Billeder på siden

most illustrious of these, the Chronicles have a value in our eyes beyond that which properly belongs to them. In the following extract, the matter of a remarkable scene in Richard III. is found, and it is worthy of notice, how well the prose narration reads beside the poetical one.

[Scene in the Council-Room of the Protector Gloucester.] The Lord Protector caused a council to be set at the Tower, on Friday the thirteen day of June, where there was much communing for the honourable solemnity of the coronation, of the which the time appointed approached so near, that the pageants were a making day and night at Westminster, and victual killed, which afterward was cast away.

These lords thus sitting, communing of this matter, the Protector came in among them, about nine of the clock, saluting them courteously, excusing himself that he had been from them so long, saying merrily that he had been a sleeper that day. And after a little talking with him, he said to the Bishop of Ely, My Lord, you have very good strawberries in your garden a Holborn; I require you let us have a mess of them.' Giadly, my Lord,' quoth he; I would I had some better thing, as ready to your pleasure as that; and with that in all haste he sent his servant for a dish of strawberries. The Protector set the lords fast in communing, and thereupon prayed them to spare him a little; and so he departed, and came again between ten and eleven of the clock in to the chamber, all changed, with a sour angry countenance, knitting the brows, frowning and fretting, and gnawing on his lips; and so set him down in his place. All the lords were dismayed, and sore marvelled of this manner and sudden change, and what thing should him ail. When he had sitten a while, thus he began: What were they worthy to have, that compass and imagine the destruction of me, being so near of blood to the king, and protector of this his royal realm?' At which question, all the lords sat sore astonished, musing much by whom the question should be meant, of which every man knew himself clear.

Then the Lord Hastings, as he that, for the familiarity that was between them, thought he might be boldest with him, answered and said, that they were worthy to be punished as heinous traitors, whatsoever they were; and all the other affirmed the same. That is, quoth he, yonder sorceress, my brother's wife, and other with her;' meaning the queen. Many of the lords were sore abashed which favoured her; but the Lord Hastings was better content in his mind, that it was moved by her than by any other that he loved better; albeit his heart grudged that he was not afore made of counsel of this matter, as well as he was of the taking of her kindred, and of their putting to death, which were by his assent before devised to be beheaded at Pomfret, this self same day; in the which he was not ware, that it was by other devised that he himself should the same day be beheaded at London. Then,' said the Protector, in what wise that sorceress and other of her counsel, as Shore's wife, with her affinity, have by their sorcery and witchcraft thus wasted my body!" and therewith plucked up his doublet sleeve to his elbow, on his left arm, where he showed a very withered arm, and small, as it was never other.' And thereupon every man's mind misgave them, well perceiving that this matter was but a quarrel for well they wist that the queen was both too wise to go about any such folly, and also, if she would, yet would she of all folk make Shore's wife least of her counsel, whom of all women she most hated, as that concubine whom the king, her husband, most loved.

theless, the Lord Hastings, which from the death of King Edward kept Shore's wife, his heart somewhat grudged to have her whom he loved so highly accused, and that as he knew well untruly; therefore he answered and said, Certainly, my Lord, if they have so done, they be worthy of heinous punishment.' 'What!' quoth the Protector, thou thee, they have done it, and that will I make good servest me, I ween, with if and with and; I tell on thy body, traitor!' And therewith, as in a great anger, he clapped his fist on the board a great rap, at which token given, one cried treason without the chamber, and therewith a door clapped, and in came rushing men in harness, as many as the chamber could hold. And anon the Protector said to the Lord Hastings, I arrest thee, traitor!' What! me! my Lord,' quoth he. Yea, the traitor,' quoth the Protector. And one let fly at the Lord Stanley, which shrunk at the stroke, and fell under the table, or else his head had been cleft to the teeth; for as shortly as he shrunk, yet ran the blood about his ears. Then was the Archbishop of York, and Doctor Morton, Bishop of Ely, and the Lord Stanley taken, and divers others which were bestowed in divers chambers, save the Lord Hastings, whom the Protector commanded to speed and shrive him apace. For, by Saint Poule,' quoth he, I will not dine till I see thy head off.' It booted him not to ask why, but heavily he took a priest at a venture, and made a short shrift, for a longer would not be suffered, the Protector made so much haste to his dinner, which might not go to it till this murder were done, for saving of his ungracious oath. So was he brought forth into the green, beside the chapel within the Tower, and his head laid down on a log of timber, that lay there for building of the chapel, and there tyrannously stricken off, and after his body and head were interred at Windsor, by his master, King Edward the Fourth; whose souls Jesu pardon. Amen.


Passing over Fortescue, the first prose-writer who mingled just and striking thought with his language, and was entitled to the appellation of a man of genius, was unquestionably the celebrated chancellor of Henry VIII., SIR THOMAS MORE (1480-1535). Born the son of a judge of the King's Bench, and educated at Oxford, More entered life with all external advantages, and soon reached a distinguished situation in the law and in state employments. He was appointed Lord Chancellor in 1529, being the first layman who ever held the office. At all periods of his life, he was a zealous professor of the Catholic faith, insomuch that he was at one time with difficulty restrained from becoming a monk. When Henry wished to divorce Catherine, he was opposed by the conscientious More, who accordingly incurred his displeasure, and perished on the scaffold. The cheerful, or rather mirthful, disposition of the learned chancellor forsook him not at the last, and he jested even when about to lay his head upon the block. The character of More was most benignant, as the letter to his wife, who was ill-tempered, written after the burning of some of his property, expressively shows, at the same time that it is a good specimen of his English prose. The domestic circle at his house in Chelsea, where the profoundly learned statesman at once paid reverence to his parents and sported with his children, has been made the subject of an interesting picture by the great artist of that age, Holbein,

The literary productions of More are partly in Also, there was no man there, but knew that his Latin and partly in English: he adopted the former arm was ever such, sith the day of his birth. Never- | language probably from taste, the latter for the pur

[merged small][merged small][ocr errors][subsumed]

a curious philosophical work under the title of Utopia, which, describing an imaginary pattern country and people, has added a word to the English language, every scheme of national improve

* The following is a specimen of Sir Thomas More's juvenile poetry :

He that hath lafte the hosier's crafte,
And fallth to makyng shone;
The smyth that shall to painting fall,
His thrift is well nigh done.

A black draper with whyte paper,

To goe to writing scole,

An old butler become a cutler

I wene shall prove a fole.

And an old trot, that can God wot,
Nothing but kyss the cup,

With her physicke will kepe one sicke,
Till she hath soused hym up.

A man of law that never sawe
The wayes to buy and sell
Wenyng to ryse by merchandyse,
I pray God spede him well!
A merchaunt eke, that will go seke
By all the meanes he may,
To fall in sute till he dispute
His money cleane away;
Pletyng the lawe for every stray
Shall prove a thrifty man,

With bate and strife, but by my life
I cannot tell you whan.

Whan an hatter will smatter

In philosophy,

Or a pedlar waxe a medlar

In theology, &c.

ment founded on theoretical views being since then termed Utopian. The most of the English writings of More are pamphlets on the religious controversies of his day, and the only one which is now of value is A History of Edward V., and of his Brother, and of Richard III., which Mr Hallam considers as the first English prose work free of vulgarisms and pedantry.

The intention of Sir Thomas More in his Utopia is to set forth his idea of those social arrangements whereby the happiness and improvement of the people may be secured to the utmost extent of which human nature is susceptible; though, probably, he has pictured more than he really conceived it possible to effect. Experience proves that many of his suggestions are indeed Utopian. In his imaginary island, for instance, all are contented with the necessaries of life; all are employed in useful labour; no man desires, in clothing, any other quality besides durability; and since wants are few, and every individual engages in labour, there is no need for working more than six hours a-day. Neither laziness nor avarice finds a place in this happy region; for why should the people be indolent when they have so little toil, or greedy when they know that there is abundance for each? All this, it is evident, is incompatible with qualities inherent in human nature: man requires the stimulus of self-interest to render him industrious and persevering; he loves not utility merely, but ornament; he possesses a spirit of emulation which makes him endeavour to outstrip his fellows, and a desire to accumulate property even for its own sake. With much that is Utopian, however, the work contains many sound suggestions. Thus, instead of severe punishment of theft, the author would improve the morals and condition of the people, so as to take away the temptation to crime; for, says he, if you suffer your people to be illeducated, and their manners to be corrupted from their infancy, and then punish them for those crimes to which their first education disposed them, what else is to be concluded from this, but that you first make thieves, and then punish them?' In Utopia, we are told, war is never entered on but for some gross injury done to themselves, or, more especially, to their allies; and the glory of a general is in proportion, not to the number, but to the fewness of the enemies, whom he slays in gaining a victory. Criminals are generally punished with slavery, even for the greatest misdeeds, since servitude is no less terrible than death itself; and, by making slaves of malefactors, not only does the public get the benefit of their labour, but the continual sight of their misery is more effectual than their death to deter other men from crime. It is one of the oldest laws of the Utopians, that no man ought to be punished for his religion; it being a fundamental opinion among them, that a man cannot make himself believe anything he pleases; nor do they drive any to dissemble their thoughts by threatenings, so that men are not tempted to lie or disguise their opinions among them; which, being a sort of fraud, is abhorred by the Utopians.' Every man may endeavour to convert others to his views by the force of amicable and modest argument, without bitterness against those of other opinions; but whoever adds reproach and violence to persuasion, is to be condemned to banishment or slavery. Such tolerant views were extremely rare in the days of Sir Thomas More, and in later life were lamentably departed from by himself in practice; for in persecuting the Protestants, he displayed a degree of intolerance and severity which were strangely at variance both with the opinions of his youth and the general mildness of his disposition.


[Letter to Lady More.]

[Returning from the negotiations at Cambray, Sir Thomas More heard that his barns and some of those of his neighbours had been burnt down; he consequently wrote the following letter to his wife. Its gentleness to a sour-tempered woman, and the benevolent feelings expressed about the property of his neighbours, have been much admired.]

Mistress Alice, in my most heartywise I recommend me to you. And whereas I am informed by my son Heron of the loss of our barns and our neighbours' also, with all the corn that was therein; albeit (saving God's pleasure) it is great pity of so much good corn lost; yet since it has liked him to send us such a chance, we must and are bounden, not only to be content, but also to be glad of his visitation. He sent us all that we have lost; and since he hath by such a chance taken it away again, his pleasure be fulfilled! Let us never grudge thereat, but take it in good worth, and heartily thank him, as well for adversity as for prosperity. And peradventure we have more cause to thank him for our loss than for our winning, for his wisdom better seeth what is good for us than we do ourselves. Therefore, I pray you be of good cheer, and take all the household with you to church, and there thank God, both for that he has given us, and for that he has taken from us, and for that he hath left us; which, if it please him, he can increase when he will, and if it please him to leave us yet less, at his pleasure be it!

hatred report above the truth, or else that nature changed her course in his beginning, which, in the course of his life, many things unnaturally committed.)

None evil captain was he in the war, as to which his disposition was more meetly than for peace. Sundry victories had he, and sometime overthrows, but never in default for his own person, either of hardiness or politic order. Free was he called of dispense, and somewhat above his power liberal. With large gifts he get him unsteadfast friendship, for which he was fain to pil and spoil in other places, and get him stedfast hatred. He was close and secret a deep dissimuler, lowly of countenance, arrogant of heart; outwardly coumpinable where he inwardly hated, not letting to kiss whom he thought to kill; dispitious and cruel, not for evil will alway, but oftener for ambition, and either for the surety and increase of his estate. Friend and foe was indifferent, where his advantage grew; he spared no man's death whose life withstood his purpose. He slew with his own hands king Henry VI., being prisoner in the Tower.

[The Utopian Idea of Pleasure.]

(From Bishop Burnet's translation of the Utopia.) They think it is an evidence of true wisdom for a man to pursue his own advantages as far as the laws I pray you to make some good on search what my allow it. They account it piety to prefer the public poor neighbours have lost, and bid them take no good to one's private concerns. But they think it thought therefore; for, if I should not leave myself a unjust for a man to seek for his own pleasure, by spoon, there shall no poor neighbour of mine bear no snatching another man's pleasures from him. And, loss by my chance, happened in my house. I pray on the contrary, they think it a sign of a gentle and you be, with my children and your household, merry good soul, for a man to dispense with his own advanin God; and devise somewhat with your friends what tage for the good of others; and that, by so doing, a way were best to take, for provision to be made for good man finds as much pleasure one way as he parts corn for our household, and for seed this year coming, with another; for, as he may expect the like from if we think it good that we keep the ground still in others when he may come to need it, so, if that should our hands. And whether we think it good that we fail him, yet the sense of a good action, and the reso shall do or not, yet I think it were not best sud-flections that one makes on the love and gratitude of denly thus to leave it all up, and to put away our folk from our farm, till we have somewhat advised us thereon. Howbeit, if we have more now than ye shall need, and which can get them other masters, ye may then discharge us of them. But I would not that any man were suddenly sent away, he wot not whither.

At my coming hither, I perceived none other but that I should tarry still with the king's grace. But now I shall, I think, because of this chance, get leave this next week to come home and see you, and then shall we farther devise together upon all things, what

order shall be best to take.

And thus as heartily fare you well, with all our children, as ye can wish. At Woodstock, the third day of September, by the hand of THOMAS MORE.

[Character of Richard III.]

those whom he has so obliged, gives the mind more pleasure than the body could have found in that from which it had restrained itself. They are also persuaded that God will make up the loss of those small pleasures with a vast and endless joy, of which religion does easily convince a good soul. Thus, upon an inquiry into the whole matter, they reckon that all our actions, and even all our virtues, terminate in pleasure, as in our chief end and greatest happiness; and they call every motion or state, either of body or mind, in which nature teaches us to delight, a pleasure. And thus they cautiously limit pleasure only to those appetites to which nature leads us; for they reckon that nature leads us only to those delights to which reason as well as sense carries us, and by which we neither injure any other person, nor let go greater pleasures for it, and which do not draw troubles on us after them; but they look upon those delights which

[Sir Thomas's account of Richard III. has been followed by men, by a foolish though common mistake, call plea


Richard, the third son, of whom we now entreat, was in wit and courage egal1 with either of them; in body and prowess, far under them both; little of stature, ill-featured of limbs, crook-backed, his left shoulder much higher than his right, hard-favoured of visage. He was malicious, wrathful, envious, and from afore his birth ever froward. It is for truth reported, that the duchess his mother had so much ado in her travail, that she could not be delivered of him uncut; and that he came into the world with the feet forward, as men be borne outward; and (as the fame runneth) also not untoothed (whether men of

1 Equal.

sure, as if they could change the nature of things, as not advance our happiness, but do rather obstruct it well as the use of words, as things that not only do minds of those that once go into them with a false very much, because they do so entirely possess the notion of pleasure, that there is no room left for truer and purer pleasures.

nothing that is truly delighting: on the contrary, There are many things that in themselves have they have a good deal of bitterness in them; and yet not only ranked among the pleasures, but are made by our perverse appetites after forbidden objects, are even the greatest designs of life. Among those who pursue these sophisticated pleasures, they reckon those whom I mentioned before, who think themselves

really the better for having fine clothes, in which they think they are doubly mistaken, both in the opinion that they have of their clothes, and in the opinion that they have of themselves; for if you consider the use of clothes, why should a fine thread be thought better than a coarse one? And yet that sort of men, as if they had some real advantages beyond others, and did not owe it wholly to their mistakes, look big, and seem to fancy themselves to be the more valuable on that account, and imagine that a respect is due to them for the sake of a rich garment, to which they would not have pretended if they had been more meanly clothed; and they resent it as an affront, if that respect is not paid them. It is also a great folly to be taken with these outward marks of respect, which signify nothing; for what true or real pleasure can one find in this, that another man stands bare, or makes legs to him? Will the bending another man's thighs give you any ease? And will his head's being bare cure the madness of yours? And yet it is wonderful to see how this false notion of pleasure bewitches many, who delight themselves with the fancy of their nobility, and are pleased with this conceit, that they are descended from ancestors who have been held for some successions rich, and that they have had great possessions; for this is all that makes nobility at present; yet they do not think themselves a whit the less noble, though their immediate parents have left none of this wealth to them; or though they themselves have squandered it all away. The Utopians have no better opinion of those who are much taken with gems and precious stones, and who account it a degree of happiness next to a divine one, if they can purchase one that is very extraordinary, especially if it be of that sort of stones that is then in greatest request; for the same sort is not at all times of the same value with all sorts of people; nor will men buy it, unless it be dismounted and taken out of the gold. And then the jeweller is made to give good security, and required solemnly to swear that the stone is true, that by such an exact caution, a false one may not be bought instead of a true; whereas if you were to examine it, your eye could find no difference between that which is counterfeit and that which is true; so that they are all one to you, as much as if you were blind. And can it be thought that they who heap up an useless mass of wealth, not for any use that it is to bring them, but merely to please themselves with the contemplation of it, enjoy any true pleasure in it? The delight they find is only a false shadow of joy. Those are no better whose error is somewhat different from the former, and who hide it, out of the fear of losing it; for what other name can fit the hiding it in the earth, or rather the restoring it to it again, it being thus cut off from being useful, either to its owner or to the rest of mankind? And yet the owner having hid it carefully, is glad, because he thinks he is now sure of it. And in case one should come to steal it, the owner, though he might live perhaps ten years after that, would all that while after the theft, of which he knew nothing, find no difference between his having it or losing it, for both ways it was equally useless to him.

Among those foolish pursuers of pleasure, they reckon all those that delight in hunting, or birding or gaming of whose madness they have only heard, for they have no such things among them.

* *

Thus though the rabble of mankind looks upon these, and all other things of this kind which are indeed innumerable, as pleasures; the Utopians, on the contrary, observing that there is nothing in the nature of them that is truly pleasant, conclude that they are not to be reckoned among pleasures. For though these things may create some tickling in the senses (which seems to be a true notion of pleasure), yet they reckon that this does not arise from the thing itself, but

from a depraved custom, which may so vitiate a man's taste, that bitter things may pass for sweet; as pregnant women think pitch or tallow tastes sweeter than honey; but as a man's sense when corrupted, either by a disease or some ill habit, does not change the nature of other things, so neither can it change the nature of pleasure.

They reckon up several sorts of these pleasures, which they call true ones; some belong to the body, and others to the mind. The pleasures of the mind lie in knowledge, and in that delight which the contemplation of truth carries with it; to which they add the joyful reflections on a well-spent life, and the assured hopes of a future happiness. They divide the pleasures of the body into two sorts; the one is that which gives our senses some real delight, and is performed, either by the recruiting of nature, and supplying those parts on which the internal heat of life feeds; and that is done by eating or drinking: Or when nature is eased of any surcharge that oppresses it. There is another kind of this sort of pleasure, that neither gives us anything that our bodies require, nor frees us from anything with which we are overcharged; and yet it excites our senses by a secret unseen virtue, and by a generous impression, it so tickles and affects them, that it turns them inwardly upon themselves; and this is the pleasure begot by music.

Another sort of bodily pleasure is, that which consists in a quiet and good constitution of body, by which there is an entire healthiness spread over all the parts of the body not allayed with any disease. This, when it is free from all mixture of pain, gives an inward pleasure of itself, even though it should not be excited by any external and delighting object; and although this pleasure does not so vigorously affect the sense, nor act so strongly upon it, yet, as it is the greatest of all pleasures, so almost all the Utopians reckon it the foundation and basis of all the other joys of life; since this alone makes one's state of life to be easy and desirable; and when this is wanting, a man is really capable of no other pleasure. They look upon indolence and freedom from pain, if it does not rise from a perfect health, to be a state of stupidity rather than of pleasure. There has been a controversy in this matter very narrowly canvassed among them; whether a firm and entire health could be called a pleasure or not? Some have thought that there was no pleasure but that which was excited by some sensible motion in the body. But this opinion has been long ago run down among them, so that now they do almost all agree in this, That health is the greatest of all bodily pleasures; and that, as there is a pain in sickness, which is as opposite in its nature to pleasure, as sickness itself is to health, so they hold that health carries a pleasure along with it. And if any should say that sickness is not really a pain, but that it only carries a pain along with, they look upon that as a fetch of subtility that does not much alter the matter. So they think it is all one, whether it be said, that health is in itself a pleasure, or that it begets a pleasure, as fire gives heat; so it be granted, that all those whose health is entire have a true pleasure in it: and they reason thus. What is the pleasure of eating, but that a man's health which had been weakened, does, with the assistance of food, drive away hunger, and so recruiting itself, recovers its former vigour? And being thus refreshed, it finds a pleasure in that conflict. And if the conflict is pleasure, the victory must yet breed a greater pleasure, except we will fancy that it becomes stupid as soon as it has obtained that which it pursued, and so does neither know nor rejoice in its own welfare. If it is said that health cannot be felt, they absolutely deny that; for what man is in health that does not perceive it when he is awake? Is there any man that is so dull and

stupid, as not to acknowledge that he feels a delight in health? And what is delight but another name for pleasure?

infinitely beneath him in intellect, was ALEXANDER BARCLAY, a clergyman of England, but supposed to have been a native of Scotland. Besides a curious

work in prose and verse, entitled, The Ship of Fooles, (1509), in which is described a great variety of human absurdities, he translated many Latin and other books, including Sallust's History of the Jugurthine war, which was among the earliest English versions of classical authors produced in England.


But of all pleasures, they esteem those to be the most valuable that lie in the mind; and the chief of these are those that arise out of true virtue, and the witness of a good conscience. They account health the chief pleasure that belongs to the body; for they think that the pleasure of eating and drinking, and all the other delights of the body, are only so far desirable as they give or maintain health. But they are not pleasant in themselves, otherwise than as they resist those impressions that our natural infirmity is FISCHER, BISHOP OF ROCHESTER, (1459-1535), still making upon us; and, as a wise man desires was chiefly distinguished in his lifetime by pamphrather to avoid diseases than to take physic, and to lets in Latin against the Lutheran doctrines: these be freed from pain rather than to fndase by reme- have long been in oblivion, but his name still calls dies, so it were a more desirable stat to need this for a place in our literary history, as one of the sort of pleasure, than to be obliged to indulge it. And fathers of English prose. He was a steadfast adif any man imagines that there is a real happiness in herent of the church of Rome, and his name is tarthis pleasure, he must then confess that he would be nished with some severities to the reforming party; the happiest of all men, if he were to lead his life in but we have the testimony of Erasmus, confirmed a perpetual hunger, thirst, and itching, and by conse-by the acts of his life, that he possessed many of the quence in perpetual eating, drinking, and scratching best points of human character. He steadily refused himself, which, any one may easily see, would be not translation to a more valuable bishopric, and he only a base but a miserable state of life. These are, finally laid down his life, along with Sir Thomas indeed, the lowest of pleasures, and the least pure; More, in a conscientious adherence to the principle for we can never relish them but when they are mixed of the validity of the nuptials of Queen Catherine. with the contrary pains. The pain of hunger must give us the pleasure of eating; and here the pain outbalances the pleasure; and, as the pain is more vehement, so it lasts much longer; for, as it is upon us before the pleasure comes, so it does not cease, but with the pleasure that extinguishes it, and that goes off with it; so that they think none of those pleasures are, to be valued, but as they are necessary. Yet they rejoice in them, and with due gratitude acknowledge the tenderness of the great author of nature, who has planted in us appetites, by which those things that are necessary for our preservation are likewise made pleasant to us. For how miserable a thing would life be, if those daily diseases of hunger and thirst were to be carried off by such bitter drugs, as we must use for those diseases that return seldomer upon us! And thus these pleasant, as well as proper gifts of nature, do maintain the strength and the sprightliness of our bodies.

They do also entertain themselves with the other delights that they let in at their eyes, their ears, and their nostrils, as the pleasant relishes and seasonings of life, which nature seems to have marked out peculiarly for man; since no other sort of animals contemplates the figure and beauty of the universe, nor is delighted with smells, but as they distinguish meats by them; nor do they apprehend the concords or discords of sounds; yet in all pleasures whatsoever, they observe this temper, that a lesser joy may not hinder a greater, and that pleasure may never breed pain, which they think does always follow dishonest pleasures. But they think it a madness for a man to wear out the beauty of his face, or the force of his natural strength, and to corrupt the sprightliness of his body by sloth and laziness, or to waste his body by fasting, and so to weaken the strength of his constitution, and reject the other delights of life; unless, by renouncing his own satisfaction, he can either serve the public, or promote the happiness of others, for which he expects a greater recompense from God; so that they look on such a course of life, as a mark of a mind that is both cruel to itself, and ingrateful to the author of nature, as if we would not be beholden to him for his favours, and therefore would reject all his blessings, and should afflict himself for the empty shadow of virtue; or for no better end than to render himself capable to bear those misfortunes which possibly will never happen.

Contemporary with Sir Thomas More, though

While in the Tower on account of that assumed
sistency by the gift of a cardinal's hat; which drew
offence, the pope acknowledged his worth and con-
send him a hat when he will; mother of God! he
from Henry the brutal remark, Well, let the pope
shall wear it on his shoulders then, for I will leave
him never a head to set it on! The English writ-
ings of Bishop Fischer consist of sermons and a
few small tracts on pious subjects, printed in one
One of the sermons
volume at Wurzburg in 1595.
was a funeral one, preached in 1509, in honour of the
Countess of Richmond (mother of Henry VII.),
whose chaplain he had been. In it he presents a
remarkable portraiture of a pious lady of rank of that
age, with a curious detail of the habits then thought
essential to a religious gentlewoman.

[Character and Habits of the Countess of Richmond.]

[In allusion to Martha, the subject of the text,] First, I say, the comparison of them two may be made in four things; in nobleness of person; in discipline of their bodies; in ordering of their souls to God; in hospitalities keeping and charitable dealing to their neighbours. In which four, the noble woman Martha (as say the doctors, entreating this gospel and her life) was singularly to be commended and praised; wherefore let us consider likewise, whether in this noble countess may any thing like be found.

First, the blessed Martha was a woman of noble blood, to whom by inheritance belonged the castle of Bethany; and this nobleness of blood they have which descended of noble lineage. Beside this, there is a nobleness of manners, withouten which the nobleness of blood is much defaced; for as Boethius saith, If ought be good in the nobleness of blood, it is for that thereby the noble men and women should be ashamed to go out of kind, from the virtuous manners of their ancestry before. Yet also there is another nobleness which ariseth in every person, by the goodness of nature, whereby full often such as come of right poor and unnoble father and mother, have great abilities of nature to noble deeds. Above all the same there is a four manner of nobleness, which may be called an encreased nobleness; as, by marriage and affinity of more noble persons, such as were of less condition may increase in higher degree of nobleness.

In every of these I suppose this countess was noble.

« ForrigeFortsæt »