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It is affirmed, in the manuscript account already referred 0, that one Bible swarmed with six thousand faults ! Indeed, from another source we discover that “Sterne, a solid scholar, was the first who summed up the three thousand and six hundred faults that were in our printed Bibles of London."* If one book can be made to contain near four thousand errors, little ingenuity was required to reach to six thousand; but perhaps this is the first time so remarkable an incident in the history of literature has ever been chronicled. And that famous edition of the Vulgate, by Pope Sixtus the Fifth, a memorable book of blunders, which commands such high prices, ought now to fall in value, before the pearl Bible, in twenty-fours, of Messrs. Hills and Field!
Mr. Field and his worthy coadjutor seem to have carried the favour of the reigning powers over their opponents ; for I find a piece of their secret history. They engaged to pay 5001. per annum to some, “ whose names I forbear to mention," warily observes the manuscript writer; and above 1001. per annum to Mr. Marchmont Needham and his wife, out of the profits of the sales of their Bibles ; deriding, insulting, and triumphing over others, out of their confidence in their great friends and purse, as if they were lawless and free, both from offence and punishment. This Marchmont Needham is sufficiently notorious, and his secret history is probably true; for in a Mercurius Politicus of this unprincipled Cobbett of his day, I found an elaborate puff of an edition published by the annuity-granter to this worthy and his wife!
Not only had the Bible to suffer these indignities of size and price, but the Prayer-book was once printed in an illegible and worn-out type ; on which the printer being complained of, he stoutly replied, that "it was as good as the price afforded; and being a book which all persons ought to have by heart, it was no matter whether it was read or not, so that it was worn out in their hands.” The puritans seem not to have been so nice about the source of purity itself.
These hand-bibles of the sectarists, with their six thousand errata, like the false Duessa, covered their crafty deformity with a fair raiment ; for when the great Selden, in the assembly of divines, delighted to confute them in their own * G. Garrard's Letter to the Earl of Strafford, vol. i. p. 208.
f Harl. MS. 7580.
learning, he would say, as Whitelock reports, when they had cited a text to prove their assertion, “ Perhaps in your little pocket-bible with gilt leaves,” which they would often pull out and read, “the translation may be so, but the Greek or the Hebrew signifies this.”
While these transactions were occurring, it appears that the authentic translation of the Bible, such as we now have it, by the learned translators in James the First's time, was suffered to lie neglected. The copies of the original manuscript were in the possession of two of the king's printers, who, from cowardice, consent, and connivance, suppressed the publication ; considering that the Bible full of errata, and often, probably, accommodated to the notions of certain sectarists, was inore valuable than one authenticated by the hierarchy! Such was the state of the English Bible till 1660!*
The proverbial expression of chapter and verse seems peculiar to ourselves, and, I suspect, originated in the puritanic period, probably just before the civil wars under Charles the First, from the frequent use of appealing to the Bible on the most frivolous occasions, practised by those whom South calls “those mighty men at chapter and verse.” With a sort of religious coquetry, they were vain of perpetually opening their gilt pocket Bibles; they perked them up with such self-sufficiency and perfect ignorance of the original, that the learned Selden found considerable amusement in going to their “ assembly of divines," and puzzling or confuting them, as we have noticed. A ludicrous anecdote on one of these occasions is given by a contemporary, which shows how admirably that learned man amused himself with this “ assembly of divines !” They were discussing the distance between Jerusalem and Jericho, with a perfect ignorance of sacred or of ancient geography; one said it was twenty miles, another ten, and at last it was concluded to be only seven, for this strange reason, that fish was brought from Jericho to Jerusalem market! Selden observed, that "possibly the fish in question was salted,” and silenced these acute disputants.
It would probably have greatly discomposed these “chapter and verse” men to have informed them that the Scriptures had neither chapter nor verse! It is by no means clear how
* See the London Printers' Lamentation on the Press Oppressed. Harl. Coll. iii. 280.
the holy writings were anciently divided, and still less how quoted or referred to. The honour of the invention of the present arrangement of the Scriptures is ascribed to Robert Stephens, by his son, in the preface to his Concordance, a task which he performed during a journey on horseback from Paris to London, in 1551; and whether it was done as Yorick would in his Shandean manner lounging on his mule, or at his intermediate baits, he has received all possible thanks for this employment of his time. Two years afterwards he concluded with the Bible. But that the honour of
invention may be disputed, Sanctus Pagninus's Bible, printed at Lyons in 1527, seems to have led the way to these convenient divisions ; Stephens, however, improved on Pagninus's mode of paragraphical marks and marginal verses; and our present “ chapter and verse," more numerous and more commodiously numbered, were the project of this learned printer, to recommend his edition of the Bible ; trade and learning were once combined! Whether in this arrangement any disturbance of the continuity of the text has followed, is a subject not fitted for my inquiry.
VIEW OF A PARTICULAR PERIOD OF THE STATE OF
RELIGION IN OUR CIVIL WARS.
LOOKING over the manuscript diary of Sir Symonds D'Ewes, I was struck by a picture of the domestic religious life which at that period was prevalent among families. Sir Symonds was a sober antiquary, heated with no fanaticism, yet I discovered in his diary that he was a visionary in his constitution, macerating his body by private fasts, and spiritualising in search of secret signs. These ascetic penances were afterwards succeeded in the nation by an era of hypocritical sanctity; and we may trace this last stage of insanity and of immorality closing with impiety. This would be a dreadful picture of religion, if for a moment we supposed that it were religion ; that consolatory power which has its source in our feelings, and according to the derivation of its expressive term, binds men together. With us it was sectarism, whose origin and causes we shall not now touch on, which broke out into so many monstrous shapes, when every pretended reformer was guided by his own peculiar fancies : we have lived to prove that folly and wickedness are rarely obsolete. VOL. III.
The age of Sir Symonds D'Ewes, who lived through the times of Charles the First, was religious; for the character of this monarch had all the seriousness and piety not found in the bonhomie and careless indecorums of his father, whose manners of the Scottish court were moulded on the gaieties of the French, from the ancient intercourse of the French and Scottish governments. But this religious age of Charles the First presents a strange contrast with the licentiousness which subsequently prevailed among the people: there seems to be a secret connexion between a religious and an irreligious period: the levity of popular feeling is driven to and fro by its reaction; when man has been once taught to contemn his mere humanity, his abstract fancies open a secret bye-path to his presumed salvation; he wanders till he is lost-he trembles till he dotes in melancholy-—he raves till truth itself is no longer immutable. The transition to a very opposite state is equally rapid and vehement. Such is the history of man when his religion is founded on misdirected feelings; and such, too, is the reaction so constantly operating in all human affairs.
The writer of this diary did not belong to those nonconformists who arranged themselves in hostility to the established religion and political government of our country. A private gentleman and a phlegmatic antiquary, Sir Symonds withal was a zealous Church of England protestant. Yet amidst the mystical allusions of an age of religious controversies, we see these close in the scenes we are about to open, and find this quiet gentleman tormenting himself and his lady by watching for “certain evident marks and signs of an assurance for a better life,” with I know not how many distinct sorts of “ Graces."
I give an extract from the manuscript diary :
“I spent this day chiefly in private fasting, prayer, and other religious exercises. This was the first time that I ever practised this duty, having always before declined it, by reason of the papists' superstitious abuses of it. I had partaken formerly of public fasts, but never knew the use and benefit of the same duty performed alone in secret, or with others of mine own family in private. In these particulars, I had my knowledge much enlarged by the religious converse I enjoyed at Albury Lodge, for there also I shortly after entered upon framing an evidence of marks and signs for my assurance of a better life.
"I found much benefit of my secret fasting, from a learned discourse on fasting by Mr. Henry Mason, and observed his rule, that Christians ought to sit sometimes apart for their ordinary humiliation and fasting, and so intend to continue the same course as long as my health will permit me.
Yet did I vary the times and duration of my fasting. At first, before I had finished the marks and signs of my assurance of a better life, which scrutiny and search cost me some three-score days of fasting, I performed it sometimes twice in the space of five weeks, then once each month, or a little sooner or later, and then also I sometimes ended the duties of the day, and took some little food about three of the clock in the afternoon. But for divers years last past, I constantly abstained from all food the whole day. I fasted till supper-time, about six in the evening, and spent ordinarily about eight or nine hours in the performance of religious duties ; one part of which was prayer and confession of sins, to which end I wrote down a catalogue of all my known sins, orderly. These were all sins of infirmity; for, through God's grace, I was so far from allowing myself in the practice and commission of any actual sin, as I durst not take upon me any controversial sins, as usury, carding, dicing, mixt dancing, and the like, because I was in mine own judgment persuaded they were unlawful. Till I had finished my assurance first in English and afterwards in Latin, with a large and an elaborate preface in Latin also to it ; I spent a great part of the day at that work, &c.
Saturday, December 1, 1627, I devoted to my usual course of secret fasting, and drew divers signs of my assurance of a better life from the grace of repentance, having before gone through the graces of knowledge, faith, hope, love, zeal, patience, humility, and joy ; and drawing several marks from them on like days of humiliation for the greater part. My dear wife beginning also to draw most certain signs of her own future happiness after death from several graces.
**January 19, 1628.-Saturday I spent in secret humiliation and fastings, and finished my whole assurance to a better life, consisting of THREE SCORE and FOUR SIGNS, or marks drawn from several graces. I made some small alterations in the signs afterwards ; and when I turned them into the Latin tongue, I enriched the margent with further proofs and authorities. I found much comfort and reposedness of spirit from them, which shows the devilish sophisms of the papists, anabaptists, and pseudo-Lutherans, and profane atheistical men, who say that assurance brings forth presumption, and a careless wicked life. True, when men pretend to the end, and not use the means.
“My wife joined with me in a private day of fasting, and drew several signs and marks by my help and assistance, for her assurance to a better life.”
This was an era of religious diaries, particularly among the nonconformists; but they were, as we see, used by others. Of the Countess of Warwick, who died in 1678, we are told that “she kept a diary, and took counsel with two persons, whom she called her soul's friends.” She called prayers heart's ease, for such she found them. " Her own lord, knowing her hours of prayers, once conveyed a godly minister into a secret place within hearing, who, being a man very able to judge, much admired her humble fervency; for in praying she prayed aloud; but when she did not with an audible voice, her sighs and groans might be heard at a good distance from the closet." We are not surprised to discover this