Since the publication of my King Alfred's Old English Version of St. Augustine's Soliloquies, which appeared in 1902, I have been at work on this translation. With the faith that the unique importance of the work justifies its being given this form for the benefit of the general reader, and with the encouragement from scholars that my rendering will be received in the kindly spirit which characterized the reception of my former edition, I now venture this publication.
For those who care to use the two editions together it will be seen (1) that the Alfredian additions to the Latin are set in italics; and (2) that the numbers at the top of each page refer to the page and line of the corresponding text of the Old English.
I must add that Professor Albert S. Cook has been my counsellor and critic throughout the work.
Henry Lee Hargrove.
July 6, 1904.
St. Augustine's Soliloquies
TURNED INTO MODERN ENGLISH
I then gathered for myself staves, and stud-shafts, and cross-beams, and helves for each of the tools that I could work with; and bow-timbers and bolt-timbers for every work that I could perform—as many as I could carry of the comeliest trees. Nor came I home with a burden, for it pleased me not to bring all the wood home, even if I could bear it. In each tree I saw something that I needed at home; therefore I exhort every one who is able, and has many wains, to direct his steps to the self-same wood where I cut the stud-shafts. Let him there obtain more for himself, and load his wains with fair twigs, so that he may wind many a neat wall, and erect many a rare house, and build a fair enclosure, and therein dwell in joy and comfort both winter and summer, in such manner as I have not yet done. But He who taught me, and to whom the wood was pleasing, hath power to make me dwell more comfortably both in this transitory cottage by the road while I am on this world-pilgrimage, and also in the everlasting home which He hath promised us through Saint Augustine and Saint Gregory and Saint Jerome, and through many other holy Fathers; as I believe also for the merits of all those He will both make this way more convenient than it hitherto was, and especially will enlighten the eyes of my mind so that I may search out the right way to the eternal home, and to everlasting glory, and to eternal rest, which is promised us through those holy Fathers. So may it be.
It is no wonder that one should labor in timber-work, both in the gathering and also in the building; but every man desireth that, after he hath built a cottage on his lord's lease and by his help, he may sometimes rest himself therein, and go hunting, fowling, and fishing; and use it in every manner according to the lease, both on sea and land, until such time as he shall gain the fee simple of the eternal heritage through his lord's mercy. So may the rich Giver do, who ruleth both these temporary cottages and the homes everlasting. May He, who created both and ruleth both, grant me to be fit for each—both here to be useful and thither to attain.
Augustine, bishop of Carthage, made two books about his own mind. These books are called Soliloquies, that is, concerning the meditation and doubts of his mind—how his Reason answered his mind when the mind doubted about anything, or wished to know anything that it could not before clearly understand.