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Mistress Margery   By: (1836-1893)

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Mistress Margery, A Tale of the Lollards, by Emily Sarah Holt.

This is a short book, but it was quite hard to transcribe on account of so much of it being in mediaeval English, with its inconsistent and uncouth spelling.

Margery is a young woman of high birth, who goes one day to hear a sermon preached by one of the new Lollards, who advise people to read the Bible as recently translated by Wycliffe, and to believe only what they find therein. This was directly contrary to the view of the official church, which had made up all sorts of doctrines that could be seen to be not at all supported by the words of the Gospel. Margery can only get hold of a copy of the Gospel according to Saint John.

Margery is very much struck with the words of the Gospel, despite the hostility of all around her. Everyone was far too afraid of the extreme punishment meted out by "Holy Church" to those who questioned its teachings. And Margery ends up by being burnt at the stake for her belief in the Gospel, as opposed to what was taught by the Church.

But you will learn a lot about upper class life in the early years of the fifteenth century, and if you can put up with the forms of speech, you will gain thereby. Not recommended for audiobook, since a great deal of editing, such as removal of footnotes, conversion of mediaeval speech to modern, and so forth.




"Give me the book, and let me read; My soul is strangely stirred They are such words of love and truth As ne'er before I heard!"

Mary Howitt.

The sun was shining brightly on the battlements and casements of Lovell Tower. The season was spring, and the year 1395. Within the house, though it was barely seven o'clock in the morning, all was bustle and confusion, for Dame Lovell was superintending her handmaidens in the preparation of dinner. A buxom woman was Dame Lovell, neither tall nor short, but decidedly stout, with a round, good natured face, which just then glowed and burned under the influence of the fire roaring on the large grateless hearth. She wore a black dress, heavily trimmed at the bottom with fur, and she carried on her head one of those remarkable elevations generally known as the Syrian or conical head dress, made of black stiffened gauze, and spangled with golden stars. Her assistants, mostly girls of from sixteen to twenty five years of age, were occupied in various parts of the kitchen; while Mistress Katherine, a staid looking woman of middle age, who filled a post somewhat similar to the modern one of housekeeper, was employed at a side table in mixing some particularly elaborate compound. Among this busy throng moved Dame Lovell, now giving a stir to a pot, and now peeping into a pan, boxing the ears of any maiden who appeared remiss in her duty, and generally keeping up a strict and active supervision.

"Nan, thy leeks be not hewn small enough. Cicely, look to the pottage, that it boil not over. Al'ce, thou idle jade!" with a sound box on the ear, "thou hast left out the onions in thy blanch porre! Margery! Madge! Why, Madge, I say! Where is Mistress Margery, maidens? Joan, lass, hie thee up, and see whether Mistress Margery be not in the chamber."

Joan, a diminutive girl of sixteen, quitted the parsley she was chopping, and ran lithely out of the room, to which she soon returned, and, dropping a courtesy, announced that "Mistress Margery was in her chamber, and was coming presently," which latter word, in the year 1395, meant not "by and by," as it now does, but "at present." Mistress Margery verified the assertion of Joan by following her into the kitchen almost immediately. And since Mistress Margery is to play the important part of heroine, it may be well to devote a few words to her person and costume... Continue reading book >>

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