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worst person in the world to confide a secret to; and if any charge against any person was mentioned to him, it was probably the first communication he made to the person in question. His vanity was excessive-unless it may with greater propriety be called by a softer name; a milder term, and perhaps a juster, would be, his love of fame. He was exorbitantly desirous of being the sole object of interest; whether in the circle in which he was living, or in the wider sphere of the world, he could bear no rival; he could not tolerate the person who attracted more attention than himself; he instantly became animated with a bitter jealousy, and hated, for the time, every greater or more celebrated man than himself. It was dangerous for his friends to rise in the world; if they valued their own fame more than his friendship, he hated them. It cannot be said that he was vain of any talent, accomplishment, or other quality in particular; it was neither more nor less than a morbid and voracious appetite for fame, admiration, and public applause; proportionably he dreaded the public censure; and though, from irritation and spite, and sometimes through design, he acted in some respects as if he despised the opinion of the world, no man was ever more alive to it.' He hated scandal and tittle-tattle-loved the manly straightforward course; he would harbour no doubts, and never live with another with suspicions in his bosom-out came the acensation, and he called upon the individual to stand clear, or be ashamed of himself. He detested a lie-nothing enraged him so much as a lie; he was by temper and education excessively irritable, and a lie completely unchained him-his indignation knew no bounds. He had considerable tact in detecting untruth-he would smell it out almost instinctively; he avoided the timid driveller, and generally chose his companions among the lovers and practisers of sincerity and candour. At times he was exressively given to drinking. In his passage from Genoa to Cephalonia, he spent the principal part of the time in drinking with the captain of the vessel. He could bear an immense quantity of liquor without intoxication, and was by no means particular either in the nature or in the order of the fluids he imbibed. He was by no means a drinker constantly, or, in other words, a drunkard, and could indeed be as abstemious as any body; but when his passion blew that way, he drank, as he did everything else, to excess. He was very difficult to live with. He was capricious, full of humours, apt to be offended, and wilful. When Mr Hobhouse and he travelled in Greece, they were generally a mile asunder; and though some of his friends lived with him of and on a long time, it was not without serious trials of temper, patience, and affection. In travelling, he was an odd mixture of indolence and activity; it was scarcely possible to get him away from a place under six months, and very difficult to keep bim longer. The deformity of bis foot constantly preyed upon his mind and soured his temper. With respect to Lady Byron, her image appeared to be rooted in his mind. She had wounded his pride by having refused his first offer of marriage, and by having resisted all his efforts to compel her again to yield to his dominion. Had Lady Byron been submissive-could she have stooped to become a caressing slave-she might have governed her lord and master. But no; she had a mind too great, and was too much of an Englishwoman to bow so low. These contrarieties set Lord Byron's heart on fire, roused all his passions, gave birth, no doubt, to many of his sublimest thoughts, and impelled him impetuously forward in his zig-zag career. Most persons assume a virtuous character; his ambition, on the contrary, was to make the world imagine that he was a sort of Satan. His mind was like a volcano, full of fire and wealth, sometimes calm, often dazzling and playful, but ever threatening. It ran swift as the lightning from one subject to another, and occasionally burst forth in passionate throes of intellect, arly allied to madness. Colonel Leicester Stanhope, who distinguished himself by his exertions in the cause of Grecian liberty, and whose words have been just now partly quoted, states that, Lord Byron's apartments being
immediately above his own, he sometimes heard him in the dead of night, and was frequently startled from his sleep by the thunders of his voice, either raging with anger or roaring with laughter, rousing friends, servants, and, indeed, all the inmates of the dwelling, from their repose. He was dreadfully alarmed at the idea of going mad, which he predicted would be his sad destiny.' 'There was one act,' said Byron to Captain Medwin relative to Lady Byron, there was one act of which I might justly have complained, and which was unworthy of any one but such a confidant (as Mrs Charlmont, whom he considered to have poisoned her mind); I allude to the breaking open of my writing-desk. A book was found in it that did not do much credit to my taste in literature, and some letters. The use that was made of the latter was most unjustifiable.'
On one occasion, also, according to his conversations with Captain Medwin, when he had shut himself up in a dark street in London, that he might bring out some piece of authorship, and had refused to see any one till it was finished, he was surprised when two individuals-a doctor and a lawyer-almost forced themselves into his room, being employed by interested persons to provide proofs of bis insanity. This certainly was calculated to fire his bosom with indignation. But still it may be said, and certainly not without cause, why did not the erratic bard honour with his presence his own home for such a purpose? 'You ask,' said he to Captain Medwin, if Lady Byron was ever in love with me. I have answered that question already: No! I was the fashion when she first came out. I had the character of being a great rake, and was a great dandy-both of which young ladies like. She married me from vanity and the hope of reclaiming and fixing me. She was a spoiled child, and naturally of a jealous disposition; and this was increased by the infernal machinations of those in her confidence. She was easily made the dupe of the designing, and thought her knowledge of mankind infallible. She wrote pages on pages about my character, but it was as unlike as possible.'
One evening he declined all general conversation or amusement with Captain Medwin, without assigning any reason-hardly spoke a word; and it was evident that something weighed heavily on his mind. There was a sacredness,' says the captain, in his melancholy, that I dared not interrupt. At length he said, "This is Ada's (his daughter's) birth-day, and might have been the happiest day of my life. As it is. He stopped, seemingly ashamed of having betrayed his feelings. He tried in vain to rally his feelings by turning the conversation, but he created a laugh in which he could not join, and soon relapsed into his former reverie.'
His death was most melancholy, and on his part most unexpected-probably unprepared for. His illness, according to the statement of Fletcher, who had been his servant during more than twenty years, began with something like a slow fever. He had been out riding; got wet; a cold which had been hanging about him more or less for a considerable time previously was increased; complained of pains in his bones and headache; but still went out next day. His illness increased; could sleep none, and eat as little; medical men were sent for-who thought there was no danger, and hoped all would be well with him in a few days; continued to get worse. They tell me,' said his lordship,' that it is only a common cold, which I have had a thousand times,' and expressed the idea that the nature of his disease was not understood. He lived during eight days with scarcely any food; was bled: blood of a most inflamed appearance; still considered out of danger; was again bled twice on the same day; fainting fits followed. Again and again he said to his servant, I cannot sleep, and you well know I have not been able to sleep for more than a week ;' and he added, 'I know that a man can only be a certain time without sleep, and then he must go mad, without any one being able to save him.' Some short time afterwards he said, 'I now begin to think I am seriously ill;' and, lest he should be taken off suddenly,'
gave some directions to be observed after his decease. You will be provided for,' he said to his servant. 'Oh, my poor child! my dear Ada! My God, could I but have seen her!-Give her my blessing; and my dear sister Augusta and her children; and you will go to Lady Byron and say-Tell her everything-you are friends with her!' His lordship appeared to be greatly affected at this moment. His voice failed him; he could only repeat a few words at a time, such as, 'My wife! my child! my sister! You know all-you must say all-you know my wishes.' The last words he said were, 'I must sleep now.' 'When I saw my master,' said the servant after Lord Byron's death-when I saw my master open his eyes and then shut them, but without showing any symptom of pain, or moving hand or foot, I exclaimed, 'I fear his lordship is gone! The doctors felt his pulse, and said, 'You are right-he is gone!''
THIS handsome little volume is another contribution from a Glasgow bard to that numerous family of minors which preserve to Scotland her name of 'land of song and story.' Mr Park, if he has not evidenced the highest poetic talent in this work, has shown wonderful industry and versatility; and if his ideality is not so chaste as we could wish, it is at least vigorous and prolific. A rash, robust intellect is observable in all his songs. He is a very poetic pugilist at one moment dashing at some absurdity or other with hard satire and knocking it down as effectually as he can; at the next he is a gladiator, waving a lyrical sword, and rattling on a shield. He is now meltingly discoursing in the mellifluous language of love, and now acting a species of advertising buffoonery, in stringing together, in incongruous rhyme, the names of books. He is flying with the roe-deer over the hills and glens of his native land-soaring with the eagle that flashes its dark wing in the face of the sun-or bounding with the bold fisherman over the sea, in his light tiny bark. Ode, epigram, lyric, dramatic poetry, or Ossianic magniloquence, are all served up by this versatile son of the muses, in a somewhat unequal, but, at the same time, ample manner. We think Mr Park a little deficient in the suaviter in modo. Enthusiasm is an essential element of poetry, and this, it is easy to be seen, Mr Park has no lack of; but a fastidious taste is also indispensable to the man who wishes to deck his brow with Parnassian laurels, and to the acquirement of this our poet seems to pay little regard. Burns, whom Mr Park will acknowledge to be no mean authority, was most careful in the arrangement of his syllables, and his lyrics are now as much models of fine diction as they are of glowing fancy and fervid feeling. We do not admire this poet's vehement war-spirit. We are almost sick of hearing about war and its so-called 'glories;' and therefore trust soon to see Mr Park strike the harp to lays of a more gentle and peaceful character than he sometimes indulges in. Many of his pieces were public property long ago-living in the memories of the lovers of song, and permeating through society in beautiful tuneful harmonies. The following is a sweet little
'SONG FOR CHILDREN.
Hark! the Sabbath-bells are pealing,
Sweeter sing the birds this morning;
Let us, then, in heart uniting,
Hail this ever-blessed day,
Songs by ANDREW PARK. Glasgow: Thomas Murray.
The subjoined extract is also very fine in sentiment and execution.
'A secret is a latent thing,
Hid in the wreathes of an ocean-shell;
A little trembling, fluttering thing,
A secret is a modest thing,
Which all apparent show doth shun;
And dies if known to more than one.
But these do not the theme impart.' Another and we have done with the extracts which please us most, though perhaps they may not illustrate the happiest phases of Mr Park's mind.
'RUTH.-A SACRED SONG.
I shall a sharer be with thee!
Thy home shall be my loved abode;
And there shall I be buried too;"
Nor to return from following thee;
For where should I so happy be?'
In humorous writing our author is very happy. The quaint, dry drollery of his country finds no bad vehicle in his muse, although wit, we must confess, does not at all become him. Our Scottish capacities are not attuned to wit-we are not airy enough for it; there is about us too much of that solidity which Professor Johnson, by a careful analysis, has proved to reside in oatmeal. We cannot get above drollery; and even that is something requiring an effort, our forte being humour. Mr Park's humorous pieces, when his subject and vehicle are Scottish, are very excellent; but in trying to skirmish with an Irishman in the matter of wit, a Scotchman is putting himself in the way of being scotched. We had rather, then, for his own sake, that he had not written his 'Irish Beggar.' There are some things, besides, too sacred to be sported with, or made the subjects of jest and sarcastic animadversion. A dead man's conscientious deeds are of this number, and Scotchmen have hardly an excuse for the indulgence of such humours. Mr Park, if he were trying, could write pretty good imitations of several of the poets. The Anachreonetic lightness of Moore, the swelling lyrics of Campbell, the vehement poetic bursts of Scott, and the songs of our own era, seem to be familiar to him.
To those whose capacities have not yet gained mastery over the higher conceptions of poetic genius, this volume will be a welcome tribute. There is great sweetness pervading many of the pieces which it contains, and not the worst compositions in it are the complimentary letter of Charles Dickens to the author, and his own very excellent preface. We know that Mr Park, if spared, will write many more poems; we hope they will be sustained by the spirit of love, in a broad, universal sense; and in this way will he honour Scotia, land of song and story,' which he loves so well.
MANKIND, when we look to its individual members, is full of contradictions. Designed for social existence, and gifted with instincts which in that life alone can find their end and their enjoyment, man, nevertheless, has in all ages shown himself to be at the mercy of a stray gust to drive him from his proper sphere. Let but the breath of malignity blow upon him, or the cloud of adversity cover him, in bitterness or in hopelessness he will seek to hide himself from his fellows; he will turn from the scene where there are hands and hearts ready to lift him from his despondency, and demand his lost happiness from the barren solitude. Alas! the heart makes its own happiness, and he leaves its best aids behind. But what meets he in the solitude? Grief, too, can live in the desert. At best, the loneliness, perhaps grandeur, of the scene awes down the memory of his sorrow: but a thousand instincts and passions are within him, which find no vent in solitude, and which not to gratify is pain. These, then, must be rooted out. Say he succeeds: what then? He came to find happiness, and he only shuts out pain-to quench one sorrow, he closes a thousand springs of pleasure.
For man to withdraw himself from the world is in many respects unnatural-is in many respects to nullify the instincts which his Maker has given him to sweeten life. It is to repress that yearning for love which is so deeply implanted in some natures as to form the mainspring of action, the chief source of enjoyment; and which, in its due regulation, tends greatly to promote our moral welfare, and in its prudent gratification constitutes our highest arthly happiness. It is to deny ourselves the beneficial induence of good example, and to remove us from many an encouragement to good, and from the kind and sustaining sympathy of friendship, when struggling with the many trials of our earthly lot. Many have adopted anChentism to withdraw themselves from the evil that is in the world.' This is unsound reasoning. An anchorite who shuns all society, can unquestionably shun a part. He to whom the ties of blood are as nothing, to whom the traps of the desert yield all that he desires, may truly be able to avoid the company of those whose presence he deems burful. But again, he takes this step from a deep consciousness of the proneness to evil in his own heart. How fares be, then, in seclusion? External incitements to virtue and vice being withdrawn, the good and evil tendencies of Lis nature will develop themselves in their natural proportions. He has already declared the predominance of vil in the heart of fallen man; consequently evil, unless Counteracted, will be more present with him than good. He rejected the aids to virtue furnished by the counsel, example, and kind encouragement of good men in the world: *hat exists in solitude to supply their place?-So much r himself alone. But no one is made to live wholly to himself; man is designed to benefit his fellows, physically and morally, as far as he has power. How does the recase discharge this important end of his being? To confer physical benefits, he makes no pretension; in regard to the moral benefit of his example, he hides his light under
Some very learned and pious men have adopted anchorism, in order, by subduing all carnal passions, by mortiying the body by penance and fasting, to exalt the mental faculties to a loftier height than naturally they can actain; and, by shutting out all worldly interests, to detheir whole thoughts to God and divine things. Much f the previous reasoning would equally apply to this case; at in regard to it, we will only make two remarks. We ald suggest, in answer to the second motive here men ed-Would it not be more suitable for man to remain the sphere of life for which his all-wise Maker designed than to think to render his worship more acceptable wing after an opposite device of his own? In regard fasting, we not only think its tendency in many respects be, but we consider it might be beneficially adopted in any cases in ordinary life. Viewed in the light of an y penance, it is nothing; but its occasional observ
ance would not only strengthen habits of self denial, but also leave reason more unclouded, and the mind freer from the influence of the passions. But when the anchorite trusts to attain preternatural exaltation of spirit through an excess of penance, of fasting, and of vigil, he leans upon a broken reed; for when man seeks to raise himself above his nature, he too often sinks below it.
Is anchoritism, then, unmixedly bad-bad at all times and in all circumstances? No. There have been times in the world's history in which external events, and the spirit of the age, have imparted to anchoritism a virtue and efficacy not inherent in it. Such a combination of circumstances can only occur at long intervals-possibly may never occur again. No new gospel has still to appear on earth, and, yet in its cradle, struggle with the unbridled passions of a polluted world. But in any case, the example of the anchorite is ever to be regarded with distrust: he who embraces it for earthly happiness grasps a cloudhe who clings to it as to his soul's safety, may find himself the dupe of Satan's craftiest wile-he may be taking to his bosom a shape of hell. In that era of miracles and marvels, the first three centuries from the advent of the Messiah, there appeared one Simon Stylites-i. e., the column-stander-who, from religious motives, subjected himself with strange energy to this unnatural penance. Is he held up by the fathers as a model for imitation? On the contrary, his conduct seems to have been permitted only upon some extraordinary special grounds. Paganism has exhibited thousands of self-torturing devotees―the religion of Christ but one.
The leading classes of anchorites which history presents to us have chiefly had their origin in religious fanaticism, in mingled religion and philosophy, and in a devotion of self to the exaltation of religion. Religion, when duly felt, is the most powerful impeller to action of which human nature is susceptible; and here, accordingly, we find it entering as an important element into every form of anchori tism-a system of all others the most repugnant to man's nature, and some of the shapes of which, we make bold to say, no other motive could have induced man to adopt, or could have sustained him in their endurance. There is a fourth form of anchoritism, which springs more from disappointment and consequent misanthropy; but it is the least important of all, and arises from a pettier source. It is a phase of individual minds, not of classes: it is evervarying in spirit, in form, and in degree: its description would be a series of anecdotes, and we have but scant room for generalisation.
The earliest instances of solitary life occur among the old Hindoos; and among that imaginative and sensitive race it assumed the most singular and appalling form of any recorded in history. It was not solitary life-it was solitary torture. It had its source in their religious belief. They believed that the soul was an emanation from the Deity, and that its transmigration after death through different forms of inferior life was necessary to its purification from the sins done in the flesh. This transmigration was ever a painful idea to the Hindoo mind, and, if possible, to avoid it was the highest aim of their religion. The only way to attain this end, they considered, was by concentrating all the energies of the mind upon the thought of the Deity, by which means the soul became disengaged from its fleshly fetters, and in some mysterious manner, losing its individuality, became merged in the divine essence from which it had originally emanated. From this belief sprang the sect of the Yogis-if sect it may be called—in which each individual acted according to his own impulse, and independent of the others. Withdrawing into the wilderness, they there strove to work out the soul's emanci pation by the most fearful struggle with the flesh that ever man engaged in. Despite our increased knowledge of the wondrous flexibility of the human frame, and of the mighty powers that slumber concealed within it--especially the phenomena of trance, which modern science is now bcginning to unfold-any description of the Yogis' penance would fail to gain credence, if the facts were not so common, and the witnesses so numerous and unimpeachable,
that scepticism would be even a greater marvel than the facts themselves. Yogism existed in India from the earliest times, and its hermits attracted the notice of the Greeks in Alexander's army, who styled them Gymnosophists, from the nudity generally adopted by them. In this state they would sit sometimes for years in a single spot, in a state of abstraction from all the impressions and notions of sense, and suspension of all outward, and in part even of inward life, effected by the energy of a will tenaciously fixed and concentrated upon one point-the thought of the Deity. The Indian poet, Calidas, who flourished two thousand years ago, gives the following graphic and most impressive picture of one of these strange human phenomena. Indra's charioteer, in pointing out his way to King Dushmanta, says 'A little beyond the grove, where you see a pious Yogi, motionless as a pollard, holding his thick bushy hair, and fixing his eyes on the solar orb. Markhis body is half covered with a white ant's edifice of raised clay; the skin of a snake supplies the place of his sacerdotal thread, and part of it girds his loins; a number of knotty plants encircle and wound his neck; and surrounding birds' nests almost conceal his shoulders.'* Extraordinary and even fearful as this picture is, it must not be regarded as a creation of the fancy, or even as an exaggeration of poetry. Many of these singular beings are still to be met with in various parts of India, especially in the neighbourhood of the regular resorts of pilgrims, such as the stupendous rock-temples of Ellora, whither myriads of Hindoos repair from every quarter of the country. Even in recent times the severity of their penance has but little if at all decreased. In the beginning of last century, beneath the sacred banian trees at Surate, were seen several of these fanatics, who actually endured penances so terrible, that they will seem fabulous to the reader, and impossible of execution without the aid of a demon. Some were suspended under the armpits by a cord attached to a tree, the feet merely touching the ground, and the rest of the body quite bent. They continue in this posture for several years, without altering their position night or day. Others hold their arms straight up, so that in time callosities form under the armpits, and prevent their being lowered; others are seated, and only hold up their hands, without ever moving; some stand on one foot; and others are stretched on the ground, with their arms under their head, as if listening. In short, one sees here such extraordinary postures, that he has difficulty in believing his eyes, and not thinking it all a delusion. They remain all the year round, exposed to the rains, to the sunbeams, and to the stings of musquitoes and other insects, without driving them off. Their hair becomes extremely long, as also their nails. At this place there were other faquirs, who had the care of feeding them.' t
In no other country do we find examples of endurance at all comparable to those of the Hindoos. Their will seems indomitable; it compels the body to things most repugnant to its passions—and all this with a calmness and composure which to the stranger appears insensibility. Among the Yogis this energy of will was ever subservient to the dictates of religion; and some twenty centuries ago, when India was more thinly populated, and the country more in a state of nature-when refinement was less common, and fanaticism even more highly prized than now-the penances of these recluses seem, if possible, still more terrible. In the forest, in the desert, amid the ruined temples of their ancient gods-alone, voiceless, motionless, passionless from excess of suffering-day by day they gaze with undimmed eye upon the dazzling sun, and the stars by night find them ever the same; the dew falls, and they do not fever; reason totters, and they do not waver; life is outraged, and they do not die. Appalled by such a picture, the mind doubts in the face of the clearest testimony: it is from its impotency to conceive or to explain the phenomenon. In this magical intellectual self-exaltation,' as Schlegel says, the excessive concentration of the mind
* Sir W. Jones's translation of Sacontala.'
+ Voyage autour du Monde, de GEMELLI CARRERI; vol. iii., pp. 35-36 Paris, 1727.
upon one thought may induce not merely a figurative but a real intellectual self-annihilation-reason totter on her throne, and fanaticism end in madness. Such is the penance of the Yogis-calling forth our admiration by the energy of the self-martyrdom-exciting our pity for the ignorance from which it springs, and the vanity and the agony in which it results.
The next form of anchoritism which we shall notice is one which existed among the Mussulmans of the ninth and tenth centuries. This was Soufism. It proceeded neither from religion nor from philosophy, yet both these elements mingled in it. It was a rule of life adopted by a kind of monastic sect, and it counted among its members some of the Arabian school of philosophy. A singular resemblance exists between it and Yogism. In its originating idea, it is the same; in its aim, it is partially different; in its form, it is infinitely milder. Like the Yogi, the Soufi believed that the soul was an emanation from the Deity; like him, too, he believed that by fasting and prayer, and solitude, it could rise to the knowledge of truths which common humanity was incapable of conceiving; and that, by its entire concentration on the thought of God, it lost its individual consciousness and became absorbed in its divine source. This last stage among the Soufis was called the 'ecstasy.' This state was only transitory, and apparently could not be counted upon at all times-so much depended upon the favourable physical condition of the Soufi, and on the tranquillity of the passions and purity of the desires. Some of the more daring of the sect, however, maintained that in their case the soul was not merely brought into transient connection with the Divine Essence, but that it remained so permanently, absorbed as it were in the Godhead. But by the wiser and better part of the Soufis this was regarded as blasphemy. From the very | first,' says one of their number, the Soufis have such astonishing revelations that they are enabled while waking to see visions of angels and the souls of the prophets; they hear their voices, and receive their favours. Afterwards a transport exalts them beyond the mere perception of forms, to a degree which exceeds all expression, and concerning which we cannot speak without employing language that would seem blasphemous.'* This is the language of one of the most distinguished and the most moderate of the sect-the celebrated philosopher Algazali, the Arabian Descartes. He had been educated under a Soufi, and subsequently distinguished himself so highly as to be chosen professor of theology at Bagdad. Soutism was the goal to which his philosophy brought him; happy in this, that faith, though mixed with error, saved him at last from the cold scepticism embraced by the great philosophers of the past age, whose route was similar. After studying the doctrines of every sect of philosophers, and still finding no sure solution of the doubts that beset him, he last of all turned his attention to Soufism, to see if by the supernatural ecstasy, he might attain to that certainty of knowledge which was denied to the ordinary powers of the soul. He came to the conclusion that he could. But he long delayed the execution of his resolve; the ties of family, and the praises of the public who thronged to hear his lectures, induced him to put off from day to day. At last, one morning he was about to commence his lecture, his tongue was palsied-he was dumb. This seemed to him a divine punishment of his procrastination, and it preyed so much upon his spirits that the physicians declared that if he did not shake off the despondency his life would be the forfeit. He now no longer hesitated, and after distributing his wealth he retired into the deserts of Syria, among whose solitudes, by fasting and prayer, he strove to fit himself for experiencing the exaltation of the ecstacy. He was at length successful; but he preserves silence as to the higher portions of his experience, as of things not lawful to be divulged to common ears. Algazali, as appears from his writings and the course which his philosophy took, was possessed of great good sense and mo
Algazali, in M. Schmölder's Essai sur les Ecoles Philoso
| phiques chez les Arabes." Paris, 1842.
deration of thought. He was pious, and duly venerated the Deity; and the great aim of his studies was to establish a harmony between religion and philosophy. After two years spent in retirement, he again emerged into the world. He seems never to have been fitted for the heart-deadening life of the ascetic recluse; and the apology he makes for abandoning it, namely, the interests of his family, though all-powerful to human nature in general, is powerless against the rigid anchorite.
The third and last form of anchoritism to which we shall allude is to Christians the most interesting of all. It is that adopted by the early fathers, who, to keep themselves free from the corruptions of a profligate age, and to give a pattern of faith in action to the lifeless world of paganism, retired to the caves and solitude of the desert. Of these the most remarkable were the anchorites of the Thebais or Upper Egypt. No more impressive scene could have been chosen for their seclusion. The haunt of the fogi was indeed a desert, because no man dwelt there; but it was a wilderness of luxuriance-a desert where nature unseen robed herself in beauty-a solitary place' made musical by the singing of birds, and where the shadow of the feathery palm found a mirror in the waters of the wandering streamlet. Turn from this to gaze on the stern solitudes of Upper Egypt. Grandeur is there, and desolation. The place awes by its very stillness, by its sterility. Huge rocks rear their bare masses above a waste of sand, and blaze in the scorching sun-rays with a glare that no eye can stand. There is no life near, and around spreads the immensity of the desert. Here and there are rains of temples, of tombs, of immense necropolises quarries exhausted of porphyry, and become vast caverns. Such was the scene in which the early Christians sought oblivion of the world. What a strange spectacle, these solitudes peopled by religious enthusiasm! Say if the imagination conceives anything more impressive than that mute adoration of God in the silence and immensity of the desert: God everywhere, God always, without temples, without rites; God contemplated in a meditation which lasts all life, without interruption, without weariness, without satiety; incredible austerities, prodigious fasts, endless vigils-the flesh subdued in its passions-nay, even in its wants.'* Such was the spectacle presented to the pagan world; such was the contrast they exhibited to voluptuous Rome: we shall afterwards inquire if it were ', labour lost.
Among the fathers of the desert, St Antony was the most celebrated; he was their founder and their leader, and the influence of his example was so powerful, that at Lis death the number of recluses of both sexes, in the monasteries of Upper Egypt, amounted to seventy-six thousand. Every one has heard how St Antony was tempted, and in how many different forms. But what are these temptations of St Antony? Are they really apparitions of the evil spirit? Or are they only the thoughts which disturbed the Freast of the saint, and to which his excited imagination ave body and shape? When St Antony renounced his family and his patrimony, in order to become anchorite, the devil, it is said, tempted him first by regret at parting with his sister and with his fortune. St Antony is young, ardent; the devil tempts him with voluptuous visions;-he empts him also by fear. St Antony, alone in his grotto, sees it of a sudden full of wild beasts and venomous repPes-lions, tigers, dragons, serpents, fierce bulls-and all these seem ready to spring upon him. This kind of temptation belongs to the class of fears that beset children; but it sprung naturally from the kind of life led by these Anchorites. Alone in the recesses of a grotto, itself lost and alone amid the vast deserts, what wonder that their irit quailed at times, and that they felt those involuntary errors, the offspring of solitude and of night? Once the snl was shaken by fear, solitude would become insupJertable, and the recluse return to the world. This, they thought, was what the devil aimed at.
• Gerardin's Essais de Literature et de Morale, vol. ii. p. 25. Paris, 184).
This overheated fancy, this unnerving of the mind, is a necessary consequence, an inseparable evil, of the solitary life. St Antony, in effect, never doubts that the regrets for his family, the voluptuous visions, the terrors of the solitude and the night, are all the work of the evil spirit. Wont to wrestle with the powers of hell, he makes a discourse to his brethren to teach them the wiles and artifices of the demons. In it he observes that the demons accommodate their apparitions to the thoughts they find in us; but he never doubts for a moment the reality of these apparitions as external existences. The devil is ever near: he hears St Antony, but he cannot prevent him from speaking. He threatens to dry up the sea, and take the earth in his hand as a bird's nest-and he cannot hinder your pious exercises; he cannot even hinder me from speaking against him.' In another place he says: The devils assist at our meetings; they hear us, and will go tell through the earth what we have been saying against them.' The thing is clear: St Antony with the devil peoples and animates the desert: it is no longer an immensity void and sterile-it is a vast battle-field with the powers of evil.
Was all this austerity and seclusion, it may be asked, of any service to Christianity? In the circumstances of the times, we consider that it was. Let us look to the then state of the Roman world. Imperial Rome, still mistress of the world, was enamoured and enslaved by that strange and excessive voluptuousness in whose arms she finished her decline. The flesh reigned there supreme. In the desert, the flesh was contemned and trodden under foot. The austerities of the anchorites were not superfluous: nothing less would have sufficed to expiate the sensuality of the voluptuaries of Italy-to overcome its contagious power-to impart to the world a higher and a nobler aim.
In another respect the example of the hermit fathers did service to the infant church. În the second and third centuries, the Roman world-in this respect too closely resembled by our own-displayed great knowledge and ability; it reasoned, it debated with exquisite skill and subtlety. But it created nothing. All its systems, political and religious-all its conceptions-all its works, were stamped with the sign of abortion. As long as speaking or writing sufficed, they flourished; when the moment for action came, they fell to the ground. Look at the impotence of their Stoic philosophers to effect anything-at the powerlessness of the religious systems then attempted to be introduced-at the creed and false miracles of Apollonius of Thyanes-the worship of the Persian sun-god Mithras, and of the Egyptian Isis. For a brief season they dazzled as novelties, and then died out. The age was deficient in character; and it is from character that action springs-not from intellect. Double your intelligence and your knowledge, and you will still effect nothing, if there is not character-that is to say, the force that acts and creates. Whence came in the Roman world this want of action and of character? From want of faith. To act is to risk; and for one to risk, he must believe. Rome, believing nothing, risked nothing; what, then, could it create?
It was in this effete Roman world that Christianity appeared; and from the first it marked its character-it acted. Not only had it apostles and learned men; but it had martyrs. Ever alongside of the intelligence which persuades by words, is to be seen the action which persuades by example. It was St Antony and his disciples who kept up this action in the church, and by this they did it most important service. The sacrifice of fortune and of life to a religion is a bad argument to a philosopher; but to the people it is everything. Among the recluses of the Thebaïs, they saw faith developed in action, and ennobled by self-devotion, and they yielded to its ascendency.
An event soon occurred which showed the utility of the pious austerities of the desert, and the influence of the anchorites over the minds of the people. St Athanasius entered the lists with the Arian heretics: he disputed with
* See Œuvres de Saint Athanase.'