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(Originally Titled "The Learned Men": The Text Here Used Is That Of "The Learned Men")
Chapter 6: The Cambridge Groups
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The Cambridge Qroups 

            At Cambridge the Hebrew group had as chairman Edward Lively, the father of thirteen children, whose weal and woe we have discussed. The others were John Richardson, Laurence Chaderton, Francis Dillingham, Thomas Harrison, Roger Andrewes, brother of Lancelot, Robert Spalding, and Andrew Bing. This group dealt with the books from I Chronicles through Ecclesiastes. To it, therefore, we are indebted for the Psalms.

            Cambridge had given its degree to Christopher Marlowe, the free-thinking dramatist said to have been a “scorner of God’s word,” to whom “Moses was but a juggler,” Protestants “hypocritical asses.” Men, he said, most needed “not to be afraid of Bugbears.” Other famous Cantabrigians of the era were Francis Bacon, Edmund Spenser, Thomas Campion, John Fletcher, Robert Greene, Thomas Lodge, and Thomas Nash, whom Cambridge expelled. Their lyrics fill the books of Elizabethan verse.

            Campion’s “Cherry Ripe” begins: 

There is a garden in her face

Where roses and white lilies blow.

Yet he could write also sacred verses still read today: 

Never weather beaten sail more willing bent to shore.

Never tired pilgrim’s limbs affected slumber more,

Than my wearied spirit now longs to fly out of my troubled breast;

O come quickly, sweetest Lord, and take my soul to rest!

One of Thomas Lodge’s famous lyrics begins: 

Like to the clear in highest sphere

Where all imperial glory shines,

Of selfsame color is her hair,

Whether unfolded or in twines.

Heigh ho, fair Rosaline . . .

Heigh ho, would she were mine.

            The love poems of the Song of Songs, which this Cambridge group put into English, are far more lush and concrete.

            The poetry of the Bible has no rhymes, but is what we might call free verse, with balanced lines, mainly in couplets. Thus in Psalm 23 Cambridge gave us: 

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life.

And I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.

The Geneva Bible read:  

Doubtless kindness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life.

And I shall remain a long season in the house of the Lord.

Compare likewise the King James Bible’s, 

I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills.

From whence cometh my help,

with the Geneva Bible’s, 

I will lift mine eyes unto the mountains.

From whence my help shall come.

            The Cambridge Hebrew group had a goodly knack with English words and sounds.

One fact that stands out about John Richardson of Cambridge is that he was fat. Those of another persuasion called him a “fat bellied Arminian.” As such he might have fought with Laurence Chaderton, the Puritan, but there is no record of conflict. These scholars bore and forebore. Thin, acrid men alone could hardly have done over the Bible to suit the fully fed.

            John Richardson was born at Linton, seven miles from Cambridge, about 1564, The place and the date attest once more that these learned men were nearly all youngish or of middle age, and came from the regions about London, Oxford, and Cambridge. They were a cross section, not of the English people or even of the English clergy, but of the scholars who happened to be at hand for the venture. Richardson went to Clare Hall, Cambridge, where he must have known well Richard Thom-son, “Dutch” Thomson, the other Arminian, with the reputation for drink. In 1595 he became rector of Upwell, Norfolk, and two years later was a doctor of divinity. A foremost Hebraist, he was also a popular theologian. He seems to have been one of those fat men whom most people like.

            Francis Dillingham was born at Deane, Bedfordshire, went to Christ’s College, Cambridge, and was a good linguist. Though he never married, he believed strongly in marriage for other clerics, and wrote much on a subject then the theme of argument in the English Church. In 1603 just before he started work on the Bible, he published A Quartron of Reasons, Composed by Dr. Hill,, Unquartered, and Proved a Quartron of Follies. Dr. Hill had railed against Protestant ministers “being so much occupied about wooing, wenching, and wiving, taking upon them to be doctors of divinity and husbands too.” Dillingham countered: “Papists teach that ministers may not have wives. Is this catholic? Many hundred years after Christ priests had wives.”

            Queen Elizabeth had allowed the clergy of the English Church to marry. However fellows of the colleges, if they married, still were required to resign. Dillingham felt he had a message for those who fell into troublous thoughts about marriage. So he published A Golden Key Opening the Lock to Eternal Happiness. It is an earnest of the guides to good thinking, to peace of mind, soul and body, in our day. To be happy a man should simply keep his wife subject unto him.

            “It is a principle in nature,” Dillingham wrote: “marry with thy equals. By . . . unequal marriages, how many men have become subject to their wives? . . . May not men nowadays see wives on horses, and husbands walking as servants on the ground?” No Englishman with self-respect should stand that.

            “That a man may obtain a wife that will be in subjection unto him,” he went on, “he must choose a prudent and wise wife, for prudence and wisdom respecteth persons, place, and manner of doing a thing. . , . Prudence teacheth the wife that her husband is her head, and so subjecteth her self unto him. No marvel then though many men have not their wives in subjection, for they have married fools which know not their place. ... A wise woman, saith Solomon . . . buildeth the house, but the foolish destroyeth it with her own hands.” The King James version (Proverbs 14:1) says: “Every wise woman buildeth her house, but the foolish plucketh it down with her hands.”

            Dillingham went on: “He that will have a wife in subjection, let him match with a religious woman, for religion teacheth her subjection. Be not unequally yoked, saith St, Paul, II Corinthians 6:14, with infidels.” (The King James Bible says, “yoked together with unbelievers.”) “A man of religion,” said Dillingham, “that matcheth with an irreligious woman is unequally matched, and therefore his yoke needs be heavy. A house divided cannot stand. How should that house then stand where man and wife are divided, one drawing this way, another that way? . . . The misery of this age is that . . . men inquire after wealth, not after religion in a woman. Hence it is that some live discontentedly, and come in the end to great misery,”

            This was all sound advice from a young, wifeless man, who knew nothing of our modern equal rights for women. The viewpoint of Dillingham is often close to that of the Proverbs and Ecclesiastes which he helped to translate. What he himself published is wholly in accord with the male nature of the Bible and with the thought of his own age. Though Dillingham doubtless hoped his sermons would change the ways of love, unwise, luckless men have gone on wooing and wiving foolish females to this day.

            Though he argued in print with high churchmen, it would be wrong to think of Dillingham as a Puritan, for he conformed strictly to the Church of England. He was a typical Elizabethan except that he never indulged in profane love.

            Thomas Harrison, who was indeed a Puritan, was born in London in 1555, and went to the Merchant Tailors’ school, where he was second in learning only to Lancelot Andrewes. A graduate of St. John’s College, and Master of Trinity College, Cambridge, he had exquisite skill in Hebrew and Greek idiom. The renowned Dr. Whittaker, for the excellence of his verses, called Harrison his poet. Such a man would have been of much service in the work on the Psalms. There was at least one poet among the translators, though none of his poems have survived.

            Andrew Bing was a tall, smiling young man. Born in Cambridge in 1574, he went to Peterhouse, and then became professor of Hebrew in Trinity College, Cambridge. Later he was subdean of York for many years. Only thirty when King James chose him to work on the Bible, he outlived nearly all his fellow workers.

            The New Testament group at Cambridge, headed by John Duport, included William Branthwaite, Jeremy Radcliffe, Samuel Ward, Andrew Downes, John Bois,* (*Often spelled Boys and evidently so Anglicized in pronunciation.) and a second man named Ward, Robert. It translated the Apocrypha, and in the long run might have seemed inconsequential, except that one of its members, John Bois, was a man fully worth knowing, who played an important part in the final revision of the entire Bible.

            John Duport, son of Thomas Duport, Shepshed, Leicestershire, was a fellow of Jesus College, Cambridge, and then master. He earned his doctorate in divinity in 1590, and in 1595 became precentor of St. Paul’s. His wife, doubtless well subject to him if his colleague Dillingham spoke for him, was Rachel, daughter of Richard Cox, Bishop of Ely. By her he had two sons, one of whom was also a noted scholar. Dr. Duport was a learned man of high standing in England.

            William Branthwaite took his B.A. at Clare Hall, Cambridge, in 1582, and his D.D. at Emmanuel College in 1598. He was Master of Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge. An extant letter from Branthwaite to Sir Thomas Wilson, who had the ear of a lordly patron, begins with concern for the health of the recipient, Branthwaite wished that “my letters might bear bezoar or unicorn or some other more sovereign cordial either to cure your malady or to comfort against the fits and encounters thereof.” Bezoar stone was a sort of charm against poisons, and though there are none of these stones in the Bible, they were, as Branthwaite shows, in the thought of the age. The mythical unicorn is found in nine Bible verses. Its horn, if one could have got it, would have been used to cast out poisons; the practice of doctors in those days was still largely magic.

            “There be three physicians,” Branthwaite went on, “which the state of your body (if I mistake not) requires should always attend you and they are as good fellows and friends as physicians ... Dr. diet, quiet, and merry man. . . . Under diet I also comprehend those other things which the art and language of physicians express thereby as change of air, moderate exercise, and proportionable sleep, and the rest. For the first methinks it should be very convenient for you both to refresh spirits and to confirm and continue health, especially some little remove out of London now and then in the hot months of July and August. . . . Many times it falleth out that a strong mind endangereth a weak body.” In this letter Branthwaite was seeking an advance for himself and aid for his college, in the best fawning manner of scholars of the time.

            Samuel Ward, son of John, of Durham, was a timid young Puritan, early intent on putting down his own sins. He was born in 1577, went to St. John’s College, Cambridge, and was fellow at Sidney Sussex College in 1599. In 1603 he was town preacher at St. Mary’s le Tower in Ipswich. The next year he married Deborah Bolton, a widow, of Isleham, Cambridgeshire. At college he kept a diary, still extant, which reminds us a bit of the young Boswell. Apparently he was the youngest of the translators.

            On May 13, 1595, in his diary he condemned himself for “My desire of preferment over much.” Often he addressed himself in the second person. Thus that same day he wrote, “Thy wandering regard in the chapel at prayer time.” May 17, “Thy gluttony the night before.” May 23, “My sleeping without remembering my last thought, which should have been of God.” May 26, “Thy dullness this day in hearing God’s word . , . thy sin of pride . . . thy by-thoughts at prayer time same evening.” June 14, “My negligence ... in sleeping immediately after dinner . . . in hearing another sermon sluggishly.” June 12, “My too much drinking after supper.” June 22, “My immoderate

diet of eating cheese.” June 27, “My going to drink wine, and that in the tavern, before I called upon God.” July 8, “My immoderate laughter in the hall.” July 15, “My incontinent thoughts at Hobson’s.”

            The next year young Ward wrote, July 19, 1596, “My gluttony in eating plums and raisins and drinking so much after supper.” July 23, “For eating so many plums, although thou heard that many died of surfeits.” August 6, “My longing after damsons when I made my vow not to eat in the orchard.” August 13, “My intemperate eating of damsons, also my intemperate eating of cheese after supper.” August 21, “My long sleeping in the morning.”

            As an eater of damson plums and cheese he may endear himself to many of us, as well as for his sluggish hearing of sermons. This young would-be divine was human and loving, without any really mortal sins. Of him one said, “He was a Moses not only for slowness of speech [he stuttered] but otherwise meekness of nature.”

            At the time he began work on the Bible, he sadly told himself in his diary: “Remember, on Wednesday January 18th was the day when the surplice was first urged by the archbishop to be brought into Emmanuel College. God grant that worse things do not follow the so strict urging of this indifferent ceremony. Alas, we little expected that King James would have been the first permitter of it to be brought into our college to make us a derision to so many that bear us no good will.” Doddridge said of Samuel Ward, “His language is generally proper, elegant, and nervous,” with a mixture of fancy in his writings.

            From him we get glimpses of the unsure status of many of the clergy. They were often shaken men amid shaking forces. The Bible task was solid, while the churches swayed with fears as the winds of clashing doctrines swept around them.

            The vigor and daring that young Samuel Ward lacked, Andrew Downes possessed. He appears to have been the only one of the learned men who got any money out of King James. He was born about 1549, and went to grammar school in Shrewsbury. At St. John’s College, Cambridge, Downes was distinguished for his Greek scholarship. One who heard his lectures on Demosthenes said that he was ushered into the presence of a tall, long-faced, elderly person with ruddy complexion and bright eyes, who sat with his legs on the table. Downes at once gave his long, learned talk without stirring his feet or body. He was one of the few who quarreled with his fellows. He was sure of himself.

            John Bois (or Boys) was in some ways the most vivid of the translators. At any rate we have more about his private life and his ways of doing than we have of others. His grandfather, also John, was a clothier of Halifax, Yorkshire. The son, William, father of our John, was born and brought up there, studied music and surgery, went to Cambridge, and thought of the Church until he broke with Rome. Then he settled on a farm at Nettlestead near Hadley; until, on joining the Church of England, he became rector at West Stow. He married Mirabel Pooley.

            John Bois the translator was born January 3, 1560. His father taught him Hebrew when he was five years old. Later, John walked four miles a day to school at Hadley, where he knew John Overall, the future Dean of St. Paul’s, and likewise a translator. At length he went to St. John’s College, Cambridge, where Andrew Downes, the chief lecturer in Greek, read to his students twelve of the hardest Greek authors.

When Bois was chosen a fellow of Magdalene, he was lying ill of smallpox. Because Downes was careful for the new fellow’s seniority, he had Bois carried on his sickbed, wrapped in blankets, to be entered. Bois had meant to study physic and had bought many books “in that faculty.” He went to the university library at four in the morning and stayed until eight at night without any breaks. In reading the books on physic, “He was conceited that whatsoever disease he read of, he was troubled with the same himself. By which sickness of the brain it pleased God to cure the church of the want of so good a member as he afterwards proved,” For ten years Bois was chief Greek lecturer in the college, reading his lecture in his chamber at four in the morning to many fellows and others.

            He succeeded his father as rector at West Stow in 1591, but resigned that living when his mother went to live with her brother Pooley. Up to this time John seems to have been his mother’s boy, married to his thoughts, but romance was thrust upon him. A Mr. Holt, rector of Box-worth near Cambridge, when about to die left the advowson, or right of presentation, to that living “in part of a portion” to one of his daughters. He asked some of his friends that, “if it might be by them procured,” Bois “might become his successor by the marriage of his daughter.” Bois went to look her over and soon after, “they taking liking each of the other,” he received the living, and was “instituted by my lord’s grace of Canterbury,” who was then Whitgift. The marriage often vexed his spirit, but at thirty-six Bois was old enough to know his own mind.

            Before he was married, “that he might be as well clear of the suspicion as the fault of having a wife and a fellowship at once, he desired three fellows of his own college to publish the banns on matrimony on three Sundays in his own parish church.” The college, when he had to resign as fellow, gave him a hundred pounds.

            Though for some years he had a rupture, Bois was robust. An early biographer described him as having an “able, active body for walking, riding, and, in his youth, for swimming.” Often he walked out of his college in the morning to dine with his mother in Suffolk twenty miles away. While walking he took a book to read, if he fell into company he liked not. On horseback he used by the way to meditate on doubts, wherein he might, propounding them, require satisfaction of his learned friends in Cambridge. There is a legend, too, that he did some of the Bible work on horseback. Amid all this study he found time to beget four sons and two daughters.

            When he began to know his neighbors in the country, they met Friday afternoons to discuss and resolve their scholarly doubts. As a husband and father, he kept some young scholar in his house as well for the teaching of his own children and the poorer sorts of the town people, also “because many knights and gentlemen of quality did importune him to take their children to board with him and to take some care in their training, as well for learning as manners.” Thus Bois was the only translator who took in boarders.

            “But as by this means the scale of his living was sunk daily lower by the greatness of the weight, so that of his estate was by the emptiness become a very unequal counterpoise. For he, minding nothing but his book, and his wife, through want of age and experience, not being able sufficiently to manage things aright, he was, ere he was aware, fallen into debt. The weight whereof (though it was not great) when he began to feel, he forthwith parted with his darling (I mean his library) which he sold (considering what it cost him) I believe to nigh as much loss as his debt amounted to, for the discharge whereof he sold it.”

            Never able to keep his wife subject to him, as Francis Dillingham had advised, perhaps he thought often of Paul’s letter to Timothy: “Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection.” Paul also declared that if a woman will learn anything, let her ask her husband at home. Clearly Mrs. Bois was a thorn in her husband’s flesh.

            “There grew some discontent betwixt him and his wife, insomuch that I have heard (but never from himself) that he did once intend to travel beyond the seas. But religion and conscience soon gave those thoughts the check, and made it be with him and his wife as chirurgeons say it’s with a broken bone: if once well set, the stronger for a fracture.” So after this strain or fracture he went on letting his wife handle the money as before.

            A most exact grammarian, Bois had read sixty grammars. He had only two meals, dinner and supper, betwixt which he never so much as drank, unless, upon trouble with wind, some small quantity of acqua vitae (brandy?) and sugar. After meat he was careful almost to curiosity in picking and rubbing his teeth, esteeming that a special preservative to health, by which means he carried to his grave almost a Hebrew alphabet of teeth. Then he used to sit or walk an hour or more to digest his meat before he would go to his study. He fasted sometimes twice a week, or once in three weeks. Later he never studied between supper and bed, but spent two hours at least with friends, hearing and telling harmless delightful stories whereof he was exceedingly full. He studied standing, except when he eased himself upon his knees; but he never studied in the draft from a window, and never went to bed with cold feet.

            Respectful of superiors, he was loving of equals, familiar with inferiors, though humility made him think not many below himself. He gave and forgave, being hospitable to strangers, real to friends, a just keeper of his promises. Prudently he refrained from meddling in other men’s matters. A most careful, affectionate father, if displeased he denied the children his blessing morning and evening when they requested it, sometimes on two days for reasons best known to himself. As a most loving husband he had suffered, but he still committed the whole government of the house to his wife, never encroaching upon the woman’s part in economic discipline.

            In his piety he always knelt with his family on bare bricks. Often he prayed while he was walking, for he approved of frequent, rather long prayers. A most diligent, attentive hearer of sermons, he endeavored when he preached to be rightly understood even of his meanest auditors.

            There we have a sketch of a devout Bible-maker, with his virtues and his crotchets, his wind and his firmness, his liking for details, and his reserves of strength. Through all his household straits, about his wife, about money, about all sorts of junctures, he prepared himself to forward the Bible in English, for the Bible takes up those troubles and affords comfort to the distraught. These learned men were more than aloof, cloistered saints. Though versed in tongues, they were also just folks.

            The six groups formed a kind of loose congress or council, meeting in the three places, Westminster, Oxford, and Cambridge. All were staunchly against the papists, but being all against something is not enough to unite people; they must unite in being for something real to them. These learned men were for a fresh Bible, and as scholars they were also for Hebrew, Greek, and English, for a working union of tongues. Sometimes jealous of each other, in the manner of scholars at all times, they kept their conflicts subject to their basic aims, which were broadly at one. And though they brought to the project varied points of view, they ultimately had to choose.

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