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alike remarkable for his victory over the armies of France in their own country, and their language in the courts and higher circle of England. His Itinerary,' which he himself wrote in English, French, and Latin, and which was also translated into Italian, Belgic, and German, abounds in miraculous accounts of the wonders he had seen in his extensive travels. The singular mixture of truth and fiction, of all that he had seen, and of all that he had read or heard, that was strange and wonderful, renders his book at least a curious and amusing, if not an instructive, production; and it is no small proof of the merit of his writing, that his work is, at this day, in demand among those who search for what is singular and antiquated, while the numerous · Journeys' and · Pilgrimages’ of the many who travelled at the same period have not attracted the slighest notice.
Another of the earliest English writings is John de Trevisa's translation of the Polychronicon.' This is a very curious history of England, and, although remarkable for much inaccuracy and more superstition, contains, at least, an authentic, and, by no means, uninteresting, history of the manners and customs of the English, the Britons, the Saxons, and the Irish. It was afterwards continued by Caxton, the first English printer, from 1357, the period to which it is brought by Trevisa, to 1460, the first year of the reign of king Edward the Fourth. 'If to this we add the Concordance of Stories of Robert Tabiar, which brings down the history of England to the commencement of the reign of Henry the Eighth, together with the historical writings of Froissart, Leland, Harding, and Hall, we have an entire history of England, up to the days of Elizabeth, written in separate parts, at the time the separate 'occurrences described took place, which would be alike valua. ble to the antiquary, the historian, and the general scholar.
Wickliffe, the founder of the Lollards and the most accomplished scholar, acute logician, and powerful disputant of his day, likewise flourished under the third Edward. • He has, says Hume, the honor of being the first person in Europe that publicly called in question those principles, which had universally passed for certain and undisputed, during so many ages.' His writings against Catholicism has a circulation so extensive, that all the attempts of his most powerful opponents were insufficient to destroy even a single one of them; and more than à moiety of the English people were converted by the arguments of this learned and venerable reformer. 2 Reynold Pecock, the generous and noble minded opponent of the Lollards and of Wickliffe, their great master, may justly
be considered one of the most moderate of polemical theologists that ever existed. To his high eloquence and profound zeal for the Catholic cause, he united a temperance and can. dour equally indicative of his unaffected learning and unbigoted piety. His most noted work, entitled “Conclusions,' exhibits a strain of thought so similar to that which pervades the Eccle-1 siastical Polity of Hooker, that it is perhaps no more than just praise to assert that Pecock furnished Hooker with the founda; tion of that most admirable production.
Of Chaucer, it would be presumptuous to say much after the admirable account of his writings, furnished by Godwin, ands the exemplification of his style and peculiarities in the valuar ble edition of bis Canterbury Tales, by Mr. Tyrwhitt. His works are known to all who have the least pretention to an acquaintance with English literature; and perhaps his character, as a writer, cannot be better described, than in the language of old Caxton, who styles him the worshipful father and first founder and embellisher of ornate eloquence.'
While theology was gradually improving, other sciences, such as would naturally attract the attention of a people slowly emerging from primitive ignorance, were not overlooked. The law was making rapid strides, and Sir John Fortescue himself, during the reign of Henry the Sixth and Edward the Fourth, threw more light upon this intricate science, in his treatise de Laudibus Anglia, than all the other writers and legislators had given it together, from the time of the English Justinian, Edward the First. Chivalry, too, at this time, was in high repute, and Caxton's numerous translations from the French authors rendered it extremely popular. Henry the Seventh was himself so enthusiastic an admirer of chivalry, that he commanded Caxton, who was no less an enthusiast than his sovereign, to translate the Book of the Feats of Arms, and of Chivalry,' which had been originally collated by Christina of Pisa, from the writings of Frontinus, Vegetius, the Arbre of Battles, &c. The universal curiosity for the romantic and the marvellous, which characterized the age preceding the reign of Elizabeth, undoubtedly tended more than any thing else to pave the way for the revival of learning under that illustrious princess. The French romances, when clothed in an English dress, by the unwearied exertions of Caxton, were read by all who were sufficiently accomplished to read their own language, and excited a general emulation in the inhabitants of the whole realm to possess this somewhat rare qualification. The high-toned sentiments and generous feelings, the romantic bravery and contempt of danger, and the gallant submission to every peril and privation for the safety
and happiness of females, which stamp all the ancient romances, naturally tended to soften the manners and to improve the minds of such uncultivated readers. Thus, it is clear, that, however useless the ancient romances may be, at the present time, yet they hold a conspicuous place in the history of the progress of literature. Their contents were of a nature admirably suited to rouse the curiosity of a people so superstitio s as were the English before Elizabeth, and thus reading became necessary to all who would peruse these wonderful productions; and the lofty and gallant conduct prescribed for all who would be knights, gradually infused a degree of refinement into the rude society of that early period, which was admirably adapted to prepare them for the splendid constellation of genius which burst forth in every direction under the happy reign of the virgin queen.
But this happy change, wbich only glimmered under the seventh Harry, began to glow with a steadier light under his successor. The custom, at that time, prevalent of removing to foreign countries, there to acquire the language of the ancients in their purity, had a prodigious effect in the advancement of solid literature. The institution of grammar schools in the larger towns, and the encouragement given to the most learned men of all countries to settle in the colleges, tended greatly to render learning fashionable; and the noble institution of Woolsey's College at Oxford, to which the most profound scholars of Europe were invited, laid at once the foundation for an extensive and liberal plan of education.
The translation of the historical works of Froissart, was one of the earliest productions of this reign. This translation was made by Sir John Bourchier, at the command of Henry the Eighth himself. Froissart was as accurate an historian as any that has ever written, and his history of the transactions which took place during the reigns of Edward the Third and Richard the Second, is the best extant even at this day,
Fischer, the ill-fated Bishop of Rochester, was also distinguished in this reign for his profound learning and unaffected piety. His works are chiefly in Latin, but he published some very curious sermons and tracts in the English language, which do credit to the high character for erudition which he attained during his life. But neither his character for erudition, his exemplary life, nor the real respect and affection of the king, whose tutor he had been, could preserve him from the headstrong violence of Henry, because he refused to countenance his lawless treatment of the unhappy Catharine. Notwithstanding his extreme age, he was permitted to linger in a foul
prison, without even sufficient clothing to cover his person for a whole twelvemonth ; at the expiration of which time, the Pope having sent to him a cardinal's hat as the reward of his constancy to his faith, the king, with his characteristic violence, caused this faithful old servant to be consigned to the block.
Sir Thomas More, whose steady adherence to the cause of Queen Catharine, and whose execution for the same cause rendered him the counterpart of Fischer, was one of the most profound scholars that ever enlightened England by his writings. In addition to his numerous and weighty avocations in the successive offices of law, reader at Furnival's Inn, speaker of the commons, master of the requests, ambassador, member of the privy council, and finally, keeper of the great seal, (an honour conferred on a layman, for the first time, in the person of Sir Thomas More,) he found time to give to the world his famous • History of Edward the Fifth, and his brother, and of Richard the Third;' and his Utopia, which passed for a real history, with some of the most eminent men of the day. To this we may add his numerous polemical writings, which possess great merit. As an historian, Sir Thomas More has uniformly enjoyed the most unqualified approbation. Notwithstanding the great obscurity thrown over the bloody and contentious wars between York and Lancaster, yet, wherever More's pen has been employed in an elucidation of the events and general transactions of that time, his revered and honourable fame suisiciently assures us that no prejudice or bias could have induced that magnanimous and impartial man to swerve from the path of truth. In the words of Hume, no historian, either of ancient or modern times, can possibly have more weight:' and again, ' his authority is irresistible, and sufficient to overbalance a hundred little doubts and scruples and objections. But bis unsullied virtue, bis long tried fidelity, his eminent utility, his profound and varied learning were all insufficient to save him from the tyranpical vengeance of Henry the Eighth ; who, under pretence that he had absolutely refused to acknowledge his supremacy, after a mere mock trial, condemned to the scailold this admirable man, who died with an intrepidity, nay, with a cheerfulness, that marked the serenity of his soul and the purity of his principles ; and with a holy resignation that has rendered the scene of his execution an object of wonder and admiration to all who consider at once his innocence and integrity, and the unprincipled severity of the ferocious Henry.
Under this reign, Leland, the father of English antiquaries, produced some works of much curiosity, but, as they do not fall
within the general scope of English literature, we shall leave him to the care of the antiquaries; merely remarking that his
Collections contain a very curious and quaintly written account of the lives and characters of the English writers who preceded him, mingled with many superstitious stories of prophets and their prophecies, written in the early stages of English writing
John Harding was the author of · The Chronicle, from the first beginning of England, unto the reign of king Edward the Fourth, when he made an end of his chronicle ; and from that time is added a continuation of the story in prose, to this our time. Now first imprinted, gathered out of divers and sundry authors that have written of the affairs of England.' This narrative consists of prose and verse; and the most curious part is the metrical history of England, from its fabulous history up to the time of the fourth Henry. It is only valuable, however, as a matter of curiosity,
Edward Hall, who was not many years younger than Harding, is one of the few laborious historians, who have, by the publication of their recondite researches, furnished valuable materials for the modern historians to compile their annals. He is chiefly estimable as an author, for the account he gives of the youthful sports and diversions of Henry the Eighth, and for his precise and special history of the variations of dress in each of the several reigns whose history he has written.
Tyndale, who was publicly executed at Antwerp ; Coverdale, who was imprisoned by bloody Mary together with Holgate, archbishop of York, Ridley, bishop of London, and Hooper of Gloucester; and John Rogers, the prebendary of St. Pauls ; were all severally occupied in a translation of the scriptures, of which, however, nothing particular need be said ; inasmuch as the translation in the reign of James the First has superceded all attempts of the sort in the English language.
The intrepid Latimer, although he perhaps gained his chief celebrity under the reign of Mary, yet, while bishop of Worcester under Henry, became distinguished for his free and forcible denunciation of the prevailing vices of those days. Although a strong Catholic to the age of thirty, he began, soon after his conversion, to assist the cause of the reformers with much zeal. On the passing of the six articles, or the bloody bill, as the Protestants justly called it, Latimer exhibited that firmness and determination which uniformly marked all his subsequent life. On that occasion, he conscientiously threw up his bishopric, and, on a subsequent information was committed to prison, where he remained until Henry's death, after