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* * Look at his riches,' said she (Ermenburga]' look at his retainers of high birth, his gorgeous vestments, his jewelled plate, his multitude of obedient monasteries, the towers and spires and swelling roofs of all his stately buildings; why, your kingdom is but his bishopric.”—pp. 75, 76. Which might be supposed, from the former description of his walking and riding, to be a slander on Wilfrid. The author does not treat it as such. He says,
* Ermenburga was like the world : to the world's eye this was what a churchman looked like in catholic ages : yet the world's eye sees untruly. The gorgeous vestments, the jewelled plate-these are in the church of God, the sanctuary of the pious poor : outside of that is the hair shirt, and then the iron girdles, and the secret (?) spikes corroding the flesh, and the long weals of the heavy discipline, and the horny knees, and the craving thirst, and the gnawing hunger, and the stone pillow, and the cold vigil. Yet does the world exaggerate the churchman's power? Nay, it cannot take half its altitude; his power is immeasurably greater : but it does not reside, not a whit of it, in the vestments or the plate, in the lordly ministers or the monkish chivalry, but in the mystery of all that apparel of mortification just enumerated, that broken will and poverty of spirit to which earth
is given as a present possession, no less than heaven pledged as a future heritage. The church is a kingdom, and ascetics are veritable kings.
No words can more clearly express the pharisaical nature of the system Mr. Newman is endeavouring to propagate. The ascetic is powerful and popular. So powerful and popular that princes become jealous and alarmed. Do they overrate his power or popularity ? They do not. They only mistake its source. The real secret of his power and influence is his austerities; and the mode by which he uses them to obtain power is, by letting them be seen-concealing them just enough to invest himself with mystery-to excite interest, and awaken curiosity; and now and then letting the secret escape so as to secure that power and popularity which, in his estimation, is the inheritance a pure and holy God has promised to the poor in spirit. This is plainly the meaning of the passage. It is capable of no other. For, if these Christian Fakeers did not take care to let the world know of the hair shirt, and the iron girdles, and the secret spikes corroding the flesh, and the long weals of the heavy discipline, and the horny knees, and the craving thirst, und the gnawing hunger, and the stone pillow, and the cold vigil, how could their power reside “in the mystery of all that apparel of mortification ?” How could such arts of pious suicide give them any power or inf ence at all ?
One's heart dies within one at such a disgusting picture of selfish worldliness, making religion the tool to advance its ambitious designs. For, is it possible to imagine the love of the world to exist in more consuming intensity than in the bosom of that man who can subject himself to such tortures, merely that his fellow-sinners may do obeisance to him, and bow down before his power? And yet these are the men who talk of high and holy catholicity! These are the men who sneer at the “high and dry," and scoff at the antiquated piety of the church of England ! Surely it is the divine mercy that has permitted them to go to such lengths of fanaticism, in order that their folly should be manifest to all men.
It is not meant by this that such persons are deliberately attempting to impose on mankind. Self-deception is far more prevalent than hypocrisy. And be who habitually imposes on himself has his notions
of truth and falsehood confused, and does a thousand things without being very distinctly conscious of what he is doing, which, if practised by a man of another temper, could be attributed to nothing short of dishonesty and fraud. Some men have such a propensity for effect, that they are acting even when alone.
In reading these lives, it will of course be remembered, that it is rather the author's notions of what a Saint should be which are conveyed to the reader, than an exact account of what he really was. The pretensions of these books to be regarded as anything better than fables will need to be considered hereafter-but the reason of making the observation at present is this, that it is quite possible the persons depicted were not guilty of such practices of pharisaical display, as these authors lead one to suppose. But, then, it is not just now a question of real moment what they were, or, in fact, whether they ever existed at all. The question is, what are the notions of sanctity and Christian morality which Mr. Newman and his party are, through these popular fictions, endeavouring to propagate ? Let any one of common understanding read the following picture of St. German's austerities, and ask himself, how is it possible for any human being to regulate his life in such a manner, and honestly covet concealment ? Honestly-for if he be not endeavouring to attract attention to his mortifications for a bad and selfish purpose, he must intend to make an impression of some sort. Some of the particular modes of austerity in that description are such as it was not possible to conceal, and such as no person would have dreamt of adopting as his dietary, unless he wished to make a display, whatever end he hoped ultimately to gain by attracting notice. It is not meant that a love of display may not be part of mere fanaticism—a man may likewise have a natural taste for acting and for scenes, and all the while he really may hardly be aware of it himself; but, to hold up for veneration a life so regulated, as that such concealment of mortification as is expressly commanded by Christ is simply impracticable, is a melancholy proof, indeed, of the fundamentally false and unchristian character of the system, which it is the object of these lives, and of Mr. Newman's other labours, to substitute for the faith and piety of the church of England. The passage in the Life of St. German here referred to is as follows. And the reader will not fail to notice, how, in the very first sentence, the author betrays his consciousness of the objection to which such conduct as he is recommending is open.
“ With regard to his austerities, much of course was concealed from the public gaze, as is remarked of our own George Herbert ; but though he ever strove to avoid observation, yet as a city built on a hill cannot remain hid, so the brightness of his sanctity shone through all reserve, and spread a glow over his least actions. What was ascertained may be briefly summed up as follows: From the day on which he began his ministry to the end of his life, that is, for the space of thirty years, he was so spare in his diet, that he never eat wheaten bread, never touched wine, vinegar, oil or vegetables, nor ever made use of salt to season his food. On the nativity and resurrection of our Lord alone, he allowed himself one draught of wine diluted with water, so as to preserve little of its flavour. Meat was out of the question; he lived more rigorously than any monk, and in those early times no meat was allowed to monks in France, except in the most urgent cases of debility and sickness. What he did take was mere barley bread, which he had winnowed and ground himself. First how
ever he took some ashes, and, by way of humiliation, tasted them. Serere as was this diet, it appears almost miraculous when we are told that he never eat at all but twice a week, on Wednesdays and Saturdays, and in the evening of those days; nay that generally he abstained entirely till the seventh day."—St. German, pp. 52, 53.
Why he ate even then does not appear. To live without food altogether would have given a greater air of piquancy to the miracle, without materially increasing its improbability. But then the “hard life” would not have been quite so “ impressive;" for it must have been so edifying to see his periodical winnowings and grindings; and then, too, only think of the ashes to be tasted before every meal“ by way of humiliation.” Of course, this practice was “concealed from the public gaze," at least it is to be hoped so; and a pan of ashes would be kept in a privy chamber, to which he might retire to take a taste of them before dinner, as folks now-a-days go to make their toilet. But somehow the “secret” escaped. Perhaps the servant whose business it was to keep the pan supplied with ashes told the secret, and so it got to be talked of, and people, to be sure, were edified.
But St. German's clothes and bedehamber were not less “impressive" than his diet. Summer and winter, we are told, he wore nothing but a shirt without sleeves, (tunic,) and a hood, (cuculla.) Under this shirt he “wore the badge of the religious profession, the hair-cloth, (cilicium,) which never left him.” As this hair-cloth was a “badge,” of course there could be no concealment there; and as it is known that it "never left him," no concealment seems to have been attempted. Altogether (as this author chooses to describe him) he seems to have been a person of nasty habits, and to have made a merit of being so.
" He seldom bought a new dress, but wore the old till it was nearly in rags, unless, perchance he parted with it for some person in distress, whom he had no other means of relieving."—pp. 53, 54.
Though really one would have thought a bishop, whose diet consisted of a refection once or twice a-week of barley-bread of his own manufacture, seasoned with a little ashes, could have afforded a poor man a few shillings, instead of giving him his only shirt, and that one, as appears by the sequel, not over and above clean. But then it was so affecting, so very impressive, to see the good bishop taking off his only shirt, and giving it to some person in distress, and going about in his hood and hair-cloth till next quarter day came round, or a renewal fine dropt in, and enabled him to buy another for himself.
“His bed was even more uninviting than his dress. Four planks, in the form of an oblong, contained a bed of ashes, which they prevented from being dispersed. By the continual pressure of the body, they had become hard, and presented a surface as rough as stone. On this he lay with his hair-cloth alone, and another coarse cloth for a coverlet. No pillow supported his head, his whole body lay flat on the painful couch. He did not take off his garment to sleep, and seldom even loosened the girdle, or took off bis shoes.”—p. 54.
Altogether he must have been a most filthy and disagreeable person. One would suppose that a regard for his neighbour's comfort would have prevented his sleeping in the same clothes as he wore by day, and that, on a bed of ashes; and, for anything that appears to the contrary, he never took off the same suit of hair-cloth as long as
it kept together. Even the cold-water system would have been preferable to this—at least, in moderation ; but, unfortunately, the Saints, whatever else is known of them, do not let their moderation be known to all men. In fact, they are always in one extreme or anothereither spending the best part of the day, or the whole of the night, up to their necks in a well or fish-pond, or else they labour under a spiritual hydrophobia, and become nuisances to all about them. The most delicate instance of consideration for the comforts of other people, that one remembers, in these Lives of the English Saints, is found in the life of St. Bartholomew the hermit, whom his biographer introduces to us by saying
“We may feel startled and disgusted that such a figure with an ill smell of goat skins, should come betwixt the wind and our nobility; but, turn away as we will, there he still stands to reproach our sloth and luxury, the genuine product of an age of faith."-Hermit Saints, pp. 132, 133. Whence it may be concluded, that, in “an age of faith,” cleanliness was not considered to be so near akin to godliness as it has been deemed in the degenerate days of " most erring and most unfortunate England.” However, even in an age of faith, men had noses; and therefore, though one must believe it part of the heroicity of sanctity to have an ill smell, the saints did sometimes condescend to forego that virtue, or at least to restrain it by a sort of a sumptuary law of cleanliness, in condesenscion to their brethren's infirmities. So when Prior Thomas was deposed from Durham, and nothing would please him but, of all places in the world, to take up his abode with Bartholomew and his goat skins but it is better to let the author tell his story in his own way
“The coming of this new inmate was a trial to Bartholomew ; he had as yet been uncontrolled in his religious exercises, he had now to consult the comfort of another. It was now to be proved whether he was so wedded to his austerities as not to give up as many of them as were shewn to be against the will of God. He began well, for he threw off the hair shirt which he had now worn for five years, because from long usage it had become foul and fetid, and would disgust his companion. An unhappy cause of discussion however occurred, which marred the harmony even of this small society. Thomas could not bear the long fasts to which Bartholomew was accustomed, and Bartholomew would not remain at his meals as long as Thomas wished. The ex-prior, though the brother in every respect gave up to his will, grew angry, and called him a hypocrite.”—pp. 148, 149. Which really, one must say, was hardly fair, considering that Bartholomew had relinquished his old friend, the shirt, to please him. But will it not be rather a new idea to most people to be told, that wearing the same shirt for five years till it become a downright nuisance, is a religious exercise ? The heathens had more refined notions. With them a delicious perfume was one of the signs of deity.
“Mansit odor; posses scire fuisse deam." It remained for the advocates of " a deeper and more poetical religion" to reckon ill smells and nasty habits among the notes of sanctity and the heroicities of virtue. Not that these authors consider nastiness as uniformly conclusive of sanctity. There is a curious passage in the life of St. Walburga, (that legend to which Mr. Newman has thought fit to affix an especial imprimatur,) which looks as
if the saints are not the only persons who annoy their neighbours in this way. On the contrary, they sometimes seem to have been annoyed in a similar manner themselves.
" It is said of the holy Sturme, a disciple and companion of Winfrid, that in passing a horde of unconverted Germans as they were bathing and gambolling in a stream, he was so overpowered by the intolerable scent which arose from them, that be nearly fainted away.”—St. Walburga, p. 77.
Very remarkable. Yet if these gambolling Germans had been converted, and become disciples of St. Bartholomew or St. German, it may be doubted whether the case would have been much mended.
But all this has led one away from St. German and his bed of ashes. The reader may be curious to know how he slept. This part of the fable, however, assumes rather a serious aspect, as it at once runs into that profaneness of which there is such frequent reason to complain,
“ His sleep was such as might be expected from these austerities; it was neither long, nor uninterrupted. Frequently after the example of our Lord he would pass the whole night in prayer; and it should seem that these holy vigils had a peculiar efficacy in his case, which manifested itself in the following mornings by miracles and extraordinary deeds. These midnight watchings were divided between the tears and groans of penitence and hymns of praise and intercession. In this manner, says his biographer, as we have before remarked, did the blessed German expiate any past errors into which human infirmity may have led him, and set the example of a sudden and transcendent holiness.”—pp. 54, 55.
There are some who seem to think an example is something which nobody is expected to imitate, and thus the laity are fond of calling the clergy “ exemplary characters." Really one would have hoped that something of this sort was meant by calling German an “example” of " transcendent holiness,” though, perhaps, it may be better that it is otherwise. False doctrine is deprived of some of its danger when it is made repulsive. If people are to be taught, that they can "expiate” their sins by self-torments and a lingering suicide, it is just as well that they should be recommended to eat ashes, and lie in dirt, and wear filthy clothes. The nastiness of one part of the prescription may prove an antidote to the poison of the other. Children have been cured of pilfering sweetmeats, by leaving some within their reach seasoned with aloes. Some young persons will, of course, be found to adopt any eccentricity that promises to make them “impressive ;” and, now a days, many a one takes up with catholic usages and genuflexions who but lately would have traded on moustaches or a Byron tie. St. German, however, can never find many imitators. The majority are likely to prefer more gentlemanlike modes of producing an effect; and of those who are simply enthusiasts, few will be found to persevere in following an “example” of “transcendent holiness" of this unclean description. To speak seriously: one may well be thankful that Mr. Newinan and his party have taken to make their errors ridiculous and disgusting. As long as penance consists in cold water, there may be something in it of romance and poetry. There is nothing poetical in nastiness—there is nothing romantic in an ill smell. The notions which these writers