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The Country House Poem and the Localization of Empire

  • John M. Adrian
Part of the Early Modern Literature in History book series (EMLH)

Abstract

As we have seen, the Memoirs portrays the Hutchinson estate at Owthorpe as not just a home, but a local sphere of operation that is serviceable to many of the same goals that motivated the Colonel’s earlier defense of his city and county. While in retirement at Owthorpe in the 1650s, John Hutchinson is able to execute the laws, administer justice, and maintain an ‘orderly regulation of the people’ in the surrounding neighborhood. This is typical of the estate’s role in the early modern period, for it was not just a private dwelling, but the center of its local neighborhood. Since it was inhabited by the ruling gentry, it functioned as political seat, administrative hub, and occasionally even religious center.1 The estate was also an important site of social relations, where hospitality was dispensed, marriage matches made, and disputes settled. Perhaps the reason that Saxton and Speed include so many minor estates on their maps is not just to assert gentry ownership of the land, but because these estates were also important landmarks that defined their areas of the county.

Keywords

Seventeenth Century Local Space Foreign Object Social Harmony Landscape Painting 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Notes

  1. 2.
    See, for example, William A. McClung, The Country House in English Renaissance Poetry (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1977), 28–45, 123–131; Malcolm Kelsall, The Great Good Place: The Country House and English Literature (New York: Columbia University Press, 1993), 32–48; James Turner, The Politics of Landscape: Rural Scenery and Society in English Poetry, 1630–1660 (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1979), 142–146; and Kari Boyd McBride, Country House Discourse in Early Modern England (Brookfield, VT: Ashgate, 2001).Google Scholar
  2. 3.
    A conventional critical reading of the genre. See, for example, Hugh Jenkins, Feigned Commonwealths: The Country-House Poem and the Fashioning of the Ideal Community (Pittsburgh: Duquesne University Press, 1998).Google Scholar
  3. 4.
    Alastair Fowler lists ‘To Richard Cotton, Esq.’ first in his book The Country House Poem: A Cabinet of Seventeenth-Century Estate Poems and Related Items (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 1994). Rather than use the standard editions for dozens of authors, all quotations, line numbers, page numbers, and dates will come from this book which conveniently combines these important poems into a single scholarly edition.Google Scholar
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    Kathryn Hunter, ‘Geoffrey Whitney’s “To Richard Cotton, Esq.”: An Early English Country House Poem,’ The Review of English Studies 28:112 (1977): 439–440.Google Scholar
  5. 7.
    William Smith’s 1584 chorographical description of Cheshire observes: ‘Likewise, doth every man keep certain Hives of Bees; but no greater store, commonly, than to serve their own turn; yet some do bring to the Market both Wax and Honey.’ Daniel King, The Vale Royale of England (Little S. Bartholomews: John Streater, 1656), 18.Google Scholar
  6. 9.
    Heather Dubrow, ‘The Country-House Poem: A Study in Generic Development,’ Genre 12 (1979), 162. The particularized landscapes of the country house poem probably originate with Virgil’s Georgics. In fact, H. M. Richmond makes the Georgics the origin of a seventeenth-century ‘rural lyricism’ that often features particular places. ‘“Rural Lyricism”: A Renaissance Mutation of the Pastoral,’ Comparative Literature 16:3 (1964), 193–196. Alastair Fowler argues persuasively that the georgic mode is the key to unifying the otherwise irreconcilable variety found among English country house poem representatives. ‘Country House Poems: The Politics of a Genre,’ The Seventeenth Century 1:1 (1986): 1–14. Other classical models for the English country house poem include Martial’s Epigram III.lviii and Horace’s Second Epode. For a more complete discussion of these and other models, refer to Kelsall, The Great Good Place, 10–24.Google Scholar
  7. 12.
    For an alternate interpretation of the winter weather’s significance, see Mary Ann C. McGuire, ‘The Cavalier Country-House Poem: Mutations on a Jonsonian Tradition,’ Studies in English Literature, 1500–1900 19:1 (1979), 99.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
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    R. H. Tawney, ‘The Rise of the Gentry, 1558–1640,’ Economic History Review 11 (1941). The emerging money economy is also seen by Don Wayne (Penshurst: The Semiotics of Place and the Poetics of History [Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1984]) as a tension in ‘Penshurst’; by Charles Molesworth (‘Property and Virtue: The Genre of the Country House Poem in the Seventeenth Century,’ Genre 1 [1968], 141–157) as a factor in the Civil War, and by Marjorie Swann (Curiosities and Texts: The Culture of Collecting in Early Modern England [Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2001]) as an informing tenet of the Restoration country house poem.Google Scholar
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    Swann’s Curiosities and Texts is particularly useful in demonstrating ‘how collecting practices were used to imagine — and sometimes to realize — new forms of selfhood and social identity in seventeenth-century England’ (12). See also Linda Levy Peck, Consuming Splendor: Society and Culture in Seventeenth-Century England (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2005), 186; Lorna Weatherill, Consumer Behavior and Material Culture in Britain, 1660–1760, 2nd edn. (New York: Routledge, 1996), 191;and Walter E. Houghton, Jr., ‘The English Virtuoso in the Seventeenth Century,’ Journal of the History of Ideas 3:1 (Jan. 1942), 63.Google Scholar
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    Barbara Sebek, ‘Global Traffic: An Introduction,’ in Global Traffic: Discourses and Practices of Trade in English Literature and Culture from 1550 to 1700, ed. Barbara Sebek and Stephen Deng (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2008), 1.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
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    Anna Neill, British Discovery Literature and the Rise of Global Commerce (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2002), 23. This was not a purely theoretical hope, as Anna Bryson has shown how the shift from ‘courtesy’ to ‘civility’ in English manners looked to continental — and especially Italian — models. From Courtesy to Civility: Changing Codes of Conduct in Early Modern England (New York: Oxford University Press, 1998).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
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    The first and third treatises were written by Thomas Munn; the second by Lewes Roberts. These and similar documents are available in J. R. McCulloch (ed.), Early English Tracts on Commerce (Cambridge: Economic History Society, 1952).Google Scholar
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    See Bruce McLeod, The Geography of Empire in English Literature, 1580–1745 (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1999), 90; Andrew Hadfield, ‘The Benefits of a Warm Study: The Resistance to Travel Before Empire,’ in A Companion to the Global Renaissance, ed. Singh, 102–103; and Sebek, ‘Global Traffic,’ 10.Google Scholar
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    Ibid., 103. Joyce Appleby draws a similar conclusion — ‘Luxury was not a personal indulgence; it was a national calamity’ — in ‘Consumption in Early Modern Social Thought,’ in Consumption and the World of Goods, ed. John Brewer and Roy Porter (London: Routledge, 1993), 166.Google Scholar
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    For a detailed biography, see Gerald Morton, A Biography of Mildmay Fane, Second Earl of Westmorland, 1601–1666 (Lewiston, NY: Edwin Mellen Press, 1990).Google Scholar
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    J. T. Cliffe, The World of the Country House in Seventeenth-Century England (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1999), 61.Google Scholar
  30. 74.
    Lucia Impelluso, Gardens in Art, trans. Stephen Sartarelli (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty, 2005), 58.Google Scholar
  31. 79.
    For the basic features of landscape sketched out in this paragraph, I am indebted to Henry V. S. Ogden and Margaret S. Ogden, English Taste in Landscape in the Seventeenth Century (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1955).Google Scholar
  32. 85.
    Ogden and Ogden, English Taste in Landscape, 40. H. V. S. Ogden, ‘The Principles of Variety and Contrast in Seventeenth Century Aesthetics, and Milton’s Poetry,’ Journal of the History of Ideas 10:2 (Apr. 1949), 171.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. 94.
    On this trend, see Olive Cook, The English Country House: An Art and a Way of Life (New York: Putnam, 1974), 58, 112. See also McClung on the role of professional architects in building country houses that ‘[bear] little or no relationship to the community around it.’ The Country House in English Renaissance Poetry, 89–90.Google Scholar
  34. 95.
    Oliver Hill and John Cornforth, English Country Houses: Caroline, 1625–1685 (Woodbridge, Suffolk: Antique Collectors’ Club, 1985), 26. For a description of the basic features of Pratt’s ‘centrally planned house,’ see Heal and Holmes, The Gentry in England and Wales, 301.Google Scholar
  35. 96.
    Thomas Fuller, History of the Worthies of England (London: T. Tegg, 1840), Vol. I, 6. Subsequent volume and page numbers included in the text.Google Scholar

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© John M. Adrian 2011

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