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HE two events which were of greatest moment in familiarizing the English people with the forms of their language, and in making these forms permanent, were the introduction of printing and the translation of the Bible.


To William Caxton belongs the credit of setting up the first printing press in England. In 1455 Gutenberg had printed a Latin Bible in Germany, but the first book to issue from Caxton's press was entitled the "Game and Playe of Chesse," and was published in 1491. Caxton printed ninety-nine books, most of them in English, partly translations and partly original works. He wrote a great many prefaces and translated a number of books, and may fairly be said to hold a real place in the history of English literature, aside from the unique service which he rendered it in establishing printing in England.

As soon as the inauguration of printing made it easy for the general public to be possessed of books there was a great and general demand for the English Bible. More than a century had elapsed since John Wyclif had translated the Book of Books into his mother-tongue. This remarkable man, who was the first to open the whole Scriptures to those of his countrymen who could not read Latin, was of almost equal importance in the literary and political history of his country. He attained to a position of considerable influence, but, being abandoned by his great friends, lost all his preferments. It was now that he began his translation of the Bible, which he completed about the year 1380.

A hundred years later such changes had been wrought in the language that few Englishmen could read the Wyclif version. The nation was agitated upon religious subjects, and The Reformation was about to dawn, when William Tyndale, an Oxford graduate of great learning, undertook to provide a translation of the Bible, not from the Latin, as was Wyclif's, but from the original Hebrew and Greek.

The spirit of the English clergy and Tyndale's determination are well shown in the story of his encounter with a popish divine. His argument in favor of a Bible which could be read by the common people was so conclusive that, unable

to answer him, his opponent exclaimed, "We had better be without God's law than the Pope's." Tyndale's indignant reply was, "I defy the Pope and all his laws; and if God gives me life, ere many years the ploughboys of England shall know more of the Scriptures than you do." And he kept his word. He was compelled to become an exile to accomplish his task, and in 1526 he printed in Antwerp a New Testament in English. Great numbers of copies were imported into England, though the importers were prosecuted, and the author, after being compelled to remain in hiding while he prepared a new edition of his great work, especially adapted to agricultural laborers and other ignorant classes, was finally betrayed by spies of Henry VIII, and sentenced to the dreadful penalty of burning at the stake. The prayer embodied in his last words, "O Lord, open the King of England's eyes," met with early fulfilment, for almost immediately the capricious tyrant ordered that the Bible should be placed in every church for the free use of the people.

Besides the New Testament, Tyndale had translated the five books of Moses and the book of Job.

The battle was now won. In 1535 Miles Coverdale, Bishop of Exeter, published the first printed edition of the whole Bible in English. John Rogers, who had been a co-worker with Tyndale, was the real translator, though a fictitious name was given in the book. In 1540 this same Bible, bearing a preface by Archbishop Cranmer, and hence known by his name, was authorized as the only version of the Scriptures to be used in the English Church. From "Cranmer's Bible" were taken the passages of Scripture used in the English prayer-book. It lacked the simplicity and energy of Tyndale's version, but continued in general use until, early in the following century, King James I assembled a company of forty-seven of the greatest scholars in the land, who prepared the most remarkable of all Bible translations, the "Authorized Version," which holds its place in the hearts of the English-speaking people until the present time.

Scholars have not ceased to frame new translations, and the "Revised Version," published, the New Testament in 1881 and the Old Testament 1885. although correcting many manifest errors, has not yet been able to displace the great work which has been the main text-book for the spiritual instruction of the English-speaking people for nearly three centuries.


ND Jhesus seynge the peple, went up into an hil; and whanne he was sett, his disciplis camen to him. And he openyde his mouthe, and taughte hem; and seide, Blessid be pore men in spirit; for the kyngdom of hevenes is herun. Blessid ben mylde men: for thei schulenweelde the erthe. Blessid ben thei that,

mournen; for thei schal be coumfortid. Blessid be thei that hungren and thirsten rightwisnesse : for thei schal be fulfilled. Blessed ben merciful men for they schul gete mercy. Blessed ben thei that ben of clene herte: for thei schulen se God. Blessid ben pesible men: for they schulen be clepid goddis children. Blessid ben thei that


suffren persecucion for rightwisnesse: for the kyndgom of hevenes is hern. Ye schul be blessid whanne men schul curse you, and schul pursue you and schule seye al yvel agens you liynge for Joie ye and be ye glade for your meede is plenteous in hevenes: for so thei han pursued also prophetis that weren bifore you. Ye ben salt of the erthe, that if the salt vanishe awey wherynne schal it be salted? to nothing it is worth over, no but it be cast out, and be defoulid of men. ben light of the world, a citee set on an hill may not be hid. Ne men teendith not a lanterne and puttith it undir a bushel: but on a candilstik that


it give light to alle that ben in the hous. So, schyne your light bifore men, that thei see youre gode workis, and glorifie your fadir that is in hevenes. Nyle ghe deme that I cam to undo the Lawe or the prophetis, I cam not to undo the lawe but to fulfille. Forsothe I sey to you tili hevene and erthe passe, oon lettre, or oon title, schal not passe fro the Lawe til alle thingis be don. Therefore he that brekith oon of these leeste maundementis, and techith thus men, schal be clepid the Leest in the rewme of hevenes: but he that doth, and techith, schal be clepid greet in the kyngdom of hevenes.

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¡ND marke' A Certayne Lawere stode vp' and tempted hym sayinge: Master what shall I do to inheret eternall lyfe? He sayd vnto him: What ys written in the lawe? Howe redest thou? And he answered and sayde: Thou shalt love thy lorde god' wyth all thy hert' and wyth all thy soule' and with all thy strengthe' and wyth all thy mynde; and thy neighbour as thy sylfe. And he sayd vnto hym: Thou hast answered right. This do and thou shalt live. He willynge to iustifie hym sylfe' sayde vnto Jesus: Who ys then my neighbour?

Jesus answered and sayde: A certayne man descended from Jerusalem into Jericho' And fell into the hondes off theves' whych robbed hym off his rayment and wonded hym' and departed levynge hym halfe deed. And yt chaunsed that there cam a certayne preste that same waye' and sawe

hym' and passed by. And lyke wyse a levite when he was come neye to the place' went and loked on hym and passed by. Then a certayne Samaritane as he iornyed cam neye vnto hym and behelde hym and had compassion on hym and cam to hym and bounde vppe hys wondes and poured in wyne and oyle and layed him on his beaste and brought hym to a common hostry and drest him. And on the morowe when he departed he toke out two pence and gave them to the host and said vnto him, Take care of him and whatsoever thou spendest above this when I come agayne I will recompence the. Which nowe of these thre thynkest thou was neighbour unto him that fell into the theves hondes? And he answered: He that shewed mercy on hym. Then sayd Jesus vnto hym, Goo and do thou lyke wyse.

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And saynge: Master, my servaunt lyeth sicke att home off the palsye, and is grevously payned. And Jesus sayd vnto him. I will come and cure him. The Centurion answered and saide: Syr I am not worthy that thou shuldest com vnder the rofe of my housse, but speake the worde only and my servaunt shalbe healed. For y also my selfe am a man vndre power, and have sowdeeres vndre me, and y saye to one, go, and he goeth; and to anothre, come, and he cometh: and to my servaunt, do this, and he doeth it. When Jesus herde these saynges: he marveyled, and said to

them that followed him: Verely y say vnto you, I have not founde so great fayth: no, not in Israell. I say therfore vnto you, that many shall come from the eest and weest, and shall rest with Abraham, Ysaac and Jacob, in the kyngdom of heven And the children of the kingdom shalbe cast out in to the vtmoost dercknes, there shalbe wepinge and gnasshing of tethe. Then Jesus said vnto the Centurion, go thy waye, and as thou hast believed so be it vnto the. And his servaunt was healed that same houre.


OW then I will finish all these fables with | parish." And then that other vailed [lowered]


this tale that followeth, which a worshipful priest and a parson told me late: He said that there were dwelling at Oxenford two priests, both Masters of Arts-of whom that one was quick and could put himself forth; and that other was a good simple priest. And so it happened that the master that was pert and quick was anon promoted to a benefice or twain, and after to prebends, and for to be a dean of a great prince o' chapel, supposing and weening that his fellow, the simple priest, should never be promoted, but be always an annual, or, at the most, a parish priest. So after a long time that this worshipful man, this dean, came running into a good parish with five or seven horses, like a prelate, and came into the church of the said parish, and found there this good simple man, sometime his fellow, which came and welcomed him lowly. And that other bade him "Good morrow, Master John," and took him slightly by the hand, and axed him where he dwelt.-And the good man said, "In this parish," "How," said he, are ye here a sole priest, or a parish priest?" "Nay, sir," 'Nay, sir," said he, "for lack of a better, though I be not able nor worthy, I am parson and curate of this

his bonnet, and said, "Master Parson, I pray you
to be not displeased; I had supposed ye had not
been beneficed. But, master," said he, "I pray
you what is this benefice worth to you a year?"
"Forsooth," said the good simple man, "I wot
never; for I never make accompts thereof, how
well I have had it four or five years."
know ye not," said he, "what is it worth?—it
should seem a good benefice." "No, forsooth,"
said he, "but I wot well what it shall be worth
to me." Why," said he, "what shall it be
worth?" "Forsooth," said he, "if I do my true
dealing in the cure of my parishes in preaching
and teaching, and do my part belonging to my
cure, I shall have heaven therefore. And if their
souls be lost, or any of them, by my default, I
shall be punished therefore. And hereof I am
sure." And with that word the rich dean was
abashed and thought he should be the better,
and take more heed to his cures and benefices than
he had done. This was a good answer of a good
priest and an honest. And herewith I finish this
book, translated and imprinted by me, William



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