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MR. ROGER ASCHAM,
Transcribed by the Reverend Mr. Thomas Baker, B. D. of St. John's
College, Cambridge, from the Originals, indorsed by the hand of William Lord Burghley, Lord High Treasurer in the reign of Queen Elizabeth, and formerly in the custody of the Reverend Mr. John Strype.
TO MR. EDWARD RAVEN, FELLOW OF ST. JOHN'S COLLEGE,
S. P. in Christo Jesu. Our journey out of England to Mechlin in Brabant, I wrote unto you from Cologne. Observe this to write unto me how many letters you receive from me: what day they be written, and from what place. I wrote unto you four letters; from Gravesend, † from Calais, from Antwerp, I from Cologne; § and this is the first from Augsburg.
As I wrote in my last letter, 3d Oct. we came to Mechlin. I told you at large both of the abbey with 1600 nuns, and also of the Landgrave, !| whom we saw prisoner. He is lusty, well-favoured, something like Mr. Hebilthrout in the face : hasty, inconstant; and to get himself out of prison, would fight, if the Emperor would bid him, with Turk, French, English, God, and the Devil. The Emperor perceiving his busy head without constancy, handles him thereafter : his own Germans, as it is said, being well content that he is forthcoming;
John Frederick is clean contrary, noble, courageous, constant, one in all fortunes, desired of his friends, reverenced of his foes, favoured of his Emperor, loved of all. He hath
* These letters are unskilfully transcribed, so that proper names are not always recoverable.
† 21 Sept. 1551. Roger. Aschami Epist. lib. 3. | Oct. 1. ibid.
Oct. 12. ibid. il Of Hesse. See Ascham's to Edward Raven, ubi supra, p. 212. edit. Lond. 1590.
been proffered of late, it is said, by the Emperor, that if he will subscribe to his proceedings, to go at large, to have all his dignities and honour again, and more too. His answer was from the first, one, and is still, that he will take the Emperor for his gracious sovereign lord: but to forsake God and his doctrine, he will never do, let the Emperor do with his body what he will.
At Mechlin we saw a strange bird. The Emperor doth allow it 8d. a-day. It is milk-white, greater than a swan, with a bill somewhat like a shovel, and having a throat well able to swallow, without grief or touch of crest, * a white penny-loaf of England, except your bread be bigger than your bread-master of St. John's is wont willingly to make it. The eyes are as red as fire, and, as they say, it is an hundred years old. It was wont in Maximilian's days to fly with him whithersoever he went.
4 Octob. we went to Brussels, twelve miles. In the midway is a town called Vilfort, with a notable strong hold of the Emperor's in it. Traitors and condemned persons lie there. At the town's end is a notable strong place of execution, where worthy Will. Tyndall was unworthily put to death. Ye can match Brussels in England but with London.
At afternoon I went about the town. I came to the friar Carmelites house, where Edward Billick was warden; not present there, but being then at Cologne, in another house of his, I heard their even-song: after, I desired to see the library. A friar was sent to me, and led me into it. There was not one good book but Lyra. The friar was learned, spoke Latin readily, entered into Greek, having a very good wit, and a greater desire to learning. He was gentle and honest; and being a papist, and knowing me to be a protestant, yet showed me all gentleness, and would needs give me a new book in verse, titled De Rusticitate Morum,
6 Octob. from Brussels to Louvain, twelve miles. We came hither at eleven, and went away before two; and there to feast mine eyes and ears, I was content to lose my dinner. I went straight to Mr. Branstil's house, standing against the grey-friars door. He was not at home, but was ridden to Antwerp, to have conveyed my lord ambassador to Louvain. He left word, that if he missed my lord by the way, that I in
* Touch of crest I do not understand : perhaps it may be without touch of crust, without breaking the crust.
any case should lie and use his house as my own, in his ab
His house is trim. I wrote a letter to him with his own ink and paper. He is loved of all, and regarded with the best ; nor doth not use the company of J. Clement and Rastall, who, to see a mass freely in Flanders, are content to forsake, like slaves, their country. As we entered into our inn, the vice-chancellor, with his bedels, came out of our inn, the vice-chancellor being more like in apparel and port to our priest of Hornyngshire, than to the comeliness of Mr. Dr. Parker, and the bedels more like Harry Barber and Angar, than Mr. Adams and Mr. Meyres.
I went to P. Nonnius's chamber, to have talked with him; but he was either drunken at home, or drinking abroad; for he was inaking merry, and could not be seen, as an English boy, his pupil, told me. He reads Tully's Orations at nine of the clock : at one of the clock, Theodorus Landius read (whom I heard) Ed. Sophocl. Græcè. He read that chiding place betwixt (Edipus and Creon, beginning o'x eis', &c. reading twenty-one verses. His hearers, being about eighty, did knock him out with such a noise, as I have not heard. This college is called Trilingue and Buslidianum, where he reads. If Louvain, as far as I can mark, were compared with Cambridge, Trilingue with
St. John's, or Trinity college, Theod. Landius with Mr. Car, ours do far excel. The reader, in o7, followed our pronunciation. I tarried so long at his lectures, that my lord was ridden out of the town; and as I posted after my lord, so do I now post out of Louvain to Tillemont, nine miles off.
The town is walled, and so is every town we lay in betwixt Dover and Augsburg: There I saw nuns and papists dance at a bridal. These be news to you, but old to that country, where it is lawful to that Babylonical papistry to serve Bacchus, and what unhonesty they will, so they meddle not with Christ, and his word: Nam quæ communio tenebris cum luce?
We were drawn up the Rhine by borses. The grapes grow on the brant rocks so wonderfully, that
will marvel how men dare climb up to them, and yet so plentifully, that it is not only a marvel where men be found to labour it, but also where men dwell that drink it. Seven or eight days journey ye cannot cast your sight over the compass of vines. And surely this wine of Rhine is so good and natural, so temperate, so very like itself, as can be wished for man's use.