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Calvin dated from Geneva, on 1st August, 1559, the last corrected edition of his work, " The Institutions of the Christian Religion ;" and immediately afterwards, Norton, at the special request of his " dear friends," Reginald Woolfe and Edward Whitehurche,1 translated it " out of Latin into English for the commodity of the Church of Christ," that " so great a jewel might be made most beneficial; that is to say, applied to most common use."2 The work was published in 1561, and in Norton's lifetime went through five editions.
2 Wood not inaptly calls him " a forward and busy Calvinist, and noted zealot;" but Strype incorrectly describes him as " a minister of good parts and learning," 3 conferring upon him the unattained degree of D. : a mistake into which the style and subjects of Norton's writings might well have led men more accurate than Strype.
The first has not been met with in print.4 The Psalms, with Norton's initial afterwards varied, versions by other hands appearing instead of Norton's. 132, has the initial M., and differs in some few words from Norton's version, in that Bible and in the recent edition of the Common Prayer, 1800, numbers 75 and 108 are Hopkins; and in the same edition of the Common Prayer, 101, 102, 105, 106, 109, 110, 111, 115, 116, 117, 118, 129, 131, 132, 135, 136, 138 to 145 inclusive, 147, 149 and 150, are the twenty-seven ascribed to Norton; but 109 is a different version from Norton's, and he did not write 111 or 132.
(1593) says, "How few may wage comparison with Reynolds, Stubbes, Mulcaster, Norton, Lambert, and the Lord Henry Howard? It is not improbable that, as his friend and recent patron, Sackville, had by a lavish expenditure become involved, and was travelling in Italy, and as Norton's religious opinions were very strong, not to say puritanical, he intended to devote himself to a religious life.
Another politico-religious work of the same period was " A discourse touching the pretended match betwene the duke of Norfolcke and the Quene of Scottes," published anonymously ; and a more valuable and more popular work was also published by him in 1570, " A translation of Dean Nowcl Fs Catechism," which went through four editions in seven years.
On leaving Oxford, Norton gave up any notion, he might have had, of entering the church, and applied himself to his profession ; not abandoning, however, either his love of polemical writing, or his unceasing attacks upon the " Papists," whom he called " the common enemies of all sides of Christians." He had become a retainer at the court.1 He was already well known to the Lord Treasurer, and his writings had made him acquainted with Whitgift.
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There is no trace of the school in which Norton was taught the rudiments of the Latin tongue, of which, at an early period of his life (although he had not then proceeded to either University), he was a complete master; but he very soon obtained the substantial patronage of the Protector Somerset : and was in such favour, that he is thought by Herbert* " to have been the state amanuensis." When only eighteen years of age his first work appeared : it was printed in October, 1550,5 and was a very well executed translation of Peter Martyr's letter to Somerset,6 rendered into English at the desire of Norton's patron.