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WILLIAM WYCHERLEY (c. 1640-1716)

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Originally appearing in Volume V28, Page 871 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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WILLIAM WYCHERLEY (c. 1640-1716), English dramatist, was born about 164o at Clive, near Shrewsbury, where for several generations his family had been settled on a moderate estate of about ,600 a year. Like Vanbrugh, Wycherley spent his early years in France, whither, at the age of fifteen, he was sent to be educated in the very heart of the " precious " circle on the banks of the Charente. Wycherley's friend, Major Pack, tells us that his hero " improved, with the greatest refinements," the " extraordinary talents " for which he was " obliged to nature." Although the harmless affectations of the circle of Madame de Montausier, formerly Madame de Rambouillet, are certainly not chargeable with the " refinements " of Wycherley's comedies—comedies which caused even his great admirer Voltaire to say afterwards of them, " Il sernble que les Anglais prennent trop de liberte et que les Francaises n'en prennent pas assez "—these same affectations seem to have been much more potent in regard to the " refinements " of Wycherley's religion. Wycherley, though a man of far more intellectual power than is generally supposed, was a fine gentleman first, a responsible being afterwards. Hence under the manipulations of the heroine of the " Garland " he turned from the Protestantism of his fathers to Romanism—turned at once, and with the same easy alacrity as afterwards, at Oxford, he turned back to Protestantism under the manipulations of such an accomplished master in the art of turning as Bishop Barlow. And if, as Macaulay hints, Wycherley's turning back to Romahism once more had something to do with the patronage and unwonted liberality of James II., this merely proves that the deity he worshipped was the deity of the " polite world " of his time—gentility. Moreover, as a professional fine gentleman, at a period when, as the genial Major Pack says, " the amours of Britain would furnish as diverting memoirs, if well related, as those of France published by Rabutin, or those of Nero's court writ by Petronius," Wycherley was obliged to be a loose liver. But, for all that, Wycherley's sobriquet of " Manly Wycherley " seems to have been fairly earned by him, earned by that frank and straightforward way of confronting life which, according to Pope and Swift, characterized also his brilliant successor Vanbrugh. That effort of Wycherley's to bring to Buckingham's notice the case of Samuel Butler (so shamefully neglected by the court Butler had served) shows that the writer of even such heartless plays as The Country Wife may be familiar with generous impulses, while his uncompromising lines in defence of Buckingham, when the duke in his turn fell into trouble, show that the inventor of so shameless a fraud as that which forms the pivot of The Plain Dealer may in actual life possess that passion for fairplay which is believed to be a specially English quality. But among the " ninety-nine " religions with which Voltaire ac-credited England there is one whose permanency has never been shaken—the worship of gentility. To this Wycherley remained as faithful to the day of his death as Congreve himself. And, if his relations to that " other world beyond this," which the Puritans had adopted, were liable to change with his environments, it was because that " other world " was really out of fashion altogether. Wycherley's university career seems also to have been influenced by the same causes. Although Puritanism had certainly not contaminated the universities, yet English " quality and politeness " (to use Major Pack's words) have always, since the great rebellion, been rather ashamed of possessing too much learning. As a fellow-commoner of Queen's College, Oxford, Wycherley only lived (according to Wood) in the provost's lodgings, being entered in the public library under the title of " Philosophiae Studiosus " in July 166o. And he does not seem to have matriculated or to have taken a degree. Nor when, on quitting Oxford, he took up his residence in the Inner Temple, where he had been entered in 1659, did he give any more attention to the dry study of the law than was proper to one so warmly caressed " by the persons most eminent for their quality or politeness." Pleasure and the stage were alone open to him, and probably early in 1671 was produced, at the Theatre Royal, Love in a Wood. It was published the next year. With regard to this comedy Wycherley told Pope—told him " over and over " till Pope believed him—believed him, at least, until they quarrelled about Wycherley's verses—that he wrote it the year before he went to Oxford. But we need not believe him: the worst witness against a man is mostly himself. To pose as the wicked boy of genius has been the foolish ambition of many writers, but on inquiry it will generally be found that these inkhorn Lotharios are not nearly so wicked as they would have us believe. When Wycherley charges himself with having written, as a boy of nineteen, scenes so callous and so depraved that even Barbara Palmer's appetite for profligacy was, if not satisfied, appeased, there is, we repeat, no need to believe him. Indeed, there is every reason to disbelieve him, not for the reasons advanced by Macaulay, how-ever, who in challenging Wycherley's date does not go nearly deep enough. Macaulay points to the allusions in the play to gentlemen's periwigs, to guineas, to the vests which Charles ordered to be worn at court, to the great fire, &c., as showing that the comedy could not have been written the year before the author went to Oxford. We must remember, however, that even if the play had been written in that year, and delayed in its production till 1672, it is exactly this kind of allusion to recent events which any dramatist with an eye to freshness of colour would be certain to weave into his dialogue. It is not that " the whole air and spirit of the piece belong to a period subsequent to that mentioned by Wycherley," but that " the whole air and spirit of the piece " belong to a man—an experienced and hardened young man of the world—and not to a boy who would fain pose as an experienced and hardened young man of the world. The real defence of Wycherley against his foolish impeachment of himself is this, that Love in a Wood, howsoever inferior in structure and in all the artistic economies to The Country Wife and The Plain Dealer, contains scenes which no inexperienced boy could have written—scenes which, not for moral hardness merely, but often for real dramatic ripeness, are almost the strongest to be found amongst his four plays. With regard to dramatic ripeness, indeed, if we were asked to indicate the finest touch in all Wycherley, we should very likely select a speech in the third scene of the third act of this veryplay, where the vain, foolish and boastful rake Dapperwit, having taken his friend to see his mistress for the express purpose of advertising his lordship over her, is coolly denied by her and insolently repulsed. " I think," says Dapperwit, " women take inconstancy from me worse than from any man breathing." Now, does the subsequent development of Wycherley's dramatic genius lead us to believe that, at nineteen, he could have given this touch, worthy of the hand that drew Malvolio? Is there anything in his two masterpieces—The Country Wife or The Plain Dealer—that makes it credible that Wycherley, the boy, could have thus delineated by a single quiet touch vanity as a chain-armour which no shaft can pierce—vanity, that is to say, in its perfect development ? However, Macaulay (forgetting that, among the myriad vanities of the writing fraternity, this of pretending to an early development of intellectual powers that ought not to be, even if they could be, developed early is at once the most comic and the most common) is rather too severe upon Wycherley's disingenuousness in regard to the dates of his plays. That the writer of a play far more daring than Etheredge's She Would if She Could—and far more brilliant too—should at once become the talk of Charles's court was inevitable; equally inevitable was it that the author of the song at the end of the first act, in praise of harlots and their offspring, should touch to its depths the soul of the duchess of Cleveland. Possibly Wycherley intended this famous song as a glorification of Her Grace and her profession, for he seems to have been more delighted than surprised when, as he passed in his coach through Pall Mall, he heard the duchess address him from her coach window as a " rascal," a " villain," and as a son of the very kind of lady his song had lauded. For his answer was perfect in its readiness: " Madam, you have been pleased to bestow a title on me which belongs only to the fortunate." Perceiving that Her Grace received the compliment in the spirit in which it was meant, he lost no time in calling upon her, and was from that moment the recipient of those " favours " to which he alludes with pride in the dedication of the play to her. Voltaire's story (in his Letters on the English Nation) that Her Grace used to go to Wycherley's chambers in the Temple disguised as a country wench, in a straw hat, with pattens on and a basket in her hand, may be apocryphal—very likely it is—for disguise was quite superfluous in the case of the mistress of Charles II. and Jacob Hall, but it at least shows how general was the opinion that, under such patronage as this, Wycherley's fortune as poet and dramatist, " eminent for his quality and politeness," was now made. Charles, who had determined to bring up his son, the duke of Richmond, like a prince, was desirous of securing for tutor a man so entirely qualified as was Wycherley to impart what was then recognized as the princely education, and it seems pretty clear that, but for the accident, to which we shall have to recur, of his meeting the countess of Drogheda at Bath and secretly marrying her, the education of the young man would actually have been entrusted by his father to Wycherley as a reward for the dramatist's having written Love in a Wood. Whether Wycherley's experiences as a naval officer, which he alludes to in his lines " On a Sea Fight which the Author was in betwixt the English and the Dutch," occurred before or after the production of Love in a Wood is a point upon which opinions differ, but on the whole we are inclined to agree with Macaulay, against Leigh Hunt, that these experiences took place not only after the production of Love in a Wood but after the production of The Gentleman Dancing Master, in 1673. We also think, with Macaulay, that he went to sea simply because it was the " polite " thing to do so—simply because, as he himself in the epilogue to The Gentleman Dancing Master says, " all gentlemen must pack to sea." This second comedy was published in 1673, but was probably acted late in 1671. It is inferior to Love in a Wood. In The Relapse the artistic mistake of blending comedy and farce damages a splendid play, but leaves it a splendid play still. In The Gentleman Dancing Master this mingling of discordant elements destroys a play that would never in any circumstances 'nave been strong—a play nevertheless which abounds in animal ,pirits, and is luminous here and there with true dramatic points. It is, however, on his two last comedies—The Country Wife and The Plain Dealer—that must rest Wycherley's fame as a master of that comedy of repartee which, inaugurated by Etheredge, and afterwards brought to perfection by Congreve and Vanbrugh, supplanted the humoristic comedy of the Elizabethans. The Country Wife, produced in 1672 or 1673 and published in 1675, is so full of wit, ingenuity, animal spirits and conventional humour that, had it not been for its motive—a motive which in any healthy state of society must always be as repulsive to the most lax as to the most moral reader—it would probably have survived as long as the acted drama remained a literary form in England. So strong, indeed, is the hand that could draw such a character as Majory Pinchwife (the undoubted original not only of Congreve's Miss Prue but of Vanbrugh's Hoyden), such a character as Sparkish (the undoubted original of Congreve's Tattle), such a character as Horner (the undoubted original of all those cool impudent rakes with whom our stage has since been familiar), that Wycherley is certainly entitled to a place alongside Congreve and Vanbrugh. And, indeed, if priority of date is to have its fair and full weight, it seems difficult to challenge Professor Spalding's dictum that Wycherley is " the most vigorous of the set." In order to do justice to the life and brilliance of The Country Wife we have only to compare it with The Country Girl, after-wards made famous by the acting of Mrs Jordan, that Bowdlerized form of The Country Wife in which Garrick, with an object more praiseworthy than his success, endeavoured to free it of its load of unparalleled licentiousness by disturbing and sweetening the motive—even as Voltaire afterwards (with an object also more praiseworthy than his success) endeavoured to disturb and sweeten the motive of The Plain Dealer in La Prude. While the two Bowdlerized forms of Garrick and Voltaire are as dull as the .Esop of Boursault, the texture of Wycherley's scandalous dialogue would seem to scintillate with the changing hues of shot silk or of the neck of a pigeon or of a shaken prism, were it not that the many-coloured lights rather suggest the miasmatic radiance of a foul ditch shimmering in the sun. It is easy to share Macaulay's indignation at Wycherley's satyr-like defilement of art, and yet, at the same time, to protest against that disparagement of their literary riches which nullifies the value of Macaulay's criticism. And scarcely inferior to The Country Wife is The Plain Dealer, produced probably early in 1674 and published three years later,— a play of which Voltaire said, " Je ne connais point de comedie chez les anciens ni chez les moderns oil it y ait autant d'esprit." This comedy had an immense influence, as regards manipulation of dialogue, upon all subsequent English comedies of repartee, and he who wants to trace the ancestry of Tony Lumpkin and Mrs Hardcastle has only to turn to Jerry Blackacre and his mother, while Manly (for whom Wycherley's early patron, the duke of Montausier, sat), though he is perhaps overdone, has dominated this kind of stage character ever since. If but few readers know how constantly the blunt sententious utterances of this character are reappearing, not on the stage alone, but in the novel and even in poetry, it is because a play whose motive is monstrous and intolerable can only live in a monstrous and intolerable state of society; it is because Wycherley's genius was followed by Nemesis, who always dogs the footsteps of the defiler of literary art. When Burns said " The rank is but the guinea stamp, The man's the gowd for a' that "; when Sterne, in Tristram Shandy, said, "Honours, like impressions upon coin, may give an ideal and local value to a bit of base metal, but gold and silver will pass all the world over without any other recommendation than their own weight," what did these writers do but adopt—adopt without improving —Manly's fine saying to Freeman, in the first act:—" I weigh the man, not his title; 'tis not the king's stamp can make the xxvnr. 28metal better or heavier "? And yet it is in the,fourth and fifth acts that the coruscations of Wycherley's comic genius are the most dazzling; also, it is there that the licentiousness is the most astonishing. Not that the worst scenes in this play are really more wicked than the worst scenes in Vanbrugh's Relapse, but they are more seriously imagined. Being less humorous than Vanbrugh's scenes, they are more terribly and earnestly realistic; therefore they seem more wicked. They form indeed a striking instance of the folly of the artist who selects a story which cannot be actualized without hurting the finer instincts of human nature. When Menander declared that, having selected his plot, 'he looked upon his comedy as three parts finished, he touched upon a subject which all workers in drama—all workers in imaginative literature of every kind—would do well to consider. In all literatures— ancient and modern—an infinite wealth of material has been wasted upon subjects that are unworthy, or else in-capable, of artistic realization; and yet Wycherley's case is, in our literature at least, without a parallel. No doubt it may be right to say, with Aristotle, that comedy is an imitation of bad characters, but this does not mean that in comedy art may imitate bad characters as earnestly as she may imitate good ones, —a fact which Thackeray forgot when he made Becky Sharp a murderess, thereby destroying at once what would otherwise have been the finest specimen of the comedy of convention in the world. And perhaps it was because Vanbrugh was conscious of this law of art that he blended comedy with farce. Perhaps he felt that the colossal depravity of intrigue in which the English comedians indulged needs to be not only warmed by a super-abundance of humour but softened by the playful mockery of farce before a dramatic circle such as that of the Restoration drama can be really brought within human sympathy. Plutarch's impeachment of Aristophanes, which affirms that the master of the old comedy wrote less for honest men than for men sunk in baseness and debauchery, was no doubt unjust to the Greek poet, one side of whose humour, and one alone, could thus be impeached. But does it not touch all sides of a comedy like Wycherley's—a comedy which strikes at the very root of the social compact upon which civilization is built? As to comparing such a comedy as that of the Restoration with the comedy of the Elizabethans, Jeremy Collier did but a poor service to the cause he undertook to advocate when he set the occasional coarseness of Shakespeare alongside the wickedness of Congreve and Vanbrugh. And yet, ever since Macaulay's essay, it has been the fashion to speak of Collier's attack as being levelled against the immorality of the " Restoration dramatists." It is nothing of the kind. It is (as was pointed out so long ago as 1699 by Dr Drake in his little-known vigorous reply to Collier) an attack upon the English drama generally, with a special reference to the case of Shakespeare. While dwelling upon that noxious and highly immoral play Hamlet, Collier actually leaves unscathed the author of The Country Wife, but fastens on Congreve and Vanbrugh, whose plays—profligate enough in all conscience—seem almost decent beside a comedy whose incredible vis motrix is " the modish distemper." That a stage, indeed, upon which was given with applause A Woman Killed with Kindness (where a wife dies of a broken heart for doing what any one of Wycherley's married women would have gloried in doing) should, in seventy years, have given with applause The Country Wife shows that in historic and social evolution, as in the evolution of organisms, " change " and " progress " are very far from being convertible terms. For the barbarism of the society depicted in these plays was, in the true sense of the word, far deeper and more brutal than any barbarism that has ever existed in these islands within the historic period. If civilization has any meaning at all for the soul of man, the Englishmen of Chaucer's time, the Anglo-Saxons of the Heptarchy, nay, those half-naked heroes, who in the dawn of English history clustered along the southern coast to defend it from the invasion of Caesar, were far more civilized than that " race gangrenee "—the treacherous rakes, mercenary slaves and brazen strumpets of the court of Charles II., who did their best to substitute for the human passion of love (a passion which II was known perhaps even to palaeolithic man) the promiscuous intercourse of the beasts of the field. Yet Collier leaves Wycherley unassailed, and classes Vanbrugh and Congreve with Shakespeare! It was after the success of The Plain Dealer that the turning-point came in Wycherley's career. The great dream of all the men about town in Charles's time, as Wycherley's plays all show, was to marry a widow, young and handsome, a peer's daughter if possible—but in any event rich, and spend her money upon wine and women. While talking to a friend in a bookseller's shop at Tunbridge, Wycherley heard The Plain Dealer asked for by a lady who, in the person of the countess of Drogheda, answered all the requirements. An introduction ensued, then love-making, then marriage—a secret marriage, probably in 168o, for, fearing to lose the king's patronage and the income therefrom, Wycherley still thought it politic to pass as a bachelor. He had not seen enough of life to learn that in the long run nothing is politic but " straightforwardness." Whether because his countenance wore a pensive and subdued expression, suggestive of a poet who had married a dowager countess and awakened to the situation, or whether because treacherous confidants divulged his secret, does not appear, but the news of his marriage oozed out—it reached the royal ears, and deeply wounded the father anxious about the education of his son. Wycherley lost the appointment that was so nearly within his grasp—lost indeed the royal favour for ever. He never had an opportunity of regaining it, for the countess seems to have really loved him, and Love in a Wood had proclaimed the writer to be the kind of husband whose virtue prospers best when closely guarded at the domestic hearth. Wherever he went the countess followed him, and when she did allow him to meet his boon companions it was in a tavern in Bow Street opposite to his own house, and even there under certain protective conditions. In summer or in winter he was obliged to sit with the window open and the blinds up, so that his wife might see that the party included no member of a sex for which her husband's plays had advertised his partiality. She died, however, in the year after her marriage and left him the whole of her fortune. But the title to the property was disputed; the costs of the litigation were heavy—so heavy that his father was unable (or else he was unwilling) to come to his aid; and the result of his marrying the rich, beautiful and titled widow was that the poet was thrown into the Fleet prison. There he remained for seven years, being finally released by the liberality of James II.—a liberality which, incredible as it seems, is too well authenticated to be challenged. James had been so much gratified by seeing The Plain Dealer acted that, finding a parallel between Manly's " manliness " and his own, such as no spectator had before discovered, he paid off Wycherley's execution creditor and settled on him a pension of £200 a year. Other debts still troubled Wycherley, however, and he never was released from his embarrassments, not even after succeeding to a life estate in the family property. In coming to Wycherley's death, we come to the worst allegation that has ever been made against him as a man and as a gentleman. At the age of seventy-five he married a young girl, and is said to have done so in order to spite his nephew, the next in succession, knowing that he himself must shortly die and that the jointure would impoverish the estate. Wycherley wrote verses, and, when quite an old man, prepared them for the press by the aid of Alexander Pope, then not much more than a boy. But, notwithstanding all Pope's tinkering, they remain contemptible. Pope's published correspondence with the dramatist was probably edited by him with a view to giving an impression of his own precocity. The friendship between the two cooled, according to Pope's account, because •Wycherley took offence at the numerous corrections on his verses. It seems more likely that Wycherley discovered that Pope, while still professing friendship and admiration, satirized his friend in the Essay on Criticism. Wycherley died on the 1st of January 1716, and was buried in the vault of the church in Covent Garden. (T. W: D.) WYCLIFFE' (or WYCLIF), JOHN (c. 13 to-1384), English reformer, was born, according to John Leland,' our single authority on the point, at Ipreswel (evidently Hipswell), 1 m. from Richmond in Yorkshire. The date may have been some-where about 1320. Leland elsewhere mentions that he " drew his origin " from Wycliffe-on-Tees (Collectanea, ii. 329), so that his lineage was of the ancient family which is celebrated by Scott in Marmion. The Wycliffes had a natural connexion with the college at Oxford which had been founded in the latter part of the previous century by their neighbours, the Balliols of Barnard Castle; and to Balliol College, then distinctively an " arts college,' John Wycliffe in due time proceeded. It has been generally believed, and was in fact believed not many years after his death, that he was a fellow of Merton College in 1356; but this identification probably rests on a confusion with a con-temporary. That the future reformer was a fellow of Balliol is implied in the fact that some time after 1356, but before the summer of 1360, he was elected master. This office he held but a short time. So soon as 1361 he accepted a college living, that of Filiingham in Lincolnshire, and probably left Oxford for some time. In the same year the name of a certain " John de Wyclif of the diocese of York, M.A." appears as a suppliant to the Roman Curia for a provision to a prebend, canonry and dignity at York (Cal. of Entries in the Papal Registries, ed. Bliss, Petitions, i. 390). This was not granted, but Wycliffe received instead the prebend of Aust in the collegiate church of Westbury-on-Trym. In 1365 one " John de Wyclif " was appointed by Simon Islip, archbishop of Canterbury, to the wardenship of Canterbury Hall, a house which the archbishop founded for a mixed body of monks and secular clergy, and then—as a result of the inevitable quarrels—filled exclusively with the latter. Two years later, however, Islip's successor, the monk Simon Langham, reversed the process, replacing the intruded seculars by monks. The dispossessed warden and fellows appealed to Rome, and in 1371 judgment was given against them. The question of the identity of the warden of Canterbury Hall with the reformer is still a matter of dispute. It has been understood as referred to by Wycliffe him-self (De ecclesia, cap. xvi. pp. 370 sq.), and was assumed by the contemporary monk of St Albans (Chron. Angl. "Rolls " ser.p.115) and by Wycliffe's opponent William Woodford (Fast. Zizan. p. 517), who found in Wycliffe's resentment at this treatment the motive for his attacks on the religious orders; it has likewise been assumed by a series of modern scholars, including Loserth (Realencyklopadie, 1908 ed., vol. xxi. p. 228, § 35), who only denies the deductions that Woodford drew from it. Dr Rashdall, on the other hand, following Shirley, brings evidence to show that the Wycliffe of Canterbury Hall could not have been the reformer, but was the same person as the fellow of Merton, this being the strongest argument against the identification of the latter with the reformer. The confusion is increased by the appearance of yet another " John Wyclif " or " Wiclif " on the ' A note is necessary as to the spelling of Wycliffe's name. Out of thirteen contemporary entries in documents, twelve give " y " in the first syllable. In not one of these is there a " ck " (though once a " kc ") (see F. D. Matthew in the Academy, June 7, 1884). The chroniclers, &c., offer every imaginable variety of spelling, and it is possible that one favourite form in more recent times, " Wickliffe,' derived its popularity from the old play on the name, ' nequam vita," which we find in Gascoigne. The spelling adopted in the present article is that of the village from which Wycliffe derived his name; it is also preferred by the editors of the Wycliffe Bible, by Milman and by Stubbs. "Wyclif " has the support of Shirley, of T: Arnold and of the Wyclif Society; while " Wiclif " is the popular form in Germany. 'Itinerary, Stow's transcript, Bodleian Library, Tanner MS. 464, f. 45 (Leland's original being mutilated at this place). Hearne misprinted the name " Spreswel " and thus. set all Wycliffe's biographers on a search after a vox nihili. The identification of Spreswell with the site of a vanished hamlet near Wycliffe on the Tees, about 1 m. from that of a supposed " Old Richmond," accepted by Loserth on the authority of Lechler, is unsupported by any trustworthy evidence. ' See a document of 1325 printed in the appendix to the Fourth Report of the Historical Manuscripts Commission, pp. 442 sq. Provision for theological study was made by the benefaction of Sir Philip Somerville in 134o (Lyte, Hist. of the Univ. of Oxford, p. 154, 1886). books of Queen's College, as paying rent for rooms as a " pensioner " or " commoner " for the years 1371–1372, 1374–1375 and 138o-1381. It has thus been commonly assumed (e.g. by Loserth) that the reformer was at one time in residence at Queen's, the date being given as 1363. It is probable, however, that the John \Viclif of the Queen's College accounts is the same as the John Wyclif who appears in the College computes for 1371–1372 as one of the " almonry boys " of the College, and, therefore, certainly not the reformer.' These questions, even that of the wardenship of Canterbury, are, however, essentially unimportant, unless we are prepared with Woodford to impute mean motives to a great man. What is certain is that long before Wycliffe had become a power outside Oxford his fame was established in the university. He was acknowledged supreme in the philosophical disputations of the schools, and his lectures were crowded. His influence was, however, purely academic, nor does it seem to have been inspired at the outset by any conscious opposition to the established order in the church; and, as Loserth points out, it was not until he was drawn into the arena of the politico-ecclesiastical conflicts of the day that Wycliffe became of world-importance. It has been generally assumed that this happened first in 1366, and that Wycliffe published his Determinatio quaedam de dontinio in support of the action of parliament in refusing the tribute demanded by Pope Urban V.; but Loserth has shown that this work, which contains the first trace of that doctrine of dominium or lordship which Wycliffe afterwards developed in a sense hostile to the whole papal system, must be assigned to a date some eight years later. Wycliffe, in fact, for some years to come had the reputation of a good " curialist." Had it been other-wise, the pope would scarcely have granted him (January 1373) a licence to keep his Westbury prebend even after he should have obtained one at Lincoln (Cal. Papal Letters, ed. Bliss and Twemlow, iv. 193). Moreover, it is uniformly asserted that Wycliffe fell into heresy after • his admission to the degree of doctor (Fast. Ziz. p. 2), and the papal document above quoted shows that he had only just become a doctor of theology, that is in 1372. This, of course, does not mean that Wycliffe's tendencies may not already have been sufficiently pronounced to call attention to him in high places as a possibly useful instrument for the anti-papal policy of John of Gaunt and his party. Evidence of royal favour was soon not wanting. On the 7th of April 1374, he was presented by the crown to the rectory of Lutterworth in Leicestershire, which he held until his death; and on the 26th of July he was nominated one of the royal envoys to proceed to Bruges to confer with the papal representatives on the long vexed question of " provisions " (q.v.). It is probable that he was attached to this mission as theologian, and that this was so is sufficient proof that he was not yet considered a persona ingrata at the Curia. The rank he took is shown by the fact that his name stands second, next after that of the bishop of Bangor, on the commission, and that he received pay at the princely rate of twenty shillings a day. The commission itself was appointed in consequence of urgent and repeated complaints on the part of the Commons; but the king was himself interested in keeping up the papal system of provisions and reservations, and the negotiations were practically fruitless. After his return to England Wycliffe lived chiefly at Lutterworth and Oxford, making frequent and prolonged visits to London, where his fame as a popular preacher was rapidly established. It is from this period, indeed, that dates the development of the trenchant criticisms of the folly and corruption of the clergy, which had gained him a ready hearing, into a systematic attack on the whole established order in the church. It was not at the outset the dogmatic, but the political elements 1 See H. T. Riley's remarks in the Second Report of the Historical Manuscripts Commission, appendix, pp. 141 sq. The appearance of a John \Vvclif on the books of Queen's led to the common mistake, repeated in M ilman's Hist. of Latin Christianity (bk. xiii. ch. vi)., that Wycliffe began his university career at Queen's Coliege. The whole question is argued at length by Dr Rashdall in the Diet. Nat. the papal system that provoked his censure. The negotiations at Bruges had doubtless strengthened the sympathy which he already felt for the anti-curial tendencies in English politics from Edward I.'s time onwards, and a final impulse was given by the attitude of the " Good Parliament " in 1376; in the autumn of that year he was reading his treatise on civil lordship (De civili dominio) to his students at Oxford. Of its propositions some, according to Loserth, were taken bodily from the 14o titles of the bill dealing with ecclesiastical abuses introduced in the parliament; but it may perhaps be questioned whether Wycliffe did not rather inspire the bill than the bill Wycliffe. However this may be, the reformer now for the first time publicly proclaimed the revolutionary doctrine that righteousness is the sole indefeasible title to dominion and to property, that an unrighteous clergy has no such title, and that the decision as to whether or no the property of ecclesiastics should be taken away rests with the civil power—" politicorum qui intendunt praxi et statui regnorum " (De civ. dom. i. 37, p. 269). It was unlikely that a doctrine so convenient to the secular authorities should long have remained a mere subject of obscure debate in'the schools; as it was, it was advertised abroad by the in-discreet zeal of its orthodox opponents, and Wycliffe could declare that it was not his fault if it had been brought down into the streets and " every sparrow twittered about it." If the position at which Wycliffe had now arrived was originally inspired, as Loserth asserts, by his intimate knowledge of and sympathy with the legislation of Edward I., i.e. by political rather than theological considerations, the necessity for giving. to it a philosophical and religious basis led inevitably to its development into a criticism not only of the political claims but of the doctrinal standpoint of the church. As a philosopher, indeed, Wycliffe was no more than the last of the conspicuous Oxford scholastics, and his philosophy is of importance mainly in so far as it determined his doctrine of dominium, and so set the direction in which his political and religious views were to develop. In the great controversy between Realism and Nominalism he stood on the side of the former, though his doctrine of universals showed the influence of the criticisms of Ockharn and the nominalists. He is Platonic in his conception of God as the forma rerum in whom the rationes exemplares exist eternally, being in fact his Word, who is omnia in omnibus (1 Cor. xv. 28) ; every creature in respect of its esse intelligibile is God, since every creature is in essence the same as the idea, and all rationes ideales are essentially the same as the Word of God (De dominio divino, pp. 42, 43). There is one ens, the ens analogum, which includes in itself and comprehends all other entia—all universals and all the individual parts of the universe (De dom. div. pp. 58 sq.). The process by which the primary ens is specificated, or by which a higher and more general class passes into sensible existence, is that it receives the addition of substantial form whereby it is rendered capable of acquiring qualities and other accidents (ibid. pp. 48 sq.). To Wycliffe the doctrine of arbitrary divine decrees was anathema. The will of God is his essential and eternal nature, by which all his acts are determined; it was thus with the creation, since God created all things in their primordial causes, as genera and species, or else in their material essences, secundum rationes absconditas seminales (ibid. p. 66). God's creation is conditioned by his own eternal nature; the world is therefore not merely one among an infinity of alternatives, an arbitrary selection, so to speak, but is the only possible world; it is, moreover, not in the nature of an eternal emanation from God, but was created at a given moment of time—to think otherwise would be to admit its absolute necessity, which would destroy free-will and merit. Since, however, all things came into being in this way, it follows that the creature can produce nothing save what God has already created' So then all human lordship is derived from the supreme overlordship of God and is inseparable from it, since whatever God gives to his servants is part of himself, from the first gift, which is the esse intelligibile, i.e. really the divine essence, down to those special gifts which flow from the communication of his Holy Spirit; so that in him we live and move and have our being. But, in giving, God does not part with the lordship of the thing given; his gifts are of the nature of fiefs, and whatever lordship the creature may possess is held subject to due service to the supreme overlord. Thus, as in feudalism, lordship is distinguished from possession. Lordship is 2 This leads to the question of predestination and free-will, in which Wycliffe takes a middle position with the aid of the Aristotelian distinction between that which is necessary absolutely and that which is necessary on a given supposition. God does not will sin, for he only wills that which has being, and sin is the negation of being; he necessitates men to perform actions which are in them-selves neither right nor wrong; they become right or wrong through man's free agency. not properly proprietary, and property is the result of sin; Christ and his apostles had none.' The service, however, by which lord-ship is held of God is righteousness and its works; it follows that the unrighteous forfeit their right to exercise it, and may be deprived of their possessions by competent authority. The question, of course, follows as to what this authority is, and this Wycliffe sets out to answer in the Determinatio quaedam de dominio and, more elaborately, in the De civili dominio. Briefly, his argument is that the church has no concern with temporal matters at all, that for the clergy to hold property is sinful, and that it is lawful for statesmen (polilici)—who are God's stewards in temporalsto take away the goods of such of the clergy as, by reason of their unrighteousness, no longer render the service by which they hold them. That the church was actually in a condition to deserve spoliation he refused, indeed—though only under pressure—to affirm; but his theories fitted in too well with the notorious aims of the duke of Lancaster not to rouse the bitter hostility of the endowed clergy. With the mendicant orders he continued for a while to be on good terms. Hitherto Wycliffe had made no open attack on the doctrinal system of the church, and for some time he had been allowed to spread his doctrines without hindrance. Early in 1377, however, Archbishop Sudbury summoned him to appear before the bishop of London, and answer certain charges laid against him. The nature of these accusations is not stated, but their purport can hardly be doubtful. On the 19th of February 1377, Wycliffe made his appearance at St Paul's. He was accompanied by the duke of Lancaster, by Lord Percy, marshal of England, and by four doctors of the four mendicant orders. The trial, however, came to nothing; before Wycliffe could open his mouth, the court was broken up by a rude brawl between his protectors and Bishop Courtenay, ending in a general riot of the citizens of London, who were so much enraged by the insult to their bishop in his own cathedral church—coming as this did at the same time as a serious attempt at an invasion by the duke in parliament of their civic liberties (Chron. Angl. p. 12o)—that they would have sacked his palace of the Savoy had not Courtenay himself intervened. Wycliffe had escaped for the time, but his enemies did not rely solely on their own weapons. Probably before this they had set their case before the pope; and on the 22nd of May five bulls were issued by Gregory XI., who had just returned to Rome from Avignon, condemning eighteen (or in other copies nineteen) " conclusions " drawn from Wycliffe's writings. All the articles but one are taken from his De civili dominio. The bulls truly stated Wycliffe's intellectual lineage; he was following in the error of Marsilius of Padua; and the articles laid against him are concerned entirely with questions agitated between church and state—how far ecclesiastical censures could lawfully affect a man's civil position, and whether the church had a right to receive and hold temporal endowments. The bulls were addressed to the archbishop of Canterbury and the bishop of London, the university of Oxford, and the king. The university was to take Wycliffe and send him to the prelates; the latter were then to examine the truth of the charges and to report to the pope, Wycliffe being meanwhile kept in confinement. The execution of the papal bulls was impeded by three separate causes—the king's death on the 21st of June; the tardy action of the bishops, who enjoined the university to make a report, instead of simply sending Wycliffe to them; and the unwillingness of the university to admit external authority, and, above all, the pope's right to order the imprisonment of any man in England. The convocation of the university, indeed, as the St Albans i See R. L. Poole's preface to his edition of the De dominio divino, where Wycliffe's indebtedness to Richard Fitz Ralph, archbishop of Armagh, for his views on lordship and property is shown at some length (pp. xxxiv sq.). Fitz Ralph had been a fellow of Balliol, and was vice-chancellor-of the university in or about 1333 (A. a Wood, Fasti Oxon p. 21, ed. Catch, 1790). The first four books of his De pauperie Salvatoris were edited by R. L. Poole for the Wycliffe Society, and published in 1890 in an appendix to the edition of the De dominio divino. Fitz Ralph also taught that lordship was conditioned by grace, and that property had come into the world with sin. Fitz Ralph's work was, however, directed to the settlement of the controversy raised by the mendicant orders as to " possession " and " use "; Wycliffe extended the scope of the doctrine so as to include all civil and ecclesiastical society.chronicler2 states with lamentation, made serious objections to receiving the bull at all; and in the end it merely directed Wycliffe to keep within his lodgings at Black Hall for a time. If the university was disposed to favour the reformer, the government was not less so. John of Gaunt was for the moment in retirement; but the mother of the young king appears to have adopted his policy in church affairs, and she naturally occupied a chief position in the new council. As soon as parliament met in the autumn of 1377, Wycliffe was consulted by it as to the lawfulness of prohibiting that treasure should pass out of the country in obedience to the pope's demand. Wycliffe's affirmative judgment is contained in a state paper still extant; and its tone is plain proof enough of his confidence that his views on the main question of church and state had the support of the nation.3 Indeed he had laid before this same parliament his answer to the pope's bulls, with a defence of the soundness of his opinions. His university, moreover, confirmed his argument; his tenets, it said, were true (i.e. orthodox), though their expression was such as to admit of an incorrect interpretation. But Wycliffe was still bound to clear himself before the prelates who had summoned him, and early in 1378 he appeared for this purpose in the chapel of Lambeth Palace. His written defence, expressed in some respects in more cautious language than he had previously used, was laid before the council; but its session was rudely interrupted, not only by an inroad of the London citizens with a crowd of the rabble, but also by a messenger from the princess of Wales enjoining them not to pass judgment against Wycliffe; and thus a second time he escaped, either without sentence, or at most with a gentle request that he would avoid discussing the matters in question. Meanwhile his " protestatio " was sent on to Rome. Before, however, any further step could be taken at Rome, Gregory XI. died. In the autumn of this year Wycliffe was once more called upon to prove his loyalty to John of Gaunt. The duke had violated the sanctuary of Westminster by sending a band of armed men to seize two squires who had taken refuge there. One of them was taken by a stratagem, the other murdered, together with the servant of the church who attempted to resist his arrest. After a while the bishop of London excommunicated all concerned in the crime (except only the king, his mother and his uncle), and preached against the culprits at Paul's Cross. At the parliament held at Gloucester in October, in the presence of the legates of Pope Urban VI., Wycliffe read an apology for the duke's action at Westminster, pleading that the men were killed in resisting legal arrest. The paper, which forms part of the De ecclesia, lays down the permissible limits of the right of asylum, and maintains the right of the civil power to invade the sanctuary in order to bring escaped prisoners to justice. The schism in the papacy, owing to the election of Clement VII. in opposition to Urban VI., accentuated Wycliffe's hostility to the Holy See and its claims. His attitude was not, indeed, as yet fully developed. He did not object to a visible head of the church so long as this head possessed the essential qualification of righteousness, as a member of the elect. It was only later, with the development of the scandals of the schism, that Wycliffe definitely branded the pope, qua pope, as Antichrist; 4 the sin of Silvester I. in accepting the donation of Constantine had made all his successors apostates (Sermones, ii. 37). The year 1378, indeed, saw the beginning of an agressive propaganda which was bound sooner or later to issue in a position wholly revolutionary. Wycliffe's criticism of the established order and of the accepted doctrines had hitherto been mainly 2 When he says that the bull was only received at Oxford shortly before Christmas, he is apparently confounding it with the prelates' mandate, which is dated December 18 (Lewis, appendix xvii.).—Chron. Angl. p. 173. 3 In one text of this document a note is appended, to the effect that the council enjoined silence on the writer as touching the matter therein contained (Fasciculi Zizaniorum, p. 271). This, if true, was apparently a measure of precaution. 4 So he describes the popes in the first sermon in vol. ii. of the Sermones. This may very probably refer to the two rival popes (cf. Buddensieg, Polemical Works, intr. p. xxi). Book iii. of his Opus evangelicum is also significantly entitled De Antichristo. confined to the schools; he now determined to carry it down into the streets. For this purpose he chose two means, both based on the thesis which he had long maintained as to the supreme authority of Holy Scripture, as the great charter of the Christian religion. The first means was his institution of the "poor" or "simple" priests to preach his doctrines throughout the country; the second was the translation of the Vulgate into English, which he accomplished with the aid of his friends Nicholas Hereford and John Purvey (see BIBLE, ENGLISH). This version of the Bible, and still more his numerous sermons and tracts, established Wycliffe's now undisputed position as the founder of English prose writing. The choice of secular priests to be his itinerant preachers was significant of another change of attitude on Wycliffe's part. Hitherto he had been on good terms with the friars, whose ideal of poverty appealed to him; as already mentioned, four doctors of the mendicant orders had appeared with him at his trial in 1377. But he had come to recognize that all organized societies within the church, " sects " as he called them, were liable to the same corruption, while he objected fundamentally to the principle which had established a special standard of morality for the " religious." On the other hand. Wycliffe's itinerant preachers were not necessarily intended to work as rivals to the beneficed clergy. The idea that underlay their mission was rather analogous to that which animated Wesley four centuries later. Wycliffe aimed at supplementing the services of the church by regular religious instruction in the vernacular; and his organization included a good number of men who held or had held respectable positions in their colleges at Oxford. The influence of their teaching was soon felt throughout the country. The common people were rejoiced by the plain and homely doctrine which dwelt chiefly on the simple " law " of the gospel, while they no doubt relished the denunciation of existing evils in the church which formed, as it were, the burthen of such discourses. The feeling of disaffection against the rich and careless clergy, monks and friars was widespread but undefined. Wycliffe turned it into a definite channel. Meanwhile, in addition to his popular propaganda and his interventions in politics, Wycliffe was appealing to the world of learning in a series of Latin treatises, which followed each other in rapid succession, and collectively form his summa theologiae 1 During the years 1378 and 1379 he produced his works on the truth of Holy Scripture, on the church, on the office of king, on the papal power. Of all these, except the third, the general character has already been indicated. The De officio regis is practically a declaration of war against the papal monarchy, an anticipation of the theocratic conception of national kingship as established later by the Reformation. The king is God's vicar, to be regarded with a spiritual fear second only to that due to God, and resistance to him for personal wrong suffered is wicked. His jurisdiction extends over all causes. The bishops—who are to the king as Christ's Humanity is to his Divinity—derive their jurisdiction from him, and whatever they do is done by his authority? Thus in his palpable dignity, towards the world, the king is superior to the priest; it is only in his impalpable dignity, towards God, that the priest is superior to the king. Wycliffe thus passed from an assailant of the papal to an assailant of the sacerdotal power; and in this way he was ultimately led to examine and to reject the distinctive symbol of that power, the doctrine of transubstantiation.' i J. Loserth, in his paper " Die Genesis von Wiclifs Summa Theologiae " (Sitzungsber. der k. Akad. der Wissensch., Vienna, 1908, vol. 156) gives proofs that the Summa was not produced on a previously thought out plan, but that even the larger works forming part of it " were the outcome of those conflicts which were fought out inside and outside the Good Parliament," i.e. they were primarily intended as weapons in the ecclesiastico-political controversies of the time. : Episcopi, sui qffieiales et curati sui, tenentur in qualicunque tali causa spiritualiter cognoscere auctoritate regis; ergo rex per Glos. Sunt enim tales legii homines regis. See De officio regis (ed. A. W. Pollard and Charles Sayle, from Vienna MSS. 4514, 3933, Wyclif Soc. 1887), cap. vi. p. 119. 3 Sporadic attacks had been made on this before, though it had not been formally challenged in the schools. See the interesting case of the heretic priest Ralph of Tremur in the Register of John de Grandison, Bishop of Exeter, edited by F. C. Hingeston-Randolph (London and Exeter, 1894), pp. 1147 and 1179. Wycliffe himself had for some time, both in speech and writing, indicated the main characteristics of his teaching on the Eucharist. It was not, however, till 1379 or 13804 that began a formal public attack on what he calls the " new " doctrine in a set of theses propounded at Oxford. These were followed by sermons, tracts, and, in 1381, by his great treatise De eucharistia. Finally, at the close of his life, he summed up his doctrine in this as in other matters in the Trialogus. The language in which he denounced transubstantiation anticipated that of the Protestant reformers: it is a " blasphemous folly," a " deceit," which " despoils the people and leads them to commit idolatry "; philosophically it is nonsense, since it presupposes the possibility of an accident existing without its substance; it over. throws the very nature of a sacrament. Yet the consecrated bread and wine are the body and blood of Christ, for Christ himself says so (Fasc. Zizan. p. 115) ; we do not, however, corporeally touch and break the Lord's body, which is present only sacramentaliter, spiritualiter et virtualiter—as the soul is present in the body. The real presence is not denied ; what Wycliffe " dares not affirm " is that the bread is after consecration " essentially, substantially, corporeally and identically " the body of Christ (ib.). His doctrine, which was by no means always consistent or clear, would thus seem to approximate closely to the Lutheran doctrine of consubstantiation, as distinguished from the Zwinglian teaching accepted in the xxviii. Article of Religion of the Church of England, that " the means whereby the body of Christ is received and eaten in the Supper is Faith." 6 A public attack by a theologian of Wycliffe's influence on the doctrine on which the whole system of the medieval church was based could not be passed over as of mere academic interest. The theologians of the university were at once aroused. The chancellor, William Barton, sat with twelve doctors (six of whom were friars), and solemnly condemned the theses. Wycliffe appealed, in accordance with his principles, not to the pope, but to the king. But the lay magnates, who were perfectly ready to help the church to attain to the ideal of apostolic poverty, shrank from the responsibility of lending their support to obscure propositions of the schools, which, for no practical end, involved undoubted heresy and therefore the pains of hell. John of Gaunt, accordingly, hastily sent down a messenger enjoining the reformer to keep silence on the subject. The rift thus created between Wycliffe and his patrons in high places was, moreover, almost immediately widened by the outbreak of the great Peasants' Revolt of 1381, the result of which was to draw the conservative elements in church and state together, in defence of their common interests. With the Peasants' Revolt it has been supposed that Wycliffe had something to do. The only positive fact implicating him is the confession of one of its leaders, Jphn Ball, that he learned his subversive doctrines from Wycliffe. But the confession of a condemned man can seldom be accepted without reserve; and we have not only the precise and repeated testimony of Knyghton that he was a " precursor " of Wycliffe, but also documentary evidence that he was excommunicated as early as 1366, long before Wycliffe exposed himself to ecclesiastical censure. Wycliffe in truth was always careful to state his communistic views in a theoretical way; they are confined to his Latin scholastic writings, and thus could not reach the people from him directly. At the same time it is very possible that his less scrupulous followers translated them in their popular discourses, and thus fed the flame that burst forth in the rebellion. Perhaps it was a consciousness of a share of responsibility for it that led them to cast the blame on the friars. In any case Wycliffe's advocates must regret that in all his known works there is only one trace of any reprobation of the excesses that accompanied the outbreak. 4 1381 (corrected by the editor from 1380) is the date given in Shirley's edition of the Fasciculi Zizaniorum. F. D. Matthew, in the Eng. Hist. Rev. for April 1890 (v. 328), proves that the date must have been 1379 or 1380. Trialogus, lib. iv., cap. 22 ; De Euch. p. 2440. 4 The difference is summed up by Melanchthon, in his rejection of Bucer's eirenicon, thus :—Fucum faciunt hominibus per hoc quod dicunt vere adesse corpus, et tamen postea addunt contemplation fidei, i.e. imaginatione. Sic iterum negant praesentiam realem. Nos docemus, quod corpus Christi vere et realiter adest cum pane vel in pane (Corpus Reformatorum, ii. 222 sq.). In the spring following the Revolt his old enemy, William Courtenay, who had succeeded the murdered archbishop Sudbury as archbishop of Canterbury, resolved to take measures for stamping out Wycliffe's crowning heresy. He called a court of bishops, theologians and canonists at the Blackfriars' convent in London, which assembled on the 17th to 21st of May and sat with intervals until July. This proceeding was met by a hardly expected manifestation of university feeling on Wycliffe's side. The chancellor, Robert Rygge, though he had joined in the condemnation of the theses, stood by him, as did also both the proctors. On Ascension Day (the 15th of May) his most prominent disciple, Nicholas Hereford, was allowed to preach a violent sermon against the regulars in the churchyard of St Frideswyde. The archbishop protested through his commissary, the Carmelite Dr Peter Stokes, who was charged with the execution of the archbishop's mandate (on the 28th of May) for the publication in the university of the decision of the Blackfriars' council, by which 24 articles extracted from Wycliffe's works were condemned, ten as heretical and fourteen as erroneous. The reply of the chancellor was to deny the archbishop's jurisdiction within the university, and to allow Philip Repington, another of Wycliffe's disciples, to preach on Corpus Christi day before the university. Chancellor and preacher were guarded by armed men, and Stokes wrote that his life was not safe at Oxford. The chancellor and proctors were now summoned to Lambeth, and directed to appear before the Blackfriars' court on the 12th of June. The result was that the university officers were soon brought to submission. Though they were, with the majority of regent masters at Oxford, on the side of Wycliffe, the main question at issue was for them one of philosophy rather than faith, and they were quite prepared to make formal submission to the authority of the Church. For the rest, a few of the reformer's more prominent adherents were arrested, and imprisoned until they recanted. Wycliffe himself remained at large and unmolested. It is said indeed by Knyghton that at a council held by Courtenay at Oxford in the following November Wycliffe was brought forward and made a recantation; but our authority fortunately gives the text of the recantation, which proves to be nothing more nor less than a plain English statement of the condemned doctrine. It is therefore lawful to doubt whether Wycliffe appeared before the council at all, and even whether he was ever summoned before it. Probably after the overthrow of his party at Oxford by the action of the Blackfriars' council Wycliffe found it advisable to withdraw permanently to Lutterworth. That his strength among the laity was undiminished is shown by the fact that an ordinance passed by the House of Lords alone, in May 1382, against the itinerant preachers was annulled on the petition of the Commons in the following autumn. In London, Leicester and elsewhere there is abundant evidence of his popularity. The reformer, however, was growing old. There was work, -he probably felt, for him to do, more lasting than personal controversy. So in his retirement he occupied him-self, with restless activity, in writing numerous tracts, Latin and English. To this period, too, belong two of his most important works:--the Trialogus and the unfinished Opus evengelicum. The Trialogus is as it were his summa summarum theologise, a summing up of his arguments and conclusions on philosophy and doctrine, cast in the form of a discussion between three persons, Alithia, representing " solid theology," Phronesis, representing " subtle and mature theology," and Pseustis, representing " captious infidelity " whose function is to bring out the truth by arguing and demonstrating against it. The Trialogus was the best known and most influential of all Wycliffe's works, and was the first to he printed (1525), a fact which gave it a still greater vogue. It is also significant that all the only four known complete MSS. of the work, pre-erved in the Imperial Library at Vienna, are of Hussite origin. The note of both the Trialogus and of the Opus evangelicum, Wycliffe's last work, is their insistence on the " sufficiency of Holy Scripture." In 1382, or early in 1383, Wycliffe was seized with a paralytic stroke, in spite of which he continued his labours. In 1384 it is stated that he was cited by Pope Urban VI. to appear before himat Rome; but to Rome he never went. On the 28th of December of this year, while he was hearing mass in his own church, he received a final stroke, from the effects of which he died on the New Year's eve. He was buried at Lutterworth; but by a decree of the council of Constance, May 4, 1415, his remains were ordered to be dug up and burned, an order which was carried out, at the command of Pope Martin V., by Bishop Fleming in 1428. A sober study of Wycliffe's life and works justifies a conviction of his complete sincerity and earnest striving after what he believed to be right. If he cannot be credited (as he has been by most of his biographers) with all the Protestant virtues, he may at least claim to have discovered the secret of the immediate dependence of the individual Christian upon God, a relation which needs no mediation of any priest, and to which the very sacraments of the Church, however desirable, are not essentially necessary. When he divorces the idea of the Church from any connexion with its official or formal constitution, and conceives it as consisting exclusively of the righteous, he may seem to have gone the whole length of the most radical reformers of the 16th century. And yet, powerful as was his influence in England, his doctrines in his own country were doomed to perish, or at best to become for a century and a half the creed of obscure and persecuted sectaries (see LOLLARDS). It was otherwise in Bohemia, whither his works had been carried by the scholars who came to England in the train of Richard II.'s queen, Anne of Bohemia. Here his writings were eagerly read and multiplied, and here his disciple, John Huss (q.v.), with less originality but greater simplicity of character and greater moral force, raised Wycliffe's doctrine to the dignity of a national religion. Extracts from the De ecclesia and the De potentate Papae of the English reformer made up the greater part of the De ecclesia of Huss, a work for centuries ascribed solely to the Bohemian divine, and for which he was condemned and burnt. It was Wycliffe's De sucientia legis Christi that Huss carried with him to convert the council of Constance; of the fiery discourses now included in the published edition of Wycliffe's Sermones many were like-wise long attributed to Huss. Finally, it was from the De eucharistia that the Taborites derived their doctrine of the Lord's Supper, with the exception of the granting of the chalice to the laity. To Huss, again, Luther and other continental reformers owed much, and thus the spirit of the English reformer had its influence on the reformed churches of Europe. Of modern biographies that by G. V. Lechler (Johann von Wiclif and die Vorgeschichte der Reformaticn, 2 vols., Leipzig, 1873; partial Eng. trans., by P. Lorimer, 1878, 1881 and 1884) is by far the most comprehensive; it includes a detailed exposition of the reformer's system, based to a considerable extent on works which were then unpublished. Shirley's masterly introduction to the Fasciculi Zizaniorumn, and F. D. Matthew's to his edition of English Wo-ks of Wyclif hitherto unprinted (188o), as well as Creighton's History of the Papacy, vol. i., 1882, and Sir H. C. Maxwell Lyte's account in his History of the University of Oxford (1886), add to or correct our stock of biographical materials, and contain much valuable criticism. Wycliffe's political doctrine is discussed by Mr R. L. Poole (Illustrations of the History of Medieval Thought, 1884) ; and his relation to Huss is elaborately demonstrated by Dr J. Loserth (Hus and Wiclif, Prague, 1884; also Eng. trans.). See also G. M. Trevelyan, England in the Age of Wycliffe (London, 1899)_ Oman, History of England 1377-1485 (London, 1906), pp. 511 tt. for authorities; W. W. Capes, "History of the English Church in the 14th and 15th Centuries," in Hist. of the Eng. Church, ed. Stephen and Hunt (London, 1900). Many references to more recent monographs on particular points will he found in J. Loserth's article " Wiciil," in Herzog-Hauck, Realencyklopadie (3rd ed., 1908), xxi. pp. 225-227. Wycliffe's works are enumerated in a Catalogue by Shirley (Oxford, 1865). Of his Latin works only two had been published previously to 188o, the De officio pastorali, ed. G. V. Lechler (Leipzig, 1863) and the Trialogus, ed. Lechler (Oxford, 1869). The pious hope expressed by the learned editor of the Trialogus in his preface, that English scholars might be moved to publish all Wycliffe's Latin works, began to be realized in 1882 with the foundation at Oxford of the Wyclif Society, under the auspices of which the following have been published:—Polemical Tracts, ed. R. Buddensieg, (2 vols., 1883) ; De civili dominio, vol. i. ed. R. L. Poole, vols. ii.-iv., ed. J. Loserth (1885-1905); De composicione hominis, ed. R. Beer (1884); De Ecclesia, ed. Loserth (1886); Dialogus sive speculum ecclesiae militantis, ed. A. W. Pollard (1886); Sermones, ed. Loserth, vas. i.-iv. (1887-1890); De officio regis, ed. A. W. Pollard and C. Sayle (1887); De apostasia, ed. M. Dziewicki (1889); De dominio divino, ed. R. L. Poole (1890) ; Quaestiones. De ente praedicamentali, ed. R. Beer (1891) ; De eucharistia tractatus major, ed. Loserth (1893) ; De blasphemia, ed. Dziewicki (1894); Logica (3 vols., ed. Dziewicki, 1895-1899) ; Opus evangelicunz, ed. Loserth (4 vols., 1898), parts iii. and iv. also bear the title De Antichristo; De Simonia, ed. Herzberg-Frankel and Dziewicki (1898); De veritatae sacrae scripturae, ed. R. Buddensieg (3 vols., 1905); Miscellanea philosophica, ed. Dziewicki (2 vols., 1905) (vol. i. has an introduction on Wycliffe's philosophy); De potentate papae, ed. Loserth (1907). For Wycliffe's English works see Select English Works, ed. T. Arnold (3 vols., 1869-1871), and English Works hitherto unprinted, ed. F. D. Matthew (188o), chiefly sermons and short tracts, of many of which the authenticity is uncertain. The Wicket (Nuremberg, 1546; reprinted at Oxford, 1828) is not included in either of these collections. (R. L. P.; W. A. P.)
End of Article: WILLIAM WYCHERLEY (c. 1640-1716)
JAMES WYATT (1746–1813)

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