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THE SAINT GRAYLE.
Graal, or Grayle, is an old word for a dish or large plate, and the one which is distinguished as the Saint Graal, or Grayle, the holy Grayle, is held to be the very dish out of which Our Saviour ate upon the occasion of his partaking the last passover with his disciples.
This holy vessel was originally supposed to have been in the possession of Joseph, of Arimathea, the reputed founder of Glastonbury, who brought it to England. It was kept at Glastonbury for many years, but at last was somehow or other lost from thence, and it then became the great object of search amongst knights errant, and is mentioned in many of the old romances.
After being missed for several centuries, it was said to be discovered at Genoa, about the year 1100; or, at any event, a dish was produced there as the Saint Grayle, or as it was then termed, “ il sacro cattino." Of course it was considered an invaluable relic, and was an object of great reverence and veneration, more especially as some spots were pointed out in it, which were said to be stains produced by drops of blood of Our Saviour, which were caught in it by Joseph of Arimathea, whilst Jesus Christ was upon the cross. It is of an hexagonal form, and made of a coarse green glass. The legend which was told of it at Genoa was, that it was taken at the capture of Cæsarea, in the holy wars, and was presented to the Genoese by Baldwin, King of Jerusalem ; an account which certainly does not harmonize well with our pretended title to it through Joseph of Arimathea.
It remained at Genoa until the year 1806, when Buonaparte, in his rage to transport every thing curious or celebrated in art to Paris, carried off the Saint Grayle, and it was deposited in the Cabinet of Antiquities, in the Imperial Library. We understand it still remains there ; whether it has ever been claimed by the Genoese or not, we have not been able to ascertain.
Screw lives by shifts, yet swears with no small oaths,
THE LITERATURE OF ENGLAND.
FROM THE TIME OF THE DRUIDS, TO THE PRESENT CENTURY..
HENRY TILE First, who came to the throne in the year 1100, was considered a most accomplished prince. He was educated with great care, by his father, and passed his early youth at Cambridge, we are toldt, in the study of the liberal arts, which he so thoroughly relished and so deeply imbibed, that, in after times, “ no tumults of war, no agitation of cares, could ever expel them from his illustrious mind.” He possessed all the great qualities both of body and mind, natural and acquired, which could fit him for his high station. By his great progress in literature he acquired the name of Beauclerc, or the scholar; and, such was the force of his eloquence, that Pope Callixtus is said to have given him the preference to all the other princes of Europe I.
We may pass with a sigh over the turbulent reign of Stephen, to come to that of HENRY PLANTAGANET, who, in 1154, ascended the English throne. He had spent his early youth in France, and had not neglected the opportunities of instruction which that country afforded. His talents were great, and his love of letters conspicuous; and through the whole course of his reign, as often as the cares of Government would permit, he is said to have recreated himself either in learned conversation or reading, and to have cultivated his natural talents by study beyond any prince of his time. Under such a prince, and during a reign of little less than forty years, uninterrupted by wars, all foreign improvements in literature and politeness seem to have been, in a great measure, transplanted into England. And the little learning of the Saxon priests, which had hitherto been confined to church history and legendary tales, was now exchanged for the subtleties of school philosophy.
WILLIAM OF MALMESBURY, a monk and librarian of that abbey, and an excellent historian to his own time, died in 1146. Of him, little more is known than what himself has incidentally recorded; but his writings, from a certain degree of elegance in the diction, and a great air of truth in the narrative, have obtained him the coinmendation of our ablest critics. Rebert, Earl of Gloucester, the natural son of Henry the First, was the protector of this learned monk, and to him he dedicated his two principal works, " which," says Leland ş, “ as often as I take into my hands, I am compelled to admire the diligence of the man, whose reading had been vast; the felicity of his diction, which could imitate the best originals, and the soundness of his judgment." The learned Henry Saville also says, “ Among our most ancient writers, William, for fidelity of narration and maturity of judgment, holds the first place; a man, as the times
* William Malmes'. lib. 5.
+ Tho. Rudburn, Ang. Sax. t. 1. Berington's Lit. Hist. book 4.
& De Serip. Brit. VOL. I.
were, well versed in letters, and who, with such diligence and truth, has drawn together the events of so long a period, as to be thought almost alone, among us, to have fulfilled the duties of an historian *.” Few writers have been so highly praised as this modest friar, whose humble sentiments of his own merit deserve to be recorded: “I presume not,” says he,“ to expect the applause of my contemporaries; but, I hope, that when favor and malevolence are no more, I shall receive from impartial posterity the character of an industrious, though not an eloquent, historiographer.” His general history of England - De Gestis Regum Anglorum-is in five books, from the arrival of the Saxons, in 449, to the 26th of Henry the First, 1126; his modern history-Historia Novella, in two books, from that year to 1143; and a history, in four books, of the English church-De Rebus Gestis Pontificum Anglorum.
RALPH DE DICETO, Dean of Saint Paul's, coeval with Henry the Second, and his sons, wrote two histories, one a mere abridgmentAbbreviationes Chronicorum—from 589 to 1197; the other - Ymagines Historiarum--from 1149 to 1199, the first of King John. From his rank in the church, and the various business in which he was employed, De Diceto was well qualified to record the transactions, particularly of his own times, and he has done it with accuracy and truth. His facts seem judiciously selected, and they are arranged with perspicuity; and his narrative, without being very correct or elegant, is manly and ingenuous. He, as well as other writers of the age, seems well acquainted with the character and great occurrences of other countries, which they very copiously record, and of which they must have obtained their information from the constant intercourse with Rome.
Joun or SALISBURY, a man whose elegance of learning was above the level of the age of which he was the principal ornament, Aourished about this period. Early in life he travelled to Paris, in which city he heard Abeillard, and after him other able professors; under whose instructions he soon became a great proficient in the popular exercises of disputation. Thus rich in scientific lore, he returned to England, where he applied himself to sacred literature; but we again find him in France visiting his former companions on the Mount of St. Genevieve. The rewards which the great learning and many virtues of John merited, he soon obtained in abundance in his own and in other countries. We see him, in the English court, consulted by our primates, particularly by Thomas à Becket, whose friend he was in prosperity, and whose companion in exile ; and, at Rome, we find him highly esteemed by more than one pontiff, and enjoying the familiar intercourse of our countryman, Adrian the Fourth.
It was on the occasion of his being sent to Rome by Henry the Second, to obtain from this Adrian, as it seems, the grant of Ireland (as an island, by the donation of Constantine, pertaining to the See of Peter), that a conversation was opened between the envoy and the
Ep. ad Eliz. Regina.
pontiff, of which the former has given an account: “ Adrian had lamented his many sufferings, since his elevation to the papal chair, observing, that his seat was beset with thorns; that it would have been well had he never quitted his native soil, and the obscure retreat of a cloister; and that heaven had placed him between the anvil and the hammer, from which he knew not how he should be rescued." With a frankness that did him honor, be tlien enquired of his friend what the world said of him and of the Romish Church*.
" What I have heard in many countries," replied John of Salisbury, “ I will freely tell you. They say, that the Church of Rome shews herself not so much the parent of other churches, as their step-mother. Scribes and Pharisees have their seats in her, who lay grievous burdens on the shoulders of men, which themselves will not touch with one of their fingers. They domineer over the clergy, without being an example to the flock: they heap together rich furniture, and load their tables with gold and silver, whilst their hands are kept shut by avarice. The poor rarely find access to them, unless when vanity may introduce them. They raise contributions on the churches, excite litigations, promote disputes between the pastor and the people, deeming the best exercise of religion to consist in the procurement of wealth. With them every thing is venal; and they may be said to imitate the devils who, when they cease to do mischiel, glory in their beneficence. From this charge a small number may be excepted. The Pope himself is a burden to Christendom, which is scarcely to be borne. The complaint is, that while the churches, which the piety of our fathers erected, are in ruins, and their altars neglected, he builds palaces, and exhibits his person, clothed not only in purple, but resplendent with gold. These things, and more than these, the people are heard to utter.”
“ And what is your own opinion ?" observed Adrian. “ Your question distresses me,” answered the envoy; “ for should I oppose my single voice to the public sentiment, I must be deemed false, or a flatterer: on the other hand, I am fearful of giving offence. However, as a cardinal of your church (whom he names) has sanctioned the voice of the people, I presume not to contradict him. He maintains that, in the Romish Church, there is a fund of duplicity and avarice, the real source of all the evils; and this he once declared in a public assembly, in which the late Eugenius presided. But I must myself boldly say, as my conscience dictates, that I no where ever beheld ecclesiastics more virtuous, and more enemies to avarice, than in this church, of which I can cite living examples; and in whom may be found the austere manners and temperance of Fabricius, joined to the character of Christian excellence. As you insist on having my opinion, I will say, that your doctrines should be followed, though all your actions may not be imitated. The world applauds and flatters you; calls you father and master. If you are a father, why do you look for gifts from your children? if a master, why are you not feared and obeyed
. Joan. Cerisb. Policrat. I. ii. cap. 23.
by your Romans ?
But you wish, it seems, to preserve this city by your largesses. Was it by such means that Sylvester acquired it? Holy father, you are in error. What you have freely received, freely give. By oppressing others, you subject yourself to oppression." Adrian smiled, and, having praised the ingenuous freedom of his address, commanded him, when he heard any evil of him, faithfully to report it. Then, to justify the contributions which Rome exacted from the churches, he repeated the apologue of the stomach and the members; these complaining that he alone was benefitted by their toil, and yet they found, by experience, that without him they could not subsist.
The work which contains this curious dialogue, is entitled, Polycraticon, or de nugis curialium et vestigiis philosophorum, inscribed to Thomas à Becket, who was then Chancellor of England; and, notwithstanding its imperfections, it is a valuable monument of literature, and exhibits, in a pleasing manner, the talents, the good sense, and the learning of John of Salisbury.
ROGER BACON, a Franciscan friar of surprising genius and learning, was born at Ilchester, in Somersetshire, in the year 1214. He commenced his studies at Oxford, where he secured the patronage and friendship of the most eminent men in that University. Having spent some years at Oxford in the study of the languages, logic, mathematics, and various branches of philosophy, he removed, accord. ing to the custom of that age, to Paris, where he was distinguished both by his assiduity and improvement; and where, in token of his acknowledged eminence in literature and science, he received the degree of doctor in theology t. While he was in France, or soon after his return to England in the year 1 240, he took the monastic habit in the order of St. Francis, and with a view of pursuing his studies and researches with the greater advantage, he settled at Oxford. Such was the esteem in which he was generally held, and so high were the expectations which his contemporaries entertained of the benefits that would result to science froin the vigor of his mind and the assiduity of his application, that he was enabled by generous contributions to collect books, to construct instruments, and to prosecute his experiments, during a course of twenty years, at an expense of 20000.; which, considering the time in which he lived, was a very large sum.
His growing fame, however, excited envy; and the monks of his own order industriously circulated a report that he held converse with evil spirits, and practised magical arts. His enemies so far prevailed, under pretence of dangerous innovations, tending to disturb the peace of the church (which Bacon was attempting to introduce), that he was restrained from reading lectures to the young students in the University; and at length so closely confined, as to be debarred from all intercourse with his friends, and from receiving a necessary supply
Of the fopperies of courts and the footsteps of philosophers.
+ Hist. Univers. Oxon. sub. an. 1292.