Dante, who struck the Papacy as hard blows as Wicliff; Wicliff himself and Luther himself, when they began their work; were far enough from any intention of meddling with even the most irrational of the dogmas of mediæval Supernaturalism. From Wicliff to Socinus, or even to Münzer, Rothmann, and John of Leyden, I fail to find a trace of any desire to set reason free.
"Pardieu!" said the knight, "this David Micheldene must be one of those Lollards about whom Father Christopher of the priory had so much to say. Yet he seemed to be no bad man from what I have seen of him." "I have heard that Wicliff hath many followers in Norwich," answered Alleyne. "By St. Paul! I have no great love for them," quoth Sir Nigel.
John Wicliff proposed a solution of the problem which, in the course of the following two hundred years, acquired wide popularity and vast historical importance: Lollards, Hussites, Lutherans, Calvinists, Zwinglians, Socinians, and Anabaptists, whatever their disagreements, concurred in the proposal to reduce the Supernaturalism of Christianity within the limits sanctioned by the Scriptures.
At Oxford he had, with Wicliff, opposed the friars, though he afterwards turned against his former ally. *John Gilbert*, A.D. 1375-1389, with partial success, went to make terms of peace with Charles VI., the French King. He became treasurer of England in 1386, an office of which he was deprived by Richard II. not long before his translation to St. David’s.
And when you are discontented with the great, and murmur, repiningly, of Marvel in his garret, or Milton in his hiding-place, turn in justice to the Good among the great. Read how John of Lancaster loved Chaucer and sheltered Wicliff. There have been Burkes as well as Walpoles. Russell remembered Banim's widow, and Peel forgot not Haydn.
"Foul bird! we found thee by the gallows like a carrion-crow. A fine life thou hast of it with thy silks and thy baubles, cozening the last few shillings from the pouches of dying men. A fig for thy curse! Bide here, if you will take my rede, for we will make England too hot for such as you, when Master Wicliff has the ordering of it.
It certainly spread with remarkable celerity; for in 1546 it became necessary to command all persons possessing them to deliver to the bishop, or sheriff, to be openly burnt, all works in English purporting to be written by Frith, Tyndale, Wicliff, Joye, Basil, Bale, Barnes, Coverdale, Turner, or Tracy.
The free-thinking philosophes, who objected to Rousseau's sentimental religiosity almost as much as they did to L'Infâme, were credited with the responsibility for all the evil deeds of Rousseau's Jacobin disciples, with about as much justification as Wicliff was held responsible for the Peasants' revolt, or Luther for the Bauern-krieg.