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into trunks of apparel, which can be done without going to a conjurer ; thank God they will no more be country gentlemen, unless Paris can be persuaded to stand in the country, say that 80 far as Longchamps, or so they may venture upon where the filly-foals come kicking in, with their manes and tails tied up in ribbons ; and that if country gentlemen be their greatest acquaintances, it is only in the capital they are good company, where to be seen with them is a kind of credit. They will grow weary, and it is quite natural that they should, even of palaces and castles, if they are not in a thick neighbourhood. What then would be to them a monastery in the wilderness? You may answer the question by citing the complaints of Charles V.'s knights and attendants on arriving at St. Yuste, whose discontent bordered on mutiny. “The chosen paradise of the master was regarded by them as a sort of hell upon earth.” After residing there some time, even the faithful Don Quixada, writing to Vazquez, says, “ This is a very lonely and doleful existence ; and if his majesty came here in search of solitude, by my faith he has found it! This is the most soli. tary and wretched life I have ever known, and quite insupportable to those who are not content to leave the world, which I, for one, am not content to do *.” So the friar Antonio de Guevara, in his usual mirthful style, writing to the Seigneur Rodrigo Marcion, rallies him on his regret at being confined to a monastery, by order of the judge, for not having punished a traitor, and says, “ Certes I am pleased at seeing you retired to the church in which you are, in which you will assist at masses which you had ceased to hear willingly. In that church you will enjoy other liberties ; for the sergeants will not take away your arms, nor will you have to rush through the town after the evening bell has sounded. You can, if you please, mount the towers and see how the great bells for festivals are rung; and
you will be able, without chaplains, to hear the benediction on Saturday evenings, to share in the offerings on Sunday, and to help in the procession of Monday for the departed ; so that you will not want the living to converse with, nor the dead for whom you can pray t." Quiet to quick bosoms is a hell,” says the poet. Founders of sects, and systems, sophists, bards, statesmen, votaries of pleasure in excess, all unquiet things need another element. Their breath is agitation and their life a storm, whereon they ride often to sink at last. Even the poetic lover of nature, if unacquainted with wants and resources arising originally out of Catholicism, will not prove to the end constant in his affection for such places. • By the lovers of virtue and of wit it will be solicitously asked,” says Johnson, “if Cowley,
* Stirling, Cloister Life of Charles V. + Lettres Dorées, liv. ii.
having at last gained his country retreat at Chertsey, was happy: Let them peruse one of his letters accidentally preserved, which I recommend to the consideration of all that may hereafter pant for solitude.” But there would be no end of instances. * That virginal balsamic air of mountains," says a great French author, “which ought to reanimate my force, rarefy my blood, uncloud my fatigued brain, give me an insatiable appetite and repose without dreams, does not produce any of these effects on me. I am as well in Paris as on the Alps."
The fact is, that many of the places in which originally monasteries were built-amidst those wilds which inspire terror, and those caves which seem unfathomable, and those mountains so varied and so sublime all that rugged majesty of rocks and toppling trees that twine their roots with stone in perpendicular places, where the foot of man would tremble could he reach them-had for their first and sole inhabitants, their first and sole admirers, the monks and hermits. It was the freeman of a monastic rule who first preferred the desert, saying with St. Bruno,
mihi mens est urbana relinquere tecta,
Venimus huc victuri omnes, simul et morituri *.” To the monks the retreat of the abbey, hid away in forests and mountains, was not alone deemed advantageous, but delightful. Conrad IX., abbot of Villars, son of the count of Seynens, afterwards successively abbot of Citeaux in 1209, cardinal legate of Bologna, and offered the popedom, when dying said, “ Utinam usque in hanc horam in Villari sub disciplina vixissem regulari, et cum culinæ hebdomadariis ibidem scutellas abluissem t." Gennadius describes his own coming to the desert in these words, inscribed on tablets, which are preserved as a great treasure in the monastery of St. Peter de Montibus : “ When I was under the obedience of my father abbot Arandiselus, in the monastery of Argeus, the solitary life greatly delighted me. Therefore, receiving a benediction, with twelve monks I proceeded to the desert of St. Peter de Montibus, where the first founder and possessor was St. Fructuosus. That place from time immemorial lay waste, covered with thorns and brushwood,
* Vicentinus Carthus, de Origine S. Carthus. Ordinis.
Vast trees also had grown up so as to conceal every thing. Then, with the Lord's assistance, I and my twelve brethren rebuilt this monastery, planted a vineyard, sowed trees, cultivated the ground, and did all that was necessary *" St. Bruno evinces a true taste for the pleasures resulting from the scenery of the desert. Writing to Radulphus, archbishop of Reims, he describes his own monastery in these terms : “In the borders of Calabria, with religious brethren, and some very learned men, who persevering in divine watches expect the return of their Lord, that when He knocketh they may immediately open to Him, I dwell in a hermitage sufficiently remote from all habitation of men ; of the beauty of which, the mildness of the air, the grateful plain stretching far amongst mountains, where are green meadows and flowery pastures, how can I worthily speak? Who can sufficiently describe the gentle swelling of the hills yielding such prospects over the depths of shaded valleys, with the lovely refreshment of the rivers, streams, and fountains ? Nor are wanting watered gardens, and the fertility of divers trees. But why dwell on these? for there are other delights of a prudent man, more grateful and useful, because divine ; though the infirm mind, fatigued by stricter discipline and spiritual studies, is often upraised and made to breathe again by these things. For if the bow be always bent, it becomes loose and less fit for use. But what of delight and utility the solitude and silence of the hermitage yields to its lovers, those only know who have experienced t." A recent poet, expressing his delight at visiting such places, says accordingly,
“ How fair must thou have been unto the eyes
Of wise ascetics old, if even me,
Can fill with such a calmness of delight !” Now this very appreciation of natural beauty by the monks has itself a certain signification, since it was not always from a mere poetic inspiration that they derived it, many of them being practical men, untrained to such associations. Let us hear the remarks of an eminent philosopher respecting it. "No description,” says Humboldt, “ of the eternal snows of the Alps when tinged in the morning or evening with a rosy hue, of the beauty of the blue glacier ice, or of any part of the grandeur of the scenery, of Switzerland, have reached us from the ancients, although statesmen and generals, with men of letters in their train, were constantly passing through Helvetia into Gaul. All * Yepes, Chron. Gen. ii. 209.
+ Epist. S. Brunonis, i.
these travellers think only of complaining of the difficulty of the way ; the romantic character of the scenery never seems to have engaged their attention. Julius Cæsar, returning to his legions in Gaul, employed his time while passing over the Alps in preparing a grammatical treatise de Analogia. With Chris tianity commenced a new race of observers. The tendency of the Christian mind was to show the greatness and goodness of the Creator from the order of the universe, and the beauty of nature ; and this desire to glorify the Deity through his works favoured a disposition for natural descriptions. St. Basil, after visiting the Christian hermitages of Cælo-Syria and Upper Egypt, withdrew into a wilderness near the Armenian river Iris. From there he writes to his friend St. Gregory of Nazianzum in these terms : “ I believe I have at last found the end of my wanderings—a place such as has often hovered before the fancy of us both—a high mountain clothed with thick forests, which shut me in as in a strong fortress. This wilderness is bounded by two deep ravines ; the river, precipitating itself foaming from the mountains, forms an obstacle difficult to overcome. My hut is so placed on the summit of the mountain that I overlook the extensive plain below, and the whole course of the Iris. This beautiful river, more rapid than any which I have ever seen, breaks against the jutting precipice, and throws itself foaming into the deep pool below to the mountain traveller an object on which he gazes with delight. Shall I describe to thee the fertilizing vapours rising from the moist earth, and the cool breezes from the water ? Shall I speak of the lovely songs of the birds, and of the profusion of flowers ? What charms me most of all is the undisturbed tranquillity of the district. It is only visited occasionally by hunters ; for my wilderness feeds deer, and herds of wild goats, not your bears and wolves. How should I exchange any other place for this ? Alemæon, when he had found the Echinades, would not wander farther.” Humboldt thus traces in the writings of the Christian fathers of the Church “ the fine expression of a love of nature, nursed in the seclusion of the hermitage * ;' and it may be remarked with pleasure, that as a kind of grateful acknowledgment the earliest landscapes, as in the paintings by John Van Eyck for the cathedral of Ghent, exhibit generally some of these religious lovers of natural scenery. It was thought, perhaps, that as landscape is created by the sun, as it is the light which constitutes the chief beauty of landscape-for a bed of dried canes in the Campagna of Rome is more lovely in its colours to an artist's eye than all the magnificence of nature on the northern side of the Alps,—so it is the
* Cosmos, ü.
sun of spiritual truth shining in the results of its creative spirit which enhances the beauty of the material world. The affection which wild and picturesque scenes of nature excited in men who, through religious motives, sought retreat, exclaiming as they left all things, O solitudinem sanguine meliorem, pacatioresque penatibus silvas!" can be traced in monastic literature down to the latest times.
“ See the hooded man !
Around embosom’d." Philoctetes—for poets, it must be owned, seem to have anticipated this love of natural beauty, at least theoretically—when he comes to take leave of his cave, breaks forth in lamentations. Farewell,” he cries, “ dear cavern,
χαΐρ', ώ μέλαθρον ξύμφρουρον έμοί ! farewell, nymphs of these humid meadows! farewell, resounding rocks, and ye sweet fountains which I never thought to leave *!” The Catholic religious man would have quitted such retreats with a regret that might have been expressed in language as poetical, invoking Him who had given to himself as well as to the happy birds their dwelling in the grove. St. Leger found abundant consolation at Luxeuil.
Undique quod tegitur sylvis frondentibus altis,
Lignifer, et gestans squamosos gurgite pisces.” So a late writer, describing the scenery round the abbey of Morimond, and speaking of the great lake formed by the monks above the abbey, extending at the upper end to the forest, says, “ The monks used to walk on the terrace of the causeway bordering this lake, where every thing breathed a sublime poetry; the song of birds, the moaning of the wind over the forest, the waves that murmured on the shore. The brethren who passed in boats from one side to another saw the heron hovering over its prey. This scene of water and wood, and these harmonies of solitude, transported the minds of the monks, and obtained for them the holy and delicious joys arising from the contemplation of nature and its Author t.” As a great writer would say, “ Loneliness-after all, the best of Muses—had stimulated