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least, to 408 in number. Many educational works were printed at his press, as vocabularies, accidences - some with the titles “ Milk for Children,” “Orchards of Words,” “Promptuaries” for little children, “Lucidaries." What a boon would these books be to the children of that time, and to their teachers ! To borrow, with much difficulty, a manuscript grammar, and to transcribe it, was the only method previously adopted by either the teachers or the taught. And even in the universities, the time and opportunity for reading was limited by many restrictions: 1446, by the statutes of St. Mary's College, Oxford, it was enacted, that “ No scholar shall occupy a book in the library above one hour, or two hours at most, lest others should be hindered from the use of the same.”
It is not surprising that a very great zeal for learning should spring up at this time. The difficulties that had previously obstructed every step in the path of knowledge were being removed, and a spirit of energy and emulation arose that brought about wonderful changes in the course of the century that now commenced.
Richard Pynson, a Norman by birth, and also an assistant of Caxton, introduced the Roman letter into this country. His books are not thought such admirable specimens of typography as De Worde's, but they fully equalled his in
usefulness. The first treatise of arithmetic ever published in this country was printed by Pynson; it was written by Cuthbert Tonstall, Bishop of London.
Thomas Hunt, an Englishman, was one of the first known printers at Oxford, and John Sibert, a native of Lyons, it is said, at Cambridge. Besides these universities, St. Alban’s, York, and Tavistock, were the first towns in the provinces where printing presses were set up.
From this time thoughts were perpetuated, and knowledge became free; and persecution and injustice received a powerful check. To what purpose was it to kill the body of some gifted thinker, when his opinions could be multiplied and dispersed every where? It was not kings and councils, but the printing press, that made the people ripe for, and brought about, the Reformation. Well might Wynkyn de Worde have “ The Sun” as the sign of his printing office:all nature could not furnish a symbol more appropriate of that art, which was to disperse the darkness and mists of ignorance, and spread a genial flood of light over the world.
It has been matter of surprise to thoughtful readers, that the English language which, at the time of the introduction of printing, was so rude, should, in little more than a hundred years after that event, have attained to such an elegance and power that many of the writings in prose and poetry of the time of Elizabeth and James are models of composition rarely equalled, and never surpassed, even to this day.
The first effect of the art of printing was to advance education: schools became more general, books of instruction more attainable ; added to which there was the impetus of novelty, stimulating curiosity and energy. Women of high rank in England had never been indifferent to the progress of literature; but in this sixteenth century they not only admired learning and knowledge in others, — they were induced, by the new facilities afforded, to cultivate them for themselves. Hence, among the collateral aids to the wonderful advancement of mind at that period, the educational attainments of some influential women must be admitted.
The patronage of scholastic institutions by women during the middle ages must ever remain a satisfactory proof of their zeal to promote the intellectual advancement of the nation. Queens, indeed, might found colleges, as much because of the responsibilities of a high station, as from a real love of learning; but there have been many female patrons of education of humbler rank than princesses.
The history of the two universities is a testimony to the ardour for the advancement of learning that dwelt in many female minds. At Oxford: Merton College, whose chief benefactress was Ella Longespee, Countess of Warwick; Baliol College, completed by the piety of Lady Dervorguilla, and most liberally endowed by her; Trinity* and Wadham † Colleges, both completed by widows, who nobly carried out their deceased husbands' intentions, and with even enlarged liberality. The female name is fully as conspicuous at Cambridge: Emanuel College, Clare Hall, Pembroke Hall, Queen's College, Christ's College, St. John's College, Sydney Sussex College, are the noble and enduring monuments that attest the munificence of women in promoting education.
* Lady Paulet.
† Lady Wadman.
Among the illustrious women who adorned the age immediately following the introduction of printing are the daughters of Sir Thomas More, particularly his favourite child and counsellor Mrs. Margaret Roper, whom the learned Erasmus called “ The Glory of Britain," for her attainments doubtless, as, at the time the scholar uttered the eulogium, her filial piety had not been so tested by the misfortunes of her father. There was also Queen Katherine Parr, a patroness of the Reformation; and, later, that admirable and innocent victim of the cruel ambition of her kindred, Lady Jane Grey, who was the theme of praise of all competent to judge of her marvellous acquirements. The four daughters of Sir Anthony Cook were also distinguished for learning. One of these, Mildred, became Lady Burleigh, the wife of Elizabeth's prime minister; another, Lady Bacon, the mother and instructress of England's great experimental philosopher. The royal pupil of the learned Roger Ascham, Queen Elizabeth, both by precept and example, encouraged a taste for literary pursuits; and it is fair to conclude that one reason why the men of that time became so distinguished, was because they had help-meet in the intelligence of the women of the period.
Woman was not, however, so successful in contributing to, as in the patronage of, literature