Country and Court Occupations

  • A. L. Rowse


Elizabethan diaries are hardly at all introvert, with the exception of Puritan accounts of the states of their souls; and even here the attitude is curiously that of describing an external object. It is this that gives the self-ruminatings of Montaigne their originality and idiosyncrasy. Nearly all contemporary diaries are of the nature of memoranda, a line a day mentioning its event personal or public. Throckmorton’s is essentially of this character and began in this way; but from the beginning he used it to jot down miscellaneous information and, as time went on, the habit grew upon him and the very detail gives one a more intimate picture of a man’s total activities than of anyone else of the age. The intimacy is both indirect and direct: a picture of the person is built up from his activities, at the same time — and this is even more exceptional — he lets us into his griefs and troubles, his most private concerns of family and heart. Yet always briefly, discreetly — often in French, sometimes in cipher and with initials in place of names. With the knowledge one has acquired of his background, one can often make these out. In the Elizabethan manner he does not indulge himself with his reflections — one has to infer.


Close Prisoner Grey Horse Black Velvet West Country French Embassy 
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© A. L. Rowse 1962

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  • A. L. Rowse

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