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not have much knowledge of the world; but it pleased God to command his servant Nature to endue me with a poetical and philosophical genius, even from my birth; for I did write some books in that kind before I was twelve years of age, which for want of good method and order I would never divulge. But though the world would not believe that those conceptions and fancies which I writ were my own, but transcended my capacity, yet they found fault, that they were defective for want of learning, and on the other side, they said I had pluckt feathers out of the universities; which was a very preposterous judgment. Truly, my lord, I confess that for want of scholarship, I could not express myself so well as otherwise I might have done in those philosophical writings I published first; but after I was returned with your lordship into my native country, and led a retired country life, I applied myself to the reading of philosophicalauthors, on purpose
to learn those names and words of art that are used in schools; which at first were so hard to me, that I could not understand them, but was fain to guess at the sense of them by the whole context, and so, writ them down, as I found them in those authors; at which my readers did wonder, and thought it impossible that a woman could have so much learning and understanding in terms of art and scholastical expressions; so that I and my books are like the old apologue mentioned in Æsop, of a father and his son who rid on an ass.” Here follows a long narrative of this fable, which she applies to herself in these words“ The old man seeing he could not please mankind in any manner, and having received so many blemishes and aspersions for the sake of his ass, was at last resolved to drown him when he came to the next bridge. But I am not so passionate to burn my writings for the various humours of mankind, and for their finding fault; since there is nothing in this world, be it the noblest and most commendable action whatsoever, that shall escape blameless. As for my being the true and only authoress of them, your lordship knows best; and my attending servants are witness that I have had none but my own thoughts, fancies, and speculations, to assist me; and as soon as I set them down I send them to those that are to transcribe them, and fit them for the press; whereof, since there have been several, and amongst them such as only could write a good hand, but neither understood orthography, nor had any learning (I being then in banishment, with your lordship, and not able to maintain learned secretaries) which hath been a great disadvantage to my poor works, and the cause that they have been printed so false and so full of errors; for besides that I want also skill in scholarship and true writing, I did many times not peruse the
copies that were transcribed, lest they should disturb my following conceptions ; by which neglect, as I said, many errors are slipt into my works, which yet I hope learned and impartial men will soon rectify, and look more upon
the sense than carp at words. I have been a student even from childhood; and since I have been your lordship’s wife I have lived for the most part a strict and retired life, as is best known to your lordship; and therefore my censurers cannot know much of me, since they have little or no acquaintance with me. 'Tis true I have been a traveller both before and after I was married to your lordship, and sometimes show myself at your lordship’s command in public places or assemblies, but yet I converse with few. Indeed, my lord, I matter not the censures of this age, but am rather proud of them; for it shows that my actions are more than ordinary, and according to the old proverb, It is better to be envied than pitied; for I know well that it is merely out of spite and malice, whereof this present age is so full that none can escape them, and they'll make no doubt to stain even your lordship's loyal, noble, and heroic actions, as well as they do mine; though yours have been of war and fighting, mine of contemplating and writing: yours were performed publicly in the field, mine privately in my closet; yours had many thousand eye-witnesses ; mine none but my waiting-maids. But the great God, that hitherto bless'd both your grace and me, will, I question not, preserve both our fames to after-ages.
: Your grace's honest wife,
The last portion of this life, which consists of the observations and good things which she had gathered from the conversations of her husband, forms an excellent Ana; and shows that when Lord Orford, in his “ Catalogue of Noble Authors,” says, that “this stately poetic couple was a picture of foolish nobility,” he writes, as he does too often, with extreme levity. But we must now attend to the reverse of our medal.
Many chagrins may corrode the nuptial state of literary men.
Females who, prompted by vanity, but not by taste, unite themselves to scholars, must ever complain of neglect. The inexhaustible occupations of a library will only present to such a most dreary solitude. Such a lady declared of her learned husband, that she was more jealous of his books than his mistresses. It was probably while Glover was composing his “ Leonidas,” that his lady avenged herself for this Homeric inattention to her, and took her flight with a lover. It was peculiar to the learned Dacier to be united to a woman, his equal in erudition and his superior in taste. When she wrote
in the album of a German traveller a verse from Sophocles as an apology for, her unwillingness to place herself among his learned friends, that “ Silence is the female's ornament, it was a remarkable trait of her modesty. The learned Pasquier was coupled to a female of a different character, since he tells us in one of his Epigrams that to manage the vociferations of his lady, he was compelled himself to become a vociferator. “Unfortunate wretch that I am, I who am a lover of universal peace! But to have peace I am obliged ever to be at war."
Sir Thomas More was united to a woman of the harshest temper and the most sordid manners. To soften the moroseness of her disposition," he persuaded her to play on the lute, viol, and other instruments, every day.” Whether it was that she had no ear for music, she herself never became harmonious as the instrument she touched. All these ladies may be considered as rather too alert in thought, and too spirited in action ; but a tame cuckoo bird who is always repeating the same tone must be very fatiguing. The lady of Samuel Clarke, the great compiler of books in 1680, whose name was anagrammatised to “suck all cream," alluding to his indefatigable labours in sucking all the cream of every other author, without having any cream himself, is described by her husband as having the most sublime conceptions of his illustrious compilations. This ap