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English prose; and, secondly, a series of notes designed chiefly, though not exclusively, to assist the reader by placing before him the passages of Scripture cited or alluded to in the text, so far at least as could be done for the work of a writer who was using a Latin version other than the present. The hymn itself is not so widely known as to make a brief account of it altogether unnecessary. After the first chapter or section, in which, as may be seen from the extracts above, God is praised as He is in Himself, the thought of the author of the “Altus” passes through three phases, in each of which he praises the Most High for a special class of His works. The first is dedicated to the angelic world, the second to the material cosmogony as understood by the writer, and the third to the things which shall or may be hereafter. Each section comprises seven chapters of twelve short lines each, with the exception of the prelude, which runs out two lines extra. Here occurs the phrase noted before, “Ingenitus," “Unbegotten,” yet natural or strictly in the course of nature. The editor properly explains that no such expression is found in Scripture; but in the Athanasian creed there is “Pater a mullo est factus, nec creatus, nec genitus"“The Father is made of none, neither created, nor begotten;" and the word also occurs in such Church Offices as the Trinity Sunday Antiphon at “Magnificat," in the Roman Breviary “Te Deum Patrem Ingenitum”-“Father unbegotten.” “Vetustus dierum” is evidently the “Antiquus dierum,” or “Ancient of Days” of Dan. vii. 9, 13, and 22. The section relating to the angelic hosts partly repeats views set out at greater length in that division of Adamnan's life of the Saint known as “The Apparition of Angels," from which the reader gathers that in Ireland, especially in and around his favourite Derry, as well as in Iona, legions of these ministering spirits were seen and conversed with. Montalembert makes repeated reference in his life of the Saint to the encouragement and aid derived through the angelic attendants—“Sed haberat cælestia in quibus privilegia ostenderet magnopere possibili fatimine”_"Heavenly creatures wherein to show graces as great as any utterance can express.” The chapter on “Heaven," which is given at length as a fair specimen of this early Celtic poem, would seem, as
the Marquis writes, to imply that Columba regarded as identical that Paradise in which God placed Adam with that Paradise which is the home of the saints, still existing in some part of the world
Plantatum a procemio
Cujus et situm florido
The first eight lines are, of course, founded upon Genesis ii. 6-14; the next on Rev. xxii. 2, where mention is made of the tree of life and the leaves “for the healing of the nations;” and the last two probably on Ezek. xxviii. 13“In deliciis Paradisi Dei fuisti "_"Thou hast been amidst the pleasures of the garden of God;” or, as our authorised version has it, “Eden, the garden of God.” With the chapter commencing “Quis ad condictum Domini Montem conscendit Sinai?” the poet passes to the third and last part of his work. Having described the work of God in the creation and preservation of angels and men, of the intellectual and material components of this planet and her sphere (which to him was nearly, if not quite, the same thing as the Kosmos), he projects thought forward to the time when this planet will be changed. Then, continues his editor, a pause is made for a moment to consider that there has been but one whose drawing near to God, when revealing Himself in terror, can ever have enabled him to know, however imperfectly, what the terror of the end will be. To follow this chapter with wisdom, it is therefore necessary to read in connection Exodus xix., particularly from ver. 16—"Et ecce cæperunt audiri tonitrua ac micare fulgura, et nubes densissima operire montem, clangorque buccinæ vehementius perstrepebat "_"And behold the thunders began to be heard,” &c. In this portion of the poem the Marquis naturally detects a certain inclination to dwell upon the terrible, recalling so far that element in Columba's character which sometimes cast shadows on the brightness of his life, and infused with a certain awe the veneration which surrounded his memory after death. When King Dermot, sitting enthroned on Tara, gave judgment against him in the dispute concerning the O'Donnell Psalter, which had been transcribed with his own hand, Columba exclaimed in wrath, “I shall tell my brethren and my kinsfolk how the rights of the Church have been violated in my person, and the wrong shall be wiped out in blood. My humiliation shall be followed by yours in the day of battle. Cursed be he who does evil. The thing which he sees not comes upon him, and the thing which he sees vanishes from his grasp." Columba afterwards found a friend in St. Brandan, of Bute, who, having seen the column of fire which went before Columba and the angels walking by his side, besought his brethren at Teilte to revoke the sentence passed on one thus manifestly singled out for some high purpose. But Columba by that time was getting disquieted in conscience. He had, it is said, begun to doubt, not that victories had been won by his prayers, but whether he had been right in applying so potent an engine to the discomfiture of mortal adversaries. “I beseech you,” he said to a holy monk named Abban, “to pray for the men who have been slain in the wars waged by me for the honour of the Church. I know that if you intercede they will obtain mercy, and the angel with whom you daily converse will reveal to you the will of God concerning them.” The monk, prompted by a feeling of modesty, long refused his request.
At length he prayed, and when his prayer was ended, the angel gave him the assurance that all should be admitted to the bliss of heaven. Dr. Reeves interprets the piece commencing “Causa quare voluit Deum laudare," as a prayer to be forgiven for three battles he had occasioned in Ireland. On the whole, the Marquis judges the intrinsic merits of the “Altus” to be very great, especially in these latter and more imaginative chapters, some of which he thinks would not suffer by comparison with even the famous “Dies Iræ.” It is by these, indeed, he hopes the poem may commend itself to many who may not have been aware of its existence, or may not have had no opportunity of consulting it in a convenient form. As the editor has not judged it necessary to refer to the
different legends regarding the composition of the “Altus," or the supernatural advantages claimed for its recitation, it may interest readers who turn over its pages for the first time to be reminded of its connection with Pope Gregory the Great, an ancient tradition fixing its composition at Iona in acknowledgment of gifts sent to the monastery by his Holiness, who is further said to have listened to its recitation, standing, out of respect for the author, whom he knew not only as a great missionary, but as possessed also of rare gifts in poetry and oratory, with which he adorned his long, adventurous, and self-denying life.
The work done by the Maitland Club in its day was so thorough, varied, and scholarly that high expectations are naturally raised when a new volume is submitted as practically one of the series, and prepared by a member with a view to presentation when the club was in its palmiest days. Nor is it the least praise due Mr. Dobie's “ Pont” to say that it is entitled to take its place beside some of the most useful volumes of the series. We miss indeed the old familiar titlepage, and also the roll of members so suggestive of the pleasant weaknesses incident to a taste for tall folios and scarce quartos. But in other respects—in its printing and binding, the compact yet clear page, a margin broad enough to be agreeable to the eye, yet avoiding the error of unseemly waste, and the timehonoured boarding-all tend to commend it to members as a fit addition to a series of works not more remarkable for good taste than solid learning. To readers composing a far wider circle it will be found an enticing addition to the library of the working student or the topographical collector. Mr. Dobie, sen., well known as a sound authority on certain West Country pedigrees, commenced his labours on “Pont" in 1825. It was afterwards repeatedly referred to in “ Maitland” Reports as a contribution in preparation, but the sudden death of the annotator in 1853 prevented the fulfilment of his design when on the eve of completion. Fullarton's “Account of Cunningham,” issued nearly twenty years since, went over the same ground with, it is said, a rather free use of the result of Mr. Dobie's inquiries. The MS., however, was preserved with fair care; and on the return to this country of Mr. J. S. Dobie, jun., in 1870, the present publication was undertaken. While the notes and illustrations of the annotator remain intact the latest editor has endeavoured to supplement his notices of places and families where they appeared deficient, and, what was equally essential, has brought down the information to quite a recent date. Of Pont himself a word or two is necessary. A son of Robert, minister of Edinburgh West Church, Timothy matriculated in St. Leonard's College, St. Andrews, in 1579-80, and from 1601 to 1608 was minister of the parish of Dunnet, in Caithness. His taste, however, lay in mathematics and kindred studies, and he is said to have been the first projector of an atlas in Scotland. Having given up his parochial charge, Pont personally surveyed all the counties and isles of Scotland, and made drawings of such monuments of antiquity as tended to illustrate his descriptive notes. The year of his death has not been ascertained with certainty, but Pont's papers are known to have been placed under the charge of Gordon of Straloch, himself an eminent geographer and antiquary. At the instance of Charles I. these papers were afterwards of great service to the Blaeus of Amsterdam in the publication of that portion of their great work, “Geographia Blaviana,” relating to Scotland. The preface mentions the fifth part as a child of which the parents were Pont and Gordon and the nurse Sir John Scot of Scotstarvet. The map of Cunningham given in Blaeu's work has been reproduced in the original size for Mr. Dobie's volume.
Cunningham, famous in rhyme for its corn and bere, would seem to have been the most complete of Pont's surveys. He appears to have gone over the district with leisure, as he enumerates about 350 places. He omits, indeed, few of any importance, but is occasionally inaccurate in fixing the exact locality.