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A numeral pound in king Henry's time contained, as now, twenty fhillings; and therefore it must be inquired what twenty fhillings could perform. Breadcorn is the most certain ftandard of the neceffaries of life. Wheat was generally fold at that time for one fhilling the bufhel: if therefore we take five fhillings the bufhel for the current price, ten pounds were equivalent to fifty. But here is danger of a fallacy. It may be doubted, whether wheat was the general breadcorn of that age; and if rye, barley, or oats, were the common food, and wheat, as I fufpect, only a delicacy, the value of wheat will not regulate the price of other things. This doubt is however in favour of Afcham; for if we raise the worth of wheat, we raise that of his penfion.

But the value of money has another variation, which we are still lefs able to ascertain: the rules of custom, or the different needs of artificial life, make that revenue little at one time which is great at another. Men are rich and poor, not only in proportion to what they have, but to what they want. In fome ages, not only neceffaries are cheaper, but fewer things are neceffary. In the age of Afcham, moft of the elegancies and expences of our prefent fashions were unknown: commerce had not yet diftributed fuperfluity through the lower claffes of the people, and the character of a student implied frugality, and required no splendour to support it. His penfion, therefore, reckoning together the wants which he could fupply, and the wants from which he was exempt, may be estimated, in my opinion, at more than one hundred pounds a year; which, added to the income of his fellowship, put him far enough above distress.

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This was an year of good fortune to Afcham. He was chofen orator to the univerfity on the removal of Sir John Cheke to court, where he was made tutor to prince Edward. A man once diftinguished foon gains admirers. Afcham was now received to notice by many of the nobility, and by great ladies, among whom it was then the fashion to study the ancient languages. Lee, archbishop of York, allowed him an yearly penfion; how much we are not told. He was, probably about this time employed in teaching many illuftrious perfons to write a fine hand; and, among others, Henry and Charles, dukes of Suffolk, the princess Elizabeth, and prince Edward.

Henry VIII. died two years after, and a reformation of religion being now openly prosecuted by king Edward and his council, Afcham, who was known to favour it, had a new grant of his pension, and continued at Cambridge, where he lived in great familiarity with Bucer, who had been called from Germany to the profefforship of divinity. But his retirement was soon at an end; for in 1548 his pupil Grindal, the master of the princefs, Elizabeth, died, and the princefs, who had already fome acquaintance with Afcham, called him from his college to direct her ftudies. He obeyed the fummons, as we may eafily believe, with readiness, and for two years inftructed her with great diligence but then, being difgufted either by her or her domesticks, or perhaps eager for another change of life, hè left her without her confent, and returned to the univerfity. Of this precipitation he long repented; and, as those who are not accustomed to difrefpect cannot eafily forgive it, he probably felt the effects of his im prudence to his death.


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After having visited Cambridge, he took a journey into Yorkshire, to fee his native place, and his old acquaintance, and there received a letter from the court, informing him, that he was appointed fecretary to Sir Richard Morifine, who was to be dispatched as ambaffador into Germany. In his return to London he paid that memorable vifit to lady Jane Gray, in which he found her reading the Phado in Greek, as he has related in his Schoolmaster.

In the year 1550, he attended Morifine to Germany, and wandered over a great part of the country, making obfervations upon all that appeared worthy of his curiofity, and contracting acquaintance with men of learning. To his correfpondent Sturmius he paid a vifit, but Sturmius was not at home, and thofe two illuftrious friends never faw each other. During the course of this embaffy, Afcham undertook to improve Morifine in Greek, and for four days in the week explained fome pages of Herodotus every morning, and more than two hundred verfes of Sophocles or Euripides every afternoon. He read with him likewife fome of the orations of Demofthenes. On the other days he compiled the letters of business, and in the night filled up his diary, digefted his remarks, and wrote private letters to his friends in England, and particularly to thofe of his college, whom he continually exhorted to perseverance in study. Amidst all the pleasures of novelty which his travels fupplied, and in the dignity of his public fta. tion, he preferred the tranquillity of private ftudy, and the quiet of academical retirement. The reasonablenefs of this choice has been always difputed; and in the contrariety of human interefts and difpofitions, the controverfy will not eafily be decided.

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He made a fhort excurfion into Italy, and mentions in his Schoolmaster with great feverity the vices of Venice. He was defirous of vifiting Trent while the council were fitting; but the fcantinefs of his purse defeated his curiofity.

In this journey he wrote his Report and difcourfe of the affairs in Germany, in which he describes the difpofitions and interests of the German princes like a man inquifitive and judicious, and recounts many particularities which are loft in the mass of general history, in a ftyle which to the ears of that age was undoubtedly mellifluous, and which is now a very valuable specimen of genuine English.

By the death of king Edward in 1553, the Reformation was stopped, Morifine was recalled, and Afcham's penfion and hopes were at an end. He therefore retired to his fellowship in a state of disappointment and defpair, which his biographer has endeavoured to exprefs in the deepeft ftrain of plaintive declamation. "He was deprived of all his fupport," fays Graunt, "ftripped of his penfion, and cut off from the affif"tance of his friends, who had now loft their influence; "fo that he had NEC PRÆMIA NEC PRÆDIA, neither "pension nor eftate to fupport him at Cambridge." There is no credit due to a rhetorician's account either of good or evil. The truth is, that Afcham ftill had in his fellowship all that in the early part of his life had given him plenty, and might have lived like the other inhabitants of the college, with the advantage of more knowledge and higher reputation. But notwithstanding his love of academical retirement, he had now too long enjoyed the pleafures and feftivities of pub


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lick life, to return with a good will to academical po


He had however better fortune than he expected; and, if he lamented his condition like his hiftorian, better than he deserved. He had during his abfence in Germany been appointed Latin fecretary to king Edward; and by the intereft of Gardiner, bishop of Winchester, he was inftated in the fame office under Philip and Mary, with a falary of twenty pounds a year.

Soon after his admiffion to his new employment, he gave an extraordinary fpecimen of his abilities and diligence, by compofing and tranfcribing with his ufual elegance, in three days, forty-feven letters to princes and perfonages, of whom cardinals were the lowest.

How Afcham, who was known to be a Proteftant, could preferve the favour of Gardiner, and hold a place of honour and profit in queen Mary's court, it must be very natural to inquire. Cheke, as is well known, was compelled to a recantation; and why Afcham was fpared, cannot now be difcovered. Graunt, at a time when the tranfactions of queen Mary's reign must have been well enough remembered, declares, that Afcham always made open profeffion of the Reformed religion, and that Englesfield and others often endeavoured to incite Gardiner against him, but found their accufations rejected with contempt: yet he allows, that fufpicions and charges of temporization and compliance had fomewhat fullied his reputation. The author of the Biographia Britannica conjectures, that he owed his fafety to his innocence and ufefulnefs; that it would have been unpopular to attack a man fo little S s 4 liable

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