Open main menu

Page:EB1911 - Volume 03.djvu/740

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

put down abuses they attempted to poison him. He returned to his cave, but disciples flocked to him, and in time he formed twelve monasteries in the neighbourhood, placing twelve monks in each, and himself retaining a general control over all. In time patricians and senators from Rome entrusted their young sons to his care, to be brought up as monks; in this manner came to him his two best-known disciples, Maurus and Placidus. Driven from Subiaco by the jealousy and molestations of a neighbouring priest, but leaving behind him communities in his twelve monasteries, he himself, accompanied by a small band of disciples, journeyed south until he came to Cassino, a town halfway between Rome and Naples. Climbing the high mountain that overhangs the town, he established on the summit the monastery with which his name has ever since been associated, and which for centuries was a chief centre of religious life for western Europe. He destroyed the remnants of paganism that lingered on here, and by his preaching gained the rustic population to Christianity. Few other facts of his career are known: there is record of his founding a monastery at Terracina; his death must have occurred soon after Totila’s visit in 543.

Rule of St Benedict.—In order to understand St Benedict’s character and spirit, and to discover the secret of the success of his institute, it is necessary, as St Gregory says, to turn to his Rule. St Gregory’s characterization of the Rule as “conspicuous for its discretion” touches the most essential quality. The relation of St Benedict’s Rule to earlier monastic rules, and of his institute to the prevailing monachism of his day, is explained in the article Monasticism. Here it is enough to say that nowadays it is commonly recognized by students that the manner of life instituted by St Benedict was not intended to be, and as a matter of fact was not, one of any great austerity, when judged by the standard of his own day (see E. C. Butler, Lausiac History of Palladius, part i. pp. 251-256). His monks were allowed proper clothes, sufficient food, ample sleep. The only bodily austerities were the abstinence from flesh meat and the unbroken fast till mid-day or even 3 P.M., but neither would appear so onerous in Italy even now, as to us in northern climes. Midnight office was no part of St Benedict’s Rule: the time for rising for the night office varied from 1.30 to 3.0, according to the season, and the monks had had unbroken sleep for 7½ or even 8 hours, except in the hot weather, when in compensation they were allowed the traditional Italian summer siesta after the mid-day meal. The canonical office was chanted throughout, but the directly religious duties of the day can hardly have taken more than 4 or 5 hours—perhaps 8 on Sundays. The remaining hours of the day were divided between work and reading, in the proportion (on the average of the whole year) of about 6 and 4 hours respectively. The “reading” in St Benedict’s time was probably confined to the Bible and the Fathers. The “work” contemplated by St Benedict was ordinarily field work, as was natural in view of the conditions of the time and best suited to the majority of the monks; but the principle laid down is that the monks should do whatever work is most useful. There were from the beginning young boys in the monastery, who were educated by the monks according to the ideas of the time. We have seen St Benedict evangelizing the pagan population round Monte Cassino; and a considerable time each day is assigned to the reading of the Fathers. Thus the germs of all the chief works carried on by his monks in later ages were to be found in his own monastery.

The Rule consists of a prologue and 73 chapters. Though it has resisted all attempts to reduce it to an ordered scheme, and probably was not written on any set plan, still it is possible roughly to indicate its contents: after the prologue and introductory chapter setting forth St Benedict’s intention, follow instructions to the abbot on the manner in which he should govern his monastery (2,3); next comes the ascetical portion of the Rule, on the chief monastic virtues (4-7); then the regulations for the celebration of the canonical office, which St Benedict calls “the Work of God” or “the divine work,” his monks’ first duty, “of which nothing is to take precedence” (8-20); faults and punishments (23-30); the cellarer and property of the monastery (31, 32); community of goods (33, 34); various officials and daily life (21, 22, 35-57); reception of monks (58-61); miscellaneous (62-73).

The most remarkable chapters, in which St Benedict’s wisdom stands out most conspicuously, are those on the abbot (2,3, 27,64). The abbot is to govern the monastery with full and unquestioned patriarchal authority; on important matters he must consult the whole community and hear what each one, even the youngest, thinks; on matters of less weight he should consult a few of the elder monks; but in either case the decision rests entirely with him, and all are to acquiesce. He must, however, bear in mind that he will have to render an account of all his decisions and to answer for the souls of all his monks before the judgment seat of God. Moreover, he has to govern in accordance with the Rule, and must endeavour, while enforcing discipline and implanting virtues, not to sadden or “overdrive” his monks, or give them cause for “just murmuring.” In these chapters pre-eminently appears that element of “discretion,” as St Gregory calls it, or humanism as it would now be termed, which without doubt has been a chief cause of the success of the Rule. There is as yet no satisfactory text of the Rule, either critical or manual; the best manual text is Schmidt’s editio minor (Regensburg, 1892). Of the many commentaries the most valuable are those of Paulus Diaconus (the earliest, c. 800), of Calmet and of Martène (Migne, Patrol. Lat. lxvi.).

Authorities.—An old English translation of St Gregory’s Dialogues is reprinted in the Quarterly Series (Burns & Oates). On St Benedict’s life and Rule see Montalembert, Monks of the West, bk. iv.; Abbate L. Tosti, S. Benedetto (translated 1896); also Indexes to standard general histories of the period; Thomas Hodgkin’s Italy and Her Invaders and Gregorovius’ History of the City of Rome may be specially mentioned. But by far the best summaries in English are those contained in the relevant portions of F. H. Dudden’s Gregory the Great (1905), i. 107-115, ii. 160-169; on the recent criticism of the text and contents of the Rule, see Otto Zöckler, Askese und Mönchtum (1897), 355-371; and E. C. Butler, articles in Downside Review, December 1899, and Journal of Theological Studies, April 1902.

 (E. C. B.) 

BENEDICT, SIR JULIUS (1804-1885), musical composer, was born in Stuttgart on the 27th of November 1804. He was the son of a Jewish banker, and learnt composition from Hummel at Weimar and Weber at Dresden; with the latter he enjoyed for three years an intimacy like that of a son, and it was Weber who introduced him in Vienna to Beethoven on the 5th of October 1823. In the same year he was appointed Kapellmeister of the Kärnthnerthor theatre at Vienna, and two years later (in 1825) he became Kapellmeister of the San Carlo theatre at Naples. Here his first opera, Giacinta ed Ernesto, was brought out in 1829, and another, written for his native city, I Portoghesi in Goa, was given there in 1830; neither of these was a great success, and in 1834 he went to Paris, leaving it in 1835 at the suggestion of Malibran for London, where he spent the remainder of his life. In 1836 he was given the conductorship of an operatic enterprise at the Lyceum Theatre, and brought out a short opera, Un anno ed un giorno, previously given in Naples. In 1838 he became conductor of the English opera at Drury Lane during the period of Balfe’s great popularity; his own operas produced there were The Gipsy’s Warning (1838), The Bride of Venice (1843), and The Crusaders (1846). In 1848 he conducted Mendelssohn’s Elijah at Exeter Hall, for the first appearance of Jenny Lind in oratorio, and in 1850 he went to America as the accompanist on that singer’s tour. On his return in 1852 he became musical conductor under Mapleson’s management at Her Majesty’s theatre (and afterwards at Drury Lane), and in the same year conductor of the Harmonic Union. Benedict wrote recitatives for the production of an Italian version of Weber’s Oberon in 1860. In the same year was produced his beautiful cantata Undine at the Norwich festival, in which Clara Novello appeared in public for the last time. His best-known opera, The Lily of Killarney, written on the subject of Dion Boucicault’s play Colleen Bawn to a libretto by Oxenford, was produced at Covent Garden in 1862. His operetta, The Bride of Song, was brought out there in 1864. St Cecilia, an oratorio, was performed at the Norwich festival in 1886; St Peter at the Birmingham