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historian, such dispassionate treatment is not to be expected from one upon whose garments is still the smell of fire.

Foxe might claim with Æneas to have himself been a portion of his record. The Reformation had no more convinced or stalwart champion. Born at Boston in 1516, distinguished in boyhood for a studious turn, and sent to Oxford by friends about 1532, he soon took his place among the members of the most advanced reforming party, and in


1545 resigned the fellowship which he had gained at Magdalen in 1539 on account of his indisposition to submit to celibacy, attend chapel regularly, or take orders. Five other fellows imitated his example. They were not, frequently stated, expelled, but, according to the record in the college register, ex honesta causa sponte recesserunt. As so frequently the case since, the exile for conscience' sake found a refuge in private tutorship. He appears to have been for a time in the house of the Lucys at Charlecote, where he instructed the young man destined to be carried to fame upon the pinions of Shakespeare, and married Agnes Randall, a domestic or dependant. Coming to London to push his fortune, he is represented by a probably apocryphal biography, attributed to his son, to have experienced great privations, but ultimately, in 1548, he gained the honourable post of tutor to the orphan children of the legally murdered Earl of Surrey, who had been executed in the previous year. Surrey's sister, the Duchess of Richmond, was a Protestant, and his father, as a prisoner in the Tower, was secluded from all control over his family. When released at the accession of Queen Mary, he immediately dismissed Foxe, who had, however, in the interval gained the affection of his pupils to such an extent that he continued to pay them clandestine visits, and their attachment was not dissolved even by the future Duke of Norfolk's participating in the unhappy conspiracy which brought him to the block in the days of Queen Elizabeth.


John Foxe

After the portrait in the National Portrait Gallery

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Foxe had meanwhile written several Protestant tracts in Latin and English, and received deacon's orders from Bishop Ridley, and shortly after Mary's accession found it advisable to withdraw to the Continent. He first abode at Strasburg, where he published in Latin the first book of his great work, chiefly devoted to the lives of Wycliffe and Huss. He removed to Frankfort, and after a while, finding his residence uncomfortable on account of the quarrels between the different parties among the Reformers, migrated to Basel, where he became a reader of the press in the office of the celebrated printer and publisher Oporinus. After producing an allegorical Latin drama, Christus Triumphans, and an appeal for toleration, addressed to the English Government, he set to work vigorously to complete his history of religious persecution. The portion dealing with England and Scotland, still in Latin, was published in 1559, under the title Rerum in ecclesia gestarum, maximarumque per Europam persecutionum commentarii. An account of the persecutions in other European countries was to have followed, but Foxe relinquished this part of the undertaking, and it was subsequently added by another hand.

For some time after his return, Foxe's chief care was the translation of his Latin history into English. The Acts and Monuments, as the vernacular version was entitled, was published on March 20, 1563, the same day as that on which the Latin continuation appeared at Basel. The book immediately gained celebrity, fame and authority under the popular title of The Book of Martyrs, yet no new edition was called for until 1570, when it received the imprimatur of the Church of England in the most unmistakable fashion by a resolution of Convocation that copies should be placed in cathedral churches and in the houses of the superior clergy. Foxe's private influence as an adviser upon religious matters became very great; beyond this he could not go, for although he had taken priest's orders, scruples as admirable in their disinterestedness as deplorable for their narrowness, kept him from accepting any other preferment than a prebend at Salisbury. The rest of his life was spent usefully and honourably over various literary and theological performances. He edited the Anglo-Saxon text of the Gospels and the regulations of the reformed Church of England, he preached against the Papal bull deposing Elizabeth, he vainly interceded on behalf of victims condemned to death for anabaptism. He died in April 1587, and was buried in St. Giles's, Cripplegate, the church where Milton also is interred.

The Book of Martyrs, as it always will be called, is so thoroughly identified in the popular mind with the persecutions undergone by the Church of England in the reign of Mary that few are aware that its real title is The Acts and Monuments, that it professes to record all persecutions since the foundation of Christianity, and that of the eight volumes which it occupies in Canon Townsend's edition less than two treat of the persecutions of Protestants. The greater part of the work, consequently, can be little else than a compilation, and this character is unfortunately almost as applicable to the transactions of Foxe's own times as to the dim traditions of the ages of Decius and Diocletian. Foxe, having been a fugitive at the height of the Marian

"The Book of Martyrs"

persecution, had no first-hand knowledge of the course of events, and was obliged to depend mainly upon the information transmitted to him from England. This was necessarily of unequal value, nor were the circumstances of the author himself such as to render him a nice or exacting critic of the materials submitted to him. He could not but write under the influence of intense indignation, and the more he found in his authorities to justify this feeling the better satisfied he was likely to be. This is but human nature; he could no more be expected to write with studious equity and balanced moderation than, as he said when defending himself from another charge, "to fine and mince my letters and comb my head and smooth myself all the day at the glass of Cicero." It is right to scrutinise his narratives in a critical spirit, but not to prefer charges of deliberate falsification against the narrator. With all its faults, The Book of Martyrs is the epic of the martyr age of the Church of England, the only such age that Church has known since the times of the Danes, whose atrocities fail to impress from the obscurity and imperfection of the record. The vexations suffered from the Puritans in the seventeenth century are far below the pitch of martyrdom, and were in a measure retaliatory in the Marian persecution, and in that only, English archbishops, bishops, and priests were burned at the instance of a foreign Church. There or nowhere will the epic be found of a Church which has never known a catastrophe, though scarcely a generation has passed without her being proclaimed to be in danger. Foxe's vigour and pathos are not unworthy of his mission; his work has gained by the use which he has made of the simple narratives of homely men. The following are characteristic examples.


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After two days, the sheriff and his company led Dr. Taylor towards Hadley; and coming within two miles of Hadley he desired to light off his horse, which done, he leaped, and set a frisk or twain, as men commonly do in dancing. Why, master doctor," quoth the sheriff, "how do you run?' He answered, "Well, God be praised, good master sheriff, never better for now I know 1 am almost at home. I lack not past two stiles to go over, and I am even at my Father's house. But, master sheriff," said he, shall we not go through Hadley?" "Yes," said the sheriff, you shall go through Hadley." Then," said he, "O good Lord! I thank thee, I shall yet once ere I die see my flock, whom thou, Lord, knowest I have most heartily loved, and truly taught. Good Lord bless them, and keep them steadfast in thy word and truth."

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When they were now come to Hadley, and came riding over the bridge, at the bridge-foot waited a poor man with five small children; who when he saw Dr. Taylor, he and his children fell down upon their knees, and held up their hands, and cried with a loud voice, and said, "O dear father and good shepherd Dr. Taylor, God help and succour thee, as thou has many a time succoured me and my poor children." Such witness had the servant of God of his virtuous and charitable alms given in his lifetime for God would the poor should testify of his good deeds, to his singular comfort, to the example of others, and confusion of his persecutors and tyrannous adversaries. So the sheriff and others that led him to death were wonderfully astonished at this: and the sheriff sore rebuked the poor man for so crying. The streets of Hadley were beset on both sides the way with men and women of the town and country who waited to see him; whom when they beheld so led to death, with weeping

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eyes and lamentable voices they cried, saying one to another, "Ah, good Lord! there goeth our good shepherd from us, who so faithfully hath taught us, so fatherly hath cared for us, and so godly hath governed us. O merciful God! what shall we poor scattered lambs do? What shall come of this most wicked world? Good Lord, strengthen him and comfort him," with such other most lamentable and piteous voices. Wherefore the people were sore rebuked by the sheriff and the catchpoles his men, that led him. And Dr. Taylor evermore

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said to the people, "I have preached to you God's word and truth, and am come this day to seal it with my blood."


A little before his death, certain there were of his familiar acquaintance and friends, who frequented his company more familiarly, who seemed not a little to be confirmed both by the example of his constancy and by his talk; yet notwithstanding, the same again, being feared with the sharpness of the punishment which he was going to, privily desired that in the midst of the flames, he would show them, if he could, some token whereby they might be the more certain whether the pain of such burning were so great that a man might not therein keep his mind quiet and patient. Which thing he promised them to do, and so, secretly between them, it was agreed that if the rage of the pain were tolerable and might be suffered, then he should lift up his hands

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