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The Form of Perfect Living and Other Prose Treatises   By: (1290?-1349)

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Rendered into Modern English by Geraldine E. Hodgson, D.Litt., Lecturer in Education in the University of Bristol.

London: Thomas Baker, 72, Newman Street, W. 1910.

Printed By W. C. Hemmons, St. Stephen Street, Bristol.

"Love is a life, joining together the loving and the loved."

"Truth may be without love, but it cannot help without it."


( The Form of Perfect Living , ch. x.).


This book is not intended for those who are acquainted with Anglo Saxon and Middle English; but for those who care for the thought, specially the religious and devotional thought, of our forefathers. My one aim has been to make a portion of that thought accurately intelligible to modern readers, with the greatest possible saving of trouble to them. When I could use the old word or phrase, with certainty of its being understood, I have done so. When I could not, I have replaced it with the best modern equivalent I could find or invent. In extenuation of the occasional use of Rolle's expression, "by their lone," I may urge its expressiveness, the absence of an equivalent, and the fact that it may still be heard in remote places. Where possible, I have retained the archaic order of the original Text. Such irregular constructions, as e.g. , the use of a singular pronoun in the first half of a sentence, and of a plural in the second half, I have left unaltered; for the meaning was perfectly clear. In short, I have endeavoured to make Richard Rolle as he was as significant as possible to English men and women of to day as they are, when they are not professed students of English language. In such an undertaking, it is obvious that I must have presented endless vulnerable places to the learned. I can only repeat that the book was never meant for them, but for those who will perhaps forgive me if I describe them as specialists in religious thought rather than in English Language.

The rendering is made from the texts printed by Professor Horstman in his Library of Early English Writers: Richard Rolle of Hampole an English Father of the Church .


The University, Bristol, S. Mary Magdalene, 1910.



Preface vii.

Introduction xi.

The Form of Perfect Living 1

Our Daily Work (a Mirror of Discipline). ( From the Arundel MS. ) 83

On Grace. ( From the Arundel MS. ) 169

An Epistle on Charity 185

Contrition 190

Scraps from the Arundel MS. 192


Richard Rolle of Hampole is the earliest in time of our famous English Mystics. Born in or about 1300, he died in 1349, seven years after Mother Julian of Norwich was born. Walter Hilton died in 1392.

An exhaustive account of Rolle's life is given in Vol. ii. of Professor Horstman's Edition of his works, a book unfortunately out of print. The main facts are recorded in a brief "Life" appended to Fr. R. Hugh Benson's A Book of the Love of JESUS. Therefore, it will suffice to say here that Richard Rolle seems to have been born at Thornton, near Pickering, in Yorkshire, in or about 1300; that, finding the atmosphere of Oxford University uncongenial, he left it, and for some four years was supported, as a hermit, by the Dalton Family. By the end of that time, through prayer, contemplation and self denial, he had attained the three stages of mystical life which he describes as calor , dulcor , canor ; (heat, sweetness, melody.) The next period of his life was less easy. Having left the protection of the Daltons, and being without those means of subsistence which are within the reach of priest or monk, this hermit depended for his daily bread on other men's kindness. Not that he was a useless person: apart from the utility of a life of Prayer, he could point to counsel and exhortation given; to the existence of converts consequent upon his ministrations... Continue reading book >>

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