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I will only hope, for the sake of the ladies of the party, that the snow was not so newly fallen, and so slightly frozen, as when I made the ascent, or that the gentlemen were gallant and strong enough to carry them.
Again I can picture to my imagination the last stage, from the spot where the “ Casa Inglese" now stands—upon a loose cinder heap, frosted like a twelfth-cake, over which a curious problem is worked, each step forward appearing to take two steps backward, and yet the summit of Etna is gained. To be sure, you may be dragged half a mile by a guide, but you need not mention this when you get home to England. Sunrise from Etna has been described again and again, and yet I must refer you to the mountain-top, at the hour of dawn, for any thing like a true conception of this daily wonder, when the sky is clear, which so few behold. It is a spectacle such as might have answered the mandate, “Let there be light!” The sun bursts from the chaos of darkness, but earth is yet undefined ; another moment past of this dawning of creation, and the sea rolls in the distance,-the dry land appears. The world below seems to rise new from the hand of its Creator! The giant shadow of Etna, making yet the night of Sicily, now fades away; all is revealed ; and breathing faintly the atmosphere of the skies, we gaze downward, wondering if it be that earth which we have left.
But to descend from the mountain, and go on with our story. On the return of the travellers to the wooded region, great was their surprise to find under the “castagno di cento cavalli” a sumptuous collation prepared for them. Every description of game known in Sicily was there cooked and garnished, ready for the hungry tourists. The feast was not sent from Catania, nor had it come from Nicolosi; there was here collected more than a year's provision for the whole village: no, it was spread by the brigands of the mountain for the Englishmen, of whose intended coming their spies had informed them. Many of these desperadoes had been driven to their present mode of life by political persecutions. They were all brave men, and honoured the brave.
If I recollect aright, my friend Gemmellaro told me that a note in the midst of the sylvan feast invited our countrymen to partake of it, and I have no doubt that they accepted the invitation. The following year the British officers saw some of their hospitable entertainers executed in the streets of Catania. The brigands of Etna, soon after the visit to their haunts which I have related, had, of their own accord, dispersed themselves. One or two of their band had since served in the Sicilian army, and gallantly; but the penalty of blood shed amid the vines of the mountain was yet to be visited upon them. I know not if their guests in the woods of Etna interceded for them ; but this I know-they “ died the death."
A friend at mine elbow reminds me that when I last told the foregoing story, no ladies were introduced : perhaps so; but they are an embellishment to all stories, and the fact of the courtesy of the brigands to the English officers remains the same.
AN HISTORICAL ACCOUNT
ENGLISH VERSIONS OF HOLY SCRIPTURE.
CHAPTER II.- EARLY ENGLISH VERSIONS.
As the Anglo-Saxon tongue gradually merged into English, the history of Scripture translations re-commences, just as it did before; for as Caedmon* had by his paraphrases led the way to actual translations, so at this latter period, all the earliest attempts to give any part of Scripture in English, are found to be in verse. The first of these was executed by Orme or Ormin, and is a paraphrase of the Gospels and Acts of the Apostles, in the style of Anglo-Saxon poetry without rhyme, and shows the state of the English language in the twelfth century.
The next attempt was also in metre, but the author is not known. It is contained in the Bodleian Library Oxford, and bears this title, “Here begynnen the tytles of the book that is called in Latyn tonge Salus Animæ, and in English tonge Sowlhele.” It contains a verse translation of the Old and New Testament, and was executed before the thirteenth century, A somewhat similar version is in the valuable Manuscript Library, in Corpus Christi College, Cambridge. In the same College, there is also an English metrical version of the book of Psalms, made about the year 1300. These Psalters may be called the first attempts at a translation into English. They follow the
Gallican (or French) Latin Psalter, corrected by Jerome from the Greek text of Origen. As an example, the 100th Psalm is thus given in the two forms of the English version, the original and the revised. ORIGINAL C.C.C. CAMBRIDGE, LATER VERSION. Cott. M.S. M.S. 278.
VESP. D. VII. Mirthes to god al erthe that es Mirthies to lauerd al erthe that es, Serves to louerd in faines.
Serues to lauerd in fainenes In go yhe ai in his siht,
Ingas of him in the sight, In gladness that is so briht
In gladeschip bi dai and night.
In euermore his merci esse
nesse. With these metrical versions of the book of Psalms ends the history of known attempts to embody the Scriptures in English, prior to the fourteenth century. It will thus be seen that there was far less executed than there had been in Saxon days, so that three hundred years previously an inhabitant of England would have found much more of Scripture in his native tongue than one would who lived at this time.
It is asserted by Sir Thomas More, that there were translations of the Bible long before that of Wiclif, (A. D. 1380;) but what they were, does not satisfactorily appear. He thus speaks of Wiclif and his labours, “ Ye shal understande that the great arch heretike Wicliffe, whereas ye hole Byble was long before his dayes, by virtuous and wel lerned men, translated into ye english tong, and by good and godly people w'h devotion and soberness reurently red, toke upon hymn of a malicious purpose to translate it of new."
There does not however appear anything like evidence of the existence of an English Version of the Scriptures, either of the Old Testament or of the New, prior to the fourteenth century; at least, no prose version has survived the wreck of time. The first of the translations of this time was Richard Rolle, hermit of Hampole, who has been most commonly known by the latter name. The place from which he took this name is near Don. caster. He lived in the early part of the fourteenth century, and
his object in making translations of part of the Scripture, appears to have been occupation and amusement. All that can be with certainty ascribed to him is the book of Psalms, which together with the hymns of the Church, he turned into English, subjoining a comment to each verse. The following may be taken as a specimen of Hampole's version. It is from the 23rd Psalm. “Our lord gouerneth me and nothing to me shul want: stede of
pasture that he me sette. In the water of hetyng forth he me brougte: my soule he turnyde. He lodde me on the stretis of rygtwisnesse: for his name. For win gif I hade goo in myddil of the shadewe of deeth : I
shall not dread yueles, fer thou art with me The geerde and the staf coumfortid me.” etc.
Besides this version of the Psalter, Hampole made a translation in verse, of the seven penitential Psalms; and of certain portions of Job; and also a long paraphrase of the Lord's Prayer. There are also two other versions of the Psalter still extant of about the same date. Besides these there is also a Manuscript in Corpus Christi College, containing a gloss on the following books of the New Testament; the Gospels of St. Mark and Luke; the Epistles to the Romans, Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Colossians, the Apocryphal Epistle to the Laodiceans, Thessalonians, Timothy, Titus, Philemon, and Hebrews. From the evidence of this MS., we may well believe that the whole of the New Testament was about this time translated into English. The following is a specimen of this translation; Mark i. 1. “And he prechyde sayande, a stalworther thane I shal come efter me of whom I am not worthi downfallende, or knelende, to louse the thwonge of his chawcers.”
A partial translation of the Evangelists in the northern dialect is found in a M.S., in the British Museum, which contains the Gospels for the Sundays throughout the year, translated into English, together with an exposition. The following is a specimen: “And this is the testimoninge of Ion when the Iues of ierulm sent priests and dekenes unto Iun baptist for to aske him what ertow. And he graunted what he was,
agen said nogt. And he graunted and said I am nogt crist.” John i. 19.
The object of this translation appears to have been to make the principle events of the Scripture Narrative familiar to those who could not read Latin. As yet there does not appear to have been in England, either a desire on the part of the people to possess the whole of the Scripture in their own language, or an attempt on the part of the spiritual authorities to forbid it. The close
connexion of the translations hitherto noticed with the Church Services, is to be borne in mind. These versions have been mostly Psalters and Church Hymns, or else portions of the New Testament which were frequently read in the Latin Services, which were clothed in English dress, apparently by the Romish priesthood, who carefully guarded the text so translated, by their own commentary.*
It does not, however, appear likely that these versions were at all widely circulated: indeed this would be contrary to all probability, if we consider the state of literature at that time in England. Thus something was yet to be waited for, which should give a sufficient impulse to cause laborious pains to be taken to copy and circulate the English Scriptures. It was not enough that they should be translated. If they were to be known by the people they must be forced upon their attention by some new and unwonted means. This was not long delayed.
From what has been now said, it will be seen that nothing which has been mentioned will at all bear out the assertion of Sir Thomas More, that the Scriptures both of the Old and New Testaments were translated into English before the days of Wiclif. There was thus an open field left in England with regard to two points, first, the making of an English version of the entire Scriptures; and second, the circulation of it when made. We have no account of any attempt to attain either of these objects up to the period in question.
HINTS ON THE STUDY OF RELIGIOUS TRUTH.
For all who are sincere converts to religion, and are touched with a sense of sin, a fear of God and desire to please Him; (for it is vain to talk of others, who have none of these sentiments, and are destitute of tbe spiritual life,) the first necessary step is to become children again, and go back to the fundamentals, or first principles of the doctrine of Christ. In His school the first class is humility. This agrees with His own rule. And, under Him, nothing can better instruct them in these principles, than our own catechism. This should be well studied; first, in the words of the church, and then with some good exposition Examine every proof by the bible; take nothing upon
* Bagster's Introduction, p. 9. Edit, 4to, 1841,