« ZurückWeiter »
REV. JOHN LINGARD,
AUTHOR OF ANTIQUITIES OF THE ANGLO-SAXON CHURCH.
ONE of the articles in the last number of the Edinburgh review, is a critique on the "Antiquities of the AngloSaxon church." It is not my intention to enter into any discussion with the reviewer respecting the unfair and disingenuous conduct," which it has pleased him to attribute to the author; though such a charge comes with a bad grace from one, who has studiously withheld from the knowledge of his readers every authority, on which my narrative was founded. But his contradictory statements as to the events which occurred in the reign of Edwy, have işduced me to examine every known document connected with the subject: and I have been prevailed on to communicate the result of my inquiries with the hope that they may in some measure elucidate a very obscure period of our history.
It is acknowledged by the reviewer that, "of the romantic story of Edwy and Elgiva," told by Hume and other modern writers, "little remains that is deserving of credit:" that the woman, who is the heroine of the tale, "was the mistress, not the wife of Edwy." On this subject, however, I must solicit attention to the testimony of two ancient
historians; both because they are very circumstantial in their narratives, and have seldom been consulted by later writers. The first is the contemporary biographer of Archbishop Dunstan. Of his name we are ignorant, as he has only prefixed to his work the initial letter B: but he wrote about fifteen years after the death of Dunstan, and dedicated his work to Archbishop Elfric. It is extant in manuscript in the Cotton library, Cleop. B. 13, and has been published by the Bollandists, Tom. IV, Maii, p. 344. After mentioning the accession of Edwy, he proceeds thus: "Huic quædam, licet natione præcelsa, inepta tamen mulier, cum adulta filia per nefandum familiaritatis lenocinium sectando inhærebat: eotenus scilicet, quo sese vel etiam natam suam sub conjugali titulo illi innectendo sociaret. Quas illé, ut aiunt, alternatím, quod jam pudet dicere, turpi palpatu, et absque pudore utriusque libidinose tractavit. Cum tempore statuto ab universis Anglorum principibus communi electione ungeretur et consecraretur in regem, die eodem post regale sacræ institutionis unguentum repente prosiluit lascivus, linquens læta convivia ét decibiles optimatum suorum consessiones, ad prædictum scelus lenocinii (ad prædictum luparum palpamentum. Apud Bol. p. 353.)" The optimates were offended, and after some debate Dunstan and Kynsey were chosen, "qui omnium jussis obtempe rantes regem volentem vel nolentem reducerent ad relictam sedem. Ingressi juxta principum suorum præcepta, invenerunt regiam coronam, quæ miro metallo auri et argenti, gemmarumque vario nitore conserta splendebat, procul a ,capite ad terram usque negligenter avulsam, ipsumque more maligno inter utrasque velut in vili suillorum volutabro creberrime volutantem." After entreating him in vain to return, "Dunstanus primum increpitans mulierum ineptias, manu sua, dum nollet exsurgere, extraxit eum de mochali ganearum accubitu, impositoque diademate duxit eum
secum, licet vi a mulieribus raptum, ad regale consortium. Tunc eadem Æthelgiva, sic erat nomen ignominiosæ mulieris, inanes orbes oculorum contra venerandum abbatem ferventi furore retorsit, &c." MS. Cleop. 76. Mr. Turner, who had consulted this writer, is unwilling to give credit to the indecent circumstances here mentioned, because
they are introduced with a suspicious ut aiunt;" but it is plain that the ut aiunt refers to the reports circulated before the king's coronation-of the transactions, which took place on the day of that ceremony, he speaks without doubt or qualification.
The second authority, to which I request the reader's attention, is that of Eadmer, who wrote about the year 1100. Wharton has inserted much of his life of Archbishop Dunstan in the second volume of Anglia Sacra: but he has omitted whatever regards the time previous to the accession of Edgar. This omission may be supplied from Surius, who in 1618 published the whole work, Coloniæ Agrippinæ, under the name of Osbert. I shall transcribe from Eadmer the passage relating to Edwy's coronation, as it probably may not be accessible to many of your readers. "Erat mulier quædam ex magna et alta progenie nata, filiam adultam habens. Hæ præfatæ regi Edvino assidue adhærebant, suis blanditiis et nutibus illecebrosis pro viribus operam dantes, quatenus unam illarum sibi in conjugium copularet. Ad quas ille impudico illiciti amoris desiderio fervens, indecenti amplexu nunc hanc nunc illam, neutrius adspectum in hoc erubescens, destringebat. Die quo ipse in regem est consecratus, a loco convivii, in quo cum archiepiscopis, episcopis, abbatibus, totiusque regni principibus sedebat, jam pransus exilit, et relictis omnibus in cameram, ubi præfatæ mulieres erant, solus secedit, capitique corona sublata, se inter illas medium jecit. Quod optimates agnoscentes oppido indignati sunt." At their unanimous request
Dunstan and Kynsey entered the room, and entreated the king to return to the assembly of the prelates and nobles. "Qui animi sui furore simul et vultus sui rubore perfusus, dum se rediturum omnino negaret, Dunstanus manum illius arripuit, et a loco violenter abstractum, imposito capiti ejus diademate, ad convivantes introduxit. Quod mulieris ignominia nullatenus æquanimiter ferens, sævis verborum increpationibus in virum surrexit, et se eum confusioni perpetuæ traditurum garrula contestatione devovit." Eadmer, apud Surium, p. 236. Whoever has attentively perused these passages, must, I conceive, acknowledge, that Edwy was unmarried at the time of his coronation, and that his connection with Ethelgiva and her daughter was of the most criminal and scandalous description.
Soon after this event the abbot of Glastonbury was driven out of the island; and it seems natural to attribute his exile to the part which he had recently acted by the command of the Witan. In "the review," however, we are told "that according to the testimony of many respectable historians, Dunstan was exiled on a charge of having embezzled the treasures of King Edred, which had been entrusted to his care. Florence of Worcester, Simeon of Durham, and Roger Hoveden, state expressly, that pro justicia ascriptus mare transiit." This quotation will induce a suspicion that the reviewer is better acquainted with `the peculiarities of the Scottish dialect, than with the Latin language. At least no reader on this side of the Tweed will believe, that pro justicia can mean "on a charge of embezzlement," or even "by sentence of a court of justice." In reality the words of Florence, Simeon and Hoveden were copied by them from the eulogium of the archbishop, composed by Adalard about twenty years after the decease of that prelate, and appointed to be read every year in the church of Canterbury on his anniversary. It was not be