'But the episode had troubled and unsettled her. Passing through the empty Hall, later in the day, she stopped to stare at the portrait of that Mary, Countess of Shrewsbury, in whose honor the college had been founded. The painting was a well-executed modern copy of the one in St. John’s College, Cambridge, and the queer, strong-featured face, with its ill-tempered mouth and sidelong, secretive glance, had always exercised a curious fascination over her—even in her student days, a period when the portraits of dead and gone celebrities exposed in public places incur more sarcastic comment than reverential consideration. She did not know, and indeed had never troubled to inquire, how Shrewsbury College had come to adopt so ominous a patroness. Bess of Hardwick’s daughter had been a great intellectual, indeed, but something of a holy terror; uncontrollable by her menfolk, undaunted by the Tower, contemptuously silent before the Privy Council, an obstinate recusant, a staunch friend and implacable enemy and a lady with a turn for invective remarkable even in an age when few mouths suffered from mealiness. She seemed, in fact, to be the epitome of every alarming quality which a learned woman is popularly credited with developing. Her husband, the “great and glorious Earl of Shrewsbury,” had purchased domestic peace at a price; for, said Bacon, there was “a greater than he, which is my Lady of Shrewsbury.” And that, of course, was a dreadful thing to have said about one.'
Dorothy L. Sayers, Gaudy Night (1935), Chapter III.
Image: Portrait of Mary, Countess of Shrewsbury, held by St. John's College, Cambridge. (x)
30 notes · View notes