CHAPTER XV

THE MYSTICS

The schoolmen of the twelfth century thought they could reach God by reason; the Council of Sens, guided by Saint Bernard, replied that the effort was futile and likely to be mischievous. The council made little pretence of knowing or caring what method Abelard followed; they condemned any effort at all on that line; and no sooner had Bernard silenced the Abbot of Saint-Gildas for innovation than he turned about and silenced the Bishop of Poitiers for conservatism. Neither in the twelfth nor in any other century could three men have understood alike the meaning of Gilbert de la Poree, who seems to one high authority unworthy of notice and to another, worthy of an elaborate but quite unintelligible commentary. When M. Rousselet and M. Haureau judge so differently of a voluminous writer, the Council at Rheims which censured Bishop Gilbert in 1148 can hardly have been clear in mind. One dare hazard no more than a guess at Gilbert's offence, but the guess is tolerably safe that he, like Abelard, insisted on discussing and analyzing the Trinity. Gilbert seems to have been a rigid realist, and he reduced to a correct syllogism the idea of the ultimate substance--God. To make theology a system capable of scholastic definition he had to suppose, behind the active deity, a passive abstraction, or absolute substance without attributes; and then the attributes--justice, mercy, and the rest-- fell into rank as secondary substances. "Formam dei divinitatem appellant." Bernard answered him by insisting with his usual fiery conviction that the Church should lay down the law, once for all, and inscribe it with iron and diamond, that Divinity--Divine Wisdom- -is God. In philosophy and science the question seems to be still open. Whether anything ultimate exists--whether substance is more than a complex of elements--whether the "thing in itself" is a reality or a name--is a question that Faraday and Clerk-Maxwell seem to answer as Bernard did, while Haeckel answers it as Gilbert did; but in theology even a heretic wonders how a doubt was possible. The absolute substance behind the attributes seems to be pure Spinoza.

This supposes that the heretic understands what Gilbert or Haeckel meant, which is certainly a mistake; but it is possible that he may see in part what Bernard meant and this is enough if it is all. Abelard's necessitarianism and Gilbert's Spinozism, if Bernard understood them right, were equally impossible theology, and the Church could by no evasion escape the necessity of condemning both. Unfortunately, Bernard could not put his foot down so roughly on the schools without putting it on Aristotle as well; and, for at least sixty years after the Council of Rheims, Aristotle was either tacitly or expressly prohibited.

One cannot stop to explain why Aristotle himself would have been first to forbid the teaching of what was called by his name in the Middle Ages; but you are bound to remember that this period between 1140 and 1200 was that of Transition architecture and art. One must go to Noyon, Soissons, and Laon to study the Church that trampled on the schools; one must recall how the peasants of Normandy and the Chartrain were crusading for the Virgin in 1145, and building her fleches at Chartres and Saint-Pierre-sur-Dives while Bernard was condemning Gilbert at Rheims in 1148; we must go to the poets to see what they all meant by it; but the sum is an emotion--clear and strong as love and much clearer than logic--whose charm lies in its unstable balance. The Transition is the equilibrium between the love of God--which is faith--and the logic of God--which is reason; between the round arch and the pointed. One may not be sure which pleases most, but one need not be harsh toward people who think that the moment of balance is exquisite. The last and highest moment is seen at Chartres, where, in 1200, the charm depends on the constant doubt whether emotion or science is uppermost. At Amiens, doubt ceases; emotion is trained in school; Thomas Aquinas reigns.

Bernard of Clairvaux and Thomas of Aquino were both artists,--very great artists, if the Church pleases,--and one need not decide which was the greater; but between them is a region of pure emotion--of poetry and art--which is more interesting than either. In every age man has been apt to dream uneasily, rolling from side to side, beating against imaginary bars, unless, tired out, he has sunk into indifference or scepticism. Religious minds prefer scepticism. The true saint is a profound sceptic; a total disbeliever in human reason, who has more than once joined hands on this ground with some who were at best sinners. Bernard was a total disbeliever in scholasticism; so was Voltaire. Bernard brought the society of his time to share his scepticism, but could give the society no other intellectual amusement to relieve its restlessness. His crusade failed; his ascetic enthusiasm faded; God came no nearer. If there was in all France, between 1140 and 1200, a more typical Englishman of the future Church of England type than John of Salisbury, he has left no trace; and John wrote a description of his time which makes a picturesque contrast with the picture painted by Abelard, his old master, of the century at its beginning. John weighed Abelard and the schools against Bernard and the cloister, and coolly concluded that the way to truth led rather through Citeaux, which brought him to Chartres as Bishop in 1176, and to a mild scepticism in faith. "I prefer to doubt," he said, "rather than rashly define what is hidden." The battle with the schools had then resulted only in creating three kinds of sceptics:--the disbelievers in human reason; the passive agnostics; and the sceptics proper, who would have been atheists had they dared. The first class was represented by the School of Saint-Victor; the second by John of Salisbury himself; the third, by a class of schoolmen whom he called Cornificii, as though they made a practice of inventing horns of dilemma on which to fix their opponents; as, for example, they asked whether a pig which was led to market was led by the man or the cord. One asks instantly: What cord?--whether Grace, for instance, or Free Will?

Bishop John used the science he had learned in the school only to reach the conclusion that, if philosophy were a science at all, its best practical use was to teach charity--love. Even the early, superficial debates of the schools, in 1100-50, had so exhausted the subject that the most intelligent men saw how little was to be gained by pursuing further those lines of thought. The twelfth century had already reached the point where the seventeenth century stood when Descartes renewed the attempt to give a solid, philosophical basis for deism by his celebrated "Cogito, ergo sum." Although that ultimate fact seemed new to Europe when Descartes revived it as the starting-point of his demonstration, it was as old and familiar as Saint Augustine to the twelfth century, and as little conclusive as any other assumption of the Ego or the Non-Ego. The schools argued, according to their tastes, from unity to multiplicity, or from multiplicity to unity; but what they wanted was to connect the two. They tried realism and found that it led to pantheism. They tried nominalism and found that it ended in materialism. They attempted a compromise in conceptualism which begged the whole question. Then they lay down, exhausted. In the seventeenth century the same violent struggle broke out again, and wrung from Pascal the famous outcry of despair in which the French language rose, perhaps for the last time, to the grand style of the twelfth century. To the twelfth century it belongs; to the century of faith and simplicity; not to the mathematical certainties of Descartes and Leibnitz and Newton, or to the mathematical abstractions of Spinoza. Descartes had proclaimed his famous conceptual proof of God: "I am conscious of myself, and must exist; I am conscious of God and He must exist." Pascal wearily replied that it was not God he doubted, but logic. He was tortured by the impossibility of rejecting man's reason by reason; unconsciously sceptical, he forced himself to disbelieve in himself rather than admit a doubt of God. Man had tried to prove God, and had failed: "The metaphysical proofs of God are so remote (eloignees) from the reasoning of men, and so contradictory (impliquees, far-fetched) that they make little impression; and even if they served to convince some people, it would only be during the instant that they see the demonstration; an hour afterwards they fear to have deceived themselves." Moreover, this kind of proof could lead only to a speculative knowledge, and to know God only in that way was not to know Him at all. The only way to reach God was to deny the value of reason, and to deny reason was scepticism:--

En voyant l'aveuglement et la misere de l'homme et ces contrarietes etonnantes qui se decouvrent dans sa nature, et regardant tout l'univers muet, et l'homme sans lumiere, abandonne a lui-meme et comme egare dans ce recoin de l'umvers, sans savoir qui l'y a mis, ce qu'il y est venu faire, ce qu'il deviendra en mourant, j'entre en effroi comme un homme qu'on aurait porte endormi dans une ile deserte et effroyable, et qui s'eveillerait sans connaitre ou il est et sans avoir aucun moyen d'en sortir. Et sur cela j'admire comment on n'entre pas en desespoir d'un si miserable etat. Je vois d'autres personnes aupres de moi de semblable nature, et je leur demande s'ils sont mieux instruits que moi, et ils me disent que non Et sur cela, ces miserables egares, ayant regarde autour d'eux, et ayant vu quelques objets plaisants, s'y sont donnes et s'y sont attaches Pour moi je n'ai pu m'y arreter ni me reposer dans la societe de ces personnes, en tout semblables a moi, miserables comme moi, impuissants comme moi. Je vois qu'ils ne m'aideraient pas a mourir, je mourrai seul, il faut donc faire comme si j'etais seul or, si j'etais seul, je ne batirais pas des maisons, je ne m'embarrasserais point dans des occupations tumultuaires, je ne chercherais l'estime de personne, mais je tacherais settlement a decouvrir la verite.

Ainsi, considerant combien il y a d'apparence qu'il y a autre chose que ce que je vois, j'ai recherche si ce Dieu dont tout le monde parle n'aurait pas laisse quelques marques de lui. Je regarde de toutes parts et ne vois partout qu' obscuritd. La nature ne m'offre rien que ne soit matiere de doute et d'inquietude. Si je n'y voyais rien qui marquat une divinite, je me determinerais a n'en rien croire. Si je voyais partout les marques d'un Createur, je me reposerais en paix dans la foi. Mais voyant trop pour nier, et trop peu pour m'assurer, je suis dans un etat a plaindre, et ou j'ai souhaite cent fois que si un Dieu soutient la nature, elle le marquat sans Equivoque; et que, si les marques qu'elle en donne sont trompeuses, elle les supprimat tout a fait; qu'elle dit tout ou rien, afin que je visse quel parti je dois suivre.

When I see the blindness and misery of man and the astonishing contradictions revealed in his nature, and observe the whole universe mute, and man without light, abandoned to himself, as though lost in this corner of the universe, without knowing who put him here, or what he has come here to do, or what will become of him in dying, I feel fear like a man who has been carried when asleep into a desert and fearful island, and has waked without knowing where he is and without having means of rescue. And thereupon I wonder how man escapes despair at so miserable an estate. I see others about me, like myself, and I ask them if they are better informed than I, and they tell me no. And then these wretched wanderers, after looking about them and seeing some pleasant object, have given themselves up and attached themselves to it. As for me I cannot stop there, or rest in the company of these persons, wholly like myself, miserable like me, impotent like me. I see that they would not help me to die, I shall die alone, I must then act as though alone, but if I were alone I should not build houses, I should not fret myself with bustling occupations, I should seek the esteem of no one, but I should try only to discover the truth.

So, considering how much appearance there is that something exists other than what I see I have sought whether this God of Whom every one talks may not have left some marks of Himself. I search everywhere, and see only obscurity everwhere. Nature offers me nothing but matter of possible doubt and disquiet. If I saw there nothing to mark a divinity, I should make up my mind to believe nothing of it. If I saw everywhere the marks of a Creator, I should rest in peace in faith. But seeing too much to deny, and too little to affirm, I am in a pitiable state, where I have an hundred times wishes that, if a God supports nature, she would show it without equivocation; and that, if the marks she gives are deceptive, she would suppress them wholly; that she say all of nothing, that I may see my path.

This is the true Prometheus lyric, but when put back in its place it refuses to rest at Port-Royal which has a right to nothing but precision; it has but one real home--the Abbaye-de-Saint-Victor. The mind that recoils from itself can only commit a sort of ecstatic suicide; it must absorb itself in God; and in the bankruptcy of twelfth-century science the Western Christian seemed actually on the point of attainment; he, like Pascal, touched God behind the veil of scepticism.

The schools had already proved one or two points which need never have been discussed again. In essence, religion was love; in no case was it logic. Reason can reach nothing except through the senses; God, by essence, cannot be reached through the senses; if He is to be known at all, He must be known by contact of spirit with spirit, essence with essence; directly; by emotion; by ecstasy; by absorption of our existence in His; by substitution of his spirit for ours. The world had no need to wait five hundred years longer in order to hear this same result reaffirmed by Pascal. Saint Francis of Assisi had affirmed it loudly enough, even if the voice of Saint Bernard had been less powerful than it was. The Virgin had asserted it in tones more gentle, but any one may still see how convincing, who stops a moment to feel the emotion that lifted her wonderful Chartres spire up to God.

The Virgin, indeed, made all easy, for it was little enough she cared for reason or logic. She cared for her baby, a simple matter, which any woman could do and understand. That, and the grace of God, had made her Queen of Heaven. The Trinity had its source in her,-- totius Trinitatis nobile Triclinium,--and she was maternity. She was also poetry and art. In the bankruptcy of reason, she alone was real.

So Guillaume de Champeaux, half a century dead, came to life again in another of his creations. His own Abbey of Saint-Victor, where Abelard had carried on imaginary disputes with him, became the dominant school. As far as concerns its logic, we had best pass it by. The Victorians needed logic only to drive away logicians, which was hardly necessary after Bernard had shut up the schools. As for its mysticism, all training is much alike in idea, whether one follows the six degrees of contemplation taught by Richard of Saint- Victor, or the eightfold noble way taught by Gautama Buddha. The theology of the school was still less important, for the Victorians contented themselves with orthodoxy only in the sense of caring as little for dogma as for dialectics; their thoughts were fixed on higher emotions. Not Richard the teacher, but Adam the poet, represents the school to us, and when Adam dealt with dogma he frankly admitted his ignorance and hinted his indifference; he was, as always, conscientious; but he was not always, or often, as cold. His statement of the Trinity is a marvel; but two verses of it are enough:--

Digne loqui de personis Vim transcendit rationis, Excedit ingenia. Quid sit gigni, quid processus, Me nescire sum professus, Sed fide non dubia.

Qui sic credit, non festinet, Et a via non declinet Insolenter regia. Servet fidem, formet mores, Nec attendat ad errors Quos damnat Ecclesia.

Of the Trinity to reason Leads to license or to treason Punishment deserving. What is birth and what procession Is not mine to make profession, Save with faith unswerving.

Thus professing, thus believing, Never insolently leaving The highway of our faith, Duty weighing, law obeying, Never shall we wander straying Where heresy is death.

Such a school took natural refuge in the Holy Ghost and the Virgin,- -Grace and Love,--but the Holy Ghost, as usual, profited by it much less than the Virgin. Comparatively little of Adam's poetry is expressly given to the Saint Esprit, and too large a part of this has a certain flavour of dogma:--

Qui procedis ab utroque
Genitore Genitoque
Pariter, Paraclite!
. . . . . . . . . Amor Patris, Filiique
Par amborum et utrique
Compar et consimilis!

The Holy Ghost is of the Father and of the Son; neither made nor created nor begotten, but proceeding.

The whole three Persons are coeternal
together; and coequal.

This sounds like a mere versification of the Creed, yet when Adam ceased to be dogmatic and broke into true prayer, his verse added a lofty beauty even to the Holy Ghost; a beauty too serious for modern rhyme:--

Oh, juvamen oppressorum,
Oh, solamen miserorum,
Pauperum refugium,
Da contemptum terrenorum!
Ad amorem supernorum
Trahe desiderium!

Consolator et fundator,
Habitator et amator,
Cordium humilium,
Pelle mala, terge sordes,
Et discordes fac Concordes,
Et affer praesidium!

Oh, helper of the heavy-laden,
Oh, solace of the miserable,
Of the poor, the refuge,
Give contempt of earthly pleasures!
To the love of heavenly treasures
Lift our hearts' desire!

Consolation and foundation,
Dearest friend and habitation
Of the lowly-hearted,
Dispel our evil, cleanse our foulness,
And our discords turn to concord,
And bring us succour!

Adam's scholasticism was the most sympathetic form of mediaeval philosophy. Even in prose, the greatest writers have not often succeeded in stating simply and clearly the fact that infinity can make itself finite, or that space can make itself bounds, or that eternity can generate time. In verse, Adam did it as easily as though he were writing any other miracle,--as Gaultier de Coincy told the Virgin's,--and any one who thinks that the task was as easy as it seems, has only to try it and see whether he can render into a modern tongue any single word which shall retain the whole value of the word which Adam has chosen:--

Ne periret homo reus
Redemptorem misit Deus,
Pater unigenitum;
Visitavit quos amavit
Nosque vitae revocavit
Gratia non meritum.

Infinitus et Immensus,
Quem non capit ullus sensus
Nec locorum spatia,
Ex eterno temporalis,
Ex immenso fit localis,
Ut restauret omnia.

To death condemned by awful sentence, God recalled us to repentance, Sending His only Son; Whom He loved He came to cherish; Whom His justice doomed to perish, By grace to life he won.

Infinity, Immensity, Whom no human eye can see Or human thought contain, Made of infinity a space, Made of Immensity a place, To win us Life again.

The English verses, compared with the Latin, are poor enough, with the canting jingle of a cheap religion and a thin philosophy, but by contrast and comparison they give higher value to the Latin. One feels the dignity and religious quality of Adam's chants the better for trying to give them an equivalent. One would not care to hazard such experiments on poetry of the highest class like that of Dante and Petrarch, but Adam was conventional both in verse and thought, and aimed at obtaining his effects from the skilful use of the Latin sonorities for the purposes of the chant. With dogma and metaphysics he dealt boldly and even baldly as he was required to do, and successfully as far as concerned the ear or the voice; but poetry was hardly made for dogma; even the Trinity was better expressed mathematically than by rhythm. With the stronger emotions, such as terror, Adam was still conventional, and showed that he thought of the chant more than of the feeling and exaggerated the sound beyond the value of the sense. He could never have written the "Dies Irae." He described the shipwreck of the soul in magnificent sounds without rousing an emotion of fear; the raging waves and winds that swept his bark past the abysses and up to the sky were as conventional as the sirens, the dragons, the dogs, and the pirates that lay in wait. The mast nodded as usual; the sails were rent; the sailors ceased work; all the machinery was classical; only the prayer to the Virgin saved the poetry from sinking like the ship; and yet, when chanted, the effect was much too fine to bear translation:--

Ave, Virgo singularis,
Mater nostri Salutaris,
Quae vocaris Stella Maris,
Stella non erratica;
Nos in hujus vitae mari
Non permitte naufragari,
Sed pro nobis Salutari
Tuo semper supplica!

Saevit mare, fremunt venti,
Fluctus surgunt turbulenti;
Navis currit, sed currenti
Tot occurrunt obvia!
Hic sirenes voluptatis,
Draco, canes cum piratis,
Mortem pene desperatis
Haec intentant omnia.

Post abyssos, nunc ad coelum
Furens unda fert phaselum;
Nutat malus, fluit velum,
Nautae cessat opera;
Contabescit in his malis
Homo noster animalis;
Tu nos, Mater spiritalis,
Pereuntes liberal!

Finer still is the famous stanza sung at Easter, in which Christ rises, the Lion of Judah, in the crash of the burst gates of death, at the roar of the Father Lion:--

Sic de Juda, leo fortis,
Fractis portis dirae mortis,
Die surgens tertia,
Rugiente voce patris
Ad supernae sinum matris
Tot revexit spolia.

For terror or ferocity or images of pain, the art of the twelfth century had no use except to give a higher value to their images of love. The figures on the west portal of Chartres are alive with the spirit of Adam's poetry, but it is the spirit of the Virgin. Like Saint Bernard, Adam lavished his affections on Mary, and even more than Saint Bernard he could claim to be her poet-laureate. Bernard was not himself author of the hymn "Stella Maris" which brought him the honour of the Virgin's personal recognition, but Adam was author of a dozen hymns in which her perfections were told with equal fervour, and which were sung at her festivals. Among these was the famous

Salve, Mater Pietatis,
Et totius Trinitatis
Nobile Triclinium!

a compliment so refined and yet so excessive that the Venerable Thomas Cantimpratensis who died a century later, about 1280, related in his "Apiarium" that when "venerabilis Adam" wrote down these lines, Mary herself appeared to him and bent her head in recognition. Although the manuscripts do not expressly mention this miracle, they do contain, at that stanza, a curious note expressing an opinion, apparently authorized by the prior, that, if the Virgin had seen fit to recognize the salutation of the Venerable Adam in this manner, she would have done only what he merited: "ab ea resalutari et regratiari meruit."

Adam's poems are still on the shelves of most Parisian bookshops, as common as "Aucassins" and better known than much poetry of our own time; for the mediaeval Latin rhymes have a delightful sonority and simplicity that keep them popular because they were not made to be read but to be sung. One does not forget their swing:--

Infinitus et Immensus;

or--

Oh, juvamen oppressorum;

or--

Consolatrix miserorum
Suscitatrix mortuorum.

The organ rolls through them as solemnly as ever it did in the Abbey Church; but in mediaeval art so much more depends on the mass than on the measure--on the dignity than on the detail--that equivalents are impossible. Even Walter Scott was content to translate only three verses of the "Dies Irae." At best, Viollet-le-Duc could reproduce only a sort of modern Gothic; a more or less effaced or affected echo of a lost emotion which the world never felt but once and never could feel again. Adam composed a number of hymns to the Virgin, and, in them all, the feeling counts for more, by far, than the sense. Supposing we choose the simplest and try to give it a modern version, aiming to show, by comparison, the difference of sound; one can perhaps manage to recover a little of the simplicity, but give it the grand style one cannot; or, at least, if any one has ever done both, it is Walter Scott, and merely by placing side by side the "Dies Irae" and his translation of it, one can see at a glance where he was obliged to sacrifice simplicity only to obtain sound:--

Dies irae, dies illa,
Solvet seclum in favilla,
Teste David cum Sibylla.

Quantus tremor est futurus,
Quando judex est venturus,
Cuncta stride discussurus!

Tuba mirum spargens sonum
Per sepulchra regionum,
Coget omnes ante thronum.

That day of wrath, that dreadful day,
When heaven and earth shall pass away,
What power shall be the sinner's stay?
How shall he meet that dreadful day?

When shrivelling like a parched scroll
The flaming heavens together roll;
When louder yet and yet more dread
Swells the high trump that wakes the dead.

As translation the last line is artificial.

The "Dies Irae" does not belong, in spirit, to the twelfth century; it is sombre and gloomy like the Last Judgments on the thirteenth- century portals; it does not love. Adam loved. His verses express the Virgin; they are graceful, tender, fervent, and they hold the same dignity which cannot be translated:--

In hac valle lacrimarum
Nihil dulce, nihil carum,
Suspecta sunt omnia;
Quid hic nobis erit tutum,
Cum nec ipsa vel virtutum
Tuta sit victoria!

Caro nobis adversatur,
Mundus cami suffragatur
In nostram perniciem;
Hostis instat, nos infestans,
Nunc se palam manifestans,
Nunc occultans rabiem.

Et peccamus et punimur,
Et diversis irretimur
Laqueis venantium.
O Maria, mater Dei,
Tu, post Deum, summa spei,
Tu dulce refugium;

Tot et tantis irretiti,
Non valemus his reniti
Ne vi nec industria;
Consolatrix miserorum,
Suscitatrix mortuorum,
Mortis rompe retia!

In this valley full of tears,
Nothing softens, nothing cheers,
All is suspected lure;
What safety can we hope for, here,
When even virtue faints for fear
Her victory be not sure!

Within, the flesh a traitor is,
Without, the world encompasses,
A deadly wound to bring.
The foe is greedy for our spoils,
Now clasping us within his coils,
Or hiding now his sting.

We sin, and penalty must pay,
And we are caught, like beasts of prey,
Within the hunter's snares.
Nearest to God! oh Mary Mother!
Hope can reach us from none other,
Sweet refuge from our cares;

We have no strength to struggle longer,
For our bonds are more and stronger
Than our hearts can bear!
You who rest the heavy-laden,
You who lead lost souls to Heaven,
Burst the hunter's snare!

The art of this poetry of love and hope, which marked the mystics, lay of course in the background of shadows which marked the cloister. "Inter vania nihil vanius est homine." Man is an imperceptible atom always trying to become one with God. If ever modern science achieves a definition of energy, possibly it may borrow the figure: Energy is the inherent effort of every multiplicity to become unity. Adam's poetry was an expression of the effort to reach absorption through love, not through fear; but to do this thoroughly he had to make real to himself his own nothingness; most of all, to annihilate pride; for the loftiest soul can comprehend that an atom,--say, of hydrogen,--which is proud of its personality, will never merge in a molecule of water. The familiar verse: "Oh, why should the spirit of mortal be proud?" echoes Adam's epitaph to this day:--

Heir of sin, by nature son of wrath,
Condemned to exile, every man is born.
Whence is man's pride, whose conception fault,
Birth pain, life labour, and whose death is sure?

Haeres peccati, natura filius irae,
Exiliique reus nascitur omnis homo.
Unde superbit homo, cujus conceptio culpa,
Nasci poena, labor vita, necesse mori?

Four concluding lines, not by him, express him even better:--

Hic ego qui jaceo, miser et miserabilis Adam, Unam pro summo munere posco precem. Peccavi, fateor; veniam peto; parce fatenti; Parce, pater: fratres, parcite; parce, Deus!

One does not conceive that Adam insisted so passionately on his sins because he thought them--or himself--important before the Infinite. Chemistry does hot consider an atom of oxygen as in itself important, yet if it wishes to get a volume of pure gas, it must separate the elements. The human soul was an atom that could unite with God only as a simple element. The French mystics showed in their mysticism the same French reasonableness; the sense of measure, of logic, of science; the allegiance to form; the transparency of thought, which the French mind has always shown on its surface like a shell of nacre. The mystics were in substance rather more logical than the schoolmen and much more artistic in their correctness of line and scale. At bottom, French saints were not extravagant. One can imagine a Byzantine asserting that no French saint was ever quite saintly. Their aims and ideals were very high, but not beyond reaching and not unreasonable. Drag the French mind as far from line and logic as space permits, the instant it is freed it springs back to the classic and tries to look consequent.

This paradox, that the French mystics were never mystical, runs through all our travels, so obstinately recurring in architecture, sculpture, legend, philosophy, religion, and poetry, that it becomes tiresome; and yet it is an idea that, in spite of Matthew Arnold and many other great critics, never has got lodgment in the English or German mind, and probably never will. Every one who loves travel will hope that it never may. If you are driven to notice it as the most distinctive mark of French art, it is not at all for the purpose of arguing a doubtful law, but only in order to widen the amusement of travel. We set out to travel from Mont-Saint-Michel to Chartres, and no farther; there we stop; but we may still look across the boundary to Assisi for a specimen of Italian Gothic architecture, a scheme of colour decoration, or still better for a mystic to compare with the Bernadines and Victorians. Every one who knows anything of religion knows that the ideal mystic saint of western Europe was Francis of Assisi, and that Francis, though he loved France, was as far as possible from being French; though not in the least French, he was still the finest flower from the French mediaeval garden; and though the French mystics could never have understood him, he was what the French mystics would have liked to be or would have thought they liked to be as long as they knew him to be not one of themselves. As an Italian or as a Spaniard, Francis was in harmony with his world; as a Frenchman, he would have been out of place even at Clairvaux, and still more among his own Cordeliers at the doors of the Sorbonne.

Francis was born in 1186, at the instant when French art was culminating, or about to culminate, in the new cathedrals of Laon and Chartres, on the ruins of scholastic religion and in the full summer of the Courts of Love. He died in 1226, just as Queen Blanche became Regent of France and when the Cathedral of Beauvais was planned. His life precisely covered the most perfect moment of art and feeling in the thousand years of pure and confident Christianity. To an emotional nature like his, life was still a phantasm or "concept" of crusade against real or imaginary enemies of God, with the "Chanson de Roland" for a sort of evangel, and a feminine ideal for a passion. He chose for his mistress "domina nostra paupertas," and the rules of his order of knighthood were as visionary as those of Saint Bernard were practical. "Isti sunt fratres mei milites tabulae rotundae, qui latitant in desertis"; his Knights of the Round Table hid themselves for their training in deserts of poverty, simplicity, humility, innocence of self, absorption in nature, in the silence of God, and, above all, in love and joy incarnate, whose only influence was example. Poverty of body in itself mattered nothing; what Francis wanted was poverty of pride, and the external robe or the bare feet were outward and necessary forms of protection against its outward display. Against riches or against all external and visible vanity, rules and laws could be easily enforced if it were worth while, although the purest humility would be reached only by those who were indifferent and unconscious of their external dress; but against spiritual pride the soul is defenceless, and of all its forms the subtlest and the meanest is pride of intellect. If "nostra domina paupertas" had a mortal enemy, it was not the pride beneath a scarlet robe, but that in a schoolmaster's ferule, and of all schoolmasters the vainest and most pretentious was the scholastic philosopher. Satan was logic. Lord Bacon held much the same opinion. "I reject the syllogism," was the starting-point of his teaching as it was the essence of Saint Francis's, and the reasons of both men were the same though their action was opposite. "Let men please themselves as they will in admiring and almost adoring the human mind, this is certain:--that, as an uneven mirror distorts the rays of objects according to its own figure and section, so the mind ... cannot be trusted ..." Bacon's first object was the same as that of Francis, to humiliate and if possible destroy the pride of human reason; both of them knew that this was their most difficult task, and Francis, who was charity incarnate, lost his self-control whenever he spoke of the schools, and became almost bitter, as though in constant terror of a poison or a cancer. "Praeodorabat etiam tempora non longe ventura in quibus jam praesciebat scientiam inflativam debere esse occasionem ruinae." He foresaw the time not far off when puffed-up science would be the ruin of his "domina paupertas." His struggle with this form of human pride was desperate and tragical in its instant failure. He could not make even his novices understand what he meant. The most impossible task of the mind is to reject in practice the reflex action of itself, as Bacon pointed out, and only the highest training has sometimes partially succeeded in doing it. The schools--ancient, mediaeval, or modern--have almost equally failed, but even the simple rustics who tried to follow Francis could not see why the rule of poverty should extend to the use of a psalter. Over and over again he explained vehemently and dramatically as only an Italian or a Spaniard could, and still they failed to catch a notion of what he meant.

Quum ergo venisset beatus Franciscus ad locum ubi erat ille novitius, dixit ille novitius: "Pater, mihi esset magna consolatio habere psalterium, sed licet generalis illud mihi concesserit, tamen vellem ipsum habere, pater, de conscientia tua." Cui beatus Franciscus respondit: "Carolus imperator, Rolandus et Oliverus et omnes palatini et robusti viri qui potentes fuerunt in proelio, prosequendo infideles cum multa sudore et labore usque ad mortem, habuerunt de illis victoriara memorialiter, et ad ultimum ipsi sancti martyres sunt mortui pro fide Christi in certamine. Nunc autem multi sunt qui sola narratione eorum quae illi fecerunt volunt recipere honorem et humanam laudem. Ita et inter nos sunt multi qui solum recitando et praedicando opera quae sancti fecerunt volunt recipere honorem et laudem; ... postquam habueris psalterium, concupisces et volueris habere breviarium; et postquam habueris breviarium, sedebis in cathedra tanquam magnus prelatus et dices fratri tuo:--Apporta mihi breviarium!"

Haec autem dicens beatus Franciscus cum magno fervore spiritus accepit de cinere et posuit super caput suum, et ducendo manum super caput suum in circuitu sicut ille qui lavat caput, dicebat: "Ego breviarium! ego breviarium!" et sic reiteravit multoties ducendo manum per caput. Et stupefactus et verecundatus est frater ille ... Elapsis autem pluribus mensibus quum esset beatus Franciscus apud locum sanctae Mariae de Portiuncula, juxta cellam post domum in via, praedictus frater iterum locutus est ei de psalterio. Cui beatus Franciscus dixit: "Vade et facias de hoc sicut dicet tibi minister tuus!" Quo audito, frater ille coepit redire per viam unde venerat. Beatus autem Franciscus remanens in via coepit considerare illud quod dixerat illi fratri, et statim clamavit post cum, dicens: "Expecta me, frater! expecta!" Et ivit usque ad eum et ait illi: "Revertere mecum, frater, et ostende mihi locum ubi dixi tibi quod faceres de psalterio sicut diceret minister tuus." Quum ergo pervenissent ad locum, beatus Franciscus genuflexit coram fratre illo, et dixit: "Mea culpa, frater! mea culpa! quia quicunque vult esse frater Minor non debet habere nisi tunicam, sicut regula sibi concedit, et cordam et femoralia et qui manifesta necessitate coguntur calciamenta."

So when Saint Francis happened to come to the place where the novice was, the novice said: "Father, it would be a great comfort to me to have a psalter, but though my general should grant it, still I would rather have it, father, with your knowledge too." Saint Francis answered: "The Emperor Charlemagne, Roland and Oliver, and all the palatines and strong men who were potent in battle, pursuing the infidels with much toil and sweat even to death, triumphed over them memorably [without writing it?], and at last these holy martyrs died in the contest for the faith of Christ. But now there are many who, merely by telling of what those men did, want to receive honour and human praise. So, too, among us are many who, merely by reciting and preaching the works which the saints have done, want to receive honour and praise; ... After you have got the psalter, you will covet and want a breviary; and after getting the breviary, you will sit on your throne like a bishop, and will say to your brother: 'Bring me the breviary!'"

While saying this, Saint Francis with great vehemence took up a handful of ashes and spread it over his bead; and moving his hand about his head in a circle as though washing it, said: "I, breviary! I, breviary!" and so kept on, repeatedly moving his hand about his head; and stupefied and ashamed was that novice. ... But several months afterwards when Saint Francis happened to be near Sta Maria de Portiuncula, by the cell behind the house on the road, the same brother again spoke to him about the psalter. Saint Francis replied: "Go and do about it as your director says." On this the brother turned back, but Saint Francis, standing in the road, began to reflect on what he had said, and suddenly called after him: "Wait for me, brother! wait!" and going after him, said: "Return with me, brother, and show me the place where I told you to do as your director should say, about the psalter." When they had come back to it, Saint Francis bent before the brother, and said: "Mea culpa, brother, mea culpa! because whoever wishes to be a Minorite must have nothing but a tunic, as the rule permits, and the cord, and the loincloth, and what covering is manifestly necessary for the limbs."

So vivid a picture of an actual mediaeval saint stands out upon this simple background as is hardly to be found elsewhere in all the records of centuries, but if the brother himself did not understand it and was so shamed and stupefied by Francis's vehemence, the world could understand it no better; the Order itself was ashamed of Saint Francis because they understood him too well. They hastened to suppress this teaching against science, although it was the life of Francis's doctrine. He taught that the science of the schools led to perdition because it was puffed up with emptiness and pride. Humility, simplicity, poverty were alone true science. They alone led to heaven. Before the tribunal of Christ, the schoolmen would be condemned, "and, with their dark logic (opinionibus tenebrosis) shall be plunged into outer darkness with the spirits of the darkness." They were devilish, and would perish with the devils.

One sees instantly that neither Francis of Assisi nor Bacon of Verulam could have hoped for peace with the schools; twelfth-century ecstasy felt the futility of mere rhetoric quite as keenly as seventeenth-century scepticism was to feel it; and yet when Francis died in 1226 at Assisi, Thomas was just being born at Aquino some two hundred kilometres to the southward. True scholasticism had not begun. Four hundred years seem long for the human mind to stand still--or go backward; the more because the human mind was never better satisfied with itself than when thus absorbed in its mirror; but with that chapter we have nothing to do. The pleasantest way to treat it was that of Saint Francis; half-serious, half-jesting; as though, after all, in the thought of infinity, four hundred years were at most only a serio-comic interlude. At Assisi, once, when a theologian attacked Fra Egidio by the usual formal arraignment in syllogisms, the brother waited until the conclusions were laid down, and then, taking out a flute from the folds of his robe, he played his answer in rustic melodies. The soul of Saint Francis was a rustic melody and the simplest that ever reached so high an expression. Compared with it, Theocritus and Virgil are as modern as Tennyson and ourselves.

All this shows only what Saint Francis was not; to understand what he was and how he goes with Saint Bernard and Saint Victor through the religious idyll of Transition architecture, one must wander about Assisi with the "Floretum" or "Fioretti" in one's hand;--the legends which are the gospel of Francis as the evangels are the gospel of Christ, who was reincarnated in Assisi. We have given a deal of time to showing our own sceptical natures how simple the architects and decorators of Chartres were in their notions of the Virgin and her wants; but French simple-mindedness was already complex compared with Italian. The Virgin was human; Francis was elementary nature itself, like sun and air; he was Greek in his joy of life:--

... Recessit inde et venit inter Cannarium
et Mevanium. Et respexit quasdam arbores
juxta viam in quibus residebat tanta multitudo
avium diversarum quod nunquam in
partibus illis visa similis multitudo. In campo
insuper juxta praedictas arbores etiam multitudo
maxima residebat. Quam multitudinem
sanctus Franciscus respiciens et admirans,
facto super eum Spiritu Dei, dixit sociis: "Vobis
hic me in via exspectantibus, ibo et praedicabo
sororibus nostris aviculis." Et intravit
in campum ad aves quae residebant in terra.
Et statim quum praedicare incepit omnes aves
in arboribus residentes descenderunt ad eum
et simul cum aliis de campo immobiles perman
serunt, quum tamen ipse inter eas iret plurimas
tunica contingendo. Et nulla earum penitus
movebatur, sicut recitavit frater Jacobus de
Massa, sanctus homo, qui omnia supradicta
habuit ab ore fratris Massei, qui fuit unus de
iis qui tune erant socii sancti patris.

Quibus avibus sanctus Franciscus ait:
"Multum tenemini Deo, sorores meas aves,
et debetis eum semper et ubique laudare propter
liberum quem ubique habetis volatum,
propter vestitum duplicatum et triplicatum,
propter habitum pictum et ornatum, propter
victum sine vestro labore paratum, propter
cantum a Creatore vobis intimatum, propter
numerum ex Dei benedictione multiplicatum,
propter semen vestrum a Deo in area reservatum,
propter elementum aeris vobis deputatum.
Vos non seminatis neque metitis, et Deus
vos pascit; et dedit vobis flumina et fontes ad
potandum, montes et colles, saxa et ibices ad
refugium, et arbores altes ad nidificandum;
et quum nec filare nec texere sciatis, praebet
tam vobis quam vestris filiis necessarium indumentum.
Unde multum diligit vos Creator
qui tot beneficia contulit. Quapropter cavete,
sorores mes aviculae, ni sitis ingratae sed
semper laudare Deum studete."

... He departed thence and came between
Cannara and Bevagna; and near the road he
saw some trees on which perched so great a
number of birds as never in those parts had
been seen the like. Also in the field beyond,
near these same trees, a very great multitude
rested on the ground. This multitude, Saint
Francis seeing with wonder, the spirit of God
descending on him he said to his companions:
"Wait for me on the road, while I go and
preach to our sisters the little birds." And he
went into the field where the birds were on
the ground. And as soon as he began to preach,
all the birds in the trees came down to him and
with those in the field stood quite still, even
when he went among them touching many
with his robe. Not one of them moved,
as Brother James of Massa related, a saintly
man who had the whole story from the mouth
of Brother Masseo who was one of those then
with the sainted father.

To these birds, Saint Francis said: "Much
are you bound to God, birds, my sisters, and
everywhere and always must you praise him for
the free flight you everywhere have; for the
double and triple covering; for the painted and
decorated robe; for the food prepared without
your labour; for the song taught you by the
Creator; for your number multiplied by God's
blessing; for your seed preserved by God in
the ark; for the element of air allotted to you.
You neither sow nor reap, and God feeds
you; and has given you rivers and springs
to drink at, mountains and hills, rocks and
wild goats for refuge, and high trees for nesting;
and though you know neither how to spin nor
to weave, He gives both you and your children
all the garments you need. Whence much must
the Creator love you, Who confers so many
blessings. Therefore take care, my small bird
sisters, never to be ungrateful, but always strive
to praise God."

Fra Ugolino, or whoever wrote from the dictation of Brother James of Massa, after the tradition of Brother Masseo of Marignano reported Saint Francis's sermon in absolute good faith as Saint Francis probably made it and as the birds possibly received it. All were God's creatures, brothers and sisters, and God alone knew or knows whether or how far they understand each other; but Saint Francis, in any case, understood them and believed that they were in sympathy with him. As far as the birds or wolves were concerned, it was no great matter, but Francis did not stop with vertebrates or even with organic forms. "Nor was it surprising," said the "Speculum," "if fire and other creatures sometimes revered and obeyed him; for, as we who were with him very frequently saw, he held them in such affection and so much delighted in them, and his soul was moved by such pity and compassion for them, that he would not see them roughly handled, and talked with them with such evident delight as if they were rational beings":--

"Nam quadam vice, quum sederet juxta ignem, ipso nesciente, ignis invasit pannos ejus de lino, sive brachas, juxta genu, quumque sentiret calorem ejus nolebat ipsum extinguere. Socius autem ejus videns comburi pannos ejus cucurrit ad eum volens extinguere ignem; ipse vero prohibuit ei, dicens: "Noli, frater, carissime, noli male facere igni!" Et sic nullo modo voluit quod extingueret ipsum. Ille vero festinanter ivit ad fratrem qui erat guardianus ipsius, et duxit eum ad beatum Franciscum, et statim contra voluntatem beati Francisci, extinxit ignem. Unde quacunque necessitate urgente nunquam voluit extinguere ignem vel lampadem vel candelam, tantum pietate movebatur ad ipsum. Nolebat etiam quod frater projiceret ignem vel lignum fumigantem de loco ad locum sicut solet fieri, sed volebat ut plane poneret ipsum in terra ob reverentiam illius cujus est creatura."

For once when he was sitting by the fire, a spark, without his knowing it, caught his linen drawers and set them burning near the knee, and when he felt the heat he would not extinguish it; but his companion, seeing his clothes on fire, ran to put it out, and he forbade it, saying: "Don't, my dearest brother, don't hurt the fire!" So he utterly refused to let him put it out, and the brother hurried off to get his guardian, and brought him to Saint Francis, and together they put out the fire at once against Saint Francis's will. So, no matter what the necessity, he would never put out fire Or a lamp or candle, so strong was his feeling for it; he would not even let a brother throw fire or a smoking log from place to place, as is usual, but wanted it placed gently (piano) on the ground, out of respect for Him Whose creature it is.

The modern tourist, having with difficulty satisfied himself that Saint Francis acted thus in good faith, immediately exclaims that he was a heretic and should have been burned; but, in truth, the immense popular charm of Saint Francis, as of the Virgin, was precisely his beresies. Both were illogical and heretical by essence;--in strict discipline, in the days of the Holy Office, a hundred years later, both would have been burned by the Church, as Jeanne d'Arc was, with infinitely less reason, in 1431. The charm of the twelfth-century Church was that it knew how to be illogical--no great moral authority ever knew it better--when God Himself became illogical. It cared no more than Saint Francis, or Lord Bacon, for the syllogism. Nothing in twelfth-century art is so fine as the air and gesture of sympathetic majesty with which the Church drew aside to let the Virgin and Saint Francis pass and take the lead--for a time. Both were human ideals too intensely realized to be resisted merely because they were illogical. The Church bowed and was silent.

This does not concern us. What the Church thought or thinks is its own affair, and what it chooses to call orthodox is orthodox. We have been trying only to understand what the Virgin and Saint Francis thought, which is matter of fact, not of faith. Saint Francis was even more outspoken than the Virgin. She calmly set herself above dogma, and, with feminine indifference to authority, overruled it. He, having asserted in the strongest terms the principle of obedience, paid no further attention to dogma, but, without the least reticence, insisted on practices and ideas that no Church could possibly permit or avow. Toward the end of his life, his physician cauterized his face for some neuralgic pain:--

Et posito ferro in igne pro coctura fienda, beatus Franciscus volens confortare spiritum suum ne pavesceret, sic locutus est ad ignem: "Frater mi, ignis, nobilis et utilis inter alias creaturas, esto mihi curialis in hac hora quia olim te dilexi et diligam amore illius qui creavit te. Deprecor etiam creatorem nostrum qui nos creavit ut ita tuum calorem temperct ut ipsum sustinere valeam." Et oratione finita signavit ignem signo crucis.

When the iron was put on the fire for making the cotterie, Saint Francis, wishing to encourage himself against fear, spoke thus to the fire: "My brother, fire, noblest and usefullest of creatures, be gentle to me now, because I have loved and will love you with the love of Him who created you. Our Creator, too, Who created us both, I implore so to temper your heat that I may have strength to bear it." And having spoken, he signed the fire with the cross.

With him, this was not merely a symbol. Children and saints can believe two contrary things at the same time, but Saint Francis had also a complete faith of his own which satisfied him wholly. All nature was God's creature. The sun and fire, air and water, were neither more nor less brothers and sisters than sparrows, wolves, and bandits. Even "daemones sunt castalli Domini nostri"; the devils are wardens of our Lord. If Saint Francis made any exception from his univeral law of brotherhood it was that of the schoolmen, but it was never expressed. Even in his passionate outbreak, in the presence of Saint Dominic, at the great Chapter of his Order at Sancta Maria de Portiuncula in 1218, he did not go quite to the length of denying the brotherhood of schoolmen, although he placed them far below the devils, and yet every word of this address seems to sob with the anguish of his despair at the power of the school anti-Christ:--

Quum beatus Franciscus esset in capitulo generali apud Sanctam Mariam de Portiuncula ... et fuerunt ibi quinque millia fratres, quamplures fratres sapientes et scientiati iverunt ad dominum Ostiensem qui erat ibidem, et dixerunt ei: "Domine, volumus ut suadetis fratri Francisco quod sequatur consilium fratrum sapientium et permittat se interdum duci ab eis." Et allegabant regulam sancti Benedicti, Augustini et Bernardi qui docent sic et sic vivere ordinate. Quae omnia quum retulisset cardinalis beato Francisco per modum admoni admonitionis, beatus Franciscus, nihil sibi respondens, cepit ipsum per manum et duxit eum ad fratres congregatos in capitulo, et sic locutus est fratribus in fervore et virtute Spirit us sancti:--

"Fratres mei, fratres mei, Dominus vocavit me per viam simplicitatis et humilitatis, et bane viam ostendit mini in veritate pro me et pro illis qui volunt mini credere et imitari. Et ideo volo quod non nominetis mihi aliquam regulam neque sancti Benedicti neque sancti Augustini neque sancti Bernardi, neque aliquam viam et formam vivendi praeter illam quae mihi a Domino est ostensa misericorditer et donata. Et dixit mihi Dominus quod volebat me esse unum pauperem et stultum idiotam [magnum fatuum] in hoc mundo et noluit nos ducere per viam aliam quam per istam scientiam. Sed per vestram scientiam et sapientiam Deus vos confundet et ego confido in castallis Domini [idest dasmonibus] quod per ipsos puniet vos Deus et adhuc redibitis ad vestrum statum cum vituperio vestro velitis nolitis."

When Saint Francis was at the General Chapter held at Sancta maris de Portiuncula ... and five thousand brothers were present, A number of them who were schoolmen went to Cardinal Hugolino who was there, and said to him: "My lord, we want you to persuade Brother Francis to follow the council of the learned brothers, and sometimes let himself be guided by them." And they suggested the rule of Saint Benedict or Augustine or Bernard who require their congregations to live so and so, by regulation. When the cardinal had repeated all this to Saint Fancis by way of counsel, Saint Francis, making no answer, took him by the hand and led him to the brothers assembled in Chapter, and in the fervour and virtue of the Holy Gost, spoke thus to the brothers:

"My brothers, my brothers, God has called me by way of simplicity and humility, and has shown me in verity this pather for me and those who want to believe and follow me; so I want you to talk of no Rule to me, neither Saint Bendict nor Saint Augustine nor Saint Bernard, nor any way or form of Life whatever except that which God has mercifully pointed out and granted to me. And God said that he wanted me to be a pauper [poverello] and an idiot--a great fool--in this world, and would not lead us by any other path of science than this. But by your science and syllogisms God will confound you, and I trust in God's warders, the devils, that through them God shall punish you, and you will yet come back to your proper station with shame, whether you will or no."

The narration continues: "Tunc cardinalis obstupuit valde et nihil respondit. Et omnes fratres plurimum timuerunt."

One feels that the reporter has not exaggerated a word; on the contrary, he softened the scandal, because in his time the Cardinal had gained his point, and Francis was dead. One can hear Francis beginning with some restraint, and gradually carried away by passion till he lost control of himself and his language: "'God told me, with his own words, that he meant me to be a beggar and a great fool, and would not have us on any other terms; and as for your science, I trust in God's devils who will beat you out of it, as you deserve.' And the Cardinal was utterly dumbfounded and answered nothing; and all the brothers were scared to death." The Cardinal Hugolino was a great schoolman, and Dominic was then founding the famous order in which the greatest of all doctors, Albertus Magnus, was about to begin his studies. One can imagine that the Cardinal "obstupuit valde," and that Dominic felt shaken in his scheme of school instruction. For a single instant, in the flash of Francis's passion, the whole mass of five thousand monks in a state of semi- ecstasy recoiled before the impassable gulf that opened between them and the Church.

No one was to blame--no one ever is to blame--because God wanted contradictory things, and man tried to carry out, as he saw them, God's trusts. The schoolmen saw their duty in one direction; Francis saw his in another; and, apparently, when both lines had been carried, after such fashion as might be, to their utmost results, and five hundred years had been devoted to the effort, society declared both to be failures. Perhaps both may some day be revived, for the two paths seem to be the only roads that can exist, if man starts by taking for granted that there is an object to be reached at the end of his journey. The Church, embracing all mankind, had no choice but to march with caution, seeking God by every possible means of intellect and study. Francis, acting only for himself, could throw caution aside and trust implicitly in God, like the children who went on crusade. The two poles of social and political philosophy seem necessarily to be organization or anarchy; man's intellect or the forces of nature. Francis saw God in nature, if he did not see nature in God; as the builders of Chartres saw the Virgin in their apse. Francis held the simplest and most childlike form of pantheism. He carried to its last point the mystical union with God, and its necessary consequence of contempt and hatred for human intellectual processes. Even Saint Bernard would have thought his ideas wanting in that "mesure" which the French mind so much prizes. At the same time we had best try, as innocently as may be, to realize that no final judgment has yet been pronounced, either by the Church or by society or by science, on either or any of these points; and until mankind finally settles to a certainty where it means to go, or whether it means to go anywhere,--what its object is, or whether it has an object,--Saint Francis may still prove to have been its ultimate expression. In that case, his famous chant-- the "Cantico del Sole"--will be the last word of religion, as it was probably its first. Here it is--too sincere for translation:--

CANTICO DEL SOLE

... Laudato sie, misignore, con tucte le tue creature spetialmente messor lo frate sole lo quale iorno et allumini noi per loi et ellu e bellu e radiante cum grande splendore de te, altissimo, porta significatione.

Laudato si, misignore, per sora luna e le stelle in celu lai formate clarite et pretiose et belle.

Laudato si, misignore, per frate vento et per aere et nubilo et sereno et onne tempo per lo quale a le tue creature dai sustentamento.

Laudato si, misignore, per sor aqua la quale e multo utile et humile et pretiosa et casta. Laudato si, misignore, per frate focu per lo quale enallumini la nocte ed ello e bello et jocondo et robustoso et forte.

Laudato si, misignore, per sora nostra matre terra la quale ne sustenta et governa et produce diversi fructi con coloriti flori et herba. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Laudato si, misignore, per sora nostra morte corporale de la quale nullu homo vivente po skappare guai acquelli ke morrano ne le peccata mortali....

The verses, if verses they are, have little or nothing in common with the art of Saint Bernard or Adam of Saint-Victor. Whatever art they have, granting that they have any, seems to go back to the cave-dwellers and the age of stone. Compared with the naivete of the "Cantico del Sole," the "Chanson de Roland" or the "Iliad" is a triumph of perfect technique. The value is not in the verse. The "Chant of the Sun" is another "Pons Seclorum"--or perhaps rather a "Pons Sanctorum"--over which only children and saints can pass. It is almost a paraphrase of the sermon to the birds. "Thank you, mi signore, for messor brother sun, in especial, who is your symbol; and for sister moon and the stars; and for brother wind and air and sky; and for sister water; and for brother fire; and for mother earth! We are all yours, mi signore! We are your children; your household; your feudal family! but we never heard of a Church. We are all varying forms of the same ultimate energy; shifting symbols of the same absolute unity; but our only unity, beneath you, is nature, not law! We thank you for no human institutions, even for those established in your name; but, with all our hearts we thank you for sister our mother Earth and its fruits and coloured flowers!"

Francis loved them all--the brothers and sisters--as intensely as a child loves the taste and smell of a peach, and as simply; but behind them remained one sister whom no one loved, and for whom, in his first verses, Francis had rendered no thanks. Only on his death- bed he added the lines of gratitude for "our sister death," the long-sought, never-found sister of the schoolmen, who solved all philosophy and merged multiplicity in unity. The solution was at least simple; one must decide for one's self, according to one's personal standards, whether or not it is more sympathetic than that with which we have got lastly to grapple in the works of Saint Thomas Aquinas.

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