1859 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Samuel Butler

David Masson, in Life of John Milton (1859-94; 1965) 6:300.



Among the dignities of the old monarchy then revived by Charles was that of the Presidency or Vice-royalty of Wales, which had been in abeyance since it had been held, before the Civil Wars, by the Earl of Bridgewater. When that dignity was revived, who so fit for it as Richard Vaughan, Earl Carbery in the Irish peerage, and Baron Vaughan in the English, who had married, for his third wife, in or about 1653, the Lady Alice Egerton, the youngest daughter of the deceased Earl and former President? That this lady Alice, the heroine of Milton's Comus in 1634, should, as Countess of Carbery, wife of the new President, have had to revisit Ludlow, the seat of the vice-royalty, and take up her abode once more in the old castle, mistress herself now of the great hall in which she had sung and acted her sweet girlish part in the masque so long ago, would have been remarkable independently; but it adds to our interest in the occurrence to find that the steward or secretary whom the Earl and Countess of Carbery took with them to Ludlow, or sent to take charge of the castle for some time in their absence, was the hitherto obscure Samuel Butler. Tradition at Ludlow still points out a room in the entrance-gateway to the castle where Butler kept his pen, ink, and paper for anything he had on hand. That he had something on hand we all know now very well; but not even the people of Ludlow were then in the secret.