« PrécédentContinuer »
tents we ask for some acknowledgment of their own sins. They can at least give remedial and penitential offerings, to retrieve from sin, if not those with whom they have themselves sinned, at least one of their successors in guilt. The Church Penitentiary Association presents to all a machinery for discharging this debt to God and to personal repentance. Few can preach to the fallen; few can teach them; fewer still can go out into the streets and reason with them; few, comparatively, can provide them with homes, or service, or employment; few can give them a place for penitence and discipline: but there are none who cannot aid this Institution, which, if it is supported, does all this and more.
ART. VIII. Spicilegium Solesmense; complectens Sanctorum Patrum Scriptorumque Ecclesiasticorum anecdota hactenus Opera, selecta e Græcis Orientalibusque et Latinis Codicibus, publici juris facta curante Domno J. B. PITRA, O. S. B. Monacho e Congregatione Gallica, nonnullis ex Abbatia Solesmensi opem conferentibus. Tomus Primus. Parisiis, 1852.
SOON after the revival of letters, and within at least a century after the introduction of printing, there arose a special branch of literature in the form of collections of minor works, and fragments of ancient authors and historical documents, which had previously existed only in manuscript. Laborious scholars brought together into separate series such valuable remains as they found in the MS. stores of libraries. From these published collections portions were continually drafted off into the successive entire editions of each author's works, or into collections of fragments on special subjects, or into 'Bibliothecas,' a name which, at least in theological literature, is applied to collections of the works of less voluminous writers. Hence the term Bibliotheca Patrum. In consequence of their contents being thus transferred, the earliest collections of inedited Opuscula, or fragments, have become of less value. But those which have been made since the early part of the last century, and consequently since the great collected editions of separate Fathers and the chief complete Bibliothecas were published, and still more those that have been made more recently, are of great importance to the theologian.
Under the various titles of Collectio, Miscellanea, Spicilegium, Anecdota, Vindemia Literaria, Delicia Eruditorum, Monumenta, and the like, are gathered together previously inedited fragments and works of different ages, and of varying interest and value. To the theologian these collections are important, because they have successively brought to light some of the most valuable remains of antiquity; and contain some of the facts on which any historical view of Christianity must be based. Thus, in our own day, the Collections of Cardinal Mai have recovered from the MS. retreats of the Vatican such writings as the commentaries of Theodorus of Mopsuesta, much of S. Cyril, of the Greek originals of S. Gregory Nyssen, and portions of Eusebius. And of course the more recent collections are most important, in that they supply facts, to use the word in a wide sense, which were
not known to earlier writers, to those who have composed our great works on ecclesiastical history and doctrine; still it is remarkable that, whilst they add to our knowledge, and clear up difficulties in matters of history, they do not in any way materially affect those conclusions respecting the faith of the Church of former days, in which theologians had previously concurred.
Amongst those who laboured in forming these great Collections, as in all other branches of ecclesiastical learning, the Benedictines stood preeminent. Indeed, for such works as these, a monastic order is peculiarly qualified, from its including, in separation from worldly pursuits, and under a regular life, men of various capacities, yet still all probably possessing some qualities available for literary work, under the direction of greater minds. Great men in theological thought, or criticism, or history, of course are few. But in order to do their work well, they must have much material supplied, which can be easily done by persons of far inferior capacity. The searching out of authorities, ascertaining the correctness of alleged facts, verifying references and quotations, is easy for any one to do, who attains to the almost moral qualities of accuracy, attention, and perseverance. In another line, the transcribing and collating of MSS. is an art which may be learnt by those whose abilities are insufficient for higher employments, particularly if practised under the eye of the critical scholar, who himself may undertake the higher line of determining the true readings or the genuineness of a treatise. So also reading and correcting for the press, making analyses or indices, affords an occupation for educated men who have not capacities for higher employment, or for those who are in training for it. We say in training, because we apprehend that this kind of work formed the early training of the greatest scholars and the most learned men, as the history of the great Benedictines, or of Petavius, and the Jesuits, would show. And we conceive that an energetic endeavour to carry out the noble design of establishing a learned press' in our Universities would in this way make available the powers of young men, who might thus acquire an accurate rudimental knowledge of critical work, whether classical or theological, which would be the best means of forming ultimately great scholars, or great historians, or theologians, because they would go upon the basis of carefulness and exactness. But what our Universities have not done-Universities which possess endowments so large, bestowed especially for the promotion of theological learning, with appliances so available in stores of unpublished and uncollated manuscripts, well-stored libraries, and, in one instance, so rich a press-has been done by a poor,
small, almost unknown brotherhood of Benedictine monks, in France, by the aid of the public, through subscriptions and some larger contributions, we apprehend, from the munificence of individuals. The subscription-list prefixed to the volume shows how many English Churchmen have joined in this work for the benefit of the common religion of the Catholic Church.
The title of the work indicates that it has been produced by the monks of Solêmes, i. e. of the restored Benedictine monastery at Solêmes, near Sablé, in the department of Sarthe, and in the direction of Tours and Le Mans, of whom the most prominent and the chief editor is Dom Pitra, a monk of the convent, well known for his numerous theological writingsan indefatigable and a learned man-one who has perseveringly, and amid much discouragement, gone forward with this work of great labour and little earthly reward.
A prospectus of the work was circulated in Latin, and French, and English, which sets forth the scheme and the writers whom it was intended to bring together. This has probably been seen by many of our readers.
The first volume appeared in 1852-a handsome and wellprinted imperial octavo of nearly 700 pages. Of these seventyeight consist of valuable Prolegomena, giving an account of the MSS. from which the works have been derived, with arguments on the genuineness of the treatises and fragments, and other interesting information respecting them. At the end are appendices, containing some fragments, dissertations, additional notes, and indices.
We prefer considering and observing on the articles separately, to making mere general observations on the work. But we must specify some features which belong to it as a whole. There are points in which this Collection stands out as a great improvement on almost all that have preceded it-in the selection and arrangement of its contents. Many of the great works in this kind are heaps of unsorted and miscellaneous treasures, brought together without arrangement, without principle of unity. As the writings or fragments of Fathers of various ages were mixed up with later writers, or with charters and documents of no theological interest, the difficulty of knowing where to find anything one knew was printed became very great, still more that of knowing what writings or fragments of any given author had been printed. Much of this difficulty was removed by the invaluable Notitia' of Mr. Dowling, which gives fully the contents of every one of these numerous collections, and which would be made quite complete if, in a list of the names of authors, there were specified under each the title of every work or fragment of theirs which was printed in the collections. These evils
have been avoided in the Spicilegium Solesmense,' to a great extent, by limiting the works printed to those of the writers of two periods; (a) from the first to the ninth century, (b) from the ninth to the twelfth; by keeping these two periods distinct; and by arranging the authors of each period so far as possible chronologically. Of the manner in which the work is executed generally, we should express ourselves very favourably; which we now do the rather because we have to differ from the Editor in some points, in which we think he has allowed an affection for the writings he has brought to light to prevail over sound critical judgment as to their authorship, and has set too high a value
We must first speak of the lithographed plate placed at the beginning of the volume, which contains facsimiles of some of the most important MSS. used for the work, and the representation of a broken block of stone, bearing a Greek inscription, which was found at Autun in the year 1839. Autun was the ancient Augustodunum duorum; and the language and letters of the inscription throw back the date of it, as is supposed, to the latter part of the second century. In an Excursus in the Appendix, Dom Pitra describes the stone, and gives an interesting account of it, together with the restored inscription, as made out by himself and by several other learned men; whose observations are given in part reprinted, in part now published for the first time. Dom Pitra was himself the first to examine and draw the stone and inscription, and sent copies of it to some distinguished antiquarian scholars; and naturally takes a great interest in it. The stone is about one-and-a-half foot square, and four inches thick. It is supposed to have been a monumental inscription; and the idea of IXOTE, the well-known symbol of our Lord, is preserved in the lines, of which the first five are an acrostic of ἰχθύς.
Ιχθύος οὐρανίου θε]ῖον γένος, ἤτορι σεμν[@]
Χρησε [του χρῆσαι], λαβω [ν ζωὴν ἄμβροτον ἐν βροτέοις
Ὕδασιν αενάοις πλουτοδότου σοφίης.
Σωτῆρος δ' ̔Αγίων μελιηδέα λάμβαν[ε βρῶσιν· ]
Εσθιε, πῖν ̓ ἄδη]ν ἰχθὺν ἔχων παλάμαις.
Ιχθύι χ[εύοιτ'] ἀρά· Λιλαίω, Δέσποτα Σωτ[ερ],
Σύθ[ι μοι ἡγητ ὴρ, σε λιτάζομε [for λιτάζομαι], φῶς τὸ θανόντων.
Σὺν μ[ητρὶ γλυκερῇ, σύν τ' οἰκεο ῖσιν ἐμοῖσιν,
Such is Dom Pitra's restoration. He gives also those of six others. It will be observed from the number of words and letters which we have included in brackets, which are lost by