Reply of the Abbot Bernard to Hildebert, Archbishop of Tours.
He repays his praises with praises.
A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth good things. Your letter so redounded to your honour, as well as to mine, that I gladly welcomed it, Most Reverend Sir, as giving me an occasion of addressing to you the praises of which you are so well worthy, and as affording me just satisfaction that you have done me so much honour as that your Highness should deign to stoop to me, and to show so much esteem for my humble person. Indeed, for one in high place not to be studious of high things, but to condescend to those of low estate, is a thing than which there is nothing more pleasing to God or more rare among men. Who is the wise man, except he who listens to the counsel of Wisdom, which says: The greater thou art, the more humble thyself (Ecclus. iii.18) before all. This humility you have shown towards me, the greater towards the less, an elder to a younger. I, too, could extol your proved wisdom in due praises, perhaps more just than those of which your wisdom deemed me worthy. It is of great importance in order to gain assured knowledge of things, to rely on exact acquaintance with facts, rather than on the uncertain testimony of public rumour; and then what we have proved for certain we may proclaim without hesitation. What you were pleased to write to me about myself, it is for you to ascertain. I find an undoubted proof of your own merit in your letter, though it be so full of my praises. For though another, perhaps, might be pleased with the marks of learning therein, with its sweet and graceful language, its clear style, its easy and commendable art, I place before all this the wonderful humility, whereby your Greatness has cared to approach one so humble as I, to overwhelm me with praises, and to seek for my friendship. As for what refers to me in your letter I read it not as describing what I am, but what I would wish to be, and what I am ashamed of not being. Yet whatever I am, I am yours; and if, by the grace of God, I ever become anything better, be sure, Most Reverend and dear Father, that I shall still remain yours.