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"Now from all parts the swelling kennels flow,
And bear their trophies with them as they go:
Filth of all hues and odours seem to tell
What street they sail'd from, by their sight and smell ...
Sweepings from butchers' stalls, dung, guts, and blood,
Drown'd puppies, shaking sprats, all drenched in mud,
Dead cats, and turnip tops, come tumbling down the flood."

-- Jonathan Swift (describing the Fleet River)

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Chapter 1.2

Page: 1/4
(3177 total words in this text)
(13 Reads)   

HE tragic events which rendered Elizabeth motherless in her third year, and degraded her from the lofty position in which she had been placed by the unjust but short-lived paternal fondness of her capricious father, have been fully detailed in the memoir of her unhappy mother, Anne Boleyn. By the sentence which Cranmer had passed on the marriage of her parents and her own birth, Elizabeth was branded with the stigma of illegitimacy; and that she was for a time exposed to the sort of neglect and contempt which is too often the lot of children to whom that reproach applies, is evidenced by the following letter from lady Bryan to Cromwell, imploring for a supply of necessary raiment for the innocent babe who had been so cruelly involved in her mother's fall:-

"After my most bounden duty I recommend me to your good lordship, beseeching you to be good lord to me, now in the greatest need that ever was; for it hath pleased God to take from me her that was my greatest comfort in this world, to my great heaviness. Jesu have mercy her soul! and now I am succourless, and as a redles [without redress] creature but only from the great trust which I have in the king's grace and your good lordship, for now in you I put all my whole trust of comfort in this world.
"My lord, when your lordship was last here, it pleased you to say that I should not mistrust the king's grace nor your lordship, which word was more comfort to me than I can write, as God knoweth. And now it boldeth [emboldens] me to show you my poor mind. My lord, when my lady Mary's grace was born, it pleased the king's grace to appoint me ladymistress, and made me a baroness; and so I have been governess to the children his grace have had since.
"Now it is so, my lady Elizabeth is put from that degree she was afore, and what degree she is at [of] now, I know not but by hearsay. Therefore I know not how to order her, nor myself, nor none of hers that I have the rule of, -that is, her women and grooms, beseeching you to be good lord to my lady, and to all hers, and that she may have some raiment." [Note 1]
Here Strype has interpolated a query for mourning: there is nothing of the kind implied in the original. The list shows the utter destitution the young princess had been suffered to fall into in regard to clothes, either by the neglect of her mother, or because Anne Boleyn's power of aiding her child had been circumscribed long before her fall. Any lady used to the nursery who reads over the list of the poor child's wants, represented by her faithful governess, will perceive that a twelvemonth must have elapsed since she had a proper supply.

"She," continues lady Bryan, "hath neither gown, nor kirtle [slip], nor petticoat, nor no manner of linen,-nor forsmocks [day chemisss], nor kerchiefs, nor rails [night dresses], nor body-stichets [corsets], nor handkerchiefs, nor sleeves, nor mufflers [mobcaps], nor biggens [night-caps]. All these her grace must take. I have driven off as long as I can, that, by my troth, I can drive it off no longer. Beseeching you, my lord, that ye will see that her grace may have that which is needfull for her, as my trust is that ye will do. Beseeching ye, mine own good lord, that I may know from you, by writing, how I shall order myself and what is the king's grace's pleasure and yours; and that I shall do in every thing. * * * *
"My lord, Mr. Shelton would have my lady Elizabeth to dine and sup every day at the board of estate. Alas: my lord, it is not meet for a child of her age to keep such rule yet. I promise you, my lord, I dare not take it upon me to keep her grace in health, an' she keep that rule. For there she shall see divers meats, and fruits, and wine, which it would be hard for me to restrain her grace from. Ye know, my lord, there is no place of correction there; and she is yet too young to correct greatly. I know well, an' she be there, I shall neither bring her up to the king's grace's honour nor hers, nor to her health, nor to my poor honesty.
"Wherefore, I show your lordship this my desire, beseeching you, my lord, that my lady may have a mess of meat at her own lodging, with a good dish or two that is meet [fit] for her grace to eat of; and the reversion of the mess shall satisfy all her women, a gentleman usher, and a groom, which be eleven persons on her side. Sure am I it will be as great profit to the king's grace this way, [viz. to the economy of the arrangement,] as the other way. For if all this should be set abroad, they must have three or four messes of meat; whereas this one mess shall suffice them all, with bread and drink, according as my lady Mary's grace had afore, and to be ordered in all things as her grace was afore.
"God knoweth my lady [Elizabeth] hath great pain with her great teeth, and they come very slowly forth, which causeth me to suffer her grace to have her will more than I would. I trust to God, an' her teeth were well graft to have her grace after another fashion than she is yet, so as I trust the king's grace shll have great comfort in her grace. For she is as toward a child, and as gentle of conditions, as ever I knew any in my life. Jesu preserve her grace!
"As for a day or two, at a high time, [meaning a high festival,] or whensoever it shall please the king's grace to have her set abroad, [shown in public,] I trust as to endeavour me, that she shall so do as shall be to the king's honour and hers; and then after to take her ease again."


1 [ Cott. MS., Otho, E, c. x. fol. 230,] Back

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