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The History of Richard Raynal, Solitary   By: (1871-1914)

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How Sir John visited Master Hermit: and found him in contemplation

Of the Word from God that came to Master Hermit: and of his setting out

How Master Richard fared: how he heard Mass in Saint Pancras' Church: how he came to Westminster: and of his colloquy with the Ankret

How Master Richard saw the King in Westminster Hall: and of the Mass at Saint Edward's Altar

How Master Richard cried out in Westminster Hall: and of his coming to a Privy Parlour

Of Master Richard's speaking with the King's Grace: and how he was taken for it

Of Master Richard's second speaking with his Grace: and of his detention

Of the Parson's Disquisition on the whole matter

How Master Richard took his meat: and of Master Lieutenant's whipping of him

Of the Second Temptation of Master Richard: and how he overcame it

Of the Dark Night of the Soul

How Sir John went again to the cell: and of what he saw there

How one came to Master Priest: how Master Priest came to the King's Bedchamber: and of what he heard of the name of Jesus

Of Sir John's Meditations in Westminster Palace

How Master Richard went to God

Of his Burying


In the winter of 1903 4 I had occasion to pass several months in Rome.

Among other Religious Houses, lately bought back from the Government by their proper owners, was one (whose Order, for selfish reasons, I prefer not to specify), situated in the maze of narrow streets between the Piazza Navona and the Piazza Colonna; this, however, may be said of the Order, that it is one which, although little known in Italy, had several houses in England up to the reign of Henry VIII. Like so many other Orders at that time, its members moved first to France and then to Italy, where it has survived in penurious dignity ever since.

The Religious were able to take with them at the time of exodus, three and a half centuries ago, a part of the small library that existed at the English mother house, and some few of these MSS. have survived to the present day; many others, however, have certainly perished; for in the list of books that I was looking over there one day in March, 1904, I observed several titles, of which, the priest librarian told me, the corresponding volumes have disappeared. To some half dozen of these titles, however, there was appended a star, and on enquiring the meaning of this symbol, I was informed that it denoted that a translation had been made into French and preserved in the library.

One of these titles especially attracted my attention. It ran as follows: VITA ET OBITUS DNI RICARDI RAYNAL HEREMITAE.

Upon my asking to see this and its companions, I was conducted to a dusty shelf in the little upstairs book room, and was informed that I might do as I pleased there for two hours, until the Ave Maria rang, and the doors would be locked.

When the librarian had gone with many nods and smiles, I took down these half dozen books and carried them to the table by the window, and until Ave Maria rang I turned their pages.

The volume whose title had especially attracted my attention was a quarto MS., written, I should suppose from the caligraphy, about the end of the sixteenth century; a later hand had appended a summary to each chapter with an appropriate quotation from a psalm. But the book was in a shocking condition, without binding, and contained no more than a fragment. The last page was numbered "341," and the first page "129." One hundred and twenty eight pages, therefore, were certainly lost at the beginning, and I know not how many at the end; but what was left was sufficiently engrossing to hold me standing by the window, until the wrinkled face of the priest looked in again to inform me that unless I wished to sleep in the library, I must be gone at once... Continue reading book >>

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