Chapter IX: Ferdinando Sixth Earl of Huntingdon is in The Huntingdon Peerage.
FERDINANDO, sixth Earl of Huntingdon, heir and successor of Henry the fifth Earl (21), was born at Ashby, January 11th, 1608. In March, 1627, he was returned to serve in Parliament for the county of Leicester, and two years after was joined with his father in the Lieutenancy of the counties of Leicester and Rutland. By indenture, dated May, 1638, he and his brother Henry, in consideration of the sum of 4,50l. granted, to John Earl of Bridgewater (29) and Thomas Davies, a moiety of the rectory of Mould, otherwise Mouldesdale, in Flintshire. On the 13th of November, 1641, his father being then still living, he had summons to Parliament amongst the barons of the realm ; and in 1643 he succeeded to the family honours. He married Lucy, daughter and sole heir to Sir John Davys (38), of Englefield, Berks, Knt. (Premier Serjeant at Law to James the First, and Charles the First, as also Solicitor, and afterwards Attorney General in Ireland, and finally Lord Chief Justice of the King's Bench,) by his wife Lady Eleanor (18), youngest daughter of George Lord Audley, Earl of Castlehaven (57), and, settling at Donnington Park, had by her four sons; Henry, John, Ferdinando, and Theophilus, born after the decease of his three brothers; and likewise six daughters, Alice, Eleanor, both of whom died young ; Elizabeth, married to Sir James Laughan, of Cottesbroke, in Nottinghamshire, Bart, being his second wife, and dying without issue; Lucy, who died unmarried; Mary, espoused to Sir William Joliffe, of Caverswell Castle in Staffordshire, Knt. ; and lastly Christiana.
Of the sons, John, the second, died an infant in December, 1639. Ferdinando, the third son, died May 8, 1647, in his tenth year, and was buried at Ashby, where his father erected a suitable monument to his memory. The following epitaph is inscribed on a table of black marble, with a compartment of alabaster gilt, in the upper part a buffalo's head, with a ducal coronet about the neck ; in the lower, Argent, a maunch sable.
In Memoriam vere nobilis Ferdinando Hastings filii, Tertii Honorandissimi, Ferdinandi Comitis Huntingdoniee qui Hanc Vitam, Mutavit Anno Nono Ætatis sum Anno Dom. 1647. Octavo Maii. Ferdinando Hastings. Of God he stands in fear, Is of his name The anagram: So of his pious mind The happy character.
The loss of two sons, it may be conceived, was sufficiently distressing to a parent's feelings, but a still severer trial was reserved for them. Little more than two years after, on the 24th of June, 1649, Lord Henry, the eldest son, just in the flower of youth, and the love and admiration of all who knew him, was also cut off. He died of the small-pox, in his twentieth year, under the additional grief to his parents of his being then an only son, and, for a climax of affliction, on the very eve of his nuptials. The premature death of is amiable young nobleman, who, to the sweetest disposition and the most polished manners, added great proficiency in literature and a promise of uncommon talents, was a subject of universal lamentation and sympathy. Several of the most distinguished characters of that period, whether for worth, abilities, or elevated rank, joined the homage of their regrets, and paid "the meed of a melodious tear" to his Lordship's memory. Nearly an hundred elegiac poems were composed on the melancholy occasion, and afterwards published under the title of "Lachrymae Musarum; the Tears of the Muses; expressed in Elegies written by divers Persona of Nobility and Worth, upon the Death of the most hopeful Henry, Lord Hastings, only Son of the Right Honourable Ferdinando Earl of Huntingdon, Heir-general to the high-born Prince George, Duke of Clarence, Brother to King Edward the Fourth: collected and set forth by R. B. 1649". Among the eminent names, contributors to this collection, we find Lord Falkland, Dryden, Marvel, Herrick, Denham, the Honourable Ralph Montagu, and many others who emulated each other in celebrating the virtues of the deceased, and enshrining his character in immortal verse. A few select flowers, transplanted from this funereal garland of the Muses, cannot be deemed exotics here.
The following epitaphs were proposed :
Here lies the age's paramount, the store Of Albion's shame, because it mourns no more, And since the fate is so, if for his fall We cannot weep enough, our children shall. J. Rossz.
Tread off, profaner feet! forbear To press this hallowed mould, where lies Firm virtue's and high honour's heir, The darling of the courteous skies, Who, by rare parts, the flight of fame In life outwent ; in death his name. Thomas Bancroft.
Three royal Henries, sprung from Huntingdon, We saw alive: the first and last are gone Bright saints to heaven, above all fancy'd spheres. To meet their sovereign in that House of Peers. The third God's hand by wonder hath preserved. In whom their honour trebly is reserved. So Sybil's books consumed, the last contains Their precious truths, and treble value gains. Howe'er we sadly mourn, his nephew's fate Makes widowed England still more desolate. Oh, never such a son to parent's mind! Oh, never subject loyaller inclined! Oh, none more pious, none more man, so soon Ripe for his set, ere raised to half his noon. That mightier hand that stopped the mighty sun. Canst thou his circle sooner make him run? A varied fever had surprised his head. And death ensued when royal blood he bled ; Bodies live not when head and heart decays. Where all their veins are right Basilicas ; The fountain dried, how should the channel run ? Good night to stars when darkened is the sun. Thus royal, loyal, leam'd, lov'd Hastings lies, All good men's loss, to saints a glorious prize." Thomas Pestellus, filius.
Upon the Death of Lord Hastings, by Dryden. Must noble Hastings immaturely die, The honour of his ancient family. Beauty and learning thus together meet. To bring a winding for a wedding sheet? Must virtue prove death's harbinger ? must she. With him expiring, feel mortality ? Is death, sin's wages, grace's now? shall art Make us more learned, only to depart? If merit be disease; if virtue death; To be good, not to be ; who'd then bequeath Himself to discipline? who'd not esteem Labour a crime ? study self-murther deem ?Our noble ypu|h.now have pretence to be Dunces securely, ignorant heathily. Rare linguist whose worth speaks itself whose praise Though not his own, all tongues besides do raise : Than whom great Alexander miay seem less; Who conquer'd mens but not their languages. In his mouth nations spake; his tongue might be Interpreter to Greece, France, Italy. His native soil Was the four parts o' the earth ; All Europe was too narrow for his birth. A young apostle; and, with reverence may I speak't inspir'd with gift of tongues, as they. Nature gave him, a child, what men in vain Oft strive, by art though furthered, to obtain. His body was an orb, his sublime soul Did move on virtue's and on learning's pole : Whose regular motions better to our view. Than Archimedes' sphere, the heavens did shew. Graces and virtues, languages and arts. Beauty and learning, fill'd up all the parts. Heaven's gifts, which do like falling stars appear Scatter'd in others ; all, as in their sphere. Were fix'd, conglobate in his soul : and thence Shone through his body, with sweet influence; Letting their glories so on each limb fall. The whole frame rendered was celestial. Come, learned Ptolemy, and trial make. If thou this hero's altitude cans't take: But that transcends thy skill ; thrice happy all. Could we but prove thus astronomical. Liv'd Tycho now, struck with this ray, which shone More bright i' the morn', than others beam at noon, He'd take his astrolabe, and seek out here What new star 'twas did gild our hemisphere. Replenish'd then with such rare gifts as these. Where was room left for such a foul disease? The nation's sin hath drawn that veil, which shrouds Our day-spring in so sad benighting clouds. Heaven would no longer trust its pledge; but thus Recall'd it ; rapt its Ganymede from us. Was there no milder way but the small-pox, The very filthiness of Pandora's box ? So many spots, like næves on Venus* soil. One jewel set off with so many a foil; Blisters with pride swell'd, which through's flesh did sprout Like rose-buds, stuck i' the lilly skin about. Each little pimple had a tear in it, To wail the fault its rising did commit: Which, rebel like, with its own lord at strife, Thus made an insurrection 'gainst his life. Or were these gems sent to adorn his skin. The cabinet of a richer soul within ? No comet need foretel his change drew on. Whose corpse might seem a constellation. O ! had he died of old, how great a strife Had been, who from his death should draw their life? Who should, by one rich draught, become whate'er Seneca, Cato, Numa, Csesar, were? Learn'd, virtuous, pious, great; and have by this An universal metempsychosis. Must all these aged sires in one funeral Expire? all die in one so young, so small ? Who, had he liv'd his life out, his great fame Had swol'n 'bove any Greek or Roman name. But hasty winter, with one blast, hath brought The hopes of autumn, summer, spring, to nought Thus fades the oak i' the sprig, i' the blade the corn. Thus without young, this Phoenix dies, new bom. Must then old three-legg'd grey-beards with their gout, Catarrhs, rheums, aches, live three ages out? Time's offals, only fit for the hospital ! Or to hang antiquaries' rooms withal! Must drunkards, lechers, spent with sinning, live With such helps as broths, possets, physic give? None live, but such as should die ? shall we meet With none but ghostly fathers in the street ? Grief makes me rail; sorrow will force its way; And show'rs of tears tempestuous sighs best lay. The tongue may fail ; but overflowing eyes Will weep out lasting streams of elegies.
But thou, O virgin-widow, left alone Now thy belov'd, heaven-ravish'd spouse is gone, Whose skilful sire in vain strove to apply Med'cines, when thy balm was no remedy. With greater than Platonic love, O wed His soul, though not his body, to thy bed : Let that make thee a mother; bring thou forth The ideas of his virtue, knowledge, worth; Transcribe the original in new copies; give Hastings o' the better part : so shall he live In's nobler half; and the great grandsire be Of an heroic divine progeny : An issue, which to eternity shall last, Yet but the irradiations which he cast. Erect no mausoleums : for his best Monument is his spouse's marble breast.
Not long after the death of this so much lamented yomig noble- man his afflicted parents were blest by Providence with another son, Theophilus, who inherited the title, and was seventh Earl.