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Hortus Dei, Pura vallis, Bona cella; in Franconia, Felix aula, Vallis S. Crucis; in Bavaria, Felix vallis; in Westphalia, Porta coli, Pax Dei, Mons cœli, Fons salutis, Hortus B. Mariæ, Mons amoris; in Zeeland, Vitæ schola; in Jutland, Tuta vallis, Insula Dei, Locus Dei; in Castille, Rivus siccus, Vallis paradisi, Fons calidus; in Catalonia, Vallis B. Mariæ, Vallis sancta; in Valentia, Mons sanctus; in the diocese of Toul, Bellus pratum; in Hesse, S. Maria, De frigido monte; in Ireland, Mellifons; in France, Mons petrosus, Vallis benedicta, Bella aqua; in Provence, Vallis sancta, Scala Dei; in France, Pratum benedictum, Niger lacus; in Champagne and Picardy, Septem fontes, Tres fontes, Fons Joannis, Altus fons, Bonus fons; in Flanders, Rosendale, Vallis rosarum, Beau pré*." In Aquitaine, a monastery of the Order of Grandmont was called the lover's rock, Roquemadour. In fact the origin of monasteries, as we before observed, was often poetical; it was a dream, an heroic action, an irreparable grief, or even the hearing sweet distant music. Near Assenbroech, about a mile from Bruges, there was a spot where certain harmonious sounds were said to be often heard, so that many persons declared they could never express the delightful impression produced by them in their hearts. They declared this to the magistrates of Bruges. It was at all events decided that the spot should be chosen to honour God. Hence some nuns resolved to take up their abode there; and this was the origin of the Dominican convent of the vale of angels †. An Italian poet addressed these lines to Honoratus Fascitellus, a monk of Mount Cassino, who was himself a poet :

"Fascitelle, quid otio in beato :
Dictavit tibi rosidis sub antris
Musa candida? Nil soles profecto
Unquam scribere laurea corona
Non dignum ipse miser tumultuosa
Urbe detineor, tibi benignus
Dedit Juppiter in remoto agello
Latentem placida frui quiete,
Inter Socraticos libros +."

The learned Joannes Lancisius, describing the same monastery in a letter to a friend, says, "since we should always prefer eternal and immortal to perishable or mortal things, you will not be surprised if, from this top of Cassino, writing to you, I should keep silence as to difficulties of the journey and every thing else but what I have found here. Our expectations were

Aubertus Miræus, Chron. Cister.

+ De Jonghe, Belgium Dominicanum, 194.
Hist. Abb. Cassinens. xi. 685.

great from the fame of the place; but all was greater than we could have supposed, whether in regard to the buildings, or the exercises of piety, or the benignity of our reception. Moreover we experience here how far more sweet are the fruits of solitude than the vain pleasures of the world; therefore I cannot but envy the happiness of these monks of Cassino. Truly on this mountain so near to heaven one seems to breathe a certain divine air *.”

The poet Marlow, in his tragedy of Edward II., ascribes the same impressions to that king on taking leave of an abbot, for he represents him saying to his host,

66 Father, this life contemplative is heaven.
Oh, that I might this life in quiet lead!
But we,
alas! are chas'd."

In the benediction of an abbess the pontiff invokes God, who didst make to come joyfully to the sea shore-" cum tympanis et choris "-Maria, the sister of Moses, passing with the other women amidst the waters t. It is not to weeping and mourning, to gloom and desolation, but it is thus to dancing joy that such privileged souls are supposed to hasten.

One cannot wonder, therefore, that persons who have found this peculiar state of life a realization of all their wishes, as far as they were limited to time, should advise those whom they believed called to it to embrace it with them. Writing to Radulphus, archbishop of Rheims, describing his monastery in Calabria, St. Bruno accordingly says to him; "Here strenuous men can retire into themselves when they please and dwell with themselves, cultivate the germs of virtues, and happily enjoy the fruits of Paradise. Here is acquired that eye by whose serene look the spouse is wounded, by whose clear pure love our God is seen. Here is laborious leisure and repose in quiet action. Here, for the toil of the contest, God repays to his combatants the desired recompense, namely, peace which the world knows not, and joy in the Holy Ghost. This is that beautiful Rachel more loved by Jacob, though less fruitful in sons than Lia; for fewer are the sons of contemplation than of action. This is that best part which Mary chose, and which is never to be taken away. How I wish, beloved brother, that thou wouldest feel this love! O what is more perverse, what is so repugnant to reason and justice, and to nature itself, than to love the creature more than the Creator? What thinkest thou to do, beloved? Is it not right to yield to the Divine counsels, to yield to truth which cannot deceive? For

*Hist. Abb. Cassinens. xiii. 825.
De Bened. Abbatissæ.

He says, 'Venite ad me omnes qui laboratis et onerati estis, et ego reficiam vos.' Is it not pernicious and useless to extend concupiscence with solicitudes and anxieties, with fears and griefs, to be incessantly afflicted? But what is a greater burden than that which depresses the mind from the citadel of its dignity into the depth which is all injustice? Fly, then, my brother, fly all these troubles and miseries, and transfer thyself from the tempest of this world into the safe and quiet station of the port. Moreover, let thy love remember that when I, and thou, and Fulcius were one day together in a little garden adjacent to the house of Ada, where thou wert then lodging, we spoke of the false pleasures and riches of this perishable world and of the eternal joys of glory, how fervently with Divine love we promised and vowed to the Holy Ghost to leave shortly the fugitive things of this world and to lay hold on eternal, and put on the monastic habit. What remains of thy promise, dearly beloved? Let nothing longer detain thee from the path of justice. And what is so just, so useful, what so inherent in human nature itself, and so agreeable to it, as to love good? And what is so good as God? I wish thou mayest not despise a friend advising thee. I wish thou mayest deliver me from the solicitude which I feel on thy account, and that we may meet to live thenceforth in union blessed. I pray thee to send me the life of St. Remy, for it is not to be found in these parts. Farewell *."

The monastic poet who sings of his order, expresses his own attachment to that life in the lines which many who experienced it have loved to repeat

66

Antiqui repetamus iter, repetamus amorem
Propositi: cellas humiles, sylvasque quietas,
Atque intermissæ solatia dulcia vitæ f."

The appeal to nature itself by St. Bruno is, no doubt, remarkable; but, the fact is, that we have the testimony even of the ancient philosophers, statesmen, and poets in favour of a kind of life which in many points resembles the monastic state, which cannot be absolutely and universally condemned without contradicting the experience and judgment of mankind in every age through which the world has hitherto passed; so that to the wise man of all former times the monk might say, in reference to the opinion now too often entertained respecting himself by the ignorant,

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* Epist. S. Brunonis.

+ Vincent. Carthus., de Origine S. Carthus. Ordinis.
Hor. i. 6.

Socrates, describing the men who would be the best guardians for his republic, says that none of them should personally possess any property, that their houses should be open to all comers, that they should dine together at a common table, that they should have no money, no costly furniture; that they must not even touch gold or silver, as the cause of corruption to men*. For such opinions no doubt he may be ridiculed; but it would be strange to mock or reproach him for admiring, as he unquestionably would have done, such an institution when appointed only as a safeguard for religion and the moral instruction of mankind. At all events, the advantage to be derived by the persons themselves who embrace such a discipline would assuredly have been admitted by all wise and virtuous men of the ancient world. Aavėávo Bioag was the Greek expression for the happiest life. "I enjoy this delicious retreat in obscurity," says one who sought to realize it. "I am sick of the city, yea, and to a surprising degree of all earthly things; therefore am I heret." Plato in his old age, when he was weary of writing and reading, retired to live and die near an oracle or hermitage, in which he was buried. How often does Cicero extol that life which "was most quiet in the contemplation and study of things, most like that of the gods, and therefore," as he adds, "most worthy of wise men!" "Ac veteres quidem philosophi," he says, "in beatorum insulis, fingunt qualis futura sit vita sapientium, quos cura omni liberatos, nullum necessarium vitæ cultum aut paratum requirentes, nihil aliud esse acturos putant, nisi ut omne tempus in quærendo ac discendo in naturæ cognitione consumant §." Again, in his immortal treatise De Officiis, he says: "Multi autem et sunt, et fuerunt, qui eam, quam dico, tranquillitatem expetentes, a negotiis publicis se removerunt, ad otiumque perfugerunt. In his et nobilissimi philosophi longeque principes, et quidam homines severi et graves, qui nec populi nec principum mores ferre potuerunt: vixeruntque non nulli in agris, delectati re sua familiari." How deeply he could himself feel the happiness of such a life may be gathered from his familiar correspondence. "Nothing," he says, writing to Atticus, "can be more delightful than this solitude. In the lonely island of Astura no human being disturbs me; and when early in the morning I hide myself in a thick wild forest, I do not leave it until the evening." Tacitus, too, might be added to the list of those who would have felt the charm of such retreat. "For the groves," he says, "and that secret depth of woods so please me, that I count

• De Repub. iii.

+Parthenius Giannettasius, Estates Surrentinæ, lib. i. 7.
§ Id. v. 19.

De Finibus, v. 4.

|| i. 20.

among the chief fruits of poetry that it is composed neither amidst noise nor with a client sitting before the door, nor amidst the tears of accused persons, but while the mind in pure and innocent places enjoys the sacred seats. Though the contests and perils of orators lead to the consulship, I prefer the secure and quiet retreat of Virgil, to whom was wanting neither the favour of Augustus nor the knowledge of the Roman people *" Pliny's testimony is still more remarkable. "Quam innocens," he exclaims, quam beata, immo vero et delicata esset vita, si nihil aliunde, quam supra terras, concupisceret ; breviterque, nisi quod secum est+!" Writing from Laurentinum to Minutius Fundanus, the philosophic lover of the Garda lake says: "Mecum tantum et cum libellis loquor. Rectam sinceramque vitam ! dulce otium honestumque!" So, too, the poet, speaking of the villa Tiburtina of Manlius Vopiscus, says:

66

"Ipsa manu tenera tectum scripsisse voluptas.
O longum memoranda dies! quæ mente reporto
Gaudia! quam lapsos per tot miracula visus !
Ingenium quam mite solo!

Hic æterna quies, nullis hic jura procellis
Hic premitur foecunda quies, virtusque serena
Fronte gravis, sanusque nitor, luxuque carentes
Delicia."

I am aware, indeed, that in the estimation of the most brilliant writer of the present day in England all this evidence will be without weight, as being that of men whose philosophy was worse than madness; but because these Gentiles erred in many things, it does not follow that they were mistaken in all, or that we must disclaim as a fundamental error all wisdom but what has for object the exact sciences and the development of human industry. At all events, whatever we may choose to think of Gentile philosophers, it seems difficult to understand how we can consider ourselves at liberty to appeal to our own fancies from the deliberate judgment of those illustrious sages who gave to Christendom institutions that spread virtue and happiness far and wide around them, and the tenor of whose whole philosophy required a life devoted to the service of mankind. It is a going back to barbarism, and not a progress towards social perfection, when men, growing insensible to the attractions of retreat and of active sanctity, decry the monastic as necessarily a wretched life, belonging to ignorant and less civilized ages.

Thus happy, then, in the estimation of those who embraced it, of those who witnessed its effects, and even of those philosophers who contemplated a certain ideal which in part resembled it, it seems to be the life of those persons who embrace † Plin. Nat. Hist. xxxiii. 2.

*De Oratoribus.

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