets and philosophers’ as ‘one great means of debauching the learned world,’ and became ashamed of her translation of Lucretius, which she entreated Anglesea to conceal. During the siege of Nottingham the controversial memoranda of an anabaptist cannoneer, which accidentally fell into her hands, excited her scruples about the baptism of infants, and as the local presbyterian clergy failed to satisfy her that it was lawful, she declined to have her next child baptised (1647).

At the Restoration she exerted all her influence with her royalist relatives to save the life of her husband, even venturing to write to the Speaker in his name to solicit his liberty on parole (ib. ii. 251, 309; cf. Cal. State Papers, Dom. 1663-4, p. 441). She ‘thought she had never deserved so well’ of her husband ‘as in the endeavours and labours she exercised to bring him off,’ but ‘found she never displeased him more in her life, and had much ado to persuade him to be content with his deliverance’ (Life, ii. 262). When he was arrested in 1663, she complained to his friends in the privy council of his unjust imprisonment, but he would not allow her to make application for his release (ib. ii. 307, 313). While he was imprisoned at Sandown Castle she lodged at Deal, and came every day to see him, having in vain solicited leave to share his prison. He died in September 1664, during her absence at Owthorpe. ‘Let her,’ ran his last message, ‘as she is above other woman, show herself in this occasion a good Christian, and above the pitch of ordinary women’ (ib. ii. 346).

Between 1664 and 1671 Mrs. Hutchinson wrote the biography of her husband, which was first published in 1806. Intended simply for the preservation of his memory and the instruction of his children, it possesses a peculiar value among seventeenth-century memoirs. As a picture of the life of a puritan family and the character of a puritan gentleman it is unique ‘The figure of Colonel Hutchinson,’ says J.R.Green, ‘stands out from his wife's canvas with the grace and tenderness of a portrait by Van Dyck’ (Short History, ed. 1889, pp. 462-4). She overrates, it is true, his political importance, and is prejudiced and partial in her notices of his adversaries, either in local or national politics. Her remarks on the general history of the times are of little value, and in some parts simply a paraphrase of May's ‘History of the Long Parliament.’ On the other hand, her account of the civil war in Nottinghamshire is full and accurate. The British Museum possesses a narrative of the civil war in Nottinghamshire written by her some time before she composed the memoir of her husband, and forming the basis of a large part of that work (Add. MS. 25901). She was also the author of a treatise' On the Principles of the Christian Religion,' addressed to her daughter, Mrs. Orgill, which was published by the Rev. Julius Hutchinson in 1817. The manuscript of that book, and that of the life of her husband, have both been lost; but other writings of hers on moral and religious subjects, together with a translation of part of the ‘Æneid,’ are in the possession of the Rev. F. E. Hutchinson, vicar of Tisbury, Wiltshire.

The date of Mrs. Hutchinson's death is not known, but the dedicatory letter prefixed to her translation of Lucretius is dated 1675.

[The Life of Colonel Hutchinson, by his wife, first published in 1806 by the Rev. Julius Hutchinson, a descendant of the colonel's half-brother, Charles Hutchinson, has been many times reprinted. The edition of 1885 contains a collection of Hutchinson's letters, and extracts from Mrs. Hutchinson's earlier narrative of the civil war in Nottinghamshire. Letters discovered later are printed in Notes and Queries, 7th ser. iii. 25, viii. 422. The originals of several letters are among the Tanner MSS. in the Bodleian Library. See also Cal. State Papers, Dom., and Bailey's Annals of Nottinghamshire.

The only authority for the life of Mrs. Hutchinson is the fragment of autobiography prefixed to the life of her husband, and incidental statements contained in his life. A criticism of the historical value of the ‘Life of Colonel Hutchinson’ is prefixed to Guizot's edition of that work, reprinted in his ‘Portraits des hommes politiques des differents partis,’ 1851, and translated by A. R. Scoble, under the title of ‘Monk's Contemporaries: Biographical Studies on the English Revolution,’ 1851.]

C. H. F.

  1. Insert: After 'Add. MS.' add 'the prefatory letter to Anglesea and some specimens of the translation are printed in the Journal of Classical and Sacred Philology, iv. (1858), 121–39.' (Wikisource contributor note)