Thomas Brampton, 1414
From what sketchy records we have, Thomas Brampton seems to have been an English Franciscan priest and a Doctor of Sacred Theology who, in 1414, wrote a paraphrase in Middle English of the seven penitential Psalms. These were edited into the edition of the Percy Society in 1842.
St John Fisher, 1508
Sorted by Library of Congress catalog number, where available; books without a catalog number are sorted by date.
The Method of Mental Prayer
Rev Francis Nephew, S.J.
London, Thomas Hales, 1694
Opus Contemplationis Divi Bonaventuræ: Points for Mental Prayer
Paraphrased by K. D. B.
London: Burns, Oates & Company, 1880
A Golden Treatise of Mental Prayer
BV 209 .P42 1844
St Peter of Alcantara, O.F.M.
Translated by Giles Willoughby, O.F.M.
Philadelphia, M. Fithian, 1844
The Practice of Mental Prayer
BV 210 .M42 1915
Rev René Maumigny, S.J.
PJ Kenedy & Sons, 1915
First Treatise, Ordinary Prayer (pdf held hostage by the Hathi Trust)
Second Treatise, Extraordinary Prayer
An original work on the subject.
The Ways of Mental Prayer
BV4813 .L4313 1960
Dom Vitalis Lehodey, Abbot of Briquebec, O.C.R.
Dublin, M. H. Gill & Son, 1960
An English translation of the 1928 French edition, which was an original work on the subject.
Exercise of Mental Prayer
BV 4813 .S5 1887
Fr Joseph Simler, S.M.
Nazareth near Dayton Ohio, 1887
The spiritual life; a treatise on ascetical and mystical theology, 2nd ed
BV 5032 .T19
Very Rev. Adolphe Tanquerey, S.S., D.D.
Society of St John the Evangelist
Desclée, Tournai, Belgium, 1930
The Directorium Asceticum; or, Guide to the Spiritual Life
BV 5034 .5313 1902
John Baptist Scaramelli, S.J.
R & T Washbourne, London; Benziger, New York; 5th ed. 1902
Meditations on the Mysteries of our Holy Faith Together With a Treatise on Mental Prayer
BX 2186 .P8 1852
Ven. Louis de Ponte, S.J.
Richardson & Son, London, 1864
A Treatise on Mental Prayer
BX 2186 .P93 1929
Ven. Louis de Puente, S.J.
London, Burns, Oates & Washbourne Ltd., 1929
The introductions to Puente’s 6 volumes woven together into a book.
The Christian Life and Virtues Considered in the Religious State
BX 2350 .G3613 1878
Mgr. Charles-Louis Gay
English translation of the 6th French edition by Abbot Burder, O.C.R.
London: Burns & Oates, 1878
The Via Vitæ of St. Benedict: The Holy Rule Arranged for Mental Prayer
BX 3004.Z5 H49 1908
Dom Bernard Hayes
New York, Cincinnati, Chicago, Benziger Brothers, 1908
An original Benedictine work on the subject.
John Swinnerton Phillimore was a classical scholar, poet, Catholic convert and a friend of Hilaire Belloc. The Internet Archive has a small collection of his works. The following quotes are from his preface to the Manresa Press edition of the sermons of St John Fisher on the seven Penitential Psalms:
The mind of a time
History is everywhere, if you are on the alert for her: and every book has, beyond its intrinsic quality, a further quality as being a piece or a document of the mind of its time. What was our countrymen’s mind like in the fatal half-century before the apostasy? You may learn it from descriptions by historians, if you please to take their word for it, but unless you know what books any generation of men read and took pleasure in, the mind of that time is closed to you.
On translating English texts into modern English
The modern eye cannot travel freely, picking up its clues on the page, where even the commonest word is an orthographical monster, and the stops give no clue to the articulation of the sentence. In this respect Mayor’s text is a monument of laborious pedantry. Consider this phrase for example :
“Every one of them wolde execute all that perteyneth to his office quykly without fayninge or parcyalyte.”
It looks a queer enough collection of beasts to set on a modern page, and one takes some little thought to discover what “quykly” and “parcyalyte” may mean. Show this to the railway traveller at the bookstall, and his shilling will not rise to such a bait with much eagerness. Yet nothing is amiss with it but the disguise. Put it in modern form:
“Every one of them would execute all that pertaineth to his office quickly without feigning or partiality.”
and nothing is left that need disconcert an ordinarily literate reader. All that outlandishness, all that air as of some quaint half-real thing raised up on the farther side of a vast chasm of time, across which we have no equal and familiar communications, is almost wholly a matter of dressing and presenting, or, in other words, of spelling and pointing.
Here’s J. S. Phillimore on the prose style of St John Fisher’s sermons:
As a book of devotion it certainly escapes the commonest fault in that kind, the sin of sweetishness or false unction. The reason why this so often defaces books of devotion is that they are taken from foreign originals with too little respect for idiom. Much sentiment is good and pleasant to the native palate in French or Italian, which, done into English, will estrange, offend and even scandalize an English reader. The literary charm, the raciness, the solidity and sincerity of Fisher’s English give a most engaging address to these printed missionaries. Reading and rereading these proofs I find him, in my own experience, extraordinarily satisfying and uncloying. Such sweetness without sentimentality, such mastery in tempering hope and fear together, rebuke and consolation; in a word, such a man, and such a Saint.
The writings of Thomas More were scarce in 1914 when J. S. Phillimore wrote his preface to the Manresa Press edition of the sermons of St John Fisher on the seven Penitential Psalms:
The young student who swallows what his hand books tell him is never allowed to suspect that More’s English works fill 1400 pages of folio. Or suppose him to have learned this much (for the literary histories mention it), he is little the forwarder. There is hardly a possibility of his reading them. Since 1557 there has never been a complete reprint; and only three pieces, I think, have been reprinted at all.
Yale University published the works of More in a scholarly edition of 15 volumes between 1963 and 1997, but 15 volumes at about $100 per volume comes to way too damn much for me to pay.
The 1557 edition (funky spelling, gothic type, crappy printing, &c.) is on the web here at the Center for Thomas More Studies at the University of Dallas. There’s a transcription & translation job there for a young scholar with a steady eye and an iron butt.