Such was the death of Abelard, as attested by the most venerated man of that generation. And when we bear in mind the friendship and respect of such a man as Peter, and the exalted love of such a woman as Heloise, it is surely not strange that posterity, and the French nation especially, should embalm his memory in their traditions.
Heloise survived him twenty years,—a priestess of God, a mourner at the tomb of Abelard. And when in the solitude of the Paraclete she felt the approach of the death she had so long invoked, she directed the sisterhood to place her body beside that of her husband in the same leaden coffin. And there, in the silent aisles of that abbey-church, it remained for five hundred years, until it was removed by Lucien Bonaparte to the Museum of French Monuments in Paris, but again transferred, a few years after, to the cemetery of Pere la Chaise. The enthusiasm of the French erected over the remains a beautiful monument; and “there still may be seen, day by day, the statues of the immortal lovers, decked with flowers and coronets, perpetually renewed with invisible hands,—the silent tribute of the heart of that consecrated sentiment which survives all change. Thus do those votive offerings mysteriously convey admiration for the constancy and sympathy with the posthumous union of two hearts who transposed conjugal tenderness from the senses to the soul, who spiritualized the most ardent of human passions, and changed love itself into a holocaust, a martyrdom, and a holy sacrifice.”
Lamartine’s Characters; Berington’s Middle
Ages; Michelet’s History of
France; Life of St. Bernard; French Ecclesiastical Historians; Bayle’s
Critical Dictionary; Biographic Universelle; Pope’s Lines on Abelard and
Heloise; Letters of Abelard and Heloise.
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