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Catalogues of the Wycliffe MSS.
369 Nevertheless, if some of our modern German historians are to be credited, Huss and Jerome were little more than echoes of Wycliffe, and if so, then Luther and Melancthon may be claimed as his children, however insensible they may themselves have been to the fact of such a genealogy.
But the Reformation, and especially the dissolution of the monasteries, threw a large quantity of manuscripts abroad. Bishop Bale, Archbishop Parker, and Archbishop Ussher, are entitled to special commendation for the care with which they possessed themselves of such treasures, and deposited them where they might be of service in time to come. Foxe the martyrologist made use of the manuscripts relating to Wycliffe which Bale had collected, especially of the collection of papers from which the pieces in Mr. Shirley's volume are selected. But the most valuable collection of manuscript works written by Wycliffe himself, were those collected by Archbishop Parker, and deposited in Corpus Christi College, Cambridge ; and those collected by Archbishop Ussher, and deposited after his decease in the library of Trinity College, Dublin. Down to the beginning of the last century, however, not a vestige of use had been made of the Parker manuscripts at Cambridge, and even then the use made of them by Mr. Lewis was much less thorough than might have been expected, as will be presently shown. While in regard to the Ussher manuscripts in Dublin, though among the most valuable that have been preserved to us, they were not known, for the greater part, as being in existence, until Dr. Vaughan called public attention to them.
It is this long neglect of everything relating to Wycliffe in England, though himself so great an Englishman, that has made it so difficult in these later times to gratify the curiosity of a wiser public by furnishing trustworthy information concerning him. As a nation we may well lament that the place of the great Reformer in our history should be so much a place apart and alone, and that what we now know of him, or can hope to know, falls so much below what we wish to know. But we have ourselves to thank for this state of things. We owe it to those narrow bigotries which have been so rife among us from the days of Wycliffe to our own.
But what is our present knowledge with regard to the writings of this extraordinary man ? Mr. Shirley says that the introduc. tion to Mr. Baber's reprint of what was supposed to be Wycliffe's New Testament contains the best catalogue yet given of Wycliffe's works' (530). A few sentences on this point will suffice to test Mr. Shirley's claims to caution and accuracy on matters of this nature.
The earliest attempt to furnish a list of the Reformer's writings was made by Bishop Bale, in his Illustrium Majoris Britannia Scriptorum Summarium, printed in 1548. The catalogue there given includes one hundred and two titles, with the mention of the opening words of the MSS. in thirty-four instances, but without reference as to where any MS. in the list might be found. Many of the works in this catalogue are now among the best known productions of the Reformer, and are of much value, others are still known only by their titles. Mr. Lewis's list was not published until two centuries later. It is a great improvement on that of his predecessor. It had now become comparatively easy to ascertain what MSS. of this description existed in the libraries of the English universities, in the King's Library, and in some other collections. Mr. Lewis's titles of works amount to two hundred and eighty, and under some of these titles several distinct pieces are included. But it should be added, that more than half of these titles are titles of the same works, or of works which have either perished or are unknown. Of the remaining MSS. the opening words are generally given, as well as the title, and sometimes—though very rarely-an indication as to their contents, and it is quite as rare to find any indication as to when they were written. Mr. Baber's catalogue was published in 1810. It ought to have been a great improvement on that published by Mr. Lewis. But it is not. It is much less full, and some of its omissions are very material. For instance, fully a third of the MSS. in Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, mentioned by Mr. Lewis, are overlooked by Mr. Baber. To the MSS. in Trinity College, Cambridge, Mr. Baber has not made a single reference. One of the volumes in the lastnamed collection consists of a folio of nearly a hundred and fifty closely written pages, including thirteen discussions or treatises, on so many different topics, several of these being pieces which, so far as we know, will not be found elsewhere. Here are the contents of this volume as printed by Mr. Lewis, and as reprinted by Dr. Vaughan, who has added the paging of the volume to indicate the comparative length of the several papers :
'1. DE ENTE COMMUNI. In primis supponitur ens esse, hoc enim non probari potest nec ignorari ab aliquo. Fol. 1-5. 2. DE ENTE PRIMO. Extenso ente secundum ejus maximam ampliationem, possibile est venari in tanto ambitu ens primum. Folio 5—9. 3. DE PURGANDO ERRORES, ET VERITATE IN COMMUNI. Consequens et purgare errores. Fol. 9-15. 4. DE PURGANDO ERRORES ET UNIVERSALIBUS IN COMMUNI. Tractatu continentur dicta de universalibus. Folio 15-23. 5. DE UNIVERSALIBUS. Tractatus de uni. versalibus continet 16 capitula cujus primum. Folio 23–37. 6. DE TEMPORE. In tractando de tempore sunt aliqua ex dictis superius Catalogues of the Wycliffe MSS.
capienda. Folio 37–47. De INTELLECTIONE DEI. Illorum quæ insunt Deo communiter, quædam insunt sibi soli. Folio 47–53.8. DE SCIENTIA DEI. Ex dictis superius satis liquet quod scientiam quam Deus. Folio 53–70. 9. DE VOLITIONE DEI. Tractando de volitione Dei quam oportet ex dictis supponere. Folio 70–91. 10. DE PERSONARUM DISTINCTIONE. Superest investigare de distinctione et convenientia personarum quas credimus plena fide. Folio 91–115. 11. De Ideis. Tractando de ideis primo oportet quærere si sunt. Folio 115–122. 12. DE POTENTIA PRODUCTIVA DEI. Veritatum quas Deus non potest renovare. Folio 122-134. 13. DE SERMONE Domini, in three parts. Licet totum Evangelium.-Fol. 134-141.' - Monograph, 541.
The reader will feel that omissions extending to MSS. of this magnitude and importance are a grave matter. The truth is, the only advantage in Mr. Baber's catalogue over that of Mr. Lewis that is worth notice, consists in the reference made by the help of Denis's printed catalogue of the Imperial Library at Vienna, to MSS. existing in that collection which are attributed to the Reformer. But information concerning the titles of supposed Wycliffe MSS., at Vienna, is a poor compensation for the want of the information that might have been given concerning MSS. nearer home. Mr. Baber's account of the MSS. in the British Museum is valuable. It is well also to know, as far as
we may, what is in a library so little accessible as the Imperial Library of Vienna; but, on the whole, Mr. Baber's catalogue, in place of being the best as compared with Dr. Vaughan's (which is what is meant), is not the best as compared with that published by Mr. Lewis more than a century since. As Mr. Baber ought to have produced a fuller and more satisfactory catalogue than Mr. Lewis, so Dr. Vaughan ought to have produced a fuller and a more satisfactory one than either; and we cannot help thinking that he has done so. But of this our readers shall have the means of judging.
Dr. Vaughan had before him what Mr. Lewis had done, and what Mr. Baber had done. What addition has he made to those acquisitions? In the first place, he has done something to confirm the representations made by those writers by his fuller examination of some of the MSS. to which they refer—by presenting frequent analyses of their contents, with copious and characteristic extracts, and in many instances by determining, not only their authorship, but their dates. He has also shown that some of the pieces attributed to Wycliffe, and printed as being his, are certainly not his. He has, moreover, added to the series of Wycliffe MSS., which were known to be in existence when Mr. Baber concluded his labours, an extended list of which the best informed at that time had no knowledge. The following are the titles of the MSS. which Dr. Vaughan has added to the previous lists :
1. DE HYPOCRITARUM IMPOSTURIS. 2. DE OBEDIENTIA PRELATORUM. 3. DE CONVERSATIONE ECCLESIASTICORUM. 4. SPECULUM DE ANTICHRISTO. 5. OF CLERKS PoSSESSIONERS. 6. DE XXXIII. ERRORIBUS CURATORUM. 7. OF THE ORDER OF PRIESTNOop. 8. DE PRECATIONIBUS SACRIS. 9. DE EPISCOPORUM ERRORIBUS. 10. IMPEDIMENTA EVANGELIZANTIUM. 11. DE DOMINIS ET SERVIS. 12. DE DIABOLO ET MEMBRIS. 13. FOR THREE SKILLS LORDS SHOULD CONSTRAIN CLERKS TO LIVE IN MEEKNESS. 14. DE Do. MINIS Divino. 15. OF PERFECT LIFE. 16. THE SEVEN DEADLY SINS. 17. DE ECCLESIÆ DOMINIS. 18. OF THE TEMPTATIONS OF THE FIEND. 19. How MEN OF PRIVATE RELIGION SHOULD LOVE MORE THE GOSPEL OF God's HESTS, &c. 20. TRACTATUS EVANGELII DE SERMONE DOMINI IN MONTE. 21. EXPOSITIO ORATIONIS DoMINICÆ. 22. TRACTATUS DE ANTICHRISTO. 23. EXPOSITIO IN XXII. XXIV. XXV. CAP. St. MATTHEW. 24. TRACTATUS DE STATU INNOCENTIÆ. 25. TRACTATUS DE TEMPORE. 25. DE CAPTIVO HISPANENSI-FILIA COMITIS DE DENE INCARCERATO INFRA SEPTA WESTMONAST. 26. THE CREED, THE PATERNOSTER, AND THE AVE Maria. 27. OF THE SEVEN HENESIES. 28. OF THE DECALOGUE. 29. OF FAITH, HOPE, AND CHARITY. 30. OF THE SEVEN WORKS OF BODILY MERCY. 31. OPERA CHARITATIS.
31. SEPTEM PECCATA CAPITALIA. 32. DE ECCLESIA ET MEMBRIS EJUS. 33. DE APOS.
ET DOTATIONE ECCLESIÆ. 34. TRACTATUS DE Pseudo FRERIS. 35. EGRESSUS JESUS DE TEMPLO. 36. OF ANTICHRIST AND HIS MEINEE (lately printed by Dr. Todd, but not Wycliffe's), 37. OF ANTICHIRIST'S SONG IN THE CHURCH. 38. OF PRAYER-A TREATISE. 39. NOTA DE CONFESSIONE. 40. CHRIST FORSOOTH DID ALL THAT HE COULD TO OBEY LORDS. 41. NOTA DE SACRAMENTO ALTARIS. 42. CHRYSOSTOM SAITH THAT FISIERS AND BUYSTOUSE MEN, MAKING EACH DAY NETS. 43. NEITHER MAN NOR WOMAN MAY PERFECTLY DO THE SEVEN WORKS OF MERCY. 44. CLERKS KNOW THAT MAN HATI FIVE WITS OUTWARD. 45. How ARE QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS PUT THAT ARE WRITTEN HEREAFTER (extends to forty leaves, has been since printed by Dr. Todd). 46. IT IS WRITTEN IN HOLY WRIT THAT TIIERE WERE THREE PATRIARCUS. 47. THESE BE THE NINE POINTS TIIAT THE LORD JESUS ANSWERED A HOLY MAN. 48. OF TIIE DEEDS OF MERCY GOD WILL SPEAK AT THE DREADFUL DAY.'
Here, then, is a list of some FIFTY MSS., large and small, all existing in the library of Trinity College, Dublin, and all attributed to Wycliffe, not one of which has been mentioned as existing there in any publication whatever until they were all inserted in the list of the Reformer's writings published by Dr. Vaughan. In 1827, when Dr. Vaughan was engaged in these researches, there was no printed catalogue to the Dublin MSS.,
Mr. Shirley—Ignorance or what else ?
and no one could examine them except under the eye
of a fellow of the college. They were, in consequence, unknown at a distance, and no one having ready access to them had been disposed to examine them. Mr. Baber remarks that much of the value of any list of the Reformer's writings must depend on the care taken to name 'the place where any manuscript work is to be found, and the language in which it is written.' (p. xxxviii.) It must also be obvious that such a catalogue will be good, not only in proportion to the number of MSS. it includes that may be accounted unique, but to its number of existing duplicate manuscripts. We feel bound to say, however, that Mr. Baber's catalogue is remarkably faulty according.to his own idea of what it ought to have been. Not to notice lesser omissions, it gives no account, as we have seen, of the manuscripts in Trinity College, Cambridge-a considerable series. It omits quite a third of the Wycliffe MSS. in Corpus Christi College, Cambridge -the most valuable collection in the kingdom. It mentions six only of this class of MSS. as to be found in Trinity College, Dublin—while the number existing there is between fifty and sixty. Dr. Vaughan's catalogue contains everything to be found in Mr. Baber's; it is full in its account of the MSS. in Cambridge ; and it stands alone in its account of the nearly FIFTY MSS. above enumerated which are in Dublin, and it includes the results of Dr. Todd's subsequent examination of those MSS. along with his own.* Yet Mr. Shirley can coolly tell the future students of English history that Mr. Baber's list is the best that bas yet been given to the public'! How is this to be explained ? Is it done in ignorance? Or is it done wittingly? In either case, what value can attach after this to any assertion that Mr. Shirley may make on points of this description ? Not the LEAST,
We think we shall make it appear, in the next place, that the comparison made in reference to Mr. Lewis's Life of Wiclif is about as just as the assertion made in reference to Mr. Baber's catalogue of the Reformer's works. We have seen how the course of events in our history tended to divert the attention of Englishmen from enquiries concerning the services and character of Wycliffe down to the beginning of the eighteenth century. It was greatly to the credit of Mr. Lewis to attempt what he did on this subject at that time. Bishop Bale, John Foxe, Dr. James, Fuller, Collier, and Anthony Wood, were his chief precursors in this path since the Reformation. Such documents as had appeared in print, and some that existed only in manuscript,
* John de Wycliffe, a Monograph. Appendix, pp. 525–511. Tracls and Treatises of John de Wycliffe, D.D., with Selections and Translations. Edited by Robert Vaughan, D.D. 1844. pp. 1–79.