The Life of JOHN STOW. xv

The Life of JOHN STOW.
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The Monument of M   The Monument of Mr. JOHN STOW ]

into divers Hands, out of the Monasteries and Religious Houses, where they had been, for the most part, diligently kept and preserved; and mostly written by the Monks that dwelt, and enjoyed their studious Retirements there.

He was also a diligent Transcriber of such ancient and useful Books, and which he could not obtain or Purchase, being of Esteem with him, or serving to his Purpose. Thus he transcribed Leland's Six Books of Collections, which turned very seasonably to his Profit, as was told before. Another Transcript of his was a Speech of Queen Elizabeth to her Parliament, 27. Eliz. Anno 1584. Which, with Stow's other Papers, coming afterwards into the Hands of Sir Simmons D' Ews, Bart. he presented to the World, in his Journal of Parliaments: Where he tells us, that it was written with Stow's own Hand; the Speech not being found in the Original Journal Book of the Upper House; and therefore he supplied it out of a Copy which he had by him, written by John Stow, the Chronicler, with his own Hand, being verbatim, as followed, &c.

Stow, a great Transcriber.

Journal of Parliaments, p. 328. b.

And as he had a good Library replenished with such Books, so he was a very good Judge of them; and was able to discourse critically concerning them. His Abilities this way may appear in Descriptions of ancient Writers, and Writings; being a little Tract (taken Notice of before) prefixed to his Summary of Chronicles, printed Anno 1573, which begins with Asserus Menevensis; of whom he giveth this Description: "A Man of great Holiness and Learning; who was sent for from Menevia, or St. Davids in Wales, by King Alfrede, and by him made Bishop of Sherbourne [the See] now called Salisbury. It is said, that King Alfrede erected the School or University of Oxeford: But this Asserus, writing purposely, diligently and honourably of all King Alfrede's Noble Acts, maketh no Mention of. Divers there be, and those ancient Writers, which attribute all to the English Church at Rome; which the late, without Consideration, do speak of Oxford. Asserus flourished in the Year after Christ's Birth, 890." Again,

A good Critick in ancient History.

"Alfredus Beverlacensis, Treasurer of the College of Beverly, a deep Philosopher, a diligent Historiographer, and notable Divine, brought up in the most ancient and famous University of Cambridg: He writ the Accidents of Time from the Beginning of the Britons, to the Year of Christ 1136, in the which he lived." Again,

"Adam Merimouth, a Prebendary of St. Paul's in London. He seeing the Want of Chronicles, and feeling the Necessity of them, laboured earnestly to commit things to Memory; and writ from the Year after Christ's Birth, 1320, unto the Year 1380, in the which he flourished." Further,

"Additiones Polychronicon were added by Thomas Walsingham, born in Norfolk; and after, a Monk at St. Albans. The Book called Polychronicon, was writ by Ranulphus Higden, a Monk of Chester. Thomas Walsingham's chief Delight was in the Collection of English Histories; wherein he hath left, to the prepetual registring of his Name, divers other Monuments of reverend Antiquity. He lived 1443." Again,

"Galfridus Monumetensis. His Chronicle of the Britons, is of some scornfully rejected; wherein they shew their great Unthankfulness, not to embrace him, who painfully, for their Behoof, playeth only the Part of an Interpreter: Little Wisdom, to condemn that which they cannot amend; or, if they can, not to consider the Time wherein he lived. The true History may, of a skilful Reader, be well discerned from the false: And many things in him that seem strange, are confirmed by the best Writers of all Ages. He lived 1158."

Again, he thus describeth Gulielmus Novoburgensis, "otherwise Guliel Petit, or Parvus; who, for his true dealing in Histories, is much commended of PolydoreVirgil: But it was an Italian Flourish, to put Galfridus Monumetensis out of Conceit; because he reporteth (which the Italian cannot abide) friendly and liberally of the Britons. His Chronicle is lately printed at Antwerp, both unhonestly and unperfectly, by the King's Printer, Will. Silvius: For, leaving out Doctor Turner's Preface, late Dean of Wells, he inserted his own; and left out also several Chapters which were in the Copy that Dr. Turner sent unto him. But it is well seen, that Novoburgensis was a good Divine, and diligent Historiographer, his untimely Preface being excepted. He lived 1200."

This is a Specimen large enough of Stow's Acquaintance with our ancient Authors; and of his critical Skill and Judgment of them.

He delighted in those that were inquisitive with him in antient History, and were truly learned therein. Their Conversation he used, and with them he loved to consort, or if he were not personally acquainted with them, he reverenced them, and was well acquainted with their Labours. But as for such as pretended to this sort of Learning, and presumed to set forth Histories in their own Names, when they were none of their own, but unskilfully borrowed from others, and withal betraying much Ignorance therein, he was a great Enemy to them.

A Consort with Antiquarians.

This made him not spare R.G. [that is, Richard Grafton,] but lash him, whensoever he came in his Way: being offended with him both for stealing from him and from others; and by abusing other Writers and falsifying them. He gave his Book the specious Title of A Chronicle at large of the Affairs of England, and the Kings of the same deduced from the Creation of the World, &c. Where first Stow noteth him for a great Mis-asserter of Authors, both in Latin, as Flores Historiarum, Polydore Virgil, and

R. G. an unskilful Pretender to History.