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Under the Earth beneath, Almighty God
For his share of that gift of light, which then
30 Found buildings; said he questioned
whether he Would serve God. Wherefore, he said,
shall I toil ? No need have I of master. I can work With my own hands great marvels, and
When the Almighty heard With how great pride His angel raised
THE FALL OF LUCIFER. (From the MS. of Cædmon.)
Against his Lord, foolishly spake high words
Of Angel's pride deceived them, who refused
"Yet from those flames No light, but rather darkness visible, Served only to discover sights of woe."
(“Paradise Lost," i. 62–61.)
And these grim depths. Then may we for ourselves
Was wroth with him and into ruin cast
140 That if between us two by Adam came Evil towards that royalty of Heaven, I having power of my handsBut now we suffer throes in Hell, gloom, heat, Grim, bottomless; us God Himself hath swept Into these mists of darkness, wherefore sin Can He not lay against us that we planned Evil against Him in the land. Of light He hath shorn us, cast us into utmost pain. May we not then plan vengeance, pay Him back 150 With any hurt, since shorn by Him of light. Now He hath set the bounds of a mid earth Where after His own image He hath wrought Man, by whom He will people once again Heaven's kingdom with pure souls. Therefore intent Must be our thought that, if we ever may, On Adam and his offspring we may wreak Revenge, and, if we can devise a way, Pervert his will. I trust no more the light Which he thinks long to enjoy with angel power. 160 Bliss we obtain no more, nor can attain To weaken God's strong will; but let us now Turn from the race of Man that heavenly realm Which may no more be ours, contrive that they Forfeit His favour, undo what His Word Ordained: then wroth of mind He from His grace Will cast them, then shall they too seek this Hell
[ An incomplete sentence is then followed by a gap in the MS., which goes on]:
Then God's antagonist arrayed himself
Having followed the narrative in the Book of Genesis until it enabled him to dwell with all his power upon the history of Abraham as a great lesson of faith in God, Cadmon proceeded with the Book of Exodus, for the sake of dwelling on the passage of the Red Sea as a lesson of faith in the God who can lead His people through deep waters. Then he passed to the Book of Daniel, for the sake of adding a lesson of faith in the God who can lead his people unhurt through the burning fiery furnace
“In the hot oven all the pious three.
One was in sight with them, an angel sent
"On each hand the flames, Driven backward, slope their pointing spires, and, roll'd In billows, leave in the midst a horrid vale."
(“Paradise Lost," i. 222-224.)
From the Almighty. Therein they unhurt
English chroniclers. William of Malmesbury writes thus of Aldhelm. He has just mentioned a Leutherius, who was for seven years bishop of the West Saxons, and goes on :
WILLIAM OF MALMESBURY'S ACCOUNT OF ALDHELM.
This part of the poem ends with Belshazzar's Feast. The rest of the MS., added in another handwriting, is founded on New Testament story, and has for its theme Christ and Satan. It tells partly what was known as the Harrowing of Hell from the apocryphal Gospel of Nicodemus, and partly the Temptation in the Wilderness. As Cædmon's Paraphrase was produced during the rule of Abbess Hilda in the Whitby monastery, its date is probably between the years 670 and 680.
Before the death of Cædmon, Aldhelm, another poet, had begun his work. He was well born, and entered young into a monastery founded by a poor Scot named Meildulf, obtained a grant of the place in the year 672, and gave his wealth and energy to its development, till Meildulf's settlement, Meildulfesburh (Malmesbury) became one of the chief religious centres of its time. In 705 Aldhelm was made the first bishop of Sherborne, and he died in 709. In that Benedictine house of Malmesbury there lived in the earlier half of the twelfth century (he died probably in 1142) a monk named William, whose History of the Kings of England gave him, for genius as a historian, the first place among old
1 The whole of that part of Cædmon which relates the Creation and the Fall of Man was translated into rhymed heroic couplets by Mr. W. H. F. Bosanquet as “ The Fall of Man, or Paradise Lost of Cædmon," and published in 1860, joined to a theory that Cædmon wrote ten-syllabled iambic lines with an occasional unaccented eleventh syllable, and that the English heroic line was of Cædmon's iuveption. This is not a true theory, though it is true that the rhythm of the First-English alliterative verse, set in cadences for chanting to the thrum of a stringed instrument, often accorded with that of our own modern heroic measure ; and I think it is most fairly represented in translation when that and kindred measures, which tall smoothly on the English ear, underlie the music of its short accented and alliterated lines. A full and excellent account of Cadmon and his works was published in 1875 by Mr. Robert Spence Watson, in a little book entitled “Cædmon, the First English Poet." which can be most heartily recommended to the reader. It is not unworthy of note that in the same year 1875 the story of Cædmon was made into a graceful little book of verse by a lady, as “ A Dream and the Song of Cædmon. (A Legend of Whitby.) By J. M.J." The old poemn itself was edited for the Antiquarian Society in 1832 by Mr. Benjamin Thorpe, with a literal English translation, and the same society published a valuable series of fac-similes of the pictures Illustrating the one extant MS. of it in the Bodleian. K. W. Bouterwek published in 1849 a carefully edited text of Cædmon; followed in 1851 by an ample glossary to the poem, in which Latin is used for giving the meanings of words, and German for any comment upon them. Cædmon is of course included in Dr. C. W. M. Grein's “ Bibliothek der Angelsächsischen Poesie in kritisch bearbeiteten Texten und mit vollständigen Glossar," published at Göttingen in 1857, 1858, 1861, and 1864. This work contains the whole body of First-English poetry, and its glossary serves as a full and critical concordance to it. It is a book that the more advanced student of First English cannot do without. A beginning of the study of First English might easily be made in schools with the help of a book written for the purpose, an " Anglo-Saxon Delectus," by the Rev. W. Barnes. This includes elements of grammar, graduated readings, and sufficient glossary. Or use might at once be made of " A Grammar of the Anglo-Saxon Tongue, from the Danish of Erasmus Rask, by Benjamin Thorpe," which in its second and cheaper edition has become a most convenient book for school and college use. In the mere study of English grammar there can be no thoroughness until its development is taught, as it can be taught most simply and easily, by beginning at the beginning. This is not adding to, but lessening the trouble given to a boy or girl who seeks to work with understanding
This circumstance I have thought proper to mention, because Beda has left no account of the duration of his episcopate, and to disguise a fact which I learn from the Chronicles would be against my conscience; besides, it affords an opportunity which ought to be embraced, of making mention of a distinguished man, who by a clear and divinely inspired mind advanced the monastery of Malmesbury, where I carry on my earthly warfare, to the highest pitch. This monastery was so slenderly endowed by Meildulf--a Scot, as they say, by nation, a philosopher by erudition, a monk by profession--that its members could scarcely procure their daily subsistence; but Leutherius, after long and due deliberation, gave it to Aldhelm, a monk of the same place, to be by him governed with the authority then possessed by bishops. Of which matter, that my relation may obviate every doubt, I shall subjoin his own words.
“I, Leutherius, by divine permission bishop supreme of the Saxon see, am requested by the abbots who, within the jurisdiction of our diocese, preside over the conventual assemblies of monks with pastoral anxiety, to give and to grant that portion of land called Meildulfesburh to Aldhelm the priest, for the purpose of leading a life according to strict rule: in which place, indeed, from his earliest infancy and first initiation in the study of learning, he has been instructed in the liberal arts, and passed his days, nurtured in the bosom of the holy mother church ; and on which account fraternal love appears principally to have conceived this request : wherefore assenting to the petition of the aforesaid abbots, I willingly grant that place to him and his successors, who shall sedulously follow the laws of the holy institution. Done publicly near the river Bladon, this seventh of the kalends of September, in the year of our Lord's incarnation six hundred and seventy-two."
But when the industry of the abbot was superadded to the kindness of the bishop, then the affairs of the monastery began to flourish exceedingly; then monks assembled on all sides; there was a general concourse to Aldhelm; some admiring the sanctity of his life, others the depth of his learning. For he was a man as unsophisticated in religion as multifarious in knowledge; whose piety surpassed even his reputation; and he had so fully imbibed the liberal arts, that he was wonderful in each of them, and unrivalled in all. I greatly err, if his works written on the subject of Virginity, than which, in my opinion, nothing can be more pleasing or more splendid, are not proofs of his immortal genius; although, such is the slothfulness of our times, they may excite disgust in some persons, not duly considering how modes of expression differ according to the customs of nations. The Greeks, for instance, express themselves involvedly, the Romans clearly, the Gauls gorgeously, the Angles turgidly. And truly, as it is pleasant to dwell on the graces of our ancestors and to animate our minds by their example, I would here, most willingly, unfold what painful labours this holy man encountered for the privileges of our church, and with what miracles he signalised his life, did not my avocations lead me elsewhere; and his noble acts appear clearer even to the eye of the purblind, than they can possibly be sketched by my pencil. The innumerable miracles which at this time take place aí his toml), manifest
to the present race the sanctity of the life he passed. He In differing notes their many voices raise has therefore his proper praise; he has the fame acquired by Ever one song to their Creator's praise : his merits: my history pursues its course.
Help me Thou, Merciful, my song to bring,
That I the famous deeds of saints of old may sing. William of Malmesbury wrote a life of Aldhelm, in which he says that he was unequalled as an inventor The central line of religious thought in the old and singer of English verse, and that a song ascribed First-English times, traceable from Cædmon to to him, which was still familiar among the people in Aldhelm, whose work was commenced in Cædmon's King Alfred's days, had been sung by him on the lifetime, passes on from Aldhelm to Bede, who bridge between Malmesbury and the country, to began his work in Aldhelm's lifetime, and was prevent people from running away after mass was thirty-six years old when Aldhelm died. Bede was sung without waiting to hear the sermon. He began born in, or within a few months of, the year 673, the song as a gleeman, with matter to which they | about the time when Cadmon's Paraphrase was listened for their pleasure, gradually blended words written. When he was a child, Benedict Biscop of Scripture with his jesting, and “ so brought health founded the twin monasteries of St. Peter and St. to their minds when he could have done nothing if | Paul at Wearmouth and Jarrow. St. Peter's at he had thought to manage them severely and by Wearmouth was first ready, and Bede entered it excommunication." It is not improbable that among when he was seven years old. St. Paul's, on a extant First-English poems are some of Aldhelm's bank of the Tyne about five miles from St. Peter's, pieces, but there is no piece known to be his. His was ready for opening when Bede was ten, and he Latin works remain, including the books in praise of was one of those inmates of St. Peter's who were virginity, to which William of Malmesbury referred. removed to it. From the age of ten for the next One is in prose, and after a long introduction in fifty-two years, until his death in the year 735, praise of purity proceeds to celebrate some holy men | Bede's home was in the Jarrow monastery, humbly and many holy women who were distinguished for fulfilling all his duties as a monk, and giving to their exaltation of the soul over the flesh. In his useful studies all the time that was not spent in the poem, “De Laudibus Virginitatis,” there is a shorter exercises of religion. He compiled clear Latin introduction, and it consists of a series of little treatises upon all branches of knowledge cultivated celebrations, many of course honouring saints who in his day, and digested into manuals the essence of had already been celebrated in his prose. Aldhelm's the Scripture teaching of the Fathers. His labour poem, “ Of Maidens' Praise," begins thus with
supplied the best text-books for the monastery schools,
which were the centres of education in all parts of AN INVOCATION.?
the country, and the readiest aids for elder men to
an exact study of the Bible. A book of his on Almighty Maker, Master of the World,
the Nature of Things was for centuries the accepted Who shap'st the starry Heaven's shining dome,
manual for the learning of what was then known And formest Earth's foundations by thy Word;
of the laws of nature; and his Ecclesiastical History, Paint'st the pale meadows with their purple bloom,
which ends with the year 731, is our first history Rein'st the blue waters of the wave-rolled plain
of England. In it all information then to be Lest they have force to flood the dry land's bound
obtained was collected and arranged with scholarly Where checks of cliff shatter the rising main;
care and clearness, and this book is in our own Thine the firm grasp of frost on tilth of ground,
| day the chief source of information as to the events Thou mak'st increase the seed in mists of rain ;
| of which it treats. The chapter of it in which Thou takest away darkness with twin lights, Titan day's comrade, Cynthia the night's;
· Cædmon's story is told has been already quoted." Thou hast adorned the waters and made fair
Bede's fame spread in his own day over the Christian The scaly squadrons of the gray abyss ;
world, yet he refused to be made abbot at Jarrow, Through Thee swift hosts that soar in the clear air
because, he said, “the office demands household care, Chirp and to echoes pipe resounding bliss,
and household care brings with it distraction of
mind, which hinders the pursuit of learning.” At I These are the lines themselves :
the end of his Ecclesiastical History of England, ** Omnipotens genitor, mundum ditione gubernans,
which he was finishing in the year 731, he wrote : Lucida stelligeri qui condis culmina cæli,
Thus much of the ecclesiastical history of Britain, and
more especially of the English nation, as far as I could learn Sic quoque fluctivagi refrenas coerula ponti,
either from the writings of the ancients, or the tradition of Mergere ne valeant terrarum littora lymphis,
our ancestors, or of my own knowledge, has, with the help of Sed tumidos frangant fluctus obstacula rupis
God, been digested by me, Bede, the servant of God, and Arvorum gelido qui cultus fonte rikabıs,
priest of the monastery of the blessed apostles, Peter and Et segetum vlumas uimbosis imbrbus angeg; Qui latobras mundi seminato sidere demis,
Paul, which is at Wearmouth and Jarrow; who being born Neinpe diem Titan, et noctem Cynthia comit:
in the territory of that same monastery, was given, at seven Piscibus equoreos qui campos pinguibus ornas,
years of age, to be educated by the most reverend Abbot Squamizeras formans in glauco gurgite turmas;
Benedict, and afterwards by (eolfrid; and spending all the
remaining time of my life in that monastery, I wholly applied Atque Creatorem diversa voce fatentur:
myself to the study of Scripture, and amidst the observance of Da pius auxilium, clemens, ut carmine possim, Inclyta sanctorum modulari gesta priorum."
On page 1.
regular discipline, and the daily care of singing in the church, I always took delight in learning, teaching, and writing. In the nineteenth year of my age, I received deacon's orders, in the thirtieth, those of the priesthood, both of them by the ministry of the most reverend Bishop John, and by order of the Abbot Ceolfrid. From which time, till the fifty-ninth year of my age, I have made it my business, for the use of me and mine, to compile out of the works of the venerable Fathers, and to interpret and explain according to their meaning, these following pieces :
The list of his works follows, to which he adds
And now, I beseech thee, good Jesus, that to whom thou hast graciously granted sweetly to partake of the words of thy wisdom and knowledge, thou wilt also vouchsafe that he may some time or other come to thee, the fountain of all wisdom, and always appear before thy face, who livest and reignest world without end. Amen!
Tradition explained the word “ Venerable” joined always to the name of Bede, by saying that after his death one of his pupils sought to write his epitaph in a line of metrical Latin, and left space for the adjective he had not yet found to fit his verse while it expressed his meaning. “In this grave are the bones of
Bede.” “Hac sunt in fossa Bedæ
The student slept over his unfinished line, and when he awoke, found that an angel bad finished his verse with a word added in lines of light—"Hac sunt in fossa Bedæ VENERABILIS ossa."
A pupil of Bede, named Cuthbert, described to a fellow-student the death of their beloved master in a letter that is extant. It faithfully paints to us the religion of this humble, indefatigable scholar :
0 truly happy man! He chanted the sentence of St. Paul the apostle, “It is fearful to fall into the hands of the living God," and much more, out of Holy Writ; wherein also he admonished us to think of our last hour, and to shake off the sleep of the soul; and being learned in our poetry, he said some things also in our tongue, for he said, putting the same into English, “For tham neod-fere,
Ær his heonen-gange
Hwat his gaste
Godes oththe yveles
Æfter deathe heonen
Demed wurthe." which means this :
“For the journey we must all take no man becomes wiser of thought than he needs be to consider before his going hence for what good or evil his soul shall be judged after its departure."
He also sang antiphons according to our custom and his own, one of which is, “O glorious King, Lord of all power, who, triumphing this day, didst ascend above all the heavens; do not forsake us orphans; but send down upon us the Spirit of truth which was promised to us by the Father. Hallelu. jah.” And when he came to that word,“ do not forsake us," he burst into tears, and wept much, and an hour after he began to repeat what he had commenced, and we, hearing it, mourned with him. By turns we read, and by turns we wept, nay, we wept always whilst we read. In such joy we passed the days of Lent, till the aforesaid day; and he rejoiced much, and gave God thanks, because he had been thought worthy to be so weakened. He often repeated, “That God scourgeth every son whom he receiveth ;” and much more out of Holy Scripture; as also this sentence from St. Ambrose, “I have not lived so as to be ashamed to live among you; nor do I fear to die, because we have a gracious God.” During these days he laboured to compose two works well worthy to be remembered, besides the lessons we had from him, and singing of Psalms; viz., he translated the Gospel of St. John as far as the words, “ But what are they among so many," &c. [St. John vi. 9), into our own tongue for the benefit of the church; and some collections out of the Book of Notes of Bishop Isidorus, saying: “I will not have my pupils read a falsehood, nor labour therein without profit after my death." When the Tuesday before the ascension of our Lord came, he began to suffer still more in his breath, and a small swelling appeared in his feet; but he passed all that day and dictated cheerfully, and now and then among other things, said, “Go on quickly, I know not how long I shall hold out, and whether my Maker will not soon take me away." But to us he seemed very well to know the time of his departure. And so he spent the night, awake, in thanksgiving; and when the morning appeared, that is, Wednesday, he ordered us to write with all speed what he had begun ; and this done, we walked till the third hour with the relics of saints, according to the custom of that day. There was one of us with him, who said to him, "Most dear master, there is still one chapter wanting : do you think it troublesome to be asked any more questions?" He answered, “ It is no trouble. Take your pen, and make ready, and write fast.” Which he did, but at the ninth hour he said to me, “I have some little articles of value in my chest, such as pepper, napkins, and incense : run quickly, and bring the priests of our monastery to me, that I may distribute among them the gifts which God has bestowed on me. The rich in this world are bent on giving gold and silver and other precious things. But I, in charity, will joyfully give my brothers what God has given unto me.” He spoke to every one of them, admonishing and entreating them that they would carefully say
CUTHBERT'S LETTER ON THE DEATH OF VENERABLE
BEDE. To his fellow-reader Cuthwin, beloved in Christ, Cuthbert, his schoolfellow; health for ever in the Lord. I have received with much pleasure the small present which you sent me, and with much satisfaction read the letters of your devout erudition; wherein I found that masses and holy prayers are diligently celebrated by you for our father and master, Bede, whom God loved : this was what I principally desired, and therefore it is more pleasing, for the love of him (according to my capacity), in a few words to relate in what manner he departed this world, understanding that you also desire and ask the same. He was much troubled with shortness of breath, yet without pain, before the day of our Lord's resurrection, that is, about a fortnight, and thus he afterwards passed his life, cheerful and rejoicing, giving thanks to Almighty God every day and night, nay, every hour, till the day of our Lord's ascension, that is, the seventh before the kalends of June (twenty-sixth of May), and daily read lessons to us his disciples, and whatever remained of the day, he spent in singing psalms; he also passed all the night awake, in joy and thanksgiving, unless a short sleep prevented it; in which case he no sooner awoke than he presently repeated his wonted exercises, and ceased not to give thanks to God with uplifted hands. I declare with truth, that I have never seen with my eyes, nor heard with my ears, any man so earnest in giving thanks to the living God.
1 “In this grave are the bones of the Venerable Bede."