G. G. (George Gordon) Coulton.

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... So we went forth and found the horses. . . . Then
said my fellow, " Master, now that ye are in your right
mind, I dare no longer hold my peace. . . .Your
lady sendeth you word, ye shall come to her this day
three weeks (mark well what I say) ; then will she
give you such welcome that you may be glad thereof


402 A Medieval Garner.

your whole life long. Sore against her will hath she
let you depart, as she said to me ; one lady was there
in her train for whose sake she must needs send thee
forth ; that lady will soon depart, whereof your own
lady is heartily glad ; then shall ye come again, and
she will keep you ten days at the castle (on my troth
I swear it), and deal with you as lovingly as a good
lady should deal with her friend."

The Lady next attempted to get rid of Ulrich by a too common
device which Chaucer reprobates ; she bade him go and fight the heathen
overseas. The Knight promised obedience, but in due time found
a good excuse ; finally, however, "she dealt so with me as it beseemeth
me not to tell for shame ; " so he cast her off and found another love.
One of the latest episodes in the book shows our hero imprisoned
by the treachery of certain private enemies, assisted by his "house-
wife" to the best of her power, and consoling himself by composing
fresh poems to his second anonymous lady-love, to whom in a few verses
of epilogue he dedicated this whole book of Frauendienst.

For the Blessed Christina von Stommeln (a village near Cologne) see
the Acta Sanctorum, June 22, and Kenan's Essay in Nouvelles Etudes
d' Histoire Religieuse, p. 353. Born in 1242, of a well-to-do farmer's
family, she became an ecstatic from her very childhood ; and at the
age of 10 she contracted (hke the later St. Catherine of Siena) a mystic
marriage with Christ. Three years later, she left her home and joined
the Beguines at Cologne, who sent her back to her parents at the age
of 18. In 1267, at the height of her local reputation as an ecstatic, she
made the acquaintance of a young Dominican Friar, Peter of Sweden,
who afterwards achieved distinction in his Order and wrote her
biography, but died before her. Peter was then studying at the
Dominican Friary of Cologne, one of his brother-friars being Albert
the Great, ex- Bishop of Ratisbon and master of St. Thomas Aquinas.
The greater part of the Life deals with her demoniac temptations
(especially to suicide and infideUty in various forms), and with the
personal violences inflicted upon her by baffled demons ; these sufferings
began when she was fifteen and ended only in 1288, a few months after
Peter's death. But the narrative contains also many very touching
passages ; the reader may profitably compare them with the life and
experiences of St. Lydwine of Schiedam, which Huysmans has lately
made accessible to modern readers from medieval sources.

St. Christina. 403

189.— ci)e JFirst ^iBbt of a %mnt,

(Lib. I, cap. I, A A.S.S. Ed. 1743, p. 279).

far back as my- memory can reach, from
the earliest dawn of my childhood, when-
soever I heard the lives and manners, the
passion and the death of saints, and
specially of our Lord Christ and His glorious
Mother, then in such hearing I was delighted to the very
marrow. ... In such affections much time passed,
and a multitude of days, and more than twenty years,
as I think. . . . Then at last the Father of all mercies,
visiting me in the bowels of His mercy, and seeing
that my merits sufficed not [by themselves], showed
me thus unexpectedly a person by whose sight and
speech He brought me manifold joys, not only by their
present exhibition but also through recording memory.
The lady Alfrade, eminent for her illustrious marriage
with a spouse of noble birth, fell sick and sent for
Brother Walter, her old confessor, who, taking me
for his companion, went to her on St. Thomas' Eve.
We came late ; when therefore he had sat down and
was hearing the said lady's confession, there came to
me as I sat in the same house a certain Beguine named
Alice, who asked whence I had come. " From
Cologne," quoth I. " Ah," quoth she, " would thou
hadst been in our village, and hadst seen the marvels
that are done there in a certain Maiden ! "

Now it befel on the morrow, at even, that we lodged
at the house of the parish priest, for so the said Walter
had ordered it ; where was at that time the said
Maiden also, on account of the necessity of the tribula-
tion that lay upon her ; and it was to visit her that
my companion, who had been her confessor almost
from childhood, came to that house. As we came,
therefore, I resolved to keep utter silence concerning
whatsoever I might chance to see there unwonted or
marvellous, not knowing how such things might be
esteemed by those who were there present. So, when I
entered into the said house, I found it poorly furnished.

404 A Medieval Garner.

and the household sorrow^ful, and one Maiden, her face
covered with a cloak, sitting somewhat apart. When
therefore she rose to salute Brother Walter, forthwith
the Demon, amid the very words of greeting, cast her
backward and struck her head so heavily against
the wall that the whole wall was shaken. Whereupon
those present were troubled at this event, fearing still
more for the tribulation that was to come, which they
surely expected according to its wonted course. So
while all those present sorrowed for the evil that had
befallen, and feared for worse that they awaited, I
alone was penetrated with an unwonted joy, and was
consoled in my inmost heart, and stood in amazed
suspense. . . . Wherefore, to hide my feelings, I busied
myself with the household, that is with the Parson and
his mother and sisters and other persons present in
the same hall, wherein my companion sat somewhat
apart with this Maiden, and told her divers examples
of the patience of Christ and the Saints. But so
strong an impression of joy came upon me, as aforesaid,
that even now, eleven years later, it clings to me not
only in memory but in certain presence ; for in that
hour, as I believe, some influence of God was impressed
upon me. While I sat thus, hearing the talk of the
household, and mingling serious words with jest, yet
my eye dwelt all this while — not only my bodily eye,
but that intention of my heart — fixed where I knew
that Person to be by whose presence I thought myself
already a changed man ; for I knew well that this
Person, so dearly beloved in future days, was she by
whose grace the Lord had already vouchsafed me so
great a gift. So, while I watched closely my companion
and this Maiden, I saw that the Devil cast her seven
times ; four times against the wall at their back, and
thrice against a chest at her left hand, with such violence
that the chest rang and the wall rattled even afar. . .
And, after we had sat thus awhile, I heard the said
Maiden sigh, as though some sudden pain had come
upon her : which the women round her heard also,
and asked the cause of her sighing : whereunto she
answered, " I am hurt in my feet." They sought,

St. Christina. 405

and found it so ; for in each foot was a wound dropping
fresh blood. When therefore she had thus groaned
four times in succession, being moved with compassion
amid the compassion and tears of those that sat by,
who saw new wounds at every groan, I myself also
rose and (as I think) looked the two last times, and
saw wounds so recent that methinks my sight fore-
stalled the flow of blood, as between the infliction of a
wound and the issue of blood there is commonly a brief
interval of delay. . . . And when we had said Compline
in presence of the said Maiden, with all due rites there-
unto pertaining, Brother Walter knelt and laid both
hands upon the Maiden's head and recited the Gospel,
" In the beginning was the Word," as a defence against
the fury of our malignant enemy Leviathan. After
which I besought his leave to watch that night with
the household ; which when he had granted I followed
him to the bed, prepared for us in the house itself on
account of their reverence for his age and religion ;
for he was a most religious man, advanced alike in
age and in grace, white-headed, fair of face, and of
good report among religious and worldly persons alike.
Therefore, returning with his leave to this Person
aforesaid, that I might comfort her and be comforted
by her in the marvels of God, I found in the hall two
lights which burned until daybreak, with seven
persons who watched all through that night, not in
turns but all together, without break or interval or
lying down to sleep of any one. For it was needful
to watch thus, since each of those present might well
fear not only for his goods but also for his life, through
the fury and malice of the demons, who raged so griev-
ously and so far beyond the power of human sufferance.
So my coming was welcomed with great solace by
those that sat by ; and, when at their instance I had
taken the same place from which my companion had
arisen, and sat there for a while in silence, then the
Maiden said to me, " What is your name ? " " Peter,'*
quoth I. " Good Brother Peter," quoth she, " tell me
then somewhat of God, for I gladly hear such, even
though I cannot listen closely in this mine urgent

4o6 A Medieval Garner.

need, for which I am truly sorry." So at her instance,
and that of the rest, though I spake but imperfectly
in the German tongue, yet I related two examples
proper for edification, as I thought ; the first, how the
Blessed Virgin taught a certain Carthusian monk how
to serve and love her ; and the second, how a Friar
Preacher was freed from fifteen years of purgatory
through a Mass sung by a certain elder Friar his most
familiar friend.

After which, I held my peace awhile : when behold !
the Maiden began suddenly to groan more grievously
than her wont. When therefore I had asked what
ailed her, she answered, " I am wounded hard by the
knee." Then, after a brief interval, wherein one
might have recited a " Have Mercy on me, God,"
she groaned again and withdrew her right hand through
the sleeve under her garment, and brought forth an
iron nail stained with fresh blood, and laid it in my
hand . . . and I felt it hotter to the touch than any
human flesh could heat it, whether one had held it in
one's hand or in one's bosom. So when midnight
was come (as I thought) then I went to my companion
to say our Mattins in due course. And while we said
the Mattins of the blessed Virgin, and had begun the
Lauds, there was so loud a murmur from the whole
household that, breaking off our Mattins in amazement,
and forestalling the messenger, we hastened down to
the said Person and her companions, and asked what
had befallen. So it was told us that the Maiden had
been grievously wounded. When therefore my com-
panion had come to her and sat down to comfort her,
he found her grievously afflicted and almost fainting :
yet after a while her spirits came again and, with-
drawing her other hand in the manner above described,
she brought forth another nail, freshly bloodstained
and heated even as the first, yet far more horrible in
shape ; which nail she laid in my companion's hand,
saying, " Behold that which hath wounded me."
When therefore all considered this nail, amazed and
shuddering at its horrible aspect, I prayed that it
might be given to me as a great gift and a perpetual

Christina^s Friends. 407

memorial ; which request they granted, and I have
kept the nail even to this day, making thereupon a
sure sign how deep it had been fixed in the Maiden's
thigh ; for the flesh that clung thereto, and the blood
that stained it, gave a most certain testimony of this
fact ... so when morning came I returned to Cologne
whence I had come ; but I knew not whether in my
whole life until that hour I had felt my heart so well-
disposed ; so that I would then have done nothing more
gladly than sing a Mass of the Blessed Virgin in thanks-
giving for these divine gifts vouchsafed unto me :
yet at this time no opportunity of such comfort was
granted unto me. For it seemed to me that I might
then understand that which is written, " And night
shall be my light in my pleasures ; but darkness shall
not be dark to thee and night shall be light as the day."
O happy night, blessed night ! thou wert to me
the beginning of divine illuminations which know no
difference of night or day.

190.— Cbe «^aint'!5 jFricnti0.

(Lib. I, cap. Ill, p. 286).

Besides these, Peter enumerates elsewhere (i.) John, the village
schoolmaster, who helped him to write this life and afterwards studied
for the priesthood, and (ii.) " Sir John, Parish Priest of Stommeln . . .
a devout man, and of so great chastity that he is said to have died a
virgin " (p. 292).

OW she had a wound on the outer side of
her hand also, proportionately correspond-
ing to that on the inner side, as though a
__^__ nail had pierced it through. . . . But,
besides the things which I saw, I will
narrate here also the things which I heard from her
familiar friends, though I never heard her mention
such things in a single word. . . . Now these were
her chief friends : Hilla von Berg, her kinswoman,
the inseparable companion of all her tribulation and
consolations, whose face I never saw changed amid
weal or woe, a virgin worthy of all praise, fearless in

4o8 A Medieval Garner*

tribulation, cautious in times of gladness and prosperity,
ever showing forth the maiden in her acts, her bearing
and her speech. Her merriment was grave, and her
gravity seemed merry, for the even temper of her
words and manners. Next to Christina herself, I
know not if I have ever seen so pure a maiden ; for
it seemed to me that she could not sin, and God Himself
knoweth that I never marked in her a wanton gesture
or sign or word, although (as will be seen hereafter)
I conversed often and long with her in all familiarity.
The second friend was Gertrude, sister to the parish
priest, eminent herself also for honesty of manners,
of whom we shall speak again. The third was the
blind girl Alice, who had lost her eyes, it is believed,
by weeping [in prayer], and who murmured not at their
loss ; moreover, she had lain seven years in bed and
shown a marvellous patience in this failure of all
bodily forces ; her virtues cannot be expressed in
writing, especially to one who knew her in person,
for to such her deeds must needs appear above all
praise. The fourth was a little maiden of good promise,
still wearing the worldly habit, yet bound by a willing
and hearty vow of chastity. With all these persons
devoted to God ... I conversed singly and separately,
and all with one voice told the same tale concerning
the aforesaid miracles.

191.— ^acret) Lotie.

Letter of Christina to Peter, then studying at Paris, (A.D. 1270,
Lib. II., c. IV.)

her most beloved Brother in Jesus Christ,
Peter the Swede, dwelling at Paris, Christina
his daughter or sister in Stommeln, sendeth
greeting and whatsoever he may desire of
best or most profitable in the Lord. Dearly
beloved, you must know that I am inwardly solicitous
on your behalf ; and, though I have often written
to you, yet I cannot refrain from writing still to say

Sacred Love. 409

how great is my yearning for you, (that is, to have
your presence, which was so sweet to me), and how I
long for you in the bowels of Jesus Christ, and how I
desire that we may see one another in the Kingdom
of our God. Wherefore I beseech you instantly that,
if by any means you can procure it, you may dwell
some time at Cologne. Moreover, I can never suffice
to thank you for the consolation sent to me in your
letters, which was so sweet to me that I pray God
may reward you to all eternity. Again, concerning
that which you lately wrote to me, how you have long
desired to know of my state, and that it should be
noted in the book,* you must know that I purpose
this so far as I can, and herein you have the first claim,
for I could do this well for none [other] under heaven.
Wherefore I promise you this, for I trust in you who
have been wont to keep me in all my ways as carefully
as I have kept myself. Above all these things, most
faithful friend, I beseech you to procure me as many
intercessors as you may, and do you intercede for me,
as I have confidence in your prayers ; for sore distress
lieth on me, for every night I am in such suffering that
I scarce know how to live ; for I am afflicted with such
weariness of soul that meseemeth worldly folk have
a better life than mine, and I despair of God, though
that be pain and gi*ief to me. Wherein I am more
tormented than I care to write to you at present ; and
I strive against it, by God's help, even to the shedding
of blood from my nose and mouth : yet I take delight
in no good, wherefore have pity upon me ! I am sick
in the body, in the breast, in the head ; yet I have had
no outward pain since Christmastide. On the fourth
day after the First Sunday in Lent, a multitude of
demons came into my chamber and (for I heard all
from the beginning) one began telling the other how
much harm they had done me, and in which tempta-
tions they had conquered, and in which they had been
conquered, and what had been their punishment. At
length they departed and left there fragments of a

* Christina kept a sort of journal of her experiences.

4IO A Medieval Garner.

fur garment which they had burned.* I beseech you
from the bottom of my heart, write me often of your
own state ; for if you knew what a joy it would be to
me to see your letters, you would do this gladly. My
father and my mother salute you. I beseech you,
as they beseech you through me, pray for them.

* Like very many other visionaries, Christina was always haunted
by illusions of fire and wounds.


192.— Cbe anistoet.

To this Peter wrote two letters in reply, the second of which follows

O Christina his dearest sister in the bowels of
mercy of Christ Jesus, and worthy of
especial love, Brother Peter sendeth greeting,
by profession a Friar Preacher, but in fact
and deed a vile and humble sinner, and
prayeth that she may happily purchase to herself
eternal salvation in the spirit of saving grace, and
sweetly meditate thereon, finding continual sweet
consolation therein and thereby. You asked me to
send you word of my state ; nay, but your very prayer
hath pierced to the inmost recesses of my heart ;
wherefore I give you to know that, albeit by your
presence I was once inwardly comforted and revived
to my very marrow by God who dwelleth with you,
and enlightened to the very inmost recesses of my
heart, if I may so say, and inflamed with fire from
heaven ; yet I confess, and thank God in confessing
it, that sometimes, though perchance too seldom, the
memory of you brings me that profit which your
presence was wont to bring ; yet so much the less by
all the difference that there is between memory and
presence, between a similitude and the thing itself
which it represents ! Yet (to satisfy your prayer) know
that at Paris we have most devout novices, most
learned students, most religious Brethren, and most
kindly Prelates, among whom, as stones of fire,

Sacred Love. 411

beautiful men, I myself converse as the reproach of men
and the outcast of the people ; so that, as they are
such of whom the world is not worthy, I am one who
is not worthy of the world. O therefore, dearest Virgin
of Christ, Christina, who preachest the love of Christ
by thy very name and showest it forth in thy manners,
have pity upon me, who am arid amidst this exceeding
devotion of such holy men, cold amidst the burning
love of so many, remiss amid their so strenuous con-
versation, lax beside their strict religion, yet who fear
not to converse with them. If therefore there be in
you any consolation of mind, if any compassion, if
any bowels of mercy, if any affection of charity, pray
to God that He may deign by His grace to awaken
me from this torpor of insensibility, this lukewarmness
of negligence, this loitering drowsiness of mine.

Such then is my daily round, my quotidian fever,
my most dolorous misery. Yet, though my heart be
hardened, my senses blunted, my affections chilled,
yet am I compelled (as the Apostle saith) to rejoice
with them that rejoice, or at least to put a joyful face
over my sorrow of heart. Know therefore that, though
m}^ hours of sunlight be rare and fleeting, yet the
serener day doth sometimes shine upon me, a healthier
air breathes round me, a more cheerful sun breaks
forth, a sweeter devotion is felt in my heart, and
especially when I handle and bear in my hands the
Sun of Righteousness so often as the bodily sun ariseth.
For then my heart warms a little, and my eyes grow
moist, and mj^ understanding clear, and the world
vile ; every earthly delight vanishes, every temptation
is dumb, all inordinate affection is at rest. " Then,"
(as saith the Poet) " a new race is sent down from the
height of heaven, then returneth the Virgin also."*
Alas, beloved, what word have I said ? and what do I
remember ? for all these things have passed away like
a shadow, leaving scarce a memory behind, and alto-
gether withdrawing their presence. how sweet and
how joyful it would be to linger amid such delights,

* Virgil Ed. IV., 6, 7, slightly misquoted to give it a Christian sense.

412 A Medieval Garner.

to be sated with such feasts, to revel in such banquets,
were it not that sloth impedes, negligence holds back,
and the multitude of sins stands between ! Yet I hope
that these and the like hindrances to devotion, whereof
I mourn to feel so many in myself, will vanish by your

[Extract from a letter of one of Peter's fellow-students first at Cologne
and now at Paris, Lib, V., cap. I.]

193.— an OnDergraDuate's letter.

the devout Virgin of Christ, and his own
dearly-beloved in the Lord, Christina of
Stommeln, Brother Maurice, student in the
convent of the Friars Preachers at Paris,
wishes health and the consolation of the
Holy Ghost. To write to you is no ungrateful task,
but one truly full of joy, since I delight in speaking
with you as with mine own heart. But, since I had
no matter of writing, fearing the perils of the journey
for letters, especially when directed to women, and
distracted by divers business and occupations, I have
so long omitted to answer your letter. . . . Now of
mine own state — your special friend, but in secret
" for fear of the Jews " — know that, passing through
fire and water, and suffering many tribulations in
body and soul, (as I think you have heard from the
Brethren) I came to Paris on St. Maurice's day, where
by reason of the mutation and novelty of my way of
life I have never remained in one stay, but have been
vexed with divers infirmities all winter through until
after Easter ; from all which, by God's grace and
loving care of me, I was fully freed and cured before
the Feast of the Ascension ; and now I am fully wont
to eat our eggs, more corrupt and fewer in quantity
than those eggs of the Eifel which are supplied to
our Brethren in Cologne ;* more anxious in this care,

* Some readers will remember Erasmus's description of Paris
university eggs.

An Undergraduate's Letter. 4 1 3

thinking over the fresh eggs and pot-herbs, when we
were wont to sit beside the fieshpot, and see, and eat
thereof. Oftentimes indeed I go down (though not in
bodj^) to see your Egypt of Stommehi ; and, if I might,
even in body would I come down, and would oftentimes
have come down, and many other companions with
me, even though the village were ten good miles further
from Paris than it is from Cologne ! But enough of
this ! I pray you, vouchsafe to let me know of your
state, and that of your brethren — and you. Sir Parish
Priest,* of your own and your mother's and your
household's — as soon as ye may, that I may send word
to Brother Peter ; for I have messengers, as I believe,
who will be going to Sweden. Fare ye well ever in
the Lord, remembering me in your prayers (according
to 3"our promise, and the confidence which I have in
you,) when you speak secretly in the bed-chamber to
Jesus Christ your Spouse. Salute from me your
father and mother and sisters, etc. I would not that
you should show this letter to any, lest through sinister
interpretations any blame should fall on the writer.
Bid the lady Beatrice make ready fresh eggs for the
Brethren returning from the General Chapter, and her
condiment of new cheeses,t and that she should remem-
ber me when it is well with her among the Beguines.
Given on the day of Saints Vitus and Modestus. Fare-

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