DAME BARBARA CONSTABLE, O.S.B.,
AND THE UPHOLLAND JULIAN'S SHOWING OF LOVE (U) FRAGMENT
Dame Barbara Constable, O.S.B.
n the seventeenth century exiled English nuns were reading, copying out and contemplating upon fourteenth-century texts, one of these being Julian of Norwich's Showing of Love. Dame Barbara Constable, O.S.B., in particular, in her clearly legible hand, was responsible for the copying out of innumerable Augustine Baker manuscripts, - as they are called by English Benedictine monks. But many of these texts are less those of Father Augustine Baker, O.S.B.,'s writings, than they are of the writings of mystics which he encouraged the English Benedictine nuns to use in their own devotional writings, for their own libraries for contemplation. Dame Barbara Constable in these pages is copying out St Teresa of Avila, Henry Suso , Julian of Norwich (whom she calls 'St Iulian') and John Tauler . She herself never left Cambrai once she entered in 1638, yet her manuscripts made their way to Paris and also to the men's Benedictine abbeys and to the mission in England.
One reason for the great amount of copying done by Dame Barbara Constable and others at Cambrai was because of dissension amongst the English Benedictines, the nuns desiring to continue Father Augustine Baker's contemplative practices, for which he had obtained for them medieval manuscripts from Sir Robert Cotton during his time at Cambrai, 1624-1633, the monks wishing to suppress this activity and call in and censor these texts, first in 1633 and again in 1655. To prevent their loss the nuns, amidst great poverty, even established a daughter house in Paris, in 1651, taking to it duplicates of all their texts, hurriedly made out 1650-1651. Manuscripts of Julian's Showing of Love are mentioned twice in their catalogue, now in the Bibliothèque Mazarine, which was confiscated from the English nuns at the French Revolution. In 1655 the nuns defied the monks, going so far as to threaten to withdraw from the English Benedictine Congregation, rather than relinquish their books on spirituality, their most prized being Julian's Showings. The nuns in Paris had already in their Consitution itself, written out both in English by Dame Clementia Cary, O.S.B., in English, and in French by Dame Bridget More, O.S.B., stated that the community would continue in the contemplative practices taught them by the Venerable Augustine Baker, O.S.B. The English nuns in exile were preserving Julian of Norwich's Showing of Love three hundred years after it was written in Norwich and three hundred years before we ourselves - around the world - could hold her text in our hands.
Serenus Cressy, O.S.B., became the chaplain at the Paris daughter house for a brief period, having already strong associations with the Cary family. He published Augustine Baker's Sancta Sophia or Holy Wisdom , describing these devotional practices based on the Cloud Author's writings, William Flete's Remedies Against Temptations (thought to be by Richard Rolle) and Hilton's Scale of Perfection with its prayer of the pilgrim, 'I am nought, I have nought, I seek nought, but sweet Jesus in Jerusalem'. Cressy also published the writings of Dame Gertrude More, Dame Bridget More's sister, who had founded the Cambrai mother house. These two biological sisters were direct descendants of St Thomas More. Then in 1670 Cressy published the editio princeps, the first edition, of Julian of Norwich's Showings . That text was carefully transcribed in preparation for this publication in England by these English nuns in exile in France, and to do so they collated all their manuscripts of Julian, one of them a now lost medieval exemplar to the two Sloane versions of the Long Text, another a Tudor exemplar like that of Paris, copied out by them into Stowe 42. Thus these nuns had in their possession no less than seven manuscripts in total or in part of Julian's Showing of Love, five of which still exist, two at Cambrai being lost at the Revolution.
Following the French Revolution these English Benedictine nuns returned to England, bringing some of their fine library of medieval contemplative texts with them, while other manuscript books of theirs remain in France. But the Cambrai collection was largely lost, those English Benedictines having been imprisoned at Compiègne with the French Carmelites, the latter of whom were then guillotined , the English nuns inheriting their clothing. Cambrai's Our Lady of Consolation is today Stanbrook Abbey in Worcester, Paris' Our Lady of Good Hope is St Mary's Abbey, Colwich, Stafford.
Of interest is that Dame Margaret Gascoigne and Dame Barbara Constable both present Christ's words to Julian in larger letters, a trait seen also in Westminster in one instance, and throughout in Sloane 3709 . When Serenus Cressy took Stowe 42, which instead reduces these words both to differentiate them from the rest of the text, and to save paper, the printer elected to print them instead in italics. In the Paris Manuscript, which at this time was still in Rouen where the Brigittine nuns had left it in their flight in time of war to Lisbon, and to which the English Benedictines lacked all access, Christ's words to Julian are in red, rubricated, a practice familiar to the Brigittines who customarily wrote the Office books so for the next entrant into Syon Abbey following themselves.
Dame Barbara selected fine passages from Julian's Showing of Love, culling these from the Twelfth and Thirteenth Revelations and from Chapters 28, 30 and 32, then followed that selection with a discussion on the Way of Perfection as exemplified in the writings of the two Friends of God, Henry Suso and John Tauler , all of the fourteenth century.
When Hywel Wyn Owen examined the Upholland Manuscript he found it was bound in a piece of the same office book as another manuscript at Colwich, H18, which also contains a fragment from Julian's Showings. This other manuscript is where Dame Bridget More, O.S.B., descendant of St Thomas More, copied out the contemplative anthology written originally by Dame Margaret Gascoigne , O.S.B., who had died at Cambrai in 1637.
This Upholland Manuscript became separated from both
Abbeys and, according to the Julian scholar, Sister Benedicta
Ward, S.L.G, who sought information concerning it, is lost.
But Father Eric Colledge, O.S.A., had earlier given to
Stanbrook a bound photocopy of the entire text. Because the
foliation in the manuscript is incorrect, the verso being
written not on the back of the folio but on the subsequent
page, that given in Hywel Wyn Owen and Luke Bell's article,
'The Upholland Anthology: An Augustine Baker Manuscript', The
Downside Review (1989), 274-292, is also incorrect, so
when I requested Dame Easnwyth Edwards, O.S.B., to photocopy
for me the relevant Julian pages, two are lacking. I supply
them from Hywel Wyn Owen's transcription. The remainder is
taken directly from the photocopy of the Upholland Manuscript.
It also gives the two following pages, which are not Julian's
Showing of Love, but instead a discourse upon the way
of perfection, citing Suso and Tauler
THE UPHOLLAND MANUSCRIPT:
JULIAN OF NORWICH, SHOWING
The number of the words passeth my witts and vnderstanding, and all my mights, for they were in the highest, as to my sight;
for therein is comprehended I am not able to tell what, so that it cannot be expressed. But the ioy that I saw in the shewing of them exceedingly surpasseth all that hart can thinke, or soule may desire. And therefore these words (the meaning of them) be not declared heere; but euery one according to the grace god hath giuen him in vnderstanding and louing, let them receaue them in our lords meaning.
thought in my mind; I should haue forsaken
and not haue yealded vnto it; Yet neuer
thelesse it caused me to mourne and sorrow
without discretion. buşt Jesu who in this
vision enformed me of all thinges that were
needfull, answered by this word and sayd:
'Sinne is behouefull. But all shall be well.'
In this naked worde. Sinne. our lord brought
to my mind generally all that is not good.
compassion; That to each person şt he lo
ueth and intendeth to bring to his bliss
he layeth on him something, that is to say
some affliction or tribulation, şt is no impe
diment to şe soule in şe sight of God,
therby they be humbled and despised in this
world, scorned, mocked, and contemned by others
And this he doth to hinder and preuent şe
harme wch they are apt to fall into, and
would incurre by şe pride şe pompe and şe
vaine glory of this wretched life, and for
to make their way the more readdy, and
better prepare them to come to heauen,
and enioy his blisse without end euerlasting
for he sayth, I shall all to breake you
from your vaine affections, and your vitius
pride; and after şt I shall gather you
and make you meeke and mild, cleane and
holy by uniting you to mee. And then I
saw that each kind compassion şt man hath
one his euen Christian wth charity, it is
christ in him, whose loue to man made
him to esteeme little of all şe paines he
suffered in his passion, wch loue againe
was shewed heere in this compassion, wherin
were two thinges to be understood in our
lords meaning, şe on was şe blisse that we be
brought vnto, wherin his will is şt we reioyce
şe other is, for our comfort in our paine and
tribulation: for he will that wee know şt
all shall turne to his worship and to our
profit by şe vertue of his holy passion: and
that we know şt wee suffered right no
thing alone, but with him, and şt we see
him our ground. And that we see his
paines and his tribulations so farre to ex
ceed and surpasse all şt we can suffer,
that it cannot be fully thought or imagined.
And şe well beholding and considering of
this will keepe vs from ouermuch trouble
and despaire in şe feeling of our paines,
and we see verely şt our sinnes deserue
it, yet his loue excuseth vs, and of his
great curtesy he doth away all our blames
and beholdeth vs with ruth and
merveilous pitty as children Innocents
we deserue of him, and şe more speedy
and expedient it is to our selues. And thus we
may see and enioy or reioyce in that our
part is our Lord. The other part is
hid and shutt up, or concealed from vs.
şt is to say, all şt is besides our salluation
for that is our lords priuy counsell and
it belongeth to şe Royall Lordship of allmighty
god to haue his priuy counsels in peace.
And it belongeth to his seruants for obe
dience and reuerence to him, not to haue
or will or desire to know his counsels, Our
lord hath pitty and compassion on vs, for
that some creatures do busy themselues
so much therein (seeking and desiring to
know and vnderstand şe secrets of allmighty
god.) And I am sure if we know how
much we should please him and ease
our selues to forbear it we would do it.
The saints in heaven, thay haue a will
to know nothing, but şt which our lord
will shew them. And also their charity
and desire is ruled according to şe will
of our lord. And thus ought we to
haue our will like to them; Then shall
we nothing will nor desire, but şe will
of our lord like as they do. for we bee
all one in gods meaning. And heer I was
taught şt I should only enioy in our Blessed
Sauiour Jesu, and trust in him for all thinges.
impossible şt euer they should come to a
good end. And vpon these wee looke sorrow
full and mourne therfore, so şt it cannot rest
in şe blessedfull holding of God as we should
doe. And şe cause is this, that şe vse of our
reason and vnderstanding is now so blind &
Lowe that we cannot know nor vnderstand
the high mervailous wisedome, and şe good
nes of the most blessed Trinity. And thus
meaneth he where he sayth Thou
shalt see thy selfe şt all manner
of thing shall be well,' as if he had
sayd take or beleeue faithfully and trust
fully and hearafter thou shalt see it
verely and truely in fullnes of ioy.
And thus in şe same fiue words before
sayd: 'I may make all thinges well
I vnderstood a mighty comfort (şt wee
owght to take) of all şe workes of
our Lord god, that are to come
[The text following that giving excerpts from Julian of Norwich's Showing of Love appears to be a contemplation by Dame Barbara Constable, O.S.B., or from another Benedictine, and copied out by her, concerning the way of perfection as described in the conversions of the Friends of God Henry Suso and John Tauler.]
O how exceedingly are we bound to god
for discouering vnto vs this way so ne
cessary, and whereof there is so few
teachers, considering also how many soules
he leaueth in want thereof, and who
if they knew şe way, would ioyfully pro
secute it: O swee Iesus. blessed for e
uer be thy sweet mercyes; O how vn
gratefull shall wee proue if wee doe
not make good vse of this great blessing
of thyne and why should we doubt
of thy assistance in prosecution of
our way since that our good god
of his loue to us and out of his
desire of our saluation and per
fection hath extraordinarily made
knowne vnto us şe way, so will
he not be wanting in his grace
that we may bring all to a per
fect end which he intended in his
discovuery vnto vs of the way
we hauing şe way discouered vnto vs
if we should neglect to tread and
prosecute it with perseuerance it
had bin far better for us that we
had neuer knowne it for (sayth
our sauiour) şe servant that know
eth the will of his master and doth
it not shall be beaten with many
To come to know şe way how to
serue god in şe way of perfection
there is no meane but şt it must
come from god, and şt by one of
these two meanes either immediately
from god as was şe conuersion and in
structions of Suso and many others
or from him by şe meanes of some
man as was şe conuersion of Thaulerus
and şe like hath bin of many others.
And here Theleurus though he had
his conuersion and some instruction
at şe first from şe Lay man, yet
afterwards in his spirituall course
he was doutles guided by şe spirit
of god (şe lay man not liuing wth him
Baker, Augustine, Holy Wisdom: Or Directions for the Prayer of Contemplation. Ed. Serenus Cressy. Wheathamstead: Anthony Clarke, 1972.
The Benedictines of Stanbrook. In a Great Tradition: Tribute to Dame Laurentia McLachlan, Abbess of Stanbrook . London: John Murray, 1956.
Heywood, Dame Cecilia, O.S.B. 'Records of the Abbey of Our Lady of Consolation at Cambrai, 1620-1793', ed. Joseph Gillow. Catholic Record Society 13 (1913).
Jebb, Dom Philip. 'A Hitherto Unnoticed Autograph Manuscript of the Venerable Augustine Baker'. The Downside Review (1986), 25-40.
Julian of Norwich. Revelations of Divine Love. Ed. Serenus F. Cressy [actually the English Benedictine nuns of Cambrai and Paris]. 1670.
Newkirk, Terrye, OCDS, 'The Mantle of
Elijah: The Martyre of Compiègne as Prophets of Modern Age', The
Teresian Carmel-ICS Publications.
Owen, Hywel Wyn and Luke Bell, O.S.B. 'The Upholland Anthology: An Augustine Baker Manuscript'. The Downside Review 107:369 (1989), 274-92.
Spearitt, Placid, O.S.B. 'The Survival of
Mediaeval Spirituality Among the Exiled English Black Monks'. The
American Benedictine Reivew 25 (1974), 287-312.
Since the writing of this essay the
Anglican priest, Revd Dr John Clark, has been editing all of Dom
Augustine Baker, O.S.B.'s writings, and these are published by
Professor James Hogg in his University of Salzburg Analecta
Carthusiana series. Their titles may be retrieved at http://www.florin.ms/libbeth.html:
Augustine Baker OSB. Alphabet and Order. Ed. John Clark. Institut für Anglistik und Amerikanistik, Universität Salzburg, 2001. James Hogg, Salzburg, 2006.
Fr Augustine Baker OSB. Holy Wisdom or Direction for the Prayer of Contemplation. Introduction Dom Gerard Sitwell OSB. Wheathampstead: Anthony Clarke Books, 1972.
Fr. Augustine Baker OSB. St Benedict's Rule. Ed. John Clark. Analecta Cartusiana 119.24, ed. James Hogg. Salzburg: Institut für Anglistik und Amerikanistik Universität Salzburg, 2005. 3 vols. James Hogg, Salzburg, 2006.
Fr. Augustine Baker OSB. Collections I-III and The Twelve Mortifications of Harphius. Ed. John Clark. Analecta Cartusiana 119.21, ed. James Hogg. Salzburg: Institut für Anglistik und Amerikanistik Universität Salzburg, 2004. James Hogg, Salzburg, 2006.
Fr. Augustine Baker OSB. Directions for Contemplation. Book D. Ed. John Clark. Analecta Cartusiana 119.11, ed. James Hogg. Salzburg: Institut für Anglistik und Amerikanistik Universität Salzburg, 1999. James Hogg, Salzburg, 2006.
Fr. Augustine Baker OSB. Directions for Contemplation. Book F. Ed. John Clark. Analecta Cartusiana 119.12, ed. James Hogg. Salzburg: Institut für Anglistik und Amerikanistik Universität Salzburg, 1999. James Hogg, Salzburg, 2006.
Fr. Augustine Baker OSB. Directions for Contemplation. Book G. Ed. John Clark. Analecta Cartusiana 119.13, ed. James Hogg. Salzburg: Institut für Anglistik und Amerikanistik Universität Salzburg, 2000. James Hogg, Salzburg, 2006.
Fr. Augustine Baker OSB. Directions for Contemplation. Book H. Ed. John Clark. Analecta Cartusiana 119.14, ed. James Hogg. Salzburg: Institut für Anglistik und Amerikanistik Universität Salzburg, 2000. James Hogg, Salzburg, 2006.
Fr. Augustine Baker OSB. Discretion. Ed. John Clark. Analecta Cartusiana 119.9, ed. James Hogg. Salzburg: Institut für Anglistik und Amerikanistik Universität Salzburg, 1999.
Fr. Augustine Baker OSB. Doubts and Calls. Ed. John Clark. Analecta Cartusiana 119.102, ed. James Hogg. Salzburg: Institut für Anglistik und Amerikanistik Universität Salzburg, 1998. James Hogg, Salzburg, 2006.
Fr. Augustine Baker OSB. A Secure Stay in all Temptations. Ed. John Clark. Analecta Cartusiana 119.8, ed. James Hogg. Salzburg: Institut für Anglistik und Amerikanistik Universität Salzburg, 1999. James Hogg, Salzburg, 2006.
Fr. Augustine Baker OSB. Secretum. Introduction and Notes, John Clark. Analecta Cartusiana 119.20, ed. James Hogg. Salzburg: Institut für Anglistik und Amerikanistik Universität Salzburg, 2003. James Hogg, Salzburg, 2006.
Fr. Augustine Baker OSB. Secretum. Ed. John Clark. Analecta Cartusiana 119.7, ed. James Hogg. Salzburg: Institut für Anglistik und Amerikanistik Universität Salzburg, 1997. James Hogg, Salzburg, 2006.
Fr. Augustine Baker OSB. A Spiritual Treatise . . . Called A.B.C. Ed. John Clark. Analecta Cartusiana 119.17, ed. James Hogg. Salzburg: Institut für Anglistik und Amerikanistik Universität Salzburg, 2001. James Hogg, Salzburg, 2006.
Fr. Augustine Baker OSB. Vox Clamantis in Deserto Animae. Ed. John Clark. Analecta Cartusiana 119.22, ed. James Hogg. Salzburg: Institut für Anglistik und Amerikanistik Universität Salzburg, 2004. James Hogg, Salzburg, 2006.
That Mysterious Man: Essays on Augustine Baker OSB 1575-1641. Ed. Michael Woodward. Introduced Rowan Williams. Analecta Cartusiana 119.15, ed. James Hogg. Salzburgu: Institut für Anglistik und Amerikanistik Universität Salzburg, 2001. James Hogg, Salzburg, 2006.
The portrait of Dame Barbara Constable, scribe of the Upholland Julian Fragment, is from the Catholic Record Society 13 (1913).
MARGARET GASCOIGNE, DAME BRIDGET MORE
BARBARA CONSTABLE, UPHOLLAND MANUSCRIPT
MAZARINE 1202, I AND III
SPIRITUAL LETTERS OF ARCHBISHOP FÉNELON TO MADAME GUYON, MAZARINE 1202, IIA
SPIRITUAL LETTERS OF ARCHBISHOP FÉNELON TO MADAME GUYON, MAZARINE 1202, IIB
MORE'S DEFENSE OF FATHER AUGUSTINE'S WAY OF PRAYER,
'COLECTIUONS, MAZARINE 1202
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