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knyves, wyll make his offerynges for one vij. yere worth twise hys tythes.
Thys is, quoth I, very trouth that suche thynges may be, and sometime so be in dede. As I remember me that I have hard my father tell of a begger, that in Kyng Henry his daies the sixt cam with his wife to Saint Albonis. And there was walking about the towne begging, a five or six dayes before the kinges commynge thither, saienge that he was borne blinde, and never sawe in hys lyfe. And was warned in hys dreame, that he shoulde come out of Berwyke, where he said he had ever dwelled, to seke Saynt Ålbon, and that he had ben at his shryne, and had not bene holpen. And therefore he woulde go seke hym at some other place, for he had hard some say sins he came that Sainct Albonys body shold be at Colon, and in dede such a contencion hath ther ben. But of troth, as I am surely informed, he lieth here at Saint Albonis, saving some reliques of him, which thei there shew shrined. But to tell you forth, whan the kyng was comen, and the towne full, sodaynlye thys blind man, at Saint Albonis shryne had his sight agayne, and a myracle solemply rongen, and Te Deum songen, so that nothyng was talked of in al the towne, but this myracle. So happened it than that duke Humfry of Glocester, a great wyse man and very wel lerned, having great joy to se such a myracle, called the pore man unto hym. And first shewing him self joyouse of Goddes glory so shewed in the getting of his sight, and exortinge hym to mekenes, and to none ascribing of any part the worship to him self nor to be proude of the peoples prayse, which would call hym a good and a godly man therby. At last he loked well upon his eyen, and asked whyther he could never se nothing at al, in all his life before. And whan as well his wyfe as himself affermed fastely no, than he loked advisedly upon his eien again, and said, I beleve you very wel, for me thinketh that ye cannot se well yet. Yea syr, quoth he, I thanke God and his holy marter, I can se nowe as well as any man. Ye can, quoth the Duke; what colour is my gowne?
Then anone the begger told him. What colour, quoth he, is this man's gowne? He told him also; and so forthe, without any sticking, he told him the names of al the colours that coulde bee shewed him. And whan my lord saw that, he bad him "walke faytoure," and made him be set openly in the stockes. For though he could have sene soudenly by miracle the dyfference betwene divers colours, yet coulde he not by the syght so sodenly tel the names of all these colours, but if he had known them before, no more than the names of all the men that he should sodenly se. Lo therfore I say, quod your frende, who may bee sure of such thynges whan such pageantes be played before all the towne ?*
The letter which Sir Thomas More wrote to his wife in 1528, after the burning of his house at Chelsea, affords one of the best specimens of the epistolary style at this period:-
Maistres Alyce, in my most harty wise I recommend me to you; and whereas I am enfourmed by my son Heron of the losse of our barnes and of our neighbours also, with all the corn that was therein, albeit (saving God's pleasure) it is gret pitie of so much good corne lost, yet sith it hath liked hym to sende us such a chaunce, we must and are bounden, not only to be content, but also to be glad of his visitacion. He sente us all that we have loste and sith he hath by such a chaunce taken it away againe, his pleasure be fulfilled. Let us never grudge ther at, but take it in good worth, and hartely thank him, as well for adversitie as for prosperite. And peradventure we have more cause to thank him for our losse, then for our winning; for his wisdome better seeth what is good for vs then we do our selves. Therfore I pray you be of good chere, and take all the howsold with you to church, and there thanke God, both for that he hath given us, and for that he hath taken from us, and for
*Sir Thomas More's Works, by Rastell, 4to. 1557, p.
that he hath left us, which if it please hym he can encrease when he will. And if it please hym to leave us yet lesse, at his pleasure be it.
I pray you to make some good ensearche what my poore neighbours have loste, and bid them take no thought therfore for and I shold not leave myself a spone, there shal no pore neighbour of mine bere no losse by any chaunce happened in my house. I pray you be with my children and your household merry in God. And devise some what with your frendes, what waye wer best to take, for provision to be made for corne for our household, and for sede thys yere comming, if ye thinke it good that we kepe the ground stil in our handes. And whether ye think it good that we so shall do or not, yet I think it, were not best sodenlye thus to leave it all up, and to put away our folk of our farme till we have somwhat advised us thereon. How beit if we have more nowe then ye shall nede, and which can get them other maisters, ye may then discharge us of them. But I would not that any man were sodenly sent away he wote nere wether.
At my comming hither I perceived none other but. that I shold tary still with the Kinges Grace. But now I shal (I think) because of this chance, get leave this next weke to come home and se you: and then shall we further devyse together uppon all thinges, what order shalbe best to take. And thus as hartely fare you well with all our children as ye can wishe. At Woodestok the thirde daye of Septembre by the hand of your louing husbande
THOMAS MORE Knight.*
Along with More, as one of the earliest writers of classic English prose, may be mentioned his friend Sir Thomas Elyot, the author of the political treatise entitled 'The Governor,' and of various other works, one of which is a Latin and English Dictionary, the foundation
Sir Thomas More's Works, by Rastell, 4to. 1557, pp. 1418, 1419.
of most of the compilations of the same kind that were published for a century afterwards. More was executed in 1535, and Elyot also died some years before the middle of the century. William Tyndal's admirable translations of the New Testament and of some portions of the Old, and also numerous tracts by the same early reformer in his native tongue, which he wrote with remarkable correctness as well as with great vigour and eloquence, appeared between 1526 and his death in 1536. Next in the order of time among our more eminent prose writers may be placed some of the distinguished leaders of the Reformation in the latter part of the reign of Henry VIII. and in that of Edward VI., more especially Archbishop Cranmer, whose compositions in his native tongue are of considerable volume, and are characterised, if not by any remarkable strength of expression or weight of matter, yet by a full and even flow both of words and thought. On the whole, Cranmer was the greatest writer among the founders of the English Reformation. His friends and fellow labourers, Ridley and Latimer, were also celebrated in their day for their ready popular elocution; but the few tracts of Ridley's that remain are less eloquent than learned, and Latimer's discourses are rather quaint and curious than either learned or eloquent. Latimer is stated to have been one of the first English students of the Greek language; but this could hardly be guessed from his Sermons, which, except a few scraps of Latin, show scarcely a trace of scholarship or literature of any kind. In addressing the people from the pulpit, this honest, simple-minded bishop, feeling no exaltation either from his position or his subject, expounded the most
sublime doctrines of religion in the same familiar and homely language in which the humblest or most rustic of his hearers were accustomed to chaffer with one another in the market-place about the price of a yard of cloth or a pair of shoes. Nor, indeed, was he more fastidious as to matter than as to manner: all the preachers of that age were accustomed to take a wide range over things in general, but Latimer went beyond everybody else in the miscellaneous assortment of topics he used to bring together from every region of heaven and hearth,- of the affairs of the world that now is as well as of that which is to come. Without doubt his sermons must have been lively and entertaining far beyond the common run of that kind of compositions; the allusions with which they abounded to public events, and to life in all its colours and grades, from the palace to the cottage, from the prince to the peasant, the anecdotes of his own experience and the other stories the old man would occasionally intersperse among his strictures and exhortations, the expressiveness of his unscrupulous and often startling phraseology,- all this, combined with the earnestness, piety, and real goodness and simplicity of heart that breathed from every word he uttered, may well be conceived to have had no little charm for the multitudes that crowded to hear his living voice; even as to us, after the lapse of three centuries, these sermons of Latimer's are still in the highest degree interesting both for the touches they contain in illustration of the manners and social condition of our forefathers, and as a picture of a very peculiar individual mind. They are also of some curiosity and value as a monument of the language of the period; but to what is properly to be called its literature,