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Fitur: for man's law containeth sharp stones and trees, by or remain at the Court of Rome. While this was www the net of God is broken and fishes wenden out to the the political side of the reform movement, Wiclif for wrid. And this betokeneth Gennesareth, that is, a wonder the support he gave it on spiritual grounds was cited ful tirth, for the birth by which a man is born of water and to appear before Convocation at St. Paul's, on the of the Hoir Ghost is much more wonderful than man's | 19th of February, 1377. The Court, then in full kirdir? birth. Some nets ben rotten, some han holes, and heat of political conflict with the Pope, supported 3one ben unclean for default of washing; and thus on three Wiclif, and he was escorted to St. Paul's by John of ILADN-rs faileth the word of preaching. And matter of this Gaunt himself and Lord Henry Percy, the Earlnet and braking thereof given men great matter to speak Marshal. The result was a brawl in the church, and GodTord, for virtues and vices and truths of the Gospel a brawl following it in the town. The people conben 3tter enow to preach to the people.
founded the cause of Wiclif with the character of
John of Gaunt, whom they had no reason to count All Wiclif's preaching was true to this definition
among their friends, and judging by his companions of what ought to be the matter of the preacher,
the pure spiritual reformer who was the best friend * virtues and vices, and truths of the Gospel ;" but
they had, they took part, naturally, with the bishop aliong vices that most hindered religion were those
whose authority the overbearing courtiers had in of the professed teachers of religion, and an essential
their own fashion defied. Four months afterwards part of Wiclif's service to the people was his labour
-on the 21st of June, 1377–Edward III. died. to check the corruptions of the Church. His chief
and his grandson Richard, son of the Black Prince, service was the giving of the Bible itself to common
became king, at the age of eleven, as Richard II. Enzlishmen. He was at work upon this in 1374
Wiclit was then past fifty, and his work on the transWu-n an inquiry into the number and value of English
lation of the Bible was within two or three years of trpetices given to Italians and Frenchmen caused a
completion. commission, of which Wiclif was a member, to be
England was then suffering much by war. The appointed for negotiation at Bruges with the Court
French and Spaniards committed unchecked ravages of Rome. In November, 1375, Wiclif was presented
upon our coast, destroyed the town of Rye, burnt to the prebend of Aust, in the collegiate church of Westbury, in the diocese of Worcester, and not long
Hastings, Poole, Portsmouth, and other places. Sore
need of the means of self-defence quickened desire to afterwaris he was appointed by the Crown to the
check the Pope's drain on the treasures of the king mtory of Lutterworth, in Leicestershire. In 1376,
dom. The Pope, upon change of reign, revived the a Parliament, called by the people “ the Good Parlia
claim of Peter's pence which Edward III, had resisted. Ti-at,” which opposed usurpations and tyrannies both
Wiclif was asked as to the lawfulness of withholding of the Pope and of the King-expelling and imprisoning some of John of Gaunt's adherents-presented a
payments to the Pope, and justified it by the law of
nature, self-preservation, which God has imposed on Elustrance to the Crown upon the extortions of the Court of Rome.
nations as on individuals. He justified it also by the In this it urged that the tax paid
Gospel, since the Pope could claim English money to the Pope of Rome for ecclesiastical dignities doth aloint to five-fold as much as the tax of all the
only under the name of alms, and consequently under
the title of works of mercy, according to the rules protits that appertain to the king, by the year, of the whole realm; and for some one bishopric or
of charity ; but, he said, it would be madness, not other dignity the Pope, by way of translation and
charity, while pressed by taxation at home and facing
the prospect of ruin, to give our goods to foreigners death, hath three, four, or five several taxes : that
already wallowing in luxury. the brokers of that sinful city for money promote
Bulls against Dr.
John Wiclif, Professor of Divinity and Rector of many cultitis, being altogether unlearned and un- | Lutterworth, had been issued by the Pope before the Sorths, to a thousand marks living yearly ; whereas death of Edward III. They were addressed to the the learnell and worthy can hardly obtain twenty
King, the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Bishop of marks: whereby learning decayeth. That aliens,
London, and the University of Oxford. Private Armies to this land, who never saw, nor care to see, t-ir parishioners, have those livings, whereby they
inquiry was first to be made as to Wiclif's heresies, deplse God's service and convey away the treasure
and if this showed them to be as represented, he was of the realm.
to be imprisoned, and dealt with according to the There was much more that explicitly forth evils of Church corruption.
instructions of his Holiness. Early in the year 1378, It was in June
Wiclif appeared before a Synod of Papal Commisof the same year that the death of the Black Prince deprived England of a popular heir to the throne.
sioners, held in the Archbishop's Chapel at Lambeth
| Palace. But the Londoners were now with the In the next year, 1377, when the protest of Parlia
Reformer, a crowd broke into the chapel to protect Opint was continued, the Pope's collector, resident in
him, and the commissioners were daunted also by a don, a Frenchman in the time of English wars me
| message from the widow of the Black Prince, forTh France, who sent annually 20,000 marks to the
bidding them to pass any sentence against Wiclif. Pupe, was gathering first-fruits throughout England. The Parliament advised that no such collector or
He was dismissed with an admonition. prrtor for the Pope be suffered to remain in England,
It was at this time that the increasing moveapon pain of life or limb; and that, on the like pain,
| ment for reform was aided by the schism in the
Papacy. The removal of the Papal see to Avignon, 20 Englishman become any such collector or proctor, early in the fourteenth century, by making the Pope
dependent on the King of France, whose interests * Kindly, according to nature.
| were held to be opposite to those of the King of England, had greatly weakened the Pope's influence and wrote Southern English. I take the 22nd in this country. Upon the death of Gregory XI., in Psalm in this version as an example :1378, the Romans, weary of French Popes, elected an Italian, who became Pope as Urban VI. Against
PSALM XXIII. him was presently set up a Frenchman as Clement VII. ; and so there were two discordant heads of
Our Lord governeth me, and nothing shall defailen to me; the Church-one at Rome and one at Avignon
in the stede of pasture he sett me ther.
He norissed me up water of fyllynge; he turned my soule each claiming infallibility. Wiclif's conflict with
from the fende. the Papacy now passed to open war. “ Trust we,”
He lad me up the bistiges 7 of rigtfulnes; for his name. he said, “in the help of Christ, for He hath begun
For gif that ich have gon amiddes of the shadowe of deth ; already to help us graciously, in that He hath cloven
Y shal nougt douten iuels, for thou art wyth me. the head of Antichrist and made the two parts fight
Thy discipline and thyn amendyng; conforted me. Thoa against each other; for it cannot be doubtful that
madest radi grace in my sight; ogayns hem that trublen me. the sin of the Popes, which hath so long continued,
Thou makest fatt myn heued wyth mercy; and my drynke hath brought in the division.” This he wrote in a
makand drunken ys ful clere. treatise on the schism, called the “Schisma Papæ,"
And thy merci shal folwen me; alle daies of mi lif : and about the same time he produced a treatise on the And that ich wonne8 in the hous of our Lord, in lengthe of “ Truth and Meaning of Scripture,” in which he
daies. maintained the right of private judgment, asserted the supreme authority and the sufficiency of Scrip The next English prose version of the Psalms was ture, and the need of a Bible in English.
that of Richard Rolle, the Hermit of Hampole, While the supreme authority maintained that an | author of "The Prick of Conscience,” already menadmitted right of private judgment would lead many tioned. He made his translation at the request of to heresy and peril of their souls, and that Holy Dame Margaret Kirkby, of the Nunnery at Hampole. Scripture in the language of the people, open to | Of Richard Rolle's translation this is a specimen :interpretation by the ignorant, would diffuse the error from which men were saved by the interven
PSALM LXXIX. tion of well-taught interpreters, the people of this country had, as we have seen, made fullest use of God, folkis come in to thyn heritage, thei defouledyn thin all permitted means of access to the Bible. Since it hooli temple; thei setten Jerusalem in to kepyng of applis. was lawful to translate the book of Psalms, that
Thei settyn the deede bodies of thi seruauntis meete to the book had several translators. Of a metrical Psalter
foulis of heuene; fleische of thyn halowis' to beestis of erthe. in Transition English of the North of England, in
Thei heeld 10 out the bloode of hem as watir in the cumpas the thirteenth century, which was edited in 1845 by
fo Jerusalem ; and there was not to birye hem.
We ben maad repreef to our neig boris; scoornynge and Mr. Joseph Stevenson, for the Surtees Society, in
hethyng 11 to alle that ben in oure cumpas. the same volume with a First-English Psalter, this
Hou longe, Lord, schal thou be wroth in to the cende; thi will serve as a specimen :
loue as fijr schal be kyndlid.
Heeld out thyn yre in to folkis that knewen thee not; and
in to rewmys that han not inclepid thi name.
There are many variations in the manuscripts of
Richard Rolle's translation of the Psalms.
In the religious house of Llanthony, in Mon-
mouthshire, there was in the twelfth century a monk Schriven alle folke be to the.
named Clement, who wrote in Latin a Monotessaron, Faine and glade genge, mare and lesse,
or “Harmony of the Gospels." Wiclif's earlier For thou demes* folke in evennesse;
work on what seemed to him signs of the coming And genge in erthe with thi might
end of the world, “The Last Age of the Church.* Steres 5 thou, that thai do right.
perhaps suggested to him the Commentary on the Schriven to the, God, be folke; al folke to the
Apocalypse, with which his work upon the Bible-text schrive.
may have begun. He may then have written ComThe erthe gaf his fruite bilive.
mentaries on the Gospels of Matthew, Luke, and Blisse us, God; our God us blisse And drede him all endes of erthe thisse.
6 Lad, led. The first prose version of the Psalms in Transition 7 Bistiges, paths. First-English “stig," a path. An italic , stands English was made about the year 1327, by William of
here for the softened 9, represented in Transition English by a moi.
fied letter like 3. Such a g disappears or becomes y or gh in modern Shoreham, who was Vicar of Chart Sutton, in Kent,
& Wonne, dwell. First-English “ wunian."
9 Halouis, saints. First-English “halga," from "halig," boly. 1 Milthe. First-English “milts," mercy; "miltsian,” to pity, to be 10 Heeld, poured. Icelandic “hella,” to pour out. So in Wielit's gracious.
translation of Mark's Gospel, “No man sendith newe wyn in-to old a Genge, nations, congregations of people. First-English "genge," botelis, ellis the wyn shal berste the wyn-vesselis, and the wyn sball a flock.
be held out." 3 Ai, ever. • Demes, judgest.
11 Hethyng, scoff, Icelandic “hætha," to scoff at; "hæthing,". & Steres, rulest. First-English "steoran," to steer, rule, govern. sco.Sing.
John; but his authorship of these is doubtful. In the Prologue to the Commentary upon Matthew's Gospel, their compiler strongly urged that the whole Scriptures ought to be translated into English. His Commentaries included the text they explained, and their method is set forth by himself in this passage of his Prologue to the Commentary upon Luke :
“Herefore a poor caitiff? letted from preaching for a time for causes known of God, writeth the Gospel of Luke in English, with a short exposition of old and holy doctors, to the poor men of his nation which cunnen little Latin either none, and ben poor of wit and of worldly catel, and natheless rich of goodwill to please God. First this poor caitiff setteth a full sentence of the text together, that it may well be known from the exposition ; afterwards he setteth a sentence of a doctor declaring the text; and in the end of the sentence he setteth the doctor's name, that men mowen know verily how far his sentence goeth. Only the text of the Holy Writ, and sentence of old doctors and approved, ben set in this ex. position.”
the Acts of the Apostles, and of the Epistles, as well as of the Apocalypse.
The chief translator in Wiclif's time of the books of the Old Testament was Nicholas of Hereford. The original copy of his English version of the Old Testament is in the Bodleian Library at Oxford, corrected throughout by a contemporary hand. A second copy in the Bodleian is a transcript made from the first before it was corrected, and it is in this early transcript that the translation is said to have been made by Nicholas de Hereford. This Nicholas was a Doctor of Divinity in Queen's College, Oxford, and was in 1382—two years before Wiclif's death-one of the Lollard leaders in the University. On Ascension Day in that year he preached at St. Frideswide's by order of the Chancellor. A few days later, on the 18th of May, he was cited before a synod of Dominicans at London, and on the 20th he delivered a paper containing his opinions. On the 1st of July, at an adjourned meeting in Canterbury, he was excommunicated. He appealed to the Pope, went, it is said, to Rome, and was there imprisoned. Released with other prisoners during an insurrection, he came to England, where, in January, 1386, he was committed to prison for life by the Archbishop of Canterbury. In August, 1387, he was free, and aiding Reformation. In October, 1393, he was present when Walter Brute, of Hereford, was charged with heresy. In February, 1394, he was made Chancellor of the Cathedral at Hereford, and in March, 1397, he became Treasurer of the Cathedral. He was an old man when he resigned that office, in 1417, and joined the Carthusians of St. Anne's, at Coventry, among whom he died. This is a piece of his Old Testament translation :
While Wiclif was at work, another writer, whose name is unknown, but whose English is of the North of England, produced Commentaries upon Matthew, Mark, and Luke, executed upon the same principle. This writer said in his preface to the Commentary on Matthew :
“Here begins the exposition of St. Matthew after the chapters that ben set in the Bible, the chapters of which Gospel ben eight-and-twenty.
“ This work some time I was stirred to begin of one that I suppose verily was God's servant, and ofttimes prayed me this work to begin; sayand to me, that sethin the Gospel is rule, by the whilk each Christian man owes to life,divers has drawen it into Latin, the whilk tongue is not knowen to ilk man, but only to the lered, and many lewd men are that gladly would con the Gospel if it were drawen into English tongue, and so it should do great profit to man soul, about the whilk profit ilk man that is in the grace of God, and to whom God has sent conning, owes heartily to busy him. Wherefore I that through the grace of God began this work, so stirred, as I have said before, by such word, thought in my heart that I was holden by charity this work to begin; and so this work I began at the suggestion of God's servant. And greatly in this doing I was comforted of other of God's servants divers, to such time that through the grace of God I brought this to an end. In the whilk outdrawing I set not of mine head, nor of mine own fantasy, but as I found in other expositors."
God have merci of vs, and blisse to vs, ligte to his chere vpon vs; and haue mercy of vs. That wee knowo in the erthe thi weie ; in alle jentilis thi helthe givere. Knoulecho to thee puplis, God; knouleche to thee alle puplis. Gladen and ful out ioge jentilis, for thou demest pupils in equite; and jentilis in the erthe thou dressist. Knouleche to thee puplis, God, knouleche to thee alle puplis; the erthe gaf his frut. Blesse vs God, oure God, blesse us God; and drede him alle the coostus of erthe.
And here is a specimen of Wiclif's New Testament translation. It is from
MATTHEW'S GOSPEL-CHAPTER VI.
Another unknown worker made a version of St. Paul's Epistles into Latin and English. To Wiclif is ascribed a translation into English of Clement of Llanthony's “Harmony of the Gospels,” and then, by separating the text from the annotation in his Commentaries, he is said to have produced complete English versions of the separate Gospels. Wiclif himself is believed to have been also the translator of
Take zee 3 hede, lest je don jour rizt wisnesse before men, that zee be seen of hem, ellis ze shule nat han meed at zoure fadir that is in heuenes. Therfore when thou dost almesse, nyle thou synge byfore thee in a trumpe, as ypocritis don in synagogis and streetis, that thei ben maad worshipful of men; forsothe Y saye to zou, thei han resceyued her meede. But thee doynge almesse, knowe nat the left hond what thi rizt
i Mr. Thomas Arnold argues, among other things in opposition to Wiclif's authorship of the Commentary, that he could hardly have called himself a “poor caitiff," and that he was never “letted from preaching."
2 Orres to life, ought to live.
3 zee. The character at the beginning of this word is here used throughout for the soft g, which it resembles. It is not %. (See Note 2, page 19.)
hond doth, that thi almes be in hidlis, and thi fadir that seeth. In the last years of his life. after he had secured in hidlis, shal zelde to thee. And when 3e shuln preye, zee a translation of the whole Bible into English by shuln nat be as ypocritis, the whiche stondynge louen to preye himself and his fellow-workers, Wiclif wrote many in synagogis and corners of streetis, that thei be seen of men; English tracts on the religious questions of the day; trewly Y say to 3ou, thei han resseyued her meede. But whan
and his labour for Reformation, that had begun with thou shalt preye, entre in to thi couche, and the dore schet,
the corruptions of Church discipline, included more preye thi fadir in hidlis, and thi fadir that seeth in hidlis,
argument against what he held to be corruptions of shal zeelde to thee. Sothely preyinge nyle zee speke moche,
Church doctrine, especially upon the old question as hethen men don, for thei gessen that thei ben herd in theire
of the real presence of Christ in the bread and wine moche speche. Therfore nyl ze be maad liche to hem, for
of the Sacrament. In 1381 he issued twelve pro3oure fadir woot what is need to 30u, before that ze axen
positions against the doctrine of transubstantiation. hym. Forsothe thus 3e shulen preyen, Oure fadir that art
In 1382, the London Dominicans, or Black Friars, in heuenes, halwid be thi name; thi kyngdom cumme to; be
as custodians of orthodox opinion, condemned as thi wille don as in heuen and” in erthe; zif to vs this day
heretical twenty-four conclusions drawn from Dr. oure breed oure other substaunce; and forzeue to vs oure dettis, as we forzeue to oure dettours; and leede vs nat in to
Wiclif's writings. Apparently in reply to this came
the tract setting forth “Fifty Heresies and Errors temptacioun, but delyuere vs fro yuel. Amen. Forsothe zif 3ee shulen forzeue to men her synns, and 3oure heuenly fadir
of Friars," ascribed to Wiclif, and probably his, but shal forzeue to zou zoure trespassis. Sothely zif zee shulen
perhaps by one of his followers. Wiclif was then for 3eue not to men, neither 30ure fadir shal forzeue to
| banished from the University, and in 1381 was zou zoure synnes. But when zee fasten, nyl ze be maad as
summoned to appear before the Pope ; but on the ypocritis sorweful, for thei putten her facis out of kyndly last day of that year he died. termys, that thei seme fastynge to men; trewly Y say to you, Of the personal appearance of the first great Eng. thei han resseyued her meede. But whan thou fastist, anoynte lish Church Reformer there are only two records. One thin hede, and washe thi face, that thou be nat seen fastynge to men, but to thi fadir that is in hidlis, and thi fadir that seeth in hidlis, shal zeelde to thee. Nyle ze tresoure to you tresours in erthe, wher rust and moužthe distruyeth, and wher theeues deluen out and stelen; but tresoure zee to zou tresouris in heuene, wher neither rust ne moužthe distruyeth, and wher theues deluen nat out, ne stelen. Forsothe wher thi tresour is there and a thin herte is. The lanterne of thi body is thin eze; zif thin eize be symple, al thi body shal be liztful; bot zif thyn eize be weyward, al thi body shal be derkful. Therfore zif the lizt that is in thee be derknessis, how grete shulen thilk derknessis be? No man may serue to two lordis, forsothe ethir he shal haat the toon, and loue the tother; other he shal susteyn the toon, and dispise the tothir. 3e mown nat serue to God and richessis. Therfore Y say to zou, that ze ben nat besie to 3oure lijf, what ze shulen ete; othir to 3oure body, with what 3e shuln be clothid. Wher3 30ure lijf is nat more than mete, and the body more than clothe? Beholde 3e the fleezinge foulis of the eir, for thei sowen nat, ne repyn, neither gadren in to bernys; and youre fadir of heuen fedith hem. Wher ze ben nat more worthi than thei? Sothely who of you thenkinge may putte to to his stature oo
JOHN WICLIF. cubite? And of clothing what ben ze besye ? Beholde ze
From Bale's “ Centuries of British Writers" (1548). the lilies of the feelde, how thei wexen. Thei traueilen nat, nether spynnen. Trewly I say to 3ou, for whi neither is the portrait, said to have been by Sir Antonio Salamon in al his glorie was keuerid as oon of thes. For zif | More, which Dr. Thomas Zouch, Rector of Wycliffe, God clothith thus the heye of the feeld, that to day is, and to in Yorkshire, gave to the rectory in 1796, to be premorwe is sente in to the fourneyse, how moche more zou of
served by the rectors who should succeed him, as an litil feith? Therfore nyl ze be bisie, sayinge, What shulen
heirloom of the rectory house. A copy of it is at the we ete ? or, What shulen we drynke? or, With what thing
commencement of this chapter. The other record, shulen we be keuered ? Forsothe heithen men sechen alle
perhaps more trustworthy, is a woodcut portrait these thingis; trewly 3oure fadir wote that ze han need to
which appeared in the first edition, published in 1548, alle these thingis. Therfore seke zee first the kyngdam of God
and only in that first edition, of John Bale's " Cenand his rizt wisnesse, and alle these thingis shulen be cast to 3ou. Therfore nyle ze be besie in to the morwe, for the
turies of the Illustrious Writers of Great Britain." morew day shal be besie to it self ; sothely it sufficith to the day his malice.
* A noble edition of Wiclif's Bible was published by the l'niversity of Oxford in 1850 : “The Holy Bible, containing the Old and New
Testaments, with the Apocryphal Books, in the Earliest English 1 Hidlis, a secret place. First-English “hydels.” So Wiclif Version made from the Latin Vulgate, by John Wycliffe and bis translates “Exultatio eorum sicut ejus qui devorat pauperem in Followers. Edited by the Rev. Josiah Forshall, F.R.S., &c, lato abscondito,” “The gladnes of hem, as of hym that devoureth the Fellow of Exeter College, and Sir Frederick Madden, K.H.F.R.S. pore in hidlis."
&c., Keeper of the MSS. in the British Museum. Oxford l'niversity ? And, also. 3 Wher, whether.
This is well executed, and except woodcuts of Bale Malvern, and then seems to have been engaged in himself presenting his book to Edward VI., it is the that house upon offices of the Church. His Vision only portrait in the volume. The publisher of that was represented as occurring to him while he slept edition must, therefore, have valued it as a copy from from time to time on Malvern Hills. The opening some trustworthy original which is not now to be lines may be variously interpreted :found. The picture ascribed to Sir Antonio More must also have been copied from a portrait now lost,
“In a somer scson whan soft was the sonne and there is likeness enough between the two.
I shope me in shroudes as I a shepe were, Fellow-worker and contemporary with John Wiclif
In habit as an heremite unholy of workes, was William Langland. His religious poem called
Went wyde in this world wondres to here.” “ The Vision of Piers Plowman” was addressed to the whole body of the English people, and dealt
Shepe here is said to mean shepherd, and William earnestly with the material condition of the country,
is supposed to have put on a shepherd's dress, which so far as that concerned its spiritual life. It was
resembled that of a hermit. Hermit “unholy of in the old English form of alliterative verse, and
works” was paraphrased by Dr. Whitaker as meanhad a vocabulary rich, not only by the acquisition of
ing “not like an anchorite who keeps his cell, but
like one of those unholy hermits who wander about new words from the Norman-French, but by the retention of old English words which had already
| the world to see and hear wonders," and some such become obsolete in the cultivated English of the
sense of depreciation is usually given to the phrase. towns, though still familiar among the people. Its
I think that “shepe" means sheep, as the opposite to popular English-English rather of the country than
shepherd; and that William on a summer's day put of the town—includes, in fact, so many words of
off the clerical dress that marked his place among which the disuse has, by this time, become general,
the pastors, made himself as one of the flock, in that “The Vision of Piers Plowman" is now to be
habit of a heremite, a man given to contemplation read less easily than contemporary verse of Chaucer's,
in the wilderness, -for Malvern Hills were then and to modern eyes looks older for that which gave
a famous wilderness; and so to William's mind was it, in the ears of those for whom it was written, the
the wide world. He took the form of a man devoting ease of homeliness. It was not the homeliness of an
himself to lonely thought, who was “unholy of ill-taught rusticity, but of an educated man of genius
works,” because he made himself as one of the flock, who loved God and his country, and laboured to lift
not of the pastors, thinking and feeling as one of the many eyes from amidst the troubles of those times
people of England, and as if he were not vowed to to Christ, typified by the Plowman of whom he told
the sole contemplation of God. I do not suppose his Vision. “ The Vision of Piers Plowman” de
unholy to have any bad sense, but to mean only that serves European fame as one of the great poems of
William made himself, for the purpose of the poem, the fourteenth century; but it is enough for Lang
as one of the people, and put aside for a time his land if, after many years, his own countrymen shall
work as of one in holy orders. That he was incorstill hold him in memory, and honour him because
porated in some way with the great religious house they share the spirit of his work.
at Malvern is made the more probable by the account William Langland' may have been born, as John
| he gave in later life of his means of subsistence when Bale says that he was, at Cleobury Mortimer, in
living in Cornhill with Kit his wife :Shropshire, or, as a fifteenth-century note on one
“ And ich lyue in London and on London both MS. of his poems says that he was, at Shipton
The lomes ? that ich laboure with and lyflode3 deserve under-Wychwood, four miles from Burford, in Oxford
Ys pater-noster and my prymer, placebo and dirige, shire, the son of a freeman named Stacy de Rokayle,
And my sauter som tyme and my seuone psalmes. who lived there as a tenant under Lord le Spenser.
Thus ich synge for hure soules of suche as me helpen Upon one MS. he is called William W., which may
And tho* that fynden me my fode." possibly mean William de Wychwood. In a part of his poem which contains a reference to the accession
The freedom with which William Langland entered of Richard II. in 1377, Langland seems to speak of
into the new spirit of reformation stayed, no doubt, his own age as forty-five :
his advancement in the Church. Such a man as a “Coveytise-of-eyghes conforted me anon after
married priest, with a wife Kit and Calot a daughter, And folwed me fourty wynter and a fyfte more.”
might live in London and on London by the help of
those who shared his aspirations and could lighten If we take this as direct evidence, the earliest pos the burden of his daily life; but he had entirely sible date of Langland's birth would be 1332. He turned his back upon the race for Church preferment, was well educated, perhaps in the Priory School at and had indeed, in the eyes of the Church superiors,
“shope himself in shroudes as he a shepe were, in
habit as an heremite unholy of workes." He had 1 Bale, in his Latin “Centuries of the Illustrious Writers of Great
gone out into the wilderness that he might tell us of Britain," called him Robert Langland, born at Cleobury Mortimer, in the clayland, and within eight miles of Malver Mills. But earlier than this sixteenth-century evidence of a writer who abounds in errors, is the evidence of the titles of MSS. which always call him William, 2 Lomes, utensils. First-English “lóma” and “gelóma," household of the anthor's own use of “Will” when he speaks of himself, and stuff, utensils, furniture, stock, store. of a record on a Dublin MS. in a band of the fifteenth century, 3 Lyflode (First-English "lifáde"), maintenance, livelihood. which describes him as William of Langland, son of Stacy de Rokayle. Tho, those.