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Where are our castles now, where are our towers
Thou, goodly Richmond, soon art gone from me;
Mine own dear lord, now shall I never see.
Almighty God, vouchsafe to grant that ye
1504. About this period, we find him delivering lectures on St. Augustine's great work De Civitate Dei, in the church of St. Lawrence, Old Jewry. We learn from Erasmus, that these lectures were numerously attended, and that neither the old and experienced, nor the most dignified churchmen of the land, were ashamed to derive sacred wisdom from the young layman. It is pleasing to find that Grocyn, his old Oxford master, was one among the number. In our day, avocations so apparently ditferent as law and divinity-lecturing, would scarcely be thought compatible. But it must not be forgotten that in the times we are describing, very considerable knowledge in divinity was essential to the character of a lawyer. The highest legal offices in the state were generally filled by ecclesiastics; and More, as it will be seen, was afterwards a rare instance of a layman being appointed to fill that of Chancellor.
At this period, we find the subject of our memoir giving a laudable proof of discretion in the midst of his devout exercises. Fearful of following his own will, even in meritorious actions, he chose for bis spiritual director the famous Colet,' dean of St. Paul's, whose acquaintance, as we have already seen, he had formed at college. “ To this ghostly father, to use the words of his grandson," he was as obedient in all spiritual matters, as he was to his natural father in all dutiful obligation; and from bis wholesome lessons he derived the greatest profit.” On this point, we have pleasure in quoting Mr. Tytler : “ Though educated in the rigid school of Colet, his severities and inflictions centered in himself--to others he was indulgent and humane; while the sweetness of his temper, his ready forgiveness of injuries, his wide and unostentatious cbarities, and the courage with which he was ever ready to peril his life for the faith, evinced that his was tħe genuine fasting, and holy penance of the heart.” (Life of Henry VIII. p. 57.) Stapleton has preserved a letter from More to Colet, which confirms the great respect and regard in which he held this distinguished ecclesiastic; and as it presents a natural and pleasing picture of the state of his mind at this important period of his life, the reader will not be displeased to see it translated.
* Dean Colet (b. 1466 d. 1519) was the sole survivor of a family of twenty-two children, and enjoyed a handsome inheritance, which he piously employed in the foundation of the celebrated school in St. Þaul's church-yard, in the year 151, dedicated TO THE CHILD Jesus. It is still famous under the name of St. Paul's school, and can boast of a long series of men of eminence.
“As I was walking lately in Westminster Hall, where a law case had employed me, I chanced to meet your servant lad. I was delighted at the sight of him, for he was always a favourite of mine, and more especially as I thought he could not be here without you. Judge, then, of my disappointment, when he informed me you were not returned. For what can be more grievous to me than to be deprived of your sweet conversation, whose wholesome counsel I was wont to enjoy, whose engaging familiarity was so refreshing to me, by whose impressive discourses I have been incited to devotion, by whose life and example I have been edified and instructed; in a word, in whose very countenance I have found contentment of heart. Having under such auspices once felt strength and confidence, deprived of them I am utterly cast down. What is there in this town to incite any man to a good life? Or rather, what is there that doth not, by a thousand allurements, draw him from the path of virtue, be his dispositions ever so good ? On whatever side we turn, what do we hear but, on the one hand, the voice of pretended love, or of insidious flattery, and, on the other, fierce quarrels, strife, and litigation. Wherever we cast our eyes, what do we see but tavern-keepers, cooks, &c., who administer to the appetite, to the pleasures of the world, and to the Evil one who is the prince thereof. The very houses rob us of a good part of our light, scarcely suffering us to behold the sky; for it is the height of the buildings, and not the circle of the horizon, that bounds our prospect. It is for this that I can the more readily pardon you for preferring a country life. There you find simple souls, void of our city craft. Wherever you turn your eye, it is cheered by agreeable prospects; the fresh air invi. gorates, while the aspect of the heaven delights you; you find nothing there but bounteous gifts of nature, and saintly tokens of innocence. Yet would I not have you so wholly taken with these delights, as not to return to us as speedily as may be.
If the city displease you, as well it may, yet the country about your parish of Stepney, while it claims your care, will also afford you comforts like those you now enjoy. The country people are harmless in comparison with the inhabitants of the city, whose crowded state is infectious both for body and soul, and demands more skilful physicians. It is true that there sometimes come into your pulpit at St. Paul's, men who promise wonders in curing the spiritual diseases of the people, but when all is said and done, their lives are so little in accordance with their precepts, that they rather increase than alleviate the spiritual complaints of their hearers. Sick men are not to be ersuaded to let those attempt their cure, who, God wot! are more sick themselves; for a leper to attempt to treat a leper, would only excite contempt and aversion, But if those are accounted the fittest to effect a cure, in whom the sick have the greatest confidence, where can one be found so competent to the task as yourself? How great the trust reposed in your experience of souls, is manifested by the deep anxiety felt for your return. Return, then, at length, my dear Colet,
either for your Stepney's sake, which bewails your absence day by day, as doth a child that of its moiher, or else for London's sake, which is your native place, and which you should naturally regard as a parent. Meanwhile, I pass my time with Grocyn, Linacre, and Lilly; the first beiny, as you know, the director of my life in your absence; the second, the master of my studies; and the third, my dearest companion in all I undertake. Farewell, and continue to love me as you have hitherto done.” Colet in his turn admired his disciple, and was heard to exclaim : “ That England had but one true wit, and that was young Thomas More.”*
1507. It was by the advice of his spiritual director, that More, about this time, decided upon settling down in life in the marriage state. In the number of his friends was Mr. John Colte, of Newhall in Essex.t He was a gentleman of good family, who had three daughters, whose persoval accomplishments and “honest conversation” attracted the attention of More, who was now in his twenty-seventh year. In the choice which he made, we have a remarkable instance of that peculiarity of character, that spirit of self-renunciation, which distinguished him through life. It appears that inclination directed him to the second of these young ladies, I " and yet,” says Roper, “ when he considered within himself, that this would be a grief, and a kind of underrating
• Henry the Eighth was so persuaded of the merit of Dean Colet, that on occasion of some charge attempted to be made against him, he was heard to exclaim : " Let others choose what doctor they please, Colet is the man for me."-Burnet, vol. iii. p. 167.
† This venerable mansion is still in existence, and is now converted into an establishment of considerable repute for the education of young ladies, under the superintendence of the sisters of the Benedictine order.
# It has been surmised that to this lady, More subsequently, ad. dressed his beautiful Latin poem “ To Eliza." It turns on the pleasing reflection, that his affectionate remembrance restored to her the beauty of which five-and-twenty years seemed to others to have robbed her. Competent judges have not hesitated to qualify this poem as one of the most beautiful productions of the 16th century. It will be fourd in our Volume of Selections, with an attempt at translation,
to the eldest, to see her younger sister preferred before her, he, out of a kind of compassion, settled his fancy upon the eldest, and soon after married her, with all her friends' good liking.” There may be some who will admire the philosophy of More in the instance before us, but it may be doubted if he will find many imitators. We learn from Erasmus, that the lady, whose name was Jane, was much younger than her husband, and had never quitted the society of her parents and sisters in the country. This, he adds, was the more agreeable to his friend, as he had a better prospect of moulding her character to his
In order to be near his father, we find More settling himself in a house in Bucklersbury, where he applied himself to his profession with renewed diligence and zeal. At the same time, he appears to have spared no means in improving his wife's mind, and rendering her life happy. By him, she was in. structed in polite literature, and in music, which had always been his delight, and in which he is represented as having been a tolerable proficient. There was every prospect of long years of happiness for the worthy pair; but man proposes, and God disposes, and this scene of domestic enjoyment was broken up by her death, six years after their union, she having borne her husband several children, of whom a son and three daughters survived her.
The year following his marriage, More was elected to a seat in the House of Commons, and found an early opportunity of discharging a difficult duty to his country. Henry the Seventh having resolved to marry his daughter Margaret to James the Fifth, of Scotland, applied to the Commons for a subsidy, rather, as would appear, for the gratification of his ruling passion, avarice, than by way of dower for his daughter. Be it as it may, there was some dislike evinced, as well to the amount, as to the object of the sum applied for. That the continued and insatiable demands of the king had thoroughly tired out the