For himself, he had no ideas beyond a general intention to reach Barham some time in the autumn, before Jack went back to Cambridge for his fourth year. "The country is not prepossessing about here," observed the Major presently; "Hampole is an exception." Frank glanced back at the valley they were leaving.
"You, too, an old man who should be an example to others." The wayfarers all gazed in the utmost astonishment at the interruption. "By the holy Dicon of Hampole! our silent clerk has found his tongue," said one of the woodmen. "What is amiss with the song then? How has it offended your babyship?" "A milder and better mannered song hath never been heard within these walls," cried another.
Richard Rolle, the hermit of Hampole, whose Prick of Conscience and vernacular paraphrases of the Bible illustrate the older didactic literature, was carried off in his Yorkshire cell in the year of the Black Death.
Richard Rolle of Hampole is the earliest in time of our famous English Mystics. Born in or about 1300, he died in 1349, seven years after Mother Julian of Norwich was born. Walter Hilton died in 1392. An exhaustive account of Rolle's life is given in Vol. ii. of Professor Horstman's Edition of his works, a book unfortunately out of print.
By sainted Dick of Hampole! it will be a strange thing if I cannot outshoot that thing of thine, which to my eyes is more like a rat-trap than a bow. Will you try another flight, or do you stand by your last?" "Five hundred and eight paces will serve my turn," answered the Brabanter, looking askance at this new opponent. "Tut, John," whispered Aylward, "you never were a marksman.
I wonder that they have not wit to learn English now that they have come under the English crown. By Richard of Hampole! there are fair faces amongst them. See the wench with the brown whimple! Out on you, Alleyne, that you would rather gaze upon dead stone than on living flesh!"
The sentiment, or its equivalent in Ball's famous distich, was not new; it was employed for mystical purposes in Richard Rolle's "When Adam delf and Eue span, spir, if thou wil spede, Whare was then the pride of man, that now merres his mede?" Library of Early English Writers. Richard Rolle of Hampole and his followers, ed. Horstman, i., 73 . Cal. Papal Registers, Letters, iii., 565.
It is consoling to know that Rolle's last years were passed in peace, in a cell, near a monastery of Cistercian nuns at Hampole, where the nuns supported him, while he acted as their spiritual adviser. In the book mentioned above, Fr. Hugh Benson has translated some of Richard Rolle's Poems, and certain devotional Meditations.
So much, then, is all that I can say of the small, detached experiences that he passed through, up to the point when he came out one evening at sunset from one of the fields of Hampole where he had made hay all day, when his job was finished, and where he met, for the first time, the Major and Gertie Trustcott.
"That is from some verses of Dan John Lydgate, I think," said Mistress Margaret. "Here is another," said Mary in a moment or two. "Jesu, at thy will, I pray that I may be, All my heart fulfil with perfect love to thee: That I have done ill, Jesu forgive thou me: And suffer me never to spill, Jesu for thy pity." "The nuns of Hampole gave me that," said Mistress Margaret.