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dence of independent authorities. Is this the only cause? We People who repeat a myth about must be on our guard here. what took place “ a long time ago” Certainly the phenomenon is one are not authorities, since they had that cannot be accidental and no means themselves of ascertain- meaningless, and its importance ing the truth ; and they are not has been fully recognised ever since independent, because the narrative the publication of Paley's Hore probably sprang first from some Paulince. Only one inference, howprofessed "maker” (poet) in prose ever, is quite safe—the rule will or verse, instead of flowing from a cover the rare cases of its introgreat number of different sources duction into fictitious narratives by like the authentic tradition of a ingenious authors-namely, that national migration or an important the thing which forms the subject battle.
of the “undesigned coincidence" Investigators may therefore take was very deeply impressed upon this as
canon of historical the mind of each writer who "uncredibility :
designedly" alludes to it or implies A current narrative not founded it-so deeply as to influence his on contemporary evidence cannot thoughts and language whenever be maintained against objections he touched upon it. More briefly, from intrinsic improbability, or we cannot doubt that he had got the from discrepancies and variations. thing thoroughly into his head. But if its items are such as might "How he could have got it into his very well have happened, and are head if it is not true" is, therefore, an adequate explanation of subse- the point to be cleared up by those quent facts, and if it cannot be who wish to deny it. traced to individual invention, but We have to note one comprehenseems to have grown up naturally sive explanation and one caution. as a genuine tradition; and, further, The character of a hero, and the if it stands alone without a rival date and locality of his chief (supnarrative, then scepticism is un- posed) adventures, become exceedcalled for
ing familiar to his countrymen and Next let us suppose ourselves admirers. Hence we find very dealing with authorities who were subtle coincidences in early Greek within reach of the truth, and were authors concerning the famous independent of one another, but Hercules and Achilles. liable, of course, to error.
The caution is, to limit the What is the precise importance proving power of coincidences to of coincidence between them, or the one fact in which the authobetween different passages in the rities concur, with, of course, its same authority? And what is the
necessary antecedents and conseimportance of discrepancy, whether quents. We must not pledge ourin the way of variation or omis
selves to any separable surroundsion ?
ings or avoidable inferences. Here The favourite and well-deserved is an instance :epithet for coincidences is striking. The details of the visit paid to Here is a phenomenon which, once Spires by St. Bernard of Clairvaux, noticed, cannot be neglected. A while he was preaching up the cause for it must exist, and is Second Crusade, are related in two readily found in the reality of the independent narratives, both com. event recorded by one writer, but posed by persons who were there at merely alluded to or implied by the the time and had the fullest means others.
By a sudden enthusiastic appeal he had pre- Rome and Carthage B.c. 509; but vailed upon the reluctant Emperor he may not have had access to the Conrad to become a Crusader. One archives in which Polybius disof the writers, Godfrey, in his covered it;* while, on the other “Life of Bernard,” tells us that hand, if Belisarius had ever really while the saint was being escorted by become a blind beggar, Procopius, Conrad to his lodging, the people his companion and a contemporary brought him a lame boy, whom he historian, must have known it; cured instantaneously, and that and, having known it, Procopius while he was at mass in the chapel must have mentioned it in his near the canon's apartments he account of that famous general's restored sight to a blind woman.
life and misfortunes, or else Our other authority, one Philip (in
must be condemned as a feeble, a diary kept by himself and nine stupid biographer. Though a hisothers for the express purpose of torian of the war between the recording the exact truth), states Northern and Southern American that Bernard, in his own presence, States might know, but need not healed a lame boy, on the same day inform the world, that one of the as he made his speech to the most famous of the Northern Emperor, while at mass in the generals is now manager of a drybishop's chapel, and afterwards goods store. restored sight to a blind man. It was by a mere slip that Marco Both historians lay much stress on Polo omitted from his narrative of the cure of the lame boy ; and as travel all notice of the Chinese Godfrey wrote his biography some Wall, the design of the work reten years later—so that mistakes quiring its insertion ; but the in details do not impair his silence of Josephus with regard to authority-we cannot but be struck the Christian Church warrants the by the coincidences of the two strongest suspicion that, like the narratives in this material point, Pharisees with regard to the bapand we are bound to believe that tism of John, he could not and St. Bernard went through some would not tell “whether public performance with a (pro- from heaven or of men.” The fessedly) lame boy, in or near a omission is a proof of disingenuouschapel, on the day that Conrad ness; while a silence on the same took the cross.
subject in the philosophical works Next as to discrepancies.
of Seneca, who flourished in the First from Omission. No omis. reign of Nero, proves him strangely sion is of any importance unless the unacquainted with the noblest author must have been acquainted moral system of his time—the omiswith the event if it had really sion is a proof of ignorance. happened ; unless also the design Omissions are highly significant of his work made it absolutely if they occur in the earlier as comnecessary for him to mention such pared with the later versions of a an event if he did know of it; and, story intrinsically improbable. further, unless the omission cannot Montaigne (quoted by Bentham) possibly be considered a mere slip shrewdly observes: “When men or accident.
repeat an improbable story, they Thus Livy does not tell us of the find out its weak points, and supcommercial treaty made between plement it by inventions," neces
# Sir G. C. Lewis, " Credibility of Early Roman History," Vol. I., p. 141.
sarily true, they perceive, if the have worked—therefore he was instory itself is true. Thus, if Beli- capacitated for work by blindness. sarius, after his disgrace, was re- And if he begged he must have duced to the last degree of pauper- been glad of the smallest coinsism, he must have taken to begging, therefore he used to say Date therefore the great general became obolum, “ Please a penny for Belia beggar. But he would not have sarius.” condescended to beg if he could
(To be continued.)
ON A BED OF MOSS
I LAY and dreamed, all yestereve,
A dream of deep delight;
Visions surpassing sight.
Shaded by forest boughs,
And aureoles on their brows.
They told me mysteries magical,
Strange unto ears terrene,
They need no moon-ray sheen;
With the light that makes their day, And the glowing of his radiant heart
Surrounds each dancing fay.
I asked for one I loved and lost,
Whom long ago they stole;
Till the king drew forth her soul.
And made her all his own;
She dares not walk alone.
“And why with her should this be so,
Her, pure as any fay?” “Ay,” said they, “pure as mountain snow,
And cold as arctic day:
But she is learning now;
An aureole on her brow !”
Oh, tell me," then I cried in tears,
“ For my slow heart she waits ? ”
Ye are true faery mates."
Singing a lulling song;
The heart's pull was so strong.
“Not so !” cried they, and, pacing round,
They wrought a glamour deep,
In a wondrous happy sleep;
That flashed from the faery king;
I could hear the faeries sing :
“Gather thou strength from the world of sin,
Find wisdom on thy way,
From the warmth of the faeries' day :
By grip of the spear of truth! -
Shall give thee the faeries' youth!”
And then I waked from my gentle dream,
I saw no form of fay.
And the forest boughs above,
A. L. K.