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dream, and soon added much more to the same effect in verse worthy of the Deity.

In the morning he came to the steward, his superior, and having acquainted him with the gift he had received, was conducted to the Abbess, by whom he was ordered, in the presence of many learned men, to tell his dream and repeat the verses, that they might all give their judgment what it was and whence his verse proceeded. They all concluded that heavenly grace had been conferred on him by our Lord. They expounded to him a passage in Holy Writ, either historical or doctrinal, ordering him, if he could, to put the same into verse. Having undertaken it, he went away, and returning the next morning, gave it to them composed in most excellent verse; whereupon the Abbess, embracing the grace of God in the man, instructed him to quit the secular habit and to take upon him the monastic life; which being accordingly done, she associated him to the rest of the brethren in her monastery and ordered that he should be taught the whole series of sacred history. Thus Cædmon, keeping in mind all he heard, and as it were chewing the cud, converted the same into most harmonious verse; and sweetly repeating the same, made his masters, in their turn, his hearers. He sang the Creation of the World, the origin of Man, and all the history of Genesis ; and

made many verses on the departare of the children of Israel out of Egypt, and their entering into the land of promise, with many other histories from Holy Writ; the Incarnation, Passion, Resurrection of our Lord and his Ascension into heaven; the coming of the Holy Ghost and the preaching of the Apostles; also, the terror of future Judgment, the horror of the pains of Hell, and the delights of Heaven ; besides many more about the Divine benefits and judgments by which he endeavoured to turn away all men from the love of vice and to excite in them the love of, and application to, good actions; for he was a very religious man and humbly submissive to regular discipline, but full of zeal against those who behaved themselves otherwise ; for which reason he ended his life happily.

For when the time for his departure drew near, he laboured for the space of fourteen days under a bodily infirmity which seemed to prepare the way ; yet so moderate that he could talk and walk the whole time. In his neighbourhood was the house to which those that were sick and shortly likely to die were carried. He desired the person that attended him, in the evening as the night came on in which he was to depart this life, to make ready a place there for him to take his rest. This person, wondering why he should desire it, because there was as

yet no sign of his dying soon, did what he had ordered. He accordingly went there, and conversing pleasantly in a joyful manner with the rest that were in the house before, when it was passed midnight, he asked them. Whether they had the Holy Eucharist there?' They answered, 'What need of the Eucharist, for you are not likely to die since you talk so merrily with us, as if you were in perfect health?' 'However,' said he, ‘bring me the Eucharist.' Having received the same into his hand, he asked, whether they were all in charity with him and without any enmity or rancour? They answered, that they were all in perfect charity and free from anger; and in their turn, asked him whether he was in the same mind towards them? He answered, “I am in charity, my children, with all the servants of God.' Then strengthening himself with the heavenly viaticum, he prepared for the entrance into another life, and asked how near the time was when the brothers were to be awakened to sing the nocturnal praises of our Lord. They answered, • It is not far off.' Then he said, “Well, let us wait that hour'; and signing himself with the sign of the Cross, he laid his head on the pillow and, falling into a slumber, ended his life so in silence.

Thus it came to pass, that as he had served God with a simple and pure mind and undisturbed devo

tion, so he now departed to His presence, leaving the world by a quiet death ; and that tongue which had composed so many holy words in praise of the Creator, uttered its last words whilst he was in the act of signing himself with the Cross, and recommending himself into His hands; and by what has been here said he seems to have had foreknowledge of his death.”.

Such is the remarkable account of the “Coming of Cædmon preserved in the writings of the ablest and most trustworthy historian of the Anglo-Saxon


The historical truth of this account, however, and even the

existence of

such name as

Cædmon " have been called in question by at least one eminent English archæologist.* These and similar questions, although highly interesting to the antiquary, are in no sense of vital importance to the modern student of literature. Whether any such poet as Homer or as Shakespeare ever lived, or even if they did live, whether they wrote the works commonly attributed to them, are not matters of prime importance. The fact of the existence of these immortal works is amply sufficient, and although we should like to know somewhat of the life, the character, and the surroundings of the men who so largely

* Vide Note G.

contribute to our intellectual pleasure, yet, happily, our mental gratification is not limited by the possession of a knowledge of these facts.

It is so in the case of Cædmon. The poem exists, and from internal evidence can be proved to belong to the early days of Anglo-Saxon Christianity; and whether Beda's account is strictly historical, or whether such a ceorl as Cædmon ever lived, are questions of little if of any moment.

At the same time, we are not left entirely in the dark as to these mooted questions. With regard to Beda's narrative we have prima facie evidence that the historian received it directly from some one of the members of the celebrated double monastery at Whitby, where Cadmon is stated to have lived and died. According to Beda's chronology, which cannot be gainsaid, Cædmon must have been living while the future historian was a child ; and the monastery in which Beda was reared and educated, being situated in the same section of the country as the lady Hilda's, viz., in Northumbria, must have had intimate relations with the latter. In this way, the traditions of one monastery would naturally be known, (and known in their original setting,) to the inmates of the neighbouring monastery.

The story of Cædmon's miraculously discovered gifts as a poet, which formed part of the legendary

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