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membrance of such men as that monk of the golden Isles, who lived, towards the end of the fourteenth century, in the monastery of St. Honorat,' off the coast of Provence, in one of the Lerine islands, whence in the spring and autumn he used to go alone into one of the delicious islands of Hieres, where was a little hermitage amidst the leafy houses of birds, where he used to observe their beautiful plumage, and the different little animals which resorted there, that he might paint them in the margins of illuminated missals ? René of Anjou possessed his book of hours. Yoland of Arragon loved his company, tant sage,
beau et prudens il estoit,” says C. Nostradamus. With what reverence does one read of St. Wiro, a holy Irish bishop, who travelled to Rome, and afterwards preached the faith of Christ to the Pagans in the Low Countries; Prince Pepin of Herstat, a great admirer of his sanctity, bestowing on him a lonely wood, called St. Peter's Mount, now St. Odilia, near the river Roer, a league from Ruremond, and repairing to him often barefoot to confess his sins, till, broken by old age
and austerities, the holy man departed to our Lord in the seventh century? Or of Sigebert, who came out of France, and preached in the deserts of Rhetia, having a little chapel in the savage spot where now stands the convent of Disentis? With what interest do we read of Olaf, a sea-king in the tenth century, who, after being the scourge of Friesland, Saxony, Flanders, Scotland, the Hebrides, Ireland, Wales, Cumbria, and Normandy, happening to anchor off the Scilly Isles, was converted to Christianity by the lessons of a hermit who lived there in great sanctity! How we must admire the zeal of the first Christians, when we read of St. Euthymus and St. Teoctistus, who inhabited a lonely cell two leagues from Jerusalem, and who, every year, on the day after the Epiphany, used to retire into the depths of the desert to prepare for Easter, and then to return on Palm Sunday to celebrate the Resurrection! What images of ancient holiness are recalled at the mention of Heiligland, the Sacred Island, in the North Sea, once famous for its monastery, which had on its banner a ship in full sail, the ancient seat of our Saxon forefathers, once frequented by the sea-kings! Who would not wish to behold my
1 This celebrated abbey was founded about 401.
grandfather's isle of Arran, where St. Alban, in the sixth century, founded a great monastery, from which the island was long called Arran of Saints? Here, indeed, rolls an
outrageous sea, dark, wasteful, wild ;” but hear what the poet says:
I love all waste
More barren than its billows. Nor does a more exact detail of the lives and manners of religious men impair this poetic interest which they are sure to inspire, whether they are presented to us in real history, or in the page of wild romance. When Amadis, after the fatal mistake of Oriana, came up to a fountain, he saw an old man in a religious habit, who was giving his ass water; his beard and hair were grey, and his habit was very poor, being made of goat's hair. Amadis saluted him, and asked him if he was a priest. The good man answered, he had been one forty years.
“ God be praised !" quoth Amadis : « I beseech you, for the love of God, stay here to-night, and hear my confession, of which I am in great
“ In God's name !" said the old man. Then Amadis alighted, laid his arms upon the ground, and took the saddle from his horse, and let him feed; and he disarmed, and knelt before the good man, and began to kiss his feet. The good man took him by the hand and raised him up, and made him sit by him; and beholding him well, he thought him the goodliest knight that ever he saw; but he was pale, and his face and neck were stained with tears ; so that the old man had great pity, and said, “Sir knight, it seems that great affliction : : if it be for
sin that you have committed, and these tears spring from repentance, in a happy hour came you here; but if it be for any worldly concerns, from which, by your youth and comeliness, it seems you cannot be removed, remember God, and beseech him, of his mercy, to bring you to his service.” He then raised his head and blessed him, and Amadis began the whole discourse of his life. “Good sir," said he, “ I am now in such extremity, that I cannot live
Shelley, Julian and Maddalo.
you are in
any long time: I beseech you, by that God whose faith you hold, take me with you for the little while I have to live, that I may have comfort for my soul. My horse and arms I need no longer; I will leave them here, and
you on foot, and perform whatever penitence you enjoin. If you refuse, you will sin before God; for else I shall wander and perish in this mountain.” When the good man saw him thus resolute, he said to him, with a heart wholly bent to his good, “ Certes, sir, it becomes not a knight like you to abandon himself as if he had lost the whole world by reason of a woman. You who are of such prowess and have such power—you who are the true and loyal protector of such as are oppressed - great wrong would it be to the world, if you thus forsake it.” “Good sir,” quoth Ama
“I ask not your counsel upon this, where it is not wanted; but for my soul's sake, I pray you, take me in your company, for else I shall have no remedy but to die in this mountain.” The old man hearing this, had such compassion on him, that the tears fell down his long white beard. “Sir, my son,” said he, “I live in a dreary place, and a hard life; my hermitage is full seven leagues out at sea, upon a high rock, to which no ship can come, except in summer time. I have lived there these thirty years, and he who lives there must renounce all the pleasures and delights of the world; and all my support is the alms which the people of the land here bestow upon me."
“I promise you," said Amadis, “this is the life I desire for the little while I shall live; and I beseech you, for the love of God, let me go with you.” The good man, albeit against his will, consented; and Amadis said, “Now, father, command me what to do, and I will be obedient.” The good man gave him his blessing, and said vespers; and then taking bread and fish from his wallet, he bade Amadis eat; but Amadis refused, though he had been three days without tasting food. “You are to obey me," said the good old
man, « and I command you to eat, else your soul will be in great danger if you die.” Then he took a little food; and when it was time to sleep, the old man spread his cloak, and laid him down thereon; and Amadis laid himself down at his feet. On arriving at the sea-side, they found a bark, on which they crossed over to the hermitage. Beltenebros (for this was the name given him by the her
mit) asked the good man what was his own name, and the name of his abode.
“They call my dwelling-place,” said he, Poor Rock, because none can live there without enduring great poverty: my own name is Andalod; I was a clerk of some learning, and spent my youth in many vanities, till it pleased God to awaken me, and then I withdrew to this solitary abode ; for thirty years I have never left it, till now that I went to the burial of my sister.” At length they reached the rock, and landed, and the mariners returned to the main land; and there Amadis, now called Beltenebros, remained on the Poor Rock, partaking the austerities of the hermit.1
So far the romance; but what fiction can excite greater interest than is produced by the real history of Father Thomas, of Jesus, of the order of the hermits of St. Augustine, whose work on the Sufferings of Christ, written in Portuguese, and translated into many languages, has lent wings to many a soul now in the bliss of Paradise ? This holy hermit was son of Ferdinand Alvarez de Andrada, of one of the chief families in Portugal. In 1578 King Don Sebastian made him quit his solitude, and accompany him on that unfortunate expedition into Africa; he was made prisoner on the day when the king was slain ; and it was in a dungeon, in chains, without clothes, and with but little food, that he wrote this admirable book, writing only in the middle of the day, by the help of a faint light which he received through an air-hole. On being sold to a merchant, he made it his care to instruct the
Christian slaves, and to make many converts. He refused the offer of money which was collected in Portugal, and sent for his ransom; and he died on Easter Monday, pronouncing the name of Jesus, after having strengthened in the faith some miserable slaves who had been inclined to turn Mahometans through despair of otherwise obtaining freedom. The great Cardinal Ximenes, in the year of his professing the order of St. Francis, built with his own hands a hut in a thick unfrequented wood of chestnut-trees, and frequently spent in it many successive days in prayer and study. This he always described to be the happiest part of his life : in a late period of it, he declared that he would willingly ex
I Book ii. c. 6.
change all his dignities for his hut in the chestnut-wood. Alcuin's address to his cell, when he left it for the world, would indicate a similar feeling:
O mea cella, mihi habitatio dulcis amata,
Semper in æternum, ô mea cella, vale.
Silvula florigeris semper onusta comis.
Omne genus volucrum matutinas personat odas
Atque Creatorem laudat in ore Deum.
A poetical writer has drawn a beautiful picture, with the aid of a real hermit and a fictitious heroine. One night when the sorrowful Egilda, following the host of Charlemagne into Italy, had suffered her horse to take her into a deep wood, she was roused from her sad thoughts by the sound of a harp; she advanced, and saw an old man sitting near a cave in the rock. This was St. Sturmer, who, according to his pious custom, passed a part of the night in contemplating the stars, and in praising their Creator. This celebrated Christian, born in Germany, and educated in the monastery of Frislar, had left the cloister to dwell in the bosom of nature ; remaining sometimes on the summit of a rock -sometimes in the midst of a forest : a pilgrim he was all his days passing to eternity. He used to compound healing medicines; and this art, with the purity of his life, made his contemporaries imagine that he never failed to cure the sick. The good hermit lighted a fire, and received poor Egilda into his cell. At daybreak many sick people came; and in applying his remedies he would say, "Be healed, in the name of Jesus Christ.”l
When I travelled in Scotland, and was passing the Frith of Forth, I saw a little rocky desert island, called Inchcolm, where a hermit, dwelling in great poverty, received King Alexander I. when he was shipwrecked on its shore : after which a monastery was erected there. These holy men had even tenderness and affection for
brute animals. In the romantic legends of the chase, many a hermit comes out of his cell, pleading in behalf of the stag, which has taken refuge at his side to escape the hun
| La Gaule Poétique, ii. 110.