« ElőzőTovább »
Europe where it is not represented by one or more copies." The manuscript of the Vatican Library, which Cardinal Moran consulted in preparing his edition of the “Navigatio,” in his “Acta Sti. Brendani,” is referred by a competent judge to the ninth century.” General Butterfield found thirteen copies of the Latin legend in the National Library of Paris, no two of them being written by the same hand. The one he copied and photographed was declared to be of the tenth century, although marked on the catalogue as belonging to the twelfth.” Jubinal, who made a special study of the matter, is likewise of the opinion that several copies of the “Navigatio” antedate the eleventh century, to which they are generally assigned." Two ancient transcripts of St. Brendan's legend are kept in the Bodleian Library at Oxford, and Mr. Butterfield heard of four others in different places.” There also exist various Latin versions, such as those in the “Codex Salmanticensis,” preserved in the Burgundian Library of Brussels, that are mere abridgments of St. Brendan's Life, or Voyage." Metrical versions of the legend, in Latin and AngloNorman or Romanz, appeared in England as early as the reign of Henry I., about the year 1125, and are preserved in manuscripts of the British Museum. Translations were also made into primitive French, German, English, and into almost every other language of Europe," both in verse and in prose. The Voyage appeared in German at the end of the twelfth century, in Middle-German less than a hundred years after, and a few years later in Low-German.' The library of the archbishop of Nuremberg contains a manuscript copy of the old German translation.” That the ancient inhabitants of Flanders were not unacquainted with the voyager saint is proved by the modern publication of his legend in the old Titske tongue by the scholarly Mr. Blommaert.” St. Brendan's wonderful Voyage has been published in several languages in the earlier ages of typography, but it seems that at no time of its history has the legend attracted more attention from the learned than in our own age of historical criticism. In the year 1798 Burns made public the Low-German translation." In 1836 the Latin text was published, together with early French translations, by Achille Jubinal,” who may give the reader much interesting information for which we could find no space. The story of St. Brendan is given by von Humboldt," D'Avezac,' and Gaffarel.” An English version was edited by Thomas Wright." The Bollandists lately edited the Latin version of the “Codex Salmanticensis,” and Cardinal Moran his “Acta Sti. Brendani,” which form the most valuable repertory we have of matters Brendanian." The legend was published again, in the year 1871, in its Middle-German garb, by Schröder;' and by F. Michel in 1878, according to an Old-French manuscript of the British Museum.” Finally, six years ago the parish priest of Ardfert gave to the world his learned and interesting “Brendaniana.” May we not ask here whether it is likely that so much learning, time, and labor should have been spent upon the legend of St. Brendan, if it were nothing but a rhapsodic tale of phantasms, for the creation of which the author's sickly brain had not even the indispensable fragmentary material; if it had not, in its archaic form and with such extravagant flourish as suited the times, conveyed to wondering Europe the intelligence of an actual exploit, which, through its religious character, aroused the enthusiasm of newly converted nations, and through its scientific bearing enlisted the unabated attention of the learned until this day? It is true that Vincent of Beauvais refused to admit St. Brendan's legend into his Cyclopædia, because, he says, of the fanciful absurdities that occur in it; * but his contemporaries accepted it without discussion. James Waren ‘ and Usher carefully remark that the story contains prodigious myths; yet they admit, like Colgan, the historical warp of the narrative." They knew better than we that in those ages of faith and of saints, especially in the homes of erudition or monasteries of friars, the standard of criticism was quite different from ours; for, while modern literature is making every effort to drive Almighty God out of this world, the monks of those ages would neither read nor write any composition that was not generally spiced with supernatural commixtures which we now justly call incredible and impossible. In judging, therefore, of mediaeval legends, we ought to keep aloof from hypercriticism, as well as from credulity; and this rule has been observed, in regard to the “Voyage” of St. Brendan, by the learned of old and by the greater number of modern historians. Thus is the island of “Saint Borondan” called by the learned von Humboldt not imaginary, but, to speak more correctly, he says, vaguely located." Sheene styles the legend of St. Brendan a pious romance resting on an historical foundation. “No fabulous incidents would have been interwoven with the events of his life if among these there had not been an effort to extend Christianity to distant unknown islands, and of such an undertaking no signs are wanting,” he adds.” “The whole story of St. Brandan bears neither repetition nor criticism; but, in the midst of much crude fiction, we find occasional touches which have evidently been derived from the reports of genuine voyagers,” says Payne.” Webb, in his “Compendium of Irish Biography,” repeats the opinion of another recent critic, saying, “Although the account of St. Brendan's voyages abound with fables, yet it may be admitted that he Sailed, in company with some other persons, towards the West, in search of some island or country the existence of which he had heard of.” "
! O'Donoghue, pp. 104, 109; Acta * O'Donoghue, p. 357.
SS. Bolland., ed. Bruxellis, t. vii. * New York Freeman's Journal,
Octobris, p. 952, annot. e. November 5, 1892.
sor, vol. i. p. 48. * Ibid., pp. 109, 357.
* New York Freeman's Journal, November 5, 1892.
'Kretschmer, S. 188. * Examen, vol. ii. p. 163. * New York Freeman's Journal, 7 Iles d’Afrique, ii. 19. November 5, 1892. * Les Voyages de St. Brandan et *Acta SS. Bolland., ed. Bruxel- des Papae. lis, t. vii. Octobris, p. 952. * St. Brandan, a Mediaeval Le“Alt-Plataeutsche Gedichte, ap. gend of the Sea, in English Prose Kretschmer, S. 188. and Verse, London, 1844; see Win* La Légende Latine de S. Bran- sor, vol. i. p. 48. daines, avec une traduction in- 10 O’Donoghue, pp. 1, 181.
édite en prose et en poésie Romanes, ap. Kretschmer, S. 188, and O'Donoghue, p. 357.
1 St. Brandan ; Erlangen. * De Scriptoribus Hibernis, p. * Paris, ap. Kretschmer, S. 1SS. 12. * Speculum Historiale, lib. xxi. * Cf. Acta SS. Bolland., Maii t. cap. lxxxi. (thirteenth century). iii., Antwerp., De S. Brandano, cap. ii. 12.
Following the same method of criticism, we shall extract a few statements from the legend, add a few words of explanation, and adduce arguments from other Sources that establish their credibility and truthfulness.”
'Examen, t. ii. p. 161. * Art. Brendan. *Celtic Scotland, t. ii. p. 76. * St. Brendan was born in the * P. 106. year 483 (O’Donoghue, p. 32), in the province Munster, county of May, 577, in Eanach-duin or Kerry, within the townland Fenit, Annaghdown (ibid., pp. 261, 264, six miles west from Tralee (ibid., 269), at three days’ journey from pp. 7, 41, 111). He was ordained Clonfert, in the county Galway a priest in the year 512 or 514 and province Connaught, where he (ibid., p. 64); died in the ninety- was buried (ibid., p. 183). fourth year of his age, on the 16th
The story of the “Voyage” opens with the edifying narrative of a pious visitor at the monastery of Ardfert-Brendan. Father Baruin or Barinthus tells the religious community how, after having received information of his dear son Mernoc, who had left to become a hermit, he went to visit him on an island far away in the western ocean, where he found him to be an abbot of a large community of monks. After some time, Mernoc offered his father to take him farther west, to a country which he called the “Land of Promise of the Saints.” They sailed through dark clouds, and finally arrived at the land, spacious and grassy, and bearing all manner of fruits. They walked about for fifteen days, yet could not reach the limits of that country, but on the fifteenth day they discovered a river flowing from the West towards the East. After all, Barinthus had returned full of joy and admiration.
Some authors think that the darkness through which St. Brendan himself had afterwards to pass, immediately before entering the Land of the Blessed, might well be the thick fogs so common yet on the Newfoundland banks. But let us not take up this uncertainty, while Barinthus's tale is fraught with a more important difficulty that claims our attention.
It would appear, indeed, that the islets far off in the western ocean, which can be none other than those along the North American shore, and our continent itself, were not altogether unknown in Ireland at the time of St. Brendan's famous voyage. This statement