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as his finger-ends. The reason is, to use Hazlitt's words, “that he pierces deeper into the nature of the human being beside him, can make his very deficiencies subservient to his own speculations, and, above all, knows that there is something worth all the knowledge and talent upon earth, which is an honest heart and a genial nature.” It is thus that the monk differs from the secular man of superior abilities. But observe him again more closely. We have seen that love frustrated had often led men to embrace this state of life. Perhaps, too, this partly explains in some instances the influence which they exercised over others. True, there has come to them a nearer bliss ; a new love has come, “ Felicity's abyss ! It comes, and the old does fade and fade away-yet not entirely ; no, that starry sway has been an under-passion to this hour.” The traces of pleasure in their case has sunk into an absorbent ground of thoughtful melancholy, and only requires to be brought out by time and circumstances, or, as Hazlitt adds, “ by the varnish of style,” to produce impressions of the deepest kind. After having suffered thus they kept secret their calamity ; they kept it solely to themselves ; they purified it with simplicity in silence ; at intervals they would retire to it as to a sanctuary or to a tomb to which there were short paths known only to themselves, and from that mysterious spot they would return each time with an undefinable emotion, and with a singular expression that fascinated men not knowing whence it was derived, but feeling that it disposed them to listen with breathless attention to their words, and to unite their heart with theirs.
On the whole, however, whatever may have been the cause, great undoubtedly were the impressions which the monks produced on those who heard them. Let us observe some instances. * The sweetness and affability of St. Peter of Alcantara were,” says his biographer, “ most remarkable.” Jerome de Loaisa heard many persons say, that however difficult and opposed to their inclination a thing might be, they would instantly do it when he proposed it, finding it absolutely impossible to contradict him in any thing *.
Blessed is that religious man,” said St. Francis, “who has no joy nor satisfaction but in pious entertainments and discourses of God, thereby to induce and allure men with pleasantness and mirth to the love of their Creator f." “ A certain youth,” says Cæsar of Heisterbach, “ living in the house of a rich knight as his servant, though very virtuous, was tempted to commit a crime; but repairing to take counsel from a neighbouring hermit, to whom he disclosed his passion, the holy man made light of it, and replied, “Only repeat the angelic salutation a certain num.
* Marchese, Vie du Saint, iv. 9.
ber of times every day for a year, and you will be freed from it;' for he knew," adds the narrator, “that our Blessed Lady would never desert a young man who wished to be virtuous ; and when the youth complied, he was delivered ever after from the temptation *." Let the difficulty be of what kind it may, men respect such a guide, and think better' of virtue for its having made him. In the end they seek him, as a great author says, “in order that he may turn his lamp upon the dark riddles whose solution they think is inscribed on the walls of their being.” “At Venice, in 1418, Father Gabriel, the Augustinian of Spoletto, preached with wonderful fruit,” says an historian of his order. “ The minds of all, especially of the nobles, were so attached to him, that they could scarcely be torn away from him. Renowned at Madrid was Father Francis à Castro Verde, called Regis Concionator et Rex Concionatorum, who in freedom of speech was another Ambrose, and in refusing honours and dignities more than a Bernard ; for he refused five times the mitre, and not these only, but all superfluous goods, in order that he might be a true evangelic preacher, with John the Baptist, before kings and princes, with a fearless front becoming the voice of one proclaiming penance in the wilderness t.”
The monk taught often to his last breath. Brother Richard Middleton, a Franciscan of great sanctity, while preaching one day in Paris, became all of a sudden silent. After an hour, resuming his discourse, he took leave of all his audience with a most serene countenance, and so departed this life in peace I. The very locality seems somewhat to aid the effect produced by the monastic voice. In the Capuchin churches of Switzerland, as in most ancient monasteries, the preacher is seen to issue directly from the interior of the convent by a door which opens into the pulpit, which is attached to the wall. He seems to leave his retreat only to speak to the people; and then what is it to hear that tongue, whose sweetness angels might adore! But taking another point of view, it may be observed that these instructors are often familiarly and personally known to all classes of the population, and that what they sought was an immediate practical result Father Gregory Olivet, monk of the Order of Mercy in the time of Don Pedro IV., king of Arragon, having to preach one Sunday in a certain village, found the peasants in such consternation that they could not assemble to hear him. On inquiring the cause, they told him that the captain of banditti in the mountains had sent them word, that if on a particular day they did not furnish him with a given quantity
* vii. c. 33.
of meat, bread, and wine, he would burn down their houses. The father went with the persons deputed to convey
the tribute, and waited for the robbers. As soon as they approached, he began to preach from the text, “ Custodiens parvulos Dominus," and spoke of the necessity of dying, and the judgment of God, and the glory of Paradise ; and the banditti were so moved, that they renounced that course of life *.
The Franciscan brother, Antonius Segoviensis, at the end of his sermons, used to teach the people the method of confessing. Brother Michael Baree, when he travelled in the country, would often go out of the way to find ploughmen and shepherds, whom he left not till he had prevailed with them to make their confessions, which be used to hear sitting upon their ploughs in the fields. Brother Theodorick of Munster, during a plague which reigned at Brussels, went thither, and heard the confessions of more than 32,000 persons. Thus were whole populations reformed, directed, and trained to the most happy life; and might not therefore every statesman and every father of a family, alluding to such men, exclaim with Capulet, and on stronger grounds than he possessed,
“Now, afore God, this reverend holy friar,
All our whole city is much bound to him ?" Addressing St. Albert, Baptist the Mantuan says, "Sic meritis adjuta tuis Mesana revixit." And is not this fact significant? For must it not be a true religion which by its institutions recals to life a whole city ; which produces and sends forth men, age after
age, who reform nations, the result of whose labours, if not counteracted, would be to make children more dutiful, tradesmen more honest, subjects more loyal, senators more true lovers of their country, with all its rights, and men of every condition more just in their dealings, more generous, amiable, and kind-hearted to every one in private life, more constant and disinterested in their service of the public? Methinks against such reformations no voice need be lifted up. But when have such consequences been witnessed where Catholicism and its institutions, or at least the principles which have their centre in that faith, have been wholly excluded? What nations were morally benefited by the revolted preachers of the sixteenth century, some of whose admirers are now sending forth books of dogmatic scepticism, and expositions of the non-existence of virtue and honour? Is it they who introduced any thing noble, elevated, generous, or conformable to nature, that we see around us ? It is one still following their banner who says, seeking though, perhaps, to throw out the light of his picture by darkening the rest beyond what truth requires, “When I remember what the English people
* Hist. de l'Ord. de la Mercy, 272.
-the truest, the freest, and the bravest, the best-natured and the best-looking, the happiest and most religious race upon the surface of this globe,—and think of them now, with all their crimes and all their slavish sufferings; their soured spirits, and their stunted forms ; their lives without enjoyment, and their deaths without hope, I may well feel for them, even if I were not of their blood." Or again, what country and city of any age was recalled to the life of virtue by those philosophers with whom the monks are so often contrasted, for the purpose of being defamed and vilified ? You talk of Seneca-of Lucius Annæus Seneca ! Out upon him! He wrote on temperance and fortitude, yet lived like a voluptuous epicure, and died like an effeminate coward." You point at Athens ; but assuredly, says a great writer, “if the tree wbich Socrates planted and Plato watered is to be judged of by its flowers and leaves, it is the noblest of trees. But if we take the homely test of Baconif we judge of the tree by its fruits—our opinion of it may, perhaps, be less favourable. Take the Stoics again. After they had been declaiming eight hundred years, had they made the world better than when they began ? Our belief is,” adds this writer, " that among the philosophers themselves, instead of a progressive improvement, there was a progressive degeneracy. The truth is, that in those very matters in which alone they professed to do any good to mankind—in those very matters for the care of which they neglected all the vulgar interests of mankind, they did nothing, or worse than nothing. They promised what was impracticable ; they despised what was practicable ; they filled the world with long words and long beards, and they left it as wicked and as ignorant as they found it.” “I thought you taught two vices for one virtue,” says Flowerdew, in the Muses' Looking-Glass. “So does philosophy," is the reply.
But it is not alone by books, by lessons, and formal religious instructions that the monks and holy sisters contribute to the moral training of mankind. They produce an influence by their familiar conversations, and even while holding their peace most vocally by their example, which, though not in all respects intended as a rule for other persons, must keep the minds of those who behold or remember them conversant with images of high virtue, and produce an effect in the world like the hayawa-tree in the forests of South America, which perfumes the woods around it. Their very looks are fair examples ; their common and indifferent actions, rules and strong ties of virtue.
“ There are sublime merits,” says a modern writer; persons who are not actors, not speakers, but influences—persons too great for fame, for display; who disdain eloquence ; to whom all we call art and artist seems too nearly allied to show and by-ends—to the exaggeration of the finite and selfish, and loss of the uni
versal.” Unintentionally this is a very accurate picture of the monastic character. The monks of Mount Serrat lived in such retreat that the pilgrims saw them only in the church. But the spiritual profit which was derived from that glimpse, and from hearing what they did, was never questioned. The sole presence,” says Pierre Mathieu, “ of a good man, who has no other views but those of religion, can often extinguish bad resolutions. His silence is sufficient to make men abandon a measure as wrong. When one sees a monk become cardinal, who has left nothing of his profession but his hood, undaunted in dangers, happy in adversity, firm in tempests, and with a soul surmounting all the grandeurs of the world as beneath it, one is constrained to confess that he is something more than a common
Such characters, in fact, have a power to reform, not alone actions, but even thoughts-telles gens sont assez puissans pour reformer non seulement les actions mais encore les pensées *.” There is nothing about them, we must repeat it, like that false asceticism which we noted on a former road ; nothing like that air of irksome regularity, gloominess, and pedantry attached to the virtuous characters of Richardson, which is so apt to encourage unfortunate associations, though the tales of that author, so strictly moral, were recommended from the pulpit by Sherlock, and compared to the Bible by another learned admirer. “Catholics,” says Hazlitt, are, upon the whole, more amiable than Protestants t." It is an amiable opponent who can entertain or utter such a thought; but it seems less difficult and meritorious to admit that monastics, at all events, seem free from the defects which often accompany piety in the world. It must strike those who observe them as if they really present and produce many contrasts to the features which this author ascribes to those whom he terms disagreeable people. They are not generally, for instance, “faultfinders, like those persons who are of so teasing and fidgety a turn of mind that they do not give you a moment's rest, every thing going wrong with them. Let you be what you may, they do not seem to speculate upon you, or regard you with a view to an experiment in corpore vili, having the principle of dissection, the determination to spare no blemishes, to cut you down to your real standard. They do not evince an utter absence of the partiality of friendship, of the enthusiasm of affection, like those well-meaning friends on whom a dull, melancholy vapour hangs, that drags them, and every one about them, to the ground ; to whose monotonous intercourse even the trifling of summer friends seems preferable. They are not like persons who stop
* Hist. de Hen. IV. liv. ii.