The following is the account of Thomas's life as given by John Ayre in "The Early Works of Thomas Becon, S.T.P. ... being the treatises published by him in the reign of King Henry VIII." This was published by the Parker Society in 1843, and was edited by the Rev. John Ayre. I will be inserting extra information to indicate other findings, corrections (or alternative views) and to explain comments of Ayre's, where appropriate. A few of the footnotes are of the form "see below - p. N" - I will be adding more information about what this page contains, or a scan of or extract from it.


OF BECON'S personal history much less is known, than from the evident popularity of his works, and the estimation in which he was held by his contemporaries, we should have supposed would be recorded of him. It is true that memoirs of his life have frequently been written; but those of older date are peculiarly meagre in detail, and later biographers have been able to add but little[1]. Besides, he has frequently been confounded with another person of the same name and of the same university, and has therefore sometimes been represented as holding offices, or obtaining preferment, at a period when in truth he was no more. Hence it is mainly from the incidental notices of himself which are scattered up and down in his writings[2] that we derive our most authentic, certainly our most interesting information. Even the county in which he was born has been variously stated, by some as Norfolk, by others as Suffolk[3]. There can be little doubt, however, that it was the one first-named; as, in the general preface to the collected folio edition of his works, he speaks of "my country of Norfolk[4]." The year of his birth must have been 1511 or 1512; since we find his age inscribed upon the portrait which frequently accompanies his writings: for example, in "The Governance of Virtue," 1566, we read, "Ætatis suæ 41, Anno Domini 1553;" and in the folio edition, "Anno Ætatis suæ 49, 1560." It seems probable that he lost his father in early life; for his mother had married again and become a second time a widow, as he himself informs us, at the closeof Henry VIII's reign. Of his elementary training we have no account; but it appears that before he was sixteen he was a member of St John's College, Cambridge, where he proceededto his first degree of bachelor of arts, in 1530. It may be added here that he eventually graduated doctor of divinity. It was during his residence in the university that Becon, who had been from his studious of the holy scripture, was a diligent hearer of Latimer, "to whom," he says, "next to God, I am most especially bound to give most hearty thanks for the knowledge, if any I have, of God, and of his most blessed word." He mentions also his obligations to George Stafford[5], fellow of Pembroke Hall, and reader of divinity, the saying which had passed into a proverb: "When Master Stafford read, and Master Latimer preached, then was Cambridge blessed." Under such instructors as these was God training up the youthful Becon for future extended usefulness. From these he imbibed the great doctrines of gospel truth; and though at that time even the most zealous and enlightened divines in England had not altogether emerged from the darkness of popish superstition, and Becon for several years after still held various tenets, which he 'ultimately rejected, yet there can be no doubt that a solid basis was then laid, and that the good seed was sown in his heart, which yielded very soon the fruit of blessing and yet further promise.
[1] A life of Becon appears in Lupton's "History of the Modem Protestant Divines." Lond. 1637, Ritson, ranking him with tbe poets of the sixteenth century, gives a very brief inaccurate sketch of him in his "Bibliographia Poetica." Biographies are prefixed to the late selections from his writings published by the Religious Tract Society ("British Reformers" Lond. 1828-31), and by the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge ("Selections from the Works of Thomas Becan," Lond. 1839). Several particulars may also be gleaned from Fox and Strype. All these with some other works have been consulted by the writer of the present notice. [2] By Philemon, the name of an interlocutor in his dialogues, Becon seems generally to mean himself: the chief particulars he has noted are in his treatise called the" Jewel of Joy." [3] Strype in his life of Cranmer calls him a Suffolk man; in that of Aylmer, says he was of Norfolk. [4] See below, page 9. [5] George Stavert, or Stafford, of Durbam, was the first who read lectures from the scriptures: previously only the Sentences were read. He was proctor of the University 1523, and University preacher. He died of the plague caught from a person whom he went to visit and instruct. Of the interval between his graduating in arts and his ordination we have no account; and it is but a conjecture founded on his own statement that he was "a poor scholar," and on his known subsequent practice, that he might possibly be then engaged in the instruction of youth. He was not, it seems,ordained till about the year 1538, when he was twenty-six or twenty-seven: for in his general preface, dated Jan. 17, 1564, he speaks of himself as having then been 26 years in the ministry[1]. His first preferment was the vicarage of Brensett or Brenzett, near Romney in Kent, at present a very small village, and probably more insignificant three centuries ago. By his labours here, and his writings, (for he soon began to be an author,) he appears to have attracted the notice and obtained the friendship of several of the neighbouring gentry. His earlier treatises are, with scarcely an exception, dedicated to gentlemen whose residences were in the vicinity of his cure. About this period, it may be added, he suffered much from long and dangerous sickness[2]. The times when Becon entered the ministry were full of danger. And though he was exceedingly cautious in his manner of speaking of the doctrines and ceremonies then prescribed, and, as may be seen, almost lavish in his praises of the reigning monarch; and though also he had published under a feigned name, styling himself Theodore Basil; yet the sharp eye, which under the act of the six articles was ever awake to detect what was called heresy, was fixed upon him; and he was compelled, besides suffering, it would seem, some imprisonment, to make a public submission. We have no exact detail of the opinions for which he was troubled, and of the extent to which he submitted. But we find in the list which Fox[3] has given of persons presented in London in the year 1541, that Becon, and also his friend Robert Wisdom[4], parish priest of St Margaret's Lothbury, "were brought to Paul's cross to recant and to revoke their doctrine, and to burn their books." Bishop Kennett fixes this recantation in the year 1542. It commenced: "Worshipful Audience, for declaration of my penitent heart and the testifying unto you of mine unfeigned conversion from error to truth, I occupy this day the place of a penitent, praying you to give credit to that which I shall now say of myself, &c.[5]" Bale (for to him the Epistle published in the name of Henry Stalbrydge is attributed) supplies some particulars. "You," he says, addressing Gardiner and Bouner, "made Alexander Seton most miserably to recant for your false free will; William Tolwyn, for your holy water making; Thomas Becon, for your images, your chastity, and your satisfactions; Robert Wisdom, for your saints' veneration, your ceremonies, and the pope's old religion, with such other[6]."
[1] See below, page 27. [2] See below, page 308. [3] Fox, Acts and Monuments. Lond. 1684. Vol. II. p.450. Also Strype's Eccles. Mem. Lond. 1721. Vol. I. p. 367. [4] Wisdom was one of the persons recommended, on the deprivation of archbishop Dowdall in 1551, by Cranmer for the see of Armagh. He was afterwards archdeacon of Ely. He was the author of the old version of Psal. cxxv., and also of tbe hymn subjoined: "Preserve us, Lord, by thy dear word." [5] Bp. Kennett's Collections. Lansdowne MSS. Vol. XLVI. No. 12. [6] Epistle Exhortatorye of an Englyshe Christiane, &c. fol, xv. This submission did net secure him from 'future danger: and finding the metropolis and its precincts no safe residence, he retired into the country. "When neither by speaking nor by writing I could do good, I thought it best," says he, in the" Jewel of Joy" not rashly to throw myself into the ravening paws of these greedy wolves; for a certain space to absent myself from their tyranny, according to the doctrine of the gospel." Bidding farewell, therefore, to his mother and other friends, Becon repaired first into the Peak of Derbyshire, intending to support himself by pupils. He was a stranger in this part of the kingdom, and had no reason to expect a welcome in a region then regarded as most rude and uncivilized, and where it appears popish superstition at the time generally prevailed. But that God, who leads his people safely by a way they know not, soon raised him up friends, and introduced him to those who were his brethren in the faith. Coming into a little village, called Alsop in the Dale, he met there a gentleman bearing also the name of Alsop, the proprietor the place, a man both advanced in years and ripe in christian character. This Bercn soon discovered. For on their first acquaintance Mr Alsop shewed him his library, wherein he said were his choicest treasures. Among those books were the scriptures in Coverdale's translation, with several works of the reformed writers, including all the treatises of Becon himself put forth under the name of Basil. The man who prized these volumes must be like-minded with their author; and doubtless the two· enjoyed delightful intercourse. While in the Peak, Becon learned that Robert Wisdom was in Staffordshire. He forthwith resolved to join him. They had stood together in peril and persecution; and it would be pleasant to meet in comparative safety. It was in the house of John Old[7], a. faithful brother, that Wisdom was; and with equal hospitality and good will did Old entertain Becon. But in a short time Wisdom was called away by urgent letters; and the friends parted with tears. Becon remained in Staffordshire upwards of a twelvemonth, again occupied in the instruction of youth; and his labours, he had every reason to believe, in endeavouring to implant in their breasts the true knowledge of the gospel, were not in vain. The people here were somewhat less superstitious than in Derbyshire, though the priests savoured generally little or nothing of scripture truth. Becon afterwards removed into Warwickshire, where he was again employed as a tutor to gentlemen's sons, and also again participated in the hospitality of John Old who was now a resident in this county. In Warwickshire the happiest hours of his retirement were spent. In other parts - and besides the counties mentioned, he was in Leicestershire, where he met his countryman, John Aylmer, afterwards bishop of London, living as tutor in the family of the marquis of Dorset - in other parts he found a few friends; but in Warwickshire he had the friendly acquaintance of many learned and pious men. While he was in their company, "methought," he says, "I was clean delivered from Egypt, and quietly placed in the new glorious Jerusalem which is described in the Revelation of blessed John." Among these worthies was one whom Becon had especial cause to honour, one from whose lips he had long before learned the lessons of eternal wisdom: it was the venerable Hugh Latimer, a name never to be mentioned without affectionate reverence. A meeting under such circumstances between the aged teacher and the more youthful disciple must have had peculiar interest. Latimer might now see the fruit of his earlier labours: and he doubtless blessed God for it, and was encouraged to tread more strenuously that course which was afterwards gloriously terminated by the martyr's crown.
[7] Old became vicar of Cubbington, Warwickshire, and afterwards prebendary of Hereford. He was an exile in queen Mary's reign.While in Warwickshire, Becon received the unexpected news of the death of his step-father: he felt it therefore his duty, and the friends around him fully approved his determination, to return to his native country, in order to comfort his mother, now for the second time a widow. In addition to the tutorial employment already noticed, he had not been idle with his pen during his stay in the midland counties. Several treatises he had composed, of which the "Governance of Virtue" was one; written, as he says in the preface to it, "in the bloody, boisterous, burning time, when the reading of the holy bible, the word of our souls' health, was forbidden the poor lay people" - a fact which will explain why he made it in great part a mass of scripture quotations. He had also translated a few works from Latin into English. Some of these productions he had ventured from his retirement to put forth in print, though still under an assumed name: the rest he reserved till a more favourable opportunity should present itself. He incurred, indeed, no slight risk in publishing at all at this time; for his works were included in a proclamation dated July 8, 1546, (which may be seen in Fox[1],) against so-called heretical books. The accession of king Edward VI. opened to Becon both personal security and a wider field of usefulness. He was instituted, March 24, 1547, to the rectory of St Stephen Walbrook, on the presentation of tbe Grocer's Company[2]: he was also made by archbishop Cranmer (to whom he was chaplain) one of the six preachers in Canterbury Cathedral[3]. The origin of his acquaintancewith this eminent prelate does not appear. But there is reasonable ground for believing, that it was at a period much prior to the time at which we are now arrived, For in his "Book of Matrimony," while relating a conversation he remembered which took place at the  archbishop's table upon the lawfulness of priests' marriages, he calls him "that glorious martyr of Christ, but now a most glorious saint in heaven, sometime my lord and master and most beneficial patron, and maintainer of my studies, not only of my studious travails, but also of many other." These words, coupled with the fact of Becon's earlier residence in Kent, may with some kind of probability be taken to indicate, that he had Cranmer's countenance at a time, rather when he was preparing for future labours, than when, almost arrived at middle life, he was actually engaged in those labours. The discussion referred to may be supposed to have occurred early in king Edward's reign, when the subject came formally before the convocation. Becon dedicated his "Treatise of Fasting," which is printed in the second part of his collected works, to archbishop Cranmer. In the preface he speaks gratefully of the kindnesses he received. He does not enumerate them, but he describes them as "the manifold benefits which ye have bounteously bestowed upon me." Strype, it may be added, calls him a man "well-known to the archbishop[4]," Becon was also now chaplain to the protector duke of Somerset, and seems to have been for some time an inmate in his family at Sheen. During the duke's imprisonment in 1549, daily prayers were offered for him by his household; and when at length, Feb. 6, 1550, he was set at liberty, there was a form of thanksgiving for his graces deliverance used, which was "gathered," we are told, "and set forth by Thomas Becon, minister there[5]."
[1] Fox, Acts and Monuments, Vol. II. p. 496. [2] Newcourt. Repertor. Eccles. Paroch. Londinens. Lond. 1708-10. Vol 1. p. 540. [3] The other five are stated to have/been Nicholas Ridley, afterwards bishop of London and martyr, Lancelot Ridley, Richard Turner, Richard Beaseley, and John Joseph. [4] Strype's Life of Cranmer. Lond. 1694. Book III. chap. xv. p. 357. [5] Bp. Kennett's Collections, Vol. XLVI. No. 12.Becon is also, stated to have read at Oxford in this reign. The precise station he there occupied does not appear: probably it was as a lecturer in divinity, and by the appointment, it may be supposed, of Cranmer. The statement we owe to Lupton, who says, that "he did profess divinity in the flourishing university of Oxford, without impeachment or molestation[6]." During king Edward's reign Becon wrote many treatises. The second volume, or part, of the folio edition is, most of it, composed of works written at this time, their character being generally devotional, with but little of a controversial nature. But the calm he enjoyed was rudely broken up, and he was destined to encounter greater perils and persecution than any through which he had previously passed. For on July 6, 1553, their young Josiah, as the writers of that age delighted to call king Edward, exchanged his earthly diadem for a crown of immortality. Immediately on his decease,after the assumption of power by queen Mary, the reformed preachers began to be silenced, deprived of their cures, and cast into prison. Becon was one of the first on whom severity was practised. He was committed to the Tower, by an order of council, as a seditious preacher, August 16. His companions in tribulation were John Bradford, and Veron[7]. He continued in confinement till March 22, 1554. He was also ejected from his living as being a married priest. By what means Becon was delivered from his "most miserable imprisonment," as he styles it, is uncertain; but there is no reason to imagine that it was through any dereliction of his principles, that he escaped the fate by which so many sealed their doctrine with their blood. Indeed, Fox seems to attribute his release to a mistake on the part of Gardiner[8]. Immediately on his deliverance he composed, as a testimony of gratitude to him whose kindness had rescued him from the jaws of the lion, a metrical version of Psalms ciii. cxii., printed in the third volume of his collected works.
[6] Lupton's History of the Modern Protestant Divines, Lond. 1637. p. 331. [7] Veron was a Frenchman, and very eminent as a preacher. He was afterward rector of St Martin's, Ludgate, and prebendary of St Paul's. [8] "What should we say to Master Becon, who, although he recanted with other in king Henry's time, yet in queen Mary's days how hardly escaped he with his life out of the Tower, had not God's providence blinded Winchester's eyes, in mistaking his name," &c. This passage, found in the edition of 1563, pp. 682-3, was intended by Fox as an apology for not noticing certain recantations of those who afterwards returned to the doctrine they forsook. He therefore seems to have omitted it in his subsequent editions, as unnecessary, when the account of these recantations was given.But England was now no place of safety for him. He therefore repaired to the continent, and addressed from Strasburgh, an "Epistle to the afflicted people of God which suffer persecution for the testimony of Christ's Gospel." This he sent home; and it was read in the scattered assemblies of those who still dared to meet together. There was added to it a "Humble Supplication unto God for the restoring of his holy word unto the Church of England." These treatises were cheering to the poor persecuted remnant; and Becon gratefully acknowledged afterwards, that they had "not read of the brethen without fruit." Such a humble hope indeed, as he expressed therein was well calculated to cheer them with the persuasion that ere long the dark cloud would pass away, and the clear light of gospel doctrine again shine forth. He acknowledged that the visitation had come not undeservedly upon the land, and he called to deep repentance before God; but he shewed also the tender always chide, and summed up, in nervous language, his annual belief that the time of deliverance was not far distant. "Let us not despair," he exclaimed "but rather go forth to pray unto God, after the example of the Canaanite. If we in this manner behave ourselves toward the Lord our God, we shall without fail shortly behold the wonderful works of God. We shall see the downfal of our enemies, with all their tyranny, papistry, idolatry, &c. We shall see the glorious gospel of our Saviour Christ spring again, grow, increase, prosper, flourish, and triumph. We shall see God truly honoured, not after the fond fantasy of men, but according to his blessed will and commandment. We shall see antichrist, that son of perdition, slain with the breath of the Lord's mouth, and Satan trodden under our feet." These anticipations were not visionary. He did behold what he so longed for; and surely he and many of his fellow exiles, when they pressed once more the shore of their beloved country, and contrasted their sad leave-taking with their joyful reurn, must have been ready in the temper of the ancient saint to exclaim: "Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace; for mine eyes have seen thy salvation." Becon also, when abroad, wrote a letter or treatise addressed to popish priests, called the "Displaying of the Popish Mass." But while thus usefully occupying himself upon the continent,. his enemies at home were not inactive. For a proclamation was issued, June 13, 1555, against heretical books, among which those, as on a former occasion, of "Theodore· Basil, otherwise called Thomas Becon," were included. This proclamation, printed by Fox[1], denounced a severe punishment against any who should sell, read, or keep any of these books or writings. At length the unhappy reign of Mary closed; and a brighter day dawned for England on the accessionof Elizabeth, Nov. 17, 1558. Becon therefore now returned home. It was reasonable to expect that a man so distinguished, and who had suffered so·much, would speedily be placed in some prominent station. Accordingly we find his name in a list, made in 1559, of eminent persons, and with a mark against it denoting that he was one of those pitched on for the chief preferments[2]. Why he did not attain such a place, does not appear. He was, however, restored to his London benefice, and also soon replaced in the cathedral of Canterbury. For when in September, 1560, the archbishop held his visitation, we find Becon mentioned on that occasion as one of the prebendaries of that church[3]. A little after he was presented to the rectory of Buckland, in Hertfordshire (the date of his admission being Oct. 22, 1560), succeeding there John Tilney, on the presentation of James Altham[4]. He was also appointed to Christ Church, Newgate Street, by the mayor and common council of London, as governors of St Bartholomew's Hospital; and he obtained Aug. 10, 1563, the rectory of St Dionis Backchurch[5] from the dean and chapter of Canterbury. These last livings it seems he held to his death. But Becon's behaviour in the convocation of 1562 must be briefly noticed. After the establishment of the articles of faith, the matter of rites and ceremonies came to be debated. A paper was here put forward containing six propositions for the omission of some ceremonies that were yet retained. These propositions were rejected by a majority of one, Becon's name appearing in the large minority[6]. We also find his name soon after at the head of the petition of the lower house of convocation, for certain orders to be observed in the church[7].
[1] Fox, Acts and Monuments, Vol. III. pp. 225, 6. Strype, Eccles. Memor, chap. xxxii. Vol. III. p.250. [2] Strype's Annals, Lond , 1725. chap. xii. Vol. I. p.154. [3] Strype's Life of Parker. Lond. 1711. Book II. chap. ii. p.72. [4] Bp. Kennett's Collections. Vol. XLVI. p.12. [5] Strype's Life of Parker, Book II. chap. xiii, p.130. Newcourt, Repertor. Vol. I. pp.320, 330. [6] Strype's Annals, chap. xxix. Vol. I. pp.335-39. [7] Strype's Annals, chap. xxx. Vol. 1. pp.339-43. In January, 1564, the ecclesiastical regulations which had been determined on were put to the clergy of London for their subscription. Several altogether refused, and were sequestrated and afterwards deprived. Others, among whom Whittingham and Becon are mentioned; declined at first, but afterwards subscribed and were preferred. Such is Strype's statement"; but it does not appear what preferment, was subsequently bestowed on Becon. For though Strype seems, by what he afterwards says, to mean St Stephen's Walbrook, yet, as above shewn, that had been presented to him at an earlier date. His objections, it would seem, by this statement, to the established ritual were but temporary, and not insisted on. That he was sincerely attached to the church of England, admits of no dispute. In his epistle before mentioned, from Strasburgh, he attributes the fiery trial which was then afflicting his country, among other causes, the light estimation of "the godly prayers and thanksgivings in our English tongue, whereby we might have been greatly edified," (referring doubtless to the book of common prayer,) and to the little regard paid to "the godly, learned, and faithful bishops." The terms on which he lived with archbishop Parker may also serve to confirm the opinion here offered. A letter may properly be subjoined, which he addressed, as it is stated by Tanner, to that prelate. It is preserved in the library of Corpus Christi College, Cambridge. "My most humble duty considered toward your grace: it may please your honour to understand that, as it greatly delighted me to hear of your grace's prosperous return into this country, which (I doubt not) shall be greatly both unto the glory of God and unto the profit of his people, so likewise it not a little grieved me, that hitherto through certain infirmities and diseases, wherewith I have been troubled more than this half year at certain times, unto the great loss of my time and hindrance of my studies, I could not attend upon your grace according to my duty. But to declare in the mean season my serviceable and faithful heart toward your honour, I send unto your grace an old monument worthy to be preserved and embraced for the antiquity's sake, namely, an exposition upon the gospels of St Mark and of St Luke, with all the epistles of St Paul, both in Latin and English: whereu~to my wife, your grace's daily oratrix, hath added her poor present, that is, a couple of fat capons and six chickens; both of us most entirely wishing from God unto your grace continual health and prosperous felicity, with daily increase of honour. From your grace's metropolitical church of Canterbury, this present Wednesday. " Your grace's most humble, "THOS. BECON." In 1566 Becon preached one of the Lent sermons at Paul's Cross. His powers as a preacher must have been considerable; for we are informed, not only that generally the people flocked to his discourses, but that on the special occasion just mentioned so deep was the impression made, that the lord mayor requested of the archbishop of Canterbury, that Becon might be appointed to preach one of the Spital sermons the ensuing Easter. In this same year he published his latest work - his "Postils," or lectures on the gospel of the day, being doubtless those which he had in course delivered to his people. The preface to this, as well as to the folio edition of his works, two years earlier, is dated from Canterbury; and it seems probable that he spent generally the remainder of his life in his prebendal house, where also it is believed that he died. But the year his death is differently stated. Some place it in 1567, others in 1570[9]. Whichever be the accurate date, it is clear that, though not arrived at extreme old age, he had passed the meridian of life. Death to him was gain. In the world he had found tribulation. It was sweet to have finished his troubled course, and to have reached the calm blessedness of everlasting repose. He rests from his labours; and his works do follow him.
[8] Strype's Life of Grindal. London 1710. Book I, chap. X. pp.98, 9. [9] If Newcourt's record be accurate, as in all probability it is, Becondied in the first-named year. For successors are there mentioned as appointed to the two livings of Christ Church and St Dionis, vacant by death. Repertor. Vol. I. pp.320, 330.His character may readily be understood from his favourite maxim: "If you know all things besides, but know not Christ, you know nothing: if you know Christ, you know enough." His mottoes, adopted probably from the life of danger he had been so long compelled to lead, were: "In life we are in death: in death we are in life;" and, "Live mindful of death." Little can be said of Becon's family. The maiden name of his wife, and the time of his marriage, are both unknown. His union may, however, be supposed to have taken place in the reign of king Edward VI., not only because he is reported to have been deprived under queen Mary, as a married priest, but moreover because we find him dedicating his "Catechism," first published in its present shape in 1560, to his children, then living; having lost, as he tells them, two sons by death, one of whom at least must have been older than the sons at that time alive. This Catechism is in the form of a dialogue between a father (Becon himself) and a son, the son being represented as about six years of age - an age taken most probably from that of his eldest child. If, therefore, he had had one or two children previously born, we cannot perhaps err much in supposing that his marriage took place in 1550 1551. It could hardly have been later; and that it was at a much earlier period is very improbable, both on account of his manifold "tossings to and fro" in the latter part of Henry VIII.'s reign, and also because, even prior to those troubles, he speaks of himself as "having no house of his own[1]." The names of his children were Theodore and Christophile, both dead before 1560; a second Theodore, Basil[2], and Rachel. Of their history we know nothing, with one exception. There is a letter among the Burghley Papers to that great statesman from a Theodore Becon, dated Feb. 7, 1578[3]. If it be, as with much probability it may be supposed, really from the son of our author, it furnishes au interesting glimpse of the subsequent fortunes of one of the family. The writer, we gather from it, was a member of the University of Cambridge, and had been befriended by Lord Burghley. It is pleasing to see one, who must have known and respected the father, the kind patron of the son. Becon's worldly circumstances were far from opulent. In the preface to his "Christmas Banquet" he speaks of his poverty, and, as just mentioned, his "having no house of his own[4]." In his dedication to the "Policy of War" he uses similar expressions, declaring his "riches not worth a galley half-penny, besides a few books and a little slender apparel[5]." Nor must this be supposed the condition only of his earlier life. For in the preface to his "Catechism," written in 1560, in the course of which year we have found him prebendary of Canterbury, he declares that, from his youth even up to that day, he had "ever been attempted," such are his words, "with the cruel assaults of envious fortune." The language in which, in this piece, he addresses his children, is very affecting: he commends them "to the merciful and bounteous providence of God, which never Ieaveth the succourless;" and, in reference to the Catechism he was inscribing to them, he says: "Take it with joyful heart as a testimony of your father's good will towards you; yea, receive it as your patrimony, left of your father unto you, which otherwise is not able to enrich you; and glory no less in this my gift, than other children do in the riches of this world."
[1] See below, page 61. [2] These were probably named from the appellation he had assumed in his earlier writings. [3] Burghley Papers. Lansdowne .MSS. Vol. XXVII. No. 78. [4] See below, page 61. [5] See page 235.Becon's history as an author extends over four reigns. For in so many, namely, those of Henry VIII., Edward VI., Mary, and Elizabeth, through a period of at least twenty-five years did he diligently occupy himself as a writer. His earliest work was probably published in. 1541. The "Pomander of Prayer," printed in 1532, has indeed been ascribed to him; but, it would seem, not with sufficient reason. His productions had their widest circulation as tracts. The names he gave them exposed him to the ridicule of Ben Jonson, it is said, and other dramatists of the day. But that he had gained a vast influence over the public mind, is evident from several circumstances, not only that the editions were numerous, and that his name was eagerly seized on by a printer to recommend a book[6], but also from the more specific fact, that Day thought it worth his while to apply for a royal licence to print Becon's works. This he obtained in the following form:- "1553. 25 March. Edward the Sixth grants to John Day, printer, privilege and licence of printing and reprinting of all such works and books devised and compiled by Thomas Becon, professor of divinity, as hereafter shall be, at his cost and charges, and by his procurement, set forth and made[7]," The plain inference is, that the sale must have been considerable. An additional proof of this fact is, that the Stationers' Company kept his "Sick Man's Salve" constantly in print till the succeeding century. So bold an opponent of the Romish doctrines would not of course be left unmolested by those whose faith he attacked. And therefore, besides the proclamations already mentioned, they resorted to the more "legitimate method of attempting to answer his writings. Richard Smith, reader of divinity at Oxford, who had before written against archbishop Cranmer, assailed Becon[8]; with what success, no one acquainted with our author's works need be at a loss to determine. The following extract from bishop Tanner's Bibliotheca will exhibit the long catalogue of Beoon's works:- BECONUS (Thomas) patria Nordovolgius (Sudovolgium Strype in Vita Parker. p. . . vocat) in academia Cantabrig. studiis philosophicis et theologicis imbutus per varios academicorum honorum gradus ad cathedram theologicam ascendit. Fuit doctrinæ reformatæ contra pontificios assertor strenuus; unde bis A. sc. MDXLIII et MDLIII. carceri mancipatus, e quo, regnante Maria, elapsus in Germaniam Marpurgum trajecit: inde, mortua eadem, in patriam rediit, et fatis concessit Cantuariæ sexagenarius, circa A. MDLXX. A. MDXLI. apud Crucem Paulinam dogmata reformata publice retractavit; et ibi libri ejus combusti fuerunt. Vide Henr. Stalbridge Epist. Fuit vicarius ecclesiæ de Brensett in agro Cantiano tempore Henr. VIII. Unus sex prædicatorum in ecclesiæ Cantuar, tempore Edw. VI. Rector ecclesiæ. S. Stephani Walbrook. institut. 24 Mart. MDXLVII. ast beneficio illo privatus MDLIV. Newc. i. 540. Restitutus in eandem eccle- siam A. MDLX. MS. C. C. C. Cantabr. Miscell. IV. 25. quo tempore vicarius ecclesiæ Christi infra Newgate renunciabatur. Ibid. p. 30. A. MDLXIII. 11 Aug. institutus erat ad ecclesiam S. Dion. Backchurch, London. Newc. i. 330. Fuit etiam canonicus Cantuariensis. Ipse A. MDLXIV. habituum clericalium portationi subscribere renuit, postea antem eidem consensit. Strype in Vita Grindall, p. 98. Vocatus est Theodorus Basille, uti ex proclamatione Phil. et Mar. et aliquibus ejus tractatibus constat. Fox, 1597. Opera ejus extant, Londini, MDLXIV. tribus tomis vel duobus voluminibus, hoc ordine: (the remainder of this extract to be added)
[6] See below, page 29. [7] Bp. Kennett's Collections, Vol. XLVI. No. 12. [8] Strype's Life of Cranmer, Book III. chap.x xviii. p.424.

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