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safely, until he reached the mansions of the blessed. And here we cannot help remarking that, graphic and precise as they are concerning the place of torment, the monks are altogether vague when they write of heaven. There is one passage, however, in this particular description, that deserves to be preserved:-"A ray of light, descending from God, lit up the whole country; and a sparkle of it settling upon his head and entering his body, the knight felt such a delicious sweetness pervade his heart and frame that he hardly knew whether he was alive or dead." Returning, he met the fifteen in the chapel, and was urged by them to depart quickly."The day is breaking," said they; and if the brethren find you not at the gate, they will conclude that you have been destroyed like so many others, and abandon you to your fate." To avert this catastrophe the knight made haste and reached the wicket just in time. The monks received him joyfully, and conducted him with thanksgiving to the altar. There he remained for another period of fifteen days, engaged in fervent prayer; and he left the priory only for a pilgrimage to the Holy Land.
the tale, was the knight Owen. This man sufferings that he witnessed. Thus he had rendered his youth infamous by loose passed through various appalling scenes to and violent living; but, awaking in time to that place concerning which Dante writes a fit sense of his wickedness, he sought a "All hope abandon ye who enter here." bishop, confessed, so far as in him lay made Thence he was led to a broad and noisome reparation, and entreated to be burdened river-spanned by a lofty, narrow, and slipwith a penance of suitable severity. Ac-pery bridge-" Al Sirat's arch" — which, cordingly the prelate, but with some reluc-in spite of opposing demons, he traversed tance, desired him to go to the infernal regions, as displayed in St. Patrick's Purgatory, and gave him a letter to facilitate his entrance. Received by the prior, he remained fifteen days in fasting, prayer, and flagellation, by way of preface to his undertaking. At the end of that time a solemn service, including the prayers for the dead, was recited. The monks then led the knight to the entrance of the cave, besprinkled him plentifully with holy water, loaded him with good wishes, and locked the wicket behind him. The knight crossed himself, and stepped boldly forward, like Christian through the Valley of the Shadow of Death. The day faded behind him as he went, until at length the passage opened upon a plain that stretched boundlessly through the dim twilight. Before him stood a small chapel -a roof supported by pillars; he entered, and seated himself. In a few minutes, fifteen men, robed in white, with newly-shaven crowns, marched in and saluted him in the name of the Lord. The leader then addressed him, and commended his resolution, but warned him that he would encounter much risk to soul and body. "The moment we leave you," said he, a multitude of unclean spirits will set upon you. They will threaten you, torment you, and leave no means untried to turn you back. But as you value your salvation here and hereafter, heed them not. Give way to them but for an instant, and you are irretrievably lost. Be firm, then, and cease not to invoke the name of the Lord. Thus are they to be overcome, and thus only." The fifteen then left him. The knight collected all his courage, and he had full need of it. A multitude of hideous demons thronged in. They threatened, they tempted, and finding him unshaken by these means, kindled a huge fire, flung him in, and dragged him up and down through the blaze with iron hooks. But he called vigorously on the name of the Lord, and the flames had no power to hurt him. Next they dragged him through a black wilderness to a region of woe and calamity. It was thronged with innumerable people, fastened face downwards to the ground with red-hot nails, and tortured by howling fiends. Again he was required to return. He refused, and the demons attempted to inflict upon him the
There were so many of these shrines, and superstition attached so much sanctity to the pilgrim who had visited the more famous of them, that a perpetual inducement was held out to vagrancy and pilgrimage to rise into a profession. An amusing rover was the professional pilgrim — and as shrewd as he was popular. Brimful of song and story, habituated to travel, and a sharer in many a wild adventure, there was no pleasanter companion than the palmer during the long winter evenings. His lore was adapted to suit all ages and every variety of taste. He could discourse as eloquently of love and beauty as of martyr and miracle; he could troll a lively ditty as well as a solemn psalm; and he could crack a joke as readily as he could quote a homily. He possessed quaint secrets, too, valuable to housewife and farmer, was an excellent judge of cattle, and a veritable clerk of the weather. And his knowledge of the latest fashions of tire and doublet, and the newest tricks at fence—to say nothing of current scandals - recommended him equally to the maidens and youths of the hamlet. He was skilful,
circled his sleepless pillow, appearing to his desperate sight in all the terrors of their last agonies, wearying his ear with their reproaches, and ceaselessly invoking vengeance on his head..
also, at compounding love-potions and infallible salves for broken heads, and was an adept in portent and palmistry. He was as welcome to the castle as to the cottage; and found as comfortable a corner by the abbey fire as in the chimney nook at the alehouse. One of the most astonishing features of And he was always secure of a refuge; for, the Middle Ages was their wandering assowhen his resources were exhausted in one ciations of penitents. Famines and pestiquarter all his stories told and all his at-lences were awfully frequent in those days, tractions ended—a stroll of ten or a dozen and destructive far beyond modern experimiles would place him within a new circle, ence. Every eight or ten years they came as willing to be amused and instructed as first dearth, and then the pest with the the last. Unless, indeed, some irrepressi- utmost regularity. And as the people were ble inclination rendered further flight indis- taught that these calamities were the manipensable. For these wanderers, with their festations of heavenly wrath provoked by practised tongues and ready wit, made way sinful indulgence, while they were accusonly too easily with the gentler sex, and tomed by long habit to resort to penance as very frequently the rosy daughter elected to a universal remedy, it was but natural that cast in her lot with the fascinating pilgrim. they should endeavour to arrest their raNor was that individual altogether useless.vages by a course of severe asceticism. He was the newspaper and the circulating During the continuance of these plagues, library of the day, besides being-uncon- therefore, penance became a mania, and sciously, indeed, and slowly, but neverthe- fraternities were established for its better less surely the disseminator of civiliza- practice. Thus every few years a vast mass tion. He made distant lands acquainted, of people would suddenly appear in motion and interchanged far and wide the ideas of from shrine to shrine, praying and mortifypeoples otherwise sundered. For he was ing as they went, and gathering recruits at obliged of necessity to traverse the whole every step. And after exciting universal extent of Christendom, since the principal interest, the band would dissolve as sudshrines those which no pilgrim could dis-denly as it had assembled. These compapense with visiting - lay at its four extremi-nies were very numerous, counted, indeed, ties. To this we owe, among other things, by hundreds; but every one of them had that strange jumble of myth and fable which its features strongly stamped with individuconstitutes the popular legends and super- ality. Some admitted only the poor, others stitions of the Middle Ages-those stories were limited to males, and one or two were wherein the doings of Djinn, Gnome, and Esar are so oddly interwoven that it is now well-nigh impossible to distinguish in any of them a distinct nationality. To this, too, we owe the universal prevalence of that legend which represents the favourite hero of every land, from Denmark to Dalmatia, restrained in magic slumber until the extremity of his country shall rouse him to a long career of triumph; for what is it but a form of that belief so long current in the East concerning the incarnation of Deity? Now and then a bona fide pilgrim - -one who really endeavoured to subdue the pangs of remorse, and to atone for enormous crimes by these wanderings-would appear along the routes, appalling all with whom he came in contact with his wretched aspect and still more miserable story. Such a one was that Count of Anjou the latter portion of whose life was one unending pilgrimage. The perpetrator of previously unheard-of atrocities-the murderer by every fearful means of all his nearest relatives, his brother heading the list-wherever he went he seemed to see his victims: they haunted his path, they interrupted his prayers, they
formed exclusively of children. Now and again, too, brotherhoods arose which opened their ranks to those only who professed peculiar opinions. The great majority, indeed, were free to all Christians without distinction of age, sex, rank, or opinion; but every one of them had some peculiarity of discipline that rendered it strikingly unique. While the greater number of these singular congregations excited a merely temporary interest, a few survived for years, and one or two of the more popular were reproduced again and again, down almost to our own time.
One day we write of the dawn of the fifteenth century. a countless multitude was seen descending the slopes of the Alps into Italy. Whence it came or how it had originated were mysteries. It might have sprung complete from the glaciers for all that could be told; and its spectral appearance by no means tended to diminish the universal amazement. A white shroud was wrapped, from forehead to heel, round every member of the host, and concealed them alike from their comrades and the outward world. Some paces in front of this living
avalanche stalked the leader, in similar attire, rearing, by way of banner, a lofty crucifix on his shoulder. Who or what he was none knew-name, country, and profession in all things he remains to this hour as much an enigma as the "man in the iron mask." Concerning one thing, however, there could be no mistake: for the time being he was a mighty power. His figure was commanding, his voice sonorous, and his eloquence persuasive exceedingly. Now the multitude paused to hear his impassioned declamation; and anon the march was resumed to the melody of hymns, which, pealing from ten thousand tongues, rolled through the woods and fields like thunder softened down to music, and exercised an irresistible power over the sympathies of the hearers. Grand as they are at all times, never were the "Dies Ira" and the "Stabat Mater" so expressive. As it was merely requisite to accompany this attractive band for a very limited period, in order to share the benefits that attached to its sanctity, it soon became very popular. Knights, nobles, and courtly dames thronged to swell its ranks, and a cardinal led the march from Florence to Rome. At length the leader excited the jealousy of the reigning Pope, was seized, and committed to the flames. Excommunication and civil enactments were levelled at his followers in all directions -the first Parliament of Henry IV. passing an Act against them-and the White Brethren dispersed for ever.
companied the disease from one end of the kingdom to the other. These freaks, like many others of the same period, and several of much later date, were always justified by bishops, anabaptists, and puritans, with Scriptural arguments.
In 1251 all France was dismayed by fearful news from Egypt. Its crusading army had been destroyed, and King Louis and such of his nobles as survived were captives in the hands of the infidel. At this juncture a Hungarian preacher made his appearance. He traversed the country in all directions, denouncing the abominable pride and luxury of the nobles as the cause of the disaster. "Such hands as theirs," he cried, never wrest the Holy Sepulchre from the grasp of the miscreants. That honour the Virgin reserves for the poor and the lowly. And here," he added, raising a hand kept always tightly clenched, "here I bear the summons, written by her own fingers, and earried down to me from heaven by an angel, which calls upon the ploughman and the shepherd to go forth and work the deliverance of the sacred soil." A hundred thousand of the lowest class soon gathered round his pennon. In the midst of such a mass the Hungarian waxed still bolder. Hitherto he had spared the clergy; but from that time forth his diatribes against sensuality fell far more frequently among them than among the nobles. And, assailing the system as well as the ministers-smiting full at the root as well as at the branches-he The autumn of 1316 saw something quite poured forth the most extravagant and levas strange. Louis Hutin declared war with elling doctrines. Nor was his the only voice Flanders, raised an army, and advanced tow- that indulged in these rude philippics. ards the frontiers. His march, however, Scores upon scores of his followers emulated was stayed by a succession of heavy rains, his example, mounted the stump in all quarwhich spoilt his stores and spread sickness ters, and cried just as fiercely and effectively through his ranks. Being thus compelled against their temporal and spiritual supeto return to the capital, the disease was riors. And their practices were just as miscommunicated by the troops to the citizens chievous as their precepts. They were reof Paris, and soon became terribly virulent. ligious and very ceremonious in their way; To propitiate the saints a series of proces- but neither their ethics nor their rites were sions was organized, and for several weeks exactly such as honesty could always approve the streets were paraded daily by an enor- of. They displayed, indeed, like many other mous throng. In front marched the eccle- fanatics and one or two reformers, a remarksiastics of the capital, plentifully provided able faculty for performing the works of with banners, crosses, relics, and all the Satan in the name of divinity. Some of other paraphernalia of superstition. Then them contracted very disorderly marriages, followed the court and its great officers. more of them dispensed with the ceremony And behind them trooped a long array of altogether, and the whole body, forsaking both sexes and every rank, "in puris natu- their occupations, lived and enjoyed themralibus;" while such of the populace as could selves at the expense of those poor misled not muster sufficient faith or impudence, as creatures who still remained in the gall of the case might be, to join the naked band, bitterness." The clergy were furious, and formed a zone around it, and added their well they might be; but they were altoportion to the universal prayer. Nor were gether powerless, for the strength of the these scenes confined to Paris-they ac-nobles was otherwise employed, and the
middle-classes, such of them at least as had appointment by knocking him on the head. suffered nothing from the Pastoureaux, had Another leader escaped to England with a no objection at all to see the vices of their small number of followers, and was torn to spiritual pastors and masters receive a lit- pieces by the people of Shoreham. Of the tle well-deserved castigation. One or two remainder, a good many escaped by resumof the priests ventured to attend the meet- ing their former employments. Enough, ings of the Pastoureaux, in the hope of be- however, were slaughtered and gibbeted to ing able to neutralize the effects of their in- sicken the travellers for many a month with flammatory harangues; but they had good their unburied carcasses. But the animating reason to regret their folly, for the moment spirit was not yet extinguished. It smoulthey were recognized they were set upon dered on for seventy years, and then, in 1329, and beaten without mercy. On the festival burst forth in even a fiercer flame. On this of St. Barnabas the Pastoureaux entered occasion, two apostate priests, taking up the Orleans, a city that regarded them with pe- text of the Hungarian, gathered similar culiar favour, in solemn procession. Hav- hordes around them. These mobs encamping circled the town with all the pomp and ed in the centre of France, helped themcircumstance in which such rabblements de- selves by force to whatever they wanted, and light, drums beating, colours flying, they sent out numerous missionaries to rouse all gathered in groups round their favourite or- their brethren to a similar course. Some ators. A scholar belonging to the univer- of these gentry being imprisoned by the ausity interrupted one of these spouters, and thorities of Paris, a large body of the Pasdenounced him to his face, and, what the toureaux marched on the capital, gained an speaker thought very much more about, to entrance, broke open the prisons, and rethe faces of his auditors, as "a liar, a rep- leased their deputies. Then directing their robate, a hypocrite, and a heretic." These course southward, wherever they came, they epithets, pretty as they were, could not stand hunted up and massacred the Jews, slaying comparison for an instant with those the them with such hideous tortures that 500 of Pastoureaux applied hourly to "the bloated these people—who with their families and bishops and something-or-other aristocracy." their property had sought refuge in the royal But such a trifling consideration as that could castle of Verdun - finding the fortress too not be expected to sway an excited mob, weak to defend them, actually flung their and so they set upon the student and tore children from the battlements, and then him to shreds in less than five minutes. slaughtered each other, in preference to fallThey next made a rush at the university, ing alive into the hands of the Pastoureaux. beat all the students that came in their way, But the course of these fanatics was nearly burnt the library, and massacred five-and-run. The Pope excommunicated them; twenty priests out of hand. For a few hours and, becoming involved in the marshes of they carried all before them, and mob law, Lignes-Mortes, they were there hemmed in with all its amenities, reigned supreme. by the troops until the greater portion of But a reaction soon set in. The Orleans them perished miserably by famine and disoutrage inflicted a death-blow on the gath- ease. Of the remainder, a very few were ering of the Pastoureaux. Respectability allowed to escape; but so many were hanged withdrew its patronage-in fact, became that "the trees were split with the weight positively and unequivocally hostile; and, of their bodies." appalled at their handiwork, the Pastoureaux retreated in haste to the fields, split up into In the summer of 1213 a boy was noticed factions, struck their tents, packed up their wandering from town to town in France. goods, and other people's too for this kind His hand was never stretched out for alms, of reformer delights much in spoiling the nor his voice subdued into the beggar's Egyptiansand departed in different di- whine. He belonged not to the tribe of varections. At first they maintained some-grant students, and still less to that of the thing like an orderly march, but their steps mountebank or the pecaroon. Neither did quickened by degrees, as the troops, which he carry either of those universal passports a vacillating government at last mustered courage to let loose, drew nearer and near
One body, headed by the Hungarian, made its way to Bourges. There the leader announced that, on a certain day, he would perform, not one, but many miracles! A great crowd gathered to witness the marvels, and, as the operator failed to keep his promise, they comforted themselves for the dis
the palmer's staff, or the gleeman's cithara. Unlike each and all of these, his mien was saintly and his conduct irreproachable. Wherever he went he chanted the words, "Lord Jesus, give us back the Holy Cross !" pausing only to indulge in fervent prayer. In a little time he was universally revered as the messenger of heaven, and happy was that house esteemed wherein he deigned to
centre of a writhing multitude. And the disjointed ravings of these paroxysms were generally regarded as prophetic. Nor did the mania depart with the vagabonds who brought it. Wherever the excitement had once fastened it never relaxed its hold. In vain was the axe plied on these enthusiasts and the gibbet loaded with their bodies. They disappeared only when Europe became satiated with their extravagance.
take up his lodging. But soon alarm began | annalists of the period- and with the doto permeate and deepen the awe with which ings of the revivalists in view it would be he was everywhere regarded. And truly scarcely fair to disbelieve all that they tell the effect of his example was appalling. us concerning these dancers - -no rank, no All at once a strange infatuation seized on profession, no place, was exempt from the all the boys of the same age. No sooner contagion. Wherever it found human life was his voice heard in any town or hamlet, and nerves, there it exercised dominion. than out they poured, mustered in his track, Everywhere the dancers became at will the and accompanied him blindly whithersoever it pleased him to direct his course. Bolts and bars were useless to restrain them; tears and prayers to turn them from their purpose. They hastened to quit father, mother, home, everything that was dearest, to follow this strange leader, and chant with him, "Lord Jesus, give us back the Holy Cross!" They came to him by twenties, by hundreds, by thousands. Every day added to the throng, until at length no city would consent to receive them within its walls. But unquestionably the strangest of all Having gathered this great host, he directed these itinerants of faith were the gloomy its march towards the shores of the Medi- flagellants; and, oddly enough, they were terranean. Himself led the way, reclining also the most tenacious of existence. A in a chariot lined with cloaks. After him pressed the countless throng chanting, "Lord Jesus, give us back the Holy Cross." And every instant they trampled the weaker to death, as they struggled for the place nearest to their leader's car, for he among them was envied exceedingly who could touch his person or gather a thread from his robe. In the end the whole of them perished on the land or in the sea.
Even more singular were the dancers, who first attracted attention at Aix-la-Chapelle in 1373. A set of ragged wanderers were these, who made beggary an article of faith, and who signalized themselves by extreme dissent from the Church, and contempt for its organization. They admitted only the initiated to their private assemblies, which were held at night in secret places, and where it was said they practised the greatest abominations. Wandering about in bands of thirty or forty, their professional poverty, their impassioned carnestness, their frantic rites, and their contempt for persecution, gave them extraordinary power. Wherever they appeared their singular aspect and still more singular reputation attracted multitudes of spectators; and a crowd was all they required to go through their singular performances. In those superstitious times it was almost impossible to witness their furious motions and hear their frenzied shrieks-motions of worship and shrieks of prayer, veritable attempts to take heaven by storm-without being infected by the mania. Indeed, their example was as contagious as the plague, and equally dreaded. If we are to credit the
singularly impressive picture they presentmore like a dismal vision of dreamland than a gathering of human life-a sable host in ceaseless march-each phantom's shoulder bare, the left hand bearing a little wooden cross, and the right a whip, so well applied that the dust in the track of the long procession was dimpled with its blood. Groans, shrieks, and wild ejaculations rose multitudinous, and enveloped the march with a deep dread sound, like the dash of the agitated sea. Wherever that sound alarmed the ear
- in the passes of the Apennines, through the German forests, across the fields of France-those who happened to be in the vicinity fled or hid themselves. For the penitential torrent absorbed all who happened to cross its course. No matter who they were nor how employed - no matter how pressed nor how excepted-there was no escape for any. Resistance was in vain, remonstrance unheeded. Here the dreary fanatics surprised a troop of beggars, there a band of hunters, yonder a company of traders or a bridal group; and, under penalty of having the flesh flogged from their bones, forced them to become flagellants, until they were released by reaching the next celebrated shrine-Loretto, it might be, or Cologne, or Rheims. History first notices the flagellants in 1260, when the Crusades began to flag. They reappeared again in the fourteenth century, and for ten years perambulated and agitated Europe. This was their palmy day, and it was also the one in which they encountered most opposition from pope and prince, particularly in Germany, where, for the time, they were put down by the Teutonic knights. In