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whenever Francis came abroad. The wild falcon wheeled and fluttered round him. The leveret sought rather to attract than The half-frozen bees crawled to him in
to escape his notice. winter time to be fed.
A lamb followed him even into the city of Rome, and was playfully cherished there by Jacoba di Settesoli under the name of a Minor brother.
These natural incidents became, in the hands of his monkish biographers, so many miracles fit only for the nursery. Let us not, however, upbraid them. Without apology, as without doubt, M. Chavin de Malan, in the year 1845, and from the city of Paris, informs us, that when Francis addressed his feathered congregation they stretched out their necks to imbibe his precepts; that, at his bidding, the starlings ceased to chatter while he preached;-that, in fulfilment of his predictions, the naughty larks died miserably;-that the falcon announced to him in the mountains the hour of prayer, though with gentler voice and a tardier summons, when the saint was sick;-that Jacoba was aroused to her devotions by her lamb with severe punctuality;-that an ovicidal wolf, being rebuked by this ecclesiastical Orpheus for his carnivorous deeds, placed his paw in the hand of his monitor in pledge of his future good behaviour, and, like a wolf of honour, never more indulged himself in mutton. Yet M. Chavin de Malan is writing a learned, and an eloquent history of the monastic orders. Such be thy gods, O Oxford!
In common with all the great Thaumaturgists of the Church of Rome, Francis has abstained from recording his own prodigies. He was too honest and too lowly. No man could less be, to himself, the centre of his own thoughts. One central object occupied them all. He was a Pan-Christian. He saw the outer world not merely thronged with emblems, but instinct with the presence, of the Redeemer. The lamb he fondled was the Paschal sacrifice. The worm he guarded from injury, was 'the worm, and no man, the outcast of the people. The very stones (on which he never trod irreverently) were the chief corner-stone' of the prophet. The flowers, were the blossoms of the stem of Jesse, the 'perfume of which gladdens the whole earth.' The ox and the ass were his guests at a Christmas festival, which he gave in the forest not long before his death, and while they steadily ate the corn provided for them, processions of Minor brethren, and crowds of admiring spectators, listened to his discourses on the manger and the babe of Bethlehem, or joined with him in sacred carols on the nativity.
Among the Opuscula Sancti Francisci are four poems, in which the same mystic spirit expands itself gloriously. It must not, indeed, be concealed that the authenticity of these canticles
has been enveloped by the critics in a chilling cloud of scepticism. The controversy is not without its interest, but could be made intelligible within no narrow limits. Suffice it then to say, that both Tiraboschi and Ginguenè acknowledge without hesitation the poetical claims of the saint; and that M. Delecluse, after reviewing all the evidence with judicial impartiality and acumen, concludes that the general sense, and many of the particular expressions are his, though, in the lapse of so many ages, the style must have drifted far away from the original structure, into a form at once more modern and more ornate. In this qualified sense the following Canticum Solis' may be safely read as the work of the founder of the Franciscan order :-—
Altissimo omnipotente bon' Signore, tue son le laude, la gloria, lo honore, e ogni benedictione. A te solo se confanno, e nullo homo è degno de nominarti.
'Laudato sia Dio mio Signore con tutte le creature, specialmente messer lo Fratre Sole, il quale giorna e illumina noi per lui. E allo è bello e radiente con grande splendore; de te Signore porta significazione.
Laudato sia mio Signore, per Suora Luna e per le stelle; il quale in cielo le hai formate chiare e belle.
'Laudato sia mio Signore per Fratre Vento e per l'Aire e Nuvole e sereno e ogni tempo, per le quale, dai a tutte creature sustentamento. Laudato sia mio Signore per Suora Acqua, la quale è motto utile, e humile, e pretiosa, e casta.
Laudato sia mio Signore per Fratre Fuocho, per lo quale tu allumini la notte; e ello è bello, e jocondo, e robustissimo, e forte.
Laudato sia mio Signore per nostra Madre Terra, la quale ne sostenta, governa e produce diversi frutti, e caloriti fiori, e herbe.
Laudato sia mio Signore per quelli che perdonano per lo tue amore, e sosteneno infirmitade e tribulatione. Beati quelli che sostegneranno in pace, che de te Altissimo, seranno incoronati.'
Another stanza was added in his last illness, giving thanks for 'our sister the death of the body,' the last of this strange catalogue of his kindred. Protestant reserve and English gravity alike forbid any quotations of the canticles which follow. They belong to that anacreontic psalmody, in which Cupid prompts the worship of Psyche. Such a combination of the language of Paphos, with the chaste fervours of the sanctuary, can never be rendered tolerable to those who have been familiar from their childhood with the majestic composure of the Anglican liturgy, or with the solemn effusions of our Scottish church, even though recommended to them by the pathos of Thomas à Kempis, or by the tenderness of Fenelon.
Whoever shall undertake a collection of the facetiæ of Francis, may console hinself under the inevitable result, by remembering that he has failed only where Cicero and Bacon had failed before
him. In the tragi-comedy of life, the saint, in common with all other great men, occasionally assumed the buskin, though not so much to join in the dialogue as to keep up the by-play. His jocularities were of the kind usually distinguished as practical, and if not eminently ludicrous, were, at least, very pregnant jests. Behold him, to the unutterable amazement of his unwashed and half naked fraternity, strutting before them, on his return from Damietta, in a tunic of the finest texture, with a hood behind, fashionably reaching to his middle, and a broad and rich frill in front usurping the function of clerical bands:-his head tossed up towards the sky-his voice loud and imperious-and his gait like that of a dancing-master. What this strange pantomime might mean could be conjectured by none but brother Elia, whose unsubdued passion for dress had been indulged during the absence of the 'general minister,' and who now saw himself thus viliainously caricatured by the aid of his own finery. With his serge cloak, his sandals, and his cord, Francis resumed his wonted gravity, and the unlucky Exquisite was degraded on the spot from his charge as vicar-general. On the refusal, by another brother, of obedience to his chief, a grave was dug, the offender seated upright in it, and mould cast over him till it had covered his shoulders. Art thou dead?' exclaimed Francis to the head, which alone remained above ground. Completely,' replied the terrified monk. Arise, then,' rejoined the saint, go thy ways, and remember that the dead never resist any one. Let me have dead, not living followers.'
These gambols, however, were as unfrequent as they are uncouth. They were but gleams of mirth, passing rapidly across a mind far more often overcast by constitutional sadness. For though faith had reversed in him the natural springs of action, and revealed to him the cheat of life, and peopled his imagination with many bright and many awful forms, yet she was unattended by her usual handmaids, Peace and Hope. With a heart dead to selfish delights and absorbed in holy and benevolent affections, he possessed neither present serenity nor anticipated joy. Cheerless and unalluring is the image of Francis of Assisi; his figure gaunt and wasted, his countenance furrowed with care, his soul hurried from one excitement to another, incapable of study, incapable of repose, forming attachments but to learn their fragility, conquering difficulties but to prove the vanity of conquest, living but to consolidate his Order of Minor brethren, and yet haunted by constant forebodings of their rapid degeneracy. Under the pressure of such solicitudes and of premature disease, he indulged his natural melancholy, (his only self-indulgence,) and gave way to tears till his eyesight had almost wholly failed him.
To his wondering disciples, these natural results of low diet, scanty dress, and ceaseless fatigue on such a temperament, appeared as so many prodigies of grace. But the admiration was not reciprocal. He saw, and vehemently reproved their faults. Which of them should be the greatest, was debated among the Minor brethren, as once among a more illustrious fraternity; and, in imitation of him who washed the feet of the aspiring fishermen of Galilee, Francis abdicated the government of the Order, and became himself nothing more than a Minor brother. Which of them should gather in the greatest number of female proselytes, and superintend their convents, was another competition which he watched with yet severer anxiety. His own abduction of Clara from her father's house, he had learned to regard as a sublime departure from rules which other zealots would do well to observe. 'Alas!' he exclaimed at the moment when God forbade us 'wives, Satan has, I fear, given us sisters.' Which of them would build the most splendid monasteries, was yet another rivalry in which he foresaw their approaching decline. 'Now,' ' he said, 'it is who shall erect the finest religious edifices. The time is coming when others of us shall build mansions fit for 'the great and noble of the earth. Rich and beautiful will be 'the dress of those architects! Well! if our brethren may but escape mortal sin, let us be satisfied.' Which of them should
first win the favour of ecclesiastical patrons, was an enquiry which their protector, Ugolino, had suggested; but the rising ambition was energetically denounced by their prophet Francis, in fervent and prophetic warnings which may be read among his yet extant predictions.
Saints and Satirists, of a day but little remote from his own, emulate each other in recording the accomplishment of these dark forebodings. At the distance of but thirty years from the death of the founder, we find Bonaventura, the greatest of his. successors in the government of the Order, thus addressing his provincial ministers: The indolence of our brethren is laying open the path to every vice. They are immersed in carnal 'repose. They roam up and down every where, burthening every 'place to which they come. So importunate are their demands, 'and such their rapacity, that it has become no less terrible to fall in with them than with so many robbers. So sumptuous is the structure of their magnificent buildings as to bring us all into discredit. So frequently are they involved in those 'culpable intimacies which our rule prohibits, that suspicion, 'scandal, and reproach have been excited against us.' Listen again to the ardent admirer of Francis in the 22d book of the Paradiso :
So soft is flesh of mortals, that on earth
Than while an oak may bring its fruit to birth.
Or silver, I built mine by prayer and fast ;-
If thou reflect how each began, then view
To what an end doth such beginning lead,
The Franciscan Order has, however, not only survived the denunciations of Bonaventura and of Dante-the banter of Erasmus-the broader scoffs of The Letters of some Obscure Men' the invectives of Wicliff and Luther-the taunts of Milton-the contemptuous equity of Bayle-and the eloquence, the wit, the scorn, and the resentment of half the pens of Europe; but has outlived the egregious crimes and follies of its own degenerate sons, and after six centuries still lives and flourishes, a boast of the Papal, and a problem for the Protestant world. What is the principle of this protracted vitality? Whence the buoyancy, which, amidst so many storms and wrecks, has so long sustained the institute of the unlearned, half-crazy, fugitive from the counting-house at Assisi?
Not even the idolaters of his name ascribe to him any profound foresight, or intuitive genius, or bold originality of thought. The eloquence for which he was renowned was no ignited logic, but a burst of contagious emotion, guided by no art, fed by no stores of knowledge, and directed by no intellectual prowess; the voice of a herald still repeating the same impressive tidings, not the address of an orator subjugating at once the rational and the sensitive faculties of his audience. He was rather the compiler than the inventor of the Franciscan code; and as a legislator is famous for only two novelties - the vow of absolute poverty, which was made but to be broken; and the reconcilement of the religious with the secular state in his Order of Penitence; which died away with the feudal oppressions and the social exigencies which, at first, sustained and nourished it.
Considered only as a part of the general system of Monasticism, the success of the Franciscan rule is, however, readily explicable. Men become monks and women nuns, sometimes from vulgar motives such as fashion, the desire of mutual support, the wantof a maintenance, inaptitude for more active duties, satiety of the pleasures of life, or disgust at its disappointments, parental authority, family convenience, or the like ;-sometimes from