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WRITERS. [AMP.] John Hanvile took his name (as I conceive) from Hanwell, a village in this county (now the habitation of the ancient family of the Copes), seeing none other in England, both in sound and spelling, draweth nearer to his surname. He proceeded Master of Arts in Oxford: then studied in Paris, and travelled over most parts in Christendom. He is commonly called Archithrenius,* or Prince of Lamentation, being another Jeremy and man of mourning. He wrote a book, wherein he bemoaned the errors and vices of his own age; and himself deserved to live in a better: yet this doleful dove could peck as well as groan, and sometimes was satirical t enough in his passion, there being but a narrow passage betwixt grief and anger; and bitterness is a quality common to them both. He flourished under king John, anno 1200; and, after his return from his travels, is conceived by some to have lived and died a Benedictine of St. Albans.
John of OXFORD was, no doubt, so named from his birth in that city; otherwise, had he only had his education or eminent learning therein, there were hundreds Johns of Oxford as well as himself. 'Hector Boethiust surnamed him a Vado Boum, and owneth him the next historian to Jeffrey Monmouth in age and industry. He was a great anti-Becketist, as many more in that age of greater learning (except stubbornness be made the standard thereof) than Becket himself. Being dean of Old Sarum,g and chaplain to king Henry the Second, he was by him employed, with others, to give an account to the Pope (but I question whether he would take it) of the king's carriage in the business of Becket. He was preferred, anno 1175, bishop of Norwich, where he repaired his cathedral,|| lately defaced with fire, built a fair alms-house, and Trinity church in Ipswich. His death happened anno Domini 1200:
[S. N.] Robert Bacon, first scholar of, afterward a familiar friend to, St. Edmund archbishop of Canterbury, was bred a doctor of divinity in Oxford ; and, when aged, became a Dominican or preaching friar; and for his sermons he was highly esteemed by king Henry the Third. He was lepidus et cynicus, 4 and a most professed enemy to Peter Roach bishop of Winchester.
Matthew Paris** gives him and another (viz. Richard de
Bale, de Scriptoribus Britannicis, Cent. ii. num. 49. + Idem, ibidem.
In the Preface of his History to James king of Scotland. s Bale, de Scriptoribus Britannicis, Cent. iji. num. 42. !! Bishop Godwin, in the Bishops of Norwich.
Bale, de Scriptoribus Britannicis, Cent. iv, num. 4.; and Pits, in anno 1248. ** M. Paris, anno 1233, p. 386.
Fishakle) this praise, “quibus non erant majores, imo nec pares (ut creditur) viventes in theologiâ, et aliis scientiis ; "* and I listen the rather to his commendation, because, being himself a Benedictine monk, he had an antipathy against all friars. I behold this Robert Bacon as the senior of all the Bacons, which, like tributary streams, disembogued themselves, with all the credit of their actions, into Roger Bacon, who, in process of time, hath monopolized the honour of all his surname-sakes in Oxford. Our Robert died anno Domini 1248.
ROBERT of OXFORD was not only an admirer but adorer of Thomas Aquinas, his contemporary ; accounting his opinions oracles, as if it were a venial sin to doubt of, and a mortal to deny, any of them. Meantime the bishop of Paris, with the consent of the masters of Sorbonne (the great champions of liberty in this kind) granted a licence to any scholar, opinari de opinionibus, to guess freely (and by consequence to discuss in disputations) any man's opinions which as yet by a general council were not decided matters of faith. Our Robert, much offended thereat, wrote not only against Henricus Gandavensis and Ægidius Romanus, but also the whole college of Sorbonne;t an act beheld of many as of more boldness than brains, for a private person to perform. He flourished under king Henry the Third, anno Domini 1270.
JEFFREY CHAUCER was, by most probability, born at Woodstock in this county, though other places lay stiff claim to his nativity.
Berkshire's title.-Leland confesseth it likely that he was born in Barochensi provinciâ ; and Mr. Camdenț avoweth that Dunington_castle, nigh unto Newbury, was anciently his inheritance. There was lately an old oak standing in the park, called Chaucer's Oak.
London's title.The author of his life, set forth 1602, proveth him born in London,out of these his own words in the Testament of Love:
“ Also in the Citie of London, that is to mee soe deare and sweete, in which I was foorth grown; and more kindely love have I to that place than to any other in yerth (as every kindely creature hath full appetite to that place of his kindly ingendure).”
Besides, Mr. Camden praiseth Mr. Edmund Spenser, the Londoner, for the best poet ;$ “ne Chaucero quidem concive excepto," (Chaucer himself, his fellow-citizen, not being excepted.)
Oxfordshire's title.—Leland addeth a probability of his birth in Oxfordshire; and Camden saith of Woodstock,|| “ Cum nihil
• Anno 1248, p. 747. † Bale, de Scriptɔribus Britannicis, Cent. iv.
habeat quod ostentet, Homerum nostrum Anglicum, Galfredum Chaucerum, alumnum suum fuisse gloriatur.” Besides, J. Pits* is positive that his father was a knight, and that he was born at Woodstock. And queen Elizabeth passed a fair stone-house next to her palace in that town unto the tenant by the name of Chaucer's house, whereby it is also known at this day.
Now, what is to be done to decide the difference herein ? Indeed Apion the grammarian would have Homer (concerning whose birth-place there was so much controversy) raised ab Inferis, that he might give a true account of the place of his nativity. However, our Chaucer is placed here (having just grounds for the same) until stronger reasons are brought to remove him.
He was a terse and elegant poet (the Homer of his age) : and so refined our English tongue, “ut inter expolitas gentium linguas potuit rectè quidem connumerari.”+ His skill in mathematics was great (being instructed therein by Joannes Sombus and Nicholas of Lynn) ; which he evidenceth in his book “De Sphæra.” He, being contemporary with Gower, was living anno Domini 1402.
SINCE THE REFORMATION. THOMAS LYDYATE.--Now I find the old sentence to be true, " Difficile fugitivas mortuorum memorias retrahere;” seeing all my industry and inquiry can retrieve very little of this worthy person ; and the reader, I hope, will not be angry with me, who am so much grieved with myself for the same.
Indeed contradicting qualities met in him, eminency and obscurity; the former for his learning, the latter for his living. All that we can recover of him is as followeth. He was born at Alkerton in this county ; bred first in Winchester school, then in New College in Oxford, being admitted therein June 22, 1593. An admirable mathematician, witness these his learned works, left to posterity: 1. De variis Annorum Formis; 2. De naturâ Coli, et conditione Elementorum ; 3. Prælectio Astronomica; 4. De origine Fontium ; 5. Disquisitio Physiologica; 6. Explicatio et additamentum Arg. Temp. Nativitatis et Ministerii Christi.
In handling these subjects, it seems, he erossed Scaliger, who was highly offended thereat, conceiving himself such a prince of learning, it was high treason for any to doubt of, much more deny, his opinion. Yea, he conceited his own judgment so canonical, that it was heresy for any inferior person to differ from the same.
Shall Scaliger write a book of “ the Emendation of Times," and should any presume to write one of “the Emendation of Scaliger ?” especially one no public professor, and so private a person as Lydyate? However, this great bug
• De Angliæ Scriptoribus, anno 1400.
bear critic, finding it more easy to contemn the confute the arguments of his adversary, slighted Lydyate as inconsiderable, jeering him for a prophet, who indeed somewhat traded in the apocalyptical divinity.
Learned men of unbiassed judgments will maintain, that Lydyate had the best in that contest; but here it came to pass what Solomon had long before observed, “Nevertheless the poor man's wisdom is despised, and his words are not heard."*
He never attained higher church-preferment than the rectory of Alkerton, the town of his nativity; and deserted that (as I have cause to suspect) before his death.
Impute his low condition to these causes : 1. The nature of his studies ; which, being mathematical and speculative, brought not pos äldıra, grist to the mill. 2. The nature of his nature, being ambitious of privity and concealment. 3. The death of prince Henry (whose library keeper he was) and in whose grave Lydyate's hopes were interred. *4. His disaffection to church discipline, and ceremonies used therein ; though such wrong his memory, who represent him an Anabaptist.
His modesty was as great as his want, which he would not make known to any. Sir William Boswell, well understanding his worth, was a great friend unto him ; and so was Bishop Williams. He died about Westminster, as I take it, in the year of our Lord 1644. Happy had it been for posterity, if on his death-bed he could have bequeathed his learning to any surviving relation.
Sir RICHARD BAKER, Knight, was a native of this county, and high sheriff thereof in the 18th of king James, anno Domini 1621. His youth he spent in learning, the benefit whereof he reaped in his old age, when his estate through surety-ship (as I have heard him complain) was very much impaired. But God may smile on them on whom the world doth frown; whereof his pious old age was a memorable instance, when the storm on his estate forced him to fly for shelter to his studies and devotions. He wrote an Exposition on the Lord's Prayer," which is co-rival with the best comments which professed, divines have written on that subject. He wrote a chronicle on our English kings, embracing a method peculiar to himself, digesting observables under several heads, very useful for the reader. This reverend knight left this troublesome world about the beginning of our civil wars.
William WHATELEY was born in Banbury (whereof his father was twice mayor), and bred in Christ's College in Cambridge. He became afterwards minister in the town of his nativity; and though generally people do not respect a prophet or
• Ecclesiastes ix. 16.
preacher when a man, whom they knew whilst a child, yet he met there with deserved reverence to his person and profession. Indeed he was a good linguist, philosopher, mathematician, divine, and (though a poetical satirical pen is pleased to pass a jeer upon him) free from faction. He first became known to the world by his book called “ The Bride bushe," which some say hath been more condemned than confuted, as maintaining a position rather odious than untrue; but others hold that blows given from so near a relation to so near a relation, cannot be given so lightly, but they will be taken most heavily. Other good works of his have been set forth since his death, which happened in the 56th year of his age, anno Domini 1639.
John BALLE was born at Casfigton (four miles north-west of Oxford) in this county; an obscure village, only illustrated by his nativity.* He proceeded bachelor of arts in Brazen-nose College in Oxford (his parents purse being not able to maintain him longer); and went into Cheshire, until at last he was beneficed at Whitmore, in the county of Stafford. He was an excellent schoolman and schoolmaster (qualities seldom meeting in the same man), a painful preacher, and a profitable writer; and his “Treatise of Faith” cannot sufficiently be commended. Indeed he lived by faith, having but small means to maintain him (but 20 pounds yearly salary, besides what he got by teaching and boarding his scholars); and yet was wont to say he had enough, enough, enough : thus contentment consisteth not in heaping on more fuel, but in taking away some fire. He had an holy facetiousness in his discourse. When his friend having had a fall from his horse, and said that he never had the like deliverance, “Yea," said Mr. Balle, "and an hundred times when you never fell;" accounting God's preserving us from, equal to his rescuing us out of, dangers. He had an humble heart, free from passion; and, though somewhat disaffected to ceremonies and church-discipline, confuted such as conceived the corruptions therein ground enough for a separation. He hated all new lights and pretended inspirations besides Scripture: and when one asked him, “whether he at any time had experience thereof in his own heart?” “No," said he, “I bless God; and if I should ever have such phantasies, I hope God would give me grace to resist them.” Notwithstanding his small means, he lived himself comfortably, relieved others charitably, left his children competently, and died piously, October the 20th, anno Domini 1640.
WILLIAM CAILLINGWORTH was born in the city of Oxford; so that, by the benefit of his birth, he fell from the lap of his mother into the arms of the Muses. He was bred in Trinity
The substance of his Character is taken out of his Life, written by Mr. Samuel Clarke.-F.