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And it is good that I be ware;
To be avised full good it were.
The land of Vision is full far.
The third day end must I be there.
Mine ass shall with us, if it thar,1
To bear our harness less and raorp,
For my son may bo slain no nar,2
A sword must with us yet therefore.
And I shall found3 to make me yarc1
This night will 1 begin my way.
Though Isaac be ne'er so fair,
And mine own son, the sooth to sav,
And though he bo mine righte heir,
And all should wield after my day,
Cioddes bidding shall I not spare;
Should I that gainstand': We!5 nay. my fay! Isaac!
Abraham. Look thou be boun; *
Isaac. I am ready to do this deed,
Abraham. My dear son, look thou have no drede,
Ye two here with this ass abide.
Primus Pucr.w Sir, ye owe not to bo denied;
Secundus Puer. Whatsoever to us betide To do your bidding ay we will.
Abraham. God's blessing have you both in fere;'' I shall not tarry long you fro.12
Primus Puer. Sir, we shall abide you here. Out of this stede u shall we not go.
Abraham. Childre, ye arc ay to me full dear, I pray God keep ever fro woe.
Secundus Puer. We will do, sir, as ye us lore.1*
1 // if thar, if need is. First-English '■ thearflan," Icelandic 11 tharfo," to need.
1 No nar, no nearer than the place which is a three days' journey distant.
I Found, try. ♦ Tare, ready. 5 We! an exclamation. * Boun, ready. Icelandic "bua," to make ready.
7 Skillis, reasons.
■ Enche*on, occasion or cause. Norman-French " chaison."
'In hy, in haste. First-English "higan," to hie or make haste.
10 The journey just proposed ia supposed to have been token when Abraham and Isaac leave with their attendants the " First Boy " and "Second Boy," the ass upon which Isaac rode, while Abraham walked beside his darling.
II In fere, together. 1J Fro, from. ]s Stede, place.
u here, teach. There is a touch of pathos here, drawn not only from the love of Abraham towards the son whom his faith causes him to sacrifice, but from his tenderness towards the boys not bis whom be prays that God may ever keep from woe. When Shakespeare's Brutus, with his soul wrung by the death of Portia and a great 'luty before him, is made grand throughout the latter part of the play of " Julius Conor," with indication of suppressed emotion, one of its
Abraham. Isaac, now are we but we two,
Lo, my son, here is the place.
Isaac. Wood and fire are in my hend;
Abraham. Now, son, I may no longer layn,"
Isaac. I am heavy and nothing fain. Thus hastily that shall be shent.
Isaac. Sir f
Abraham. Como hither bid I; Thou shall bo dead whatsoever betide.
Isaac. Ah, father, mercy! mercy!
Abraham. That I say, may not be denied; Take thy dede" therefore meekly.
Isaac. Ah, good sir, abide; Father!
Abraham. What, son?
Isaac. To do your will I am ready,
Isaac. What, sir?
Abraham, Good son, be still.
Abraham. What, son?
Isaac. Think on thy get j20 What have I done?
Abraham. Truly, none ill.
Isaac. And shall be slain?
Abraham. So have I het.sl
Isaac. Sir, what may help?
Abraham. Ccrtes, no skill.
Isaac. I ask mercy.
Abraham. That may not let.
Isaac. When I am dead, and closed in clay. Who shall then bo your son?
Abraham. Ah, Lord, that I Bhould abide this day!
Isaac. Sir, who shall do that I was won fa
Abraham. Speak no such words, son, I thee pray.
signs is his womanly tenderness towards the boy who waits upon him in his tent. Abraham's tender words to the two lads whom he leaves with the ass while, with heroic faith in the word of God, however hard it may be to him, he is prepared to offer his beloved son as sacrifice, have a touch in them of the finest human truth.
15 Wend, thought, weened. First-English "woman," to suppose.
16 Layn, deceive. First-English "leogan."
17 Bayn, helpful. Icelandic "beini," help.
18 Dede, death. Compare Dunbar's "Lament for the Makars," line 89, page 112 of " Shorter Poems:"—
"Good Master Walter Kennedy In point of deid lies verily." "Bet, beaten.
*> Thy yet, thy child, thy begotten.
11 Het, promised. First-English "baton," to command, ordain, promise.
*■ Won, wont. First-English "wuna," a enstom; *' wunian," to dwell, to be accustomed.
Isaac. Shall ye me slo?'
Abraham. I trow I mon :— Lie still, I smite.
Isaac. Sir, lot me say.
Abraham. Now, my dear child, thou may not shon.
Isaac. The shining of your bright blade It gars me quake for ferd to dee.!
Abraham. Therefore groflynges3 thou shall bo laid, Then when I strike thou shall not see.
Isaac. What have I done, father? what have I said?
Abraham. Truly, nokyns4 ill to me.
Isaac. And thus guiltless shall be arayde.
Abraham. Now, good son, let such words be.
Isaac. I love you ay.
Abraham. So do I thee.
Abraham. What, son?
Isaac. Let now be seyn s
Abraham. Let be, let be!
He speaks so ruefully to me
Deus. Angel hio with all thy main,
1 Slo, slay. • Forjerd to dee, for fear to die.
3 Grojlyngct, lying flat with the face to the ground. Icelandic "gruff."
• tfokyna, of no kind. There was also "olkyn" and "alkyns," of every kind. Lower down also "thiskyn," of this kind.
1 Seyn, seen. Let your love for my mother now be seen.
• Meyn, complain. 'Pined, put to pain.
• Txryn, be parted.
• Tyte will ihe spyr, quickly will she ask. Tite and iit (Icelandic "tfthr" and "tftt"), frequent. Spi/r (First-Enzlish "spirian"), to March out, inquire, i.e., follow the spor, spoor, or track.
'« Beli/e, quickly. 11 Flay, frighten.
"Till her, to her. is To I come, till I come.
Angelas. Gladly, Lord, I am ready,
Abraham. But might I yet of weeping cease.
Angelas. Abraham! Abraham!
Abraham. Who is there now': Ware, let thee gc.
Angelas. Stand up, now, stand; Thy good will come I to allow, Therefore I bid thee hold thy hand.
Abraham. Say, who bade so? any but thou:
Angelas. Yea, God; and sends this beast to iliine offerand.
Abraham. I speak with God later, I trow,
Angelus. He has perceived thy meekness
Abraham. But wot thou well that it is
Angelus. I say thee yis.
Abraham. I thank Thee, Lord, well of goo<b.i^*. That all thus has released me this! To speak with thee have I no space With my dear son till I have spoken; My good son, thou shall have grace, On thee now will I not be wroken, Rise up now, with thy frely18 face.
Isaac. Sir, shall I live?
Abraham. Yea, this to token.
[El oseulatnr emu." Son, thou has scaped a full hard grace. Thou should have been both brent and broken.
Isaac. But, father, shall I not be slain':
Abraham. No, certos, son.
Isaac. Then am I glad;
Abraham. Nay, hardly, son, be thou not adrad
Isaac. Is all forgeyn?
Abraham. Yea, son, certain.
Isaac. For ferd, sir, was I near hand mad.
could to their daily lives, John Wielif, the first who, after the Conquest, was to give the Bible itself to the people, was ripening for the great work of his life. John Wielif was born about the year 1324, of a family that derived its name from the small village of Wycliffe, which is about six miles from Barnard Castle, in Yorkshire. He was born, probably, at the village of Hipswell, near Richmond. He was educated at the University of Oxford, and became eminent for his acquirements in theology and in philosophy. A contemporary, William Knighton, who was his opponent, says that he was "most eminent" as a teacher of theology, in philosophy "second to none," and "incomparable in scholastic studies." In 1356 Wielif produced a tract on the "Last Age of the Church," suggested by the desolating plague of 1348-9, which occurred when he was
received from that College the rectory of Fylingham, in Lincolnshire.
Langland, Gower, and Chaucer were also during these years advancing to the fulness of their power, and among other religious literature three books were produced—" The Ayenbite of Inwit," the "Cursor Mundi," and the Hermit of Hampole's "Prick of Conscience," of a kind that has been already illustrated
The Ayenbite (Again-bite, Re-morse) of Inwit (Con-science) was a version by Dan (which means Dominus or Master) Michel, of Northgate, Kent, from a French treatise called "La Somme des Vices et des Vertues," composed in 1279 for Philip II. of France by a French Dominican, Friar Laurence. It is a work of the type illustrated by Robert of Brunne's "Handlyng Synne1" from the French of
about twenty-four years old. Thomas Bradwardine, newly become Archbishop of Canterbury, and the author of the most acute theological book of his time, the "Summa Theologise," died of that plague. Wielif thought that the plagues which scourged the nations indicated that the second coming of Christ was near, and that the fourteenth century would be the Last Age of the World. Among signs of the end were the corruptions of the Church. "Both vengeance of sword," he said, "and mischiefs unknown before, by which men in those days shall be punished, shall befall them, because of the sins of the priests. Hence men shall fall upon them and cast them out of their fat benefices, and shall say, ' He came into his benefice by his kindred; and this by a covenant made before. He, for his worldly service, came into the church; and this for money.' Then every such priest shall cry, 'Alas, alas, that no good spirit dwelt with me at my coming into the Church of God.'" In 1360 Wielif was energetic in resistance to the undue influence acquired in Universities by the Dominicans and the Franciscans. This added to his reputation at Oxford, and in the following year, 1361, he was made Warden of Baliol College, and
an Englishman, but it is in prose, and it is not made lively with illustrative tales. The heads of its dissertation are the Ten Commandments, the twelve articles of the Creed, the Seven Deadly Sins, Learning to Die, Knowledge of Good and Evil, the petitions of the Lord's Prayer, the four Cardinal Virtues, each elaborated with subdivisions, Penance, Almsgiving, Seven Steps and Seven Boughs of Chastity, the Seven Steps of Sobriety, and so forth. The "Cursor Mundi," or Course of the World, is a long and important poem in Northumbiian English, which begins by setting forth the delight men take in romances of Alexander, Csesar, and King Arthur. But
"The wise man will of wisdom hear,
Delight in the false love of the world leads to a bitter end, and soft begun'will end in smart. In the love of the Virgin Mary there is trust:—
"For though I sometime be untrue,
In her honour, the poet says, he writes.
"In her worship begin would I
He will tell of that in the Old Testament story which points cliiefly to Christ's coming, and then he will tell of the salvation of the world by Christ who died for it, of Antichrist, and of the Day of Judgment; he will do it, not in French rhymes, which are of no use to the Englishman ignorant of French, but in their own tongue to the English, and especially to those who need the knowledge most, and who go most astray.
"Now of this prologue will I blin,1
Then the poet begins with Creation, commenting and moralising; tells of the three orders of angels, and how Michael fought against Lucifer. Of the distance that Lucifer fell from heaven to hell, none can tell:
"But Bede said fro Earth to Heaven
Man was made of the four elements, and has seven holes in his head, just as there are seven master stars in heaven. The poet dilates thus on the structure of man, and on the union of soul and body. Then he turns to Adam in Paradise, still blending touches of legend and speculation with Ids sketch of the Fall of Man. The story goes on through the lives of Cain and Abel to the Flood, and dwells on the history of Noah. Then he comes to the division of the world among Noah's sons, and looks to the different quarters of the world and its races of men. From the Tower of Babel he passes to the third age of the world, with the history of Abraham, and proceeds at length through the lives of the patriarchs to Joseph in Egypt. Jacob's reason for sending to Egypt in the time of famine is thus given :—
"Soon after, in a little while
1 Blin, cease.
* Yode (First-English "eodc"), went. 1 Fleting, floating.
* Wei, grew. First-English "weaxan ;" past " weux."
* Swithe, quickly.
* Lint and lete, listen and think.
Whethen" it comes can I not rede,
The poem goes on in like manner, often suggesting figures of Christ's coming, through the Exodus, and the histories of Moses and Joshua, to the Luid of Promise; tells the histories of Samson, of Saul, David, and Solomon at length, is brought through the later history of the Jews to the chief prophecies of Christ, and then proceeds to a full dwelling on the life of Christ.
The Hermit of Hampole's " Prick of Conscience" is also a Northumbrian poem. Its author, Richard Rolle, was born at Thornton, in Yorkshire, about the year 1290, and educated at Oxford. When he was but nineteen years old he was seized with religious enthusiasm for the life of a hermit, and obtained from Sir John de Dalton a cell, with daily sustenance, at Hampole, about four miles from Doncaster. There he lived until his death in 134'J, and he was one of the busiest religious writers of his day. He translated, as we shall presently see, the Psalms into English prose. He wrote many prose treatises, and he produced this poem of "The Prick" (that is, the Goad) "of Conscience" ("Stimulus Conscientia*"). Its seven parts tell—1. Of the Beginning of Man's Life; 2. Of the Unstableness of this World; 3. Of Death, and why it is to be dreaded; 4. Of Purgatory; 5. Of Doomsday; 6. Of the Pains of Hell; 7. Of the Joys of Heaven. Mediaeval fancies blend with the teaching. Thus the feebleness of man at birth is associated with memories of our first parents:—■
"For unnethes' es a child born fully
'Whethen, whence; formed like hethen, hence.
8 Again the Hum, against the course of the river.
» Unnethes, Bcarcely. First-English "eathe," easily; '* uneathr." uneasily, with difficulty, scarcely.
>° Than (First-English " thanuo"), then.
ii Sira, so, thus. The First-English form of the word.
11 Byhovet leve, have to live. First-English " behofian." to behori. be fit, have need of. In impersonal form, the meaning ia fit « aooftniry.
When thai er born what-swa thai be,
This is Richard Rolle's reason for the title he gives to his book :—
"Therefore this treatise draw I would
Church, Canterbury. Simon of Islip removed the four monks, including the Warden, in 1365; and he put Wiclif and three other secular clergy in thenplace. In 1366 Islip died, and his successor entertained an appeal against his dealing in the case of Canterbury Hall. The new Archbishop pronounced Wiclif's election void. Wiclif resisted, and appealed to Rome. After three or four years of uncertainty, the Pope supported the monks, and confirmed Wiclif's ejection. It was in 1365, the year of Wiclif's appointment to the Warden's office at Canterbury College, that the Pope revived a claim on England for homage and tribute which had remained unpaid for the last three-and-thirty years. In 1366, Edward III. laid the demand before Parliament, which answered that, forasmuch as neither King John, nor any other king, could bring this realm into such thraldom but by common consent of Parliament, which was not given; therefore what John did was against his oath at his coronation. The Pope had threatened that if Edward III. failed to pay tribute and arrears, he should be cited by process to appear at Rome, and answer for himself before his civil and spiritual sovereign. The English Parliament replied that if the Pope should attempt anything against the king by process or otherwise, the king with all his subjects should resist with all their might A monk then wrote in vindication of the Papal claims, and challenged Wiclif, by name, to reply to them, and justify the decision of the English Parliament. Wiclif at once replied with a defence of the king and Parliament, in a Latin tract or "Determination" on Dominion, "De Dominio." The king had made Wiclif one of his chaplains, and his argument against the claims of Papal sovereignty procured him friends at court. In 1372, when he was about forty-eight years old, John Wiclif became Professor of Divinity at Oxford. Many were drawn to his lectures and sermons, and we also may now hear Dr. Wiclif preach:—
THE HEALING OF THE NOBLEMAN'S SON.3
Erat quidtm regalia. Joh. iv. .
There was a certain [little king] nobleman.
This Gospel telleth how a king, that some men say was a heathen man, believed in Christ and deserved to have a miracle of his son. The story saith, how in Galilee was dwelling a little king, in the city of Capernaum, that had a Bon full sick of the fever. And when he heard tell that Jesus came from Judsca to Galilee, he came and met him on the way,
* This Bermon is one of those published in " Select English Work* of John Wycliff, edited from original MSS. by Thomas Arnold, M.A.. of University College, Oxford. In three volumes. Published for the University of Oxford by the Clarendon Press in 1889 and 1871." This issue was undertaken by the Delegates of the University Press at the suggestion of Canon Shirley, who had devoted many years to the stndy of Wiclif, and issued in 1865 a "Catalogue of the Original Works of John Wycliff," as an aid to study of the Reformer. Very many of his works remained imprinted. Dr. Shirley did not live to enrich these volumes with the full Introduction he proposed to write, but they were carefnlly produced by an editor of his own choice, and have helped greatly to remove the discredit of a neglect of Wiclifs English writings under which England had lain for many years. Mr. Arnold has taken much pains to distinguish Wiclif's work from that of his followers.