Imágenes de páginas

Q. As the law of the land requires clergymen to inter the dead bodies of persons who have been baptized by other than lawful ministers, and as, of course, the clergyman does not allow such bodies to enter the church, after the service at the grave-side, is it necessary to go into the church to read the psalm and lesson? Would not that part of the service appointed for the grave-side be sufficient?

A. If the corpse be entitled to Christian burial at all, the minister is undoubtedly bound to read the appointed service, and is not at liberty to refuse to go into the church on the grounds referred to by your querist. The rubric gives the minister the option of going either to the church or to the grave, and with such permission, but for no other reason, he, doubtless, may proceed straight to the grave, and, though ritualists are divided on the point of being obliged to return to the church or not, yet most seem to incline to the affirmative side. Be this as it may, whoever is entitled to Christian burial is entitled to the whole service, if there be no general power to curtail it. On the subject of omitting any part of the service for the burial of the dead, your querist may consult with advantage Shepherd on the Common Prayer, and Wheatley, always remembering, however, that, after all, their opinion is but a private opinion. It belongs to another, of much higher authority, to appease diversity, and to resolve doubts concerning the manner how to understand, do, and execute the things contained in this book. (See preface to Common Prayer.)

C. W.



Ecclesiastical Antiquities of the Cymri. By the Rev. John Williams, M.A.

London, 1844.

(Continued from p. 48.) “ Bran died, it is supposed, about A.D. 80, and his chaplain, Arwystli, A.D. 99."

So says Mr. Williams; the first on the authority of the Cambrian Biography, the second on that of Cressy: the one having as much reason for saying, as it has been already shewn, that Brân was a Christian at all, as the other had for adding, that Arwystli was his chaplain.Cressy, it is well known, was a romancer of the first rank. Posterity will place him in a niche side by side with Mrs. Radcliffe. His Catalogue of the British Saints forms as amusing a compendium to church history, and has as much relation to its realities, as the Lives of the English Saints to the History of England, or the quaint vagaries of Cervantes to the dry chronicles of the middle ages. But this is nothing to Mr. Williams. Cressy and Alford, they are all the same to him, provided they only point out the way he wishes to go. He never stops to inquire whether it is to the right or to the left that they would guide him. Inquiry, comparison of records, research, and discrimination, may fit well ordinary chroniclers, when they relate ordinary events ; but the his

torian of the king of Siluria—that orthodox potentate, who, in the very infancy of the church, lest anything catholic* should be omitted, appointed to himself a worthy and reverend " chaplain,” and presented him, doubtless, with Howell and James's very best five guinea scarf as a badge of his office-might well afford, like Geoffrey the venerable -he of Monmouth-to overleap the bounds of discretion, and tell us, with all the gravity of a grand mufti, “that the prolongation of their lives [Brán, the emperor, and Arwystli, the chaplain] to such late periods [centenarians, or more) was evidently a great blessing to the church, which had been, without doubt, the particular object of their solicitude, zeal, and protection."—p. 62. No doubt so. It is impossible to enumerate all that they may have done. Mr. Williams leaves it an open question for his readers to draw the inference. He merely gives the hint. It is therefore possible, though Alford the Jesuit-a considerable authority with Mr. Williams as a chronicler of these dark times—does not positively say so, that there was actually in Siluria an Exeter Hall, or even a London Mission ; yet you are permitted to infer it; you may guess it, if you like; or, if your inclinations are at all given in that way, you may jump at once to the conclusion that they really did exist—that they were established by Brân and his “chaplain"—that their purpose was to extend Christianity among the rude boors of Carmarthenshire, and teach civilization to the desperate zealots of the county of Cardigan.

The writer, however, regrets that no traces of them can be found at the present day, otherwise it is possible that Rebecca would have been still an appellation appropriate only to the fairer sex, and turna pike gates would never have had a place in the annals of history. But catholic writers and Mr. Williams claims to be one-who read everything with “a catholic eye,” unfold to the vision events which we, poor protestants, can never hope to unfathom. They will tell you what happened centuries upon centuries ago, with a minuteness of detail so accurate and so surprising that we cannot but feel an inward glowing pride to think that our ancestors, the rude, half-naked, tattooed, hardy Britons,

toto divisos ab orbe, were so pre-eminently enlightened, and so elegantly civilized, that they were not the men whom Paley, in one of his moral delusions, vainly and fondly imagined to have fattened upon “cockles and muscles, rabbits and acorns, oysters and periwinkles, living in caves and grottoes, and dwellings of wattles and mud”—but (see Mr. WilJiams's History) that they built “ royal palaces,” “issued royal enactments," " vindicated their state authority in matters ecclesiastical,” exactly as Queen Victoria does now, “ passed a law," proclaimed it through Siluria, posted it at every cross road, that parents should no longer defer to impose names upon their children, until they arrived at years of maturity," nor wait, as was the vulgar and pagan custom, until their faculties were duly developed, so as to suggest a suitable and appropriate appellative.” Decidedly not. It was wrong to wait-it

The word catholic has been lately sadly abused.

was heathenish. Cyllin the king was a wise man and a Christian. “Let the name be given in infancy,was the royal command. We are British-enlightened British—we are SILURIANS. The loways may wait until the faculties of their best born are duly developed," and then call him “Obabumba,” King of the Eagles, or “ Nihamaha," Strong Wind. SILURIANS know better. Such a practice is uncatholic. The genealogy of Jestyn ap Gwrgan has said so. Hence, says Mr. Williams, the alteration, we naturally presume, referred to BAPTISM," infant baptism. That is to say, that which requires, as is well known, the most elaborate proof to shew that it was undoubtedly a custom of the church in the first century, is, by the genealogy and Mr. Williams, proved, by a stroke of the pen, as exercised in Siluria by “royal enactment.

While reading this history, the writer has been often compelled to exclaim, What does Siluria not possess ? When will this genealogy be published ? What are the Welsh MSS. Society doing? Can they suffer so valuable a chronicle to remain long unknown save only to the favoured few ?-a chronicle that explains all dark • points in history so very satisfactorily-a chronicle so thoroughly “catholic" that it records everything with a “catholic eye”-a chronicle, too, that tells us, as plain as anything can tell, how very uncatholic Giraldus Cambriensis was—the pope annoying ruffian—who has for so many centuries deluded the world by his false description of the customs, manners, and civilization of our worthy ancestors, the hardy Welsh. What can it signify to us how he would represent them as living in the twelfth century, if we are told positively by a MS., just discovered in the nineteenth, that they lived so much better in the first.

It is, truly, a glorious thing-and, as the writer is a Welshman, he cannot conceal it-to think that our ancestors were not the painted, half-clad savages which they are represented to be by such limners as Cæsar, and Tacitus, and Dion Cassius, but that “they luxuriated in magnificence and splendour by copying the Romans in the erection of royal palaces"—that “godly men from Greece and Rome came to visit them”—as is the custom still; for example, Louis Philippe and the Emperor of Russia to our own beloved Queen Victoria—that “they founded choirs of saints"_" the choir of Eurgain”—all in the first century-where, without doubt-though this part of the genealogy is not yet published—blooming cherubs, under the form of charity-boys, disguised in little white surplices, chanted the daily services, edified the royal palace of Siluria, and spread their weaning influence as effectually and as permanently throughout the wilds of the region of “the Chair," as their brother cherubs of St. George's, Windsor, do at the present day among the beer- brewing, bacon-de vouring boors of Berkshire.

Again, we exclaim, What does Siluria not possess ? When will this genealogy be made known to the world ? Who can tell what it does not disclose? The resources of Siluria must have been immense in the arts and sciences, and in civilization! Brân, besides being a Christian, an emperor, and the father of Caradoc, was also an “inventor of the

roll for literary purposes,” “ a dresser of skins"-sheepskins-in fact, a royal skinner. A certain royal personage, living in a certain royal country, could do almost everything in nature and in art - from the feeding of bullocks on turnips and oilcake, to the copying of a Guido or a Raphael on canvas and on wood. But then he was a mere copyist — Brân_was an inventor! Siluria, therefore, shall have the palm. The men of Siluria,” says a writer of the twelfth century, “were noted bowmen. They shot well, and they shot long." If they could not hit a mountain, they were sure of a molehill; therefore they always aimed high. He who goes to the river to slay a salmon may make sure of returning home with a minnow. And so it is with their posterity. They can't forget the skill with which their ancestors handled the long bow. Hence we find in the genealogy, this curiosity of literature of the nineteenth century, tales of a nature which are truly astounding. The writer has always considered Baron Munchausen a man of singular valour. Alone, with sword in hand, he would attack castles and sack towns. But what is to be said of the following feat :

“ In the time of Eirchion, the son of Owain, the infidels slew many of the Christians, but Eirchion went against them, and killed many of them with no edged weapon, nothing but his bare hand, and therefore was he called Eirchion Vawdvilwr, (the thumb soldier.)"-p. 65.

In modern days, it is hardly possible to match this feat, if we except Captain Berkeley's gallant defence for the protection of the aristocratic hare and the noble pheasant, (see his pamphlet on the game laws.) And yet this episode of the thumb soldier is gravely quoted, and gravely commented on, in a grave history--so grave, indeed, that nothing can be graver than the progress of Christianity!

Who these “infidels” were Mr. Williams cannot exactly say. They may have been “Romans,' or “natives, or marauders from the neighbouring countries.” Of course they were not of Siluria—they were of any country but the country of The Chair. One thing, however, he is certain about, and very confidently founds it on this interesting little Silurian tale—“ That a systematic attack was made upon the British Christians at this time [A.D. 121] is no mean evidence of their number and importance in the country.”

Gildas, a bilious, crusty old Briton, writing in the fifth century, was as likely to know as much, if not more, of what happened in the first and second centuries, as the manufacturers of the Chair MSS. did, writing in the seventeenth and eighteenth. But Gildas says in his Hist. p. 17, Stev. Ed., “ that there was no persecution in Britain until that of Dioclesian"—the churches had rest. So says the Archdeacon Geoffrey, lib. v. cap. 5, Paris ed. 1517. So says tradition in general. And, it may be added, so say ancient British documents, if we except the erratic oracles of the Chair. And here it was the Chair committed the grand mistake, when her patentees, “infidels, conjurors, and we know not what,” as they were, essayed to manufacture history. They never for one moment considered that the same events had been already and differently recorded by chroniclers who lived some centuries before themselves. Hence have they left a loop

hole for future inquirers to detect their falsehoods, for which we cannot but feel thankful. They had no regard to Gildas. They had no reverence for Geoffrey, though they followed his footsteps in the art of invention. Griffith ab Arthur, as they called him, they utterly threw aside, and even the Triads—that consecrated ground wherein lies are so easily sown-unless their soil was Siluria, were to them a dead letter. The genealogy is to supersede everything. Jestyn ab Gwrgan, the traitor and the robber, is to be in future the fountainhead from whence the main-springs of Christianity are to run pure and unsullied.

II. “When Lleirwg (Lucius) ascended the throne, [that is, a wicker-work arm-chair in Siluria,] he became deeply impressed with the necessity of providing more amply for the church, regulating its external affairs as bearing upon the state (!) in a more defined and permanent manner, and more clearly distinguishing it from ancient Druidism. [What next?] With this view, he applied to Eleutherius, bishop of Rome, A.D. 173–189, by means of Medwy and Elwan, native Christians, requesting to be furnished with the Roman and imperial laws, in which he doubtlessly expected to find certain ordinances respecting the church.”-pp. 66, 67.

Let the reader observe the manner in which this story of Lucius is introduced. There is not a word said respecting the application for baptism, which Mr. Williams cannot but know is at all times given as the ground—the primary ground—of Lucius sending to Eleutherius at all. Baptism is assumed, because “Cyllin, the king,” and Lucius' grandfather, had ruled by "royal enactment”-that it should take place “ in infancy,” and, consequently, Christianity had been in Siluria generations before; and that the reason of his sending an embassy to Rome was because he felt “ deeply impressed with the necessity of providing more amply for the church.”

In treating of these dark times, Mr. Williams dots his matters down with as much confidence and as amusing a degree of certainty as if he were merely writing a history of the church in India, and had no further trouble in arranging his materials than a resolute, hard, earnest perusal of parliamentary reports and missionary documents. But the man who expects to triumph over the darkness that hangs around the early British church so easily as this, will find, after due examination, that it is a mist that cannot be readily penetrated by the keen glance even of “a catholic eye.” Hence is it, that so many have stumbled on this questio vexata of King Lucius. Some, indeed, have gone so far—for instance, Mosheim-as to say "that the traditions about King Lucius are extremely doubtful, and are indeed rejected by such as have learning sufficient to weigh the credibility of ancient narrations.This, however, is an argument of the most sweeping kind, and cannot for one moment be entertained. That such a man existed cannot be questioned ; local circumstances prove it beyond a doubt; though he was a chieftain of a very different nature to that in which he is generally represented, for glory's sake, by papistical writers, or indeed even by Mr. Williams. As a Welshman, Mr. W. ought to know that it was impossible for him to have been even nominal king

« AnteriorContinuar »