Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Bede
BEDE, or more accurately BÆDA (673–735), was born in the district which was the next year given for the foundation of the monastery of St. Peter's, at Wearmouth, in what is now the county of Durham. The exact date of his birth has been disputed. It depends on the short account which he gives of himself at the end of the 'Historia Ecclesiastica.' He brings that work down to 731—for the notice of the defeat of the Saracens in the following year is probably an insertion made later, either by himself or by some other hand—and he says that he had then reached his fifty-ninth year. Mabillon (Acta SS. O. B. iii. 505) is therefore probably right in fixing his birth in 673. Some, however (Pagi, Critic. in Ann. Baron. p. 141, followed by Stevenson), place it in 674, and others (Gehle, Disput. Hist. Theol. and Mon. Hist. Brit.) in 672. Besides the short account which Bæda gives of himself, and what we can glean from his writings and from incidental notices of him by others, we have no trustworthy materials for his life until we come to his last hours; for the two anonymous biographies of him (H. E. ed. Smith, App., and Mabillon, sæc. iii. 501) are one of the eleventh and the other of the twelfth century.
Early deprived, as it seems, of his parents, Bæda, when seven years old, was placed by his relations under the charge of Benedict Biscop, the abbot of Wearmouth. Shortly before his birth a great ecclesiastical revival began in England. The marriage of Oswiu of Northumbria to Eanfled led to the triumph of the Roman over the Celtic church in the north, and Wilfrith, the champion of St. Peter, was made bishop. Archbishop Theodore began to reform the episcopate after the Roman model, and in a national synod held at Hertford in 673 put an end to the unsystematic practices of the Celtic church. English bishops were for the future to keep to their own dioceses, and not to wander about wherever they would, like the Celtic missionary bishops. The introduction of the Benedictine rule in place of the primitive monachism of the Celts was a movement of a like nature. In this work Benedict Biscop, the guardian of Bæda, took a leading part. When, in 674, he founded St. Peter's at Wearmouth, he sent for workmen from Gaul, who built his monastery after the Roman style. In 682 he founded the other home of Bæda, the monastery of St. Paul's at Jarrow. Foreign artificers filled the windows of his two great houses with glass. The pictured forms of saints and the scenes of sacred history adorned the walls of his churches. Above all, he provided his monks with a noble collection of books, which he deemed necessary for their instruction (Vit. Abb. 11). He fetched John, the archcantor of St. Peter's, from Rome, who taught them, and indeed all who came to learn, the ritual of the Roman church. And by his constant journeys abroad, Benedict brought his houses into the closest connection with the ecclesiastical life of the continent. At the same time there is evidence that there was no narrow spirit in the brotherhood which he formed, and that its relations with the Celtic church were not unfriendly (H. E. v. c. 21). Such, then, were the influences which were brought to bear on the youth of Bæda. They had a marked effect on his character and work.
When Ceolfrith was appointed to preside over the new foundation at Jarrow, Bæda seems to have gone with him. He can scarcely be said to have changed his home; for the two monasteries were in truth one, so close was the connection between them, and after the death of Benedict, Ceolfrith ruled over both alike (Vit. Abb. 15). We may venture to appropriate to the boyhood of Bæda a story told by one of his contemporaries (Hist. Abb. Gyrv. auct. anon. 14). A pestilence so thinned the brotherhood at Jarrow, that there was not one monk left who could read or answer the responses save Ceolfrith and a little boy whom he had brought up. So the abbot was forced to order that the services should be sung without responses, save at matins and vespers. For one week this went on, until the abbot could no longer bear the dreariness of it. After that he and the child laboured day by day through the whole services, singing each in his turn alone, until others learned to take their part.
In his nineteenth year Bæda was ordained deacon. The early age at which he was allowed to receive ordination implies that he was distinguished by holiness and ability. He entered the priesthood at the canonical age of thirty. In both cases he was presented by his abbot, Ceolfrith, and received his orders from the hands of Bishop John of Beverley (H. E. v. c. 24). A tradition that Bæda visited Rome was current in the time of William of Malmesbury, and is mentioned by him (Gest. Reg. i. 57). Malmesbury gives a letter of Pope Sergius to Ceolfrith, telling him that he had need of a learned man to help him in certain matters of ecclesiastical law, and asking him to send Bæda to him–'Dei famulum Bedam venerabilis tui monasterii presbyterum.' Now, as Sergius died in 701, Bæda could not have been a priest at the time of this invitation. The letter of Sergius, however, exists in a manuscript (Cotton, Tib. A. xv. 50-52) which is two centuries earlier than the time of Malmesbury. This manuscript, in place of 'Bedam,' has 'N' = nomen, signifying that a name was to be supplied, and the word 'presbyterum' is also left out in it. Both are interlined by a later hand. It is, however, possible that Bæda may have been specially invited to Rome; for Malmesbury may have copied from a still earlier manuscript, and the omission of his name in the Cotton MS. may have been through carelessness. As this manuscript stands (without 'presbyterum'), it seems as if some word was left out, and 'presbyterum' may have been written in the original papal letter, through ignorance of the fact that Bæda had not at that time entered priest's orders. Sergius, when in need of advice, may well have asked for Bæda. He would scarcely have asked Ceolfrith for one of his monks without naming any one in particular. Nor would it be wonderful that the pope should have heard of the learning of the young Northumbrian monk; for the visits of Benedict to Rome had drawn his monasteries into close connection with the papal see, and the letter, whichever way we read it, illustrates the high position which the houses of Wearmouth and Jarrow already held in Christendom. Some of Bæda's fellow-monks were sent by Ceolfrith to Rome in 701, and came back with a papal privilege for their house. Bæda did not go with them (Vit. Abb. 15; De Temporum ratione, 47). The various legends which relate to his supposed visit to Rome may therefore be passed over. The story which takes him to Cambridge no longer demands refutation, though it once formed the subject of much bygone antiquarianism (T. Caii Vindiciæ, p. 321, &c. ed. Hearne, 1719).
With the exception of a few visits to friends, Bæda spent all his life at Jarrow from the time when he moved thither as a child. He studied the Scriptures with all his might, and while he was diligent in observing the discipline of his order, and in taking part in the daily services of the church, he loved to be always learning, teaching, or writing (H. E. v. 24). His character and opinions are to be gathered chiefly from his books. He was a man of gentle and cultivated feelings, full of kindly sympathies, and with a singular freshness of mind, which gave life and beauty to his stories. The chapter on the conversion of Northumbria, the tale of how poetic inspiration came to Cædmon, and of how he died, and the whole 'Life of Cuthberht' are but instances of his exquisite power of story-telling. With this power was combined a love of truth and fairness. His condemnation of the cruel and foolish war made by Ecgfrith, the benefactor of his house, against the Irish Scots (H. E. iv. 26), and his ungrudging record of the good deeds of Wilfrith (H. E. iv. 13, v. 19), are striking proofs of his freedom from prejudice. Brought, as he was from his earliest years, under the influences alike of Iona and Rome and Gaul and Canterbury, he had broad ecclesiastical sympathies. While he condemned and wrote against the Celtic customs concerning the date of Easter and the form of the tonsure, he dwelt much on the holiness of Aidan (H. E. iii. 5, 15-17), and he wrote the 'Life of Cuthberht' both in prose and verse. His love for the monastic profession led him to regard with evident admiration the powerful position held by the abbot of Iona (H. E. iii. 4), and the universal monachism of the church of Lindisfarne (Vit. S. Cuth. 16), though, as a zealous follower of the Benedictine order, which had found its way from the great houses of the continent to the new foundations of Northumbria, he disapproved the laxity of the Celtic rule. Filled with the desire of seeing an increase in the episcopate, he contemplated the possibility of providing for new bishops out of the possessions of those religious houses which were unfaithful to their profession, a plan which would have tended to purify the monasteries by reducing their means of luxury, and to exalt their power by closely connecting them with the episcopate (Ep. ad Ecgb. 10-12). With views so far-reaching and catholic, Bæda could have had little sympathy with the eager and narrow-minded Wilfrith. The circumstances of his life made Wilfrith look on Cuthberht and on John of Beverley as intruders (Hist. of York, Raine, xxxiv). To Bæda they were saints, and he records with evident disapproval how Eata and Cuthberht and their fellows were driven out of Ripon to make room for Wilfrith (Vit. S. Cuth. 8).
The names of several of the friends of Bæda are well known. Most of his works are dedicated to them, and some were written at their request. Among them were Nothelm, afterwards archbishop of Canterbury, and an ecclesiastic named Albinus. Both these helped Bæda in his 'Historia Ecclesiastica,' and Albinus more than any one urged him to undertake the work. Ecgberht, archbishop of York, and Acca and Frithhere, bishops of Hexham and Sherborne, were also his friends. To Acca he dedicated most of his theological works. From this bishop, who was also one of the most faithful friends of Wilfrith (Eddius, 56, 64), Bæda probably obtained the full information which he had about Wilfrith's good deeds. Even Bæda had some enemies who seem to have been jealous of his literary pre-eminence. At a feast held by Wilfrith, bishop of York (d. 732), he was accused by some of the guests of having expressed heretical opinions in his 'De Temporibus liber minor.' The scandalous accusation was heard unrebuked by the bishop, and was probably circulated by one of his household. Bæda replied to it by a letter to a friend (Ep. ad Plegwinum), which was written with the expressed intention that it should be shown to Wilfrith. In it he speaks plainly of the unseemly revelry of the episcopal feast, and this reference (cf. Carmen de Pontif. Eccl. Ebor. 1. 1232) shows that the bishop in question was the second of that name and not the more famous Wilfrith.
Bæda loved to meditate and make notes on the Scriptures. Simeon of Durham (d. 1130) records (Hist. de Dunelm. Eccl. c. 14) that there used to be shown a stone hut (mansiuncula), where, secure from all interruption, he was wont to meditate and work. In the time of Leland (Collect. iv. p. 42, ed. 1720), the three monks of Jarrow, all who were then left of that once famous congregation, showed what is described as his oratory. The little boy who worked so hard with his abbot to keep up the antiphonal chant when all the burden of the singing lay on them alone, rejoiced all his life to take part in the services of the monastery church. Alcuin, writing after Bæda's death to the monks of Wearmouth, tells them (Alc. Ep. 16, ed. Migne), that he loved to say, 'I know that angels visit the congregation of the brethren at the canonical hours, and what if they should not find me among the brethren? Would they not say, "Where is Bæda? Why comes he not with his brethren to the prayers appointed?"' The attainments of Bæda prove that he must have been a diligent student. He has recorded the name of another of his teachers besides the abbot Ceolfrith. Trumberht, he tells us, used to instruct him in the Scriptures. He had been a pupil of Ceadda, and used to tell his scholar much about his old master (H. E. iv. 3). From him doubtless Beeda learned to reverence the holy men of the Celtic church. John of Beverley is also said by Folcard (Vit S. Johan. c. 2) to have been his teacher. It may have been so, but, as Folcard lived in the middle of the eleventh century, he must not be regarded as an authority on this matter. It is not unlikely that Bæda received help from some of the disciples of Theodore and Hadrian, of whom he speaks with admiration (H. E. iv. 2), and he must certainly have come under the instruction of John the archcantor (Vit. Abb. 6; see Stevenson's Introd. p. ix). Besides knowing Latin he understood Greek and had some acquaintance with Hebrew. He quotes Homer, Lucretius, Virgil, Ovid, Horace, Terence, and many other writers of less classical fame (Wright, Biog. Lit. i. 39-41). He was familiar with patristic literature, and was a diligent translator and compiler of extracts from that great storehouse. Like most of his countrymen at that age, he was a singer. His mind was well stored with the songs of his native land, and he had what was then in England the not uncommon gift of improvisation. Besides his powers as an historian and a biographer, he knew all the learning of his time, its grammar, rhetoric, mathematics, and physical science. All his talents were employed in the cause of his church and in the instruction of others. He was a diligent teacher, and found many scholars among the six hundred monks who in his days thronged the sister houses of St. Peter and St. Paul (Vit. Abb. 17). Some of these pupils, like Nothelm who has been already mentioned, Huætberht and Cuthberht, two successive abbots of Wearmouth, and Constantine, became the friends of after years, and were among those to whom Bæda dedicated his works.
A sentence in the 'Ep. ad Wicredum de Paschæ Celebratione,' which speaks of 776 as the current year, gave rise to the belief that Bæda lived at least to that date. Mabillon has however pointed out that the sentence is an interpolation by another hand (Pagi, Critic. Baron. xii. 401; Mabillon, Analect. i. 398). The day of his death is known to have been the Feast of the Ascension, 26 May 735, by a letter written by one of his pupils named Cuthberht to Cuthwine, his fellow scholar (Stevenson, Introd. xiv; Simeon of Durham, p. 8; S. Bonifacii Op. ep. 113, ed. Giles). Bæda, Cuthberht says, suffered from a tightness of breath which grew rapidly worse during the month of April. Up to 26 May, however, he continued his lectures, and through the many sleepless hours of night was still cheerful, sometimes giving thanks to God, sometimes chanting words of Holy Scripture, or lines of English verse, which bade men remember how — 'Before he need go forth, none can be too wise in thinking, how before his soul shall go, what good or ill deeds he hath done, how after death his doom shall be;' or again he sang the antiphons, hoping to console the hearts of his scholars, but when he came to the words 'Leave us not orphans,' he wept much, and they wept with him. And so the days wore on, and in spite of his sickness he worked hard that he might finish his translation into English of the Gospel of St. John, for he knew that it would be of use to the church, and also of some extracts from Bishop Isidore, for 'I do not want my boys,' he said, 'to read what is false, or to have to work at this without profit when I am dead.' On the day of his death, when the rest had gone to the procession held on the festival, his scribe was left alone with him. 'Dearest master,' he said, 'there is one chapter wanting, and it is hard for thee to question thyself'. 'No, it is easy,' he said; 'take thy pen and write quickly.' He spent the day in giving his little treasures of spice and incense to the priests of the house, in asking their prayers, and in bidding them farewell. The evening came, and his young scribe said, 'There is yet one more sentence, dear master, to write out.' He answered, 'Write quickly.' After a while the boy said, 'Now It is finished.' 'Well,' he said, 'thou hast spoken truly "It is finished."' Then he bade his friends place him where he could look on the spot on which he was wont to kneel in prayer. And lying thus upon the pavement of his cell, he chanted the 'Gloria Patri,' and as he uttered the words 'the Holy Ghost' he breathed his last, and 'so he passed to the kingdom in heaven.'
Bæda was buried at Jarfow. Men recognised the greatness of the loss which had come upon them. Winfrith (St. Boniface) wrote to Cuthberht to beg him to send him one of the works of Bæda, 'that wise searcher of Scripture who of late shone in your house of God like a candle in the church' (Bon. Epp. 37, 62, ed. Giles). Before the end of the eighth century, Alcuin used his name to excite the Northumbrian monks to study diligently and betimes, and bade them remember 'what praise Bæda had of men, and how far more glorious a reward from God'. (Mabillon, Analect. ii. 310). In his poem on the bishops and other ecclesiastics of the church of York, he reckons over the various powers of the departed master, and speaks of a miracle worked by his relics (Carmen de Pontif. &c. Eccl. Ebor. 1. 1300- 1317). In the course of the next century the epithet 'Venerable' began to be generally added to his name. Each year, on the day of his death, men used to come and watch and pray in the church at Jarrow. A certain priest of Durham named Alfred, who lived in the first half of the eleventh ceutury, and who seems to have spent his life in stealing the bones and other relics of departed saints in order to attract the gifts of the faithful to his own church, violated the grave of Bæda. He carried off the bones to Durham, and placed them in the coffin in which St. Cutherht lay. There they were found at the translation of St. Cuthberht in 1104. Bishop Hugh de Puiset (1153-1195) laid them in a casket of gold and silver in the glorious galilee which he added to his church. In 1541 the casket of Bishop Hugh fell a prey to sacrilegious greed, and the remains of the great English scholar were dispersed (Sim. Dunelm. iii. 7; Gehle, Disput. 33 et seq.; As late as the middle of the eighteenth century 'Bede's well' at Moukton, near Jarrow, 'was in repute as a bath for the recovery of infirm or diseased children' (Surtees, Hist. of Durham, ii. 80). According to the list which Bæda appended to his 'Historia Ecclesiastica,' the books which he had written by the year 731, when that work was broght to an end, were: 1. On the first part of the Book of Genesis, four books. 2. On the Tabernacle, its Vessels, &c. three books. 3. On the first part of Samuel to the death of Saul, three books. 4. An Allegorical Exposition on the Building of the Temple, two books. 5. On Thirty Questions concerning the Book of the Kings. 6. On the Proverbs of Solomon, three books. 7. On the Song of Solomon, seven books. 8. Extracts from St. Jerome on the divisions of chapters in Isaiah, Daniel, the twelve Prophets, and part of Jeremiah. 9. On Ezra and Nehemiah, three books. 10. On Habakkuk, one book. 11. An Allegorical Exposition of the Book of Tobit, one book. 12. Chapters for readings in the Pentateuch, Joshua, and Judges. 13. On the Books of Kings and Chronicles. 14. On the Book of Job. 15. On the Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and the Song of Solomon. 16. On Isaiah, Ezra, and Nehemiah. 17. On Mark, four books. 18. On Luke, six books. 19. Two books of 'Homilies on the Gospel.' 20. Extracts from St. Augustine on the Apostle (Paul). 21. On the Acts, two books. 22. A Book on each of the General Epistles. 23. On the Apocalypse, three books. 24. Chapters for readings in the New Testament except the Gospels. 25. A book of Letters, in which are: 'Of the Six Ages,' 'Of the Resting Places of Israel,' 'Of the Words of Is. xxiv. 22,' 'Of Bissextile,' 'Of Anatolius on the Equinox.' 26. On the Histories of the Saints, on the Life and Passion of St. Felix. 27. A more correct translation from the Greek of the 'Life and Passion of St. Anastasius.' 28. The life of St. Cuthberht in verse, the same in prose. 29. The History of the Abbots, Benedict, Ceolfrith, and Huætberht. 30. The 'Ecclesiastical History of our island and people,' five books. 31. A Martyrology. 32. A book of Hymns. 33. A book of Epigrams. 34. Two books on the 'Nature of Things' and on 'Chronology.' 35. A larger book on Chronology. 36. On Orthography. 37. On the Art of Metre, and appended to it a little book on the Figures and modes of speech in Holy Scripture.
To this list must be added as undoubtedly genuine the letters to Albinus and Ecgberht and the 'Retractationes' which were written later than 731, the book on the Holy Places written before that year, but left out by Bæda probably through forgetfulness, and a 'Pœnitentiale.'
Of the works enumerated by Baeda no genuine copies exist of 8, 13, 14, 15, 16, 20, 27, 33. The extracts from Isidore, and the translation of the Gospel of St. John which employed his dying hours, have also not been preserved. And it is exceedingly doubtful whether the Hymns (32) attributed to him should, for the most part at least, be held authentic. Some scientific and other treatises, such as the 'De Septem Miraculis Mundi' and the 'De Computo seu Indigitatione,' have been wrongly considered to be his work, and a little poem entitled 'Cuculus' (Goldast, Ovidii Erotica, Frankf. 1610), is perhaps also spurious.
It is probable that the educational works, e.g. 'De Sanctis Locis' and 'De Natura Rerum,' were the earliest of Bæda's writings. The 'De Temporibus' (liber minor) ends at 702. It was written five years before the 'Epistola ad Plegwinum sive de sex ætatibus,' and if, as seems almost certain, the bishop mentioned in that letter was the second Wilfrith, the dates of both of these works must be considerably later than has been supposed. As the 'Commentary on Samuel' (3) is dedicated to Ceolfrith, it must have been written before his death in 716, while the 'Historia Abbatum' (29) was written after that event. The 'De Temporibus' (liber major) (35) ends with the ninth year of Leo the Isaurian, viz. 724, or, according to the author's chronology, 729, and may be considered to have been finished at that date. From a letter of Acca prefixed to the 'Commentary on Luke' (18) it is evident that that work was written after the 'Commentary on the Acts' (21). The 'Historia Ecclesiastica' (30), as before mentioned, was finished in 731. In the same or in the next year was written the 'Epistola ad Albinum.' The 'Liber Retractationum' also came after the 'Historia.' As the 'Epistola ad Ecgberhtum' was written on his accession to the see of York in 734, it may be considered the latest extant work of Bæda.
Collective editions of the writings of Bæda have been published at Paris in 6 vols. fol. 1544-5, reprinted in 1554; (these editions are extremely rare, and of the earlier one, only a portion is in the British Museum); at Basle in 8 vols. fol. by F. Hervagius, 1563; at Cologne in 1612, a reprint of the Basle edition, but not so fine a work, reprinted at Cologne in 1688; at London in 12 vols. 8vo, by F. A. Giles, LL.D., 1843-4; and in the 'Patrologiæ Cursus Completus' (xc.-xcv.) of J. P. Migne, Paris, 1844. Of the various editions of the several works those only will be mentioned which appear noteworthy. A list, which is probably complete, up to 1842, will be found in Wright's 'Biog. Brit Lit.' i. 283-288.
The commentaries on the Old Testament are for the most part in the folio editions, and in the more complete collection of Dr. Giles. They were also published in Paris by Gering and Rembolt, 1499 — 'a very rare book' (Wright). Many of them are dedicated to Acca. They are filled with allegorical interpretations. Even the book of Tobit is made to contain teachings about Christ and the sacraments. For the most part these works appear to be compiled from the Fathers. Bæda says in his book on Genesis (1) that, as the works of Basil, Ambrose, and Augustine are too expensive and too deep for most people, he 'has culled, as from the pleasant meadows of far flowering Paradise, what may supply the need of the weak. This work was appended to Usher's 'Historia Dogmatum,' 1689, and was edited, with some other writings of Bæda, by Wharton (4to, London), in 1693. The 'Thirty Questions on Kings' (5) were propounded by Nothelm, and the treatise was written for him. Short comments of a more practical character than those in most of Bæda's works are appended to the 'Proverbs ' (6), though even here allegorical interpretation is not deserted. It wholly prevails in the last part of the commentary. This part is printed separately in the folio editions, under the title of 'Mulier Fortis;' but is really the exposition of c. xxxi. 10-31. The first book of the 'Exposition of the Canticles' (7) was written against the errors of Julian, Bishop of Celano. The 'Commentary on Habakkuk' (10) is not in the folio editions, and was first published by Martene in his 'Thesaurus Novus,' Paris, 1717. It is dedicated to an abbess.
The commentaries on the New Testament were printed at Paris in 1521. They are also in the folios, and in Dr. Giles's editions. In his dedicatory letter to Acca attached to his commentary on 'Mark,' Bæda says that he has placed on the margin the names of the fathers from whose works his comments are extracted, and he begs that transcribers will not neglect to copy these entries. This request has not been obeyed. A book purporting to be his, 'In Apostolum quæcunque in opusculis S. Augustini,' &c. (20), was published by G. Boussard, Paris, 1499, but has been shown by Baronius to be spurious. A preface to the 'Seven General Epistles' (22) exists in one, and that the earliest, manuscript only. This manuscript was discovered by Wharton in the library of Caius College, Cambridge. The reason of its omission in later manuscripts cannot be mistaken, for it argues that the first place in the apostolic company belongs to St. James and not to St. Peter. An illustration of the large-mindedness of Bæda is afforded by his book on the 'Apocalypse' (23), where, he says, he has followed Tychonius the Donatist, whose interpretations, where they are not affected by the errors of his sect, he praises highly. He adheres to his allegorical method of exposition in his New Testament commentaries, and even applies it to the Acts of the Apostles (21). The 'Retractationes' are corrections of the commentary on the Acts. In this work Bæda says that he made a careful collation of the Greek codex. The Homilies on the Gospels (in folio editions, and with eleven before unedited by Martene, 1717) were for a long time held to be doubtful. By the discovery of an early manuscript at Boulogne, Dr. Giles has proved the authenticity of fifty-nine Homilies of Bæda, which he has published in his collective edition. The teaching about the name Peter in Hom. 27 is in accord with that of the preface to the General Epistles. These discourses certainly present a high view of the sacrament of the Lord's supper (Homs. 4 and 37), but at the same time do not contain the doctrine afterwards propounded by Radbert. The opinions of Bæda on this question were represented in different lights in the once celebrated discussion between Rev. Dr. Lingard and Rev. H. Soames. A curious example of the allegorical method of interpretation is to be found in Hom. 18, where the six water-pots of Cana are explained as types of the six ages of the world.
The 'Life of St. Felix of Nola' (26), a prose version of the poem of Paulinus, was published in Bolland, 'Acta SS.' i. January 1643, and by Smith in 1722. The metrical 'Life of St. Cuthberht' (28), written in Latin hexameters, is a proof of the learning of Bæda rather than of any poetic feeling. It is included in the 'Antiquæ Lectiones' of Canisius, v. In the preface to the prose 'Life' Bæda says that he derived his information from those who were best acquainted with the truth. He certainly used very largely the anonymous 'Life' printed in 'Acta SS.' Mart. iii. and by Stevenson. He frequently, he tells us, submitted his sheets to the priest Herefrith and others, who had long known Cuthberht, and made such alterations as they suggested. At length the work was sent to Lindisfarne, where for two days it was carefully examined by the elder monks, who approved it and gave Bæda some fresh information. When he had made these additions, he dedicated the book to the abbot Eadfrith and the congregation of Lindisfarne, and handed it over to the transcribers. In this preface Bæda refers to the insertion of his name in white in the book of Lindisfarne. This placed him amongst those benefactors who were entitled to be remembered in the prayers of that house. Both the Lives of St. Cuthberht are in 'Acta SS. O. S. B.' sæc. ii., Paris, 1669; in the 'Historical Works' by Smith; and in the 'Opera Hist. Minora' of Stevenson (Eng. Hist. Soc), 1838. The 'Lives of the Abbots' (29) is founded on another anonymous work. It has been printed by Ware, Dublin, 1664; by Wharton, London, 1693; by Smith and by Stevenson. The 'Martyrologium ' (31), as published in the folio editions and Antwerp, 1564, was shown by Henschen to be largely spurious. His discovery of an early manuscript in the library of Queen Christina led to a satisfactory sifting of the work, and in the edition of Smith the entries of Bæda are distinguished from those by other hands. The work generally known as the 'De Sex Ætatibus' is really a part of the 'De Temporum ratione' (35). It was printed with 'De Natura Rerum' at Venice, 1505, at Basle, 1529, and by Smith. The last part, or Sexta Ætas, containing extracts from Eutropius, Orosius, and Gildas, concerning Britain, is printed alone in 'Mon. Hist. Brit.' and by Stevenson. The chronicle of the earlier ages is chiefly taken from Eusebius (M. H. B. p. 70). The 'Pœnitentiale' was printed in an imperfect form by Martene and Durand, in collectio vii., from a manuscript at Andain; and correctly by Wasserschleben, in 'Bussordnungen der abendländischen Kirche,' from a Vienna manuscript: and in Haddan and Stubbs's 'Councils and Ecclesiastical Documents,' iii. 326; the 'Liber de Remediis Peccatorum,' printed at Venice, 1684, and in the collective editions, is a compilation (Haddan and Stubbs).
Mr. Stevenson in his Introduction has given an exhaustive account of the sources from which the 'Historia Ecclesiastica' (30) is derived. Up to the coming of St. Augustine in 596 the work is compiled from former writers, e.g. Eutropius and Gildas, from legends and popular traditions, and from the 'Life of St. Germanus' by Constantius of Lyons. From 596 Bæda used both written documents and oral intelligence. His extracts from books now become few. Among these books Stevenson reckons (Introd. xxiv) the 'Life of Gregory the Great' by Paul the Deacon. As, however, Paul was born 720-725 (Waitz, Prœf. Paul. Diac.) it is probable that he and Bæda went to some common source. Paul certainly had the 'Hisitoria Ecclesiastica' (30) at hand when he was writing his 'History of the Lombards.' Bæda made considerable use of local records. Albinus and Nothelm seem to have furnished him with materials for the history of the kingdom of Kent, of the archbishops of Canterbury, of the diocese of Rochester, and of East Anglia. From Bishop Daniel he derived his knowledge of the history of the West and South Saxons, and from the monks of Læstingaeu of the work of Cedd and Ceadda. Bishop Cyneberht gave him a few materials concerning his diocese of Lindesey. His account of Northumbrian history is naturally full, and in some parts, e.g. the history of Eadwine, records details which show that he must have used important local annals. The official documents contained in the 'Historia Ecclesiastica' consist of copies made from the papal registers for Bæda by Nothelm (Ann. Baron. xii. 364) and of the proceedings of English councils. Bæda constantly refers to oral communications. He is particular in recording the name and description of any one from whom he received information. He evidently weighed the credibility of his informants, and distinguished between the value of the reports of eye-witnesses and of those who only repeated what they had heard. The earliest edition of 'Historia Ecclesiastica' is a folio, without pagination, catch-words, date, place, or name of printer. It has been assigned to H. Eggesteyn, Strasburg, cir. 1473 (Ebert). Two other editions were put out before the end of the century, at Strasburg in 1483 and at Spires in 1490. Next come the Strasburg edition of 1500, and the Hagenau edition by J. Rynman, 1506 (M. H. B. 71). All these are in small folio, double columns, and Gothic letters, and are mainly reprints of the first edition. The 'Historia Ecclesiastica' was again printed at Antwerp by Gravius in 1550. Although this is to a large extent a reprint of the 1500 edition, it supplies the hitherto unprinted conclusion of v. 24, and is a fine and scarce book. It was reprinted at Louvain, 1566; at Heidelberg, 1587, by Commeline, who corrected several errors by collating a good manuscript; at Cologne, 1601; and in the Basle and Cologne collective editions. The first edition brought out in England was by A. Whelo, Cambridge, 1644, together with the Anglo-Saxon version attributed to King Ælfred. A critical edition was produced by P. F. Chifflet, S.J., Paris, 1681. In 1722 all former editions were superseded by that of Canon J. Smith, printed at Cambridge, chiefly founded on the manuscript of Bishop More in the Cambridge Library. It contains the Anglo-Saxon version and other historical works, and is a very noble volume. Another edition of the historical works was brought out by J. Stevenson in 2 vols. 8vo, for the Eng. Hist. Soc., London, 1838, with an excellent introduction. The 'Historia Ecclesiastica' has also been edited by B. Hussey, Oxford, 1846, by G. H. Moberly, Oxford, 1869, and lib. iii. and iv. by Mayor and Lumby, Pitt Press, 1879. The 'Ep. ad Ecgberhtum 'contains interesting information as to the condition of the English church at the time, together with the plan of Bæda for the improvement of its discipline. It has been edited by Ware, Dublin, 1664; Wharton, London, 1693; Smith and Stevenson.
The treatise 'De Natura Rerum' (34) contains such physical science as was then known. It collects the wisdom of the ancient world on this subject, and has the special merit of referring phenomena to natural causes. It was published together with the two works on chronology at Basle, 1529. 'Liber de Orthographia' (36) was printed in the 'Gramm. Lat. Auct. Ant.,' Han. 1605. The 'De Arte Metrica' (37) contains a large number of quotations, not only from the better known, but from obscure Latin poets, and has many references to Greek examples. It was printed by Putsch in 'Vet. Gramm.,' Paris, 1616, and is contained in 'Gramm. Lat.' of H. Keil, Leip. 1857. The short treatises 'De Schematibus et Tropis' (37) were published at Milan by Ant. Zarotus, 1473, with two other grammatical works. This book is without signatures, catch-words, or pagination, and is very scarce (Ebert). It has also been published at Venice, 1522; at Basle, 1527, &c. It is included in the 'Rhetores Lat. Min.' of C. Halm, Leip., 1863. Bæda took his 'Libellus de situ Hierusalem sive de Locis Sanctis' from the work of Adamnan. He has not included this epitome in his index, but refers to it (Hist. Eccl. v. 17) at the close of his extract from the book of Adamnan. It was printed by Mabillon in 'Acta SS.' iii. 1. Eleven hymns attributed to Bæda (32) were printed by Cassander, Paris, 1556; one of these, 'De Die Judicii,' is in Simeon of Durham's 'De Gestis Regum.' Four others have been added by Giles in his 'Opera omnia.' Of the Letters (25) besides the 'Ep. ad Ecgberhtum' are preserved — the 'Ep. ad Albinum' in Mabillon, Analect. i. in Smith and in Stevenson; the 'Ep. ad Plegwinum de Sex Ætatibus,' on the occasion of the accusation made at the feast of Wilfrith, was edited by Ware, Dublin, 1664, and Wharton, London, 1693; the 'Ep. ad Wicredum' is in the folio editions; the 'Ep. ad Accam de Mansionibus,' &c., and 'Ad Accam de eo quod ait Esaias,' &c., were first printed by Dr. Giles in his 'Opera omnia,' 1843, and the 'Ep. de Bissexto' in the 'Anecdota,' edited by Giles for the Caxton Soc., 1844.
The Anglo-Saxon version of the 'Historia Ecclesiastica' attributed to ÆIfred has been noticed. An Anglo-Saxon version of the 'De Die Judicii' was published under the title 'Be Domes Dæga' by the E. Eng. Text. Soc., 1876. Translations of the 'Historia Ecclesiastica' into English have been made by T. Stapleton, Antwerp, 1565; by F. Stevens, London, 1723; by W. Hurst, London, 1814; by F. A. Giles, London, 1840; and by L. Gidley, Oxford, 1870.[Bædæ Hist. Eccl. et Opera Historica, Stevenson; other works in Opera Omnia, ed. Giles; Gehles Disputatio Hist-Theol. de Bædæ vita. &c.; Wright's Biog. Lit.; Ebert's Bibliog. Dict.; and authorities quoted in text.]