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Below this “middle” dwelling, between Aysgarth and Masham, there has come in from Coverdale the little stream that gave its name to Coverham Abbey and to Miles Coverdale, the forerunner of our modern “Revisers.”
And again, a little lower, at the point where Wensleydale proper is said to end, the monks of Jervaulx watered their famous horses at the Yore
Thenceforth the valley widens and the hills subside, but still the wooded banks of Clifton and the purple of the more distant Swinton Moors lend fresh beauties to its course, and far away beyond Masham, and Tanfield, and Norton-Conyers, our
Ripon that we must pause, but at Jervaulx. There we shall find yet one more of the Cistercian houses of Yorkshire—one more witness to the vast wealth, and toil, and skill that Yorkshiremen once lavished on efforts and ideals which even history has almost learnt to forget.
There is a curious book published at Dijon, under the title of Les Monuments Primitifs de la Règle Cistercienne. These Monuments consist, in fact, of the “Regula” of St. Benedict and the “Carta Caritatis," “ Consuetudines,” and “Kalendarium” of the Cistercian order. Like those other Monuments which, with the help of Mr. Brunet-Debaines, we have been considering, they have little meaning for the passing stranger; but, like them, they hold the key to a longlocked past, and will yield to seeing eyes and hearing ears true glimpses and a living voice. In book and building, in life and architecture, we shall be struck by the close linking of the domestic and the ecclesiastical; but here the resemblance ceases. The religious life—so taught the monks—demands the whole man and all his steps and phases to the grave and beyond it. Of a common and daily eating and drinking, and doing all to the glory of God; of a religion of the body which can ennoble even the “base necessities” of flesh and blood, they could not conceive ; nor could they reach to the full meaning of a labour which is prayer, and a suffering which is better still ; but they knew that a jealous God would have all or nothing, and they patiently made rules for those incidents of mortality from which they could not escape, minutely stamping with repression and contempt so much of man as there was no room for in their philosophy. In monastic architecture, on the contrary, all is seemly and noble. The mingling
of rules for vigils, or for vespers, with those for cooking and dining ; of instructions for periodical shaving and blood-letting with orders for extreme unction and masses for the dead—all this has its counterpart in the imperceptible transition from church and chapter-house to hall and lavatory, and the common use of the cloister as at once the vestibule to the church and the home of the monks. Between massive pillars and through deep-splayed doors we catch glimpses of stairs, of aumbreys, of the bookcase, or “armarium commune ” — the signs and symbols of the life of man ; and the solemn vaulting of aisle and cloister becomes half domestic as it leads on the sight to passages and nooks, and gleamings of a bold, intruding sun. But the contrast which is so marked in the book is altogether absent from the building. We do not pass from vaulted aisles to sheds and hovels. In stone halls, as seemly as the builders' art could make them, were the poor, hungry bodies fed and the weary limbs laid to sleep; the very kitchens were massive and picturesque, and wise design and honest work were not thought out of place in even humbler offices.
And this, which adds so greatly to the beauty and interest of monastic ruins, might easily lead us into hopelessly wrong imaginings of monkish life if we had not other records to check and guide us. From these we learn what coarse and humble fare was served from the vast kitchen to the noble hall, and what scanty and comfortless sleep was permitted in the imposing length of the well-built dormitory. Of the sleeping accommodation of the unreformed Benedictines we have the following description in the Rites of Durham :
“A faire large house, where all the monnks and the novices did lye, every monncke having a little chamber of wainscott, verie close, severall by themselves, and the wyndowes towardes the cloyster, every wyndowe serving for one chambere, by reasonne the particion betwixt every chamber was close wainscotted one from another, and in every of there wyndowes a deske to supporte there bookes for there studdie. In the west syde of the said dorter was the like chambers, and in like sort placed with their wyndowes and desks towards the Fermery and the water, the chambers being all well boarded under foute. The novices had theire chambers severall by himselfe in the south end of the said dorter, adjoyning to the foresaid chambers, having eight chambers on either side, every novice his chamber severall to himself, not so close nor so warme as the other chambers, nor having any light but what came in at the foreside of their chambers, being all close both above and on either side. In either end of the said Dorter was a foursquare stone, wherein was a dozen cressets wrought in either stone, being ever filled and supplied by the cooke as they needed to give light to the moncks and novices when they rose to their mattins at midnight and for there other necessarye uses."
But from this type the Cistercian dormitory must in many respects have diverged. In the first place,
they were not a literary order, and the special arrangements for books and desk may well have been dispensed with. But from No. 72 of the “Consuetudines” other differences may with certainty be inferred. The partitions of “wainscott," for instance, cannot have existed, since it is ordered that, “in dressing and undressing, they are to be careful and seemly, lest they should appear naked ;” and there is a further curious direction as to the precise manner in which they are to get into bed.1
As we stand thus among the ruins of Jervaulx, with the Dijon book in our hands for reference and comment, the abbot, prior, cellarius, portarius, sacrista, monks, lay brothers, hired servants, all become real to us : the white procession forms in the chapterhouse, or streams at night from the dimly-lighted dormitory into the solemn church, or in the cloisters we see brother washing the feet of brother or shaving his beard and tonsure,” or all together sit and wait for the welcome knocking by which the prior or his deputy summons them to the refectory.
1 “Nullus in lecto ascendat rectus; sed de sponda divertat pedes in ipsum lectum.”
? This last office was not to be performed without special invitation. The rule is so curious that I am tempted to quote it. (“Consuetudines,” lxxxv. “De Rasuris.”) “ Infra sex dies ante nativitatem domini, quinquagesimam, pascha, pentecosten, festum beate marie magdalene,