situation. But he disclaimed originality, as he says in the preface to his Commentary on the Hexaemeron, addressed to Bishop Acca of Hexham:
"Concerning the beginning of Genesis where the creation of the world is described, many have said much, and have left to posterity monuments of their talents. Among these, as far as our feebleness can learn, we may distinguish Basil of Caesarea (whom Eustathius translated from Greek to Latin), Ambrose of Milan, and Augustine, Bishop of Hippo. Of whom the first-named in nine books, the second following his footprints in six books, the third in twelve books and also in two others directed against the Manichaeans, shed floods of salutary doctrine for their readers; and in them the promise of the Truth was fulfilled: 'Whoso believeth in me, as the Scripture saith, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water.…' But since these works are so great that only the rich may own them, and so profound that they may be fathomed only by the learned, your holiness has seen fit to lay on us the task of plucking from them all, as from the sweetest wide-flowering fields of paradise, what might seem to meet the needs of weaklings."Bede was also a lovely story-teller. His literary charm and power appear in his Life of St. Cuthbert, and still more in his ever-famous Ecclesiastical History of the English People, so warm with love of mankind, and presenting so wonderful a series of dramatic stories animate with vital motive and the colour of incident and circumstance. Midway between the spontaneous genius of this work and the copied Scripture Commentary, stand Bede's grammatical, metrical, and scientific compositions, compiled with studious zeal. They evince a broad interest in scholarship and in nature. Still, neither material nor method was original. For instance, his De rerum natura took its plan and much of its substance from Isidore's work of the same name. Bede has, however, put in further matter and made his work less of a mere shell of words than Isidore's. For he
- This is noticeable in his Commentary on the Gospel of John, Migne, Pat. Lat. 92, col. 633 sqq.
- Migne, Pat. Lat. 91, col. 9. In another prefatory epistle to the same bishop Acca, Bede intimates that he has abridged the language of the Fathers: he says it is inconvenient always to put their names in the text. Instead he has inscribed the proper initials of each Father in the margin opposite to whatever he may have taken from him (in Lucae Evangelium expositio, Migne 92 col. 304).