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were held hardly less sacred than those of the Scriptures, on which they were supposed (and not so wrongly either) to have been framed. Each man had food and raiment, shelter on earth, friends and counsellors, living trust in the continual care of Almighty God; and, blazing before his eyes, by day and night, the hope of everlasting glory beyond all poet's dreams. And what more would man have had? Thither they had fled out of cities, compared with which Paris is earnest and Gomorrha chaste, out of a rotten, infernal, dying world of tyrants and slaves, hypocrites and wantons, to ponder undisturbed on duty and on judgment, on death and eternity, heaven and hell; to find a common creed, a common interest, a common hope, common duties, pleasures, and sorrows.. True, they had many of them fled from the post where God had placed them, when they fled from man into the Thebaid waste . . . . What sort of post and what sort of an age they were, from which those old monks fled, we shall see, perhaps, before this tale is told out.
Thou art late, son,' said the abbot, steadfastly working away at his palm-basket, as Philammon approached.
'Fuel is scarce, and I was forced to go far.'
A monk should not answer till he is questioned. I did not ask the reason. Where didst thou find that wood ?'
Before the temple, far up the glen.'
'The temple! What didst thou see there?'
No answer. Pambo looked up with his keen black eye.
Thou hast entered it, and lusted after its abominations.'
'I-I did not enter; but I looked-'
And what didst thou see? Women?'
Philammon was silent.
Have I not bidden you never to look on the face of women? Are they not the first-fruits of the devil, the authors of all evil, the subtlest of all Satan's snares? Are they not accursed for ever, for the deceit of their first mother, by whom sin entered into the world? A woman
first opened the gates of hell; and, until this day, they are the portresses thereof. Unhappy boy!
what hast thou done?'
They were but painted on the walls.'
Ah!' said the abbot, as if sud denly relieved from a heavy burden. 'But how knewest thou them to be women, when thou hast never yet, unless thou liest-which I believe not of thee-seen the face of a daughter of Eve?'
'Perhaps - perhaps,' said Philammon, as if suddenly relieved by a new suggestion— perhaps they were only devils. They must have been, I think, for they were so very beautiful?'
Ah! how knowest thou that devils are beautiful ?'
'I was launching the boat, a week ago, with Father Aufugus; and on the bank, . . . not very near, there were two creatures. long hair, and striped all over the lower half of their bodies with black, and red, and yellow. . . and they were gathering flowers on the shore. Father Aufugus turned away; but I. . . . I could not help thinking them the most beautiful things that I had ever seen . . . so I asked him why he turned away; and he said, that those were the same sort of devils which tempted the blessed Anthony. Then I recollected having heard it read aloud, how Satan tempted Anthony in the shape of a beautiful And so . . . . and SO... those figures on the wall were very like, and I thought they might be
And the poor boy, who considered that he was making confession of a deadly and shameful sin, blushed scarlet, and stammered, and at last stopped.
And thou thoughtest them beautiful? Oh utter corruption of the flesh-oh subtilty of Satan! The Lord forgive thee, as I do, my poor child: henceforth thou goest not beyond the garden walls.'
Not beyond the walls! Impossible! I cannot! If thou wert not my father, I would say, I will not!-I must have liberty!-I must see for myself-I must judge for myself, what this world is of which you all talk so bitterly. I long for no pomps and vanities. I will
promise you this moment, if you will, never to re-enter a heathen temple-to hide my face in the dust whenever I approach a
But I must-I must see the world; I must see the great mother-church in Alexandria, and the patriarch, and his clergy. If they can serve God in the city, why not I? I could do more for God there than here. . . . . Not that I despise this work-not that I am ungrateful to you-oh, never, never that !-but İ pant for the battle. Let me go! I am not discontented with you, but with myself. I know that obedience is noble; but danger is nobler still. If you have seen the world, why should not I? If you have fled from it because you found it too evil to live in, why should not I, and return to you here of my own will, never to leave you? . . . . And yet Cyril and his clergy have not fled from
it . . . .
Desperately and breathlessly did Philammon drive this speech out of his inmost heart; and then waited, expecting the good abbot to strike him on the spot. If he had, the young man would have submitted patiently; so would any man, however venerable, in that monastery.
Why not? Duly, after long companionship, thought, and prayer, they had elected Pambo for their abbot-abba-father-the wisest, eldest-hearted and headed of them -if he was that, it was time that he should be obeyed. . . . . And obeyed he was, with a loyal, reasonable love, and yet with an implicit, soldier-like obedience, which many a king and conqueror might envy. Were they cowards and slaves? The Roman legionaries should be good judges on that point.
They used to say, that no armed barbarian, Goth or Vandal, Moor or Spaniard, was so terrible as the unarmed monk of the Thebaid.
Twice the old man lifted his staff to strike; twice he laid it down again; and then, slowly rising, left Philammon kneeling there, and moved away deliberately, and with eyes fixed on the ground, to the house of the brother Aufugus.
Every one in the Laura honoured Aufugus. There was a mystery about him, which heightened the charm of his surpassing sanctity, his child
like sweetness and humility. It was whispered-when the monks seldom and cautiously did whisper together in their lonely walks-that he had been once a great man; that he had come from a great city-perhaps from Rome itself. And the simple monks were proud to think that they had among them a man who had seen Rome. At least, Abbot Pambo respected him. He was never beaten; never even reproved -perhaps he never required it; but still it was the meed of all; and was not the abbot a little partial ? Yet, certainly, when Theophilus sent up a messenger from Alexandria, rousing every Laura with the news of the sack of Rome by Alaric, did not Pambo take him first to the cell of Aufugus, and sit there with him three whole hours in secret consultation, before he told the awful story to the rest of the brotherhood? And did not Aufugus himself give letters to the messenger, written with his own hand, containing, as was said, deep secrets of worldly policy, known only to himself? So, when the little lane of holy men, each peering stealthily over his plaiting-work from the door-way of his sandstone cell, saw the abbot, after his unwonted passion, leave the culprit kneeling, and take his way toward the sage's cell, they judged that something strange and delicate had befallen the common weal, and each wished, without envy, that he were as wise as the man whose counsel was to solve the difficulty.
For an hour or more the abbot remained there, talking earnestly and low; and then a solemn sound as of the two old men praying with sobs and tears; and every brother bowed his head, and whispered a hope that He whom they served might guide them for the good of the Laura, and of his Church, and of the great heathen world beyond; and still Philammon knelt motionless, awaiting his sentence; his heart filled-who can tell how? The heart knoweth its own bitterness, and a stranger intermeddleth not with its joy. So thought he as he knelt; and so think I, too, knowing that in the pettiest character there are unfathomable depths, which the poet, all-seeing though he may pre
tend to be, can never analyze, but must only dimly guess at, and still more dimly sketch them by the actions which they beget.
At last, deliberate, still, and slow as he went, Pambo returned, and scating himself within his cell, spoke
And the youngest said, Father, give me the portion of goods that falleth to my share. . . . And he took his journey into a far country, and there wasted his substance with riotous living. Thou shalt go, my son. But first come after me, and speak with Aufugus.'
Philammon, like every one else, loved Aufugus; and when the abbot retired and left the two alone together, he felt no dread or shame about unburthening his whole heart to him.... Long and passionately he spoke, in answer to the gentle questions of the old man, who, without the rigidity or pedantic solemnity of the monk, interrupted the youth, and let himself be interrupted in return, gracefully, genially, almost playfully. And yet there was a melancholy about his tone, as he answered to the youth's appeal
Tertullian, Origen, Cyprian-all these moved in the world; all these, and many more beside, whose names we honour, whose prayers we invoke, were learned in the wisdom of the heathen, and fought and laboured, unspotted, in the world; and why not I? Cyril, the patriarch, himself, was he not called from the caves of Nitria to sit on the throne of Alexandria!'
Slowly the old man lifted his hand, and putting back the thick locks of the kneeling youth, gazed, with soft pitying eyes, long and earnestly into his face.
'And thou wouldst see the world, poor fool? And thou wouldst see the world ?'
'I would convert the world!'
Thou must know it, first. And shall I tell thee what that world is like, which seems to thee so easy to convert? Here I sit, the poor unknown old monk, until I die, fasting and praying, if perhaps God will have mercy on my soul: but little thou knowest how I have seen it. Little thou knowest, or thou wouldst be well content to rest here till the end. I was Arsenius. . . . Ah! vain
VOL. XLV. NO. CCLXV.
old man that I am! Thou hast never heard that name, at which once queens would whisper and grow pale. Vanitas vanitatum! omnia vanitas! And yet he, at whose frown half the world trembles, has trembled himself at mine. I was the tutor of Honorius." The Emperor of Rome ?'
'Even so, my son, even so. There I saw the world which thou wouldst see. And what saw I? Even what thou wilt see. Eunuchs the tyrants of their own sovereigns. Bishops kissing the feet of parricides and harlots. Saints tearing saints in pieces for a word, while sinners tar them on to the unnatural fight. Liars thanked for lying, hypocrites rejoicing in their hypocrisy. The many sold and butchered for the malice, the caprice, the vanity of the few. The plunderers of the poor plundered in their turn by worse devourers than themselves. Every attempt at reform the parent of worse scandals; every mercy begetting fresh cruelties; every persecutor silenced, only to enable others to persecute him in their turn; every devil who is exorcised, returning with seven others worse than himself; falsehood and selfishness, spite and lust, confusion seven times confounded, Satan casting out Satan everywhere-from the emperor who wantons on his throne, to the slave who blasphemes beneath his fetters.' 'If Satan cast out Satan, his king. dom shall not stand.'
In the world to come. But in this world it shall stand and conquer, even worse and worse, until the end. These are the last days spoken of by the prophets, the beginning of woes such as never have been on the earth before.-On earth distress of nations with perplexity, men's hearts failing them for fear, and for the dread of those things which are coming on the earth. I have seen it long. Year after year I have watched them coming nearer and ever nearer in their course, like the whirling sandstorms of the desert, which sweep past the caravan, and past again, and yet overwhelm it after all-that black flood of the northern barbarians. I foretold it; I prayed against it; but, like Cassandra's of old, my prophecy and my prayers were alike unheard. My pupil spurned my warnings. The
lusts of youth, the intrigues of courtiers, were stronger than the warning voice of God; then I ceased to hope; I ceased to pray for the glorious city, for I knew that her sentence was gone forth; I saw her in the spirit, even as Saint John saw her in the Revelations, her, and her sins, and her ruin. And I fled secretly at night, and buried myself here in the desert, to await the end of the world. Night and day I pray the Lord to accomplish his elect, and to hasten his kingdom. Morning by morning I look up trembling, and yet in hope, for the sign of the Son of Man in heaven, when the sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the skies pass away like a scroll, and the fountains of the nether fire burst up around our feet, and the end of all shall come. And thou wouldst go into the world from which I fled ?'
If the harvest be at hand, the Lord needs labourers. If the times be awful, I should be doing awful things in them. Send me, and let that day find me, where I long to be, in the forefront of the battle of the Lord.'
The Lord's voice be obeyed! Thou shalt go. Here are letters to Cyril the patriarch. He will love thee for my sake: and for thine own sake, too, I trust. Thou goest of our free will as well as thine own. The abbot and I have watched thee long, knowing that the Lord had need of such as thee elsewhere. We did but prove thee, to see by thy readiness to obey, whether thou wert fit to rule. Go, and God be with thee. Covet no man's gold or silver. Neither eat flesh nor drink wine, but live as thou hast lived-a Nazarite of the Lord. Fear not the face of man; but look not on the face of woman. In an evil hour came they into the world, the mo
thers of all mischiefs which I have seen under the sun. Come; the abbot waits for us at the gate.'
With tears of surprise, joy, sorrow, almost of dread, Philammon hung back.
Nay- -come. Why shouldst thou break thy brethren's hearts and ours by many leave-takings? Bring from the storehouse a week's provision of dried dates and millet. The papyrus boat lies at the ferry; thou shalt descend in it. The Lord will replace it for us when we need it. Speak with no man on the river, except the monks of God. When thou hast gone five days' journey downward, ask for the mouth of the canal of Alexandria. Once in the city, any monk will guide thee to the archbishop. Send us news of thy welfare by some holy mouth. Come.'
Silently they paced together down the glen to the lonely beach of the great stream. Pambo was there already, his white hair glittering in the rising moon, as with slow, feeble arms he launched the light canoe. Philammon flung himself at the old men's feet, and besought, with many tears, their forgiveness and their blessing.
"We have nothing to forgive, Follow thou thine inward call. If it be of the flesh, it will avenge itself: if it be of the Spirit, who are we, that we should fight against God? Farewell.'
A few minutes more, and the youth and his canoe were lessening down the rapid stream in the golden summer twilight. Again a minute, and the swift southern night had fallen, and all was dark, but the cold glare of the moon on the river, and on the rock-faces, and on the two old men, as they knelt upon the beach, and with their heads upon each other's shoulders, like two children, sobbed and prayed together for the lost darling of their age.
EIGHTEEN HUNDRED AND FIFTY-ONE.
GOOD NIGHT, Eighteen Hun
dred and Fifty-one! Good night, once brilliant, but now decrepid Old Friend! Whether we are willing to let you go, is a question which neither our breeding nor our good will, to say nothing of other genial and social qualities, will permit us to touch upon at the moment of separation, even if we had not passed so long a time in your company as to have acquired a kind of household regard for you. We cannot snap established habits of familiarity without a slight recoil of the feelings; and many shadows must chase each other round the dial, before we shall become as intimate with your successor, of whose complexion and attributes we as yet know nothing, and whose very name, out of that affectionate custom we had contracted in our daily intercourse with you, we shall continue to confound with yours for days and weeks to come.
Besides, it is not so easy to convert a new acquaintance all at once into a close friend. One cannot take a stranger into one's house, and set him down to dinner in an offhand, family way, and run adrift into all one's old stories, and abandon oneself to the luxury and table-glory of a confidential gossip with a stranger, as if one had known him all one's life. We must have a little formality and ceremony with him at first, and observe that measure of prudence and reserve in the beginning which is necessary to beget respect at both sides in the long run. We must note him well, and see what he is like, and whether he is the sort of person we can warm into a friendship with, to whom we can open our hearts and thoughts, and admit to the core of our sympathies and affections. Above all, we must make him understand that we have drawn a few useful lessons from the experience of the past-that we are not to be imposed upon by shows and pageants and fine professions, as we used to be-and that he cannot throw us off our guard as some of his predecessors have done, much to our cost and suffering in divers ways. As the world grows
older, it ought to grow wiser; and hence, instead of giving credit in advance to the New Year for speculative benefits which may never be realized, we prefer looking back upon the actual advantages we have derived from the Old One, and considering how we may improve upon them in the future.
Therefore it is that we stand lingeringly upon the door-step, and cry, Good Night! to Eighteen Hundred and Fifty-one, as, having finished his work, and gathered his cloak of innumerous colours' about him, he goes out from amongst us. The hour of separation comes, and you are going for ever into darkness and oblivion, and we shall see you no more in that well-known configuration of Almanacks and Newspapers, Time-Tables and Ledgers, Proclamations, Gazettes and Epistles, Promissory Notes and Actions at Law, Playbills, Tax-papers, and Invitations to Dinner, or any of the other infinite formula to which for a twelvemonth past we have been accustomed to look for your signature. Your functions are over-your office is at an end-your lease is run out. An hour ago, you were the Age we lived in-you are now History. There is a homily in the Thirty-first of December worth most of the sermons that will be preached before it comes round again.
It is true that Eighteen Hundred and Fifty-one grew rather dark and morose latterly, and put on quite a different sort of aspect from that which it wore at first. We remember well, what a brightening up there was everywhere when it was coming, and what a joyous clatter of preparations heralded its approach-not
The clink of hammers closing rivets up, but clinking and hammering of a totally opposite character, such as was calculated, not to scare peaceful people from their honest slumbers, but to supply them with something grand and glorious and beautiful to dream about. In this way the Old Year came in upon us, stepping in music,' and bringing in its train the arts and sciences, the living poetry,