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fellow-creatures alone, and for the inculcation of that doctrine from which he learnt to anticipate in the awards of national justice the more severe retribution of the offended Deity. We shall be confirmed in this opinion if we examine that remarkable series of royal constitutions and national decrees, known as the Capitularies of the Frank kings. Such scanty edicts of the earlier Merovingian monarchs as have been preserved are filled with little else than bare repetitions of old barbarian laws from the East of the Ehine, with characteristic valuations of human life and limb, and are, on the whole, such as might reasonably be expected to emanate from an assembly of warriors. However, we learn from the contemporary chronicles that the first sovereigns of the Carlovingian race, animated by a far-sighted piety, entrusted to the clergy the supreme direction of the Champ de Mars assemblies: accordingly, the decrees headed by the names of Carloman and Pepin, while they profess to be produced by the joint wisdom of temporal and spiritual potentates, bear the scantiest marks of the former, while in every phrase they display the unceasing industry of the latter, and, instead of being framed after the model of the old unmeaning enactments, they tend to the establishment of a purer morality, and to the more complete organization of the Church and of the official responsibilities of its ministers*.
* See in particular the decrees of the Council of Vermeric (held by Pepin I. A.d. 762) ap. Baluz. [Capit. Reg. Franc.] t. i. coll. 161—6.
During the preceding pages our undivided attention has been given to the secular clergy, as we may now in strictness term them; and we have left unexplored a wide field of research, from which we may discover the means employed and the results achieved by the not less zealous and enterprising members of the monastic orders. In a previous section we have watched the progress of monasticism from its origin in the Egyptian deserts to its less congenial abodes among the recesses of the Apennines; and, notwithstanding all the inherent errors of the ascetic practice, we were led to the conclusion that a large portion of the Christian truth and knowledge which survived in a degenerate age had retired from a world more than ever abhorrent to its principles. But the protection which contemplative minds had sought from surrounding worldliness was more than ever needed to secure them against the more fatal assault of advancing barbarism. It stood them, indeed, in better stead against the latter than against the former; for the protecting walls of the cloister, and the yet more effectual safeguard of the religious awe which they inspired, could avert the roving hordes of a temporal foe, while they proved powerless against the more pernicious advances of sloth, luxury, and pride,— enemies whose pertinacity and success became every day more terrible; for, wherever monachism had spread, the defects of the system began to flourish and multiply with portentous rapidity, and everything was to be feared from those institutions which but a century before had presented to the Fathers of the Church such noble prospects. Such was the emergency, when from the Sabine hills echoed through the length and breadth of Europe the voice of reformation. It is impossible for any student of mediaeval history, however prejudiced, not to gaze with admiration on the commanding grandeur of the great Benedict. All who have studied his history must look with an equal astonishment on the energetic simplicity of his work, and the widely spread multiplicity of its results. For he found the monastic life slothful, he left it actively employed in promoting civilization and religion. He found it wasting its capabilities on irrational exercises, he left it intent on rational occupations. He found it undisciplined and consequently loaded with spiritual arrogance, he left it guided (as far as such a system could be so) by a definite rule, and striving after a Christian humility. And for such a work as this it may well seem no unworthy recompense that he stands at the head of so illustrious a spiritual progeny. For not many years after the first establishment of the monastery at Monte Cassino the Benedictine order could reckon among its ornaments one* who, whether we consider the zeal with which he defended the interests entrusted to him or his yet greater success in extending the empire of the true Faith, merits well the epithet of "Great" which posterity has bestowed upon him. But Gregory, illustrious though he be in himself, is yet more associated to an English reader with the spiritual triumphs of another Benedictine, Augustine, through whom the knowledge of * See Mabillon, Annaks Ord. S. Ben. 1.1, p. 163.
the Gospel was spread among our Anglo-Saxon forefathers. The good seed sown in Britain was destined to redound in no small measure to the honor of the brethren of St Benedict, and to add new ornaments to their already renowned order. The historian of their achievements relates* that throughout the whole Anglo-Saxon nation ecclesiastical interests were supported by the Benedictines alone, that, as they had undergone the toils of a missionary life in England, so now they reaped the merited reward of universal respect and spiritual power1. But the most splendid result of the establishment of the order in this island is to be found in the almost unparalleled achievements of a third Benedictine, Boniface. There is no more striking example of the earnest zeal and sincere desire for the advancement of the faith which characterized the monastic bodies during this their earlier and purer stage, than the history of the Apostle of Germany. It is indeed true that he was not more distinguished by missionary power and success than by a devoted attachment to the See of Rome, which has caused Protestant writers to represent him as actuated
• Mab. Ann. Ord. S. Ben. 1.1, p. 336, where we read that the three archiepiscopal sees of Canterbury, York, and Rochester had been founded, and were occupied, by Benedictines.
1 "How dare ye [priests] now despise all their ordinances Qof the four Councils], while monks hold the ordinances of one man, the holy Benedict, and live according to his direction? And, if they anywhere violate it, they make amends afterwards, by their abbot's direction, with all humility." iElfric's Canon 34. ap. Thorpe, Anc. Laws, p. 447.
during a life of unceasing hardship, and supported in the prospect of a violent death, by no higher motive than a blind subjection to the commands of his ecclesiastical superior; but if we judge him either by the difficulties and dangers he overcame, or by the great results on Central Europe of the national conversions consequent on his preaching, we shall place his name among the most illustrious ones, not of the Benedictine order alone, but of the Church in all ages. Space would fail, if we were to attempt to enumerate even the most illustrious of the many great minds which have been sent forth from the cloisters of the Benedictines to enlarge the limits of Christianity and literature; but in moral greatness those we have mentioned surpass all others: to proceed further in the enumeration would be to display the decay of lofty virtue in the monasteries, by adding to their intellectual brilliancy.
The period, then, of the early Merovingian dynasty in France, and of the Visigothic power in Spain, is that during which the true advantages of the monastic principle made themselves most universally apparent. In every European country the cloisters presented the only refuge to the literature of preceding ages, and the only source whence could be expected again to flow the rich stream of ancient learning. We have already in part investigated the rise of the monastic spirit in the West, but we have not looked upon it as what it unquestionably was, a powerful civilizing and christianizing agent; for during the preceding centuries its work had