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THEODORUS THE SCHOLAR.
Easter for nearly two centuries after Augustine's attempt at conformity. In fact, the supremacy of Canterbury over the Welsh Church was only effected pari passu with the conquest of the principality by the English kings; the native spirit of independence struggled against one yoke as much as the other, and the willing submission which Augustine might have won scoms never again to have been attainable.
The Saxon Deusdedit died of the yellow pestilence, before he had the happiness of seeing himself acknowledged as primate by an united Church of England. That honour was reserved for a Greek by birth, but a member of the Latin Church-Theodorus, born and educated in the apostolic city of Tarsus, and perhaps the first scholar of his time. He entered upon his office at sixty-four years of age, but no more vigorous or able ruler was ever enthroned at Canterbury. He was the second founder of the English Church and Episcopate. To him we owe, almost in its very details, our admirable parochial system. Hitherto both the Celtic Church Establishment, and that which the Italians had founded in England, had been almost entirely of a missionary character; now, the thanes and nobles were encouraged to endow churches permanently, by the admission of the principle laid down by the Emperor Justinian in 541, that the patronage should remain with the heirs of the founder. Under Theodorus, too, sound learning went hand in hand with religious discipline. The reproach of ignorance, continually brought against the parochial clergy in after times-often, no doubt, with justice, but often also with all the exaggeration of sectarian bitterness--might never have been heard, if all succeeding prelátes had been as careful for their education as he was. England's scholarship owes a heavy debt to her Greek archbishop. He made an university of Augustine's monastery of St. Peter and St. Paul, and several of the provincial monasteries became, as it were, affiliated colleges. There, under Hadrian, (an African monk, who had been selected by the Pope for the primacy of Canterbury, but had declined it in favour of his friend Theodorus, whom he accompanied into his new province) the classical literature which was declining in Gaul found a kindly home for the first time in England. The contemporary accounts which we have of the curriculum might startle some who talk of those early days of the English Church as the “dark ages.” Medicine, geometry, astronomy-even the more practical science of arithmetic, so long despised, and of late so suddenly exalted — were studied in these early schools. Music was carefully taught, and we owe the introduction of the organ to Theodorus. But the most important exercise of the pupils appears to have been Latin composition. A future archbishop, Tatwine, who was educated under Hadrian, boasts of having written Latin verses “in a hundred different metres;” and, from some specimens which have survived, they scem
not to have been worse than it is the fate of masters of public schools still to read and adjudicate upon.
Archbishop Theodore seems to have been the first primate who entered upon a regular visitation of his province. Canterbury had up to this time not more than six suffrayan bishops; but the larger dioceses were now subdivided by him. He found plenty of other work to do. He was strict in enforcing the observance of the Roman Easter, which some unorthodox clergy still refused to recognize; and he insisted upon the “ tonsure” of St. Peter-a circle of hair round the shorn head-in contradistinction to the fashion of the Eastern Church, which the recusants amongst his Celtic brethren still affected, shaving the front of the head only, and leaving the back hair to its natural growth.
But Theodore was no mere martinet; and if he attached what some may think undue weight to trifling outward observances, he did so because he considered conformity or recusancy on such points the signs of union or disunion within the Church. He attacked with strong hand abuses far more important than matters of form, and more difficult of correction. He denounced in his charges the crying sins of the time amongst both clergy and laity; he went so far as to use the power which the civil authorities conceded to a bishop on progress, of ordering public scourging to be inflicted on notorious moral offenders; he ordered that the clergy should enjoin upon every father of a family “to see that his children be taught to say the Creed and the Lord's Prayer in the vulgar tongue;" and he waged war against the hydra of Saxon Paganism.
For there would be no greater mistake than to suppose that this evangelizing of England—this parcelling out into dioceses, and baptism of thousands at a time-implied that the mass of the people had adopted anything like an intelligent Christian faith. The old ecclesiastical chroniclers may disguise the truth, but up to this time heathenism beat in the very heart of the nation. The Italian mission, and the evangclists whom the Celtic Church had sent out, had each done a great work; but there was a greater to do still, which would be the work of centuries. When the petty kingdoms of the Saxons adopted Christianity with their king, it became in too many cases merely the compliance of subjects with the royal ceremonial, or the adoption of the Saviour and the Virgin, in some distorted ideal, into their Pagan demonology. The proofs of this meet us everywhere, and would take a volume to collect and display. It is sufficient to say here that Theodore found it necessary, as his successors Brightwald, Odo, Dunstan, and even Lanfranc did, to warn his half-pagan flock against the worship of idols, offerings to the devil, and the old deification of nature.
Archbishop Theodore was more doubtfully employed when he reduced the doctrine of penance, which was gradually growing up in
THE MONKS AND THE CANONS.
the church, into a regular and elaborate system. In this, the evil that he did lives after him. Yet the good might have been discernible in its day. A formal and material act of penitence was better than none. A money payment, though no satisfaction for sin, might yet be a token of repentance; and sometimes a more sincere token than mere professions of sorrow with which modern penitents are too often content. It must be remembered, too, that in those days a money payment was held to be good compensation for all crimes against the laws of the land; so that there would not seem the same incongruity as to our minds in adopting the principle for offences against heaven. In those days every man had his price. The slaying of an archbishop could be expiated, so far as the state was concerned, by the payment of a heavy wehr-gild. And let it be remembered that in the case of homicides, frequent in an age of ungoverned passions, and with weapons always at hand, even such laws as these were a manifest improvement upon the older law of retaliation-blood for blood—which leaves vengeance as an acknowledged right to the next of kin. So that in estimating the intention and effect of the “Penitential” of Theodore, so far as his own age was concerned, we must take into account what was the moral system which it came in place of, and what was the moral sense of those on whom it was to operate. But that any form of money compensation for sin was vicious in principle, and likely to lead to the worst abuse of all the purchase of immunity for sins in future contemplation-is evident enough. That it was opposed to the sounder sense of the English Church, almost within the generation which first saw it promulgated, is plain from the declarations of the subsequent Synod of Cloveshoo.
Two rival ecclesiastical powers had been growing up at Canterbury, which were soon to come into collision, and to carry on a warfare for centuries. The abbey of St. Peter and St. Paul had been built by Augustine outside the walls of the city; probably with an especial view to its becoming a resting-place for the dead. Here he had placed the monks, who were members of his mission-always to be distinguished from the secular clergy, who were to be chiefly employed in the character of missionaries, who lived with the archbishop himself, and were called his “family.” Originally governed by no special rule, and becoming somewhat irregular in their habits in consequence, these latter found a reformer about this time in Chrodegang, Archbishop of Metz, who established for their order a rule or “canon," from which they afterwards were themselves called canons. They were from that time governed by a dean, who held much the same position as the prior in a convent of monks. The bishop stood to them in the place of abbot.
Between the monks and the canons everywhere there was a perpetual jealousy. It rose to an especial height at Canterbury from peculiar circumstances. All the archbishops had been buried, as a matter of course, in the monastery. King Ethelred and his queen lay there too; and, as the relics of saints were said to work miracles, the constant resort of pilgrims to the royal and episcopal sepulchres was very profitable to the reputation of the monastery, and, as the rich brought with them valuable offerings, to its revenues also. For this reason, as well as affecting a general superiority, the monks of St. Augustine's looked down upon the canons of Canterbury. It was natural for the archbishops to stand up for the honour of their own house and “family;" and one -Cuthbert-determined to break the spell to which the monastery owed its chief influence. He had taken a great interest in enlarging and beautifying his cathedral church, and there he determined his bones should rest, in spite of all precedent to the contrary. Whatever sanctity might be supposed to attach to them—and he appears to have been an excellent archbishop—his own cathedral and chapter should reap the benefit. He took his measures with what the Augustinian chroniclers call “a vulpine policy,” but which his own canons, no doubt, held to be the most pious forethought. He was known to be near his end; and one day the great bell of the cathedral was heard tolling, according to usual custom, for--as was thought-the departing spirit of the primate. The monks prepared themselves for their usual office of burial; and when the sound changed into the death-knell, they appeared at the palace to bear away the body. Cuthbert had already been buried in the dead of the previous night by his own chapter, with the king's knowledge and consent. Such was the violent indignation of the monastic party, that one is inclined to wonder that they restrained themselves from disinterring him. They kept armed watch and ward, under their abbot, to seize the body of the next archbishop, who died after a few years of office; but he, too, was interred in the cathedral by a repetition of the same stratagem, and the holy remains were soon said to be working miracles to the great honour and profit of the shrine. The feud was staid, as far as outward violence went, by the election of the abbot of St. Augustine's to the vacant archbishopric, with an understanding, probably, that he should be buried at the monastery. He took the surest means of securing its fulfilment, by being carried there to die. But from that time forth the custom prevailed of burying the archbishops in their own cathedral.
Twice Canterbury was pillaged by the Danes in the stormy reigns of Ethelred and Alfred. When the invaders had been brought to terms after Alfred's great victory at Ethandun, they gave an archbishop to Canterbury-Odo, son of one of the chiefs of the invasion—“a rose sprung from a thorn,” as the Saxon chroniclers call him. He was of a different type from most of his predecessors or successors. The monkish latin of his epitaph, in calling him Christi pugil invictissimus, savours of the grave facetiousness which such composilions were apt to affect. For
he was more of a soldier than a priest, fought in at least three pitched battles after his consecration, and, when Bishop of Ramsbury, is said to have saved King Athelstan's life at Brunanburgh. He was succeeded by a man who, for full forty years—during Odo's primacy and his ownwas de facto King of England. Dunstan was one of those master-spirits whom ordinary men do not altogether comprehend, even in their own times, and of whom it is almost impossible for a late posterity to form a correct judgment. His great powers are almost the only point upon which all writers are agreed. He represented in his own person all branches of learning and accomplishment which in those days were cultivated by Churchmen almost exclusively. Theology, geometry, music, painting, and smithwork—he excelled in all. He ruled the worldly by his knowledge of the world, the devout by the eloquence of his preaching; men feared his determined spirit, women admired him for those refined accomplishments which were rare gifts in a rude age. His enemies ascribed them to magic. The unlawful knowledge of the old Druids lay buried, it was said, in the mystic island of Avalon--the Glastonbury where he had been educated, the first of the seven archbishops which that great college sent to Canterbury. He himself fancied that at times he was tempted by devils. That such a man had strong passions, and that where he held his end to be good, he would
scrupulous about means, we might be sure even if his history did not tell us so. How far circumstances might or might not palliate his alleged cruelty in the case of Elgiva, is difficult to decide; certainly the admitted profligacy of the young King Edgar justified the stern discipline which took his crown from him for seven years. England prospered under his strong hand; to him, rather than to Alfred, may be ascribed the foundation of the English navy; and the minister had earned his title as “ England's breastplate," when he saw, as is said, his own sovereign, Edgar, rowed by seven tributary kings upon the Dee.
The acknowledged position of the Archbishop of Canterbury was now indeed almost royal. He was the first feudal noble under the sovereign, as well as the head of the church. He ranked above the princes of the blood, next in place and dignity to the king himself. He coined money with his own image and superscription : he had the power of life and death over an extensive district: the wehr-gild set upon his life was the same as in the case of the blood-royal; and an act of violence in his court was as high an offence as in the king's. It is not surprising to find one archbishop (Jaenbert) almost fancying himself King of Kent, and offering to become the immediate feudatory of Charlemagne, if he would recognise him in that character. Danstan's power was rather that of personal influence than of legitimate authority; but in the reign of Richard I., Hubert Walter, as chancellor,