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 Grand. mont, 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 å 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,
Be capable of blessing, and meet heaven
At last, though erring nature guide sometime

Out of the nearest way ?”. 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,

6 Come, make your way to heaven, and bid the world,

With all the villainies that stick upon it,

Farewell ! you're for another life.” 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 substitute 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

Omnibus est facies rebus. Circumspice terras *."

* Baptist. Mant. de Sacris Dieb. Jar.

The cloister and the world need not then assume a hostile attitude, and set each other at defiance. As an eminent writer says,

“ It is a characteristic trait of a great mind that it recognizes humanity in all its forms and conditions.” The monk does not look society in the face and say, “Thou art heartless,” he says rather, with a German author, that “ Life in every shape should be precious to us, for the same reason that the Turks carefully collect every scrap of paper that comes in their way because the name of God may be written upon it.” Men are, in some respect, moulded by circumstances; and the results are often what we should think unnatural, and even deplorable. It is in vain to deny it. We cannot have all things just as we might wish at any particular period of our life. True, courage is not given us only for the wars, but to resist the batteries of fortune. Yet after reason and spirit have all been called up to our aid, there are misfortunes of a kind so intense as to disqualify the most manly and vigorous minds afterwards for common life. Say what men like, there is a pang, for instance, in balked affection, for which, as the author of Henrietta Temple says, no wealth, power, or place, watchful indulgence, or sedulous kindness can compensate. Ah! the heart, the heart !” There many, besides, who want what even their domestic home refuses them, the repose of the nervous system. Take away the silent, tranquil asylums, compatible, mind, with a new and most useful activity, that faith had prepared for such persons, and you

behold verified the poet's lines : “ If such may be the ills which men assail, What marvel if at last the mightiest fail ? Breasts to whom all the strength of feeling given Bear hearts electric-charged with fire from heaven, Black with the rude collision, inly torn, By clouds surrounded, and on whirlwinds borne, Driven o'er the low'ring atmosphere that nurst Thoughts which have turn'd to thunder-scorch-and burst.” Moreover, the constitutions of men from their birth are different, and there are various delights to suit them. Because one admires, loves, and respects these institutions provided for some, it does not follow that one thinks them to be designed for

“Man and woman and their social life-poverty, labour, love, fear, fortune,” are things, perhaps, for you to associate with. Your province lies inclosed in human life, in which, too, the heart and soul of beauty may be woven.

This is the material for you to work upon.

“ You are to know its secrets of tenderness, of terror, of will. You have to work with men in houses and in streets. Your needs, appetites, talents, affections, accomplishments qualify you for such a sphere. You are to


know in your own beating bosom the sweet and smart of human life. Out of love and fear; out of earnings, and borrowings, and lendings, and losses ; out of pain and anxiety; out of wooing and worshipping ; out of travelling, and watching, and caring; out of humiliations and suffering must come your tuition in the serene and beautiful laws of nature and of grace.” There should be no antagonism, however, between you and the monk; that which is good for him cannot hurt you. There is but a division of labour. The latter professes no vaunting, overpowering, excluding sanctity, which makes no allowance for your circumstances, your character; but he welcomes and blesses all sweet natural goodness—the goodness of mothers and fathers, sisters and brothers, friends, ay, and lovers too. Is it too much to ask in return that you should tolerate his retreat, his seclusion, or his active labours to compose some masterly or beautiful work of science or of art, to console the poor, to teach the ignorant, to redeem the captive? There was a place, according to Strabo, near Oropus and the temple of Amphiarcus, which contained the sepulchre of Narcissus the Eretrian, which was called Of the Silent-Elynloữ, for the reason that it was the custom to pass it by in silence, ÉTTELỒI) oryñoTapiovtes*. Is it demanding too great a sacrifice of personal feeling to desire that you should pass the monastery in silence, and leave the monk or the nun to pursue their unobtrusive ministry? They are good and temperate. You may live to have need of such a virtue.

Some persons naturally like retreat. “ All knight-errant as I am,” says a celebrated traveller, “I have now the sedentary tastes of a monk. I have not put my foot out of this inclosure three times since I entered it. My pines and my firs keeping their promise, the Vallée-aux-Loups will become a true Chartreuse.” Men of a different character would be wretched in such seclusion ; and religion, we are assured, never consists in making persons wretched.

Though Oberon would perforce have the child

Knight of his train, to trace the forests wild.” What suits one, therefore, may not agree with the natural capacity of another. In the old play, when Floriana says,

“ Madam, I have vow'd my life to a cloister ;" the queen of Arragon replies,

“ Alas! poor soul ! inclosure and coarse diet,

Much discipline and early prayer, will ill
Agree with thy complexion. There's Cleantha !
She hath a heart so wean'd from vanity,
To her a nunnery would be a palace.”

* Lib. ix.

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