THE PROVERBS OF A KNIGHT AND MARTYR from the Margins of a Book of Hours belonging to Blessed Adrian Fortescue

Dear Hieronymopolis,

I am an Italian Researcher, I am interested in the figure of Blessed Adrian Fortescue because I am studying the martyrs of the The Order of Malta. I have read in your home page a maxime written by him. Where can I find the whole text “the book of Hours”? Have you got other maximes written by Adrian Fortescue?

Thank You

Loredana Pellegrino

Ms. Pellegrino is referring to an abridged quotation in the sidebar of this website which was taken from Eamon Duffey’s Marking the Hours: English people and their prayers 1240-1570. Realizing that the quote was incomplete we sought out the text in it’s entirety. We found it and more in the Lives of the English martyrs, declared, blessed by Pope Leo XIII in 1886 and 1895 written by the Fathers of the Oratory, of the Secular Clergy and of the Society of Jesus, Completed and Edited by Dom Bede Camm, O.S.B. of Erdington Abbey.

Besides the wonderful Religious proverbs found in the Saint’s Book of Hours appended to the end of this post, there is also another book : A very interesting relic now in the Bodleian library :

“The whole book is in Sir Adrian’s handwriting, as he himself notes in it twice over, with the date, 1532. This was the year of his second marriage, and his wife has written her name on it, together with the name of her second husband, “Parry,” showing that she retained possession of it after his execution. It passed into the hands of Sir Kenelm Digby, whose name is also written upon it. Sir Adrian has written these interesting words on the first page :

Jesus. Jesus.
Iste liber pertinet Adriano Fortescu militi, sua manu
propria scriptus anno Dni. 1532, et anno R[egni]
R [egis] Henr. VIII. xxiiij
Loyall Pensee.
Injuriarum remedium Oblivio.
Omnium rerum vicissitudo.
Garde les portes de ta bouche,
Pour fouyr peryl et reproche.

“The volume consists of the treatise On Absolute and Limited Monarchy, by his great-uncle, Chancellor Fortescue, preceded by a large part of the old poem of Piers Plowman, and at the end there is an ample collection of proverbs, from which we here make a selection.”

A king sekant [seeking] treason shall find it in his land.
When the fault is in the head, the member is oft sick.
Many [a] one glosses the law, oft against the poor.
He, that ruleth well his tongue, is held for wise.
Money gotten at the dice enricheth not the heir.
A woman, if she be fair, may hap to be good.
It is easy to cry Yule at another man’s cost.
He shall hunger in frost that in heat will not work.
Eat and drink by measure, and defy thy leech.
Men of muckle speech must sometimes lie.
A man may be of good kin, and himself little worth.
Thou must trow [trust] some man, or have an ill life.
He that toucheth pitch and tar cannot long be clean.
A wound when it is green is best to be healed.
Unkindness by-past would be forgot.
For little more or less make no debate.
He that covets all is able all to tyne [lose].
About thine and mine riseth muckle strife.
He hath a blessed life that holds him content.
He that wots [knows] when he is full, is no fool.
Put many to school, all will not be clerks.
There is not so little a flea but sometime he will nye [annoy].
At every dog that barks one ought not to be annoyed.
He that is well loved, he is not poor.
A good tale, ill told, is spoilt in the telling.
He that wots when to leap will sometimes look aback.
Wherefore serves the lock, and the thief in the house ?
It makes a wanton mouse, an unhardy cat.
A swine that is over fat is cause of his own death.
Obey well the good Kirk and thou shalt fare the better.
Think ay thou shalt die, thou shalt not gladly sin.
Be blythe at thy meat, devout at thy Mass.
He that dreads not God shall not fail to fall.

“In Husbands Bosworth Hall, the residence of Miss Fortescue-Turville, the last direct descendant of the blessed martyr, was found some years ago a very precious relic, being nothing less than the Book of Hours which he habitually used.”

“The manuscript has suffered a good deal from time and careless handling, but on the outer leaf can still be read another series of maxims, a kind of rule of life written and signed by the martyr’s own hand. We give a full transcript of this autograph. It will be seen how, while yet in the days of his prosperity, this truly Christian knight was preparing all unconsciously for the martyr’s crown and palm. The Book of Hours is now reverently preserved as a relic in the beautiful little Catholic church adjoining the old hall of Husbands Bosworth :”

Above all things love God with thy heart. Desire His honour more than the health of thine own soul. Take heed with all diligence to purge and cleanse thy mind with oft confession, and raise thy desire or lust from earthly things. Be you househeled (housel, i.e., Holy Communion) with entire devotion. Repute not thyself better than any other persons, be they never so great sinners, but rather judge and esteem yourself most simplest. Judge the best ; use much silence, but when thou hast necessary cause to speak. Delight not in familiarity of persons unknown to thee. Be solitary, as much as is convenient for thine estate. Banish from thee all grudging and detraction and especially from thy tongue. And pray often. Also enforce thee to set thy house at quietness. Resort to God every hour. Avaunce not thy words or deeds by any pride. Be not too much familiar with thy servants but [show] to them a sad [serious] and prudent countenance with gentleness. Show before all people good example of virtues. Use to rebuke charitably the light and wanton people. Comfort all persons in well doing. Love cleanliness in thy house and in especial to young persons. Show thyself a sore enemy to vice, and sharply reproving all vile and reprobrious words and deeds that be not honest. Be not partial for favour, lucre nor malice, but according to truth, equity, justice and reason. Be pitiful unto poor folk and help them to thy power, for there you shall greatly please God. Give fair language to all persons and especially to the poor and needy. Also be sesy (?) and diligent in giving of alms. In prosperity be meek of heart and in adversity patient. And pray continually to God that you may do that that is His pleasure. Also apply diligently the inspirations of the Holy Ghost, whatsoever thou have therein to do. Pray for perseverance. Continue in dread, and ever have God afore thine eye. Renew every day thy good purpose. What thou hast to do, do it diligently. Stab[lish] thyself alway in well doing. If by chance you fall into sin, despair not, and if you keep these precepts, the Holy Ghost will strength[en] thee in all other things necessary, and this doing you shall [be] with Christ in Heaven, to Whom be given laud, praise and honour everlasting.

1 Comment

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One response to “THE PROVERBS OF A KNIGHT AND MARTYR from the Margins of a Book of Hours belonging to Blessed Adrian Fortescue

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