'Ave Pater, Rex Creator, ave fili, lux, Servator,

A ve pax et charitas
Ave simplex, ave Tripe, ave regnans sine fine

Uva summa Tripitas.'

And under the crucifix,

Quantum pro nobis Christus tulit esse videmus,
Et tamen à lachrymis lieu lumina sicca tepemus.'"'*

Lydgate ascribes a pious inspiration, which suggested to him the composition of a hymn on the passion, to his having read similar lines in an abbey when a boy :

[merged small][ocr errors]

John of Whethamstede, the learned abbot of St. Alban's, in the reign of Henry VI. among other images and ornaments placed in the church of that abbey, the figures of certain heathen philosophers, who had testified of the incarnation of Christ, and under then these lines

Istac qui gradieris bos testes si memoreris.

Credere vim poteris proles Deus est mulieris.”

The walls of that abbey were covered with curious painted imagery, and also with pious inscriptions in golden characters. Weever gives the verses inscribed in the abbot's lodging, those in the walk between his chamber and the hall, those in the windows of the abbot's library, those in the chamber adjoining his study, and those upon the roof over the chancel. On one wall was writen an admonition to princes

"Non bene concessum princeps regit ille Ducatu

Coucilio procerum qui non regitur sapientum.
Judex quando sedes caveas de jura supines
Jure quidem tradito. Plebs Rex est, Rex sine regoo."

In one window of the library was written

“Cum studeas, videas, ut sit virtus et honestas ;
Hic, et ubique tibi finalis causa studendi."

Suger says, “ that on the doors of the abbey church of St. Denis, on which were represented the passion, resurrection, and ascension of our Saviour, these verses were inscribed

• Portarum quisquis attollere quæris honorem,

Aurum nec sumptus, operis mirare laborem.”

* A Discourse of Funeral Monuments.

Nobile claret opus, sed opus quod, nobile claret,
Clarificet mentes ut eant per lumina vera
Ad verum lumen, ubi Christus jadua vera.
Quale sit jutus in bis determinat aurea porta.
Mens Lebes ad verum per materialia surgit,
Et demersa prius bac visa luce resurgit.'"*

Similar inscriptions, suitable to the office of each place in the monastery, were generally found. Thus in the abbey of Mount-Cassino, over the place for washing, were these lines

“Ut foris oblectet nitor hunc decet intus baberis,
Si lua mens sordetquid erit si laveris ora

Aut oculos, puro corde lavato manus."

Before the cross in the centre of the great hall of the dead, in the abbey of Cîteaux, was this inscription

"Hic deponuntur monachi quando moriuntur,

Hinc assumuntur animæ sursumque deferuntur.” In the cloister were these solemn verses, reminding men that the form of this world was passing away

“ Mundus abit, fortis sim, non ero : sim speciosus,

Non ero : sim dives, non ero, mundus abit.
Mundus abit, non Christus abit, cole non abeuntem."!

In the palace of Lucullus the apartments were called after the names of the gods, Apollo, Jupiter, &c. In the monastery of St. Benedict the chambers are distinguished by the names of saints. Passing along the corridors in the convent of the Franciscans, at Loretto, I observed over the door of each cell some pious sentence from the holy scriptures, or the writings of the fathers. Sometimes the tradition respecting him who once inhabited the cell served instead of any device, as in the room next the library in that Dominican convent of St. Agostino, in which Albertus Magnus lived for a while. To walk through the Carthusian monastery of Calci, among the mountains of Pisa, and mark the inscriptions which are presented at every step, is a useful study in itself, and the words seem to come with a greater force than they cculd from any book. Over the entrance I read,

Ingrediatur gens justa custodiens veritatem ;” at one end of a long corridor, “ Posuit eos Deus in Paradiso voluptatis ;" over the door of a cell, “ In solitudine boni mores virtutesque omnes discuntur.” Most of the lines, however, are commemorative of our Saviour's passion, or taken from his last sermon; and one feels that one is in the house of his dearest familiar friends, who cannot rest without having his sweet image and his divine words ever before them. But it is



Sug. Lib. de Rebus in Administratione sua Gestis, ap. Duchesne, iv. + Hist. Casinepsis.

| Martene, Voyage Lit. 219.

[ocr errors]

So it is in gen

time to repose after this long inspection. Already from these first glances we can understand the justice of Dom Martene's observation, with respect to the monastery of St. Remi, at Rheims, when he says, “that every time he visits it, he remarks something new that had previously escaped his notice.” eral with all these ancient abbeys, where the friends of God may justly say, that they live at peace in splendid poverty Yes, the inscription in the church of the Carthusians near Pavia, “Nimis honorati sunt amici tui Deus,” explains the magnificence of that incomparable monastery, and expres-es the true reason of the grandeur and beauty of all others. And, in effect, who can cease to admire the grandeur and the beauty of these holy retreats, where every thing glorious in art as well as nature seems concentrated to wait upon religion? What a triumph for all that value intellectual good that there should be thus already a happy earth where men of good-will can enjoy a foretaste of the calm of heaven ! that for them there should be such a pure dwelling-place, where there is a quiet solemn voice of sober reason in all the parts, which reaches the most thoughtless ear, “while every shape and mode of matter lends its force to the omnipotence of mind, which, from its dark mine, drags the gem of truth to decorate this paradise of




3 MONASTERY, viewed on its heroic side, was a great country mansion,

or ancestral palace, antique and venerable, full of charms for those who have an owl-like fondness for old walls and ivy, full of curious memorials, retaining traditions from the olden time, and boasting of ancestors

who shed an eternal renown upon the family which inhabited it. How ។

would an ordinary house bave gloried in having for its founder such a hero as St. Williain, whose abbey in the desert yet bears his name? Orderic Vitalis says, that this glorious knight was the theme of minstrelsy with the Jongleurs. Ducatel has discovered an old romance in the honor divided into four parts, treating on the childhood of William, the coronation of Lewis, le charroi de Nismes, and the monastic life, le moinage of William,

Moult essauca sancte chrétientés
Tant fit en terra qu'es cieux est couronnés.*

Every kind of glory, in fict, shed lustre uvon the memory of many founders

* Longueval, Hist. de l'Eglise, Gal. v. 122.

of abbeys in the middle ages, whose merit could not have been exaggerated by the gratitude of their respective communities. Charlemagne himself, in a certain charter to the monastery of St. Bertin at St. Omer, boasts of his being of the lineage of its founder, “ Et quoniam,” he says, “idem sanctus de genere nostro fuisse dignoscitur.” And no less honorable to it was another to the same church, in which we find Roland and Olivier named as witnesses.* Well might the monks of Boulancour, in the diocese of Troyes, esteem as a glory their possession of many charts from such men as the seigneurs of Joinville and Villardouin, who had been the benefactors of that house, which they enriched with many relies that they had brought with them from the ea-t.| Independent of religious grounds the monks in general seem to evince towards their founders that kind of reverential gratitude which Homer's men so invariably cherish for their benefactors, as when Eumæus says of his old master

τον μεν έγων, ώ ξεινε, και ου παρεόντονομάζειν αιδέομαι.

One is naturally led to take this heroic view of the monastic institution on being admitted into the treasury of an abbey which contained often so many ti:les to suggest and substantiate it.

Having seen enough now of towers and columns, of walls and grates, let us follow this good monk who is about to show the ancient estimable thinys preserved in the most secret recesses of his house ; for the spectacle will be curious and instructive as well as religious. We first have to pass by the costly deposits which appertained not to his community, for such were often found in'monasteries, as at Rheims, in the abbey of St. Denis where the public money and also the silver and jewels of private persons used to be placed for security in the hands of the abbot and canons exclusively, who alone had the key; and as at Durham and at Strata Florida, where the gentry of the country kept their deeds and genealogies, the registers of their baptisms and marriages, in the archivium of the monks. Lupus, abbot of Ferrers, writes to Hildain, saying, “ I do not wonder that yoni

should have thought of committing your treasure to our castoly, since you did not know the situation of our monastery ; but if you had known it you certainly would not have left it with us three days ; for though the access is difficult to pirates, to whom, for our sins, no length of distance is long, yet the weakness of the place, and the small number of men fit to resist, kindles the avidity of the rapacious, especially as we are surrounded with woods through which they can easily escape.”! Let us examine that part only which contains the

property of the abbey, and we shall find that even the monastic treasures partook of an Homeric character

* Chronic. Monast. 8. Bertini, p. ii. cap. i. c. vii. ap. Martene, Thes. Anecdot. iii. + Desguerrois, Hist. du Diocèse de Troyes, 289.

† Lupi Epist. cx.

Gems, marbles, ivory, pictures, silver, precious vestments,

Sunt qui non habeant, est qui non curet habere.

up his

The monks, and in ages of faith, many of those who visited them, verified the latter part of this line. When Pope Paschal came into France, say the chronicles, he visited the abbey of St. Denis, where he was received most solemnly; but a wonderful and memorable example did he leave on this occasion to all present and future, for he did not deign so much as to look at either gold or silver, or ornament of precious stones, whieh are in the abbey, but only prostrated him, self devoutly and wept before the holy bodies as one who offered himself wholly to God and to his saints. *

Supposing the reader, nevertneless, ever so devout, I do beseech him now to raise eyes a little, and survey with me for a moment “ bags of fiery opals, sapphires, amethysts, jacinths, hard topaz, grass-green emeralds, beauteous rubies, sparkling diamonds, and seld-seen costly stones, of so great price as one of them indifferently rated may serve in peril of calamity to ransom great kings from captivity.”

“I delight,” says Cardan, “ in little instruments of ingenuity, in gems, in vessels, in brass and silver canisters, and in glass globes.”+ He would be delighted here then, where he would find so many exquisite things like that chalice in the treasury of St. Gall, ex electro, miro opere, or those cups in that of St. Maurice, composed of agates and alabaster ; though sooth, at first, notwithstanding the authority of so profound a philosopher in favor of them, one cannot but wonder to find such objects in such a place; for though they are all gifts, yet being as unsuitable presents to monks as horses would have been to the prince of Ithaca, I the question still recurs how came they here? Their intrinsic value, however, explains the difficulty ; for that rendered them, it was thought, worthy offerings to testify the piety of the donors. Thus Catherine of Lorraine, who preferred the quality of Benedictine nun to that of wife of the emperor Maximilian, gave to the Benedlictine monastery of the holy-sacrament, at Nancy, which she founded, all the jewels that had been given to her by princes. I do not deny, but immemorial custom, and traces perhaps of ancient manners, to the influence of which, in some degree, men, in spite of themselves, continued to be subject, may sometimes have dictated the choice of objects. The usual gifts bestowed by Homer's heroes to their parting guests were golden cups and goblets. Menelaus says, he will give Telemachus the most beautiful and honorable present, a cup of silver circled with gold at the brim, the work of Vulcin; and then he mentions through how many princely owners' hands it has passed to his own. In monasteries we find cups and goblets thus presenter, and a careful record kept of the history of each. Thus Witlafius, king of the Mercians, in his charter to the monastery of Crowland, in 833,

[merged small][merged small][ocr errors]
« 前へ次へ »