Obrazy na stronie
PDF
ePub

they knew nothing exactly.” Does he differ so much from them in that respect ? Did not a similar taste for universality distinguish the genius of Greece ? He sees nothing great in Albertus Magnus, but the size and number of his volumes. I have seen sentences of his which certainly indicate that he had his title from a different cause. Ginguéné acknowledges that the charges against St. Gregory the Great, by Brucker, on the testimony of John of Salisbury, who lived six centuries after him, are to be received with caution, and allowance for the prejudice of sect, Brucker being a disciple of the moderns.

We must not implicitly receive the evidence of Matthieu Paris against monks, nor of Pierre des Vignes, who complains even of the beauty of their buildings. Granting that their Latin style might not have been classical,—and do not let the moderns imagine that every sentence of theirs is Ciceronian, because it may end with “

esse videatur,”? — still men who could describe themselves thus

Visito, poto, cibo; redimo, tego, colligo, condo;

Consule, castiga, solare, remitte, fer, oradeserve better of mankind than those heartless pedantic scholars, who, like Laurentius Valla, Platina, and Politian, were so in love with the classics, that they grew ashamed of being Christians : they deserve to be esteemed wiser, as well as more virtuous, for

Knowledge dwells
In heads replete with thoughts of other men;
Wisdom, in minds attentive to their own.
Knowledge is proud that he has learned so much;
Wisdom is humble that he knows no more.!

There is such a thing as being “sapienter indoctus,” as Gregory the Great said of St. Benedict : and so that old man who used to converse with Petrarch at Milan on all subjects of philosophy and the Catholic faith, in reply to the question, “Where were all his books ?” (Petrarch had two waggons full of books always following him when he travelled), only pointed to his forehead and said, “ Hic et scientiam et libros habeo.”2 Nature, the universe, was a book which these holy men studied, as Job and David had

1 Cowper.

9 Petrarch. Variar. Epist. xi. 12.

in their day. St. Antony said that the whole world was his book. The monks, however, wrote books enough, many of which are a mine of wisdom, and where even the poet might borrow imagery. Massillon, in his celebrated sermon on the Passion, has availed himself of the sublime interpretations of many old monkish ascetical writings. Jaques de Guise, a Franciscan friar of the 14th century, displays vast research in his Annals, as well as great piety, and the most ardent love of his country. He had read Plato and many of the classic authors. The great historian, Zurita, spent the last years of his life in the convent of Jeronimites of St. Engracia, at Zaragoza. Roger Bacon shews how the saints have always valued science : he even requires mathematical study in a theologian, from his idea of the one wholeness of wisdom. He quotes the example of St. Augustine, Cassiodorus, Isidorus, St. Jerome, Orosius, Bede, Origen, Eusebius of Cæsarea; and he shews how, mathematics being neglected, philosophy falls to decay, and philosophy declining, theology suffers injury, which makes use of it in governing the Church, and in converting infidels.

“ And now from this science,” he says, “there will result a wonderful utility to the Church of God contra inimicos fidei ; destruendos magis per opera sapientiæ quam per arma bellica pugnatorum. Et hoc deberet Ecclesia considerare, contra infideles et rebelles, ut parcatur sanguini Christiano et maxime propter futura pericula in temporibus Antichristi, quibus cum Dei gratia facile esset obviare, si prælati et principes studium promoverent, et secreta naturæ et artis indagarent.” These words conclude the Opus Majus. The moderns should read the course of studies, including Greek and Hebrew, which required in monasteries of the congregation of St. Maur.? Al the schools in the monasteries were equally open, gratis, to the children of the nobility and the children of peasants : all received the same treatment.3 Charlemagne desired that the peasant boys should be promoted to the bishoprics and abbeys, if they made greater progress than the noble. Before his time, the schools had been in the houses of the curate, or archdeacon, or bishop. In these schools a happy spirit of gentleness and piety accompanied the instruction of

1 Opus Majus, iv. 1, 16. 2 Constitut. S. Mauri, 13-16.
3 Thomassin, ii, 1, 88-98.

were

1

the clergy. Classical learning and poetry, even the sciences, were still kept in subjection to the Christian faith. The last lines of the poem De Iride, by the Jesuit Noceti,' are an example; but the passage with which Roger Bacon concludes his Treatise on Optics, is still more remarkable: “Sicut nihil videmus corporaliter sine luce corporali, sic impossibile est nos aliquid videre spiritualiter sine luce spirituali divinæ gratiæ. Et sicut distantia corporis temperata requiritur ad visionem corporis, ut nec ex superflua distantia videatur, nec ex nimia appropinquatione, sic spiritualiter exigitur in hac parte ; nam elongatio a Deo per infidelitatem et multitudinem peccatorum tollit visionem spiritualem, et nihilominus præsumptio nimiæ familiaritatis divinæ et perscrutatio majestatis. Sed qui moderate appropinquant pedibus ejus exclamantes cum Apostolo, O altitudo divitiarum sapientiæ et scientiæ Dei, quam incomprehensibilia sunt judicia ejus, et investigabiles viæ ejus ! accipient de doctrina ejus secundum prophetam, et ibunt paulatim de virtute in virtutem, donec videatur Deus Deorum in Sion.'"2 It is very true, the members of the institute might have reason to complain, if an associate were to surprise them in full meeting with a lecture on divine grace when they expected the solution of a problem in optics; but I do not see how Christians can fail to admire that philosopher, who, in the instruction of youth, kept constantly in mind the one thing needful, to secure their being happy as well as wise for everlasting ages. The inhuman Elizabethan pedagogues had not as yet appeared; hence the labour of study was less painful to children. The Winchester school-song of “ Domum, domum, dulce domum !” is one of the few modern compositions which exhibit the simplicity and feeling of the olden time. The objects and end, as well as the mode of study, were directed : “Sunt qui scire volunt,” said St. Bertrand, “ eo fine tantum, ut sciant; et turpis curiositas est. Et sunt qui scire volunt, ut sciantur ipsi ; et turpis vanitas est. Et sunt item qui scire volunt, ut scientiam suam vendant, v. g. pro pecunia, pro honoribus ; et turpis quæstus est. Et item qui scire volunt, ut ædificentur; et prudentia est.” Conformably to this view, Alcuin, whom the University of Paris esteemed as its founder,3 ex1 Rome, 1747.

2 Opus Majus. 3 Hist. de l'Université de Paris, par Crevier, i.

66

one

horted his pupils to study “propter Deum, propter puritatem animæ, propter veritatem cognoscendam, etiam et propter se ipsam, non propter humanam laudem, vel honores sæculi, vel etiam divitiarum fallaces voluptates." Dom. Mabillon says, “Who ever applied himself to the study of every branch of literature, and also to the teaching of others, more than Bede? yet who was more closely united to heaven by the exercises of religion?" "To see him pray," says an ancient writer, would have thought that he left himself no time to study; and when we look at his books, we wonder he could have found time to do any thing else but write." These holy men verified what St. Bonaventura said, “ Scientia quæ pro virtute despicitur, per virtutem postmodum melius invenitur :” and so Albert the Great used to say that piety and prayer conduced more to advancement in divine science than study. St. Thomas Aquinas ascribed all that he possessed of wisdom to his applying this precept to himself. It is related of St. Bonaventura, that St. Thomas Aquinas coming to visit him, and having requested him to point out the books which he used in his studies, St. Bonaventura led him into his cell, and shewed him a few of the most common on his table. St. Thomas explaining his wish, that it was the books from which he drew so many wonders that he desired to see, the saint shewed him an oratory and a crucifix : “There,” said he, “are my books. There is the principal book from which I draw all that I would teach and write. It is at the foot of the Cross; it is in hearing mass, that I have made what progress I have in science."2 In monasteries the rule indeed was rather severe : “Ut quisque doctissimus est, ita minime se doctum existimat;" and yet experience proved that monks could practise it. St. Thomas Aquinas was never guilty of the least pride. Besides the schools which were in every monastery, the abbots' houses were nurseries of learning. In 1450, Thomas Bromele, abbot of Hyde, near Winchester, entertained in his own abbatial house in the monastery eight young men of gentle blood, who dined at his table, and received a learned education : and this was the practice of the Abbot of Glastonbury. Richard Whiting, the last abbot, who was so

| Caniss. Antiq. Lect. ii. 506.
2 Chron. St. Francis, i. ii. 2.

cruelly murdered by Henry VIII., educated in his family nearly three hundred ingenuous youths, besides many others whom he supported at the University.' So much for the learning of the monks : but what the knights of chivalry esteemed and reverenced much more, was the affecting sublimity of their discourse, and the sanctity of their innocent lives.

It was about four o'clock, upon a summer's morning, when I mounted the steep and difficult track which leads to the convent of the Capuchins, standing upon the side of the mountain which overlooks the city of Saltzbourg. I passed through the house, a picturesque and simple dwelling, and went into the garden, which commands one of those awful and magnificent views which no person can conceive who has not witnessed the finest Alpine scenery; a splendid city, with a river, at your feet; a castle upon the opposite bank, crowning the brow of a dark and ragged rock of proud elevation; a narrow valley enclosed by steep mountains, the summits of which seem nearer than their bases ; alps on alps, vast tracts of snow reaching into the higher clouds, while the little spot itself on which you stand, divided into plots, planted with a few flowers and common culinary vegetables, bespeaks, like the minds of the holy men who cultivate it, nothing but sweetness, humility, and peace. One of the old friars was busily employed in weeding his bed of onions, with a look of cheerfulness and content, mixed with a little of self-importance, which was far from forbidding. At this moment, the trumpets sounded from the court of the palace in the city below; the beat of drums, and the cracks of whips, announced that the emperor, who happened to be at this time in Saltzbourg, had mounted his carriage to make an excursion to the neighbouring baths. The echo resounded along the sides and through the chasms of the mountains, till it was lost in the upper regions of ice and

The old friar continued to weed his onions, presenting a contrast with the bustle and confusion of the world which he had forsaken, that must have struck the most giddy and thoughtless of mankind. It may be possible for those who read the description of this scene, to

[ocr errors]

snow,

1 Warton, Hist. of English Poetry.

« PoprzedniaDalej »