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Venerable Bede The Ecclesiastical History Of The English Nation

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Venerable Bede
The Ecclesiastical History Of The English Nation
page 5

unintelligible; but, it is right to add, with very little benefit. It is hoped, therefore, that in this volume will be found the best text of the Ecclesiastical History of the English Nation that has yet been published. Of the value of this work we can have no better evidence than the fact of its having been so often translated into the vernacular tongue. King Alfred thought it not beneath his dignity to render it familiar to his Anglo-Saxon subjects, by translating it into their tongue. The first version in modern English was that of Stapleton, bearing the following title, " The History of the Church of Englande, compiled by Venerable Bede, Englishman, translated out of Latin into English by Thomas Stapleton, Student in Divinity. Antw. by John Laet, 1565." The object of the translator was to recai the affections of the people to the Theological forms and doctrines which in his time were being exploded. In the dedication to Queen Elizabeth occurs the following passage :—" In this History Your Highnes shall see in how many and weighty pointes the pretended reformers of the Church in Your Graces dominions have departed from the patera of that sounde and catholike faith planted first among Englishemen by holy s. Augustin our Apostle, and his virtuous company, described truly and sincerely by Venerable Bede, so called in all Christendom for his passing vertues and rare learning, the Author of this History. And to thentent. Your Highnes intention bent to weightier considerations and affaires may spende no longe time in espying oute the particulars, I have gathered out of the whole History a number of diversities betwene the pretended religion of Protestants, and the primitive faith of the English Church." The work was again translated into English by John Stevens, Lond. 8vo. 1723; and a third time (with some omissions) by W. Hurst, Lond. 8vo. 1814, and apparently with the same object which influenced Stevenson. The translation, attached to the text in this volume, is that of Stevens, but corrected without scruple, wherever it was necessary. It was first published separately, Lond. 8vo. 1840, forming the first volume of a series of the Monkish Historians of Great Britain, and has since been again carefully revised throughout, and in some passages altogether retranslated ; so that it is hoped the English reader will find it to convey a tolerably accurate notion of the style and sense of the original. J. A. G. WlNDLESHAM HALL, SURREY, March, 1843.




I formerly, at your request, most readily transmitted to you the Ecclesiastical History of the English Nation, which I had newly published, for you to read, and give it your approbation; and I now send it again to be transcribed, and more fully considered at your leisure. And I cannot but commend the sincerity and zeal, with which you not only diligently give ear to hear the words of the Holy Scripture, but also industriously take care to become acquainted with the actions and sayings of former men of renown, especially of our own nation. For if history relates good things of good men, the attentive hearer is excited to imitate that which is good; or if it mentions evil things of wicked persons, nevertheless the religious and pious hearer or reader, shunning that which is hurtful and perverse, is the more earnestly excited to perform those things which he knows to be good, and worthy of God. Of which you also being deeply sensible, are desirous that the said history should be more fully made familiar to yourself, and to those over whom the Divine Authority has appointed you governor, from your great regard to their general welfare. But that I may remove all occasion of doubting the truth of what I have written, both from yourself and other readers or hearers of this history, I will briefly intimate from what authors I chiefly learned the same.

Albinus Abbot of Canterbury.Abbot Adrian.Nothelm.Bishop Cunebert.St. Cuthbert.

My principal authority and aid in this work was the learned and reverend Abbot Albinus; who was educated in the Church of Canterbury by those venerable and learned men, Archbishop Theodore of blessed memory, and the Abbot Adrian, and transmitted to me by Nothelm, the pious priest of the Church of London, either in writing, or by word of mouth of the same Nothelm, all that he thought worthy of memory, that had been done in the province of Kent, or the adjacent parts, by the disciples of the blessed Pope Gregory, as he had learned the same either from written records, or the traditions of his ancestors. The same Nothelm afterwards went to Rome, and by permission of the present Pope Gregory, searched into the archives of the holy Roman Church, where he found some epistles of the blessed Pope Gregory, and other popes; and on his return home, by the advice of the aforesaid most reverend father Albinus, he brought them to me, to be inserted in my history. Thus, from the beginning of this volume to the time when the English nation received the faith of Christ, have we collected the writings of our predecessors, and from them gathered matter for our history; but from that time till the present, what was

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