Billeder på siden


THE language in the following Examination of William Thorpe, being in several places, from its high antiquity, to a considerable degree obsolete, an apprehension of the distaste which this might occasion to some of his readers, made the Editor hesitate respecting the fitness of its constituting a part of the present collection. But he was prevailed upon to decide for its admission, by considerations which he accounts much more worthy of regard: Such are the extraordinary piety, and zeal, and resignation, displayed by this confessor in his hour of trial; the learning and weight of argument; the purity and elegance of the style; the interest which the narrative inspires from the lively and dramatic air in which it is composed; and its value as a document connected and interwoven with the History and Progress of the Reformation in general; and more particularly, with the opinions, partly true and partly false, of Wickliffe and his followers. It is also a circumstance not to be slighted, that we here possess an authentic picture of ancient English manners, and a specimen of ancient English prose composition, removed from our own times by the interval of more than four hundred years.

The popularity of this Tract, and its influence upon the further progress of the Reformation, may be collected from its possessing a place among the works condemned by an assembly of the Clergy and others, in the year 1530; and from the frequency with which those who were called into question for heretical opinions, were taxed with possessing and reading it. (See Wilkins's Concilia, vol. iii. p. 739. Declaration of Seton and Tolwine, a.d. 1541. Signat. B. 3. Bale's Yet a Course at the Romyshe Foxe, fol. 47. Fox's Acts, p. 759. 932. and 954.)

However different it may be from his own judgment, the Editor

is unwilling to conceal the censure passed upon this performance by Sir Thomas More, in his Confutation of Tyndal's Answer, A.D. 1532.

"Then have we the Examinacion of Thorpe, put furth, as it is sayd by George Constantine, by whom there hath been I wot well of that sort great plentie sent into thys realme. In that booke the heretyke that made it as a communicacion betwene the bishop and his chapleynes, and himselfe, maketh all the parties speake as himselfe liketh, and layeth nothing spoken against his heresies, but such as himselfe would seme solemnely to soyle. Whose boke, when any good Chrysten man readeth, that hath eyther learning or any natural witte, he shal not onely be well hable to perceive hym for a foolish heretike, and his argumentes easy to answer, but shal also see that he sheweth himself a false lyer in hys rehearsal of the matter, wherin he maketh the tother part sometime speke for his commoditie, such maner things as no man woulde have done that were not a verye wild goose." Works, p. 342. In justice to Thorpe it is but fair to add, that he assures us, in the Preface, which for brevity's sake is omitted in the present edition, that he went "as neare the sentence and the words as he could, both that were spoken to him, and that he spake, upaventure his writing might come another time before the archbishop and his counsaile."


NEXT Commeth to our hands the worthy historie of master William Thorpe, a warrior valiant, under the triumphant banner of Christ, with the processe of his examinations, before Thomas Arundel archbishop of Canterburie, written by the said Thorpe, and storied by his owne pen, at the request of his friends, as by his owne words in the proces heereof may appeare. In whose examination (which seemeth first to beginne, anno 1407.) thou shalt have, good reader, both to learne and to marvell. To learne, in that thou shalt heare truth discoursed and discussed, with the contrary reasons of the adversary dissolved. To marvell, for that thou shalt behold heere in this man, the marvellous force and strength of the Lords might, spirit and grace, working and fighting in his souldiers, and also speaking in their mouthes, according to the word of his promise. (Luke xxi.) To the text of the story we have neither added nor diminished: but as we have received it, copied out, and corrected by master William Tindall (who had his owne handwriting) so wee have heere sent it, and set it out abroad. Although for the more credite of the matter, I rather wished it in his owne naturall speech, wherein it was first written. Notwithstanding, to put away all doubt and scruple heerein, this I thought before to premonise and testifie to the reader, touching the certainty heereof, that they be yet alive which have seene the selfe same copie in his owne old English, resembling the true antiquity both of the speech, and of the time: the name of whom, as for record of the same to avouch, is Master Whithead; who as he hath seene the true ancient copie in the

hands of George Constantine', so hath hee given credible relation of the same, both to the printer, and to me. Furthermore, the

said master Tindall, albeit hee did somewhat alter and amend the English thereof, and frame it after our maner, yet not fully in all words; but that something doth remaine, savouring of the old speech of that time.

The Examination of William Thorpe, penned with his owne hand.

Knowne be it to all men, that reade or heare this writing, that on the Sunday next after the feast of S. Peter, that we call Lammasse, in the yeere of our Lord 1407, I William Thorpe being in prison in the castle of Saltwood', was brought before Thomas Arundel archbishop of Canterburie, and chancellor then of England. And when that I came to him, he stood in a great chamber and much people about him: and when that hee sawe me, hee went fast into a closet, bidding all secular men that followed him to goe forth from him soone, so that no man was left then in that closet but the archbishop himselfe and a physitian that was called Malveren, parson of S. Dunstanes in London, and other two persons unknowne to me, which were ministers of the law. And I standing before them, by and by the archbishop said to me; William, I know well that thou hast this twentie winters and more, travelled about busilie in the North countrey and in other divers countries of England, sowing about false doctrine, having great businesse, if thou might, with thine untrue teaching and shrewde will, for to infect and poison all this land. But through the grace of God thou art now withstanded and brought into my ward, so that I shall now sequester thee from thine evill purpose, and let thee to envenime the sheepe of my province. Neverthelesse S. Paul saith, If it may be, as much as in us is we ought to have peace with all men. Therefore William, if thou wilt now meekly

1 George Constantine.] This is the person who by Sir Thomas More was supposed to have been the first editor of Thorpe's Examination.-Master Whitehead is appealed to as one well known to be worthy of credit. In the year 1552 he was recommended by Cranmer for "his good knowledge, special honestie, fervent zeal, and politicke wisdom" as most meet to be placed in the archbishopric of Armagh. And upon the accession of queen Elizabeth, it is said, that he was solicited to accept of the see of Canterbury, but he refused.

2 In Kent, between Hythe and Folkstone.

and of good heart, without any feining, kneele down and lay thy hand upon a booke and kisse it, promising faithfully as I shall here charge thee, that thou wilt submit thee to my correction, and stand to mine ordinance, and fulfill it duely by all thy cunning and power, thou shalt yet find me gratious unto thee. Then said I to the archbishop: Sir, since ye deem me an heretike, and out of beleeve, will ye give me here audience to tell my beleeve? And he said, Yea, tell on.

And I said, I beleeve that there is not but one God almightie, and in this godhead, and of this godhead, are three persons, that is, the father, the sonne, and the soothfast holy ghost'. And I beleeve, that all these three persons are even in power and in cunning, and in might, full of grace and of all goodnesse. For whatsoever that the father doth, or can, or will, that thing also the sonne doth and can and will: and in all their power cunning and will, the holy ghost is equall to the father, and to the sonne.

Over this, I beleeve, that through counsell of this most blessed Trinitie, in most convenient time before ordained for the salvation of mankind, the second person of this Trinitie was ordained to take the forme of man, that is, the kind of man. And I beleeve, that this second person our Lord Jesu Christ, was conceived through the holy ghost, in the wombe of the most blessed virgin Marie, without mans seed. And I beleeve that after nine moneths Christ was borne of this most blessed virgine.

And I beleeve, that Christ our saviour was circumcised in the eight day after his birth, in fulfilling of the law; and his name was called Jesus, which was so called of the angell, before that hee was conceived in the wombe of Marie his mother.

And I beleeve that Christ, as he was about thirty yeere old, was baptised in the floud of Jordane of John Baptist: and in the likenesse of a dove the holy ghost descended there upon him, and a voice was heard from heaven, saying, Thou art my wel-beloved sonne, in thee I am full pleased.

And I beleeve, that Christ was mooved then by the holy ghost,

3 Soothfast holy ghost.] Soothfast, soothfastness; true, truth: as we have in sooth still in use. In Pierce Ploughman's Vision, fol. 89, edit. 1550, we find the son termed soothfastness.

The first hath might and majestie, maker of all things ;
Pater is hys propre name, a person by him selfe ;

The second of that sire is soothfastenes Filius ;

The thirde hight the Holy Goste.

« ForrigeFortsæt »