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Title: Bibliomania in the Middle Ages
Author: Merryweather, Frederick Somner
Language: English
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_With an Introduction by_
Librarian of Case Library


Copyright, 1900
By Meyer Bros. & Co.

Louis Weiss & Co.
118 Fulton Street
... New York

Bibliomania in the Middle Ages



_From the Anglo-Saxon and Norman Periods to the Introduction of Printing
into England, with Anecdotes Illustrating the History of the Monastic
Libraries of Great Britain in the Olden Time by_ F. Somner Merryweather,
_with an Introduction by_ Charles Orr, _Librarian of Case Library._


In every century for more than two thousand years, many men have owed
their chief enjoyment of life to books. The bibliomaniac of today had his
prototype in ancient Rome, where book collecting was fashionable as early
as the first century of the Christian era. Four centuries earlier there
was an active trade in books at Athens, then the center of the book
production of the world. This center of literary activity shifted to
Alexandria during the third century B. C. through the patronage of
Ptolemy Soter, the founder of the Alexandrian Museum, and of his son,
Ptolemy Philadelphus; and later to Rome, where it remained for many
centuries, and where bibliophiles and bibliomaniacs were gradually
evolved, and from whence in time other countries were invaded.

For the purposes of the present work the middle ages cover the period
beginning with the seventh century and ending with the time of the
invention of printing, or about seven hundred years, though they are more
accurately bounded by the years 500 and 1500 A. D. It matters little,
however, since there is no attempt at chronological arrangement.

About the middle of the present century there began to be a disposition
to grant to mediæval times their proper place in the history of the
preservation and dissemination of books, and Merryweather's _Bibliomania
in the Middle Ages_ was one of the earliest works in English devoted to
the subject. Previous to that time, those ten centuries lying between the
fall of the Roman Empire and the revival of learning were generally
referred to as the Dark Ages, and historians and other writers were wont
to treat them as having been without learning or scholarship of any kind.

Even Mr. Hallam,[1] with all that judicial temperament and patient
research to which we owe so much, could find no good to say of the Church
or its institutions, characterizing the early university as the abode of
"indigent vagabonds withdrawn from usual labor," and all monks as
positive enemies of learning.

The gloomy survey of Mr. Hallam, clouded no doubt by his antipathy to all
things ecclesiastical, served, however, to arouse the interest of the
period, which led to other studies with different results, and later
writers were able to discern below the surface of religious fanaticism
and superstition so characteristic of those centuries, much of interest
in the history of literature; to show that every age produced learned and
inquisitive men by whom books were highly prized and industriously
collected for their own sakes; in short, to rescue the period from the
stigma of absolute illiteracy.

If the reader cares to pursue the subject further, after going through
the fervid defense of the love of books in the middle ages, of which this
is the introduction, he will find outside of its chapters abundant
evidence that the production and care of books was a matter of great
concern. In the pages of _Mores Catholici; or Ages of Faith_, by Mr.
Kenelm Digby,[2] or of _The Dark Ages_, by Dr. S. R. Maitland,[3] or of
that great work of recent years, _Books and their Makers during the
Middle Ages_, by Mr. George Haven Putnam,[4] he will see vivid and
interesting portraits of a great multitude of mediæval worthies who were
almost lifelong lovers of learning and books, and zealous laborers in
preserving, increasing and transmitting them. And though little of the
mass that has come down to us was worthy of preservation on its own
account as literature, it is exceedingly interesting as a record of
centuries of industry in the face of such difficulties that to workers of
a later period might have seemed insurmountable.

A further fact worthy of mention is that book production was from the art
point of view fully abreast of the other arts during the period, as must
be apparent to any one who examines the collections in some of the
libraries of Europe. Much of this beauty was wrought for the love of the
art itself. In the earlier centuries religious institutions absorbed
nearly all the social intellectual movements as well as the possession of
material riches and land. Kings and princes were occupied with distant
wars which impoverished them and deprived literature and art of that
patronage accorded to it in later times. There is occasional mention,
however, of wealthy laymen, whose religious zeal induced them to give
large sums of money for the copying and ornamentation of books; and there
were in the abbeys and convents lay brothers whose fervent spirits,
burning with poetical imagination, sought in these monastic retreats and
the labor of writing, redemption from their past sins. These men of faith
were happy to consecrate their whole existence to the ornamentation of a
single sacred book, dedicated to the community, which gave them in
exchange the necessaries of life.

The labor of transcribing was held, in the monasteries, to be a full
equivalent of manual labor in the field. The rule of St. Ferreol, written
in the sixth century, says that, "He who does not turn up the earth with
the plough ought to write the parchment with his fingers."

Mention has been made of the difficulties under which books were
produced; and this is a matter which we who enjoy the conveniences of
modern writing and printing can little understand. The hardships of the
_scriptorium_ were greatest, of course, in winter. There were no fires in
the often damp and ill-lighted cells, and the cold in some of the parts
of Europe where books were produced must have been very severe.
Parchment, the material generally used for writing upon after the
seventh century, was at some periods so scarce that copyists were
compelled to resort to the expedient of effacing the writing on old and
less esteemed manuscripts.[5] The form of writing was stiff and regular
and therefore exceedingly slow and irksome.

In some of the monasteries the _scriptorium_ was at least at a later
period, conducted more as a matter of commerce, and making of books
became in time very profitable. The Church continued to hold the keys of
knowledge and to control the means of productions; but the cloistered
cell, where the monk or the layman, who had a penance to work off for a
grave sin, had worked in solitude, gave way to the apartment specially
set aside, where many persons could work together, usually under the
direction of a _librarius_ or chief scribe. In the more carefully
constructed monasteries this apartment was so placed as to adjoin the
calefactory, which allowed the introduction of hot air, when needed.

The seriousness with which the business of copying was considered is well
illustrated by the consecration of the _scriptorium_ which was often
done in words which may be thus translated: "Vouchsafe, O Lord, to bless
this work-room of thy servants, that all which they write therein may be
comprehended by their intelligence and realized in their work."

While the work of the scribes was largely that of copying the scriptures,
gospels, and books of devotion required for the service of the church,
there was a considerable trade in books of a more secular kind.
Particularly was this so in England. The large measure of attention given
to the production of books of legends and romances was a distinguishing
feature of the literature of England at least three centuries previous to
the invention of printing. At about the twelfth century and after, there
was a very large production and sale of books under such headings as
chronicles, satires, sermons, works of science and medicine, treatises on
style, prose romances and epics in verse. Of course a large proportion of
these were written in or translated from the Latin, the former indicating
a pretty general knowledge of that language among those who could buy or
read books at all. That this familiarity with the Latin tongue was not
confined to any particular country is abundantly shown by various

Mr. Merryweather, whose book, as has been intimated, is only a defense
of bibliomania itself as it actually existed in the middle ages, gives
the reader but scant information as to processes of book-making at that
time. But thanks to the painstaking research of others, these details are
now a part of the general knowledge of the development of the book. The
following, taken from Mr. Theodore De Vinne's _Invention of Printing_,
will, we think, be found interesting:

"The size most in fashion was that now known as the demy folio, of which
the leaf is about ten inches wide and fifteen inches long, but smaller
sizes were often made. The space to be occupied by the written text was
mapped out with faint lines, so that the writer could keep his letters on
a line, at even distance from each other and within the prescribed
margin. Each letter was carefully drawn, and filled in or painted with
repeated touches of the pen. With good taste, black ink was most
frequently selected for the text; red ink was used only for the more
prominent words, and the catch-letters, then known as the rubricated
letters. Sometimes texts were written in blue, green, purple, gold or
silver inks, but it was soon discovered that texts in bright color were
not so readable as texts in black.

"When the copyist had finished his sheet he passed it to the designer,
who sketched the border, pictures and initials. The sheet was then given
to the illuminator, who painted it. The ornamentation of a mediæval book
of the first class is beyond description by words or by wood cuts. Every
inch of space was used. Its broad margins were filled with quaint
ornaments, sometimes of high merit, admirably painted in vivid colors.
Grotesque initials, which, with their flourishes, often spanned the full
height of the page, or broad bands of floriated tracery that occupied its
entire width, were the only indications of changes of chapter or subject.
In printer's phrase the composition was "close-up and solid" to the
extreme degree of compactness. The uncommonly free use of red ink for the
smaller initials was not altogether a matter of taste; if the page had
been written entirely in black ink it would have been unreadable through
its blackness. This nicety in writing consumed much time, but the
mediæval copyist was seldom governed by considerations of time or
expense. It was of little consequence whether the book he transcribed
would be finished in one or in ten years. It was required only that he
should keep at his work steadily and do his best. His skill is more to be
commended than his taste. Many of his initials and borders were
outrageously inappropriate for the text for which they were designed. The
gravest truths were hedged in the most childish conceits. Angels,
butterflies, goblins, clowns, birds, snails and monkeys, sometimes in
artistic, but much oftener in grotesque and sometimes in highly offensive
positions are to be found in the illuminated borders of copies of the
gospels and writings of the fathers.

"The book was bound by the forwarder, who sewed the leaves and put them
in a cover of leather or velvet; by the finisher, who ornamented the
cover with gilding and enamel. The illustration of book binding,
published by Amman in his Book of Trades, puts before us many of the
implements still in use. The forwarder, with his customary apron of
leather, is in the foreground, making use of a plow-knife for trimming
the edges of a book. The lying press, which rests obliquely against the
block before him, contains a book that has received the operation of
backing-up from a queer shaped hammer lying upon the floor. The workman
at the end of the room is sewing together the sections of a book, for
sewing was properly regarded as a man's work, and a scientific operation
altogether beyond the capacity of the raw seamstress. The work of the
finisher is not represented, but the brushes, the burnishers, the
sprinklers and the wheel-shaped gilding tools hanging against the wall
leave us no doubt as to their use. There is an air of antiquity about
everything connected with this bookbindery which suggests the thought
that its tools and usages are much older than those of printing.
Chevillier says that seventeen professional bookbinders found regular
employment in making up books for the University of Paris, as early as
1292. Wherever books were produced in quantities, bookbinding was set
apart as a business distinct from that of copying.

"The poor students who copied books for their own use were also obliged
to bind them, which they did in a simple but efficient manner by sewing
together the folded sheets, attaching them to narrow parchment bands, the
ends of which were made to pass through a cover of stout parchment at the
joint near the back. The ends of the bands were then pasted down under
the stiffening sheet of the cover, and the book was pressed. Sometimes
the cover was made flexible by the omission of the stiffening sheet;
sometimes the edges of the leaves were protected by flexible and
overhanging flaps which were made to project over the covers; or by the
insertion in the covers of stout leather strings with which the two
covers were tied together. Ornamentation was entirely neglected, for a
book of this character was made for use and not for show. These methods
of binding were mostly applied to small books intended for the pocket;
the workmanship was rough, but the binding was strong and serviceable."

The book of Mr. Merryweather, here reprinted, is thought worthy of
preservation in a series designed for the library of the booklover. Its
publication followed shortly after that of the works of Digby and
Maitland, but shows much original research and familiarity with early
authorities; and it is much more than either of these, or of any book
with which we are acquainted, a plea in defense of bibliomania in the
middle ages. Indeed the charm of the book may be said to rest largely
upon the earnestness with which he takes up his self-imposed task. One
may fancy that after all he found it not an easy one; in fact his
"Conclusion" is a kind of apology for not having made out a better case.
But this he believes he has proven, "that with all their superstition,
with all their ignorance, their blindness to philosophic light--the monks
of old were hearty lovers of books; that they encouraged learning,
fostered it, and transcribed repeatedly the books which they had rescued
from the destruction of war and time; and so kindly cherished and
husbanded them as intellectual food for posterity. Such being the case,
let our hearts look charitably upon them; and whilst we pity them for
their superstition, or blame them for their pious frauds, love them as
brother men and workers in the mines of literature."

Of the author himself little can be learned. A diligent search revealed
little more than the entry in the London directory which, in various
years from 1840 to 1850, gives his occupation as that of bookseller, at
14 King Street, Holborn. Indeed this is shown by the imprint of the
title-page of _Bibliomania_, which was published in 1849. He published
during the same year _Dies Dominicæ_, and in 1850 _Glimmerings in the
Dark_, and _Lives and Anecdotes of Misers_. The latter has been
immortalized by Charles Dickens as one of the books bought at the
bookseller's shop by Boffin, the Golden Dustman, and which was read to
him by the redoubtable Silas Wegg during Sunday evenings at "Boffin's


[1] Hallam, Henry. "Introduction to the Literature of Europe." 4
    vols. London.

[2] Digby, Kenelm. "Mores Catholici; or Ages of Faith." 3 vols.
    London, 1848.

[3] Maitland, S. R. "The Dark Ages; a Series of Essays Intended to
    Illustrate the State of Religion and Literature in the Ninth, Tenth,
    Eleventh and Twelfth Centuries." London, 1845.

[4] Putnam, George Haven. "Books and their Makers during the Middle
    Ages; a Study of the Conditions of the Production and Distribution
    of Literature from the Fall of the Roman Empire to the Close of the
    Seventeenth Century."

[5] Lacroix, Paul. "Arts of the Middle Ages." Our author, however
    (_vide_ page 58, _note_), quotes the accounts of the Church of
    Norwich to show that parchments sold late in the thirteenth century
    at about 1 d. per sheet; but Putnam and other writers state that up
    to that time it was a very costly commodity.

[6] Dickens's Mutual Friend.


     _Introductory Remarks--Monachism--Book Destroyers--Effects of the
     Reformation on Monkish Learning, etc._

In recent times, in spite of all those outcries which have been so
repeatedly raised against the illiterate state of the dark ages, many and
valuable efforts have been made towards a just elucidation of those
monkish days. These labors have produced evidence of what few
anticipated, and some even now deny, viz., that here and there great
glimmerings of learning are perceivable; and although debased, and often
barbarous too, they were not quite so bad as historians have usually
proclaimed them. It may surprise some, however, that an attempt should be
made to prove that, in the olden time in "merrie Englande," a passion
which Dibdin has christened Bibliomania, existed then, and that there
were many cloistered bibliophiles as warm and enthusiastic in book
collecting as the Doctor himself. But I must here crave the patience of
the reader, and ask him to refrain from denouncing what he may deem a
rash and futile attempt, till he has perused the volume and thought well
upon the many facts contained therein. I am aware that many of these
facts are known to all, but some, I believe, are familiar only to the
antiquary--the lover of musty parchments and the cobwebbed chronicles of
a monastic age. I have endeavored to bring these facts together--to
connect and string them into a continuous narrative, and to extract from
them some light to guide us in forming an opinion on the state of
literature in those ages of darkness and obscurity; and here let it be
understood that I merely wish to give a fact as history records it. I
will not commence by saying the Middle Ages were dark and miserably
ignorant, and search for some poor isolated circumstance to prove it; I
will not affirm that this was pre-eminently the age in which real piety
flourished and literature was fondly cherished, and strive to find all
those facts which show its learning, purposely neglecting those which
display its unlettered ignorance: nor let it be deemed ostentation when I
say that the literary anecdotes and bookish memoranda now submitted to
the reader have been taken, where such a course was practicable, from
the original sources, and the references to the authorities from whence
they are derived have been personally consulted and compared.

That the learning of the Middle Ages has been carelessly represented
there can be little doubt: our finest writers in the paths of history
have employed their pens in denouncing it; some have allowed difference
of opinion as regards ecclesiastical policy to influence their
conclusions; and because the poor scribes were monks, the most licentious
principles, the most dismal ignorance and the most repulsive crimes have
been attributed to them. If the monks deserved such reproaches from
posterity, they have received no quarter; if they possessed virtues as
christians, and honorable sentiments as men, they have met with no reward
in the praise or respect of this liberal age: they were monks!
superstitious priests and followers of Rome! What good could come of
them? It cannot be denied that there were crimes perpetrated by men
aspiring to a state of holy sanctity; there are instances to be met with
of priests violating the rules of decorum and morality; of monks
revelling in the dissipating pleasures of sensual enjoyments, and of nuns
whose frail humanity could not maintain the purity of their virgin vows.
But these instances are too rare to warrant the slanders and scurrility
that historians have heaped upon them. And when we talk of the sensuality
of the monks, of their gross indulgences and corporeal ease, we surely do
so without discrimination; for when we speak of the middle ages thus, our
thoughts are dwelling on the sixteenth century, its mocking piety and
superstitious absurdity; but in the olden time of monastic rule, before
monachism had burst its ancient boundaries, there was surely nothing
physically attractive in the austere and dull monotony of a cloistered
life. Look at the monk; mark his hard, dry studies, and his midnight
prayers, his painful fasting and mortifying of the flesh; what can we
find in this to tempt the epicure or the lover of indolence and sloth?
They were fanatics, blind and credulous--I grant it. They read gross
legends, and put faith in traditionary lies--I grant it; but do not say,
for history will not prove it, that in the middle ages the monks were
wine bibbers and slothful gluttons. But let not the Protestant reader be
too hastily shocked. I am not defending the monastic system, or the
corruption of the cloister--far from it. I would see the usefulness of
man made manifest to the world; but the measure of my faith teaches
charity and forgiveness, and I can find in the functions of the monk much
that must have been useful in those dark days of feudal tyranny and
lordly despotism. We much mistake the influence of the monks by mistaking
their position; we regard them as a class, but forget from whence they
sprang; there was nothing aristocratic about them, as their constituent
parts sufficiently testify; they were, perhaps, the best representatives
of the people that could be named, being derived from all classes of
society. Thus Offa, the Saxon king, and Cædman, the rustic herdsman, were
both monks. These are examples by no means rare, and could easily be
multiplied. Such being the case, could not the monks more readily feel
and sympathize with all, and more clearly discern the frailties of their
brother man, and by kind admonition or stern reproof, mellow down the
ferocity of a Saxon nature, or the proud heart of a Norman tyrant? But
our object is not to analyze the social influence of Monachism in the
middle ages: much might be said against it, and many evils traced to the
sad workings of its evil spirit, but still withal something may be said
in favor of it, and those who regard its influence in _those days alone_
may find more to admire and defend than they expected, or their
Protestant prejudices like to own.

But, leaving these things, I have only to deal with such remains as
relate to the love of books in those times. I would show the means then
in existence of acquiring knowledge, the scarcity or plentitude of books,
the extent of their libraries, and the rules regulating them; and bring
forward those facts which tend to display the general routine of a
literary monk, or the prevalence of Bibliomania in those days.

It is well known that the great national and private libraries of Europe
possess immense collections of manuscripts, which were produced and
transcribed in the monasteries, during the middle ages, thousands there
are in the rich alcoves of the Vatican at Rome, unknown save to a choice
and favored few; thousands there are in the royal library of France, and
thousands too reposing on the dusty shelves of the Bodleian and Cottonian
libraries in England; and yet, these numbers are but a small portion--a
mere relic--of the intellectual productions of a past and obscure
age.[7] The barbarians, who so frequently convulsed the more civilized
portions of Europe, found a morbid pleasure in destroying those works
which bore evidence to the mental superiority of their enemies. In
England, the Saxons, the Danes, and the Normans were each successively
the destroyers of literary productions. The Saxon Chronicle, that
invaluable repository of the events of so many years, bears ample
testimony to numerous instances of the loss of libraries and works of
art, from fire, or by the malice of designing foes. At some periods, so
general was this destruction, so unquenchable the rapacity of those who
caused it, that instead of feeling surprised at the manuscripts of those
ages being so few and scanty, we have cause rather to wonder that so many
have been preserved. For even the numbers which escaped the hands of the
early and unlettered barbarians met with an equally ignominious fate from
those for whom it would be impossible to hold up the darkness of their
age as a plausible excuse for the commission of this egregious folly.
These men over whose sad deeds the bibliophile sighs with mournful
regret, were those who carried out the Reformation, so glorious in its
results; but the righteousness of the means by which those results were
effected are very equivocal indeed. When men form themselves into a
faction and strive for the accomplishment of one purpose, criminal deeds
are perpetrated with impunity, which, individually they would blush and
scorn to do; they feel no direct responsibility, no personal restraint;
and, such as possess fierce passions, under the cloak of an organized
body, give them vent and gratification; and those whose better feelings
lead them to contemplate upon these things content themselves with the
conclusion, that out of evil cometh good.

The noble art of printing was unable, with all its rapid movements, to
rescue from destruction the treasures of the monkish age; the advocates
of the Reformation eagerly sought for and as eagerly destroyed those old
popish volumes, doubtless there was much folly, much exaggerated
superstition pervading them; but there was also some truth, a few facts
worth knowing, and perhaps a little true piety also, and it would have
been no difficult matter to have discriminated between the good and the
bad. But the careless grants of a licentious monarch conferred a
monastery on a court favorite or political partizan without one thought
for the preservation of its contents. It is true a few years after the
dissolution of these houses, the industrious Leland was appointed to
search and rummage over their libraries and to preserve any relic worthy
of such an honor; but it was too late, less learned hands had rifled
those parchment collections long ago, mutilated their finest volumes by
cutting out with childish pleasure the illuminations with which they were
adorned; tearing off the bindings for the gold claps which protected the
treasures within,[8] and chopping up huge folios as fuel for their
blazing hearths, and immense collections were sold as waste paper. Bale,
a strenuous opponent of the monks, thus deplores the loss of their books:
"Never had we bene offended for the losse of our lybraryes beynge so many
in nombre and in so desolate places for the moste parte, yf the chief
monuments and moste notable workes of our excellent wryters had bene
reserved, yf there had bene in every shyre of Englande but one solemyne
library to the preservacyon of those noble workers, and preferrement of
good learnynges in oure posteryte it had bene yet somewhat. But to
destroye all without consyderacion, is and wyll be unto Englande for ever
a most horryble infamy amonge the grave senyours of other nations. A
grete nombre of them whych purchased those superstycyose mansyons
reserved of those lybrarye bokes, some to serve theyr jakes, some to
scoure theyr candelstyckes, and some to rubbe theyr bootes; some they
solde to the grossers and sope sellers, and some they sent over see to
the bokebynders,[9] not in small nombre, but at tymes _whole shippes
ful_. I know a merchant man, whyche shall at thys tyme be nameless, that
boughte the contents of two noble lybraryes for xl shyllyngs pryce, a
shame is it to be spoken. Thys stuffe hathe he occupyed in the stide of
graye paper for the space of more than these ten years, and yet hath
store ynough for as many years to come. A prodyguose example is this, and
to be abhorred of all men who love theyr natyon as they shoulde do."[10]

However pernicious the Roman religion might have been in its practice, it
argues little to the honor of the reformers to have used such means as
this to effect its cure; had they merely destroyed those productions
connected with the controversies of the day, we might perhaps have
excused it, on the score of party feeling; but those who were
commissioned to visit the public libraries of the kingdom were often men
of prejudiced intellects and shortsighted wisdom, and it frequently
happened that an ignorant and excited mob became the executioners of
whole collections.[11] It would be impossible now to estimate the loss.
Manuscripts of ancient and classic date would in their hands receive no
more respect than some dry husky folio on ecclesiastical policy; indeed,
they often destroyed the works of their own party through sheer
ignorance. In a letter sent by Dr. Cox to William Paget, Secretary, he
writes that the proclamation for burning books had been the occasion of
much hurt. "For New Testaments and Bibles (not condemned by proclamation)
have been burned, and that, out of parish churches and good men's houses.
They have burned innumerable of the king's majesties books concerning our
religion lately set forth."[12] The ignorant thus delighted to destroy
that which they did not understand, and the factional spirit of the more
enlightened would not allow them to make one effort for the preservation
of those valuable relics of early English literature, which crowded the
shelves of the monastic libraries; the sign of the cross, the use of red
letters on the title page, the illuminations representing saints, or the
diagrams and circles of a mathematical nature, were at all times deemed
sufficient evidence of their popish origin and fitness for the

When we consider the immense number of MSS. thus destroyed, we cannot
help suspecting that, if they had been carefully preserved and examined,
many valuable and original records would have been discovered. The
catalogues of old monastic establishments, although containing a great
proportion of works on divine and ecclesiastical learning, testify that
the monks did not confine their studies exclusively to legendary tales or
superstitious missals, but that they also cultivated a taste for
classical and general learning. Doubtless, in the ruin of the sixteenth
century, many original works of monkish authors perished, and the
splendor of the transcript rendered it still more liable to destruction;
but I confess, as old Fuller quaintly says, that "there were many volumes
full fraught with superstition which, notwithstanding, might be useful to
learned men, except any will deny apothecaries the privilege of keeping
poison in their shops, when they can make antidotes of them. But besides
this, what beautiful bibles! Rare fathers! Subtle schoolmen! Useful
historians! Ancient! Middle! Modern! What painful comments were here
amongst them! What monuments of mathematics all massacred together!"[14]

More than a cart load of manuscripts were taken away from Merton College
and destroyed, and a vast number from the Baliol and New Colleges,
Oxford;[15] but these instances might be infinitely multiplied, so
terrible were those intemperate outrages. All this tends to enforce upon
us the necessity of using considerable caution in forming an opinion of
the nature and extent of learning prevalent during those ages which
preceded the discovery of the art of printing.


[7] The sad page in the Annals of Literary History recording the
    destruction of books and MSS. fully prove this assertion. In France,
    in the year 1790, 4,194,000 volumes were burnt belonging to the
    suppressed monasteries, about 25,000 of these were manuscripts.

[8] "About this time (Feb. 25, 1550) the Council book mentions the
    king's sending a letter for the purging his library at Westminster.
    The persons are not named, but the business was to cull out all
    superstitious books, as missals, legends, and such like, and to
    deliver the garniture of the books, being either gold or silver, to
    Sir Anthony Aucher. These books were many of them plated with gold
    and silver and curiously embossed. This, as far as we can collect,
    was the superstition that destroyed them. Here avarice had a very
    thin disguise, and the courtiers discovered of what spirit they were
    to a remarkable degree."--Collier's Eccle. History, vol. ii. p. 307.

[9] Any one who can inspect a library of ancient books will find
    proof of this. A collection of vellum scraps which I have derived
    from these sources are very exciting to a bibliomaniac, a choice
    line so abruptly broken, a monkish or classical verse so cruelly
    mutilated! render an inspection of this odd collection, a
    tantalizing amusement.

[10] Bale's Leland's Laboryouse Journey, Preface.

[11] The works of the Schoolmen, viz.: of P. Lombard, T. Aquinas,
     Scotus and his followers and critics also, and such that had popish
     scholars in them they cast out of all college libraries and private
     studies.--_Wood's Hist. Oxon._, vol. i. b. 1. p. 108. And "least
     their impiety and foolishness in this act should be further wanting,
     they brought it to pass that certain rude young men should carry
     this great spoil of books about the city on biers, which being so
     done, to set them down in the common market place, and then burn
     them, to the sorrow of many, as well as of the Protestants as of the
     other party. This was by them styled 'the funeral of Scotus the
     Scotists.' So that at this time and all this king's reign was seldom
     seen anything in the universities but books of poetry, grammar, idle
     songs, and frivolous stuff."--_Ibid., Wood is referring to the reign
     of Edward VI._

[12] Wood's Hist. Oxon, b. i. p. 81.

[13] "Gutch has printed in his 'Collectiana' an order from the
     Queen's commissioners to destroy all capes, vestments, albes,
     missals, books, crosses, and such other idolatrous and superstitious
     monuments whatsoever.'--vol. ii. p. 280."

[14] Fuller's Church History, b. vi. p. 335.

[15] Wood's Oxon, vol. i. b. i. p. 107


     _Duties of the monkish librarian.--Rules of the library.--Lending
     books.--Books allowed the monks for private reading.--Ridiculous
     signs for books.--How the libraries were supported.--A monkish
     blessing on books, etc._

In this chapter I shall proceed to inquire into the duties of the monkish
amanuensis, and show by what laws and regulations the monastic libraries
were governed. The monotonous habits of a cloistered bibliophile will,
perhaps, appear dry and fastidious, but still it is curious and
interesting to observe how carefully the monks regarded their vellum
tomes, how indefatigably they worked to increase their stores, and how
eagerly they sought for books. But besides being regarded as a literary
curiosity, the subject derives importance by the light it throws on the
state of learning in those dark and "bookless" days, and the
illustrations gleaned in this way fully compensate for the tediousness of
the research.

As a bibliophile it is somewhat pleasing to trace a deep book passion
growing up in the barrenness of the cloister, and to find in some cowled
monk a bibliomaniac as warm and enthusiastic in his way as the renowned
"Atticus," or the noble Roxburghe, of more recent times. It is true we
can draw no comparison between the result of their respective labors. The
hundreds, which in the old time were deemed a respectable if not an
extensive collection, would look insignificant beside the ostentatious
array of modern libraries.

But the very tenor of a monastic life compelled the monk to seek the
sweet yet silent companionship of books; the rules of his order and the
regulations of his fraternity enforced the strictest silence in the
execution of his daily and never-ceasing duties. Attending mass, singing
psalms, and midnight prayers, were succeeded by mass, psalms and prayers
in one long undeviating round of yearly obligations; the hours
intervening between these holy exercises were dull and tediously
insupportable if unoccupied. Conversation forbidden, secular amusements
denounced, yet idleness reproached, what could the poor monk seek as a
relief in this distress but the friendly book; the willing and obedient
companion of every one doomed to lonely hours and dismal solitude?

The pride and glory of a monastery was a well stored library, which was
committed to the care of the armarian, and with him rested all the
responsibility of its preservation. According to the Consuetudines
Canonicorum Regularium, it was his duty to have all the books of the
monastery in his keeping catalogued and separately marked with their
proper names.[16] Some of these old catalogues have been preserved, and,
viewed as bibliographical remains of the middle ages, are of considerable
importance; indeed, we cannot form a correct idea of the literature of
those remote times without them. Many productions of authors are recorded
in these brief catalogues whose former existence is only known to us by
these means. There is one circumstance in connexion with them that must
not be forgotten: instead of enumerating all the works which each volume
contained, they merely specified the first, so that a catalogue of fifty
or a hundred volumes might probably have contained nearly double that
number of distinct works. I have seen MSS. formerly belonging to
monasteries, which have been catalogued in this way, containing four or
five others, besides the one mentioned. Designed rather to identify the
book than to describe the contents of each volume, they wrote down the
first word or two of the second leaf--this was the most prevalent usage;
but they often adopted other means, sometimes giving a slight notice of
the works which a volume contained; others took the precaution of noting
down the last word of the last leaf but one,[17] a great advantage, as
the monkish student could more easily detect at a glance whether the
volume was perfect. The armarian was, moreover, particularly enjoined to
inspect with scrupulous care the more ancient volumes, lest the
moth-worms should have got at them, or they had become corrupt or
mutilated, and, if such were the case, he was with great care to restore
them. Probably the armarian was also the bookbinder to the monastery in
ordinary cases, for he is here directed to cover the volumes with tablets
of wood, that the inside may be preserved from moisture, and the
parchment from the injurious effects of dampness. The different orders of
books were to be kept separate from one another, and conveniently
arranged; not squeezed too tight, lest it should injure or confuse them,
but so placed that they might be easily distinguished, and those who
sought them might find them without delay or impediment.[18]
Bibliomaniacs have not been remarkable for their memory or punctuality,
and in the early times the borrower was often forgetful to return the
volume within the specified time. To guard against this, many rules were
framed, nor was the armarian allowed to lend the books, even to
neighboring monasteries, unless he received a bond or promise to restore
them within a certain time, and if the person was entirely unknown, a
book of equal value was required as a security for its safe return. In
all cases the armarian was instructed to make a short memorandum of the
name of the book which he had lent or received. The "great and precious
books" were subject to still more stringent rules, and although under the
conservation of the librarian, he had not the privilege of lending them
to any one without the distinct permission of the abbot.[19] This was,
doubtless, practised by all the monastic libraries, for all generously
lent one another their books. In a collection of chapter orders of the
prior and convent of Durham, bearing date 1235, it is evident that a
similar rule was observed there, which they were not to depart from
except at the desire of the bishop.[20] According to the constitutions
for the government of the Abingdon monastery, the library was under the
care of the Cantor, and all the writings of the church were consigned to
his keeping. He was not allowed to part with the books or lend them
without a sufficient deposit as a pledge for their safe return, except to
persons of consequence and repute.[21] This was the practice at a much
later period. When that renowned bibliomaniac, Richard de Bury, wrote his
delightful little book called _Philobiblon_, the same rules were strictly
in force. With respect to the lending of books, his own directions are
that, if any one apply for a particular volume, the librarian was to
carefully consider whether the library contained another copy of it; if
so, he was at liberty to lend the book, taking care, however, that he
obtained a security which was to exceed the value of the loan; they were
at the same time to make a memorandum in writing of the name of the book,
and the nature of the security deposited for it, with the name of the
party to whom it was lent, with that of the officer or librarian who
delivered it.[22]

We learn by the canons before referred to, that the superintendence of
all the writing and transcribing, whether in or out of the monastery,
belonged to the office of the armarian, and that it was his duty to
provide the scribes with parchment and all things necessary for their
work, and to agree upon the price with those whom he employed. The monks
who were appointed to write in the cloisters he supplied with copies for
transcription; and that no time might be wasted, he was to see that a
good supply was kept up. No one was to give to another what he himself
had been ordered to write, or presume to do anything by his own will or
inclination. Nor was it seemly that the armarian even should give any
orders for transcripts to be made without first receiving the permission
of his superior.[23]

We here catch a glimpse of the quiet life of a monkish student, who
labored with this monotonous regularity to amass his little library. If
we dwell on these scraps of information, we shall discover some marks of
a love of learning among them, and the liberality they displayed in
lending their books to each other is a pleasing trait to dwell upon. They
unhesitatingly imparted to others the knowledge they acquired by their
own study with a brotherly frankness and generosity well becoming the
spirit of a student. This they did by extensive correspondence and the
temporary exchange of their books. The system of loan, which they in
this manner carried on to a considerable extent, is an important feature
in connection with our subject; innumerable and interesting instances of
this may be found in the monastic registers, and the private letters of
the times. The cheapness of literary productions of the present age
render it an absolute waste of time to transcribe a whole volume, and
except with books of great scarcity we seldom think of borrowing or
lending one; having finished its perusal we place it on the shelf and in
future regard it as a book of reference; but in those days one volume did
the work of twenty. It was lent to a neighboring monastery, and this
constituted its publication; for each monastery thus favored, by the aid
perhaps of some half dozen scribes, added a copy to their own library,
and it was often stipulated that on the return of the original a correct
duplicate should accompany it, as a remuneration to its author. Nor was
the volume allowed to remain unread; it was recited aloud at meals, or
when otherwise met together, to the whole community. We shall do well to
bear this in mind, and not hastily judge of the number of students by a
comparison with the number of their books. But it was not always a mere
single volume that the monks lent from their library. Hunter has
printed[24] a list of books lent by the Convent of Henton, A. D. 1343, to
a neighboring monastery, containing twenty volumes. The engagement to
restore these books was formally drawn up and sealed.

In the monasteries the first consideration was to see that the library
was well stored with those books necessary for the performance of the
various offices of the church, but besides these the library ought,
according to established rules, to contain for the "edification of the
brothers" such as were fit and needful to be consulted in common study.
The Bible and great expositors; _Bibliothecæ et majores expositores_,
books of martyrs, lives of saints, homilies, etc.;[25] these and other
large books the monks were allowed to take and study in private, but the
smaller ones they could only study in the library, lest they should be
lost or mislaid. This was also the case with respect to the rare and
choice volumes. When the armarian gave out books to the monks he made a
note of their nature, and took an exact account of their number, so that
he might know in a moment which of the brothers had it for perusal.[26]
Those who studied together were to receive what books they choose; but
when they had satisfied themselves, they were particularly directed to
restore them to their assigned places; and when they at any time received
from the armarian a book for their private reading, they were not allowed
to lend it to any one else, or to use it in common, but to reserve it
especially for his own private reading. The same rule extended to the
singers, who if they required books for their studies, were to apply to
the abbot.[27] The sick brothers were also entitled to the privilege of
receiving from the armarian books for their solace and comfort; but as
soon as the lamps were lighted in the infirmary the books were put away
till the morning, and if not finished, were again given out from the
library.[28] In the more ancient monasteries a similar case was observed
with respect to their books. The rule of St. Pacome directed that the
utmost attention should be paid to their preservation, and that when the
monks went to the refectory they were not to leave their books open, but
to carefully close and put them in their assigned places. The monastery
of St. Pacome contained a vast number of monks; every house, says
Mabillon, was composed of not less than forty monks, and the monastery
embraced thirty or forty houses. Each monk, he adds, possessed his book,
and few rested without forming a library; by which we may infer that the
number of books was considerable.[29] Indeed, it was quite a common
practice in those days, scarce as books were, to allow each of the monks
one or more for his private study, besides granting them access to the
library. The constitutions of Lanfranc, in the year 1072, directed the
librarian, at the commencement of Lent, to deliver a book to each of the
monks for their private reading, allowing them a whole year for its
perusal.[30] There is one circumstance connected with the affairs of the
library quite characteristic of monkish superstition, and bearing painful
testimony to their mistaken ideas of what constituted "good works." In
Martene's book there is a chapter, _De Scientia et Signis_--degrading and
sad; there is something withal curious to be found in it. After enjoining
the most scrupulous silence in the church, in the refectory, in the
cloister, and in the dormitory, at all times, and in all seasons;
transforming those men into perpetual mutes, and even when "actually
necessary," permitting only a whisper to be articulated "in a low voice
in the ear," _submissa voce in aure_, it then proceeds to describe a
series of fantastic grimaces which the monks were to perform on applying
to the armarian for books. The general sign for a book, _generali signi
libri_, was to "extend the hand and make a movement as if turning over
the leaves of a book." For a missal the monk was to make a similar
movement with a sign of the cross; for the gospels the sign of the cross
on the forehead; for an antiphon or book of responses he was to strike
the thumb and little finger of the other hand together; for a book of
offices or gradale to make the sign of a cross and kiss the fingers; for
a tract lay the hand on the abdomen and apply the other hand to the
mouth; for a capitulary make the general sign and extend the clasped
hands to heaven; for a psalter place the hands upon the head in the form
of a crown, such as the king is wont to wear.[31] Religious intolerance
was rampant when this rule was framed; hot and rancorous denunciation was
lavished with amazing prodigality against works of loose morality or
heathen origin; nor did the monks feel much compassion--although they
loved to read them--for the old authors of antiquity. Pagans they were,
and therefore fit only to be named as infidels and dogs, so the monk was
directed for a secular book, "which some pagan wrote after making the
general sign to scratch his ear with his hand, just as a dog itching
would do with his feet, because infidels are not unjustly compared to
such creatures--_quia nec immerito infideles tali animanti
contparantur_."[32] Wretched bigotry and puny malice! Yet what a sad
reflection it is, that with all the foul and heartburning examples which
those dark ages of the monks afford, posterity have failed to profit by
them--religious intolerance, with all its vain-glory and malice,
flourishes still, the cankering worm of many a Christian blossom! Besides
the duties which we have enumerated, there were others which it was the
province of the armarian to fulfil. He was particularly to inspect and
collate those books which, according to the decrees of the church, it was
unlawful to possess different from the authorized copies; these were the
bible, the gospels, missals, epistles, collects graduales, antiphons,
hymns, psalters, lessions, and the monastic rules; these were always to
be alike even in the most minute point.[33] He was moreover directed to
prepare for the use of the brothers short tables respecting the times
mentioned in the capitulary for the various offices of the church, to
make notes upon the matins, the mass, and upon the different orders.[34]
In fact, the monkish amanuensis was expected to undertake all those
matters which required care and learning combined. He wrote the letters
of the monastery, and often filled the office of secretary to my Lord
Abbot. In the monasteries of course the services of the librarian were
unrequited by any pecuniary remuneration, but in the cathedral libraries
a certain salary was sometimes allowed them. Thus we learn that the
amanuensis of the conventual church of Ely received in the year 1372
forty-three shillings and fourpence for his annual duties;[35] and
Oswald, Bishop of Worcester, in the tenth century, gave considerable
landed possessions to a monk of that church as a recompense for his
services as librarian.[36] In some monasteries, in the twelfth century,
if not earlier, they levied a tax on all the members of the community,
who paid a yearly sum to the librarian for binding, preserving, and
purchasing copies for the library. One of these rules, bearing date 1145,
was made by Udon, Abbot of St. Père en Vallée à Chantres, and that it
might be more plausibly received, he taxed himself as well as all the
members of his own house.[37] The librarian sometimes, in addition to his
regular duties, combined the office of precentor to the monastery.[38]
Some of their account-books have been preserved, and by an inspection of
them, we may occasionally gather some interesting and curious hints, as
to the cost of books and writing materials in those times. As may be
supposed, the monkish librarians often became great bibliophiles, for
being in constant communication with choice manuscripts, they soon
acquired a great mania for them. Posterity are also particularly indebted
to the pens of these book conservators of the middle ages; for some of
the best chroniclers and writers of those times were humble librarians to
some religious house.

Not only did the bibliophiles of old exercise the utmost care in the
preservation of their darling books, but the religious basis of their
education and learning prompted them to supplicate the blessing of God
upon their goodly tomes. Although I might easily produce other instances,
one will suffice to give an idea of their nature: "O Lord, send the
virtue of thy Holy Spirit upon these our books; that cleansing them from
all earthly things, by thy holy blessing, they may mercifully enlighten
our hearts and give us true understanding; and grant that by thy
teaching, they may brightly preserve and make full an abundance of good
works according to thy will."[39]


[16] Cap. xxi. Martene de Antiquis Ecclesiæ Ritibus, tom. iii. p.

[17] See Catalogue of Hulne Abbey, Library MS. Harleian. No. 3897.

[18] Martene de Antiq. Eccle. Rit., tom. iii. p. 263.

[19] _Ibid._ Ingulphus tells us that the same rule was observed in
     Croyland Abbey.--_Apud Gale_, p. 104.

[20] Marked b. iv. 26. Surtee Publications, vol. i. p. 121.

[21] Const. admiss. Abbat, et gubernatione Monast. Abendum Cottonian
     M.S. Claudius, b. vi. p. 194.

[22] Philobiblon, 4to. _Oxon_, 1599, chap. xix.

[23] Martene de Ant. Eccl. Ribibus, tom. iii. p. 263. For an
     inattention to this the Council of Soissons, in 1121, ordered some
     transcripts of Abelard's works to be burnt, and severely reproved
     the author for his unpardonable neglect.--_Histoire Littéraire de la
     France_, tom. ix. p. 28.

[24] Catalogues of Monastic Libraries, pp. 16, 17.

[25] Const. Canon. Reg. ap. Martene, tom. iii. p. 263.

[26] _Ibid._

[27] _Ibid._, tom. iii. cap. xxxvi. pp. 269, 270.

[28] Martene, tom. iii. p. 331. For a list of some books applied to
     their use, see MS. Cot. Galba, c. iv. fo. 128.

[29] Mabillon, Traité des Etudes Monastiques, 4to. _Paris_ 1691,
     cap. vi. p. 34.

[30] Wilkin's Concil. tom. i. p. 332.

[31] Stat. pro Reform. ordin. Grandimont. ap. Martene cap. x.

[32] _Ibid._, tom. iv. pp. 289, 339.

[33] Const. Canon. Reg. ap. Martene, tom. iii. p. 263.

[34] _Ibid._, cap. xxi. p. 263.

[35] Stevenson's Supple. to Bentham's Hist. of the Church of Ely, p.

[36] Thomas' Survey of the Church of Worcester, p. 45.

[37] Mabillon. Annal. tom. vi. pp. 651 and 652. Hist. Litt. de la
     France, ix. p. 140.

[38] They managed the pecuniary matters of the fraternity. William
     of Malmsbury was precentor as well as librarian to his monastery.

[39] Martene de Antiq. Eccl. Ritibus ii. p. 302.


     _Scriptoria and the Scribes.--Care in copying.--Bible reading
     among the monks.--Booksellers in the middle ages.--Circulating
     libraries.--Calligraphic art, etc._

As the monasteries were the schools of learning, so their occupants were
the preservers of literature, and, as Herault observes, had they not
taken the trouble to transcribe books, the ancients had been lost to us
for ever; to them, therefore, we owe much. But there are many, however,
who suppose that the monastic establishments were hotbeds of superstition
and fanaticism, from whence nothing of a useful or elevated nature could
possibly emanate. They are too apt to suppose that the human intellect
must be altogether weak and impotent when confined within such narrow
limits; but truth and knowledge can exist even in the dark cells of a
gloomy cloister, and inspire the soul with a fire that can shed a light
far beyond its narrow precincts. Indeed, I scarce know whether to
regret, as some appear to do, that the literature and learning of those
rude times was preserved and fostered by the Christian church; it is
said, that their strict devotion and religious zeal prompted them to
disregard all things but a knowledge of those divine, but such is not the
case; at least, I have not found it so; it is true, as churchmen, they
were principally devoted to the study of divine and ecclesiastical lore;
but it is also certain that in that capacity they gradually infused the
mild spirit of their Master among the darkened society over which they
presided, and among whom they shone as beacons of light in a dreary
desert. But the church did more than this. She preserved to posterity the
profane learnings of Old Greece and Rome; copied it, multiplied it, and
spread it. She recorded to after generations in plain, simple language,
the ecclesiastical and civil events of the past, for it is from the terse
chronicles of the monkish churchmen that we learn now the history of what
happened then. Much as we may dislike the monastic system, the cold,
heartless, gloomy ascetic atmosphere of the cloister, and much as we may
deplore the mental dissipation of man's best attributes, which the system
of those old monks engendered, we must exercise a cool and impartial
judgment, and remember that what now would be intolerable and monstrously
inconsistent with our present state of intellectuality, might at some
remote period, in the ages of darkness and comparative barbarism, have
had its virtues and beneficial influences. As for myself, it would be
difficult to convince me, with all those fine relics of their deeds
before me, those beauteous fanes dedicated to piety and God, those
libraries so crowded with their vellum tomes, so gorgeously adorned, and
the abundant evidence which history bears to their known charity and
hospitable love, that these monks and their system was a scheme of dismal
barbarism; it may be so, but my reading has taught me different; but, on
the other hand, although the monks possessed many excellent qualities,
being the encouragers of literature, the preservers of books, and
promulgators of civilization, we must not hide their numerous and
palpable faults, or overlook the poison which their system of monachism
_ultimately_ infused into the very vitals of society. In the early
centuries, before the absurdities of Romanism were introduced, the
influence of the monastic orders was highly beneficial to our Saxon
ancestors, but in after ages the Church of England was degraded by the
influence of the fast growing abominations of Popedom. She drank
copiously of the deadly potion, and became the blighted and ghostly
shadow of her former self. Forgetting the humility of her divine Lord,
she sought rather to imitate the worldly splendor and arrogance of her
Sovereign Pontiff. The evils too obviously existed to be overlooked; but
it is not my place to further expose them; a more pleasing duty guides my
pen; others have done all this, lashing them painfully for their oft-told
sins. Frail humanity glories in chastizing the frailty of brother man.
But we will not denounce them here, for did not the day of retribution
come? And was not justice satisfied? Having made these few preliminary
remarks, let us, in a brief manner, inquire into the system observed in
the cloisters by the monks for the preservation and transcription of
manuscripts. Let us peep into the quiet cells of those old monks, and see
whether history warrants the unqualified contempt which their efforts in
this department have met with.

In most monasteries there were two kinds of Scriptoria, or writing
offices; for in addition to the large and general apartment used for the
transcription of church books and manuscripts for the library, there were
also several smaller ones occupied by the superiors and the more learned
members of the community, as closets for private devotion and study. Thus
we read, that in the Cistercian orders there were places set apart for
the transcription of books called Scriptoria, or cells assigned to the
scribes, "separate from each other," where the books might be transcribed
in the strictest silence, according to the holy rules of their
founders.[40] These little cells were usually situated in the most
retired part of the monastery, and were probably incapable of
accommodating more than one or two persons;[41] dull and comfortless
places, no doubt, yet they were deemed great luxuries, and the use of
them only granted to such as became distinguished for their piety, or
erudition. We read that when David went to the Isle of Wight, to
Paulinus, to receive his education, he used to sup in the Refectory, but
had a Scriptorium, or study, in his cell, being a famous scribe.[42] The
aged monks, who often lived in these little offices, separate from the
rest of the scribes, were not expected to work so arduously as the rest.
Their employment was comparatively easy; nor were they compelled to work
so long as those in the cloister.[43] There is a curious passage in
Tangmar's Life of St. Bernward, which would lead us to suspect that
private individuals possessed Scriptoria; for, says he, there are
Scriptoria, not only in the monasteries, but in other places, in which
are conceived books equal to the divine works of the philosophers.[44]
The Scriptorium of the monastery in which the general business of a
literary nature was transacted, was an apartment far more extensive and
commodious, fitted up with forms and desks methodically arranged, so as
to contain conveniently a great number of copyists. In some of the
monasteries and cathedrals, they had long ranges of seats one after
another, at which were seated the scribes, one well versed in the subject
on which the book treated, recited from the copy whilst they wrote; so
that, on a word being given out by him, it was copied by all.[45] The
multiplication of manuscripts, under such a system as this, must have
been immense; but they did not always make books, _fecit libros_, as
they called it, in this wholesale manner, but each monk diligently
labored at the transcription of a separate work.

The amount of labor carried on in the Scriptorium, of course, in many
cases depended upon the revenues of the abbey, and the disposition of the
abbot; but this was not always the case, as in some monasteries they
undertook the transcription of books as a matter of commerce, and added
broad lands to their house by the industry of their pens. But the
Scriptorium was frequently supported by resources solely applicable to
its use. Laymen, who had a taste for literature, or who entertained an
esteem for it in others, often at their death bequeathed estates for the
support of the monastic Scriptoria. Robert, one of the Norman leaders,
gave two parts of the tythes of Hatfield, and the tythes of Redburn, for
the support of the Scriptorium of St. Alban's.[46] The one belonging to
the monastery of St. Edmundsbury was endowed with two mills,[47] and in
the church of Ely there is a charter of Bishof Nigellus, granting to the
Scriptorium of the monastery the tythes of Wythessey and Impitor, two
parts of the tythes of the Lordship of Pampesward, with 2s. 2d., and a
messuage in Ely _ad faciendos et emandandos libros_.[48]

The abbot superintended the management of the Scriptorium, and decided
upon the hours for their labor, during which time they were ordered to
work with unremitting diligence, "not leaving to go and wander in
idleness," but to attend solely to the business of transcribing. To
prevent detraction or interruption, no one was allowed to enter except
the abbot, the prior, the sub-prior, and the armarian,[49] as the latter
took charge of all the materials and implements used by the transcribers,
it was his duty to prepare and give them out when required; he made the
ink and cut the parchment ready for use. He was strictly enjoined,
however, to exercise the greatest economy in supplying these precious
materials, and not to give more copies "nec artavos, nec cultellos, nec
scarpellæ, nec membranes," than was actually necessary, or than he had
computed as sufficient for the work; and what the armarian gave them the
monks were to receive without contradiction or contention.[50]

The utmost silence prevailed in the Scriptorium; rules were framed, and
written admonitions hung on the walls, to enforce the greatest care and
diligence in copying exactly from the originals. In Alcuin's works we
find one of these preserved; it is a piece inscribed "_Ad Musæum libros
scribentium_;" the lines are as follows:

    "Hic sideant sacræ scribentes famina legis,
      Nec non sanctorum dicta sacrata Patrum,
    Hæc interserere caveant sua frivola verbis,
      Frivola nec propter erret et ipsa manus:

    Correctosque sibi quærant studiose libellos,
      Tramite quo recto penna volantis eat.
    Per cola distinquant proprios, et commata sensus,
      Et punctos ponant ordine quosque suo.

    Ne vel falsa legat, taceat vel forte repente,
      Ante pios fratres, lector in Ecclesia.
    Est opus egregium sacros jam scribete libros,
      Nec mercede sua scriptor et ipse caret.

    Fodere quam vites, melius est scribere libros,
      Ille suo ventri serviet, iste animæ.
    Vel nova, vel vetera poterit proferre magister
      Plurima, quisque legit dicta sacrata Patrum."[51]

Other means were resorted to besides these to preserve the text of their
books immaculate, it was a common practice for the scribe at the end of
his copy, to adjure all who transcribed from it to use the greatest care,
and to refrain from the least alteration of word or sense. Authors more
especially followed this course, thus at the end of some we find such
injunctions as this.

"I adjure you who shall transcribe this book, by our Lord Jesus Christ
and by his glorious coming, who will come to judge the quick and the
dead, that you compare what you transcribe and diligently correct it by
the copy from which you transcribe it--this adjuration also--and insert
it in your copy."[52]

The Consuetudines Canonicorum, before referred to, also particularly
impressed this upon the monks, and directed that all the brothers who
were engaged as scribes, were not to alter any writing, although in their
own mind they might think it proper, without first receiving the sanction
of the abbot, "_on no account were they to commit so great a
presumption_."[53] But notwithstanding that the scribes were thus
enjoined to use the utmost care in copying books, doubtless an occasional
error crept in, which many causes might have produced, such as bad light,
haste, a little drowsiness, imperfect sight, or even a flickering lamp
was sufficient to produce some trivial error; but in works of importance
the smallest error is of consequence, as some future scribe puzzled by
the blunder, might, in an attempt to correct, still more augment the
imperfection; to guard against this, with respect to the Scriptures, the
most critical care was enforced. Monks advanced in age were alone allowed
to transcribe them, and after their completion they were
read--revised--and reread again, and it is by that means that so uniform
a reading has been preserved, and although slight differences may here
and there occur, there are no books which have traversed through the
shadows of the dark ages, that preserve their original text so pure and
uncorrupt as the copies of the Scriptures, the fathers of the church, and
the ancient writings of the classic authors; sometimes, it is true, a
manuscript of the last order is discovered possessing a very different
reading in some particular passage; but these appear rather as futile
emendations or interpolations of the scribe than as the result of a
downright blunder, and are easily perceivable, for when the monkish
churchmen tampered with ancient copies, it generally originated in a
desire to smooth over the indecencies of the heathen authors, and so
render them less liable to corrupt the holy contemplations of the
devotee; and while we blame the pious fraud, we cannot but respect the
motive that dictated it.

But as regards the Scriptures, we talk of the carelessness of the monks
and the interpolations of the scribes as if these were faults peculiar to
the monastic ages alone; alas! the history of Biblical transmission tells
us differently, the gross perversions, omissions, and errors wrought in
the holy text, proclaim how prevalent these same faults have been in the
ages of _printed literature_, and which appear more palpable by being
produced amidst deep scholars, and surrounded with all the critical
acumen of a learned age. Five or six thousand of these gross blunders, or
these wilful mutilations, protest the unpleasant fact, and show how much
of human grossness it has acquired, and how besmeared with corruption
those sacred pages have become in passing through the hands of man, and
the "revisings" of sectarian minds. I am tempted to illustrate this by an
anecdote related by Sir Nicholas L'Estrange of Hunstanton, and preserved
in a MS. in the Harlein collection.--"Dr. Usher, Bish. of Armath, being
to preach at Paules Crosse and passing hastily by one of the stationers,
called for a Bible, and had a little one of the London edition given him
out, but when he came to looke for his text, that very verse was omitted
in the print: which gave the first occasion of complaint to the king of
the insufferable negligence, and insufficience of the London printers and
presse, and bredde that great contest that followed, betwixt the univers.
of Cambridge and London stationers, about printing of the Bibles."[54]
Gross and numerous indeed were the errors of the corrupt bible text of
that age, and far exceeding even the blunders of monkish pens, and
certainly much less excusable, for in those times they seldom had a large
collection of codices to compare, so that by studying their various
readings, they could arrive at a more certain and authentic version. The
paucity of the sacred volume, if it rendered their pens more liable to
err, served to enforce upon them the necessity of still greater scrutiny.
On looking over a monastic catalogue, the first volume that I search for
is the Bible; and, I feel far more disappointment if I find it not there,
than I do at the absence of Horace or Ovid--there is something so
desolate in the idea of a Christian priest without the Book of Life--of a
minister of God without the fountain of truth--that however favorably we
may be prone to regard them, a thought will arise that the absence of
this sacred book may perhaps be referred to the indolence of the monkish
pen, or to the laxity of priestly piety. But such I am glad to say was
not often the case; the Bible it is true was an expensive book, but can
scarcely be regarded as a rare one; the monastery was indeed poor that
had it not, and when once obtained the monks took care to speedily
transcribe it. Sometimes they only possessed detached portions, but when
this was the case they generally borrowed of some neighboring and more
fortunate monastery, the missing parts to transcribe, and so complete
their own copies. But all this did not make the Bible less loved among
them, or less anxiously and ardently studied, they devoted their days,
and the long hours of the night, to the perusal of those pages of
inspired truth,[55] and it is a calumny without a shadow of foundation to
declare that the monks were careless of scripture reading; it is true
they did not apply that vigor of thought, and unrestrained reflection
upon it which mark the labors of the more modern student, nor did they
often venture to interpret the hidden meaning of the holy mysteries by
the powers of their own mind, but were guided in this important matter by
the works of the fathers. But hence arose a circumstance which gave full
exercise to their mental powers and compelled the monk in spite of his
timidity to think a little for himself. Unfortunately the fathers,
venerable and venerated as they were, after all were but men, with many
of the frailties and all the fallabilities of poor human nature; the pope
might canonize them, and the priesthood bow submissively to their
spiritual guidance, still they remained for all that but mortals of dust
and clay, and their bulky tomes yet retain the swarthiness of the tomb
about them, the withering impress of humanity. Such being the case we,
who do not regard them quite so infallible, feel no surprise at a
circumstance which sorely perplexed the monks of old, they unchained and
unclasped their cumbrous "Works of the Fathers," and pored over those
massy expositions with increasing wonder; surrounded by these holy
guides, these fathers of infallibility, they were like strangers in a
foreign land, did they follow this holy saint they seemed about to
forsake the spiritual direction of one having equal claims to their
obedience and respect; alas! for poor old weak tradition, those
fabrications of man's faulty reason were found, with all their orthodoxy,
to clash woefully in scriptural interpretation. Here was a dilemma for
the monkish student! whose vow of obedience to patristical guidance was
thus sorely perplexed; he read and re-read, analyzed passage after
passage, interpreted word after word; and yet, poor man, his laborious
study was fruitless and unprofitable! What bible student can refrain from
sympathizing with him amidst these torturing doubts and this crowd of
contradiction, but after all we cannot regret this, for we owe to it more
than my feeble pen can write, so immeasurable have been the fruits of
this little unheeded circumstance. It gave birth to many a bright
independent declaration, involving pure lines of scripture
interpretation, which appear in the darkness of those times like fixed
stars before us; to this, in Saxon days, we are indebted for the labors
of Ælfric and his anti-Roman doctrines, whose soul also sympathized with
a later age by translating portions of the Bible into the vulgar tongue,
thus making it accessible to all classes of the people. To this we are
indebted for all the good that resulted from those various heterodoxies
and heresies, which sometimes disturbed the church during the dark ages;
but which wrought much ultimate good by compelling the thoughts of men to
dwell on these important matters. Indeed, to the instability of the
fathers, as a sure guide, we may trace the origin of all those efforts of
the human mind, which cleared the way for the Reformation, and relieved
man from the shackles of these spiritual guides of the monks.

But there were many cloistered Christians who studied the bible
undisturbed by these shadows and doubts, and who, heedless of patristical
lore and saintly wisdom, devoured the spiritual food in its pure and
uncontaminating simplicity--such students, humble, patient, devoted, will
be found crowding the monastic annals, and yielding good evidence of the
same by the holy tenor of their sinless lives, their Christian charity
and love.

But while so many obtained the good title of an "_Amator Scripturarum_,"
as the bible student was called in those monkish days, I do not pretend
to say that the Bible was a common book among them, or that every monk
possessed one--far different indeed was the case--a copy of the Old and
New Testament often supplied the wants of an entire monastery, and in
others, as I have said before, only some detached portions were to be
found in their libraries. Sometimes they were more plentiful, and the
monastery could boast of two or three copies, besides a few separate
portions, and occasionally I have met with instances where besides
several _Biblia Optima_, they enjoyed Hebrew codices and translations,
with numerous copies of the gospels. We must not forget, however, that
the transcription of a Bible was a work of time, and required the outlay
of much industry and wealth. "Brother Tedynton," a monk of Ely, commenced
a Bible in 1396, and was several years before he completed it. The
magnitude of the undertaking can scarcely be imagined by those
unpractised in the art of copying, but when the monk saw the long labor
of his pen before him, and looked upon the well bound strong clasped
volumes, with their clean vellum folios and fine illuminations, he seemed
well repaid for his years of toil and tedious labor, and felt a glow of
pious pleasure as he contemplated his happy acquisition, and the comfort
and solace which he should hereafter derive from its holy pages! We are
not surprised then, that a Bible in those days should be esteemed so
valuable, and capable of realizing a considerable sum. The monk,
independent of its spiritual value, regarded it as a great possession,
worthy of being bestowed at his death, with all the solemnity of a
testamentary process, and of being gratefully acknowledged by the fervent
prayers of the monkish brethren. Kings and nobles offered it as an
appropriate and generous gift, and bishops were deemed benefactors to
their church by adding it to the library. On its covers were written
earnest exhortations to the Bible student, admonishing the greatest care
in its use, and leveling anathemas and excommunications upon any one who
should dare to purloin it. For its greater security it was frequently
chained to a reading desk, and if a duplicate copy was lent to a
neighboring monastery they required a large deposit, or a formal bond
for its safe return.[56] These facts, while they show its value, also
prove how highly it was esteemed among them, and how much the monks loved
the Book of Life.

But how different is the picture now--how opposite all this appears to
the aspect of bible propagation in our own time. Thanks to the
printing-press, to bible societies, and to the benevolence of God, we
cannot enter the humblest cottage of the poorest peasant without
observing the Scriptures on his little shelf--not always read, it is
true--nor always held in veneration as in the old days before us--its
very plentitude and cheapness takes off its attraction to irreligious and
indifferent readers, but to poor and needy Christians what words can
express the fulness of the blessing. Yet while we thank God for this
great boon, let us refrain from casting uncharitable reflections upon the
monks for its comparative paucity among them. If its possession was not
so easily acquired, they were nevertheless true lovers of the Bible, and
preserved and multiplied it in dark and troublous times.

Our remarks have hitherto applied to the monastic scribes alone; but it
is necessary here to speak of the secular copyists, who were an important
class during the middle ages, and supplied the functions of the
bibliopole of the ancients. But the transcribing trade numbered three or
four distinct branches. There were the Librarii Antiquarii, Notarii, and
the Illuminators--occasionally these professions were all united in
one--where perseverance or talent had acquired a knowledge of these
various arts. There appears to have been considerable competition between
these contending bodies. The notarii were jealous of the librarii, and
the librarii in their turn were envious of the antiquarii, who devoted
their ingenuity to the transcription and repairing of old books
especially, rewriting such parts as were defective or erased, and
restoring the dilapidations of the binding. Being learned in old writings
they corrected and revised the copies of ancient codices; of this class
we find mention as far back as the time of Cassiodorus and Isidore.[57]
"They deprived," says Astle, "the poor librarii, or common scriptores, of
great part of their business, so that they found it difficult to gain a
subsistence for themselves and their families. This put them about
finding out more expeditious methods of transcribing books. They formed
the letters smaller, and made use of more conjugations and abbreviations
than had been usual. They proceeded in this manner till the letters
became exceedingly small and extremely difficult to be read."[58] The
fact of there existing a class of men, whose fixed employment or
profession was solely confined to the transcription of ancient writings
and to the repairing of tattered copies, in contradistinction to the
common scribes, and depending entirely upon the exercise of their art as
a means of obtaining a subsistence, leads us to the conclusion that
ancient manuscripts were by no means so very scarce in those days; for
how absurd and useless it would have been for men to qualify themselves
for transcribing these antiquated and venerable codices, if there had
been no probability of obtaining them to transcribe. The fact too of its
becoming the subject of so much competition proves how great was the
demand for their labor.[59]

We are unable, with any positive result, to discover the exact origin of
the secular scribes, though their existence may probably be referred to a
very remote period. The monks seem to have monopolized for some ages the
"_Commercium Librorum_,"[60] and sold and bartered copies to a
considerable extent among each other. We may with some reasonable
grounds, however, conjecture that the profession was flourishing in Saxon
times; for we find several eminent names in the seventh and eighth
centuries who, in their epistolary correspondence, beg their friends to
procure transcripts for them. Benedict, Bishop of Wearmouth, purchased
most of his book treasures at Rome, which was even at that early period
probably a famous mart for such luxuries, as he appears to have journeyed
there for that express purpose. Some of the books which he collected were
presents from his foreign friends; but most of them, as Bede tells us,
were _bought_ by himself, or in accordance with his instructions, by his
friends.[61] Boniface, the Saxon missionary, continually writes for books
to his associates in all parts of Europe. At a subsequent period the
extent and importance of the profession grew amazingly; and in Italy its
followers were particularly numerous in the tenth century, as we learn
from the letters of Gerbert, afterwards Silvester II., who constantly
writes, with the cravings of a bibliomaniac, to his friends for books,
and begs them to get the scribes, who, he adds, in one of his letters,
may be found in all parts of Italy,[62] both in town and in the country,
to make transcripts of certain books for him, and he promises to
reimburse his correspondent all that he expends for the same.

These public scribes derived their principal employment from the monks
and the lawyers; from the former in transcribing their manuscripts, and
by the latter in drawing up their legal instruments. They carried on
their avocation at their own homes like other artisans; but sometimes
when employed by the monks executed their transcripts within the
cloister, where they were boarded, lodged, and received their wages till
their work was done. This was especially the case when some great book
was to be copied, of rarity and price; thus we read of Paulinus, of St.
Albans, sending into distant parts to obtain proficient workmen, who were
paid so much per diem for their labor; their wages were generously
supplied by the Lord of Redburn.[63]

The increase of knowledge and the foundation of the universities gave
birth to the booksellers. Their occupation as a distinct trade originated
at a period coeval with the foundation of these public seminaries,
although the first mention that I am aware of is made by Peter of Blois,
about the year 1170. I shall have occasion to speak more hereafter of
this celebrated scholar, but I may be excused for giving the anecdote
here, as it is so applicable to my subject. It appears, then, that whilst
remaining in Paris to transact some important matter for the King of
England, he entered the shop of "a public dealer in books"--for be it
known that the archdeacon was always on the search, and seldom missed an
opportunity of adding to his library--the bookseller, Peter tells us,
offered him a tempting collection on Jurisprudence; but although his
knowledge of such matters was so great that he did not require them for
his own use, he thought they might be serviceable to his nephew, and
after bargaining a little about the price he counted down the money
agreed upon and left the stall; but no sooner was his back turned than
the Provost of Sexeburgh came in to look over the literary stores of the
stationer, and his eye meeting the recently sold volume, he became
inspired with a wish to possess it; nor could he, on hearing it was
bought and paid for by another, suppress his anxiety to obtain the
treasure; but, offering more money, actually took the volume away by
force. As may be supposed, Archdeacon Peter was sorely annoyed at this
behavior; and "To his dearest companion and friend Master Arnold of
Blois, Peter of Blois Archdeacon of Bath sent greeting," a long and
learned letter, displaying his great knowledge of civil law, and
maintaining the illegality of the provost's conduct.[64] The casual way
in which this is mentioned make it evident that the "_publico mangone
Librorum_" was no unusual personage in those days, but belonged to a
common and recognized profession.

The vast number of students who, by the foundation of universities, were
congregated together, generated of course a proportionate demand for
books, which necessity or luxury prompted them eagerly to purchase: but
there were poor as well as rich students educated in these great
seminaries of learning, whose pecuniary means debarred them from the
acquisition of such costly luxuries; and for this and other cogent
reasons the universities deemed it advantageous, and perhaps expedient,
to frame a code of laws and regulations to provide alike for the literary
wants of all classes and degrees. To effect this they obtained royal
sanction to take the trade entirely under their protection, and
eventually monopolized a sole legislative power over the _Librarii_.

In the college of Navarre a great quantity of ancient documents are
preserved, many of which relate to this curious subject. They were
deposited there by M. Jean Aubert in 1623, accompanied by an inventory of
them, divided into four parts by the first four letters of the alphabet.
In the fourth, under D. 18, there is a chapter entitled "Des Libraires
Appretiateurs, Jurez et Enlumineurs," which contains much interesting
matter relating to the early history of bookselling.[65] These ancient
statutes, collected and printed by the University in the year 1652,[66]
made at various times, and ranging between the years 1275 and 1403, give
us a clear insight into the matter.

The nature of a bookseller's business in those days required no ordinary
capacity, and no shallow store of critical acumen; the purchasing of
manuscripts, the work of transcription, the careful revisal, the
preparation of materials, the tasteful illuminations, and the process of
binding, were each employments requiring some talent and discrimination,
and we are not surprised, therefore, that the avocation of a dealer and
fabricator of these treasures should be highly regarded, and dignified
into a profession, whose followers were invested with all the privileges,
freedoms and exemptions, which the masters and students of the university
enjoyed.[67] But it required these conciliations to render the
restrictive and somewhat severe measures, which she imposed on the
bookselling trade, to be received with any degree of favor or submission.
For whilst the University of Paris, by whom these statutes were framed,
encouraged and elevated the profession of the librarii, she required, on
the other hand, a guarantee of their wealth and mental capacity, to
maintain and to appreciate these important concessions; the bookseller
was expected indeed to be well versed in all branches of science, and to
be thoroughly imbued with a knowledge of those subjects and works of
which he undertook to produce transcripts.[68] She moreover required of
him testimonials to his good character, and efficient security, ratified
by a solemn oath of allegiance,[69] and a promise to observe and submit
to all the present and future laws and regulations of the university. In
some cases, it appears that she restricted the number of librarii, though
this fell into disuse as the wants of the students increased. Twenty-four
seems to have been the original number,[70] which is sufficiently great
to lead to the conclusion that bookselling was a flourishing trade in
those old days. By the statutes of the university, the bookseller was
not allowed to expose his transcripts for sale, without first submitting
them to the inspection of certain officers appointed by the university,
and if an error was discovered, the copies were ordered to be burnt or a
fine levied on them, proportionate to their inaccuracy. Harsh and
stringent as this may appear at first sight, we shall modify our opinion,
on recollecting that the student was in a great degree dependent upon the
care of the transcribers for the fidelity of his copies, which rendered a
rule of this nature almost indispensable; nor should we forget the great
service it bestowed in maintaining the primitive accuracy of ancient
writers, and in transmitting them to us through those ages in their
original purity.[71]

In these times of free trade and unrestrained commercial policy, we shall
regard less favorably a regulation which they enforced at Paris,
depriving the bookseller of the power of fixing a price upon his own
goods. Four booksellers were appointed and sworn in to superintend this
department, and when a new transcript was finished, it was brought by the
bookseller, and they discussed its merits and fixed its value, which
formed the amount the bookseller was compelled to ask for it; if he
demanded of his customer a larger sum, it was deemed a fraudulent
imposition, and punishable as such. Moreover, as an advantage to the
students, the bookseller was expected to make a considerable reduction in
his profits in supplying them with books; by one of the laws of the
university, his profit on each volume was confined to four deniers to
student, and six deniers to a common purchaser. The librarii were still
further restricted in the economy of their trade, by a rule which forbade
any one of them to dispose of his entire stock of books without the
consent of the university; but this, I suspect, implied the disposal of
the stock and trade together, and was intended to intimate that the
introduction of the purchaser would not be allowed, without the
cognizance and sanction of the university.[72] Nor was the bookseller
able to purchase books without her consent, lest they should be of an
immoral or heretical tendency; and they were absolutely forbidden to buy
any of the students, without the permission of the rector.

But restricted as they thus were, the book merchants nevertheless grew
opulent, and transacted an important and extensive trade; sometimes they
purchased parts and sometimes they had whole libraries to sell.[73] Their
dealings were conducted with unusual care, and when a volume of peculiar
rarity or interest was to be sold, a deed of conveyance was drawn up with
legal precision, in the presence of authorized witnesses.

In those days of high prices and book scarcity, the poor student was
sorely impeded in his progress; to provide against these disadvantages,
they framed a law in 1342, at Paris, compelling all public booksellers to
keep books to lend out on hire. The reader will be surprised at the idea
of a circulating library in the middle ages! but there can be no doubt
of the fact, they were established at Paris, Toulouse, Vienna, and
Bologne. These public librarians, too, were obliged to write out regular
catalogues of their books and hang them up in their shops, with the
prices affixed, so that the student might know beforehand what he had to
pay for reading them. I am tempted to give a few extracts from these

    St. Gregory's Commentaries upon Job, for reading 100 pages, 8 sous.
    St. Gregory's Book of Homilies, 28 pages for 12 deniers.
    Isidore's De Summa bona, 24 pages, 12 deniers.
    Anselm's De Veritate de Libertate Arbitrii, 40 pages, 2 sous.
    Peter Lombard's Book of Sentences, 3 sous.
    Scholastic History, 3 sous.
    Augustine's Confessions, 21 pages, 4 deniers.
    Gloss on Matthew, by brother Thomas Aquinas, 57 pages, 3 sous.
    Bible Concordance, 9 sous.
    Bible, 10 sous.[74]

This rate of charge was also fixed by the university, and the students
borrowing these books were privileged to transcribe them if they chose;
if any of them proved imperfect or faulty, they were denounced by the
university, and a fine imposed upon the bookseller who had lent out the

This potent influence exercised by the universities over booksellers
became, in time, much abused, and in addition to these commercial
restraints, they assumed a still less warrantable power over the
original productions of authors; and became virtually the public censors
of books, and had the power of burning or prohibiting any work of
questionable orthodoxy. In the time of Henry the Second, a book was
published by being read over for two or three successive days, before one
of the universities, and if they approved of its doctrines and bestowed
upon it their approbation, it was allowed to be copied extensively for

Stringent as the university rules were, as regards the bookselling trade,
they were, nevertheless, sometimes disregarded or infringed; some
ventured to take more for a book than the sum allowed, and, by
prevarication and secret contracts, eluded the vigilance of the laws.[75]
Some were still bolder, and openly practised the art of a scribe and the
profession of a bookseller, without knowledge or sanction of the
university. This gave rise to much jealousy, and in the University of
Oxford, in the year 1373, they made a decree forbidding any person
exposing books for sale without her licence.[76]

Now, considering all these usages of early bookselling, their numbers,
their opulence, and above all, the circulating libraries which the
librarii established, can we still retain the opinion that books were so
inaccessible in those ante-printing days, when we know that for a few
sous the booklover could obtain good and authenticated copies to peruse,
or transcribe? It may be advanced that these facts solely relate to
universities, and were intended merely to insure a supply of the
necessary books in constant requisition by the students, but such was not
the case; the librarii were essentially public _Librorum Venditores_, and
were glad to dispose of their goods to any who could pay for them.
Indeed, the early bibliomaniacs usually flocked to these book marts to
rummage over the stalls, and to collect their choice volumes. Richard de
Bury obtained many in this way, both at Paris and at Rome.

Of the exact pecuniary value of books during the middle ages, we have no
means of judging. The few instances that have accidentally been recorded
are totally inadequate to enable us to form an opinion. The extravagant
estimate given by some as to the value of books in those days is merely
conjectural, as it necessarily must be, when we remember that the price
was guided by the accuracy of the transcription, the splendor of the
binding, which was often gorgeous to excess, and by the beauty and
richness of the illuminations.[77] Many of the manuscripts of the middle
ages are magnificent in the extreme. Sometimes they inscribed the gospels
and the venerated writings of the fathers with liquid gold, on parchment
of the richest purple,[78] and adorned its brilliant pages with
illuminations of exquisite workmanship.

The first specimens we have of an attempt to embellish manuscripts are
Egyptian. It was a common practice among them at first to color the
initial letter of each chapter or division of their work, and afterwards
to introduce objects of various kinds into the body of the manuscript.

The splendor of the ancient calligraphical productions of Greece,[79] and
the still later ones of Rome, bear repeated testimony that the practice
of this art had spread during the sixth century, if not earlier, to these
powerful empires. England was not tardy in embracing this elegant art. We
have many relics of remote antiquity and exquisite workmanship existing
now, which prove the talent and assiduity of our early Saxon forefathers.

In Ireland the illuminating art was profusely practised at a period as
early as the commencement of the seventh century, and in the eighth we
find it holding forth eminent claims to our respect by the beauty of
their workmanship, and the chastity of their designs. Those well versed
in the study of these ancient manuscripts have been enabled, by extensive
but minute observation, to point out their different characteristics in
various ages, and even to decide upon the school in which a particular
manuscript was produced.

These illuminations, which render the early manuscripts of the monkish
ages so attractive, generally exemplify the rude ideas and tastes of the
time. In perspective they are wofully deficient, and manifest but little
idea of the picturesque or sublime; but here and there we find quite a
gem of art, and, it must be owned, we are seldom tired by monotony of
coloring, or paucity of invention. A study of these parchment
illustrations afford considerable instruction. Not only do they indicate
the state of the pictorial art in the middle ages, but also give us a
comprehensive insight into the scriptural ideas entertained in those
times; and the bible student may learn much from pondering on these
glittering pages; to the historical student, and to the lover of
antiquities, they offer a verdant field of research, and he may obtain in
this way many a glimpse of the manners and customs of those old times
which the pages of the monkish chroniclers have failed to record.

But all this prodigal decoration greatly enhanced the price of books, and
enabled them to produce a sum, which now to us sounds enormously
extravagant. Moreover, it is supposed that the scarcity of parchment
limited the number of books materially, and prevented their increase to
any extent; but I am prone to doubt this assertion, for my own
observations do not help to prove it. Mr. Hallam says, that in
consequence of this, "an unfortunate practice gained ground of erasing a
manuscript in order to substitute another on the same skin. This
occasioned, probably, the loss of many ancient authors who have made way
for the legends of saints, or other ecclesiastical rubbish."[80] But we
may reasonably question this opinion, when we consider the value of books
in the middle ages, and with what esteem the monks regarded, in spite of
all their paganism, those "heathen dogs" of the ancient world. A doubt
has often forced itself upon my mind when turning over the "crackling
leaves" of many ancient MSS., whether the peculiarity mentioned by
Montfaucon, and described as parchment from which former writing had been
erased, may not be owing, in many cases, to its mode of preparation. It
is true, a great proportion of the membrane on which the writings of the
middle ages are inscribed, appear rough and uneven, but I could not
detect, through many manuscripts of a hundred folios--all of which
evinced this roughness--the unobliterated remains of a single letter. And
when I have met with instances, they appear to have been short
writings--perhaps epistles; for the monks were great correspondents, and,
I suspect, kept economy in view, and often carried on an epistolary
intercourse, for a considerable time, with a very limited amount of
parchment, by erasing the letter to make room for the answer. This,
probably, was usual where the matter of their correspondence was of no
especial importance; so that, what our modern critics, being emboldened
by these faint traces of former writing, have declared to possess the
classic appearance of hoary antiquity, may be nothing more than a
complimentary note, or the worthless accounts of some monastic
expenditure. But, careful as they were, what would these monks have
thought of "paper-sparing Pope," who wrote his Iliad on small pieces of
refuse paper? One of the finest passages in that translation, which
describes the parting of Hector and Andromache, is written on part of a
letter which Addison had franked, and is now preserved in the British
Museum. Surely he could afford, these old monks would have said, to
expend some few shillings for paper, on which to inscribe that for which
he was to receive his thousand pounds.

But far from the monastic manuscripts displaying a scantiness of
parchment, we almost invariably find an abundant margin, and a space
between each line almost amounting to prodigality; and to say that the
"vellum was considered more precious than the genius of the author,"[81]
is absurd, when we know that, in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries,
a dozen skins of parchment could be bought for sixpence; whilst that
quantity written upon, if the subject possessed any interest at all,
would fetch considerably more, there always being a demand and ready sale
for books.[82] The supposition, therefore, that the monastic scribes
erased _classical_ manuscripts for the sake of the material, seems
altogether improbable, and certainly destitute of proof. It is true, many
of the classics, as we have them now, are but mere fragments of the
original work. For this, however, we have not to blame the monks, but
barbarous invaders, ravaging flames, and the petty animosities of civil
and religious warfare for the loss of many valuable works of the
classics. By these means, one hundred and five books of Livy have been
lost to us, probably forever. For the thirty which have been preserved,
our thanks are certainly due to the monks. It was from their unpretending
and long-forgotten libraries that many such treasures were brought forth
at the revival of learning, in the fifteenth century, to receive the
admiration of the curious, and the study of the erudite scholar. In this
way Poggio Bracciolini discovered many inestimable manuscripts. Leonardo
Aretino writes in rapturous terms on Poggio's discovery of a perfect copy
of Quintillian. "What a precious acquisition!" he exclaims, "what
unthought of pleasure to behold Quintillian perfect and entire!"[83] In
the same letter we learn that Poggio had discovered Asconius and Flaccus
in the monastery of St. Gall, whose inhabitants regarded them without
much esteem. In the monastery of Langres, his researches were rewarded by
a copy of Cicero's Oration for Cæcina. With the assistance of Bartolomeo
di Montepulciano, he discovered Silius Italicus, Lactantius, Vegetius,
Nonius Marcellus, Ammianus Marcellus, Lucretius, and Columella, and he
found in a monastery at Rome a complete copy of Turtullian.[84] In the
fine old monastery of Casino, so renowned for its classical library in
former days, he met with Julius Frontinus and Firmicus, and transcribed
them with his own hand. At Cologne he obtained a copy of Petronius
Arbiter. But to these we may add Calpurnius's Bucolic,[85] Manilius,
Lucius Septimus, Coper, Eutychius, and Probus. He had anxious hopes of
adding a perfect Livy to the list, which he had been told then existed in
a Cistercian Monastery in Hungary, but, unfortunately, he did not
prosecute his researches in this instance with his usual energy. The
scholar has equally to regret the loss of a perfect Tacitus, which Poggio
had expectations of from the hands of a German monk. We may still more
deplore this, as there is every probability that the monks actually
possessed the precious volume.[86] Nicolas of Treves, a contemporary and
friend of Poggio's, and who was infected, though in a slight degree, with
the same passionate ardor for collecting ancient manuscripts, discovered,
whilst exploring the German monasteries, twelve comedies of Plautus, and
a fragment of Aulus Gellius.[87] Had it not been for the timely aid of
these great men, many would have been irretrievably lost in the many
revolutions and contentions that followed; and, had such been the case,
the monks, of course, would have received the odium, and on their heads
the spleen of the disappointed student would have been prodigally


[40] Martene Thesaurus novus Anecdot. tom. iv. col. 1462.

[41] See Du Cange in Voc., vol. vi. p. 264.

[42] Anglia Sacra, ii. 635. Fosbrooke Brit. Monach., p. 15.

[43] Martene Thes. Nov. Anec. tom. iv. col. 1462. Stat. Ord.
     Cistere, anni 1278, they were allowed for "_Studendum vel

[44] Hildesh. episc apud Leibuit., tom. i. Script. Brunsvic, p. 444.
     I am indebted to Du Cange for this reference.

[45] King's Munimenta Antiqua. Stevenson's Suppl. to Bentham, p. 64.

[46] Matt Paris, p. 51.

[47] Warton's Hist. Eng. Poetry, p. cxiv. Regest. Nig. St. Edmund.

[48] Stevenson's Sup. to Bentham's Church of Norwich, 4to. 1817, p.

[49] Martene de Ant. Eccl. Ritib., cap. xxi. tom. iii. p. 263.

[50] _Ibid._

[51] Alcuini Opera, tom. ii. vol. i. p. 211. Carmin xvii.

[52] Preface to Ælfric's Homilies MS. Lansdowne, No. 373, vol. iv.
     in the British Museum.

[53] Const. Can. Reg. ap. Martene, tom. iii. p. 263.

[54] MS. Harl. 6395, anecdote 348.--I am indebted to D'Israeli for
     the reference, but not for the extract.

[55] The monks were strictly enjoined by the monastic rules to study
     the Bible unceasingly. The Statutes of the Dominican order are
     particularly impressive on this point, and enforce a constant
     reading and critical study of the sacred volume, so as to fortify
     themselves for disputation; they were to peruse it continually, and
     apply to it before all other reading _semper ante aliam lectionem_.
     _Martene Thesan. Nov. Anecdot._, tom. iv. col. 1932. See also cols.
     1789, 1836, 1912, 1917, 1934.

[56] About the year 1225 Roger de Insula, Dean of York, gave several
     copies of the bible to the University of Oxford, and ordered that
     those who borrowed them for perusal should deposit property of equal
     value as a security for their safe return.--_Wood's Hist. Antiq.
     Oxon._ ii. 48.

[57] Muratori Dissert. Quadragesima tertia, vol. iii. column 849.

[58] Astle's Origin of Writing, p. 193.--See also Montfaucon
     Palæographia Græca, lib. iv. p. 263 et 319.

[59] In the year 1300 the pay of a common scribe was about one
     half-penny a day, see Stevenson's Supple. to Bentham's Hist. of the
     Church of Ely. p. 51.

[60] In some orders the monks were not allowed to sell their books
     without the express permission of their superiors. According to a
     statute of the year 1264 the Dominicans were strictly prohibited
     from selling their books or the rules of their order.--_Martene
     Thesaur. Nov. Anecdot._ tom. iv. col. 1741, et col. 1918.

[61] Vita Abbat. Wear. Ed. Ware, p. 26. His fine copy of the
     Cosmographers he bought at Rome.--_Roma Benedictus emerat._

[62] Nosti quot Scriptores in Urbibus aut in Agris Italiæ passim
     habeantur.--Ep. cxxx. See also Ep. xliv. where he speaks of having
     purchased books in Italy, Germany and Belgium, at considerable cost.
     It is the most interesting Bibliomanical letter in the whole

[63] Cottonian MS. in the Brit. Mus.--_Claudius_, E. iv. fo. 105, b.

[64] Epist. lxxi. p. 124, Edit. 4to. His words are--"Cum Dominus Rex
     Anglorum me nuper ad Dominum Regum Francorum nuntium distinasset,
     libri Legum venales Parisius oblati sunt mihi ab illo B. publico
     mangone librorum: qui cum ad opus cujusdam mei nepotis idoner
     viderentur conveni cum eo de pretio et eos apud venditorem
     dismittens, ei pretium numeravi; superveniente vero C. Sexburgensi
     Præposito sicut audini, plus oblulit et licitatione vincens libros
     de domo venditories per violentiam absportauit."

[65] Chevillier, Origines de l'Imprimerie de Paris, 4to. 1694, p.

[66] "Actes concernant le pouvoir et la direction de l'Université de
     Paris sur les Ecrivains de Livres et les Imprimeurs qui leur ont
     succédé comme aussi sur les Libraires Relieurs et Enlumineurs," 4to.
     1652, p. 44. It is very rare, a copy was in Biblioth. Teller, No.
     132, p. 428. A statute of 1275 is given by Lambecii Comment. de
     Augus. Biblioth. Cæsarea Vendobon, vol. ii. pp. 252-267. The
     booksellers are called "Stationarii or Librarii;" _de Stationariis,
     sive Librariis ut Stationarus, qui vulgo appellantur_, etc. See also
     _Du Cange_, vol. vi. col. 716.

[67] Chevillier, p. 301, to whom I am deeply indebted in this branch
     of my inquiry.

[68] Hist. Lit. de la France, tom. ix. p. 84. Chevillier, p. 302.

[69] The form of oath is given in full in the statute of 1323, and
     in that of 1342, Chevillier.

[70] Du Breuil, Le Théâtre des Antiq. de Paris, 4to. 1612, p. 608.

[71] _Ibid._, Hist. Lit. de la France, tom. ix. p. 84.

[72] Chevillier, p. 303.

[73] Martene Anecd. tom. i. p. 502. Hist. Lit. de la France, ix. p.

[74] Chevillier, 319, who gives a long list, printed from an old
     register of the University.

[75] Chevillier, 303.

[76] Vet. Stat. Universit. Oxoniæ, D. fol. 75. Archiv. Bodl.

[77] The Church of Norwich paid £22, 9s. for illuminating a Graduale
     and Consuetudinary in 1374.

[78] Isidore Orig., cap. ii.--Jerome, in his Preface to Job, writes,
     "_Habeant qui volunt veteres libros, vel in membranes purpurus auro
     argentique colore purpuros aurum liquiscit in literis._" Eddius
     Stephanus in his Life of St. Wilfrid, cap xvi., speaks of "Quatuor
     Evangeliæ de auro purissimo in membranis de purpuratis coloratis pro
     animæ suæ remidis scribere jusset." Du Cange, vol. iv. p. 654. See
     also Mabillon Act. Sanct., tom. v. p. 110, who is of opinion that
     these purple MSS. were only designed for princes; see Nouveau Traité
     de Diplomatique, and Montfaucon Palæog. Græc., pp. 45, 218, 226, for
     more on this subject.

[79] See a Fragment in the Brit. Mus. engraved in Shaw's Illuminated
     Ornaments, plate 1.

[80] Middle Ages, vol. ii. p. 437. Mr. Maitland, in his "Dark Ages,"
     enters into a consideration of this matter with much critical
     learning and ingenuity.

[81] D'Israeli Amenities of Lit., vol. i. p. 358.

[82] The Precentor's accounts of the Church of Norwich contain the
     following items:--1300, 5 _dozen parchment_, 2_s._ 6_d._, 40 lbs. of
     ink, 4_s._ 4_d._, 1 gallon of vini decrili, 3_s._, 4 lbs. of
     corporase, 4 lbs. of galls, 2 lbs. of gum arab, 3_s._ 4_d._, to make
     ink. I dismiss these facts with the simple question they naturally
     excite: that if parchment was so _very scarce_, what on earth did
     the monk want with all this ink?

[83] Leonardi Aretini Epist. 1. iv. ep. v.

[84] Mehi Præfatio ad vit Ambrosii Traversarii, p. xxxix.

[85] Mehi Præf., pp. xlviii.--xlix.

[86] A MS. containing five books of Tacitus which had been deemed
     lost was found in Germany during the pontificate of Leo X., and
     deposited in the Laurentian library at Florence.--_Mehi Præf._ p.
     xlvii. See Shepard's Life of Poggio, p. 104, to whom I am much
     indebted for these curious facts.

[87] Shepard's Life of Poggio, p. 101.


     _Canterbury Monastery.--Theodore of
     Dunstan.--Ælfric.--Lanfranc.--Anselm.--St. Augustine's
     books.--Henry de Estria and his
     Catalogue.--Chiclely.--Sellinge.--Rochester.--Gundulph, a Bible
     Student.--Radulphus.--Ascelin of Dover.--Glanvill, etc._

In the foregoing chapters I have endeavored to give the reader an insight
into the means by which the monks multiplied their books, the
opportunities they had of obtaining them, the rules of their libraries
and scriptoria, and the duties of a monkish librarian. I now proceed to
notice some of the English monastic libraries of the middle ages, and by
early records and old manuscripts inquire into their extent, and revel
for a time among the bibliomaniacs of the cloisters. On the spot where
Christianity--more than twelve hundred years ago--first obtained a
permanent footing in Britain, stands the proud metropolitan cathedral of
Canterbury--a venerable and lasting monument of ancient piety and monkish
zeal. St. Augustine, who brought over the glad tidings of the Christian
faith in the year 596, founded that noble structure on the remains of a
church which Roman Christians in remote times had built there. To write
the literary history of its old monastery would spread over more pages
than this volume contains, so many learned and bookish abbots are
mentioned in its monkish annals. Such, however, is beyond the scope of my
present design, and I have only to turn over those ancient chronicles to
find how the love of books flourished in monkish days; so that, whilst I
may here and there pass unnoticed some ingenious author, or only casually
remark upon his talents, all that relate to libraries or book-collecting,
to bibliophiles or scribes, I shall carefully record; and, I think, from
the notes now lying before me, and which I am about to arrange in
something like order, the reader will form a very different idea of
monkish libraries than he previously entertained.

The name that first attracts our attention in the early history of
Canterbury Church is that of Theodore of Tarsus, the father of
Anglo-Saxon literature, and certainly the first who introduced
bibliomania into this island; for when he came on his mission from Rome
in the year 668 he brought with him an extensive library, containing many
Greek and Latin authors, in a knowledge of which he was thoroughly
initiated. Bede tells us that he was well skilled in metrical art,
astronomy, arithmetic, church music, and the Greek and Latin
languages.[88] At his death[89] the library of Christ Church Monastery
was enriched by his valuable books, and in the time of old Lambarde some
of them still remained. He says, in his quaint way, "The Reverend Father
Mathew, nowe Archbishop of Canterburie, whose care for the conservation
of learned monuments can never be sufficiently commended, shewed me, not
long since, the Psalter of David, and sundrie homilies in Greek; Homer
also and some other Greeke authors beautifully wrytten on thicke paper,
with the name of this Theodore prefixed in the fronte, to whose librarie
he reasonably thought, being thereto led by shew of great antiquitie that
they sometimes belonged."[90]

Tatwine was a great book lover, if not a bibliomaniac. "He was renowned
for religious wisdom, and notably learned in Sacred Writ."[91] If he
wrote the many pieces attributed to him, his pen must have been prolific
and his reading curious and diversified. He is said to have composed on
profane and sacred subjects, but his works were unfortunately destroyed
by the Danish invaders, and a book of poems and one of enigmas are all
that have escaped their ravages. The latter work, preserved in our
National Library, contains many curious hints, illustrative of the
manners of those remote days.[92]

Nothelm, or the Bold Helm, succeeded this interesting author; he was a
learned and pious priest of London. The bibliomaniac will somewhat envy
the avocation of this worthy monk whilst searching over the rich
treasures of the Roman archives, from whence he gleaned much valuable
information to aid Bede in compiling his history of the English
Church.[93] Not only was he an industrious scribe but also a talented
author, if we are to believe Pits, who ascribes to him several works,
with a Life of St. Augustine.[94]

It is well known that St. Dunstan was an ingenious scribe, and so
passionately fond of books, that we may unhesitatingly proclaim him a
bibliomaniac. He was a native of Wessex, and resided with his father near
Glastonbury Abbey, which holy spot many a legendary tale rendered dear to
his youthful heart. He entered the Abbey, and devoted his whole time to
reading the wondrous lives and miracles of ascetic men till his mind
became excited to a state of insanity by the many marvels and prodigies
which they unfolded; so that he acquired among the simple monks the
reputation of one holding constant and familiar intercourse with the
beings of another world. On his presentation to the king, which was
effected by the influence of his uncle Athelm, Archbishop of Canterbury,
he soon became a great favorite, but excited so much jealousy there, that
evil reports were industriously spread respecting him. He was accused of
practising magical arts and intriguing with the devil. This induced him
to retire again into the seclusion of a monastic cell, which he
constructed so low that he could scarcely stand upright in it. It was
large enough, however, to hold his forge and other apparatus, for he was
a proficient worker in metals, and made ornaments, and bells for his
church. He was very fond of music, and played with exquisite skill upon
the harp.[95] But what is more to our purpose, his biographer tells us
that he was remarkably skilful in writing and illuminating, and
transcribed many books, adorning them with beautiful paintings, whilst in
this little cell.[96] One of them is preserved in the Bodleian Library at
Oxford. On the front is a painting of St. Dunstan kneeling before our
Saviour, and at the top is written "_Pictura et Scriptura hujus pagine
subtas visi est de propria manu sei Dunstani_."[97] But in the midst of
these ingenious pursuits he did not forget to devote many hours to the
study of the Holy Scriptures, as also to the diligent transcription and
correction of copies of them,[98] and thus arming himself with the sacred
word, he was enabled to withstand the numerous temptations which
surrounded him. Sometimes the devil appeared as a man, and at other times
he was still more severely tempted by the visitations of a beautiful
woman, who strove by the most alluring blandishments to draw that holy
man from the paths of Christian rectitude. In the tenth century such
eminent virtues could not pass unrewarded, and he was advanced to the
Archbishopric of Canterbury in the year 961, but his after life is that
of a saintly politician, and displays nothing that need be mentioned

In the year 969,[99] Ælfric, abbot of St. Alban's, was elected archbishop
of Canterbury. His identity is involved in considerable doubt by the many
contemporaries who bore that name, some of whom, like him, were
celebrated for their talent and erudition; but, leaving the solution of
this difficulty to the antiquarian, we are justified in saying that he
was of noble family, and received his education under Ethelwold, at
Abingdon, about the year 960. He accompanied his master to Winchester,
and Elphegus, bishop of that see, entertained so high an opinion of
Ælfric's learning and capacity, that he sent him to superintend the
recently founded monastery of Cerne, in Devonshire. He there spent all
his hours, unoccupied by the duties of his abbatical office, in the
transcription of books and the nobler avocations of an author. He
composed a Latin Grammar, a work which has won for him the title of "_The
Grammarian_," and he greatly helped to maintain the purity of the
Christian church by composing a large collection of homilies, which
became exceedingly popular during the succeeding century, and are yet in
existence. The preface to these homilies contain several very curious
passages illustrative of the mode of publication resorted to by the
monkish authors, and on that account I am tempted to make the following

"I, Ælfric, the scholar of Ethelwold, to the courteous and venerable
Bishop Sigeric, in the Lord.

"Although it may appear to be an attempt of some rashness and
presumption, yet have I ventured to translate this book out of the Latin
writers, especially those of the 'Holy Scriptures,' into our common
language; for the edification of the ignorant, who only understand this
language when it is either read or heard. Wherefore I have not used
obscure or unintelligible words, but given the plain English. By which
means the hearts, both of the readers and of the hearers, may be reached
more easily; because they are incapable of being otherwise instructed,
than in their native tongue. Indeed, in our translation, we have not ever
been so studious to render word for word, as to give the true sense and
meaning of our authors. Nevertheless, we have used all diligent caution
against deceitful errors, that we may not be found seduced by any heresy,
nor blinded by any deceit. For we have followed these authors in this
translation, namely, St. Austin of Hippo, St. Jerome, Bede, Gregory,
Smaragdus, and sometimes Haymo, whose authority is admitted to be of
great weight with all the faithful. Nor have we only expounded the
treatise of the gospels;... but have also described the passions and
lives of the saints, for the use of the unlearned of this nation. We have
placed forty discourses in this volume, believing this will be sufficient
for one year, if they be recited entirely to the faithful, by the
ministers of the Lord. But the other book which we have now taken in hand
to compose will contain those passions or treatises which are omitted in
this volume." ... "Now, if any one find fault with our translation, that
we have not always given word for word, or that this translation is not
so full as the treatise of the authors themselves, or that in handling of
the gospels we have run them over in a method not exactly conformable to
the order appointed in the church, let him compose a book of his own; by
an interpretation of deeper learning, as shall best agree with his
understanding, this only I beseech him, that he may not pervert this
version of mine, which I hope, by the grace of God, without any boasting,
I have, according to the best of my skill, performed with all diligence.
Now, I most earnestly entreat your goodness, my most gentle father
Sigeric, that you will vouchsafe to correct, by your care, whatever
blemishes of malignant heresy, or of dark deceit, you shall meet with in
my translation, and then permit this little book to be ascribed to your
authority, and not to the meanness of a person of my unworthy character.
Farewell in the Almighty God continually. Amen."[100]

I have before alluded to the care observed by the scribes in copying
their manuscripts, and the moderns may deem themselves fortunate that
they did so; for although many interpolations, or emendations, as they
called them, occur in monkish transcripts, on the whole, their integrity,
in this respect, forms a redeeming quality in connexion with their
learning. In another preface, affixed to the second collection of his
homilies, Ælfric thus explains his design in translating them:

"Ælfric, a monk and priest, although a man of less abilities than are
requisite for one in such orders, was sent, in the days of King Æthelred,
from Alphege, the bishop and successor of Æthelwold, to a monastery which
is called Cernel, at the desire of Æthelmer, the Thane, whose noble birth
and goodness is everywhere known. Then ran it in my mind, I trust,
through the grace of God, that I ought to translate this book out of the
Latin tongue into the English language not upon presumption of great
learning, but because I saw and heard much error in many English books,
which ignorant men, through their simplicity, esteemed great wisdom, and
because it grieved me that they neither knew, nor had the gospel learning
in their writing, except from those men that understood Latin, and those
books which are to be had of King Alfred's, which he skilfully translated
from Latin into English."[101]

From these extracts we may gain some idea of the state of learning in
those days, and they would seem, in some measure, to justify the opinion,
that the laity paid but little attention to such matters, and I more
anxiously present the reader with these scraps, because they depict the
state of literature in those times far better than a volume of conjecture
could do. It is not consistent with my design to enter into an analysis
of these homilies. Let the reader, however, draw some idea of their
nature from the one written for Easter Sunday, which has been deemed
sufficient proof that the Saxon Church ever denied the Romish doctrine of
transubstantiation; for he there expressly states, in terms so plain
that all the sophistry of the Roman Catholic writers cannot pervert its
obvious meaning, that the bread and wine is only typical of the body and
blood of our Saviour.

To one who has spent much time in reading the lives and writings of the
monkish theologians, how refreshing is such a character as that of
Ælfric's. Often, indeed, will the student close the volumes of those old
monastic writers with a sad, depressed, and almost broken heart; so often
will he find men who seem capable of better things, who here and there
breathe forth all the warm aspirations of a devout and Christian heart,
bowed down and grovelling in the dust, as it were, to prove their blind
submission to the Pope, thinking, poor fellows!--for from my very heart I
pity them--that by so doing they were preaching that humility so
acceptable to the Lord.

Cheering then, to the heart it is to find this monotony broken by such an
instance, and although we find Ælfric occasionally diverging into the
paths of papistical error, he spreads a ray of light over the gloom of
those Saxon days, and offers pleasing evidence that Christ never forsook
his church; that even amidst the peril and darkness of those monkish ages
there were some who mourned, though it might have been in a monastery,
submissive to a Roman Pontiff, the depravity and corruption with which
the heart of man had marred it.

To still better maintain the discipline of the church, he wrote a set of
canons, which he addressed to Wulfin, or Wulfsine, bishop of Sherbourne.
With many of the doctrines advocated therein, the protestant will not
agree; but the bibliophile will admit that he gave an indication of his
love of books by the 21st Canon, which directs that, "Before a priest can
be ordained, he must be armed with the sacred books, for the spiritual
battle, namely, a Psalter, Book of Epistles, Book of Gospels, the Missal
Book, Books of Hymns, the Manual, or Euchiridion, the Gerim, the
Passional, the Pænitential, and the Lectionary, or Reading Book; these
the diligent priest requires, and let him be careful that they are all
accurately written, and free from faults."[102]

About the same time, Ælfric wrote a treatise on the Old and New
Testaments, and in it we find an account of his labors in Biblical
Literature. He did more in laying open the holy mysteries of the gospel
to the perusal of the laity, by translating them into the Saxon tongue,
than any other before him. He gave them, in a vernacular version, the
Pentateuch, Joshua, Judges, Esther, Job, Judith, two Books of Maccabees,
and a portion of the Book of Kings, and it is for these labors, above all
others, that the bible student will venerate his name, but he will look,
perhaps, anxiously, hopefully, to these early attempts at Bible
propagation, and expect to observe the ecclesiastical orders, at least,
shake off a little of their absurd dependence on secondary sources for
biblical instruction. But, no; they still sadly clung to traditional
interpretation; they read the Word of God mystified by the fathers, good
men, many of them, devout and holy saints, but why approach God through
man, when we have His own prescription, in sweet encouraging words, to
come, however humble or lowly we may be, to His throne, and ask with our
own lips for those blessings so needful for the soul. Ælfric, in a letter
addressed to Sigwerd, prefixed to his Treatise on the Old and New
Testament, thus speaks of his biblical labors:

"Abbot Elfricke greeteth friendly, Sigwerd at last Heolon. True it is I
tell thee that very wise is he who speaketh by his doings; and well
proceedeth he doth with God and the world who furnisheth himselfe with
good works. And very plaine it is in holy scripture, that holy men
employed in well doing were in this world held in good reputation, and as
saints now enjoy the kingdom of heaven, and the remembrance of them
continueth for ever, because of their consent with God and relying on
him, carelesse men who lead their life in all idleness and so end it, the
memory of them is forgotten in holy writ, saving that the Old Testament
records their ill deeds and how they were therefore comdemned. Thou hast
oft entreated me for English Scripture .... and when I was with thee
great mone thou madest that thou couldst get none of my writings. Now
will I that thou have at least this little, since knowledge is so
acceptable to thee, and thou wilt have it rather than be altogether
without my books...... God bestoweth sevenfold grace on mankind, (whereof
I have already written in another English Treatise,) as the prophet
Isaiah hath recorded in the book of his prophesie." In speaking of the
remaining books of the Pentateuch, he does so in a cursory manner, and
excuses himself because he had "written thereof more at large." "The book
which Moses wrote, called the book of Joshua, sheweth how he went with
the people of Israel unto Abraham's country, and how he won it, and how
the sun stood still while he got the victory, and how he divided the
land; this book also I turned into English for prince Ethelverd, wherein
a man may behold the great wonders of God really fulfilled." ......
"After him known it is that there were in the land certaine judges over
Israel, who guided the people as it is written in the book of Judges
..... of this whoso hath desire to hear further, may read it in that
English book which I translated concerning the same." ..... "Of the book
of Kings, I have translated also some part into English," "the book of
Esther, I briefly after my manner translated into English," and "The
Widow Judith who overcame Holophernes, the Syrian General, hath her book
also, among these, concerning her own victory and _Englished according to
my skill for your example_, that ye men may also defend your country by
force of arms, against the invasion of a foreign host." "Two books of
Machabeus, to the glory of God, I have turned also into English, and so
read them, you may if you please, for your instruction." And at the end
we find him again admonishing the scribes to use the pen with
faithfulness. "Whosoever," says he, "shall write out this book, let him
write it according to the copy, and for God's love correct it, that it be
not faulty, less he thereby be discredited, and I shent."[103]

This learned prelate died on the 16th of November, 1006, after a life
spent thus in the service of Christ and the cause of learning; by his
will he bequeathed to the Abbey of St. Alban's, besides some landed
possessions, his little library of books;[104] he was honorably buried at
Abingdon, but during the reign of Canute, his bones were removed to

Passing on a few years, we come to that period when a new light shone
upon the lethargy of the Saxons; the learning and erudition which had
been fostering in the snug monasteries of Normandy, hitherto
silent--buried as it were--but yet fast growing to maturity, accompanied
the sword of the Norman duke, and added to the glory of the conquering
hero, by their splendid intellectual endowments. All this emulated and
roused the Saxons from their slumber; and, rubbing their laziness away,
they again grasped the pen with the full nerve and energy of their
nature; a reaction ensued, literature was respected, learning prospered,
and copious work flowed in upon the scribes; the crackling of parchment,
and the din of controversy bespoke the presence of this revival in the
cloisters of the English monasteries; books, the weapons spiritual of the
monks, libraries, the magazines of the church militant were preserved,
amassed, and at last deemed indispensable.[105] Such was the effect on
our national literature of that gushing in of the Norman conquerors, so
deeply imbued with learning, so polished, and withal so armed with
classical and patristic lore were they.

Foremost in the rank we find the learned Lanfranc, that patron of
literature, that indefatigable scribe and anxious book collector, who was
endowed with an erudition far more deep and comprehensive than any other
of his day. He was born at Pavia, in 1005, and received there the first
elements of his education;[106] he afterwards went to Bologna, and from
thence to Avranches, where he undertook the education of many celebrated
scholars of that century, and instructed them in sacred and secular
learning, _in sacris et secularibus erudivi literis_.[107] Whilst
proceeding on a journey to Rome he was attacked by some robbers, who
maltreated and left him almost dead; in this condition he was found by
some peasants who conveyed him to the monastery of Bec; the monks with
their usual hospitable charity tended and so assiduously nourished him in
his sickness, that on his recovery he became one of their fraternity. A
few years after, he was appointed prior and founded a school there, which
did immense service to literature and science; he also collected a great
library which was renowned and esteemed in his day,[108] and he increased
their value by a critical revisal of their text. He was well aware that
in works so voluminous as those of the fathers, the scribes through so
many generations could not be expected to observe an unanimous
infallibility; but knowing too that even the most essential doctrines of
the holy and catholic church were founded on patristical authority, he
was deeply impressed with the necessity of keeping their writings in all
their primitive integrity; an end so desirable, well repaid the
tediousness of the undertaking, and he cheerfully spent much time in
collecting and comparing codices, in studying their various readings or
erasing the spurious interpolations, engendered by the carelessness or
the pious frauds of monkish scribes.[109] He lavished his care in a
similar manner on the Bible: considering the far distant period from
which that holy volume has descended to us, it is astounding that the
vicissitudes, the perils, the darkness of near eighteen hundred years,
have failed to mar the divinity of that sacred book; not all the blunders
of nodding scribes could do it, not all the monkish interpolations, or
the cunning of sectarian pens could do it, for in all times the faithful
church of Christ watched over it with a jealous care, supplied each
erasure and expelled each false addition. Lanfranc was one of the most
vigilant of these Scripture guards, and his own industry blest his church
with the bible text, purified from the gross handmarks of human meddling.
I learn, from the Benedictines of St. Maur, that there is still preserved
in the Abbey of St. Martin de Sécz, the first ten conferences of Cassian
corrected by the efficient hand of this great critical student, at the
end of the manuscript these words are written, "_Hucusque ago Lanfrancus
correxi_."[110] The works of St. Ambrose, on which he bestowed similar
care, are preserved in the library of St. Vincent du Mans.[111]

When he was promoted to the See of Canterbury, he brought with him a
copious supply of books, and spread the influence of his learning over
the English monasteries; but with all the cares inseparably connected
with the dignity of Primate of England, he still found time to gratify
his bookloving propensities, and to continue his critical labors; indeed
he worked day and night in the service of the church, _servitio
Ecclesiæ_, and in correcting the books which the scribes had
written.[112] From the profusion of his library he was enabled to lend
many volumes to the monks, so that by making transcripts, they might add
to their own stores--thus we know that he lent to Paulen, Abbot of St.
Albans, a great number, who kept his scribes hard at work transcribing
them, and built a scriptorium for the transaction of these pleasing
labors; but more of this hereafter.

Anselm, too, was a renowned and book-loving prelate, and if his pride and
haughtiness wrought warm dissensions and ruptures in the church, he often
stole away to forget them in the pages of his book. At an early age he
acquired this fondness for reading, and whilst engaged as a monkish
student, he applied his mind to the perusal of books with wonderful
perseverance, and when some favorite volume absorbed his attention, he
could scarce leave it night or day.[113] Industry so indefatigable
ensured a certain success, and he became eminent for his deep and
comprehensive learning; his epistles bear ample testimony to his
extensive reading and intimate acquaintance with the authors of
antiquity;[114] in one of his letters he praises a monk named Maurice,
for his success in study, who was learning _Virgil_ and some other old
writers, under Arnulph the grammarian.

All day long Anselm was occupied in giving wise counsel to those that
needed it; and a great part of the night _pars maxima noctis_ he spent in
correcting his darling volumes, and freeing them from the inaccuracies of
the scribes.[115] The oil in the lamp burnt low, still that bibliomaniac
studiously pursued his favorite avocation. So great was the love of
book-collecting engrafted into his mind, that he omitted no opportunity
of obtaining them--numerous instances occur in his epistles of his
begging the loan of some volume for transcription;[116] in more than one,
I think, he asks for portions of the Holy Scriptures which he was always
anxious to obtain to compare their various readings, and to enable him
with greater confidence to correct his own copies.

In the early part of the twelfth century, the monks of Canterbury
transcribed a vast number of valuable manuscripts, in which they were
greatly assisted by monk Edwine, who had arrived at considerable
proficiency in the calligraphical art, as a volume of his transcribing,
in Trinity college, Cambridge, informs us;[117] it is a Latin Psalter,
with a Saxon gloss, beautifully illuminated in gold and colors; at the
end appears the figure of the monkish scribe, holding the pen in his hand
to indicate his avocation, and an inscription extols his ingenuity in the

Succeeding archbishops greatly enriched the library at Canterbury. Hubert
Walter, who was appointed primate in 1191, gave the proceeds of the
church of Halgast to furnish books for the library;[119] and Robert
Kildwardly, archbishop in 1272, a man of great learning and wisdom, a
remarkable orator and grammarian, wrote a great number of books, and was
passionately fond of collecting them.[120]

I learn from Wanley, that there is a large folio manuscript in the
library of Trinity Hall, Cambridge, written about the time of Henry V. by
a monk of St. Augustine's Abbey, Canterbury, containing the history of
Christ Church; this volume proves its author to have been something of a
bibliophile, and that is why I mention it, for he gives an account of
some books then preserved, which were sent over by Pope Gregory to St.
Augustine; these precious volumes consisted of a Bible in two volumes,
called "Biblia Gregorian," beautifully written, with some of the leaves
tinted with purple and rose-color, and the capital letters rubricated.
This interesting and venerable MS. so immediately connected with the
first ages of the Christian church of Britain, was in existence in the
time of James I., as we learn by a passage in a scarce tract entitled "A
Petition Apologetical," addressed by the Catholics to his majesty, where,
as a proof that we derive our knowledge of Scripture originally from the
church of Rome; they say, "The very original Bible, the self-same
_Numero_ which St. Gregory sent in with our apostle, St. Augustine, being
as yet reserved by God's special providence, as testimony that what
Scriptures we have, we had them from Rome."[121]

He next mentions two Psalters, one of which I have seen; it is among the
manuscripts in the Cotton collection,[122] and bears full evidence of its
great antiquity. This early gem of biblical literature numbers 160
folios; it contains the Roman Psalter, with a Saxon interlinear
translation, written on stout vellum, in a clear, bold hand. On opening
the volume, we find the first page enriched with a dazzling specimen of
monkish skill--it is a painting of our Saviour pointing with his right
hand to heaven, and in his left holding the sacred book; the corners are
occupied with figures of animals, and the whole wrought on a glittering
ground work, is rendered still more gorgeous by the contrast which the
purple robes of Jesus display; on the reverse of this fine illumination
there is a beautiful tesselated ornament, interwoven with animals,
flowers, and grotesque figures, around which are miniatures of our
Saviour, David, and some of the apostles. In a line at the bottom the
word CATVSVIR is inscribed. Very much inferior to this in point of art is
the illumination, at folio 31, representing David playing his harp,
surrounded by a musical coterie; it is probably the workmanship of a more
modern, but less skilful scribe of the Saxon school. The smaller
ornaments and initial letters throughout the manuscript display great
intricacy of design.

The writer next describes two copies of the Gospels, both now in the
Bodleian Collection at Oxford. A Passionarium Sanctorum, a book for the
altar, on one side of which was the image of our Saviour wrought in gold,
and lastly, an exposition of the Epistles and Gospels; the monkish
bookworm tells us that these membraneous treasures were the most ancient
books in all the churches of England.[123]

A good and liberal monk, named Henry De Estria, who was elected prior in
the year 1285, devoted both his time and wealth to the interests of his
monastery, and is said to have expended £900 in repairing the choir and
chapter-house.[124] He wrote a book beginning, "_Memoriale Henerici
Prioris Monasteri Xpi Cantuariæ_,"[125] now preserved in the Cotton
collection; it contains the most extensive monastic catalogue I had ever
seen, and sufficiently proves how Bibliomania flourished in that noble
monastery. It occupies no less than thirty-eight treble-columned folio
pages, and contains the titles of more than three thousand works. To
attempt to convey to the reader an idea of this curious and sumptuous
library, without transcribing a large proportion of its catalogue, I am
afraid will be a futile labor; but as that would occupy too much space,
and to many of my readers be, after all, dry and uninteresting, I shall
merely give the names of some of the most conspicuous. Years indeed it
must have required to have amassed a collection so brilliant and superb
in those days of book scarcity. Surprise and wonder almost surpass the
admiration we feel at beholding this proud testimonial of monkish
industry and early bibliomania. Many a choice scribe, and many an _Amator
Librorum_ must have devoted his pen and purse to effect so noble an
acquisition. Like most of the monastic libraries, it possessed a great
proportion of biblical literature--copies of the Bible whole and in
parts, commentaries on the same, and numerous glossaries and concordances
show how much care the monks bestowed on the sacred writings, and how
deeply they were studied in those old days. In patristic learning the
library was unusually rich, embracing the most eminent and valuable
writings of the Fathers, as may be seen by the following names, of whose
works the catalogue enumerates many volumes:


Much as we may respect them for all this, our gratitude will materially
increase when we learn how serviceable the monks of Canterbury were in
preserving the old dead authors of Greece and Rome. We do not, from the
very nature of their lives being so devoted to religion and piety, expect
this; and knowing, too, what "heathen dogs" the monks thought these
authors of idolatry, combined with our notion, that they, far from being
the conservers, were the destroyers, of classic MSS., for the sake, as
some tell us, of the parchment on which they were inscribed, we are
somewhat staggered in our opinion to find in their library the following
brilliant array of the wise men of the ancient world:

    Etc., etc.

Nor were they mere fragments of these authors, but, in many cases,
considerable collections; of Aristotle, for instance, they possessed
numerous works, with many commentaries upon him. Of Seneca a still more
extensive and valuable one; and in the works of the eloquent Tully, they
were also equally rich. Of his _Paradoxa, de Senectute, de Amiticia_,
etc., and _his Offices_, they had more copies than one, a proof of the
respect and esteem with which he was regarded. In miscellaneous
literature, and in the productions of the middle age writers, the
catalogue teems with an abundant supply, and includes:

    Rabanus Maurus,
    Thomas Aquinas,
    Peter Lombard,
    William of Malmsbury,
    John of Salisbury,
    Girald Barry,
    Thomas Baldwin,
    Robert Grosetete,
    Gregory Nazianzen,
    History of England,
    Gesti Alexandri Magni,
    Hystoria Longobardos,
    Hystoriæ Scholasticæ,
    Chronicles _Latine et Anglice_,
    Chronographia Necephori.

But I trust the reader will not rest satisfied with these few samples of
the goodly store, but inspect the catalogue for himself. It would occupy,
as I said before, too much space to enumerate even a small proportion of
its many treasures, which treat of all branches of literature and
science, natural history, medicine, ethics, philosophy, rhetoric,
grammar, poetry, and music; each shared the studious attention of the
monks, and a curious "_Liber de Astronomia_" taught them the rudiments of
that sublime science, but which they were too apt to confound with its
offspring, astrology, as we may infer, was the case with the monks of
Canterbury, for their library contained a "_Liber de Astroloebus_,"
and the "Prophesies of Merlin."

Many hints connected with the literary portion of a monastic life may
sometimes be found in these catalogues. It was evidently usual at Christ
Church Monastery to keep apart a number of books for the private study of
the monks in the cloister, which I imagine they were at liberty to use at
any time.[126]

A portion of the catalogue of monk Henry is headed "_Lib. de Armariole
Claustre_,"[127] under which it is pleasing to observe a Bible, in two
volumes, specified as for the use of the infirmary, with devotional
books, lives of the fathers, a history of England, the works of Bede,
Isidore, Boethius, Rabanus Maurus, Cassiodorus, and many others of equal
celebrity. In another portion of the manuscript, we find a list of their
church books, written at the same time;[128] it affords a brilliant proof
of the plentitude of the gospels among them; for no less than twenty-five
copies are described. We may judge to what height the art of bookbinding
had arrived by the account here given of these precious volumes. Some
were in a splendid coopertoria of gold and silver, and others exquisitely
ornamented with figures of our Saviour and the four Evangelists.[129] But
this extravagant costliness rendered them attractive objects to pilfering
hands, and somewhat accounts for the lament of the industrious Somner,
who says that the library was "shamefully robbed and spoiled of them

Our remarks on the monastic library at Canterbury are drawing to a close.
Henry Chiclely, archbishop in 1413, an excellent man, and a great
promoter of learning, rebuilt the library of the church, and furnished it
with many a choice tome.[131] His esteem for literature was so great,
that he built two colleges at Oxford.[132] William Sellinge, who was a
man of erudition, and deeply imbued with the book-loving mania, was
elected prior in 1472. He is said to have studied at Bonania, in Italy;
and, during his travels, he gathered together "all the ancient authors,
both Greek and Latine, he could get," and returned laden with them to his
own country. Many of them were of great rarity, and it is said that a
Tully _de Republica_ was among them. Unfortunately, they were all burnt
by a fire in the monastery.[133]

I have said enough, I think, to show that books were eagerly sought
after, and deeply appreciated, in Canterbury cloisters during the middle
ages, and when the reader considers that these facts have been preserved
from sheer accident, and, therefore, only enable us to obtain a partial
glimpse of the actual state of their library, he will be ready to admit
that bibliomania existed then, and will feel thankful, too, that it did,
for to its influence, surely, we are indebted for the preservation of
much that is valuable and instructive in history and general

We can scarcely leave Kent without a word or two respecting the church of
the Rochester monks. It was founded by King Ethelbert, who conferred upon
it the dignities of an episcopal see, in the year 600; and, dedicating it
to St. Andrew, completed the good work by many donations and emoluments.
The revenues of the see were always limited, and it is said that its
poverty caused it to be treated with kind forbearance by the
ecclesiastical commissioners at the period of the Reformation.

I have not been able to meet with any catalogue of its monastic library,
and the only hints I can obtain relative to their books are such as may
be gathered from the recorded donations of its learned prelates and
monks. In the year 1077, Gundulph, a Norman bishop, who is justly
celebrated for his architectural talents, rebuilt the cathedral, and
considerable remains of this structure are still to be seen in the nave
and west front, and display that profuse decoration united with ponderous
stability, for which the Norman buildings are so remarkable. This
munificent prelate also enriched the church with numerous and costly
ornaments; the encouragement he gave to learning calls for some notice
here. Trained in one of the most flourishing of the Norman schools, we
are not surprised that in his early youth he was so studious and
inquisitive after knowledge as to merit the especial commendation of his
biographer.[135] William of Malmsbury, too, highly extols him "for his
abundant piety," and tells us that he was not inexperienced in literary
avocations; he was polished and courageous in the management of judicial
affairs, and a close, devoted student of the divine writings;[136] as a
scribe he was industrious and critical, and the great purpose to which he
applied his patience and erudition was a careful revisal of the Holy
Scriptures. He purged the sacred volume of the inadvertencies of the
scribes, and restored the purity of the text; for transcribing after
transcribing had caused some errors and diversity of readings to occur,
between the English and foreign codices, in spite of all the pious care
of the monastic copyists; this was perplexing, an uniformity was
essential and he undertook the task;[137] labors so valuable deserve the
highest praise, and we bestow it more liberally upon him for this good
work than we should have done had he been the compiler of crude homilies
or the marvellous legends of saints. The high veneration in which
Gundulph held the patristic writings induced him to bestow his attention
in a similar manner upon them, he compared copies, studied their various
readings and set to work to correct them. The books necessary for these
critical researches he obtained from the libraries of his former master,
Bishop Lanfranc, St. Anselm, his schoolfellow, and many others who were
studying at Bec, but besides this, he corrected many other authors, and
by comparing them with ancient manuscripts, restored them to their
primitive beauty. Fabricius[138] notices a fine volume, which bore ample
testimony to his critical erudition and dexterity as a scribe. It is
described as a large Bible on parchment, written in most beautiful
characters, it was proved to be his work by this inscription on its title
page, "_Prima pars Bibliæ per bona memoriæ Gundulphum Rossensem
Episcopum_." This interesting manuscript, formerly in the library of the
monks of Rochester, was regarded as one of their most precious volumes.
An idea of the great value of a Bible in those times may be derived from
the curious fact that the bishop made a decree directing "excommunication
to be pronounced against whosoever should take away or conceal this
volume, or who should even dare to conceal the inscription on the front,
which indicated the volume to be the property of the church of
Rochester." But we must bear in mind that this was no ordinary copy, it
was transcribed by Gundulph's own pen, and rendered pure in its text by
his critical labors. But the time came when anathemas availed nought, and
excommunication was divested of all terror. "Henry the Eighth," the
"Defender of the Faith," frowned destruction upon the monks, and in the
tumult that ensued, this treasure was carried away, anathema and all.
Somehow or other it got to Amsterdam, perhaps sent over in one of those
"shippes full," to the bookbinders, and having passed through many hands,
at last found its way into the possession of Herman Van de Wal,
Burgomaster of Amsterdam; since then it was sold by public auction, but
has now I believe been lost sight of.[139] Among the numerous treasures
which Gundulph gave to his church, he included a copy of the Gospels, two
missals and a book of Epistles.[140] Similar books were given by
succeeding prelates; Radolphus, a Norman bishop in 1108, gave the monks
several copies of the gospels beautifully adorned.[141] Earnulphus, in
the year 1115, was likewise a benefactor in this way; he bestowed upon
them, besides many gold and silver utensils for the church, a copy of the
gospels, lessons for the principal days, a benedictional, or book of
blessings, a missal, handsomely bound, and a capitular.[142] Ascelin,
formerly prior of Dover, and made bishop of Rochester, in the year 1142,
gave them a Psalter and the Epistles of St. Paul, with a gloss.[143] He
was a learned man, and excessively fond of books; a passion which he had
acquired no doubt in his monastery of Dover which possessed a library of
no mean extent.[144] He wrote a commentary on Isaiah, and gave it to the
monastery; Walter, archdeacon of Canterbury, who succeeded Ascelin, gave
a copy of the gospels bound in gold, to the church;[145] and Waleran,
elected bishop in the year 1182, presented them with a glossed Psalter,
the Epistles of Paul, and the Sermons of Peter.[146]

Glanvill, bishop in the year 1184, endeavored to deprive the monks of the
land which Gundulph had bestowed upon them; this gave to rise to many
quarrels[147] which the monks never forgave; it is said that he died
without regret, and was buried without ceremony; yet the curious may
still inspect his tomb on the north side of the altar, with his effigies
and mitre lying at length upon it.[148] Glanvill probably repented of his
conduct, and he strove to banish all animosity by many donations; and
among other treasures, he gave the monks the five books of Moses and
other volumes.[149]

Osbern of Shepey, who was prior in the year 1189, was a great scribe and
wrote many volumes for the library; he finished the Commentary of
Ascelin, transcribed a history of Peter, a Breviary for the chapel, a
book called _De Claustra animæ_, and wrote the great Psalter which is
chained to the choir and window of St. Peter's altar.[150] Ralph de Ross,
and Heymer de Tunebregge,[151] also bestowed gifts of a similar nature
upon the monks; but the book anecdotes connected with this monastic
fraternity are remarkably few, barren of interest, and present no very
exalted idea of their learning.[152]


[88] Bede, iv. cap. ii.

[89] He died in 690, and was succeeded by Bertwold, Abbot of
     Reculver, _Saxon Chronicle, Ingram_, p. 57. Bede speaks of Bertwold
     as "well learned in Scripture and Ecclesiastical
     Literature."--_Eccl. Hist._ b. v. c. viii.

[90] Preambulation of Kent, 4to. 1576, p. 233. Parker's Ant. Brit.
     p. 80.

[91] He was consecrated on the 10th of June, 731, Bede, v. c. xxiii.

[92] M.S. Reg. 12, c. xxiii. I know of no other copy. Leland says
     that he saw a copy at Glastonbury.

[93] Bede's Eccl. Hist. Prologue.

[94] Pitseus Angliæ Scrip. 1619, p. 141. Dart's Hist. Canterbury, p.

[95] Cottonian MS. Cleopatra, B. xiii. fo. 70.

[96] W. Malm, de Vita, Dunst. ap. Leland, Script. tom. 1. p. 162.
     Cotton. MS. Fanstin, B. 13.

[97] Strutt's Saxon. Antiq. vol. 1, p. 105, plate xviii. See also
     Hicke's Saxon Grammar, p. 104.

[98] MS. Cotton., Cleop. b. xiii. fo. 69. Mabd. Acta Sancto. vii.

[99] Saxon Chron. by Ingram, 171.

[100] Landsdowne MS. in Brit. Mus. 373, vol. iv.

[101] Landsdowne MS. in Brit. Mus. 373, vol. iv.

[102] Can. 21, p. 577, vol. i.

[103] Lisle's Divers Ancient Monuments in the Saxon Tongue, 4to.
      Lond. 1638, p. 43.

[104] MS. Cottonian Claudius, b. vi. p. 103; Dart's Hist. of Cant.
      p. 112.; Dugdale's Monast., vol. i. p. 517.

[105] There was an old saying, and a true one, prevalent in those
      days, that a monastery without a library was like a castle without
      an armory, _Clastrum sine armario, quasi castrum sine armamentario_.
      See letter of Gaufredi of St. Barbary to Peter Mangot, _Martene
      Thes. Nov. Anecd._, tom. i. col. 511.

[106] Mabillon, Act. S., tom. ix. p. 659.

[107] Ep. i. ad Papæ Alex.

[108] Vita Lanfr., c. vi. "_Effulsit eo majistro, obedientia coactu,
      philosophicarum ac divinarum litterarum bibliotheca, etc._" Opera p.
      8. Edit. folio, 1648.

[109] "Et quia scripturæ scriptorum vitio erant ninium corruptæ,
      omnes tam Veteris, quam Novi Testamenti libros; necnon etiam scriptæ
      sanctorum patrum secundum orthodoxam fidem studuit corrigere." Vita
      Lanfr. cap. 15, ap. Opera, p. 15.

[110] Hist. Litt. de la France, vol. vii. p. 117.

[111] _Ibid._ "Il rendit de même service à trois écrits de S.
      Ambrose l'Hexameron, l'apologie de David et le traité des
      Sacrements, tels qu'on les voit à la bibliothèque de St. Vincent du

[112] _Ibid._

[113] Malmsb. de Gest. Pontif. b. i. p. 216.

[114] See Epist. 16. Lib. i.

[115] Edmer. Vit. Anselm, apud Anselm Opera.--_Edit. Benedict_,
      1721, b. i. p. 4.

[116] Epp. 10-20, lib. i. and 24 b. ii.

[117] Codic. fol. first class, a dextr. Sc. Med. 5.

[118] Warton's Hist. Eng. Poetry. Dissert, ii.

[119] Dart's Canterb. p. 132. Dugdale's Monast. vol. i. p. 85.

[120] There is, or was, in St. Peter's college, Cambridge, a MS.
      volume of 21 books, which formerly belonged to this worthy
      Bibliophile.--_Dart_, p. 137.

[121] Petition Apol. 4to. 1604, p. 17.

[122] Brit. Mus. Vesp. A. i.

[123] Wanley Librorum Vett Septentrionalium fol. Oxon, 1705, p. 172.

[124] Dugdale's Monast. Angl. vol. i. p. 112.

[125] MS. Cot. Galba. E. iv.

[126] See what has been said on this subject in the previous

[127] MS. Galla, E. iv. fol. 133.

[128] MS. fol. 122.

[129] _Textus Magnus auro coopertus et gemmis ornatus, cum majistate
      in media, et 4 Evangelistis in 4 Angulis. Ibid._

[130] Somner Antiq. Cant. 4to. 1640, p. 174, he is speaking of books
      in general.

[131] Duck Vita Chich. p. 104.

[132] Dugdale, vol. i. p. 86. Dart, p. 158, and Somner Ant. Cant.

[133] Somner, 294 and 295; see also Leland Scriptor. He was well
      versed in the Greek language, and his monument bears the following

         "Doctor theologus Selling Græca atque Latina,
          Linqua perdoctus."--See Warton's Hist. Poet., ii. p. 425.

[134] There is a catalogue written in the sixteenth century,
      preserved among the Cotton MS., containing the titles of seventy
      books belonging to Canterbury Library. It is printed in Leland
      Collect. vol. iv. p. 120, and in Dart's Hist. Cant. Cath.; but they
      differ slightly from the Cott. MS. Julius, c. vi. 4, fol. 99.

[135] Monachus Roffensis de Vita Gundulphi, 274.

[136] Will. Malms. de Gest. Pont. Ang. ap Rerum. Ang. Script, 133.

[137] Histoire Littéraire de Fr., tom. vii. p. 118.

[138] Biblioth. Latine, b. vii. p. 519.

[139] Hist. Litt. de Fr., tom. ix. p. 373.

[140] Thorpe Regist. Roffens, fol. 1769, p. 118.

[141] Wharton Angl. Sacr., tom. 1, p. 342.

[142] Thorpe Regist. Rof., p. 120. Dugdale's Monast., vol. 1, p.

[143] Thorpe Reg. Rof., p. 121.

[144] A catalogue of this library is preserved among the Bodleian
      MSS. No. 920, containing many fine old volumes. I am not aware that
      it has been ever printed.

[145] "Textum Evangeliorum aureum." Reg. Rof., p. 121.

[146] _Ibid._, p. 121.

[147] Dugdale's Monasticon, vol. 1, p. 156.

[148] Wharton's Ang. Sac, tom. 1, p. 346.

[149] Thorpe Reg. Rof., p. 121.

[150] Thorpe Reg. Rof., 121. Dugdale's Monast., vol. i. p. 158.

[151] Reg. Rof., pp. 122, 123.

[152] In a long list of gifts by Robert de Hecham, I find "librum
      Ysidore ethimologiarum possuit in armarium claustri et alia plura
      fecit."--_Thorpe Reg. Rof._, p. 123.


     _Lindesfarne.--St. Cuthbert's Gospels.--Destruction of the
     Monastery.--Alcuin's Letter on the occasion.--Removal to
     Durham.--Carelepho.--Catalogue of Durham Library.--Hugh de
     Pusar.--Anthony Bek.--Richard de Bury and his Philobiblon, etc._

The Benedictine monastery of Lindesfarne, or the Holy Island, as it was
called, was founded through the instrumentality of Oswald, the son of
Ethelfrith, king of Northumberland, who was anxious for the promulgation
of the Christian faith within his dominions. Aidan, the first bishop of
whom we have any distinct account, was appointed about the year 635. Bede
tells us that he used frequently to retire to the Isle of Farne, that he
might pray in private and be undisturbed.[153] This small island, distant
about nine miles from the church of Lindesfarne, obtained great
celebrity from St. Cuthbert, who sought that quiet spot and led there a
lonely existence in great continence of mind and body.[154] In 685 he was
appointed to the see of Lindesfarne, where, by his pious example and
regular life, he instructed many in their religious duties. The name of
this illustrious saint is intimately connected with a most magnificent
specimen of calligraphical art of the eighth century, preserved in the
British Museum,[155] and well known by the name of the Durham Book, or
Saint Cuthbert's Gospels; it was written some years after the death of
that Saint, in honor of his memory, by Egfrith, a monk of Lindesfarne,
who was made bishop of that see in the year 698. At Egfrith's death in
721, his successor, Æthilwald, most beautifully bound it in gold and
precious stones, and Bilfrid, a hermit, richly illuminated it by
prefixing to each gospel a beautiful painting representing one of the
Evangelists, and a tesselated cross, executed in a most elaborate manner.
He also displayed great skill by illuminating the large capital letters
at the commencement of each gospel.[156] Doubtless, the hermit Bilfrid
was an eminent artist in his day. Aldred, the Glossator, a priest of
Durham, about the year 950, still more enriched this precious volume by
interlining it with a Saxon Gloss, or version of the Latin text of St.
Jerome, of which the original manuscript is a copy.[157] It is
therefore, one of the most venerable of those early attempts to render
the holy scriptures into the vernacular tongue, and is on that account an
interesting relic to the Christian reader, and, no doubt, formed the
choicest volume in the library of Lindesfarne.[158]

But imperfectly, indeed, have I described the splendid manuscript which
is now lying, in all its charms, before me. And as I mark its fine old
illuminations, so bright in color, and so chaste in execution, the
accuracy of its transcription, and the uniform beauty of its calligraphy,
my imagination carries me back to the quiet cloister of the old Saxon
scribe who wrote it, and I can see in Egfrith, a bibliomaniac, of no mean
pretensions, and in Bilfrid, a monkish illuminator, well initiated in the
mysteries of his art. The manuscript contains 258 double columned folio
pages, and the paintings of the Evangelists each occupy an entire page.
We learn the history of its production from a very long note at the end
of the manuscript, written by the hand of the glossator.[159]

But sad misfortunes were in store for the holy monks, for about 793, or a
little earlier, when Highbald was abbot, the Danes burnt down the
monastery and murdered the ecclesiastics; "most dreadful lightnings and
other prodigies," says Simeon of Durham, "are said to have portended the
impending ruin of this place; on the 7th of June they came to the church
of Lindesfarne, miserably plundered all places, overthrew the altars, and
carried away all the treasures of the church, some of the monks they
slew, some they carried away captives, some they drowned in the sea, and
others much afflicted and abused they turned away naked."[160]
Fortunately some of the poor monks escaped, and after a short time
returned to their old spot, and with religious zeal set about repairing
the damage which the sacred edifice had sustained; after its restoration
they continued comparatively quiet till the time of Eardulfus, when the
Danes in the year 875, again invaded England and burned down the
monastery of Lindesfarne. The monks obtained some knowledge of their
coming and managed to effect their escape, taking with them the body of
St. Cuthbert, which they highly venerated, with many other honored
relics; they then set out with the bishop Eardulfus and the abbot Eadrid
at their head on a sort of pilgrimage to discover some suitable resting
place for the remains of their saint; but finding no safe locality, and
becoming fatigued by the irksomeness of the journey, they as a last
resource resolved to pass over to Ireland. For this purpose they
proceeded to the sea, but no sooner were they on board the ship than a
terrific storm arose, and had it not been for the fond care of their
patron saint, a watery grave would have been forever their resting
place; but, as it was, their lives were spared, and the holy bones
preserved to bless mankind, and work wondrous miracles in the old church
of the Saxon monks. Nevertheless, considerable damage was sustained, and
the fury of the angry waves forced them back again to the shore. The
monks deeming this an indication of God's will that they should remain,
decided upon doing so, and leaving the ship, they agreed to proceed on
their way rejoicing, and place still greater trust in the mercy of God
and the miraculous influence of St. Cuthbert's holy bones; but some whose
reliance on Divine providence appears not so conspicuous, became
dissatisfied, and separated from the rest till at last only seven monks
were left besides their bishop and abbot. Their relics were too numerous
and too cumbersome to be conveyed by so small a number, and they knew not
how to proceed; but one of the seven whose name was Hanred had a vision,
wherein he was told that they should repair to the sea, where they would
find a book of Gospels adorned with gold and precious stones, which had
been lost out of the ship when they were in the storm; and that after
that he should see a bridle hanging on a tree, which he should take down
and put upon a horse that would come to him, which horse he should put to
a cart he would also find, to carry the holy body, which would be an ease
to them. All these things happening accordingly, they travelled with more
comfort, following the horse, which way soever he should lead. The book
above mentioned was no ways damaged by the water, and is still preserved
in the library at Durham,[161] where it remained till the Reformation,
when it was stript of its jewelled covering, and after passing through
many hands, ultimately came into the possession of Sir Robert Cotton, in
whose collection, as we have said before, it is now preserved in the
British Museum.

I cannot refrain, even at the risk of incurring some blame for my
digression, presenting the reader with a part of a letter full of
fraternal love, which Alcuin addressed to the monks of Lindesfarne on
this sad occasion.

"Your dearest fraternity," says he, "was wont to afford me much joy. But
now how different! though absent, I deeply lament the more your
tribulations and calamities; the manner in which the Pagans contaminate
the sanctuaries of God, and shed the blood of saints around the altar,
devastating the joy of our house, and trampling on the bodies of holy men
in the temple of God, as though they were treading on a dunghill in the
street. But of what effect is our wailing unless we come before the
altars of Christ and cry, 'Spare me, O Lord! spare thy people, and take
not thine inheritance from them;' nor let the Pagans say, 'Where is the
God of the Christians?' Besides who is to pacify the churches of Britain,
if St. Cuthbert cannot defend them with so great a number of saints?
Nevertheless do not trouble the mind about these things, for God
chasteneth all the sons whom he receiveth, and therefore perhaps afflicts
you the more, because he the more loveth you. Jerusalem, the delightful
city of God, was lost by the Chaldean scourge; and Rome, the city of the
holy Apostles and innumerable martyrs, was surrounded by the Pagans and
devastated. Well nigh the whole of Europe is evacuated by the scourging
sword of the Goths or the Huns. But in the same manner in which God
preserved the stars to illuminate the heavens, so will He preserve the
churches to ornament, and in their office to strengthen and increase the
Christian religion."[162]

Thus it came to pass that Eardulphus was the last bishop of Lindesfarne
and the first of Cunecacestre, or Chester-upon-the-Street, to which place
his see was removed previous to its final settlement at Durham.

After a succession of many bishops, some recorded as learned and bookish
by monkish annalists, and nearly all benefactors in some way to their
church, we arrive at the period when Aldwine was consecrated bishop of
that see in the year 990. The commotions of his time made his presidency
a troubled and harassing one. Sweyn, king of Denmark, and Olauis, king of
Norway, invaded England, and spreading themselves in bodies over the
kingdom, committed many and cruel depredations; a strong body of these
infested the northern coast, and approached the vicinity of
Chester-on-the-Street. This so alarmed Aldwine, that he resolved to quit
his church--for the great riches and numerous relics of that holy place
were attractive objects to the plundering propensities of the invaders.
Carrying, therefore, the bones of St. Cuthbert with them--for that box of
mortal dust was ever precious in the sight of those old monks--and the
costly treasures of the church, not forgetting their books, the monks
fled to Ripon, and the see, which after similar adversities their
predecessors one hundred and thirteen years ago had settled at Chester,
was forever removed. It is true three or four months after, as Symeon of
Durham tells us, they attempted to return, but when they reached a place
called Werdelan, "on the east and near unto Durham," they could not move
the bier on which the body of St. Cuthbert was carried, although they
applied their united strength to effect it. The superstition, or perhaps
simplicity, of the monks instantly interpreted this into a manifestation
of divine interference, and they resolved not to return again to their
old spot. And we are further told that after three days' fasting and
prayer, the Lord vouchsafed to reveal to them that they should bear the
saintly burden to Durham, a command which they piously and cheerfully
obeyed. Having arrived there, they fixed on a wild and uncultivated site,
and making a simple oratory of wattles for the temporary reception of
their relics, they set zealously to work--for these old monks well knew
what labor was--to cut down wood, to clear the ground, and build an
habitation for themselves. Shortly after, in the wilderness of that
neglected spot, the worthy bishop Aldwine erected a goodly church of
stone to the honor of God, and as a humble tribute of gratitude and love;
and so it was that Aldwine, the last bishop of Chester-on-the-Street,
was the first of Durham.

When William Carelepho, a Norman monk, was consecrated bishop, the church
had so increased in wealth and usefulness, that fresh wants arose, more
space was requisite, and a grander structure would be preferable; the
bishop thereupon pulled the old church of Aldwine down and commenced the
erection of a more magnificent one in its place, as the beauty of Durham
cathedral sufficiently testifies even now; and will not the lover of
artistic beauty award his praise to the Norman bishop--those massive
columns and stupendous arches excite the admiring wonder of all; built on
a rocky eminence and surrounded by all the charms of a romantic scenery,
it is one of the finest specimens of architecture which the enthusiasm of
monkish days dedicated to piety and to God. Its liberal founder however
did not live to see it finished, for he died in the year 1095, two years
after laying its foundation stone. His bookloving propensities have been
honorably recorded, and not only was he fond of reading, but kept the
pens of the scribes in constant motion, and used himself to superintend
the transcription of manuscripts, as the colophon of a folio volume in
Durham library fully proves.[163] The monkish bibliophiles of his church
received from him a precious gift of about 40 volumes, containing among
other valuable books Prosper, Pompeii, Tertullian, and a great Bible in
two volumes.[164]

It would have been difficult perhaps to have found in those days a body
of monks so "bookish" as those of Durham; not only did they transcribe
with astonishing rapidity, proving that there was no want of vellum
there, but they must have bought or otherwise collected a great number of
books; for the see of Durham, in the early part of the 12th century,
could show a library embracing nearly 300 volumes.[165]

Nor let the reader imagine that the collection possessed no merit in a
literary point of view, or that the monks cared for little else save
legends of saints or the literature of the church; the catalogue proves
them to have enjoyed a more liberal and a more refined taste, and again
display the cloistered students of the middle ages as the preservers of
classic learning. This is a point worth observing on looking over the old
parchment catalogues of the monks; for as by their Epistles we obtain a
knowledge of their intimacy with the old writers, and the use they made
of them, so by their catalogues we catch a glimpse of the means they
possessed of becoming personally acquainted with their beauties; by the
process much light may be thrown on the gloom of those long past times,
and perhaps we shall gain too a better view of the state of learning
existing then. But that the reader may judge for himself, I extract the
names of some of the writers whom the monks of Durham preserved and

    Peter Lombard.
    Pompeius Trogus.
    Gesta Anglorum.
    Gesta Normanorum.

Hugh de Pussar,[166] consecrated bishop in 1153, is the next who attracts
our attention by his bibliomanical renown. He possessed perhaps the
finest copy of the Holy Scriptures of any private collector; and he
doubtless regarded his "_unam Bibliam in_ iv. _magnis voluminibus_," with
the veneration of a divine and the fondness of a student. He collected
what in those times was deemed a respectable library, and bequeathed no
less than sixty or seventy volumes to the Durham monks, including his
great Bible, which has ever since been preserved with religious care;
from a catalogue of them we learn his partiality for classical
literature; a Tully, Sedulus, Priscian, and Claudius, are mentioned among

Anthony Bek, who was appointed to the see in the year 1283, was a most
ambitious and haughty prelate, and caused great dissensions in his
church. History proves how little he was adapted for the responsible
duties of a bishop, and points to the field of battle or civil pomp as
most congenial to his disposition. He ostentatiously displayed the
splendor of a Palatine Prince, when he contributed his powerful aid to
the cause of his sovereign, in the Scottish war, by a retinue of 500
horse, 1000 foot, 140 knights, and 26 standard bearers,[168] rendered
doubly imposing in those days of saintly worship and credulity, by the
patronage of St. Cuthbert, under whole holy banner they marched against a
brave and noble foe. His arbitrary temper caused sad quarrels in the
cloister, which ultimately gave rise to a tedious law proceeding between
him and the prior about the year 1300;[169] from a record of this affair
we learn that the bishop had borrowed some books from the library which
afterwards he refused to return; there was among them a Decretal, a
history of England, a Missal, and a volume called "The book of St.
Cuthbert, in which the secrets of the monastery are written," which was
alone valued at £200,[170] probably in consideration of the important and
delicate matters contained therein.

These proceedings were instituted by prior Hoton, who was fond of books,
and had a great esteem for learning; he founded a college at Oxford for
the monkish students of his church.[171] On more than one occasion he
sent parcels of books to Oxford; in a list of an early date it appears
that the monks of Durham sent at one time twenty volumes, and shortly
after fifteen more, consisting principally of church books and lives of
saints.[172] The numbers thus taken from their library the monks, with
that love of learning for which they were so remarkable, anxiously
replaced, by purchasing about twenty volumes, many of which contained a
great number of small but choice pieces.[173]

Robert de Graystane, a monk of Durham, was elected bishop by the prior
and chapter, and confirmed on the 10th of November, 1333, but the king,
Edward III., wishing to advance his treasurer to that see, refused his
sanction to the proceeding; monk Robert was accordingly deposed, and
Richard Angraville received the mitre in his stead. He was consecrated on
the 19th of December in the same year, by John Stratford, archbishop of
Canterbury, and installed by proxy on the 10th of January, 1334.

Angraville, Aungerville, or as he is more commonly called Richard de
Bury, is a name which every bibliophile will honor and esteem; he was
indeed a bibliomaniac of the first order, and a sketch of his life is not
only indispensable here, but cannot fail to interest the book-loving
reader. But before entering more at large into his bookish propensities
and talents, it will be necessary to say something of his early days and
the illustrious career which attended his political and ecclesiastical
life. Richard de Bury, the son of Sir Richard Angraville, was born, as
his name implies, at Bury St. Edmunds, in Suffolk, in the year 1287.[174]

Great attention was paid to the instruction of his youthful mind by his
maternal uncle, John de Willowby, a priest, previous to his removal to
Oxford. At the university he obtained honorable distinction, as much for
his erudition and love of books as for the moral rectitude of his
behavior. These pleasing traits were the stepping stones to his future
greatness, and on the strength of them he was selected as one fully
competent to undertake the education of Edward Prince of Wales,
afterwards the third king of that name; and to Richard de Bury "may be
traced the love for literature and the arts displayed by his pupil when
on the throne. He was rewarded with the lucrative appointment of
treasurer of Gascony."[175]

When Edward, the prince of Wales, was sent to Paris to assume the
dominion of Guienne, which the king had resigned in his favor, he was
accompanied by queen Isabella, his mother, whose criminal frailty, and
afterwards conspiracy, with Mortimer, aroused the just indignation of her
royal husband; and commenced those civil dissensions which rendered the
reign of Edward II. so disastrous and turbulent. It was during these
commotions that Richard de Bury became a zealous partizan of the queen,
to whom he fled, and ventured to supply her pecuniary necessities from
the royal revenues; for this, however, he was surrounded with imminent
danger; for the king, instituting an inquiry into these proceedings,
attempted his capture, which he narrowly escaped by secreting himself in
the belfry of the convent of Brothers Minor at Paris.[176]

When the "most invincible and most magnificent king" Edward III. was
firmly seated upon the throne, dignity and power was lavishly bestowed on
this early bibliomaniac. In an almost incredible space of time he was
appointed cofferer to the king, treasurer of the wardrobe, archdeacon of
Northampton, prebendary of Lincoln, Sarum, Litchfield, and shortly
afterwards keeper of the privy seal, which office he held for five years.
During this time he twice undertook a visit to Italy, on a mission to the
supreme pontiff, John XXII., who not only entertained him with honor and
distinction, but appointed him chaplain to his principal chapel, and gave
him a bull, nominating him to the first vacant see in England.

He acquired whilst there an honor which reflected more credit than even
the smiles of his holiness--the brightest of the Italian poets, Petrarch
of never dying fame--bestowed upon him his acquaintance and lasting
friendship. De Bury entered Avignon for the first time in the same year
that Petrarch took up his residence there, in the house of Colonna,
bishop of Lombes: two such enlightened scholars and indefatigable book
collectors, sojourning in the same city, soon formed an intimacy.[177]
How interesting must their friendly meetings have been, and how
delightful the hours spent in Petrarch's library, which was one of great
extent and rarity; and it is probable too that De Bury obtained from the
poet a few treasures to enrich his own stores; for the generosity of
Petrarch was so excessive, that he could scarcely withhold what he knew
was so dearly coveted. His benevolence on one occasion deprived him and
posterity of an inestimable volume; he lent some manuscripts of the
classics to his old master, who, needing pecuniary aid, pawned them, and
Cicero's books, _De Gloria_, were in this manner irrecoverably lost.[178]
Petrarch acted like a true lover of learning; for when the shadows of old
age approached, he presented his library, full of rare and ancient
manuscripts, many of them enriched by his own notes, to the Venetian
Senate, and thus laid the foundation of the library of Saint-Marc; he
always employed a number of transcribers, who invariably accompanied him
on his journeys, and he kept horses to carry his books.[179] His love of
reading was intense. "Whether," he writes in one of his epistles, "I am
being shaved, or having my hair cut, whether I am riding on horseback or
taking my meals, I either read myself or get some one to read to me; on
the table where I dine, and by the side of my bed, I have all the
materials for writing."[180] With the friendship of such a student, how
charming must have been the visit of the English ambassador, and how much
valuable and interesting information must he have gleaned by his
intercourse with Petrarch and his books. At Rome Richard de Bury obtained
many choice volumes and rare old manuscripts of the classics; for at Rome
indeed, at that time, books had become an important article of commerce,
and many foreign collectors besides the English bibliomaniac resorted
there for these treasures: to such an extend was this carried on, that
the jealousy of Petrarch was aroused, who, in addressing the Romans,
exclaims: "Are you not ashamed that the wrecks of your ancient grandeur,
spared by the inundation of the barbarians, are daily sold by your
miscalculating avarice to foreigners? And that Rome is no where less
known and less loved than at Rome?"[181]

The immense ecclesiastical and civil revenues which Aungraville enjoyed,
enabled him whilst in Italy to maintain a most costly and sumptuous
establishment: in his last visit alone he is said to have expended 5,000
marks, and he never appeared in public without a numerous retinue of
twenty clerks and thirty-six esquires; an appearance which better became
the dignity of his civil office, than the Christian humility of his
ecclesiastical functions. On his return from this distinguished sojourn,
he was appointed, as we have said before, through the instrumentality of
Edward III., to the bishopric of Durham. But not content with these high
preferments, his royal master advanced him to still greater honor, and on
the 28th of September, 1334, he was made Lord Chancellor of England,
which office he filled till the 5th of June, 1335, when he exchanged it
for that of high treasurer. He was twice appointed ambassador to the king
of France, respecting the claims of Edward of England to the crown of
that country. De Bury, whilst negociating this affair, visited Antwerp
and Brabant for the furtherance of the object of his mission, and he
fully embraced this rare opportunity of adding to his literary stores,
and returned to his fatherland well laden with many choice and costly
manuscripts; for in all his perilous missions he carried about with him,
as he tells us, that love of books which many waters could not
extinguish, but which greatly sweetened the bitterness of peregrination.
Whilst at Paris he was especially assiduous in collecting, and he relates
with intense rapture, how many choice libraries he found there full of
all kinds of books, which tempted him to spend his money freely; and with
a gladsome heart he gave his dirty lucre for treasures so inestimable to
the bibliomaniac.

Before the commencement of the war which arose from the disputed claims
of Edward, Richard de Bury returned to enjoy in sweet seclusion his
bibliomanical propensities. The modern bibliophiles who know what it is
to revel in the enjoyment of a goodly library, luxuriant in costly
bindings and rich in bibliographical rarities, who are fully susceptible
to the delights and exquisite sensibilities of that sweet madness called
bibliomania, will readily comprehend the multiplied pleasures of that
early and illustrious bibliophile in the seclusion of Auckland Palace; he
there ardently applied his energies and wealth to the accumulation of
books; and whilst engaged in this pleasing avocation, let us endeavor to
catch a glimpse of him. Chambre, to whom we are indebted for many of the
above particulars, tells us that Richard de Bury was learned in the
governing of his house, hospitable to strangers, of great charity, and
fond of disputation with the learned, but he principally delighted in a
multitude of books, _Iste summe delectabatur multitudine librorum_,[182]
and possessed more books than all the bishops put together, an assertion
which requires some modification, and must not be too strictly regarded,
for book collecting at that time was becoming a favorite pursuit; still
the language of Chambre is expressive, and clearly proves how extensive
must have been his libraries, one of which he formed in each of his
various palaces, _diversis maneriis_. So engrossed was that worthy bishop
with the passion of book collecting, that his dormitory was strewed
_jucebant_ with them, in every nook and corner choice volumes were
scattered, so that it was almost impossible for any person to enter
without placing his feet upon some book.[183] He kept in regular
employment no small assemblage of antiquaries, scribes, bookbinders,
correctors, illuminators, and all such persons who were capable of being
useful in the service of books, _librorum servitiis utiliter_.[184]

During his retirement he wrote a book, from the perusal of which the
bibliomaniac will obtain a full measure of delight and instruction. It is
a faithful record of the life and experience of this bibliophile of the
olden time. He tells us how he collected his vellum treasures--his
"crackling tomes" so rich in illuminations and calligraphic art!--how he
preserved them, and how he would have others read them. Costly indeed
must have been the book gems he amassed together; for foreign countries,
as well as the scribes at home, yielded ample means to augment his
stores, and were incessantly employed in searching for rarities which his
heart yearned to possess. He completed his Philobiblon at his palace at
Auckland on the 24th of January, 1344.[185]

We learn from the prologue to this rare and charming little volume how
true and genuine a bibliomaniac was Richard de Bury, for he tells us
there, that a vehement love _amor excitet_ of books had so powerfully
seized all the faculties of his mind, that dismissing all other
avocations, he had applied the ardor of his thoughts to the acquisition
of books. Expense to him was quite an afterthought, and he begrudged no
amount to possess a volume of rarity or antiquity. Wisdom, he says, is an
infinite treasure _infinitus thesaurus_, the value of which, in his
opinion, was beyond all things; for how, he asks, can the sum be too
great which purchases such vast delight. We cannot admire the purity of
his Latin so much as the enthusiasm which pervades it; but in the eyes of
the bibliophile this will amply compensate for his minor imperfections.
When expatiating on the value of his books he appears to unbosom, as it
were, all the inward rapture of love. A very _helluo librorum_--a very
Maliabechi of a collector, yet he encouraged no selfish feeling to alloy
his pleasure or to mingle bitterness with the sweets of his avocation.
His knowledge he freely imparted to others, and his books he gladly lent.
This is apparent in the Philobiblon; and his generous spirit warms his
diction--not always chaste--into a fluent eloquence. His composition
overflows with figurative expressions, yet the rude, ungainly form on
which they are moulded deprive them of all claim to elegance or
chastity; but while the homeliness of his diction fails to impress us
with an idea of his versatility as a writer, his chatty anecdotal style
rivets and keeps the mind amused, so that we rise from the little book
with the consciousness of having obtained much profit and satisfaction
from its perusal. Nor is it only the bibliomaniac who may hope to taste
this pleasure in devouring the sweet contents of the Philobiblon; for
there are many hints, many wise sayings, and many singular ideas
scattered over its pages, which will amuse or instruct the general reader
and the lover of olden literature. We observe too that Richard de Bury,
as a writer, was far in advance of his age, and his work manifests an
unusual freedom and independence of mind in its author; for although
living in monkish days, when the ecclesiastics were almost supreme in
power and wealth, he was fully sensible of the vile corruptions and
abominations which were spreading about that time so fearfully among some
of the cloistered devotees--the spotless purity of the primitive times
was scarce known then--and the dark periods of the middle ages were
bright and holy, when compared with the looseness and carnality of those
turbulent days. Richard de Bury dipped his pen in gall when he spoke of
these sad things, and doubtless many a revelling monk winced under the
lashing words he applied to them; not only does he upbraid them for their
carelessness in religion, but severely reprimands their inattention to
literature and learning. "The monks," he says, "in the present day seem
to be occupied in emptying cups, not in correcting codices, _Calicibus
epotandis, non codicibus emendandis_, which they mingle with the
lascivious music of Timotheus, and emulate his immodest manners, so that
the sportive song _cantus ludentis_, and not the plaintive hymn, proceeds
from the cells of the monks. Flocks and fleeces, grain and granaries,
gardens and olives, potions and goblets, are in this day lessons and
studies of the monks, except some chosen few."[186] He speaks in equally
harsh terms of the religious mendicants. He accuses them of forgetting
the words and admonitions of their holy founder, who was a great lover of
books. He wishes them to imitate the ancient members of that fraternity,
who were poor in spirit, but most rich in faith. But it must be
remembered, that about this time the mendicant friars were treated with
undeserved contempt, and much ill feeling rose against them among the
clergy, but the clergy were somewhat prejudiced in their judgment. The
order of St. Dominic, which a century before gloried in the approbation
of the pope, and in the enjoyment of his potential bulls, now winced
under gloomy and foreboding frowns. The sovereign Pontiff Honorius III.
gratefully embraced the service of these friars, and confirmed their
order with important privileges. His successor, Gregory IX., ratified
these favors to gain their useful aid in propping up the papal power, and
commanded the ecclesiastics by a bull to receive these "well-beloved
children and preaching friars" of his, with hospitality and respect.
Thus established, they were able to bear the tossings to and fro which
succeeding years produced; but in Richard de Bury's time darker clouds
were gathering--great men had severely chastized them with their pens and
denounced them in their preachings. Soon after a host of others sprang
up--among the most remarkable of whom were Johannes Poliaco, and
Fitzralph, Archbishop of Armagh, who was a dear friend and chaplain of
Richard de Bury's and many learned disputations were carried on between
them.[187] The celebrated oration of Fitzralph's, cited in the presence
of the pope, was a powerful blow to the mendicant friars--an examination
of the matter has rather perplexed than cleared the subject, and I find
it difficult which side to favor, the clergy seem to denounce the begging
friars more from envy and interested motives, for they looked with
extreme jealousy at the encroachments they had made upon their
ecclesiastical functions of confession, absolution, etc., so profitable
to the church in those days. In these matters the church had hitherto
reserved a sole monopoly, and the clergy now determined to protect it
with all the powers of oratorial denunciation; but, looking beyond this
veil of prejudice, I am prone to regard them favorably, for their intense
love of books, which they sought for and bought up with passionate
eagerness. Fitzralph, quite unintentionally, bestows a bright compliment
upon them, and as it bears upon our subject and illustrates the learning
of the time, I am tempted to give a few extracts; he sorely laments the
decrease of the number of students in the university of Oxford; "So,"
says he, "that yet in my tyme, in the universitie of Oxenford, were
thirty thousand Scolers at ones; and now beth unnethe[188] sixe
thousand."[189] All the blame of this he lays to the friars, and accuses
them of doing "more grete damage to learning." "For these orders of
beggers, for endeless wynnynges that thei geteth by beggyng of the
forseide pryvyleges of schriftes and sepultures and othere, thei beth now
so multiplyed in conventes and in persons. That many men tellith that in
general studies unnethe, is it founde to sillynge a profitable book of ye
faculte of art, of dyvynyte, of lawe canon, of phisik, other of lawe
civil, but alle bookes beth y-bougt of Freres, so that en ech convent of
Freres is a noble librarye and a grete,[190] and so that ene rech Frere
that hath state in scole, siche as thei beth nowe, hath an hughe
librarye. And also y-sent of my Sugettes[191] to scole thre other foure
persons, and hit is said me that some of them beth come home azen for
thei myst nougt[192] finde to selle ovn goode Bible; nother othere
couenable[193] books." This strange accusation proves how industriously
the friars collected books, and we cannot help regarding them with much
esteem for doing so. Richard de Bury fully admits his obligations to the
mendicants, from whom he obtained many choice transcripts. "When indeed,"
says he, "we happened to turn aside to the towns and places where the
aforesaid paupers had convents, we were not slack in visiting their
chests and other repositories of books, for there, amidst the deepest
poverty, we found the most exalted riches treasured up; there, in their
satchells and baskets, we discovered not only the crumbs that fell from
the master's table for the little dogs, but indeed the shew bread without
leaven, the bread of angels, containing in itself all that is
delectable;" and moreover, he says, that he found these friars "not
selfish hoarders, but meet professors of enlightened knowledge."[194]

In the seventh chapter of his work, he deplores the sad destruction of
books by war and fire, and laments the loss of the 700,000 volumes, which
happened in the Alexandrian expedition; but the eighth chapter is the one
which the bibliomaniac will regard with the greatest interest, for
Richard de Bury tells us there how he collected together his rich and
ample library. "For although," he writes, "from our youth we have ever
been delighted to hold special and social communion with literary men and
lovers of books, yet prosperity attending us, having obtained the notice
of his majesty the king, and being received into his own family, we
acquired a most ample facility of visiting at pleasure and of hunting, as
it were, some of the most delightful covers, the public and private
libraries _privatas tum communes_, both of the regulars and seculars.
Indeed, while we performed the duties of Chancellor and Treasurer of the
most invincible and ever magnificently triumphant king of England,
Edward III., of that name after the conquest, whose days may the Most
High long and tranquilly deign to preserve. After first inquiring into
the things that concerned his court, and then the public affairs of his
kingdom, an easy opening was afforded us, under the countenance of royal
favor, for freely searching the hiding places of books. For the flying
fame of our love had already spread in all directions, and it was
reported not only that we had a longing desire for books, and _especially
for old ones_, but that any one could more easily obtain our favors by
quartos than by money.[195] Wherefore, when supported by the bounty of
the aforesaid prince of worthy memory, we were enabled to oppose or
advance, to appoint or discharge; crazy quartos and tottering folios,
precious however in our sight as well as in our affections, flowed in
most rapidly from the great and the small, instead of new year's gift and
remunerations, and instead of presents and jewels. Then the cabinets of
the most noble monasteries _tunc nobilissimos monasterios_ were opened,
cases were unlocked, caskets were unclasped and sleeping volumes
_soporata volumina_ which had slumbered for long ages in their sepulchres
were roused up, and those that lay hid in dark places _in locis
tenebrosis_ were overwhelmed with the rays of a new light. Books
heretofore most delicate now become corrupted and abominable, lay
lifeless, covered indeed with the excrements of mice and pierced through
with the gnawing of worms; and those that were formerly clothed with
purple and fine linen were now seen reposing in dust and ashes, given
over to oblivion and the abode of moths. Amongst these, nevertheless, as
time served, we sat down more voluptuously than the delicate physician
could do amidst his stores of aromatics, and where we found an object of
love, we found also an assuagement. Thus the sacred vessel of science
came into the power of our disposal, some being given, some sold, and not
a few lent for a time. Without doubt many who perceived us to be
contented with gifts of this kind, studied to contribute these things
freely to our use, which they could most conveniently do without
themselves. We took care, however, to conduct the business of such so
favorably, that the profit might accrue to them; justice suffered
therefore no detriment." Of this, however, a doubt will intrude itself
upon our minds, in defiance of the affirmation of my Lord Chancellor;
indeed, the paragraph altogether is unfavorable to the character of so
great a man, and fully proves the laxity of opinion, in those days of
monkish supremacy, on judicial matters; but we must be generous, and
allow something for the corrupt usages of the age, but I cannot omit a
circumstance clearly illustrative of this point, which occurred between
the bibliomanical Chancellor and the abbot of St. Alban's, the affair is
recorded in the chronicle of the abbey, and transpired during the time
Richard de Bury held the privy seal; in that office he appears to have
favored the monks of the abbey in their disputes with the townspeople of
St. Alban's respecting some possessions to which the monks tenaciously
adhered and defended as their rightful property. Richard de Wallingford,
who was then abbot, convoked the elder monks _convocatis senioribus_, and
discussed with them, as to the most effectual way to obtain the goodwill
and favor of de Bury; after due consideration it was decided that no gift
was likely to prove so acceptable to that father of English bibliomania
as a present of some of their choice books, and it was at last agreed to
send four volumes, "that is to say Terence, a Virgil, a Quintilian, and
Jerome against Ruffinus," and to sell him many others from their library;
this they sent him intimation of, and a purchase was ultimately agreed
upon between them. The monks sold to that rare collector, thirty-two
choice tomes _triginta duos libros_, for the sum of fifty pounds of
silver _quinginta libris argenti_.[196] But there were other bibliophiles
and bookworms than Richard de Bury in old England then; for many of the
brothers of St. Alban's who had nothing to do with this transaction,
cried out loudly against it, and denounced rather openly the policy of
sacrificing their mental treasures for the acquisition of pecuniary gain,
but fortunately the loss was only a temporary one, for on the death of
Richard de Bury many of these volumes were restored to the monks, who in
return became the purchasers from his executors of many a rare old
volume from the bishop's library.[197] To resume our extracts from the
Philobiblon, De Bury proceeds to further particulars relative to his
book-collecting career, and becomes quite eloquent in detailing these
circumstances; but from the eighth chapter we shall content ourselves
with one more paragraph. "Moreover," says he, "if we could have amassed
cups of gold and silver, excellent horses, or no mean sums of money, we
could in those days have laid up abundance of wealth for ourselves. But
we regarded books not pounds, and valued codices more than florens, and
preferred paltry pamphlets to pampered palfreys.[198] In addition to this
we were charged with frequent embassies of the said prince of everlasting
memory, and owing to the multiplicity of state affairs, we were sent
first to the Roman chair, then to the court of France, then to the
various other kingdoms of the world, on tedious embassies and in perilous
times, carrying about with us that fondness for books, which many waters
could not extinguish."[199] The booksellers found Richard de Bury a
generous and profitable customer, and those residing abroad received
commissions constantly from him. "Besides the opportunities," he writes,
"already touched upon, we easily acquired the notice of the stationers
and librarians, not only within the provinces of our native soil, but of
those dispersed over the kingdoms of France, Germany, and Italy."[200]

Such was bibliomania five hundred years ago! and does not the reader
behold in it the very type and personification of its existence now? does
he not see in Richard de Bury the prototype of a much honored and
agreeable bibliophile of our own time? Nor has the renowned "Maister
Dibdin" described his book-hunting tours with more enthusiasm or delight;
with what a thrill of rapture would that worthy doctor have explored
those monastic treasures which De Bury found hid in _locis tenebrosis_,
antique Bibles, rare Fathers, rich Classics or gems of monkish lore,
enough to fire the brain of the most lymphatic bibliophile, were within
the grasp of the industrious and eager Richard de Bury--that old "Amator
Librorum," like his imitators of the present day, cared not whither he
went to collect his books--dust and dirt were no barriers to him; at
every nook and corner where a stationer's stall[201] appeared, he would
doubtless tarry in defiance of the cold winds or scorching sun, exploring
the ancient tomes reposing there. Nor did he neglect the houses of the
country rectors; and even the humble habitations of the rustics were
diligently ransacked to increase his collections, and from these sources
he gleaned many rude but pleasing volumes, perhaps full of old popular
poetry! or the wild Romances of Chivalry which enlivened the halls and
cots of our forefathers in Gothic days.

We must not overlook the fact that this Treatise on the Love of Books was
written as an accompaniment to a noble and generous gift. Many of the
parchment volumes which De Bury had collected in his "_perilous
embassies_," he gave, with the spirit of a true lover of learning, to the
Durham College at Oxford, for the use of the Students of his Church. I
cannot but regret that the names of these books, _of which he had made a
catalogue_,[202] have not been preserved; perhaps the document may yet be
discovered among the vast collections of manuscripts in the Oxonian
libraries; but the book, being written for this purpose, the author
thought it consistent that full directions should be given for the
preservation and regulation of the library, and we find the last chapter
devoted to this matter; but we must not close the Philobiblon without
noticing his admonitions to the students, some of whom he upbraids for
the carelessness and disrespect which they manifest in perusing books.
"Let there," says he, with all the veneration of a passionate booklover,
"be a modest decorum in opening and closing of volumes, that they may
neither be unclasped with precipitous haste, nor thrown aside after
inspection without being duly closed."[203] Loving and venerating a book
as De Bury did, it was agony to see a volume suffering under the
indignities of the ignorant or thoughtless student whom he thus keenly
satirizes: "You will perhaps see a stiffnecked youth lounging sluggishly
in his study, while the frost pinches him in winter time; oppressed with
cold his watery nose drops, nor does he take the trouble to wipe it with
his handkerchief till it has moistened the book beneath it with its vile
dew;" nor is he "ashamed to eat fruit and cheese over an open book, or to
transfer his empty cup from side to side; he reclines his elbow on the
volume, turns down the leaves, and puts bits of straw to denote the place
he is reading; he stuffs the book with leaves and flowers, and so
pollutes it with filth and dust." With this our extracts from the
Philobiblon must close; enough has been said and transcribed to place the
Lord Chancellor of the puissant King Edward III. among the foremost of
the bibliomaniacs of the past, and to show how valuable were his efforts
to literature and learning; indeed, like Petrarch in Italy was Richard De
Bury in England: both enthusiastic collectors and preservers of ancient
manuscripts, and both pioneers of that revival of European literature
which soon afterwards followed. In the fourteenth century we cannot
imagine a more useful or more essential person than the bibliomaniac, for
that surely was the harvest day for the gathering in of that food on
which the mind of future generations were to subsist. And who reaped so
laboriously or gleaned so carefully as those two illustrious scholars?

Richard de Bury was no unsocial bookworm; for whilst he loved to seek the
intercourse of the learned dead, he was far from being regardless of the
living. Next to his clasped vellum tomes, nothing afforded him so much
delight as an erudite disputation with his chaplains, who were mostly men
of acknowledged learning and talent; among them were "Thomas Bradwardyn,
afterwards Archbishop of Canterbury; and Richard Fitz-Raufe, afterwards
Archbishop of Armagh; Walter Burley, John Maudyt, Robert Holcote, Richard
of Kilwington, all Doctors in Theology, _omnes Doctores in Theologia_;
Richard Benworth, afterwards Bishop of London, and Walter Segraffe,
afterwards Bishop of Chester;"[204] with these congenial spirits Richard
de Bury held long and pleasing conversations, doubtless full of old
bookwisdom and quaint Gothic lore, derived from still quainter volumes;
and after meals I dare say they discussed the choice volume which had
been read during their repast, as was the pious custom of those old days,
and which was not neglected by De Bury, for "his manner was at dinner
and supper time to have some good booke read unto him."[205]

And now in bidding farewell to the illustrious Aungraville--for little
more is known of his biography--let me not forget to pay a passing
tribute of respect to his private character, which is right worthy of a
cherished remembrance, and derives its principal lustre from the eminent
degree in which he was endowed with the greatest of Christian virtues,
and which, when practised with sincerity, covereth a multitude of sins;
his charity, indeed, forms a delightful trait in the character of that
great man; every week he distributed food to the poor; eight quarters of
wheat _octo quarteria frumenti_, and the fragments from his own table
comforted the indigent of his church; and always when he journeyed from
Newcastle to Durham, he distributed twelve marks in relieving the
distresses of the poor; from Durham to Stockton eight marks; and from the
same place to his palace at Aukeland five marks; and and when he rode
from Durham to Middleham he gave away one hundred shillings.[206] Living
in troublous times, we do not find his name coupled with any great
achievement in the political sphere; his talents were not the most
propitious for a statesman among the fierce barons of the fourteenth
century; his spirit loved converse with the departed great, and shone
more to advantage in the quite closet of the bibliomaniac, or in
fulfilling the benevolent duties of a bishop. Yet he was successful in
all that the ambition of a statesman could desire, the friend and
confidant of his king; holding the highest offices in the state
compatible with his ecclesiastical position, with wealth in abundance,
and blessed with the friendship of the learned and the good, we find
little in his earthly career to darken the current of his existence, or
to disturb the last hours of a life of near three score years. He died
lamented, honored, and esteemed, at Aukeland palace, on the fourteenth of
April, in the year 1345, in the fifty-eighth year of his age, and was
buried with all due solemnity before the altar of the blessed Mary
Magdalene, at the south angle of the church of Durham. His bones are now
mingled with the dust and gone, but his memory is engraven on tablets of
life; the hearts of all bibliomaniacs love and esteem his name for the
many virtues with which it was adorned, and delight to chat with his
choice old spirit in the Philobiblon, so congenial to their bookish
souls. No doubt the illustrious example of Richard de Bury tended
materially to spread far and wide the spirit of bibliomania. It certainly
operated powerfully on the monks of Durham, who not only by transcribing,
but at the cost of considerable sums of money, greatly increased their
library. A catalogue of the collection, taken some forty years after the
death of De Bury, is preserved to this day at Durham, and shows how
considerably they augmented it during a space of two hundred years, or
from the time when the former list was written. If the bibliomaniac can
obtain a sight of this ancient catalogue, he will dwell over it with
astonishment and delight--immaculate volumes of Scripture--fathers and
classics bespeak its richness and extent, and Robert of Langchester, the
librarian who wrote it, with pious preference places first on the list
the magnificent Bible which bishop Hugo gave them many years before. This
rare biblical treasure, then the pride and glory of the collection, is
now in the Durham Library; but to look upon that fair manuscript will
make the blood run cold--barbarous desecration has been committed by some
bibliopegistical hand; the splendid illuminations so rich and spirited,
which adorned the beauteous tomes, dazzled an ignorant mind, who cut them
out and robbed it of half its interest and value.

From near 600 volumes which the list enumerates, I cannot refrain from
naming two or three. I have searched over its biblical department in vain
to discover mention of the celebrated "Saint Cuthbert's Gospels." It is
surprising they should have forgotten so rich a gem, for although four
copies of the Gospels appear, not one of them answers to its description;
two are specified as "_non glos_;" it could not have been either of
those, another, the most interesting of the whole, is recorded as the
venerable Bede's own copy! What bibliophile can look unmoved upon those
time-honored pages, without indeed all the warmth of his booklove
kindling forth into a very frenzy of rapture and veneration! So fairly
written, and so accurately transcribed, it is one of the most precious of
the many gems which now crowd the shelves of the Durham Library, and is
well worth a pilgrimage to view it.[207] But this cannot be St.
Cuthbert's Gospels, and the remaining copy is mentioned as "_Quarteur
Evangelum_," fol. ii. "_se levantem_;" now I have looked at the splendid
volume in the British Museum, to see if the catchword answered to this
description, but it does not; so it cannot be this, which I might have
imagined without the trouble of a research, for if it was, they surely
would not have forgotten to mention its celebrated coopertoria.

Passing a splendid array of Scriptures whole and in parts, for there was
no paucity of sacred volumes in that old monkish library, and fathers,
doctors of the Church, schoolmen, lives of saints, chronicles, profane
writers, philosophical and logical treatises, medical works, grammars,
and books of devotion, we are particularly struck with the appearance of
so many fine classical authors. Works of Virgil (including the Æneid),
Pompeius Trogus, Claudius, Juvenal, Terence, Ovid, Prudentius,
Quintilian, Cicero, Boethius, and a host of others are in abundance,
and form a catalogue rendered doubly exciting to the bibliophile by the
insertion of an occasional note, which tells of its antiquity,[208]
rarity, or value. In some of the volumes a curious inscription was
inserted, thundering a curse upon any who would dare to pilfer it from
the library, and for so sacrilegious a crime, calling down upon them the
maledictions of Saints Maria, Oswald, Cuthbert, and Benedict.[209] A
volume containing the lives of St. Cuthbert, St. Oswald, and St. Aydani,
is described as "_Liber speciales et preciosus cum signaculo deaurato_."

Thomas Langley, who was chancellor of England and bishop of Durham in the
year 1406, collected many choice books, and left some of them to the
library of Durham church; among them a copy of Lyra's Commentaries stands
conspicuous; he also bequeathed a number of volumes to many of his
private friends.

There are few monastic libraries whose progress we can trace with so much
satisfaction as the one now under consideration, for we have another
catalogue compiled during the librarianship of John Tyshbourne, in the
year 1416,[210] in which many errors appearing in the former ones are
carefully corrected; books which subsequent to that time had been lost or
stolen are here accounted for; many had been sent to the students at
Oxford, and others have notes appended, implying to whom the volume had
been lent; thus to a "_Flores Bernardi_," occurs "_Prior debit, I Kempe
Episcopi Londoni_." It is, next to Monk Henry's of Canterbury, one of the
best of all the monkish catalogues I have seen; not so much for its
extent, as that here and there it fully partakes of the character of a
catalogue _raisonné_; for terse sentences are affixed to some of the more
remarkable volumes, briefly descriptive of their value; a circumstance
seldom observable in these early attempts at bibliography.

In taking leave of Durham library, need I say that the bibliomaniacs who
flourished there in the olden time, not only collected their books with
so much industry, but knew well how to use them too. The reader is
doubtless aware how many learned men dwelled in monkish time within those
ancient walls; and if he is inquisitive about such things has often
enjoyed a few hours of pleasant chat over the historic pages of Symeon of
Durham,[211] Turgot and Wessington,[212] and has often heard of brothers
Lawrence,[213] Reginald,[214] and Bolton; but although unheeded now, many
a monkish bookworm, glorying in the strict observance of Christian
humility, and so unknown to fame, lies buried beneath that splendid
edifice, as many monuments and funeral tablets testify and speak in high
favor of the great men of Durham. If the reader should perchance to
wander near that place, his eye will be attracted by many of these
memorials of the dead; and a few hours spent in exploring them will serve
to gain many additional facts to his antiquarian lore, and perhaps even
something better too. For I know not a more suitable place, as far as
outward circumstances are concerned, than an old sanctuary of God to
prepare the mind and lead it to think of death and immortality. We read
the names of great men long gone; of wealthy worldlings, whose fortunes
have long been spent; of ambitious statesmen and doughty warriors, whose
glory is fast fading as their costly mausoleums crumble in the hands of
time, and whose stone tablets, green with the lichens' hue, manifest how
futile it is to hope to gain immortality from stone, or purchase fame by
the cold marble trophies of pompous grief; not that on their glassy
surface the truth is always faithfully mirrored forth, even when the
thoughts of holy men composed the eulogy; the tombs of old knew as well
how to lie as now, and even ascetic monks could become too warm in their
praises of departed worth; for whilst they blamed the great man living,
with Christian charity they thought only of his virtues when they had
nothing but his body left, and murmured long prayers, said tedious
masses, and kept midnight vigils for his soul. For had he not shown his
love to God by his munificence to His Church on earth? _Benedicite_,
saith the monks.


[153] Bede's Eccles. Hist., B. iii. c. xvi.

[154] Bede, B. iv. c. xxvii.

[155] Marked Nero, D. iv. in the Cottonian collection.

[156] The illuminations are engraved in Strutt's _Horda_.

[157] There is prologue to the Canons and Prefaces of St. Jerome and
      Eusebius, and also a beautiful calendar written in compartments,
      elaborately finished in an architectural style.

[158] He also transcribed the Durham Ritual, recently printed by the
      Surtee Society; when Alfred wrote this volume he was with bishop
      Alfsige, p. 185, 8vo. _Lond._ 1840.

[159] For an account of this rare gem of Saxon art, see _Selden
      Præf. ad. Hist. Angl._ p. 25. _Marshall Observat. in Vers. Sax.
      Evang._, 491. _Dibdin's Decameron, p._ lii. _Smith's Bibl. Cotton.
      Hist. et Synop._, p. 33.

[160] Simeon of Durham translated by Stevens, p. 87.

[161] Simeon of Durham, by Stevens.

[162] Ep. viii.

[163] Tertia Quinquagina Augustini, marked B. ii. 14.

[164] Surtee publications, vol. i. p. 117.

[165] This catalogue is preserved at Durham, in the library of the
      Dean and Chapter, marked B. iv. 24. It is printed in the Surtee
      publications, vol. i. p. 1.

[166] "King Stephen was vncle vnto him."--_Godwin's Cat. of
      Bishops_, 511.

[167] He died in 1195.--Godwin, p. 735. He gave them also another
      Bible in two volumes; a list of the whole is printed in the Surtee
      publications, vol. i. p. 118.

[168] Surtee's Hist, of Durham, vol. i. p. xxxii. "He was wonderfull
      rich, not onely in ready money but in lands also, and temporall
      revenues. For he might dispend yeerely 5000 marks."--_Godwin's Cat.
      Eng. Bish._ 4to. 1601, p. 520.

[169] Robert de Graystane's ap. Wharton's Angl. Sacr. p. 748, tom.
      i.--_Hutchinson's Durham_, vol. i. p. 244.

[170] Surtee publ. vol. i. p. 121.

[171] Raine's North Durham, p. 85.

[172] Surtee public. vol. 1. p. 39-40.

[173] _Ibid._, vol. i. p. 41.

[174] Chambre Contin. Hist. Dunelm. apud Wharton Angliæ Sacra, tom.
      i. p. 765.

[175] Lord Campbell's Lives of the Lord Chancellors, vol. i. p. 219.

[176] Absconditus est in Campanili fratrum minorum.--_Chambre ap.
      Wharton_, tom. i. p. 765.

[177] In one of his letters Petrarch speaks of De Bury as _Virum
      ardentis ingenii_, Pet. ep. 1-3.

[178] Epist. Seniles, lib. xvi. ep. 1.

[179] Foscolo's Essays on Petrarch, p. 151.

[180] Foscolo's Essays on Petrarch, p. 156. Famil. ep. lxxii.

[181] Hortatio ad Nicol. Laurent Petrar., Op. vol. i. p. 596.

[182] _Apud Wharton Ang. Sac._ tom. i. p. 765.

[183] _Ibid._

[184] MS. Harleian, No. 3224, fo. 89, b.

[185] There are two MSS. of the Philobiblon in the British Museum,
      which I quote in giving my Latin Extracts. The first is in the
      Cotton collection, marked Appendix iv. fol. 103. At the end are
      these lines, _Ric. de Aungervile cognominato de Bury, Dunelm. Episc.
      Philobiblon completum in Manerio de Auckland, d. 24 Jan. 1344_, fol.
      119, b. The other is in the Harleian Collection, No. 3224, both are
      in fine preservation. The first printed edition appeared at Cologne,
      1473, in 4to., without pagination, signatures, or catchwords, with
      48 leaves, 26 lines on a full page; for some time, on account of its
      excessive rarity, which kept it from the eyes of book-lovers,
      bibliographers confused it with the second edition printed by John
      and Conrad Hüst, at Spires, in 1483, 4to. which, like the first, is
      without pagination, signatures, or catchwords, but it has only 39
      pages, with 31 lines on a full page. Two editions were printed in
      1500, 4to. at Paris, but I have only seen one of them. A fifth
      edition was printed at Oxford by T. J(ames), 4to. 1599. In 1614 it
      was published by Goldastus in 8vo. at Frankfort, with a
      _Philologicarium Epistolarum Centuria una_. Another edition of this
      same book was printed in 1674, 8vo. at Leipsic, and a still better
      edition appeared in 1703 by Schmidt, in 4to. The Philobiblon has
      recently been translated by Inglis, 8vo. _Lond._ 1834, with much
      accuracy and spirit, and I have in many cases availed myself of this
      edition, though I do not always exactly follow it.

[186] "Greges et Vellera, Fruges et honea, Porri et Olera, Potus et
      Patera rectiones sunt hodie et studio monachorum."--MS. Harl. 2324,
      fol. 79, a; MS. Cot. ap. iv. fo. 108, a.

[187] Wharton Ang. Sac., tom. i. p. 766, he is called _Ricardus
      Fitz-Rause postomodum Archiepiscopus Armachanus_.

[188] Scarcely.

[189] Translated by Trevisa, MS. Harleian, No. 1900, fol. 11, b.

[190] The original is _grandis et nobilis libraria_.

[191] Chaplain.

[192] Could not.

[193] Profitable.

[194] Philobiblon, transl. by Inglis, p. 56.

[195] "Curiam deinde vero Rem. publicam Regni sui Cacellarii, viz.:
      est ac Thesaurii fugeremur officiis, patescebat nobis aditus faciles
      regal favoris intuitu, ad libros latebras libere perscruta tandas
      amoris quippe nostri fama volatitis jam ubiqs. percreluit tam qs.
      libros _et maxime veterum_ ferabatur cupidite las vestere posse vero
      quemlibet nostrum per quaternos facilius quam per pecuniam adipisa
      favorem."--MS. Harl. fo. 85, a. MS. Cott. 110, b.

[196] MS. Cottonian Claudius, E. iv. fol. 203, b. _Warton's Hist. of
      Poetry, Dissert. ii._; and _Hallam's_ Middle Ages, vol. ii. p. 611.
      Both notice this circumstance as a proof of the scarcity of books in
      De Bury's time.

[197] _Ibid._ Among the MSS. in the Royal Library, there is a copy
      of John of Salisbury's _Ententicus_ which contains the following
      note, "Hunc librum fecit dominus Symon abbas S. Albani, quem postea
      venditum domino _Ricardo_ de Bury. Episcope Dunelmensi emit Michael
      abbas S. Albani ab executoribus prædicti episcopi, A. D. 1345."
      Marked 13 D. iv. 3. The same abbot expended a large sum in buying
      books for the library, but we shall speak more of Michael de
      Wentmore by and bye.

[198] "Sed revera libros non libras maluimus, Codicesque plus quam
      florenos, ac pampletos exiguos incrussatis proetulimus
      palafridis."--MS. Harl. fo. 86, a. MS. Cott. fo. 111, a.

[199] Inglis's Translation, p. 53.

[200] Inglis's Translation, p. 58.

[201] The Stationers or Booksellers carried on their business on
      open Stalls.--_Hallam, Lit. Europe_, vol. i. p. 339. It is pleasing
      to think that the same temptations which allure the bookworm now, in
      his perambulations, can claim such great antiquity, and that through
      so many centuries, bibliophiles and bibliopoles remain unaltered in
      their habits and singularities; but alas! this worthy relic of the
      middle ages I fear is passing into oblivion. Plate-glass fronts and
      bulky expensive catalogues form the bookseller's pride in these days
      of speed and progress, and offer more splendid temptations to the
      collector, but sad obstacles to the hungry student and black-letter
      bargain hunters.

[202] _Philob._ xix.

[203] Inglis, p. 96. "In primis quidam circa claudenda et apienda
      volumina, sit matura modestia; ut nec præcipiti festinatione
      solvantur, nec inspectione finita, sina clausura debita
      dimittantur." _MS. Harl._ fol. 103.

[204] _Chambre ap. Wharton_, tom. i. p. 766.

[205] Godwin Cat. of Bish. 525.

[206] _Chambre ap. Wharton_, tom. i. p. 766.

[207] It is marked A, ii. 16, and described in the old MS. catalogue
      as _De manus Bedæ_, ii. fol. _Baptizatus_.

[208] The attractive words "_Est vetus Liber_" often occur.

[209] From a volume of Thomas Aquinas, the following is transcribed:
      "Lib. Sti. Cuthberti de Dunelm, ex procuratione fratis Roberti de
      Graystane quem qui aliena verit maledictionem Sanctorum Mariæ,
      Oswaldi, Cuthberti et Benedicti incurrat." See _Surtee
      publications_, vol. i. p. 35, where other instances are given.

[210] Surtee publ. vol. i. p. 85.

[211] He wrote The Chronicle of Durham Monastery in 1130.

[212] His book on the Rights and Privileges of Durham Church is in
      the Cottonian Library, marked _Vitellius_, A, 9.

[213] Lawrence was elected prior in 1149, "a man of singular
      prudence and learning, as the many books he writ manifest."
      _Dugdale's Monast._ vol. 1. p. 230.

[214] Wrote the Life and Miracles of St. Cuthbert, the original book
      is in the Durham Library.


     _Croyland Monastery.--Its Library increased by
     Egebric.--Destroyed by Fire.--Peterborough.--Destroyed by the
     Danes.--Benedict and his books.--Anecdotes of
     Collectors.--Catalogue of the Library of the Abbey of
     Peterborough.--Leicester Library, etc._

The low marshy fens of Lincolnshire are particularly rich in monastic
remains; but none prove so attractive to the antiquary as the ruins of
the splendid abbey of Croyland. The pen of Ingulphus has made the affairs
of that old monastery familiar to us; he has told us of its prospering
and its misfortunes, and we may learn moreover from the pages of the monk
how many wise and virtuous men, of Saxon and Norman days, were connected
with this ancient fabric, receiving education there, or devoting their
lives to piety within its walls. It was here that Guthlac, a Saxon
warrior, disgusted with the world, sought solitude and repose; and for
ten long years he led a hermit's life in that damp and marshy fen; in
prayer and fasting, working miracles, and leading hearts to God, he spent
his lonely days, all which was rewarded by a happy and peaceful death,
and a sanctifying of his corporeal remains--for many wondrous miracles
were wrought by those holy relics.

Croyland abbey was founded on the site of Guthlac's hermitage, by
Ethelred, king of Mercia. Many years before, when he was striving for the
crown of that kingdom, his cousin, Crobrid, who then enjoyed it, pursued
him with unremitting enmity; and worn out, spiritless and exhausted, the
royal wanderer sought refuge in the hermit's cell. The holy man comforted
him with every assurance of success; and prophesied that he would soon
obtain his rights without battle or without bloodshed;[215] in return for
these brighter prospects, and these kind wishes, Ethelred promised to
found a monastery on that very spot in honor of God and St. Guthlac,
which promise he faithfully fulfilled in the year 716, and "thus the
wooden oratory was followed by a church of stone." Succeeding benefactors
endowed, and succeeding abbots enriched it with their learning; and as
years rolled by so it grew and flourished till it became great in wealth
and powerful in its influence. But a gloomy day approached--the Danes
destroyed that noble structure, devastating it by fire, and besmearing
its holy altars with the blood of its hapless inmates. But zealous piety
and monkish perseverance again restored it, with new and additional
lustre; and besides adding to the splendor of the edifice, augmented its
internal comforts by forming a library of considerable importance and
value. We may judge how dearly they valued a _Bibliotheca_ in those old
days by the contribution of one benevolent book-lover--Egebric, the
second abbot of that name, a man whom Ingulphus says was "far more
devoted to sacred learning and to the perusal of books than skilled in
secular matters,"[216] gladdened the hearts of the monks with a handsome
library, consisting of forty original volumes in various branches of
learning, and more than one hundred volumes of different tracts and
histories,[217] besides eighteen books for the use of the divine offices
of the church. Honor to the monk who, in the land of dearth, could amass
so bountiful a provision for the intellect to feed upon; and who
encouraged our early literature--when feeble and trembling by the renewed
attacks of rapacious invaders--by such fostering care.

In the eleventh century Croyland monastery was doomed to fresh
misfortunes; a calamitous fire, accidental in its origin, laid the fine
monastery in a heap of ruins, and scattered its library in blackened
ashes to the winds.[218] A sad and irreparable loss was that to the
Norman monks and to the students of Saxon history in modern times; for
besides four hundred Saxon charters, deeds, etc., many of the highest
historical interest and value beautifully illuminated in gold (_aureis
pictures_) and written in Saxon characters,[219] the whole of the choice
and ample library was burnt, containing seven hundred volumes, besides
the books of divine offices--the Antiphons and Grailes. I will not
agonize the bibliophile by expatiating further on the sad work of
destruction; but is he not somewhat surprised that in those bookless days
seven hundred volumes should have been amassed together, besides a lot of
church books and Saxon times?

Ingulphus, who has so graphically described the destruction of Croyland
monastery by the Danes in 870, has also given the particulars of their
proceedings at the monastery of Peterborough, anciently called
Medeshamstede, to which they immediately afterwards bent their steps. The
monks, on hearing of their approach, took the precaution to guard the
monastery by all the means in their power; but the quiet habits of
monastic life were ill suited to inspire them with a warlike spirit, and
after a feeble resistance, their cruel enemies (whom the monks speak of
in no gentle terms, as the reader may imagine), soon effected an
entrance; in the contest however Tulla, the brother of Hulda, the Danish
leader, was slain by a stone thrown by one of the monks from the walls;
this tended to kindle the fury of the besiegers, and so exasperated
Hulda that it is said he killed with his own hand the whole of the poor
defenceless monks, including their venerable abbot. The sacred edifice,
completely in their hands, was soon laid waste; they broke down the
altars, destroyed the monuments, and--much will the bibliophile deplore
it--set fire to their immense library "_ingens bibliotheca_," maliciously
tearing into pieces all their valuable and numerous charters, evidences,
and writings. The monastery, says the historian, continued burning for
fifteen days.[220] This seat of Saxon learning was left buried in its
ruins for near one hundred years, when Athelwold, bishop of Winchester,
in the year 966, restored it; but in the course of time, after a century
of peaceful repose, fresh troubles sprang up. When Turoldus, a Norman,
who had been appointed by William the Conqueror, was abbot, the Danes
again paid them a visit of destruction. Hareward de Wake having joined a
Danish force, proceeded to the town of Peterborough; fortunately the
monks obtained some intelligence of their coming, which gave Turoldus
time to repair to Stamford with his retinue. Taurus, the Sacrist, also
managed to get away, carrying with him some of their treasures, and among
them a text of the Gospels, which he conveyed to his superior at
Stamford, and by that means preserved them. On the arrival of the Danes,
the remaining monks were prepared to offer a somewhat stern resistance,
but without effect; for setting fire to the buildings, the Danes entered
through the flames and smoke, and pillaged the monastery of all its
valuable contents; and that which they could not carry away, they
destroyed: not even sparing the shrines of holy saints, or the
miracle-working dust contained therein. The monks possessed a great cross
of a most costly nature, which the invaders endeavored to take away, but
could not on account of its weight and size; however, they broke off the
gold crown from the head of the crucifix, and the footstool under its
feet, which was made of pure gold and gems; they also carried away two
golden biers, on which the monks carried the relics of their saints; with
nine silver ones. There was certainly no monachal poverty here, for their
wealth must have been profuse; besides the above treasures, they took
twelve crosses, made of gold and silver; they also went up to the tower
and took away a table of large size and value, which the monks had hid
there, trusting it might escape their search; it was a splendid affair,
made of gold and silver and precious stones, and was usually placed
before the altar. But besides all this, they robbed them of that which
those poor monkish bibliophiles loved more than all. Their library, which
they had collected with much care, and which contained many volumes, was
carried away, "with many other precious things, the like of which were
not to be found in all England."[221] The abbot and those monks who
fortunately escaped, afterwards returned, sad and sorrowful no doubt; but
trusting in their Divine Master and patron Saint, they ultimately
succeeded in making their old house habitable again, and well fortified
it with a strong wall, so that formerly it used to be remarked that this
building looked more like a military establishment than a house of God.

Eminently productive was the monastery of Peterborough in Saxon
bibliomaniacs. Its ancient annals prove how enthusiastically they
collected and transcribed books. There were few indeed of its abbots who
did not help in some way or other to increase their library. Kenulfus,
who was abbot in the year 992, was a learned and eloquent student in
divine and secular learning. He much improved his monastery, and greatly
added to its literary treasures.[222] But the benefactors of this place
are too numerous to be minutely specified here. Hugo Candidus tells us,
that Kinfernus, Archbishop of York, in 1056, gave them many valuable
ornaments; and among them a fine copy of the Gospels, beautifully adorned
with gold. This puts us in mind of Leofricus, a monk of the abbey, who
was made abbot in the year 1057. He is said to have been related to the
royal family, a circumstance which may account for his great riches. He
was a sad pluralist, and held at one time no less than five monasteries,
viz. Burton, Coventy, Croyland, Thorney, and Peterborough.[223] He gave
to the church of Peterborough many and valuable utensils of gold, silver,
and precious stones, and a copy of the Gospels bound in gold.[224]

But in all lights, whether regarded as an author or a bibliophile, great
indeed was Benedict, formerly prior of Canterbury, and secretary to
Thomas à Becket,[225] of whom it is supposed he wrote a life. He was made
abbot of Peterborough in the year 1177; he compiled a history of Henry
II. and king Richard I.;[226] he is spoken of in the highest terms of
praise by Robert Swapham for his profound wisdom and great erudition in
secular matters.[227] There can be no doubt of his book-loving passion;
for during the time he was abbot he transcribed himself, and ordered
others to transcribe, a great number of books. Swapham has preserved a
catalogue of them, which is so interesting that I have transcribed it
entire. The list is entitled:


Plurimos quoque libros 3 scribere fecit, quorum nomina subnotantur.

Vetus et Novum Testamentum in uno volumine.

Vetus et Novum Testamentum in 4 volumina.

Quinque libri Moysi glosati in uno volumine.

Sexdecim Prophetæ glosati in uno volumine.

Duodecim minores glosati Prophetæ in uno volumine.

Liber Regum glosatus, paralipomenon glosatus. Job, Parabolæ
Solomonis et Ecclesiastes, Cantica Canticorum glosati in
uno volumine.

Liber Ecclesiasticus et Liber Sapientiæ glosatus in uno volumine.

Tobyas, Judith, Ester et Esdras, glosati in uno volumine.

Liber Judicum glosatus.

Scholastica hystoria.

Psalterium glosatum.

Item non glosatum.

Item Psalterium.

Quatuor Evangelia glosata in uno volumine.

Item Mathæus et Marcus in uno volumine.

Johannes et Lucas in uno volumine.

Epistolæ Pauli glosatæ Apocalypsis et Epistolæ Canonicæ
glosata in uno volumine.

Sententiæ Petri Lombardi.

Item Sententiæ ejusdem.

Sermones Bernardi Abbatis Clarevallensis.

Decreta Gratiani.

Item Decreta Gratiani.

Summa Ruffini de Decretis.

Summa Johannes Fuguntini de Decretis.

Decretales Epistolæ.

Item Decretales Epistolæ.

Item Decretales Epistolæ cum summa sic incipiente; Olim.
Institutiones Justiniani cum autenticis et Infortiatio Digestum

Tres partes cum digesto novo.

Summa Placentini.

Totum Corpus Juris in duobus voluminibus.


Epistolæ Senecæ cum aliis Senecis in uno volumine.

Martialis totus et Terentius in uno volumine.

Morale dogma philosophorum.

Gesta Alexandri et Liber Claudii et Claudiani.

Summa Petri Heylæ de Grammatica, cum multis allis rebus
in uno volumine.

Gesta Regis Henrica secunda et Genealogiæ ejus.

Interpretatione Hebraicorum nominum.

Libellus de incarnatione verbi. Liber Bernardi Abbatis ad
Eugenium papam.


Vitæ Sancti Thomæ Martyris.[228]

Miracula ejusdem in quinque voluminibus.

Liber Richardi Plutonis, qui dicitur, unde Malum Meditationes

Practica Bartholomæi cum multis allis rebus in uno volumine.

Ars Physicæ Pantegni, et practica ipsius in uno volumine.

Almazor et Diascoridis de virtutibus herbarum.

Liber Dinamidiorum et aliorum multorum in uno volumine.

Libellus de Compoto.

Sixty volumes! perhaps containing near 100 separate works, and all added
to the library in the time of one abbot; surely this is enough to
controvert the opinion that the monks cared nothing for books or
learning, and let not the Justin, Seneca, Martial, Terence, and Claudian
escape the eye of the reader, those monkish bookworms did care a little,
it would appear, for classical literature. But what will he say to the
fine Bibles that crown and adorn the list? The two complete copies of the
_Vetus et Novum Testamentum_, and the many glossed portions of the sacred
writ, reflect honor upon the Christian monk, and placed him conspicuously
among the bible students of the middle ages; proving too, that while he
could esteem the wisdom of Seneca, and the vivacity of Terence, and feel
a deep interest in the secular history of his own times, he did not lose
sight of the fountain of all knowledge, but gave to the Bible his first
care, and the most prominent place on his library shelf. Besides the
books which the abbots collected for the monastery, they often possessed
a private selection for their own use; there are instances in which these
collections were of great extent; some of which we shall notice, but
generally speaking they seldom numbered many volumes. Thus Robert of
Lyndeshye, who was abbot of Peterborough in 1214, only possessed six
volumes, which were such as he constantly required for reference or
devotion; they consisted of a Numerale Majestri W. de Montibus cum alliis
rebus; Tropi Majestri Petri cum diversis summis; Sententiæ Petri
Pretanensis; Psalterium Glossatum; Aurora; Psalterium;[229] Historiale.
These were books continually in requisition, and which he possessed to
save the trouble of constantly referring to the library. His successor,
abbot Holdernesse, possessed also twelve volumes,[230] and Walter of St.
Edmundsbury Abbot, in 1233, had eighteen books, and among them a fine
copy of the Bible for his private study. Robert of Sutton in 1262, also
abbot of Peterborough, possessed a similar number, containing a copy of
the Liber Naturalium Anstotelis; and his successor, Richard of London,
among ten books which formed his private library, had the Consolation of
Philosophy, a great favorite in the monasteries. In the year 1295 William
of Wodeforde, collected twenty volumes, but less than that number
constituted the library of Adam de Botheby, who was abbot of Peterborough
many years afterwards, but among them I notice a Seneca, with thirty-six
others contained in the same volume.[231]

Abbot Godfrey, elected in the year 1299, was a great benefactor to the
church, as we learn from Walter de Whytlesse, who gives a long list of
donations made by him; among a vast quantity of valuables, "he gave to
the church _two Bibles_, one of which was written in France," with about
twenty other volumes. In the war which occurred during his abbacy,
between John Baliol of Scotland and Edward I. of England, the Scots
applied to the pope for his aid and council; his holiness deemed it his
province to interfere, and directed letters to the king of England,
asserting that the kingdom of Scotland appertained to the Church of Rome;
in these letters he attempt to prove that it was opposed to justice, and,
what he deemed of still greater importance, to the interests of the holy
see, that the king of England should not have dominion over the kingdom
of Scotland. The pope's messengers on this occasion were received by
abbot Godfrey; Walter says that "He honorably received two cardinals at
Peterborough with their retinues, who were sent by the pope to make peace
between the English and the Scotch, and besides cheerfully entertaining
them with food and drink, gave them divers presents; to one of the
cardinals, named Gaucelin, he gave a certain psalter, beautifully written
in letters of gold and purple, and marvellously illuminated, _literis
aureis et assuris scriptum et mirabiliter luminatum_.[232] I give this
anecdote to show how splendidly the monks inscribed those volumes
designed for the service of the holy church. I ought to have mentioned
before that Wulstan, archbishop of York, gave many rare and precious
ornaments to Peterborough, nor should I omit a curious little book
anecdote related of him. He was born at Jceritune in Warwickshire, and
was sent by his parents to Evesham, and afterwards to Peterborough, where
he gave great indications of learning. His schoolmaster, who was an
Anglo-Saxon named Erventus, was a clever calligraphist, and is said to
have been highly proficient in the art of illuminating; he instructed
Wulstan in these accomplishments, who wrote under his direction a
sacramentary and a psalter, and illuminated the capitals with many
pictures painted in gold and colors; they were executed with so much
taste that his master presented the sacramentary to Canute, and the
psalter to his queen."[233]

From these few facts relative to Peterborough Monastery, the reader will
readily perceive how earnestly books were collected by the monks there,
and will be somewhat prepared to learn that a catalogue of 1,680 volumes
is preserved, which formerly constituted the library of that fraternity
of bibliophiles. This fine old catalogue, printed by Gunton in his
history of the abbey, covers fifty folio pages; it presents a faithful
mirror of the literature of its day, and speaks well for the
bibliomanical spirit of the monks of Peterborough. Volumes of patristic
eloquence and pious erudition crowd the list; chronicles, poetry, and
philosophical treatises are mingled with the titles of an abundant
collection of classic works, full of the lore of the ancient world.
Although the names may be similar to those which I have extracted from
other catalogues, I must not omit to give a few of them; I find works

Isagoge of Porphry.
Entyci Grammatica.

But although they possessed these fine authors and many others equally
choice, I am not able to say much for the biblical department of their
library, I should have anticipated a goodly store of the Holy Scriptures,
but in these necessary volumes they were unusually poor. But I suspect
the catalogue to have been compiled during the fifteenth century, and I
fear too, that in that age the monks were growing careless of Scripture
reading, or at least relaxing somewhat in the diligence of their studies;
perhaps they devoured the attractive pages of Ovid, and loved to read his
amorous tales more than became the holiness of their priestly
calling.[234] At any rate we may observe a marked change as regards the
prevalence of the Bible in monastic libraries between the twelfth and the
fifteenth century. It is true we often find them in those of the later
age; but sometimes they are entirely without, and frequently only in
detached portions.[235] I may illustrate this by a reference to the
library of the Abbey of St. Mary de la Pré at Leicester, which gloried in
a collection of 600 volumes, of the choicest and almost venerable
writers. It was written in the year 1477, by William Chartye,[236] prior
of the abbey, and an old defective and worn out Bible, _Biblie defect et
usit_, with some detached portions, was all that fine library contained
of the Sacred Writ. The bible _defect et usit_ speaks volumes to the
praise of the ancient monks of that house, for it was by their constant
reading and study, that it had become so thumbed and worn; but it stamps
with disgrace the affluent monks of the fifteenth century, who, while
they could afford to buy, in the year 1470,[237] some thirty volumes with
a Seneca, Ovid, Claudian, Macrobius, Æsop, etc., among them, and who
found time to transcribe twice as many more, thought not of restoring
their bible tomes, or adding one book of the Holy Scripture to their
crowded shelves. But alas! monachal piety was waxing cool and indifferent
then, and it is rare to find the honorable title of an _Amator
Scripturarum_ affixed to a monkish name in the latter part of the
fifteenth century.


[215] Gough's Hist. Croyland in Bibl. Top. Brit. xi. p. 3.

[216] Inguph. in Gale's Script. tom. i. p. 53.

[217] "Debit iste Abbas Egebricus communi bibliothecæ clanstralium
      monachorum magna volumina diversorum doctorum originalia numero
      quadraginta; minora vero volumina de diversæ tractatibus et
      historiis, quæ numerum centenarium excedibant." Ingul. p. 53.

[218] The fire occurred in 1091. Ingulphus relates with painful
      minuteness the progress of the work of destruction, and enumerates
      all the rich treasures which those angry flames consumed. I should
      have given a longer account of this event had not the Rev. Mr.
      Maitland already done so in his interesting work on the "_Dark

[219] Gale's Remin. Ang. Scrip. i. p. 98.

[220] Ingulph. ap. Gale i. p. 25.

[221] See Gunter's Peterborough, suppl. 263.

[222] Hugo Candid, p. 31; Tamer Bib. Brit. et Hib. p. 175. Candidus
      says, "Flos literaris disciplina, torrens eloquentiæ, decus et norma
      rerum divinarum et secularium."

[223] Hugo Candid. ap. Sparke, Hist. Ang. Scrip. p. 41. Gunter's
      Peterboro, p. 15, ed. 1686.

[224] Hugo Candid. p. 42.

[225] Leland de Scrip. Brit. p. 217.

[226] Published by Hearne, 2 vol. 8vo. _Oxon._ 1735.

[227] Rt. Swap. ap. Sparke, p. 97. "Erat. enin literarum scientiæ
      satis imbutus; regulari disciplina optime instructus; sapientia
      seculari plenissime eruditus."

[228] Swapham calls this "Egregium volumen," p. 98.

[229] Now preserved in the library of the Society of Antiquaries.

[230] Gunter, Peterborough, p. 29.

[231] Ibid, p. 37.

[232] Walter de Whytlesse apud Sparke, p. 173.

[233] Gunter's Hist. of Peterborough, p. 259.

[234] At any rate, we find about thirty volumes of Ovid's works
      enumerated, and several copies of "de Arte Amandi," and "de Remedis

[235] Let the reader examine Leland's Collect., and the Catalogues
      printed in Hunter's Tract on Monastic Libraries. See also Catalogue
      of Canterbury Library, MS. Cottonian Julius, c. iv. 4., in the
      British Museum.

[236] Printed by Nichols, in Appendix to Hist. of Leicester, from a
      MS. Register. It contains almost as fine a collection of the
      classics and fathers as that at Peterborough, just noticed,
      Aristotle, Virgil, Plato, Ovid, Cicero, Euclid, Socrates, Horace,
      Lucan, Seneca, etc., etc. are among them, pp. 101 to 108. It is
      curious that Leland mentions only six MSS. as forming the library at
      the time he visited the Abbey of Leicester, all its fine old volumes
      were gone. He only arrived in time to pick up the crumbs.

[237] At least during the time of William Charteys priorship. See
      Nichols, p. 108.


     _King Alfred an "amator librorum" and an author._

The latter part of the tenth century was a most memorable period in the
annals of monkish bibliomania, and gave birth to one of the brightest
scholars that ever shone in the dark days of our Saxon forefathers. King
Alfred, in honor of whose talents posterity have gratefully designated
the Great, spread a fostering care over the feeble remnant of native
literature which the Danes in their cruel depredations had left
unmolested. The noble aspirations of this royal student and patron of
learning had been instilled into his mind by the tender care of a fond
parent. It was from the pages of a richly illuminated little volume of
Saxon poetry, given to him by the queen as a reward for the facility with
which he had mastered its contents, that he first derived that intense
love of books which never forsook him, though the sterner duties of his
after position frequently required his thoughts and energies in another
channel. Having made himself acquainted with this little volume, Alfred
found a thirst for knowledge grow upon him, and applied his youthful mind
to study with the most zealous ardor; but his progress was considerably
retarded, because he could not, at that time, find a Grammaticus capable
of instructing him,[238] although he searched the kingdom of the West
Saxons. Yet he soon acquired the full knowledge of his own language, and
the Latin it is said he knew as well, and was able to use with a fluency
equal to his native tongue; he could comprehend the meaning of the Greek,
although perhaps he was incapable of using it to advantage. He was so
passionately fond of books, and so devoted to reading, that he constantly
carried about him some favorite volume which, as a spare moment occurred,
he perused with the avidity of an _helluo librorum_. This pleasing
anecdote related by Asser[239] is characteristic of his natural

When he ascended the throne, he lavished abundant favors upon all who
were eminent for their literary acquirements; and displayed in their
distribution the utmost liberality and discrimination. Asser, who
afterwards became his biographer, was during his life the companion and
associate of his studies, and it is from his pen we learn that, when an
interval occurred inoccupied by his princely duties, Alfred stole into
the quietude of his study to seek comfort and instruction from the pages
of those choice volumes, which comprised his library. But Alfred was not
a mere bookworm, a devourer of knowledge without purpose or without
meditation of his own, he thought with a student's soul well and deeply
upon what he read, and drew from his books those principles of
philanthropy, and those high resolves, which did such honor to the Saxon
monarch. He viewed with sorrow the degradation of his country, and the
intellectual barrenness of his time; the warmest aspiration of his soul
was to diffuse among his people a love for literature and science, to
raise them above their Saxon sloth, and lead them to think of loftier
matters than war and carnage. To effect this noble aim, the highest to
which the talents of a monarch can be applied, he for a length of time
devoted his mind to the translation of Latin authors into the vernacular
tongue. In his preface to the Pastoral of Gregory which he translated, he
laments the destruction of the old monastic libraries by the Danes. "I
saw," he writes, "before alle were spoiled and burnt, how the churches
throughout Britain were filled with treasures and books,"[240] which must
have presented a striking contrast to the illiterate darkness which he
tells us afterwards spread over his dominions, for there were then very
few _paucissimi_ who could translate a Latin epistle into the Saxon

When Alfred had completed the translation of Gregory's Pastoral, he sent
a copy to each of his bishops accompanied with a golden stylus or
pen,[241] thus conveying to them the hint that it was their duty to use
it in the service of piety and learning. Encouraged by the favorable
impression which this work immediately caused, he spared no pains to
follow up the good design, but patiently applied himself to the
translation of other valuable books which he rendered into as pleasing
and expressive a version as the language of those rude times permitted.
Besides these literary labors he also wrote many original volumes, and
became a powerful orator, a learned grammarian, an acute philosopher, a
profound mathematician, and the prince of Saxon poesy; with these exalted
talents he united those of an historian, an architect, and an
accomplished musician. A copious list of his productions, the length of
which proves the fertility of his pen, will be found in the Biographica
Britannica,[242] but names of others not there enumerated may be found
in monkish chronicles; of his Manual, which was in existence in the time
of William of Malmsbury, not a fragment has been found. The last of his
labors was probably an attempt to render the psalms into the common
language, and so unfold that portion of the Holy Scriptures to our Saxon

Alfred, with the assistance of the many learned men whom he had called to
his court, restored the monasteries and schools of learning which the
Danes had desecrated, and it is said founded the university of Oxford,
where he built three halls, in the name of the Holy Trinity; for the
doctors of divinity, philosophy, and grammar. The controversy which this
subject has given rise to among the learned is too long to enter into
here, although the matter is one of great interest to the scholar and to
the antiquary.

In the year 901, this royal bibliophile, "the victorious prince, the
studious provider for widows, orphanes, and poore people, most perfect in
Saxon poetrie, most liberall endowed with wisdome, fortitude, justice,
and temperance, departed this life;"[243] and right well did he deserve
this eulogy, for as an old chronicle says, he was "a goode clerke and
rote many bokes, and a boke he made in Englysshe, of adventures of kynges
and bataylles that had bene wne in the lande; and other bokes of gestes
he them wryte, that were of greate wisdome, and of good learnynge, thrugh
whych bokes many a man may him amende, that well them rede, and upon
them loke. And thys kynge Allured lyeth at Wynchestre."[244]


[238] Flor. Vigorn. sub. anno. 871. Brompton's Chron. in Alferi, p.

[239] Asser de Alfredi Gestis., Edit. Camden i. p. 5. William
      Malmsbury, b. ii. c. iv.

[240] Preface to Pastoral.

[241] Much controversy has arisen as to the precise meaning of this
      word. _Hearne_ renders this passage "with certain macussus or marks
      of gold the purest of his coin," which has led some to suppose gold
      coinage was known among the Saxons. _William of Malmsbury_ calls it
      a golden style in which was a maucus of gold. "In Alfred's Preface
      it is called an Æstel of fifty macuses."--_V. Asser a Wise_, 86 to
      175; but the meaning of that word is uncertain. The stylus properly
      speaking was a small instrument formerly used for writing on waxen
      tablets, and made of iron or bone, see _Archæologia_, vol. ii. p.
      75. But waxen tablets were out of use in Alfred's time. The Æstel or
      style was most probably an instrument used by the scribes of the
      monasteries, if it was not actually a pen. I am more strongly
      disposed to consider it so by the evidence of an ancient MS.
      illumination of Eadwine, a monk of Canterbury, in Trinity Coll.
      Camb.; at the end of this MS. the scribe is represented with a
      _metal pen in his hand_.

[242] Vol. i. pp. 54, 55.

[243] Stowe's Annals, 4to. 1615, p. 105.

[244] Cronycle of Englonde with the Fruyte of Tymes, 4to. 1515.


     _Benedict Biscop and his book
     tours.--Bede.--Ceolfrid.--Wilfrid.--Boniface the Saxon
     Missionary--His love of books.--Egbert of York.--Alcuin.--Whitby
     Abbey.--Cædmon.--Classics in the Library of Withby.--Rievall
     Library.--Coventry.--Worcester.--Evesham.--Thomas of Marleberg,

The venerable Bede enables us to show that in the early Saxon days the
monasteries of Wearmouth and Jarrow possessed considerable collections of
books. Benedict Biscop, the most enthusiastic bibliomaniac of the age,
founded the monastery of Wearmouth in the year 674, in honor of the "Most
Holy Prince of the Apostles." His whole soul was in the work, he spared
neither pains or expense to obtain artists of well known and reputed
talent to decorate the holy edifice; not finding them at home, he
journeyed to Gaul in search of them, and returned accompanied by numerous
expert and ingenious workmen. Within a year the building was
sufficiently advanced to enable the monks to celebrate divine service
there. He introduced glass windows and other ornaments into his church,
and furnished it with numerous books of all descriptions, _innumerabilem
librorum omnis generis_. Benedict was so passionately fond of books that
he took five journeys to Rome for the purpose of collecting them. In his
third voyage he gathered together a large quantity on divine erudition;
some of these he bought, or received them as presents from his friends,
_vel amicorum dono largitos retulit_. When he arrived at Vienne on his
way home, he collected others which he had commissioned his friends to
purchase for him.[245] After the completion of his monastery he undertook
his fourth journey to Rome; he obtained from the Pope many privileges for
the abbey, and returned in the year 680, bringing with him many more
valuable books; he was accompanied by John the Chantor, who introduced
into the English churches the Roman method of singing. He was also a
great _amator librorum_, and left many choice manuscripts to the monks,
which Bede writes "were still preserved in their library." It was about
this time that Ecgfrid[246] gave Benedict a portion of land on the other
side of the river Wire, at a place called Jarrow; and that enterprising
and industrious abbot, in the year 684, built a monastery thereon. No
sooner was it completed, than he went a fifth time to Rome to search for
volumes to gratify his darling passion. This was the last, but perhaps
the most successful of his foreign tours, for he brought back with him a
vast quantity of sacred volumes and curious pictures.[247] How deeply is
it to be regretted that the relation of the travels which Ceolfrid his
successor undertook, and which it is said his own pen inscribed, has been
lost to us forever. He probably spoke much of Benedict in the volume and
recorded his book pilgrimages. How dearly would the bibliomaniac revel
over those early annals of his science, could his eye meet those
venerable pages--perhaps describing the choice tomes Benedict met with in
his Italian tours, and telling us how, and what, and where he gleaned
those fine collections; sweet indeed would have been the perusal of that
delectable little volume, full of the book experience of a bibliophile in
Saxon days, near twelve hundred years ago! But the ravages of time or the
fury of the Danes deprived us of this rare gem, and we are alone
dependent on Bede for the incidents connected with the life of this great
man; we learn from that venerable author that Benedict was seized with
the palsy on his return, and that languishing a few short years, he died
in the year 690; but through pain and suffering he often dwelt on the
sweet treasures of his library, and his solemn thoughts of death and
immortality were intermixed with many a fond bookish recollection. _His
most noble and abundant library which he brought from Rome_ he constantly
referred to, and gave strict injunctions that the monks should apply the
utmost care to the preservation of that rich and costly treasure, in the
collection of which so many perils and anxious years were spent.[248]

We all know the force of example, and are not surprised that the sweet
mania which ruled so potently over the mind of Benedict, spread itself
around the crowned head of royalty. Perhaps book collecting was beginning
to make "a stir," and the rich and powerful among the Saxons were
regarding strange volumes with a curious eye. Certain it is that Egfride,
or Ælfride, the proud king of Northumbria,[249] fondly coveted a
beautiful copy of the geographer's (_codice mirandi operis_), which
Benedict numbered among his treasures; and so eagerly too did he desire
its possession, that he gave in exchange a portion of eight hides of
land, near the river Fresca, for the volume; and Ceolfrid, Benedict's
successor, received it.

How useful must Benedict's library have been in ripening the mind that
was to cast a halo of immortality around that old monastery, and to
generate a renown which was long to survive the grey walls of that costly
fane; for whilst we now fruitlessly search for any vestiges of its former
being, we often peruse the living pages of Bede the venerable with
pleasure and instruction, and we feel refreshed by the breath of piety
and devotion which they unfold; yet it must be owned the superstition of
Rome will sometimes mar a devout prayer and the simplicity of a Christian
thought. But all honor to his manes and to his memory! for how much that
is admirable in the human character--how much sweet and virtuous humility
was hid in him, in the strict retirement of the cloister. The writings of
that humble monk outlive the fame of many a proud ecclesiastic or haughty
baron of his day; and well they might, for how homely does his pen record
the simple annals of that far distant age. Much have the old monks been
blamed for their bad Latin and their humble style; but far from
upbraiding, I would admire them for it; for is not the inelegance of
diction which their unpretending chronicles display, sufficiently
compensated by their charming simplicity. As for myself, I have sometimes
read them by the blaze of my cheerful hearth, or among the ruins of some
old monastic abbey,[250] till in imagination I beheld the events which
they attempt to record, and could almost hear the voice of the "_goode
olde monke_" as he relates the deeds of some holy man--in language so
natural and idiomatic are they written.

But as we were saying, Bede made ample use of Benedict's library; and the
many Latin and Greek books, which he refers to in the course of his
writings, were doubtless derived from that source.[251] Ceolfrid, the
successor of Benedict, "a man of great zeal, of acute wisdom, and bold in
action," was a great lover of books, and under his care the libraries of
Wearmouth and Jarrow became nearly doubled in extent; of the nature of
these additions we are unable to judge, but probably they were not

Wilfrid, bishop of Northumbria, was a dear and intimate friend of
Biscop's, and was the companion of one of his pilgrimages to Rome. In his
early youth he gave visible signs of a heart full of religion and piety,
and he sought by a steady perusal of the Holy Scriptures, in the little
monastery of Lindesfarne, to garnish his mind with that divine lore with
which he shone so brightly in the Saxon church. It was at the court of
Ercenbyrht, king of Kent, that he met with Benedict Biscop; and the
sympathy which their mutual learning engendered gave rise to a warm and
devoted friendship between them. Both inspired with an ardent desire to
visit the apostolic see, they set out together for Rome;[253] and it was
probably by the illustrious example of his fellow student and companion,
that Wilfrid imbibed that book-loving passion which he afterwards
displayed on more than one occasion. On his return from Rome, Alfred of
Northumbria bestowed upon him the monastery of Rhypum[254] in the year
661, and endowed it with certain lands. Peter of Blois records, in his
life of Wilfrid, that this "man of God" gave the monastery a copy of the
gospels, a library, and many books of the Old and New Testament, with
certain tablets made with marvellous ingenuity, and ornamented with gold
and precious stones.[255] Wilfrid did not long remain in the monastery of
Ripon, but advanced to higher honors, and took a more active part in the
ecclesiastical affairs of the time.[256] But I am not about to pursue his
history, or to attempt to show how his hot and imperious temper, or the
pride and avarice of his disposition, wrought many grievous animosities
in the Saxon church; or how by his prelatical ambition he deservedly lost
the friendship of his King and his ecclesiastical honors.[257]

About this time, and contemporary with Bede, we must not omit one who
appears as a bright star in the early Christian church. Boniface,[258]
the Saxon missionary, was remarked by his parents to manifest at an early
age signs of that talent which in after years achieved so much, and
advanced so materially the interests of piety and the cause of
civilization. When scarcely four years old his infant mind seemed prone
to study, which growing upon him as he increased in years, his parent
placed him in the monastery of Exeter. His stay there was not of long
duration, for he shortly after removed to a monastery in Hampshire under
the care of Wybert. In seclusion and quietude he there studied with
indefatigable ardor, and fortified his mind with that pious enthusiasm
and profound erudition, which enabled him in a far distant country to
render such service to the church. He was made a teacher, and when
arrived at the necessary age he was ordained priest. In the year 710, a
dispute having occurred among the western church of the Saxons, he was
appointed to undertake a mission to the archbishop of Canterbury on the
subject. Pleased perhaps with the variety and bustle of travel, and
inspired with a holy ambition, he determined to attempt the conversion of
the German people, who, although somewhat acquainted with the gospel
truths, had nevertheless deviated materially from the true faith, and
returned again to their idolatry and paganism. Heedless of the danger of
the expedition, but looking forward only to the consummation of his fond
design, he started on his missionary enterprise, accompanied by one or
two of his monkish brethren.

He arrived at Friesland in the year 716, and proceeded onwards to
Utrecht; but disappointments and failures awaited him. The revolt of the
Frieslanders and the persecution then raging there against the
Christians, dissipated his hopes of usefulness; and with a heavy heart,
no doubt, Boniface retraced his steps, and re-embarked for his English
home. Yet hope had not deserted him--his philanthropic resolutions were
only delayed for a time; for no sooner had the dark clouds of persecution
passed away than his adventurous spirit burst forth afresh, and shone
with additional lustre and higher aspirations. After an interval of two
years we find him again starting on another Christian mission. On
reaching France he proceeded immediately to Rome, and procured admission
to the Pope, who, ever anxious for the promulgation of the faith and for
the spiritual dominion of the Roman church, highly approved of the
designs of Boniface, and gave him letters authorizing his mission among
the Thuringians; invested with these powers and with the pontifical
blessing, he took his departure from the holy city, well stored with the
necessary ornaments and utensils for the performance of the
ecclesiastical rites, besides a number of books to instruct the heathens
and to solace his mind amidst the cares and anxieties of his travels.
After some few years the fruits of his labor became manifest, and in 723
he had baptized vast multitudes in the true faith. His success was
perhaps unparalleled in the early annals of the church, and remind us of
the more recent wonders wrought by the Jesuit missionaries in India.[259]
Elated with these happy results, far greater than even his sanguine mind
had anticipated, he sent a messenger to the Pope to acquaint his holiness
of these vast acquisitions to his flock, and soon after he went himself
to Rome to receive the congratulations and thanks of the Pontiff; he was
then made bishop, and entrusted with the ecclesiastical direction of the
new church. After his return, he spent many years in making fresh
converts and maintaining the discipline of the faithful. But all these
labors and these anxieties were terminated by a cruel and unnatural
death; on one of his expeditions he was attacked by a body of pagans, who
slew him and nearly the whole of his companions, but it is not here that
a Christian must look for his reward--he must rest his hopes on the
benevolence and mercy of his God in a distant and far better world. He
who would wish to trace more fully these events, and so catch a glimpse
of the various incidents which touch upon the current of his life, must
not keep the monk constantly before his mind, he must sometimes forget
him in that capacity and regard him as a _student_, and that too in the
highest acceptation of the term. His youthful studies, which I have said
before were pursued with unconquerable energy, embraced grammar, poetry,
rhetoric, history, and the exposition of the Holy Scriptures; the Bible,
indeed, he read unceasingly, and drew from it much of the vital truth
with which it is inspired; but he perhaps too much tainted it with
traditional interpretation and patristical logic. A student's life is
always interesting; like a rippling stream, its unobtrusive gentle course
is ever pleasing to watch, and the book-worms seems to find in it the
counterpart of his own existence. Who can read the life and letters of
the eloquent Cicero, or the benevolent Pliny, without the deepest
interest; or mark their anxious solicitude after books, without sincere
delight. Those elegant epistles reflect the image of their private
studies, and so to behold Boniface in a student's garb, to behold his
love of books and passion for learning, we must alike have recourse to
his letters.

The epistolary correspondence of the middle ages is a mirror of those
times, far more faithful as regards their social condition than the old
chronicles and histories designed for posterity; written in the
reciprocity of friendly civilities, they contain the outpourings of the
heart, and enable us to peep into the secret thoughts and motives of the
writer; "for out of the fulness of the hearth the mouth speaketh."
Turning over the letters of Boniface, we cannot but be forcibly struck
with his great knowledge of Scripture; his mind seems to have been quite
a concordance in itself, and we meet with epistles almost solely framed
of quotations from the sacred books, in substantiation of some principle,
or as grounds for some argument advanced. These are pleasurable
instances, and convey a gentle hint that the greater plenitude of the
Bible has not, in all cases, emulated us to study it with equal energy;
there are few who would now surpass the Saxon bishop in biblical reading.

Most students have felt, at some period or other, a thirst after
knowledge without the means of assuaging it--have felt a craving after
books when their pecuniary circumstances would not admit of their
acquisition, such will sympathize with Boniface, the student in the wilds
of Germany, who, far from monastic libraries, sorely laments in some of
his letters this great deprivation, and entreats his friends, sometimes
in most piteous terms, to send him books. In writing to Daniel, Bishop of
Winchester, he asks for copies, and begs him to send the book of the six
prophets, clearly and distinctly transcribed, and in large letters
because his sight he says was growing weak; and because the book of the
prophets was much wanted in Germany, and could not be obtained except
written so obscurely, and the letters so confusedly joined together, as
to be scarcely readable _ac connexas litteras discere non possum_.[260]
To "Majestro Lul" he writes for the productions of bishop Aldhelm, and
other works of prose, poetry, and rhyme, to console him in his
peregrinations _ad consolationem peregrinationis meæ_.[261] With Abbess
Eadburge he frequently corresponded, and received from her many choice
and valuable volumes, transcribed by her nuns and sometimes by her own
hands; at one period he writes in glowing terms and with a grateful pen
for the books thus sent him, and at another time he sends for a copy of
the Gospels. "Execute," says he, "a glittering lamp for our hands, and so
illuminate the hearts of the Gentiles to a study of the Gospels and to
the glory of Christ; and intercede, I pray thee, with your pious prayers
for these pagans who are committed by the apostles to our care, that by
the mercy of the Saviour of the world they may be delivered from their
idolatrous practices, and united to the congregation of mother church, to
the honor of the Catholic faith, and to the praise and glory of His name,
who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the

All this no doubt the good abbess faithfully fulfilled; and stimulated by
his friendship and these encouraging epistles, she set all the pens in
her monastery industriously to work, and so gratified the Saxon
missionary with those book treasures, which his soul so ardently loved;
certain it is, that we frequently find him thanking her for books, and
with famishing eagerness craving for more; one of his letters,[263] full
of gratitude, he accompanies with a present of a silver graphium, or
writing instrument, and soon after we find him thus addressing her:

     "To the most beloved sister, Abbess Eadburge, and all now joined
     to her house and under her spiritual care. Boniface, the meanest
     servant of God, wisheth eternal health in Christ."

"My dearest sister, may your assistance be abundantly rewarded hereafter
in the mansions of the angels and saints above, for the kind presents of
books which you have transmitted to me. Germany rejoices in their
spiritual light and consolation, because they have spread lustre into,
the dark hearts of the German people; for except we have a lamp to guide
our feet, we may, in the words of the Lord, fall into the snares of
death. Moreover, through thy gifts I earnestly hope to be more diligent,
so that my country may be honored, my sins forgiven, and myself protected
from the perils of the sea and the violence of the tempest; and that He
who dwells on high may lightly regard my transgression, and give
utterance to the words of my mouth, that the Gospel may have free course,
and be glorified among men to the honor of Christ."[264]

Writing to Egbert, Archbishop of York, of whose bibliomaniacal character
and fine library we have yet to speak, Boniface thanks that illustrious
collector for the choice volumes he had kindly sent him, and further
entreats Egbert to procure for him transcripts of the smaller works
_opusculi_ and other tracts of Bede, "who, I hear," he writes, "has, by
the divine grace of the Holy Spirit, been permitted to spread such
lustre over your country."[265] These, that kind and benevolent prelate
sent to him with other books, and received a letter full of gratitude in
return, but with all the boldness of a hungry student still asking for
more! especially for Bede's Commentary on the Parables of Solomon.[266]
He sents to Archbishop Nothelm for a copy of the Questions of St.
Augustine to Pope Gregory, with the answers of the pope, which he says he
could not obtain from Rome; and in writing to Cuthbert, also Archbishop
of Canterbury, imploring the aid of his earnest prayers, he does not
forget to ask for books, but hopes that he may be speedily comforted with
the works of Bede, of whose writings he was especially fond, and was
constantly sending to his friends for transcripts of them. In a letter to
Huetberth he writes for the "most sagacious dissertations of the monk
Bede,"[267] and to the Abbot Dudde he sends a begging message for the
Commentaries on the Epistles of Paul to the Romans and to the
Corinthians[268] by the same. In a letter to Lulla, Bishop of Coena, he
deplores the want of books on the phenomena and works of nature, which,
he says, were _omnio incognitum_ there, and asks for a book on
Cosmography;[269] and on another occasion Lulla supplied Boniface with
many portions of the Holy Scriptures, and Commentaries upon them.[270]
Many more of his epistles might be quoted to illustrate the Saxon
missionary as an "_amator librorum_," and to display his profound
erudition. In one of his letters we find him referring to nearly all the
celebrated authors of the church, and so aptly, that we conclude he must
have had their works on his desk, and was deeply read in patristical
theology. Boniface has been fiercely denounced for his strong Roman
principles, and for his firm adherence to the interests of the pope.[271]
Of his theological errors, or his faults as a church disciplinarian, I
have nothing here to do, but leave that delicate question to the
ecclesiastical historian, having vindicated his character from the charge
of ignorance, and displayed some pleasing traits which he evinced as a
student and book-collector. It only remains to be mentioned, that many of
the membranous treasures, which Boniface had so eagerly searched for and
collected from all parts, were nearly lost forever. The pagans, who
murdered Boniface and his fellow-monks, on entering their tents,
discovered little to gratify their avarice, save a few relics and a
number of books, which, with a barbarism corresponding with their
ignorance, they threw into the river as useless; but fortunately, some of
the monks, who had escaped from their hands, observing the transaction,
recovered them and carried them away in safety with the remains of the
martyred missionary, who was afterwards canonized Saint Boniface.

The must remarkable book collector contemporary with Boniface, was Egbert
of York, between whom, as we have seen, a bookish correspondence was
maintained. This illustrious prelate was brother to King Egbert, of
Northumbria, and received his education under Bishop Eata, at Hexham,
about the year 686. He afterwards went on a visit to the Apostolic See,
and on his return was made Archbishop of York.[272] He probably collected
at Rome many of the fine volumes which comprised his library, and which
was so celebrated in those old Saxon days; and which will be ever
renowned in the annals of ancient bibliomania. The immortal Alcuin sang
the praises of this library in a tedious lay; and what glorious tomes of
antiquity he there enumerates! But stay, my pen should tarry whilst I
introduce that worthy bibliomaniac to my reader, and relate some
necessary anecdotes and facts connected with his early life and times.

Alcuin was born in England, and probably in the immediate vicinity of
York; he was descended from affluent and noble parents; but history is
especially barren on this subject, and we have no information to instruct
us respecting the antiquity of his Saxon ancestry. But if obscurity hangs
around his birth, so soon as he steps into the paths of learning and
ranks with the students of his day, we are no longer in doubt or
perplexity; but are able from that period to his death to trace the
occurrences of his life with all the ease that a searcher of monkish
history can expect. He had the good fortune to receive his education from
Egbert, and under his care he soon became initiated into the mysteries of
grammar, rhetoric, and jurisprudence; which were relieved by the more
fascinating study of poetry, physics, and astronomy.[273] So much was he
esteemed by his master the archbishop, that he entrusted him with a
mission to Rome, to receive from the hands of the Pope his pall; on his
return he called at Parma, where he had an interview with Charles the
Great; who was so captivated with his eloquence and erudition that he
eagerly entreated him to remain, and to aid in diffusing throughout his
kingdom the spirit of that knowledge which he had so successfully
acquired in the Saxon monasteries. But Alcuin was equally anxious for the
advancement of literature in his own country; and being then on a mission
connected with his church, he could do no more than hold out a promise of
consulting his superiors, to whose decisions he considered himself bound
to submit.

During the dominion of Charles, the ecclesiastical as well as the
political institutions of France, were severely agitated by heresy and
war: the two great questions of the age--the Worship of Images and the
Nature of Christ--divided and perplexed the members of a church which had
hitherto been permitted to slumber in peace and quietude. The most
prominent of the heretics was Felix, Bishop of Urgel, who maintained in
a letter to Elipand, Bishop of Toledo, that Christ was only the Son of
God by adoption. It was about the time of the convocation of the Council
of Frankfort, assembled to consider this point, that Alcuin returned to
France at the earnest solicitation of Charlemagne. When the business of
the council was terminated, and peace was somewhat restored, Alcuin began
to think of returning to his native country; but England at that time was
a land of bloodshed and tribulation, in the midst of which it would be
vain to hope for retirement or the blessings of study; after some
deliberation, therefore, Alcuin resolved to remain in France, where there
was at least a wide field for exertion and usefulness. He communicates
his intention in a letter to Offa, King of Mercia. "I was prepared," says
he, "to come to you with the presents of King Charles, and to return to
my country; but it seemed more advisable to me for the peace of my nation
to remain abroad; not knowing what I could have done among those persons
with whom no man can be secure or able to proceed in any laudable
pursuit. See every holy place laid desolate by pagans, the altars
polluted by perjury, the monasteries dishonored by adultery, the earth
itself stained with the blood of rulers and of princes."[274]

After the elapse of many years spent in the brilliant court of Charles,
during which time it surpassed in literary greatness any epoch that
preceded it, he was permitted to seek retirement within the walls of the
abbey of St. Martin's at Tours. But in escaping from the bustle and
intrigue of public life he did not allow his days to pass away in an
inglorious obscurity; but sought to complete his earthly career by
inspiring the rising generation with an honorable and christian ambition.
His cloistered solitude, far from weakening, seems to have augmented the
fertility of his genius, for it was in the quiet seclusion of this
monastery that Alcuin composed the principal portion of his works; nor
are these writings an accumulation of monastic trash, but the fruits of
many a solitary hour spent in studious meditation. His method is perhaps
fantastic and unnatural; but his style is lively, and often elegant. His
numerous quotations and references give weight and interest to his
writings, and clearly proves what a fine old library was at his command,
and how well he knew the use of it. But for the elucidation of his
character as a student, or a bibliomaniac, we naturally turn to the huge
mass of his epistles which have been preserved; and in them we find a
constant reference to books which shew his intimacy with the classics as
well as the patristical lore of the church. In biblical literature he
doubtless possessed many a choice and venerable tome; for an
indefatigable scripture reader was that great man. In a curious little
work of his called "_Interrogationes et Responsiones sui Liber
Questionorum in Genesim_," we find an illustration of his usefulness in
spreading the knowledge he had gained in this department of learning. It
was written expressly for his pupil and dearest brother (_carissime
frater_), Sigulf, as we learn from a letter which accompanies it. He
tells him that he had composed it "that he might always have near him the
means of refreshing his memory when the more ponderous volumes of the
sacred Scriptures were not at his immediate call."[275] Perhaps of all
his works this is the least deserving of our praise; the good old monk
was apt to be prolix, if not tedious, when he found the _stylus_ in his
hand and a clean skin of parchment spread invitingly before him. But as
this work was intended as a manual to be consulted at any time, he was
compelled to curb this propensity, and to reduce his explications to a
few concise sentences. Writing under this restraint, we find little
bearing the stamp of originality, not because he had nothing original to
say, but because he had not space to write it in; I think it necessary to
give this explanation, as some critics upon the learning of that remote
age select these small and ill-digested writings as fair specimens of the
literary capacity of the time, without considering why they were written
or compiled at all. But as a scribe how shall we sufficiently praise that
great man when we take into consideration the fine Bible which he
executed for Charlemagne, and which is now fortunately preserved in the
British Museum. It is a superb copy of St. Jerome's Latin version, freed
from the inaccuracies of the scribes; he commenced it about the year 778,
and did not complete it till the year 800, a circumstance which indicates
the great care he bestowed upon it. When finished he sent it to Rome by
his friend and disciple, Nathaniel, who presented it to Charlemagne on
the day of his coronation: it was preserved by that illustrious monarch
to the last day of his life. Alcuin makes frequent mention of this work
being in progress, and speaks of the labor he was bestowing upon it.[276]
We, who blame the monks for the scarcity of the Bible among them, fail to
take into consideration the immense labor attending the transcriptions of
so great a volume; plodding and patience were necessary to complete it.
The history of this biblical gem is fraught with interest, and well worth
relating. It is supposed to have been given to the monastery of Prum in
Lorraine by Lothaire, the grandson of Charlemagne, who became a monk of
that monastery. In the year 1576 this religious house was dissolved, but
the monks preserved the manuscript, and carried it into Switzerland to
the abbey of Grandis Vallis, near Basle, where it reposed till the year
1793, when, on the occupation of the episcopal territory of Basle by the
French, all the property of the abbey was confiscated and sold, and the
MS. under consideration came into the possession of M. Bennot, from whom,
in 1822, it was purchased by M. Speyr Passavant, who brought it into
general notice, and offered it for sale to the French Government at the
price of 60,000 francs; this they declined, and its proprietor struck of
nearly 20,000 francs from the amount; still the sum was deemed
exorbitant, and with all their bibliomanical enthusiasm, the conservers
of the Royal Library allowed the treasure to escape. M. Passavant
subsequently brought it to England, where it was submitted to the Duke of
Sussex, still without success. He also applied to the trustees of the
British Museum, and Sir F. Madden informs us that "much correspondence
took place; at first he asked 12,000_l._ for it; then 8,000_l._, and at
last 6,500_l._, which he declared an _immense sacrifice!!_ At length,
finding he could not part with his MS. on terms so absurd, he resolved to
sell it if possible by auction; and accordingly, on the 27th of April,
1836, the Bible was knocked down by Mr. Evans for the sum of 1,500_l._,
but for the proprietor himself, as there was not one real bidding for it.
This result having brought M. Speyr Passavant in some measure to his
senses, overtures were made to him on the part of the trustees to the
British Museum, and the manuscript finally became the property of the
nation, for the comparatively small sum of 750_l._" There can be no doubt
as to the authenticity of this precious volume, the verses of Alcuin's,
found in the manuscript, sufficiently prove it, for he alone could

    "Is Carolus qui jam Scribe jussit eum."
         .     .     .     .     .     .     .
    "Hæc Dator Æternus cunctorum Christe bonorum,
     Munera de donis accipe sancta tuis,
     Quæ Pater Albinus devoto pectore supplex
     Nominus ad laudem obtulit ecce tui."

Other proofs are not wanting of Alcuin's industry as a scribe, or his
enthusiasm as an _amator librorum_. Mark the rapture with which he
describes the library of York Cathedral, collected by Egbert:

    "Illic invenies veterum vestigia Patrum,
     Quidquid habet pro se Latio Romanus in orbe,
     Græcia vel quidquid transmisit Clara Latinis.
     Hebraicus vel quod populus bibet imbre superno
     Africa lucifluo vel quidquid lumine sparsit.
     Quod Pater Hieronymus quod sensit Hilarius, atque
     Ambrosius Præsul simul Augustinus, et ipse
     Sanctus Athanasius, quod Orosius, edit avitus:
     Quidquid Gregorius summus docet, et Leo Papa;
     Basilius quidquid, Fulgentius atque coruscant
     Cassiodorus item, Chrysostomus atque Johannes:
     Quidquid et Athelmus docuit, quid Beda Magister,
     Quæ Victorinus scripsêre, Boetius; atque
     Historici veteres, Pompeius, Plinius, ipse
     Acer Aristoteles, Rhetor quoque Tullius ingens;
     Quidquoque Sedulius, vel quid canit ipse Invencus,
     Alcuinus, et Clemens, Prosper, Paulinus, Arator.
     Quid Fortunatus, vel quid Lactantius edunt;
     Quæ Maro Virgilius, Statius, Lucanus, et auctor
     Artis Grammaticæ, vel quid scripsêre magistri;
     Quid Probus atque Focas, Donatus, Priscian usve,
     Sevius, Euticius, Pompeius, Commenianus,
     Invenies alios perplures, lector, ibidem
     Egregios studiis, arte et sermone magistros
     Plurima qui claro scripsêre volumina sensu:
     Nomina sed quorum præsenti in carmine scribi
     Longius est visum, quam plectri postulet usus."[277]

Often did Alcuin think of these goodly times with a longing heart, and
wish that he could revel among them whilst in France. How deeply would he
have regretted, how many tears would he have shed over the sad
destruction of that fine library, had he have known it; but his bones had
mingled with the dust when the Danes dispersed those rare gems of ancient
lore. If the reader should doubt the ardor of Alcuin as a book-lover, let
him read the following letter, addressed to Charlemagne, which none but
a bibliomaniac could pen.

"I, your Flaccus, according to your admonitions and good-will, administer
to some in the house of St. Martin, the sweets of the Holy Scriptures,
_Sanctarum mella Scripturarum_: others I inebriate with the study of
ancient wisdom; and others I fill with the fruits of grammatical lore.
Many I seek to instruct in the order of the stars which illuminate the
glorious vault of heaven; so that they may be made ornaments to the holy
church of God and the court of your imperial majesty; that the goodness
of God and your kindness may not be altogether unproductive of good. But
in doing this I discover the want of much, especially those exquisite
books of scholastic learning, which I possessed in my own country,
through the industry of my good and most devout master (Egbert). I
therefore intreat your Excellence to permit me to send into Britain some
of our youths to procure those books which we so much desire, and thus
transplant into France the flowers of Britain, that they may fructify and
perfume, not only the garden at York, but also the Paradise of Tours; and
that we may say, in the words of the song, '_Let my beloved come into his
garden and eat his pleasant fruit_;' and to the young, '_Eat, O friends;
drink, yea, drink, abundantly, O beloved_;' or exhort, in the words of
the prophet Isaiah, '_every one that thirsteth to come to the waters, and
ye that hath no money, come ye, buy and eat: yea, come, buy wine and milk
without money and without price_.'

"Your Majesty is not ignorant how earnestly we are exhorted throughout
the Holy Scriptures to search after wisdom; nothing so tends to the
attainment of a happy life; nothing more delightful or more powerful in
resisting vice; nothing more honorable to an exalted dignity; and,
according to philosophy, nothing more needful to a just government of a
people. Thus Solomon exclaims, '_Wisdom is better than rubies, and all
the things that may be desired are not to be compared to it_.' It
exalteth the humble with sublime honors. '_By wisdom kings reign and
princes decree justice: by me princes rule; and nobles, even all the
judges of the earth. Blessed are they that keep my ways, and blessed is
the man that heareth me._' Continue, then, my Lord King, to exhort the
young in the palaces of your highness to earnest pursuit in acquiring
wisdom; that they may be honored in their old age, and ultimately enter
into a blessed immortality. I shall truly, according to my ability,
continue to sow in those parts the seeds of wisdom among your servants;
remembering the command, '_In the morning sow thy seed, and in the
evening withhold not thine hand._' In my youth I sowed the seeds of
learning in the prosperous seminaries of Britain; and now, in my old age,
I am doing so in France without ceasing, praying that the grace of God
may bless them in both countries."[278]

Such was the enthusiasm, such the spirit of bibliomania, which actuated
the monks of those _bookless_ days; and which was fostered with such
zealous care by Alcuin, in the cloisters of St. Martin of Tours. He
appropriated one of the apartments of the monastery for the transcription
of books, and called it the _museum_, in which constantly were employed a
numerous body of industrious scribes: he presided over them himself, and
continually exhorted them to diligence and care; to guard against the
inadvertencies of unskilful copyists, he wrote a small work on
orthography. We cannot estimate the merits of this essay, for only a
portion of it has been preserved; but in the fragment printed among his
works, we can see much that might have been useful to the scribes, and
can believe that it must have tended materially to preserve the purity of
ancient texts. It consists of a catalogue of words closely resembling
each other, and consequently requiring the utmost care in

In these pleasing labors Alcuin was assisted by many of the most learned
men of the time, and especially by Arno, Archbishop of Salzburgh, in
writing to whom Alcuin exclaims, "O that I could suddenly translate my
_Abacus_, and with my own hands quickly embrace your fraternity with that
warmth which cannot be compressed in books. Nevertheless, because I
cannot conveniently come, I send more frequently my unpolished letters
(_rusticitatis meæ litteras_) to thee, that they may speak for me instead
of the words of my mouth." This Arno, to whom he thus affectionately
writes, was no despicable scholar; he was a true lover of literature, and
proved himself something of an _amator librorum_, by causing to be
transcribed or bought for his use, 150 volumes,[280] but about this
period the bookloving mania spread far and wide--the Emperor himself was
touched with the enthusiasm; for, besides his choice private
collections,[281] he collected together the ponderous writings of the
holy fathers, amounting to upwards of 200 volumes, bound in a most
sumptuous manner, and commanded them to be deposited in a public temple
and arranged in proper order, so that those who could not purchase such
treasures might be enabled to feast on the lore of the ancients. Thus did
bibliomania flourish in the days of old.

But I must not be tempted to remain longer in France, though the names of
many choice old book collectors would entice me to do so. When I left
England, to follow the steps of Alcuin, I was speaking of York, which
puts me in mind of the monastery of Whitby,[282] in the same shire, on
the banks of the river Eske. It was founded by Hilda, the virgin daughter
of Hereric, nephew to King Edwin, about the year 680, who was its first
abbess. Having put her monastery in regular order, Hilda set an
illustrious example of piety and virtue, and particularly directed all
under her care to a constant reading of the holy Scriptures. After a long
life of usefulness and zeal she died deeply lamented by the Saxon
Church,[283] an event which many powerful miracles commemorated.

In the old times of the Saxons the monastery of Whitby was renowned for
its learning; and many of the celebrated ecclesiastics of the day
received their instruction within its walls. The most interesting
literary anecdote connected with the good lady Hilda's abbacy, is the
kind reception she gave to the Saxon poet Cædmon, whose paraphrase of the
Book of Genesis has rendered his name immortal. He was wont to make
"pious and religious verses, so that whatever was interpreted to him out
of Scripture, he soon after put the same into poetical expression of much
sweetness and humility in English, which was his native language. By his
verses the minds of many were often excited to despise the world and to
aspire to heaven. Others after him attempted in the English nation to
compose religious poems, but none could ever compare with him, _for he
did not learn the art of poetry from man but from God_."[284] He was
indeed, as the venerable Bede says, a poet of nature's own teaching:
originally a rustic herdsman, the sublime gift was bestowed upon him by
inspiration, or as it is recorded, in a dream. As he slept an unknown
being appeared, and commanded him to sing. Cædmon hesitated to make the
attempt, but the apparition retorted, "Nevertheless, thou shalt
sing--sing the origin of things." Astonished and perplexed, our poet
found himself instantaneously in possession of the pleasing art; and,
when he awoke, his vision and the words of his song were so impressed
upon his memory, that he easily repeated them to his wondering
companions.[285] He hastened at day-break to relate these marvels and to
display his new found talents to the monks of Whitby, by whom he was
joyfully received, and as they unfolded the divine mysteries, "The good
man," says Bede, "listened like a clean animal ruminating; and his song
and his verse were so winsome to hear, that his teachers wrote them down,
and learned from his mouth."[286]

Some contend that an ancient manuscript in the British Museum is the
original of this celebrated paraphrase.[287] It is just one of those
choice relics which a bibliomaniac loves to handle, but scarcely perhaps
bears evidence of antiquity so remote. It is described in the catalogue
as, "The substance of the Book of Genesis, with the Acts of Moses and
Joshua, with brief notes and annotations, part in Latin and part in Saxon
by Bede and others." The notes, if by Bede, would tend to favor the
opinion that it is the original manuscript, or, at any rate, coeval with
the Saxon bard. The volume, as a specimen of calligraphic art, reflects
honor upon the age, and is right worthy of Lady Hilda's monastery. There
are 312[288] fine velum pages in this venerable and precious volume,
nearly every one of which dazzles with the talent of the skilful
illuminator. The initial letters are formed, with singular taste and
ingenuity, of birds, beasts, and flowers. To give an idea of the nature
of these pictorial embellishments--which display more splendor of
coloring than accuracy of design--I may describe the singular
illumination adorning the sixth page, which represents the birth of Eve.
Adam is asleep, reclining on the grass, which is depicted as so many
inverted cones; and, if we may judge from the appearance of our venerable
forefather, he could not have enjoyed a very comfortable repose on that
memorable occasion, and the grass which grew in the Garden of Paradise
must have been of a very stubborn nature when compared with the earth's
verdure of the present day; for the weight of Adam alters not the
position of the tender herb, which supports his huge body on their
extreme summits. As he is lying on the left side Eve is ascending from a
circular aperture in his right; nor would the original, if she bore any
resemblance to her monkish portraiture, excite the envy or the admiration
of the present age, or bear comparison with her fair posterity. Her
physiognomy is anything but fascinating, and her figure is a repulsive
monstrosity, _adorned_ with a profusion of luxurious hair of a brilliant

It is foreign to our subject to enter into any analysis of the literary
beauties of this poem; let it suffice that Cædmon, the old Saxon
herdsman, has been compared to our immortal Milton; and their names have
been coupled together when speaking of a poet's genius.[289] But on other
grounds Cædmon claims a full measure of our praise. Not only was he the
"Father of Saxon poetry," but to him also belongs the inestimable honor
of being the first who attempted to render into the vulgar tongue the
beauties and mysteries of the Holy Scriptures; he unsealed what had
hitherto been a sealed book; his paraphrase is the first translation of
the holy writ on record. So let it not be forgotten that to this Milton
of old our Saxon ancestors were indebted for this invaluable treasure. We
are unable to trace distinctly the formation of the monastic library of
Whitby. But of the time of Richard, elected abbot in the year 1148, a
good monk, and formerly prior of Peterborough, we have a catalogue of
their books preserved. I would refer the reader to that curious
list,[290] and ask him if it does not manifest by its contents the
existence of a more refined taste in the cloisters than he gave the old
monks credit for. It is true, the legends of saints abound in it; but
then look at the choice tomes of a classic age, whose names grace that
humble catalogue, and remember that the studies of the Whitby monks were
divided between the miraculous lives of holy men, and the more pleasing
pages of the "Pagan Homer," the eloquence of Tully, and the wit of
Juvenal, of whose subject they seemed to have been fond; for they read
also the satires of Persius. I extract the names of some of the authors
contained in this monkish library:

Rabanus Maurus.
Gregory Nazianzen.
Guido on Music.
Diadema Monachorum.

Come, the monks evidently read something besides their _Credo_, and
transcribed something better than "monastic trash." A little taste for
literature and learning we must allow they enjoyed, when they formed
their library of such volumes as the above. I candidly admit, that when I
commenced these researches I had no expectations of finding a collection
of a hundred volumes, embracing so many choice works of old Greece and
Rome. It is pleasant, however, to trace these workings of bibliomania in
the monasteries; and it is a surprise quite agreeable and delicious in
itself to meet with instances like the present.

At a latter period the monastery of Rievall, in Yorkshire, possessed an
excellent library of 200 volumes. This we know by a catalogue of them,
compiled by one of the monks about the middle of the fourteenth century,
and now preserved in the library of Jesus College, Cambridge.[291] A
transcript of this manuscript was made by Mr. Halliwell, and published in
his "Reliqua Antiqua,"[292] from which it may be seen that the Rievall
monastery contained at that time many choice and valuable works. The
numerous writings of Sts. Augustine, Bernard, Anselm, Cyprian, Origin,
Haimo, Gregory, Ambrose, Isidore, Chrysostom, Bede, Aldhelm, Gregory
Nazienzen, Ailred, Josephus, Rabanus Maurus, Peter Lombard, Orosius,
Boethius, Justin, Seneca, with histories of the church of Britain, of
Jerusalem, of King Henry, and many others equally interesting and costly,
prove how industriously they used their pens, and how much they
appreciated literature and learning. But in the fourteenth century the
inhabitants of the monasteries were very industrious in transcribing
books at a period coeval with the compilation of the Rievall catalogue, a
monk of Coventry church was plying his pen with unceasing energy; John de
Bruges wrote with his own hand thirty-two volumes for the library of the
benedictine priory of St. Mary.

The reader will see that there is little among them worthy of much
observation. The MS. begins, "These are the books which John of Bruges,
monk of Coventry, wrote for the Coventry church. Any who shall take them
away from the church without the consent of the convent, let him be

In primis, ymnarium in grossa littera.
Halmo upon Isaiah.
A Missal for the Infirmary.
A Missal.
Duo missalia domini Prioris Rogeris, scilicet collectas cum secretis
        et postcommunione.
A Benedictional for the use of the same prior.
Another Benedictional for the use of the convent.
Librum cartarum.
Martyrologium, Rule of St. Benedict and Pastoral, in one volume.
Liber cartarum.
A Graduale, with a Tropario, and a Processional.
Psaltar for Prior Roger.
Palladium de Agricultura.
Librum experimentorum, in quo ligatur compotus Helprici.
A book containing Compotus manualis et Merlin, etc.
An Ordinal for the Choir.
Tables for the Martyrology.
Kalendarium mortuorum.
Table of Responses.
Capitular for Prior Roger.
A Reading Book.
A book of Decretals.
Psalter for the monks in the infirmary.
Generationes Veteris et Novi Testamenti; ante scholasticam hystoriam
        et ante Psalterium domini Anselmi.
Pater noster.
An Ordinal.
Tables for Peter Lombard's Sentences.
Tables for the Psalter.
Book of the Statutes of the Church.
Verses on the praise of the blessed Mary.

The priory of St. Mary's was founded by Leofricke, the celebrated Earl of
Mercia and his good Lady Godiva, in the year 1042. "Hollingshead says
that this Earl Leofricke was a man of great honor, wise, and discreet in
all his doings. His high wisdome and policie stood the realme in great
steed whilst he lived.... He had a noble ladie to his wife named Gudwina,
at whose earnest sute he made the citie of Couentrie free of all manner
of toll except horsses, and to haue that toll laid downe also, his
foresaid wife rode naked through the middest of the towne without other
couerture, saue onlie her haire. Moreouer partlie moued by his owne
deuotion and partlie by the persuasion of his wife, he builded or
beneficiallie augmented and repared manie abbeies and churches as the
saide abbie or priorie at Couentrie--the abbeies of Wenlocke, Worcester,
Stone, Evesham, and Leot, besides Hereford."

The church of Worcester, which the good Earl had thus "beneficiallie
augmented," the Saxon King Offa had endowed with princely munificence
before him. In the year 780, during the time of Abbot Tilhere, or
Gilhere, Offa gave to the church Croppethorne, Netherton, Elmlege
Cuddeshe, Cherton, and other lands, besides a "large Bible with two
clasps, made of the purest gold."[294] In the tenth century the library
of Exeter Church was sufficiently extensive to require the preserving
care of an amanuensis; for according to Dr. Thomas, Bishop Oswald granted
in the year 985 three hides of land at Bredicot, one yardland at
Ginenofra, and seven acres of meadow at Tiberton, to Godinge a monk, on
condition of his fulfilling the duties of a librarian to the see, and
transcribing the registers and writings of the church. It is said that
the scribe Godinge wrote many choice books for the library.[295] I do not
find any remarkable book donation, save now and then a volume or two, in
the annals of Worcester Church; nor have I been able to discover any old
parchment catalogue to tell of the number or rarity of their books; for
although probably most monasteries had one compiled, being enjoined to do
so by the regulations of their order, they have long ago been destroyed;
for when we know that fine old manuscripts were used by the bookbinders
after the Reformation, we can easily imagine how little value would be
placed on a mere catalogue of names.

But to return again to Godiva, that illustrious lady gave the monks,
after the death of her lord, many landed possessions, and bestowed upon
them the blessings of a library.[296]

Thomas Cobham, who was consecrated Bishop of Worcester in the year 1317,
was a great "_amator librorum_," and spent much time and money in
collecting books. He was the first who projected the establishment of a
public library at Oxford, which he designed to form over the old
Congregation House in the churchyard of St. Mary's, but dying soon after
in the year 1327, the project was forgotten till about forty years after,
when I suppose the example of the great bibliomaniac Richard de Bury drew
attention to the matter; for his book treasures were then "deposited
there, and the scholars permitted to consult them on certain

Bishop Carpenter built a library for the use of the monastery of Exeter
Church, in the year 1461, over the charnal house; and endowed it with £10
per annum as a salary for an amanuensis.[298] But the books deposited
there were grievously destroyed during the civil wars; for on the
twenty-fourth of September, 1642, when the army under the Earl of Essex
came to Worcester, they set about "destroying the organ, breaking in
pieces divers beautiful windows, wherein the foundation of the church was
lively historified with painted glass;" they also "rifled the library,
with the records and evidences of the church, tore in pieces the Bibles
and service books pertaining to the quire."[299] Sad desecration of
ancient literature! But the reader of history will sigh over many such

The registers of Evesham Monastery, near Worcester, speak of several
monkish bibliophiles, and the bookish anecdotes relating to them are
sufficiently interesting to demand some attention here. Ailward, who was
abbot in the year 1014, gave the convent many relics and ornaments, and
what was still better a quantity of books.[300] He was afterwards
promoted to the see of London, over which he presided many years; but age
and infirmity growing upon him, he was anxious again to retire to
Evesham, but the monks from some cause or other were unwilling to receive
him back; at this he took offence, and seeking in the monastery of Ramsey
the quietude denied him there, he demanded back all the books he had
given them.[301] His successor Mannius was celebrated for his skill in
the fine arts, and was an exquisite worker in metals, besides an
ingenious scribe and illuminator. He wrote and illuminated with his own
hand, for the use of his monastery, a missal and a large Psalter.[302]

Walter, who was abbot in the year 1077, gave also many books to the
library,[303] and among the catalogue of sumptuous treasures with which
Reginald, a succeeding abbot, enriched the convent, a great textus or
gospels, with a multitude of other books, _multa alia libros_, are
particularly specified.[304] Almost equally liberal were the choice gifts
bestowed upon the monks by Adam (elected A. D. 1161); but we find but
little in our way among them, except a fine copy of the "Old and New
Testament with a gloss." No mean gift I ween in those old days; but one
which amply compensated for the deficiency of the donation in point of
numbers. But all these were greatly surpassed by a monk whom it will be
my duty now to introduce; and to an account of whose life and
bibliomanical propensities, I shall devote a page or two. Like many who
spread a lustre around the little sphere of their own, and did honor,
humbly and quietly to the sanctuary of the church in those Gothic days,
he is unknown to many; and might, perhaps, have been entirely forgotten,
had not time kindly spared a document which testifies to his piety and
book-collecting industry. The reader will probably recollect many who, by
their shining piety and spotless life, maintained the purity of the
Christian faith in a church surrounded by danger and ignorance, and many
a bright name, renowned for their virtue or their glory of arms, who
flourished during the early part of the thirteenth century; but few have
heard of a good and humble monk named Thomas of Marleberg. Had
circumstances designed him for a higher sphere, had affairs of state, or
weighty duties of an ecclesiastical import, been guided by his hand, his
name would have been recorded with all the flourish of monkish adulation;
but the learning and the prudence of that lowly monk was confined to the
little world of Evesham; and when his earthly manes were buried beneath
the cloisters within the old convent walls, his name and good deeds were
forgotten by the world, save in the hearts of his fraternity.

    "But past is all his fame. The very spot
     Where many a time he triumph'd, is forgot."

In a manuscript in the Cotton Library there is a document called "The
good deeds of Prior Thomas," from which the following facts have been

From this interesting memorial of his labors, we learn that Thomas had
acquired some repute among the monks for his great knowledge of civil and
canon law; so that when any difficulty arose respecting the claims or
privileges of the monastery, or when any important matter was to be
transacted, his advice was sought and received with deference and
respect. Thus three years after his admission the bishop of Worcester
intimated his intention of paying the monastery a visitation; a practice
which the bishops of that see had not enforced since the days of abbot
Alurie. The abbot and convent however considered themselves free from the
jurisdiction of the bishop; and acting on the advice of Thomas of
Marleberg, they successfully repulsed him. The affair was quite an event,
and seems to have caused much sensation among them at the time; and is
mentioned to show with what esteem Thomas was regarded by his monkish
brethren. After a long enumeration of "good works" and important
benefactions, such as rebuilding the tower and repairing the convent, we
are told that "In the second year of Randulp's abbacy, Thomas, then dean,
went with him to Rome to a general council, where, by his prudence and
advice, a new arrangement in the business of the convent rents was
confirmed, and many other useful matters settled." Here I am tempted to
refer to the _arrangements_, for they offer pleasing illustrations of the
monk as an "_amator librorum_." Mark how his thoughts dwelt--even when
surrounded by those high dignitaries of the church, and in the midst of
that important council--on the library and the scriptorium of his

     "_To the Prior belongs the tythes of Beningar the both great and
     small, to defray the expenses of procuring parchment, and to
     procure manuscripts for transcription._"

And in another clause it is settled that

     "_To the Office of the Precentor belongs the Manner of Hampton,
     from which he will receive five shillings annually, besides ten
     and eightpence from the tythes of Stokes and Alcester, with which
     he is to find all the ink and parchment for the Scribes of the
     Monastery, colours for illuminating, and all that is necessary
     for binding the books_."[306]

Pleasing traits are these of his bookloving passion; and doubtless under
his guidance the convent library grew and flourished amazingly. But let
us return to the account of his "good works."

"Returning from Rome after two years he was elected sacrist. He then made
a reading-desk behind the choir,[307] which was much wanted in the
church, and appointed stated readings to be held near the tomb of Saint
Wilsius.... Leaving his office thus rich in good works, he was then
elected prior. In this office he buried his predecessor, Prior John, in a
new mausoleum; and also John, surnamed Dionysius; of the latter of whom
Prior Thomas was accustomed to say, 'that he had never known any man who
so perfectly performed every kind of penance as he did for more than
thirty years, in fasting and in prayer; in tears and in watchings; in
cold and in corporeal inflictions; in coarseness and roughness of
clothing, and in denying himself bodily comforts, far more than any other
of the brethren; all of which he rather dedicated in good purposes and
to the support of the poor."

Thus did many an old monk live, practising all this with punctilious care
as the essence of a holy life, and resting upon the fallacy that these
cruel mortifyings of the flesh would greatly facilitate the acquisition
of everlasting ease and joy in a better world; as if God knew not, better
than themselves, what chastisements and afflictions were needful for
them. We may sigh with pain over such instances of mistaken piety and
fanatical zeal in all ages of the church; yet with all their privations,
and with all their macerations of the flesh, there was a vast amount of
human pride mingled with their humiliation. But He who sees into the
hearts of all--looking in his benevolence more at the intention than the
outward form, may perhaps sometimes find in it the workings of a true
christian piety, and so reward it with his love. Let us trust so in the
charity of our faith, and proceed to notice that portion of the old
record which is more intimately connected with our subject. We read that

"Thomas had brought with him to the convent, on his entering, many books,
of both canon and civil law; as well as the books by which he had
regulated the schools of Oxford and Exeter before he became a monk. He
likewise had one book of Democritus; and the book of Antiparalenion, a
gradual book, according to Constantine; Isidore's Divine Offices, and the
Quadrimum of Isidore; Tully's de Amicitia; Tully de Senectute et de
Paradoxis; Lucan, Juvenal, and many other authors, _et multos alios
auctores_, with a great number of sermons, with many writings on
theological questions; on the art and rules of grammar and the book of
accents. After he was prior he made a great breviary, better than any at
that time in the monastery, with Haimo, on the Apocalypse, and a book
containing the lives of the patrons of the church of Evesham; with an
account of the deeds of all the good and bad monks belonging to the
church, in one volume. He also wrote and bound up the same lives and acts
in another volume separately. He made also a great Psalter, _magnum
psalterium_, superior to any contained in the monastery, except the
glossed ones. He collected and wrote all the necessary materials for four
antiphoners, with their musical notes, himself; except what the brothers
of the monastery transcribed for him. He also finished many books that
William of Lith, of pious memory, commenced--the Marterologium, the
Exceptio Missæ, and some excellent commentaries on the Psalter and
Communion of the Saints in the old antiphoners. He also bought the four
Gospels, with glosses, and Isaiah and Ezekiel, also glossed;[308] the
Pistillæ upon Matthew; some Allegories on the Old Testament; the
Lamentations of Jeremiah, with a gloss; the Exposition of the Mass,
according to Pope Innocent; and the great book of Alexander Necham, which
is called _Corrogationes Promethea de partibus veteris testamenti et
novæ_.... He also caused to be transcribed in large letters the book
concerning the offices of the abbey, from the Purification of St. Mary
to the Feast of Easter; the prelections respecting Easter; Pentecost, and
the blessings at the baptismal fonts. He also caused a volume, containing
the same works, to be transcribed, but in a smaller hand; all of which
the convent had not before. He made also the tablet for the locutory in
the chapel of St. Anne, towards the west. After the altar of St. Mary in
the crypts had been despoiled by thieves of its books and ornaments, to
the value of ten pounds, he contributed to their restoration."

Thomas was equally liberal in other matters. His whole time and wealth
were spent in rebuilding and repairing the monastery and adding to its
comforts and splendor. He had a great veneration for antiquity, and was
especially anxious to restore those parts which were dilapidated by time;
the old inscriptions on the monuments and altars he carefully
re-inscribed. It is recorded that he renewed the inscription on the great
altar himself, without the aid of a book, _sine libro_; which was deemed
a mark of profound learning in my lord abbot by his monkish

With this I conclude my remarks on Thomas of Marleberg, leaving these
extracts to speak for him. It is pleasing to find that virtue so great,
and industry so useful met with its just reward; and that the monks of
Evesham proved how much they appreciated such talents, by electing him
their abbot, in 1229, which, for seven years he held with becoming piety
and wisdom.

The annals of the monastery[309] testify that "In the year of our Lord
one thousand three hundred and ninety-two, and the fifteenth of the reign
of King Richard the Second, on the tenth calends of May, died the
venerable Prior Nicholas Hereford, of pious memory, who, as prior of the
church of Evesham, lived a devout and religious life for forty years." He
held that office under three succeeding abbots, and filled it with great
honor and industry. He was a dear lover of books, and spent vast sums in
collecting together his private library, amounting to more than 100
volumes; some of these he wrote with his own hand, but most of them he
bought _emit_. A list of these books is given in the Harleian Register,
and many of the volumes are described as containing a number of tracts,
bound up in one, _cum aliis tractatibus in eodem volumine_. Some of these
display the industry of his pen, and silently tell us of his Christian
piety. Among those remarkable for their bulk, it is pleasurable to
observe a copy of the Holy Scriptures, which was doubtless a comfort to
the venerable prior in the last days of his green old age; and which
probably guided him in the even tenor of that _devout and religious
life_, for which he was so esteemed by the monks of Evesham. He possessed
also some works of Bernard Augustin, and Boethius, whose Consolation of
Philosophy few book-collectors of the middle ages were without. To many
of the books the prices he gave for them, or at which they were then
valued, are affixed: a "_Summa Prædicantium_" is valued at eight marks,
and a "_Burley super Politices_" at seven marks. We may suspect monk
Nicholas of being rather a curious collector in his way, for we find in
his library some interesting volumes of popular literature. He probably
found much pleasure in perusing his copy of the marvelous tale of "Beufys
of Hampton," and the romantic "Mort d'Arthur," both sufficiently
interesting to relieve the monotonous vigils of the monastery. But I must
not dwell longer on the monastic bibliophiles of Evesham, other libraries
and bookworms call for some notice from my pen.


[245] "Rediens autem, ubi Viennam pervenit, eruptitios sibi quos
      apud amicos commendaverat, recepit." p. 26. _Vit. Abbat. Wear. 12mo.
      edit. Ware._

[246] The youngest son of Oswy, or Oswis, king of Northumbria, who
      succeeded his father in the year 670, Alfred his elder brother being
      for a time set aside on the grounds of his illegitimacy; yet Alfred
      was a far more enlightened and talented prince than Ecgfrid, and
      much praised in Saxon annals for his love of learning.

[247] "Magnâ quidem copiâ voluminum sacrorum; sed non minori sicut
      et prius sanctorum imaginum numere detatus." _Vit. Abb._ p. 38.

[248] "Bibliothecam, quam de Roma nobillissimam copiosessimanque
      advenaret ad instructionem ecclesiæ necessariam sollicite servari
      integram, nec per incuriam foedari aut passim dissipari præcepit."

[249] Bede says that he was "learned in Holy Scriptures." Dr. Henry
      mentions this anecdote in his _Hist. of England_, vol. ii. p. 287,
      8vo. ed. which has led many secondary compilers into a curious
      blunder, by mistaking the king here alluded to for Alfred the Great:
      even Didbin, in his Bibliomania, falls into the same error although
      he suspected some mistake; he calls him _our immortal Alfrid_, p.
      219, and seems puzzled to account for the anachronism, but does not
      take the trouble to enquire into the matter; Heylin's little Help to
      History would have set him right, and shown that while Alfrede king
      of Northumberland reigned in 680, Alfred king of England lived more
      than two centuries afterwards, pp. 25 and 29.

[250] The reader may perhaps smile at this, but it has long been my
      custom to carry some 8vo. edition of a monkish writer about me, when
      time or opportunity allowed me to spend a few hours among the ruins
      of the olden time. I recall with pleasure the recollection of many
      such rambles, and especially my last--a visit to Netley Abbey. What
      a sweet spot for contemplation; surrounded by all that is lovely in
      nature, it drives our old prejudices away, and touches the heart
      with piety and awe. Often have I explored its ruins and ascended its
      crumbling parapets, admiring the taste of those Cistercian monks in
      choosing so quiet, romantic, and choice a spot, and one so well
      suited to lead man's thoughts to sacred things above.

[251] Bede, _Vit. Abb. Wear._ p. 46.

[252] The fine libraries thus assiduously collected were destroyed
      by the Danes; that of Jarrow in the year 793, and that of Wearmouth
      in 867.

[253] Emer, Vita. ap. Mab. Act. SS. tom. iii. 199.

[254] Bede's Eccles. Hist. b. iii. c. xxv.

[255] "Idemque vir Dei quatuor Evangelica et Bibliothecam pluresque
      libros Novi et Veteris Testamenti cum tabulis tectis auro purissimo
      et pretiosis gemmis mirabili artificio fabricatis ad honorem Dei."
      Dugdale's Monast. vol. ii. p. 133.

[256] In 665 he was raised to the episcopacy of all Northumbria.

[257] He was deprived of his bishopric in the year 678, and the see
      was divided into those of York and Hexham. But for the particulars
      of his conduct see _Soame's Anglo. Sax. Church_, p. 63, with _Dr.
      Lingard's Ang. Sax. Church_, vol. i. p. 245; though without accusing
      either of misrepresentation, I would advise the reader to search (if
      he has the opportunity), the original authorities for himself, it is
      a delicate matter for a Roman or an English churchman to handle with

[258] His Saxon name was Winfrid, or Wynfrith, but he is generally
      called Boniface, Archbishop of Mentz.

[259] The mere act of baptizing constitutes "_conversion_" in
      Jesuitical phraseology; and thousands were so converted in a few
      days by the followers of Ignatius. A similar process was used in
      working out the miracles of the Saxon missionary. He was rather too
      conciliating and too anxious for a "converting miracle," to be over
      particular; but it was all for the good of the church papal, to whom
      he was a devoted servant; the church papal therefore could not see
      the fault.

[260] Ep. iii. p. 7, Ed. 4to.--_Moguntiæ_, 1629.

[261] Ep. iv. p. 8.

[262] Ep. xiii.

[263] Ep. vii. p. 11.

[264] Ep. xiv. See also Ep. xxviii. p. 40.

[265] Ep. viii. p. 12.

[266] Ep. lxxxv. p. 119.

[267] Ep. ix. p. 13.

[268] Ep. xxii. p. 36.

[269] Ep. xcix. p. 135.

[270] Ep. cxi. p. 153.

[271] The accusation is not a groundless one. Foxe, in his _Acts and
      Monuments_, warmly upbraids him; and Aikins in his _Biog. Dict._,
      has acted in a similar manner. But the best guides are his
      letters--they display his faults and his virtues too.

[272] This was in the year 731. _Goodwin_ says he "sate 36 years,
      and died an. 767." He says, "This man by his owne wisedome, and the
      authority of his brother, amended greatly the state of his church
      and see. He procured the archiepiscopall pall to be restored to his
      churche againe, and erected a famous library at York, which he
      stored plentifully with an infinite number of excellent bookes." p.

[273] De Pontificibus et Sanctis Ecclesiæ Eboracensis.

[274] Alcuini Oper., tom. i. vol. 1, p. 57, translated in Sharpe's
      William of Malmsbury, p. 73.

[275] Opera, tom. i. p. 305.

[276] In a letter to Gisla, sister to the emperor, he writes "Totius
      forsitan evangelii Johannis expositionem direxissem vobis, si me non
      occupasset Domini Regis præceptum in emendatione Veteri Novique
      Testamenti."--_Opera_, tom. i. vol. 7, p. 591.

[277] Alcuini, ap. Gale, tom. iii. p. 730.

[278] Alcuini, Oper. tom. i. p. 52. Ep. xxxviii. It was written
      about 796.

[279] He was also very careful in instructing the scribes to
      punctuate with accuracy, which he deemed of great importance. See
      Ep. lxxxv. p. 126.

[280] Necrolog. MS. Capituli, Metropolitani Salisburgensis, _apud_
      Froben, tom. i. p. lxxxi.

[281] Charlemagne founded several libraries;--see _Koeler, Dissert.
      de Biblio. Caroli Mog._ published in 1727. Eginhart mentions his
      private collection, and it is thus spoken of in the emperor's will;
      "Similiter et de libris, quorum magna in bibliotheca sua copiam
      congregavit: statuit ut ab iis qui eos habere uellet, justo pretio
      redimeretur, pretin in pauperes erogaretur." Echin. Vita Caroli, p.
      366, edit. 24mo. 1562. Yet we cannot but regret the dispersion of
      this imperial library.

[282] Formerly called _Streaneshalch_.

[283] At the age of 66, _Bede_, b. iv. cxxiii.

[284] Bede, b. iv. c. xxiv.

[285] John de Trevisa says, "Cædmon of Whitaby was inspired of the
      Holy Gost, and made wonder poisyes an Englisch, meiz of al the
      Storyes of Holy Writ." _MS. Harleian_, 1900, fol. 43, a.

[286] Ibid.

[287] Cottonian Collection marked _Claudius_, B. iv. There is
      another MS. in the Bodleian (_Junius_ XI.) It was printed by Junius
      in 1655, in 4to. Sturt has engraved some of the illuminations in his
      _Saxon Antiquities_, and they were also copied and published by J.
      Greene, F. A. S., in 1754, in fifteen plates.

[288] It is unfortunately imperfect at the end, and wants folio 32.

[289] Take the following as an instance of the similarity of thought
      between the two poets. Sharon Turner thus renders a portion of
      Satan's speech from the Saxon of Cædmon:

         "Yet why should I sue for his grace?
          Or bend to him with any obedience?
          I may be a God as he is.
          Stand by me strong companions."
                     _Hist. Anglo Sax._ vol. ii. p. 314.

      The idea is with Milton:

         . . . . . . . . To bow to one for grace
         With suppliant knee, and deify his power,
         Who from the terror of this arm so late
         Doubted his empire; that were low indeed!
         That were an ignominy, and shame beneath
         This downfall!
                       _Paradise Lost_, b. i.

[290] He will find it in Charlton's History of Whitby, 4to. 1779, p.

[291] Marked MS. N. B. 17.

[292] Wright and Halliwell's Rel. Antiq. vol. ii. p. 180.

[293] It is printed in Hearne's History of Glastonbury, from a MS.
      in the Bodleian Library, Ed. _Oxon_, 1722, _Appendix_ x. p. 291.

[294] Bibliothecam optimam cum duobus armillis ex auro purissimo
      fabricatis.--_Heming. Chart_, p. 95.

[295] Thomas's Survey, of Worcester Church, 4to. 1736, p. 46. The
      Scriptorium of the monastery was situated in the cloisters, and a
      Bible in Bennet College, Cambridge, was written therein by a scribe
      named Senatus, as we learn from a note printed in Nasmith's
      Catalogue, which proves it to have been written during the reign of
      Henry II. It is a folio MS. on vellum, and a fine specimen of the
      talent of the expert scribe.--See _Nasmith's Catalogus Libr. MSS._,
      4to. _Camb._ 1777, p. 31.

[296] Since writing the above, which I gave on the authority of
      Green (_Hist. of Worc._ vol. i. p. 79), backed with the older one of
      Thomas (_Survey Ch. Worc._ p. 70), I have had the opportunity of
      consulting the reference given by them (_Heming, Chart._ p. 262),
      and was somewhat surprised to find the words "_Et bibliothecam, in
      duobus partibus divisam_," the foundation of this pleasing anecdote.
      "_Bibliothecam_," however, was the Latin for a Bible in the middle
      ages: so that in fact the Lady Godiva gave them a Bible divided into
      two parts, or volumes.

[297] Chalmer's Hist. of the Colleges of Oxford, p. 458. Wood's
      Hist. Antiq. of Oxon, lib. ii. p. 48.

[298] Green's Hist. Worc. p. 79.

[299] Sir W. Dugdale's View of the Troubles in England, _Folio_, p.
      557. We can easily credit the destruction of the organ and painted
      windows, so obnoxious to Puritan piety; but with regard to the
      _Bibles_, we may suspect the accuracy of the Royalist writer, col.

[300] Symeon Dunelm. Tweyed. Script. x.

[301] Habingdon, MSS. Godwin de Præf, p. 231.

[302] Tindal's Hist. of Evesham, p. 248.

[303] _Ibid._ p. 250.

[304] MS. Harl., No. 3763, p. 180.

[305] MS. Cot. Vesp. b. xxiv. It is printed in Latin in _Nash's
      Worcestershire_, vol. i. p. 419, and translated in _Tindal's Hist.
      of Worcs._ p. 24, all of which I have used with _Dugdale's Monast._
      vol. ii. p. 5.

[306] _MS. Cottonian Augustus II._ No. 11. "Ex his debet invenire
      præcentor incaustum omnibus scriptoribus monasterii; et Pergamenum
      ad brevia, et colores ad illuminandum, et necessaria ad legandum
      libros." See _Dugdale's Monast._ vol. ii. p. 24.

[307] After the elapse of so many years, the research of the
      antiquarian has brought this desk to light; an account of it will be
      found in the Archeologia, vol. xvii. p. 278.

[308] "Emit etiam quator evangelia glosata, et Yaiam et Ezechielem

[309] Harleian MSS., No. 3763.


     _Old Glastonbury Abbey.--Its Library.--John of Taunton.--Richard
     Whiting.--Malmsbury.--Bookish Monks of Gloucester Abbey.--Leofric
     of Exeter and his private library.--Peter of Blois. Extracts from
     his letters.--Proved to have been a great classical student,
     etc., etc._

The fame of Glastonbury Abbey will attract the steps of the western
traveller; and if he possess the spirit of an antiquary, his eye will
long dwell on those mutilated fragments of monkish architecture. The
bibliophile will regard it with still greater love; for, in its day, it
was one of the most eminent repositories of those treasures which it is
his province to collect. For more than ten hundred years that old fabric
has stood there, exciting in days of remote antiquity the veneration of
our pious forefathers, and in modern times the admiration of the curious.
Pilgrim! tread lightly on that hallowed ground! sacred to the memory of
the most learned and illustrious of our Saxon ancestry. The bones of
princes and studious monks closely mingle with the ruins which time has
caused, and bigotry helped to desecrate. Monkish tradition claims, as the
founder of Glastonbury Abbey, St. Joseph of Arimathea, who, sixty-three
years after the incarnation of our Lord, came to spread the truths of the
Gospel over the island of Britain. Let this be how it may, we leave it
for more certain data.

After, says a learned antiquary, its having been built by St. Davis,
Archbishop of Menevia, and then again restored by "twelve well affected
men in the north;" it was entirely pulled down by Ina, king of the West
Saxons, who "new builded the abbey of Glastonburie[310] in a fenny place
out of the way, to the end the monks mought so much the more give their
mindes to heavenly thinges, and chiefely use the contemplation meete for
men of such profession. This was the fourth building of that
monasterie."[311] The king completed his good work by erecting a
beautiful chapel, garnished with numerous ornaments and utensils of gold
and silver; and among other costly treasures, William of Malmsbury tells
us that twenty pounds and sixty marks of gold was used in making a
coopertoria for a book of the Gospels.[312]

Would that I had it in my power to write the literary history of
Glastonbury Abbey; to know what the monks of old there transcribed would
be to acquire the history of learning in those times; for there was
little worth reading in the literature of the day that was not copied by
those industrious scribes. But if our materials will not enable us to do
this, we may catch a glimpse of their well stored shelves through the
kindness and care of William Britone the Librarian, who compiled a work
of the highest interest to the biographer. It is no less than a catalogue
of the books contained in the common library of the abbey in the year one
thousand two hundred and forty-eight. Four hundred choice volumes
comprise this fine collection;[313] and will not the reader be surprised
to find among them a selection of the classics, with the chronicles,
poetry, and romantic productions of the middle ages, besides an abundant
store of the theological writings of the primitive Church. But I have not
transcribed a large proportion of this list, as the extracts given from
other monastic catalogues may serve to convey an idea of their nature;
but I cannot allow one circumstance connected with this old document to
pass without remark. I would draw the reader's attention to the fine
bibles which commence the list, and which prove that the monks of
Glastonbury Abbey were fond and devoted students of the Bible. It begins

    Bibliotheca una in duobus voluminibus.
    Alia Bibliotheca integra vetusta, set legibilis.
    Bibliotheca integræ minoris litteræ.
    Dimidia pars Bibliothecæ incipiens à Psalterio, vetusta.
    Bibliotheca magna versificata.
    Alia versificata in duobus voluminibus.
    Bibliotheca tres versificata.[314]

But besides these, the library contained numerous detached books and many
copies of the Gospels, an ample collection of the fathers, and the
controversal writings of the middle ages; and among many others, the
following classics--

    Virgil's Æneid.
    Virgil's Georgics.
    Virgil's Bucolics.
    Isagoge of Porphyry.

I must not omit to mention that John de Taunton, a monk and an
enthusiastic _amator librorum_, and who was elected abbot in the year
1271, collected forty choice volumes, and gave them to the library,
_dedit librario_, of the abbey; no mean gift, I ween, in the thirteenth
century. They included--

    Questions on the Old and New Law.
    St. Augustine upon Genesis.
    Ecclesiastical Dogmas.
    St. Bernard's Enchiridion.
    St. Bernard's Flowers.
    Books of Wisdom, with a Gloss.
    Postil's upon Jeremiah and the lesser Prophets.
    Concordances to the Bible.

    Postil's of Albertus upon Matthew, and the Lamentations of Jeremiah
            and others, in one volume.
    Postil's upon Mark.
    Postil's upon John, with a Discourse on the Epistles
            throughout the year.
    Brother Thomas Old and New Gloss.
    Morabilius on the Gospels and Epistles.
    St. Augustine on the Trinity.
    Epistles of Paul glossed.
    St. Augustine's City of God.
    Kylwardesby upon the Letter of the Sentences.
    Questions concerning Crimes.
    Perfection of the Spiritual Life.
    Brother Thomas' Sum of Divinity, in four volumes.
    Decrees and Decretals.
    A Book of Perspective.
    Distinctions of Maurice.
    Books of Natural History, in two volumes.
    Book on the Properties of Things.[315]

Subsequent to this, in the time of one book-loving abbot, an addition of
forty-nine volumes was made to the collection by his munificence and the
diligence of his scribes; and time has allowed the modern bibliophile to
gaze on a catalogue of these treasures. I wish the monkish annalist had
recorded the life of this early bibliomaniac, but unfortunately we know
little of him. But they were no mean nor paltry volumes that he
transcribed. It is with pleasure I see the catalogue commenced by a copy
of the Holy Scriptures; and the many commentaries upon them by the
fathers of the church enumerated after it, prove my Lord Abbot to have
been a diligent student of the Bible. Nor did he seek God alone in his
written word; but wisely understood that his Creator spoke to him also
by visible works; and probably loved to observe the great wisdom and
design of his God in the animated world; for a Pliny's Natural History
stands conspicuous on the list, as the reader will perceive.

    Pliny's Natural History.
    Cassiodorus upon the Psalms.
    Three great Missals.
    Two Reading Books.
    A Breviary for the Infirmary.
    Jerome upon Jeremiah and Isaiah.
    Origen upon the Old Testament.
    Origen's Homilies.
    Origen upon the Epistle of St. Paul to the Romans.
    Jerome upon the Epistles to the Galatians, to Ephesians, to
            Titus, and to Philemon.
    Lives of the Fathers.
    Collations of the Fathers.
    Breviary for the Hospital.
    An Antiphon.
    Pars una Moralium.
    Cyprian's Works.
    Liber dictus Paradisus.
    Jerome against Jovinian.
    Ambrose against Novatian.
    Seven Volumes of the Passions of the Saints for the circle
            of the whole year.
    Lives of the Cæsars.
    Acts of the Britons.
    Acts of the English.
    Acts of the Franks.
    Radbert on the Body and Blood of the Lord.
    Book of the Abbot of Clarevalle _de Amando Deo_.
    Hugo de S. Victore de duodecim gradibus Humilitatis et de Oratione.
    Physiomania Lapedarum et Liber Petri Alsinii in uno volumine.
    Rhetoric, two volumes.
    Quintilian _de Causes_, in one volume.
    Augustine upon the Lord's Prayer and upon the Psalm
            _Miserero mei Deus_.
    A Benedictional.
    Decreta Cainotensis Episcopi.
    Jerome upon the Twelve Prophets, and upon the Lamentations of Jeremiah.
    Augustine upon the Trinity.
    Augustine upon Genesis.
    Isidore's Etymology.
    Augustine on the Words of our Lord.
    Hugo on the Sacraments.
    Cassinus on the Incarnation of our Lord.
    Anselm's _Cui Deus Homo_.[316]

The reader, I think, will allow that the catalogue enumerates but little
unsuitable for a christian's study; he may not admire the principles
contained in some of them, or the superstition with which many of them
are loaded; but after all there were but few volumes among them from
which a Bible reading monk might not have gleaned something good and
profitable. These books were transcribed about the end of the thirteenth
century, after the catalogue of the monastic library mentioned above was

Walter Taunton, elected in the year 1322, gave to the library several
volumes; and his successor, Adam Sodbury,[317] elected in the same year,
increased it with a copy of the whole Bible,[318] a Scholastic history,
Lives of Saints, a work on the Properties of Things, two costly Psalters,
and a most beautifully bound Benedictional.

But doubtless many a bookworm nameless in the page of history, dwelled
within those walls apart from worldly solicitude and strife; relieving
what would otherwise have been an insupportable monotony, with sweet
converse, with books, or the avocations of a scribe.

Well, years rolled on, and this fair sanctuary remained in all its
beauty, encouraging the trembling christian, and fostering with a
mother's care the literature and learning of the time. Thus it stood till
that period, so dark and unpropitious for monkish ascendency, when
Protestant fury ran wild, and destruction thundered upon the heads of
those poor old monks! A sad and cruel revenge for enlightened minds to
wreck on mistaken piety and superstitious zeal. How widely was the fine
library scattered then. Even a few years after its dissolution, when
Leland spent some days exploring the book treasures reposing there, it
had been broken up, and many of them lost; yet still it must have been a
noble library, for he tells us that it was "scarcely equalled in all
Britain;" and adds, in the spirit of a true bibliomaniac, that he no
sooner passed the threshold than the very sight of so many sacred remains
of antiquity struck him with awe and astonishment. The reader will
naturally wish that he had given us a list of what he found there; but he
merely enumerates a selection of thirty-nine, among which we find a
Grammatica Eriticis, formerly belonging to Saint Dunstan; a life of Saint
Wilfrid; a Saxon version of Orosius, and the writings of William of
Malmsbury.[319] The antiquary will now search in vain for any vestige of
the abbey library; even the spot on which it stood is unknown to the

No christian, let his creed be what it may, who has learnt from his
master the principles of charity and love, will refuse a tear to the
memory of Richard Whiting, the last of Glastonbury's abbots. Poor old
man! Surely those white locks and tottering limbs ought to have melted a
Christian heart; but what charity or love dwelt within the soul of that
rapacious monarch? Too old to relinquish his long cherished
superstitions; too firm to renounce his religious principles, Whiting
offered a firm opposition to the reformation. The fury of the tyrant
Henry was aroused, and that grey headed monk was condemned to a barbarous
death. As a protestant I blush to write it, yet so it was; after a hasty
trial, if trial it can be called, he was dragged on a hurdle to a common
gallows erected on Torr Hill, and there, in the face of a brutal mob,
with two of his companion monks, was he hung! Protestant zeal stopped not
here, for when life had fled they cut his body down, and dividing it into
quarters, sent one to each of the four principal towns; and as a last
indignity to that mutilated clay, stuck his head on the gate of the old
abbey, over which he had presided with judicious care in the last days
of his troubled life. It was Whiting's wish to bid adieu in person to his
monastery, in which in more prosperous times he had spent many a quiet
hour; it is said that even this, the dying prayer of that poor old man,
they refused to grant.[320]

On viewing the ruins of Glastonbury Abbey, so mournful to look upon, yet
so splendid in its decay, we cannot help exclaiming with Michael

     "On whom for this sad waste, should justice lay the crime."

Whilst in the west we cannot pass unnoticed the monastery of Malmsbury,
one of the largest in England, and which possessed at one time an
extensive and valuable library; but it was sadly ransacked at the
Reformation, and its vellum treasures sold to the bakers to heat their
stoves, or applied to the vilest use; not even a catalogue was preserved
to tell the curious of a more enlightened age, what books the old monks
read there; but perhaps, and the blood runs cold as the thought arises in
the mind, a perfect Livy was among them, for a rare _amator librorum_
belonging to this monastery, quotes one of the lost Decades.[321] I
allude to William of Malmsbury, one of the most enthusiastic
bibliomaniacs of his age. From his youth he dwelt within the abbey walls,
and received his education there. His constant study and indefatigable
industry in collecting and perusing books, was only equalled by his
prudence and by his talents; he soon rose in the estimation of his fellow
monks, who appointed him their librarian, and ultimately offered him the
abbacy, which he refused with Christian humility, fearing too, lest its
contingent duties would debar him from a full enjoyment of his favorite
avocation; but of his book passion let William of Malmsbury speak for
himself: "A long period has elapsed since, as well through the care of my
parents as my own industry, I became familiar with books. This pleasure
possessed me from my childhood; this source of delight has grown with my
years; indeed, I was so instructed by my father, that had I turned aside
to other pursuits, I should have considered it as jeopardy to my soul,
and discredit to my character. Wherefore, mindful of the adage, 'covet
what is necessary,' I constrained my early age to desire eagerly that
which it was disgraceful not to possess. I gave indeed my attention to
various branches of literature, but in different degrees. Logic, for
instance, which gives arms to eloquence, I contented myself with barely
learning: medicine, which ministers to the health of the body, I studied
with somewhat more attention. But now, having scrupulously examined the
various branches of ethics, I bow down to its majesty, because it
spontaneously inverts itself to those who study it, and directs their
minds to moral practice, history more especially; which by a certain
agreeable recapitulation of past events, excites its readers by example,
to frame their lives to the pursuit of good or to aversion from evil.
When, therefore, at my own expense I had procured some historians of
foreign nations, I proceeded during my domestic leisure, to inquire if
anything concerning our own country could be found worthy of handing down
to posterity. Hence it arose, that not content with the writings of
ancient times, I began myself to compose, not indeed to display my
learning, which is comparatively nothing, but to bring to light events
lying concealed in the confused mass of antiquity. In consequence,
rejecting vague opinions, I have studiously sought for chronicles far and
near, though I confess I have scarcely profited anything by this
industry; for perusing them all I still remained poor in information,
though I ceased not my researches as long as I could find anything to

Having read this passage, I think my readers will admit that William of
Malmsbury well deserves a place among the bibliomaniacs of the middle
ages. As an historian his merit is too generally known and acknowledged
to require an elucidation here. He combines in most cases a strict
attention to fact, with the rare attributes of philosophic reflection,
and sometimes the bloom of eloquence. But simplicity of narrative
constitute the greatest and sometimes the only charm in the composition
of the monkish chroniclers. William of Malmsbury aimed at a more
ambitious style, and attempted to adorn, as he admits himself, his
English history with Roman art; this he does sometimes with tolerable
elegance, but too often at the cost of necessary detail. Yet still we
must place him at the head of the middle age historians, for he was
diligent and critical, though perhaps not always impartial; and in
matters connected with Romish doctrine, his testimony is not always to be
relied upon without additional authority; his account of those who held
opinions somewhat adverse to the orthodoxy of Rome is often equivocal; we
may even suspect him of interpolating their writings, at least of Alfric,
whose homilies had excited the fears of the Norman ecclesiastics. His
works were compiled from many sources now unknown; and from the works of
Bede, the Saxon chronicles, and Florilegus, he occasionally transcribes
with little alteration.

But is it not distressing to find that this talented author, so superior
in other respects to the crude compilers of monkish history, cannot rise
above the superstition of the age? Is it not deplorable that a mind so
gifted could rely with fanatical zeal upon the verity of all those foul
lies of Rome called "Holy" miracles; or that he could conceive how God
would vouchsafe to make his saints ridiculous in the eyes of man, by such
gross absurdities as tradition records, but which Rome deemed worthy of
canonization; but it was then, as now, so difficult to conquer the
prejudices of early teaching. With all our philosophy and our science,
great men cannot do it now; even so in the days of old; they were brought
up in the midst of superstition; sucked it as it were from their mother's
breast, and fondly cradled in its belief; and as soon as the infant mind
could think, parental piety dedicated it to God; not, however, as a light
to shine before men, but as a candle under a bushel; for to serve God and
to serve monachism were synonymous expressions in those days.

The west of England was honored by many a monkish bibliophile in the
middle ages. The annals of Gloucester abbey record the names of several.
Prior Peter, who became abbot in the year 1104, is said to have enclosed
the monastery with a stone wall, and greatly enriched it with many books
"_copia librorum_."[323] A few years after (A. D. 1113), Godeman the
Prior was made abbot, and the Saxon Chronicle records that during his
time the tower was set on fire by lightning and the whole monastery was
burnt; so that all the valuable things therein were destroyed except a
"few books and three priest's mass-hackles."[324] Abbot Gamage gave many
books to the library in the year 1306;[325] and Richard de Stowe, during
the same century, gave the monks a small collection in nine or ten
volumes; a list of them is preserved in an old manuscript.[326]

But earlier than this in the eleventh century, a bishop of Exeter stands
remarkable as an _amator librorum_. Leofric, the last bishop of Crediton,
and "sometime lord chancellor of England,"[327] received permission from
Edward the Confessor to translate the seat of his diocese to the city of
Exeter in the year 1050. "He was brought up and studied in
_Lotharingos_," says William of Malmsbury,[328] and he manifested his
learning and fondness for study by collecting books. Of the nature of his
collections we are enabled to judge by the volumes he gave to the church
of Exeter. The glimpse thus obtained lead us to consider him a curious
book-collector; and it is so interesting to look upon a catalogue of a
bishop's private library in that early time, and to behold his tastes and
his pursuits reflected and mirrored forth therein, that I am sure the
reader will be gratified by its perusal.[329] After enumerating some
broad lands and a glittering array of sumptuous ornaments, he is recorded
to have given to the church "Two complete mass books; 1 Collectarium; 2
Books of Epistles (_Pistel Bec_[330]); 2 complete _Sang Bec_; 1 Book of
_night sang_; 1 Book _unus liber_, a Breviary or Tropery; 2 Psalters; 3
Psalters according to the Roman copies; 2 Antiphoners; A precious book of
blessings; 3 others; 1 Book of Christ _in English_; 2 Summer Reading bec;
1 Winter ditto; Rules and Canons; 1 Martyrology; 1 Canons in Latin; 1
Confessional _in English_; 1 Book of Homilies and Hymns for Winter and
Summer; 1 Boethius on the Consolation of Philosophy, _in English_ (King
Alfred's translation); 1 Great Book of Poetry in English; 1 Capitular; 1
Book of very ancient nocturnal _sangs_; 1 Pistel bec; 2 Ancient ræding
bec; 1 for the use of the priest; also the following books in Latin,
viz., 1 Pastoral of Gregory; 1 Dialogues of Gregory; 1 Book of the Four
Prophets; 1 Boethius Consolation of Philosophy; 1 Book of the offices of
Amalar; 1 Isagoge of Porphyry; 1 Passional; 1 book of Prosper; 1 book of
Prudentius the Martyr; 1 Prudentius; 1 Prudentius (_de Mrib._); 1 other
book; 1 Ezechael the Prophet; 1 Isaiah the Prophet; 1 Song of Songs; 1
Isidore Etymology; 1 Isidore on the New and Old Testament; 1 Lives of the
Apostles; 1 Works of Bede; 1 Bede on the Apocalypse; 1 Bede's Exposition
on the Seven Canonical Epistles; 1 book of Isidore on the Miracles of
Christ; 1 book of Orosius; 1 book of Machabees; 1 book of Persius; 1
Sedulus; 1 Avator; 1 book of Statius with a gloss."

Such were the books forming a part of the private library of a bishop of
Exeter in the year of grace 1073. Few indeed when compared with the vast
multitudes assembled and amassed together in the ages of printed
literature. But these sixty or seventy volumes, collected in those times
of dearth, and each produced by the tedious process of the pen, were of
an excessive value, and mark their owner as distinctly an _amator
librorum_, as the enormous piles heaped together in modern times would do
a Magliabechi. Nor was Leofric an ordinary collector; he loved to
preserve the idiomatic poetry of those old Saxon days; his ancient _sang
bec_, or song books, would now be deemed a curious and precious relic of
Saxon literature. One of these has fortunately escaped the ravages of
time and the fate of war. "The great boc of English Poetry" is still
preserved at Exeter--one of the finest relics of Anglo Saxon poetry
extant. Mark too those early translations which we cannot but regard with
infinite pleasure, and which satisfactorily prove that the Gospels and
Church Service was at least partly read and sung in the Saxon church in
the common language of the people; let the Roman Catholics say what they
will.[331] But without saying much of his church books, we cannot but be
pleased to find the Christian Boethius in his library with Bede, Gregory,
Isidore, Prosper, Orosius, Prudentius, Sedulus, Persius and Statius;
these are authors which retrieve the studies of Leofric from the charge
of mere monastic lore.

But good books about this time were beginning to be sought after with
avidity. The Cluniac monks, who were introduced into England about the
year 1077, more than one hundred and sixty years after their foundation,
gave a powerful impetus to monastic learning; which received additional
force by the enlightened efforts of the Cistercians, instituted in 1098,
and spread into Britain about the year 1128. These two great branches of
the Benedictine order, by their great love of learning, and by their zeal
in collecting books, effected a great change in the monkish literature of
England. "They were not only curious and attentive in forming numerous
libraries, but with indefatigable assiduity transcribed the volumes of
the ancients, _l'assiduité infatigable à transcrire les livres des
anciens_, say the Benedictines of St. Maur,"[332] who perhaps however may
be suspected of regarding their ancient brethren in rather too favorable
a light. But certain it is, that the state of literature became much
improved, and the many celebrated scholars who flourished in the twelfth
century spread a taste for reading far and wide, and by their example
caused the monks to look more eagerly after books. Peter of Blois,
Archdeacon of London, is one of the most pleasing instances of this
period, and his writings have even now a freshness and vivacity about
them which surprise as they interest the reader. This illustrious
student, and truly worthy man, was born at Blois in the early part of the
twelfth century. His parents, who were wealthy and noble, were desirous
of bestowing upon their son an education befitting their own rank; for
this purpose he was sent to Paris to receive instruction in the general
branches of scholastic knowledge. He paid particular attention to poetry,
and studied rhetoric with still greater ardor.[333] But being designed
for the bar, he left Paris for Bologna, there to study civil law; and
succeeded in mastering all the dry technicalities of legal science. He
then returned to Paris to study scholastic divinity,[334] in which he
became eminently proficient, and was ever excessively fond. He remained
at Paris studying deeply himself, and instructing others for many years.
About the year 1167 he went with Stephen, Count de Perche, into Sicily,
and was appointed tutor to the young King William II., made keeper of his
private seal, and for two years conducted his education.[335] Soon after
leaving Sicily, he was invited by Henry II. into England,[336] and made
Archdeacon of Bath. It was during the time he held that office that he
wrote most of these letters, from which we obtain a knowledge of the
above facts, and which he collected together at the particular desire of
King Henry; who ever regarded him with the utmost kindness, and bestowed
upon him his lasting friendship. I know not a more interesting or a more
historically valuable volume than these epistolary collections of
Archdeacon Peter. They seem to bring those old times before us, to seat
us by the fire-sides of our Norman forefathers, and in a pleasant, quiet
manner enter into a gossip on the passing events of the day; and being
written by a student and an _amator librorum_, they moreover unfold to us
the state of learning among the ecclesiastics at least of the twelfth
century; and if we were to take our worthy archdeacon as a specimen, they
possessed a far better taste for these matters than we usually give them
credit for. Peter of Blois was no ordinary man; a churchman, he was free
from the prejudices of churchmen--a visitant of courts and the associate
of royalty, he was yet free from the sycophancy of a courtier--and when
he saw pride and ungodliness in the church, or in high places, he feared
not to use his pen in stern reproof at these abominations. It is both
curious and extraordinary, when we bear in mind the prejudices of the
age, to find him writing to a bishop upon the looseness of his conduct,
and reproving him for his inattention to the affairs of his diocese, and
upbraiding another for displaying an unseemly fondness for hunting,[337]
and other sports of the field; which he says is so disreputable to one of
his holy calling, and quotes an instance of Pope Nicholas suspending and
excluding from the church Bishop Lanfred for a similar offence; which he
considers even more disgraceful in Walter, Lord Bishop of Winchester, to
whom he is writing, on account of his advanced age; he being at that time
eighty years old. We are constantly reminded in reading his letters that
we have those of an indefatigable student before us; almost every page
bears some allusion to his books or to his studies, and prove how well
and deeply read he was in Latin literature; not merely the theological
writings of the church, but the classics also. In one of his letters he
speaks of his own studies, and tells us that when he learnt the art of
versification and correct style, he did not spend his time on legends and
fables, but took his models from Livy, Quintus Curtius, Trogus Pompeius,
Josephus, Tacitus, Suetonius, and other classics; in the same letter he
gives some directions to the Archdeacon of Nantes, who had undertaken the
education of his nephews, as to the manner of their study. He had
received from the archdeacon a flattering account of the progress made by
one of them named William, to which he thus replies--"You speak," says
he, "of William--his great penetration and ingenious disposition, who,
without grammar or the authors of science, which are both so desirable,
has mastered the subtilties of logic, so as to be esteemed a famous
logician, as I learn by your letter. But this is not the foundation of a
correct knowledge--these subtilties which you so highly extol, are
manifoldly pernicious, as Seneca truly affirms,--_Odibilius nihil est
subtilitate ubi est soloe subtilitas_. What indeed is the use of these
things in which you say he spends his days--either at home, in the army,
at the bar, in the cloister, in the church, in the court, or indeed in
any position whatever, except, I suppose, the schools?" Seneca says, in
writing to Lucalius, "_Quid est, inquit acutius arista et in quo est
utiles!_"[338] In many letters we find him quoting the classics with the
greatest ease, and the most appropriate application to his subject; in
one he refers to Ovid, Persius, and Seneca,[339] and in others, when
writing in a most interesting and amusing manner of poetic fame and
literary study, he extracts from Terence, Ovid, Juvenal, Horace, Plato,
Cicero, Valerius Maximus, Seneca, etc.[340] In another, besides a
constant use of Scripture, which proves how deeply read too he was in
Holy Writ, he quotes with amazing prodigality from Juvenal, Frontius,
Vigetius, Dio, Virgil, Ovid, Justin, Horace, and Plutarch.[341] Indeed,
Horace was a great favorite with the archdeacon, who often applied some
of his finest sentences to illustrate his familiar chat and epistolary
disquisitions.[342] It is worth noticing that in one he quotes the Roman
history of Sallust, in six books, which is now lost, save a few
fragments; the passage relates to Pompey the Great.[343] We can scarcely
refrain from a smile at the eagerness of Archdeacon Peter in persuading
his friends to relinquish the too enticing study of frivolous plays,
which he says can be of no service to the interest of the soul;[344] and
then, forgetting this admonition, sending for tragedies and comedies
himself, that he might get them transcribed.[345] This puts one in mind
of a certain modern divine, whose conduct not agreeing with his doctrine,
told his hearers not to do as he did, but as he told them. It appears
also equally ludicrous to find him upbraiding a monk, named Peter of
Blois, for studying the pagan authors: "the foolish old fables of
Hercules and Jove," their lies and philosophy;[346] when, as we have
seen, he read them so ravenously, and so greatly borrowed from them
himself. But then we must bear in mind that the archdeacon had also well
stored his mind with Scripture, and certainly always deemed _that_ the
first and most important of all his studies, which was perhaps not the
case with the monk to whom he writes. In some of his letters we have
pleasing pictures of the old times presented to us, and it is astonishing
how homely and natural they read, after the elapse of 700 years. In more
than one he launches out in strong invectives against the lawyers, who in
all ages seems to have borne the indignation of mankind; Peter accuses
them of selling their knowledge for hire, to the direct perversion of all
justice; of favoring the rich and oppressing the poor.[347] He reproves
Reginald, Archdeacon of Salisbury, for occupying his time with falconry,
instead of attending to his clerical duties; and in another, a most
interesting letter, he gives a description of King Henry II., whose
character he extols in panegyric terms, and proves how much superior he
was in learning to William II. of Sicily. He says that "Henry, as often
as he could breathe from his care and solicitudes, he was occupied in
secret reading; or at other times joined by a body of clergy, would try
to solve some elaborate question _quæstiones laborat evolvere_."[348]
Frequently we find him writing about books, begging transcripts, eagerly
purchasing them; and in one of his letters to Alexander, Abbot of
Jenniege, _Gemiticensem_, he writes, apologizing, and begging his
forgiveness for not having fulfilled his promise in returning a book
which he had borrowed from his library, and begs that his friend will yet
allow him to retain it some days longer.[349] The last days of a
scholar's life are not always remarkable, and we know nothing of those of
Archdeacon Peter; for after the death of Henry II., his intellectual
worth found no royal mind to appreciate it. The lion-hearted Richard
thought more of the battle axe and crusading than the encouragement of
literature or science; and Peter, like many other students, grown old in
their studies, was left in his age to wander among his books, unmolested
and uncared for. With the friendship of a few clerical associates, and
the archdeaconry of London, which by the bye was totally
unproductive,[350] he died, and for many ages was forgotten. But a
student's worth can never perish; a time is certain to arrive when his
erudition will receive its due reward of human praise. We now, after a
slumber of many hundred years, begin to appreciate his value, and to
entertain a hearty friendship and esteem for the venerable Archdeacon


[310] See Speed's Chron. p. 228. Samme's Antiq. p. 578.

[311] Stowe's Annales, 4to. 1605, p. 97. See also Hearne's Hist.

[312] _Will. Malm. ap. Gale Script._ 311.--Coopertoria Librorum
      Evangelii. For many other instances of binding books in gold, and
      sometimes with costly gems, I refer the reader to _Du Cange_
      verb-Capsæ, and to _Mr. Maitland's Dark Ages_.

[313] Warton says, that this library was at the time the "_richest
      in England_." In this, however, he was mistaken.

[314] John of Glast. p. 423.

[315] John of Glastonbury Edt., Hearne, Oxon, 1726, p. 451. Steven's
      Additions to Dugdale, vol. i. p. 447.

[316] Printed in _Tanner's Notitia Monastica_, 8vo. Edit. 1695, p.
      75, and in _Hearne's History of Glastonbury_, p. 141; but both these
      works are scarce, and I have thought it worth reprinting; the reader
      will perceive that I have given some of the items in English--the
      original of course is in Latin.

[317] John of Glas. p. 262.

[318] Librario dedit. bibliam preciosam.--_John of Glast._ p. 262.

[319] Among them was a "Dictionarum Latine et Saxonicum."--_Leland
      Collect._ iii. p. 153.

[320] Leland, in his MSS. preserved in the Bodleian Library, calls
      Whiting "_Homo sane candidissimus et amicus meus singularis_," but
      he afterwards scored the line with his pen. See _Arch Bodl._ A.
      Dugdale Monast. vol. i. p. 6.

[321] See Hume's Hist. Engl.; Moffat's Hist. of Malmsbury, p. 223,
      and Will. Malms. Novellæ Hist. lib. ii.; Sharpe's translation, p.

[322] William of Malmsbury, translated by the Rev. J. Sharpe, 4to.
      _Lond._ 1815, p. 107.

[323] MS. _Cottonian Domit._ A. viii. fol. 128 b.

[324] Saxon Chron. by Ingram, p. 343.

[325] Dugdale's _Monastica_, vol. i. p. 534. Leland gives a list of
      the books he found there, but they only number about 20 volumes. See
      _Collect._ vol. iv. p. 159.

[326] MS. Harleian, No. 627, fol. 8 a. "Liber Geneseos versificatus"
      probably Cædmon's Paraphrase was among them, and Boethius's
      Consolation of Philosophy.

[327] Godwin Cat. of Bishops, p. 317.

[328] Will. of Malms. de Gestis Pont. Savile Script. fol. 1601, p.
      256, _apud Lotharingos altus et doctus_.

[329] I use a transcript of the Exeter MS. collated by Sir F.
      Madden. _Additional MSS._ No. 9067. It is printed in Latin and Saxon
      from a old MS. In the Bodl. Auct. D. 2. 16. fol. 1 a; in Dugdale's
      Monasticon, vol. ii. p. 257, which varies a little from the Exeter

[330] Bec is the plural of boc, a book.

[331] See _Dr. Lingard's Hist. Anglo Sax. Church_, vol. i. p. 307,
      who cannot deny this entirely; see also _Lappenberg Hist. Eng._ vol.
      i. p. 202, who says that the mass was read partially in the Saxon
      tongue. _Hallam_ in his _Supplemental Notes_, p. 408, has a good
      note on the subject.

[332] Hist. Litt. de la France, ix. p. 142.

[333] Pet. Blesensis Opera, 4to. Mogunt. 1600. Ep. lxxxix.

[334] Ep. xxvi.

[335] Ep. lxvi.

[336] Ep. cxxvii.

[337] Ep. lvi. Yet we find that Charlemagne, in the year 795,
      granted the monks of the monastery of St. Bertin, in the time of
      Abbot Odlando, the privilege of hunting in his forests for the
      purpose of procuring leather to bind their books. "Odlando Abbate
      hujus loci abbas nonus, in omni bonitate suo prædecessori Hardrado
      coæqualis anno primo sui regiminis impetravit à rege Carolo
      privilegium venandi in silvis nostris et aliis ubicumque
      constitutis, ad volumina librorum tegænda, et manicas et zonas
      habendas. Salvis forestis regiis, quod sic incipit. Carolus Dei
      gratia Rex Francorum et Longobardorum ac patricius Romanorum, etc.,
      data Septimo Kal. Aprilis, anno xxvi. regni nostri." Martene
      Thasaurus Nov. Anecdotorum iii. 498. _Warton_ mentions a similar
      instance of a grant to the monks of St. Sithin, _Dissert._ ii.
      _prefixed to Hist. of Eng. Poetry_, but he quotes it with some sad
      misrepresentations, and refers to _Mabillon De re Diplomatica_, 611.
      Mr. Maitland, in his _Dark Ages_, has shown the absurdity of
      Warton's inferences from the fact, and proved that it was to the
      servants, or _eorum homines_, that Charlemagne granted this
      uncanonical privilege, p. 216. But I find no such restriction in the
      case I have quoted above. Probably, however, it was thought needless
      to express what might be inferred, or to caution against a practice
      so uncongenial with the christian duties of a monk.

[338] Ep. ci. p. 184. He afterwards quotes Livy, Tacitus, and many

[339] Ep. xiv. He was fond of Quintus Curtius, and often read his
      history with much pleasure. Ep. ci. p. 184.

[340] Ep. lxxvii. p. 81.

[341] Ep. xciv.

[342] Ep. xcii. and also lxxii. which is redundant with quotations
      from the poets.

[343] Ep. xciv. p. 170.

[344] Ep. lvii.

[345] Ep. xii.

[346] Ep. lxxvi. p. 132.

[347] Ep. cxl. p. 253.

[348] Ep. lxvi. p. 115.

[349] Ep. xxxvii. p. 68.

[350] Ep. cli.


     _Winchester famous for its Scribes.--Ethelwold and
     Godemann.--Anecdotes.--Library of the Monastery of Reading.--The
     Bible.--Library of Depying Priory.--Effects of Gospel
     Reading.--Catalogue of Ramsey Library.--Hebrew MSS.--Fine
     Classics, etc.--St. Edmund's Bury.--Church of Ely.--Canute, etc._

In the olden time the monks of Winchester[351] were renowned for their
calligraphic and pictorial art. The choice book collectors of the day
sought anxiously for volumes produced by these ingenious scribes, and
paid extravagant prices for them. A superb specimen of their skill was
executed for Bishop Ethelwold; that enlightened and benevolent prelate
was a great patron of art and literature, and himself a grammaticus and
poet of no mean pretensions. He did more than any other of his time to
restore the architectural beauties which were damaged or destroyed by the
fire and sword of the Danish invaders. His love of these undertakings,
his industry in carrying them out, and the great talent he displayed in
their restoration, is truly wonderful to observe. He is called by
Wolstan, his biographer, "a great builder of churches, and divers other
works."[352] He was fond of learning, and very liberal in diffusing the
knowledge which he acquired; and used to instruct the young by reading to
them the Latin authors, translated into the Saxon tongue. "He wrote a
Saxion version of the Rule of Saint Benedict, which was so much admired,
and so pleased King Edgar, that he granted to him the manor of
Sudborn,[353] as a token of his approbation."

Among a number of donations which he bequeathed to this monastery, twenty
volumes are enumerated, embracing some writings of Bede and Isidore.[354]
As a proof of his bibliomanical propensities, I refer the reader to the
celebrated Benedictional of the Duke of Devonshire; that rich gem, with
its resplendent illuminations, place it beyond the shadow of a doubt, and
prove Ethelwold to have been an _amator librorum_ of consummate taste.
This fine specimen of Saxon ingenuity is the production of a cloistered
monk of Winchester, named Godemann, who transcribed it at the bishop's
special desire, as we learn, from the following lines:--

    "_Presentem Biblum iusset prescribere Presul.
    Wintoniæ Dus que fecerat esse Patronum
    Magnus Æthelwoldus._"[355]

Godemann, the scribe, entreats the prayers of his readers, and wishes
"all who gaze on this book to ever pray that after the end of the flesh I
may inherit health in heaven: this is the fervent prayer of the scribe,
the humble Godemann." This talented illuminator was chaplain to
Ethelwold, and afterwards abbot of Thorney.[356] The choice Benedictional
in the public library of Rouen is also ascribed to his elegant pen, and
adds additional lustre of his artistic fame.[357]

Most readers have heard of Walter, (who was prior of St. Swithin in
1174,) giving twelve measures of barley and a pall, on which was
embroidered in silver the history of St. Berinus converting a Saxon king,
for a fine copy of Bede's Homilies and St. Austin's Psalter;[358] and of
Henry, a monk of the Benedictine Abbey of Hyde, near there, who
transcribed, in the year 1178, Terence, Boethius, Seutonius and Claudian;
and richly illuminated and bound them, which he exchanged with a
neighboring bibliophile for a life of St. Christopher, St. Gregory's
Pastoral Care, and four Missals.[359] Nicholas, Bishop of Winchester,
left one hundred marks and a Bible, with a fine gloss, in two large
volumes, to the convent of St. Swithin. John de Pontissara, who succeeded
that bishop in the year 1282, borrowed this valuable manuscript to
benefit and improve his biblical knowledge by a perusal of its numerous
notes. So great was their regard for this precious gift, that the monks
demanded a bond for its return; a circumstance which has caused some
doubt as to the plenitude of the Holy Scriptures in the English Church
during that period; at least among those who have only casually glanced
at the subject. I may as well notice that the ancient Psalter in the
Cottonian Library[360] was written about the year 1035, by the "most
humble brother and monk Ælsinus," of Hyde Abbey. The table prefixed to
the volume records the deaths of other eminent scribes and illuminators,
whose names are mingled with the great men of the day;[361] showing how
esteemed they were, and how honorable was their avocation. Thus under the
15th of May we find "_Obitus Ætherici mº picto_;" and again, under the
5th of July, "_Obit Wulfrici mº pictoris_." Many were the choice
transcripts made and adorned by the Winchester monks.

The monastery of Reading, in Berkshire, possessed during the reign of
Henry the Third a choice library of a hundred and fifty volumes. It is
printed in the Supplement to the History of Reading, from the original
prefixed to the Woollascot manuscripts. But it is copied very
inaccurately, and with many grievous omissions; nevertheless it will
suffice to enable us to gain a knowledge of the class of books most
admired by the monks of Reading; and the Christian reader will be glad to
learn that the catalogue opens, as usual, with the Holy Scriptures.
Indeed no less than four fine large and complete copies of the Bible are
enumerated. The first in two volumes; the second in three volumes; the
third in two, and the fourth in the same number which was transcribed by
the _Cantor_, and kept in the cloisters for the use of the monks. But in
addition to these, which are in themselves quite sufficient to exculpate
the monks from any charge of negligence of Bible reading, we find a long
list of separate portions of the Old and New Testament; besides many of
the most important works of the Fathers, and productions of mediæval
learning, as the following names will testify:--

    Rabanus Maurus.

They possessed also the works of Geoffry of Monmouth; the _Vita Karoli et
Alexandri et gesta Normannorum_; a "Ystoria Rading," and many others
equally interesting; and among the books given by Radbert of Witchir, we
find a Juvenal, the Bucolics and Georgics of Virgil, and the "Ode et
Poetria et Sermone et Epistole Oratii." But certainly the most striking
characteristic is the fine biblical collection contained in their
library, which is well worthy our attention, if not our admiration: not
but that we find them in other libraries much less extensive. In those
monasteries whose poverty would not allow the purchase of books in any
quantity, and whose libraries could boast but of some twenty or thirty
volumes, it is scarcely to be expected that they should be found rich in
profane literature; but it is deeply gratifying to find, as we generally
do, the Bible first on their little list; conveying a proof by this
prominence, in a quiet but expressive way, how highly they esteemed that
holy volume, and how essential they deemed its possession. Would that
they had profited more by its holy precepts!

We find an instance of this, and a proof of their fondness for the Bible,
in the catalogue of the books in Depying Priory,[362] in Lincolnshire;
which, containing a collection of twenty-three volumes, enumerates a copy
of the Bible first on the humble list. The catalogue is as follows:--

    These are the books in the library of the monks of Depying.[363]

    The Bible.
    The first part of the Morals of Pope St. Gregory.
    The second part of the Morals by the same.
    Book of Divine Offices.
    Gesta Britonorum.
    Tracts of Robert, Bishop of Lincoln, on Confession,
            with other compilations.
    Martyrologium, with the Rules of St. Benedict; Passion of
            St. James, with other books.
    Constitutions of Pope Benedict.
    History of the Island of Ely.
    Hugucio de dono fratris Johannis Tiryngham.
    Homilies of the blessed Gregory.
    Constitutions of Pope Clement XII.
    Book of the Virtues and Vices.
    Majester Historiarum.
    Sacramentary given by Master John Swarby, Rector of the
            Church of St. Guthlac.
    One great Portoforium for the use of the Brothers.
    Two ditto.
    Two Psalters for the use of the Brothers.
    Three Missals for the use of the Brothers.

There is not much in this scanty collection, the loss of which we need
lament; nor does it inspire us with a very high notion of the learning of
the monks of Depying Priory. Yet how cheering it is to find that the
Bible was studied in this little cell; and I trust the monk often drew
from it many words of comfort and consolation. Where is the reader who
will not regard these instances of Bible reading with pleasure? Where is
the Christian who will not rejoice that the Gospel of Christ was read and
loved in the turbulent days of the Norman monarchs? Where is the
philosopher who will affirm that we owe nothing to this silent but
effectual and fervent study? Where is he who will maintain that the
influence of the blessed and abundant charity--the cheering promises, and
the sweet admonitions of love and mercy with which the Gospels
overflow--aided nothing in the progress of civilization? Where is the
Bible student who will believe that all this reading of the Scriptures
was unprofitable because, forsooth, a monk preached and taught it to the

Let the historian open his volumes with a new interest, and ponder over
their pages with a fresh spirit of inquiry; let him read of days of
darkness and barbarity; and as he peruses on, trace the origin of the
light whose brightness drove the darkness and barbarity away. How much
will he trace to the Bible's influence; how often will he be compelled to
enter a convent wall to find in the gospel student the one who shone as a
redeeming light in those old days of iniquity and sin; and will he deny
to the Christian priest his gratitude and love, because he wore the cowl
and mantle of a monk, or because he loved to read of saints whose lives
were mingled with lying legends, or because he chose a life which to us
looks dreary, cold, and heartless. Will he deny him a grateful
recollection when he reads of how much good he was permitted to achieve
in the Church of Christ; of how many a doubting heart he reassured; of
how many a soul he fired with a true spark of Christian love; when he
reads of how the monk preached the faith of Christ, and how often he led
some wandering pilgrim into the path of vital truth by the sweet words of
the dear religion which he taught; when he reads that the hearts of many
a Norman chief was softened by the sweetness of the gospel's voice, and
his evil passions were lulled by the hymn of praise which the monk
devoutly sang to his Master in heaven above. But speaking of the
existence of the Bible among the monks puts me in mind of the Abbey of
Ramsey and its fine old library of books, which was particularly rich in
biblical treasures. Even superior to Reading, as regards its biblical
collection, was the library of Ramsey. A portion of an old catalogue of
the library of this monastery has been preserved, apparently transcribed
about the beginning of the fourteenth century, during the warlike reign
of Richard the Second. It is one of the richest and most interesting
relics of its kind extant, at least of those to be found in our own
public libraries; and a perusal of it will not fail to leave an
impression on the mind that the monks were far wealthier in their
literary stores than we previously imagined. Originally on two or three
skins, it is now torn into five separate pieces,[364] and in other
respects much dilapidated. The writing also in some parts is nearly
obliterated, so as to render the document scarcely readable. It is much
to be regretted that this interesting catalogue is but a portion of the
original; in its complete form it would probably have described twice as
many volumes; but a fragment as it is, it nevertheless contains the
titles of more than _eleven hundred books_, with the names of many of
their donors attached. A creditable and right worthy testimonial this, of
the learning and love of books prevalent among the monks of Ramsey
Monastery. More than seven hundred of this goodly number were of a
miscellaneous nature, and the rest were principally books used in the
performance of divine service. Among these there were no less than
seventy Breviaries; thirty-two Grails; twenty-nine Processionals; and one
hundred Psalters! The reader will regard most of these as superstitious
and useless; nor should I remark upon them did they not show that books
were not so scarce in those times as we suppose; as this prodigality
satisfactorily proves, and moreover testifies to the unceasing industry
of the monkish scribes. We who are used to the speed of the printing
press and its fertile abundance can form an opinion of the labor
necessary to transcribe this formidable array of papistical literature.
Four hundred volumes transcribed with the plodding pen! each word
collated and each page diligently revised, lest a blunder or a misspelt
syllable should blemish those books so deeply venerated. What long years
of dry tedious labor and monotonous industry was here!

But the other portion of the catalogue fully compensates for this vast
proportion of ecclesiastical volumes. Besides several _Biblia optima in
duobus voluminibus_, or complete copies of the Bible, many separate books
of the inspired writers are noted down; indeed the catalogue lays before
us a superb array of fine biblical treasures, rendered doubly valuable by
copious and useful glossaries; and embracing many a rare Hebrew MS.
Bible, _bibliotheca hebraice_, and precious commentary. I count no less
than twenty volumes in this ancient language. But we often find Hebrew
manuscripts in the monastic catalogues after the eleventh century. The
Jews, who came over in great numbers about that time, were possessed of
many valuable books, and spread a knowledge of their language and
literature among the students of the monasteries. And when the cruel
persecution commenced against them in the thirteenth century, they
disposed of their books, which were generally bought up by the monks, who
were ever hungry after such acquisitions. Gregory, prior of Ramsey,
collected a great quantity of Hebrew MSS. in this way, and highly
esteemed the language, in which he became deeply learned. At his death,
in the year 1250, he left them to the library of his monastery.[365] Nor
was my lord prior a solitary instance; many others of the same abbey,
inspired by his example and aided by his books, studied the Hebrew with
equal success. Brother Dodford, the Armarian, and Holbeach, a monk,
displayed their erudition in writing a Hebrew lexicon.[366]

The library of Ramsey was also remarkably rich in patristic lore. They
gloried in the possession of the works of Ambrose, Augustine, Anselm,
Basil, Boniface, Bernard, Gregory, and many others equally voluminous.
But it was not exclusively to the study of such matters that these monks
applied their minds, they possessed a taste for other branches of
literature besides. They read histories of the church, histories of
England, of Normandy, of the Jews; and histories of scholastic
philosophy, and many old chronicles which reposed on their shelves. In
science they appear to have been equally studious, for the catalogue
enumerates works on medicine, natural history, philosophy, mathematics,
logic, dialects, arithmetic and music! Who will say after this that the
monks were ignorant of the sciences and careless of the arts? The
classical student has perhaps ere this condemned them for their want of
taste, and felt indignant at the absence of those authors of antiquity
whose names and works he venerates. But the monks, far from neglecting
those precious volumes, were ever careful of their preservation; they
loved Virgil, Horace, and even Ovid, "heathen dogs" as they were, and
enjoyed a keen relish for their beauties. I find in this catalogue the
following choice names of antiquity occur repeatedly:--


Here were rich mines of ancient eloquence, and fragrant flowers of poesy
to enliven and perfume the dull cloister studies of the monks. It is not
every library or reading society even of our own time that possess so
many gems of old. But other treasures might yet be named which still
further testify to the varied tastes and literary pursuits of these
monastic bibliophiles; but I shall content myself with naming Peter of
Blois, the Sentences of Peter Lombard, of which they had several copies,
some enriched with choice commentaries and notes, the works of Thomas
Aquinas and others of his class, a "Liber Ricardi," Dictionaries,
Grammars, and the writings of "Majestri Robi Grostete," the celebrated
Bishop of Lincoln, renowned as a great _amator librorum_ and collector of
Grecian literature. I might easily swell this notice out to a
considerable extent by enumerating many other book treasures in this
curious collection: but enough has been said to enable the reader to
judge of the sort of literature the monks of Ramsey collected and the
books they read; and if he should feel inclined to pursue the inquiry
further, I must refer him to the original manuscript, promising him much
gratification for his trouble.[367] It only remains for me to say that
the Vandalism of the Reformation swept all traces of this fine library
away, save the broken, tattered catalogue we have just examined. But this
is more than has been spared from some. The abbey of St. Edmunds
Bury[368] at one time must have enjoyed a copious library, but we have no
catalogue that I am aware of to tell of its nature, not even a passing
notice of its well-stored shelves, except a few lines in which Leland
mentions some of the old manuscripts he found therein.[369] But a
catalogue of their library in the flourishing days of their monastery
would have disclosed, I imagine, many curious works, and probably some
singular writings on the "_crafft off medycyne_," which Abbot Baldwin,
"_phesean_" to Edward the Confessor,[370] had given the monks, and of
whom Lydgate thus speaks--

    "Baldewynus, a monk off Seynt Denys,
     Gretly expert in crafft of medycyne;
     Full provydent off counsayl and right wys,
     Sad off his port, functuons off doctryne;
     After by grace and influence devyne,
     Choose off Bury Abbot, as I reede
     The thyrdde in order that did ther succeade."[371]

We may equally deplore the loss of the catalogue of the monastery of Ely,
which, during the middle ages, we have every reason to suppose possessed
a library of much value and extent. This old monastery can trace its
foundation back to a remote period, and claim as its foundress,
Etheldredæ,[372] the daughter of Anna, King of the East Angles, she was
the wife of King Ecgfrid,[373] with whom she lived for twelve long years,
though during that time she preserved the glory of perfect virginity,
much to the annoyance of her royal spouse, who offered money and lands
to induce that illustrious virgin to waver in her resolution, but without
success. Her inflexible determination at length induced her husband to
grant her oft-repeated prayer; and in the year 673 she retired into the
seclusion of monastic life,[374] and building the monastery of Ely,
devoted her days to the praise and glory of her heavenly King. Her pure
and pious life caused others speedily to follow her example, and she soon
became the virgin-mother of a numerous progeny dedicated to God. A series
of astounding miracles attended her monastic life; and sixteen years
after her death, when her sister, the succeeding abbess, opened her
wooden coffin to transfer her body to a more costly one of marble, that
"holy virgin and spouse of Christ" was found entirely free from
corruption or decay.[375]

A nunnery, glorying in so pure a foundress, grew and flourished, and for
"two hundred years existed in the full observance of monastic
discipline;" but on the coming of the Danes in the year 870, those sad
destroyers of religious establishments laid it in a heap of ruins, in
which desolate condition it remained till it attracted the attention of
the celebrated Ethelwold, who under the patronage of King Edgar restored
it; and endowing it with considerable privileges appointed Brithnoth,
Prior of Winchester, its first abbot.[376]

Many years after, when Leoffin was abbot there, and Canute was king, that
monarch honored the monastery of Ely with his presence on several
occasions. Monkish traditions say, that on one of these visits as the
king approached, he heard the pious inmates of the monastery chanting
their hymn of praise; and so melodious were the voices of the devotees,
that his royal heart was touched, and he poured forth his feelings in a
Saxon ballad, commencing thus:

    "Merry sang the monks of Ely,
     When Canute the king was sailing by;
     Row ye knights near the land,
     And let us hear these monks song."[377]

It reads smoother in Strutt's version; he renders it

    "Cheerful sang the monk of Ely,
     When Canute the king was passing by;
     Row to the shore knights, said the king,
     And let us hear these churchmen sing."[378]

In addition to the title of a poet, Canute has also received the
appellation of a bibliomaniac. Dibdin, in his bibliomania, mentions in a
cursory manner a few monkish book collectors, and introduces Canute
among them.[379] The illuminated manuscript of the four Gospels in the
Danish tongue, now in the British Museum, he writes, "and once that
monarch's own book leaves not the shadow of a doubt of his bibliomanical
character!" I cannot however allow him that title upon such equivocal
grounds; for upon examination, the MS. turns out to be in the Theotisc
dialect, possessing no illuminations of its own, and never perhaps once
in the hands of the royal poet.[380]

From the account books of Ely church we may infer that the monks there
enjoyed a tolerable library; for we find frequent entries of money having
been expended for books and materials connected with the library; thus in
the year 1300 we find that they bought at one time five dozen parchment,
four pounds of ink, eight calf and four sheep-skins for binding books;
and afterwards there is another entry of five dozen vellum and six pair
of book clasps, a book of decretals for the library, 3s., a Speculum
Gregor, 2s., and "_Pro tabula Paschalis fac denova et illuminand_,"
4s.[381] They frequently perhaps sent one of the monks to distants parts
to purchase or borrow books for their library; a curious instance of this
occurs under the year 1329, when they paid "the precentor for going to
Balsham to enquire for books, 6s. 7d." The bookbinder two weeks' wages,
4s.; twelve iron chains to fasten books, 4s.; five dozen vellum, 25s. 8d.
In the year 1396, they paid their librarian 53s. 4d., and a tunic for his
services during one year.[382]

Nigel, Bishop of Ely, by endowing the Scriptorium, enabled the monks to
produce some excellent transcripts; they added several books of
Cassiodorus, Bede, Aldelem, Radbert, Andres, etc., to the library;[383]
and they possessed at one time no less than thirteen fine copies of the
Gospels, which were beautifully bound in gold and silver.[384]


[351] Those learned in such matters refer the foundation of
      Winchester cathedral and monastery to a remote period. An old writer
      says that it was "built by King Lucius, who, abolishing Paganisme,
      embraced Christ the first yere of his reigne, being the yeere of our
      Lord 180."--_Godwin's Cat._ p. 157. See also _Usher de Primordiis_.
      fo. 126.

[352] "Ecclesiarum ac diversorum operum magnus ædificator, et dum
      esset abbas et dum esset episcopus."--_Wolstan. Vita Æthelw. ap.
      Mabillon Actæ S. S. Benedict, Sæc._ v. p. 614.

[353] Dugdale's Monasticon, vol. i. p. 614.

[354] MS. belonging to the Society of Antiquaries, No. 60, fo. 34.
      See Dugdale Monast. vol. i. p. 382. He gave to the monks of Abingdon
      a copy of the Gospels cased in silver, ornamented with gold and
      precious stones.

[355] _Archæologia_, vol. xxiv. p. 22; and _Dibdin's_ delightful
      "_Decameron_," vol. i. p. lix.

[356] Wuls. Act. S. S. Benedict. p. 616.

[357] Archæolog. vol. xxiv.

[358] Regist. Priorat. S. Swithin Winton.--_Warton_ II, _Dissert._

[359] _Ibid._

[360] _Marked Titus_, D. 27.

[361] It is called "_Calendarium, in quo notantur dies obitus
      plurimorum monachorum, abbatum, etc.; temp. regum Anglo-Saxonum_."

[362] It was a little cell dependant on the Abbey of Thorney.

[363] MS. _Harleian_, No. 3658, fo. 74, b. It will be found printed
      in _Dugdale's Monasticon_, vol. iv. p. 167. The catalogue was
      evidently written about the year 1350.

[364] Cottonian Charta, 11-16. I am sorry to observe so little
      attention paid to this curious fragment, which, insignificant as it
      may appear to some, is nevertheless quite a curiosity of literature
      in its way. Its tattered condition calls for the care of Sir
      Frederick Madden.

[365] Leland Script. Brit. p. 321, and MSS. Bibl. Lambeth, Wharton,
      L. p. 661. Libris Prioris Gregorii de Ramsey, _Prima pars
      Bibliothecæ Hebraice_, etc. Warton Dissert ii. Eng. Poetry.

[366] Bale, iv. 41, et ix. 9. Leland. Scrip. Brit. p. 452.

[367] Ailward, Bishop of London, gave many books to the library of
      Ramsey monastery, _Hoveden Scrip. post. Bedam._ 1596, fol. 252.
      Dugdale's Monasticon, vol. ii.

[368] In the year 1327, the inhabitants of Bury besieged the abbey,
      wounded the monks, and "bare out of the abbey all the gold, silver
      ornaments, _bookes, charters, and other writings_." Stowe Annals, p.

[369] He particularly notices a Sallust, a very ancient copy,
      _vetustis simus_.

[370] And also to Lanfranc, he was elected in the year 1065.

[371] Harleian MS. No. 2278.

[372] Or Atheldryth.

[373] The youngest son of Osway, King of Northumbria; he succeeded
      to the throne on the death of his father in the year 670.

[374] She seems to have been principally encouraged in this
      fanatical determination by Wilfrid; probably this was one of the
      causes of Ecgfrid's displeasure towards him. So highly was the
      purity of the body regarded in the early Saxon church, that Aldhelm
      wrote a piece in its praise, in imitation of the style of Sedulius,
      but in most extravagant terms. Bede wrote a poem, solely to
      commemorate the chastety of Etheldreda.

         "Let Maro wars in loftier numbers sing
          I sound the praises of our heavenly King;
          Chaste is my verse, nor Helen's rape I write,
          Light tales like these, but prove the mind as light."
                       _Bede's Eccl. Hist. by Giles_, b. iv. c. xx.

[375] Bede's Eccl. Hist. b. iv. c. xx.

[376] Saxon Chronicle translated by Ingram, p. 118. Dugdale's
      Monasticon, vol. i. p. 458.

[377] Sharon Turner's Hist. of the Anglo-Saxons, vol. ii. p. 288.

[378] Strutt's Saxon Antiquities, vol. i. p. 83.

[379] _Dibdin's Bibliomania_, p. 228.

[380] Dibdin alludes to the "Harmony of the Four Gospels," preserved
      among the Cotton MSS. _Caligula_, A. vii. and described as
      "_Harmonia Evangeliorum, lingua Francica capitulis, 71, Liber
      quondam (dicit Jamesius) Canuti regis_." See also Hicke's Gram.
      Franco-Theotisca, p. 6. But there is no ground for the supposition
      that it belonged to Canute; and the several fine historical
      illuminations bound up with it are evidently of a much later age.

[381] An entry occurs of 6s. 8d. for writing two processionals.

[382] Stevenson's Suppl. to Bentham's church of Ely, p. 52. "It is
      worth notice," says Stevenson, "that in the course of a few years,
      about the middle of the 14th century, the precentor purchased
      upwards of seventy dozen parchment and thirty dozen vellum."

[383] Spelman Antiquarii Collectanea, vol. iii. p. 273. Nigel, who
      was made bishop in 1133, was plundered by some of King Stephen's
      soldiers, and robbed of his own copy of the Gospels which he had
      adorned with many sacred relics; see _Anglia Sacra_, i. p. 622.

[384] _Warton's Anglia Sacra_, it is related that William Longchamp,
      bishop in 1199, sold them to raise money towards the redemption of
      King Richard, _pro Regis Ricardi redemptione_, tom. i. 633. Dugd.
      Monast. i. p. 463.


     _St. Alban's.--Willigod.--Bones of St. Alban.--Eadmer.--Norman
     Conquest.--Paul and the Scriptorium.--Geoffry de
     Gorham.--Brekspere the "Poor Clerk".--Abbot Simon and his "multis
     voluminibus".--Raymond the
     Prior.--Wentmore.--Whethamstede.--Humphrey, Duke of
     Gloucester.--Lydgate.--Guy, Earl of Warwick._

The efficacy of "Good Works" was a principle ever inculcated by the monks
of old. It is sad to reflect, that vile deeds and black intentions were
too readily forgiven and absolved by the Church on the performance of
some _good deed_; or that the monks should dare to shelter or to gloss
over those sins which their priestly duty bound them to condemn, because
forsooth some wealthy baron could spare a portion of his broad lands or
coffered gold to extenuate them. But this forms one of the dark stains of
the monastic system; and the monks, I am sorry to say, were more readily
inclined to overlook the blemish, because it proved so profitable to
their order. And thus it was, that the proud and noble monastery of St.
Alban's was endowed by a murderer's hand, and built to allay the fierce
tortures of an assassin's conscience. Ethelbert, king of the East Angles,
fell by the regal hand of Offa, king of Mercia; and from the era of that
black and guilty deed many a fine monastery dates its origin and owes its

St. Alban's was founded, as its name implies, in honor of the English
protomartyr, whose bones were said to have been discovered on that
interesting site, and afterwards preserved with veneration in the abbey.
In the ancient times, the building appears to have covered a considerable
space, and to have been of great magnitude and power; for ruins of its
former structure mark how far and wide the foundation spreads.

"The glorious king Offa," as the monks in their adulation style him,
richly endowed the monastery on its completion, as we learn from the old
chronicles of the abbey; and a succession of potent sovereigns are
emblazoned on the glittering parchment, whose liberalty augmented or
confirmed these privileges.[385]

Willigod, the first abbot, greatly enriched the monastery, and bestowed
especial care upon the relics of St. Alban. It is curious to mark how
many perils those shrivelled bones escaped, and with what anxious care
the monks preserved them. In the year 930, during the time of Abbot
Eadfrid, the Danes attacked the abbey, and after many destroying acts
broke open the repository, and carried away some of the bones of St.
Alban into their own country.[386] The monks took greater care than ever
of the remaining relics; and their anxiety for their safety, and the
veneration with which they regarded them, is curiously illustrated by an
anecdote of Abbot Leofric, elected in the year 1006. His abbacy was,
therefore, held in troubled times; and in the midst of fresh invasions
and Danish cruelties. Fearing lest they should a second time reach the
abbey, he determined to protect by stratagem what he could not effect by
force. After hiding the genuine bones of St. Alban in a place quite
secure from discovery, he sent an open message to the Abbot of Ely,
entreating permission to deposit the holy relics in his keeping; and
offering, as a plausible reason, that the monastery of Ely, being
surrounded by marshy and impenetrable bogs, was secure from the
approaches of the barbarians. He accompanied this message with some false
relics--the remains of an old monk belonging to the abbey enclosed in a
coffin--and sent with them a worn antiquated looking mantle, pretending
that it formerly belonged to Amphibalus, the master of St. Alban.[387]
The monks of Ely joyfully received these precious bones, and displayed
perhaps too much eagerness in doing so. Certain it is, that when the
danger was past and the quietude of the country was restored, Leofric,
on applying for the restitution of these "holy relics," found some
difficulty in obtaining them; for the Abbot of Ely attempted by
equivocation and duplicity to retain them. After several ineffectual
applications, Leofric was compelled, for the honor of his monastery, to
declare the "pious fraud" he had practised; which he proved by the
testimony of several monks of his fraternity, who were witnesses of the
transaction. It is said, that Edward the Confessor was highly incensed at
the conduct of the Abbot of Ely.

I have stated elsewhere, that the learned and pious Ælfric gave the
monastery many choice volumes. His successor, Ealdred, abbot, about the
year 955, was quite an antiquary in his way; and no spot in England
afforded so many opportunities to gratify his taste as the site of the
ancient city of Verulam. He commenced an extensive search among the
ruins, and rescued from the earth a vast quantity of interesting and
valuable remains. He stowed all the stone-work and other materials which
were serviceable in building away, intending to erect a new edifice for
the monks: but death prevented the consummation of these designs. Eadmer,
his successor, a man of great piety and learning, followed up the
pursuit, and made some important accessions to these stores. He found
also a great number of gold and silver ornaments, specimens of ancient
art, some of them of a most costly nature, but being idols or figures
connected with heathen mythology, he cared not to preserve them. Matthew
Paris is prolix in his account of the operations and discoveries of this
abbot; and one portion of it is so interesting, and seems so connected
with our subject, that I cannot refrain from giving it to the reader.
"The abbot," he writes, "whilst digging out the walls and searching for
the ruins which were buried in the earth in the midst of the ancient
city, discovered many vestiges of the foundation of a great palace. In a
recess in one of the walls he found the remains of a library, consisting
of a number of books and rolls; and among them a volume in an unknown
tongue, and which, although very ancient, had especially escaped
destruction. This nobody in the monastery could read, nor could they at
that time find any one who understood the writing or the idiom; it was
exceedingly ancient, and the letters evidently were most beautifully
formed; the inscriptions or titles were written in gold, and encircled
with ornaments; bound in oak with silken bands, which still retained
their strength and beauty; so perfectly was the volume preserved. But
they could not conceive what the book was about; at last, after much
search and diligent inquiry, they found a very feeble and aged priest,
named Unwon, who was very learned in writings _literis bene eruditum_,
and imbued with the knowledge of divers languages. He knew directly what
the volume was about, and clearly and fluently read the contents; he also
explained the other _Codices_ found in the same library _in eodem
Almariolo_ of the palace with the greatest ease, and showed them to be
written in the characters formerly in use among the inhabitants of
Verulam, and in the language of the ancient Britons. Some, however, were
in Latin; but the book before-mentioned was found to be the history of
Saint Alban, the English proto-martyr, according to that mentioned by
Bede, as having been daily used in the church. Among the other books were
discovered many contrivances for the invocation and idolatrous rites of
the people of Verulam, in which it was evident that Phoebus the god Sol
was especially invoked and worshipped; and after him Mercury, called in
English Woden, who was the god of the merchants. The books which
contained these diabolical inventions they cast away and burnt; but that
precious treasure, the history of Saint Alban, they preserved, and the
priest before-mentioned was appointed to translate the ancient English or
British into the vulgar tongue.[388] By the prudence of the Abbot Eadmer,
the brothers of the convent made a faithful copy, and diligently
explained it in their public teaching; they also translated it into
Latin, in which it is now known and read; the historian adds that the
ancient and original copy, which was so curiously written,
instantaneously crumbled into dust and was destroyed for ever."[389]

Although the attention of the Saxon abbots was especially directed to
literary matters, and to the affairs connected with the making of books,
we find no definite mention of a Scriptorium, or of manuscripts having
been transcribed as a regular and systematic duty, till after the Norman
conquest. That event happened during the abbacy of Frederic, and was one
which greatly influenced the learning of the monks. Indeed, I regard the
Norman conquest as a most propitious event for English literature, and
one which wrought a vast change in the aspect of monastic learning; the
student of those times cannot fail to perceive the revolution which then
took place in the cloisters; visibly accomplished by the installation of
Norman bishops and the importation of Norman monks, who in the well
regulated monasteries of France and Normandy had been initiated into a
more general course of study, and brought up in a better system of mental
training than was known here at that time.

But poor Frederic, a conscientious and worthy monk, suffered severely by
that event, and was ultimately obliged to seek refuge in the monastery of
Ely to evade the displeasure of the new sovereign; but his earthly course
was well nigh run, for three days after, death released him from his
worldly troubles, and deprived the conqueror of a victim. Paul, the first
of the Norman abbots, was appointed by the king in the year 1077. He was
zealous and industrious in the interest of the abbey, and obtained the
restitution of many lands and possessions of which it had been deprived;
he rebuilt the old and almost ruined church, and employed for that
purpose many of the materials which his predecessors had collected from
the ruins of Verulam; and even now, I believe, some remnants of these
Roman tiles, etc., may be discerned. He moreover obtained many important
grants and valuable donations; among others a layman named Robert, one
of the Norman leaders, gave him two parts of the tythes of his domain at
Hatfield, which he had received from the king at the distribution.

"This he assigned," says Matthew Paris, "to the disposal of Abbot Paul,
who was a lover of the Scriptures, for the transcription of the necessary
volumes for the monastery. He himself indeed was a learned soldier, and a
diligent hearer and lover of Scripture; to this he also added the tythes
of Redburn, appointing certain provisions to be given to the scribes;
this he did out of "charity to the brothers that they may not thereby
suffer, and that no impediment might be offered to the writers." The
abbot thereupon sought and obtained from afar many renowned scribes, to
write the necessary books for the monastery. And in return for these
abundant favors, he presented, as a suitable gift to the warlike Robert,
for the chapel in his palace at Hatfield, two pair of vestments, a silver
cup, a missal, and the other needful books (_missale cum aliis libris
necessariis_). Having thus presented to him the first volumes produced by
his liberality, he proceeded to construct a scriptorium, which was set
apart (_præelectos_) for the transcription of books; Lanfranc supplied
the copies. They thus procured for the monastery twenty-eight notable
volumes (_volumina notabilia_), also eight psalters, a book of collects,
a book of epistles, a volume containing the gospels for the year, two
copies of the gospels complete, bound in gold and silver, and ornamented
with gems; besides ordinals, constitutions, missals, troapries,
collects, and other books for the use of the library."[390]

Thus blessed, we find the monks of St. Albans for ages after constantly
acquiring fresh treasures, and multiplying their book stores by fruitful
transcripts. There is scarce an abbot, whose portrait garnishes the fair
manuscript before me, that is not represented with some goodly tomes
spread around him, or who is not mentioned as a choice "_amator
librorum_," in these monkish pages. It is a singular circumstance, when
we consider how bookless those ages are supposed to have been, that the
illuminated portraits of the monks are most frequently depicted with some
ponderous volume before them, as if the idea of a monk and the study of a
book were quite inseparable. During my search among the old manuscripts
quoted in this work, this fact has been so repeatedly forced upon my
attention that I am tempted to regard it as an important hint, and one
which speaks favorably for the love of books and learning among the
cowled devotees of the monasteries.

Passing Richard de Albani, who gave them a copy of the gospels, a missal
written in letters of gold, an other precious volumes whose titles are
unrecorded,[391] we come to Geoffry, a native of Gorham, who was elected
abbot in the year 1119. He had been invited over to England (before he
became a priest) by his predecessor, to superintend the school of St.
Albans; but he delayed the voyage so long, that on his arrival he found
the appointment already filled; on this he went to Dunstable, where he
read lectures, and obtained some pupils. It was during his stay there
that he wrote the piece which has obtained for him so much reputation.
_Ubi quendam ludum de Sancta Katarinæ quem miracula vulgariter appellamus
fecit_, says the Cotton manuscripts, on the vellum page of which he is
portrayed in the act of writing it.[392] Geoffry, from this passage, is
supposed to be the first author of dramatic literature in England;
although the title seems somewhat equivocal, from the casual manner in
which his famous play of St. Catherine is thus mentioned by Matthew
Paris. Of its merits we are still less able to form an opinion; for
nothing more than the name of that much talked of miracle play has been
preserved. We may conclude, however, that it was performed with all the
paraphernalia of scenery and characteristic costume; for he borrowed of
the sacrist of St. Albans some copes for this purpose. On the night
following the representation the house in which he resided was burnt;
and, says the historian, all his books, and the copes he had borrowed
were destroyed. Rendered poor indeed by this calamity, and somewhat
reflecting upon himself for the event, he assumed in sorrow and despair
the religious habit, and entered the monastery of St. Albans; where by
his deep study, his learning and his piety, he so gained the hearts of
his fraternity, that he ultimately became their abbot. He is said to have
been very industrious in the transcription of books; and he "made a
missal bound in gold, _auro ridimitum_, and another in two volumes; both
incomparably illuminated in gold, and written in a clear and legible
hand; also a precious Psalter similarly illuminated; a book containing
the Benedictions and the Sacraments; a book of Exorcisms, and a

Geoffry was succeeded by Ralph de Gobium in the year 1143: he was a monk
remarkable for his learning and his bibliomanical pursuits. He formerly
remained some time in the services of Alexander, bishop of Lincoln, and
gained the esteem of that prelate. His book-loving passion arose from
hearing one "Master Wodon, of Italy, expound the doctrines of the Holy
Scriptures." He from that time became a most enthusiastic _amator
librorum_; and collected, with great diligence, an abundant multitude of

The matters in which he was concerned, his donations to the monastery,
and the anecdotes of his life, are all unconnected with my subject; so
that I am obliged to pass from this interesting monk, an undoubted
bibliophile, from sheer want of information. I cannot but regret that the
historian does not inform us more fully of his book collecting pursuits;
but he is especially barren on that subject, although he highly esteems
him for prosecuting that pleasing avocation. He died in the year 1151, in
the fourteenth of King Stephen, and was followed by Robert de Gorham, who
is also commemorated as a bibliophile in the pages of the Cotton
manuscripts; and to judge from his portrait, and the intensity with which
he pores over his volume, he was a hard and devoted student. He ordered
the scribes to make a great many books; indeed, adds Paris the historian,
who was himself somewhat of an _amator librorum_, "more by far than can
be mentioned."[395] From another source we learn that these books were
most sumptuously bound.[396]

During the days of this learned abbot a devout and humble clerk asked
admission at the abbey gate. Aspiring to a holy life, he ardently hoped,
by thus spending his days in monastic seclusion, to render his heart more
acceptable to God. Hearing his prayer, the monks conducted him into the
presence of my Lord Abbot, who received him with compassionate
tenderness, and kindly questioned him as to his qualifications for the
duties and sacred responsibilities of the monkish priesthood; for even in
those dark ages they looked a little into the learning of the applicant
before he was admitted into their fraternity. But alas! the poor clerk
was found wofully deficient in this respect, and was incapable of
replying to the questions of my Lord Abbot, who thereupon gently
answered, "My son, tarry awhile, and still exercise thyself in study, and
so become more perfect for the holy office."

Abashed and disappointed, he retired with a kindling blush of shame; and
deeming this temporary repulse a positive refusal he left his fatherland,
and started on a pilgrimage to France.[397] And who was this poor,
humble, unlettered clerk? Who this simple layman, whose ignorance
rendered him an unfit _socius_ for the plodding monks of old St. Albans
Abbey? No less than the English born Nicholas Brekespere, afterwards his
Holiness Adrian IV., Pope of Rome, Vicar-apostolic and successor of St.

Yes; still bearing in mind the kind yet keen reproof of the English
abbot, on his arrival in a foreign land he studied with all the depth and
intensity of despair, and soon surpassed his companions in the pursuit of
knowledge; and became so renowned for learning, and for his prudence,
that he was made Canon of St. Rufus. His sagacity, moreover, caused him
to be chosen, on three separate occasions, to undertake some important
embassies to the apostolic see; and at length he was elected a cardinal.
So step by step he finally became elevated to the high dignity of the
popedom. The first and last of England's sons who held the keys of Peter.

These shadows of the past--these shreds of a forgotten age--these echoes
of five hundred years, are full of interest and instruction. For where
shall we find a finer example--a more cheering instance of what
perseverance will accomplish--or a more satisfactory result of the
pursuit of knowledge under difficulties? Not only may these curious facts
cheer the dull student now, and inspire him with that energy so
essential to success, but these whisperings of old may serve as lessons
for ages yet to come. For if _we_ look back upon those dark days with
such feelings of superiority, may not the wiser generations of the future
regard _us_ with a still more contemptuous, yet curious eye? And when
they look back at our Franklins, and our Johnsons, in astonishment at
such fine instances of what perseverance could do, and what energy and
plodding industry could accomplish, even when surrounded with the
difficulties of _our_ ignorance; how much more will they praise this
bright example, in the dark background of the historical tableaux, who,
without even our means of obtaining knowledge--our libraries or our
talent--rose by patient, hard and devoted study, from Brekespere the
humble clerk--the rejected of St. Albans--to the proud title of
Vicar-apostolic of Christ and Pope of Rome!

Simon, an Englishman, a clerk and a "man of letters and good morals," was
elected abbot in the year 1167. All my authorities concur in bestowing
upon him the honor and praise appertaining to a bibliomaniac. He was,
says one, an especial lover of books, _librorum amator speciales_: and
another in panegyric terms still further dubs him an _amator
scripturarum_. All this he proved, and well earned the distinction, by
the great encouragement he gave to the collecting and transcribing of
books. The monkish pens he found moving too slow, and yielding less fruit
than formerly. He soon, however, set them hard at work again; and to
facilitate their labors, he added materially to the comforts of the
Scriptorium by repairing and enlarging it; "and always," says the monk
from whom I learn this, "kept two or three most choice scribes in the
Camera (Scriptorium,) who sustained its reputation, and from whence an
abundant supply of the most excellent books were continually
produced.[398] He framed some efficient laws for its management, and
ordered that, in subsequent times, every abbot should keep and support
one able scribe at least. Among the 'many choice books and authentic
volumes,' _volumina authentica_, which he by this care and industry added
to the abbey library, was included a splendid copy of the Old and New
Testament, transcribed with great accuracy and beautifully
written--indeed, says the manuscript history of that monastery, so noble
a copy was nowhere else to be seen.[399] But besides this, Abbot Simon
gave them all those precious books which he had been for a 'long time'
collecting himself at great cost and patient labor, and having bound them
in a sumptuous and marvellous manner,[400] he made a library for their
reception near the tomb of Roger the Hermit.[401] He also bestowed many
rich ornaments and much costly plate on the monastery; and by a long
catalogue of good deeds, too ample to be inserted here, he gained the
affections and gratitude of his fraternity, who loudly praised his
virtues and lamented his loss when they laid him in his costly tomb.
There is a curious illumination of this monkish bibliophile in the Cotton
manuscript. He is represented deeply engaged with his studies amidst a
number of massy volumes, and a huge trunk is there before him crammed
with rough old fashioned large clasped tomes, quite enticing to look

After Simon came Garinus, who was soon succeeded by one John. Our
attention is arrested by the learned renown of this abbot, who had
studied in his youth at Paris, and obtained the unanimous praise of his
masters for his assiduous attention and studious industry. He returned
with these high honors, and was esteemed in grammar a Priscian, in poetry
an Ovid, and in physic equal to Galen.[403] With such literary
qualifications, it was to be expected the Scriptorium would flourish
under his government, and the library increase under his fostering care.
Our expectations are not disappointed; for many valuable additions were
made during his abbacy, and the monks over whom he presided gave many
manifestations of refinement and artistic talent, which incline us to
regard the ingenuity of the cloisters in a more favorable light. Raymond,
his prior, was a great help in all these undertakings. His industry seems
to have been unceasing in beautifying the church, and looking after the
transcription of books. With the assistance of Roger de Parco, the
cellarer, he made a large table very handsome, and partly fabricated of
metal. He wrote two copies of the Gospels, and bound them in silver and
gold adorned with various figures. Brother Walter of Colchester, with
Randulph, Gubium and others, produced some very handsome paintings
comprising the evangelists and many holy saints, and hung them up in the
church. "As we have before mentioned, by the care and industry of the
lord Raymond, many noble and useful books were transcribed and given to
the monastery. The most remarkable of these was a Historia Scholastica,
with allegorics, a most elegant book--_liber elegantissimus_ exclaims my
monkish authority."[404] This leads me to say something more of my lord
prior, for the troubles which the conscientious conduct of old Raymond
brought upon himself--

    "Implores the passing tribute of a sigh."

Be it known then that William de Trompington succeeded to the abbacy on
the death of John; but he was a very different man, without much esteem
for learning; and thinking I am afraid far more of the world and heaven
or the _Domus Dei_. Alas! memoirs of bad monks and worldly abbots are
sometimes found blotting the holy pages of the monkish annals. _Domus Dei
est porta coeli_, said the monks; and when they closed the convent
gates they did not look back on the world again, but entered on that dull
and gloomy path with a full conviction that they were leaving all and
following Christ, and so acting in accordance with his admonitions; but
those who sought the convent to forget in its solitude their worldly
cares and worldly disappointments, too often found how futile and how
ineffectual was that dismal life to eradicate the grief of an
overburdened heart, or to subdue the violence of misguided temper. The
austerity of the monastic rules might tend to conquer passion or moderate
despair, but there was little within those walls to drive painful
recollections of the outward world away; for at every interval between
their holy meditations and their monkish duties, images of the earth
would crowd back upon their minds, and wring from their ascetic hearts
tributes of anguish and despair; and so we find the writings and letters
of the old monks full of vain regrets and misanthropic thoughts, but
sometimes overflowing with the most touching pathos of human misery. Yet
the monk knew full well what his duty was, and knew how sinful it was to
repine or rebel against the will of God. If he vowed obedience to his
abbot, he did not forget that obedience was doubly due to Him; and strove
with all the strength that weak humanity could muster, to forget the
darkness of the past by looking forward with a pious hope and a lively
faith to the brightness and glory of the future. By constant prayer the
monk thought more of his God, and gained help to strengthen the faith
within him; and by assiduous and devoted study he disciplined his heart
of flesh--tore from it what lingering affection for the world remained,
and deserting all love of earth and all love of kin, purged and purified
it for his holy calling, and closed its portals to render it inaccessible
to all sympathy of blood. If a thought of those shut out from him by the
monastic walls stole across his soul and mingled with his prayer, he
started and trembled as if he had offered up an unholy desire in the
supplication. To him it was a proof that his nature was not yet subdued;
and a day of study and meditation, with a fast unbroken till the rays of
the morrow's sun cast their light around his little cell, absolved the
sin, and broke the tie that bound him to the world without.

If this violence was experienced in subduing the tenderest of human
sympathy; how much more severe was the conflict of dark passions only
half subdued, or malignant depravity only partially reformed. These dark
lines of human nature were sometimes prominent, even when the monk was
clothed in sackcloth and ashes; and are markedly visible in the life of
William de Trompington. But let not the reader think that he was
appointed with the hearty suffrages of the fraternity, he was elected at
the recommendation of the "king," a very significant term in those days
of despotic rule, at which choice became a mere farce. "Out of the
fulness of the heart the mouth speaketh;" and the monks soon began to
perceive with regret and trembling the worldly ways of the new abbot,
which he could not hide even under his abbatical robes. In a place
dedicated to holy deeds and heavenly thoughts, worldly conduct or
unbridled passion strikes the mind as doubly criminal, and loads the
heart with dismay and suffering; at least so my lord Prior regarded it,
whose righteous indignation could no longer endure these manifestations
of a worldly mind. So he gently remonstrated with his superior, and
hinted at the impropriety of such conduct. This was received not in
Christian fellowship, but with haughty and passionate displeasure; and
from that day the fate of poor Raymond was irrevocably sealed. The abbot
thinking to suppress the dissatisfaction which was now becoming general
and particularly inconvenient, sent him a long distance off to the cell
of Tynmouth in Northumberland, where all were strangers to him. Nor could
the tears of the old man turn the heart of his cruel lord, nor the
rebellious murmurings of the brothers avail. Thank God such cases are not
very frequent; and the reader of monkish annals will not find many
instances of such cold and unfeeling cruelty to distress his studies or
to arouse his indignation. But obedience was a matter of course in the
monastery; it was one of the most imperative duties of the monk, and if
not cheerfully he was compelled to manifest alacrity in fulfilling even
the most unpleasant mandate. But I would have forgiven this transaction
on the score of _expediency_ perhaps, had not the abbot heaped additional
insults and cruelties upon the aged offender; but his books which he had
transcribed with great diligence and care, he forcibly deprived him of,
_violenter spoliatum_, and so robbed him, as his historian says, of all
those things which would have been a comfort and solace to his old

The books which the abbot thus became dishonestly possessed of--for I
cannot regard it in any other light--we are told he gave to the library
of the monastery; and he also presented some books to more than one
neighboring church.[406] But he was not bookworm himself, and dwelt I
suspect with greater fondness over his wealthy rent roll than on the
pages of the fine volumes in the monastic library. The monks, however,
amidst all these troubles retained their love of books; indeed it was
about this time that John de Basingstoke, who had studied at Athens,
brought a valuable collection of Greek books into England, and greatly
aided in diffusing a knowledge of that language into this country. He was
deacon of Saint Albans, and taught many of the monks Greek; Nicholas, a
chaplain there, became so proficient in it, that he was capable of
greatly assisting bishop Grostete in translating his Testament of the
twelve patriarchs into Latin.[407]

Roger de Northone, the twenty-fourth abbot of Saint Albans, gave "many
valuable and choice books to the monastery," and among them the
commentaries of Raymond, Godfrey, and Bernard, and a book containing the
works and discourses of Seneca. His bibliomaniacal propensities, and his
industry in transcribing books, is indicated by an illumination
representing this worthy abbot deeply engrossed with his ponderous

I have elsewhere related an anecdote of Wallingford, abbot of St. Albans,
and the sale of books effected between him and Richard de Bury. It
appears that rare and munificent collector gave many and various noble
books, _multos et varios libros nobiles_, to the monastery of St. Albans
whilst he was bishop of Durham.[409] Michael de Wentmore succeeded
Wallingford, and proved a very valuable benefactor to the monastery; and
by wise regulations and economy greatly increased the comforts and good
order of the abbey. He gave many books, _plures libros_, to the library,
besides two excellent Bibles,[410] one for the convent and one for the
abbot's study, and to be kept especially for his private reading; an
ordinal, very beautiful to look upon, being sumptuously bound.[411]
Indeed, so _multis voluminibus_ did he bestow, that he expended more than
100_l._ in this way, an immense sum in those old days, when a halfpenny a
day was deemed fair wages for a scribe.[412]

Wentmore was succeeded by Thomas de la Mare, a man of singular learning,
and remarkable as a patron of it in others; it was probably by his
direction that John of Tynmouth wrote his Sanctilogium Britannæ, for that
work was dedicated to him. A copy, presented by Thomas de la Mare to the
church of Redburn, is in the British Museum, much injured by fire, but
retaining at the end the following lines:

     "Hunc librum dedet Dominus Thomas de la Mare, Albas monasterii S.
     Albani Anglorum Proto martyris Deo et Ecclesiæ B. Amphibali de
     Redburn, ut fratris indem in cursu existentus per ejus lecturam
     poterint coelestibus instrui, et per Sanctorum exempla
     virtutibus insignixi."[413]

But there are few who have obtained so much reputation as John de
Whethamstede, perhaps the most learned abbot of this monastery. He was
formerly monk of the cell at Tynmouth, and afterwards prior of Gloucester
College at Oxford, from whence he was appointed to the government of St.
Albans. Whethamstede was a passionate bibliomaniac, and when surrounded
with his books he cared little, or perhaps from the absence of mind so
often engendered by the delights of study, he too frequently forgot, the
important affairs of his monastery, and the responsible duties of an
abbot; but absorbed as he was with his studies, Whethamstede was not a

    ..... "Bookful blockhead ignorantly read
    With loads of learned lumber in his head."

It is true he was an inveterate reader, amorously inclined towards vellum
tomes and illuminated parchments; but he did not covet them like some
collectors for the mere pride of possessing them, but gloried in feasting
on their intellectual charms and delectable wisdom, and sought in their
attractive pages the means of becoming a better Christian and a wiser
man. But he was so excessively fond of books, and became so deeply
engrossed with his book-collecting pursuits, that it is said some of the
monks showed a little dissatisfaction at his consequent neglect of the
affairs of the monastery; but these are faults I cannot find the heart to
blame him for, but am inclined to consider his conduct fully redeemed by
the valuable encouragement he gave to literature and learning. Generous
to a fault, abundant in good deeds and costly expenditure, he became
involved in pecuniary difficulties, and found that the splendor and
wealth which he had scattered so lavishly around his monastery, and the
treasures with which he had adorned the library shelves, had not only
drained his ample coffers, but left a large balance unsatisfied.
Influenced by this circumstance, and the murmurings of the monks, and
perhaps too, hoping to obtain more time for study and book-collecting, he
determined to resign his abbacy, and again become a simple brother. The
proceedings relative to this affair are curiously related by a
contemporary, John of Amersham.[414] In Whethamstede's address to the
monks on this occasion, he thus explains his reasons for the step he was
about to take. After a touching address, wherein he intimates his
determination, he says,[415] "Ye have known moreover how, from the first
day of my appointment even until this day, assiduously and continually
without any intermission I have shown singular solicitude in four things,
to wit, in the erection of conventual buildings, _in the writing of
books_, in the renewal of vestments, and in the acquisition of property.
And perhaps, by reason of this solicitude of mine, ye conceive that I
have fallen into debt; yet that you may know, learn and understand what
is in this matter the certain and plain truth, and when ye know it ye may
report it unto others, know ye for certain, yea, for most certain, that
for all these things about which, and in which I have expended money, I
am not indebted to any one living more than 10,000 marks; but that I wish
freely to acknowledge this debt, and so to make satisfaction to every
creditor, that no survivor of any one in the world shall have to demand
anything from my successor."

The monks on hearing this declaration were sorely affected, and used
every persuasion to induce my lord abbot to alter his determination, but
without success; so that they were compelled to seek another in whom to
confide the government of their abbey. Their choice fell upon John
Stokes, who presided over them for many years; but at his death the love
and respect which the brothers entertained for Whethamstede, was
manifested by unanimously electing him again, an honor which he in return
could not find the heart to decline. But during all this time, and after
his restoration, he was constantly attending to the acquisition of books,
and numerous were the transcripts made under his direction by the scribes
and enriched by his munificence, for some of the most costly copies
produced in that century were the fruits of their labor; during his time
there were more volumes transcribed than in that of any other abbot since
the foundation of the abbey, says the manuscript from whence I am
gleaning these details, and adds that the number of them exceeded
eighty-seven. He commenced the transcription of the great commentary of
Nicholas de Lyra upon the whole Bible, which had then been published some
few years. "Det Deus, ut in nostris felicem habere valeat
consummacionem,"[416] exclaims the monk, nor will the reader be surprised
at the expression, if he for one moment contemplates the magnitude of the

But not only was Whethamstede remarkable as a bibliomaniac--he claims
considerable respect as an author. Some of his productions were more
esteemed in his own time than now; being compilations and commentaries
more adapted as a substitute for other books, than valuable as original
works. Under this class I am inclined to place his Granarium, a large
work in five volumes; full of miscellaneous extracts, etc., and somewhat
partaking of the encyclopediac form; his Propinarium, in two volumes,
also treating of general matters; his Pabularium and Palearium Poetarium,
and his Proverbiarium, or book of Proverbs; to which may be added the
many pieces relating to the affairs of the monastery. But far different
must we regard many of his other productions, which are more important in
a literary point of view, as calling for the exercise of a refined and
cultivated mind, and no small share of critical acumen. Among these I
must not forget to include his Chronicle,[417] which spreading over a
space of twenty years, forms a valuable historical document. The rest are
poetical narratives, embracing an account of Jack Cade's
insurrection--the battles of Ferrybridge, Wakefield, and St. Albans.[418]

A Cottonian manuscript contained a catalogue of the books which this
worthy abbot compiled, or which were transcribed under his direction:
unfortunately it was burnt, with many others forming part of that
inestimable collection.[419] From another source we learn the names of
some of them, and the cost incurred in their transcription.[420] Twenty
marks were paid for copying his Granarium, in four volumes; forty
shillings for his Palearium; the same for a Polycraticon of John of
Salisbury; five pounds for a Boethius, with a gloss; upwards of six
pounds for "a book of Cato," enriched with a gloss and table; and four
pounds for Gorham upon Luke. Whethamstede ordered a Grael to be written
so beautifully illuminated, and so superbly bound, as to be valued at the
enormous sum of twenty pounds: but let it be remembered that my Lord
Abbot was a very epicure in books, and thought a great deal of choice
bindings, tall copies, immaculate parchment, and brilliant illuminations,
and the high prices which he freely gave for these book treasures evince
how sensible he was to the joys of bibliomania; nor am I inclined to
regard the works thus attained as "mere monastic trash."[421]

The finest illumination in the Cotton manuscript is a portrait of Abbot
Whethamstede, which for artistic talent is far superior to any in the
volume. Eight folios are occupied with an enumeration of the "good
works" of this liberal monk: among the items we find the sum of forty
pounds having been expended on a reading desk, and four pounds for
writing four Antiphoners.[422] He displayed also great liberality of
spirit in his benefactions to Gloucester College, at Oxford, besides
great pecuniary aid. He built a library there, and gave many valuable
books for the use of the students, in which he wrote these verses:

    Fratribus Oxonioe datur in minus liber iste,
    Per patrem pecorem prothomartyris Angligenorum:
    Quem si quis rapiat ad partem sive reponat,
    Vel Judæ loqueum, vel furcas sentiat; Amen.

In others he wrote--

    Discior ut docti fieret nova regia plebi
    Culta magisque deæ datur hic liber ara Minerva,
    Hic qui diis dictis libant holocausta ministrias.
    Et cirre bibulam sitiunt præ nectare lympham,
    Estque librique loci, idem datur, actor et unus.[423]

If we estimate worth by comparison, we must award a large proportion to
this learned abbot. Living in the most corrupt age of the monastic
system, when the evils attendant on luxurious ease began to be too
obvious in the cloister, and when complaints were heard at first in a
whispering murmur, but anon in a stern loud voice of wroth and indignant
remonstrance--when in fact the progressive, inquiring spirit of the
reformation was taking root in what had hitherto been regarded as a hard,
dry, stony soil. This coming tempest, only heard as yet like the lulling
of a whisper, was nevertheless sufficiently loud to spread terror and
dismay among the cowled habitants of the monasteries. That quietude and
mental ease so indispensable to study--so requisite for the growth of
thought and intellectuality, was disturbed by these distant sounds, or
dissipated by their own indolence. And yet in the midst of all this,
rendered still more anxious and perplexing by domestic troubles and signs
of discontent and insubordination among the monks. Whethamstede found
time, and what was better the spirit, for literary and bibliomanical
pursuits. Honor to the man, monk though he be, who oppressed with these
vicissitudes and cares could effect so much, and could appreciate both
literature and art.

Contemporary with him we are not surprised that he gained the patronage
and friendship of Humphrey Duke of Gloucester, to whom he dedicated many
of his own performances, and greatly aided in collecting those treasures
which the duke regarded with such esteem. It is said that noble collector
frequently paid a friendly visit to the abbey to inspect the work of the
monkish scribes, and perhaps to negociate for some of those choice vellum
tomes for which the monks of that monastery were so renowned.

But we must not pass the "good duke" without some slight notice of his
"ryghte valiant deedes," his domestic troubles and his dark mysterious
end. Old Foxe thus speaks of him in his Actes and Monuments: "Of manners
he seemed meeke and gentle, louing the commonwealth, a supporter of the
poore commons, of wit and wisdom, discrete and studious, well affected to
religion and a friend to verity, and no lesse enemy to pride and
ambition, especially in haughtie prelates, which was his undoing in this
present evil world. And, which is seldom and rare in such princes of that
calling, he was both learned himselfe and no lesse given to studie, and
also a singular favourer and patron to those who were studious and
learned."[424] To which I cannot refrain from adding the testimony of
Hollingshed, who tells us that "The ornaments of his mind were both rare
and admirable; the feats of chiualrie by him commensed and atchiued
valiant and fortunate; his grauitie in counsell and soundnesse of policie
profound and singular; all which with a traine of other excellent
properties linked together, require a man of manifold gifts to aduance
them according to their dignitie. I refer the readers unto Maister Foxe's
booke of Actes and Monuments. Onelie this I ad, that in respect of his
noble indowments and his demeanor full of decencie, which he dailie used,
it seemeth he might wel haue giuen this prettie poesie:"

    "Virtute duce non sanguine nitor."[425]

But with all these high qualities, our notions of propriety are somewhat
shocked at the open manner in which he kept his mistress Eleanor Cobham;
but we can scarcely agree in the condemnation of the generality of
historians for his marrying her afterwards, but regard it rather as the
action of an honorable man, desirous of making every reparation in his
power.[426] But the "pride of birth" was sorely wounded by the espousals;
and the enmity of the aristocracy already roused, now became deeply
rooted. Eleanor's disposition is represented as passionate and
unreasonable, and her mind sordid and oppressive. Be this how it may, we
must remember that it is from her enemies we learn it; and if so,
unrelenting persecution and inveterate malice were proceedings ill
calculated to soothe a temper prone to violence, or to elevate a mind
undoubtedly weak. But the vindictive and haughty cardinal Beaufort was
the open and secret enemy of the good duke Humphrey; for not only did he
thwart every public measure proposed by his rival, but employed spies to
insinuate themselves into his domestic circle, and to note and inform him
of every little circumstance which malice could distort into crime, or
party rage into treason. This detestable espionage met with a too speedy
success. The duke, who was especially fond of the society of learned men,
retained in his family many priests and clerks, and among them one Roger
Bolingbroke, "a famous necromancer and astronomer." This was a sufficient
ground for the enmity of the cardinal to feed upon, and he determined to
annihilate at one blow the domestic happiness of his rival. He arrested
the Duchess, Bolingbroke, and a witch called Margery Gourdimain, or
Jourdayn, on the charge of witchcraft and treason. He accused the priest
and Margery of making, and the duchess for having in her possession, a
waxen figure, which, as she melted it before a slow fire, so would the
body of the king waste and decay, and his marrow wither in his bones. Her
enemies tried her, and of course found her and her companions guilty,
though without a shred of evidence to the purpose. The duchess was
sentenced to do penance in St. Paul's and two other churches on three
separate days, and to be afterwards imprisoned in the Isle of Man for
life. Bolingbroke, who protested his innocence to the last, was hung and
quartered at Tyburn; and Margery, the witch of Eye, as she was called,
was burnt at Smithfield. But the black enmity of the cardinal was sorely
disappointed at the effect produced by this persecution. He reasonably
judged that no accusation was so likely to arouse a popular prejudice
against duke Humphrey as appealing to the superstition of the people who
in that age were ever prone to receive the most incredulous fabrications;
but far different was the impression made in the present case. The people
with more than their usual sagacity saw through the flimsy designs of the
cardinal and his faction; and while they pitied the victims of party
malice, loved and esteemed the good duke Humphrey more than ever.

But the intriguing heart of Beaufort soon resolved upon the most
desperate measures, and shrunk not from staining his priestly hands with
innocent and honorable blood. A parliament was summoned to meet at St.
Edmunds Bury, in Suffolk, on the 10th of February, 1447, at which all the
nobility were ordered to assemble. On the arrival of Duke Humphrey, the
cardinal arrested him on a groundless charge of high treason, and a few
days after he was found dead in his bed, his enemies gave out that he had
died of the palsy; but although his body was eagerly shown to the
sorrowing multitude, the people believed that their friend and favorite
had been foully murdered, and feared not to raise their voice in loud
accusations at the Suffolk party; "sum sayed that he was smouldered
betwixt two fetherbeddes,"[427] and others declared that he had suffered
a still more barbarous death. Deep was the murmuring and the grief of the
people, for the good duke had won the love and esteem of their hearts;
and we can fully believe a contemporary who writes--

    "Compleyne al Yngland thys goode Lorde's deth."[428]

Perhaps none suffered more by his death than the author and the scholar;
for Duke Humphrey was a munificent patron of letters, and loved to
correspond with learned men, many of whom dedicated their works to him,
and received ample encouragement in return.[429] Lydgate, who knew him
well, composed some of his pieces at the duke's instigation. In his
Tragedies of Ihon Bochas he thus speaks of him:

    "Duke of Glocester men this prynce call,
     And not withstandyng his estate and dignitie,
     His courage neuer dothe appall
     To study in bokes of antiquitie;
     Therein he hath so great felicitie,
     Virtuously him selfe to occupye,
     Of vycious slouthe, he hath the maistry.

     And for these causes as in his entent
     To shewe the untrust of all worldly thinge,
     He gave to me in commandment
     As him seemed it was ryghte well fittynge
     That I shoulde, after my small cunning,
     This boke translate, him to do pleasaunce,
     To shew the chaung of worldly variaunce.

     And with support of his magnificence
     Under the wynges of his correction,
     Though that I lacke of eloquence
     I shall proceede in this translation.
     Fro me auoydyng all presumption,
     Louyly submittying every houre and space,
     My rude language to my lorde's grace.

     Anone after I of eutencion,
     With penne in hande fast gan me spede,
     As I coulde in my translation,
     In this labour further to procede,
     My Lorde came forth by and gan to take hede;
     This mighty prince right manly and right wise
     Gaue me charge in his prudent auyle.

     That I should in euery tragedy,
     After the processe made mencion,
     At the ende set a remedy,
     With a Lenuoy, conveyed by reason;
     And after that, with humble affection,
     To noble princes lowly it dyrect,
     By others fallying them selues to correct.

     And I obeyed his biddyng and pleasaunce
     Under support of his magnificence,
     As I coulde, I gan my penne aduaunce,
     All be I was barrayne of eloquence,
     Folowing mine auctor in substance and sétence,
     For it sufficeth playnly unto me,
     So that my lorde my makyng take in gre."[430]

Lydgate often received money whilst translating this work, from the good
duke Humphrey, and there is a manuscript letter in the British Museum in
which he writes--

    "Righte myghty prynce, and it be youre wille,
     Condescende leyser for to take,
     To se the contents of thys litel bille,
     Whiche whan I wrote my hand felt qquake."[431]

Duke Humphrey gave a noble instance of his great love of learning in the
year 1439, when he presented to the University of Oxford one hundred and
twenty-nine treatises, and shortly after, one hundred and twenty-six
_admirandi apparatus_; and in the same year, nine more. In 1443, he made
another important donation of one hundred and thirty volumes, to which he
added one hundred and thirty-five more,[432] making in all, a collection
of five hundred and thirty-eight volumes. These treasures, too, had been
collected with all the nice acumen of a bibliomaniac, and the utmost
attention was paid to their outward condition and internal purity. Never,
perhaps, were so many costly copies seen before, dazzling with the
splendor of their illuminations, and rendered inestimable by the many
faithful miniatures with which they were enriched. A superb copy of
Valerius Maximus is the only relic of that costly and noble gift, a
solitary but illustrious example of the membraneous treasures of that
ducal library.[433] But alas! those very indications of art, those
exquisite illuminations, were the fatal cause of their unfortunate end;
the portraits of kings and eminent men, with which the historical works
were adorned; the diagrams which pervaded the scientific treatises, were
viewed by the zealous reformers of Henry's reign, as damning evidence of
their Popish origin and use; and released from the chains with which they
were secured, they were hastily committed to the greedy flames. Thus
perished the library of Humphrey, duke of Gloucester! and posterity have
to mourn the loss of many an early gem of English literature.[434]

But in the fourteenth century many other honorable examples occur of lay
collectors. The magnificent volumes, nine hundred in number, collected
by Charles V. of France, a passionate bibliomaniac, were afterwards
brought by the duke of Bedford into England. The library then contained
eight hundred and fifty-three volumes, so sumptuously bound and
gorgeously illuminated as to be valued at 2,223 livres![435] This choice
importation diffused an eager spirit of inquiry among the more wealthy
laymen. Humphrey, the "good duke," received some of these volumes as
presents, and among others, a rich copy of Livy, in French.[436] Guy
Beauchamp, Earl of Warwick, also collected some choice tomes, and
possessed an unusually interesting library of early romances. He left the
whole of them to the monks of Bordesley Abbey in Worcestershire, about
the year 1359.[437] As a specimen of a private library in the fourteenth
century, I am tempted to extract it.

"A tus iceux, qe ceste lettre verront, ou orrount, Gwy de Beauchamp,
Comte de Warr. Saluz en Deu. Saluz nous aveir baylé e en la garde le Abbé
e le Covent de Bordesleye, lessé à demorer a touz jours touz les
Romaunces de sonz nomes; ceo est assaveyr, un volum, qe est appelé
Tresor. Un volum, en le quel est le premer livere de Lancelot, e un volum
del Romaunce de Aygnes. Un Sauter de Romaunce. Un volum des Evangelies, e
de Vie des Seins. Un volum, qe p'le des quatre principals Gestes de
Charles, e de dooun, e de Meyace e de Girard de Vienne e de Emery de
Nerbonne. Un volum del Romaunce Emmond de Ageland, e deu Roy Charles
dooun de Nauntoyle. E le Romaunce de Gwyoun de Nauntoyl. E un volum del
Romaunce Titus et Vespasien. E un volum del Romaunce Josep ab Arimathie,
e deu Seint Grael. E un volum, qe p'le coment Adam fust eniesté hors de
paradys, e le Genesie. E un volum en le quel sount contenuz touns des
Romaunces, ceo este assaveir, Vitas patrum au comencement; e pus un Comte
de Auteypt; e la Vision Seint Pol; et pus les Vies des xii. Seins. E le
Romaunce de Willame de Loungespe. E Autorites des Seins humes. E le
Mirour de Alme. Un volum, en le quel sount contenuz la Vie Seint Pére e
Seint Pol, e des autres liv. E un volum qe est appelé l'Apocalips. E un
livere de Phisik, e de Surgie. Un volum del Romaunce de Gwy, e de la
Reygne tut enterement. Un volum del Romaunce de Troies. Un volum del
Romaunce de Willame de Orenges e de Teband de Arabie. Un volum del
Romaunce de Amase e de Idoine. Un volum del Romaunce de Girard de Viene.
Un volum del Romaunce deu Brut, e del Roy Costentine. Un volum de le
enseignemt Aristotle enveiez au Roy Alisaundre. Un volum de la mort ly
Roy Arthur, e de Mordret. Un volum en le quel sount contenuz les
Enfaunces de Nostre Seygneur, coment il fust mené en Egipt. E la Vie
Seint Edwd. E la Visioun Seint Pol. La Vengeaunce n're Seygneur par
Vespasien a Titus, e la Vie Seint Nicolas, qe fust nez en Patras. E la
Vie Seint Eustace. E la Vie Seint Cudlac. E la Passioun n're Seygneur. E
la Meditacioun Seint Bernard de n're Dame Seint Marie, e del Passioun
sour deuz fiz Jesu Creist n're Seignr. E la Vie Seint Eufrasie. E la Vie
Seint Radegounde. E la Vie Seint Juliane. Un volum, en le quel est aprise
de Enfants et lumière à Lays. Un volum del Romaunce d'a Alisaundre, ove
peintures. Un petit rouge livere, en le quel sount contenuz mons diverses
choses. Un volum del Romaunce des Mareschans, e de Ferebras e de
Alisaundre. Les queus livres nous grauntons par nos heyrs e par nos
assignes qil demorront en la dit Abbeye, etc."


[385] See a fine manuscript in the Cotton collection marked Nero D.
      vii., and another marked Claudius E. iv., both of which I have

[386] Matthew Paris' Edit. Wats, tom. i. p. 39.

[387] "Asserens ad cantelam, ipsum fuisse beati Amphibali, beate
      Albini magistri, caracellam."--Mat. Paris, p. 44.

[388] Abjectis igitur et combustis libris, in quibus commenta
      diaboli continabantur.

[389] MS. Cottonian, E. iv. fo. 101; Mat. Paris, Edit. Wat. i. p.

[390] MS. Cottanian Claudius, E. iv. fo. 105 b., and MS. Cott. Nero,
      D. vii. fo. 13, b.

[391] He was elected in 1093.--See MS. Cott. Claud. E. iv. fo. 107.

[392] Got. MS. Claud. E. iv. fo. 108.

[393] MS. Cot. Nero, D. vii. fo. 15, a; and MS. Cot. Claud. e. iv.

[394] Cot. MS. Claud. E. iv. fo. 113. "Ex tunc igitur amator
      librorum et adquisiter sedulus multio voluminibus habundavit."

[395] Fecit etiam scribi libros plurimos; quos longum esset
      enarrare.--_Mat. Paris Edit. Wat._ p. 89.

[396] Cot. MS. Nero D. vii. fo. 16, a.

[397] MS. Claud. E. iv. fo. 114, a.

[398] MS. Cot. Claud. E. iv. fo. 125 b.

[399] _Ibid._

[400] MS. Cot. Nero D. vii. fo. 16 a.

[401] MS. Cot. Claud. iv. fo. 124.

[402] Claud. E. iv. fo. 124.

[403] "In grammatica Priscianus, in metrico Ovidius, in physica
      censori potuit Galenus." _MS. Cot. Claud._ E. iv. f. 129, b. _Matt.
      Paris' Edit. Wat._ p. 103.

[404] MS. Cot. Claud. E. iv. fo. 131. b.

[405] MS. Cot. Claud. E. iv. fol. 135 b.

[406] Ibid. fol. 141.

[407] MS. Reg. Brit. Mus. 4 D. viii. 4. Wood's Hist. Oxon. 1-82, and
      Matt. Paris. Turner's Hist. of Eng. vol. iv. p. 180.

[408] MS. Cot. Nero, D. vii. fol. 19 a.

[409] Ibid. fol. 86.

[410] Duos bonas biblias.

[411] MS. Cot. Claud. E. iv. fo. 229 b.

[412] MS. Cot. Nero D. vii. fo. 20 b.

[413] MS. Cot. Tiberius, E. i.

[414] MS. Cot. Claud. D. i. fo. 165, "Acta Johannis Abbatis per
      Johannem Agmundishamensem monachum S. Albani."

[415] Gibson's Hist. Monast. Tynmouth, vol. ii. p. 62, whose
      translation I use in giving the following extract. If the reader
      refers to Mr. Gibson's handsome volumes, he will find much
      interesting and curious matter from John of Amersham relative to
      this matter.

[416] Otterb. cxvi.; see also MS. Cot. Nero. vii. fo. 32 a.

[417] Otterbourne Hist. a Hearne, _edit._ Oxon, 1732, tom. i. 2.

[418] Gough's Sepulchral Monuments, vol. ii. pt. 11, p. 205. For a
      list of his works see Bale; also Pits. p. 630, who enumerates more
      than thirty.

[419] Marked Otho, b. iv.

[420] MS. Arundel. Brit. Mus. clxiii. c. A curious Register, "per
      magistrum Johannem Whethamstede et dominum Thoman Ramryge," fo. 74,
      75. Upwards of fifty volumes are specified, with the cost of each.

[421] Julius Cæsar was among them.--Cot. MS. Claud. d. i. fo. 156.

[422] MS. Cod. Nero, D. vii. fo. 28 a. He "enlarged the abbot's
      study," fo. 29, which most monasteries possessed. Whethamstede had a
      study also at his manor at Tittinhanger, and had inscribed on it
      these lines:

         "Ipse Johannis amor Whethamstede ubique proclamor
          Ejus et alter honor hic lucis in auge reponer."

      See also MS. Cot. Claud. D. i. fo. 157, for an account of his many

[423] Weever's Funerall Monuments, p. 562 to 567. I have forgotten
      to mention before that Whethamstede built a new library for the
      abbey books, and expended considerably more than £120 upon the

[424] Foxe's Actes and Monuments, folio, Lond. 1576, p. 679.

[425] Holingshed Chronicle, fol. 1587, vol. ii. p. 627.

[426] See Stowe, p. 367.

[427] Leland Collect. vol. i. p. 494.

[428] MS. Harleian, No. 2251, fol. 7 b.

[429] Capgrave's Commentary on Genesis, in Oriel College, Cod. MSS.
      32, is dedicated to him. Aretine's Trans. Aristotle's Politics, MS.
      Bodl. D. i. 8-10. Pet. de Monte de Virt. de Vit. MS. Norvic. More,
      257. Bibl. publi Cantab. Many others are given in Warton's Hist. of
      Poetry, 4to. vol. ii. pp. 48-50.

[430] Tragedies of Ihon Bochas. Imp. at London, by John Wayland,
      fol. 38 b.

[431] MS. Harleian, No. 2251, fol. 6. Lydgate received one hundred
      shillings for translating the Life of St. Alban into English verse
      for Whethamstede.

[432] See Wood's Hist. and Antiq. of Oxford, vol. ii. p. 914.

[433] MSS. Bodl. N. E. vii. ii. Warton, vol. ii. p. 45. I find in
      the Arundel Register in the British Museum (MSS. Arund. clxiii. c.)
      that a fine copy of Valerius, in two volumes, with a gloss, was
      transcribed in the time of Whethamstede at St. Albans, at the cost
      of £6 13 4, probably the identical copy.

[434] There are many volumes formerly belonging to duke Humphrey, in
      the public libraries, a fine volume intitled "Tabulas Humfridi ducis
      Glowcester in Judicus artis Geomantie," is in the Brit. Mus., MSS.
      Arund. 66, fo. 277, beautifully written and illuminated with
      excessive margins of the purest vellum. See also MSS. Harl. 1705.
      Leland says, "Humfredus multaties scripsit in frontispiecis librorum
      suorum, _Moun bien Mondain_," Script. vol. iii. 58.

[435] Bouvin, Mem. de l'Acad. des Inscrip., ii. 693.

[436] _Ibid._

[437] Printed in Todd's Illustrations to Gower and Chaucer, 8vo. p.
      161, from a copy by Arch Sancroft, from Ashmole's Register of the
      Earl of Ailesbury's Evidences, fol. 110. Lambeth, MSS., No. 577.
      fol. 18 b.


     _The Dominicans.--The Franciscans and the Carmelites.--Scholastic
     Studies.--Robert Grostest.--Libraries in London.--Miracle
     Plays.--Introduction of Printing into England.--Barkley's
     Description of a Bibliomaniac_.

The old monastic orders of St. Augustine and St. Benedict, of whose love
of books we have principally spoken hitherto, were kept from falling into
sloth and ignorance in the thirteenth century by the appearance of
several new orders of devotees. The Dominicans,[438] the
Franciscans,[439] and the Carmelites were each renowned for their
profound learning, and their unquenchable passion for knowledge; assuming
a garb of the most abject poverty, renouncing all love of the world, all
participation in its temporal honors, and refraining to seek the
aggrandizement of their order by fixed oblations or state endowments, but
adhering to a voluntary system for support, they caused a visible
sensation among all classes, and wrought a powerful change in the
ecclesiastical and collegiate learning of the fourteenth and fifteenth
centuries; and by their devotion, their charity, their strict austerity,
and by their brilliant and unconquerable powers of disputation, soon
gained the respect and affections of the people.[440]

Much as the friars have been condemned, or darkly as they have been
represented, I have no hesitation in saying that they did more for the
revival of learning, and the progress of English literature, than any
other of the monastic orders. We cannot trace their course without
admiration and astonishment at their splendid triumphs and success; they
appear to act as intellectual crusaders against the prevailing ignorance
and sloth. The finest names that adorn the literary annals of the
fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, the most prolific authors who
flourished during that long period were begging friars; and the very
spirit that was raised against them by the churchmen, and the severe
controversal battles which they had between them, were the means of doing
a vast amount of good, of exposing ignorance in high places, and
compelling those who enjoyed the honors of learning to strive to merit
them, by a studious application to literature and science; need I do more
than mention the shining names of Duns Scotus, of Thomas Aquinas, of
Roger Bacon, the founder of experimental philosophy, and the justly
celebrated Robert Grostest, the most enlightened ecclesiastic of his

We may not admire the scholastic philosophy which the followers of
Francis and Dominic held and expounded; we may deplore the intricate
mazes and difficulties which a false philosophy led them to maintain, and
we may equally deplore the waste of time and learning which they lavished
in the vain hope of solving the mysteries of God, or in comprehending a
loose and futile science. Yet the philosophy of the schoolmen is but
little understood, and is too often condemned without reason or without
proof; for those who trouble themselves to denounce, seldom care to read
them; their ponderous volumes are too formidable to analyze; it is so
much easier to declaim than to examine such sturdy antagonists; but we
owe to the schoolmen far more than we are apt to suppose, and if it were
possible to scratch their names from the page of history, and to
obliterate all traces of their bulky writings from our libraries and
from our literature, we should find our knowledge dark and gloomy in
comparison with what it is.

But the mendicant orders did not study and uphold the scholastic
philosophy without improving it; the works of Aristotle, of which it is
said the early schoolmen possessed only a vitiated translation from the
Arabic,[442] was, at the period these friars sprung up, but imperfectly
understood and taught. Michael Scot, with the assistance of a learned
Jew,[443] translated and published the writings of the great philosopher
in Latin, which greatly superseded the old versions derived from the
Saracen copies.

The mendicant friars having qualified themselves with a respectable share
of Greek learning, then taught and expounded the Aristotelian philosophy
according to this new translation, and opened a new and proscribed
field[444] for disputation and enquiry; their indomitable perseverance,
their acute powers of reasoning, and the splendid popularity which many
of the disciples of St. Dominic and St. Francis were fast acquiring,
caused students to flock in crowds to their seats of learning, and all
who were inspired to an acquaintance with scholastic philosophy placed
themselves under their training and tuition.[445]

No religious order before them ever carried the spirit of inquiry to such
an extent as they, or allowed it to wander over such an unbounded field.
The most difficult and mysterious questions of theology were discussed
and fearlessly analyzed; far from exercising that blind and easy
credulity which mark the religious conduct of the old monastic orders,
they were disposed to probe and examine every article of their faith. To
such an extent were their disputations carried, that sometimes it shook
their faith in the orthodoxy of Rome, and often aroused the pious fears
of the more timid of their own order. Angell de Pisa, who founded the
school of the Franciscans or Grey Friars at Oxford, is said to have gone
one day into his school, with a view to discover what progress the
students were making in their studies; as he entered he found them warm
in disputation, and was shocked to find that the question at issue was
"_whether there was a God_;" the good man, greatly alarmed, cried out,
"Alas, for me! alas, for me! simple brothers pierce the heavens and the
learned dispute whether there be a God!" and with great indignation ran
out of the house blaming himself for having established a school for such
fearful disputes; but he afterwards returned and remained among his
pupils, and purchased for ten marks a corrected copy of the decretals,
to which he made his students apply their minds.[446] This school was the
most flourishing of those belonging to the Franciscans; and it was here
that the celebrated Robert Grostest[447], bishop of Lincoln, read
lectures about the year 1230. He was a profound scholar, thoroughly
conversant with the most abstruse matters of philosophy, and a great
Bible reader.[448] He possessed an extensive knowledge of the Greek, and
translated, into Latin, Dionysius the Areopagite, Damascenus, Suida's
Greek Lexicon, a Greek Grammar, and, with the assistance of Nicholas, a
monk of St. Alban's, the History of the Twelve Patriarchs. He collected a
fine library of Greek books, many of which he obtained from Athens. Roger
Bacon speaks of his knowledge of the Greek, and says, that he caused a
vast number of books to be gathered together in that tongue.[449] His
extraordinary talent and varied knowledge caused him to be deemed a
conjuror and astrologer by the ignorant and superstitious; and his
enemies, who were numerous and powerful, did not refuse to encourage the
slanderous report. We find him so represented by the poet Gower:--

    "For of the grete clerk Grostest,
     I rede how redy that he was
     Upon clergye, and bede of bras,
     To make and forge it, for to telle
     Of suche thynges as befelle,
     And seven yeres besinesse.
     Ye ladye, but for the lackhesse
     Of 'a halfe a mynute of an houre,
     Fro fyrst that he began laboure,
     Ye lost al that he had do."[450]

The Franciscan convent at Oxford contained two libraries, one for the use
of the graduates and one for the secular students, who did not belong to
their order, but who were receiving instruction from them. Grostest gave
many volumes to these libraries, and at his death he bequeathed to the
convent all his books, which formed no doubt a fine collection. "To these
were added," says Wood, "the works of Roger Bacon, who, Bale tells us,
writ an hundred Treatises. There were also volumes of other writers of
the same order, which, I believe, amounted to no small number. In short,
I guess that these libraries were filled with all sorts of erudition,
because the friars of all orders, and chiefly the Franciscans, used so
diligently to procure all monuments of literature from all parts, that
wise men looked upon it as an injury to laymen, who, therefore, found a
difficulty to get any books. Several books of Grostest and Bacon treated
of astronomy and mathematics, besides some relating to the Greek tongue.
But these friars, as I have found by certain ancient manuscripts, bought
many Hebrew books of the Jews who were disturbed in England. In a word,
they, to their utmost power, purchased whatsoever was anywhere to be had
of singular learning."[451]

Many of the smaller convents of the Franciscan order possessed
considerable libraries, which they purchased or received as gifts from
their patrons.[452] There was a house of Grey Friars at Exeter,[453] and
Roger de Thoris, Archdeacon of Exeter, gave or lent them a library of
books in the year 1266, soon after their establishment, reserving to
himself the privilege of using them, and forbade the friars from selling
or parting with them. The collection, however, contained less than twenty
volumes, and was formed principally of the scriptures and writings of
their own order. "Whosoever," concludes the document, "shall presume
hereafter to separate or destroy this donation of mine, may he incur the
malediction of the omnipotent God! dated on the day of the purification,
in the year of our Lord MCCLXVI."[454]

The library of the Grey Friars in London was of more than usual
magnificence and extent. It was founded by the celebrated Richard
Whittington. Its origin is thus set forth in an old manuscript in the
Cottonian library:[455]

"In the year of our Lord, 1421, the worshipful Richard Whyttyngton,
knight and mayor of London, began the new library and laid the first
foundation-stone on the 21st day of October; that is, on the feast of St.
Hilarion the abbot. And the following year before the feast of the
nativity of Christ, the house was raised and covered; and in three years
after, it was floored, whitewashed, glazed,[456] adorned with shelves,
statues, and carving, and furnished with books: and the expenses about
what is aforesaid amount to £556:16:9; of which sum, the aforesaid
Richard Whyttyngton paid £400, and the residue was paid by the reverend
father B. Thomas Winchelsey and his friends, to whose soul God be

Among some items of money expended, we find, "for the works of Doctor de
Lyra contained in two volumes, now in the chains,[457] 100 marks, of
which B. John Frensile remitted 20s.; and for the Lectures of Hostiensis,
now lying in the chains, 5 marks."[458] Leland speaks in the most
enthusiastic terms of this library, and says, that it far surpassed all
others for the number and antiquity of its volumes. John Wallden
bequeathed as many manuscripts of celebrated authors as were worth two
thousand pounds.[459]

The library of the Dominicans in London was also at one time well stored
with valuable books. Leland mentions some of those he found there, and
among them some writings of Wicliff;[460] indeed those of this order were
renowned far and wide for their love of study; look at the old portraits
of a Dominican friar, and you will generally see him with the pen in one
hand and a book in the other; but they were more ambitious in literature
than the monks, and aimed at the honors of an author rather than at those
of a scribe; but we are surprised more at their fertility than at their
style or originality in the mysteries of bookcraft. Henry Esseburn
diligently read at Oxford, and devoted his whole soul to study, and wrote
a number of works, principally on the Bible; he was appointed to govern
the Dominican monastery at Chester; "being remote from all schools, he
made use of his spare hours to revise and polish what he had writ at
Oxford; having performed the same to his own satisfaction, he caused his
works to be fairly transcribed, and copies of them to be preserved in
several libraries of his order."[461] But they did not usually pay so
much attention to the duties of transcribing. The Dominicans were fond of
the physical sciences, and have been accused of too much partiality for
occult philosophy. Leland tells us that Robert Perserutatur, a
Dominican, was over solicitous in prying into the secrets of
philosophy,[462] and lays the same charge to many others.

The Carmelites were more careful in transcribing books than the
Dominicans, and anxiously preserved them from dust and worms; but I can
find but little notice of their libraries; the one at Oxford was a large
room, where they arranged their books in cases made for that purpose;
before the foundation of this library, the Carmelites kept their books in
chests, and doubtless gloried in an ample store of manuscript

But in the fifteenth century we find the Mendicant Friars, like the order
religious sects, disregarding those strict principles of piety which had
for two hundred years so distinguished their order. The holy rules of St.
Francis and St. Dominic were seldom read with much attention, and never
practised with severity; they became careless in the propagation of
religious principles, relaxed in their austerity, and looked with too
much fondness on the riches and honors of the world.[464] This diminution
in religious zeal was naturally accompanied by a proportionate decrease
in learning and love of study. The sparkling orator, the acute
controversialist, or the profound scholar, might have been searched for
in vain among the Franciscans or the Dominicans of the fifteenth century.
Careless in literary matters, they thought little of collecting books, or
preserving even those which their libraries already contained; the
Franciscans at Oxford "sold many of their books to Dr. Thomas Gascoigne,
about the year 1433,[465] which he gave to the libraries of Lincoln,
Durham, Baliol, and Oriel. They also declining in strictness of life and
learning, sold many more to other persons, so that their libraries
declined to little or nothing."[466]

We are not therefore surprised at the disappointment of Leland, on
examining this famous repository; his expectations were raised by the
care with which he found the library guarded, and the difficulty he had
to obtain access to it: but when he entered, he did not find one-third
the number of books which it originally contained; but dust and cobwebs,
moths and beetles he found in abundance, which swarmed over the empty

The mendicant friars have rendered themselves famous by introducing
theatrical representations[468] for the amusement and instruction of the
people. These shows were usually denominated miracles, moralities, or
mysteries, and were performed by the friars in their convents or on
portable stages, which were wheeled into the market places and streets
for the convenience of the spectators.

The friars of the monastery of the Franciscans at Coventry are
particularly celebrated for their ingenuity in performing these pageants
on Corpus Christi day; a copy of this play or miracle is preserved in the
Cottonian Collection, written in old English rhyme. It embraces the
transactions of the Old and New Testament, and is entitled _Ludus Corpus
Christi_. It commences--


    Now gracyous God groundyd of all goodnesse,
      As thy grete glorie neuyr begynnyng had;
    So you succour and save all those that sytt and sese,
      And lystenyth to our talkyng with sylens stylle and sad,
    For we purpose no pertly stylle in his prese
      The pepyl to plese with pleys ful glad,
    Now lystenyth us lowly both mar and lesse
      Gentyllys and 3emaury off goodly lyff lad,
                      þis tyde,
    We call you shewe us that we kan,
      How that þis werd fyrst began,
    And howe God made bothe worlde and man
      If yt ye wyll abyde.

These miracles were intended to instruct the more ignorant, or those
whose circumstances placed the usual means of acquiring knowledge beyond
their reach; but as books became accessible, they were no longer needed;
the printing press made the Bible, from which the plots of the miracle
plays were usually derived, common among the people, and these gaudy
representations were swept away by the Reformation; but they were
temporarily revived in Queen Mary's time, with the other abominations of
the church papal, for we find that "in the year 1556 a goodly stage play
of the Passion of Christ was presented at the Grey Friers in London on
Corpus Christi day," before the Lord Mayor and citizens;[470] but we have
nothing here to do with anecdotes illustrating a period so late as this.

We have now arrived at the dawn of a new era in learning, and the slow,
plodding, laborious scribes of the monasteries were startled by the
appearance of an invention with which their poor pens had no power to
compete. The year 1472 was the last of the parchment literature of the
monks, and the first in the English annals of printed learning; but we
must not forget that the monks with all their sloth and ignorance, were
the foremost among the encouragers of the early printing press in
England; the monotony of the dull cloisters of Westminster Abbey was
broken by the clanking of Caxton's press; and the prayers of the monks of
old St. Albans mingled with the echoes of the pressman's labor. Little
did those barefooted priests know what an opponent to their Romish rites
they were fostering into life; their love of learning and passion for
books, drove all fear away; and the splendor of the new power so dazzled
their eyes that they could not clearly see the nature of the refulgent
light just bursting through the gloom of ages.

After the invention of the printing art, bibliomania took some mighty
strides; and many choice collectors, full of ardor in the pursuit, became
renowned for the vast book stores they amassed together. But some of
their names have been preserved and good deeds chronicled by Dibdin, of
bibliographical renown; so that a chapter is not necessary here to extol
them. We may judge how fashionable the avocation became by the keen
satire of Alexander Barkley, in his translation of Brandt's _Navis
Stultifera_ or Shyp of Folys,[471] who gives a curious illustration of a
bibliomaniac; and thus speaks of those collectors who amassed their book
treasures without possessing much esteem for their contents.

    "That in this ship the chiefe place I gouerne,
     By this wide sea with fooles wandring,
     The cause is plain & easy to discerne
     Still am I busy, bookes assembling,
     For to have plentie it is a pleasaunt thing
     In my conceyt, to have them ay in hand,
     But what they meane do I not understande.

    "But yet I have them in great reverence
     And honoure, sauing them from filth & ordure
     By often brushing & much diligence
     Full goodly bounde in pleasaunt couerture
     Of Damas, Sattin, or els of velvet pure
     I keepe them sure, fearing least they should be lost,
     For in them is the cunning wherein I me boast.

    "But if it fortune that any learned man
     Within my house fall to disputation,
     I drawe the curtaynes to shewe my bokes them,
     That they of my cunning should make probation
     I love not to fall in alterication,
     And while the commen, my bokes I turne and winde
     For all is in them, and nothing in my minde.

    "Ptolomeus the riche caused, longe agone,
     Over all the worlde good bookes to be sought,
     Done was his commandement--anone
     These bokes he had, and in his studie brought,
     Which passed all earthly treasure as he thought,
     But neverthelesse he did him not apply
     Unto their doctrine, but lived unhappily.

    "Lo, in likewise of bookes I have store,
     But fewe I reade and fewer understande,
     I folowe not their doctrine nor their lore,
     It is ynough to beare a booke in hande.
     It were too muche to be in such a bande,
     For to be bounde to loke within the booke
     I am content on the fayre coveryng to looke.

    "Why should I studie to hurt my wit therby,
     Or trouble my minde with studie excessiue.
     Sithe many are which studie right busely,
     And yet therby thall they never thrive
     The fruite of wisdome can they not contriue,
     And many to studie so muche are inclinde,
     That utterly they fall out of their minde.

    "Eche is not lettred that nowe is made a lorde,
     Nor eche a clerke that hath a benefice;
     They are not all lawyers that pleas do recorde,
     All that are promoted are not fully wise;
     On suche chaunce nowe fortune throwes her dice
     That though we knowe but the yrishe game,
     Yet would he have a gentleman's name.

    "So in like wise I am in suche case,
     Though I nought can, I would be called wise,
     Also I may set another in my place,
     Whiche may for me my bokes exercise,
     Or els I shall ensue the common guise,
     And say concedo to euery argument,
     Least by much speache my latin should be spent.

    "I am like other Clerkes, which so frowardly them gyde,
     That after they are once come unto promotion,
     They give them to pleasure, their study set aside,
     Their auarice couering with fained deuotion;
     Yet dayly they preache and have great derision
     Against the rude laymen, and all for couetise,
     Through their owne conscience be blended with that vice.

    "But if I durst truth plainely utter and expresse,
     This is the speciall cause of this inconvenience,
     That greatest of fooles & fullest of lewdness,
     Having least wit and simplest science,
     Are first promoted, & have greatest reverence;
     For if one can flatter & bear a hauke on his fist,
     He shall be made Parson of Honington or of Elist.

    "But he that is in study ay firme and diligent,
     And without all favour preacheth Christe's love,
     Of all the Cominalite nowe adayes is sore shent,
     And by estates threatned oft therfore.
     Thus what anayle is it to us to study more,
     To knowe ether Scripture, truth, wisdome, or virtue,
     Since fewe or none without fauour dare them shewe.

    "But O noble Doctours, that worthy are of name,
     Consider oure olde fathers, note well their diligence,
     Ensue ye to their steppes, obtayne ye suche fame
     As they did living; and that, by true prudence
     Within their heartes, thy planted their science,
     And not in pleasaunt bookes, but noue to fewe suche be,
     Therefore to this ship come you & rowe with me.

      "The Lennoy of Alexander Barclay,
       Translatour, exhorting the fooles accloyed
       with this vice, to amende their foly.

    "Say worthie Doctours & Clerkes curious,
     What moneth you of bookes to have such number,
     Since diuers doctrines through way contrarious,
     Doth man's minde distract and sore encomber.
     Alas blinde men awake, out of your slumber;
     And if ye will needes your bookes multiplye,
     With diligence endeuor you some to occupye."[472]


[438] Thirteen Dominicans were sent into England in the year 1221;
      they held their first provincial council in England in 1230 at
      Oxford, three years before St. Dominic was canonized by pope

[439] Four clercs and five laymen of the Franciscan order were sent
      into England in 1224; ten years afterwards we find their disciples
      spreading over the whole of England.

[440] Edward the Second regarded them with great favor, and wrote
      several letters to the pope in their praise; he says in one,
      "Desiderantes itaque, pater sancte ordinis fratrum prædicatorum
      Oxonii, ubi religionis devotio, et honestatis laudabilis decer
      viget, per quem etiam honor universitatis Oxoniensis, et utilitas
      ibidem studentium, etc." Dugdale's Monast. vol. vi. p. 1492.

[441] A list of celebrated authors who flourished in England, and
      who were members of the Dominican Order, will be found in _Steven's
      Monasticon_, vol. ii. p. 193, more than 80 names are mentioned. A
      similar list of authors of the Franciscan order will be found at p.
      97 of vol. i. containing 122 names; and of the Carmelite authors,
      vol. ii. p. 160, specifying 137 writers; a great proportion of their
      works are upon the Scriptures.

[442] Dr. Cave says, "In scholis Christianis pene unice regnavit
      scholastica theologia, advocata in subsidium Aristotelis
      philosophia, eaque non ex Græcis fontibus _sed ex turbidis Arabum
      lacunis, ex versionibus male factis, male intellectis, hansta_."
      _Hist. Liter._, p. 615. But I am not satisfied that this has been
      proved, though often affirmed.

[443] It was probably the work of Andrew the Jew. _Meiners_, ii. p.

[444] At a council held at Paris in the year 1209, the works of
      Aristotle were proscribed and ordered to be burnt. _Launvius de
      Varia Aristotelis fortuna_. But in spite of the papal mandate the
      friars revived its use. Richard Fizacre, an intimate friend of Roger
      Bacon, was so passionately fond of reading Aristotle, that he always
      carried one of his works in his bosom. _Stevens Monast._, vol. ii.
      p. 194.

[445] See what has been said of the Mendicants at p. 79.

[446] Steven's additions to Dugdale's Monasticon from the MSS. of
      Anthony a Wood in the library at Oxford, vol. i. p. 129. Agnell
      himself was "_a man of scarce any erudition_."--_Ibid._

[447] He is spoken of under a multitude of names, sometimes
      Grosthead, Grouthead, etc. A list of them will be found in Wood's
      Oxford by Gutch, vol. i. p. 198.

[448] He gives strict injunctions as to the study of the Scriptures
      in his _Constitutiones_.--See Pegge's Life of Grostest, p. 315.

[449] Utilitate Scientiarum, cap. xxxix.

[450] De Confess. Amantis, lib. iv. fo. 70, _Imprint_. Caxton _at
      Westminster_, 1483. The bishop is said to have taken a journey from
      England to Rome one night on an infernal horse.--Pegge's Life of
      Grostest, p. 306.

[451] Stephen's additions to Dugdale's Monasticon from Anthony a
      Wood's MSS. vol. i. p. 133.

[452] The Mendicant orders, unlike the monks, were not remarkable
      for their industry in transcribing books: their roving life was
      unsuitable to the tedious profession of a scribe.

[453] Leland's Itin. vol. iii. p. 59.

[454] Oliver's Collections relating to the Monasteries in Devon,
      8vo. 1820, appendix lxii.

[455] Cottonian MSS. Vittel, F. xii. 13. fol. 325, headed "_De
      Fundacione Librarie_."

[456] The library was 129 feet long and 31 feet broad, and most
      beautifully fitted up.--_Lelandi Antiquarii Collectanea_, vol. i. p.

[457] This refers to the custom then prevalent of chaining their
      books, especially their choice ones, to the library shelf, or to a
      reading desk.

[458] MS. _ibid._ fo. o. 325 b.

[459] Script. Brit. p. 241, and Collectanea, iii. 52.

[460] Leland's Collect. vol. iii. p. 51. He found in the priory of
      the Dominicans at Cambridge, among other books, a _Biblia in lingua

[461] Steven's Monast. vol. ii. p. 194.

[462] His works were of the impressions of the Air--of the Wonder of
      the Elements--of Ceremonial Magic--of the Mysteries of Secrets--and
      the Correction of Chemistry.

[463] Sieben's Monast. vol. i. p. 183, from the MSS. of Anthony a
      Wood, who says, "What became of them (their books) at the
      dissolution unless they were carried into the library of some
      college, I know not."

[464] They obtained much wealth by the sale of pardons and
      indulgences. Margaret Est, of the convent of Franciscans, ordered
      her letters of pardon and absolution, to partake of the indulgences
      of the convent, to be returned as soon she was buried. _Bloomfield's
      Hist. of Norfolk_, vol. ii. p. 565.

[465] And among others of St. Augustine's books, _De Civitate Dei_,
      with many notes in the margins, by Grostest. _Wood's Hist. Oxon_, p.

[466] Anthony a Wood in Steven's Monast. vol. i. p. 133.

[467] Script. Brit. p. 286.

[468] Le Boeuf gives an instance of one being represented as early
      as the eleventh century, in which Virgil was introduced. _Hallam's
      Lit. of Europe_, vol. i. p. 295. The case of Geoffry of St. Albans
      is well known, and I have already mentioned it.

[469] MS. Cottonian Vespasian, D. viii. fo. 1. Codex Chart. 225
      folios, written in the fifteenth century. Sir W. Dugdale, in his
      Hist. of Warwick, p. 116, mentions this volume; and Stevens, in his
      Monast. has printed a portion of it. Mr. Halliwell has printed them
      with much care and accuracy.

[470] MS. Cottonian Vitel. E. 5. _Warton's Hist. Eng. Poetry_, vol.
      iii. p. 326.

[471] The original was written in 1494.

[472] Ship of Fooles, folio 1570, Imprynted by Cawood, fol. 1.



We have traversed through the darkness of many long and dreary centuries,
and with the aid of a few old manuscripts written by the monks in the
_scriptoria_ of their monasteries, caught an occasional glimpse of their
literary labors and love of books; these parchment volumes being mere
monastic registers, or terse historic compilations, do not record with
particular care the anecdotes applicable to my subject, but appear to be
mentioned almost accidentally, and certainly without any ostentatious
design; but such as they are we learn from them at least one thing, which
some of us might not have known before--that the monks of old, besides
telling their beads, singing psalms, and muttering their breviary, had
yet one other duty to perform--the transcription of books. And I think
there is sufficient evidence that they fulfilled this obligation with as
much zeal as those of a more strictly monastic or religious nature. It
is true, in casting our eye over the history of their labors, many
regrets will arise that they did not manifest a little more taste and
refinement in their choice of books for transcribing. The classical
scholar will wish the holy monks had thought more about his darling
authors of Greece and Rome; but the pious puritan historian blames them
for patronizing the romantic allurements of Ovid, or the loose satires of
Juvenal, and throws out some slanderous hint that they must have found a
sympathy in those pages of licentiousness, or why so anxious to preserve
them? The protestant is still more scandalized, and denounces the monks,
their books, scriptorium and all together as part and parcel of popish
craft and Romish superstition. But surely the crimes of popedom and the
evils of monachism, that thing of dry bones and fabricated relics, are
bad enough; and the protestant cause is sufficiently holy, that we may
afford to be honest if we cannot to be generous. What good purpose then
will it serve to cavil at the monks forever? All readers of history know
how corrupt they became in the fifteenth century; how many evils were
wrought by the craft of some of them, and how pernicious the system
ultimately waxed. We can all, I say, reflect upon these things, and guard
against them in future; but it is not just to apply the same
indiscriminate censure to all ages. Many of the purest Christians of the
church, the brightest ornaments of Christ's simple flock, were barefooted
cowled monks of the cloister; devout perhaps to a fault, with simplicity
verging on superstition; yet nevertheless faithful, pious men, and holy.
Look at all this with an eye of charity; avoid their errors and manifold
faults: but to forget the loathsome thing our minds have conjured up as
the type of an ancient monk. Remember they had a few books to read, and
venerated something more than the dry bones of long withered saints.
Their God was our God, and their Saviour, let us trust, will be our

I am well aware that many other names might have been added to those
mentioned in the foregoing pages, equally deserving remembrance, and
offering pleasing anecdotes of a student's life, or illustrating the
early history of English learning; many facts and much miscellaneous
matter I have collected in reference to them; but I am fearful whether my
readers will regard this subject with sufficient relish to enjoy more
illustrations of the same kind. Students are apt to get too fond of their
particular pursuit, which magnifies in importance with the difficulties
of their research, or the duration of their studies. I am uncertain
whether this may not be my own position, and wait the decision of my
readers before proceeding further in the annals of early bibliomania.

Moreover as to the simple question--Were the monks booklovers? enough I
think as been said to prove it, but the enquiry is far from exhausted;
and if the reader should deem the matter still equivocal and undecided,
he must refer the blame to the feebleness of my pen, rather than to the
barrenness of my subject. But let him not fail to mark well the instances
I have given; let him look at Benedict Biscop and his foreign travels
after books; at Theodore and the early Saxons of the seventh century; at
Boniface, Alcuin, Ælfric, and the numerous votaries of bibliomania who
flourished then. Look at the well stored libraries of St. Albans,
Canterbury, Ramsey, Durham, Croyland, Peterborough, Glastonbury, and
their thousand tomes of parchment literature. Look at Richard de Bury and
his sweet little work on biographical experience; at Whethamstede and his
industrious pen; read the rules of monastic orders; the book of Cassian;
the regulations of St. Augustine; Benedict Fulgentius; and the ancient
admonitions of many other holy and ascetic men. Search over the remnants
and shreds of information which have escaped the ravages of time, and the
havoc of cruel invasions relative to these things. Attend to the import
of these small still whisperings of a forgotten age; and then, letting
the eye traverse down the stream of time, mark the great advent of the
Reformation; that wide gulf of monkish erudition in which was swallowed
"whole shyppes full" of olden literature; think well and deeply over the
huge bonfires of Henry's reign, the flames of which were kindled by the
libraries which monkish industry had transcribed. A merry sound no doubt,
was the crackling of those "popish books" for protestant ears to feed

Now all these facts thought of collectively--brought to bear one upon
another--seem to favor the opinion my own study has deduced from them;
that with all their superstition, with all their ignorance, their
blindness to philosophic light--the monks of old were hearty lovers of
books; that they encouraged learning, fostered and transcribed
repeatedly the books which they had rescued from the destruction of war
and time; and so kindly cherished and husbanded them as intellectual food
for posterity. Such being the case, let our hearts look charitably upon
them; and whilst we pity them for their superstition, or blame them for
their "pious frauds," love them as brother men and workers in the mines
of literature; such a course is far more honorable to the tenor of a
christian's heart, than bespattering their memory with foul

Some may accuse me of having shown too much fondness--of having dwelt
with a too loving tenderness in my retrospection of the middle ages. But
in the course of my studies I have found much to admire. In parchment
annals coeval with the times of which they speak, my eyes have traversed
over many consecutive pages with increasing interest and with enraptured
pleasure. I have read of old deeds worthy of an honored remembrance,
where I least expected to find them. I have met with instances of faith
as strong as death bringing forth fruit in abundance in those sterile
times, and glorying God with its lasting incense. I have met with
instances of piety exalted to the heavens--glowing like burning lava, and
warming the cold dull cloisters of the monks. I have read of many a
student who spent the long night in exploring mysteries of the Bible
truths; and have seen him sketched by a monkish pencil with his ponderous
volumes spread around him, and the oil burning brightly by his side. I
have watched him in his little cell thus depicted on the ancient
parchment, and have sympathized with his painful difficulties in
acquiring true knowledge, or enlightened wisdom, within the convent
walls; and then I have read the pages of his fellow monk--perhaps, his
book-companion; and heard what _he_ had to say of that poor lonely Bible
student, and have learnt with sadness how often truth had been
extinguished from his mind by superstition, or learning cramped by his
monkish prejudices; but it has not always been so, and I have enjoyed a
more gladdening view on finding in the monk a Bible teacher; and in
another, a profound historian, or pleasing annalist.

As a Christian, the recollection of these cheering facts, with which my
researches have been blessed, are pleasurable, and lead me to look back
upon those old times with a student's fondness. But besides piety and
virtue, I have met with wisdom and philanthropy; the former, too
profound, and the latter, too generous for the age; but these things are
precious, and worth remembering; and how can I speak of them but in words
of kindness? It is these traits of worth and goodness that have gained my
sympathies, and twined round my heart, and not the dark stains on the
monkish page of history; these I have always striven to forget, or to
remember them only when I thought experience might profit by them; for
they offer a terrible lesson of blood, tyranny and anguish. But this dark
and gloomy side is the one which from our infancy has ever been before
us; we learnt it when a child from our tutor; or at college, or at
school; we learnt it in the pages of our best and purest writers; learnt
that in those old days nought existed, but bloodshed, tyranny, and
anguish; but we never thought once to gaze at the scene behind, and
behold the workings of human charity and love; if we had, we should have
found that the same passions, the same affections, and the same hopes and
fears existed then as now, and our sympathies would have been won by
learning that we were reading of brother men, fellow Christians, and
fellow-companions in the Church of Christ. We have hitherto looked, when
casting a backward glance at those long gone ages of inanimation, with
the severity of a judge upon a criminal; but to understand him properly
we must regard them with the tender compassion of a parent; for if our
art, our science, and our philosophy exalts us far above them, is that a
proof that there was nothing admirable, nothing that can call forth our
love on that infant state, or in the annals of our civilization at its
early growth?

But let it not be thought that if I have striven to retrieve from the
dust and gloom of antiquity, the remembrance of old things that are
worthy; that I feel any love for the superstition with which we find them
blended. There is much that is good connected with those times; talent
even that is worth imitating, and art that we may be proud to learn,
which is beginning after the elapse of centuries to arrest the attention
of the ingenious, and the love of these, naturally revive with the
discovery; but we need not fear in this resurrection of old things of
other days, that the superstition and weakness of the middle ages; that
the veneration for dry bones and saintly dust, can live again. I do not
wish to make the past assume a superiority over the present; but I think
a contemplation of mediæval art would often open a new avenue of thought
and lead to many a pleasing and profitable discovery; I would too add the
efforts of my feeble pen to elevate and ennoble the fond pursuit of my
leisure hours. I would say one word to vindicate the lover of old musty
writings, and the explorer of rude antiquities, from the charge of
unprofitableness, and to protect him from the sneer of ridicule. For
whilst some see in the dry studies of the antiquary a mere
inquisitiveness after forgotten facts and worthless relics; I can see,
nay, have felt, something morally elevating in the exercise of these
inquiries. It is not the mere fact which may sometimes be gained by
rubbing off the parochial whitewash from ancient tablets, or the
encrusted oxide from monumental brasses, that render the study of ancient
relics so attractive; but it is the deductions which may sometimes be
drawn from them. The light which they sometimes cast on obscure parts of
history, and the fine touches of human sensibility, which their eulogies
and monodies bespeak, that instruct or elevate the mind, and make the
student's heart beat with holier and loftier feelings. But it is not my
duty here to enter into the motives, the benefits, or the most profitable
manner of studying antiquity; if it were, I would strive to show how much
superior it is to become an original investigator, a practical antiquary,
than a mere borrower from others. For the most delightful moments of the
student's course is when he rambles personally among the ruins and
remnants of long gone ages; sometimes painful are such sights, even
deeply so; but never to a righteous mind are they unprofitable, much less
exerting a narrowing tendency on the mind, or cramping the gushing of
human feeling; for cold, indeed, must be the heart that can behold strong
walls tottering to decay, and fretted vaults, mutilated and dismantled of
their pristine beauty; that can behold the proud strongholds of baronial
power and feudal tyranny, the victims of the lichen or creeping parasites
of the ivy tribe; cold, I say, must be the heart that can see such
things, and draw no lesson from them.


Adam de Botheby, Abbot of Peterborough, 145.
Adam, Abbot of Evesham, 196.
Adrian IV., Pope of Rome, Anecdote of, 259, 260.
Ælfric, Archbishop of Canterbury, 66, 67, 68, 69, 70, 71, 72, 73.
Ælfride, King of Northumbria, 160, 163.
Ælsinus, the Scribe, 232.
Ailward's Gift of Books to Evesham Monastery, 195.
Albans, Abbey of St.--_See_ St. Albans.
    Verses by, 33, 179, 180.
    Letters of, 98, 175, 181.
    His Bible, 177.
    Love of Books, 173, 176, 182.
Aldred, the Glossator, 95.
Aldwine, Bishop of Lindesfarne, 99.
Alfred the Great, 151.
Angell de Pisa, a Franciscan Friar, 291.
Angraville.--_See_ Richard de Bury.
Anselm, 77, 78.
Antiquarii, 42, 43.
Arno, Archbishop of Salzburgh, Library of, 183, 184.
Armarian, Duties of the Monkish, 13.
Aristotle; Translation used by the Schoolmen, 290.
Ascelin, Prior of Dover, 90.
Augustine, St., his copy of the Bible and other books, 79.

Baldwin, Abbot of, St. Edmund's Bury, 242.
Bale on the destruction of books at the Reformation, 8.
Barkley's description of a Bibliomaniac, 301, 302, 303, 304.
Basingstoke and his Greek books, 267.
Bede the Venerable, 129, 162, 163, 170, 243.
Bek, Anthony, Bishop of Durham, 104.
Benedict, Abbot of Peterborough, and his books, 142, 143.
Benedict, Biscop of Wearmouth, and his book tours, 157, 158.
Bible among the Monks in the middle ages, 79, 89, 101, 104, 129,
        144, 163, 177, 193, 194, 196, 207, 208, 211, 212, 233,
        234, 237, 260, 261.
Bible, Monkish care in copying the, 36, 177.
Bible, errors in printed copies, 36.
Bible, Translations of, 71, 72, 156, 185, 296, _note_.
Bible, Illustrations of the scarcity of the, in the middle ages,
        40, 41, 89, 148, 231.
Bible, Students in the middle ages, 36, 71, 75, 88, 104,
        144, 163, 168, 177, 184.
Bilfrid the Illuminator, 95.
Binding, costly, 54, 85, 93, 246, 247, 258, 261, 262, 263, 273.
Blessing--Monkish blessing on Books, 25.
Boniface the Saxon Missionary, 45, 164, 165, 166, 167.
Books allowed the Monks for private reading, 20.
Books-Destroyers, 6, 7, 8, 9, 195, 282.
Books sent to Oxford by the Monks of Durham, 105.
Book-Stalls, Antiquity of, 123.
Booksellers in the middle ages, 46, 47.
Britone the Librarian--his catalogue of books in Glastonbury Abbey, 208.
Bruges, John de, a Monk of Coventry, and his books, 191.

Cædmon, the Saxon Poet, 185.
Canterbury Monastery, etc., 61.
Canute, the Song of, 244.
Care in transcribing, 33, 68.
Carelepho, Bishop of Durham, 101.
Carmelite, 287, 297.
Carpenter, Bishop, built and endowed a library in Exeter Church, 194.
Catalogues of Monastic libraries, 10, 14, 82, 83, 102, 129, 130, 142,
            147, 179, 180, 190, 191, 208, 209, 210, 211, 219, 220, 237.
Catalogue of the books of Guy Beauchamp, Earl of Warwick, 283, 284, 285.
Charles V. of France--his fine Library.
Charlemagne's Bible, 177, his Library, 184.
Chartey's, William,
            Catalogue of the Library of St. Mary's at Leicester, 148.
Chiclely, Henry, Archbishop of Canterbury, 86.
Cistercian Monks in England, 221.
Classics among the Monks in the middle ages, 60, 84, 87, 101, 102,
            116, 122, 129, 148, 190, 200, 208, 225, 226, 232, 233, 240.
Classics, Monkish opinion of the, 23, 227.
Classics found in Monasteries at the revival of learning, 58, 59, 60.
Cluniac Monks in England, 221.
Cobham, Eleanor Duchess of Gloucester, 277, 278.
Cobham, Bishop, founded the Library at Oxford, 194.
Collier on the destruction of books, 8.
Converting Miracles, 166.
Coventry Church, 191.
Coventry Miracles, 299.
Croyland Monastery, Library of, 135.
Cuthbert's Gospels, 93, 129.

Danes in England, 95, 138, 139, 140.
Daniel, Bishop of Winchester, 168.
De Bury.--_See_ Richard de Bury.
De Estria and his Catalogue of Canterbury Library, 81.
Depying Priory, Catalogue of the Library of, 234.
Dover Library, 90.
Dunstan, Saint, 64, 65.

Eadburge--Abbess, transcribes books for Boniface, 169, 170.
Eadfrid, Abbot of St. Albans, 249.
Eadmer, Abbot of St. Albans, 251, 252.
Ealdred, Abbot of St. Albans, 250.
Eardulphus, or Eurdulphus, Bishop of Lindesfarne, 96.
Ecgfrid and his Queen, 242.
Edmunds Bury, St., 241.
Edwine the Scribe, 79.
Effects of Gospel Reading, 236.
Effects of the Reformation on Monkish learning, 8.
Egbert, Archbishop of York, 170, 173, his Library, 179, 180.
Egebric, Abbot of Croyland, his gift of books to the Library, 137.
Egfrith, Bishop of Lindesfarne, 93.
Eleanor Cobham, Duchess of Gloucester, 277, 278.
Ethelbert, 87.
Etheldredæ founds the Monastery of Ely, 243.
Ethelwold, Bishop of Winchester
    his love of Architecture, 229, 244,
    his fine Benedictional, 230.
Ely Monastery, 243, 244.
    Extracts from the Account Books of, 245.
Erventus the Illuminator, 147.
Esseburn, Henry, 296.
Evesham Monastery, 195, 196, 197, 198, 199, 200, 201, 202, 203, 204.

Fathers, Veneration for the, 38, 39.
Frederic, Abbot of St. Albans, 253.
Franciscan Library at Oxford, 294.
Friars, Mendicant, 115, 116, 288, 289, 290, 291, 292, 293, 294.

Geoffry de Gorham, Abbot of St. Albans, 255, 256.
Gerbert, extract from a letter of, 45.
Gift of books to Richard de Bury by the Monks of St. Albans, 121.
Glanvill, Bishop of Rochester, 91.
Glastonbury Abbey, 205, 206, 207, 208, 209, 210, 211, 212, 213, 214.
Gloucester Abbey, 218.
Godeman, Abbot of Gloucester, 218.
Godemann the Scribe, 231, 232.
Godfrey, Abbot of Peterborough, 145, 146.
Godinge the Librarian to Exeter Church, 193, 194.
Godiva, Lady and her good deeds, 193, 194.
Gospels, notices of among the Monks in the middle ages, 86, 89,
             90, 91, 92, 129, 139, 140, 141, 142, 169, 196, 217,
             221, 244, 245, 246, _note_, 255, 262.
Graystane, Robert de, 105.
Grostest, Robert, Bishop of Lincoln, 292, 293.
Gundulph, Bishop of Rochester, 87.
Guthlac, St., of Croyland, 135.
Guy, Earl of Warwick, his gift of books to Bordesley Abbey, 283, 284, 285.

Hebrew Manuscripts among the Monks, 238, 293, 294.
Henry the Second of England, 223, 227.
Henry de Estria and his Catalogue of Canterbury Library, 81.
Henry, a Monk of Hyde Abbey, 231, 232.
Hilda, 184.
Holdernesse, Abbot of Peterborough, 145.
Hoton, Prior of Durham, 105.
Hubert Walter, Archbishop of Canterbury, 79.
Hunting practised by the Monks and Churchmen, 224.
Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester, 275.
    His domestic troubles, 277, 278, 279.
    His death, 279.
    Lydgate's Verses upon, 280, 281.
    His Gift of Books to Oxford, 281, 282, 283.

Illuminated MSS., 54.
Ina, King of the West Saxons, 206.

Jarrow, 157.
John de Bruges of Coventry Church, 191.
John, Prior of Evesham, 199, 200, 201, 202, 203, 204.
John of Taunton, a Monk of Glastonbury, his Catalogue of Books, 208.

Kenulfus, Abbot of Peterborough, 141.
Kinfernus, Archbishop of York, gift of the Gospels to
             Peterborough Monastery, 141.
Kildwardly, Archbishop of Canterbury, 79.

Lanfranc, Archbishop of Canterbury, 75.
Langley, Thomas, 131.
Laws of the Universities over booksellers, 48, 49, 50, 51, 52.
Lending books,
    system of among the Monks, 17, 20;
    by the booksellers, 52.
Leoffin, Abbot of Ely, 244.
Leofric, Abbot of St. Albans, 249.
Leofric, Bishop of Exeter, 218;
    his Private Library, 219.
Leofricke, Earl of Mercia, 192.
Leofricus, Abbot of Peterborough, 141.
Leicester, Abbey of St. Mary de la Pré, at, 148, 149.
Libraries in the middle ages.--_See_ Catalogues.
Libraries, how supported, 24, 25, 79, 198, 199.
Librarii, or booksellers, 42, 43, 44, 45, 46, 47, 48, 49.
Lindesfarne, 93.
Livy, the lost decades of, 214.
Lul, Majestro, 168, 169.
Lulla, Bishop of Coena, 171.
Lydgate's Verses on Baldwin,
    Abbot of St. Edmunds Bury, 242;
    on Duke Humphrey, 280, 281.

Malmsbury Monastery, 214.
Malmsbury, William of, 214, 215, 216, 217, 218, 219.
Mannius, Abbot of Evesham, his skill in illuminating, 195.
Manuscripts, Ancient, described, 78, 79, 186, 187.
Manuscripts, Collections of, 5.
Marleberg, Thomas of, 196, 197, 198, 199, 200, 201, 202.
Medeshamstede, 139.
Mendicant Friars, 115, 116, 287, 288, 289, 290, 291, 292, 293, 294.
Michael de Wentmore, Abbot of St. Albans, and
            his _multis voluminibus_, 268.
Milton and Cædmon compared, 188.
Monachism, 29, 36, 307, 308, 309.
Monastic training, 263, 264, 265.
Monks, the preservers of books, 29.

Nicholas, of St. Albans, 267, 292.
Nicholas Brekspere, 259, 260.
Nicholas Hereford, of Evesham, 203, 204.
Nigel, Bishop of Ely, 244, 245, 246.
Norman Conquest. Effect of the, 74.
Northone, Abbot of St. Albans, 267.
Nothelm, Archbishop of Canterbury, 64, 171.

Offa, King, 4, 192, 247.
    Alcuin's Letter to, 175.
Osbern, of Shepey, 91.
Oswald, Bishop of Worcester, 24, 193.

Paul or Paulinus, of St. Albans, 77, 253.
Peter of Blois, Archdeacon of London, 47, 222, 223, 224,
            225, 226, 227, 228.
Peter, Abbot of Gloucester, 218.
Peterborough Monastery, 138.
    Library, 147, 148.
Petrarch, 107, 108, 109.
Philobiblon, by Richard de Bury, 112.
Prior John, of Evesham, 199.
Puritans destroy the Library in Worcester Church, 194.
Purple Manuscripts, 54.
Pusar, Hugh de, Bishop of Durham, 103.

Radolphus, Bishop of Rochester, 90.
Ralph de Gobium, Abbot of St. Albans, 257, 258.
Ramsey Abbey, 237.
    Hebrew MSS. at Ramsey, 239.
    Classics, 240.
Raymond, Prior of St. Albans, 262, 263.
Reading Abbey. Library of, 233.
Reginald, Archdeacon of Salisbury, reproved for his love of falconry, 227.
Reginald, of Evesham, 196.
Richard de Albini, 255.
Richard de Bury, 17, 105, 106, 107, 108, 109, 110, 111, 112,
            113, 114, 115, 116, 117, 118, 119, 120, 121, 122, 123,
            124, 125, 126, 127, 128, 268.
Richard de Stowe, 218.
Richard of London, 145.
Richard Wallingford, Abbot of St. Albans, 121.
Richard Whiting, the last Abbot of Glastonbury, 213, 214.
Ridiculous signs for books.--_See_ signs.
Rievall Monastery, library of, 190, 191, 192.
Robert de Gorham, Abbot of St. Albans, 257, 258.
Robert, of Lyndeshye, 144.
Robert, of Sutton, 145.
Roger de Northone, 267.
Roger de Thoris, Archdeacon of Exeter. Gift of books to the Friars
            at Exeter, 294, 295.
Rhypum Monastery; gift of books to, 163.

Scarcity of Parchment, 56, 57, 245, 246.
Scholastic Philosophy, 289.
Scribes, Monkish, 44.
Scriptoria, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 198, 199, 253, 254.
Sellinge, William, Prior of Canterbury, 86.
Signs for books used by the Monks, 22, 23.
Simon, Abbot of St. Albans, 260.
St. Alban's Abbey, 120, 121, 247, _et seq._
St. Joseph, of Arimathea, 206.
St. Mary's, at Coventry, 191, 192.
St. Mary's de la Pré, at Leicester. Library of, 149.
Stylus or pen, 154.

Tatwine, Archbishop of Canterbury, 63.
Taunton, John of, 208.
Taunton, William of, 211.
Theodore of Tarsus, Archbishop of Canterbury, 62.
Thomas de la Mare, Abbot of St. Albans, 268.
Thomas of Marleberg, Prior of Evesham, 197.
Trompington, William de, Abbot of St. Albans, 265, 266.
Tully's de Republica, 86.

Valerius Maximus, Duke Humphrey's copy of, 282.
Value of books in the middle ages, 54, 203, 204, 245, 273, 282, 283, 295.
Verses written in books by Whethamstede, 274.
Verulam, ruins of, excavated by Eadmer, of St. Albans, 250.

Waleran, Bishop of Rochester, 91.
Walter, Bishop of Rochester, 91.
Walter, Bishop of Winchester, fond of hunting, 224, 225.
Walter, of Evesham, 196.
Walter, of St. Edmunds Bury, 145.
Walter, Prior of St. Swithin, 231.
Wearmouth, Monastery of, 157.
Wentmore, Abbot of St. Albans, 268.
Whethamstede, Abbot of St. Albans, 268, 269;
    his works, 272;
    gift of books to Gloucester college, 274.
Whitby Abbey, 184, 185, 186, 187, 188, 189.
Wilfrid, 162, 163, 243.
Willigod, Abbot of St. Albans, 248.
William, of Wodeforde, 145.
Winchester, famous for his Scribes, 168, 229, 230, 231, 232.
Worcester, Church of, 192.
Wulstan, Archbishop of York, 147.

York Cathedral Library, 179, 180.

Transcriber's Notes

1. Footnotes 293, 386 are not anchored in the page image. A best guess
has been made as to their anchor point.

2. Refer to the image for the black letter poems as the yogh/ezh & thorn/h
characters are difficult to distinguish. Other internet sources show vastly
different interpretations for the text of 'A Plaie called Corpus Christi'.

3. Hyphenation has been left as printed - inconsistencies are:
bookloving, book-loving
booklover, book-lover
bookworms, book-worms
goodwill, good-will
halfpenny, half-penny
protomartyr, proto-martyr
reread, re-read

4. Punctuation, particularly in footnotes has been standardised.

5. Spelling inconsistencies between proper names in the text and index
entries have been standardised. The original spelling has been noted.
Inconsistencies in the spelling of proper names within the text have
been left as printed.

6. Numerous quotation marks have been added to the text. Please see the
HTML version for details of where they have been added.

7. Other corrections which have been made are:
    Footnote 21, "gubernnatione" changed to "gubernatione"
    Page 86, "Chicleley" changed to "Chiclely"
    Page 91, "Shebey" changed to "Shepey"
    Footnote 134, "Catherbury" changed to "Canterbury"
    Page 113, "biblomaniac" changed to "bibliomaniac"
    Page 138, "Madeshamsted" changed to "Medeshamstede"
    Page 152, "descrimination" changed to "discrimination"
    Page 218, "Godemon" changed to "Godeman"
    Footnote 367, "Alward" changed to "Ailward"
    Page 257, "Gebium" changed to "Gobium"
    Page 312, "mediævel" changed to "mediæval"
    Page 315, "Salzburg" changed to "Salzburgh"
    Page 317, "Ecfrid" changed to "Ecgfrid"
    Page 319, "Kernulfus" changed to "Kenulfus"
    Page 319, "Leofin" changed to "Leoffin"
    Page 319, 322, "Pre" changed to "Pré"
    Page 320, "Marlebergh" changed to "Marleberg"
    Page 321, "Ryphum" changed to "Rhypum"
    Page 321, "Sellynge" changed to "Sellinge"
    Page 322, "Tatwyne" changed to "Tatwine"
    Page 322, "Tharsus" changed to "Tarsus"
    Page 322, "Wodeford" changed to "Wodeforde"

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