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The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21).>br>Volume I. From the Beginnings to the Cycles of Romance.

XVI. Later Transition English

§ 11. The Medytacyuns

One other work has been assigned to Robert Mannyng. This is the Medytacyuns of pe soper of oure lorde Jhesu. And also of hys passyun. And eke of pe peynes of hys swete modyr, Mayden Marye. pe whyche made yn latyn Bonaventure Cardynall. In the two manuscripts in which Handlyng Synne has survived in a complete form (Bodleian 415 and Harleian 1701), it is followed by a translation of the above work, but this alone is not sufficient evidence as to the authorship. The language, however, is east midland, and the freedom with which the original is treated, together with the literary skill indicated in some of the additions and interpolations, may, perhaps, justify the ascription of this work to Robert Mannyng; but the point is uncertain.

Of Mannyng’s influence on succeeding authors it is impossible to speak definitely. The fact that only three manuscripts of his great work survive points to no very extensive circulation, and the resemblance of certain passages in Handlyng Synne to lines in the Vision of Piers Plowman and the Canterbury Tales may very well be due to the general opinion of the day on the subjects of which they treat. It has been noticed that the framework of Handlyng Synne is not unlike that of Gower’s Confessio Amantis; but the custom of pointing the lesson of a dissertation by an illustrative narrative is common to didactic writers of all periods, and Gower’s adoption of a method popular among approved moralists must have been intended to add zest to the delight of his audience in stories which were of a distinctly secular character.