Sidebilder
PDF
ePub

Bertha for a good reception, and for the purpose of converting the Kentish men to the faith.

Then comes the letter to the Patrician Arigius. The title of Patrician, with which Eastern Emperors had graced the Barbarian Kings, whom they desired to conciliate, had by this time come down to their great officials. At this time Duke and Patrician seem to have been different titles of the same office, viz. that of commander of the armies and administrator of the royal affairs in a large territory; the latter title seems to be especially in use in the Burgundian kingdom. Arigius the Patrician was already in friendly relations with Gregory. For some years previously, when a vacancy occurred in the agency of the patrimony, Arigius, at Gregory's request, had received its income, and looked after its interests. This indicates that Arigius must have been stationed not far from Marseilles. Very probably he was the Frank official in authority in the south of France, and stationed perhaps at Arles, the chief city.

Just as the group of letters to the Bishops of Marseilles, Arles, and Aix indicate some stay in the south of France, so the two letters to the Bishops of Vienne and Lyons indicate the route of the travellers through Gaul. There was a Roman road along the left bank of the Rhone; but we think it most likely that our travellers saved themselves the toilsome march in the heat of summer by taking boat up the river; and we resume the journey with them.

At Vienne, the Roman character of the city would make them almost fancy themselves still in Italy; a portion of the portico of the ancient Forum still exists; and a temple supposed to have been dedicated to

Augustus, and the remains of the theatre on the hillside, still remain. Here Augustine would present his letter of introduction to the Bishop Desiderius, and would hardly fail to be reminded that the Church of Vienne was the beginning of the Christianity of Gaul, when Pothinus and Irenæus came from the neighbourhood of Ephesus and planted the Church there. But it seems likely that the travellers would make no long stay here, since the great commercial emporium of the centre of France, Lyons, to which their ship would naturally be chartered, was only a few miles further up the river, and there they would have to halt and make arrangements for their further journey.

At Lyons they would therefore make some stay, and their letter to Bishop Etherius would secure for them hospitality and assistance in their further arrangements. They would still, we think, prefer the convenience of water carriage; and another voyage of about one hundred miles up the Saône would bring them to Chalons, the usual residence of Queen Brunhilda and her royal grandson, Theodoric. Here again, therefore, they would halt and present their letters of introduction, and meet with a friendly reception, for, as we have seen, the able Queen was in friendly correspondence with the Bishop of Rome.

The next letter of introduction is addressed to Autun, which indicates that from Chalons the travellers would take a new departure, and would strike off north-westward. Here, therefore, the real hardships of the journey would begin, for water carriage would no longer be available, and weary marches for many days lay between them and the northern coasts of Gaul. At Autun they would

halt and deliver their introduction to Syagrius, its bishop.

Autun had been a strong fortress and a great city from the early times of the Roman occupation of Gaul; the Roman gates, through which our travellers would pass, are fine works, and in very perfect preservation; and portions of the Roman wall and ruins of Roman buildings still remain to bear witness to its former greatness. Bishop Syagrius was a great man, a favourite of the all-powerful Queen, in correspondence with Gregory, and under recent obligations to him for the gift of the pall. Here, then, they would be certain of a welcome, and of all the aid of which they might be in need.

Two letters of introduction remain unaccounted for, first, that to Pelagius, Bishop of "Turnis." It is an unusual way of spelling Turonensis, but there was no other Gallic See of similar name, and Pelagius was Bishop of Tours at that time; he succeeded Gregory, the famous historian of Gaul, in the previous year; so that we cannot doubt that the letter is to the new Bishop of Tours. But that city was hundreds of miles to the westward of the route which Augustine must have taken.

The remaining letter is to Arigius, Bishop of Vapincum, i.e. Gap. But Gap was a little town, 2500 feet above the sea-level, among the Alps, a couple of hundred miles to the east of their route. Arigius was a very saintly person, and a great friend of Gregory, whom he had visited in Rome; the letter may have been intended to be forwarded by messenger, by way of friendly greeting, and to inform Arigius of the interesting work in hand.

The evidence of the route of our travellers, afforded by the letters of introduction, fails us at Autun; the probability is that thence they would make the best of their way northward along the well-frequented highroad to Gessoriacum (Boulogne), the usual port of embarkation for Britain, from before the days of Julius Cæsar down to the present day. At Gessoriacum they would probably halt for a few days to recover from the fatigue of their long march; and daily, from the hill on which the old town stood, would gaze wistfully across the channel to the opposite white cliffs of the island, the goal of their long journey. One fine morning, having taken farewell of Candidus, but taking with them the Frank interpreters, they would embark with a fair wind and set sail. Richborough would be the port for which they would make. was the usual port of entry from the opposite shore, for Portus Lemanis (Lymne) could only be approached by a winding and difficult creek through the marshes; Dubriæ (Dover) was, and still is, in spite of modern improvements, dangerous in rough weather; Sandwich Bay, in those days-the passage is silted up now— afforded a safe entrance into the Wansum estuary, where the run of the tides formed the only drawback -for it was hardly a danger to those who knew their ways. Our voyagers would therefore make for the cliffs, and then coast along them north-eastward towards the gap in the white wall-from Walmer to Ramsgate-enter the estuary of the Wansum, and cast anchor in the narrow strait.

It

The wide tract of level land between Walmer and Ramsgate has undergone considerable changes in the intervening centuries between then and now. Then it

was in great part covered with water. The little stream of the Stour, which now runs through the meadows and forms the boundary of the Isle of Thanet, was then an arm of the sea a mile wide, and made Thanet really an island, and ships bound up the Thames for the commercial emporium of London sailed through it, instead of passing as they must now do round the Foreland, and encounter the dangers of the sandbanks which beset the mouth of the Thames.

There were two harbours in the estuary of the Wansum-Rutupiæ, by that time known by the Saxon name of Richborough, was the principal port on the mainland of Kent. The old Roman fortress, situated upon a promontory above the level of the marshes, still stands, in places thirty feet high, with its square and round flanking towers, a relic of the Roman rule. the little harbour of Ebbe's Fleet, on the opposite side of the estuary, was the port of the island; and it was there that Augustine and his company first set foot upon the land which was to be the scene of their future life and labours.

But

The authority for saying that Augustine landed at Ebbe's Fleet is Thorn, the fourteenth century monk of St. Augustine's; but there is other evidence that it was the usual landing-place for Thanet at an early date. Hengist and Horsa, St. Mildred, and the Danes, are all said to have landed there. Ebbe's Fleet is still the name of a farmhouse standing on a strip of high ground, rising out of the Minster Marshes, marked at a distance by the row of trees which crowns it; and, on a nearer approach, it is seen that it must once have been a headland or promontory running out into the sea between the two inlets of the estuary of the Stour on one

[ocr errors]
« ForrigeFortsett »