« ZurückWeiter »
shown us. So the pious pastor preceding, the affrighted sheep of Christ went with him to the entrance of the burial place, and seeing the black and hideous corpse, he said, I command you in the name of the Lord, that you tell me who you are, and wherefore you come here to delude the people of Christ? To whom the corpse made answer, I have not come here to affright the people, neither to deceive them, most holy father Augustine; but when on the part of God' you commanded, that no excommunicated person should be present at the solemnities of mass, then the angels of God, who always are the companions of your journeys, cast me from the place where I was buried, saying, that Augustine, the friend of God, had commanded the stinking flesh to be cast out of the church. For in the time of the Britons, before the fury of the heathen Angles had laid waste this kingdom, I was the patron of this town: and, although I was admonished often by the priest of this church, yet I never would consent to give my tithes ; but at last, being condemned by him in the sentence of excommunication, ah! me miserable! in the midst of these things I was cut off, and being buried in the place from whence I have now risen, I delivered up my soul to the infernal demons, continually to be tormented with hell fires. Then all who were present wept when they heard this : and the saint himself, plentifully bedewing his face with tears, and manifesting the great grief of his heart by frequent sighs, said to him, Knowest thou the place where the priest who excommunicated thee was buried? He answered that he knew it well, and that he had his grave in that same cemetery. Augustine said, Go before us then, and show us the place.
"The dead man then went before, and came to a certain place nigh unto the church, where there appeared no sign of any sepulchre, the bishop and all the people following him. And he said with a clear voice, Behold
the spot, dig here, if it please you, and you will find the bones of the priest concerning whom you ask. Then by command of the pontiff they began to dig, and at length they found a few bones buried very deep in the ground, and by reason of the length of time turned green. But the servant of God inquired if these were the bones of the priest, and the dead man answered, Yes, father. Then St Augustine, having poured forth a long prayer, said, To the end that all may know, that life and death are in the hands of our Lord, to whom nothing is impossible, I say unto thee in his name, Brother, arise ! we have need of thee! O marvellous thing, and unheard of by human ears! at the command of the devout priest, all they who were present saw the dust unite itself to dust, and the bones join together with nerves, and thus at last an animated human form raised from the grave. And the blessed man, when he stood before him, said, Knowest thou this person, brother? He made answer, I know him, father, and wish that I had not known him. The benevolent priest rejoined, Hast thou bound him with an anathema? I have bound him, he replied, and worthily, according to his deserts; for he was a rebel in all things against the holy church: he was always a withholder of his tithes, and moreover, a perpetrator of many crimes even to the last day of his life. Then the man of God, Augustine, groaned deeply, and said, Brother, thou knowest that the mercy of God is upon all his works! therefore it behoves us also to have compassion upon the creature and image of God, redeemed by his
ecious blood, who now for so long a time shut up in a dark prison has endured infernal punishments. Then he delivered to him a whip, and the corpse kneeling before him, and asking absolution with tears, the dead man absolved the dead man, through the great bounty of the grace of God, for manifesting the merits of his servant Augustine. When he was thus absolved, the
saint commanded him that he should return to the sepulchre, and there await the last day in peace. He forthwith returning to the place from whence he had been seen to rise, entered the grave, and quickly was resolved into dust and ashes. Then said the saint to the priest, How long hast thou lain here? He answered, An hundred and fifty years, and more. How, said he, hath it been with thee until this time? Well, he replied, I have been placed in the joys of our Lord, and present in the delight of eternal life. Wouldst thou, said Augustine, that I should pray to our common Lord, that you may return to us again, and sowing with us the seeds of the gospel, bring back to their Creator souls which have been deceived by diabolical fraud? Far be it from you, O venerable father, he replied, that you should disturb my soul, and make me return to this laborious and painful life. O great and entire confidence in the mercy of God! O glorious consciousness of a most excellent heart, which doubted not that God was so powerful, and merciful, and that himself had deserved so much, that he should deign by him to perform so magnificent a miracle! This, peradventure, may seem impossible to those who believe that any thing can be impossible to God: yet it can be a doubt to none, that unless it had been for great miracles, the stubborn necks of the English would never have submitted to the yoke of Christ. But the blessed Augustine, seeing that the priest would not consent to come again into the ways of this life, said, Go, dearest brother, and remain for a long term of years in peace, and pray for me, and for the universal holy church of God. And the priest entered into the sepulchre, and presently was turned into dust and ashes. Then the holy bishop, turning to the soldier, said to him, Son, how is it now? Do you consent to render your tithes to God, or are you disposed to continue in your obstinacy? But the soldier fell at his feet,
trembling, and weeping, and crying, and confessing his guilt, and imploring forgiveness. And having forsaken all other things, he cut off his hair, and followed the blessed Augustine all the days of his life, as the author of his salvation. And being thus made perfect in all purity of mind and body, he closed his last day, and entered the joys of eternal felicity, to live without end."
"WELL, after all that has been lectured by criticism," said Egeria one evening, about an hour after tea, laying down Mr Sotheby's poem of Saul," it certainly is not in the thought and conception, but in the expression and the execution, that the excellence of poetry consists. This work, both in point of thought and conception, possesses many beautiful passages; but in general their expression and execution seldom exceed mediocrity. For example, I do not know a finer idea in any poem than Mr Sotheby's theory, if we may use the expression, of Saul's frenzy. He supposes the unhappy king to be haunted by a spectre, which successively assumes his own form and character, as in the days of his pastoral innocence, and tortures him with the afflicting contrast of those blameless times, before he had known the cares of royalty or felt the pangs of remorse. But, though elegantly versified, it lacks of the energy and simplicity of natural feeling. The first form in which
the demon appears, is that of a beautiful youth in shepherd's weeds, who addresses the entranced monarch in these polished strains :"
Up from thy couch of wo, and join my path;
Thy fancy shaped its pliant growth; 'twas spring!
'I come, I come, fair angel,' Saul exclaims.