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lacion seen and corrected at length of many clarkis, doctours, and maisters in divinity, and nowe of late translatede out of the Frenche into Englishe by the right excellent Princesse Margarete moder to our soverain Lorde Kinge Henry the VII. and Countesse of Richemond and Derby... And for to know the order and maner howe to procede in this lytell boke. It is to knowe it shall be divided in VII chaptours after the seven dayes of the weke. To thentent that the synfull soule, solyed and defowlyd by synne, maye in every chapitoure have a new mirrour, wherein he may beholde and consider the face of his soule.'
The fourth Chapter commences as follows. ¶Howe we ought to dispise and hate the worlde.
'Saint John in his first Canonyque shewyth us that we ought not to love the worlde ne the thingis that be in the worlde, and saithe in this maner, love ye not the worlde ne thingys that be therin, yf there be any that loveth the worlde the charite of God is not with hym. Also the concupiscence of the world passeth and vanysshith awaye. And Saynt Augustyne, treatinge upon the same wordes, demaundeth in this maner: O thou pore cheatour whiche woldest thou chese of thies tow; wolde thou love the worlde and the temporall things and passe the tyme with theim, or dispise the world and lyve eternaly with God; yf thou love the worlde it wyll desceyve the, for the world calleth and draweth
swetely to hym who that loveth and foloweth him, but in their nede he fayleth theim and maye not supporte ne socour them. And certainly the world is as one excummunicate; for so as the excommunicate in the churche is not prayed for, so oure Lorde Ihesu Criste prayeth not for the worlde, the whiche all tymes prayed for his persecutours and theym that crucified hym. Alas to moche is he a fole that serveth suche a maister and hath suche a lord that in the ende chaseth and kesteth his servaunte naked and poure and withoute hyre, for so the worlde doth. We rede of the Saulden of Babilion the whiche, beynge seke in the cyte of Damasens of a mortall desease, confessynge hymselfe of the shortnes of his lyf and of nighnes of his deth, piteously and in great lamentacions called to oon of his servauntis and sayde to him in this manere: Thou were wounte to bere in my batayllis the banner and the sygne of myne Armes by tryumphant victory, Nowe anoon take and bere the signe of my sorowful deth, that is to know, this pore cloth and myserable shete, and crye with an hyghe voyce by alle the Cytie these wordes: See the Kynge of alle the Orientall parties the whiche, dyinge and fynysshynge his dayes, bereth with hym noon of alle the richesses of this worlde, but oonly this olde and poore clothe or shete. And semblably we rede of a yonge prince king of Loreyn beynge in infirmitie of sekenes, consideryng his dayes were shorte and his deth nigh, beholdyng his palaces houses and great edifiynges, cryed, in castyng many sighes and pyteous teares, O my god my creatour
Jhesus at this houre I see and maye knowe that the worlde ought well to be dispised. Alas I have hadde in this worlde many sumptuous palacis houses and lodges with greate Ryches, and nowe knowe I not whether to goo, nother eny creature that wyll take and receyve me this nyght into his house. Consider thies thinges poore and myserable synner and leve thy god and thy felicite, that is to knowe, this diceyvable worlde, before that by hym and of hym thou be left in soo greate and myserable poverte. Herken what Saynt James saythe: he that is frende of thys worlde is Enmye of god. And saynt Gregory saythe: soo moche more as the man is nyghe the love of the worlde, soo moche farther is he fro the love of god. For the whyche thynge manifestly oure Lorde Jhesu criste, at the houre of his passyon, wente oute of the Cytye of Jherusalem alle naked to be crusifyed and suffer dethe, wyllynge to shewe that they ought to flee the worlde and his communitie; yevenge ensample that he that wolde folowe the fruyte and meryte of his passyon, ought to Issue out of the worlde; atte the leest by affeccyon, in fleynge the worldly conversacion, and desyringe the spiritual.'
Lady Margaret's other translation is the Fourth Book of the Imitation of Christ.
There is a copy of it in the University Library at Cambridge, A.B. 4. 56, entitled—' Here beginethe the forthe boke of the folowynge Jesu Cryst and of
the cont empninge of the world. Inprynted at the comandement of the most excellent princes Margarete, moder unto our sovereine lorde kinge Henry the VII. Countes of Richemont and Darby and by the same Prynces it was translated out of frenche into Englishe in fourme and manner ensuinge.' At the end-Thus endeth the fourthe boke folowinge Jesu Cryst and the contempnynge of the world. This boke inprinted at london in Fletestrete at the signe of the George by Richard Pynson Prynter unto the kynges noble grace."
The above is subjoined to- A full devoute and gostely treatyse of the Imytacyon and folowynge of the blessed lyfe of our moste mercyfull Savyour cryste: compyled in Latin by the right worshypful Doctor Mayster John Gerson: and translate into Englisshe the yere of our Lorde MDII. By Maister William Atkynson Doctor of divinitie at the speciall request and comaundement of the full excellent Pryncesse Margarete, moder to oure souerayne lorde kynge Henry VII. and Countesse of Rychemont and Derby.' At the end—' Here endeth the thyrde booke of Jhon Gerson, &c. Emprynted in London by Richarde Pynson, &c. The yere of our lorde god M,CCCCC, and XVII. The vii day of October.' Quarto.
An earlier edition of this Book is described in the Typog. Antiq.- Emprynted in London by Rycharde Pynson, &c. The yere of our lorde M.D.III. The xxvii day of June.' Quarto. The impression of the De Imit. Xti by Gunther Zainer, without
place or date, folio, is supposed to be the earliest one, and not later than 1475.
Atkinson, in his translation of the first three books, has omitted many passages, and in others deviated from the literal sense; these only have been frequently reprinted in English; the fourth book being omitted, as treating of the Holy Communion in a manner peculiar to the Romish Church.
The author of this celebrated Treatise is by some supposed to have been Jean Gersen abbot of Verceil; and that he composed it between the years 1231 and 1240. But Baker inclines to the opinion that it was the work of John Gerson, Chancellor of the University of Paris, who died 1419; and says that—' its being left out of his works is the great objection against his being the author. It was printed at Nuremberg an. 1494, under the name of Thomas de Kempis, and at London by Pynson in English an. 1503, 4, under the name of John Gerson. The controversy about the author of the Book was so warm betwixt the contending Parties, that, though it was printed at the Louvre (the King's Press) and under the direction of the great Cardinal Richelieu, they were forced to print it without the name of the author.'
In a volume of early-printed Tracts given by Baker to the Library of St John's College, and which he remarks were originally, in the same way as at present, bound together in one volume, there is a copy of the De Imitatione Christi not noticed by Brunet, which he thinks the first edition. At the beginning of the volume, he has entered the follow