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stay at home was no longer safe. He sought refuge in Hamburg and elsewhere, and, in two or three years he completed a translation of the New Testament. It was printed under his own care, at Antwerp, in 1526 ; but it has lately been shown that two surreptitious editions had appeared the year before. In these and other impressions, it was immediately introduced by stealth into England, Tyndale being employed, meanwhile, on the Old Testament. His version of the Five Books of Moses, really printed successively in different foreign towns, was next collected into one volume, which, the statement of the real places being dangerous, was described as printed “at Marlborough, in the land of Hesse.” Its date is January 1530, which, the old style being then in use, corresponds with the beginning of our year 1531. His next publication was a revisal of his New Testament, which appeared at Antwerp in 1534; and with it his labours were nearly at a close. Imprisoned at Antwerp for heresy, he was there, after a long imprisonment, strangled and burnt, in October 1536. In that very year his New Testament was reprinted in England; this being the first translation that issued from an Eng
The scene was now changed. Henry the Eighth had come to an irretrievable breach with the See of Rome; and the opening of the Bible to the unlearned was no longer to be held a crime, or practised secretly in the fear of punishment. In 1537 there was published, with a dedication to the King and Queen, the first complete Translation of the Bible. The translator was a clergyman, Miles Coverdale, who afterwards was made bishop of Exeter. From this version are taken the Psalms still used in the Book of Common Prayer. In the same year there appeared, on the continent, a complete translation, which, veiled under a fictitious name, was called “ Matthew's Bible.” It was edited by John Rogers, who, some years later, was the first Protestant burned by Queen Mary. About a third of it is attributed to the editor himself
, perhaps with consultation of Coverdale's version : two-thirds, embracing the whole of the New Testament, and the Old as far as the end of the Second Book of Chronicles, were, we are told, taken verbatim from Tyndale.
Besides Tyndale's own editions of his New Testament, as many as twenty others had been printed on the continent, and circulated widely through England, before his death. English reprints now became common; and among them were two or three of Coverdale's whole translation.
The reign of Henry gives us, in the last place, the Translation commonly called Cranmer's, from its chief promoter, but known
also as the Great Bible, from the size in which its earliest impressions were printed. It is usually said to differ very slightly from Coverdale's, and to have been prepared chiefly by him. But the most recent writer of the history of the English Bible seems to consider this as a mistake, founded on the appearance of other editions about the same time under the patronage of Cranmer; and, according to this authority, Cranmer's Bible is really a revision of Tyndale's. Its date, also, commonly set down as 1539, appears to be 1540.
The short reign of Edward the Sixth, the Josiah of England, (as he has aptly been called,) produced the new translation ; but it was fertile, to a marvel, in reprints of those already made, Tyndale's being seemingly the most popular. In the six years half during which this young king filled the throne, the English Bible, which he had caused to be carried before him at his coronation, was printed entire in fourteen editions at least; and the editions of the New Testament by itself amounted nearly to thirty.
The accession of Queen Mary stopped, of course, the printing of the Scriptures in England, and made the circulation of the translations, fortunately for the last time, a thing to be attempted
secrecy and with fear. Yet even this perilous time introduced one new translation from abroad; namely, the “Geneva" New Testament. It was a revision of Tyndale's, performed by William Whittingham, a refugee fellow of Oxford. We shall encounter him again in the same walk: and then also will appear
the received version of the Bible.
In the meantime, the student of literature may be invited to observe, how the history of this, the record of the Divine Will, and the history of human and uninspired productions, dovetail into each other, and reflect mutual light. Some of the most valuable contributions ever made to our knowledge of the progress of inteflectual culture in Scotland, were incorporated, not very long ago, in a summary of the history of Bible-printing in the country. Here, again, in noting the diffusion of the Scriptures in England, we encounter some particulars, showing how far the benefits of the press were allowed to be reaped under the arbitrary and capricious sway of Henry, and how rapidly those benefits extended themselves when free communication of all kinds of knowledge was permitted by his excellent son.
At the accession of Henry the Eighth, there appear to have been no more than four printers in England. Before his death
the number had risen to forty-five. Of these no fewer than i thirty-three appeared in the last twenty years of his reign ; that
is, during the time when he was gradually seceding from Rome, and had begun to relax, in his vacillating and arbitrary way, the restrictions by which literary communication was fettered. Still more remarkable was that which followed. Fourteen of the forty-five printers surviving when Edward the Sixth ascended the throne, his short rule of tolerance and enlightenment added fortythree to the list, raising the whole number to fifty-seven. Of these, likewise, thirty-one, or more than a half, took part in the printing or publication of the Scriptures.
5. Our attention cannot long be given to the Original Writings couched in the English tongue, and dealing with theological matters. Chiefly, of course, controversial, they discuss questions for which this is no fit place; and yet, without treating these, the merits of the works could not be fairly appreciated. But the truth is, that the treatises of the sort, which this stirring period has transmitted to us, are neither so numerous as we might have expected, nor marked by qualities which make them very important in the history of literature. Neither the learning nor the power of thinking possessed either by the Reformers or their opponents could be estimated rightly, unless full account were taken of the writings, on both sides, which appeared in the Latin tongue: and, though we were to judge with the aid of these materials, still the records of a struggle, so hampered by secular interferences and so inextricably mixed up with political considerations, would scarcely do justice either to the momentous character of the contest, or to the real ability and knowledge of those who maintained it. It
may be enough to name a very few of those who, dying for the faith which they taught, have a purer title to the reverence of posterity than any that could have been gained by the highest literary merit. Ridley, held to have been one of the most dexterous disputants of his time, and famous as a preacher, has already been noticed as the most learned of the Reformers. Cranmer was more remarkable for his patronage of theological learning, than for the merit possessed by any writings of his own but his extant English compositions are numerous.
Two others of the martyrs, whose names seldom occur in any general history of literature, were men of much though dissimilar power; and these might be taken, more fitly that most others, as examples both of the turn of thinking which then prevailed, of the state of progress of the English language.
The one was Tyndale, our honoured translator of the Scriptures. His English tracts, quite controversial in character, were likewise nothing more than interludes between his weightier la
bours. Yet, slight as they are, his “ Obedience of a Christian Man," his dissertation on the parable of “ The Wicked Mammon," his " Practice of Prelates," and his few expositions and prefaces, not only show great clearness of thinking and aptness of illustration, but are exceedingly favourable specimens of Old English style.*
Our second instance is the celebrated Latimer, whose }
literary remains, chiefly sermons and letters, are of a very different stamp, but exceedingly interesting and instructive.
In the writings of this venerable man we discover no depth of learning, and as little refinement of taste: but they abound in homely sense and shrewdness; they show at once earnest and deep piety, and a quiet courage, prognosticating indomitable en
b. ab. 1472.
* WILLIAM TYNDALE.
From “ The Practice of Prelates ;" published in 1530. "[The modern spelling is generally adopted in this Extract, and in those
that follow.] To see how Our Holy Father came up, mark the ensample of an Ivy Tree. First it springeth out of the earth, and then a while creepeth along by the ground, till it findeth a great tree; then it joineth itself beneath alow unto the body of the tree, and creepeth up, a little and a little, fair and softly And, at the beginning, while it is yet thin and small, that the burden is not perceived, it seemeth glorious, to garnish the tree in winter, and to bear off the tempests of the weather. But, in the mean season, it thrusteth roots into the bark of the tree, to hold fast withal ; and ceaseth not to climb up, till it be at the top and above all. And then it sendeth his branches along by the branches of the tree, and overgroweth all, and waxeth great, heavy, and thick; and sucketh the moisture so sore out of the tree and his branches, that it choketh and stifleth them. And then the foul ivy waxeth mighty in the stump of the tree, and becometh a seat and a nest for all unclean birds, and for blind owls which hawk in the dark, and dare not come at the light.
Even so the Bishop of Rome, at the beginning, crope along upon the earth ; and every man trode upon him in this world. But, as soon there came a Christian Emperor, he joined himself unto his feet, and kissed them, and crope up a little with begging; now this privilege, now that; now this city, now that; to find poor people withal, and the necessary ministers of the Word.
And thus, with flattering, and feigning, and vain superstition under the name of Saint Peter, he crept up, and fastened his roots in the heart of the Emperor; and with his sword climbed up above all his fellowships, and brought them under his feet. And, as he subdued them with the Emperor's sword, even so, by subtlety and help of them, after that they were sworn faithful, he climbed above the Emperor, and subdued him also; and made him stoop unto his feet and kiss them another while. Yea, Celestinus crowned the Emperor Henry the Fifth, holding the crown between his feet. And, when he had put the crown on, he smote it off with his feet again, saying that he had might to maks emperors and put them down again.
durance; and they are inspired with a cheerfulness which never fails. Those who sneered at Sir Thomas More as a scoffing jester, might have found still apter ground for censure in
many effusions of Latimer, both while he preached to the peasants of Wiltshire and after he had become the bishop of an important diocese. He jests, and plays on words, when he writes letters of business to Cromwell the secretary of state ; and, in the pulpit, seizing eagerly on all opportunities of interesting his audience by allusions to facts of ordinary life, he never allows his illustrations to lose their force through any fear of infringing on the gravity of the place. His “ Sermon on the Plough,” the only one remaining from a series of three on the same text, expounds and illustrates the duties of the ploughman, that is, the preacher of the Gospel, with equal ingenuity of application and plainness of speech. In a passage that has often been quoted, he takes occasion to describe the experience of his own youth, and the frugality of his father's rural jousehold. In another place, the duty of residence, strongly urged on the clergy throughout the discourse, is enforced by a very origival similitude. The spiritual husbandman, he says, ought to - upply continual food to his people : the preaching of the word s meat, daily sustenance : it is not strawberries, which come up once a-year and do not tarry long. The metaphor appears to have been relished, and to have suggessed a descriptive name for clerical absentees. In an extant sermon of the time, they are spoken of as "strawberry-preachers.” An excursion yet wider from clerical formalities is ventured on in his set of “ Sermons on the Card.” Preaching at Cambridge in Christmas, he tells his hearers, that, as they are accustomed to make card-playing one of the occupations in which they celebrate the festival, he will deal to them a better kind of cards, and show them a game in which all the players may win. One scriptural text after another is nounced and commented on in the odd manner thus promised: and the great truth, of the importance of the affections in religion, is thrown repeatedly into this quaint shape; that, in the game of souls, hearts are always trumps.*
* HUGH LATIMER.
From the Sermon on the Plough; preached in January 1548. But now methinketh I hear one say unto me: Wot ye what you say? Is preaching a work? Is it a labour? How then hath it happened that we have had, so many hundred years, so many unpreaching prelates, lording loiterers, and idle ministers? Ye would have me here to make answer, and to show the cause thereof. Nay! this land is not for me to plough. It is too stony, too thorny, too hard for me to plough. They have so many things that make for them, so many things to lay for them