Title: Love's Mirror and the aesthetics of devotion
Full Citation
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00097701/00001
 Material Information
Title: Love's Mirror and the aesthetics of devotion
Alternate Title: Mirror of the blessed life of Jesus Christ
Physical Description: viii, 179 leaves. : ; 28 cm.
Language: English
Creator: Batteiger, Richard Paul
Publication Date: 1970
Copyright Date: 1970
Subject: English thesis Ph. D
Dissertations, Academic -- English -- UF
Genre: bibliography   ( marcgt )
non-fiction   ( marcgt )
Thesis: Thesis--University of Florida.
Bibliography: Bibliography: leaves 177-179.
Additional Physical Form: Also available on World Wide Web
General Note: Manuscript copy.
General Note: Vita.
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Bibliographic ID: UF00097701
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: University of Florida
Holding Location: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier: alephbibnum - 000559450
oclc - 13494106
notis - ACY4907


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Copyright by
Richard Paul Batteiger


Dr. Richard A. Dwyer initially suggested that I work

on Love's Mirror and has made many suggestions during the

preparation of this study. He has also left me free to

pursue my own interests. For this, and for his friendship

and guidance during the past four years, I thank him.

Without Professor John Mugar and his patience in guiding

me through the history of the Protestant Reformation,

Chapter IV would never have been written. Dr. John T.

Algeo and Dr. Gordon E. Bigelow have also read the entire

manuscript and offered many helpful suggestions. My fellow

graduate student, Lloyd Klinedinst, has suffered many long

and erratic discussions of The Mirror and has offered in-

valuable comments and criticism. My wife, Claudia, not only

endured me while I wrote this dissertation, but also took

upon herself the painful task of typing it.

I owe special thanks to Miss Carol Quinn of the Ref-

erence Department of the University of Florida Library,

who helped me assemble the many primary sources, some of

them not readily available, which I needed for this dis-

sertation. Also, the Cambridge University Library kindly

provided a microfilm of Manuscript Additional 6578, from

which the Middle English texts in the appendix have been

edited. The Library of Congress, and the Libraries of


St. Benedict's College, Cornell University, Oberlin

College, the University of Michigan, and the University

of Pennsylvania all provided valuable research materials.



ACKNOWLEDGMENTS . . . . . . . .. . .iii

ABSTRACT . . ... . . . . . . . .. vi

INTRODUCTION . . . . . . . ... .. .1






CONCLUSION . . . . . . . . . . . 134

APPENDIX . . . . . . . .. . . 138

LIST OF WORKS CITED . . . . . . . ... .177

Abstract of Dissertation Presented to the Graduate Council
in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of
Doctor of Philosophy at the University of Florida



Richard Paul Batteiger

August, 1970

Chairman: Richard A. Dwyer
Major Department: English

The Mirror of the Blessed Life of Jesu Christ is a

Middle English translation of the thirteenth century pseudo-

Bonaventuran Meditationes Vitae Christi, made in 1410 by

Nicholas Love, prior of the Carthusian house of Mount Grace

in Yorkshire. On the basis of the number of manuscripts

and the frequency with which The Mirror is mentioned in

fifteenth century wills, Margaret Deanesly has characterized

this work as, "probably more popular than any single book

in the fifteenth century" ("Vernacular Books in England in

the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Centuries," Modern Lanzuage

Review, XV, 1920, 353). Whether or not this is true is a

question which cannot be answered with any real certainty.

Instead, this study examines The Mirror to determine whether

or not it offers any justification for the popularity which

has been claimed for it.

Most scholars who have treated The Mirror in depth have

treated it as a docu-ent in the history of English prose.


While not denying the inpo.rt .n:~- of this subject t, the pre-

sent study approaches the tc..:t in a different min.er. P This

approach begins with D. W. Robertson, Jr.'s metaphorical

distinction between "fruyt" and "chaf," and his insistence

that the medieval reader, in order to receive the full bene-

fit of a work of art, was not to be preoccupied with the

surface details, or "chaf," of the work, but was to use his

reason to penetrate the surface and perceive the "fruyt"

concealed beneath it. However, in a work such as The Mirror

which appeals directly to the emotions and the imagination,

surface details take on a new importance, for it is through

them that Love is able to construct concrete and vivid

descriptions which speak directly to his audience and ask

nothing more than their imaginative participation in the

scenes which he portrays. It is the object of this study

to subject what Robertson would consider as the "chaf" of

The Mirror to a detailed literary analysis in an attempt to

discover how Love uses these features to construct an

affective appeal to his audience.

Chapters I and II examine the relationship of The

Mirror to the Meditationes, giving particular attention to

the kinds of changes which Love makes in the process of

translating the Latin work and to the way he deals with

problems of plot, structure, narrative description, charac-

terization and verisimilitude, among others. The particular

focus of Chapter II is on Love's composition of two chapters

of The Mirror, using a variety of biblical narratives in

addition to the Mleditationes.

Chapters III and IV attempt to see The Mirror as both

a product and reflection of intellectual, literary, and

religious forces of the early fifteenth century in England.

Chapter III compares Love's rendering of the Passion with

four contemporary literary treatments of the same event.

Chapter IV treats the role that The Mirror played in the

campaign against the Lollards. It is important here to

see that Love was not writing mere polemic, but a positive

assertion of the position and beliefs of the Church. Love's

response to the Lollards is primarily aesthetic, and uses

aesthetic elaborations of worship, such as images, which

the Lollards specifically condemned.

The appendix contains the two chapters of The Mirror

which are discussed in Chapter II. These texts are edited

from Cambridge University Library Manuscript Additional 6578.

In addition, there are copies of the chapters of the Medi-

tationes which correspond to these two chapters of The




The Mirror of the Blessed Life of Jesu Christ is an

English translation of the pseudo-Bonaventuran Meditationes

Vitae Christi, made in 1410 by Nicholas Love, prior of the

Carthusian house of Mount Grace in the North Riding of

Yorkshire. Although little more is known of Love except that

he died in 1424 as an ordinary monk, his book has been

characterized by Margaret Deanesly as "probably more popular

than any other single book in the fifteenth century."1 Miss

Deanesly based her judgment on the frequency with which The

Mirror is bequeathed by title in fifteenth century wills, and

she is confirmed by the relatively large number of manu-

scripts, thirty-eight,2 which are still extant. In addition,

the Short Title Catalogue indicates that The Mirror was

printed twice by William Caxton, in 1486 and 1490, twice

again in 1494 by de Worde and Pynson, and nine more times

from 1506 to 1620.3 In the sixteenth century, Sir Thomas

More recommended it for reading by the laity, along with

Hilton's Scale of Perfection and the Imitation of Christ.4

In spite of this evidence of The Mirror's popularity,

critics have either been content to repeat Miss Deanesly's

evaluation or, more frequently, have received the book in

silence. The Cambridge History of English Literature, for

example, does not mention it at all. N. S. Aurner, who

comments on The Mirror as it was printed by Caxton, can say

only that it was "the most important of Caxton's purely

religious publications."5 R. W. Chambers mentions The Mirror

in his essay On the Continuity of English Prose, but has

little to add to Miss Deanesly's remarks of a decade earlier.6

H. S. Bennett, in Chaucer and the Fifteenth Century, says

that "the most original contribution of the [fifteenth] cen-

tury was in books of systematized religious instruction:

Love's Mirror, the Lantern of Light or the translation of

a'Kempis."7 Later, echoing both Deanesly and Chambers, he

praises Love for composing

what was perhaps the most popular book of the century.
His prose is so singularly easy and natural that Pro-
fessor Chambers may well have been right when he claimed
that Love did more than Hereford or Purvey's rendering
of the Scriptures in providing a model for future
writers of English prose.

This impression of neglect is reinforced by the absence of

a critical edition of The Mirror. Those who wish to work

with the book must rely on the edition made in 1908 by L. F.

Powell, which is based on only three of the thirty-eight

manuscripts: Brasenose Manuscript e. 9, collated with the

Sherard Manuscript, owned at that time by Lord Aldenham,

and Bodleian Manuscript e. Musaeo 35.9 Powell's edition

prints only the text, without critical or textual notes or

commentary. In 1926 The Mirror was rendered into modern

English by an anonymous monk of the Parkminster Charterhouse

but, aside from the valuable references to biblical and

patristic source:, the te:-t is untruitable Cor :cholarly use

because of its modern idiom and frequent alterations of both

style and content.10

S. K. Workman, in his Fifteenth Century Translation as

an Influence on English Prose, was the first to examine The

Mirror in detail and offer an evaluation of Love's prose,

along with evidence to support his conclusions. He cites

Love's work, along with two others, as an exception to his

general conclusion that "seven-eighths of the translators

[examined] preferred to follow the basic structure of almost

every sentence they translated; and three-fourths . .

followed in almost every detail, altering their sources only

enough to Anglicize their language."ll Workman also examined

Love's original prose and found that it "is not character-

istically different in structural maturity from [his] trans-

lated work,"12 thus attesting to Love's basic skill as a

writer of English prose.

The most thorough scholarly treatment of The Mirror to

date has come from Elizabeth Zeeman, who wrote three essays

in the mid-1950's which were evidently the result of her

preliminary research for a critical edition of the text that

she announced at that time, but which has not yet been

published. In the first of these essays, "Nicholas Love--

A Fifteenth Century Translator," which is exploratory in

nature, she notes that,

The Mirror of the Blessed Life of Jesu Christ, was one
of the most popular books of the fifteenth and early
sixteenth centuries, and contains some of the finest

English prose of any time. There are, in fact, few texts
which can claim to illustrate so accurately the range
and tastes of the devout reading public of the later
Middle Ages in England, and, moreover, to point so
clearly the contribution made by medieval translators
to the general development of English prose style. In
spite of this, Love's Mirror has not received the
attention it deserves.TT-

After this initial statement, Miss Zeeman relates what little

is known of Love and surveys briefly the linguistic and

stylistic relationship of his translation to its Latin source,

concluding that "texts such as Love's Mirror, in language and

style, indicate one of the paths future inquiry could pro-

fitably take," using devotional prose works to analyze

late medieval English prose style. Of her two subsequent

essays, the first is devoted to a discussion of the punc-

tuation of a single manuscript of The Mirror, Cambridge Uni-

versity Library Manuscript Additional 6578,15 two chapters

of which have been edited in the appendix of the present

study. The second essay, "Continuity and Change in Middle

English Versions of the Meditationes Vitae Christi,"16 is a

comparison of the Passion section of The Mirror with an

anonymous, apparently independent, translation of the same

section of the Meditationes which is interpolated into a

manuscript along with Love's version. This essay, which

Miss Zeeman calls "a step in the direction of a full study"17

of the relationships of the various Middle English transla-

tions of the Meditationes, is also part of a discussion of

the larger topic of the continuity of English prose, which

was initiated by Professor Chambers. Thus, in recent years,

recognition has come to The Mirror primarily because of its

value as a document in the history of English prose style.

However, prose style is but one aspect of The Mirror's

contribution to literature, and there are other topics

which are equally important and demand attention. For ex-

ample, the study of medieval aesthetics on its own terms

begins, according to D. W. Robertson, Jr., with St. Augus-

tine's comments in On Christian Doctrine and, in A Preface

to Chaucer, Robertson asserts that "St. Augustine's account

of the manner in which pleasure arises from obscurity reveals

an aesthetic attitude which became typically medieval."18

Robertson goes on to claim that this "delight in the enig-

matic"19 was a central and controlling force in medieval

aesthetics and characterizes it as "a manifestation of a

fully formed and deeply felt aesthetic theory whose assump-

tions permeate medieval art and literature generally."20

The enigmatic figure, he says,

was one of the most powerful and effective instruments
by means of which the medieval artist could fulfill
the aims of his art. It enabled him to appeal, first
of all, to the reason, and through the reason to the
affective values which philosophy and theology pointed
to as the highest and most moving values possible to

It is true that many medieval artists appealed to the reason,

and one cannot seriously argue that St. Augustine was not a

major force in medieval aesthetics. Robertson fails to

point out, however, that St. Augustine was not talking about

writing, but reading, because he developed his discussion

of the enigmatic figure as a means of interpreting scripture,

not as a means of writing literature. It will be helpful to

keep this distinction in mind, for in the following chapters

the focus is largely on the way The Mirror was written

rather than the method of interpretation which was applied

to it.

Pierre Pourrat, in Christian Spirituality, says that

the Meditationes Vitae Christi,

were partly the inauguration of a new development. As
affective writings they were addressed but little to
the mind and much to the heart. Their aim was to en-
gender the love of Christ less by the uplifting in-
fluence of his divine teaching than by the account of
his mortal life. Doctrinal reflections give place to
coloured descriptions, in which history is supplemented
from the imagination, of the earthly existence of the

This evaluation is confirmed by Emile Male, who approaches

the Meditationes from an aesthetic rather than a spiritual

point of view.

The Meditationes differed profoundly from anything
that the Gospels had hitherto inspired in the West.
Other books had been addressed to the intelligence.
This appealed to the Heart. . The author was
writing for a woman, a sister of the order of Saint
Clara; and he was well aware that all she wanted was
an appeal to her emotions. So he devised a series of
colorful scenes in which imagination constantly
supplements history.23

In short, the Meditationes and The Mirror, for they are

similar in this respect, were more concerned with piety and

devotion than with theology, and they both sought to present

the basic lessons of Christianity, through their portrayal

of the life of Christ, in such a way that those who could

not grasp the finer points of theology with their intellect

could at least visualize the life of Christ as both an object

of devotion and an example for the conduct of their daily

lives. Such a direct appeal to the emotions and imagination

cannot be reconciled with the view that medieval literature

was generally written with the intent to be enigmatic, as

Robertson suggests, for if the audience of the Meditationes

or The Mirror were to visualize the scenes being described,

it was necessary for the authors to strive for vividness and

clarity rather than obscurity. The "coloured descriptions"

which Pourrat mentions had, to a certain extent, to be made

literal rather than figurative and had to appeal directly to

the emotions and imagination rather than to philosophy and

theology through the reason. The persons, actions, and

events which the authors portrayed had not only to be made

familiar to the audience, but had to be described in such a

way as to capitalize on that familiarity. In the Medita-

tiones, and even more so in The Mirror, there is a concerted

effort in the direction of clarity and a constant attempt to

explain difficult points of doctrine to an unsophisticated

lay audience through the presentation of concrete examples.

This, as we shall see in chapter II, does not rule out the

use of figures, but Love is always explicit about how the

figures are to be interpreted.

In practice, calculated obscurity was not the only

strategy available to medieval authors, and William Matthews

has noted,

we have very few analyses of medieval aesthetics, of
the medieval criteria relating to literary content
and form which would help us to understand why this

work or that was aesthetically a failure, a mediocrity,
or a success in its own day.24

In order to understand why The Mirror was a success in its

own day it is first necessary to examine the means by which

Love made his narrative appeal to his audience, and this is

the object of the present study. In the chapters which

follow, it will be helpful to keep in mind Robertson's

metaphorical distinction between "fruyt" and "chaf" as he

applied it to medieval literature, and to attempt to view

this distinction in a new perspective. He insists, for

example, that

figurative language, whether in the form of similitudes
like those discussed by St. Augustine, or in the form
of more extended allegory, creates an enigma which
challenges the reason to seek an intelligible beauty
beneath a surface which is not necessarily beautiful
in itself.25

In other words, the discerning medieval reader, in order to

receive the full benefit of a work of art, was not to be

preoccupied with the surface details, or "chaf," of the work,

but was to use his reason to penetrate the surface in order

to perceive and appreciate the "fruyt" beneath it. However,

in a work such as The Mirror which appeals directly to the

emotions and the imagination, surface details take on a new

importance, for it is through them that Love is able to

construct the concrete and vivid descriptions which speak

directly to his audience and ask nothing more than their

imaginative participation in the scenes which he portrays.

Therefore, it is the object of this study to subject what

Robertson would consider as the "chaf" of The Mirror to a

detailed literary analysis in an attempt to discover how

Love uses these features in constructing an affective appeal

to his audience.

There are two basic ways in which to approach The

Mirror. First, it is a translation of an already well-

known Latin work of the thirteenth century, and it is

necessary to establish the relationship of Love's work to

its source in order to appreciate the accomplishment which

The Mirror represents by itself. In Chapters I and II, I

will examine this relationship, giving particular attention

to the kinds of changes which Love makes in the process of

translating the Meditationes and to the way in which he deals

with problems of plot, structure, narrative description,

characterization, and verisimilitude, among others. Chapter

I is concerned primarily with identifying isolated or

minimal changes which Love makes and attempting to explain

the effects they can reasonably be said to have had on both

the text, as an integral narrative, and the audience. By

comparing the two texts, it is possible to see that Love

was more conscious of his audience than the Latin author was

and attempted to provide his scenes and characters with a

verisimilitude and concreteness which would get his readers

involved in the scenes being described and allow them to

visualize those scenes "as they thou herdest hem with thy

bodily eeres / or seie hem with thyne ei3en done."26

Love did not confine himself, however, to isolated or

minimal changes of his source. He was able to control

substantial narrative units, deleting portions of the Latin

text, adding passages of his own composition, and drawing

upon other sources when what was available in the Medita-

tiones did not suit his purposes; and the product of his

efforts is more than just a translation. Chapter II focuses

on Love's composition of two chapters of The Mirror from a

variety of sources. The lesson here is that Love was not a

servile translator who simply produced a phrase-by-phrase or

chapter-by-chapter rendering of his source, leaving the Latin

text much as he found it. He knew his source well and had

a design for the changes he made. If nothing else could be

said about The Miirror, this alone would make it stand out

among fifteenth century translations.

The second basic approach to The Mirror is to see it as

both a product and reflection of intellectual, literary, and

religious forces of the early fifteenth century in England.

It did not exist solely in terms of its source, and once its

relationship to the Meditationes has been established it is

necessary to move beyond this narrow topic, for to examine

only the relationship between these two texts is to imply,

in a sense, that The Mirror existed in a cultural vacuum,

which it certainly did not. "In the Middle Ages, as in

other times, books were products of individual men reacting

to their own natures and to the manifold ideas, activities,

and personages of their own particular times."27 In this

sense, the proper context of The Mirror is not the Medita-

tiones at all, for it is as much an English work as a

translation of a Latin -zUiice; it wa: prosenllted. to In

English audience and had to sLirviv: cri perish Con its owin

merits. Chapters III and I'-' attempt to provide this context

and to show, to the extent that it is possible to do so, the

reasons for The Mirror's survival.

In Chapter III, the comparison of Love's rendering of

the Passion with four contemporary versions of the same event

reveals not only the variety of approaches to the life of

Christ which were available to the literary artist in the

later Middle Ages, but also the range of Love's own capa-

bilities. Each of these works is didactic in its own way,

and each writer was attempting to bring his audience to an

appreciation of the Passion through his literary portrayal

of it. Some, like the author of the Pepysian Gospel Harmony,

were content to instruct their audience by presenting the

life of Christ substantially as it appears in the Gospels.

Others, like Richard Rolle, attempted to convey a feeling of

mystical intenseness, hoping to give the Passion meaning as

well as form. The anonymous author of the Meditations on

the Life and Passion of Christ, an extended lyric poem of

the late fourteenth century, explores the multi-dimensional

nature of the Passion through sometimes extravagant figura-

tive language. The Northern Passion is essentially a

dramatic re-creation of the Passion, complete with well

constructed scenes and highly developed characters, which

also offers its audience legendary and miraculous materials,

in addition to the central narrative, in an effort to hold

their attention. The Mirror does not encompass all of these

works, nor does it utilize all of the approaches which they

represent, but it compares favorably with them all. Through

his detailed narrative Love satisfies the need to instruct

his audience in the events of the life of Christ, but he also

does much more. To these events he adds interpretations and

judgments which guide the audience's perceptions of what is

taking place. His vivid portrayals of Judas' betrayal of

Jesus, the trial before the Jews, and the Crucifixion reveal

a sense of the dramatic, and he never lets his audience

forget that the Jews are evil or that the Crucifixion is

both painful and pathetic. Throughout the Passion Love

emphasized Jesus' humanity and capacity to suffer, and this

interest in the human aspects of the event extends to the

other persons who are involved in the action. His charac-

ters, if we may call them that, are human, and we see not

only what they do, but also what they think. All of these

things contribute to Love's goal of involving his audience

in the narrative to the extent that they can experience

the events vicariously and, through that experience, increase

their own piety and devotion.

In addition to its devotional function, The Mirror also

reflected and took part in the religious controversy of its

time. It is vigorously anti-Lollard, and in 1410 was licen-

sed by Thomas Arundel, the Archbishop of Canterbury, "to the

edification of the faithful and the confutation of all false

heretics or Lollards."28 Chapter IV is designed to

demonstrate that The Mirror participated in this controversy

not only as a negative polemic against Lollard doctrines,

but also as a positive response which was primarily aesthetic

in nature. In this response, Love is concerned to meet and

refute two Lollard premises. First, the Lollards insisted

that scripture was sufficient in and of itself, without the

testimony and interpretation of the Church, for the education

of the laity. Love answers this argument throughout The

Mirror with his frequent addition of interpretive and ex-

planatory comments to the biblical details and his presen-

tation of scenes which have no scriptural basis, but which

form an integral part of his narrative. The Lollards also

objected to the use of images, church music, exempla, and

other aesthetic elaborations of worship because they

believed such "coryoustes" distracted men from the true

worship of God by focusing their attention on the transitory

handiwork of man rather than the eternal creations of the

divine. Love answers this argument, not simply by using

images, which in The Mirror are necessarily verbal ones, but

by employing them in such a way as to show that they do not

necessarily diminish true worship.

Ultimately, The Mirror is valuable not only in itself,

but for the testimony which it offers about its own times.

William Matthews sumarizes the typical scholarly attitude

toward those neglected times as follows:

for the long period, about 140 years, between Chaucer's
death and the blessed relief of Wyatt and Surrey, the
normal historical picture is almost a Waste Land. Apart

from Fortescue, Pecock, Henryson, and Malory . the
historian sees hardly an original idea or literary
device in the whole period, hardly a work worth

To its fifteenth century readers, at least, The Mirror was

not only worth reading, but was apparently widely read. This

suggests that the sophistication of both Love's prose style

and his narrative devices was not lost on that audience, and

that The Mirror should stand as partial testimony that well-

constructed narratives written in good English did not disap-

pear from the literary scene in 1400. Love has been ignored,

I believe, because he chose to write about Christ rather

than "hende Nicholas." We should not fault him on that

account, for neither the ribald nor the pious had a monopoly

in the minds of common men of the fourteenth and fifteenth

centuries. The Mirror, both in its story and the manner in

which it is told, can tell us as much, if not more, about

the skill of fifteenth century artists and the tastes of

their audiences than works which have received far more

critical attention.

1 [lrr-aret ane- l, "Vernaculr' Book0 s in an, .iin in
the Fourc e.nth and Fifteenth Centurie-." 1LF., ::'V (OCtober,
1920), 353.
2 Elizabeth Zeeman, "Punctuation in an Early Manuscript
of Love's Mirror," RES, n.s., VII (1956), 12 n. 3.

3 A. W. Pollard and G. R. Redgrave, A Short-Title Cat-
alogue of Books Printed in England, Scotland, and Ireland,
and of English Books Printed Abroad, 1475-6140-o(ondon,
1926T, 70. See especially entries 3259 to 3269.

Elizabeth Zeeman, "Nicholas Love -- A Fifteenth Cen-
tury Translator," RES, n.s., VI (1955), 117.

5 N. S. Aurner, Caxton: Mirrour of Fifteenth Century
Letters (London, 1926), 109.
6 R. W. Chambers, On the Continuity of English Prose,
EETS 191a (London, 1932), cxxvii-cxxix.

SH. S. Bennett, Chaucer and the Fifteenth Century,
(Oxford, 1947), 119.
8Ibid., 216.

SNicholas Love, The Mirrour of the Blessed Lyf of Jesu
Christ, ed. L. F. Powell (Oxford, 1907), x-xi.
10 Nicholas Love, The Mirror of the Blessed Life of Jesu
Christ, ed. by a monk of Parkminster ondon, 1926).
11 Samuel K. Workman, Fifteenth Century Translation as
an Influence on English Prose (Princeton, 1940), 121.
12 Ibid., 150.
13 Elizabeth Zeeman, "Nicholas Love.-- A Fifteenth Cen-
tury Translator," 113.
14 Ibid., 127.

15 Elizabeth Zeeman, "Punctuation." See note 2 above.

1Elizabeth Zeeman, "Continuity and Change in Middle
English Versions of the Meditationes Vitae Christi,"
Medium Aevum, XXVI, I.

17 Ibid., 25.
18 D. W. Robertson, Jr., A Preface to Chaucer (Princeton,
1962), 53.
19 Ibid., 63.
20 Ibid., 63.

21 Ibid., 63.

22 Pierre Pourrat, Christian Spirituality, tr. S. P.
Jacques (.Westminster, Md., 1953), II, 187.
23 Emile Male, Religious Art, Noonday Press translation
(New York, 1949), 102. See L'Art Religieux de la fin du
moyen age en France (Paris, 1925), 28.
24 William Matthews, "Inherited Impediments in Medieval
Literary History," in Medieval Secular Literature: Four
Essays, ed. William Matthews (Berkeley, 1965), 21.
25 Robertson, 58.

26 Love, 1908, 12.

27 Matthews, 8.

28 Quoted by Margaret Deanesly, The Lollard Bible
(Cambridge, 1920), 322.
29 Matthews, 14.


Love's source for The Mirror, the pseudo-Bonaventuran

Meditationes Vitae Christi, was well known in its own right

in the later Middle Ages and exerted a widespread influence

on art and iconography.1 It was openly affective and

appealed to the imagination and emotions of its audience by

presenting detailed visual descriptions of scenes and

characters. As Emile Male has said, "Saint Francois

d'Assise etait un poete, l'auteur des Meditationes est un

peintre."2 Appealing to the spiritual through the physical

was certainly not new with the author of the Meditationes.

Gregory the Great, in the prologue to his commentary on the

Canticle of Canticles, has this to say on the subject:

in this book love is expressed as if in carnal lan-
guage, so that the mind, stimulated by words it is
accustomed to, may be aroused from its torpor, and
through words concerned with a love which is below,
may be excited to a love which is above. In this
book are mentioned kisses, breasts, cheeks, and
thighs. Nor is the Sacred description to be ridiculed
on that account, but the greater mercy of God is to
be considered; for when He names the members of the
body and thus calls to love, it should be noted how
wonderfully and mercifully we are treated. For in
order that our hearts may be inflamed with sacred
love, He extends His words even to wicked love.3

The pictorial representation of scriptural events became

an important device in the education of the laity in the

later Middle Ages and, in England, we find John Mirk

commenting on it in his Festial: "I say boldly that other

ben mony thousand of pepull that couth not ymagen in her

heart how Christ was don on the rood, but as thai lerne hit

by sy3t of ymages and payntours." Walter Hilton also

defends the use of images in churches because of their

appeal to the laity.

By a certain carnal reverence their mind is stirred
to adore with bodily humiliation that image rather
than any other. Yet their intention is habitually
directed towards God, in whose name they do worship
to such an image.5

Hilton, and others charged with the responsibility of edu-

cating laymen, realized that the popular conception of God

was "thoroughly anthropomorphic," and that the use of

images was a practical and effective way of appealing to an

audience with such a frame of reference. It was so ef-

fective, in fact, that the technique was inevitably trans-

ferred from sculpture and painting to other forms of ex-

pression. G. R. Owst notes that "the sermons, too, in

their turn show the effects of this naive realism, joint

product of pulpit eloquence and artistic execution, upon

the minds of simple laity."7 For anyone who wanted to apply

this carnal appeal to the life of Christ, the Meditationes

was made to order and had only to be translated into the

vernacular, so it is understandable that Love chose it and,

for the most part, remained faithful to it. However, Love

was not content simply to translate. A careful comparison

of The Mirror with its source will show that Love produced

"a paraphrase or recension, not [a] translation proper,"

and that he was, in the opinion of one critic, "an inde-

pendent and gifted artist in his own right."9 However

correct this judgment may be, for the time being it must be

regarded as an assertion. It will be the purpose of the

following discussion to see if it has any basis in fact.

The Meditationes appeals to its audience visually and

imaginatively, with the "insistence that every detail of the

story must be dramatized as if one were present."10 Love's

recension painstakingly embroiders and adds to those pic-

torial and imaginative elements which create this dramatic

effect and consistently attempts to delete or de-emphasize

those portions of the Latin text which detract from the

dramatic effect. The result of this procedure is that, in

The Mirror, there is a greater emphasis on the persons in

the narrative, a greater verisimilitude and concreteness

in the events which are portrayed and, Love must have hoped,

a greater likelihood that the audience could imagine itself

present at those events as they took place. In the prologue

to The Mirror, Love gives first his reasons for choosing

the Meditationes to translate and then comments explicitly

on the nature of his proposed audience and the method he is

going to follow in rendering the text.

Bonauenture / wroot hem to a religious woman in latyn.
The which scripture and writynge / for the fructuose
mater their of sterynge specially to the loue of Jesu /
and also for the pleyne sentence to comune vnderstond-
ynge / semeth among other souereynly edifienge to
symple creatures; the which as children hauen nede to
be fedde with mylke of ly3te doctrine / and not with
sadde mete of grete clergie and of hi3e contemplacioun.
Wherfore . is this drawynge out of the forseide

book of cristes lyf wryten in english / with more
putte to in certeyn parties and also with drawynge
of dyuerse auctoritees and materes as it semeth to
the writer here of most spedeful and edifienge to
hem that ben of symple vnderstondynge.11

Here we see Love stating his intention to tailor his text

to a specific audience, and it is necessary to say a few

words of caution about that audience. Even though Love

proposes to write for simplee creatures," there is a limit

to how simple they may be, for the illiterate could have no

direct access to the book. We must keep in mind, however,

that it may have been read aloud to them, and that this

possibility placed an even greater demand on Love's ability

to create visual narratives than would have been made by an

audience which could read the text directly.

Love also indicates that the emphasis in The Mirror

will be on the manhood of Christ, and this is less a theo-

logical issue than a matter of appealing to his audience

with a specific literary device.

And therefore to hem is principally to be sette in mynde
the ymage of cristes incarnacioun / passion / and re-
surreccioun: so that a symple soule that kan not thenke
bot bodies or bodily things mowe haue somewhat accor-
dynge vnto his affeccioun wherwith he may fede and
stire his deuocioun. (8-9)

In other words, Love will emphasize the physical and human

aspects of the life of Christ because they are most familiar

to his audience, and in his attempt to capitalize on this

familiarity Love indicates that he will not confine himself

only to those scenes or details which are based in scripture,

but will fictionalize when necessary.

Uherf.:re it i: tr '.'ndir2t,:.nde at trhe t:,,gynny, n,-c a.
for a PrinciFal and uener i rule of d.'L:r-- :.mgin-
aciounr- that rc-l.-ae n after In this bc::: ..' that the
di-Cr :.L ;,'uri.: or rs.echi.:s cr dede :.- r E.'' d in heLu n-rT -r'nd
cunrei le and cther c:*st 1, .Lrt. t aunc.i-c ben onnl, uriten
in trii n ,ri:rre :Ian.i to this ent:nt tt-it is to ,:-..
as deuoute ymaginaciouns and liknesses stirynge symple
soules to the loue of god and desire of heuenly things.
For / as seint gregory seith / therefore is the kyng-
dom of heuene lickened to erthely things: that by tho
things that ben visible / and that man kyndely
knoweth / he be stired and rauysched to loue and de-
sire gostly invisible things that he kyndely knoweth
not. (9)

If this use of images and "liknesses" is to be effective,

the audience must do its part, and Love, like the author of

the Meditationes, notes in his prologue and throughout The

Mirror that the audience is to devote its whole attention to

what is being described.

Wherfore thou that coueytest to fele truly the fruyte
of this book / thou most with al thy thou3t and al
thyn entente in that manere make the in thy soule
present to tho thynges that ben here written / seide /
or done of oure lord Jesu; and that besily / likyngly /
and abidynge; as they thou herdest hem with thy bo-
dily eeres / or seie hem with thyne ei3en done; pyt-
tynge awey for the tyme and leuynge alle other occu-
paciouns and besynesses. (12)12

Coupled with this appeal for the audience's attention

is an apparent caution against taking all that follows too

literally and supposing that The Mirror possesses the same

authority as the Bible.

Also seint John seith / that alle tho things that
Jesu dide ben not written in the gospell. Wherfore
we mowen to sterynge of deuocioun ymagine and thynke
dyuerse words and dedes of hym and other that we
fynde not written / so that it be not a3enst the by-
leue. . And so what tyme or in what place in this
book is written / that thus dide or thus spak oure lord
Jesu or other that ben spoken of / and it mowe not
be preued by holy writ / or grounded in express
seienge of holy doctoures / it schal be taken none

other wise than as a devoute meditacioun that it
my3te be so spoken or doon. (9)

After describing an unbiblical great council in heaven, in

which it is decided that Jesus will descend to earth to save

mankind, both versions reiterate this caution.

And thus was termyned and ended the grete counseille
in heuene for the restorynge of man and his sauacioun.
The which process schal be taken as in liknesse and
oneliche as a manere of a parable and deuou3te ymagin-
acioun. (19)13

These statements are more than simply warnings against over-

literalness, for they contain an idea which is central to the

understanding of Love's narrative method. D. W. Robertson,

Jr. uses the metaphorical distinction between "fruyt" and

"chaf" to assert that, according to medieval aesthetic the-

ory, the surface details, or "chaf," of a work of art are

present only to challenge the reader to use his reason to

penetrate through them to the "fruyt" which is concealed

beneath.14 This distinction, if applied to medieval litera-

ture generally, must lead logically to the conclusion that

those who read that literature were, or were expected to be,

expert exegetes. It seems clear, however, that most of them

were not, and in fact many readers probably preferred the

"chaf" to the "fruyt" because they found it easier to com-

prehend. Authors who wished to reach such an audience

needed a strategy which would capitalize on the attractive-

ness of the "chaf" in their works without sacrificing the

"fruyt" that accompanied it. Love's principle of "deuou3te

ymaginacioun" is such a strategy, and it enables him to

freely embroider the narratlvcsl which he find in hi :.ourcec

and shape them to his o.'n pu!ri.o.2; The "Cruyt," JEcTu'

example to mankind, is the same as it would be in any other

life of Christ, but the "chaf" is multiplied. The effect of

this practice is not, as one might suspect, to distract the

audience from the "fruyt," but to enrich their experience of

it by providing, among other things, verisimilitude, char-

acterization, and dramatic intensity which enhance the

narrative and assist Love in his goal of drawing his audience

into the scenes to such an extent that it can imagine itself

present in them.

The general method which Love proposes for The Mirror

is similar to that of the Meditationes, but in actual

practice he constantly alters and adds to his source to

achieve a more cohesive and comprehensive narrative and a

fuller presentation of the persons who appear in it. He

accomplishes this in several ways, supplementing the

Meditationes with details from the Bible, the Church Fathers,

or his own imagination. For example, when the child Jesus

is presented in the temple for the first time, and Simeon

approaches the holy family, the Meditationes says simply:

"Ille autem gaudenter et reverenter in ulnis suis eum re-

cipiens, surrexit benedicens Deum, et dixit: Nunc dimittis

servum tuum, Domine, etc. De passion ipsius prophetavit."15

Love adds more of Simeon's speech of thanksgiving and gives

enough of the prophecy that the audience, even this early

in the book, begins to get some sense of what is to come

later. The underlined passages have been added from Luke


Symeon . with grete ioye and reuerence clippynge
hym in his armes rose vp / blissynge god and seinge
with glad spirit: Lord / I thonke the; for now thou
leteste thy seruaunte after thy word in pees: for why
I haue seen with my ei3en thyn blissed sone / oure
saueoure. And afterward he prophecied of his passion
and of the sorwe therof / that schulde as a swerd
perce and wounded the moder herte. (61)

The prophetess Anna appears in the same scene and the Latin

says: "Supervenit et ipsa prophetissa Anna, et adorans eum,

dimiliter de ipso loquebatur."16 Love again makes the scene

more concrete by furnishing details which are not in the


Herwith also that worthy wydowe Anne / the prophetisse /
came to hem in to the temple / and / worschippynge the
child / sche prophecied also of hym and spake of the
redempcioun that was to come by hym to mankynde. (61)

Love frequently provides The Mirror with a greater

degree of verisimilitude than is found in the Meditationes

by adding circumstantial details which suggest that the

events take place in a certain time and space, by providing

insight into the feelings and motivations of the characters,

and by giving factual information which is not present in

the source. This ranges from the relatively infrequent use

of naive realism which G. R. Owst characterizes as having

all the "cheerful intimacy and local color of a Dutch

canvas,'17 to the more frequent use of details which allow

the scenes, events, and people to achieve a verisimilitude

because they appeal to common human emotions and situations.

One example of naive realism, which Love probably adopted

from the iconographic tradition, .-ccurs during the An-

nunciation when Gabriel appears to Mary, who is portrayed

as "perauenture redynge the prophecie of ysaie touchynge

the Incarnacioun" (25). In fact, it is unlikely that she

was reading anything, but this detail was perhaps just the

proper sentimental touch for the devout fifteenth century

layman. Later, when the infant Jesus is presented in the

synagogue for the first time, there is a procession to the

altar which the Latin text says is "hodie repraesentatur

per universum mundum."18 In The Mirror, Love appeals to the

experience of his audience by telling them exactly how this

event is commemorated: "the which procession is repre-

sented this day in alle holy chirche with li3t born to goddis

worschippe" (61). This same appeal to the familiar is

found in the rendering of Jesus' meal after his forty days

in the desert. The Latin version is a spare and straight-

forward narration of the meal.

Sedet enim in terra composite ac curialiter, et sobrie
comedit. Circumstant Angeli ministrantes Domino suo.
Alius servit ei de pane, alius de vino, alius oarat
pisciculos, et alii cantant de canticis Sion.19

The version of this scene in The Mirror does not enlarge

the scope of the narrative itself, but embellishes it with

details which make it more concrete and familiar to the

audience. The additions are underlined.

Oure lorde Jesu sitteth down to his mete on the bare
ground / for there had he neither banker ne kuschyne.
And take hede how curteysely and how soburly he taketh
his mete; not withstondynge his hunger after his long
faste. The aungeles serued hym as her lorde / perauntre
one of the brede / another of wyne / another di3te

fisches / some songen in the stede of mynstralcie that
swete song of heuene. (97-98

These details point out the humble circumstances of the meal

by mentioning the absence of accommodations which would be

familiar to a fifteenth century audience, "had he neither

banker ne kuschyne," and relate the song of the angels to

the reader's own experience by comparing it with "mynstral-

cie." There is even a comment on manners as Love points out

that Jesus ate "curteysely" and "soburly," in spite of his

obvious hunger.

Love also attempts to achieve verisimilitude by fixing

the location of scenes, either with a brief comment, or by

citing a name, which may or may not have been familiar to

his audience. For example, when he describes Jesus talking

with the Samaritan woman by a well, he adds that it was

"clepeden the well of Jacob" (126). After the Crucifixion,

when preparations are being made to bury Jesus, the

Meditationes introduces the sepulcher by saying: "Erat

prope locum crucifixionis sepulchrum, quantum est longitude

ecclesiae nostrae vel circa, in quo sepelierunt eum."20 Al-

though the measurements of the tomb add to the visual con-

creteness of the scene, they are uncertain because of the

vagueness of "ecclesiae nostrae." Love omits this detail,

and is content to simply locate the sepulcher with a

slightly more specific reference than is found in the Latin

text: "There was nihe that place of the crosse / the space

of a stones caste / a new sepultre" (253).- Love also

localizes scenes in The Mirror by referring to events which

took place earlier in the narrative. When Jesus flees the

people who want to make him their king, the Latin version

says simply: "fugit ab eis in montem."21 Love, however,

insists that "this was that hille / as some clerkes seyne /

vppon the which he made that excellent sermoun that is

spoke of before" (137), referring to an event which took

place two chapters before.

This attention to localizing events sometimes becomes

a device for re-entering the narrative once it has been

dropped to discuss other matters. At the end of the Last

Supper, both versions picture Jesus leaving for Gethsemane

with his disciples: "he went with hem in to a 3erde or a

gardyne ouer the water of Cedron / there to abide his

traytour Judas and other armed men" (214-215). At this

point Love departs from his source to recapitulate the

supper in terms of five virtues which Jesus displayed and

ends the chapter with a brief exhortation to meditate at-

tentively on what follows. The next chapter has as its

main business Jesus' prayer and capture in the garden, but

before the narrative begins, and in preparation for the

Passion which will occupy the remainder of the book, there

is a discussion of Jesus' manhood and his ability to suffer

bodily pain. This is followed by a discussion of the spiri-

tual comfort which comes from contemplating the Passion

and an appeal to the audience to imagine it as though they

were actually present. At this point the scene in the

garden begins, but enough extra-narrative material has been

presented since the end of the Last Supper that the reader's

attention should.be completely distracted from both the

sequence and the location of the events that are taking

place. In the Meditationes the scene begins in this way:

"cerne eum attente, cum a coena exiens, sermone complete,

in hortum cum discipulis suis vadit."22 Love alters this

statement subtly but effectively and, as a result, achieves

a greater narrative continuity than is in the Latin text by

beginning the scene in the garden with a close paraphrase

of his earlier description of Jesus and his disciples

leaving the Last Supper.

Oure lorde Jesu after that worthy soper was done and
that noble and fructuose sermoun ended / wherof it
is spoken in the nexte chaptire biforn / he wente
with his disciples ouer the water of Cedron in to a
3erde or a gardyn. (218)

Occasionally Love takes care to fix the time at which

various events in Christ's life took place by relating them

to other parts of the narrative. One example is the time

of Jesus' full assumption of his ministry. After he has

returned from the forty days' fast in the desert, both

versions remark that,

we red not that he toke vppon hym the office of
prechynge al that 3ere folowynge: that is to say
vnto that tyme that he wrou3t the first myracle
at the weddynge / that was the self day twelf month
that he was baptised. (101)23

Several pages later, in the chapter which narrates the mir-

acle of the wine at the wedding, Love repeats this reference

to time, thus emphasizing the place of the beginning of

Jesui miuri iztl t, iii the c. -triL :t .f hri life -: a jhi-1 : .'-

Tello t.n t day t tu e 1 Cc ntrie that a . r'e Icrde Jc-su wri tbp-

tised / as it is seide / there was made a bridale in the

contre of Galilee" (104). This attention to space and

time appears to serve a definite purpose in The Mirror, even

though the details may have been quite meaningless to the

audience in terms of its own experience. Just as one of

Love's major techniques is to involve his audience in the

narrative by appealing to objects and experiences which are

familiar to them; once they are involved, it is a simple

matter to extend this technique and refer to things within

the narrative itself which, by this time, should also be


Frequently Love alters and embroiders the Meditationes,

not only to achieve concreteness and verisimilitude, but also

to create dramatic intensity and emphasis and to provide his

own interpretations and judgments of the events that are

taking place. For example, he concludes the description of

Mary and Joseph's arrival in Bethlehem with a contemplacio

which focuses on Mary's condition and the hardships of the

journey. Except for one small detail, which is underlined,

this is a close translation of the Latin.

Now take here good hede and haue inwardly compassion
of that blessed lady and mayden / marye; how sche so
3ong and of so tendre age / that is to saye of xv
3ere / and grete with child as nyh the birthe / tra-
uailleth that long wey of sixty myle and ten or
more in so grete pouerte. (46)

It should be obvious to all at this point that she is "grete

with childe" but mentioning it here, along with the couple's

impoverished condition, has the effect of magnifying the

difficulty of their journey to Bethlehem and focusing sharply

on their plight "whan sche cam to the citee forseide there

sche schulde reste / and with her spouse asked herborgh in

dyuers places / schamefastly as among vnkouthe folk / alle

they werned hem and lete hem goo" (46). This intensification

is also evident in Love's portrayal of the Annunciation.

After Gabriel has asked Mary if she will consent to bear the

Son of God, the angel stands patiently, waiting for her

answer, and the author of the Meditationes asks the reader

to look at the following scene.

Intuere hic pro Deo, et meditari, qualiter tota
Trinitas est ibi expectans responsionem et consensus
hujus suae filiac singularis, amanter et delectabil-
iter aspiciens verecundiam ejus, et mores et verba;
et etiam qualiter Angelus diligenter et sapienter
inducit eam.24

As it stands, this is a private matter between Mary, Ga-

briel, and the Trinity, but in The Mirror it is considerably

expanded. Love's additions are underlined.

Now take here good hede and haue in mynde how first
all the holy trinyte is there abidynge a fynal an-
swere and assent of his blessid dou3ter marye / ta-
kynge hede and byholdynge lykyngliche hir schamefast
semblaunt / hir sad maneres / and her wise words:
and furthermore howe alle the blessid soirites of
heuene / and alle the ri3twis lyuynge men in erthe /
and alle the chosen soules that weren that tyme in
helle / as adam / abraham / dauid / and alle other
desireden hir assent; in the which stood the saua-
cioun of all mankynde: and also how the aungel ga-
briel stondynge with reuerence before his lady /
enclynynge / and with mylde semblant abideth the
aunswere of his message. (29-30)

Thn cce-n- IT nr. lonn'er rriv'.'te, nrr i1 it rinpl,p a matter

or :-Isf,-'. cc-rn cenr, f:.r Lc.ve nsa r:-icht:neQ thz -eiis e r kr-

ticipation and suspense by showing that "the sauacioun of

all mankynde" hangs in the balance and by including in the

scene all of those who are concerned with her decision, in

short, all creation.

When Love decides to interpret a scene in order to in-

sure that his readers perceive its implications properly,

he is seldom subtle. Thus, when Jesus is brought before

Pilate, the Meditationes offers a straightforward and neutral

presentation of the event: "Accusatur tune ab illis in mul-

tis, et Pilatus ipsum misit ad Herodem."25 In The Mirror,

however, the scene is anything but neutral.

Than / as it is said / oure lord was ladde to
pylate: and they folwede aferre / for they [Mary
and John] my3t not come nyh for people. He was there
accused of meny things / the which thay my3t nou3t
proue; and therefore pilate sent hym to herode. (228)

The addition of the underlined phrase loads this scene with

meaning and leaves no doubt about what the audience is to

think, for it identifies Jesus' accusers as liars and, in

light of what happens later, makes Pilate a false judge.

In short, it reinforces what any reader of The Mirror knew

in the first place: all proceedings against Jesus are false

for he is implicitly on the side of truth.

Love's insight into the persons involved in the life

of Christ, and his ability to develop them as characters

and communicate their emotions and motives to his audience

is evident throughout The Mirror and is one of the most

effective means at his disposal for making his narrative

vivid and lifelike. For example, in describing Jesus' home-

coming from his forty days in the desert, the Meditationes

confines itself to only the essential details, barely

suggesting the happiness of the scene: "Cum autem domum

devenit, mater eum videns, ultra quam dici posset exhil-

arata, surgit, occurit, et in amplexus strictissimos re-

cipit.i26 Compare with this the version in The Mirror and

note Love's additions, which are underlined.

And what tyme that he was comen home and his moder
hadde the si3t of hym / none wonder thou3 sche was
glad and joyeful in so moche that there may no tunge
telle: wherfore anon sche roos and clippynge and
kissynge hym welcomed hym home / and thonked the
fader of heuene that had brou3t hym sauf to hir; but
therwith byholdynge his face lene and nale sche had
grete compassion. (100)

Here we see Mary's joy at her son's return, expressed not

only in her reaction to him, but also in her prayer of

thanksgiving for his safe return. In addition, we receive

a realistic appraisal of Jesus' physical condition, reflected

in his "lene and pale" face and Mary's motherly concern as

she reacts to his appearance. This insight into motives and

emotions is also evident in the Annunciation when Gabriel

says to Mary: "Heile / full of grace / oure lord is with

thel Blessed be thou in women and aboue alle wymmen" (26).

In portraying her reaction to this greeting, the Latin text

says: "Ipsa vero turbata, nihil respondit."27 In The

Mirror, however, we see not only her confusion, but the

reason for it, for she "was astonyed and abasshed / and

nou3t a':Eiered / tbut thcOu3t what thi: grcting my3tc be" ('26).

Later, wheti Jc.zep-p n:rtI c tra t 'ary 1; pre inianit, tre Latin

ve:slior describe? hi: react ic: in thi: :i'ay:

Conspiciebat ergo Joseph conjugem suam semel et plur-
ies, et dolebat et turbabatur, et eidem vultum osten-
debat turbatum, et oculos avertebat ab ea tanquam a
mala, suspicans eam ex adulterio concepisse.28

This reflects his consternation and his embarrassment, but

it does not show as clearly as the English his completely

human perplexity at what he has discovered.

For one the tone side he sawh hir lyf so holy and no
tokene of synne in hir / neither in contenaunce /
neither in word in speche / nor in dede that he dorste
not openly accuse hir of avoutrie; and on that other
side he knewe nou3t how that sche my3te conceyue bot
byan. (41)

Love's efforts to humanize his "characters" are also

evident in a scene which takes place after the Crucifixion.

The Roman soldiers have just violated and broken the bodies

of the two thieves, and as Mary and her companions sit

around the cross they see another group of men approaching

from the city. In the Latin, this is given simply as a

factual part of the narrative: "Iterum autem vident alios

plures per viam venientes, qui erant Joseph ab Arimathia

et Nicodemus, ducentes secum alios."29 Love humanizes this

scene by relating not only what they see, but also what

they feel.

In the mene tyme that oure lady and John and there
biforesaide were in grete perplexite and desolacioun /
as it is i-saide; they lokeden toward the citee as they
ofte sithes deden for drede / and than sawh thay many
other comynge toward hem by the way; the which were
Joseph of Armethie and Nycodeme. (247)

Here, we see that they looked toward the city out of fear,

which is perfectly reasonable in light of what had happened

to the two thieves, and by showing this fear Love both cre-

ates suspense about what is going to happen to Jesus and

suggests the precarious situation of his followers at this

point in the narrative. On Easter morning, when Mary

Magdalene and her companions arrive at the tomb and dis-

cover that Jesus is gone, the Meditationes describes them

as "fraudatae spe sua, quia putabant corpus Domine invenire,

non attendentes ad verba angeli."0 It should be obvious

that their hope of finding Jesus' body is frustrated, but

what is not so obvious is their reason for ignoring the

angels. Love explains this in terms of their confusion at

an event which they do not completely understand. "But

thay for also myche as they fonde nou3t the body of her

maistre there / as they hopeden / were so destourblede in

her wittes and abaschede / that thai toke none reward to

the aungelles words" (265-266). A short time later, when

Jesus appears to Magdalene in the garden, Love psychologizes

the actions of both of them, interpreting Jesus' motives for

not identifying himself immediately as well as explaining

why Mary does not recognize him at once.

And anon was he in the gardyn where Magdeleyne was /
and seide to her: Womman / what sekest thou? and why
wepest? Oure lorde asked hir that he wiste wel to that
ende / as seynt gregorie seith / that by her answer
in the nempnynge of hym / the fire of loue schulde by
the more feruently kyndeled in her herte. Neuertheles
sche / nou3t knowing hym / but al destracte and oute
of hir self / supposing that he hadde be a 5ardyner
said: Sir / if 3ow haueth taken hym away / telle me

where thou hast done hyn, ,' that I may take h r, to me.
. And than oure lorle Jezu / ha.ine cc.irpasair..nr
of here grete sorwe and wepynge here clepede her by
her homely name and said: Marie. (268)31

Frequently, Love provides insight into the motives and

feelings of persons involved in the action, not Just to

humanize them, but to distinguish between the good and the

evil ones for his audience. This is especially evident in

his treatment of the Jews, Pharisees, and Romans, who con-

sistently reveal their evil and conspiratorial natures.

At one point, the Pharisees rebuke Jesus and his disciples

for picking and eating corn on the Sabbath, and the Medi-

tationes says: "Reprehendebantur autem a Pharisaeis dicen-

tibus, hoc non licere die sabbati."32 Love expands this and

suggests that the Pharisees' rebuke was motivated by some-

thing other than their concern for observing the Sabbath.

And the pharisees / that euere aspyed oure lordes
wordss and dedes for to take hym in defau3te a3enst
hir lawe / reproued therefore both him and his dis-
ciples / and seiden that it was unleueful on the
sabbot day. (129)

Thus, long before their conspiracy against Jesus actually

materializes, there is a foreshadowing, in a heavy-handed

way, of what the Pharisees will eventually do. A short time

later, Love characterizes them as "blynde in soule thoru3

malice" (146), a comment which is not in the Latin text.

Later, when Jesus is before Pilate, the Meditationes simply

presents the scene and shows the persistence of the Jews

in their persecution.33 Love also presents the events, but

provides an interpretation as well.

When he was then a3eyn i-brou3t to pilate / and thoo
cursed houndes besily and stifly stoden in hir false
accusaciouns / pilate / knowynge hir envie / wolde haue
delyuered hym / and seide: I fynde no cause of deth
in this man. (229)

The additions not only confirm the Jews' malevolence, but

also suggest Pilate's ambivalent situation, and this is

further developed in the scene in which he passes sentence

on Jesus. The Meditationes shows Pilate giving the sentence:

"et sic condemnatur a misero judice Pilato."34 Love adds

to this Pilate's reason for passing sentence, a further

indication of his own character and the difficulty of his

position, and comments on the quality of justice involved


At the last the wrecched Justice Pilate / dredynge
more to offended hem than to condampne the innocent /
wrongewesly 3af the sentence vppon hym at her will /
and so dampnede hym to be honge on the croys. (232)

One of the major reasons for the quality of The Mirror

is that Love consistently displays a better sense of com-

position than is evident in the Meditationes. This has

less to do with prose style than with giving scenes a more

logical order, a sharper focus, and a better structure

than they have in the Latin text. For example, Love may

alter the sequence of events in a scene with the result

that things happen in the proper order. The Meditationes

shows Jesus ejecting the money changers from the temple

in this passage:

Duabus vicibus ejecit Dominus Jesus ementes et venden-
tes de temple: quod inter ejus magna miracula depu-
tatur. Nam licet alias eum vilipenderent, tune tamen
omnes ante eum fugerunt. Et quamvis essent multi, non

se defenderunt sed ipse -olus. eum quibu:dam funlcull.
omnes ejecit.35

Love rearranges this scene so that the mention of the

"funiculis" is directly associated with Jesus rather than

dropped into the middle of a discussion of the Jews' re-

action. Note how the underlined phrase has been transposed.

Two tymes / as the gospelle maketh mynde / oure lorde
Jesu cast out of the temple the biggeres and the
sellers there inne / and that with a scourge made of
cordes: the which dede among alle the myracles that
he wrou3te semeth wonderfully. (154)

There is a similar correction of narrative sequence in the

scene in which Jesus is received at the house of Mary and

Martha. In the Meditationes we first see Mary, who has knelt

at Jesus' feet, and then we hear Martha's objection to her

sister's seeming inactivity. At this point Jesus responds:

"sed contrarian sententiam reportavit, et Mariam optimam

partem elegisse audivit."36 Only after the issue has been

decided in her favor is our attention directed to Mary, who

has been listening all along, and we see her reaction to

each stage of the contention. Love alters this sequence,

presenting Martha's complaint, Mary's reaction, and then

Jesus' answer.

Martha / that was so besily occupied about the myn-
ystracioun and the service of oure lorde Jesu and
his disciples / seenge hir sustre Marie so sittynge
as it were in ydelnesse / toke hit heuyly and com-
pleyned hir to oure lorde as he hadde take no reward
therto / and prayed him that he wolde bidde her sister
rise and helpe hir to serue. And than was Marie aferde
leste sche schulde haue be taken fro that swete reste
and goostly likynge that sche was ynne / and nou3t
'sche seide bot hynge doun hir heued / abidynge what
oure lorde wolde seie. And than oure lorde / answerynge
for hir / seide to Martha / that thou3 sche was besy

and troubled about many things; neuertheles one
thing was necessarie / and that was the beste Marye
chase. (156)

The effect of this alteration is to re-structure the scene

in the order of action, reaction, and resolution, allowing

both sides of the contention to be presented to the audience

before giving Jesus' response, which is here a means of

settling the dispute rather than an interruption of it.

Another example of improved composition in The Mirror,

which deserves quotation in full from both texts, shows

Love expanding and consolidating the narrative, rearranging

the sequence so that events follow one another naturally,

and altering the syntax to insure that changes or omissions

from the source do not create confusion. This scene takes

place in the temple when the Jews are offended at Jesus'

statement that he is the bread of life. In the Meditationes

it is as follows. Those portions which are omitted in The

Mirror are enclosed in parentheses.

Alia vice, cum spiritualia verba doceret in synagoga,
aliqui ex disclpulis ejus, tanquam carnales, non in-
telligentes recesserunt. (Sed ad duodecim discipulos
ait; numquid et vos vultis abire?) Et Petrus pro se
et alis respondit: Domine, ad quem ibimus? verba
vitae habes. (Considera ergo eum in praedictis et aliis
similibus, quomodo cum potestate loquebatur, et docebat
veritatem, non curans de scandal pravorum, sive in-
sipientium. Notandum igitur primo, quod propter al-
terius scandalum non debemus recedere a virtute jus-
titiae; secundo, quod de interior munditia magis,
quam de exterior honestate curare debemus, quod
etiam alibi expressius Dominus dixit in Luca; quod
spiritualiter vivere debemus, eta quod verba Domini
non videantur nobis extranea, sicut illis discipulis,
qui quando Christus dixit in Joanne:) Nisi mandu-
caveritis carnem filii nominis.37

ConitiraL t i.itr tnis Lo'.'e'2 '.er ion oif the came eve tiL, irh which

his ad3lition- are uni Jrline .

Another tyme also whan he tau3te in the synagoge gostly
lore / and seide that he was the brede of lyf that
came fro heuene / and how it byhoued to eten his
flesche and drinken his blode who so schulde be sauf
and haue euerlastynge lyf; they vnderstondynge his
words fleschely and not goostely gruccheden a3enst
hym and token occasion of grete sclaundre. And many
of his disciples thoru3 that mysvndirstondynge flesche-
ly forsoken hym / hot petre in the name of the xij
apostles answered that they wolde not leuen hym; for
he hadde the words of euerelastynge lyf: and so that
was sclaundre to the badde was vertues to the gode.

To begin with, Love has moved the last sentence in the

Latin version and placed it second in his own, thus giving

the narrative a more logical order and allowing it to focus

on a central issue, Jesus' statement that "he was the brede

of lyf," which causes both the Jews and the disciples to

react with such force. The Pharisees are not mentioned in

the Latin version, and by adding them here Love brings the

narrative closer to both the biblical event which is being

depicted and to the context of this particular chapter of

The Mirror, which is titled: "How the pharisees and other

token occasion of sclaundre of the words and the dedes

of Jesu." The personal pronoun they in the fifth line is

grammatically ambiguous, but two items in the passage

suggest that it refers to the Pharisees. First, the phrase

"gruccheden a3enst hym and token occasion of grete sclaun-

dre" is worded very much like the chapter title and, for

this reason, seems to indicate that the focus here is on the

Pharisees. Also, the disciples are not explicitly introduced

into the scene until the next sentence, after the Pharisees'

reaction, and the last statement of Love's version, "and so

that was sclaundre to the badde was vertues to the gode,"

clearly indicates that there are two groups in the scene

rather than only one, as in the Latin. Because the two

groups are referred to in separate grammatical units, Love

must point out that the disciples, as well as the Pharisees,

misunderstood what Jesus said in order to show that their

action in forsaking him, and Peter's response, are not

casual, but motivated by what has just taken place.

Although it omits more than half of the Latin version,

Love's rendering of this scene is both closer to the Bible

and more related to the chapter in which it occurs because

the Pharisees have been added to it. Also, the rearrange-

ment of the elements of the narrative to provide a logical

action-and-reaction sequence, beginning with Jesus' state-

ment, gives the scene more cohesion within itself than it

has in the Latin version. The second bracketed passage in

the Latin text, as it stands, is an authorial intrusion

which, rather than adding to the narrative, detracts from

it by diverting the reader's attention away from the action.

Love, by deleting this passage and adding details which are

closely related to the action, creates a brief, concrete

scene which focuses on two separate groups of men, each

reacting differently to a specific issue.

Some scenes in The Mirror are a composite of corres-

ponding passages in the Meditationes and the Vulgate, and

th e re l1t oCf clr-m inin the tiwo i a cl:3are'r epc; itic'n cf

e'.'ntZ and trh reasons for them than is found in the Med-

Itaticne:. Fc-r example, when Peter, at Jesus' command,

attempts to walk across the water, the Meditationes says:

"tunc Petrus . ad Jussum ejus coepit et ipse supra

mare ambulare; sed postea titubans coepit mergi."38 This

leaves the impression that Peter simply falters, "titubans,"

as though he were attempting the impossible, and there is

no mention of the storm. Love adds the storm on the author-

ity of the Vulgate: "Videns vero ventum validum, timuit"

(Matthew 16. 30), and goes a step beyond: "but anyone as a

grete wynde blewe he failed in byleue and drede / and so

bygan to drenche" (144). Only here is it made clear that

Peter does not simply falter, nor is he simply afraid; his

is a failure of faith, and that is the real reason that

he cannot walk on water. Love's interpretation of this

event is justified by the following chapter of the Vul-

gate in which Jesus reproves Peter, saying: "Modicae fidei,

quare dubitasti?" (Matthew 16. 31).

So far, we have concerned ourselves with Love's practice

of making minimal changes in the Meditationes as he trans-

lated, and with their effect in enriching specific scenes

in The Mirror. These alterations are important in them-

selves for demonstrating Love's use of narrative techniques

which are far more sophisticated and show a greater attention

to verisimilitude, characterization, and composition than

is to be found in many other devotional and secular prose

works of the same period. But, whether we consider them

either in isolation or collectively, these individual changes

can do no more than suggest the effects of such recension on

larger units of the text. Therefore, it will be useful to

consider two such larger units to see in what ways Love has

altered them and, in a sense, made them his own.

The first of these narrative units recounts the flight

of Jesus and his parents to Egypt, their life there, and

their return after seven years. The Mirror and the Med-

itationes agree in the details of the angel's warning to

Joseph, the departure, and the journey itself, but in the

Latin version the narrative is interrupted, just after the

family sets out for Egypt, and the author presents a medi-

tation on four things about the journey which are important

to the devout. Once this meditation is completed, the author

moves on to the journey itself. In The Mirror the narrative

is consolidated into one place and followed by the meditation.

The effect of this transposition is to eliminate a discon-

tinuity in the narrative sequence and to clearly separate

this portion of the chapter into narrative and meditative

parts. Thus, when it is time to meditate on the "many goode

ensaumples and notable doctrines" (65) which the journey

presents, the narrative is complete and the audience should

have the relevant details firmly in mind. As though to rein-

force this, each of the four points of the meditation refers

to a part of the narrative that has just passed, in a sense

recapitulating it as well as drawing instruction from it.

The first point is "hou oure lord JeCu tol:- in hi:, own

person some tyme prosperity and welthe / and sumtyme

aduersite and woo" (65), which contrasts Jesus' persecution

by Herod with the adoration which he received at his birth.

The second lesson is humility, which is taught by the angel's

appearance to Joseph, "and not to oure lady; and natheless

3it was he moche lasse in meryte and more vnworthy than sche"

(66). The third example is "that oure lord suffreth his

derelynges to be disesed here thoru3 persecuciouns and

tribulaciouns" (67), and this considers the apparent ab-

surdity of the Son of God fleeing from a mere mortal as

Love attempts to justify the daily trials and tribulations

of those in his audience by admonishing them to "kepe ther-

ynne pacience / and loke not to haue here of a pryuelege

of hym that wolde not take hit hym self / ne 3eue it his

moder" (67). The fourth and last point of the meditation

considers the "grete benignyte and mercy of oure lorde" (67)

in choosing to flee rather than to destroy his adversary,

and this recalls what was said about Jesus at the end of

the narrative: "And so fled that grete lorde the pursute

of his seruaunt / 3e more properly the deueles seruant" (65).

By placing this meditation at the end of his narrative of

the journey, Love effectively separates the details of the

flight to Egypt from the account of how the holy family

lived once they arrived at their destination, thus creating

a sense of the passage of time between two narratives which

are related but actually focus on different matters. In

the Latin text there is no such separation because the medi-

tation comes earlier, interrupting what would otherwise be

a closely knit narrative, while the details of the journey

and the seven years in Egypt are strung together as a con-

tinuous unit.

In the Meditationes, the account of the holy family's

life in Egypt is diffuse, repetitious, and frequently in-

terrupted for meditations on the merits of poverty and the

dangers of superfluity. The Mirror presents only selected

details, shortening the narrative considerably and con-

solidating it in one place. As before, the meditative

passages are also consolidated and placed at the end of the

narrative. Love's selection of some scenes and omission

of others results in a narrative which is less detailed

than the one in the Latin text, but which focuses more

sharply on Jesus, Mary, and Joseph. Thus, we are told "how

oure lady wrou3t for hir liflode / that is to seie with

nedele sewynge and spynnynge" (68),39 but not how she found

such employment:

Ibat ipsa per domos petendo pannum, et alia in quibus
operaretur? Oportuit enim hoc per viciniam innotes-
cere; alias vacasset a talibus 9peribus, quia lllae
mulieres non poterant divinare.4

In the Meditationes we also see Jesus going about on errands

for his mother.

Sed et cum Jesus coepit esse quinquennis, vel sic,
numquid et ipse portabat ambasiatas matris, petendo
pro ipsa ea in quibus operari valeret? Non enim habe-
bat alium scutiferum. Sed et numquid reportabat opera
facta, petens ex parte matris solutionem et pretium?
Nonne in talibus erubescebat puer Jesus, filius Dei

altissime, et etiam mater mittena' SeJ quiJd si 1ii-
quotes, dum opus reddidisr-et, et prietit. pietret,
mulier aliqua superba, rixosa et loquax, injuriose
respondit, opus factum accept, eum sine pretio ex-
pulit, et sic vacuus domum rediit? 0 quot et quantae
fiunt injuriae advenis, quas Dominus vitare non venit,
set suscipere!41

Here, Jesus is nearly hidden among the details of Mary's

feelings, the probability of her being paid, and the brief

portrait of the proud woman. In The Mirror, however, Jesus

is made the focal point of this scene, and those elements

which do not bear directly upon Love's portrait of him as

a helpful son are either subordinated or omitted.

Blessed Jesu / after he cam to the age of fyue 3ere
or there about / 3ede on hir erandes and halpe in
that he my3te / as a pore child / to hem schewynge
in alle his dedes busomenesse / loweness / and mekenes.
And sithen hem byhoued to gete here lyflode in that
manere with her trauaille / and perauenture with
repreue ofte sithes of hem that they dwelled among /
as it falleth comounly to straungeres / and also
with schame. (68)

In the next chapter of The Mirror, which portrays the

holy family's return from Egypt, Love displays this same

method of selection and condensation and produces a concise

narrative which focuses on Jesus and his family. Love

begins by linking this narrative to what has gone before

with the comment: "after that herodes was dede" (71), and

then translates directly from the Latin a brief summary of

what is to follow. At this point, however, the two texts

diverge. The version of this narrative in the Meditationes

is at least twice as long as Love's rendering of it and

presents the story in the same diffuse and cluttered manner

that described the holy family's way of life in Egypt. In

it, there is a constant awareness, produced by the use of

"you" and "we" forms of the verb, that both the author and

the reader are present. For example:

Redeas ergo in Aegyptum gratia visitandi puerum Jesum,
quem cum extra inter pueros forte inveniris, ipse te
videns occurred tibi, quia benignus, et affabilis et
curialis est. Tu vero genuflectens, osculeris pedes
ejus, et post inter brachia opsum suscipias, et ali-
quantulum cum eo quiescas. Tandem forte dicet tibi:
Data est nobis licentia redeun i in terram nostram,
et eras hinc recedere debemus. 2

The author of the Latin text describes the departure itself

in great detail, and the holy family is engulfed in a

flurry of activity as their friends accompany them outside

the city and bid them farewell.

Mane sequenti die videbis aliquas bonas matronas de
civitate, et etiam homines venientes ad sectandum
eos usque extra portam civitatis, propter placabilem
et sanctam conversationem ipsorum. Praedixerant enim
discessum suum per viciniam per plures dies: primum
quia non est conveniens, quod subito quasi furtim inde
recederent; secus tamen fuit, quando venerunt in
Aegyptum, quia timuerunt mortem pueri. Incipiunt enim
recedere, et Joseph cum hominibus praecedit, et
Domina sequitur a long cum matronls.43

In contrast to this, Love's narrative of the return

from Egypt focuses on Jesus and the difficulty of recrossing

the desert. Those passages in the Latin text which obscure

this focus and distract the reader's attention by presenting

people or events which are extraneous to the business of

returning home are either omitted or considerably shortened.

The description is, for the most part, in the third person,

and the interposed personalities of the author and reader

have disappeared. The result is a concise narrative with a

minimum of detail and, although it is brief, it is yet vivid

enough t.: fix itreif in the reader'E mind ;i.thc.ut as:ing

that ne remember too much.

Hl:'e n,;-C .-. L e in the cfnr'I' ie 3.',y n oc Jecu / ac
it was seide in his goynge / drede and disease menged
with comfort and ese. For what tyme tei /' beynge in
a strange londe / herde of the deth of her enemyes /
and that thei schulde come a3eyne in to her owne
londe / no doute but that it was grete comfort and
hope of eese; but takynge hede therwith to the hard
trauaille by the wey / and after whan that they comen
in to hir owne londe in hope of pees tithinges of a
newe enemy come to hem and for drede of hym beden to
eschewe his cuntrey / there was discomfort and
disease. (71)

The focus here is clearly on Jesus and his hardship, and

this is reinforced in the remainder of the narrative by the

use of such phrases as longe and hard weie" (71) and

"horrible desert" (71). Near the end of the chapter,as

the travelers emerge from the desert, they encounter John

the Baptist and later arrive at the "house of our lady

cosyne Eli3abeth" (72) where they meet "John euangeliste

come with his moder / oure lady sister / to visit and

see Jesu" (73). Love adds these encounters on his own as a

means of introducing, early in the book, persons who will

assume important roles in later events.

The two chapters of The Mirror which present Jesus'

life between the ages of twelve and thirty, and his baptism

at the end of that interval, are also a discussion of hu-

mility. Here we are able to see Love working on both a

narrative and a thematic level, changing the Meditationes

at times, but also letting substantial portions of it stand.

Chapter thirteen, which renders the eighteen unrecorded

years of Christ's life, is retained almost intact from the

Latin text; intact in the sense that, though it is not a

word-for-word translation, it neither omits nor adds sub-

stantive details. Given the powers of imgaination evident

in both the Meditationes and The Mirror, we might expect

this to be a rampant fabrication of Jesus' daily life, but

such is not the case. There is, of course, circumstantial

detail, but it is kept to a minimum and, in Love's text,it

comprises slightly more than one of the five pages which

the chapter occupies. The narrative portrays only stylized

and general events which are no more than we might infer

or expect, given what is already known from the foregoing

narrative and from Christian tradition in general. For


byholde we there the maner of lyuynge of that blissed
company in pouerte and symplenesse to gidre; and how
that olde man Joseph wrou3t as he my3te in his craft
of carpuntrie; oure lady also with distaf and nedle /
and therewith making hir mete / and other offices
doynge that longed to housholde / as we mowe thynke
in dyuers manere; and how oure lord Jesu mekely help
hem bothe at her nede / and also in leienge the borde /
makynge the beddes and such other charges gladly
and lowely mynistrynge. (82-83)

The bulk of the chapter consists of a discussion of humility,

and the sparse documentation for this period in Jesus' life

seems to have offered an ideal opportunity for talking about

"mekenes," withdrawal from the world, and the lesson which

is to be gained from such a prolonged period of silence on

the part of one who is so great.

3if he didde and wrou3t thing that were worthy to be
written and spoken / why is it not written as other
dedes of hym bene? Sothely it semeth merveylous and
wonderful. But neuertheles / 3if we wole here take

good entent / we schul rn.:...e zee tnt .a in rno3t do.,.-ge
he didde grete thynges and wc.nderfull; fcr there i.
no thing of his dedes / or tyme of hys leuynge / with
oute misterie and edificacioun. But as he spake and
wrou3t vertuously in tyme / so he helde his pees and
rested and withdrowe hym vertuously in tyme. (78-79)

In the narrative portions of this chapter, Love concentrates

on amplifying this theme of humility by portraying Jesus

engaged in humble activities. Thus, in the synagogue, he

is to be found in "the lowest and priuyest place" (79), for

"it was his will to be holde as vnworthy and abiecte to the

world for'oure sauacioun" (80). The scriptural silence

about these years is taken as evidence of humility and is

offered as an example to the devout Christian.

Here mowe we see that he in that abieccioun / as it
were no3t doynge / didde a ful grete vertuouse dede
of worthy commendynge; and what was that? Sothely
that he made hym self foule and abiecte in the si3t of
other; and here of had he no nede / but we hadde this
nede: for sothely as I trowe in alle oure dedes
there is no thing gretter or harder to fulfill than
is this. (80).

Chapter fourteen, "Of the bapteme of oure lord Jesu

and the wey therto," is directly related to chapter thirteen

in two ways. On the narrative level, it begins where the

previous chapter leaves off and portrays Jesus' emergence

into the world after twenty nine years of self-imposed

silence and humility.

After that xxix 3ere were complete in which oure lord
Jesu had lyued in penaunce and abiectioun / as it is
seide / in the bigynnynge of his xxx 3ere / he spake
to his moder and seide: Dere moder / it is now tyme that
I goo to glorifie and make known my fader / and also
to schewe my self to the world / and to worche the
saluacioun of mannis soule / as my fader hath ordeyned
and sent me in to this world for this ende. (84)

The two chapters are also related by the common theme of

humility. This is perhaps less obvious in The Mirror than

in the Meditationes because in the midst of the baptism

scene the Latin version contains a discourse on humility

which occupies nearly two-thirds of the chapter, overwhelming

the narrative by the space it occupies, if for no other

reason. Love omits most of this, translating only an

introductory summary which amounts to no more than a list

of what the "tres humilitatis gradus" consist of. There

is, however, sufficient evidence in the rest of the chapter

to indicate that the subject is still as much humility as

the baptism. As Jesus leaves his parents' house to find

John the Baptist, "bare foote and alone" (85), we are urged

to imagine the scene,

Thenkynge in this manere: A lord Jesu / 3e that ben
kyng of alle kynges / whider goo 3ee in this manere
alone? Gode lorde / where ben 3oure dukes and erles /
kni3tes and barouns / horses and harneises / char-
iotes and someres / and alle 3oure seruauntes and
mynystres that schulde be about 3ow / to kepe 3ow
fro the comoun people in manere of kynges and
lordes? (85)

The answer to this rhetorical question stressed the humility

which Jesus has taken upon himself as man.

Why than goo 3e thus sympilly / alone / and on the
bare erthe? Sothely the cause is for 3e be not at
this tyme in 3oure kyngdom / the which be not of this
world. For here 3e haue enentisshed 3oure self /
takynge the manere of a seruaunt and not of a kyng;
and so 3e haue made 3oure self as oon of vs / a
pilgryme and a stranger / as alle oure fadres
weren. (85-6)

This theme of humility is carried into the baptism scene

itself by Jesus' answer to John, who objects to baptising

one r-i.ate;r thanr hhimzelf.

Lcrd / I zciulde be taptis ed c.:i thee; noc thlou c.omest
tc: ie ; anrd Je Su anr ue -red : uii:fre no ; Ior trnui It
fallen 'h ani 'by ,nctn V2 t.: fulfIlle all ri3tiuZne=.
SAs who seith: seie not this now / and bywreye me not /
or make me not known; for my t: ne tneri.fi is not 3it
comen; but now doo as I bidde and bapti.e me / for
now is tyme of mekenesse. (87)

As though to remove all doubt that these two chapters are

thematically related, near the end of chapter fourteen Love

reproduces a statement from the Latin which is an open in-

vitation to compare them.

For of the 3outhe of oure lorde in to this tyme of
xxxt 3ere I here or rede but litel more. But now
may he no longer be hidde / sithen he is so opounly
schewed of the fader. Alle this ben the words of
seint Bernard in sentence / confermynge that was
seide before in the next chaptire. (89)

It may be argued, however, that Love subordinates

the theme of humility in this chapter on the baptism because

he omits the long discourse, "tres humilitatis gradus,"

which treats humility in detail, citing edifying passages

from the Bible and the Sermons and Epistles of Saint Bernard.

To leave out such a passage which is apparently so central

to the theme may be construed by some as self-defeating,

so at this point it is instructive to look at the nature

of the omitted portions in contrast to Love's narrative.

As it stands, this discourse on humility forms a separate

tract on the nature of humility, treating it as a theological

virtue which is defined in terms of other virtues such as

charity, chastity, and justice. It might be characterized

by such passages as the following:

qualis humilitas nostra? Audi super hoc non me, sed
Bernardum qui ait: "Est humilitas, Quam charitas format
et inflammat; et est humilitas, quam nobis veritas
part, et non habet calorem. Atque haec quidem in
cognitione, illa in affect consistit. Etenim si
tu temetipsum intus ad lumen veritatis, et sine
disimulatione inspicias."'44

Here, humility is formed and kindled by charity, or is cold,

found only by the light of truth. Toward the end of this

discussion there is a digression into the relationship of

chastity and charity in which the Meditationes quotes from

Bernard's sermons on the Song of Songs.

Verum quantalibet venustate sui castitas eminere
appareat; sine charitate tamen, nec pretium habet nec
meritum. Nec mirum. Quod enim absque illa bonum
suscipitur? fides? Sed nec si montes transferat.
Scientia? Nic Illa, quae linguis loquitur angelorum.
Martyrium? nec illud: si tradidero, inquit, corpus
meum, ita ut ardeam. . Castitas sine charitate,
lampas sine oleo.45

Only at length is this discussion related to humility:

"Nempne ut castitas, sive charitas obtineatur, humilitas

meretur: quoniam humilibus Deus dat gratiam."46

Such a discourse on the nature of humility seems

foreign to the nature of The Mirror, first because it is

unlikely that it would appeal to that group of laymen which

Love proposes to take as his audience, simple creatures,

"that kan not thenke bot bodies or bodily things" (9).

Also, the omitted material forms a marked contrast with the

narrative, in which the treatment of humility is not abstract,

and is only mildly theological. Here the emphasis is upon

the practice of humility, rather than its nature, and the

teaching is inseparable from portrayal of Jesus, Mary, and

Jo;..ph as the, -.erfc.rml .niric.ou action ujnln aire characterized

as numbile. Thus, for tne eighteen unrecorded year cf his

life ~;e zee J.-e's ,olnc t,:. the lo...:-Zt place cl the ;yonia i.oi

helping his parents, making himself a servant for the bene-

fit of mankind, and lowering "hym self in all manere of

mekenes and abiectioun in the si3te of other: fulfillynge

first in dede that he tau3te after by word" (81). When he

goes to be baptized he travels alone and is not afraid to

appear as a sinner among the crowds listening to John the


For John preached to synful men to do penaunce / and
baptised hem; and oure lord Jesu cam among hem / and
in her si3t was baptised as one of hem. And that was
a souereyn poynte of mekenes namely in this tyme / whan
he purposed to preche and schewe hym self as goddes
sone. For as by weie of mannis resoun he schulde haue
dredde than of that lowe dede / leste therby after
whan he preached he schulde haue be in lasse repu-
tacioun and despised as a synful man and vnworthy. (89)

Love teaches humility, not through an abstract theological

discussion of virtues, but through the presentation of

people in the narrative acting in a prescribed way in a

specific setting, and this provides the audience with brief

but vivid examples of how they should act.

Love's consciousness of his audience is evident through-

out both chapters in those passages which comment on the

examples and appeal directly to the reader. For example,

after Jesus' early life has been described as one of abject

meekness, we find:

and so as we seide before / oure lorde Jesu lyued in
this manere and made hym self abiecte and as vnworthy
to the world not for his owne nede / but fort teche

vs the trewe wey of perfeccioun. Wherfore 3if we
lerne it no3t we mowe not be excused; for it is an
abhominable thing to see him that is bot as a worme
and wormes mete to come fort hi3e hym self by
presumpcioun / and lifte vp hym self as ou3te /
whan that hi3e lorde of maieste so meked hym self
by abiectioun / and lowed hym self as no3t. (81)

Later, after Love has described the domestic life of Jesus,

Mary, and Joseph as having only the meanest of accommodations,

"for as we mowe ymagyne thei had no grete house / but a

litel" (83), there is another passage which speaks directly

to the audience.

Lord god / where ben now thei that louen so moche
the lust and the likynge / and the ese of the flesche;
that seken so besiliche precious and curious and
dyuerse ornamentis and vanytees of the world? Sothely
we that louen and desiren such things / we lerne not
that in the scole of this master; for he tau3t
vs bothe by word and by dede mekenes / pouerte / and
penaunce / and chastisynge of the body. (84)

After he has narrated the baptism, Love makes his final

point by suggesting the reward which can come to one who

contemplates this period in Christ's life and follows its

example. Jesus, because of his perfect humility, was openly

acknowledged by God at his baptism, "whan the holy goost

come done in the liknes of a dowfe and rested vppon hym /

and the vois of the fader seide: This is my byloued sone /

in whom it liketh me wele; and therefore here 3e hym" (88).

Love implies that if the faithful Christian follows Jesus'

example, he too can hope to be singled out in this manner.

For as he was in this tyme of his souereyn mekenes /
in the vnderfongynge of his baptisme taken of his
seruaunt / schewed by wittenesse of the fader / and
tokene of the holy goost / verrey goddes sone; so
thou3 we make vs abiecte and lowe vs neuere so
moche in oure owne si3t and in other mennis / 3if


we be able to profit to other-e goc.d iil na i-. v'
known in tyme as it is most spedful to oure owne
mede and to other mennis profit. (90)

The reward for humility is heavenly, but the way to this

reward is earthly, "for oure rewme is of this world" (86).

In The Mirror, Love teaches humility and other virtues in

concrete, human terms by using incidents from the life of

Christ which "hem that ben of symple vnderstondynge" (8) can

easily visualize, "as the ymage of mannis face is schewed

in the mirror" (10), and which they can emulate.


1 See Emile Male, L'Art Religieux de la fin du moyen
age en France (Paris, 1925), who discusses the influence
of the Meditationes on medieval art at length.
2 Ibid., 29.

3 PL, 79, 473; tr. by D. W. Robertson, Jr. in
A Preface to Chaucer (Princeton, 1962), 28.

4 Quoted in G. R. Owst, Literature and Puloit in
Medieval England, 2nd. ed. (Oxford, 1966), 146.

5 Ibid., 138-139.
6 Ibid., 139.

7 Ibid., 146.
8 Samuel K. Workman, Fifteenth Century Translation as
an Influence on English Prose (Princeton, 1940), 85.

9 Elizabeth Zeeman, "Continuity and Change in Middle
English Versions of the Meditationes Vitae Christi," Medium
Aevum, XXVI, I, 31.

10 Louis L. Martz, The Poetry of Meditation, Rev. ed.
(Yale, 1962), 73.
11 Nicholas Love, The Mirrour of the Blessed Lyf of
Jesu Christ, ed. L. F. welll (Oxf7ord, 1908), T AlT
references to this work in the text are to this edition.
In quoting this edition, I have made one change in Powell's
typography by substituting the standard semi-colon where
Powell prints the inverted semi-colon found in the manu-
12 St. Bonaventure pseudd.), Meditationes Vitae Christi,
in S. Bonaventurae Opera Omnia, ed. A. C. Peltier (1874),
XII, 509-630, hereafter cited as Meditationes. Compare the
quotation from The Mirror with this, found on page 511 of
the Meditationes: "Non autem credas, quod omnia quae Ipsum
dixisse, vel fecisse constat, meditari possimus, vel quod
omnia scripta sint: ego vero ad majorem impressionem, ea
sic, ac si Ita fuissent, narrabo, prout contingere vel
contigisse credit possunt, secundum quasdam imaginarias
repraesentationes, quas animus diversimode percipit. Nam et
circa divinam Scripturam meditari, exponere et intelligere
multifarie, prout expedire credimus, possumus, dummodo non
sit contra veritatem vitae, justitiae et doctrinae, et non
sit contra fidem et contra bonos mores. Cum autem me

narrantem invenies: 'Itia di:it :.l fLcit Dorminu J,---u-,' scu
alia, quae introducuntijr; :.i llLid p--r lcripturjam Fprocari
non possit, non alite:" a''i-.it, -.us3 evo.ta :n-iditatic
exigit. Hoc est, perinr e :z.zipe, ae -i dicer-m:: [leditlril
quod ita dixit vel fecit D,'minuj JesuLs; et sic ic. imllibus.
Tu autem, si ex his f:ri.ct'.n .iere .-up C it~ t; p eraenentem
exhibeas his quae per DCM:inin-iTj ?.Tzn dicta et fCzcta narrasn-
tur, ac si tuis auribus audires et oculis ea videres, toto
mentis affect diligenter, delectabiliter et morose, om-
nibus allis curis et sollicitudinibus tune omissis."

13 Cf. Meditationes, 512-513: "hoc autem non proprie,
sed appropriate intelligas. .. Et haec de his quae in
coelis contingere potuerunt, possumus meditari."
14 See D. W. Robertson, Jr., passim.

15 Meditationes, 524.
16 Ibid., 524.

17 Owst, 121.

18 Meditationes, 524.

19 Ibid., 540
20 Ibid., 610.

21 Ibid., 552.

22 Ibid., 600.

23 Ibid., 541: "Non enim per totum annum sequentem prae-
dicationis officium public dicitur assumpsisse, videlicet
usque ad miraculum de nuptiis, quod fuit eodem die, quando
fuit baptizatus, anno revoluto."
24 Ibid., 515.

25 Ibid., 603.
2Ibid., 541.

27 Ibid., 514.

28 Ibid., 517.

29 Ibid., 608.

30 Ibid., 617.

31 Ibid., 618: "Venit ergo ad monumentum in horto ubi
erat Magdalena, et dicit ei: Mulier, quem quaeris? quid
ploras? Et ilia eum non cognoscens adhuc ut ebria, respondit,
dicens: Domine, si tu sustulisti eum, dicito mihi, ubi
posuisti eum; et ego tollam. Conspice bene ear, quomodo
lacrymabili vultu, suppliciter et devote eum exorat, ut
doceat eam ilium, quem quaerit: semper enim sperabat
audire aliqua nova de suo dilecto. Tune Dominus ad eam
dixit: Maria." Love's phrase: "supposing that he hadde be
a gardyner" is taken from John 20:15: "Illa existimans
quia hortulanus esset."
32 Ibid., 564.

33 Ibid., 603.
34 Ibid., 604.

35 Ibid., 563.

36 Ibid., 570.

37 Ibid., 561.
38 Ibid., 557.

39 Ibid., 526: "suebat ergo et filabat mundi Domina,
pauperitas anatrix."
40 Ibid., 526.
41 Ibid., 526.

42 Ibid., 528.

43 Ibid., 528.

SIbid., 535.

45 Ibid., 537.
46 Ibid., 537.


In the prologue to The Mirror, Love notes that the

Meditationes are "more pleyn in certeyn parties than is

expressed in the gospelle of the four euangelistes,"l and

suggests that he plans to go even further in making things

plain by:

drawynge out of the forseide book of cristes lyf
wryten en english / with more putte to in certeyn
parties and also with drawynge of dyuerse auctoritees
and materes as it semeth to the writer here of most
spedeful and edifienge to hem that ben of symple
vnderstondynge. (8)

In short, he will expand and clarify the text which he is

translating in order to meet the needs of his own audience,

and he will accomplish this in two major ways. First, there

are the minimal changes of passages of the Meditationes,

discussed in the preceding chapter, which enhance Love's

presentation of structure, theme, and character in his

narrative. However, this is not the only type of recension

that is to be found in The Mirror. Elizabeth Zeeman has

noted that "when Love availed himself of an existing English

version of a Latin text, his debt is not a straightforward

one."2 In fact, this can be true for whatever sources Love

uses, and it is the purpose of this discussion to show that,

when he possessed several versions of the narrative which

he wished to present, he was consistently capable of choosing

the most detailed one for the basis of his translation and

augmenting it with details from the other versions as well

as with materials of his own invention. These various

sources are not merely combined, but recast and conflated

into a narrative which, though it retains the essential

elements of each source, is yet different from each of them.

The resulting narrative is frequently more detailed and

concrete than any one of its sources and appeals more di-

rectly to the audience because the borrowed details and

Love's own additions provide a thorough explanation and in-

terpretation of what is taking place. This procedure is

particularly apparent in two chapters of The Mirror, chapter

thirty, "Of the transfiguracioun of oure lord Jesu in the

hille," and chapter thirty-four, "Of the reysinge of la3are

and other tweyne dede bodyes," both of which are substan-

tially different from the corresponding portions of the


Chapter thirty, "Of the transfiguracioun of oure lord

Jesu," is based primarily on the account found in Matthew

16:21-28 and 17:1--9, and is augmented with details from

Luke 9:27-36, the corresponding chapter of the Meditationes,

and Love's own explanations. The conflation of these ver-

sions proceeds phrase-by-phrase, and sometimes details from

two versions appear in the same grammatical unit. In addi-

tion, nearly every event of the narrative is further supple-

mented by explanatory comments which appear calculated to

make each statement as explicit as possible for the audience.

The chapter begins by singling out the Transfi.guratio :n as a

manifestation of Jesus' godhead, which he revealed to his

disciples "by the myracles that he wrou3t abouen the comune

kynde and my3t of man" (149). So far in The Mirror the

major emphasis has been on Jesus' humanity and has pictured

the humble circumstances of his birth, his flight to

Egypt, and his humility and submissiveness as a child and

young man. There have been some suggestions of his divinity,

as when he walked on water, healed the sick, or changed

water into wine, but this new identification of the Trans-

figuration as a miracle which proceeds from the godhead is

a signal to the audience that what follows is a purely

divine event in which they, along with the disciples, will

witness the beginning of Jesus' revelation of himself as

the Son of God.

The actual narrative of the Transfiguration begins with

a passage adapted from Matthew 16:21-28 in which Jesus

foretells his fate in Jerusalem and promises the disciples

that "there were some of hem that there stoden at that

tyme the which schulde not taste bodily deth til they seen

mannis sone / that was hym self / comynge in his kyngdome"

(150). This is not in the Heditationes, and by adding it

here Love-provides a context for what is to follow. The

Transfiguration occurs "forto fulfill this byheste" (:-0),

and is at the same time an explicit, "carnal" representation

of what is meant by seeing the Son of Man coming in his

own kingdom.

Love makes the narrative explicit by interpolating

statements which attempt to interpret or explain what hap-

pens or what is said, and, from our standpoint, this inter-

pretation and explanation meets with varying degrees of suc-

cess. For example, Love's explanation of what it means to

see the Son of Man coming in his own kingdom, saying that it

is to see.him "apperynge in a wonderful and ioyeful cleer-

nesse of this manhode longinge to his kyngdome" (150), pro-

vides little more information than the initial statement.

On the other hand, some of these interpretive remarks appear

to be more carefully calculated to place the events being

described within reach of the intellect and experience of

the audience by using language which is more explicit and

descriptive than that found in the sources. For instance,

to say that Jesus was "torned oute of the lowe liknesse of

seruaunt in to the hi3e and glorious likness of his kyng-

dome" (150), should strike a familiar note with the audience

because, up to this point, Jesus has frequently been cast

in the role of a servant. Yet, this addition still fails

to explain the meaning of the "liknes of his kyngdome."

Some of these interpretive comments provide the audi-

ence with a greater psychological focus upon the figures

who are participating in the action. Thus, "the disciples

rauisched" (150) when they saw Jesus speaking with Moses

and Eli, and Peter was so carried away by the heavenly

sight that "for3etynge all erthely thing [he] coueyted and

desired forto haue dwelled still there in that blisseful

place" (150). Any fervent Christian night expe.rlence such

a reaction, and portraying it here suggests to the audience

not only the power of the godhead, but how one who is a mere

human creature is apt to react in its presence. There is a

similar situation when the disciples hear the explicitly

supernatural voice of God speaking to them from a cloud.

And than whan the disciples hadde herde this heuenly
voys byforeseide of the fader / they felle doun to
the erthe on her faces with grete drede: for the
infirmyte of man my3te not here that heuenly voyce
aboue kynde. (151)

They are not simply overcome, but rather are possessed by

fear, and this addition should suggest to the audience,

which in a sense is participating in the scene, that all

men ought to be afraid even in the insensible presence of

God. The interpretive comments also provide plot motivation

for the narrative, so that events do not happen casually,

but take place for a reason. In all of the sources, the

bright cloud from which God speaks simply appears, without

warning, as though it were a perfectly predictable event

in the natural order of things. It is, however, a manifes-

tation of the divine order rather than the natural, and

Love shows that there is an explicit reason for its appear-


fort conferme hym / that is fort seie petre and his
felawes / in trewe byleue of Jesu that he was goddes
sone and that their schulde here and folowe hym in all
thing / therwith a bri3te clowde ouerschadewede hem /
and out of the clowde came a voise. (151)

This voice is an integral part of the interaction between the

divine and the human upon which this chapter, as a revelation,

is based.

The completed chapter is thus not a straightforward

translation, but a carefully wrought, phrase-by-phrase

conflation and recension of the Meditationes and two gospel

sources. These processes have resulted in an expanded

narrative in which the introductory passage, from Matthew

16:21-28, provides plot motivation and a context for the

chapter as a whole, and the accumulation of details makes

the narrative more concrete and vivid than any of its sources.

The interpretive comments are not simply authorial intrusions

into the narrative, but an integral part of it, explaining

difficult concepts to the audience and providing psychological

focus for the events by portraying the very human reactions

of common men in an extraordinary situation.

In contrast to this phrase-by-phrase combination, ex-

pansion, and recension of sources, chapter thirty-four,

"Of the reysinge of la3are and other tweyne dede bodyes,"

shows Love working with more sources than he used in chapter

thirty and combining them in larger units. Here, he adds

to the Lazarus episode the narratives of the two other times

that Jesus raised bodies from death to life, although, ex-

cept for the common theme of resurrection, they are unrelated

to it. The first episode tells of the raising of "the

dou3ter of the master of the temple," which is part of

chapter twenty-seven of the Meditationes, and the second

relates the raising of the widow's son, which occurs in

chapter twenty-six of the Latin text. Since "De

resuscitatione Lazari" is chapter sixty-six in the

Meditationes, the annexation of these earlier events to it

has required that they be moved a distance of forty chapters

in order to occur where they do in The Mirror. There is

evidence to suggest that this transfer was not haphazard,

but part of a carefully drawn plan. First, an examination

of those places in The Mirror where the earlier events

should have occurred, between chapters twenty and twenty-

two, shows that they have been carefully excised, leaving

only that part of the Latin chapter twenty-seven which

tells of the healing of Martha, who is cured by touching the

hem of Jesus' robe. Also, the three narratives have been

organized structurally and thematically into a framework

which encompasses them all, so that they are no longer

independent, but integral parts of a single whole.

The organization exhibited here is taken from St. Au-

gustine's Tractate XLIX on John 11:1-54, which advances the

thesis that "tres illos mortuos quos in corporibus susci-

tavit, liquid significare et figurare de resurrectionibus

animarum quae, fiunt per fidem." Thus, for St. Augustine,

the three bodies which have suffered physical death and are

raised to life represent three souls which have suffered

spiritual death through mortal sin and are restored to grace.

He presents them in a progression, ranging from lesser to

greater degrees of sin, and differentiates one from the

other on this scale of viciousness by using details from

the biblical narrative of each event. The daughter of the

master of the synagogue represents sin which has been

thought, but not performed.

Sed aliquando in cogitatione peccatur. Delectavit
quod malum est, consensisti, peccasti; consensio
illa occidit te: sed intus est mors, quia cogitatum
malum nondum processit in factum. Talem animam re-
suscitare se significant Dominus, resuscltavit illam
puellam quae nondum erat foras elata, sed in domo
mortua jacebat, quasi peccatum latebat.5

The internal nature of her sin is represented by the location

of her body inside the house after her death; that is,

neither her body nor her sin have yet been made visible to

the world. The episode of the widow's son carries this

system a step further, for he has performed a sinful act

and it has been made public.

Si autem non solum malae delectatione consensisti,
sed etiam ipsum malum fecisti; quasi mortuum extra
portam extulisti: jam foris es, et mortuus elatus es.
Tamen et ipsum Dom nus resuscitavit, et reddidit
viduae matri suae.

These examples are preliminary to the central topic of the

tract, the raising of Lazarus, who represents the third and

most vicious type of mortal sin, sin which is habitually

repeated, and the seriousness of his offense and its con-

sequences is, as with the others, represented symbolically

by the disposition of his body after death.

Tertius mortuus est Lazarus. Est genus mortis immane,
mala consuetudo appellatur. Aliud est enim peccare,
aliud peccandi consuetudinem facere. Qui peccat et
continue corrigitur, cito reviviscit: quia nondum est
implicatus consuetudine, non est sepultus. Qui autem
peccare consuevit, sepultus est, et bene de illo
dicitur, fetet: incipit enim habere pessimam famam,
tanquam odorem teterrimum.7

Love adopts this organization, and in doing so seems

to confirm Robertson's ideas about the medieval penchant for


figural enigmas; yet, as we shall see, although Love uses

figurative scenes, he is always explicit about their signi-

ficance. At the outset Love makes it clear that this chap-

ter, unlike its counterpart in the Meditationes, will be

concerned with more than the raising of Lazarus.

For also myche as the gospell maketh mynde of there
dede bodies reised by oure lorde Jesu fro deth to
lyue / of the which tweyne the first ben not
spoken of specially in this trete before / therefore
it semeth conuenient to this purpose somewhat to
touche of hem nowe. (165)

Then, before presenting each narrative in detail, along with

explanations of them, Love summarizes the interpretation

which he is adopting from St. Augustine.

And so / as seynt Austyne seith / by thoo there bodyes
S. ben vnderstande there manere of dede soules. . .
For as the gospell maketh mynde he reised the dou3ter
of the master of the temple that lay dede in the
house; by whom is vnderstonde dedely synne only in
assent withouten the fulfillynge thereof in dede.
Also he reised the wydowe sone borne dede on the bere
with outen the 3ates of the citee; by whom is vnder-
stonde dedely synne with outeforthe performed in
dede. And the thridde dede body he reised that was
la3ar / beried and four dayes dede; by home is
tokened dedly synne in customer. (166)

Love's adoption of this interpretation suggests that the

focus of this chapter will not be entirely on Jesus' actions

in raising the three dead bodies, for they are to be con-

sidered as spiritual rather than physical entities and their

resurrection has implications beyond the mere return to life.

Yet, it is no more precise to say that the focus will be on

sin, for specific examples of sinful acts are infrequent and

are not applied in any explicit way to the narratives at

hand. For instance, in characterizing sin in assent, Love

cites the injunction against lechery from Matthew 5:28.

What tyme as oure lorde seithe in the gospell /
that a man seeth a woman lustily to that ende fort
haue to doo with her fleschely and fully assenteth
therto in his will / thou3 the dede folowe not after /
he is counted as a lecchour in his herte / and so
is his soule slayne goostly thoru3 that assent and
deede in goddes si3t. (166-167)

Though this example is given in reference to the little

girl, it is clear that it refers to the nature of her sin

rather than its substance, and Love never indicates the

specific sins which she, the widow's son, or Lazarus are

guilty of. Instead of representing sin, these three re-

present souls in a state of sin. St. Augustine makes it

clear that he is less interested in these three persons

than in their availability to "significare et figurare de

resurrectionibus animarum quae, fiunt per fiden." Love

is also interested in their figurative significance, but

for him the resurrection is accomplished by Jesus "thoru3

his special grace" (166), as well as by faith. Love's em-

phasis throughout will be on the power of Jesus and his

grace to rescue these souls, and others, from a state of

sin. Thus, he points out that Jesus does not perform these

deeds "after his manhede" (166), but they are "myracles

done by vertue of the godhede" (166), and therefore men

should not attempt to imitate them. Rather, "we schulle

worschippe hym as all my3ty god in that parties; and more

ouer coueite forto vndirstonde the goostly menynge of

hem" (166).

In the ri-rrmarid'iIer f triL cnr pte r, Le'.'.c u.- e t ..:. method

t. -ho:' hi a od l -di ince hr:-. it ur-nj.: t :,,IJ n t [ p ir'l I tu.al 1 rrr:-n-

ine *:.f thiL : ever It *no t c. .':.rSriJi ; t, ; go.Jh ea'J L'*:*!' Cnn:n.

He gives the miracles meaning by placing them within the

structural and thematic framework suggested by St. Augus-

tine's tract, which maintains that they are examples of

the resurrection of the soul. In addition, the narrative

of each miracle is followed by a "spiritualis intellectus"

which applies this spiritual interpretation to each event

and relates its significance to the audience. These ex-

planatory passages are confined to general comments about

the first two miracles, but in the Lazarus episode they

are more detailed and occur throughout the narrative itself

as well as at the end. This much would have sufficed to

explain the "goostly meynynge" of the miracles, but to

answer the question of how the audience was to worship the

power of the godhead that is displayed through them, we

must look closely at Love's manipulation of details and

narrative structure. As usual, it is through the narrative

that Love instructs his audience by example and, in this

case, shows them how to worship the power of the godhead.

In St. Augustine's tract, the miracles and the persons

involved in them are abstract and depersonalized. In The

Mirror, however, there is a definite carnal appeal which

Love achieves through the use of selectively detailed nar-

ratives. For each miracle there is at least one gospel

version in addition to the account found in the Meditationes,

and Love's own rendering of these events is consistently

based on the fullest of these narratives and then embellished

with details from the other versions, along with comments

and explanations which are apparently of his own invention.

For example, the episode of the prince of the synagogue's

daughter, as it occurs in the Meditationes, is subordinated

to the account of the healing of Martha and receives

scarcely more than passing mention. The complete narrative

is as follows, and the ellipsis, which represents most of

the chapter, is the story of Martha. "Ad petitioned

cujusdem ex principalibus, ibat Dominus Jesus cum eo ad

sanandum filiam suam. . Tandem Dominus Jesus ivit ad

domum principis, et inventam filiam mortuam suscitavit."9

Love rejects this truncated narrative and bases his ren-

dering on Mark 5:22-43 and adds details from Matthew 9:18-26

and Luke 8:41-56. Following the narrative, which presents

the carnal aspect of the miracle, there is a "spiritualis

intellectus" which applies the spiritual interpretation to

the physical events for the benefit of the audience. The

episode of the raising of the widow's son is set up in

much the same way, with the narrative being a conflation of

chapter twenty-six of the Meditationes and the account

found in Luke 7:11-17, followed by an explanation of the

spiritual significance of the event. This process of com-

bination and recension results in a fuller rendering of the

events than is to be found in any single source and en-

hances the emphasis on Jesus acting "thoru3 his special

grace" by placing him at the center .:o the :Iti.on ci'tIely

working to perform the miracles. Such narratives are "more

pleyn" than those in the Meditationes because they are more

precise and concrete, and they appear calculated to get the

audience into what is taking place in the hope that their

initial carnal reverence for Jesus' raising of the bodies

from death will become a spiritual reverence for his power

to rescue souls from sin through grace. In fact, just be-

fore the Lazarus episode, which seems intended to be the

most important of the three, there is a special appeal to

the audience for this kind of involvement.

For also myche as in this process ben conteyned
many faire and grete notable things / therefore we
schulle here more specially gedere in cure entente /
and make vs by ymagynacioun as they we were present
in bodily conuersacioun. (170)

Thematically and structurally, the first two miracles

prepare the way for the raising of Lazarus, who not only

represents the most grievous kind of mortal sin, signified

by the four days he has been in the tomb, but who also will

present the most difficult test of Jesus' powers. However,

before he moves on to the narrative of Lazarus, Love inter-

polates a scene which, at first, appears to be no more than

an irrelevant digression.

But nowe as to oure principal purpose forto speke
of the reisynge of the thridde dede body / that is
to say la3are that is four dayes dede. . And
first / we schullen vndirstonden and haue in mynde
the process of the nexte chaptire before this. (170)

The chapter which Love refers to here is not the previous

chapter of The Mirror, but chapter sixty-five of the

Meditationes which immediately precedes "De resuscitation

Lazari." Here, Jesus flees the temple in Jerusalem, because

the Jews have threatened to stone him, and goes with his

disciples to a safe place across the Jordan, "to that place

where John Baptiste first baptised / about viij mile fro

Jerusalem" (171). Although Love gives no reason for this

apparent digression, there is ample justification for it.

While the stated goal of this chapter is to provide a

spiritual interpretation of the three miracles and to

lead the audience to worship Jesus for them, this brief

account of the events in the temple illustrates that Love

is still consciously relating a narrative which makes

certain demands of cohesiveness and continuity. As it

stands here, the scene in the temple provides a narrative

transition to the Lazarus episode and plot motivation for

several events which take place in it. It not only locates

Jesus and his disciples in the place from which they go to

Bethany, but also, by pointing out the treachery of the

Jews, explains why Mary and Martha, in sending word to

Jesus, say only: "lo lorde / he that thou louest / that is

la3ar / is sore sike" (171), and do not ask him to come to

them. The relationship between the two narratives is fur-

ther emphasized by Love's retention from the Meditationes of

two specific links to the temple scene early in the episode

of Lazarus. First, Mary and Martha must send word to Jesus,

"where he was in that forseide place by3onde Jordane" (171),

and second, they will not ask him to leave his sanctuary,

for they knowynge the malice of the Jewes a3enst hym
in to his deth / and how a litel before they wolde
haue stoned hym / they dorste not clepe hym to hem /
bot committed alle to his will. (171)

In The Mirror, this scene in the temple occupies the same

position relative to the Lazarus episode as it does in the

Meditationes. Had it been translated as "the nexte chaptire

before this" rather than where it is, immediately preceding

the raising of Lazarus, the narratives of the first two

miracles would intervene and obscure the transition and

plot motivation which depends upon the close temporal and

spatial relationship of the scene in the temple and the

beginning of the Lazarus episode. Thus, the scene in the

temple helps to regain the narrative thread, which would

otherwise be lost and, in doing so, provides a context for

the raising of Lazarus as an event in Christ's life, just

as the two miracles provide the thematic context for its

spiritual interpretation.

Love's rendering of the raising of Lazarus is similar

to his treatment of the first two miracles in that it is a

conflation of the accounts found in the Meditationes and

John 11:1-54, together with portions of St. Augustine's

tract and Love's own interpretations and explanations. In

addition to being followed by a "spiritualis intellectus"

which applies St. Augustine's interpretation to the events,

the narrative itself is frequently interrupted by explana-

tions which function to make the episode "more pleyn" to

the audience by drawing lessons from it which apply to

their daily lives. For example, when Jesus allows Lazarus

to die, rather than going immediately to Bethany to save

him, Love points out that Jesus often allows the faithful

to despair, "and after / whan his will is / he fulfilleth

her desire better than they wolde first / and torneth her

discomfort in to more comfort than they wolde haue ymagyned

or thou3t" (172). Once Lazarus is dead, Jesus must return

to Bethany to raise him, in spite of the threat posed by

the Jews, and he does this over the objections of his

disciples who say to him: masterr / ri3t now the Jewes

wolden haue stoned the there / and now wilt thou go thider

a3eyn?" (172). In answer to this, Jesus says: "be there

not xiJ hours of the day?" (172) and, following St. Augus-

tine, Love interprets this as a reproof of "hir mysbyleue /

and her vnrcsonable drede of his deth that was in his will;

and that they wolde 3eue counseile to hym as men to god"

(173). The disciples, and perhaps Love's audience as well,

have missed the point, which is that God is in the process

of giving counsel to nan. The purpose of this miracle is

not simply to raise Lazarus from death; it is a test of

faith, and at the same time a demonstration of Jesus'

power in order that faith may be increased. Thus, Jesus

says to them openly:

la3ar is deed / and I am glad for 3ow; that thereby
3oure byleue may ben encresed and strengthed / know-
ynge that I was not there in tyme of his deth; and
so the rather byleuynge that I am goddes sone. (173)

When Jesus and his disciples arrive in Bethany, they

are met only by Martha, while Mary remains at home. Love

explains Mary's absence, and at the same time reminds his

audience of an important distinction between the two sisters.

They act differently because there are "dyuerse condiciouns

that longen to hen that ben in this tweyne states / that

is to say of actyf and contemplatyf lyf" (174). This tra-

ditional distinction, which recalls the detailed examination

of these two manners of living in the previous chapter of

The Mirror, serves to remind Love's audience that there is

more than one way of life for a Christian. Thus, "it is no

dowte but that Marie loued Jesu als mykel as her sister

Martha / or more; and was also glad of his comynge; and

also sory was of hir brother deth and as feruently desired

his lyf" (174). Her failure to meet Jesus as he arrived in

no way reflects on her character; she is simply fulfilling

the condition that "they that ben in the state of contem-

platyf lyf schulle not taken vppon hem bodily exercise of

the dedes of mercy" (174), or engage in other activities

which properly belong to the active life, unless they are

called upon to do so by God. When she does appear, "cleped

forth by the biddynge of Jesu" (174), Mary and those who are

with her are weeping, and this causes Jesus to weep as

well. The explanation of his reaction begins to develop

the theme of this episode, the seriousness of habitual sin,

and attempts to involve the audience in the action. Love

says that Jesus weeps,

for there causes: first / for the loue that he hadde
to Marye special and to hir sister and to la3are:
also / to schewe the greuouste of synne in customer

and of the goostly deth there thoru3 that is tokened
in la3ar / four dayes dede and buried: and the
thridde / for the mysbyleue of hem that there were /
the which byleued that he my3t haue kept hym fro
deth / bot not that he my3te than reyse hym to lyue
a3eyne. (176)

As Love recapitulates this scene, he turns to the audience

and appeals to them to join it.

Who so wole than here ynwardely take hede and byholde
how oure lorde Jesu wepeth / the sistres wepen / the
Jewcs wepen / 3e and as resoun telleth the disciples
wepen / skilfully he may be stired to compassion
and wepynge / at the leste ynwardely in herte. (176)

This weeping, moreover, serves a function, for it is a

means of calling attention to "synne in customer / that is

so harde to ouercome and ryse oute of" (176), and contains

a lesson for the audience. In describing Jesus at this

point, Love notes "the grete difficult that he made as in

wepynge and in manere of trobelynge hym self / wrote and

grucchynge in spirit" (176), and tells his readers that

they should do likewise:

as seynt Austyne seithe / that thou that are ouer-
leyde with the heuy stone of dedly synne / be wrote
and grucche in thy spirit and turble thy self / in
this nanere demynge thy self guilty; and thenkynge
how ofte thou hast synned worthy euerelastynge deth /
and god of his endeles mercy hath spared the and
suffered the. (177)

This weeping and "grucchynge" in open acknowledgment of sin,

Love says, leads to self-examination and salvation because

it causes the sinner to ask himself:

in what manere schal I askape this grete synne and
dredeful perile of euerelastynge deth? Whan thou
seist thus in thy herte / than crist gruccheth in
the; for feith gruccheth / and 3if feith be in vs
than is crist in vs; and so in this manner of gruc-
chynge is hope of vprisynge. (177)

At this point in the narrative all that remains is to

accomplish Lazarus' resurrection, so the group which is now

assembled moves to the tomb and Jesus, after a short prayer,

cries "with a grete voyce: La3ar / come out of thy graue"

(178). But Lazarus does not emerge at once, for Love must

first explain why such a forceful cry was necessary.

A lorde Jesu / what nede was the to crye? Sothely /
as seynt Austyn seithe / to schewe in goostly vnder-
stondynge how harde it is to hym forto rise to lyf
of the soule that is ouerleide with the stone of
dedly synne in customer. (179)

The "crye," which is a physical act, has a spiritual sig-

nificance because its force is in direct proportion to the

seriousness of Lazarus' offense and reflects the difficulty

of resurrecting his soul which, spiritually, is a great

distance away. This explanation of the "crye" is in the

form of a prayer for those who are "ouerleide with this

heuy byrthene of wicked customer" (179); and Lazarus' sub-

sequent emergence from the tomb occurs in the midst of the

prayer, without fanfare.

A lorde Jesu / crie to alle these men with a grete
voys / that is to seie schewe thy grete my3t /'and
reise hem to lyf of grace / puttynge away that heuy
stone of wicked customer / as thou reisedest la3are;
for after thy cry and att thy biddynge he rose vp
and went oute of his graue. (179)

Lazarus' emergence from the tomb has perhaps more dramatic

potential than any other scene in this narrative, but Love

does not capitalize on it. Instead, he places it in a po-

sition where it is almost a casual remark, and this indi-

cates once again that the important subject here is faith

and the power of Jesus to rescue souls "thoru3 his special

grace" (166). When Love begins the "spiritualis intellectus"

which follows the narrative, asking: "bot what tokeneth all

this?" (180), he applies this lesson directly to his


Whan thou doost a grete synne by contempt / thou
ert goostly dede; and 3if thou contynuest customably
thereynne / then art thou dede and buried; and whan
thou forthinkest with inneforthe and shryuest the
and knowlechest thy synne with outeforth / than
reysest thou and goost out of thy graue. (180)

Love concludes this chapter with a review of "all

the process before seide of there deed bodyes raised by

oure lorde Jesu" (181) and summarizes the three miracles

and the type of sin involved in each. This summary begins

with St. Augustine's admonition that "all these forseide

things we haue herde / bretheren / to that ende that they

that lyuen goostly kepe hem in lyf of grace" (181) and

emphasizes the spiritual interpretation of the miracles

rather than the events themselves. This emphasis agrees

with Love's stated goals of explaining the meaning of the

miracles and encouraging the faithful to worship the power

of the godhead which is made manifest through them. Love's

focus on the spiritual at the end of the chapter also

indicates that he has not presented the narratives solely

for their own sakes, but that they are a literary strategy,

a "carnal" representation of the real topic of the chapter,

which is the redemption of the soul from mortal sin through

grace. This is not to say that the narratives are unimportant,

for without them there would be little more than an abstract

dis-cu: ,izn -of the .soul in a -tite cof sin, with no. wa' f

naking that di lOcu. li ,n cc rne'n-in Ible to "nr that rcrn cf

symiplc .inera tondyn.'r-" () Lowe's p :ur p e here iE no.t t.

discuss souls in i state cf -in, ,ut to ill istrate to his

audience "how thoo myracles done thanne bodily and in

bodyes ben now done ofte sithes goostly in mennis soules"

(166), and his method reflects both the dichotomy and the

relationship between the physical and the spiritual. The

narratives are representations of physical events, and by

presenting them in such a way that his audience can visu-

alize and become involved in these events, Love leads his

readers to an appreciation of their spiritual significance.


SNicholas Love, The Mirrour of the Blessed Lvf of Jesu
Christ, ed. L. F. Powell (Oxford, 1903T. All references to
this work in the text are to this edition.

2 Elizabeth Zeeman, "Continuity and Change in Middle
English Versions of the Meditationes Vitae Christi," Medium
Aevum, XXVI, I, 29.
3 These two chapters of The Mirror have been edited
from Cambridge University Library Manuscript Additional
6578 and included in the Appendix to the presented study.
Along with then are copies of the corresponding chapters
from the Meditationes. Since these texts form the body of
evidence upon which the ensuing comments in this chapter
are based, it night be well to read them before proceeding.
St. Augustine (bishop of Hippo), Tractate XLIX in
Joannis Evangeliun, cap. XI, in Migne, PL, 35, 1747.

5 Ibid., 1748.
6 Ibid., 1748.

7 Ibid., 1748.

8 Ibid., 1747.

9 St. Bonaventure pseudd.), M7editationes Vitae Christi,
in S. Bonaventurae Ooera Omnia, ed. A. C. Peltier (1874),
XII, 546.


To consider The Mirror solely in terms of its relation-

ship to the Meditationes, as has been done so far in this

study, is, in a sense, unrealistic. While such an approach

reveals the character of Love's work as a sophisticated

translation and recension of the Latin source, it still

leaves much unsaid, for The Mirror is an independent work

which has meaning and integrity without reference to its

source. It is, above all, an English work which was pre-

sented to the world and judged as such in its own time, and

its true context is therefore not the Meditationes but other

Middle English devotional works of the fourteenth and fif-

teenth centuries which portray all or part of the life of

Christ. A discussion of The Mirror in this context, focus-

ing upon its treatment of the Passion and comparing it with

four other Middle English versions of the Passion, should

reveal a dimension of Love's aesthetics which cannot be

examined by viewing his work only in relation to its source.

Such a discussion might begin by asking why, in 1410,

the need was felt for yet another vernacular rendering of

the life of Christ, for there were many and Chaucer comments

indirectly on them and their methods in the prologue to

"The Tale of Melibee."

It is a moral tale vertuous,
Al be it told somtyme in sondry wyse
Of sondry folk, as I shal yow devyse.
As thus: ye woot that every Evaungelist,
That telleth us the peyne of Jhesu Crist,
Ne seith nat alle thyng as his felawe dooth;
But nathelees hir sentence is al sooth,
And alle acorden as in hire sentence,
Al be their in hir tellyng difference.
For some of hem seyn moore, and some seyn lesse,
Whan they his pitous passioun expresse--
I neene of Mark, Mathew, Luc, and John--
But doutelees hir sentence is al oon.1

There is here a useful distinction between content and ap-

proach. The content of the Passion is relatively fixed,

though not so rigidly as might be imagined, by the accounts

found in the New Testament and the large body of apocryphal,

Patristic, and legendary material upon which a writer could

draw. There are, however, a variety of ways for a literary

artist to approach the Passion, and the way an author por-

trays it through his use of texture, structure, emphasis,

characterization, verisimilitude and other literary tech-

niques makes a statement about his own perception of the

Passion and the way in which he hopes to lead others to an

appreciation of it.

The Peysian Gospel Harmony, which is dated between

1350 and 1450, is a conflation of the canonical Gospels

into a single narrative which was apparently intended to

provide its audience with an account of the life of Christ

which would not function as a translation of the Bible as

well. For the most part, the narrative is uncomplicated

and sequential, "little . is omitted, little is added,

and the deviations from the text of the original are mostly

verbal and always in the direction of c-reat-r :.npliity.'

In spite of minor additions and on-i-i.:ri:, the text i rPe-

markably faithful to the Gospel accounts, even to the point

of reproducing much of their tone and atmosphere. As a

representative example, consider the scene in the garden

of Gethsemane as Judas arrives to betray Jesus.

And he tolde hem that his tretour was nei3 honde.
And with that cor Judas with an hepp of kny3ttes paens,
and with sergeaunt3, & with princes, & the Phariseus &
the masters hadden taken with hem men with armes and
with launces and with torches, forto taken Jesu, And
Judas hem badde that hij schulden taken hyn that he
kissed. And Jesus tho went a3eins hem, and asked hem
wham hij sou3tten. And hij ansuereden: "Jesu of Na3ar-
eth." And Jesus hem seide that it was hym self. And
hij tho wenten a3ein, and fellen adoun to the erthe.
And Jesus went hym eft sones to hem, and asked hem
wham hij sou3tten. And hij seiden: "Jesu of Na3areth."
And he side hem: "Ne tolde ich 3ou, that ich it was?
And 3if 3e secheth me, leteth the other gon quyt of
harme." Now was Judas with hem tho, and com to Jesu,
and gan hym kyssen. And Jesus hym seide: "Frende,
wharto artow comen me forto bitraye, Judas, with thi
kyssynge?" And tho com the constable, and the kny3ttes,
and the sergeaunt3 of the Jewes, and tooken Jesu and
heelden hym. And his deciples askeden hym 3if hij
schulden smyten with swerdes. And seint Petre drou3
his swerd, and smott a sergeant that was with the
bisschopp, that hi3th Malchus, his ri3th ere of. And
Jesus tho badde hem abide, and bad seint Petre that
he dude his swerde jn: for who so smott more with
sweerd, with sweerd schulde dye. "Ne leue 3e nou3th,"
he seide, "that ich my3th bidde my fader of help, and
he wolde sende me more than twelue legions of angels?
Bot it bihoueth that the scripture be fulfilled." And
tho touched Jesus the sergeaunt3 ere, and it was al
hole. And tho bounden the kni3ttes Jesu, and hise
deciples fledden alle away saue a 3onge man hym folow-
ed, ywounde onelich in a lynnen cloth. & the Jewes
hym gonnen to holden, and he lefte the cloth, & fledde
away al naked. And tho vpbraided Jesus hem that hij
weren ycomen with armes by ny3ttes tyme, for to taken
hym als thei3 he were a theef.4

A close comparison of this scene with the corresponding

passages in the four Gospels will show how little the author

deviates from his sources, but a more interesting comparison

is with the same scene in The Mirror, which immediately re-

veals that, though the two texts are relating the same event,

they do so with substantially different effects. The most

significant difference is that The Mirror, unlike the

Pepysian Harmony, is highly selective in the biblical de-

tails which it reproduces. For example, Love does not show

Judas telling the Jews that he will identify Jesus with a

kiss, nor does he portray the exchange between Jesus and

the Jews when Jesus "asked hem wham hij sou3tten"; in fact,

little is done with the captors at all except to note that

they are present. The scene begins as Jesus sees the cap-

tors approaching and says to his disciples: "loo, / he that

schal betrayed me is nyh at hande,"5 and at this point Judas,

alone, steps forward to deliver the kiss. Though such a

direct entry into the scene sacrifices a complete rendering

of the Gospel narratives, it has the compensatory effect of

narrowing the focus to Judas and Jesus, who at this point

are the only ones directly involved with the main action of

the scene: one man betraying another. The disciples and

the captors are present, but only in the background, and

this is consonant with their importance at this stage of the

scene, for neither group has any direct part in what is

taking place. In the Pepysian Harmony, where there is no

such process of selection and focus at work, each event and

character, or group of characters, receives emphasis ac-

cording to the space required to describe them rather than

according to their importance in the scene.

The sharper focus cf The Iirrcr r in thi 1cenre alloki

for a difference in tone as well, so that we not only see

the act of one man betraying another, but also perceive that

the act has an emotional content. Love brings to the scene

not just Jesus and Judas, but the relationship between them

as well, in order to suggest the treachery and deception

involved in what Judas does. In the Pepysian Harmony there

is only the slightest suggestion of this relationship when

Jesus says: "Frende, wharto artow comen me forto bitraye,

Judas, with thi kyssynge?"6 In The Mirror they are not

simply friends, but Judas is Jesus' disciple, "whos feete

he wesche a litel before of his soueraigne mekenesse / and

fedde hym with that precious mete of his owne precious

body thoru3 his vnspekable charite" (225). Thus, when Judas

is characterized as "a false traytour / the worste chapman

that euere was" (221), and when, after he has delivered "that

false feyned clippynge and traitoures cusse" (225), Love

addresses him as "oo verray traytour" (225), there is no

doubt about how the audience is to react toward him. Thus,

while the Pepysian Harmony presents this scene fully and

in detail, Love selects only a few of the events and then

interprets them in order to focus not only on the act of

one man betraying another, but on the enormity of that act

as well.

In the next part of this scene, the Pepysian Harmony

shows Peter cutting off Malchus' ear and Jesus healing it.

In what is apparently a further attempt to achieve a sharp

focus upon what he considers important, Love ignores this.

It is evidently not important to him that the disciples

attempt to protect Jesus, for once Judas has betrayed him

the capture is inevitable, and the significant interaction

at this point is between Jesus and his captors. In the

Pepysian Harmony we see only the action of the capture:
"And tho bounden the kni3ttes Jesu," but Love brings to

bear the attitudes and conduct of Jesus and the armed men

as they confront each other. He asks his audience to

"byholde how paciently he suffered hym self to be taken /

bownden / smy3ten / and wodely lad forth as though he were a

theof or a wicked doer" (225), and to watch "the helle

houndes drawyng hym as a beste to sacrifice / and hym as a

meke lombe with oute resistance folowynge" (225). Here the

emphasis is not so much on Jesus being bound as on the vivid

contrast between his patience and meekness and the crazed

behavior of the "helle houndes," and the juxtaposition of

his innocence with their treating him as a criminal.

Once Jesus has been taken, all that is left is to por-

tray the disciples' reaction, and rather than simply say

that they "fledden alle away," as the Pepysian Harmony does,

Love again concentrates upon the emotional content of the


Take hede how he hath ynward sorwe and compassion of
his disciples fleynge fro hym and errynge; and also
thou maist se here grete sorwe of hem / how as a3enst
hir will / by freelte of mannis drede / thay gone fro
hym / makynge greet mornynge and with hi3e sighynges
as faderles children / nou3t wetynge what to done. (225)

To present only the act fi ru[rning aw.ay stLi'ests that th e

disciples are abandoning Jesus, but Love indicates that

much more is involved and, far from castigating them, en-

courages compassion and understanding by imputing these

emotions to the very one they are running from. Also, we

are given to understand that this is not a despicable action,

but a perfectly human one and, deprived of the strength and

counsel of Jesus, the disciples are powerless to do other-


The apparent goal of the Pepysian Gospel Harmonv is to

instruct the laity in the events of the life of Christ and,

insofar as this can be achieved by a narrative which is

firmly based in the accounts of the four Gospels, it suc-

ceeds. The Mirror also instructs, for it presents essen-

tially the same narrative, but it does much more. It not

only describes events and the people involved in them, but

also provides its audience with attitudes toward them, and

in this sense it is an interpretation as well as a narrative.

Richard Rolle's "Meditations on the Passion"9 presents

a different approach to the Passion from those we have seen

so far, for it is not a harmony of the Gospels designed to

instruct the laity, nor is it an interpretive narrative like

The Mirror. In fact, it is a narrative of the Passion only

in the broadest sense and might be more accurately charac-

terized as a personal, devotional reaction to it which goes

beyond the events themselves by assuming a relationship

between the divine and the human and attempting to articulate

that relationship in terms of the Passion. Take, for ex-

ample, Rolle's portrayal of the Jews abusing Jesus after the


Swet Jhesu, I yeld the thankynge as I can of al
the evil hordes, sclaundres, scornynges, blasphemes,
mowes and shamys that the Jewes seid to the in al
tyme of thy precious passion, and of al the holdes
and prisons that thay helden the in when thou was
drawen and harre.d to Anne and Cayfas, now to Herode
and Pilate, and closed within har places. Now, swete
Jhesu, here I thank the and I beseche the graunt me
suffraunce and streynthe to stond stidfastly and
paciently to suffre words of despite and rebukynge
for thy love, and nevyr to gurch for tribulacion
and angyr or sekenesse of thy sond; and graunt me
grace, swet Jhesu, stidfastly to stond in al the
assaillynge and temptacions of my foos, bodily and
gostly. Pater. Ave.
Swet Jhesu, I thank the for al the stappis and
pacis that thou yede hiddreward [and thiddreward] in
the tyme of thy passion; and I beseche the graunt me
grace in al my wayes and gatys, that they be ordeyned
to thy worship and salvacion of my soule; and graunt
me grace wilfully to go to thy service, and spare for
no peyne ne penance; and mak me loth to meve, swet
Jhesu, to any lust ayayn thy will. Pater noster, &c.
Swete Jhesu, I yeld the thankynge for that dis-
pitous blyndfellynge that the Jewes did to the. And
here I pray the, swete Lord Jhesu, shild me fro blynd-
ynge of syn in custume, in long unshrift, in overhope
and overtrist to myself; and shild me fro perpetuel
blyndynge of dampnacion and excludynge fro the blisful
sy3t of thy glorious face. And let me clearly se into
the face of my conscience, and yeve me grace, swet
Jhesu, to kepe myn eyeghen fro al evyl syghtes that
eggen to synne; and graunt me to se thy blessed
presence endlesly. Pater noster, Ave, &c., ut supra.10

Rolle does not simply present a sequence of events, but

makes his meditation a prayer of thanksgiving for the suf-

fering to which Jesus willingly submitted because of his

love for mankind. The presence of the speaker as suppliant,

and the parallels which he draws between Jesus' situation

and his own, suggest that he is assuming a direct relationship

Lbetlin thl: .i.'in.e arnd the hunin atid that Jesua suLl redJ and

died for him personally:, witr the rteult that the e.venti ofz

the Passion have implications for him as an individual. The

focus is not upon the action, but upon the quality of Jesus'

conduct in the face of persecution and the benefits to the

speaker which arise as a result of that conduct. Rolle

senses that, just as Jesus faced his suffering with strength

and patience in an act of love, he too will need these

qualities to face "al the assaillynge and temptacions of my

foos, bodily and gostly," and prays for "streynthe to stond

stidfastly and paciently to suffre words of despite and

rebukynge for thy love." In thanking Jesus for his "stappis

and pacis" during the Passion, the speaker realizes that he

is also a walker in the world and that just as everything

Jesus did was for the love and salvation of man's soul, so

everything he himself does in the world should be "to thy

love and salvacion of my soule." When he envisions Jesus

blindfolded by his tormenters, Rolle is aware that he too can

be blinded by "syn in customer which can lead to the

"perpetuel blyndynge of dampnacion and excludynge fro the

blisful sy3t of thy glorious face." This blindness would

be infinitely more painful than a mere loss of sight, for

it would consign his soul to hell, severing the relationship

with the divine which Rolle has set up, and denying him the

oneness with Christ which he desires.

The Mirror presents neither a prayer nor a per-

sonal reaction in its portrayal of the Passion, but a

narrative account in which the speaker, or narrator, is far

less prominent than in Rolle's work. Though Love assumes a

relationship between the divine and the human, his concept

of the human is collective rather than individual, and he

attempts to give his collective audience an awareness of

Jesus' experiences by focusing clearly on what happens to

him in a nearly dramatic re-creation of the events.

And when he was bro3t before the princes of preostes
and the scribes and the aldermen that were than gadrede
abidynge his comynge / glad were they than; examynynge
hym and apposynge sotelly in meny questions / and pro-
curinge false witness a3enst hym / and spittynge on his
holi face / and hidynge his ei3en / thay buffetede hym /
skornyng and saienge: Prophecie now and telle vs who
smote the last. And so in meny maneres they vexede
hym and tormentede hym; and he in alle schewydde hi3e
patience: wherfore here we owe to haue inward com-
passioun of alle that he suffrede so for vs. (225-226)

The emphasis here is not upon the relationship between the

audience or the speaker and Jesus, but upon the feelings

and motives of those involved in the action. Thus, when

Jesus appears before his accusers, "glad were they than,"

and the whole event is colored by their acts in "procuringe

false witness a3enst hym / and spittynge on his holi face,"

indicating both their contempt for the law and their atti-

tudes toward Jesus' innocence or guilt. In fact, they do

not try him, but scorn, vex, and torment him, and these

words hardly seem calculated to do anything but portray his

accusers unfavorably. Through it all, Jesus remains aloof

and patient, giving a silent example of how men should con-

duct themselves in the face of tribulation, rather than ap-

pealing to specific modes of conduct as Rolle's account does.

In those passages of The Mirror lic, h pre i:enrt a ria: t conr t:.

the events that are taking place, the individual feelings

of the audience are directed to compassion for Jesus' suf-

fering and indignation at the affrontery of his persecutors.

Take now here good hede by inward meditacioun of alle
his paynes abidyngly; and but thou fynde thyn herte
melte in to sorwful compassion suppose fully and
halde that thou haste to harde a stonye herte .
0 lord Jesu / who was he so folle hardy that durste
despoille the? But who were they moche more hardy
that durste bynde the? But 3it who were they alther-
worst and most foole hardy that dorste so bitterly
bete the and skourge the? (230)

In spite of their different approaches to portraying

the Passion, both Love and Rolle see the contemplation of

it as a means of achieving oneness between the divine and

the human, and both choose the Crucifixion as the back-

ground for saying how this might take place. Love presents

a detailed, step-by-step narrative of the Crucifixion,

and when he stops to contemplate Jesus hanging dead upon

the cross he does so in terms of the effect such a scene

might have on an observer.

This is a pyteful si3t and a ioyful si3t; a pyteouse
si3t in hym for that harde passion that he suffrede
for oure sauacioun: but it is a likyng si3t to vs
for the matere and the effect that we haue therby
of oure redempcioun. Sothely this si3t of oure lorde
Jesu hangynge so on the crosse / by deuoute ymagin-
acioun of the soule is so deuoute to some creatures
that after long exercise of sorwefull compassion
thay felen some tyme so grete likynge / nou3t only
in soule but also in the body / that thay kan not
telle / and that no man may knowe but only he that
by experience feleth it; and than may he wel say with
the apostle: Michi autem absit cloriari nisi in cruce /
Betide me neuere forto be ioyful but in the crosse of
oure lorde Jesu. Amen. (244)

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