Obrazy na stronie

Othgerii militis et Benedicti ejusdem socii;"} and afterwards were twice put into French verse by Raymbert de Paris, and Adams. The prose translation is of the 15th century. The author of the Fleur des Histoires d'Orient was an Armenian, nephew to the king of that country, named Haycon, who, having been baptised with all his family, made war against the Mahometans for a considerable time. The author served in these wars, and was rewarded with the lordship of Gourchy; but peace being at length effected, he indulged his love for devotion, and became a monk in Egypt, whence he was sent by his superiors to Pope Clement V. then at Avignon, who induced him to write his memoirs, and made him abbot of a monastery in Poitiers, where he composed his book, in the year 1305. I find in the Bibliothèque Instructive, by De Bure, a book thus entitled, “ L'Ordre de Chevalerie, composé par ung Chevalier lequel en sa vieillesse fut hermite.”2 Brother Gobert, who served God in a Cistertian monastery of Brabant, had been a great knight in his day. He had entered this house after making a pilgrimage to Jerusalem, and to St. James of Compostella. He is described as having been “vir potens in omni virtute secundum sæculum, corpore robustus, aspectu tremebundus, verbo terribilis, præpotens viribus, quasi comes famosissimus; se a laicis amplexibus subducit," and after renouncing the world, as having become a man of God, “pensans mundanam militiam et omnem mundi gloriam esse ut pulverem ante faciem venti.”3

Evrard, Earl of Mons, was so touched with compunction for a sin he had committed in war in Brabant, that on his return homewards from that expedition, having disguised himself in mean apparel, he set out at midnight, and, unknown to any one, performed a penitential pilgrimage to Rome and Compostella. After his return, he hired himself in the same spirit of penance to keep swine under the lay-brothers, in a farm belonging to the Abbey of Morimond. Some years had elapsed, when a servant of two officers who had been under his command in the army, coming to this farm to inquire the road, knew him by his

1 MS. of St. Germain des Près, No. 1607. 2 Lyon, 1510. 3 Hist. Monasterii Villariensis, ii. 2, apud Marteni Thesaurum.

voice and features, and went in surprise and told his masters, who rode up to the place; and though he at first strove to disguise himself, they knew him to be the earl, and dismounting, embraced him with tears of joy, and all possible marks of respect. The abbot, hearing of the discovery, came down to the farm, and learned the history, from the holy penitent's own mouth, who confessed his sin to him with a flood of tears. The abbot persuaded him to take the religious habit. Evrard received the advice with great humility and joy; and, acknowledging himself most unworthy, made his monastic profession. About the same time he founded the abbey of Einberg in Germany, and that of Mount St. George in Thuringia: this was in 1142. Godefroi, Count of Westphalia, retired from the world, and became a monk under St. Norbert. Thibaud, Count of Champagne, wished to follow his example; but St. Norbert represented to him that he could be of more use with his vast possessions and holy purposes, by continuing to govern his domains as God had designed. Frere Angelus Joyeuse, a capuchin friar, the friend of St. Francis de Sales, had been a duke and mareschal of France. Brother Nicholas von de Flue, a native of the Canton of Unterwalden, had been a great captain in the Swiss wars, distinguished for valour and humanity: he had married, and was the father of ten children. Finally he became a hermit, and retired into the deep sequestered valley of Ranfft, where I have seen his little chapel, and his poor hermitage adjoining, shaded by thick trees, and almost overhung by immense rocks, with a clear brook running at the bottom. It was from this cell that he came forth, and presented himself like an apparition before the council of the contending cantons assembled at Stantz; and there, by his moving eloquence and holy aspect, he restored peace, and saved his country. In the year of our Lord 1185, the monastery of St. Pedro de Cardenna, where the body of the Cid Campeador lay, was governed by an abbot whose name was Don Juan. He was a good man, and a Hidalgo, and stricken in years : he had been a doughty man in arms in his day, as was well shewn at the time when he recovered the booty which King Don Sancho was carrying away. All the world has

| Hist. des Comtes de Champagne, tom. i. 188.

heard of the renowned Sir Guy, or William, Earl of Warwick, how he became a hermit, and died in a cave of craggy rock, a mile distant from Warwick.

[ocr errors][merged small]

When Tirante the White arrived at his hermitage, the noble hermit was engaged in the perusal of L'Arbre des Batailles, of which he proceeded to read him a chapter; and on dismissing his guest, he made him a present of the book, to be his manual. On another occasion, he was overjoyed at hearing Tirante and Diofebo talk of chivalry ; and these brave knights spent ten days in his cell, relating adventures, and hearing the good advice of the holy father. In the Book of Heroes, Wolfdietrich resigns the empire to his son, and proceeds to the monastery of Tuskal, dedicated to St. George; which stood at the very farthest extremity of Christendom. Here, laying his arms and his golden crown upon the altar, he became a monk, and led a most holy life, though he had an occasion once more to take up arms and defend the abbey. Humbert, after contemplating the deserts of the Chartreuse from the summit of Saint Lynard, resigned the crown of Dauphiné to lead a religious life in that monastery. Clodoalde, or St. Cloud, the grandson of Clovis, was a royal hermit, who lived in the depths of the forest in the country which yet bears his name. In Perceforest, the hermit Pergamon, who lived in the forest near Perdrac, had been the only knight who escaped from Troy: he came with Brutus to Great Britain, where he was a renowned knight; and he loved all brave men so, that he would ride a hundred leagues to see one. At length he married, and had children, and gave them his lands, and became a knight in prowess of soul, to serve God in retirement: so he withdrew into this deep wood, and lived in solitude forty years, with only two servants; one to kill venison, and the other to dress it. When his nephews and nieces all came to see him, he received them graciously.

They saluted him, saying, “Sire, Dieu vous doint sa grace et bonne vie.” He replied, “ Seigneurs, si j'avoye sa grace, je auroye bonne vie ;" and then, weeping for joy, he kissed them all, one after another; and though this was his alternate day of fasting, yet would he now eat, “par charité ;” and then he advised his nephews, saying, “ Vous venez du lignage dont sont issus maints bons chevaliers preux et hardis; or faictes tant que vous resemblez vostre bon lignage.” Here, again, there is an ancient warrior become hermit, who does not seem to have forgotten his temporal chivalry; for Pergamon goes to see the tournament. It was such instances which made the Church rather unwilling to receive knights into holy orders. For the first five centuries, soldiers could not be ordained :: however, when the Emperor Mauritius, by an absurd and impious usurpation of spiritual authority, forbade any to be admitted among the clergy, or into monasteries, who had been in the military service, St. Gregory the Great made the strongest remonstrance against his edict, saying, It is not agreeable to God: seeing by it the way to heaven was shut to several ; for many cannot be saved unless they forsake all things. The emperor, though much displeased, consented to such mitigations as the Pope pointed out. It was required that a careful examination should be instituted as to their motives for taking holy orders; and they were not allowed to profess, till after a novitiate of three years. If, after becoming monks, they led a holy life, the Pope allowed them to be ordained priests. This was a happy and wise conclusion; for if men in holy orders should be weaned from the love of this world, and practically convinced of the truths which they have to announce, the experience of an active life may be an useful qualification for those who undertake this sacred office. Apres tout, il n'y a de vraie joie que celle d'aimer Dieu," was the lesson derived from a long acquaintance with the world, and not from mere study and reflection; therefore it would be wrong to discourage those who may have purchased this great advantage from apply. ing it to so excellent a purpose ; for what is learning, in comparison with this holiness and wisdom? But to proceed with examples :—Sir Baldwin Montfort having become

Thomassin, ii. i. 66.

[merged small][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors]

a widower, betook himself to a religious life in the 39th year of King Henry VI. He gave to Simon, his son and heir, the manor of Hampton in Arden, reserving only for himself wherewithal to nourish another priest and six children, celebrating divine service for the rest of his life, and styling himself “ Knight and Priest.” He died in the 14th year of Edward IV. Gaston II. count of Foix, father of the celebrated Gaston Phoebus, was buried in the abbey of Bolbonne, in Spain, in the monastic habit, after a life of military renown. The example of Charles V. is too memorable to be passed over; and the circumstances of his retirement have been so disguised by English writers, that I conceive the reader will be pleased with a few sentences from the original authorities. Godelevæus! says that the emperor was partly actuated by the desire of imitating his predecessors, Lothaire, Theodosius III., Michael Curopalates, Alexius Mostelus Manuel, John Cantacuzenus, and John Palæologus; but the continuator of Mariana ascribes to him the saying, “Sibi Deoque in posterum victurus, ut procul negotiis reliquum vitæ pietatis studiis daret, seque ad

supremum certamen, quod jam imminere videbat, mature accingeret.” Looking upon his son Philip, he burst into tears, saying, “ that he pitied the lot of his dearest son, because he was about to sustain such a burden."2 Godelevæus says that he had made up his mind to retire from the world thirty years before he put his plan in execution; and Strada also says, that he was resolved upon it at the period of his greatest glory, which was about ten years before. It has been said that he repented having abdicated; but the testimony of Strada is strong to warrant a contrary opinion: “ Mihi certe in dicta factaque Caroli, toto illo privatæ vitæ biennio inspicienti, libellosque et commentarios super eo secessu cum cura et ratione volutanti, nusquam profecto vestigium ullum ejusmodi pænitentiæ compertum est.' His monastery was not far from Placentia, in a valley surrounded with rocks and woods, remarkable for its delicious climate, and for the beauty of its scenery, its hills, fountains, and rivers. It was here where Sertorius is said to have been slain. Strada gives a minute description of his cells and garden : “ There were

1 Apud Goldast. Politica Imperial.
2 Lib. v. 197.

3 Lib. i. 5.


« PoprzedniaDalej »