It might seem to be a bit of a stretch that I have lifted Elizabeth's poem On Monsieur's Departure (it begins: I grieve and dare not show my discontent; I love, and yet am forced to seem to hate; I do, yet dare not say I ever meant; I seem stark mute, but inwardly do prate.) for my own storytelling purposes. Perhaps crediting some of the Book of Common Prayer to Edward Strelley is battering against the boundaries of historical fact a little too hard, but it fits.
“You were Elizabeth’s tutor, were you not?”
Edward Strelley stands in front of Thomas Cranmer’s escritoire. The archbishop, asking the question, sits with his elbows resting on the table.
“I worked with Grindal, yes,” Strelley answers.
“I remember you.” Cranmer’s voice is soft and considered as always, and he seems about to add more, but does not.
Strelley looks down at him. “You summoned me.”
“On Ascham’s recommendation, yes. He says you are gifted with language.”
“I am flattered.”
“I had rather hoped to enlist you to help me. I have something for you to read.”
“Your prayer book?”
“I have written a little of it, Master Strelley, but it is not my prayer book. It is everyone’s.”
“What do you wish of me?”
“I want the benefit of your pen, Sir. Your imagination.”
“You want me to improve it?”
“Where you can. I do not glorify myself overmuch when I say that the book contains some beautiful passages, because I do not claim to have written those passages. So I would value the critical eye of one who is himself a master of language.”
Strelley smiles, rather wryly. “I thank you for your faith in me, Your Grace.”
“God sometimes moves in a mysterious way, Master Strelley. Sometimes, He is more easy to read.”
Progress on book IV is slow but real. Small people don't seem to appreciate the need for long stretches of uninterrupted concentration...
This is from the fourth Sunday after Trinity, which was yesterday (the reading is Luke 6, for those interested).
The collect: O God, the protector of all that trust in thee, without whom nothing is strong, nothing is holy: Increase and multiply upon us thy mercy; that, thou being our ruler and guide, we may so pass through things temporal, that we finally lose not the things eternal. Grant this, O Heavenly Father, for Jesus Christ's sake our Lord. Amen.
Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father is also merciful. Judge not, and ye shall not be judged; condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned; forgive, and ye shall be forgiven; give and it shall be given unto you, good measure, pressed down and shaken together, and running over shall men give into your bosom.
Look out for some previews of book IV in the next few days. It might just start to make sense then...
Welcome to the news page. Here you will find latest developments as the writing progresses and new titles in the series become available. This feed broadly replaces the blog that used to be featured on the site, but for a number of reasons that blog has been permanently removed.
Here you can expect to find snippets of Book IV, announcements of titles, publication dates and so on, and the reinstatement of the occasional review of popular and academic works of history.
When to the sessions of sweet silent thought