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justice be urged that the phrases we have quoted are often mere words, and no more argue a perpetual and active remembrance of the great truths they imply, than the form of words so common in deeds of a later age, “ appropinquante mundi termino,” gives reason to believe that the world was in readiness for the momentous change thus so frequently predicted and expected. But we must at the same time, in whatever light we look upon such phrases, whether as mere expressions of a constant clerical intervention, or with more reason as presenting the outward results of a newly acquired Christianity, respect the untutored faith of men who thus in all their civil actions held in view higher aims and motives than any which this world could present.
omnium est, forma et speculum totius boni, jugum servitutis pro nobis subire dignatus est, quatenus nos a Legis maledicto et servitute diabolica liberaret, et suæ ineffabilis libertatis participes efficeret.- Idcirco ego, pro redemptione animæ meæ et pro æternæ beatitudinis retributione, hunc servum mei juris et omnem fructum ejus ab omni servitutis ejus jugo absolvo, ut ab hodierna die et deinceps securus et suæ potestatis existat, eat quocunque voluerit, portas habens apertas, et nulli servitutis obsequium nisi soli Deo, pro cujus amore ipsum manumitto, debeat." (ex Tabul. S. Laudi Andegavensis.') “ Piissimus dominus noster Jesus Christus inter alia præcepta ......præcepit [fidelibus suis] debitores suos a debitis illorum absolvere &c....... Tantæ igitur auctoritatis præconio compulsi, dominæque Hugardis Comitissæ gratia precibusque animati, nos Canonici S. Laudi hunc fidelem nostrum Radulphum, Ecclesiæ nostræ vinculo servitutis obnoxium, ab omni debito servilis conditionis, pro animabus nostris Goffridique Comitis excellentissimi, qui potissimus Ecclesiæ nostræ fundator et ornator extitit, omniumque benefactorum nostrorum, absolvimus, &c.”] (ibid.)
We have said enough to prove the ever more and more intimate connection which united to the priestly order as well the ancient inhabitants of the provincial towns as the warlike lords of the soil?. And if it should be supposed that we have spent an unnecessarily long time on this branch of our subject, it must be answered, that by this very relation in which the clergy stood to the two originally hostile sections of the people did they work out the security and salvation of mediæval Europe. In spite of all reasonings founded on the evils of excessive priestly sway, it clearly appears that this the one inherent advantage of their position more than counterbalances them all. It has been truly remarked by a great historian of our own day*, that the peculiar characteristic and advantage of modern civilization lies in this, that it is not developed from a single origin, and does not, as its predecessors have done, tend to the realization of one leading idea alone: if then we admit this truth, and delight to discover among the Roman provincials, as well as among the Germanic nations, the foundation of the moral and political edifices in which we glory, we must at the same time admire and cherish the memory of that great third estate to whose action we owe our intellectual ancestry. Valuable as was the cultivation which lingered within the walls of Roman towns, it was, as the preceding centuries testify, if viewed in itself alone, poor, sapless, and void of all great promise. Healthy as was the new blood and independent the rude energy shed forth upon the world by the forests of Germany, it too was, in itself, destitute of any vital germ for the renovation of the exhausted world, for it was but the energy derived from successive ages of savage life. In a word, the European world was occupied by two distinct and conflicting, though not ignoble, elements. Their shock might to an observer of mere outward things have seemed unavoidable; and there could be little doubt concerning the victory in a struggle whose chief result would be to consign the conqueror to irremediable ruin. Then it was, during the most threatening crisis of the world's history, that a religion bearing yet, amid all the imperfections of its ministers, manifest traces of that Divine love from which it sprung, operated to combine the jarring elements, and restore comparative tranquillity to mankind. So glorious a result we must refer to the instrumentality of the clergy; and assign to them as their pre-eminent praise, that not only have they handed down to us the traditional wealth of literature and legislation, but have displayed a more truly civilizing power in gradually amalgamating what to us appears as one society.
According to the 27th canon of the Council of Rheims (Frodoard, Hist. Eccl. Rem. lib. i. c. 5. ap. Guizot, Coll. des Mém. v. 149, 150, Couvenier, p. 193), no bishop was to be appointed unless a native of the province and elected by the desire of the people and with the consent of the bishops of the province.
* Guizot, Civilisation en Europe, leç. ii. [t. ii. pp. 44–46].
There was one peculiarity of the clerical body in those early days, which at this distance of time we perhaps scarcely realize with sufficient accuracy, although
it seems in no unimportant degree to have contributed to increase and enlarge the social power of the priesthood. I allude to the vast multitudes who were numbered within the more immediate pale of the Church, and enjoyed the privileges of its ministers*. It was the custom of every European country to admit to clerical immunities many ecclesiastics who had never received ordination, and were to be distinguished from the laity only by their tonsure. It cannot be denied that this practice was in after times carried out to the most pernicious extremel, and was indeed from the very first a wide deviation from the strict rules of Apostolic teaching; for it seems to have originated in the custom of conferring the tonsure upon childrent as a pledge of future
* See Guizot, Civilisation en France, leç. 13. [t. ii. pp. 6–8].
1 “Atque ita ordine perverso innumeri sunt inventi, qui se abbates pariter et præfectos sive ministros aut famulos regis appellant, qui, etsi aliquid vitæ monasterialis ediscere laici non experiendo sed audiendo potuerint, a persona tamen illa ac professione, quæ hanc docere debeat, sunt funditus exsortes ; et quidem tales repente, ut nosti, tonsuram pro suo libitu accipiunt, suo examine de laicis non monachi sed abbates efficiuntur.” Bede, Ep. ad Ecgbert. 13. Milo, whom Charles Martel intruded as bishop of Rheims instead of Rigobert, is spoken of as “sola tonsura clericus” (Frodoard, Hist. Eccl. Rem. lib. ii. cc. 12, 13. ap. Guizot, Coll. des Mém. v. 172—175. Couvenier, pp. 222, 225, 227).
+ That the tonsure of children was an ordinary practice is proved by the frequent statutes of the French kings against their being thus cut off from the world without the consent of their parents. Guizot, in the passage above referred to, seems to consider that the ceremony, when performed on children, implied their devotion to a monastic life; but the wording and context of
ordination, and to have been materially promoted by the numerous temptations which the social station of a Churchman offered to the ambitious and the oppressed; but its dangerous tendencies do not appear to have been the edicts we speak of appears to connect the tonsure rather with the secular than the regular clergy. [“ Erat in Ecclesia S. Martini Turon. triplex ordo Canonicorum. Primus Presbyterorum et Diaconorum qui in stallis superioribus sedebant. Secundus Subdiaconorum aliorumque minorum ordinum, quibus locus erat in inferioribus stallis. Tertius ordo erat Canonicorum puerorum seu Clericorum simplicis tonsuræ, qui in scamnis considebant puerorum choralium more, dividebanturque inter se variis stationibus et officiis. Hi nomine Clericorum seu Canonicorum de Terra designabantur. (Ducange, s. v. Clerici, ii. 392 b, c.) The nun of Heidenheim, who describes the travels of her relation St Willibald, tells us that, when in his third year he was dangerously ill, his parents brought him to the cross with vows “extemplo illum sub sacri ordinis primordio tonsuram accipere, sub cænobialis vitæ disciplina, sub divinæ legis moderamine militando Christi famulatui subjicere,” if he should recover. Accordingly, when he was five years old, and “jam tunc temporis germinabat sapientiæ virgultum," they “illustrem quantocius cum consultu amicorum carnaliumque propinquorum consilio ad sacræ cænobialis vitæ instrumenta præparare atque perficere festinabant;" and sent him to the abbey of Waltham, where the abbot Egwalt referred the question of his admission to the monks: “cui protinus omnis illa conventio fratrum simul responsum seu licentiam dabant, suæque voluntatis arbitrio hæc omnia fas fore dicebant, acceptumque illum ocius inter cænobiale vitæ eorum consortium jungendo sociabant (Hodoeporicon S. Willibaldi, cc. 1, 2. ap. Canis. Lect. Ant. Ü. 107. ed. 1725). Among the Excerptiones (95 ap. Thorpe, Anc. Laws, p. 334) of Ecgbert, archbishop of York, is the rule of Isidore, “Quicunque a parentibus propriis in monasterio fuerit delegatus, noverit se ibi perpetuo mansurum; nam Anna Samuel puerum natum et ablactatum Deo optulit; qui in ministerio templi permansit.”]