Excerpt from Edmund Waterton, Pietas Mariana Britannica, A History of English Devotion to the
Most Blessed Virgin Mary Mother of God, 1879. pp 171-190
p.171part, when he says that he was afraid to place entire confidence in Aldrich. It does not matter how this bear’s skin came thither; it may have been hung up by a pilgrim as a curiosity and an offering, just as Erasmus hung up his Greek ode in the Ladye chapel.The latest account of the wells is by John Henry Parker, C.B., D.C.L., in 1847: “The holy wells are quite plain, round, and uncovered, and on one side of them is a square bath; on the other side a small early English doorway.”37The story of the Knight, and of the Knight’s Gate, which opened into Knight Street, is given by Blomefield on the authority of an old MS.; but it is to be regretted that he did not add where this MS. was preserved. This is what he relates:“Near the entrance into the close of the priory, on the north, was a very low and narrow wicket door ‘not past an elne hye,’ and three quarters in breadth; and a certain Norfolk knight, Sir Raaf Boutebourt, armed cap-a-pie, and on horseback, being in days of old (1314) pursued by a cruel enemy, and in the utmost danger of being taken, made full spede for this gate, and invoking this Lady for his deliverance, he immediately found himself and his horse within the close and sanctuary of the priory, in a safe asylum, and so fooled his enemy.”38 Erasmus says that a brass plate representing Sir Ralph was nailed to the gate. The name of the “Knight Street” is the sole local evidence now remaining of Sir Ralph Boutebourt’s escape.The principal road by which pilgrims arrived at Walsingham passed by Newmarket, Brandon, and Fakenham; it is still known by the names of the Palmers’ Way, and Walsingham Green Way, and it may be traced pretty accurately along the principal part of its course for nearly sixty miles through the diocese. The pilgrims who came from the north crossed the Wash near Long Sutton, and went through Lynn, most probably taking the way which passed by 37 Norwich vol. of the Royal Arch, Institute, p. 188.38 Vol. ix. p. 280.p.172the priories of Flitcham, Rudham or Roodham, and Cokesford. Another great road used by passengers on pilgrimage to Our Ladye of Walsingham led from the east, through Norwich and Attlebridge, by Bec Hospital, where gratuitous accommodation for thirteen poor pilgrims was provided every night; this was also sometimes called the Walsingham Way. At Hilburgh, South-acre, Westacre, Lynn, Priors—Thorns, Stanhoe, Caston, and many other places, were chapels in which the pilgrims offered up their prayers as they passed on to Our Ladye of Walsingham.39 The Galaxy, or Milky Way, was also called the “Walsingham Way,” as pointing to that angle, and it retained this name to the days of Blomefield, who mentions that he had heard old people use it.”The prosperity of the little town of Walsingham was dependant upon the crowds of pilgrims, who flocked thither from all parts, and consequently inns and hostelries predominated. This feature will have been noticed by those who have been at Einsiedeln, and other celebrated places of pilgrimage, where the sanctuary alone is the object of attraction.On entering Walsingham from the south, close to the walls of the priory stood “le Beere,” formerly “le Dowe.” Then in the Friday marketplace were the “White Horse,” and “Crownyd Lyon;” in the adjoining street the “ Mane and Sterr,” the “ Cokk,” the “Sarassyns Hede,” the “Swan and the Bull,” which had appropriated part of the buildings of the “Angel now wasted;” and then the “Ram” offers hospitality. In Stonegate, there were the “Chekker,” and the “Bolt and Toun.” In North Town-end there were the “White Hart” and the “ Madynhede;” by the Prior’s water-mill the “Gryffon” and the “Bell;” in Church Street the “Crane,” and by the churchyard, the “George.” And there were, no doubt, many more.4139 Index. Mon. Dioec. Norv. Introd. p. xix.40 Vol. i. p. 486.41 Augmentation Office Papers, D. 9. This contains a survey of the Prior’s posessions in the town. See Harrod. p. 175.p.173Some of the inn-holders of Walsingham seem to have considered the pilgrims as fair objects to be “fleeced,” and fleeced them accordingly. It is surmised that this extortion led to the conflagration of four of the hostelries in 1431. John Amundesham relates that “in this year, after Easter, there was a great fire in Walsingham Parva, which consumed four of the inns in that town; by whom, or through what cause, this misfortune happened, no mortal knew, except that it might be from revenge for the excessive and unjust extortionate charges, which the persons living in those inns had exacted from the pilgrims for their victuals.”42The Kings of England, and their subjects of every class, loved to go on pilgrimage to this sanctuary.Heremytes on an heape with hoked staves Wenten to Walsynghamso wrote John Longland, in his Vision of Piers Plouhman, A. D. 1362. And many foreigners came from abroad. In the Witten Bouc, a pilgrimage from Ghent “T’ons Vrauwe to Walsinghe,” is put down at four livres.”Henry the Third is the first English King who is recorded as a pilgrim to Walsingham. This was in the twenty-sixth year of his reign--1248.44Edward the First was twice there. “It was known,” says Walsingham, “ ‘that he did abide under the protection of the God of heaven.’ For once, while he was a young man, he chanced to be playing at chess with a knight in a vaulted chamber, when suddenly, and without any occasion, he rose, and went away; when, lo! an immense stone, which would have crushed him if he had remained, fell on the very spot where he had been sitting. On account of this miracle, he very heartily honoured Our Blessed Ladye of Walsingham, to whose favour he attributed his escape- from this danger.”’45 In 1296, at Candle-42 Annales Mon. S. Albani, vol. i. p. 62. Rolls Edit. 43 Cannaert. p. 354.44 Mon. Angl. vol. vi. p. 71.45 Hist. Anglicana, vol. i. p. 9. Rolls Edit.p.174mas, he again went on pilgrimage to his Protectress in dangers and adversity, Our Ladye of Walsingham, where his procurators, Hugh le Dispenser, and Walter de Beauchamp, steward of his household, at his command, and in his presence (it not being the usage for him anyways to swear in his own person) did swear en la chapelle de Notre Dame à Walsingham, for him and his heirs, Kings of England, and in his name, according to the power given them (which he acknowledged) that they should perform and fulfil all matters and things contained in the instrument of alliance between him and the Earl of Flanders. Nous que de usage avoms, qui nous en propre Persone ne jurromy, reconissoms que le dit Monsieur Hue et Monsieur Wautier nous Procurers et lour donans poer e mandement, &c. par le tesmoign de cestes presentes Lettres. Dated at Walsingham, le jour de la Chandeleur, in the year of grace, 1296, and of our reign the twenty-fifth.46Edward the Second was a pilgrim to Walsingham in 1315;47 and in 1332, Isabella of France, whilst residing at Castle Rising, made a pilgrimage to Walsingham; and in the municipal records of Lynn there is an entry of 20s. for bread sent to Isabella, Queen Dowager, when she came from Walsingham.48In 1361, Edward the Third went to Walsingham;49 and in this year he granted out of his treasury the sum of 9l., as a gift, to John, Duke of Brittany, for his expenses in going on pilgrimage to Walsingham.50 In the same year he also gave leave of absence from London, for a month, on account of his health, to his nephew, the Duke of Anjou, to visit Our Ladye of Walsingham and St. Thomas of Canterbury.51 And three years later, Edward the Third sent Letters, dated the 20th of February, to the Warders of the Marches towards Scotland, directing them to46Brady, vol. ii. p. 44.47Mon. Angl. vol. vi. p. 71.48 Agnes Strickland, Life of Isabella, Queen of Edward the Second, p. 243.49Mon. Angl, vol. vi. p. 71.50 Foedera. Edit. 1740, vol. iii. pt. ii. p. 40.51Ibid. p. 43.p.175give safe conduct to David de Bruys, King of Scotland, who was to be accompanied by twenty knights, then intending pilgrimage to Walsingham.52 Was he the King of Scotland to whom Norden alludes as being cured by the water of the well of Our Ladye of Muswell?53In 1427, on the morrow of Saints Gervase and Protase, Queen Johanna, widow of Henry the Fourth, visited St. Alban’s, on her way from Walsingham, Norwich, and St. Edmund’s Bury, to Langley, and was received in solemn procession by the monks, arrayed in white copes.”Writing from Oxnead, on Saturday, the 28th of September, 1443, to John Paston, Mrs. Margaret “I have behested to go on pilgrimage to Walsingham and to St. Leonard’s for you;56 by my troth, I had never so heavy a season as I had it from the time that I wist of your sickness, till I wist of your amending.”56Sometime in 1457-1458, the Duke of Norfolk was on pilgrimage at Walsingham; for Sir John Fastolfe, in a letter to John Paston, his cousin, dated Caistor, the 18th of November, year not given, but before 1459, says “My Lord of Norfolk, is removed from Framlingham on foot to go to Walsingham, and daily I wait that he would come hither.” 57In 1469 Edward the Fourth and his Queen were at Walsingham. James Hawte, writing to Sir John Paston on Whitsun Monday, the 22nd May, 1469, says . . . “and as for the King, as I understand, he departyt to Walsingham upon Friday come seven-night, and the Queen also, if God send her hele.”58 Two years later, the Duke of Norfolk was again on pilgrimage at Walsingham. On the 13th or 14th of September, 1471, Sir John Paston writes to Mrs. Margaret Paston, or her son, Sir John Paston, in haste, and says: “ I52 Foedera, p. 86.53 See ante, p. 103.54 Annales Mon. S. Albani, p. 16. Rolls Ed.55 In Norwich. See ante, p. 112.56 Paston Letters. Edit. Fenn, 1787, vol. iii. p. 21.57 Ibid. vol. i, p. 167.58 Ibid. vol, ii, p. 17.p.176heard yesterday that a Worsted59 man of Norfolk that sold worsteds at Winchester said that my Lord of Norfolk and my Lady were on pilgrimage at our Ladye on foot; and so they went to Caistor.”60In the same year William Ponte bequeaths “to any of those who will pilgrimage for me to Blessed Marye of Walsingham” vis. viiid.61 And in 1472 our Ladye of Walsingham is one of the sanctuaries to which William Ecopp, Rector of Heslerton, desires that a pilgrim or pilgrims shall be sent immediately after his burial, and to offer there ivd. 62In 1478 the Duke of Buckingham was on pilgrimage at Walsingham.63On the insurrection of the nobles in favour of Lambert Simnel, in 1487, Henry the Seventh made a pilgrimage to our Ladye of Walsingham, and there offering up his vows and prayers, implored her assistance in delivering him from his enemies. After the battle of Stoke, when the rebels were overthrown, in gratitude for the success which had attended his arms, that monarch sent his banner to be offered at the shrine of our Ladye of Walsingham, as a monument of the victory which he had gained by her assistance.” The last royal pilgrims to our Ladye of Walsingham were Henry the Eighth and Queen Catherine.In the Privy Purse expenses of Henry the Eighth, 19-26 January, 1511, there is an entry. of an offering at our Ladye of Walsingham of1l. 3s. 4d.65 In all probability this offering was made by the King in person, as he was then on a visit to Sir Robert Cotton.66 The King started from East Barsham Hall67 on his pilgrimage to59 Worsted in Norfolk, a town celebrated for the spinning of fine thread with which the yarn called worsted is made.60Paston Letters, vol. ii. p. 37.61Test. Vet. p. 326.62 See ante sub Gisbro,’ p. 42.63 Paston Letters, 23 or 25 August, 1478.64 Harpsfeld, saec. xv. c. 18, p. 640. Cf. also Bacon, History of Henry VII.65 Letters and Papers, &c. Henry VIII. v. ii. pt. ii. p. 1449.66 Add. MSS. 710067 Norwich volume of the Royal Arch. Inst. Introd. f. ix.p.177Walsingham, and Spelman says that he walked barefoot, and offered a valuable necklace to our Ladye. After the victory of Flodden Field, Queen Katherine went on pilgrimage to our Ladye of Walsingham in fulfilment of her vow, and on the 16th September she announced her intention of doing so to the King:“. . . And with this I make an ende, prayng God to send you home shortly, for without this noo joye here can be accomplisshed; and for the same I pray, and now goo to our Ladye at Walsingham that I promised soo long agoo to see.At Woborne the xvj. day of Septembre.68In her will Katherine of Aragon says “Itm, that some personage go to our Ladye of Walsingham in pilgrimage, and in going by the way, dole xx. nobles.69Three years previously Erasmus had been to Walsingham, and he describes his visit in the colloquy entitled, Peregrinatio religionis ergo,70 a name it by no means deserves.There was an old saying in regard of Philo the Jew: aut Philo Platonizat, aut Plato Philonizat, and of Erasmus it has been said: aut Erasmus Lutherizat, aut Luther Erasmizat71 As a writer he is well described as damnatus in plerisque, suspectus in multis, caute legendus in omnibus.72It is notorious that Erasmus loved to exaggerate the vices of his age, and to cast all possible ridicule upon the practices of that Holy Faith, of which, nevertheless, he was only too glad to continue an unworthy member. His pen is never more fruitful of sarcasm than when treating of68 MS. Cott. Vesp. F. iii. f. 15.69 Test. Vet. p. 37.70 It is needless to give the references to the Peregrinatio religionis ergo, which is contained in his Colloquies. It gives an account of Walsingham, and of the shrine of St. Thomas at Canterbury. The text which I have used is that of Vander Aa’s edition, 1703. Opp. t. i. Walsingham extends from col. 774 to col. 783.71 Lyraeus, Trisagion Marianum p. 417; also Weiss, Bib. Biograph. Edit. 1841, sub nom.72 Vide Feller. Edit. 1848, sub nom. p.178ecclesiastics and religious men. Did he judge of them by himself? He has drawn his own character with the hand of an artist. Ut ingenue, quod verum est, fatear, says he, sum naturâ propensior ad jocos quam fortasse deceat, et linguae liberioris quam nonnunquam expediat.73Sir Thomas More discovered the venom latent in Erasmus before they had been together an hour. Christopher Cresacre More, third in descent from Sir Thomas, our mutual great ancestor, writes as follows: “But of all strangers Erasmus challenged vnto himself his love most especially, which had long continued by mutuall letters expressing great affection, and increased so much that he tooke a iournie of purpose into England to see and enioy his personall acquaintance and more intire familiaritie; at which time it is reported how that he, who conducted him in his passage, procured that Sir THOMAS MORE and he should first meete togeather in London at the Lo: Mayor’s table, neither of them knowing each other. And in the dinner time, they chanced to fall into argument, Erasmus still endeauouring to defende the worser parte; but he was so sharpely sett vpon and opposed by Sir THOMAS MORE, that perceauing that he was now to argue with a readier Witt then euer he had before mett withall, he broke forth into these wordes not without some choler Aut tu es Morus aut nullus; whereto Sir THOMAS readily replied Aut tu es Erasmus, aut diabolus; because at that time he was strangely disguised, and had sought to defende impious propositions; for although he was a singular Humanist, and one that could vtter his minde in a most eloquent phrase, yet had he alwaies a delight to scoffe at religious matters, and finde fault with all sortes of clergie men. He tooke a felicitie to sett out sundrie Commentaries vpon the Father’s workes, censuring them at his pleasure, for which cause he is tearmed Errans mus, because he wandreth here and there in other men’s haruests; yea, in his writings he is sayd73 Feller, who gives the reference lib. i. ep. ii.p.179to haue hatched manie of those eggs of heresie, which the apostate fryar Luther had before layde; not that he is to be accounted an heretike, for he would neuer be obstinate in anie of his opinions, yet would he irreligiously glaunce at all antiquitie and finde manie faultes with the present state of the Church. When he was in England Sir THOMAS MORE vsed him most courteously, doing manie offices of a dear friend for him, as well by his word as his purse; whereby he bound Erasmus so straytely vnto him, that he euer spoke and wrote vpon all occasions most highly in his praise; but Sir THOMAS in successe of time grew lesse affectionate vnto him, by reason he saw him still fraught with much vanitie and vnconstancie in respect of religion; as when Tindall obiecteth vnto Sir Thomas that his darling Erasmus had translated the word Church into Congregation, and Priest into Elder, even as himself had donne, Sir THOMAS answered thereto, yf my darling Erasmus hath translated those places with the like wicked intent that Tindall hath donne, he shall be no more my darling, but the Divell’s darling. Finally, long after, having found in Erasmus’s workes manie thinges necessarily to be amẽded, he counselled him as his friend in some latter booke to imitate the example of S. Augustin, who did sett out a booke of Retractations, to correct in his writing what he had vnaduisedly written in the heat of youth; but he that was farre different from S. Augustin in humilitie, would neuer follow his counsell; and therefore he is censured by the Church for a busie fellow: manie of his bookes are condemned, and his opinions accounted erroneous, though he alwaies lived a Catholike Priest; and hath written most sharpely against all those new Gospellers who then beganne to appeare in the world; and in a letter to John Fabius, Bishopp of Vienna, he sayth that he hateth these seditious opinions, with the which at this day the world is miserably shaken; neither doth he dissemble, saith he, being so addicted to pietie, that if he incline to any parte of the ballance, he will bende rather to superstition thanp. 180to impietie ; by which speach he seemeth in doubtfull words to taxe the Church with superstition and the new Apostolicall bretheren with impietie.”74 Such was the man who went on pilgrimage religionis ergo to Walsingham.In 1509 Erasmus came to reside at Cambridge. It should be borne in mind, that every one who was able made a pilgrimage in person to our Ladye of Walsingham, and many sent their yearly offerings; indeed, Camden says that those who were able and did not go thither were considered as impious, and Erasmus mentions the annual offerings. A pilgrimage, therefore, to Walsingham was the to. pre,pon—the “correct thing;” and Erasmus was nothing loath; he, as a time-server, would do as others did. They went in a spirit of devotion. He saw that a visit to Walsingham would enable him to gratify his inordinate pride, to perpetrate an unseemly joke in the hallowed sanctuary itself of our Ladye, and to make a display of his fancied superior acquirements in letters, at the expense of many distinguished University men and the excellent Augustinian Canons of Walsingham, who bore a very high reputation for culture. Moreover, it would give him a character for piety and a consequent better position at Cambridge. Otherwise, one is at a loss to understand why this ex-Augustinian Canon, who so much disapproved of pilgrimages, or, as he endeavours to explain it, the abuse of pilgrimages, should, in accordance with a practice, which he lost no opportunity of condemning, have gone himself on a pilgrimage to Walsingham. No doubt Erasmus felt that a pilgrimage, undertaken by Erasmus, could under no circumstances be considered as an abuse, but rather, that it ought to be regarded as a model of what a pilgrimage religionis ergo should be. To judge, however, from his own description, it is about the greatest abuse of a pilgrimage on record.74 The Life and Death of Sir Thomas More. Written by M. T. M., s.l.v.a., pp. 109-113.p. 181Those who go on pilgrimage usually prepare themselves by some extra act of piety, or mortification, and by approaching the Holy Sacraments and receiving the blessing of Holy Church. Erasmus did not do in like manner. He composed an ode, in Greek Iambics, to our Ladye, in which there is more than one allusion to himself, but no mention of, nor prayer for, the success of the Church, which was the ostensible motive of his visit to Walsingham. Having incubated these verses, he wished their appearance to be noised abroad, and so cackled accordingly. The Times was as yet in the womb of time ; consequently, he could not advertise his movements, or announce that, on such a day, Erasmus would go to Walsingham for the purpose of hanging up a Greek ode, so that his friends and the public might attend to witness the performance; but he did the next best thing, which was, to write from Cambridge on the 8th of May, 1511, to his friend Andrew Arnmonio,75 telling him “that he has made a vow for the success of the Church; will go to see our Lady of Walsingham, and hang up a votive Greek ode there: and enjoins him, if he should go thither, to enquire for it.” Ego, mi Andrea, pro felici serum ecclesiasticarum statu votum suscepi. Jam scio religionem probas. Visam Virginem Walsagamicam, atque illic Graecum carmen votivum suspendam. Id si quando te illo contuleris, require.76Provided that the Greek ode was hung up, and that some one of position, like Ammonio, would enquire for it, and so draw attention to it, the success of the Church, might, for all that Erasmus cared, have gone to the four winds.75 Ammonio, born at Lucca, c. 1470, went to Rome, then came to England, where Sir T. More was his protector. About 1513 he became Secretary of Latin Letters to Henry VIII., whom he attended on his campaign in France, and celebrated his victories in a Latin poem, which is lost. Leo X. named him Nuncio in England, which office he fulfilled, still keeping his post of Latin Secretary, till his deathin 1517.76 Opp. t. iii. pt. i. col. 106. ep. cxiv. In the Catalogue of Letters and Papers, &c., Henry VIII. vol. i. p. 244, where I first found this letter, the date given is the 9th of May, and the reference, Ep. Eras. vii. 17.p.182This is the ode, with its title; and from what Erasmus says, it is evident that the lines were written together, and without a break. I reproduce them strictly in accordance with his own words, viz., in capitals or uncial letters. “The title,” says he, descriptus erat verbis ac literis Romanis, sed majusculis. Grecci versus erant descripti Graecis majusculis, quae prima specie videntur referre majusculas Latinas. This was the pith of the joke. Hail! Jesu’s Virgin Mother ever blest!Alone of Women Mother eke and Maid!Others to thee their several offerings make:This one brings gold, that silver, while a third Bears to thy shrine his gift of costly gemsFor these each craves his boon—one strength of limb;One wealth; one, through his spouse’s fruitfulnessThe hope a father’s pleasing name to bear:One Nestor’s eld would equal. I, poor bard,Rich in goodwill, but poor in all beside,Bring thee my verse—nought have I else to bring—And beg, in quital of this worthless gift,That greatest meed—a heart that feareth God,And free for aye from sin’s foul tyrannyErasmus his vow.77 Opp. t. v. col. 1325.p. 183This euvch, is characteristic of the writer. Neither a Greek ode, nor a Latin ode, nor a Dutch ode was required; a sincere devotion to our Blessed Ladye would have suggested, that whatever he wrote, should have been in the vernacular, for the edification of the majority of the pilgrims; and any of his Cambridge friends would gladly have put his words into elegant English for him. But no! This would not have suited his purpose. His ideas were not those of our Ladye’s liegemen. Erasmus wished it to be known that he, Erasmus, the great Greek scholar, as he fancied himself, from down among the Dutchmen, had been to see Walsingham, and suspended a Greek ode there.Erasmus wrote much against the Catholic practice of making rich offerings at the different sanctuaries of our Ladye, and consequently in his ode he says to her that “others present valuable gifts, and expect favours in return from her, such as to attain the age of Nestor,”—a curious petition to make in a prayer—“ but that he, a poor poet penhj g’o[mwj —penniless—and rich in good will alone, can only offer her some verses.” But, then, they were Greek lines, and by Erasmus! and therefore, in his own estimation, priceless beyond gold and silver and precious stones. I imagine that, in penhj g’o[mwj, there is an allusion to his hackneyed grievance about the vigilance of the English custom-house officers. By the laws of the realm, no one was allowed to carry out of the kingdom more than six angels in coin; all above that sum was seized; and consequently, as he was leaving Dover, in 1499, after his first visit to England, the officers took from him all the money he possessed beyond that amount, 20l more or less. It is gratifying to learn from him that our custom-house officers were so vigilant, and, that as loyal Englishmen, they did their duty with their usual impartiality, even although Erasmus was the victim, and heedless of the risk they ran of being denounced by him to posterity in a Greek ode.Erasmus gives, also, the prayer which he recited in the sanctuary of our Ladye, and which bears the marks of having been carefully prepared for the occasion. Pilgrims, as a rule, do not publish the prayers which they make at various sanctuaries.“O alone of all women, Mother and Virgin, Mother most happy, Virgin most pure, now we, impure as we are, come to see thee (visimus) who art all pure; we salute thee; we worship thee as how we may with our humble offerings; may thy Son grant us, that, imitating thy most holy manners, we also, by the grace of the Holy Ghost, may deserve spiritually to conceive the Lord Jesus in our inmost soul (intimis animi visceribus), and once conceived, never to lose Him. Amen.”In the colloquy Erasmus says he made two journeys to Walsingham, which seems very improbable; and there is a strong presumption that what he relates of the second visit is the fruit of his own imagination. The colloquy is divided into two parts, dinner intervening.A good morning’s work had now been done; the hammer and nails and ladder had been procured, the Greek ode hung up, and the prayer to our Ladye repeated. Erasmus, exhausted with acting the part of a pilgrim religionis ergo, and with his labours, went off to dinner, doubtless at the principal hostelry, for although audax omnia perpeti, he would scarcely have had the impudence to intrude himself upon the hospitality of the Canons his former brethren, when he had secretly resolved, in his mind, to make them the subject of his own coarse sarcasm. It is to be hoped that the landlord had not degenerated from the reputation which his predecessors enjoyed during the previous century, as John Amundesham has related; and that he received the conceited Dutchman as an illustrious stranger, and fashioned his little bill accordingly.What follows, Erasmus professes to relate as having occurred on his second visit to Walsingham. After dinner he returned to the priory-church ; the ostensible motive was to enquire for the history of an object which, he says, was shown p.185there as a relic of our Blessed Ladye’s milk. After indulging in his usual language, he casually remarks that he was just about to leave the church, when “up come some of the mystagogi,78 who cast side looks at us, point at us with their fingers, run up to us, retire, come back again, nod to us, and seem as if they would like to say ‘How d’ye do?’ to us, if they had the courage.” Erasmus, according to his own account, was pleasant, and looked benignantly on them and smiled—soberly, of course; he had enjoyed his little dinner, and was not suffering from a surfeit of Norfolk pippins. He was in a high good humour. “At length one comes up and asks me my name. I give it. Am I, then, he, who two years previously had nailed up a votive inscription written in Hebrew? The very man, said I,” thus telling a lie, of which he convicts himself in the next lines. “Do you, then, write Hebrew?” enquires Menedemus. “Oh, dear, no!” replies Ogygius, i.e. Erasmus, “but these ‘muffs’ call everything Hebrew which they don’t understand.” 79Presently the Sub-Prior appears; and, like a true English gentleman, he courteously greets the visitor to Walsingham. “He told me,” says the vulgar Dutchman, “how many persons have laboriously exerted themselves, quantopere sudatum est a multis, to read those verses; how many spectacles had been wiped to no purpose. Whenever any aged doctor in theology or in the law had arrived, he was taken to the tablet; one said the letters were Arabic, another that they were no letters at all; finally one was found who could read the title! This was written in Roman words and letters, but in uncials. The verses were78 I give the word which Erasmus uses. Mystagogus is employed by Cicero, and means one who shows the rarities of a temple to strangers. I am unable to say whether the Mystagogi of Walsingham were lay-brothers of the Priory, or externs, corresponding to the modern vergers. Erasmus says that the Canons themselves did not act as showmen, perhaps, in reality to let it be inferred that he was considered a person of consequence since the Sub-Prior came to him.79 Sed isti quidquid non intelligunt Hebraicum vacant. As the word “muff” is now given in Bellow’s most excellent Bona-fide Pocket Dictionary of the French and English Languages (London: Trubner & Co.),—I presume its use is so far warranted as to be placed in the mouth of Erasmus.p. 186written in Greek uncials, which, at first sight, appear to resemble Roman ones. On being requested, I gave the meaning of the verses in Latin, construing them word for word.”This is the key to the real purport of the carmen votium, and the main, if not the sole, motive of his visit to Walsingham, under the cloak of a pilgrim religionis ergo. As Achilles said to Ulysses—It was intended as a display of his fancied superior learning, and Walsingham was selected as being the most frequented spot in all England, as indeed Erasmus mentions, and often visited by foreign pilgrims. On this hitherto unchallenged evidence of his, many writers have not hesitated to hold up the worthy Augustinian Canons of Walsingham to scorn for their excessive ignorance, and to base upon it a wholesale conclusion that the other religious houses of England were in no better condition; a conclusion which it is impossible to draw from what Erasmus has written. I will admit that Greek was not so generally taught then as it now is; but no one will venture to affirm that Greek was absolutely unknown at Oxford and at Cambridge. Therefore, what amount of belief is to be given to Erasmus’s sweeping charge against the aged doctors in theology and in the law, many of whom were University men? for the charge is quite as heavy against them as against the Canons of Walsingham. Certain it is that the Augustinians understood Latin, if the evidence of Erasmus is received, for he says: “ On being requested, I gave the meaning of the verses in Latin, construing them word for word.” But it may be suggested that young Robert Aldrich was at hand, and may have acted as interpreter of the Latin. Possibly; but all that Erasmus says of his capabilities is, that he was well skilled in German. Another most essential point has been overlooked, because the real bearing of the80 Iliad, ix. 312, 313.p. 187Roman uncial letters is not understood. At the time when Erasmus hung up his ode, Roman letters were scarcely, if at all, known in England. They would have been a novelty at Walsingham, as elsewhere, for all the printing in the land was in black letter, and therefore it would be no proof of ignorance to be unacquainted with Roman uncials. Not very long ago, in the sale of Mr. Bragge’s splendid collection of illuminated manuscripts, a breviary which had belonged to the last Prior of Walsingham, Richard Vowell, and contained a fair amount of pretty flower pattern, was sold for 126l. The ode of Erasmus would not have fetched as many farthings. In all likelihood this breviary had been written and illuminated in the scriptorium of the Priory. Yet there are now many educated men who would be utterly unable to read one line of it, and to whom a column of black letter, printed with contractions, would be so much “Hebrew.” It would be very unfair for palaeographists and antiquaries to charge them with ignorance on that account ; nevertheless, this is the reasoning of Erasmus. And this being said, I gladly take leave of Erasmus and of Erasmus his ode.The following letter from the Lord High Admiral of England to his sovereign would have rather astonished my Lords of the Admiralty of the present day. A captain of the fleet, being in great danger of losing his ship, invoked our Ladye of Walsingham, and made a vow, if she would preserve him, never to eat flesh nor fish until he had been on pilgrimage to her. The Lord High Admiral gives him leave of absence to fulfil his vow ; and this is the letter from Sir Edward Howard to his sovereign, dated April 17, 1513“ Sir,—(I have) taken all Master Arthur’s folks and bestowe them in the arme, wher (I am deficient by) reson of deth, by casualte and other-ways. And, Sir, (I have given him liber)te to go hoome ; for, Sir, when he was in extreme danger . . . from hym he called upon Our Ladye of Walsingham for help and com(fort, and made) a vow that, an’ it pleased God and her to deliverp.188him out of the pe(ril, he wde vol)ner eet fleshe nor fyche tyl he had seen heer. Sir, I a(ssure you) he was in mervelous danger, for it was ‘- merveil that the shipp bey(ng with) al her sayls strikyns full but a rok with her starn that she “br(ake) not in peces at the furst stroke.” And adds, his absence will be a great loss to them. Recommends him highly to the King. Hopes he will give him comfortable words for his bravery.81The last pilgrimage to Walsingham which I shall notice is that of Cardinal Wolsey, in August, 1517. Writing in that month to Henry the Eighth he says that he is anxious to see his Grace and know of his good estate, but has been so vexed with the sweat, he dare not yet come to his presence. Proposes to start for Walsingham on Monday next, and from thence to Our Ladye of Grace, in fulfilment of his vow, which may correct the weakness of his stomach.82On the 30th of August the Venetian Ambassador, Sebastian Giustiniani, writes to the Council of Ten saying that he had sent his secretary toWolsey several times for an audience: could never get one: so at last, as Wolsey is going on a pilgrimage to fulfil a vow at a shrine some hundred miles hence, resolved at any rate to speak to him. Found him with a troubled countenance and bent brow. Told him of the Turkish news, which he said he had heard already. Perceiving that he said nothing at all to me on this or any other topic, I then offered to accompany his right reverend lordship on his journey with an honourable train, at my own cost; but without appearing flattered even by this proposal, he said he had no need of any additional company beyond his own retinue, which was both honourable and numerous. He has been ill of late; and really his appearance, in addition to his mental perturbation, indicates this, although the profuse perspiration endured by him has not quite carried off his wrath.8381 Letters and Papers, &c. Henry VIII. vol. i. n. 3903, p. 538. MS. Cott. Calig. E ii. 141.82 Letters and Papers, &c. Henry VIII. vol. ii. p. 1538, n. 38, Appendix.83 Ibid. p. 1154.p.189Thirteen days later—i.e., September 12— Guistiniani writes to the Doge that a French ambassador has arrived from the Emperor, a man of no account, apparently only to borrow money. He has not yet had an audience of the King, who keeps aloof at Windsor to avoid the sickness, or of Wolsey, who has gone to Walsingham.84On his return from his pilgrimage, Wolsey writes to Sir R. Wingfield, saying he has been so vexed with fever since his return from Walsingham, that he has been obliged to detain Wingfeld’s servant Bysshop, &c. This letter has no date.85A document in the Public Record Office contains a declaration of the expenses of the household of Thomas, Cardinal of York, for three years, ending December 4, tenth Henry the Eighth. The expenses for the ninth year, including the journey to Walsingham, come to 2,616l. 5s. 2¾d.86Offerings, bequests, &c., to Our Ladye of Walsingham.It is greatly to be regretted that the “Annals of the chapel of Walsingham,” from which Capgrave quotes, have perished. They appear to have been a register of the principal offerings and donations to our Ladye. Roger Ascham, who visited Cologne in 1550, makes this observation: “The three Kings be not so rich, I believe, as was the Ladye of Walsingham. Erasmus speaks of the votive statues of gold, and of silver gilt, which were shown to him; and says that a day would not suffice to describe the world of admirable things which he saw there, and which were kept under the altar of our Ladye, from whence they were brought out for him to see.”87 Consequently, some idea may be formed of the riches of the sanctuary of Our Ladye of Walsingham.By an entry in the Wardrobe book of the 28th of Edward the First, it appears that84Ibid. p. 1160, n. 3675.85Ibid. p. 1540, n. 40, Appendix.86 Ibid. p. 1412, n. 4623.87 Depromit (mystagogus) ex ipso altari mundum rerum admirabilium.p. 190the King was accustomed to make a yearly offering to our Ladye: “ On the 15th of May of this year, i.e. 1300, he offered to the image of our Ladye in the chapel of Walsingham a clasp of gold of the value of eight marcs; and on the same day the Queen offered to our Ladye, by the hands of John de But, a clasp of the value of six and a half marcs.” 88Of Henry, Duke of Lancaster, who died at Leicester, on the 13th of May, 1361, Capgrave says:“In the annals of the chapel at Walsingham it is mentioned that this Henry gave to our Blessed Ladye a vase with handles,89 on which he expended almost four hundred marcs. In the same annals it is also written that the father of this Henry, who was Earl of Lancaster, and not Duke, offered to our Ladye an Angelical Salutation with precious stones—salutationem angelicam cum lapidibus pretiosis—the value of which several persons esteemed at four hundred marcs.”90This is one of the many instances of the difficulty which the archaeologist has to determine what is to be understood by Salutatio Angelica. It has been suggested that this offering consisted of a valuable pair of beads; but I have never found any instance of a pair of beads being described by Salutatio Angelica; moreover, it is cum lapidibus, and not de lapidibus. Hence it is most probable that this was a tablet with a representation of the Annunciation, and adorned with precious stones. Six years later, in 1367, Sir Thomas de Uvedale left to the chapel of Our Ladye of Walsingham a tablet of silver, gilt, with the Salutation of the Blessed Virgin, together with a painted image.91Sums of money for offerings and candles are frequently recorded.Thus in the accounts of Elizabeth of York:85 Lib. Garderobae, p. 334.89 The manuscripts differ here: one has urnam illam cum libis ; another, urnam illam cum aliis.90 De illustr. Henricis, p. 164. Rolls Edit.91 Surrey Archaeol. Collect. vol. iii. p. 151.