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Wilt thou see this wretched world, how ful it is of vanitie? Then read and marke and beare in mind for thy be
houfe, as thou maie best. 5 All thinges that in this present worke, that worthie clerke
sir Thomas More, With witte divine ful learnedly, unto the worlde hath
plaine exprest, In whom London well glory maye, for wisedome and for
a The Printer to the Reader.
the above written epistle is promised, hereunto
I have not now adjoyned, because I have not as 15
yet the true characters or fourmes of the Utopiane letters. And no marveill, seyng it is a tongue to us muche straunger then the Indian, the Persian, the Syrian, the Arabicke, the Egyptian, the Macedonian, the Sclavonian,
the Ciprian, the Scythian etc. Which tongues though they 20 be nothing so straunge among us, as the Utopian is, yet their
characters we have not. But I trust, God willing, at the next impression hereof, to perfourme that whiche nowe I can not, that is to saye, to exhibite perfectly unto
thee, the Utopian alphabete. In the 25
accept my good wyl. And so fare well.
Imprinted at London in Paules
THE LIFE OF SIR THOMAS MORE.
P. v. Life of Sir Thomas More. The date of More's birth was Feb. 7, 1477—8. This has been conclusively established by the discovery of some entries of the birthdays of the family in a MS. in Trinity College Library in Cambridge. The discovery was made by Mr W. Aldis Wright, Fellow of Trinity College, and the whole series of entries and a full discussion of them may be found in Seebohm's Oxford Reformers, Appendix C (2nd Ed., pp. 521 seqq.). The entry relating to Sir Thomas More is as follows:
“Md. quod die Veneris proximo post Festum purificacionis beate Marie Virginis videlicet septimo die Februarij inter horam secundam et horam terciam in mane natus fuit Thomas More filius Johannis More Gent. Anno Regni Regis Edwardi quarte post conquestum Anglie decimo septimo.
P. v., line 1. Lord Chauncelor. More became Lord Chancellor of England after the removal of Cardinal Wolsey from that office, Oct. 25 in the 21st year of Henry VIII. (i. e. A.D. 1529). He held office till May 16, 1532.
3. Erasmus. Of the attachment of Erasmus to More there are abundant evidences in all his letters in which he speaks of him, and many instances are quoted in the Notes to Seebohm's Oxford Reformers, a book to which every student of the times when More lived must, as I do, acknowledge himself deeply indebted.
So united in spirit was Erasmus to More that in one letter to Peter Tomicius, Bishop of Cracow (dated Basle, 31 August, 1535), he says, “In Moro mihi videor extinctus adeo uia Yuxý juxta Pythagoram duobus erat.
9. William Roper. This was the son of Sir John Roper, a protonotary of the King's Bench. He was born in the parish of St Dunstan's, Canterbury, and married Margaret, the eldest daughter of Sir Thomas More. Much is said in Wood's account of Sir T. More about the learning of this daughter, which won the praises of Erasmus and Cardinal Pole. She died in 1544. Her husband outlived her, and died
at the age of 82 in the year 1577. All their married life till the death of Sir Thomas More they lived in his house. Hence the fitness of Roper to write a biography of his father-in-law.
21. worthines of them, i.e. of the noble deeds which he has undertaken to record. The pronoun does not refer to “frendes of myne.'
26. St. Anthonie's in London. This school is mentioned by Stow, Survey of London, p. 190, as in Broadstreet Ward and connected with the Hospital of St Anthony, which had in former times been a synagogue of the Jews. The school was endowed in the reign of Henry VI. with funds for the maintenance of five scholars in the University of Oxford. Besides More, Stow mentions (p. 65), among the famous scholars of St Anthonie's, Dr Nicholas Heath, successively Bishop of Rochester, Worcester, and the Archbishop of York and Lord Chancellor, and Dr John Whitgift, Bishop of Worcester, and afterwards Archbishop of Canterbury. Stow also relates that in his own days St Anthonie's commonly presented the best scholars and had the prize among the schools in London.
P. vi., line 2. Cardinall Mourton. For a notice of Morton, see notes on the text, p. 192.
at Oxford. The most probable date for More's residence in Oxford is 1492 and 1493. More must have been in the house of Archbishop Morton before that prelate became Cardinal, which event took place in 1493. See Seebohm, Oxford Reformers, pp. 24, 25.
15. New Inne. Mentioned by Stow (p. 66) as one of the Houses of Chancery without Temple Bar, and in the liberty of Westminster. It was in what is now Wych Street. It was made, he tells us (p. 493), an Inn of Chancery in the reign of Henry VII. More was a member of this Inn in 1492 and 1493, cp. Seebohm, p. 25 n.
20. St. Laurence. Grocyn was Rector of St Lawrence until 1517, and it was no doubt on this account that More's lectures were given in that Church. Grocyn had been More's teacher in Greek at Oxford.
25. Charterhouse. This foundation, now best known as a school, was originally a house of Carthusian Monks, founded by Sir Walter Manny in 1371. The name is a corruption of the French Chartreux, the place where the first Carthusian monastery was established.
It was in the reign of James I., 1614, that the school, which until Jately occupied this site, viz. without the Bars of West Smithfield, was founded through the munificence of Thomas Sutton, whom Stow calls “the right Phænix of charity in our times.”
32. best favored, i.e. prettiest to look upon. Cp. “Joseph was a goodly person and well favoured." Gen. xxxix. 6.
36. married her. This was Jane Colt, of New Hall in Essex. The marriage took place in 1505. In Cresacre More's Life of Sir Thomas More, p. 39, it is said that this marriage was made by Colet's advice and direction. The children of the marriage were Margaret (afterwards the wife of William Roper), Elizabeth and Cicely, and a son younger than his sisters, and perhaps born in 1509, named John More. Their mother died in 1511 or 1512.
Cresacre More (p. 40) says “she lived but some six years." In 1515 More again married. His second wife, a widow, was named Alice Middleton, and More
took 'her daughter into his household. For mention of this lady, see
P. vii., line 4. Bucklesburie (otherwise Bucklersbury). This street, which was situate below the Poultry, is described in Stow's Survey of London, pp. 246 and 276, as partly in Wallbrook Ward and partly in the Ward of Cheap. He says “it was so called of a Manor and Tenements of one Buckle who dwelled there.” This Buckle is said to have been a grocer, and when Stow wrote he said, “ The whole street is now, on both sides throughout, possessed of Grocers and Apothecaries.” Hence we can understand the expression which Shakespeare puts into the mouth of Falstaff (Merry Wives, III. 3) who, describing a fop, says he "smells like Bucklersbury in simple time :” simples being the herbs with which the apothecaries' shops were well supplied.
Parliament. This was the Parliament assembled in the spring of 1503—4. The notorious Dudley was the Speaker, and an agent suited to the avaricious character which had so strongly developed itself in Henry VII.
three fifteenes. In the previous Parliament, 1496—7, Henry had exacted a subsidy of two-fifteenths in prospect of a war with Scotland, and finding this so easily obtained, his demands grew greater. A fifteenth of the three estates (that is of the Lords, the Commons and the Clergy in Convocation, who at this time assessed their own taxation) was estimated in 1500 by the Venetian ambassador at £37,930. The amount of a fifteenth was fixed by law in 1334. On this matter see Blackstone's Commentaries (vol. 1, p. 310), also Italian Relation of England, p. 52. Camden Society.
12. his eldest daughter. This was Princess Margaret, who was married to James IV. of Scotland in 1502, and from whom was descended James VI. (afterwards James I. of England), his mother, Mary queen of Scots, being daughter of James V. and grand-daughter of James IV.
his Father. John More was one of the Commissioners for Hertfordshire for the collection of the subsidy, and it would be easy under the circumstances to fix blame on such a man.
25. Dr Fox bishopp of Winchester. Dr Richard Fox, who had previously been Bishop of Exeter (1486—1491), then Bishop of Bath and Wells (1491–1494), next Bishop of Durham (1495-1502), was made Bishop of Winchester in 1502, and filled that see till his death in 1530. He was, while Bishop of Winchester, also Lord Privy Seal, which accounts for his position at court as described in the text.
35. a Father of Sion, i.e. belonging to the famous monastery called Sion, or more fully "The monastery of St Saviour and St Bridget of Sion.” It was situate at Isleworth on the banks of the Thames, and was founded by King Henry V. At the dissolution of monasteries it had an annual revenue equal to £20,000 of modern money. Although it was an order of Nuns there was associated with it a small number of monastic clergy and laymen, the former of whom were to act as chaplains. For a full account of the monastery, see Introduction to Myroure of our Lady. E. E. T. Society, Extra Series, xix.
P. viii., line soone after died. Henry VII. died 25 April, 1509.
The Parliament was held rather more than four years before the king's death.
9. without greefe, i.e. easily, with no great effort.
12. of counsell, i.e. a counsellor. He was always employed as counsel by one side or the other in all important causes.
17. twise Embassador. The first Embassy was in May, 1515 to Flanders, to settle some international disputes between the two countries. The ambassadors were detained in Bruges about four months, and it was not till the end of the year that More returned home with a successful issue to the labours of the Embassy. He himself had been entrusted with the arrangement of some special commercial matters that were also in dispute.
More's second embassy was to Calais in 1517 to settle disputes between French and English merchants.
18. Stilliard. The Stilliarde or Steelyard was formerly the business position of the Hanse Merchants, who are said to have obtained a settlement in London as early as the year 1250. The name is derived from the king's steelyard or beam erected here for weighing the tonnage of goods imported into London. The king's beam was afterwards removed to Cornhill, and then to Weigh-house Yard in Little East Cheap. The Hanse Merchants (i.e. the merchants of the free towns of Germany) had great privileges granted to them at various times, but in 1598 they were expelled from England by a proclamation of Queen Elizabeth. The Old Steelyard was on the site of the present Cannon Street Station.
Woolsie, (then Lord Chancellor). Wolsey was Lord Chancellor from Dec. 7, 1516 till 25 Oct., 1529.
23. travelled, i.e. travailed, laboured hard. On the whole matter see Seebohm, Oxford Reformers, p. 380.
26. of his honor, i.e. for his honour's sake. louse=lose.
32. the Pope's Embassador. This appears to have been Cardinal Campeggio, who was at this time in England. Campeggio was a man skilled in law (or as Roper terms it, “a singular Civilian"), as may be seen from Polydore Vergil's account of him (p. 1655) under the year 1518. “Laur. Campegius, homo Bononiensis, inter juris consultos juris consultissimus." The Papal throne at this time was filled by Leo X. (1513–1522). P. ix., line 15. no better roome, i. e. no more honourable place.
This word first of all signified a moveable screen. Cp. Nares' Glossary, s. v. “At the approach of the countesse into the greate chamber, the hoboyes played untill the roome was marshaled, which once ordered, a travers Slided away.”
Then a cross seat or bench, cp. Fabyan, Chronicle, anno 1425. “From whence he was borne unto the hygh aulter, and there kneled in a travers purveyed for him.”
In the text it seems to be used either for some such private seat, or for a private room separated by a screen or travers.
24. into the leades, i.e. upon the leads at the top of the house, a suitable place for observation of the stars.