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Anglo-Saxon Literature By John Earle Characters: 32535

Updated: 2017-11-30 00:05

While Canterbury was so important a seminary of learning, there was, in the Anglian region of Northumbria, a development of religious and intellectual life which makes it natural to regard the whole brilliant era from the later seventh to the early ninth century as "The Anglian Period." Not only did the greatest school of the whole island grow up at York, but also one that, with its important library, was for the time the most active and useful in the whole of Western Europe.

The importance of the Anglian period consists in the fact that it belongs not merely to one nation, but that Anglia became for a century the light-spot of European history; and that here we recognise the first great stage in the revival of learning, and the first movement towards the establishment of public order in things temporal and spiritual. Happily, the period stands out in a good historical light, and the chief elements of its influence are finely exhibited in the persons of representative men or representative groups.

There is Paulinus, the fugitive missionary from Kent, who made the first rapid evangelisation of the northern country; King Edwin and his court form a well-displayed group between the old darkness and the coming light, as they consult and compare the two; Oswald, returning from exile to be king, and bringing with him the Scotian type of Christianity; Aidan, the first Scotian bishop of Lindisfarne, and the model of pastors; Wilfrid, the champion of Roman unity, confronting Colman at the synod of Whitby before Oswy, the presiding king, on the absorbing question of the time; Wilfrid appealing to Rome against Theodore; and yet again, Wilfrid, the first Anglo-Saxon missionary; Biscop Baducing (Benedict Biscop), the founder of abbeys, the traveller, the introducer of arts from abroad; C?dmon, the cowherd, the divinely-inspired singer and the father of a school of English poetry; Cuthberht, the shepherd-boy, abbot, bishop, hermit, and finally the national saint of Northumbria; Willebrord and the two Hewalds, and all the glorious band of missionaries and martyrs; Winfrid (Boniface), the crown of them all, apostle of Germany, and martyr; Beda, the teacher and historian; Ecgberct and Alberct, successively archbishops of York, acknowledged presidents of Western learning; Alcuin, the bearer of Anglian learning to the Franks, and the organiser of schools for the future ages.

After Aldhelm, the first Englishman who appeared as an author was ?ddi, better known as Eddius Stephanus. He was the friend and companion of Wilfrid in his contentions and troubles, and, after his death, he wrote a biography of him in Latin. This book is of great value as an authority, and as illustrating the history of the later seventh and early eighth century. Wilfrid died in 709, the same year as Aldhelm.

Wilfrid was the master-spirit of this age. He represented the best aims of his nation; he understood the needs of the time; he worked for them, and he suffered for them. With an overbearing spirit, fantastic too often in his conduct, he saw what was needed-he saw the necessity for unity with Rome. This was a necessity, not for one country alone, but for the whole West at that time. Protestant writers have looked at Wilfrid through a distorting medium. Nowhere, perhaps, is there more need to allow for difference of times than in estimating Wilfrid. He had great faults; he quarrelled with the best men; but, on the other hand, Theodore, the most important of all his adversaries, sought reconciliation at last, and accused himself of injustice. Wilfrid initiated the German missions; he impressed on that great field of Saxon activity the policy of his agitated life, and that policy was ever militant in Boniface, the chief apostle of Germany, and may be said to have triumphed when the Roman Empire was renewed in harmony with the Holy See, and Charles was crowned in 800. Wilfrid, more than any other man, appears as the ideal representative of that varied influence, religious, literary, political, which the Anglo-Saxon Church exercised upon the Western world.

The beginning of our vernacular literature, so far as it can be treated chronologically, lies between the years 658 and 680. For these are the years of the abbacy of Hild at Whitby, and it was in her time that C?dmon appeared, who had received the gift of divine song in a vision of the night. When this heavenly call was recognised, the herdsman became a brother of the religious fraternity, and devoted his life to the pursuit of sacred poetry. To the lover of the mother tongue it must appear a singular felicity that C?dmon's first hymn is preserved in a book that was written not much more than half-a-century after his death.64

Nu scylun hergan

hefaenricaes uard,

metud?s maecti

end his modgidanc;

uerc uuldurfadur;

sue he uundra gihuaes,

eci dryctin,

or astelid?.

He aerist scop

aelda barnum

heben til hrofe,

halig scepen;

tha middungeard

moncynn?s uard,

eci dryctin,

?fter tiad?

firum foldan

frea allmectig.

Now shall we glorify

the guardian of heaven's realm,

the Maker's might

and the thought of his mind;

the work of the glory-father,

how He of every wonder,

He the Lord eternal

laid the foundation.

He shapèd erst

for the sons of men,

heaven their roof,

holy Creator;

the middle world he,

mankind's sovereign,

eternal captain,

afterwards created,

the land for men

Lord Almighty.65

Beda was born in 672, in the neighbourhood of Wearmouth, two years before Biscop founded an abbey there. Of this abbey Beda became an inmate in his seventh year, under Abbot Biscop. He was afterwards moved to the sister foundation at Jarrow, under Abbot Ceolfrid, and there he lived, with rare absences, the remainder of his life. He was ordained deacon at the early age of nineteen; in his thirtieth year he was ordained priest; he died in his sixty-third year, A.D. 735. He was a very prolific author, and he has left us, at the end of his most considerable work, a sketch of his life, and a list of his writings, down to the fifty-ninth year of his age, A.D. 731. The bulk of his works are theological, chiefly in the form of commentaries, and they are little more than extracts from the best known of the Fathers. This was adapted to the needs of the time, and Bede's commentaries were held in great esteem during the whole period. ?lfric, in the tenth century, used them largely for his "Homilies."

Of all Bede's works, the chronological made the greatest immediate impression, and was of most general use at the time and for some centuries afterwards. The computation of Easter was the groundwork of the ecclesiastical year, and every church felt the benefit of his services. Chronology was then in its early maturity, and the Christian era was not yet a familiar method of reckoning. Bede was the first historian who arranged his materials according to the years from the Incarnation. He had made himself completely master of this subject, and he left it in such order that nothing more had to be done to it, or could be improved upon it, for many centuries.

His fullest and most detailed work on chronology is entitled "De Temporum Ratione," and to this is added a chronicle of the world. On this elaborate work he was working down to A.D. 726. We have the authority of Ideler for saying that this is a complete guide to the calculation of times and festivals. He treats of the several divisions of time; and under the months, he speaks of the moon's orbit (c. xvii.), and its importance for the calendar, and the relation of the moon to the tides (c. xxix.); then of the equinoxes and solstices, the varying length of the days, the seasons of the year, the intercalary day, the cycle of nineteen years, the reckoning Anno Domini (c. xlvii.), indictions, epacts, the determination of Easter. All these things are taught with theoretical thoroughness, as well as also in their practical application. He also (c. lxv.) made a table for Easter from A.D. 532, "when Dionysius began the first cycle," to A.D. 1063.66 This is followed by the "Chronicle or Six Ages of this World," altogether a work that was a growing nucleus, and went on expanding down to the invention of printing and the revival of classical literature.

But the works on which his eminence permanently rests, and by which he made all posterity indebted to him, are his historical and biographical writings. He wrote a poem on the miracles of St. Cuthbert, and afterwards he wrote a prose narrative "Of the Life and Miracles of St. Cuthbert, Bishop of Lindisfarne;" and in this, though a new and independent work, something of the poem is reproduced. It is in this prose work that we find the call of Cuthbert on the night of Aidan's death, the details of his hermit life on the rocky islet of Farne, to which he had retired for greater rigour of devotion, from which he was called back to be bishop at Lindisfarne, and to which after two years' episcopate he again retired for the remnant of his life.

He wrote also a prose life of St. Felix, drawing his materials from the metrical life of that saint in hexameters by Paulinus.

His greatest biographical work is "Lives of the Abbots of Wearmouth and Jarrow, namely, Benedict, Ceolfrid, Easterwini, Sigfrid, and Hwetbert." These were the heads of the two sister foundations with which his career was identified; and some of them had been his own teachers. The Life of Benedict is the most interesting, as might be expected, and it fills the largest part of the book.

Finally, his greatest work, the work which is a gift for all time, is his "Church History of the Anglian People." This was the work of the author's mature powers, and some of his earlier writings are made use of in it. In this history, which is divided into five books, there is, first, a summary of the history of Britain, from the time of Julius C?sar down to the time of Gregory the Great. This part occupies twenty-two chapters, and is drawn from Orosius and Gildas and Constantius. The proper narrative of Bede begins at chap. xxiii., and there the conversion and early history of Saxon Christianity is given down to the time of the restoration of the old church of St. Saviour (Canterbury Cathedral), and the institution of the monastery of SS. Peter and Paul (St. Augustine's). The last chapter is of the decisive battle of Degsastan, which determined the superiority of the Angles over the Scotti. The second book begins with the death of Gregory and goes down to the death of ?duini, King of Northumbria, A.D. 633. In this book occurs a remarkable speech made by one of ?duini's nobles, in the debate about a change of religion:-

"The present life of man in the world, O king, is, by comparison with that time which is unknown, like as when you are sitting at table with your aldermen and thanes in the winter season, the fire blazing in the midst, and the hall cheerfully warm, while the whirlwinds rage everywhere outside and drive the rain or the snow; one of the sparrows comes in and flies swiftly through the house, entering at one door and out at the other. So long as it is inside, it is sheltered from the storm, but when the brief momentary calm is past, the bird is in the cold as before, and is no more seen. So this human life is visible for a time: but of what follows or what went before we are utterly ignorant. Wherefore, if this new doctrine should offer anything surer, it seems worthy to be followed." (ii., 13.)

The third book goes down to the appointment of Theodore to be Archbishop of Canterbury, A.D. 665.

This book contains the decision for Roman unity, and the defeat and departure of Colman and his Scotian clergy. Bede was a hearty adherent of the Roman obedience, and his affectionate tribute to the work of the Irish is all the more remarkable. He pauses upon the record of their departure as upon the close of a good time that had been, and to which he looks wistfully back.

"The great frugality and content of him and his predecessors was witnessed by the very place they ruled; for at their departure there were very few buildings besides the church; just what civilised life absolutely requires, and no more. Their only capital was their cattle; for if rich men gave them money, they presently gave it to the poor. Of funds and halls for entertaining the worldly great they had no need, as such personages never came but to pray and hear the word of God. The King himself, when occasion required, would come with just five or six thanes, and after prayer in church would depart; and if it chanced they took refreshment there, they were content with just the simple every-day fare of the brothers, and wanted nothing better. For at that time those teachers made it their entire business to serve not the world but God, and their whole care to cherish not the belly but the heart. And consequently the religious garb was at that time in great veneration; so much so that, wherever a cleric or a monk arrived, he was joyfully received by all as the servant of God. Even upon the road, if one were found travelling, they would run to him, and bend the head, and rejoice if he signed them with the cross, or uttered a blessing; at the same time they gave careful attention to their words of exhortation. Moreover, on Sundays they would race to the church or the monasteries, not to refresh the body, but to hear God's word; and if one of the priests happened to come to a village, the villagers were quickly assembled, and were wanting to hear from him the word of life. And, indeed, the priests on their part or the clerics had no other object in going to the villages but for preaching, baptising, visiting the sick, and in a word for the care of souls; being so entirely purged from all infection of avarice, that none accepted lands and possessions for building monasteries unless compelled to do so by secular lords. Such conduct was maintained in the Northumbrian churches for some time after this date. But I have said enough." (iii., 26.)

The fourth book goes down to the death, A.D. 687, of the saint of whom Bede had previously written, both in verse and in prose, the Saint of Northumbria, St. Cuthbert.

This book contains another passage to show that Bede looked wistfully back to a blessed time that had been, and for which he was born too late. He has been speaking of Theodore and Hadrian, and he is about to speak of Wilfrid and ?ddi, when he thus breaks out:-"Never, never, since the Angles came to Britain, were there happier times; brave and Christian kings held all barbarians in awe; the universal ambition was for those heavenly joys of which men had recently heard; and all who desired to be instructed in sacred learning had masters ready to teach them." (iv., 2.)

This book also contains the history of C?dmon, which is perhaps the most frequently quoted piece of all Bede's writings:-

"In the monastery of this abbess [Hild], there was a certain brother, eminently distinguished by divine grace, for he was wont to make songs fit for religion and piety, so that, whatever he learnt out of Scripture by means of interpreters, this he would after a time produce in his own, that is to say, the Angles' tongue, with poetical words, composed with perfect sweetness and feeling. By this man's songs often the minds of many were kindled to contempt of the world and desire for the celestial life. Moreover, others after him in the nation of the Angles tried to make religious poems, but no one was able to equal him. For he learnt the art of singing not from men, nor through any man's instructions, but he received the gift of singing unacquired and by divine help. Wherefore he could never make any frivolous or unprofitable poem, but those things only which pertain to religion were fit themes for his religious tongue. During his secular life, which continued up to the time of advanced age, he had never learnt any songs. And, therefore, sometimes at a feast, when for merriment sake it was agreed that all should sing in turn, he, when he saw that the harp was nearing him, would rise from his unfinished supper and go quietly away to his own home." (iv., 24.)

On one

occasion, when this had happened, he went, not to his home, but to the cattle sheds, to rest, because it was his turn to do so that night. In his sleep one appeared to him and bade him sing. He pleaded inability, but the command was repeated. "What then," he asked, "must I sing?" He was told he must sing of the beginning of created things. Then he sang a Hymn of Creation, and this hymn he remembered when he was risen from sleep, and it was the proof of his divine vocation. The hymn was preserved in Latin as well as in the original; and both have been quoted above. The poems which he subsequently wrote are thus described:-

"He sang of the creation of the world and the origin of the human race, and the whole story of Genesis, of Israel's departure out of Egypt and entrance into the land of promise, of many other parts of the sacred history, of the Lord's Incarnation, Passion, Resurrection, and Ascension into Heaven, of the coming of the Holy Spirit, and the doctrine of the Apostles. Likewise of the terror of judgment to come, and the awful punishment of hell, and the bliss of the heavenly kingdom, he made many poems; many others also concerning divine benefits and judgments, in all which he sought to wean men from the love of sin, and stimulate them to the enjoyment and pursuit of good action."

The fifth and last book contains a survey of the condition of the national Church down to 731, within about four years of the author's death.

Books of his on the technicalities of literature are a tract on "Orthography," another "On the Metric Art," also a book "On Figures and Tropes of Holy Scripture." Least esteemed have been his poetical compositions, some of which have been suffered to perish. The poem on the "Miracles of St. Cuthberht" is extant, but the "Book of Hymns in Various Metre or Rhythm" is lost, and so also is his "Book of Epigrams in Heroic or Elegiac Metre." But we are not left without an authentic specimen of his hymnody, as he has incorporated in his history the Hymn of Virginity in praise of Queen Ethelthrye, the foundress of Ely. His extant poetry proves him to have been an accomplished scholar and a man of cultivated taste rather than of poetic genius. But we could afford to lose many Latin poems in consideration of the slightest vernacular effort of such a man.

Many manuscripts of the "Ecclesiastical History" contain a letter by one Cuthbert to his fellow-student Cuthwine, describing the manner of Bede's death. In this letter is contained a pious ditty in the vernacular, which Bede, who was "learned in our native songs," composed at the time when he was contemplating the approach of his own dissolution.

Fore there neidfarae

n?nig ni uurthit

thonc snoturra

than him tharf sie

to ymbhycggannae,

aer his him iongae,

huaet his gastae

godaes aeththa yflaes

aefter deothdaege

doemid uueorthae.

Before the need-journey

no one is ever

more wise in thought

than he ought,

to contemplate

ere his going hence

what to his soul

of good or of evil

after death-day

deemed will be.67

Other remains in the Northumbrian dialect are the Runic inscription on the Ruthwell Cross, for which the reader is referred to Professor Stephens's "Old Northern Runic Monuments of Scandinavia and England," vol. i., p. 405; also the interlinear glosses in the Lindisfarne Gospels, and in the Durham Ritual. For fuller information on these glosses I must refer the reader to Professor Skeat's Gospels "in Anglo-Saxon and Northumbrian Versions Synoptically Arranged;" and more especially to his preface in the concluding volume, which contains the fourth Gospel. The Psalter, which was published by the Surtees Society as Northumbrian, is now judged to be Kentish; but that volume contains, besides, an "Early English Psalter," which presents a later phase of the Northumbrian dialect.

The poetical works which now bear C?dmon's name received that name from Junius, the first editor, in 1655, on the ground of the general agreement of the subjects with Bede's description of C?dmon's works. In this book we find a first part containing the most prominent narratives from the books of Genesis, Exodus, and Daniel; and a second part containing the Descent of Christ into Hades and the delivery of the patriarchs from their captivity, according to the apocryphal Gospel of Nicodemus and the constant legend of the Middle Ages. This comprises a kind of Paradise Lost and Paradise Regained. Of all this, the part which has attracted most notice is a part of which the materials are found neither in Scripture nor in any known Apocrypha. The nearest approximation yet indicated is in the hexameters of Avitus, described above.68 This problematical part describes the Fall of Man as the sequel of the Fall of the Angels, substantially running on the same lines as Milton's famous treatment of the same subject. It has often been surmised that Milton may have known of C?dmon through Junius, and that this knowledge may have affected the cast of his great poem as well as suggested some of his most famous touches.69

The precipitation is thus described:-

329. w?ron tha befeallene

fyre to botme

on tha hatan hell

thurh hygeleaste

and thurh ofermetto.

Sohten other land

th?t w?s leohtes leas

and w?s liges full

fyres f?r micel.

So were they felled

to the fiery abyss

into the hot hell

through heedlessness

and through arrogance.

They arrived at another land

that was void of light

and was full of flame

fire's horror huge.70

When the fallen angel speaks, he begins thus:-

355. Is thes ?nga stede

ungelic swithe

tham othrum

the we ?r cuthon

heah on heofenrice

the me min hearra onlag.

This confined place

is terribly unlike

that other one

that we knew before

high in heaven's realm

which my lord conferred on me.

Having thus begun with a lamentable cry, he gradually recovers composure and propounds a policy. He observes that God has created a new and happy being, who is destined to inherit the glory which he and his have lost:-

394. He h?fth nu gemearcod anne middangeard

th?r he h?fth mon geworhtne

?fter his onlicnesse;

mid tham he wile eft gesettan

heofena rice, mid hluttrum saulum.

We th?s sculon hycgan georne,

th?t we on Adame

gif we ?fre m?gen,

and on his eafram swa some

andan gebetan.

He hath now designed a middle world

where He man hath made,

after His likeness:-

with which He will repeople

heaven's realm, with stainless souls.

We must thereto give careful heed

that we on Adam

if we ever may

and on his offspring likewise

our harm redress.

The way proposed is by inducing them to displease their Maker, and then they will be banished to the same place and become the slaves of Satan and his angels. A messenger is required:-

409. Gif ic ?nigum thegne

theoden madmas

geara forgeafe

thenden we on than godan rice

ges?lige s?ton

and h?fdon ure setla geweald,

thonne heme na on leofrantid

leanum ne meahte

mine gife gyldan.

Gif his gien wolde

minra thegna hwilc

gethafa wurthan

th?t he up heonon

ute mihte

cuman thurh thas clustro

and h?fde cr?ft mid him

th?t he mid fetherhoman

fleogan meahte

windan on wolcne

th?r geworht stondath

Adam and Eve

on eorth rice

mid welan bewunden.

and we synd aworpene hider

on thas deopan dalo.

If I to any thane

lordly treasures

in former times have given,

while we in the good realm

all blissful sate,

and had sway of our mansions:-

at no more acceptable time

could he ever with value

my bounty requite.

If now for this purpose

any one of my thanes

would himself volunteer

that he from here upward

and outward might go,

might come through these barriers

and strength in him had

that with raiment of feather

his flight could take

to whirl on the welkin

where the new work is standing

Adam and Eve

in the earthly realm

with wealth surrounded-

and we are cast away hither

into these deep dales!

Satan rages not so much on account of his own loss as for their gain. If they could only be ruined by the wrath of God, he declares he could be at ease even in the midst of woes; and whoever would achieve this he will reward to his utmost, and give him a seat by his side. Presently we come to the accoutring of the emissary:-

442. Angan hine tha gyrwan

Godes andsaca

fus on fr?twum:

h?fde fr?cne hyge.

H?leth helm on heafod asette

and thone full hearde geband,

spenn mid spangum.

Wiste him spr?ca fela

wora worda.

Began him then t' equip

th' antagonist of God,

prompt in harness:-

he had a guileful mind.

A magic helm on head he set,

he bound it hard and tight,

braced it with buckles.

Speeches many wist he well,

crooked words.

He takes wing and rises in air; and then comes a passage like Milton:-

Swang th?t fyr on twa

feondes cr?fte.

he dashed the fire in two

with fiendish craft.71

Arrived at the garden he takes the shape of a serpent, and winds himself round the forbidden tree. The description recalls the familiar picture so vividly that we cannot doubt the same picture was before the eyes of children in the Saxon period as now. He takes some of the fruit and finds Adam, and addresses him in a speech. He gives a na?ve reason why he is sent:-

507. Brade synd on worulde

grene geardas,

and God siteth

on tham hehstan

heofna rice

ufan. Alwalda

nele tha earfethu

sylfa habban

that he on thisne sith fare,

gumena drihten:-

ac he his gingran sent

to thinre spr?ce.

Broad are in the world

the green plains,

and God sitteth

in the highest

heavenly realm

above. The Almighty

will not the trouble

himself have,

that He should on this journey fare,

the Lord of men:-

but He sends his deputy

to speak with thee.

These poems are surrounded by interesting questions which it is barely possible here to indicate. Upon the top of the discussion about Milton, which is not by any means exhausted, there comes a much larger and wider field of inquiry as to the relation existing between this Miltonic part (if I may so speak) and the Old Saxon poem of the "Heliand." The investigation has been admirably started by Mr. Edouard Sievers in a little book containing this portion of the text, and exhibiting in detail the peculiar intimacy of relation between it and the "Heliand," in regard to vocabulary, phraseology, and versification. This part of Mr. Sievers' work is complete. Probably no one who has gone through his proofs will be found to question his conclusion, that there is between the "Heliand" and the Saxon "Paradise Lost" such an identity as isolates those two works from all other literature, and makes it necessary to trace them to one source. What remains is only to determine the order of their affiliation. His theory is that our "C?dmon" contains a large insertion which has been borrowed, not, of course, from the "Heliand," because the "Heliand" is a poem solely on the Gospel history, but from a sister poem to the "Heliand," a corresponding poem on the Old Testament. Professor George Stephens, of Copenhagen, offered a simpler explanation. He supposed that our piece is a purely domestic remnant of that school of English poetry which Bede described, and that the "Heliand" is a continental offspring of the same school, being a monument of the poetic culture which was planted along the borders of the Rhine by the Anglo-Saxon missionaries.

Alcuin's name connects the Anglian period with the great Frankish revival of literature under Charlemagne. And as he bears a prominent part in the establishment of literature in its next European seat, so also he had the grief of witnessing the earlier stages of that devastation which extinguished the light in his own country. This is how he writes on hearing of the invasion of Lindisfarne by the northern rovers in 793, to Bishop Hugibald and the monks of Lindisfarne:-

"As your beloved society was wont to delight me when I was with you, so does the report of your tribulation sadden me continually now that I am absent from you. How have the heathen defiled the sanctuaries of God, and shed the blood of the saints round about the altar. They have laid waste the dwelling-place of our hope; they have trodden down the bodies of the saints in the temple of God like mire in the street. What can I say? I can only lament in my heart with you before the altar of Christ, and say: Spare, Lord, spare Thy people, and give not Thy heritage to the heathen, lest the pagans say, Where is the God of the Christians? What confidence is there for the churches of Britain if Saint Cuthbert, with so great a company of saints, defends not his own? Either this is the beginning of a greater sorrow, or the sins of the people have brought this upon them."72

Thus we have arrived at the verge of that catastrophe which closes for ever the singular greatness of Anglia. Charles brought learning to France by drawing from Anglia and from Italy the best plants for his new field; he inherited the civilising labours of the Saxon missionaries in his dominions beyond the Rhine; he founded a centre of power and a centre of education together; and France remained the chief seat of learning throughout the Middle Ages.73 The glory of a European position in literature can no longer be claimed for England. Through the remainder of our narrative we must be content with a provincial sphere; and our compensation must be found in the fact that the vernacular element is all the more freely developed.

64 In the famous manuscript of the "Ecclesiastical History" of Bede, which is commonly known as the Moore manuscript, because it passed with the library of Bishop Moore (Ely) to the University of Cambridge, is in a hand which is thought to be as old as the time of Bede, who died in 735.

65 Bede gives the "sense" of this first hymn as follows:-"Nunc laudare debemus auctorem regni caelestis, potentiam creatoris et consilium illius, facta patris gloriae; quomodo ille, cum sit aeternus deus, omnium miraculorum auctor extitit, qui primo filiis hominum caelum pro culmine tecti, dehinc terram custos humani generis omnipotens creavit."-"Ecclesiastical History," iv. 24.

66 Adolf Ebert's account of Bede in "History of Christian-Latin Literature," translated by Mayor and Lumby in their admirable edition of the third and fourth books of Bede's "Church History" (Pitt Press Series), 1878, p. 11.

67 The general correctness of our translation is assured by the fact that the Latin text in which it is embodied supplies a Latin translation, thus:-"quod ita latine sonat: 'ante necessarium exitum prudentior quam opus fuerit nemo existit, ad cogitandum videlicet antequam hinc proficiscatur anima, quid boni vel mali egerit, qualiter post exitum judicanda fuerit.'"-"Bed? Hist. Eccl.," iii., iv. (Mayor and Lumby), p. 177.

68 Page 14.

69 There has been a recent discussion of this question by Professor Wülcker in "Anglia," with a negative result. But the conclusion rests on too slight a basis.

70 "Milton has the same idea in a kindred passage, but it is not so terse, so condensed, as C?dmon's:-

'Yet from those flames

No light, but rather darkness visible

Served only to discover sights of woe.'

"In Job x. 22 we also find a similar idea:-'A land of darkness, as darkness itself; and of the shadow of death without any order, and where the light is as darkness.' They are all powerful, all dreadful, but C?dmon's 'without light, and full of flame,' is much the strongest. It is an Inferno in a line."-Robert Spence Watson, "C?dmon," p. 44.

71 "Paradise Lost," i., 221:-

"Forthwith upright he rears from off the pool

His mighty stature; on each hand the flames,

Driv'n backward, slope their pointing spires, and roll'd

In billows, leave i' th' midst a horrid vale."

72 Wright, "Biographia Literaria," Anglo-Saxon Period, p. 353.

73 The new start of literature under Charles is briefly and brilliantly stated in the first paragraph of Adolf Ebert's second volume.

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