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panegyric are best directed to living objects. This silence, however, far better than ill-judged flattery, has left space

for fact and truth. Let it now therefore be told, without offence, that his peculiarities were great, and his prejudices

strong ; he had a clear understanding and a tenacious memory, which, after his return from Italy, were devoted principally

to the study of English History and Antiquities. Inheriting a fine estate, and having never married, he became, through

the ardour of this pursuit, an hermit in a palace ; for such was his house at Whitley. At his other mansion of Little

Mitton, in which he took great delight, he was wont to say, that he contended with the owls for possession. His

apartments were not merely strewed, but piled, with books and papers of his own transcribing. No man living had

taken the same pains with Dodsworth's MSS. or was so well qualified to make an Index to that confused but valuable

collection. As a Magistrate, he was skilful a iid upright, but very irascible, and altogether irreconcilable to everything

which he thought improper in the conduct of his brethren. He was a warm and faithful friend, and more especially

u literary friend ; but subject to fits of resentment, which, if he thought well of the objects of them on the whole, were

easily appeased. To his indigent acquaintance the large sums which he professed to lend were eventually given.

His liberality to his immediate relatives knew no bounds but the extent of his means, and scarcely even that. With

an income of little less than 10,000/. per annum and no personal expense (for he was remarkably inattentive both to his

own comforts and to external appearance), his estate was left somewhat in debt. He had all the pride of ancient

descent, and with it an high sense of honour j which, together with his good understanding, would not permit him to be

either duped or flattered by the ascription of alliances to which he had no claim. He knew and despised all the tricks

of pedigree-mongers, and when some herald, whom he employed to marshal the bearings of his family, had officiously

inserted that of the Viscounts and Barons Beaumont, he struck the quartering out with his own hand, saying to the

writer of the present article, ' These are honourable bearings, but they belong not to me.' [There is a large folio

plate of the arras and quarterings, the latter twenty-eight in number, of Beaumont of Whitley Beaumont, in the History

of Leeds, p. 338.] His eye, when an object could be brought within its short focus, was perfectly microscopical; and

he was perhaps the best reader of ancient charters in his time. For the same reason he was an excellent judge of forgeries.

Such were the mixed qualities, such the head and heart, of this singular man, delineated at a distance of time sufficient

to allow the first feelings of surviving friendship to cool ; without partiality therefore, but not without affection. He

died November 22, 1810, aged 61, and was interred in the family chapel within the church of Kirk Heaton."


I have judged it not inappropriate to transplant this from the Preface to the History of Craven, where few

would think of looking for it, to the present place, after having in vol. ii. p. 25 of the present volume extracted the

slighter tribute to the memory of Mr. Beaumont which I found under Whitley in the Loidis and Elmete. (J. G. N.)

THOMAS DUNHAM WHITAKER. xxxvii


.
Whilst inquiring into the History of Lonsdale, the attention of Dr. Whitaker was

directed to the works of Archbishop Sandys, a native of Hawkshead in Furness, which led

him to re-edit, in 1812, " The Sermons of Dr. Edwin Sandys, formerly Archbishop of York ;

with a Life of the Author," in Svo. 1


At the same time Dr. Whitaker was engaged upon the works of an old poet, from

whose graphic and caustic lines he has made frequent quotations in the course of the

present volume. 2 The History of Craven had introduced him to the family of Heber, 3 and

that circumstance had farther introduced him to an intimate acquaintance with the works of

William Langland, " the first English satirist," * of which Mr. Richard Heber placed two

. MS. copies at his service. 5 These poems had been printed shortly after the Reformation,

in the years 1550 and 1561, but at no later date, and when Dr. Whitaker devoted his

attention to them they were known chiefly from the comments of Tynvhitt and Warton.

Dr. Whitaker determined to follow for his text one of the MSS. lent him by Mr. Heber,

which he was disposed to regard as a monument of " the true Mercian language, as far

as it remained uncorrupted by additions since the Conquest : 6 " affirming, further, 7 " that

the orthography and dialect in which this MS. is written approach very near to that semi-

Saxon jargon, in the midst of which he was brought up, and which, notwithstanding some
1 The previous editions of these Sermons had been in 1585 (during the Archbishop's life), and in 1016. More

recently they have been republished in 1841, by the Parker Society, under the superintendence of the Rev. John Eyre,

M.A. ; who, strange to say, neither recognises Dr. Whitaker's edition nor his biographical memoir. But the latter

is " generally followed " (xxvii. 136) by Alexander Chalmers in his Biographical Dictionary 1816 : see also the Athena;

Cantabrigienses, by Cooper, ii. 24.
3 See pp. 102, 122, 126, 137. It is asserted in Lowndes' Bibliographer's Manual, that "The value of the

old editions is not at all lessened by the reprint of Dr. Whitaker, as he has carefully suppressed all the passages

relating to the indecent lives and practices of the Romish Clergy ; " and this statement, having been adopted by Mr.

Grenville, is repeated in the Catalogue of the Grenville Library. But what can have suggested this imputation upon

Whitaker's editorial fidelity it is difficult to conceive. His quotations made in The History of Whalley have rather the

opposite tendency ; and I learn from Mr. Skeat that any omissions of lines in Dr. Whitaker's edition are evidently

accidental, arising from editorial oversight and not from intention.
3 " Richard Heber, of Marton, esq. a name familiar to every scholar, has obligingly communicated all that was of

importance in the evidences of his family, together with a plate of Marton Hall ; and his brother Thomas Heber, esq.

of Brazennose College, Oxford, has kindly transcribed several curious particulars from the MSS. of Dodsworth and

Ashmole. It is not the least useful or pleasing circumstance attending such undertakings that they introduce their

author to the acquaintance of men whose virtues and accomplishments he could otherwise have known only through

the medium of general reputation." Preface to the History of Craven, 1805.


* Dr. Whitaker dedicated " To Richard Heber, esq. of Hodnet, co. Salop, this edition of the first English

satirist, his old and spirited countryman," adopting the statement of Bale that Langland was a native of Shropshire.

The designation was borrowed from Bishop Hall, who, in his own satires, claimed to be the second English satirist,

referring to the author of Piers Ploughman as his predecessor.


8 Both Mr. Heber's MSS. passed into the collection of the late Sir Thomas Phillipps, Bart., of Middlehill and

Cheltenham. That from which Dr. Whitaker printed is now the MS. Phillipps 8231, formerly Heber 973. Of the

other, MS. Phillipps 8252, formerly Heber 1088, he made but little use, nor of a MS. which was lent him from Oriel

College, by the favour of Mr. Copleston (afterwards Bishop of Llandaff). But a full description of the last will be found

in Mr. Skeat's Preface to his B. text, pp. xvi xx.
6 Introduction, p. xxxii. T Ibid.

xxxvm

BIOGRAPHICAL MEMOIRS OF

inroads within the last half-century upon its archaisms, he continues to hear daily spoken

on the confines of Lancashire, and the West Riding of the county of York."
Dr. Whitaker had made arrangements for this work with Mr. John Murray the

publisher, then of Fleet Street, and soon after of Albeniarle Street, before the close of

the year 1810 ; ' but the book was not produced until 1813, when it appeared under the

following title :


Visio WilVi de Petro Plonhman , Item Visiones ejusdem de Dowel, Dobet, et Dobest, or, The Vision of William

toncerning Piers Plouhman, and The Visions of the same concerning the Origin, Progress, and Perfection

of the Christian Life. Ascribed to Robert Langland, a secular priest of the County of Salop ; and written

in, or immediately after, the year MCCCLXII. Printed from a MS. contemporary with the Author, collated .

with two others of great antiquity, and exhibiting the original Text; together with an Introductory Discourse,

a Perpetual Commentary, Annotations, and a Glossary. By THOMAS DUNHAM WHITAKER, LL.D. F.S.A.

Vicar of Whalley, and Rector of Heysham, in Lancashire. London : printed for John Murray, Albemarle

Street, MDCCCXIII.


The dissertation which is prefixed to this volume may, for the elegance of its style

and language, if not for the accuracy of all its conclusions, be still read with pleasure and

advantage : but as a critical work this edition of Piers Plowman has been completely

superseded by the labours of subsequent editors, 2 and the more exact scholarship in the


1 " Mr. Murray, the bookseller in Fleet Street, has undertaken to publish for me an edition of Peirce Plowman's

Visions, which I mean to print from two original MSS. with a Commentary, Notes, Glossary and preliminary Disser-

tation. I have made it a condition that you should print it if you thought proper, as also a new edition of the History

of Whalley. With respect to the first book, Mr. Murray wishes it to be a large Octavo. I should certainly prefer

a Quarto, especially as I doubt whether one octavo volume will contain the Text, Notes, &c., but I shall not vehemently

contend about it. Booksellers are the best judges of the mechanical parts of authorship ... As Mr. Murray is your

neighbour, may 1 beg the favour of you to confer with him on these subjects, and inform me of the result." (Letter to Mr.

Nichols, Dec. 20, 1810.) Eventually the book was printed by Mr. Joseph Harding, of St. John's Square, London. It

is printed in black letter, with many rubrications, and decorated with woodcut head and tail pieces, and is said to have

cost 400Z. The price at which it was published was eight guineas.


1 Mr. Thomas Wright, M.A. F.S.A. has published two popular editions, in 1843, and 1856; and more recently

the Rev. Walter W. Skeat, M.A., besides producing a manual edition of the first seven Passus of the Visions in the

Clarendon Press Series, 18C9, has bestowed, and is still bestowing, the most persevering attention on the writings of

this great mediasval poet in the series of the Early English Text Society. There Mr. Skeat's labours are in five

divisions: 1. Parallel extracts from twenty-nine manuscripts of Piers Plowman, 1866. (Mr. Skeat has now, May

1872, traced as many as forty-two MSS.) 2. The Vision of William concerning Piers Plowman, together with

Vita de Doivel, Dobet, et Dobest, secundum Wit et Resoun, by William Langland, Part I. the text (written about

1362) from the Vernon MS. in the Bodleian Library. 1867. 3. Part II. the text (circ. 1377), from a Laud MS. in

the Bodleian Library, being nearly identical with that printed by Crowley in 1550. 1869. 4. Part III., the

text (circ. 1390), from MS. Phillipps 8231, being the same as that edited by Dr. Whitaker, but with many hundred

emendations and collations from several other MSS. This will be accompanied by a revised edition of Langland's

very striking poem on the Deposition of Richard II. of which only one MS. has been found, but which has been

twice edited by Mr. Wright, first for the Camden Society and afterwards in his Political Poems, in the Master of the

Rolls' Series. 5. A General Preface, Notes, and a Glossary to all the three texts.' The two latter volumes have still to

appear. An essay by Mr. Skeat, on the life and writings of William Langland, may also be found in Hazlitt's Edition

of Warton's History of English Poetry, 1871, vol. ii. p. 244.


THOMAS DUNHAM WHITAKER. xxxix


ancient forms of the English language which has since heen cultivated ; indeed, Dr. Whitaker

felt himself bound to make many apologies for " the languor of bad health," and his want of

leisure, in excuse for faults that might possibly have been attributed to the indolence and

carelessness of the Editor, 1 and many of which he himself admitted in a very long list of

Corrigenda.
But even his title-page contains several errors. The author's name was really William

Langland, not Robert, though this misnomer is as old as his earliest biographer, John Bale.

There is no proof that he was a secular priest of the county of Salop ; and though his

Visions were first written in 1362, or immediately after, the version edited by Dr. Whitaker

is of a considerably later date (circ. 1390). Langland had nothing to do with the North of

England : but all the localities he mentions are towards the South, and most of his allu-

sions are to London. In the prologue to his Visions he imagines himself dreaming on the

Malvern hills ; but his presumed connection with the county of Salop rests only upon the

unsupported assertion of Bale that he was born at Cleobury Mortimer ; whereas another

account states that his father was a gentleman at Shipton under Wichwood in Oxfordshire, 2

and, though he styles himself a clerk, he could scarcely have been either a secular priest or a

monk, as he mentions both Kitte his wife and his daughter Calotte. 3 In regard to language

Dr. Whitaker's text is not that peculiar to his own district, but rather a West Midland

dialect with admixture of Southern forms : and he was very much mistaken in regarding

it as the " original " text of the poet. 4
In 1814 Dr. Whitaker edited "Pierce the Ploughman's Crede," 5 uniformly with his

edition of the Visions, but reprinted from its first edition in 1553, for he was not aware of


1 Preface, pp. xl. xli.
9 " Memorandum quod Stacy de Rokayle, pater Willielmi de Langlond, qui Stacius fuit generosus, et morabatur

in Schiptone under Whicwode, tenens domini le Spenser in comitatu Oxon. qui prsedictus Willielmus fecit librum qui

vocatur Piers Ploughman." (MS. in Trin. Coll. Dublin.) This may account for his naming the neighbouring abbey

of Abingdon as the representative of monastic institutions in general, in that remarkable passage which in the opinion

of some of his admirers has raised him almost to the dignity of a prophet.
And thanne shal the Abbot of Abyndoun and alle his issu for evere

Have a knokke of a Kynge and incurable the wounde.


Passus x. 326.
3 Whether the author adopted this as a blind may perhaps be a question, but Mr. Skeat is disposed to understand

him as speaking literally and truly. Kitte is mentioned twice at least. See Mr. Skeat's observations on the author's

name and life in the Preface to his Part I. of the Vision, p. xxxiv : also the catalogue of the poet's allusions to himself,

to places, and to circumstances, in Mr. Skeat's Preface to Part II. p. xl.


4 I state this as the conclusion formed by Mr. Skeat, who remarks, further, " Of course there are certain words

which also occur in the Lancashire dialect, and quite enough similarity to the Lancashire dialect to have led

Dr. Whitaker to his opinion ; but the true locality of the version is more towards Worcestershire, Herefordshire, or

Shropshire." The author's own language is thought to be most faithfully represented in the Laud MS., from which

Mr. Skeat's B-Text (in his Part II.) has been edited ; and that MS. is possibly an autograph of Langland. Mr. Wright's

text is substantially the same.


5 The title is: " Pierce the Ploughman's Crede. London: Reprinted by T. Bensley, Bolt Court, Fleet Street,

for Lackington, Allen and Co. Finsbury Square, and Robert Triphook, St. James's Street, 1814." It was published at

1Z. Us. 6d.
/2

x l BIOGRAPHICAL MEMOIRS OF


the existence of any manuscript copies. 1 He wrote only a single page of introduction,

dated April 20, 1814.


The relish which Dr. Whitaker had always possessed for philological inquiries was

sharpened by the study of Piers Plowman, which impelled him to take a still deeper

interest than before in the vernacular speech of his humble neighbours. John Collier, a

schoolmaster at Milnrow, near Rochdale, had during the last century set forth with much

dexterity and mother-wit some specimens of that vernacular, under the assumed character

of "Tim Bobbin," which soon attained an extended popularity that has endured to the

present day. The Historian of Whalley, in a note which will be found at p. 234 of the pre-

sent volume, has expressed an enthusiastic commendation of Collier's compositions ; and in

a letter to the late J. H. Marklancl, esq. D.C.L. F.R.S. and F.S.A. (dated Holme, Aug.

20, 1818), Whitaker writes: " Were there not something indecorous in my undertaking

the office of Editor to such a performance, I should undoubtedly do it ; and perhaps, after

striking out a few passages, I may even now venture upon it, though anonymously. In

that event I will ask the favour of the use of your copy, in order to enable me to give an

account of the insertion."


The MS. alluded to, possessed by Mr. Markland, was an autograph of Collier, of eleven

octavo pages, being the episode which is printed in Bamford's edition (1850) of the Lanca-

shire Dialect, but with many remarkable variations. 2 It was wholly in Collier's hand-

writing, though Dr. Whitaker had been inclined to attribute it in part to some clever

imitator of Tim Bobbin's compositions. 3
At an early stage of The Quarterly Eevleio Dr. Whitaker was invited to take a part

in it : he consented, and for many years was one of its most constant contributors. The

following list of his articles, though probably not complete, is so far as it goes authentic, 4

and is sufficient to show the range of subjects upon which he undertook to write. :


1 It had been appended to the Vision by Owen Rogers in 1561, but does not occur in all his copies. It also

accompanies the Visions in Mr. Wright's editions. Mr. Skeat has edited it separately, as No. xxx. of the Works of the

Early English Text Society, and has appended to it God spede the Plough, a short poem written about A.D. 1500. Mr.

Skeat has availed himself of two MSS. of the Crede, which furnish many improvements upon the old printed copies.

The Crede was not composed by the same author as the Visions, but by one who imitated his metre and satirical tone,

about A.D. 1394. The later writer was an avowed Wyclilfite. There is nothing to show that Langland was a

follower of Wycliffe, though he may have regarded his teaching with complacency. The author of the Crede is unknown,

but Mr. Skeat attributes to his pen The Complaint of the Ploughman, one of the poems formerly assigned to Chaucer.

(Preface, pp. xi. xiv.)
2 In the same letter he thanks Mr. Markland for a copy of his " elegant and curious edition of the Chester Myste-

ries, (printed for the Roxburghe Club,) which exhibit a singular and interesting picture of ancient manners in the combi-

nation of religion, grossness, and buffoonery." I quote from a transcript made by Mr. Markland for Mr. Canon Kaines

in 1855.


* For further particulars on this subject reference should be made to the essays on the South Lancashire Dialect

by the late Thomas Heywood, esq. F. S. A., published in the third volume of the Chttham Miscellanies; the second of

which is particularly on " Tim Bobbin and its author."
4 It is formed from two lists kindly furnished by James Crossley, esq. F. S. A. of Manchester, one of which was

given by Bishop Heber to the Doctor's widow. See also the list of writers in the Quarterly given in the Gentleman's


THOMAS DUNHAM WHITAKER.


xli

Sermons by Dr. Paley, and Meadley's Life of Paley. l

Bawdwen's Translation of the Eecord called Domesday.

Bishop Warburton's Letters.

Churton's Life of Dean Nowell.

Milner's History of Winchester.

Bishop Horsley's Sermons, vols. I. and II.

Wordsworth's Ecclesiastical Biography.

Chalmers's Caledonia.


Sir R. Colt Hoare's Ancient Wiltshire, Part I.

Lysons's Magna Britannia.

Milner's Ecclesiastical Architecture.

Churton's Life of Archdeacon Townson.

Hoare's Ancient Wiltshire, Part II.

Buchanan's Christian Researches in Asia.

Lingard's Antiquities of the Saxon Church.

Kurd's Edition of Warburton's Works. 3

Gait's Life of Cardinal \Volsey.

Belsham's Memoirs of the Kev. Theophilus Lindsay.

Bishop Horsley's Sermons, vol. III.

MacCrie's Life of John Knox.

Gray's Works, by Mathias.
Gibbon's Miscellaneous Works, edited by Lord Sheffield.

Wordsworth's Poems. 3


Cox's Life of Melancthon, and Bonney's Life of Jeremy Taylor.

The Works of Mason.

Chalmers on the Christian Revelation.

The Life of Richard Watson, Bishop of LandafF.

Gisborne's Natural Theology.
During the prevalence of that system of publication which issued books at very high

prices, hut for which the number of purchasers was necessarily limited, the stipulation of

the Copyright Act by which so many as eleven copies were required to be supplied

gratuitously to the universities and other public libraries, was felt to be a very severe tax


Magazine, Feb. 1844. From the present Mr. Murray I have received confirmation as to the authorship of the articles

on Jeremy Taylor, Mason, and Gisborne; but he possesses no list of the writers before No. xxiii.


1 " The estimation of Paley's talents (in this article, remarks Dr. Dibdin. in his Library Companion, p. 88,) seems

to me to be a little unworthy of that great man's name ;" but in a note attention is directed to Dr. Whitaker's subsequent

article on Gisborne, in which Paley is termed an " admirable writer wherever he turned his eyes, the prospect was

illuminated by bright skies and cloudless sunshine." And in the History of Craven, p. 129, he says " if any earthly

object can render extreme old age desirable (as in the case of Dr. Paley's parents) it must be to see a beloved son risen

to great literary reputation and advanced by his own merit to wealth and dignities in the church."


* " The review of Warburton's Works (supposed to have been written by the late Rev. Dr. Whitaker) is perhaps one

of the most perfect specimens of acute analysis and impassioned eloquence that the pages of modern criticism record."



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