Page:Historical Works of Venerable Bede vol. 2.djvu/50

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charge it has been alleged, that there is still extant (of an earlier date than Malmesbury's work) a copy of this letter, (Tiberius, A. xv.) in which the passage relating to Beda does not occur. In answer to this it may be urged, that Usher, who had seen and copied the letter from the MS. above alluded to, arrives at no such conclusion. He had, moreover, in his possession an ancient MS. containing the letter entire, from which Malmesbury gives but extracts; and therein Beda's name does occur, though he is not described as presbyter. The only inference drawn by Usher is, that the omission of Beda's description is not without reason, inasmuch as he had not at that time been ordained priest. Before it can be admitted as a just inference that Malmesbury interpolated the passage in question, it must be shewn that Tiberius A. xv. was the identical copy of the letter he used; a conclusion which cannot fairly be drawn, as it is incredible but that other copies of the letter must have been extant when he wrote: and it ought rather to be contended that the one he saw must have contained the passage in dispute; for Malmesbury (whose great integrity is admitted by all writers) several times expressly declares that he declined inserting anything in his history for which he had not the best authority. Moreover, had he been guilty of the interpolation attributed to him, it is improbable that he