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66 be delivered from that valley of misery into that “ heavenly throne to which she was to be advanced, “ where she prayed they might meet at last. There was
one Harding, who had been her father's chaplain, and " that was a zealous preacher in king Edward's days, " before whose death he had animated the people much “ to prepare for persecution and never depart from the “ truth of the gospel; but he had now fallen away him66 self. To him she wrote a letter full of severe expos, “ tulations and threatnings for his apostacy; but it had no effect
him. It is of an extraordinary strain, “ full of life in the thoughts, and of zeal, if there is not “ too much in the expressions. The night before her « execution she sent her Greek Testament, which she “had always used, to her sister, with a letter, in which, “ in most pathetic expressions, she sets out the value “ she had of it, and recommended the study and prac" tice of it earnestly to her. She had also composed a « devout prayer for her retirements, and thus had she
spent the last moments of her life."*
I cannot restrain myself from adding what the same bishop, in another place, says concerning her, which, if it is a digression in the order of our account of this lady, it will be more than excused for the excellency of the character this celebrated historian draws of her. " She read," says he, “ the scriptures much, and had “ attained great knowledge in divinity. But with all 6 these advantages of birth and parts she was so humble,
so gentle, and pious, that all people both admired and o loved her. She had a mind wonderfully raised above " the world, and at the age, when others are but imso bibing the notions of philosophy, she had attained to 66 the practice of the highest precepts of it. She was 66 neither lifted up with the hope of a crown, nor cast 66 down when she saw her palace made afterwards her “ prison; but carried herself with an equal temper of 66 mind in those great inequalities of fortune, that so “ suddenly exalted and depressed her. All the passion
* History of the Reformation, Vol. 11. p. 271, 272.
“ she expressed in it was that which is of the noblest
sort, and is the indication of tender and generous natures, being much affected with the troubles into which her husband and father fell on her account."*
We are now to attend this excellent lady to her closing scene, and view in what manner she met her violent, though unmerited death. The day fiually appointed for her execution, as well as that of her husband, Lord Dudley, was the 12th of February, 1554. The fatal morning being come, her husband earnestly desired the officers that he might take his last farewell of her, which, tho' they readily permitted, yet, upon notice, she advised the contrary, assuring him, “That such a meeting " would rather add to his afflictions, than increase that is
quiet wherewith they had possessed their souls for the “ stroke of death, that he demanded a lenitive which
would put fire into the wound, and that it was to be * feared her presence would rather weaken than
strengthen him; that if his soul were not firm and
settled, she could not settle it by her eyes, nor confirm " it by her words; that he would do well to remit this “ interview to the other world, that there indeed friend. " ships were happy and unions indissolvable, and that " theirs would be eternal, if they carried with them
nothing of terrestrial, which might hinder them from ? rejoicing.” She expressed great tenderness when she saw her husband led out to execution; but soon overcame it, when she considered how closely she was to follow him. All she could do was to give him a farewell out of a window as he passed towards the place of his execution, which he suffered on a scaffold on Tower-hill, with much christian meekness. His dead body being laid in a car, and his head wrapped up in a linen cloth, were carried to the chapel within the Tower, in the way to which they were to pass under the window of Lady Jane, which sad spectacle she beheld with a settled countenance. After this affecting sight, she wrote three short sentences in her table-book, in Greek, Latin, and English, which book,
* History of the Reformation, Vol. 11. p. 234, 235.
66 If my
upon Sir John Bridges's entreaty, (who was at that time lieutenant of the tower,) that she should bestow on him some memorial, she presented to him as an acknowledge ment for the civility she had received from him. The sense of the Greek sentence was, “ If his slain body “ shall give testimony against me before men, his most 66 blessed soul shall render an eternal proof of my inno
cence in the presence of God.” The Latin sentence was to this effect: 6 The justice of men took away his “i body, but the divine mercy has preserved his soul.”And the English sentence ran
fault de“ served punishment, my youth, at least, and my im“ prudence, were worthy of excuse. God and posterity 66 will shew me favour.”
She was led out by the lieutenant of the tower to the scaffold that was prepared upon the green, over against the white tower. It is said, that the court had once taken a resolution to have her beheaded upon the same scaffold with her husband; but, considering how much they were both pitied, and how generally Lady Jane was beloved, it was determined, to prevent any commotions, that her execution should be performed within the tower. She was attended to and upon the scaffold by Mr. Feckenham; but she was observed not to give much heed to his discourses, keeping her eyes fixed upon a book of prayers she had in her hand. After some short recollection she saluted those who were present with a countenance perfectly composed; then taking her leave of Mr. Feckenham, she said, "God will abundantly requite you, good “ Sir, for your humanity to me, though your discourses
gave me more uneasiness than the terrors of my ap“ proaching death."
She next addressed herself to the spectators in the following speech:
“ My Lords, and you good christian people which
come to see me die, I am under a law, and by that “ law, as a never-erring judge, I am condemned to die; 66. not for
any thing I have offended the queen's majesty, 66 for I will wash my hands guiltless thereof, and deliver God a soul as pure
from such trespass as innow
“ cence from injustice; but only for that I consented to “ the thing I was forced unto, constraint making the law (6 believe I did that which I never understood. Notwith“ standing I have offended Almighty God in that I have “ followed over-much the lust of my own flesh, and the “ pleasures of this wretched world; neither have I lived
according to the knowledge that God hath given me, “ for which cause God hath appointed to me this kind of “ death, and that most worthily according to my deserts; “ howbeit I thank him heartily that he hath given me “ time to repent of my sins here in this world, and to “ reconcile myself to my Redeemer, whom my former “ vanities had in a great measure displeased.
" Wherefore, my lords, and all you good christian “ people, I most earnestly desire you all to pray with
me, and for me, while I am yet alive, that God
of his infinite goodness and mercy will forgive my sins, " bow numberless and grievous soever against him; and “ I beseech you all to bear me witness, that I here die a « true christian woman, professing and avouching from “ my soul that I trust to be saved by the blood, passion, " and merits of Jesus Christ, my Saviour, only, and " by no other means, casting far behind me all the works “ and merits of miné own actions, as things so short of “ the true duty I owe, that I quake to think how much “ they may stand up against me."
Having delivered this speech, she kneeled down and repeated the fifty-first psalm in a most devout manner, from beginning to end; after which she stood up, and gave her gloves and her handkerchief to her women, Mrs. Eliz. Tilney, and Mrs. Helen, and her prayer-book to Sir John Bridges. On her untying her gown, the executioner offered to assist her; but she desired him to let her alone, and turning herself to her women, they helped her off with it, and gave her an handkerchief to bind about her eyes. The executioner kneeling down requested her forgiveness, which she most willingly gave him. Upon this he desired her to stand upon the straw, which bringing her within sight of the block, she said, “ I pray dispatch me quickly." Then kneeling down,
she asked him, “ Will you take it off before I lay me “ down?" To which the executioner replied, No, Madam." She then tied her handkerchief about her eyes, and feeling for the block, said, “ What shall I do? where is it?" upon which one of the standers-by guiding her to it, she laid her head down upon the block, and then stretched herself forward, and said, “ Lord, into thine hands I commend my spirit," and immediately the executioner, at one stroke, severed her head from her body.
Thus fell this most accomplished lady, resigning her life in a manner worthy of her employing and improving it; “ and a true christian faith," as one observes, " having “ uniformly produced a christian life, with what triumph “ did it trample on the sting of death, and spread a “ glory round the Lady Jane, that eclipsed the faint lustre “ of the superstitious and cruel Queen Mary on her 6 throne."*
The following verges were written by Lady Jane in the place of her confinement, and it is said with a pin.
Non aliena putes homini quæ obtingere possunt :
To.morrow may be drunk by thee.
Post tenebras spero lucem.
As the Earl of Pembroke is a conspicuous Character in the following Drama, it seems desirable to give some account of him as he really appears in history.
* Dr. Glocester Ridley’s Life of Bishop Ridley, p. 427