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as we have said, they can hardly be considered as belonging at all.
The following extract from Latimer's third sermon preached before King Edward VI. at Westminster, 22nd March, 1549, was contributed by Sir Henry Ellis, to the Pictorial History of England. "We copy the original edition," says Sir Henry, "with all its spellings and provincialisms; a volume of so great rarity as not to be found in any of the libraries which have been brought together at the British Museum :”
Syr, what forme of preachinge woulde you appoynt me to preache before a kynge? Wold you have me for to preache nothynge as concernynge a kynge in the kynges sermon? Have you any commission to apoynt me what I shall preach? Besydes thys, I asked hym dyvers other questions, and he wold make no answere to none of them all. He had nothyng to say. Then I turned me to the kyng, and submitted my selfe to his Grace and sayed I never thoughte my selfe worthy, nor I never sued to be a preacher before youre Grace, but I was called to it, would be wyllyng (if you mislyke me) to geve place to my betters. For I graunt ther be a great many more worthy of the roume than I am. And if it be your Grace's pleasure so to allowe them for preachers, I could be content to bere their bokes after theym. But if your Grace allowe me for a preacher I would desyre your Grace to geve me leave to discharge my conscience. Geve me leve to frame my doctrine accordyng to my audience. I had byne a very dolt to have preached so at the borders of your realm, as I preach before your Grace. And I thanke Almyghty God, whych hath alwayes byne remedy, that my sayinges were well accepted of the kynge, for like a gracious Lord he turned into a nother communicacyon. It is even as the Scripture sayeth Cor Regis in manu Domini, the Lorde dyrected the kinges hart. Certaine of my frendes came to me wyth teares in their eyes, and told me they
loked I should have bene in the Tower the same nyghte. Thus have I ever more bene burdened wyth the worde of sedition. I have offended God grevouslye, transgressyng hys law, and but for his remedy and his mercye I wold not loke to be saved. As for sedicion, for oughte that I knowe, me thynkes I shoulde not nede Christe, if I might so saye. But if I be cleare in any thynge, I am cleare in thys. So farre as I knowe myne owne herte, there is no man further from sedicion then I, whyche I have declared in all my doynges, and yet it hath bene ever layed to me. An othher tyme, when I gave over myne offyce, I should have receyved a certaine dutye that they call a Pentecostall; it came to the summe of fyftye and fyve pound, I sent my Commissarye to gather it, but he coulde not be suffered. For it was sayed a sedicion should ryse upon it.
Thus they burdened me ever wyth sedicion. So thys gentilman commeth up nowe wyth sedicion. And wott ye what? I chaunched in my last Sermon to speake a mery worde of the Newe Shilling (to refreshe my auditory), howe I was lyke to put away my newe shillynge for an olde grote; I was herein noted to speake sediciously. Yet I comfort my self in onethyng, that I am not alone, and that I have a fellowe. For it is consolatio miserorum, it is the comforte of the wretched to have companye. When I was in trouble, it was objected an sayed unto me that I was syngular, that no man thought as I thought, that I love a syngularyte in all that I dyd, and that I tooke a way, contrarye to the kynge and the whole parliamente, and that I was travayled wyth them that had better wyttes then I, that I was contrary to them al. Marye syr thys was a sore thunder bolte. I thought it an yrkesome thynge to be a lone, and to have no fellowe. I thoughte it was possyble it myghte not be true that they tolde me. In the vii. of John the Priestes sente out certayne of the Jewes to bryng Christ unto them vyolentlye. When they came into the Temple and harde hym preache, they were so moved wyth his preachynge that they returned home agayne, and sayed to them
that sente them, Nunquam sic locutus est homo ut hic homo, there was never man spake lyke thys man. Then answered the Pharysees, Num et vos seducti estis? What ye braynsycke fooles, ye hoddy peckes, ye doddye poulles, ye huddes, do ye beleve hym? are you seduced also? Nunquis ex Principibus credidit in eum? Did ye see any great man or any great offycer take hys part? doo ye se any boddy follow hym but beggerlye fyshers, and suche as have nothynge to take to? Numquis ex Phariseis? Do ye se any holy man? any perfect man? any learned man take hys parte? Turba que ignorat legem execrabilis est. Thys laye people is accursed, it is they that knowe not the lawe that takes hys parte, and
Lo here the Pharises had nothynge to choke the people wyth al but ignoraunce. They dyd as ourę byshoppes of Englande, who upbrayded the people alwayes with ignoraunce, where they were the cause of it them selves. There were, sayeth St. John, Multi ex principibus qui crediderunt in eum; manye of the chyefe menne beleved in hym, and that was contrarye to the Pharisyes saying, Oh then by lyke they belyed him, he
was not alone.
So thoughte I, there be more of myne opinion then I, I thought I was not alone. I have nowe gotten one felowe more, a companyon of sedytyon, and wot ye who is my felowe? Esaye the prophete. I spake but of a lytle preaty shyllynge; but he speaketh to Hierusalem after an other sorte, and was so bold to meddle with theyr coine. Thou proude, thou covetouse, thou hautye cytye of Hierusalem, Argentum tuum versum est in scoriam; thy sylver is turned into what? into testyons? Scoriam, into drosse. Ah sediciouse wretch, what had he to do wyth the mynte? Why should not he have lefte that matter to some master of policy to reprove? Thy silver is drosse, it is not fine, it is counterfaite, thy silver is turned, thou haddest good sylver, What pertayned that to Esay? Mary he espyed a pece of divinity in that polici, he threateneth them Gods vengeance for
it. He went to the rote of the matter, which was covetousnes. He espyed two poyntes in it, that eythere it came of covetousnesse whych became hym to reprove, or els that it tended to the hurte of the pore people, for the noughtynes of the sylver was the occasion of dearth of all thynges in the realme. He imputeth it to them as a great cryme. He may be called a mayster of sedicion in dede. Was not this a sedyciouse harlot to tell them thys to theyr beardes? to theyr face?
Generally it may be observed, with regard to the English prose of the earlier part of the sixteenth century that is both more simple in its construction, and of a more purely native character in other respects, than the style which came into fashion in the latter years of the Elizabethan period. When first made use of in prose composition, the mother tongue was written as it was spoken; even such artifices and embellishments as are always prompted by the nature of verse were here scarcely aspired after or thought of; that which was addressed to and specially intended for the instruction of the people was set down as far as possible in the familiar forms and fashions of the popular speech, in genuine Saxon words, and direct unencumbered sentences; no painful imitation of any learned or foreign model was attempted, nor any species of elaboration whatever, except what was necessary for mere perspicuity, in a kind of writing which was scarcely regarded as partaking of the character of literary composition at all. The delicacy of a scholarly taste no doubt influenced even the English style of such writers as More and his more eminent contemporaries or immediate followers; but whatever elegance or dignity their compositions thus acquired was not the effect of any professed or
conscious endeavour to write in English as they would have written in what were called the learned tongues.
The age, indeed, of the critical cultivation of the language for the purposes of prose composition had already commenced; but at first that object was pursued in the best spirit and after the wisest methods. Erasmus, in one of his Letters, mentions that his friend Dean Colet laboured to improve his English style by the diligent perusal and study of Chaucer and the other old poets, in whose works alone the popular speech was to be found turned with any taste or skill to a literary use; and doubtless others of our earliest classic prose writers took lessons in their art in the same manner from these true fathers of our vernacular literature. And even the first professed critics and reformers of the language that arose among us proceeded in the main in a right direction and upon sound principles in the task they undertook. The appearance of a race of critical and rhetorical writers in any country is, in truth, always rather a symptom or indication than, what it has frequently been denounced as being, a cause of the corruption and decline of the national literature. The writings of Dionysius of Halicarnassus and of Quintilian, for instance, certainly did not hasten, but probably rather contributed to retard, the decay of the literature of ancient Greece and Rome. The first eminent English writer of this class was the celebrated Roger Ascham, the tutor of Queen Elizabeth, whose treatise entitled 'Toxophilus, the School or Partitions of Shooting,' was published in 1545. The design of Ascham, in this performance, was not only to recommend to his countrymen the use of their old national weapon, the bow, but to set