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Herbert Thorndike, 1598-1672
by T.A. Lacey

London: SPCK, 1929.

Appendix III. The Latin Manuscripts in the Chapter Library at Westminster

Extract from Thorndike's Will

"To Doctor Gunning now Lord Bishopp of Chichester the rest of the rude draught of my Writeings in latine aboue that which is now printed, together with extractions out of the Fathers and others tending to the same purpose in two Quarto Bookes, taken in such hast, that I am sorrie there will be noe vse be made of them. All these are couered with pastboards, but I forbidd anie pte of them to be printed vnlesse it please God I liue to giue further order for it." (Haddan, vol. vi, p. 147.)

Haddan's note on the above is: "None of these books remain among Thorndike's MSS. in the Chapter Library at Westminster. Whatever passed into Gunning's hands, it would appear that he destroyed, in accordance with the directions above given." But there are no directions about destroying anything. The legatee is forbidden only to print anything without further order.

However it may have been when Haddan searched the Chapter Library for Thorndike's MSS., the following Latin manuscripts are now there:

A. Two small quarto volumes, bound in pasteboard cases covered with vellum.

B. A small folio volume in boards, closely written and much corrected. On a fly-leaf is written, "This is the foul Manuscript to the former Part of the Printed Latin Booke."

C. A small folio volume in boards, carefully written with some corrections. It is inscribed: "This Coppy was transcribed by some of the King Scholars And is the Originall to one of the 3 Transcripts which they wrote."

D. A large folio volume in stout paper covers, on which is written:

"Videtur esse V. II.

This is the transcript of the Kings Schollars the Original whereof is with me."

E. A large folio volume, in two parts with stout paper covers, on which is written:

"Videtur esse V. III.

The Original of this Transcript is supposed to be left wth the Bishop of Ely Dr. Gunning. This coppy was written by the Kings Schollars out of ye Original."

A. From the nature of their contents these appear to be not improbably the "two Quarto Bookes" mentioned in the Will.

B. This appears to be a first draught of the published treatise De Ratione finiendi Controversias. It contains at the beginning part of the Table of Chapters, two leaves being lost.

C. We now come to new matter. It evidently contains the continuation of De Ratione, "above that which is now printed," as the Will has it. But this is not the "rude draught" there mentioned. It was "transcribed" from some such rough copy, and became itself the "original" from which a further transcript was made. I will call it the "first transcript." It begins with a definition of the right of the Church to make laws for the maintenance of unity, and ends with a study of the Apocalypse and of the promised coming of Elias.

D is the further transcript made from C. It is a large-paper volume, beautifully written by various hands in a fairly uniform Italian style, doing credit to the writing-master of the King's Scholars whose patient work it is said to be. Who it is that says "the original whereof is with me" does not appear; it can hardly be Gunning, for he seems to have had only a "rude draught." I will call this the "second transcript,"

E exactly resembles D, but is not quite so well written. It covers the ground of the doctrine of Justification, and Thorndike's purpose in writing is illustrated by a remark that Jansenius and Molina were able to live and die in the same unity. It ends with a reference to another book to follow "in quo de eorum Ecclesiae officiorum legibus agendum erit."

I attempt a construction of the evidence. Three volumes of the treatise De Ratione were transcribed by the King's Scholars at Westminster. Their master, Dr. Busby, was an intimate friend of Thorndike, for some time his host, and named as Supervisor of his Will (Haddan, vi. 136, 152, 249). Of Volume II two transcripts, first and second, are now in the Chapter Library. Of Volume III there is one transcript, exactly resembling the second transcript of Volume II. We are told that the King's Scholars made three transcripts. Where is Volume I.? I suggest that it was transcribed from B, or perhaps from a "first transcript" of B, corresponding to C, and was sent to Thomas Roycroft as the copy from which to print the edition of 1670.

If this be so, we may infer that the MSS. D and E were in like manner made ready for the press before Thorndike's death, or soon after, perhaps under Busby's direction. Why they were not printed by his Executor, named in the Will as "my cousin Buckley," it is useless to enquire. What were Busby's functions as Supervisor of the Will I do not know. There seems to be no ground for supposing that the two second transcripts D and E were among the MSS. entrusted to Peter Gunning with instructions not to print them without further order. They are certainly not "rude draughts."

I am deeply indebted to Mr. L. H. Nixon, Minor Canon and Librarian of Westminster Abbey, for aid and facilities given me in my investigation of this matter. It is difficult to understand how the MSS. can have been so hidden as to escape Haddan's scrutiny, but there seems to be no record of more recent acquisition.

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