« PreviousContinue »
ladies of high rank who professed the Protestant faith. In the synopsis of Bishop Bale's · Examination and Elucidation' (Censura Literaria, vol. vi. p. 1), she is described as “a gentlewoman, very young, dainty, and tender.” Endeavouring to obtain a divorce from her husband, he revenged himself by instigating certain priests to procure her arrest.
It must be borne in mind that the Protestantism of King Henry VIII. consisted chiefly in the personal assumption of ecclesiastical supremacy and in the abrogation of papal privileges throughout his dominions. It was not the religious tenets of the monks, but their bold and obstinate adhesion to the papal authority, which provoked the King to the general dissolution of the monasteries ; and throughout his arbitrary reign many of the genuine doctrines of the Reformation were publicly repudiated as heresy. In 1539, at the royal suggestion, an Act was passed attaching the penalty of death by burning or hanging to the denial of transubstantiation, to the assertion of the necessity of communion in both kinds, of the unlawfulness of celibacy, of the uselessness of private masses, and of auricular confession as necessary to salvation. Under this “Bloody Statute" Anne Askew was arrested and imprisoned.
Being placed upon the rack, in order to make her betray the names of persons holding similar opinions, she underwent the utmost extremity of torture with silent fortitude. Refusing to recant, she was, with three other sufferers, burned at the stake in Smithfield, July 16th, 1546. Her claims to authorship rest upon her letters and declarations of faith, which give proofs of extraordinary vigour and acuteness of mind, and upon some verses, which possess peculiar interest as the oldest metrical com
position extant which is undoubtedly known to be from the pen of an English woman.
THE BALLAD WHICH ANNE ASKEW MADE AND SUNG WHEN SHE
WAS IN NEWGATE. " Like as the armed knight
On thee my care I cast,
For all their cruel spite,
I set not by their hast,
I am not she that list
My anchor to let fall,
For every drisling mist,
My ship substantial.
Not oft use I to write
In prose nor yet in rhyme,
Yet will I show one sight
I saw a royal throne,
Where Justice should have sit, Which make me very bold
But in her stead was one
Of moody cruel wit.
Absorb'd was righteousness,
As of the raging flood;
Suck'd up the guiltless blood.
When Thou shalt judge us all, Undo, therefore, the lock,
Hard is it to record
Yet, Lord, I Thee desire
For that they do to me
Let them not taste the hire
Of their iniquity!"
QUEEN CATHERINE PARR.
Catherine Parr was the eldest daughter of Sir Thomas Parr, of Kendal, in Westinoreland. The dates of her birth and of her first marriage are obscure. Being the widow of the Hon. Edward Burgh and of John Neville Lord Latimer, about thirty-two years of age, and bearing a high character for amiability and prudence, she became the sixth wife of King Henry VIII. on the 12th of July, 1543.
Among the lands included in her royal dower was the manor of Chelsea ; and after the King's decease, which occurred on the 28th of January, 1547, she took up her abode at the new manor house which he had built there, on a site a little to the eastward of the ground on which some years afterwards stood Winchester Palace. In the course of a few weeks after King Henry's death Queen Catherine married Thomas Lord Seymour, the Lord High Admiral. She died on the 5th of September, 1548, at her fourth husband's castle of Sudely, in Gloucestershire.
It is remarkable that the woman who had successfully accommodated herself to the various tempers of three previous husbands, and had made a patient and placid wife to one of the most morose and cruel tryants in the world, should have been undisguisedly miserable in her last union with an ambitious, intriguing, and fascinating nobleman.
Probably the inconsistency may be explained by the supposition that with King Henry her indignation at illtreatment was suppressed merely by fear; while love for Lord Seymour exposed her heart to the poignant griefs of despised affection.
Historians are seldom content with assigning one sufficient cause for the premature death of any eminent person, and they have needlessly added poison to the child-bed fever which really killed Queen Catherine Parr,
She was a good Latin scholar, and wrote various letters and devotional works. Her · Lamentation of a Sinner bewailing the Ignorance of her Blind Life' was published in 1548, soon after her death. In it she acknowledges her early reliance on external performances, the observance of fasts, pilgrimages, &c.; and states that she first became acquainted with the internal and real power of religion by means of reading the Bible and praying for the Holy Spirit to make known its meaning to her soul. She also explains her sense of justification by faith and its indissoluble connection with personal holiness. Her • Prayers and Meditations are still often reprinted and largely circulated by the Religious Tract Society. Mediocrity of talent and sincere piety are characteristics of all her productions.
Portraits of her by Holbein and Vander Werff, and several engravings from them, are extant. She has the most intellectual countenance of either of King Henry's six Queens.
FRANCES LADY ABERGAVENNY. Frances Manners, according to Burke's pedigree of the Abergavenny family, was the daughter of Thomas, first Earl of Rutland; and according to Burke's pedigree of the Rutland family, the daughter of Sir Thomas Manners, third son of that earl: the latter being apparently the true paternity. She married Henry Neville, fourth Lord Abergavenny, who died February 10, 1587. Some of her prayers and verses were printed in the years 1577 and 1582. Among the latter is a curious hymn, cited by Mr. Park, in which the first letters of the lines being read downwards form the words “ Frances Abergavenny.” The sentiment is devout, and the versification not inferior to that of many other pieces of the time, but this acrostic is utterly devoid of literary merit.
Remarks on the period -- The Lady Jane Grey — Mary Countess of
Arundel — Queen Mary Tudor — Mary Roper — Mary Countess of Sussex and Arundel — The Ladies Anne, Margaret, and Jane Seymour - Lady Lumley - Queen Mary Stuart - The four daugh'ers of Sir Anthony Cooke — Anne Countess of Oxford — Margaret Ascham Anne Wheathill – Frances Countess of Sussex.
“ Heaven doth with us as we with torches do,
Not light them for themselves ; for if our virtues
SHAKSPEARE's Measure for Measure, act i., scene 1.
WARTON, in a note to the 58th section of his . History of English Poetry, brings various authorities to prove that in the latter part of the sixteenth century female writers of poetry had become numerous, and among them he quotes Puttenham, who, in his · Art of Poesy,' says, “ Dark word or doubtful speech are not so narrowly to be looked upon in a large poem, nor specially in the pretty poesies and devices of ladies and gentlewoman-makers, whom we would not have too precise poets, lest, with their shrewd wits, when they were married they might become a little too fantastical wives.”
The diffusion of the Bible in the language of the people had familiarized educated Englishwomen with the triumphant odes of Deborah and Miriam, and with the eucha