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the long, low range of building opposite are the Library and Chapter-room, in the former of which the brotherhood assemble nightly 'pour la lecture spirituelle,' as they say, when, by the glimmer of a single hanging lamp, one of their number reads aloud for the common edification. The brethren are seated round the room ; their garb is white, their attitude attentive ; and the whole scenewith the stars glimmering in through two uncurtained windows which, from their elevated position, command a magnificent view—might afford materials, both as to foreground and background, for a curious and effective picture : a scene that would now and then be varied by measured words of counsel and instruction from the lips of the Prior who, occupying a chair at the top of the chamber, would substitute a brief oral discourse for the usual lecture out of a book.
The Library is surrounded on three sides by shelves, fairly furnished with works of a theological and quasi-theological cast. One or two old paintings in oil, also of a religious character, together with some heavy tapestry dating from the first half of the sixteenth century, adorn the walls of an apartment of which the use seems to be shared between study and prayer; for, besides the evening lecture, a 'prayer meeting' is held daily a little before noon. This word 'noon,' the reader may be reminded in passing, is early English, and apparently derived from the old service of psalmody called None, because, being usually said towards the middle of the day, the people (who in Saxon times were wont to frequent this and the other ‘canonical hours,' answering to Morning and Evening Prayer) transferred the name of the service itself to the hour which it connoted. Nevertheless, in ages more primitive still, None or Noon was read, as the name imports, not at midday, but at the ninth hourhorâ nonâ—corresponding to three o'clock. Thus to the ancient Latin office of None are we indebted for a thorough English word. Made up chiefly of divisions of the long 119th Psalm, the brief service is still rehearsed daily in monastic and collegiate choirs; and, at least on Sundays and holidays, in many a parish church also.
In the Chapter-room, which adjoins the Library, is preserved the interesting collection of ecclesiastical antiquities referred to above, comprising chalices, crosses, pyxes, and many other objects, notably the embroidered and illuminated sampler, handed down intact from the days of Charles the Great. Here Chapters of the Order, or rather of this particular House, meet from time to time. On one of these occasions the writer had the good fortune to witness the curious spectacle of a Chapter held to receive the monastic profession of a
novice—a young man of powerful frame--who humbly craved admittance as a lay brother, remaining prostrate the while on the foor at the full length of a very long person. Meantime the fraternity sat in chairs arranged in a semicircle round the hall, listening with rapt attention alternately to the meek supplication of the postulant and the comforting words of the Prior in reply. For, spite of his lowly posture and address, Brother John boldly indicated some of the pitfalls and quicksands that stood in the way of his living up to the prescribed standard : a pious diffidence which the Prior sought to smooth away by a sympathetic response, in the course of which he propounded unswerving obedience to superior authority as the keystone of monastic discipline and perfection. The brief ceremony was brought to a close by the formal investiture of the newly admitted brother with the full habit of the Order, in place of the novice's garb he had hitherto donned.
It may be worth noting that the community at Ste.-Foy de Conques numbered at the period of their visitor's sojourn some nineteen members. Of these, seven were lay brethren or servitors, and twelve choir brethren ; the latter body comprising seven priests, four deacons or subdeacons, preparing for priest's orders, and one choir brother pure and simple : the last-named member of the frater
nity receiving the tonsure only, which consists in the close shaving of a round patch on the crown of the head, the effect of which rite is to remove the recipient out of the category of laymen, and make of him a clerk, though not a 'clerk in holy orders.' It imposes on him the duty of reciting or singing in choir the canonical hours of prayer, but without involving any of the higher functions of the clerical office. The tonsured clerk in a religious house thus occupies a position somewhat analogous to that of the vicars choral' in English cathedrals. And it may further be observed, that the ceremonial act of the barber, called the tonsure, resembles the bald ring on the top of the wigs worn by serjeants-at-law in England, whence comes apparently the expression 'degree of the coif,' a corruption of the French coiffure. This evident vestige of the tonsure in one of the most conspicuous of our forensic costumes is doubtless a survival from the days when clergymen were the only clerks' or learned men, comprehending within that term lawyers, schoolmasters, chroniclers, men of science, physicians oftentimes, musicians even ; and when, too, the ranks of statesmen were largely recruited from their order.
A Democratic survival from an Aristocratic age.-The Provost
of Conques. — The Saintly Monk.-The Easy-going Monk.--The Monk “meek and humble of heart.'—The Courteous Monk.-The Studious Monk.—Convent Fare.
A CONVENT Refectory exhibits a scene rare enough in the present day, but which in the halls of baronial castles prevailed universally—a scene where the whole household, from highest to lowest, break bread together in common hall, the upper tables being reserved for those of higher degree and the lower for such as are of inferior conaition. Under this survival of the mediæval practice of good fellowship we are spared the hard and fast line of separation between masters and dependents that now universally obtains among the well-to-do classes. And in the refectories of religious houses, not only do the lay brothers or servant class have their allotted place, and dine simultaneously with the Heads of Houses and their most distinguished guests, but working men in the plebeian smock, if