MacMillan's Reading Books eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 236 pages of information about MacMillan's Reading Books.
lay in learning, or teaching, or writing.”  The words sketch for us a scholar’s life, the more touching in its simplicity that it is the life of the first great English scholar.  The quiet grandeur of a life consecrated to knowledge, the tranquil pleasure that lies in learning and teaching and writing, dawned for Englishmen in the story of Baeda.  While still young, he became teacher, and six hundred monks, besides strangers that flocked thither for instruction, formed his school of Jarrow.  It is hard to imagine how, among the toils of the schoolmaster and the duties of the monk, Baeda could have found time for the composition of the numerous works that made his name famous in the West.  But materials for study had accumulated in Northumbria through the journeys of Wilfrith and Benedict Biscop, and Archbishop Eegberht was forming the first English library at York.  The tradition of the older Irish teachers still lingered to direct the young scholar into that path of scriptural interpretation to which he chiefly owed his fame.  Greek, a rare accomplishment in the West, came to him from the school which the Greek Archbishop Theodore founded beneath the walls of Canterbury.  His skill in the ecclesiastical chaunt was derived from a Roman cantor whom Pope Vilalian sent in the train of Benedict Biscop.  Little by little the young scholar thus made himself master of the whole range of the science of his time; he became, as Burke rightly styled him, “the father of English learning.”  The tradition of the older classic culture was first revived for England in his quotations of Plato and Aristotle, of Seneca and Cicero, of Lucretius and Ovid.  Virgil cast over him the same spell that he cast over Dante; verses from the.  Aeneid break his narratives of martyrdoms, and the disciple ventures on the track of the great master in a little eclogue descriptive of the approach of spring.  His work was done with small aid from others.  “I am my own secretary,” he writes; “I make my own notes.  I am my own librarian.”  But forty-five works remained after his death to attest his prodigious industry.  In his own eyes and those of his contemporaries, the most important among these were the commentaries and homilies upon various books of the Bible which he had drawn from the writings of the Fathers.  But he was far from confining himself to theology.  In treatises compiled as text-books for his scholars, Baeda threw together all that the world had then accumulated in astronomy and meteorology, in physics and music, in philosophy, grammar, rhetoric, arithmetic, medicine.  But the encyclopaedic character of his researches left him in heart a simple Englishman.  He loved his own English tongue, he was skilled in English song, his last work was a translation into English of the gospel of St. John, and almost the last words that broke from his lips were some English rhymes upon death.

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MacMillan's Reading Books from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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