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at Rheims in 1583, at Tours in 1585. Similar decrees were passed by the councils in Spain. After divine service innocent recreation was permitted and approved of by the Church. Fenelon gently reproved a curate for blaming some poor peasants for dancing on the evening of Sunday. The knights and barons in every age made it a law never to hunt on Sunday ;' and the German Legend of the Wild Huntsman will prove what opinion often prevailed respecting the consequence of profaning this holy day. Among the ecclesiastical laws of King Ine, in 643, we read, slave work on the Sunday by his lord's command, let him become a free man, and let the lord pay thirty shilings.” St. Antony of Florence relates of two young men who went on a party of hunting on a festival, that one being killed by lightning, it was remarked he had not heard mass to the end before he set out. In the wicked court of our Henry II. the Sunday was profaned : “ Homines in curia sabbatizare non vidi,” says a contemporary;
o unde et in ea parte melior est conditio jumentorum.” 2 Tirante the White, describing the grand fêtes given by the King of England in London, says that separate exercises were ordained for each day ; but “ Friday, a day of sorrow and of mourning, there was no joust, only after mass it was allowable to hunt.” So in the famous challenge by Raynolde du Roy, Boucicaut, and St. Pye, in the reign of King Charles V., to hold a joust at St. Ingelbertes, in the marshes of Calais, in 1389, they were to continue there thirty days complete, the Fridays only excepted. The rule must be ascribed to a feeling of devout reverence, though the careless part of society may have only attended to the letter. At Easter, Theodosius and Justinian ordained, that all prisons should be thrown open, excepting in a few cases of particular crime: by the capitularies of Charlemagne, the same custom was observed at Christmas, Easter, and Whitsuntide. King Louis of France and the English barons, in the first year of Henry III., made a truce for the feast of the Nativity, which was to last till twenty days after Christmas. The Emperor Frederic Barbarossa, when besieging Tortona in 1155, ordered hostilities to cease the day before Easter eve, and granted a truce for
1 St. Palaye, Mémoires Historiques sur la Chasse.
forty days to keep the festival. The approach of Christmas determined Godefrey de Bouillon to make peace with Alexis. During the siege of Rouen by the English, when a great number of poor silly creatures were driven between the wall of the city and the trenches of the enemy, King Henry V., moved with pity, “on Christmasse-day, in the honour of Christe's nativitie, refreshed all the poor people with vittaile, to their greate comfort, and his high prayse.” Henry VI, on one occasion kept his Christmas at the magnificent monastery of St. Edmundsbury, where he remained in a state of seclusion from the world till the following Easter.
But if the ordinary occasions of life could elicit indications of this solemn and reverential spirit, how sublime and awful must have been the scenes of imprisonment, and affliction, and death! What a spectacle to see the king, St. Louis, die, after he had twice, with a large army, passed so many seas, tempests, monsters, arms, and battles, for the glory of his Master! What a spectacle to see St. Paul the hermit die, after he had laboured 100 years under the habit of religion! Would we reverse the picture, and behold the last agony of that proud knight, who now lies so low, and listens with horror to some holy monk who repeats to him, perhaps, the words of Luis Granadensis :
• They that were ready,” says the Gospel, “ entered into the palace of the bridegroom, and presently the gate was shut. The gate shut! O eternal shutting! O gate of all goodness, which shall never be opened again,—who can sufficiently consider thee?” What a solemn scene is this ! The very minstrel's harp is tuned to the solemnity of judgment.
Or dance, amant, dance,
Oh, what a picture does the poet give of that proud chieftain struggling with death, in the prison of Stirling!
Old Allan-bane looked on aghast,
While grim and still his spirit pass’d. Far be it from any son of chivalry to fancy that fear is on all occasions unworthy of a brave man. moralist of nature has pronounced a different sentence : Ου περί πάντα δοκεί ο άνδρείος είναι ένια γάρ και δει φοβείσθαι, και καλόν το δε μή, αισχρών, οίον άδοξίαν. A reverential spirit was always considered as belonging to the heroic character. In the expedition of the Argonauts, at the banquet, when Idas had uttered that profane speech, calling upon his spear to bear witness, saying,
ου δε μ' οφέλλει Ζεύς τόσον, δσσάτιόν περ εμόν δόρυ, and affirming that a god could not resist him, all the warriors cried out and trembled, and Idmon rose up and said,
δαιμόνιε, φρονέεις ολοφώΐα και πάρος αυτώ,
θαρσύνει έταιρον συ δ' ατασθαλα πάμπαν εείπας.3 Thus, again, Jason addresses the sons of Prixus, after their escape from shipwreck,
Ζεύς αυτός τα εκάς επιδέρκεται" ουδέ μιν άνδρες
λήθομεν έμπεδον, οί τε θεουδέες, ουδε δίκαιοι. For as he saved your father from murder, and gave him great wealth, ,
ως δε και εμέας αύτις απήμονας έξεσάωσε
χείματος oύλoμένοιο.3 XV. In a book which is written under the favour and correction of
That gentle race and dear,
By whom alone the world is glorified, and in an attempt to explain the religious character of the
1 Aristot. Ethic. Nicomach. iii. 6.
Christian chivalry, it would be unpardonable were I to pass over in silence the influence of this chivalry upon the female sex.
The limits of this present book will prevent me from looking farther than the religious graces which distinguished women : hereafter we shall have occasion to behold their movements in a more brilliant sphere.
«s After the
age of the patriarchs,” says Segur, women were only splendid slaves, who, like victims crowned with flowers, announced by their decoration the sacrifice to which they were destined by those who ought to have admired, respected, and protected them.” In Egypt, indeed, their slavery assumed a less cruel character; but throughout the other vast nations of the East it was unlimited. In China it continues so to this day. If we pass to more civilised nations, in ancient Greece women were held in the most complete subjection, their minds condemned to ignorance, and their persons to confinement. The sentiments of Homer, indeed, form an exception to this charge. He speaks of marriage with respect and regard :' and a similar testimony is extorted even from Euripides ;
γάμοι όσοις μεν εύ καθεστασιν βροτών, ,
. In Rome their lives were at the disposal of their husbands. Thus, before Christianity, one half of the human race was condemned by the injustice and tyranny of the other to a servile subjection. But now was at length justice rendered to the most lovely of the Creator's works. Being Christians, women had now, for the first time, hope; the world being subdued to that religion, they appeared invested with an angel dignity, to which nature alone had not raised them, but which secured to them the reverence and the love of all men. To this was added an empire in the heart which was confirmed by the influence of chivalry. Hence the way was opened to exalt the glories of chivalry and to accomplish a regeneration of the human race. The Christian religion secured the purity and the elevation of the female heart; and it was the consequent influence of women, that empire which they obtained by the power of virtue, meekness, and innocence, over the wild affections of our brave ancestors, which contributed greatly to effect this
Odyss. vi. 182.
marvellous revolution in the moral history of the world. For the present I am but to speak of the religious graces of women; a theme which requires a far less earthly and uncunning tongue than mine. It is here that I would repeat Chaucer's words :
O little book,
It is wonder that thou wexest not rede! “ Let the life and virginity of Mary,” said St. Ambrose, “ be set before you as a mirror, in which is seen the pattern of chastity and virtue : her looks were sweet, her discourse mild, her behaviour modest.” The sanctity of Mary has subdued even the prejudice of modern writers : one of whom says, “ The Virgin in her oratory, private and devout, receiving a grace which the greatest queens would have purchased with the quitting of their diadems, was held up as an ensample to all women, that they should accustom themselves often to those retirements, where none but God and his angels can have admittance, that the holy Jesus might come to them too, and dwell with them, hallowing their souls, and consigning their bodies to a participation of all his glories. The holy Virgin, arriving to her perfections by the means, not of the ostentatious and laborious exercises and violences of life, which they underwent who travelled over the world and preached to the Gentiles, but of a quiet and silent piety, the internal actions of love, devotion, and contemplation, was held up as an ensample, that the silent affections, the splendours of an internal devotion, the unions of love, humility, and obedience, the daily offices of prayer and praises sung to God, the acts of faith and fear, of patience and meekness, of hope and reverence, repentance and charity, and those graces which walk in a veil and silence, make great ascents to God, and a sure progress to favour and a
In imitation of the Virgin Mary, who was mother and nurse to the holy Jesus, the women in the innocent and healthful days of our ancestors maintained a natural piety, an operative charity, a just and valiant policy, a sincere economy and proportionable to the dispositions and requisites of nature, not giving way to that softness, above that of Asian princes, into which these later ages of the world have declined.” So far a modern writer had ob