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in our land. The first written work by an English woman dates as far back as the eighth century*, and is said to be a biographical memoir of the lives of St. Willibald and St. Wunebald, two devout men, who went on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. The writer was a resident in a convent at Heidenheim, and is supposed to have been sent there as a missionary,-a way in which women were often engaged. Thus early did “ the gift of narration,” for which women are somewhat distinguished, manifest itself. It is, however, probable that, for ages, the ruggedness of our vernacular language presented an insuperable barrier to extensive original composition; and, therefore, we are not surprised that the learned women of ancient times should have chiefly employed themselves in transcribing and translating, which they did to a very considerable extent.

During the fifteenth century one original female writer appeared: this was the Lady Juliana Berners, sister to Richard Lord Berners, and prioress of the nunnery of Sopewell, near St. Alban's. Holinshed speaks of her as “a gentlewoman endued with excellent gifts of body and mind.” She wrote, in verse, treatises on Hawking,

* “Intellectual Condition of Women in England,” in the Anglo-Saxon times. — Miss H. Lawrence.

Hunting, and Heraldry; and her works were held in such esteem that they were published when printing was first introduced, and a press set up at St. Alban’s. “ The Boke of St. Alban’s," as it was called, was published in small folio in 1495, some say 1461. There is a doubt whether these works were indeed original, or merely translations from the French, though the personal love of field-sports which characterised Juliana (strangely enough, when we consider her sacred calling and literary tastes) might be considered strong presumptive evidence that they were the genuine effusions of her mind. Warton says somewhat contemptuously, “From an abbess disposed to turn author we might more reasonably have expected a manual of meditations for the closet, or select rules for making salves, or distilling strong waters. But the diversions of the field were not thought inconsistent with the character of a religious lady of this eminent rank, who resembled an abbot in respect of exercising manorial jurisdiction, and who hawked and hunted in common with other ladies of distinction."

This book was reprinted in the reign of Queen Elizabeth, but has become very scarce: Dr. John Moore, Bishop of Norwich, had it in his library. There is another at Cambridge. The MS. that Warton quotes is in the Bodleian Library at Oxford.

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Margaret Beaufort, the patroness of letters before named, translated two devotional works from the French. She was the third female writer that England produced. Her charities were as great as her zeal for education ; but mistaken zeal and superstition were manifest in the regret she expressed that she had not lived at the time of the crusades.

We have seen that Caxton had previously printed the works of one female writer, “ Christina of Pisa," whose - wise and wholesome ,

66 proverbs” were thought worthy of being translated by so accomplished a scholar as Anthony Lord Rivers.

Lady Joanna Lumley, daughter of the Earl of Arundel, and wife of Lord Lumley, made some translations of Greek orations into Latin, and also translated the Iphigenia of Euripides into English. The date of her death is not known, but it occurred before that of her father in 1579.

Undoubtedly the most eminent female writer of the first half of the sixteenth century was Sir Thomas More's daughter, Mrs. Margaret Roper. She was the able assistant of her father. Latin epistles, orations, and poems, were the fashion of the age, and in these she excelled. Some treatises of hers were thought equal to her father's; one in particular, “ Of the four last Things,” showed so much judgment and force of reasoning, that Sir Thomas More sincerely

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protested it was better than a discourse he had written upon the same subject, and which in consequence he never finished. She translated Eusebius's Ecclesiastical History from Greek into Latin. This laborious work was afterwards translated from Latin into English by her daughter, Mary Roper. Dying at the comparatively early age of thirty-six, Mrs. Margaret Roper certainly left an imperishable name for learning, industry, and filial piety.

Her daughter, above alluded to, inherited her mother's love of learning. Neither mother nor daughter, however, left any evidence that they favoured the fast-spreading principles of the Reformation.

In 1545-6, one or two years after the death of Mrs. Margaret Roper, a terrible scene was witnessed in England. Anne Askew or Ayscough, a young woman of great piety and learning, suffered martyrdom for her religious opinions. She had been a reader of the Bible from her childhood; and the doctrines of the reformers being much canvassed, she was able, from her knowledge of Scripture, to confirm the truths they taught. Domestic trials of a bitter kind mingle with the sad history of her sufferings and death for conscience sake. Her eldest sister had been betrothed to a Mr. Kyme, a zealous Romanist. The father had paid part of his daughter's marriage portion, when the death of the young lady released the


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bridegroom elect. The father, not liking to lose the portion he had paid, compelled Anne, much against her will, to accept the hand of her intended brother-in-law, he being nothing loth. Though forced into this union, the young wife fulfilled her duties in an exemplary manner; but dared not violate her conscience by conformity to her husband's religious sentiments. offended him that he drove her violently from his house, and denounced her to the priests. She came to London to seek the protection of those in power who professed to favour the Protestant

Her husband's malice, seconded by the priests, pursued her: she was examined concerning her belief, which was found, according to their notions, heretical. Imprisonment followed, no friend being permitted to speak with her. At last a cousin, Mr. Britayne, succeeded in bailing her. She was, however, apprehended again, and refusing to retract her principles, was put to the torture in the hope that she would discover the names of some ladies of quality who were of her opinion. But though racked until, as she says, she “was well-nigh dead,” she refused either to change her faith or betray her friends, and she was then sentenced to be burned. At the very stake letters were brought offering her the king's pardon if she would recant.

Her reply was

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