White, Stephen (DNB00)

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search

WHITE, STEPHEN (1575–1647?), Irish jesuit, born in 1575, was a native of Clonmel (Hogan, Hibernia Ignatiana, p. 229). He was educated at the Irish seminary at Salamanca, where he was a reader in philosophy. He joined the jesuits in 1596. In 1606 he became professor of scholastic theology at Ingoldstadt, and returned to Spain in 1609 (ib. p. 179), but did not live there long. John Lynch describes him as ‘doctor and emeritus professor of theology at Ingoldstadt, Dillingen, and other places in Germany; a man full of almost every kind of learning’ (Cambrensis Eversus, ii. 394). He was for a long time rector of the college at Cassel. He is chiefly remembered for his labours among Irish manuscripts preserved in German monasteries, and may be said to have opened that rich mine. He corresponded in a friendly way with Ussher, who acknowledges his courtesy and testifies to his immense knowledge, not only of Irish antiquities, but of those of all nations. He was a good Hebrew scholar.

In 1621 White transcribed at Dillingen a manuscript of Adamnan's life of St. Columba, lent to him for the purpose by the Benedictines of Reichenau, and now preserved at Schaffhausen. This is the most important of the manuscripts used by Reeves in settling the standard text. White lent his transcript to Ussher before 1639, when the latter published his great work on ecclesiastical antiquities. Ussher prints a long extract from an unpublished life of Columba which Reeves believed to have been written by White. The ‘Tertia Vita S. Brigidæ’ printed by John Colgan [q. v.] in his ‘Trias Thaumaturga’ was transcribed by White from a very old manuscript at St. Magnus, Ratisbon. Colgan calls him ‘vir patriarum antiquitatum scientissimus et sitientissimus.’ At St. Magnus he also found a manuscript life of St. Erhard, and sent a transcript to Ussher. At Kaiserheim White transcribed for Hugh Boy Macanward [q. v.] the life of Colman, patron saint of Austria. He also copied manuscripts at Biberach and at Metz. White was long resident at Schaffhausen, and is sometimes spoken of as ‘Scaphusio-Helvetius.’ His best known work, the ‘Apologia pro Hiberniâ,’ is believed to have been written as early as 1615, and was long supposed to be lost. Lynch used an imperfect copy for his ‘Cambrensis Eversus.’ The manuscript from which the ‘Apologia’ is printed was found in the Burgundian library at Brussels in 1847.

White was in Ireland from 1638 to 1640, and gratefully acknowledges the kindness of Ussher, who often asked him to dinner (‘quod modestè renui’), and who admitted him freely to his house and library (letter to Colgan). White appears to have been alive in 1647, when Colgan published his ‘Trias Thaumaturga,’ but nothing is known of him after that date.

Of White's numerous works the following are printed in the ‘Bibliotheca Historico-philologico-theologica,’ Bremen, 1719–25: 1. ‘Dissertatio de genuinâ humanæ libertatis naturâ atque indole.’ 2. ‘Dissertatio quâ divina rationis auctoritas contra pseudermēneian loci 2 Cor. x. 5 modestè vindicatur.’ 3. ‘Vita Johannis Jezleri.’ 4. ‘Schediasma, in quo Augustini, Lutheri, supralapsariorumque sententia a Manichæismi calumniâ pro pace inter protestantes facilius conciliandâ vindicatur.’ 5. ‘Schediasma, in quo argumenta quibus vir celeb. Joh. Christianus Loers … corpora etiam angelis vindicatum ivit, ad rationis trutinam modestè exiguntur.’ White's ‘Apologia pro Hiberniâ adversus Cambri calumnias’ was edited by M. Kelly, Dublin, 1849. A ‘Letter to Colgan,’ dated 31 Jan. 1640 N.S., in which White gives an account of his studies, is printed from the St. Isidore's manuscript in Reeves's ‘Memoir,’ Dublin, 1861.

[Memoir of White by Bishop William Reeves (1861), notes to Works of Adamnan, Index to Ussher's Works, Memoir of Colgan in vol. i. of the Ulster Journal of Archæology—all by Reeves; Kelly's notes to White's Apologia and to Lynch's Cambrensis Eversus; Hogan's Hibernia Ignatiana and Life of Fitzsimon; Ware's Writers of Ireland, ed. Harris; Brit. Mus. Cat. s.v. ‘Vitus.’]

R. B-l.