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“For even so Constantine, our former most pious Emperor, recovering the Roman commonwealth from the perverse worship of idols, subjected the same with himself to our Almighty God and Lord Jesus Christ, and was himself, with the people under his subjection, entirely converted to them. Whence it followed that his praises transcended the fame of former princes, and he as much excelled his predecessors in renown as he did in good works. Now, therefore, let Your Glory hasten to infuse into the kings and people that are subject to you the knowledge of one God—Father, Son, and Holy Ghost--that you may both surpass the ancient kings of your nation in praise and merit, and become by so much the more secure against your own sins before the dreadful judgment of Almighty God, as you shall wipe away the sins of others in your subjects.
“Our very reverend brother Augustine is skilled in the monastic rule, full of the knowledge of the Holy Scripture, and by the help of God endowed with good works; whatever he shall counsel, give ear to, devoutly perform, and carefully keep in memory; for if you give ear to him in what he speaks for Almighty God, the same Almighty God will the sooner hear him praying for you.
But if, which God forbid, you slight his words, how shall Almighty God hear him in your behalf whom you neglect to hear for God? Unite yourself, therefore, to him with all your mind in the fervour of faith, and further his endeavours through the help of that strength which the Divinity gives you, that he may make you partaker of His kingdom, whose faith you cause to be received and maintained in
your own. “Besides, we would have Your Glory know, as we find in the Holy Scripture, that the end of this present world and the kingdom of the saints is about to come, which can never end. But since the end of the world is approaching, many things are at hand which have not previously been, as changes in the atmosphere (immutationes aeris), and terrors from heaven, unseasonable tempests, wars, famines, plagues, earthquakes in divers places; all which things will not nevertheless happen in our days, but after our days they will all come to pass. If you, therefore, find any of these things happen in your country, let not your mind be in any way disturbed ; for these signs of the end of the world are sent before for this reason, that we may be solicitous for our souls, expecting the hour of death, and be found prepared in good actions to meet our Judge. Thus much, my illustrious son, I have said in few words, to the end that, when the Christian faith shall increase in your kingdom, our discourse to you may also be increased, and we may be permitted to say the more in proportion as joy for the conversion of your nation is multiplied in our mind.
“I have sent some small presents, which will not appear small when received by you with the blessing of the holy Apostle Peter. May Almighty God, therefore, perfect you in that grace of His which He has begun, and prolong your life here through a course of many years, and after a time receive you into the congregation of the heavenly country. May the grace of God preserve Your Excellency in safety.--Dated, etc.” [22nd June 601].
The kind of presents which the good Bishop sent to Ethelbert may be inferred from those which he sent to others. To Theodelinda, the orthodox Queen of the Lombards, he sent a collection of sixty-five holy oils, from the lamps which burned before the principal Roman shrines, each in an ampulla, decorated with Scripture subjects; to Queen Brunhilda he sent a key -perhaps two keys, of gold and silver-into the metal of which had been incorporated some filings from the chain of St. Peter. To the Empress Constantina he says that it is not permitted to comply with her request for a portion of the body of St. Peter, but proposes to send her instead a brandeum in pyxide, which probably means a napkin which had touched the saintly relic, enclosed in a round ivory box, carved externally with Scripture subjects. Some such things, highly valued by the superstition of the time, probably composed Gregory's presents to the King.
THE BEGINNINGS OF THE LIBRARY OF THE ENGLISH
No doubt the first missionary band brought with them the necessary books and vessels and vestments; but again, with the second band, we are expressly told that Gregory sent all things (universa) which were necessary for the worship of the Church, viz. sacred vessels and altar vestments, relics of the apostles and of many saints, and many codices.
Thomas of Elmham describes a number of volumes then preserved in the monastery, some of them placed as relics near the altar, which were believed to have been among those brought to England by Augustine and his companions. He says of them, with pardonable pride, Hæc sunt primitiæ librarum totius ecclesia Anglicance. Among these MSS. were two Textus Evangeliorum, which Elmham describes.
There is reason to believe that a copy of the Gospels, preserved in the library of Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, and another, in a similar style of writing, in the Bodleian Library, Oxford, are the two identical volumes described above; not only because they are two of the oldest Latin MSS. written in pure Roman uncials which exist in this country, but also because they contain Anglo-Saxon entries now a thousand years old, which connect them with the Monastery of St. Augustine.
The first of these MSS. was, at the time of the dissolution of the religious houses, preserved by Matthew Parker, afterwards archbishop, and by him given to Corpus Christi College. It is described by the late Professor Westwood ? as a quarto volume,
1 94 inches by 73, and about 27 thick.
The parchment is thin, the ink of a faded brown, the text is written in fine Roman uncials, in double columns, with twenty-five lines in a page.
The book is ornamented with drawings of the highest interest, since they are the most ancient monuments of pictorial art existing in this country. Unfortunately only two leaves of these drawings remain. The first of these occurs opposite the commencement of the Prologue to St. Luke's Gospel. It is divided into twelve compartments, each 17 inch square, separated from each other by narrow red margins, and the whole enclosed with a narrow border, painted to imitate bluish marble with red veins. The subjects of the twelve drawings are—(1) Christ riding into Jerusalem ; (2) The Lord's Supper; (3) Christ praying in Gethsemane; (4) The raising of Lazarus ; (5) Jesus washing His disciples' feet; (6) Judas betraying his Lord; (7) Christ seized by the Jews, and Peter cutting off the
ear of Malchus ; (8) Christ before Caiaphas ; (9) Christ led away; (10) Pilate washing his hands; (11) Christ led to judgment; (12) Christ bearing His Cross. They are some of the usual cycle of subjects popular in the sixth century, and are treated in the debased classical style of that period.
1 Palæographia Sacra.