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Which is the fault of men, and may without slander of our Church, but rather with honour thereof, be reformed. God keep the Church from being troubled with greater things.
The opportunity was too tempting, and Norton1 addressed an eloquent letter, published by Henry Bynneman " To the Queene's Maiestes poore decey ved subiectes of the north countrey, drawen into rebellion by the Earles of Northumberland and Westmerland."2 They had " purified Durham Cathedral" by burning the versions of the Bible and the books of public devotion, and for this they are soundly rated: " Christians I cannot term you, that have defaced the communion of Christians, and, in destroying thebooke of Christes most holie testament, renounced your partes by his testament bequethed vnto you." This tirade did not suffice; and in 1570 Norton published, at John Daye's,1 his " Warning against the dangerous practices of the Papists, and specially the Partners of the late rebellion;" and in it he gave a curious but evidently exaggerated account of the diligence of the disaffected in spreading rumours and news.
The first has not been met with in print.4 The Psalms, with Norton's initial afterwards varied, versions by other hands appearing instead of Norton's. 132, has the initial M., and differs in some few words from Norton's version, in that Bible and in the recent edition of the Common Prayer, 1800, numbers 75 and 108 are Hopkins; and in the same edition of the Common Prayer, 101, 102, 105, 106, 109, 110, 111, 115, 116, 117, 118, 129, 131, 132, 135, 136, 138 to 145 inclusive, 147, 149 and 150, are the twenty-seven ascribed to Norton; but 109 is a different version from Norton's, and he did not write 111 or 132.
(1593) says, "How few may wage comparison with Reynolds, Stubbes, Mulcaster, Norton, Lambert, and the Lord Henry Howard? It is not improbable that, as his friend and recent patron, Sackville, had by a lavish expenditure become involved, and was travelling in Italy, and as Norton's religious opinions were very strong, not to say puritanical, he intended to devote himself to a religious life.
Thomas Norton, of Sharpenhoe, a manor and hamlet in the parish of Streatley,1 Bedfordshire, was a native of that county, and born in 1532.
2 Wood not inaptly calls him " a forward and busy Calvinist, and noted zealot;" but Strype incorrectly describes him as " a minister of good parts and learning," 3 conferring upon him the unattained degree of D. : a mistake into which the style and subjects of Norton's writings might well have led men more accurate than Strype.
When that prelate contemplated an answer to " An admonition to the parliament," Norton took it upon himself to address to him a long letter, dated 20th October, 1572,2 to dissuade him from the work—doubting whether it were not " best policy to let the matter die quietly ;" declaring that it was " good to contain controversies within schools, and not to carry them to Paul's Cross and elsewhere abroad ;" referring to the hurt which the division of the Lutherans and Zuinglians had done; and recommending the " Good Mr.
Doctor, before he went any further with the book, to confer with some grave, wise men, and especially such as have been rather beholders than actors in this tragedy." Whitgift combated his views, and the other side continuing to write, Norton changed his opinion.
At the Christmas of the same year, he had written, in conjunction with Thomas Sackville, the Tragedy of " Gorboduc." Norton had previously courted the Muses in some recommendatory verses prefixed to " Turner's Preservative," a tract against the Pelagians, dedicated to Hugh Latimer, and printed in 1551.*a second translation of 51; but the usual distinguishment was only the N., as prefixed to 75, 101, 102, 105, 106, 108, 109, 110, 115, 116, 117, 118, 129,1 131,2 135, 136,3 138 to 145 inclusive, 147, 149 and 150: in all twenty-eight."4 Of the want of poetical merit in Sternhold and Hopkins' Psalter, the baldness of expression, the bad construction of the metre, and the shifts and transposition of words to lengthen out a stanza and form a rhyme, only one opinion now prevails; and it is certain, says Warton,5 " that in Norton's Psalms we see none of those sublime strokes which Sir Philip Sydney discovered in that venerable drama," Gorboduc 6 But we have two better specimens of Norton's versification, preserved among the Cotton MSS.
; 7 the second has been already printed by Ellis in his specimens, 8 but with some errors. 1691 Marthas Vineyard, Dukes, Massachusetts, USA res.
David Whitehead (whom I name with honorable remembrance), did among other compare with the Latine, examining every sentence thorowout the whole booke." * * " Since which time I have not beene advertised by any man of any thing which they would require to be altered.
Neither had I myselfe, by reason of my profession, being otherwise occupied, leisure to peruse it; and that is the cause why not only at the second and third time, but also at this impression, you have Do change at all in the worke, but altogether as it was before." And he concludes by saying, " I confesse indeed it is not finely and pleasantly written, nor carrieth with it such delightfull grace of speech as some great, wise men have bestowed upon some foolisher things, yet it containeth sound truth, set forth with faithfull plainneness, without wrong done to the author's meaning."This book was by no means a light labour, yet it was not Norton's only literary effort at this time.
There is no trace of the school in which Norton was taught the rudiments of the Latin tongue, of which, at an early period of his life (although he had not then proceeded to either University), he was a complete master; but he very soon obtained the substantial patronage of the Protector Somerset : and was in such favour, that he is thought by Herbert* " to have been the state amanuensis." When only eighteen years of age his first work appeared : it was printed in October, 1550,5 and was a very well executed translation of Peter Martyr's letter to Somerset,6 rendered into English at the desire of Norton's patron.