Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

:

“And tho' I have no design to charge this historian with insincerity, yet 'tis plain his prejudices and passions governed his pen in some cases. To give only two in. stances :- This martyrologist confesses, that Augustin the monk wrought miracles among the Saxons at his first coming over : and yet after this acknowledgment of a divine attestation, he treats him with very rugged language for refusing to rise to the Welsh bishops, charges him with pharisaical solemnity, rallies upon his behaviour, and is displeased to find his lordship so high, so heavy, or so proud.' p. 150, 154. Now, granting this prelate had some of the infirmities of humane nature about him, and fail'd in the manner of his salutation : granting he gave too broad signs of bis superiority, and pushed his claim too far, which I do not deny; yet one would have thought the charity and fatigue of the undertaking, his supernatural credentials, and the glorious success of his mission, might have secured a respect to his memory, and skreened him from coarse usage.

“Another instance of Fox's judgment being misled by his fancy may be met with in the reign of King John. He tells us, ‘Among divers conditions belonging to this king, one there was which is not in him to be reprehended but commended rather ;' that is, when the king saw a fat stag broken up, he said, How easily and happily he has lived, and yet for all that he never heard any mass.' And thus, in Fox's opinion, the king is not to be blam’d, but rather commended, for talking like an infidel, and passing a profane jest upon the most solemn part of his religion : For notwithstanding the objections Fox and we of the Reformation may have against the mass, King John pretended no dissatisfaction in this matter. This droll therefore upon the worship and belief of his own communion, must be altogether inexcusable." i. 647.

The same historian makes the following remarks on Fox's mode of relating the proceedings on occasion of the supposed pregnancy of Queen Mary :

“In the latter end of November, the Queen's being with child was generally believed at court: the council sent a letter to Bishop Bonner, to draw up a form of thanksgiving upon the occasion, and order Te Deum to be sung in all churches of his diocese . . . . . the parliament did not question the truth on't : this is plain, by their making an act to provide for the education of the Queen's issue, together with a preamble of thanks to God Almighty, for her being with child.

Upon this expectation, there were prayers printed and dispersed about the kingdom. The purport of them was, that God would send the Queen a good hour, support her government, and protect her from rebellion. The address is made imme. diately to God, without any application to saints or angels. This prayer Fox takes the freedom to ridicule, which is somewhat extraordinary. Did this martyrologist believe dominion founded in grace ? Did he conceive the Queen's title depended on hier orthodoxy? And that she had forfeited her crown by declaring for popery? If this was not his opinion, he must grant her subjects were bound to pray for the repose of her government. There had been two rebellions in her reign already, and therefore one would think 'twas highly seasonable to pray against a third : However, Fox thought fit to rally their devotion with this sentence in the margin -Cry up louder, you priests, peradventure your god is asleep!' As if their devotions had been directed to Baal or Ashtaroth: as if the papists had worshipped one God, and the protestants another. I can't perceive the martyrologist had any right to Elijah's sarcasm. His zeal, without doubt, was too much imbittered : He was plainly ridden by his passion, and pushed by disaffection towards profaneness." Vol. ii. 374.

Again, suppose such a thing in any cathedral as a dispute between the archbishop and the dean-suppose it to go so far as that they should publicly insult each other in the house of God, and even in the time of divine service-suppose that service outrageously broken up-this followed by a popular tumult, the dean and treasurer flying for their lives, and the archbishop excommunicating them. It might be worth while, in local history, or in the details of biography, to relate it minutely, or there might perhaps be circumstances connected with it such as should require it to be noticed by the general historian among

the acts and monuments of the church. This I acknowledge, and I will (if it be thought that candour towards Fox requires it) suppose that, in the case to which I allude, the archbishop, and the dean, and all the “shaven rabble,” were mere hypocrites, their “divine service, as they call it," blasphemous mockery, and that they are even now sunk in hopeless misery for their presumptuous sin--but still I will ask the reader whether he thinks that any historian, influenced by that spirit which can have compassion on them that are ignorant, and out of the way, could tell the story of their “ brawl” as a good jest, in a style of banter and raillery? If I had not been “convicted” of it, I would freely plead guilty to a “ personal dislike” of any history of Christ's church, even in its deepest and darkest ignorance and folly, (or, if men will, its most sinful apostasy,) which is written in such a style and spirit as the following:

“ In the year next ensuing, A.D. 1190, at the beginning of it, being Twelfth-even, fell out a foul northern brawl, which turned well near to a fray, between the archbishop, newly elected of the church of York, and his company, on the one side, and Henry, dean of the said church, with his Catholic partakers, on the other side, upon occasion as followeth : Gaufrid, or Geffrey, son of King Henry II. and brother to King Richard, whom the King had elected a little before to the archbishopric of York, upon the even of the Epiphany, which we call Twelfth-day, was disposed to hear even-song with all solemnity in the cathedral church, having with him Hammon the chanter, with divers other canons of the church. The archbishop tarrying something long, belike in adorning and attiring himself, in the meanwhile Henry the dean, and Bucard the treasurer, disdaining to tarry his coming, with a bold courage lustily began their holy even-song, with singing their psalms, ruffling of descant, and merry piping of organs. Thus, this Catholic even-song, with as much devotion begun, as God's high service proceeding, was now almost half complete, when, at length (they being in the midst of their mirth) in cometh the newly elect with his train and guardians, all full of wrath and indignation, for that they durst be so bold, not waiting for him, to begin God's service, and so eftsoons commanded the choir to stay and hold their peace.

The chanter likewise, whose name was Hammon, by virtue of his office, commandeth the same. But the dean and treasurer, on the other side, willed them to proceed; and so they sung on, and would not stint. Thus, the one half crying against the other, the whole choir was in a roar, their singing was turned into scolding, their chanting to chiding; and if, instead of the organs, they had had a drum, I doubt they would have 'sol-fa-ed' by the ears together.

“At last, through the authority of the archbishop, and of the chanter, the choir began to surcease and give silence. Then the newly elect, not contented with what had been sung before, with certain of the choir, began the even-song over again. The treasurer not thinking to take such a foil, caused all the tapers and candles to be put out, and so their unhappy even-song was ceased again. For like as without the light and beams of the sun, there is nothing but darkness in all the world, even so you. must understand the pope's church can see to do nothing, and that the popish evensong is blind, without candlelight, yea, though the sun should shine in the choir never so clear and bright; by reason whereof they went away even-songless, and so left their God in the church, that night, unserved. This being so, the archbishop, thus disappointed on every side of his purpose, made a grevious plaint, declaring to the clergy and to the people what the dean and treasurer had done; and so upon the same, suspended both them and the church from all divine service, till they should make to him due satisfaction for their trespass.

.

The Editor puts the following note :-“ Gardevian,' one who collects the spiritualities of a bishopric during a vacancy in the see.", I should like to know where the Editor learned this, or whether he only put it down as

guess. I have been led to suppose that the very person whom the archbishop found in the cathedral and his “ Catholic partakers"(that is to say, the dean and chapter) were the guardians of the spiritualities in such cases.

* Where note, by the way, good reader, that either the singing of the popish service doth little serve to God's honour, or else how could this archbishop be so injurious to God, to stop him of his honour because they had dishonoured him? But to the purpose again. The next day, which was the day of Epiphany, when all the people of the city were assembled in the cathedral church, as their manner was (namely, in such feasts), devoutly to hear divine service, as they call it, of the church, there were also present the archbishop and the chanter, with the residue of the clergy, looking when the dean and treasurer would come and submit themselves, making satisfaction for their crime. But they, still continuing in their stoutness, refused so to do, exclaiming and uttering contemptuous words against the archbishop and his partakers. When the people heard this, they in a great rage would have fallen upon them; but the archbishop vould not suffer that. The dean then and his fellows, perceiving the stir of the people, for fear, like pretty men, were fain to flee, some to the tomb of St. William of York; some ran into the dean's house, and there shrouded themselves, whom the archbishop then accursed. And so, for that day, the people returned home without any service.” ii. 278.

I do not know whether the reader may think the foregoing specimen actually profane; but I will mention some others which seem to me completely to fall under that description. I have elsewhere noticed Reinerius Saccho's statement, that the early Waldenses undertook to translate the scriptures from the Latin, and that, being uneducated and ignorant men, they misunderstood several passages from being misled by a degree of similarity in words which had very dif- . ferent meanings. Among other examples, he specifies that in the passage, “ He came unto his own, and his own (sui) received him not,” (sui non receperunt eum,) they mistook sui for sues, and translated it by swine. nìyricus, when he quoted the passage in his Catalogus Testium, had the impudence to attempt getting over this plain statement about Waldensian learning, by writing in his margin, “ Est pius jocus.” Fox following him, boldly asserts that they so translated intentionally " rather merrily than unskilfully;” and we read in his margin, (either because he misunderstood the words of Illyricus, though then one does not see where he found the merriment, or from a misprint in his own book,) “ Est pius locus in lascivos sacerdotes." He actually tells us, “ They rather merrily than unskilfully [that is, these persons whom he represents as eminently holy, intentionally and in fun, while pretending to translate the word of God] expounded the words of St. John, Sui non receperunt eum,' 'swine did not receive him.'” ü. 269. It was a pious joke against lewd priests, whom Fox seems to have considered as very fit subjects for a joke. Indeed, unless it arose from its being levelled against these sinful and unhappy men, I am at a loss to conceive wherein the piety of the joke consisted. Simply considered, there surely cannot be much piety in a merry quibble on words which record the most dreadful sin that man has committed, the most deplorable truth that has come to his knowledge.

Again, can any man who believes in the existence of Satan as a serious reality cordially enter into the fun of the device or counterfeit of a certain letter, feigned under the name of Lucifer, prince of darkness, written to the proud and persecuting prelates of the popish clergy"? iii. 190. Can any Christian man, I do not say admire, but dare to vindicate, such ribaldry as, “I, Lucifer, prince of darkness and profound heaviness, emperor of the mysteries of the king of

VOL. XIII.-Jan. 1838.

1)

Acheron, captain of the dungeon, Erebus king of hell,* and controller of the infernal fire: To all our children of pride, and companions of our kingdom; and especially to our princes of the church of this latter age and time (of which our adversary Jesus Christ, according to the prophet, saith, “I hate the church or congregation of the wicked,)' send greeting,” &c. ? Fox tells us that he found this piece of profane jesting inserted among the tractations of Walter Brute, and devised, "

, as the register saith, by the Lollards.” The history of this Walter

. Brute, to whom, or to his companions, Fox clearly supposed the document to belong, though he says, “ Who was the true author of this poesy or epistle above written, it is not evidently known; neither doth it greatly skill,” occupies more than the fifty preceding pages, and Fox

says of him, “the tractation of whose discourse, as it is something long, so therein may appear diverse things worthy to be read and considered. First, the mighty operation of God's Spirit in him, his ripe knowledge, his modest simplicity, his valiant constancy, his learned tractations and manifold conflicts sustained against God's enemies.” I do not mean to say that there was the least probability of its having been written by this man,t but only to shew Fox's idea of the person of whom he supposed it not improbable that he might be the author. It seems to me that the very date of the letter would lead one rather to suppose that it was written (to say the least) in the style of those who make a mock at sin, than of those who write under the influence of really Christian principles and feelings :-"Given at the centre of the earth, in that our dark place, where all the rabblement of devils were present, specially for this purpose called unto our most dolorous consistory; under the character of our terrible seal, for the confirmation of the premises.” I hope I shall not be thought fastidious when I say that this seems to me to be sad stuff

, in point of both taste and religion. It may come with “great show of piety”. out of Messrs. Seeley's shop, and it may form (without one hint of disapproval) a part of a “truly admirable work,” which the gentlemen who recommend it may be anxious to circulate; but I wonder what would have been said if such a “letter from the fiends infernal to the clergymen" had been issued, by way of a “pius jocus," from Bartlett's Buildings?

I do sincerely hope that I am not misled by any capricious dislike, * This turning of a place into a person, by wrong punctuation, is continued from the old edition.

† Nor do I here enter into any observations on the fidelity of the version. Fox professes to give it “ ad verbum” from the Hereford Register, to which I have not at present the means of referring. It may perhaps agree with that better than it does with any copy of the original that I have seen. Illyricus tells us, in his Catalogus Testium (Edit

. 1608, p. 1887), that he published it in 1549, and that he had since seen an edition printed in 1509. I have seen one which was I think, printed about or in the year 1498. Fox is obviously copying Illyricus in what follows about these infernal letters; and the carelessness with which he does it may be seen by the fact, that the letter which he styles one of " diverse others” bearing the title of " Lucifer ad malos principes ecclesiasticos,” is expressly stated by Illyricus to be “ eandem epistolam;" at least it is so stated in the edition of the Catalogus to which I have referred above, and I have no reason to doubt that it stood so in the edition which Fox used, though I have not at present the means of comparing it.

а

[merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

or professing any such peevish and pharisaical nicety, as should offend the gentlemen who are the avowed instigators of this republication, if I say, that there appears to me to be something awfully and disgustingly profane in a man's asking, “in the devil's name," why Christ died. Would these gentlemen encourage their children to use such language ?

“In Fox's account of the council of Constance there is another "pius jocus," which I feel some scruple about reprinting, because it appears to me so exceedingly profane; but I know that many readers of this Magazine may not have access to Fox's work, and that many of those who have would not take the trouble to look out the passage :

“ This council, therefore, of Constance, which was summoned by the Emperor Sigismund and Pope John XXIII., about the nativity of our Lord Jesus, anno 1414, began the same year to be assembled, about the latter end of the year; which first beginning, as the manner is, with a mass of the Holy Ghost, as they were singing, according to their custom, their hymn, · Veni Sancte Spiritus,' there was at the same time, a certain bill set up in the church by some well disposed man, as it seemed, wherein were contained these words following: ‘Aliis rebus occupati nunc, adesse vobis non possumus ;' that is to say, “We are otherwise occupied at this time; we cannot attend to come to you." jii. 417.

And lest this “pius jocus' should be passed over, there is a marginal note, “A writing set up how the Holy Ghost had no leisure to come to the Council." I do not complain that Fox, as a historian, thought fit to record this fact; nor even that he did it without expressing any disapprobation of what seems to me so blasphemous; my objection is directed against his inference that the person who did it was a “well-disposed man.” He considered it a creditable thing ; and more than twenty pages further on we find him recurring to it, and fairly adopting it. When “ Master Paletz” said, in the articles presented to the pope, “Wherefore, most holy fathers, provide and take heed to yourselves, and to the whole flock amongst whom the Holy Ghost hath placed you;" Fox writes in his margin, “ Master Paletz lieth, for the Holy Ghost had no leisure to come to that council.”

In this part of the subject I am, of course, somewhat restricted, because I avoid mentioning some cases which I have happened to notice where I believe that facts are misrepresented or coloured, and which, therefore, come under the question of Fox's correctness, which is, we are told, to be fully vindicated. I am not (and do not wish to feign myself) so simple as to expect that this promise of the prospectus will be better kept than some others, or that Mr. Townsend will do what I fully believe that no man can do ; yet what he may do towards it I cannot tell until I see. But, indeed, if the instances which I have mentioned, with one or two half-hours spent in running over merely the marginal notes, and looking at the caricature prints, do not lead the reader to feel that there is solid ground for objecting to the style and spirit of the book, our ideas on the subject must be so completely

om

[ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small]

* See a marginal noteRindeed, see all the marginal notes, but in particular see this one-on the translation of the canon of the mass, at vol. ii. p. 1401, ed. 1583. When the priest prays that the sacrifice which he has offered may avail to obtain remission for those for whom he has offered it, Fox writes in the margin, “ What the masse ? In the devil's name, for what intent then dyed Christ ?"

« AnteriorContinuar »