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printing was known, many of these monks were employed in copying books, in a room called the Scriptorium, or writing-room. Many of their books are still preserved, and are usually most perfect specimens of good and correct writing. By the early monks waste lands were reclaimed, schools were kept. Most of these monasteries were destroyed at the time of the Reformation, in the 16th century. Thuse in England were destroyed in the reign of Henry VIII. Some of their ruins still form most attractive objects. The finest are those of Fountains Abbey, near Ripon, in Yorkshire, Tintern Abbey, in Mon. mouthshire, and Melrose Abbey, in the South of Scotland.
THE ABBEYS OF THE OLDEN TIME.- Part II.
1. The question is, what building an abbey meant, not three hundred, nor five hundred, but eleven hundred years ago—for centuries are long matters, and men and their works change in them. And then it meant this : clearing the backwoods for a Christian settlement; an industrial colony, in which every man was expected to spend his life in doing good—all and every good which he could for his fellow-men.
2. Whatever talent he had he threw into the common stock; and worked as he was found fit to work, at farming, gardening, carpentering, writing, doctoring, teaching in the schools, or preaching to the heathen round. In their common church they met to worship God; but also to ask for
and strength to do their work, as Christianizers and civilizers of mankind.
3. What Christianity and civilization they knew (and they knew more than we are apt now to believe) they taught it freely; and therefore they were loved and looked up to as superior beings, as modern missionaries, wherever they do their
work even decently well, are looked up to now.
In a word, the old monk missionary
taught all he knew to all who would learn, just as our best modern missionaries do.
4. Of course he did not know how far civilization would extend. He could not foretell railroads and electric telegraphs, any more than he could political economy, or sanitary science. But the best thing that he knew, he taught—and did also, working with his own hands. He was faithful in few things, and God made him ruler over many things.
5. For out of these monasteries sprang-what did not spring ? They restored again and again sound law and just government, when the good old laws were trampled underfoot amid the lawless strife of ambition and fury. Under their shadow sprang up the towns with their corporate rights, their middle classes, their artizan classes. They were the physicians, the alms-givers, the relieving officers, the schoolmasters of the middle-age world.
6. They first taught us the great principle of the division of labour, to which we owe, at this moment, that England is what she is, instead of being covered with a horde of peasants, each making and producing every thing for himself, and starving each upon his rood of ground.
7. They transcribed or composed all the books of the then world; many of them spent their lives in doing nothing but writing; and the number of books, even of those to be found in single monasteries, considering the tedious labour of copying, is altogether astonishing. They preserved to us the treasures of classical antiquity. They discovered for us the germs of all our modern inventions. They brought in from abroad arts and new knowledge.
8. And while they taught men to know that they had a common humanity, a common Father in heaven, taught them also to profit by each other's wisdom instead of remaining in isolated ignorance.
With them was neither high-born nor low-born, rich nor poor; worth was their only test; the meanest serf entering there might become the lord of knights and vassals, the counsellor of kings and princes.
9. In these monasteries was preserved the sacred fire of modern liberty, through those feudal centuries when all the outside world was doing its best to trample it out. Remember as a single instance, that in the abbot's lodging at Bury St. Edmunds, the Magna Charta was drawn out before being presented to John at Runnymede. 4
10. I know what they became afterwards. They had done their work, and they went. Like all things born in time they died, and decayed in time and the old order changed giving place to the new; and God fulfilled Himself in many ways.
; They were the best things the world had seen; the only method of Christianizing and civilizing semibarbarous Europe.
Charles Kingsley (by special permission).
1. Political economy. The science which explains how wealth is produced and divided.
2. Feudal centuries.-The times when the feudal system was in force. By this system men were bound together by service, and not as at the present time by money payments. The lowest class of all were reduced to a kind of slavery.
3. Bury St. Edmunds. -A very old town in Suffolk. In the magnificent abbey of this town the Barons, who
were in rebellion against the tyranny of King John, assembled in 1214, when they pledged themselves to defend the liberties of England. The Barons were acting under the advice of Stephen Langton, the noble and patriotic Archbishop of Canterbury.
4. Runnymede.-A broad plain between Staines and Windsor, where the Magna Charta was signed by King John in 1215. This celebrated Charter forms the great foundation of our English liberty.
When I consider how my light is spent,
Ere half my days, 2 in this dark world and wide,
And that one talent3 which is death to hide Lodg'd with me useless, though my soul more bent To serve therewith my Maker, and present
My true account, lest He returning chide ; “Doth God exact day-labour, light deniedo ?” I fondly ask; but Patience, to prevent That murmur, soon replies, “God doth not need