Cambridge, Trinity College, B. 14. 52 Homilies; "Poema Morale"

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Jonathan Wilcox


79. Cambridge, Trinity College, B. 14. 52

Homilies; "Poema Morale"

[Ker p. xix, Gneuss -]

HISTORY: James (1900: 459) dates the two main scribes to the 13c, although Ker observes that the collection "may have been written before 1200" (Cat., xix). There is no external evidence for localizing the manuscript, although the dialect suggests an origin in the south-east or East Anglia, specifically London (see Hill 1977: 107) or south Cambridgeshire (Laing and McIntosh 1995: 33). There is little sign of contemporary medieval use. The main scribes correct a few errors and there are corrections probably in a different hand in darker ink at ff. 78r/9, 80r/16, 83r/17 and 20. Blank spaces were used for some 13c additions. On f. lra/ 1-21 is the beginning of a Litany of the Virgin in a 13c hand (dated by James 1900: 460), while a homily on Isaiah 11.1 has been added in a 13c hand to ff. 87v/ 1-88r/ 12 (item 36; see Hill 1966: 192). Heavily faded fragmentary text in Latin has been added at the foot of the page at ff. 33v-34r, 47v-48r, and 55v. James (1900: 462) characterizes similar faded writing that appears on ff. 89v-90r as 13c prayers. There are also further hints of text sometimes evident in the gutter, as at f. 14r, though these may_reflect written text used as binding strips. While medieval signs of use are slight, early modern signs of use abound. There is a 15c inscription on f. 1 v, 'Rithmus anglic<us> cu<m> omiliis angl<icis> in hoc vol<wn>ine | c<on>tinent<ur>', and the end blank leaves include two names on f. 88r in a 15c hand, read as 'S<er> Thomas Stone (or Stow)' and 'S<er> John Newson', but as not further identifiable (by Hill 1966: 200, n. 2; Laing and McIntosh read the second as 'John Newbor<e>', 1995: 43, n. 5). The inscription is picked up by a heading 'Rithmus Anglicus' in a 16c (?) hand on f. ii verso. The blank space on f. 1r is used for a 16c table of contents, itemizing all the homilies, keyed to an early foliation. F. 1 v has, in addition to the 15c inscription, an astrological dating, and six lines of Latin hexameters and pentameters, beginning 'Abdita qua: tenebra<n>s', and signed WP or WL. Hill (1966) identifies this as the work of William Patten (fl. 1528-1590), written out in the hand of his son, Thomas (b. 1561 ). Hill reads the dating formula at the top of the page as 23 September 1583, the date of Archbishop John Whitgift's enthronement at Canterbury. Whitgiftwas Master ofTrinity College 1567-1577 and Archbishop 1583-1604. At the foot of the same page are eleven lines of a truncated letter written in English (printed by Hill 1966: 195). The letter recommends the writer of the above verses to 'yo' grace' for his knowledge of antiquities, and including an allusion to the scholar's knowledge of Armenian. Hill identifies the scholar as William Patten, a wide-ranging 16c humanist scholar. Hill suggests that the letter may have been written by Henry Carey, Lord Chamberlain Hunsdon (1524?-1596), since the hand bears a resemblance to a letter written by him on 1 January 1587. She identifies the ecclesiastic addressed in the letter as probably Archbishop Whitgift, or perhaps Archbishop Parker. A heading, 'Homilia: Anglica:', is written at the head off. 10r, and Hill (1966: 193-94) identifies interlinear and marginal glosses in six different hands. There is also extensive penciled underlining and annotations, particularly in the latter part of the manuscript: there are penciled cross-references to variations on the phrase 'was teames atold' at ff. 55r/ 5, 57v/ 18, 58r/ 19, for example. The flyleaves include an extensive doctrinal index to the contents of Quires II- XI in the hand of Abraham Whelock, Cambridge University's first lecturer in Anglo-Saxon (1593-1653) (as is also the case in, for example, Cambridge, Corpus Christi College 419 [58]). A-J are indexed on ff. i verso-ii verso, K-Z on ff. 91 r-93r. The hand is identified in pencil at the foot off. ii recto. Whelock also described the volume in an inscription at the head off. i verso, 'Hie codex MS. fidem p<ro>testantiu<m> in p<er>multis | multum ornat. Legi & |perlegi. A.W.'. Postdating this table are three shelf-marks of Trinity College Library on f. i recto, namely R. 15.17 (deleted), a number now scribbled over, and the current numbering, B. 14. 52, while on f. 1v is a modern Trinity College Cambridge Library stamp. The manuscript was given to Trinity College by Archbishop Whitgift (d. 1604), whose coat of arms is on the covers, and who was presumably responsible for the present binding. The endleaves include an inserted half-page slip, f. 91A, recording in ink on the recto 'This mss. belongs to | TrinityCollege- library | in Cambrige [sic .]'. The book was rebound and repaired in October 1984 by Cockerell. The current binding retains original dark brown calf binding over pulp boards, the faded embossed coat of arms in gold on front and back, and the fittings for two clasps on front and back. 'Homilia: Anglica:' is tooled in gold on the spine. 

[Binder's note on final flyleaf: 'DC6820 Condition when received: binding rebacked dark brown calf, over pulp boards, a very heavy impression of arms in gold on both boards, most of the gold missing, two clasps clasping on the back board, crossovers missing, red lettering piece. Book sewn on four white thongs, thongs broken, sewing broken, gatherings free, vellum leaves in good condition though very heavily cropped, coloured edges. Book taken down, damaged leaves guarded and repaired, resewn on four cords to the old marking up.]

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