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ning; the hills of Derbyshire their lead mines; Nottingham and Leicester their coals again ; Lincoln and Norfolk their vast corn farms; the Southern Downs their shepherds; Devon and Cornwall their tin and and copper mines; Gloucester and Somerset display their fields of teasels, indicating that there our finest broadcloths are made; Stafford and Warwick swarm with collieries, iron foundries, and potteries, and so on.
13. Each district has its peculiar pursuit and occupation pointed out by nature; and all these things give variety to the country and its inhabitants, and scatter everywhere interesting subjects of inquiry for the passer-by.
THE CREATOR'S WORKS.
Illumes the distant earth,
But mercy gave it birth.
Upon the parching clod,
That is not sent by God.
In ocean deep, or air,
For God is everywhere.
Wherever space extends,
1. In times of war and anarchy, when everyone is shifting for himself, only the strongest and shrewdest can stand. Woe to those who cannot take care of themselves! The fools and cowards, the weakly and sickly, are killed, starved, neglected, or in other ways brought to grief. But where law and order come, they protect those who cannot protect themselves, and the fools and cowards, the weakly and sickly, are supported at the public expense.
2. I do not say that this is wrong, Heaven forbid! I only state the fact. A government is quite right in defending all alike from the brute competition of nature, whose motto is-Woe to the weak. To the church of the middle age is due the preaching and the practice of the great Christian doctrine, that society is bound to protect the weak. So far the middle age saw; but no further.
3. For our own times has been reserved the higher and deeper doctrine, that it is the duty of society to make the weak strong; to reform, to cure, and, above all, to prevent by education, by sanitary science, by all and every means, the necessity of reforming and of curing. 4. Science could not do that in the middle
age. But if science could not do it, religion would at least try to do the next best thing to it. The monasteries? were the refuges, whither the weak escaped from the competition of the strong. Thither flocked the poor, the crippled, the orphan, and the widow, all, in fact, who could not fight for themselves. There they found something like justice, order, pity, help.
5. Even the fool and the coward, when they went to the convent-door, were not turned away. The poor half-witted rascal, who had not sense enough to serve the king, might still serve the
abbot. He would be set to drive, plough, or hew wood-possibly by the side of a gentleman, a nobleman, or even a prince—and live under equal law with them; and under, too, a discipline more strict than that of any modern army; and if he would not hew wood, or drive the bullocks, as he ought, then the abbot would have him flogged soundly till he did; which was better for him, after all, than wandering about to be hooted by the boys, and dying in a ditch at last.
6. The coward too—the abbot could make him of use, even though the king could not. There were, no doubt, in those days, though fewer in number than now, men who could not face physical danger, and the storm of the evil world, who, when sent out to battle, would be very likely to run away.
But the abbot had great use for such. They could learn to read, write, sing, think; they were often very clever; they might make great scholars.
7. You may ask, however, how these monasteries became so powerful, if they were merely refuges for the weak? Even if they were (and they were) the homes of an equal justice and order, mercy and beneficence, which had few or no standing-places outside their walls, still, how, if governed by weak men, could they survive in the great battle of life? The sheep would have but a poor life of it, if they set up hurdles against the wolves, and agreed at all events not to eat each other.
8. The answer is, that the monasteries were not altogether tenanted by incapables. The same
causes which brought the low-born into the monasteries, brought the high-born, many of the very highest. The same cause which brought the weak into the monasteries, brought the strong, many of the very strongest.
9. The middle-age records give us a long list of kings, princes, nobles, who, having done (as they held) their work in the world outside, went into these convents to try their hands at what seemed to them (and often was) better work than the perpetual toil of war, intrigue, and ambition, which was not the crime, but the necessary fate, of a ruler in the middle ages.
10. Tired of work, and tired of life; tired, too, of vain luxury and vain wealth, they fled to the convent, as to the only place where a man could get a little peace, and think of God, and his own soul; and recollected, as they worked with their own hands by the side of the lowest-born of their subjects, that they had a human flesh and blood, a human immortal soul, like those whom they had ruled.
11. Thank God that the great have other methods now of learning that great truth; that the work of life, if but well done, will teach it to them ; but those were hard times and wild times; and fighting men could hardly learn, save in the convent, that there was a God above who watched the widows' and the orphans' tears, and when He made inquisition for blood, forgot not the cause of
Charles Kingsley (by special permission). 1. Monasteries or Abbeys.—Where monks reside, who are associated for the purpose of living a retired and holy life.
In olden days, before