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to meddle with the affair, and therefore issued a proclamation dated October 24, 1603, “ touching a meeting for the hearing and for the determining things pretended to be amiss in the church.”
This meeting was held on the 14th, 16th and 18th of January, 1604, in the drawing room of Hampton Court, and is thence called the “ Hampton Court Conference.”
Sixty years, with all their sudden and often evil changes, had now passed since within these stately walls Henry VIII. had studied the canon law to justify to himself his divorce from Katharine of Arragon; since here Anne Boleyn had revelled in all the luxury offered her by her fickle husband; since here Jane Seymour had been delivered by a natural death from all the perils which surrounded a wife of Henry; since here, in her turn, Anne of Cleves had awaited her divorce, Katharine Howard had spent a brief holiday, and Katharine Parr had given her hand to the adulterous monarch whom she was destined to survive. A new scene was now to be enacted here by the successor of the Tudors. On New Year's day of this year Shakspeare's company performed before the King in the great hall of the palace. On the 14th of the same month, James I. in his privy chamber prepared a drama of another sort, in which he was to be the chief actor. With the Lords of the Council, the Bishops and the church dignitaries of the realm, he met the delegates of the Millenary petitioners, Dr. John Reynolds and Dr. Thomas Sparks of Oxford, Mr. Chadderton and Mr. Knewstubbs of Cambridge.
“ The King sits as Moderator,” says á lively modern writer; " His notion of moderation is not altogether uncommon, — to have all the talk to himself, and to abuse every one who ventured to hint a difference of opinion. Little did he allow the Divinity Professors to say; and when he was exhausted with his own harangues, he exclaimed that, if they had disputed so lamely in a college, he would have had them up, and flogged them for dunces; and that, if that was all they could say, he would have them all conform, or hurry them out of the land, or do worse for them."
> *• I peppered them soundly,' said the conceited pedant; and he shuffled about in his padded trunk hose, and chuckled and winked as the Bishop of London went down on his knees and protested that his heart melted with joy, and acknowledged God's singular mercy in giving them such a king." A dismal prospect this for non-conformity! But this conference, though it did little if anything for the cause of the non-conformists, did more than afford James an opportunity to display his self-conceit and his arrogance. For, on the second day of the conference Dr. Reynolds, President of Corpus Christi College, Oxford, the chief speaker on the part of the petitioners, moved his majesty that, inasmuch as the existing translations were manifestly incorrect, there might be a new translation of the Bible. To this proposal Bancroft, Bishop of London, replied that, if every man's humor should be followed, there would be no end of translating. The king, however, assented to the proposal, saying that he had never yet seen a good English version, though of all he had seen “the worst was the Genevan,”— the one it will be remembered which was now most popular, but one whose notes showed no favor to the King's favorite doctrine of the royal supremacy. He proposed that a translation should be made by learned men in both universities, that it should then be revised by the bishop, laid before the Privy Council, and last of all ratified by the authority of his own kingly scholarship.
It will be recollected that at this time two versions were in use, the “ Bishops,” preferred by the Church party, the “ Genevan,” used by the non-conformist. While Reynolds' proposal seems to have aimed at supplanting the former, James's evidently aimed to supplant the latter. From these mutual jealousies came forth the decree for a new translation, which was to be published without note or comment.
On the 22d of July, 1604, the king wrote to the Archbishop of Canterbury (Bancroft, translated from the see of London), stating that he had appointed fifty-four learned men for this work, and making provision for their support and compensation during its prosecution. These men were
in some instances nominated by the universities, and then appointed by the king; and in others selected directly by him for their known accomplishments and scholarship.
The kingdom could not have presented a nobler array of oriental, classical, and theological learning than that offered by this company of translators.
Dr. Launcelot Andrews, Dean of Westminster, and afterwards bishop of Chichester, the most celebrated preacher and the sternest defender of High Church doctrines in the reign of James, brought to the work his brilliant talents and sincere devotion. Adrian de Saravia, previously Divinity Professor at Leyden, a celebrated linguist, lent the aid of his profound knowledge of the original tongues. Dr. Laifield contributed his skill in architecture, to the details of the structure of the tabernacle and the temple. Cambridge and Oxford both offered to the work their Regius Professors of Hebrew and of Greek. There were Doctors of Divinity, learned dignitaries of the principal sees of the English Church, whole libraries of Biblical learning, and men of equal scholarship and as unquestionable piety, from the ranks of the non-conformists.
Though fifty-four persons are, in James's letter, said to have been appointed, the names of but forty-seven appear in the list of actual translators. The remaining seven were probably the bishops who were to revise the whole work. The translators met in three companies; the appointees of each university within their respective precincts; those of the king at Westminster. Each of these companies was again divided; so that there were six sections in all.
In July, 1604, their instructions were given to them. The substance of these was as follows: Inasmuch as they proposed only to make a good version better, the Bishops' Bible was to be taken as the basis of translation, and altered as little as possible. The preferences of the Puritan Churches for the superior Genevan version were, therefore, neither consulted nor indulged. Little, if any, alteration, was to be permitted in the division of chapters, or in proper names; and no change in the ecclesiastical phraseology, Church, “ bishops," “ deacons,” etc. All non-conforming tendencies were thus guarded against. The authority of the Fathers, the analogy of Faith, and the opinions of learned men in the land, were to be sought for the determination of doubtful or obscure readings. No marginal notes were to torture the sense of the text; and brief explanations of difficult Hebrew and Greek words, with references to parallel passages alone were to find a place beside the simple version. The following translations were to be used in preference to the Bishops when they agreed better with the original — and in the following order of precedence: Tyndale's, Matthew's, Coverdale's, Cranmer's, – the Genevan. “Every particular man of each compiny," so ran the phrase, was “ to take the same chapter or chapters, and having translated or amended them severally by himself, when he thought good, all to meet together to confer what they had done, and to agree, for their part, what should stand;" i. e., in each company there would be from seven to ten independent versions, out of which would emerge one revised or re-translated text. “ As one company despatched any one book in this manner they should send it to the rest to be considered of seriously and judiciously. If any company, on the review of the book so sent, should doubt or differ upon any place, to send them word thereof, note the places, and therewithal send their reasons; to which, if they consented not, the difference to be compounded at a general meeting of the chief persons of each company, at the end of the work." Every part of the Bible would thus be examined at least fourteen times distinctly, many parts fifteen times, and some seventeen. We can scarcely conceive of a plan which would secure a more faithful and thorough version. In 1607, the translators were diligently at work. Their delay in beginning is accounted for, frst, by the death of one of the chief scholars. of their number, Livelie, Hebrew Pi fessor ai Cambridge ; and, secondly, by the lack of funds --- which neither Church nor -tate free?; contributed, and which the ritentee of the edition, Rober" Barker, at last largely supplied,
with this title, “ The Holy Bible, containing the Old Testament and the New; newly translated out of the original tongues, and with the former translations diligently compared and revised, by his majesty's special commandment. Appointed to be read in the Churches.” It was preceded by a dedication to the king, and a preface, showing the reasons for a new version, answering objections, describing the labors of the translators, explaining certain things peculiar to the translation, and concluding with an address to the gentle reader.
Thus introduced and commended to the public, the present version commenced its career. It is cominonly called the authorized version, but the only authority for its circulation is found in the proceedings of the conference at Hampton Court, before James's coronation. No royal act or decree of Parliament made it the exclusively approved version. No decision of the convocation gave it the monopoly of the popular favor. The Genevan version in some ten editions was published for seven or eight years after 1611, and that too without prohibition. The appointment mentioned in the title referred only to the public assemblies of the people. The acknowledged superiority of the new version is the sole ground of its subsequent almost universal use.
We have now traced the course of events by which we became possessed of this admirable translation of the Scriptures. We have seen Wiclif battling with monkish corruption and papal error, and then from the retirement of Lutterworth sending forth to his unenlightened countrymen a defence of his opinions and a formidable weapon of controversy in his English version of the Bible. We have seen Tyndale, a refugee from England, leading, on the continent, in privation and peril, a “poure apostle's life," while he redeemed that glorious pledge made by him to the Romish Doctor, that he would cause the plough-boy to excel him in knowledge of the Scriptures. We have seen the fulfilment of his martyr's prayer,—" Lord, open the King of England's eyes,"—in the permitted publication and royal dedication of the subsequent translation of the entire Bible by his coadjutor,
Vol. XV. No 58.