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the flattering allurements of ambition, and the information of her advancement to the throne was by no means agreeable to her. She even refused to accept of the crown; pleaded the preferable right of the two princesses; expressed her dread of the consequences attending an enterprise so dangerous, not to say so criminal, and desired to remain in that private station in which she was born. Overcome at last with the entreaties, rather than reasons, of her father and father-in-law, and, above all, of her husband, she submitted to their will
, and was prevailed on tó relinquish her own judgment. But her elevation was of short continuance. The nation declared for Queen Mary, and the Lady Jane, after wearing the vain pageantry of a crown during ten days, returned to a private life with much more satisfaction than she felt when royalty was tendered to her.
Queen Mary, who appears to have been incapable of generosity or clemency, determined to remove every person from whom the least danger could be apprehended. Warning was, therefore, given to Lady Jane to prepare for death-a doom which she had expected, and which the innocence of her life, as well as the misfortunes to which she had been exposed, rendered no unwelcome news to her. The queen’s bigoted zeal, under colour of tender mercy to the prisoner's soul, induced her to send priests, who molested her with perpetual disputation ; and even reprieve of three days was granted her, in hopes that she would be persuaded, during that time, to pay by a timely conversion to Popery some regard for her eternal welfare. Lady Jane had presence of mind in those melancholy circumstances not only to defend her religion by solid arguments, but also to write a letter to her sister in the Greek language, in which, besides sending her a copy of the Scriptures in that tongue, she exhorted her to retain in every fortune a like steady perseverance.
On the day of her execution, her husband, Lord Guilford, desired permission to see her; but she refused her consent, and sent him word that the tenderness of their parting would overcome the fortitude of both, and would too much unbend their mind from that constancy which their
approaching end required of them. Their separation, she said, would only be for a moment, and they would soon rejoin each other in a scene where their affections would be for ever united, and where death, disappointment, and misfortunes could no longer have access to them disturb their eternal felicity.
It had been intended to execute Lord Guilford and the Lady Jane together on the same scaffold at Tower Hill, but the Council, dreading the compassion of the people for their youth, beauty, innocence, and noble birth, changed their orders, and gave directions that she should be beheaded within the verge of the Tower. She saw her husband led to execution, and having given him from the window some token of her remembrance, she waited with tranquillity till her own appointed hour should bring her to a like fate, and found herself more confirmed by the reports which she heard of the constancy of his end than shaken by so tender and melancholy, a spectacle. Sir John Gage, constable of the Tower, when he led her to execution, desired her to bestow on him some small present, which he might keep as a memorial of her. She gave him her table-book, in which she had just written three sentences, on seeing her husband's dead body, one in Greek, another in Latin, and a third in English. The purport of them was, “that human justice was against his body, but the divine mercy would be favourable to his soul; and that if her fault deserved punishment, her youth, at least, and her imprudence, were worthy of excuse, and that God and posterity, she trusted, would show her favour."
On the scaffold she made a speech to the bystanders, in which the mildness of her disposition led her to take the blame entirely on herself, without uttering one complaint against the severity with which she had been treated. She said that her offence was not in having laid her hand upon the crown, but in not rejecting it with sufficient constancy ; that she had less erred through ambition than through reverence to her parents, whom she had been taught to respect and obey ; that she willingly received death as the only satisfaction which she could now make
to the injured State ; and though her infringement of the laws had been constrained, she would show, by her voluntary submission to their sentence, that she was desirous to atone for that disobedience into which too much filial piety had betrayed her; that she had justly deserved this punishment for being made the instrument, though the unwilling instrument, of the ambition of others; and that the story of her life, she hoped, might at least be useful, by proving that innocence excuseth not great misdeeds, if they tend in any way to the destruction of the commonwealth. After uttering these words she caused herself to be disrobed by her women, and with a steady, serene countenance, submitted herself to the executioner.
When storms prepare to part,
To teach me what thou art.
A midway station given,
Betwixt the earth and heaven.
Thy form to please me so,
Hid in thy radiant bow?
Enchantment's veil withdraws,
To cold material laws !
But words of the Most High,
Was woven in the sky.
When o'er the green undeluged earth,
Heaven's covenant thou didst shine,
To watch thy sacred sign !
And when its yellow lustre smiled
O’er mountains yet untrod,
To bless the bow of God.
Methinks, thy jubilee to keep,
The first made anthem rang
And the first poet sang.
Nor ever shall the muse's eye
Unraptured greet thy beam ;
Be still the poet's theme.
The earth to thee her incense yields,
The lark thy welcome sings,
The snowy mushroom springs.
O’er mountain, tower, and town,
A thousand fathoms down.
As fresh in yon horizon dark,
As young thy beauties seem
First sported in thy beam.
For, faithful to its sacred page,
Heaven still rebuilds thy span,
PROVISIONS AND WAGES IN THE REIGN OF
HENRY THE EIGHTH. Wheat, the price of which necessarily varied, averaged, in the middle of the fourteenth century, tenpence the bushel, barley averaging at the same time three shillings the quarter. With wheat the fluctuations were excessive ; a table of its possible variations describes it as ranging from eighteenpence the quarter to twenty shillings, the average, however, being six and eightpence. When the price was above this sum, the merchants might import to bring it down: when it was below this price, the farmers were allowed to export to the foreign markets ; and the same average continued to hold, with no perceptible tendency to a rise, till the close of the reign of Elizabeth.
Beef and pork were a halfpenny a pound ; mutton was three farthings. They were fixed at these prices by the 3rd of the 24th of Henry VIII. But this act was unpopular both with buyers and with sellers. The old practice had been to sell in the gross, and under that arrangement the rates had been generally lower. Stowe says : “It was this year enacted that butchers should sell their beef and mutton by weight-beef for a halfpenny the pound, and mutton for three farthings ; which, being devised for the great commodity of the realm, as it was thought, hath proved far otherwise, for at that time fat oxen were sold for sixand-twenty shillings and eightpence the piece, fat wethers for three shillings and fourpence the piece, fat calves at a like price, and fat lambs for twelvepence. The butchers of London sold penny pieces of beef for the relief of the poor, every piece two pounds and a half, sometimes three pounds for a penny, and thirteen, and sometimes fourteen, of these pieces for twelvepence ; mutton eightpence the quarter ; and a hundredweight of beef for four shillings and eightpence.” The act was repealed in consequence of the complaints against it; but the prices never fell again to what they had been, although beef, sold in the gross, could still be had for a halfpenny a pound in 1570.
Strong beer, such as we now buy for eighteenpence a gallon, was then a penny a gallon, and table-beer less than