A deuoute treatise vpon the Pater noster, made fyrst in latyn by the moost famous doctour mayster Erasmus Roterodamus, and tourned in to englisshe by a yong vertuous and well lerned gentylwoman of. xix. yere of age
Erasmus, Desiderius, d. 1536., Roper, Margaret, 1505-1544., Hyrde, Richard.
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¶Richarde Hyrde / vnto the moost studyous and vertuous yonge mayde Fraunces. S. sendeth gretynge and well to fare.

I Haue herde many men put great dout whether it shulde be expedyent and re∣quisite or nat / a woman to haue lernyng in bokes of latyn and greke. And some vtterly affyrme that it is nat onely / no∣ther necessarye nor profytable / but also very noy∣some and ieoperdous: Allegyng for their opinion that the frayle kynde of women / beyng enclyned of their owne corage vnto vice / & mutable at eue∣ry newelty / if they shulde haue skyll in many thī¦ges / that be written in the latyn and greke tong / compiled and made with great crafte & eloquēce / where the mater is happely sōtyme more swete vnto the eare / than holsome for ye mynde / it wolde of lykelyhode / bothe enflame their stomakes a great deale the more / to that vice / that men saye they be to moche gyuē vnto of their owne nature alredy / and enstructe them also with more subti∣lyte and conueyaunce / to sette forwarde and accō∣plysshe their frowarde entente and purpose. But these men that so say / do in my iugement / eyther regarde but lytell what they speke in this mater / or els / as they be for ye more parte vnlerned / they enuy it / and take it sore to hert / that other shulde haue yt precious iewell / whiche they nother haue theym selfe / nor can fynde in their hertes to take Page  [unnumbered] the payne to gette. For fyrste / where they reken suche instabilite and mutable nature in women / they saye therin their pleasure of a contensyous mynde / for the mayntenaunce of their mater / for if they wolde loke theron with one euyn eye / and cōsydre the mater equally / they shulde fynde and well {per}ceyue / that women be nat onely of no lesse constancy and discrecion than men / but also more stedfast and sure to truste vnto / than they.

For whether I praye you was more light and more to be discōmended / Helen that with moche labour and sute / and many craftye meanes / was at the last ouercome and inticed to go away with the kynges sonne of Troye? Or Parys / whiche with ones syght of her / was so doted in her loue / that neyther the great chere and kyndenesse she∣wed vnto hym of her husbāde kyng Menelaus / nor shame of the abomynable dede / nor feare of the peryll that was lyke to come thervpon / nor the drede of god / myght let hym to conuey her a∣waye / contrary to all gentylnesse / contrary to all ryght / all lawes and conscience? Nor the woman casteth her mynde neyther to one nor other of her owne proper wyll / Whiche thyng is a sure token of an vpryght and a stedfaste mynde / but by the sute and meanes of the man: Whan he with one loke of her / is rauisshed of all his wyttes. Nowe if here parauenture a man wolde saye / yes / they be moued aswell as men / but they dissemble / for∣beare / and wyll nat vtter theyr stomakes / nother it is so cōuenyent the womā to speke as the man: Page  [unnumbered] that shall nat helpe his excuse / but rather hyndre it / for they be the more worthy to be allowed / that wyll nat be so farre ouersene in that affectiō / whi∣che is so naturally gyuen to all thynges lyuyng / but that they can remembre theyr duetie and ho∣nestie / where the man is many tymes so farre be∣side his reason / yt he seeth nother where nor whā / nother to whom / nor howe to behaue hym selfe / nother can regarde / what is comely and what is nat. For verily / it is as vncōuenient for the man to demaunde that thynge that is vnlaufull / if he coude perceyue / as for the woman. And if bothe theyr vyces were all open and shewed / the man shulde haue moche more that he ought to be asha¦med of / sauyng that he is also in that poynt worse than the woman / in as moche as she is a shamed of her faute / be it neuer so small: and he is so farre from that vertue / yt whan he hath done nought / he reioyseth of it & auaūceth hymselfe / as though it were well done. And yet he is so vnreasonable in iugyng the woman / that as Isocrates saythe wherin he hathe no consyderation / howe ofte or howe sore he offende his wyfe: He wyll nat suffre ones to be offēded hym selfe by her neuer so lytell: where he wolde that she shulde take his dedes all well in worthe. Wherfore in dede / women be in gaye case and happy / if their honestie and prayse must hange at the gyrdelles of suche people. Nowe as for lernyng / if it were cause of any yuell as they say it is / it were worse in the man than in the woman / bicause (as I haue said here before) Page  [unnumbered] he can bothe worse staye and refrayne hym selfe / than she. And moreouer than that / he cometh of∣ter and in mo occasyons thaūe the woman / in as moche / as he lyueth more forthe abrode amonge company dayly / where he shalbe moued to vtter suche crafte as he hath gotten by his lernynge. And women abyde moost at home / occupied euer with some good or necessary busynesse. And the la¦tyn and the greke tonge / I se nat but there is as lytell hurt in them / as in bokes of Englisshe and frēche / whiche men bothe rede them selfe / for the proper pastymes that be written in them / and for the witty and craftie conueyaunce of the makyn∣ges: And also can beare well ynoughe / that wo∣men rede them if they wyll / neuer so moche / whi¦che cōmoditeis be farre better handeled in the la∣tyn & greke / than any other lāgage: and in them be many holy doctours writinges / so deuout and effectuous / that who soeuer redeth them / muste nedes be eyther moche better or lesse yuell / whi∣che euery good body bothe man and woman wyll rede and folowe / rather than other. But as for that / that I here many men ley for the greattest ieo{per}dy in this mater / in good faythe to be playne me thynke it is so folysshe / yt scantly it is worthy / eyther to be rehersed or answered vnto. That is / where they saye / if their wyues coulde Latyn or greke / than myght they talke more boldely with preestes and freres / as who sayth / there were no better meanes (if they were yll dysposed) to exe∣cute their purposes / than by spekynge Latyn or Page  [unnumbered] greke / outher els / that preestes and freres were cōmenly so well lerned / that they can make their bargeyne in latyn & greke so redily / whiche thing is also farre contrary / yt I suppose nowe a dayes a man coude nat deuyse a better waye to kepe his wyfe safe from them / than if he teche her the la∣tyn and greke tonge / and suche good sciences as are written in them: the whiche nowe most parte of preestes / and specially suche as be nought / ab∣horre and flye from: ye / as faste in a maner / as they flye from beggars / that aske them almesse in the strete. And where they fynde faute with ler¦nyng / bycause they say / it engendreth wytte and crafte / there they reprehende it / for that that it is moost worthy to be commended for / and the whi∣che is one singuler cause wherfore lernyng ought to be desyred / for he that had leuer haue his wyfe a foole than a wyse woman / I holde hym worse than twyse frantyke. Also / redyng and studyeng of bokes so occupieth the mynde / that it can haue no leyser to muse or delyte in other fantasies / whā in all handy werkes / that men saye be more mete for a woman / the body may be busy in one place / and the mynde walkyng in another: & while they syt sowing & spinnyng with their fyngers / maye aste and compasse many peuysshe fantasyes in their myndes / whiche must nedes be occupyed / outher with good or badde / so long as they be wa¦kynge. And those y be yuell disposed / wyll fynde the meanes to be nought / though they can neuer a letter on the booke / and she that wyll be good / Page  [unnumbered] lernynge / shall cause her to be moche the better. For it sheweth the ymage and wayes of good ly∣uynge / euyn right as a myrrour sheweth the sy∣mylitude and proporcion of the body. And dout∣lesse / the daylye experyence prouethe / that suche as are nought / are those that neuer knewe what lernyng ment. For I neuer herde tell / nor reed of any woman well lerned / that euer was (as plen∣tuous as yuell tonges be) spotted or infamed as vicious. But on the otherside / many by their ler∣nyng taken suche encreace of goodnesse / yt many may beare them wytnesse of their vertue / of whi∣che sorte I coulde reherse a great nombre / bothe of olde tyme and late / Sauynge that I wyll be contente as for nowe / with one example of oure owne countre and tyme / that is: this gentylwo∣man / whiche translated this lytell boke herafter folowyng: whose vertuous cōuersacion / lyuyng / and sadde demeanoure / maye be profe euydente ynough / what good lernynge dothe / where it is surely roted: of whom other women may take ex∣ample of prudēt / humble / and wyfely behauour / charitable & very christē vertue / with whiche she hath with goddes helpe endeuoured her selfe / no lesse to garnisshe her soule / than it hath lyked his goodnesse with louely beauty and comelynesse / to garnysshe and sette out her body: And vndouted is it / that to thyncrease of her vertue / she hath ta∣ken and taketh no lytell occasyon of her lernyng / besydes her other manyfolde and great cōmody∣teis taken of the same / amonge whiche cōmody∣teis Page  [unnumbered] this is nat the leest / that with her vertuous / worshipfull / wyse / and well lerned husbande / she hath by the occasyon of her lernynge / and his de∣lyte therin / suche especiall conforte / pleasure / and pastyme / as were nat well possyble for one vnler∣ned couple / eyther to take togyder or to conceyue in their myndes / what pleasure is therin. Ther∣fore good Fraunces / seyng that suche frute / pro∣fite and pleasure cometh of lernyng / take uo hede vnto the leude wordes of those that dispreyse it / as verily no man dothe / saue suche as neyther ha¦ue lernyng / nor wotteth what it meaneth / which is in dede the moost parte of men / & as the moost parte and the best parte be nat alwaye of one mȳ∣de / so if this mater shulde be tryed / nat by wytte and reason / but by heedes or handes / the greater parte is lyke as it often dothe / to vanquisshe and ouercome the better / for the best {per}te (as I reken) whom I accompte the wysest of euery age / as a∣mong the Gentyls the olde philosophers / and a∣mong the christēmen / the aūcient doctors of Chri¦stes churche / all affyrme lernȳg to be very good & {pro}fitable / nat onely for men but also for women / ye whiche Plato the wyse philosopher calleth a bri∣dell for yonge people agaynst vice. Wherfore good Fraunces / take you the best parte and leaue the moost / folowe the wyse men and regarde nat the folysshe sorte / but applye all your myght / wyll / & dilygence to optayne that especiall treasure / whi∣che is delectable in youthe / cōfortable in age / and profytable at all seasons: Of whom wtout doute / Page  [unnumbered] cometh moche goodnesse and vertue. Whiche ver¦tue who so lacketh / he is without that thing that onely maketh a man: Ye and without the whiche a man is worse than an vnreasonable beest / nor ones worthy to haue the name of a man. It ma∣keth fayre and amyable / that that is of nature de¦formed: as Diogynes the philosopher / whan he sawe a yong man foule and yuell fauoured of per¦sone / but very vertuous of lyuenge: thy vertue sayd he / maketh the beautifull: And that that is goodly of it selfe alredy / it maketh more excellent and bright. Whiche as Plato ye wyse philosopher saythe / if it coude be sene with our bodily eyes / it wolde make men wondersly enamored and taken in the loue of it. Wherfore vnto those especiall gif∣tes of grace that god hath lent you / and endewed you with all / endeuer youre selfe that this precy∣ous diamōde and ornament be nat lackyng / whi∣che had / shall florisshe and lyghten all your other giftes of grace / and make them more gaye: and lacked / shall darke and blemysshe them sore. And surely the beautie of it / though ye had none other / shall gette you bothe greatter loue / more faithfull and lengar to cōtynue of all good folkes / than shall the beautie of the body / be it neuer so excellent / whose loue decayeth togyder / with it yt was the cause of it / and moost cōmenly before / as by dayly experyēce we maye se / them that go to∣guyder for the loue of the bodily beautie / within a small whyle whan their appetyte is satisfyed / repent thē selfe. But the loue that cometh by the Page  [unnumbered] meanes of vertue & goodnesse shall euer be fresshe and encrease / ryght as dothe the vertue it selfe. And it shall you come by non otherwise so redily / as if you contynue the study of lernyng / whiche you be entred well in all redy: And for your tyme and age / I wolde saye / had greatly profyted / sa∣uynge that chyldes age is so frayle accompted / that it nedeth rather monicion and cōtynuall cal∣lynge vpon / than the deserued prayse. Howe be it I haue no doute in you / whome I se naturally borne vnto vertue / and hauyng so good brīgyng vp of a babe / nat onely among your honourable vncles chyldren / of whose conuersacion and com∣pany / they that were right yuell / might take oc∣casyon of goodnesse and amendement / But also with your owne mother / of whose preceptes and teachyng / and also very vertuous lyueng / if you take hede / as I put no feare you wyll and also do / you can nat fayle to come to suche grace and good¦nesse / as I haue euer had opynion in you that ye shulde. Wherfore I haue euer in my mynde fauo∣red you / and forthered to my power your profite / and encrease thervnto / and shall as long as I se you delyte in lernynge and vertue / no kynde of payne or labour refused on my partie / that maye do you good. And as a token of my good mynde / and an instrument towarde your successe and fur¦theraunce I sende you this boke / lytell in quan∣tite but bigge in value / tourned out of latyn in to englysshe by your owne forenamed kynswoman / whole goodnesse and vertue / two thynges there Page  [unnumbered] be that let me moche to speke of. The one / bicause it were a thyng superfluous to spende many wor¦des vnto you about that mater / which your selfe knowe well ynough / by long experiēce and dayly vse. The other cause is / for I wolde eschewe the sclaundre of flatery: howe be it I count it no fla∣tery to speke good of them that deserue it / but yet I knowe that she is as lothe to haue prayse gy∣uyn her / as she is worthy to haue it / and had lea∣uer her prayse to reste in mennes hertes / than in their tonges / or rather in goddes estimacion and pleasure / than any mannes wordes or thought: and as touchynge the boke it selfe / I referre and leaue it to the iugementes of those that shall rede it / and vnto suche as are lerned / y onely name of the maker putteth out of question / the goodnesse and perfectyon of the worke / whiche as to myne owne opinyon and fantasye / can nat be amended in any poynte: And as for the translacion therof / I dare be bolde to say it / that who so lyst and well can conferre and examyne the translacyon wt the originall / he shall nat fayle to fynde that she hath shewed her selfe / nat onely erudite and elegant in eyther tong / But hath also vsed suche wysedom / suche dyscrete and substancyall iudgement in ex∣pressynge lyuely the latyn / as a man maye para∣uenture mysse in many thynges / translated and tourned by them that bare ye name of rightwise & very well lerned men: & the laboure that I haue had with it about the printing / I yelde holly and frely gyue vnto you / in whose good maners and Page  [unnumbered] vertue / as in a chylde / I haue so great affection / and vnto your good mother / vnto whom I am so moche beholden / of whose cōpany I take so great ioye and pleasure / in whose godly communyca∣cion I fynde suche spyrituall frute and swetnesse / that as ofte as I talke with her / so ofte me thȳke I fele my selfe the better. Therfore nowe good Fraunces folowe styll on her steppes / looke euer vpon her lyfe / to enfourme your owne therafter / lyke as ye wolde loke in a glasse to tyre your body by: ye / and that more diligentlye / in so moche as the beautie of the body though it be neuer so well attended / wyll soone fade and fall awaye: good ly¦uyng and vertue ones gotten tarieth styll / whose frute ye shall fele / nat onely in this worlde whiche is transytorie and of shorte contynuaunce / but al∣so in another: And also it shulde be great shame dishonestye / and rebuke vnto you borne of suche a mother / and also nourysshed vp with her owne teate / for to degenerate and go out of kynde. Be∣holde her in this age of hers / in this almost con∣tynuall disease and syckenesse / howe busye she is to lerne / and in the small tyme that she hath had / howe moche she hath yet {pro}fited in the latin tōge / howe great comforte she taketh of that lernynge that she hath gotten / and consydre therby what pleasure and profite you maye haue here after (if god lende you lyfe (as I praye he do) of the ler∣nyng that you may haue or you come to her age / if you spende your tyme well: whiche doyng you shall be able to do youre selfe good / and be great Page  [unnumbered] ioye and conforte to all your frendes / and all that euer wolde you well / among whom I wolde you shulde reken me for one / nat amonge the leest yf nat amonge the chefe: and so fare you well / myne owne good / gentyll / and fayre Fraunces.

At Chelcheth / the yere of our lorde god / a thousande fyue hun∣dred .xxiiij. The first day of Octo∣bre.