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man skull, and a few religious books. Silence is at all times rigidly maintained: conversation is never permitted. Should two of them ever be seen standing near each other, though pursuing their daily labour, and preserving the strictest silence, it is considered as a violation of their vow, and highly criminal. Each member is, therefore, as completely insulated as if he alone existed in the monastery. None but the Pere Abbe knows the name, age, rank, or even the native country, of any member of the community.
Every one, at his first entrance, assumes another name; and, with his former appellation, each is supposed to abjure not only the world, but every recollection and memorial of himself and his connexions. No word ever escapes from his lips, by which another could possibly guess who he is, or where he comes from; and persons of the same name, family, and neighbourhood, have often lived together in the convent for years, unknown to each other, without having suspected the proximity."
"Surely," said Mrs. Spencer, "the recluse and solitary life of these mistakenly pious men, is in direct opposition to the precepts of the sacred volume, which enjoin us to love our neighbour as ourselves. Now this love appears best to be exemplified by acts of benevolence and practical kindness. 'If we would do good to mankind, we must live with them;' and the daily and hourly instances of self-denial that we are called upon to exercise, is surely of more benefit to the mind, than the most rigid austerity, or the most severe bodily penances."
"I quite agree with you," replied Mr. Wilmot: "the very mortifications they endure may induce self-love, or, I should rather say, selfrighteousness; and nothing, I think it will be generally allowed, can be more contrary to the tenor of the gospel spirit. Very different was the conduct of Bernard Palissy, a native of Saintes, in the south of France, who lived in the reign of Henry the Third. He was a potter by trade; but, having an innate genius for the sciences, he devoted all the time he could spare from his pottery, to the cultivation of them.
"The king hearing of him, and curious to see so extraordinary a character, sent for him to Paris, and had several interviews with him. Palissy was, by religion, a protestant; and it was thought his religious principles were the great obstacles to his fortune.
"One day the king told him, unless he would change bis religion he should be compelled to withdraw his protection from him. Palissy heard the king with the respect due to his rank, but answered with a firm and dignified tone: 'Your majesty has frequently told me that you pitied my case, but since you can say that you shall be compelled to withdraw your protection from me, I now pity yours. This is not the language of a king; yet know, Sire, that not the whole faction of the Guises, nor all the catholic subjects united, shall ever compel a potter of Saintes to bow the knee to senseless images of wood and stone.'
"The king was so struck with the answer, that he never after mentioned the subject of changing his religion to Palissy; but suffered him, in a short time, to return home to his native town, where he remained in peace to the end of his life. He lived to a great age; never forsaking his business, nor ceasing, in his moments of leisure, to follow his favourite scientific pursuits."
"I am admiring," said Mrs. Spencer, "this figure of Demosthenes addressing the multitude. What energy and spirit there is in his action."
"Yes," replied Mr. Wilmot; "and every thing that relates to such a character, is highly interesting, both because it is intimately connected with the history of the times, and because it is a striking example of the influence of mind over the greatest physical powers. Though he neither wore the insignia of royalty, nor presided as supreme magistrate over a powerful republic, nor commanded fleets and armies; yet, by the mere thunder of his eloquence, he made the mightiest monarchs of his day tremble upon their thrones, and roused the slumbering energies of Greece. He was the son of an opulent Athenian manufacturer.
"The style of oratory that charmed his youthful fancy, was not the mild and flowing eloquence of Isocrates, who was then the most celebrated rhetorician in Athens; but the nervous and impassioned harangues of Isaeus, whose school, as well as that of the philosophical Plato, he constantly attended.
"It is said, that he made the most determined efforts to conquer .some natural defects which seemed very formidable, and gradually acquired a dignified and manly eloquence. For a time he secluded himself almost entirely from society, that he might form his style on the purest models, and induce a habit of chaste and elegant composition. During this period, he transcribed the history of the Peloponnesian wars, by Thucydides, eight times; so desirous was he of acquiring a style of composition similar to that of the justly-admired historian. But this was not the only advantage derived from the study of Thucydides. Whilst employing himself in copying the works of that historian, Demosthenes imbibed his patriotic spirit; his imagination was filled with the former glory of his country; a generous indignation was kindled in his bosom, in comparing the ancient splendour of Athens with its present state of voluntary degradation; and a noble, but perhaps a romantic ambition possessed his soul, to be the instrument of renovating a decayed republic. Animated with these hopes and various prospects, he appeared in the public assembly; and, in his orations against Philip, poured forth such a strain of eloquence, that none of the venal orators of Athens were able to resist.
"The magistrates and common people were borne along by the mighty torrent, ere they were aware: his audience, instead of finding leisure or inclination to admire the splendid corruscations of his genius, found themselves imperceptibly animated by the same patriotic spirit, and roused from their lethargy by the impassioned vehemence of the youthful orator. In those unequalled specimens of ancient eloquence, which have been preserved amid the