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at the feet of the king, and said, ' My lord, it is for the will of God and your power to decide.' * Hide yourself,' said the king, behind the arras, and you shall see what rivals
have for the post.' As soon as the death of the bishop was known through the court, the officers of the palace, always on the watch for the downfall or death of one another, set the favourites of the emperor to work to secure, each for himself, the vacant post. But he, stedfast to his purpose, refused them all. At læst, queen Hildegarde sent the chief men of the kingdom, and then came herself, to solicit the bishopric for her chaplain. The king received her kindly, heard her graciously, but replied, that he should never forgive himself if he deceived the young priest. After the fashion of all women, when they wish to make their own wishes triumph over the will of their husbands, the queen concealed her anger, lowered the tone of her naturally harsh voice, and endeavoured to soften her husband by her caresses, saying to him, Dear prince, why should you throw away this bishopric by giving it to such a mere child ? I pray you, my dear master, my joy and my support, give it to that devoted servant of yours, my chaplain.' At these words, the young man behind the arras, cried out in a most lamentable voice, but without quitting his hiding-place, 'Lord king, stand firm, let no one take out of thy hands the power given thee by God.' Then the brave and truthful prince commanded the young man to come out
from behind the curtain, and said to him, • Receive this bishopric, but take care to send before you and myself into the other world great alms, and a sufficient viaticum for that long journey from which no one returns.'
M. Guizot quotes another anecdote from the same source which may appropriately find a place here. “Another prelate was dead. Charlemagne gave the succession to a young man who, well contented with his appointment, prepared to set out and to take possession of it. His servants brought him a very quiet sort of horse, such as suited his episcopal gravity, and placed a stool to help him into the saddle. But he, indignant at their treating him as though he were infirm, kicked the stool from him, and
into the saddle with such vigour, that he almost fell over on the other side. The king saw all this from the palace, and calling to the man, said to him, "My brave man, thou art lively, active, quick, and hast a strong foot. Thou knowest we are incessantly troubled with a multitude of wars, and have need of a priest just such as thou art for our suite; remain with us, therefore, and be our companion in our fatigues, as thou can'st mount thy horse so readily.'
The want of books presented a difficulty in the way of education scarcely less than that of living teachers. Valuable nd necessary as the labours of the latter were, yet the former could not be dispensed with. But at that time they were not to be had. Of the dearth of books in France, the following fact out of a
multiplicity of others, will suffice as proof. Lupus, bishop of Ferrières, wrote to Benedict, then pope, requesting the loan of the Commentaries of St. Jerome, and Donatus, Cicero de Oratore, and the Institutes of Quinctilian, saying, that no complete copies of them existed in France, but only fragments. To appreciate the force of this statement, we inust remember that these treatises were then regarded as text books.*
Charlemagne addressed himself with his usual energy to meet this want. He caused a scriptorium, or writing-room, to be established in the most considerable monasteries, where the monks employed themselves in making copies of such books as they possessed or could borrow. Many of the transcripts thus made were of the inost exquisite beauty, both in the writing and the illuminations. The abbeys of Fontenelle, of Rheims, and of Corvey, especially distinguished themselves by the number, accuracy, and beauty of their manuscripts.
Alcuin, foremost in every good work, was not behindhand in this. He not only encouraged and superintended the labours of others, but himself set the example. We have already quoted a letter which he sent to Charlemagne, with a revised and corrected copy of the Scriptures. Whilst his chief attention was directed
* It is a striking proof of the much greater advance which England had made, that Alcuin repeatedly requested permission to visit his native country, and procure thence copies of the treatises which he stood in most need of.
to the correction and multiplication of copies of the word of God, and religious treatises, it was not confined to these. He seems to have edited (if we may use so modern a term in speaking of these ages) the plays of Terence; and, in conjunction with the emperor, to have caused the old German songs and poems, which had been handed down by oral tradition, but were then being rapidly forgotten, to be diligently collected and committed to writing. It is to this fact that we are indebted for the preservation of the Niebelungen lay, the oldest and most interesting relic of mediæval literature.
Charlemagne himself, with the indomitable energy and activity which characterized him, took part in this work of reproducing manuscripts. Thegaw, in his Life of Louis, the son and successor of Charlemagne, says, that “the emperor, shortly before his death, by the aid of certain learned Greeks and Syrians, corrected most carefully a copy of the Gospels.” This reminds us of the enactment of the Jewish law, that the king should copy it out with his own hand, Deut. xvii. 18—20.
In order to provide materials for the use of the innumerable copyists thus set to work, a singular compromise was effected with the clergy of the day. It had been enacted that they should abstain from taking part in hunting or any similar field sports, on the ground that it was manifestly unbecoming in those whose office it was to give eternal life to men, to find their pastime in putting animals to death. But
finding the habit too inveterate to be entirely interdicted, Charlemagne, in a subsequent decree, compromised the matter, by permitting them to hunt, provided they would employ all the skins of the animals slain in the chase in replenishing and repairing their libraries.
The zeal and activity thus displayed in the reproduction of manuscripts has conferred a twofold benefit upon all succeeding ages. In the first place, many invaluable productions of ancient genius were rescued from the extinction of which they were on the very verge. In another century they would have been lost for ever-lost as completely as those of the great oriental nations of which scarcely a vestige remains. It is very much due to the copyists of that age that the literature of Greece and Rome did not share the same ate, and that some priceless fragments and relics of ancient genius have escaped the wreck, and floated down to us on the stream of time. All who are able to appreciate the immense benefits conferred upon subsequent ages by these remains of classical antiquity, and who know the mighty influence they exerted in the literary and religious awakening and revival of the fifteenth century, will see in this interposition a providential arrangement, preserving for us, amidst the barbarism of the dark ages,
productions of ancient learning. A second, and yet more inestimable benefit, which calls for yet intenser gratitude, has been conferred upon us by the collation and correction of the sacred