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Rekindled thus, from dens and savage woods

Moves, handed on with never-ceasing care,
Through courts, through camps, o'er limitary floods;
Nor lacks this sea-girt isle a timely share

Of the new flame, not suffered to expire."

Some, again, of the same persecuted race repaired to Provence and Languedoc, where they were known by the name of Albigenses, or heretics of Albi (perhaps the parent stock of the present protestants in the south of France); and on being driven thence, as they were driven thither by the inquisition and the sword, sought shelter in the neighbouring district of Guienne, then in possession of the English, and thus possibly found a way for themselves or their tenets, or both, into Britain by another channel. But, in truth, such opinions as those entertained by the Waldenses, the Albigenses, the Bohemians, and the Lollards (for by this latter name the disciples of Wickliffe were distinguished—a name probably given to them as being tares, lolium, amongst the wheat,) had quietly diffused themselves over a great part of Christendom, in spite of the unrighteous pains taken by the church of Rome to put down all overt expression of them. Springing up in various and distant spots of Europe, they gradually became (so to speak) confluent. Nor is it impossible to trace the means by which this might be effected. The intercourse of mankind was considerable in those days; greater, perhaps, than we are apt to imagine, in this age of stage-coaches, canals, railroads, and steam-boats. Pilgrimages promoted travelling to an extent now almost incredible; -every country took care to be provided with some bait or other for the holy palmer, and the more distant the journey the more meritorious the service. Vessels were regularly freighted with pilgrims. Licenses were granted by King

PROPAGATION OE HERESY.

91

Henry VI. in one year for the exportation of 2433 pilgrims to St. James of Compostella. The wife of Bath

*

"Thrics had been at Jerusaleme,

She hadde passed many a strange streme,
At Rome she hadde ben, and at Boloine,
At Galice, at Saint James, and at Coloine."

Rome indeed, the heart as it were of Christendom, was perpetually receiving and expelling a current of idle or devout dwellers in every region under heaven, and was thus circulating, intelligence of all kinds through all lands. The home circuit was still more trodden; 100,000 pilgrims, we are told, visited St. Thomas a Becket in a single year.† Commerce was then comparatively little, but it was carried on in a manner to secure much personal communication. Fairs, which continued a fortnight or three weeks, and whilst they continued, transformed a desolate heath perhaps, into a temporary city, with streets and shops, and houses, and "all appliances to boot," destined to disappear once more when the mart was over, like a vision of fairy land, drew together from all quarters merchants, both native and foreign. Universities were not places of resort for the youth of the mother-country only, but were filled with students of divers nations; for, Latin being the conventional language of them all, no man, from whatever country, was excluded by the want of the vernacular tongue. The same circumstance afford

* Ellis's Letters, i. 110. 2d Series.

+ Ecc. Biog. i. 234.

Latin was the common language of schools also before and at the Reformation. In the "Monita Pædagogica ad suos Discipulos " of Lily, the grammarian, and first master of Paul's, is the following admonition:

"Et quoties loqueris, memor esto loquare Latine,

Et veluti scopulos barbara verba fuge."

ed to professors a facility of migrating from one university to another, as occasions might present themselves, without the tax of learning a new vocabulary. Minstrels were ever upon the stroll from abbey to abbey,-the welcome carriers of news to the secluded but inquisitive monks; and freemasons, a kind of nomade race, pitched their tents wherever they found occupation, and having reared the cathedral or the church with admirable art, journeyed on in search of other employers. Finally, the Italians and other aliens, who by favour of the pope were put in possession of church livings in every country to which his authority extended, furnished another channel of international communication. In the reign of Henry III, the annual value of the benefices so disposed of in England was 70,000 marks, a sum more than triple the whole revenue of the crown.* These were some of the many ways in which the intercourse of mankind was maintained in those primitive times, and the circulation of any popular doctrine effectually secured, whatever obstacles might be opposed to it. Thus it was that the principles of the Reformation were slowly and silently making their way through Europe, when perhaps their progress was little suspected; and one of those under currents was setting in which are not in the end less powerful because they happen for a season to be unobserved. It is singular, that when Dante conducts his hero to that quarter of the infernal regions where the heretics are paying the penalty of their sin, being condemned to stand upon their heads in jars of fire, he adds a remark indicative of the temper of the times, and much to our present purpose, that these fiery sepulchres were filled with victims to a number far beyond all expectation.t Wickliffe, we know, found himself very quickly at the head of a numerous and powerful body in England, simply be

* Ecc. Biog. i. 30. note.

+ Inferno, c. ix.

WICKLIFFE.

66

93

cause he furnished a mouth-pieee to those who had not as yet mustered courage to speak out for themselves, so mistaken is the conclusion of the Roman catholic, that the unity of his church is to be inferred from its silence. A third part of the clergy, Wickliffe himself tells us, thought with him on the sacrament of the Lord's supper, and "would defend that doctrine on payne of theyr lyfe;" and Knighton, a contemporary writer, affirms, that you could not meet two people in the way but one of them was a disciple of Wickliffe.* Moreover, when he was cited before the bishops at Lambeth, it was not merely the influence of the Duke of Lancaster that protected him, as a useful partisan, but the multitude clamoured for his release, as a teacher of the truth; or "his person was saved out of the hands of his enemies," (so says Fuller in his own inimitable manner) as was once the doctrine of his godly namesake; they feared the people; ⚫ for all men counted John that he was a prophet indeed.' ”† The moment was peculiarly propitious to the extension of Wickliffe's opinions. The schism in the papacy occurred a few years before his death; and the spectacle of two infallible heads of the church anathematising one another, could not fail to open the eyes of Christendom to the unwarranted pretensions of both. To this circumstance, probably, Wickliffe was indebted for permission to end his turbulent life in peace, in his own parish, and in his own bed, since the disposition of Rome towards this arch-heretic was sufficiently testified, when, forty-one years afterwards, the council of Constance, in impotent rage, condemned his bones to be exhumed, burned, and cast into the brook. But the Swift (such is its name) bore them to the Avon, that to the Severn, the Severn to the sea, to be dispersed unto all lands; which things are an allegory.

* Ecc. Biog. i. 97, 98.

† Mark, xi. 32.

Of this great reformer himself, who so raised the waters not of this country only, but of Europe at large, that Luther came in with the next wave, it is difficult to speak. A most effectual weapon he undoubtedly was for the pulling down of strong holds; but we may admire the wisdom of God in adjusting his instruments to the work which he has for them to do, when he raised up first a Wickliffe, and afterwards a Cranmer. Had they changed places, Cranmer's meek and gentle spirit would have been overborne by the almost irresistible torrent of corruption of the times of Edward; and, on the other hand, Wickliffe's daring and impetuous temper, and his hasty views of ecclesiastical polity, would have urged him to go all lengths with Henry-and whilst he would have demolished a church of Rome, he would have left few or no materials for erecting a church of England. Cranmer and his colleagues have been pronounced by our great puritan poet, "time serving and halting prelates;" happily, in one sense, they were so. Wickliffe would have been a man more after Milton's heart; but "the wisdom which is from above," we read, "is gentle:" and if there be one thing more than another that fixes the attention of sober-minded and considerate men when contemplating the progress of the Reformation, it is the calmness, the temper, the prudence, the presence of mind, with which Cranmer endeavoured to direct (like a good and guardian angel) the tempest on which he rode; and whilst he felt how much the fierce element was imperatively commissioned to destroy, he never for a moment forgot the still nobler part, how much it was permitted to spare: he steered the ark of his church with wonderful dexterity through a sea of troubles, avoiding the scattered Cyclades, when it is probable that, had his great predecessor been the pilot, he would have run it aground, and left it a wreck. Wickliffe, as a sincere believer, was naturally vexed at the scandals by which he

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