tions, as in the recent instance of Gregory XVI.

He was remonstrated with for allowing his sickness to be published, by seeking too soon the rites of the Church. “ But, holy father," said his valet, “ they will say that you are very ill.” “ And so I am very ill,” replied the pope. But the whole city will be alarmed.” “What of that? 'I wish to die as a monk, and not as sovereign.” In the Roman catalogue, 2500 martyrs from the order of St. Augustin are commemorated. In England that one family gave to the Church 120 martyrs. Of the English Franciscans alone, or bred amongst them, there have been one pope, two or more cardinals, two patriarchs, and many apostolic legates. One English bishop and two or three abbots resigned tbeir mitres, four or five English lords their coronets, to become Franciscans. Two lords chief justices of England entered the order. Ninety English friars belonging to it were remarkable for their holiness. One hundred and fifty were put to death for religion. It gave forty-four archbishops and bishops, 140 doctors, 190 celebrated scholastic professors, five chancellors of Oxford or Cambridge, one lord lieutenant of Ireland, and 114 eminent authors *. But let us reflect for a moment on what great men, in the common acceptation of the word, the monasteries produced. “ This year, 1248,". says Mathew Paris, “ died two brethren of the order of Minors, who had not, as is believed, superiors or even equals among their contemporaries in theology and other sciences, namely, Friar Roger Bacon and Friar Richard of Fishakele, who had both professed many years, and who had both preached gloriously to the people the word of God.” Come down to later times and witness that John Feckenam, abbot of Westminster, in the time of Philip and Mary. Yepes

speaks of his piety, his charity, his strict observance, his mild affability to high and low, his sweet humanity to all men, his vast learning, his admirable eloquence, his incredible zeal for the Catholic religion, his noble sermons in resisting the change under Elizabeth, his intrepid speech in parliament on the duty of retaining the ancient religion of the fathers and of rejecting novelties, his constancy in prison, in the Marshalsea, in the castle of Wisbeach, in which last gaol he lay twenty-six years, employing his time in assisting his fellow-martyrs at their death, and in composing books to defend religion, though all that remains of his writing is his funeral sermon for Queen Mary, in which, with a prophetic spirit, he took for his text the words, “ Laudavi magis mortuos quam viventes t.”

But in order to behold one of these great men standing as it

• Collectanea Anglo-Minoritica.
+ Ant. de Yepes, Chron. Gen, i. 476.

were before us, let us view a portrait by the hand of a contemporary, who represents in a quaint but graphic style Sampson, abbot of St. Edmundsbury. - This year,” he says, “ 1187, on hearing the news of the cross being captive, and the loss of Jerusalem, the abbot began to use under garments of horsehair, and to abstain from flesh meats ; nevertheless he desired that meats should be placed before him while at table, for the increase of the alms-dish. Sweet milk, honey, and such like sweet things he ate with greater appetite than other food. He abhorred liars, drunkards, and talkative folks ; for virtue ever is consistent with itself and rejects contraries. He also much condemned persons given to murmur at their meat or drink, and particularly monks who were dissatisfied therewith, himself adhering to the uniform course he had practised when a monk : he had likewise this virtue in himself, that he never changed the mess you set before him. Once when I, then a novice, happened to serve in the refectory, it came into my head to ascertain if this were true, and I thought I would place before him a mess which would have displeased any other but him, being served in a very black and broken dish. But when he had looked at it, he was as one that saw it not ; some delay taking place, I felt sorry that I had so done, and so snatching away the dish I changed the mess and the dish for a better, and brought it him ; but this substitution he took in ill part, and was angry with me for it. An eloquent man was he, both in French and Latin, but intent more on the substance and method of what was to be said than on the style of words. He could read English manuscript very critically, and was wont to preach to the people in English, as well as in the dialect of Norfolk, where he was born and bred; wherefore he caused a pulpit to be set up in the church for the ease of the hearers, and for the ornament of the church. The abbot also seemed to prefer an active life to one of contemplation, and rather commended good officials than good monks; and very seldom approved of any one on account of his literary acquirements, unless he also possessed sufficient knowledge of secular matters; and whenever he chanced to hear that any prelate had resigned his pastoral care and become an anchorite, he did not praise him for it. He never applauded men of too complying a disposition, saying, · He who endeavours to please all, ought to please none.' My son,' he used to say, “it is long since I became acquainted with flatterers, and therefore I cannot but hear them. There are many things to be passed over and taken no notice of, if the peace of the convent is to be preserved. I will hear what they have to say, but they shall not deceive me if I can help it, as they did my predecessor, who trusted so unadvisedly to their counsel, that for a long time before his death he had nothing for the ordinary arrival of guests. Every week, indeed, did he audit the expenses of the house, not by deputy, but in his own person, which thing his predecessor had never been wont to do. For the first seven years he had not but four courses in his house, afterwards only three, except presents and game from his parks, or fishes from his ponds. And if at any time he retained any one in his house at the request of any great man, or any particular friend, or messengers, or minstrels, or any person of that description, by taking the opportunity of going beyond sea, or travelling afar off, he prudently disencumbered himself of such hangers-on. But the monks with whom the abbot had been most intimate, and liked best before he became abbot, he seldom promoted to offices merely for old acquaintance sake, unless they were fit persons; wherefore certain of us who had been favourable to his election as abbot said, that he cared less for those who had liked him before he became abbot than was proper, and particularly that those were most favoured by him who both openly and in secret scandalized him, nay, had even publicly called him, in the hearing of many, a passionate, unsocial man, a proud fellow, and Norfolk barrator.' But on the other hand, as after he had taken upon himself the abbacy he exhibited no indiscreet partiality for his old friends, so he refrained from showing any thing like hatred or dislike to many others ; according to their deserts, returning frequently good for evil, and doing good to them that persecuted him. He had this way also, which I have never observed in any other man, to wit, that he affectionately regarded many to whom he seldom or never showed the appearance of strong regard ; saying, according to the common proverb, “Ubi amor ibi oculus.' And another thing I wondered at in him was, that he knowingly suffered loss in his temporal matters from his own servants, and confessed that he winked at them: but this I believe to have been the reason, that he might watch a convenient opportunity, when the thing could be advisedly remedied, or that he might avoid a greater loss by taking no outward notice of it. He loved his relations indifferently, but not less tenderly than others, because he had or assumed not to have any relative within the third degree. But I have heard him state, that he had relations who were noble and gentle, whom he never would in anywise recognize as relations ; for, as he said, they would be more a burden than an honour to him, if they should happen to find out their relationship; but he always acknowledged those as kinsmen who had treated him as such when he was a poor monk. He invited to him a certain chaplain who had maintained him in the schools of Paris, and bestowed upon him an ecclesiastical benefice sufficient for his maintenance by way of vicarage. He granted to a certain servant of his predecessor's food and clothing all the days of his life, he being the very man who put the fetters upon him at his lord's command when he was cast into prison. To the son of Elias, the butler of Hugh the abbot, when he came to do homage for his father's land, he said, in full court, 'I have, for these seven years, deferred taking thy homage for the land which the Abbot Hugh gave thy father, because that gift was to the damage of the manor of Elmeswell ; but now I feel myself quite overcome when I call to mind what thy father did for me when I was in chains, for he sent to me a portion of the very wine whereof his lord had been drinking, and bade me be comforted in God.' To Master Walter, the son of Master William de Dissy, suing at his grace for the vicarage of the church of Chevington, he replied, • Thy father was master of the schools, and at the time when I was a poor clerk, he granted me freely and in charity an entrance to his school, and the means of learning ; now I, for the sake of God, do grant to thee what thou dost ask. He addressed two knights of Risby, William and Norman, at the time when they were adjudged to be in his mercy, publicly in this wise, . When I was a cloister monk, sent to Durham upon business of our Church, and from thence returning through Risby, being benighted, I sought a night's lodging from Lord Norman, who utterly forbade me; but going to the house of Lord William, and seeking shelter, I was hospitably entertained by him; now, therefore, those twenty shillings, to wit, the mercy, I will without mercy exact from Norman ; but contrariwise, to William I give thanks, and the amerciament that is due from him do with pleasure remit. A certain manor falling to him, he said, ' And I do accept this part of the land to my own use, but not that I intend to keep the same in my own hand, or that I shall give it to my relations ; but for the good of my soul and for all your souls in common, I give the same to the new bospital at Babbwell

, for the relief of the poor, and the maintenance of hospitality.' As he said, so was it done, and afterwards confirmed by the king's charter. These and all other things worthy to be kept in remembrance, and recorded for ever, did the Abbot Sampson. There was nothing more that he intended to do, unless he could in his own lifetime dedicate our church ; after the performance whereof, he asserted he was ready to die *."

For every post of eminence the monasteries have yielded remarkable men; and it is curious to observe them apologizing often for possessing the very qualities which rendered them so necessary to the state, as where Antonio de Guevara, concluding a reply to several questions proposed to him by the Duke of Sesse, says, “ I pray you not to take a bad opinion of

* Chron. of Jocelin of Brakelond.

me, nor regard me as too worldly for a monk, in consequence of these answers which I send you. For since I have conversed with the world, it is no marvel that I remember somewhat of it ; nevertheless, God gave me the grace to leave it wholly to serve his Divine Majesty in this holy cloister *.” On the death of Lucius II. we see the cardinals seizing on a poor Cistercian monk of St. Anastasius, near the Salvian Waters- c“ irruere in hominem rusticanum, et excussa e manibus securi et ascia vel ligone, in palatium trahere, levare in cathedram t." When Leo XII. sought men of high talent and unflinching integrity to fill public offices, it was to the monasteries that he repaired ; and his intimate counsellors were chosen chiefly from among the regular clergy. As statesmen we find Benedictines and Franciscans, like Suger and Ximenes, making kings acquainted with popular opinion and the desires of their subjects, telling them that what they want, to use the words of one who seems to sympatbize with the spirits of a grander age, is not to fashion new dukes and furbish up old baronies, but to adhere to great principles, which may maintain the realm and secure the happiness of the people, " that if authority should be honoured, and a solemn reverence the habit of our lives, power and property should acknowledge that labour is their twin brother, and that the essence of all tenure is the performance of duty.” Even for the defence of a country by military measures, men of the monastic state, compelled by the force of circumstances to show themselves in a new light, have been found useful. When the Cistercian monks undertook to defend Calatrava from the Moors, the knights and nobles of Castille had previously declined the dangerous honour. · Et, licet hæc rex ostenderet magnatibus et baronibus, non fuit,” says the historian, “ aliquis inventus de potentibus qui vellet defensionis periculum expectare [.” But, in fact, without recurring to an exceptional instance, courage seems an essential attribute of these orders; there might be no end of citing examples in proof. With what coolness does the brave Monk Olier relate the fearful ordeal through which the Huguenots made bim pass when they seized the abbey of Cluny, and finding him left there alone, required him to show them the place of the treasure on pain of tortures and death $! During the retreat of the French from Naples in 1799, when their sol. diers, “less French than Sarassen," as M. Valery says, pillaged the monastery of Monte Cassino, one of the monks, Henry Gattula, received a sabre cut in the face while courageously defending the same archives which had been arranged by his great ancestor ; for the iron gate which secured them had raised a

* Lettres Dorées, liv. iii. I Annal. Cister. ii. 303.

+ S. Bern. Ep. 237.
§ Lorain, Hist. de Cluny, 231.

« VorigeDoorgaan »