페이지 이미지
PDF
ePub

and it were possible, as I know it is not: and thus, remaining in a steadfast hope, I make an end of my letter, written with the hand of her that is most bound to be,

Your humble servant,

ANNE BOLEYN.

POSTSCRIPT BY KING HENRY VIII. THE writer of this letter would not cease till she had caused me likewise to set my hand, desiring you, though it be short, to take in good part. I assure you there is neither of us but that greatly desire to see you, so much more joyous to hear that you have escaped this plague so well, trust. ing the fury thereof to be passing, especially with them that keep a good diet, as I trust you do. The not hearing of the legate's arrival in France, causeth us somewhat to muse, notwithstanding we trust by your diligence and vigilancy, with the assistance of Almighty God, shortly to be eased out of that trouble. No more to you at this time, but that I pray God send you as good health and prosperity as the writer would, By your loving sovereign and friend,

HENRY R.

SIR THOMAS MORE TO MR. GUNNEL,

HIS CHILDREN'S TUTOR. I HAVE received, my dear Gunnel, your letters, full, as usual, of elegance and affection. Your love of my children I see by your letters, your diligence I gather from their own; for each of their letters pleased me. But especially was I delighted that Elizabeth behaved herself with a decency of demeanor in my absence, which few children observe in tbe presence of their parents. Give her to understand, that the circumstance gratified me more than could all the learning in the world. For I prefer the learning which is united with virtue to all the treasures of kings; and if we separate from it propriety of conduct, what more doth the fame of letters bring us than a kind of infamy in notoriety? This applies peculiarly to the female sex. Their proficiency in literature being something new, and a kind of reproach to the sluggishness of men, most men will be ready to attack them, and to expend their natural malice upon their learning. Nay, they will call their own ignorance a virtue, when compared with the faults of these learned. On the other hand, if a woman (which I wish may be the case with all my girls, and in which I have the greatest confidence under your auspices) to high excellence of character unites even a moderate portion of learning, I deem her possessed of more real good than if she had the wealth of Croesus and the beauty of Helen.

And this not for the sake of fame, although fame pursues worth as the shadow the body : but because the reward of wisdom is more substantial than to be borne away on the wings of riches, or to fade with beauty; as it places its dependence on rectitude of conscience, not on the tongues of others, which abound in folly and evil. For as the avoiding of infamy is the duty of a good man, so the laying himself out for fame is the part not only of a proud, but also of a ridiculous and con

VOL. V.

temptible one ; since that mind must of necessity be ill at ease, which ever fluctuates between joy and sadness from the opinions of others. Of the great benefits, however, which learning confers upon man, I really deem none preferable to the instruction which letters afford us, that in the attainment of them we regard not the reputation they bring us, but their utility. Which precept, although some have abused their learning, like other good possessions, by hunting only for vain glory and popular fame, yet has it been delivered by all the most learned, and especially by the philosophers, those moderators of human life.

I have enlarged the more on this subject of 1 vain glory, my Gonellus, because of the expression in your letter, that you think the elevated cast of my daughter Margaret's mind ought not to be lowered. I agree with you in this opinion. But in my mind, and I doubt not in yours also, he seems to lower the noble disposition of his mind, who accustoms himself to admire what is vain and base. And he, on the other hand, to elevate it, who esteems virtue and true good; who, by contemplating sublime objects, looks down as from on bigh, with disregard on these shadows of good, which almost every one in ignorance greedily catches at for the substance.

As this seemed to me the best way, I have requested not only you, my dear Gonellus, whose strong love to all mine would have led you, I know, to have done so of your own accord ; or my wife, to whom (as I have often witnessed) her true maternal piety is a sufficient impulse, but frequently almost all my friends also, to admonish

my children, that avoiding the precipices of pride, they walk in the pleasant meads of modesty ; that the sight of riches overcome them not; that they sigh not for the want of them in themselves, which is erroneously admired by others; that they think no better of themselves for being well dressed, por worse for being otherwise ; that they spoil not the beauty which nature gave them by neglect, nor endeavour to increase it by vile arts; that they esteem virtue the first and letters the second good; and that of these they deem those the best which can best teach them piety to God, charity to man, modesty and christian humility in their own deportment.

Thus shall they receive from the Almighty the reward of an innocent life, in the certain expectation of which they shall not fear death ; and feeling true joy in this life, be neither puffed up with the vain praises of men, nor broken down by their malice. These I regard as the true and genuine fruits of learning; which, though they be not put forth by all the learned, yet, whoever studies with this view, I maintain may produce them in the highest perfection.

It matters not to the crop, whether man or woman sowed it; and if the name “ Man," whose reason distinguishes his nature from the brute, applies to both sexes, I say science, by which that reason is cultivated, and like a field bears good corn under due tillage, equally becomes either. But if the soil in women be bad by nature, and more productive of weeds than corn (by which opinion many deter the sex from letters), I, on the other hand, think that female genius ought on that very account to be the more diligently cultivated by letters and good discipline; in order that the evil of nature may, by industry, be corrected. So thought those wise and holy men, the Fathers : of whom, to omit the rest, Jerome and Augustine not only exhorted ladies of the highest rank and worth to the acquisition of letters, but, that they might the more easily accomplish it, diligently expounding to them abstruse passages in Scripture, and wrote long letters to young maidens with so much erudition that old men of our day and professors of divinity can scarcely read, so far are they from understanding them. Which works of holy men, my learned Gonellus, you will of your goodness take

may best know the scope which their learning ought to aim at; and they will teach them to esteem the consent of God, and a good conscience, the best fruit of their labours. Thus placid and tranquil in themselves, they will neither be elated by the praise of the flatterer, nor feel the rancour of the unlearned scoffer.

But I hear you exclaiming, that “ these precepts, though true, are too hard for the tender age of my children ; for who is there, however old or learned, with a mind so strong and well poised, that he has not the smallest inclination for glory?” My friend, the more difficult I see it to shake off this pest of pride, the more endeavour do I deem necessary, even from infancy. Nor is there any other cause, in my opinion, why this unavoidable evil sticks so fast in our breasts than that because almost as soon as we are born it

« 이전계속 »