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treasures spiritual and intellectual. The monastery at Wearmouth was adorned with fine paintings; and Bede, in describing the beauty of the church, says, “There might the humble disciple, whose ignorance of letters excluded learning at one inlet, feel religious impressions excited, and his faith confirmed, by surveying, turn where he would, either the gracious countenance of his Saviour, the awful mystery of the Incarnation, or the terrific scene of the Last Judgment.'

Building in stone was but poorly understood by the Saxons, and Benedict brought masons from France to construct his monasteries. He also introduced glass windows, and provided his countrymen with the means of learning the art of making glass. The library which he founded he provided with all the books then known; and thus, for the first time, it became possible to gain an education without leaving England.

Bede was placed by his friends at the monastery of St. Paul at Jarrow, before it was entirely completed, and when he was in his seventh year; and here, and at the twin house of St. Peter, at Wearmouth, he passed the remainder of his life, fulfilling his duties as a monk with the most scrupulous care, and devoting every leisure hour those duties left him to study and composition. At that time, it was not customary to admit young men to deacon's orders before the twenty-fifth year of their age; but Bede's progress in learning and holiness was so rapid that he was admitted at the age of nineteen; and at thirty was ordained priest. His devotion to study was such that he declined being made abbot, because, as he expressed it, — “The office demands thoughtfulness, and thoughtfulness brings with it distraction of mind, which impedes the pursuit of learning."

In those days, the duties of the monks were no sinecure. Bede, describing the great Biscop, says that, “like the rest of his brethren, he delighted to exercise himself in winnowing the corn, in threshing it, in giving milk to the lambs and calves, in the bakehouse, in the garden, in the kitchen, and in the other employments of the monastery ;” and it is probable that all these duties were performed by Bede likewise, while a considerable portion of the day was consumed in the daily monastic service, and in chanting in the church. Biscop had been much charmed by the chanting at Rome, and obtained the consent of Pope Agatho to carry home with him John, the arch-chanter at St. Peter's. The music of this man was so superior to any thing before heard in England, that crowds of people from all the neighboring counties were attracted to Wearmouth to listen to his melody, and by him Bede was instructed in the art of chanting. He describes himself as always taking pleasure in the intervals between the hours of regular discipline and the duties of singing, in learning, or teaching, or writing something. In these intervals he studied Greek, Latin, and Hebrew, and every branch of literature and science then known. He wrote commentaries on the Scriptures, treatises on history, astrology, orthography, rhetoric, and poetry, a Life of St. . Cuthbert, two books of the Art of Poetry, a book of Hymns, and another of Epigrams. His great work was the Ecclesiastical History of England, the materials for which he collected with great care from all the monasteries where records had been kept, sending in every direction throughout the kingdom, where any materials could be obtained; for he would never be induced to leave the neighborhood of his own monasteries, even in pursuit of learning. This work is the most valuable record of Saxon history pow extant. It was written in Latin, but has been translated again and again into the vernacular tongue, first by King Alfred, and afterward, in successive centuries, by various distinguished scholars, as in the progress of the language its phraseology became antiquated.

He was also skilful in the manual arts of writing and illuminating. At Durham, there is a copy of Cassiodorus on the Psaltery written by Bede's own hand; also, a folio copy

of the Vulgate New Testament, containing a superb illumination of the full folio size, representing David playing on the lyre, surrounded by an ornamental border of the Saxon period, and supposed likewise to be Bede's own work. Other manuscripts of his are preserved at Lambeth Palace, and in the Bodleian Library. It is said that any one who reads the works of Bede reads all the knowledge possessed by mankind in his day, together with a vast amount of original thought which was the means of giving human knowledge a new impulse, so that his age marks one of those periods occasionally recurring in history, when the progress of knowledge, usually slow, becomes rapid to an almost incredible degree.

Bede became so celebrated throughout the Christian world that Pope Sergius wrote a letter to his Abbot Ceolfrid, request

ing him to send Bede without delay to Rome, that he might assist in settling certain important questions relating to the Church. With all his love for his darling Jarrow, Bede would hardly have dared to refuse a request coming from such a quarter ; but fortunately for his peace, the pope died shortly after sending the letter, and he was suffered to remain with his books in his own quiet cell.

The uneventful life of this great and good man terminated at the age of fifty-nine; and though accompanied with much physical distress, his death was as beautiful and as peaceful as his life. He died as he had lived, laboring for the advancement of the best knowledge. He was engaged in translating the Gospel of St. John, and when he became too weak to write, he dictated to a boy who wrote for him. When he felt that death was near at hand, he called his friends about him, and took leave of them with many expressions of joy that he was about to depart and be with Christ. The boy said to him, “Dear master, there is yet one sentence not written.” He answered “write quickly," and dictated the final phrase. Soon after, the boy said, “The sentence is now written.” He replied; “It is well; you have said the truth ;” and sinking upon the pavement of his little cell, before the shrine where he was wont to pray, he chanted, “Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost ;” and with the last word his spirit passed away to the realms where the gropings of earthly reason are exchanged for the clear vision of heavenly wisdom.

Thus lived and died one of the brightest lights of the socalled Dark Ages; and when we contrast the peaceful home where he dwelt, surrounded by all the intellectual adornments that wealth could bestow, with the turmoil of incessant war that reigned without, can we feel surprised that so many nobles gave up castles and lands, so many kings laid aside their crowns, and retired within cloistered walls to rest them from the weariness of strife ? We are not half grateful enough to these men, without whom all previous knowledge would have been lost, and man must have been constrained to start again from the foot of the ladder, and mount with slow steps to the height where the Greeks and Romans bad trod before ; and whence, thanks to the monks of the Dark Ages, on the revival of learning, man was able, where they left off, to commence his upward course. When we think of the monks as lazy and useless cumberers of the ground, the memories of Bede, Roger Bacon, Benedict Biscop, and others like them, if less than they, should rise in our minds, and bid us forbear.

Bede was first buried at Jarrow; but about the year 1022, Elfrid, the sacrist, carried the remains away to Durham, where they were deposited near, if not in, the tomb of St. Cuthbert. Afterward, the magnificent Bishop Pudsey had them enclosed in a splendid shrine of silver and gold, worthy of his name, and placed on a table of blue marble, supported on five low pillars of marble, resting on another slab beneath. The whole was protected by a cover of wainscot, curiously gilt, which was elevated on great occasions by means of a pulley, running on twelve perpendicular iron rods, three in each corner of the stone. Thus they remained till the Reformation, when the shrine was destroyed, and the bones buried beneath the spot where it stood. It is asserted that the monk who stole the remains from Jarrow carried only a part of them to Durham, and almost every monastery in England boasted the possession of some of them. Even now, in several churches on the Continent, the curious in such matters may still be edified by a sight of one or more of his ribs.

Not long before the Reformation, a French Bishop, returning home from a journey in Scotland, visited the shrines of St. Cuthbert and of Bede. On the first he deposited a baubee, the smallest Scotch coin then current, saying, “If thou art a saint, pray for me.” Then turning reverently to the other, he placed a French crown upon it, saying, “Pray for me, for thou art a saint.” Even then it would seem that the superior excellence of Bede was appreciated, while the asceticism of Cuthbert had lost much of the honor that had formerly been bestowed upon it.

Passing from the honored shrines of Cuthbert and Bede, we traverse nearly the whole length of England to reach the royal city of Winchester, where Alfred held his court. For him whom the English nation still honor as the chief founder of their greatness we naturally suppose a worthy monument must have been erected. Though in our age we feel no surprise that the shrines of saints are no longer goals for the pilgrim, we cannot but suppose that the tomb of Alfred must

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be visited with reverence so long as the English language continues to be spoken.

The body of Alfred was deposited immediately after his death in the “ Newen Mynstre,” a celebrated monastery which he bad himself erected in the city of Winchester. The position of this institution, afterwards known as Hyde Abbey, proving inconvenient and unhealthy, a new and magnificent church and monastery were erected without the north wall of the city, on the spot called Hyde Meadow. Hither the monks removed in 1110, and hither the body of Alfred was borne in solemn state, while holy chantings resounded upon the air. At the dissolution of the abbeys, this was pulled down, and the materials sold, while the tombs of Alfred, of his Queen Alswitha, those of many of their descendants and of other illustrious persons, were abandoned to the mercy of the destroyer. Afterward, the site of this abbey was taken by the city of Winchester for building a bridewell. In excavating for the foundations, stone coffins, rings, and vessels for the service of the church were discovered, together with fragments of architectural sculpture; but no consciousness of desecration seems to have delayed the hand of the architect. While superb monuments adorn cathedrals, or rise proudly under the open sky, in every part of the kingdom, to commemorate the virtues and achievements of kings, lords, and commons, the body of him who was perhaps the wisest, greatest, and best king that ever sat on any throne has been suffered to return to the dust beneath the foundations of a gaol! But perhaps it is most fitting that the only monument for such a king should be reverence, and that has ever been yielded him by every English heart. priate inscription for such a monument is found in the sentiment he left in his will as a legacy to his people. It is just that the English should forever remain as free as their own thoughts." Towards the realization of this sentiment England slowly but steadily tends. We see there little of the morbid and spasmodic effort that marks the progress of other European nations; but as we contrast the present with the past, we find that no other nation has advanced so far and so wisely in its pursuit of liberty, and that no nation has, in modern times, so seldom imbued its bands with the blood of civil warfare.

Alfred was born at Wantage, in Berkshire, in the year

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