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guage of an early writer, that "there are sturdy doubts and boisterous objections, that are to be conquered, not in a martial posture, but on our knees." More said to him, in an earnest tone, "In sober sadness, I see, son Roper, that disputation will do thee no good. From henceforth I have done; I will dispute with thee no more; but this will I do, -I will pray for thee, and who knows but God may be favourable to thee, and touch thy heart?" Sir Thomas shortly after meeting with Mrs. Roper, said to her rather sadly, "Meg, I have borne a long time with thy husband; I have reasoned and argued with him, and given him my poor fatherly counsel; but I perceive nothing of all this can call him home again. And, therefore, Meg, as I have told him himself, I will no longer dispute with him; but yet will I not give him over; no, I will go another way to work; I will get me to God, and pray for him." And so committing him to heaven, he parted from him, but ceased not earnestly to pour out his devotions before the throne of the Divine Mercy to that intent. " And behold," continues Cresacre," my uncle not long after, being inspired with the light of grace, began to detest his heresies, and, like another St. Austin, wrought upon by the prayers of a Monica, was entirely converted; so that, ever after, he was not only a perfect Catholic, but lived and died a stout and valiant champion of the faith. His alms, and the sums he devoted to charitable uses, were so great, as to appear to exceed his annual income. In his latter years, he enjoyed an office of great gain, so that he was enabled to bestow in charitable purposes upwards of five hundred pounds a year." A less believing age will smile at the remainder of the history. "After my uncle's death," adds this confiding nephew, “I have heard it reported by them that were servants in his house, that during the three or four days that his body lay unburied, there was heard once a day, for
the space of a quarter of an hour, the sweetest music that could be imagined; not of any voices of men, but an angelic harmony, as a token how gracious that soul was to Almighty God."
In educating his children, More seems to have combined the most winning manner of imparting instruction, with very high ideas of the value of learning. In nothing is he more remarkable, than in his eagerness to render his daughters, in particular, rich in mental resources, and fit companions for men of eminence in literature and talent. His view of the advantages of study, as respects the formation of the female character, affords a more decisive proof of his elevation above the notions of his time, than any other fact. The fashions of the court, one of the gayest ever known, were most unfavourable to the cultivation of solid learning in the softer sex: and More, perhaps, had the singular merit of first making a stand against the influence of example, and of rendering the women of his family learned, studious, and sedate. Certain it is, that from this period a higher idea of the capacities of the female character seems to have been introduced into England. The princesses Mary and Elizabeth were carefully educated. Both of them read the Greek poets and the most difficult Latin authors, besides speaking and writing the latter language with fluency. Two other ladies of the same age, Ann Askew and the unfortunate Lady Jane Grey, are also cited as still more eminently accomplished. In some instances, these studies were even extended to an acquaintance with the writings of the Greek and Latin fathers. At all events, it was a great step, at such a period, to make the admission, that woman was worthy of being raised above the mere plaything or domestic drudge.
A most delightful account of SIR THOMAS MORE'S SCHOOL, as his domestic academy was commonly called, has been given us in the letters of his learned
and faithful friend, Erasmus ;* and we have yet more valuable testimony in the letters of More himself to his children and their preceptors, at such times as he was absent from them. The school consisted of his own five children, a step-daughter by his second wife, afterwards Mrs. Alice Alingham, an orphan girl, subsequently married to his friend Dr. Clement, whom he generously educated with his daughters, and who appears to have partaken equally with them of his love and care. Afterwards, when his sons and daughters married, More seeing that a family so attached could not endure the idea of separation, contrived to accommodate them all in his house at Chelsea, as well as, in the sequel, eleven grandchildren, who were the fruit of these marriages.
Two or three of his letters to his children, during his temporary absence on his duties at court, have fortunately been preserved, and will prove a treat to all who esteem and admire More in the character of a good father, as well as that of a great statesman. "Thomas More to his whole school sendeth greeting: -You see how I have found out a compendious way of saluting you all, and making spare of time and paper, which I must needs have wasted in saluting every one of you by name; which would have been very superfluous, because you are all so dear to me, some in one respect, some in another, that I can leave no one among you unsaluted. Yet there is no better motive why I should love you, than because you are scholars; learning seeming to bind me more strictly to you than nearness of blood. I am glad, therefore, that Mr. Drue is returned safe, for whom you know I was anxious. Did I not love you exceedingly, I should envy you the rare happiness of having so many great scholars for your masters. I learn that Mr. Nicholas is also with you, and that you have learned of him much astronomy; I hear you
It will give us no mean idea of the estimation in which Erasmus held this domestic academy, when we find him dedicating some of his Commentaries "To Sir Thomas More's School,"
have proceeded with him so far in this science, that you now know not only the pole star, the dog, and such common constellations, but also, which argues you to be absolute and cunning astronomers, to be able to discern the sun from the moon!* Go forward, then, with this your new and admirable skill, by which you thus climb up to the stars, and while you daily consider them with your eyes, let your minds also be in heaven, and more especially in this holy season of Lent. Let that excellent and pious song of Boethius sound in your ears, whereby you are taught also with your minds to penetrate heaven, lest when the eye is lifted to the skies, the soul should grovel among the brute beasts. My dearest children, farewell. From the Court this 23d March,
Another. "Thomas More to his best and beloved children, and to Margaret Giggs, whom he numbereth among his own, sendeth greeting
"The merchant of Bristol brought me your letters,
*More cannot resist the temptation of a dash of waggery, even in writing to his school. On another occasion, he exhorts them to get ideas of their own, and not be content "to deck themselves with plumes of other birds, lest the jackdaws should gather round them, and pluck their tails for very shame."
The following is a feeble imitation of the vigorous verses of Boethius to which More refers:
How fallen our nature, we may see,
Ah, wretched man! the proof in thee.
How firm and vigorous was thy mind,
But now, sad change! that soaring mind
the next day after he had received them of you; with the which I was exceedingly delighted for there can come nothing, yea though never so rude, and never so meanly polished from this workshop of yours, but it procureth me more delight than other men's doings, be they ever so eloquent; so much does your writing stir up my affection towards you.
"But exclusive of this, your letters may also very well please me for their own worth, being full of fine wit, and of pure Latin phrase. There were none of them all but pleased me exceedingly; yet to tell you ingenuously what I think, my son John's letter pleaseth me best, both because it was longer than the others, as also that he seems to me to have taken more pains than the rest: for he not only pointeth out the matter becomingly, and speaketh elegantly, but he playeth also pleasantly with me, and returneth my jests upon me again very wittily; and this he doth, not only pleasantly, but temperately withal, showing that he is mindful with whom he jesteth, to wit, his father, whom he endeavoureth so to delight, that he is also afraid to offend. Hereafter, I expect every day letters from each one of you; neither will I accept of such excuses as you complain of, that you had no leisure, or that the carrier went away suddenly, or that you have no matter to write. John is not wont to allege any such things, and nothing can hinder you from writing, but many things encourage you thereto. Why should you lay any fault upon the carrier, seeing you may prevent his coming, and have them ready made up and sealed, two days before any offer themselves to carry them: and how can you want matter of writing unto me, who am delighted to hear either of your studies or of your play? whom you may then please exceedingly, when having nothing to write of, you write as largely as you can of that nothing, than which nothing is more easy for you to do, especially being women, and therefore prattlers by nature, and amongst whom daily a great