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things, we who suffer generally the fragility of nature, before a sudden transposition takes place, that we should watch for the salvation of our souls, that we may not be found unprepared, or depart from the world without any respect; but that while we have liberty of action we may transfer things from being perishable substances into eternal tabernacles, so as to obtain perpetual life and a place amidst the desirable assembly of the just. Therefore, moved by these considerations *," &c. A charter of an English king is as follows: "Nihil intulimus, ut Apostolicum testatur oraculum in hunc mundum, nec auferre quicquid possumus; idcirco terrenis ac caducis æterna et mansura mercanda sunt.' Therefore I, Ethelred, king of the Mercians, for the remedy of my soul, give," &c. A charter of King Ceadwall begins thus: Omnia quæ videntur temporalia sunt, et quæ non videntur eterna sunt. Idcirco visibilibus invisibilia, et caducis cœlestia præferenda sunt.' Therefore I, Ceadwall, have resolved to confer certain emoluments on this monastery +." "This year, 1258," says Mathieu Paris, "the Lord John Mansel, provost of Beverley, clerk and special counsellor of the king, a man prudent, circumspect, and rich, considering that the favour of kings is not hereditary, and that the prosperity of this world does not always last, founded near Romney, two miles from the sea, a house of regular canons, and enriched it, knowing that we only pass through temporal goods, and that by these means we may avoid losing eternal goods." The donation of Count Richard Fundanus in 1176, to the convent of St. Magnus, begins thus with these words: " Since we shall all stand before the tribunal of Christ to receive according as every one has done in the body, whether good or evil, we ought to expect the day of final harvest, and to sow those things on earth by which we may gather the fruit of eternal beatitude in heaven. Therefore we, Ricardus," &c. In fine, we have remarked that monasteries were founded through the desire and the love of heaven. Such is the motive of the Emperor St. Henry in granting a charter to Mount Cassino, which begins with these words: "It behoves the imperial majesty to hear the petitions of the servants of God, and willingly to grant what they justly seek, through love of the saints, in whose veneration the places are dedicated ; and in proportion as each one endeavours to do this, so much mercy will he obtain, passing with more facility through present things, and more securely obtaining the eternal happiness §.” The charter of Count Roland of Lucca to Mount Cassino contains these words: "This we have learned from the authority of
* Ap. Yepes, Chron. Gen. Ord. S. Ben. ii. 489. † Mon. Vit. S. Aldhelmi.
§ Id. i. 120.
Hist. Cass. vi. 260.
the divine law, that I ought in such manner to enjoy this world and the things which are frail and transitory, that we may pass from this wicked world to that glorious and celestial Jerusalem, in the building of which living and perfect stones are bound together by the bonds of the utmost love; for so, after the dissolution of this flesh, we trust we may have felicity in heaven, and gloriously be united with the society of the saints, if, mindful of the evangelical precepts, we transfer the things of this world thither, where neither moth nor rust will corrupt them, but where they will be preserved for ever in the palace of the supreme King, so that our riches will become of a great and inestimable value, when for temporal we shall gain eternal, for earthly celestial, for mean sublimest things from God who is the giver of all good. Therefore, with a view to the attainment of that good which will remain with us for ever, I, Roland, by this charter, offer to God and to the church *," &c.
The charter of Boamund expresses the same motive; for these are its words: "If we extend care and solicitude and the benefits of my service to holy and venerable places, to their rulers and servants, I hope that I shall obtain the joys of eternal retribution from God the giver of all good,-'qui filium suum carnem sumere, et patibulum crucis subire mortemque pro nobis gustare fecit.' Therefore, by these presents I confirm to the monastery of St. Benedict," &c. † St. Leopold, the son of Leopold the Fair, marquis of Austria, and of Itha, daughter of the Emperor Henry III., founding, as we have seen, Cloister Neuburg, expresses the same motive when giving to it a great part of his patrimony. His charter commences thus: "In the name of the holy and undivided Trinity, Leopold, Oriental marquis, founder of this church: since, hindered by secular affairs, we are unable to please God to the utmost by ourselves, we wish to love, to congregate, to cherish, and in every manner to provide for the wants of those who enjoy peace exempt from worldly studies; for, by so doing, not only may we hope for safety in the present life, for peaceable times and all prosperity, but also that we shall not for ever be deprived of the good things which are reserved in heaven. Therefore, I Leopold, with my most noble wife Agnes, with the unanimous consent of all my sons and daughters, and without any contradiction from any mortal whomsoever, with a Davidic devotion and simplicity of heart, joyfully offer all these things to God and to the church of Neuburg," &c. ‡ In fine without even such evidence, it clearly is an historical fact, that monasteries in general were built by
* Hist. Abb. Cassinens. i. 195.
+ Id. i. 205.
the men who were most eminent in their generation for intelligence and virtue. It is not difficult, of course, to point out some examples that seem to argue the contrary; but undoubtedly these were only exceptions, and their very notoriety rather confirms the observation. It was the best, the most popular, the most wise, and the most heroic men who built them. How interesting is it, for instance, to observe Joinville after his return from the crusade, wholly given to piety, founding the Cistercian abbey of Escuray, the Præmonstratensian abbey of Janvillers, the house of God at Mathon of the order of Grandmont, and ordering himself to be buried in the monastery of Clairvaux, where accordingly, in the year 1200, he was entombed *.
Having thus seen, then, what were generally the motives of founders and benefactors, we may follow the index supplied by them with confidence; for the principle of institutions which were produced by such exalted views, such admirable affections, and by such purely virtuous motives, must assuredly have been in accordance with truth. Therefore the road of retreat, passing by monasteries, though as yet we have only followed it but for a short distance, may be seen already to lead towards a recognition of the divine and central character of the ancient religion of Christendom.
Having thus penetrated more into the interior of the tract through which this road leads, it is time for us to remark the issue to the centre presented by a consideration of the characters of monastic life in general, more especially as carried on within its enclosures, and as yet without any reference to the external action which it exercises on others who are without its sphere.
One of the greatest errors of narrow-minded persons seems to be, the opinion that a thing which does not suit their own particular circumstances, and their own individual character, must necessarily be unsuitable to all others. Popular writers, while this page is being written, say, "It is a very common mistake to imagine that others must feel upon a favourite subject as we do ourselves; but it is a very fatal one." "Good and evil, in truth," as Jeffrey says, change natures with a change of circumstances; and we may be lamenting as the most intolerable of calamities what was never felt as an infliction by those on whom it fell." Those who are formed for a totally different sphere and for another kind of activity, without the desires that some other minds experience, and that different circumstances demand, feel conscious that they would
* Levesque, Annales Grandimontis, 445.
be miserable and out of their element in a state of life like this, and therefore, instead of asking humbly, with Angellina,—
"May we not,
Without so strict forsaking of the world,
which question would assuredly receive an answer that would tranquillize and satisfy them as to their own obligation, they angrily rush to the conclusion that life in a monastery would prove equally wretched and injurious to every one else-" Thus worldlings ground what they have dreamed upon," all this being but the blindness of their fancy. Christian antiquity was comparatively free from this error, and thereby proved its discernment; for, as a living author says, "The wise man shows his wisdom in separation, in gradation; and his scale of characters and of merits is as wide as nature. The foolish have no range in their scale, but suppose every man is as every other man." When, flying to another mode of expressing this dislike, you say monks and nuns are no part of Christianity, you might as reasonably say, that the shopmen of Holborn or the Strand, champions of the Thames or amateur mudlarks, footmen or the elegant and languid forms that glide through the park in coaches, all that pertains to the difference of high, and middle, and low life are no part of it. But you cannot get rid of the want or propensity which leads different persons to embrace some one or other of these conditions. If not the sources, they are the natural development of central principles; if all are not the Corinthian capitals of society, they all belong in some degree or other to its unavoidable wants, or use, or ornament. Catholicism seems to secure practically the great benefit alluded to by the poet in his line
"Naturæ sequitur semina quisque suæ.' We must not suffer the eloquent rhetoric of some saints giving advice to particular persons whose individual wants were known to them, addressing them in words like those of Jasper to Luce,
"Come, make your way to heaven, and bid the world,
I say, we must not suffer these admonitions to make us forget the calm and beautiful appreciation of human life in general, which has ever been found taken within the Church; for that would be to mistake a part for the whole, and to adopt the silliest ground of prejudice or of egotism. The sages of the cloister, whatever fell under their own eyes, would never sub
stitute a part for the whole, or judge of things by halves. They never thought that the whole world ought to be a monastery. If you suppose so, you are rude, and by your narrow thoughts proportion theirs. Hamlet, in a fit of sublime indignation at the knavery of the world, would send Ophelia to a nunnery; but the religious man, in giving counsel, is not led by passion or misanthropy; nor is he so prompt to send young maidens thither. It was in the Dominican convent of Rome that a certain number of girls every year received dowers to enable them to marry. Catholicism would have each person do that which he can do best, which he will find out if left to himself. There is nothing in the central principles from which such institutions emanate to stop the current of human life around them, to strip their neighbourhood, if they are in towns, of shopboys or bankers' clerks, of milliners and their patronesses, and of marriageable maidens of a high degree, all of whom may be surrounded with an atmosphere of humour, gaiety, spirit, enterprise, or even of romance that London itself might envy. The tide would flow under the arches of Waterloo-bridge, ay, and with the exception of what it derives from misery and despair, the other stream would pass above them all the same, though the Black Friars were still living in a street near it. The individual who chooses for himself a life in monastic retreat, who would feel miserable behind a counter or on a promenade, is not always thinking of himself and trying to show that he is the wisest, happiest, and most virtuous person in the world; for he knows that in life "you will find good and evil, folly and discretion more mingled, and the shades of character running more into each other than they do in the ethical charts," and that the palm of goodness may often be reserved for some obscure, self-devoted, generous, disinterested creature, working with a pen or a needle, along with others, or left alone in some garret in one of the courts or alleys near his own privileged enclosure. Catholicism, we are told, so far from wishing to impose its monastic life on all persons, absolutely condemns, as savouring of heresy, the absurd zeal of those fanatics who, from time to time, make their appearance, seeking to level distinctions, and transfer to the common society of mankind the rules and manners of the cloister. But then, on the other hand, it understands the variety of human character and of human wants, and with a wise and truly universal solicitude it provides, by means of different institutions, and by sanctioning different modes of life, equally for all.
"Una Dei domus est mundus; sed non tamen una
Baptist. Mant. de Sacris Dieb. Jar.