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wives, to establish the Benedictine rule in all the monasteries, expel those secular priests who, according to the old custom, resided with their respective Bishops, and introduce monks in their stead. They proceeded in this with the favour of Edmund, and of his successor Edred, who, because he suffered under a slow and wasting disease, was the more easily governed by these ambitious and haughty churchmen. But a plan which went directly to alter the constitution of the national church, called forth a strong and well-grounded opposition, and their opponents obtained a temporary triumph after Edred's early death. Edwy the son of Edmund succeeded his uncle at the age of sixteen. He was married to Elgiva, so prematurely were marriages contracted in those times; but as his wife was related to him in what the Romish Church had thought proper in its crooked policy to call a prohibited degree, the followers of that Church who admired the conduct of Dunstan, have represented her as his concubine. Her well-known story is one of the most deeply tragic tales in British history. On the coronation-day the young King after dinner rose from table, and leaving his guests over their cups, went into an inner apartment to his wife and her mother. Such an act of disrespect to his nobles might have been excused in one so young, especially when, through the contagion of Danish manners, a fashion of gross excess in drinking had become so general that it prevailed even at episcopal tables. It gave offence, however ; Odo desired that some persons would go and bring the King back to his guests; and Dunstan, with a Bishop his kinsman, was chosen to execute this rude commission, which none of the nobles, displeased as they were, and heated perhaps with drink, were willing to undertake. Instead of persuading him to return by fatherly advice, mildly and prudently offered, they dragged him into the hall by force. Their insolence provoked the spirit which it was intended to subdue. Incensed at it, and by the language which Dunstan had addressed to Elgiva, Edwy deprived him of his honours, confiscated his property, and banished him; and it is said that unless he had embarked in all haste, messengers would have overtaken him, with orders to put
out his eyes.
The contemporary author of Dunstan's life, an eye-witness of many of his actions, and probably an instrument in them, has
related that on this occasion, when the King's officers were making an inventory of his goods at Glastonbury, the Devil was heard laughing and rejoicing, and that the Saint, knowing his voice, told him not to exult too much, for upon a change of affairs he would be as much cast down. If Dunstan threatened vengeance at his departure, it was in the spirit of a conspirator, not of a prophet. While he retired to Flanders, and found an asylum in the monastery of St. Peter's at Ghent, the party which he left in England attacked the young King, first with spiritual arms-never more flagitiously employed—then with open rebellion. The Primate Odo pronounced against him sentence of divorce, sent armed men into the palace to seize Elgiva, branded her face with a red-hot iron for the double purpose of destroying her beauty, and marking her for infamy, and banished her to Ireland. The ministers in this execrable act were less inhuman than their employers; they performed their orders so imperfectly, that when the wounds healed no deformity remained, and Elgiva, escaping from banishment, returned to England to rejoin her husband. She was overtaken at Gloucester by Odo's people, and hamstrung, to prevent the possibility of a second escape: the monsters who perpetrated this accursed deed are called the servants of God by the monkish biographer, and the crime itself has been recorded as a meritorious action. The beautiful Elgiva's sufferings were soon terminated by death ; and Edwy was prevented from taking vengeance by the revolt of the Northumbrians and Mercians, who, under Odo's sanction, set up his brother Edgar, a boy of thirteen, as King. Dunstan was then recalled, and whatever share he may have had in the previous measures, it is certain that he now contracted the guilt of a full participation in them.
His return was like a triumph. The first promotion which he obtained was to the see of Worcester, and the craft of the monastic party was strikingly exhibited at his consecration. When Odo performed the ceremony he consecrated him Archbishop of Canterbury instead of Bishop of Worcester. One of the by-standers, who was not in the secret, reproved the Primate for this, saying, that it was against the canons to have two Archbishops for the same see at one time; and that he had no
1 Acta Ss. Mai. t. iv. p. 354. Osbern, ibid. p. 368.
authority thus to elect his own successor.
But Odo audaciously replied, that what he had done was not his own act; he had spoken under the immediate influence of the Holy Ghost,' Dunstan being destined to succeed him in the primacy as the most redoubted champion against the Prince of this world. There seemed sufficient likelihood that this impudent prediction would bring about its fulfilment, the obvious purpose for which it was intended. Edwy, after struggling three years against the competitor whom these ambitious' churchmen had set up, was removed from the contest by a violent death. Nor was it enough for his flagitious enemies to have deprived him of his wife, driven him from his throne, and brought both these illustrious victims to an untimely and miserable end; still further to blacken the memory of this most injured prince, they affirmed that Dunstan had seen a host of Devils rejoicing over his soul as their allotted prey, and that the saint, by his intercession, had rescued him from that everlasting damnation to which he must otherwise bave been condemned.'
The domitant faction expected now to accomplish all their measures ; and as a proof of the ascendency which they possessed over the king, Dunstan was made Bishop of London, and permitted to hold the see of Worcester at the same time. But upon Odo's death the secular clergy exerted themselves to oppose the further advancement of this intolerant monk; and Elfin of Winchester was by their means promoted to the primacy. They are accused of having effected this by bribes. Elfin had but a short enjoyment of his promotion. On his way to Rome, there to receive his pall, he was lost in the snow in attempting to cross the Alps at a dangerous season; and the monks in their usual spirit represented this fate as a judgment upon him," for having intruded into a see which it had been revealed that Dunstan should succeed to. The seculars were still powerful enough to prevent the promotion of their dreaded enemy, and Byrthelm, Bishop of Dorchester, was appointed to the vacant diocese. But they could not support him there. Complaints
Osbern, 369. ? Osbern even jests upon the manner of his death,
“Gravi inter alpes frigore correptus misere interiit, dignà sibi ultione divinitus recompensatů, ut qui ab amore coelestium friguisset in corde, per frigoris asperitatem periret in corpore : et qui alienos honores ambire præsumpsisset, ipse in alienâ regione mortuus, honorem pariter et vitam amitteret.” p. 370,
were raised against him that he was remiss in the correction of offences ; a phrase, whereby is meant, that he did not compel the clergy to put away their wives. Upon this charge he was sent back to his former see with some disgrace, and Dunstan was then elevated to the authority which he had so long desired over the English Church. He went to Rome, according to the then prevailing custom, and received his pall from the hands of Pope John XII.
The new Archbishop was not sparing of miracles to overawe the people, and prepare them for submitting to his measures with devout obedience. While he was performing his first mass, a dove alighted upon him, and remained during the whole ceremony; in those days the impious assertion was safely made, that this was the same dove which had appeared when our Saviour was baptized in the river Jordan. He said of himself, that, whether sleeping or waking, his spirit was always intent upon spiritual things. He affirmed also, that he saw in a dream his own mother solemnly ? espoused to the King of Heaven, that all the choirs of Heaven joined in hymns of joy, and that an angel had taught him an anthem upon the occasion; and he made one of his clerks write down this anthem, and had it performed in his Church, as a divine composition. The dream was said to be symbolical, and the mother of Dunstan to typify the church as by him reformed. So long as Edgar lived, such easy frauds were sufficient for their purpose. That king was wholly in the hands of the monastic party ; they engaged to defend him from the Devil and his angels, and he bound himself to protect them against their earthly opponents. On his part the contract was faithfully performed; the clergy were driven out, and the Benedictines established everywhere in their stead.
But, upon Edgar's death, a vigorous resistance was made. The widowed Queen took part with the clergy; they were restored by violence in many parts of the kingdom, and in like manner again ejected by Dunstan, who had got possession of the young King Edward. But the wily and unscrupulous Primate perceived that force alone was not to be relied on: a synod, therefore, was convened at Winchester; and when the advocates of the Secular Clergy appealed to the King, and entreated that i Osbern, 370.
2 Acta SS. Mai. t. iv. p. 356. Osbern, 373.
they might be restored to their rightful possessions, a voice proceeded from a crucifix' against the wall, saying, “Let it not be! let it not be ! you have done well, and would do ill to change it.” The Saint's antagonists were not so ignorant of the miraculous craft as to be put to silence by a defeat thus brought about. A second council was assembled, without effecting anything. Dunstan took care that the third, which was held at Calne, should prove decisive. The nobles, as well as the heads of both parties, attended. The King was kept away because of his youth, though he had been present at the former meetings. Beornelm, a Scotch Bishop, pleaded the cause of the clergy with great ability; alleging scripture in their behalf, and custom ; and arguing upon the morality and reason of the case, against the celibacy to which, by these new laws, they were to be compelled. His speech produced a great effect, and Dunstan did not attempt to answer it; he had laid aside, says his biographer, all means excepting prayer. “ You endeavour,” said he,“ to overcome me, who am now growing old, and disposed to silence more than contention. I confess that I am unwilling to be overcome ; and I commit the cause of his church to Christ himself, as judge !” No sooner had these words been spoken than the beams and rafters gave way: that part of the floor upon which the clergy and their friends were arranged fell with them, many being killed in the fall, and others grievously hurt ; but the part where Dunstan and his party had taken their seats remained firm.?
The arch miracle-monger lived ten years to enjoy his victory, and carry into effect his proposed alterations in the Church. His end was worthy of his life; for during those juggling ages, when the chief performers in the Romish Church were no longer able or willing to act wonders for themselves, ready instruments were always at hand to carry on the system of deceit to the last. When his death was approaching, a Priest, who, on the eve of Ascension-day, had been keeping vigils in the church, declared he had seen Dunstan seated on his archiepiscopal throne, and dictating laws to the clergy ; when, behold, a multitude of Cherubim and Seraphim entered at all the doors, attired in glittering white garments, and wearOsbern, 372.