Page:Books Condemned to be Burnt - James Anson Farrer.djvu/45

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Sixteenth Century Book-Fires.

version is substantially Tyndale's), one can only stand aghast at the irony of the fearful contrast, which so widely separated the labourer from his triumph. But perhaps we can scarcely wonder that our ancestors, after centuries of mental blindness, should have tried to burn the light they were unable to bear, causing it thereby only to shine the brighter.

It certainly spread with remarkable celerity; for in 1546 it became necessary to command all persons possessing them to deliver to the bishop, or sheriff, to be openly burnt, all works in English purporting to be written by Frith, Tyndale, Wicliff, Joye, Basil, Bale, Barnes, Coverdale, Turner, or Tracy. The extreme rarity and costliness of the works of these men are the measure of the completeness with which this order was carried out; but not of its success, for the ideas survived the books which contained them. A list of the books is given in Foxe (v. 566), and comprises twelve by Coverdale, twenty-eight by Bale, thirteen by Basil (alias Becon), ten by Frith, nine by Tyndale, seven by Joye, six by Turner, three by Barnes. Some of these may still be read, but more are non-existent A complete account of them and their authors would almost amount to a history of the