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ners are broken chains, shackles, racks, and gibbets; and over them in great letters, these words of the third chapter of the second Epistle to the Corinthians, UBI' SPIRITUS IBI LfBERTAS.
To show yet more fully the aversion she had conceived against the Catholic religion, and particularly against the sacrifice of the mass, having a fine and excellent piece of tapestry, made by her mother, Margaret, before she had suffered herself to be cajoled by the ministers, in which was perfectly well wrought the sacrifice of the mass, and a priest who held out the holy host to the people, she took out the square in which was this history, and, instead of the priest, with her own hand substituted a fox, who turning to the people, and making a horrible grimace with his paws and throat, delivered these words, Dominus Vobiscum.
We are told that Anne of Brittany, the good Queen of France, assembled three hundred of the children of the nobility at her court, where, under her personal superintendence, they were instructed in such accomplishments as became their rank and sex, but the girls, most especially, made accomplished needle-women. Embroidery was their occupation during some specified hours of every day, and they wrought much tapestry, which was presented by their royal protectress to different churches.
Her daughter Claude, the queen of Francis I., formed her court on the same model and maintained the same practice; Queen Anne Boleyn was educated in her court, and was doomed to consume a large portion of her time in the occupation of the needle. It was an employment little suited to her lively disposition and coquettish habits, and we do not hear, during her short occupation of the throne, that she resorted to it as an amusement.
"Ai lavori d'Aracne, all 'ago, ai fusi
The practice of devoting some hours to embroidery seems to have continued in the French court. When the young Queen of Scots was there, the French princesses assembled every afternoon in the queen's (Catherine of Medici's) private apartment, where "she usually spent two or three hours in embroidery with her female attendants."
It is also said, that Katharine of Arragon was in the habit of employing the ladies of her court in needlework, in which she was herself extremely assiduous, working with them and encouraging them by her example. Burnet records, that when two legates requested once to speak with her, she came out to them with a skein of silk about her neck, and told them she had been within at work with her women. An anecdote, as far as regards the skein of silk, somewhat more housewifely than queenly.
In this she differed much from her successor, Queen Catherine Parr, for having had her nativity cast when a child, and being told, from the disposition of the stars and planets in her house, that she was born to sit in the highest seat of imperial majesty; child as she was, she was so impressed by the prediction, that when her mother required her to work she would say, "My hands are ordained to touch crowns and sceptres, not needles and spindles."
When the orphaned daughter of this lady, by the lord admiral, was consigned to the care of the Duchess of Suffolk, the furniture of "her former nursery" was to be sent with her. The list is rather curious, and we subjoin it.
"Two pots, three goblets, one salt parcel gilt, a maser with a band of silver and parcel gilt, and eleven spoons; a quilt for the cradle, three pillows, three feather-beds, three quilts, a testor of scarlet embroidered with a counterpoint of silk say belonging to the same, and curtains of crimson taffeta; two counterpoints of imagery for the nurse's bed, six pair of sheets, six fair pieces of hangings within the inner chamber; four carpets for windows, ten pieces of hangings of the twelve months within the outer chamber, two quishions of cloth of gold, one chair of cloth of gold, two wrought stools, a bedstead gilt, with a testor and counterpoint, with curtains belonging to the same."
Return we to Katharine of Arragon: her needlework labours have been celebrated both in Latin and English verse. The following sonnet refers to specimens in the Tower, which now indeed are swept away, having left not "a wreck behind."
"I read that in the seventh King Henrie's reigne,
Fair Katharine, daughter to the Castile king,
Of Spanish ladies which shee thence did bring.
And afterwards divorc'd, where virtuously
In working with the needle curiously,
Her excellent memorials may be seen;
By her faire ladies, and herselfe, a Queene.
Thus far her paines, here her reward is just,
Her works proclaim her prayse, though she be dust.'"
The same pen also celebrated her daughter's skill in this feminine occupation.
Mary was skilled in all sorts of embroidery; and when her mother's divorce consigned her to a private life, she beguiled the intervals of those severer studies in which she peaceably and laudably occupied her time in various branches of needlework. It is not unlikely the Psalter we have alluded to elsewhere was embroidered by herself; and a reference to the fashionable occupations of the day will bring to our minds various trifling articles, the embroidery of which beguiled her time, though they have long since passed away.
"Her daughter Mary here the sceptre swaid,
And though she were a Queene of mighty power,
Which by her works are likewise in the Tower,
In that most pompous roome called Paradise;
May see some workes of hers, of wondrous price.
To take the needle in her royal hand;
To banish idleness from out her land:
We extract the following notice of the gentle and excellent Lady Jane Grey, from the ' Court Magazine.'
"Ten days' royalty! Alas, how deeply fraught with tragic interest is the historic page recording the events of that brief period! and how immeasurable the results proceeding therefrom Love, beauty, religious constancy, genius, and learning, vere seen in early womanhood intermingling their glorious halo with the dark shadowings of despotism, imprisonment, and violent death upon the scaffold!
"In the most sequestered part of Leicestershire, backed by rude eminences, and skirted by lowly and romantic valleys, stands Bradgate, the birth-place and abode of Lady Jane Grey. The approach to Bradgate from the village of Cropston is striking. On the left stands a group of venerable trees, at the extremity of which rise the remains of the once magnificent mansion of the Greys of Groby. On the right is a hill, known by the name of ' The Coppice,' covered with slate, but so intermixed with fern and forest-flowers as to form a beautiful contrast to the deep shades of the surrounding woods. To add to the loveliness of the scene, a winding trout-stream finds its way from rock to rock, washing the walls of Bradgate until it reaches the fertile meadows of Swithland.
"In the distance, situate upon a hill, is a tower, called by the country-people Old John, commanding a magnificent view of the adjoining country, including the distant castles of Nottingham and Belvoir. With the exception of the chapel and kitchen, the princely mansion has now become a ruin; but a tower still stands, which tradition points out as her birth-place. Traces of the tilt-yard are visible, with the garden-walls, and a noble terrace whereon Jane often walked and sported in her childhood; and the rose and lily still spring in favourable nooks of that wilderness, once the pleasance, or pleasure-garden of Bradgate. Near the brook is a beautiful group of old chestnut-trees.