« ПредишнаНапред »
the nunnery of Lambley, in the diocese of Carlisle. He took the vows, and became a friar in the monastery at Greenwich in 1508.
We are indebted to the Rev. R. H. Barham, of St. Paul's, for the discovery of a memorandum in Latin, peculiarly interesting in tracing the history of Tyndale. It is on the title-page of the “Sermones de Herolt," a small folio, printed in the year 1495, in the Cathedral Library: “ Charitably pray for the soul of John Tyndale, who gave this book to the monastery of Greenwich of the observance of the minor brothers, on the day that brother William, his son, made his profession, in the year 1508.”
This accounts for an observation in the preface to his “ Parable of the Wicked Mammon, May, 1528:” “A year
before came one Jerome a brother of Greenwich also, through Worms to Argentine, saying that he intended to get his living with his hands, and to live no longer idly, and of the sweat and labour of those captives which they had taught not to believe in Christ, but in cut shoes and russet coats.”
For some years previous to his taking the vows, Tyndale had not only read the holy oracles to his fellow students, but had commenced that work which appears to have been throughout his life an object of the most anxious solicitude, by translating portions of the New Testament into English. The original autograph of these translations,* now in my possession, is in quarto, the margins ornamented with borders, and every portion accompanied with an appropriate drawing in imitation of some ancient missal. In many places he has written his initials W. T., and on two of the ornamental pillars he has placed the date : on the capital of one is inscribed “TIME TRIETH, 1502;” and on another, simply the date, “1502.” The version in this selection of Scriptures nearly agrees with his first printed edition. It is a striking proof of his early proficiency, his extraordinary knowledge of the Greek language, and his extreme care and indefatigable research, that many whole paragraphs agree exactly with the translation now in use. Notwithstanding his amiable temper, he had become even then an object of persecution. He has interwoven this prayer in one of his drawings, cherubs holding the scroll on which it is written : “ DEFEND ME, O LORD, FROM ALL THEM THAT HAIT ME. W. T.”
* This valuable MS. came into my hands from the library of that eminent antiquary, the Rev. H. White, of Lichfield Cathedral.
The first of these sections is here copied literally, to show his singular proficiency as a translator, twenty-three years prior to his venturing to publish the New Testament. It is the latter part of the seventh chapter of Luke. “ And one of the Pharises desired him that he wolde eate withe him. And he wente into the Pharises house; and sat downe to meate. And beholde a woman in that cytie (whiche was a sinner) as sone as she knewe that Jesus sat at meate in the Pharases house, she brought an alblaster boxe of oyntment, and stoode at his fete behynde hym wepynge: and began to wasshe his fete withe teares, and dyd wype them withe the heeres of her heade: an kissed his fete, and anoynted them withe the oyntment. When the Pharise whiche had bydden him, sawe, he spake within himselfe, saynge, yf this man were a prophet, he wolde surely knowe who, and what maner of woman this is that touched him; for she is a sinner. And Jesus answered, an saide vnto him: Simon, I haue somwhat to saye vnto the. And he saide. Master, say an. There was a certene lender, whiche had two debters, the one oughte fyue hundreth pence, and the other fiftye. When they had nothynge to pay, he forgaue them bothe. Tell me therfore; whiche of them will loue him moste : Simon answered and sayde, I suppose that he to whom he forgaue moste : And he saide vnto him : Thou haiste truly iudged. And he turned to the woman, and sayde vnto Symon. Seest thou this woman : I entred in to thyne house, thou gauest me no water for my fete, but she hath wasshed
my fete withe teares, and wyped them with the heares of her heade. Thou gauiste me no kysse : but she sence ye tyme I cam in, haith not ceaced to kysse my fete. Myne heade with oyle, thou diddest not anoynte: but she hathe anoynted my fete with oyntment : Wherfore I
say ynto the :
many forgyuen her, for she loued much. To whom lesse is forgiuen, the same dothe less loue. And he said vnto her, thy synnes ar for gyuen the: And they that sat at meate with hym be gan say
with in them selues, who ys this whiche forgeueth synnes : and he said vnto the woman : thy faithe haith saued the : Go in peace.
Though threatening danger lin'd
RETURNS TO HIS NATIVE COUNTY AS TUTOR IN A KNIGHT'S FAMILY
When Luther's intrepid defiance of the Pope had rendered him an object of universal conversation, Tyndale, having returned to his native county, was engaged as tutor and chaplain to the family of Sir John Welch, a knight of Gloucestershire, and a hospitable gentleman, who, keeping a good table, frequently enjoyed the company of the neighbouring prelates and clergy. With these visiters, his chaplain occasionally entered into controversy on the Lutheran opinions, and, grieved at the ignorance of the Roman Catholic teachers, warmly advocated the reading of the New Testament. This, as Fuller wittily says, led them to prefer the giving up Squire Welch's good cheer, rather than to have the sour sauce of Master Tyndale's company. The Squire's lady, who was a sensible woman, felt hurt when she saw these great men, whom she had been brought up to venerate, overcome in religious disputation, and asked Sir William Tyndale* whether it was likely that she could prefer his judgment to that of such wealthy prelates. To this he thought proper not to reply, lest it should excite her temper, which he saw to be ruffled. But soon after, he translated Erasmus's “Enchiridion,” and dedicated the manuscript to Sir John and his lady. They read it attentively, and became convinced of the spirituality of a Christian profession; and thus Tyndale secured their high esteem and friendship. The beneficed clergy soon displayed their bitter hostility, and he was cited to appear before the ordinary. In his way thither, he spent the time in fervent prayer: the great object of his supplications was, that his heavenly Father would strengthen him, at all hazards, to stand firmly for the truth of his word. On his arrival, he found a numerous assemblage of his persecutors; but either for fear of offending the hospitable knight, or by the secret providence of God, their mouths were shut, and nothing was laid to his charge. The ordinary, however, “ rated him like a dog."
* The title given at that time to all priests : after the Reformation it gradually gave place to the title of Reverend.
The persecuted Teacher, soon after this, consulted an old doctor, who had been chancellor to a bishop: he privately told him, that, in his opinion, the Pope was antichrist, but advised him by no means to avow any sentiment of the kind, as it would be at the peril of his life. Tyndale, however, soon proved himself incapable of concealment; for being in company with a popish divine, he argued so conclusively in favour of a vernacular translation of the Bible, that the divine, unable to answer him, exclaimed, “We had better be without God's laws than the Pope's.” This fired the spirit of Tyndale ; and, with holy indignation, he replied: “ I defy the Pope and all his laws; and, if God give me life, ere many years the ploughboys shall know more of the Scriptures than you do :” a pledge which he amply redeemed by not only publishing the New Testament in English, adapted to the most refined society, but also in the orthography of the country people and ploughboys.
He now became so turmoiled” in the country, that he could no longer dwell there without imminent danger both to himself and to his worthy friends : in consequence of this, he left Gloucestershire, and preached frequently at Bristol, in London, and other places, to crowded congregations. He still continued his connexion with the Romish church, endeavouring in his sermons to win souls to Christ, while he avoided persecution by refraining from hard names, and from the pointed introduction of controversial topics. In this policy a naturally amiable temper must have greatly assisted him. His position was one of peculiar difficulty and danger, and it required great talent to guide his course. Skilfully upholding the ark, he did not attempt to pull down the Dagon of his day; but error fell before truth, as Dagon fell before the ark of the Israelites at Ashdod.
A circumstance which took place at this time, shows the conduct of Tyndale to have been that of a man without guile, who judged of others by the measure of his own goodness. Erasmus had courteously commended Tonstall, then Bishop of London, as a patron of learning; and Tyndale was led to hope that a chaplaincy in his house would enable him, without molestation, to proceed in his great work of translating the Bible into English. He obtained from Sir John Welch an introduction to Sir H. Guildford, who recommended him to the Bishop. To secure his object, he translated one of Isocrates' Orations; and with this proof of his attainments in the Greek language, he waited upon Tonstall, hoping that his talent alone would secure for him a service in the bishop's house; but, as Fox quaintly says, “ God gave him to find little favour in his sight.” Thus disappointed, he found a comfortable asylum in the house of a pious and benevolent alderman, Humphrey Monmouth, and lived with him about six months of the
1523. This worthy citizen was, a few years after, sent to the Tower on suspicion of heresy; the principal crime laid to his charge being, his having aided Tyndale. The original articles, and Monmouth's memorial to the lord legate and the privy council, witnessed by Bishop Tonstall, are in the Harleian Collection of State Papers.* It was with some painful apprehension that I read these documents. A wealthy merchant of the city of London committed to such a prison, on so dangerous a charge, with all the terrors of confiscation, torture, and death before him, unless he pleased the enemies of Tyndale! How great a temptation to publish any slander or calumny, however unfounded, against a poor
friar at that time in exile! But his character was without a blemish, and Monmouth, imbued with honourable prin
* These papers are not dated; Strype ascribes them to 1528.