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visits in August 1818 (in search of manuscripts and early printed books) to the great monasteries of Kremsmünster, St. Florian, Mölk and Göttwic, as also to Salzburg and Gmunden, with vivid pictures of their artistic and natural beauties. The strong desire kindled in a youthful imagination to follow Dibdin's footsteps and see sights so interesting and so rare having, after persisting undiminished for thirty years, at length been gratified, it may not be uninteresting to compare what the traveller saw in 1885 with Dr. Dibdin's observations made exactly sixty-seven years before.?
The centre from which these monastic visits can best be made is the bright, clean, busy city of Linz, and to Linz accordingly we went after pausing at Würzburg, Nuremberg, Regensburg, and Passau by the way. The Danube journey, from Passau to Linz, was performed on the 19th of August, a day which felt more like November, so great was the cold. To one who comes fresh from the Rhine, the wildness of the Danube is very striking. The latter river, with its long stretches of forest intervening between the rare and scanty signs of man's handiwork, still presents much of the aspect it must have worn in the days of Tacitus, especially its lofty frowning left bank, the old Frons Germanice.
At Linz the Erzherzog Karl Hotel is pleasantly and conveniently situated close to the steamers' landing-place, and its windows command a pleasant view of the Danube and the heights on its opposite shore. Good carriages and horses can also be hired at the hotel ; and one was at once engaged to take us next day to pay our first monastic visit--namely, that to the great monastery of St. Florian,3 the home of some ninety canons regular of St. Augustine.
The day was delightful, the open carriage comfortable with its springs and cushions in good order, and a very civil coachman, with a smart coat and black cockade, drove our pair of spanking bays briskly along a pleasant road which, after for a time skirting the Vienna railroad, turned south and began between fields and woodlands to ascend the higher ground whereon the distant monastery is perched. The greensward of a picturesque wood we traversed was thickly spangled with brilliant blossoms of Melampyrum nemorosum. This lovely little plant requires more than most others to be seen alive to be appreciated, as its coloured leaves become invariably and rapidly black when preserved for herbaria. Nor can it be a very common plant, as, though we repeatedly looked for it, we never saw it in any of our country rambles save in this one wood. The true flower is a brilliant yellow drooping tube, while the blossom is made up of several of these surmounted by a crown of brightest blue or purplish bractsthat is modified foliage leaves.
? See vol. iii. pp. 217-276.
3 St. Florian is said to have been a soldier and martyr of the time of Diocletian, who was thrown from a bridge with a stone tied about his neck. He is a popular saint in Bavaria and Austria, though not nearly so much so as St. John Nepomuk. He is usually represented in armour pouring water from a bucket to extinguish a house or city in flames, and is popularly esteemed an auxiliary against fires.
In a short time the spires and cupolas of St. Florian's began to appear above a distant wood; they were again lost to sight as we descended a declivity, but soon the whole mass of the vast monastery came gradually into view during the last ascent. Though its community celebrated five years ago the thousandth anniversary of their foundation, none of the buildings, save some fragments of the crypt, are even of mediæval date, the whole having been rebuilt during the reign of the Emperor Charles VI., who reigned from 1710 to 1740. To English ideas it has rather the character of a palace than a monastery, and indeed within it are apartments destined for imperial use, to lodge the sovereign and his suite when visiting this part of his dominions.
Passing the small village immediately without the monastery walls, we drove within the first enclosure, and, having sent in our letters of introduction, were conducted into the church, wherein vespers had just begun.
It is a stately edifice, rich in marble and gilding, and provided with handsome pews (carved seats with doors) throughout its nave.
The choir is furnished with stalls and fittings of rich inlaid woodwork, while at the west end of the nave is the celebrated organ, which has more stops than any other in Austria, and three hundred pipes, which have now, just as at the time of Dibdin's visit, completely the appearance of polished silver. The woodwork is painted white, richly relieved with gold. “For size and splendour,' he remarks,4 • I have never seen anything like it.'
The office was but recited in monotone by less than twenty of the canons, each having a short white surplice over his cassock. It was no sooner finished than a servant advanced to invite us to see the Herr Prelat, or abbot, whose name and title is Ferdinand Moser, Propst der reg. Chorherrenstifter St. Florian. We found him in the sacristy, a man of about sixty, of pleasant aspect, with a manner full of dignified but benevolent courtesy, such as might befit an Anglican bishop or other spiritual lord of acres. Ascending a magnificent staircase to the richly furnished abbatial range of apartments, we were soon introduced to the librarian, Father Albin Cxerny, a venerable whitehaired monk who had been for three-and-forty years an inmate of the monastery. Our first visit was to the library, consisting of one handsome principal room with smaller chambers opening out from it and rich with 50,000 volumes, many having been added since they were gazed at by the English bibliographer, our predecessor. We were greatly interested to find that there was yet a lively tradition of Dr. Dibdin's visit, and were shown first the portrait, and afterwards the tomb, of the abbot who had received him; and, to our great satisfaction, the librarian at once took down from their library shelf the three volumes of Dibdin's tour (which had been presented to the monastery by their author), and, turning to his description of the scene around us, spoke with just admiration of its engravings, and with touching kindness of his predecessor in office-the Father Klein (now long since deceased) who had received with so much docility the bibliographical doctrines 6 of his English visitor. Amongst the books of the library is an elaborate German flora in many quarto volumes with a coloured plate of each species, as in our Sowerby's English Botany.
* Loc. cit. vol. iii. p. 242.
• It should be recollected that these religious are not Benedictines but Augus. tinians. Part of their ordinary dress consists of a singular garment which, by a zoological analogy, may be termed an ecclesiastical' rudimentary organ.' Over the black cassock is worn a long and very narrow slip of white linen hanging down in front and behind, and united by a tape round the neck. This odd appendage is, we were told, a much diminished survival of an ordinary monastic scapular of a white colour which was worn by them in former ages.
There is a very fine refectory and large garden and highly ornamental conservatory-or winter garden—for the abbot's use, but thrown open to the public except on great feast days. The imperial apartments are richly and appropriately decorated, and the banqueting hall is magnificent. The bedrooms were strangely mistaken by Dibdin, as the librarian pointed out, for monastic dormitories.'?
By the kindness of the superior the very same treat was given to us as had been given to our predecessor in 1818. We were taken to the church, where seated in the stalls we listened for the best part of half an hour to a performance upon their world-renowned organ. Our experience was much like that of Mr. Dibdin, who wrote: 8
To our admiration the organ burst forth with a power of intonation (every stop being opened) such as I had never heard exceeded. As there were only a few present, the sounds were necessarily increased by being reverberated from every part of the building; and for a moment it seemed as if the very dome would have been unroofed and the sides burst asunder. We could not hear a word that was spoken; when, in a few succeeding seconds, the diapason stop only was opened ... and how sweet and touching was the melody which it imparted! A solemn stave or two of a hymn (during which a few other pipes were opened) was then performed by the organist . . . and the effect was as if these notes had been chaunted by an invisible choir of angels.
Our last visit was to the spacious crypt, around the interior of which lie (above ground) in bronze sarcophagi the bodies of the abbots and of a few of the monastery's benefactors, while in its centre are the remains of the other members of the fraternity, each in a cavity closed by a stone engraved with a name and date, and reminding us of the catacombs of Kensal Green. Here lie all those whom Dibdin saw. In another sixty-seven years will this monastery be still enduring, and another visitor in 1952 be shown the resting-places of those on whose friendly faces we ourselves have gazed ?
« Loc. cit. p. 257. ? Loc. cit. p. 243. & Loc. cit. p. 242.
Austria certainly shows a marvellously tenacious power of endurance, and in spite of many political changes has been so far singularly exempt from revolutionary destruction. No lover of antiquity, no one who rejoices to see yet surviving social phenomena elsewhere extinct, can fail to exclaim Esto perpetua! The convent' of St. Florian still possesses, as we have already said, its old landed property. This property it does not let out either on lease or by the year, but it is its own farmer, all the work, whether of arable land, pasture, or forest, being performed by hired labour exclusively.
Though the community is so large, yet the number within the monastery is almost always much less. This is because the convent possesses not only its lands, but also (as did our own monasteries) the right of presentation to various livings. These are still no less than thirty-three in number, and members of the community are sent out to serve them, but they are liable to recall at any moment. A considerable number of the canons are also sent out to act as professors in different places of education. Upon the death of an abbot his successor is freely elected by the members, who assemble from all parts for the occasion. Neither the Pope nor the government has any right of nomination, or even of recommendation, but the government can veto the election of an obnoxious individual. This right of veto, however, has been, we were told, very rarely exercised.
The abbey farm has a large supply of live stock. We saw sixtyseven cows in their stalls, and they seemed very well looked after. The abbot has his own private carriage and horses, and we saw twenty-six horses of different kinds in the stables. The collection of pigs was very large, and included some which had recently arrived from England. They were shut up in four dozen pens, the whole of which were enclosed and roofed over by a very large and solid outhouse.
It was with some surprise that I found the superior of this great abbey was as unable to converse either in French or English as was his predecessor when visited by Dibdin. He and the librarian were both, however, well up in English politics, and we were playfully reproached with our late Prime Minister's sentiments towards Austria, nor could we but feel surprised at hearing Mr. Gladstone's questions as to where Austria had done good’ quoted in this secluded monastic retreat.
After cordial farewells, a rapid drive soon carried us back to Linz, in time to escape a storm which had been threatening us, and to enjoy in security the long-continued reverberations of thunder which sounded amongst the mountains, and to see the city lit up by rapidly repeated flashes of extreme brilliancy.
The next day was set apart for a visit to our first great Benedictine house--that of Kremsmünster.
Although material progress enabled us for this purpose to dispense with the use of horses, yet we rather envied the conditions under which Dibdin had visited that monastery. By eleven in the morning,' he tells usio óthe postboy's bugle sounded for departure. The carriage and horses were at the door, the postboy arrayed in a scarlet jacket with a black velvet collar edged with silver lace; and the travellers being comfortably seated, the whip sounded, and off we went uphill at a good round cantering pace. Our pace, on the contrary, was of the slowest which a stopping-at-every-smallest-station train could be credited with. We had to start from our inn at Linz at a quarter past six, and we did not accomplish the whole journey from door to door in much less time than that in which the about equally long journey to Kremsmünster from Gmunden was made by road sixty-seven years before.
9 The word 'convent' pro denotes the community, whether male or female, which inhabits a religious house. The word monastery'denotes the dwelling-place itself.
As we approached Krems, the mountains of the Salzkammergut stood out boldly on the horizon, but more striking to us was the prodigious monastery, with its Babel-like observatory tower, the whole mass of its buildings rising from an elevated hill overhanging the small townlet of Krems at its base.
By good fortune, close to the station, we overtook a monk on his road home, who kindly escorted us by a short cut through the monastic gardens, of which he had the key, up to the monastery and to the Prelatura, when, after a short wait in an anteroom, the abbot, Herr Leonard Achleitner, came and invited us into his study (an elegant apartment furnished in crimson velvet), where he read our letters of introduction. Again we were forced to use our little store of German. The courteous prelate lamented that official business called him away from home, and, after inviting us to dine and sleep, consigned us to the care of a pleasant and healthy-looking young monk, by name Brother Columban Schiesflingstrasse, who was careful that we should fail to see and learn nothing which it interested us to inspect or to inquire about.
The huge abbey—an eighteenth-century structure, though its foundation dates from the eighth-consists of a series of spacious quadrangles and a large church similar in style to that of St. Florian, save that the choir is a western gallery and that the decorations generally are not so fine.
This great house is the home of one hundred monks, three hundred students, and many servants. As was the case with the Augustinians, so here many of the monks are non-resident, being appointed to serve the twenty-five livings to which the abbot has the right of presentation. The abbot is freely elected for life by the community. An applicant for admission amongst its members need not be of noble birth or the possessor of any fortune, but if he is the owner of property he must make contribution therewith on his admission. The novitiate lasts for a year, and for four years longer the newcomer is free to leave if he likes. After that he is held
10 Loc. cit. p. 216.