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LETTER VIII (circa A.D. 1130)

To Gilbert, Bishop of London, Universal Doctor

The report of your conduct has spread far and wide, and has given to those whom it has reached an odour of great sweetness. The love of riches is extinct; what sweetness results! charity reigns; what a delight to all! All recognise you for a truly wise man, who has trodden under foot the great enemy with true wisdom; and this is most worthy of your name and of your priesthood. It was fitting that your special philosophy should shine forth by such a proof, and that you should crown all your distinguished learning by such a completion. That is the true and unquestionable wisdom which contemns filthy lucre and judges it a thing unworthy [that philosophy should] dwell under the same roof as the service of idols. That the Magister Gilbert should become a bishop was not a great thing; but that a Bishop of London should embrace a life of poverty, that is, indeed, grand. For the greatness of the dignity could not add glory to your name; but the humility of poverty has highly exalted it. To bear poverty with an equal mind, that is the virtue of patience; to seek it of one’s own accord is the height of wisdom. He is praised and regarded as admirable who does not go out of his way after 43money; and shall he who renounces it have no higher praise? Unless that clear reason sees nothing to be wondered at in the fact that a wise man acts wisely; and he is wise who having acquired all the science of the learned of this world, and having great enjoyment in acquiring them, has studied all the Scriptures so as to make their meaning new again. What then? You have dispersed, you have given to the poor, but money. But what is money to that righteousness which you have gained for it? His righteousness, it is said, endureth for ever (Ps. cxii. 9). Is it so with money? Then it is a desirable and honourable exchange to give that which passes away for that which endures. May it be granted to you always so to purchase, O, admirable and praiseworthy Magister! It remains that your noble beginning should attain an ending worthy of it; and the tail of the victim be joined to the head. I have gladly received your benediction, which the perfectness of your virtue renders the more precious to me. The bearer of this letter, though exceedingly respectable for his own sake, I desire to commend for my sake also, to your Greatness. He is exceedingly dear to me for his goodness and piety.

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