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in many parts of erudition ; and still maintains his reputation as a learned chemift of the lower ages. He was a canon regular of the monastery of Bridlington in Yorkshire, a great traveller', and studied both in France and Italy. At his return from abroad, pope Innocent the eighth absolved him from the observance of the rules of his order, that he might prosecute his studies with more convenience and freedom. But his convent not concurring with this very liberal indulgence, he turned Carmelite at faint Botolph's in Lincolnshire, and died an anachorite in that fraternity in the year 1490?. His chemical poems are nothing more than the doctrines of alchemy cloathed in plain language, and a very rugged versification. The capital performance is THE COMPOUND OF ALCHEMIE, written in the year 1471'. It is in the octave metre, and dedicated to Edward the fourth'. Ripley has left a few other compofitions on his favourite science, printed by Ashmole, who was an enthufiast in this abused species of philosophy'. One of them,

P Ashmole says, that Ripley, during his Westminster, a great chemist : and adds, long stay at Rhodes, gave the knights of that Cremer brought Lully into England, Malta 100,000 l. annually, towards main and introduced him to the notice of Ed. taining the war against the Turks. Ubi ward the third, about the year 1334. supr. p. 458. Aihmole could not have Ashmol. ubi fupr. p. 213. 467. The made this incredible assertion, without sup writer of Hermes's Bird, however, appofing a circumstance equally incredible, pears by the versification and language, to that Ripley was in actual poffeffion of the have lived at least an hundred years after Philosopher's Stone.

that period. He informs us, that he made 4 Ashmol. p. 455. seq. Bale, viii. 49. the translation “ owte of the Frensche.” Pitf. p. 677

Ibid. p. 214. Alhmole mentions a curious ! Ashmol. THEATR. Chem. p. 193. pi&ture of the GRAND MYSTERIES OF It was first printed in_1591. 4to. Re THE PHILOSOPHER'S STONE, which abbot printed by Ashmole, THEATR. Chem. Cremer ordered to be painted in Westminut supr. p. 107. It has been thrice tran fter abbey, upon an arch where the waxen Nated into Latin, Afhm. ut fupr. p. 465. kings and queens are placed: but that it See Ibid. p. 108. 110.

Most of was obliterated with a plaisterer’s brush by Ripley's Latin works were printed by Lud. the puritans in Oliver's time. He alio Combachius, Caffel. 1619. 12mo.

mentions a large and beautiful window, • He mentions the abbey church at Weft behind the pulpit in the neighbouring church minster as unfinished. Pag. 154. ft. 27. of faint Margaret, painted with the fame P. 156. and st. 34:

subject, and destroyed by the same ignorant · Ashmole conjectures, that an English zealots, who mistook these innocent hierochemical piece in the octave stanza, which glyphics for some story in a popish legend. he has printed, called Hermes's Bird, Ashmol. ibid. 211. 466. 467. Compare no un poetical fi&tion, was translated from Widmore's Hift. WESTMINSTER-ABBEY, Raymond Lully, by Cremer, abbot of p. 174. seq. edit. 1751. 4to. Vol. II. T


I 22.

the Medulla, written in 1476, is dedicated to archbishop Nevil". These pieces have no other merit, than that of serving to develope the history of chemistry in England. They certainly contributed nothing to the state of our poetry".

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u Afhm. p. 389. See also p. 374. feq. This nobleman's only original piece is a Balet

w It will be sufficient to throw some of of four stanzas, preserved by Rouse, a co. the obscurer rhymers of this period into the temporary historian, Ross. Hift. p. 213. Notes. Olbern Bokenham wrote or trans edit. Hearn. apud Leland. Itin. tom. X. lated metrical lives of the saints, about edit. Oxon. 1745. I refer also the Nor1445. See supr. vol. i. p. 14. Notes. Gil BROWNE MAYde to this period. See bert Banester wrote in English verse the Capel's PROLUSIONS, p. 23. seq. edit. Miracle of saint Thomas, in the year 1467. 1760. And Percy's ANC. BALL. vol. ij. CCCC. MSS. Q. viii. See supr. vol. i. p. p.

26. seq. edit. 1767. Of the same date 75. Notes. And Lel. COLLECTAN. tom. is perhaps the DeLECTABLE HISTORIE i. (p. ii.) pag. 510. edit. 1770. Wydville of king Edward the fourth and the Tanner earl of Rivers, already mentioned, trans of Tamwortb, &c. &c. See Percy, ubi lated into English diftichs, The morale fupr. p. 81. Hearne affirms, that in this Proverbes of CryAyne of Pyse, printed by piece there are some “ romantic affertions : Caxton, 1477. They consist of two fheets is otherwise 'tis a book of value, and in folio. This is a couplet ;

more authority is to be given to it than

“ is given to poetical books of LATE: Little vailleth good example to see

« YEARS.” Hearne's Leland, ut fupr. For him that wole not the contrarie Alee.

vol. ii, p. 103.


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UT a want of genius will be no longer imputed to

this period of our poetical history, if the poems lately difcovered at Bristol, and said to have been written by Thomas Rowlie, a fecular priest of that place, about the year one thousand four hundred and seventy, are genuine.

It must be acknowledged, that there are some circumstances which incline us to suspect these pieces to be a modern forgery. On the other hand, as there is some degree of plaufibility in the history of their discovery, as they possess considerable merit, and are held to be the real productions of Rowlie by many respectable critics; it is my duty to give them a place in this series of our poetry, if it was for no other reason than that the world might be furnished with an opportunity of examining their authenticity. By exhibiting therefore the most specious evidences, which I have been able to collect, concerning the manner in which they were brought to light“, and by producing such specimens, as in another refpet cannot be deemed unacceptable; I will endeavour, not only to gratify the curiosity of the public on a subject that has long engaged the general attention, and has never yet been fairly or fully stated, but to supply the more inquisitive reader with every argument, both external and internal, for determining the merits of this interesting controversy. I shall take the liberty to add my own opinion, on a point at leaft doubtful: but with the greatest deference to decisions of much higher authority.

About the year 1470, William Cannynge, an opulent merchant and an alderman of Bristol, afterwards an ecclesiastic,

• I acknowledge myself greatly indebt Bath, for facilitating my enquiries on this ed to the ingenious doctor Harrington of subject. T 2


and dean of Westbury college, erected the magnificent church of Saint Mary of Redcliffe, or Radcliff, near Bristol'. In a muniment-room over the northern portico of the church, the founder placed an iron chest, secured by six different locks ‘; which seems to have been principally intended to receive instruments relating to his new structure, and perhaps to his other charities“, inventories of vestments and ornaments, accompts of church-wardens, and other

parochial evidences. He is said to have directed, that this venerable chest should be annually visited and opened by the mayor and other chief magistrates of Bristol, attended by the vicar and church-wardens of the parish : and that a feast should be celebrated every year, on the day of visitation. But this order, that part at least which relates to the inspection of the chest, was foon neglected.

In the year 1768, when the present new bridge at Bristol was finished and opened for passengers, an account of the ceremonies observed on occasion of opening the old bridge, appeared in one of the Bristol Journals; taken, as it was declared, from an antient manufcript'. Curiosity was naturally raised to know from whence it came. At length, after much enquiry concerning the person who sent this fingular memoir to the news-paper, it was discovered that he

• He is said to have rebuilt Westbury college. Dugd. WARWICKSH. p.634. edit. 1730. And Atkyns, GlocESTERSH. p. 802. On his monument in Radcliffechurch, he is twice represented, both in an alderman's and a priest's habit. He was five times mayor of Bristol. See Godwin's Bish. p. 446. [But fee. edit. fol. p. 467:]

© It is said there were four chefts : but this is a circumstance of no consequence.

d Thefe will be mentioned below.

. See an inventory of ornaments given to this church by the founder, Jul. 4, 1470, formerly kept in this chest, and printed by Mr. Walpole, ANECD. PAINT. i. p. 45.

* The old bridge was built about the year 1248. HISTORY of BRISTOL, MS. Archiv. Bodl. C. iii. By Abel Wantner.

Archdeacon Furney, in the year 1755, left by will to the Bodleian library, large collections, by various hands, relating to the history and antiquities of the city, church, and county of Gloucester, which are now preserved there, Archiv. C. ut supr. At the end of N. iii. is the manuscript H18TORY juft mentioned, supposed to have been compiled by Abel Wantner, of Minchin - Hampton in Glocefter bire, who published proposals and specimens for a history of that county, in 1683.


was a youth about seventeen years old, whose name was Chatterton; and whose father had been sexton of Radcliffe church for many years, and also master of a writing-school in that parish, of which the church-wardens were trustees. The father however was now dead : and the son was at first unwilling to acknowledge, from whom, or by what means, he had procured so valuable an original. But after many promises, and some threats, he confessed that he received a manuscript on parchment containing the narrative abovementioned, together with many other manuscripts on parchment, from his father ; who had found them in an iron chest, the same that I have mentioned, placed in a room situated over the northern entrance of the church. It

appears that the father became possessed of these manuscripts in the year 1748. For in that year, he was permitted, by the church-wardens of Radcliffe-church, to take from this chest several written pieces of parchment, supposed to be illegible and useless, for the purpose of converting them into covers for the writing-books of his scholars, It is impossible to ascertain, what, or how many, writings were destroyed, in consequence of this abfurd and unwarrantable indulgence. Our school-master, however, whose accomplishments were much above his station, and who was not totally destitute of a taste for poetry, found, as it is said, in this immense heap of obsolete manuscripts, many poems written by Thomas Rowlie abovementioned, priest of Saint John's church in Bristol, and the confessor of alderman Cannynge, which he carefully preserved. These at his death, of course fell into the hands of his son.

Of the extraordinary talents of this young man more will be said hereafter. It will be sufficient to observe at prefent, that he saw the merit and value of thefe poems, which he diligently transcribed. In the year 1770, he went to London, carrying with him these transcripts, and many originals, in hopes of turning fo inestimable a treasure to his great


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