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bones were disinterred and burnt. His ashes were thrown into the neighbouring brook, called the Swift, which, says Fuller, conveyed them into the Avon, the Avon into the Severn, the Severn into the narrow seas, and they to the main ocean; and thus the ashes of Wycliffe are the emblem of his doctrine, which now is dispersed all the world over.'
The rage of the Council which condemned John Huss and Jerome of Prague was not without reason, for Payne, one of Wycliffe's followers, had carried his doctrines into Bohemia, where they were eagerly received. In spite of the activity of the Romish clergy, his works continued to be studied on the continent of Europe till the time of the Reformation, for which he may be said to have prepared the way not less effectually abroad than in his own country.
Aster Wycliffe's death persecution fell heavily on his disciples. Some submitted, some fled, some sealed their faith with their blood, some received the wages of apostacy. Sawtrey was burnt. Repingdon died a cardinal and a persecutor. The flame which Wycliffe had lighted was never trampled out by the iron heel of persecution, but it seems strange that, after having burned so brightly, it was so nearly extinguished. But, in fact, England was not yet prepared to shake off the yoke of Rome. Wycliffe's attacks on certain unpopular abuses brought him numerous followers. The nobles desired to humble the prelates. The Commons envied the wealth of the clergy, and all classes resented the exactions of the Pope. By all the better educated, the impostures of the Mendicants, their rapacity, their importunity, their letters of fraternity, by which they pretended, for a certain sum, to confer on the purchaser the spiritual benefit of the alms and prayers of the whole Order, were ridiculed and denounced. Chaucer, whom it is 'pleasing to believe '—but whom, without further evidence, we will not venture to call-Wycliffe's friend, in his satirical description of the friars only gave expression to the popular feeling of the time. But education was not sufficiently advanced to question the dogmas of Rome. Printing was not yet invented to give rapid circulation to thought. Preaching, the great agency of conversion, could not, as Wycliffe himself had experienced, be employed in despite of the authorities of the Church. The civil wars which shortly ensued diverted men's thoughts from abstract questions of theology; their result weakened the nobles and strengthened the power of the Church over a sovereign whose title was disputed. Henry V., in the midst of his glory, was forced to be a persecutor :-not all the thunders of the Vatican could have compelled John of Gaunt to permit a noble to be hung up by an iron chain to be roasted to
death over a slow fire to gratify a provincial synod. But, above all, the ground had not yet been prepared for the reception of the reformed doctrine by the free circulation of the Scriptures in the vernacular tongue.
The Romish Church seems at all times instinctively to have felt the danger of imparting to the people a knowledge of Scripture. Till Wycliffe's exertions for this object were known, Rome was not seriously alarmed. Troublesome enthusiasts there had been before : some canonized as saints, some condemned as heretics, some-like Father Joachim—both at once, or it is impossible to say which; disputatious schoolmen ere, now had filled universities with dissension, and had provoked the anathemas of councils, but none of them had shaken the foundations of sacerdotal power. By his translation of the Scriptures Wycliffe struck the first blow at the colossus, and has earned his title of Patriarch of the Reformation. He did not work alone; considerable portions were translated by his disciples, but the precautions which a due regard for their
have involved their names and their labours in some mystery. Previously to this time there existed only translations of the Psalter and a few other cletached portions of Holy Writ. Misled by these, and not unwilling to defend the Church from the imputation of withholding the Scriptures, Sir T. More has asserted that she had long possessed a version of her own, but it is certain that Wycliffe was the first to present to his country the whole body of Scripture translated into her native tongue. This version, together with another which is now ascertained to have been made by Purvey, Wycliffe's curate at Lutterworth, has been published by the University of Oxford, and the editors, in their able preface, have comprehended in the shortest space all that can be collected concerning the previously existing versions, the names and circumstances of Wycliffe's fellow-labourers, and the previous fragmentary translations, the harmonies and commentaries which were written by Wycliffe himself, and'gradually led him to the coinmencement of his gigantic undertaking.
This publication has been the most enduring monument that has yet been raised to the great Reformer's memory ; but it is far from satisfying the zeal of his biographers and admirers. They earnestly desire a complete publication of his works :
Of his works, the greatest, “one of the most thoughtful of the middle ages,” has twice been printed abroad, in England never. Of his original English works nothing beyond one or two shorts tracts has seen the light. If considered only as the father of English prose, the great Reformer might claim more reverential treatment at our hands. It is not by his translation of the Bible, remarkable as that work is, that
Wyclif can be judged as a writer. It is in his original tracts that the exquisite pathos, the keen delicate irony, the manly passion of his short, nervous sentences, fairly overmasters the weakness of the unformed language, and gives us English which cannot be read without a feeling of its beauty to this hour.'
To this we cordially subscribe. In a mercantile point of view the publication of Wycliffe's entire works could hardly be expected to repay the cost. But we agree with his admirers that to no nobler purpose could the funds of an antiquarian society be applied. We would only suggest the propriety of so far curbing the antiquarian spirit as to abstain from reproducing fac-similes of the old alphabet of Wycliffe's days. If the same type which Dr. Todd has used in printing one or two short tracts were employed in a voluminous publication, its expense would be greatly increased, and its utility and popularity not less diminished. It is only by the chronological arrangement of the works written by Wycliffe at different periods and addressed to different readers that we can trace the progress of his opinions, or fix with any certainty the goal at which he stopped. It is not safe to identify his tenets with those of the sectarians of various denominations who were subsequently persecuted as his followers. On the whole, the received opinion that on most of the controverted points he had anticipated the doctrine of the Anglican Church may be received as well grounded; and so much are modern readers accustomed to consider him as the impersonation of Protestant doctrine, that it is with something of surprise; and even disappointment, they find in the list of his heresies opinions on points so abstruse as to be almost unintelligible, defended by arguments so subtle as scarcely to seem candid. But the teacher who to us appears only as the intrepid asserter of the supremacy of Scripture was, in his own day, the most learned of theologians and the most subtle of dialecticians; and it is to this double character he owes his influence over his own and over subsequent generations. Had he possessed only the qualities which exalt him in our estimation, he would in his own time have been condemned and put down as an ignorant fanatic: had he shone to our eyes only with the lustre which dazzled his contemporaries his name would have been as little known as those of his once famous predecessors. As he advanced in his career he probably learnt to value less the highly-vaunted learning of his day. That he did not consider it the best instrument for the diffusion of religious truth may be inferred from his prohibiting it to the Order of Simple Priests with which he hoped to regenerate the country. Mr. Shirley has indicated in a rapid and masterly sketch the
progress which had been made by the scholastic philosophy, and the relative positions of the rival universities of Oxford and Paris at the time of Wycliffe's entrance into the arena of controversy : the former, strange to say, distinguished by the subtle rashness of disputations, for which the Franciscans were then famous, 'from the more grave and solid learning of the latter,' under the guidance of the Dominicans. In the philosophy of the schoolmen metaphysics and theology were inseparably connected. The dispute which Roscelin had revived about the close of the eleventh century, as to the reality of universal ideas, penetrated every department of divinity, philosophy, and even of politics. "The Nominalists, by whom it was denied, were schismatics and Ghibellines; the Realists, by whom it was affirmed, were Guelphs and orthodox. The editor gives some interesting instances of Wycliffe's speculations on some of the more abstruse points of natural theology. But this is a discussion which we cannot enter upon now.
“So long,' says Mr. Shirley, “as the history of scholastic philosophy in this country is unwritten, so long must we be content to want an essential element, not merely in the portraiture of Wycliffe's character, but in the history of the Reformation. A historian who will make himself so completely master of the subject as to be able to explain it to persons of ordinary understanding and cultivation, would indeed confer a great benefit on literature. Italian commentators are said to have taken this trouble, in order to explain the intricacies and obscurities of their great mediæval poet. Will no one in our day undertake this labour for a more important object ? Exoriare aliquis ! We hope Mr. Shirley's friends will suggest to him that he who most keenly feels the want is in all probability the best qualified to supply it. In the mean time our best acknowledgments are due to him for the learning and ability with which within the prescribed limits he has performed his appointed task.
Art. V.-1. On the Right Use of the Early Fathers. Two
series of Lectures, &c., by the Rev. J. J. Blunt, B.D., late
Margaret Professor of Divinity. London, 1857. 2. History of the Christian Church during the first Three Centuries.
By the Rev. J. J. Blunt, B.D., &c. 2nd edition. London, 1857.
lights of learning and science who devote their lives to the training of young men at the University, and who thus leaven
our nobles, our gentlemen, and the members of all our professions with the soundest erudition and the loftiest principles. The fruits of their teaching are to be found in every corner of the kingdom, from the two Houses of Parliament down to the humblest curate; and it is for the interest of the world tbat their names and labours should meet with that recognition which they so eminently deserve. Foremost among this class of persons was John James Blunt, late Margaret Professor of Divinity, who entered St. John's College, Cambridge, in 1812, in his 19th year. He was a native of Staffordshire, the son of an able and respected schoolmaster at Newcastle-under-Lyme, by whom he was entirely educated up to the time of his going to college. The sobriety and simplicity of manners which distinguisbed him to the last were derived no doubt from this domestic training, which the discipline of his college served only to confirm and deepen. But the encouragement of St. John's, formerly a strongbold of antique and grim superstitions, was almost confined in his day to the strict and austere study of mathematics, and Blunt's natural bent seems to have rather inclined to the livelier muses. Those even who knew him only in his later and graver years, can testify to the sprightliness of his fancy, and his keen relish for fun and humour; and his early writings show his genuine love for the highest order of poetry. It was not without a struggle we conceive, that he bent his neck to the yoke of analysis and demonstration. Accordingly his success in the Mathematical Tripos was not more than respectable; but he had already acquired distinction as the winner of a Latin ode prize, and as a competitor for the classical medals he was known, by the extra-official whispers which are sometimes mercifully allowed to soothe the disappointment of our prope-victors,' to bave actually received the suffrage of part of the electors. This combination of merits, joined to his high personal character, procured him a fellowship in the spring of 1816, immediately after he had taken his degree. Two years later he obtained a travelling bachelorship, which gave
him the means of spending some time in Italy and Sicily; and there his quick observation was arrested by the traces, so often noticed, of heathen customs, still surviving in the manners of the people, and more particularly in the rites of their religion. After a second visit to the same countries a few years later, he threw his observations together in a small volume, the first of his publications. The idea, as he admitted, was suggested to him by Middleton's wellknown 'Remarks' on the same subject in the middle of the last century. In later life he conceived some distrust of his predecessor, and with the feeling of the Timeo Danaos,' apprehended