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    WRITTEN BY JOHN KNOX EDITED FOR POPULAR USE BY C. J. GUTHRIE, Q.C. With Notes, Summary, Glossary, Index, and Fifty-six Illustrations PREFACE PICTURE: Portrait of John Knox The History of the Reformation of Religion within the Realm of Scotland, written by John Knox between 1559 and 1571, forms the first two volumes of Dr. David Laing’s complete edition of Knox’s Works. That edition of the History—the result of a collation of imperfect manuscripts, and of the text of sixteenth and seventeenth century printed editions—can never be superseded. It is a monument of Dr. Laing’s learning, skill, and industry; and the notes with which the text is accompanied are models of temperate, accurate, and exhaustive statement.

    But Dr. Laing’s edition of the History, the only one now obtainable, is not fitted for popular use. Its length (two volumes, containing 1055 pages), its incorporation in a six-volume edition of Knox’s writings, its price, confine it to a limited circle of readers; and, in addition, its spelling is so archaic and irregular as to restrict its use to scholars. In Blackwood’s Magazine for March 1898, it was stated that, even in the libraries of two Scottish Universities, the pages of Dr. Laing’s edition of Knox’s Works were found uncut. In full knowledge of the merits of that edition Thomas Carlyle wrote: ‘Knox’s books, especially his History of the Reformation, if well read (which, unfortunately, is not possible for every one, and has grave preliminary difficulties for even a Scottish reader, still more for an English one), testify in parts of them to the finest qualities that belong to a human intellect; still more evidently to those of the moral, emotional, or sympathetic sort, or that concern the religious side of a man’s soul.IT IS REALLY A LOSS TO ENGLISH, AND EVEN TO UNIVERSAL, LITERATURE THAT KNOX’ S HASTY AND STRANGELY INTERESTING, IMPRESSIVE, AND PECULIAR BOOK, The History of the Reformation in Scotland , HAS NOT BEEN RENDERED FAR MORE EXTENSIVELY LEGIBLE TO SERIOUS MANKIND AT LARGE THAN IS HITHERTO THE CASE.’—(Essay on the Portraits of John Knox.) To supply the want thus indicated thirty years ago is the object of the present publication. Indeed, we look for a wider circle of readers than Mr.

    Carlyle contemplated. Even persons not accustomed to reckon themselves, or to be reckoned by their friends, among ‘serious mankind at large,’ will find in this volume an amount of human interest, of dramatic incident, and of homely humor, which the title might not lead them to anticipate. And, if not in their case, certainly in the case of many of those to whom Carlyle directly refers, perusal of this popular abridged version ought to induce study of the full text as it appears in Dr. Laing’s incomparable edition.

    No manuscript of the History in Knox’s handwriting exists; but what is known as the 1566 MS. (now in the possession of the University of Edinburgh) contains some marginal notes and corrections which Dr. Laing thought to be in Knox’s hand. ‘That manuscript, with the exception of certain portions added by various hands from other copies, is in the handwriting of John Gray, Clerk or Scribe to the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, who acted as Knox’s principal amanuensis. Dr. Laing generally adhered to the 1566 manuscript, although in some cases he preferred readings derived from what he calls the Glasgow manuscript, and from other sources.

    The work was not written by Knox in regular sequels, what are now the Second and Third Books having been written before what now forms the First Book. It was not revised, and no portion of it was published in the author’s lifetime. Contrary to his friends’ wishes, Knox adhered to the view expressed to John Wood, the Regent Moray’s Secretary, on 14th February 1568: — ‘Then’ (after his death) ‘it shall be in the opinion of others whether it shall be suppressed or come to light.’ Between the different manuscripts as well as between Vautrollier’s edition, printed in London in 1586, Buchanan’s editions, published in folio in London and in quarto in Edinburgh in 1644, and the excellent folio edition published in Edinburg by the Rev. Matthew Crawfurd in 1752, there are many and important differences. Vautrollier’s edition was altered in several passages so as not to offend Queen Elizabeth. For instance, Knox’s caustic statement that Her Majesty was ‘neither good Protestant nor yet resolute Papist!’ was omitted—but, notwithstanding, the whole issue was seized in London by order of the Archbishop of Canterbury before the printing was completed, and most of the twelve hundred copies were destroyed.

    Buchanan’s editions, which are full of suppressions, additions, and blunders, seem, from a statement by John Milton in his Areopagitica, to have come under the pruning-hook of the Crown revisers.

    I have generally followed Dr. Laing’s text, but in many cases I have preferred readings taken from manuscripts other than the manuscript—one being a manuscript of part of the Fourth Book unknown to Dr. Laing—or from the older printed editions, or from the originals of documents inaccurately copied by Knox’s amanuenses. There are passages which appear to be corrupt in all the manuscripts; these I have omitted. In other cases, what Dr. Laing calls ‘unintelligible nonsense’ (vol. 1. p. 233), as contained in one manuscript, becomes clear on reference to another. For example, in most of the manuscripts of the First Book the name ‘William Guthrie’ has been copied ‘within gathered’; and in Vautrollier’s edition, in a passage referring to David Rizzio, ‘his other villainy’ appears as ‘his other William’! No manuscript of the so-called Fifth Book of Knox’s History is extant, and I have not reproduced any part of that book.

    Although at one time doubted, the first four books are now universally ascribed to Knox; but it seems certain that little, if any, of what has been called the Fifth Book (which first appeared in David Buchanan’s editions, published in 1644) was written by Knox.

    In order to keep the present work within moderate compass, and at the same time to make it possible to include the most characteristic parts of the History, it has been found necessary to omit the whole of the Confession of Faith, most of the First Book of Discipline, and many speeches and sermons, letters and other documents what Sir William Stirling Maxwell described as ‘the wearisome and irrelevant sermons and State Papers which encumber Knox’s History ’ although, except in special instances, it has not been thought needful to distract the reader’s attention by noting the omissions. The narrative has also been abridged by the omission of repetitions and redundancies, as well as of long passages of minor interest; but care has been taken to give, so far as possible, the parts of the History which have been quoted or referred to in detail by historians and other writers, including Knox’s vivid account of his four interviews with Queen Mary at Holyrood and Lochleven, and his trial for High Treason.

    Throughout, following the practice now adopted in all editions of the Authorized Version of the Scriptures, the spelling has been modernized; but in other respects Knox’s characteristic English has been retained. In none of the previous editions not even in M‘Gavin’s modernized edition, published in 1831—were the books divided into chapters. This has now been done; and the long paragraphs of the original, frequently extending over many pages, have been sub-divided, and rubrics added; while, by mere change of punctuation, sentences which in previous editions occupied nearly a paragraph, have been broken up into sentences of ordinary length.

    Obsolete words used by Knox have been retained, and explanations of their meaning given in a Glossary, as well as, in some instances, in the text in italics. In certain places, marked in some cases by square brackets, words have been inserted in the text for identification of persons, places, or periods of time. It will thus be apparent that the book is not fitted for the use of those wishing exact quotation of the original. It is intended for popular readers, not for scholars. The notes consist mainly of extracts from Knox’s other writings or from the writings of his contemporaries. Some readers may be surprised to find how few Scots words are used by Knox, and how modern his style appears, once the superficial difficulties (caused by the irregular old spelling of his amanuenses and the long sentences) are removed; they must remember that Knox spent five years of his life in England as a clergyman of the Church of England, and other five years in France, Germany, and Switzerland, in the society of cultured Englishmen and Englishwomen. Ninian Wingate, his Scottish Roman Catholic opponent, made Knox’s English tongue a reproach to him: ‘Gif ye, throw curiositie of novationis, hes forzet our auld plaine Scottis, quhilk zour mother lerit zou, in times cuming I sail wrytt to zou my mynd in Latin, for I am nocht acquyntit with zour Southeroun!’ And Knox tells how, when it was reported to the Queen Regent, in 1556, that he had preached in Ayr, ‘diverse men were of diverse opinions, some affirming that it was an Englishman, and some supposing the contrary. A prelate, not of the least pride, said, “Nay, no Englishman; but it is Knox, that knave!”’ There is no reason to doubt that we have the History as Knox left it. His friends considered the propriety of modifying some parts before publication, as appears by a letter from George Buchanan to Thomas Randolph, the English envoy, dated 6th August 1572, three months before Knox’s death: ‘As to Master Knox, his History is in his friends’ hands, and they are in consultation to mitigate some part the acerbity of certain words and some taunts wherein he has followed too much some of your English writers.’ Judging by the appearance of the manuscripts, the consultation seems to have had no result, and these ‘words’ and ‘taunts’ have to be dealt with. Undoubtedly, there are passages and expressions in the History which, although in strict accord with the habits of speech of the time, and with the extravagant abuse which was hurled at Knox by his antagonists, are in striking contrast with the enlightened and humane views Knox generally enforced, and with the tenor of a life which effected a revolution so bloodless, that the Regent Moray, in his speech to the Scottish Parliament of 1567, was able to say, ‘The True Religion hath obtained a free course universally throughout the Realm, and yet not one Scotsman’s blood hath been shed.’ While condemning Knox’s language, the fault of ignorance or of prejudice will be ours if we cannot make allowance for the man who, great as he was, failed to shake off the intolerance in which the Church of Rome had educated him. Little wonder if he was unable to speak in duly measured phrase of the men and women and their Church whose ceaseless effort it was, by fair means and foul, to reimpose on Scotland the spiritual and intellectual bondage from which he had delivered it. Little wonder, too, if he was not always fair towards opponents in a struggle during which his own life had been several times attempted and he himself had been exiled, enslaved amidst the horrors of the French galleys for nineteen months, and condemned to the stake.

    During the present century, Knox’s career in Great Britain and on the Continent has been chronicled in the biographies of Dr. M‘Crie, published in 1811, and of Dr. Hume Brown, published in 1895, as well as in the shorter works of Dr. W. M. Taylor, of New York, Mrs. M‘Cunn, of Liverpool, and Mr. Taylor Innes, of Edinburgh. His character has been vindicated by Carlyle and by Froude. His influence on the Church of England has been proved by Dr. Lorimer in his Knox and the Church of England, and he forms one of the most striking figures in Mr. Swinburne’s tragedy of Bothwell. But the best estimate of Knox as a man, as a statesman, and as a churchman, is to be gathered from personal contact with him in his writings. Among these writings, none is more characteristic than the History of the Reformation of Religion within the Realm of Scotland.



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