Изображения страниц
PDF
EPUB

LITERARY ACCOMPLISHMENTS OF LADY JANE

GREY.

LADY Jane Grey, before she was twelve years old, was mistress of eight languages. She wrote and spoke the English tongue with elegance and accuracy. French, Italian, Latin, and even Greek, she possessed to a perfection as if they were native to her, and she had made some progress in Hebrew, Chaldee, and Arabic. Yet she did not, like some learned ladies I have heard of, in pur suit of these extraordinary acquisitions, fall into any neglect of those more useful and ornamental arts, which are peculiarly to be desired in the female sex. The delicacy of her taste displayed it. self in the variety of her needle-works, and even in the beauty and regularity of her hand-writing. She played admirably upon various instruments of music, and accompanied them with a voice peculiarly sweet. What an agreeable picture does this history of the earliest years of lady Jane Grey present to our fancy! Though of noble and royal descent, she did not think that excused her from the performance of her duties, or the cultivation of her mind. She was anxious to improve her moments. She had a delicate complexion, and a regularity and composure of features which expressed the steadiness of her thoughts. She discovered a clearness of apprehension, and a solidity of judgment, which enabled her not only to make herself mistress of languages, but of sciences, so that she thought, spoke, and reasoned upon subjects of the greatest importance, in a manner which surprised every hody. With these quali

ties, her good-humour, humility, and mildness were such, that she appeared to derive no pride from all her acquisitions.

It was in the summer 1550, when she was exactly thirteen years of age, that she received a visit at Broadgate from Roger Ascham, schoolmaster to the princess Elizabeth. He had become acquainted with her in the court of king Edward VI. and had been equally struck with the greatness of her attainments, and the sweetness of her character.

When he arrived he found that the marquis and marchioness of Dorset, with all their attendants of either sex, were gone a hunting in the park. Lady Jane however was in her apartment, and when Mr. Ascham was introduced, he found her busy, reading the Phædon of Plato in the original Greek. Astonished at what he saw, after the first compliments, the venerable instructor asked her, why she lost such pastime as there must needs be in the park? At which smiling, she answered,'' I wisse all their sport in the park is but a shadow to that pleasure that I find in Plato. Alas, good folk, they never felt what true pleasure meant!' This naturally leading him to inquire how a lady of her age had attained to this deep knowledge of pleasure, and what had allured her to it, she made the following reply: 'I will tell you, and tell you a troth, which perchance ye will marvel at. One of the greatest benefits that ever God gave me, is that he sent me so sharp and severe parents, and so gentle a schoolmaster. For, when I am in presence either of father or mother, whether I speak, kcep silence, sit, stand, or go, eat,

drink, be merry, or sad, be sewing, playing, dancing, or doing any thing else, I must do it as it were in such weight, measure, and number, even so perfectly as God made the world; or else I am so sharply taunted, so cruelly threatened, yea presently sometimes with pinches, nips, and bobs, and other ways (which I will not name, for the honour I bear them), so without measure misordered, that I think myself in Hell, till the time come that I must go to Mr. Aylmer, [one of lady Jane's preceptors, afterwards bishop of London,] who teacheth me so gently, so pleasantly, with such fair allurements to learning, that I think all the time nothing, whiles I am with him. And, when I am called from him, I fall on weeping, because whatsoever I do else but learning, is full of grief, trouble, fear, and wholly misliking unto me. thus my book hath been so much my pleasure, and bringeth daily to me more pleasure and more, that in respect of it all other pleasures in very deed be but trifles and very troubles unto me.'

And

Marcliffe.

EXECUTION OF LADY JANE GREY.

THIS excellent personage was descended from the royal line of England by both her parents.

She was carefully educated in the principles of the Reformation: and her wisdom and virtue rendered her a shining example to her sex. But it was her lot to continue only a short period on this stage of being; for, in early life, she fell a sacrifice to the wild ambition of the duke of Northumber

land; who promoted a marriage between her and his son, lord Guilford Dudley; and raised her to the throne of England, in opposition to the rights of Mary and Elizabeth. At the time of their marriage she was only about eighteen years of age, and her husband was also very young: a season of life very unequal to oppose the interested views of artful and aspiring men; who, instead of exposing them to danger, should have been the protectors of their innocence and youth.

This extraordinary young person, besides the solid endowments of piety and virtue, possessed the most engaging disposition, the most accomplished parts; and being of an equal age with king Edward VI., she had received all her education with him, and seemed even to possess a greater facility in acquiring every part of manly and classical literature. She had attained a knowledge of the Roman and Greek languages, as well as of several modern tongues; had passed most of her time in an application to learning; and expressed a great indifference for other occupations and amusements usual with her sex and station. Roger Ascham, tutor to the lady Elizabeth, having at one time paid her a visit, found her employed in reading Plato, while the rest of the family were engaged in a party of hunting in the park; and upon his admiring the singularity of her choice, she told him, that she received more pleasure from that author, than others could reap from all their sport and gaiety. Her heart, replete with this love of literature and serious studies, and with tenderness towards her husband, who was deserving of her affection, had never opened itself to the flattering

[ocr errors]

allurements of ambition; and the information of her advancement to the throne was by no means agreeable to her. She even refused to accept of the crown; pleaded the preferable right of the two princesses; expressed her dread of the consequences attending an enterprise so dangerous, not to say so criminal; and desired to remain in that private station in which she was born. Overcome at last with the entreaties, rather than reasons, of her father and father-in-law, and, above all, of her husband, she submitted to their will, and was prevailed on to relinquish her own judgBut her elevation was of very short continuance. The nation declared for queen Mary; and the lady Jane, after wearing the vain pageantry of a crown during ten days, returned to a private life, with much more satisfaction than she felt when royalty was tendered to her.

ment.

Queen Mary, who appears to have been incapable of generosity or clemency, determined to remove every person, from whom the least danger could be apprehended. Warning was, therefore, given to lady Jane to prepare for death; a doom which she had expected, and which the innocence of her life, as well as the misfortunes to which she had been exposed, rendered no unwelcome news to her. The queen's bigotted zeal, under colour of tender mercy to the prisoner's soul, induced her to send priests, who molested her with perpetual disputation; and even a reprieve of three days was granted her, in hopes that she would be persuaded, during that time, to pay, by a timely conversion to popery, some regard to her eternal welfare. Lady Jane hàd presence of mind, in those

[blocks in formation]
« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »