Queen Elizabeth’s Greek

Roger Ascham, The Scholemaster:

“It is your shame, (I speake to you all, you yong Ientlemen of England) that one mayd should go beyond you all, in excellencie of learnyng, and knowledge of diuers tonges. Pointe forth six of the best giuen Ientlemen of this Court, and all they together, shew not so much good will, spend not so much tyme, bestow not so many houres, dayly orderly, & constantly, for the increase of learning & knowledge, as doth the Queenes Maiestie her selfe. Yea I beleue, that beside her perfit readines, in Latin, Italian, French, & Spanish, she readeth here now at Windsore more Greeke euery day, than some Prebendarie of this Chirch doth read Latin in a whole weeke. And that which is most praise worthie of all, within the walles of her priuie chamber, she hath obteyned that excellencie of learnyng, to vnderstand, speake, & write, both wittely with head, and faire with hand, as scarse one or two rare wittes in both the Vniuersities haue in many yeares reached vnto. Amongest all the benefites yt God hath blessed me with all, next the knowledge of Christes true Religion, I counte this the greatest, that it pleased God to call me, to be one poore minister in settyng forward these excellent giftes of learnyng in this most excellent Prince. Whose onely example, if the rest of our nobilitie would folow, than might England be, for learnyng and wisedome in nobilitie, a spectacle to all the world beside. But see the mishap of men: The best examples haue neuer such forse to moue to any goodnes, as the bad, vaine, light and fond, haue to all ilnes.”

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