« AnteriorContinuar »
And in his almus he sew sylver
SIR JOHN MANDEVILLE.
The translations of King Alfred, the Saxon While St Serf, intil a stead,
Chronicle, Saxon laws, charters, and ecclesiastical Lay after matins in his bed,
histories, more or less tinctured with the NormanThe devil came, in foul intent
French, are our earliest prose compositions. The For til found him with argument,
first English book was SIR JOHN MANDEVILLE's And said : 'St Serf, by thy werk
Travels, written in 1356. Mandeville was born at I ken thou art a cunning clerk.'
St Albans in the year 1300, and received the St Serf said : 'Gif I sae be,
liberal education requisite for the profession of Foul wretch, what is that for thee?'
medicine. During the thirty-four years previous The devil said : 'This questión
to 1356, he travelled in Eastern countries (where I ask in our collation
he appears to have been received with great kindSay where was God, wit ye oucht, Before that heaven and erd was wroucht?'
ness); and on his return to England, wrote an St Serf said: 'In himself steadless
account of all he had seen, mixed with innumHis Godhead hampered never was.'
able fables, derived from preceding historians The devil then askit : "What cause he had and romancers, as well as from hearsay. His To make the creatures that he made?'
book was originally written in Latin, then transTo that St Serf answered there :
lated into French, and finally into English, that Of creatures made he was makér.
every man of my nacioun may undirstonde it.' A maker micht he never be,
The following extract, in the original spelling, is But gif creatures made had he.'
from the edition of 1839, edited by J. O. HalliThe devil askit him : “Why God of noucht well: His werkis all full gude had wroucht?' St Serf answered : That Goddis will
The Beginning of Mohammed. Was never to make his werkis ill,
And yee schull understonde, that Machamote was And as envious he had been seen,
born in Arabye, that was first a pore knave, that kepte Gif nought but he full gude had been.'
cameles, that wenten with marchantes for marchandise ; St Serf the devil askit than :
and so befelle that he wente with the marchantes in to "Where God made Adam, the first man?'
Egipt : and thei weren thanne cristene, in tho partyes. “In Ebron Adam formit was,
And at the deserts of Arabye he wente into a chapelle, St Serf said. And till him Sathanas :
where a eremyte duelte. And whan he entered into "Where was he, eft that, for his vice,
the chapelle, that was but a lytille and a low thing, and He was put out of Paradise?'
had but a lytyl dore and a low, than the entree began to St Serf said : Where he was made.'
wexe so gret, and so large, and so high, as though it The devil askit : 'How lang he bade
hadde ben of a gret mynstre or the gate of a paleys. In Paradise, after his sin ?'
And this was the first myracle, the Sarazins seyn, that 'Seven hours,' Serf said, 'bade be therein.' Machomete dide in his youthe. Aftre began he for to 'When was Eve made ?' said Sathanas.
wexe wyse and ryche, and he was a gret astronomer. ' In Paradise,' Serf said, 'she was.'... The devil askit: Why that ye
In the following the spelling is simplified :
A Mohammedan's Lecture on Christian Vices.
And therefore I shall tell you what the Soudan told Fell through your awn iniquity;
me upon a day, in his chamber. He let voiden out of And through ourselves we never fell,
his chamber all manner of men, lords and other; for he But through your fellon false counsell.' ... would speak with me in counsel. And there he asked Then saw the devil that he could noucht, me how the Christian men governed 'em in our country, With all the wiles that he wrought,
And I said [to] him : 'Right well, thonked be God.' Overcome St Serf. He said than
And he said (to) me: 'Truly nay; for ye Christian men He kenned him for a wise man.
ne reckon right not how untruly to serve God. Ye Forthy there he gave him quit,
should given ensample to the lewed people for to do For he wan at him na profit.
well, and ye given 'em ensample to don evil. For the
commons, upon festival days, when they shoulden go to While Wyntoun was inditing his legendary church to serve God, then gon they to taverns, and ben chronicle in the priory at Lochleven, a secular there in gluttony all the day and all night, and eaten and priest, JOHN FORDUN, canon of Aberdeen cathe- drinken, as beasts that have no reason, and wit not when
And therewithal they ben so proud, dral, was gathering and recording the annals of they have enow. Scotland in Latin. Fordun brought his history,
that they knowen not how to ben clothed ; now long, Scotichronicon, down to the death of David I. in daggered, and in all manner guises. They shoulden ben
now short, now strait, now large, now sworded, now 1153, but had collected materials extending to the simple, meek, and true, and full of alms-deed, as Jesu year 1385, about which time he is supposed to was, in whom they trow; but they ben all the contrary, have died. His history was then taken up and and ever inclined to the evil, and to don evil. And they continued to the death of James I. (1437) by ben so covetous, that for a little silver they sellen 'eir WALTER BOWER or BOWMAKER, abbot of the daughters, 'eir sisters, and 'eir own wives, to putten 'em monastery of St Colm, in the Firth of Forth. to lechery. And one withdraweth the wife of another ;
and none of 'em holdeth faith to another, but they de1 Scattered, distributed. 2 From the Danish mister, to want. foulen 'eir law, that Jesu Christ betook 'em keep for
'eir salvation. And thus for 'eir sins, han [have] they * St Serf lived in the sixth century, and was the founder of the lost all this lond that we holden. For 'eir sins here, monastery of which the author was prior. The spelling of the hath God taken 'em in our honds, not only by strength above extract is modernised.
of ourself, but for 'eir sins. For we knowen well in the mendicant friars and the papal tribute ; but very sooth, that when ye serve God, God will help you; having opened a course of theological lectures in and when he is with you, no man may be against you. Oxford-there being then no formal professor of And that know we well by our prophecies, that Christian divinity-he gave more steady and effectual exmen shall winnen this lond again out of our honds, when pression to what were termed his heresies.
The they serven God more devoutly. But as long as they substance of his lectures he embodied in a Latin ben of foul and unclean living (as they ben now), we have no dread of 'em in no kind ; for here God will not treatise, the Trialogus, which is directly opposed helpen 'em in no wise.'
to the leading tenets of the Roman Catholic And then I asked him how he knew the state of Church. Wycliffe, however, did not lose favour Christian men. And he answered me, that he knew all by this bold course. He was selected, in 1374, as the state of the commons also by his messengers ; that one of a commission that met at Avignon with he sent to all londs, in manner as they were merchants the papal envoys, to remonstrate against the of precious stones, of cloths of gold, and of other things, power claimed by the pope over English benefor to knowen the manner of every country amongs fices. Some concessions were made by the pope, Christian men. And then he let clepe in all the lords and Wycliffe was rewarded by the crown with a that he made voiden first out of his chamber ; and there prebend in Worcestershire, and the rectory of he shewed me four that were great lords in the country, Lutterworth in Leicestershire—the latter being that tolden me of my country, and of many other Christian countries, as well as if they had been of the afterwards his chief residence. The heads of the same country, and they spak French right well, and church, however, soon got alarmed at the teaching the Soudan also, whereof I had great marvel. 'Alas, and opinions of Wycliffe. He was several times that it is great slander to our faith and to our laws, when cited for heresy, and though strenuously defended folk that ben withouten law shall reproven us, and under by the Duke of Lancaster, he was obliged to shut nemen us of our sins. And they that shoulden ben his theological class in the year 1381. Shortly converted to Christ and to the law of Jesu, by our good previous to this, he had put forth decided views example and by our acceptable life to God, ben through against the doctrine of transubstantiation. Thus our wickedness and evil living, far fro us; and strangers cut off from public employment, Wycliffe retired fro the holy and very belief shall thus appellen us and to his rectory at Lutterworth, and there, besides holden us for wicked levirs and cursed. And truly writing a number of short treatises, he commenced they say sooth. For the Saracens ben good and faithful. the translation of the whole of the Scriptures. For they keepen entirely the commandment of the holy He was assisted by some disciples and learned book Alcoran, that God sent 'em by his messager, friends in translating the Bible from the Latin Mohammed; to the which as they sayen, St Gabriel, the angel, oftentime told the will of God.
Vulgate, and the completion of this great work is referred to the year 1383. Wycliffe died in
1384. The religious movement which he origiJOHN DE TREVISA.
nated proceeded with accelerated force. Twenty In the year 1387, JOHN TREVISA, a native of years afterwards, the statute for burning heretics Cornwall, but vicar of Berkeley, Gloucestershire, was passed; and in 1484, the bones of Wycliffe translated Higden's Polychronicon. He trans- were dug up from the chancel of the church at lated various other Latin works; and, it is said, Lutterworth, burned to ashes, and the ashes finished a translation of the Bible (now lost), at thrown into the river Swift. This brook,' says the command of his patron, Lord Berkeley. The Fuller, the church historian, in a passage which translation of Higden's Polychronicon, 'conteyning brings quaintness to the borders of sublimity, the berynges and dedes of many tymes,' was 'hath conveyed his ashes into Avon, Avon into printed by Caxton in 1482. In this work, Trevisa Severn, Severn into the narrow seas, they into the (or Higden) says the Scots "draw somewhat' main ocean : and thus the ashes of Wycliffe are after the speech of the Picts. Men of the east the emblem of his doctrine, which is now dispersed of England, he says, accorded more in speech all the world over.' with those of the west than the men of the south The writings of Wycliffe were voluminous and did with the north. 'Al the longage of the North- widely circulated, though unaided by the printingumbres, specialych at Yorke, ys so scharp, slyt- press. His style is vigorous and searching, more tinge, frotynge, unschape, that we Southeron men homely than scholastic. He was what we would may that longage unnethe understond.'
now call a thorough church-reformer. The best specimens of his English are to be found in his
translation of the Bible, which materially aided in JOHN WYCLIFFE.
the development of the resources of the English JOHN DE WYCLIFFE, the distinguished ecclesi-language. A splendid edition of Wycliffe's Bible astical reformer and translator of the Bible, was a was printed at the Clarendon Press, Oxford, in native of the parish of Wycliffe, near Richmond, 1850, edited by the Rev. J. Forshall and Sir in Yorkshire. He was born in 1324; studied at Frederick Madden. Oxford ; and in 1361 obtained the living of Fylingham, in the diocese of Lincoln, and the master
Gospel of St Mark, Chapter 1.* ship and wardenship of Baliol College. In 1365,
i The bigynnynge of the gospel of Jhesu Crist, the he was transferred to the wardenship of Canter- sone of God. bury Hall--his predecessor, named Wodehall,
2 As it is writun in Ysaie, the prophete, Lo! I send being deposed; but the next archbishop, Langham, myn angel bisore thi face, that schal make thi weye redy
. restored Wodehall, and Wycliffe appealing to the pope, the cause was decided against him. This the weye of the Lord, make ye his pathis rihtful.
3 The voyce of oon cryinge in desert, Make ye redy personal matter may have sharpened his zeal
4 Jhon was in desert baptisynge, and prechinge the against the papal supremacy and doctrines, which baptym of penaunce, into remiscioun of synnes. he had previously dissented from and begun to attack. His first writings were directed against spelled two or threc different ways in the same page.
* The orthography is very irregular, the same word being often
5. And alle men of Jerusalem wenten out to him, and mayden : for lo for this alle generatiouns schulen seye al the cuntree of Judee; and weren baptisid of him in that I am blessid. the flood of Jordan, knowlechinge her synnes.
For he that is mighti hath don to me grete thingis, 6 And John was clothid with heeris of camelis, and and his name is holy. a girdil of skyn abowte his leendis ; and he eet locusts, And his mercy is fro kyndrede into kyndredis to men and hony of the wode, and prechide, seyinge :
that dreden him. 7 A strengere than I schal come aftir me, of whom I He hath made myght in his arm, he scatteride proude knelinge am not worthi for to yndo, or vnbynde, the men with the thoughte of his herte. thwong of his schoon.
He sette doun myghty men fro seete, and enhaunside 8 I have baptisid you in water ; forsothe he shal meke men. He hath fulfillid hungry men with goodis, baptise you in the Holy Goost.
and he has left riche men voide. 9 And it is don in thoo dayes, Jhesus came fro He heuynge mynde of his mercy took up Israel his Nazareth of Galilee, and was baptisid of Joon in Jordan. child.
10 And anoon he styinge vp of the water, sayth As he hath spokun to oure fadris, to Abraham, and to heuenes openyd, and the Holy Goost cummynge doun his seed into worlds. as a culuere, and dwellynge in hym.
11 And a voys is maad fro heuenes, thou art my sone loued, in thee I haue plesid.
Of Wycliffe's earlier controversial works, the 12 And anon the Spirit puttide hym in to desert. following on the mendicant friars is characteristic,
13 And he was in desert fourty dayes and fourty the orthography being modernised : nightis, and was temptid of Sathanas, and was with beestis and angelis mynstriden to hym. 14 Forsothe aftir that Joon was taken, Jhesus came
The Mendicant Friars. in to Galilee, prechinge the gospel of the kyngdam of God,
Friars been most perilous enemies to Holy Church dam of God shall come "niy; forthinke yee, or do yee mark" by year
that they robben falsely of the poor 15 And seiynge, For tyme is fulfillid, and the kyng- and all our land, for they letten curates of their office,
and spenden commonly and needless sixty thousand penaunce, and bileue yee to the gospel.
16 And he passynge bisidis the see of Galilee, say people. For, if curates didden their office in good life Symont, and Andrew, his brother, sendynge nettis' into and true preaching as they been holden upon pain of the see; sothely thei weren fishers.
damning in hell, there were clerks enough of bishops, 17 And Jhesus seide to hem, Come yee after me; I parsons and other priests; and, in ease, over money to shal make you to be maad fishers of men.
the people. And yet two hundred year agone, there 18 And anoon the nettis forsaken, thei sueden hym.
was no friar; and then was our land more plenteous 19 And he gon forth thennes á litil, say James of of cattle and men, and they were then stronger of comZebede, and Joon, his brother, and hem in the boot plexion to labour than now; and then were clerks makynge nettis.
enough. And now been many thousand of friars in 20 And anoon he clepide him ; and Zebede, her fadir, England, and the old curates standen still unamended, left in the boot with hirid seruantis, their sueden hym. and among all sin is mere increased, and the people
21 And thei wenten forth in to Cafarnaum, and anoon charged by sixty thousand mark by year, and therefore in the sabotis he gon yn into the synagoge, taughte it must needs fail; and so friars suffer curates to live in them.
sin, so that they may rob the people and live in their 22 And thei wondreden on his techynge ; sothely he lusts. For, if curates done well their office, friars weren was techynge hem, as hauynge power, and not as scribis. superflue, and our land should be discharged of many
23 And in the synagoge of hem was a man in an thousand mark; and then the people should better pay vnclene spirit, and he cried,
their rents to lords, and dimes and offerings to curates, 24 Seyinge, What to vs and to thee, thou Jhesu of and much flattering and nourishing of sin should be Nazareth? haste thou cummen bifore the tyme for to destroyed, and good life and peace and charity shoulden destroie vs? Y woot thot thou art the holy of God. reign among Christian men. And so when all the
25 And Jhesus thretenyde to hym, seyinge, Wexe ground is sought, friars saien thus, indeed : 'Let old dowmb, and go out of the man.
curates wax rotten in sin, and let them not do their 26 And the vnclene goost debrekynge hym, and office by God's law, and we will live in lusts so long, cryinge with grete vois, wente awey fro hym.
and waste vainly and needless sixty thousand mark by 27 And alle men wondriden, so that thei soughten year of the poor commons of the land, and so at the togidre among hem, seyinge, What is this thinge? | last make dissension between them and their childer what is this newe techyng? for in power he comaundith for dimes and offerings that we will get privily to us to vnclene spirits, and thei obeyen to hym.
by hypocrisy, and make dissension between lords and 28 And the tale, or tything, of hym wente forth anoon
their commons. For we will maintain lords to live in in to al the cuntree of Galilee.
their lusts, extortions, and other sins, and the commons
in covetise, lechery, and other deceits, with false swearThe Magnificat.
ing, and many guiles; and also the curates in their
damnation for leaving of their ghostly office, and to be And Marye seyde : My soul magnifieth the Lord. the procurators of the Fiend for to draw all men to And my spiryt hath gladid in God myn helthe. hell. Thus they done, indeed, however they feignen in For he hath behulden the mekenesse of his hand. hypocrisy of pleasing words.
"HE age of Chaucer was succeeded by a period O liberal prince, ensample of honour,
destitute of original genius, and it was not Unto your grace like it to promote until a century and a half afterwards that the Earl My poor estate, and to my woe beth boot. of Surrey revived the national interest in poetry.
Contemporary with Occleve was JOHN LYDGATE One cause of this literary stagnation was un- (circa 1373-1460), a monk of Bury, born at Lyddoubtedly the disturbed state of the country, in gate, near Newmarket
. His poetical compositions consequence of the sanguinary Wars of the Roses, range over a great variety of styles. "His muse,' and the absorbing influence of religious .contro, says Warton, was of universal access; and he versy inspired by the doctrines of Wycliffe and
was not only the poet of the monastery, but of the dawn of the Reformation. In the latter part the world in general. If a disguising was intended of the fifteenth century, the introduction of the art by the company of goldsmiths, a mask before of printing offered unprecedented and invaluable his majesty at Eltham,
a May-game for the sheriffs facilities for the progress of literature; yet in and aldermen of London, a mumming before the original or powerful composition, we have only, lord mayor, a procession of pageants from the three distinguished names——those of James I. of creation for the festival of Corpus Christi, or a Scotland, Dunbar, and Sir Thomas More,
carol for the coronation, Lydgate was consulted,
and gave the poetry.' The principal works of this OCCLEVE AND LYDGATE.
versatile writer are entitled, The Story of Thebes,
The Falls of Princes, and The Destruction of Troy. THOMAS OCCLEVE (circa 1370–1454) was a dis. He had travelled in France and Italy, and studied ciple of Chaucer, whom he styles his master and the poetry of those countries. poetic father, and whose death he lamented in In the words of Warton,' there is great softness
and facility' in the following passage (spelling
modernised) of Lydgate's Destruction of Troy :
Description of a Silvan Retreat.
Till at the last, among the bowes glade, Alas, that thou thine excellent prudence
Of adventure, I caught a pleasant shade ; In thy bed mortal mightest not bequeathé!
Full smooth, and plain, and lusty for to seen, What ailed Death, alas ! why would he slay thee? And soft as velvet was the yonge green :
Where from my horse I did alight as fast, Occleve's principal work is a version, with ad
And on the bow aloft his reine cast. ditions, of a Latin treatise, De Regimine Prin- So faint and mate of weariness I was, cipium, written by Ægidius, a native of Rome, That I me laid adown upon the grass, about 1280. On Occleve's manuscript, preserved Upon a brinke, shortly for to tell, in the British Museum, is a drawing by him, a Beside the river of a crystal well; portrait of Chaucer, the only likeness of the old And the water, as I reherse can, poet, from which all the subsequent engraved Like quicke silver in his streams y-ran,
Of which the gravel and the brighte stone, portraits have been taken. Occleve's poem is entitled The Governail of Princes, and it was
As any gold, against the sun y-shone. printed entire in 1860, edited by Mr T. Wright for the Roxburghe Club. The poet, it appears; of the poet-a passage in the Story of Thebes,
We add a few lines in the original orthography held the appointment of Clerk of the Privy Seal; and, as in the case of Chaucer and other poetical shewing that truth hath ever in the end victory
over falsehood : officials, his salary or pension seems to have been irregularly paid. He addresses the king (Henry Ageyn trouth falshed hath no myght; V.) on the subject :
Fy on querilis nat grounded upon right!
With-oute which may be no victorye, My yearly guerdon, mine annuity,
Therefor ech man ha this in memoyre, That was me granted for my long labour,
That gret pouer, shortly to conclude, Is all behind; I may not payed be ;
Plenty of good, nor moch multitude, Which causeth me to live in languor.
1 Give remedy.