RISE AND FALL OF GREGORY.
"0, that I had in the wilderness a lodgingplace of wayfaring men, that I might leave my people and go from them; for they be all adulterers, an assembly of treacherous men."
"This, O Basil, to thee, from me,"—thus Gregory winds up his sermon upon Basil,—" this offering to thee from a tongue once most dear to thee! thy fellow in honour and in age! If it be near thy worth, it is thy favour; for, encouraged by thee, I have set about this oration upon thee. But if it be far from, and much beside my hope, what is to be expected from one worn down with years, sickness, and regret for thee? However, the best we can, is acceptable to God. But O, that thou, divine and sacred heart, mayest watch over me from above, and that thorn in my flesh, which God has given for my discipline, either end it by thy intercessions, or persuade me to bear it bravely! and mayest thou direct my whole life, even to the end, towards that which is most convenient! and if I depart hence, then mayest thou receive me there in thy tabernacles !"—Ep. 20. The English Church has removed such addresses from her services, on account of the abuses to which they have led; and she pointedly condemns what she calls, the Romish doctrine concerning Invocation of Saints, as "a fond thing:" however Gregory, not
knowing what would come after his day, thus expressed the yearnings of his heart, and, as we may almost suppose, at the time he thus made them public, had already received an answer to them. He delivered the above-mentioned discourse on his return to Csesarea from Constantinople, three years after St. Basil's death; an eventful three years, in which he had been quite a different man from what he was before, though it was all now past and over, and about to be succeeded by a return to the retirement in which Basil's death found him.
Gregory disliked the routine intercourse of life; he disliked ecclesiastical business, he disliked publicity, he disliked strife, he felt his own manifold imperfections, he feared to disgrace his profession, and to lose his hope; he loved the independence of solitude, the tranquillity of private life; leisure for meditation, reflection, self-government, study, and literature. He admired, yet he playfully satirized, Basil's romantic views and lofty efforts. Yet, upon Basil's death, Basil's spirit, as it were, came into him; and within four months of it, he had become a preacher of the orthodox faith in an heretical metropolis, had formed a congregation, had set apart a place of worship, and had been stoned by the populace. Was it Gregory, or was it Basil, that blew the trumpet in Constantinople, and waged a successful war in the very seat of the enemy, in despite of all fluctuations of mind, misgivings, fastidiousness, disgust with self, and love of quiet? Such was the power of the great Basil, triumphing in his death, though failing up to it. Within four or five years of it, all the objects were either realized, or in the way to be realized, which he had in vain attempted, and sadly waited for. His eyes had failed in longing; they waited for the morning, and death closed them ere it came. He died on the 1st of January, 379; on the 19th of the same month Theodosius was invested with the imperial purple; by the 20th of April, Gregory had formed a Church in Constantinople; in February, in the following year, Theodosius declared for the Church; in November he restored the Churches of Constantinople to the Catholics. In the next May he convoked, in that city, the second General Council, which issued, in the pacification of the Eastern Church, the overthrow of the great heresy which troubled it, and in a measure and in prospect its union with the West. "Pretiosa in conspectu Domini mors sanctorum ejus."
Under such circumstances it was, when he had passed through many things, and done a great work, when he, a recluse hitherto, had all at once been preacher, confessor, metropolitan, president of a General Council, and now was come back again to Asia as plain Gregory—to be what he had been before, to meditate and to do penance, and to read, and to write poems, and to be silent, as in former years, except that he was now lonely,—his friend dead, his father dead, mother dead, brother Csesarius, sister Gorgonia dead, and himself dead in this world, though still to live in the flesh for some eight dreary years,—in such a time and in such a place, at Csesarea, the scene of Basil's labours, he made the oration, which the above invocation terminates; and he closed it thus :—
"And when I depart hence, mayest thou receive me into thy tabernacles, so that living together with one another, and beholding together more clearly and more perfectly the Holy and Blessed Trinity, whose vision we now receive in poor glimpses, we may there end all our desires, the reward of the warfare which we have waged, which we have endured! To thee, then, these words from me; but me who is there to praise, leaving life after thee? even should I do ought praiseworthy, in Christ Jesus, our Lord, to whom be glory for ever.— Amen."
The circumstances which brought Gregory to Constantinople were as follows :—It was now about forty years since the Church of Constantinople enjoyed the blessing of orthodox teaching and worship. Paul, who had been elected bishop at the beginning of this period, had been visited with four successive banishments from the Arian party, and at length with martyrdom. He had been superseded, first, by Eusebius, the leader of the Arians; then by Macedonius, the head of the sect which denied the divinity of the Holy Spirit; and then by Eudoxius, the Arianizer of the Gothic tribes. On the death of the last mentioned, A. D. 370, the remnant of the orthodox elected for their bishop, Evagrius, who was immediately banished by the emperor Valens; and, when they petitioned him to reverse his decision, eighty of their ecclesiastics, who were the bearers of their complaints, were subjected to a sentence severer even than our celebrated prtemunire, being burned at sea in the ship in which they were embarked. In the year 379, the orthodox Theodosius succeeded to the empire of the East; but this event did not at once alter the fortunes of the Church in his metropolis. The hody of the people, nay, the populace itself, and, what is stranger, numbers of the female population, were eagerly attached to Arianism, and menaced violence to any who was bold enough to preach the true doctrine. Such was the calamitous state of the Church itself; in addition to which must be added, the attitude of its external enemies :—the Novatians, who, orthodox themselves in doctrine, yet possessed a schismatical episcopacy, and a number of places of worship in the city;—the Eunomians, professors of the Arian heresy in its most undisguised blasphemy, who also had established a bishop there ;—and the SemiArians and Apollinarists, whose heretical sentiments have been, or will be hereafter, alluded to. This was the condition of Constantinople when the orthodox members of its Church, under the sanction and with the co-operation of the neighbouring bishops, invited Gregory, whose gifts, religious and intellectual, were well known to them, to preside over it, instead of the heretical Demophilus, whom Valens, three years before, had placed there.
The history of Gregory's doings and fortunes at Constantinople may be told in a few words. A place of worship was prepared for him by the kindness of a relative. There he began to preach the true doctrine—first, amid the contempt, then amid the rage and hatred of the Arian population. His congregation increased; he was stoned by the multitude, and brought before the civil authorities on the charge of creating a riot. At length, however, on Theodosius visiting the capital, he was recognized as bishop, and established in the temporalities of the see. However, on the continued opposition of the people, and vexatious combinations against him on the part of his brother bishops, he resigned his episcopate during the session of the second General Council, and retired to Asia Minor.
I do not intend to say more upon St. Gregory's public career; but before leaving the subject, I am tempted to make two reflections.
First, he was fifty years old when he was called to Constantinople; a consolatory thought to those who see their span of life crumbling away under their feet, and they apparently doing nothing. Gregory was nothing till he was almost an old man; had he died at Basil's age, he would have died nothing. He seems to have been exactly the same age as Basil; but Basil had done his work, and was taken away before he began his.
The second reflection that suggests itself is this: in what a little time men move through the work which is, as it were, the end for which they are born, and which is to give a character to their names with posterity. They are known in history as the prime movers in this, or the instruments of that; as rulers, or politicians, or philosophers, or warriors; and when we examine dates, we often find that the exploits, or discoveries, or sway which make them famous, lasted but a few years out of a long life, like plants that bloom once, and never again. Their energy of existence, moral character, talents, acquirements, seems concentrated upon a crisis, and is invisible and silent in the world's annals, both, before and after. Gregory lived sixty years; his ecclesiastical life was barely three.
When, leaving Gregory's public, we turn to his personal character, we have before us a man of warm affections, amiable disposition, and innocent life. As a son, full of piety, tenderness, and watchful solicitude; as a friend or companion, lively, cheerful, and openhearted; overflowing with natural feelings, and easy in the expression of them; simple, good, humble, primitive. His aspirations were high, as became a saint, his life ascetic in the extreme, and his conscience still more sensitive of sin and infirmity. At the same time he was subject to alternations of feeling; was deficient all along in strength of mind and self-control; and was harassed, even in his old age, by irritability, fear, and other passions, which one would think that even years, not to say self-discipline, would have brought into subjection. These are some of the conspicuous points in Gregory's character; and the following extracts from his writings, in verse and prose, are intended in some measure to illustrate them.
At first sight, many persons may feel surprised at the rhetorical style of his sermons, or orations, as they are more fitly called: the following passage explains this. He considered he had gained at Athens, while yet in the world, a rare talent, the science of thought and speech; and he considered that what had cost him so much, should not be renounced, but consecrated to religious uses. "This I offer to God," he says, '' this I dedicate, which alone I have left myself, in which only I am rich. For all other things I have surrendered to the commandment and the Spirit, and have exchanged for the all-precious pearl whatever I had, and have become, or rather long to become, a great merchant, buying things great and imperishable with what is small and will certainly decay. Discourse alone I retain, as being the servant of the Word, nor should I ever willingly neglect this possession; rather I honour and embrace, and take more pleasure in it than in all other things in which the many take pleasure; and I make it my life's companion, and good counsellor, and associate, and guide heavenward, and ready comrade. I have said to wisdom, 'Thou art my sister.' With this I bridle my impetuous anger, with this I appease wasting envy, with this I lull to rest sorrow, the chain of the heart; with this I sober the flood of pleasure, with this I put a measure, not on friendship, but on dislike. This makes me temperate in good fortune, and high-souled in poverty; this encourages me to run with the prosperous traveller, to stretch a hand to the falling, to be weak with the weak, and to be merry with the strong. With this, home and foreign land are all one to me, and change of places, which are foreign to me equally, and not mine own. This discriminates for me between two worlds, withdraws me from one, joins me to the other."— Orat. 12.
When he was ordained priest, he betook himself in haste to Pontus, and only after a time returned to Nazianzus. He thus speaks of this proceeding :—
"The chief cause was my surprise at the unexpected event; as they who are astounded by sudden noises, I did not retain my power of reflection, and therefore I offended against modesty, which I had cherished my whole time. Next, a certain love insinuated itself of the moral beauty of quiet, and of retirement, of which whereas I had been enamoured from the beginning, more perhaps than any who have studied letters, and had vowed to God in the greatest and most severe of dangers, nay, had even reached so far as to be in the threshold, I did not endure being tyrannized over, and being thrust into the midst of tumult, and dragged forcibly away from this mode of life, as if from some sacred asylum. For nothing seemed to me so great, as by closing the senses, and being rid of flesh and world, and retiring .ipon one's self, and touching nothing human, except when absolutely necessary, and conversing with one's self and God, to live above things visible, and to bear the divine vision always clear within one, pure from the shifting impressions of earth,—a true mirror, unsullied of God and the things of God, now and ever, adding light to light, the brighter to the dimmer, gathering in hope even now the blessedness of the world to come,—and to associate with Angels, being still on earth, leaving the earth and raised aloft by the spirit. Whoso of you is smitten with this love, knows what I say, and will be indulgent to my then feeling."—Orat. 1.
He professes that he could not bring himself to make a great risk, and to venture ambitiously, but preferred to be safe and sure. "Who is there when he has not yet devoted himself and learned to receive God's hidden wisdom in mystery, being yet a babe, yet fed on milk, yet unnumbered in Israel, yet unenlisted in God's army, yet unable to take up Christ's Cross as a man, not yet an honoured member of Him at all, who would in spite of this submit with joy and readiness to be placed at the head of Christ's fulness *? No one, if I am to be his counsellor; for this is the greatest of alarms.this the extreme of dangers, to every one who understands the preciousness of success, and the ruin which attends on failure. Let another sail for traffick, so I said, and cross the expanse of ocean, and keep constant company with winds and waves, to gain much, if so be, and to risk much. This may suit a man apt in sailing, apt in trafficking; but what I prefer is to remain on land, to plough a small glebe and a dear one, to pay distant compliments to lucre and the sea, and thus to live, as I may be able, with a small and scanty loaf, and to lead on a life safe and surgeless, not to risk a vast and mighty danger for mighty gains. To a lofty mind, indeed, it is a penalty not to attempt great things, not to exercise his powers upon many persons, but to abide in what is small, as if lighting a small house with a great light, or covering a child's body with a youth's armour; but to the small it is safety to carry a small burden, not, by undertaking things beyond his powers, both to incur ridicule and a risk; just as to build a tower becomes him only who has wherewith to finish."— Orat. 1.
It is notorious that the gentle and humble-minded Gregory proved himself unequal to the government of the Church and province of Constantinople, which were as unworthy as they were impatient of him.
i Vide Eph. i. 23.
Charges of his incompetency formed part of the ground on which a successful opposition was made to him in the second General Council. What notions, however, his enemies had of fitness, is plain, from the following extract. The truth is, Gregory was in no sense what is called, rightly or wrongly, a party man, and while he was deficient, perhaps, in the sagacity, keenness, vigour, and decision for which a public man too often incurs the reproach of that name; he also had that kindness of heart, dispassionateness, and' placability which more justly avail to rescue a person from it. It was imputed to him that he was not severe enough with his fallen persecutors. He thus replies :—
"Consider what is charged against me. 'So much time is passed,' they say, 'of your governing the Church, with the crisis in your favour, and the emperor's influence, so great a thing. What symptom of the change is there? How many persecutors had we before! what misery did we not suffer! what insults, what threats, what exiles, what plunderings, what confiscations, what burnings of our clergy at sea, what temples profaned with blood of saints, and for temples made charnel-houses! What has followed! We have become stronger than our persecutors, and have escaped!' So it is. For me it is enough of vengeance upon our injurers, to have the power of retaliation. But these objectors think otherwise: for they are very precise and righteous in the matter of reprisals, and therefore they claim what belongs to the opportunity. 'What prefect,' they ask, 'has been punished? or populace brought to their senses? or incendiaries? what fear of ourselves have we secured to us for the time to come?" —Orat. 32.
Gregory had by far too little pomp and pretence to satisfy a luxurious and fastidious city. They wanted "a king like the nations;" a man who had a presence, who would figure and parade and rustle in silk, and hold forth and lay down the law, and be what is thought dignified and grand; whereas they had no one but "poor, dear, good Gregory," a monk of Nazianzus, a personage, who, in spite of his acknowledged eloquence, was but a child, had no knowledge of the world, no manners, no conversation, and no address; who was flurried and put out in high society, and who would have been singularly ill-adapted to keep a modern vestry in order. "Perhaps, too," he continues, "they may cast this slur upon me, as indeed they have, that 1 do not keep a good table, nor dress respectably; and that there is a want of style when I go abroad, and a want of pomp when people address me. Certainly, I forgot that I had to rival consuls and prefects and illustrious commanders, who have more wealth than they know where to squander. If all this is heinous, it has slipped my mind; forgive me this wrong; choose a ruler instead of me, who will please the many; restore me to solitude, to rusticity, and to God, whom only I shall please, though in my narrow circumstances."
And shortly before, "This is my character: I do not concur in many points with the many; I cannot persuade myself to walk their pace; this may be rudeness and awkwardness, but still it is my character. What to others are pleasures, annoy me; and what I am pleased with, annoy others. Indeed, it would not surprise me, even were I put into confinement as a nuisance, and considered to he without common wits by the multitude, as is said to have happened to a Greek philosopher, whose good sense was accused of heing derangement, because he made jest of all things, seeing that the serious objects of the many were really ridiculous; or if I were accounted full of new wine, as Christ's disciples from their speaking with tongues, the power of the Spirit being mistaken in them for excitement of mind."— Ibid.
He has a similar passage, written after his resignation, in verse, which must here be unworthily exhibited in prose. "This good," he says, "alone will be free, and secure from restraint or capture; a mind raised up to Christ. No more shall I be entertained by mortal prince, as heretofore; I, Gregory, to pack a few comforts in me, set down in the midst, bashful and speechless, not breathing freely, feasting like a slave. No magistrate shall punish me with a certain seat, or a certain neighbour, giving its due place to a grovelling spirit. No more shall I clasp blood-stained hands, or take hold of beard, to gain some small favour. Nor hurrying with a crowd to sacred feast of birthday, burial, or marriage, shall I seize on all I can, some for my jaws, and some for attendants with their greedy palms, like Briareus's; and then carrying myself off, a breathing grave, late in the evening, drag along homeward my ailing carcase, worn out, panting with satiety, yet hastening to another fat feast, before I have shaken off the former infliction."—Carm. 10. One who is used to bread and water is overset by even a family dinner; much less could Gregory bear a city feast or conservative banquet.
When he had retired back to Asia, first he had stayed for a time at Nazianzus; thence he went to Arianzus, the place of his birth. Here he passed the whole of Lent without speaking, with a view of gaining command over his tongue, in which, as in other respects, he painfully felt his existing deficiency. He writes the following notes to a friend:—
"You ask what my silence means? it means measurement of speaking and not speaking. For he who can do it in whole, will more easily do it in part. Besides, it allays anger, when it is not brought out into words, but is extinguished in itself."—Ep. 96. Again: "I do not forbid your coming to me; though my tongue be still, my ears shall be gladly open to your conversation; since to hear what is fitting is not less precious than to speak it."—97. And again: "I am silent in conversation, as learning to speak what I ought to speak; moreover, I am exercising myself in mastery of the passions. If this satisfies the inquirer, it is well; if not, at least silence brings this gain, that I have not to enter into explanations."—98.
Gregory was now fifty-two or three; there is something very remarkable in a man so advanced in life taking such vigorous measures to overcome himself.
The following passages from his poems allude to the same, or similar infirmities :—
I lost, O Lord, the use of yesterday;
Anger came on, and stole ray heart away.
O may I find this morn some inward-piercing ray!
The serpent comes anew! 1 hold thy feet,
0 David! list, and strike thy harp-strings sweet!
Hence! choking spirit, hence! for saintly minds unmeet.
Some temptation or other is alluded to in the following poems; though perhaps it is not fair to make a poet responsible, in his own person, for all he speaks as if from himself.
1 rise, and yield my clasped hands to thee!
Henceforth no deed of dark shall trouble me,
Thy sacrifice this day;
Calm, stationed at my post, and with free soul
Stemming the waves of passion as they roll.
Ah! should I from Thee stray,
My hoary head, Thy table where I bow,
Will be my shame, which are mine honour now.
Thus I set out ;—Lord! lead me on my way!
O Holiest Truth! how have I lied to Thee!
This day I vowed Thy festival to be;
Yet I am dark ere night.
Surely I made my prayer, and I did deem
That I could keep in me Thy morning beam:
Ah! my unreal might!
My feet have slipped, and, as I lay, he came,
My gloomy foe, and robbed me of heaven's flame.
Help Thou my darkness, Lord! till I am light.
In the verses on Morning, an allusion may be observed to his priesthood. The following lines bear a more express reference :—
In service o'er the mystic feast I stand,
I cleanse Thy victim-flock, and bring them near
In holiest wise, and by a bloodless rite.
0 bounteous blaze! O gushing Fount of Light!
(As best I know, who need Thy cleansing hand,)
Dread office this, bemired souls to clear
Of their defilement, and again make bright.
The foregoing lines may have an allusion which introduces us to the following, which are on a subject to which I have already invited the reader's attention, and shall again.
As viewing sin, e'en in its faintest trace1,
Murder in wrath, and in the wanton oath
The perjured tongue, and therefore shunning them,
So deem'd I safe a strict virginity.
And hence our ample choir of holiest souls
Are followers of the unfleshly seraphim,
And Him who 'mid them reigns in lonely light
These, one and all, rush towards the thought of death,
And hope of second life, with single heart,
Loosed from the law and chain of marriage vow.
For I was but a captive at my birth,
Sin my first being, till its base discipline
Revolted me towards a nobler path.
Then Christ drew near me, and the Virgin-born
Spoke the new call to join His virgin-train.
So now towards highest heaven my innocent brow
1 raise exultingly, sans let or bond,
Leaving no heir of this poor tabernacle
To ape me when my proper frame is broke;
But solitary with my only God,
And truest souls to bear me company.
It so happens that we have a vast deal of Gregory's
1 Fertur S. Basilii districta sententia. Et mulierem, inquit, ignoro, et virgo non sum. In tantum intellexit incorruptionem carnis non tarn in mulieris esse abstinentia, quam in integritate cordis.—Cassian. Instit. vi. 19.
poetry, which he doubtless never intended for publication, but which formed the recreation of his retirement. From one of these compositions, the following playful extract, on the same subject, is selected :—
As when the hand some mimic form would paint,
It marks its purpose first in shadows faint,
And next its stores of varied hues applies,
Till outlines fade, and the full limbs arise;
So the Lord's holy choice, the virgin heart,
Once held in duty but a humble part,
When the Law swayed us in Religion's youth,
Spelling, with lustre pale, the angelic truth.
But, when the Christ came by a virgin-birth,— >
His radiant chariot-course from heaven to earth,—
And, spurning father for His mortal state,
Did Eve and all her daughters consecrate;
Solved fleshly laws, and in the letter's place
Gave us the Spirit and the word of grace;—
Then shone the glorious Celibate at length,
Robed in the dazzling lightnings of its strength,
Breaking earth's spell, excelling marriage-vow, .
As soul the body,—heaven this world below,
The eternal peace of saints life's troubled span,
And the high throne of God the haunts of man.
So now there circles round the King of Light,
A heaven on earth, a blameless court and bright,
Aiming as emblems of their God to shine,
Christ in their heart, and on their brow His sign,
Soft funeral lights in the world's twilight dim,
Seeing their God, and ever one with Him.
Ye countless brethren of the marriage-band,
Slaves of the enfeebled heart and plighted hand!
I see you bear aloft your haughty gaze,
Gems deck your hair, and silk your limbs arrays,
Come, tell the gain which wedlock has conferred
On man; and then the single shall be heard.
The married many thus might plead, I wean;
Full glib their tongue, full confident their mien:—
"Hear, all who live! to whom the nuptial rite
Has brought the privilege of life and light,
We, who are wedded, but the law obey,
Stamped at creation on our blood and clay,
What time the Demiurge our line began,
Oped Adam's side, and out of man drew man.
Thenceforth let children of a mortal sod
Honour the law of earth, the primal law of God.
"List, you shall hear the gifts of price that lie
Gathered and bound within the marriage-tie.
Who taught the arts of life, the truths that sleep
In earth, or highest heaven, or vasty deep 1
Who raised the town 1—who-gave the type and germ
Of social union, and of sceptre firm?
Who filled the mart, and urged the vessel brave
To link in one far countries o'er the wave 1
Who the first husbandman, the glebe to plough,
And rear the garden, but the marriage-vow?
"Nay, list again! who seek its kindly chain,
A second self, a double presence gain;
Hands, eyes, and ears, to act or suffer here,
Till e'en the weak inspire both love and fear—
A comrade's sigh, to soothe when cares annoy—
A comrade's smile, to elevate his joy.
"Nor say it binds to an ungodly life;
When want is urgent, prayers and vows are rife.
Light heart he bears, who has no yoke at home,
Scant need of blessings as the seasons come.
But wife, and offspring, and the treasured hoard,
Raise us in dread and faith towards the Lord.
Take love away, and life would be defaced,
A ghastly vision on the mountain-waste,
Heartless, and stern, bereft of the soft charm
Which steals from age its woes, from passion's sting its harm.
No child's sweet pranks once more to make us young;
No ties of place about our heart-strings flung;
No public haunts to cheer; no festive tide,
Where harmless mirth and smiling wit preside;
A life, which scorns the gifts which heaven assigned,
Nor knows the sympathy of human kind.
"Prophets and teachers, priests and victor kings,
Decked with each grace, which heaven-taught nature brings,
These were no giant offspring of the earth,
But to the marriage-promise owe their birth:—
Moses and Samuel, David, David's son,
The blessed Tishbite, and more blessed John,
The sacred twelve in apostolic choir,
Strong-hearted Paul, instinct with seraph-fire,
And others, now or erst, who to high heaven aspire.
Bethink ye; should the single state be best,
Yet who the single, but my offspring blest?
My sons, be still, nor with your parents strive,
They wedded in their day, and so ye live."
Thus Marriage pleads. Now let her rival speak;
Dim is her downcast eye, and pale her cheek;
Untrimmed her gear; no sandals on her feet;
A sparest form for austere tenant meet.
She drops her veil her modest face around,
And her lips open, but we hear no sound.
I will address her:—" Hail! O child of heaven,
Glorious within! to whom a post is given
Hard by the throne, where Angels bow and fear,
E'en while thou hast a name and mission here,
0 deign thy voice, unveil thy brow, and see
Thy ready guard and minister in me.
Oft hast thou come heaven-wafted to my breast,
Bright Spirit! so come again, and give me rest!"
..." Ah! who has hither drawn my backward feet,
Changing for worldly strife my lone retreat?
Where, in the silent chant of holy deeds,
1 praise my God, and tend the sick soul's needs;
By toils of day, and vigils of the night,
By gushing tears, and blessed lustral rite.
I have no sway amid the crowd, no art
In speech, no place in council or in mart;
Nor human law, nor judges throned on high,
Smile on my face, and grant my words reply.
Let others seek earth's honours; be it mine
One law to cherish, and to track one line;
Straight on towards heaven to press with single bent,
To know and love my God, and then to die content."
It would take up too much time to continue the poem, of which I have attempted the above rude and very free translation, as indeed are all the foregoing; nor is it to the purpose to set forth at length before the reader of the present day a formal defence and recommendation of celibacy, though there is no reason why Gregory should not have his own opinion about it as well as another.
I end with one or two stanzas, which give an account of the place and circumstances of his retirement. I am obliged again to warn the reader, that he must not fancy he has gained an idea of Gregory's poetry from my attempts at translation; and should it be objected that this is not treating Gregory well, I answer, that at least I am as true to the original as if I exhibited it in plain prose.
Some one hinted yesterday
Of the rich and fashionable,
"Gregory, in his own small way,
Easy was, and comfortable.
"Had he not of wealth his fill,
Whom a garden gay did bless,
A nd a gently trickling rill,
And the sweets of idleness V'
I made answer, " Is it ease,
Fasts to keep, and tears to shed 1
Vigil hours and wounded knees,
Call you such a pleasant bed?
"Thus a veritable monk
Does to death his fleshly frame; Be there who in sloth are sunk,
They have forfeited the name."