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St.

Francis
by G. K. Chesterton CHAPTER I
THE PROBLEM OF ST. FRANCIS
A sketch of St. Francis of Assisi in modern English may be written in one of three ways. Between these the writer must make his selection; and the third way, which is adopted here, is in some respects the most difficult of all. At least, it would be the most difficult if the other two were not impossible. First, he may deal with this great and most amazing man as a figure in secular history and a model of social irtues. !e may describe this di ine demagogue as being, as he probably was, the world"s one #uite sincere democrat. !e may say $what means ery little% that St. Francis was in ad ance of his age. !e may say $what is #uite true% that St. Francis anticipated all that is most liberal and sympathetic in the modern mood; the lo e of nature; the lo e of animals; the sense of social compassion; the sense of the spiritual dangers of prosperity and e en of property. All those things that nobody understood before &ordsworth were familiar to St. Francis. All those things that were first disco ered by 'olstoy could ha e been taken for granted by St Francis. !e could be presented, not only as a human but a humanitarian hero; indeed as the first hero of humanism. !e has been described as a sort of morning star of the (enaissance. And in comparison with all these things, his ascetical theology can be ignored or dismissed as a contempory accident, which was fortunately not a fatal accident. !is religion can be regarded as a superstition, but an ine itable superstition, from which not e en genius could wholly free itself; in the consideration of which it would be un)ust to condemn St. Francis for his self denial or unduly chide him for his chastity. *t is #uite true that e en from so detached a standpoint his stature would still appear heroic. 'here would still be a great deal to be said about the man who tried to end the +rusades by talking to the Saracens or who interceded with the Emporer for the birds. 'he writer might describe in a purely historical spirit the whole of the Franciscan inspiration that was felt in the painting of ,iotto, in the poetry of -ante, in the miracle plays that made possible the modern drama, and in so many things that are already appreciated by the modern culture. !e may try to do it, as others ha e done, almost without raising any religious #uestion at all. *n short, he may try to tell the story of a saint without ,od; which is like being told to write the life of .ansen and forbidden to mention the .orth /ole.

Second, he may go to the opposite e0treme, and decide, as it were, to be defiantly de otional. !e may make the theological enthusiasm as thoroughly the theme as it was the theme of the first Franciscans. !e may treat religion as the real thing that it was to the real Francis of Assisi. !e can find an austere )oy, so to speak, in parading the parado0es of asceticism and all the topsy1tur eydom of humility. !e can stamp the whole history with the Stigmata, record fasts like fights against a dragon; till in the ague modern mind St Francis is as dark a figure as St. -ominic. *n short, he can produce what many in our world will regard as a sort of photographic negati e; the re ersal of all lights and shades; what the foolish will find as impenetrable as darkness and e en many of the wise will find almost as in isible as if it were written in sil er upon white. Such a study of St. Francis would be unintelligible to anyone who does not share his religion, perhaps only partly intelligible to anyone who does not share his ocation. According to degrees of )udgement, it will be regarded as something too bad or too good for the world. 'he only difficulty about doing the thing in this way is that it cannot be done. *t would really re#uire a saint to write about the life of a saint. *n the present case the ob)ections to such a course are insuperable. 'hird, he may try to do what * ha e tried to do here; and as * ha e already suggested, the course has peculiar problems of its own. 'he writer may put himself in the position of the ordinary modern outsider and en#uirer; as indeed the present writer is still largely and was once entirely in that position. !e may start from the standpoint of a man who already admires St. Francis, but only for those things which such a man finds admirable. *n other words he may assume that the reader is at least as enlightened as (enan or 2atthew Arnold; but in the light of that enlightenment he may try to illimunate what (enan and 2atthew Arnold left dark. !e may try to use what is understood to e0plain what is not understood. !e may try to say to the modern English reader3 4!ere is an historical character which is admittedly attracti e to many of us already, by its gaiety, its romantic imagination, its spiritual courtesy and cameraderie, but which also contains elements $e idently e#ually sincere and emphatic% which seem to you #uite remote and repulsi e. But after all, this man was a man and not half a dozen men. &hat seems inconsistency to you did not seem inconsistency to him. 5et us see whether we can understand, with the help of the e0isting understanding, these other things that now seem to be doubly dark, by their intrinsic gloom and their ironic contrast.4 * do not mean, of course, that * can really reach a psychological completeness in this crude and curt outline. But * mean that this is the only contro ersial condition that * shall here assume; that * am dealing with the sympathetic outsider. * shall not assume any more or any less agreement than this. A materialist may not care whether the inconsistencies are reconciled or not. A +atholic may not see any inconsistencies to reconcile. But * am here addressing the

ordinary common man, sympathetic but sceptical, and * can only rather hazily hope that, by approaching the great saint"s story through what is e idently pictures#ue and popular about it, * may at least lea e the reader understanding a little more than he did before of the consistency of a complete character; that by approaching it in this way, we may at least get a glimmering of why the poet who praised his lord the sun, often hid himself in a dark ca ern, of why the saint who was so gentle with his Brother the &olf was so harsh to his Brother the Ass $as he nicknamed his own body%, of why the troubadour who said that lo e set his heart on fire separated himself from women, of why the singer who re)oiced in the strength and gaiety of the fire deliberately rolled himself in the snow, of why the ery song which cries with all the passion of a pagan, 4/raised be ,od for our Sister, 2other Earth, which brings forth aried fruits and grass and glowing flowers,4 ends almost with the words 4/raised be ,od for our Sister, the death of the body.4 (enan and 2atthew Arnold failed utterly at this test. 'hey were content to follow Francis with their praises until they were stopped by their pre)udices; the stubborn pre)udices of the sceptic. 'he moment Francis began to do something they did not understand or did not like, they did not try to understand, still less to like it; they simply turned their backs on the whole business and 4walked no more with him.4 .o man will get any further along a path of historical en#uiry in that fashion. 'hese skeptics are really dri en to drop the whole sub)ect in despair, to lea e the most simple and sincere of all historical characters as a mass of contradiction, to be praised on the principle of the curate"s egg. Arnold refers to the asceticism of Al erno almost hurriedly, as if it were an unlucky but undeniable blot on the beauty of the story; or rather as if it were a pitiable break1down and bathos at the end of story. .ow this is simply to be stone1blind to the whole point of any story. 'o represent 2ount Al erno as the mere collapse of Francis is e0actly like representing 2ount +al ary as the mere collapse of +hrist. 'hose mountains are mountains, whate er else they are, and it is nonsense to say $like the (ed 6ueen% that they are compariti e hollows or negati e holes in the ground. 'hey were #uite manifestly meant to be culminations and landmarks. 'o treat the Stigmata as a sort of scandal, to be touched on tenderly but with pain, is e0actly like treating the original fi e wounds of 7esus +hrist as fi e blots on his character. 8ou may dislike the idea of asceticism; you may dislike e#ually the idea of martyrdom; for that matter you may ha e an honest and natural dislike of the whole conception of sacrifice symbolised by the cross. But if it is an intelligent dislike, you will retain the capacity for seeing the point of the story; the story of a martyr or e en the story of a monk. 8ou will not be able rationally to read the ,ospel and regard the +rucifi0ion as an afterthought or an anti1clima0 or an accident in the life of +hrist; it is ob iously the point of the story like the point of a sword, the sword that pierced the heart of the 2other of ,od.

indeed the pedantry of the . and the whole of the modern puzzle disappears. 'hese distinguished writers found things like the Stigmata a stumbling block because to them a religion was a philosophy. !e was. !e was a lo er of . a 'roubadour. under #uite a different impulse. 'ell it as the tale of one of the 'roubadours. possibly a much rarer mystical ocation. and between his glorifying gold and purple and per ersely going in rags. not an imaginary idea.reek word carries something like a satire on itself. if you think so. A philanthropist may be said to lo e anthropoids. in a cloud of mystery and isolation. only this was so noble a lo e that nine out of ten men ha e hardly e en heard of it. that he was a lunatic lo ing an imaginary person. *t was an impersonal thing. !e will do these things when he is in lo e. And for the modern reader the clue to the asceticism and all the rest can be found in the stories of lo ers when they seemed to be rather like lunatics. the unhealed e erlasting wounds that heal the world. that when he said from the first that he was a 'roubadour. A man will not roll in the snow for a stream of tendency by which all things fulfil the law of their being. between his praising all earthly and bodily beauty and then refusing to eat. but understood himself much better than the scholars understand him. that makes for righteousness. All these riddles would be easily be resol ed in the simplicity of any noble lo e. But since * ha e mentioned 2atthew Arnold and (enan and the rationalistic admirers of St. * will here gi e a hint of what it seems to me most ad isable for such readers to keep in mind. and said later that he was a 'roubadour of a newer and nobler romance. as to his relations with his father and his friends and their families. Francis. 'he first fact to realise about St Francis is in ol ed with the first fact with which his story starts. and the wild things he would do for his lady. he could feel this kind of e0tra agance . so he did not lo e +hristianity but +hrist. between his showing pathetically a hunger for a happy life and a thirst for a heroic death. inflicted by no human hand. *n such a romance there would be no contradiction between the poet gathering flowers in the sun and enduring a freezing igil in the snow. A lo er of men is ery nearly the opposite of a philanthropist. but an imaginary person.And you will not be able rationally to read the story of a man presented as a 2irror of +hrist without understanding his final phase as a 2an of Sorrows.od and he was really and truly a lo er of men. not oursel es. 'he practical reconciliation of the gaiety and austerity * must lea e the story itself to suggest. to the last agonies of asceticism. &e shall see later that this parallel of the earthly lo er has a ery practical relation to the problems of his life. But as St. Say. !e was a 5o er. Francis did not lo e humanity but men. !e will do things like this. and it is only the most personal passion that pro ides here an appro0imate earthly parallel. or pretty like this. !e will not go without food in the name of something. 'he modern reader will almost always find that if he could only find this kind of lo e as a reality. he was not using a mere metaphor. and at least artistically appreciating the appropriatness of his recei ing.

as he saw them. or which can appreciate the saint almost without the sanctity. many things that seem to me lucid and enlightened now they are seen from the inside * should honestly ha e called dark and barbarous seen from the outside. which is only addressed to that part of the modern world which finds in St. !is figure stands on a sort of bridge connecting my boyhood with my con ersion to many other things.od. E en the fantastic shadows thrown by fire make a sort of shadow pantomine that belongs to the nursery. * too ha e li ed in Arcady. for he suffered fools gladly. grotes#ue but haloed with the lo e of . but only a ery little further. until he understands that to this great mystic his religion was not a thing like a theory but a thing like a lo e affair. at no stage of my pilgrimage has he e er seemed to me a stranger. but e en in Arcady * met one walking in a brown habit who lo ed the woods better than /an. 'here is something of a harmony between the hearth and the firelight and my own first pleasure in his words about the brother fire. 'he figure in the brown habit stands abo e the hearth in the room where * write. And the only purpose of this prefatory chapter is to e0plain the limits of the present book. And my only claim e en to attempt such a task is that * myself ha e for so long been in arious stages of such a condition. But * only note it here as a preliminary point because. * may be able to lead others a little further along that road. for the romance of his religion has penetrated e en the rationalism of that ague :ictorian time. yet the shadows were e en then the shadows of his fa ourite beast and birds. . though it is ery far from being the final truth in the matter. 'he reader cannot e en begin to see the sense of a story that may well seem to him a ery wild one. CHAPTER II THE WORLD ST. it is the best approach to it. FRANCIS FOUND . and alone among many such images. *n so far as * ha e had this e0perience. Francis a certain modern difficulty. which can admire him yet hardly accept him. when long ago in those days of boyhood my fancy first caught fire with the glory of Francis of Assisi. many things * now hold sacred * should ha e scouted as utterly superstitious.obody knows better than * do now that it is a road upon which angels might fear to tread. !is Brother &olf and Brother Sheep seemed then almost like the Brer Fo0 and Brer (abbit of a more +hristian 9ncle (emus. * ha e come slowly to see many more mar ellous aspects of such a man.as a romance. but * ha e ne er lost that one. 2any thousand things that * now partly comprehend * should ha e thought utterly incomprehensible. but though * am certain of failure * am not altogether o ercome by fear. for he stands far enough back in my memory to mingle with all those more domestic dreams of the first days.

*t had ne er been told a word about their being ensla ed. e en for an intelligent man who hated the monasteries. 7ust as we hear of the admiral being shot but ha e ne er heard of his being born. At best it only tells half the story of +hristendom. or generally e en imagine. 2en for whom reason begins with the (eformation.ow this sort of history would be hopelessly insufficient.4 But e en this is not a complete parallel. *t is hopelessly insufficient in connection with institutions that many intelligent men do in a #uite .reat &ar our public began to be told of all sorts of nations being emancipated. 7ournalists are in the habit of printing abo e the ery last chapters of their serial stories $when the hero and the heroine are )ust about to embrace in the last chapter. But it does not conduce e0actly to knowing what it is all about. such a leisurely manner of patronising the drama may be recommended. 'here is something singularly significant in the use which )ournalism makes of its stores of biography. and they are #uite e0cited about something they call +zecho1Slo akia without apparently ha ing e er heard about Bohemia. while they ne er gi e anything remotely resembling a summary of the history. &e were called upon to )udge of the )ustice of settlements. *t is e0actly in the same fashion that we read that Admiral Bangs has been shot. can ne er gi e a complete account of anything. 'o those content with the mere fact of a pistol1shot or a passionate embrace. so we all heard a great deal about the dissolution of the monasteries. when we had ne er been allowed to hear of the ery e0istence of the #uarrels. for the )ournals do gi e some sort of a summary of the story. it is unsatisfactory. As it deals with indi iduals it deals with institutions and ideas. has had at least one definite effect. *t ne er thinks of publishing the life until it is publishing the death. but they deal with e erything as if it were entirely new. 2ost modern history. *t is ery e0citing. .ewspapers not only deal with news. but we heard ne0t to nothing about the creation of the monasteries. After the . as only an unfathomable per ersity pre ented them from doing so in the first% the rather misleading words. or for that tradition that is the gossip of history. for they ha e to start with institutions whose origin they can ne er e0plain. especially in England. 48ou can only begin this story here. like the last act of a play to people who ha e only come into the theatre )ust before the curtain falls. /eople would think it pedantic to talk about the Serbian epics and they prefer to talk about the 8ugo1Sla onic international new diplomacy. which is the first intimation we ha e that he has e er been born. . suffers from the same imperfection as )ournalism. 'o those tormented by a mere intellectual curiosity about who is kissing or killing whom. 'hings that are as old as Europe are regarded as more recent than the ery latest claims pegged out on the prairies of America. and that the second half without the first half. *t has insured that e erybody should only hear the end of e ery story.'he modern inno ation which has substituted )ournalism for history.

*t is #uite . * for one ha e maintained from ery early days the responsibility of the English for their atrocious treatment of the *rish. it really is an obscure institution.apoleon. &hat we complain of is that in their ersion it does not begin at all. and by what heroic chi alry a European nation freed itself of an alien domination from Africa. 'here is some sort of enthusiasm that encourages e0cesses or co ers faults. &ell. &e do not insist that in their ersion it should begin well. what Spain was and what an *n#uisition was. while gently remonstrating with the *rish for their memory of old unhappy far1off things and battles long ago. to late for the hanging. it would be un)ust to forget that most of us were not thinking of Black1and1'an but of khaki. and the English sincerity about it. /rotestant history simply begins with the horrible thing in possession. So to talk about the torture1engine as if it had been a hideous toy is un)ust to the Spanish. or e en. But howe er badly we may think of the Black1and tan business. but there was a ictory to abuse. *t is likely enough that it was. 'o write of the war with *reland and lea e out the war against /russia. 9nfortunately ". and that khaki had )ust then a noble and national connotation co ering many things. we ha e no notion why it was so. *t is obscure because its origin is obscure. 'o understand the Spanish *n#uisition it would be necessary to disco er two things that we ha e ne er dreamed of bothering about. by our learned leader1writers. For instance. especially towards the end. as the pantomine begins with the demon king in the goblin kitchen. of an obscure institution called the Spanish *n#uisition. according to them and the histories they read. 'he former would bring in the whole great #uestion about the +rusade against the 2oors. would be un)ust to the English. and why men lo ed and hated that nihilistic ision from Asia. like 5ord 'om . *t does not tell sensibly from the start the story of what the Spaniards did. 'hey are only in at the death. 9nless we understand that there was in these things originally the rush and romance of a +rusade. And where there is ictory there is alour in the field and popularity in the forum. but if we say this was so.elson. when it was more probably full of the glory of the death of . For instance.healthy spirit hate.< and lea e out altogether all mention of the war with . and why. &e may concede to our contempories that in any case it is not a story that ends well. *t would be un)ust to suggest that the English mind was bent on nothing but the death of Emmett.oddy. 'he +rusaders doubtless abused their ictory. 'he latter would bring in the whole business of the other +rusade against the Albigensians. a horrible thing that might be haunted by demons. and only a few years ago our politicians started trying to rule by random robbing and killing. it is possible that some of us ha e occasionally seen some mention.< was ery far from being the last date of such dirty work. we cannot understand how they came to decei e men or drag them on towards e il. But it would be #uite unfair to describe e en the de ilry of ".

true that it was more horrible than any hanging. it will mean that we must measure the sky before we can begin to measure the towering stature of the man. Francis is unintelligible. and not because it is especially connected with St. Francis entered and what had been the history of that world. 'o write history and hate (ome. for it is one among any number illustrating the same thing. but they only gather. *t may seem to mean describing a world. And it is to suggest that the modern tail1foremost type of )ournalistic history perpetually fails us. A much wider sympathy is needed for the historical setting of St. As a matter of indi idual belief. or e en a uni erse to describe a man. 2en will not belie e because they will not broaden their minds. it is necessary to say something about the great mo ements that led up to the entrance of the founder of the Franciscans. it is e ident that the distinguished no elist suffered the same disad antage as if he had been obliged to write a no el of which he hated the hero. about rebels without knowing what they rebelled against. in the case of 2r. so to speak. Francis. *t may well be suggested later indeed that St. -ominic is unintelligible. Francis found. &e learn about reformers without knowing what they had to reform. 'he case of the *n#uisition is here taken at random. is to suffer a di ision from the mass of mankind for which not all the de0terities of the finest and most fle0ible of modern intelligences can compensate. both pagan and papal. *t is necessary to ha e. both the laurels of the warrior and the lilies of the saint. * should of course e0press it by saying they . of memorials that are not connected with any memory and restorations of things that apparently ne er e0isted before. if we may borrow the phrase of 2r. *t is to point out that to begin the story of St. the ery ashes of the ashes. in whate er sense it may ha e been connected with St -ominic. Francis with the birth of St Francis would be to miss the whole point of the story. the fag1end of the faggot. 'o dislike both the priest and the soldier. But for the moment * use it as a lesser e0ample for a much larger purpose. &ells. at least in so far as it affected him. &ells himself. into what sort of a world St. )ust as St. Francis. Francis. *t comes ery nearly to hating humanity on purely humanitarian grounds. E en at the e0pense of this chapter appearing disproportionate. *t will ine itably mean that the world or the uni erse will be described with a few desperate generalisations in a few abrupt sentences. in howe er rude and elementary a fashion. unless we do understand something of what the thirteenth century meant by heresy and a crusade. *t is necessary to realise. himself both a soldier and a saint. But so far from its meaning that we shall see a ery small figure under so large a sky. a sort of preface in the form of an =utline of !istory. * will therefore conclude this chapter with a few generalisations about the world St. is to hate e erything that has happened. if only in a few sentences. or rather not to tell the story at all. And this phrase alone brings me to the preliminary suggestions that seem necessary before e en a slight sketch of the life of St.

+hristianity had entered the world to cure the world. * imagine. we cannot really understand the point of history at which St. but there had been dreams in that sleep of a mystical and sometimes of a monstrous kind. it has been truly said that men awoke from a sleep. 'he end of the -ark Ages was not merely the end of a sleep. but in their big bulk and proportion that pagan progress and that +hristian reaction. Francis and his 7ongleurs de -ieu was not merely an awakening. 9ntil we understand. and she cured it in the only way in which it could be cured. 'hey had been e0pelled by an era of asceticism. which was the only thing that could ha e e0pelled them. or. Francis appears or what his great popular mission was all about. will not be able to make head or tail of the human story of St. a purgation. Anybody who supposes that the -ark Ages were plain darkness and nothing else. they were certainly an end. an end of what may at least seem a harsher and more inhuman time. Francis of Assisi.are not sufficiently catholic to be +atholic. But * am not going to discuss here the doctrinal truths of +hristianity. &hat * mean at the moment is that the ma)ority of doubts are made out of details. =n the merely e0ternal and secular side. :iewed merely in an e0ternal and e0perimental fashion. as it might appear to a really enlightened and imaginati e person e en if he were not a +hristian. . 'hey were a fresh flowering of culture and the creati e arts after a long spell of much sterner and e en more sterile e0perience which we call the -ark Ages. But what was it that was ended> From what was it that men were emancipated> 'hat is where there is a real collision and point at issue between the different philosophies of history. *t was something which cannot be understood without understanding their own mystical creed. that the twelfth and thirteenth centuries were an awakening of the world. . but he does not enlarge his mind sufficiently to see the main truth about pagan custom or the +hristian reaction against it. but simply the broad historical fact of +hristianity. the whole of the high ci ilisation of anti#uity had ended in the learning . *t was the end of a penance. *t was the end of something belonging to a #uite definite but #uite different order of ideas. and that the dawn of the thirteenth century was plain daylight and nothing else. *n that rationalistic routine into which most modern historians ha e fallen.ow e erybody knows. it is considered enough to say that they were emancipated from mere sa age superstition and ad anced towards mere ci ilised enlightenment. 'hey may be called an emancipation. *t was certainly not merely the end of a superstitious ensla ement. *n the course of random reading a man comes across a pagan custom that strikes him as pictures#ue or a +hristian action that strikes him as cruel. not necessarily in detail. if it be preferred.ow this is the big blunder that stands as a stumbling1 block at the ery beginning of our story. 'he truth is that the )oy of St. *t marked the moment when a certain spiritual e0piation had been finally worked out and certain spiritual diseases had been finally e0pelled from the system.

in this sense.o sooner did the . a real moral history of the . 'here is a bias in a man like the bias on a bowl. &hen he follows his nose he manages somehow to put his nose out of )oint. and +hristianity was the disco ery of how to correct the bias and therefore hit the mark. 'he greatest and e en the purest philosophers could not apparently a oid this low sort of lunacy. but it is profoundly true to say . 'he . But abo e all. it had disco ered its own clear system of logic and language. *t had disco ered its still unri alled arts of poetry and plastic representation. And the case of the . than the #ueerest thing in history seems to ha e happened to them. that is. and the most unnatural thing in the world was the ery first thing they did. to remain healthy on the point. *t was the disco ery of that deeper thing. 'hat pagan ci ilization had indeed been a ery high ci ilisation. especially if he was. it had disco ered its own permanent political ideals. started out with the idea of something splendidly ob ious and direct. as the . But if we had the taste for such things. 'heir studies of unsa oury sub)ects ne er take note of the testimony they bear to the truths of traditional morality. 'here are many who will smile at the saying. humanly speaking. the idea that if a man walked straight ahead on the high road of reason and nature. *t may be remarked that our more repulsi e realists ne er gi e us the benefit of their realism. it might e en strengthen it.reeks. *t might almost as truly be called the mistake of being natural. *t was much too #ueer to be an easy matter to discuss. 'hat mistake was too deep to be ideally defined. he would come to no harm. 'he wisest men in the world set out to be natural.reeks. or e en to cut off his nose to spite his face. . it had disco ered its own mistake. in its con ersion to +hristianity. 'he truth is people who worship health cannot remain healthy on the point. And an instance of this is found in the fact that nobody has written. the short1hand of it is to call it the mistake of nature1worship.obody has seen the scale or the strangeness of the story. 'he immediate effect of saluting the sun and the sunny sanity of nature was a per ersion spreading like a pestilence. eminently enlightened and intelligent. so long as it was a . . the great guides and pioneers of pagan anti#uity. that constituted the con ersion to +hristianity.reek nose. we could cite thousands of such things as part of the case for +hristian morals. whose sculptors had car ed the :enus of 2ilo. But that lesson was a psychological fact as well as a theological faith. &e might be so flippant as to say that man was simply to follow his nose.reeks themsel es is alone enough to illustrate the strange but certain fatality that attends upon this fallacy.of a certain lesson. and it was a ery natural mistake. &hy> *t would seem simple enough for the people whose poets had concei ed !elen of 'roy. *t would not weaken our thesis. &hen 2an goes straight he goes crooked. and that in accordance with something much deeper in human nature than nature1 worshippers could e er understand.reek was. to say that it was the highest that humanity e er reached.reeks themsel es begin to follow their own noses and their own notion of being natural.

*t was no metaphor to say that these people needed a new hea en and a new earth. or rather it was on the logical high road to wickedness. but by this time the purely popular thing called religion was certainly dragging them down. was that the whole world was coloured by dangerous and rapidly deteriorating passions. long before the end. 'housands of them had philosophy and family irtues and military honour to hold them up. +ases like that of . &hen this reaction against the e il is allowed for. to deepen it was only to darken it into black magic. 'he modern talk about se0 being free like any other sense. !ow could their case be met by looking at the sky. &e might say it had only been innocent because it was shallow.arden of Eden or a piece of thoroughly bad psychology. *t was not so much that the pagan world was wicked as that it was good enough to realise that its paganism was becoming wicked. &hat had happened to the human imagination. 'his is not to be confused with mere self1righteous sensationalism about the wickedness of the pagan world.reek teachers largely because she did not entirely consent to be taught these tricks. for they had really defiled their own earth and e en their own hea en. (ome rose at the e0pense of her . *n another and more literal sense its name was /an. because in the past it had only been innocent because it was young. 'here was no future for it. of which the world grew weary two thousand years ago. is either a description of the .ero ha e passed into a pro erb when Sadism sat on a throne brazen in the broad daylight. * mean that there was no future for 4natural magic4. She had a much more decent tradition. about the body being beautiful like any tree or flower. &hat was the matter with the whole heathen ci ilisation was that there nothing for the mass of men in the way of mysticism. 'here is something dangerous and disproportionate in its place in human nature. it is true to repeat that it was an e il that was e erywhere. 'hus the effect of treating se0 as only one innocent natural thing was that e ery other innocent natural thing became soaked and sodden with se0. we find nature1worship ine itably producing things that are against nature. For se0 cannot be admitted to a mere e#uality among elementary emotions or e0periences like eating and sleeping. by natural passions becoming unnatural passions.that the glad good news brought by the . such as se0 and growth and death. that is why the pagans became +hristians. *n the (oman Empire also. /agans were wiser that paganism. But the truth * mean is something much more subtle and uni ersal than a con entional catalogue of atrocities. 'he moment se0 ceases to be a ser ant it becomes a tyrant. and it does really need a special purification and dedication.ospel was the news of original sin. as a whole. which was necessarily in no small degree the heathen tradition of nature worship. for whate er reason. e0cept that concerned with the mystery of the nameless forces of nature. when erotic . but she ultimately suffered from the same fallacy in her religious tradition.

and of what sort was the god of their gardens.othing could purge this obsession but a religion that was literally unearthly. nothing but fiends now inhabited those hollow shrines. and how we think mostly of the memory of melancholy and innocent romances.legends were scrawled in stars across it. . but they were clean. there was not a flower or e en a star that had not been stained. perhaps in sight of a illage spire. the republic. feudal in so far as they were a sur i al of fierce wars with the barbarians. /an was nothing but panic. was dotted . certainly the gods could not. Francis and the transition from the twelfth to the thirteenth centuries. 'hey were like children. * do not mean for a moment. 'hey knew much better than we do what was the matter with them and what sort of demons at once tempted and tormented them. *taly. Anyhow it was no good to preach natural religion to people to whom nature had grown as unnatural as any religion. and one small e0ample may stand for the rest. :enus was nothing but enereal ice. 4'his sort goeth not out but by prayer and fasting. the first beginnings of their rude arts ha e all the clean pleasure of children. let anyone who knows a little 5atin poetry recall suddenly what would ha e once stood in place of the sun1dial or the fountain. more barbarous than themsel es. obscene and monstrous in the sun. often monastic and carrying a far more friendly and fatherly character. &e ha e to concei e them in Europe as a whole li ing under little local go ernments.od could not sa e it. 'he early +hurch called the gods of paganism de ils. 2en at the close of the dark Ages may ha e been rude and unlettered and unlearned in e erything but wars with heathen tribes. lies in the fact that they marked the end of this e0piation.othing distinguishes paganism from +hristianity so clearly as the fact that the indi idual thing called philosophy had little or nothing to do with the social thing called religion. . and it was the ery wisest thing it could do. *nto that desert and that ca ern the highest human intellect entered for some four centuries. and they wrote across that great space of history the te0t. or #uite as often of some gracious maiden lady or kindly old person pottering under a yew hedge. of course.othing but the stark supernatural stood up for its sal ation. if . 'hen.4 . *t was no good telling such people to ha e a natural religion full of stars and flowers. 'hey had to go into the desert where they could find no flowers or e en into the ca ern where they could see no stars. . &e know what sort of sentimental associations are called up to us by the phrase 4a garden4. and the Early +hurch was perfectly right. how could they learn anything from the lo e of birds and flowers after the sort of lo e stories that were told of them> *t is impossible here to multiply e idences. but it was as indi iduals that they differed from it. But in *taly something had sur i ed more typical of the finer spirit of anti#uity.ow the historical importance of St. that all the indi idual pagans were of this character e en to the end. still faintly imperial as far as (ome still ruled as a great legend. &hate er natural religion may ha e had to do with their beginnings.

with little states. &ith these unworldly aims it had long ago ci ilised a great part of the world. who was practically free as regards his own farm and family life. though they were generally se ere with themsel es and practical for other people. that o er all those first mo ements there was still something of that ancient austerity that came from the long penitentiary period. indeed it was undoubtedly almost as old as +hristianity. 'he great truisms about )ustice and pity can be found in the rudest monastic records of the barbaric transition or the stiffest ma0ims of the Byzantine decline. First. 'he monks had taught people to plough and sow as well as to read and write. but especially it was done in the spirit of a penance. but what may fairly be said of it is this. but it was still a grey twilight. e en the most original genius of the thirteenth century. in the sense that they not only practical but also se ere. but many lords were freeing sla es and serfs altogether. *n one sense. =ut of its deep gate under its high turrets was to come the message that was the gospel of the hour. 'his was done under the pressure of the priests. =ne of these stood in a steep and striking position on the wooded hills of 9mbria. of course. of course. ast and almost uni ersal. but when we come to the first medie al mo ements this sterner character is still apparent. *t is an e0aggeration to attribute it entirely to the inspiration of any one man. 'here was about such restitutions the atmosphere of the death1bed. any +atholic society must ha e an atmosphere of penance. . was far older than all these things. the mighty ci ilisation of the 2iddle Ages. largely democratic in their ideals. 'his may be illustrated by the mere mention of two or three of these reforms before the Franciscan reform. and often filled with real citizens. *ts counsels of perfection had always taken the form of ows of chastity and po erty and obedience. All this early monastic mo ement had long ago settled down and doubtless often deteriorated. 'he monastic institution itself.4 But it was out of all these fragmentary things of feudalism and freedom and remains of (oman 5aw that there were to rise.ot only was the sla e turning into a serf. the ancient social mould of sla ery was already beginning to melt. and its name was Assisi. But the city no longer lay open as under the (oman peace. but was pent in high walls for defence against feudal war and all the citizens had to be soldiers. at the beginning of the thirteenth century. *ts elementary ethics of fraternity and fair play had ne er been entirely e0tinct and +hristendom had ne er been anything less than +hristian. but * am speaking of that sterner spirit of penance which had e0piated the e0cesses of paganism. But it may truly be said that the monks were se erely practical. *t was the twilight of the morning. your ini#uity is pardoned. indeed they had taught the people nearly e erything the people knew. And early in the ele enth and twelfth centuries a larger moral mo ement had clearly begun. as many of them were doubtless were . 48our warfare is accomplished. 'hree e0amples may be taken to illustrate the point.

if he had said that men had only been freed from sla ery by the fear of hell. 'here is something in all these mo ements that is bracing e en while it is still bleak. in oking the name of 2ahomet. in seeking to recon#uer the !oly /laces. like a wind blowing between the clefts of the mountains. *ts ery cruelties are clean. undertaken from the highest moti es and ha ing the healthiest results. while it seems to a +atholic an insane simplification of religion. because it simplifies all to a single idea and so loses the breadth and balance of +atholicism.radually against this grey background beauty begins to appear. which refers back to the penance that followed paganism. as something really fresh and delicate and abo e all surprising. howe er noble. *t seemed to the heretic a sane simplification of religion. *ntrinsically it had a character found in many heresies from the 2oslem to the 2onist. Another e0ample was the sweeping reform of +hurch discipline by /ope . 'o anyone who can appreciate atmospheres there is something clear and clean about the atmosphere of this crude and often harsh society. .odfrey and the first +hristians who stormed 7erusalem were heroes if there were any in the world. it insisted on a more serious and self1sacrificing ideal for the life of the parish priest. for they no ha e longer any smell of per ersion. *ts ery lusts are clean. 'he third e0ample is in one sense the strongest of all. a heroic war and for many of us a holy war. But the ery fact that this largely took the form of making uni ersal the obligation of celibacy will strike the note of something which. . For the third e0ample was a war. 'he flowers and stars are ha e reco ered their . Anyhow its ob)ecti e character was that of a military danger to +hristendom and +hristendom had struck at the ery heart of it. *t really was a reform. A ery honest atheist with whom * once debated made use of the e0pression.regory the Se enth. would seem to many to be aguely negati e. it conducted a searching in#uisition against simony or the financial corruption of the clergy. is really the spirit of the time. 'here is no space here to say all that should be said about the true nature of the +rusades. austere and pure. he would ha e at least ha e been referring to an un#uestionable historical fact. but still ha ing all the stark and terrible responsibilities of war.4 As * pointed out to him. 'hey come either of a ery simple horror at blasphemy or a ery simple fury at an insult. 42en ha e only been kept in sla ery by the fear of hell. E erybody knows that in the ery darkest hour of the -ark Ages a sort of heresy had sprung up in Arabia and become a new religion of a military but nomadic sort. but they were the heroes of a tragedy. 'he great -uke .e0amples of death1bed repentance. they are not the lu0urious cruelties of the amphitheatre.ow * ha e taken these two or three e0amples of the earlier medie al mo ements in order to note about them one general character. 5o e returning is no longer what was once called platonic but what is still called chi alric lo e. of which the poet speaks. for it is the wind of a world that has at last been purified. 'hat wind.

Fire itself has been purified as by fire. 'he purge of paganism is complete at last. 'here would be something akin to his familiar and popular instinct in the notion that he was nicknamed ery much as an ordinary schoolboy might be called 4Frenchy4 at school. dark against the fading darkness. . from one who shall come to name them. which if not true would be none the less typical. According to this ersion his name was not Francis at all but 7ohn. 'he name of the father was /ietro Bernadone and he was a substantial citizen of the guild of the cloth merchants in the town of Assisi. and his companions called him 4Francesco4. 2an has stripped from his soul the last rag of nature worship. but they are already capable of being reconciled. &ater is no longer the water into which sla es were flung to feed the fishes. a night of igil. and behind him was the break of day. and about him was a burst of birds singing. *n either case the name had a certain significance. *t is hard to describe the position of such a man without some appreciation of such a guild and e en of such a town. For it was the end of a long and stern night. as connecting Francis from the first with what he himself regarded as the romantic fairy land of the 'roubadours. 'hey await a new reconciliation with man. &here his commercial success had filled him with so much enthusiasm for French taste and social usage that he ga e his son the new name signifying the Frank or Frenchman. 'he more probable story is that his mother had him named 7ohn when he was born in the absence of his father. 'hey are like all new things newly made and awaiting new names. CHAPTER III FRANCIS THE FIGHTER According to one tale. Fire is no longer that fire through which children were passed to 2oloch.first innocence. Fire and water are felt to be worthy to be the brother and sister of a saint. the ery name of St. !e stood with his hands lifted. *t did not e0actly correspond to anything that is meant in modern times either by a merchant or a man of business or a tradesman. or 4'he little Frenchman4 because of his passion for the French poetry of the 'roubadours. who shortly returned from a isit to France. Francis was not so much a name as a nickname. and can return to nature. not un isited by stars. stars stand no more as signs of the far frigidity of gods as cold as those cold fires. as in so many statues and pictures.either the uni erse nor the earth ha e now any longer the old sinister significance of the world. or anything that e0ists under the conditions . For water itself has been washed. Flowers smell no more of the forgotten garlands gathered in the garden of /riapus. &hile it was yet twilight a figure appeared silently and suddenly on a little hill abo e the city.

All are agreed that politeness flowed from him from the first. that is. Francis had all his life a great liking for people who had been put hopelessly in the wrong. and the lack of any organised police permitted such persons to pester the wealthy without any great danger. and it is possible that some such thing put the mendicant more than normally in the wrong. /erhaps he was all the more uneasy because of the almost fastidious standard of manners that came to him #uite naturally. *t kept all such people on their own simple le el. *t was a rude and simple society and there were no laws to punish a star ing man for e0pressing his need for food.of capitalism. but he belonged to a social order which e0isted to pre ent him being too prominent to be a citizen. in a way nati e to a man who ne er. but he e idently e0pected his own family to work in a way almost as plain as a peasant"s. one is tempted to guess. &hile he was selling el et and fine embroideries to some solid merchant of the town a beggar came imploring alms. 'his first glimpse of the young man in the market is symbolic in more ways than one. e idently in a somewhat tactless manner. and his guiless swagger as a 'roubadour and leader of French fashions made him a sort of romantic ringleader among the young men of the town. as any tradesman"s wife might say anywhere3 4!e is more like a prince than our son.4 But one of the earliest glimpses we ha e of him shows him as simply selling bales of cloth from a booth in the market. =n this occasion he seems to ha e dealt with the double inter iew with rather a di ided mind. long before it was transfigured by transcendental faith. !e was rich. he did not belong to an employing class as distinct from an employed class. But there was * belie e. such as ha e been established in a more humanitarian age. and no prosperity connoted that escape from drudgery by which in modern times the lad might ha e seemed to be a lord or a fine gentleman or something other than the cloth merchant"s son. in many places a local custom of the guild forbidding outsiders to interrupt a fair bargain. Bernadone may ha e employed people but he was not an employer. was about the last person that any man of business would employ if it were con enient to employ anybody else. An incident occurred which is perhaps the shortest and sharpest summary that could be gi en of certain curious things which were a part of his character. as a peasant may be rich by the work of his own family. e0actly understood what money was. all his life. who. possibly with irritation. like one of the public fountains in such a sunny *talian market place. !e was a prominent citizen. !e threw money about both in e0tra agance and bene olence. certainly with distraction. !e might ha e written among his own poems as his own motto that erse of 2r. Francis was one of those people who are popular with e erybody in any case. which his mother may or may not ha e belie ed to be one of the habits of princes. Belloc"s poem11 . 'his mo ed his mother to mingled e0ultation and e0asperation and she said. 'his is a rule that is pro ed e en in the e0ception. 'he person we definitely hear of his employing is his son Francis.

. of which we get the first flash in this tri ial incident. But * think that if there was one thing about which he was punctilious. 'he sweeping simplicity of this undertaking is e0tremely characteristic. =nly behind his perfectly natural urbanity were wider and e en wilder possibilities. e en of the most manly and military sort. he would seem to ha e most often thought of winning fame as a soldier. = er and abo e his main ambition to win fame as a French poet. Anyhow Francis was e idently torn two ways with the botheration of two talkers. if we realise that there was not at this time any e0ternal sign of anything particularly mystical about the young man.4=f +ourtesy. he had the human horror of leprosy of which few normal people felt any need to be ashamed. found the beggar was gone. left all the bales of el et and embroidery behind him apparently unprotected. and loaded the astonished mendicant with money. of rash ows that turned out right.od that he would ne er all his life refuse help to a poor man. But writing at a greater distance. But in this story of the young man in gay garments scampering after the anishing beggar in rags there are certain notes of his natural indi iduality that must be assumed from first to last. but rather increase it. !e had the lo e of gay and bright apparel which was inherent in the heraldic taste of medie al times and seems altogether to ha e been rather a festi e figure.od is in +ourtesy. and a time was to come when there was #uite as little doubt about the holiness and grace of . he would probably ha e preferred to paint it all the colours of the rainbow. *f there was one thing of which so humble a man could be said to be proud. and went racing across the market1place like an arrow from the bow. Francis leapt from his booth. naturally ali e with the great religious re olution that he wrought. looking for his beggar whom he e entually disco ered. !is life was one riot of rash ows. it was punctiliousness.e er was any man so little afraid of his own promises. he threaded the labrynth of the narrow and crooked streets of the little town. he was proud of good manners.4 . we shall not decrease that dramatic effect. . and swore before . so to speak. as in a medie al picture. !e had not anything of that early sense of his ocation that has belonged to some of the saints. but finished his business with the merchant somehow. Still running. for instance. it is much less 'han courage of heart or holiness 8et in my walks it seems to me 'hat the grace of . but he drew the line in both in kindness and bra ery pretty well where most boys would ha e drawn it. !e was born kind. he was bra e in the normal boyish fashion. and when he had finished it. e#ually naturally looked back to his first years chiefly for omens and signs of such a spiritual earth#uake. 'he first biographers of Francis. *f he did not paint the town red.od. 'hen he straightened himself.obody e er doubted that Francis Bernadone had courage of heart.

but he was ery emphatically a man of action. before it became supernatural ideal. Francis. something clearer as a rule to Southerners than to . he thought of them as two men. there is the spirit of swiftness. in a society from which it is absent. A certain precipitancy was the ery poise of his soul. he acted too soon and was too practical to be prudent. *t has nothing necessarily to do with the Franciscan lo e for men. he was ery practical indeed. but it was the original basis of the whole business. /erhaps a gentleman will ne er be fully an egalitarian until he can really #uarrel with his ser ant. *n a sense he continued running for the rest of his life. but it was founded on this high table land of human e#uality. . Bit if we mean by practicality a preference for prompt effort and energy o er doubt or delay. the #uite natural assumption of the e#uality of men. *n some of his early e0periments he was rather too much of a man of action. with flying feet or with feathers. But it was an antecedant condition of the Franciscan brotherhood. in the sense of rushing. but he was the ery re erse of a dreamer. &ith all his gentleness. 'his saint should be represented among the other saints as angels were sometimes represented in pictures of angels. But at e ery turn of his e0traordinary career we shall find him flinging himself around corners in the most une0pected fashion. as he ran after the beggar. there appeared in his portraiture a mere element of mildness which was true in the truest sense. on the contrary one of its merely practical tests is the e#uality of the duel. Another element implied in the story. Francis was ery impractical. *t was something ery puzzling to some people. and his ultimate aims were ery unworldly. and * think to +atholics than to /rotestants. 'his is a thing much more difficult to describe. but is easily misunderstood. * fancy. and some of our sceptics will no doubt demonstrate that courage really means running away.ortheners. felt a real doubt about which he must attend to. *n that sense St. he turned to attend the beggar. as when he flew through the streets after the beggar. Because nearly all the errands he ran were errands of mercy. was something that had ne er perhaps been wholly lost in those little republics of medie al *taly. there was originally something of impatience in his impetuosity. and we feel it in this early and secular incident.obody would be likely to call him a man of business.For instance. in the spirit of the te0t that makes angels winds and messengers a flaming fire. the beggar or the merchant. which was already partially a natural instinct. 'he psychological truth about it illustrates ery well the modern muddle about the word 4practical. But his courage was running. *t is a curiosity of language that courage actually means running. and ha ing attended to the merchant.4 *f we mean by what is practical what is most immediately practicable. it was why the popular mo ement arose in that sort of place and that sort of man. . !is imaginati e magnanimity rose like a tower to starry heights that might well seem dizzy and e en crazy. we merely mean what is easiest. Some might call him a madman.

*t is now fashionable to say in a satirical spirit that such wars did not so much break out as to go on idefinitely between the city states of medie al *taly. Ariosto and 'itian. Anyhow. the tocsin was rung at Assisi and the citizens armed. &ar had broken out between Assisi and /erugia. but they are too often used so as to be a sort of sentimental sediment of the medie al world. it must seem a rather curious fact that about three #uarters of the greatest men who e er li ed came out of these little towns and were often engaged in these little wars. and the ne0t story in which we get a glimpse of it is in a ery different setting. certain abysses of the mind and perhaps of the unconscious mind. as if by accident. as the saint emphatically is. and dwelt on its significance a little. 'here are often any number of them. not to mention +atherine of Siena and the sub)ect of this story. the house they inhabited. it might possibly ha e come within a remote distance of killing as many people as we kill in a year. that these things will not come till there is a city wall around +lapham and the tocsin is rung at night to arm the citizens of &imbledon. &e must take his human de elopment somewhat more seriously. 'o me it seems most probable that there had been some tale of treason or cowardice about the disaster. in one of our great modern scientific wars between our great modern industrial empires. !e went out to fight with some company of lancers and in some fight or other he and his little band were taken prisoners. but there has been no sign of anything of this sort since they became large. But the citizens of the medie al republic were certainly under the limitation of only being asked to die for the things with which they had always li ed. St. we must at least admit that these warring towns turned out a number of paralytics who go by the names of -ante and 2ichael Angelo. Francis still looks more or less like an ordinary young man. instead of being. for . Francis. *t will be enough to say here that if one of those medie al wars had really gone on without stopping for a century. that we realise what an e0traordinary young man he was. Francis is not a proper person to be patronised with merely 4pretty4 stories. the shrines they enerated and the rulers and representati es they new. 5eonardo and +olumbus. But in e0actly the same way it opens. &hile we lament all this local patriotism as a hubbub of the -ark Ages. and among them was Francis the son of the cloth merchant. because until we ha e learned to look for the significance there will often seem to be little but a sort of light sentiment in telling the story. and it is only when we look at him as an ordinary young man. and had not the larger ision calling for them to die for the latest rumours about remote colonies as reported in anonymous newspapers.* ha e taken this the first among a hundred tales of the youth of St. *t remains to be seen what will ultimately come out of our large towns. And if we infer from our own e0perience that war paralyzed ci ilization. and * ha e sometimes been haunted by a fancy of my youth. a challenge to the modern world.

all those things that hold many decent societies together. within himself. it is e0ceedingly doubtful if Francis himself saw it. *t is e ident that he had not at this time any notion of abandoning the military. And when he came across the mysterious outcast. the least inconsistency between lo ing men and fighting them.od himself will not listen4. or e en more serious about soldiering. something might almost ha e been lawless if it had not been reaching out to a more di ine law. mo ed among his capti e companions with all his characteristic courtesy and e en con i iality. but is doubtful whether he new the law was di ine. somebody noted a small but rather curious thing. But though such a seer might ha e seen such a truth. a deep tide dri ing out to uncharted seas of charity. neither with coldness or compassion. About this time the first calamity crossed his path in the form of a malady which was to re isit him many times and hamper his headlong career. it is generally because the military blame for the surrender is thrown on some indi idual. But it seems to me that there was more than this in ol ed. could ne er hold this man at all. 4liberal and hilarious4 as somebody said of him. Francis. traitor or coward or whate er he was called. something to which he was blind that he might see better and more beautiful things. or in the fine medie al phrase largesse. !e might well ha e heard the first whisper of that wild blessing that afterwards took the form of a blasphemy. but especially those whom e erybody disliked him for liking. but with the same unaffected gaiety and good fellowship. For in this sense there was really something wanting in Francis of Assisi. something . All those limits in good fellowship and good form. resol ed to keep up their spirits and his own. though it might seem rather negati e than positi e. *t is true that there is not. all those social scruples and con entional conditions that are normal and e en noble in ordinary men. Anyhow. as pacifists and prigs imagine. But if there had been present in that prison someone with a sort of second sight about the truth and trend of spiritual things. if we fight them fairly and for a good cause. but one fancies it would only ha e made him a more serious soldier. Sickness made him more serious. And while he was reco ering. we are told. he simply treated him e0actly like all the rest. 4!e listens to those whom . !e liked as he liked. all those landmarks of social life that di ide the tolerable and the intolerable.we are told that there was one of the capti es with whom his fellow1 prisoners flatly refused to associate e en in prison. !e had acted out of an unconscious largeness. still less of adopting the monastic life. he seems to ha e liked e erybody. and when this happens in such circumstances. Something ery ast and uni ersal was already present in that narrow dungeon. and such a seer might ha e seen in its darkness that red halo of caritas caritatum which marks one saint among saints as well as among men. that the mind of the young man was really running towards a military morality in any case. he might ha e known he was in the presence of something new and seemingly almost anarchic.

who had already fought a hundred wars with the heathen.authier was called in aroused enthusiasm among a number of young Assisians. it was a world of little things concerned with great things.authier de Brienne. *t is likely enough that after all those centuries of hopeless war without and ruthless asceticism within. a great deal older than England is now. it is certain that some people began to think it dull. 'he legal authority of the Assisian magistrates might hardly reach further than a bow1shot from their high embattled city walls. perhaps his French name had something to do with it. 'he +hurch looked old then as now. who proposed to march into Apulia on the count"s behalf. and in the legend was bidden by an angel to go forth and fight once more though he was two thousand years old. almost as old as she does now. possibly older than she does now. the +hurch was then rather older than France is now. 'he creed was still being repeated after the ictory or escape. 'here was more internationalism in the lands dotted with tiny republics than in the huge homogeneous impenetrable national di isions of to1day.rather larger than the little fueds and raids of the *talian towns opened an a enue of ad enture and ambition. including Francis. . And she looked old then. but it is not unnatural to suppose that there was something a little monotonous about the repitition. And there are se eral things about the religious position at that particular moment which modern people not unnaturally fail to realise.erman forests or the great /ope dying in the e0ile of Salerno. 'he +hurch had topped her thousand years and turned the corner for the second thousand.othing can be more uni ersal than the uni erse.ormans through Sicily or the palace of the 'roubadours at 'oulouse. For one thing. a considerable centre of contro ersy at the time. which always comes to Europeans as something fresh when their own sanity seems to be something stale. For it must ne er be forgotten that though that world was in one sense a world of little things. But their sympathies might be with the ride of the . and e en early people. she had come through the -ark Ages in which nothing could be done e0cept desperate fighting against the barbarians and the stubborn repitition of the creed. modern people naturally think of people so remote as ancient people. 'he 'roubadours of the /ro encal mo ement had already begun to take that turn or twist towards =riental fancies and the parado0 of pessimism. &e feel aguely that these things happened in the first ages of the +hurch. Abo e all. 'he freshness and freedom of the first +hristians seemed then as much as now a lost and . and there were some who thought her dying as now. with the Emperor throned in the . 'hat is. it must be remembered that when the interests of an age are mainly religious they must be uni ersal. the official orthodo0y seemed to be something stale. *n truth orthodo0y was not dead but it may ha e been dull. was apparently claimed by a certain . and the /apal cause to aid which . 'he crown of Sicily. 'he +hurch was already a good deal more than a thousand years old. 'he +hurch looked like great +harlemagne with the long white beard.

though in him that glory would always ha e been identical with honour. that he had ridden away long before he was fit to mo e. apparently in the open country. And in the darkness of this second and fare more desolating interruption. a ery dismal and disappointed and perhaps e en derided figure. perhaps. but in which he was afterwards to find many flowers. all bearing the sacred sign. 4* shall come back a great prince. *t was his first descent into a dark ra ine that is called the alley of humiliation. and was e idently an accomplished ca alier and fighting man by the tests of the camp. *t was while he was drifting. But he was not only disappointed and humiliated. about the streets of Assisi and the fields outside the city wall. but it seems clear that he was also in a mood which thirsted for glory. that an incident occurred to him which has not always been immediately connected with the business of the dreams. the +hurch was really wiser but it may well ha e seemed wearier than the world. but the light was blank and the plain was flat. And he knew instantly that his courage was challenged. which seemed to him ery rocky and desolate. 48ou ha e mistaken the meaning of the ision. !e would doubtless at any time ha e preferred a +hristian sort of chi alry. =nly the light lay on the great plain around (ome. in the light of his impetuous temper.4 A little way along the road his sickness rose again and threw him.4 And Francis trailed back in his sickness to Assisi. he was ery much puzzled and bewildered. about the mad metaphysics that had been blown across out of Asia. 'here came to him in the darkness a ision splendid with swords. !e was riding listlessly in some wayside place. !e delighted in all the e0ercises of chi alry. when he saw a figure coming along the road towards him and halted. and there was no stir in the still air and the immemorial silence about the sacred town. and he could not imagine what they could possibly mean. with nothing to do but wait for what should happen ne0t. (ome was still more rational than anything else. and rushed out to take horse and arms. !e still firmly belie ed that his two dreams must ha e meant something. !e was not without some ision of that wreath of laurel which +easar has left for all the 5atins. not as the world . &hen he awoke he accepted the dream as a trumpet bidding him to the battlefield. *t seems highly probable. !igh in the dark house of Assisi Francesco Bernadonne slept and dreamed of arms. patterned after the cross in the +rusading fashion. As he rode out to war the great gate in the deep wall of Assisi resounded with his last boast. but which seems to me the ob ious culmination of them.almost prehistoric age of gold. of spears and shields and helmets hung in a high armoury. 'here was something more ad enturous and alluring. one might e en say mooning. (eturn to your own town. for he saw it was a leper. -reams were gathering like dark clouds o er the 2idi to break in a thunder of anathema and ci il war. he seems to ha e had another dream in which a oice said to him.

4 Francis sprang up and went. of which he had always thought as a courageous man thinks of mere ulgar danger. for whom he did many ser ices. probably he had gone and done it before he had at all thoroughly thought out what he had done. seest thou not that my house is in ruins> . nor the armies that fought for the crown of Sicily. 4Francis. when it was unfolded in the full Franciscan life. and ha e e entually decided to state first of all what happened. the fear that comes from within and not without. CHAPTER IV FRANCIS THE BUILDER &e ha e now reached the great break in the life of Francis of Assisi. he could see no figure on the road. but as one would challenge who knew the secrets of the heart of a man. 'hen he sprang from his horse. 'he story ery largely re ol es around the ruins of the +hurch of St. an old shrine in Assisi which was apparently neglected and falling to pieces. *n dealing with this difficult passage. especially for my own purpose of making things moderately easy for the more secular sympathiser.challenges.o and restore it for me.od has not broken to make anew. !ere Francis was in the habit of praying before the crucifi0 during those dark and aimless days of transition which followed the tragical collapse of all his military ambitions. he stole. what happened was this. *n the coarse con entional language of the uncomprehending world. As he did so he heard a oice saying to him. probably made bitter by some loss of social prestige terrible to his sensiti e spirit. 'he fuller meaning may be debated more easily afterwards. with little more of a hint of what * imagine to ha e been the meaning of what happened. knowing nothing between stillness and swiftness. Anyway. &hat he saw ad ancing was not the banner and spears of /erugia. * ha e hesitated as to the more proper course. but it is said that when he looked back. For once in the long rush of his life his soul must ha e stood still. From his own . or with what sense of the things around him. to this man he ga e what money he could and mounted and rode on. &e do not know how far he rode. 'o go and do something was one of the dri ing demands of his nature. who are ordinary and selfish men whom . and rushed on the leper and threw his arms around him. -amien. the point at which something happened to him that must remain greatly dark to most of us. *t was the beginning of a long ocation of ministry among many lepers. though it stood white and horrible in the sunlight. from which it ne er occurred to him to shrink. Francis Bernadone saw his fear coming up the road towards him. *n any case what he had done was something ery decisi e and immediately ery disastrous for his singular social career.

od he had only succeeded in bringing his own house about his ears and lying buried under the ruins. making the sign of the cross o er them to indicate their pious and charitable destination. in the rebuilding of St. the incident would then terminate. !e was no longer crushed. and altogether. /eter Bernadone did not see things in this light. e en the ery clothes he has gi en me. !e and his father were summoned in the court of the bishop.od. but now * am the ser ant of . he e0tended to his enerable father /eter Bernadone the e0#uisite e0citement and inestimable pri ilege of assisting. 'here was a new air about Francis. *nstead of understanding in what sort of a wind and flame of abstract appetites the lad was li ing. and they saw that it was a hair1shirt. the whole world had turned o er. so to speak. Anyhow. at one time the wretched young man seems to ha e disappeared underground. more or less unconsciously. -amiens +hurch. 'he bishop addressed some remarks to him. it was his blackest moment. the whole world was on top of him. !e told Francis that he must un#uestionably restore the money to his father. for Francis had refused the authority of all legal tribunals. . yet his words do not. so far as his father was concerned.4 And he rent off all his garments e0cept one. 'hey are rather remotely akin to the mysterious utterances of his great model. in his efforts to build up the house of . into some ca ern or cellar where he remained huddled hopelessly in the darkness. 'he #uarrel dragged drearily through se eral stages. in a legal and literal fashion.enthusiastic point of iew. and in short $to put it crudely% if the young fanatic would gi e back his money to the old fool. and himself put his son under lock and key as a ulgar thief. * think. *t would appear that the cry was caught up among many with whom the unlucky Francis had once been popular. !e used absolute political powers like a heathen father. instead of simply telling him $as the priest practically did later% that he done an indefensible thing with the best intentions. 49p to this time * ha e called /ietro Bernadone father.ot only the money but e erything that can be called his * will restore to my father. still less crawling. &hen he came out. *n point of fact what he did first was to sell his own horse and then go off and sell se eral bales of his father"s cloth. /eter Bernadone indeed had not ery much light to see by. that no blessing could follow a work done by un)ust methods. indicate either )ust indignation or wanton insult or anything in the nature of a mere continuation of the #uarrel. full of that e0cellent common sense which the +atholic +hurch keeps permanently as the background for all the fiery attitudes of her saints.4 !e stood up before them all and said. old Bernadone took up the matter in the hardest style. . 4&hat ha e * to do with thee>4 or e en the terrible 4'ouch me not. it was only perhaps gradually that anybody grasped that something had happened. so far as understanding the genius and temperament of his e0traordinary son was concerned.

rather bewildering #uestions of legal claim. but they were acti ities of a new sort. he sang in the tongue of the 'roubadours. and snow was on the ground. A curious detail. re ersing the parable. and it was in his nati e language that he ultimately won fame as a poet. and as he went under the frosty trees. 'he way to build a church is not to pay for it. 'he way to build a church is not to pay for it e en with your own money. and recei ed his blessing. !e went about by himself collecting stones. * fancy. &hat that significance was. went out as he was into the cold world. 'he way to build a church is to build it. *t was apparently noted as remarkable that the language in which he sang was French. according to the account. it is enough to record that while he wandered in the winter forest in his hair1shirt. like one who turns his back on society. as happened to him again and again throughout his e0traordinary e0istence. to him. or may well ha e been. and. !e begged all the people he met to gi e him stones. And for the purpose of this purely narrati e part of the business. 'here had dawned on him one of those great parado0es that are also platitudes. 'hat problem still predominated in his mind and was soon engaging his insatiable acti ities. certainly not with somebody else"s money. the ery #ueerness of the re#uest ga e it a sort . !e was penniless. and he made no more attempts to interfere with commercial ethics of the town of Assisi. which meant the ultimate reco ery not the ultimate refusal of natural things. which had been the starting point of the saint"s innocent crime and beatific punishment. 'hen he turned to the bishop. it was for him pre1eminently the language of romance. indeed St. *n fact he became a new sort of beggar. Apparently it was literally a cold world at the moment. a beggar who asks not for bread but stone. /robably. 2eanwhile the narrati e naturally re erts to the problem of the ruined or at least neglected church. 'hat it broke from him in this e0traordinary e0tremity seems to me something at first sight ery strange and in the last analysis ery significant.!e piled the garments in a heap on the floor and threw the money on top of them. it is enough to indicate here that the whole philosophy of St. *t was not his nati e language. he was to all appearances without a trade or a plan or a hope in the world. Francis is one of the ery first of the national poets in the purely national dialects of Europe. ery deep in its significance. is gi en in the same account of this great crisis in his life. he was parentless. * will try to suggest in the subse#uent chapter. !e realised that the way to build a church is not to become entangled in bargains and. !e went out half1naked in his hair shirt into the winter woods. walking the frozen ground between the frosty trees3 a man without a father. like the ery wildest of the hermits. he burst suddenly into song. Francis re ol ed around the idea of a new supernatural light on natural things. But it was the language with which all his most boyish ardours and ambitions had been identified. or that /ro encal which was called for con enience French.

!ow early the plan appeared in his own mind it is of course impossible to say. -amien.ew 'estament.of popularity. And the church of the /ortiuncula will remain fore er as one of the great historic buildings of the world. for it was that of an in ocation of the simplification of life as suggested in the . as a sort of plan or ordered scheme of life. something that has often enough fallen into ruin but has ne er been past rebuilding. which made it seem like a symbolical drama. -amian afterwards became the seat of his striking e0periment of a female order. A ast number of stories are told about Francis at this as at e ery other period of his life. it is best to dwell on this definite re1entrance of the saint into the world by the low gate of physical labour. 'he account gi en of the form of their dedication is. At this time. !e was not only disco ering the general lesson that his glory was not to be in o erthrowing men in battle but in building up the positi e and creati e monuments of peace. 'he adoration of +hrist had been a part of the man"s passionate nature for a long time past. howe er. as they would ha e done with a bet. 2ary of the Angels at the /ortiuncula. may in that sense may be said to begin here. or beginning to build it up. But the imitation of +hrist. 'he ne0t stage in his progress is probably marked by his transferring the same energies of architectural reconstruction to the little church of St. !e was truly building up something else. /eter. led many of his most de out biographers to note the numerical symbolism of the three churches. against which the gates of hell shall not pre ail. and all sorts of idle and lu0urious people fell in with the bene olent pro)ect. and rebuilding something else as well as the church of St. which is one of simplification. !e had already done something of the same kind at a church dedicated to St. *t is true enough in this sense that he was labouring at a double task. it was the home of many homeless men. +lare. a church that could always be built anew though it had rotted away to its first foundation stone. All his actions had something of the character of an allegory. but on the face of e ents it first takes the form of a few friends who attached themsel es to him one by one because they shared his own passion for simplicity. . 'here was at any rate a more historical and practical symbolism about two of them. For the original church of St. like his shadow thrown upon the wall. howe er. and that #uality in his life noted abo e. and it is likely enough that some leaden1witted scientific historian may some day try to pro e that he himself was ne er anything but an allegory. for it was here that he gathered the little knot of friends and enthusiasts. 'here does indeed run through the whole of his life a sort of double meaning. dragging the material like a beast of burden and learning the ery last and lowest lessons of toil. but for the purpose here. !e worked with his own hands at the rebuilding of the church. and of the pure and spiritual romance of St. it is not clear that he had the definite idea of any such monastic de elopments. significant.

Bernard of 6uinta ille occupies in the story something of the position of Sir Bedi ere. the one of comforts in the world and the other of ambition in the church. as being rather a superstition of pagans. but it is certain that they remained friends to the end. a practice not unknown among /rotestants though open to their criticism. of ha ing first percei ed something of what was happening in the world of the soul were a solid and wealthy citizen named Bernard of 6uinta ille and a canon from a neighbouring church named /eter. for he descended from a chair of spiritual authority. one would think. to follow an e0tra agant young eccentric whom most people probably regarded as a maniac. almost like children talking a secret language. 'hey were not monks e0cept perhaps in the most literal and archaic sense which was identical with hermits. 'he stir of something that had in it the promise of a mo ement or a mission can first be felt as * ha e said in the affair of the appeal to the . may be suggested later so far as it can be suggested at all. and that something not altogether unworthy of comment. but not as a society. if one may put it so. probably when he was already a man of mature years and therefore of fi0ed mental habits. of which Francis had seen the glory. Francis certainly opened them at random.od do impossible things because to him all things were possible. At this stage we need profess to see no more than all Assisi saw.4 for he reappears at the right hand side of the saint on his deathbed and recei es some sort of special blessing. &hat it was which they had caught a glimpse. 'hese three strange figures are said to ha e built themsel es a sort of hut or den ad)oining the leper hospital. and the two were men with much to gi e up. =f these indi idual elements on their first friendship we can say little with certainty. According to one story. he . Bernard the rich burgher did #uite literally and finally sell all he had and gi e it to the poor. in the terms of their new life. Anyhow it seems almost the opposite of searching the Scriptures to open them at random.'he two men who ha e the credit.ew 'estament. 'here they talked to each other. only a priest who rent his robes like the /ublican and not like the /harisee and a rich man who went away )oyful. 'he citizens of Assisi only saw the camel go in triumph through the eye of the needle and . /eter did e en more. in the inter als of drudgery and danger $for it needed ten times more courage to look after a leper than to fight for the crown of Sicily%. But all these things belong to another historical world and were #uite remote from the ragged and fantastic trio in their tumble1down hut. for he had no possessions. *t was a sort of sors igiliana applied to the Bible. as seen from the outside doubtless indi idual to the point of insanity. so to speak. but St. apparently. *t is the more to their credit because Francis. 4first made and latest left of Arthur"s knights. 'he whole thing seems to ha e been intensely indi idual. was by this time wallowing in po erty and association with lepers and ragged mendicants. 'hey were. three solitaries li ing together socially.

'he thirteenth century was certainly a progressi e period. the towns and the trading guilds and the manual crafts. neither scrip nor staff nor any money. for it was after this oracle. +ommon sense was commoner in the 2iddle Ages.ospel of the day. But from the former ersion at least it would seem that the incident occurred ery early indeed in his new life. apparently. * think.merely made the sign of the cross o er the olume of the . 'he second was the commandment to the disciples to take nothing with them on their )ourney. that some e en thought it too singular. *f this be so. the +hurch and all its institutions had already the air of being old and settled and sensible things. but men like Francis are not common in any age. almost as accidentally. than the moderns who struggle madly between star ation and the monopolist prizes of capitalism. And we cannot measure the beauty and . e0aggerate this potential public sympathy. As has already been suggested. *t is really and truly an e0ample of an epoch of reforms without re olutions. *t must of course ha e been a rather public sort of hermitage. perhaps the only really progressi e period in human history. St. that Bernard the first disciple rushed forth and scattered all his goods among the poor. but it was none the less in a ery real sense withdrawn from the world. Simeon Stylites on the top of his pillar was in one sense an e0ceedingly public character. the monastic institutions amongst the rest. literally to be called crucial. but it likely enough that the ma)ority of citizens were as hard1headed as peasants. nor are they to be fully understood merely by the e0ercise of common sense. that the follower of +hrist must also carry his cross. But it can truly be called progressi e precisely because its progress was ery orderly. . but there was something a little singular in his situation for all that. But the reforms were not only progressi e but ery practical. 'he first was the tale of the rich young man whose refusal to sell all his goods was the occasion of the great parado0 about the camel and the needle. *t must be presumed that most people thought the situation of Francis singular. But we must not at this stage. +ertainly the beha iour of the enerable /ietro Bernadone does not indicate a delicate sympathy with the fine and almost fanciful subtleties of the Franciscan spirit. merely in listening to what happened to be the . 'he third was that saying. 'hey were much more economically e#ual. than in our own rather )umpy )ournalistic age. 'here was ine itably indeed in any +atholic society something ultimate and e en subconscious that was at least capable of comprehending it better than a pagan or puritan society could comprehend it. * think. 'here is a somewhat similar story of St.ospel and opened it at three places reading three te0ts. they were much more )ustly go erned in their own economic en ironment. and they were ery much to the ad antage of highly practical institutions.ow the solid men of town and guild in the time of Francis of Assisi were probably ery solid indeed. it would seem that nothing followed it for the moment e0cept the indi idual ascetical life with the hut for a hermitage. Francis finding one of these te0ts.

ine itably inade#uate. !e then runs about the town asking e erybody he meets to gi e him fragments of buildings or building materials. . but presumably he already begged for bread as he had begged for building materials. !e then proceeds to take off his clothes in public and practically throw them at his father. 2ost peasants ha e few . !ow he li ed at all must ha e seemed to them dubious. and architectural restoration like other things is not best performed by builders who. to indicate the inside of the story of the building of the three churches and the little hut. and it was probably something much uglier as an e0perience than the refined simplicity which egetarians and water drinkers would call the simple life. and the only e0planation he will offer is that a loud oice from nowhere spoke in his ear and told him to mend the cracks and holes in a particular wall. for the stalest crusts or something less lu0urious than the crumbs which the dogs eat. but presumably only because the peasant ga e him his ery oldest brown tunic. But he was always ery careful to beg for the blackest or worst bread he could get. *n this chapter * ha e but outlined it from the outside. As he dealt with the #uestion of food. !e dealt with it. *n plain fact he was ready to li e on refuse. and not e en the best of what he could get. and he would doubtless ha e been content to change them with a scarecrow. unless we ha e the humour and human sympathy to put into plain words how it would ha e looked to such an unsympathetic person at the time when it happened. According to one story he changed clothes with a beggar. with no feeling about the incident e0cept annoyance. but preferably not by somebody who is himself cracked.originality of this strange spiritual ad enture. announcing at the same time that his father is not his father at all. which was probably ery old indeed. when thus seen from the outside. so he apparently dealt with the #uestion of clothing. and which fell from the rich man"s table. as we should say. *n the ne0t chapter * shall make an attempt. And in concluding that chapter * ask the reader to remember and realize what the story really looked like. 'hus he probably fared worse than an ordinary beggar. Finally the wretched youth relapses into rags and s#ualor and practically crawls away into the gutter. and takes refuge with an amiable bishop who is forced to remonstrate with him and tell him he is wrong. for the beggar would eat the best he could get and the saint ate the worst he could get. ha e a tile loose. upon the same principle of taking what he could get. apparently with reference to his old monomania about mending the wall. !e then declared himself naturally independant of all powers corresponding to the police or magistrates. and how would the story seem to stand> A young fool or rascal is caught robbing his father and selling goods which he ought to guard. 'hat is the spectacle that Francis must ha e presented to a ery large number of his neighbours and friends. *n another ersion he got hold of the rough brown tunic of a peasant.i en a critic of rather coarse common sense. *t may be an e0cellent thing that cracks should be filled up. that is.

in that. 'en years later that make1shift costume was the uniform of fi e thousand men. E erybody knows who the 'roubadours were. *ts chief product was a school of poetry. e erybody knows that ery early in the 2iddle Ages. 'hey were primarily lo e1poets. Something more 2ay be said of them when we come to summarise his relation to history. 'here was what was called the 4. it is enough to note here in a few sentences the facts about them that were rele ant to him. *ndeed they are at once too numerous for selection and yet too slight for satisfaction. they were called by their leader the 7ongleurs de -ieu. like rags from a succession of dust bins.4 the attempt to reduce to a sort of system the fine shades of flirtation and philandering. though they were often also satirists and critics of things in general.changes of clothing to gi e away. But when he and his spiritual companions came out to do their spiritual work in the world. CHAPTER V LE JONGLEUR DE DIEU 2any signs and symbols might yet be used to gi e a hint of what really happened in the mind of the young poet of Assisi.ay Science. for a pontifical panoply. great as was their influence in history and their influence on St. 'here were the . they called themsel es 'roubadours. there arose a ci ilisation in Southern France which threatened to ri al or eclipse the rising tradition of /aris. in the twelfth and early thirteenth centuries. and some peasants are not specially inclined to gi e them away unless absolutely necessary. rather as the ery destitute tramp will sometimes tie his clothes together with a piece of string. they were minstrels as well as men of letters. 'heir pictures#ue posture in history is largely due to the fact that they sang their own poems and often played their own accompaniments. or rather more especially a school of poets. !e undoubtedly meant it as a shabby e0pedient. and especially the particular point now in #uestion. they laid great -ante in the gra e. on the light musical instruments of the period. and a hundred years later.othing has been said here at any length of the great culture of the 'roubadours as it appeared in /ro ence or 5anguedoc. which was the most rele ant of all. Francis. . *t is said that in place of the girdle which he had flung off $perhaps with the more symbolic scorn because it probably carried the purse or wallet by the fashion of the period% he picked up a rope more or less at random. But one of them may be adumbrated in this small and apparently accidental fact. Allied to their lo e1poetry were other institutions of a decorati e and fanciful kind concerned with the same theme. that when he and his secular companions carried their pageant of poetry through the town. because it was lying near. !e meant to strike the note of collecting his clothes anyway. and tied it round his waist.

the troubadour would e0alt the company with earnest and solemn strains of lo e and then the )ongleur would do his turn as a sort as a sort of comic relief. unsound. * imagine. 'hese men could feel almost like lo ers. of the tale about 'aillifer the 7ongleur at the Battle of !astings. they were separate men as well as separate trades. )ust as the pessimist heresy it produced was in one sense an e0cess of spirituality. sometimes it was so airy as to be almost allegorical. 'he reader realises that the lady is the most beautiful being that can possibly e0ist. but we should in any case be e#ually sure she was not his mistress. sometimes he was what we should call a )uggler. 'he )ongleur was properly a )oculator or )ester. 'here was a strain in the southern romance that was actually an e0cess of spirituality. e en if the same man were both a troubadour and a )ongleur. &e know that Beatrice was not his wife. 'he lo e was not always animal. Sometimes he may been e en a tumbler. *n many cases. 'his is the point. A glorious medie al romance remains to be written about two such companions wandering through . only he has occasional doubts as to whether she does e0ist. like that acrobat in the beautiful legend who was called 4'he 'umbler of =ur 5ady. we may imagine.uo a and has been in lo e. But though they were abstract passions they were ery passionate passions. Francis. for which he was nobly thanked and comforted by her and the whole company of hea en. but it is a mistake to suppose that its only danger of e0aggeration was in the direction of sensualism. *t is necessary to realise that St. 2ore often. 'here is one point in this part of the business that must be remembered in relation to St. * belie e. 'here were manifest moral dangers in all this superb sentimentalism.things called +ourts of 5o e. e en about allegories and abstractions. -ante owed something to the 'roubadours.ay Science. *n the ordinary way. *t is especially concerned with the transition from one to the other. who sang the death of (oland while he tossed up his sword and caught it. * belie e.4 because he turned head o er heels and stood on his head before the image of the Blessed :irgin. and the critical debates about his ideal woman are an e0cellent e0ample of these doubts. as a )uggler catches balls. so to speak. in which the same delicate sub)ects were dealt with legal pomp and pedantry. apparently the two men would walk the world together like companions in arms. and some critics ha e e en suggested that she was nothing at all. or rather companions in arts. Francis was talking the true language of a troubadour when he said that he also had a most glorious and gracious lady and that her name was po erty. But the particular point to be noted here is not concerned so much with the word 'roubadour as with the word 7ongleur. But the ery fact that it is possible to suggest it illustrates something abstract and scholastic in these medie al passions. it would seem unsound to any man who has read the :it . A )ongleur was not the same thing as a troubadour. 'his idea of Beatrice as an allegorical figure is. e0cept his muse. and for this it is necessary to grasp another detail about the poets of the .

Francis sees e ery day. Francis. and we must endea our howe er insufficiently to penetrate past the image to the idea. we shall come ery near to the point of it. . the )ester was presumably the ser ant or at least the secondary figure. so much more bright and #uaint and arresting.the world. At any rate. because there is hardly any other figure that will make the fact clear. !e looked at the world as differently from other men as if he had come out of that dark hole walking on his hands.ow it really is a fact that any scene such as a landscape can sometimes be more clearly and freshly seen if it is seen upside down. Francis called his followers the 7ongleurs de -ieu. 'here was. the truth of St. But in the inward sense it was a profound spiritual re olution. 'his parallel of the two poets or minstrels is perhaps the best preliminary and e0ternal statement of the Franciscan change of heart. 'he )ester could be free when the knight was rigid. And when St. as under a parable. and it was possible to be a )ester in the ser ice which is perfect freedom. which was really like the re ersal of a complete somersault. St. to the same normal posture. !e did not . But herein is the essential part of the parable. Francis really meant what he said when he said he had found the secret of life in being the ser ant and the secondary figure. =ur 5ady"s 'umbler did not stand on his head in order to see flowers and trees as a clearer or #uainter ision. *t is so far like the tumblers that it is really to many people a topsy1tur y idea. does bear a certain resemblance to the world which a mystic like St. of course. *t was comparable to the condition of the )ongleur because it almost amounted to fri olity. a great deal more than this in ol ed. 'hus that in erted ision. or apparently came back. =f the two minstrels or entertainers. it is in the tale of the 'umbler of our 5ady. 'here was to be found ultimately in such ser ice a freedom almost amounting to fri olity. Francis. as if he were a ghost or a blessed spirit. in that by coming full circle it came back. And the effects of this on his attitude towards the actual world were really as e0tra agant as any parallel can make them. being concei ed under an image with which the imagination of the modern world has a certain sympathy. Somewhere in that transition from the ambition of the 'roubadour to the antics of the 'umbler is hidden. 'he man who went into the ca e was not the man who came out again. if there is one place in which the Franciscan spirit can be found outside the true Franciscan story. 'here ha e been landscape1painters who adopted the most startling and pantomimic postures in order to look at it for a moment in that fashion. *t is necessary to use the grotes#ue simile of an acrobatic antic. at the time or somewhere about the time when he disappeared into the prison or the dark ca ern. *f we apply this parable of =ur 5ady"s 'umbler to the case. underwent a re ersal of a certain psychological kind. in that sense he was almost as different as if he were dead. he meant something ery like the 'umblers of our 5ady.

the priest whose church he had restored. it would originally ha e been from the same moti e. And as he stared at the word 4fool4 written in luminous letters before him. for it was a war1horse. in ol ed his being in some sense flung suddenly from a horse. Francis. who has ridden horses or thought himself ready for a fight. =ur 5ady"s 'umbler stood on his head to please =ur 5ady. but in a sense it was an e en worse fall. there were elements that make the parallel of the 7ongleur or 'umbler e en more appropriate than this. All that part of his human nature had suffered the hea iest and most crushing blows. 'he reason * do . *f St. including the admiration of his fellow creatures. *t would be after this that his enthusiasm would e0tend itself and gi e a sort of halo to the edges of all earthly things. like the con ersion of St. the igil of asceticism which ends in the ision of a natural world made new. and it would ne er ha e occurred to him to do so. 'he whole point of him was that the secret of reco ering the natural pleasures lay in regarding them in the light of a supernatural pleasure. the bishop whose blessing he had recei ed. who has fancied himself as a troubadour and accepted the con entions of comradeship. like the stones in the road. ery small and distinct like a fly walking on a clear window pane. as he was #uite capable of doing. Any man who has been young. Francis had done the same thing. there would come a moment at the centre when he would seem to be climbing up and up. *t is certain that after his #uarrel with his father about the bales of cloth he was called a thief. and it was unmistakably a fool. * do not know whether this is true. By nature he was the sort of man who has that anity which is the opposite of pride. the word itself began to shine and change. that he had made a fool of himself. will appreciate the ponderous and crushing weight of that simple phrase. !e had made a fool of himself. there was not a rag of him left that was not ridiculous. *t is possible that after his humiliating return from his frustrated military campaign he was called a coward. But in the personal case there was e en more than this. Francis as a mere romantic forerunner of the (enaissance and a re i al of natural pleasures for their own sake. *n other words. &e used to be told in the nursery that if a man were to bore a hole through the centre of the earth and climb continually down and down. had e idently treated him with an almost humorous amiability which left only too clear the ultimate conclusion of the matter. that anity which is ery near to humility. 'he con ersion of St. *t was a solid ob)ecti e fact. !e ne er despised his fellow creatures and therefore he ne er despised the opinion of his fellow creatures. *t may be suspected that in that black cell or ca e Francis passed the blackest hours of his life. 'his is why it is not true to represent St.do so. And e en those who had sympathised most with him. /aul. E erybody knew that at the best he had made a fool of himself. he repeated in his own person that historic process noted in the introductory chapter. Anyhow. !e saw himself as an ob)ect. a moti e of a purely supernatural thought.

with all the trees and towers hanging head downwards as in a pool. And this also is an allegory. But the point is this3 that whereas to the normal eye the large masonry of its walls or the massi e foundations of its watchtowers and its high citadel would make it seem safer and more permanent. still less to crawl through it. he was wearing the same word 4fool4 as a feather in his cap. the town of Assisi upside down. *nstead of being merely proud of his strong city because it could not be mo ed. it need not ha e differed in a single detail from itself e0cept in being entirely the other way round. for the ery word dependence only means hanging. but he may ha e felt something #uite different. and the more candidly and calmly we read human history. *t is but a symbol. 'his state can only be represented in symbol. the more we shall come to the conclusion that it does happen. he would be the court fool of the ?ing of /aradise. But whate er else it was. it was so far analogous to the story of the man making a tunnel through the earth that it did mean a man going down and down until at some mysterious moment he begins to go up and up.od has hung the world upon nothing. *t would make i id the Scriptural te0t which says that . * for one do not profess to follow it any further than that first breaking down of the romantic barricades of boyish anity. for the purpose of this narrati e. *f * do not know what this re ersal or in ersion feels like. !e might see and lo e e ery tile on the steep roofs or e ery bird on the battlements. in one of his strange dreams.not know whether it is true is that * ne er happened to bore a hole through the centre of the earth. may be e0pressed by saying that when Francis came forth from his ca e of ision. or more than before. =f the intrinsic internal essence of the e0perience. we are ob iously incapable of saying that it does not happen. one effect would be to emphasise the idea of dependence. but the symbol of in ersion is true in another way. because we ha e ne er been there. he would . *f a man saw the world upside down. and especially the history of the wisest men. an indi idual guess at what he may ha e felt. &e cannot follow St. is an ordinary person who has ne er been there. *t is certain that the writer. as a crest or e en a crown. but it happens to fit the psychological fact. which * ha e suggested in the last paragraph. * make no pretence of writing at all. St. Francis to that final spiritual o erturn in which complete humiliation becomes complete holiness or happiness. But the e0ternal effect of it. it is because * ha e ne er been there. Francis might lo e his little town as much as before. the moment it was turned o er the ery same weight would make it seem more helpless and more in peril. Francis had seen. he would become more and more of a fool. of course. but he would see them all in a new and di ine light of eternal danger and dependence. is merely con)ectural. it is e en possible that the reader. &e ha e ne er gone up like that because we ha e ne er gone down like that. 'here is a 5atin and literal connection. but the nature of the lo e would be altered e en in being increased. *f St. And e en that paragraph. !e would go on being a fool.

the more he thinks of his good luck and of all the gifts of . /erhaps St.4 *t was by this deliberate idea of starting from zero. 'hus they become more e0traordinary by being e0plained. by which one for whom all things illustrate and illuminate . 4Blessed is he who e0pecteth nothing. *t is not only true that the less a man thinks of himself. more carelessly hospitable than we. for the other rather a result of faith. /eter saw the world so. *t is rather like the re ersal whereby a lo er might say at first sight that a lady looked like a flower. 'hat is the meaning of all those stories whether legendary or historical. when he was crucified head1downwards.od illustrates and illuminates all things. *t is commonly in a somewhat cynical sense that men ha e said. 'he transition from the good man to the saint is a sort of re olution. But there is more than this in ol ed. and they are in themsel es the best working e0ample of the idea. which for the artist is like the brilliant le in1blaze. For there is no way in which a man can earn a star or deser e a sunset. may be larger than the mountains. 4Blessed is he that e0pecteth nothing. For us the elements are like heralds who tell us with trumpet and tabard . A saint and a poet standing by the same flower might seem to say the same thing. that is. And it is the parado0 that by this pri ilege he is more familiar. shapeless or dumb or merely destructi e. in which he appears as a magician speaking the language of beasts and birds. for the saint is like the broad daylight. for he shall en)oy e erything. *t is also true that he sees more of the things themsel es when he sees more of their origin. but is still in a literal sense insignificant. 'hey spoke no longer in an unknown tongue. they would be telling different truths. more free and fraternal. and say afterwards that all flowers reminded him of his lady. for a thing is really wonderful when it is significant and not when it is insignificant.od Almighty that it had not been dropped. he sees things go forth from the di ine as children going forth from a familiar and accepted home. as most of us do.od becomes one for whom . and a monster. 'he mystic will ha e nothing to do with mere mystery.od. but indeed though they would both be telling the truth. upon the roads of the world. mere mystery is generally a mystery of ini#uity. Being in some mystical sense on the other side of things. For one the )oy of life is a cause of faith. they had deli ered their message. Francis the monsters had a meaning.4 *t was in a wholly happy and enthusiastic sense that St.od for not dropping the whole cosmos like a ast crystal to be shattered into falling stars. for their origin is a part of them and indeed the most important part of them. But one effect of the difference is that the sense of a di ine dependence. from the dark nothingness of his own deserts. that he did come to en)oy e en earthly things as few people ha e en)oyed them. instead of meeting them as they come out. !e has more wonder at them but less fear of them. for he shall not be disappointed.be thankful to . Francis said. For a mystic like St. and more indeed than is easily to be e0pressed in words. he would be thankful to .

homeless and apparently hopeless. with the illusion of ordinary life. at e ery instant. on the contrary. we might almost say the cold truth. (ossetti makes the remark somewhere. So arises out of this almost nihilistic abyss the noble thing that is called /raise. penniless.od does in some sense behold the beginningless beginnings in which there was really nothing else. bitterly but with great truth. 'his sense of the great gratitude and the sublime dependence was not a phrase or e en a sentiment. 'he con erse of this proposition is also true.od. as a +hristian would say upon . rather it is true that beside it all facts are fancies. !e who has seen the whole world hanging on a hair of the mercy of . there falls here also the shadow of that archetypal image of the bridge. 'hat ordinary life is an admirable thing in itself. ragged. !e who has seen the ision of his city upside1down has seen it the right way up. in some sense he is there when the foundations of the world are laid. !e praises the passage or transition from nonentity to entity. All goods look better when they look like gifts. But it is much more the ordinary life that is made of imagination than the contemplati e life.that we are drawing near the city of a great king.od. But it must always be remembered that e erything else . we commonly mean only that he praises the whole cosmos. But this sort of poet does really praise creation. !e not only appreciates e erything but the nothing of which e erything was made. 'he great painter boasted that he mi0ed all his colours with brains. which has gi en to the priest his archaic and mysterious name. the most purely )oyful moments that ha e been known to man. in such men as we are here considering. is not an illusion of imagination.od shouting for )oy. !e calls them his Brother Fire and his Sister &ater. and the great saint may be said to mi0 all his thoughts with thanks. 'hat we all depend in e ery detail. that the worst moment for the atheist is when he is really thankful and has nobody to thank. did indeed come forth singing such songs as might come from the stars of morning. as with curtains. 'hat is but a distant adumbration of the reason why the Franciscan. which no one will e er understand while he identifies it with nature1worship or pantheistic optimism. and shouting. as e en an agnostic would say upon e0istence and the nature of things. and it is certain that this gratitude produced. it is the fundamental fact which we co er up. &hen we say that a poet praises the whole creation. a son of . )ust as imagination is an admirable thing in itself. but he hails them with an old familiarity that is almost an old fri olity. it is the whole point that this was the ery rock of reality. *t was not a fancy but a fact. *n a fashion he endures and answers e en the earth#uake irony of the Book of 7ob.od has seen the truth. in the sense of the act of creation. with the morning stars singing together and the sons of . 'he mystic who passes through the moment when there is nothing but . *n this sense it is certain that the mystical method establishes a ery healthy e0ternal relation to e erything else.

especially when the debt is by hypothesis infinite and therefore unreco erable. but he generally loses something of his status. who straightway forgets what manner of man he was. and to make him sure of his position. *n other words debt and dependence do become pleasures in the presence of unspoilt lo e. one might almost say not genial enough to be ascetics. but abo e all it is the key of asceticism. but here the word is really the key.has for e er fallen into a second place. *t may seem a parado0 to say that a man may be transported with )oy to disco er that he is in debt. 2en who think they are too modern to understand this are in fact too mean to understand it. merely because he can erify his own e0istence in a parish register or a family Bible. for indeed they are both debtors and both creditors. !e will be always throwing things away into a bottomless pit of unfathomable thanks. but now * am the ser ant of . and the shortest statement of one aspect of this illumination is to say that it is the disco ery of an infinite debt. *n so far as ordinary social relations ha e in them something that seems solid and self1supporting. &e are not generous enough to be ascetics. the word is used too loosely and lu0uriously in popular simplifications like the present. and cannot be e0pected to gi e back. some sense of being at once buttressed and cushioned. *n so far as e en the secular authorities and hierarchies. in so far as they establish sanity in the sense of security and security in the sense of self1 sufficiency. the man who has seen the world hanging on a hair does ha e some difficulty in taking them so seriously as that. 'he mystic may ha e added a cubit to his stature. !e will be for e er gi ing back what he cannot gi e back. *n this sense the direct ision of di ine reality does disturb solemnities that are sane enough in themsel es. Such a man may ha e something of the appearance of the lunatic who has lost his name while preser ing his nature. 'here the infinite creditor does share the )oy of the infinite debtor. tend at once to put a man in his place. of which he commonly only catches a glimpse in first lo e. e en the most natural superiorities and the most necessary subordinations. A man must ha e magnanimity of surrender.4 All these profound matters must be suggested in short and imperfect phrases. in comparison with this simple fact of dependence on the di ine reality. the man who has seen the human hierarchy upside down will always ha e something of a smile for its superiorities. !e can no longer take himself for granted. But here again the parallel of a natural lo e1story of the nobler sort disposes of the difficulty in a flash. But whether he sees . like a glimpse of our lost Eden.od. we are most of us too mean to practise it. *t is the key of all the problems of Franciscan morality which puzzle the merely modern mind. *t is the highest and holiest of the parado0es that the man who really knows he cannot pay his debt will be for e er paying it. 4!itherto * ha e called /ietro Bernardone father. But this is only because in commercial cases the creditor does not generally share the transports of )oy.

'hey will ha e lost the clue to all that lo ers ha e meant by lo e. *t is certain that he held on this heroic or unnatural course from the moment when he went forth in his hair1 shirt into the winter woods to the moment when he desired e en in his death agony to lie bare upon the bare ground. he flung himself into fasting and igil e0actly as he had flung himself furiously into battle. But whether or no any such lesser things will throw a light on the greater. it was not a regimen or a stoical simplicity of life. and will not understand that it was because the thing was not demanded that it was done. 2en will ask what selfish sort of woman it must ha e been who ruthlessly e0acted tribute in the form of flowers. that the stars which passed abo e that gaunt and wasted corpse stark upon the rocky floor had for once. it had all the air of being as positi e as a pleasure. it is utterly useless to study a great thing like the Franciscan mo ement while remaining in the modern mood that murmurs against gloomy asceticism. and it is a bad debt. As soon as e er he had been unhorsed by the glorious humiliation of his ision of dependence on the di ine lo e. only one good thing. !e plunged after po erty as men ha e dug madly for gold. and there attached to it is another moral fact almost as undeniable. 'here was nothing negati e about it. to pro e that he had and that he was nothing. or is. that the whole world has. !e de oured fasting as a man de ours food. *f e er that rarer sort of romantic lo e. For it seems concei able that some barbarians might try to destroy chi alry in lo e. but there was no halt or check in the thundering impetuosity of his charge.od can ha e demanded sacrifice and self1denial. *t was not self1denial merely in the sense of self1control. as the barbarians ruling in Berlin destroyed chi alry in war. looked down upon a happy man. we may see some such misunderstanding as that of the modern world about asceticism. which was the truth that sustained the 'roubadours. in all their shining cycles round the world of labouring humanity. with almost as deep a certainty. the truth is in that riddle. or what an a aricious creature she can ha e been to demand solid gold in the form of a ring. And we can say. falls out of fashion and is treated as fiction. )ust as they ask what cruel kind of . CHAPTER VI THE LITTLE POOR MAN . *f that were e er so. 'he whole point about St. we should ha e the same sort of unintelligent sneers and unimaginati e #uestions. Francis of Assisi is that he certainly was ascetical and he certainly was not gloomy.it or not. !e had wheeled his charger clean round. And it is precisely the positi e and passionate #uality of this part of his personality that is a challenge to the modern mind in the whole problem of the pursuit of pleasure. *t was as positi e as a passion. 'here undeniably is the historical fact.

sa ing the grace of . All men who can think themsel es now realise that the great schoolmen had a type of thought that was wonderfully clear. !e was not only a humanist but a humourist. the man whom men met walking about on the *talian roads in his brown tunic tied with a rope. to add in this chapter a few touches to describe the result. 7ohnson. which belongs in another way to &illiam Blake or to +harles 5amb. But the modern world is more subtle in its sense of the things in which men are not at one. But it was not an age for the art of portrait1painting. and ha ing attempted in the last chapter a tentati e description of the process. going his own way and doing what nobody else would ha e done. 'he atmosphere can only be defined by a sort of antithesis. the popular and communal art of architecture.ietzsche li ing only for scorn. if one can use the word per ersity of an in ersion that was also a con ersion. but after it is said or done it is felt to be merely characteristic. E en among the saints he has the air of a sort of eccentric. 8et the friends of St. if one may use the word of one whose eccentricity consisted in always turning towards the centre. almost as we speak of a character in a good no el or play. a humourist especially in the old English sense of a man always in his humour. For that man. nobody would ha e tolerated a Schopenhauer scorning life or a . Francis in a way that marks him out from most men of his time. in the temperamental arieties and differentiations that make up the personal problems of life. Before the thing is said or done it cannot e en be con)ectured. 'his #uality of abrupt fitness and bewildering consistency belongs to St. *ts generalisations were saner and sounder than the mad materialistic theories of to1day. * mean by the result the real man as he was after his first formati e e0periences. that was a furnace of glowing gratitude and humility. emphatically what we call a character. All are now agreed that the greatest art of the age was the art of public buildings. there came forth one of the strongest and strangest and most original personalities that human history has known. 'here are lines and colours in it that are personal almost to the e0tent of being per erse. 'he anecdotes about him ha e a certain biographical #uality of which the most familiar e0ample is -r. but it was as it were deliberately colourless. *t is surprisingly and yet ine itably indi idual. something almost resembling a de out and affectionate caricature. Before resuming the narrati e of his first ad entures. !e was. 2en are learning more and more of the solid social irtues of medie al ci ilisation. among other things. and the building of the great brotherhood which was the beginning of so merciful a re olution. 'he medie al world was far ahead of the modern world in its sense of the things in which all men are at one3 death and the daylight of reason and the common conscience that holds communities together.From that ca ern. Francis ha e really contri ed to lea e behind a portrait. * think it well to complete this imperfect personal portrait here. but those impressions are still social rather than indi idual. the act is always une0pected and ne er inappropriate.

!e was the ery re erse of a theatrical person in the selfish sense. Francis was not a lo er of nature. *f this was so it is e#ually certain that with him. 'here is something about the description of all he said and did which suggests that. /roperly understood. and it is entirely the wrong term. *t is truly said that Francis of Assisi was on of the founders of the medie al drama. And his eyes glowed with the fire that fretted him night and day. about the liturgical nature of which the author was a little ague. &e are compelled to use the term. between the oli es or the ines. combined with so much i acity. his biographers say. heretical sessions. with a dark beard thin and pointed such as appears in pictures under the hoods of el es. Francis nothing was e er in the background. in the age of Byron and Scott. *n other words. St. mobs of men in brown habits besieging the seats of authority.ow for St. gi es the impression of smallness. are the outward signs of something that mark him out ery distincti ely from many who might appear to be more of his kind than they really are. must ha e been tolerably tough. a sort of sentimental pantheism. the hermit might lo e nature as a background. men acted #uite differently according to whether they had met him or not. And both these facts. /apal pronouncements. the gestures were all gestures of politeness or hospitality. and if we ask why all this happened. &e . *n short. he turned naturally to a passionate pantomime of gestures. trial and triumphant sur i al. after some groping suggestions about his life from the inside. the i acity and the courtesy. hear one human oice or see one human face under a hood. but for all that he was pre1eminently a dramatic person.od.. along the hills of 9mbria. 'here is no answer e0cept that Francis Bernardone had happened. and we must try in some sense to see what we should ha e seen if he had happened to us. . !e was of the brownish Southern colouring. the friar a household word in e ery corner of Europe. considering what he went through. 'he phrase implies accepting the material uni erse as a ague en ironment. e en more than with most *talians. e en more than most *talians. we must again consider it from the outside. as if he were a stranger coming up the road towards us. what is commonly described as a lo e of nature. while he pondered o er some scroll or illuminated olume. a lo er of nature was precisely what he was not. middle1sized. he was certainly ery acti e and. in some faint and indirect imaginati e fashion. is the e0planation of all that followed. 'his side of him can best be suggested by taking what is commonly regarded as a reposeful #uality. *f we see afterwards a ast tumult. an appeal to the /ope. the world full of a new mo ement. we can only appro0imate to any answer to our own #uestion if we can. *n the romantic period of literature. Francis of Assisi was slight in figure with that sort of slightness which. !e was probably taller than he looked. and therefore of the modern drama. it was easy enough to imagine that a hermit in the ruins of a chapel $preferably by moonlight% might find peace and a mild pleasure in the harmony of solemn forests and silent stars.

*n this indeed there was something symbolic in the contemporary art and decoration of his period. but not a mystic of the twilight. Francis was a man who did not want to see the wood for the trees. being a child of . a wood.might say that his mind had no background. !e was a mystic of the daylight and the darkness. e0cept perhaps that di ine darkness out of which the di ine lo e had called up e ery coloured creature one by one.od and therefore a brother or sister of man. A child has no difficulty about understanding that . E erything would be in e ery sense a character. 'he scenery would ha e come to life in his comedies. *n a word. E erything would ha e been in the foreground. he is the ery opposite of a pantheist. and in that sense in the footlights. distinct from its setting. which had )ust won its ictory o er the nominalism of the twelfth century. 'he Franciscan birds and beasts were really rather like heraldic birds and beasts. St. e would still ha e meant that they were particular creatures assigned by their +reator to particular places. and inscribed in a general fashion3 4Scene. not in the sense of being fabulous animals but in the sense . 'he child would resolutely refuse to make head or tail of any such animal. not all of a piece like a picture but in action like a play. But he did not want to stand against a piece of stage scenery used merely as a background. !e saw e erything as dramatic. as a poet. A bush could stop him like a brigand. A bird went by him like an arrow. something with a story and a purpose. using the word realist in its much more real medie al sense. But no child would understand what you meant if you mi0ed up the dog and the cat and e erything else into one monster with myriad legs and called it nature. not mere e0pressions of the e olutionary energy of things. Francis was a mystic. but he belie ed in mysticism and not in mystification. !e did not call nature his mother. !e wanted to see each tree as a separate and almost a sacred thing. 'hat is where his mysticism is so close to the common sense of the child. St. he called a particular donkey his brother or a particular sparrow his sister. Francis was emphatically a realist. as in the art of heraldry. we talk about a man who cannot see the wood for the trees. 'his is the #uality in which. As a mystic he was the mortal enemy of all those mystics who melt away the edges of things and dissol e an entity into its en ironment.4 *n this sense we might say that he was too dramatic for the drama. *f he had called a pelican his aunt or an elephant his uncle as he might possibly ha e done. though he is well aware that the making of dogs and cats out of nothing is a mysterious process beyond his own imagination. *n this matter he really was akin to the best spirit of his age.od made the dog and the cat. though it was a purpose of life and not a purpose of death. St. !e was the ery contrary of that sort of oriental isionary who is only a mystic because he is too much of a sceptic to be a materialist. and indeed he was as ready to welcome the brigand as the bush. the walls would really ha e spoken like Snout the 'inker and the trees would really ha e come walking to -unsinane.

so he himself was always dramatic. in the hope of making the meaning more clear. !is whole course through life was a series of scenes in which he had a sort of perpetual luck in bringing things to a beautiful crisis. Francis did in a definite sense make the ery act of li ing an art. than the laurel of +easar or the *ron +rown of 5ombardy. *t would be easy to fill page after page with e0amples. who had stripped himself of e erything and named himself as nothing. but it refers back in a rather curious fashion to the first. But they were always acts and not e0planations. As he saw all things dramatically. 'he things he did were more imaginati e than the things he said. his life was made up of these unconscious attitudes and unhesitating gestures. 'he e0ample taken here occurred in the last days of his life. and they always meant what he meant them to mean. dwelling on it with a little more detail than would be possible in a catalogue. *n that respect indeed he might be called the one happy poet among all the unhappy poets of the world. 2any of his acts will seem grotes#ue and puzzling to a rationalistic taste. though it was an unpremeditated art. But the heraldry of humility was richer than the heraldry of pride. 'he things he said were more imaginati e than the things he wrote. &e ha e to assume throughout. *n that sense he did see a bird sable on a field azure or a sheep argent on a field ert. that the 5ittle /oor 2an. Francis saw them. !e was not so much a minstrel merely singing his own songs as a dramatist capable of acting the whole of his own play. but * will here pursue the method found con enient e erywhere in this short sketch. But St. of something outstanding and e en startling in things as St. clear and positi e and unaffected by the illusions of atmosphere and perspecti e.od had gi en as something more precious and uni#ue than the blazonry that princes and peers had only gi en to themsel es. . 'o talk about the art of li ing has come to sound rather artificial than artistic. took the same title that has been the wild aunt of the anity of the gorgeous Asiatic autocrat. needless to say. But he had one poetic pri ilege denied to most poets. and called himself the Brother of the Sun and 2oon. for it saw all these things that . 'his #uality.of being treated as if they were facts. !e was a poet whose whole life was a poem. *t is an e0ample of e0tremes that meet. 'he amazing i idness with which he stamped himself on the memory and imagination of mankind is ery largely due to the fact that he was seen again and again under such dramatic conditions. that he was a poet and can only be understood as a poet. and take one typical e0ample. and rounds off the remarkable unity of that romance of religion. From the moment when he rent his robes and flung them at his father"s feet to the moment when he stretched himself in death on the bare earth in the pattern of the cross. is here important as illustrating a character in his own life. *ndeed out of the depths of that surrender it rose higher than the highest titles of the feudal age.

Francis is free of all obligation to cry out in praise or terror on the 5ord . Anyhow St. it ne er occurred to him to connect . so far from being a re i al of paganism. . Sun. 2an. 4!e might at least ha e called him 2r. &hether he gained or lost by his contempt of learning. *t is idle to argue about .reek and (oman polytheism turned into allegory. and with the water and the fire. a phrase that one king might use of another. /aul. 'hose are the things in which he has a sort of inspired infancy. /erhaps the last appearance of its special language was in an incident that has always seemed to me intensely impressi e.od Apollo. but in his new nursery hea ens. !e sang it wandering in the meadows in the sunnier season of his own career. +ertainly it is responsible for a certain freshness in the thing itself. and to ha e added. which goes far beyond the arbitrary genders of a grammar. but he knew at a glance the goddesses from the gods. Something of the same hazy but healthy awe makes the story of Br"er Fo0 and Br"er (abbit refer respectfully to 2r. runs through his whole life like a refrain. as it were. the sense of se0 in inanimate things. he salutes him as 2r.otice. 'hough in some ways the thing is as simple and straightforward as a ballad. for instance. he had to make his own mythology. Francis could be reconstructed from that work alone. fierce and gay and strong. full of the mirth of youth and the memories of childhood. A bishop is said to ha e complained of a . only to be paralleled in nursery tales. 'his point e0actly illustrates what has already been suggested. and is at any rate ery illustrati e of the great manner and gesture of which * speak.4 *t is like a faint half ironic shadow of the shining primacy that it had held in the pagan hea ens. 'his fanciful instinct for the se0es is not the only e0ample of an imaginati e instinct of the kind. pure and clear and in iolate. and much of St. (emember that St. Francis was neither encumbered nor assisted by all that . 'his poem. occurs of course in his famous poem called the +anticle of the +reatures or the +anticle of the Sun. too often a con ention.eptune and the nymphs with the water or :ulcan and the +yclops with the flame. when he was pouring upwards into the sky all the passions of a poet. but he could distinguish his mermaids from his mermen and his witches from his wizards. that. *mpressions of that kind are a matter of imagination and in that sense of taste. *t is a supremely characteristic work. there is a delicate instinct of differentiation in it.'he phrase about his brotherhood with the sun and moon. the founder of a new folk1lore. Francis was. the Franciscan renascence was a sort of fresh start and first awakening after a forgetfulness of paganism. corresponding to 42onsieur notre frere. *t was not for nothing that he called fire his brother.4 So St. which has been to European poetry often an inspiration. and scraps of it turn up continually in the ordinary habit of his talk. 'here is )ust the same #uaint felicity in the fact that he singles out the sun with a slightly more courtly title besides that of brother. and water his sister. *n short.onconformist saying /aul instead of Saint /aul.

he had been still more disappointed by the signs of compromise and a more political or practical spirit in his own order. for he was not fifty when he died. *f the faintest hint has been gi en here of what St. E en ?eats. at the time this typical incident occurred. 'he remedy. 4 8et there are people who ha e started to paraphrase and e0pand the story of the /assion.od made you beautiful and strong and useful. . it was not only sickness and bodily decay that may well ha e darkened his life. 4'iger. some notion may be formed of what it meant to him to go blind. admittedly an uncertain remedy.4 *f there be any such thing as the art of life. it seems to me that such a moment was one of its masterpieces. &hen they took the brand from the furnace. he had spent his last energies in protest.ethsemane. seem to be completed by some ritual mo ement like a blessing or a blow. who wished to be a cloud or a leaf carried before the wind. Francis felt about the glory and pageantry of earth and sky. still less to li e one of their own poems. he had been recently disappointed in his main mission to end the +rusades by the con ersion of *slam. something like the sweeping mo ement and mighty shadow of a hand. and e en when they use words. and that without any anaesthetic. So.. burning bright. knowing that his hold on life was a frail one. As will be apparent when these e ents are touched on in their turn. while he was re1reading the noble lines. e idently with e ery intention of biting his head off. E en &illiam Blake would ha e been disconcerted if. St. !e might ha e wa ered before politely saluting it. &e might say he was an old man. was to cauterise the eye. tiger. ha e been mildly surprised to find himself turning slowly head o er heels in mid1air a thousand feet abo e the sea. but in fact he was only prematurely old. and take your rest. the blushful !ippocrene of .them. he rose as with an urbane gesture and spoke as to an in isible presence3 4Brother Fire. about the heraldic shape and colour and symbolism of birds and beasts and flowers. . * pray you be courteous with me. he was a broken man.ot too many poets has it been gi en to remember their own poetry at such a moment. can ha e been no worse. darkening e en the darkness of . which he en ied in martyrology and sought ainly in Syria. Shelley. But when he came down from the awful asceticism and more awful re elation of Al erno. for it is the whole point of them that they ha e passed beyond words. At this point he was told that he was going blind. worn out with his fighting and fasting life. there is something far past all e0position. in a supreme e0ample.. might ha e been disturbed to disco er that the true. abo e all by calmly completing the recitation of the poem to the #uadruped to whom it was dedicated. *n other words it was to burn his li ing eyeballs with a red1hot iron. 2any of the tortures of martyrdom. 4Sleep on now.4 a large li e Bengal tiger had put his head in at the window of the cottage in Felpham. 8et the remedy might well ha e seemed worse than the disease. Francis was a dying man.

Francis most certainly possessed. as a sort of lo able lunatic. men of that magnetic sort. whereas it ob iously ought to mean all men being e#ually ci il. if you ha e now had your say. he said. he retained this permanent posture of a sort of deference. But his first thought was one of his first fancies from the songs of his youth. the backslapping sort of brotherhood. will be entirely misunderstood if it is understood in the sense of what is often called camaraderie.od in all his creatures. 45ittle sisters. E en in that fairy borderland of his mere fancies about flowers and animals and e en inanimate things. if they do not see that to be unci il is to be unci ic. it was a camaraderie actually founded on courtesy. might easily ha e had an impression as of a . St. there has come a notion that this note is necessary to that ideal. 'hat is only one incident out of a life of such incidents. that he not only lo ed but re erenced . calling it by the nickname which might most truly be called its +hristian name. with that intense interest in animals. A friend of mine said that somebody was the sort of man who apologises to the cat. the dramatic gesture of the south. and his perpetual preoccupation with the idea of brotherhood. *t is assumed that e#uality means all men being e#ually unci il. *n this sense he had the air not only of apologising to the cat or to the birds. often ha e an e0traordinary power o er them.4 And all the birds were silent. Any one who had followed him through life merely to laugh at him. which really ensured that he should cease upon the midnight with no pain. 'he popular instinct of St. and * ha e selected it partly because it shows what is meant here by that shadow of gesture there is in all his words. St. Such people ha e forgotten the ery meaning and deri ation of the word ci ility. a pious pantomime intended to con ey the ital distinction in his di ine mission. with a gentle gesture. Fre#uently from the enemies and too fre#uently from the friends of the democratic ideal. *n deference to my special design of making matters intelligible to a erage modernity.which he had )ust partaken freely had indeed contained a drug. but an e#uality of the opposite kind. and when that shining thing returned to him in the shape of an instrument of torture. 2uch of it was doubtless a sort of symbolic )oke. But e en apart from any miraculous powers. &hen he was about to preach in a wood full of the chatter of birds. as * for one can ery easily belie e. But anyhow that was not the e#uality which Francis of Assisi encouraged. * ha e treated separately the sub)ect of the miraculous powers that St. it is time that * also should be heard. and for Francis there was plenty of pain. Francis. For Francis there was no drug. Francis really would ha e apologised to the cat. he hailed it from afar like an old friend. only the most glorious and gaily coloured of the flowers in the garden of . but of apologising to a chair for sitting on it or to a table for sitting down at it. Francis"s power was always e0ercised with this elaborate politeness. and partly because its special reference to courtesy co ers the ne0t fact to be noted.od. !e remembered the time when a flame was a flower.

!e taught the world a large part of its lesson by a sort of di ine dumb alphabet. &e may say if we like that St. for it is not mere pity. &hate er his taste in monsters. from the sultan of Syria in his pa ilion to the ragged robbers crawling out of the wood. that from the /ope to the beggar. like a charm. or rather to human beings.od multiplied but ne er monotonous. !e only saw the image of . for it is a pro erb that any re eller may fling largesse in mere scorn. *t can only be con eyed by a certain grand manner which may be called good manners. had clung to one rag of lu0ury. For he treated the whole mob of men as a mob of kings. Francis. that is. But whereas in a court there is one king and a hundred courtiers. *t cannot e en be done by gi ing time and attention. its significance became far more serious in the serious work of his life. &hat ga e him his e0traordinary personal power was this. Francis deliberately did not see the wood for the trees. which was an appeal to humanity. and not merely added to the spoils of some social policy or the names in some clerical document. But it must always be concei ed as a completely natural gesture. and it was soon found to ha e something in it of magic and to act. beneficence does not e0press it. &hat distinguishes this ery genuine democrat from any mere demagogue is that he ne er either decei ed or was decei ed by the illusion of mass1suggestion. in this story there was one courtier. *t is e en more true that he deliberately did not see the mob for the men. . . And this was really and truly the only attitude that will appeal to that part of man to which he wished to appeal. !e honoured all men. the manners of a court. he not only lo ed but respected them all. he ne er saw before him a many1headed beast. mo ing among a hundred kings. for any number of philanthropists and bene olent bureaucrats do such work with a scorn far more cold and horrible in their hearts. in his own inner indi idual life from the cradle to the gra e. =ne gesture will do it. in a double sense.o plans or proposals or efficient rearrangements will gi e back to a broken man his self1respect and sense of speaking with an e#ual.ow for this particular moral and religious idea there is no e0ternal e0pression e0cept courtesy. there was ne er a man who looked into those brown burning eyes without being certain that Francis Bernardone was really interested in him. 'his was all a part of his instinct for imaginati e gesture. But if there was this ceremonial element e en in lighter or lesser matters. that he himself was being alued and taken seriously. 'o him a man was always a man and did not disappear in a dense crowd any more than in a desert. for it is not mere abstract enthusiasm.lunatic who bowed to e ery post or took off his hat to e ery tree. &ith that gesture Francis of Assisi mo ed among men. in the bare and barren simplicity of his life. * ha e said that St. for indeed it was almost a gesture of apology. E0hortation does not e0press it. *t cannot be done by gi ing gold or e en bread. !e must be imagined as mo ing thus swiftly through the world with a sort of .

almost like the mo ement of a man who stumbles on one knee half in haste and half in obeisance. as if he followed as well as watched the flight of the birds. for it must ha e been felt by this time that the growth of that small group had become potentially infinite.impetuous politeness.ermans. &ith the fourth man enters the shadow of a mob. Frenchmen and *talians and English and Spanish and . and it is not clear.od who had been a besieged garrison became a marching army. but in the world of spiritual things what had been stored into the barns like grain was scattered o er the world as seed. And this sense of motion is indeed the meaning of the whole re olution that he made. 'hat shadow of the fourth man fell across the little hermitage of the /ortiuncula when a man named Egidio apparently a poor workman was in ited by St. but with his coming an in isible line was crossed. Before describing the first steps he took to regularise the growing group. or at least that its outline had become permanently indefinite. a new /entecost and a happier Babel. at this time at least. *t may ha e been in the time of that transition that Francis had another of his dreams full of oices. for the work that has now to be described was of the nature of an earth#uake or a olcano. that he e en thought of them as monks. 'he eager face under the brown hood was that of a man always going somewhere. But there is yet another and a different sense in which four is company and three is none.od each in his own tongue. !e did not call his followers monks. as simply he had sung that morning in the winter woods. it is true to say that what St. an e0plosion that dro e outwards with dynamic energy the forces stored up by ten centuries in the monastic fortress or arsenal and scattered all its riches recklessly to the ends of the earth. there is also another sense in which three is company and four is none as is pro ed by the procession of historic and fictitious figures mo ing three deep the famous trios like the 'hree 2usketeers or the 'hree Soldiers of ?ipling. Francis scattered. if we use the word company in the aguer sense of a crowd or a mass. the ways of the world were filled as with thunder with the trampling of their feet and far ahead of that e er swelling host went a man singing. but now the oices were a clamour of the tongues of all nations. *n a better sense than the antithesis commonly con eys. +hapter :** THE THREE ORDERS 'here is undoubtedly a sense in which two is company and three is none. Francis to enter. 'he ser ants of . Benedict had stored St. !e called them by a . where he walked alone. it is well to ha e a rough grasp of what he concei ed that group to be. !e mingled without difficulty with the merchant and the canon who had already become the companions of Francis. the group is no longer one of three indi iduals only concei ed indi idually. telling of the glory of .

But the supreme difference between his discipline and the discipline of the old monastic system was concerned. we should need weapons and laws to defend them. *t was necessary that he should be free from the cloister. but he was #uite certain he was right about this particular rule. but St. and that was when there was talk of an e0ception to the rule. 'hey were to mingle with the world. St. that they should take the three ows of po erty. Francis had his answer to it. !is argument was this3 that the dedicated man might go anywhere among any kind of men. *t was a much more real #uestion than a loose religiosity is likely to realise. 'he good Bishop of Assisi e0pressed a sort of horror at the hard life which the 5ittle Brothers li ed at the /ortiuncula. so long as there was nothing by which they could hold him. that the salt must not lose its sa our e en to turn into human nature"s daily food. !e was ready to own himself wrong about anything else. eating anything they could get and sleeping anyhow on the ground.4 'hat sentence is the clue to the whole policy that he pursued. Francis answered him with that curious and almost stunning shrewdness which the unworldly can sometimes wield like a club of stone. St. and the interest of the problem is in that highly indi idual answer. !e was afraid that the great spiritual magistracies which had gi en e en to their holiest possessors at least a sort of impersonal and corporate pride. !e said. Francis was the last man in the world to think any the worse of ordinary men for being ordinary. of course. But for his own particular purpose of stirring up the world to a new spiritual enthusiasm. he saw with a logical clarity that was #uite re erse of fanatical or sentimental. without comforts. *t is perfectly sound common sense to say that there is a sense in which . But it would seem that he was not so much afraid of the idea of a monk as of the idea of an abbot. chastity and obedience which had always been the mark of a monk.name which is generally rendered in English as the Friars 2inor. 4if we had any possessions. but we shall be much closer to the atmosphere of his own mind if we render it almost literally as 'he 5ittle Brothers. !e was only once seen angry. of his own indi idual sort. *f he had any ties or needs like ordinary men. and to this the more old1fashioned monk would naturally reply by asking how they were to mingle with the world without becoming entangled with the world. indeed. but it was e en more important that he should be free from the world. without possessions. /resumably he was already resol ed. e en the worst kind of men. he would become like ordinary men. and about that he was ne er anything but logical. with the idea that the monks were to become migratory and almost nomadic instead of stationary. that friars must not become like ordinary men. would import an element of pomposity that would spoil his e0tremely and almost e0tra agantly simple ersion of the life of humility. 'hey had more affection and admiration from him than they are e er likely to ha e again. And the difference between a friar and an ordinary man was really that a friar was freer than an ordinary man. *t rested upon a real piece of logic.

compared with the world around him. Francis was that the 5ittle Brothers should be like little fishes who could go freely in and out of that net. meaning. a network of feudal and family and other forms of dependence. when he only indulged in little leaps and cries of )oy because indignity was his only dignity. 4A monk should own nothing but his harp4. and be embarrassed about what to do with him. he was almost wildly free. 'he whole idea of St. 8ou could not put his head in a halter without the risk of putting it in a halo. in practice. the futile e0ternals of our li es. the song of the )oy of the +reator in his creation and the beauty of the brotherhood of men. A man had to be thin to pass always through the bars and out of the cage. sometimes the almost una oidable result of circumstances. he had to tra el light in order to ride so fast and so far.the ordinary man cannot be free from the world. the song with which it was his business as a minstrel to serenade e ery castle and cottage. that the world was to be outflanked and outwitted by him. 2odern trade unions as much as mediae al guilds are interdependent among themsel es e en in order to be independent of others. e en where these limitations do e0ist for the sake of liberty. of that innocent cunning. . we 2ay already get a glimpse also of the practical side of that asceticism which puzzles those who think themsel es practical. and the whole world is full of this fact. in his relation to that world around him. So the twelfth century had been the age of ows. E en in his relations with his chosen leader he was in one sense relati ely free. 8ou could not ruin him and reduce him to beggary. for the world catches us mostly by the fringes of our garments. or rather ought not to be free from the world. Family life as much as feudal life is in its nature a system of dependence. But no man need obey little Francis in the old brown coat unless he chose. And he was as free as the wind. 8ou could not threaten to star e a man who was e er stri ing to fast. but it was not only the feudal world that went to make up the mediae al world nor the mediae al world that went to make up the whole world. a man rode to war in support of the ancient house of the +olumn or behind the . 'hey could do so precisely because they were small fishes and in that sense e en slippery fishes. that he should alue nothing but his song. 'here was a ery lukewarm satisfaction e en in beating him with a stick. !e was obedient but not dependent. 'he feudal world in particular was one labyrinthine system of dependence. as has been noted. 'he world around him was. * suppose. 'here was nothing that the world could hold them by. for he was already a beggar. for no man asks ows from sla es any more than from spades.reat -og of the Stairway largely because had been born in a certain city or countryside. *t was the whole calculation. =ne of the Franciscans says later. so to speak. *n mediae al as in modern life. and there was something of relati e freedom in that feudal gesture of the ow. *n imagining the life of this sort of isionary agabond. 'hey are partly the result of circumstances. they ha e in them a considerable element of luck. Still.

*t was an e0ample of something that clung about St. But since a man could become a Franciscan by merely promising to take his chance of eating berries in a lane or begging a crust from a kitchen. !e really did lo e and honour ordinary men and ordinary things. !e was e0pecting a ery great deal from the e0traordinary men who followed him. *t is said that a young friar was suffering from a sort of sulks between morbidity and humility. and e en among the number of those who are most dear. 4Be not troubled in your thoughts for you are dear to me. 'here are many e0amples in his pri ate relations of this sort of tactless tact. and e en by the persuasion of impotence. Francis suddenly walked up to the young man. therefore come to me. not by force but by persuasion. common enough in youth and hero1worship. Francis always. and said. their numbers therefore depended on their land and building material. 'he old fraternities with their fi0ed habitations and enclosed e0istence had the limitations of ordinary householders. *t was completely successful. which was designed to assist ordinary men to be ordinary with an e0traordinary e0ultation. But he counted on the hospitality of humanity because he really did regard e ery house as the house of a friend. *t was an act of confidence and therefore a compliment. whensoe er you will. 'his parado0 may be more e0actly stated or e0plained when we come to deal with the ery interesting matter of the 'hird =rder. !is ery asceticism was in one sense the height of optimism. there was no economic reason why there should not be any number of such eccentric enthusiasts within any short period of time. and . of sleeping under a hedge or sitting patiently on a doorstep. indeed we may say that he only sent out the e0traordinary men to encourage men to be ordinary. !owe er simply they li ed there must be a certain number of cells or a certain number of beds or at least a certain cubic space for a certain number of brothers. !e demanded a great deal of human nature not because he despised it but rather because he trusted it. !e asked the laity for food as confidently as he asked the fraternity for fasting. 8ou know that you are worthy of my friendship and society. who was of course secreti e and silent as the gra e.But one distinction between the old 2onks and the new friars counted especially in the matter of practicality and especially of promptitude. 'he point at issue at present is the audacity and simplicity of the Franciscan plan for #uartering its spiritual soldiery upon the population. but he was also e0pecting a good deal from the ordinary men to whom he sent them. this surprise effected by striking at the heart of the matter. how cautiously psychologists would watch and handle such delicate cases. in confidence. *t must also be remembered that the whole of this rapid de elopment was full of a certain kind of democratic optimism that really was part of the personal character of St. Francis. in which he had got it into his head that his hero hated or despised him. a kind of tact that looked like luck because it was as simple and direct as a thunderbolt. &e can imagine how tactfully social diplomatists would steer clear of scenes and e0citements.

says the great Franciscan biographer. !e appears to ha e got rid of the shepherd with all con enient speed. . and the figure was that of the ragged shepherd or peasant from whom he had turned away on the terrace. and his brilliant blindness is e0ceedingly characteristic of him. he dreamed that night a strange dream. 7ohn 5ateran. and by friendship it learnt faith. !e fancied that he saw the whole huge ancient temple of St. was walking on the terrace of St. or e en in lo e with small things. *t was while the little knot of people at the /ortiuncula was still small enough to gather in a small room that St. possibly something could ha e been done in a secondary way under the Bishop of Assisi and the local clergy. !e started out with two companions to con ert the 2ahometan world. !e was #uite capable of facing fifty emperors to intercede for one bird. *t would seem that this appeal to remote head#uarters was not generally regarded as necessary. and yet he was not hated. the great /ope. Something in this attitude disarmed the world as it has ne er been disarmed again. when there appeared abruptly before him a person in peasant costume whom he took to be some sort of shepherd. he was a benefactor of other men.from friendship learn faith. leaning horribly and crooked against the sky as if all its domes and turrets were stooping before an earth#uake 'hen he looked again and saw that a human figure was holding it up like a li ing caryatid. *t is said that there were only twel e Franciscans in the whole world when he decided to march. throned among his armies under the eagle of the !oly (oman Empire. according to Bona entura. 7ohn 5ateran. A man satisfied with small things. *nnocent ***. on whose high terraces he had walked so securely. Francis resol ed on his first important and e en sensational stroke. !e is said to ha e made a )ourney to inter iew the Emperor. !e always went to the point. and then again it seems to ha e escaped from e erything like a short cut in the fourth dimension. as it were. possibly he formed the opinion that the shepherd was mad.4 E0actly as he spoke to that morbid boy he spoke to all mankind. !e was better than other men. he yet ne er felt #uite as we do about the disproportion between small things and large. *t would seem e en more probable that people thought it somewhat unnecessary to trouble the supreme tribunal of +hristendom about what a dozen chance men chose to call themsel es. 'he world came into church by a newer and nearer door. to intercede for the li es of certain little birds. !e seemed at once to be laying open his guard and yet lunging at the heart. Anyhow he thought no more about it until. Sometimes it seems merely out of drawing like a gaily coloured medie al map. doubtless re ol ing the great political #uestions which troubled his reign. But Francis was obstinate and as it were blind on this point. on (ome and found a Franciscan order. !e ne er saw things to scale in our sense. he always seemed at once more right and more simple than the person he was speaking to. but with a dizzy disproportion which makes the mind reel. !e started out with ele en companions to ask the /ope to make a new monastic world.

it is . seeing a few men entering of their own free will that estate to which the poor of the twentieth century are daily dri en by cold coercion and mo ed on by the police. E en the return of the twel e pioneers from their papal audience seems to ha e been a sort of triumphal procession. 'here was always a possibility that he might get no supper. though it was a ery plain supper. that it was unduly dangerous. /robably they meant. the beginning of the . as of the tramp or the casual labourer. *t is interesting to note that the doubts thrown upon it seem to ha e been chiefly doubts about whether the rule was not too hard for humanity. if the mo ement should grow to more considerable proportions. it could in its nature grow much more #uickly than any ordinary society re#uiring ordinary funds and public buildings. but do not commit yoursel es to saying that men shall not fulfil that ideal if they can. who was himself a man of no ordinary mentality.&hether this be a fact or a figure it is a ery true figure of the abrupt simplicity with which Francis won the attention and the fa our of (ome. &e shall see the importance of this argument when we come to the whole of that higher aspect of the life of St. 'he alue of the old monasticism had been that there was not only an ethical but an economic repose. he knew where he would get his supper. anyhow he was not left long in doubt before it did do so. the illuminated manuscripts and the coloured glass. once it had begun to grow. 'he upshot of the discussion was that the /ope ga e his erbal appro al to the pro)ect and promised a more definite endorsement. for the +atholic +hurch is always on the watch against e0cessi e asceticism and its e ils. !is first friend seems to ha e been the +ardinal . *t is probable that *nnocent. *n one sense indeed the friar was almost the opposite of the monk. but after all it is the life apparently described as ideal in the . 'he whole point of a monk was that his economic affairs were settled for good. as of the gipsy or ad enturer. 'he ne0t passage in the history of the order is simply the story of more and more people flocking to its standard. the preser ation of the classics. +ardinal San /aolo seems to ha e argued more or less in this manner3 it may be a hard life. So the +ardinals of the thirteenth century were filled with compassion. the schemes of science and philosophies. especially when they said it was unduly hard. make what compromises you think wise or humane about that ideal. But there was also an element of potential tragedy. 'here was an element of what would be called romance.othic. *n one place in particular. and as has already been remarked.io anni di San /aolo who pleaded for the Franciscan idea before a concla e of +ardinals summoned for the purpose. Francis which may be called the imitation of +hrist. =ut of that repose had come the works for which the world will ne er be sufficiently grateful. For a certain element that can only be called danger is what marks the inno ation as compared with older institutions of the kind.ospel. had ery little doubt that it would do so. But the whole point of a friar was that he did not know where he would get his supper.

said. but it does not . *f it had really been a romantic elopement and the girl had become a bride instead of a nun. named +lare and belonging to one of the noble families of Assisi. 'his rough outline can only be rounded off here with some description of the Second and 'hird =rders. For there is no story that more clearly turns on that simple test which * ha e taken as crucial throughout this criticism. that St. it was on this occasion that St. +lare. 'he first =rder of St. =liphant. and Francis helped her to escape from her home and to take up the con entual life. 'here cannot be the shadow of a doubt. calls it 4an incident which we can hardly record with satisfaction. in her fine and delicate study of St.irls married and boys fought in battles at such early ages in mediae al times. he helped her to elope into the cloister. the whole population of a town. Francis first foreshadowed his idea of the 'hird =rder which enabled men to share in the mo ement without lea ing the homes and habits of normal humanity. defying her parents as he had defied his father. lea ing their work and wealth and homes e0actly as they stood and begging to be taken into the army of . According to the story. Francis had entered history. friars perpetually coming and going in all the highways and byways. E en 2rs. men.4 . Francis. *t is not conclusi e to say that +lare was only se enteen.od on the spot. of course. +lare did know her own mind. *ndeed the scene had many of the elements of a regular romantic elopement. and a girl of se enteen in the thirteenth century was certainly old enough to know her own mind. for any sane person considering subse#uent e ents. *f we like to put it so. though they were founded later and at separate times. for she escaped through a hole in the wall.ow about that incident * will here only say this. 'he moment it is treated as real. 'he former was an order for women and owed its e0istence. * mean that what is the matter with these critics is that they will not belie e that a hea enly lo e can be as real as an earthly lo e. practically the whole modern world would ha e made her a heroine. For it knows that romantic lo e is a reality. A girl of se enteen. fled through a wood and was recei ed at midnight by the light of torches. . e erybody would be sympathising with her e0actly as they sympathise with 7uliet. Francis and St. to the beautiful friendship of St. was filled with an enthusiasm for the con entual life. like an earthly lo e. For the moment it is most important to regard this story as one e0ample of the riot of con ersion with which he was already filling all the roads of *taly. women and children. *t was a world of wandering. 7uliet was only fourteen. *f the action of the Friar towards +lare had been the action of the Friar towards 7uliet. turned out. seeking to ensure that any man who met one of them by chance should ha e a spiritual ad enture. But the point for the moment is that modern romanticism entirely encourages such defiance of parents when it is done in the name of romantic lo e. 'here is no story about which e en the most sympathetic critics of another creed ha e been more bewildered and misleading. their whole riddle is easily resol ed.

'he fact is that as soon as we assume for a moment as a hypothesis. a flame feeding on nothing and setting the ery air on fire. She did most truly. li ing li es like our own. +lare at one of their rare meetings. we may at least assume that no friend of what is called the emancipation of women will regret the re olt of St. For the rest. So there may ha e been a great deal to be said for the 2ontagues or the +apulets. but the modern world does not want it said. So much any sensible man may well say considering the matter merely from the outside. and does not say it. +lare. Francis is the St. and * ha e no intention of attempting to consider it from the inside. he will certainly want words better than his own to speak of the friendship of St. and her place is with the powerful women of history. for some sort of utterly pure and disembodied passion. . or e en stopped at home and made a mariage de con enance. 'he ision which has been so faintly suggested in these pages has ne er been confined to monks or e en to friars. *t has been an inspiration to innumerable crowds of ordinary married men and women. as distinct from the life into which parental commands and con entional arrangements would ha e forced her. only entirely different. is ery little understood in /rotestant countries and ery little allowed for in /rotestant history. in the modern )argon. Francis broke bread with St. +lare. the lay orders in touch with clerical orders. which says that one night the people of Assisi thought the trees and the holy house were on fire. Francis and St. and St. li e her own life. and talked of the lo e of . But they found all #uiet within. *t would be hard to find a more imaginati e image. there may ha e been something to be said for /eter Bernardone. But if the Second =rder was the memorial of such an unearthly lo e. the life that she herself wanted to lead.od. *f a man may well doubt whether he is worthy to write a word about St. where St. * ha e often remarked that the mysteries of this story are best e0pressed symbolically in certain silent attitudes and actions. what St. Francis . than that red halo round the unconscious figures on the hill. 'here may ha e been something to be said for the parents of +lare. 'he whole of this feature in +atholic life.eorge or knight1errant who ga e it a happy ending. Francis and St. 'hat morning glory which St. And seeing that some millions of men and women ha e li ed and died treating this relation as a reality. that there is a direct di ine relation more glorious than any romance. and rushed up to e0tinguish the conflagration. a man is not much of a philosopher if he cannot e en treat it as a hypothesis. the story of St. +lare assumed all the time as an absolute. the 'hird =rder was as solid a memorial of a ery solid sympathy with earthly lo es and earthly li es. And * know no better symbol than that found by the felicity of popular legend. She became the foundress of a great feminine mo ement which still profoundly affects the world. *t is not clear that she would ha e been so great or so useful if she had made a runaway match. Francis. +lare"s elopement is simply a romance with a happy ending.know that di ine lo e is a reality.

As it was said of others that the light in their body was darkness. there was nothing in the least sentimental about his mood. the magician who has made so many modern systems of stars and sounds. and that possibly in a more subtle sense.othing is known of such obscure followers. so it may be said of this luminous spirit that the ery shadows in his soul were of light. Francis had only pleased himself. as e ery man must to be worth calling a man. 4* may yet ha e children4. 'hough there was much that was romantic. So arious a following would alone be enough to pro e that St. . some truth in the hint of one of his modern biographers. *t is suggested in the saying he used when disclaiming any security from sin. the father of all electricity. the famous figures would surprise us more than the strange ones. * fancy.al ani. *f St. the great . that e en what was bad in him was good. E il itself could not come to . the whispers referred mostly to those healthy instincts that he would ha e appro ed for others. and crying out that these sufficed him for a wife and family. lord of the higher )ustice whose scales hang crooked in fa our of the poor. And this. !e was mo ed to lo e rather than lust. if it be true. *t was not melancholy enough for that. Anthony in the desert. 'here was so much about him of the spirit of the morning. *n societies like ours nothing is known of such a Franciscan following. one suspects. 'here is -ante crowned with laurel. if the whole of his own life did not pro e it. !e was of far too swift and rushing a temper to be troubled with doubts and reconsiderations about the race he ran. they bore no resemblance to that ghastly painted paganism which sent its demoniac courtesans to plague St. *t is suggested in that strange story of how he defied the de il by making images in the snow. 'here is. . so much that was curiously young and clean. 'here rides St. All sorts of great names from the most recent and rationalistic centuries would stand re ealed. the poet who in his life of passions sang the praises of the 5ady /o erty. the great king. that when he wrestled with the de il. But it is true. that e en his natural passions were singularly normal and e en noble.spread o er the earth and sky has lingered as a secret sunshine under a multitude of roofs and in a multitude of rooms. *f we imagine passing us in the street a pageant of the 'hird =rder of St. whose grey garment is lined with purple and all glorious within. for instance. though he had any amount of self1reproach about not running faster. gi es a final touch to the truth about his character. But in fact his life did pro e it. 5ouis.obody e er li ed of whom we could less fitly use the word 4regret4 than Francis of Assisi. For us it would be like the unmasking of some mighty secret society. in the sense of turning towards things not unlawful in themsel es but only unlawful for him. and by nothing wilder than wedding bells. it would ha e been with simpler pleasures. almost as if it was of the children rather than the woman that he dreamed. Francis had no lack of sympathy with normal men. and if possible less is known of the well1known followers. Francis.

Francis was like +hrist. that compared to most of us at least St. what most of us ha e forgotten. *t shows that the . *n speaking of the ease with which truth may be made to look like its own shadow or sham. he said. or rather Fraticelli. Francis is a most sublime appro0imation to his 2aster.him sa e in the form of a forbidden good. for no man would re erently magnify what he was meant to ri al. and abo e all. that if men find certain riddles and hard sayings in the story of . as will appear later. Francis himself. And my present point is that it is really ery enlightening to realise that +hrist was like St. this little study would rather specially insist that it was really the papal sagacity that sa ed the great Franciscan mo ement for the whole world and the uni ersal +hurch. and if they find the answers to those riddles in the story of Assisi. that if St. which * think has hardly been noticed. the creator of a new gospel. especially /ompey. 4And if Antichrist is like +hrist. and. Francis. But sub)ect to this understanding.4 2ere religious sentiment might well be shocked at the end of the sentence. And this truth suggests another. Francis was the difference between the +reator and the creature. and that at many points their human and historical li es were e en curiously coincident. it is perfectly true and it is itally important that +hrist was the pattern on which St. Francis as a second +hrist. 'he difference between +hrist and St. +hrist * suppose is like Antichrist. and certainly no creature was e er so conscious of that colossal contrast as St. and pre ented it from petering out as that sort of stale and second rate sect that is called a new religion. *n fact any such notion makes nonsense of e ery moti e in the man"s life. &hat * mean is this. +ardinal .ewman wrote in his li eliest contro ersial work a sentence that might be a model of what we mean by saying that his creed tends to lucidity and logical courage. or only profess to follow what he e0isted to supplant. +hapter :*** THE MIRROR OF CHRIST .alilee. =n the contrary. Francis sought to fashion himself. +hrist was to that e0tent like St. sought to concentrate entirely on St. E erything that is written here must be understood not only as distinct from but diametrically opposed to the idolatry of the Fraticelli. but which happens to be a highly forcible argument for the authority of +hrist being continuous in the +atholic +hurch. but nobody could ob)ect to it e0cept the logician who said that +easar and /ompey were ery much alike. Francis.o man who has been gi en the freedom of the Faith is likely to fall into those hole1and corner e0tra agances in which later degenerate Franciscans. it really does show that a secret has been handed down in one religious tradition and no other. e en in being an intermediary and a reflection. is a splendid and yet a merciful 2irror of +hrist. *t may gi e a much milder shock if * say here. and he could only be tempted by a sacrament.

St. * mean that the medium in which !e mo ed was not the medium of +hristendom but of the old pagan empire. 8et as a matter of fact. doubtless in one sense fantastic.ow in truth while it has always seemed natural to e0plain St. so much open his mouth in mysteries. for us. *t seems natural to reread the more remote incidents with the help of the more recent ones. !e is a figure in heathen history. but the same truth is admitted in the accepted metaphor of the mirror.casket that was locked in /alestine can be unlocked in 9mbria. Francis. 'his archaic setting has left many of the sayings standing like hieroglyphics and sub)ect to many and peculiar indi idual interpretations. and it follows that as a historical figure. /erhaps the word 4light4 is not here the proper metaphor. * suppose the most authoritati e commentary can hardly be certain of the current or con entional weight of all !is words or phrases. 8et it is true of almost any of them that if we simply translate them into the 9mbrian dialect of the first Franciscans. for the +hurch is the keeper of the keys.4 E en more bitterness and bewilderment has arisen about the command to turn the other cheek and to gi e the coat to the robber who has taken the cloak. * merely remark that e en those who are puzzled at the saying of +hrist would hardly pause in accepting it as a saying of St. of which of them would then ha e seemed a common allusion and which a strange fancy. little brothers. 'he sceptic has alternated between telling us to be true +hristians and do it. *t is widely held to imply the wickedness of war . and being less i id it is more isible. and being a mere man like oursel es is in that sense more imaginable. not to mention the distance of time. yet they ha e gold crowns like kings and emperors or like +harlemagne in all his glory. &hen he is a communist as well as an atheist. he is generally doubtful whether to blame us for preaching what is impracticable or for not instantly putting it into practice. Francis. Francis is the mirror of +hrist rather as the moon is the mirror of the sun. Francis. that you be as wise as Brother -aisy and Brother -andelion. for ne er do they lie awake thinking of to1morrow. he does not. All sorts of critical contro ersies ha e re ol ed round the passage which bids men consider the lilies of the field and copy them in taking no thought for the morrow. and e0plaining that it is impossible to do. . and from that alone. 'he moon is much smaller than the sun. . * am not going to discuss here the point of ethics and economics. *t is a truism to say that +hrist li ed before +hristianity. Francis in the light of +hrist. E0actly in the same sense St. it follows that !is circumstances are more alien to us than those of an *talian monk such as we might meet e en to1day. they would seem like any other part of the Franciscans story. but #uite familiar. Being necessarily less of a mystery. 4* beseech you.obody would be surprised to find that he had said. Francis is nearer to us. but it is also much nearer to us. many minor things that seem mysteries in the mouth of +hrist would seem merely characteristic parado0es in the mouth of St. it has not occurred to many people to e0plain +hrist in the light of St.

in itself. *n other words. it is not an irrational e0planation to suggest that +hrist also was speaking to some dedicated band that had much the same function as Franciscans. Francis had commanded him. But it is the ancient +hurch that can again startle the world with the parado0es of +hristianity. 8et there are many prosperous peacemakers who are much more shocked at the idea of using the brute force of soldiers against a powerful foreigner than they are at using the brute force of policemen against a poor fellow1citizen. beseeching him to take his gown also. we find them produced by the same religious system which claims continuity and authority from the scenes in which they first appeared. but we know what atmosphere they do imply. it much more clearly implies the wickedness of all law and go ernment. something of a hope of disarming the enemy by generosity. *t is clear that these more or less . As the thing is e0plicable on the assumption that Francis was speaking to Franciscans. Francis. that these counsels of perfection were part of a particular ocation to astonish and awaken the world. something of a humorous sense of bewildering the worldly with the une0pected. *f we hear the same unmistakable note and sense the same indescribable sa our in two things at such a distance from each other. 9bi /etrus ibi Franciscus. 'aken thus literally and uni ersally. it was the same spirit that made them possible in /alestine. !ere again * am content to point out that the parado0 becomes perfectly human and probable if addressed by Francis to Franciscans. &e recognise a certain note as natural and clear as the note of a bird. But anyhow we ha e no difficulty in recognising it if we ha e read any of the literature of the 5ittle Brothers and the mo ement that began in Assisi. 'here is in it something of gentle mockery of the ery idea of possessions. Any number of philosophies will repeat the platitudes of +hristianity. &e may like or not the atmosphere these things imply. But in any case it is important to note that when we do find these particular features. he ought to pursue him to make him a present of his stockings. *t seems reasonable to infer that if it was this spirit that made such strange things possible in 9mbria. But if we understand that it was truly under the inspiration of his di ine 2aster that St. . . it seems natural to suppose that the case that is more remote from our e0perience was like the case that is closer to our e0perience.obody would be surprised if St. about to be admitted to his company. for so St.obody would be surprised to read that Brother 7uniper did then run after the thief that had stolen his hood. something of the )oy of carrying an enthusiastic con iction to a logical e0treme. the note of St. Francis told a young noble. that so far from pursuing a brigand to reco er his shoes.among nations about which. with their seemingly fantastic fitness. Francis did these merely #uaint or eccentric acts of charity. it seems only natural to hold. we must understand that it was under the same inspiration that he did acts of self1denial and austerity. as the +atholic +hurch has held. reappearing after more than a thousand years. not a word seems to ha e been said.

and it generally calls the way of . So soon as he certainly has followers. is one of the moral and e en practical con eniences of the ascetical pri ilege. E ery other sort of superiority may be superciliousness. of course. he compares himself more and more with his 2aster. was to bring the +rusades in a double sense to their end. that is. he does not compare himself with his followers.od. But it was not a silly idea. But the saint is ne er supercilious. 'he ob)ection to an aristocracy is that it is a priesthood without a god. For as it becomes clearer that his great communal scheme is an accomplished fact and past the peril of an early collapse. 'hat is. *t was in one way a simple idea. the mountain that was called . But the idea of St. but that was true of almost e erything he did. Francis had committed himself was one which. !e was full of the sentiment that he had not suffered enough to be worthy e en to be a distant follower of his suffering . towards whom he might appear as a master.odfrey ferocious and the way of Francis fanatical. But it is e ident that he made an e en closer study of the silent sermon on that other mountain. there was a great deal to be said for it and it . as most of his ideas were simple ideas. about this time. =nly he wished to do it by con ersion and not by con#uest. to reach their conclusion and to achie e their purpose. 'here were indeed other elements in his conception. the tradition has preser ed the truth. 'his. towards whom he appears only as a ser ant. Francis emerges more and more.olgotha. And this passage in his history may really be roughly summarized as the Search for 2artyrdom. But the import of this fact at the moment affects the ne0t phase in the personal history of the man himself.playful parables of the lo e of men were concei ed after a close study of the Sermon on the 2ount. 'his was the ultimate idea in the remarkable business of his e0pedition among the Saracens in Syria. it calls any moral method unpractical. who understood more but has been #uite as little understood. by intellectual and not material means. that is. !is idea. for he is always by hypothesis in the presence of a superior. this more indi idual and intense ambition of St. he concei ed more and more in terms of sacrifice and crucifi0ion. !ere again he was speaking the strict historical truth. as it becomes e ident that there already is such a thing as an =rder of the Friars 2inor. which are worthy of more intelligent understanding than they ha e often recei ed. it may be said in passing. Francis was far from being a fanatical or necessarily e en an unpractical idea. when it has )ust called any practical method immoral. though perhaps he saw the problem as rather too simple. and here again it seems probable that as the same truth appears at the two ends of a chain of tradition. 'he modern mind is hard to please. But in any case the ser ice to which St. 'he way he approached the matter was indeed highly personal and peculiar. when he said that in fasting or suffering humiliation he was but trying to do something of what +hrist did. lacking the learning of his great inheritor. (aymond 5ully.

without military force. the world would ha e been immeasurably more united and happy. he probably did not understand in this case the power of mere popularity produced by mere personality. Francis. *t was a ery real ictory for the Franciscan spirit of a reckless faith not only in . 'hrough all his plunging and. as much as St. -ominic for the first and last time. there is still another sense in which St. apart from the disputes about faith which such incidents open. what is probable enough. *ndeed it would need a large book instead of a little book to de elop that point alone from its first principles. and the story of the Assembly of the Straw !uts is told from the Franciscan side. *n all his leaps in the dark.od but in man. for one thing. -ominic. and the a erage agnostic of recent times has really had no notion of what he meant by religious liberty and . but almost as an end in itself. -ominic the Spaniard was. For the modern mind is merely a blank about the philosophy of toleration. Francis set forth on his bloodless crusade that he is said to ha e met St. A little while before his final departure for the East a ast and triumphant assembly of the whole order had been held near the /ortiuncula. /easants brought waggons of wine and game. *t also says. *t was. by missionaries who were also martyrs. a man with the mind of a soldier. *t was not absurd to suppose that this might be effected. But when all this is allowed for. would ultimately ha e defended the defence of +hristian unity by arms. But. in the sense that to him the supreme end was to come closer to the e0ample of +hrist. * am not yet worthy e en of the shadow of the crown of thorns. Francis met St. 'here is no space in this little book to e0plain how St. * ha e not sacrificed enough. 'radition says that it was on this occasion that St. Francis was not thinking of 2artyrdom as a means to an end. Francis had an e0traordinary faculty of falling on his feet. *f *slam had been con erted. of course. that the practical spirit of the Spaniard was almost appalled at the de out irresponsibility of the *talian. precisely because it was immediately before St. 'he +hurch had con#uered Europe in that way and may yet con#uer Asia or Africa in that way. and called the Assembly of the Straw !uts. great nobles walked about doing the work of footmen. who had assembled such a crowd without organising a commissariat. =f course there is much doubt and dispute about the whole story and the whole relation of Francis and -ominic. But the alleged meeting is worth mentioning.might ha e succeeded. who has been so much criticised for lending himself to a more bloody one. !e wandered about the alleys of the world looking for the hill that has the outline of a skull. -ominic. three #uarters of the wars of modern history would ne er ha e taken place. simply the idea that it is better to create +hristians than to destroy 2oslems. from the manner in which that mighty army encamped in the field. !is charity took the practical form of pro ision and preparation. 'he whole countryside came down like a landslide to pro ide food and drink for this sort of pious picnic. like nearly e ery Spaniard. restless days ran the refrain3 * ha e not suffered enough.

-ominic de oted himself much more to persuading than to persecuting. and called it the liberality of his own mind. so far as arri ing at the scene of operations was concerned. About e erything St. taking his ethics as self1e ident and enforcing them. *n the first act of that attempt he characteristically distinguished himself by becoming the /atron Saint of Stowaways. the strangest of the sorrows of man. Apparently it was after this first false start that the great reunion took place at the /ortiuncula. and e en in a good sense wilful. as he threw himself into e erything else. whether it was as simple as *slam or as carefully balanced as +atholicism. *n Spain indeed se eral of the first Franciscans had already succeeded gloriously in being martyred. *t has all that air of running a race which makes his whole life read like an escapade or e en literally an escape. Francis would ha e reluctantly agreed with St. such as re erence or the error of the Athiest heresy. -ominic that war for the truth was right in the last resort. and went on in his rapid and solitary fashion to seek the head#uarters of the . 'hen he was horribly shocked if he heard of anybody else. !is later oyage was more successful.e#uality. . it is certain that St. !e ne er thought of waiting for introductions or bargains or any of the considerable backing that he already had from rich and responsible people. And then he wound up by taking all this lop1sided illogical deadlock. with one companion whom he had swept with him in his rush. as if they had )ust occurred to him. 2edie al men thought that if a social system was founded on a certain idea it must fight for that idea. as is clear when communists attack their ideas of property. Francis did there was something that was in a good sense childish.o one would ha e said more readily than he that he was probably less like +hrist than those others who had already found their +al ary. !e took his own ethics as self1e ident and enforced them. 2oslem or +hristian. but there was a difference in the methods simply because there was a difference in the men. but the oyage was apparently unfortunate and erratic and ended in an enforced return to *taly. !e simply saw a boat and threw himself into it. 2odern men really think the same thing. -ominic did enthusiastically agree with St. But the great Francis still went about stretching out his arms for such torments and desiring that agony in ain. Francis that it was far better to pre ail by persuasion and enlightenment if it were possible. !e made a dash for his 2editerranean enterprise with something of the air of a schoolboy running away to sea. St. such as decency or the error of the Adamite heresy. !e threw himself into things abruptly. !e lay like lumber among the cargo. and between this and the final Syrian )ourney there was also an attempt to meet the 2oslem menace by preaching to the 2oors in Spain. of the unconscious meeting the unfamiliar. but the thing remained with him like a secret. because they ha e not really thought out their idea of property. !e arri ed at the head#uarters of the +rusade which was in front of the besieged city of -amietta. But while it is probable that St. =nly they do not think it so clearly.

2en liked him too much for himself to let him die for his faith. *ndeed throwing himself into the fire was hardly more desperate. because it broke off short like the beginnings of a great bridge that might ha e united East and &est. and it was at that inter iew that he e idently offered. Backed now by papal authority as well as popular enthusiasm.ot . demanding indignantly since when the 5ady /o erty had thus been insulted with the lu0ury of palaces. !e succeeded in obtaining an inter iew with the Sultan. it had started a riot of reconstruction on all sides of religious and social life. which the narrator represents as a sort of secret con ersion.Saracens. about which many Franciscans. than throwing himself among the weapons and tools of torture of a horde of fanatical 2ahometans and asking them to renounce 2ahomet. *t is #uite certain that he would ha e done so at a moment"s notice. A word must be said later about this serious di ision of sentiment and policy. which would also appear credible. and as some say proceeded. and a ast body of them and their sympathisers surrounded it with a chorus of acclamation. Finally.et ?illed. Francis might be told as a sort of ironic tragedy and comedy called 'he 2an &ho +ould . 'here may be something in the suggestion that the holy man was unconsciously protected among half1barbarous =rientals by the halo of sanctity that is supposed in such places to surround an idiot. in any case. 'here had notably been established at Bologna a magnificent mission house of the Friars 2inor. *t is said further that the 2ahometan muftis showed some coldness towards the proposed competition. But all these are only con erging guesses at a great effort that is hard to )udge. and especially began to e0press itself in that enthusiasm for building which is the mark of all the resurrections of &estern Europe. =ne man alone in that crowd was seen to turn and suddenly denounce the building as if it had been a Babylonian temple. 'heir unanimity had a strange interruption. 'here may be something in the story of the indi idual impression produced on the Sultan. returned from his Eastern +rusade. At this point we need only note it as another . and remains one of the great might1ha e1beens of history. a wild figure. But for whate er reason Francis e idently returned as freely as he came. and creating a kind of comradeship among all classes. there is perhaps something in the suggestion that the tale of St. parted company with the more moderate policy which ultimately pre ailed. and the man was recei ed instead of the message. and that one of them #uietly withdrew while it was under discussion. and to some e0tent Francis himself. to fling himself into the fire as a di ine ordeal. 2eanwhile the great mo ement in *taly was making giant strides. *t was Francis. and it was the first and last time that he spoke in wrath to his children. defying the 2oslem religious teachers to do the same. 'here is probably as much or more in the more generous e0planation of that graceful though capricious courtesy and compassion which mingled with wilder things in the stately Soldans of the type and tradition of Saladin.

among them a gentleman named =rlando of +hiusi. Francis accept it sa e as he accepted e erything.shadow fallen upon his spirit after his disappointment in the desert. *t may be that St. Sub)ect howe er to such truly sacred doubts. and as in some sense the prelude to the ne0t phase of his career. . Francis and a young companion. e en including its date. which is the most isolated and the most mysterious. Francis a singular and somewhat pictures#ue act of courtesy. * will confess that to me personally this one solitary and indirect report that has come down to us reads ery like the report of something real. !e ga e him a mountain. 'here seems some mystery about whether the winged figure was itself crucified or in the posture of crucifi0ion. who had great lands in 'uscany and who proceeded to do St. * say indicated for it must be a matter of little more than indication. as does the passage in (e elation about the supernatural creatures full of eyes.or indeed did St. 'his was Al erno of the Apennines. as a temporary con enience rather than a personal possession. Francis beheld the hea ens abo e him occupied by a ast winged being like a seraph spread out like a cross. but he turned it into a sort of refuge for the eremitical rather than the monastic life. which took its name from 2onte Feltro. or whether it merely enclosed in its frame of . some writers putting it much earlier in the narrati e than this. he retired there when he wished for a life of prayer and fasting which he did not ask e en his closest friends to follow. * think he is only alleged to ha e spoken of it to one man. Anyhow the conditions of the affair seem to ha e been these.od4. 'he matter has been. a thing somewhat uni#ue among the gifts of the world. *t would seem that St. and may best be indicated here. 'here were some at least who listened to the saint 4as if he had been an angel of . *t is true that e erything about this episode seems to be co ered with some cloud of dispute. it would be highly characteristic. the thing being a mystery both in the higher moral and the more tri ial historical sense. E en something as it were double and bewildering about the image seems to carry the impression of an e0perience shaking the senses. 'his aristocratic mansion. * belie e. &hat it was e0actly that happened there may ne er be known. a sub)ect of dispute among the most de out students of the saintly life as well as between such students and others of the more secular sort. they entered in their beautiful and casual fashion and began to gi e their own sort of good news. and upon its peak there rests for e er a dark cloud that has a rim or halo of glory. But whether or no it was chronologically it was certainly logically the culmination of the story. of some of those things that are more real than what we call daily realities. and it is certain in any case that he said ery little. came past a great castle all lighted up with the festi ities attending a son of the house recei ing the honour of knighthood. /resumably the Franciscan rule which forbade a man to accept money had made no detailed pro ision about accepting mountains. Francis ne er spoke to a soul on the sub)ect. in the course of their common wandering.

or whether it e0pressed under an imagery more primiti e and colossal than common +hristian art the primary parado0 of the death of . But truer traditions refer it to a later date and suggest that his remaining days on the earth had something about them of the lingering of a shadow. St. only that certain circumstances necessary to the conditions of this . filling the whole hea ens. ancient like the Ancient of -ays. *t is the natural occasion for considering briefly and collecti ely all the facts or fables of another aspect of the life of St. But the incident has another and much less important place in this rough and limited outline. Bona entura suggests that the seeming contradiction may ha e meant that St. +hapter *@ MIRACLES AND DEATH 'he tremendous story of the Stigmata of St. it is e ident from its traditional conse#uences that it was meant for a crown and for a seal. but certainly more disputed. Francis was to be crucified as a spirit since he could not be crucified as a man. * mean all that mass of testimony and tradition that concerns his miraculous powers and supernatural e0periences.od. Francis. Finally after some fashion the apocalypse faded from the sky and the agony within subsided. that could at least suffer like an angel though not like a god. which was the end of the last chapter. Francis saw in that seraphic ision something almost like a ast mirror of his own soul. But it seems clear that there was some #uestion of the former impression. Bona entura was right in his hint that St. for St. but whate er the meaning of the ision. *n a logical sense. * will not say more disputable. it would ha e been the end e en if it had happened at the beginning. &hether St. Francis saw abo e him. pierced his soul with a sword of grief and pity. with which it would ha e been easy to stud and be)ewel e ery page of the story. whose calm men had concei ed under the forms of winged bulls or monstrous cherubim. an aspect which is. was in some sense the end of his life. the general idea of it is ery i id and o erwhelming. St. Bona entura distinctly says that St. and as he stared downwards. it is said.wings some colossal crucifi0. Francis. he saw the marks of nails in his own hands. amid all that rela0ation and #uiet in which time can drift by with the sense of something ended and complete. 'he head of the solitary sank. and all that winged wonder was in pain like a wounded bird. since those awful and ancient principalities were without the infirmity of the /assion. some ast immemorial unthinkable power. 'his seraphic suffering. *t seems to ha e been after seeing this ision that he began to go blind. and silence and the natural air filled the morning twilight and settled slowly in the purple chasms and cleft abysses of the Apennines. it may be inferred that some sort of mounting agony accompanied the ecstasy. Francis doubted how a seraph could be crucified.

4 as * think 2atthew Arnold e0pressed it. But long before these things had happened. *t should be remembered that these real sceptics. * can understand their . *n other words it was the remains of that sceptical simplification by which some of the philosophers of the early eighteenth century had popularised the impression $for a ery short time% that we had disco ered the regulations of the cosmos like the works of a clock. somewhat hastily. of course. a pre)udice that is plainly disappearing in days of greater enlightenment. A man in our time does not know what miracle he will ne0t ha e to swallow. in those :ictorian days which did seriously separate the irtues from the miracles of the saints111 e en in those days * could not help feeling aguely puzzled about how this method could be applied to history. all such )ewels into a heap. * ha e ne er been #uite clear about the nature of the right by which historians accepted masses of detail from them as definitely true. E en then * did not #uite understand. :oltaire.narration make it better to gather. * ha e here adopted this course in order to make allowance for a pre)udice. and notably of the whole medie al period. and especially of a greater range of scientific e0periment and knowledge. Francis far away in the distance and drawing me e en at that distance. A man in :oltaire"s time did not know what miracle he would ne0t ha e to throw up. 'he border between the credible and the incredible has not only become once more as ague as in any barbaric twilight. of so ery simple a clock that it was possible to distinguish almost at a glance what could or could not ha e happened in human e0perience. rests on certain connected chronicles written by people who are some of them nameless and all of them dead. and e en now * do not #uite understand. what used to be called the belief 4that miracles do not happen. on what principle one is to pick and choose in the chronicles of the past which seem to be all of a piece. and suddenly denied their truthfulness when one detail was preternatural. * do not complain of their being sceptics. in those days of my boyhood when * first saw the figure of St. in e0pressing the standpoint of so many of our :ictorian uncles and great1uncles. who cannot in any case be cross1e0amined and cannot in some cases be corroborated. * mean. * am puzzled about why the sceptics are not more sceptical. E erybody knows by this time that science has had its re enge on scepticism. *t is indeed to a great e0tent a pre)udice of the past. possibly in order to effect another monkish fraud. but the credible is ob iously increasing and the incredible shrinking. laughed openly at the tale and said that some fasting monk or hermit had dropped his fish1bones there. All our knowledge of certain historical periods. But it is a pre)udice that is still tenacious in many of an older generation and still traditional in many of the younger. of the golden age of scepticism. were #uite as scornful of the first fancies of science as of the lingering legends of religion. when he was told that a fossil fish had been found on the peaks of the Alps.

but it is a reductio ad absurdum of the iew which thought all miracles absurd. a sort of high1water mark of insane scepticism. *t could not mean that other parts of his story must be recei ed with complete credulity. but in that case the only inference is that the chronicle was written by liars or lunatics. upon what precise principle are they forbidden to tell us of a wild story that St. when the madness of mythological e0planation had dissol ed a large part of solid history under the uni ersal and lu0uriant warmth and radiance of the Sun12yth. 'his is undoubtedly a reductio ad absurdum. And the really logical conclusion from throwing doubts on all tales like the miracles of St. /eople used to go about saying that there was no such person as St. /erhaps it is all monkish fables and there ne er was any St.4 &hy should they not say e#ually well. we should not e0actly take an affida it that the balloon was blue any more than that the moon was green. /atrick. when this sort of thing was really said or done. And in abstract logic this method of selection would lead to the wildest absurdities.4 &hy should they not write on the same principle3 4'he credulity of the age was such as to suppose that an obscure peasant girl could get an audience at the court of the -auphin4> And so. Francis. Francis flung himself into the camp of the ferocious 2oslems and returned safe> * only ask for information. 'hey will write for instance3 42onkish fanaticism found it easy to spread the report that miracles were already being worked at the tomb of 'homas Becket. but there ha e been any number of moons and meteors to take its place. *f somebody said he had met a man in yellow trousers. An intrinsically incredible story could only mean that the authority was unworthy of credit.saying that these details would ne er ha e been included in a chronicle e0cept by lunatics or liars. who proceeded to )ump down his own throat. 'here was a time. 'homas Becket or any 7oan of Arc. in the present case. when they tell us there is a wild story that St. which is e ery bit as much of a human and historical howler as saying there was no such person as St. And there really was a modern moment. *f somebody claimed to ha e gone up in a blue balloon and found that the moon was made of green cheese. . * will undertake to say there was not a word written of St. for * do not see the rationale of the thing myself. 42onkish fanaticism found it easy to spread the slander that four knights from ?ing !enry"s court had assassinated 'homas Becket in the cathedral4> 'hey would write something like this3 4'he credulity of the age readily belie ed that 7oan of Arc had been inspired to point out the -auphin although he was in disguise. for instance. we should not e0actly take our Bible oath or be burned at the stake for the statement that he wore yellow trousers. Francis was to throw doubts on the e0istence of men like St. Francis flung himself into the fire and emerged scathless. Francis. Francis by any contemporary who was himself incapable of belie ing and telling a miraculous story. * belie e that that particular sun has already set. Francis or any St.

*n other words there is only one intelligent reason why a man does not belie e in miracles and that is that he does belie e in materialism. But for the most of us both those phases of paradise are past. Francis. nothing is fi0ed at all. and it is as rational for a theist to belie e in miracles as for an atheist to disbelie e in them. can ha e o erlooked the fact that the whole tale of St. Francis is made to call himself an ass. from which many things may emerge moulded into what rationalism would ha e called monsters. *f it burns nine sticks out of ten because it is its nature or doom to do so. But these fi0ed points of faith and philosophy are things for a theoretical work and ha e no particular place here. &hether a man belie es that fire in one case could fail to burn depends on why he thinks it generally does burn. * mean the fact that in a practical sense the whole of this matter is again in the melting pot. is why * used to feel that the Brother &olf and Sister Bird of St. * shall not attempt here any definite differentiation between them. Some say there is an innocent stage of infancy in which we do really belie e that a cow talked or a fo0 made a tar baby. which ha e their place here. * shall not do so for a practical reason affecting the utility of the proceeding. would make a magnificent Sun12yth. there is one sense in which we can for practical purposes distinguish between probable and improbable things in such a story. no doubt. then it might be the will of . /atrick was a Sun12yth or St. * cannot think how e erybody. another and more promising theory occurs to me. Francis is of 'otemistic origin. Some stories are told much more seriously than others. But apart from this. As * shall suggest in a moment. *t is not so much a #uestion of cosmic criticism about the nature of the e ent as of literary criticism about the nature of the story. Anyhow there is an innocent period of intellectual growth in which we do sometimes really belie e that St.od that the tenth should be unburned. of course. as so often happens to such fine theorists.od that it should. !ow could anybody miss the chance of being a Sun12yth when he is actually best known by a song called 'he +anticle of the Sun> *t is needless to point out that the fire in Syria was the dawn in the East and the bleeding wounds in 'uscany the sunset in the &est. because in the original mythos Francis was merely the name gi en to the real four1footed donkey. 'he Franciscan woods are as full of them as any (ed *ndian fable. And in the matter of history and biography. only.obody can get behind that fundamental difference about the reason of things. then it will burn the tenth stick as well. 'he world is in a welter of the possible and impossible. 'he fi0ed points of faith and philosophy do indeed remain always the same. *f it burns nine sticks because it is the will of . *t is un#uestionably a tale that simply swarms with totems. .St. Francis a 'otem. including myself. And that. and nobody knows what will be the ne0t scientific hypothesis . Francis were somehow like the Brer Fo0 and Sis +ow of 9ncle (emus. * could e0pound this theory at considerable length. afterwards aguely e ol ed into a half1 human god or hero.

of showing first that nobody but a born fool could fail to realise that Francis of Assisi was a ery real historical human being.4 &hat is the use of censoring them and blacking them out because they are marked 4miracles. miracles and all. * should only be too thankful if this thin and scratchy sketch contains a line or two that attracts men to study St. Francis or the study of St. &hat is the good of a superior sceptic throwing them away as unthinkable. that these tricks are of the same type as the good works of the saint. to be studied separately if such scientific study were possible. Francis at all. But it must be remembered that this book is a owedly only an introduction to St. they will soon find that the supernatural part of the story seems #uite as natural as the rest. 'his being so he can choose between two courses. &hat is the use of dismissing all that as inconcei able. before he claims to disbelie e anything. Francis. since * was only presenting his claim on all humanity. &ith them the ob)ect is to get them to listen to St.to support some ancient superstition.4 when thought reading is already a parlour game like musical chairs> 'here is another whole department. sa e perhaps in the sense of -iabolus simius -ei. And to this sane and simple course the new historians will probably ha e to return. as the original historians told it. 'he best and boldest course would be to tell the whole story in a straightforward way. Francis for themsel es. Francis would already be e0plained by psychologists. * therefore adopted the alternati e course. the miracles of healing. But it is not a #uestion of what * belie e and why. that he may not . 'hose who need an introduction are in their nature strangers. 'here is one whole department of the miracles of St. 'hree1#uarters of the miracles attributed to St. of course. Francis. not indeed as a +atholic e0plains them. * ha e here chosen between them. at the moment when faith1healing is already a big booming 8ankee business like Barnum"s Show> 'here is another whole department analogous to the tales of +hrist 4percei ing men"s thoughts. and if they do study him for themsel es. *t only remains to say a few words about some distinctions that may reasonably be obser ed in the matter by any man of any iews. and not without some hesitation. and then summarising briefly in this chapter the superhuman powers that were certainly a part of that history and humanity. including sceptical humanity. but as a materialist must necessarily refuse to e0plain them. and in doing so it is perfectly legitimate so to arrange the order of the facts that the familiar come before the unfamiliar and those they can at once understand before those they ha e a difficulty in understanding. when e en these common psychical parlour tricks turn perpetually upon touching some familiar ob)ect or holding in the hand some personal possession> * do not belie e. And the moral for the practical biographer and historian is that he must wait till things settle down a little more. But it was necessary that my outline should be a merely human one. of the well1attested wonders worked from his relics and fragmentary possessions. but of what the sceptic disbelie es and why.

co1incident in so many points with common sense. they ob iously fall into certain different classes. Bona entura and +elano and the 'hree +ompanions. that is they are testimony that is truth or lies. under conditions in which nobody thinks he is propounding a religious doctrine to be recei ed or re)ected. 4St. they say. Francis went into the /ortiuncula. and there are so many admirable compilations that co er nearly all of them. indeed. *f this is true about all the legends and stories. 4* saw St. 'hey do not say. Francis recei ed the mystical wounds. *t has been said.ow it is clean against +atholic tradition. to suppose that this is really the proportion of these things in practical human life. Francis"s wounds4. 'he 'hree +ompanions are not in any case making an affida it. =thers are ob iously in their form most emphatically e idence. 4* saw St. 'hey are ob iously tales told by the fire to peasants or the children of peasants.confuse the point and clima0 of the saint"s life with the fancies or rumours that were really only the fringes of his reputation. though they declare that St. 'here is so immense a mass of legends and anecdotes about St. 4St. e en considered as supernatural or preternatural stories. they say. that * ha e been compelled within these narrow limits to pursue a somewhat narrow policy. Francis go into the /ortiuncula4. not so much by our e0perience of miracles as by our e0perience of stories. whom so many parties ha e been disposed to treat as a useful uni ersal illain. St. *t is practically necessary to suggest that it was a conspiracy. because it only arises out of the ery nature of the narrati e. but only rounding off a story in the most symmetrical way. * do not think this argument conclusi e. Francis. Francis of Assisi.4 But neither do they say. do not say that they themsel es saw those wounds. Some of them ha e the character of fairy stories in their form e en more than their incident. and it will be ery hard for any )udge of human nature to think they are lies. it is especially true about the miraculous legends and the supernatural stories. according to that sort of decorati e scheme or pattern that runs through all fairy stories. . that these early biographers. but is something that started almost immediately with his earliest biographers. * mean that it is certainly not a late legendary accretion added afterwards to the fame of St.4 But * still cannot understand why they should be trusted as eye1 witnesses about the one fact and not trusted as eye1witnesses about the . we should recei e a rather bewildered impression that the biography contains more supernatural e ents than natural ones. that of following one line of e0planation and only mentioning one anecdote here or there because it illustrates that e0planation. 'hey are writing a chronicle of a comparati ely impersonal and ery ob)ecti e description. *f we were to take some stories as they stand. Francis recei ed wounds. 2oreo er. indeed there has been some disposition to put the fraud upon the unfortunate Elias. and therefore none of the admitted parts of their story are in the form of an affida it. *t is admitted that the story of the Stigmata is not a legend but can only be a lie.

As it became more and more apparent that his health was failing. and take their oath that they themsel es saw and erified the physical facts in #uestion. !e went to (ieti. )ust as he had wandered as a li ing one. *f you would go anywhere or make any pilgrimage. Francis. but they are bound to deny the preternatural as much in the testimony of a modern scientific professor as in that of a medie al monkish chronicler. perhaps to . though his spire was higher than ours. especially of St. *t did not make him dismal or dehumanised. he whose whole gospel and glory it was to be homeless. it would be a most abrupt and abnormal interruption in their way of telling the story if they suddenly began to curse and to swear. But there is something profoundly pathetic. therefore. for it was the whole meaning of his message that such mysticism makes a man cheerful and humane. in the last resort. it would be difficult for any one to miss it in reading the account of his death. in the fact that at last. the #uestion of why these chronicles should be credited at all. the sting of the sense of home. !e also had his maladie du clocher. return always to your home.ursia. 4. *t seems to me.4 he cried with the sudden energy of strong spirits in death. *f this simple distinction were not apparent from the whole of his life. Francis after Al erno. to the mere fact that some men cannot belie e in miracles because they are materialists. 4ne er gi e up this place. 'his element of the supernatural did not separate him from the natural. if they are credited with abounding in the incredible.od. *t seems to me no moment for . for it was the whole point of his position that it united him more perfectly to the natural. And there are plenty of professors for them to contradict by this time. as it would seem. But it was the whole point of his position. and gi e their names and addresses.4 And the procession passed under the arches of his home. 'hat is logical enough. he who had denied himself all sense of place and possession. and he lay down on his bed and his brethren gathered round him for the last long igil. *t is all of a piece. he seems to ha e been carried from place to place like a pageant of sickness or almost like a pageant of mortality. we shall miss the whole point of St. to . certainly to +ortona by the lake of /erugia. and it was the whole meaning of his message. that this particular discussion goes back to the general #uestion * ha e already mentioned. recei ed like a /arthian shot from nature. !e who had become a agabond for the sake of a ision.other. his sickness of the spire. *n a sense he may be said to ha e wandered as a dying man. But that again will probably be found to re ert. if we do not realise that he was li ing a supernatural life. But whate er may be thought of such supernaturalism in the comparati ely material and popular sense of supernatural acts. And there is more and more of such supernaturalism in his life as he approaches towards his death.aples. that the power that did it was a supernatural power. his flame of life leapt up and his heart re)oiced when they saw afar off on the Assisian hill the solemn pillars of the /ortiuncula.e er. for this is the holy house of . and full of great problems.

as he had first gone forth into the wintry woods from the presence of his father. *t was the final assertion of his great fi0ed idea. and many memories must ha e gathered like ghosts in the twilight. But St. *n that one mighty moment he blessed us all.ero. and Elias. who had ser ed as his secretary. a master of a machine of democratic discipline by which others could organise themsel es. while the 9mbrian"s had a natural and continuous grace like that of an athlete. and Angelo. For . to say 6ualis artife0pereo. But for the men standing around him there must ha e been other thoughts mingling with these. and his thoughts were caught upwards where we cannot follow them. who died on the cross. his anti1type. as some say clad only in a hair1shirt.od. his successor. he was lifted at his own re#uest off his own rude bed and laid on the bare ground. his first friend. and he had a better right than . *t was an artist in life who was here called to be an artist in death. any more than a landscape painter can lea e his eyes in his will. !uge and happy as was the popular work he left behind him. For what lay dying there was not -ominic of the -ogs of . Anyhow he stood among the rest as the hours passed and the shadows lengthened in the house of the . was face to face with nothing less than . for ruffians and sa ages did that. !is tragedy was that he had a Franciscan habit without a Franciscan heart.entering into the subse#uent disputes about which successors he blessed or in what form and with what significance. But though he made a bad Franciscan. &hat was passing from the world was a person. as that day wore on and that great darkness descended in which we all lost a friend. it is truer to say in this sense that there was only one Franciscan. but who seems to ha e been little worse than an official in the wrong place. whose name was Francis. a poet. whom tradition tried to turn into a sort of 7udas. in its last inconcei able isolation. of praise and thanks springing to their most towering height out of nakedness and nothing. &e may be sure that the soul. (ound about him stood the brethren in their brown habits. there was something that he could not lea e behind. After he had taken farewell of some of his nearest an especially some of his oldest friends. As he lay there we may be certain that his seared and blinded eyes saw nothing but their ob)ect and their origin. a thing not to be replaced or repeated while the earth endures. a leader in logical and contro ersial wars that could be reduced to a plan and handed on like a plan. in di ine and dizzy heights to which death alone can lift us up. Francis had better things to say and better things to think about. there is no reason to doubt that he lo ed Francis. those that had lo ed him e en if they afterwards disputed with each other.od *ncarnate and +hrist +rucified. 'here was Bernard. *t has been said that there was only one +hristian. he might ha e made a decent -ominican. or at any rate with a ery un1Franciscan head. Anyhow.ero"s life was full of posing for the occasion like that of an actor. an outlook on life like a light that was ne er after on sea or land.

Francis. where all the brown figures stood like bronze statues. 'he dominant detail was the interpretation of the ow of po erty. FRANCIS *n one sense doubtless it is a sad irony that St. they might now ha e written in such dotted lines a more awful augury across the sky. to tell them what had happened to him who ne er knew the nature of scorn. who all his life had desired all men to agree. for any buildings or stores or tools. scattered to the four winds of hea en in the pattern of a cross at his signal of dispersion. A man might fancy that the birds must ha e known when it happened. still less on the +atholic +hurch or the /apacy or the policy pursued towards the e0treme Franciscans or the Fraticelli./ortiuncula. for the stopping of the great heart that had not broken till it held the world. or the refusal of all possessions. proposed to interfere with his negation of pri ate property. that is. 'hat is. *t is therefore only necessary to note in a ery few words what was the general nature of the contro ersy that raged after the great saint"s death. should ha e died amid increasing disagreements. is for the moment blind. or what they always assume to be the e en greater wickedness of the +hurch. as some ha e done. in the ambitions and contro ersies of his later years. &e do not know whether any shi er passed through all the thie es and the outcasts and the outlaws. so as to turn it into a mere defeat of all his ideals.obody so far as * know e er proposed to interfere with the ow of the indi idual friar that he would ha e no indi idual possessions. . went further than this and further * think than anybody else has e er gone. 'hey proposed to abolish not only pri ate property but property. . *t is perfectly true that many.obody. 'his little book is an essay on St. As they had once. they refused to be corporately responsible for anything at all. in oking the authority of Francis on their side. especially among the first supporters of this iew. !idden in the woods perhaps were little cowering creatures ne er again to be so much noticed and understood. and it has been said that animals are sometimes conscious of things to which man. But some Franciscans. their spiritual superior. 'here are some who represent his work as ha ing been merely ruined by the wickedness of the world. and nobody need think so ill of him as to suppose that his thoughts were then in the tumultuous future. were men of a . But at least in the passages and porches of the /ortiuncula there was a sudden stillness. Francis and not on the Franciscan =rder. according to the tale. they refused to own them collecti ely e en when they used them collecti ely. But we must not e0aggerate this discord. and to some e0tent troubled the last days of his life. +hapter @ THE TESTAMENT OF ST. and made some motion in the e ening sky.

splendid and selfless spirit, wholly de oted to the great saint"s ideal. *t is also perfectly true that the /ope and the authorities of the +hurch did not think this conception was a workable arrangement, and went so far in modifying it as to set aside certain clauses in the great saint"s will. But it is not at all easy to see that it was a workable arrangement or e en an arrangement at all; for it was really a refusal to arrange anything. E erybody knew of course that Franciscans were communists; but this was not so much being a communist as being an anarchist. Surely upon any argument somebody or something must be answerable for what happened to or in or concerning a number of historic edifices and ordinary goods and chattels. 2any idealists of a socialistic sort, notably of the school of 2r. Shaw or 2r. &ells, ha e treated this dispute as if it were merely a case of the tyranny of wealthy and wicked pontiffs crushing the true +hristianity of +hristian Socialists. But in truth this e0treme ideal was in a sense the ery re erse of Socialist, or e en social. /recisely the thing which these enthusiasts refused was that social ownership on which Socialism is built; what they primarily refused to do was what Socialists primarily e0ist to do; to own legally in their corporate capacity. .or is it true that the tone of the /opes towards the enthusiasts was merely harsh and hostile. 'he /ope maintained for a long time a compromise which he had specially designed to meet their own conscientious ob)ections, a compromise by which the /apacy itself held the property in a kind of trust for the owners who refused to touch it. 'he truth is that this incident shows two things which are common enough in +atholic history, but ery little understood by the )ournalistic history of industrial ci ilisation. *t shows that the Saints were sometimes great men when the /opes were small men. But it also shows that great men are sometimes wrong when small men are right. And it will be found, after all, ery difficult for any candid and clear1headed outsider to deny that the /ope was right, when he insisted that the world was not made only for Franciscans. For that was what was behind the #uarrel. At the back of this particular practical #uestion there was something much larger and more momentous, the stir and wind of which we can feel as we read the contro ersy. &e might go so far as to put the ultimate truth thus. St. Francis was so great and original a man that he had something in him of what makes the founder of a religion. 2any of his followers were more or less ready, in their hearts, to treat him as the founder of a religion. 'hey were willing to let the Franciscan spirit escape from +hristendom as the +hristian spirit had escaped from *srael. 'hey were willing to let it eclipse +hristendom as the +hristian spirit had eclipsed *srael. Francis, the fire that ran through the roads of *taly, was to be the beginning of a conflagration in which the old +hristian ci ilisation was to be consumed. 'hat was the point the /ope had to settle; whether +hristendom should absorb Francis or Francis +hristendom. And he decided rightly, apart from the duties of his place; for the +hurch could include all that was

good in the Franciscans and the Franciscans could not include all that was good in the +hurch. 'here is one consideration which, though sufficiently clear in the whole story, has not perhaps been sufficiently noted, especially by those who cannot see the case for a certain +atholic common sense larger e en than Franciscan enthusiasm. 8et it arises out of the ery merits of the man whom they so rightly admire. Francis of Assisi, as has been said again and again, was a poet; that is, he was a person who could e0press his personality. .ow it is e erywhere the mark of this sort of man that his ery limitations make him larger. !e is what he is, not only by what he has, but in some degree by what he has not. But the limits that make the lines of such a personal portrait cannot be made the limits of all humanity. St. Francis is a ery strong e0ample of this #uality in the man of genius, that in him e en what is negati e is positi e, because it is part of a character. An e0cellent e0ample of what * mean may be found in his attitude towards learning and scholarship. !e ignored and in some degree discouraged books and book1learning; and from his own point of iew and that of his own work in the world he was absolutely right. 'he whole point of his message was to be so simple that the illage idiot could understand it. 'he whole point of his point of iew was that it looked out freshly upon a fresh world, that might ha e been made that morning. Sa e for the great primal things, the +reation and the Story of Eden, the first +hristmas and the first Easter, the world had no history. But is it desired or desirable that the whole +atholic +hurch should ha e no history> *t is perhaps the chief suggestion of this book that St. Francis walked the world like the /ardon of ,od. * mean that his appearance marked the moment when men could be reconciled not only to ,od but to nature and, most difficult of all, to themsel es. For it marked the moment when all the stale paganism that had poisoned the ancient world was at last worked out of the social system. !e opened the gates of the -ark Ages as of a prison of purgatory, where men had cleansed themsel es as hermits in the desert or heroes in the barbarian wars. *t was in fact his whole function to tell men to start afresh and, in that sense, to tell them to forget. *f they were to turn o er a new leaf and begin a fresh page with the first large letters of the alphabet, simply drawn and brilliantly coloured in the early mediae al manner, it was clearly a part of that particular childlike cheerfulness that they should paste down the old page that was all black and bloody with horrid things. For instance, * ha e already noted that there is not a trace in the poetry of this first *talian poet of all that pagan mythology which lingered long after paganism. 'he first *talian poet seems the only man in the world who has ne er e en heard of :irgil. 'his was e0actly right for the special sense in which he is the first *talian poet. *t is #uite right that he should call a nightingale a nightingale, and not ha e its song spoilt or saddened by the terrible tales of *tylus or /rocne. *n short, it is really #uite right and #uite desirable that St. Francis should ne er ha e heard of :irgil.

But do we really desire that -ante should ne er ha e heard of :irgil> -o we really desire that -ante should ne er ha e read any pagan mythology> *t has been truly said that the use that -ante makes of such fables is altogether part of a deeper orthodo0y; that his huge heathen fragments, his gigantic figures of 2inos or of +haron, only gi e a hint of some enormous natural religion behind all history and from the first foreshadowing the Faith. *t is well to ha e the Sybil as well as -a id in the -ies *rae. 'hat St. Francis would ha e burned all the lea es of all the books of the Sybil, in e0change for one fresh leaf from the nearest tree, is perfectly true; and perfectly proper to St. Francis. But it is good to ha e the -ies *rae as well as the +anticle of the Sun. By this thesis, in short, the coming of St. Francis was like the birth of a child in a dark house, lifting its doom; a child that grows up unconscious of the tragedy and triumphs o er it by his innocence. *n him it is necessarily not only innocence but ignorance. *t is the essence of the story that he should pluck at the green grass without knowing it grows o er a murdered man or climb the apple1tree without knowing it was the gibbet of a suicide. *t was such an amnesty and reconciliation that the freshness of the Franciscan spirit brought to all the world. But it does not follow that it ought to impose its ignorance on all the world. And * think it would ha e tried to impose it on all the world. For some Franciscans it would ha e seemed right that Franciscan poetry should e0pel Benedictine prose. For the symbolic child it was #uite rational. *t was right enough that for such a child the world should be a large new nursery with blank white1washed walls, on which he could draw his own pictures in chalk in the childish fashion, crude in outline and gay in colour; the beginnings of all our art. *t was right enough that to him such a nursery should seem the most magnificent mansion of the imagination of man. But in the +hurch of ,od are many mansions. E ery heresy has been an effort to narrow the +hurch. *f the Franciscan mo ement had turned into a new religion, it would after all ha e been a narrow religion. *n so far as it did turn here and there into a heresy, it was a narrow heresy. *t did what heresy always does; it set the mood against the mind. 'he mood was indeed originally the good and glorious mood of the great St. Francis, but it was not the whole mind of ,od or e en of man. And it is a fact that the mood itself degenerated, as the mood turned into a monomania. A sect that came to be called the Fraticelli declared themsel es the true sons of St. Francis and broke away from the compromises of (ome in fa our of what they would ha e called the complete programme of Assisi. *n a ery little while these loose Franciscans began to look as ferocious as Flagellants. 'hey launched new and iolent etoes; they denounced marriage; that is, they denounced mankind. *n the name of the most human of saints they declared war upon humanity. 'hey did not perish particularly through being persecuted; many of them were e entually persuaded; and the unpersuadable rump of them that remained remained without producing

mystics and nothing else but mystics. a man intensely indi idual e0actly as St. he may well be said to ha e written a grammar of acceptance. the first naturalist whose e0periments with light and water had all the luminous #uaintness that belongs to the beginnings of natural history. *t was this. *t counted among its sons Bona entura. but he was always going home. 'he sense of humour which salts all the stories of his escapades alone pre ented him from e er hardening into the solemnity of sectarian self1righteousness. he took the #ueerest and most zigzag short cuts through the wood.anything in the least calculated to remind anybody of the real St. !e was not only far too humble to be an heresiarch. and know them for the sons of St. the great mystic. mystics and not +hristians. but he was far too human to desire to be an e0tremist. and he cared chiefly for the best kind of gi ing which is called thanksgi ing. and whom e en the most material scientists ha e hailed as a father of science. and Bernardino. that afterwards bore fruit for the world. his real followers. they would not listen to reason. and if his followers had on some practical points to admit that he was wrong. mystics and not men. *t counted (aymond 5ully with his strange learning and his large and daring plans for the con ersion of the world. in the spirit of thanks for what he has done. Francis was intensely indi idual. as at a deeper chord struck upon a harp. a grammar . in the sense of an e0ile at the ends of the earth. the popular preacher. &hat was the matter with these people was that they were mystics. mystics and not +atholics. who ha e really pro ed that he was right and e en in transcending some of his negations ha e triumphantly e0tended and interpreted his truth. !e was abo e all things a great gi er. Francis. it is also true that they were a certain kind of men keeping the spirit and sa our of a certain kind of man. !e was by nature ready to admit that he was wrong. we come back to something that was indeed deeper than e erything about him that seemed an almost el ish eccentricity. 'he great saint was sane. !e was not a mere eccentric because he was always turning towards the centre and heart of the maze. *t is not merely true that these were great men who did great work for the world. And St. who filled *taly with the ery beatific buffooneries of a 7ongleur de -ieu. they only admitted that he was wrong in order to pro e that he was right. *t counted (oger Bacon. and with the ery sound of the word sanity. that we can recognise in them a taste and tang of audacity and simplicity. the central and orthodo0 trunk of it. For that is the full and final spirit in which we should turn to St. Francis. *f another great man wrote a grammar of assent. always hung on to reason by one in isible and indestructible hair. in the most e0act sense. Francis. 'hey rotted away because. Francis. howe er wild and romantic his gyrations might appear to many. 'he Franciscan order did not fossilise or break off short like something of which the true purpose has been frustrated by official tyranny or internal treason. For it is they.

!e was the spirit that was embodied. and its depths are a bottomless abyss. Francis meant by the great and good debt that cannot be paid. Francis staged in his own simple fashion a . Francis to be inspired. . it is to1day behind much that is loosely called +hristian Socialist and can more correctly be called +atholic -emocrat.ati ity /lay of Bethlehem.od stands on its strongest ground when it stands on nothing. and that was the thing that we call the drama. !e knew that the praise of . !e understood down to its ery depths the theory of thanks. 'he mighty men of genius who made the +hristian ci ilisation that we know appear in history almost as his ser ants and imitators. at which men more material could light both torches and tapers. !e was the spiritual essence and substance that walked the world. all that reforming energy of mediae al and modern times that goes to the burden of -eus est -eus /auperum. And something of that sense of impotence which was more than half his power will descend on any one who knows what that inspiration has been in history. From him came a whole awakening of the world and a dawn in which all shapes and colours could be seen anew. a miracle was wrought full of the Franciscan glory. but we may at least say that one thing came to life in his arms. 5ouis ruled. !e knew that we can best measure the towering miracle of the mere fact of e0istence if we realise that but for some strange mercy we should not e en e0ist. he had gi en poetry to *taly. he also is too great for anything but gratitude. !e will know something of what St. he had enacted the scenes. *t is said that when St. since he has li ed and changed the world. 'he !oly +hild was a wooden doll or bambino. !is abstract ardour for human beings was in a multitude of )ust mediae al laws against the pride and cruelty of riches. before any one had seen these things in isible forms deri ed from it3 a wandering fire as if from nowhere. Sa e for his intense indi idual lo e of song.iotto had painted the pictures. !e assuredly was not thinking of lesser things. before St. he had risen as the tribune of the poor. he did not perhaps himself embody this spirit in any of these arts.of gratitude. !e will feel at once the desire to ha e done infinitely more and the futility of ha ing done . and it was said that he embraced it and that the image came to life in his arms. !e also is a gi er of things we could not ha e e en thought of for oursel es. Before -ante was.either on the artistic nor the social side would anybody pretend that these things would not ha e e0isted without him. And something of that larger truth is repeated in a lesser form in our own relations with so mighty a maker of history. and can only record it in a series of straggling and meagre sentences. !e was the soul of mediae al ci ilisation before it e en found a body. yet it is strictly true to say that we cannot now imagine them without him. and before . with kings and angels in the stiff and gay mediae al garments and the golden wigs that stood for haloes. Another and #uite different stream of spiritual inspiration deri es largely from him. 'hat great painter who began the whole human inspiration of European painting had himself gone to St.

o erwhelming arches of such a temple of time and eternity. Last modified: 30th August 200 Martin Ward.anything.Chesterton's Works on the Web. but this brief candle burnt out so #uickly before his shrine. Email martin!g"c. to ha e nothing to set up under the o erhanging.K.org. Up to G. De Montfort University. Software Technology Research Lab. and ha e nothing in return to establish against it. Leicester. !e will know what it is to stand under such a deluge of a dead man"s mar els.#" .