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by Charles Kingsley
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St. Paphnutius used to tell a story which may serve as a fit introduction to this book. It contains a miniature sketch, not only of the social state of Egypt, but of the whole Roman Empire, and of the causes which led to the famous monastic movement in the beginning of the fifth century after Christ.
For although St. Epiphanius, bishop of Salamina in Cyprus, who had much intercourse with Hilarion, has written his praise in a short epistle, which is commonly read, yet it is one thing to praise the dead in general phrases, another to relate his special virtues. We therefore set to work rather to his advantage than to his injury; and despise those evil-speakers who lately carped at Paul, and will perhaps now carp at my Hilarion, unjustly blaming the former for his solitary life, and the latter for his intercourse with men; in order that the one, who was never seen, may be supposed not to have existed; the other, who was seen by many, may be held cheap.
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