Abbildungen der Seite


Note I.—p. 1. That Huss received the works of Wycliffe from England there can be no doubt. This subject is treated fully in L’Enfant's Council of Constance, i. 25 et seqq. The proceedings of that Council on Wycliffe and Huss tend to the same conclusion of connecting together these reformers. Sir Thomas More, Dial. iii. 14, also traces Huss's proceedings to Wycliffe. Huss himself never denied that Wycliffe was his forerunner, and always defended him against the charge of heresy, and of teaching anything against Scripture, though his books had been burnt by the Council in 1412, and forty-five of his tenets condemned (L'Enfant, Concil. Const., i. 25, 240).

That Wycliffe manor was an ancient seat of the Wycliffes we find asserted as well known by Camden (Brit. iii. 340). The strange mistake of Baker (Chron. 130) may be noted. He says that Wycliffe went into voluntary banishment to Bohemia, where his doctrine took root after his death, which he seems to say happened in that country.

Note II.-p. 3. T. Walsingham's silence on the subject of Wycliffe's talents and character, when contrasted with the bitterness of his invectives against his heresies, is sufficiently expressive: “ Hypocrita, Angelus Sathanæ, antichristi præambulus, non nominandus, Joannes Wycklif, vel potius Wick-beleve, hæreticus, sua deli. ramenta," &c. (Hist. Ang. 256). So in relating his death

“ Organum diabolicum, hostis ecclesiæ" (not felt as an anticlimax, probably) “ confusio vulgi, hypocritarum speculum " (ib. 338); and the good monk then describes with infinite exultation his apoplectic seizure, with its dreadful effects upon his features. In the Ypodigma Neust. 142, he dispatches him to hell, “ Malitiosum etflavit spiritum ad sedes luce carentes." But H. Knighton, who represents everything as much as possible against bim, though in language more measured, is obliged to admit that he was “Doctor in Theologiâ eminentissimus," adding “ in philosophiâ nulli reputabatur secundus, in Scholasticis disputationibus incomparabilis” (De Ev. Ang. 2644).

Walden, his bitter enemy, says (Epistle to Martin V.) that he “ was wonderfully astonished at Wycliffe's most strong arguments with the places of authority which he had gathered, and with the vehemency and force of his reasons.”

After his death the Vice-Chancellor and Senate of Oxford bore a formal and solemn testimony to his character :-“ All his conditions and doings throughout his whole life were most sincere and commendable. His honest manners and conditions, profoundness of learning and most redolent fame, we deem the more worthy to be notified and known unto all faithful, for that we understand the maturity and ripeness of his gifts; his diligent labour and travels solid to praise God and profit the Church.” They describe him as “ so preeminently honest from his youth upward that never at any time was there any spot of imposition noised of him.” They speak of him as “ the champion of the faith, vanquishing by force of Scriptures all such as by their wilful beggary blasphemed and slandered Christ's religion ; neither (they add) was this doctor convict of any heresy -neither were burnt any of his works after his burial.” To his talents the amplest testimony is borne: “ In logicalibus, philosophicis, theologicis, et moralibus scripserat inter omnes nostræ universitatis ut credimus sine pari.” This document bears date 1st October, 1406 (Concil. Magn. Brit., iii. 302). But some have doubted its authenticity, and supposed the University seal to have been used by fraud.

Note III.p. 3. “ Bothe vengaunce of swerde,” saith he, “and myscheife unknowne bifore, bi whiche men thes daise schulde be punysched, schule falle for synne of prestis. Men schal fall on hem, and cast hem out of her fatte benefices, and thei schal seie,' he came into his benefice by his brynrede, thes by covenant maad bifore; he for his servyse, and thes for moneye, came into Goddis Chirche.' Thane schal eche suche prest crye, Alas! alas! that no good spirit dwellid with me at my comynge into Goddis Chirche(Last Age of the Church, p. xxxiv., Todd's edition). The date of this work is proved to be 1356, as in the text I have given it, for in one passage the author expressly says, “ Fro Crist we now are therten hundred yeirs, fifty and sixe yeirs.”

*The Last Age of the Church' began thus : “ Alas forsorwe (for sorrow) grete prestis sittinge in derkenessis and in schadowes of deeth, noght havynge him that openly crieth Al this I wille give gif you avaunce me.” Then he inveighs against reservations, dymes (i.e. tithes of clerical incomes due to Rome), first fruits, and other payments. He also describes as one of the four tribulations of the Church, “chafferers walkynge in derkenessis, the heresy of Symonysms."

Note IV.-p. 4. Dr. Lingard, with his wonted zeal against reformers, states this suspicion of the purity of Wycliffe's motives, and only says that the charge has been brought, perhaps rashly(Ling. Ed. III., ch. ii. vol. iv. p. 215). Now as Dr. Lingard cites Lewis, who gives the dates fully, there should have been no doubt expressed, for these dates are decisive against the charge. In 1356 the · Last Age of the Church' was published, as is shown in Note III.; and it accuses the Ronish see of simoniacal practices (see that note). About the same time, certainly not later than 1360, Wycliffe took a most prominent part in the controversy against the Mendicant friars. It was not till 1365 that he obtained the wardenship of Canterbury Hall, nor until 1370 that the Pope decided against his claims, the interval having been spent in further prosecuting his former opposition to the friars.

I have given in the text the common account which all writers from the end of the sixteenth century gave, and which never was doubted till 1841, when Mr. Courthope adduced important reasons for questioning whether Wycliffe ever was Master of Canterbury Hall. His opinion is founded on the undoubted fact that there was another J. Wycliffe, who died a year before the Reformer, having held the living of Hirsted Kynes in Sussex, and who also held the living of Mayfield, Archbishop Islip's residence, in the same county. It is further certain that Wycliffe himself never makes any allusion to his appeal in any of his numerous writings; and, what is more material to the argument, his bitter enemies, T. Walsingham and H. Knighton, are wholly silent upon the fact of his ever having had a dispute with Rome on his own individual account. I have caused search to be made in all the repositories of Oxford—those of Balliol, Merton, and Christ Church—with which Canterbury Hall was united in 1545 ; but any mention of the great Reformer is rarely to be found in the records of those houses, Chichele, when he succeeded to the primacy, having indeed caused most of the documents in which his name appeared to be destroyed. Of Canterbury Hall there are no papers whatever preserved in Christ Church ; and those of Lambeth only give the pieces of the proceedings in the appeal, from whence no inference can be drawn as to which of the two Wycliffes claimed the Mastership. But one circumstance seems to impeach Mr. Courthope's system, and to confirm the common account. The J. Wycliffe who was Master received his appointment in December, 1365; and it appears from the Balliol papers in the chest relating to St. Lawrence Jewry (a city rectory in the gift of that College), that Jolin de Huegate was Master of Balliol in 1366. Now nothing can be less likely than that the Reformer, who is admitted on all hands to have been Master of Balliol in 1365, should have given up his place unless he received some other promotion ; and if he became Master of Canterbury Hall, the probability is very great that he would almost immediately resign Balliol. There is an appendix to the work of a Master of Balliol, entitled · Balio-fergus,' which gives a list of the Masters, and after J. Wycliffe's name (1361) coines that of Tyrwitt (1371); but the author expressly states that he only gives the names of Masters who did something worthy of being recorded, and that his dates refer not to their admission, but to their acts. By the same list it appears that in 1340 another John Wycliffe had been Master of Balliol, for at that time the Reformer was only sixteen years old.

The Bursars' Rolls of Merton show that J. Wycliffe held a College office 30 Edw. III. (1357), and was therefore in all probability a Fellow at that time.

NOTE V.—p. 4. The following passage is taken from his MS. tract. Of Clerks Possessioners,' apud Lewis, p. 7:—“ Freres,” says he, “ drawen children fro Christ's religion into their private order by hypocrisie, lesings, and steling. For they tellen that their order is more holy than any other, and that they shullen have higher degree in the bliss of heaven than other men that ben not therein, and seyn that men of their order shullen never come to hell, but shullen dome other men with Christ at doomsday. And so they stelen children from fader and nioder, sometime such as ben unable to the order, and sometime such as shullen susteyn their fader and moder by the commandment of God; and thus they ben blasphemers taken upon full councel in douty' things that ben not expressly commanded ne forbidden in holy writ; sith such counsel is appropred to the Holy Gost, and thus they ben therefore cursed of God as the Pharisees were of Christ, to whom he saith thus :* • Woe to you scribes and Pharisees that


* Matt. xxiii. 14,

« ZurückWeiter »