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he has done me.” Anselm now demanded, as conditions of his acceptance, that the king should restore the usurped lands of Canterbury, recognize Urban as Pope, and accept himself as spiritual father. The king at last gave way, and Anselm entered into Canterbury amid general jubilee.
Anselm the Norman monk is Anselm the primate of Britain. We have seen his life flowing on in tranquil meditation, in profound study, in mystic piety, in overflowing and vivifying love: we are now to follow him into tempest and conflict, as the head and guardian of the English Church in the hour of her oppression. The situation is not without some dramatic interest. The student of human nature cannot be indifferent to the fortunes of this timid, modest, scrupulous monk, — too confiding for a politician, too simple-minded for a maneuvrer,
upon whom this most unsuitable and unwelcome dignity had, as he himself says, fallen. His path once clear, he will maintain the right with a quiet obstinacy which no artifice can outwit and no resistance weary.
Anselm, according to custom, offered a present of five hundred silver pounds: it was refused as mean. Soon after, the king sailed to Normandy, all the bishops came to Hastings with their blessing, and the primate took the opportunity to propose reforms. Christianity was dead; for want of general councils crimes were flagrant: England was a second Sodom; let the king and primate unite to terrify the evil-doers. what will you gain by all this?” stammered out the king. “ If not for me, much for God, and thyself.” “Very well, let me hear no more about it." But Anselm went on to complain of the sad state of the abbeys, destitute of shepherds, full of luxurious monks. “What business is it of yours?” stuttered the king; "you do what you like with your villages, and shall not I do as I please with my abbeys ? “ Yours," replied Anselm, “ to defend, not to destroy; over your estates you have absolute jurisdiction; may it please you to leave the Church her own.” “Your predecessors never dared to speak thus to my father, and I will do nothing for you."
So the Archbishop went back to the care of his Benedictine congregation in Canterbury. In its quiet enjoyments, in pleasant conversation, and religious instruction, the time
66 And slipped away in the obscurity he loved. To tell the truth, wise minister to a mind diseased as Anselm was, he was little fitted for the business of the world. If quarrels not to be allayed arose in his presence, he would withdraw himself, or would sicken of very disgust. He was easily imposed upon by unfaithful servants, and said that he would rather be deceived in believing good of them, than deceive himself by believing evil without proof. For himself he was excessively scrupulous, and was wont to say that he would rather be in hell without a fault, than in heaven with one.
It was now time for England to declare herself on the question of the rival pontiffs. When, therefore, William returned, the Archbishop requested permission to seek the pallium from the Pope. “Which Pope ?” was the reply. The king added that he had not yet recognized Urban, nor was any one pope in England without his choice. A council of bishops was held at Rockingham to decide the controversy. Anselm demanded their advice: how could he preserve both his spiritual and temporal allegiance? The bishops would give no other counsel than that he should refer the matter to the king's will. Then Anselm, with glowing face and stern voice, cried, “ Since you, who are called pastors of the Christian flock and leaders of the people, will give no other counsel to me, your chief, I will resort to the Shepherd of all, and obtain from him the counsel which I shall follow.” Strange to say, the bishops violently charge him with usurpation of the royal prerogative, urge him to cast off an unavailing allegiance to Urban, and, “ free, as becomes the Archbishop of Canterbury,” to await the commands of the king. It is curious to see how feeble a hold the authority of Rome had yet gained in turbulent England. Scarcely has the imperious voice of Hildebrand died away, when its bishops urge their primate to defy the Holy See !
Expostulations, entreaties, threats, were employed in vain to shake the resolution of Anselm. Amid the general scheming and confusion, the Archbishop alone remained calm and obstinate. “I confess," said one, “I do not know what to think about our plans; for, while we talk together all day with the greatest anxiety, he, thinking no harm against us, sleeps, and, by a single motion of his lips, tears our spider's
web.” The king would willingly have deposed him; but, as that exceeded his power, he was forced to propose a truce.
A short time after, the papal legate arrived with a concealed pallium. He deceived the king into recognizing Urban, and then, to his intense disgust, refused to depose the Archbishop. William yielded ; Anselm refused to buy his forgiveness, refused to take the pallium from his hand. It was brought in a silver box, and placed on the altar. With solemn procession the primate raised it, and gave it to his attendants to kiss.
Three years passed quietly away; but in 1097 the king took occasion to quarrel. Anselm was convinced that it was impossible to remain ; he asked the counsel of the bishops. They replied by praising his sanctity, but hinted that they were not so weary of worldly goods, or so disembarrassed of worldly ties, as to be able to please him. On his departure, he said to the king, “Now, knowing not when I shall see you again, I commend you to God, and wish to bestow on you my blessing, if you disdain it not.” The king bowed his head, over which the Archbishop made the holy sign.
On the Continent Anselm found a welcome change from violence and outrage to quiet and respect. He was received by Urban with the greatest honor, and entitled by him “ the Apostolic of another world.” At Bari he confounds the Greeks, and by his earnest intercession with the Pope saves his persecutor from excommunication.
In 1100, William Rufus fell by an unknown hand. To this brutal and reckless prince succeeded the crafty, resolute, and now popular Henry. Her ancient immunities were restored to the Church ; grievances were redressed, order restored in the kingdom. The Archbishop was recalled, with expressions of high regard. Had he been satisfied with his former demands, he might easily have obtained them. But he was now fully possessed with the policy of Rome. In councils at which he himself had been present, all priests had been interdicted from accepting ecclesiastical benefices from the hand of a laic. The primate, ever scrupulously obedient to Rome, was thus obliged to refuse homage to Henry, and enter upon a strife of duty, repugnant to his tastes and foreign to his character, in which he was to appear, not as the resister of lawless violence,
but as the invader of undisputed prerogative. For a narrative of the controversy which imbittered the latter years of Anselm, we must refer the reader to the admirable work of M. de Remusat. Amid royal artifice and papal corruption, the Archbishop preserved intact the simplicity and loyalty of his character. He was compelled once more to retire to the Continent; but at last his firmness and the dread of excommunication proved too much for Henry. It was finally agreed that the ring and crosier should be considered to denote spiritual jurisdiction, and conferred by the Pope, but that fealty and homage should be exacted from all the clergy before receiving their benefices. So ended a wearisome struggle, in which, if we are to judge by the verdict of the time, the victory belongs to the prelate. Yet the substance of the matter in dispute the right of appointment - actually remained with the king.
After a few years of energetic administration, Anselm found his strength declining, and died at last at Saint Edmond, on the 21st of April, 1109, in the sixty-seventh year of his age. His last thought was a regret that he had not been able to finish a philosophic work. Miracles gathered round his history; he was seen with Saint Dunstan, who asked of him his ring until it should be returned by Christ; his name was read in the Book of Life ; his relics were preserved and adored. Some centuries after, he was formally enrolled by Rome among the number of the saints.
Few writers have enjoyed in their own age a greater reputation than Anselm. “He poured forth from a rich fount of wisdom the honey streams of learning,” says Orderic Vital. “ No one so curiously learned, no one so deeply spiritual,” says William of Malmesbury. The rigid dialectic and subtile refinements of the scholastic philosophy are distasteful to us moderns; but Anselm, though partaking somewhat of that order, was not a mere scholastic : he disdains to rely on authorities; he exhibits a love of truth, a spirit, and a freshness unknown to the schools; he dares to be himself. Anselm is a theologian, not a philosopher; all his works were written with a religious purpose, all are replete with genuine piety.
His method is sufficiently expressed in his motto, " Fides quærens intellectum.” “I strive not, Lord,” he cries, “ to pierce thy height, but I desire to understand thy truth, which my heart believes and loves ; for I seek not to understand that I may believe; but I believe that I may understand. For this also I believe, that, unless I believe, I shall not understand. Wherefore, Lord, who grantest comprehension to faith, give me, as thou knowest fitting, to understand that thou art, as We believe; and that which we believe." * His method, as M. Cousin well says, “is to set out from sacred dogmas, and without ever departing from them, taking them such as authority has given them, but making them fruitful by profound reflection, to rise, as it were, out of the darkness visible of faith into the pure light of philosophy.” †
Anselm believed, however, that to a perfect intellect philosophy must coincide with faith ; and therefore his theology is not merely a methodical exhibition of doctrines referred to the simplest principle of faith, — “a discursive science, with evidence out of Revelation," to use the scholastic definition, but one in which the several dogmas are logically and methodically derived from principles self-evident to reason; he is a metaphysical theologian. Now it is true that the results of such a method are given beforehand, the problem being to prove the coincidence of faith with reason. It is evident, therefore, that we are not to expect free thought of Anselm. But this method, in a theologian, is certainly capable of justification. Faith must at all events precede; no one can love or hope what he does not believe”; and it is necessary by believing to aspire toward the highest essence; “credere in illam,” as Anselm beautifully says. The principles and truths of the religious life are perhaps few and simple ; they exist in different degrees of intensity and development in all ages and sects, but they are necessarily expressed in symbols and doctrines; nor is it possible oftentimes for the strongest mind to distinguish the essence from that form in which he has received it. To Anselm the emblems and dogmas of the Church were facts; they were the conditions of every sacred expe
* Proslogium, I. 2.
† Introd. aux Ouvrages inedits d'Abelard, p. 100.