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Kent and Norfolk, all the amount of qualification he required in them was, that they should be well instructed in the grammar, "and, if it may be," it was added, "such as can make a verse. As one instance of the extreme ignorance of the inferior clergy in the latter part of the sixteenth century, Warton mentions, on the authority of the episcopal register, that "in the year 1570, Horne, Bishop of Winchester, enjoined the minor canons of his cathedral to get by memory, every week, one chapter of St. Paul's Epistles in Latin; and this formidable task, almost beneath the abilities of an ordinary schoolboy, was actually repeated by some of them, before the bishop, dean, and prebendaries, at a public episcopal visitation of that church." The anecdote, at lcast, presents the bishops and minor canons of those times in a strange light. The accomplished critic we have just quoted is of opinion that the taste for Latin composition in the reign of Elizabeth had much degenerated from what it was in that of Henry VIII. The Latinity of Ascham's prose, he maintains, has no eloquence; and even Buchanan's Latin poetry, although he admits that its versification and phraseology are splendid and sonorous, he will not allow to be marked with the chaste graces and simple ornaments of the Augustan age. "One is surprised," he adds, "to find the learned Archbishop Grindal, in the statutes of a school which he founded and amply endowed (in 1583), recommending such barbarous and degenerate classics as Palingenius, Sedulius, and Prudentius, to be taught in his new foundation. These, indeed, were the classics of a reforming bishop; but the well-meaning prelate would have contributed much more to the success of his intended re
formation by directing books of better taste and less piety."*
The whole of the sixteenth century, however, will deserve the epithet of a learned age, notwithstanding the state of the schools and universities, and of what are called the learned professions, if we look either to the names of eminent scholars by which every portion of it is adorned, or to the extent to which the study of the learned languages then entered into the education of all persons, women as well as men, who were considered to be well educated. In the earlier part of it, besides Cranmer, Ridley, Tunstal, Gardiner, Pole, and other churchmen of distinguished acquirements, we have Richard Pace, Sir John Cheke, and Sir Thomas Smith, Colet the founder and Lilly the first master of St. Paul's School, —all already mentioned; William Grocyn, another of the first and also one of the very greatest of the English Grecians; the equally elegant and industrious John Leland, the father of English antiquities, and the chief preserver in his day of the old knowledge that would otherwise have perished, as well as one of the most successful cultivators of the new; Doctor Thomas Linacer, the first English physician, and as a scholar scarcely second to any of his country or of his age; and the allaccomplished Sir Thomas More, perhaps the happiest genius of his time, the one of its profound scholars, at all events, unless we are to except his illustrious friend Erasmus, whose natural genius was the least oppressed by his erudition, and whose erudition was the most brightened with wit, and informed by a living spirit better than that of books. Of somewhat later celebrity are the * Hist. of Eng. Poet. iii. 283.
names of Roger Ascham, who is more famous, however, for his English than for his Latin writings; of Dr. Walter Haddon, the most Ciceronian of English Latinists; of Buchanan, perhaps the most of a poet of all the modern writers of Latin verse; not to mention Archbishop Parker, Bishop Andrews, and other eminent churchmen. The number of very great English scholars, however, in the reign of Elizabeth was not so considerable as in that of her father, when classical studies were not only cultivated with perhaps a truer appreciation of the highest models, but afforded, besides, almost the only field for intellectual exercise and display. Still this kind of learning continued to be fashionable; and a familiar, if not a profound, acquaintance with both the Latin and the Greek languages was diffused to an unusual extent among persons of the highest rank. Henry VIII. was himself a scholar of considerable pretensions; he is said, being a younger son, to have been educated for the church and to this accident, which gave the country its first pedant king, it may perhaps have been also indebted for its succession of learned princes, which lasted for more than a century, Henry, as it were, setting the fashion, which it afterwards became a matter of course to follow. His son, though born to the throne to which he succeeded, received a schoolmastering fit for a bishop; and so also did both his daughters. Erasmus has commended the Latin letters of Mary, some of which are preserved, as well as others in French and in Spanish. Elizabeth was not only a Latin, French, Spanish, and Italian scholar, but also a proficient in Greek, in which language her tutor Ascham tells us she used, even after she came to the throne, to read more every day than
some prebendaries of the church read of Latin in a whole week. But this was especially the age of learned ladies; and every reader will remember the names of Lady Jane Grey, of whose studies in Plato the same writer we have just mentioned has drawn so interesting a picture, and some of whose Latin epistles are still extant, especially one to her sister, written the night before her death, in a Greek Testament, in which she had been reading; of Mary, Countess of Arundel; her daughterin-law, Joanna Lady Lumley; and the younger sister of the latter, Mary Duchess of Norfolk, all of whom were the authoresses of various translations from the Greek into Latin and English; of the two Margarets, the female luminaries of the household of Sir Thomas More, the one who became the wife of her learned tutor, Dr. John Clement, and who is said to have so delighted in and almost worshipped More, that she would sometimes commit a fault purely that she might be chid by him— such moderation and humanity was there in his anger; the other, his affectionate and favourite daughter, who married his biographer, Roper, and was accounted the most learned woman of her time; and of the three wonderful daughters of Sir Anthony Cooke-Mildred, the eldest, married to Lord Burleigh, whose name has been embalmed by the muse of Buchanan; Anne, the second, the governess of Edward VI., and afterwards the wife of Sir Nicholas Bacon, and the mother of the illustrious Viscount St. Alban's; and the youngest, Catherine, who married Sir Henry Killigrew, and is celebrated not only for her Latin and Greek, but even for her Hebrew erudition. "It became fashionable in this reign (that of Elizabeth)," says Warton, "to study Greek at court,
The maids of honour indulged their ideas of sentimental affection in the sublime contemplation of Plato's Phædo; and the queen, who understood Greek better than the canons of Windsor, and was certainly a much greater pedant than her successor, James I., translated Isocrates. But this passion for the Greek language soon ended where it began; nor do we find that it improved the national taste, or influenced the writings of the age of Elizabeth."
Old Harrison has a curious and characteristic passage on this learned court. "This further," he observes, "is not to be omitted, to the singular commendation of both sorts and sexes of our courtiers here in England, that there are very few of them which have not the use and skill of sundry speeches, besides an excellent vein of writing, before time not regarded." He does not, however, seem to have a more favourable notion of the moral effect of these novel and showy accomplishments than Warton has expressed respecting their influence on the national literature and taste: "Would to God," he exclaims, "the rest of their lives and conversations were correspondent to those gifts! for, as our common courtiers, for the most part, are the best learned and endued with excellent gifts, so are many of them the worst men, when they come abroad, that any man shall either hear or read of." Harrison's words, which are surprisingly bold to have been published at the time, seem here to be gallantly confined to the men of the court; but other contemporary testimonies do not disguise the fact that many of the females who formed the attendants of the virgin queen were as dissolute as their male associates. The honest old painter of the living manners of his time may be thought, perhaps, to hint at something of