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story riseth of nothing. This, howerer, I admonish you to do, that whether you write of serious matters, or of trifles, you write with diligence and attention, premeditating it before. Neither will it be amiss, if you first indite it in English, for then it may be more easily translated into Latin, while the mind, freed from inventing, is attentive to find apt and eloquent words. And though I point this to your choice, whether you will do so or not, yet I enjoin you by all means that you diligently examine what you
have written, before you write it out fair again; first considering attentively the whole sentence, and after examining every part thereof, by which means you may easily find if any solecisms have escaped you ; which being corrected, and your letter written fair, do not find it irksome to examine it over again; for sometimes the same faults will creep in at the second writing, that you had before blotted out. By this diligence of yours, your very trifles will become serious matters; for as nothing is so pleasing but may be spoiled by prating garrulity, so nothing is by nature so unpleasant, as may not by industry be made full of grace and pleasantness. Farewell, my sweetest children. From the Court this 3d of September, 1516.”
Another. “ Thomas More to his dearest daughters Margaret, Elizabeth, and Cecily, and to Margaret Giggs, as dear to him as if she were his own, sendeth greeting :
“I cannot sufficiently express, my best beloved wenches, how exceedingly your elegant letters have pleased me. Nor am I the less delighted to hear, that in all your journeying, though you change places often, you omit none of your accustomed exercises, either in making declamations, composing of verses, or in your logical exercises. By this I persuade myself that you dearly love me, because you are so very careful to please me by your diligence in my absence, to perform those things which you know are
so grateful to me when present. And as I find this your mind and affection so much to delight me, so will I procure that my return shall be profitable to
And persuade yourselves, that there is nothing in the midst of these my troublesome cares and fatigues of business, that recreateth me so much as when I read some of your labours, by which I find those things to be true which your loving master writes so affectionately of you; for had not your own letters evidently shown me how earnest your desire is towards learning, I should have judged that he had rather written out of affection than according to the truth ; but what you write makes him be believed, and myself to imagine those things to be true of your witty and acute disputations, of which he so much boasts as almost to exceed belief. I am, therefore, marvellously desirous to return home, that I may hear you, and set my scholar to dispute with you, who is slow to believe yet out of all hope or conceit to find you able to correspond to the praises given you by your master. But I hope, knowing how steady you are in your pursuits, that you will shortly surpass your master, if not in disputing, at least, like every woman, in not giving up the point in dispute. My dear wenches, farewell.”
Roper says that he would sometimes come into their study-room in the midst of their exercises, and exhort them to diligence; “My children,” would he say, remember that virtue and learning are the meat, and play but the sauce."
In More's folio there is an admirable letter from Sir Thomas to William Gunnell, one of the preceptors to his children, containing his views on education in general, and enforcing some particular precepts adapted to the disposition of his own children.*
While Frasmus admired the proficiency of the young ladies, and shared in the pleasure it diffused, guilty pls
* For a copy of this valuable relic, see our volume of SELECTIONS.
he could not help remarking one day to his friend, how severe a calamity it would be, if, by any of those fatalities to which man is liable, such accomplished beings, whom he had so painfully and so successfully laboured to improve, should happen to be snatched away! “If they are to die," replied More, without hesitation, “I would rather have them die well-informed than ignorant.” “ This reply," continues Erasmus, “reminded me of a say. ing of Phocion, whose wife, as he was about to drink the poison, according to his sentence, exclaimed: “Ah! my husband, you die innocent ?” “ And would you, my wife," he rejoined, “rather have me die
It is said that Sir Thomas's first wife, having had three daughters, put up many earnest vows for a son. Her prayer was heard, and the knight used to say, “ That she had prayed so long for a boy, that she brought forth one at last that would be a boy as long as he lived." This expression, by which probably nothing more was intended than an allusion to the levity of the youth's temper, has been too literally interpreted by Mr. Cayley and others to signify a weak. ness of intellect, and poor John has been unceremoniously classed among the heroum filii.*
In the splendid collection of portraits from origi. nal drawings by Holbein, in the King of England's collection, published by Mr. Chamberlaine, is a beautiful engraving of More's son. The editor observes, that the received opinion of this youth's mental weakness is contradicted by this very intellectual head, and by the attitude in which the faithful artist has painted him—with a book in his hand, in the attitude of deep study. He justly observes, that due allowance must be made for More's antithetical phrase; and that, if the father could not
• Buffon, the celebrated naturalist, had but a single son, who, in point of intelligence, proved the very converse of his father. Rivarol, the wit of that day, observed -" That he was the very worst chapter in all his father's Natural History."
withhold his joke, it should not be construed to the prejudice of the son. Besides, we have the evidence of Erasmus to oppose to this, who, in one of his letters, describes him as a youth of the best hopes.” He has, also, a letter addressed to him, full of expressions of respect and esteem; and, in 1531, he dedicated to him a translation of Aristotle, as did Grynæus that of Plato, some years later.
He was married to the sole heiress of an ancient and respectable family of Barnborough, in Yorkshire. The Rev. Joseph Hunter has satisfactorily proved, that the Life of Sir Thomas More, usually known under the name of his great grandson, Thomas More, is the work of John Cresacre More, second son of the above. His youngest daughter, Gertrude, also composed a work entitled “ Spiritual Exercises,” which is favourably spoken of. It was printed in Paris, 1658, with a portrait of the authoress, and is a work of great rarity.
The following is a little specimen of badinage, in an epistle addressed by More to his Margaret only.
“ My dearest Margaret :-You ask for money of your father without the slightest fear or shame, and what is worse, the letter in which you ask it is of such a kind, that I cannot refuse your request, do what I will. Indeed, I could find in my heart to recompense your letter, not as Alexander did by Choritus, giving him for every line a Phillipine of gold; but, if my pocket were as large as my will, I would be. stow two crowns of the purest gold for every syllable of the same. Herein, I send you as much as you requested; I should have been willing to send you more, but I like to have my penny-worth for my penny. As I bestow with pleasure, so am I desirous to be asked, and to be fawned on by my daughters ; and more especially by you, Meg, whom virtue and learning have made so dear to me. Therefore, the sooner you have spent this money well, as you are ever wont to do, and the sooner you ask for more in as handsome a way as you did for the last, know, that the sooner you will do your father a singular pleasure. My beloved daughter, farewell."
Several letters from More to this his favourite daughter, will be found among our Selections. In perusing them, the reader will be struck by the importance attached by More to her learning. The encomiums bestowed on her progress are such as no common acquirements could deserve; and yet
their novelty may have been a strong temptation in those days to overrate them. The taste of the times seems to have inclined much to light reading, if to any at all; the press of Caxton had, in the two preceding reigns, furnished the nation with a tolerable store of romance-reading, and with some translations from the Italian. The works of Chaucer had also been rendered more accessible, and we find Margaret quoting him in her letters. On this love of romancereading, More's opponent, Tindall, has the following reflections: “ That this forbidding the laity to read the Scriptures, is not for the love of your souls is evident, inasmuch as they permit you to read Robin Hood, Bevys of Hampton, Hercules, Hector, and Troilus, with a thousand histories and fables of love, and wantonness, and ribaldry, to corrupt the minds of youth !" From the absence of all allusion to these popular books in More's letters and other writings, it is, perhaps, not unfair to infer, that, independently of his own early-acquired taste for these studies, one of his reasons for insisting so much on the study of the learned languages, was that they might serve as a substitute for this species of literature." In a letter to Gunnel, one of the preceptors to bis family, he offers some excellent practical reflections, wortby the attention of every father of a family. It will be found in our volume of Selections, together with all the letters that passed between More and his family, which are too precious to be omitted.
In More's volume of Latin poems there is also an