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in many parts of erudition ; and still maintains his reputation as a learned chemist 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 saint Botolph's in Lincolnshire, and died an anachorite in that fraternity'in the year 149o*. 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 or ALCHEMIE, written in the year 1471 '. It is in the voctave metre, and dedicated to Edward the fourth '. Ripley has left a few other compositions on his favourite science, printed by Ashmole, who was an enthufiast in this abused species of philosophy '. One of them, *
.S E C T. VIII.
' UT a want of genius will be no longer imputed to
this period of our poetical history, if the poems lately discovered at Bristol, and said to have been written by Thomas Rowlie, a secular 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 bea modern forgery. On the other hand, as there is some degree of plausibility' 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 respect 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 shalltake the liberty to add my own opinion, on a point at least doubtsul: but with the greatest deferenoe to decisions of muChhigher authority.
About the year 1470, William Carmynge, an opulent merchant and an alderman of Bristol, afterwards an ecclesiastic.
l I acknowledge myself greatly indebt- Bath, for facilitating my enquiries on this ed to the ingenious doctor Harrington of subject.
T 2 , and 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 soon 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 manuscript '. Curiosity was naturally raised to know from whence it came. At length, after much enquiry concerning the person who sent this singular memoir to the news-paper, it was discovered that he