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particulars. Paris alone consumes more than a fourteenth part of the 655,000 acres of forest that are cut in France. It imports annually, besides charcoal, 300,000 loads of wood, of which eight come from one acre. The consumption of wood exceeds the reproduction. You say that the price of wood, nevertheless, has not increased these two years past. Yes; but by what means? By a fearful ravage which ruins all hopes for the future." He then proceeds to say that "forests, which are the property of private persons, perish; or when these proprietors learn to appreciate their own immediate interest, they are sure to perish *." "Few great proprietors," says Varenne-Fénille, "economize their woods, or seek to maintain them by replanting. Besides, egotism, which has made such progress in our time, causes them to refer all things to their men of business, who care less for the posterity of their patrons than the fathers themselves, and think it better to present a sum of money than a long register of expenses incurred. It was not so with religious houses. They managed their woods well. They sowed, they replanted, they thinned judiciously, and their woods are, consequently, the best preserved that we have in France. Forest science requires more varied, deep, and complicated knowledge than we think necessary at the present day t." With the destruction of monasteries, the ruin of forests has kept pace. The larch was once common on the Alpine mountains of Provence, but since the ruin of the religious houses they have been destroyed. Whole forests have been burned down in order to procure a few acres of pasture. The consequence has been, that the little soil which covered the rocks has been carried into the valleys by the torrents; and so Provence is stript of all shade, and now even of pasture +. Dubois says, that "soon after the departure of the monks the revolutionists armed themselves with hatchets, and proceeded to cut down the lofty woods of Morimond. Ten years after the poor vine cultivators were obliged to take their hoes and pull up the vines, the soil having become too cold for their cultivation §."
But, perhaps, the interests of the forests have detained us too long. From the sum of all these observations it will not be difficult to estimate the accuracy of the ancient opinion that monasteries were institutions of great general utility to the countries in which they were placed, which is another point of view from which I think the truth of the religion which gave rise to them cannot but strike some who pass. I am aware that a distinguished, and in many respects truly admirable, writer, who
Id. ii. 8.
*Cotta, Principes fondamentaux de la Science forestière.
has only to wield his pen to make error with a stroke seem more plausible than truth, has thought fit to cite as similar instances of the unavoidable inferiority of past to present times, the two facts of there having been a period when the most powerful of human intellects were deluded by the gibberish of the astrologer, and when the most enlightened and virtuous statesmen thought it the first duty of a government to found monasteries; but though propositions of this kind, which have slipped from his pen, and which, perhaps, it is unfair to notice, may yield pleasure when brilliantly announced at the under-graduates' table, in a college dining-hall, where no young reason can answer such argument of fine imposture, couched in the witchcraft of persuasion, so that it fashions impossibilities, as if appearance could cozen truth itself, they will not quite satisfy men of experience and reflection who come from the vast field of observation presented by the world. Antiquity," as some one says, "does not always turn out an old woman;" and in this instance no magic art can prevent them from perceiving that it is not as foolish a thing to prepare for others an asylum like a monastery, as to believe in the influence of the stars; that it is not an oriental, stationary, vague, and useless result which the history of such institutions presents, but that it is one of the most practical nature, exhibiting effects which, with certain modifications, are at all times, perhaps, equally desirable, and consequences which in every age alike must be regarded as of great, social, and political importance. St. Giles used to say that "the Order of St. Francis was sent by God into the world expressly for the sake of being useful to humanity-ad magnam hominum utilitatem.'" Would it be too much to make the same assertion respecting the Benedictine and all the earlier orders? Was St. David the victim of as much absurd credulity as that of fond astrologers devoted to the art of chrysopoia or spagyrica, or the pamphysic or panarchic knowledge, when he built so many religious houses; quibus," to use the historians words, "discipuli a populari frequentia remoti, manum labore, lectione, oratione, et pauperum refectione vitam exigebant *?" Was St. Bathilde no wiser than a doating wizard for thinking that she did all that was possible towards meeting the wants of every class of society when she founded and endowed monasteries, causing by such works to flourish industry at Moûtier-la-Celle, the arts at Fontanelle, learning at Luxeuil, apostolic zeal at Corbie, and contemplation and peace in all the sanctuaries for innocence, exile, and fallen grandeur, which she provided at Logium, St. Fare, Jouarre, and Chelles? Was all this the same thing as if she had been casting nativities and turning over the twelve houses in the zodiac with
Girald. Cambrens. Ang. Sac. ii. 628.
her almutens and alma-cantaras? The charter of Pandolf and his son Landolf, princes of the Langobards, to the abbey of Monte Cassino, sets forth that the Abbot Aligernus had prayed him, "ut pro amore Dei, nostræque patriæ salvacione concederemus atque confirmaremus cuncta qualiter hic inferius declaratur*" Is it so certain that he was mistaken in that appreciation of the probable consequences of such a gift, that for having entertained the idea he ought to be set down with the Faustus that pores over figures and cures by the ephemerides? It is not easy to discover how it should be so. On the contrary, that the founders of these houses were accomplishing a work such as the most enlightened lovers of their country would wish to perform in any age, is an opinion that a calm consideration of the effects resulting from them would perhaps fully justify. Are we to forget, if every other important result were to be overlooked, the immense utility of religious houses to meet the case of those men, who, as a modern author, not taking the existence of monasteries into account, says, "have brought themselves into such circumstances that, in relation to their social and secular interests, nothing whatever can be done for them? Men," he says, "who have possessed advantages, enjoyed opportunities, been again and again, perhaps, in positions where they might have done any thing,-such men making shipwreck of themselves, losing their character, estranging their friends, neglecting or prostituting their talents, standing at last debased by vice or branded by crime; devoid of credit, unworthy of confidence, shunned by their former associates, and willing themselves to hang the head and escape recognition,-what on earth can be done for them?-what can you say to them in relation to making the best of life or turning the world in any sense to account? Nothing. They had their chance and they lost it. They might have done well, they did not. Then they cannot now. They must take the consequences of their folly, and just make up their minds to its irretrievable results. No one can help them. They are utterly ruined men so far as this world is concerned, and as such they must go to their graves. There is no possibility of reinstating them,-they cannot regain character or confidence. They can never more rise to respectability. They poured poison into the cup of life, and they must just go on drinking it to the last. Religion itself, in regard to this life, has no remedies,it is all over with them. If they were now to have the piety of apostles and the faith of martyrs; if their inward spiritual being was to become as pure and beautiful as the most eminent saints that ever breathed, it would be of no use, or next to none. All that might very efficiently qualify them for heaven, but it would be incapable of restoring to them their lost and forfeited position
* D. Gattula, Hist. Abb. Cassin. P. i. 66.
on earth. The social and temporal consequences of their former course the ruined cannot escape. They must take them with all their aggravations, bear them without complaint, and bow down to them as an inevitable penalty. They could only be escaped by the intervention of a miracle, by the derangement of the order of the universe, the suspension of the laws, which alone make society possible or safe" This is assuredly a remarkable observation when it is presented to the light resulting from the fact of monastic history, which presents so many instances of ruined persons becoming possessed of an essentially new character in the eyes of the world, of honours and happiness coming upon them as a sudden reprieve, return from afar, recovery, escape, restoration, health, peace, and life, after loathsome leprosy, prodigal wanderings, practical rebellion, prostrate debasement, blighted prospects, ruined fortunes, and anguish and wailing, and desperate sorrow. This consideration alone would be sufficient to prove that monastic institutions may be in the highest as well as in the lowest sense useful to humanity; and, certainly, after taking it into account it seems to many judicious persons impossible, with any degree of fairness, to deny or question the benefit resulting from them. Let no one blush, then, for these patrons of the monastery, who were proud of what they built up in it; nor can their election be disparaged, since they did not receive into their bosom and grace any glorious, lazy drones, grown fat with feeding on others' toil, but industrious bees that cropt the sweetest flowers, and every happy evening returned laden with wax and honey to their hive.
A recent traveller in Spain, describing the monastery of the Rio Batuecas, in Estremadura, says, "This convent, amidst the wonders of Alpine nature, with its gardens and its sixteen hermitages on picturesque eminences, was a refuge to travellers, a light of religion, and a centre of civilization in this benighted district. These Carmelites civilized the valley; they founded a school for the peasants, and a lodging for all wayfarers." In 1561, when it was proposed to demolish the convent of the Holy Trinity at Metz, in order to make way for some fortifications, the remonstrance of the cardinal, archbishop of Rheims, which was successful, the next year, in procuring for them another convent, called La Cour d'Orme, contained these words: Unless we come to their assistance a great loss will result to the whole country; for if they are obliged to migrate to other lands, and desert this city through want of a house, the citizens and inhabitants of the territory will be deprived of their pious and frequent sermons to the people, ad populum +." The monastery of St. Vedast being without the walls of the town, the citizens of Arras, we are told, felt that they would be more secure if it
Baron, Annales S. Ord. S. Trin. 228.
stood within and in the midst of them; therefore they pulled down the old walls, and built others, which enclosed the monastery within the city The fact is, though we are perhaps retracing our steps to notice it, that the prayers, and even the presence, of the religious communities were deemed a protection to states, which is a benefit that even infidels must acknowledge, since whatever inspires a population with confidence in its strength, must be socially and politically useful. The council of Autun, by the mouth of St. Leger, declared that the monks conduce to the prosperity of the whole world, " Et mundus omnis per eorum assiduas orationes malis carebit contagiis ;" and, notwithstanding the progress of knowledge, there will still be found many intelligent persons unwilling to concede that such services are wholly visionary. There are even still found persons to establish their residence near such men of prayer, for the same reason that led to the reconstruction of the city of Aix after the ravages of the Saracens in the eighth century. That city may be said to owe its existence at the present day to the oratory of St. Saviour, served by monks, in which it was believed that St. Maximin preached and St. Mary Magdalen prayed; for it was in consequence of the monks, drawn by love and respect for this holy place, having returned to it that the people again gathered round them, which led to the rebuilding of the city +.
But being now arrived nearly at the end of this road, it will be desirable, before taking leave of it, to pause at two signals pointing to the centre, which are formed by a consideration of the contrast between those who loved and those who detested these institutions. As was asked on The Road of Priests, in reference to the secular clergy,-who in the first place were their friends? Clearly in the foremost rank of those attached to them we must count the common people, the lower classes, the industrious classes; in fact, the majority of each nation. No institutions can ever be more popular than these. When overthrown by the violence of men invested with governmental power, it is the people who mourn for them. This was the case both in England and in every other country. In England the people rose in their favour. They struggled for a century, but they struggled against property, and they were beat. They well might struggle; for as long as the monks existed, the people, when aggrieved, had property on their side. In Sweden the
peasants cried out that "they would keep the monks and the monasteries, and that they would rather feed at their own cost than banish them." The knight of La Mancha saying emphati
* Ant. de Yepes, Cron. Gen. ii. 403.
+ Monuments sur l'Apost. de S. M.-Magd. en Provence, 508. + Sibyl.