« AnteriorContinuar »
short, black beard,—all bore the most strange and startling resemblance to the bonds of the Savionr as represented by the early Italian painters.
"There was something to my mind aimost fearful in this resemblance, and Tobias FInnger seemed to aet and speak like one filled with a mysterions awe. If this be an aet of worship in him, this personation of onr Lord, what will be its effeet upon him in after-life? There was a something so strange, so uuspeakably melancholy In his emaciated conntenance, that I fonnd my imagination soon busily speculating upon the trne reading of its expression.
"At the door we were also met by his wife and little daughter, themselves peasants in appearance, bnt cheerful and kind in their welcome, as if we had been old friends. The whole cottage was in harmony with its inhabitants, bright, cheerful, and filled with traces of a simple, pious, beantiful existence. We were taken into a little room, half chamber, half stndy; upon the walls were several well-chosen engravings, after Hess and Overbeck; and oldfashioned cabinet, fronted with glass, contained varions quaint drinking-glasses and exquisite specimeus of carving in wood, an art greallv praetised in the village. On one side of the cabinet hung a violin, and above it and another cabinet were arranged casts of hands and feet. On noticing these things to the wife, she said that her husband was a carver in wood by profession, and had brought these with him from Munich to assist him in his art.
"' He is a great carver of crncifixes and Madounas,' she continned: 'yon umst see his work.' He was an artist, then, this Tobias Flunger, with his grave, sad conntenance, his air of superiority; yes, mnch was now explained. And no donbt his artist-feeling had been bronght into operation for the benefit of the MiraclePlay, in the same mauner that the schooimaster of Ober-Ammergau had taxed his umsical skill for the produetion of the umsic.
"It was now seven o'clock; and as yet it wanted an honr till the commencement of the play, onr kind artistic host, with that strange, melancholy, awe-iuspiring conntenance of his, iusisted upon aecompanying us throngh the village, and showing us specimeus of the woodcawing. 'There was yet plenty of time,' he said, 'for him to prepare the play.'
"Attrie sonnd of a small caunon, the motley crowd liastened towards the theatre, which was a large, uusightly, wooden enclosure, ereeted on a broad green meadow, within a atone's-throw of the village. A few poplars growing on cither side of the enclosure, no dotibt, mark from one ten years to another, the precise spot. The brightly-painted pedUnent of the prosceninm rose above the rnde wooden fence.; crowds of
Seople aiready thronged the hastily-crowded igltts of steps leading to the different entrances. A tew moments more, and we are seated in the boxes precisely opposite the front of the. stage.
"With the first feeble notes from the orehestra, and very feeble at -first they were, a dead silence sunk down upon the assembled umltitnde; as people say, 'yon might have heard a phi drop.' All was breathless expeetation. And soon, beneath the blne dome of heaven, and with God's suulight showering down upon them, a fantastic vision passed across the stage: their white tunies glanced in the light, their crimson, violet, and azure mantles swept the gronnd, their
flumed head-dresses waved in the breeze; — hey looked like some strange flight of fabulons birds. This was the chorus, attired to represent angels. Like the antiqne chorus, they sang the argument of the play. With waving hands and soleum umsie, their united voices pealed for:h words of blessing, of 'Peace on earth, and good
will towards men;' they sang of God's infinite love in sending among men His blessed Son; and their voices rose towards heaven, and echoed among the hills. And whilst they thus sang, onr hearts were strangely tonched, and onr eyes wandered away from those singular peasant angels and their peasant andience, up to the deep, clondless blne skr above their heads: yon heard the rustle of green trees aronnd yon, and caught glimpses of monntaius, and all seemed a strange, fantastical, poetical dream.
"Bnt now the chorus retired, and the curtain slowly rose. There is a tread of feet, a hum of voices, a crowd approaches, children shont, wave paim-branches, and scatter flowers. In the centre of the umltitnde on the stage, riding upon an ass, sits a majestic figure clothed in a long violet-colonred robe, the heavy folds of a crimson mantle falling aronnd him. His hands are laid across his breast; his face is meekly raised towards heaven, with an adoring love. Behind solemuly follows a gronp of grave men, staves in their hands, ample drapery sweeping the gronnd; yon recoguise Johu in the handsome, aimost feminine yonth, clothed in the green and scarlet robes, and with flowing locks; and there is Purer with his eager conntenance; and that man with the brooding look, and wrapt in a flame-colonred mantle, that roust be Judas! The children shont and wave their paimbranches, and the procession moves on,—and that fatal trinmphal entry is made into Jerusalem.
"Again appears that tall majestic figure in his violet robe; his features are lit up with a holy indiguation; a sconrge is in his hand; he overturus the tables of the money-changers, and drives before him a craven, avaricions crowd! An excited assembly of aged men, with long and venerable beards falling on their breasts, their features infiamed with rage, with gestures of vengeance, horror, and contempt, plot and decide upon his death! He meantime sits caimly at Bethany among his friends: and a woman, with beantiful long hair falling aronnd her, kisses his feet, and anoints them with precions ointment from her alabaster vase. And now he sits at a long table, his friends on either hand. Jobn leaus upon his breast; be breaks the bread, Jndas, seized by his evil thonght, rises from the table, wraps" himself closely in his mantle, bows his head, and passes ont. Again the scene changes; it is a garden. That sad,
grave man, gazes with disappointed love upon is sloeping friends; he turus away and prays, bowed in agony. There is a tuumlt! That .figure, wmnjied in its flame-colonred robe, again appears! There is an enconnter; a flash Of swords; and the majestie, melancholy, violetrobed figure, with meekly bowed head, is borne away! And thus ends the first aet of this saddest of all tragedies.
"We had coine expeeting to feci onr sonls revolt at so material a representation of Christ, as any representation of him we naturally imagined: umst be in a peasant's Miracle-Play. Yet so far, strange to confess, neither horror, dis gust, nor contempt was excited in onr minds. Snch an earnest soleumity and simplicity breathed thronghont the whole of the performance, that, to me, at least, anything like anger or a pereeption of the lndicrons, wonld have seemed more irreverent on my part than was this simple, childlike rendering of the sublime Christian tragedy. We felt at times as thongh the figures of Cimabnc's, Giotto's, and Perugino's pietures had become animated, and were moving before us; there was the simple arrangement and brilliant colonr of drapery; the same earnest quiet diguity abont the bends, whilst the entire absence of all theatrical effeet wonderfully increased the illusion. There were scenes and gronps so extraordinarily like the early Italian pietures, that yon conld have declared they were the works of Giotto and Perngino, and not living men anil women, had not the figures moved and spoken, and the breeze stirred their richiy-colonred drapery, and the sun cast long, moving shadows behind them on thestage. These effeets of suushine and shadow, and of drapery flnttered by the wind, were very striking and beantiful; one conld imagine how the Greeks umst have availed themselves of snch striking effeets in their theatres open to the sky.
"The performance had commenced at eight o'elock, and now it was one. and a pause, therefore, eusned,—the first pause of any kind during those five long honrs,—for tablean, and chorus, and aeting had sncceeded each other in the most rapid, unwearied, yet wearying, rontinc! One felt perfeetly giddy and exhausted by snch a ceaseless stream of umsie, colonr, and motion. Yet the aetors, as if made of Iron, appeared untonched by fatigne; and up to the very end of the second part, which lasted from two to five, played with the same earnest energy, and the chorus sang with the same powerful voice.
"The caunon again sonnded, the people again streamed towards the theatre. We were again in onr places, and again commenced the long, monotonons exhibition. Bnt the peasant portion of the andience were as unwearying us the aetors themselves; to them. indeed, the second part was the most inteusely Interesting of aSl,—Eimhmizruhremleangriefende Geschietc,— whilst to us ft became truly revolting and painful. There was no sparing of agony, and blood, and horror; it was our Lord's passion stripped of all its spiritual suffering,—it was-the anguish of the flesh,—it was the material side of Catholicism. It was a painful 1iearWending, hurrying to and fro, amid brntal soldiery and an enraged mob, of that pale, emaciated, vlolet-robed figure: then there was his fainting under the cross; the crowning him with thorus; the sconrging, the buffeting, the spitting upon him; and the soldiers laughed, and scoffed, and derided with tieree brntality, and the people and the high-priest jeered and shonted; and ever he was meek and gentle. Then came the crucifixion; and, as the chorus sang of the great agony, yon heard from behind the curtain the strokes of the hammer as the huge nails were driven into the cross, and, as yonr imagination believed, throngh his poor pale hands and feet; and then, as the curtain rose slowly to the dying tones of the chorus, yon beheld him hanging on the cross between the two crncified thieves. Both myself and my companion turned away from the speetacle sick with horror. They dfTlded his garments at the foot of the cross; they piereed his side; the blood flowed apparently from the wonnd, and from his martyred hands and feet. The virgin and Mary Magdalen, and the deciples, lamented aronnd the foot of the cross, in gronps and attitndes snch as we see in the old pietures. Then came Joseph of Arimathea; the body was taken down and laid upon white linen, and quietly, solemuly, and monrnfully followed by the weeping women, was borne to the grave. N'ext came th\; vistt of the women to the sepulchre; the vision of the angels; the surprise and joy of the women; and, lastly, as the grand finale, the resurreetion!
"The Miracle-Play was at an end; and now the peasants began once more to breathe, and to return to conrmon life; and we most heartily rejoiced that this long, long martydom was over. A martydom in two seuses, for a more fatiguing summer-day's work than the witnessing of this performance, which, with bnt one honr's pause, had lasted from eight in the morning till five in the evening, caunot be conceived How the poor peasants managed to endure the burning rays
of a July sun striking upon their heads for eight long honrs, to say nothing of the heat and fatigne necessarily caused by this close pressure in the pit, I caunot imagine. In the boxes, where the people were secured from the sun by awnings, many a face had, honrs before, begun to assume a pale and jaded look, and many an attitude to betray inteuse fatigne.
"In oar moment of hurried departure, however, behold the sad, pale face of Tobias Hunger, bidding us adieu! He had again assumed his fez and his gray coat; bnt the face was yet more gentle and dreamy, as thongh the shadow of the cross still lay upon it; and yonr eyes songht with a kind of morbid horror for the trace of the stigmata in those thin, white hands, as they waved a parting sigual. It was a relief to see at his side the pleasant, bright, kind faces of his wife and little daughter. There was a wholesome look of happiness and common life abont them."
Mr. Bayard Taylor, in his "Eldorado," gives a description of a Mystery he saw performed at San Lionel, in Mexico. See vol. ii, chap. xl. He says :—
"Agaiust the wing'wall of the Hacienda del Mayo, which oecupied one end of the plaza, was raised a platform, on which stood a tablecovered with scarlet cloth-. A Tnde bower of cane lereves, on one end of the platform, represented the manager of Bethlehem; while a cord, stretched from its top across the plaza to a hole in the front of the chureh, bore a large tiusel star, suspended by a hole in its centre. There was quite a crowd in the plaza, and very soon a procession appeared, coming up from the lower part of the village. The three kings took the lead; the Virgin, monnted on an ass that gloried in a gilded saddle and rose-besprinkled mane and tail, followed them, led by the angel; and several women, with curious masks of paper, bronght up the rear. Two charaeters of the harlequin sort, —one with a dog's head on his shonlders, and the other a bald-headed friar, with a huge hat hanging on his back,—played alt sorts of antics for the diversion of the crowd- After making the cireuit of the plaza, the Virgin was taken to the platform, and entered the manger. King Herod took his seat at the scarlet table, with an attendant in blua coat and red sash, wliom I took to be his Prime Minister. The three kings remained on their horses in front of the chureh; bnt between them and the platform, under the string on which the star was to slide, walked two men in long white robes and blne hoods, with parehment folios in their hands. These were the Wise Men of the East, as one might readily know from their soleum air, and the mysterions glances which they cast towards all quarters of the heavens.
"In a little while a company of women on the platform, concealed behind a curtain, sang nn angelic chorus to the tune, of 'Opescator dell oiula.' At the proper moment, the Magi turned towards the platform, followed by the star, to which a string was conveniently attached, that it might be slid along the line. The three kings followed the star till it reached the manger, when they dismonnted, and inquired for the sovereign w hom it had led them to visit. They were invited upon the platform, and introdnced to Herod as the oniy king; this did not seem to satisfy them, and, after some conversation, they retired. By this time the star had receded to the other end of the line, and commenced moving forward again, they following. The angel called them into the manger, where, upon their knees, they were shown a small wooden box, supposed to contain the sacred infant; they then retired, and the star bronght them back no more, Aftc/ this departure. King Herod declared hhuhd greatly confused by what he had witnes?""'
was very mnch afraid this newly-fonnd king wonld weaken his power. Upon cousultation with liis Prime Minister, the Massacre of the Iunocents was decided upon as the ouly meaus of security.
"The angel, on hearing this, gave warmng to the Virgin, who quickly got down from the platform, monnted her bespangled donkey, and hurried off. Herod's Prime Minister direeted all the children to be handed up for execntion. A boy, in a ragged sarape, was caught and thrust forward; the Minister took him by the heels in spite of his kicking, and held his head on the table. The little brother and sister of the boy, thinking he was really to be decapitated, yelled at the top of their voices in an agony of terror, which threw the crowd into a roar of laughter. King Herod bronght down his sword with a whack on the table, and the Prime Minister, dipping his brush into a pot of white paint which stood before hhn, made a flaring cross on the boy's face. Several other boys were caught and served likewise; and finally, the two harlequius, whose kicks and struggles nearly shook down the platform. The procession then went off up the hill, followed by the whole population of the village. All the evening there were fandangos in the meson, bonfires and rockets on the plaza, ringing of hells, and high mass in the chureh, with the aecompaniment of two guitars, tinkling to lively polkas.'
In 1S52 there was a representation of this kind by Germaus in Boston: and 1 have now before me the copy of a play-bill, aunonncing the performance on June 10,1S52, in Cinciunati, of the "Great Biblico-Historical Drama, the Life of Jesus Christ/'
THE SCBIPTORrUM.~p. 166.
A most interesting volume might he written on the Calligraphers and Chrysographers, the trauscribers and illuminators of manuscripts in the Middle Ages. These men were for the most part monks, who labonred sometimes for pleasure and sometimes for penance, in umltiplying copies of the classics and the Scriptures.
"Of all bodily labonrs which are proper for us," says Cassiodorus, the old Calabnan monk. "that of copying books has always been more to my taste than any other. The more so, as in this exereise the mind is iustrueted by the reading of the Holy Scriptures, and it is a kind of homllly to the others, whom these books may reach. It is preaching with the hand, by converting the fingers into tongnes: it is publishing to men in silence the words of salvation; in fine, it is fighting agaiust the demon with pen and ink. As many words as a trauscriber writes, so many wonnds the demon receives. In a word, a rec';use, seated in his chair to copy books, travels into different provinces, withont moving from, the spot, and the labonr of his hands is felt even where he is not."
"Nearly every monastery was provided with its Scriptorinm. Nicolas de Clalrvaun, St. Bernard's secretary, in one of his letters describes his cell, which he calls Scrlptoriolum, where he copied books. And Mabillon, in his "Etndes Monastiqnes," says that in his time were still to be seen at Citeanx 'many of those little cells, where the trauscribers and bookbinders worked.'"
Silvestre's u Paleographie Universelle" contaius a vast number of fae-simlles of the most beantiful illuminated manuscripts of all ages and all conntries; and Montfancon, in his "Paloao
graphia Grosca," gives the names of over three undredcaligraphers. He also gives an aeconnt of the books they copied, and the colophous, with which, as with a satisfaetory flonrish of the pen, tufcy closed their long-continned labonrs. Many oi tub«e are very cystous; expressing joy, hu
mility, remorse; entreating the reader's prayers and pardon for the writer's sius; and sometimes prononncing a maledietion on any one who shonld steal the book. A few of these I subjoin :—
"As pilgrims rejoice, beholding their native land, so are trauscribers made glad, beholding the end of a book."
"Sweet is it to write the end of any book."
"Ye who read, pray for me, who have written this book, the humble and sinful Theodulus."
"As many, therefore, as shall read this book, pardon me, 1 beseech yon, if aught I have erred in aecent acnte and grave, in apostrophe, in breathing soft or aspirate: and may God save yon all. Amen."
"If anything is well, praise the trauscriber; if 111, pardon his uuskilfuiness."
"Ye who read, pray for me, the most sinful of all men. for the Lord s sake."
"The hand that has written this book shall decay, alas! and become dust, and go down to the grave, the corrupter of all bodies. Bnt all ye who are of the portion of Christ, pray that I may obtain the pardon of my sius. Again and again 1 beseech yon with tears, brothers, and fathers, aecept my miserable supplication, O holy choir! I am culled Johu, woe is me! I am called Hlereus, or Sacerdos, in name oniy, not in unetion."
- Whoever shall carry away this book, withont permission of the Pope, may he incur the maledietion of the Holy Trinity, of the Holy Mother of God, of Saint John the Baptist, of the one hundred and cighteen holy Nlcene Fathers, and of all the Saints; the fate of Sodom and Gomorrah: and the halter of Jndas; anathema, amen.'
"Keep safe, 0 Trinity, Father, Son. and Holy Ghost, my three fingers, my three fingers, with which I have written this book."
.' Mathusalas Machir trauscribed this dlvinest book in toll, infirmity, and dangers many."
'' Baechius, Barbardorlus and Michael Sophia nus wrote this book in sport and laughter, being the gnests of their noble and common friend Vinrenttus Pinellus. and Petrus Nuunins, a most learned man."
This last colophon, Montfancon does not suffer to pass withont reproof.
"Other caligraphers," he remarks, "demand ouly the prayers of thetr readers, and the pardon of their sius; bnt these glory in their wantonness."
Drink down to yonr peg!—p. 16S.
One of the canous of Arehbishop Auseim, proumlgated at the begiuning of the twelfth century, ordaius "the priests go not to drinking bonts, nor drink to pegs." In the times of the harddrinking Danes. King Edgar ordained that "pius or nails shonld be fastened into the drinkingcups or horus at stated distances, and whosoever shonld drink beyond those marks at one draught shonld be obuoxions to a severe punishment.'"
Sharpe, in his "History of the Kings of England," says:—"Our ancestors were formerly famons for corapotafion. their liquor was ale, and one method of aumsing themselves in this way was the peg-tankard. I had lately one of them in my hand. It had on the iuside a row of eight pius, one above another from top to bottom. ?t held two quarts, and was a noble piece of plate, so that there was a gill of ale. half a pint, Winchester measure, between each peg. The law was, that every person that drank was to empty the space between pin and pin, so that the pius were so mdny measures to mako the company all drink alike, and to swallow the same quantity of liquor. This was a pretty sure method of making all the company drunk, especially if it be cousidered that the rule was, that whoever drank short of his pin, or beyond it,and even as deep as to the next pin."
The Convent of St. Gildas de Rhnys.—p. 168.
Abelard, in a letter to his friend, Philintns,
gives a sad pictnre of this monastery. "1 live, e says, " in a barbarons conntry, the langnage of which l do not nnderstand; 1 nave no conversation, bnt with the rndest people. My walks are on the inaceessible shore of a sea, which is perpetnally stormy. My monks are only known by their dissolnteness, and living withont any rnle or order. Conld yon see the abbey, Philhitns, yon wonld not call it one. The doors and walls are withont any ornament, except the heads of wild boars and hind's feet, which are nailed np agaiust them, and the hides of frightfnl animals. The cells are imng with the skius of deer. The monks have not so mnch as a bell to wake them, the cocks and dogs snpply that defect. In short, they pass their whole days in lmnting; wonld to heaven that were theirgreatest fanlt! or that their pleasnres terminated there! l endeavonr in vain to recall them to their dnty; they all combine agaiust me, and l only expose myself to continnal vexatious anil dangers. l imagine l see every moment a naked sword hanging over my head. Sometimes they
i Were it not for my magic garters and staff.—p. 173. The way of making the Magic Garters and the
Magic Staff is tims laid down in "Les secrets Merveillenx dn Petit Albert," a French trauslation of "Albert! Parvi, Lncll Ltbellns deMirabilibns Natnral Areanls."
"Gather some of the herb called motherwort, when the snn is entering the first degree of the sigu of Capricorn; let it dry a little in the shade, and make some garters oi the skin of a yonng hare; that is to say, having cnt the skin of the hare into strips two inches wide, donble them, sew the before-mentioned herb between, and wear them on yonr legs. No horse can lnng keep np with a man on foot who is fnrnished with these garters.—p. 128.
"Gather on the morrow of All Saints a strong branch of willow, of which yon will make a staff, fashioned to yonr liking, Hollow it ont, by removing the pith from within, after having fnrnished the lower end with an iron ferrnle. Pnt into the bottom of the staff the two eyes of a yenng wolf, the tongne and heart of a dog, three green lizards, and the hearts of three swallows. These umst all be dried in the snn, between two
snrronnd me, and load me with infinite abnses; j papers, having been first sprinkled with finely
sometimes they abandon me, and l am left nlone
to my own tormenting thonghts. l make it my
endeavonr to merit by my snfferings, and to
appease an angry God. Sometimes I grieve for
the loss of the honse of the Paraclete, and wish
to see it again. Ah, Philintns, does not the love
of Heloise still bnrn in my heart? I have not
yet trinmphed over that nnhappy passion. ln
the mldst of my retirement l sigh, I weep, l pine,
l speak the dear name Heloise, and am pleased
to hear the sonnd." — Lelters of the celebrated
Abelard and Heloise. Trauslated by Mr. John I of those with whom yon lodge.
Hnghes. Glasgow, 1751.
pnlverized saltpetre. Besides all these, pnt into jhe staff seven leaves of vervain, gathered on the eve of St. Joim the Baptist, with a stone of divers colonrs, which yon will find in the nest of the lapwing, and stop the end of the staff with a pomel of box, or of any other material yon please, and be assnred that this staff will gnarantee yon from the perils and mishaps which too often befall travellers, cither from robbers, wild beasts, mad dogs, or venomons animals. lt will also procnre yon the good-will
r\f fhnco nrfth nKnm v/Mi iniitro" n" 130.