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Jam nec vetustis sculpta scientiis
Funditus occubuere saxa.
CASIMIRI LYRICORUM, Lib. 4.
IN ingenuous minds, so strong is the impression produced by the recollection of departed worth and excellence, that, by an easy association of ideas, they respect and venerate the very places where these memorable characters were born, where they lived, or where they gave particular proofs of talent or heroic virtue. No one can read the beginning of the third book de Oratore, without experiencing the tender enthusiasm which prompted Cicero to go and gaze at the spot where stood the immortal patriot and orator, Lucius Crassus, when he delivered his last and energetic oration-“ Post Crassi interitum veniebamus in Curiam, ut vestigium illud ipsum, in quo ille postremum institisset, contueremur. O fallacem hominum spem fragilemque fortunam!!!" I trust, therefore, that in a Christian country it will not be considered less laudable and innocent, if I invite the reader to shed the tear of sympathy over departed greatness, and to walk over the mouldering ruins of those venerable edifices, once the seats of literature and religious virtue, the repositories of art, the monuments of the piety and skill of our Catholic forefathers, the sanctuaries of hospitality, and the
pride and ornament of this beautiful county. I trust that my researches will be useful; and if they shall excite others to enter into my labors, and to perfect these Historical Collections, I shall think myself abundantly rewarded.
To the registers of the see of Exeter I am greatly indebted for the materials of this work. Those official records are of indisputable authority; and no one should undertake to write the ecclesiastical, or even the civil history of Devonshire or Cornwall, without having studied them thoroughly. To John JONES, Esq. of Franklyn, I am proud to acknowledge my obligations for his valuable assistance; and the Right Honorable ord CLIFFORD is entitled to my warmest thanks, for his constant encouragement, and for the unreserved use of the library at Ugbrooke.
I shall proceed to throw together some few particulars respecting the authority of the Bishop of Exeter, over the Religious within his diocese, and respecting the state of monastic learning, and the manner of electing the Abbots and Superiors. Of the architecture of the religious houses I forbear to say any thing, as the remains are so trifting. It is singular, that not one of the numerous 6• conventual churches" in Devon is now standing.
In the first place, the permission of the Diocesan was necessary, previous to the foundation of any monastic establishment. This is clear, from fol. 96—97 of Bishop Bronescombe's Register* concerning Buckland Abbey. The regular Clergy, generally speaking, (Friars Minors not even excepted) depended on the Diocesan for faculties to absolve penitents. The Bishops had also the power of visiting the religious houses, and they appear to have considered this as a duty of primary importance; in fact, the attention which they paid to this point, contributed, above all others, to support regular discipline, and to prevent licentiousness. And from a careful inspection of the registers, I think myself justified in asserting, that the abbey of Ford, and
* These registers begin with the death of Bishop Blondy, December 26, 1257. Bishop Bytton's, from the year 1292 to 1306, is unfortunately lost ; but the acts of the ther Bishops, until the change of religion, are for the most part in the bighest state of preservation.