Memoirs of Eminent Englishwomen
By Louisa Stuart Costello
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print Publication Year: 2010
Online Publication Date:July 2011
Original Publication Year:1844
Chapter DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511739958.002
Subjects: British history: general interest
Connected, from circumstances, for many years, with the fortunes of one of the most interesting female characters in history, the Countess of Shrewsbury, whose fourth husband was jailor to the ill-fated Queen of Scotland, derives, from that circumstance alone, a claim to universal attention. Even, however, without this, Elizabeth Hardwick is a personage so singular in herself, and so remarkable from the influence she exercised over every character that came within her reach, that, except the great Queen, her namesake and contemporary, there is scarcely any that can compare with her for boldness, determination, resolute will, love of sway, and, above all, for a talent to accomplish every design which her ambition framed.
If the existence of feminine qualities is necessary to render a woman an object of sympathy, she would have little claim on her sex's notice; for there is no evidence to prove that the beauties of her mind were equal to those of her person and manners; on the contrary, almost all that is known of her, during the long period of her existence, exhibits her as daring, masculine, forbidding and selfish. Nevertheless, she contrived to fascinate so many persons, including even Queen Elizabeth herself, that she must have had at least the appearance of something good and worthy of admiration. She might have been liberal and generous to her dependants, doubtless was princely and magnificent to her equals and superiors, and probably possessed eloquence and agreeable conversation, liveliness, and animation.