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seized with a sudden fear, and began to think of returning home rather than proceed to a barbarous, fierce, and unbelieving nation, to whose very language they were strangers.” Augustine either shared their fears or was overpowered by their remonstrances, and consented to return to Rome and entreat Gregory that they might be relieved from “ so dangerous, toilsome, and uncertain a journey." They did not knowhow could they?—that out of the break-up of the old world a new and better world was rising up, and that they were to play no unimportant part in laying the foundations of the new order in one corner of that ultima thule of pagan barbarism, to lay the foundationstone of that mighty fabric of a Christian England, destined to exercise so great an influence upon the future history of the world.
We may picture to ourselves, if we will, the moment when Augustine presented himself at the Palace of the Lateran; the grave, sorrowful amazement of Gregory; the head bowed with shame of Augustine, as he knelt at the feet of his abbot and bishop. We may imagine the gentle reproaches of Gregory, his unfaltering resolution, his spiritual encouragement; how he would point out that the dangers of the enterprise made it more glorious ; that monks must not shrink from hardships ; and that if death itself awaited them, death would be martyrdom; how he would express his grief that higher duties would not suffer him to go at once and put himself at the head of his faltering sons, and lead them in person to the holy war; and how he would gradually inspire his own lofty spirit into the heart of Augustine, and win from him the declaration to do or die.
Then would follow a sober consideration of practical measures.
Augustine would report what he perhaps had in his mind when he consented to return to Rome; that the south-east portion of the island was more settled and civilised ; that the king had lately married a Christian princess of the Franks, who had allowed a bishop to come in her train to minister to her; and that Kent would therefore offer a more favourable opening for their work than the wild Deira to which they had been sent. Gregory was a statesman and a man of good sense, and would recognise that this providential incident promised a safe footing for his mission to the English, and favourable circumstances for the beginning of its work. He sent Augustine back, strengthening his authority over his companions by giving him the formal position of their abbot; he also gave him some new letters, one to the monks themselves, another to Stephen the Abbot, and perhaps others. This is the letter to the monks :
Gregory, the Servant of the Servants of the
Lord, to the Servants of our Lord.
“Since it were better not to begin a good work than to think of turning back from it when begun, it behoves you, most beloved sons, to accomplish the good work which, with the help of God, you have undertaken. Let not, therefore, the toil of the journey nor the tongues of men predicting evil deter you; but with all earnestness and zeal finish what, by God's direction, you have begun, knowing that a great labour is followed by a greater glory of eternal reward. When Augustine, your prior, whom I have now appointed to be your abbot, has returned to you, humbly obey him in all things, knowing that whatever you shall do by his direction will in all things be profitable to your souls. The Almighty protect you with all His grace, and grant me in the eternal country to see the fruit of your labour, so that, though I am unable to labour with you, I may be partaker with you in the joy of the reward, since I long, if it might be, to labour with you.
God keep you in safety, most beloved sons.—Given on the tenth of the Kalends of August in the fourteenth year of our lord, Mauricius Tiberius, the most pious Augustus, in the thirteenth year after the consulship of the same our lord, in the fourteenth indiction (July 23, 596). [Same date as former letter to Virgilius of Arles.]
We may imagine how Augustine would enlarge upon the brief outline here laid down; how he would announce to his companions the change of their destination from bleak Northumbria and its fierce inhabitants to civilised, fertile Kent, where the protection of a Christian queen and the welcome of a Christian bishop awaited them; how he would impart to them the spirit of enthusiasm with which their great Bishop had rekindled his own zeal; how they would acknowledge his authority as their abbot, and promise to follow him to death, if such should be the will of God.
We are not so fortunate as to possess any description of the personal appearance of Augustine, such as John the Deacon has given us of his great master Gregory. His eleventh century eulogist, Gocelin, has given us, however, one striking trait by which we shall always be able in our mind's eye to distinguish Augustine in the midst of his companions. He was of great stature, head and shoulders above the average
Few of his companions are known to us, even by name; among them were Peter, the first abbot of the monastery which Augustine founded at Canterbury, Laurentius who succeeded Augustine at his death as bishop, and Honorius who had been one of Gregory's youthful pupils, and was the precentor of the monkish choir; and Jacob the Deacon, who in after years accompanied Paulinus to Northumbria, may have been one of this original band.
THE JOURNEY THROUGH FRANCE
THE Letters of Gregory belonging to this early period of the mission are grouped together and most of them without date. That to the monks, in reply to their request to be allowed to abandon the mission, is dated, X. Kal. Aug. of the fourteenth year of Maurice, the fourteenth indiction (July 23, 596 A.D.), and happily gives us an exact date for the setting out of Augustine from Rome the second time. That which is addressed to Pelagius of Tours and to Serenus of Marseilles is dated X. Kal. Aug. Indiction 14, with the year of the Emperor omitted, and was probably written at the same time. The letter to Abbot Stephen bears internal evidence that Augustine brought it back with him on his return from Rome, and is of some interest. In it Gregory thanks Abbot Stephen for his kindness to Augustine, and for a present of spoons and bowls, no doubt wooden spoons and bowls, the manufacture of the monks in their leisure time, which he had by Augustine sent as a present to the poor of Rome. One MS. allocates Stephen to Lerins, the little island off the coast of Nice where was a monastery which had a great reputation as one of the religious centres of the period. We gather, therefore, that Augustine visited this monastery from Marseilles after he had