Transactions of the Royal Historical Society (Fourth Series)

Research Article

Wilkins's Concilia and the Fifteenth Century

Professor E. F. Jacob

Hearne greatly disliked Wilkins. His diaries have many severe reflections upon the Prussian upholder of the dynasty he hated; to him ‘that rascal David Wilkins’, vain, mercenary and pushing, was the type of industrious pedant with little judgment who would edit and publish anything that he found remunerative, and spoil good material in the process. This waspish temper, that at times vents itself in scandalous comments on Wilkins's private life, may have partly resulted from the fact that Wilkins took up two enterprises with which Hearne had been in some degree concerned: a second edition of Humphrey Prideaux's Marmora Oxoniensia (which he never carried out, the work being ultimately entrusted to Michael Mattaire and published by him in 1732), and a new edition of Spelman's Concilia, ‘ the Councils’, as Hearne always called them. The antiquary had been anxious to do both. He curtly refused help to Wilkins over the Marmora, and in regard to the Councils he tells us that Atterbury had originally proposed the editing of Spelman to himself, “ but it was after my retirement upon account of the oaths; and so I thought fit to decline and waive it “. Naturally he was still interested in the project, and rather apprehensive about it after the way in which Wilkins had edited Selden's works (1726). ‘This vile editor ‘was his comment then, and he acidly notes that Wilkins had been working upon the Concilia at a much earlier date, but had been ‘put by ‘by the Archbishop in favour of some other man.

(Revised November 12 1931)