At this present time William Tyndale had newly translated and imprinted the New Testament in English, and the Bishop of London, not pleased with the translation thereof, debated with himself how he might compass and devise to destroy that false and erroneous translation (as he said). And so it happened that one Augustine Packington, a mercer and merchant of London, and of a great honesty, the same time was in Antwerp, where the Bishop then was, and this Packington was a man that highly favoured William Tyndale, but to the Bishop utterly shewed himself to the contrary. The Bishop, desirous to have his purpose brought to pass, communed of the New Testaments and how gladly he would buy them. Packington then hearing what he wished for, said unto the Bishop,
'My Lord, if it be your pleasure, I can in this matter do more, I dare say, than most of the merchants of England that are here, for I know the Dutchmen and strangers that have bought them of Tyndale and have them here to sell, so that if it be your Lordship's pleasure to pay for them (or otherwise I cannot come by them but I must disburse money for them) I will then assure you to have every book of them that is imprinted and is here unsold'.
The Bishop thinking that he had God by the toe, when indeed he had (as after he thought) the Devil by the fist, said,
'Gentle Master Packington, do your diligence and get them, and with all my heart I will pay for them whatsoever they cost you, for the books are erroneous and naughts, and I intend surely to destroy them all and to burn them at Paul's Cross.'
Augustine Packington came to William Tyndale and said,
'William, I know thou art a poor man, and hast a heap of New Testaments and books by thee for the which thou has both endangered thy friends and beggared thyself, and I have now gotten thee a merchant which with ready money shall dispatch thee of all that thou hast, if you think it so profitable for yourself.'
'Who is the merchant?' said Tyndale — 'The Bishop of London,' said Packington. — 'Oh, that is because he will burn them,' said Tyndale. — ' Yea, Mary,' quoth Packington — 'I am the gladder,' said Tyndale, 'for these two benefits shall come thereof: I shall get money of him for these books to bring myself out of debt (and the whole world shall cry out upon the burning of God's word). And the overplus of the money that shall remain to me shall make me more studious to correct the said New Testament, and so newly to imprint the same once again, and I trust the second will much better please you than ever did the first.'
And so forward went the bargain: the Bishop had the books, Packington the thanks, and Tyndale had the money.
Afterwards, when more New Testaments were imprinted, they came thick and threefold into England. The Bishop of London, hearing that still there were so many New Testaments abroad, sent for Augustine Packington and said unto him:
'Sir, how cometh this, that there are so many New Testaments abroad and you promised and assured me that you had bought all?' Then said Packington, 'I promise you I bought all that then was to be had; but I perceive they have made more since, and it will never be better as long as they have the letters and stamps. Therefore it were best for your Lordship to buy the stamps too, and then are you sure.'
The Bishop smiled at him and said, 'Well, Packington, well,' and so ended the matter.
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