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The Old Museum was not a remunera- mound of earth and masonry for the mative enterprise-museums never are- jestic animal to stand upon, in the garand one day an auctioneer scattered the den of its owner. But the young and rare and valuable things all over town volatile citizens soon ceased to admire -some of the more antique and delicate the grandeur of the spectacle, and despecimens (like birds) to the winds. voted their hours of recreation to hurlThe elephant, we remember, was run ing stones at the venerable effigy; and up to a high figure, in a jocular way, and so the possessor, having contracted a knocked down, seriously, to a young deep disgust for his purchase, and no gentleman of limited means and exube- little anxiety for his life, secured the rant animal spirits. As the elephant, shavings and sticks with which the monnotwithstanding its enormous size, had ster was stuffed (ivory previously rebeen the germ of the museum, the rest noved) and had the whilom wanderer of that excellent institution had gradu- among African jungles tipped, legs up, ally grown up around it, and the huge into an adjoining lot. The noble beast, quadruped had come to be shut off from however, still retained its shape, and, the outer world by an exceedingly com- with its feet in the air, appeared to be plicated series of improvements; and throwingout the pantomimic invitation to the rash bidder nearly ruined himself in community : “ Come on, with your dead paying the host of men required to cut cats and all sorts of contemptible rubbish away partitions, lower his prize from it won't be noticed while I am here; this the fifth story of the Exchange, and is the spot for rusty stove-pipe, defunct transport it to his residence—for years dogs, and lobster-shells; here's the place and years had passed away since the for trash-come on!"' And then the imposing brute, glorious in scarlet and neighbors entered a complaint; and that silver, had led the van of a caravan, roll- was the reason, which has never before ing to the clang of cymbals and bugles, been satisfactorily explained, why the and bis hide was as rigid as sheet-iron. nuisance-committee took hold of the The aggregate outlay was essentially matter, and made the vner of the increased by the building of an elevated brave old elephant pay a heavy fine.
oldest in the kingdom; it was founded, period, we shall say in the fourteenth in 681, by Benedict Biscop, who had and fifteenth centuries, ere paper money
founded another monastery at Wearwas introduced—it was customary, in mouth, dedicated to St. Peter, about the great commercial cities of Italy, and seven years before. According to an very likely, also, in those of other Euro- inscription, of the period, now placed pean countries, for a bag, purporting within Jarrow church, over the arch of to contain a certain sum of gold or silver the tower, it was dedicated “ to St. Paul, money, to pass from hand to hand, on the 9th of the kalends of May, in without its contents being examined or the 15th year of King Egfrid, and in counted, on the credit of the little label the 4th of Ceolfrid, abbot of the said attached to it, specifying how much church,” that is, on the 22d April, 685. there was, or ought to be, within. This The form of religion, which then saved a great deal of trouble ; and when, passed for Christianity, having been inat length, it might become necessary, troduced to the Saxons of the south by from any cause, to count the money, the monk Augustine, under the auspices and a deficiency should be found, either of Pope Gregory the Great, in 596, and in the tale, weight, or standard, why, those of the north having been conthen, the holder had his remedy against verted also by the monks, within the the person from whom he got the bag, course of the succeeding forty yearsand might recover from him the defi- the bishopric of Lindisfurn'having ciency-if he could. What the label been founded in 635—a profession of was to the old leathern money-bag, such monkery appears to have become exhas been the term Venerable” to the tremely prevalent among the new concharacter, literary, moral, and religious, verts, and more especially those who of the old monk of Jarrow. From the were of royal or noble birth. Monascustomary influence of this little word teries were founded in various parts of “ venerable,” though the old Miracle the kingdom by persons of wealth or Trading Company, by which it was influence, of both sexes, who, gathering sanctioned, if not originally imposed, together a colony of monks and nuns, has greatly declined in credit; and from not unfrequently under the same roof, the ponderosity of Bede's bag, bis withdrew from the cares and vanities of works, to wit, in eight volumes folio, the great world, to devote themselves to appalling to even the most assiduous a life of holy celibacy and pious secluteller, its contents have been very sel- sion, and, possibly, to enjoy the pleasure dom examined; and, though hints have, of administering the affairs of a little from time to time, been given by a few
world of their own. That many good who had had the curiosity to look into it and sincerely pious persons found in with some degree of attention, that it such places a refuge from the anxieties was not filled exclusively with the pre- of secular life, there can be no question; cious metals, it has yet been sealed up
but it is also certain that
of the again and put into circulation at pretty professed still retained the vices and nearly its old nominal value. Dropping bad passions which they brought with here the metaphorical bag, we shall them, whether from the country or the proceed to give a few particulars relat- court; for, since to “a spotless mind ing to Venerable Bede, illustrative of his and innocent," times, his knowledge, and his writings.
“ Stone walls do not a prison make, Bede was born, A. D. 637, in that part Nor iron bars a cage;" of the Saxon kingdom of Northumberland which now forms the county of so neither are the consecrated walls of Durham; and, according to tradition, a monastery a restraint on the cogitain the neighborhood of Monkton, a tions of a mind that is impure. village about two miles to the southwestward of Jarrow, in the monastery
“ What exile from his native land
E'er left himself behind ?" of which he died, A. D. 735. Jarrow church, which originally belonged to Amongst the best deserving of those the monastery of Jarrow, is one
of the of that age who pleased themselves by
founding monasteries, Benedict Biscop It may be here remarked that, in the may justly claim a place. He was of time of Bede, most of the monks were noble family, and had held an office under accustomed to labor with their hands in King Oswy ; but he renounced all sec- the fields of the monastery, as well as ular honors in order to devote himself to pray with their heart and voice in the to religion. He became a monk, having church or the cell; they mowed the received the tonsure in the celebrated hay; reaped and thrashed the corn ; and monastery of Lerins, in Provence; and, eke, milked the cows and fed the calves. after having visited Rome twice or thrice, But, in subsequent times, the number he commenced the foundation of the of monks belonging to each monastery monastery at Wearmouth in 674, having became greatly diminished; for the obtained from King Egfrid a grant of more pious, who were also possibly the land in order to enable him to carry his more indolent, and certainly the most design into effect. He sent to France powerful and knowing, having discovfor masons to build the church ; and he ered that manual labor withdrew them also sent to the same country for gla- too much from their more pleasing ofziers to glaze the windows—this art, fices of devotion, it was thought better according to Bede, being then unknown to employ laymen to cultivate their in England. He decorated the interior grounds and perform the more laborious of the church with paintings which he servile offices about the monastery. The had brought from Rome; one wall being number of those admitted to profession covered with pictures of the Virgin and was restricted; and as the monks bethe twelve apostles, and others with longing to a monastery became fewer subjects from the Evangelists and Reve- and more select, so did the number of lations, together with representations of its lay laborers increase. the Last Judgment and the Mystery of Under his instructors Bede acquired the Incarnation, so that the humble dis- such a knowledge of the Latin language ciple might feel his faith confirmed as to be able to write it with clearness wherever he turned. He further en- and ease; and it has also been said riched his new establishment with many that he had a knowledge of Greek : if relics and books which he had obtained he had, it was very small, and certainly abroad ; and he also brought from Rome not beyond a mere knowledge of words Brother John to officiate as leader of
as synonymous with others of Latin. the choir, and to instruct the monks in From the Greek he derived no knowlchanting the service.
edge of things; for of all that is most Into this monastery (Wearmouth), interesting and permanently valuable in Bede entered as an alumnus, or pupil, Greek literature, he was wholly ignorant. when he was only seven years old. At We are informed that the genius of the age of nineteen he was ordained a Bede embraced the whole cyclopædia deacon by John of Beverly, then Bishop of human learning; that he acquired his of Hexham; and at the age of thirty he knowledge of natural philosophy and was ordained a priest by the same pre- mathematics from the purest sources, late. Shortly after his admission to the namely, from the works of the Greek and priesthood he appears to have removed Latin authors themselves; and that he to the brother monastery of Jarrow, had a competent knowledge of poetry, where he continued to reside till the rhetoric, metaphysics, logic, astronomy, time of his decease, diligently employing music, cosmography, chronology, and himself in compiling glosses and expo- history. By one writer he is represented sitions of the Scriptures, and in com- as “ trimming the lamp of learning, and posing works for the edification both of irradiating the Saxon realm of Northumhimself and his brethren. At that time berland with a clear and steady light;" there were six hundred monks belonging while another, who has recently edited to the monasteries of Wearmouth and a translation of a portion of Bede's Jarrow, and in most of the other monas- works, professing to amend the language teries of the kingdom their number ap- of the text, and in his own slip-shod pears to have been proportionably great. introduction supplying proof of his inMost of those monks were not priests, competence to perform the task, says, but a kind of intermediate class between in his own peculiar style, that it “ the clergy and laity bound by a vow to not a little surprising that one who had yield obedience to their abbot, and to scarce moved further than the place live a chaste and holy life.
of his nativity should so accurately
describe those at a distance." The allude is that in which Pope Gregory correctness of description, it is to be the Great answers the queries of Auobserved, is here taken for granted : the gustine, Archbishop of Canterbury. correct transcription of a portion of Bede's life of St. Cuthbert is a perGulliver's Travels by the master of the fect specimen of that kind of biography City of London School, would be just which, when served up by writers of a as surprising as Bede's accurate descrip- later period, is usually classed under tion of 66 those at a distance.” For a the head of “pious frauds.” Strange, specimen of such accuracy, we beg to
that those who are most eager to magrefer the reader to Bede's tract, “ De nify the extent and value of Bede's Locis Sacris," which the learned editor learning and knowledge should seek to has, most unaccountably, neglected to absolve him from the charge of pious cite.
fraud, on the plea of pious ignorance ! The writer, who described Bede as It cannot be said that the miracles which • trimming the lamp of learning,” might he records of St. Cuthbert were consehave represented him, more truly and crated by time, for Cuthbert was living graphically, as a good-natured, gar- when Bede was born, and did not die rulous old monk, of great but not accu- till 687, when Bede was thirteen years rate memory, beguiling the long winter old. As Bede had many more to imitate nights by reading to the other monks, the fictions which he recorded, than to in the common hall, with the aid of a be edified by his facts, it may be truly rushlight, a huge volume of extracts, said that the light which he contributed compiled by himself, from the works of to diffuse was of that kind which renders the fathers; varying his course of lec- man blind, rather than enables him to tures with a chapter of his own Ecclesiastical History of the English Nation, Dr. Stillingfleet, Bishop of Worcester, “ stuffed here and there with thumping speaking of the legendary lives of the miracles, for which he must be par- saints, says that St. Gregory the Great doned,” as Bishop Nicholson charitably and Bede, whom he erroneously dubs observes; and occasionally rousing * St.," "showed the way to the rest, them, when he perceived that they were and by their own credulity and want of becoming drowsy, with a narrative from judgment gave a pattern and encouragethe life of St. Čuthbert, which, as he ment to all the monkish tales and imhas represented it, was nothing but a postures afterwards."
This is not, series of miracles from beginning to end. however, exactly correct; the way was To speak without figure, he is, in his previously shown by St. Athanasius, in purely theological works, the mere tran- his life of St. Anthony, the patron of scriber of earlier authorized opinions, monks, and by Sulpicius Severus, in his without ever venturing to inquire into life of St. Martin, of Tours. It has, the reasons on which they might be indeed, been denied that the life of St. based. His ecclesiastical history is, in Anthony was really written by Athamany places, where opportunity is af- nasius ; yet the genuineness of no one forded of testing it by other authorities, of the works ascribed to him depends extremely inaccurate, while it abounds on better authority. in passages which, at first sight, are It is related that, shortly before the perceived to be purely fabulous. That Reformation, a French bishop, in rehe did not invent them may be a salvo turning homeward from an embassy to for his honesty ; but then the fact of Scotland, visited, on the same day, the his recording them, as he has done, must shrines of St. Cuthbert and Bede, in be admitted to be a proof of his being Durham Cathedral ; that at St. Cuthno less blindly credulous than the most bert's he offered a small copper coin, illiterate of his countrymen. This work saying, “St. Cuthbert, if thou art a is also infected, though in a slight de- saint, pray for me ;' and that at Bede's gree, with that loathsome impurity he offered a French crown, requesting which is often to be met with in the
his prayers because he was a saint inwritings of monkish authors, both of the deed. This anecdote, and its quotaGreek and Latin church. That which tion by certain shrewd persons, for the was shameful for a layman to do or purpose of depreciating Cuthbert and even mention, the cloistered monk often exalting Bede, present a curious exemseems to have felt a depraved pleasure plification of the manner in which the in recording. The portion to which we mind, though conscious of a fallacy
somewh, e, is yet unable to disentangle eager to secure possession than scruit, and, cutting boldly, cuts wrong. pulous about the means.
· It seems," Cuthbert is, to a certain extent, regarded says the late Mr. Surtees, in his History as an impostor ; while in this case the of Durham, “ that a propensity to con real impostor is extravagantly honored; veying, as the wise it call,' was no less though it be owing to his fallacious nar- inherent in those ancient collectors of rative alone that the mind has become rarities than in their modern representaimpressed with a confused idea of the tives." An old chair, said to have been former having pretended to have done Bede's, is still preserved at Jarrow. or said that which the false or credulous The seat, which is of oak, of great sobiographer has recorded of him. He lidity, and rudely hollowed out, is unwho really thinks Bede a saint is bound questionably antique ; the back and to receive Cuthbert as a saint, also. A sides are more modern, the originals man pays but a left-handed compliment having been several times carried off in to the knowledge and piety of a friend, small pieces, by visitors, as portions of by treating a person as if he were a Bede's chair. cheat, merely because he was highly About the year 1370, Bede's remains, reverenced, and his saintly virtues much which were inclosed in a shrine of gold extolled by that friend.
and silver, appear to have been removed Bede was very highly esteemed in his from the feretory of St. Cuthbert, and own age for his great learning; and placed on a marble table in that part of William of Malmsbury says that Pope the church called the Galilee. This Sergius wished him to come to Rome, shrine was defaced at the Reformation. in order to consult with him on ecclesias- His bones were buried beneath the spot tical affairs. From what circumstance he where it stood, and over them was erectfirst acquired the title of “Venerable” ed a plain table monument. In 1831 has not been determined. According the tomb was examined, when several to one account, he obtained it from the bones, reputed to be Bede's, were disfollowing circumstance : When he was covered ; that they really were his is unold and blind he was led about by a certain, seeing that several monasteries, young monk, who once took him to a both in England and on the Continent, heap of stones, telling him that they could boast of having some of them. were country people waiting in reverent We have not said all that we could silence to hear him preach. He forth- have wished to say respecting Bede, with began, and at the end of his dis- but our paper is out. That the opinions course the stones saluted him with which we have expressed concerning " Amen, Venerable Bede!" The other Bede may not, however, be misconis, that one of his scholars, when en- strued, we beg to say that we have no gaged in writing his epitaph, could not desire to unfairly depreciate a Saxon complete it for want of an appro- relique; we only wish to ascertain its prite word; but leaving it at night real value and use, not only with refthus,
erence to the standard of times past, “ Hac sunt in fossa Bedæ
but also to that of times present. An ossa,"
acre of land might be purchased for a he found, next morning, the blank filled shilling in the time of Bede; but he up with the word “venerabilis.” It is must be grossly infatuated with the love equally credible that both those accounts of antiquity who would now give an are true.
acre of land for twelve Saxon pennies. Bede was interred at Jarrow ; but To draw to a point. Oh, Wiseacre ! part about the year 1022 his remains were not with thy mental freehold upon such
conveyed” to Durham, and placed terms; and ever as thou lovest correct beside those of St. Cuthbert, by Elfred, accounts, trust not implicitly to the a brother of that monastery, who was an
label, but examine the contents of the enthusiastic collector of reliques, more bag.