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tentive, at all times, to their secular interests, there was not a crime, of which they were not guilty, nor a meanness, to which they would not stoop, in order to augment their influence, or enlarge their possessions a Difference of opinion they stigmatised as heresy; and fraud, treachery, and hypocrisy, never ceased to persecute, under the assumed motives of religious zeal. :
These orders, much as they belied the meek spirit of their Master, base as many of their followers became, in common with the CORDELIERS, seldom failed to fix upon the most beautiful spots, on which to erect their monasteries, convents, and hermitages. In Italy they neglected not to use their privilege of selection : almost every religious house, therefore, in that country, was delightfully situated.
Who but would cast his pomp away,
The order of GILBERTINES, founded by St. Gilbert in 1148, consisted entirely of married persons, who were divided by a wall. The men observed the rules of St. Benedict; the women those of St. Augustin. The order of CELESTINS was established by Peter de Meuron, a Neapolitan of mean extraction, who being afterwards advanced to the Pontificate, under the title of Celestin V., resigned the papal chair, from a fear, that he was unequal to its duties. The members of this order, of which there were upwards of twenty monasteries in France, and ninety in Italy, wore shirts of serge ; and ate no flesh. They rose two hours after midnight to matins; and their habit consisted of a capuche, a white gown, and a black scapulary. But there were some monks who performed no manual service whatever ; who even renounced
* How contrary to the injunctions of Hieronymus! “ Ignominia omnium sacerdotum est propriis studere divitiis.”—Ep. ad Nep. de Vit. Mon.
bodily action ; giving themselves up entirely to prayer, meditation, and the contemplation of heavenly things. Hence they were called HESYCHASTES. Isidore of Seville, on the contrary, was accustomed to say, that it was not only the duty of a monk to work with his mind, but with his hands. He therefore read three hours in every day, and worked six.
The monks of ABYSSINIA devote most of their time to the cultivation of their gardens, which supply them with their principal sustenance. The monasteries of Turkey are generally situated in retired mountainous districts ; in deep valleys, and on rocky precipices. There were a vast number of monasteries once in China : but they were suppressed by one of the emperors, on the principle, that they encouraged idlenessa. “ Our ancestors,” says the Chinese ordinance, “ held it as a maxim, that if there was a man or a woman, that was idle, somebody in the empire must, in consequence, suffer either hunger or cold.”
The HERMITAGES near the city of Nantz, command fine views of that city and neighbourhood, through which the Loire winds in many a graceful curve. The hermitage of Mount SERRATO, in the island of Elba, stands in the midst of rocks, rugged and stupendous ; wild and solitary; beneath a cloudless sky, well calculated to cheat memory of its cares ; and to raise the soul to the exercise of some of its noblest and most sacred faculties.
The hermitage of Friburg is situate in a wild and awful solitude. On one side of a rock JOHN DE PRE, assisted by his valet-de-chambre, hollowed out several apartments, and there resided for the space of five-and-twenty years. His garden was with infinite difficulty scooped out of the solid rock, and watered with the stream flowing from two or three fountains, which welled from the bowels of the mountains. Once a week he was supplied with provisions ; for which he ferried over the Sane in a small boat, that he had procured
a Du Halde, c. ii. p. 497.-Montesquieu, Spirit of Laws, b. vii. c. 6.
for the purpose. Having finished his cells, he resolved upon consecrating his chapel ; and to give greater dignity to his hermitage, he admitted several young persons to witness the ceremony. Towards evening he escorted his visitors over the stream, that flowed in the valley; and, having landed them safely on the opposite side, fell into the water, as he returned, · and was drowned ! (A. D. 1708.)
There are several convents in Switzerland beautifully situated : among which we may instance the Benedictine abbey of Einsidlin, in the canton of Schweitz; to which upwards of 90,000 pilgrims resort every year. St. Alderic, who built a hermitage in the isle of Ufnau, in the lake of Zurich, not far from Rapperschuyl, attained such a high character for sanctity, that the peasants believe him to have been capable of walking on the surface of the lake ; and to have been fed from heaven.
In the Valais, there are a multitude of convents : perched, here and there, on agreeable summits. Their white steeples give an exceedingly agreeable variety to the rough forms of the rocks and mountains, which rise on each side. There are said to be not so many convents in any road of Italy, traversing the breadth, as are collected in this one valley. No traveller, that has seen them, ever remembers them but with pleasure.
Most of the monasteries in the Holy Land are embosomed among olive, fig, and pomegranate trees; and in Greece they are situated among forests, and on the sides of mountains ; always commanding beautiful prospects. How solemn are those, standing among the sublime solitudes of Mount Athos ! And how beautifully situated is the Basilian convent of the Virgin of Jerusalem, overlooking the mountains of Locri, and the plains, watered by the Cephisus ;—the monastery of Elias, standing on the site of the ancient temple of Delphos ;—and that of the All Holy Virgin in the valley of Sagara in the Thebaid; a valley, immortalised as the spot
on which Hesiod kept his sheep. And what traveller but pauses with enthusiasm, as he beholds the monastery of St. Nicolo, in a recess of Mount Helicon, near the fountain of Aganippe, and the grove of the muses : or when he sees the convent of St. Cypriani, rising near a dell, shaded by the olives of Hymettus, abounding in bees?
In spite of all the calumnies, propagated against the DeRVISES of the East, there is reason to suppose, that they constitute a valuable order of men. “ The ordinances of a Dervise,” says Sadi,“ consist in prayer and gratitude ; "charity ; content; a belief in the unity and providence of the Deity ; a resignation to his dispensations; and a brotherly love to all mankind.” In the Mogul States they are called Fakers ; and they were once so highly esteemed, that Aurenzebe signified his intention of belonging to their order, before he obtained possession of the throne. De Pages gives an interesting account of those he voyaged with along the coast of Persia. Their discourse he found moral and intelligent; they showed indifference at the moment of death ; and seemed to entertain“ no notion of glory,” says De Pages, “ or even of duty, where separated from moral rectitude, and the principles of a simple and charitable mind.” Other writers describe their lives, as being remarkable for austerity, poverty, and chastity. They go open breasted, and bare legged: they travel much from one province to another; they frequently sing praises to Mahomet; and accompany their hymns with the flute: an instrument, the invention of which they ascribe to Jacob; to whom they consecrate it.
Marco Polo relates, that there was in his time a class of hermits, in the province of Kesmur, who practised great abstinence. These hermits are mentioned by Abu'lfayl, who describes them, as being exemplary devotees themselves ; yet reviling no persons,on account of their religion : as abstaining totally from flesh of all kinds; having no intercourse with women; and deriving one of their principal pleasures from
the amusement of planting fruit trees on the public roads, for the benefit of travellers. Many of their peculiarities remind us of the ancient Magi of Persia ; who, according to Philo Judæus, were diligent inquirers into Nature ; and whose time was chiefly passed in meditation. A circumstance from which Vossius seems inclined to derive the etymology of their
In Hindostan there are Dervises, retired in solitudes, whence they never move. Their continual prayer consists of the following sentence: “ Almighty Father ! look down upon me : I love not the world, but thee: and all this penance is for the love of thee."
The Joghi of East Malabar a retire, also, to caves and rocks. Never speaking to women, they have no possessions : they practise the greatest austerities; and believe in the existence of only one God:—While the Mahometan sect, called ESRAKITES, founding their creed upon the doctrine of Plato, delight in music, and in composing spiritual hymns ; and place happiness in the contemplation of divine excellence.
While a love of Nature engenders and fosters the highest regard for public and private liberty, it calls forth many of the latent resources of the mind, and adds proportionably to its strength. It confirms men in the habits of virtue ; leads them to desire a 'more intimate knowledge of themselves ; and produces a decided contempt, for the unlawful pleasures of an idle world. By virtue of association it excites, too, that ardent love of greatness, in action and sentiment, which characterises a liberal and heroic spirit. Innumerable are the instances, in which the Highlanders of Scotland have evinced the power of scenery to excite to noble deeds : and who will doubt, but that the landscapes in the Peloponnesus, and in the neighbourhood of Athens, Rome, and Florence, have had decided effects upon those illustrious cities? Many a man, who has been censured for idless, or cashiered for inattention,
a Phillips' Account of Malabar, p. 16.