Page:Historical Lectures and Addresses.djvu/261

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Seldom was one summoned to a difficult position who showed so few signs of fitness. Driven as a child from England, he had been brought up amongst his mother's folk in Normandy. He was a stranger to England and its ways, but at least he had not been a witness of his father's feebleness or his mother's follies. He had lived amid the sterner and more decided men of Normandy, who had a keener practical capacity than had the English, who knew little of hesitation, but steadfastly pursued their ends. Yet Edward took no part in their busy life, and was not affected by their activity and enterprise. He was attracted apparently by the finer side of their civilisation. Through closer intercourse with the rest of Europe the ecclesiastical life of Normandy was more highly developed than that of England. In those days of perpetual warfare, the most effective form of setting forth the Christian temper was in the form of a protest, that is by monasticism. Men despaired of blending the secular and the religious life. All they could do was to provide an expression for the religious life, away from and apart from the world, that its perpetual protest might at least be of some avail. There were places to which men worn out with active service, wearied with the poverty of the world's guerdon, might retire and pray against evils which they were helpless to amend. The only hope of raising society was in maintaining a strong contrast to its common ways. But it is ever more easy to set up a protest than to keep it to its purpose. The forces of the world are always surging round the barriers erected to restrain them. Monasteries of