G. G. (George Gordon) Coulton.

A medieval garner; human documents from the four centuries preceding the reformation online

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covered and darkened with thick clouds which, growing
little by little, came even to them as they climbed ;
wherefore, finding themselves within the dark cloud
and groping their way with their hands, they escaped
with much difficulty through this darkness ; for it
seemed to them (as they said), that stones were hurled
dowTi upon them from above ; and they report that
the like had happened to others also. Now on that
summit nought is to be seen on one side but the wild
forest ; but men say that on the other side is a lake
of vast extent, and a meadow. This same old man-
was wont to tell of a certain most virtuous marquis,
named Arduin, who, having often heard the country-
folk tell of the treasure heaped up on that mountain,
was kindled with the fire of covetousness and bade
forthmth that certain clerks should hasten to ascend
Avith him to the summit. These, therefore, taking a
cross and holy water and royal banners and singing
their litanies, went on their way ; yet before they had

1 6 A Medieval Garner,

reached the summit of the mountain they must needs
turn back with shame, even as the others.

Alpinists may be interested to compare this with two other extracts
illustrative of early mountaineering. No. 6 is from Vincent of Beauvais
(Speculum Historiale, lib. i., c. 8+) ; and No. 7 from the Chronicle of
JBrother Salimbene, who died in 1288 (Mon. Germ. Hist. Scriptt. tom.
xxxii., p. 598.)

6.— anot&er,

ETRUS Comestor [died a.d. 1198] saith that
Mount Olympus riseth even to the clear
aether, wherefore letters written in the dust
on the summit of that mountain have been
found unchanged after the lapse of a whole
year. Neither can birds live there, by reason of the
rarefaction of the air, nor could the Philosophers who
have ascended it remain there even for a brief space
of time, without sponges soaked in water, which they
applied to their nostrils and sucked thence a denser air.

7.— anotbev*

iHIS King Peter of Aragon,* was a man of
magnificent heart and a strong man armed
and skilled in war ... as may be seen
also from this example which I here sub-
join. On the confines of Provence and
Spain rises an exceeding high mountain called by
the men of those parts Mont Canigou \Canigosus\
and which we may call Mount Dismal [Caliginosus].
This is the first mountain which seafarers mark
at their coming, and the last which they see at
their departure, after which they see no more land.
On this mountain no man dwells, nor had any son of
man dared to climb it on account of its enormous

* Pedro III, of Aragon, died in 1285. He was the rival of Charles
of Anjou, and is placed by Dante in the Vallev of Flowers. {Purg.
vii., 112—125).

Early Alpinism. i?

height and the difficulty and travail of the way ; but
around its roots men dwell. When therefore Peter of
Aragon had purposed to climb this mountain, wishing
to learn by the sight of his own eyes what was on its
summit, he called two knights who were his familiar
friends, and whom he loved \\dth all his heart ; to
whom he expounded that which he proposed to do.
They rejoiced and promised him not only to keep his
purpose secret, but also never to leave him. Where-
fore they took provisions and all fit weapons, and,
(lea\dng their horses at the foot of the mountain, where
are the dwellings of men) they began to climb Uttle by
little on foot. When, therefore, they had climbed far
higher, there they began to hear horrible and most
dreadful thunderclaps : moreover, flashes of lightning
burst forth, and tempests of hail came down, whereat
they were all dismayed and, falling to the ground, were
as it were bereft of life for fear and expectation of
what had come upon them. But Peter, who was brave
and more vigorous than they, and who wished to fulfil
the desire of his heart, comforted them, lest they should
faint amid those afflictions and terrors, sapng that
this labour should yet redound to their honour and
glory. So he gave them to eat, and himself ate with
them ; and, after this rest from the weariness and
travail of the way, he exhorted them again to go up vali-
antly mth him. Thus he said, and thus they did, many
times over. But at last these two companions of King
Peter began to faint, so that they could scarce breathe
for utter weariness of the way and for fear of the
thunderbolts. Then Peter asked them to await him
there until the morrow at eventide ; and then, if he
came not back, to descend the mountain and go
whithersoever they would. So Peter went up alone
wdth great travail of body ; and, having come to the
top of the mountain, he found there a lake, into which
he cast a stone. Then a monstrous dragon of loathly
aspect issued therefrom, hovering round in the air until
the face of heaven was darkened with the vapour of
his breath ; after which Peter came down to his com-
panions and told them fully of all that he had seen and

1 8 A Medieval Garner.

done. And, as they went down from that mountain,
he bade them pubHsh this abroad to whomsoever they
would. Methinks that this achievement of Peter of
Aragon may be reckoned with those of Alexander, who
would exercise himself in many fearfvil deeds and
works, that he might earn the praise of posterity.

Ekkehard (suxnamed Junior), fourth of the five writers of that name
at the famous monastery of St. Gallen, lived from about 980 to about
1060. He wrote a History of the Vicissitudes of St. Gallen, which is full
of human touches, and was freely used by SchefEel in his novel of
Ekkehard. A good deal of the matter contained in the first
pages here given may be found in S. R. Maitland's epoch-making
Dark Ages, which has destroyed for ever a mmiber of important
misapprehensions concerning the Middle Ages, and only falls into the
almost unavoidable error of exaggerating in the opposite direction.
The Notkers, hke the Ekkehards, were numerous at St. Gallen.
One earned by his peculiarities the nickname of Peppercorn {Piperis
Granum) ; another was Lippy (Laheo) ; and the hero of the present
extract was the Stammerer {Balbus). He it was who wrote the
immortal funeral sequence, " In the midst of life we are in death."
His tomb was worshipped for centuries in his own monastery,
and he was formally canonized in 1513. The text is that of Goldast,
Rerum Alamannicarum Scriptores, Frankfort 1730.

8.~Ct)c Cf)rce 3lnsepatat)lcs.

(c. 3, p. 23).

WILL tell now of Notker, Ratpert, and
Tutilo, since they were one heart and soul,
and formed together a sort of trinity in
unity. . . . Yet, though so close in heart,
in their natures (as it often happens) they
were most diverse. Notker was frail in body, though
not in mind, a stammerer in voice but not in spirit ; lofty
in divine thoughts, patient in adversity, gentle in every-
thing, strict in enforcing the discipline of our convent,
yet somewhat timid in sudden and unexpected alarms,
except in the assaults of demons, whom he always
withstood manfully. He was most assiduous in illumi-
nating, reading, and composing ; and (that I may
embrace all his gifts of holiness within a brief compass)

Three Inseparables, 19

he was a vessel of the Holy Ghost, as full as any other
of his own time. But Tutilo was widely different. He
was strong and supple in arm and hmb, such a man as
Fabius tells us to choose for an athlete ; ready of
speech, clear of voice, a delicate carver and painter ;
musical, with especial skill on the harp and the flute ;
for the Abbot gave him a cell wherein he taught the
harp to the sons of noble famihes around. He was a
crafty messenger, to run far or near ; skilled in building
and all the kindred arts ; he had a natural gift of ready
and forcible expression whether in German or in Latin,
in earnest or in jest ; so that the emperor Charles [the
Fat] once said, " Devil take the fellow who made so
gifted a man into a monk ! "* But with all this he had
liigher gifts : in choir he was mighty, and in secret
prayer he had the gift of tears ; a most excellent
cornposer of poetry and melodies, yet chaste, as
became the disciple of our Master Marcellus, who shut
his eyes against women. Ratpert, again, was midway
between the other two. Master of the Schools from
his youth, a straightforward and kindly teacher, he
was somewhat harsh in discipline, more loth than all
the other Brethren to set foot without the cloister, and
wearing but two pairs of shoes in the twelvemonth.
He called it death to go forth, and oftentimes warned
Tutilo to take heed to himself upon his journeys ;t in
the schools he was most assiduous. He oftentimes
omitted the services and the mass, and would say,
" We hear good masses when we teach others to sing

* A couple of pages later, the chronicler records an exploit of Tutilo's
against two robbers who set upon him in the forest.

f See Chap. LXVI. of St. Benedict's rule : " The monastery, if
possible, should be so built that all things necessary — that is, water,
the mill, the garden, the bakery, and the different arts— may be
exercised within the precincts, so that the monks be not compelled to
wander outside, which is altogether unprofitable to their souls. We
will that this rule be oftentimes read in the congregation, lest any
Brother excuse himself on the plea of ignorance." Chaucer has im-
mortahzed St. Anthony's saying that a monk out of his cloister is in
as grievous peril of death as a fish out of water : yet few points of the
Rule have been more persistently neglected during the past thousand
years. A few pages further on, we find Tutilo carving statues at Metz.

20 A Medieval Garner.

them." Though he would say that impunity was the
worst plague of cloister-Hfe, yet he never came to the
Chapter-house* without special summons, since he
bore that most heavy burden (as he called it) of
reproving and punishing.

These three senators of our RepubHc being such as
they were, yet they suffered constantly (as learned and
strenuous men must ever suffer) the detractions and
backbiting of such as stagnated in sloth or walked in
frivohty ; more especially, since he was the less ready
to defend himself, that saint (as indeed he was) Dom
Notker ; for Tutilo and Ratpert, who were of sharper
temper and less patient under contumely, were more
rarely attacked by such folk. But Notker, the gentlest
of men, learned in his own person what insults meant :
I will here cite but one example, wherefrom thou
mayest judge the rest and know how great is Satan's
presumption in such things. There was here a certain
Refectorer named Sindolf, who afterwards by feigned
obsequiousness, (for there was no other use in the man),
and by bringing false accusations against the Brethren,
wormed himself into the grace of Abbot Solomon, who
promoted him to the Clerkship of the Works. Yet
even as Refectorer he showed evil for good so far as he
had dared, and more especially against Notker. Now
Solomon was busied with many things and unable to
look closely into every matter ; wherefore many of the
Brethren, seeing their food sometimes withdrawn and
sometimes tainted, would accuse him of injustice ;
among whom these Three seemed sometimes to have
said something [of the kind]. But Sindolf, who ever
fomented discord, knomng that ancient spark which
had kindled ill-will between these schoolfellows, t
wormed himself into Solomon's confidence as one who
would tell him a matter concerning Ms own honour ;
and he, though he knew that nothing is more harmful

* In which faiilts were daily confessed or pointed out, and " dis-
cipline " inflicted in pubhc, after morning mass.

t The four had been schoolfellows in the monastery under Marcellus ;
and Solomon, the aptest of them all for worldly business, was now
promoted far above the others' heads.

Three Inseparables. 2r

for prelates than to give ear to whisperings from their
subjects, yet asked of Sindolf's tidings. Then the Har
told how those Three, ever wont to speak against the
Abbot, had on the day before uttered things intolerable
to God. The Abbot believed his words, and conceived
against his unsuspecting fellows a grudge which he
soon showed openly. They, unable to learn aught
from him concerning the ground of their offence,
guessed that they had been ensnared by Sindolf's wiles.
At length, when the matter had been debated among
the Brethren, and they, mth the concurrent testimony
of the rest, had convinced the Bishop* that they had
said nothing whatever against him, then all demanded
vengeance upon the false witness ; but the Bishop
dissembled, and they tacitly acquiesced. Now these
Three inseparable Brethren were wont to meet in the
Scriptorium, by the Prior's permission, in the nightly
interval before Lauds, and there to hold debates of
Holy Scripture, most suited to such a time. But
Sindolf, knowing of their colloquies at this time, crept
stealthily one night to the glazed window by which
Tutilo sat, whereunto he closely appHed his ear and
listened whether he might catch something which he
might twist to evil and bear to the Bishop. Tutilo
became aware of this ; and, being a resolute man who
trusted in the strength of his arms, he spoke to his
companions in the Latin tongue (for Sindolf knew no
Latin), saying, " The rascal is here, wdth his ear glued
to the Avindow ! Thou, Notker, who art a timid
fellow, go into the church ; but thou, my Ratpert,
seize the Brethren's scourge which hangeth in the
calefactory, and hasten forth. I, when I hear thine
approach, mil suddenly open the window, catch him
by the hair, and drag him to me here by main force ;
and thou, dear friend, be strong and of a good courage,
and lay upon him with all thy might, that we may
avenge God on his body ! " So Batpert, who was ever
most ready to discipline, crept softly forth, caught the
scourge, and hastened swiftly to the spot, where he

* Solomon's final promotion was to the See of Constance.

22 A Medieval Garner.

found the fellow caught up by the head, and hailed
blows upon that defenceless back mth all his might ;
when lo ! Sindolf, strugghng mth arms and legs
together, caught the scourge as it fell upon him and
held it fast. But Ratpert was aware of a rod that lay
hard by, wherewith he now laid on most lustily again ;
until the victim, after fruitless prayers for mercy,
thought mthin himself, " Now is the time to cry ! "
and roared aloud for the Brethren. Part of the
convent, amazed to hear these unwonted sounds at
such an hour, hastened up with lanterns, and asked
what was amiss. Whereupon Tutilo cried again and
again, " I hold the Devil, I hold the Devil, bring hither
a light, that I may see more clearly in whose form I
hold him." Then, turning that unwilling head liither
and thither to the beholders, he asked as though in
astonishment : " What ! Is this Sindolf ? " " Yea,
indeed ! " cried they, and prayed for his liberty : at
which Tutilo released him, and said : " Woe is me !
for I have laid hands upon the bishop's intimate and
privy whisperer ! " But Ratpert, when the Brethren
hastened up, had gone aside and withdrawn liimself
privily, nor could the victim know who it was that had
smitten him. When, therefore, some enquired whither
Dom Notker and Dom Ratpert had gone, Tutilo
answered, " Both departed to worship God when they
heard the Devil, and left me alone with that fiend
prowUng in the darkness. Know ye all, therefore,
that it was an angel of the Lord whose hand dealt him
those stripes." The Brethren therefore departed, and
the matter was much debated (as was natural enough)
by the partisans of either side ; some said that it had
befallen by God's justice, that privy eavesdroppers
might be brought to light ; others, again, argued that
such a man should not thus have been handled unless
it were true that an angel of God had smitten him.
Meanwhile he crept away and hid himself, broken do^vn
by bodily pain and grief of mind together. At last,
after a few days, the bishop asked where his tattler
[famidicus] lingered so long (for thus he was wont to
name this fellow that ever brought him by stealth

Three Inseparables. 23

some fresh tidmgs), and, having learned the truth of
the matter, he would not impute any guilt to so
dignified a person as Tutilo in defence of a man guilty
of such shameful faults, but called Sindolf to his pre-
sence and consoled him with these words : " Since
these men, who have ever envied me from my boyhood,
have now done thee this evil, therefore I, if I live, will
take care to confer on thee some greater benefit. '
Not long afterwards the occasion came, and he made
liim Clerk of the Works, in spite of the protests of many,
nay of all, who besought him not to degrade so worthly
an office by giving it to such a man. ... To return to
our matter and to follow this Sindolf, prowling like a
licensed wild beast under Solomon's rule. One day,
which was the Refectorer's day, when Notker and
Ratpert were on duty in the kitchen, this Sindolf,
whose office it was to pour the measure of drink into
their glass, this fellow, I say, murmuring curses under
his breath against them (for they were yet absent)
rather cast the liquor than poured it forth, so that the
vessel fell from the table to the ground, and lay on its
side while the cover rolled across the room ; yet it
held the wine firmly, as though it could not spill. Then
Sindolf, coming grudgingly back and picking it up —
for he had hastened some paces away from their place ;
and, as those who had seen it from afar hastened to the
spot, and looked on the ground to see whether any wine
had been spilt — then said he, " Marvel not if the devil,
from whom they learn their black books at night, hath
hindered the cups of his wizards from spilling ! " When
this had been repeated to Hartmann, he went up to
that wayward wretch, and said, " My good fellow,
take heed lest thou presume too far at last against
such men who so patiently bear thine insults." Sindolf
answered again with his customary wanton and reviling
words : wherefore Waltram, the Dean, submitted him to
regular discipline in the next Chapter of the Brethren . .
When at last the holy man Ratpert, smitten with
sickness, crept about the cloister of St. Gallen and yet
ceased not to teach ; and when forty of his disciples,
now canons and priests, came to the monastery for the

24 A Medieval Garner.

holy feast, then he committed his soul to each of them
singly, and each promised to sing thirty masses for
him on his deathbed. Whereat he was exceedingly
rejoiced, and prayed God to cook him longer in the
flames of that sickness, whereby he was made into a
radiant bread and passed between the hands of his
disciples into Paradise, as we firmly believe. Notker
and Tutilo, m.ourning for him beyond all the other
Brethren whom he had left behind, wrought much for
him also.

When Tutilo was busied with carving in the city of
Metz, two pilgrims stood by him as he made a graven
image of the Blessed Mary, and besought him for alms,
which he gave to them in secret. They therefore
departing from him, said to a certain clerk who stood
by: "The Lord bless that man who hath so well
comforted us to-day. But " (said they) " Is that his
sister ? — that radiant lady who setteth the tools so
ready to his hand and teacheth him what to do ? "
The clerk, marvelling at this speech (for he had but
lately come thence, and seen no such lady) went back ;
and for a moment, for the twinkling of an eye, he saw
the truth of their words. Then said the clerk and the
pilgrims, " Father, blessed art thou of the Lord, in that
thou hast such a lady to help thee in thy work ! " But
he, having denied all knowledge of the matter, adjured
them vehemently to spread no such report abroad.
Yet on the morrow, hearing many men repeat this to
his glory, he withdrew and passed through the midst
of them, and would by no means work longer in that
city. But on the gilded halo which he had left plain,
this verse was afterAvards graven (I knov/ not by whose
hand) : —

Mary herself vouchsafed to carve all this work.
Moreover, the image itself, seated like a living woman,
is revered even to this day by all that see it. . . . Many
other things have we heard of Tutilo ; yet, because
we fear lest this age of ours, such as it is, may refuse
credence thereto, we have chosen rather to pass them
in silence. Since, therefore, we have found no certain
record of his death, we can certainly assert no more

A Batch of Miracles. 25

than this, that we steadfastly believe him to have gone
to God's bliss.

Of Notker we will tell boldly what is left to tell,
doubting nothing but that he was a chosen vessel
of the Holy Ghost. That most holy man lingered
on, \Wdowed and orphaned of his own Brethren in
the spirit ; and at length an evil befel him which
cut him to the heart. He had copied, with the sweat
of his brow, the Canonical Epistles in Greek, which he
had borrowed from Liutward, Bishop of Vercelli ;
when, behold ! Sindolf — who, as we have said, was
already a great and mighty man in the monastery —
fell by chance upon that delicately- written book and
stole it. Then, cutting away each quire with his knife
(as may be seen even to this day) he plucked them
apart and ruined them, and, folding them up again,
laid them in the place whence he had stolen them !
[Ekkehard here passes on to other matters : but his
later successor, sixth of that name, describes Notker' s
blindness and peaceful death in chapter xxxii. of his
Vita B. Notkeri (p. 245).]

Xos. 9 and 10 are from the Acta Sanctorum HihernicB of John Colgan,
an Ulsterman who became Professor of Theology at Louvain. " Colgan "
(writes Henry Bradley in the Diet. Nat. Biog.) " was an accomphshed Irish
scholar, and his large use of early documents in that language gives
great importance to his work, which displays much critical sagacity."
The lives are seldom exactly dated, but are mostly of great antiquity.

9.— a Q^iracle of %U ^cotf)inu0.

[AA.SS. Hib., vol. i, p. 10).

HEN therefore Saint Scothinus, by these and
other severe chastisements, had purged him-
self from all molestations and imperfections
of lustful desires, as though he followed
after the purity of an angel here on
earth, then began other corporeal creatures also to
obey him and recognise him as an angel of God ;
wherefore he oftentimes walked dryshod over the sea,
without help of boat. Once, while he thus walked on

2 6 A Medieval Garner.

the sea to pass into Britain, he met with the ship that
carried St. Barry the Bishop ; who, beholding and
recognizing this man of God, enquired of him where-
fore he thus walked on the sea. To whom Scothin
answered that this was a flowery field whereon he
walked ; and presently, stretching his hand down to
the water, he took from the midst of the ocean a hand-
ful of vermilion flowers which, in proof of his assertion,
he cast into the Bishop's lap. The Bishop for his
part, to maintain his own truth, drew a fish from the
waters and cast it towards St. Scothin ; whereupon,
magnifying God in His marvellous works, they departed
with blessings one from the other.*

10.— anotfjcr of ^t. (^eraltJ, atitjot of lismorc.

iIb.,2^. 600).

EHOLD, a messenger came from the king
with the news that his only daughter was
even now dead : at which tidings the king,
who had no son, was sore afraid. But
presently, recovering, he said to his peers,
" counsellors of my bosom and faithful friends
of my secret thoughts, let none of us reveal my
daughter's death to these stranger saints ; but let
us say that mine only son is dead." And he added :
" Unless they raise up to me a son instead of that
daughter, I will cast them all into prison." When
therefore the holy Abbot and his elder companions
was brought into the royal presence, then said the
king : " If ye would found in our domain an abbey
rich in lands and goods, then beseech your God to
raise up from the jaws of hell my son who is even now
dead, the only hope of my kingdom ; but if ye may
not obtain this, then shall ye depart dishonoured from
our realm, or remain as slaves among us." The holy
men, hearing this, hastened to the chamber where the

* Tliis same or a similar miracle, as Colgan notes, is told in tlie Life
of St. David concerning Saints Barry and Brandan. The reader may
find it in full on p. 428, § xviii.

A Batch of Miracles. 27

royal maiden lay dead : then the Abbot St. Gerald
turned to the corpse* and prayed : "0 Eternal God,
Who art the protector of all that trust in Thee, Who
takest away the anguish of Thy faithful people, Who
didst dry up the Red Sea for the captive Israelites and
miraculously loose Peter from his bonds, have mercy

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