Page:Historical Works of Venerable Bede vol. 2.djvu/27

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xix
THE LIFE OF BEDE.

has invariably broken forth significant of their future life and fortunes. So very little, however, is known of this great ornament of England and Father of the Universal Church, that except his own writings, the letter of Cuthbert his disciple, and one or two other almost contemporary records, we have no means whatever of tracing his private history.

The place of his birth is said by Bede himself to have been in the territory afterwards belonging to the twin-monasteries of St. Peter and St. Paul, at Weremouth and Jarrow. The whole of this territory, lying along the coast near the mouths of the rivers Tyne and Were, was granted to Abbot Benedict by King Egfrid two years after the birth of Bede. William of Malmesbury points out more minutely the spot where our author first saw the light. His words are these: "Britain, which some writers have called another world, because, from its lying at a distance, it has been overlooked by most Geographers, contains in its remotest parts a place on the borders of Scotland, where Bede was born and educated. The whole country was formerly studded with monasteries, and beautiful cities founded therein by the Romans, but now, owing to the devastations of the Danes and Normans, has nothing to allure the senses. Through it runs the Were, a river of no mean width, and of tolerable rapidity. It flows into the sea, and receives ships,