Bale, John

, in Latin Baleus or Balæus, bishop of Ossory in Ireland, about the middle of the sixteenth century, was born the 21st of November 1495, at Cove, a small village in Suffolk, near Dunwich. His parents, whose names were Henry and Margaret, being incumbered with a large family, young Bale was entered, at twelve years of age, in the monastery of Carmelites at Norwich, and from thence was sent to Jesus college in Cambridge. He was educated in the Romish religion but afterwards, at the instigation of the lord Wentworth, turned Protestant, and gave a proof of his having renounced one of the errors of popery (the celibacy of the clergy) by immediately marrying his wife Dorothy. This, | as may be conjectured, exposed him to the persecution of the Romish clergy, against whom he was protected by lord Cromwell, favourite of king Henry VIII. But, on Cromwell’s death, Bale was forced to retire into the LowCountries, where he resided eight years; during which, time he wrote several pieces in English. He was then recalled into England by king Edward VI. and obtained the living of Bishop’s Stocke in the county of Southampton. The 15th of August 1552, he was nominated by king Edward, who happened to be at Southampton, to the see of Ossory. This promotion he appears to have owed to his accidentally waiting on his majesty to pay his respects to him. Edward, who had been told he was dead, expressed his surprize and satisfaction at seeing him alive, and immediately appointed him to the bishopric, which he refused at first, alleging his poverty, age, and want of health. The king, however, would not admit of these excuses, and Bale set off for Dublin, where Feb. 2, 1553, he was consecrated by the archbishop. On this occasion, when he found that it was become a question whether the common prayer published in England should be used, he positively refused to be consecrated according to the old popish form, and remaining inflexible, the new form was used. He underwent, however, a variety of persecutions from the popish party in Ireland, and all his endeavours to reform the people and priesthood in his diocese, and to introduce the reformed religion, were not only frustrated by the death of Edward VI. and the accession of queen Mary, but in the mean time exasperated the savage fury of his enemies so much, that he found it necessary to withdraw from his see, and remain concealed in Dublin. Afterwards, endeavouring to make his escape in a small trading vessel in that port, he was taken prisoner by the captain of a Dutch man of war, who rifled him of all his money, apparel, and effects. This ship was driven by stress of weather into St. Ives in Cornwall, where our prelate was taken up on suspicion of treason, but was soon discharged. From thence, after a cruize of several days, the ship arrived in Dover road, where he was again in danger by a false accusation. Arriving afterwards in Holland, he was kept a prisoner three weeks, and then obtained his liberty on the payment of thirty pounds. From Holland he retired to Basil in Switzerland and continued abroad during the short reigu of queen Mary. On the accession of queen | Elizabeth, he returned to England, but not to his bishopric in Ireland, contenting himself with a prebend in the cathedral church of Canterbury, to which he was promoted the 15th of January, 1560. He died Nov. 1563, in the 68th year of his age, at Canterbury, and was buried in the cathedral of that place.

Bishop Bale’s fame now principally rests on his valuable collection of British biography, which was first published, under the title of “lllustrium Majoris Britanniae scriptorum, hoc est, Anglic, Cambriae et Scotia?, Summarium,Ipswich, 1549, 4to, containing only five centuries of writers. To these he added afterwards four more centuries, with many additions and improvements on the first edition, the whole printed in a large folio, at Basil, by Oporinus, 1559. The title is greatly enlarged, and informs us, that the writers, whose lives are there treated of, are those of the Greater Britain, namely, England and Scotland that the work commences from Japhet, one of the sons of Noah, and is carried down through a series of 3618 years, to the year of our Lord 1557, at which time the author was an exile for religion in Germany that it is collected from a great variety of authors, as Berosus, Gennadius, Bede, Honorius, Boston of Bury, Fruaientarius, Capgrave, Bostius, BureU lus, Trithemius, Gesner, and our great antiquary John Leland that it consists of nine centuries, comprises the antiquity, origin, annals, places, successes, the more remarkable actions, sayings, and writings of each author; in all which a due regard is had to chronology the whole with this particular view, that the actions of the reprobate as well as the elect ministers of the church may historically and aptly correspond with the mysteries described in the Revelation, the stars, angels, horses, trumpets, thunder ­ings, heads, horns, mountains, vials, and plagues, through every age of the same church. There are appendixes to many of the articles, and an account of such actions of the contemporary popes as are omitted by their flatterers, Cargulanus, Platina, &c. together with the actions of the monks, particularly those of the mendicant order, who (he says) are meant by the locusts in the Revelation, ch. ix. ver. 3 and 7. To these Appendixes is added a perpetual succession both of the holy fathers and the antichrists of the church, with curious instances from the histories of various nations and countries in order to expose their adulteries, debaucheries, strifes, seditions, sects, deceits, poisonings, | murders, treasons, and innumerable impostures. The book is dedicated to Otho Henry, prince palatine of the Rhine, duke of both the Bavarias, and elector of the Roman empire and the epistle dedicatory is dated from Basil in September, 1557. Afterwards^ in 1559, appeared a continuation of the workj with the addition of five more centuries (which the editors of the Biog. Brit, call a new edition). His other works are divided by Fuller into two parts, those he wrote when a papist, and those when a protestant: but Fuller’s list containing only the subjects of his works, and not the titles or dates, we shall prefer the following list from Ames and Herbert; premising, that, according to Fox, in his Acts and Monuments, Bale wrote some books under the name of JohnHarrison. He was the sou of Henry Bale, and on that account, perhaps, took the name of Harrison l.” The Actes of Englysh Votaries, comprehending their unchast practyses and examples by all ages > from the world’s beginning to this present year, collected out of their own legendes and chronicles, 8vo, 1546> 1548, 1551, and 1560. 2. “Yet a course at the Homy she Fox,” by John Harrison, i. e. Bale, Zurich, 1543. From this was published the “Declaration of William Tolwyn,London, date uncertain, Ames says 1542, which must be a mistake. 3. “The Apology of JohanBale agaynste a ranke Papyst, answering both hym and hys doctours, that neyther their vowes nor yet their pricsthotic are of the gospel, but of Antichrist;” with this, “A brefe exposycion upon, the xxx chapter of Numeri,London, 15,50, 8vo. 4. “An Expostulation or Coinplaynt, agaynste the blasphemy es of a frantic Papyst of Hamshyrc,” with metrical versions ef the 23d and 130th Psalms,“London, 1552, and 1584, 8vo. 5.” The Image of both Churches, after the most wonderiul and heavenly Revelation of Sainct John the Evangelist, contayning a very fruitefull exposicion or paraphrase upon the same,“first, second, and third parts, London, 1550, and 1584, 8vo. 6. A brefe Chronicle concerning the examination and death of the blessed Martir of Christ, Sir Johan Oldecastle, Lord Cobham,” 1544 and 1576, 8vo, reprinted also in 1729. 7. “The vocacyon of Johan Bale to the Bishoprick of Ossorie in Ireland, his persecucions in the same, and final deliveraunce,London, 1553, 8vo. Herbert mentions two editions in the same year. 8. “A Declaration of Edmonde Bonner’s Articles, concerning the Cleargye of London Dyocese, whereby that execrable amychriste is | in his righte colours reueled in the year of our Lord 1554. Newlye set fourth and allowed,London, 1561, 8vo. 9, “The Pageant of Popes, containing the lyves of all the bishops of Rome from the beginninge of them to the yeare of grace 1555, London, 4to, 1574. This is a translation from Bale’s Latin edition, by J. S. i. e. John Stu’dley. 10.A new Comedy or Interlude, concerning the Laws of Nature, Moises, and Christ,“London, 1562, 4to. This was written in 1532, and first printed in the time of Edward VI. 11.A Tragedie or Enterlucle, manifesting the chief promises of God unto man, by all ages in the olde lawe, from the fall of Adam to the incarnation,“London, 1577, 4to. 12.A Mystereye of Inyquyte contayned within the heretycall genealogye of Ponce Pantolabus, is here both dysclosed and confuted,“Geneva, 1545, 16mo. 13.” The First Examination of the worthy servaunt of God Mastres Anne Askew,“Marpurg, 1546, 16mo, and the” Lattre Examinacion“of the same, ibid. 1547. 14.A brife and fay th full declaration of the true Faith in Christ,“1547, IGmo. Mr. Herbert conjectures this to be Bale’s. The initials only of the author are given. 15.” The laboryouse journey and serche of Johan Leylande, for En glandes Antiquitees, &c.“London, 1549, 16mo, reprinted in the Life of Leland (with those of Wood and Hearne) 1772, and followed there by a memoir of Bale. 16.” The confession -of the synner after the sacred scriptures, 1549, 8vo. 17. “A Dialogue or Communycacyon to be had at a table between two chyldren gathered out of the Holy Scriptures, by John Bale for his two yonge sonnes, Johan acid Paule,London, 1549. He also translated, l.“Bapt. Mantuanus’s treatise on Death,London, 1584, 8vo. 2. “The true hystorie of the Christen departynge of the reverend man D. Martyne Luther, &c.1546, 8vo. 3. “A godly Medytacyon of the Christen Soule, from the French of Margaret queen of Navarre,London, probably, 1548, 5vo. Tanner has given a list of his Mss. and where preserved. These printed works are now rarely to be met with, and many of them, particularly his dramatic pieces, may be consigned to oblivion without much regret. The “Acts of. the English Votaries,” and other pieces written against the Papists, are best known, although censured for their intemperance and partiality. The character, indeed, of few writers has been more variously represented., Gesner, in his Bibliotheca, calls him a writer of the greatest diligence, and bishop Godwin gives him the character of a | laborious inquirer into British antiquities. Similar praise is bestowed on him by Humphrey in his “Vaticinium de Koma,” and by Vogler in his “Introduct. Universal, in notit. Scriptor.” who also excuses his asperity against the Papists, from what England had suffered from them, and adds, that even the popish writers cannot help praising his great biographical work. On the other hand, bishop Montague, Andreas Valerius, and Vossius, while they allow his merit as a writer, object to his warmth and partiality. Pitts, his successor in British biography, and a bigotted Papist, rails against him without mercy, or decency, but may be forgiven on account of the pains he took to give us a more correct book, or at least, what could be alleged on the other side of the question. Even Fuller imputes intemperance of mind to him, and calls him “Biliosus Balseus,” imputing his not being made a bishop, on his return, by queen Elizabeth, to this cause but it is equally probable, that he had conceived some prejudices against the hierarchy, while residing with the Geneva reformers abroad. We know this was the case with Coverdale, a man of less equivocal character. Wharton, in his “Anglia Sacra,” and Nicolson, in his “Historical Library,” censure those errors which in Bale were either unavoidable, or wilful, in dates, titles of books,- and needlessly multiplying the latter. After all these objections, it will not appear surprising that Bale’s work was speedily inserted among the prohibited books, in the Index Expurgatorius. Such a writer was naturally to be forbidden, as an enemy to the see of Rome. From one accusation, the late Dr. Pegge has amply defended him in his “Anonymiana” It was said that after he had transcribed the titles of the volumes of English writers which fell into his hands, he either burnt them or tore them to pieces. This calumny was first pub^ lished by Struvius in his “Acta Literaria,” upon the authority of Barthius. Upon the whole, with every deduction that can be made from his great work, it must ever be considered as the foundation of English biography, and as such, men of all parties have been glad to consult it, although with the caution necessary in all works written in times of great animosity of sentiment, and political and religious controversy. 1

1

Biog. P.ritanniea. Fuller’s Abel Redivivus. —Strype’s Cranmer, p. 120, 206, 273, 314, 360, Appendix. Wharton’s Character of him, p. 259, 263. Strypt- '$ Annals. —Strype’s Parker, p. 63, 142, 538. Warton’s Hist, of Poetry, see In dex, Dibdiu’s B.blionmuia, Tanner’s Bib! Life of —Leland, 1772.

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