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CITY HEIRESS IN THE SIXTEENTH CENTURY. The following letter, written by the only daughter and heiress of Sir John Spencer, lord mayor of London, better known by the name of “Rich Spencer,” furnishes a curious specimen of the state in which a rich city heiress of the sixteenth century expected to be maintained after her marriage with a branch of the nobility. My sweete Life,
“ Now I have declared to you my mind for the settling of your state, I supposed that it were best for me to bethink, or consider with myself, what allowance were meetest for me. For, considering what care I ever had of your estate, and how respectfully I dealt with those, which, by the laws of God, of nature, and civil polity, wit, religion, government, and honesty, you, my dear, are bound to, I pray and beseech you to grant to me, your most kind and loving wife, the sum of £1600 per ann. quarterly to be paid.
“ Also, I would (besides the allowance for my apparel) have £600 added yearly (quarterly to be paid) for the performance of charitable works, and those things I would not, neither will be accountable for.
“ Also, I will have three horses for my own saddle, that none shall dare to lend or borrow: none lend but I; none borrow but you.
“ Also, I would have two gentlewomen, lest one should be sick, or have some other lett. Also, believe that it is an indecent thing for a gentlewoman to stand mumping alone, when God hath blessed their lord and lady with a great estate.
“ Also, when I ride a hunting, or hawking, or travel from one house to another, I will have them attending ; so, for either of these said women, I must and will have for either of them a horse.
“ Also, I will have six or eight gentlemen; and I will have my two coaches,-one lined with velvet, to myself, with four
very fair horses, and a coach for my women, lined with cloth; one laced with gold, the other with scarlet, and laced with watch-lace and silver, with four good horses.
Also, I will have two coachmen; one for my own coach, the other for my women's.
“ Also, at any time when I travel, I will be allowed, not only carriages and spare horses for me and my women, but I will have such carriages as shall be fitting for all, or duly; not pestering my things with my women's, nor theirs with chambermaids', or their's with washmaids'.
Also, for laundresses, when I travel, I will have them sent away with the carriages, to see all safe ; and the chambermaids I will have go before with the grooms, that the chambers may be ready, sweet, and clean.
“ Also, for that it is indecent to crowd up myself with my gentleman usher in my coach, I will have him to have a convenient horse to attend me either in city or country; and I must have two footmen; and my desire is, that you defray all the charges for me.
“ And, for myself, (besides my yearly allowance,) I would have twenty gowns of apparel; six of them excellent good ones, eight of them for the country, and six others of them very excellent good ones.
“ Also, I would have put into my purse £2000 and £200, and so you to pay my debts.
“Also, I would have £6000 to buy me jewels, and £4000 to buy me a pearl chain.
“Now, seeing I have been and am so reasonable unto you, I pray you do find my children apparel, and their schooling; and all my servants, men and women, their wages.
“ Also, I will have all my houses furnished, and all my lodging-chambers to be suited with all such furniture as is fit; as beds, stools, chairs, suitable cushions, carpets, silver warming pans, cupboards of plate, fair hangings, and such like. So, for my drawing-chamber, in all houses, I will have them delicately furnished, both with hangings, couch, canopy, glass, chairs, cushions, and all things thereunto belonging.
Also, my desire is, that you would pay your debts, build Ashby-house, and purchase lands, and lend no money (as you love God) to the lord chamberlain,* which would have all, perhaps your life, from you. Remember his son, my lord Waldon, what entertainment he gave me when you were at Tilt-yard. If you were dead, he said, he would marry me. I protest, I grieve to see the poor man have so little wit and honesty, to use his friends so vilely. Also, he fed me with untruths concerning the Charter-house ; but that is the least : he wished me much harm; you know him.
God keep you and me from him, and such as he is.
So, now that I have declared to you what I would have, and what that is I would not have, I pray, when you be an earl, to allow me £1000 more than now desired, and double attendance.”
“ Your loving wife,
Harleian MSS. 7003.
Thomas Howard, Earl of Suffolk, made Lord Treasurer in 1613.
In Nelson's History of Islington, there are some interesting particulars respecting Sir John Spencer. It appears that he was a citizen and clothworker, `alderman of the city of London, sheriff in 1583, and elected lord mayor at Michaelmas, 1594. He was possessed of much public spirit, loyalty, and patriotism; and in 1603, he lodged and splendidly entertained, at his town residence in Crosby-square, the French ambassador, the marquis Rosney, (afterwards duke of Sully,) and all his retinue. This eminent citizen died March 30, 1609. His funeral was attended by thousands of persons; and three hundred and twenty poor men had each a basket given them, containing “ a blacke gown, four pounds of beef, two loaves of bread, a little bottle of wine, a candlestick, a pound of candles, two saucers, two spoons, a black pudding, a pair of gloves, a dozen of points, two redherrings, four white-herrings, six sprats, and two eggs.
Sir John Spencer is said to have died worth £800,000, including £130,000 in bonds; and this immense wealth, coming into the possession of lord Compton by his marriage with Sir John's only daughter, is said to have distracted his lordship. A pleasant anecdote is related of this match, which places the character of queen Elizabeth in a very amiable light. Sir John Spencer was so much incensed with the elopement of his daughter, who had gone off with lord Compton, that he totally discarded her, until a reconciliation took place by the interposition of queen Elizabeth. To effect this, a little stratagem is said to have been resorted to. When the matrimonial fruit was ripe, the queen requested that Sir John would, with her, stand sponsor to the first offspring of a young couple, happy in their love, but discarded by their father : the knight readily complied, and her majesty dictated his own surname for the Christian name of the child. The ceremony being performed, Sir John assured the queen, that, having discarded his own daughter, he should adopt this boy as his son. The parents of the child being now introduced, the knight, to his great surprise, discovered that he had adopted his own grandson; who ultimately succeeded his father in his honours, and his grandfather in his wealth.
* Winwood's State Papers, Vol. III. p. 136.
“THE DESATIR." In the course of the year 1819, a book was brought to this country from India, called “ The Desatir, or Sacred Writings of the Persian Prophets.” The title, “ Desatir,” signifies “ Regulations ;” and this work purports to be a collection of the writings of the Persian prophets, from Mahabud to the fifth Sasan, fifteen in number, of whom Zerdusht, or Zoroaster, is the thirteenth. Sasan the Fifth lived at the time that Cherroes, king of Persia, ravaged Palestine, and was guilty of the most dreadful cruelties against the Christians. Heraclius marched against him, and took from him the holy cross.
This book is by some persons called an imposture, and orientalists are divided in opinion as to its authenticity; but that a work, accounted sacred by the ancient and modern Persians, to which the Arabic name “ Desatir” has been usually given, once existed, there can be no doubt; reference having been made to it by several Persian writers. It is equally certain, that one copy, at least, of the Desatir must have been extant in the year 1624; an author of that period having quoted from it several passages. Sir William Jones, , one of the most accomplished scholars, and a profound orientalist, sensible of the value of this singular relic of antiquity, employed, but without success, the most diligent research to discover a copy. Whether the one accidentally found since his death, and which has been presented to the public, be, or be not authentic, is therefore the only question; and, notwithstanding the doubts urged against it, after the most strict examination of its external and internal evidence, it has been received as authentic by some of the most eminent oriental scholars in India.
The marquis of Hastings, in his address at the visitation of the college of Fort William, in the year 1816, after congratulating the literary world on the recovery of a work which had for some time been lost, speaks of it in the following terms : “ The Desatir, which purports to be a collection of the elder Persian prophets, will be peculiarly an object of curiosity with the learned of Europe, as well as of this country; for it is unquestionably the only relic which exists of the literature of that period of Persian history which is familiar to us from its connection with the history of Greece.”
The language of the Desatir is asserted to be the ancient Persian, the knowledge of which is lost, and which, but for the translation and commentary of the fifth Sasan into modern
Persian, could not have been understood.
Although the latest of the Persian prophets mentioned in the Desatir lived upwards of three centuries before the Christian era, yet several passages in it bear a strong and extraordinary resemblance to passages in the scripture, and a striking allusion to the doctrine of Christianity, and the events connected with their propagation. The following reference to our Saviour is found in the commentary of Shet Sasan the First.
“ For some established a code of laws among the Shudyars (Jews), and sought pre-eminence among that class. Thereafter, there was a man who called them all unto him, and said: 'I am the son of Yesdam.' At length they slew him, and thereafter his religion was published ; and, at the present day, the Rumis are of his faith."
The following allusions to a future state of rewards and punishments are not less remarkable :
“The raptures thence arising, no transport of the lower world can equal, the tongue cannot express, nor the ear hear, nor the eye see such ecstasy.
“ Mezdam separated man from the other animals by the distinction of a soul, which is a free and independent substance, without a body, or any thing material ; indivisible, and without position, whereby he attaineth the glory of angels.
“ If he doeth good in the elemental body, and possesseth useful knowledge, and acts aright; when he putteth off the inferior body, I will introduce him into the abode of angels, that he may see me with the nearest angels. And every one, according to his knowledge and actions, shall assume his place in the regions of intelligence, or soul, or heaven, or star, and shall spend eternity in that blessed abode.
“If a man be possessed of excellent knowledge, yet follows a wicked course of action, when this vile body is dissolved, he doth not get another elemental body, nor doth his soul get admittance into the upper abode. But, far from the happy abode, and from Mezdam and the angels, and from a material body, he broileth in tormenting flame, and this is the most horrible stage of hell.
“ The Lord of Being created his servant free: if he doeth good he gaineth heaven; if evil, he becometh an inhabitant of hell.
“ Stand in dread of guilt, and deem the smallest offence great, for a slight ailment becometh a dreadful disease. Be not without hope of his mercy.”