« PreviousContinue »
PLANS PURSUED BY THE BISHOP FOR THE IMPROVEMENT OF HIS DIOCESE.
We shall now place before our readers a general sketch of the plans pursued by Bishop Burgess to promote the diffusion of Christian light and knowledge throughout his extensive diocese. These plans were adopted within the first twelvemonth of his occupation of the see, and were carried on with little deviation, and with his characteristic stedfastness of purpose, throughout the long period of twentytwo years, during which he presided over it. His own personal habits and proceedings were scarcely less uniform than his plans. His life was divided between the active discharge of his episcopal duties and the laborious pursuits of an author and a scholar. Early and late he was employed with his books and his pen the dawn of day beheld him at his labours, whether in grappling with difficult theological questions, or composing catechisms for children, or instructions for his clergy; and the midnight oil was not spared in the prosecution of these important objects.
The general sketch, therefore, which we contemplate, will be equally that of the Bishop's life in
1803 and in 1820, varied only by official residences at Durham and attendance on parliamentary duties in London. The same may be said of his private history during the same long period. Nothing could be less diversified. His habits at the age of forty-seven and at seventy were perfectly similar, studious, self-denying, temperate, assiduous. The same simple tastes and pleasures also accompanied him from youth to age: the love of picturesque nature, of a meditative or social walk, or an agree able drive, poetry, music, especially sacred music. Such also was the tenor of his mental qualities and feelings he was habitually amiable, gentle, humble, affectionate; but firm and inflexible in the maintenance of principle and the discharge of duty equally immovable in these respects, whether pressed to relax from his purposes by the first nobleman, or the humblest curate of his diocese. As a life of this description admits of no variety, the particulars will be included in a brief compass; and this will the more especially be the case between the years 1804 and 1823, because little of his correspondence during this period is in possession of the editor. The greater part of it was destroyed at the time the Bishop quitted Abergwilly for Salisbury.
By way of introduction, the following particulars respecting the see of St. David's will not be found irrelevant.
The see of St. David's is of very great extent,
comprehending the counties of Pembroke, Carmarthen, Cardigan, Brecknock, Radnor, a fourth part of Glamorganshire, eight parishes in Herefordshire, and a small portion of Montgomery and Monmouth shires.
It was constituted a metropolitan see of the British Church as far back as the sixth century. Twenty-five Archbishops succeeded each other in its administration. Sampson, the last of them, lived A. D. 915. His successors, though they lost the title, exercised archiepiscopal functions over the suffragan Bishops of Worcester, Hereford, St. Asaph, Bangor, and Llandaff, until the reign of Henry the First, when Bernard, a Norman, was violently planted in the see by that monarch, and surrendered his metropolitan powers to the Archbishop of Canterbury.
Carleon was the original seat of the Archbishopric. It was probably abandoned in consequence of the outrages to which it was exposed by invasions from the adjoining counties of England. This translation took place somewhere between A. D. 550 and 609, when St. David occupied the see. The reverence inspired by his Christian virtues, and the zeal and ability with which he opposed the pernicious doctrines of Pelagius, had called him from the seclusion of monastic life to the possession of the first honours of his native Church. It is in Wales, and within this period, that the original British Apostolic Church may be distinctly traced. Stillingfleet proves,
in his Origines Britannicæ, that the see of St. David's was not subject to the Pope before the Conquest; consequently that for
it existed in an independent form.
brensis maintains that this state of independence continued until the reign of Henry I.
The history of the see may be divided into three periods:
1st. From its foundation, in the sixth century, to the abdication of the metropolitan authority of its bishops in the twelfth.
2d. From the commencement of its suffragan state to the beginning of the Reformation in the sixteenth century.
3d. From that time to the present.
The first portion of this history is designated by Bishop Burgess as a period of holy austerity and venerable poverty. The second, as the period of establishment and endowment; and the third, as respects the external condition of the see, as one of declension and dilapidation. The noble architectural buildings, the ruins of which attract so many travellers to St. David's, were erected subsequently to the extinction of its metropolitan state. They were the works of individual wealth and liberality. The palace of St. David's, which must originally have been a splendid residence, was built about the middle of the fourteenth century. It was out of repair early in the sixteenth, and, before its close, was no longer habitable. There were two other episcopal
mansions at this time, Lamphey, and the Lawhaden, and no less than four collegiate establishments within the diocese, for the promotion of learning and clerical education.
The present Cathedral was commenced in the year 1180, by Bishop Peter de Lien, and was completed by his successor, who dedicated it to St. Andrew and St. David. Though built at different periods, and exhibiting consequent incongruities of style, and mingled vestiges of solidity and decay, it is an edifice which, in conjunction with the ruins of the Bishop's palace, is fraught with interest to the antiquarian, so beautiful are some of its chapels, and so interesting many of its architectural features and accompaniments. The following particulars are
In the year 1287, Bishop Becke made a statute, by which he binds himself and future bishops to leave to their successors 32 ploughs and 256 oxen, that is, eight oxen to each plough, for the cultivation of the episcopal estates. These ploughs and oxen appear to have been attached to the several manors according to the relative magnitude of the estates.
In the year 1379, by a statute of Bishop Haughton, the number of episcopal mansions and manorhouses was reduced to eight,-" sustinenda et reparanda ex necessitate et statuto ecclesiæ Menevensis;" and for the use of the episcopal estates, only 10 ploughs and 79 oxen were to be left by every bishop for his successor. The difference in the number of