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PART II.—THE CLARENDON MANUSCRIPTS.
Amongst the many irreparable evils that befell the property of the Chancellor Clarendon, from the pecuniary difficulties in which his eldest son and successor involved himself, and from the reckless character of his grandson, Edward, third Earl of Clarendon, was the dispersion of a large portion of his most valuable and interesting collection of MSS. This collection must have been unusually large ; partly on account of the important correspondence in which he had been engaged with various persons from the time preceding the breaking out of the civil wars till that of his banishment; partly because, from his known purpose to write the history of that period, he had been furnished, by desire of Charles I. and by friends engaged in the royalist cause, with papers and information relating to the events of which he was not an eye-witness. These, together with his own voluminous compositions, must have made an immense accumulation of MSS., and there can be little doubt but that in their dispersion many have been lost. Besides the MSS. thus collected and written by the Chancellor, a further addition was made by the papers and correspondence of his two sons, Henry, second
Earl of Clarendon, and Lawrence Earl of Rochester; and as the titles and estates of the Chancellor and his two eldest sons finally devolved upon the descendants of the second son (the Earl of Rochester), in the ordinary course of events the MSS. would have descended with the pictures and other personalty to the heir of the family. Such, however, was not the case, and the publication of the letters and diary of Henry, second Earl of Clarendon, in the year 1763, with a preface by Dr. Douglas, afterwards Bishop of Salisbury, first explained the manner in which a portion of these MSS. had passed from the family. Henry Lord Clarendon, it appears, had incurred considerable obligations to a gentleman of the name of Bryan Richards, first-cousin to his second wife. These obligations were never discharged ; and, whether by way of repaying a debt or making a return for services only, his son Edward Earl of Clarendon thought fit to confer upon Mr. Bryan Richards a vast collection of papers belonging to his father, together with some thousands of letters formerly
Mr. Bryan Richards is spoken of in Dr. Douglas's preface to the Clarendon Letters as Lady Clarendon's nephew, a mistake which is repeated in the Clarendon and Rochester Correspondence, edited by Mr. Singer, A few years since a gentleman named Bryan Richards was employed in the Record Office at the Tower; and in a bookseller's catalogue, published 1837, Mr. Richards describes a MS. “as made for the use of Henry Hyde, “ Viscount Cornbury, who was one of the co-trustees for the Queen “ (Catherine of Portugal); it was given,” he adds, “ to my grandfather, “ Bryan Richards, Esq., of Mattingley, co. Southampton, by the said “ Viscount Cornbury, afterwards second Earl of Clarendon, who married “ Lady Flower Backhouse, who was my grandfather's first-cousin."
belonging to the Chancellor Clarendon. In 1737 Mr. Richards appears to have sent a box full of these letters to Lord Cornbury,' and Bishop Douglas mentions that he had seen two letters from Lord Cornbury on the subject, addressed to Mr. Richards, expressing his surprise at the existence of such a collection out of the possession of the family, and at the same time acknowledging his obligations to him for having sent the box.”
But it was not Mr. Bryan Richards only that became the owner of a large portion of these valuable papers through the means of Edward Earl of Clarendon. It was through his means, directly or indirectly, that Mr. Joseph Radcliffe 3 also became possessed of another portion. Mr. Joseph Radcliffe, together with Lady Frances Keightley (Lord Clarendon's aunt), and Thomas Chiffinch, of Northfleet, were appointed by him executors to his will; and it was perhaps owing to this circumstance that after Mr. Joseph Radcliffe's death his executors found in his possession various MSS. from the Clarendon collection; at any rate they seem to have regarded them as part of his property. It is very possible that Lord Clarendon, when living, had made a gift of them to Mr. Joseph Radcliffe ; but they
Son of Henry, fourth Earl of Clarendon, and great-grandson to the Chancellor Clarendon.
? It seems uncertain, from the manner in which Bishop Douglas mentions this circumstance, whether Mr. Richards gave back to Lord Cornbury a box containing his great-grandfather's letters, or whether he only sent them to him for perusal.
3 Of Lyon's Inn, gent.
were certainly not bequeathed to him by will,' nor is the fact of their having been a gift mentioned in the Preface to the second volume of the Clarendon State Papers, where the purchase from his executors is stated; it is only mentioned that he was one of the executors to Edward Earl of Clarendon. A large collection of Lawrence Earl of Rochester's papers, together with the originals of those letters to him from his brother, Henry Earl of Clarendon (of which the copies had been in Mr. Bryan Richards's hands), fell into the possession of “ a lady," who is stated to have “ inherited them from “ persons very nearly connected with the noble family “ of Hyde;"? but who “the lady” was does not appear in the Preface to the Correspondence, where she is thus mentioned, nor does it appear who were these persons that were nearly connected with the Hyde family from whom she inherited the MSS.—a silence which is to be regretted, as the clue is now wanting by which to trace the cause of this portion having strayed from so interesting a collection. Like those in Mr. Radcliffe's possession, they may have been a gift, but they were certainly not a bequest, as Lord Rochester died intestate; and if neither gift nor legacy, it is certain that Lord Rochester's papers, comprising his own private reflections, letters from his daughter, and his confidential correspondence with his brother, ought to have passed at his death, with other things, to his own son. Mr.
The will has been examined to ascertain this fact. ? Preface to Correspondence of the Earls of Rochester and Clarendon.'