(1) OXFORD UNIVERSITY TO THE DUKE OF GLOUCESTER, ACKNOWLEDGING A GIFT OF BOOKS. (1439.)
Most illustrious, most cultured and magnificent Prince, the enduring value of the benefits you have conferred on the English nation, and the meritorious deeds of your most powerful Highness in its behalf can never die, but, with distinguished fame destined to endure, will flourish with ever-renewed praise and happy remembrance. How delightful it certainly is for us to reflect upon these again and again! Among the rest, however, that deed itself redounds to the splendor of your most mighty Highness, namely, that after having brought about the repression of heretic plotting against the church of God, you have chosen to reinvigorate the vineyard of the Lord, your hand-maid, the University of Oxford, with books on all the sciences and virtues, out of which the abundant wine of knowledge and truth may be squeezed by the press of study. For this reason we set forth in this humble letter our thanks, our praise, and our prayers, but we cannot express ourselves adequately.
Which of the Universities has found a Prince so munificent, so illustrious, so magnificent?—whose service in the field has ever been successful, whose mind is most liberal, and who displays charity to all, justice to each, and harm to none. What respecter of the wise was ever so pious, what supporter of them so efficient, what patron of the sciences, of virtues, and of books so generous? And by these not only are the hearts of the living enlightened to the glory of God and the advance of virtue, but even more in coming ages will posterity be illumined. Can the happy memory of deeds so great pass away? Nay, but it will be a benediction forever.
A statute has been made in the words of your supplicant, and is to be forever in force, which will never fail in prayers in your behalf but will serve as an enduring memorial. Wherefore, although the fame of others may ebb with the flow of time or perish through being overshadowed by the rising of greater men, yet your fame cannot perish under the cloud of oblivion nor can it, of a truth, be obscured by the shadow of greater benefactions.
If the great conquests of Alexander come to our ears, renewed day by day through the devices of the wise Greeks who committed such deeds to writing, how much more will this University, your devoted supplicant, bear witness to your magnificent deeds to the end of time, not only by her prayers but also in her writings? Nay, were the tongues of all to be silent the fact itself would bear witness more than speech, the fact, to wit, that one hundred and thirty-nine most precious volumes of theology, medicine, and the seven liberal sciences have been deposited in our library from your own collection, as an eternal witness to your surpassing virtues and munificence.
We pray therefore that you may be willing