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even the doing of it, that is every thing we should desire ; for a thing may be resolved on reluctantly, and done ill-temperedly; it must be resolved on heartily, and done in a good spirit. Let not this remark be overlooked. A willing, hopeful, grateful spirit will work wonders in most cases ; doubt not that it will work wonders in yours.
Again, let me repeat that if there be one time more suitable than another in which to turn over a new leaf, it is on the arrival of a new year. If then you have knowledge to gain, errors to correct, injuries to forgive, and virtues to practise, let a new leaf be turned over. You have the
year acquit yourselves like men. 66 Whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report ; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things,” Phil. iv. 8.
A NOBLE LADY.
A SKETCH OF OLYMPIA DORATA. “ These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they re
ceived the word with all readiness of mind.”-Acts xvii. 11. OLYMPIA MORATA was one of the most learned and pious ladies of Italy in the sixteenth century. She was born in Ferrara, a city of Italy, where learning, genius, poetry, music, and all of what are termed the fine arts, then flourished, and were encouraged in a remarkable manner at the brilliant court of its princes of the house of Este.
Ferrara, once so brilliant and so adorned by genius, is now desolate, and in decay: its princes have passed away; its palaces are bright and gay no longer; the grass grows in its streets; yet the name of a simple girl to whom Ferrara gave birth still survives; it is not forgotten upon earth, and, far better still, it hath been written in heaven.
Olympia was born A. D. 1526, and at the age of twelve years was appointed companion to the young princesses of Este, and taken into their gay court. From the age of six she had enjoyed the instructions of a learned man, who, observing her talents, advised her father to suffer her to cultivate them, and not oblige her, as was then usually the case with women, to devote her whole time to the arts of needlework and cookery. He agreed with this adviser, and allowing his daughter to pursue the studies her taste inclined to, she was, at the early age of twelve years, completely instructed in the Greek and Latin languages, and in the learned sciences. Such a singular progress would not have been for her advantage, had it not been attended by that sweet modesty, and feminine gentleness, without which learning must be unpleasing, if not injurious to women. Olympia was also well instructed in female duties, and able to combine them with a love of learning and poetry. From her extraordinary talents, she was chosen to be the companion peculiarly of the little princess Anna d'Este, who was five years younger than herself, and was already studying Greek under one of the most famous instructors of that age, while Olympia, who was brought into the palace to incite her to emulation, shared the benefits to be derived from her numerous tutors, and profited so much by her advantages, that at the age of sixteen she attracted the wonder and admiration of the learned men by whom she was surrounded.
Her writings soon began to attract notice. Many persons thought the name of Olympia was assumed, and attributing them to some great genius of the time, wrote to her preceptor, to ask if the name were not a fictitious one. Her tutor's letter in answer still exists : he says, that Olympia is a real and living character, and that he has heard her make speeches at court, both in Greek and Latin. It concludes thus: “Nor does this work of hers surprise us at all, for she is skilled both in Greek and Roman literature beyond what one can credit, and is also renowned for her knowledge of religion.” It was indeed this knowledge of religion, that gave Olympia her renown, and shed its lustre over all her other acquirements. It was the era of the Reformation. As in other parts of Europe, so even in Italy, people seemed to have their minds awakened as from a deep sleep: they read more, thought more, and consequently the bonds of error and superstition were felt more. Religion began to exert her claim to some attention from the human understanding. The word of God was loosened from bondage, and it was caused to run swiftly, and not to return void to Him who sent it. Olympia added to her varied knowledge a knowledge of the Bible : her mind was of too high an order not to seek for truth : and her attention once directed to the doctrines of the gospel, she saw these were truth, and embraced the reformed, or Protestant religion.
But Olympia had to learn the truth of all Christ's words, of that word too which saith, “Whosoever will come after me, let him take his cross, and follow me. Christ'never deceived
his followers by flattering expectations. She was living in a brilliant court, enjoying all that was gratifying to a youthful, refined, and cultivated taste, surrounded by all the allurements of genius and learning, and all the pleasures and pomps of the world. She was beautiful too, and an object of admiration there. She had much to fear, if she would follow the meek and lowly Saviour, the despised and rejected of men. Olympia felt her own weakness ; in writing to a learned and excellent young friend, the princess Lavinia, she reminds her of her early distaste for the Bible, and for sacred pursuits, of her greater fondness for general literature, or even for dress, and other objects of female vanity. She gives thanks to God for his heavenly teaching, by which her thoughts had been turned, with her affections, to better objects; for otherwise, she says,
being entangled in the mire of vanity and folly, I should have remained in it, had not God, of his mercy, drawn me from it.'
Her God had ordered for her a very different life from that most brilliant worldly career on which her childhood had set out. Olympia was not always to be the admiration of a court, nor the pride and ornament of the gay and graceful city of Ferrara. The doctrines of the Reformation, which had spread rapidly in Italy, were very soon opposed, and rooted out by rigorous persecution. In the year 1545, an order was sent from the Pope, commanding the authorities of Ferrara, where those opinions had gained most ground, to inquire into the religious sentiments of all persons suspected of heresy, and even to employ torture to elicit them. This horrible decree extended even to the palace; and Olympia was included among those suspected of favouring the new opinions. At this period she wrote to a friend, saying, “No one now is permitted to learn Divine wisdom, or even to read the books of either Testament."
It was just when Olympia was experiencing the highest favour of the learned, and the most distinguished patronage of the princes of Ferrara, that she had to encounter the trial of her faith, and the severest reverse of her life. A vigorous persecution being instituted against those who professed Lutheranism at the court, she was obliged either to change her faith, or retire from the palace. She did the latter. One trial followed another. Her excellent father died, and some of her friends forsook her on account of her religious opinions. The papal spies continued to accuse her of heresy, and her situation became one of great danger, as well as distress. But Christ gave Olympia power not to deny him before men : and
though a young, beautiful and delicate woman, she had grace to stand the trial of her faith.
In her father's house she occupied herself in simple and useful duties. She employed herself in educating her little brother, and her three sisters, succeeding so well, that her sister Victoria became one of the most illustrious ladies of Italy. Her manner of life was changed, and many of her noble friends were in reality less noble than Olympia, having the fear of men, and loving the praise of men more than the praise of God. One of Olympia's companions in childhood. has attained a different sort of celebrity from that which the grace of God has given her: this was the beautiful princess Leonora, on whose account the poet Tasso was so long, and so injuriously, immured in the dungeons of Ferrara, her brother pretending that he aspired to her hand. Away from these companions of her childhood, she gave up her mind to sacred studies, and while still composing Greek and Latin poems, she made progress in that wisdom whose price is above rubies.
But the tyranny of pope Julius III. was exerted to tread out the good seed which the Reformers had sowed. He ordered all the suspected persons, or open professors of Lutheranism, to be seized, and forced to recant. Many fled to Germany, England, France, or the valleys of the Alps. Some renounced their profession through fear, and others were put to death, not accepting deliverance. Olympia was saved in a different
The providence of God was doubtless around her. In the midst of her distress, distracted with care for her family, and full of fear for herself, she gladly and thankfully accepted an offer of marriage from a young German doctor, who admired her great talents, and approved her excellent life. He was going back to Germany, and Olympia accompanied him there. Like most of his nation who sought improvement in the land of genius and the arts, the young doctor possessed those tastes and talents, without which he might have been an unsuitable companion for such a wife ; and what was of more value, they agreed in religion ; and both wished to give themselves to God, and to dwell together in his fear and love.
Olympia found in Germany, for some time, happy home. They lived at a place called Schweinfurt, where she says she “found many patrons, and began to pass her time sweetly and comfortably." While still devoted to learning and literary pursuits, she wrote thus to her sister Victoria : If
have Iittle leisure, rise earlier, or go to bed a little later, and having
shut yourself in your chamber, go over those things that relate to salvation ; for God commands us above all things to seek his kingdom and righteousness. Having done this, commit yourself to him with that mind and faith, that reverence and honour, which become a Christian and noble lady.”
But Olympia's season of repose, and domestic happiness, did not last long. God, in his providence, appointed to her a stormy life: perhaps she would have too much loved an easy and elegant one. Germany was then distracted by petty wars: its princes and prince-bishops—that strange anomaly, wherein a bishop was a temporal prince, and often
a valiant warriorwere carrying on war against each other. Albert of Brandenberg, after ravaging whole districts, brought an army to Schweinfurt, and took possession of the town. He was besieged there for the long space of fourteen months, and the inhabitants were exposed to the extremest suffering, danger, and necessity. Within the city where Olympia and her husband resided, were then to be seen a rude, rebellious soldiery ; the horrors of war, united to pestilence and famine; without it an army
forbade escape, and constantly poured death into the streets and houses.
Olympia, who, during part of this time, was living in a cellar to avoid the cannonade, thus writes to her early friend, the princess Lavinia : “In all our evils we have been sustained by the word of God, for which we have chosen to hazard our lives, though we might now be living luxuriously elsewhere. Olympia's husband was attacked by the pestilence, from which he exerted his skill to save others; and while he was recovering, the siege was pressed so warmly, that she said “ the besiegers threw fire night and day into the town, so that at night you might have thought it all flames."
At the end of fourteen months, the Brandenberg army having withdrawn, the besiegers entered professedly as the friends of the inhabitants, but directly set the town on fire, and pillaged or killed the unhappy people. Olympia and her husband were flying for refuge to a church, when one of the strange soldiers stopped her, and advised her not to go there, but to escape from the town. She did so, and learned afterwards that all the wretched creatures in the church had been suffocated. She and her husband fled away on foot, carrying little with them, and of that little they were robbed, and nearly all their clothes were taken off them.
All Olympia's precious books and writings were lost; and she was thankful, after a journey of several miles on foot, and