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The Fire Of Love by Richard Rolle


The only fact we are certain of in regard to Richard Misyn is that he was the translator of the two treatises of Rolle which this volume contains. In the explicit to Book II of The Fire of Love we are told that he was then Prior of Lincoln and belonged to the Order of the Carmelites, 'per fratrem Ricardum Misyn, sacre theologie bachalaureum, tunc Priorem Lyncolniensem, ordinis carmelitarum'; but in the previous explicit to Book I he is mentioned only as a hermit belonging to the order, 'per fratrem Ricardum Misyn heremitam and ordinis carmelitarum Ac sacre theologie bachalaureum.'

Rolle had died eighty-six years before, in 1349, but two of his miracles are dated and are as late as 1381 and 1383, so there is little reason to doubt that his name was very familiar to this other Richard, who also styled himself a hermit, and who, as far as we can gather, was of the same country.

There are scanty records of a Richard Mysyn, a Carmelite and Suffragan, who is thought to be identical with Bishop Mesin or Musin of Dromore; for at that time to have a see in Ireland did not necessarily mean to reside there. This Frater Ric. Mysyn, Suffragenus, ordinis Fratrum Carmelitarium, is put first in the Register of the Corpus Christi Guild of York, under the date 1461-1462, and was admitted to the Guild by Dom. J. Burton, Rector of the Church of S. Martin in the Mickelgate, York. Bishop Musun's name also occurs in the legend round the famous cup preserved in the vestry of York Minister, and known as the Scrope Indulgence Cup. This inscription runs: Recharde arche beschope Scrope grantes on to all tho that drinkis of this cope xl dayis to pardun. Robert Gubsun. Beschope Musin grantes in same forme afore saide xl dayis to pardun. Robert Strensall.'

In the Carmelite records preserved in a manuscript in the British Museum, the death is noted of a Richard Mesin, Bishop of Dromore, under the year 1462, who was buried with the other Fathers of the order in their monastery at York, i.e., in the same year as Richard Mysyn was admitted a member of the Corpus Christi Guild. But at present it must remain a matter merely of conjecture if these references relate to the Richard Misyn to whom we owe our translation.

It now only remains for me to thank all those who have helped me by their kind advice and interest. I should like here to record my especial gratitude to Miss Evelyn Underhill, who read a part of my MS., and to whose kindly aid and suggestions I am much indebted; to Father Cuthbert, O.S.F.C., who helped me over many difficulties in the Latin text; to Father Congreve, S.S.J.E., for his unfailing sympathy and help; and to Miss Corrie Prior who read the proofs with me. I also owe a very especial debt of gratitude to Professor H. J. C. Grierson, not only for his kindness in overlooking my preface, but also because anything I may have learnt of the beauty and inspiration of literature is due to his teaching. And there are many others I am not allowed to name, but for whose assistance I am none the less grateful.

By a curious coincidence I find that I am writing the last words of my preface on the eve of the day set apart in the English Martyrology for the commemoration of Blessed Richard, Confessor and Eremite. May we not take it for a sign that he is still present with us in spirit, and as desirous of helping us today by his spiritual books and treatises, and -- may we not add -- by his prayers, as when he ministered to the nuns at Hampole, or repaired to his cell to sing psalms and hymns in honour of God.

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