Be sure


That buzz about our slumbers, like brain-flies,
Leaving us fancy-sick. No, no.
The restless spirit never could endure
To brood so long upon one luxury,
Unless it did, though fearfully, espy

A hope beyond the shadow of a dream.” Let us proceed to observe further, how, in consequence of its moral discipline, or even of its only partial control over manners and thoughts, Catholicism changes the melancholy and fearful views of death which are incident to our nature.

- There are four kinds of dying men,” says Cæsar of Heisterbach : “ live well and die well, others live ill and die ill ; others lived ill, but, by the grace of God, die well ; and as forming a kind of strange exception to the general law, there are some who lived nearly to the end well, but seem to die ill, as if to verify the prophetic words, • In peccato suo quod peccavit, mo

! Here is, perhaps, the most solemn part of the road, the most appalling, dear young companion, to such persons as ourselves. We can all, however, perceive that an inestimable advantage accrues to those following it from the central wisdom, if it has influenced their lives and thoughts, or even penetrated deeply into their heart ; for death is no foe to virtue, to a great love, or to sin repentant. It is no foe either, as Catholicism seems intent on proclaiming, to humility ; and may we not all be humble? The old Church says with our ancient poet,

“ Keep your minds humble, your devotions high ;

So shall ye learn the noblest part, to die.” But let us proceed with instances of the faculties not unfrequently manifested by the dying, when the incipient death of the body is leaving the spirit more unobstructed.

Anacharsis, finding Myson mending the handle of his plough in summer, asked him whether that was the season for ploughing, and received for answer, “ It is the season for preparing the plough ;" on hearing which words, he recognized the presence of one of the seven. In the Catholic precepts respecting the general forethought and habitual though unconscious preparation for death, by a virtuous and heroic life, those who pass here should recognize the divinely-inspired Church. St. Isidore relates, that by ancient usage the day of coronation of the emperor at Constantinople, at the moment when he appeared in his greatest glory, a stone-mason was to approach and present him with specimens of four kinds of marble, that he might choose one for the construction of his own tomb. If you will believe

* xi. c. 1.

the poet, there is a tree in the forest that serves the same purpose.

66 'Twas in a shady avenue,
Where lofty elms abound,

And from a tree

There came to me
A sad and solemn sound,
That sometimes murmur'd overhead,

And sometimes underground.
“ In still and silent slumber hush'd

All nature seem'd to be :
From heaven above, or earth beneath,

No whisper came to me
Except the solemn sound and sad

From that mysterious tree.
A secret, vague, prophetic gloom,

As though by certain mark
I knew the fore-appointed tree,

Within whose rugged bark
This warm and living frame shall find

Its narrow house and dark.
6. This massy trunk that lies along,
And many more must fall

For the very knave

Who digs the grave,
The man who spreads the pall,
And he who tolls the funeral bell,-

The elm shall have them all !” Catholicity, however, employs such images only on one occasion, and that in the case of its supreme pontiff. One may believe that it does not require each of the promiscuous multitude to express every night upon their knees a wish to be dissolved, but undoubtedly inculcates the necessity of living with a general impression that there is an eternal destination awaiting us; or, as Mary, queen of Scots, said, in concluding her letter after her condemnation, to Elizabeth, “that from the first days of our capacity to comprehend our duties, we ought to bend our minds to make the things of this world yield to those of eter. nity.” Its disciple is not, perhaps, required to make all his whole life but death's preface, saying, like Sintram to Death, when riding with him in the forest, “ I will keep the thought of thee steadily before my soul, thou fearful yet wholesome monitor, thou awful yet loving guide ;" but he is taught the extreme folly and perilous consequences of acting through life as if he and death were never to meet, like those whom even the Gentile ridiculed, του θανάτου το παράπαν ου μνημονεύοντες.

Within the natural forest, the Church, by her funeral bells, contrives, from time to time, to give salutary warning to all who pass.

6 The convent bells are ringing !

But mournfully and slow,
In the grey square turret swinging,

With a deep sound to and fro !

Heavily to the heart they go !
Hark! the hymn is singing!

The song for the dead below,

Or the living who shall shortly be so !” Bells used to be called “exclamatorias voces defunctorum *.” “I have often said, preached, and written,” says Antonio de Guevara, writing to the Commander Anjulo, “ that the sound or clamorous noise of bells is not made so much for the dead as the living ; for if we think a little, it is to teach us that we also are to die ; so that we may truly say they toll not for the dead, but for the living.” The Lady Capulet has the same thought, exclaiming,

“O me! this sight of death is as a bell

That warns my old age to a sepulchre." No doubt it enters into the Catholic morality to entertain occasionally such grave thoughts. Life is so uncertain! so many resemble, in one respect, Cæsar, who, as Cicero says, when slain, expected to live long : “ Multos annos regnare meditatus t.” Pierre de Pirac, archbishop of Lyons, one day complained of the shortness of life, and said that he could not expect to live more than ten or twelve years more.

“ He did not live twelve days,” says Pierre Mathieu I. Madame de Sévigné, on the 26th April

, 1695, wrote to M. de Coulanges, saying, “ Pour moi que rien n'avertit encore du nombre de mes anneés, je suis quelque fois surprise de ma santé ; je suis guérie de mille petites incommodités que j'avois autrefois ; non-seulement j'avance doucement comme une tortue, mais je suis prête à croire que je vais comme une écrevisse." In less than a year after writing these words she was dead J. Well might that poet of the thirteenth century demand,

“ Dites, aveiz-vos pleges de vivre longuement ?

Je voi aucun riche home faire maisonnement
Quant il a assouvi trestout entièrement
Se li fait-on I. autre de petit coustement.
Et vos à quoi penceiz qui n'aveiz nul demain,
Et qui à nul bien faire ne voleiz metre main,
Si hom va au moustier vos dites, je remain.”

* La Tradition de l'Eglise sur les Bénédictions.
+ Phil, ü. # Hist. de Hen. IV. liv. ii.

§ Lett. 1038.

So poor a thing is life, that we cannot promise a minute's certainty : in the height and strength of youth, falling to dust again! Catholicism, therefore, without prescribing any irrational and morbid devotion to the one idea of death, tends to inspire men with a proper, practical, and, we may add, manly sense of this uncertainty, and moves them to speak and write like Dante in his Convito, saying, “ As Cicero, in his treatise on old age, compares natural death to a port and haven receiving us after a long voyage, so should we regard it ; and even as the good mariner, when he draws near the harbour's mouth, lowers his mainsheet, and enters it softly with a weak and inoffensive motion, so ought we to lower the sails of our worldly operations, and return to God with all our understanding and heart, to the end that we may reach this haven with all quietness and with all peace *." St. Boniface took with him on his journey the treatise of St. Ambrose on the utility and advantages of death, which copy, stained with his blood, was long preserved in the abbey of Fulda t. Persons in the world even sometimes bave been known to adopt a more forcible monitor, as when the Emperor Charles V. caused a solemn mass for his own soul to be celebrated before him, and the Archduchess Mary of Austria, for many years before her death, kept in a coffin the shroud in which she was to be buried, carrying it with her on all her journeys I. Of course such measures are to be ascribed to individual character rather than to the prescript of religion, which must not be loaded with what every one may wish to lay upon it, and which requires nothing that has an air of exaggeration or eccentricity; but the general principle which led to reminiscences of this kind is wound up with it ; and after all, even the gay and light-hearted need not for this reason accuse it of any singular or gratuitous interference with the pleasures of life ; for the sentiment is commended by genius in all ages, as in the lines of the poet most noted for his tenderness and songs of love, who, recomme

mending a wise usage of the day, concludes saying,

“Extremumque tibi semper adesse putes g." It is not, however, alone by timely admonitions that Catholicity prepares men for obtaining the happy views of death which are enjoyed upon this road under its guidance. It is on a good, or at least a generous and humble life, that it reckons, recommending as much love of virtue as is possible, and observing that, as

* Dante, Convito.

+ Brouverus, Fuldens. Antiq. # Drexel, Rosæ Select. Virtut., P. i. c. 12. § Tibullus.

St. John Climachus says, “ obedience is an emancipation from the fear of death ;” and that, as Salvius says,

“ Felix est qui ea agere potest in seculo, ut gloriam Dei cernere mereatur in cælo." Catholicism, as every one should know, teaches men to be poor in spirit ; and death being the robber par excellence, as the French say, those who become thus poor may verify the poet's line,

“ Cantabit vacuus coram Latrone viator."


It teaches to live without injuring others, honest, and noble ; and as Pedro Messie of Seville says,

Death is not a misfortune unless when it finds men in a wrong state.” It teaches to live according to the ancient Christian notions of goodness and honour, which are popular to this day; and we have already seen that, as St. Gregory says, “ Ostensa nobis est de contemptu mortis via quam sequamur."

It teaches to sow, as it were, generosity, innocence, sweetness of manner, respect, and piety, in view to what may be gathered at the end, according to the sacred text, “ Et ros morabitur in messione mea ;" on which St. Anthony of Padua says, “ The harvest is the season of death to the just, or of their migration hence, and then the dew remains with them ; that is, the felicity of the eternal vision associates their soul with the happiness of that dew*." Caxton's Art and Craft to Know well to Die begins thus : “ When it is so, that, what a man maketh or doeth it is made to come to some end, and if the thing be good and well made, it must needs come to good end; then by better and greater reason, every man ought to intend in such wise to live in this world that he may come to a good end. And then out of this world, full of wretchedness and tribulations, he may go to heaven unto God and bis saints, unto joy perdurable.” We cannot avoid, then, pausing a moment here to mark the contrast in regard to the manner of viewing death between those who systematically, uninterruptedly reject, and those who embrace, or at intervals embrace, or wish to embrace, that moral discipline which has its centre, as we observed on former roads, in the Catholic religion.

“ However astonishing,” says Sir William Hamilton, “it is now proved, beyond all rational doubt, that in certain abnormal states, perceptions are possible through other than the ordinary channels of the senses. It seems admitted by all physiologists, that extraordinary faculties are sometimes exhibited in dying. When we die, the mask of this earthly body falls away, and the truth shows nakedly. “ There is no more disguise,” adds a

* Dom. xiv. post Trinitat.

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