Puslapio vaizdai

case, however, is that of a sailor who fell from the mast-head and broke his skull. The bones kept continually coming away until he had no bony case left at all-only the brain and the soft scalp. There is a wax figure of him at the hospital where he sat with the small bones of his skull gathered together in his hands—like a second and instructive Glengulphus.

There are many other things to see. To us outsiders it is interesting to watch a number of smart, well set up, handsome young fellows, in undress military uniform, with sleeves and aprons over their buttons and lace, working in the laboratory at the analysis of flour-whereof four sacks making 700 loaves are used daily; and of each new batch supplied to the Hospital a new analysis is made; or at the demonstration of the circulation of the blood by means of a newt's tail and a powerful microscope ; or learning how to find a bullet by electricity-a bell ringing when the probe touches metal and silent when it only touches bone; or studying the best method of carrying an ambulance stretcher, and tending the wounded in the field; or verifying by the spectroscope the yellow band of sodium and the red and yellow bands of calcium. The sixty chemical pupils in the school when we were there are learning to do good work in their generation, and we honoured their sleeves and aprons. After two o'clock they may be in mufti, but undress uniform is de rigueur up to that time.

Then there are models of all kinds of death-dealing missiles side by side with all kinds of healing appliances—including a model of the ambulance volante, the grandfather of all the tribe, and the stuffed carcass of a famous mule who kicked and bit and was a fury in his lifetime, but “ a good one to go,” as we were told, and who died, happily before he had eaten a man—which was apparently the height of his ambition.

The pathological museum is very complete ; the instruction given leaves nothing undone ; the whole school reflects infinite credit on the professors and the profession alike ; and in these circumstances would it not be wise in the Government to make the whole concern as complete as possible, so that this most important branch of the service might be filled by the best men, and the honour of saving life be as much coveted as that of destroying it?




SHORT time since, I laid before the readers of this Magazine

some account of that precious monument of our early history, the English Chronicle. To-day, I propose to follow up the subject by a brief sketch of the life and works of Beda, the only real authority for the very first epoch of our national existence. Almost every child is familiar with the name of " the Venerable Bede," yet most persons even amongst the educated classes have apparently a vague notion that the bearer of that famous name was probably a mediæval archdeacon of about the twelfth or thirteenth century, like Geoffrey of Monmouth or Giraldus Cambrensis. But the real importance of Beda in the development of our literature and the transmission of our early history is so very great, that he well deserves to be better known by the ordinary English reader. And when we reflect that he is in all likelihood the first Englishman whose writings have come down to us—for the great epic which goes by the name of Cædmon is probably a spurious composition of later date—we can hardly fail to feel an interest in this “father of English learning," as Burke truly called him—this “teacher," as he seemed to the chronicler of Melrose, “not only of the English, but of the universal Church."

Beda was an English monk of the eighth century, in the days when Teutonic Britain had not yet coalesced into the single kingdom of England. Three great powers, those of Northumbria, Mercia, and Wessex—the north, the midland, and the south-still divided between them the overlordship of the various English, Jutish, and Saxon communities between the Frith of Forth and the coast of Dorset. Minor kings or sub-reguli still ruled over the lesser Teutonic principalities. The Kelt still held half of Britain. At the date of Beda's birth the Northern Welsh still retained their independence in Strathclyde ; the Welsh proper still spread to the banks of the Severn; and the West Welsh of Cornwall still owned all the peninsula south of the Bristol Channel as far eastward as the Somersetshire marshes. Beyond Forth and Clyde the Picts yet ruled over the greater part of the Highlands, while the Scots, who have now given the name of Scotland to the whole of Britain beyond the Cheviots, were a mere

See Gentleman's Magazine for May 1880.

intrusive Irish colony in Argyllshire, Skye, and the Western Hebrides. These ethnical facts give an immense value to Beda's writings, as his pages allow us to catch constant glimpses of the interaction between the Teutonic colonists and the still powerful Keltic aborigines. In his works, to put it briefly, we find Britain just in the act of becoming England.

Beda was born at Jarrow, in the county of Durham, in the year 674 A.D.' Only two hundred years had then yet elapsed since the landing of the first English colonists in Thanet. Scarcely more than a century had passed since the founder of the Northumbrian kingdom, Ida, as the English Chronicle quaintly puts it, had “timbered Bamborough, and betyned it with a hedge.” The memory of the Jutish leaders, Hengest and Horsa, must have been as fresh in the minds of the English in those days as the memory of the Pilgrim Fathers now is in the minds of rural New Englanders. The colonization of Yorkshire and East Anglia was almost as recent an event as the Déclaration of Independence seems to a citizen of Massachusetts or Connecticut in our own days. The constant lingering warfare with the Welsh on the western marches was still as real and living a fact as the smouldering Indian wars of the American territories to a farmer in Iowa or Nebraska. Less than fifty years before Beda's birth, his native country of Northumbria was still a heathen land: only forty years had passed since the conversion of Wessex ; and Sussex was even then given over to the worship of Woden and Thunor. These facts again serve to show us how great is the value of Beda's magnum opus, the “ Ecclesiastical History of the English People," as the account of a person who lived amongst or shortly after the chief events which he describes. Is it not extraordinary that we are content to remain ignorant of the works of such an Englishman, writing in such a strange and interesting England as that which these short notes disclose ?

Brief as had been the reign of the new faith in Northumbria, however, the church had already obtained considerable territorial influence. Establishment and endowment had begun in earnest. Benedict Biscop had founded two great abbeys near the mouth of the Wear, in towns which now bear the names of Bishop's Wearmouth and Jarrow. The neighbouring land, as we learn from Beda himself, belonged to the two monasteries, and on their estates the father of our historian was born. Beda has been kind enough, too, unlike the authors of the Chronicle, to give us a slight sketch of his

' In this paper, which is of course intended for the general reader and not for prosessed historians, I adopt throughout what seem to me the most probable dates and facts, without entering into any critical disquisitions as to the grounds upon which I prefer one authority to another.


own life at the end of the “ Ecclesiastical History.” From it we learn that he was left an orphan, and was handed over, at the age of seven years, to the care of Abbot Benedict, after whose death Abbot Ceolfrid took charge of the young aspirant. “Thenceforth,” says the aged monk fifty years later, "I passed all my lifetime in the buildings of that monastery [Jarrow], and gave all my days to meditating on Scripture. In the intervals of my regular monastic discipline, and of my daily task of chanting in chapel, I have always amused myself either by learning, teaching, or writing. In the nineteenth year of my life I received ordination as deacon ; in my thirtieth year I attained to the priesthood; both functions being administered by the most reverend bishop John (afterwards known as St. John of Beverley), at the request of Abbot Ceolfrid. From the time of my ordination as priest to the fifty-ninth year of my life, I have occupied myself in briefly commenting upon Holy Scripture, for the use of myself and my brethren, from the works of the venerable Fathers, and in some cases I have added interpretations of my own to aid in their comprehension.” Then follows a formidable list of the good monk's writings, too long for insertion here, but interesting as showing the range of his knowledge and the tastes of his age. It begins with a work on Genesis in four books ; next follow three books on the Tabernacle, its Vessels and the Vestments of the Priests : then come commentaries on Samuel and Kings; and so on through the whole of the Canonical Books down to the Revelation of St. John the Divine. After these exegetical treatises, we get his more general works—“A Book of Letters " (on the Reason of Leap Year, on the Equinoxes, and so forth); a “Life of St. Anastasius ;” a “Life of St. Cuthbert,” in prose and “heroic verse;" a History of his own Abbey; the “ Ecclesiastical History of our Island and People ;" a “ Book of Hymns in various Metres;" a "Book of Epigrams in

” Heroic or Elegiac Metre ;” a work De Natura Rerum”-on the Nature of Things (one would imagine that this comprehensive title might have rendered all the rest unnecessary); and others on Orthography, the Metric Art, and like subjects. It is clear that Beda's life was at least not an idle one.

“ The institutions of the monastery in which Beda was educated," says Mr. Stevenson (to whose scholarly edition of the “Ecclesiastical History” I owe the deepest obligations), “must have tended in an eminent degree to supply him with that learning for which he was so eminently distinguished. Belonging to the order of St. Benedict, which, beyond all others, was calculated to promote attachment to literature, and possessing, as may be presumed, a

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natural taste for study, he was fortunate in having access to a library of more than ordinary extent and value. Benedict Biscop, the first Abbot of Wearmouth and Jarrow, had paid at least four visits to the Papal Court, and had each time returned to England laden with the choicest manuscripts and works of art (?) which Rome could furnish.

... A Benedictine monastery, consisting of more than six hundred monks, endowed with princely revenues," —Mr. Miall and the Liberation Society will shudder to learn that Jarrow possessed no less than 15,000 acres of English land—"and governed by an abbot who was interested in the promotion of literature, must, in all probability, have produced many eminent men, whose studies and example were likely to have an influence on a young and enthusiastic scholar.” It has been plausibly suggested that Beda may have learnt Roman music from John the Archcantor, whom Benedict Biscop brought with him from Italy : while his apparent knowledge of Greek -then a rare accomplishment in the West, as Mr. Green rightly notes—was perhaps due to "the school which the Greek Archbishop Theodore ”-himself a monk of Tarsus in Cilicia—" founded beneath the walls of Canterbury."

Nothing more is known of our author's history, save the touching but twice-told tale of his peaceful death. I shall not retell the pretty, pathetic story here, for abler pens have done it better justice elsewhere than I can pretend to do. Several manuscripts have preserved to us the letter of Cuthbert, afterwards Abbot of Jarrow, to his friend Cuthwine, giving us the very date of his death, May 27, A.D. 735, and also narrating the somewhat overdrawn picture, with which we are all familiar, of how he died just as he had completed his translation of St. John's Gospel. “Thus saying, he passed the day in peace till eventide. The boy [his scribe] said to him, 'Still one sentence, beloved master, is yet unwritten. He answered, 'Write it quickly. After a while the boy said, “Now the sentence is written.' Then he replied, 'It is well,' quoth he, thou hast said the truth: it is finished.'

. And so he passed away to the kingdom of heaven." The great work which gives Beda a claim to our attention at the present day is his "Ecclesiastical History of the English People." This History consists of five books, divided into short chapters, and makes up about four hundred pages of an ordinary modern octavo ; it is written in very easy and fairly classical Latin, but often in a turgid style which strongly contrasts with the native English simplicity of the Chronicle. Five ancient manuscripts, one of them transcribed only two years after Beda's death, and now deposited in the Cambridge Library, give us the text in a very pure form. Mr.

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