Stephen White

Life
1575-1647 [otherwise Stephanus Vitus;] b. Clonmel; Irish Jesuit, ed. Salamanca; novice, 1596; Professor of Scholastic Philosophy at Ingoldstadt, 1606-09; issued Apologia pro Hibernia adversus Cambri Calumnicis (1615) [contra Giraldus], discovered in the Burgundian Library in Brussells by S. H. Bindon; in Ireland 1634-40; rector of college at Cassel; found copy of Adamnan’s Vita Sancti Columbae in a chest in Schaffhausen; corresponded with Hugh Ward and John Colgan at Louvain and Archbishop James Ussher, the Protestant Primate, in Dublin, supplying the latter with material for his works on church history in Ireland. ODNB DIW

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Works
  • Apologia pro Hibernia adversus Cambri Calumnias: sive, Fabularum et famosorum libellorum Silvestri Giraldi Cambrensis, sub vocabulis topographiæ, sive de mirabilibus Hiberniæ et historiæ vaticinalis, sive expugnationis ciusden insulae refutatio / auctore Stephano Vito. Nunc primum edita cura Matthĉi Kelly [Matthew Kelly]. (Dublinii: Apud Johannem O’Daly, via vulgo dicta Bedford Row, No. 7 / 1849), xv [Preface & Latin table of contents], v [introductio: Benvolo Lectori S.], 1-241 [Chaps. I-XXVI]. 243-251pp. [Appendices]; 253-60 [Index.] 26cm. - available at Internet Archive - online [Gift of George C. Mahon at Michigan UL; accessed 15.09.2011].
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Criticism
  • William Reeves, Memoir of Stephen White [read before the Royal Irish Academy, 30 Nov. 1861 rep. from Proceedings] ([Dublin: [RIA] 1861]), 10pp. [incls. copy of a letter in Latin from White to Fr. John Colgan; English and Latin];
  • Jason Harris, ‘The Rhetoric of History: Stephen White’s Apologia pro innocentibus Ibernis’, in Harris & Keith Sidwell, eds, Making Ireland Roman: The Latin Writing of Early Modern Ireland (Cork UP 2009) [q.pp.].

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Commentary

Fr. Matthew Kelly (ed.), Preface to Apologia pro Hibernia (Dublin 1849) —
 

Stephen White, the author of the following work, was born in Clonmel about the middle of the sixteenth century. He entered the order of the Jesuits, and soon acquired a great reputation for profound and varied erudition. The Bolandists gratefully acknow ledge the assistance which he gave to Father Rosweide, in preparing materials for the lives of the saints, and even when engaged in the laborious duties of the theology chair in Dilingen, he continued to devote much of his time to the ecclesiastical history of Ireland. He was among the first Irish writers who vindicated the honor of his country against the Scottish pretenders, who attributed to Scotland all the glories of the ancient Scotia. The value of his labours in this department has been attested by the most competent authorities; Ussher, to whom he supplied some manuscripts from the German libraries, not being less warm in his commendation than Lynch, Colgan, or 0’Sullivan. The bishops of the Catholic Confederation resolved to publish one of his works at the public expense, as highly creditable to the honor of the country. But though he enjoyed so great a name among his contemporaries, and subsequently with the few scholars who had access to his manuscripts, none of his writings were ever printed. As several of them are still extant, there may be an opportunity of publishing them uniform with the present volume, and of collecting into a biographical sketch several notices of the author, which attest how much he was esteemed by those who could best appreciate his merits. [iii]
 The Apologia is now published for thc first time from a manuscript preserved in the Bibliothdque des Ducs de Bourgogne, Brussells [see note]. No other copy of the work being known to the editor, there was no choice but to publish it as it stands, except in a few passages which had manifestly been corrupted by the copyist. On some points, which cannot escape the attention of the critical reader, it would have been desirable to have the benefit of a collation of different copies; but in general it will be found, that however such collations might exercise the industry of an editor, they are by no means necessary to sustain the main arguments of the author. In the MS. from which the text is printed, a considerable quantity of additional matter had been incorporated, as long parentheses, in the body of the work. But though these parentheses are evidently from the same pen as the text, it was considered better to print them as notes under the place which they occupied, in order to avoid thc inconvenience of tampering with the original by editorial additions or alterations.
  Whether the Apologia be worthy of the high name of the author the learned reader must decide. But it ought not to be forgotten, that it was composed very early in the seventeenth century, probably bcfore the year 1615. It could not be expected that a person writing in a foreign land, without access to native original documents, (few of which had yet been printed,) could avoid falling into several errors. He had no work of Ussher, Colgan, or Ware to guide him. He wrote several years even before Ward had commenced to collect materials for the ecclesiastical history of Ireland; yet, due abatement being made for these disadvantages, his work will be found as free from errors as most of those written on new subjects. To some of his arguments thc research of subsequent writers has been able to add very little, especially where he refutes some of the errors of Giraldus on the eclessiastical history of [iv] Ireland previous to the English invasion. It was deemed unecessary to correct in detail the points in which he differs from his successors, as a reference to Dr. Lanigan would generally be sufficient for the purpose. On one important question regarding the Bull of Alexander III. to Henry II., he was led astray by the Frankfort edition of Giraldus Cambrensis, which suppresses that Bull, and confounds it with Adrian’s. The reader may perhaps regret that our author has wasted so much learning and argument on the personal character of Giraldus. But Giraldus, whose works had been lately published, was in those days enlisted as a potent auxiliary for the solution of the old English difficulty, commonly called the "settlement" of Ireland. It had been his lot to be the apologist of the spoliation of the Irish by the first Anglo-Norman invaders, and he was now, four hundred years after his death, employed in the same work, to complete the ruin of the remnant of the old Irish, as well as of many of the Anglo-Irish. His well-stocked armory of calumny was as useful for the spoliation of the Irish by law under the Stuarts, as for their spoliation by the sword under the Plantagenets. The circumstances of the day imparted to his character, however contemptible, an importance which no writer undertaking to refute him could prudently overlook. Should this volume receive due encouragement, there would be no difficulty in publishing several works written on Catholic affair after the Reformation, together with many valuable MSS. never printed, and rarely, if at all cited by historians. The usual catalogue price of Rothe’s or 0’Sullivan’s writings is greater than would be required for a copious collection of Irish Catholic authors, uniform with the prescnt volume. To S. H. Bindon, Esq. is due the discovery of the manuscript from which the Apologia is printed. In his “Catalogue of Manuscripts relating to Ireland now found in the Burgundian Library, Brussells,” may be seen some intcresting notices of Stephen White and his writings. Thc cataloguc was read before the Royal Irish Academy, May 24th, 1847, and printed in their proceedings.

 
Fr. Kelly’s Note
1. Harris thus regrets the supposed loss of the Apologia: “And pity it is that we are deprived of it. For it must need have been worth the public view, since so good a judge as Archbishop Ussher gives the author the high character of a man of exquisite knowledge in the antiquities not only of Ireland, but also of other nations.” (Ware’s Writers of Ireland.)

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Joseph Th. Leerssen, Mere Irish & Fior-Ghael: Studies in the Idea of Irish Nationality, Its Development and Literary Expression Prior To The Nineteenth Century (John Benjamins Pub. Co., Amsterdam & Philadelphia, 1986): Stephen White, an English Jesuit, wrote an unpublished Apologia pro Hibernia adversus Cambrensis calumnias (1615); also ‘De sanctis et anitquite Hiberniae’, unpublished MS containing manuscript material gathered at Ingolstadt, Kassel and Schaffenhausen, which he supplied to Hugh Ward and company. He accuses Cambrensis of lies and heretical tendencies in his ad hominem attack. (Leerssen, p.32,) Bibl., M. Kelly, ed., Apologia pro Hibernia [... &c.] (Dublinii 1849).

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Quotations
Apologia pro Hibernia adversus Cambri Calumnicis (1615): ‘Among the names of the saints whom Ireland sent forth there were, as I have learned from the trustworthy writings of the ancients, 150 now honoured as patrons of places in Germany, of whom 36 were martyrs; 45 Irish patrons of Gaul, of whom 6 were martyred; at least 30 in Belgium; 44 in England; 13 in Italy; and in Iceland and Norway 8 martyrs; besides many others (elsewhere).’ (Op. cit., p.24; cited in George A Little, Dublin Before the Vikings, Dublin: M. H. Gill 1957, p.101-02.)

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References
Dictionary of National Biography
, gives interrogative bio-dates, 1575-1647?; transcribed valuable MSS including Adamnan’s Life of St. Columba, used by Ussher in his work on ecclesiastical antiquities. Several posthumously published treatises. SEE Ref. in Peter Costello, Clongowes Wood (1991).

Hyland Books (Cat. 224) lists Matthew Kelly, ed., Stephen White, Apologia pro Hibernia adversus Cambri Calumnias (Dublin 1849) [£45].

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Notes
H. S. Bindon, Esq., discovered in the Burgundian Library in Brussels the manuscript from which Fr. Matthew Kelly edited and published the Apologia pro Hibernia. Bindon read a paper on the matter to the Royal Irish Academy on 24 May 1847 - the catalogue of the Brussels library being published in the RIA Transactions. (See Kelly’s Preface, p.v.)

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Namesake? [Stephen White, 1687-1736], author of Stephani Viti ... Vindiciĉ, in quibus ea, quĉ in Apologia synodi Dordracenĉ ad pacis inter Protestantes commendationem dicta sunt ... vindicantur defendunturque (Cassellis 1728) - on the topic of the Dordrecht Synod. Note that the printhouse address coincides with the name and location of the college where the 17th-century Stephen White presided - just as the title answers to his angle of approach in the matter of religious apologetics.

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Namesake: Stephen White, vicar of Holton, is author of A Diswassive from Stealing (Rivington 1745), a sermon on Ephesians iv. 28 which ran into many editons up to 1812 [10th edn.]. A later ecclesiastical writer of the same name was Pastor of Windham in Conecticut and author of Death Dissolves the Nearest and Dearest Relations [...] A sermon, occasioned by the much lamented death of Col. Joseph Trumbull, Esq. delivered in the First Society in Lebanon at his interment [by] Stephen White (1779).

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Namesake: Stephen White (1945- ), a Kremlinologist, and author of The Soviet Leadership : politburo, orgburo and secretariat of the CPSU, 1919-1990 (1991) and The Soviet Transition: from Gorbachev to Yeltsin. (1993), and Russia Goes Dry (1996), Russia’s New Politics : the management of a postcommunist society (2000), &c., is the son of Jack White [q.v.] - the RTE capo and author of Minority Report. The journalist and novelist Victoria White is his sister.

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