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Isaac. Shall ye me slo ?1
Abraham. I trow I mon :-
Isaac. Sir, let me say.
laid, Then when I strike thou shall not see. Isaac. What have I done, father? what have I
Isaac. Let now be seyn 5
Abraham. Let be, let be!
He speaks so ruefully to me
Angelus. Gladly, Lord, I am ready,
Abraham. But might I yet of weeping cease,
Angelus. Abraham! Abraham !
Abraham. Who is there now? Ware, let thee gc.
Angelus. Stand up, now, stand;
Abraham. Say, who bade so ? any but thou:
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 goodness,
Isaac. Sir, shall I live?
[Et osculatur eun. 19
Isaac. But, father, shall I not be slain?
Isaac. Then am I glad;
Abraham. Nay, hardly, son, be thou not adrad.
Deus. Angel hie with all thy main, To Abraham thou shall be sent : Say, Isaac shall not be slain, He shall live and not be brent. My bidding stands he not again, Go, put him out of his intent: Bid him go home again, I know well how he ment.
While in this way the English people, forbidden to hear the whole Bible read to them in their native tongue, were bringing it home as closely as they
i Slo, slay.
? For jerd to dee, for fear to die. 3 Groflynges, lying flat with the face to the ground. Icelandic "gruf."
* Nokyns, of no kind. There was also “alkyn” and “alkyns," of every kind. Lower down also “thiskyn," of this kind. 5 Seyn, seen. Let your love for my mother now be seen. Meyn, complain.
7 Pined, put to pain, * Tryn, be parted.
Tyte will she spyr, quickly will she ask. Tite and tit (Icelandic "titbr" and "títt"), freqnent. Spur (First-English "spirian"), to search out, inquire, i.e., follow the spór, spoor, or track. 10 Belife, quickly.
11 Flay, frighten. 12 T U her, to her.
15 To I come, till I come,
14 Tide, time.
could to their daily lives, John Wiclif, the first who, | received from that College the rectory of Fylingham, after the Conquest, was to give the Bible itself to the | in Lincolnshire. people, was ripening for the great work of his life. Langland, Gower, and Chaucer were also during John Wiclif was born about the year 1324, of a these years advancing to the fulness of their power, family that derived its name from the small village and among other religious literature three books were of Wycliffe, which is about six miles from Barnard produced—“The Ayenbite of Inwit," the “ Cursor Castle, in Yorkshire. He was born, probably, at Mundi," and the Hermit of Hampole's “Prick of the village of Hipswell, near Richmond. He was Conscience," of a kind that has been already illuseducated at the University of Oxford, and became | trated. eminent for his acquirements in theology and in The Ayenbite (Again-bite, Re-morse) of Inwit philosophy. A contemporary, William Knighton, (Con-science) was a version by Dan (which means who was his opponent, says that he was “most Dominus or Master) Michel, of Northgate, Kent, eminent” as a teacher of theology, in philosophy from a French treatise called “La Somme des Vices * second to none,” and “incomparable in scholastic et des Vertues," composed in 1279 for Philip II. of studies." In 1356 Wiclif produced a tract on the France by a French Dominican, Friar Laurence. It “ Last Age of the Church,” suggested by the deso- is a work of the type illustrated by Robert of lating plague of 1348-9, which occurred when he was Brunne's “Handlyng Synnel” from the French of
about twenty-four years old, Thomas Bradwardine, an Englishman, but it is in prose, and it is not Dewly become Archbishop of Canterbury, and the made lively with illustrative tales. The heads of anthor of the most acute theological book of his its dissertation are the Ten Commandments, the time, the “Summa Theologiæ," died of that plague. twelve articles of the Creed, the Seven Deadly Sins, Wiclif thought that the plagues which scourged the Learning to Die, Knowledge of Good and Evil, the nations indicated that the second coming of Christ petitions of the Lord's Prayer, the four Cardinal was near, and that the fourteenth century would be Virtues, each elaborated with subdivisions, Penance, the Last Age of the World. Among signs of the Almsgiving, Seven Steps and Seven Boughs of end were the corruptions of the Church. “Both Chastity, the Seven Steps of Sobriety, and so forth. sengeance of sword,” he said, “and mischiefs un The “ Cursor Mundi,” or Course of the World, is a known before, by which men in those days shall be long and important poem in Northumbrian English, punished, shall befall them, because of the sins of the which begins by setting forth the delight men take priests. Hence men shall fall upon them and cast in romances of Alexander, Cæsar, and King Arthur. them out of their fat benefices, and shall say, 'He But came into his benefice by his kindred ; and this by a
“ The wise man will of wisdom hear, covenant made before. He, for his worldly service,
The fool him draws to folly near.” came into the church ; and this for money. Then
Delight in the false love of the world leads to a every such priest shall cry, · Alas, alas, that no good spirit dwelt with me at my coming into the Church
bitter end, and soft begun'will end in smart. In the of God.'” In 1360 Wiclif was energetic in resistance
love of the Virgin Mary there is trust :to the undue influence acquired in Universities by
“ For though I sometime be untrue, the Dominicans and the Franciscans. This added to
Her love is ever alike new." his reputation at Oxford, and in the following year, 1361, he was made Warden of Baliol College, and !
i See pages 58–63.
In her honour, the poet says, he writes.
Whethen7 it comes can I not rede,
But down it fleteth full good speed.
If it be comen fro far land,
Look which of you will take on hand
For us all do this travail,
Thereof is good we take counsail,
Again the flum8 to follow the chaff, He will tell of that in the Old Testament story
Corn there shall we find to haf.'”. which points chiefly to Christ's coming, and then he will tell of the salvation of the world by Christ The poem goes on in like manner, often suggestwho died for it, of Antichrist, and of the Day of | ing figures of Christ's coming, through the Exodus, Judgment; he will do it, not in French rhymes, and the histories of Moses and Joshua, to the Land which are of no use to the Englishman ignorant of of Promise ; tells the histories of Samson, of Saul, French, but in their own tongue to the English, and David, and Solomon at length, is brought through especially to those who need the knowledge most, and the later history of the Jews to the chief prophecies who go most astray.
of Christ, and then proceeds to a full dwelling on
the life of Christ. "Now of this prologue will I blin,
The Hermit of Hampole's “ Prick of Conscience" In Christér name my book begin;
is also a Northumbrian poem. Its author, Richard • Cursor of the World' I will it call,
Rolle, was born at Thornton, in Yorkshire, about For almost it overrunnys all.
the year 1290, and educated at Oxford. When he Take we our beginning than
was but nineteen years old he was seized with reliOf Him that all this world began."
gious enthusiasm for the life of a hermit, and obtained
from Sir John de Dalton a cell, with daily susteThen the poet begins with Creation, commenting
nance, at Hampole, about four miles from Doncaster. and moralising ; tells of the three orders of angels, There he lived until his death in 1319, and he was and how Michael fought against Lucifer. Of the dis
one of the busiest religious writers of his day. He tance that Lucifer fell from heaven to hell, none can
translated, as we shall presently see, the Psalms into tell :
English prose. He wrote many prose treatises, and “ But Bede said fro Earth to Heaven
he produced this poem of “ The Prick" (that is, the Is seven thousand year and hundreds seven; Goad) “ of Conscience” (“Stimulus Conscientiæ "). By journeys whoso go it may
Its seven parts tell--1. Of the Beginning of Man's Forty mile everyché day."
Life; 2. Of the Unstableness of this World ; 3. Of
Death, and why it is to be dreaded ; 4. Of PurgaMan was made of the four elements, and has
| tory ; 5. Of Doomsday ; 6. Of the Pains of Hell: seven holes in his head, just as there are seven
7. Of the Joys of Heaven. Mediæval fancies blend master stars in heaven. The poet dilates thus on
with the teaching. Thus the feebleness of man the structure of man, and on the union of soul and
at birth is associated with memories of our first body. Then he turns to Adam in Paradise, still
parents :blending touches of legend and speculation with his sketch of the Fall of Man. The story goes on
“For unnethes' es a child born fully through the lives of Cain and Abel to the Flood,
That it ne bygynnes to youle and cry ; and dwells on the history of Noah. Then he comes
And by that cry men knaw than 10 to the division of the world among Noah's sons, ard
Whether it be man or weinan. looks to the different quarters of the world and its
For when it es born it cryes swa: 11 races of men. From the Tower of Babel he passes
If it be man it says, 'A, a!' to the third age of the world, with the history of
That the first letter es of the nam Abraham, and proceeds at length through the lives
Of our forme-fader Adam. of the patriarchs to Joseph in Egypt. Jacob's reason
And if the child a woman be, for sending to Egypt in the time of famine is thus
When it is born it says, • E, e!' given :
E es the first letter and the hede
Of the name of Eve that bygan our dede.
Tharfor a clerk made on this manere
This vers of metre that es wroten here :
Dicentes E vel A quotquot nascuntur ab Era.
Alle thas,' he says, ' that comes of Eve
(That es all men that here byhoves leve 12),
7 Whethen, whence; formed like hethen, hence.
Unnethes, scarcely. First-English “eathe,” easily ; "uneathe," 1 Blin, cease.
uneasily, with difficulty, scarcely. » Yode (First-English “eode"), went.
10 Than (First-English "thanne"), then. 3 Fleting, floating.
11 Sura, so, thus. The First-English form of the word. * Wer, grew. First-English "weaxan;" past“ weux."
19 Byhores leve, have to live. First-English “ behofian," to bebote, 5 Suithe, quickly.
be fit, have need of. In impersonal form, the meaning is fit or 6 List and lete, listen and think.
When thai er born what-swa thai be,
Church, Canterbury. Simon of Islip removed the Thai say outher A, a! or E, e!'”
four monks, including the Warden, in 1365; and he
put Wiclif and three other secular clergy in their This is Richard Rolle's reason for the title he |
place. In 1366 Islip died, and his successor entergives to his book :
tained an appeal against his dealing in the case of
Canterbury Hall. The new Archbishop pronounced “Therefore this treatise draw I would In English tongue that may be called
Wiclif's election void. Wiclif resisted, and appealed * Prick of Conscience,' as men may feel,
to Rome. After three or four years of uncertainty, For if a man it read and understand wele
the Pope supported the monks, and confirmed Wiclif's And the matters therein to heart will take,
ejection. It was in 1365, the year of Wiclif's appointIt may his conscience tender make;
ment to the Warden's office at Canterbury College, And to right way of rule bring it belive!
that the Pope revived a claim on England for homage And his heart to dread and meekness drive,
and tribute which had remained unpaid for the last And to love, and yearning of heaven's bliss,
three-and-thirty years. In 1366, Edward III. laid And to amend all that he has done amiss."
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 CHAPTER III.
given; therefore what John did was against his oath
at his coronation. The Pope had threatened that WICLIF, LANGLAND, AND OTHERS.A.D. 1360 TO if Edward III. failed to pay tribute and arrears, he A.D. 1400.
should be cited by process to appear at Rome, and In the year 1360 the Psalter was the only book
answer for himself before his civil and spiritual of Scripture of which there was a translation into
sovereign. The English Parliament replied that if English of a date later than the Conquest. Within
the Pope should attempt anything against the king by twenty-five years from that date John Wiclif had
process or otherwise, the king with all his subjects secured by his own work and that of true-hearted
should resist with all their might. A monk then companions a translation of the whole Bible into
wrote in vindication of the Papal claims, and chalEnglish, including the Apocrypha. In the year
lenged Wiclif, by name, to reply to them, and justify 1365, Simon of Islip, Archbishop of Canterbury, made
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.”
Erat quidem regulus. Joh. iv. .
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 son full sick of the fever. And when he heard tell that Jesus came from Judæa to Galilee, he came and met him on the way,
John Wiclif Warden of Canterbury Hall at Oxford, which stood where there is now the Canterbury Quadrangle of Christchurch. Canterbury Hall had in its foundation a Warden and eleven Scholars, of whom eight were to be secular clergy, but the other three and the Warden were to be monks of Christ
2 This sermon is one of those published in “Select English Works 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 1869 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 study 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 unprinted. Dr. Shirley did not live to enrich these volumes with the full Introduction he proposed to write, but they were carefully produced by an editor of his own choice, and bave helped greatly to remove the discredit of a neglect of Wiclit's 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.
1 Belide, quickly. First-English “bi life," with life.
and prayed him come down and heal his son, for he was in betokeneth light of grace that man is in. The first six hours point of death. And Christ said to this king, to amend his betokenen joy that man hath of worldly thing, and this is belief, Ye believe not in Jesus but if ye see signs and wonders; before spiritual joy, as utter man is before spiritual. But in as this man believed not in the Godhead of Christ, for if he the first hour of the second half leaveth ghostly fever man, had, he should have trowed that Christ might have saved his for whosoever have worldly joy, if he have grace on some son if he had not bodily come to this sick man and touched manner, yet he trembleth in some fever about goods of tie him. But this king had more heart of health of his son than world; but anon in the seventh hour, that is the first of the he had to be healed of untruth that he was in, and therefore second half, when will of worldly things is left, and spiritual he told not hereby but asked eft' Christ to heal his son; and things beginnen to be loved, then this shaking passeth from in this form of words, in which he shewed his untruth, man, and ghostly health cometh to the spirit. And so “ Lord,” he said, “ come down before that my son die.” But shadows of light of sun from the seventh hour in to the night Jesus as wise Lord and merciful healed his son in such ever waxen more and more, and that betokeneth ghostly, that manner that he might wite? that he was both God and man; vanity of this world seemeth aye more to man's spirit till he “Go,” he said, “thy son liveth.” And therewith Christ come to the end of this life, to life that aye shall last. Anl taught his soul both of his manhood and Godhead, and else so this man troweth in God, both with understanding and had not this king trowed ;3 but this Gospel saith that he will, with all the mayné 8 of his house, when all his wits and trow
his house. And upon this truth “ he went all his strength ben obeshing' to reason, when this fever is homeward and met his men upon the way, that tolden him thus passed. Of this understanding men may take moral wit that his son should live, for he is covered * of his evil. And how men shall live, and large the matter as them liketh. he asked when his son fared better, and they saiden that yesterday the seventh hour the fevers forsook the child. And This little fancy drawn from Grosseteste of the the father knew, by his mind, that it was the same hour healing of the fever in the seventh hour is a pleasant that Christ said, “ Thy son liveth,” and herefore believed he example of that allegorical method of interpreting and all his house in Jesus Christ. And therefore Jesus said the Bible, that finding of what Wiclif here calls sooth that he and men like to him trowen not but if they see the “second wit” of a passage, that spread chietly both signs and wonders. It was a sign of the sick child that from the example of the Greek Fathers of the he did works of an whole man, but it was a great wonder that Church. Such a second meaning, or mystical readby virtue of the word of Christ a man so far should ben ing, was often added by interpreters of any passage whole, for so Christ shewed that he is virtue of Godhead,
from the Bible to what was held to be the doctrinal that is everywhere; and this virtue must be God, that did truth it contained, the essential truth first to be thus this miracle.
expounded. Wiclif's preaching shows that while This story saith us this second wit5 that God giveth to holy
| his first care was to deal with what appeared to him writ, that this little king betokeneth a man's wit by sin
the plain doctrines and duties set forth by the Gospel, slidden from God, that is but a little king in regard of his
he delighted in the exercise of wit for the developMaker; and his son was sick on the fevers, as weren these
ment of spiritual under-senses in this way of parable. heathen folk and their affections that comen of their souls ;
Thus, for example, in a sermon on the fifth chapter but they hadden a kindly 6 will to wite the truth and stand
of Luke's Gospel, which tells how Christ in Simon therein. This king came from Capernaum, that is, a field of fatness; for man fatted and alarded wendeth away from God.
Peter's boat bade him cast his net again into the sea, This man's wit when he heard that Jesus came to heathen
Wiclif spoke thus of men, and that betokeneth Galilee, that is transmigration, met with Jesus in plain way, and left his heathen possession, and
THE TWO FISHINGS OF PETER. prayed God to heal his folk that weren sick by ghostly fever. Two fishings that Peter fished betokeneth two takings of But Christ sharped these men's belief, for faith is first needful men unto Christ's religion, and from the fiend to God. In to men, but understanding of man prayed Christ come down this first fishing was the net broken, to token that many by grace before man's affections die about earthly goods. men ben converted, and after breaken Christ's religion; but But, for men troweden the Godhead of Christ, they weren at the second fishing, after the resurrection, when the net whole of this fever when they forsoken this world and put was full of many great fishes, was not the net broken, as the their hope in heavenly goods. These servants ben low Gospel saith ; for that betokeneth saints that God chooseth virtues of the soul, which, working joyfully, tellen man's to heaven. And so these nets that fishers fishen with bewit and his will that this son is whole of fever. This tokeneth God's Law, in which virtues and truths ben knitted: fever betokeneth shaking of man by unkindly distemper of and other properties of nets tellen properties of God's Law; abundance of worldly goods, that ben unstable as the water: and void places between knots betokeneth life of kind, that and herefore saith St. James that he that doubteth in belief men have beside virtues. And four cardinal virtues ben is like to a flood of the sea that with wind is borne about. figured by knitting of the net. The net is broad in the That these servants tolden this king that in the seventh hour beginning, and after strait in end, to teach that men, when fever forsook this child, betokeneth a great wit as Robert of | they ben turned first, liven a broad worldly life; but afterLincoln7 sheweth. First it betokeneth that this fever goeth ward when they ben deeped in God's Law, they keepen hem away from man's kind by seven gifts of the Holy Ghost that straitlier from sins. These fishers of God shulden wash their ben understonden by these hours. And this clerk divideth nets in this river, for Christ's preachers shulden clearly tellen the day in two halves by six hours, so that all the day God's Law, and not meddle with man's law, that is troubly
1 Eyl, again.
? W'ite, know. 3 Troued, helieved.
* Covered, recovered, cured. . Second wit, second or under sense; a mystical reading added to the plain one.
6 Kindly, natural. i Robert of Lincoln, Robert Grosseteste. (See page 54.)
& Mayné (French “mesnie"), originally the people upon the establishment of a manse, which was a home with as much ground about it as two oxen could till.
? Obeshing (French " obeissant "), obedient.