THE CHASTYSING OF GODDE’S CHILDREN, and other mystical treatises, in Middle English, MANUSCRIPT ON VELLUM, [northern England, mid-15th century]
172 x 124mm. 102 leaves. 23 lines written in an English formal bookhand in brown ink, rubrics, paraphs and chapter headings in red (lacking the opening of the first treatise and the final leaves of the final chapter of Chastysing, lower margins of ff. 21 and 93-95 shaved with no loss of text, some marginal staining, final leaves somewhat soiled). 19th-century English calf gilt. Black morocco box.
1) The text is written in an English formal hand datable to the middle of the 15th century. 2) SAMPSON TROLLOPE / ANTHONY TROLLOPE: late 16th-century inscriptions throughout. A Sampson Trollope of Eden Dene, County Durham, is recorded in Dugdale’s Visitation of Yorkshire as having married Margaret Meynill, daughter of Roger Meynill, accused of high treason for having joined the insurrection in the North. 3) 17th-century inscriptions, including a ditty ‘The time of youthe sore / I repent [re]membering how / I have it spente gree / my Lorde God omnipotent’ tentatively attributed to Sir John Fethy (fl. c.1530-68).
The IX Poyntis ff. 1-1v; Treatise on Love, beginning: ‘For encheson þt loue maye alle do wt any mysdo’ ff. 1v-6v; chapters IV-VI of Richard Rolle’s Form of Living, beginning: ‘At þe firste begynnynge torne enterelich to þi lorde ihesu crist [...]’ ff.6v-14v; The Chastysing of Godde’s Children, ending imperfectly in ch. XXVII: ‘If panne afterward in tyme of seieng his hert [...], ff. 15-102v.
A RARE COLLECTION OF MIDDLE ENGLISH TEXTS, INCLUDING A PREVIOUSLY UNRECORDED EXAMPLE AND ONE OF ONLY ELEVEN KNOWN MANUSCRIPT COPIES OF ‘THE CHASTISING OF GOD’S CHILDREN’. NO OTHER COPY HAS BEEN OFFERED AT AUCTION SINCE 1945.
The main text of the collection is an important mystical treatise composed at the turn of the 15th century — only a few decades before the compilation of the present manuscript — written for a specific house of women religious and deeply influenced by the writings of John Ruysbroek (1293-1381). Drawing on a wide variety of patristic texts, with borrowings from the Ancrene Riwle and Suso’s Horologium Sapientiae and dealing with subjects ranging from heresy and demonic possession to visionary experiences and the discerning of spirits, The Chastising of God’s Children is a telling reflection of the spiritual concerns facing English medieval contemplatives. The most recent bibliography of the surviving texts lists ten manuscripts: the present is not among these (A Manual of the Writing in Middle English, IX, 1993, 3468). Equally rare are the texts that precede it: the manuscript opens with the final part of a work called ‘The IX Poyntis’. Jolliffe records only two other examples: British Library Harley MS 1706, ff. 151-154v and Trinity College Cambridge B. 15.39, ff. 170v-171v (P. S. Jolliffe, A Check-List of Middle English Prose Writings of Spiritual Guidance, 1974, no I. 26; text printed in C. Horstman, ed., Yorkshire Writers, 1896, II, 375-77). Immediately following is a work entitled ‘Treatise on Love’: it appears elsewhere only in Hereford Cathedral Library MS P. I .9, ff. 151v-153 (see Valerie Edden, The Index of Middle English Prose. Handlist XV: Manuscripts in Midland Libraries, 2000, 28 and R. A. B. Mynors & Rodney Thomson, A Catalogue of the Manuscripts in Hereford Cathedral Library, 1993, 69). The final text before the beginning of Chastysing contains chapters IV - VI of Richard Rolle’s Form of Living (see Hope Emily Allen, English Writings of Richard Rolle, 1931, 94ff).