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were too much mixed up with that society, and too much infected by its spirit, to do much towards checking its disorders; and the only civilising power, according to our author, was that of the monks (ii. 249), although among them, too, there was a strange and incongruous mixture of evil with their good. ⚫ A considerable part of this chapter relates to Brittany, with its peculiar hagiology, the legends of which are characterised by the Bollandists as ad stuporem magis quam ad imitationem collecta.' M. de Montalembert finds a pleasure in lingering over these legends, although he agrees in the Bollandist estimate of them, and sometimes deals with them as unceremoniously as a liberal German (or Lampeter) critic would deal with the Scripture narrative. Thus, when it is related that the Scotch missionary St. Fiacre, by drawing a line on the ground with his stick, produced a deep ditch, and made the trees of the forest fall down to the right and to the left of it, the story is explained as symbolising the profound impression produced on the mind of the people by the hard labours of the monastic pioneers' (ii. 398). Among the saints who are mentioned in connexion with Brittany, we are surprised to meet with the well-known name of Dunstan, who here appears in a light that is altogether new to us. The renowned English archbishop figures in Breton tradition as an inmate of the monastery of St. Gildas at Rhuys, which thus becomes a link to connect the persecutor of Elgiva with its famous abbot, the lover of Heloisa; and it is said that, in consequence of having been carried off from his native island to Brittany by pirates, he has, under the name of Goustan, come to be reverenced in those parts as the especial patron of sailors, and is invoked by their wives in these rhymes:
Ramenez nos maris;
Ramenez nos parents.'-ii. 286.
The restoration of husbands and kindred is certainly a very different sort of work from anything that we read of in the English accounts of Dunstan; but as we have in vain searched the old biographers for any notice of his having been carried off by pirates, or having ever visited Brittany,† we imagine that either
* Quoted by Montalembert, ii. 288.
We may add that there is no mention of such adventures in Dean Hook's Lives of the Archbishops of Canterbury-a work which we trust that the author will be enabled to complete with the same vigour and good sense which he has displayed in the first volume.
the identification of him with the Goustan of the Breton rhyme must be a mistake, or the Breton claim to a connexion with Dunstan is founded on a legend invented for the purpose.
From the Merovingian princes and the Breton saints it is pleasant to escape to a chapter which bears the title of "The Monks and Nature.' Here we finu an eloquent description of the state of Gaul about the sixth and seventh centuries-the wide-stretching deserts, the vast forests, in which, to the real terrors of savage beasts, the popular imagination added those of monsters, evil spirits, and demons derived from the old superstition of the country; and the faith and courage of those who penetrated these solitudes as the pioneers of religion and civilisation are set forth with that admiration which is justly their due (ii. 335-340). Here, as in the older stories of the Egyptian eremites, the brute animals, fabulous as well as real, play a large and remarkable part. We are told, for instance, how a wolf, who had eaten up St. Malo's donkey, did his best to atone for his crime by submissively offering, day after day, to carry the holy man's panniers of wood (ii. 386). M. de Montalembert is very enthusiastic as to the labours of the monks in promoting at once the spiritual and the temporal good of the people among whom they laboured. Thus, after telling us how St. Theodulf's plough was suspended in a church as a relique, he bursts forth :
In truth it was one-a noble and holy relique of one of those lives of perpetual labour and supernatural virtue, of which the example has happily exercised a more fruitful and more lasting sway than that of the proudest conquerors. Methinks we should all contemplate it with emotion if it still existed that monk's plough, twice consecrated, by religion and by labour, by history and by virtue. For myself, I feel that I should kiss it as willingly as the sword of Charlemagne, or as the pen of Bossuet.'-ii. 401.
Last of the monastic heroes who are celebrated in this volume is St. Columban, the zealous and fiery Irish missionary who, in the end of the sixth and in the beginning of the seventh century, founded Luxeuil in the Vosges and Bobbio among the Cottian Alps. Of the peculiarities of Irish monachism-of its home life and of its missionary achievements in other countries-we hope to hear more in the volumes which are to follow, down to that which will relate the connexion of St. Malachy of Armagh with his biographer the abbot of Clairvaux.*
*At vol. ii. p. 475, M. de Montalembert quotes, from the 7th chapter of St. Columban's Rule, a passage in which there is mention of a thousand abbots' as being under one archimandrite; and understanding this statement to refer to Ireland, he is naturally startled at it. On considering the whole passage (Migne, 1xxx. 213), however, we incline to think that it does not relate to Ireland, but
Dr. Reeves, in his very learned and valuable edition of Adamnan, remarks, that If we may judge from the biographical records which have descended to us, primitive Irish ecclesiastics, and especially the superior class, commonly known as saints, were very impatient of contradiction and very resentful of injury' (Preface, p. lxxvii.); and these characteristics were fully exemplified by Columban both in his quarrels with the Frankish princes, and in his letters on the time of Easter and on the controversy of the Three Articles'-the latter a subject into which he plunged without, apparently, knowing anything about it, but with all the confidence of infallibility. It would seem that some late French writers have amused themselves by attributing to this saint all manner of profound and mysterious designs; that they have made him the chief of a secret conspiracy, a revolutionist in politics and in religion, a seventhcentury combination of Luther and Mazzini (ii. 472-4, 503); and we fully agree with M. de Montalembert in regarding such speculations as ridiculous nonsense. But that Columban's regard for Rome was far short of the Roman idea, and that in this respect he was only a representative of that independence which marked the whole character of the early Irish church, appears to us altogether unquestionable. There are, indeed, in his letters to popes some strange and hyperbolical expressions of respect; but when we look to the substance of those letters, we find an entire freedom of opinion and a sturdy resolution to maintain his own peculiar views; and, while he highly magnifies the dignity of the Roman see, he yet expressly places it below that of Jerusalem-' the place of the Lord's resurrection' (Ep. v. sect. 18). M. de Montalembert quotes the passage, but significantly abstains from making any comment (ii. 467).
Columban is chiefly memorable on account of his monastic rule, of which M. de Montalembert gives an abstract (ii. 475-6). We are rather surprised to find that, among other characteristics, he speaks of it as being vaguer than the Benedictine rule; for, if we judge of the system by taking Columban's Penitential in connexion with the rule to which it is a necessary supplement, we should rather consider that Columban erred on the side of too great precision, by prescribing exact measures of obedience, or of punishment for disobedience, where Benedict had left the determination of such things to the discretion of the abbot. There
rather gives the substance of what Columban had learnt as to certain Catholics' elsewhere-perhaps the Egyptian monks of St. Pachomius, with whose arrangements as to psalmody the account of the practice of the Catholics' in question agrees pretty closely.
* Published by the Irish Archæological Society, Dublin, 1857.
is, for instance, nothing in the Benedictine code like that legislation which enacted six strokes as the penalty for omitting to make the sign of the cross on a spoon or a candle, six for coughing at the beginning of a psalm, and ten for spilling beer on the table of the refectory. M. de Montalembert denies, and with reason, the opinion of Mabillon and others, that Columban himself, in his Italian monastery, adopted the Benedictine rule instead of his own (ii. 474); but he tells us truly that in no long time the rule of Columban was generally superseded by the Benedictine, and he accounts for this by saying that the Benedictine discipline was in alliance with the Roman influence. No doubt this alliance must have shared in producing the result; for even in the seventh century the papacy had become a considerable power, and able to contribute much towards the spreading of such usages as it countenanced. But surely the difference of character between the two rules-the superior good sense and the greater elasticity of the Benedictine-contributed even more than the influence of Rome to the victory which the Benedictine system gained over the peculiar, and in many respects eccentric and ridiculous, regulations of Columban. Columban, as M. de Montalembert truly remarks, was the man who gave the greatest impulse to the monasticism of the seventh century; but he was without that foresight which is necessary for a legislator whose work is to endure for ages (ii. 478).
And now, having indicated the contents of the narrative part of these volumes, we may go back to the Introduction, in which the author has expressed his views of monachism in general. We cannot but think that he has regarded matters too exclusively from his own position; that, although he occasionally refers to other countries, he thinks almost solely of France. Everywhere, he says, monachism was suppressed in the eighteenth century; everywhere, if freedom of action be allowed, it revives in the nineteenth (viii.). But in order to justify the first part of this saying, he is obliged to forget the fact that in Italy, Spain, and Southern Germany, the monastic communities survived the eighteenth century; and there is the awkward fact that, among the people of Spain and of Italy at least, the tendency of the nineteenth century is not to be content with what they have,to profit by the sad experience of others, and to be thankful that they may spare themselves the evils of the suppression and the labour of the restoration,-but simply to get rid of monkery, without regard to what may follow. And what is the revival? So small, so partial, so strongly suggesting by its appearance the suspicion that in most cases it is merely theatrical, as to dis
pense us from the necessity of seriously considering it. If M. de Montalembert's object were merely to obtain a fair recognition of the services formerly rendered by the monks to mankind, we should have little to say against him; but, since he declares his belief in a coming general restoration of monachism, and designs his book as a contribution towards that object, we are obliged to say that we think such a movement at once unlikely and undesirable.
M. de Montalembert tells us that, when he began his work, he had no idea what a monk really was. In the whole course of his education, whether at home or in public schools and colleges, no one of his tutors in history or religion had ever spoken of the religious orders; and when he first saw a monkish habit, it was on the stage of a theatre (xi.-xii.). Yet at that very time the Protestant Guizot was delivering those lectures to which M. de Montalembert so often pays deserved compliments for their author's just understanding and estimate of the middle ages in general, and of the monastic institutions in particular; while in Germany such Protestants as Voigt and Raumer had shown a full appreciation of the good of monachism in their historical works, and in England the Protestant Wordsworth had 'celebrated the glory of the monastic orders with a truth and an emotion, and had lamented their ruin with an eloquence, unsurpassed among modern poets' (cxii.). It would seem, therefore, that Protestants had mastered the subject of monachism while the youth of high royalist and high Catholic noble French families were trained in ignorance of it; and, if our ignorance as to these matters, when we began to read M. de Montalembert's book, was less than that with which the author entered on his preparation for it, he must not expect us to hail his accounts of the monks as new and startling revelations, or, for the love of mediaval monachism as represented in his pages, to become converts to the church which kept her future champion so entirely in the dark with regard to it.
As to St. Bernard, in particular, M. de Montalembert tells us that, although all the world owns him to have been a great man, no one understands that his monastic profession was the secret of his greatness (iii.). We cannot tell on what this statement is founded; but here again it would seem that Protestant historians have apprehended the matter better than those writers with whom M. de Montalembert is more conversant; for it is, we believe, the common opinion of the more recent Protestant writers that Bernard ruled his age because he was the highest pattern of that kind of sanctity which it most admired, and that he was but little conscious of his almost unlimited and unequalled power.