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amanuensis, Richard Milward, by whom it had been compiled, states that he had had the opportunity of hearing Selden's discourse for twenty years together, and that of what is here collected " the sense and notion is wholly his, and most of the words." Milward seems to have been a person of judgment, for there is very little in what he has preserved that has not a real value.
The title given to this collection of the conversational remarks of Selden was no doubt suggested by that singular work, the Table-talk of Martin Luther, an English translation of which had appeared not many years before. The facts connected with this translation make a curious history. The original work first appeared in 1565, about twenty years after his death, at Eisleben, the great reformer's birth-place, and where also he closed his days. The editor was John Aurifaber (or Goldsmith), who states in a preface that he had been much with Luther in 1545 and 1546, the two last years of his life, and that he had inserted in the book many things which during that time he had heard himself from the reformer's lips, but that the bulk of the notes had been previously collected by Anthony Lauterbauch, from whose manuscripts he (Aurifaber) had merely transcribed the remarks, and arranged them under their proper heads. He gave the book the title of Luther's Tisch-Reden, of which term our Table-talk is a literal translation. After the collection had been printed again the following year in German, it was translated into Latin, and published at Frankfort in 1571 by Henry Peter Rebenstock, minister at Eischeim, in two volumes octavo, under the title of ' Colloquia, Meditationes, Consolationes, Consilia, Judicia, Sententiae, Narrationes, Responsa, Facetiae, D. Mart. Lutheri, piae et sanctae Memoriae, in Mensa Prandii et Ccenae, et in Peregrinationibus, observata et fideliter transcripta ;'—that is, Conversations, Meditations, Consolations, Counsels, Judgments, Opinions, Stories, Repartees, and Bons-Mots, of Mr. Martin Luther, of pious and holy memory, collected some at the Dinner and Supper-table, others on the Highways, and all faithfully noted down. This Latin edition was often reprinted.
The author of the English translation was a Captain Henry Bell, who gives a very strange account of all the circumstances connected with his performance. His statement is headed ' Captain Henry Bell's Narrative or Relation of the miraculous preserving of Dr. Martin Luther's Book entitled Colloquia, &c., and how the same Book was by God's Providence discovered lying under the Ground, where it had lain hid Fifty-two Years, and was few Years since sent over to the said Captain Henry Bell, and by him translated,' &c. "I, Captain Henry Bell," the writer then commences, "do hereby declare, both to the present age and also to posterity, that, being employed beyond the seas in state-affairs divers years together, both by King James and also by the late King Charles, in Germany, I did hear and understand in all places great bewailing and lamentation made by reason of the destroying and burning of above fourscore thousand of Martin Luther's books entitled his Last Divine Discourses." He goes on to relate that the several kings, princes, and states, imperial cities, and Hanse towns, which had embraced the Reformation, did, upon the first appearance of this work, " order that the said Divine Discourses of Luther should forthwith be printed, and that every parish should have and receive one of the foresaid printed books into every church throughout all their principalities and dominions, to be chained up for the common people to read therein." A few years afterwards, however, it seems, Pope Gregory XIII. stirred up the Emperor Rudolph II. to make an edict, " that all the foresaid printed books should be burned, and also that it should be death for any person to have or keep a copy thereof, but also to burn the same; which edict was speedily put in execution accordingly, insomuch that not one of all the foresaid printed books, nor so much as any one copy of the same, could be found out nor heard of in any place." In venturing upon a story like this, Bell must nave given his readers credit for a very capacious credulity, as well as for exceedingly elevated notions of the prerogatives and actual authority of a German emperor.
To proceed, however, with the Captain's narrative. "Yet," he goes on, "it pleased God that, anno 1626, a German gentleman named Casparus Van Sparr, with whom, in the time of my staying in Germany about King James's business, I became very familiarly known and acquainted, having occasion to build upon the old foundation of an house wherein his grandfather dwelt at that time when the said edict was published in Germany for the burning of the foresaid books, and digging deep into the ground under the said old foundation, one of the said original printed books was there happily found, lying in a deep obscure hole, being wrapped in a strong linen cloth, which was waxed all over with bees' wax within and without, whereby the book was preserved fair and without any blemish."
As ill luck would have it, however, a Catholic prince, Ferdinand II., was still at the head of the Empire; and at one time certainly this hero of the Thirty Years' war had his foot pretty firmly planted upon the neck of the Protestants throughout the greater part of Germany. According to the Captain, his friend Sparr, thinking it dangerous in such times to retain the precious book which he had found in his own possession, contrived to export it to England, accompanied with a letter to him (Bell), narrating the story of its discovery, and earnestly recommending to him the good work of setting about its translation into his mother tongue. "Whereupon," continues Bell, "I took the said book before me, and many times began to translate the same, but always was hindered therein, being called upon about other business; insomuch that by no possible means I could remain by that work. Then, about six weeks after I had received the said book, it fell out, that I being in bed with my wife, one night between twelve and one of the clock, she being asleep, but myself yet awake, there appeared unto me an ancient man, standing at my bed's side, arrayed all in white, having a long and broad white beard hanging down to his girdle-steed, who, taking me by my right ear, spake these words following unto me: 'Sirrah, will not you take time to translate that book which is sent unto you out of Germany? I will shortly provide for you both place and time to do it.' And then he vanished away out of my sight. Whereupon, being much thereby affrighted, I fell into an extreme sweat, insomuch that my wife awaking and finding me all over wet, she asked me what I ailed? I told her what I had seen and heard. But I never did heed nor regard visions nor dreams, and so the same soon fell out of my mind. Then about a fortnight after I had seen that vision, on a Sunday, I went to Whitehall to hear the sermon; after which ended, I returned to my lodging, which was then in King's Street at Westminster, and sitting down to dinner with my wife, two messengers were sent from the whole council-board, with a warrant to carry me to the keeper of the Gatehouse, Westminster, there to be safely kept until further order from the lords of the council; which was done without showing me any cause at all wherefore I was committed. (Whatsoever was pretended, yet the true cause of the Captain's commitment was because he was urgent with the Lord Treasurer for his arrears: which, amounting to a great sum, he was not willing to pay; and to be freed from his claims, he clapt him up in prison.—Marginal Note.) Upon which said warrant I was kept there ten whole years close prisoner; where I spent five years thereof about the translating of the said book; insomuch as I found the words very true which the old man in the aforesaid vision did say unto me, 1 will shortly provide for you both place and time to translate it."
Soon after he had finished his task, Archbishop Laud, having, it seems, heard of what he was about, sent to him his chaplain Dr. Bray, with a message that he should deliver up both the translation and the original work. At first Bell refused to part with either; but on the Archbishop sending to him again the next day, and promising that the greatest care should be taken of the books, knowing, as he says, that his Grace " would take them, nolens volens," he let them go. In two months after, Bray came again to him, with a present from the Archbishop of ten pounds in gold, and a message highly commending the work, " yet saying, that some things therein were fitting to be left out." It was two years after this, however, before Bell was able to get the books out of his Grace's hands; and then he only obtained them, according to his own account, by threatening to bring the matter before the parliament, which was about to be called. On giving them back to him, Laud accompanied them with a present of forty pounds more in gold, and also a promise that he would immediately engage the King to get the translation printed; a sufficiently meek return, it must be allowed, to the gallant Captain's menaces. Bell was very soon after set at liberty, "by a warrant," as he expresses it, "from the whole House of Lords, according to his Majesty's direction in that behalf." The Archbishop's troubles, however, which quickly brought him to the scaffold, now commenced, and put an end to all Bell's expectations from that quarter.
All this we may take as intended by the worthy book