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wolf is said to have made two dispositions, — the one establishing something like a secular provision for the poor — the other doing away with obligations hitherto imposed on certain lands. It is not unreasonable therefore to conclude that his act left a tenth part probably of all hereditary lands free of those imposts and duties of which the monastic bodies so earnestly complained, even if we may not further believe with Hallam that the king granted to the Church certain actual possessions, together with immunity from the trinoda necessitas. Of itself, a privilege extending apparently to laymen not less than to the clergy, could have conferred no special and exclusive right on the latter. Their claim to tithe, if not legalised in this country till the reign of Æthelstan, dates, whether in England or on the Continent, from an earlier day than that of Egbert and Charles the Great. It was part of the old inheritance of the Christian priesthood, handed down from that Levitical law, of which, in this as in other such matters, they had never admitted the abrogation.
The condition of monachism in this country from the days of Augustine to those of Dunstan and Æthelwold is one of the most momentous questions in all English history before the Conquest. It is by no means one of the easiest; and the very anxiety to do full justice to men so differing from each other as Swithun, Dunstan, Edward the Confessor, and Harold, seems likely to involve the subject in some confusion. The warfare between the secular and regular clergy was carried on in England not less fiercely than in Milan or at Rome. But was it a battle between the soldiers of a sacerdotal army, who (whether consciously or unconsciously) were establishing the great Papal empire, and the weaker upholders of a Christian liberty which seemed to their adversaries more favourable to the growth of national churches than of their vast spiritual empire ? Or was it simply, as Mr. Earle supposes, the struggle of men who, seeking to do all things decently and in order, employed that organisation which in a barbarous age was indispensable, against others who desired, at all costs, to secure a life of worthless and disorderly self-indulgence ?
In truth, the history of monachism in England down to the reign of the second Harold has as a whole no parallel elsewhere. In the conversion of England Augustine employed the same machinery which Boniface afterwards found so effectual in Friesland and Bavaria ; and hence the Benedictine monasticism of this country acquired a distinctively missionary character. The houses founded by Benedict and his disciples in Italy or Gaul all furthered, more or less, this work of conversion; but they existed in the first place for the spiritual discipline of their inmates. In the foundation of the English monasteries, the first thonight was for the heathen; and the monastic rule was chosen chiefly as furnishing the best means for effecting their conversion. Thus every station, in the advance made by the Roman missionaries, received the name of monastery or minster, and retained it long after the place of the monks had been filled up by secular priests. The storms of Danish invasion swept away the monastic communities, and, with these, most of the monastic buildings; nor were the labours of Alfred directed towards restoring the system by which Augustine had carried on his warfare against English heathenism. Secular priests worked alone, or were established in colleges throughout the land, without the restraints of a monastic rule. But, in some cases, the old buildings remained ; and the preservation of a few charters gave the impulse to monastic restoration, while it seemed to justify the efforts of the reformers. They were sorely needed, if such a restoration was a thing to be wished for, or if it was ever to be accomplished. Even at Glastonbury the sacred fire had wellnigh gone out. There was nothing of monastic religion there, according to one in whose judgment that profession involved the abandonment of all free-will in submission to a spiritual ruler. In the estimation of such men, Dunstan would indeed be the first abbot of the English nation.*
On this view, the work of Dunstan becomes at once clear and intelligible. He had no battle to fight against secular chapters, His task was to build up the waste places, and to people them with true followers of the Nursian Benedict. With Hildebrand, the desire to impose celibacy was prompted by a political instinct; with Dunstan, as with Peter Damiani, it was the one mode of escape from the intense corruption of the world. His effort was, not to expel a secular clergy who had intruded their chapters into monastic houses, but to introduce monks into places which had not originally belonged to them. The cathedrals were, in their institution, secular. In spite of Dunstan's crusade many of them remained so, till the fall of Harold prepared the way for the more complete ascendancy of Rome. Dunstan's first object was to restore monachism in its strictest form, as exhibited in the rule of Benedict — a monachism not only more severe than the degenerate form which had been crushed by the Danish invasions, but more stringent even than that of Saint Augustine. To reach this end, the enforcement of celibacy on the clergy in general was no unimportant step; but this victory, if gained, was chiefly to serve for the further extension and the permanent supremacy of his order.
* Anglia Sacra, ii. 91-101.
The projects of Dunstan involved the exaltation of Swithun. That Swithun would have promoted his schemes, is an inference which we can neither affirm nor deny. That Dunstan, with Æthelwold, took advantage of a “foregone opinion of - his sanctity' to bring about his translation, we cannot hesitate to believe. The light which these Gloucester fragments throws on the process constitutes their chief interest.
· The initiative,' says Mr. Earle, 'was with the people, though it rested with their leaders to ignore it or give effect to it. It was some broken-down smith, or some poor peasant body; or, again, three blind women from the Isle of Wight, who, or whose friends, are the deponents, either in their own persons or through the priest, in the drawing up the case for the translation of Bishop Swithun. The case prepared, it is brought by the bishop under the notice of the king, who thereupon notifies the bishop of his will, that the remains of the holy man be “translated ;” and so the movement, having begun with the people, and baving, through the priest and bishop, ascended to the throne, is next repeated inversely — the order for the “ translation” issues from the king, and, through the bishop and clergy, descends to the people. Regular as the transaction is, and void of any tumultuary feature, yet, at the same ne, Swithun is no canonised saint, but a saint by popular conviction and popular enthusiasm vox populi vox Dei — a saint by acclamation.
• Whatever be the measure of esteem which we accord to the titles of ecclesiastical “Saints," we may find room for gradations of respect, and prefer the home-made “saint" to the "saint" canonised at Rome. It was nearly 200 years after the translation of Swithun, when, popular enthusiasm running high after saint-making, the chiefs of the hierarchy at Rome assumed the direction of this passion, founded a committee to sit on the merits of saints, and commenced the chapter of "canonisation.” And it was this cold-blooded, evidenceweighing institution that, entering into things which it had not seen, pretended to dispense crowns of celestial merit, while waiting nations were impatient to honour their departed worthies,— it was this that brought the very name of “Saint” into contempt, and imparted to it a jarring, incredulous, and ironical sound. The earlier and simpler doings of the national Church must not be confused with a later system. Swithun was called a saint, much in the same way as, now-a-days, in many a Protestant family, one whose life has exhibited a consistent profession, witnessed of many witnesses, is unhesitatingly and unmisgivingly pronounced “a saint in glory.”'(P. 40.)
As the idea of a translation gained ground among the people, an ample array of signs and wonders announced the favour of the saint, and justified the design. The vigorous VOL. CXVI. NO. CCXXXVI.
growth of the mythopæic faculty is not limited to times and countries strictly pagan. Until by long practice the human mind has acquired the historical sense, it craves for mythological food with a greediness which admits of no denial
. In this condition it does not dispense with a standard of credibility, but that standard is one which utterly ignores all historical evidence. It requires conformity not with actual events, but with its ideal of chivalry or saintliness. The faculty may exist with great force in men who are not dishonest or false; yet it has a direct tendency to run into the very worst falsehood and dishonesty. The different versions given of almost every wonder are at once a proof that all versions would be equally acceptable, as long as they harmonised with the ideal which they were designed to illustrate. In the instance of Swithun, the wonders which preceded his translation were not indeed consistent with all that he had said or done; but the inconsistency did not extend too far. A despised, if not an unknown, grave had been his ambition while he lived ; and he was buried at his own desire on the north side of his church, where the water from the eaves might drop upon his tomb. But the visions and marvels which occur when his translation is first thought of (or, as Mr. Earle hints, when Dunstan and Æthelwold had intimated that such wonders would be acceptable), represent the saint as disinclined to lie any longer in the humble restingplace which he had chosen. The movement originates in the people, not without the sanction of the archbishop and his colleague ; but Swithun has again and again to urge by his messengers his claim to a more exalted sepulchre. In the first instance he gives to the man or villain of Eadsige (a priest who had been suspended by Æthelwold) a charge ordering Eadsige to make known his wishes to the bishop. But Eadsige has no liking for his spiritual superior, and he ungratefully refuses to obey the command, although the saint ' was related to him in worldly kindred.' Nothing abashed by this remissness, the saint appears to an “awfully humpbacked • ceorl,' whose obedience wins for him the blessing of becoming outwardly like to other men; and the preparations for the translation are at once set on foot. The popular tradition is that the ceremony was interrupted by torrents of rain; but Mr. Earle leaves us at liberty to imagine that it was a fair summer's day, because we have no record to the contrary, while it agrees ill with what else we know of our sturdy forefathers, that when they had set their minds on a national celebration, and had met together from all parts for the purpose, they should have been deterred even by the most violent thunderstorm. The feast itself was no mere religious celebration. The rites of the Church were accompanied by banquets in which there was no stinting of food or drink.
• The sturdy worshippers were recruited by an abundant festival, and day after day the solemn chant was heard alternating with the merriment of festivity. _A sad countenance was nowhere seen, for every heart was glad. Food was abundant and various. The winedrawers skipped to and fro - crowning the vessels with wine pressing the guests to drink; and then, with their empty cans, to the cellar they hasten again. But the national drink prevailed, and mead was preferred to wine. Many an honest face, eclipsed by the roomy tankard, emerged to view betimes, in fuller orbed glow. A drop from the brimming bowl had bedewed the shaggy beard ; a jerk of the chin dislodged it, and the beard was itself again. As a shower from a summer cloud, so Saxon converse broke. At first in single drops, widespread, full, weighty, express, monosyllabic — then a pause. But soon it burst anew in a rattling shower of words, and soon it flowed in streams, for all were talking at once.' (P. 49.)
If the grand ovation almost kindles with a poetic fire the prosaic hexameters of Wolstan, Mr. Earle's prose, under the same influence, becomes curiously anapæstic in reproducing the elegiac couplets which tell the story of the feast to Bishop Elfeg.
The saint had done some wonders in his life. He performed more, when he had grown tired of his resting-place on the north • side of the church. But these were a mere prelude to wholesale benefits which the saint lavished on his worshippers at and after his translation. They who were healed were counted not by tens or hundreds, but by thousands. The sick and diseased crowded the churchyard, so that it was hard to pass through them to the minster; within a few days not five remained infirm. The walls of the church were loaded with the tokens of the saint's holiness and power. Crutches and cripples' stools were conclusive evidence of the truth that ‘Christ is Almighty · God, who his saint demonstrated through such benefits. The means may appear strange, but they were intended to enforce a lesson which cannot be questioned, — the duty, namely, of earning God's kingdom with good works, just as Swithun did “who now shineth through wonders.'
The fancy which associates the name of Swithun with rain in summer does not derogate from the idea of his goodness; and Mr. Earle has remarked that other countries have their raining saints not less than England. The popular notions attached to the name of Dunstan have possibly some better foundation in historical truth; it is significant that they do not extend to him the holiness of St. Swithun,