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Venerable Bede The Ecclesiastical History Of The English Nation

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The Ecclesiastical History Of The English Nation.

Venerable Bede

Historia ecclesiastica gentis anglorum


In an age when every work of value, either in our own or in foreign literature, has been anxiously sought out and laid before the public, it appears extraordinary that no complete edition of the Works of Venerable Bede has ever been undertaken; and yet the benefits which he conferred on the literature of our country are more than have been derived from any other author whatever in modern times. He is our first historian, our first mathematician, our first divine, and our first metaphysical writer. A portion of his historical writings has lately issued from the press, under the sanction of the English Historical Society, but the great mass of his writings are almost entirely unknown. Bede does not deserve to be thus neglected: he is the great intellectual father of our country, and his Works deserve to be preserved as lights which shone in their day. The simplicity of his character, so well depicted in his writings, the fervor of his piety, the zeal which he shows in recording the truth, as far as it lay in his power to discover it, can never be too highly spoken of, and they will remain as his highest panegyric to the latest posterity. Two or three centuries have elapsed since his Works were collected on the Continent, and three times published in eight folio volumes, of mean typography, disagreeable in appearance, and cumbersome in size, without a syllable to smooth the reader’s path to a knowledge of their contents; and both these editions, notwithstanding their bulky dignity, do not contain all Bede’s Works, but are filled with spurious and useless lumber that has long passed under his name and obscured his reputation. The lives of the Abbots of Weremouth, one of his most interesting productions, is omitted, and several smaller pieces also are not to be found therein. His Historical Works, published by Smith, do not contain more than the eighth part of all his writings; and the Edition published by the English Historical Society, forming part of a series illustrating English History, does not contain all of what may fairly be called his Historical Works; and it has been well remarked, with respect to selections from an author’s works, that such editions have invariably failed to give general satisfaction. These considerations have induced the Editor to determine on devoting his attention to the revision and republication of the genuine Works of Bede, including every thing that has yet seen the light, and whatever else may be obtained from public libraries. He invites the co-operation of all those who entertain a sentiment of regard towards our early Authors, and particularly to him who is the first in merit as the earliest in point of time. The task is one of great labour, and worthy to be undertaken at the national expense; but from the flattering manner in which his proposal has been hitherto entertained, he devotes himself to the Work with confidence of success.


A complete edition of the works of Venerable Bede has long been a desideratum in English literature. That want is now likely to be supplied, and the publication of this volume, containing the First Part of the Ecclesiastical History, announces that the whole works of England's first and most valuable writer will, ere long, be laid before public. Another volume, containing the last part f the same important historical record, will speedily appear: after which, a series of volumes will be published, which, when finished, will comprise all that is known to have proceeded from Bede's pen; and the first volume of the series will contain a Memoir of e Author and his Works, wherein will be collected together all that we know of the life and character of ibis remarkable man. The Ecclesiastical History was first published on Continent: the following is a list of the editions which were there printed : — 1. Una cum Petri Trecensis (alias Comestoris) istoria Scholastica, et Eusebii Historia Ecclesiastica, _- Rufinum et cum additione Rufini, Argentinensi, 500. 2. Ead. ed. repet. Hagenau, 1506. 3. Antverpiæ, 1550. 4. Lovanii, 1566. 5. In " Britannicarum rerum Scriptores, Heidel-bergee, fol. 1587." 6. Lugduni, 1587. 7. Colonise, 1601. 8. In Bedeæ Opera, &c. Parisiis, per Jametium, 1544." 9. Ead. ed. repet. 1554. 10. In " Bedæ Opera, &c. Basil., per Joannem Hervagium, 8 torn. fol. 1563." 11. Ead. ed. repet. Colonise, 1612. 12. Ead. ed. repet. 1688. It was first published in England by Wheloc, fol. Cantab. 1643-4, with an Appendix containing the Anglo-Saxon translation by King Alfred the Great, under the following title, " Historiam Ecclesiasticam gentis Anglorum, una cum adnotatione et analectis, e publicis veteris ecclesiae Anglicanse homiliis aliisque MSS. Saxonicis excerptis, nec antea Latine editis ; ut et Saxonicam Chronologiam, seriem hujus imprimis historicam complectentem, e Bibl. publica Cantab. ; accedunt Anglo-Saxonicse leges, et ultimo leges Henrici I., edidit A Whelocus. Cantab. 1644. The next critical edition was that of Chifflet, together with Fredegarius Scholasticus, under this title : —Bedæ Presbyteri et Fredegarii Scholastica Concordia ad senioris Dagoberti definiendam monarchies periodum, atque ad primse totius Regum Francorum stirpis Chronologiam stabiliendam, in duas partes divisa, quarum prior continet Historiam Ecclesiasticam Gentis Anglorum, cum notis et Dissertatone de auctore hujus Historiae, posterior Dissertatio de annis