Page:Cambridge Modern History Volume 1.djvu/628

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were its teachers of divinity: Henry of Costessey was among them. The Oxford Friars did not, it is true, preserve the traditions of Grosseteste and of Bacon into the Reformation period, for Leland has a sorry tale to tell of the neglected condition of their once noble library. Yet the tradition of learning lingered in the Order; at the beginning of the sixteenth century Richard Brinkley, Provincial of the Grey Friars in England, was a student of Hebrew-he borrowed a Hebrew Psalter from the monks of Bury St Edmunds; and he was moreover the owner of more than one Greek Biblical manuscript: among them, of the Leicester Codex of the New Testament, well known to textual critics.

More is yet to be said of the Franciscans in England, and of their services to sacred literature. They did not confine their attention to the Bible. There is another great literary enterprise, the credit of whose initiation belongs to them, though its subsequent development must be assigned to a Benedictine. Described shortly, it was an attempt to discover and locate all the works of the principal known authors, both sacred and secular, which existed in England. At some time in the fourteenth century circulars were issued, or visits paid, to about one hundred and sixty monasteries. A list of some ninety authors was drawn up, and the writings of each enumerated. The list of libraries and that of books were then fused together in such a way that from the completed work it is possible to ascertain what books by each writer were to be found in England, and in what libraries each book existed. The name given to this compilation is the Catalogus or Registrum Librorum Angliae, and the indications that in this first form it, is the work of a member or members of the Franciscan Order are hardly to be mistaken. Early in the fifteenth century, the work received a most important expansion at the hands of a monk of Bury, John Boston by name. He added a score of names to the list of libraries, and raised to nearly seven hundred the number of authors whose works were enumerated. He gave, moreover, a short biographical sketch of each writer drawn from the best sources at his disposal: so that the book in its completed form might claim to be called a Dictionary of Literature. If this Catalogue of Boston's did not serve as a model to Trithemius and his successors (and there is no reason to suppose that it did), it was at least the legitimate ancestor of the later Bibliothecae. What is more to the point at present, it furnishes a key to the literary possessions and perhaps still more to the literary needs of England about the year 1400, the importance of which it would be difficult to exaggerate.

It may be necessary to return to the consideration of England's share in the movement; but we must now proceed to extend the range of our outlook. We have to ask whether, in the home of the Classical Revival, any consciousness existed of the needs of the Church corresponding to the feeling that we have seen stirring in the minds of Grosseteste and of Bacon. As far as we can judge, this question must