« PreviousContinue »
he compiled “ An Abridgement of the Chronicles of England;" of which there have been 'several impressions. Ames says, that he had seen five, printed by R. Tottyl--those of 1562, 1563, 1564, 1570, and 1572.
There appears to have been some pique between Grafton and John Stow, the historian of London, &c. originating probably in a spirit of rivalry: for Grafton, in the dedication of his editions of 1570 and 1572, affects to speak with contempt of the labours of his brother historian, whose Chronicle, he said, was composed of “ The memories of superstitious foundations, fables, and lies, foolishly STOWED together," &c. Stow, in the next edition of his Chronicle, retorted this censure upon Grafton; charging him with making Edward Hall's Chronicle, his own; and with falsifying Harding's Chronicle, in several instances, when he printed it in 1543. As we are naturally interested in the veracity of our early Chroniclers, it is proper that we should hear what Grafton has to say of himself in vindication. This vindication is contained in the epistle to the reader, in the edition of 1570.
Richard Grafton to the gentle reader.
I have (right loving reader) now once again turned over my first abridgement of Chronicles, and not only amended such things as I found amiss therein, but also have added thereunto many and divers good notes, as the diligent reader shall easily perceive. And my trust is, that as I am not desirous to offend any person, neither þy naming or misreporting of their doings; so I shall be favourably (without reproachful or malicious taunts and biting terms) allowed of, as my labours deserve. But yet, gentle reader, this one thing offendeth me so much, that I am enforced to purge myself thereof, and shew my simple and plain dealing therein. One John Stow
of whom I will say no evil, although he hath greatly provoked me thereunto, as by writing of an epistle against me, stuffed with ragged eloquence and uncourteous terms, descanting and defining my name, &c.--and now of late the same man hath published a book, which he nameth a summary of the Chronicles of England, (the untruths whereof I will not here detect) and therein hath charged me bitterly, but chiefly with two things. The one, that I have made Edward Hall's Chronicle my Chronicle, but not without mangling, and (as he saith) without any ingenuous and plain declaration thereof. The other thing that he chargeth me withal, is in praising of John Harding, one of his authors (who surely is worthy of great praise, and I wish he had followed in his book no worse author). He saith, that a Chronicle of Harding's which he hath, doth much differ from the Chronicle, which under the said Harding's name was printed by me, as though I had falsified Harding's Chronicle. For answer to the first, I have not made Hall's Chronicle my Chronicle, although the greatest part of the same was my own Chronicle, and written with mine own hand; and full little knoweth Stow of Hall's Chronicle: but this I say, I have not made Hall's Chronicle my Chronicle, neither have I used his Chronicle any otherwise than I have all Chronicles ; as where Hall spake plainly, there I suffer him to tell his own tale, and in the end, alledge him as my author, as I do all others, though not in every place, which were needless, yet in the chiefest places and matters of weight. And when I found him affected with many obscure words, there I alledged him in as plain terms as I could. And thus much I have had to do with Hall, and none otherwise. And here I note to all men, that I do reverence Hall in his work, he being now dead, as much as I did when he was alive, with whom I was of no small acquaintance; and I am as ready to
advance his praise and commendation, and readier (if I may say it without offence) than he that found fault with me. And Hall (as.ye know) wrote but of a few kings, and began where Froissard left; and so neither his Chronicle is mine, nor mine his. Now, as touching John Harding's Chronicle that Stow hath, which he saith doth much differ from that which was imprinted under his name by me, I grant it
And it may
may well be so; for I have, at this time, a Chronicle that beareth the name of John Harding, written in the Latin tongue
that I am sure John Stow never saw, and though he did, yet I doubt whether he understand it. well be, that one man may write at two times two books of one matter, and yet the one of them not to agree with the other, as Stow himself hath done, who in his later summary of Chronicles, differeth clean from his first, neither agreeing in matter nor years, and yet (as he saith) they are both Stow's Chronicles. And it may also be, that there were more John Hardings than one, and so all may stand well together, and no fault committed by me. Thus much for answer of the faults. And here to make any further declaration of the order of my book, it shall not need; for in the second page thereof are expressed the particulars of the same. And I have joined hereunto an exact table, for the ready finding of any matter herein contained;
most heartily praying the gentle reader, that where he shall find me to have committed any error, that there he will gently interpret me, or amend. the same, and so for this time I end. Farewell.
Notwithstanding this vindication of himself, the charge of Stow against him appears to be well founded. Nicholson observes: “A great borrower from this Hall was Richard Grafton, who (as Buchanan rightly observes) was a very heedless and unskilful writer; and yet
he has the honour done him to be sometimes quoted by Stow and others.” It may be added, that all our more modern compilers have occasionally resorted to him for authority.