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died without other assistance but that of saints and angels. The Church expressly records of St. Agatha that she received no assistance from physicians *. “ Master John de Nivelle, dean of Lieges, was always,” says an old writer, “labouring in his holy vocation. During a long and violent indisposition, a great phy, sician came from France at his own expense to cure him; and when the holy man had asked how long a time he must persevere in using the remedy, and heard that after four months his cure would be complete, striking his hands he exclaimed, · Alas! miserable me, if for this perishable flesh I should cease for only three weeks! Dear master, return to your country when you please ; Christ will repay you for your good intention and your labour t.'” Charlemagne, whenever indisposed, applied the remedy of abstinence and diet, and found it successful. In his last sickness, having recourse to it, and perceiving it fail, he intimated his conviction that his hour was come for departing to the other world. St. Ambrose, on the supposition that the precepts of medicine are contrary to the celestial science—to fasts, vigils, and meditation—says, rather rhetorically, “ Itaque qui se medicis dederit, seipsum sibi abnegat $;" and the blessed Guigues, the Carthusian, says of the religious, “ Ut sanos a sanis, ita ægrotos ab ægrotis sæcularibus debere cogitent discrepare g.” But Catholicism, we are assured, sanctions no exaggeration in this respect; and, after all, “ when sick,” said St. Syneliticus, “ do not ascribe your malady to having fasted, for those who
do not fast are quite as often sick as those who do fast ||.” Far, indeed, does it seem from the spirit of Catholicity to throw discredit on a most poble profession, which in every age has boasted of such men as Dupuytren and Recamier, who have found upon a road that might have been followed during our past wanderings an attraction constituted by their scientific discoveries and by their observation of other men, which either recalled their steps to faith, if they had ever doubted, like the first of these eminent physicians, or kept them through life like the latter, persevering in attachment to those principles which enabled them to die eternally united to truth, to justice, and to peace. Marina de Escobar permitted herself to be treated by physicians, though they gave evidence on oath that they considered her pains and diseases to be supernatural and without physical cause, while in her sickness God often visited her with obscurities and dere. lictions, especially towards the close of her life q. But the truth is, that men of ihe central discipline are not so often sick as
* Thomassin, Traité des Jeunes, c. 14. + Mag. Spec.
§ Stat. c. 38.
others. They cannot, like so many of the rich, be sick when they have a mind to it; they do not catch an ague with the wind of a fan, or take to their beds in order to pay ten pounds for an elixir. Temperance and virtue, faith, hope, and charity, prove excellent medicine for the body; and, alluding to the neglect of it, one may cite the ancient saying, “ Nunquam fuit cupido vitæ major nec minor cura *." How often,” says a living observer of society," when the unhappy disciple of Esculapius is perplexing himself about the state of our bodies, we might throw light upon his obscure labours by simply detailing to him the state of our minds !”
In fact, as a great writer says of something analogous, “ Like a new soul, these principles and views of past, present, and future renew the body. We become physically nimble and lightsome; we tread on air ; life is no longer irksome, and we think it will never be so. No man fears age, or misfortune, or death, in their serene company; for he is transported out of the district of change.” The renowned and devout sculptor Jacopo Sansovino, so remarkable for his personal beauty, is described by Vasari as still retaining in his old age
the carriage of his youth, being nimble and strong even to his ninetythird year. Besides, the old discipline tends in a measure to incapacitate the body for many maladies. So the count of Ureña said to the Venetian ambassador Navagiero, when he visited him in his old age at Ossuna, “ Diseases sometimes visit me, but seldom tarry long; for my body is like a crazy old inn, where travellers find such poor fare that they merely touch and go." “Our most holy father,” says Sergardi, writing to Mabillon about
“ enjoys a green old age ; his colour is fresh, his eye piercing, his memory exact, his attention to business endless ; 'in fine, if you did not count his years, you would say he was a young man f.” That the same discipline tends to lengthen life is most certain ; and here, between trees and men, one has to remark, not an analogy, but a contrast ; for, as Theophrastus observes, “ Wild trees live long, none of them being short-lived; whereas all tame, cultivated trees are in general of shorter duration, and some of them live but a little space. By culture trees become more fruitful, but weaker.” With men it is the reverse, that is true. Verdant old age, protracted to its extreme limits under the central influence, renders a person often the observed of all observers. Let us hear a recent traveller in Spain. “ Arrived at Elvas,” he says, “ on entering the hostelry, an elderly woman sat beside the fire in her chair, telling her beads. There was something singular in her look, as well as I could discern by the imperfect light of the room. Her hair was becoming grey, and I said that I believed she was older than
* Plin. N. H. xxii. 7.
+ Correspond. de Mabill. ii. lett. cclxi.
myself. • How old may you be, cavalier ? I answered that I was near thirty. Then,' said she, you were right in supposing that I am older than yourself. I am older than your mother or your mother's mother: it is more than a hundred years since I was a girl and sported with the daughters of the town on the hill side. She then added that she was upwards of a hundred and ten years of age.” But what is very remarkable, in order to find examples of old age in greatest abundance, we must repair to the places where the Catholic life is found in its_severest form, namely, to the desert and the monastery. St. Paul, the first hermit, lived to a hundred and sixteen years, of which a hundred were spent in the desert ; St. Anthony lived to be a hundred and five, and ninety of these were passed in the desert; St. Paphnutius attained to the age of ninety; St. Hilarion, though weak and delicate, to that of eighty-four, and he spent seventy years in the desert; James, a Persian hermit, lived to be a hundred and four ; St. Macarius, to be ninety, and sixty of these years were in the desert ; Arsenius lived to a hundred and twenty, and he spent fifty-five in the desert. So also among monks : St. Benedict lived to be sixty-three ; St. Maur, to be seventy ; St. Romuald, to be a hundred and twenty ; St. Robert, to be ninety-three; St. Peter Cælestin, to be eighty-one; St. John Gualbert, to be seventy-eight; St. Gall, to be ninetyfive; St. Æmilian, to a hundred and eight; St. Silvester, to be ninety * Common life, however, in the world, under the central influence, presents extreme old age as a common phenome
The grandfather of Mabillon lived to the age of a hundred and sixteen, and his father to that of a hundred and eight. “I have seen the latter,” says Ruinart, “still vigorous, and with all his faculties sound and entire, at the age of a hundred and five.” Catholicism witnesses a fulfilment of the prophecy where it is written, “ Thus saith the Lord : There shall be old men and old women dwelling in Jerusalem, every man with his staff in his hand for very age. And the streets of the city shall be full of boys and girls playing in the streets thereof."
Lately,” says Drexelius," the pro-bishop of Bamberg, in Thuringia, had administered the last sacraments to about six thousand persons. Among these more than two hundred had attained to upwards of a hundred years. One was a hundred and fifty years old ; his sons were more than a hundred ; his grandsons more than seventy. All had lived Catholically, frugally. How many,” he adds,
are there now in the Alps who are more than eighty or ninety, without having ever tasted meat or wine! I lately saw one who was more than a hundred and twenty, who had never used other medicine but temperance. Louis Cor
* Hæftenus, Econom. Monast. lib. viii. c. 6.
naro, the Venetian, by following the same discipline, could, in his eighty-third year, mount the steepest hills like a youth *.” “ As for you,” says Mabillon to Magliabechi, when both were at a very advanced age, “ take a little more care of your health, which is so dear to me, and reflect that neither of us are any longer young men of twenty, to neglect yourself as you have hitherto done t." There is constant occasion for such advice where life is directed by views and practices that may be called central, from their connexion with Catholicity and nature. If some who follow the discipline of which we are speaking should be infirm, it is, probably, that other causes besides years have been in action to produce such results. As a monk of Monte Cassino sings,
“ Non ætate quidem senui, sed cladibus, heu, tot
Nostra quibus perpes subdita vita fuit I." Nor is it perhaps unworthy of notice that this manner of life tends even to preserve a graceful and noble exterior in the old. Nature, when its design is not baffled by some intervening accident, is, after all, beautiful even in its decline, as may be witnessed in shrubs when covered late in the year with the traveller's joy.
Quique per autumnum percussis frigore primo
Est color in foliis, quæ nova læsit hiems g.” In old age the elm, in some instances, as we have already remarked, and the ash almost always, lose that grandeur and beauty which the oak preserves ; but how majestic is the latter tree!
“ Still clad with reliques of its trophies old,
Lifting to heaven its aged, hoary head,
Whose foot on earth hath got but feeble hold." Some individuals of every species retain beauty to extreme old age. The cedar-tree of California, that is two thousand years old, has none of that deformity which commonly characterizes trees of a great age, but from one end to the other it is a model of symmetry. The Scotch fir, that is hideous in its youth, becomes at a very advanced age precious to every artistic eye. In the north the bark of trees is covered with lichens and mosses ; in the tropical forests flowers of every colour twine round each trunk; but there is a pure white lichen, beautiful in the contrast which it presents to the coloured lichens, intermingled with it, and yet denoting that the vigour of the tree is about to fail. In
* Rosæ Select. Virt. p. i. c. xi. I Hist. Cassinens. xi. 675.
+ Corresp. ij. lett. cclxxxv. § Trist. iii, 8.
like manner there is a peculiar beauty that belongs to the aged of human kind, enduring until they wholly perish, and all their painted frailties turn to ashes. True, there is a charm that blows the first fire in us which lasts not. Time, as he passes by, puts out that sparkle. The smooth forehead, peachy cheeks, and milky neck, which once required the pencil of a Raphael to portray them, will in the decline of life demand that of a Titian or a Velasquez; but how noble and loveable may the whole, however changed, still be! It may even present an analogy with the acajou, of which the wood only grows more precious by growing old. That intelligent and amiable expression which the exercise of benevolent feelings in parts to the eyes and mouth may still be seen. It is
Spectabilis heros Et veteris retinens etiamnum pignora formæ.” It is not of necessity, then, that men grow ugly with advancing years. “ The effect of the passions,” says Southey,“ upon the face is more rapid and more certain than that of time.” Come, let a court be opened here, and let women pronounce sentence. Mark these countenances, then, as painted by Ben Jonson and others. Is it age that makes your merchant or city face--that dull, plodding face, still looking in a direct line forward-of which he says so wittily, “ There is no great matter in this face?” Is it age that makes your lawyer's face, a contracted, subtile, and intricate face, full of quirks and turnings, a labyrinthean face, now angularly, now circularly, every way aspected ? Is it age that forms your statist's face, a serious, solemn, and supercilious face, full of formal and square gravity; the eye, for the most part, deeply and artificially shadowed ? Is it age that makes your face of faces, your courtier theoric, a fastidious and oblique face, that looks as it went with a vice and were screwed up? Or is it age that forms the menacing, astounding face of the justice that speaks chains and shackles, “who would commit a man for taking the wall of his horse ?” Look, too, at that betting, bargaining, and saving face, that rich face, fit to be pawned to the usurer ; or at that hunting face to court the wind with ; or at that proud face, with such a load of lord upon it; or at that sanctimonious, serious, scornful owl face, with equipage canonical, as though he had broken the heart of Bellarmine ; or at that sour, prognosticating face, that passes by all flesh so negligently. What part, it may be asked, ye fair judges, had age in the formation of any of these countenances ? Not the least, they will tell you; whereas, on the other hand, these very faces turn the tables against manhood and womanhood, and even youth, since it is clear from this evidence that these can wear state or business, or Pharisaic or unmeaning faces, in which the best judges, male or