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erine--a more enlightening picture than us of them is supplemented by St. any we have yet read-while in "St. Catherine's biographer. We are acCatherine of Siena and her Times” we customed, most of us, to a William get a vivid account of one of the Morris-like picture of the early Middle noblest and most human of saints, as Ages. "The thirteenth century," says well as of the world that surrounded Mr. Coulton, “which from our modern her. Mr. Coulton's book is the more distance seems at first sight to swim important, because it reveals new in one haze of Fra Angelico blue, truth, by throwing fresh light on old shows to the telescope its full share facts, no less than by producing of barren and pestilent marsh." Salimhitherto unknown information. For it . bene wrote of days only thirty and is a commentary upon the famous forty years after St. Francis, but the “Autobiography of Brother Salimbene, saint's spirit had almost died out the Franciscan," from which it gives among Franciscan Brethren. The long extracts, almost chapters; and degradation of his ideals had begun, as that valuable work, "the most precious Mr. Coulton points out, even during existing authority for the inner life his lifetime. Brother Elias, his disciof Catholic folk” at the best period of ple, well known to Salimbene, ossified the Middle Ages, is only “now at last faith into ritual, and the very ausbeing published in its entirety,” under terity of the primal Franciscan standthe editorship of Professor Holder- ard, too stringent for ordinary people, Egger, in the Monumenta Germaniae. resulted in a corresponding laxity.
Average men returned to their average, An edition was indeed published in and the average of 1260 till 1360, or 1857 at Parma; but this was printed
later, is not pleasant to dwell on. The from an imperfect transcript, muti
grossness and uncleanliness were inlated in deference to ecclesiastical sus
credible, and the rules laid down for ceptibilities. The original MS., after many vicissitudes, had been bought
the friars' manners when at table into the Vatican Library in order to make us humbly thankful for forks, render a complete publication impossi- pocket-handkerchiefs, soap, and other ble; and it was only thrown open to unrealized blessings. More shocking students, with the rest of the Vatican
to the moral sense are the rules for treasures, by the liberality of the late
their behavior in Church. They talked, Pope Leo XIII. Even now the complete Salimbene will never be read; for
they laughed aloud, especially at any many sheets have been cut out of the
blunder in the service; they walked MS., and parts of others erased. by about during mass, gossiping; they certain scandalized readers of long ago. slept as a matter of course; and, as
can be imagined, the lay congregations Mr. Coulton is a far-seeing man and were by no means superior to the a good writer. What is more remark- monastic ones. One day a whole able, he contrives to unite a judicial churchful of people rushed away, in mind with strong convictions, which the midst of a sermon, to the Cathelend warmth and interest to bis style. dral, because they heard that a boy.
Salimbene's chronicle, that of a preacher, then in vogue, was at that shrewd, humorous, moderate-minded, moment in the pulpit. As for the imgood, and rather cynical Franciscan, is, morality of the clergy, their simony, naturally, a record of his Order and their absenteeism, faults so dwelt on of the state of the Church; but he af- at the time of the Reformation, it is fords is many side-lights on the life dismal to find how they prevailed beof people and nobles, and what he tells fore 1300. The lash of Dante's tongue was needed---not by exceptional men, begged alms in France in Christ's but by the normal monk, priest, or prel- name, men gnashed with their teeth on ate. And St. Catherine of Siena's them; then, before their very faces, urgent injunction to her niece, to fly they would call some other poor man from her confessor the moment her and give him money and say, Take confession was over, is a measure of that in Mahomet's name, for he is what had been going on for more than stronger than Christ.'” Or there were a century before she wrote this. It the intellectual Joachites, the followers is a comfort to hear of a few decent of the holy mystic Joachim da Fiore, and charitable ladies among Salim- who believed that the Church was not bene's flock; but he had a poor opinion always the same, but must change acof women's abilities and deplored their cording to the needs of different ages. influence. “For woman, whensoever As for the various sects among the she may," he says, "doth gladly take orthodox, and their wild, often harmdominion to herself, as may be seen ful, extravagance, there is no end to in Semiramis, who invented the wear them. Lay brothers went about ing of breeches. . . . Blessed be God preaching the crudest sensationalism. who hath brought me to the end of In 1260, after the great famine, "the this matter." Yet it was in these days Flagellants came through the whole of irreverence and unscrupulous brutal world, and all men ... noble knights ity that a robber-nobleman, stained with and men of the people, scourged themevery crime, or a profligate lordling of selves naked in procession through the Siena, would burst into sudden tears cities ... and restored what they had at the sight of Saint Catherine, would unlawfully taken away, and they conkneel down trembling before her, how- fessed their sins so earnestly that the ever hard he had sworn to do the con- priests had scarce leisure to eat." trary, and would obey her like a wolf- Earlier still havoc had been wrought ish kind of lamb; or that Condottieri, by the Boys' Crusade, a regiment of like William Flete and Hawkwood, seven thousand children and youths, turned hermits and mystics for her who vaguely wandered forth expecting sake.
"to cross the sea dry-shod from Genoa It is a mistake, however, to imagine, to the Holy Land, but, becoming as many have done, that the Middle scandalously demoralized, they were Ages were inwardly uniform in their dispersed and perished miserably." belief, however uniform their outward Enterprises such as these were probaobservance might be. Salimbene, him- bly not unconnected with a charge self no Puritan, but honest and re- brought in England against the Friars ligious, enlightens us on this point for "attracting boys by presents of The widest latitude was allowed for apples and wine.” Stranger still was belief as long as outward discipline "the Brother of the Horn," who bewas not affected. “It was far less longed to no religious order, "but lived dangerous ... to debate in the schools after his own conscience ... a simple whether God really existed than to man and unlearned and of holy innowear publicly and pertinaciously a cence. ... He was like another John frock and cowl of any but the ortho- the Baptist to behold. ... He had on dox cut.” Many men were tortured his head an Armenian cap, his beard by religious doubts; others, seeing was long and black, and he had a what the Church was, became indiffer- little horn of brass. ... Terribly did ent or unbelieving. "For in those days his horn bray at times. His robe was when the Friars Minor and Preachers black as sack-cloth of hair," and "thus clad he went about with his horn, common sense, a rare combination. It preaching and praising God ... and a was characteristic of her that when great multitude of children followed at eight years old she ran away one him, oft-times with branches of trees afternoon to be a hermit she took some and lighted tapers.” And equally bread and a jug of water with her, amazing, though less devout, was Ger- lest the angels should forget to bring ardino Segarello of Parma, who con her food, and at nightfall she ran ceived “the idea of imitating Our home again for fear of making her Lord's outward actions" and began by parents anxious. Perhaps it was her putting himself into “a cradle, wrapped shrewd insight which gave her so much in swaddling clothes." Such eccentrici- influence over the young patrician ties were mainly practised among the "sparks" of her city, one of whom, people; for as Mr. Coulton tells us, Stefano Maconi, became her secretary most religious movements proceeded and remained her devotee—this and her from them. Even the canonization of deep human sympathy, which helped to saints "almost always came from the reconcile city with city and family with lower classes," and "Nothing is more family. There was one famous occasion false than to suppose that the medieval when she undertook to make up the Church was disciplined like the pres- fierce feud long existing between the ent Church of Rome." In these cir- Maconi on one side and the Tolomei cumstances, it is not surprising to find and Rinaldini on the other. The three that a certain abbot was canonized families were to come and conclude "whose claims to sanctity, under in- a peace in the Church of San Crisvestigation, reduced themselves to this toforo. The Maconi were there, but --that he had fallen down a well in a not the others. Catherine knelt at the state of intoxication and so perished." altar praying for their arrival, till,
It is more edifying to turn to the drawn by her prayers and against their living protests against such evils, the will, they came. But when they saw personalities of the Saints; and of her on her knees, rapt in her devothese none is more convincing than tions, her cause was won and the terthat of the Dominican, St. Catherine rible quarrel at an end. Her hold of Siena. The way in which this new could never have been so strong had "Life" of her absorbs one, seeming she not suffered herself. There were to transmit her force and charm, is few spiritual torments she did not the best proof of the author's excel- know, for doubt, despair, awful imaglence. It would, indeed, be hard to inings attacked her at intervals all her find an historical biography better life, and more especially in the early done. The writer sets before us a years of her vocation. Yet when all picture, clear, candid, and delicate, of is said, her power remains a mystery. the Saint and of her day; and to She must have been what is called pioneer men lucidly through the Siena "electric,” possessed of an abnormal of the fourteenth century is in itself vitality-of that strength which enno mean exploit. To many Catherine abled her to nurse the plague-stricken Benincasa, the dyer's daughter, born city and even to cure her colleague. in 1348, is the most attractive Saint Raimondo. When he fell at her feet, in the calendar. She was gay and lov- a victim of the pest, she held his head ing as well as austere; she was pitiless between her hands and put him into to herself, but reproached herself for a deep sleep which lasted twenty-four demanding too much, spiritually, from hours and left him whole. A statesothers. She was also a visionary with woman she never was, because, as her biographer says, all her decisions were two of her loving followers, when they directed by her dream of an ideal wrote to each other years after her Church; all things judged in its light. death. Her triumphant bringing back of the Should we be thankful to live when Pope (Gregory XI.) from Avignon to we do? Not the least interesting part Rome was the short-sighted action of of Mr. Coulton's "From St. Francis to a visionary, bearing faction and misery Dante" is its conclusion. He pits the in its train; while her wonderful sway faith of the Middle Ages against the over Gregory and his stormy successor, faith of to-day, and his verdict is in faUrban VI., both of whom depended vor of to-day. “Imagination staggers," on the counsels of this unlettered girl, he says, “at the moral gulf that yawns was the personal sway of a woman; between that age and ours." He dwells and she was quite unable to effect her upon the false idealization of the early one desire, the reform of the Church. centuries which has long prevailed; he When Urban summoned her to his side sums up the speedy degeneration of in Rome, she came, against her will, the Friars-the growth of the fatal broken in body, suffering, yet un- fallacy that faith consists in outward daunted-only to see what she most manifestations. We at least know dreaded, the beginning of the great that faith is only concerned with "the schism and the setting up of an anti- inward workings of the heart." And Pope; only to die on her plank-bed, so, he ends, we need not be pessimists. with the knowledge that her life's aims We are nearer to the Christian spirit were defeated. “In the holy memory" than medieval people priests or laywas the form of signature adopted by men.
Lord Randolph Churchill ended his covering the bills along the northern political career because he had "for- and southern boundaries of the City, gotten Goschen." The Progressive and spreading their conquests over the Party experienced its first defeat in quiet fields beyond. They are the peLondon because it had forgotten the culiar product of England and AmerMiddle Classes. It recognized, indeed, ica; and their opinions and ideals are and estimated not unfairly, the strength worthy of careful study. It is a life of the rich, the Professional Classes, of Security; a life of Sedentary occupaand the bourgeoisie. These three tion; a life of Respectability; and these classes are prominent factors in the three qualities give the key to its spemodern European polity. But it had for cial characteristics. It is engaged in all gotten the dimensions and latent power its working hours in small, crowded ofof that enormous suburban people fices, under artificial light, doing imwhich are practically the product of the mense sums, adding up other men's acpast half-century, and have so greatly counts, writing other men's letters. increased, even within the last decade. Its male population is sucked into the They are the creations not of the in- City at daybreak, and scattered again dustrial, but of the commercial and as darkness falls. Here are the miles business activities of London. They and miles of the little red houses in form a homogeneous civilization-de- the little silent streets, in number defytached, self-centred, unostentatious- ing imagination, each with its pleasant drawing-room, its bow window, its lit- to the demands of its leader, and even tle front garden, its high-sounding title a House of Lords afraid of it, fills him -"Acacia Villa,” or “Camperdown with profound disgust. The vision of Lodge”-attesting unconquered human a Keir Hardie in the cartoons-with aspiration. There are many little in- red tie and defiant beard and cloth terests beyond the working hours: here cap, and fierce, unquenched thirst a little green house filled with chrysan- for Middle Class property--bas become themums, there a tiny grass patch an image of Labor Triumphant, which with bordering flowers; there a chicken- haunts his waking hours. He has dithouse, here a tennis lawn. The women, ficulty with the plumber; his wife is with their own domestic servants, now harassed by the indifference or insoso difficult to get, and so exacting when lence of the domestic servant. From found, find time hang rather heavy on a blend of these two he has constructed their hands. But there are excursions in imagination the image of Democracy to shopping centres in the West End, -a loud-voiced, independent, arrogant and pious sociabilities, and the occa- figure, with a thirst for drink and imsional theatre, and the interests of perfect standards of decency, and a home. The children are jolly, well- determination to be supported at somefed, intelligent English children; full of one else's expense. Every day, swung curiosity, at least in the earlier years. high upon embankments or buried deep Some of them have real gifts of intel- in tubes underground, he hurries lect and artistic skill, receiving in the through the region where the creature suburban secondary schools the best lives. He gazes darkly from his pleas. education which the world is giving ant hill villa upon the huge and smoky to-day. You may see the whole sub- area of tumbled tenements which urbs in August transported to the more stretches at his feet. He is dimly disgenteel of the Southern watering trustful of the forces fermenting in places; the father, perhaps, a little this uncouth laboratory. Every day he bored; the mother perplexed with the anticipates the boiling over of the difficulty of cramped lodgings and ex- cauldron. He would never be surtortionate prices. But the children are prised to find the crowd behind the in a magic world, crowding the sea- red flag, surging up his little pleassbore, full of the elements of delight ant pathways, tearing down the and happy laughter.
railings, trampling the little garden; The rich despise the Working People; the “letting in of the jungle" upon the Middle Classes fear them. Fear, the little patch of fertile ground which stimulated by every artifice of a clever has been redeemed from the wildercampaign, is the strong motive power ness. And, whatever the future, the behind this present uprising. In fever- present he finds sufficiently intolerable. ish hordes, the suburbs have swarmed The people on the hill are heavily to the polling booth to vote against taxed (as he thinks) in order that the a truculent Proletariat. The Middle people of the plain may enjoy good eduClass elector has become irritated and cation, cheap trams, parks and playindignant against working-class legis- grounds; even (as in the frantic vision lation. He is tired of the plaint of of one newspaper) that they may be the unemployed and the insistent cry taught Socialism in Sunday-schools ing of the poor. The spectacle of a with parodies of remembered hymns. Labor Party triumphant in the House And the tases thus extorted—this, perof Commons, with a majority of mem- haps, is the heart of the complaintbers of Parliament apparently obedient are all going to make his own life