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Title: The Picture Gallery Explored - Or, an account of various ancient customs and manners: - interspersed with anecdotes and biographical sketches of - eminent persons
Author: Unknown
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "The Picture Gallery Explored - Or, an account of various ancient customs and manners: - interspersed with anecdotes and biographical sketches of - eminent persons" ***

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                                  THE

                            Picture Gallery

                               EXPLORED.



------------------------------------------------------------------------


[Illustration:
Page 12.
Page 53.

London: Published by Harvey & Darton, Mar. 1, 1825.]


------------------------------------------------------------------------



                                  THE

                            PICTURE GALLERY

                               Explored;


           AN ACCOUNT OF VARIOUS ANCIENT CUSTOMS AND MANNERS:

                           INTERSPERSED WITH

                  ANECDOTES AND BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES

                                   OF

                            EMINENT PERSONS.


                    [Illustration: DE PLANOIN ALTUM]


                                London:

                    PUBLISHED BY HARVEY AND DARTON,
                          GRACECHURCH STREET.

                                 1825.


------------------------------------------------------------------------



                                PREFACE.

                               ----------

ALTHOUGH nothing is original in the following little work, except the
dialogue, which was necessary as a connecting link; yet the compiler
trusts, that it will be found to contain, in a small compass, much
useful and interesting information. In selecting the anecdotes from
writers of acknowledged merit and veracity, she has endeavoured to
avoid, as much as possible, the beaten track, and to introduce names and
points of character, not usually presented to the notice of children.
She still remembers, with pleasure, the avidity with which, when quite
young, she perused _true_ stories, and how anxiously she sought for
further particulars of those illustrious individuals, who either gained
her affectionate admiration by their exemplary virtues, or elated her
young imagination by the brilliancy of their talents or their
achievements.

Such biographical sketches are introduced, as were thought likely to
awaken emulation, or to lead forward in the path of piety and knowledge.


------------------------------------------------------------------------



                                  THE

                            PICTURE GALLERY.

                               ----------



                               CHAPTER I.


“WELL, Ann,” said Susan Spencer, “it really is fixed for us to visit
cousin Robert; for mamma has given orders to Hayward to prepare our
clothes, and we are to set out next Monday.”

“I cannot think what can induce mamma to visit him just now,” answered
Susan: “he is such an oddity, I hear, and lives so very retired. Mary
Morgan told me, (and Mary knows him well,) that he rarely goes into
parties; and she laughed immoderately, when she said that the heavy
little windows, and massy doors of the old mansion, always reminded her
of a monastery; and, for her part, she thought it would be better to
turn it into one, people it with monks, and make Mr. Wilmot superior of
the order. I cannot tell you half that she said; but it was so droll,
that we all laughed with her.”

“I dare say you did,” replied Susan; “and I think it excessively
provoking to be immured there, when the Drummonds, and the Williams’s,
and the Grovenors are going to the seaside. It vexes me to think how
Miss Drummond will boast, when she returns, of the company she has been
introduced to, the new fashions she has seen, and how often her music
and dancing were praised; whilst you and I must sit by, without having a
word to say, or being able to relate any thing but the histories of the
old rooks, that perched in the high trees close to the house, or——or——”
But here they were interrupted by the entrance of their mother; and as
they well knew that observations of this kind would be displeasing to
her, they turned the conversation to some indifferent subject.

Susan and Ann Spencer were the daughters of a military officer, whose
delicate state of health had obliged his wife to accompany him abroad;
leaving, with reluctance, her two little daughters to the care of their
paternal grandmother. They were good-tempered, affectionate, and
animated; but the mistaken fondness of the old lady, had not only
indulged their weaknesses, and forbade any correction of their errors,
but had introduced them into all her parties; so that their little heads
were filled with the love of dress and visiting.

The death of their father in India, and the return of their mother,
after an absence of six years, suddenly put a stop to these injudicious
plans; and Susan and Ann had been under their mother’s care about three
months, when the preceding dialogue took place.

Mrs. Spencer was a woman of too sincere piety, and too good an
understanding, to allow her grief, deep as it was, for her departed
husband, to interfere with her duties towards her children. She knew
that the best test she could give of affection to his memory, was to
render them worthy of his name, and, if possible, inheritors of his
virtues. She loved them with the tenderest affection, but she was not
blind to their faults; and whilst she strove to gain their confidence,
she endeavoured, by gentle means, to counteract their foibles.

Whilst she was endeavouring to arrange her plans, she received an
invitation from her cousin, Mr. Wilmot, an elderly gentleman, and the
guardian of her children, to pay him a visit of some months; and knowing
that she should receive from him that advice and co-operation, which
long experience, a sound judgment, and a well-informed mind could
bestow, she hesitated not to accept so desirable a proposal.

On the following morning the party left Brook-street, and in a few days
reached the place of their destination, without the occurrence of any
material incident on the road. They were received with the hospitality
and politeness inseparable from benevolence and good-breeding; and even
Susan and Ann, prejudiced as they were, could not help silently
allowing, that he was neither quite so ugly, nor so old-fashioned, as
they expected.

The evening passed cheerfully in detailing the little events of their
journey; and when, as their cousin took them by the hand, in bidding
them good night, he kindly said, “I have known both your parents from
infancy, and hope that I shall find, on further acquaintance, that you,
my dear girls, are equally worthy of my love,” they involuntarily
dropped their best curtseys, and returned his salutation with their most
good-humoured smiles.

Mr. Wilmot was fond of children, and he devised many schemes for Susan’s
and Ann’s amusement. “When we are become better known to each other,”
said he to Mrs. Spencer, “I shall submit some plans for their
instruction; till then, allow me to dissipate the gloomy ideas that, I
dare say, have crept into their minds, from the notion of visiting a
recluse old man.” And so completely did he succeed, that, in a few
weeks, the two girls wondered that they could ever have imagined such an
agreeable visit could be a dull one.

The summer was now in its beauty, and a party was proposed for an
excursion on the water. Mr. Wilmot, who had entered into more company
since the arrival of his relations, readily acquiesced in the invitation
of a neighbouring family, that he and the ladies should partake of the
proposed pleasure. The little girls anticipated with youthful impatience
the happy morning; and scarcely had day-light entered their chamber,
when, jumping out of bed, they drew aside their curtains, in the hope of
beholding a resplendent day; and their disappointment was extreme, in
finding it pouring with rain, without the slightest prospect of its
cessation.

With heavy hearts they descended to the breakfast-table; and after
watching for some time the continued pattering of the rain, Susan at
last exclaimed, “How mortifying! I cannot think what we shall do with
ourselves to-day.” Mr. Wilmot smiled, and said, “I hope, my dear, all
our stores of amusement are not exhausted, even though the elements are
unpropitious to our excursion. When you have finished your bread and
butter, I fancy this key (drawing at the same time one from his pocket,)
will unlock some little store of entertainment.”

“Oh, Sir, we will be ready in a few minutes,” said the girls,
brightening up at this intelligence; and eagerly dispatching the remains
of their meal, they followed their kind cousin through the hall, till he
stopped at an oaken door, to which he applied the key; and in an instant
they found themselves within a spacious and handsome PICTURE GALLERY.


------------------------------------------------------------------------



                               CHAP. II.

                               ----------


“STOP, stop, my dears,” cried Mr. Wilmot, in answer to the girls’
repeated enquiries: “one question, if you please, at a time. What did
you say, Ann?”

“I was wondering, Sir,” answered Ann, “that you should have, amongst
this beautiful collection of paintings, an engraving of London Bridge: I
have passed over it repeatedly, and never saw any thing remarkable in
it.”

“Perhaps not, my dear,” said Mr. Wilmot; “but might not this proceed
from your ignorance of the events connected with it. For my own part, I
never cross it without musing on the ‘mighty past,’ and contrasting the
eventful scenes that have taken place either upon it, or in its
immediate vicinity, with the present happy state of commercial bustle
and national peace.”

“And pray, Sir, what were those events?” asked Ann: “when did they take
place, and when was the bridge built? If it is not too much trouble,
perhaps you will have the kindness to relate to us a few of these
particular circumstances.”

“Certainly, my love,” answered Mr. Wilmot; “and in endeavouring to give
you the information you desire, I trust you will find it not only a
detail of dates, but a chain of interesting anecdotes; which have,
moreover, for you, Susan, the additional charm of being all _true_. And
now, without any further preface, I shall inform you, that the first
notice of the existence of a bridge occurs in the laws of Ethelred,
which fix the tolls of vessels coming to Billingsgate _ad pontem_.
Pennant remarks that it could not be prior to 993, when Unlaf the Dane
sailed up the river as high as Staines, without interruption; nor yet
subsequent to the year 1016, in which Ethelred died, and the great
Canute, king of Denmark, when he besieged London, was impeded in his
operations by a bridge, which even at that time must have been strongly
fortified, to oblige him to have recourse to the vast expedient I shall
tell you of. He caused a prodigious ditch to be cut on the south side of
the Thames, at Rotherhithe or Redriff, a little to the east of
Southwark; which he continued at the south end of the bridge, in the
form of a semicircle, opening into the western part of the river.
Through this he drew his ships, and effectually completed the blockade
of the city. Evidences of this great work were found in the place called
Dock Head, near Redriff. In digging this dock, in 1694, fascines (or
faggots) of hazel and other brush-wood, fastened down with stakes, were
discovered; and large oaken planks, and numbers of piles, have been met
with in ditching, in other adjacent parts.

“Previous to the erection of the bridge, a ferry had long been
established, on or near the site. Some historians assert, that the first
stone bridge was built or commenced in the reign of the empress Maude;
but during the boisterous era of her brief dominion, and her incessant
struggle for power with king Stephen, it may be supposed that she had
little time for beautifying the city.

“Pennant and other antiquarians inform us, that the first stone bridge
was built in the reign of John, by Peter, curate of St. Mary Cole
Church, a celebrated architect of that period: it proved the work of
thirty-three years; and Peter dying in the interim, was buried in the
chapel, which he had constructed in one of the piers, in honour of St.
Thomas.

“Solidity appears to have been the chief object of the artist; and to
accomplish this object, all other considerations were disregarded or
sacrificed. It would be superfluous to descant on the well-known defects
of the foundation of London Bridge: they survive to this day, though not
to the same extent as formerly. You will be surprised to hear, that the
bridge was crowded with houses, badly constructed, which leaned in a
terrific manner, and were obliged to be propped with timber, which
crossed in arches from the roofs, to keep the buildings together, and to
prevent them from falling into the river. Dismal confined residences,
immersed in dirt and dissonance, for ever assailed by the din of carts
and rumbling over the narrow pavement; the clamours of watermen, the
rush of falling waters, and the frequent shrieks of drowning wretches,
whelmed in the cataract below: to these horrors, were added, at
intervals, the calamities of fire and pestilence.

“A conflagration burst out on the south-west side: the bridge was
instantly covered with multitudes, who rushed out of the city to
extinguish the flames. Whilst engaged in this charitable office, the
fire seized the other end, and hemmed in the crowd. Above three thousand
persons perished: those who escaped the flames, were swallowed by the
waves; and the fire above was only less insatiable than the deluge
beneath. Originally there were three openings on each side of the
street, decorated with balustrades, to give the passengers a view of the
water and the shipping.

“In one of these a draw-bridge was contrived, useful either by way of
defence, or for the admission of vessels into the upper part of the
river. This was protected by a strong tower, which being well armed and
manned, occasioned the repulse of Fauconbridge, in 1471, in his wild
attempt upon the city, at the head of a lawless banditti, under pretence
of rescuing the unfortunate Henry the Sixth, at that time a prisoner in
the Tower in London. Sixty houses on the bridge were burnt in the
desperate attack, and no less desperate defence. A second conflict took
place during the ill-conducted insurrection of Sir Thomas Wyatt, in the
reign of Queen Mary; and the check which that rash adventurer received,
in endeavouring to force the bridge, brought on a series of disasters
which ended in the total annihilation of his disorganized force. He, and
about sixty of his followers, were executed, and their heads gibbeted in
the most public parts of the city. So late as the year 1598, Hentner,
the German traveller, enumerated above thirty heads, which he had
counted with a pathetical accuracy; and the old map of the city, 1597,
represents them in horrible clusters.”

“How dreadful such exhibitions must have been!” said Susan.

“Yes, my dear, it must have been revolting to every humane mind: and I
gladly turn your attention from the contemplation of this frightful
spectacle, to the romantic exploits of Edward Osborne, apprentice to Sir
William Hewit, cloth-worker, who, about the year 1536, was an inhabitant
of one of the perilous houses on the bridge. A maid-servant, playing
with his only daughter in her arms, at a window over the water, dropped
the child: death seemed inevitable; for few escaped the whirlpools
below, and still fewer were daring enough to hazard their own lives, in
the fearful chance of saving another’s; but young Osborne lost not a
moment in considering the risk, but plunged gallantly into the torrent,
and brought the rescued infant safely to land. His intrepid valour met
its due reward: when the young lady attained womanhood, she paid her
preserver with her heart. Several persons of rank asked her hand in
marriage; and the earl of Shrewsbury, representative of the noble family
of Talbot, became a suitor to the merchant’s heiress. But, undazzled by
the title which courted her acceptance, with the tender devotedness to
her first affection, that renders woman’s love so pure and holy, she
kept her faith to her more humble lover; and Sir William, grateful for
the precious blessing of a daughter endued with one of the sweetest
attributes of feminine virtue, generously gave her to him who best
deserved the boon. Edward Osborne proved no common man: he took the tide
of fortune at the flood, and became the founder of a family destined to
obtain the highest honours in the state. The duke of Leeds sprung from
this auspicious union.”

“I am glad this brave young man succeeded so well,” said Ann. “Have you
any more anecdotes to tell us, Sir?”

“A melancholy tale,” continued Mr. Wilmot, “is connected with the annals
of London Bridge. Amidst the multitudes who have found a grave in the
dangerous abyss which yawns beneath, one voluntarily sought in it a
resting-place, and oblivion for a spirit deeply wounded by the
ingratitude of a friend. The son of Sir William Temple, the bosom
counsellor of William of Nassau, yet the honest adviser of his
ill-starred master, James the Second, when his father declined to take a
share in the new government, accepted the office of secretary of war.
His interest procured the release of captain Hamilton, confined in the
Tower for high treason, under his promise that he would repair to
Tyrconnel, then in arms for king James in Ireland, and persuade him to
submit. When arrived in that country, this faithless friend immediately
joined the rebels, and led on a regiment to the attack of king William’s
troops. The taunts of rival courtiers, the unfortunate termination of
his endeavours to serve his sovereign; and, above all, the sting of that
barbed arrow, winged by the hand of one whom he had so loved and
trusted, threw him into a profound melancholy; and though the king was
fully convinced of his innocence, he possessed not fortitude to sustain
the mental pang. On the 14th of April, 1689, he hired a boat on the
Thames, and directed the waterman to shoot the bridge: at that instant
he flung himself into the cataract; and having filled his pockets with
stones, to prevent all chance of safety, instantly sunk.

“He left a note in the boat, in explanation of the motives which led to
the fatal resolution, to this effect: ‘My folly in undertaking what I
was unable to perform, has done the king and kingdom a great deal of
prejudice. I wish him all happiness, and abler servants than John
Temple.’

“Deeply as we must lament the wrongs and sufferings of this unfortunate
gentleman, we cannot help deploring still more his melancholy end. ‘Thou
shalt not kill,’ is a sacred and imperative command, equally involving
self-destruction with murder. And, although the spirit may be goaded to
agony, yet insanity can alone apologize for suicide. Let us hope, that
in this instance, it was temporary mental aberration that led to the
fatal act.

“But to return to the narrative of London Bridge. The church of St.
Magnus, at the bottom of Fish-street Hill, is a memorial of the
foresight and sagacity of Sir Christopher Wren. The houses on the
bridge, at the time that this building was erected, projected beyond it,
and reached the church, when they became too great a nuisance to be
tolerated, and were taken down. The foot-path to the bridge was
obstructed by the tower of St. Magnus, so that travellers were obliged
to traverse the carriage-road. Unwilling to endure the continuance of
this inconvenience, a meeting was held to consult on the propriety of
cutting a passage through the wall. This expedient was considered to be
extremely hazardous; but no other being practicable, it was determined
to try it. The workmen, on commencing their operations, found a complete
and perfect arch, which this great architect, foreseeing the alterations
which time would render necessary on the bridge, had provided for the
convenience of posterity. When the present bridge shall be taken down,
passengers will have to rejoice at the increased convenience and comfort
that a new erection may afford; but the antiquary will sometimes heave a
sigh over the destruction of this silent memorial of days long passed
away.”

“Pray, Sir,” said Susan, when Mr. Wilmot paused, “who was Sir Thomas
Wyatt, of whom you spoke in the early part of your account?”

“Sir Thomas Wyatt, of Allingham Castle in Kent,” replied Mr. Wilmot,
“was the son of the poet, wit, and courtier of that name. He was once
distinguished for his zealous loyalty, and is said to have been also a
catholic, a peculiarly acceptable circumstance in the reign of queen
Mary, herself a rigid Papist. Though allied in blood to the Dudleys, not
only had he refused, to Northumberland, his concurrence in the
nomination of Jane Grey, but without waiting to see which party would
prevail, he had proclaimed queen Mary in the market-place at Maidstone;
for which instance of attachment he had received her thanks. But Wyatt
had been employed, for several years, on embassies to Spain; and the
intimate acquaintance he had acquired of the principles and practices of
its court, filled him with such horror, that, on the intended marriage
of Mary with Philip, he incited his friends and neighbours to rebellion.
For this unguarded and very wrong step, he justly suffered the
punishment of the laws. Other charges were adduced; and it was said,
(how truly cannot now be ascertained,) that it was the intention of the
conspirators to dethrone Mary, and place her sister Elizabeth on the
throne, having first married her to the earl of Devonshire. These latter
accusations might be groundless; but when a man permits himself to take
up arms against his sovereign, he cannot say, ‘So far will I go, and no
further.’”

“Thank you, Sir,” said Susan, when Mr. Wilmot concluded: “I hope all
your anecdotes are not finished.”

“Amongst the names that I have enumerated,” replied Mr. Wilmot, “I
forgot to mention Sir William Wallace, who was hanged and quartered in
Smithfield, in 1305, and his head stuck upon a pole fixed upon London
Bridge.”

“Dear Sir,” said Susan, “what crime had he committed? and who was he?”

“His only crime, my dear,” answered the old gentleman, “was
magnanimously defending his country against the ambitious designs of our
king Edward the First. But to answer to your second question fully, I
must enter first into a few particulars.

“One of the enterprises that presented itself to the ambition of the
martial Edward, was the conquest of Scotland; a country which he was
desirous of annexing to his hereditary dominions, as Ireland and Wales
had already been; or, at least, of reducing it to a state of dependance
on the English crown. A dispute arose about this time, between the
competitors for the crown of Scotland, John Baliol and Robert Bruce,
whose claims were nearly equal, and whose parties were almost of equal
strength.

“To avoid the horrors of a civil war, the chiefs determined that the
question should be referred to the king of England, for arbitration.

“This appeal furnished Edward with the occasion he had long desired, of
laying claim to the sovereignty of Scotland. He endeavoured, in vain, to
establish his right by precedents, arguments, and diplomatic reasonings.
None of these availed to produce conviction in the minds of the Scotch,
till they were backed by a powerful army! Judgment was at last given in
favour of Baliol, though clogged with the condition, that he should take
the oath of allegiance to the king of England. But this unhappy prince
soon found, that, instead of being a sovereign, he was really a slave.
To remind him of his dependance on the crown of England, Edward cited
him, on every trifling occasion, to his court, and required him to renew
his homage continually. This royal vassal was summoned six times in the
course of the year, to appear before the king in parliament, and answer
to complaints lodged against him; and, on some of these occasions, he
was treated with the greatest indignity. Averse as was this prince from
war, he could not submit to such degradation, but secretly prepared to
shake off a yoke which had proved so galling. An open rupture would
probably have immediately ensued, had not the attention of Edward been
withdrawn from the affairs of Scotland, by a war with France, in which
he found himself suddenly involved. A scuffle which had taken place
between the crew of a Norman and English vessel, involved the nations to
which they belonged in a destructive war, which raged with great fury
for a considerable time, and in which torrents of human blood were
wantonly shed.

“In order to avert the storm of war from his own dominions, the French
king made common cause with Baliol of Scotland, and encouraged him to
assert his independence; and Edward immediately suspended his
continental operations, that he might lend his whole strength to the
conquest of Scotland, and the subjection or expulsion of its sovereign.

“The Scottish chiefs, who had witnessed with indignation the degradation
of their king and country, gathered all their forces; and every thing
indicated the approach of a tremendous conflict. But as yet they wanted
a leader of sufficient courage and patriotism, around whose banner they
might rally with confidence. Baliol made a feeble effort to preserve his
crown; but was at length utterly defeated by the earl of Warienne, in
the battle of Dunbar, after which he surrendered himself to Edward, who
committed him to the Tower of London, where the unfortunate prince
languished several years in solitary confinement.

“Nor was the severity of the king confined to the person of the fallen
monarch. Many of the nobility of Scotland were sent into England, and
immured in different castles; the ensigns of royalty were carried off,
with all the contents of the Scottish treasury; and the most important
affairs, both civil and military, confided to Englishmen.

“Thus Scotland wore, for a time, the appearance of a conquered country;
and it is not improbable that Edward flattered himself, that these hardy
sons of the north were completely brought into subjection. If such,
however, were his expectations, he was soon undeceived; for whilst the
king was carrying on the continental war, for the recovery of those
possessions which had formerly belonged to the English crown, a
revolution suddenly broke out in Scotland, which was stirred up by a
chief of great intrepidity and inflexible patriotism. This celebrated
chieftain was Sir William Wallace, whose virtues and heroic deeds make
so conspicuous a figure in the annals of Scotland, and whose name well
deserves to be enrolled amongst the patriots and martyrs of former
generations.

“This generous chief, feeling yet more acutely for the oppressed state
of his country, than for his personal wrongs, gathered around him a
small but valiant band, which harassed the English army in all its
movements, and not unfrequently attacked, with success, detachments of
the army, far superior in number to themselves. The reputation, and
consequently the followers of Wallace, increased daily; until, at
length, he was able to give battle to the earl of Surry, who commanded
an army of forty thousand veteran soldiers, and he defeated him, with
great loss, in the celebrated battle of Stirling. Following the tide of
success, which had set in so strongly in his favour, Wallace drove the
English before him, out of Scotland, penetrated into the border
counties, took possession of several English fortresses of great
strength, and returned laden with the spoils of victory. Edward was
informed of these disasters, while prosecuting a war in Flanders, and
lost no time in repairing to the north of England, with all the troops
he could collect. In a short time he found himself at the head of an
army, containing upwards of eighty thousand infantry and seven thousand
cavalry. Thus powerfully reinforced, he marched forward to meet the
enemy, who were encamped near Falkirk. A tremendous battle ensued, in
which, after prodigies of valour performed on both sides, the English
were completely victorious. But notwithstanding the overwhelming forces
of the English monarch, and the divided state of their own country, the
Scottish patriots were not deterred from persisting in the attempt to
regain their independence, however hopeless it might appear. They
rallied again and again, after repeated defeats and losses, until, at
length, the principal nobility of Scotland, moved by jealousy of each
other, and corrupted by the flatteries of Edward, deserted, and finally
betrayed, their gallant leader. The satisfaction of Edward was too great
to be concealed, when he learned that Wallace had been delivered into
his hands, by the treachery of Sir John Monteith, one of his own
countrymen: unmindful of the generosity which had distinguished his
youth, he now breathed revenge against his fallen adversary, and ordered
him to be conducted to London, where he was publicly executed as a
traitor, though he had never been a subject of the English crown.”

“Oh, how unjust,” said Susan. “Do tell us some more anecdotes.” “Oh,
pray do,” said Ann.

“I am sorry to refuse you,” answered Mr. Wilmot; “but it is two o’clock,
and it is time to join your mamma. Besides,” continued he, smiling, “we
should even use our rational pleasures with moderation, if we mean to
continue the enjoyment of them.”

“Well, then, dear Mr. Wilmot, you will let us come soon again,” cried
the girls.

“Yes, my dears,” he replied. “But see, the sun is shining: we can take a
little walk before dinner: it will refresh you.”

The party then left the gallery.


------------------------------------------------------------------------



                               CHAP. III.

                               ----------


AS it is not my intention to enter so fully into the history of Susan
and Ann, as it is to relate the _true stories_ they heard from Mr.
Wilmot, I shall only just tell my young readers, that the following day
proving fine, they enjoyed the promised excursion on the water. The
weather now becoming very sultry, and the children unable to take their
morning walks, their mother and Mr. Wilmot, who sought to mingle
instruction with amusement, proposed that they should spend an hour or
two, in the middle of every day, in the picture gallery.

The two little girls were delighted with this proposition, and followed
with alacrity their good-humoured conductor, as he kindly led the way.

When they had entered the room, Mr. Wilmot stopped before a fine sketch
of an entrance into Oxford; and whilst pointing out to the children the
college at which he had been educated, he enquired whether they had ever
been told who were the first founders of the university.

The children answering in the negative, Mr. Wilmot proceeded to tell
them that it was founded in the year 886[1], in the second year after
St. Grimbald’s coming over to England. Its first regents and readers in
divinity were, St. Neot, an abbot and eminent professor of theology; and
St. Grimbald, an eloquent and most excellent interpreter of the Holy
Scriptures; grammar and rhetoric were taught by Asser, a monk of
extraordinary learning; logic, music, and arithmetic, by John, a monk of
St. David’s; and geometry and astronomy by another John, a monk and a
colleague of St. Grimbald, a man of acute wit and immense erudition.
“These lectures,” says the annalist, “were often honoured with the
presence of the most illustrious and invincible king Alfred, whose
memory, to every judicious taste, shall be sweeter than honey.” From
this small beginning arose this now celebrated university, which is at
once the ornament and pride of the land.

Footnote 1:

  See Camden’s Britannica.

A few observations made by Mrs. Spencer, who had joined the party, led
Mr. Wilmot to give the following sketch of the progress of Christianity,
from its first introduction into this country, together with the origin
and establishment of the protestant religion.

“Various are the opinions,” said he, “entertained respecting the precise
period when, or by whom, Christianity was first introduced into this
happy island. Nor can it tend to our improvement, though it might
gratify our curiosity, to know, whether St. Paul, when he visited the
‘western isles,’ included England; or whether his immediate
predecessors, or followers, preached the ‘glad tidings of salvation’ to
the natives. It is sufficient for us to know, that the gospel found its
way hither some time in the _first_ century; since, in the persecution
of the Christians, by the cruel and tyrannical Nero, in the year 64,
many of them fled hither for an asylum. Its progress in Great Britain,
during the _three_ first centuries, is certainly involved in some
obscurity; though it probably increased during the _fourth_ century, as
we find three English bishops present, at the council held at Arminium,
respecting the Arian controversy.

“About this period the Saxons, having subdued the country, pursued, with
unrelenting cruelty, the Christians: multitudes of whom were put to
death, and thousands sought and found a refuge in the mountains of
Wales. History has stamped the character of our countrymen in this age
with infamy. From the sovereign to the meanest of his subjects,
licentiousness and gross immorality abounded; and it is cheering to turn
from this darkened era, to the labours of the celebrated St. Augustine,
and forty other monks, who, having been sent from Rome, for the purpose
of converting our island to the faith, succeeded in persuading the Anglo
Saxons to embrace Christianity, about the year 590. On Christmas-day,
king Ethelbert and ten thousand of his subjects were baptized; and
though, amongst this crowd of professed converts, there is reason to
fear that few possessed more than the name of Christian, we may yet
believe there were some on whom the ‘day-star’ had not risen in vain.

“In the _seventh_ century our island had almost universally received the
Christian religion: popish superstition had, however, unhappily mixed
itself with the pure faith, and increased rapidly. One great source of
corruption in the clergy, was the practice that now prevailed of
persuading people to relinquish their property to them, and go on
pilgrimage.

“On the death of Augustine, who had been consecrated the first
archbishop of Canterbury, Laurentius succeeded to the vacant see; and,
through his instrumentality, king Edbald was not only converted, but
promoted the gospel by every means in his power.

“The first Saxon king who completely cast _all_ his ‘idols to the moles
and to the bats,’ was Ercombert, the son of Edbald, who reigned in 640.

“It is impossible to contemplate this era of our national history,
without regretting the superstitious, and even idolatrous rites, which
were interwoven with the profession of the gospel made by our
forefathers: yet there is no doubt that genuine religion was possessed
by many, and Great Britain, at this period, was allowed the honour of
enlightening several of the neighbouring northern nations.

“In the _eighth_ century, the pope had obtained such influence, that he
exalted himself not only above every created being, but laid claim to
prerogatives and powers which belong to Omnipotence alone. The
distinguishing doctrines of the gospel were hid under a mass of
ceremonious observances: pardon for sin was to be purchased at the hands
of the priests; and immense sums were raised, by paying for masses, to
deliver the souls of the dead from purgatory.

“Still more lamentable was the state of religion in the _ninth_ century.
But Divine Providence, at this melancholy season, raised up a
‘nursing-father’ to the English church, in the person of king Alfred,
who seems to have ‘feared the Lord from his youth,’ having early
habituated himself to prayer. He was remarkable for his learning, as I
have before told you. He died in the year 900, and was buried at Hyde
Abbey in Winchester.

“Historians are all agreed that, in the _tenth_ century, scarcely a
vestige of true piety could be found. It was called ‘an iron age, barren
of all goodness—a leaden age, abounding in all wickedness.’
‘Christianity,’ to borrow the words of Melancthon, ‘during the middle
ages, was become a mere compound of philosophy and superstition.’ ‘What
religion did survive,’ says an admirable author, ‘was confined to a
few—was immured in cloisters—was exhausted in quibbles—was wasted in
unprofitable subtleties—was exhibited with little speculative clearness,
and less practical clearness.’ Yet, even in this dreary age, one faint
spark of light is discoverable. Bernard and Guthebald, two of the
natives of Britain, went as missionaries to Norway, where they
successfully preached the gospel, which extended itself from thence to
the Orkneys, Greenland, and Iceland.

“Religion and literature both rather improved in the _eleventh_ century.
The celebrated speech of William the Conqueror, after he became king of
England, has been often repeated. This dauntless monarch refused to be
considered as the vassal of the pope. ‘I hold my kingdom,’ said he,
‘from none but God and my sword.’ This king was a great encourager of
learning.

“In the _twelfth_ century Oxford became celebrated as the seat of
learning. The clergy now boldly claimed exemption from civil
jurisdiction, and their _right_ to appeal on all occasions to the pope.
To these extravagant pretensions king Stephen readily assented; but they
were resisted by his successor, Henry the Second. In spiritual affairs
_he_ was, however, enslaved to the popedom; and instances of his
persecutions are recorded, towards thirty men and women, who fled into
this country, from Germany, to avoid similar cruelties.

“In this century Richard the First engaged in the Crusades, to recover
the Holy Land from the Turks, but failed in his enterprise. His brother
John, who succeeded him, not only ignominiously swore fealty to the
pope, but stipulated for himself and his successors to pay an annual
tribute to Rome for ever, on pain of forfeiture of his kingdom. Some
idea may be formed of the thraldom in which this monarch was held, from
the following anecdote, recorded with feelings of just indignation, by
Holinshed, in his Chronicles.

“‘When,’ says he, ‘John, upon just occasion, had received some grudge
against the ambitious behaviour of the Cistercian monks, in the second
year of his reign; and, upon denial to pay such sums of money as was
allotted unto them, had caused seizure to be made of such horses, swine,
cows, and other things of theirs, which were maintained in his forests,
they denounced him as fast among themselves, with bell, book, and
candle, to be accursed and excommunicated. Thereto they so handled the
matter with the pope and their friends, that the king was fain to yield
to their good graces: insomuch that a meeting for pacification was
appointed between them, at Lincoln, by means of the archbishop of
Canterbury, who went often between him and the Cistercian commissioners,
before the matter could be settled. In the end, the king himself came
also unto the said commissioners, as they sat in their chapterhouse, and
_fell down at their feet_; craving pardon for his offences unto them,
and heartily requiring that they would, from thenceforth, commend him
and his realm, in their prayers, unto the protection of the Almighty,
and receive him into their fraternity: promising, moreover, full
satisfaction of their damages sustained, and to build a house of their
order, in whatsoever place of England it should please them to assign;
and this he confirmed by charter.’

“The _thirteenth_ century commenced with the persecution of the
Waldenses, one million of whom are said to have perished in France; and
the duke of Alva boasted that he destroyed thirty-six thousand of these
pious people in the Netherlands.

“The Dominican and Franciscan Friars arose about this time, and were in
great repute amongst the people, on account of their sanctity. But their
rapacity was unlimited; and the cloak of religion alone disguised their
exactions. Such was the superstition of the age, that our countryman,
Roger Bacon, was accused of magic, on account of his extraordinary
literary attainments, and confined in prison a long time, for no other
crime. He appears to have been a man not only of vast learning, but of a
philosophical and inventive genius.

“In the _fourteenth_ century, true religion was scarcely to be
recognized. The king and people of England were reduced to a state of
almost complete vassalage to the pope. In the reign of Henry the Fifth,
a law was passed against the perusal of the Scriptures in England. It
was enacted, ‘That whatsoever they were, that should read the Scriptures
in the mother tongue, they should forfeit land, cattle, life, and goods,
from their heirs for ever; and so be condemned for heretics to God,
enemies to the crown, and most errant traitors to the land.’

“In this century arose the order of Jesuits; an order which obtained a
political influence almost unparalleled. Their founder, Ignatius Loyola,
was born at the castle of Loyola, in the province of Guipuscoa, in
Spain, in 1391: he was first page to Ferdinand the Fifth, king of Spain,
and then an officer in his army; in which he signalized himself by his
valour, and was wounded in both legs, at the siege of Pampeluna, in
1421.

“To this circumstance the Jesuits owe their origin; for, whilst he was
under care of his wounds, a life of the Saints was put into his hands,
which determined him to forsake the military for the ecclesiastical
profession. His first devout exercise was to devote himself to the
Virgin Mary, as her knight: he then went a pilgrimage to the Holy Land;
and, on his return to Europe, he continued his theological studies in
the universities of Spain, though he was then thirty-three years of age.
After this he went to Paris; and in France laid the foundation of this
new order, the Institutes of which he presented to pope Paul the Third,
who made many objections to them; but Ignatius, adding to his three
vows, of Chastity, Poverty, and Obedience, a fourth of implicit
submission to the Holy See, the institution was at length confirmed; and
its founder expired the following year, _viz._ in 1450.

“Whilst we cannot but consider Ignatius Loyola in error, and must most
fully allow that the influence his followers obtained, was dangerous and
destructive; ‘yet, perhaps, of all the remarkable men whose lives have
been recorded, no one has displayed more ability in discovering his own
deficiencies, and more perseverance in correcting them. By the rare
union of unwearied patience and consummate prudence, with perfect
enthusiasm, he accomplished the object of his ambition; and lived to see
a wider range of success than his boldest hopes could have
anticipated[2].’

Footnote 2:

  Quarterly Review.

“But to return to my narration. No punishment appears to have been more
frequently inflicted by the clergy, than that of public penance; and as
a curious instance of it occurs in this century, in the reign of Henry
the Fifth, I shall give you the particulars.

“In the afternoon of Easter day, a time which required devotion, at a
sermon in the east of London, a great fray arose in the said church,
between the Lord Strange and Sir John Trussel, on account of some
misunderstanding subsisting between their wives. Many of the spectators
interfering, in order to appease, if possible, the tumult, they were not
only several of them badly wounded, but one man, named Thomas
Petwardine, killed on the spot. The gentlemen were in consequence
apprehended and committed to the Tower, and the service suspended.

“When information reached the archbishop of Canterbury respecting this
outrageous profanation of the church, he caused the offenders to be
excommunicated in St. Paul’s, and all other churches in London; and
shortly after he sat at St. Magnus, in order to enquire into the authors
of the offence, who were principally discovered to be Strange and his
wife. On the following first of May, the offenders submitted themselves
to do penance, and swore to do it agreeably as was enjoined, which was
as follows: That, immediately, all their servants should, in their
shirts, go before the parson of St. Dunstan’s, from St. Paul’s to the
said St. Dunstan’s seat, and the Lord Strange and his lady bare-footed;
Reginald Henwood, archdeacon of London, following them. Also it was
appointed, at the consecrating or hallowing the said church, which they
had profaned, the lady should fill all the vessels with water, and offer
likewise to the altar an ornament of ten pounds; and the lord, her
husband, a pix (or chest in which the Host is kept) of silver, value of
five pounds: which done, by way of satisfactory expiation, they were
absolved; but Lord Strange had first made the wife of the said
Petwardine, killed in the fray, large amends.

“But, in the midst of this papal tyranny, loud complaints began to be
heard; and, towards the latter end of this century, attempts were made
to reform them. Thomas Bradwardine, archbishop of Canterbury, who
devoted himself to the study of the Holy Scriptures, and whose writings
display the soundness of his doctrines, flourished in this age. He may
be justly termed one of the morning stars of the Reformation.

“About the year 1440, the art of printing was introduced; and this,
under the divine blessing, opened the way for the promulgation of the
sacred volume, with a rapidity unknown to manuscript editions. The first
printed book with _moveable_ types, was a copy of the Bible, which made
its appearance between the years 1450 and 1452. This discovery is
certainly to be attributed to the Germans, whether it consisted in
printing with blocks of wood, or types moveable at pleasure. John
Guttenburgh, of Mentz, has the best claim to the honour of this
invention. The introduction of this invaluable art into this country, in
1447, is justly ascribed to William Caxton, a merchant of London, who
acquired a knowledge of it in his travels abroad. He is said to have
been a native of Caxton, a village near Cambridge, towards the latter
end of the reign of Edward the Fourth. The first book printed in the
English tongue was ‘The Recuyell of the History of Troy;’ and is dated
September the nineteenth, 1471, at Cologne. The ‘Game of Chess,’ dated
in 1474, is allowed, by all typographical antiquaries, to have been the
first specimen of the art among us. Mr. Caxton died in 1486, or,
according to other accounts, in 1491.

“In this century, _viz._ in 1428, the bones of John Wickliffe, the
rising sun of the Reformation, were taken up and burnt, by an order of
the council of Constance; and his works were thrown publicly into the
flames, at Oxford.

“This great man was born at Richmond in Yorkshire, in the year 1324. He
was presented to the rectory of Lutterworth in Leicestershire, through
the influence of his friend the duke of Lancaster; and, in spite of the
machinations of the priests, he not only preached with great success,
but his doctrines became extremely popular, and he expired in peace, on
his living, in the year 1384.

“The event of his death was hailed with triumph by the popish faction.
But in vain did tyranny or artifice strive to stop the progress of
truth: his followers rapidly increased; and, under the name of Lollards,
we find them enduring, in the fifteenth century, a furious persecution.
Yet, in spite of all that cruelty could devise, the doctrines of
Wickliffe were not only maintained, but, one hundred and fifty years
afterwards, we find that they had made great progress through all ranks
in the nation.

“It was at this period that the Reformation from popery and its errors
commenced, under the reign of Henry the Eighth; and it was instigated,
in a great measure, by the resistance of the pope to the divorce of this
monarch, from the widow of his brother Arthur, to whom he had been
married several years, and by whom he had one daughter, afterwards queen
Mary. Religious scruples respecting the validity of this union, were the
ostensible motives given by the capricious king; whilst a passion for
Ann Boleyn, a celebrated and accomplished beauty, was the real motive
which led to a step so wonderfully over-ruled for good.

“That Henry, previous to this time, had been a devoted papist, may be
inferred from a book which he wrote in defence of popery, against Martin
Luther, the celebrated Saxon reformer; for which the pope had bestowed
on him the title of ‘Defender of the Faith,’ still retained by our
monarchs. During this period many persons suffered persecution; and
though it is far from my intention to enter into an account of many of
the ‘noble army of martyrs,’ yet, to render you thankful for the mercies
_you_ enjoy in this privileged land, I will just mention, that, in 1519,
six men and a woman were _burnt_ at Coventry, for teaching the Lord’s
prayer, the creed, and the ten commandments, in the _vulgar tongue_.

“On the 14th of November, 1532, Henry was secretly united to Ann Boleyn.
On the second of May, 1534, the sentence of divorce was formally
pronounced by Cranmer, between the king and Catherine of Arragon; and,
on the twenty-eighth of the same month, his marriage with Ann Boleyn
(who afterwards became the mother of our celebrated queen Elizabeth) was
publicly confirmed. The pope’s excommunication followed this step
immediately; and Henry was so enraged, that he resolved to break
entirely with the see of Rome, and to abolish the papal authority for
ever.

“The parliament confirmed his proceedings, and thus were our forefathers
delivered from the tyranny of Rome.

“But, strange as it may appear to you, persecution still raged, and many
sufferers might be named, who, about this period, underwent martyrdom;
for Henry, though he had indignantly renounced the temporal authority of
the pope, was still zealously devoted, in all spiritual matters, to the
Romish forms. Neither party, consequently, escaped his wrath. The
reformers, who, by their preaching and writings, attacked the doctrinal
errors, and exposed the superstitious and burdensome ceremonies of
papacy, were equally liable to punishment with the Romish priests and
laymen, who denied his supremacy. Whilst the lesser abbeys, to the
number of three hundred and seventy-six, were suppressed, and, not long
after, the greater ones shared the same fate; yet, with an inconsistency
peculiar to Henry’s character, he caused several eminent protestants,
among whom was the excellent lady Ann Askew, to be burnt to death in
Smithfield.

“One great act was achieved in this reign—the translation of the Bible
into English; and, in the month of September, 1538, Thomas Cromwell,
lord privy-seal, viceregent to the king’s highness, sent forth
instruction to all bishops and curates throughout the realm; charging
them to see, that in every parish-church, the Bible of the largest
volume printed in English, should be placed for all men to read in: and
a book of register was also provided and kept in every parish-church,
wherein was to be written every wedding, christening, and burying,
within the same parish for ever. Crosses and images in many places were
taken down: one image in particular is mentioned, as exposed at St.
Paul’s cross, by the bishop of Rochester, and afterwards broken and
plucked in pieces. This piece of machinery seems to have been curiously
contrived, so as to move the eyes and lips.

“But the death of Henry put an end to the dangerous versatility of his
opinions; and the short reign of Edward the Sixth, who succeeded his
father when but nine years of age, was marked by signal benefits to the
protestant cause. Not only were sundry injunctions issued for the
removing of images out of all churches, and measures taken for the
suppression of idolatry and superstition within his realms and
dominions, but the Homilies (which are still in use in the church) were
composed by many of the most pious and learned men of the age, and
directed to be read generally for the edification of the lower
classes:—the Lord’s supper was ordered to be administered to the
laity:—the Catechism was compiled for the use of children, by
Cranmer:—the Liturgy was established by law; and the Articles were drawn
up, explanatory of the doctrines of the Church of England, and which, in
the main, appear, under the name of the thirty-nine articles, in the
Prayer-book.

“The apparel of the clergy, after the reformation, underwent a change,
and was restricted to sable garments. Previous to this, the graduates
went either in a variety of colours, or in garments of light hue, as
yellow, red, green, &c. with their shoes piked, their hair crisped,
their girdles armed with silver; their shoes, spurs, bridles, &c.
buckled with light metal; their apparel, for the most part, of silk and
richly furred; their caps laced and buttoned with gold: so that a priest
of those days would not now be recognized as belonging to the order.

“But the hopes of the Reformers were clouded by the premature death of
the young king, who expired at Greenwich, the sixth of July, 1553.

“He possessed undoubted piety; and his talents appear to have been very
great. It is related of him, that he knew not only the name and style of
living of his great officers and judges, but in what estimation their
religion and conversation were held. He had a singular respect for
justice; and was particularly assiduous in the dispatch of business.
Charitable and humane in an extraordinary degree, this exemplary prince
just “sparkled” for a time, then was “exhaled,” and “went,” undoubtedly,
“to Heaven.”

“The gloomy era which followed, on Mary’s accession to the throne, is
marked, in the memory of every Englishman, with sentiments of horror and
detestation. The queen, a zealous catholic, was anxious to restore the
popish forms of worship; and a statute was passed, abolishing all the
laws relative to religion, which had been enacted in Edward’s reign.

“Mass was again celebrated, images and crosses erected, and punishments
followed any affront to the priests: reconciliation with the pope
followed.

“Married clergy were dispossessed of their preferments; and reading the
sacred volume, in the vulgar tongue, not only forbidden, under pain of
death; but, in the year 1557, the papists actually burnt all the English
Bibles they could seize.

“Persecution raged with accumulated violence; and amongst the excellent
men who preferred a good conscience to life itself, I shall only
enumerate Cranmer, Latimer, Ridley, and Hooper.

“Others, equally valiant for truth, perished also in the flames; but
their numbers were too great to allow of my enumerating them. In one
year alone, eighty-five persons were burnt for their religious opinions;
and the joy and holy triumph, with which many of them expired, under the
excruciating torment of the flames, served to confirm the more wavering,
and strengthen the surrounding crowd.

“But, in mercy to the nation, Divine Providence terminated this cruel
reign, by the death of the queen, on the 19th of November, 1558; and
Elizabeth’s accession was ushered in with every demonstration of joy.

“Nor did the conduct of this wonderful woman disappoint the expectations
raised on her behalf; and her long and prosperous reign was marked by
proceedings of wisdom. By an act of oblivion, she quieted the fears of
those who had reason to dread her power, released all those confined for
conscience sake, and consulted on the best plan for bringing about, and
settling the reformed religion. As soon as the parliament met, several
bills were passed in favour of the protestant cause.

“The English liturgy was restored; and, in short, all the laws
respecting religion, which were made in the reign of king Edward, were
revised, and those of queen Mary repealed.

“All offensive popish observances were abolished, and the national
worship was modelled to nearly the present standard.

“Thus was the Reformation finally settled, under the wise policy and
energetic measures of queen Elizabeth; to whom, under God, the
protestants are indebted for their deliverance from superstition and
tyranny.”

“Excuse me, Sir,” said Mrs. Spencer, when Mr. Wilmot had finished his
narration; “but you spoke of the Lollards as a persecuted sect, and I
fancy the girls are ignorant from whence the title was derived. Perhaps
you will kindly give them this information, and add a few more
particulars of the life of John Wickliffe.”

“The Lollards,” replied Mr. Wilmot, “were so called from Raynard
Lollard, who lived in the thirteenth century. He was at first a
Franciscan monk, and afterwards a zealous preacher and martyr. After his
death, all the reputed heretics were indiscriminately called Lollards,
by their sanguinary persecutors. These sects were dreadfully oppressed
in France and Flanders; but in England they were, for a time, protected
by the powerful influence of the celebrated John Gaunt, duke of
Lancaster, and many other noblemen, who either secretly or openly
espoused their cause, in defiance of all the machinations of the
Catholic clergy.

“The rise of this sect in England, under the celebrated John Wickliffe
and his followers, may justly be considered as the earliest dawn of the
Reformation. There were, indeed, some solitary individuals who had
before protested against the growing corruptions of the Romish church;
and these, as being reformers at heart, and as having made some
honourable, though ineffectual attempts at reformation, deserve to be
remembered with honour. The first of these was Robert Groteste, or
Great-head, bishop of Lincoln, who is supposed to have been born about
A.D. 1175, and flourished in the reign of Henry the Third. He was a man
of great learning, fervent piety, and undaunted courage. As soon as he
was called to the episcopal chair he began to reform abuses, especially
in the religious houses belonging to his diocese. This great and good
man both saw and lamented the corrupt state of the church to which he
belonged, and turned all his episcopal and personal influence to purify
it from these flagrant corruptions. Conscious that Rome was the
fountain-head of all, he aimed at cleansing the spring, that the streams
issuing from it might be pure also. When any bulls were received from
thence, containing instructions contrary to the gospel, and injurious to
morality and religion, he tore them in pieces with indignation. Nor was
he content with refusing to comply with these instructions; but he wrote
to the pope, when in the plenitude of his power, letters of sharp
reproof and faithful admonition. When these philippics were received at
Rome, the pontiff threatened vengeance against his faithful monitor;
which he was only deterred from executing, by the earnest persuasions of
his cardinals, and conviction of the public odium he should incur, by
sacrificing a man of such exemplary piety and distinguished learning. It
is no small honour to this excellent prelate, that he resisted,
successfully, the papal power, at a period in which that power seemed to
be irresistible, and when the mightiest sovereigns were compelled to
crouch before the Roman pontiff.

“The next individual who lifted up a standard against the corruptions of
popery, during that period, was Richard Knapwell, a Dominican friar, who
maintained, in the year 1286, several propositions which were deemed
heretical by the prelates of that age, and most furiously controverted
by archbishop Peckham. The greater part of these propositions were
unintelligible jargon, relative to the sacrifice of the mass; but the
last, which was probably the most obnoxious of the whole, contained a
sound Protestant maxim: namely, ‘That, in articles of faith, a man is
not bound to set on the authority of the pope, or of any priest or
doctor; but that the holy Scriptures, and right reason, are the only
foundations of our assent.’ These doctrines were denounced, but it is
not known what became of the author of them. Of Thomas Bradwardine,
archbishop of Canterbury, I have already told you. But the individual
who aimed the most effectual blow at the mighty fabric of papal
superstition, was the celebrated John Wickliffe. This primitive reformer
delivered lectures on divinity, in Merton College, Oxford. His learning
acquired him great reputation; but he soon became disgusted with the
vices, ignorance, and rapacity of the clergy, and preached against them
with great zeal. His boldness attracted the attention of king Edward the
Third, from whom he received several benefices, and by whom he was sent
on several embassies to the court of Rome. Here he saw so much to
confirm his former opinions, that, on his return, he inveighed, with
increased vehemence, against the errors of popery. He soon proceeded so
far as to deny the pope’s supremacy, and even to denounce him as
antichrist. This effrontery, in an humble ecclesiastic, soon armed
against him all the dignitaries, of the church which he had presumed to
assail; and subjected him to the thundering anathemas of the pontiff,
who commanded him to be apprehended and condemned for his heretical
discourses.

“The rector of Lutterworth would soon have been the prey of his mighty
adversaries, had not the duke of Lancaster, and lord Henry Percy, then
marshal of England, espoused his cause, and afforded him protection.
Whether their conduct proceeded from political or religious motives, is
a matter of uncertainty; but, whatever might be the inducement, it had
the happiest effect; for it not only enabled Wickliffe to pursue his
Herculean task, but emboldened many, both of the clergy and laity, to
embrace his tenets.

“In a few years the Wickliffites, or Lollards, became exceedingly
numerous, notwithstanding the attempts, made by argument and force, to
suppress them. The doctrines taught by this reformer were similar to
those of the latter reformers, but far less purified from error. They
were, however, sufficient to alarm the Roman hierarchy, and make them
earnestly desirous of repressing them by force, since it was vain to use
arguments.

“The most opprobrious epithets were applied to this most faithful and
diligent labourer, who continued, till death, to discharge, with
fidelity and zeal, the duties connected with his official station.

“His great work of translating the Holy Scriptures was completed a
little before his decease, which took place in the year 1384. This
latter event was hailed with delight by his enemies, who fondly imagined
that it would lead to the overthrow of his heresy. But they found that
it had taken too deep root to be exterminated; and though, during the
disturbed years of Richard’s reign, attempts were made to destroy the
writings of Wickliffe, and his followers, and to remove all who were
suspected of Lollard sentiments, from their benefices, they continued to
flourish, and were finally triumphant, as I have before related to you.”

“I am sure Mary Ann and Susan are much obliged to you for the
information you have given them,” said Mrs. Spencer; “and I hope they
will prove their sense of the obligation, by endeavouring to remember
what you have told them.”

The little girls looked assent to their mamma’s observation; and Mary
Ann enquired if Mr. Wilmot would object to giving some little account of
the Crusades.

“So far from objecting, my dear,” answered her kind cousin, “it gives me
pleasure to hear you make enquiries, since it proves that you are
interested in my anecdotes.

“The object of the Crusades was to drive the infidels out of the
possession of the Holy Land; and the zeal of a fanatical monk, towards
the end of the eleventh century, gave rise to this wild undertaking.
Peter the Hermit (for so he was named) ran from province to province,
with a cross in his hand, exciting kings and people to this holy war, as
it was called. His enthusiasm spread with astonishing rapidity: not only
princes, and nobles, and warriors; but shepherds and mechanics, women
and children, left their peaceful occupations, and hastened to enlist
themselves under the banner of their deluded leader. It is asserted by
contemporary authors, that six millions of persons, at different times,
assumed the badge of the cross. These crosses were worn on their
clothes, and their colours distinguished the different nations. The
English wore them white, the French red, the Flemish green, the Germans
black, and the Italians yellow.

“In the second Crusade a considerable troop of women rode amongst the
Germans: they were arrayed with the spear and shield. But the historian
satirically remarks, that some love of usual delights had mingled itself
with the desire of great exploits; for they were remarkable for the
splendour of their dress, and the bold leader was called the
golden-footed dame.

“These ladies were, however, of an age to judge for themselves; and
however we may smile at their folly, our pity is not excited, as it is
for the children of France and Germany, who, seduced by the preaching of
fanatics, about the year 1213, thought themselves authorized by Heaven,
to attempt the rescue of the Holy Sepulchre; and ran about the country,
crying, ‘Lord Jesus Christ restore the cross to us.’ Boys and girls
stole from their homes: no bolts, no bars, no fear of fathers, or love
of mothers, could hold them back; and the number of youthful converts
was thirty thousand. They were accompanied by some fanatical persons,
some of whom were taken and hanged at Cologne. The children passed
through France, crossed the Alps; and those who survived hunger and
thirst, presented themselves at the gates of the sea-ports of Italy and
the south of France. Many were driven back to their homes; but seven
large ships, full of them, went from Marseilles. Two of the vessels were
wrecked on the isle of St. Peter; the rest of the ships went to Bugia
and Alexandria, and the master sold the children to slavery. These
dreadful facts are mentioned by four contemporary writers.

“In the third crusade, Richard the First, surnamed Cœur de Lion, as I
before told you, signalized himself eminently. The very word Richard was
dreaded in Syria, so great was the terror he had spread. Syrian mothers
used to frighten their children, by telling them that king Richard was
coming; and horses, according to vulgar tradition, dreaded the
lion-hearted monarch; for, if a courser started, the rider would
exclaim, ‘What! do you think king Richard is in the bush?’ In the year
1193, died the sultan Saladin, the Saracen chief; and, as his character
was a remarkable one, I shall give you a brief sketch of it. He was in
the fifty-seventh year of his age when he expired. During twenty-two
years he had reigned over Egypt, and for nineteen years was absolute
master of Syria. No Asiatic monarch has filled so large a space, in the
annals of Europe, as the antagonist of Cœur de Lion. He was a compound
of the dignity and the baseness, the greatness and the littleness of
man. As the Moslem hero of the third holy war, he proved himself a
valiant soldier and a skilful general. He hated the Christian cause; for
he was a zealous Mussulman, and his principles authorized him to make
war upon the enemies of the prophet; but human sympathy mollified the
rigour of his enthusiasm, and, when his foes were suppliant, he often
forgot the sternness of Islamism.

“He was fond of religious exercises and studies; but his mind was so
much above the age in which he lived, that he never consulted
soothsayers or astrologers.

“He had gained the throne by blood, artifice, and treachery; but, though
ambitious, he was not tyrannical: he was mild in his government, and the
friend and dispenser of justice. Eager for the possession, but
indifferent to the display of power, he was simple in his manners, and
unostentatious in deportment. He attempted the arts of conciliation and
tuition, to change the religious sentiments of the Egyptian Fatemites;
but the intolerant spirit of his religion would sometimes appear; the
politician was lost in the zealot; and he inflicted punishment on those
who presumed to question any of the dogmas of a Mussulman’s creed.

“But I must refer you,” said Mr. Wilmot, “to Mills’s History of the
Crusades, for further particulars of this eventful period: in the
meanwhile, it is sufficient for me to say, that, before the expiration
of the thirteenth century, the whole band of adventurers were driven
from their Asiatic possessions. There were, in all, nine Crusades; in
which, according to Voltaire, two millions of human beings perished.”

“It was, indeed,” remarked Mrs. Spencer, “a dreadful waste and effusion
of human blood. One beneficial consequence arose, however, from these
extravagant excursions, which was neither expected nor intended.

“It was impossible for men to travel through so many lands as the
Crusaders did, without imparting some of the improvement or knowledge
they had gained, to their respective countries, on their return. The
spirit of commerce was by this means fostered and spread, the progress
of navigation advanced, and useful information was circulated.”

“Yes,” answered Mr. Wilmot; “and evil was thus wisely overruled for
good. But,” added he, “I recollect that I have omitted to give my little
cousins any account of the Reformation in Scotland; which, as it
commenced in the reign of Edward the Sixth, and was concluded in that of
Elizabeth, under the intrepid, and, it must be confessed, austere John
Knox, could not, with propriety, be introduced before; especially, as it
was not so much my design to interweave the history of individuals, in
the sketch I have given, as _to mark the progress of religion, from the
first century to the age of Elizabeth_.

“When popery was the established religion in Scotland, this eminent man,
(who had been one of the chaplains of king Edward the Sixth,) narrowly
escaped with his life, from cardinal Beaton, the archbishop of Glasgow,
and bishop Hamilton; and he was afterwards cited before bishop Tunstall,
for preaching against the mass; and was obliged to leave England, by the
persecution of Protestants, which arose on queen Mary’s accession to the
throne. Returning, however, to Scotland, in 1559, just as a public
prosecution was carrying on against the Protestants, who were about to
be tried at Stirling, (through the treachery of the queen regent, who
had promised them protection,) he did not hesitate to join their ranks,
and share their dangers. By the most bold and intrepid conduct, he
exposed the abuses of popery, and animated the nation against it, by
every means in his power; in which he spared no labour, and dreaded no
danger.

“He corresponded with Cecil, the able and faithful minister of queen
Elizabeth; and by that means, was chiefly instrumental in establishing
those negociations between ‘the congregation’ and the English, which
terminated in the march of an English army into Scotland, under the
orders of queen Elizabeth, to aid the Protestants, and to assist them
against the persecutions of the queen regent.

“This army being joined by almost all the principal men of Scotland,
proceeded with such vigour and success, that they obliged the French
forces, who had been the principal support of the queen regent’s
tyranny, to evacuate the kingdom, and thus restored the parliament to
its former independence. Of that body a great majority had embraced the
Protestant religion; and, encouraged by the ardour and number of their
friends, they improved every opportunity which occurred, of overthrowing
the whole fabric of popery. They sanctioned the whole confession of
faith, submitted to them by Knox and the other reformed ministers. They
abolished the jurisdiction of the ecclesiastical courts, and transferred
the causes to the cognizance of the civil court; and they prohibited the
exercise of religious worship, according to the rites of the Romish
church.

“On the death of the queen regent, Mary, queen of Scots, arrived from
France, and immediately established the popish service, in her own
chapel, which, by her protection and countenance, was much frequented.
Knox opposed this, as he did the other evidences, given by Mary, of her
attachment to the Romish cause.

“An act of the queen’s privy council having been proclaimed at
Edinburgh, immediately on her arrival, forbidding any disturbance to be
given to the mass, under pain of death, Knox openly declared against it,
in his sermon, on the following Sunday; and on the marriage of the queen
with Darnley, he not only preached another sermon, expressing his
dislike to the alliance, on account of the religious principles avowed
by the young nobleman; but when the latter went to hear him preach, he
took occasion to speak his opinions, in terms certainly not the most
gentle. Such plain and honest dealing as this, was not very likely to be
palatable to a court, and he was accordingly silenced.

“By no means, however, deterred, he went on, in private, with the great
work of reformation; and was one of the most active and successful
instruments, in delivering Scotland from papal corruption, and priestly
domination. He lived to preach against the awful massacre of the
Protestants, in Paris, on St. Bartholomew’s-day; and desired that the
French ambassador might be informed that he had done so.

“He died the twenty-fourth of November, 1572, and was interred at
Edinburgh, several lords attending his funeral; and particularly the
earl of Morton, who was on that day chosen regent of Scotland, and who,
as soon as he was laid in the grave, exclaimed, ‘There lies one who
never feared the face of man—who has been often threatened with dirk and
dagger, but yet has ended his days in peace and honour; for he had God’s
providence watching over him in a special manner, whenever his life was
sought.’

“In judging of the character of John Knox, we must make some allowance
for the age in which he lived, and the part he was destined to act.
Happily for us, we live in a day when party spirit and religious bigotry
are much softened: let us, therefore, endeavour to be thankful for the
blessing, and learn to look with charity and brotherly love, on those
who may differ from us in their mode of worshipping the Supreme Being.

“But the dinner-bell rings: let us leave the gallery,” said Mr. Wilmot.


------------------------------------------------------------------------



                               CHAP. IV.

                               ----------


“WHAT have you found to excite your curiosity there, Susan?” said Mr.
Wilmot, observing her eyes fixed upon the full-length picture of a
gentleman attired in the costume of the reign of Henry the Eighth.

“I am looking, Sir,” she replied, “at the singular dress of this
gentleman.”

“At no period, perhaps, of our national history,” continued Mr. Wilmot,
“was extravagance in dress carried to a higher pitch, than in this and
the succeeding reign. The various modes of _wearing the hair_, and
_cutting the beard_, seem to have afforded much umbrage to Holinshed,
who lived at this time; and he enumerates, with amusing gravity, the
variety and diversity which prevailed with respect to the latter.
Ear-rings of gold, stones, or pearls, were in use amongst the courtiers.
‘But never,’ he mournfully observes, ‘was it merrier with England, than
when an Englishman was known abroad by his own cloth; and contented
himself at home with his kersey hose, his plain slops; (or small
clothes;) his coat, gown, or cloak, of brown, blue, or _puke_; with some
pretty furniture of velvet or fur, and a doublet of sad tawny, or black
velvet, or other comely silk; without such cuts or gaudy colours as are
worn in these days, and never brought in but by consent of the French,
who think themselves the gayest men when they have most change of jaggs,
and variety of colours about them. Certainly, of all ranks,’ he
continues, ‘our merchants have the least altered their attire, and are,
therefore, the most to be commended; for, although what they wear is
very fine and costly, yet it still represents the ancient gravity
suitable for citizens and burgesses.’

“It was very unusual to see any young men above the age of eighteen or
twenty, without a dagger either by his side, or at his back; and even
burgesses and aged magistrates, whose occupations are generally supposed
to be peaceful, were also thus armed. The nobility commonly wore swords
or rapiers with their daggers, as did also every servant following his
master. Others carried two daggers, or two rapiers in a sheath, always
about them; and, when quarrels arose, the consequences were frequently
dreadful. These warlike implements were much longer than those used in
any other country. In travelling, some carried with them, on their
shoulders, staves, some of which were twelve or thirteen feet long,
besides the pike of twelve inches; but I must tell you, that these were
mostly suspicious characters.

“To such an excess had this love of dress arisen in the reign of
Elizabeth, that it was thought necessary to check it by a proclamation,
issued in October, 1559. It was, indeed, felt as a serious evil at this
period, when the manufactures of England were in so rude a state, that
almost every article for the use of the higher classes, was imported
from Flanders, France, or Italy, in exchange for the raw commodities of
the country, or, perhaps, for money.

“The invectives of divines have placed upon lasting records some
transient follies, which might otherwise have sunk into oblivion; and
the sermon of bishop Pilkington, a warm polemic of this time, may be
quoted as a kind of commentary on the proclamation. He reproves
‘fine-fingered rufflers, with their sable about their necks, corked
slippers, trimmed buskins, and warm mittens. These tender Parnels,’ he
says, ‘must have one gown for the day, another for the night; one long,
another short; one for winter, another for summer; one furred through,
another but faced; one for the workday, another for the holiday; one of
this colour, another of that; one of cloth, another of silk and damask:
change of apparel, one afore dinner, another after; one of Spanish
fashion, another of Turkey; and, to be brief, never content with enough,
but always devising new fashions and strange.”

‘Yea, a ruffian will have more in his ruff and his hose, than he should
spend in a year. He, which ought to go in a russet coat, spends as much
on apparel for him and his wife, as his father would have kept a good
house with.”

“Miss Aikin conjectures, that the costly furs here mentioned, had
probably become fashionable, since a direct intercourse had been opened,
in Henry the Eighth’s reign, with Russia; from which country ambassadors
had arrived, whose barbaric splendours had astonished the eyes of the
good people of London. The affectation of wearing, in turns, the costume
of all nations in Europe, with which the queen herself was not a little
infected, may be traced partly to the practice of importing articles of
dress from those nations, and that of employing foreign tailors in
preference to native ones; and partly to the taste for travelling,
which, since the revival of letters, had become laudably prevalent among
the young nobility and gentry of England.

“In the reign of Elizabeth, also, we find an order of the lord mayor and
common council, regulating the dress of apprentices, and directing that
they shall not presume to wear any apparel than that received from their
masters. It was enacted, that ‘apprentices shall wear no hat, but a
woollen cap: they shall not wear ruffles, cuffs, loose collars, nor any
thing more than a ruff at the collar, and that not more than a yard and
a half long. They must wear no doublets but what are made of canvass,
fustian, sackcloth, English leather, or woollen, without any gold,
silver, or silk trimmings. They must wear hose of cloth and kersey; but
of no other colour than white, blue, or russet. Their breeches must be
of the same materials as their doublets, and neither stitched, laced,
nor bordered. Their upper coat must be of cloth or leather, without
stitching, pinking, edging, or silk trimming. They shall wear no other
surtout than a cloth gown or cloak, lined or faced with cotton, cloth,
or baize, with a plain, round, fixed collar. No pumps, shoes, or
slippers, to be allowed them, but of English leather, without being
pinked, edged, or stitched. No girdles or garters to be worn, but what
are made of crewel, woollen, thread, or leather. They must wear neither
sword nor dagger; but a knife only. All jewels, rings, gold, silver, or
silk, are forbidden in any part of their dress. Neither shall they
frequent any dancing, fencing, or musical schools, under severe
penalties; one of which was, to be publicly whipped at the hall of their
company.’”

“During the reign of Henry the Eighth, luxury seems to have increased
rapidly,” remarked Mrs. Spencer. “The furniture of the houses, the style
of living, and even gardening, appear alike to have undergone a
progressive improvement.”

“Yes,” answered Mr. Wilmot: “we find that, about this time, the walls of
the houses were either hung with tapestry, arras work, or painted
cloths, on which were represented birds, beasts, herbs, &c. Wainscotting
with oak, or wood imported from the east, began now to be generally
used, and rendered the rooms much more comfortable than formerly. Stoves
were not much used, though they began to appear in the houses of the
nobility and the wealthy citizens.

“But expensive furniture was most prevalent. ‘Not only,’ says Holinshed,
‘is it not rare to see abundance of arras, rich hangings of tapestry,
silver vessels, and such other plate as would furnish several cupboards,
to the sum oftentimes of a thousand or two thousand pounds at the least;
but the rest of the house was proportionably furnished. In the abodes of
knights, gentlemen, merchants, and some other wealthy citizens, it is
not unusual to behold a great profusion of tapestry, Turkish work,
pewter, brass, fine linen, and costly cupboards of plate, worth five or
six hundred or a thousand pounds.’ But the tide of luxury invaded even
the lower orders. ‘The inferior artificers, and main farmers, who, by
virtue of their old, not of their new leases, (says the chronicler,)
learned to garnish also their cupboards with plate, their joined beds
with tapestry and silk hangings, and their tables with carpets and fine
linen. There are old men yet dwelling in the village where I remain,’
says Holinshed, ‘which have noted three things to be marvellously
altered in England, within their sound remembrance; and other three
things too, too much increased. One is the multitude of chimneys lately
erected: whereas, in their young days, there were not above two or
three, if so many, in most up-landish towns of the realms, (the
religious houses, and manor places of their lords always excepted, and,
peradventure, some great personages,) but each one made his fire against
a reredosse in the hall, where he dined and dressed his meat. The
second, is the great (although not general) amendment of lodging; for,
said they, our fathers, yea, and we also ourselves, have lain full oft
on straw pallets, or rough mats, covered only with a sheet or coverlets,
made of dagswain[3] or hop-harlots[4]; and a good round log under their
heads, instead of a bolster and pillow. If our forefathers had, within
seven years after their marriage, purchased a mattress or flock-bed, and
added thereto a sack of chaff to rest his head upon, he considered
himself to be as well lodged as the lord of the town, who, probably,
himself, seldom lay on a bed of down, or whole feathers; so contented
were they with simple fare. Indeed, even now[5], in some parts of
Bedfordshire, and elsewhere farther in the south, the same plans are
pretty much pursued. Pillows were only for an indulgence to the sick. As
for servants, if they had any sheet above them, it was well; for rarely
had they any thing under their bodies, to protect them from the pricking
straws, which often found their way through the canvass of the pallet.
The third thing they speak of, is the exchange of vessels; as pewter for
treen[6] platters, and silver or tin spoons, for wooden ones; for so
common were all sorts of treen ware in old times, that a person could
hardly find four pieces of pewter, including the salt-cellar, in a good
farmer’s house; and yet, in spite of this frugality, they were scarcely
able to live, and pay their rents, without selling a cow, or a horse, or
more, although they paid but four pounds, at the uttermost, by the
year.’

Footnote 3:

  A rough, coarse mantle.

Footnote 4:

  Probably hop-sacking.

Footnote 5:

  Henry the Eighth’s reign.

Footnote 6:

  Wooden and earthen dishes.

“It is impossible not to smile at Holinshed’s enumeration of the evils
attendant upon the introduction of chimneys. Colds, catarrhs, &c. are
included; whilst he gravely assures us, that whilst they had only
reredosses, their heads were free from pain. Smoke being considered not
only a sufficient hardener of the timber in the house, but the best
medicine to keep the good man and his family from the quack, or
catarrhs, which were then but little known.”

Mrs. Spencer smilingly remarked, that she supposed our forefathers would
willingly have acquiesced in the observation, that, “Where ignorance is
bliss, ’tis folly to be wise.” “But,” she added, “I believe they took
their meals at much earlier hours than are at present in fashion.”

“Yes,” answered Mr. Wilmot: “the nobility and gentry dined at eleven
o’clock before noon, and supped at five, or between five and six o’clock
in the evening. The merchants seldom dined or supped before twelve at
noon, or six at night, especially in London. The husbandmen dined at
high noon, and supped at seven or eight; but out of term, in our
universities, the scholars dined at ten.

“Great silence was observed at the tables of the ‘honourable and wise;’
and it seems that a curious custom prevailed amongst artificers and
husbandmen, of each _guest_ bringing his own dish, or so many with him,
as his wife and he could agree upon.

“Abundance and unbounded liberality, prevailed at the entertainments of
the great. The cooks, at this period, seem to have been mostly
Frenchmen, or strangers. Besides the usual meats, and the delicacies
that the season afforded, red deer is particularly enumerated. It was
usual to reserve the beginning of every dish for the greatest personage
sitting at table, to whom it was handed up by the waiters, as order
required; from whom it again descended to the lower end, so that every
guest tasted of it. Unexpected and numerous visitors flocked to the
mansions of the nobility and gentry, and rendered it necessary not only
to retain a large retinue of servants, but a very ample supply of
provisions.

“The chief part of the food was brought in before them, chiefly on
silver vessels, if they were of the degree of barons, bishops, and
upwards, and placed on their tables. What was left, was sent down to
their serving-men and waiters; and their reversion was bestowed upon the
poor, who waited in flocks at their gates to receive the bounty.

“A daily allowance was appointed for their halls, where the chief
officers and household servants, (for all were not permitted by custom
to sit with their lord,) with such inferior guests as were not high
enough to associate with the nobleman himself, took their meals.

“In the houses of the nobles, pots, goblets, jugs of silver, with Venice
glasses of all shapes, were commonly in use. In inferior habitations,
‘pots of earth, of various colours and moulds, many of them garnished
with silver, were in requisition; and pewter supplied the place of more
costly utensils, amongst the still lower ranks. When any one had drank,
he made the cup clean by pouring out what remained, and restoring the
vessel to the cupboard again. Gentlemen and merchants maintained about
an equality at their tables, varying the number of dishes according to
the resort of strangers; yet even these maintained an ordinary for their
servants, independent of what was left by the family.’ Venison appears
to have been with them a favourite, and by no means rare dish; and at
certain feasts given by them, they appear to have rivalled the haughty
barons, in the variety and sumptuousness of the dishes prepared.
Butchers’ meat was rejected with disdain; and some very minute
particulars have reached us, of the ornamental parts of these
entertainments. Amongst them, jellies of various colours and forms are
named. ‘Marchpain wrought with no small curiosity, tarts of various hues
and sundry denominations, conserves of old fruits and home bred,
suckets, sugar-bread, ginger-bread florentines, with several outlandish
confections, altogether seasoned with sugar,’ seem to have borne a
conspicuous part.

“We are as ignorant of the excellence of some of these highly-extolled
dishes,” said Mr. Wilmot, as he paused for a few moments, “as our
ancestors were of many of those fruits and vegetables, which are now
familiar to the lowest class. I allude to melons, pompions, gourds,
cucumbers, radishes, skirrets, parsnips, turnips, carrots, cabbages, and
all kinds of salad herbs. These, from the time of Henry the Fourth, to
the latter end of Henry the Seventh, and beginning of Henry the Eighth’s
reign, were not only unknown, but were considered as food suitable alone
for hogs and other animals. After this period, they not only became
plentiful among the higher orders, who were in the habit of sending
abroad yearly for new seeds, but found their way commonly to the
inferior classes.

“At the same era, gardening received a new impulse; and the ingenuity
and care of the florist, is spoken of in terms of high eulogium,
together with some little appearance of incredulity, as relates to the
practicability of the theories advanced; theories which are now
comprehended by the most humble individual. It may also surprise you to
learn, that the culture of medicinal herbs formed a very important and
useful branch of the gardener’s calendar, at this time; and noblemen and
gentlemen devoted to them large plots of ground, and mingled them with
the flowers which adorned their parterres.

“The varieties of fruit which were likewise introduced at this epoch,
are mentioned with a tone of exultation, that may cause a similar
feeling of surprise on your part, my little cousins,” said Mr. Wilmot,
“accustomed as you are to regard them as the natural produce of autumn.

“‘Delicate apples, plums, pears, walnuts, and filberts,’ are included in
this catalogue; whilst apricots, peaches, almonds, and figs, are spoken
of as strange fruit, introduced within the last forty years of the
author’s account, and cultivated only in the orchards of the nobility.”

“The word _comfortable_,” said Mrs. Spencer, “understood in no other
country so well as in England, could not, I think, have been applied, as
characteristic of the mode of living practised by our ancestors.”

“Not according to our modern ideas,” answered Mr. Wilmot; “but I will
relate a few more anecdotes, descriptive of ancient customs and manners.

“Previous to the time of Elizabeth, instead of glass, the windows of
houses in the country were composed either of lattice made of wicker, or
of spars of oak placed in chequer; but in the reign of the ‘maiden
queen,’ glass becoming cheaper, this mode of admitting light fell into
disuse.”

“I do not wonder that they were glad to exchange,” said Susan: “it must
have rendered the houses cold and comfortless.”

“But you forget,” said Mr. Wilmot, “they must have formed nice avenues
for the smoke to escape, when there were not any chimneys. But I have
omitted to mention a curious fashion, which took its rise from some
learned divine, previous to the reign of Henry the Fourth, and which
continued long after that of the sixth Henry. It was no other than that
of taking away the father’s surname, however honourable or ancient, and
substituting that of the town in which the individual was born. Thus,
Richard Nottingham, a celebrated friar, was named from an island where
he was born, near Gloucester. William Barton, a famous doctor, and
chancellor of Oxford in Richard the Second’s reign, from Barton in
Lincolnshire. Walter Disse, of Disse in Suffolk, a Carmelite friar, and
confessor to the duke and duchess of Lancaster, in Henry the Fourth’s
reign. Richard Hampoole, from a town in Yorkshire, a zealous doctor, and
afterwards a virtuous hermit, in Henry the Sixth’s days. Hundreds of
others followed this example, among whom may be enumerated William
Wainfleet, bishop of Winchester, lord chancellor of England, and founder
of Magdalen College, Oxford. His original name was Paten; but he altered
it to the name of the town of which he was a native. To this whimsical
notion may be traced many of our present surnames, such as German, or
Germin, which was assumed out of affection to Germany, the country from
which their forefathers came. Jute, Jud, and Chute, from the tribe of
Judes, one of the German nations who came over with Hengist and Horsa;
and Calthrop, Caltrap, and Caltrop, were all but for Caldthorp,
signifying a cold town. Paten, Patten, or Patent, is likewise derived
from the Saxon word Pate, the sole of the foot, and therefrom Patan,
signifying flat-footed.

“Before the Reformation, there were very few free-schools in England.
Latin was generally taught to the youths at the monasteries. In the
nunneries were taught needle-work, confectionery, surgery, and physic,
(surgeons and apothecaries being then very rare,) writing, drawing, &c.

“Before the civil wars, in gentlemen’s houses, at Christmas, the first
dish that was brought to table, was a boar’s head with a lemon in its
mouth. The first dish that was brought to table on Easter-day, was a red
herring, riding away on horseback; that is, a herring served up by the
cook in a corn-salad, to look like a man on horseback. A gammon of bacon
was eaten at Easter, to show the abhorrence of Judaism, at that solemn
commemoration of our Lord’s resurrection.

“In 1486, the reign of Henry the Seventh, a certain number of archers,
and other strong, active persons, were constituted by this monarch
yeomen of the guard, and were in daily attendance upon his person. This
was the first English monarch that instituted a bodyguard; and it was
generally thought that he took his precedent from France.

“In 1568, noblemen’s and gentlemen’s coats were made in the same fashion
as those of yeomen of the guard; and in 1678, the benchers of the inns
of Court still maintained that fashion in the making of their gowns.

“The Normans brought with them civility into England. In those days,
upon any occasion of bustle of business, great lords sounded their
trumpets, and summoned all those that they held under them. Sir Walter
Long, of Draycott, kept a trumpeter, and rode with thirty servants and
retainers; from whence took the rise of the sheriff’s trumpets.

“Gentlemen carried prodigious fans, with very long handles: with these
their daughters were often corrected. The lord chief justice, Sir Edward
Coke, rode the circuit with a fan of this description: the earl of
Manchester also used a fan; and both fathers and mothers slashed their
daughters with them, when they were grown up women. At Oxford and
Cambridge, the rod was frequently used by the tutors and deans; and Dr.
Potter, of Trinity College, in the year 1669, or thereabouts, whipped
his pupil who had a sword by his side.

“The conversation and habits of these times were starched and formal:
gravity often passed for wisdom, and quibbles for wit, even in
clergymen’s sermons. The gentry and citizens had little learning of any
kind; and their way of bringing up their children was suitable to all
the rest. They were as severe as schoolmasters to them, and the
schoolmasters were as severe as governors of houses of correction. The
child, consequently, dreaded the sight of his parents. Gentlemen of
thirty and forty years of age, stood like mutes and bare-headed before
them; and the daughters, when grown young women, stood at the
cupboard-side, during the whole time of the proud mother’s visit,
unless, as the fashion then was, leave was requested that a cushion
might be given them to kneel upon, when they had done sufficient penance
by standing, and which was brought them by a serving-man.

“Learning seems to have advanced much during Elizabeth’s reign. ‘It was
rare to find a courtier unacquainted with any language but his own. The
ladies studied Greek, Latin, French, Spanish, and Italian. The more
elderly among them exercised themselves, some with the needle, some with
caul-work, (probably netting,) divers in spinning silk; some in
continual reading, either of the Holy Scriptures, or of histories either
of their own or foreign countries; divers in writing volumes of their
own, or translating the works of others into Latin or English: whilst
the younger ones, in the meantime, applied to their lutes, citharmes,
pricksong, and all kinds of music. Many of the more ancient, were also
skilful in surgery and distillation of waters, besides sundry artificial
practices pertaining to the ornature and commendation of their bodies.
This,’ adds our author, ‘I will generally say of them all, that, as each
of them are cunning in something whereby they keep themselves occupied
in the court; there is, in manner, none of them, but when they be at
home, can help to supply the ordinary want of the kitchen, with a number
of delicate dishes of their own contriving: wherein the portingal is
their chief counsellor, as some of them are most commonly with the clerk
of the kitchen, &c.’

“‘Every office at court,’ says the same author, (Holinshed,) ‘had a
Bible, or the book of the Acts and Monuments of the Church of England,
or both; besides some histories and chronicles lying therein, for the
exercise of such as come into the same.’”

Mrs. Spencer smiled and said, that the praise bestowed upon the ladies
of Elizabeth’s reign, was no small commendation. Learned, accomplished,
and domestic, they seemed the very acmé of excellence.

The bell now announced company. Susan and Ann quitted the gallery with
reluctance; and not before they had obtained a promise from Mr. Wilmot,
that they should visit it on the following day.


------------------------------------------------------------------------



                                CHAP. V.

                               ----------


“PERHAPS you would have the kindness, Sir,” said Mrs. Spencer, as she
sat at work with her daughters, “to resume the conversation, which was
interrupted this morning, and in which we were much interested. I
observed written, under a painting in the gallery, ‘Funeral of Henry the
Seventh;’ and as it was previous to the reformation, and consequently
attended with some ceremonies fallen into disuse in a Protestant realm,
I have no doubt we should be much interested in the recital.”

Mr. Wilmot waited not for a second request, but began as follows:

“After all things necessary for the interment and funeral pomp of the
late king were sumptuously prepared and done, the corpse of the deceased
was brought out of his privy-chamber, where it had rested three days;
and every day had three dirges, and masses sung by a mitred prelate.


[Illustration:
Page 83.
Page 87.]


“From thence it was conveyed into the hall, where it also remained three
days, and where a similar service was performed: the same ceremony was
observed, for the like space of time, when it was moved into the chapel.
In each of these places was a hearse of wax, garnished with banners,
attended by nine mourners, who daily made their offerings. Every place
where the procession stopped, was hung with black.

“Upon Wednesday, the ninth of May, the corpse was put into a chariot,
covered with black cloth of gold, drawn with five coursers, covered with
black velvet, garnished with cushions of fine gold; and over the corpse
was an image or representation of the late king, apparelled in his rich
robes of state, the crown on his head, and the ball and sceptre in his
hands, laid on cushions of gold. The chariot was ornamented with
banners, scutcheons, and arms, descriptive of the monarch’s titles,
dominions, and genealogies.

“The king’s chaplain, and a number of prelates, led the way, praying.
Then came the king’s servants in black, followed by the chariot,
attended by nine mourners, and lighted by torches, amounting to the
number of six hundred, which were carried on either side. In this order
they proceeded from Richmond to St. George’s Fields. Here they were met
by all the religious men, priests, clerks, &c. within and without the
city, who took the lead. The mayor and his brethren, with many of the
common council, met the corpse at London Bridge, and escorted it through
the city.

“Long torches, placed on each side of the street, with young children
standing on stalls, bearing tapers, lent to this funeral pomp additional
solemnity; illuminating, with their flickering beams, the remains of him
who had paid the debt of mortality, common alike to potentates and
subjects.

“Arrived at St. Paul’s, the body was taken out, and conveyed into the
choir, where it was placed under a hearse of wax, garnished as before;
whilst a solemn dirge was sung, and a sermon preached on the occasion,
by the bishop of Rochester.

“Here it rested for the night, and on the following day was removed
towards Westminster; Sir Edward Howard bearing the king’s banner, on a
courser, trapped in the arms of the deceased monarch. In Westminster was
a curious hearse, composed of nine ‘principals[7], all full of lights,’
which were lighted at the coming of the corpse.

Footnote 7:

  Principals, in architecture, are corner-posts, which are fixed into
  the ground-plates below, and into the roof.

“Six lords bore the coffin from the chariot, and placed it under the
hearse, the image lying on the cushion, on a large pall of gold. The
hearse was double-railed. Within the first rail sat the mourners; and
within the second partition stood knights, bearing banners of saints;
and without the same stood officers of arms.

“When the mourners were placed in order, garter king-at-arms cried, ‘For
the soul of the noble prince, king Henry the Seventh, lately king of
this realm;’ and immediately the choir began ‘_plecabo_,’ and a dirge
was sung; which being finished, the mourners departed, and, after taking
refreshment, reposed for the night.

“On the next day three masses were solemnly sung by three bishops: at
the last was offered the king’s banner, courser, and coat-of-arms, his
sword, target, and helm. At the conclusion the mourners made their
offerings of rich palls of cloth of gold, and bauderkin, (or cloth of
gold, with figures embroidered in silk:) ‘_Libera me_’ was then sung,
and the body committed to the earth.

“At this part of the ceremony the king’s treasurer, lord steward,
chamberlain, and comptroller of the household, broke their staves and
cast them into the grave; garter king-at-arms exclaiming, with a loud
voice, ‘Vive le roi Henri le huitième, roi d’Angleterre et de France,
sire d’Irlande.’

“The obsequies ended, the party returned to the palace, where a
sumptuous feast was provided for them.”

“What a happiness it is,” said Mrs. Spencer, “that we are no longer
under the burdensome ceremonies of popery—that we are not required to
sing dirges for the dead, nor pay for masses, to deliver their souls
from an ideal purgatory.”

“It is so,” replied Mr. Wilmot. “The ensuing coronation,” he continued,
“of Henry the Eighth and Katherine, was conducted with circumstances of
extraordinary pomp; but it is not my intention to enter into a minute
description of it; and I shall only relate to you a few of the pageants
that were exhibited on the occasion, and which mark the manners of the
age. Amongst others, was a park, artificially constructed, with pales of
white and green, wherein were fallow deer; and, in the park, trees,
bushes, and ferns, very curiously constructed. The deer were hunted in
the presence of the queen and court, and afterwards presented to them.
Another device was a palace, in which was a curious fountain, and over
it a castle, surmounted with a crown imperial, with battlements of roses
and pomegranates, gilded; whilst, under and about the said castle, ran a
vine, the grapes and leaves whereof were gilded with fine gold, with
white and green lozenges strewed about the castle; and, in every
lozenge, either a rose or a pomegranate, and a sheaf or arrows; or else
the letters H. and K. in gold, with certain arches and turrets gilded,
to support the same castle; whilst, from the mouths of certain beasts,
ran white, red, and claret wine.

“Henry the Eighth was remarkably expert at the games then in practice;
such as bearing off the ring, wrestling, casting the bar, &c. Shooting,
singing, dancing, and music, seem likewise frequently to have engaged
him; and it will afford you some idea of the mixture of simplicity and
ostentation of the age, when I tell you, that, in the second year of his
reign, he rose early on _May-day_, to gather hawthorn and green boughs.
Richly dressed himself, and, accompanied by his knights, squires,
yeomen, and guard, arrayed in white satin and sarcenet, with bows and
arrows, he went shooting into the wood; and returned again to court,
every man wearing a green bough in his cap. These rural festivities seem
often to have been repeated, and accompanied with more or less
splendour. Nor could the royal party have had far to ride, ere they
could procure those symbols of the beautiful month they were about to
commemorate. For it was only late in the preceding reign, that the
gardens, which had been continued, time out of mind, without Moorgate,
now called Moorfields, were destroyed, and a plain field made of them,
for archers to shoot in. And a few years after the excursion of the
youthful monarch, which I have just mentioned, the citizens of London,
disliking the enclosures of the common fields about Islington,
Shoreditch, Hoxton, and other places near the city, whereby they could
not be suffered to exercise their bows, nor other popular games, as they
had before been accustomed to, assembled themselves one morning, and
went with spades and shovels into the said fields, and there worked so
diligently, that all the hedges about town were cast down, and the
ditches filled.”


[Illustration:
Page 88.
Page 92.]


“Another _May morning_ was celebrated with far more variety than that
before mentioned. The court lying at Greenwich, the royal party rode out
for an airing. Passing by Shooter’s-hill, they observed a company of
yeomen, amounting to about two hundred, clad in green, with hoods of the
same colour. One of them, calling himself Robin Hood, stepped forwards,
and addressing the king, begged permission to shoot before the
sovereign. The request being of course granted, he whistled, and
instantly the whole band discharged their arrows at once. A second
signal called forth a similar proof of skill. These arrows, it seems,
whistled as they flew, in consequence of some ingenious contrivance in
the head; and the noise was so singular and great, that the illustrious
spectators, and their train, expressed both astonishment and delight.

“Robin Hood then requested the company of the distinguished party into
the green wood, that they might see how outlaws fared. And the horns
were blown, until they came to a wood under Shooter’s-hill, where they
found an arbour, composed of boughs, with a hall, a great and an inner
chamber, very well made, and covered with flowers and sweet herbs. Robin
Hood then addressed the king in these words: ‘Sir, outlaws’ breakfast is
venison, and therefore you must be content with such fare as we use.’
Upon which Henry and his consort seated themselves, and were served with
venison and wine, to their mutual gratification.

“On their return they were met by two ladies, in a rich chariot, drawn
by five horses: a lady was seated on each steed, and they bore on their
heads inscriptions, allegorically representing the peculiar attributes
of the season; whilst lady May and lady Flora, splendidly attired, sat
in the carriage, saluting the king with songs, until he arrived at
Greenwich. A great concourse of people were assembled to view this
celebration of the day, and appear to have entered fully into the
amusement.”

“There is something extremely interesting,” said Mrs. Spencer, “in the
sovereign of a great people thus affording himself and his subjects a
simple and even elegant recreation.”

“Nor was Christmas a season of less festivity,” continued Mr. Wilmot.
“Warlike knights and ‘peerless dames,’ issuing from castles, erected in
the royal halls, with sham fights, music, and dancing, seem to have
constituted a prominent feature of entertainment. One of these pageants,
exhibited at Greenwich, on Twelfth-night, was an artificial garden,
called the garden of ‘Esperance.’ This garden was towered at every
corner, and railed with gilt rails; whilst the banks were adorned with
artificial flowers, composed of silver and gold, with green satin
leaves. In the midst of the garden stood a pillar of antique work of
gold, set with pearls and stones; and on the top of this pillar was an
arch, crowned with gold, in which was placed a bush of white and red
roses, and a bush of pomegranates, both made of silk and gold. Six
knights, with an equal number of ladies, descended from this fanciful
parterre, who, after dancing many dances, stepped up again into it, and
were wheeled out of the room. The whole, as usual, concluded with a
banquet.

“The birth of Henry’s first son, who died in his infancy, was celebrated
with even more than usual gaiety. But it would be fatiguing, both to you
and to me, were I to relate to you the almost endless devices
enumerated; though, as you have probably heard of the ancient _jousts_,
or combats on horseback, which were a favourite diversion with our
forefathers, I shall give you an account of one, in order that you may
be able to form some idea of this species of recreation.

“On this occasion it commenced with a forest, in which were interspersed
rocks, hills, and dales, with a variety of trees and flowers, hawthorn,
fern, and grass, composed of green velvet, damask, satin, and sarcenet,
of a variety of colours. Within the wood were seen six foresters,
attired in green, and by their sides lay a number of spears. In the
middle stood a golden castle, before the gate of which was a gentleman,
gaily dressed, wreathing a garland of roses for the prize. This pageant
appeared to be drawn by a lion and an antelope. The lion was covered
with damask gold, and the antelope wrought all over with silver damask,
his tusks and horns gilt.

“These animals were led by men, attired so as to represent wild men, or,
as they were styled, ‘woodhouses:’ their heads, faces, hands, legs, and
whole body being covered with green flossed silk. On either side of the
lion and unicorn, sat a lady in splendid attire; whilst the beasts were
tied to the car with huge golden chains. When the pageant rested before
the queen, the foresters blew their horns, and the device opening,
disclosed four knights completely armed, bearing magnificent plumes on
their heads, and spears in their hands; the housing of their horses, on
which were embroidered their names, being composed of gold. To combat
with these, a swell of trumpets and drums announced on the field the
entrance of the earl of Essex and the lord Thomas Howard, with their
friends, and a gallant train, well armed; the trappings and bases of
their horses being composed of crimson satin, embroidered with branches
of pomegranates of gold and posies. After the usual display of feats of
address and skill, the jousts, for that day, were closed.

“On the morrow, after dinner, they were re-renewed, with this difference
in their attire, that the noblemen and their hordes wore cloth of gold
and russet tinsel: the knights, cloth of gold and russet velvet: the
gentlemen on foot, russet satin and yellow; and the yeomen, russet
damask and yellow; all of them garnished with scarlet hose and yellow
caps.

“The entrance of the king, under a pavilion of cloth of gold and purple
velvet, sumptuously embroidered, with a superb plume glittering with
spangles of gold, and his three aids or supporters, each under a
pavilion of crimson and purple damask, studded with their sovereign’s
initials in gold, gave an additional splendour to this day’s
entertainments.

“Gentlemen and yeomen, to the number of one hundred and sixty-eight,
attired in their peculiar colours, and twelve children on horseback,
each differing from the other, but all richly dressed, were ranked on
this side of the lists. The opposite party were preceded by Sir Charles
Brandon, habited as a recluse, in a long robe of russet satin, and
unattended by music, bearing a petition to the queen, to licence him to
run in her presence. Assent was, of course, granted; when he was
instantly armed cap-à-piè[8], and, crossing the tilt-yard at full
gallop, was received by a company in russet satin, who awaited him.

Footnote 8:

  Cap-à-piè, from head to foot.

“Alone came young Henry Guildford; himself and horse clad in his
squire’s robe of russet cloth of gold, and cloth of silver, closed in a
device or pageant, made like a castle or a turret, wrought of russet
Florence satin sarcenet, set out in gold, with his word or posie. He
also demanded leave of the queen to run; which being granted, he took
his place at the tilt end. A number of his servants, dressed in his
colours, russet, satin, and white, with hose of like colour, then made
their appearance, and followed their master.


[Illustration:
Page 94.
Page 95.]


“The marquis of Dorset, and Sir Thomas Bullen, clothed as pilgrims, from
St. James’s, in tabards of black velvet, with palmers’ hats on their
helmets, and with long Jacob’s staves in their hands, followed. Their
horses’ trappings were of black velvet; and these, together with their
own dresses, were strewed with scallop-shells. Their servants also wore
black satin, with scallop-shells of gold on their breasts.

“They were, soon afterwards, succeeded by lord Henry Buckingham, earl of
Wiltshire, himself and his horse apparelled in cloth of silver,
embroidered with his posy or word, and arrows of gold, in a posy,
called, “La maison de refuge,” made of crimson damask, bordered with
roses and arrows of gold; on the top, a greyhound of silver, bearing a
pomegranate of gold, the branches whereof were so large, that they
overspread the whole pageant. Sir Giles Capell, Sir Rowland, with many
other knights richly armed and accoutred, entered also on this side of
the lists.

“When all was ready, the trumpets sounded a flourish, and the combatants
rushed together. Adroitness and skill in unlacing the antagonist’s
helmet, and in unhorsing him, seem to have formed a prominent part of
these martial exercises, in which the king and his aids were, as usual,
distinguished, and to whom, on this occasion, the prize was adjudged.

“I shall close this account with the description of one more pageant,
running upon wheels, which was introduced at this period, and which, to
use the words of Holinshed, was ‘curiously made, and pleasant to behold,
being solemn and rich; for every post thereof was covered with friezed
gold, wherein were trees of hawthorn, eglantine, roses, vines, and other
pleasant flowers of divers colours, with gilly-flowers, and other herbs,
all made of satin, damask, silver, and gold, according as the natural
trees, herbs, and flowers ought to be.’

“These festivals were soon followed by the death of the young prince,
who expired on the twenty-second of February, at Richmond, and was
buried at Westminster.”

“Nothing,” said Mrs. Spencer, “marks more distinctly the progress of
national taste, than its public amusements. England, at the time you
have been speaking of, was gradually emerging from her rusticity; and
the ludicrous mixture displayed in the pageants exhibited, of refinement
and grossness, prove that the luminous era which was to follow, was but
just dawning upon her. But put up your work, my dears: tea is waiting,
and Mr. Wilmot appears exhausted.”


[Illustration:
Page 97.
Page 110.]


------------------------------------------------------------------------



                               CHAP. VI.

                               ----------


“THIS is a splendid painting, Sir,” said Mrs. Spencer, as she this
morning stopped to admire a picture that hung at the entrance of the
gallery: “from the magnificence attending it, I should suppose it
represented a royal baptism.”

“You are quite right, my dear madam,” answered Mr. Wilmot. “It is the
christening of no less a personage than our illustrious queen Elizabeth;
and, as a singular chain of events befel most of the individuals present
at it, I think I cannot commence this day’s entertainment with a more
interesting relation.

“At one o’clock in the afternoon, the lord mayor, Sir Stephen Peacock,
in a gown of crimson satin, adorned with his chain, and with the
aldermen in scarlet robes, ornamented with their golden collars, took
boat for Greenwich, where they found many lords, knights, and gentlemen
assembled. The whole way from the palace to the Friars, was strewn with
green rushes, and the walls were hung with tapestry, as was the Friars’
church, in which the ceremony was performed.

“A silver font, covered with crimson satin fringed with gold, stood in
the midst of the church; and round it were arranged several gentlemen,
with aprons and towels round their necks. All things being arranged, the
procession set forth. It began with citizens walking two and two; then
gentlemen, ’squires, and chaplains; then the aldermen and the mayor
alone; and, following these, the king’s council and chaplain in copes;
and, lastly, barons, bishops, and earls.

“The gilt basin was carried by Henry, earl of Essex. This nobleman
perished, a few years afterwards, by a fall from his horse. He was alike
distinguished for his magnificence, and the part he bore in tilt and
tourney. Sprung from a royal lineage, being descended from Thomas of
Woodstock, youngest son of Edward the Third, his high connexion must
have rendered him occasionally fearful lest they should involve him in
the same fatal catastrophe with that which the duke of Buckingham had so
lately suffered. But his premature death, whilst it placed him beyond
the reach of caprice, left his title at the disposal of the monarch,
who, much to the mortification of this illustrious family, bestowed it
on his favourite, the low-bred Cromwell.

“The salt was borne by Henry, marquis of Dorset, the father of lady Jane
Grey, who, after receiving the royal pardon for his share in the
criminal enterprize for placing the crown on the head of his ill-fated
and gentle daughter, joined the rebellion of Wyatt, and finally
forfeited his life on the scaffold.

“William Courtnay, marquis of Exeter, followed, bearing the taper of
virgin wax. This nobleman had the misfortune to be very nearly allied to
the English throne, his mother being a daughter of Edward the Fourth. He
was, at this period, highly distinguished by the king’s favour, who had
even declared his intention of making him heir apparent, in preference
to his own sisters, and his daughter Mary. The divorce from Catherine
had, indeed, by proclaiming the latter illegitimate, rendered her
incapable of succeeding to the throne. But, three years afterwards, he
fell a victim to the jealousy of the fickle monarch, on a charge of
corresponding with his proscribed cousin, cardinal Pole; and his honours
and estates were not only forfeited, but his son, though quite a child,
was immured in close custody.

“The chrism, which was very rich, being made of pearl and stone, was
carried by the beautiful lady Mary Howard, daughter of the duke of
Norfolk. She also furnished another illustration of the remark I
commenced with; for she lived not only to witness, but, by the evidence
she gave on his trial, to assist in the unjust condemnation of her
illustrious brother, the earl of Surry, whose talents, and whose
gallantry, still adorn the annals of English history. This lady,
descended from our Saxon monarchs, Henry bestowed upon his base-born
son, created duke of Richmond; an insult, which, in other reigns, the
Howards would have resented as it deserved.

“The infant princess, wrapped in a mantle of purple, richly furred with
ermine, was carried by one of her godmothers, the dowager duchess of
Norfolk. This lady was the step-grandmother of Ann Boleyn; but the high
distinction afforded, too shortly, but little cause of exultation. And
equally melancholy was the termination of that closer alliance with
royalty, which was formed for her, in the person of her own
grand-daughter, Catherine Howard. On the discovery of this queen’s
ill-conduct, the aged duchess was declared guilty of misprision of
treason, and, overwhelmed with disgrace, was committed to custody; but
she was afterwards released, when Catherine had expiated her follies and
vices on the scaffold. Nor less exempt from trial was the other
godmother at the font, the dowager marchioness of Dorset. Her
grand-daughter, lady Jane Grey, perished by an ignominious death. Three
of her sons shared the same fate; and the fourth died, during the reign
of Elizabeth, a prisoner in the Tower, in which he had been confined,
for the offence of distributing a pamphlet, asserting the title of the
Suffolk line to the crown.

“The marchioness of Exeter, the other godmother at the font, not only
wept over the untimely end of her husband; and her only son wasting the
flower of his youth in a tedious captivity; but she herself was
attainted of high treason, some time afterwards, and underwent a long
and arbitrary imprisonment.

“On either hand of the duchess of Norfolk, walked the dukes of Norfolk
and Suffolk; the only nobles of that rank then existing in England. On
every public and important occasion, both civil and military, their
united names appear during the reign of Henry the Eighth; but the
termination of their respective careers forms a striking contrast. The
duke of Suffolk was ever regarded with the same favour, which he had
gained as Charles Brandon, the jocund companion of his royal master’s
youthful exercises. Nor did his marriage with the king’s sister, involve
him in either troubles or misfortunes; and he did not live to witness
those which overwhelmed his grand-daughter. He died in peace, sincerely
lamented by his sovereign.

“Very different was the treatment which the duke of Norfolk received
from the king. His high birth, and powerful connexions, created fears in
Henry’s mind, for the tranquillity and safety of his son, the virtuous
Edward the Sixth. The former services of his faithful and noble servant
were overlooked, and sacrificed to his present alarm. With almost his
last breath he decreed the death of Norfolk. But even Henry was no
longer absolute: his orders were this time disobeyed, and the duke
survived him. He, however, suffered a long and tedious captivity; and
lived but a short time after his tardy restoration to liberty and
honour, under Mary.

“One of the infant’s train-bearers, was the countess of Kent. If she
were, as is probable, the widow of the second earl of that title, she
must have been the daughter of the earl of Pembroke, a zealous Yorkist,
who was slain fighting in the cause of Edward the Fourth.

“Thomas Boleyn, earl of Wiltshire, the proud and delighted grandfather
of the princely babe, supported the train on one side. He lived to
witness the cruel and disgraceful end of his son and daughter, and died
long before the prosperous days of his illustrious grandchild.

“Edward Stanly, third earl of Derby, formed an exception to this train
of ill-fated nobles. Educated by Wolsey, whose ward he was, he proved
himself a faithful subject to four succeeding sovereigns; and, in the
most disturbed times, stood firm in his unshaken loyalty. Full of years
and honours, and rich in hereditary distinctions, he died, universally
esteemed, in 1574.

“Four lords, three of whom met with disastrous fate, supported the
canopy over the royal infant. One was her uncle, the accomplished
viscount Rochford, who suffered death by the tyranny of Henry, for a
crime of which he is now most fully acquitted. Another was lord Hussey,
who expiated the crime of rebellion on the scaffold, a few years
afterwards. The two others were brothers, of the family of the
illustrious but unfortunate Howards.

“Lord William, uncle to Catherine Howard, was unjustly condemned to
perpetual imprisonment and forfeiture of goods, for not exposing her
misconduct; but the sentence was afterwards remitted. He lived to be
eminent in the next reign, under the title of lord Howard of Effingham,
and died peacefully, in a venerable age.

“The ambition of lord Thomas was the cause of his sufferings. He married
the lady Margaret Douglas, niece to the king, and on the discovery of
which he was committed to the Tower, where he died in close
imprisonment.

“The ceremony of christening was performed by Stokely, bishop of London,
attended by several abbots and bishops mitred; and the benediction was
pronounced by Cranmer, that learned and distinguished prelate, whose
virtues, whose weaknesses, whose general benevolence and holy faith,
exhibited amidst the flames of martyrdom, have rendered him a
distinguished character in the history of this eventful reign.

“At the conclusion of the ceremonies, garter king-at-arms cried aloud:
‘God, of his infinite goodness, send prosperous life and long, to the
high and mighty princess of England, Elizabeth.’ The trumpets then
sounded a flourish, and the party prepared to retrace their steps to the
palace.

“In the return from church, the gifts of the sponsors, consisting of
bowls and cups, some gilded, and others of massy gold, were carried by
four persons of quality, _viz_: Thomas Somerset, second earl of
Worcester; Thomas Ratcliff, lord Fitzwalter, afterwards earl of Sussex;
and Sir John Dudley, son of the detested associate of Empson, and
afterwards the notorious duke of Northumberland; whose crimes received,
at length, their due recompence in that ignominious death, to which his
guilty and extravagant projects had conducted so many comparatively
innocent victims.”

When Mr. Wilmot had finished his narration, Mrs. Spencer remarked, that,
by the untimely death of Ann Boleyn, the infant princess became a
partaker of some of the trouble that involved so many of the
distinguished individuals who attended this august ceremony.

“Yes,” said Mr. Wilmot; “and there are some curious extracts extant,
respecting the petty mortifications she was destined to endure in
childhood, whilst the subject of her legitimacy was left unsettled.
Passing over these, however, I shall give the girls a short account of
the pursuits that engrossed her youth, and which is taken from some
writings of the celebrated Roger Ascham.

“This gentleman says: ‘The lady Elizabeth has completed her sixteenth
year; and so much solidity and understanding, such courtesy united with
dignity, have never been observed at so early an age. She has the most
ardent love of true religion, and of the best kind of literature. The
constitution of her mind is exempt from female weakness; and she is
endued with a masculine power of application. No apprehension can be
quicker than hers, no memory more retentive. French and Italian she
speaks like English; Latin with fluency, propriety, and judgment: she
also spoke Greek with me frequently, willingly, and moderately well.
Nothing can be more elegant than her handwriting, whether in the Greek
or Roman characters. In music she is very skilful, but does not greatly
delight.

“‘With respect to personal decorations, she greatly prefers a simple
elegance to show and splendour; so despising the outward adorning of
plaiting the hair, and of wearing gold, that, in her whole manner of
life, she greatly prefers Hippolyta than Phædra.

“‘She read with me almost the whole of Cicero, and a great part of Livy:
from these two writers, her knowledge of the Latin language has been
exclusively derived. The beginning of the day was almost always devoted
by her to the New Testament, in Greek; after which, she read select
orations of Isocrates, and the tragedies of Sophocles. For her religious
instruction, she drew first from the fountains of Scripture, and
afterwards from St. Cyprian, the common-places of Melancthon, and
similar works, which contain pure doctrine in simple language.’”

Mrs. Spencer remarked, that Ascham’s account of Elizabeth’s simplicity
in dress was singular, when contrasted with the love of magnificence and
show, which she displayed in after life.

“And yet,” replied Mr. Wilmot, “his testimony is corroborated by that of
Dr. Elmer, or Aylmer, who was tutor to lady Jane Grey and her sisters,
and became, subsequently, during Elizabeth’s reign, bishop of London. He
thus draws her character, when young, in a work entitled, ‘A Harbour for
faithful Subjects.’

“‘The king left her rich clothes and jewels; and I know it to be true,
that, in seven years after her father’s death, she never, in all that
time, looked upon that rich attire and precious jewels, but once, and
that against her will. And that there never came gold or stone on her
head, till her sister forced her to lay off her former soberness, and
bear her company in her glittering gayness. And then she so wore it, as
every man might see that her body carried that which her heart disliked.
I am sure that her maidenly apparel, in king Edward’s time, made the
noblemen’s wives and daughters to be ashamed to be dressed and painted
like peacocks; being more moved with her most virtuous example, than
with all that Peter or Paul wrote on the subject. Yea, this I know, that
a great man’s daughter, lady Jane Grey, receiving from lady Mary, before
she was queen, good apparel of tinsel, cloth of gold, and velvet, laid
on with parchment lace of gold, when she saw it, said: ‘What shall I do
with it?’ ‘Marry!’ said a gentlewoman, ‘wear it.’ ‘Nay,’ quoth she,
‘that were a shame to follow my lady Mary, against God’s word.’ And when
all the ladies, at the coming of the Scots queen dowager, Mary of Guise,
(she who visited England in Edward’s time,) went with their hair
frownsed, curled, and double curled, she altered nothing, but kept her
old-maidenly shamefacedness.’

“Whatever Elizabeth’s subsequent taste in dress might have been, it is
evident, that at this period she strictly conformed to the rigid turn of
sentiment which prevailed in young Edward’s reign. Miss Aikin tells us,
that there is a print, from the portrait of her when young, in which the
hair is without a single ornament, and the whole dress remarkably plain.

“But I must leave this interesting part of Elizabeth’s character, and
proceed to the time when the insurrection by Wyatt, of which I have
formerly spoken, was made a pretext for confining her person within the
Tower.

“Three of the queen’s council were dispatched to Ashbridge, to summon
her to London; and with such rigour did they execute their commission,
that, although on their arrival late at night, they found her confined
to her bed with illness, they not only insisted upon seeing her at this
time, but, ere the lady to whom they had given their message could
deliver it, they rudely burst into the room of the princess, and
informed her, that, ‘alive or dead,’ they must carry her with them.

“That Elizabeth had conducted herself with great amiability, may be
inferred from the grief with which her servants saw her depart. They
naturally anticipated, from the severity of the proceedings, the worst
that could befall their youthful mistress. And, in so weak a state was
the afflicted princess, that she was obliged to rest four nights, in a
journey of twenty-four miles.

After the residence of a few days at Hampton Court, she was conducted to
the Tower privately, by the earl of Sussex and another lord, three of
her own ladies, three of the queen’s, and some of her own officers.

“Holinshed has preserved some curious and characteristic traits of her
conduct, which I shall relate to you, in nearly his own words.

“On reaching the place of her destination, she at first refused to land
at the traitors’ gate, which, when one of the uncourteous lords heard,
he replied, that ‘she should not choose;’ offering her, at the same
time, his cloak, to protect her from the rain; ‘which she, putting it
back with her hand, with a good dash, refused.’

“Setting her foot upon the stairs, she said: ‘Here landeth as true a
subject, being a prisoner, as ever landed at these stairs; and before
thee, O God! do I speak it, having none other friends but thee alone.’
To whom the same lord answered again: ‘That, if it were so, it was the
better for her.’

“Observing a multitude of servants and warders standing in order to
receive her, she said: ‘What needed all this?’ Being informed that it
was customary, on receiving a prisoner: ‘If it be,’ said she, ‘for my
cause, I beseech you that they may be dismissed.’ Whereupon, the poor
men knelt down, and, with one voice, prayed God to preserve her; for
which action they all lost their places the next day.

“Passing on a little further, she sat down upon a stone, and there
rested herself; upon which the lieutenant, expressing his fears upon her
account, and begging her to come in from the rain, she replied: ‘Better
sitting here, than in a worse place; for God knoweth, I know not whither
you will bring me.’ On seeing her gentleman-usher in tears, she reproved
him, telling him, he ought rather to be her comforter, and not to dismay
her; especially since she knew her truth to be such, that no man should
have cause to weep for her. Then rising, she entered into her prison,
the doors being locked and bolted upon her.

“This last act of severity seems exceedingly to have distressed the
princess; but, calling for her book, she devoutly prayed that she ‘might
be suffered to build her house upon the rock, whereby the blasts of the
blustering weather should have no power upon her.’

“The confinement of the princess in the Tower, was purposely rendered as
irksome and comfortless as possible. It was not till after a month’s
close confinement, by which her health had suffered materially, that,
after many entreaties, she gained permission to walk in the royal
apartments, accompanied by the lord chamberlain, and three of her
gentlewomen; the windows being shut, and she not permitted to look out
of them. Afterwards, she had liberty to walk in a small garden, the
doors and gates being shut; and the other prisoners being closely
guarded during the time, and strictly commanded not to look from out of
the windows, or to speak.


[Illustration:
Page 112.
Page 129.]


“Even a child of five years old, belonging to some inferior officer in
the Tower, who was wont to visit her daily, and to carry her flowers,
was suspected of being employed as a messenger between her and the earl
of Devonshire; was strictly examined by the lord chamberlain; and,
notwithstanding his youth and simplicity, ordered not to visit her
again. The child answering, that ‘he would bring his lady and mistress
more flowers,’ he was threatened with a whipping if he did not desist.
The next day, as the princess was walking in the garden, the boy,
peeping in through a hole in the door, cried out, ‘Mistress, I can bring
you no more flowers;’ whereat she smiled, but said nothing.
Nevertheless, the lord chamberlain hearing the circumstance, severely
rebuked his father, and ordered him to send him from home.

“Her confinement in the Tower lasted for some time. She was afterwards
removed to Woodstock, in Oxfordshire, and retained in a kind of
honourable captivity, till the death of her sister Mary set her free.

“This event took place on November the nineteenth, 1558; and, on the
twenty-third of the same month, Elizabeth, now become queen, set forward
for her capital, attended by about a hundred nobles, knights, gentlemen,
and ladies; and took up her abode, for the present, at the Chartreux, or
Charter-house, formerly a considerable monastery, but dissolved in the
reign of Henry the Eighth, and then the residence of lord North; a
splendid pile, which offered ample accommodation for a royal retinue.

“Her next removal, according to ancient custom, was to the Tower. On
this occasion, the loyalty and gallantry of the English nation were
fully displayed. Pageants and endless devices attracted her attention on
all sides: singers and musicians lent their aid; and, more than all, the
air was rent with the joyful acclamations of her enraptured subjects,
as, preceded by her heralds and great officers, the maiden queen,
gratified and affected by the homage that a brave and generous nation
offered up, expressed her grateful sense of it by holding up her hands,
with a pleased countenance, to those who were at a distance from her,
and by the ‘most tender and gentle language to those who stood near.’
One simple act of kindness was noticed with peculiar commendation. A
branch of rosemary given her with a petition, by a poor woman in
Fleet-bridge, was seen in her chariot till she came to Westminster. Nor
was her reception of the English Bible, which was presented to her in
Cheapside, less grateful to the feelings of her people, still bearing in
remembrance the persecutions they had received. She not only took it
reverently in her hands, but kissed it, and laid it on her bosom;
assuring the citizens of her high sense of its value, and that she
should read it most diligently.

“I do not think,” said Mr. Wilmot, “that I can conclude these extracts
from Holinshed better, than by quoting Miss Aikin’s remarks upon this
part of Elizabeth’s life; concluding with the prayer she offered, which
has been preserved by the careful chronicler.

“‘With what vivid, and what affecting impressions, (says this lady,) of
the vicissitudes attending on the great, must she have passed again
within the antique walls of that fortress, once her dungeon, now her
palace. She had entered it by the traitors’ gate, a terrified and
defenceless prisoner, smarting under many wrongs, hopeless of
deliverance, and apprehending nothing less than an ignominious death.
She returned to it in all the pomp of royalty, surrounded by the
ministers of her power, ushered in by the applauses of her people, the
cherished object of every eye, the idol of every heart.

“‘Devotion could alone supply becoming language to the emotions which
swelled her bosom; and, no sooner had she reached the royal apartments,
than, falling on her knees, she returned humble and hearty thanks in the
following prayer.

“‘O Lord Almighty and everlasting God, I give thee most hearty thanks,
that thou hast been so merciful to me as to spare me to behold this
joyful day. And I acknowledge that thou hast dealt as wonderfully and as
mercifully with me, as thou didst with thy true and faithful servant
Daniel, thy prophet, whom thou deliveredst out of the den, from the
cruelty of the greedy and raging lions; even so was I overwhelmed, and
only by thee delivered. To thee, therefore, only be thanks, honour, and
praise, for ever. Amen.’

“And now, having conducted Elizabeth to this triumphant moment of her
life, we will leave the subject this morning,” said Mr. Wilmot, “and
renew it to-morrow.”


------------------------------------------------------------------------



                               CHAP. VII.

                               ----------


“THAT Elizabeth was a woman endowed with a masculine mind,” said Mr.
Wilmot, “that she was prudent, wise, and energetic to an extraordinary
degree, and that she deserves to be ranked amongst the most illustrious
of sovereigns, cannot be denied; and yet, contrary to Roger Ascham’s
assertions, respecting her early simplicity, we find her, after
ascending the throne, uniting to all this greatness of character, a
vanity so unbounded, and a love of admiration so childish and weak, that
we start at the contrast and inconsistency, displayed at times by this
wonderful female.

“Contemporary historians have left on record several descriptions of the
public festivities then in fashion; and though it must be allowed, that
the spirit of the age fostered this romantic turn of disposition; yet we
can hardly help mingling a smile of ridicule, with our admiration of the
loftier traits of her mind, when we peruse the accounts of the
entertainments with which the queen was wont to be amused, even to a
late period of life. Holinshed, with his usual minuteness, has entered
very fully into the relation of these festivities; and I shall abridge,
for your amusement, one of the many narrations he presents us with.

“In one of her progresses, which were very frequent, she stopped at
Norwich, where she was received by the mayor and corporation, with every
demonstration of joy, and with a variety of orations and most doggrel
rhyme.

“Two days after her arrival, Mercury, in a blue satin doublet, lined
with cloth of gold, his garments ‘cut and slashed in the finest manner,’
with a peaked hat of the same colour, as though it would cut and sever
the wind asunder; and on the same, a pair of wings, and wings at his
feet, in a coach, most extraordinarily painted with birds and naked
spirits, hanging by the heels in the air and clouds, and with horses
winged and painted, appeared at her window, and invited her to go
abroad, and see more shows; and a kind of mask, in which Venus and
Cupid, with wantonness and riot, were discomfited, in no very gentle
manner, by the goddess of Chastity and her attendants, was exhibited in
the open air.

“A troop of nymphs and fairies lay in ambush for her return from dining
with the earl of Surry; and in the midst of these heathenish
exhibitions, the minister of the Dutch church waited his opportunity to
offer to her the grateful homage of his flock. After this oration, a
very curious compliment was paid her, in the form of a monument, on
which was artificially graven the scriptural history of Joseph; and in
the middle of the same device, was a figure of a serpent, entwining
itself around a dove, which bore this sentence: ‘Wise as the serpent,
and meek as the dove.’

“It appears that the inventing of masks, devices, and pageants, for the
recreation of the queen in her progresses, was a distinct profession.
George Ferrers, formerly commemorated as inventor of pastimes to Edward
the Sixth; one Goldingham; and Churchyard, author of the Worthieness of
Wales, of some legends in the Mirror of Magistrates, and of a prodigious
quantity of verse on various subjects, were the most celebrated
proficients in this branch: all three are handed down to posterity, as
contributors to the ‘princely pleasures of Kenilworth;’ and the two
latter, as the managers of the Norwich entertainments.

“But although it is not my intention to enter into all the pageants
which were exhibited, during the six days of the queen’s stay at
Norwich, I cannot, however, pass over the very original one,
representing a battle between six gentleman, apparelled only in doublet,
hose, and helmet on the head: during which, ‘the legs and arms of men,
well and lively wrought, were to be let fall, in numbers, on the ground,
as bloody as might be.’ A violent shower of rain prevented Elizabeth’s
enjoying this delicate exhibition; and the following day she left the
city, passing under wreaths, made of flowers, extended from each side of
the street, and mixed with garlands, coronets, pictures, rich cloths,
and a thousand devices; whilst songs of lamentation for her departure,
and orations on the high honour she had done the inhabitants, saluted
her ear, till she reached the purlieus of Norwich.

“Whilst I am willing to allow,” said Mrs. Spencer, “that taste was as
yet in its infancy, and the ludicrous incongruities, and pedantic
labour, exhibited in these diversions, are characteristic of a
semi-barbarous age; still I cannot but express my surprise, that a mind
so highly gifted as was that of Elizabeth, could find amusement in such
uncouth representations, and puerile performances. But I have not yet,
Sir, remarked any evidence of personal vanity. These festivities were
contrived by her subjects, not ordered by herself; and she was, in
politeness, obliged to listen to the eulogiums of her people, even
though the subject were in praise of herself.”

“That is true,” replied Mr. Wilmot; “but I think you will alter your
opinion, when you have the account of the entertainments that were
conducted by the queen, in honour of the proposals of marriage made to
her by the duke of Anjou.

“She caused to be erected, on the south-west side of the palace of
Whitehall, a vast banqueting-house, made of timber, covered with
canvass, and painted on the outside with a work called _rustic_,
resembling stone. It was lighted with two hundred and ninety-two
windows; whilst, from festoons of ivy and holly, hung pendants of
flowers, mixed with fruits of various kinds; amongst which,
pomegranates, oranges, pompions, cucumbers, grapes, and carrots are
named. The whole was spangled with gold; whilst, between the festoons,
appeared the ceiling, painted with a sky, sun, sunbeams, and stars,
intermingled with scutcheons of the royal arms. Three hundred and
seventy workmen were employed in its construction, and one thousand
seven hundred and forty-four pounds expended upon it.

“In this artificial palace the French ambassadors were received, and
most ‘royally banqueted and feasted’ by the maiden queen; whilst her
ministers were employed in drawing up, by her command, the marriage
articles.

“Meanwhile, several of the gentlemen and nobles, anxious to participate
in the gay illusion and courtly pleasures of the day, agreed amongst
themselves, to prepare a _triumph_; ‘the sumptuous service of which, and
the valiant manner of performing it, redounding,’ according to
Holinshed, ‘to their endless fame and honour.’ The plan was as follows:

“The young earl of Arundel, lord Windsor, Philip Sidney, and Fulke
Greville, called themselves the four foster-children of Desire; and to
that end of the tilt-yard where the queen was seated, their _refined_
homage gave the name of the Fortress of Perfect Beauty. This castle her
majesty was summoned to surrender, in an adulatory message, conveyed by
a boy, dressed in red and white, the colours of Desire; and it is not
the least part of this singular entertainment, that the first message
was delivered to her on a Sunday, as she returned from chapel.

“On her refusal, a day was fixed for the celebration of the pageant; and
on that morning, a mount, placed upon wheels, was rolled into the
tilt-yard, and the four cavaliers, in superb armour and accoutrements,
and each at the head of a splendid troop, rode into the yard. When they
had passed, in military order, before the queen, the boy who had given
her the former defiance, addressed her again, in a strain so quaint and
fulsome, that it would neither tend to your improvement nor pleasure,
were I to repeat it.

“When this harangue was finished, (during the recital of which, music
was heard within the mount, and the mount itself rose up in height,) the
device was moved close to the queen, the music sounded, and one of the
boys, accompanied by cornets, sung a fresh summons to the fortress; and
when that was ended, another boy, turning to the foster-children and
their retinue, sung an alarm, ‘with a pleasant voice and a seemly
countenance: which ended, the cannons were shot off, the one with sweet
powder, and the other with sweet water, very odoriferous and pleasant;
and the noise of the shooting was very excellent concent of melody
within the mount. And after that, was store of pretty scaling-ladders,
and the footmen threw flowers, and such fancies, against the walls, with
all such devices as might seem fit shot for Desire: all which did
continue till the time the defendants came in.’

“These were about twenty in number, and each accompanied by his
servants. Amongst them was Sir Henry Leigh, who came running in as
unknown; and, after breaking six lances, went out again. Of this
gentleman I shall have occasion to speak hereafter. Trumpeters and pages
attended, and speeches were severally delivered to the queen, on the
part of these knights, several of whom assumed fantastic characters; and
surely none more so than Sir Thomas Perrot and Anthony Cook, who thought
proper to personate Adam and Eve; being begirt with apples and fruit,
and the latter having hair hung all down his helmet. These knights ‘were
accompanied by an angel.’

“The messengers, on the part of Sir Thomas Ratcliff, described their
master ‘as a forlorn knight, whom despair of achieving the fate of his
peerless and sunlike mistress, had driven out of the haunts of men, into
a cave of the desert, where moss was his bed, moss his ceiling, moss his
candle, and moss, watered with salt tears, his food.’ Even here, the
report of this assault on the fortress of Peerless Beauty, reached his
ears, and roused him from his solitude—from bondage to a living death;
and, in token of his devoted loyalty and inviolable fidelity to his
excellent and divine lady, he had sent her his shield, hewn out of the
hard cliff, only enriched with moss; which he begged her to accept, as
the ensign of her fame, and the instrument of his glory; prostrating
himself at her feet, as ready to undertake any adventures, in hopes of
her gracious favour.

“On the part of the four sons of Sir Thomas Knolles, Mercury appeared,
and described them as the legitimate sons of Despair, brethren to hard
mishap, suckled with sighs, and swathed up in sorrow, weaned in woe, and
dry-nursed by Desire; long time fostered with favourable countenance,
and fed with sweet fancies; but now, of late, alas! wholly given over by
grief and disgrace, with despair, &c.

“The speeches being ended, probably to the relief of the hearers, the
tilting commenced, and continued till night, with some fresh
circumstances of magnificence, and a few more harangues. At length the
challengers presented to their sovereign an olive bough, in token of
their humble submission; and both parties were dismissed by her, with
thanks and commendations.

“I told you I would give you some account of Sir Henry Leigh, whose
formal resignation of the office of queen’s champion, so long his glory
and delight, and which took place four years preceding this last
pageant, forms one of those romantic ceremonies which mark so well the
age of Elizabeth. The gallant earl of Cumberland was his destined
successor, and the momentous transfer was effected after the following
fashion.

“Having first performed their respective parts in the chivalrous
exercises of the band of knight-tilters, Sir Henry and the earl
presented themselves to her majesty, at the foot of the gallery where
she was seated, surrounded by her ladies and nobles, to view the games.

“They advanced to slow music, and a concealed performer accompanied the
strain with the following song:

          “My golden locks time hath to silver turn’d,
           (Oh, time! too swift, and swiftness never ceasing,)
           My youth ’gainst age, and age at youth hath spurn’d;
           But spurn’d in vain, youth waneth by increasing:
           Beauty, strength, and youth, flowers fading been;
           Duty, faith, and love, are roots and evergreen.

          “My helmet now shall make a hive for bees,
           And lover’s songs shall turn to holy psalms;
           A man at arms must now sit on his knees,
           And feed on prayers that are old age’s alms;
           And so, from court to cottage I depart,
           My saint is sure of mine unspotted heart.

          “And when I sadly sit in homely cell,
           I’ll teach my swains this carol for a song:
           ‘Bless’d be the hearts that think my sovereign well,
           Curs’d be the souls that think to do her wrong.’
           Goddess, vouchsafe this aged man his right
           To be your beads-man now, that was your knight.”

“During the performance, there arose out of the earth a pavilion of
white taffeta, supported on pillars resembling porphyry, and formed to
imitate the temple of the vestal virgins. A superb altar was placed
within it, on which were laid some rich gifts for her majesty. Before
the gate stood a crowned pillar, embraced by an eglantine; to which a
votive table was attached, inscribed, ‘to Elizabeth.’ The gifts and the
tablet being, with great reverence, delivered to the queen, the aged
knight being in the mean time disarmed, he offered up his armour at the
foot of the pillar, and, kneeling, presented the earl of Cumberland to
her majesty; praying her to accept of him as a knight, and to continue
these annual exercises. The proposal being graciously accepted, Sir
Henry armed the earl, and mounted him on his horse: this done, he
clothed himself in a long velvet gown, and covered his head, in lieu of
a helmet, with a buttoned cap of the country fashion.”

“This is by far the most elegant ceremony you have described, Sir,” said
Mrs. Spencer; “but I cannot help lamenting, that the distinguished
character of Elizabeth should be sullied with such weakness.”

“We will turn,” said Mr. Wilmot, “from the contemplation of her defects,
to view her in those affairs, when the strength of her character appears
in all its native lustre—when the sacred feelings of the moment, lent to
her words and actions that energy and dignity, which so often gained her
the admiration of hoary statesmen, and of surrounding nations. You have
heard of the threatened attack of the Spanish Armada, and the vigorous
measures that were taken to defend the country against the threatened
invasion. When all the preparations of defence were finally arranged,
the queen resolved to visit, in person, her camp at Tilbury, for the
purpose of encouraging her troops.

“Mounted on a noble charger, with a general’s truncheon in her hand, a
corslet of polished steel laced on over her magnificent apparel, and a
page in attendance, bearing her white plumed helmet, she rode
bare-headed, from rank to rank, with a courageous deportment and a
smiling countenance; and, amid the affectionate plaudits and shouts of
military ardour, which burst from the animated and admiring soldiery,
she addressed them in the following short and spirited harangue.

“‘My loving people, we have been persuaded, by some that are careful of
our safety, to take heed how we commit ourselves to armed multitudes,
for fear of treachery; but I assure you, I do not desire to live, to
distrust my faithful and loving people. Let tyrants fear: I have always
so behaved myself, that, under God, I have placed my chiefest strength
and safeguard in the loyal hearts and good-will of my subjects.

“‘And therefore I am come amongst you at this time, not as my recreation
or sport; but being resolved, in the midst and heat of battle, to live
or die amongst you all: to lay down, for my God, and for my kingdom, and
for my people, my honour and my blood, even in the dust. I know I have
but the body of a weak and feeble woman; but I have the heart of a king,
and of a king of England too; and think foul scorn, that Parma, or
Spain, or any prince of Europe, should dare to invade the borders of my
realm.

“‘To which, rather than any dishonour should grow by me, I myself will
take up arms; I myself will be your general, judge, and rewarder of
every one of your virtues in the field.

“‘I know, already, by your forwardness, you have deserved rewards and
crowns; and we do assure you, on the word of a prince, they shall be
duly paid you. In the mean time, my lieutenant-general shall be in my
stead, than whom, never prince commanded more noble and worthy subjects;
not doubting, by your obedience to my general, by your concord in the
camp, and your valour in the field, we shall shortly have a famous
victory over those enemies of my God, of my kingdom, and of my people.’”

“It is, indeed, a noble speech,” said Mrs. Spencer; “and one can imagine
the loud plaudits that would ensue, when she had ended her address. If I
am not mistaken, it was about this time that newspapers were
introduced.”

“Yes,” answered Mr. Wilmot: “the intense interest in public events,
excited in every class by the threatened invasion of Spain, gave rise to
the introduction, into this country, of one of the most important
inventions of social life, that of newspapers. Previous to this period,
all articles of intelligence had been circulated in manuscripts; and all
political remarks, which the government had found itself interested in
making to the people, had issued from the press in the shape of
pamphlets; of which, many had been composed during the administration of
Burleigh, either by himself, or under his direction. But the peculiar
convenience, at such a juncture, of uniting the two objects in a
periodical publication, becoming obvious to the ministry, there
appeared, some time in the month of August, 1558, the first number of
the English Mercury, a paper resembling the present London Gazette,
which must have come out almost daily; since the number 50, the earliest
specimen of the work now extant, is dated July 23rd of the same year.
This interesting manuscript is preserved in the British Museum. But
(said Mr. Wilmot, turning to Susan and Ann) I think that you both know
the Royal Exchange.”

“Yes, Sir,” they replied; “but we do not know who built it.”

“It was built,” answered Mr. Wilmot, “by Thomas Gresham, a merchant.
Born of a family at once enlightened, commercial, and wealthy, he had
not only imbibed their spirit and their virtues; but, fortunately for
himself, neither the advantages of the education he had received at
Cambridge, nor his own superior attainments, tempted him to quit the
walk of life for which he was intended, and in which he afterwards so
eminently distinguished himself.

“His father, Sir Richard Gresham, had been agent to Henry the Eighth,
for negotiations of loans with the merchants of Antwerp; and the
abilities of young Gresham were soon discovered, by the eminent services
he rendered, when in a similar capacity to Edward the Sixth, by
redeeming the credit of the king, then sunk to the lowest ebb by the
mismanagement of his father’s immediate successor. Under Elizabeth he
enjoyed the same appointment, to which was added that of queen’s
merchant; and it appears, by the official letters of the times, that he
was occasionally consulted in political as well as pecuniary affairs. He
was a spirited promoter of the infant manufactures of his country,
several of which owed their origin to him.

“By his assiduity and commercial talents, he rendered himself one of the
most opulent merchants in the kingdom; and the queen showed her sense of
his merit, by bestowing on him the office of knighthood.

“Gresham had been always liberal and patriotic; but the death of his
only son, in 1564, determined him to render his country his principal
heir.

“Hitherto the citizens of London had been unprovided with any building
in the shape of a Burse, or an Exchange, such as Gresham had been
accustomed to see abroad, in the commercial cities of Flanders; and he
now munificently offered, if the city would give him a piece of ground,
to build one at his own expence.

“The edifice was begun accordingly, in 1566, and finished within three
years. It was a quadrangle of bricks, with walks on the ground-floor for
merchants, (who now ceased to transact their business in the middle
aisle of St. Paul’s Cathedral,) with vaults for warehouses beneath, and
a row of shops above; from the rent of which the proprietor sought some
remuneration for his great charges. But the shops did not immediately
find customers; and it was partly with a view of bringing them into
vogue, that the queen promised to give her countenance to the
undertaking, in January, 1571. Holinshed gives the following particulars
of this visit. On the twenty-third of January, the queen, accompanied by
her nobility, came from Somerset House, and entered the city by Temple
Bar, Fleet-street, and by the north side of the Burse, to Sir Thomas
Gresham’s in Bishopsgate-street, where she dined. After dinner, her
grace, returning through Cornhill, entered the Burse on the south side;
and, after she had viewed every part thereof, above the ground,
especially the Pawne, which was richly furnished with all sorts of the
finest wares in the city, she caused proclamation to be made by the
sound of trumpet, that it should henceforth be called the Royal
Exchange.

“Gresham offered the shops rent-free, for a year, to such as would
furnish them with wares and wax-lights, against the coming of the queen;
and the proposal produced a very sumptuous display. Afterwards, the
shops of the Exchange became the favourite resort of the fashionable of
both sexes. The building was destroyed by the fire of 1666; and the
divines of that day, according to their custom, pronounced this
catastrophe a judgment on the avarice and unfair dealing of the
merchants, and the pride, prodigality, and luxury of the purchasers and
idlers, by which it was frequented and maintained.”

“Then the present Exchange is not the building erected by Sir Thomas?”
said Ann.

“No, my dear,” replied Mr. Wilmot: “the first stone of the second fabric
was laid by Charles the Second, who rode in state into the city for this
purpose, in 1667. It bears the original title, and was erected in about
three years, at the expence of £80,000.”

Mrs. Spencer remarked, that Gresham was a splendid benefactor to the
city of London; for, besides the Royal Exchange, he left his magnificent
residence in Bishopsgate-street, as a college for the benefit of the
citizens of London. He thought that, as the inhabitants of that city
possessed much money, a proportionate quantity of knowledge and learning
should be diffused among them. He bequeathed annuities for public
lectures in divinity, law, physic, and astronomy, geometry, music, and
rhetoric: his house was appointed for the residence of the lecturer, and
there the lectures were to be read. But Gresham College is now turned
into the Excise Office.

“Did I understand you, Sir,” said Susan, “that the aisle of St. Paul’s
was formerly used by the merchants of London, as a resort in which to
transact business?”

“You may well ask the question, indeed,” answered Mr. Wilmot; “and, in
replying to it, I shall first tell you, that, in the year 1441, the
beautiful steeple of St. Paul’s was struck by lightning; (it was the
loftiest in the kingdom;) and, together with the bells and roof, was
utterly destroyed. Never did parties in religion run higher than about
this period of the reign of Elizabeth. The manner in which this accident
was commented upon, by adverse disputants, not only marks the temper of
the times; but informs us to how many purposes this building,
professedly devoted to divine worship, was appropriated.

“A papist immediately dispersed a paper, representing this accident as a
judgment from Heaven, for the discontinuance of the meeting, and other
services, which used to be performed in the church, at different hours
of the day and night. Pilkington, bishop of Durham, who preached at
Paul’s Cross, after the accident, was equally disposed to regard it as a
judgment; but on the sins of London in general, and particularly on
certain abuses, by which the church had formerly been polluted. In a
tract, published in answer to that of the papists, he afterwards gave an
animated description of the practices of which this cathedral had been
the theatre; curious, in the present day, as a record of forgotten
customs.

“He said, ‘No place had been more abused than St. Paul’s had been, nor
more against the receiving of Christ’s gospel; wherefore it was more
wonderful that God had spared it so long, than that he overthrew it now.
* * From the top of the spire, at coronations, or other solemn triumphs,
some, for vain-glory, had thrown themselves down by a rope, and so
killed themselves, vainly to please other men’s eyes. At the battlements
of the steeple, sundry times, were used their popish anthems, to call
upon their gods, with the torch and taper, in the evenings. In the top
of one of the pinnacles was Lollard’s Tower, where many an innocent soul
had been cruelly terminated and murdered. In the middest alley was their
long censer, reaching from the roof to the ground; as though the Holy
Ghost came down in their censing, in likeness of a dove. In the arches,
men complained of wrong and delayed judgments in ecclesiastical causes;
and divers had been condemned there by Annas and Caiphas, for Christ’s
cause. Their images hung on every wall, and pillar, and door, with their
pilgrimages, and worshipping of them; passing over their massing and
many altars, and the rest of their popish service.

“‘The south-side alley was for usury and popery; the north for simony;
and the horse-fair in the midst, for all kinds of bargains, meetings,
brawlings, murders, and conspiracies. The font, for ordinary payments of
money, as well known to all men as the beggar knows his dish; so that
without and within, above the ground and under, over the roof and
beneath, from the top of the steeple and spire down to the floor, not
one spot was free from wickedness.’

“How the divines of that age reconciled these violents philippics
against those who differed from them in religious views, with the
injunction left by the apostle, in his masterly delineation of Christian
charity, is not for me to determine,” said Mr. Wilmot. “You will
observe, that the practice of making St. Paul’s a kind of exchange, for
transactions of all kinds of business, and a place of meeting for idlers
of all sorts, is here alluded to: it is frequently mentioned by writers
of this and the two succeeding reigns; and when, and by what means the
custom was put an end to, does not appear.

“It was here that Sir Nicholas Throgmorton held a conference with an
emissary of Wyatt’s: it was here that one of the bravos, engaged in the
noted murder of Alden of Feversham, was hired. It was in St. Paul’s that
Falstaff is made to say, he bought Bardolph.

“In bishop Earl’s admirable little book, called, ‘Microcosmography,’ the
scene is described with all the wit of the author, and somewhat of the
quaintness of his age, which was that of James the First. He says,
‘Paul’s walk is the land’s epitome, or you may call it the lesser isle
of Great Britain. It is more than this; the whole world’s map, which you
may here discern in the perfectest motion, jostling and turning. It is
the great exchange of all discourse; and no business whatever, but is
here stirring and afoot. It is the synod of all pates politic joined and
laid together, in most serious posture; and they are not half so busy at
the parliament. It is the market of young lecturers, whom you may
cheapen here at all rates and sizes. It is the general mint of all lies,
which were, like the legends of popery, first coined and stamped in the
church. All inventions are emptied here; and not a few pockets. The best
sign of a temple in it, is, that it is the thieves’ sanctuary.

“‘The visitants are all men, without exception; but the principal
inhabitants and possessors are, stale knights, and captains out of
service, men of long rapiers and breeches, which, after all, turn
merchants here, and traffic for news. Some make it a preface to their
dinner; but thriftier men make it their ordinary, and board here very
cheap.’”

The bell now rang, and company was announced. Susan and Ann quitted the
gallery with reluctance; but not before they had obtained a promise from
Mr. Wilmot, that they should visit it again on the following day.


------------------------------------------------------------------------



                              CHAP. VIII.

                               ----------


PUNCTUAL to the moment of appointment, Mr. Wilmot led his young friends
into the gallery; and, after giving them leave to range round it, he
begged that they would select a subject for the morning’s entertainment.

“Then, Sir,” said Susan, “I should like to be informed who that wounded
officer is, and that poor soldier, who, even whilst drinking with
eagerness, seems to fix his eyes so intently on him.”

“That officer,” answered Mr. Wilmot, “is Sir Philip Sidney, one of the
brightest ornaments of queen Elizabeth’s court; and whose personal
endowments were only equalled by his valour and humanity.

“When, at the battle of Zutphen, in the United Provinces, in which he
had distinguished himself, his thigh-bone was broken by a musket-shot,
in the agony of his wound he called for water: some was brought him,
but, as he was lifting it to his lips, the ghastly looks of a dying
soldier met his eye. ‘Take this,’ said he, holding the water to him,
‘_thy_ necessities are yet greater than _mine_.’ We can better estimate
the self-denial of this generous act, when we remember that the wound
was mortal, and that, after sixteen days of acute suffering, it
terminated his valuable life.

“Thus perished, at the early age of thirty-two, this Marcellus of the
English nation; at once the pride and ornament of his time—the theme and
favourite of song and story.”


[Illustration:
Page 142.
Page 148.]


“The beautiful anecdote which I have just related to you, inspires a
love and esteem for his virtues, which will be retained as long as the
name of Sidney shall exist. He is described by the writers of that age,
as the most perfect model of an English gentleman, that could be formed,
even in imagination; and when to this we add his amiable disposition,
his elegant erudition, his rare talents and dauntless valour, we are
prepared to estimate the demonstrations of grief which were expressed
for his loss, and the almost unexampled honours paid to his memory. The
court went into mourning for him, and his remains received a magnificent
funeral in St. Paul’s: the United Provinces having in vain requested
permission to inter him at their own expence, promising that he should
have as fair a tomb as any prince in Christendom. Elizabeth, who had
called him ‘her Philip,’ always spoke of him with affectionate regret.
The kings of France and Scotland lamented him in verse. Cambridge and
Oxford published three volumes of ‘Lachrymæ’ on his death. Spenser in
rhyme, and Camden in prose, commemorated and deplored their patron. Lord
Brooke was so proud of his friendship, that he directed it to be part of
his epitaph, ‘Here lies Sir Philip Sidney’s friend.’ A crowd of humbler
votaries emulously strove who best should paint his excellence and loss;
and it would be endless to enumerate the names of those who have, in
latter times, celebrated, in various forms, the name of Sidney.

“Envy, for a while, seemed to have expired, whilst foreigners and
countrymen alike joined in the tribute of respect offered to his memory.
Du Plessis Mornay, a celebrated Hugonot leader, condoled with Walsingham
on the loss of his incomparable son-in-law, in terms of the deepest
sorrow: Count Hohenloe passionately bewailed his friend and
fellow-soldier: and even the obdurate heart of Philip the Second, was
touched by the untimely fate of his god-son.

“Henry Sidney, the father of this accomplished young nobleman, was a
man endowed with wisdom and talent. Exemplary in his own conduct, he
sought to infuse into the mind of his son, the purest and most
elevated moral principles. Nor was his laudable conduct—his parental
solicitude—disappointed: he saw, in the brilliant career of his
beloved son, his warmest wishes anticipated, his fondest hopes
realized.

“That Philip Sidney, whilst on his travels, though still very young,
conducted himself with prudence, and displayed much soundness and
clearness of principle, may be inferred from his obtaining the
friendship of Hubert Languet, a celebrated protestant at Frankfort. And,
though his character was not faultless, though he partook of some of the
errors incident to his age and station, yet, as a man—a high-souled and
accomplished man—he had, among his contemporary countrymen, neither
equal nor competitor.

“Flattery has long since ceased to spread her meretricious splendour
round his name, and the historian can now calmly examine the pretensions
to that merit, which not only England, but Europe, attached to his
short-lived but brilliant career; and she can, with confidence and
complacency, enrol him amongst the noble few, whose example may be held
up as a beacon to youth, and still serve to kindle the animating glow of
emulation.

“His death was worthy of the best parts of his life: he showed himself,
at the last, devout, courageous, and serene. His last words are worthy
of remembrance, they were uttered with seriousness and composure: ‘Love
my memory; cherish my friends: their fidelity to me, may assure you that
they are honest. But, above all, govern your wills and affections by the
will and word of your Creator. In me, behold the end of this world and
its vanities.’

“His wife, the beautiful daughter of Walsingham; his brother Robert, to
whom he had performed the part of an indulgent and anxious parent rather
than that of a brother; and many sorrowful friends, surrounded his bed.
Their grief was, beyond doubt, sincere and poignant, as well as that of
the many persons of letters and of worth, who gloried in his friendship,
and flourished by his bountiful patronage. He was the author of a
romance, entitled ‘Arcadia,’ now only known to the curious in
literature.”

Whilst Mrs. Spencer and Susan were expressing their high admiration of
the character of Sir Philip Sidney, Ann was busily examining a picture
which hung next to the before-mentioned painting. As soon as the
observations on this last subject had ceased, she eagerly enquired whose
rustic dwelling it represented.

Mr. Wilmot replied: “That of Edmund Spenser, one of our first genuine
poets; whose rich and melodious strains will find their way to the
tastes of the real lovers of minstrelsy, as long as inexhaustible
fertility of invention, truth, fluency, and vivacity of description,
copious learning, and a pure, amiable, and heart-ennobling morality,
shall be prized among the students of English literature.

“From the circumstance of Spenser’s being entered as a sizar at
Cambridge, it is probable that he sprung from an obscure parentage, and
possessed but a slender patrimony. His merit, however, soon dawned
through the shades that surrounded him; and his intimacy with Stubbs, a
noted character of the day, and still more his friendship with Gabriel
Harvey, by whom he was introduced to Sir Philip Sidney, attest the
superiority of his mental acquirements.

“The choice of his associates, together with some passages in his
‘Shepherd’s Calendar,’ had given rise to the suspicion that he was
inclined towards puritanical sentiments; and possibly had some share in
the disappointment of a fellowship, which he had hoped to obtain in
1576. Leaving college on this event, he retired for a time into the
north of England; but the friendship of Sidney, who was fully capable of
appreciating his genius, drew him again from his retirement; and it was
at Penshurst that he composed much of the ‘Shepherd’s Calendar,’
published in 1579, under the signature of _Immerito_, and dedicated to
his accomplished patron.

“This year Spenser was sent by the earl of Leicester (probably at his
nephew’s request) to France, on some commission; and, in the following,
he obtained the post of secretary to lord Grey, and attended him to
Ireland.

“Spenser, though the child of fancy and of the Muse, was yet the man of
business; and an excellent paper on the state of Ireland, which he drew
up at this time, is still read and valued. He received a considerable
tract of land out of the forfeited estates of the earl of Desmond; and
also the castle of Kilcoman, which henceforth became his residence, and
where he had the pleasure of receiving a first visit from Raleigh.

“Similarity of taste and pursuits must soon have created an intimacy
between these candidates for fame; and the barbarism and ignorance which
surrounded them, must have cemented their friendship, and heightened the
pleasure they must have experienced in each other’s society.

“Nor did the seductive blandishments of a court banish from the
affections or remembrance of Raleigh, when he returned to England, the
tuneful bard whom he had left behind in the ‘emerald isle.’ He mentioned
him to the queen with enthusiasm; obtained for him some favours, or
promise of favours; and, on the second visit which he made to Ireland,
(probably for the purpose of inspecting some large grants which he had
himself obtained,) he insisted upon his friend’s returning with him; and
hastened to initiate him into those arts of gaining a fortune, which had
proved so prosperous to himself. But neither the taste, nor the retiring
temper of the poet, was calculated to combat with the intrigues and
treacheries of this heart-sickening scene; nor yet to endure the servile
dependence on another’s will, that must be borne by the pursuer of
courtly fortune. Bitterly did he regret his learned leisure, and deplore
the mistaken kindness which had taught him to forsake retirement and
ease, for the ‘solitude of a crowd, where all around were either foes or
strangers.’ He has left upon lasting record, in a few brief, energetic
lines, his warning to others, his grief and repentance; and, hastening
back to obscurity, he prepared to earn that title to immortal fame,
which will ever attend the author of the ‘Faery Queen.’ This great work
appeared in 1589, with a preface addressed to Raleigh, and a
considerable number of recommendatory poems; one of which, a sonnet of
great elegance, is marked by the initials of that same patronizing
friend.

“The premature death of Spenser, under circumstances of severe distress,
now called forth the sympathy and bitter regrets of the friends of
English literature. After witnessing the destruction of his whole
property, including the plunder of his house, by the Irish rebels, he
fled to England for shelter. The fifty pounds per annum, which he
enjoyed as her majesty’s poet laureate, being apparently his only
resource, he took up his abode in an obscure lodging in London, and
pined away in penury and despondence.

“The genius of this great poet, formed on the most approved models of
the time, and exercised upon themes peculiarly congenial to its taste,
received, in all its plenitude, that homage of contemporary applause,
which has sometimes failed to reward the nobler masters of the lyre.

“The adventures of chivalry, and the dim shadowings of moral allegory,
were almost equally the delight of a romantic, a serious, and a learned
age. It was also a point of loyalty to admire, in ‘Gloriana,’ ‘Queen of
Faery,’ or in ‘The Empress Mercilla,’ the avowed types of the graces and
virtues of her majesty; and she herself had discernment sufficient to
distinguish between the brazen trump of vulgar flattery, with which her
ear was sated, and the pastoral reed of antique frame, tuned sweetly to
her praise by Colin Clout.

“Spenser was interred with great solemnity in Westminster Abbey, by the
side of Chaucer; the generous Essex defraying the expences of the
funeral, and walking himself as a mourner. That ostentatious but
munificent woman, Ann, countess of Dorset, Pembroke, and Montgomery,
erected a handsome monument to his memory, several years afterwards. The
brother poets who attended his obsequies, threw elegies and sonnets into
the grave; and, of the more distinguished votaries of the Muse in that
day, there is scarcely one who has withheld his tribute to the memory of
this beautiful author. Shakspeare, in one of his sonnets, had already
testified his high delight in his works.

“Joseph Hall, afterwards eminent as a bishop, a preacher, and a polemic,
but, at this time, a young student at Emanuel College, has more than one
complimentary allusion to the poems of Spenser, in his ‘Toothless
Satires,’ printed in 1597.”

“I think you mentioned, Sir,” said Mrs. Spencer, “that it was in Ireland
Sir Walter Raleigh first became acquainted with the illustrious bard.
Did Sir Walter spend much of his time there? Perhaps you will oblige us
by some account of him.”

“Willingly,” answered Mr. Wilmot. “Ireland, in particular, was the scene
of several of the early exploits of that brilliant and extraordinary
genius, Walter Raleigh; and it was out of his service in this country,
that an occasion arose for his appearing at court, which he had the
talent so to improve, as to make it the origin of all his favour and
advancement.

“Raleigh was the poor youngest son, of a decayed but ancient family in
Devonshire. His education at Oxford was yet incomplete, when the ardour
of his disposition encouraged him to join a band of a hundred
volunteers, led by his relation, Henry Champernon, in 1569, to the aid
of the French protestants. Here he served a six years’ apprenticeship to
the art of war; after which, returning to his own country, he gave
himself for awhile to the more tranquil pursuits of literature; for
‘both Minervas claim’d him as their own.’

“In 1578 he resumed his arms, under general Norris, commander of the
English forces in the Netherlands. The next year, ambitious of a new
kind of glory, he accompanied that gallant navigator, Sir Humphrey
Gilbert, his half-brother, in a voyage to Newfoundland. This expedition
proving unfortunate, he obtained, in 1580, a captain’s commission in the
Irish service; and, recommended by his vigour and capacity, rose to be
governor of Cork.

“A quarrel with lord Grey put a stop to his promotion in Ireland; and,
on following this nobleman to England, their difference was brought to a
hearing before the privy council, when the great talents, and uncommon
flow of eloquence, exhibited by Raleigh in pleading his own cause, by
raising the admiration of all present, proved the means of introducing
him to the presence of the queen. His comely person, fine address, and
prompt proficiency in the arts of a courtier, did all the rest; and he
rapidly rose to such a height of favour, as to inspire with jealousy
even him who had long stood foremost in the good graces of his
sovereign.

“It is recorded of Raleigh, during the early days of his court
attendance, when a few handsome suits of clothes formed almost the sum
total of his worldly wealth, that, as he was accompanying the queen in
one of her daily walks, she arrived at a miry spot, and stood in
perplexity how to pass. With an adroit presence of mind, the courtier
pulled off his cloak, and threw it on the ground to serve her for a
foot-cloth. She accepted with pleasure an attention which flattered her;
and it was afterwards quaintly said, that the spoiling of a cloak had
gained him many good suits.

“As a soldier, a statesman, and a scholar, Raleigh was eminently
distinguished through the whole reign of Elizabeth. He rendered her many
important services; and she not only acknowledged them, but protected
and encouraged him in the enterprises which he projected. He was the
discoverer of Virginia, and took effectual measures for promoting its
prosperity. His active enterprises against the Spaniards, both in Europe
and South America, excited the particular enmity of the court of Spain,
which used every means to effect his destruction. During the reign of
Elizabeth, these machinations were fruitless; but, on the accession of
James the First, Sir Walter lost his interest at court, was stripped of
his employments, and unjustly accused and condemned for a plot against
the king. He was afterwards trusted by James with a commission of
considerable importance, and thus virtually pardoned for all supposed
offences. The malice of his enemies at last prevailed against him; and
he was pusillanimously sacrificed to appease the Spaniards, who, whilst
Raleigh lived, thought every part of their dominions in danger.

“He was executed in Old Palace-yard, in the sixty-sixth year of his age.
His behaviour on the scaffold was manly, unaffected, and even cheerful.
Being asked by the executioner which way he would lay his head, he
answered: ‘So the heart be right, it is no matter which way the head
lies.’

“During his imprisonment, he wrote the following affecting letter to his
son; and, as it contains many solemn and affecting admonitions, and
testifies the influence of religion on his mind, I shall read it to you.

“‘My son, let my experienced advice and fatherly instructions sink deep
into thy heart. Seek not riches basely, nor attain them by evil means:
destroy no man for his wealth, nor take any thing from the poor; for the
cry thereof will pierce the heavens; and it is most detestable before
God, and most dishonourable before worthy men. Nor wrest any thing from
the laborious and needy soul: God will never prosper thee, if thou
offendest therein. Use thy poor neighbours and tenants well: have
compassion on the poor and afflicted, and God will bless thee for it.
Make not the hungry soul sorrowful; for if he curse thee in the
bitterness of his spirit, his prayer shall be heard of him that made
thee.

“‘Now for the world, dear child: I know it too well to persuade thee to
dive into the practices of it: rather stand upon thy guard against all
those that tempt thee to it, or may practise upon thee, thy conscience,
thy reputation, or thy estate. Be assured, that no man is wise or safe,
but he that is honest. Serve God, commend all thy endeavours to him, who
will either wither or prosper them. Please him with prayer; lest, if he
frown, he confound all thy fortune and labour, like the drops of rain
upon the sandy ground. May God direct thee in all thy ways, and fill thy
heart with his grace!’

“He also wrote a letter of consolation, and filled with pious
sentiments, to his wife; but the specimen I have given you, will serve
to exemplify the prepared state of his mind, previous to the solemn
event.

“An engagement this morning,” said Mr. Wilmot, “obliges me now to
conclude; and we will, therefore, quit the gallery.”


------------------------------------------------------------------------



                               CHAP. IX.

                               ----------


THE first picture which attracted the little girls’ attention, on their
entrance into the gallery this morning, was the representation of an
eruption of Mount Vesuvius. They instantly applied for information to
Mr. Wilmot, which he as willingly gave them, in the following words:

“This celebrated volcano is situated a few miles east of Naples, in
Italy. The first eruption on record, happened on the twenty-seventh of
August, A.D. 79. It was accompanied by an earthquake, which overturned
several cities. Pliny, the naturalist, being too curious in observing
the effects of this violent convulsion of nature, was suffocated by the
sulphureous smoke.”

“Who was Pliny?” asked Susan.

“Pliny the Elder,” replied Mr. Wilmot, “was one of the most learned of
the Roman writers; and was born at Verona in Italy, A.D. 23. But a
letter from his nephew to a friend, describing his character and the
event, will give you a more perfect idea of both, than any other means I
can adopt. This amiable and learned man first enters into an account of
his uncle’s surprising application, as well as great mental powers; and
after relating the nature of his employments, he proceeds to say:

“‘You will wonder how a man, so engaged as he was, could find time to
compose such a number of books as he did; and some of them, too, upon
abstruse subjects. But your surprise will rise still higher, when you
hear that, for some time, he engaged in the profession of an advocate;
that he died in the fifty-sixth year of his age; that, from the time of
his quitting the bar, to his death, he was employed, partly in the
execution of the highest posts, and partly in personal attendance on
those emperors who honoured him with their friendship.”


[Illustration:
Page 158.
Page 159.]


“‘But he had a quick apprehension, joined to _unwearied application_. In
summer, he always began his studies as soon as it was night; in winter,
generally at one in the morning, but never later than two, and sometimes
at midnight. No man ever spent less time in bed; insomuch, that, without
retiring from his book, he would sometimes take a short nap, and then
pursue his studies. Before day-break he used to wait upon Vespasian,
who, likewise, chose these seasons to transact business. When he had
finished the affairs which that emperor transmitted to his charge, he
returned home again to his studies.

“‘After a short and light repast, at noon, according to the good old
custom of the ancients, he would frequently, in the summer, if
disengaged from business, repose himself in the sun; during which time,
some author was read to him, from which he made extracts and
observations; as, indeed, this was his constant method, whatever book he
read; for it was a maxim of his, ‘that no book was so bad but that
something might be learned from it.’

“‘When this was over, he generally went into the cold bath; and, as soon
as he came out of it, generally took a slight refreshment, and then
reposed himself for a little while. Thus, as if it had been a new day,
he renewed his studies till supper-time; when a book was again read to
him, upon which he would make some slight remarks. I remember once, his
_reader_ having pronounced a word wrong, somebody at table made him
repeat it again; upon which my uncle asked his friend, if he understood
it? who, acknowledging that he did: ‘Why, then,’ said he, ‘would you
make him go back again? We have lost, by this interruption, above ten
lines;’ covetous was this great man of time!

“‘In summer he always rose from supper by day-light, and in winter as
soon as it was dark; and he observed this rule as strictly as if it had
been a law of the state.

“‘Such was his manner of life amidst the noise and hurry of the town;
but, in the country, his whole time was devoted to study, without
intermission, excepting only when he bathed. In this exception I include
no more than the time he was actually in the bath; for, while he was
rubbed and wiped, he was employed in hearing some book read to him, or
in dictating. In his journeys he lost no time from his studies; but his
mind, at those seasons, being disengaged from all other business,
applied itself wholly to that single pursuit.

“‘A secretary constantly attended him in his chariot, who, in the
winter, wore a kind of warm gloves, that the sharpness of the weather
might not occasion any intermission to my uncle’s studies; and for the
same reason, when at Rome, he was always carried in a chair. I remember,
he once reproved me for walking. ‘You might,’ said he, ‘employ those
hours to more advantage;’ for he thought every hour lost, that was not
given to study. By this extraordinary application he found time to
compose the several treatises I have mentioned; besides one hundred and
sixty volumes, which he left me by his will, consisting of a kind of
common-place, written on both sides, in a very small character; so that
one might fairly reckon the number considerably more. I have heard him
say that, when he was comptroller of the revenue in Spain, Largius
Licinius offered him 400,000 sesterces (about £.3200 of our money) for
those manuscripts, and yet they were not then quite so numerous.’”

“What a remarkably industrious man he must have been!” said Ann.

“Yes,” replied Mr. Wilmot; “and although it would not be possible for
the generality of men to pursue his plans, yet I think we may all learn
something from his diligence, and his (may I not say) miserly care of
time. But to proceed with the narration.

“‘My uncle was at this time, with the fleet under his command, at
Misenum, in the gulf of Naples. On the twenty-fourth of August, at about
one in the afternoon, my mother desired him to observe a cloud, which
appeared of a very unusual shape and size. He had just returned from
enjoying the benefit of the sun; and, after bathing in cold water, and
taking a slight repast, was retired to his study: he immediately arose,
and went out upon an eminence, from which he might more distinctly view
the phenomenon. It was not, at this distance, discernible from what
mountain the cloud issued; but it was found afterwards to proceed from
Vesuvius, about six miles distant from Naples. I cannot give you a more
correct, or exact description of its figure, than to represent it by
that of a pine-tree; for it shot up a great height, in the form of a
tall trunk, which spread at the top into a sort of branches; occasioned,
I suppose, either by the force of the internal vapour, which impelled
the cloud upwards, decreasing in strength as it advanced, or, that the
cloud, being pressed back by its own weight, expanded itself in the
manner I have mentioned: it appeared sometimes dark and spotted, and
sometimes bright, as it was either more or less impregnated with earth
and cinders.


[Illustration:
Page 162.
Page 175.]


“‘This uncommon appearance excited my uncle’s philosophical curiosity to
take a nearer view of it. He accordingly ordered a light vessel to be
prepared; and offered me the liberty, if I thought proper, to attend
him. I chose rather to continue the employment in which I was engaged;
for it happened that he had given me a certain writing to copy.

“‘As he was going out of the house, with his tablets in his hand, he was
met by the mariners, belonging to the galleys stationed at Retina, from
which they had fled in the uttermost terror; for that port being
situated at the foot of Vesuvius, they had no other way than to escape
by sea. They conjured him, therefore, not to proceed, and expose his
life to imminent and inevitable danger. In compliance with this advice,
he exchanged his original intentions; and, instead of gratifying his
philosophical spirit, he resigned it to the more magnanimous principle
of aiding the distressed.

“‘With this view he ordered the fleet immediately to put to sea, and
went himself on board, with an intention of assisting, not only Retina,
but the several other towns, which stood thick upon that beautiful
coast.

“‘Hastening to the place, therefore, from which others fled with the
utmost terror, he steered his direct course to the point of danger; and
with so much calmness and presence of mind, as to be able to make and
dictate his observations upon the appearance and progress of that
dreadful scene. He was now so near the mountain, that the cinders, which
grew thicker and stronger the more he advanced, fell into the ships;
together with pumice-stone and black pieces of burning rock. They were,
likewise, in danger of being aground by the sudden retreat of the sea;
and also from the vast fragments which rolled down from the mountains,
and obstructed all the shore. Here he stopped, to consider whether he
should return back. On which the pilot addressing him, ‘Fortune,’ said
he, ‘attends the brave: steer to Pompianus.’

“‘Pompianus was then at Stabiæ, (now called Castel è nar di Stabia, in
the gulf of Naples,) separated by a gulf, which the sea, after several
windings, forms upon that shore.

“‘Pompianus had already sent his baggage on board; for though he was not
at the time in actual danger, yet, being within the view of it, and
indeed extremely near, he was determined, if it should in the least
increase, to put to sea as soon as the wind should change. It was
favourable, however, for carrying my uncle to Pompianus, whom he found
in the greatest consternation; and, embracing him with tenderness, he
encouraged and exhorted him to keep up his spirits. The more to
dissipate his fears, he ordered his servants, with an air of unconcern,
to carry him to the baths; and, having bathed, he sat down to supper
(with great, or at least what is equally heroic) with all the appearance
of cheerfulness. In the meanwhile, the fire from Vesuvius flamed forth,
from several parts of the mountain, with great violence; which the
darkness of the night contributed to render still more visible and
dreadful. But my uncle, in order to calm the apprehensions of his
friend, assured him it was only the conflagration of the villages, which
the country people had abandoned. After this he retired to rest, and, it
is most certain, was so little discomposed as to fall into a deep sleep;
for being corpulent, and breathing hard, the attendants in the
anti-chamber actually heard him snore.

“‘The court which led to his apartment being now almost filled with
stones and ashes, it would have been impossible for him, if he had
continued there any longer, to have made his way out; it was thought
proper, therefore, to awaken him. He got up, and joined Pompianus and
the rest of the company, who had not been sufficiently unconcerned to
think of going to bed. They consulted together, whether it would be most
prudent to trust to the houses, which now shook from side to side, with
frequent and violent concussions; or flee to the open fields, where the
calcined stones and cinders, though levigated indeed, yet fell in large
showers, threatening them with instant destruction. In this distress
they resolved for the fields, as the less dangerous situation of the
two: a resolution which, while the rest of the company were hurried into
by their fears, my uncle embraced upon cool and deliberate
consideration. They went out then, having pillows tied upon their heads
with napkins; and this was the whole defence against the storm of stones
that fell around them.

“‘It was now day every where else; but _there_ a deeper darkness
prevailed than in the blackest night; which was, however, in some
degree, dissipated by torches and other lights of various kinds. They
thought it expedient to go down further upon the shore, in order to
observe if they might safely put out to sea; but they found the waves
still run extremely high and boisterous.

“‘There my uncle, having drunk a draught or two of cold water, laid
himself down upon a sail-cloth, which was spread for him; when,
immediately, the flames, preceded by a strong smell of sulphur,
dispersed the rest of the company, and obliged him to rise. He raised
himself with the assistance of the servants, and instantly fell down
dead; suffocated, I suppose, by some great and noxious vapour, having
always had weak lungs, and frequently subject to a difficulty of
breathing. As soon as it was light again, which was not till the third
day after this melancholy accident, his body was found entire, and
without any marks of violence, exactly in the same posture in which he
fell, and looking more like a man asleep than dead.’”

“And what became of the younger Pliny, Sir?” asked Ann, “during this
dreadful scene.”

“I will give you his narration in his own words,” answered Mr. Wilmot.

“‘My uncle having left us, I continued the employment which prevented my
going with him, till it was time to bathe: after which, I went to
supper, and then fell into a short and uneasy sleep. There had, during
many days before, been some shocks of an earthquake, which the less
alarmed us, as they are frequent in Campania; but they were so
particularly violent that night, that they not only shook every thing
about us, but seemed to threaten total destruction. My mother flew to my
chamber, where she found me rising in order to awaken her. We went out
into a small court belonging to the house, which separated the sea from
the buildings.

“‘As I was at that time but eighteen years of age, I know not whether I
can call my behaviour, in this perilous conjuncture, courage or
rashness; but I took up Livy, and amused myself with turning over that
author, and even in making extracts from him, as if I had been perfectly
at my ease. While we were in that situation, a friend of my uncle’s, who
was just come from Spain to pay him a visit, joined us; and observing me
sitting by my mother, with a book in my hand, reproved her patience and
my security: nevertheless, I still went on with my author.

“‘It was now morning, but the light was exceedingly faint and languid;
the buildings all around tottered; and though we stood upon open ground,
yet, as the place was narrow and confined, there was no remaining
without imminent danger: we therefore resolved to leave the town. The
people followed us in the utmost consternation, and (as to a mind
distracted with terror, every suggestion seems more prudent than its
own) pressed in great crowds about us, in our way out. Being advanced at
a considerable distance from the houses, we stood still, in the midst of
a most hazardous and tremendous scene. The chariots which we had ordered
out, were so agitated backwards and forwards, though upon the most level
ground, that we could not keep them steady, even by supporting them with
large stones.

“‘The sea seemed to roll back upon itself, and to be driven from the
banks by the convulsive motion of the earth: it is certain, at least,
that the shore was considerably enlarged, and several sea-animals were
left upon it.

“‘On the other side, a black and dreadful cloud, bursting with an
igneous serpentine vapour, darted out a long train of fire, resembling
flashes of lightning, but much longer. Upon this, our Spanish friend,
whom I mentioned above, addressing himself to my mother and me with
great warmth and earnestness, said, ‘If your brother and your uncle is
safe, he earnestly wishes that you may be so too; but if he perished, it
was, doubtless, his desire that you might both survive him. Why,
therefore, do you delay your escape a moment?’

“‘We could never think of our own safety,’ we replied, ‘whilst we were
uncertain of his.’ Upon which our friend left us, and withdrew from the
danger with the utmost precipitation. Soon afterwards, the cloud seemed
to descend and cover the whole ocean; as, indeed, it entirely hid the
island of Caprea, (an island near Naples, _now_ called Capri,) and the
promontory of Misenum. My mother conjured me to make my escape any way,
which, as I was young, I might easily effect. As for herself, she said,
her age and corpulency rendered all attempts of that sort impossible:
however, she would willingly meet death, if she could have the
satisfaction of seeing that she was not the cause of mine. But I
resolutely refused to leave her, and taking her by the hand, led her on.
She complied with great reluctance, and not without many reproaches to
herself, for being the occasion of retarding my flight.

“‘The ashes now began to fall upon us, though in no great quantity. I
turned my head, and observed behind me a thick smoke, which came rolling
after us like a torrent. I proposed, while we had yet any light, to turn
out of the high road, lest she should be pressed to death by the crowd
that followed us.

“‘We had scarcely stepped out of the path when darkness overspread us:
not like that of a cloudy night, or when there is no moon; but of a room
that is shut up, and all the lights extinct. Nothing then was to be
heard but the shrieks of women, the screams of children, and the cries
of men; some calling for their children, others for their husbands,
others for their parents, and only distinguishing them by their voices.
One lamenting his own fate, another that of his family; some wishing to
die, from the very fear of dying; some lifting their hands to the gods;
but the greatest part imagining that the last and eternal night was
come, which was to destroy the gods and the world together. Amongst
these, were some who augmented the real terrors by imaginary ones, and
made the frighted multitude believe that Misenum was actually in flames.

“‘At length a glimmering light appeared, which we imagined rather the
forerunner of another burst of flame, (as in fact it was,) than the
return of day. However, the fire fell at a distance from us; and then
again we were immersed in thick darkness, and a heavy shower of ashes
rained upon us, which we were obliged every now and then to shake off,
otherwise we should have been overwhelmed and buried in the heap.

“‘I might boast that, during all this scene of horror, not a sigh or
expression of fear escaped from me, had not my support been founded on
that miserable, though strong consolation, that all mankind were
involved in the same calamity, and that I imagined that I was perishing
with the world itself. At last this terrible darkness was dissipated by
degrees, like a cloud or smoke; the real day returned, and even the sun
appeared, though very faintly, as when an eclipse is coming on. Every
object which presented itself to our eyes (which were extremely
weakened) seemed changed, being covered with white ashes, as with a deep
snow.

“‘We returned to Misenum, where we refreshed ourselves as well as we
could, and passed our anxious night between hope and fear: though,
indeed, with a much larger share of the latter; for the earth still
continued to shake, while several enthusiastic persons ran wildly among
the people, and making a kind of frantic sport of their own and their
friends’ wretched situation. However, my mother and I, notwithstanding
the danger we had passed, and that which threatened us, had no intention
of leaving Misenum till we should receive some account of my uncle.’”

“How singular it was,” said Susan, “that Pliny should read an historical
work, at a moment of such imminent danger. Do you call it fortitude,
Sir?”

“I am something, my dear, of lord Lyttelton’s opinion, respecting this
part of this really amiable man’s conduct: ‘That, when all nature seemed
falling into final destruction, to be reading Livy and making extracts
was an absurd affectation. To meet danger with courage is manly, but to
be insensible to it is brutal stupidity; and to pretend insensibility
where it cannot be supposed, is ridiculous falseness.’”

“But his conduct, in refusing to leave his mother, you will allow, was
noble,” remarked Mrs. Spencer.

“Undoubtedly it was a beautiful act of filial piety; and whilst I have
passed a censure on the one act mentioned, I wish it to be remembered,
that no Roman ever excelled him in sincere integrity of heart and
greatness of sentiment; although there was a mixture of vanity blended
with his virtue, which impaired and disgraced it.”

“I think, Sir,” said Ann, “you spoke of some cities being destroyed at
this time.”

“Yes, my dear, and Herculaneum was one. Like Pompeii and other cities,
it was thought to be utterly destroyed, till the beginning of the
eighteenth century, when it was discovered; and many of the houses were
found perfectly furnished, and the furniture in good preservation.”

“Do volcanic eruptions ever occur in other countries?” asked Susan.

“The principal apertures of this kind,” replied Mr. Wilmot, “besides
Vesuvius, are, Etna in Sicily; Stromboli, one of the Lipari Islands,
north of Sicily; and Hecla in Iceland.

“So late as the year 1783, a volcanic eruption in Iceland surpassed any
thing recorded in history. The lava spouted up to the height of two
miles perpendicular, and continued thus for two months; during which
time it covered a tract of three thousand six hundred square miles of
ground, in some places more than one hundred feet deep; and this
tremendous visitation was followed by a train of consequences, the most
direful and melancholy, some of which continue to be felt to this day.

“Immense floods of red hot lava were poured down from the hills, with
amazing velocity; and, spreading over the low country, burnt up men,
cattle, churches, houses, and every thing they attacked in their
progress. Not only was all vegetation in the immediate neighbourhood of
the volcano destroyed, by the ashes, brimstone, and pumice which it
emitted; but, it being thrown up to an inconceivable height in the
atmosphere, they were scattered over the whole island; impregnating the
air with noxious vapours, intercepting the genial rays of the sun, and
empoisoning whatever could satisfy the hunger or quench the thirst, of
man or beast. Even in some of the more distant districts, the quantity
of ashes that fell was so great, that they were gathered up by handsful.
Upwards of four hundred people were deprived instantly of a home; the
fish were driven from the coasts; and the elements seemed to vie with
each other, which should commit the greatest depredations: famine and
pestilence stalked abroad, and cut down their victims with ruthless
cruelty, while death himself was glutted with the prey. In some houses
there was scarcely a sound individual left to tend the afflicted, or any
who possessed sufficient strength to inter the dead.

“The most miserably emaciated tottering skeletons were seen in every
quarter. When the animals that had died of disease and hunger were
consumed, the wretched creatures had nothing to eat but raw hides, and
old pieces of leather and ropes, which they boiled, and devoured with
avidity. The horses eat the flesh off one another; and, for want of
other sustenance, had recourse to turf, wood, and even excrementitious
substances; while the sheep devoured each other’s wool. In a word, the
accumulation of miseries originating in the volcanic eruption, was so
dreadful, that, in the short space of two years, not fewer than 9336
human beings, 28,000 horses, 11,461 head of cattle, and 190,488 sheep,
perished on the island.

“Such is Dr. Henderson’s account of this melancholy calamity; a
visitation which was awful in its nature, and unparalleled in its
horrors.”

“What a blessing it is,” said Ann, “that we live in England, where no
troubles of the kind ever assail us.”

“Cherish the feeling of thankfulness, my dear girl,” said Mr. Wilmot;
“for it is indeed a favoured—a privileged country. And here,” said he,
turning to a full-length portrait of George the Third, “is the picture
of our late venerable monarch; whose benevolent wish, that every child
in his dominions might possess a Bible, and be able to read it, deserves
to be transmitted from sire to son.

“The ornament of his domestic circle, his gentle and pious daughter, was
taken from him; and his reason lasted only to receive her last farewell,
and mingle his blessings with her dying accents.

“Let us compare the experience of this Christian king with that of
Abdalrahman, one of the greatest monarchs of his line.

“Cordova, the place of his residence, displayed 600 mosques, 900 baths,
and 200,000 houses; and the caliph gave laws to eighty cities of the
first, and to three hundred of the second and third order: and twelve
thousand villages and hamlets decorated the beautiful banks of the
Guadalquiver.

“Three miles from Cordova, in honour of his favourite sultana, the third
and greatest of the Abdalrahmans constructed the city, palace, and
gardens of Jehrar.

“Twenty-five years, and about three millions sterling, were employed by
the founder. His liberal taste invited the most skilful sculptors and
architects of the age; and the buildings were sustained or adorned by
twelve hundred columns of Spanish and African, of Greek and Italian
marble.

“The hall of audience was encrusted with gold and pearls; and a great
basin in the centre was surrounded with the curious and costly figures
of birds and quadrupeds.

“In a lofty pavilion of the gardens, one of those basins and fountains,
so delightful in a sultry climate, was replenished, not with water, but
with the purest quicksilver.

“The seraglio of Abdalrahman, his wives, and concubines, and eunuchs,
amounted to six thousand three hundred persons; and he was attended to
the field by a guard of twelve thousand horse, whose belts and scimeters
were studded with gold.

“Our imagination is dazzled by the splendid picture, (says Gibbon,) and
whatever may be the cool dictates of reason, there are few among us who
would obstinately refuse a trial of the comforts and cares of royalty.
It may, therefore, be of some use to borrow the experience of the same
Abdalrahman, whose magnificence has, perhaps, excited our admiration and
envy, and to transcribe an authentic memorial, which was found in the
closet of the deceased caliph.

“‘I have now reigned above fifty years, in victory or peace, beloved by
my subjects, and dreaded by my enemies, and respected by my allies.
Riches and honour, power and pleasure, have waited on my call: nor does
any earthly blessing appear to have been wanting to my felicity. In this
situation I have diligently numbered the days of pure and genuine
happiness which have fallen to my lot: they amount to _fourteen_. O man!
place not thy confidence in this present world.’

“I will conclude this morning’s entertainment with a few lines by the
princess Amelia, whom I mentioned to you in my notice of our late
excellent monarch.”

              ‘Unthinking, idle, wild, and young,
               I laugh’d, and talk’d, and danc’d, and sung;
               And, proud of health, of freedom vain,
               Dreamt not of sickness, care, and pain;
               Concluding, in these hours of glee,
               That all the world was made for me.

              ‘But when the days of trouble came;
               When sickness shook this trembling frame;
               When pleasure’s gay pursuits were o’er,
               And I could dance and sing no more;
               It then occurr’d, how sad ’twould would be,
               Were this world _only_ made for me.’


------------------------------------------------------------------------



                                CHAP. X.

                               ----------


“PRAY, Sir,” said Susan, “what place does this gloomy picture describe?”

“It is a drawing of the monastery of La Trappe,” answered Mr. Wilmot;
“remarkable for the austerity of its monks, and celebrated, in ancient
times, as the residence of the learned but licentious Abelard; and, in
more modern, by the singular reformation and self-devotedness of
Monsieur de Rancé.

“I will give you an account of it, as described by a gentleman who
visited it in 1819.

“The situation of this monastery was well adapted to the founder’s
views, and to suggest the name it originally received of La Trappe, from
the intricacy of the road which descends to it, and the difficulty of
access and egress, which exists, even to this day, though the woods have
been very much thinned since the French revolution. Perhaps there never
was any thing in the whole universe better calculated to inspire
religious awe, than the first view of this monastery: it was imposing
even to breathlessness.

“The total solitude, the undisturbed and chilling silence, which seem to
have ever slept over the dark and ancient woods; the still lakes,
reflecting the deep solemnity of the objects around them;—all impress a
peaceful image of utter seclusion and hopeless separation from living
man; and appear formed at once to court and gratify the sternest
austerities of devotion—to humour the wildest fancies, and promote the
gloomiest schemes of penance and privation.

“In ascending the steep and intricate path, the traveller frequently
loses sight of the abbey until he has actually reached the bottom; then,
emerging from the wood, the following inscription is seen, carved on a
wooden cross:

                 ‘C’est ici que la mort et que la verité
             Elevent leurs flambeaux terribles;
             C’est de cette demeure, au monde inaccessible,
                 Que l’on passe à l’éternité.’

“A venerable grove of oaks, which formerly surrounded the monastery, was
cut down in the Revolution. In the gateway of the outer court is a
statue of St. Bernard, which has been mutilated by the republicans: he
is holding in one hand a church, and in the other a spade, the emblems
of devotion and labour. This gateway leads into a court, which opens
into a second enclosure; and around that, are granaries, stables,
bakehouses, and other offices necessary to the abbey, which have all
been happily preserved.

“On entering the gate, a lay-brother received me on his knees, and, in a
low and whispering voice, informed me they were at vespers. The
stateliness and gloom of the building; (the last rays of the sun
scarcely penetrated through its windows;) the deep tones of the monks,
chaunting the responses, which occasionally broke the silence, filled me
with reverential emotions, which I was unwilling to disturb. It was
necessary, however, to present my letter of introduction; and friar
Charles, the _secretaire_, soon after came out, and received me with
great civility.

“He requested that, in going over the convent, I would neither speak nor
ask him any questions, in those places where I saw him kneel, or in the
presence of any of the monks. I followed him to the chapel alone. As
soon as the service was over, the bell rung to summon them for supper.

“Ranged in double rows, with their heads enveloped in a large cowl, and
bent down to the earth, they chaunted the grace, and then seated
themselves. During the repast, one of them standing, read a passage of
Scripture, reminding them of death and the shortness of human existence.
Another went round the whole community, and, on his knees, kissed their
feet in succession; throwing himself prostrate on the floor, at
intervals, before the image of our Saviour. A third remained on his
knees the whole time, and in that attitude took his repast. These
penitents had committed some fault, or neglected their religious duties;
which, according to the regulations, they had accused themselves of, and
were, in consequence, doomed to the above modes of penance. The
refectory was furnished with long wooden tables and benches. Each person
was provided with a trencher and a jug of water; and a cup, having on it
the name of the brother to whom it was appropriated: as, friar Paul,
friar Francis; and which name they assume on taking the order. Their
supper consisted of bread soaked in water, a little salt, and two raw
carrots placed by each: water is alone their beverage.

“The dinner is varied with a little cabbage or other vegetables: they
have very rarely any cheese, and never meat, fish, or eggs. The bread is
of the coarsest kind possible. Their bed is a small truckle boarded,
with a single covering, generally a blanket; no mattress or pillow; and,
as in the former time, no fire is allowed but one in the great hall,
which they never approach.

“The hardships undergone by these monks appear almost insupportable to
human nature. Their mode of life and regulations exist nearly in the
same state as established by the founder. In reciting them, such
dreadful perversions of human nature and reason make it almost difficult
to believe the existence of so severe an order, and lead us to wonder at
the artificial miseries which the ingenuity of pious but mistaken
enthusiasm can inflict upon itself.

“The abstinence practised at La Trappe allows not the use of fish, meat,
eggs, nor butter, and a very limited allowance of bread and vegetables.
They eat only twice a day: their meals consist of a slender repast about
eleven in the morning, and two ounces of bread and two raw carrots in
the evening; which, both together, do not at any time exceed twelve
ounces.

“The same spirit of mortification is observed in their cells, which are
very small, and have no other furniture than a bed of boards, a human
skull, and a few religious books. Silence is at all times rigidly
maintained: conversation is never permitted. Should two of them ever be
seen standing near each other, though pursuing their daily labour, and
preserving the strictest silence, it is considered as a violation of
their vow, and highly criminal. Each member is, therefore, as completely
insulated as if he alone existed in the monastery. None but the Père
Abbé knows the name, age, rank, or even the native country, of any
member of the community.

“Every one, at his first entrance, assumes another name; and, with his
former appellation, each is supposed to abjure not only the world, but
every recollection and memorial of himself and his connexions. No word
ever escapes from his lips, by which another could possibly guess who he
is, or where he comes from; and persons of the same name, family, and
neighbourhood, have often lived together in the convent for years,
unknown to each other, without having suspected the proximity.”

“Surely,” said Mrs. Spencer, “the recluse and solitary life of these
mistakenly pious men, is in direct opposition to the precepts of the
sacred volume, which enjoin us to love our neighbour as ourselves. Now
this love appears best to be exemplified by acts of benevolence and
practical kindness. ‘If we would do good to mankind, we must live with
them;’ and the daily and hourly instances of self-denial that we are
called upon to exercise, is surely of more benefit to the mind, than the
most rigid austerity, or the most severe bodily penances.”

“I quite agree with you,” replied Mr. Wilmot: “the very mortifications
they endure may induce self-love, or, I should rather say,
self-righteousness; and nothing, I think it will be generally allowed,
can be more contrary to the tenor of the gospel spirit. Very different
was the conduct of Bernard Palissy, a native of Saintes, in the south of
France, who lived in the reign of Henry the Third. He was a potter by
trade; but, having an innate genius for the sciences, he devoted all the
time he could spare from his pottery, to the cultivation of them.

“The king hearing of him, and curious to see so extraordinary a
character, sent for him to Paris, and had several interviews with him.
Palissy was, by religion, a protestant; and it was thought his religious
principles were the great obstacles to his fortune.

“One day the king told him, unless he would change his religion he
should be compelled to withdraw his protection from him. Palissy heard
the king with the respect due to his rank, but answered with a firm and
dignified tone: ‘Your majesty has frequently told me that you pitied my
case, but since you can say that you shall be compelled to withdraw your
protection from me, I now pity yours. This is not the language of a
king; yet know, Sire, that not the whole faction of the Guises, nor all
the catholic subjects united, shall ever compel a potter of Saintes to
bow the knee to senseless images of wood and stone.’

“The king was so struck with the answer, that he never after mentioned
the subject of changing his religion to Palissy; but suffered him, in a
short time, to return home to his native town, where he remained in
peace to the end of his life. He lived to a great age; never forsaking
his business, nor ceasing, in his moments of leisure to follow his
favourite scientific pursuits.”

“I am admiring,” said Mrs. Spencer, “this figure of Demosthenes
addressing the multitude. What energy and spirit there is in his
action.”

“Yes,” replied Mr. Wilmot; “and every thing that relates to such a
character, is highly interesting, both because it is intimately
connected with the history of the times, and because it is a striking
example of the influence of mind over the greatest physical powers.
Though he neither wore the insignia of royalty, nor presided as supreme
magistrate over a powerful republic, nor commanded fleets and armies;
yet, by the mere thunder of his eloquence, he made the mightiest
monarchs of his day tremble upon their thrones, and roused the
slumbering energies of Greece. He was the son of an opulent Athenian
manufacturer.

“The style of oratory that charmed his youthful fancy, was not the mild
and flowing eloquence of Isocrates, who was then the most celebrated
rhetorician in Athens; but the nervous and impassioned harangues of
Isæus, whose school, as well as that of the philosophical Plato, he
constantly attended.

“It is said, that he made the most determined efforts to conquer some
natural defects which seemed very formidable, and gradually acquired a
dignified and manly eloquence. For a time he secluded himself almost
entirely from society, that he might form his style on the purest
models, and induce a habit of chaste and elegant composition. During
this period, he transcribed the history of the Peloponnesian wars, by
Thucydides, eight times; so desirous was he of acquiring a style of
composition similar to that of the justly-admired historian. But this
was not the only advantage derived from the study of Thucydides. Whilst
employing himself in copying the works of that historian, Demosthenes
imbibed his patriotic spirit; his imagination was filled with the former
glory of his country; a generous indignation was kindled in his bosom,
in comparing the ancient splendour of Athens with its present state of
voluntary degradation; and a noble, but perhaps a romantic ambition
possessed his soul, to be the instrument of renovating a decayed
republic. Animated with these hopes and various prospects, he appeared
in the public assembly; and, in his orations against Philip, poured
forth such a strain of eloquence, that none of the venal orators of
Athens were able to resist.

“The magistrates and common people were borne along by the mighty
torrent, ere they were aware: his audience, instead of finding leisure
or inclination to admire the splendid corruscations of his genius, found
themselves imperceptibly animated by the same patriotic spirit, and
roused from their lethargy by the impassioned vehemence of the youthful
orator. In those unequalled specimens of ancient eloquence, which have
been preserved amid the wreck of ages, we meet with such elevated
sentiments, clothed in such glowing language, that, while reading them
with delight approaching to admiration, we are no longer surprised at
the powerful effect they produced on the popular assemblies of Greece.
We cannot wonder that multitudes should throng from every province, to
hear him declaim on a subject so deeply interesting to their
feelings;—that so many states rose at his hope-inspiring call, from the
slumber of inactivity, or the shades of despair, to make a vigorous
effort for their expiring liberties;—or that Philip should have
confessed, that the eloquence of Demosthenes injured him more than all
the armies and fleets of the Athenians. ‘His harangues,’ said the
Macedonian monarch, ‘are like the machines of war and distant batteries
raised against me, by which all my projects are subverted, and my
enterprises ruined, in spite of all my efforts. I believe,’ continued
that generous adversary, ‘had I been present and listened to his
orations, I should have been the first to conclude on the necessity of
waging war with myself.’

“During the active reigns of Philip and Alexander, Demosthenes sounded a
perpetual alarm, and ceased not to warn his countrymen against yielding
to the ambitious projects of these enterprising monarchs. But when
Antipater obtained possession of Athens, the orator fled to the isle of
Calauria, and took sanctuary in a temple dedicated to Neptune. Fully
persuaded that he had nothing to hope from the clemency of Antipater, he
withdrew into the interior; and, under a pretence of writing to his
family, put a poisoned quill in his mouth, which, in a few minutes,
terminated his mortal existence, and disappointed the meditated
vengeance of his enemies.

“A higher eulogium could scarcely have been pronounced on this prince of
orators, than that which was spoken by Antipater himself, several years
before his death. ‘I regard not,’ said he, ‘the harbours, the fleets,
the armies of the Athenians: Demosthenes alone gives me pain. Without
him, the Athenians would be amongst the most despicable inhabitants of
Greece. He alone inspires and animates them: he rouses them, with his
thundering eloquence, from their slumbers, and puts arms and oars into
their hands, in spite of themselves. He perpetually sets before them the
ancient victories of Marathon and Salamis, and invites them to similar
deeds of valour. Nothing escapes his penetrating mind: he foresees all
our projects—countermines and defeats all our designs: insomuch, that if
Athens confided in his wisdom, and implicity followed his counsels, our
condition were hopeless. No bribe can tempt him: like another Aristides,
he is impenetrable to such overtures: patriotism alone inspires and
actuates him.’ Such was the honourable testimony, borne by an enemy, to
the commanding talents and public virtue of this celebrated orator.”

“How strikingly is St. Paul’s definition,” said Mrs. Spencer, “of that
light and frivolous propensity of the Athenians, which led them to pass
the day only to ‘hear and tell some new thing,’ illustrated by
Plutarch’s relation of the illiterate citizen, who voted Aristides to
the punishment of the ostracism. When that great man questioned his
accuser, whether Aristides had ever injured him, he replied: Far from
it: that he did not even know him; only he was quite tired of hearing
him every where called ‘the just.’ Besides that spirit of envy which is
remarkably displayed in his speech, to have heard this excellent person
calumniated must have been a refreshing novelty, and have enabled him to
tell a new thing.”

Mr. Wilmot smiled and said: “The delicate and refined females of our
favoured country, should feel peculiar thankfulness in comparing their
happy lot with the degraded state of women in the politest ages of
Greece. Condemned to ignorance, labour, and obscurity—excluded from
rational intercourse, debarred from every species of intellectual
improvement or innocent enjoyment, they never seem to have been the
objects of respect or esteem. In the conjugal relation, they were the
servile agents, not the endeared companions of their husbands. Their
depressed state was, in some measure, confirmed by illiberal legal
institutions, and their native genius was systematically restrained from
rising above one degraded level. Such was the lot of the virtuous part
of the sex. I forbear to oppose to this gloomy picture, the profligate
renown to which the bold pretensions of daring vice elevated mercenary
beauty; nor should I glance at this impure topic, but to remind my young
cousins, that _immodesty_ in _dress_, _contempt_ of the _sober duties_
of _domestic_ life, a boundless appetite for pleasure, and a misapplied
devotion to the arts, were among the steps which led to this systematic
profession of shameless profligacy, and to the establishment of those
countenanced corruptions, which raised the more celebrated but infamous
Athenian women to that bad eminence. But, Ann, you are engaged with a
fine historical subject.”

“The death of Pericles, the Athenian general,” said Mrs. Spencer. “Will
you kindly relate to them the particulars of it?”

“Certainly,” replied Mr. Wilmot. “When Pericles was at the point of
death, his surviving friends and the principal citizens, sitting round
his bed, discoursed together concerning his extraordinary virtue, and
the great authority he had enjoyed. They enumerated his various
exploits, and the number of his victories; for, whilst he was commander,
he had erected no less than nine trophies to the honour of Athens. These
things they talked of, supposing that he attended not to what they said,
but that his senses were gone. He took notice, however, of every word
they had spoken, and thereupon delivered himself as follows: ‘I am
surprised, that, while you dwell upon and extol those acts of mine,
though fortune had her share in them, and many other generals have
performed the like, you take no notice of the greatest and most
honourable part of my character; that no Athenian, through my means,
ever put on mourning.’”

“Since you are talking of benefactors to their country,” said Mrs.
Spencer, “allow me to relate a few particulars of Herodes Atticus, an
Athenian citizen, whose munificent gifts would have been worthy of the
greatest king.

“The family of Herod was lineally descended from Cimon and Miltiades,
Theseus and Cecrops, Ægeus and Jupiter; but the posterity of so many
gods and heroes was fallen into the most abject state. His grandfather
had suffered by the hands of justice; and Julius Atticus, his father,
must have ended his life in poverty and contempt, had he not discovered
an immense treasure, buried under an old house, the last remains of his
patrimony.

“According to the rigour of the law, the emperor might have asserted his
claim; and the prudent Atticus prevented, by a frank confession, the
officiousness of informers. But the equitable Nerva, who then filled the
throne, refused to accept any part of it, and commanded him to use,
without scruple, the present of fortune. The cautious Athenian still
insisted that the treasure was too considerable for a citizen, and that
he knew not how to use it. ‘Abuse it, then,’ said the monarch, with a
good-natured peevishness, ‘for it is your own.’

“Many will be of opinion, that Atticus literally obeyed the emperor’s
last instructions, since he expended the greatest part of his fortune,
which was much increased by an advantageous marriage, in the public
service. He had obtained for his son Herod the prefecture of Asia; and
the young magistrate, observing that the town of Troas was but
indifferently supplied with water, obtained from the munificence of
Hadrian three hundred myriads of drachms, (about one hundred thousand
pounds of our money.) But in the execution of the work, the charge
amounted to more than double the estimate; and the officers of the
revenue began to murmur, till the generous Atticus silenced their
complaints, by requesting that he might be permitted to take upon
himself the whole additional expence.

“The ablest preceptors of Greece and Asia had been invited, by liberal
rewards, to direct the education of young Herod. Their pupil soon became
a celebrated orator, according to the useless rhetoric of that age;
which, confining itself to schools, disdained to visit either the forum
or the senate. He was honoured with the consulship at Rome; but the
greatest part of his life was spent in a philosophical retirement, at
Athens and the adjacent villas; perpetually surrounded by sophists, who
acknowledged, without reluctance, the superiority of a rich and generous
rival. The monuments of his genius have perished, but some considerable
ruins still preserve the fame of his taste and munificence.

“Modern travellers have measured the remains of the Stadium which he
constructed at Athens. It was six hundred feet in length, built entirely
of white marble, capable of admitting the whole body of the people; and
was finished in four years, whilst Herod was president of the Athenian
games.

“To the memory of his wife Regilla he dedicated a theatre, scarcely to
be paralleled in the empire: no wood, except cedar very curiously
carved, was employed in any part of the building.

“The Odeum, designed by Pericles for musical performances, and
rehearsals of new tragedies, had been a trophy of the arts over barbaric
greatness, as the timbers employed in the construction consisted chiefly
of the masts of the Persian vessels. Notwithstanding the repairs
bestowed on that ancient edifice by a king of Cappadocia, it was again
fallen to decay. Herod restored its ancient beauty and magnificence.

“Nor was the liberality of that illustrious citizen confined to the
walls of Athens. The most splendid ornaments bestowed on the temple of
Neptune in the Isthmus, a theatre at Corinth, a Stadium at Delphi, a
bath at Thermopylae, and an aqueduct at Canusium in Italy, were even
insufficient to exhaust his treasures.

“The people of Epirus, Thessaly, Eubœa, Bœotia, and Peloponnesus,
experienced his favours; and many inscriptions of the critics of Greece
and Asia, gratefully style Herodes Atticus their patron and benefactor.

“But we have had a long meeting this morning,” said Mr. Wilmot: “let us
adjourn till tomorrow.”


------------------------------------------------------------------------



                              CONCLUSION.

                               ----------


THE indisposition of Mr. Wilmot on the following day, prevented the
little party from meeting in the gallery as usual. It proved to be an
attack of a very serious nature, which confined him to his room for some
months. Susan and Ann attended him with an assiduity and affection, that
proved his instructions had not been thrown away upon them. At
intervals, they read the books from which his anecdotes had been taken;
and thus became acquainted with the history of their own and other
countries.

The tuition and wise counsel of their sensible mother, had done much to
correct the errors of their dispositions and characters, and to infuse a
love of rational pursuits. The love of dress became a secondary point,
and _neatness_ and _simplicity_ was alone regarded. They had still
faults, but they were open to conviction. A sense of weakness opens an
encouraging prospect of improvement, and time and care will, it is to be
hoped, rectify the most serious of their erroneous propensities.

When Mr. Wilmot’s health was a little restored, they accompanied him to
the sea-side; and here I must take my leave of my young readers, unless,
at any future time, they should wish to hear more of Susan and Ann, and
the Picture Gallery.



                                THE END.



                               ----------

                   Harvey, Darton, and Co. Printers,
                      Gracechurch-street, London.


------------------------------------------------------------------------


------------------------------------------------------------------------



 ● Transcriber’s Notes:
    ○ Missing or obscured punctuation was silently corrected.
    ○ Typographical errors were silently corrected.
    ○ Inconsistent spelling and hyphenation were made consistent only
      when a predominant form was found in this book.
    ○ Text that was in italics is enclosed by underscores (_italics_).





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