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Gaul, we are induced to believe that the elegant latitudinarianism of a portion, at least, of the clergy in that country was as far removed from the strict principles of Augustine, as the latter were from the sternness of the hermit of Bethlehem. Should it perchance be imagined that the priesthood, neglecting profane studies in their zeal for sacred erudition, were universally relinquishing the arts and refinements of life, the letters of Sidonius Apollinaris, written towards the close of the fifth century, will remove from Gaul, at least, all suspicion of unbending puritanism. In one of these, the literary Bishop of Clermont encloses an epitaph on his friend*, Claudianus Mamercus, in which the merits of the deceased are celebrated in verse whose would-be Augustan elegance serves only to show with how much fruitless care the classical models were studied by a declining age. But although we may hesitate in giving full credence to the accomplishments of one who excited the admiration of so poor a critic, yet we must acknowledge that the priestly poet,
* “ Hoc dat cespite membra Claudianus,
Triplex bibliotheca quo magistro
Psalmorum hic modulator et phonascus,
[Ep. iv. 11.)
in praising the powers of eloquence, poetry, and geometry possessed by his friend, was drawing a picture of accomplishments as yet far from neglected"; and even the most hearty despiser of secular lore might look with complacency on successful efforts to promote Church music.
The author of the halting hendecasyllabics we have quoted above was himself a curious exemplification of the literary tendencies prevalent among a certain portion of the Western clergy. Born a century after the puritans of the East had first anathematized all pagan literature as little better than a return to Pagan superstition, he continued, even after his elevation to an Episcopal see, the center of a circle of literary associates who were to the companions of Horace and Virgil what Honorius and Valentinian were to Augustus. The contemplative solitude of a Basil or a Jerome could find little acceptance in the eyes of a prelate ever ready to forget the burthen of his high office in the company of the early poets and sages; and who seems to have countenanced the celebration of Christian festivals which would hardly have aroused the philosophic scruples of a Tacitus or a Pliny. While
1 Sidonius, writing to the Frankish chief Arvogastes and complimenting him on his Latin style, (Ep. iv. 17) advises him to consult on literary matters his neighbouring clergy, i.e. those of Metz, &c., “ætate grandævis, fide claris, opere vulgatis, ore promptis, memoria tenacibus, omni denique meritorum sublimium dote potioribus, * * quorum doctrinæ abundanti eventilandæ nec consultatio tua sufficit.”
2 Thus the celebration of the feast of St Justus at Lyons (Ep. v. 17) seems to have contained a strange mixture of heathen and Christian doings ;-crowded matin service, followed by games
the laborious Fathers of the Eastern Church were occupied with the severe studies of biblical criticism and philology, a prelate who enjoyed the respect and confidence of the Gallic Churches, was corresponding with his friends on trivial subjects, in a style which, however wide an extent of classical reading it may indicate, is a mere cento of sounding phrases from Virgil, elegancies from Pliny, and epigrammatic nothings from Martial. It at ball and dice. The reform however in the Rogations, which had been effected by Mamercus bishop of Vienna, was approved and continued by Sidonius (Fp. v. 1, 14).
See Gregor. Turon. Hist. Franc. ii. 22, 23. ? Instances of the light in which Jerome and Augustine regarded mere classical purity of diction are given in the Preface to Ducange's Glossary, c. 57: “Sed et S. Hieronymus fatetur, primis adolescentiæ annis, Tullio, Platone, cæterisque ejusmodi Gentilibus Scriptoribus perlectis, in semetipsum reversum Prophetas legere coepisse. Sed horum, subdit ille, ‘Sermo horrebat incultus, et quia lumen cæcis oculis non videbam, non oculorum putabam culpam esse, sed solis' (Epist. 22. c. 30).
Ut ait S. Augustinus (in Psalm. 138. § 20), plerumque consuetudo loquendi vulgaris utilior est significandis rebus quam integritas literata : Mallem quippe, ut ait, cum barbarismo dici non est absconditum ossum meum quam ut ideo esset minus apertum, quia magis Latinum est.
Quo spectant ista Hieronymi (in Ezech. c. 40), “Illud autem semel monuisse sufficiat, nosse me cubitum et cubita neutrali appellari genere ; sed pro simplicitate et facilitate intelligentiæ vulgique consuetudine ponere masculino; non enim nobis curæ est vitare sermonum vitia, sed Scripturæ Sanctæ quibuscunque verbis disserere.'
Et alio loco (De Vest. Sacerdot. [Ep. 64. c. 11]). Camisie vocabulum usurpaturus, Volo, inquit, ‘pro legentis facilitate abuti sermone vulgari.'”
After other quotations, he adds (c. 58,) “Denique, ut cæteros qui id argumenti sunt prosecuti omittam, Salvianus carpens
seems as unnatural to class such a man with a Chrysostom or a Gregory Nazianzen, as it would have been in a later age to compare the thoughtless Abbés of the Versailles Court with the erudite disciples of St Maur or the stern followers of De Rancéi.
But although the verdict of history must assign their true relative positions to such very different ornaments of the clerical order as those we have above contrasted, yet it must be remarked that in the Bishop of Clermont is extant a representative of a mode of sacerdotal action, destined, under the Carlovingian Emperors, to stand forward in far greater prominence. I allude to what may be denominated the æsthetic influence of the priesthood. It shall be our task, in the ensuing section, to point out how the sacerdotal order was specially effective in prequosdam sui temporis scriptores, qui verborum sectabantur amonitates, et ut sive utiles ac probas, sive inutiles atque improbas materias sibi delegissent, seriem tantum rerum nitore verborum illustrarent : 'Nos autem,' inquit, qui rerum magis quam verborum amatores utilia potius quam plausibilia sectamur, neque id quærimus, ut in nobis inania sæculorum ornamenta, sed ut salubria rerum emolumenta laudentur; in scriptiunculis nostris non lenocinia esse volumus, sed remedia, quæ scilicet non tam otiosorum auribus placeant, quam ægrotorum mentibus prosint, magnum ex utraque re cælestibus donis fructum reportaturi.' (In Præf. ad Lib. 1. De Provid.)”
? His incapacity for his office is acknowledged and lamented in the following terms (Ep. v. 3): “Ego autem infelicis conscientiæ mole defessus, vi febrium nuper extremum salutis accessi, utpote cui indignissimo tantæ professionis pondus impactum est, qui miser ante compulsus docere quam discere et ante præsumens bonum prædicare quam facere, tanquam sterilis arbor, cum non habeam opera pro pomis, spargo verba pro foliis.”
serving, and finally imparting to the invading tribes, the blessings of an older civilization: nor can it escape our notice that the gentler arts and luxuries of Rome must have been in some measure influential in training those rugged Northern tempers; for rude and untaught minds are ever most easily accessible to the harmonizing powers of music, sculpture, and architecture. Accordingly, when we perceive in the fifth century the first stages of the gradual process by which those arts, lofty in themselves, were yet more ennobled by being enlisted in the service of religion, we cannot but recognize another portion of that complicated system of discipline by which the clergy were educated for the future emergencies of the world. The luxury of the Gallic prelates, objectionable as it undoubtedly was among the effeminate provincials, acquires a deeper significance when viewed in its intercourse with barbarian simplicity; and we can scarcely regret that Christian pastors found leisure for such comparatively frivolous recreations, if we remember that they were the destined transmitters of the intellectual torch from ancient to modern times.
In justice, however, to the early Church in Gaul, it must be observed that through much apparent thoughtlessness and worldliness there ran a vein of sincere piety;
* In the epistle (iv. 11), which contains the lines already quoted (p. 73) on the presbyter Claudius Mamercus's accomplishments, Sidonius Apollinaris thus describes his friend's ministerial character: “ Conditionis humanæ per omnia memor clericos opere, sermone populares, exhortatione mærentes, destitutos solatio, captivos pretio, jejunos cibo, nudos operimento consolabatur.“ Patiens, bishop of