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him with thy message and thy gyfts." The duty of burying the dead gave occasion to an affecting scene, which is memorable in heroic history. When Louis IX. approached Sidon, he found the dead bodies of the Christians, who had been lately massacred by the Turcomans, remaining in heaps, still exposed, and putrid. At this spectacle the king stopped, and desired the legate to consecrate a place for burial : he then commanded that the bodies should be interred. Instead of obeying, every one turned aside in horror. Then Louis dismounted from his horse, and taking up with his hands one of the dead bodies,
“ Allons, mes amis,” he cried, “allons donner un peu de terre aux martyrs de Jesus Christ." The king's example inspired his attendants with courage and charity, and these poor slaughtered Christians received the rites of burial. I have seen this represented in a fine painting over the high altar in the church of St. Louis, in the island at Paris. The knights were too well instructed in religion not to know the importance of these duties. St. Peter de Ravenna observed, that “in the kingdom of heaven, in the presence of angels, and in that great assembly of men raised from the dead, there is no mention of the death that Abel suffered, nor of the faith that Abraham had, nor of the law which Moses gave, nor of the cross to which St. Peter was fastened; but only of the bread that is given to the poor.” The laws of chivalry absolutely required the observance of this duty. Thus, in L'Arbre des Batailles, we read of the king or prince: “Il doit estre large, saige et pitieux, charitable aux poures de Jesu Christ, et les aymer en leur donnant du sien pour l'amour de Dieu :") and in the Mirror by Gilles de Rome it is said, that he should have almoners, piteous and liberal mediators for the poor, consolers and fathers of miserable people; and every morning, after the “ Ite missa est,” they should distribute the alms. It is sung of the Cid in an old ballad, Where'er he goes, much alms he throw
eble folk and poor; Beside the way for him they pray, him blessings to procure.?
With respect to the evil which arises from the indiscriminate dispensation of alms, even some modern writers
1 Chap. calii.
Spanish ballad, translated by Mr. Lockhart.
of moral philosophy are careful to warn their readers from tampering with those fine and exquisite feelings, which should be ever ready to prompt and to direct us. This is the lesson which was formerly pressed upon men.
The corruption and the arts of complicated wickedness which prevail in a great capital may require that kind of provision for the necessity of the poor which is not liable to be abused. But after all, upon every occasion and in every place, men were reminded, that their own individual temper of mind was not to be neglected for the sake of any possible general result to society, and besides this, that cases of desertion and of need would exist notwithstanding the exertions of a public body; they were reminded that in the very scene of the greatest opulence, human beings might be found, from time to time, reduced to such a state of hopeless misery, that death was at once both its consequence and its termination. Whoever aspired to the praise of chivalry was aware, that it was not to become a spy upon the weakness of the poor that he was called by his order, not a mere instrument in the hands of a public body, who was to forget the culture of his own character in furthering the ends of a general institution ; that he was not to be content with the simple dispensation of money to be converted into virtue by the piety of other men, still less the pedantic votary of a sýstem and a theory, who would sacrifice the best affections of his heart, and disobey the commands of religion, in order to pursue his system and his theory, the result of cool calculation in his closet; he knew that this was not what was required of him; but that the duty was clear and simple, at once beneficial to others and to his own mind. The success and the issue rested with God, but the virtue, without prying into its possible consequences, was for him to discharge. S. Chrysostom went so far as to say that by the law of alms God gave more for the sake of the rich than of the poor. However, unquestionably there was need of discretion in the discharge of every duty. Pope Innocent XII., who founded the hospital for poor invalids, evinced great zeal against the practice of lazy beggars, as Muratori testifies. Pope Pius V., in forbidding the poor
i In Epist. I. ad Corinth. tom. xxi.
to beg in churches, allowed them to ask alms at the outer door.1
It appears from all this, that the poor were assisted and relieved from a principle of religion, and not of human benevolence : “ Christo in pauperibus,” was the motto over hospitals. It is related of St. Francis that he never refused alms to any poor man who asked it “for the love of God.” Religious men among the ancients had a notion resembling this ; for when Ulysses comes up as a poor stranger, Eumæus says that he may refrain from his tales of woe and from his lies which shall not move him.
ου γαρ τούνεκ' εγώ σ' αιδέσσομαι, ουδε φιλήσω,
αλλά Δία ξένιον δείσας, αυτόν τ' ελεήσας.2 St. Augustine expresses the opinion which was universal on this subject. “ The good master saith not, qui sus
| The heathens had a horror of mendicity. Herodotus relates that Amasis, king of Egypt, punished public beggars with death. The Romans condemned them to the mines and public works, and even punished the persons who gave them money. It is the saying of Plautus in Trinum: “De mendico male meretur qui dat ei quod edat aut bibat; nam et illud quod dat perdit et producit illi vitam ad miseriam.”
“ Potius expedit inertes fame perire quam in ignavia fovere,” is the savage maxim of the Roman emperors. Upon the suppression of the monasteries in England, the mendicants who had formerly obtained relief at their gates wandered in want and wretchedness through the country. To abate this nuisance, a statute was enacted in the first year of Edward VI. According to which, whoever “ lived idly and loiteringly for the space of three days," came under the description of a vagabond, and was liable to the following punishment : -Two justices of the peace might order the letter V to be burnt on his breast, and adjudge him to serve the informer two years as his slave. His master was bound to provide him with bread, water, and refuse meat; might fix an iron ring round his neck, arm, or leg ; and was authorised to compel him to “ labour at any work, however vile it might be, by beating, chaining, or otherwise.” If the slave absented himself a fortnight, the letter S was burnt on his cheek or forehead, and he became a slave for life ; and if he offended a second time in like manner, his flight subjected him to the penalties of felony. These particulars are curious, as marking the effects which followed the return from Christianity to the philosophy of the pagans, or rather to that infidel frame of mind which actuated Somerset and his associates. The milder spirit of the Gospel, while it will sanction a rational and beneficent policy, will be cautious how it prevents the alleviation or increases the misery of individual suffering. Od. xiv. 388.
ceperit prophetam tantum, sed addidit, in nomine prophetæ ; neque ait tantum qui susceperit justum, sed addidit, in nomine justi ; nec solum ait, qui calicem aquæ frigidæ potum dederit uni ex minimis meis, sed addidit, in nomine discipuli. Et sic adjunxit, Amen dico vobis, non perdet mercedem suam. Datum est suscipere prophetam, suscipere justum, porrigere calicem aquæ frigidæ discipulo : fructus autem, in nomine prophetæ, in nomine justi, in nomine discipuli hoc facere.” Sir Thomas Brown had preserved this distinction.
“ If,” he says,
we are directed only by our particular natures, and regulate our inclinations by no higher rule than that of our reasons, we are but moralists ; Divinity will still call us heathens. Therefore this great work of charity must have other motives, ends, and impulsions : I give no alms to satisfy the hunger of my brother, but to fulfil and accomplish the will and command of my God; I draw not my purse for his sake that demands it, but his that enjoined it; I relieve no man upon the rhetoric of his miseries. that giveth to the poor lendeth to the Lord ;' there is more rhetoric in that one sentence than in a library of
Upon this motive only I cannot behold a beggar without relieving his necessities with my purse, or his soul with my prayers.
Statists that labour to contrive a commonwealth without poverty, take away the object of our charity, not only not understanding the commonwealth of a Christian, but forgetting the prophecy of Christ."
But it was when exercised towards the dead, that the charity of these ages assumed that air of romantic grandeur, which gives such a charm to the detail of chivalrous history. Let us examine their care of the bodies of the dead; and secondly of the souls of the departed. A feeling of respect for the poor fleshly frame of man, when deserted by the soul, has prevailed in all ages and countries of the world. It is implanted in our nature, and so strongly as to overcome all other feelings. Even the Roman authors for once were constrained to praise Hannibal, when he shewed such care at Cannæ to have the body of Paulus Æmilius buried. Menelaus, though hastening
1 Confess, xiii. 26.
home, yet on the death of his pilot, stopped his course to pay his friend the last rites :
ως ο μεν ένθα κατέσχετ', επειγόμενός περ οδοίο,
όφρ' έταρον θάπτοι, και επί κτέρεα κτερίσειεν.! The old soldier lighting up a pile to burn the body of Pompey, on the desert shore, is an affecting example of the ancient practice. The emblems on their tombs were also interesting. I hope it will not be interpreted as indicating a disposition to heathenism ; but I should feel inclined to say like poor Elpenor in Homer,
- Make me a tomb near the waters."
πήξαι τ’ επί τύμβω έρετμών, , τω και ζωος έρεσσον, εών μετ' εμοίς ετέροισιν.2 Shakespeare, as the poet of nature, delights in expressing this feeling:
Find out the prettiest daisied plot we can,
Where for a monument upon thy bones,
Lying with simple shells. To secure the remains of men, and ascertain where they lay, was considered of importance. Cimon having taken the savage island of Scyrus, and being anxious to find out the place where Theseus was buried, by chance saw an eagle on a certain eminence, breaking the ground and scratching it up with her talons. This he considered as a diviné direction, and digging there, he found the coffin of a man of extraordinary size, with a lance of brass, and a sword lying by it. The remains were conducted to Athens. A Scald once singing before a king of Brittany, divined where King Arthur's body was buried, which had not then been discovered. Giraldus Cambrensis, who saw the bones of King Arthur, relates that Henry II., who
1 Od. iii. 284.