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JOHN DE TREVISA.
In the year 1387, JOHN Trevisa, a native of Cornwall, but vicar of Berkeley, Gloucestershire, translated Higden's Polychronicon. He translated various other Latin works; and, it is said, finished a translation of the Bible (now lost), at the cinmand of his patrın, Lord Berkely. The translation of Higden’s' Polychronicon,'conteyning the berynges and dedes of many iymes,' was printed by Caxton in 1842. In this work, Trevisa (or Higden) says the Scots draw somewhat' after the speech of the Picts. Men of the east of England, he says, accorded inore in speech with those of the wes: than the men of the south did with the north. 'Althe longage of the Northumbres, specialych at Yorke, ys so scharp, slyttinge, frotynge, unschape, that we Southeron men may that longage unnethe understond.'
JOHN WYCLIFFE. JOAN DE WYCLIFFE, the distinguished ecclesiastical reformer and translator of the Bible, was a native of the parish of Wycliffe, near · Richmond, in Yorkshire. He was born in 1324; studied at Oxford ; and in 1361 obtained the living of Fylingham, in the diocese of Lincoln, and the mastership and wardenship of Baliol College. In 1365, he was transferred to the wardenship of Canterbury Hall-his predecessor, named Wodehall, being deposed; but the next archbishop, Langliam, restored Wodehall, and Wycliffe appealing to the pope, the cause was decided against him. This personal matter may have sharpened his zeal against the pipal supremacy and doctrines, which he had previously dissented from and begun to attack. His first writings were directed against the mendicant friars and the papal tribute; but having opened a course of theological lectures in Oxford —there being then no formal professor of divinity-be gaye more steady and effectual expression to what were termed his heresies. The substance of his lectures he embodied in a Latin treatise, the * Trialogus,' which is directly opposed to the leading tenets of the Roman Catholic Church. Wycliffe, however, did not lose favour by this bold course. He was selected, in 1374, as one of a commission that met at Avignon with the papıl envoys, to remonstrate against the power claimed by the pope over Engli-h benefices. Some concessions were made by the pope, and Wycliffe was rewarded by the crown with a prebend in Worcestershire, and the rectory of.Lutterworth in Leicestershire—the latter being afterwards his chief residence. The heads of the church, however, soon got alarmed at the teaching and opinions of Wycliffe. He was several times cited for heresy, and though strenuously defended by the Duke of Lancaster, he was obliged to shut his theological class in the year 1381. Shortly previous to this, he had put forth decided views against the doctrine of transubstantiation. Thus cut off from public employment, Wycliffe retired to his rectory at Lutterworth, and there, besides
writing a number of short treatises, he commenced the translation of the whole of the Scriptures. He was assisted by some disciples and learned friends in translating the Bible from the Latin Vulgate, and the completion of this great work is referred to the year 1383. Wycliffe died in 1384. The religious movement which he originated proceeded with accelerated force. Twenty years afterwards, the statute for burning heretics was passed; and in 1484, the bones of Wycliffe were dug up from the chancel of the church at Lutterworth, burned to ashes, and the ashes thrown into the river Swift. "This brook,' says Fuller, the church historian, in a passage which brings quaintness to the borders of sublimity, hath conveyed his ashes into Avon, Avon into Severn, Severn into the narrow seas, they into the main ocean: and thus the ashes of Wycliffe are the emblem of his doctrine, which is now Jispersed all the world over.'
The writings of Wycliffe were voluminous and widely circulated, thoughi unaided by the printing-press. His style is vigorous and searching, more homely than scholastic. llc was what we would 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 the development of the resources of the English language. A spler lid edition of Wycliffe's Bible was printed at the Clarendon Press, Oxford, in 1850, edited by the Rev. J. Forshall and Sir Frederick Madden.
Gospel of St. Mark, Chanter 1* 1 The bigynnynge of the gospel of Jhesu Crist, the sone of God.
2 As it is writun iu Ysaie, the prophete, Lo! I send myn angel bifore thi face, That schal make thi weye redy before thee.
3. The voyce of oon cryinge in desert, Make ye redy the weye of the Lord, make ye his pathis rihtful.
4 Jhon was in desert baptisynge, and prechinge the baptym of penaunce, into remiscioun of synnes.
5 And alle men of Jerusalem wenten out to him, and al the cuntree of Judee; and waren baptisid of him in the flood of Jordain, knowlechinge her synnes.
6 And John was clothid with heeris of camelis, and å girdil of skyn abowte his leendis; and he eet locusts, and hony of the wode, and prechide, keyinge:
7 A strengere than I schal come aftir me, of whom I knelinge am not worthi for to vodo, or vnbynde, the twong of his schoon.
8 I have baptisid you in water; forsothe he shal baptise you in the Holy Goost.
9 And it is don in thoo dayes, Jhesus came fro Nazareth of Galilee, and was baptisid of Joon in Jordan,
10 And anoon he styinge yp of the water, sayth heuenes openyd, and the Holy Goost cummynge doun 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. 12 And anon the Spirit puttide hym in to desert.
13 And he was in desert fourty dayes and fourty nightis, and was temptid of Sathanas, and was with beestis and angelis mynstriden to hym.
14 Forsothe aftir that Joon was taken, Jhesus came in to Galilee, prechinge the gospel of the kyngdam of God.
* The orthography is very "rezular, the same word being often spelled two or three diferent ways in the scene pas
15. And seiynge, For tyme is fulfillid, and the kyngdam of God shal come niy; forthinke yee, or do yee penaunce, and bileue yee to the gospel.
16 And he passynge bisidis the see of Galilee, say Symont, and Andrew, his brother, send ynge nettis into the see; sothely thei veren tishers.
17 And Jhesus seide to hem, Come yee after me; I shal make you to be maad fishers of men.
18 And anoon the nettis forsaken, thei sneden hym.
19 And he gon forth teunes a litil, say James of Zebede, and Joon, his brother, and hem in the boot makynge nettis.
20 And anoon he clepide him; and Zebede, her fadir, left in the boat with hirid sernantis, their sueden hyin.
21 And thei wenten forth in to Cafarnaum, and anoon in the sabotis he gon yn into the synagoge, taughte them.
22 And thei wondre len on his techynge; sothely he was techynge hem, as hauynge power, and not as scribis.
23 And in the synagoge of hem was a man in an vnclene spirit, and he cried,
24 Seyinge, What to vs and to thee, thou Jhesu of Nazareth? haste thou cummen bifore the tyme for to destroie vs ? Y woot thot thou art the joly of God.
25 And Jhesus thretenyde to hym, seyinge, Wexe dowmh, and go out of the
26 And the vnclene goost debrekynge him, and cryinge with grete vois, wento away fro hym.
27 And alle men wondriden, so that thei 'soughten togidre among hem, seying ', What is this thinge? what is this newe techyng? for in power he coinmaundith tó vuclene spirits, and thei obeyen to hym.
28 And the tale, or tything, of hym wente forth anoon in to al the cuntree of Galilee.
The Magnificat. And Marye seyde: My soul magnifieth the Lord. And my spiryt hath gladid in God myn helthe.
For he hath behulden the mekenesse of his handmayden: for lo for this all generations schulen seye that I am blessid.
For he that is mighti hath don to me grete thingis, and his name is holy.
He hath made myght in his arm, he scatteride proude men with the thoughte of his herte.
He sette doun myghty men fro seete, and enhaunside meke men. He hath fulfillid hungry men with goorlis, and he has left riche men voide.
He heuynge mynde of his mercy took up Israel his child.
Of Wycliffe's earlier controversial works, the following on the men. dicant friars is characteristic, the orthography being modernised :
The Mendicant Friars. Friars been most perilous enemies to Holy Church and all onr land, for they letten curates of their office, and spenden commonly and needless sixty thousand inark by year that they robben falsely of the poor people. For, if curates didden their office in good life and true preaching as they been holden upon pain of damuing in hell, there were clerks enough of bishops, parsons and other priests; and, in ease, over money to the people. And yet two hundred year agone, there was no friar; and then was our land more plenteous of cattle and men, and they were then stronger cf complexion to labour than row; and then were clerks enough. And now been many thousand of friars in England, and the old curates standen still unamended, and among all sin is mere increasel, and the people chargerl by sixty thousand mark hy year, and therefore it must needs fail; and so friars suster curates to live in sin, so that they may rob the people and live in their lusts. For, if curates doue well
their office, friars weren superflue, and our land should be discharged of many thousand mark ; and then the people should better pay their rents to lords, and dimes and offerings to curates, and much flatteriug and nourishing of sin should be destroyed. and good life and peace and charity shoulden reign among Christian men. when all the ground is sought, friars saien thus, indeed : Let old curates wax rotten in sin, and let them not do their office by God's law, and we will live in lusts so long, and waste vainly and needless sixty thousand mark' by year of the poor commons of the land, and so at the last make dissension between them and their childer for dimes and offerings that we will get privily to us by hypocrisy, and make dissension between lords and their commons. For we will maintain lords to live in their lusts, extortions, and other sins, and the commons in covetise, lechery, and other deceits, with false swearing, and many guiles; and also the curates in their damnation for leaving of their ghostly office, and to be the procurators of the Fiend for to draw all men to hell.' Thus they done, indeed, however they feignen in hypocrisy of pleasing worde.
SECOND PERIOD. ,
HENRY THE FOURTH TO QU EN ELIZABETH,
The age of Chaucer was succeeded by a period destitute of original genius, and it was not until a century and a half afterwards that the Earl of Surrrey revived the national interest in poetry. One cause of this literary stagnation was undoubtedly the disturbed state of the country, in consequence of the sanguinary Wars of the Roses, and the absorbing influerce of religious controversy inspired by the doctrines of Wycliffe and the dawn of the Reformation. In the latter part of the fifteenth century, the introduction of the art of printing offered unprecedented and invaluable facilities for the progress of literature; yet in original or powerful composition, we have only three distinguished names—those of James I. of Scotland, Dunbar, and Sir Thomas More.
OCCLEVE AND LYDGATE.
THOMAS OCCLEVE (circa 1370–1454) was a disciple of Chaucer, whom he styles his master and poetic father, and whose death he lamented in verse : O master dear and father reverent, Alas, that thou thine excellent prudence! My master Chaucer, flower of eloquence, In thy bed mortal mightest not bequeathé, Mirror of fructuous intendement,
What ailed Death, alas! why would he O universal father in science!
slay thee? Occleve's principal work is a version, with additions, of a Latin treatise, ‘De Regimine Principium,' written by Ægidius, a native of Rome, about 1280. On Occleve's manuscript, preserved in the British Museum, is a drawing by him, a portrait of Chaucer, the only likeness of the old poet, from which all the subsequent engraved portraits have been taken. Occleve's poem is entitled “The Governail of Princes,' and it was printed entire in 1860, edited by Mr. T. Wright for the Roxburghe Club. The poet, it appears, held the appointment of Clerk of the Privy Seal; and, as in the case of Chaucer and other poetical officials, his salary or pension seems to have been irregularly paid. He addresses the king (Heury V.) on the subject :