Open main menu

Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 21.djvu/49

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

event (Dict. Theol. i. 111 b). He had his own opinions as to the form according to which sermons ought to be composed, and set it forth once in a discourse preached at St. Martin's in Carfax, Oxford (ib. i. 409 a). Still he expresses in strong terms his repentance for not having preached more frequently than he did (ib. i. 352 a), a self-reproach doubtless influenced by the public discouragement of the practice of preaching on the part of his old Oriel contemporary, Bishop Peacock, of whom he always writes in terms of severe condemnation. Not less significant of the consistent honesty with which he combated the prevailing abuses of pluralities, non-residence, and general neglect of their duties by the clergy of his day (instances may be found in plenty in his ‘Dictionary’), was his refusal of preferment or resignation of any benefice held by him, when he found its tenure incompatible with the due interests of the parishes concerned. The only benefice which he retained, his prebend at Wells, was of the small value of eight marks yearly (ib. ii. 517 a).

Gascoigne died 13 March 1457–8, according to the brass (now destroyed) upon his grave, having made his will on the previous day. The will, which was proved 27 March, is printed in the ‘Munimenta Academica Oxon.’ ii. 671 f. By it Gascoigne devised most of his books to the recently founded monastery of Sion in Middlesex. He had already presented many books to Balliol, Oriel, Lincoln, Durham, and All Souls' Colleges (see Coxe, Catal. index; Rogers, intr. vii). He was buried in the antechapel of New College, possibly through the interest of Bishop Beckington, a former fellow; but the burial there of a member of another college may fairly be taken as evidence of the singular respect in which he was held. The inscription on his brass is given by Wood (Colleges and Halls, p. 207). The Gascoigne coat of arms is described by Thoresby (ubi supra), Thomas's ‘difference’ by Wood (l. c.).

Gascoigne's principal work is his ‘Dictionarium Theologicum,’ written at various times between 1434 and 1457 and preserved in two stout volumes in the library of Lincoln College, Oxford (MSS. 117, 118). Its alternative title is ‘Veritates collectæ ex s. Scriptura et aliorum sanctorum scriptis in modum tabulæ alphabet.,’ and its contents are mainly of a theological or moral interest. But it includes also much of an autobiographical character, and throws great light upon the history and condition of the university of Oxford and the English church in the writer's day. Some extracts from the book have been printed by Mr. J. E. T. Rogers under the title of ‘Loci e Libro Veritatum’ (Oxford, 1881); but the selection by no means exhausts the interest of the work, and the edition unfortunately abounds in errors of transcription. References to the work are here given from the manuscript itself. Extracts from the ‘Dictionary’ occur in several manuscripts, e.g. in the British Museum in the Cottonian MS. Vitellius C. ix., and the Harleian MS. 6949; and portions of it are sometimes cited as distinct works, e.g. ‘Septem Flumina Babyloniæ,’ ‘Veritates ex Scripturis’ (Tanner, l. c.).

Gascoigne also wrote a brief life of St. Jerome, of which Leland saw a copy in the library of Oseney Abbey (Collect. iii. 56, p. 57, ed. Hearne). This is perhaps the same with the compilation bearing Gascoigne's name, and occupying four leaves of the manuscript in Magdalen College, Oxford (93, f. 199; Coxe, Catal. Magd. Coll. 51). He also translated into English a life of St. Bridget of Sweden for the edification of the sisters of Sion (Loci, p. 140). This is probably the life of St. Bridget which was printed without any author's name by Pynson in 1516, and has been re-edited by J. H. Blunt in his introduction to the ‘Myroure of our Ladye,’ pp. xlvii–lix (Early English Text Society, Extra Series, 1873). The ‘Myroure’ itself, a devotional treatise written for the use of the convent of Sion, is conjectured by the editor to be also the work of Gascoigne. It was printed by R. Fawkes in 1530, but of this edition only a few imperfect copies are known to exist. The lives of St. Bridget's daughter Katharine and of her confessor, which occur in the Digby MS. 172, ff. 25–53, have been assigned to Gascoigne (Tanner, l.c.) by an error, since the manuscript is expressly stated not to be his composition, though it contains some notes by him. Possibly these notes are identical with the ‘Annotata quædam de s. Brigitta et miraculis eius,’ of which a copy existed in the lost Cottonian manuscript Otho A. xiv. A volume in the Bodleian Library (Auct. D. 4. 5) contains a Latin psalter with notes by Gascoigne, and a Hebrew psalter (now bound separately and known as Bodl. Or. 621) has some glosses in his handwriting and his signature dated 1432. In the blank leaves at the end of the Latin psalter are several historical memoranda (ff. 99–107), one giving an account (unfortunately imperfect and not in his handwriting, but corrected with additions by him) of the condemnation and beheading of Archbishop Scrope, which is of the highest value, since it is probably the source from which the current narratives are derived. These memoranda are printed by Mr. Rogers (pp. 225–32). The following works are also