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forborne ; and of many why should not Ascham happen to be one? He seems to have been calm and prudent, and content with that peace which he was suffered to enjoy; a mode of behaviour that seldom fails to produce security. He had been abroad in the last years of King Edward, and had at least given no recent offence. He was certainly, according to his own opinion, not much in danger; for in the next year he resigned his fellowship, which by Gardiner's favour had continued to hold, though not resident; and married Margaret Howe, a young gentlewoman of a good family. *
He was distinguished in this reign by the notice of Cardinal Pole, a man of great candour, learning, and gentleness of manners, and particularly eminent for his skill in Latin, who thought highly of Ascham's style; of which it is no inconsiderable proof, that when Pole was desirous of communicating a speech made by himself as legate, in parliament, to the Pope, he employed Ascham to translate it.
He is said to have been not only protected by the officers of state, but favoured and countenanced by
* This marriage probably added nothing to his fortune; and, if we may conjecture from the affecting letter to Sir William Cecil (now first published) at the end of this volume, tended subsequently to involve him in difficulties, from his readiness to assist his wife's family, left destitute by the death of her father. Part of the letter appears to be lost; but from the expressions of gratitude which Ascham there makes use of, and similar ones in his widow's dedication of the Schoolmaster, Cecil appears to have patronized him while living, and to have been a principal benefactor to his family after his death. Ed.
the Queen herself; so that he had no reason of plaint in that reign of turbulence and persecution was his fortune much mended, when in 1558 his Elizabeth mounted the throne. He was continue his former employment, with the same stipend : though he was daily admitted to the presence of Queen, assisted her private studies, and partook o diversions; sometimes read to her in the learned guages, and sometimes played with her at drau and chess; he added nothing to his twenty pou a-year but the prebend of Westwang in the churc) York, which was given him the year following.* fortune was therefore not proportionate to the r which his offices and reputation gave him, or to favour in which he seemed to stand with his mistr Of this parsimonious allotment it is again a hopel search to enquire the reason.
The Queen was naturally bountiful, and perhaps did not think it nec sary to distinguish by any prodigality of kindness man who had formerly deserted her, and whom s
* This would appear to admit of some qualification, from the follow passage in his dedication to Queen Elizabeth, written in 1566: “A therefore, moved by good will as your true servant, and carried by dy as a faithful subject, and bound by many benefits of your most bounti goodness towards me, and especially because it pleased your Highn this last year, not only by your letters and commandment to t Court of the Exchequer, but also by your own present talk with n Lord Archbishop of York, clearly to deliver me, first, from the mise of those long, careful, and costly troubles of the law; and after, fro the injury that some would have offered me, in surprising your Ma jesty's benefit from me; I thought good to offer to your highness th book," &c. p. 178.-Ed.
might still suspect of serving rather for interest than affection. Graunt exerts his rhetorical powers in praise of Ascham's disinterestedness and contempt of money; and declares, that though he was often reproached by his friends with neglect of his own interest, he never would ask any thing, and inflexibly refused all presents which his office or imagined interest induced any to offer him. Camden, however, imputes the narrowness of his condition to his love of dice and cock-fights ;* and Graunt, forgetting himself, allows that Ascham was sometimes thrown into agonies by disappointed expectations. It may easily be
* “ It has been questioned whether Ascham was really addicted to cock-fighting; but the following passage in his Schoolmaster, seems to be a sufficient evidence of his attachment to that diversion. • But of all kind of pastimes fit for a gentleman,' &c. (See the passage at p. 231, of this edition). It cannot reasonably be supposed that Ascham would have thought of writing on this subject, if he had not been addicted to cock-fighting, and it is perhaps a circumstance favourable to his memory that he did not execute his intended work." Dr. Campbell in Biog. Brit.-With regard to the other part of the charge, viz. the love of dice (which rests on the high authority of Camden), if the testimony of his own works can be admitted as evidence, nothing was ever more unjust or unfounded. may honestly gather that I hate them greatly, in that I speak against them; not that I have used them greatly in that I speak of them.” ToxOPHILUS, p. 84. It would be difficult, in the whole compass of English literature, to point out a more lively and forcible picture of the vice of gaming, and of the destructive consequences which an indulgence of it produces, than that which this work exhibits (p. 79-84). If there was any foundation for the charge, he must be admitted to have sinned both against knowledge and conviction. The whole tenor of his previous and subsequent life appears, however, to the editor, to militate in the strongest degree against its probability. ED.
“ Indeed you
discovered from his Schoolmaster, that he felt his wants, though he might neglect to supply them; and we are left to suspect, that he showed his contempt of money only by losing it at play. If this was his practice, we may excuse Elizabeth, who knew the domestic character of her servants, if she did not give much to him who was lavish of a little.
However he might fail in his æconomy, it were indecent to treat with wanton levity the memory of a man who shared his frailties with all, but whose learning or virtues few can attain, and by whose excellencies many may be improved, while himself only suffered by his faults.
In the reign of Elizabeth nothing remarkable is known to have befallen him, except that, in 1563, he was invited by Sir Edward Sackville to write the Schoolmaster, a treatise on education, upon an occasion which he relates in the beginning of the book. This work, though begun with alacrity, in hopes of a considerahle reward, was interrupted by the death of the patron, and afterwards sorrowfully and slowly finished, in the gloom of disappointment, under the pressure of distress. But of the author's disinclination or dejection there can be found no tokens in the work, which is conceived with great vigour, and finished with great accuracy; and perhaps contains the best advice that was ever given for the study of languages.
This treatise he completed, * but did not publish; for
* " It appears from the omission of a full and distinct character of Cicero, and from one or two other circumstances, that the Schoolmaster was not quite finished when Mr. Ascham died.”-BioG. BRIT.
that poverty which in our days drives authors so hastily in such numbers to the press, in the time of Ascham, I believe, debarred them from it. The printers gave little for a copy, and, if we may believe the tale of Raleigh's history, were not forward to print what was offered them for nothing. Ascham's book therefore lay unseen in his study, and was at last dedicated to Lord Cecil by his widow.
Ascham never had a robust or vigorous body, and his excuse for so many hours of diversion was his inability to endure a long continuance of sedentary thought. In the latter part of his life he found it necessary to forbear any intense application of the mind from dinner to bed-time, and rose to read and write early in the morning. He was for some years hectically feverish ; and though he found some alleviation of his distemper, never obtained a perfect recovery of his health. The immediate cause of his last sickness was too close application to the composition of a poem, which he purposed to present to the Queen on the day of her accession. To finish this he forbore to sleep at his accustomed hours, till in December 1568 he fell sick of a kind of lingering disease, which Graunt has not named, nor accurately described. The most afflictive symptom was want of sleep, which he endeavoured to obtain by the motion of a cradle. Growing every day weaker, he found it vain to contend with his distemper, and prepared to die with the resignation and piety of a true Christian. He was attended on his death-bed by Gravet vicar of St. Sepulchre, and Dr. Nowell, the learned dean of St. Paul's, who gave am