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cealed, and the curiosity to explore and rifle the treasures of the Greek and Roman world, which mystery and imagination had swelled into the marvellous, contributed to excite an absolute passion for study and for books. The court, the ducal castle, and the baronial hall were suddenly converted into academies, and could boast of splendid tapestries. In the first of these, according to Ascham, might be seen the queen reading "more Greeke every day than some prebendarie of this thurch doth read Latin in a whole week;" and while the was translating Isocrates or Seneca, it may be easily conceived that her maids of honour found it fonvenient to praise and to adopt the disposition of her time. In the second, observes Warton, " the daughter of a duchess was taught not only to distil strong waters, but to construe Greek; and in the third, every young lady who aspired to be fashionable was compelled, in imitation of the greater world, to exhibit similar marks of erudition."
A contemporary writer says, that some of the ladies of the court employ themselves "in continuall reading either of the holie Scriptures, or histories of our owne or forren nations about us, and diverse in writing volumes of their owne, or translating of other mens into our English and Latine toongs. I might here (he adds) make a large discourse of such honorable and grave councellors, and noble personages, as give their dailie attendance upon the queene's majestie. I could in like sort set foorth a singular commendation of the vertuous beautie, or beautiful vertues of such ladies and gentlewomen as wait upon his person, betweene whose amiable countenances and costlinesse of attire there seemeth to be such a dailie conflict and contention, as that it is verie difficult for me to gesse whether of the twaine shall beare awaie the preheminence. This further is not to be omitted, to the singular commendation of both sorts and sexes of our courtiers here in England, that there are verie few of them which have not the use and skill of sundrie speaches, beside an excellent veine of writing before-time not regarded. Would to God the rest of their lives and conversations were correspondent to these gifts! for as our common courtiers (for the most part) are the best lerned and endued with excellent gifts, so are manie of them the worst men when they come abroad, that anie man shall either heare or read of. Trulie it is a rare thing with us now to heare of a courtier which hath but his owne language. And to saie how many gentlewomen and ladies there are, that beside sound knowledge of the Greeke and Latine toongs, are thereto no lesse skilful in the Spanish, Italian, and French, or in some one of them, it resteth not in me. Sith I am persuaded, that as the noblemen and gentlemen doo surmount in this behalfe, so these come verie little or nothing at all behind them for their parts, which industrie God continue, and accomplish that which otherwise is wanting !"*
At this time the practice (derived from the chivalrous ages, when every baronial castle was the resort of young persons of gentle birth, of both sexes) was by no means discontinued of placing young women, of gentle birth, in the establishment of ladies of rank, where, without performing any menial offices, they might be supposed to have their own understood duties in the household, and had in return the advantage of a liberal education, and constant association with the best company. Persons of rank and fortune often retained in their service many young people of both sexes of good birth, and bestowed on them the fashionable education of the time. Indeed their houses were the best, if not then the only schools of elegant learning. The following letter, written in 1595, is from a young lady thus situated:
"To my good mother Mrs. Pake, at Broumfield, deliver this. "Deare Mother,
"My humble dutye remembred unto my father and you, &c. I received upon Weddensday last a letter from my father and you, whereby, I understand, it is your pleasures that I should certifie you what times I do take for my lute, and the rest of my exercises. I doe for the most part playe of my lute after supper, for then commonlie my lady heareth me; and in the morninges, after I am reddie, I play an hower; and my wrightinge and siferinge, after I have done my lute. For my drawinge I take an hower in the afternowne, and my French at night before supper. My lady hath not bene well these tooe or three dayes: she telleth me, when she is well, that she will see if Hilliard will come and teche me; if she can by any means she will, &c. &c.—As touchinge my newe corse in service, I hope I shall performe my dutye to my lady
with all care and regard to please her, and to behave myselfe to everye one else as it shall become me. Mr. Harrisone was with me upone Fridaye; he heard me playe, and brought me a dusson of trebles; I had some of him when I came to London. Thus desiring pardone for my rude writinge, I leave you to the Almightie, desiringe him to increase in you all health and happines.
"Your obedient daughter,
Could any thing afford a stronger contrast to the grave and certainly severe study to which Elizabeth had habituated herself, than the vain and fantastic puerility of many of her recreations and habits,—the unintellectual brutality of the bearbaits which she admired, or the gaudy and glittering pageants in which she delighted? She built a gallery at Whitehall at immense expense, and so superficially, that it was in ruins in her successor's time; but it was raised, in order to afford a magnificent reception to the ambassadors who, in 1581, came to treat of an alliance with the Duke of Anjou. It was framed of timber, covered with painted canvas, and decorated with the utmost gaudiness. Pendants of fruit of various kinds (amongst which cucumbers and even carrots are enumerated) were hung from festoons of flowers intermixed with evergreens, and the whole was powdered with gold spangles; the ceiling was painted like a sky with stars, sunbeams, and clouds, intermixed with scutcheons of the royal arms; and glass lustres and ornaments were scattered all around. Here were enacted masques and pageants chiefly remarkable for their pedantic prolixity of composition, and the fulsome and gross flattery towards the queen with which they were throughout invested.
Everything, in accordance with the rage of the day, assumed an erudite, or, more truly speaking, a pedantic cast. When the queen (says Warton) paraded through a country town, almost every pageant was a pantheon. When she paid a visit at the house of any of her nobility, at entering the hall she was saluted by the Penates, and conducted to her privy chamber by Mercury. Even the pastry cooks were expert mythologists. At dinner, select transformations of Ovid's metamorphoses were exhibited in confectionary; and the splendid iceing of an immense historic plum-cake was embossed with a delicious basso-relievo of the destruction of Troy. In the afternoon, when she condescended to walk in the garden, the lake was covered with Tritons and Nereids; the pages of the family were converted into wood-nymphs, who peeped from every bower; and the footmen gambolled over the lawns in the figure of satyrs.
Scarcely we think could even the effusions of Euphues—a fashion also of this period—be more wearisome to the spirit than a repetition of these dull delights.
This predilection for learning, and the time perforce given to its acquisition, must necessarily have subtracted from those hours which might otherwise have been bestowed on the lighter labours and beguiling occupations of the needle. Nor does it appear that after her accession Elizabeth did much