« AnteriorContinuar »
tradition: and there seems really to have been early station was in the Hebrides, upon the rocky island preaching of Christianity here, if the remote Britain of Iona, which has an area of 1,300 Scotch acres, were not used as a mere figure of rhetoric. Origen, and lies off the south-western extremity of the speaking in the earlier half of the third century, said | island of Mull. After him it was called (Ionathat "the power of the Saviour's kingdom ieached as Columb-kill) Icolmkill; and the religious community far as Britain, which seemed to be another division of there gathered by him, at first rudely housed, became the world.” Old tradition ascribed to a king Lucius, the head-quarters of religious energy for the converwho died in the year 201, the building of our first sion of North Britain, the missionaries being devout church on the site of St. Martin's at Canterbury. | native Celts, gifted with all the bold enthusiasm of Britons are said to have died for the Christian faith; their race, who were in relation rather with the and Alban, said to have been beheaded A.D. 305 near Eastern than the Western Church. the town now named after him St. Alban's, is de The English settlers in Northumbria were Chrisscribed as the first British martyr. Three British tianised by a Celtic priest, said to have been a son bishops, one being from York and two from London, of Urien, who was educated at Rome, and took were at the first Council of Arles, A.D. 314. Some the name of Paulinus. But he and his fellowof our bishops had come to the remote west as pious missionaries promised temporal advantage to their missionaries, others were Celtic converts. One of converts, and when in the year 633 they suffered a these teachers, Morgan, who translated his name i serious defeat in battle, these fiercely cast off their
into Pelagius (meaning “born by the sea-shore”), new creed, and Paulinus fled from them. Then and who was an old man in the year 404, ventured help was asked from the followers of Columba. The on independent speculations that found not a few first man who was sent out from Iona returned followers, and gave for a long time afterwards much hopeless; but they were strenuous workers at Iona, trouble to the orthodox. To combat Pelagianism, who would not accept failure. Another, Aidan, and add to the number of converts from the heathen, I took the place of his more faint-hearted brother, and two bishops from Gaul, Germanus and Lupus, came formed in an island on the Northumbrian coast a as successful missionaries into Britain in the year missionary station upon the pattern of that in the 429. Patricius, known as St. Patrick, is said to Hebrides. This was at Lindisfarne, chief of the have been born of a Christian family at Kilpatrick, Farn Islands, named from the Lindi, a rivulet there near Dumbarton, in the year 372, and to have been entering the sea. Lindisfarne is a little more than ordained priest by Germanus before his preaching two miles across from east to west, and scarcely a among the Irish Gaels.
mile and a half from north to south, attached at low There were then scattered among the people of water as a peninsula to the coast, from which it is Ireland and Scotland devoted men of their own about two miles distant. It belongs to Durham, race, known as Culdees, servants and worshippers of although really part of Northumberland, and is God, who were engaged in diffusing Christianity. about nine miles from Berwick-on-Tweed. The Patrick added to the energy of the work done by island is treeless, chiefly covered with sand, rising these men in Ireland. It was an Irish abbot. to a rocky shore on the north and east. The fertile ('olumba, who in the year 563 passed into Scotland, ground in it is not more than enough for one farm. and from the age of about forty to the age of Here the Culdees established themselves in such seventy-five worked as a Christian missionary on force that the place came to be called Holy Island, the mainland and in the Hebrides. His chief and from this point they worked effectually for the Christianising of the north of England. They fed and, before the Conquest, women also, studied and and comforted the poor, trusting instead of fearing were taught, as Bede says, “the strict observance of the wild men they sought to soften, went up into justice, piety, chastity, and other virtues, and partheir hills to live with them as comrades, and ticularly of peace and love; so that, after the taught religion in a form that blended itself with example of the primitive Church, no person was the spiritual life of man, instead of depending for an outward prosperity on smiles of Fortune. The Culdees prospered in their work, an abbey rose in Lindisfarne, and there was a bishopric established there, which about the year 900, when the Danes ravaged the coast, was removed to Durham.
Aidan died at Lindisfarne in the year 651, and it was he who consecrated the first woman who in Northumbria devoted herself wholly to religious life, and wore the dress of a nun—Heia, who founded the religious house at Herutea. In this she was followed by the abbess Hilda, who is associated with the history of Cædmon's “Paraphrase," the grand religious poem with which our literature opens.
Hilda, daughter of Hereric, nephew to King Æduin, had been one of the converts made by the preaching of Paulinus. Hilda's sister Heresuid, was mother to the king of the East Angles. Hilda went, therefore, into East Anglia, and then designed to follow her sister when she took the religious vow at a monastery in France. But Bishop Aidan summoned Hilda back to the north, and gave her a site for a religious house on the north side of the river Wear. There she was called by Bishop Aidan, in
Ruins OF WHITBY ABBEY. the year 650, a year before his death, to be abbess in the religious house founded by Heia at Herutea,
there rich, and none poor, all things being in common now Hartlepool, Heia then going to another place,
to all, and none having any property. Her pruprobably Tadcaster. Eight years afterwards, when
dence was so great, that not only persons of the Aidan's successor, Finan, was Bishop of Lindisfarne,
middle rank, but even kings and princes, sometimes asked and received her advice. She obliged those who were under her direction to attend so much to the reading of the Holy Scriptures, and to exercise themselves so much in works of justice, that many might very easily be there found fit for ecclesiastical duties, that is, to serve at the altar. In short, we afterwards saw five bishops taken out of that monastery, all of them men of singular merit and sanctity. ... Thus this handmaiden of Christ, Abbess Hilda, whom all that knew her called Mother, for her singular piety and grace, was not only an example of good life to those that lived in her monastery, but gave occasion of salvation and amendment to many who lived at a distance, to whom the happy fame was brought of her industry and virtue." She died in the year 680, after six or seven years of ill-health, at the age of sixty-six, having spent the first half of her life to the age of thirty-three in the secular habit, and devoted the rest wholly to religion.
Cædmon's poem was written in the Whitby monastery during Hilda's rule over it, that is to say, in the time between its foundation, A.D. 658, and her death, A.D. 680. The first buildings on the Whitby cliff were very simple, but in course
of time a more substantial abbey took its place. Hilda left Hartlepool to establish a religious house It was destroyed by the Northmen in the latter half as a new missionary station on the west cliff at of the ninth century, rebuilt, and again destroyed. Whitby, then called Streoneshalh. Presided over The ruins now upon the site first occupied by Abbess by a woman, its first founder, this was a house Hilda are of a rebuilding in which the oldest part established on the pattern of Iona, in which men | is of the twelfth century.
In Hilda's time the servants of God in the could not siny." The other who talked to him, replied, Whitby monastery were actively engaged in the “ Yet you shall sing.” “What shall I sing?" rejoined he. conversion of the surrounding people to Christianity,
“Sing the beginning of created things," said the other. and Cædmon, who seems to have been a tenant of
Having received this answer, he presently began to sing land under them, was one of their first converts.
verses to the praise of God the Creator, which he had never As a convert Zealons for the faith to which he
before heard, the purport whereof was thus:-“We now had been brought, he sat at a rustic feast one day
ought to praise the Maker of the heavenly kingdom, the hearing the songs of heathen war and worship pass
power of the Creator and his counsel, the deeds of the
Father of glory. How He, being the eternal God, became round the table. As the harp came towards him he
the author of all miracles, who first, as almighty preserver rose. The guests coming from distant parts among
of the human race, created heaven for the sons of men as the a widely-scattered population had the cattle that
roof of the house, and next the earth." This is the sense, brought them stabled, and in need of protection
but not the words in order as he sang them in his sleep; for against raids for plunder. They took turns to mount
verses, though never so well composed, cannot be literally guard over their property, and it being then Cadmon's
translated out of one language into another without losing turn, he made that an excuse for leaving his place
much of their beauty and loftiness. Awaking from his sleep, among the guests before he should be asked to sing.
he remembered all that he had sung in his dream, and soon In his mind, as a zealous Christian, would be the wish
added much more to the same effect in verse worthy of the that songs of the mercy of the true God could be Deity. made familiar as these old strains to the lips of his In the morning he came to the steward, his superior, and comrades. He was a true poet, as his afterwork having told him of the gift he had received, was conducted proved, and there might be an impulse in his mind to the abbess, by whom he was bidden, in the presence of that presently shaped itself into a dream as he dozed | many learned men, to tell his dream, and repeat the verses, over his watch; but if so, to the simple faith of those that they might all give their judgment what it was and times the dream would seem to be a revelation of the | whence his verse proceeded. They all concluded, that will of Heaven. Read in that way, the whole story | heavenly grace had been conferred on him by our Lord. of Cædmon, as we have it from Bede, looks like the They explained to him a passage in holy writ, either histori. record of a simple truth that passed for miracle. | cal or doctrinal, ordering him, if he could, to put the same This—written not more than sixty years after the into verse. Having undertaken it, he went away, and poet's death-is Bede's account of the manner of returning the next morning, gave it to them composed in Cadmon's entrance into the monastery under Hilda's
most excellent verse; whereupon the abbess, embracing the rule.
grace of God in the man, instructed him to quit the secular
habit, and take upon him the monastic life; which being BEDE'S ACCOUNT OF CÆDMON.
accordingly donc, she associated him with the rest of the There was in this abbess's monastery a certain brother,
brethren in her monastery, and ordered that he should be
taught the whole series of sacred history. Thus hc, keeping particularly remarkable for the grace of God, who was wont to make pious and religious verses, so that whatever was
in mind all he heard, and as it were, like a clean animal,
chewing the cud, converted the same into most harmonious interpreted to him out of Scripture, he soon after put the same into poetical expressions of much sweetness and feeling,
verse; and sweetly repeating the same, made his masters in
their turn his hearers. He sang the creation of the world, in English, which was his native language. By his verses the minds of many were often excited to despise the world,
the origin of man, and all the history of Genesis ; the depar
ture of the children of Israel out of Egypt, and their entering and to aspire to heaven. Others of the English nation
into the land of promise, with many other histories from attempted after him to compose religious poems, but none could ever compare with him, for he did not learn the art of
holy writ; the incarnation, passion, and resurrection of our
Lord, and his ascension into heaven; the coming of the poetry from man, but being assisted from above he freely received the gift of (iod. For this reason he never could
Holy Ghost, and the preaching of the apostles; also the compose any trivial or vain poem, but only those which
terror of future judgment, the horror of the pains of hell,
and the delights of heaven; besides much more of the divine relate to religion suited his religious tongue; for having
benefits and judgments: by all which he endeavoured to lived in a secular habit till he was well advanced in years, he had never learned anything of versifying; for which
turn men from the love of vice, and to excite in them the reason, being sometimes at entertainments, when it was
love and practice of good actions. For he was a very
religious man, humbly submissive to regular discipline, but agreed for the sake of mirth that all present should sing in their turns, when he saw the harp come towards him, he
full of zeal against those who behaved themselves otherwis;
for which reason he ended his life happily. rose up in the midst of the supper and went home. Having done so at a certain time, and gone out of the
For when the time of his departure drew near, he labourd
for the space of fourteen days under a bodily infirmity house where the entertainment was, to the stables of the
which seemed to prepare the way for him, yet was draught animals, of which the care was entrusted to him for
moderate that he could talk and walk the whole time. Neur that night,' he there composed himself to rest at the proper
at hand was the house into which those were carried who time; a person appeared to him in his sleep, and saluting him
were sick, and likely soon to die. by his name, said, “ Cadmon, sing some song to me."
In the evening, as the He
night came on in which he was to depart this life, he desires) answered, “I cannot sing; for that was the reason why I
the person that attended him to make ready there a restingleft the entertainment, and retired to this place, because I
place for him. This person, wondering why he should dc-inn
it, because there was as yet no sign of his dying soon, vet I "Ad stabula jumentorum quorum ei custodia nocte illa erat
did what he had ordered. Ho accordingly was placed there, delezata." Jumenta are yoked animals--the cattle that had brought the guests to the feast. Yet on this passage the notion has been
and conversing pleasantly in a cheerful manner with the founded that Cædınon was a herdsman,
| others who were in the house before, when it was past midnight, he asked them, whether they had the Eucharist there? | also upon the mount of the congregation, in the They answered, “What need of the Eucharist ? for you are sides of the north. I will ascend above the heights not likely to die, since you talk as cheerily with us as if | of the clouds; I will be like the Most High. Yet you were in perfect health.” — “Nevertheless," said he, thou shalt be brought down to hell, to the sides of “ bring me the Eucharist.” Having received the same into
the pit." St. Jerome seems to have been the first his hand, he asked whether they were all in charity with
who applied this symbolical representation of the him, and without any ill-will or rancour? They answered,
| king of Babylon, in his splendour and his fall, to that they were all in perfect charity, free from all anger;
Satan in his fall from heaven ; probably because and in their turn asked him, whether he was in the same
Babylon is in Scripture a type of tyrannical selfmind towards them? He at once answered, “I am in
idolising power, and is connected in the Book of charity, my children, with all the servants of God.” Then
Revelation with the empire of the Evil One. strengthening himself with the heavenly viaticum, he prepared for the entrance into another life, and asked how near
Cædmon represented Satan as the Angel of Prethe hour was when the brethren were to be roused to sing
sumption holding council with the fallen spirits, and the nocturnal lauds of our Lord ? They answered, “ It is
there are one or two fine thoughts in his poem which not far off.” Then he said, “It is well, let us await that
are to be found afterwards in Milton's treatment of hour;" and signing himself with the sign of the cross, he
the same theme. As the old work was in the hands laid his head on the pillow, and falling into a slumber, so
of Milton's friend Junius for years before “Paradise ended his life in silence.
Lost" appeared, and as Milton included in his epic Thus it came to pass, that as he had served God with thoughts from old poets of Greece, it is not improa simple and pure mind, and quiet devotion, so now he
bable that he also consciously enshrined in it a departed to His presence, leaving the world by a quiet death; thought or two from our first Christian bard, who and that tongue, which had composed so many holy words in was also the greatest of the poets produced in Firstpraise of the Creator, in like manner uttered its last words English times. I translate into blank verse very while he was in the act of signing himself with the cross, literally the opening of Cædmon's Paraphrase :and recommending his spirit into the hands of God. From what has been here said, he would seem to have foreknown
THE OPENING OF CÆDMON'S PARAPHRASE. his own death.
Most right it is that we praise with our words,
Love in our minds, the Warden of the Skies, There is only one known MS. of the metrical
Glorious King of all the hosts of men, First-English Paraphrase of Bible story ascribed to
He speeds the strong, and is the Head of all Cædmon. It was discovered by James Ussher when
His high Creation, the Almighty Lord. he was a young scholar commissioned to hunt for
None formed Him, no first was nor last shall be books wherewith to furnish the library of Trinity
Of the Eternal Ruler, but His sway College, Dublin. The college was then newly founded, Is everlasting over thrones in heaven. and had Ussher among the first three students who With powers on high, soothfast and steadfast, He put their names upon its books. Ussher gave the MS.
Ruled the wide home of heaven's bosom spread —for him unreadable—to Francis Junius, a scholar By God's might for the guardians of souls, known to be active in study of the Northern lan The Sons of Glory. Hosts of angels shone, guages, who was then resident in London as librarian Glad with their Maker ; bright their bliss and rich to the Earl of Arundel, and a familiar friend of The fruitage of their lives; their glory sure, Milton's. Junius recognised in it a large part of They served and praised their King, with joy gave praise the lost work of Cædmon, and it was first printed by To Him, their Life-Lord, in whose aiding care him at Amsterdam in the year 1655. The MS. is They judged themselves most blessed. Sin unknown, a small folio of 229 pages, now in the Bodleian Offence unformed, still with their Parent Lord Library among the collection of his manuscripts They lived in peace, raising aloft in heaven bequeathed by Francis Junius to the University of
Right and truth only, ere the Angel Chief Oxford. The first 212 pages are in a handwriting
Through Pride divided them and led astray. of the tenth century, and adorned with illustrative
Their own well-being they would bear no more, pictures as far as page 96, with spaces for continuing
But cast themselves out of the love of God. the illustrations. From page 213 there is the poem
Great in Presumption against the Most High of Christ and Satan in a later handwriting, with no
They would divide the radiant throng far spread, spaces left for illustrations.
The resting-place of glory. Even there Cædmon's poem begins with the story of Creation,
Pain came to them, Envy and Pride began and joins with it the same legend of the fall of Satan
There first to weave ill counsel and to stir
The minds of angels. Then, athirst for strife, that was joined with it in mediæval times, and used
He said that northward' he would own in Heaven 50 in his “Paradise Lost" by Milton. This was founded on a passage in the fourteenth chapter of Isaiah I Northward .... in Heaven. So also in “Paradise Lost," Bk. v., (verses 12-15), where Israel is to take up the lines 688, 689, Satan says
-“We possess proverb against the king of Babylon: “ How art
The quarters of the north.” thou fallen from heaven, () Lucifer, son of the This, like the rest of the legend, has its source in the passage of morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, Isaiah above referred to: "I will sit also upon the mount of the which didst weaken the nations! For thou hast said
congregation, in the sides of the north.” In the same book of “ Para.
dise Lost,” lines 725, 726, it is said of him that he in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will
- "intends to erect his throne, exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit
Equal to ours, throughout the spacious north."
A home and a high Throne. Then God was wroth,
THE U PREARING OF THE FIRMAMENT. (From the MS. of Cædmon.)
Then was the Spirit gloriously bright
[The story of Creation is continued until God's return to Heaven, after instruction and counsel to Adam and Ere. Then Cadmon proceeds): –
11. But after as before was peace in Heaven, Fair rule of love ; dear unto all, the Lord Of Lords, the King of Hosts to all His own, And glories of the good who possessed joy In heaven, the Almighty Father still increased. Then peace was among dwellers in the sky, Blaming and lawless malice were gone out, And angels feared no more, since plotting foes Who cast off heaven were bereft of light. Their glory seats behind them in God's realm, Enlarged with gifts, stood happy, bright with bloom, But ownerless since the cursed spirits went Wretched to exile within bars of hell. Then thought within His mind the Lord of Hosts How He again might fix within His rule The great creation, thrones of heavenly light High in the heavens for a better band, Since the proud scathers had relinquished them. The holy God, therefore, in His great might Willed that there should be set beneath heaven's span Earth, firmament, wide waves, created world, Replacing foes cast headlong from their home. Here yet was naught save darkness of the cave, The broad abyss, whereon the steadfast king Looked with his eyes and saw that space of gloom, Saw the dark cloud lower in lasting night, Was deep and dim, vain, useless, strange to God,
IV. The Almighty had disposed ten Angel tribes, The Holy Father by His strength of hand, That they whom He well trusted should serve Him And work His will. For that the holy God Gave intellect, and shaped them with His hands. In happiness He placed them, and to one He added prevalence and might of thought, Sway over much, next highest to Himself In Heaven's realm. Him He had wrought so bright That pure as starlight was in heaven the form Which God the Lord of Hosts had given him. Praise to the Lord his work, and cherishing Of heavenly joy, and thankfulness to God