« PoprzedniaDalej »
according to the custom in hot countries, which was called the meridian. Others employed this time in walking and conversing, except on those days when a general silence was enjoined. Thus Socrates speaks of himself as peonuBpráśwv under a plane-tree. The ancients held that even the gods reposed at this hour. At one o'clock, none, or the ninth hour, was sung in the choir, as were vespers at three. At five they met in the refectory to partake of a slender supper, consisting chiefly, both as to victuals and drink, of what was saved out of the meal at noon, except on fastingdays, when nothing, or next to nothing, was allowed to be taken. The intermediate spaces were occupied with reading or with manual labour. After the evening refection, a spiritual conference or collation was held until the office called complin began, towards the end of which the gates of the monastery were closed, that the porter might come into the church for the benediction at seven o'clock, when all retired to their respective dormitories, which were long galleries, containing as many beds as could be ranged in them, separated from each other by thin boards or curtains. It was a romantic thought, that the wild beasts of the surrounding forest were leaving their dens to go about, the lions roaring for their prey, at the very time when these holy men and devout sisters were passing into the chapel for their last evening service; it was a thought suggested by the very words of the office : “Fratres, sobrii estote et vigilate : quia adversarius vester diabolus, tanquam leo rugiens, circuit quærens quem devoret.” After complin, silence was observed till the verse “ Pretiosa” at prime the next morning.
Martene shews,2 that before the invention of clocks, the monks watched the course of the stars, or the burning of a taper, or the first crowing of the cock, to know when to sound the bell for matins. Two monks used to watch the whole of each night. Public exhortations were made by the abbot either in the church or the chapter-house, or in some public place. There were also disputations on certain days of the week. Feria secunda, or Monday, was chiefly devoted to prayer for benefactors. On All Souls' day there was a large distribution of alms to the poor.
| Theocritus, Idyl. i. 16.
Monks frequently died in the church : when weak and
poor for the good of his soul ; and in the place which he used to occupy in the refectorium, a small cross was to be placed, to remind the monks of his death, and that they might more ardently pray for him. Hermits wore a particular habit as early as the beginning of the fourth century. The early monks, like St. Antony, were laymen. Monks wore their habit, as Martene says,
as the sign of innocence and humility.” Even temporal men, if introduced to dine in the refectory, were obliged to put on the pallium. No one was admitted wearing spurs." In times of affliction, there were three Psalms chanted : “ Domine, quid multiplicasti? Deus, noster refugium ; Ad te levavi ;” while the monks remained prostrate on the ground. On the death of a brother, the seven Psalms, with the Litany, were thus sung. The custom of chanting alternate verses is as old as St. Ignatius, or even as the Apostles' time. The porter, who had to entertain the servants of the guests, was to be ready early in the morning with a lantern, to light the strangers into the church before they departed.? The ostiarius, or guardian of guests, was to take care that before strangers went
i Guidonis Disciplina Farfensis, c. 52.
away, their horses were fresh shod, if they had need of new shoes. The stable-keeper was to supply them with spurs or staffs. The eleemosynarius was to take charge of strangers who travelled on foot. And once every week the almoner was to go through the town with his servants with bread, and meat, and wine, to give to poor housekeepers, and console them.3 Monks were to serve the sick, as of Christ, not seeking the honour of the world.4 Thus, besides supporting poor destitute people, the abbey of St. Germain des Près used to maintain several poor families privately, who were too modest to shew their poverty. The abbots were to take care that the monks spent their time usefully during the intervals of divine service. Before the sun set, a monk who had a difference with any one was to entreat his reconciliation. In the Pater Noster at complin, a long pause was to be made at - dimitte nobis debita nostra." “Let charity,” say some rules, “abound with the monks, so that if one should be absent about the common good for any time, all may long for his return, as a mother would for that of her only
A monk, on setting out on a journey, or on return, was to receive a blessing. On their journey, when the regular hours arrived, they were to alight from their horses and kneel down, and make the sign of the cross and their confession ; and then mounting again, they were to proceed on their way, singing their hours, laying their whips aside out of their hands during the time. Thus it is related of St. Germain, bishop of Paris, that while on a journey he would recite the divine office bareheaded, though in rain or snow.
When a king, or a bishop, or a great lord, was approaching a monastery, the abbot and his monks arranged a procession, and met him in solemn order. arrived at the monastery, portions of the Divine Law were read, and also other instructions. The reader will find these “ Lectiones coram hospitibus recitari solita” in the
1 S. Wilhelmi Constitut. Hirsangiensis.
Vetus Disciplina Monastica. One is for the occasion of a visit from a pope, bishop, or abbot, beginning, “ Vos estis sal terræ; . . . . ut si quis sacerdoti jungitur, quasi ex salis tactu æternæ vitæ sapore condiatur.” Another is on the arrival of a priest or clerk, beginning, “ Apostolica, dilectissimi, doctrina nos admonet, ut deponentes veterem hominem cum actibus suis, de die in diem sancta conversatione renovemur.” Another is for the arrival of a layman: “Those whom necessity binds to the world, seeing that they cannot leave the world, should take care so to hold the goods of this world as not to succumb to them through infirmity of mind. Ponder, then, on these things; and sith you cannot forsake all the things of this world, execute well outwardly your external affairs, and hasten ardently within to those which are eternal. There is nothing which should retard the desire of your mind : let no pleasures engage you closely to this world. If good is the object of your love, the mind will delight in the best and heavenly good: if evil be dreaded, eternal evils are placed before your mind, that it may love and fear the more, and that its affections may not be fixed here. For this purpose, we beseech the Mediator of God, and the Assister of men, through whom we shall obtain all things speedily, if we love him with a true love." Another address was for the occasion of a visit from a prince of the kingdom : .“ He who holds the place in this world of a prince or a judge should learn what is good should seek judgment, relieve the oppressed, sustain the orphan and the widow." Another was for the arrival of a king or great general : “A prince and judge should in the first place study to observe judgment and justice in his own actions, sacrificing daily the sacrifice of justice, and offering the oblation of mercy.' It would be curious to compare these addresses with those which kings and princes are now in the habit of receiving. Upon the arrival of a counsellor or minister of state, the parable of the talents was read. Lastly, there was a lesson to be ad on the arrival of a strange monk: “Voluptatibus propriis studeat renuntiare : ut qui superbus erat, sit humilis ; qui iracundus est, esse studeat mansuetus. Nam si ita quisque renuntiet, quæ pos
1 P. 586.
sedit, omnibus, ut suis non renuntiet moribus ; non est Christi discipulus.” What a spirit of holy antiquity have you in all this! These lessous convey a faithful picture of the virtues of the different ranks of society in the middle ages, and they shew what was thought suitable to each particular rank of life. When I visited a convent of Trappists, in Picardy, on the river Somme, I was led into a spacious hall, where, after a short time, one of the brethren entered, prostrated himself on the ground, then rose and made signs to me to sit, while he read in French the chapter on charity, in the De Imitatione Christi. These mortified penitents placed the perfection of Christianity in love!
I shall say but few words on the learning of the monastic orders. When William II. count of Nevers, sent a magnificent present of plate to the monks of the grand Chartreuse, they returned it, says Guibert de Nogent, and begged in preference that he would give them parchment to copy books upon. The count retired amongst them in 1147. Before the tenth century, the monks of Cassino, in Italy, were distinguished for science and polite learning. What fruits of learned retirement were produced in the cloisters of St. Germain des Près, at Paris ! Here the monks had a printing-press, immediately after the invention of printing Warton, in his Dissertation on the Introduction of Learning into England, is obliged to confess that “ the literature of the monks was of a more liberal cast” than that which his party generally ascribed to them. Ginguéné also admits that we owe all the remains of classical antiquity to the monks. The monk Barlaam is allowed by all historians to have acted the principal part in the restoration of Greek literature in Italy. What men were Cassiodorus in the age of Theodoric, and Constantine the African in the 17th century, who both took refuge in the monastery of Mount Cassino ; Bede, who had never been out of his monastery of Weremouth ; Roger Bacon in his cell at Oxford ; Father Rodrigo de Corcuera, who invented a clock-mill; Pope Silvester II., who made clocks and organs worked by steam! Fleurya complains of Bede, Alcuin, Hincman, and Gerbert, that, after all their researches
1 Hist. Lit. de l'Italie, i. 49.
2 Troisième Discours.