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ignorant, and partaking of the coarse dissolute “ manners of their countrymen.” After this concession, supported as it is by the concurrent testimony which we have mentioned, there is strong reason to suppose that the corruption, complained of, could only be removed by strong measures. The substitution of the Benedictine monks to the secular canons was certainly a measure of this description. It met with great opposition : two councils were held upon it. “ Dunstan,”-you intimate,-" took care that the third which was “ held at Calne, should be decisive. The king was
kept away, on account of his youth, though he “ had been present at the former meetings. Beor
nelm, a Scottish bishop, pleaded the cause of the « clergy with great ability; alleging scripture in o their behalf, and custom ; and arguing upon the
morality and reason of the case, against the celibacy, to which by these new laws they were to be
compelled. His speech produced a great effect; “ and Dunstan did not attempt to answer it: he “ had laid aside,” says his, biographer, " all his " means but prayer. You endeavour,” said he, “ to overcome me, who am now growing old, and
disposed to silence rather than contention. I con“ fess that I am unwilling to be overcome; and “ I commit the cause of the church to Christ him“self, as judge. No sooner had these words been
spoken, than the beams and rafters gave way; “ that part of the floor, on which the clergy and “ their friends were arranged, fell with them; many “ were killed in the fall, and others grievously hurt;
“ but the part where Dunstan and his friends had “ taken their seats remained firm.”
A more atrocious crime than the charge which you thus bring against Dunstan cannot be imagined. Now, every canon of history, even the common duty of charity, requires that such an imputation should not be brought without strong evidence. The slightest evidence neither has been, nor can be produced, for its support. That a council was held at Calne; that, during its sitting, the floor fell in ; that the ecclesiastics, the nobles, and the other members who attended it, were cast into the ruin; that several lost their lives, or were materially injured ; and that Dunstan remained unhurt by standing on a beam, are the only circumstances which history has transmitted to us. Of the diabolical contrivance of the tragedy by Dunstan, no proof whatever has even been suggested. — Your great favourite, John Fox, the martyrologist, and the centuriators of Magdeburgh, ascribe the feat TO MAGIC!!!- Is this surpassed by any monkish legend ?
Nothing can be more unfavourable to the memory of Dunstan than your account of him. I apprehend that the readers of the preceding pages, and still more those, who have perused doctor Lingard's account of him, in his Antiquities of the AngloSaxon Church, and in his History of England, particularly if they have consulted the authorities cited by him, in the last of these works, have come to a very different conclusion, and consider St. Dunstan as an ornament to his religion and his country.
The Miracles of St. Dunstan. You conclude the present chapter with an account of the miracles “ at the death of Dunstan.” You thus express yourself upon them: “ Whether the “ miracles at the death of St. Dunstan were ac
tually performed by the monks, or only averred by them as having been wrought, either in their
own sight, or in that of their predecessors, there “is the same fraudulent purpose, the same audacity “ of imposture, and the same irrefragable proofs “ of that system of deceit, which the romish church “ carried on every where till the time of the Re
formation, and still pursues, wherever it retains “ its temporal power or influence.”
This is a most serious charge :-In reply to it, I beg leave to refer you to what I have already said on the miracles performed in the roman-catholic church. I must add, that the period in which the miracles, attributed to Dunstan, were performed, was the darkest period in the roman-catholic history. The nation was then suffering grievously from the effects of the Danish ravages. The demolition of monasteries ; the slaughter of their unoffending inmates, who were the teachers and scholars of the
the consequential destruction of books, and of all public and private memorials of literature and art, “ had occasioned,” to use your own words, “ the total loss of learning in the Anglo-Saxon “church.”
But the gospel of the Anglo-Saxons still remained, and was still read. It informed them of the miracles wrought by Christ; and of his promises, that, until the end of time, his disciples should perform similar miracles, and even greater: and they knew that the promises of Christ could not fail. Besides, -as doctor Lingard justly observes, “ Man is taught by human nature to attri“ bute any event to a particular cause ; and, when
an occurrence cannot be explained by the known “ laws of the universe, it is assigned, by the illite“ rate in every age, and in every religion, to the “ operation of an invisible agent. This principle
was not extirpated ; it was improved by the know“ ledge of the gospel. From the doctrine of a super“ intendant Providence, the Saxon converts were “ led to conclude, that God would often inter« fere in human concerns. To Him they ascribed
every unforeseen and unnatural event; and either “ trusted in His bounty for visible protection from
misfortune, or feared from His justice that ven
geance, which punishes guilt before the general “ day of retribution. Men, impressed with this “ notion, would rather expect the appearance of “ miraculous events. On many occasions, they would “ be the dupes of their own credulity; and,”. (particularly as they had the Divine promises, mentioned by us, in full view),--" ascribe to the bene“ ficence of the Deity, and the intercession of their
patrons, those cures which might have been “ effected by nature, or the power of the imagi“ nation." Let us add, that, in this temper of mind, it was likely that sometimes, like the Northmen, gifted with second sight, they would see what they did not see; and hear what they did not hear.
Do not these observations solve the whole difficulty? Do they not account for the abundance of miraculous relations, in the time of which we are writing? Do they not render it unnecessary, -wę had almost said inexcusable,—to account for them by imputing “ fraudulent purpose, audacity of im
posture, or systematical deceit,” as is done by you, to the persons concerned in them? “ If there was “a man,” says a writer not unknown to you", “ who could truly be called venerable, it is he, to “ whom that appellation is constantly paid, Bede, “ whose life was past in instructing his own gene“ration, and in preparing records for posterity.” Yet, on the relations of the venerable Bede, does the truth of a great portion of the Anglo-Saxon miracles depend. In the present enlightened age, does not our own country abound with superstitions? Inquire of the village beadles and the village dames. Does a week pass without an advertisement in more than one of our newspapers of a child's caul? Is this surpassed by any Saxon superstition? You yourself have recorded the miraculous incidents in the life of John Wesley.
I beg leave to submit the following remark to your consideration. While you so learnedly, and so eloquently, bring forward in “ the Book of the “ Church,” so much to the supposed discredit of the Anglo-Saxon church, should you not have
* Quarterly Review for the month of December 1811.