Cambridge, Trinity College B.15.34 (369) Homilies by Ælfric

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Jonathan Wilcox


80. Cambridge, Trinity College B.15.34 (369)

Homilies by Ælfric

[Ker 86, Gneuss 177]

HISTORY: Written in a single hand of mid-11c, perhaps at Christ Church, Canterbury since Ker thinks the same scribe wrote British Library, Harley 2892, the "Canterbury Benedictional" (Ker, Cat., 132; cf. Woolley 1917: pis. I, II, III). A Canterbury origin receives some confirmation from the drawing on p. 1, which has some resemblances to drawings in London, BL Royal LE.vii and BL Arundel 155 (175], both from Christ Church, Canterbury (Wormald 1952: no. 15). The manuscript probably did not remain in Canterbury, since it is not recorded in the Canterbury catalogues (Keynes 1992: 35) and corrections are not in a south-eastern dialect (Ker, Cat., 132).

Extensive corrections and alterations attest to interest in the manuscript, some from close to the time of first writing (described in the codicological description below), others from the second half of the 12c (Ker, Cat., 130). These include English glosses, as at p. 56/6, where 'frecednessa' is glossed above the line '<ve>l hermunge'. Such glosses tend to come in clusters, as in the marking of various forms of unrotnys as 'sorinesse' on p. 81. Other alterations vary in intensity through the manuscript. Latin marginalia include a pen scribble on p. 19 in the margin running sideways in a handsome small hand that is identified by James (1900: 501) as belonging to the 11c: 'Omnia uinc<it> amo [sic] Omniam Omnia uinc<it> amor <et> nos cedam<us> amori. Dicite pierid'. What looks like the same hand writes another note sideways in the margin at p. 119, 'pater noster', beside a passage also marked by a later user (pp. 119/8-123/8), which oddly does not describe the Pater Noster (included in the next homily) but instead describes the miracle of the calming of the waters. A pen scribble at the head of p. 103 records 'p(ro)batio pennf A handsome small hand has written 'mem<en>to' at p. 106/7-8 beside '7 pu nates hwon ne sregest. nan bigspel nu us: A significantly later (turn of 12/13c) hand has inserted the creed in Latin in the margin of p. 157 beside the OE creed in the text, for which insertion lineation has been drawn in pencil. Probably the same hand makes a gloss without the pencil lineation at p. 160.

The manuscript presumably belonged to Archbishop Matthew Parker, and certainly to his son, John Parker, whose signature is on the opening flyleaves, partly cropped at the top of p. ii, in the same red chalk-pencil as the pagination. The manuscript received the full attention of Parker's circle. On p. ii there is a Parkerian table of contents, headed 'Index sermonu<m> ut legunt<u>r' in red ink and followed by a table, written in black ink with red joining strokes, keyed to the present pagination. The same page has a black ink heading, now partly cropped, probably saying 'Sermonum liber: Some cross-references refer to other manuscripts from Parker's collection. A black ink hand has included two such cross-references discreetly in the text. Item 1 on p. 3 has the notation 'fo. 196' on the top left margin, and item 2 has 'fo. 226; referring to other versions of the homilies in Cambridge Corpus Christi College 198 [41]. Parker was probably responsible for the reversing of pp. 1-2 such that the portrait of Christ as judge faces the reader on opening the book rather than occupying the more structurally sheltered position facing the text, which the direction of the ruling suggests was the original position (see Ker, Cat., p. 132). Such a movement would be in keeping with Parker's rearrangement of his manuscripts and his pleasure in frontispieces, evident also in his rearrangement of Cambridge Corpus Christi College 419 [58] and Cambridge Corpus Christi College 421 [59] (see further Page 1993: 51 and Wilcox 2000: 8). He may have been responsible for seeing the ending of item 27 supplied on the flyleaf at p. 433 in a hard-to-date imitative hand. The manuscript is included as no. 44 in the list of John Parker's manuscripts in London, Lambeth Palace, MS 737 (see Strongman 1977: 16).

Antiquarian interest is evident throughout the manuscript, including underlining in the text and occasional marks in the margin (as at pp. 8/5, 19/7), extensive at places (as on pp. 70-73), most likely made by William Clsle (1569?-1637; see Lee 2000: 220 n. 30). The flyleaves (pp. iii-viii; 434- 38) were used for a doctrinal index which is probably the work of Abraham Whelock (1593-1653), as with other Cambridge manuscripts, including Cambridge University Library Gg. 3. 28 [95], Cambridge, Trinity College B. 14. 52 [79], and Cambridge Corpus Christi College 419 [58). Headed 'Homilire quredam Saxonice', letters A-M are on ff. iii-viii, N (which is blank) covers the blank space after the main text on p. 433, 0 and P are on p. 434, and R-Z are on pp. 436-38. The index fits confidently below the last six lines of item 27 supplied by the imitative hand on p. 433; both supply text and index may have been produced in the same campaign. What looks like the hand of the index has also provided some cross-references in the margin of the text, as at pp. 230, 244,261, and 295.

The manuscript was bequeathed to Trinity College by Archbishop Whitgift (d. 1604), whose coat of arms has been added to the cover. Some of the annotations and cross-references in ink and in pencil probably postdate the move to Trinity College.

[Note: At Trinity, it formerly bore the designation B. 9. 26: the number '26' is written in black ink on the fore-edge, 'B. 9. 26' is boldly written in black ink at the top right on p. ii and struck through, and the same designation is written more scratchily in a box in the lower left margin of p. ii and has not been deleted. 'Omilia. Saxoni [ 26' pasted on the inside cover records the same designation, which is the one used in Wanley's description (1705: 166-67). The current classmark, 'B. XV. 34; is written in black ink on p. ii at the top on the left and is also written in pencil on the inside front cover, while a stamp, 'Trinity College [ Cambridge [ Library', has been applied at the foot of p. 1 and p. 3. Page 2 has received a pasted-in square of paper with the arms and ex libris of Trinity College. The outer spine has B, 15, 34 attached in three separate paper boxes.]

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