Meet us on:
Entire Site
    Try our fun game

    Dueling book covers…may the best design win!

    Random Quote
    "Organized crime in America takes in over forty billion dollars a year and spends very little on office supplies."

    Subscribe to Our Newsletter

    Follow us on Twitter

    Never miss a good book again! Follow Read Print on Twitter

    Ch. 15 - The Mystics

    • Rate it:
    Launch Reading Mode Next Chapter
    Chapter 15
    Previous Chapter
    The schoolmen of the twelfth century thought they could reach God by
    reason; the Council of Sens, guided by Saint Bernard, replied that
    the effort was futile and likely to be mischievous. The council made
    little pretence of knowing or caring what method Abelard followed;
    they condemned any effort at all on that line; and no sooner had
    Bernard silenced the Abbot of Saint-Gildas for innovation than he
    turned about and silenced the Bishop of Poitiers for conservatism.
    Neither in the twelfth nor in any other century could three men have
    understood alike the meaning of Gilbert de la Poree, who seems to
    one high authority unworthy of notice and to another, worthy of an
    elaborate but quite unintelligible commentary. When M. Rousselet and
    M. Haureau judge so differently of a voluminous writer, the Council
    at Rheims which censured Bishop Gilbert in 1148 can hardly have been
    clear in mind. One dare hazard no more than a guess at Gilbert's
    offence, but the guess is tolerably safe that he, like Abelard,
    insisted on discussing and analyzing the Trinity. Gilbert seems to
    have been a rigid realist, and he reduced to a correct syllogism the
    idea of the ultimate substance--God. To make theology a system
    capable of scholastic definition he had to suppose, behind the
    active deity, a passive abstraction, or absolute substance without
    attributes; and then the attributes--justice, mercy, and the rest--
    fell into rank as secondary substances. "Formam dei divinitatem
    appellant." Bernard answered him by insisting with his usual fiery
    conviction that the Church should lay down the law, once for all,
    and inscribe it with iron and diamond, that Divinity--Divine Wisdom
    --is God. In philosophy and science the question seems to be still
    open. Whether anything ultimate exists--whether substance is more
    than a complex of elements--whether the "thing in itself" is a
    reality or a name--is a question that Faraday and Clerk-Maxwell seem
    to answer as Bernard did, while Haeckel answers it as Gilbert did;
    but in theology even a heretic wonders how a doubt was possible. The
    absolute substance behind the attributes seems to be pure Spinoza.

    This supposes that the heretic understands what Gilbert or Haeckel
    meant, which is certainly a mistake; but it is possible that he may
    see in part what Bernard meant and this is enough if it is all.
    Abelard's necessitarianism and Gilbert's Spinozism, if Bernard
    understood them right, were equally impossible theology, and the
    Church could by no evasion escape the necessity of condemning both.
    Unfortunately, Bernard could not put his foot down so roughly on the
    schools without putting it on Aristotle as well; and, for at least
    sixty years after the Council of Rheims, Aristotle was either
    tacitly or expressly prohibited.

    One cannot stop to explain why Aristotle himself would have been
    first to forbid the teaching of what was called by his name in the
    Middle Ages; but you are bound to remember that this period between
    1140 and 1200 was that of Transition architecture and art. One must
    go to Noyon, Soissons, and Laon to study the Church that trampled on
    the schools; one must recall how the peasants of Normandy and the
    Chartrain were crusading for the Virgin in 1145, and building her
    fleches at Chartres and Saint-Pierre-sur-Dives while Bernard was
    condemning Gilbert at Rheims in 1148; we must go to the poets to see
    what they all meant by it; but the sum is an emotion--clear and
    strong as love and much clearer than logic--whose charm lies in its
    unstable balance. The Transition is the equilibrium between the love
    of God--which is faith--and the logic of God--which is reason;
    between the round arch and the pointed. One may not be sure which
    pleases most, but one need not be harsh toward people who think that
    the moment of balance is exquisite. The last and highest moment is
    seen at Chartres, where, in 1200, the charm depends on the constant
    doubt whether emotion or science is uppermost. At Amiens, doubt
    ceases; emotion is trained in school; Thomas Aquinas reigns.

    Bernard of Clairvaux and Thomas of Aquino were both artists,--very
    great artists, if the Church pleases,--and one need not decide which
    was the greater; but between them is a region of pure emotion--of
    poetry and art--which is more interesting than either. In every age
    man has been apt to dream uneasily, rolling from side to side,
    beating against imaginary bars, unless, tired out, he has sunk into
    indifference or scepticism. Religious minds prefer scepticism. The
    true saint is a profound sceptic; a total disbeliever in human
    reason, who has more than once joined hands on this ground with some
    who were at best sinners. Bernard was a total disbeliever in
    scholasticism; so was Voltaire. Bernard brought the society of his
    time to share his scepticism, but could give the society no other
    intellectual amusement to relieve its restlessness. His crusade
    failed; his ascetic enthusiasm faded; God came no nearer. If there
    was in all France, between 1140 and 1200, a more typical Englishman
    of the future Church of England type than John of Salisbury, he has
    left no trace; and John wrote a description of his time which makes
    a picturesque contrast with the picture painted by Abelard, his old
    master, of the century at its beginning. John weighed Abelard and
    the schools against Bernard and the cloister, and coolly concluded
    that the way to truth led rather through Citeaux, which brought him
    to Chartres as Bishop in 1176, and to a mild scepticism in faith. "I
    prefer to doubt," he said, "rather than rashly define what is
    hidden." The battle with the schools had then resulted only in
    creating three kinds of sceptics:--the disbelievers in human reason;
    the passive agnostics; and the sceptics proper, who would have been
    atheists had they dared. The first class was represented by the
    School of Saint-Victor; the second by John of Salisbury himself; the
    third, by a class of schoolmen whom he called Cornificii, as though
    they made a practice of inventing horns of dilemma on which to fix
    their opponents; as, for example, they asked whether a pig which was
    led to market was led by the man or the cord. One asks instantly:
    What cord?--whether Grace, for instance, or Free Will?

    Bishop John used the science he had learned in the school only to
    reach the conclusion that, if philosophy were a science at all, its
    best practical use was to teach charity--love. Even the early,
    superficial debates of the schools, in 1100-50, had so exhausted the
    subject that the most intelligent men saw how little was to be
    gained by pursuing further those lines of thought. The twelfth
    century had already reached the point where the seventeenth century
    stood when Descartes renewed the attempt to give a solid,
    philosophical basis for deism by his celebrated "Cogito, ergo sum."
    Although that ultimate fact seemed new to Europe when Descartes
    revived it as the starting-point of his demonstration, it was as old
    and familiar as Saint Augustine to the twelfth century, and as
    little conclusive as any other assumption of the Ego or the Non-Ego.
    The schools argued, according to their tastes, from unity to
    multiplicity, or from multiplicity to unity; but what they wanted
    was to connect the two. They tried realism and found that it led to
    pantheism. They tried nominalism and found that it ended in
    materialism. They attempted a compromise in conceptualism which
    begged the whole question. Then they lay down, exhausted. In the
    seventeenth century the same violent struggle broke out again, and
    wrung from Pascal the famous outcry of despair in which the French
    language rose, perhaps for the last time, to the grand style of the
    twelfth century. To the twelfth century it belongs; to the century
    of faith and simplicity; not to the mathematical certainties of
    Descartes and Leibnitz and Newton, or to the mathematical
    abstractions of Spinoza. Descartes had proclaimed his famous
    conceptual proof of God: "I am conscious of myself, and must exist;
    I am conscious of God and He must exist." Pascal wearily replied
    that it was not God he doubted, but logic. He was tortured by the
    impossibility of rejecting man's reason by reason; unconsciously
    sceptical, he forced himself to disbelieve in himself rather than
    admit a doubt of God. Man had tried to prove God, and had failed:
    "The metaphysical proofs of God are so remote (eloignees) from the
    reasoning of men, and so contradictory (impliquees, far-fetched)
    that they make little impression; and even if they served to
    convince some people, it would only be during the instant that they
    see the demonstration; an hour afterwards they fear to have deceived
    themselves." Moreover, this kind of proof could lead only to a
    speculative knowledge, and to know God only in that way was not to
    know Him at all. The only way to reach God was to deny the value of
    reason, and to deny reason was scepticism:--

    En voyant l'aveuglement et la misere de l'homme et ces contrarietes
    etonnantes qui se decouvrent dans sa nature, et regardant tout
    l'univers muet, et l'homme sans lumiere, abandonne a lui-meme et
    comme egare dans ce recoin de l'umvers, sans savoir qui l'y a mis,
    ce qu'il y est venu faire, ce qu'il deviendra en mourant, j'entre en
    effroi comme un homme qu'on aurait porte endormi dans une ile
    deserte et effroyable, et qui s'eveillerait sans connaitre ou il est
    et sans avoir aucun moyen d'en sortir. Et sur cela j'admire comment
    on n'entre pas en desespoir d'un si miserable etat. Je vois d'autres
    personnes aupres de moi de semblable nature, et je leur demande
    s'ils sont mieux instruits que moi, et ils me disent que non Et sur
    cela, ces miserables egares, ayant regarde autour d'eux, et ayant vu
    quelques objets plaisants, s'y sont donnes et s'y sont attaches Pour
    moi je n'ai pu m'y arreter ni me reposer dans la societe de ces
    personnes, en tout semblables a moi, miserables comme moi,
    impuissants comme moi. Je vois qu'ils ne m'aideraient pas a mourir,
    je mourrai seul, il faut donc faire comme si j'etais seul or, si
    j'etais seul, je ne batirais pas des maisons, je ne m'embarrasserais
    point dans des occupations tumultuaires, je ne chercherais l'estime
    de personne, mais je tacherais settlement a decouvrir la verite.

    Ainsi, considerant combien il y a d'apparence qu'il y a autre chose
    que ce que je vois, j'ai recherche si ce Dieu dont tout le monde
    parle n'aurait pas laisse quelques marques de lui. Je regarde de
    toutes parts et ne vois partout qu' obscuritd. La nature ne m'offre
    rien que ne soit matiere de doute et d'inquietude. Si je n'y voyais
    rien qui marquat une divinite, je me determinerais a n'en rien
    croire. Si je voyais partout les marques d'un Createur, je me
    reposerais en paix dans la foi. Mais voyant trop pour nier, et trop
    peu pour m'assurer, je suis dans un etat a plaindre, et ou j'ai
    souhaite cent fois que si un Dieu soutient la nature, elle le
    marquat sans Equivoque; et que, si les marques qu'elle en donne sont
    trompeuses, elle les supprimat tout a fait; qu'elle dit tout ou
    rien, afin que je visse quel parti je dois suivre.

    When I see the blindness and misery of man and the astonishing
    contradictions revealed in his nature, and observe the whole
    universe mute, and man without light, abandoned to himself, as
    though lost in this corner of the universe, without knowing who put
    him here, or what he has come here to do, or what will become of him
    in dying, I feel fear like a man who has been carried when asleep
    into a desert and fearful island, and has waked without knowing
    where he is and without having means of rescue. And thereupon I
    wonder how man escapes despair at so miserable an estate. I see
    others about me, like myself, and I ask them if they are better
    informed than I, and they tell me no. And then these wretched
    wanderers, after looking about them and seeing some pleasant object,
    have given themselves up and attached themselves to it. As for me I
    cannot stop there, or rest in the company of these persons, wholly
    like myself, miserable like me, impotent like me. I see that they
    would not help me to die, I shall die alone, I must then act as
    though alone, but if I were alone I should not build houses, I
    should not fret myself with bustling occupations, I should seek the
    esteem of no one, but I should try only to discover the truth.

    So, considering how much appearance there is that something exists
    other than what I see I have sought whether this God of Whom every
    one talks may not have left some marks of Himself. I search
    everywhere, and see only obscurity everywhere. Nature offers me
    nothing but matter of possible doubt and disquiet. If I saw there
    nothing to mark a divinity, I should make up my mind to believe
    nothing of it. If I saw everywhere the marks of a Creator, I should
    rest in peace in faith. But seeing too much to deny, and too little
    to affirm, I am in a pitiable state, where I have an hundred times
    wishes that, if a God supports nature, she would show it without
    equivocation; and that, if the marks she gives are deceptive, she
    would suppress them wholly; that she say all of nothing, that I may
    see my path.

    This is the true Prometheus lyric, but when put back in its place it
    refuses to rest at Port-Royal which has a right to nothing but
    precision; it has but one real home--the Abbaye-de-Saint-Victor. The
    mind that recoils from itself can only commit a sort of ecstatic
    suicide; it must absorb itself in God; and in the bankruptcy of
    twelfth-century science the Western Christian seemed actually on the
    point of attainment; he, like Pascal, touched God behind the veil of

    The schools had already proved one or two points which need never
    have been discussed again. In essence, religion was love; in no case
    was it logic. Reason can reach nothing except through the senses;
    God, by essence, cannot be reached through the senses; if He is to
    be known at all, He must be known by contact of spirit with spirit,
    essence with essence; directly; by emotion; by ecstasy; by
    absorption of our existence in His; by substitution of his spirit
    for ours. The world had no need to wait five hundred years longer in
    order to hear this same result reaffirmed by Pascal. Saint Francis
    of Assisi had affirmed it loudly enough, even if the voice of Saint
    Bernard had been less powerful than it was. The Virgin had asserted
    it in tones more gentle, but any one may still see how convincing,
    who stops a moment to feel the emotion that lifted her wonderful
    Chartres spire up to God.

    The Virgin, indeed, made all easy, for it was little enough she
    cared for reason or logic. She cared for her baby, a simple matter,
    which any woman could do and understand. That, and the grace of God,
    had made her Queen of Heaven. The Trinity had its source in her,--
    totius Trinitatis nobile Triclinium,--and she was maternity. She was
    also poetry and art. In the bankruptcy of reason, she alone was

    So Guillaume de Champeaux, half a century dead, came to life again
    in another of his creations. His own Abbey of Saint-Victor, where
    Abelard had carried on imaginary disputes with him, became the
    dominant school. As far as concerns its logic, we had best pass it
    by. The Victorians needed logic only to drive away logicians, which
    was hardly necessary after Bernard had shut up the schools. As for
    its mysticism, all training is much alike in idea, whether one
    follows the six degrees of contemplation taught by Richard of Saint-
    Victor, or the eightfold noble way taught by Gautama Buddha. The
    theology of the school was still less important, for the Victorians
    contented themselves with orthodoxy only in the sense of caring as
    little for dogma as for dialectics; their thoughts were fixed on
    higher emotions. Not Richard the teacher, but Adam the poet,
    represents the school to us, and when Adam dealt with dogma he
    frankly admitted his ignorance and hinted his indifference; he was,
    as always, conscientious; but he was not always, or often, as cold.
    His statement of the Trinity is a marvel; but two verses of it are

    Digne loqui de personis
    Vim transcendit rationis,
    Excedit ingenia.
    Quid sit gigni, quid processus,
    Me nescire sum professus,
    Sed fide non dubia.

    Qui sic credit, non festinet,
    Et a via non declinet
    Insolenter regia.
    Servet fidem, formet mores,
    Nec attendat ad errors
    Quos damnat Ecclesia.

    Of the Trinity to reason
    Leads to license or to treason
    Punishment deserving.
    What is birth and what procession
    Is not mine to make profession,
    Save with faith unswerving.

    Thus professing, thus believing,
    Never insolently leaving
    The highway of our faith,
    Duty weighing, law obeying,
    Never shall we wander straying
    Where heresy is death.

    Such a school took natural refuge in the Holy Ghost and the Virgin,
    --Grace and Love,--but the Holy Ghost, as usual, profited by it much
    less than the Virgin. Comparatively little of Adam's poetry is
    expressly given to the Saint Esprit, and too large a part of this
    has a certain flavour of dogma:--

    Qui procedis ab utroque
    Genitore Genitoque
    Pariter, Paraclite!
    . . . . . . . . . Amor Patris, Filiique
    Par amborum et utrique
    Compar et consimilis!

    The Holy Ghost is of the Father and of the
    Son; neither made nor created nor begotten,
    but proceeding.

    The whole three Persons are coeternal
    together; and coequal.

    This sounds like a mere versification of the Creed, yet when Adam
    ceased to be dogmatic and broke into true prayer, his verse added a
    lofty beauty even to the Holy Ghost; a beauty too serious for modern

    Oh, juvamen oppressorum,
    Oh, solamen miserorum,
    Pauperum refugium,
    Da contemptum terrenorum!
    Ad amorem supernorum
    Trahe desiderium!

    Consolator et fundator,
    Habitator et amator,
    Cordium humilium,
    Pelle mala, terge sordes,
    Et discordes fac Concordes,
    Et affer praesidium!

    Oh, helper of the heavy-laden,
    Oh, solace of the miserable,
    Of the poor, the refuge,
    Give contempt of earthly pleasures!
    To the love of heavenly treasures
    Lift our hearts' desire!

    Consolation and foundation,
    Dearest friend and habitation
    Of the lowly-hearted,
    Dispel our evil, cleanse our foulness,
    And our discords turn to concord,
    And bring us succour!

    Adam's scholasticism was the most sympathetic form of mediaeval
    philosophy. Even in prose, the greatest writers have not often
    succeeded in stating simply and clearly the fact that infinity can
    make itself finite, or that space can make itself bounds, or that
    eternity can generate time. In verse, Adam did it as easily as
    though he were writing any other miracle,--as Gaultier de Coincy
    told the Virgin's,--and any one who thinks that the task was as easy
    as it seems, has only to try it and see whether he can render into a
    modern tongue any single word which shall retain the whole value of
    the word which Adam has chosen:--

    Ne periret homo reus
    Redemptorem misit Deus,
    Pater unigenitum;
    Visitavit quos amavit
    Nosque vitae revocavit
    Gratia non meritum.

    Infinitus et Immensus,
    Quem non capit ullus sensus
    Nec locorum spatia,
    Ex eterno temporalis,
    Ex immenso fit localis,
    Ut restauret omnia.

    To death condemned by awful sentence,
    God recalled us to repentance,
    Sending His only Son;
    Whom He loved He came to cherish;
    Whom His justice doomed to perish,
    By grace to life he won.

    Infinity, Immensity,
    Whom no human eye can see
    Or human thought contain,
    Made of infinity a space,
    Made of Immensity a place,
    To win us Life again.

    The English verses, compared with the Latin, are poor enough, with
    the canting jingle of a cheap religion and a thin philosophy, but by
    contrast and comparison they give higher value to the Latin. One
    feels the dignity and religious quality of Adam's chants the better
    for trying to give them an equivalent. One would not care to hazard
    such experiments on poetry of the highest class like that of Dante
    and Petrarch, but Adam was conventional both in verse and thought,
    and aimed at obtaining his effects from the skilful use of the Latin
    sonorities for the purposes of the chant. With dogma and metaphysics
    he dealt boldly and even baldly as he was required to do, and
    successfully as far as concerned the ear or the voice; but poetry
    was hardly made for dogma; even the Trinity was better expressed
    mathematically than by rhythm. With the stronger emotions, such as
    terror, Adam was still conventional, and showed that he thought of
    the chant more than of the feeling and exaggerated the sound beyond
    the value of the sense. He could never have written the "Dies Irae."
    He described the shipwreck of the soul in magnificent sounds without
    rousing an emotion of fear; the raging waves and winds that swept
    his bark past the abysses and up to the sky were as conventional as
    the sirens, the dragons, the dogs, and the pirates that lay in wait.
    The mast nodded as usual; the sails were rent; the sailors ceased
    work; all the machinery was classical; only the prayer to the Virgin
    saved the poetry from sinking like the ship; and yet, when chanted,
    the effect was much too fine to bear translation:--

    Ave, Virgo singularis,
    Mater nostri Salutaris,
    Quae vocaris Stella Maris,
    Stella non erratica;
    Nos in hujus vitae mari
    Non permitte naufragari,
    Sed pro nobis Salutari
    Tuo semper supplica!

    Saevit mare, fremunt venti,
    Fluctus surgunt turbulenti;
    Navis currit, sed currenti
    Tot occurrunt obvia!
    Hic sirenes voluptatis,
    Draco, canes cum piratis,
    Mortem pene desperatis
    Haec intentant omnia.

    Post abyssos, nunc ad coelum
    Furens unda fert phaselum;
    Nutat malus, fluit velum,
    Nautae cessat opera;
    Contabescit in his malis
    Homo noster animalis;
    Tu nos, Mater spiritalis,
    Pereuntes liberal!

    Finer still is the famous stanza sung at Easter, in which Christ
    rises, the Lion of Judah, in the crash of the burst gates of death,
    at the roar of the Father Lion:--

    Sic de Juda, leo fortis,
    Fractis portis dirae mortis,
    Die surgens tertia,
    Rugiente voce patris
    Ad supernae sinum matris
    Tot revexit spolia.

    For terror or ferocity or images of pain, the art of the twelfth
    century had no use except to give a higher value to their images of
    love. The figures on the west portal of Chartres are alive with the
    spirit of Adam's poetry, but it is the spirit of the Virgin. Like
    Saint Bernard, Adam lavished his affections on Mary, and even more
    than Saint Bernard he could claim to be her poet-laureate. Bernard
    was not himself author of the hymn "Stella Maris" which brought him
    the honour of the Virgin's personal recognition, but Adam was author
    of a dozen hymns in which her perfections were told with equal
    fervour, and which were sung at her festivals. Among these was the

    Salve, Mater Pietatis,
    Et totius Trinitatis
    Nobile Triclinium!

    a compliment so refined and yet so excessive that the Venerable
    Thomas Cantimpratensis who died a century later, about 1280, related
    in his "Apiarium" that when "venerabilis Adam" wrote down these
    lines, Mary herself appeared to him and bent her head in
    recognition. Although the manuscripts do not expressly mention this
    miracle, they do contain, at that stanza, a curious note expressing
    an opinion, apparently authorized by the prior, that, if the Virgin
    had seen fit to recognize the salutation of the Venerable Adam in
    this manner, she would have done only what he merited: "ab ea
    resalutari et regratiari meruit."

    Adam's poems are still on the shelves of most Parisian bookshops, as
    common as "Aucassins" and better known than much poetry of our own
    time; for the mediaeval Latin rhymes have a delightful sonority and
    simplicity that keep them popular because they were not made to be
    read but to be sung. One does not forget their swing:--

    Infinitus et Immensus;


    Oh, juvamen oppressorum;


    Consolatrix miserorum
    Suscitatrix mortuorum.

    The organ rolls through them as solemnly as ever it did in the Abbey
    Church; but in mediaeval art so much more depends on the mass than
    on the measure--on the dignity than on the detail--that equivalents
    are impossible. Even Walter Scott was content to translate only
    three verses of the "Dies Irae." At best, Viollet-le-Duc could
    reproduce only a sort of modern Gothic; a more or less effaced or
    affected echo of a lost emotion which the world never felt but once
    and never could feel again. Adam composed a number of hymns to the
    Virgin, and, in them all, the feeling counts for more, by far, than
    the sense. Supposing we choose the simplest and try to give it a
    modern version, aiming to show, by comparison, the difference of
    sound; one can perhaps manage to recover a little of the simplicity,
    but give it the grand style one cannot; or, at least, if any one has
    ever done both, it is Walter Scott, and merely by placing side by
    side the "Dies Irae" and his translation of it, one can see at a
    glance where he was obliged to sacrifice simplicity only to obtain

    Dies irae, dies illa,
    Solvet seclum in favilla,
    Teste David cum Sibylla.

    Quantus tremor est futurus,
    Quando judex est venturus,
    Cuncta stride discussurus!

    Tuba mirum spargens sonum
    Per sepulchra regionum,
    Coget omnes ante thronum.

    That day of wrath, that dreadful day,
    When heaven and earth shall pass away,
    What power shall be the sinner's stay?
    How shall he meet that dreadful day?

    When shrivelling like a parched scroll
    The flaming heavens together roll;
    When louder yet and yet more dread
    Swells the high trump that wakes the dead.

    As translation the last line is artificial.

    The "Dies Irae" does not belong, in spirit, to the twelfth century;
    it is sombre and gloomy like the Last Judgments on the thirteenth-
    century portals; it does not love. Adam loved. His verses express
    the Virgin; they are graceful, tender, fervent, and they hold the
    same dignity which cannot be translated:--

    In hac valle lacrimarum
    Nihil dulce, nihil carum,
    Suspecta sunt omnia;
    Quid hic nobis erit tutum,
    Cum nec ipsa vel virtutum
    Tuta sit victoria!

    Caro nobis adversatur,
    Mundus cami suffragatur
    In nostram perniciem;
    Hostis instat, nos infestans,
    Nunc se palam manifestans,
    Nunc occultans rabiem.

    Et peccamus et punimur,
    Et diversis irretimur
    Laqueis venantium.
    O Maria, mater Dei,
    Tu, post Deum, summa spei,
    Tu dulce refugium;

    Tot et tantis irretiti,
    Non valemus his reniti
    Ne vi nec industria;
    Consolatrix miserorum,
    Suscitatrix mortuorum,
    Mortis rompe retia!

    In this valley full of tears,
    Nothing softens, nothing cheers,
    All is suspected lure;
    What safety can we hope for, here,
    When even virtue faints for fear
    Her victory be not sure!

    Within, the flesh a traitor is,
    Without, the world encompasses,
    A deadly wound to bring.
    The foe is greedy for our spoils,
    Now clasping us within his coils,
    Or hiding now his sting.

    We sin, and penalty must pay,
    And we are caught, like beasts of prey,
    Within the hunter's snares.
    Nearest to God! oh Mary Mother!
    Hope can reach us from none other,
    Sweet refuge from our cares;

    We have no strength to struggle longer,
    For our bonds are more and stronger
    Than our hearts can bear!
    You who rest the heavy-laden,
    You who lead lost souls to Heaven,
    Burst the hunter's snare!

    The art of this poetry of love and hope, which marked the mystics,
    lay of course in the background of shadows which marked the
    cloister. "Inter vania nihil vanius est homine." Man is an
    imperceptible atom always trying to become one with God. If ever
    modern science achieves a definition of energy, possibly it may
    borrow the figure: Energy is the inherent effort of every
    multiplicity to become unity. Adam's poetry was an expression of the
    effort to reach absorption through love, not through fear; but to do
    this thoroughly he had to make real to himself his own nothingness;
    most of all, to annihilate pride; for the loftiest soul can
    comprehend that an atom,--say, of hydrogen,--which is proud of its
    personality, will never merge in a molecule of water. The familiar
    verse: "Oh, why should the spirit of mortal be proud?" echoes Adam's
    epitaph to this day:--

    Haeres peccati, natura filius irae,
    Exiliique reus nascitur omnis homo.
    Unde superbit homo, cujus conceptio culpa,
    Nasci poena, labor vita, necesse mori?

    Heir of sin, by nature son of wrath,
    Condemned to exile, every man is born.
    Whence is man's pride, whose conception fault,
    Birth pain, life labour, and whose death is sure?

    Four concluding lines, not by him, express him even better:--

    Hic ego qui jaceo, miser et miserabilis Adam,
    Unam pro summo munere posco precem.
    Peccavi, fateor; veniam peto; parce fatenti;
    Parce, pater: fratres, parcite; parce, Deus!

    One does not conceive that Adam insisted so passionately on his sins
    because he thought them--or himself--important before the Infinite.
    Chemistry does not consider an atom of oxygen as in itself
    important, yet if it wishes to get a volume of pure gas, it must
    separate the elements. The human soul was an atom that could unite
    with God only as a simple element. The French mystics showed in
    their mysticism the same French reasonableness; the sense of
    measure, of logic, of science; the allegiance to form; the
    transparency of thought, which the French mind has always shown on
    its surface like a shell of nacre. The mystics were in substance
    rather more logical than the schoolmen and much more artistic in
    their correctness of line and scale. At bottom, French saints were
    not extravagant. One can imagine a Byzantine asserting that no
    French saint was ever quite saintly. Their aims and ideals were very
    high, but not beyond reaching and not unreasonable. Drag the French
    mind as far from line and logic as space permits, the instant it is
    freed it springs back to the classic and tries to look consequent.

    This paradox, that the French mystics were never mystical, runs
    through all our travels, so obstinately recurring in architecture,
    sculpture, legend, philosophy, religion, and poetry, that it becomes
    tiresome; and yet it is an idea that, in spite of Matthew Arnold and
    many other great critics, never has got lodgment in the English or
    German mind, and probably never will. Every one who loves travel
    will hope that it never may. If you are driven to notice it as the
    most distinctive mark of French art, it is not at all for the
    purpose of arguing a doubtful law, but only in order to widen the
    amusement of travel. We set out to travel from Mont-Saint-Michel to
    Chartres, and no farther; there we stop; but we may still look
    across the boundary to Assisi for a specimen of Italian Gothic
    architecture, a scheme of colour decoration, or still better for a
    mystic to compare with the Bernadines and Victorians. Every one who
    knows anything of religion knows that the ideal mystic saint of
    western Europe was Francis of Assisi, and that Francis, though he
    loved France, was as far as possible from being French; though not
    in the least French, he was still the finest flower from the French
    mediaeval garden; and though the French mystics could never have
    understood him, he was what the French mystics would have liked to
    be or would have thought they liked to be as long as they knew him
    to be not one of themselves. As an Italian or as a Spaniard, Francis
    was in harmony with his world; as a Frenchman, he would have been
    out of place even at Clairvaux, and still more among his own
    Cordeliers at the doors of the Sorbonne.

    Francis was born in 1186, at the instant when French art was
    culminating, or about to culminate, in the new cathedrals of Laon
    and Chartres, on the ruins of scholastic religion and in the full
    summer of the Courts of Love. He died in 1226, just as Queen Blanche
    became Regent of France and when the Cathedral of Beauvais was
    planned. His life precisely covered the most perfect moment of art
    and feeling in the thousand years of pure and confident
    Christianity. To an emotional nature like his, life was still a
    phantasm or "concept" of crusade against real or imaginary enemies
    of God, with the "Chanson de Roland" for a sort of evangel, and a
    feminine ideal for a passion. He chose for his mistress "domina
    nostra paupertas," and the rules of his order of knighthood were as
    visionary as those of Saint Bernard were practical. "Isti sunt
    fratres mei milites tabulae rotundae, qui latitant in desertis"; his
    Knights of the Round Table hid themselves for their training in
    deserts of poverty, simplicity, humility, innocence of self,
    absorption in nature, in the silence of God, and, above all, in love
    and joy incarnate, whose only influence was example. Poverty of body
    in itself mattered nothing; what Francis wanted was poverty of
    pride, and the external robe or the bare feet were outward and
    necessary forms of protection against its outward display. Against
    riches or against all external and visible vanity, rules and laws
    could be easily enforced if it were worth while, although the purest
    humility would be reached only by those who were indifferent and
    unconscious of their external dress; but against spiritual pride the
    soul is defenceless, and of all its forms the subtlest and the
    meanest is pride of intellect. If "nostra domina paupertas" had a
    mortal enemy, it was not the pride beneath a scarlet robe, but that
    in a schoolmaster's ferule, and of all schoolmasters the vainest and
    most pretentious was the scholastic philosopher. Satan was logic.
    Lord Bacon held much the same opinion. "I reject the syllogism," was
    the starting-point of his teaching as it was the essence of Saint
    Francis's, and the reasons of both men were the same though their
    action was opposite. "Let men please themselves as they will in
    admiring and almost adoring the human mind, this is certain:--that,
    as an uneven mirror distorts the rays of objects according to its
    own figure and section, so the mind ... cannot be trusted ..."
    Bacon's first object was the same as that of Francis, to humiliate
    and if possible destroy the pride of human reason; both of them knew
    that this was their most difficult task, and Francis, who was
    charity incarnate, lost his self-control whenever he spoke of the
    schools, and became almost bitter, as though in constant terror of a
    poison or a cancer. "Praeodorabat etiam tempora non longe ventura in
    quibus jam praesciebat scientiam inflativam debere esse occasionem
    ruinae." He foresaw the time not far off when puffed-up science
    would be the ruin of his "domina paupertas." His struggle with this
    form of human pride was desperate and tragical in its instant
    failure. He could not make even his novices understand what he
    meant. The most impossible task of the mind is to reject in practice
    the reflex action of itself, as Bacon pointed out, and only the
    highest training has sometimes partially succeeded in doing it. The
    schools--ancient, mediaeval, or modern--have almost equally failed,
    but even the simple rustics who tried to follow Francis could not
    see why the rule of poverty should extend to the use of a psalter.
    Over and over again he explained vehemently and dramatically as only
    an Italian or a Spaniard could, and still they failed to catch a
    notion of what he meant.

    Quum ergo venisset beatus Franciscus ad locum ubi erat ille
    novitius, dixit ille novitius: "Pater, mihi esset magna consolatio
    habere psalterium, sed licet generalis illud mihi concesserit, tamen
    vellem ipsum habere, pater, de conscientia tua." Cui beatus
    Franciscus respondit: "Carolus imperator, Rolandus et Oliverus et
    omnes palatini et robusti viri qui potentes fuerunt in proelio,
    prosequendo infideles cum multa sudore et labore usque ad mortem,
    habuerunt de illis victoriara memorialiter, et ad ultimum ipsi
    sancti martyres sunt mortui pro fide Christi in certamine. Nunc
    autem multi sunt qui sola narratione eorum quae illi fecerunt volunt
    recipere honorem et humanam laudem. Ita et inter nos sunt multi qui
    solum recitando et praedicando opera quae sancti fecerunt volunt
    recipere honorem et laudem; ... postquam habueris psalterium,
    concupisces et volueris habere breviarium; et postquam habueris
    breviarium, sedebis in cathedra tanquam magnus prelatus et dices
    fratri tuo:--Apporta mihi breviarium!"

    Haec autem dicens beatus Franciscus cum magno fervore spiritus
    accepit de cinere et posuit super caput suum, et ducendo manum super
    caput suum in circuitu sicut ille qui lavat caput, dicebat: "Ego
    breviarium! ego breviarium!" et sic reiteravit multoties ducendo
    manum per caput. Et stupefactus et verecundatus est frater ille ...
    Elapsis autem pluribus mensibus quum esset beatus Franciscus apud
    locum sanctae Mariae de Portiuncula, juxta cellam post domum in via,
    praedictus frater iterum locutus est ei de psalterio. Cui beatus
    Franciscus dixit: "Vade et facias de hoc sicut dicet tibi minister
    tuus!" Quo audito, frater ille coepit redire per viam unde venerat.
    Beatus autem Franciscus remanens in via coepit considerare illud
    quod dixerat illi fratri, et statim clamavit post cum, dicens:
    "Expecta me, frater! expecta!" Et ivit usque ad eum et ait illi:
    "Revertere mecum, frater, et ostende mihi locum ubi dixi tibi quod
    faceres de psalterio sicut diceret minister tuus." Quum ergo
    pervenissent ad locum, beatus Franciscus genuflexit coram fratre
    illo, et dixit: "Mea culpa, frater! mea culpa! quia quicunque vult
    esse frater Minor non debet habere nisi tunicam, sicut regula sibi
    concedit, et cordam et femoralia et qui manifesta necessitate
    coguntur calciamenta."

    So when Saint Francis happened to come to the place where the novice
    was, the novice said: "Father, it would be a great comfort to me to
    have a psalter, but though my general should grant it, still I would
    rather have it, father, with your knowledge too." Saint Francis
    answered: "The Emperor Charlemagne, Roland and Oliver, and all the
    palatines and strong men who were potent in battle, pursuing the
    infidels with much toil and sweat even to death, triumphed over them
    memorably [without writing it?], and at last these holy martyrs died
    in the contest for the faith of Christ. But now there are many who,
    merely by telling of what those men did, want to receive honour and
    human praise. So, too, among us are many who, merely by reciting and
    preaching the works which the saints have done, want to receive
    honour and praise; ... After you have got the psalter, you will
    covet and want a breviary; and after getting the breviary, you will
    sit on your throne like a bishop, and will say to your brother:
    'Bring me the breviary!'"

    While saying this, Saint Francis with great vehemence took up a
    handful of ashes and spread it over his bead; and moving his hand
    about his head in a circle as though washing it, said: "I, breviary!
    I, breviary!" and so kept on, repeatedly moving his hand about his
    head; and stupefied and ashamed was that novice. ... But several
    months afterwards when Saint Francis happened to be near Sta Maria
    de Portiuncula, by the cell behind the house on the road, the same
    brother again spoke to him about the psalter. Saint Francis replied:
    "Go and do about it as your director says." On this the brother
    turned back, but Saint Francis, standing in the road, began to
    reflect on what he had said, and suddenly called after him: "Wait
    for me, brother! wait!" and going after him, said: "Return with me,
    brother, and show me the place where I told you to do as your
    director should say, about the psalter." When they had come back to
    it, Saint Francis bent before the brother, and said: "Mea culpa,
    brother, mea culpa! because whoever wishes to be a Minorite must
    have nothing but a tunic, as the rule permits, and the cord, and the
    loincloth, and what covering is manifestly necessary for the limbs."

    So vivid a picture of an actual mediaeval saint stands out upon this
    simple background as is hardly to be found elsewhere in all the
    records of centuries, but if the brother himself did not understand
    it and was so shamed and stupefied by Francis's vehemence, the world
    could understand it no better; the Order itself was ashamed of Saint
    Francis because they understood him too well. They hastened to
    suppress this teaching against science, although it was the life of
    Francis's doctrine. He taught that the science of the schools led to
    perdition because it was puffed up with emptiness and pride.
    Humility, simplicity, poverty were alone true science. They alone
    led to heaven. Before the tribunal of Christ, the schoolmen would be
    condemned, "and, with their dark logic (opinionibus tenebrosis)
    shall be plunged into outer darkness with the spirits of the
    darkness." They were devilish, and would perish with the devils.

    One sees instantly that neither Francis of Assisi nor Bacon of
    Verulam could have hoped for peace with the schools; twelfth-century
    ecstasy felt the futility of mere rhetoric quite as keenly as
    seventeenth-century scepticism was to feel it; and yet when Francis
    died in 1226 at Assisi, Thomas was just being born at Aquino some
    two hundred kilometres to the southward. True scholasticism had not
    begun. Four hundred years seem long for the human mind to stand
    still--or go backward; the more because the human mind was never
    better satisfied with itself than when thus absorbed in its mirror;
    but with that chapter we have nothing to do. The pleasantest way to
    treat it was that of Saint Francis; half-serious, half-jesting; as
    though, after all, in the thought of infinity, four hundred years
    were at most only a serio-comic interlude. At Assisi, once, when a
    theologian attacked Fra Egidio by the usual formal arraignment in
    syllogisms, the brother waited until the conclusions were laid down,
    and then, taking out a flute from the folds of his robe, he played
    his answer in rustic melodies. The soul of Saint Francis was a
    rustic melody and the simplest that ever reached so high an
    expression. Compared with it, Theocritus and Virgil are as modern as
    Tennyson and ourselves.

    All this shows only what Saint Francis was not; to understand what
    he was and how he goes with Saint Bernard and Saint Victor through
    the religious idyll of Transition architecture, one must wander
    about Assisi with the "Floretum" or "Fioretti" in one's hand;--the
    legends which are the gospel of Francis as the evangels are the
    gospel of Christ, who was reincarnated in Assisi. We have given a
    deal of time to showing our own sceptical natures how simple the
    architects and decorators of Chartres were in their notions of the
    Virgin and her wants; but French simple-mindedness was already
    complex compared with Italian. The Virgin was human; Francis was
    elementary nature itself, like sun and air; he was Greek in his joy
    of life:--

    ... Recessit inde et venit inter Cannarium
    et Mevanium. Et respexit quasdam arbores
    juxta viam in quibus residebat tanta multitudo
    avium diversarum quod nunquam in
    partibus illis visa similis multitudo. In campo
    insuper juxta praedictas arbores etiam multitudo
    maxima residebat. Quam multitudinem
    sanctus Franciscus respiciens et admirans,
    facto super eum Spiritu Dei, dixit sociis: "Vobis
    hic me in via exspectantibus, ibo et praedicabo
    sororibus nostris aviculis." Et intravit
    in campum ad aves quae residebant in terra.
    Et statim quum praedicare incepit omnes aves
    in arboribus residentes descenderunt ad eum
    et simul cum aliis de campo immobiles perman
    serunt, quum tamen ipse inter eas iret plurimas
    tunica contingendo. Et nulla earum penitus
    movebatur, sicut recitavit frater Jacobus de
    Massa, sanctus homo, qui omnia supradicta
    habuit ab ore fratris Massei, qui fuit unus de
    iis qui tune erant socii sancti patris.

    Quibus avibus sanctus Franciscus ait:
    "Multum tenemini Deo, sorores meas aves,
    et debetis eum semper et ubique laudare propter
    liberum quem ubique habetis volatum,
    propter vestitum duplicatum et triplicatum,
    propter habitum pictum et ornatum, propter
    victum sine vestro labore paratum, propter
    cantum a Creatore vobis intimatum, propter
    numerum ex Dei benedictione multiplicatum,
    propter semen vestrum a Deo in area reservatum,
    propter elementum aeris vobis deputatum.
    Vos non seminatis neque metitis, et Deus
    vos pascit; et dedit vobis flumina et fontes ad
    potandum, montes et colles, saxa et ibices ad
    refugium, et arbores altes ad nidificandum;
    et quum nec filare nec texere sciatis, praebet
    tam vobis quam vestris filiis necessarium indumentum.
    Unde multum diligit vos Creator
    qui tot beneficia contulit. Quapropter cavete,
    sorores mes aviculae, ni sitis ingratae sed
    semper laudare Deum studete."

    ... He departed thence and came between
    Cannara and Bevagna; and near the road he
    saw some trees on which perched so great a
    number of birds as never in those parts had
    been seen the like. Also in the field beyond,
    near these same trees, a very great multitude
    rested on the ground. This multitude, Saint
    Francis seeing with wonder, the spirit of God
    descending on him he said to his companions:
    "Wait for me on the road, while I go and
    preach to our sisters the little birds." And he
    went into the field where the birds were on
    the ground. And as soon as he began to preach,
    all the birds in the trees came down to him and
    with those in the field stood quite still, even
    when he went among them touching many
    with his robe. Not one of them moved,
    as Brother James of Massa related, a saintly
    man who had the whole story from the mouth
    of Brother Masseo who was one of those then
    with the sainted father.

    To these birds, Saint Francis said: "Much
    are you bound to God, birds, my sisters, and
    everywhere and always must you praise him for
    the free flight you everywhere have; for the
    double and triple covering; for the painted and
    decorated robe; for the food prepared without
    your labour; for the song taught you by the
    Creator; for your number multiplied by God's
    blessing; for your seed preserved by God in
    the ark; for the element of air allotted to you.
    You neither sow nor reap, and God feeds
    you; and has given you rivers and springs
    to drink at, mountains and hills, rocks and
    wild goats for refuge, and high trees for nesting;
    and though you know neither how to spin nor
    to weave, He gives both you and your children
    all the garments you need. Whence much must
    the Creator love you, Who confers so many
    blessings. Therefore take care, my small bird
    sisters, never to be ungrateful, but always strive
    to praise God."

    Fra Ugolino, or whoever wrote from the dictation of Brother James of
    Massa, after the tradition of Brother Masseo of Marignano reported
    Saint Francis's sermon in absolute good faith as Saint Francis
    probably made it and as the birds possibly received it. All were
    God's creatures, brothers and sisters, and God alone knew or knows
    whether or how far they understand each other; but Saint Francis, in
    any case, understood them and believed that they were in sympathy
    with him. As far as the birds or wolves were concerned, it was no
    great matter, but Francis did not stop with vertebrates or even with
    organic forms. "Nor was it surprising," said the "Speculum," "if
    fire and other creatures sometimes revered and obeyed him; for, as
    we who were with him very frequently saw, he held them in such
    affection and so much delighted in them, and his soul was moved by
    such pity and compassion for them, that he would not see them
    roughly handled, and talked with them with such evident delight as
    if they were rational beings":--

    Nam quadam vice, quum sederet juxta ignem, ipso nesciente, ignis
    invasit pannos ejus de lino, sive brachas, juxta genu, quumque
    sentiret calorem ejus nolebat ipsum extinguere. Socius autem ejus
    videns comburi pannos ejus cucurrit ad eum volens extinguere ignem;
    ipse vero prohibuit ei, dicens: "Noli, frater, carissime, noli male
    facere igni!" Et sic nullo modo voluit quod extingueret ipsum. Ille
    vero festinanter ivit ad fratrem qui erat guardianus ipsius, et
    duxit eum ad beatum Franciscum, et statim contra voluntatem beati
    Francisci, extinxit ignem. Unde quacunque necessitate urgente
    nunquam voluit extinguere ignem vel lampadem vel candelam, tantum
    pietate movebatur ad ipsum. Nolebat etiam quod frater projiceret
    ignem vel lignum fumigantem de loco ad locum sicut solet fieri, sed
    volebat ut plane poneret ipsum in terra ob reverentiam illius cujus
    est creatura.

    For once when he was sitting by the fire, a spark, without his
    knowing it, caught his linen drawers and set them burning near the
    knee, and when he felt the heat he would not extinguish it; but his
    companion, seeing his clothes on fire, ran to put it out, and he
    forbade it, saying: "Don't, my dearest brother, don't hurt the
    fire!" So he utterly refused to let him put it out, and the brother
    hurried off to get his guardian, and brought him to Saint Francis,
    and together they put out the fire at once against Saint Francis's
    will. So, no matter what the necessity, he would never put out fire
    Or a lamp or candle, so strong was his feeling for it; he would not
    even let a brother throw fire or a smoking log from place to place,
    as is usual, but wanted it placed gently (piano) on the ground, out
    of respect for Him Whose creature it is.

    The modern tourist, having with difficulty satisfied himself that
    Saint Francis acted thus in good faith, immediately exclaims that he
    was a heretic and should have been burned; but, in truth, the
    immense popular charm of Saint Francis, as of the Virgin, was
    precisely his heresies. Both were illogical and heretical by
    essence;--in strict discipline, in the days of the Holy Office, a
    hundred years later, both would have been burned by the Church, as
    Jeanne d'Arc was, with infinitely less reason, in 1431. The charm of
    the twelfth-century Church was that it knew how to be illogical--no
    great moral authority ever knew it better--when God Himself became
    illogical. It cared no more than Saint Francis, or Lord Bacon, for
    the syllogism. Nothing in twelfth-century art is so fine as the air
    and gesture of sympathetic majesty with which the Church drew aside
    to let the Virgin and Saint Francis pass and take the lead--for a
    time. Both were human ideals too intensely realized to be resisted
    merely because they were illogical. The Church bowed and was silent.

    This does not concern us. What the Church thought or thinks is its
    own affair, and what it chooses to call orthodox is orthodox. We
    have been trying only to understand what the Virgin and Saint
    Francis thought, which is matter of fact, not of faith. Saint
    Francis was even more outspoken than the Virgin. She calmly set
    herself above dogma, and, with feminine indifference to authority,
    overruled it. He, having asserted in the strongest terms the
    principle of obedience, paid no further attention to dogma, but,
    without the least reticence, insisted on practices and ideas that no
    Church could possibly permit or avow. Toward the end of his life,
    his physician cauterized his face for some neuralgic pain:--

    Et posito ferro in igne pro coctura fienda, beatus Franciscus volens
    confortare spiritum suum ne pavesceret, sic locutus est ad ignem:
    "Frater mi, ignis, nobilis et utilis inter alias creaturas, esto
    mihi curialis in hac hora quia olim te dilexi et diligam amore
    illius qui creavit te. Deprecor etiam creatorem nostrum qui nos
    creavit ut ita tuum calorem temperct ut ipsum sustinere valeam." Et
    oratione finita signavit ignem signo crucis.

    When the iron was put on the fire for making the cotterie, Saint
    Francis, wishing to encourage himself against fear, spoke thus to
    the fire: "My brother, fire, noblest and usefullest of creatures, be
    gentle to me now, because I have loved and will love you with the
    love of Him who created you. Our Creator, too, Who created us both,
    I implore so to temper your heat that I may have strength to bear
    it." And having spoken, he signed the fire with the cross.

    With him, this was not merely a symbol. Children and saints can
    believe two contrary things at the same time, but Saint Francis had
    also a complete faith of his own which satisfied him wholly. All
    nature was God's creature. The sun and fire, air and water, were
    neither more nor less brothers and sisters than sparrows, wolves,
    and bandits. Even "daemones sunt castalli Domini nostri"; the devils
    are wardens of our Lord. If Saint Francis made any exception from
    his univeral law of brotherhood it was that of the schoolmen, but it
    was never expressed. Even in his passionate outbreak, in the
    presence of Saint Dominic, at the great Chapter of his Order at
    Sancta Maria de Portiuncula in 1218, he did not go quite to the
    length of denying the brotherhood of schoolmen, although he placed
    them far below the devils, and yet every word of this address seems
    to sob with the anguish of his despair at the power of the school

    Quum beatus Franciscus esset in capitulo generali apud Sanctam
    Mariam de Portiuncula ... et fuerunt ibi quinque millia fratres,
    quamplures fratres sapientes et scientiati iverunt ad dominum
    Ostiensem qui erat ibidem, et dixerunt ei: "Domine, volumus ut
    suadetis fratri Francisco quod sequatur consilium fratrum sapientium
    et permittat se interdum duci ab eis." Et allegabant regulam sancti
    Benedicti, Augustini et Bernardi qui docent sic et sic vivere
    ordinate. Quae omnia quum retulisset cardinalis beato Francisco per
    modum admoni admonitionis, beatus Franciscus, nihil sibi respondens,
    cepit ipsum per manum et duxit eum ad fratres congregatos in
    capitulo, et sic locutus est fratribus in fervore et virtute Spirit
    us sancti:--

    "Fratres mei, fratres mei, Dominus vocavit me per viam simplicitatis
    et humilitatis, et bane viam ostendit mini in veritate pro me et pro
    illis qui volunt mini credere et imitari. Et ideo volo quod non
    nominetis mihi aliquam regulam neque sancti Benedicti neque sancti
    Augustini neque sancti Bernardi, neque aliquam viam et formam
    vivendi praeter illam quae mihi a Domino est ostensa misericorditer
    et donata. Et dixit mihi Dominus quod volebat me esse unum pauperem
    et stultum idiotam [magnum fatuum] in hoc mundo et noluit nos ducere
    per viam aliam quam per istam scientiam. Sed per vestram scientiam
    et sapientiam Deus vos confundet et ego confido in castallis Domini
    [idest dasmonibus] quod per ipsos puniet vos Deus et adhuc redibitis
    ad vestrum statum cum vituperio vestro velitis nolitis."

    When Saint Francis was at the General Chapter held at Sancta maris
    de Portiuncula ... and five thousand brothers were present, A number
    of them who were schoolmen went to Cardinal Hugolino who was there,
    and said to him: "My lord, we want you to persuade Brother Francis
    to follow the council of the learned brothers, and sometimes let
    himself be guided by them." And they suggested the rule of Saint
    Benedict or Augustine or Bernard who require their congregations to
    live so and so, by regulation. When the cardinal had repeated all
    this to Saint Francis by way of counsel, Saint Francis, making no
    answer, took him by the hand and led him to the brothers assembled
    in Chapter, and in the fervour and virtue of the Holy Ghost, spoke
    thus to the brothers:

    "My brothers, my brothers, God has called me by way of simplicity
    and humility, and has shown me in verity this path for me and
    those who want to believe and follow me; so I want you to talk of no
    Rule to me, neither Saint Benedict nor Saint Augustine nor Saint
    Bernard, nor any way or form of Life whatever except that which God
    has mercifully pointed out and granted to me. And God said that he
    wanted me to be a pauper [poverello] and an idiot--a great fool--in
    this world, and would not lead us by any other path of science than
    this. But by your science and syllogisms God will confound you, and
    I trust in God's warders, the devils, that through them God shall
    punish you, and you will yet come back to your proper station with
    shame, whether you will or no."

    The narration continues: "Tunc cardinalis obstupuit valde et nihil
    respondit. Et omnes fratres plurimum timuerunt."

    One feels that the reporter has not exaggerated a word; on the
    contrary, he softened the scandal, because in his time the Cardinal
    had gained his point, and Francis was dead. One can hear Francis
    beginning with some restraint, and gradually carried away by passion
    till he lost control of himself and his language: "'God told me,
    with his own words, that he meant me to be a beggar and a great
    fool, and would not have us on any other terms; and as for your
    science, I trust in God's devils who will beat you out of it, as you
    deserve.' And the Cardinal was utterly dumbfounded and answered
    nothing; and all the brothers were scared to death." The Cardinal
    Hugolino was a great schoolman, and Dominic was then founding the
    famous order in which the greatest of all doctors, Albertus Magnus,
    was about to begin his studies. One can imagine that the Cardinal
    "obstupuit valde," and that Dominic felt shaken in his scheme of
    school instruction. For a single instant, in the flash of Francis's
    passion, the whole mass of five thousand monks in a state of semi-
    ecstasy recoiled before the impassable gulf that opened between them
    and the Church.

    No one was to blame--no one ever is to blame--because God wanted
    contradictory things, and man tried to carry out, as he saw them,
    God's trusts. The schoolmen saw their duty in one direction; Francis
    saw his in another; and, apparently, when both lines had been
    carried, after such fashion as might be, to their utmost results,
    and five hundred years had been devoted to the effort, society
    declared both to be failures. Perhaps both may some day be revived,
    for the two paths seem to be the only roads that can exist, if man
    starts by taking for granted that there is an object to be reached
    at the end of his journey. The Church, embracing all mankind, had no
    choice but to march with caution, seeking God by every possible
    means of intellect and study. Francis, acting only for himself,
    could throw caution aside and trust implicitly in God, like the
    children who went on crusade. The two poles of social and political
    philosophy seem necessarily to be organization or anarchy; man's
    intellect or the forces of nature. Francis saw God in nature, if he
    did not see nature in God; as the builders of Chartres saw the
    Virgin in their apse. Francis held the simplest and most childlike
    form of pantheism. He carried to its last point the mystical union
    with God, and its necessary consequence of contempt and hatred for
    human intellectual processes. Even Saint Bernard would have thought
    his ideas wanting in that "mesure" which the French mind so much
    prizes. At the same time we had best try, as innocently as may be,
    to realize that no final judgment has yet been pronounced, either by
    the Church or by society or by science, on either or any of these
    points; and until mankind finally settles to a certainty where it
    means to go, or whether it means to go anywhere,--what its object
    is, or whether it has an object,--Saint Francis may still prove to
    have been its ultimate expression. In that case, his famous chant--
    the "Cantico del Sole"--will be the last word of religion, as it was
    probably its first. Here it is--too sincere for translation:--


    ... Laudato sie, misignore, con tucte le tue creature
    spetialmente messor lo frate sole
    lo quale iorno et allumini noi per loi
    et ellu e bellu e radiante cum grande splendore
    de te, altissimo, porta significatione.

    Laudato si, misignore, per sora luna e le stelle
    in celu lai formate clarite et pretiose et belle.

    Laudato si, misignore, per frate vento
    et per aere et nubilo et sereno et onne tempo
    per lo quale a le tue creature dai sustentamento.

    Laudato si, misignore, per sor aqua
    la quale e multo utile et humile et pretiosa et casta.
    Laudato si, misignore, per frate focu
    per lo quale enallumini la nocte
    ed ello e bello et jocondo et robustoso et forte.

    Laudato si, misignore, per sora nostra matre terra
    la quale ne sustenta et governa
    et produce diversi fructi con coloriti flori et herba.
    . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
    Laudato si, misignore, per sora nostra morte corporale
    de la quale nullu homo vivente po skappare
    guai acquelli ke morrano ne le peccata mortali....

    The verses, if verses they are, have little or nothing in common
    with the art of Saint Bernard or Adam of Saint-Victor. Whatever art
    they have, granting that they have any, seems to go back to the
    cave-dwellers and the age of stone. Compared with the naivete of the
    "Cantico del Sole," the "Chanson de Roland" or the "Iliad" is a
    triumph of perfect technique. The value is not in the verse. The
    "Chant of the Sun" is another "Pons Seclorum"--or perhaps rather a
    "Pons Sanctorum"--over which only children and saints can pass. It
    is almost a paraphrase of the sermon to the birds. "Thank you, mi
    signore, for messor brother sun, in especial, who is your symbol;
    and for sister moon and the stars; and for brother wind and air and
    sky; and for sister water; and for brother fire; and for mother
    earth! We are all yours, mi signore! We are your children; your
    household; your feudal family! but we never heard of a Church. We
    are all varying forms of the same ultimate energy; shifting symbols
    of the same absolute unity; but our only unity, beneath you, is
    nature, not law! We thank you for no human institutions, even for
    those established in your name; but, with all our hearts we thank
    you for sister our mother Earth and its fruits and coloured

    Francis loved them all--the brothers and sisters--as intensely as a
    child loves the taste and smell of a peach, and as simply; but
    behind them remained one sister whom no one loved, and for whom, in
    his first verses, Francis had rendered no thanks. Only on his death-
    bed he added the lines of gratitude for "our sister death," the
    long-sought, never-found sister of the schoolmen, who solved all
    philosophy and merged multiplicity in unity. The solution was at
    least simple; one must decide for one's self, according to one's
    personal standards, whether or not it is more sympathetic than that
    with which we have got lastly to grapple in the works of Saint
    Thomas Aquinas.
    Next Chapter
    Chapter 15
    Previous Chapter
    If you're writing a Henry Adams essay and need some advice, post your Henry Adams essay question on our Facebook page where fellow bookworms are always glad to help!

    Top 5 Authors

    Top 5 Books

    Book Status
    Want to read

    Are you sure you want to leave this group?