Sir Robert Cotton, who seems to have been on terms of intimacy
with Sir Edward, probably took this opportunity, of his friend
being in authority there, to apply to him for contributions to his
matchless collection then in course of formation.
In the Cottonian Manuscripts (Julius C. iii. p. 191)
occurs the following letter from Sir Edward Bering to Sir Robert,
announcing, his discovery, among the records of Dover Castle, of
an original copy of Magna Charta,1 and indicating that
there had been a previous correspondence between them on the
subject of the charters then in the Castle.
" Sir,—I received your very wellcome
lettre, whereby I find you abundant in courtesyes of all natures.
I am a greate debtor to you, and those obligacions likely still to
be multiplyed; as I confesse so much to you, so I hope to
witness itt to posterity.
" I have sent up two of your books, which
have much pleasured me. I have heere ye charter of K. John, datd
att Running Meade; by ye first safe and sure messenger it
is yours. So are the Saxon Charters, as fast as I can coppy them;
but, in the meane time, I will close King John in a boxe, and
send him. I shall much long to see you at this place, where you
shall comand the heart of
"Your affectionate freind and servant,
"Dover Castle, May 20,1630."
At this period, then, he was evidently acquainted
with Anglo-Saxon, and though a student of manuscripts, not yet a
collector. No antiquary would have so freely transferred to a
brother collector such a precious document as an original of Magna
Unfortunately the invaluable record thus presented by
Dering is no longer in Cotton's Collection. When, and how, and
whither it was removed, it is impossible now to conjecture; it
certainly was not among the manuscripts destroyed by the fire, for
long before that
1 Or rather the
"Articles;" vide note, p. 63.