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the catalogue of the most heinous sins.0 A blind submission to the commands of the abbot, however absurd, or even criminal, they might seem, was the ruling principle, the first virtue of the Egyptian monks: and their patience was frequently exercised by the most extravagant trials. They were directed to remove an enormous rock; assiduously to water a barren staff, that was planted in the ground, till, at the end of three years, it should vegetate and blossom like a tree; to walk into a fiery furnace; or to cast their infant into a deep pond; and several saints, or madmen, have been immortalized in monastic story, by their thoughtless, and fearless, obedience.1" The freedom of the mind, the source of every generous and rational sentiment, was destroyed by the habits of credulity and submission; and the monk, contracting the vices of a slave, devoutly followed the faith and passions of his ecclesiastical tyrant. The peace of the eastern church was invaded by a swarm of fanatics, incapable of fear, or reason, or humanity; and the imperial troops acknowledged, without shame, that they were much less apprehensive of an encounter with the fiercest barbarians .q
Superstition has often framed and conseand habi- crated the fantastic garments of the monks :r but tations. apparent singularity sometimes proceeds from their uniform attachment to a simple and primitive model, which the revolutions of fashion have made ridiculous in the eyes of mankind. The father of the Benedictines expressly disclaims all idea of choice, or merit; and soberly exhorts his disciples to adopt the coarse and convenient dress of the countries which they may inhabit.' The monastic habits of the ancients varied with the climate, and their mode of life: and they assumed, with the same indifference, the sheepskin of the Egyptian peasants, or the cloak of the Grecian philosophers. They allowed themselves the use of linen in Egypt, where it was a cheap and domestic manufacture; but in the west, they rejected such an expensive article of foreign luxury.' It was the practice of the monks either to cut or shave their hair; they wrapped their heads in a cowl, to escape the sight of profane objects; their legs and feet were naked, except in the extreme cold of winter; and their slow and feeble steps were supported by a long staff. The aspect of a genuine Anachoret was horrid and disgusting: every sensation that is offensive to man, was thought acceptable to God; and the angelic rule of Tabenne condemned the salutary custom of bathing the limbs in water, and of anointing them with oil." The austere monks slept on the ground, on a hard mat, or a rough blanket; and the same bundle of palm-leaves served them as a seat in the day, and a pillow in the night. Their original cells were low narrow huts, built of the slightest materials; which formed, by the regular distribution of the streets, a large and populous village, enclosing within the common wall, a church, a hospital, perhaps a library, some necessary offices, a garden, and a fountain or reservoir of fresh water. Thirty or forty brethren composed a family of separate discipline and diet; and the great monasteries of Egypt consisted of thirty or forty families.
"The rule of Columbanus, So prevalent in the west, inflicts one hundred lashes for very slight offences. (Cod. Reg. part t. p. 174.) Before the time of Charlemagne, the abbots indulged themselves in mutilating their monks, or putting out their eyes; a punishment much less cruel than the tremendous mile in poes (the .subterraneous dungeon, or sepulchre), which was afterward invented. See an admirable discourse of the leamed Mabillon; ((Euvres Posthumes, tom. 2, p. 321 — 336.) who, on this occasion, seems to be inspired by the genius of humanity. For such an effort, I can forgive his defence of the holy tear of Vendome, (p. 361 —399.)
P Sulp. Sever. Dialog. 1. 12, 13. p. 532, &c. Cassian. Institut. fib. 4. c.26,27. "Pracipua ibi virtus et prima est obedientia." Among the Verba Senioram, (in Vit. Patrum, lib. 5. p. 617.) the fourteenth libel or discourse is on the subject of obedience; and the Jesuit, Kosweyde, who published that huge volume for the use of convents, has collected all his scattered passages in his two copious indexes.
i Dr. Jortin (Remarks on Ecclesiastical History, vol. 4. p. 161.) has observed the scandalous valour of the Cappadocian monks, which was exemplified in the banishment of Chrysostom.
1 Cassian has simply, though copiously, described the monastic habit of Egypt. (Institut . lib. 1 . ) to which Sozomen (lib. 3. c. 14.) attributes such allegorical mean* ing and virtue.
• Regul. Benedict. no. 55.in Cod. Rcgul. part 2. p. 51.
'See the Rule of Ferreolus, bishop of ('it:/-, (no. 31. in Cod. Regul. part 2. p< . 136.) and of Isidore, bishop of Seville- (no. 13.in Cod. Regul. part 2. p. 214.)
"Some partial indulgences were granted for the hands and feet. "Totum autem corpus nemo unguet nisi causi t infirmitatis, nec lavabitur aquft nudo corpora, nisi languor perspicuus sit." (Regul. Pachom. 92. part 1. p. 78.)
VOL. IV. 2 D
Pleasure and guilt are synonymous terms in
Theirdiet. . , *, . J j i i_ j j
the language ot the monks; and they had discovered, by experience, that rigid fasts and abstemious diet, are the most effectual preservatives against the impure desires of the flesh.x The rules of abstinence, which they imposed, or practised, were not uniform or perpetual: the cheerful festival of the Pentecost was balanced by the extraordinary mortification of Lent; the fervour of new monasteries was insensibly relaxed; and the voracious appetite of the Gauls could not imitate the patient and temperate virtue of the Egyptians.7 The disciples of Antony and Pachomius were satisfied with their daily pittance,3 of twelve ounces of bread, or rather biscuit," which they divided into frugal repasts, of the afternoon, and of the evening. It was esteemed a merit, and almost a duty, to abstain from the boiled vegetables, which were provided for the refectory; but the extraordinary bounty of the abbot sometimes indulged them with the luxury of cheese, fruit, sallad, and the small dried fish of the Nile.1 " A more ample lati
1 St. Jerome, in strong, but indiscreet language, expresses the most important use of fasting and abstinence.—" Non quod Deus universitatis Creator et Dominui. intestinorum nostrorum rugitu, et inanitate ventris, pulmonisque adore delectetur, sed quod aliter pudicitia tuta ease non possit." (.Op. tom. 1. p. 137. ad Eustochium.) See the twelfth and twenty-second Collations pf Cassian, de CaititaU, and is Ilhuimibut Nooturnit.
J Edacitas in Gracis gala est, in Gallis natura. /Dialog. 1. c. 4. p. 521.) Cassiiui fairly owns, that the perfect model of abstinence cannot be imitated in Gaul, on account of the aerem temperies, and the qualitas nostrae fragilitatis. (Institut. 4.11.) Among the westem rules, that of Columbanus is the most austere; he had been educated amidst the poverty of Ireland, as rigid perhaps, and inflexible, as the abstemious virtue of Egypt. The rule of Isidore of Seville is the mildest: on holidays he allows the use of flesh.
1 " Those who drink only water, and have no nutritious liquor, might, at least, to have a pound and a half (twenty-fnur ounces) of bread every day." State of Prisons, p. 40. by Mr. Howard.
» See Cassian, Collat. lib. 2. 19—21. The small loaves, or biscuit, of six ounces each, had obtained the name of paximacia. (Rosweyde, Onomasticon, p. 1045.) Pachomius, however, allowed his monks some latitude in the quantity of their food; but be made them work in proportion as they ate. (Pallad. in Hist. Lausiac. c. 88, 39. in Vit. Patrum, lib. 8. p. 736, 737.)
* See the banquet to which Cassian (Collation 8. 1.) was invited by Serenas, an Egyptian abbot.
tude pf sea and river fish was gradually allowed or assumed; but the use of flesh was long confined to the sick or travellers; and when it gradually prevailed in the less rigid monasteries of Europe, a singular distinction was introduced; as if birds, whether wild or domestic, had been less profane than the grosser animals of the field. Water was the pure and innocent beverage of the primitive monks; and the founder of the Benedictines regrets the daily portion of half a pint of wine, which had been extorted from him by the intemperance of the age.c Such an allowance might be easily supplied by the vineyards of Italy; and his victorious disciples, who passed the Alps, the Rhine, and the Baltic, required, in the place of wine, an adequate compensation of strong beer or cyder. Their ma- The candidate who aspired to the virtue of nuai labour, evangelical poverty, abjured, at his first entrance into a regular community, the idea, and even the name, of all separate, or exclusive, possession .d The brethren were supported by their manual labour; and the duty of labour was strenuously recommended as a penance, as an exercise, and as the most laudable means of securing their daily subsistence.* The garden, and fields, which the industry of the monks had often rescued from the forest or the morass, were diligently cultivated by their hands. They performed, without reluctance, the menial offices of slaves and domestics; and the several trades that were necessary to provide their
• See Ihe Rule of St. Benedict, no. S9, 40. (in Cod. Reg. part *. p. 41, 42.) licet, legamns vimim omnino monachonun non esse, sed quia nostris temporibus id monacbU persaaderi non pote>t; he allows them a Roman hemina, a measure which may be ascertained from Arbuthnot's Tables.
d Such expressions as my book, my cloak, my shoes, (Cassian. Institut. lib. 4. a. 13.) were not lees severely prohibited among the western mocks: (Cod. Begul. port 2. p. 174. 235. 288.) and the Rule of Columbanua punished them with M» la*he). The ironical author of the Ordm Monaitiqvti, who laughs at the foolish nicety of modem convents, seems ignorant that the ancients were equally atwurd.
'Two great masters of ecclesiastical science, the P.Thomassjn, (Discipline de fEglise, tom. 3. p. 1090—1139.) and the P. Mabillcn,(Etudes Monastiques, tom, 1. p. 116—155.) have seriously examined the manual labour of Uw monks, winch the former considers as a merit, and the latter as a duty,
habits, their utensils, and their lodging, were exercised within the precincts of the great monasteries. The monastic studies have tended for the most part, to darken, rather than to dispel, the cloud of superstition. Yet the curiosity or zeal of some learned solitaries has cultivated the ecclesiastical, and even the profane, sciences; and posterity must gratefully acknowledge, that the monuments of Greek and Roman literature have been preserved and multiplied by their indefatigable pens/ But the more humble industry of the monks, especially in Egypt, was contented with the silent, sedentary occupation, of making wooden sandals, or of twisting the leaves of the palm-trees into mats and baskets. The superfluous stock, which was not consumed in domestic use, supplied, by trade, the wants of the community: the boats of Tabenne, and the other monasteries of Thebais, descended the Nile as far as Alexandria; and, in a Christian market, the sanctity of the workmen might enhance the intrinsic value of the work. But the necessity of manual labour was insensibly superseded. The novice was tempted to bestow his fortune on the saints, in whose society he was resolved to spend the remainder of his life; and the pernicious indulgence of the laws permitted him to receive, for their use, any future accessions of legacy or inheritance.8 Melania contributed her plate (three hundred pounds weight of silver), and Paula contracted an immense debt, for the relief of their favourite monks; who kindly imparted the merits of their prayers and
'Mabillon (Etudes Monastiques, tom. 1. p. 47—55.) has collected many carious facts to justify the literary labours of his predecessors, both in the east and vest. Books were copied in the ancient monasteries of Egypt, (Cassian. In-iitnt. lib. 4. c. 12.) and by the disciples of St. Martin. (Snip. Sever. in Vit. Martin, c. 7.p.47S.) Cassiodorius has allowed an ample scope for the studies of the monks: and n shall not be scandalized, if their pen sometimes wandered from Chrysostom and Augustin, to Homer and Virgil.
K Thomassin (Discipline de 1'Eglise, tom. 3. p. 118. 145.146. 171—179.) has examined the revolution of the civil, canon, and common law. Modem France confirms the death which monks have inflicted on themselves, and justly deprives them of all right of inheritance.