BEINECKE RARE BOOK AND MANUSCRIPT LIBRARY
GENERAL COLLECTION OF RARE BOOKS AND
Beinecke MS 660
England, s. XVmed
John Lydgate, Life of Our Lady; The Privity of the Passion
1. ff. 1r-76v // Which floure preserveth man frome dethe / Unto the vertue, who so liste take
hede ... To thy servanntys shelde and socoure be, / To kepe and save hem from adversite. Amen.
/ Thus endeth the purificacion of Oure Lady. / To trewe Cristen men she is mene for mercy.
John Lydgate (c. 1370-c. 1451), Life of Our Lady. J.A. Lauritis, R.A. Klinefelter and V.F.
Gallagher, eds. (Pittsburg, Louvain, 1961), pp. 247-669. The beginning is missing (Book I, verses
2. ff. 77r-91r Iste liber primo fuit compositus in Latino sermone per quendam fratrem Minorem
cardinalem, nobilem doctorem, Bonaventuram nomine. Postea translatus est in lignam
Anglicanam pro minoribus Latinum non intelligentibus per quendam canonicum, Walterum
Hilton nomine, in amore Dei valde devotum professorem in theologia. Prologus. [W]ho so desires
for to fynde comforte and gostly gladnes in the passion and in the cros of Oure Lorde Jhesu
Criste, hym nedeth with a besy thought to dwell theryn and all other besynes forgeten and sett at
nought ... [f. 77v, text:] Of the takyng of Oure Lorde Jhesu Criste and howe he praied to his
fader of heven. [B]egynne nowe thi meditacion at the begynnyng of Cristes passion and pursewe
yt fervently unto the laste ende, of the which I shall touchen unto the a litel as me thinketh ...
and inwardly joy, which he hath ordeyned for all tho that hertely loven hym, which joy and
comfort he graunt us that with his precious blode bought us, Ihesus Christus, qui cum Patre etc.
The Privity of the Passion, an anonymous English translation, here attributed to Walter Hilton (d.
1396), of part of Ps.-Bonaventura, Meditationes vitae Christi, ed. after the Thornton manuscript
(Lincoln Cathedral, MS 91) by C. Horstmann, Yorkshire Writers: Richard Rolle of Hampole, an
English Father of the Church, and his Followers. Library of English Writers, v. 1 (London, New
York, 1895), pp. 198-218. The text missing in the Thornton manuscript is printed after our
manuscript by Arn, pp. 179-181. The quire missing in our manuscript between ff. 79 and 80
corresponds to Horstmann pp. 201-209; the leaf missing between ff. 87 and 88 corresponds
approximately to Horstmann p. 215.
Parchment, ff. IV (paper) + 91 + II (paper), 205 x 145 mm. Low quality parchment, with holes
and irregular edges. The upper outer corner of f. 79 is torn away with loss of text. A full quire is
missing after f. 79 (quire X bis), and a leaf after f. 87.
I 8 (-1; ff. 1-7), II-XI 8 (ff. 8-87), XII 6 (- 1, - 6; ff. 88-91). Horizontal catchwords far right.
Occasionally signatures appear: "g1" f. 48r, "g3" f. 50r (quire VII), "i3" f. 66r (quire IX); traces
of signatures are also seen on f. 73r (quire X).
Simple frame-ruling in brown crayon for one column, based on pricks in upper, lower and outer
margins, c. 160 x c. 91 mm. (art. 1), c. 160 x c. 100 mm. (art. 2). In art. 1 (verses) there is no
vertical bounding-line at right. There are c. 32-43 lines for verse per page, 33-36 lines for prose.
Probably copied by one scribe, writing Gothica Cursiva Libraria (Secretary). The headings in art.
2 are in a larger form of the same script, more close to Anglicana.
In art. 2 the scribe left space for 2-line initials (a 3-line initial at the opening) and generally wrote
guide-letters, but initials were never added and all other forms of decoration are missing.
Binding s. XX: glossy brown leather over pasteboard, both covers framed with blind-tooled
fillets; spine with four raised bands; in the second compartment the gold-tooled inscription
"LYDGATE - LIFE OF OUR LADY"; at the bottom: "C. 1450". Sprinkled edges.
A few English annotations in s. XV/XVI hands. In the lower margin of f. 48v is written upside-
down "William Sende" and in the same hand "Thomas". On f. 91v, equally upside-down:
"Robert Prestone bok" (these three names s. XV/XVI). On the front pastedown the armorial
bookplate of "Sr. William Dudley of Clapton in the County of Northampton Baronet 1704" with
the motto "Galea spes salutis". William Dudley (1696-1764) did not become baronet until 1721.
As Arn (p. 184) has shown, this is the bookplate of his father Mathew, with the first name (but
not the date) altered. A long note in English in s. XVIII handwriting on ff. IIIr-IVr discusses the
content and the author and translator of art. 2. Another hand (s. XVIII/XIX) wrote an addition
to this on f. IVr. In the nineteenth century in the possession of the Marquis of Bute. Sotheby sale
of the manuscripts in the Bute Collection, 13 June 1983, ... 42-43. Acquired by H.P. Kraus, New
York. Presented to the Beinecke Library by Mr. and Mrs. H.P. Kraus, 1985.
M.-J. Arn, "The Bute Manuscript of The Privity of the Passion (Yale University, Beinecke MS
660)", Manuscripta, 34 (1990), pp. 177-189.
Shailor, The Medieval Book, 85.
coll. R 02.06.08