Page:English Historical Review Volume 37.djvu/406

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Notes and Documents

'King Harold's Books'

Adelard of Bath, philosopher, astronomer, and translator from the Arabic, remains an enigmatic figure in the early history of English learning. That he was no mere closet scholar appears from his connexion with the household of Henry I and the education of the young Henry II,[1] and is further evident from his hitherto unnoticed treatise on the royal sport of hawking. This brief tract is found unidentified, with the title De Avibus Tractatus, in a manuscript of about 1200 in the Nationalbibliothek at Vienna;[2] and extracts from it, in Adelard's name, are preserved at Clare College, Cambridge.[3] The style is Adelard's, and, like his Questiones Naturales, this is in the form of a dialogue with his nephew, to whom his De Eodem et Diverso is also addressed. The mention of their recent discussion of cause rerum seems to refer specifically to the Questiones[4] and thus place our tract in the reign of Henry I. It begins:

Quoniam in causis disserendis rerum animus noster admodum fatigatus[5] est, ad eiusdem relevationem id magis delectabile quam grave interponendum est. Intellectus enim similiter ut arcus si nunquam cessas tendere mollis erit. Quare in eo iudicio tale ad quod et iocundum et utile sit eligendum est. Id autem recte fieri spero si de accipitrum natura et usu[6] elegantius aperias, precipue cum et nos Angli sumus genere et eorum inde scientia pre ceteris gentibus probata sit et ea deinde scientie qualitas constat[7] ut[8] quanto pluribus dividitur tanto magis efflorescet. Adel[ardus]. Sit sane ne aut inscientia aut invidia[9] arguamus. Ea igitur disseremus que et modernorum magistrorum usu didicimus et non minus que Haraoldi[10]
  1. Ante, xxvi. 491–8; xxviii. 515 f.
  2. Cod. lat. 2504, fos. 49–51. The text is often corrupt.
  3. MS. 15 (KK. 4. 2), fos. 186-186v; cf. James, Catalogue, p. 33: 'Incipit quarta particula Alardi ad nepotem suum. Nepos. Quales debent esse qui huic studio vacant?'
  4. See the dedicatory epistle in Martene and Durand, Thesaurus, i. 291. The Questiones Naturales breaks off at evening and announces a succeeding dialogue on fundamentals: 'Mane autem, si tibi idem sedet, conveniamus ut de inicio vel de iniciis disputemus. Nepos. Michi vero nichil magis sedet. … Quietis igitur refectionem libens accipio, ut ad tractatum novum novi veniamus.' MS. lat. 6425, fo. 39 V . The dialogue thus announced has not yet been identified.
  5. MS. fatigatitus.
  6. Corrected from usque ad.
  7. MS. et stat.
  8. MS. ett(?)
  9. MS. individua.
  10. The scribe may have tried to correct the a into an o or vice versa.