No tainted vest wrapping the corpse around. The swelling dropsy, and dire atrophy, A pale disease from the blest vestments fly. Rage fires the fiend, who whilome Eve betray’d, While shouting angels hail the glorious maid. See! wedded to her God, what joy remains, In earth, or heaven, see! with her God she reigns! Behold! the spouse, the festal torches shine, He comes! behold! what joyful gifts are thine! Thou a new song on the sweet harp shalt sing, A hymn of praise to thy celestial King. None from the flock of the throned Lamb shall move, Whom grateful passion bind, and heavenly love.
CHAP XXI. —
BISHOP THEODORE MADE PEACE BETWEEN THE KINGS EGFRID AND ETHELRED.
Battle of the Trent.
IN the ninth year of the reign of King Egfrid, a great battle was fought between him and Ethelred, king of the Mercians, near the river Trent, and Elfwin, brother to King Egfrid, was slain, a youth about eighteen years of age, and much beloved by both provinces, for King Ethelred had married his sister Osthrid. There was now reason to expect a more bloody war, and more lasting enmity between those kings and their fierce nations; but Theodore, the bishop beloved of God, relying on the Divine assistance, by his wholesome admonitions extinguished the dangerous fire that was breaking out; so that the kings and their people on both sides being appeased, no man was put to death, but only the usual mulet paid to the king for his brother that had been killed; and this peace continued long after between those kings and their kingdoms.
CHAP XXII. —
HOW A CERTAIN CAPTIVE’S CHAINS FELL OFF WHEN MASSES WERE SUNG FOR HIM.
A captive freed from his chains.
IN the aforesaid battle, wherein Elfwin, the king’s brother, was killed, a memorable fact is known to have happened, which I think ought not to be passed by in silence; for the relation of the same will conduce to the salvation of many. In that battle, one Imma, a youth belonging to the king, was left as dead, and having lain so all that day and the next night among the dead bodies, at length he came to himself, and sitting, bound up his wounds in the best way he could. Then having rested awhile, he stood up, and began to go off to seek some friends that might take care of him; but in so doing he was discovered and taken by some of the enemy’s army, and carried before their lord, who was an earl belonging to King Ethelred. Being asked by him who he was, and fearing to own himself a soldier, he answered, “He was a peasant, poor and married, and that he came to the army with others to bring provisions to the soldiers.” The earl entertained him, and ordered his wounds to be dressed; and when he began to recover, to prevent his escaping, he ordered him to be bound; but that could not be performed, for as soon as they that bound him were gone, his bonds were all loosened.
He had a brother called Tunna, who was a priest and abbot of a monastery in the city, which from him is still called Tunnacester. Hearing that his brother had been killed in the fight, he went to see whether he could find his body; and finding another very like him in all respects, concluding it to be his, he carried the same to his monastery, and buried it honourably, and took care often to say masses for the absolution of his soul; the celebration whereof occasioned what I have said, that none could bind him but he was presently loosed again. In the meantime, the earl that kept him was amazed, and began to inquire why he could not be bound; whether he had any spells about him, as are spoken of in fabulous stories. He answered, “He knew nothing of those contrivances; but I have,” said he, “a brother who is a priest in my country, and I know that he, supposing me to be killed, causes masses to be said for me; and if I were now in the other life, my soul there, through his intercession, would be delivered from pain.”
Having continued with the earl some time, those who attentively observed him, by his countenance, mien, and discourse, took notice, that he was not of the meaner sort, as he had said, but of some quality. The earl then privately sending for him, pressed to know who he was, promising to do him no harm, if he would ingenuously confess his quality. Which when he had done, declaring that he had been the king’s servant, the earl answered, “I perceived by your answers that you were no peasant. And now you deserve to die, because all my brothers and relations were killed in that fight; yet I will not put you to death, because it will be a breach of my promise.”
As soon, therefore, as he was recovered, he sold him at London, to a Freson, but he could not be bound by him the whole way as he was led along; but though his enemies put several sorts of