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sober wisdom may hallow as well as pervert the virtues of the heart. If the daughters of Eve, therefore, have in times past shown themselves most prone to the “evil” of the "tree of knowledge,” it is the privilege of a modern encomiast to say, that it is beginning to be intrusted to them with full assurance that they will use it for the “ good.” If the prejudices of other times doomed the youth of females to be worn away in the study of those “ dispatchful looks” and 6 submissive charms,” which made up the idea of "household good,”-than which
" to know no more
the enlightened liberality of the present age is educating her to a communion of tastes, sentiments, and sympathies with the other sex : a union as much more exalted and abiding, as the sentiment of love is above passion, or intellectual pleasures more lasting than personal charms.
The boast may not be wholly confined to modern times. There are examples on record, and eminent examples, of the sex breaking over the boundaries of custom and prejudice, and attaining feats of mind that should long since have dislodged reproach; and proved that what has seemed a dis. tinction in intellectual power, has been more a difference of privilege. The memoirs of a Lady Jane Grey, a Lady Russell, a Mrs. Trimmer, a Mrs. Carter, and others, present instances of great strength of understanding, united to feminine virtue, and sanctified, withal, by piety, which form not only a vindication of the dignity of the sex, but one of the proud boasts of their country. History brings down to us facts concerning the former of these—if we remember that she was immolated to a cold and pitiless ambition at the tender age of eighteen, in all her youth, and beauty, and innocence—which place her well nigh without a parallel in either sex.
Lady Jane Grey, says her biographer, very early in
life gave astonishing proofs of the greatness of her mind. Though there was very little difference in age between her and King Edward the Sixth, who was thought almost a miracle, 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 great virtues; and, as Bishop Burnell says of her, “She was the wonder and delight of all who knew her.” Female accomplishments were not improbably the first part of her education. Her genius appeared in the performances of her needle, and in the beautiful characters 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. He had two chaplains, Harding and Aylmer, both eminent for their literature, whom he employed as tutors to his daughter. Under these instructers she made a most extraordinary pro. ficiency. 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. She was also versed in Hebrew, Chal. dee, and Arabic, and all this when she was in a manner a child in age.* Roger Ascham, tutor to the lady Elizabeth, gives in a letter the following account of one of the visits which it was his pleasure to make her.
“Before I went into Germany,” says he, “I came to Broadgate in Leicestershire, to take my leave of that noble
lady, Jane Grey, to whom I was exceeding much beholden. Her parents, the duke and duchess, with all the household, gentlemen and gentlewomen, were hunting in the park. I found her in her chamber reading Phædo Platonis in Greek, and that with as much delight, as some gentlemen would read a merry tale in Boccace. After salutation and duty done, with some other talk, I asked her why she should lose such pastime in the park? Smiling, she answered me: I wist all their sport in the park is but a shadow to that pleasure I find in Plato.
Alas! good folk, they never felt what true pleasure meant.' Her heart, full of this passion for literature, and the elegant arts, and of tenderness towards her husband, who was deserving of her affections, had never opened itself to the flattering allurements of ambition; and the intelligence of her elevation to the throne was no wise agreeable to her. She even refused to accept of the present; pleaded the preferable title of the two princesses; expressed her dread of the consequences attending an enterprise so dangerous, not to say so criminal, and desired to remain in the private station in which she was born.
A rare specimen of moral fortitude and tried piety is presented in her conduct immediately preceding her own and her husband's execution. She is said to have confronted with great presence of mind and ability the Romish priests sent to her prison by the bigoted Mary, harassing her last hours with their disputations : and wrote at the same time a letter to her sister in the Greek language, accompanying a copy of the Scriptures in that tongue, exhorting her to a like steady perseverance. She had the firmness, on the day of her execution, to decline an interview solicited by her hus. band, whom she tenderly loved, informing him by message, that the tenderness of their parting would overcome the fortitude of both, and too much unbend their minds from the constancy which their approaching end required of them; their separation, she said, would be only for a moment; and they would soon rejoin each other in a scene, where their affec.
tions would be for ever united, and where death, disappointments, and misfortunes could no longer have access to them, or disturb their eternal felicity.*
With what a ready accord, and in what full measure, has posterity responded to the trust placed in them by this
pure and gentle victim, in one of the sentences which she is said to have left written upon her table-book in Latin, Greek and English–“ If my fault deserved punishment, my youth at least and my imprudence were worthy of excuse. God and posterity will show me favour.” There is reason and pleasure in the belief that she is now verifying in heaven the truth of another, prompted at seeing her husband's dead body borne back from execution-“If his slain body shall give testimony against me before men, his most blessed soul shall render eternal proof of my innocence in the presence of God.”
ON THE NATURE AND END OF MARRIAGE, AND THE MEANS
BY WHICH TIIAT END IS TO BE OBTAINED.
Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall
cleave unto his wife.”
It may be asserted to the honour of marriage, that it has few adversaries among men either distinguished for their abilities, or eminent for their virtue. Those who have as. sumed the province of attacking it, of overturning the constitution of the world, of encountering the authority of the wisest legislators from whom it has received the highest sanction of human wisdom; and subverting the maxim of the most flourishing states, in which it has been dignified with honours, and promoted with immunities; those who have undertaken the task of contending with reason and expe. rience, with earth and heaven, are men who seem generally not selected by nature for great attempts, or difficult un. dertakings. They are, for the most part, such as owe not their determinations to their arguments, but their arguments to their determinations ; disputants heated, not with zeal for the right, but with the rage of licentiousness and impatience of restraint. And perhaps to the sober, the understanding, and the pious, it may be sufficient to remark, that marriage and religion have the same enemies.
That an institution designed only for the promotion of happiness, and for the relief of the disappointments, anxieties, and distresses to which we are subject in our present state, does not always produce the effects for which it was appointed; that it sometimes condenses the gloom which it was in. tended to dispel, and increases the weight which was expect.