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LADY JANE GRAY.
At the THEATRE-ROYAL in DRURY-LANE,
In the Year 1715.
NICHOLAS ROWE, Esq.
Sed frustra Leges et inania Juru tuenti
THE EDITOR'S PREFACE.
AVING given a short Memoir of the Life of Rowe in my Preface to JANE SHORE, I will employ a few pages, in this place, in giving some farther particulars of the Life of Lady Jane Gray than are to be learned from the Tragedy, and which appear necessary to correct some variations from real History which Rowe has made. For this purpose I shall have recourse principally to Dr. Gibbons Life of that Lady in his Memoirs of EmiNENTLY Pious WOMEN.
LADY JANE Gray was of a noble family. Her father was Henry Gray, marquis of Dorset, descended in a direct line from Sir Thomas Gray, a knight of the garter, lord Harrington, in right of his wife, and created marquis of Dorset by Edward the fourth, who married his mother. Her mother was Lady Frances Brandon, the eldest of the two surviving daughters of Charles Brandon, duke of Suffolk, by Mary queen dowager of France, youngest daughter of king llenry the seventh, and sister to king Henry the eighth.
Lady Jane very early in life gave astonishing proofs of the greatness of her genius, and, though there was very little difference in age between her and king Edward the sixth,* who was thought a surprising scholar, yet, in learning, she was not only equal to him, but his superior. Her person was extremely pleasing; but the beauties of her mind were still more engaging. She had great abilities, and greater virtues, and, as bishop Burnet says of her, “ She was the wonder and delight of all that knew her." +
* We cannot exactly ascertain the time of her birth. Mr. Fuller represents her as eighteen hen she suffered, and Sir Thomas Chaloner, as but very little beyond that age. If so, it is but counting back eighteen years from February 12, 1553-4, when she was beheaded, and we shall fix her birth in the latter end of the year 1535, or the beginning of the year 1536.- Mr. Foxe expressly says that there was Jirile difference in age between her and Edward the sixth, who was bora October 12, 1537.
Female accomplishments formed a part of her early education. Her genius appeared in the performances of her needle, and in the beautiful character in which she wrote. She played admirably on various instruments of music, and accompanied them with a voice exquisitely sweet in itself, and assisted by all the graces which art could bestow.
Her father, the marquis of Dorset, had himself a tincture of letters, and was a patron of learned men. Ile had two chaplains, Harding and Aylmer, both eminent for their literature, whom he employed as tutors to his daughter. Under their instructions she made a most extraordinary proficiency. She spoke and wrote her own language with peculiar accuracy; and, it is said, that the French, Italian, Latin, and especially the Greek tongues were as natural to her as her own), for she not only understood them perfectly, but wrote them with the utmost freedom; and this not in the opinion of superficial judges, but of Mr. Ascham and Dr. Aylmer, men who, in point of veracity, were as much above suspicion, as in respect of abilities they were incapable of being deceived; men, who were for their learning the wonder of their own times, and of ours; the former, famous for Roman accuracy; the latter, one of the ablest critics in those learned days. She was also versed in Hebrew, Chaldee, and Arabic, and all this when she was but a child in age. She was remarkable for a sedateness of temper, a quickness of apprehension, and a solidity of judgment, which enabled her to become the mistress not of languages only, but of sciences; therefore she thought, reasoned, and spoke upon subjects of great importance in a manner which greatly surprized even persons of the Best judgment and abilities. And yet she was in no
+ History of the Reformation, Vol. 111, p. 225, Folio Edo.
respect elated by these extraordinary endowments; but was remarkably gentle, humble, and modest in her de
Her parents, as appears from her own account, were both of them severe in their behaviour towards her; and, as she was naturally very fond of literature, that fondness was much heightened, as well by the severity of her parents, as by the gentleness of her tutor, Aylmer; and, when mortified and confounded by the unmerited chidings of her parents, she returned with double pleasure to the lessons of her learned preceptor, and sought in Demosthenes and Plato (her favourite authors) that delight which was denied her in all the other scenes of life, in which she mingled but little, and seldom with
any satisfaction. Her alliance with the crown, as well as the great favor in which the marquis of Dorset stood with Edward the sixth, necessarily brought her sometimes to court, where she received particular marks of the young king's esteem, who was nearly, as mentioned before, of the same age with herself, and who took great pleasure in her conversation. But for the most part of her time she seems to have continued at her father's seat, at Broadgate, in Leicestershire, where she was with her beloved books in the summer season of 1550, when the famous Roger Ascham, (who was two years tutor to the Princess, afterwards Queen Elizabeth,) paid her a visit, as we are informed by himself. “ Before I went into Germany," says he, “ I came to Broadgate, in Leicestershire, to
leave of that noble lady Jane Gray, to whom “ I was exceeding much beholden. Her parents, the duke “ and dutchess, with all the household, gentlemen and “ gentlewomen, were hunting in the park. I found her “ in her chamber, reading Phædo Platonis, in Greek, 66 and that with as much delight, as some gentlemen « would read a merry tale in Boccace. After salutation, 66 and duty done, with some other talk, I asked her,
why she should lose such pastime in the park ? 66 Smiling she answered me, I wist 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