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(Originally Titled "The Learned Men": The Text Here Used Is That Of "The Learned Men")
Chapter 10: Private Fortunes
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Private Fortunes 

            On Eleventh and Twelfth Nights, 1606, just before the hanging of the gunpowder plotters, the Masque of Hymen by Ben Jonson cheered the wedding of Robert Devereux, Earl of Essex, and Lady Frances, daughter of the Earl of Suffolk. This Essex, son of the Essex “who lost his head, was a boy of fourteen and his bride was a girl of thirteen. Years later two of the translators had to do something further about the marriage.

            Now Lancelot Andrewes, while he translated, was in the thick of events, both gay and grave. By disposition and training it was easy for him to turn his thoughts from the divine to the secular, from the scholarly to the worldly. At Westminster he saw to the repair of the dean’s lodgings, and when he went to Chichester as bishop he repaired the palace. Often he was with the king at Newmarket for the horse racing and the bloodier sports. We may surmise that his sermons served to make the king less trying.

            As Bishop of Gloucester Thomas Ravis spent lavishly on social affairs, and it -^v-as said that he “in so short a time had gained the good liking of all sorts that some who could not brook the name of bishop were content to give (or rather to pay) him a good report.” He also constructed conduits to bring water into his bishop’s palace, built much of it anew, and improved the paving.

            As the progress and advancement of the translators continued Jeffrey King, of Andrewes’ Westminster Hebrew group, a fellow of King’s College, became royal professor of Hebrew at Cambridge.

            Bishop Barlow, the translator, had to officiate at a royal funeral. The Princess Sophia was born at Greenwich on June 22, 1606, and died the next day. A barge covered with black velvet conveyed her to the chapel royal at Westminster.

            Then, in February, 1607, another translator died – William Dakins, professor of divinity at Gresham College, London.

            And now the worst sling of fortune so far struck the learned men engaged on the Bible. Dr. John Rainolds, ill as he thought with the gout, had long received his fellow workers while living on a pallet in his study. On April 1, 1606, he had been sick enough to make his will. Now at last on May 21, 1607, he died, not of gout but of phthisis. “His last sickness,” one said, “was contracted merely [“merely” then meant “wholly”] by exceeding pains in study by which he brought his withered body to a very skeleton.” His death came only a bit over three years after the Hampton Court meeting at which he had proposed the new Bible.

            His will may be seen at Corpus Christi College, to which he gave a hundred of his books. To the Bodleian he gave forty books, and to other colleges, Queen’s, Mer-ton. New, University, Oriel, Exeter, Trinity, and Brasenose, he gave many more. One of his treasures was his Regia Bible in eight volumes. There was a special bequest of books to Sir Henry Savile, his austere fellow translator, the high churchman.

            To the one who would succeed him as head of Corpus Christi College he left his map of England, his linen and “woolen bedding and lesser household things, and his notebooks about the college. Though we may have thought of him as a man alone, he made bequests to his two brothers and to his sister. To two friends he gave his private notebooks, papers, letters, and writings, to make away with those which could do no good, and to publish only those lectures which he had finished.

            There are early letters from his friend and comrade in the translation, Ralph Hutchinson, who had died the year before. They show again how absorbed these men had always been in their Bible studies. Thus Hutchinson wrote of commentaries mentioned by one man, “The commentaries ... I can assure you to be mere empty names. For except those which are in the Venice Bible, let any man in Christendom show me so many as he speaketh of upon the book of Esther, and I dare make myself his bondman. And even for those in the Bomberg edition of the Bible, I know not whether Ezra and Salome be joined there or no in any of those editions which are his.” One problem of the learned men was to reject fakes made by pseudo scholars.

            The list of Rainolds’ possessions fills a long page. There were books valued at 774 pounds, 10 shillings, a large sum for those days. Maps of England, Europe, Asia, Africa, and America were worth 8 pounds, 8 shillings. His early map of America before Virginia or Plymouth was settled would be worth a good deal today.

            Among his other precious things were a silver bottle, a watch, a signet, a pair of bellows, some sugar and ginger (perhaps for use in his sickness), a penknife, wax papers, and clothes. He had gowns with hoods faced with velvet, twelve pairs of stockings, a rug and a blanket, twelve fine towels, two pairs of silk garters, a muff, some gloves, and other maybe stranger objects set down in writing too difficult to read. There is no surplice on the list, though he had conformed enough to wear one. In sum they were the simple, useful goods of an eminent but quiet, devout scholar, who lived in much more comfort than Elder William Brewster and other American Pilgrim fathers some decades later. At the end of his will Rainolds gently quoted, “Give none offence, neither to the Jews, nor to the Grecians [“Gentiles” in the King James version], nor to the church of God.”

            Corpus Christi College chose to succeed him as president John Spenser, a fellow translator of the Andrewes group, the preacher who had warned of how the Church as it prospers may become lax and corrupt. In the college statues the figure of Rainolds stands with a closed book, the Old Testament which he helped translate, and the figure of Spenser stands with an open book, the New Testament, on which he worked.

            May 22, 1607, the day after Dr. John Rainolds died, a masque by Ben Jonson was performed before the king at Theobalds. Like other Jonson masques, it played up to James. The final couplet was. 

So gentle winds breed happy springs,

And duty thrives by breath of kings. 

            On that day James obtained from the Earl of Salisbury, in exchange for the manor of Hatfield, the mansion of Theobalds in Hertfordshire, where he had often had good times. Built by the earl’s father, William Cecil, it had curious buildings, lovely walks, and pleasant conceits within and without. Nevertheless, it was said that the shrewd earl gained by the bargain with the canny, grasping James. 

            With Parliament, which was growing more Puritan, James was ever in conflict, much of the time about money. The king was spending more and more on the costly trappings of the state as well as for his public and private pleasures. A court case had at length given him the long-withheld right to levy customs duties as he pleased, since, as it said, all affairs of commerce belonged to the king’s power. While he delayed the levies, his debts grew. It was no wonder that he could pay his Bible translators only through the assignment of livings and minor incomes largely endowed.

            The early years of James’s reign, like the time of Elizabeth, saw many stirring ventures which would in due season help England to prosper. In 1607 a dozen rough, eager sea dogs, their captain among them, received the Lord’s Supper at St. Ethelburgh’s, Bishopsgate, London. The tiny shop of a glover was cooped up in its porch. Nearby were taverns, the Angel, the Four Swans, the Queen’s Head, and narrow, crooked alleys, such as those named Wormwood and Peahen. The rector was the Bible translator and Arabic scholar. Dr. William Bedwell, who was then hard at work also on his great Arabic lexicon. The captain with his seamen, about to set out on their voyage in the Hopewell to sail as they thought across the North Pole, was Henry Hudson.

            In and around London on December 8, 1607, a hard frost set in and lasted for seven days, to impede movement. After a partial thaw, the frost got worse on the twenty-second. The Thames “was so thickly covered with ice that it became the place for public fun. Coaches drove over the river as if it were dry land. Many set up booths and standings of sundry goods to sell upon the ice. On February 1 the ice at last began to break, the pressure breaking up many quaint wooden bridges, while flood waters destroyed much wild fowl. fish, and herbage in gardens, such as artichokes and rosemary. Only in April did the freezing cease. No doubt in London, then as now ill-equipped for winter temperatures near zero, the translators at Westminster could hardly hold their books, papers, and pens, unless they hovered close to fireplaces.

            The next year there were two more masques by Ben Jonson, the queen’s masque on January 14, 1608, and in February the masque at Lord Hadington’s marriage. There is no complaint of flimsy clothes at these. But iv-hen Queen Anne’s brother, the king of Denmark, came to England for a state visit, he found ladies of the court too drunk to dance. They needed but gave no heed to Biblical sermons about wine as a mocker and strong drink as raging.

            Teeming with commerce and population growth, London -was undergoing a sort of building racket. “The itch of building continuing in defiance of the laws in being and the late proclamation, his majesty, looking upon the great increase o£ building in and about London as a rickety distemper in the head of the kingdom, which occasions a flux of humors and diseases to approach the court, and might in time bring the plague to Whitehall, did with the advice of his council again strictly prohibit the erecting buildings upon new foundations within two miles of the city, upon penalty of having them destroyed.” Even the Westminster translators lived in fear of the plague, which many now supposed came partly from overcrowding and bad buildings. About how to dispose of sewage and other refuse people knew next to nothing.

            In 1608 there was some difficulty about making Dr. John Harding, the Oxford translation chairman, president of Magdalen College. Thus Dr. Arthur Lake wrote, February 24, 1608, to his elder brother, Sir Thomas Lake, the king’s secretary, “I have been to the Bishop of Winchester who will do his best to forward Dr. Harding, but there is a great conspiracy to exclude him.” The two Lakes wrote to the vice-president and fellows of Magdalen College in Dr. Harding’s behalf. At length Dr. Harding got the place, but lasted only a little over a year. Then Dr. Richard Kilby, another translator, replaced him.

            In December, 1608, William Eyre, Emmanuel College, Cambridge, who sounds as if he were a translator, wrote a letter to James Ussher in Dublin, Ireland.* (*Ussher was later to prepare a chronology of Biblical events found in the reference columns of many editions of the King James Bible.) Eyre mentioned the pestilence in Cambridge, which must have alarmed the translators there, and the illness of Scaliger, the famous scholar and traveler, “with a dropsy and not like to escape death.” Eyre asked that Ussher, because the new translation of the Bible was being hastened, return to him the copy of the part which he had lent to Ussher for a Dr. Daniel’s use. The letter shows that there was an order from the king through the Archbishop of Canterbury, Bancroft, that the translation of the Bible be “finished and printed.” That end was still a long way off.

            During this same year there escaped from England to Amsterdam some of those who were to become the Plymouth Pilgrims, among them Elder William Brewster, perhaps William Bradford, and pastor John Robinson, who never reached America. Brewster and Robinson had been in college with some of the translators. Robinson must have known well John Overall and Laurence Chaderton.

            The learned men kept on rising in their church world. On April 18, 1608, Arthur Lake, younger brother of the king’s secretary, became Dean of Worcester. A year later, May 27, 1609, George Abbot, the prosy, dogged translator, became Bishop of Lichfield and Coventry. On December 14 of that year died the stringent but sociable translator, Thomas Ravis, Bishop of London, who had been Dean of Christ Church. Before George Abbot could get used to Lichfield and Coventry, he became on February 12, 1610, Bishop of London, third in line from Richard Bancroft, who for six years had been Archbishop of Canterbury. All because Abbot’s mother caught and ate a young pike while she waited for his birth, his advance to glory was steady and sure.

            Meanwhile the king had many royal matters on his mind. He had to proclaim against “hunters, stealers, and killers of deer within any of the King’s Majesty’s forests, closes, or parks” at Hampton Court. Having built a new banquet house at Whitehall, he had celebrated with Jon-son’s Masque of Queens. Twelve women in the habits of hags and witches spoke such lines as, 

The owl is abroad, the bat and the toad

And so is the cat-a-mountain.

The ant and the mole sit both in a hole.

Old furies about witches had died down for a time; there had even been reprieves and pardons. In 1608 the Earl of Northampton as Warden of the Cinque Ports induced the Mayor of Rye to admit to bail a woman condemned to death for aiding a witch. Her hanging had been stayed; it was feared that she might succumb in the loathsome prison. That year also Simon Reade, a doctor and cunning man of Southwark, was pardoned after it was charged that he conjured and invoked unclean spirits. For the time being witches were more to amuse than to scare people.

            The magical East India Company, first chartered by Queen Elizabeth in 1600, now received from King James a charter without limit of time. These were years for and of brilliance. Captain John Smith was off in Virginia. Captain Henry Hudson was about to sail up the lordly river that glories in his name. James took his queen, Anne, and the children to the Tower to see a treat of the lion’s single valor against a great fierce bear which had killed another bear. So the romance and triviality of royal life went on while the translators slowly approached the end of their labors.

            Now we revert to the translator John Overall, Dean of St. Paul’s, who struggled with the profanations in Paul’s Walk. When he was more than forty he had married a great beauty, Anne Orwell. They seem to have got on together for a time. Isaac Casaubon, who stayed with the Overalls in the dean’s house, wrote letters mentioning Mrs. Overall in vague but kindly terms. At length of a sudden she ran away with a man named Sir John Selby. His name is all we know about him. Someone, or a number of men, chased the lovers along a road from London and brought the lady back to her husband. What the conflicts of the Overalls were or how the couple made out as they lived on in holy deadlock after the lady thus eloped and got caught we know not. Other wives of translators worried their husbands almost beyond bearing. Not all of the learned men profited by the advice of their fellow translator Francis Dillingham, who, though he never married, set forth how to keep a wife in proper subjection.

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