Page images

First, she came of noble blood, lineally descending of King Edward III. within the four degree of the same. Her father was John, Duke of Somerset ; her mother was called Margaret, right noble as well in manners as in blood, to whom she was a very daughter in all noble manners: for she was bounteous and liberal to every person of her knowledge or acquaintance. Avarice and covetyse she most hated, and sorrowed it full much in all persons, but specially in any that belonged unto her. She was also of singular easiness to be spoken unto, and full courteous answer she would make to all that came unto her. Of marvellous gentleness she was unto all folks, but specially unto her own, whom she trusted and loved right tenderly. Unkind she would not be unto no creature, ne forgetful of any kindness or service done to her before; which is no little part of very nobleness. She was not vengeable ne cruel, but ready anon to forget and to forgive injuries done unto her, at the least desire or motion made unto her for the same. Merciful also and piteous she was unto such as was grieved and wrongfully troubled, and to them that were in poverty or sickness, or any other misery.

To God and to the church full obedient and tractable, searching his honour and pleasure full busily. A wareness of herself she had alway to eschew every thing that might dishonest any noblewoman, or distain her honour in any condition. Frivolous things that were little to be regarded, she would let pass by, but the other that were of weight and substance, wherein she might profit, she would not let, for any pain or labour, to take upon hand. These and many other such noble conditions, left unto her by her ancestors, she kept and increased therein with a great diligence.

The third nobleness also she wanted not, which I said was the nobleness of nature. She had in a manner all that was praisable in a woman, either in soul or body. First, she was of singular wisdom, far passing the common rate of women. She was good in remembrance and of holding memory; a ready wit she had also to conceive all things, albeit they were right dark. Right studious she was in books, which she had in great number, both in English and in French; and for her exercise and for the profit of others, she did translate divers matters of devotion, out of the French into English. Full often she complained that in her youth she had not given her to the understanding of Latin, wherein she had a little perceiving, specially of the Rubryshe of the Ordinal, for the saying of her service, which she did well understand. Hereunto in favour, in words, in gesture, in every demeanour of herself, so great nobleness did appear, that what she spake or did, it marvellously became her.

The four nobleness, which we named a nobleness gotten or increased, she had also. For albeit she of her lineage were right noble, yet nevertheless by marriage adjoining of other blood, it took some encreasement. For in her tender age, she being endued with so great towardness of nature and likelihood of inheritance, many sued to have had her to marriage. The Duke of Suffolk, which then was a 'man of great experience, most diligently procured to have had her for his son and heir. Of the contrary part, King Henry VI. did make means for Edmund his brother, then the Earl of Richmond. She, which as then was not fully nine years old, doubtful in her mind what she were best to do, asked counsel of an old gentlewoman, whom she much loved and trusted, which did advise her to commend herself to St Nicholas, the patron and helper of all true maidens, and to beseech him to put in her mind what she were best to do! This counsel she followed, and made her prayer so full often, but specially that night, when she should

1 Refrain.

the morrow after make answer of her mind determinately. A marvellous thing!—the same night, as I have heard her tell many a time, as she lay in prayer, calling upon St Nicholas, whether sleeping or waking she could not assure, but about four of the clock in the morning, one appeared unto her, arrayed like a bishop, and naming unto her Edmund, bade take him unto her husband. And so by this means she did incline her mind unto Edmund, the king's brother, and Earl of Richmond, by whom she was made mother of the king that dead is (whose soul God pardon), and grand-dame to our sovereign lord King Henry VIII., which now, by the grace of God, governeth the realm. So what by lineage, what by affinity, she had thirty kings and queens within the four degree of marriage unto her, besides earls, marquisses, dukes, and princes. And thus much we have spoken of her nobleness.

[ocr errors]


Her sober temperance in meats and drinks was known to all them that were conversant with her, wherein she lay in as great weight of herself as any person might, keeping alway her strait measure, and offending as little as any creature might: eschewing banquets, rere-suppers, juiceries betwixt meals. for fasting, for age, and feebleness, albeit she were not bound, yet those days that by the church were appointed, she kept them diligently and seriously, and in especial the holy Lent throughout, that she restrained her appetite, till one meal of fish on the day; besides her other peculiar fasts of devotion, as St Anthony, St Mary Magdalene, St Catharine, with other; and theroweout all the year, the Friday and Saturday she full truly observed. As to hard clothes wearing, she had her shirts and girdles of hair, which, when she was in health, every week she failed not certain days to wear, sometime the one, sometime the other, that full often her skin, as I heard her say, was pierced therewith.


In prayer, every day at her uprising, which_commonly was not long after five of the clock, she began certain devotions, and so after them, with one of her gentlewomen, the matins of our lady, which kept her to-then she came into her closet, where then with her chaplain, she said also matins of the day; and after that daily heard four or five masses upon her knees; so continuing in her prayers and devotions unto the hour of dinner, which of the eating day, was ten of the clock, and upon the fasting day eleven. After dinner full truly she would go her stations to three altars daily; daily her dirges and commendations she would say, and her even songs before supper, both of the day and of our lady, beside many other prayers and psalters of David throughout the year; and at night before she went to bed, she failed not to resort unto her chapel, and there a large quarter of an hour to occupy her devotions. No marvel, though all this long time her kneeling was to her painful, and so painful that many times it caused in her back pain and disease. And yet nevertheless, daily when she was in health, she failed not to say the crown of our lady, which after the manner of Rome, containeth sixty and three aves, and at every ave, to make a kneeling. As for meditation, she had divers books in French, wherewith she would occupy herself when she was weary of prayer. Wherefore divers she did translate out of the French into English. Her marvellous weeping they can bear witness of, which here before have heard her confession, which be divers and many, and at many seasons in the year, lightly every third day. Can also record the same tho that were present at any time when she was houshilde,3 which 1 Second suppers. When supper took place at four or five

o'clock, it was not uncommon, on festive occasions, to have a

second served up at a later hour.

2 There is an omission here.

8 Received the sacrament of the Lord's supper.

was full nigh a dozen times every year, what floods of harness, and other like. The moderate exercise is tears there issued forth of her eyes!


SIR THOMAS ELYOT, an eminent physician of the reign of Henry VIII., by whom he was employed in several embassies, was the author of a popular professional work, entitled The Castle of Health, in which many sound precepts are delivered with respect to diet and regimen. Of his other productions, it is unnecessary to mention any but that entitled The Governor, devoted chiefly to the subject of education. He recommends, as Montaigne and Locke have subsequently done, that children be taught to speak Latin from their infancy; and he deprecates cruel and yrous1 schoolmasters, by whom the wits of children be dulled, whereof we need no better author to witness than daily experience.' Mr Hallam observes, in reference to this passage, that all testimonies concur to this savage ill-treatment of boys in the schools of this period. The fierceness of the Tudor government, the religious intolerance, the polemical brutality, the rigorous justice, when justice it was, of our laws, seem to have engendered a hardness of character, which displayed itself in severity of discipline, when it did not even reach the point of arbitrary or malignant cruelty.'* Sir Thomas Elyot lived on terms of intimacy with Leland, the antiquary, and Sir Thomas

More. He died in 1546.

The following passage in The Castle of Health indicates the great attention which was paid to the strengthening of the body by exercise, before the use of fire-arms had become universal in war :—

[Different Kinds of Exercise.]

The quality of exercise is the diversity thereof, for as much as therein be many differences in moving, and also some exercise moveth more one part of the body, some another. In difference of moving, some is slow or soft, some is swift or fast, some is strong or violent, some be mixed with strength and swiftness. Strong or violent exercises be these; delving (specially in tough clay and heavy), bearing or sustaining of heavy burdens, climbing or walking against a steep upright hill, holding a rope and climbing up thereby, hanging by the hands on any thing above a man's reach, that his feet touch not the ground, standing and holding up or spreading the arms, with the hands fast closed, and abiding so a long time. Also to hold the arms stedfast, causing another man to essay to pull them out, and notwithstanding he keepeth his arm stedfast, enforcing thereunto the sinews and muscles. Wrestling also with the arms and legs, if the persons be equal in strength, it doth exercise the one and the other; if the one be stronger, then is [it] to the weaker a more violent exercise. All these kinds of exercises and other like them do augment strength, and therefore they serve only for young men which be inclined or be apt to the wars. Swift exercise without violence is running, playing with weapons, tennis or throwing of the ball, trotting a space of ground forward and backward, going on the toes and holding up the hands; also, stirring up and down his arms without plummets. Vehement exercise is compound of violent exercise and swift, when they are joined together at one time, as dancing or galiards, throwing of the ball and running after it; foot-ball play may be in the number thereof, throwing of the long dart and continuing it many times, running in

1 Irascible.

* Introduction to the Literature of the Fifteenth, Sixteenth, and Seventeenth Centuries, i. 554.

long walking or going a journey. The parts of the body have sundry exercises appropried unto them; as running and going is the most proper for the legs; moving of the arms up and down, or stretching them out and playing with weapons, serveth most for the arms and shoulders; stooping and rising often times, or lifting great weights, taking up plummets or other like poises on the ends of staves, and in likewise lifting up in every hand a spear or morrispike by the ends, specially crossing the hands, and to lay them down again in their places; these do exercise the back and loins. Of the bulk [chest] and lungs, the proper exer cise is moving of the breath in singing or crying. The entrails, which be underneath the midriff, be exercised by blowing either by constraint or playing on shalms or sackbuts, or other like instruments which do require much wind. The muscles are best exercised with holding of the breath in a long time, so that he which doth exercise hath well digested his meat, and is not troubled with much wind in his body. Finally, loud reading, counterfeit battle, tennis or throwing the ball, running, walking, adde[d] to shooting, which, in mine opinion, exceeds all the other, do exercise the body commodiously. Alway remember that the end of violent exercise is difficulty in fetching of the breath; of moderate exercise alteration of breath only, or the beginning of sweat. Moreover, in winter, running and wrestling is convenient; in summer, wrestling a little, but not running; in very cold wea ther, much walking; in hot weather rest is more expedient. They which seem to have moist bodies, and live in idleness, they have need of violent exercise. They which are lean and choleric must walk softly, and exercise themself very temperately. The plummets, called of Galen alteres, which are now much used with great men, being of equal weight and according to the strength of him that exerciseth, are very good to be used."


At this period HUGH LATIMER distinguished himself as a zealous reformer, not less than Sir Thomas More did on the opposite side. He was educated in the Romish faith, but afterwards becoming acquainted with Thomas Bilney, a celebrated defender of the doctrines of Luther, he saw reason to alter his opinions, and boldly maintained in the pulpit the views of the Protestant party. His preaching at Cambridge gave great offence to the Catholic clergy, at whose instigation Cardinal Wolsey instituted a court of bishops and deacons to execute the laws against heretics. Before this court Bilney and Latimer were summoned, when the recantation of the former, who was considered the principal man, caused both to be set at liberty. Bilney afterwards disclaimed his abjuration, and was burnt. This, however, nowise abated the boldness of Latimer, who continued to preach openly, and even wrote a letter to Henry VIII., remonstrating against the prohibition of the use of the Bible in English. This, although it failed to produce the desired result, seems to have given no offence to Henry, who soon afterwards presented Latimer to a living in Wiltshire, and in 1535 appointed him bishop of Worcester. After the fall of Anne Boleyn, the passing in parliament of the six articles establishing the doctrines of popery, induced him to resign his bishopric. During the latter part of Henry's reign, he suffered imprisonment; but being liberated after the acces sion of Edward VI., he became popular at court as a preacher, but never could be prevailed on to resume his episcopal functions. In Mary's reign, when measures were taken for the restoration of

popery, Latimer was summoned before the council, and desired me for God's sake to hear his confession; and, though allowed an opportunity of escape, I did so; and, to say the very truth, by his confession readily obeyed the citation, exclaiming, as he passed I learned more than before in many years; so from | through Smithfield, "This place has long groaned that time forward I began to smell the word of God, for me. After a tedious imprisonment, he persisted and forsook the school-doctors and such fooleries. in refusing to subscribe certain articles which were Now after I had been acquainted with him, I went submitted to him, and suffered at the stake in 1555, with him to visit the prisoners in the tower at Camexclaiming to his fellow-martyr, Bishop Ridley, bridge, for he was ever visiting prisoners and sick folk. Be of good comfort, Doctor Ridley, and play the So we went together, and exhorted them as well as we man: we shall this day light such a candle, by were able to do; minding them to patience, and to God's grace, in England, as I trust shall never be acknowledge their faults. Among other prisoners, put out.' His sermons, a collection of which was there was a woman which was accused that she had published in 1570, are remarkable for a familiarity killed her child, which act she plainly and steadfastly and drollery of style, which, though it would now denied, and could not be brought to confess the act; be reckoned very singular in the pulpit, was highly which denying gave us occasion to search for the matpopular in his own time, and produced a wonderful ter, and so we did; and at length we found that her impression on his hearers. Cranmer and he were husband loved her not, and therefore he sought means instrumental in effecting a great improvement in to make her out of the way. The matter was thus:-the quality of clerical discourses, by substituting A child of hers had been sick by the space of a year, topics connected with moral duties for what was then and so decayed, as it were, in a consumption. At the common subject-matter of sermons; namely, length it died in harvest time; she went to her neighincredible and often ridiculous legendary tales of bours and other friends to desire their help to prepare saints and martyrs, and accounts of miracles wrought the child for burial; but there was nobody at home, for the confirmation of doctrines of the Catholic every man was in the field. The woman, in a heavichurch. The following extracts from Latimer'sness and trouble of spirit, went, and being herself sermons will give an idea of his style and peculiar


[A Yeoman of Henry VII's time.]

My father was a yeoman, and had no lands of his own, only he had a farm of £3 or £4 by year at the uttermost, and hereupon he tilled so much as kept half a dozen men. He had walk for an hundred sheep, and my mother milked thirty kine. He was able, and did find the king a harness, with himself and his horse, while he came to the place that he should receive the king's wages. I can remember that I buckled his harness when he went to Blackheath field. He kept me to school, or else I had not been able to have preached before the king's majesty now. He married my sisters with £5 or 20 nobles a-piece, so that he brought them up in godliness and fear of God. He kept hospitality for his poor neighbours. And some alms he gave to the poor, and all this did he of the said farm. Where he that now hath it, payeth £16 by the year, or more, and is not able to do any thing for his prince, for himself, nor for his children, or give a cup of drink to the poor

In my time my poor father was as diligent to teach me to shoot, as to learn me any other thing, and so I think other men did their children: he taught me how to draw, how to lay my body in my bow, and not to draw with strength of arms as divers other nations de, but with strength of the body. I had my bows bought me according to my age and strength; as I increased in them, so my bows were made bigger and bigger, for men shall never shoot well, except they be brought up in it: it is a worthy game, a wholesome kind of exercise, and much commended in physic.

[Hasty Judgment.]

Here I have occasion to tell you a story which happened at Cambridge. Master Bilney, or rather Saint Bilney, that suffered death for God's word's sake, the same Bilney was the instrument whereby God called me to knowledge, for I may thank him, next to God, for that knowledge that I have in the word of God. For I was as obstinate a papist as any was in England, insomuch that, when I should be made Bachelor of Divinity, my whole oration went against Philip Melanethen and against his opinions. Bilney heard me at that time, and perceived that I was zealous without knowledge; he came to me afterward in my study,

alone, prepared the child for burial. Her husband coming home, not having great love towards her, accused her of the murder, and so she was taken and brought to Cambridge. But as far forth as I could learn, through earnest inquisition, I thought in my conscience the woman was not guilty, all the circumstances well considered.

Immediately after this, I was called to preach before the king, which was my first sermon that I made before his majesty, and it was done at Windsor; where his najesty, after the sermon was done, did most familiarly talk with me in a gallery. Now, when I saw my time, I kneeled down before his majesty, opening the whole matter, and afterwards most humbly desired his majesty to pardon that woman. For I thought in my conscience she was not guilty, or else I would not for all the world sue for a murderer. The king most graciously heard my humble request, insomuch that I had a pardon ready for her at my returning homeward. In the mean season, that woman was delivered of a child in the tower of Cambridge, whose godfather I was, and Mistress Cheek was godmother. But all that time I hid my pardon, and told her nothing of it, only exhorting her to confess the truth. At length the time came when she looked to suffer; I came as I was wont to do, to instruct her; she inade great moan to me. So we travailed with this woman till we brought her to a good opinion; and at length showed her the king's pardon, and let her go.

This tale I told you by this occasion, that though some women be very unnatural, and forget their children, yet when we hear any body so report, we should not be too hasty in believing the tale, but rather suspend our judgments till we know the truth.

[Cause and Effect.]

Here now I remember an argument of Master More's, which he bringeth in a book that he made against Bilney, and here, by the way, I will tell you a merry toy. Master More was once sent in commission into Kent, to help to try out, if it might be, what was the cause of Goodwin sands and the shelf that stopped up Sandwich haven. Thither cometh Master More, and calleth the country before him, such as were thought to be men of experience, and men that could of likelihood best certify him of that matter concerning the stopping of Sandwich haven. Among others came in before him an old man with a white head, and one that was thought to be little less than a hundred years old. When Master More saw


Now these shepherds, I say, they watch the whole night, they attend upon their vocation, they do according to their calling, they keep their sheep, they run not hither and thither, spending the time in vain, and neglecting their office and calling. No, they did not so. Here by these shepherds men may learn to attend upon their offices, and callings: I would wish that clergymen, the curates, parsons, and vicars, the bishops and all other spiritual persons, would learn this lesson by these poor shepherds; which is this, to abide by their flocks, and by their sheep, to tarry amongst them, to be careful over them, not to run hither and thither after their own pleasure, but to tarry by their benefices and feed their sheep with the food of God's word and to keep hospitality, and so to feed them both soul and body. For I tell you, these

this aged man, he thought it expedient to hear him say his mind in this matter, for, being so old a man, it was likely that he knew most of any man in that presence and company. So Master More called this old aged man unto him, and said, father, tell me, if ye can, what is the cause of this great rising of the sands and shelves here about this haven, the which stop it up, so that no ships can arrive here? Ye are the eldest man that I can espy in all this company, so that if any man can tell any cause of it, ye of likelihood can say most of it, or, at leastwise, more than any man here assembled. Yea, forsooth, good master, quoth this old man, for I am well nigh a hundred years old, and no man here in this company anything near unto my age. Well, then, quoth Master More, how say you in this matter? What think ye to be the cause of these shelves and flats that stop up Sand-poor unlearned shepherds shall condemn many a stout wich haven? Forsooth, Sir, quoth he, I am an old man; I think that Tenderden-steeple is the cause of Goodwin sands; for I am an old man, Sir, quoth he, and I may remember the building of Tenderdensteeple, and I may remember when there was no steeple at all there. And before that Tenderdensteeple was in building, there was no manner of speak-part intendeth not to feed the sheep, but they long ing of any flats or sands that stopped the haven, and therefore I think that Tenderden-steeple is the cause of the destroying and decay of Sandwich haven. And so to my purpose, preaching of God's word is the cause of rebellion, as Tenderden-steeple was the cause that Sandwich haven is decayed.

[The Shepherds of Bethlehem.]

I pray you to whom was the nativity of Christ first opened? To the bishops or great lords which were at that time at Bethlehem? Or to those jolly damsels with their fardingales, with their round-abouts, or with their bracelets? No, no, they had too many lets to trim and dress themselves, so that they could have no time to hear of the nativity of Christ; their minds were so occupied otherwise, that they were not allowed to hear of him. But his nativity was revealed first to the shepherds, and it was revealed unto them in the nighttime, when every body was at rest; then they heard this joyful tidings of the saviour of the world; for these shepherds were keeping their sheep in the night season from the wolf and other beasts, and from the fox; for the sheep in that country do lamb two times in the year, and therefore it was needful for the sheep to have a shepherd to keep them. And here note the diligence of these shepherds; for whether the sheep were their own, or whether they were servants, I cannot tell, for it is not expressed in the book; but it is most like they were servants, and their masters had put them in trust to keep their sheep. Now, if these shepherds had been deceitful fellows, that when their masters had put them in trust to keep their sheep, they had been drinking in the alehouse all night, as some of our servants do now-a-days, surely the angel had not appeared unto them to have told them this great joy and good tidings. And here all servants may learn by these snepherds, to serve truly and diligently unto their masters; in what business soever they are set to do, let them be painful and diligent, like as Jacob was unto his master Laban. O what a painful, faithful, and trusty man was he! He was day and night at his work, keeping his sheep truly, as he was put in trust to do; and when any chance happened that any thing was lost, he made it good and restored it again of his own. So likewise was Eleazarus a painful man, a faithful and trusty servant. Such a servant was Joseph in Egypt to his master Potiphar. So likewise was Daniel unto his master the king. But I pray you where are these servants now-a-days? Indeed, I fear me there be but very few of such faithful servants.

and great learned clerk; for these shepherds had but the care and charge over brute beasts, and yet were diligent to keep them, and to feed them, and the other have the cure over God's lambs which he bought with the death of his son, and yet they are so careless, so negligent, so slothful over them; yea, and the most to be fed of the sheep; they seck only their own pastimes, they care for no more. But what said Christ to Peter? What said he? Petre, amas me? (Peter, lovest thou me ?) Peter made answer, yes. Then feed my sheep. And so the third time he commanded Peter to feed his sheep. But our clergymen do declare plainly that they love not Christ, because they feed not his flock. If they had earnest love to Christ, no doubt they would show their love, they would feed his sheep. *


And the shepherds returned lauding and praising God, for all the things that they had heard and seen, &c. They were not made religious men, but returned again to their business and to their occupation. Here we learn every man to follow his occupation and vocation, and not to leave the same, except God call him from it to another, for God would have every man to live in that order that he hath ordained for him. And no doubt the man that plieth his occupation truly, without any fraud or deceit, the same is acceptable to God, and he shall have everlasting life.

We read a pretty story of St Anthony, which being in the wilderness, led there a very hard and strait life, in so much as none at that time did the like; to whom came a voice from heaven saying: Anthony, thou art not so perfect as is a cobbler that dwelleth at Alexandria. Anthony, hearing this, rose up forthwith, and took his staff and went till he came to Alexandria, where he found the cobbler. The cobbler was astonished to see so reverend a father come to his house. Then Anthony said unto him, come and tell me thy whole conversation, and how thou spendest thy time? Sir, said the cobbler, as for me, good works have I none; for my life is but simple and slender. I am but a poor cobbler; in the morning, when I rise, I pray for the whole city wherein I dwell, specially for all such neighbours and poor friends as I have. After, I set me at my labour, when I spend the whole day in getting my living, and I keep me from all falsehood, for I hate nothing so much as I do deccitfulness; wherefore, when I make to any man a promise, I keep it, and perform it truly, and thus I spend my time poorly, with my wife and children, whom I teach and instruct, as far as my wit will serve me, to fear and dread God. And this is the sum of my simple life.

In this story, you see how God loveth those that follow their vocation and live uprightly, without any falsehood in their dealing. This Anthony was a great holy man, yet this cobbler was as much esteemed before God as he.


JOHN Fox, another of the theologians of this time, whose adoption of the reformed opinions brought them into trouble, was born at Boston in 1517. He studied at Oxford, where he applied himself with extreme industry and ardour to the study of divinity, and in particular to the investigation of those controverted points which were then engaging so much of the public attention. So close was his application to his studies, that he entirely withdrew from company, and often sat up during the greater part of the night. Becoming convinced of the errors of popery, he avowed his conversion when examined on a charge of heresy in 1545, and was, in consequence, expelled from his college. After this, being deserted by his friends, he was reduced to great poverty, till a Warwickshire knight engaged him as tutor to his family. Towards the end of the reign of Henry VIII., he went to London, where he might have perished for want, had not relief been administered to him by some unknown person, who seems to have been struck with his wretched appearance when sitting in St Paul's Cathedral. Soon after, he was fortunate enough to obtain employment as tutor in the Duchess of Richmond's family at Rye. gate, in Surrey, where he continued till the persecutions of Mary's reign made him flee for safety to the continent. Proceeding through Antwerp and Strasburg to Basle, he there supported himself by correcting the press for Oporinus, a celebrated printer. At the accession of Queen Elizabeth, he returned to England, and was kindly received and provided for by the Duke of Norfolk, who had been his pupil at Ryegate. Through other powerful friends, he might now have obtained considerable preferment; but, entertaining conscientious scruples as to the articles which it was necessary to subscribe, and disapproving of some of the ceremonies of the church, he declined the offers made to him, except that of a prebend in the church of Salisbury, which he accepted with some reluctance. He died in 1587, much respected for the piety, modesty, humanity,

and conscientiousness of his character, as well as his extensive acquirements in ecclesiastical antiquities, and other branches of learning. Fox was the author of a number of Latin treatises, chiefly on theological subjects; but the work on which his fame rests, is his History of the Acts and Monuments of the Church, popularly denominated Fox's Book of Martyrs. This celebrated production, on which the author laboured for eleven years, was published in 1563, under the title of Acts and Monuments of these latter perillous Days, touching matters of the Church, wherein are comprehended and described the great Persecutions and horrible Troubles that have been wrought and practised by the Romish Prelates, specially in this Realm of England and Scotland, from the year of our Lord a thousand, unto the Time now present,' &c. It was received with great favour by the Protestants, but, of course, occasioned much exasperation among the opposite party, who did all in their power to undermine its credit. That the author has frequently erred, and, like other controversial writers of the time, sometimes lost his temper, and sullied his pages with coarse language, cannot be denied; but that mistakes have been wilfully or malignantly committed, no one has been able to prove. As to what he derived from written documents, Bishop Burnet, in the preface to his History of the Reformation, bears strong testimony in his favour, by declaring that, 'having compared those Acts and Monuments with the records, he had never been able to discover any errors or prevarications in them, but the utmost fidelity and exactness.'

[The Invention of Printing.]

What man soever was the instrument [whereby this invention was made], without all doubt God himself was the ordainer and disposer thereof, no otherwise than he was of the gift of tongues, and that for a similar purpose. And well may this gift of printing be resembled to the gift of tongues: for like as God then spake with many tongues, and yet all that would not turn the Jews; so now, when the Holy Ghost speaketh to the adversaries in innumerable sorts of books, yet they will not be converted, nor turn to the gospel.

Now to consider to what end and purpose the Lord hath given this gift of printing to the earth, and to what great utility and necessity it serveth, it is not hard to judge, who so wisely perpendeth both the time of the sending, and the sequel which thereof ensueth.

And first, touching the time of this faculty given to the use of man, this is to be marked: that when as the bishop of Rome with all and full the consent of the cardinals, patriarchs, archbishops, bishops, abbots, priors, lawyers, doctors, provoses, deans, archdeacons, assembled together in the Council of Constance, had condemned poor John Huss and Hierome of Prague to death for heresy, notwithstanding they were no heretics; and after they had subdued the Bohemians, and all the whole world under the supreme authority of the Romish see; and had made all Christian people obedienciaries and vassals unto the same, having (as one would say) all the world at their will, so that the matter now was past not only the power of all men, but the hope also of any man to be recovered: in this very time so dangerous and desperate, when man's power could do no more, there the blessed wisdom and omnipotent power of the Lord began to work for his church, not with sword and target to subdue his exalted adversary, but with printing, writing, and reading to convince darkness by light, error by truth, ignorance by learning. So that by this means of printing, the secret operation of God hath heaped upon that proud kingdom a double confusion. For before, and Hierome of Prague, who neither denied whereas the bishop of Rome had burned John Huss his transubstantiation, nor his supremacy, nor yet his popish mass, but said mass, and heard mass themselves; neither spake against his purgatory, nor any other great matter of his popish doctrine, but only exclaimed against his excessive and pompous pride, his unchristian or rather antichristian abomination of life: thus while he could not abide his wickedness only of life to be touched, but made it heresy, or at least matter of death, whatsoever was spoken against his detestable conversation and manners, God of his secret judgment, seeing time to help his church, hath found a way by this faculty of printing, not only to confound his life and conversation, which before he could not abide to be touched, but also to cast down the foundation of his standing, that is, to examine, confute, and detect his doctrine, laws, and institutions most detestable, in such sort, that though his life were never so pure, yet his doctrine standing as it doth, no man is so blind but may see, that either the pope is antichrist, or else that antichrist is near cousin to the pope and all this doth, and will hereafter more and more, appear by printing.

The reason whereof is this: for that hereby tongues are known, knowledge groweth, judgment encreaseth, books are dispersed, the scripture is seen, the doctors be read, stories be opened, times compared, truth discerned, falsehood detected, and with finger pointed, and all (as I said) through the benefit of printing. Wherefore I suppose, that either the pope must abolish printing, or he must seek a new world to reign over: for else, as the world standeth, printing doubtless will

« PreviousContinue »