PREVIOUS CHAPTER - NEXT CHAPTER - HELP - FB - TWITTER - GR VIDEOS - GR FORUMS - GR YOUTUBE
[THE first original composition from Tyndale’s pen, of which any trace or account has come down to us, is his ‘Prologue’ to the quarto edition of his translation of the New Testament. Indeed, the Rev. C. Anderson has not hesitated to say, that we have, in that Prologue, ‘the very first language addressed by him to the Christians of England:’ and if so, that first language is to be found in the ‘Pathway into the Holy Scripture.’ For the ‘Pathway’ is, in fact, a reprint of that Prologue; with such alterations as Tyndale either thought requisite to adapt it for separate publication, or expedient to prevent its identity with the reprobated Prologue from being detected at first sight. The precise date of the first publication of the Pathway, as a separate treatise, has not been ascertained It is however mentioned by Dibdin, as having been printed by Thomas Godfray, London. Now the Prologue itself was undeniably printed in 1525, and Th. Godfray printed nothing after 1532; so that we have thus certain limits, between which the Pathway must have passed through the press. But farther, in Sir Thos. More’s preface to his ‘Confutation of Tyndale’s Answer’ to his Dialogue, which Confutation bears on its title-page that it was printed in 1532, we find him mentioning the Pathway, and apparently ignorant then that Tyndale was its author.
More had been recapitulating the titles of such works as had then come out in Tyndale’s name, accompanying the recapitulation with brief but coarsely abusive comments, to prove him a ‘setter-forth of heresies as evil as the Alchorane;’ and then he proceeds to assail ‘friar Barns, sometime doctor in Cambridge,’ charging him with holding the heresy of Zuinglius ‘concerning the sacrament of the altar,’ (though Barnes’s creed was in reality Lutheran,) for which, and for his demeanor, More says ‘he might lawfully be burned,’ as ‘having clearly broken and forfeited the king’s safeconduct.’ ‘Then,’ says he, ‘have we farther yet, beside Barnes’ book, the A. B. C. for children. And because there is no grace therein, lest we should lack prayers, we have the Prymer, and the Ploughman’s Prayer, and a book of other small devotions, and then the whole Psalter too. After the Psalter, children were wont to go to their Donat and their Accydence; but now they go straight to scripture. And thereto have we as a Donat, the book of The Pathway to Scripture ; and for an Accydence, because we should be good scholars shortly and be soon sped, we have the whole Sum of Scripture in a little book: so that after Tyndale’s Testament, and all the other high heresies that he and Jaye, and Fryth, and friar Barns, teach in all their books beside; of all which heresies the seed is sown, and prettily sprung up in these little books before.’ The proclamations and episcopal mandates against the circulation of Tyndale’s Testaments particularly notice the appended glosses ; which belonged exclusively, to the edition prefaced by the Prologue which was the prototype of the Pathway. And whilst that edition was well nigh stifled in its birth by the anti-reforming zeal of Cochlaeus, as noticed in the life of Tyndale, its prologue and pointed notes seem to have provoked the ruling powers at home to hunt it out for destruction with such successful zeal, that the fact of its ever having existed had begun to be overlooked, till a fragment of the portion printed at Cologne, probably lost by Tyndale in his hasty flight with the few finished sheets, was recently discovered in London, bound up with a contemporary production; and being purchased by the late Rt. Hon. Thomas Grenville, has just been added, by his considerate bequest, to the literary treasures of the British Museum. The account of this discovery, and the evidence for the genuineness of this fragment, which commences with the prologue, are stated by Mr.
Anderson as follows: — “Mr. Thomas Rodd, of Great Newport-street, a respectable bookseller in London, having exchanged with a friend, who did not recollect how he came by it, a quarto tract by Oecolampadius, without any cover, there was attached to it, by binding, a portion in the English language, black letter; and though it was evidently the gospel of Matthew, with the prologge of 14 pages preceding, neither Mr. Rodd nor his friend understood, at the time, what it actually was. ‘The accidental discovery,’ says Mr. R., ‘of the remarkable initial letter Y with which this page, the first of the prologue, is decorated, in another book printed at Cologne in 1534, first led me to search other books printed at the same place; and I succeeded in finding every cut and letter, with the exception of one, in other books from the same printing-office, that of Peter Quentel.
I have found the type in which this portion of the New Testament is printed, and the cuts with which it is decorated, used in other books printed at Cologne from the year 1521 to 1540.’ The fact is,” proceeds Mr Anderson, “that though the tract entitled, A Pathway into the Holy Scripture , contains the most of it, the prologue was never printed entire in any subsequent edition, nor, above all, its important and beautiful introduction. Independently however of these proofs, there is incontrovertible evidence presented to the eye. The first page of the sacred text is preceded by a large, spirited cut of the evangelist Matthew at his work, dipping his pen into the inkstand, held out to him by an angel; and by this specimen, though the title-page be wanting, we are able to prove, not only that the printer was Peter Quentel, but that the year of printing was 1525.
Rupert’s commentary on Matthew sent from Liege to Cologne, a closely-printed folio volume, was finished at Quentels press so early as the 12th of June, 1526. Now as far back as the beginning of this folio, or page second, we have the identical large wood-cut of Matthew, which had been used to adorn the preceding New Testament; but, before being employed in the work of Rupert, better to fit the page, the block had been pared down, so as to deprive it of the pillar on the left side, the angel of the points of his pinions, and both pillars of their bases at the bottom. Thus also it was placed on the title-page, and again, next year, before Matthew, in a beautiful folio Latin Bible. In the New Testament of Tyndale, on the contrary, the block will be seen entire; consequently it must have been the prior publication, and must have been used accordingly in 1525.” By the kind indulgence of the late Mr Grenville, the editor was permitted to collate his unique copy of the Prologue. Such a collation was particularly desirable, because he has not been able to ascertain the existence of any copy of the Pathway, as separately printed: so that the only ancient edition of it, accessible to him, has been the copy inserted in Day’s folio black-letter reprint of the works of Frith, Barnes, and Tyndale, published in 1573.
Those portions of the Prologue which are omitted in the Pathway will be given to the reader in the notes appended to their proper places; and, on the other hand, such portions of the Pathway as were not parts of the Prologue will be distinguished, by including them within brackets. The marginal notes also, which appeared in the Prologue, and therefore passed under Tyndale’s eye, will have the initials, W. T., affixed to them; whilst those that are only found in Day’s edition will be marked Ant. ed., to express that they are not modern, and that yet it would not be just to hold Tyndale responsible for them, since they may have been no more than an editor’s remarks, as it is obvious that some of the marginal notes in Day’s volume must have been.]