Puslapio vaizdai

Alban is placed among the very aristocracy of those who died for the faith in Western Europe. Not only has his fame spread far beyond the limits of his own land: he has come to be regarded as a great historic personage, whose exploits are sufficiently remarkable, as well as sufficiently attested, to secure for him a place in the front rank of latter day saints.

The conclusion to which we are led anent the striking tendency of the fame of St. Alban to increase during the sixth century receives confirmation by recent advances in knowledge. As is now generally admitted, it was towards the end of that century that the majority of the existing interpolations were inserted into Constantius' late fifth century Life of St. Germanus of Auxerre. In the form assumed by this Life in the Acta Sanctorum11 there occur among the incidents of St.. Germanus' 429 visit to Britain a pilgrimage to the scene of St. Alban's martyrdom, and a solemn opening of the grave of the saint. At first sight, this appears indisputable testimony of the fame of St. Alban in the land at a time when he had been dead but little more than a hundred years.12 But unfortunately for such an hypothesis, the incidents in question are absent from the one MS. of Constantius' work which we know to be earlier than the end of the sixth century.13 The evidence thus merely goes to show that at the time when the original Life was interpolated, St. Alban was a martyr of sufficient repute to make it worth while to insert a long narrative connected with him. St. Germanus' dedication of a church in Auxerre to him was doubtless additional reason for the insertion.

Passing on about a century and a quarter, we arrive at a fresh stage in the development of the St. Albans legend. The Venerable Bede has inserted in his Ecclesiastical Historylt a long and detailed account of the passion. His narrative starts with a ‘scholarly misquotation' of the verse of Venantius cited

11 Acta SS. Boll. (Jul.), VII, 200.

12 This is the view adopted by Prof. Oman in his England before the Norman Conquest (pp. 178-179).

13 Bibliothèque Nat. Paris. Nouvelles Acquis. Lat. 2178. cf. BaringGould, Life of S. Germanus in Y Cymrodor (1904).

141. vii.

above18; and it quickly becomes apparent that he has utilized a considerable amount of material which, presumably, had accumulated round the name of St. Alban since Gildas wrote. Two more miracles have been introduced into the story and there is little doubt that Bede's reputation for honesty is sufficient to acquit him of the charge of inventing either of them. The stream which dried up before St. Alban's feet is now made to gush forth from the summit of the hill of execution, that his thirst may be assuaged. Further, the vengeance of Heaven is depicted as descending upon the substitute headsman, whose eyes fall to the ground at the same moment as the head of the martyr. But despite this large admixture of the miraculous, a noteworthy feature of the account is its air of circumstantiality. To some extent this is due to Bede's literary powers; but allowing for this factor, there remains a further element of which the presence cannot thus be explained. There is an accurate conception of the topographical features of the place of execution. The river Ver is no longer called the Thames, and there is a convincing description of the little plain, six hundred paces across, and of the gently sloping hill beyond.

Now Bede had never visited the spot, or he could not have described the Ver as flumen . . meatu rapidissimo. It therefore seems probable that Bede employed a source or sources other than those accessible to Gildas; but it is plain that he had before him the account in the De Excidio Britanniae, which he follows in general outline. But the material used by the Jarrow historian not only contained a larger element of the miraculous than was to be found in the source used by Gildas: it had in addition gathered to itself a distinctive element of local colour. From Bede himself, be it noted, we obtain three facts of the first importance regarding the cultus of St. Alban in eighth-century England. To begin with, at the time when Bede was writing (about 731 A.D.) St. Alban possessed a feast: his execution is said to have taken place on June 22, upon which day his memory was venerated.16 In the

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15"Albanum egregium fecunda Britannia profert.

10It is perhaps characteristic of Bede's honesty that he makes no attempt to determine the year of St. Alban's death.

next place, we are informed that a celebrated church had for a long time marked the site of the martyrdom; and lastly, that miraculous cures were still, as in past days, being worked there. It thus becomes plain that from humble beginnings the fame of St. Alban has gradually waxed great until, by the beginning of the eighth century at latest, the martyr has been provided with a feast, with a respectable number of miracles, and with a reputation for working cures among the afflicted.

It only remains to consider in what manner the St. Albans legend attained its final form—the form which, after being adopted with little change by writer after writer in the Middle Ages, received at last official consecration in the Acta Sanctorum. It should be remembered that from the early ninth century at latest there existed, in the monks of St. Albans Abbey, a corporate body who made it their business to see that their patron did not suffer the fate of St. Chad, St. Neot, and many another saint, who from equally promising beginnings, gradually lapsed into complete obscurity. The number of existing MS. Lives of St. Alban testify to the success with which the convent ministered to the memory of their patron. Little change took place in the accepted version of St. Alban's legend between the eighth and the twelfth centuries, though the tale of latter-day miracles was ever augmented. In the time of Abbot Simon the bibliophile, 17 however, the fame of the House was great in the country. The Convent, dissatisfied with the brevity of existing accounts of their patron, deliberately set about the fabrication of a longer and more circumstantial narrative. Accordingly a certain William, perhaps William Marlet the Sacrist, of whom we know something,18 proceeded to compose the Acta SS. Albani et Amphibali,19 which is among the dreariest of monastic forgeries. This work is said by the author to be a literal translation from the original English-William had not even the intelligence to make it British—Life of St. Alban, written by contemporaries of the martyr. In point of fact, critical examination shows that William's work is nothing but a clumsy

17 Simon was Abbot from summer 1167 to summer 1183.
18Gesta Abbatum M. S. Albani (Roll Series), Vol. I.
19 Acta SS. Boll. (Jun) IV, 149-159.

amplification of Bede's account. The added miracles and adventures have not even the merit of being interesting. And yet there is a spice of involuntary humour about the forgery, which, to modern taste, goes some way to atone for its obvious shortcomings. In the course of his labour William contrived to make a notable addition to the Saints held in honour by his House. For the first time, reference is paid to a certain St.

. Amphibalus, here identified with the Confessor for whose sake St. Alban suffered martyrdom. The new saint is a fabrication of the pious fancy. The name Amphibalus occurs first in the History of that famous gleaner of the fabulous, Geoffrey of Monmouth.20 Thence it was adopted by the St. Albans writer, as he himself confesses. But, as is now acknowledged by all scholars, the name itself arose from a puerile misreading of the narrative of Gildas, and owed its existence to his mention of St. Alban's amphibalus or cloak.21. The entire absence of information concerning this notable saint would be regarded nowadays as a difficulty: but the mediaeval mind rose superior to the trammels which beset the modern historian. The ingenious William exulted in his opportunity. Out of the depths of his inner consciousness he evolved a long, circumstantial, and wholly fictitious account of the sayings and doings of the alleged teacher of St. Alban. And along with St. Alban, a Saint has Amphibalus remained to this day.


20Hist. Brit., V. 5.

21 For an elaborate discussion of this point, see J. Loth in Revue Celtique, XI, 348.




UCH has been written about the poetry of André Chénier.

present day have spared no efforts in attempting to decide whether he is the last of the Classics or a forerunner of Romanticism. Much also has been written regarding the history of his manuscripts, from the days when some of his most charming poems were smuggled out of the prison of SaintLazare, to the exciting moments when one famous bundle of MSS., long withheld from publicity by the curious selfishness of Gabriel de Chénier (nephew of the poet) and his widow, was finally opened in the National Library at Paris in 1892.

Although indeed it is upon his exquisite verse that Chénier's fame will inevitably rest, yet it was scarcely as a poet that he was known to the public of his own day. It was rather with political criticism, with a polished and scathing prose that his name was associated by all but a very small, select circle during the years which followed the fall of the Bastille. The part he played in the wild scenes of the revolutionary drama—a part which it is the purpose of this article briefly to describe led to an ignoble and untimely death; but the high principles which he championed and the firmness of his attitude in the face of calumny and beneath the shadow of the guillotine, combine to dignify a name too often connected with a mere gift for writing amatory verse.

André-Marie Chénier, third son of Louis Chénier and a Greek lady, Elizabeth Santi-Lomaka, was born in the suburbs of Constantinople on the 30th of October, 1762. In 1767 Louis Chénier was appointed Consul-General in Morocco, and for the sake of the children's education it was decided that they and Madame Chénier should take up their residence in Paris. She settled in the quarter of the "Marais", and, after several changes of house, established herself finally in the Rue de Cléry.

André and his younger brother Marie-Joseph were brought up amid surroundings calculated to inspire and to develop the artistic side of their natures. Palissot, Brunk,

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