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Nor shall these souls be free from pains and fears,
It is not strange that Catholicism should yield such themes as Isabella's fate, when we know that it provides a tear with supplications even for an enemy. When news of the death of Ranulf, earl of Chester, at Wallingford, came to Hubert de Bourg, and they told him that one of his greatest enemies had died, he sighed deeply, and said, “ May the Lord have pity on him! He was my man by putting his hands within mine. Yet he never served me when he could injure me.” Then he took up a psalter, and kneeling before the altar of the chapel in which, though in sanctuary, he was besieged by the king, he read the holy book from beginning to end, praying piously for Ranulf's soul *. Judging from history alone, it is evident that Catholicism impresses men with a strong sense of duty in regard to a memory of the dead generally associated with prayer. A curious instance fraught with the old simplicity is given in the Magnum Speculum. A certain knight,” says its author, "retained in all his actions such pious solicitude for the departed, that he had made a law to himself never to pass a church without standing with his face turned towards the east, and saying a pater noster for the souls of the faithful. On one occasion, his enemies laying snares for him, he saw himself near being surrounded, and found that he could only escape death by fight. As he fled he chanced to pass the wall of a cemetery, and having no other means of escape he leaped over it ; but notwithstanding all his haste and alarm while crossing it, he remembered his custom, which he decided on observing, though he were to perish on the graves over which he prayed ; so stopping and turning to the east, he prayed with so much the more fervour as he believed it was for the last time. The enemies came upon him, and seeing him thus stand were stupified. It is added that at the same moment, thinking that they beheld a vision of armed men appearing around him, they filed in the utmost consternation, leaving him after his prayer to regain his home in safety t."
Every one knows that the doctrinal foundation of this practice, existing from all antiquity in the Eastern as well as in the Western Church, has been taken away by the modern guides, who unfortunately may be said, without infringing truth, to be graduates in the unamiable science of reducing to a system insensibility and oblivion in regard to the dead. It is, however, observable that a sense of inconsistency, and of wanting some opinion to sustain the natural effusions of their own hearts, occasionally seems to press upon those who are placed by circum
• Ad ann, 1232.
+ p. 193.
stances under their direction ; for how readily are their tongues found to utter such sentences as
plain, well-meaning soul ! Whom fair befal in heaven ’mongst happy souls !” Even as we pass now under these mourning boughs, do we not hear the popular voice of England singing of our late illustrious warrior such lines as
“ Doubtless he owned to sins and wrongs,
Like all beside that live;
His ill may God forgive *?" The street literature is an index of the popular sentiment. It must be such, we are told, as the patterers or street songsters approve of, and such as the street buyers will buy t. We find it on this occasion not only sanctioning, but offering prayer for the dead ; for in another of these pieces, composed for the people by some humble poet who consults their hearts, and what nature all the world over recognizes instinctively as true, rather than Lambeth, we find these lines : “In glory and fame he'll no more march again,
Our noble old Duke, God rest him !
Our gallant old Duke, God rest him !” The truth is, that the Catholic doctrine on this point agrees with one of the instinctive beliefs of man. Although,” to use the words of a philosopher, “in high states of civilization individuals may be found possessing warped and inert spiritualities, just as highly pampered hounds lose their instincts, who profess to be superior to the spiritual law of their nature ; yet with the generality of meu nature will assert her sway, and they possess an instinctive tendency to believe that the dead should be prayed for, whenever that great doctrine is proposed to them.” There is no reasoning required, no proofs demanded, no inquiry made, no desire of explanation ; the instant that the announcement reaches the mind, that same instant it is received. The heart and mind, therefore, by responding naturally to the Catholic doctrine which provides prayer for the dying and the dead, find an issue even amidst these last scenes of life to the centre. They will be moved by such remonstrances as were addressed by the Strasburg theologian to one of the chief magistrates of that
city, saying to him, “ If you remain separated, you will be abandoned after your death ; and when you are no longer seen, men will no longer think of you. The universal practice of the primitive Church will cease in regard to you.” They will reflect on this, and say, “ Those who separate themselves from the chair of unity, whatever poetry may demand, will not pray for us ; and if we remain separated, those who hold to it cannot pray for us in a public commemoration, and even secretly cannot feel strongly impelled to make us the object of a solicitude which we seem by anticipation to have rejected.” Ives de Chartres says that “the living cannot have communion with the dead, with whom, while they lived, the others had no communion, for the Church can only bind and loose what is on earth ; and that to the divine judgment, therefore, must be referred all things which have not been terminated during life by human judgment*.” The same admonition is conveyed, though in a less direct manner, by the Church herself, when she prays, in her solemn office after mass for the dead, that the departed may find mercy, using, but no doubt without anticipating a literal or narrow interpretation, these impressive words, which the occasion only, and not any exceptionless dogma, seems naturally to suggest to her : “Ut sicut hic eum vera fides junxit fidelium turmis, ita eum illic tua miseratio societ choris angelicis f.” Probably not a few men have been in the end induced by such considerations to seek their ancient mother ; judging that she must be the true mother who has such tender care for them in their last moments, who salutes with fragrant incense even their poor inanimate remains, who pays the same symbolical honours to their grave, seeking to encompass it with respect and even beauty, while, in solicitude for their departed soul, she has tears for the term that nature dictates, and prayers and sacrifice for ever. Late, though still in time, comes then the pain of truth to whom it is pain; betraying by such a feeling their last folly, and oh, what folly!
“For to bear all naked truths,
And to envisage circumstance, all calm,
That is the top of sovereignty." The ancient mother thus receives every day the tardy homage of the dying, who say to those whom she commissions,
“A cloudy mist of ignorance, equal to
• Iv. Carnot. Epist. 96.
Defunctis. VOL. VII.
With reverence I look up to: direct me,
In death I will be thine." In fine, providing for the last wants of the body, Catholicism supplies men with a decorous burial, and, wherever it is possible, with an inviolable grave. Now, like the sensitive plant as described by the poet, methinks we feel the sound of the funeral chant,
“ And the steps of the bearers, heavy and slow,
And the subs of the mourners, deep and low." Cicero speaks of funerals where robbers and spoilers preying on the dead, rather than friends sympathizing, attended-funeral, indeed! he exclaims, “si funus id habendum sit, quo non amici conveniunt ad exsequias cohonestandas, sed bonorum emptores ut carnifices ad reliquias vitæ lacerandas et distrahendas *." We, too, on occasions of burial call about us a set of officious mechanics of all sorts, who, as a late writer says, “are counting their shillings, as it were, by the tears that we shed, and watching with jealousy every candle's end of their perquisites ;” but Catholicism seeks to obviate such evils. It collects the friends of the deceased, as in all countries where its customs last ; for to seek privacy would be to diminish supplicants ; and therefore those who in life were hidden are followed by many to their graves, as when the Queen Mary de Medicis, with many princesses and great ladies of the court, assisted at the interment of Sister Anne des Anges, a Carmelite nun; but in general it in. spires men with aversion for expensive obsequies, and makes them desire, like the noble Queen Eleanor, dowager of France and Portugal, and sister of the Emperor Charles V., that their interment should be simple, and that the money which more sumptuous obsequies would cost should be given to the poor.
Plebei parvæ funeris exsequiæ," is the wish of the poet for himself t, which most persons influenced by central principles would express as their own. Nero burned in one day, at the funeral of Poppæa, more odoriferous spices than Arabia Felix produces in a year. Catholicism renders men apt to dislike and abhor such extravagance. It even not uncommonly inspires words like those of Menaphon, in the Lover's Melancholy,
• Pro Quintio.
+ Propert, üi.
When I am dead,
In antic trappings. Scorn to useless tears !" The general of the Jesuits is entitled to no high funeral office ; it is only a low mass which is said for him, as for the poorest of the common people. The Archduchess Mary of Austria ordered that her body should be buried by night, with only a few assistants and only one or two torches, in the church of St. Clare ; 80 that her contempt of the world might be manifested even in the funeral *.
At the same time, there is no such master as Catholicism for teaching the art of showing with true magnificence respect to the dead who are entitled by general opinion to peculiar honours ; and to whom, for the sake of the living, it is sometimes wise to pay them. Allusion has been just made to the death of the illustrious warrior whom our whole nation sought to honour at his obsequies. May one be pardoned for returning to the subject, in order to observe how natural it is to refer to the Catholic Church at such a moment to ask for precedents and rules respecting such a ceremony, when men's hearts are set upon having it produced in the highest perfection? For, after all, mere mortuary hangings and triumphal cars, lighted tapers, inspiring, as we are told, “great satisfaction in the spectators," and the long train of noble mourners, who have nothing to do but to evince the dejected behaviour of the visage, together with all forms, modes, and shows of grief, as if with veiled lids seeking for him they loved and honoured in the dust, signify but little, when the idea that would have given eloquence to all these things is gone with the prayer which they were only intended to assist or to signify. The multitude, instinctively guided in its taste towards truth, seems to look on all sides in hopes of discovering some trace of that religious symbolism which speaks to the heart. But in vain. All is cold, stately, official. “As is remarked by a contemporary, Pericles or Scipio might have been borne along in the same manner. So it is also when a poet dies. Like Orpheus of Thrace, the Muses may bury him with his golden lyre, but many reflect how much more to the purpose it would be to hear sung “requiem æternam.” Truly it is on these occasions that the noblest and most illus,
* Drexel. Rose Select. Virt., P. i. c. 12.