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or to adapt to the service of religion. When he resided as Abbot at Malmesbury, finding that the half-barbarous country people who came to hear divine service were in a great hurry to return home, without paying much attention to the sermon, he used to go and take his seat, with harp in hand, on the bridge over the Avon, and offer to teach the art of singing. Here a crowd soon gathered round him ; and after he had indulged the common taste by singing some trifling song, by degrees he drew them on to more serious matter, and succeeded at last in making them sing David's Psalms to David's strings.
The good service of Aldhelm in this particular is now placed beyond a doubt, by the late discovery of a Saxon version of the Psalms, which seems to have been preserved in an old French monastery, founded by John, Duke of Berri, at Bourges, A.D. 1405. This prince, who was brother to Charles V. king of France, gave the book with many others to his monastery, where it remained without being of much use to the French monks, who thought the old English letters were Hebrew.
But somehow or other, it has escaped all the French revolutions since, and is now in the French king's library at Paris ; from which a copy has lately been taken, and printed by the University of Oxford, A.D. 1835.
The writer who made this copy of the Saxon Psalter was an Englishman, who seems to have lived about A D. 1000. The first fifty of the Psalms are in prose, and the rest in verse. It is likely that the version is altogether Aldhelm's; at least, there is no reason to doubt that the metrical part is his. In one or two places he seems to speak as if he aimed to suit the meaning of the Psalm to the way of worship and customs observed in the monasteries. Thus, in the eighty-fourth Psalm, his version in modern English is nearly this :
Lord, to me Thy minsters are
There the sparrow speeds her home,
Safe their nestling young they rear,
(Ver. 1-5.) Again in the sixty-eighth :
God the word of wisdom gave;
Preachers, who His voice have heard,
Speed the message of that word.
In His house the world's proud spoil,
Cheers the poor wayfarer's toil.
Silver plumes shall you enfold,
Brighter than her back of gold. (Ver. 11-13.)
When Aldhelm wrote, there were no copies of the Hebrew Psalter in England, and in the last of these verses he seems to have mistaken a word in the Greek or Latin version of the Psalms; but in many places, where the meaning is more plain, his verse is both true and full of good poetry, and it is every where marked by a spirit of devotion, breaking forth into words of thankful wonder and praise ; and the mistakes which here and there occur in the sense, are not such as to have taught any false doctrine. The version of the Psalms, therefore, into their own language, and adapted to their own national melody to accompany the harp, was a most valuable gift to the Saxons. The words in the last verse seem here to invite the hearer to take up his abode among God's clerks in a monastery; and in the second to speak of the alms or doles of food and clothing, which the charity of Christians in those days gave away at the gates of religious houses. The words were prompted by the state of religious society at that time.
Again, in some of the Psalms he speaks of the peacestool, or stone seat, which was placed near the altar in some old English churches, as a place of refuge, to which, by King Alfred's laws, if an accused person fled, he was not to be disturbed for seven days. The intention of the law was to give a culprit opportunity to confess his crime to the bishop or clergyman, in which case the fine commonly paid for all offences in Saxon times was mitigated. God,” says this version, Ps. ix. 9, “ is the place of peace to the poor.”
- The Lord God is become my peace-stool : my help is fast fixed and established in the Lord,” Ps. xciv. 22. It can easily be imagined how this way of speaking was suited to the understanding and affections of the people among whom such a custom prevailed.
It is a singular proof of the great eagerness for learning in these days, that Aldhelm had two kings of North Britain for his correspondents, Aldfrid the Wise, as he was called, king of Northumbria, and Arcivil, or Archibald, a king of the Scots ; to whom he sent some of his writings, and
who had sufficient acquirements to value them. He also corresponded with learned men, not only in his own country, but abroad; particularly Cellan, an Irish monk, who lived a hermit’s life in France. He was one of many Saxons who at this time visited Rome; going both from a feeling of devotion, and in pursuit of knowledge. There he became a proficient in the study of the Roman law, and also gained a good acquaintance with the poetry of the Romans, so as to write verses with ease and elegance in their language. This is an art now taught in almost every grammar-school, but it is a great credit to Aldhelm, that he was the first Englishman who mastered it. What is much more to his praise is, that he employed his talents in works designed to set forth the glory of God; and as his mind was enlarged by study and travel, he spoke with deeper feeling of the things in heaven and earth. It is impossible to give the simple force of his verse in modern English metre ; but the following passages may serve as a specimen of his turn of thought:
Where the tempest wakes to wrath
Many waters wide and far,
Loud and high their voices are :
Where the sea-streams swiftest flow;
(Ps. xciii. 3, 4.) As the beacon fire by night,
That the host of Israel led;
Round the good man's dying bed :
'Tis a beacon bright and fair,
It is difficult to speak of him in any other language than that of panegyric, because all feel towards him more than ears can hear, or tongue can utter; for he delivered the
poor when he cried ; the needy, also, and him that had no helper. It has been frequently related of him, that he has said that he could never have borne up against his daily labours, both in mind and body, had it not been for the rest the Sabbath-day afforded him. When a mi. nister of state, a nobleman, one Sunday called upon him for the purpose of arranging some public business, he at once excused himself, saying, that he would wait upon his lordship upon any hour he pleased on the following day, but that he was then going to Church: this was after he had attended the morning service. Did any of his domestics, says one who knew him well, show a ruffled temper, or fall into misconduct, the case was met with pity, rather than resentment, and anxiety was shown to restore the offender, as a sick member, in the spirit of meekness. He was always ready for devotional exercises, and for religious conversation. In short, those who regard him merely as a philanthropist, in the worldly sense of that abused term, know very little of his character; he worked while it was day, remembering that the night was coming, in which no man could work ;
his philanthropy took its origin in love to God, it was kindled at the sacred fire of divine love, and it burned with such bright and steady lustre, only because it was daily reple. nished from its hallowed source ; he was not permitted to leave the scene of his labours until he had beheld the great cause, to which he had dedicated all the energies of his soul, triumphant, and the fetters of the negroes about to be struck off for ever.-W. C. Taylor.
THERE is one mode in which ingenious and aspiring workmen have sometimes raised themselves above the trade they were bred up to; of which we may give a few examples, as it does not imply any violent abandonment of their original occupation, but, on the contrary, arises in some degree naturally out of pursuits into which it has led them. We allude to cases of the mere working mechanic elevating himself into an artist, in a department kindred to that of his first exertions; and cases of the artist himself making his way from a lower to a higher department of his art. Thus, in Italy especially, it has not been uncommon for working goldsmiths, or those of them at least who have been employed in copying designs in the metal, to carry the study of their profession so far as to attain proficiency in the art of design itself; and some individuals, thus educated, have become eminent painters or sculptors. BENVENUTO CELLINI is one instance, who, while serving an apprenticeship to a goldsmith, acquired a knowledge not only of chasing, but also of drawing, engraving, and statuary, and afterwards became one of the greatest sculptors of his age ; and several others might be mentioned. Workers in gold and silver, however, are not the only sort of smiths who have in this way attained to a proficiency in the fine arts. The old Dutch painter, QUINTIN MATSYS, was originally a blacksmith and farrier, on which account he is often called the Blacksmith of Antwerp, the town where he pursued this humble vocation. Having, when a young man, been attacked by a disorder which left him too much debilitated to return to the heavier work of his trade, which was his only means of support for himself and a widowed mother, he was forced to turn his attention to the fabrication of such light and ornamental articles as it was then fashionable to construct of wrought iron; and he obtained considerable reputation, in particular, by an inclosure and covering of this description, which he made for a well in the neighbourhood of the great church at Antwerp. He began, however, at length, to find even such work as this too laborious ; and was in great difficulties as to what he should do, when the thought occurred to him, or rather