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which is so remarkable in those who die young, from extreme penance and wasting emotion. I have seen it in more than one religious. He had possessed, like myself, a great share of natural vivacity; but this spirit was almost subdued by austerities, far severer than I have ever practised. The second year of his noviciate was not yet ended when he sank beneath exquisite hardships and studies. The latter,' he said, 'he had loved too much,' as he saw my eye wander to the many volumes on the walls of the cell. He seemed to speak sadly, and I said he had no cause for gloom.
"Sadness is not sorrow, St. Ireneo,' he said; 'when we know the future will soon be bright, we can afford to be sad for a short time. I was naturally joyous and gay; but since I have been here I have loved sadness better. I did not want joy: mine has been a swift, a sublime passage. Next to my salvation (and if I sinned, St. Ireneo, it is here— O tell me) my intellect has been my glory. I cared not for the body; I spent the day and night, between the offices, with these volumes, and the thoughts-the high, the vast thoughts-they inspired.' I could not answer. After a pause, in which he seemed to be holding communion with himself, he spoke again; his fine and lustrous eyes were fixed on me. It is better to depart with the mind undecayed and majestic; it is better to render it up to God vigorous and beautiful, for it is his blessed gift; dearly I have loved him for it. St. Ireneo, the Parable of the Talents is for the intellect as well as the heart; and now its account will be required of me.' He never spoke again. I saw death come gently over his poor frame, and I wept bitterly beside him. Had I known earlier of such a spirit, to have held communion with it! Where, in the Camalduli, shall I find one like it? Believe me, my dear mother, the solitude of the mind is hard to bear. Shall he not be forgiven if its thoughts were at last too lofty in their flight? Several of the hermits, when they heard of his death, came to see him: they were elderly men, of calm and coarse features; they all spoke highly of him. Do not let this letter make you sad; my life is spared, that might have been taken like his, and then another would have written you of my death, as I have promised to write his parent of that of her son.
"As I returned to the convent the wind blew in cold and wild gusts, for the storm was rising. I looked back on the dreary rock, now covered with clouds; the hermitage was no longer visible; it will be indelible to me. What a history, what an ever-changing and exciting history is that of a powerful mind to itself! Before I left the side of the novice's bed an aged hermit put aside his woollen shirt to feel his heart, for he scarcely seemed to be dead; and the cilice of horse-hair he wore round his body was exposed. It was scarcely a body, but a skeleton covered with a skin, whose extreme whiteness his frightful austerities had not dimmed. I felt a reverence creeping over me while I gazed on it. Beautiful and majestic (they were his own words) was that mind! it sought not to be known beyond this dismal cell; it looked for no recompense save in eternity. O, my mother, his spirit was purer and nobler than mine I could not have lived, as he did, in the hermitage of St. Remualdo; even in the Camalduli, if I had been an obscure and undistinguished man, I should have been unhappy. Even now, were Sept.-VOL. LI. NO. CCI,
they to call me only simple Ireneo, and no longer Saint, which their kindness has added, it would disturb me. This thought distresses me; it must humble me also: it will do so, I know that it will. . . . I can write no more. Adieu!"
It is evident in his letters, that as years increase, though now only in the prime of life, the buoyant and elastic temper, the keen relish for the little innocent pleasures of conventual life, gives place by degrees to a greater seriousness, as well as depth of thought. The spirit, at this golden mean of its attainments, seems for a while to lose sight of its onward career, its haughty and hitherto successful claims. The scene above related struck deeper at the conscience than all the volumes of monastic reading. Poor Ireneo! had one of his former associates come to the convent to visit him, might he not have been struck with the change? The features, still full of sensibility and imagination, but marked with lines of suffering, loneliness, and much thought; the eye brilliant and restless, as in former times; but there was a nobleness of expression in the face, and at times a pleading look, which it never had in early youth; it seemed to say, "break not a bruised reed; yet I know that I shall overcome at the last." His parent received about this time a letter from the Superior of the Camalduli, to whom she had written entreatingly, wherein he gave a particular account of her son, mingled with many praises, which calmed the mother's anxiety, for she fancied he concealed much of the truth about his health and condition from her.
Although he shrank from the flattering offer of a Cure, the occasions of his preaching abroad were ever welcome. This employment had the strongest hold on his fancy and his heart: it led him into various parts of the country, both near and distant, through the rich fields and vales, by the flocks on the hill-side, by the hamlet beside the stream. On the sabbath morning, when Nature seems to put on her solemn and loveliest vestments; and every sound, whether of bell, or stream, or breeze, seems like a voice from afar, he sometimes went forth to pay his priestly visits previous to the service, to visit the home of the happy and the troubled, to share in many a kind sympathy, to hear the blessed voices of the mother and the child. The fame of his public addresses was justly earned; he had a sweet and earnest voice; his words were full of feeling, and characterised at times by a dreamy eloquence, that seemed to bear his thoughts away as on wings; for then he painted his own aspirings, bitterness of heart, wild hopes, and dear realities. How many a preacher loves thus to pourtray his own soul and life, till he is scarcely conscious of it! and in Irenée's vivid and faithful pictures the past lived again before the hearer's eyes, as a dream in which the events of years are distinctly gathered. But when he spoke of the future, of old age, of the tomb, of the everlasting, his imagination came like an angel, and threw a flood of glory over them. His brother said that he had heard from the vicinity that the popularity of his preaching was very great if so, his decided refusal of a charge became every year a sterner denial. Among his congregations were often the rich, the intelligent of both sexes; and when his discourses were finished, and he saw the tears, and heard the prayers of the people, and returned to his convent, it was perhaps his happiest moment.
The ensuing season had fewer happy moments: his health failed, and he could seldom quit the monastery. His father had been some time dead; and his family suffered a reverse of circumstances, through the imprudence of the widow, a woman of great sense and knowledge of the world, but betrayed by one passion, against which her son warned in vain. This is his last letter, in which he struggles with the only affection life now contained, at a time when it would have been ineffably welcome.
"You say, my mother, that you have made the tour of Italy, and that you are able to make it again. Do not think of it: let us think of the time when we shall be reunited together with my father and brother; but if you come into this country, you will hinder our eternal union. Could I see your face again! Your love in infancy to me was very great; but I entreat you not to take this journey. It is true that I am very ill life is very dear to me: it cannot be so long. My imagination, that was ever more powerful than my judgment, is now the master of my failing life; like the sun, its last hues are its most fearful and beautiful. It calls up things long past from the grave, and makes them testify against me. Your form seems to stand near my bed continually, and the pleading look you often turned upon me; it was the last you gave me, when you said, 'Eustache, will you not try, for my sake, to love the Countess?' A few moments after I quitted the ball-room. Farewell, my mother; think of me should I depart, your once little Eustache; your love to me is at the ending great as at the beginning; it has been greatly tried."
This illness was not fatal. After a severe struggle, he recovered, and is again able to resume his studies and his monastic duties, and to go forth, but more rarely, in his pastoral vocation; his restless spirit, bowed to the routine of a convent, still thirsts for excitement, and even in the Camalduli often richly "makes the food it feeds on." He has spoken in his letters of his great peace. In this he deceived himself: he mistook another sentiment or sensation for it. He might use the words of an eminent recluse to a hermit, who, at the door of his cell, exhorted him to be still and unmoved: "My peace is energy." Where the career of Irenée will pause, it is difficult to say: he will probably rise to be the Superior of the Camalduli, in which he is at present the most distinguished and remarkable man. But, when his hair is white, and the last love of his heart is gone down into the grave, will that heart beat cheerfully, happily, within a monastery? no more letters; and that is an awful life, that knows no letter to the world that is left; no tidings, no sorrows, no farewell even to tell, and none to hear!
CONFESSIONS AND OPINIONS OF RALPH RESTLESS.*
BY CAPTAIN MARRYAT, C.B.
En route, August, 1837.
THERE is a great art in packing property, and in it our profession are fortunately adepts. A midshipman, for instance, contrives to put everything at the bottom of his chest. No very easy matter to pack up and arrange a carriage-full of children, two birds, and a spaniel puppy-in all, twelve living beings with all their appendages, down to the birds and dogs' tails. As for packing up a dog, that is impossible; the best way is to pack it off. Canary birds travel very well in the carriage lamps, when they are not lighted, in the summer time; and I mention this as a hint to those who travel with such indispensable appendages. Independent of their being out of the way, their appearance behind the glass is a source of great amusement to those who are standing by where you change horses.
Stopped at St. Froud, and asked what was to be seen. Nothing here but churches and monks. One of the little girls, three years old, looked with avidity at the Virgin Mary, three feet high, in gold brocade. The old Verger observing this, led her nearer to it, ascribing her admiration probably to piety, when, to his horror, she screamed out, "Quel jolie poupée." Solomon says, "Out of the mouths of babes shall ye be taught wisdom." The old man dropped her hand, and looked as if he would have lighted the faggots had she been bound to the stake, as she, in his opinion, deserved.
The perseverance of Belgian beggars is most remarkable, and equally annoying. The best way is to take out your purse, and pretend to throw something over their heads; they turn back to look for it; and if you keep pointing farther off, you distance them. On the whole, I consider that it is much more advisable not to give to beggars, than to relieve them. Begging is demoralizing, and should be discountenanced in your own country. If children are brought up to whine, cry, and humiliate themselves as in Belgium, that feeling of pride and independence in early youth, which leads to industry in after life, is destroyed. And yet, the aged and infirm would appear to be proper objects of charity. In many cases, of course, they must be; but to prove how you may be deceived, I will state a circumstance which occurred to me some years ago.
I was driving up the road with a friend. He was one of the pleasantest and most honest men that nature ever moulded. His death was most extraordinary of a nervous temperament, ill health ended in aberration of intellect. At that time Lord Castlereagh had ended his life of over-excitement by suicide; the details in the newspapers were read by him, and he fancied that he was Lord Castlereagh. Acting precisely by the accounts recorded in the newspapers, he went through the same forms, and actually divided his carotid artery, using his penknife, as had done the unfortunate peer. Peace be with him! To proceed. I was driving in a gig, a distance of
* Continued from p, 482, No, cc.
about forty miles from town, on the Northern Road, when, at the bottom of a steep hill, we fell in with a group who were walking up it. It consisted of a venerable old man, with his grey locks falling down on his shoulders, dressed as a countryman, with a bundle on a stick over his shoulders; with him were a young man and woman, both heavily burdened, and five children of different sizes. The appearance of the old man was really patriarchal, and there was a placidity in his countenance which gave a very favourable impression. For a short time they continued breasting the hill on the pathway; when about one-third up, the old man crossed the road to us, as our horse was walking up, and taking off his hat, said, "Gentlemen, if not too great a liberty, may I ask how far it is to ?" mentioning a town about twelve miles off. We told him, and he replied, "That's a long way for old legs like mine, and young legs of tired children." He then informed us that they had lost their employment in the country, and that with his son and daughter, and their children, he had gone to town to procure work, but had been unsuccessful, and they were now on their return. "God's will be done," continued he, after his narrative," and thankful shall we be to find ourselves at our cottages again, although twelve miles is a weary bit of road, and I have but a few halfpence left, but that will buy a bit of bread for the poor children, and we must do as we can. Good morning, and thank'ye kindly, gentlemen."
Now there was no begging here, certainly, except by implication. The effect, however, of his narrative was to extract a crown out of our pockets, which was received with a shower of blessings on our heads. We drove off, observing how difficult it was to know how to select real objects of charity, and flattering ourselves that alms in this instance were worthily bestowed. My readers will agree with me, I have no doubt.
It so happened, that about ten days afterwards, I was driving on the Dover road, in the same gig, and in company with the same gentleman, when we came to the bottom of Shooter's Hill. Who should we fall in with, but the very same party, the venerable old man, the young people, and the children, trudging up the pathway. The same plan of proceeding was observed, for, although we recognised them immediately, it appeared that they did not recognise us. We allowed the old fellow to tell his tale, as before; it was just the same. He first took off his hat, and inquired the distance to ; and then entered into the same narrative, only changing the place of abode, and ending with his few halfpence to buy bread for the children. I let him finish, and then I did not, as before, give him a crown, but I gave him a cut across his face with the whip, which made him drop his bundle, put his hands up to it; and we left him, stamping with pain in the middle of the road, till we were out of sight. A young rogue I can easily pardon, but an old one, on the verge of the grave, is a proof of hardened villany, which admits of no extenuation. After giving him this cut direct, we never met again.
Too return to St. Froud.-In the last church we visited we had a scene. A woman was in the confessional; the priest, with a white handkerchief up to conceal his face and prevent what he said being overheard, attracted the attention of the children, who demanded an explanation. Children ask so many questions. "Do you think she has been very wicked? Will he forgive her ?" Before I could offer my opinion upon