The Project Gutenberg eBook of The Catholic World, Vol. 15, Nos. 85-90, April 1872-September 1872

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Title: The Catholic World, Vol. 15, Nos. 85-90, April 1872-September 1872

Author: Various

Release date: April 25, 2015 [eBook #48790]

Language: English

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General Literature and Science.

APRIL, 1872, TO SEPTEMBER, 1872.

9 Warren Street.






VOL. XV., No. 85.—APRIL, 1872.

Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1872, by Rev. I. T. Hecker, in the Office of the Librarian of Congress, at Washington, D. C.


In so far as we may judge from the notices in periodicals and newspapers, this work appears to have been received, both in England and the United States, not only with general favor, but with enthusiastic admiration.

A history of English literature based on a system new to the great body of English readers, and written with freshness, verve, and certain attractive peculiarities of style, could not fail to fix their attention and engage their interest from the beginning to the end of its two bulky octavo volumes. The author of the work in question is so well known in the world of letters by his essays on the philosophy of art that he needs no introduction to our readers.

M. Taine starts out with the assumption that the literature of any given country is the exponent of its mental life, or, as he states it (p. 20), “I am about to write the history of a literature, and to seek in it for the psychology of a people.” In France and Germany, we are told, history has been revolutionized by the study of their literatures.

“It was perceived,” says M. Taine, “that a work of literature is not a mere play of imagination, a solitary caprice of a heated brain, but a transcript of contemporary manners, a type of a certain kind of mind. It was concluded that one might retrace, from the monuments of literature, the style of man’s feelings and thoughts for centuries back. The attempt was made, and it succeeded.”

Unquestionably the style of man’s feelings may be traced in literature for centuries back. That is M. Taine’s first approach. But between the successful insight into this or that writer’s opinions and modes of thought and the opinions and modes of thought of a nation, the void is so enormous—unless, indeed, we dangerously reason from particulars to generals—as to require to fill it more subjective literary productions than any country has ever yet produced.

From this system it would follow[2] that if a nation has no literature it can have no history. If it have—as is too often the case—no literature but that of a despotism or of a dominant minority, it follows that you cannot discern a single idea nor hear a single pulsation of the heart of a great people. But granting the literature to exist, although we are told that a work “is not a mere play of the imagination,” we nevertheless know full well that some of the most brilliant portions of every literature are precisely what that phrase describes. Beyond that, we also know that all writers are not only not sincere, but too often unfaithful because too often venal, and cannot therefore be relied upon.

In certain writings enumerated by him, M. Taine says: “The reader will see all the wealth that may be drawn from a literary work: when the work is rich, and one knows how to interpret it, we find there the psychology of a soul, frequently of an age, now and then of a race.” Partially true. And M. Taine might have instanced the Confessions of St. Augustine, but he does not. We may indeed find what he indicates under certain conditions, for, as he very correctly adds, “their utility grows with their perfection.” Unfortunately, such works occur in literature at the rarest intervals.

It cannot be questioned that M. Taine’s theory contains a germ of truth. But, in fact, so far as it is true it is a very old story. What is true in his theory is not new, and what is new is questionable. Since history has risen to be something more and something better than a mere roll of warriors and a correct list of kings and queens—which latter class of good people are fast disappearing, never again, we trust, to return—since the historian has been elevated from the rank of a mere annalist to be the interpreter to his own age of not only the acts and sufferings, but the mind and the heart of dead generations, he has become avid of the most trifling details concerning their transitory passage here on earth. He desires to discover and relate how they lived, slept, and ate—how they talked, toiled, and travelled—what they said, what they thought—what, in a word, was their social and psychological life. To obtain the knowledge he seeks, all sources are equally valuable—written manuscripts that speak as well as stone ruins that are dumb.

Such knowledge as this the new school of German historians, having first exhausted all literary material, have sought to gather from the most remote and even repulsive sources; and from philological analysis, from works of art, from monuments, old roads, half-corroded coins, almost obliterated inscriptions, broken pottery, partially effaced frescoes, and from the very fragments of mere kitchen utensils, they have created afresh and revealed to us, in all its details, the daily and familiar life of ancient Rome, and poured a flood of light upon the living man of the that day.

And yet, before the results of their archæological and ethnological labors were given to the world, we thought we knew our Roman well and familiarly. For what literature, unless it be that of Greece, presents so rich and so complete a portrait gallery of all the types of its people as the literature of Rome? From Virgil, who gives us the ploughman and vinedresser, and Cæsar, through whose pages marches the Roman soldier, to Livy, Sallust, Tacitus, Juvenal, and Horace, we have a score of writers in whose pages all the virtues and vices, the grandeur and the shame, the nobility and the grovelling sensuality, of Rome are spread before us[3] in language so attractive and so grand as to promise to outlast many modern masterpieces.

M. Taine sneers at “Latin literature as worth nothing at the outset,” being “borrowed and imitative.” To this we reply, Adhuc sub judice, etc., and, bad or not, it tells the story of the Roman people, and very nearly reveals to us the ancient Roman as he walked on earth.

We have no such faithful picture of the English people in English literature.

We fear that M. Taine mistakes a part for the whole. Unquestionably, literature has its uses, and high ones, for the elucidation of many a problem and the illumination of many a page of history; but, if we set out to find the history of a nation in its literature, outside of history proper and the new aids to historical research we have referred to, we merely adopt a deceptive guide that can lead us only to disappointment. For these grand theories, so symmetrical and so plausible, when presented by their generally eloquent framers, stand, when put into actual service, very little wear and tear. Accordingly, we find that there happens to M. Taine precisely what happens to every man who starts out to construct a work strictly according to a given system. And what thus happens is a serious matter. This it is. Facts are treated as of secondary importance. They are put upon their best behavior. They must show themselves up to a certain standard, or they are counted as worthless. If they are so wrong-headed as to come in conflict with the author’s theory—the old story—why, so much the worse for the facts, and our theorist ruthlessly tramples upon and walks over them straight to his objective point, which is, necessarily, his foregone conclusion.

It would detain us too long to present an analysis of M. Taine’s introduction, from which alone it would not be difficult to demonstrate the insufficiency of his theory. It contains passages which, in the stately march of his eloquent phrase, seem to sound as though they announced newly discovered truths of startling import, but which, translated into familiar language, turn out to be but little more than the text-book enunciation of some familiar principle. Thus:

“When you have observed and noted in man one, two, three, then a multitude of sensations, does this suffice, or does your knowledge appear complete? Is a book of observation a psychology? It is no psychology, and here as elsewhere the search for causes must come after the collection of facts. No matter if the facts be physical or moral, they all have their causes; there is a cause for ambition, for courage, for truth, as there is for digestion, for muscular movement, for animal heat. Vice and virtue are products, like vitriol and sugar, and every complex phenomenon has its springs from other more simple phenomena on which it hangs.”

M. Taine, it is evident, cannot be charged with sparing his readers either the enunciation or the elucidation of first principles.

The author commences by disposing of the Anglo-Saxons, their literature, and six centuries of their annals, in a short chapter of twenty-three pages, which, so far as our observation has extended, has been passed over both by English and American criticism almost without remark. Some reviewers account for its conciseness by saying that Anglo-Saxon literature has but little interest for the general reader, except as a question of philology. As of general application, the remark is not widely incorrect, but it is signally out of place with reference to M. Taine’s work,[4] for he announces as part of his task that of “developing the recondite mechanism whereby the Saxon barbarian has been transformed into the Englishman of to-day.”

Now, fairly to understand the Englishman of to-day, we must, by M. Taine’s own announcement, have the Saxon original placed before us; for, he says, “the modern Englishman existed entire in this Saxon” (p. 31). The Saxon must be produced to our sight, and we must have him evolved strictly on M. Taine’s principles, viz., as the psychological product of his literature. If this is done, he will fulfil his engagement of “developing the recondite mechanism,” etc., or, in other words, of presenting us a full exposition of Anglo-Saxon literature.

We feel bound to say that none of these promises are kept, and none of these results are reached, by M. Taine; nay, more, that he not only totally fails in presenting a fair or even intelligible abstract of Anglo-Saxon literature, but that he appears to be wanting in the necessary information which might enable him to do it. We think it less derogatory to him to say that his knowledge of the subject is defective than to make the necessarily alternative charge.

We find, however, some excuse for M. Taine’s limited acquirements in Anglo-Saxon literature in the fact that he appears to have relied to a great extent on Warton and on Sharon Turner. Dr. Warton’s well-known history of English poetry is unquestionably a work of great merit and utility, in so far as it treats of English poetry from the period of Chaucer down, but as authority on any matter connected with Anglo-Saxon literature, it is next to worthless. Warton knew very little about it. Sharon Turner as authority on Anglo-Saxon history, and Sharon Turner as authority on Anglo-Saxon literature, are two very different persons. The knowledge of Anglo-Saxon literature has made great strides since his day. For his history he was not dependent on Anglo-Saxon documents. Latin material was abundant.

It must be borne in mind that, although the English tongue is so directly derived from it, Anglo-Saxon is, nevertheless, a dead language, and when, in the sixteenth century, its study was to some extent revived, it had not only been dead four hundred years, but buried and forgotten. That revival occurred at a time when religious controversy ran high in England, the motive prompting it being to discover testimony among Anglo-Saxon ecclesiastical MSS. as to the existence of an English Catholic Church separate from and independent of Papal authority. Thus far the search has not been attended with any marked success. In the seventeenth century, Anglo-Saxon was studied for the light it threw on the early history and legislation of England. Since the commencement of the present century, the study has been pursued with greater success than ever for objects purely literary and philological. Indeed, it may be said that, until within some forty years, the cultivation of Anglo-Saxon was confined to a very small circle of scholars.

The most remarkable monuments of its literature are of comparatively recent publication, and there happened at the outset to the study of Anglo-Saxon precisely what happened to the study of Sanskrit. It was that many scholars, aware of its literary wealth, and, possibly, in possession of copies of some of its productions, were without adequate means of pursuing or even of commencing their studies on account of the want of dictionaries and grammars. It[5] was for this reason that Frederick Schlegel, before writing his great work on The Language and Wisdom of the Indians, was obliged to leave Germany and go to England, in order to avail himself of the resources of the British Museum; and when we consider the difficulties under which Dr. Lingard made his Anglo-Saxon studies, and wrote his Antiquities of the Anglo-Saxon Church, of which work M. Taine does not appear to have heard, we are more than ever surprised at the ability displayed by the great English historian.

When we undertake to trace the gradual development of the Anglo-Saxon of Anno 500 into the Englishman of 1800, the first phase is immeasurably the most interesting and the most important, for in that phase he was at once civilized and christianized. Take away the introduction and development of Christianity from Anglo-Saxon history, and you have left nothing but a list of kings and two or three battles. Now, M. Taine’s exposition of how, when, and through what agencies civilization and Christianity were brought into England may be descriptively characterized as “how not to do it.” His great effort in his introductory chapter is to eliminate Christianity from Anglo-Saxon history, and to give us, as it were, the play of Hamlet with the part of Hamlet omitted—an effort so systematic and persistent as to make us almost regret our volunteered plea for his excuse on the ground of want of familiarity with his subject. Here is his device to escape the necessity of relating the all essential story of the conversion to Christianity: “A race so constituted was predisposed to Christianity by its gloom, its aversion to sensual and reckless living, its inclination for the serious and sublime.” M. Taine has just described (pp. 41-43) the leading characteristics of the pagan Anglo-Saxon mind as manifested in its poetry—“a race so constituted”—and cites in support of his exposition two passages translated from what he asserts to be pagan Anglo-Saxon poetry. The first, Battle of Finsborough, we know was found on the cover of a ms. book of homilies, written by some monk, although it may, perhaps, be of pagan origin. The second, and more important one, The Battle of Brunanburh, containing the line, “The sun on high, the great star, God’s brilliant candle, the noble creature”[2] (p. 43), is Christian and monkish beyond all peradventure, for it forms a portion of the Saxon Chronicle, begun as late as the days of Alfred. The battle was fought in the year 939!

We continue: “Its aversion to sensual and reckless living.” This is simply astounding when we remember that M. Taine has just been telling us, through twenty pages, of their “ravenous stomachs filled with meat and cheese, heated by strong drinks,” “prone to brutal drunkenness,” becoming “more gluttonous, carving their hogs, filling themselves with flesh; swallowing all the strong, coarse drinks which they could procure,” etc.

And then follows the far more surprising psychological result: “These utter barbarians embrace Christianity straightway, through sheer force of mood and clime” (p. 44).

Now, M. Taine knows—as we all know—that these pagan Anglo-Saxons were brutal and sensual to the last degree. In personal indulgence, they[6] were what he describes and more. They were pirates, robbers, and murderers.

The rewards promised them by their gods after death were that they should have nothing to do but eat and drink. Even the paganism of their Scandinavian and Teutonic forefathers, a mixture of massacre and sensuality, was corrupted by them, and the emblems of their bloody and obscene gods were naked swords and hammers, with which they broke the heads of their victims. The immortality promised them in their Walhalla was a long continuance of new days of slaughter, and nights of debauch spent in drinking from their enemies’ skulls. Such was the race found by M. Taine so constituted as to be “predisposed to Christianity by its gloom, its aversion to sensual and reckless living”; such the people who “through sheer force of mood and clime” laid aside their cruelty, brutality, carnage, and sensuality, gave up feasting for fasting, proud independence for obedience, indulgence for self-denial! Truly remarkable effects of atmosphere. The climate of England must have greatly changed since the year 597.

In the course of a debate which once arose in the British House of Commons on the subject of negro emancipation, it was urged against the measure that you could not civilize the negro; he belonged to an inferior race which offered human sacrifices and sold their own children into slavery. Whereupon, a member promptly replied that was just what our ancestors in England did—they offered human sacrifices and sold their children into slavery. This will naturally recall to the reader’s mind the touching incident which led to the conversion of the Anglo-Saxons, the fair-haired and blue-eyed children offered for sale, and their redemption by the great Gregory, who said they were not only Angles, but angels. From that moment the mission to England was resolved upon. We all know the story. Gregory’s departure, his capture by the citizens of Rome and forcible return, his elevation to the pontifical throne, the departure of St. Augustine and his forty companions, their trials, sufferings, and danger of death on the route, their arrival in England, their labors, the gradual and peaceful conversion of the people, their successful efforts in bringing the Saviour, his Gospel, and his church to benighted heathens, and their civilization and social amelioration of the Anglo-Saxons. To the immortal glory of these men be it said that neither violence nor persecution was resorted to by them, their disciples, or their protectors for the triumph of civilization and religion. It is one of the grandest Christian victories on record. Of all this, here is M. Taine’s record:

“Roman missionaries bearing a silver cross with a picture of Christ came in procession, chanting a litany. Presently the high priest of the Northumbrians declared, in presence of the nobles, that the old gods were powerless, and confessed that formerly ‘he knew nothing of that which he adored;’ and he among the first, lance in hand, assisted to demolish their temple. At his side a chief rose in the assembly, and said:

“You remember, O king, what sometimes happens in winter when you are at supper with your earls and thanes, while the good fire burns within, and it rains and the wind howls without. A sparrow enters at one door, and flies out quickly at the other. During that rapid passage and pleasant moment it disappears, and from winter returns to winter again. Such seems to me to be the life of man, and his career but a brief moment between that which goes before and that which follows after, and of which we know nothing. If, then, the new doctrine can[7] teach us something certain, it deserves to be followed.”[3]

The Protestant historian, Sharon Turner, says of the conversion of the Anglo-Saxons: “It was accomplished in a manner worthy of the benevolence and purity [of the Christian religion]. Genuine piety seems to have led the first missionaries to our shores. Their zeal, their perseverance, and the excellence of the system they diffused made their labors successful.” He gives a detailed narrative of the action of Gregory the Great, of the devotion and self-sacrifice of St. Augustine and his companions, of their long and perilous journey, their landing in England, and, in describing their procession on the Isle of Thanet, writes: “With a silver cross and a picture of Christ, they advanced singing the litany.” M. Taine, with a stroke of the pen, copies this line almost word for word, and makes it do duty for a full and detailed account of the labors of St. Augustine and his forty companions for two score years!

What period of time the word presently represents to M. Taine we do not know. It may be an hour, or a day, or a month, but the incident which he refers to as occurring “presently” took place about forty years after the “procession.”

And now it is sought to belittle or decry the victory of the Christian missionaries in two ways: 1st. It was the most natural thing in the world for the brutal, bloody, slave-dealing, drunken barbarian to embrace the new religion, because his paganism so strongly resembled Christianity. 2d. But after conversion they remained, after all, substantially, barbarous pagans as before, and their songs remind M. Taine of “the songs of the servants of Odin, tonsured and clad in the garments of monks.” “The Christian hymns embody the pagan” (p. 46).

To demonstrate this, and to show that the songs of these converted Saxons are “but a concrete of exclamations,” have “no development,” and are nothing but paganism after all, M. Taine gives five prose lines of imperfect translation from a poem by Cædmon. Here is a correct rendering of the opening of the poem in the original metre. Let the reader judge of the amount of pagan inspiration it contains:

“Now must we glorify
The guardian of heaven’s kingdom,
The Maker’s might,
And his mind’s thought,
The work of the worshipped father,
When of his wonders, each one,
The ever-living Lord
Ordered the origin,
He erst created
For earth’s children
Heaven as a high roof,
The holy Creator:
Then on this mid-world
Did man’s great guardian,
The ever-living Lord,
Afterward prepare
For men a mansion,
The Master Almighty.”[4]

M. Taine continues:


“One of them” [those servants of Odin, take notice], “Adhelm, stood on a bridge leading to the town where he lived, and repeated warlike and profane odes alternately with religious poetry, in order to attract and instruct the men of his time. He could do it without changing his key. In one of them, a funeral song, Death speaks. It was one of the last Saxon compositions, containing a terrible Christianity, which seems at the same time to have sprung from the blackest depths of the Edda.”

M. Taine has here given rein to his imagination, and made terrible work with Saxon chronology and other matters. For Adhelm read Aldhelm, in Saxon Ealdhelm, so King Alfred spelt it. The name signifies Old Helmet; Aldhelm was of princely extraction. “Warlike and profane odes” does not correctly translate “carmen triviale.” Aldhelm was a learned priest, a Greek, Latin, and Hebrew scholar, with a profound knowledge of the Holy Scriptures. His present reputation rests on his Latin works. His contemporary reputation was founded on his Anglo-Saxon productions. He composed canticles and ballads in his native tongue, and, remarking the haste of many of the Anglo-Saxon peasants to leave church as soon as the Sunday Mass was over, in order to avoid the sermon, he would lie in wait for them at the bridge or wayside, and, singing to them as a bard, attract their attention, and in the fascination of a musical verse teach them the truths of religion they would not wait to hear from the pulpit. It was not for the pleasure of singing that Aldhelm thus labored: it was to save souls. Without the slightest authority, M. Taine puts in his mouth this beautiful Anglo-Saxon fragment:

“Death speaks to man: ’For thee was a house built ere thou wast born; for thee was a mould shapen ere thou camest of thy mother. Its height is not determined, nor its depth measured, nor is it closed up (however long it may be) until I bring thee where thou shalt remain, until I shall measure thee and the sod of earth. Thy house is not highly built, it is unhigh and low; when thou art in it the heelways are low, the sideways low. The roof is built full nigh thy breast; so thou shalt dwell in earth full cold, dim, and dark. Doorless is that house, and dark it is within; there thou art fast prisoner, and Death holds the key. Loathly is that earth-house, and grim to dwell in; there thou shalt dwell, and worms shall share thee. Thus thou art laid, and leavest thy friends; thou hast no friend that will come to thee, who will ever inquire how that house liketh thee, who shall ever open the door for thee, and seek thee, for soon thou becomest loathly and hateful to look upon.’”

The composition is not by Aldhelm, who, probably, never heard of it. All of Aldhelm’s Anglo-Saxon mss. perished when the magnificent monastery at Malmesbury was sacked under Henry VIII. The Protestant historian, Maitland, thus tells the story: “The precious mss. of his [Aldhelm’s] library were long employed to fill up broken windows in the neighboring houses, or to light the bakers’ fires.”

All that we know of The Grave is that it was found written in the margin of a volume of Anglo-Saxon homilies, preserved in the Bodleian Library. It is of a period following Aldhelm’s era, and is in the dialect of East Anglia, while Aldhelm was of Wessex. But M. Taine himself demonstrates that it could not be Aldhelm’s. At page 50, he tells us Aldhelm died in 709, having previously stated (p. 46) that the fragment “was one of the last Anglo-Saxon compositions.” But among the finest Anglo-Saxon poetical compositions are the celebrated Ormulum, and various poems by Layamon, which were written about the year 1225. The Grave, moreover, so far from containing[9] “a terrible Christianity,” has so essentially the tone and spirit of many well-known Catholic meditations on death, that it might have been written in a Spanish monastery or taken from a book of Christian devotions.

Of course, “the poor monks” can do nothing creditable in M. Taine’s eyes, and he comes to sad grief in undertaking to go, by specification, beyond the common counts of the ordinary declaration dictated by bigotry. At page 53, vol. i., he thus refers in contemptuous terms to the monks who compiled the Saxon Chronicle:

“They spun out awkwardly and heavily dry chronicles, a sort of historical almanacs. You might think them peasants, who, returning from their toil, came and scribbled with chalk on a smoky table the date of a year of scarcity, the price of corn, the changes in the weather, a death.”

And here a word as to this Chronicle, which is a national history generally conceded to have been established by King Alfred, under the advice of his counsellor Pflegmund, Archbishop of Canterbury, about 870 A.D. It begins with a brief account of Britain from Cæsar’s invasion, and becomes very full in its narrative after the year 853.

The Chronicle shares with Bede’s history the highest place among authorities for early English history. Seven original copies of it are still in existence, and, making due allowance for the ravages of time and the elements, and the destruction by war, demolition of the monasteries, theft, spoliation, and the wilful mischief of religious bigotry, the survival of these seven copies would go far to prove the former existence of several hundreds. The copies yet extant are all evidently based upon a single original text, and it is presumed that the Chronicle was continued at all the monasteries in England, each one forwarding its local annals to some one special monastery, where a brief summary was compiled of the whole, copies of which were supplied to all the religious houses, to be incorporated with the general Chronicle, thus keeping up from year to year the general history of the nation. M. Taine gives some half-dozen dry-as-dust extracts from the Chronicle of this nature:

“902. This year there was the great fight at the Holme, between the men of Kent and the Danes.

He adds:

“It is thus the poor monks speak, with monotonous dryness, who after Alfred’s time gather up and take notes of great visible events; sparsely scattered we find a few moral reflections, a passionate emotion, nothing more” (vol. i. p. 53).

But at page 42, M. Taine has given us as belonging to a period preceding Christianity in England, as a part of “the pagan current,” an extract from the song on Athelstan’s victory, of which he speaks in terms of enthusiastic admiration. “If there has ever been anywhere a deep and serious poetic sentiment, it is here,” etc. Now, this song, under the date of A.D. 937, is a part of the Saxon Chronicle, written by some poor monk “after Alfred’s time.”

“This year King Athelstane, the Lord of Earls,
Ring-giver to the warriors, Edmund too
His brother, won in fight with edge of swords
Lifelong renown at Brunanburh. The sons
Of Edward clave with the forged steel the wall
Of linden shields. The spirit of their sires
Made them defenders of the land, its wealth,
Its homes, in many a fight with many a foe.”[5]

“It is thus the monks speak with monotonous dryness”! And so speak they often in their Chronicle. The death of Byrhtnoth referred to by M. Taine in note 2, p. 36, is also[10] from the Saxon Chronicle, and Mr. Morley specifies numerous other poetical passages in it. Nevertheless, we find that M. Taine is not at all embarrassed by his somewhat uncertain and limited command of Anglo-Saxon literature. On the contrary, he qualifies as amusing (p. 30) a discussion on a point of Anglo-Saxon history by two such distinguished scholars as Dr. Lingard and Sharon Turner! These historians “amuse” M. Taine!

“What is your first remark,” asks Mr. Taine, “in turning over the great, stiff leaves of a folio, the yellow sheets of a manuscript? This, you say, was not created alone. It is but a mould, like a fossil shell, an imprint, like one of those shapes embossed in stone by an animal which lived and perished. Under the stone there was an animal, and behind the document there was a man. Why do you study the shell, except to represent to yourself the animal? So do you study the document only in order to know the man” (Introduction, p. 1).

In this we almost agree with our author. It is well to study shells, and well to study men in the shells of leaves, sheets, manuscripts, or other literary exuviæ they may have left. Our objection to M. Taine is that he has piles and heaps of such shells, which he resolutely refuses to study, behind which he persistently refuses to look. The trouble with him lies here. Behind every shell is a monk, a priest, or a bishop, whose piety and whose virtues are not subjects of agreeable contemplation to a writer who announces his belief that religion is a mere human invention; that man makes a religion as he paints a portrait or constructs a steam-engine. Thus M. Taine states it: “Let us take first the three chief works of human intelligence—religion, art, philosophy” (p. 15).

Accordingly, of the great minds of Anglo-Saxon England during whole centuries we see nothing in M. Taine’s pages. They are carefully kept out of sight. One of the most majestic figures in all literary history, that of the Venerable Bede, is absent from his chapters, being referred to only twice by name, once as “Bede, their old poet”! The learned Aldhelm is made a mere gleeman on the highway. Roger Bacon’s name is not mentioned—the name of the man who was a prodigy of learning, and who announced the principles of the inductive system nearly four hundred years before Lord Verulam appropriated the glory of its discovery.[6] Augustine, Paulinus, Wilfred, Cuthbert, and scores of others are not referred to. These men and their companions were at once monks, preachers, schoolmasters, book-makers, scribes, authors, physicians, architects, builders, surveyors, and farmers. Laborare est orare, Labor is prayer, was their device. Barren moors, repulsive marshes, fever-bearing fens, and wasted tracts they cultivated, and made glad fields of gloomy swamps.

The sandy plains and barren heaths of Northumbria, and the marshes of East Anglia and Mercia, the monks transformed by intelligent labor and enduring toil from uninhabited deserts into rich fields yielding abundant harvests. Around these isolated monasteries soon sprang up, as around so many centres of life, schools, workshops, and settlements. The wilderness blossomed. And the monks wrote Christianity and civilization on the hearts of the people and on the soil of England. Not to mention the grand literary monuments dedicated to the record of their pious labors by Count Montalembert[11] in his Monks of the West, all these victories for humanity are clearly discernible to scores of modern Protestant writers, who have borne eloquent testimony to the noble devotion and glorious services of these holy men, whose real merits have been too long obscured by the historical conspiracy against truth. They have looked behind shells and manuscripts, and found something to reward their search.

Thus Carlyle finds a man behind the old MS. of Jocelin of Brakelond:

“A personable man of seven-and-forty, stout made, stands erect as a pillar; with bushy eyebrows, the face of him beaming into you in a really strange way: the name of him Samson: a man worth looking at.... He was wont to preach to the people in the English tongue, though according to the dialect of Norfolk, where he had been brought up. There preached he: a man worth going to hear.... Abbot Samson built many useful, many pious edifices; human dwellings, churches, steeples, barns;—all fallen now and vanished, but useful while they stood. He built and endowed ‘the Hospital of Babwell’; built ‘fit houses for the St. Edmunsbury schools.’ ... And yet these grim old walls are not a dilettantism and dubiety; they are an earnest fact. It was a most real and serious purpose they were built for? Yes, another world it was, when these black ruins, white in their new mortar and fresh chiselling, first saw the sun as walls, long ago. Gauge not, with thy dilettante compasses, with that placid dilettante simper, the Heaven’s-Watchtower of our Fathers, the fallen God’s Houses, the Golgotha of true Souls departed”!

With the advantage of eleven hundred years of accumulated knowledge in his favor, the cultivated M. Taine can well afford to sneer at “a kind of literature” with which he credits these monks. The “kind of literature” they most affected, and in which they unceasingly labored, was the kind known as “the Scriptures.” Of a verity, strange occupation for “sons of Odin,” for the most meagre summary of Anglo-Saxon, monastic labor in this field is a magnificent memorial of their imperishable glory.

In default of types and power-presses, volumes of the Scriptures were multiplied by copying, and every talent and gift of man was enlisted to preserve, beautify, and bring them within the reach and comprehension of the great body of the people. Its light was not hidden in the obscurity of an unfamiliar tongue. In the fourth century, on the banks of the Danube, Ulphilas had translated the entire Scriptures into the then barbarous Mœso-Gothic. In England, Cædmon had sung the Scripture story of God’s power and mercy, and put into verse all of Genesis and Exodus, with other portions of the Old Testament, besides the life and passion of our Lord and the Acts of the Apostles. The Venerable Bede had translated St. John’s Gospel, and written numerous expositions of the Old and New Testaments. Aldhelm had translated the Psalms. The entire four Gospels have come down to us in the Anglo-Saxon of King Alfred’s day. Ælfric translated the whole of the Pentateuch and the Book of Job. The Normans in England had various translations besides their metrical romance, and a verse translation of the Bible. In 1327, William of Shoreham translated the Psalter into English. A few years later, Richard Rolle translated the Psalms and part of the Book of Job into the dialect of Northumberland. The four Gospels issued in 1571 by Parker, with a dedication to Queen Elizabeth by Foxe, the martyrologist, are copied from two Anglo-Saxon versions of the tenth and eleventh centuries. From the original copy, Tha Halgan Godspel on Englisc, they appear to have been divided and arranged[12] for reading aloud to the people. Many of these, it will be noticed, are versions adorned and heightened by literary labor and poetic inspiration. Plain prose Bible translations existed in large numbers, which, as being more exposed, were the first to perish from the effects of time, the elements, and the wilful destruction of bigotry. The metrical versions were generally better bound and better cared for in special libraries, and in the hands of the wealthy. And yet of these how few copies survive! And who shall tell us of scores of hundreds more of which we have never heard? An immense body of Anglo-Saxon Scriptural literature has perished and left no trace.

But M. Taine, it may be objected, was surely under no obligation to write the history of your Anglo-Saxon monks! Certainly not. But he was under some sort of obligation not to represent the product of Christianity, viz., the Anglo-Saxon man, as the product of pure paganism. That he has done so, we have shown from the remarkable manner in which he has spoken of the products of Anglo-Saxon literature, and we have not taken into account the full and rich material at command, written in the Latin language by the Anglo-Saxons.

When we get further on in M. Taine’s work, we find in his fifth chapter, book the second, a yet more flagrant violation of his promise to show us the Englishman as the psychological product of his literature, and to “develop the recondite mechanism whereby the Saxon barbarian has been transformed into the Englishman of to-day.” Does he present to us the nature of the English Reformation as evolved from the writings of Englishmen of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries? Not at all. It would not be pleasant to show that, as politics was the leverage of the Reformation in Germany, plunder was the leverage in England, and he candidly admits, in phrase of studied delicacy (p. 362), that “the Reformation entered England by a side door.”

And so he travels all the way to Germany, and gives us, instead of English opinion and English mind, the echoes of Martin Luther’s “bellowing in bad Latin,”[7] and passages from his beery, boozy Table-Talk, bolstered up with extracts from a modern history of England by the late Mr. Froude. No study of shells and animals and manuscripts here. No elaborate development of recondite mechanism!

But we have scarcely space left for a few remarks we desire to make concerning


And, at the outset, we do not agree with those critics who ascribe M. Taine’s utterly fantastic and distorted appreciation of Shakespeare to the general incapacity of the Gallic mind to grasp the great dramatist. We find something more than this. We discover a labored effort at depreciation, negatively, positively, and by comparison. Of Shakespeare the man, the careful student must admit that we know very little—almost nothing, indeed. Hence the sharpened avidity of his biographers to seize upon every floating piece of gossip, every stray tradition concerning him, whereof to make history. With aid of such loose and unreliable material, M. Taine makes of Shakespeare a man of licentious morals and loose habits.

Our author’s æsthetic starting-point renders simply impossible for him any[13] fair appreciation of the great English poet. Corneille and Racine are his models in tragedy—Molière in comedy. To them and to their productions he subordinates Shakespeare at every step. Listen!

“If [a poet] is a logician, a moralist, an orator, as, for instance, one of the French great tragic poets (Racine), he will only represent noble manners; he will avoid low characters; he will have a horror of valets and the plebs; he will observe the greatest decorum in respect of the strongest outbreaks of passion; he will reject as scandalous every low or indecent word; he will give us reason, loftiness, good taste throughout; he will suppress the familiarity, childishness,” etc.... “Shakespeare does just the contrary, because his genius is the exact opposite” (vol. i. p. 311).

At page 326, we are told: “If, in fact, Shakespeare comes across a heroic character worthy of Corneille, a Roman, such as the mother of Coriolanus, he will explain by passion[8] what Corneille would have explained by heroism.” “Reason,” M. Taine further informs us, “tells us that our manners should be measured; this is why the manners which Shakespeare paints are not so.” Again, “Shakespeare paints us as we are; his heroes bow, ask people for news, speak of rain and fine weather,” etc. (p. 312). As M. Taine finds that Shakespeare’s heroes bow, we should like to know his opinion of the exordium of the grand rhetorical effort which Corneille puts in the mouth of the master of the world, Cæsar Augustus:

Prends un siège, Cinna.[9]

It cannot in reason be expected that the man who admires the stiff and frigid artificiality of French tragedy should reach any clear perception of Shakespeare. Nor can we expect the appreciator of Shakespeare to find any superiority in Corneille and Racine. A distinguished German scholar (Grimm) admirably expresses the general German and English estimate of these French poets in a letter he addressed to Michelet: “Must I tell you the opinion commonly expressed among us here in Germany? With the greatest possible amount of good-will, I have again and again opened Racine, Corneille, and Boileau, and I fully appreciate their superior talents; but I cannot read them for any length of time [mais je ne puis en soutenir la lecture], so strong upon me is the impression that a portion of the most profound sentiments awakened by poetry are a sealed book for these authors.”

A French writer so able and so thoroughly skilled as M. Taine, is at home in persiflage, and throughout his work he freely indulges in it at the expense of “those excellent English.” From the moment the Norman sets his foot in England, he is the Englishman’s superior. With the Norman came in education and intelligence. These poor Anglo-Saxons appear to have been their inferiors. Wherever opportunity occurs, English models suffer in comparison with French throughout the work, which closes with an extravagant rhapsody on Alfred de Musset, and this line: “I prefer Alfred de Musset to Tennyson.”

Many scholars of high acquirements, admirers of Shakespeare, having exhausted with praise the catalogue of Shakespeare’s serious and solid qualities, find that his pre-eminent superiority lies in wit and humor—the wit bright and sparkling, the humor[14] kindly and genial, more akin to wisdom than to wit, and, indeed, in itself a particular form of wisdom, so that it might almost be said that his fools give us more wisdom than the philosophers of ordinary dramatists. M. Taine is of a diametrically opposite opinion. Here it is: “The mechanical imagination produces Shakespeare’s fool-characters: a quick, venturesome, dazzling, unquiet imagination produces his men of wit.”

Would you know what is true wit? You may learn from page 320, vol. i.:

“Of wit, there are many kinds. One, altogether French, which is but reason, a foe to paradox, scorner of folly, a sort of incisive common sense, having no occupation but to render truth amusing and evident, the most effective weapon with an intelligent and vain people: such was the wit of Voltaire and the drawing-rooms.”

The conclusion is thus forced upon us that this is by no means the wit of Shakespeare. M. Taine falls into a mistake common to many persons who understand Shakespeare but imperfectly. It is that of attributing to him a certain style: “Let us, then, look for the man, and in his style. The style explains the work.” Ordinary writers have a style easily recognizable after slight study, but Shakespeare has fifty styles, certainly at least one for every character of marked individualism. This is not M. Taine’s view, for he says: “Shakespeare’s style is a compound of furious expressions. No man has submitted words to such a contortion. Mingled contrasts, raving exaggerations, apostrophes, exclamations, the whole fury of the ode, inversion of ideas, accumulation of images, the horrible and the divine jumbled into the same line; it seems, to my fancy, as though he never writes a word without shouting it” (p. 308).

If there is one peculiarity or merit of Shakespeare which, more than another, has received the general assent of critics and scholars, it is his eminently objective power. It is looked upon as a striking proof of the great dramatist’s deep, clear insight into the depths of the human heart, that he never thrusts his individuality into his conception of characters. He never mistakes the operations of his own mind for those of others, and never confounds his personality with that of any of his dramatic personages. Every page of Milton’s writings, it is said, exhibits a full-length portrait of the author. Byron’s heroes, Lara, Conrad, Manfred, and the rest, might interchange reflections and speeches, and not seriously interfere with each other’s identity, and the sentimental rubbish and trashy sophistry poured out from the mouths of any of Bulwer’s men and women might answer for all of them. But nothing that Romeo says could by possibility enter the mind of Hamlet, and King Lear has not a line which would be fitting in the mouth of Othello.

But M. Taine is not of this way of thinking. His theory is diametrically opposed to this, and he finds Shakespeare eminently subjective. He is always Shakespeare. “These characters are all of the same family. Good or bad, gross or delicate, refined or awkward, Shakespeare gives them all the same kind of spirit which is his own” (p. 317). Hamlet is Shakespeare, the melancholy Jaques[10] is Shakespeare, Othello is Shakespeare, and—Falstaff is Shakespeare!

No, we do not exaggerate. Here are M. Taine’s words:[15] “Hamlet, it will be said, is half-mad; this explains his vehemence of expression. The truth is that Hamlet here is Shakespeare” (p. 308). “Hamlet is Shakespeare, and, at the close of this gallery of portraits, which have all some features of his own, Shakespeare has painted himself in the most striking of all” (p. 340).

Things equal to the same are equal to each other. Lara being George Gordon Noel Byron, and Conrad also being the same George, we see at once why there exists a striking resemblance between them; but when we are told that Hamlet and Falstaff, morally as far apart as the poles, are yet painted from the same model, we find that too much is asked of our credulity. Of Falstaff M. Taine says: “This big, pot-bellied fellow, a coward, a jester, a brawler, a drunkard, a lewd rascal, a pot-house poet, is one of Shakespeare’s favorites. The reason is that his manners are those of pure nature, and Shakespeare’s mind is congenial with his own” (p. 323). Wherein this “drunkard and lewd rascal” resembles Prince Hamlet, and wherein Shakespeare resembles either or both of them, is beyond the range of any Anglo-Saxon or Teutonic mind to comprehend. Perhaps M. Taine may be able to explain it. His book totally fails to do so.

No one can read this long chapter of fifty-five octavo pages on Shakespeare without being struck by the skill with which the author avoids mention of or reference to the dramatist’s most admirable passages, and also by his elaborate and painstaking exposition of the defects of Shakespeare’s inferior characters. Of the beauties of Romeo and Juliet—the Queen Mab description alone excepted—we hear nothing, but are regaled with two pages concerning “the most complete of all these characters—the nurse,” and a long and severe commentary on her “never-ending gossip’s babble.”[11] The same remark may be made of Hamlet, a play of which M. Taine evidently has no comprehension, if Coleridge, Hazlitt, Lamb, Ulrici, Tieck, Goethe, and Schlegel at all understand it. Concerning Othello, many paragraphs are frittered away in small criticism on the characters of Iago and Cassio. Of the grand features of Othello the reader obtains no glimpse, while a scandalous industry is exercised in bringing out from under the cover of obscure texts shocking pruriencies that are not perceived by the average reader of Shakespeare.

We may be told that tastes differ, that what through tradition or habit, perhaps, to us appear beauties, do not so strike a foreigner.

Let us test this by the criticism of another foreigner—not a German, but a Frenchman—and we will find him selecting, as prominent beauties on the first hearing of the play, the very passages which also strike us on long and familiar acquaintance.

In the winter of 1829-30, a French version of Othello was represented in a Parisian theatre, and that theatre—shades of Corneille and Racine—the Théâtre Français! Mademoiselle Mars was the Desdemona. The piece was a decided success, and in the Revue Française for January, 1830, there appeared an admirably written article which was at once a compte-rendu of the representation and a criticism of the tragedy. It was from the pen of the Duc de Broglie, and commanded universal attention. His description of the desperate[16] struggles of the two cliques—the Classical and the Romantic—who were, of course, present in force, his account of the effect of the piece upon the general audience, his analysis of the motives of French admiration or blame of Shakespeare, are all most interesting. But what we specially have to do with is his criticism on the play and the dramatist. Here it is:

“The effect of Othello’s narration was irresistible. This portion of the play is translated into all languages—its beauty is perfectly entrancing, its originality is unequalled. Even La Harpe could not refuse it the tribute of his admiration. But perhaps the scene which precedes and that which follows are even still more adapted to exhibit Shakespeare in all his greatness. How wonderful a painter of human nature was this man! How true is it that he has received from on high something of that creative power which, by breathing on a little dust, can transform it into a creature of life and immortality!”

Even as the Christian Anglo-Saxon was doomed to suffer at M. Taine’s hands the outrage of attributed paganism, so also was Shakespeare ignominiously foreordained (from the thirty-sixth page of his first volume) to be a maniac Berserkir. And all because the author has his little theory to carry out. Do you find it wonderful that under such treatment the facts should suffer? Alas! other and more important things must also suffer if such a work as this is to receive the sanction of recognized critical authority, and be placed in the hands of the rising generation.

To do M. Taine justice, he does not for a moment lose sight of his Berserkir, and keeps him, in the soul of Shakespeare, well up to his work. And so, Shakespeare’s Coriolanus is “an athlete of war, with a voice like a trumpet; whose eyes by contradiction are filled with a rush of blood and anger, proud and terrible in mood, a lion’s soul in the body of a steer” (vol. i. p. 329).

For M. Taine, the grand trial act in the Merchant of Venice is “the horrible scene in which Shylock brandished his butcher’s knife before Antonio’s bare breast,” and King Lear is “the supreme effort of pure imagination, a disease of reason which reason could never have conceived.” But reason has so decidedly done the contrary that an experienced physician of long practice in an insane asylum (in the United States) has written an essay[12] to show that Shakespeare’s physiological and psychological knowledge and acquirements, as displayed in his tragedies, were in advance of those of his age by fully two centuries, and, he adds, that the wonderful skill and sagacity manifested by the great dramatist in seizing upon the premonitory signs of insanity (as in King Lear), which are usually overlooked by all, even the patient’s most intimate friends and the members of his family, and weaving them into the character of his hero as a necessary element, without which it would be incomplete, like those of inferior artists, is a matter of wonder to all modern psychologists.

To the Voltairian school of literature in the last century, the plays of Shakespeare were “ces monstrueuses farces que l’on appelle des tragedies,” and Hamlet, in particular, in Voltaire’s judgment, “seems the work of a drunken savage.” When you have read M. Taine on Shakespeare, first let the coruscations of his verbal pyrotechnics subside, await the end of his epileptic contortions of style, then scratch off a thin varnish of[17] polite concession, and you will find under it a Voltairian: although not, we hope, brutal and cynical as was the great original in his denunciation of those Frenchmen who were willing to claim some talent for Shakespeare. Voltaire called them faquins, impudents, imbéciles, monstres, etc. Such people were, he said, a source of calamity and horror, and France did not contain a sufficient number of pillories to punish such a crime. (“Letter of Voltaire to Count d’Argental,” July 19, 1776.)

One of the most interesting books to be found in the English language is Carlyle’s French Revolution. But it is interesting only on condition that the reader is already familiar with the history of that period. And we pay M. Taine’s work a high compliment in saying that, in like manner, his History of English Literature will be found an interesting work to those whose opinions on art and literature are formed, whose religious principles are fixed, and whose judgments are sufficiently mature to be in no danger of being affected by the artificial, erroneous, and false views of man and his responsibilities, with which the book abounds.


Warton, in his History of English Poetry, has published a few fragments of poems on the Passion, which he ascribes to the reigns of Henry III. and Edward I. There is a harmony in the versification of the following that one scarcely looks for at so early a date:

“Jhesu for thi muckle might
Thou gif us of thi grace,
That we may day and night
Thinken of thi face:
In myn herte it doth me gode
Whan y thinke on Jhesu blod,
That ran down bi ys side;
Fro ys herte dou to ys fot,
For us he spradde ys hertis blod,
His wondes wer so wyde.”
“Ever and aye he haveth us in thought,
He will not lose that he so dearly bought.”

One fragment more, which is taken from a sort of dialogue between our Lord on the Cross and the devout soul:

“Behold mi side,
Mi woundes spred so wide,
Restless I ride,
Lok on me, and put fro ye pride:
Dear man, mi love,
For mi love sinne no more.”
“Jhesu Christe, mi lemman swete,
That for me deyedis on rood tree
With al myn herte I the biseke
For thi woundes two and thre:
That so fast in mi herte
Thi love rooted might be,
As was the spere in thi side
When thou suffredst deth for me.”
Christian Schools and Scholars.




It was rather late when Mr. Yorke came down Sunday morning. The storm was yet violent, and he did not mean to go out; and besides, he had been tormented all night with disagreeable dreams. When he appeared in the breakfast-room, Patrick had been to the village, and had seen Father Rasle. The priest was resolutely keeping his fast, and even hearing confessions.

The occurrence of the night before had stirred up the sluggish faith and piety of those few Catholics who had not meant to attend to their religious duties, and they crowded about their pastor at the last moment.

It would, perhaps, be just as well not to describe the manner in which Mr. Yorke received the news they had to tell him, for his anger was scarcely greater toward the mob than toward his own family. He would eat no breakfast, would scarcely stop to change his slippers for boots, but started off to see Father Rasle.

“I shall bring the priest home with me; or, if he will not come, shall stay with him, and defend him with my life from any further outrage,” he said as he went out the door, addressing no one in particular.

“We expect him to return with you, Charles,” his wife said; but he paid no attention to her.

“Coddled like a great booby!” he muttered to himself as he strode down the avenue. “Amy should have more respect for me, or, at least, more regard for my reputation. It is a wonder she does not dress me in petticoats, and set me spinning.”

“Never mind, mamma!” Clara said, kissing her mother, and leading her into the house. “This storm will cool papa off nicely. He will come home penitent, you may be sure. I only hope that you will hold off a little, and not forgive him too readily.”

Mrs. Yorke wiped away the tears which had started at her husband’s unusual severity.

“Never think to comfort your mother, my dear, by speaking disrespectfully of your father,” she said, but, while chiding, returned her daughter’s caress. “And do not think that I could remember one moment any hasty word or act of his when I knew that he was sorry for it. I do not at all wonder that your father is annoyed at not having been called: I quite expected it.”

“Mother, I give you up,” Clara exclaimed. “Where Mr. Charles Yorke is concerned, you have not a sign of—may I say spunk? That is what I mean.”

“No, you may not,” replied Mrs. Yorke with decision. And so the conversation dropped.

Patrick drove Edith to the church. When they entered, they found the people all gathered; and in a few minutes Mass began. The scene was touching. The congregation, prostrate before the altar, wept silently; the choir, attempting to sing, faltered, and stopped in the first hymn; and the priest, in turning toward his[19] people, could not trust himself to look at them, but closed his eyes or glanced over their heads. Tears rolled down the faces of the communicants when they knelt at the altar; and at the benediction many wept aloud.

It was a Low Mass, and when it was over the priest addressed them. He talked only a little while, but in those few words they found both comfort and courage. They were not to mourn, but rather to rejoice that he had been found worthy to suffer ignominy for Christ’s sake. He translated and gave them for their motto these words of St. Bernard: “Pudeat sub spinato capite membrum fieri delicatum.” They should not seek persecution, indeed, but when God sent it upon them they should accept it joyfully. For pain was the only real treasure of earth, and real happiness was unknown, save in anticipation, outside heaven. They belonged to the church militant; and as their great Captain had marched in the van, with shoulders bleeding from the lash, and forehead bleeding from the thorn, they should blush to walk delicately and at ease in his ensanguined footsteps. He implored them to pray constantly, and keep themselves from sin, and, since they might for some time be deprived of the sacraments, to take more than ordinary pains to preserve the sacramental grace which they had just received. There were a few words of farewell, uttered with difficulty, then he ceased speaking.

When Father Rasle went out with Mr. Yorke, the weeping congregation gathered about him, falling on their knees, some of them catching at his robe as he passed by. He was obliged to tear himself away.

The storm was now over, and the sun burst forth brilliantly as they stepped into the air. A carriage was in waiting, and, when he had seated himself in it, with Mr. Yorke and Edith, Father Rasle leaned out, looked once more with suffused eyes at his mourning people, and raised his hand in benediction. Then the door closed upon him, and they were alone.

A second carriage followed this containing four men, well armed, and several other men, armed also, took the shorter road, through East Street and the woods, to Mr. Yorke’s house. Whatever they might suffer, these men did not mean that any further violence should be offered to their priest or to the man who protected him.

As the carriage drove up the avenue, Mrs. Yorke and her two daughters came down the steps to receive their guest. Both Mrs. Yorke and Clara, who were speechless with emotion, gave a silent welcome; but Melicent, much to her own satisfaction, was able to pronounce an eloquent little oration. In the entry Betsey stood stiffly, the two young Pattens in perspective. Thinking, probably, that one of her abrupt courtesies was not enough for the occasion, this good creature made a succession of them as long as the priest was visible, young Sally bobbing in unison. Paul, duly instructed by his mother, waited till the proper moment, then bowed from the waist, till he made a pretty accurate right-angle of himself.

All that day, besides the regular guard, the Irish were coming and going about the house, and when toward night they retired to their homes, the guard was doubled.

Sally Patten came over in the evening and offered her services. Joe could take care of the young ones, and her desire was to stay all night and keep watch at the Yorkes’.[20] It was in vain for them to say that she was not needed. With every sort of compliment, and every demonstration of respect, she persisted in staying. Betsey, she said, had slept none the night before, and would be needed about the house the next day, and they might all rest better if there were a vigilant watcher in-doors as well as out. Men were slow and stupid sometimes, but there was no danger of her letting slumber steal over her eyelids.

“Well, it is true, my head does feel like a soggy batter-pudding,” Betsey owned, beginning to waver. “I had a jumping toothache all Friday night, and last night I never slept one wink.”

“Besides,” continued Boadicea, growing heroic, “when the two eldest of my offspring are in the jaws of destruction, my place is beside them.”

It was impossible to resist such an argument, and she was permitted to have her way.

“I was going to leave the door unlocked, so that the men could come in and get their luncheon,” Betsey said. “But as you are here, perhaps you will carry it out to them.”

A dignified bow was the only reply. Mrs. Patten considered so trivial a subject as luncheon irrelevant to these thrilling circumstances. The question in her mind at this moment was what weapon she should use in the event of an attack. Her taste was for the mediæval, and she would have welcomed with enthusiasm the sight of a battle-axe or a halberd; but since these were not to be had, she inclined toward a long iron shovel that stood in the chimney-corner, reaching nearly to the mantelpiece. This would give a telling blow, and would, moreover, allow of a fine swing of the arms in its wielding.

“Now, here are two coffee-pots full,” Betsey said. “This is done, I think, and will do to begin with. You might put water to the other so as to have it ready about twelve o’clock. I believe in having something to eat and drink, no matter what happens. About all that keeps me from joining the Catholic Church is their fasting. I couldn’t praise God on an empty stomach; I should be all the time thinking how hungry I was. If it warn’t for that, I do believe, the folks here act so like the old boy, I’d turn Catholic just for spite, if nothing else. Give ’em as many of them pumpkin-pies as they want to eat. Give ’em all there is in the closet, if they want it.”

Sally listened, superior, and merely bowed in reply.

Betsey set out a private lunch, and poured a cup of coffee. “Now, you take this, Mrs. Patten,” she said, “and make yourself as comfortable as you can. It will help you to keep awake.”

Boadicea hesitated, then, with a smile of lofty disdain, swallowed the coffee. Why should she attempt the vain task of making that unheroic soul comprehend the emotions which agitated her own spirit? Pumpkin pies and coffee help to keep her awake! Well, she swallowed them, but merely to escape the multiplying of trivial and inconsequent words.

At length the happy moment came when all in the house had gone to bed, and she was left alone.

And now indeed her soul swelled within her, and visions of possible heroic adventure rose before her mind’s eye. She put out the lamp, and pushed the logs of the fire so closely together that only a dull-red glow escaped. She set the doors all open, and walked stealthily from room to room, gazing from window after window, stopping now and then[21] to listen, with her head aside and her arms extended. There was a smoldering knot of wood in both the parlor and sitting-room fireplaces, and the faint light from them and from the kitchen threw gigantic fantastic shadows of her on the walls and ceiling as she moved about.

Clara, feeling restless, came softly down once, and, seeing this strange figure, stole quickly back to bed again, and lay there trembling with fear all night.

But Boadicea kept her watch in glorious unconsciousness of realities. The place had undergone a change to her mind during those lonely hours. It was no longer a common, wooden country house, but a castle, with walls of stone, and battlements, barbacan, and drawbridge. Mrs. Yorke was a fair ladie sleeping in her bower (not even in thought would Sally have spelt lady with a y), Mr. Yorke was a battle-worn warrior, Father Rasle the family chaplain and my lady’s confessor. Without, the retainers watched, and an insidious foe lurked in the darkness, ready for bold attack or treacherous entry through a chink in the wall. Even now some vile caitiff might have obtained entrance, and be lurking behind yonder arras.

At that thought, Sally seized the kitchen shovel, and crept stealthily toward the parlor window, a grotesque shadow accompanying her, leaping across the ceiling in one breathless bound. She paused, and stared at the heavy drapery that seemed to outline a human form, and the shadow paused. She crept a step or two nearer, and the shadow dropped down and confronted her. She grasped the weapon firmly in her right hand, and, stretching the left, with one vigorous twitch pulled down Mrs. Yorke’s damask curtain.

For a moment Sally felt rather foolish. She put the curtain up as best she could, and then went to give the garrison their midnight lunch.

“And what is it ails the old lady?” asked one of the men of a companion. “Is it dumb that she is?” For this great, gaunt creature had given them their refreshments in utter silence and with many a tragical gesture.

She bent suddenly toward the speaker, raised her hand in warning, and whispered sharply, “Be vigilant!”

“What does she mean at all?” exclaimed the man in alarm, as Sally stalked away, very much bent forward, and looking to right and left at every step, as one sees people do on the stage sometimes. His impression was that something awful had taken place in the house.

In short, it was a glorious night for this poor addled soul—a night which would grow more and more in her imagination, till, after the passage of years, her most sincere description of it would never be recognized by one of the real actors.

Daylight came at length without there having been the slightest disturbance. Betsey came down to relieve guard, and Sally, weary but enthusiastic still, went home to electrify Joe with the recital of her adventures.

Clara, coming down before the rest of the family, was astonished to find the kitchen shovel reclining on one of the parlor chairs, and a crimson curtain put up with the yellow lining inside the room.

Father Rasle appeared in a few minutes, and took an affectionate leave of the men who had spent the night in guarding his rest; and, as soon as breakfast was over, he and Mr. Yorke started for Bragon.

Edith saw him go without any[22] poignant regret for her own part, for she was to remain in Seaton but a few weeks longer. But her heart ached for the poor people who were so soon to be left utterly friendless. The burden of the pain had fallen, where it always falls, on the poor. A group of them stood at the gate when the travellers went through, and others met them in North Street, and all gazed after the carriage, with breaking hearts, as long as it was in sight. When might they hope to see a priest again? When again would the Mass-bell summon them to bow before the uplifted Host, and the communion cloth be spread for their heavenly banquet? They cared little for the mocking smile and word, but covered their faces and wept when their pastor disappeared from their gaze.

Patrick went down to the post-office, and came back bringing a letter for Edith, which had lain in the office since Sunday morning. The letter was from Mrs. Rowan-Williams, and contained but a line: “My son is at home, dangerously sick with a fever.”

“The sentiment which attends the sudden revelation that all is lost,” says De Quincey, “silently is gathered up into the heart; it is too deep for gestures or for words, and no part of it passes to the outside.”

Nor is the silence more profound when a slight possibility, over which we have no control, still interposes between the heart and utter loss.

Edith put the letter into her aunt’s hand. “I must go immediately to Bragon, to take the cars,” she said quietly. “Will you tell Patrick to get a carriage? I will be ready in a little while.”

She went up-stairs to put on a travelling-dress, and pack what she wished to take with her. The selection was calmly and carefully made. There was no need of haste. In less than an hour everything was ready, and the carriage at the door.

“I have sent a telegram to your uncle, and he will meet you, and go on to Boston with you to-night,” her aunt said.

Melicent offered her a cup of coffee, and she put it to her lips, and tried to drink it; but all the muscles of her mouth and throat seemed to be fixed, and she could not swallow a drop. She gave back the cup, without uttering a word.

“I have put some fruit and a small bottle of sherry into this luncheon-bag for you,” Mrs. Yorke said hastily. “You must try to take a little on the way. You do not want to lose your strength, and these will be refreshing.”

No one mentioned Dick Rowan’s name to Edith, or offered a word of comfort. They even refrained from expressing too much solicitude and affection, and only kissed her silently when she went out. “Do nothing but what is necessary,” Mrs. Yorke had said to her daughters. “There is no greater torture, at such a time, than to be fretted about trifles. Think of her feelings, not of expressing your own.”

Neither Betsey nor her assistants were allowed to appear, and Patrick had orders to speak only when he was spoken to, and not on any account to mention Mr. Rowan’s name.

“If he dies, it will kill Edith,” Mrs. Yorke said, letting her tears flow when her niece was out of sight.

Some such thought was in Edith’s own mind during that long drive. If Dick Rowan should die, her peace and joy would die with him; not that he was everything to her, but because she could never accept a happiness which was only to be reached over his grave. Edith loved[23] Carl Yorke with all her heart, he attracted her irresistibly, and seemed rather a part of herself than a separate being; yet at that moment the thought of his death would have been to her more tolerable than the thought of Dick Rowan’s.

Mrs. Yorke’s telegram was at the priest’s house awaiting her husband when he arrived, and he went at once to the hotel where his niece was to meet him. Soon they were on the way.

“The Catholics here are in a state of the wildest excitement,” he said. “The news arrived before we did, and the Irish want to go down and burn Seaton to the ground. Father Rasle will have difficulty in quieting them. The better class of Protestants, even, cry out against the outrage. They have called an indignation meeting for to-night, and the Protestant gentlemen are contributing to buy the priest a watch. His watch and pocket-book were stolen Saturday night, you know.”

Though Edith said but little in reply, it was not because she had more important matter in her mind. The number of seats in the car she counted over with weary persistence, the number of narrow boards in the side of the car she learned by heart. She knew just how the lamp swung, and could have described accurately afterward the face and costume of the boy who sold papers and lemonade and pop-corn. Not till the weary night was over, and her uncle said, “Here we are in Boston!” did she awaken from that nightmare entanglement of littlenesses. Then first she showed some agitation.

“Drive directly to Mrs. Williams’s,” she said, “and, while I sit in the carriage, go to the door, and ask how he is. If they tell you that he is better, say it out loud, quickly, but if—if the news is not good, don’t say one word to me, only take me into the house.”

A telegram had been sent to Mrs. Williams, and Edith was expected. As Mr. Yorke went up the step, the door opened, and Dick’s mother stood there.

Edith leaned back in the carriage, and covered her face with her hands. She had not dared to look at the house, lest some sign of mourning should meet her glance. “O Mother of Perpetual Succor!” she exclaimed.

“He is no worse, my dear,” her uncle said at the carriage-door. “I think you need not fear. Come! Mrs. Williams is waiting for you.”

Edith lifted her hands and eyes, and repeated her aspiration, “O Mother of Perpetual Succor!” but with what a difference!—not with anguish and imploring, but with passionate gratitude. Dick would live, she saw that at once. If the blow had not fallen, then it was not to fall now.


When Dick Rowan came home the first time after his mother’s marriage, both she and her husband had desired him to select a chamber in their house which should always be his. He chose an unfurnished one nearly at the top of the house, and, after several playful skirmishes with his mother, who would fain have adorned it with velvet and lace, fitted it up to suit himself. It was large, sunny, and quiet; and there was but little in it besides an Indian matting, an iron bed, a writing-table, wicker[24] chairs, and white muslin curtains, that did not even pretend to shut out the light. There was nothing on the walls but a book-case and a crucifix, nothing on the mantelpiece but a clock. The young man’s tastes were simple, almost ascetical, and he protested that he could not draw free breath in a room smothered in thick upholstery. Sunshine, fresh air, pure water, and cleanliness—those he must have. Other things might be dispensed with.

In this chamber Dick lay now, his body a prey to fever, his mind wandering in wild and tumultuous scenes. He was at sea, in a storm, and the ship was going down; he was wrecked, and parched with thirst in a wilderness of waters; he was sailing into a strange port, and suddenly the shore swarmed with enemies, and he saw huge cannon-mouths just breaking into flame, and flights of poisoned arrows just twanging from their bows; he was at Seaton again, a poor, friendless boy, and his father was reeling home drunk, with a rabble shouting at his heels. And always, whatever scene his fancy might conjure up, his ears were deafened by the strong rush of waves, adding confusion to terror and pain.

One day, when he had been crying out against this torment, a pair of cool, small hands were clasped tightly about his forehead, and a voice asked, low and clear, “Doesn’t that make the waves seem less, Dick?”

He left off speaking, and lay listening intently.

“There are no waves nor storm,” the voice said calmly. “You are not at sea. You are safe at home. But your head aches so that it makes you fancy things. What you hear is blood rushing through the arteries. I am going to put a bandage round your head. That will do you good.”

Dick turned his head as Edith took her hands away, and followed her with his eyes while she took a few steps to get what she wanted. She smiled at him as she stood measuring off the strip of linen, and making up little rolls of linen to press on the arteries of the temples; and though her face was thin and white, and her eyes filled, in spite of her, when she smiled, the image was a cheerful one in that darkened room. She wore a dress of green cloth, soft and lustrous, and had a rosebud in her hair. The effect was cool and sweet. As she moved quietly about, the patient gazed at her, and his gaze seemed to be wondering and confused, rather than insane.

She drew the bandage tightly about his head, pressed hard on the throbbing arteries, and sprinkled cold water on the linen and his hair. She had observed that he started whenever ice was put to his head, and therefore kept it cool, and avoided giving a shock.

“You are sick, and I am going to make you well,” she said. “You are not to think, but to obey. I will do the thinking. Will you trust me?”

“Yes, Edith,” he answered, after a pause, looking steadfastly at her, seeming in doubt whether it were a real form he saw, a real voice he heard.

“This is your room, you see,” she said, laying one hand on his, and pointing with the other. “That is your book-shelf, there is your table and your crucifix. You know it all; but sickness and darkness are so confusing. Now, I’m going to give you one little glimpse of out-doors, only for a minute, though, because it would hurt your head to have too much light.”

She went to the window, and drew aside the thick green curtain, and a golden ray from the setting sun flew in like a bird, and alighted on the[25] clock. Those sick eyes shrank a little, but brightened. She returned, and leaned over the pillow, so as to have the same view through the window with him. “That green hill is Longwood,” she said; “and there is the flagstaff on the top of Mr. B——’s house, looking like the mast of a ship. Now I shall drop the curtain, and you are to go to sleep.”

So, as his feverish fancies rose like mists, her calm denial or explanation swept them away; or, if the delirium fit was too strong for that, she held his hand, to assure him of companionship, and went with him wherever his tyrannical imagination dragged him, and found help there. When he sank in deeps of ocean, he heard a voice, as if from heaven, saying, “He who made the waves is stronger than they. Hold on to God, and he will not let you go.” If foes threatened him, he heard the reassuring text: “The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the protector of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?” If he groped in desolation, and cried out that every one had deserted him, she repeated: “For my father and my mother have left me, but the Lord hath taken me up.” “Expect the Lord, do manfully, and let thy heart take courage, and wait thou for the Lord.

She followed him thus from terror to terror, imagining all the bitterness of them, trying to take that bitterness to herself, till they began to grow real to her, and she was glad to escape into the wholesome outer world, and see with her own eyes that the universe was not a sick-room.

Hester had come up, and she called and took Edith out for a drive every day; and sometimes she went home to Hester’s house, and played with the children a while. She found their childish gayety and carelessness very soothing.

“Carl and I are fitting up the house for the family,” Hester said one day. “They are all to come up the last of the month. I shall be so glad! It is delightful to go through the dear old familiar rooms, and look from the windows, just as I used to. We new-furnish the parlors only. Mamma wishes to use all the old things she can.”

“I cannot stop to-day,” Edith said; “but I would like to see the house soon. You know I saw only the outside of it when I was here before.”

“Carl is going to England before they come up,” Hester said hesitatingly. “I don’t know why he does not wait for them, but he has engaged passage for next week. I believe he means to be gone only a month or two.”

Edith leaned back in the carriage, and made no reply. When she spoke, after a while, it was to ask to be taken back to Mrs. Williams’.

From Dick Rowan’s wandering talk, she had learned the history of his last few weeks. She perceived that Father John and his household must have known perfectly well what their visitor’s trouble was, and that they had watched over and sympathized with him most tenderly. Dick’s pride was not of a kind that would lead him to dissemble his feelings or conceal them from those of whose friendship and sympathy he was assured. Why should he conceal what he was not ashamed of? he would have asked. She learned that he had spent hours before the altar, that he had fasted and prayed, that he had gone out in the storm at night, and walked the yard of the priest’s house, going in only when Father John had peremptorily commanded him to. These reckless exposures, combined with mental distress, had caused his illness. Dick[26] had never before been ill a day, and could not believe that a physical inconvenience and discomfort, which he despised, would at last overpower him.

One Sunday afternoon, a week after Edith’s arrival, the patient opened his eyes, and looked about with a languid but conscious gaze, all the fever and delirium gone, and, also, all the human dross burned out of him. No person was in sight, and his heavy lids were dropping again, when his glance was arrested by a pictured face so perfect, that, to his misty sense, it seemed alive. It was an exquisite engraving of Rubens’ portrait of St. Ignatius, not the weak and sentimental copy we most frequently see, but one full of expression. Large, slow tears, unnoted by him, rolled down his face. The lips, slightly parted, and tremulous with a divine sorrow, were more eloquent than any words could be. His finger pointed to the legend, “Ad majorem Dei gloriam,” and one could see plainly that in his fervent soul there was room for no other thought. With such a face might St. John have looked, bearing for ever in his heart the image of the Crucified.

The first glance of Dick Rowan’s eyes was startled, as though he saw a vision, then his gaze became so intense that, from very weakness, his lids dropped, and he slept again. In that slumber, long, deep, and strengthening, the slackened thread of vitality in him began to knit itself together again.

“All we have to do now is to prevent his getting up too soon,” the doctor said. “It would be like him to insist on going out to-morrow.”

The danger over, a breath of spring seemed to blow through the house. The servants told each other, with smiling faces, that Mr. Rowan was better. Mrs. Williams waked up to the fact that her personal appearance had been notably neglected of late, and, after kissing Edith with joyful effusion, went to put on her hair and a clean collar. Miss Williams opened her piano, put her foot on the soft pedal, and played a composition which made her father look at her wonderingly over his spectacles. Had it not been Sunday, he would have thought that Ellen was playing a polka. In fact, it was a polka, and sounded so very much like what it was that Mr. Williams presently ventured a faint remonstrance.

“Oh! nonsense, papa!” laughed the musician over her shoulder. “It is a hymn of praise, by Strauss.”

“Strauss?” repeated her father doubtfully. He thought the name sounded familiar.

“Mendelssohn, I mean,” corrected she, with the greatest hardihood, and shook a shower of sparkling notes from her finger-ends.

Miss Ellen was one of the progressive damsels of the time.

Mr. Williams looked toward the door, and smiled pleasantly, seeing Miss Yorke come in, and she returned his greeting with one as friendly. There was a feeling of kindness between the two. This gentleman was not very gallant, but, being in his wife’s confidence, and aware therefore that Edith had been looked on by her as a culprit, he had taken pains to make her feel at ease with him. Moreover, in common with a good many other middle-aged, matter-of-fact men, he had a carefully-concealed vein of sentimentality in his composition, and was capable of being deeply interested in a genuine love affair. With a great affectation of contempt, Mr. Williams would yet devour every word of a romantic story at which his daughter would most sincerely turn up her nose. It[27] is indeed on record, in the diary of the first Mrs. Williams, that her husband sat up late one night, on pretence of posting his books, and that, after twelve o’clock, she went down-stairs and found him, as she expressed it, “snivelling over” The Hungarian Brothers. “Which astonished me in so sensible a man as John,” the lady added.

Edith took a chair by a window and looked out into the street, and Mr. Williams turned over the book on his knee. It was a volume of sermons which he was in the habit of pretending to read every Sunday afternoon. Intellectually, Mr. Williams was sceptical; and had one propounded to him, one by one, the doctrines he heard preached every Sunday, and asked him if he believed them, he would probably have answered, “Well, no, I don’t know as I do exactly”; but early education by a mother whose religion was earnest if mistaken, and that necessity for some supernatural element in the life which is the mark of our divine origin, impelled him to an observance of what he did not believe, for the want of something better which he could believe.

When Dick waked again, the first object he saw was his mother’s face, full of tearful joy. She smiled, quivered, tried to speak, and could not.

“Poor mother! what a trouble I am to you!” he said, and would have held his hand out to her, but found himself unable to raise it. He looked, and saw it thin and transparent, glanced with an expression of astonished inquiry into his mother’s face, and understood it all. “I must have been sick a long time, mother,” he said.

She kissed him tenderly. “Yes, my dear boy. But it is all over now, thank God!”

“Poor mother!” he said again. “I must have worn you out. Have you taken all the care of me?”

“No! Edith was here,” she answered timidly. “She is a good nurse, Dick.”

“Edith?” he echoed with surprise; and, after a moment’s thought, added quietly, “Yes, I recollect seeing her. She helped me a great deal, I think, dear child!”

“Would you like to see her?” his mother asked. “She has only just left the room.”

“Not now, mother,” he answered. “She will come presently. I cannot talk much now.”

He closed his eyes again, and lay in that delicious trance of convalescence, when simply to breathe is enough for contentment—the lips slightly parted, the form absolutely at rest, the eyes not so closed but a faint twilight enters through the lashes—a sweet, happy mood. When his mother moved softly about, Dick lifted his lids now and then, but was not disturbed. Sometimes, before closing them again, his half-seeing eyes dwelt a moment on some object in the room. After one of these dreamy glances, there entered through his lashes the vision of a face that seemed to cry aloud to him a piercing summons.

He started up as if electrified, and stretched his arms out. “Stay! stay!” he cried, and saw that it was no vision, but a pictured, saintly face, with tears on the cheeks, and lips from which a message seemed to have just escaped.

“Dick, what is the matter?” his mother exclaimed in terror.

He sank back on the pillows. “I saw it before, and thought it was a dream,” he whispered. “I was thinking of it as I lay here.”

“The picture?” his mother asked.[28] “Edith hung it there. I will take it away if you don’t like it.”

“I do like it,” he answered faintly. “It is a blessed, blessed vision.” He lay looking at it a while, then slipped his hand under the pillow and found a little crucifix that he had always kept there. At the beginning of his illness his mother had taken it away, but Edith had returned and kept it there, seeing that he sometimes sought for it. He drew it forth now, pressed it passionately to his lips, then, holding it in the open palm of his hand, on the pillow, turned his cheek to it with a gesture of childlike fondness. “O my Love!” he whispered.

“Shall I tell Edith to come in?” his mother asked, catching the whisper.

“Not now, not to-night, mother,” he answered softly.

But the next morning he asked to see the whole family, with the servants, and, when they came, thanked them affectionately for what they had done for him, taking each one by the hand. When Edith approached, a slight color flickered in his cheeks, and he looked at her earnestly. Her changed face seemed to distress him. “Dear child, I have been killing you!” he said.

At his perfectly unembarrassed and friendly address, Edith’s worst fear took flight. If Dick had reproached or been cold to her, she would have defended herself without difficulty; but if he had shrunk from her, she could scarcely have borne it.

The doctor was quite right in saying that their only difficulty would be in keeping their patient quiet, for Dick insisted on sitting up that very day.

“The doctor wishes you to lie still,” his mother said.

“And I wish to get up,” he retorted, smiling, but wilful.

“The Lord wishes you to lie still, Dick,” Edith said.

He became quiet at once. “Do you think so?” he asked.

“Father John will tell you,” she answered, as the door opened to give admittance to the priest.

Of course Father John confirmed her assertion. “Everything in its time, young man,” he said cheerfully. “This enforced physical illness may be to you a time of richest spiritual benefit. You have now leisure for reading and contemplation which you will not have when you go out into active life again. You must let Miss Edith read to you.”

Before leaving his penitent, the priest proposed to give him Holy Communion the next morning; but Dick hesitatingly objected. “Not that I do not long for it, father,” he made haste to add; “but I wish to recollect myself. Like St. Paul, I desire to be dissolved and be with Christ, but I wish to endure that desire a little longer, till I shall be better prepared to be with him.”

Seeing the priest look at him attentively, he blushed, and added: “Of course I do not mean to compare myself with St. Paul, sir,” and was for a moment mortified and disconcerted at what he supposed Father John would think his presumption.

“There is no reason why you and I may not have precisely the same feelings that St. Paul had,” the priest said quietly.

Edith found letters in her room from Seaton. Her aunt wrote that they were busily making the last arrangements for their moving, and gave her many kind messages from her friends. The house in Seaton had been leased advantageously, and they hoped that the lessee might be able to buy it after a while, as he wished to. They were to bring all their household with them, Betsey, Patrick, and the young Pattens. The prospect of being left[29] behind had so afflicted these faithful creatures that she had not the heart to desert them.

Clara wrote a long, gossiping letter. “I must tell you what an absurd little stale romance is being acted here,” she wrote, “for mamma is sure to tell you nothing about it. Prepare to be astonished by the most surprising, the most bewildering, etc. (see Mme. de Sévigné). Mr. Griffeth has proposed for Melicent, and Melicent is willing, so she says! Papa and mamma are frantic, and Mel goes about with a persecuted, inscrutable look which distracts me. I sometimes think that she is only pretending in order to have a fuss made over her, but one cannot be sure. You know she always prided herself on her good sense and judgment, and my experience is that when such persons do a foolish thing,

‘They are So (ultra) cinian, they shock the Socinians.’

“We highfliers commit follies with a certain grace, and we know when we reach the step between the sublime and the ridiculous; but these clumsy sensible people are like dancing elephants, and have no conception how absurd they are. (Did you ever observe that people who have no uncommon sense always claim to have a monopoly of the common sense?)

“It seems that Mel has had no intercourse with the man lately, except what we have known, but he has been giving her some of those expressive glances which are so effective when one has practised them long enough. ‘Oh! those looks which have so little force in law, but so much in equity!’ Mamma said that she would rather see a daughter of hers married to Mr. Conway than to Mr. Griffeth, for Mr. Conway had principle if he was not clever, and Mel made a pretty good answer. ‘There is always hope,’ she said, ‘that an irreligious person may be converted, but there is no conversion for the commonplace.’ Mel thinks Mr. Griffeth remarkably intellectual, and papa ridiculed the idea. The little man, he said, resembled Cæsar in one respect, for whereas Cæsar wore the laurel wreath to cover his bald pate, the minister took refuge in verbiage to hide his baldness of thought. This having no effect, I gave the ‘most unkindest cut of all.’ I reminded her that he had tried both you and me first, and we didn’t know how many more. Her reply was to hand me a copy of Browning’s Men and Women, open at “Misconceptions.” She had marked the words:

“This is the spray the Bird clung to,
Making it blossom with pleasure,
Ere the high tree-top she sprang to,
Fit for her nest and her treasure.”

“But I thought that her smile was something like that of one who is taking medicine heroically, a sort of quinine-smile.

“There is but one way if we do not wish to have this howling dervish in the family: we must exhibit, as the doctors say, a counter-irritant—that is, find Mel another lover. I am convinced that she will never voluntarily relinquish one romance except in favor of one more.”


As Dick Rowan gained strength in those first days of convalescence, Edith perceived that he had changed toward her. The manifestations of this change were slight, she was not sure that he was himself conscious[30] of them, but they were decided. It was not that he showed any unkindness, or even indifference, but his being seemed to be—scarcely yet revolving round, but—brooding round a new centre. He frequently became absorbed in contemplation, from which he recalled himself with difficulty, though always cheerfully. Not a tinge of pain marred the peaceful silence of his mood. It was like that exquisite pause we sometimes see in the weather, when, after a violent storm, the winds and blackness withdraw, and there comes an hour of tender, misty silence before the sunshine breaks forth. His eyes would turn upon her kindly, and, still looking, forget her, and she saw that something of more importance had usurped her image.

He was decided and self-reliant, too, in some things, and seemed rather displeased than grateful for too much solicitude on the part of others. He put aside entirely the usual sick-room inquiries. “I am getting well,” he said, “and need not count how often I stumble in learning to walk again. My miserable body has received attention enough. Let us forget it, now that we may.”

Edith began to read, in obedience to Father John, but the books she chose at first did not quite suit the listener. Even the St. Theresa and The Following of Christ, which she found on his shelves, did not seem to be what he wanted then. She brought some of her books, but could see that his own meditations were more agreeable to him.

“I do not like to find fault with a pious writer,” Dick said uneasily. “They are all good, but I have thought that some of them sometimes—” He broke off abruptly. “Edith, is there such a word as platitudinize?”

“I do not think that it is in the dictionary,” she replied, smiling.

“It is, then, an omission,” said Dick.

“Try the Gospels,” Father John said, when Edith told him her difficulty. “Different states of mind require different reading, just as different states of the body require different food and medicine. I frequently advise people, whom I find having a distaste for spiritual reading, to read the Gospels, and refresh their memory of all the events recorded there by the simply-told story. I always find that they return with delight and profit to the meditations of those holy souls whose lives have been spent in the study of these mysteries. These writers assume that the reader has freshly in his mind that of which they treat. You cannot meditate on a subject, nor follow clearly the meditations of another, when the facts are not familiar to your own mind.”

Edith read the Gospels, therefore, and was astonished at their effect on Dick. Either his perceptions had been sharpened during his illness, or some obstructions had been cleared away from the passage to his heart. This was not to him an old story, worn and deadened with much telling, and slipping past his hearing without leaving a trace, but a tragedy newly enacted, none of its edge gone, every circumstance as sharp as a thorn, tearing in the telling. While Edith read the story of the Lord as told by the four great witnesses, and added the outpourings of those fiery Epistles, the listener’s agitation was so great that she was often compelled to stop. At the chapters which related to the passion, Dick’s hands trembled and grew cold, and his head dropped back against the cushions of his chair. The Epistles of St. Paul stirred him especially.


“Now, Dick, if you don’t behave I won’t read you another word!” Edith exclaimed, one day, when he had started out of his chair, and begun to walk about.

He came back with a stumbling step, and seated himself, wiping the perspiration from his forehead.

“I believe I shall have to postpone St. Paul till I am able to go out-doors,” he said breathlessly.

Observing his eyes frequently wander to the St. Ignatius, she remarked: “He looks as though he were present when our Lord was crucified, and could not forget the sight.”

“We were all present!” he exclaimed. “How can we forget it?”

Long and intimate as their acquaintance had been, Edith thought now that she had not known Dick Rowan well. She had praised, defended, and loved him with sisterly fondness, but always, involuntarily, almost unconsciously, from a higher plane than his. Now she looked up to him as her superior. But, in truth, she had know him well, and done him full justice. The difference now was that the full current of his nature was turned into a higher channel.

One day Hester sent the carriage to take Edith to see the family house, which was as complete as it could be before the arrival of the family. Hester herself was detained at home by company, but she sent a line: “Carl will be there, and the man who is putting up the curtains, and the woman who is cleaning the closet in your room. So you will not be lost, nor want for information.”

Edith had just begun her reading when the note was given to her. She handed it to Dick to read.

“That settles the question,” he said, holding out his hand for the book. “While you read to me yesterday, the thought occurred to me that I could do it for myself, and I meant that this should be your last reading. Go and take the air, Edith. You have been too much shut up. This is your last day but one with me as an invalid.”

She looked at him with a startled expression.

“Because,” he answered smilingly to her look, “to-morrow I drive out, the day after I shall sit down-stairs, and the next day I shall forget that I have ever been sick.”

He looked thoroughly contented and cheerful. There was no lurking sadness, nor reluctance to have her go. Dick was too transparent to hide it if there were. As well might the lake show a smooth surface while waves were rolling below. His soul had, indeed, always been more placid than his manner.

Before Edith had left the room, he was turning over the leaves of the book, a new one to him; and when she stepped into the carriage at the curbstone, he was so absorbed in reading as not to know that she was looking up at the window where he sat. The book rested on the wide arm of his chair, his elbow near it, the hand supporting his forehead. His hair had been cut off, and thus his full brow and finely shaped head were clearly displayed. His hands were beginning to look alive, his cheeks to get back their color. So he leaned and read, and she drove away.

She was going to meet Carl, and she was glad of it, though at Seaton she had thought that she must not see him again. The second thought had shown her how unnecessary and Quixotic this resolution had been, made in the first shock and confusion caused by Dick Rowan’s distress, and her own discovery of the depth of her own affection for Carl. She had since then put aside her own imagination[32] and that of others, and examined her heart as it was, not as it might become under circumstances which she no longer expected to find herself in. She and Carl were nearly related by marriage, and he had been her teacher, and kind and delicate friend. She had lived in the same house with him seven years, a longer time than she had been associated intimately with Dick Rowan, and her intercourse with him had been such as to call out all that was most amiable in his character, and that at a time when her own mind was maturing, and capable of receiving its most profound impressions. She asked herself what the charm had been in her intercourse with him, and the answer was immediate: a quick and thorough sympathy in everything natural. For the supernatural, so careful had he been not to offend her conscience, and so highly had he appreciated religion in her, she had felt no sense of discordance, but only that he lacked a faith which she hoped and expected he would one day possess. Carl had never intruded his scepticism on her. What, she asked herself then, had she wished regarding him? and the answer was no more doubtful; she had wished to be his most confidential and sympathizing friend, and had shrunk with pain from the thought of any one coming nearer to his heart than herself, or as near. Even of these wishes she had been almost unconscious till others had forced them on her attention. Of Dick Rowan’s friendships she could never have been jealous, and she could never have suffered from them. Here she stopped, and set her Christian will and her maiden reserve as a firm barrier against her own imagination or the intrusive imaginations of others taking one step further. She was ready to fling her Honni soit qui mal y pense in the face of any evil speaker.

“Dick Rowan was a good friend to my childhood,” she said, “and protected me from all physical danger and insult, and petted me with childlike fondness; and I have been grateful to him beyond the point of duty, and to my own hurt. Carl Yorke helped to form my opening mind, and patiently and carefully strove to endow me with his own knowledge, and my debt to him is a still higher one. I have a right, when he is going away, to bid him a friendly good-by, and I should be ashamed of myself if I were afraid to!”

Carl stood in the door of his old home, and came down the steps, hat in hand, to assist her. She saw in his face that he felt doubtful whether his presence might not displease her.

“I am glad to see you, Carl,” she said cordially. “I could not believe that you meant to go away without bidding me farewell.”

“I would not have gone away without seeing you,” Carl replied quietly; and they went into the house together. His face had lighted at her greeting. Evidently he liked its frank kindliness, and the entire setting aside of all embarrassing recollections. He had been in the cruel position of a man who, with a high natural sense of honor, has suffered himself to be betrayed into an act which he cannot justify, and is ashamed to excuse. Silence was best.

Edith was delighted with the home-like look of everything in the house, and the good taste displayed in its arrangement.

“I can easily understand,” Carl said,[33] “why you and my mother wished to have as little new furniture as possible. I think we all prefer that which has friendly or beautiful associations.”

He lead her to a portrait, conspicuously placed in the sitting-room.

“I hung dear Alice’s picture here,” he said, “because I thought that her place was in the family-circle.” He sighed. “It is astonishing how cruelly selfish men can sometimes be, without knowing it. Poor, dear Alice thought of me, and I thought of myself. Well, she is safe dead, with no more need of me, and I am left with an unfailing regret.”

Edith was grieved and touched by his self-reproach, and was about to say some comforting word, when he turned to her with a smile. “And I am committing again the same fault which I confess,” he said. “Edith comes out of a sick-room, weary and depressed, and I sadden instead of cheering her. Shall we look about the house?”

They went up-stairs, and he showed her the different chambers. “But we all concluded that you would prefer the one I used to have for my painting-room,” he said. “It is up another flight of stairs, but well repays you for the climbing. You are an early bird, and there you will have the morning sunshine. It is the largest chamber in the house, and has the best view. How do you like it?”

Edith exclaimed with delight. Nothing could have suited her better. Through the windows were visible a wide sweep of sky and a pretty city view. Inside, the room was large, charmingly irregular, with alcoves and niches, and the partial furnishing was fresh and of her own colors. Sea-green and white lace made it a home fit for a mermaid. It was evident that a good deal of care had been used in preparing the place for her.

“You are so kind!” she said rather tremulously.

He affected not to notice her emotion. “All I have done in this house has been a labor of love and delight,” he said, and led her to a picture which bore the mark of his own exquisite brush, the only picture on the walls. “This is to remember Carl by,” he said. “It is painted partly from nature, partly from a description of the scene. It is a glimpse into what was called the Kentucky Barrens.”

An opening in a forest of luxuriant beech, ash, and oak trees showed a level of rich green, profusely flower-sprinkled. The morning sky was of a pure blue, with thin flecks of white cloud, and everything was thickly laden with dew. The fringe of the picture glittered with light, but all the centre was overshadowed by a vast slanting canopy of messenger-pigeons, settling toward the earth. The sunlight on their glossy backs glanced off in brilliant azure reflections, looking as though a cataract of sapphires was flowing down the sky. Here and there, a ray of sunshine broke through the screen of their countless wings, and lit up a flower or bit of green. An oriole was perched on a twig in the foreground, and from the hanging nest close by, his mate pushed a pretty head and throat. Startled by the soft thunder of that winged host, they gazed out at it from the safe covert of their leafy home.

The two went down-stairs into the sitting-room again. “Now, I want to tell you all my plans,” Carl said.

They seated themselves, and he began:[34] “I have thought best to make now the tour which I contemplated years ago. It must be now, or never, and I am not willing to relinquish it entirely. But I am not sorry that I was disappointed in going when I first thought of it, for I was not then prepared to derive the benefit from the journey which I now hope for. I should have gone then for pleasure and adventure; now I make a pilgrimage to gather knowledge. I tell you of this, Edith, but I have concluded not to tell my mother. It seems cruel, and there has been a struggle in my mind, but I cannot do otherwise. I well remember how hard it was to win her consent before, and I believe she was truly glad of our loss of wealth, since it kept me at home. If I should tell her now, the struggle would be renewed, and she would be ill. I am afraid, too, that I might be impatient with her, for I have no more time to throw away. So I shall let her suppose that I am going to make a short visit in England, which is true. Once there, she will not be disturbed at my going over to France for a few weeks. After France, Switzerland follows of course, Italy is next door, and the East is not far from Italy. I have always observed that, when a thing is done, my mother makes up her mind to it with fortitude; but, if it is left to her to decide on anything painful, she is unable to decide, and the suspense is terrible to her. My father knows that. When he really means to do a thing, he is prompt, and makes no talk about it. And, Edith, I shall not tell my sisters nor father, because it will seem more unkind if she is the only one who does not know, and it might compel them to practise evasion. I tell you alone, and I want you to promise me that, if my mother should begin to suspect, you will at once tell her all, and do what you can to quiet her.”

“I promise you, Carl,” Edith answered.

“You can also tell Mr. Rowan, if you have occasion to, if you wish to,” he said, looking at her attentively.

She merely bowed.

“I think that you will approve of my plans,” he went on with earnestness. “I have found what I believe to be my place and work in this vortex of the nineteenth century, and I wish to fill that place and do that work in the best manner I can. I have been offered a position as attaché at one of our embassies, but I am not ready for that yet. I am not fit for anything that I wish to do.”

Warming with his subject, Carl stood up, and leaned on a high chair-back opposite Edith while he talked. His face became animated, his manner had a charming cordiality and frankness. When his time should come for speaking or writing, or taking any part in the affairs of his country, he wished to be considered an authority, and to deserve that consideration. To that end, he must have more knowledge, not of courts, or camps, or books, though these were worth knowing, but of people as they live in their own homes, in their own lands, under laws strange to us. He wanted to know the world’s poor, and the world’s criminals, and the world’s saints, wherever he could find them. “You have observed, in drawing faces,” he said, “how one little line will alter the whole expression. It is the same with arguments. A great, loose, sophistical generalization may be as completely upset by one sharp little fact, as Goliath was by David. I want to have a sling full of those facts. A plain hard truth may be made attractive by a single beautiful illustration; and I wish to gather illustrations from the whole world. I hate a sour patriotism, and I would not think, nor speak, nor write narrowly on any subject.


“I can perceive, Edith, that we have much to learn in this country, and I wish to be first taught myself, then to do my part in helping to teach others. We need to learn that the order of society, as well as of the heavenly bodies, depends on a centripetal, no less than a centrifugal force. At present we are all flying off on tangents. We need to learn that there is beauty and dignity in obedience, as well as in independence. We should see that it is better for a people to be nobler than their laws, than for laws to be nobler than the people; and that the living constitution of a living nation is not found on any parchment, but is the national conscience brought to a focus. Why, Edith, those very persons who boast themselves the most on the glorious fathers of our country are, perhaps, the persons of whom those same fathers, could they behold them, would be most unutterably ashamed. I do not mean to be presumptuous, dear; but I see which way my influence should go, and I mean to do my best to make that influence great, first by leading an honest life, and next by polishing my weapons to the utmost. I am talking confusedly. I give you but a rough sketch of my design. Two years, I think, will be the limit of my stay. I am so well prepared by my studies that I shall lose no time, and I have every facility of access to all places I wish to visit. What do you say to it, Edith?”

“I say God-speed, with all my heart, Carl! Your aims are noble. I like to see you in earnest.”

“I am in earnest, dear,” he said. “I feel as a new planet might, that has been turning on its own centre without progress, and is all at once set spinning off on its orbit.”

In the momentary silence that followed, Edith went to a book-shelf filled with pamphlets, and looked them over. “O Carl!” she said brightly, “do you read these?”

They were the numbers of Brownson’s Review.

“I have read them more attentively than anything else,” he answered, “and learned more from them. An American best understands the American mind. Pure reason is, of course, cosmopolitan; but reason is seldom so pure but a colored ray of individual or national character intrudes; and I like to choose my color. I think,” he said, smiling, “that I have been quoting that Review to you. I leave them for my father to read.”

Edith’s eyes sparkled. “I thank God that you are on this track, Carl!” she said. “The first I ever read in this Review was an article on De Maistre, and it solved for me a great difficulty. The fragments of truth that I had seen in the mythologies of different nations, and the beautiful Christian sentiments I had found among the pagans, had been a stumbling-block to me; but, when I read that, all became plain. You make me very happy, dear Carl!”

“I do not think that I am pious,” he said, after a moment.[36] “My mind is clear on the subject, but my heart is unmoved. I do not wonder at that, and I am not sure but I prefer it so; to have light pour over my mind till my heart melts underneath, rather than have a mind imperfectly illuminated, and a heart starting up at intervals in little evanescent flames, which die out again, and leave ashes. The former is light from heaven, the latter suggests the lucifer-match to me. As soon as the time shall come, which I calmly await, when I have a clearer realization of the necessity of baptism, I shall ask to be baptized. Till then, I wish my intellectual convictions to be getting acclimated. My sacrifice must be ready before I invoke upon it fire from heaven.”

“Oh! you remind me of St. John of the Cross,” Edith said. “He says, ‘Reason is but the candlestick to hold the light of faith.’”

“Precisely!” Carl replied. “Behold me, then, illuminated by a candlestick, instead of a candle, but—aware of that lack. A friend of mine, a convert, told me lately that he had always regretted having hurried into the church, and to the sacraments, as he did. He did not realize anything, but received supernatural favors like one in a dream. He said that, though he was sincere, and would have given his life for the faith that was in him, he was, for a long time, tormented by the habit of doubt. When, at length, that habit was broken, he used sometimes to long to receive baptism over again, or wished, at least, that his first communion had been postponed to the time of peace. A strong movement of the heart might, perhaps, have saved this trouble; but neither he nor I have been so favored.”

“And yet,” Edith said thoughtfully, “I should have supposed that the first conviction of truth would have moved your feelings. When my mind pointed that way, my heart followed quickly, and pretty soon took wings, and flew along by itself, and left my thoughts behind. I am not sure that I have any intellect in religion. I can think of reasons for everything, if I try, but it does not seem to me worth while, unless some one outside of the church wishes to know.”

“That is a woman’s way,” Carl said, pleased with her pretty earnestness. “A woman goes heart first, or her head and heart go hand in hand, and her finest mental power is the intellect of noble passions. A man goes head first, and his highest power is reason.”

The silvery bell of a clock warned them how long their interview had been. Edith rose. “I must say good-by to you for two years, then, Carl; but you have taken away the sting of parting. While you are on the road to truth, I am not afraid of any road for you on sea or land.”

She gave him her hand. Large, bright tears stood in her eyes.

“Dear Edith, good-by!” he said, and could not utter another word.

They went down the steps together. The carriage-door opened and closed, there was one last glance, and they lost sight of each other.

They parted with pain, yet not unwillingly; for duty and honor yet stood with hands clasped between to separate them. Dick Rowan’s pale face, as they had seen it that night sinking backward into the river, could be forgotten by neither.

When we have wronged a person, though it were unconsciously, we can no longer take the same delight in that pleasure which has given him pain. The pleasure may be no less dear to us, but the thought that it is to be reached only through the sufferings of one who has even a fancied claim on us makes renunciation seem almost preferable to possession.




Under this head we include duties toward certain classes or individuals who are dependent on the rich for their well-being and happiness. The rich furnish employment to those who live by labor. By their wealth, their knowledge, their power of various kinds, they set agoing and direct those great branches of human enterprise and industry in which the majority of persons in civilized society are the workmen. The welfare and happiness of the majority depend, therefore, in a great measure upon the right discharge of their duties by the minority, in whose hands the direction is placed. In order that these duties may be rightly discharged according to Christian principles, the small number who possess the largest portion of wealth and power must be stimulated and governed by the motive of true philanthropy, the love of their fellow-men, Christian charity. Those who are dependent need, on their part, the spirit of resignation to the will of God, contentment with their lot, respect and affection toward those who are in a superior position. Where this mutual charity, springing from Christian principles, does not exist in great strength, binding all classes together, sooner or later the rich will despise and oppress the poor; and the poor will hate the rich, biding their time to revolt against and destroy them. The rich ought, therefore, to devote all their thoughts and energies to such an administration of the trust committed to them as may produce the greatest possible amount of well-being and happiness among the dependent classes in society, and earn for themselves the respect, love, and gratitude of all.

We will now leave off generalizing, and descend to some particulars. Merchants and others in similar positions ought to take more interest than they do in the welfare and happiness of their clerks. Those who know something of the hardships, privations, and moral danger to which this class of young men are exposed in New York will not dispute the assertion we have made.[13] It may be extended to the corresponding class of young women. And we have here the opportunity of citing the example of a work undertaken by one of our merchants, which illustrates our thesis much better than pages of explanation. We refer to the great institution contrived, and now almost completed, by Mr. Stewart, which may be seen, and is worth being seen by every one, on the corner of Fourth Avenue and[38] Thirty-third Street. This princely undertaking is a sample of that benevolent and magnanimous effort in behalf of a numerous and interesting class of the employees of the rich which we are aiming to recommend.

The need of looking after the interests of those who are engaged in the harder and rougher kinds of labor is much more stringent. The tenements and daily surroundings of the laboring class of people in great cities, the many squalid discomforts and miseries which invest their lot in life, have been the frequent theme of those who, either from real or pretended philanthropy, concern themselves with social questions. Here again, we may cite the example of another princely merchant, Mr. Peabody, as an illustration of what might be undertaken and accomplished, if the whole body of wealthy men had the same spirit and would make similar efforts. The condition of the laboring class is too hard. They are too much neglected. It is not safe to leave them in this condition, and, more than this, it is not right to do so. Let us specify some particular instances of the ill-treatment or neglect of certain classes of workingmen. There are not a few who are most unreasonably and cruelly overworked both by day and by night, especially such as fill the most arduous kinds of employments about railroads. The life of the Southern negro slave was paradisaic, compared to that of the miserable drudges who work in the stables of our horse railways. The conductors and drivers of our city cars and omnibuses are worked to death on a pay so meagre that stealing has become a kind of recognized necessity of their situation. How can these men go to church on Sundays, approach the sacraments, or enjoy an innocent holiday? There is a wonderful amount of breath and ink expended in our enlightened city upon our religious rights and liberties. Yet the men who are employed to take care of the Central Park cannot find even a single half-hour on a Sunday morning to go to Mass.

Let any one who wishes to appreciate the blessing of living in this nineteenth century, in this land of light and liberty, and enjoying the fruits of that advanced civilization which communicates the greatest amount of happiness to the greatest number, take a tour of the New England factories. He will there see spectacles to rejoice his heart, if he is both a wealthy and a righteous man, and cause him to exclaim: “God, I thank thee that I am not as other men, especially as these Irishmen, and that my wife and children are not like theirs!” The writer of these articles has had a long and extensive experience as a missionary among the Catholic population of the factory towns of New England. In almost every instance, the persons who have had charge of the factories have been extremely polite and obliging during the continuance of the missions. Often they have manifested an interest in their success, and have granted facilities to the operatives to attend the exercises. So, undoubtedly, has it been with the masters of slaves on the Southern plantations. These things cannot, however, make slavery to be freedom, or the condition of operatives in factories one that is fit to exist in a society which pretends to be Christian or civilized. There are plenty of kind-hearted, philanthropic men among New England capitalists. We do not suppose that all those who give so largely to foreign missions and Bible societies have either made their fortunes by selling opium and rum to the heathen, or are[39] seeking merely to salve over a remorseful conscience and gain applause from men by their liberality. Yet even those who are conscientious and benevolent are carried along by a system which is bad and cruel. We do not mean that it is bad and cruel by accident merely. Many of its crimes and cruelties are purely accidental, and prove only the wickedness of particular persons. If a building is put up in such a slight manner that it falls and crushes hundreds, this is the crime of those particular persons who caused it to be built in such a manner. If the superintendent of a factory abuses his power to corrupt those who are under him, that is his own sin. But if the principles and laws of the system produce moral and physical misery independently of the individuals who carry it on, the system is essentially vicious. It is even the cause of the accidental and exceptional villanies which occur under it, because it tends to produce a cruel and tyrannical spirit.

The essential vice of the system lies in this. Capitalists seek to make exorbitant profits, without regard to anything but their own selfish interests. They care not for their operatives. These are, consequently, overworked, and employed at too tender an age, and to a great extent are underpaid. They are regarded and treated as working machines, and not as moral and religious beings. There is something repulsive, gloomy, and uncivilized about the aspect and surroundings of a factory or a factory town. The life which is led there has the most stern and sombre elements of the monastic institute, without the compensating charms and attractions. It has something also of the state-prison discipline, something of the poor-house, and a great deal of the Commune. There is a dismal and frightful regularity, like that of a treadmill, in the existence of the population of our factory towns of New England. Everything is arranged both in the mills and the boarding-houses with such clock-work regularity, and with such scanty allowance for any other functions of life except those which are physical, that the place would suit much better for a variety of apes with sufficient intelligence to work machines than for human beings. Sunday is free, it is true, thanks to the small amount of Christian law which still survives in our country. Catholics can therefore go to Mass and sermon, as they do in thousands, crowding the vast churches which they have built for themselves, in spite of the weariness of their week’s labor. But as for confession, it is made almost impossible, and without that they cannot enjoy the greatest of their Sunday privileges, holy communion. We will not enlarge on the obvious fact that the regular amount of work exacted is excessive. But what is to be said of those who take even more than the regular and excessive number of hours in the day from their overworked rational animals? At Manchester, N. H., during a mission in which the writer was engaged, the operatives of one factory were employed until half-past nine in the evening. Some of them, who made a desperate effort to snatch what they could of the advantages of the mission, complained to us that they were half-dead with fatigue, and too jaded to care whether they had souls or not. We asked if the extra hours of work were not voluntary. The answer was, that they were so in appearance and in pretence, but that they did not dare to refuse volunteering for extra work, for fear of being punished by the ill-will of their overseers, and even discharged[40] at the first convenient opportunity.

At another New England town, West Rutland, Vermont, we found that for a considerable time the workmen in the marble quarries had been forced to take store-pay for their wages. All the land, the houses, the different branches of business, were in the hands or under the control of a few capitalists, who would not permit any of the Irish laborers to acquire property or gain a permanent and independent footing on the soil.

These are scattered instances, but they tell a great deal, and well-informed readers will know how to fill up the picture for themselves. Many persons engaged in the system of which we are speaking will admit its evils and hardships. They excuse themselves, however, by the plea that they can personally do nothing toward changing it for a better one. Private efforts, they say, would only injure those who made them, by enabling the merciless and unscrupulous to fill up the market and sweep up all the profits. Legislation, they say, is hopeless, because controlled by these very unscrupulous capitalists. Senator Wilson has made this assertion in regard to New York. He says it is controlled by what he calls a feudal moneyed aristocracy. Others would probably extend the observation to a much wider sphere than New York. We do not generally agree in opinion with Senator Wilson. But we agree with him most heartily in condemning and denouncing such a regime as this. Only, we would suggest that a more appropriate name for it would be, instead of feudal, Foodle Aristocracy. It is not only cruel, but despicable. Mammon was the “meanest spirit that fell,” and the worship of the golden calf is the most degrading of all idolatries.

The miserably poor, the helpless, the suffering, and even the morally degraded and vicious classes of the community have also their claims on the charity of the rich. We have no wish to deny that these claims are very generally acknowledged in modern society, and a great deal done to acquit them, both by organized and by individual liberality and effort. We occasionally see extraordinary instances of generous philanthropy towards one or another suffering class of men. Very lately, we have seen the Roosevelt Hospital opened, an extensive institution founded by one of the old Knickerbocker gentlemen of New York, who left $900,000, the bulk of his fortune, for this purpose. The miseries of our social system are nevertheless so vast and fearful that the remedies furnished by either public or private care are wholly inadequate. Perhaps many persons will say that they are remediless. There are those who look on the world and life with cold and merciless eyes. It is a struggle of animals for their selfish enjoyment. Let each one look out for himself, and the unlucky take their chance. When such persons are prosperous and powerful, they scorn and oppress the weaker individuals who are dependent on them. Knowing their own depravity, they believe in that of all other men. They are therefore perfectly pitiless toward their fellow-men. “The tender mercies of the wicked are cruel.” Others who are not cruel are sad and disheartened. Although they mourn over the appalling miseries of life, they look on them as the inevitable destiny of the human race, and do not believe it is possible to help them. The philosophy of the first class is diabolical, that of the second is unworthy of Christians. We do not mean that they err in respect to the point of[41] fact that these miseries have always existed and will exist. But we do say that they err in ascribing them to the essential order of the world, to the constitution of society, to human destiny, and not to the wilful sins and negligences of men; they err in not believing that God has provided a remedy which on his part is sufficient and adequate for these miseries; and, therefore, they err practically, if they do not endeavor to apply that remedy as far as they can to those miseries with which they come in contact. Does one of these ask what hope there is of a fundamental reformation in society which will remedy the crying evils all benevolent persons see and deplore? We answer, that, with all its faults, the nineteenth century is really remarkable on account of the general interest which is felt in the improvement of the condition of the working and suffering classes. What is wanted is the knowledge and application of the right principles and means for accomplishing the result. Communism, secularism, and every kind of system which denies or ignores Christianity, is a remedy worse than the disease, which can only produce death. Imperfect or sectarian Christianity, although capable of producing partial and limited improvement, is too weak for the task which its more generous and enterprising professors exact from it, and endeavor to stimulate it to undertake. It is only the Catholic Church which is competent to such great and universal works. She alone has the wellspring of divine charity, and the supernatural agencies for distributing its health-giving, fructifying streams. Therefore, the hope of a thorough application of the divine remedy to the dreadful diseases of humanity is precisely commensurate with the hope of a return of the whole people of nominal Christendom to true Catholic Christianity.

Meanwhile, the duty of each individual is to do what he can for the benefit of those who are within the sphere of his own efforts or influence. Let him pay attention to his own dependents, and to the poor and suffering who are immediately around him. No one who has wealth, power, or influence of any kind will have any reason to complain that he lacks the opportunity of doing good to his fellow-men, if he is really desirous of doing it. Even if his position is altogether that of a private person, he can do his part, and that a good and noble one, in the general work of human redemption. If he has the power and the opportunity to act upon society, as a public man in a greater or lesser sphere, let him remember that he is a Christian, and act accordingly, and he will be doing precisely what those great and good men did in former times who were the creators and improvers of our Christian civilization.



The midnight chimes had just done ringing, and the old church was very still. All day long there had been comers and goers, and the altar had been wreathed, the stone church carpeted, the clustered pillars entwined with flowers and with evergreens. Round the altar, that stood among the carven stalls like a May-shrine in a dark forest-glade, was an amphitheatre of blossoming verdure; boys’ hands had piled up the lilies, the violets, the roses, the fuchsias; and monks’ hands had reared up the pyramid of palm, and ivory magnolia, and many-colored rhododendron beyond. The palms were golden, not green it is true, but they were very precious, and could not be spared to-day from the festive decoration, for they had come from Palestine, and only last Sunday had been offered to the church. An Eastern guest had walked in the procession on Palm Sunday, and had dedicated these lovely foreign boughs to the God of East and West alike.

Everything was ready for the early celebration of the Paschal Mass—even the golden chalice lay under its pall of satin upon the altar of sculptured cedar-wood. Perhaps the transverse timbers of the rare wood had not forgotten the time when the sea-breezes blew on them on Lebanon’s heights, and when the voice of the young crusader, Hugh of Devereux, had bidden them fall in the service of God and help to build him another sepulchre in a Christian land.

“The voice of the Lord breaketh the cedars!”

And now there was no one in the old church but the youngest chorister, Benignus, the nephew of the monk Cuthbert. The child was never happy save by the altar, and had no friend but Cuthbert, because he was of the blood of the lords of Devereux, and his poor betrayed mother was no more.

Midnight chimes are sweet, and the child had a weird passion for their sound, and would sit entranced while they slowly rang out an old well-known church-chant. But when they had done, and he thought there was silence, he heard a sound he knew not growing out of the chimes, but different from them, something graver than his childish companions’ prattle, something sweeter than the monks’ low tones, something that seemed like his own soul speaking to itself.

It came from the belfry, straight like an arrow of sound, and muffled itself in a faint echo among the flower-forest round the altar.

And presently he could make out the words:

“I have spoken to God, and offered him the last vows of dying Lent, and woven into song the speechless prayers breathed over and yet trembling on thy jewelled brim.”

And the child knew it was the angel of the bell who spoke.

And presently there rose a sound from the dim-robed altar, and the voice of the angel of the chalice made answer:[43] “My cup is as a bell uplifted, with its song of joy hushed in the very words of God, and drowned in the flood of ruby light that quivers, living and sensitive, within my golden walls.”

“And my cup,” returned the voice of the bell, “is as a chalice inverted, with its saving wealth outpoured in strains that reach the human ken; endowed with a speaking, living tongue that can touch the human heart.”

“I speak of men to God, while my fragile stem bears the wondrous purple flower of the precious blood, and while I am reared aloft with the divine burden weighing on me, even as the cross was reared up high over Jerusalem’s walls.”

“And I speak of God to men while my brazen clangor is heard afar like the trumpets of Israel before the crumbling walls of Jericho.”

And here the soft breeze from the open lancet-windows rustled among the sweet-smelling shrubs around the altar’s base, and, as the night-wind passed over them, their voices seemed to be blended into its sighs, and to have found an interpreter in its fitful sound.

“We are children of many climes, and some of us are exiles in this land, but under this roof we are at home again, and at this festival none of us are strangers. We too, in all our variety, have scarce one blossom among us that is not a chalice or a bell; that holds not high its crimson cup towards heaven to receive the crystal dew, or hangs not its white or purple bell with golden tongue towards the unheeding earth. On the altar of green turf, on the swaying columns of interwoven boughs, on the storm-tossed belfries of vine-surrounded trees, in southern swamp or northern forest, in tropical wilderness or rosy-tinted orchard, everywhere is stamped the semblance of the church, with chalices upreared, with bells anxiously bent human-ward. O brothers of the altar and the tower, let us sing together the same hymn.”

And the child Benignus said softly to himself:

“O God! make my heart a chalice, and my lips a Christian bell.”

The voices of the flower-chorus spoke again, and the lilies of the valley sang a silver peal behind their grass-green curtains:

“Every day we die by thousands, but our seed is borne afar, and drops in some fair nook at last, beside a running brook or beneath a spreading beech, even as the last echo of the unwearied bell that knocks at some heart’s door, far away in the mountains of worldly care, and strikes a well-known, long-silent chord, and draws the exile back to the fruitful plains of God’s own church.”

The voice from the wind-rocked steeple came in swift and loving answer:

“Even so, my blossom-sisters, for to us the word was given to increase and multiply and fill the earth, and at every step bring forth fresh glory and conquer fresh realms for the God of our creation.” Then the living gems stirred again under the breath of the still midnight breeze, and the voice came forth anew as the royal cactus and the purple morning-glories flashed like sun-touched clouds in the dusky foliage:

“Every day our lives are drained and our treasures rifled to adorn with living beauty the banquets of great men, and to strew the halls of marble palaces, and yet every day, as the sun comes forth again, our parent stem is laden once more with exhaustless riches and a more abundant harvest of loveliness, even as the lavished treasures and the scattered wealth of the daily chalice are ever being shed without intermission from the altar into the hearts of thankless men.”

And the sweet low voice came back from the shrouded altar:[44] “Yes, dear emblems of God’s loving prodigality, for hath he not said: ‘Cast your bread upon the waters, and after many days it shall return to thee‘’?”

The scarlet fuchsia shook its clusters of purple bells, planted on a blood-red cross, as if it would say to men that none could proclaim God save they proclaimed him from Calvary. The tall Nile lily, whose cup is as a spotless shroud wrapped round a golden nail, swayed in the night air as if whispering that the way to the resurrection lay across the instruments of the passion: the ivory-tinted roses, the first-born among their kind, whose clustering, half-blown buds made a sculptured reredos of living alabaster behind the altar-cross, wept tears of dew when the midnight breeze shook their curled petals, as if weeping like sinless virgins over the wrongs they knew only by name. A carpet of violets was spread below, the last offering of Lent, the fringes of the sweet pall of penance under whose folds the church spends her yearly vigil of reparation.

The heart of the child Benignus was breaking with joy and love, and he longed to be a flower himself, that he might sing the hymn the living grove had sung.

The voice of the angel of the bell answered his unspoken wish:

“Wish not that thou wert other than that thou art, for Jesus said, ‘Unless ye become even as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.’”

And the flowers sighed, and gave forth a sweeter fragrance, because they longed to be little children, and could not.

Then Benignus wished he might be an angel, if he could not be a flower, and the voice from the altar sounded very softly, so low he thought no one could hear it but himself:

“This wish will I put into my cup, and when to-morrow dawns, and Jesus finds the first-fruits of this new Easter laid at his feet, thou shalt have thy answer.”

Then came a soft chorus of welcome and congratulation, breaking forth among the flowery worshippers, but the angel of the bell held his peace.

And in the morning, when the sun flung his golden curtains across the east window and crowned the saints and virgins thereon with richer gems than living monarchs wear, the Paschal procession came winding through All Hallow’s church, and no one missed the little chorister Benignus. But when his turn in the anthem came, a voice seemed to float from some unseen corner, and a shower of bell-like crystal tones rang in triumphant cadence to the very roof, and no one could tell if it were Benignus or an angel singing. The organ ceased, and the monk Cuthbert looked anxiously along the lines of white-robed choristers, but the child was not there. Still the voice sang on, and it seemed as if it floated now from the chalice on the altar to the distant belfry-tower, and then back again to the fragrant forest of exotics in the choir. And Cuthbert, looking up among the half-opened buds of the early roses that were piled up directly over the tabernacle, thought he saw one more lovely than the others just break gently from the frail green stem, and fall in showering petals around the pall-covered chalice, at the very minute the wondrous voice ceased in one long reverberating “Alleluia.”

Then Cuthbert knew who had been singing and where Benignus was, and he sang the “Gloria in Excelsis” as he had never done before.

But the angel of the bell was sad, because the child would have helped him to bear abroad the message of God’s truth to men.



It is evident that we have reached a turning-point in the history of the world; that a crisis of terrible interest for the church, for Christian Europe, for peoples, and for nations, is at hand. It must, indeed, soon be decided whether Christianity shall continue to be, in the life of the nations, what from its very nature and design it is intended to be; whether it shall remain what it has been acknowledged to be since it overcame the heathenism of old, the light of the world, the supernatural leaven permeating all the relations of life, purifying and ennobling them; or whether it shall be cast out of public life as an illusion, and at most—and who knows how long even that?—be tolerated as a species of superstition. The nations—and especially the recently founded German Empire—must soon decide whether they shall accept as their basis the laws of eternal justice, whose root is in the holy and personal God, and in him alone; whether they will hold to that Christian civilization which reposes on the public recognition of Christianity, of the church as a divine institution not subject to the arbitrament of man; in fine, whether they will respect as sacred those prescriptive rights of mankind which every one must respect who believes in the divine government of the world—rights of which history is the evidence; or whether they will yield to the pressure of the revolution and of false science, throw Christianity and Christian civilization overboard, proclaim the present will of the dominant political powers or party the only and highest law of the state, and, having done this, to use their immense power to infuse this “modern” spirit and these “modern” principles into the life of the people, and force it on them by every means at their disposal, through legislation, government patronage, their system of public instruction, and the whole organization of society; in short, whether they will place naturalism and rationalism instead of Christianity, the vital principle of national and popular life, and thereby—no intelligent person can doubt it, for reason and experience conspire to teach it—hasten for the nations the inevitable catastrophe of which the burning of Paris was only a premonitory symptom.

And precisely at this fatal moment in the history of the world it is that, in Germany, a number of men, among them a few who have deserved well of the church, blinded to a degree which it seems hard to account for, have raised the standard of rebellion against their mother, the church, because the Œcumenical Council did not think fit to decide as they thought best, because it decided as it pleased the pastors of the church and the Holy Ghost. The foundation-stone of the church, laid by Christ himself, to preserve unity and love within it for ever, has become a stumbling-block to them. They have made shipwreck of the faith, and[46] burst the bonds of love that held them in union with their brethren in the faith. Following the example of those who before them rebelled against the church, they call themselves defenders of the faith, while denying the very principle on which all faith reposes. Proclaiming human science the supreme authority in matters of religion, placing it above the highest authority in the church, above the Pope and the council, above the assent of the whole Catholic world, they have ceased to be servants of God and of his church; they have gone over to the rationalism and naturalism which are striving so hard to do away with Christianity entirely, and to constitute themselves in its place a new cosmopolitan religion.

The turpitude of their rebellion against the church is equalled only by that of the means which they have adopted to defend it and to spread its principles. Repeating the worst and most perfidious slanders of the past against the church, and giving them out as the result of science, they proclaim to the world that the Apostolic See has for a thousand years been the seat of well-concocted fraud and deceit, and that in the most sacred of matters; that the Catholic Church is dangerous both to the state and to morals; and that the decree solemnly proclaimed by the Œcumenical Council, that Christ will for ever preserve his visible representative on earth from all error in faith and morals—a belief which has always been the key-stone of Catholic faith, Catholic life, and Catholic practice—is a doctrine inimical to the rights of the state. Under these pretexts, they require the state to deprive the Catholic Church of its rights, and of the liberty which has been guaranteed to it by the state, and not to recognize the church represented by the bishops and the Pope, but themselves, who have renounced all allegiance to it, as the legal Catholic Church, the only one recognized and promised protection by the state. Moreover, they desire that those Catholics who have remained faithful to the church shall be looked upon as recreant to the state, accusing them of want of patriotism. Designating all those peoples embraced in the Catholic Church by the name of the Romanists, they, in the name of what they designate Germanism, demand their oppression and extirpation.

And, we are sorry to say, these attempts have not been without some success. Individual governments have been induced to take steps against the church which, a short time ago, it was supposed it would be impossible to take, and which the Catholics living under those governments did nothing to warrant.

During this condition of affairs, the one hundred and twentieth Catholic Congress met in the second week of September in Mayence, to give expression in no weak or ambiguous terms to their faith, and to their views on the condition of things; and they did it with that unanimity and certainty which Catholic faith alone can give—a faith neither anxious nor troubled with doubt, or weakened by the spirit of the age.

This they did by their resolutions on the Roman question, on the Vatican Council, and on the more recent opposition that has been made to its decrees—and rightly; for, in the Roman question, the question of all external Christian law and order reaches its culminating point, as do theirs the constitution of the church itself, and the whole of Catholic faith, in the decrees of the Vatican Council.

The occupation of Rome is simply robbery—a crime against the church, against every individual Catholic[47] which nothing can justify, which no principle of international law can excuse or cover, which no prescription can make valid. The so-called guarantees made to the church by the Italian government can never be accepted, because they are based upon the false principle that the state alone has the right to declare under what conditions the church and its pastors shall exercise their functions as teachers, priests, and shepherds of the flock—functions which they exercise in virtue of the power conferred upon them by Jesus Christ himself; because these laws do not by any means guarantee to the Pope the free discharge of his supreme authority as chief pastor, and, moreover, because there is not the least security that these guarantees will be respected. The occupation of Rome and of the Quirinal is the culmination of the policy of the Italian revolution, and the success of that policy the disgrace of this age. That the governments of European nations have done nothing to defend the Pope is an injustice to their Catholic subjects, a violation of the law of nations, and paves the way, necessarily, to the violation of all law and the overthrow of all order. And this is why it is that Catholics must for ever discountenance all these acts, and oppose them by all legitimate means. And their opposition cannot be rightfully construed as insubordination to the powers that be, or as a want of patriotism on their part. On the contrary, Catholics may be sure that in so acting they will be doing their government and their country the greatest possible service. Such service has been rendered by the resolutions of the Catholic Congress in Mayence.

It was well that, at the first general meeting of the society after the occupation of Rome, its members should give expression to their thought on the wicked act by which, for the third time in this century, it was attempted to destroy the work founded by divine Providence since the christianizing of the world, in order to secure to the head of the church his liberty and the efficient discharge of the duties of his high office. Nor could the members of the society express themselves concerning this crime otherwise than in bold words of truth and justice—in words becoming an occasion when the interests of God and man are alike at stake—in words such as nature itself puts into the mouth of those who have been the victims of great injustice or great misfortune. Worldly policy may wait, and consider itself justified in waiting, to take account of circumstances; but for us Catholics there is but one thing to do when the question is simply this—whether Christ or Antichrist shall reign, namely, what the martyrs did under circumstances still more aggravating, what God himself has commanded us to do, what we see his representative on earth doing—to proclaim the truth to those in power before kings and peoples.

It was, if possible, yet more necessary that the Catholic Congress should make a public profession of its faith in the decrees of the Œcumenical Council of the Vatican, that it should raise its voice against those proceedings of the government which have no object but to hinder the Catholic Church in the declaration of its doctrines, and to lead or force Catholics into heresy. And on these points again the association, in its resolutions, speaks the truth, and expresses the Catholic view on them, in the plainest and most direct manner, without any show of diplomacy or of pedantry. We joyfully profess, say they, our[48] faith in everything which the church requires, particularly in the infallibility of the Pope teaching the universal church, and in the very sense in which the Vatican Council has defined it, do we believe it. And we are convinced that the definition of this truth in our time is no evil, but the work of a kind and good Providence, intended to strengthen the church, to preserve unity, to reclaim the erring. We reject with horror the caricature of the doctrine of Papal infallibility which the opponents of the Vatican Council have drawn, and we repudiate the slander that this doctrine or any other article of our faith is in conflict with our duties as subjects of our government, or with the allegiance which we owe our fatherland. We protest against the course of those governments which have endeavored to hinder the propagation of Catholic doctrine within their territories, and to favor the opposition to the church by their protecting the rebellion against it. In this manner, they have overstepped the bounds of their rightful authority, infringed the rights of conscience of their Catholic subjects, and made themselves responsible before God for a host of evils. The political principles which have led to these things are in conflict with the law of God, in fact with all law and order, and can never be recognized by Catholics as right or just. Yet are we not without the hope that the governments which have been guilty of these things will at no distant future forsake the unholy path upon which they have entered.

But the members of the Catholic Congress did not confine themselves to professing the Catholic faith, to raising a protesting voice against the encroachments on their liberties and on their rights—rights which should be ever inviolate; they pointed out the fertile source from which have flown as well the most recent evils as the more ancient ones which have done so much injury to the Catholic life of Germany. The source of all these evils, past as well as present, is in a science grounded on false principles, and which appropriates to itself exclusively, but not with any show of reason, the name of German science. These evils can be healed only by the cultivation of real Catholic science in Germany, and the most recent events demand absolutely that the reign of such a science should be inaugurated at once. But so long as the ancient institutions founded for Catholic purposes ignore, for the most part, the object of their being; when they have gone over, to a great extent, to infidelity or to secular management, it is extremely important, both to pastors and people, that new seats of science, of education, of real science and Christian education, should be established.

Such are the principal resolutions of the Catholic Congress held during the present year. What these resolutions contain is only the echo and essence of the thought of the assembly expressed in the orations and sayings of the members—the deep, unanimous, and undoubted convictions of all. These same thoughts found expression also in their addresses to the Holy Father, to the Bishop of Ermeland, to the Bavarian Episcopate, to the Bishops of Switzerland, as well as to the defenders of the Catholic faith in Italy and Austria. But is it right to assume that the voice of all Catholic Germany has been heard, and is heard, in the voice of this general meeting of Catholics? True it is that they would entirely misunderstand the essence and the spirit of the principles of the members of those meetings who would invest their doings[49] or their sayings as a society with any authority; but they would err no less grossly who would consider these meetings as mere party meetings, or as meaning nothing as merely the coming together of a few private individuals. From the very significance of this year’s meeting’s resolutions, it may not be amiss to examine the question somewhat more closely—how much importance is to be attached, what significance and authority such Catholic meetings may have.

These general meetings are nothing more than the coming together of believing Catholics. They do not assume to have any power or authority ecclesiastical or political. They have nothing in their own right that entitles them to be considered as possessed of such power or authority, nor have they a power of attorney of any kind to represent any one else in these meetings.

In the church no one has any power whatever except those to whom Christ has granted it, and only such power as he conferred upon them. But he has granted no power to any one in the church but to Peter and the apostles. On this account the Catholic Church recognizes no representatives, save only the pope and the bishops. There is no such thing among Catholics as lay-participation in the government of the church. Laymen have no power in church government that is theirs of right, and they in no manner take the place of or represent even the inferior clergy. Every tendency in that direction is heretical and schismatical.

The society in question, and all other societies of the same nature, have recognized, acted upon, this principle from the beginning. Being Catholics and wishing to remain Catholics, they have never interfered in the government of the church. On the contrary, they consider it their duty to show to others the example of the most religious submission to the Pope and the bishops in matters relating to faith and ecclesiastical discipline. They, therefore, represent no party in the church. The church wants no parties and recognizes no parties within its bosom. Following the church, the general meeting of Catholics negatives every division in the body of the church. Its only desire is to find itself always one with the church in all things, to be simply Catholic and nothing else.

There is no use in wasting words to show that the Catholic Congress and other Catholic societies claim no power of any kind whatever in the state. They neither represent a political party, nor do they belong to any, nor will they ever constitute themselves a political party in the state.

True, the members of the societies are very far removed, as they ought to be, from an unreasonable, unmanly, unchristian, and un-Catholic indifference in matters pertaining to the nation. They are by no means of opinion that it matters nothing to a Catholic to which party in the country he belongs. They believe firmly that it is the duty of Catholics, as well as their right, to watch over the rights of the church and of its members, and to defend them by the exercise of their political franchises. They do not, however, doubt that it is perfectly legitimate for Catholics, wherever they are, to organize themselves into a party for the exercise of their political rights. But as the political life of every individual Catholic is different from his religious life, and that, although he may be guided in his politics by the principles of Christianity, in like manner these associations of Catholics, inasmuch as they are Catholic, are something[50] higher and broader than mere political associations. Their objects are not the political, but the religious and ecclesiastical rights of Catholics. This has been the universal understanding of the members of these associations from the very beginning of their organizations. These have been the principles which have always guided them, and which they have found it well to be guided by. These associations have never allowed themselves to forget these principles. They have never forgotten them, not even in times of the greatest political excitement. And in the last general meeting, the members of the association did not swerve from these principles by as much as a hair’s breadth.

And precisely because these associations have held to their principles as Catholics, to the very principles we have been mentioning above, are they entitled to attention. They manifest, in a manner that can be relied upon, the mind and conviction, the determination and feeling, of those who are true to the church and to the faith. It thus happens that this general meeting of Catholics has given expression to the thought and feeling of the Catholic clergy and Catholic people. And hence it is that those who would learn what Catholics think and feel on the stirring questions of the present must turn their attention to the resolutions of this Catholic Congress. There is unmistakable evidence that these general meetings express the feeling and ideas common to all Catholics. For twenty-three years they have enjoyed the complete confidence of the bishops of the church. The Holy Father and the bishops of Germany have never hesitated to bless and to approve the efforts of the Catholic association. This were impossible if these meetings did not give expression to the Catholic mind on the questions of the day, if there were any danger in them of a departure from the principles of the faith or of the church. Moreover, we may ask, Who are they that take part in these meetings? They are precisely those persons who with living faith partake of the sacraments, and are in habitual attendance at the services of the church, and in the life of the church generally. During the twenty-three years of their existence, these Catholic associations have in every German diocese and everywhere been one with the clergy on all subjects. Zealous and true Catholics of every social position have been largely represented in them. Hither have come the Catholic nobleman, the Catholic of the middle class, the Catholic peasant, the physician of souls—the priest himself sprung from the people—the Catholic savant, the teacher, author, and publicist. Here, too, have been represented those Catholic societies made up of those who really love the church. In short, in those societies are represented those even who are most despised and seldom represented anywhere else. The members of the Catholic Congress are not representatives of their individual opinions; they seek no worldly interest. It were more than folly for any one to come to those meetings with any such intention. Neither do these meetings represent any party on which they are dependent. They represent no majority or minority to whom they are responsible. Their faith and Catholic feeling it is that bring them to these meetings, and those they have in common with the hundreds and thousands from whose midst they come. There is a yet stronger argument to show that these general assemblies really represent the mind of all true Catholics. It is their unanimity on all questions[51] bearing on religion and on the church—a mark which belongs to Catholics exclusively.

After all this, we feel ourselves warranted to say that these meetings express decidedly the feelings and convictions of those Catholics who are worthy of the name.

But these general assemblies not only give expression to the principles and sentiments of Catholics on the questions of the day, they also tend to keep Catholic life awake and active. And just here is the great use of Catholic societies. There never was a more senseless saying than this: “We need no special societies; our society is the Catholic Church.” Precisely because the Catholic Church is a divine and all-embracing society, the society of societies, does it from its inexhaustible fertility call forth from its own bosom, in all times, other smaller societies—societies calculated to meet the peculiar wants of the time. The life of Christian societies, of church societies, is, indeed, a standard by which Catholic life at any particular time or place may be measured. And in our own day, when the spirit of evil more than ever seeks the destruction of the church, mimicking it as he does after his own fashion—to leave the power which societies are calculated to wield entirely to the enemies of Christianity, to those governed exclusively by the spirit of the world, would be to be more than blind.

At the general meeting held at Düsseldorf, Dr. Marx agreed to take upon himself the difficult task of collecting the statistics of the Catholic societies of Germany. At the assembly held this year, he presented the results of his labors. His work is imperfect, it is true, but it is a foundation on which others may build. It embraces the statistics of most of the German dioceses, and of a number of those of Austria.

The amount of vitality in anything or anywhere cannot be made to appear in a table of statistics, and the best things often thrive in secret. Hence it is that the Catholic life of Germany is much greater than even these tables or any others would give one reason to believe. On the other hand, much that appears on paper in statistics of this kind is of no importance whatever, or of almost no importance. Yet the statistical tables before us demonstrate that numerous live Catholic associations, and of the most varied character, have arisen during the last twenty-three years, and that each general assembly has made itself felt—now in one place, now in another—furthering the creation of such local associations. Societies purely religious, such as brotherhoods, sodalities, congregations, are not at all or scarcely at all referred to in these tables. It was part of the plan of the work that they should be excluded from its tables. Yet they are of the very first importance to the life of the church. Well-conducted societies and sodalities for young people and of adults like those which, thanks be to God, are springing up on every side, and particularly in the Rhine lands, are the best nurseries of real Catholics. Rightly, therefore, do these general assemblies continue to commend such societies, as the general assembly did this year the “Society of Young Merchants,” which was so worthily represented at the meeting. Neither have our Christian social societies and associations been noticed in these tables. And for this reason, again, are we much richer in associations than we should suppose from these tables. On the other hand, these statistics combine with daily experience to show that we are yet only in the[52] beginning of the development of this society-life; that, much as we have to be thankful for, the time has not yet come when we can repose upon our laurels. Rather must we work with all our strength, with inexhaustible patience and devotion at the establishment of Catholic societies. In many parts of Catholic Germany there are no, or scarcely any, Catholic societies, that is, live societies, while in others those which have been begun are now neglected. It is so convenient to allow things to go on in the old way, and so hard—for the most modest association demands some sacrifice on the part of individuals—to establish anything new. Yet a thing which in the great struggle between the church and Antichrist is one of the most powerful means of victory is really worth the highest sacrifice. Is it not time to see that all Christian men should organize themselves into societies, when infidels and free-thinkers so-called are organizing on every side to draw everything to themselves? Our indolence would be all the worse, all the more inexcusable, were we to yield the field to our adversaries, since we, whenever there is a question of real live associations, possess so great an advantage over every other body, not on account of our own merits, but because of the spirit and strength of Catholic Christendom. Let the world surpass us in material means, let it be far above us in its appeal to worldly interests; it is wasting the vital power of faith and Catholic love, which alone are able to establish and to develop associations possessed of real life—associations which can be productive of real good.

How true this is, is shown by the history of the Catholic association founded by the departed but never-to-be-forgotten Kolping. Based only on Catholic faith and relying for support on the very simplest of human means, it has during the past twenty-five years had a steady growth and accomplished untold good. And it will ever be so, so long as it holds to the simple Catholic principles of Kolping. To these associations of young people founded by Kolping others have been joined recently—associations in which the masters of these young people meet. To complete the good work, there is nothing now needed but similar societies for apprentices.

What Kolping did for young mechanics must, with suitable modifications, be now done for those of both sexes occupied in factories and other such establishments. This is the most important step that can be taken by Catholics, to solve certain social questions, and which can be solved only on Catholic principles. Indeed, the greatest social danger of the age is the dechristianization and demoralization of the laboring classes of mechanics and the employees in manufacturing establishments. This dechristianization and demoralization are, to a great extent, the cause of the wretchedness of these classes, and make that wretchedness, even under the most favorable circumstances, incurable. What enormous dimensions has this evil assumed under the, in part at least, so unnatural, social, and economic relations which modern liberal political economy has brought about! But even the evils resulting from this condition of affairs might be healed, if the laboring classes could be restored to Christianity. The Society of Young Mechanics, founded by Kolping, demonstrates that, even under the most unfavorable circumstances, the laboring classes can be redeemed from evil and reclaimed to right, provided they can be made to enter the atmosphere[53] of Christianity in which the members of these societies live. Let us work unanimously and for the same object, and we shall see the number of Christian laborers increase. We shall see them living more and more in one another, associating with one another, and being strengthened by that association. When we have such men, and not before, it will be possible to make those associations really useful in the improvement of the material condition of the laboring classes. So long, indeed, as the laboring classes themselves remain unchristian and immoral, it will be impossible to do anything for their material improvement; for they will never be satisfied. Only by strengthening the spirit of Christianity in all classes of society can legislation itself be made Christian, and it will become Christian just in proportion as the several classes of society become Christian.

Let us now examine in brief the most important movements which the general assembly of this year has initiated toward the establishing of Catholic societies.

For a number of years, the principal subject that has engaged one section of the Catholic Congress is the Christian solution of the so-called social question. Through the efforts of the assembly, the question has been fairly brought before the clergy and the laity. The session of this year has, under this head, recommended the establishment of Christian social associations, the raising of helping funds, the encouragement of appropriate literature, the circulation of the Christian Social Journal, and the erection of dwellings for the laboring classes. They have pointed out how important it is to study on every hand the condition of the laboring classes, in order to discover the principles on which we must proceed, in order to legislate concerning labor and the laboring classes in a just and Christian manner.

The general assembly has, moreover, recommended the Catholic missionary associations in the most emphatic manner. Among these, the first place belongs to the Society of St. Francis Xavier for Foreign Missions, and the Society of St. Boniface.

Considering the terrible blows that have fallen upon France and upon Rome, it has become our duty to redouble our efforts in behalf of the missions to foreign parts, and in behalf of the Society of St. Francis Xavier; for on those efforts must depend, in a great measure, the permanency and spread of Catholic missions the world over. Unfortunately, the Society of St. Francis Xavier has gone backward rather than forward, in Germany, during the last ten years. In many places it has ceded to other societies. And yet it should not be so. The Society of St. Francis Xavier is and must remain the first and most important of all missionary associations. It embraces the missions to all parts of the world, and they all look to it for support. Even Germany has been helped by it more than by any other association; and now, although the Society of St. Boniface has extended so widely, it cannot be dispensed with. Therefore it is that all Catholics, and, above all, the clergy, who are always in all matters pertaining to Christianity the divinely appointed leaders of the people, should take the deepest interest in the Society of St. Francis Xavier. The Society of St. Boniface will suffer nothing from this. On the contrary, the more the Catholic spirit is strengthened, the more will this and every other Catholic society thrive. As truly as the church embraces the whole world, so truly can we not be[54] real Catholics if we feel an interest only in the missions of our own country, but none in the missions to other parts of the world.

True it is that charity demands us to look first to the wants of those who are our nearest neighbors. And on this account the Society of St. Boniface cannot be too strongly recommended to our benevolence. The general meeting has done its duty in this matter. It has recommended the society in very earnest terms.

Besides these great societies, there are other smaller ones with special objects of charity in view—smaller, but by no means unimportant. The Society of the Holy Sepulchre is, independently of its religious object, the most powerful auxiliary of the missions in the East. The Society of St. Joseph is doing the work of the Society of St. Boniface among the large and exposed Catholic German population in large and foreign cities, and especially such cosmopolitan cities as Paris and London.

A work of the highest importance is to care for the emigrants to America. Here it is possible to do a great deal with little means. The Committee on Emigration, presided over by Prince von Isenburg, has placed its cards of recommendation at the disposal of all parish priests, in order that emigrants presenting those cards to the agents of the Catholic Emigration Society in America may receive proper advice and direction in their new homes, and—who would have imagined it?—those cards of recommendation have been used much less than one might rightfully expect.

How great is sometimes our ignorance or indifference concerning the interests of religion! It was, certainly, only right that the general assembly of this year should have approved the founding of an association, that of the Archangel Raphael, whose sole object it is, besides the saying of a few prayers for the success of this movement in behalf of the emigrants, to defray the heavy expenses of the same, and thus to relieve the president of the committee of that charge. We hear many exclaim just here, We have too many associations, too many meetings! We know very well that, when societies increase beyond measure, even when those societies are benevolent ones, there may be danger. But that there may be danger is no reason why we should not encourage the organization of such societies when they may be necessary or useful. We do not, however, wish to blame the taking of steps to prevent too great a competition of societies having charitable or other objects in view.

The Catholic Congress this year could not well help—as, indeed, all those which preceded it did—considering the school question. There can be no question that the anti-Christian party in the state is straining every nerve to do away, by means of legislation, with the right of Catholic parents to a Catholic education of their children in Catholic schools—with the right of the church to instruct her people in a Catholic manner, and to found institutions for that purpose. The members of the assembly spoke on these matters in no ambiguous terms, and took, besides, into consideration what they should do in case the state, siding with the liberalism of the day, should banish the Catholic religion, the Catholic Church, from the schools of the nation. Should this happen, there was nothing left but to appeal to the consciences of parents. It then became the duty of bishops to tell their people that it was not allowed[55] them to send their children to unchristian schools. Liberty of education must be defended to the utmost, and every sacrifice made in order to give Catholic children opportunities for a Catholic education from the primary schools to the university. But the impression is not hereby intended to be conveyed that in this Catholics see the salvation of the church, of her children, and of the nation. No; they will always remind princes and states that it is their solemn duty to govern a Christian people in a Christian manner, and, leaving out of consideration the sacredness of the foundations and the right of the church to teach, to give their Catholic subjects Catholic schools—schools standing in proper relations with the church.

Yet, on account of the more universal questions, and the great contests which the church is waging for her most important possessions, for the independence and for the integrity of its faith, the school question, even at this meeting, was held somewhat in the background.

The general assembly was content with adopting a few resolutions, embodying the simple principles which must guide Catholics, should the state break with the church on the school question, and, violating the natural and prescriptive rights of Catholics, introduce a system of non-Catholic schools—principles not sufficiently recognized by even well-meaning Catholics. These resolutions are worded thus: “The monopoly of the school system by the state is an unwarranted restriction of liberty of conscience, and therefore to be opposed by all Catholics. Very many of the schools have notoriously been founded by Catholics, and it is only just that they should continue to accomplish those ends for which they are established. In these schools, and in all Catholic schools yet to be established, the Catholic Church must possess perfect and unrestricted liberty in its capacity as a teacher.” Thus, while the school question was not the most prominent before the general assembly, the words spoken at that meeting will not, we hope, be without beneficial results in the province of Catholic education.

All rights and liberties avail nothing in the end if Catholic education itself is not what it ought to be. And the great battle that is waging, that education may not be deprived of its Christian character, can be won by us only on condition that teachers and educators themselves, as well as parents and the clergy, understand precisely the full bearing of the question.

It was, therefore, a happy thought to unite teachers, clergy, and parents into one grand society, in order to further the great matter of Christian education—a matter on which our whole future for weal or woe depends. The association of teachers founded in Bavaria, approved by the bishops, embracing among its members many distinguished men, and directed by one evidently called by God to fill that very position, Ludwig Aner, has sought and is seeking to carry this thought into practice. The Catholic Congress held at Düsseldorf had already called attention to the importance of establishing similar societies elsewhere, only modified in their character by the different nature of place or other circumstances. The realization of this thought was a matter for the meeting at Mayence to consider more closely yet. There was here assembled a goodly number of educators and friends of youth from every part of Germany, among them a number of the most widely known teachers in the country; and they took occasion to most earnestly confer[56] on this matter each day of the meeting. They gave a general plan, and threw out some very practical hints for the organization of Catholic educational associations.

We give them here with the hope that they may prove as fertile in blessings as did those thrown out on a former occasion, and which resulted in the Society of St. Boniface, and in the Catholic Association for Young Men, so often recommended by those meetings since.

The matter is one of at least as much importance, and the general plan of the organization of these societies at least as simple and practical. Here are the broad outlines of the plan: “The task of education, rendered more than ever before difficult on account of the times in which we live, and the school question, now everywhere looming into such immense proportions, render the foundation of Catholic educational institutions imperative.”

The Mayence Association of Teachers—pointing to the association already existing in Bavaria—suggests the following as the ground principles of the new associations:

I. The Catholic educational associations recognize as their foundation, first and last, the faith of the Catholic Church.

II. Excluding all party issues, their only object is the furtherance of the temporal and eternal welfare of youth.

III. The Catholic educational associations desire that the youth of the age should profit by all that the world has of good, and that in their education all that it has of evil should be avoided.

Therefore, they are ready to accept and to use all that there is of real worth in the educational systems of the age, all that can promote real progress.

IV. These associations consider the proper education of youth in the family, the schools, and later in life, that is, after the youth have left the schools, as their exclusive object.

Therefore is it that they accept as members, parents, teachers, the clergy, and all who, in any manner, are interested in the education of youth.

V. They recommend to these associations, 1. The defence and propagation of Catholic principles in education by word, writing, and action. 2. The defence of the rights of parents to the Christian education and Christian instruction of their children. 3. The improvement of the family education of children, of schools, and the providing of means for the continuance of education after children leave schools. 4. The furtherance of the interests of teachers, to support them in their efforts in the direction of education, and particularly to help to elevate their material and social position; the collecting of funds to aid in the education of teachers, and in the support of their widows. 5. The encouragement of literature bearing on the interests of education. 6. Founding and caring for educational institutions of all kinds—schools for children, boys, girls, apprentices, etc.

VI. The means for attaining the objects of these associations are, besides the means suggested by the very nature of our holy religion, 1. Periodicals; 2. Appropriate publications for teachers and for families; 3. The establishment of libraries and literary associations; 4. Co-operating with other associations—the pecuniary assistance needed in any case to be obtained by regular fees from the members, presents, etc.

VII. The getting up of particular by-laws to be left to the associations from each separate province, but the by-laws to be got up in such a manner[57] that the above principles be not ignored.

The elevation of the tone and the support of the Catholic press must ever be one of the principal objects of all Catholic associations, and of the general meetings.

This year a great number of Catholic publishers and editors came together at this meeting. All the principal organs of the Catholic daily press were represented. The principal object gained was that they became acquainted with one another, which is the first step towards their understanding and appreciating one another.

As far as the press is concerned, we Catholics have nothing to do but to look at things just as they stand. It is certain that the unrestricted freedom of the press, which every one is ready to abuse, and which allows every one to constitute himself a teacher of the public, can be defended neither on principles of reason nor of faith. It is certain, too, that the rank growth of periodicals which has followed with all its attendant evils, and the heterogeneous character of the reading of a great many people, is a deplorable evil. But as, unfortunately, an unchristian press is guaranteed the fullest liberty and the evils that flow from that liberty, are widely spread, it becomes not only our privilege, but our solemn duty to combat the unchristian by a really Christian press—a matter on which the church and the head of the church have spoken in an unmistakable manner. Yes, it is absolutely necessary to call a Catholic journal into existence on every hand, and to spare no sacrifice to do so. The beginnings of the Catholic press have been everywhere small, and those who have interested themselves in it have everywhere had to contend with untold difficulties. This is true particularly of the larger journals, which, to enable them to compete with other journals, need support from other sources besides that derived from subscriptions and advertisements. It is certainly the duty of Catholics, out of pure love for God and for the church, to establish Catholic press associations, in order to provide means for the support of Catholic papers, just as the government and political parties find funds to support their own organs. The financial difficulties which the larger journals have to fear consist sometimes only in the apprehension of too great a competition on the part of smaller or other journals. There may be such a thing as a reprehensible competition, when, for example, as in the same locality attempts are made to found or establish new journals of the same nature as those already existing, when those already existing are sufficient to supply the demand. But, on the whole, we have by no means thus far enough Catholic papers. There was a time, and it is not yet entirely over, when Catholic Germany had very few papers among the daily press of the country. And almost every one of these few papers had an equal prospect, and it naturally enough seemed to be the ambition of the editor or proprietor of each to make his paper the central organ of the whole of Catholic Germany.

Naturally enough, too, those pecuniarily or otherwise interested in these journals looked with a rather jealous eye upon all attempts to found other Catholic journals. Whenever a new paper was established, the old ones lost a number of subscribers, and sometimes fears were entertained for the existence of the older papers themselves. But experience has shown that these fears were unfounded. Wherever[58] and whenever a paper was properly managed and ably edited, it has contrived to live and to do well. Thus competition has, on the whole, worked advantageously rather than otherwise.

If we look at the matter closely, we will see that it is quite an abnormal state of affairs that Catholic Germany should possess so few of the larger political papers. Compared with the time when Catholics had no press at all, the existence of even one good paper through which they can give expression to their thoughts is a great blessing and a great gain; but that certainly does not enable them to give their voice that weight in the questions of the day to which it is entitled. Besides, it must be remembered that, if Catholics have not this class of papers, they will take periodicals which are not Catholic. Experience teaches, and it might be expected from the very nature of things that a paper can rarely obtain a very large circulation outside of the locality in which it is published. Outside of these bounds it will find only a few isolated subscribers. Hence it follows that every large city ought to have its own Catholic paper, one that will worthily represent it.

These papers outside of the place of their publication will thus find a number of subscribers—a number which will always depend upon the ability with which they are edited, the reliability of the views they advocate, and the interest which on other grounds they may awaken. We cannot, however, be satisfied with a so-called central organ, or with a small number of large papers. No, every large city should have its Catholic paper, and support it, cost what it may. We thank God that such papers have, during the past year, been established in many parts. That such a journal should be established in the capital of the new German Empire, at the seat of government, was an evident necessity; and it is one of the most pleasant events in the history of our time that a paper like the Germania should have in a short time taken its position as a first-class and widely circulated Catholic journal.

All our already existing Catholic journals, and all those to be hereafter established, instead of hindering, will help one another, and that from the very fact that they exist; for, the stronger the Catholic press becomes, the more the attention of the nation is called to it, the more secure must become the existence of each individual journal. Therefore, we hope that there will be no jealousy between those interested in different Catholic journals; that, on the contrary, they will help support one another at all times. Still more important is it to take a proper view of the smaller local press. It would be a great absurdity were Catholics to neglect the establishment of smaller Catholic journals lest they should interfere or compete with the larger ones. This competition is not dangerous; but it is dangerous to put no antagonist in the field to meet and to oppose the unchristian press in smaller places. The large journals can neither be paid for nor read by the vast majority of the inhabitants of such places—and does it not seem wrong to leave them, or the Catholics among them, to the evil influence of a press totally antagonistic to the faith? The establishment and support of such papers is not hard, and the financial difficulties which stand in the way of the larger papers for the larger cities are not to be here encountered. Wherever the matter of the establishment of such papers has been rightly taken[59] in hand, it has proved successful. If the clergy only take the matter under advisement, they will find those willing and able to carry the matter through. It is not a very hard matter to purchase a press and find subscribers in such places. A feature which will contribute not a little to aid in the matter is the finding of the proper person to carry the papers around and to canvass for subscribers and advertisements. By being thus practical, Catholic men have established Catholic papers in localities where one might have despaired of ever establishing them; and not only have they been established, but they have succeeded. No matter what the condition of our press, it is far from being in a state to despair of. Oh! if the children of light were only as wise as the children of the world, we should witness wonders. It is true that evil makes its way in this world better than goodness does; but it is also true that goodness does not prosper, because those who represent it take the matter too lightly, or do not go about it as they should. More is often done for the worst cause than men are willing to do or to sacrifice for the best. A great deal has of late years been done for the local press, and we sincerely hope that a great deal more will be done and more universally, and need requires us not only to pray, but to act and make sacrifices.

Other proposals were made at the general meeting to carry out projects, which of course the general meeting itself could neither undertake nor perfect, as, for instance, the furtherance of this or that literary undertaking; yet these proposals are not without their use. They suggest something or call attention to something already existing. Thus, at the present general meeting the establishment of a journal as the organ for the various associations of young Catholics was recommended. The proposer of the resolution was informed that there already existed a journal of that character, and a very good one; that it was published by the associations of young Catholics in Austria, and edited in a very able manner, under the name of the Bund in Vienna; and the general meeting, therefore, recommended it for the purpose named. Many other things relating to the press were touched upon. We feel assured that the general meeting has done much for the Catholic press of the whole country.

We pass over many things bearing on Catholic charity, which ever engages anew the attention of the general meeting. We can only mention that the members of St. Vincent’s Association held a special meeting.

May the blessing of God, which has never failed the Catholic Congress, bless their efforts of this year!





Fleurange’s education did not allow her to yield to her feelings without bringing herself to an account for them, and it was surprising she had thus unresistingly allowed herself to be swayed so long by a vague and unreasonable preoccupation. And could there be one more so than this about an unknown person—a stranger she had only had a glimpse of, with whom she had not exchanged a single word, and whom she would probably never behold again? This was the third time she had heard him spoken of since the day she saw him in her father’s studio, and each time she felt agitated and disturbed. When questioned by Dr. Leblanc, her first emotion was overpowered by surprise, and especially by the sad remembrances awakened. Afterwards, when Julian Steinberg mentioned Count George at the Christmas dinner, his name gave her a thrill, but she attributed this keen sensation to a natural interest in the hitherto unknown individual who purchased the picture which had played so important a rôle in her life. But this time the quickened pulsations of her heart and the ardent curiosity with which she listened to every word that was uttered were succeeded by a prolonged reverie which almost merited the name of madness. “Yes, Julian was right! That is really what he looks like!” she exclaimed aloud. And every hero with whom history, poetry, or old legends had peopled her imagination, passed one by one before her, but always under the same form. Then, as there is no hero without heroic feats, and no heroism without combats and perils, a series of terrible events succeeded each other in her waking dream—battles, shipwrecks, desperate enterprises, and dangers of all kinds, in which the same person was the chief actor, and in all these phantasmagoric adventures she saw herself enacting an inexplicable and indistinct part.

A whole hour passed thus, but the declining day recalled a habit contracted in childhood which changed the current of her thoughts and brought her to herself. It was sunset—in Italy, the hour of the Ave Maria. Fleurange never forgot it. Every evening at that hour, a short prayer rose from her heart to her lips.

Every one is aware of the power of association. We have all felt the influence of a tone, a flower, a perfume, and even things more trifling, in recalling a host of remembrances[61] of which no one else could see the connection. What a natural and touching thought, then, to associate a holy memory with the hour that links day with night!—the hour of twilight, when the dazzling sunlight is fading away, work is suspended, and propitious leisure brings on long, sweet, and sometimes dangerous reveries! In such a case, it is not surprising the evening star becomes a safeguard. Has not the effect it had on Fleurange been experienced a thousand times by others?

A sudden clearness of perception, strength to prevail over all earthly phantoms, an aspiration towards heaven, an instantaneous revival of early impressions, an influx of salutary thoughts dispelling the confused, illusory ideas floating in her mind—such was the effect now produced by the remembrance indissolubly associated with that evening hour. She resolutely got up. Her attitude, that had been languishing, her look lost in space, were now transformed. She awoke to a sense of duty, and the feeling was not a transient one. What was this madness that had overpowered her? Putting this question to herself brought a blush of confusion to her face, and made her resolve to resist and overcome reveries so vain and absurd. And to this end she would cut them short. She reopened her note-book, and began by tearing out the page on which was the name but just written; then, with no further examination of her thoughts, even for the purpose of self-reproach, which would have been another way of prolonging them, she seated herself at her table, and took up a volume of Dante which lay there. She had promised Clement to mark some passages of the canto they read together the evening before, and to add some notes from her own memory. She at once set herself to work, and endeavored to give her whole mind to the occupation. It is often easier, we all know, to abstain from an act than to repress a thought. Perhaps the volition is at fault in the latter case; but Fleurange was so firmly resolved to obtain a victory of this kind that, at the end of half an hour’s effort to keep her mind on her work, she thought herself successful. She would have been more sure of herself had she foreseen all that was so soon to come to her aid, and banish from her mind for a long time all vain illusions, vague reveries, and especially all exclusive self-preoccupation.

It was quite dark when she rose from the table. She heard the clock strike, and felt ashamed of remaining so long in her room by herself, at a time she should have been unusually attentive to others. This was the last evening Clara would spend at home previous to her marriage, and it ended a period of unalloyed happiness in the Old Mansion. One place in the family was about to be vacated, a beloved form disappear, a cherished one cease to make part of their daily life. They would probably see each other again, but it would not be as before. The happiness of her who was to leave them would change its nature, but even her mother hoped she would be so happy as never to regret the paternal roof. Clara’s smiling face was grave and tearful to-day, as her tender glances wandered from her parents to her brothers and sisters, and lingered lovingly on the old walls she was about to leave. Julian was terrified by her melancholy appearance, but felt reassured when Clara, smiling and weeping at the same time, said to him naïvely:


“Julian, it is you that I love! To-morrow I shall leave them all for you, and I truly feel I never could give you up for them. Is not this enough?”

“No. If I do not see you calm and full of trust, I shall not enjoy my happiness.”

“My trust in you is boundless.”

“And yet you tremble, and your eyes are turned away.”

“Because the unknown happiness of a new life makes me anxious, and terrifies me in spite of myself.—I tremble, I acknowledge, but I do not hesitate. I am afraid, but I wish to be yours, and no fear would induce me to resume the past or repulse the future—for the future is you!”

It may surprise some to learn that this young girl, in speaking to her betrothed of their approaching union, expressed unawares the sentiments death inspires in those souls whose love extends beyond the grave, and who, triumphing over their weakness and limited knowledge, ardently long, in spite of their fears, for the eternal union that awaits them.

One of these beings, holy and gifted, being asked, as her life was ebbing away, what impression the prospect of death made on her, hesitated, and then replied:

“The impression that the thought of marriage produces on a young girl who loves, and yet trembles—who fears union, but desires it.”

Fleurange, when she left her chamber, went down to the gallery, where she expected to find her cousins, but it was empty. The preparations for the morrow caused an unusual disorder throughout the house, generally so quiet and well-ordered. Clara was doubtless with her mother, but where was Hilda? The latter, she knew, would have another sad farewell to utter the following day, and she reproached herself for having so long lost sight of this fact. She passed through the gallery and opened the door of the library, where she found her whom she was seeking. Ludwig Dornthal and Hansfelt were talking together, and near them Hilda, mute, pale, and motionless, was listening, without taking any part in the conversation that was going on before her.

Hansfelt was talking to this friend of his departure, and spoke as one who was never to return. He was apparently thinking of nothing but their long friendship, their youth passed together, and the end of their companionship, but his accents were profoundly melancholy, and all the harmony of his soul seemed disturbed.

Ludwig, however, was extremely agitated, and, while replying to his friend, looked attentively and anxiously, from time to time, at his daughter. Fleurange softly approached her; Hilda’s cold hand returned her pressure. “I am glad you have come,” she said in a low tone, “very glad.” Fleurange did not venture to make any reply, and scarcely looked at her, for fear of increasing her emotion by appearing to observe it. Seeing an open jewel-case lying on the table, she exclaimed—glad to find something to say: “What a beautiful bracelet!”

“It is a wedding present Hansfelt has just brought Clara,” said the professor.

“Yes, a wedding present, and a parting gift which Ludwig has allowed me to offer one of his daughters,” said Hansfelt. “As for the other,” continued he in a troubled tone,[63] “the time for her wedding presents will doubtless soon come also, but the time for a parting gift has already arrived. Ludwig, in memory of the pleasant years during which I have seen her grow up, and as a souvenir of this last day, will you allow me to give Hilda this ring?”

The professor made no reply.

Hansfelt continued: “In truth, a departure like mine is so much like death, that it gives me a similar liberty to say anything. Hilda, why should I not acknowledge it to you now in his presence? It will do no harm. Well, you shall know, then, that the old poet, whose forehead is more wrinkled than your father’s, would perhaps be foolish enough to forget his age were he to remain near you. It is therefore well for him to go.”

He took the young girl’s icy hand in his. “If he were younger,” he continued, forcing himself to smile, “he might perhaps obtain the right to give you a different ring than this.”—He stopped alarmed. Hilda’s face had become frightfully pale, and she leaned her head against Fleurange’s shoulder. She seemed ready to faint.

“Hilda, good heavens!”

“Zounds, Karl,” cried the professor, rising abruptly. “You try my patience at last. Where are your wits?”


“Yes, where, if you cannot see that you are yet young enough to force me to give you my daughter, if I would not behold her die with grief?”

“Ludwig!” repeated Hansfelt, quite beside himself.

“Of course I am displeased with her for her folly, and I am angry with you too, but I suppose I must forgive you both because—because she loves you.”

“Beware, beware! Ludwig,” said Hansfelt, growing pale. “There are hopes that prove fatal when blasted!”

“Come, now, you must not die yet, nor she either!” Then he tenderly folded his daughter in his arms, and, as she opened her eyes and looked around in confusion, he said in a low tone:

“Hilda, my child, I give my consent. May you be as happy as you desire. You have your father’s blessing.—Come, now,” said he to Fleurange, “let us go to your aunt, and leave them to make their own disclosures.”


Madame Dornthal was affected but not surprised at hearing what had just taken place. She had never been deceived as to her daughter’s sentiments, and for a long time had endeavored to open her husband’s eyes. But he was incredulous, and persisted in declaring it was impossible for his friend, his contemporary, his “old Karl,” even to win the heart of a girl of twenty. “It is a mere fancy, which will pass away as soon as she meets a man of her own age who is worthy of her,” he obstinately repeated.

“Perhaps so, but that is the difficulty,” replied the sagacious, clear-sighted mother.[64] “Between you and Hansfelt, Hilda has become accustomed to live in a rarer atmosphere than generally surrounds youth. Whether this is fortunate or unfortunate, I know not; but as long as I perceive only pure and noble sentiments in her heart, which I read like an open page, I do not feel I have a right to oppose them. Believe me, we must not think too much of our children’s happiness, and, above all, we must not plan for them to be happy according to our notions. The important thing, after all, is not for them to be as happy as possible, but to fully develop their worth. Let their souls, confided to us, bear all the fruit of which they are capable. Is not this the chief thing, Ludwig?”

The more worthy one is to hear such language, the less easy it is to reply, and this conversation, which took place the evening before, made Ludwig waver at the interview in the library, and drew from him unawares his consent.

“We shall now lose them both,” said the professor sadly.

“I should rather see them happy, as we are, than happy for our benefit,” courageously replied his wife, with a greater effort than she wished to appear.

All misunderstanding being now cleared away, and the consent of every one obtained, it was at once decided that Hansfelt’s departure should be delayed a fortnight, and at the end of that time he should go, but not alone! The last evening the two sisters spent together under the paternal roof became therefore, doubly memorable; but they were all calmer than might have been expected. The professor, in spite of the suggestions of his reason, in spite of the evident wisdom of his opinion and opposition, could not look at his daughter without feeling that the profound and tranquil joy which beamed from her eyes was permanent and satisfying, and the reflection of that joy on Hansfelt’s inspired brow and softened look involuntarily showed the secret of her affection for him.

“Well, my venerable Karl, it must be acknowledged you look quite youthful to-night!”

“How could it be otherwise? I was withering away, and now my freshness has returned; my life seemed hopeless, and now it is lit up. This resurrection, this new existence, is like the restoration of youth, and, more than that, it elevates and ennobles. If noblesse oblige, so does happiness, and what would I not do now to merit mine?”

The following day, the bright sun cast a brilliancy around the form of the young bride, which was declared a lucky omen, in addition to many others carefully noted by the superstitious affection of those who surrounded her.

The Mansion, as we have said, was very near the church, and the wedding procession was made on foot, to the great satisfaction of those who composed it, as well as of the curious spectators. Clara, crowned with myrtle and clad in white, was as lovely a bride as one could wish to see, but there was no less admiration for the two young girls who, followed by several others, two by two, walked immediately behind. It will be guessed they were Hilda, whose beauty was now radiant, and Fleurange, whose black hair and general appearance distinguished her from the rest. The latter, as she passed along, might have noticed more than one look, and heard more than one word, calculated to satisfy her vanity, but she was wholly occupied in observing all the details of the wedding array which surrounded her for the first time in her life. They found a great crowd in church, and as the cortége slowly approached the altar, Fleurange, casting her eyes around, suddenly met a friendly look, accompanied by a respectful salutation. She bowed slightly in return, but without recognizing the person who saluted her, though his face was familiar. Nor did she know the fresh young woman leaning on his arm. A few steps further on, and she recalled her travelling companion, and Wilhelm, her husband, who was her uncle’s clerk. It was he, she felt sure, and she eagerly turned to look at him. She even stopped. At that moment she heard Felix Dorntha[65]l’s name mentioned, followed by these words: “They say that is his intended who has just passed by.” Fleurange felt they were speaking of her, and she blushed with displeasure. Then she heard Wilhelm’s reply: “Would it might be so! She might, perhaps, yet save him from—” The rest escaped her as she was borne along by the throng. She did not see Wilhelm or his wife again, and for the present thought no more of this incident.

The ceremony, the return, and the wedding dinner, all passed off with joyful simplicity. At the end of the repast, Clara took off her myrtle wreath, and divided it among her young companions, wishing that they too, in their turn, might find good husbands, and a happiness equal to her own.

It was Hilda who was first honored in this distribution. This signified she would be married before the rest. She took the myrtle from her sister’s hand without any embarrassment, as if she were not ashamed to let others see she joyfully accepted the offering, and regarded it as more than a mere omen.

After Hilda, came Fleurange, and then all the others down to little Frida, who had joined them with several other companions of her age.

“In your turn, Gabrielle!” said Hilda, as Fleurange fastened the sprig of myrtle in her belt. “Your turn will soon come also to wear this crown.”

Fleurange shook her head, and replied with a seriousness she herself could not have accounted for: “That day will never come for me—no, never!”

“Why do you say so?” said Hilda, astonished.

“I do not know.” And then she laughed.

An hour after, she perceived the myrtle had fallen from her belt. She searched for it, having been charged by her cousin to wear it the remainder of the day, but she could not find it.

At nightfall the newly married couple left the Old Mansion, escorted over the threshold and down the steps by all the family, who, with kind wishes and congratulations, there bade them adieu with more affection than sadness, for they were not to be widely separated, or for any great length of time.

Clara’s father and mother accompanied her to her new home. It was a modest, pleasant house in one of the faubourgs of the city, which Julian, with loving interest, had been preparing more than a year for her who was now to take possession of it. Her parents took leave of her at the threshold. Madame Dornthal embraced her daughter, and, while clasping her in her arms, said: “Remember you are now beginning a new life. Continue to give us our share of your affection; but let nothing henceforth prevail over the love which is now your duty.”

“I shall merit a severe penalty,” said Julian, “if this duty ever becomes a burden—if she ever regrets the day she joined her lot to mine.”

The father and mother stood looking at them a moment as they paused at the entrance of the house. They observed the moved and respectful look of the bridegroom. They saw, too, the confiding glance of the bride amid her tears, and they left them without fear under the protection of God!

On their way homeward, the poor father, breaking the long silence, said:[66] “Years hence, when she in her turn is separated from a child, she will understand all we have suffered to-day!”

“Yes, my Ludwig,” said Madame Dornthal, wiping away her tears; “and Heaven grant she may then have, like us, a stronger feeling in her heart than that of grief, which will enable her to bear it!”

They pressed each other’s hands. Never, even in the brightest days of their youth, had this old couple felt so tenderly, so closely united!

They found the Old Mansion brilliantly lighted up. The gallery and library, illuminated and ornamented with flowers and wreaths, were filled not only by the customary friends and relatives, but the two brothers’ whole circle of acquaintance in the city.

It was the custom at that time to end the wedding day with a soirée, but a delicate sentiment forbade the newly-married pair taking a part in the festivities, their happiness being considered too profound, too concentrated, to enjoy the noisy gaiety. But here, the unrestrained gaiety was natural, infectious, and wholly exempt from an ingredient too often found in the corrupting influences of society—a sad and fatal ingredient, which inspires ill-toned pleasantries whose effect is to excite smiles and blushes, and a gaiety as different from the other as the laughter of fiends from the smiles of angels! The gaiety here did not profane by a word, a glance, or even a smile, the end of the day which had witnessed a Christian espousal.

Felix Dornthal himself seemed less disposed to jest than usual. He was even grave, absent-minded, and gloomy to such a degree as to excite attention in the morning at church, where he arrived late, and at the wedding dinner, where, appointed to propose the health of the newly married pair, he acquitted himself of the duty with ease, but only to resume afterwards a complete silence. Family festivals were doubtless little to his taste, and perhaps it was ennui that produced so gloomy an aspect. Such, at least, was the supposition of his cousins, who, after declaring him disagreeable, left him to himself. He disappeared at the end of the repast, and now in these crowded rooms he alone was wanting. His absence, noticed by several persons, greatly excited his father’s impatience, who, to-day more than ever, ardently desired to witness before he died the marriage of his son. Illness had brought on the irritability of old age, and Heinrich Dornthal could no longer bear contradiction.

“Where can he be?” repeated he for the tenth time to his neighbor, who, with his look fastened on the door, seemed to share the uneasy expectation of the banker. At that instant Fleurange passed by. She stopped as she saw Wilhelm Müller again, at her uncle’s side. This time she recognized him at once, and, with the natural grace that gave a charm to her every movement, she approached and renewed her acquaintance with him. She learned in a few words that he had been absent, that his wife was restored to health, and had not forgotten her. Fleurange, in return, sent her many affectionate messages. Then she passed on, while her uncle, gazing at her, felt an increased regret, which she was as far from imagining as sympathizing with.

The piano was open. Several pieces had already been played with great success, and now all the younger members of the party were seized with the unanimous desire of dancing, which is so contagious, and in youth often a kind of necessary manifestation of joyousness. The Germans are all musicians, and Clement excelled. He at once divined the general feeling, and seized his violin. Hilda seated herself at the piano.[67] Hansfelt took his place at her side, and the gaiety she fully participated in did not inspire her, like the rest, to leave her place. She was, therefore, in the best mood possible to acquit herself of the rôle which Clement with a glance assigned her in this improvised orchestra. The brother and sister struck up a waltz, and played with that skill, perfect time, and particular animation which, like the waltz itself, is peculiar to the German nation. In an instant there was universal animation.

Fleurange had occasionally danced with her cousins in the winter evenings, but she had never experienced, as on this occasion, the inspiriting effect of so much liveliness and so general an impulse. She involuntarily rose up with a desire to take a part in it, and at that very moment she heard these words addressed her: “Will you favor me with this waltz?”—an invitation so in accordance with the wish of the moment that she replied in the affirmative, and left the place before realizing it was her cousin Felix who was her partner. They danced around twice. Poor Heinrich Dornthal saw them sweep by, and uttered a joyful exclamation—the last that a feeling of hope or of paternal joy would ever draw from him again in this world!

Felix conducted Fleurange back to her seat. She was breathless, pale, and annoyed. While waltzing, he had uttered words she wished had never been said. Scarcely seated, her first impulse was to leave the spot where he stood, and even the room, but she could not. Felix’s hand, placed on hers, forced her to sit down again. Then Fleurange rose above her embarrassment. She comprehended that the time had come to be firm, calm, and decided—not a difficult thing when the heart and the will are perfectly in accord. That was the case in this instance, and Fleurange almost coolly awaited what her cousin had to say.

“I only beseech you for one word, Gabrielle,” said Felix, with more emotion and respect than usual—“one word, and, if you understood me, an answer.”

“I heard you,” said Fleurange.

“And understood?”

“Yes; and with regret, Felix.”

“Tell me plainly, Gabrielle, do you understand that I love you?”

Fleurange blushed and made no reply.

“That I love you to such a degree, my happiness, my future prospects, and my life are in your hands?” continued he vehemently. “And this is true, literally true.”

Fleurange frowned. “Do you wish to frighten me?” she said coldly, turning her large eyes toward him.

“No; I have told you the truth without thinking I could frighten you; but, since you ask the question, here is my sincere reply: Only promise to accept my hand, promise it through fear or love, terror or joy, I will be satisfied, and ask for no more.”

“Then,” said Fleurange slowly, “it is all the same to you whether I esteem or despise you, love or detest?”

“No woman can for ever detest a man who endeavors to win her love—when that man is her husband, and could be her master, but only wishes to be her slave.”

“There is great fatuity in your humility, Felix; but you are frank, and I wish to be so too. I shall never—mark my words—never be your wife!”

Felix turned pale, and his face assumed a frightful expression. “Take more time, Gabrielle,” said[68] he—“take more time to think of it. But, first, listen to me. I am going to say something that may touch you more than a threat or a declaration—” He stopped an instant and then continued: “If you saw a man on the edge of a precipice, would you stretch forth a hand to save him?”

“What do you mean?” said Fleurange, affected in spite of herself, and suddenly recalling the words she heard that morning in the church.

“I ask if you would put out your hand to aid a man in such peril?” He had, in truth, found the means of making her hesitate, but it was only for a moment.

“You are speaking figuratively, I suppose,” said she at length; “and it is a question of a soul in peril, is it not?”

“A soul in peril? Yes,” replied Felix, with a bitter smile.

“Well, I tell you, in a danger of this kind, I would offer no assistance that would inevitably lead to my own destruction.”

Felix rose: “And is this your final decision?”

“Yes, Felix, a decision unhesitatingly made, but not without sorrow, if it afflicts you.”

His only reply was a loud laugh which made Fleurange shudder. She turned towards him, but there was no longer in his look the respect, or the sadness, or the emotion he had so recently shown. His face had resumed its habitual expression of irony and proud assurance.

“I thank you for your frankness, cousin. That is a trait I trust you will retain. It somewhat detracts from the charm you are endowed with, but it will preserve you from some of the dangers to which your eloquent glances expose you. Adieu!”

“Felix, give me your hand as a token you bear me no ill-will,” said Fleurange softly.

“Ill-will?” replied Felix. “Oh! be assured I am too good a player not to bear bad luck cheerfully. Besides, one is not always, and in everything, unfortunate. Certain defeats, they say, are pledges of victory. Come, Gabrielle, forget it all. Give me your hand, and wish me good luck.”

Before Fleurange could make any reply, he was gone. This conversation had been so rapid that the waltz was not yet ended. The noise, motion, and music, added to Fleurange’s agitation, made her dizzy. She went to an open window near the piano. At that moment the music ceased, and all resumed their places. Fleurange found herself nearly alone. Clement was still near, and, observing her, quickly laid down the violin he held in his hand.

“You are very pale. Are you ill?”

“No, no, let me go out. I only wish to take the air a moment.”

Clement cast a rapid glance around the room, and then followed her into the garden:

“You were dancing just now?”

“Yes, and I did wrong.”

“Your partner left you before the waltz was over?”


Clement remained thoughtful a few moments, and then said: “Gabrielle, pardon me if I am indiscreet, but I wish I dared ask you one question.”

“What a preamble! Did we not agree to speak freely to each other?”

“Well, will you tell me why Felix went away?”


“Yes, Clement, and I think you will be surprised. He asked me to marry him. What do you think of that?”

“And you gave him his answer?”

“Assuredly. I said no, without hesitating.”

Clement started so abruptly that Fleurange looked at him with surprise. She saw an expression of joy on his countenance which he could not conceal.

“I see you are no fonder than I of our cousin,” she said, “and are delighted with his ill-success.”

“Delighted? No. Were he my worst enemy, I should pity him at such a moment; but I am very glad of—glad of—” Clement hesitated, contrary to his usual practice, which was to go straight to the point. “I am very glad of a decision,” said he at length, “which will dispense me from ever speaking of him again to you.”

“What would you have done if I had accepted him?”

“What I am glad not to be obliged to do.”

“Now you are talking enigmatically in your turn.”

“No; enigmas are intended to be guessed, and I beg you to forget what I have just said.”

It is uncertain what answer Fleurange was about to make Clement, who was less candid than usual, and therefore provoking, but at that instant she noticed a sprig of myrtle in the button-hole of his coat.

“What! you with myrtle?” she said. “I thought it was only worn by young maidens on such a day.”

Clement blushed, and snatched the myrtle from his coat: “It is yours, Gabrielle. Pardon me. I saw it fall from your girdle, and picked it up.”

“Mine? Indeed!”

“Yes; here, take it, unless,” said he, hesitating a little—“unless you will consent to give it back to me.”

“Very willingly, Clement; keep it as a gift from me. It is a good omen, they say, predicting a fair bride when your turn comes.”

Clement replaced the myrtle in his coat, and gravely said: “That day will never come for me; no, never!”

“Never; no, never! Oh! how strange!” cried Fleurange, in a tone that surprised Clement.

“What is it?”


What struck her as strange was that Clement, à propos of this piece of myrtle, had, without being aware of it, uttered precisely the same words she herself had said some hours before.

On the whole, this soirée she found so pleasant at its commencement, ended in a painful manner. She returned to her chamber less cheerful than she left it, but with the satisfaction of feeling she had had no difficulty throughout the day in banishing from her mind the fantastic image she had formed the evening before of Count George.


More than a fortnight had elapsed. Hilda was married and gone from the paternal roof. Clara and her husband were on their way to Italy, where they intended to remain till spring. Those who remained in the Old Mansion were suffering from the reaction that always follows the confusion and agitation of any event however pleasant—a reaction always depressing even when there is no real sadness in the heart. But this was not exactly the case with Fleurange. Her cousins were both married and happy. She loved them too sincerely not to rejoice at this, but it was not the less true that the house seemed to have grown more spacious, the table around which they gathered enlarged, the library immense, and the[70] garden deserted. The least to be pitied was Fritz, who still had his brother, and was not so much affected by the change; but little Frida mourned for her sisters, and clung more than ever to Fleurange, whose talent for amusing and diverting children was again brought into exercise. Fleurange, on her part, greatly appreciated this distraction as a benefit. The child seldom left her cousin’s room, and they became almost inseparable. One day, while there as usual, Fleurange singing a long ballad in a low tone, and Frida listening with her head against her cousin’s shoulder, a knock at the door made them both start. And yet it was but a slight rap, that gave no cause for the alarm with which she put the child down and hastily ran to the door. She found her kind of presentiment justified.

It was Wilhelm Müller, Heinrich Dornthal’s clerk, who knocked. It was quite evident from the expression of his countenance and his agitated manner, as well as his unexpected appearance at such an hour, that something unusually sad had occurred.

“Excuse me, mademoiselle,” he said hurriedly. “I was not looking for you; but M. Clement has gone out, and the professor also, they tell me. Do you know where they are to be found?”

“I do not know where Clement is, but my uncle and aunt are gone to M. Steinberg’s. They have charge of the garden during his absence.”

“Steinberg’s! It would take more than an hour to go there. What is to be done! What is to be done!”

“What has happened, Monsieur Wilhelm? For pity’s sake, tell me what misfortune has occurred.”

“Misfortune!” he replied, after a moment’s hesitation. “Ah! yes, mademoiselle, a great misfortune has befallen us—but I cannot stop an instant. Pray send for M. Ludwig with all possible speed, and tell him his brother—his brother is dying!”

“Dying!” cried Fleurange. “Uncle Heinrich! Oh! take me to see him while they are gone for his brother.”

“No, no, mademoiselle, you must not go. I cannot consent to it.”

Fleurange insisted, and had already left her room when she met Clement, who had just returned, and heard his uncle’s clerk was in search of him.

“Uncle Heinrich is dying!” exclaimed Fleurange, before he could ask a question. “Let us go to him instantly, Clement, while they are gone for your parents.” And she drew him toward the stairs. Meanwhile, Wilhelm approached and whispered a few words in Clement’s ear. The latter turned pale, but, instantly surmounting his violent emotion, he took Fleurange by the hand.

“Remain here,” he said. “You must not go. Believe me, you must not. When it is suitable, I will come for you.” And he led her back kindly, but firmly, into her chamber, and then went out, closing the door behind him. In less than two minutes the street door was heard to shut in its turn. Fleurange was left alone, or, at least, with only little Frida, who, frightened, was crying. She tried to soothe her, endeavoring at the same time to be calm herself, and patiently bear the torture of waiting anxiously, without the power of action.

It was about five o’clock when Wilhelm came to her door, and of course still light, as it was summer. But day declined, and night came on, finding Fleurange still waiting. Frida, after crying a long time, had gone to sleep in her arms. Fleurange, in spite of her usual activity, wished[71] to remain where she was, that Clement might find her at once when he returned. She heard him order the carriage as he went out, and knew he had sent for his father and mother. She looked at the clock, and counted the hours. Not a third of the time was required to go to the faubourg, and yet they had not returned. They had evidently gone directly to the dying man’s house. And what was now taking place there? Why had Clement dissuaded her from going? She joined her hands in silent prayer: then began to listen again with a feverish and ever-increasing anxiety.

At last she heard the rumbling of a carriage. She softly placed the sleeping child on the bed, and was about to go down-stairs to meet her uncle and aunt, whom she supposed to have arrived. But before she had time, she heard Clement ascending the stairs in great haste. An instant more and he opened the door. Before she could ask the question on her lips, he said:

“Gabrielle, poor Uncle Heinrich is no more!” Then he added after a moment’s silence: “A dreadful shock caused his instantaneous death.”

“Ah! my heart told me I should hear sad news.”

“Yes, sad indeed,” said Clement. And in spite of himself he seemed for a moment suffocated by an emotion too violent to be surmounted.

Fleurange looked at him. There was something besides the shock and grief caused by this sudden death. “Clement, what else has happened? Tell me everything. Tell me at once, I implore you!”

“Yes, Gabrielle,” he said, making an effort to command his voice, usually so firm and mild. “Yes, I am going to tell you everything. I came on purpose to spare my poor father and mother this additional pain. Listen, or, rather, read this yourself!”

Fleurange with a trembling hand took the letter he offered her, and read as follows:

Father: I have abused your confidence. Your name, which you allowed me to make use of, has hitherto enabled me to conceal my losses. With the hope of repairing them, I rashly aimed at an immense prize which chance seemed to offer me. Had I obtained it, all would have been saved. I have been unsuccessful. Ruin has fallen not only on us, but on all whose property is in our hands. Farewell, father, you will never see me again. Do not be afraid of my taking my own life. That would only be another base act. But there are lands where they who seek death can find it. I hope to have that good luck. May I speedily expiate what I can never repair!


Fleurange silently clasped her hands. Pity mingled with the repugnance, now so well justified, with which Felix had always inspired her, and she could not utter a word. Clement continued:

“This letter, imprudently given to my unhappy uncle this morning, immediately brought on one of the attacks to which he was liable, and which (perhaps happily for him) has proved fatal. He had not time to realize the blow that had befallen him.”

Fleurange herself hardly comprehended its extent. “But where is Felix, then?” she said at length.

“He has been gone a fortnight.”

“A fortnight!” she exclaimed, with a painful remembrance of their last interview.

“He left the day after the soirée at the time of Clara’s marriage.”

“That evening,” she said with[72] emotion, “he spoke of an abyss into which my hand would prevent him from falling. O God!” she continued with the greatest agitation, “could I really have saved him by consenting? Would the sacrifice of my life have prevented this terrible disaster?”

“No; the great stake he made that night was his sole resource against ruin. Why did he talk to you in such a manner? Was it through madness or perversity? It must have been madness, the unfortunate fellow loved you without doubt. I pity him, but—” Clement hesitated and then rapidly continued: “Listen to me, Gabrielle. I am going to tell you something it might be better to keep to myself, but I must justify myself and reassure you, and it cannot injure him now. I regarded Felix with contempt because,” and for a moment there was a flash in Clement’s eye—“because he wished to make me as despicable as himself, and once played the vile rôle of a tempter to me who was then but a boy—because he would, if he could, have drawn me after him into the path which to-day has ended so fatally. Therefore, cousin,” he continued with still more emotion, “had he succeeded in winning your hand, I should have felt it my duty to have warned you of his unworthiness, of which I was too well aware, for I have never forgotten you called me your brother. But I was reluctant to denounce him, and glad, oh! so glad, that evening, not to be obliged to do so—glad you were saved by your own self! And if I tell you all this now, it is to put an end to the fears you have just expressed.”

“And I am grateful to you for banishing them. But, Clement, tell me once more—here, in the presence of God, have I nothing to reproach myself with?”

“Nothing, on my honor, Gabrielle, believe me!”

Clement, as we have remarked, possessed great firmness of character, and a kind of premature wisdom which gave him great ascendency over others. When this trait is natural, it is manifest at an early age, and a day often suffices for its complete development. That day had arrived for Clement, and henceforth no one would ever dream of calling him a boy.


Ruin!—a word at once positive and yet extremely vague—very plain in itself, and yet conveying the idea of a multitude of undefined consequences, often more alarming than actual misfortune, and sometimes suggesting chimerical hopes. And it has a deeper signification when it happens to a person unaccustomed to the calculations of material life, given up to thought and study, and moreover delivered from the necessity of exertion through long years of prosperous ease.

Such was the nature, and hitherto such the position, of Professor Ludwig Dornthal. Of all the misfortunes in the world, that which had now befallen him was the last he would have dreamed of, and he was less capable of comprehending it than of supporting it courageously. Besides, the word ruin may also be taken in a relative sense which mitigates its severity, and this was the way the professor regarded it. With only a faint idea of the extent of the catastrophe, he remained inactively expectant of something to partially remedy what merely related to his finances, being more preoccupied about his nephew’s shameful flight[73] and its fatal consequence—the death of his brother.

Meanwhile, Clement, with the aid of Wilhelm Müller, examined the state of affairs with a promptitude and sagacity that greatly edified the honest and intelligent clerk who initiated him into this new business. Seeing him so quick of comprehension, so firm in decision and prompt in action, he exclaimed with despair in the midst of their frightful discoveries:

“Alas! alas! if your unfortunate cousin had only had your head on his shoulders!”

“My head! It is not equal to his,” responded Clement to one of his companions. “No, no, it is not that, but something else, he lacks. Why have not I, on the contrary, his capacity and wit! Then I might be capable of retrieving our fortunes, whereas my only talent is that of knowing how to endure poverty. Oh! if it threatened me alone, how little I should dread it!”

“Poverty!” interrupted Wilhelm. “But do you not understand all I have explained to you?”

“With respect to my uncle’s creditors?”

“Yes. Do you not see that the principal creditor, the first of all on the list, is M. Ludwig Dornthal, whose whole fortune nearly can be saved from shipwreck?”

“Yes, on condition of the ruin of the remainder.”

But their claims are not equal to his: he was not his brother’s partner. He had only entrusted his property to him, like so many others.”

Clement made no reply. After a short silence he observed: “The entire renunciation of my father’s property would enable us to repay all the creditors without exception, would it not?”

“Yes, all.”

“Would there not be a single debt in this case?”

“No,” replied Wilhelm, smiling; “not a debt—not a penny.”

Clement again took up one of the papers on the table, and silently read it over once more with the most profound attention.

“Yes, it is really so,” said he rising. “Everything is plain now. I must leave you, Wilhelm. It is after four o’clock, and I am expected at home. I shall see you again this evening, and we will decide on some definite course of action.”

This conversation took place in a lower room of the banker’s house, which had been Wilhelm Müller’s office for many years. He pressed the young man’s hand, and Clement proceeded rapidly towards home.

It was their dinner hour, and his parents were waiting for him. The habits of the family had resumed their ordinary course. The sad routine of life is seldom interrupted more than a day even by the most overwhelming disaster, and this exterior regularity, however painful a contrast to the grief that has changed everything interiorly, helped restore calmness to the soul, and with calmness the courage and strength to act.

Clement was a quarter of an hour late. He went directly to the dining-room, knowing his father’s punctuality. As he supposed, the family were at dinner, and he took his place after some hasty words of apology at his entrance, and then fell into a profound silence.

The fine, spacious room in which they were was one of the pleasantest in the house. Rare old china lined the étagères, and the dark panels were relieved by old portraits, all original and of great value, and the most celebrated part of the professor’s collection. The open windows commanded a view of the garden.[74] Verdure refreshed the eye, and the perfume of the flowers pervaded the room. The glass and silver reflected the rays of the sun, though there was a large awning before one of the windows. An air of quiet, opulent comfort everywhere reigned.

Clement look around. All these things, to which he was daily accustomed, now made a new impression on him. He noticed to-day the objects he often forgot to observe, but this examination did not have the effect of weaning him from his sad thoughts. On the contrary, it only increased them, and Clement was deeply plunged in gloomy reverie when he was aroused by his little sister’s voice:

“Papa,” said Frida, “we shall start for the sea-shore in a week, shall we not?”

“Yes, my child,” replied the professor.

“And then we shall go to see Hilda?”

“Yes, she expects us in a month.”

“And after that?”

“We shall return home. It will be time, I think, after two months‘’ absence.”

In fact, that was the longest time the professor had ever been absent from his cherished home.

These few words produced an expression of suffering on Clement’s face which he could not conceal. His mother observed it and questioned him with a look. But Clement turned his eyes away, and did not raise them again till the end of the silent meal, though he keenly felt another look besides his mother’s fastened on him.

“Clement, I have something to say to you,” said his mother as soon as dinner was over. He rose instantly, and followed her into the garden, but before leaving the room he said:

“Father, will you allow me a few minutes‘’ conversation with you afterwards? I have several things to tell you.”

“Yes, my dear son, I will wait for you.” And the professor turned towards the library, where he always spent an hour after dinner.

“Come, tell me everything now,” said Madame Dornthal, leading the way to a bench where they could not be seen from the house.

“Yes, mother, dear mother, it is to you I will refer a decision which my honor and my conscience tell me is required. You shall decide whether we ought to evade or submit to it.”

He began his account, and, while she was attentively listening without interrupting him once, laid before her the details, in all their reality, of the situation in which his uncle’s death and his cousin’s flight had left them.

Madame Dornthal, more accustomed to the practical details of life than her husband, had not shared his illusions. She was much better prepared than he for the sad consequences of a reverse of fortune, but had been far from anticipating its extent. They would be much less wealthy than before, have some privations to endure, and for a time be obliged to practise considerable economy; such had been the extent of her fears. But all this did not appear to so excellent a manager a trial beyond her strength. During the past week she had declared, as often as her husband, that the loss of money was the smallest part of the misfortune that had befallen them.

Now she realized that this loss was something real, something almost as appalling as death, for it involved the end of the life she had been accustomed to for twenty years—an[75] end she must face and at once accept. And she was courageous enough not to hesitate. She embraced her son, and said:

“God be blessed for giving me a son like you! Yes, dear Clement, yes, you are right—a thousand times right.”

“Then you agree with me, mother, that the ruin of the Dornthals should not cause the ruin of any one else?”

“Yes, my child.”

“Our name must remain without reproach, and nobody in the world have a right to curse it?”

“Certainly, Clement, whatever be the consequence.”

“Whatever be the consequence!” repeated Clement firmly. “Thanks, dear mother. I must leave you. It is not my place, but yours, to inform my father.”

“Yes, Clement, it is my place.” She put back her son’s thick hair, and gazed silently at him for a moment with profound attention and emotion. Never had Clement’s eyes expressed more clearly than now the firmness, integrity, and energy of his nature.

“No!” thought she, “there is not among those who effect great things in the world, and leave behind them a glorious and illustrious name, a nobler or more courageous heart than yours, my son! God be praised! Your life will be blessed, even though your worth and all the faculties you possess remain hidden and for ever unknown but to him alone!”

Such were Madame Dornthal’s thoughts, as she gazed with maternal fondness into her son’s eyes, but she did not give them utterance. She pressed her lips once more to his brow, and placed her hand on his head as if in benediction. Clement in return kissed her hand with grave and tender respect. Then he rose and left the garden at once, and, soon after, the house.

He remained absent several hours. It was nearly nine o’clock when he returned. His mother was waiting in the entry for him, and opened the door when he rang. He was very pale, and held a pile of papers in his hand.

“Well,” said Madame Dornthal, “is everything arranged?”

“Yes, mother, everything! These papers only lack my father’s signature. He is willing to give it, is he not?”

“You cannot doubt it, I think.”

“No, but my poor father was so far from supposing—”

“Yes, that was it, I did not fear any hesitation on his part, but only the complete illusion he was under. I only dreaded the effect of surprise and the shock. O Clement! I know not what terror came over me from the frightful remembrance of the other day! My poor Ludwig!”

Madame Dornthal stopped a moment to brush away her tears, then smiled as she continued:

“But be easy, he knows everything now. He comprehends the state of affairs, and feels as we do. It is better, however, that I alone should see him this evening. Give me those papers. And you, my boy, see after your brother and sister. I have not had time to think of them. Ah! and Gabrielle, poor child, perhaps it would be well to look for her also and tell her all. We have nothing to conceal from any one, above all from her.”

Without awaiting a reply, Madame Dornthal abruptly left her son to rejoin her husband in the library, where she remained the rest of the evening.




“O Patrick! taught by him, the Unknown,
These questions answer ere I die:—
Why, when the trees at evening moan,
Why must an old man sigh?
“No kinsmen of my stock are they,
Though reared was I in sylvan cell:
Love-whispers once they breathed: this day
They mutter but ‘farewell.’
“What mean the floods? Of old they said,
‘Thus, thus, ye chiefs, ye clans, sweep on!’
They whiten still their rocky bed:
Those chiefs and clans are gone.
“What Power is that which daily heaves
O’er earth’s dark verge the rising sun,
As large, the Druid, Alph, believes,
As Tork or Maugerton?
“A woman once, in youthful flower,
An infant laid upon my knee:
What was it shook my heart that hour?
I live—Where now is he?
“What thing is youth, which speeds so fast?
What thing is life, which lags so long?
Trapped, trapped we are by age at last,
In a net of fraud and wrong!
“I cheated am by Eld—or cheat—
Heart-young as leaves in sun that bask:
Is that fresh heart a counterfeit,
Or this gray shape a mask?
“Some say ‘tis folly to be moved.
‘The dog, he dieth—why not thou?’
They lie! We loved! The ill reproved!—
Is Oscar nothing now?
“O Patrick of the crosier staff,
The wondrous Book, the anthems slow!
If thou the riddle know’st but half,
Help those who nothing know!
“Who made the worlds? the Soul? Man’s race?
The man that knoweth, he is Man!
I, once a prince, will serve in place
Clansman of that man’s clan!”


“Instead of considering the physical condition of a nation determining its moral character, we must always regard the moral as determining, as well as moulding and modifying, the physical.”

“As the divine modifies the moral, so the moral modifies the physical, or external.”

“In education all sight has been lost of the reality which is regeneration, and only when this is brought into the soul, will it be fit to receive the spirit.”

“As the body grows older, the mind grows younger, when the will conceives with the divine will in the permanent ground.”

“Christ is desirous to divorce the soul from Satan, and to do this he begins by making the soul uneasy.”

“There are thousands who have been taught to think from learning have yet to be taught to think from the living basis within the will that sustains the thinker.”

“Know thyself is a false maxim. Be wholeor one—and one with thy Lord.”


“Only does the Jesus spirit in the soul make the soul exhibit the divine essence.”



Women are receiving just now, at the hands of a certain class of agitators, a degree of attention which may be flattering to some, but which certainly is not only intrusive, but unnecessary with regard to many. They are told that their rights are trampled upon, that they must assert and defend themselves, and take their place in the great battle of life. Now, these exhortations have generally been met by copious references to all the undoubted precepts of old, which made the domestic life woman’s own sphere, and consecrated her the minister of all man’s comforts. This sphere of home duties is incontestably theirs; and what is more, while they can help man in his avocations, man, on the other hand, can scarcely help them in their own. But in addition to this, their inviolable territory which they intend never to abandon, let them boldly claim a share of man’s kingdom, and let them make good their claim. People have listened to many women and to a few men on the subject of the so-called “Women’s Rights:” let them listen with indulgence to one woman more, who comes claiming far greater things than they dream of, and yet showing that her claims are but long-established and real rights, recognized, defined, limited, and protected by an older code of jurisprudence, and a longer tradition of immemorial custom, than they have as yet been told of by the press or in the lecture-room.

The existence of woman is a fact: it is equally a fact that everything that exists has some work to do in the order of the universe. God himself, in a few simple words, stated what her work was: “Let us make him a help like unto himself” (Gen. ii. 18). The words indeed are so simple that they hardly arrest attention, yet in them lies the whole relation of woman to man. She is to be a help; but no restrictive detail is added, so that it is clearly open to her to help man intellectually, religiously, morally, as well as domestically. She is to be like unto him; that is, emphatically not masculine, not a creature that is a mere copy or reproduction of himself, but like unto him, that is, sufficiently like to understand him, sufficiently unlike to love him. Again, no precise relation in which she is to stand to man is defined: she may therefore be a help as a wife, mother, sister, in the domestic circle; she may be a help as a consecrated virgin, as an adviser, as an intercessor, in the religious order; she may be a help as a governor, a regent, a queen, in the political order: lastly, she may be a help as a friend and confidant in the social order.

Now, having seen that God distinctly gave woman a mission, as he has to every animate and inanimate creature, we must suppose that he has also provided her with the means of fulfilling it. We look around us to see how he has done so, and whether, when the means were at hand,[79] woman used them to her own distinction and advantage. In one place and under one set of circumstances alone do we find that it was so, and this not by exception, but by rule. This place is the Catholic Church; these circumstances are her laws and her history. The reason why it remained for our times to form “women’s rights” associations, is simply that women’s wrongs have, under the influence of the Reformation, been so shamefully multiplied. The present movement is a reaction against the Protestant atmosphere of repression which has suffocated woman’s highest aspirations for three hundred years. The tribute unconsciously paid to the Catholic Church by the Anglican communities of monks and sisters is a proof of the wisdom of the old church in regard to its treatment of women. Sensitive, enthusiastic, earnest souls found themselves without the outward means of satisfying their craving after a more perfect life; others with superabundance of energy and devotion, with the gift of tending the sick or instructing the young, found themselves confined to the circle of their own unaided efforts and unorganized activity. They hailed “sisterhoods” as the newly opened gates of heaven, not knowing that sisterhoods were no new invention, but had their source in the very beginnings of the days of which the then unwritten Gospels became the after-history.

In a sermon recently delivered by one of the most popular preachers of New York, and reported in the columns of a widely-read journal, occur the following words, which are a singular corroboration of what we have just said: “There is nothing more dangerous than an educated community with nothing to do. There are thousands of educated women who do not work.... I do not wonder the bold, eagle-like natures fret in their limits and detest life, or that the great hearts dash themselves out in waste. There must be outlet for these immense forces, or society will go on getting worse and worse to the end.” A few days after these words were spoken, the following appeared in a letter referring to the attempt made by a woman to drop her vote in the ballot-box, at the New York City election of the 7th of November, 1871. She gives a lamentable account of woman’s world, as it has grown to be under the shade of Protestantism. “The condition of involuntary servitude is favorable to the cultivation of all the vices of secrecy and deceit. As women, we have been schooled in hypocrisy and duplicity, until our deep souls revolt against the oppression that so compels us to belie our sincere and earnest natures. The most docile wife has that latent fire in her heart which only needs the air of freedom to fan into a flame. Many seemingly contented wives would almost risk the salvation of their souls to make their masters feel for one day the humiliation they have endured uncomplainingly for years. If this is true of the favorites of fortune, what may not be said of the great crowd of women who rush into every folly, or are doomed to severest trial by stringent laws and the oppressive customs growing out of them—laws and customs that disfranchise them, prescribe their pleasures, limit their fields of labor, and curtail their wages, all on the plea of sex? We have, gentlemen, very generally arrived at the knowledge that sex is a crime punishable by law.” The writer of this subscribes herself “Mary Leland,” and is, no doubt, a fair representative of the indignant champions of indiscriminate equality between men and women. If the slumbering volcano[80] she describes is really hidden beneath the frivolous life of ordinary women, what a fearful responsibility lies at the door of the system whose effect it is! This spirit of rebellion can only exist as a reaction against the forced inactivity of woman’s mind and will, and against the torpor induced by the delicate flattery of those who would make her a sultana, or the brutality of those who would fain turn her into a beast of burden. Both alike are forms of slavery; both alike are anti-Christian; both are contradictions against nature, and will inevitably bear their evil fruit. Since their true rights have been denied them by the spirit of the Reformation; since the education of their children is taken out of their hands by the state; since nothing but a savory meal and a pleasant face are expected from them—what wonder that the displaced pendulum of their mind should sway violently aside, and thus come in rude contact with the more arduous sphere of man?

But it is not our purpose to give a lecture on the abstract principles concerned in the question of the rights of women; facts speak more loudly and more convincingly than the most eloquent arguments, the most fascinating pleas: we aim only at giving a few of these facts to our sisters of the present day, and showing them how the church has ever regarded, and has long ago settled, the question now agitating them so painfully.

Our only difficulty is in the mass of evidence from which to make selections, the matter that is to serve us as a witness being simply the history of the church, and its abundance so rich that we hesitate which of the countless examples to draw forth for the admiration of woman-kind, and which to leave in undeserved oblivion. If we take a cursory glance at the infant church on the shores of the Lake of Galilee, we shall find woman already in a conspicuous and honorable position. It is a remarkable fact that no nation of antiquity, save the Jews, had any respect for the female sex, beyond that which included women in the possessions of their husbands and fathers, and consequently could make no difference between an insult to a virgin or a wife and a theft of any other precious chattel. The Jews—that is, the people whom God himself guided and taught, and whose laws were his immediate decrees—hedged in the chastity of women with the most stringent safeguards, and defended it by the severest penalties. They allowed women to inherit from their parents and perpetuate their own name, and to be preferred before the male relations, that is, the brothers or nephews of their father (Numb. xxvii. 8). Not only were the wives and daughters of the Israelites inviolable; their hired servants, whether Jew or Gentile, and their captives, were equally protected from the licentiousness of man. The Old Testament has numberless chapters consecrated to the praises of women, and to the precepts necessary for the education of their sex. In Genesis, chap. xxxiv., we find the sons of Jacob making war upon the Sichemites, to revenge the insult done to their sister Dina by the prince Sichem; in the Book of Judges, chap. xx., we read of a bloody and protracted war waged by the Israelites against one of their own tribes, the Benjaminites, to revenge the Levite’s wife, outraged by strange men in the town of Gabaa; in the Second Book of Kings, chap. xiii., we see how promptly and fearfully Absalom resented the wrong done to his sister Thamar by their brother Amnon. In the Book of Judith, we are astounded at seeing the high and[81] solemn eulogium pronounced upon this valiant woman. She speaks to the elders of Bethulia as one having authority, yet, with such humility as befits even the most highly favored servant of God, she comforts them and bids them hope, so that they acknowledge that her words are true, and ask her to pray for them (chap. viii. 29). Her own prayer for guidance and success is full of wisdom, of poetry, of confidence in God and the right: her speech to Holofernes is conspicuous for tact, and the heathen general himself exclaims, “There is not such another woman upon earth ... in sense of words.” When the great deed is done and Judith returns to the besieged city, she sings a noble canticle, a true poem, full of grave beauty and deep meaning, and we are then told how highly she was honored by the high-priest Joachim, who came from Jerusalem, with all his elders, to see her and bless her. He calls her the “glory of Jerusalem, the joy of Israel, and the honor of the people” (chap. xv. 10), and bestows upon her precious vessels from the spoils of the Assyrians. He does not forget to extol her chastity as intimately connected with her success; indeed, this praise seems to supersede the blessings with which she is hailed as a deliverer. When she died, the people publicly mourned for her seven days, and to the time of her death it is recorded that “she came forth with great glory on festival days.”

This is not the only instance where we find woman in a responsible and elevated position, surrounded by friends of high degree, vying with each other in bestowing upon her marks of esteem and respect. Later on we find Christian prelates acting the part of Joachim to some new Judith, some woman distinguished for piety and virtue, and whose influence or example is a powerful auxiliary of their own efforts.

Reverting for a few moments to the history of the Jews, we see how in numberless instances women were the instruments of grace and deliverance, how they were gifted, and how they were esteemed. Instead of a marriage that was nothing but a bargain such as was in use among heathen nations, the betrothal of Rebecca was a most grave and solemn ceremony, and the consent of the maiden was formally asked. Jacob had such a high idea of Rachel’s worth that he served her for fourteen years. When the walls of Jericho fell and the inhabitants were put to the sword, the woman Rahab was spared, together with all those who chose to take refuge in her house. The child Moses was rescued and educated by a woman, and his sister, Mary, was a great prophetess whose canticle has come down to us almost as a national hymn. Anna, the mother of Samuel, sang praises to God in language which the inspired writers thought worthy of transmitting to the perpetual remembrance of all generations; the Queen of Sheba was so enamored of wisdom and learning that she came a long and tedious journey to pay homage to the superior gifts of Solomon; Anna, the wife of Tobias, after her husband had lost his sight, earned the wherewithal for their humble home at “weaving-work” (Tob. ii. 19). Sara, the wife of the younger Tobias, prayed God in words that have always been incorporated in the sacred text. Mardochai said pointedly to Queen Esther, “Who knoweth whether thou art therefore come to the kingdom that thou mightest be ready at such a time as this?” and she answered by effectually interceding for her people, though, notwithstanding her regal[82] position, it was only at the risk of her life that she could approach the king unbidden. Her prayer, like all the rest recorded in the Scriptures, is a poem in itself, and points to the true source whence all real courage springs, while it also hallows with religious feeling the deep patriotism peculiar to the Hebrew race. Later on, the mother of the Machabees showed such heroic fortitude under persecution that the Scriptures say of her that she “was to be admired above measure, and was worthy to be remembered by good men.”

Turning to the New Testament, we find woman in equally prominent positions, honored by the special notice of the Man-God himself, and materially aiding in the establishment of his church. Not to speak of the Mother of God, whose influence on the fate of woman has been simply paramount, and leaving aside the fact of his undoubted voluntary subjection to her, as well as that of her intercession, being the immediate occasion of his first public miracle and manifestation at Cana of Galilee—the place of woman in the Gospel history is one that may justly be the pride of her sex. The greater part of our Lord’s miracles were worked in favor of women, most often on their own persons, at other times on persons whom they held dearer than life. Of the first, witness the cure of the mother-in-law of Peter, of the woman healed of an issue of blood, of the daughter of the Chanaanitish woman, to whom Jesus said, “O woman, great is thy faith; be it done to thee as thou wilt” (St. Matt. xv. 28); of the woman bowed down with an infirmity that had afflicted her for eighteen years; also the raising of the daughter of Jairus. Of the second, witness the restoring to the widow of Naim of her only son, whom Jesus raised to life “being moved with mercy towards her” (St. Luke vii. 13), and whom, when he had raised him, he “gave to his mother.” Lazarus, too, dear as he was personally to the Master, was yet raised to a new life chiefly through the prayers and the faith of his sisters, whose sorrow had touched the heart of the divine Saviour. Not only in temporal things, but much more in spiritual, did our Lord seek out women for their cure and salvation. He did not disdain to speak long and patiently with the woman of Samaria, and, instead of heralding his saving presence to her countrymen through his own disciples, he preferred to let her be his messenger. He proposed the modest almsgiving of the poor widow as a model of all true charity. He protected the woman taken in adultery against her pharisaical judges; he commended the woman Magdalen, and prophesied that, wherever the Gospel should be preached, there should her name be also remembered. When he was teaching the multitudes, it was a woman who cried out in touching boldness and pathetic directness of speech: “Blessed is the womb that bore thee, and the breasts that gave thee suck.” Again it was to women that he spoke when, on the path to Calvary, he turned, and said, “Weep not for me, but weep for yourselves and for your children.” Women followed him bravely when men deserted, betrayed, and denied him; women stood beneath his cross while his apostles were hiding in fear, and the solitary friend who never left him was the most woman-like of all his disciples. His last legacy on earth, the last precious thing on which he turned his thoughts, was a woman, and the first person to whom he appeared after his resurrection was also a woman. When the disciples were gathered together awaiting[83] the coming of the Paraclete, a woman was among them: “The mother of Jesus,” as the Gospel says, was there.

Later on, in the Acts of the Apostles, we find women mentioned as most efficacious helpers in the work of the infant church. Tabitha, for instance, a “woman full of good works, and almsdeeds” (Acts ix. 36), and Priscilla, the wife of Aquila, a woman who accompanied St. Paul from Corinth to Ephesus, and there took Apollo, an eloquent and fervent man, and “expounded to him the way of the Lord more diligently” (Acts xviii. 26). Again, Lydia, a seller of purple, “one that worshipped God,” offered hospitality to St. Paul, and “constrained” him to dwell in her house (Acts xvi. 14, 15). St. Paul has been quoted and misquoted so often that one almost shrinks from appealing to his arguments and precepts; yet perhaps even here we may find something new to say, something to point out in a new light, something that the controversialists on the subject of Women’s Rights, on both sides, have, apparently at least, overlooked. We will not dwell on such portions of his Epistles as are always in the mouth of those who aim at relegating woman to an exclusively domestic sphere, but, on the contrary, we will point out words of his, honoring woman so highly that no law of modern times has been able to rival such deference, and no claim of strong-minded female associations would dare to lift itself to such importance. In his First Epistle to the Romans, chapter xvi., he says: “And I commend to you Phebe, our sister, who is in the ministry of the church ... that you receive her in the Lord as becometh saints, and that you assist her in whatsoever business she shall have need of you: for she also hath assisted many, and myself also.” Ministry, of course, stands for help, and is used here in its strict and original sense, as when the Gospel says of our Lord, “And angels came and ministered unto him,” and as when we say the ministrations of charity. Some persons, indeed, have affected to see in this text an implied permission for women to act as priests; common sense and the general tone of the Epistles are sufficiently explicit, however, to undeceive all such as do not on this head voluntarily deceive themselves. The same Epistle we have quoted goes on to say: “Salute Prisca [Priscilla] and Aquila [her husband], my helpers in Christ Jesus; who have for my life laid down their own necks; to whom not only I give thanks, but also all the churches of the Gentiles; and the church which is in their house.” Observe how St. Paul speaks of them without distinction of sex as equally helpers, and how he even mentions the woman’s name first. Again he continues: “Salute Mary, who hath labored much among you ... salute Julia, Nereus, and his sister, and Olympias, and all the saints that are with them.” We have no space for recalling the well-known precepts St. Paul gives concerning both the state of marriage and that of virginity; we would only indicate by a passing notice how truly liberal is his teaching, including both states as honorable, commanding neither marriage nor continence, and providing with minute foresight for each circumstance that human mutability can create. And in one of these, the case being the desertion by an unbelieving consort of the Christian yoke-fellow, he distinctly says: “If the unbeliever depart, let him depart; for a brother or sister is not under servitude in such cases; but God hath called us in peace” (1 Cor. vii. 15). The very custom of calling[84] women “sisters,” universal in the early church, is a token of the respect that was paid them, and of the Christian equality which denied them no legitimate share in the spiritual and social life of man. St. Paul has traced out in one word the whole duty of man to woman when he said, “The elder women entreat as mothers, the younger as sisters, in all chastity” (1 Tim. v. 2). In the First Epistle to the Philippians, he says: “Help those women who have labored with me in the Gospel, ... and whose names are in the book of life.” St. John dedicated a whole Epistle, or letter, to the “Lady Elect and her children, whom I love in the truth, and not I only, but also all they that have known the truth.... And now I beseech thee, lady, not as writing a new commandment, but that which we have had from the beginning, that we love one another.... Having more things to write to you, I would not by paper and ink, for I hope that I shall be with you, and speak face to face, that your joy may be full.” St. Peter, in his First Epistle, does not disdain to give counsel as to the outward dress of women, thus dignifying the subject through the symbolism he wishes it to express. And let not any one of our own times call these counsels either frivolous or interfering, for has not every sect that arose as a self-appointed reformer begun by the restraint on female apparel, typical of moral restraint over our passions and inclinations? Even now, in a mistaken and distorted interpretation of the significance of dress, have not the ultra-advocates of Woman’s Rights laid their “reforming” hands upon the current fashions?

When St. Peter came to Rome, the first house that received him was that of Pudens, a Roman senator, whose wife Priscilla, and whose daughters Pudentiana and Praxedes, became his first converts and his most powerful co-laborers. The two virgins, having become the heiresses of their parents and brothers, sold their vast estates, and gave the price to the suffering and persecuted among their brethren; and, though we read of hundreds of such cases among the women of the early church, we seldom find it so with the men, except in such families where the influence of some female relative resulted in this heroic renunciation. The palace of Pudentiana and Praxedes was converted into a church which for centuries has borne their name, and in which is shown as well the temporary receptacle and hiding-place, says time-honored tradition, of the bodies of the martyrs, carefully collected by these brave women. This church is the oldest in Rome, says a reliable authority, the Rev. Joachim Ventura, whom we shall often have reason to quote in these pages, and it is also the first among those giving titular rank to the order of cardinals.

Among the apostolic women whose names stand beside those of the great saints to whom the church owes her wide sway, St. Thecla has ever been foremost; St. Ambrose, St. Augustine, St. Chrysostom, St. Gregory of Nyssa, St. Gregory Nazianzen, St. Isidore of Pelusium, St. Epiphanius, and St. Methodius, bishops and fathers of the church, have vied with one another in extolling her constancy and her greatness. The last mentioned of these tells us, in his book the Banquet of Virgins, that she was well versed in secular philosophy, and in the various branches of polite literature; he also exceedingly commends her eloquence, and the ease, strength, sweetness, and modesty of her discourse (Butler’s Lives of the Saints). Of the persecution[85] she suffered at the hands of the young pagan to whom she had, before her conversion, been betrothed, we will not speak, neither will we touch upon her miraculous deliverance from the wild beasts to whom she had been thrown, further than to point out, however, that woman has shown more than masculine courage long before modern agitators began to accuse her of degeneracy and tameness. But the secret lay then, as it does now, in the teaching of a church that sees in her children only hierarchies of souls, and that looks upon the body as a mere form, determining respective duties, it is true, but certainly not conferring de jure on the possessors of such forms any superiority or difference of intellectual or moral capacity. A proof of this lies open to all in the fact that women’s names as well as men’s are incorporated in the text of the Mass, and are repeated every day with as much honor, before the altar of God. After the “Commemoration of the Dead,” and in the prayer beginning, “Nobis quoque peccatoribus,” the names of Felicitas, Perpetua, Agatha, Lucy, Agnes, Cecilia, Anastasia, are coupled with those of the apostles and martyrs John, Stephen, Matthias, Barnabas, Ignatius, Alexander, Marcellinus, and Peter, that is, with some of the greatest saints whom even Protestants consent to admire. The church, too, shows her appreciation of the sex and its capabilities by the express words, often used in her liturgy, “devoto femineo sexu,” which, whether translated as usual, the “devout female sex,” or the “devoted,” seems equally honorable to woman and her special characteristics. Virgins and widows are mentioned by name in the prayers used in public on Good Friday, and immediately before them are named the seven orders of the priesthood. The mere fact of so many churches being dedicated to God under the special invocation of some female saint, often one whose history has become obscure and traditional from very remoteness, serves to illustrate the high respect of the Catholic Church for womanhood, and the perfect equality with which she looks upon both her sons and her daughters. The cathedral of Milan, one of the most renowned shrines in the world, is under the patronage of the virgin of whom we have just spoken, the proto-martyr, St. Thecla. The fathers of the church, following the example of St. Paul, call the help of faithful Christian women a ministry, and Ventura tells us that Origen, St. Chrysostom, and Haymon speak of “women having through their good offices deserved to attain to the glorious title of apostles, and having supplemented the work of the evangelists and apostles by their preaching in private houses, especially to persons of their own sex” (Ventura, La Donna Cattolica, vol. i. p. 279). It is related in the Breviarium Romanum, at the part appointed to be read on the 19th of May, that St. Pudentiana once presented ninety persons to St. Pius, Pope, to be baptized, all of them being perfectly instructed in the faith through her teaching alone. St. Martina, who was a deaconess (which answers to religious in the later church), converted and instructed many persons, principally women. The Breviarium honors her as the protectress of Rome. She has also a hymn specially set apart for her office in the Breviarium, and the church dedicated to her in Rome is the richest and most magnificent of those under the patronage of the martyrs. The house of Lucina, a noble Roman matron, was converted into a church, afterwards dedicated[86] to the holy Pope Marcellus. Another church, now called San Lorenzo in Lucina, stands over the tomb which Lucina prepared for that saint. Priscilla, also a Roman lady of high lineage, the wife of the before-mentioned senator Pudens, gave her fortune and her land for a cemetery, to which her name was justly appended. Natalia, the wife of the martyr Adrian, after publicly exhorting her husband to be steadfast in the faith, boldly put on man’s attire to elude the order recently given that no Christian woman should be allowed to visit the prisoners. The Breviarium tells us that St. Justina, upon whom a famous magician named Cyprian had tried all manner of unhallowed arts, so far prevailed over him that she brought him to know the true God, and to abandon his idols and sorceries. But examples such as these of the intellectual influence of women upon their friends, and even upon strangers and enemies, would multiply under our hands into a volume, if we could stop to collect them all.

Martyrdom was, in the early ages, the almost inevitable end of zealous faith and active evangelization. St. Cecilia ranks among the most prominent of those who, strong with a supernatural strength, gladly gave up life, youth, health, and beauty, for the sake of principle. Let us put it in that form, for even now there are many who respect in the abstract a single-minded devotion to principle. This devotion would be essentially called manliness in our day; yet the women of the early church—some mere children in years, some threatened with what would make a woman waver in her determination far more than mere physical torture could, the loss of her honor, some again with natural diseases or weakness upon them—showed a superabundant amount of this very manliness. Cecilia has long been the patroness of music, and we read in her Acts that she employed both vocal and instrumental music in the service of the Most High, fitly using the most beautiful of arts to glorify Supreme Beauty. Her love for the Holy Scriptures was such that she often wore them on her bosom in the folds of her robe, and that long before the Canon of Scripture had been fixed, and before the Holy Book could have the world-wide reputation which the church has now bestowed upon it. Cecilia’s will, made in presence of Pope Urban, consisted in the giving of her palace for a church, and the distributing of her remaining wealth to the poor. Her death was heroic, and, as her life-blood was ebbing slowly from her, she only thought of converting her executioners. Oblivious of bodily pain, she exhorted them to throw off the yoke of idolatry, and succeeded so far as to cause them to exclaim, “It is only a God who could have created such a prodigy as his servant Cecilia!” The body of the martyr was interred in the Catacomb of St. Callixtus, in a chapel hollowed out of the earth, and somewhat larger than the other chambers of the same catacomb: it was the sepulchre of the popes, and the placing of her body in this sepulchre was a mark of the extraordinary respect due to her generous munificence and her heroic courage. Thus has the old church, so truly called the “mother church,” always recognized and rewarded merit, whether in man or woman. Susannah, a relation both of Pope Caius and of the Emperor Diocletian, and daughter to Gabinius, a man as learned as he was noble, was another instance of how religion can reconcile profound instruction with deep piety, and unite[87] both to beauty of person and grace of manner. She was learned, say her Acts, in philosophy, in literature, and in religion. The emperor sent one of his nobles, Claudius, Susannah’s own uncle, to entreat her to marry Maximinus Cæsar, Diocletian’s son. The noble and learned virgin not only refused the alliance, but, strengthened by the approbation of her Christian father and her other uncle, Pope Caius, who were present, spoke so eloquently that Claudius was converted to Christianity. The Acts of the Martyrs record his words in announcing this conversion to his wife: “It is chiefly my niece Susannah who has conquered me. I owe to the prayers of this young girl the happiness of having received God’s grace.” His wife, Prepedigna, and Maximus, his brother, were also won over by her influence, and the latter bears tribute equally to her wisdom, holiness, and her beauty. There could be but one end to such proceedings, a glorious end for all: her friends all suffered martyrdom before her, and she who had braved an emperor’s displeasure without a sign of so-called womanly weakness, met her death in secret with equal courage and joy.

Agnes, the maiden of twelve or thirteen years, is praised by Ambrose, a Christian priest, for her contempt of the jewels with which the son of Symphronius attempted to bribe her: she is also pictured as the very incarnation of youthful bravery, when with holy defiance she scorns the threat of her impure and cruel judge to send her to a place of ill-fame. This threat, often executed, was more than any other the touch-stone of their faith to the Christian virgins of antiquity, while their invariable deliverance from this danger was the reward of their unflinching denial of the power of the false gods, even in the face of this shameful threat. Death would seem a bridal, to judge by the loving alacrity with which these child-virgins ran to meet it. Who can say that the church does not admire and inculcate courage and self-respect in women, since half the martyrs defended their honor as well as their faith with the last drop of their blood?

St. Ambrose, speaking to his sister Marcellina of the martyr Sothera, in whose praises he is enthusiastic, says: “What need for me to seek for examples for thee, who hast been formed to holiness by thy martyred relative? [Sothera was their great-aunt.] ... Brought up thyself in the country, having no companion to set thee examples, no master to teach thee precepts, there were at hand no human means to teach thee what thou has learnt. Thou art no disciple, therefore—for there can be no disciple where there is no master—but the heiress of the virtues of thy ancestress. Let us speak of the example of our holy relative, for we priests have a nobility of our own, preferable to that which counts it an honor to have prefects and consuls among our forefathers: we have the nobility of faith, which cannot die.” These words of grave import are addressed to a woman, and the boast of holy ancestry they contain also refers to a woman. Agatha, the heroine of Catana, and Lucy, the martyr of Syracuse, both noble Sicilian maidens, speak the boldest language to their barbarous judges, and meet death as bravely as any man could face it for his country and his home.

Victoria, a lady of Abyssinia, in Africa, accused of being a Christian, and defended by her pagan brother, who swore she had been deluded into connivance with the Christians, vehemently contradicted him in open court.[88] “I came here of my own accord,” she averred, “and neither Dativus nor any one else beguiled me; I can bring witnesses among my fellow-townspeople to the fact that I came simply because I knew there would be a gathering of our brethren here, under our priest Saturninus, and that the holy mysteries would be celebrated.” She persists when her brother excuses her again as being insane, and eagerly criminates herself in the eyes of the judge, till she succeeds in winning her crown. Forty-eight other martyrs, men and women, heroically suffer the same penalty, greatly comforted and encouraged by her dauntless attitude. At Thessalonica, a woman named Irene was apprehended, together with her five sisters, and was herself chiefly accused of having kept and concealed the books of Scripture, and other papers relating to the Christian religion. Dulcetius, the judge before whom she was brought, and who was president of Macedonia, could elicit from her nothing that could endanger any one but herself, her sisters having been tried and martyred upon the charge of refusing to eat meats consecrated to idols. Her firmness both in screening others and in avowing her eager care for the holy writings, not only gives us a high idea of her moral courage, but also of her intellectual interest in those scarce and valuable works. She suffered death for her dauntless custody of these treasures, and it is related that she sang psalms of praise while ascending the funeral pile.

St. Catherine of Alexandria is a most noted example of the erudition often attained and displayed by Christian women. At the age of eighteen, says the Breviarium Romanum, she outstripped in knowledge the most learned men of her day: Maximinus, who was both a libertine and a tyrant, was cruelly persecuting the Christians of Alexandria, and dishonoring the noble matrons of that city. Catherine boldly and publicly upbraided him, and forced him to listen to her arguments. Her Acts and the Greek Menology of the Emperor Basil affirm that she supported her thesis of Christianity against the arguments of forty of the ablest heathen philosophers, and so effectually confuted them that they preceded her in her martyrdom by declaring themselves Christians, and being forthwith condemned to be burned alive. Catherine, during her imprisonment, converted the wife of Maximinus, and the commander of his army, and further made such an impression upon the crowd assembled to witness her death that many became Christians on the spot. The interesting Church of San Clemente, in Rome, contains one chapel, the walls of which are covered with frescoes illustrative of each of these occurrences; this chapel is supposed to date from the fourth or fifth century, and is a mute witness to the honor with which the memory of the illustrious and learned maiden of Alexandria was, even at that early age, surrounded. Butler, in his Lives of the Saints, says of her: “From this martyr’s uncommon erudition, ... and the use she made of it, she is chosen in the schools the patroness and model of Christian philosophers.” This is by no means the only instance of a woman being honored as patroness in the roads of learning or of art. Later on, we shall have occasion to speak of other saints equally distinguished for their talents and zeal for true philosophy. Butler says in a foot-note to the Life of St. Catherine:[89] “The female sex is not less capable of the sublime sciences, nor less remarkable for liveliness of genius. Witness, among numberless instances in polite literature and in theology, the celebrated Venetian lady, Helen Lucretia Cornaro, doctress in theology at Padua in 1678, the wonder of her age for her skill in every branch of literature, and, still more, for the austerity of her life and her extraordinary piety.”

Most of the martyrs we have hitherto mentioned were virgins: among widows and widowed mothers, we find other heroines whom no bodily torture nor that more bitter anguish of witnessing their children’s sufferings could daunt or even cause to waver.

Symphorosa, a noble Roman matron, denounced by the astrologers of Rome to the Emperor Adrian, bravely confessed her faith in the presence of her seven sons, whom she thus encouraged to do the same. She spoke of herself as honored in being the widow and sister of martyrs, and utterly scorned the proposal to forsake the truth for which they had bled. Here is a foreshadowing of the times of mediæval chivalry, which were but the legitimate offshoot from such a moral atmosphere of pure chivalric heroism as enveloped the lives of the early Christians. Invincible strength and a courage that smiled in the face of death was with the children of the primitive church a point of honor, a family tradition, a hereditary legacy. Another widow and mother, Felicitas, suffered more cruelly yet than Symphorosa; for, under the reign of Marcus Aurelius, she beheld her seven children butchered before her eyes, and never ceased exhorting them to constancy, while her mother’s heart and more natural feeling were suffering a sevenfold martyrdom. She followed her sons to death with fervent joy. St. Augustine was eloquent in her praise, and on one anniversary of her triumph called her death a “great spectacle offered to the eyes of faith,” and herself “more fruitful by reason of her many virtues than of her many children.” St. Gregory, the great father, exalted her by likening her example to a new and spiritual birth of the Saviour in each soul that she thus secured to God, according to the interpretation of the words of the Gospel: “He who does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother, and my sister, and my mother.”

Another St. Felicitas, a Christian slave and widow, with her mistress Perpetua, who had also lately lost her husband, suffered death in the amphitheatre of Tharbacium, near Carthage, in Africa, rather than give up what they knew to be divine truth. Felicitas was martyred a day or two after the premature birth in prison of her child, and, when brutally jeered by the guards at her inability to suffer the pains of childbirth in silence, answered in words that to this day furnish the key to all woman’s superiority as proved by the facts of church history: “It is I that suffer to-day, and nature is weak: to-morrow Jesus himself will suffer in me, and his grace will give my nature the strength it needs” (Acts of the Martyrs). Perpetua, her mistress, but also her sister in Christ (for in the church alone resides true equality), resisted the pleadings of her aged father and the mute appeals of her infant’s unprotected condition, and bore her sufferings as it is said the Spartan women knew how to bear theirs. But while the enduringness both of men and women was in Sparta only the artificial result of compulsory laws, and soon disappeared before the shameful voluptuousness that was natural to all heathen beliefs, that of Christians of both sexes made its mark through successive generations, and lives yet in our less hardy times, because it is intrinsic to the nature of a faith whose God[90] had no more hospitable birthplace than a cold stable, and no better death-bed than a cross.

Blandina, the martyr of Lyons, is justly celebrated for her extraordinary constancy, and the Christians of Lyons who wrote a letter preserved to history by Eusebius, and addressed to their brethren of Asia and Phrygia, extol her as the soul of the heroic stand made by many of their number against idolatry. She was a slave, very young and very weak in health, says this letter, and yet even her executioners marvelled at her powers of endurance, exclaiming: One of the tortures she has suffered ought to have killed her, and she is alive yet after them all! Further on, she is likened to a bold athlete. Some of her companions having wavered, her example and exhortations recalled them to their duty, and Ponticus, a young boy, was the last to die under her eyes, encouraged and upheld by Blandina. Potamiana, another slave, who died in defence of her honor as well as her faith, chose a more lingering death than that to which she was condemned, rather than uncover herself in public, the judge consenting to this change not in pity, but in cruelty. Her executioner became her first convert; many other men likewise came to the faith through visions of this young and steadfast virgin.

We have mentioned women in every sphere and state of life, social and domestic, as endowed with confessedly heroic powers, and capable of attaining high and noble ends in the field of religion, of art, and of philosophy. One class of women, however, remains still to be noticed, and it is perhaps the greatest proof of the church’s universal and instinctive tenderness toward the sex, that among that unhappy class she alone has been able to make fruitful the call of God. The Catholic Church has set upon her altars and in her calendar the names of many illustrious penitents and anchorites, side by side with stainless virgins and matrons of unblemished fame. The Catholic Church alone can restore to fallen woman her rightful inheritance, and so efface the brand of sin that its shame shall be merged into a glory as pure as that of baptismal innocence. To take among the martyrs but one instance of this rehabilitation, let us see what history relates of Afra, the courtesan of Augsburg, in the Roman province of Rhetia, and the present kingdom of Bavaria. Afra was of noble birth, and had many slaves and possessions. She was converted by St. Narcissus, a Christian bishop who was fleeing from the persecution then raging in Gaul. Her household as well as her mother followed her example. She succeeded in concealing Narcissus and his deacon Felix for some time in her own house, and meanwhile diligently applied herself to making converts of her friends and former associates. Denounced in her turn a little later, and sneered at for the contradiction between her past and present life, she answers the judge boldly, admitting humbly that she is unworthy to be called a Christian, yet affirming that the threatened torments will cleanse and purify her body, while the proposed sacrifice to the gods would only further stain and disfigure her soul. Bound to a stake and burned with slow fire, her intrepidity only redoubles, and, having sinned through the weakness of undisciplined nature, she shows a more than manly courage through the new-born strength of grace.

With her, we close the few practical examples of the greatness of woman during the ages of martyrdom, but the spirit that made the martyrs[91] did not die with the last of the canonized victims of the pagan persecutions. St. Jerome speaks of a “daily martyrdom, which consists not in the shedding of blood as a testimony, but in the devout and undefiled service of the mind” (De Laud. S. Paulæ). This we propose to illustrate in a subsequent article, giving historical instances of the actual honor paid in the church to learned, holy, and influential women, rather than entering into abstract controversy on the subject of what is and is not due to her sex. What we have already said in these pages will tend, please God, to remove prejudices, and at least clear the way for evidence still more appreciable by our ambitious non-Catholic sisters, namely, that which goes to show that not only in social and home life, but also in the wide sphere of statecraft and public influence, the church has marked out a noble margin for women’s genius.


Was ever tale of love like this?
The wooing of the Spouse of blood:
Who came to wed us to his bliss
In those eternal years with God?
Those griefless years, those wantless years,
He left them—counting loss for gain—
To taste the luxury of tears,
And revel in the wine of pain!
’Twas sin had mixed the cup of woe
From Adam passed to every lip:
And none could shirk its brimming flow—
For some a draught, for all a sip:
Till Jesus came, athirst to save:
Nor sucked content a sinless breast;
But grasped the fatal cup, and gave
That Mother half, then drained the rest.
Enough the milk without the wine.
When first the new-born Infant smiled,
’Twas merit infinite, divine,
To cleanse a thousand worlds defiled.
But we must take of both. And how
Could love look on, nor rush to share?
Or hear us moan: “Death’s darkness now:
And Thou, at least, wast never there”?
And so he drank our Marah dry:
Then filled the cup with wine of heaven.
Who would not live—with him to die?
Or not have sinned—when so forgiven?

Lent, 1872.




Jans von Steufle was a happy man until he got that donkey. Now, you might think the donkey was left him as a legacy by some dear friend or rich relation, or that Jans found him in the highway some cold wintry night and took him home in pity, or the donkey might have strayed into Jans’ enclosure and refused to go out, but no such thing; Jans bought and paid for all his trouble in good silver coin.

Jans had some comforts, however to compensate: he had a good wife. Some say, “A good wife is a rare thing,” but you never hear that sneer in German-land, for German wives and German children are taught betimes to be good. Jans’ wife kept the house clean and the kettles bright; and made Sauerkraut, [14] and Wurst,[15]and delicious Rahmkäse[16] —ah! it would melt in your mouth—and had always such nicely browned Rinderbraten,[17] and delicate gedämpftes Fleisch,[18] and put vinegar in everything.

Then such beautiful patchwork Bettdecke[19] she stitched together, and such snowy Bettwäsche,[20] you would be floated off to dream of Arabian Nights just to sleep under them. And when her fingers had nothing particular to do, that is, when she walked about the house and garden a little just before supper-time, to see that every corner was clean, and everything in good order, and the pot-herbs coming up properly, or when she went down the lane to drive home the truant chickens and little ducks who were out on some juvenile frolic, did her ten fingers rest? Oh! no, then a thread of yarn came creeping out of her pocket, and click, click, went the needles, and such stockings! You might wear them to the North Pole, only they’d be too warm.

But her great genius and tact lay in garden-making. We do wrong to apply these words to her, for she understood neither, and Jans despised both; rather be it said that her industry was made most manifest when she betook herself (under Jans’ direction, of course) to digging and planting.

Jans had a pleasant way of imparting knowledge, and at the same time making himself comfortable. Seated on a wooden bench in some shaded gravel-walk near the scene of her rural operations, with a pipe in his mouth, he would sit patiently the long hot summer afternoon, directing the putting down of pea-sticks, the tying up of hop-vines, and apportioning off the territory to be allowed to the marauding pumpkins. Some people profess to discover a striking resemblance between the human family and the great family of animals each to each, and they even run a[93] parallel between them in physiognomy; but in a garden the similitude is perfect. No one who cultivates a garden for very love of it but what unconsciously invests his community there with a sort of intelligent existence. They are well-behaved or troublesome; in good health or pining under little ailments. Here a hardy native pushes his way to upper air, heedless alike of deluge or drought, while that other one from some far-away country, like any discontented foreigner, finds nothing to its taste, but must be sheltered, and watered, and gives a deal of trouble. Some are orderly and upright; others are inclined to crooked ways, and seldom amend until tied to a stake. The roots generally stay underground until they are wanted, while some, like the bold, conceited turnips, climb to the surface when not more than half-grown, and bask in the sunlight as if they were roses. The vine tribe care as little as human climbers whom they crush down in their aspiring efforts; onward they trail and take possession, reckless of those who have a better right. Many a pretty little plant have those green vines tyrannized over! As for flowers, we call them modest, bold, gaudy, retiring, even in common speech; and many a habit and inclination do they exhibit to a humble admirer which has never been entered in scientific books. Yes, a garden is a community of wonderful creations, where each one has its peculiarities, and yet each one conforms in a certain degree to the type of its family.

With such loving eyes did Jans and his gute Frau look on their flower-beds and their edibles; and such like matters did they often discourse about, when the spading and raking for the day were done, and she sat on the bench by his side knitting, knitting.

It is doubtful, however, whether they would have noticed matters quite so particularly, not having been educated to abstractions, comparisons, generalizations, and such like metaphysical flights, had not their attention been directed to them occasionally by a third member of their family, the very learned Herr von Heine.

Now, Jans in his efforts at amassing riches had neglected no honest means of success. Consequently, when their two children had both married well and gone to live in distant cities, and he found himself with a spare room in his house, he looked about for a tenant. Then mein herr (as he was called for brevity’s sake) presented himself, and, as his testimonials for respectability and prompt pay were satisfactory, he was soon established in the pretty little chamber with its white curtains, its patchwork bedspread, and a floor so well scrubbed you might have eaten off of it. He somewhat marred the beauty of the spot by an importation of certain odd things which he professed to consider indispensable. There was a regiment of ragged-looking old leather books, and some well-worn coats and dingy dressing-gowns, not to mention an assortment of pipes and tobacco jars and old boots, and a few warlike weapons which stuck out in a protecting way from the top of his book-shelves.

Mein herr was just now direct from the Collegienhaus[21] of the famous University at Königsberg, where he had been giving short lectures and receiving long pay, and being, therefore, on good terms with himself and the world in general, he resolved to[94] rusticate in some secluded spot for the summer, and renovate his faculties for the next winter’s campaign.

No place could be more quiet or better suited for his purpose than his present abode. Here he could spin all kinds of cobweb theories hour after hour, with not a sound to ripple the air and demolish them, for neither Jans nor his wife ever intruded into his apartment. It was only in the soft summer evening twilight that he made his descent to the garden, and indulged in a brief social intercourse with his host and hostess. Indeed, he came almost as regularly as the sun set. His tall, straight figure enveloped in a long black sort of ecclesiastical gown, a jaunty cap on his head, with its tassel hanging down behind, a meerschaum in hand which he was bound to finish before he should retire, behold Mein Herr von Heine!—the embodiment of profound and extended erudition out for a little recreation. Mein herr was always welcome. Pleasant enough was the discourse they all held as he slowly walked up and down the gravel-walk, or took a seat beside them, especially when the subject was farm-matters; and mutually profitable was the exchange between theory and practice; many a pleasant laugh they had, too; and as to the gute Frau, she listened and smiled, and occasionally put in a modest little word, this being, according to her best belief, the extent of “woman’s rights.”

They were sitting thus one June evening, when Jans laid aside his pipe, and said, in his usual deliberate way:

“I think I’ll buy a horse, or a donkey, or a dog-cart, or something, to take all these cabbages to market.”

“Buy a donkey by all means,” said mein herr,[95] “for a donkey, that is an ass, is classical. They are famous in sacred as well as in profane literature. No animal has always been so much the companion of man as the donkey, no one more valuable. An ox and an ass are what we are warned in the commandments not to covet, showing their universality in the days of Moses, besides being what any man in his senses would be most likely to covet. Asses are repeatedly mentioned in the Old Testament. Every one has heard of Balaam’s ass, who was so much wiser than his master. I have often noted the great injustice done to that ass. Balaam bestowed on him three very decided beatings; and although he was fully convinced afterwards that they were entirely undeserved, we have no record that he made the least apology or expressed the least regret. Now, even a donkey deserves justice. Asses have pervaded all ranks in life. There was Debbora the prophetess, the wife of Lapidoth; in the Canticle, where she addresses the brave princes of Israel, she adjures them as ‘you that ride upon fair asses, and sit in judgment, and walk in the way’; on the other hand, Job predicts woe to him ‘who hath driven away the ass of the fatherless.’ Certainly, asses were everywhere. When the wealth of Abraham was counted, he-asses and she-asses made a part of it; and when he was about to ascend the mountain to sacrifice his son Isaac, we are told that ‘he arose and saddled his ass.’ Then there was Abdon, eight years a judge of Israel, who had forty sons and thirty grandsons, ‘all mounted on seventy asses,’ are the words of history. Then there was the Levite of Mount Ephraim—ah! I forget his name—his wife left him and went to stay four months with her father in Bethlehem Juda, and when he went to bring her back, he took with him ‘a servant and two asses,’ one doubtless for her use. Then the jaw-bone of the ass made famous by Samson is well known, I mean the jaw-bone he wielded at Ramathlechi, when he put his thousand enemies to flight. Some of these animals possess virtues worthy of our own imitation; they have displayed oftentimes very great intelligence, and affection for those they serve; as in the case of a certain old prophet who went forth from Juda to Bethel to denounce Jeroboam, and, being misled and turned from his duty by a pretended friend, was killed by the way on his return home; his ass was found standing patient and watchful by the side of his dead master.”

Thus discoursed mein herr; his colloquial efforts were apt to be rather prolix and oratorical, but this was to be ascribed to his profession as lecturer; he was so much accustomed, when he had unearthed an idea, to follow it up and make the most of it—a sort of intellectual fox-chase.

Failing to keep pace with him over such extended and erudite ground, Jans had, nevertheless, a dim notion that it was something to own even one donkey, so he said:

“To-morrow I will buy a donkey.”

“Ah! yes,” said the Frau von Steufle, “and next market-day we will go with a donkey.”

“You will be wise to buy a donkey,” repeated mein herr, “for now I call to mind that Sancho Panza had one whose labors, as he tells us, half-supported his family. I am reminded, also, that the great Cervantes himself rode an ass, as he relates, on a pleasant journey from Equivias with two of his friends. They heard some one clattering up from behind and calling to them to stop, and when he at length overtook them it proved to be a student, who was mounted on an animal of the same sort; he no sooner learned their names than he flung himself off of his ass, says Cervantes, whilst his cloak-bag tumbled on one side, and his portmanteau on the other, and he hastened to express his admiration of the great author of Don Quixote.”[22]

Just at this point both meerschaum and pipe had given forth their last whiff, and the knitting-work had arrived at the middle of a needle; and as the great matter under discussion, the purchase, was considered as wisely decided in the affirmative, they mutually exchanged a kind “Gute Nacht” with the inevitable “Schlafen Sie wohl!”[23]


The day after the above conversation, Jans left his home for a little business in a distant city, and several more elapsed before he returned with his purchase.

Oh! vain boast when Jans von Steufle declared, “To-morrow I will buy a donkey.”

What is a donkey? In one phase of his character, he is the very personification of the stoical philosophy of the ancients; the type of that perfect indifference to all sublunary mutations to which Zeno vainly strives to elevate humankind; patient and enduring under any amount of rain, hail, snow, and sleet that can pour down on him, and any amount of luggage that can be piled upon him; totally, indifferent, in the road he travels, as to its length, direction, hostelries,[96] or hardships, and satisfied, as far as food and sleep are concerned, with the smallest quantity and the poorest quality.

This was Jans’ idea of a donkey, but it was not what he got for his money; he got a little gray beast, with a shaggy hide, a large head, long ears, and a temper.

It was quite dark when Jackey with a boy astride him arrived from the place of his last abode; so he was quietly taken to the comfortable quarters prepared for him not far from brindle-cow, and particular introductions to him were deferred until the next morning.

The next morning ushered in market-day. The edibles had all been gathered in and nicely washed the night before; the flowers also had been culled and tastefully arranged in beautiful bouquets—some small for sweet little love tokens; some larger to decorate the tables and mantel-shelves of those people who are unhappily forced to dwell always among the bricks and mortar of the town, who paid large prices for them, and took them thankfully, as their very minute share of all the glorious and beautiful works of the Creator which are spread around life in the country. Others, again, were tied together in tall pyramid-like forms, the apex a pure white lily or perhaps a white rose, and spreading down from that to the base in blossoms that mingled all the colors of the rainbow. These were destined for the grand altar of the great church; for there were always pious souls in the town ready to expend their good groschen and thalers in adornments for the sanctuary. Very skilful are the fingers of German wives, and great their taste in making up all these tempting little articles of merchandise; and as they lay waiting in the Wohnzimmer[24] of the Von Steufle dwelling-house, you might have thought the whole garden had moved for a departure.

Breakfast was disposed of early, and immediately after it Jackey was brought out for his first load.

“He has good points,” said the learned herr, after taking a leisurely survey.

Jans knew not much about points, but he knew how to put a good load on his back, and this he now proceeded to do.

“Much discretion is necessary in purchasing a donkey,” observed the Herr von Heine—“much discrimination; wisdom and foolishness are so much alike on a cursory view. A demure aspect may represent either; and, then, a staid, dignified manner may proceed from lack of ideas, nay, even absolute stupidity, as well as from profound thought. In dealing with an animal which exhibits these traits, great penetration is called for, or you will be deceived. Then, there is a brightness of the eye, nothing vicious. Ah! I think your animal has it, a sort of exuberance of spirit, a repressed strength which can accomplish deeds almost incredible when opportunity offers. You seldom see this in pictures of the donkey race; painters seem to think it necessary to represent them dull and imbecile, which is far from being correct.”

Mein herr paused, but his friends were both too busy to reply, so he was only met by a “Freilich, mein Herr”[25] from Jans, and a smiling “Ja Wohl”[26] from his helpmate. In German-land, social life has no sharp points and corners to prick and scratch. All is polished and polite, and such a little acknowledgment of attention to a[97] speaker could never be neglected. It was sufficient encouragement for the herr, and he proceeded. He was so accustomed to vibrate between his study and his lecture-room, that to be quite silent or to have all the talking to himself had become most natural to him, so, as we have said, he proceeded.

“Painting recalls to me Polygnotus, mentioned, I think, by Pausanias, yet I’m not quite certain. He was an Athenian painter of great celebrity, and one of his works was an allegorical picture, in which unavailing labor was symbolized by a man twisting a rope which an ass nibbles in pieces as fast as he advanced. These allegorical pictures are pleasant studies, and it is truly surprising to compare all the different interpretations of them by all the different people, who call the same object by totally different names, and of course draw from the entire composition very different conclusions. Things are generally contradictory to themselves as well as to other things, especially when viewed in that dim light which I would call, if I may be allowed an original expression, the mist of ages. We may cite for this Silenus. He is the only heathen god depicted on an ass. Now, the morals and manners of Silenus are very well known, and his association with this quadruped is complimentary to it or not, according to the view taken. It may be a panegyric on a patient, sure-footed, philosophical animal, who could put aside personal feeling in choosing his company, and bear his bibulous rider in safety when he was totally unable to walk. Or was Silenus an immortal in disgrace—degraded from horse, tiger, lion, panther, not to mention chariots and wings, all that gods and men delight in, and doomed to the indignity of donkey-back? If the latter, certainly the creature rose superior to his situation in the end; his voice must have been tremendous! In battle between the gods and giants, when Silenus rode in among them, it was his sonorous bray that threw the giant ranks in confusion and actually put them to flight. He was well rewarded for this service, for justice is in the sky if not on earth. He was exalted to the constellations. Search the star-lighted sky for Cancer, and you will find in it the once humble Asellus of Silenus.

Midæ aures, the asinine appendages which the king was forced to accept so unwillingly on Mount Tmolus (a proper reproof to captious criticism),

‘Induiturque aures lente gradientis aselli,’[27]

were evidently a compliment to the quadruped; for certainly Apollo meant them for an improvement on his own, which had so signally failed him.”

Here mein herr came to a decided stop necessarily, for the donkey was at last loaded, and such a load! Nothing but a donkey could have stood under it, much less walk! It was cabbages this side, potatoes that side, cauliflowers in the middle. Then salad laid on loose; then celery stuck in endwise; then great bunches of sage and savory and thyme, and herbs for the soup, Petersilie and der Rettig. All these, hung on everywhere, made Jack so fragrant that his coming could be known long before he was in sight. Lastly, was a delicate little basket of eggs, engaged long ago by a dainty customer, swinging easily, so as not to break, under all.


As Jack was pretty nearly buried out of sight under the substantials of trade, the Frau von Steufle took the flowers for her share, and she was equally well laden. She could only be said to resemble an immense walking bouquet, with a pleasant, happy face peering out from its midst. Truly, the two were worth seeing. As for Jans, his great responsibility was load enough for him, and so, with good wishes and great expectations, they departed.

The Herr von Heine was alone all that long summer day. It was rather a pleasant variety at first. Solitude has charms about it. He wandered through the house, and explored every nook in the garden, and went a long way over the grass to look at the pigs; he fed the chickens and even patted the cow. The old cat seemed to think it incumbent on her to show him the premises. At all events, she escorted him hither and thither, now turning somersaults in front of him, now flying up a tree to take a bird’s-eye view of him, or perhaps to show him there were some feats not to be learned in books; then down again, in a sentimental sort of humor rubbing her head and ears against him, under his very steps; she quite disturbed his equilibrium.

The large house-dog, or, rather, yard-dog, for there he lived, looked on with a more suspicious air, as if he should like to be informed what this new state of things meant; and after returning the learned Herr von Heine’s proferred intimacy with the slightest possible wag of his tail, he walked off to attend to his own business.

Perhaps mein herr added a trifle that holiday to his stock of knowledge. He had evidently descended from his pedestal of dignity, and he enjoyed it vastly; besides, he had often introduced such things in an illustrative or figurative manner to his classes, and it was as well to make himself familiar with their surroundings.

But it was getting late now, the sun had set, twilight deepened into darkness, or rather moonlight. Where could the three be staying? Jans and his good wife were always home from market long before this hour, even when each carried a load with a barrow to wheel by turns!

He walked down to the road-way, and gazed long and anxiously into the distance. No signs of them yet! Where could they be? He returned to the house, and, ascending to his chamber, selected from among his books a volume in Latin by the renowned Cornelius Agrippa. He turned to the last chapter, “Ad Encomium Asini Digressio.”[28] He felt an intense interest at this moment in asses. It was possible some of their peculiarities had escaped his knowledge; he desired to ascertain. But he failed, under the peculiar circumstances, to fix his attention, so he laid the book aside, and returned to the regions below; to his solitary stroll up and down the gravel-walk, with an occasional pause for a long and anxious survey of the road. Even his meerschaum was forgotten or uncared for.

“But Time is faithful to his trust:
Only await, thou pining dust.”

Time, which does so much, at length brought them home. To his great relief, the trio reappeared, and, creeping slowly along, turned from the road into the gravel-walk and reached the house, all three evidently depressed in spirits.



Jackey had been turned loose in the paddock on his return, not for good behavior; and he alternated there between nibbling the grass as assiduously as if he had engaged to mow the whole before next daylight, and standing still with his head thrust down and fixed, as motionless as if he had been carved out of stone.

“A singular animal truly,” said mein herr to himself as he looked down from his chamber window. “He reminds me—”

Here a summons to supper interrupted the reminiscence; and, when they were all revived with the delicious hot coffee and cream which the Frau von Steufle knew so well how to mix, Jans entered on his adventures as follows:

“I thought a donkey was a great traveller, and very careful and mindful, and to be trusted, and good on bad roads, and could eat what a donkey ought to eat, and not steal what was not meant for him.”

“Of course,” said the Herr von Heine; “you are right, he is a great traveller. I tried one myself on the Alps, that is, I began the Alps on a donkey; most people begin the Alps on a donkey, next a mule, then on foot, if they try Mont Blanc. I well remember the last view I took of the Jungfrau and its avalanches from the Wengern Alps. At the Hospice of St. Bernard I took a comfortable meal from the good monks, and then on foot and mule-back I mounted by way of Martigny and Tête Noire to Chamouni. In Egypt there is nothing like a donkey for the desert; when I was at Cairo (that was in my student life), many a pleasant morning I started out on a donkey, and spent the day among the ruins about there. Great climbers they are, so obedient and sure-footed. The little white donkeys of Egypt are beauties, long silky hair; the pashas value them highly. Certainly the ass is a traveller; the wild asses of Syria are fleet as the wind. Then, what would Rome be without donkeys? or any part of Italy, for that matter? Along the coasts, the bay of Naples, Mount Vesuvius, now over sand and stones and lava, and volcanic ashes fetlock-deep, now to explore pleasant fields, and woody paths, and old highways, always picking his way so carefully up and down steep places, by some path of his own you fail to see—why, you may ride on one to the very verge of a precipice, and take your view from his back, as safely as if you crept there on hands and knees! Oh! yes, they are great travellers, though sometimes slow.”

“Very slow is Jackey,” responded his owner, “so slow that a good part of the time he stood still.”

“Possible?” queried mein herr. “Perhaps his load was rather—but yet, you can hardly overload a donkey. Why, in Rome they are perfect moving heaps of fagots, hay, fruit, old clothes, mats, brooms, and brushes, and everything, in fact, that is salable and movable, with a dirty, swarthy peasant striding beside him as driver, or, it may be, a boy; but, no, I should say they are always driven by a mob of boys. I hold that the most gregarious of all animals is the human biped in its youth; and if I were called upon for a centre-piece, with most power to collect around it these juvenile swarms of the genus homo, I should name a Roman donkey. Before him, behind him, a body-guard on each side, all sizes, in all sorts of garments, or, rather, in all degrees of nudity, shouting, yelling, laughing, talking, and each one using all his powers to increase[100] the speed of the poor little beast—there you have a Roman donkey! I have been told of a scene in Rome. A little ass whose panniers were two good-sized baskets of eggs; it was about Easter time, when eggs are valuable. To hasten him, his driver, a tall, ragged peasant, struck him smartly, which offended him. He stood still a moment, then deliberately laid himself down, and rolled over. The peals of laughter which greeted the donkey as he arose, daubed and dripping with the yellow semi-liquid, the bewailings of his owner, all together were worth seeing. In no place in Europe are they as poorly fed and as much abused as by the lower classes in Paris; truly they are miserable-looking wretches there, bony, sulky, dirty. I have often wished to apply to the back of the ragged, screaming boy-driver the stick with which he was cudgelling his poor donkey. Monsieur Chateaubriand says he would gladly be the advocate of certain creatures, works of God, despised by men, and ‘en première ligne,’ says he, ‘figuereraient l’âne et le chat.’

“The heavy-laden ass is a verity in ancient lore; even its name is used to express hardship and endurance; as from the Greek word ὄνος, an ass, is supposed to be derived the Latin onus, signifying a burden.”

Mein herr made a pause, he was evidently lapsing into the delusion that he was in his Collegienhaus, lecturing on donkeys. The gentle frau recalled his wandering wits by observing, in a low, sad voice:

“Oh! he shook so many things off; all lost; he shook half his load off in the creek!”

“Indeed!” exclaimed the herr, “is it possible! that was not to be expected of him. Many classical writers mention loading the ass, but I cannot recall a single instance where he unloaded himself in a creek!

“Horace, it is true, refers to what might be a little sulkiness under a heavy load, when he represents himself as a sort of discontented donkey under the infliction of some of his troublesome friends:

‘Demitto auriculas ut iniquæ mentis asellus
Quum gravius dorso, subiit onus.’[29]

“Then, the poor creature has been at times imposed on in a manner which might excuse resentment. In ancient Rome, for instance, on sacred days all labor was forbidden, with the exception of some certain kinds considered necessary.

‘Quippe etiam festis quædam exercere diebus
Fas et jura sinunt.’[30]

“The works allowed were setting traps for birds which were hurtful, ordering the trenches which irrigated the fields, and some few others of like kind. To the rustics, permission was granted to carry their farm produce to market on sacred days, and they also might bring a load back. This was allowed them in order that this business might not interrupt them on working-days. Now, a load with them necessarily demanded an ass; consequently the ass knew no sacred day, no day of rest from his burdens, and such loads, Mynheer von Steufle!

‘Sæpe oleo tardi costas agitator aselli
Vilibus aut oneras pomis; lapidemque revertans
Incusum,’ etc.[31]


“Oil, cheap fruits, millstones, black pitch! Ah! mein lieber Freund what a load! I hardly believe they prefer thistles to grass, as some say, but they will subsist on one-third of what is required by a horse under all this labor.”

Jans looked at him ruefully and incredulous:

“Some may—some of them may—but I count Jack two horses at the least. He must have been eating all night, for he had enough put before him; and to-day, why, you’d think he hadn’t seen a corn-husk in a month. He ate apples and cauliflowers, and a peck of peas, and—and—”

The Frau von Steufle supplemented the catalogue of enormities.

“All my roses, thorns and all, and Katrina von Dyke’s beautiful tulips that she had just sold, and my tallest bouquet, the one that was engaged for the grand altar. O dear! what will they do? Then he chewed up a nice bonnet, and he overset the things! Dear me, so much mischief! Ah me!”

“Yes, yes,” said Jans, “it is well to say, ah me! Look at the bills that will come in to-morrow!”

“Truly,” said the herr in a tone of commiseration, “it is surprising. It was not to be expected! Yet we must look at the best of it. Horace says:

‘Nemo adeo ferus est, ut nom mitiscere possit
Si modo culturæ patientem commodet aurem.’”[32]

“I know not what that may mean, Mein Herr von Heine,” said Jans, “nor do I know the Herr Horace; but I wish, if he wants a donkey, he would take mine. I wish he had him.”

The herr was silenced.

Morning came, and with it a heavy bill to Jans von Steufle for damages done by a certain donkey, who did kick, bite, tear, trample on, and devour a long list of things belonging to a long list of persons.

Evening came, and with it came a lad, halter in hand, which he quietly knotted round Jackey’s neck, and led him away, looking as solemn and as amiable as when he first arrived.



“Our clock strikes when there is a change from hour to hour; but no hammer in the horologe of time peals through the universe when there is a change from era to era.”[33] So writes Mr. Carlyle in one of his powerful essays; and he is correct. As gradually and as silently as childhood passes into youth, and youth into manhood, and manhood again into old age, so does a nation and the world itself pass from one era into another. But if the signal of such a change is not heard sounding through the world, the moment of the transition is foreknown and has been preordained by God, under whose eye all agents throughout the universe are ever acting out their parts. Men are sometimes taken by surprise, but God never. Men are often mistaken in their calculations of the action of natural forces, but it cannot be so with God. A revolution brews like an angry storm, all in silence; and bursts; and a nation is shivered into fragments. Men are amazed; they have made a false reckoning; but the storm has brewed under the eye of God, and gathered its hidden forces, and burst at the very moment that God allowed it, and the havoc has been done up to the time which he has marked out. This is the expression of a great Catholic principle of history which it is well, especially in this age of godless theories, to keep constantly before our minds. We are about to endeavor to show how powerfully the truth of this great historical principle is brought out in that part of history to which our subject refers, for it is well said by Cesare Cantu in his Storia Universale,[34] “If ever history was manifested as a visible order of Providence, it was in these times.”

As we pass from the fourth into the fifth century, we come into a new era of the history of the church. The fourth age was one of mental strife; it was an age of great minds. The enemy of the church in the time of the persecutions had been brute force; now it was power of intellect. But God always has his champions ready. In the persecutions, they were the martyrs; in the fourth age, they were the Athanasiuses and the Ambroses. But in the fifth age the men of God’s choice are of another type. They are men out of the darkness, savages of the forest, wild dwellers amid the ice-mountains and the swamps. They have known no civilizing influences; they are nature’s children, and hardy as the rock and granite. They have reason, it is true; but it does not guide them on their strange, savage mission. They are all driven on by an instinct that is irresistible.

The words of Alaric are the expression of the feelings of all those wild warriors. As the Gothic leader is marching towards Rome at the head of his army, a solitary goes out from his grotto to arrest him in his course. “No,” replies Alaric, “a mysterious voice within me says: March on, go and sack Rome.” So[103] we are told by Socrates[35] and Sozomen[36] in their histories. Thus, then, they go to their stupendous work of destruction. That work is characterized by blood, and smoke, and the crash of falling cities. The age is one of chaos. Never before since the world began were there such wild ruin and devastation; never such terrible levelling to the ground of human grandeur; never such savage smashing up of the monuments of luxury and worldly greatness. It would, indeed, be difficult to describe adequately what is so confused and so chaotic. When the storm-clouds have gathered and overshadowed us with darkness, when the lightning-fires flame through the sky and scathe the forest-trees, and the blinding raindrops drive in fury through the air, can we see any order in it all? Can we draw lines and mark out clearly the different elements of the storm? No. It is only when the storm is spent and the air becomes clear again that the eye can discern what havoc has been done. The giant oak has been cleft by the storm-spirit’s fiery sword; the lofty tower has been hurled down from its stately height; the rocks have been split, and the earth’s surface torn up, as by the bursting of some mighty engine of war. So it would be difficult to describe, with anything like clearness of method, the mighty storm which burst upon the Roman Empire in the fifth century. However long we pore over the pages of Paul Orosius or Salvian, we still rise from our study with bewildered brain. God lets loose his wild messengers of wrath, and they do their savage work in their own savage way. We can see no order in it—to our eye there is none. We hear the wailing cries of despair, and the frenzied howls of the conquering barbarians, and the loud re-echoing crashes of the falling empire. But it is only when the smoke has cleared off and the dust has subsided that we can form any idea of the ruin and devastation which have been accomplished. If our task, then, were mainly to draw an accurate and true picture, we should fail. But it is rather to give a view of a period of history from a Catholic philosophical standpoint: it is to show, as far as we can, the action of God on human affairs. It will be necessary, then, first to point out what the mission of the Roman Empire was—a mission to build up: and then the causes which prepared the way for the mission of the barbarians—a mission of sweeping destruction.

At the time when the Son of God came down upon earth, the Roman Empire was at the height of its splendor and power. Never in the history of the world had there been an empire in every way so wonderful. Never before had there been a power so mighty and all-embracing in its dominion. All that had been great and brilliant in the civilization of the empires of old had come down to Rome, and had undergone a boundless development there. This truth is powerfully put forth in the words of the first professor of the philosophy of history at the Catholic University of Ireland. We will quote his words: “The Empire of Augustus,” he says,[104] “inherited the whole civilization of the ancient world. Whatever political and social knowledge, whatever moral or intellectual truth, whatever useful or elegant arts the enterprising race of Japheth had acquired, preserved, and accumulated in the long course of centuries since the beginning of history, had descended without a break to Rome, with the dominion of all the countries washed by the Mediterranean. For her the wisdom of Egypt and all the East had been stored up; for her Pythagoras and Thales, Socrates, Plato and Aristotle, and all the schools besides of Grecian philosophy suggested by these names, had thought; for her Zoroaster, as well as Solon and Lycurgus, legislated; for her Alexander conquered, the races which he subdued forming but a portion of her empire. Every city in the ears of whose youth the Poems of Homer were familiar as household words, owned her sway. Her magistrates, from the Northern Sea to the confines of Arabia, issued their decrees in the language of empire—the Latin tongue; while, as men of letters, they spoke and wrote in Greek. For her Carthage had risen, founded colonies, discovered distant coasts, set up a world-wide trade, and then fallen, leaving her the empire of Africa and the West, with the lessons of a long experience. Not only so, but likewise Spain, Gaul, and all the frontier provinces from the Alps to the mouth of the Danube, spent in her service their strength and skill; supplied her armies with their bravest youths; gave to her senate and her knights their choicest minds. The vigor of new, and the culture of long-polished, races were alike employed in the vast fabric of her power. In fact, every science and art, all human thought, experience, and discovery had poured their treasure in one stream into the bosom of that society which, after forty-four years of undisputed rule, Augustus had consolidated into a new system of government, and bequeathed to the charge of Tiberius.”[37]

This passage from Mr. Allies is like a brilliant flash of light thrown on Rome’s greatness; but yet it only gives us a glimpse. It would take us long to form to ourselves an adequate idea of this greatest of empires. We should have to make long journeys through her extensive provinces, measure her vast cities, march along her grand roads, and, after we had journeyed over all the civilized world of those days, we should still be within the circuit of the mighty empire. Her sway extended over the three then known continents: “Gaul and Spain, Britain and North Africa, Switzerland and the greater part of Austria, Turkey in Europe, Asia Minor, Syria and Egypt, formed but single limbs of her mighty body.”[38]

It is wonderful, again, to think of what Pliny calls the “immensa Romanæ pacis majestas.” The inconceivable majesty of Rome in the time of peace was, perhaps, more overpowering than anything else about her. Having a boundlessness of empire such as we have described, containing within her circuit a population, according to Gibbon, of 120,000,000, looking round from her throne of supreme authority, and claiming all as her own that was visible to the eye of civilization, she could stretch forth her sceptre over all this immeasurable area and over these countless peoples, and hold all in submission and peace. We cannot, then, be surprised that Rome ruled over the nations as a goddess; that divine power and majesty were believed to belong to her. Her sway was felt from the Rhine and the Danube to the deserts of Africa, from utmost Spain to the Euphrates, like an ubiquitous presence. Her eye of authority reached from one extremity of the world to the other, and she had her 340,000 men stationed on the frontiers, looking with watchful ken into the vast unknown solitudes beyond, and ever ready to hurl back[105] the savage hordes of external foes, if perchance they stepped forward for a moment from their native darkness. Very few forces were needed to preserve internal order. That same Gaul which in 1860 required 626,000 armed men to preserve internal order and for external security in time of peace, had a garrison of only 1,200 men in the days of old Rome.[39] Well then may Pliny and the old Roman authors speak with such admiration of the “immensa Romanæ pacis majestas.” Nothing had ever been seen on the earth so imposing and so grand. No empire had ever existed with such a boundless sway, such wonderful internal organization, such a union of strength, such compactness of power, and such an awe-inspiring name. And at the time of Augustus there was no sign of decay or deterioration. Rome was, on the contrary, rising higher and higher in cultivation and refinement. We may here quote the words of Tertullian in his treatise De Anima; they give us a vivid and beautiful picture of the Roman Empire of his day. “The world itself,” he says, “is opened up, and becomes from day to day more civilized, and increases the sum of human enjoyment. Every place is reached, is become known, is full of business. Solitudes, famous of old, have changed their aspects under the richest cultivation. The plough has levelled forests, and the beasts that prey on man have given place to those that serve him. Corn waves on the sea-shore, rocks are opened out into roads; marshes are drained, cities are more numerous now than villages in former times. The island has lost its savageness, and the cliff its desolation. Houses spring up everywhere, and men to dwell in them. On all sides are government and life.” And so we might go on indefinitely, describing Rome’s power, and riches, and civilization, and never succeed in giving an idea equal to the great reality. Then, as we think of all this, we are led to ask ourselves, How is this mighty empire ever to fall? Other empires, we know, rose and fell, but at their highest point of greatness they could not be compared to the Empire of Rome. All that they had of might and majesty and durability Rome has, and immeasurably more. Men have not known how to qualify her power, nor how to designate her except by calling her “Eternal Rome.” Where, then, can another power come from that shall be able to cope with her? She looked as durable as the very firmament which God had set on immovable pillars, more lasting than the rock-built earth on which she had grown and developed for nearly a thousand years. Her existence was inconceivable before she began to be; her ceasing to exist was as inconceivable afterwards. It seemed as if to destroy her would be to split the earth itself on which she was based, or to shiver the universe, which she seemed to embrace in her mighty arms. Of her capital itself a great living writer says:[106] “Look at the Palatine Hill, penetrated, traversed, cased with brick-work, till it appears a work of man, not of nature; run your eye along the cliffs from Ostia to Terracina, covered with the débris of masonry; gaze around the bay of Baiæ, whose rocks have been made to serve as the foundations and the walls of palaces; and in those mere remains, lasting to this day, you will have a type of the moral and political strength of the establishments of Rome. Think of the aqueducts making for the imperial city for miles across the plain; think of the straight roads stretching off again from that one centre to the ends of the earth; consider that vast territory round about it, strewn to this day with countless ruins; follow in your mind its suburbs, extending along its roads for as much, at least in some directions, as forty miles; and number up its continuous mass of population, amounting, as grave authors say, to almost six million; and answer the question, How was Rome ever to be got rid of? Why was it not to progress? Why was it not to progress for ever? Where was that ancient civilization to end?”[40] After looking at Rome with a human eye, this is the way we should speak; these are questions we should ask. To the human eye, Rome was based on everlasting foundations, and was to be immortal. There was no power—there could be no power sufficiently mighty to move her from her seat. But looking at her from the standpoint of the great Catholic principles of history, we shall use language very different. We shall say that Rome, however mighty and well based, will last no longer than serves the wise designs of God’s providence. He raised her up, as he has raised other empires, for a mission; when that mission is fulfilled, he will say to her, “Perish,” and she will wither away and gradually die, or, if so be his pleasure, she will be swept, as by the fury of a storm, from the face of the earth. It was the latter judgment that actually fell upon her, and we have to see in the course of this essay with what terrible reality it was carried out.

Mighty as Rome was, so was she intended for a mighty mission. She had subdued the world, and the world was at her feet. Her great highways cut through her immense empire in every direction. By these broad roads the riches of the provinces were carried to her bosom, and by these roads went forth her legions to guard the distant frontier. She had given her own language to the various races which she had bent under her sway, so that her word of command was understood and obeyed in every part of her wide empire. At this point, then, in the course of her history, God had determined to appear, in visible form, on the scene of human events. When the world was thus at peace, and under the sway of this mightiest of empires, the Prince of Peace came on earth. Circumstances never could have been more favorable for the establishment of his kingdom. It strikes us, then, here at once, that the evident mission of the Roman Empire was to prepare the way for Christianity. In spite of the opposition of pagan gods; in spite of sensual passions and human pride, the Crucified will have Rome, as has been long ago preordained, for the seat of his own wonderful empire. Thence his missionaries will go forth, like Rome’s own conquering legions, but unto still more glorious conquests than they. The broad Roman roads will rejoice more under the footsteps of these new conquerors than ever they did in days before under the tramp of warlike battalions returning booty-laden to the great capital. Everything is ready for the prosecution of these new conquests. The provinces are at peace and ready to receive these Heaven-sent messengers. Men seem to be waiting for some voice that shall be heard sounding through the world telling them to lay down their swords for ever, to forget their strifes, and that they are all brothers. Such a voice is now to be heard. The language of Rome has made itself universal in order that it may be the organ of a universal religion.[107] When the first revelation was made, the language of the human race was one; so was it necessary that, when a new revelation was about to be given to men, they should be brought back again to unity of language, in order that revelation might be universally received, and be transmitted to future ages. The great Roman conquerors had no thought, whilst they went forth to conquest with their countless warriors, full of ideas of human glory and lust of booty, that they were the simple instruments of him who was ruling in the heavens, and whom they knew not. But so it was. And we see how God’s designs were carried out. We see, in course of time, the aged fisherman, from the Galilean Lake, wending his way toward the great Roman capital. As he walks along the Via Appia with his scrip and staff, he is the symbol of simplicity and human weakness. But mark you well that old way-worn form. There walks the first of the great race of Popes. He represents no contemptible power, that weak-looking wayfarer. He bears with him a secret source of strength which will give him courage against all obstacles. Though he looks so mean in his Jewish garb, yet he is a conqueror such as the world has not yet seen. He has no legends at his back, no surroundings of earthly might to make the world tremble before him. But he bears with him something mightier than Roman armies, and far more irresistible: it is the Cross of Jesus Christ. March on, old man, to the great city that is called the mistress of nations and omnipotent. Fear not; thou shalt subdue her with thy poor wooden cross, and plant in her midst thy everlasting throne. Yea, of a truth, the throne which that old man shall establish there shall be the first immovable throne which the world has ever seen. The throne of Cambyses has passed away; the throne of Alexander has crumbled to dust; and the throne of the Roman Cæsars will soon be buried in the wreck of barbarian invasion. But the throne of the fisherman will stand firm where he planted it, whilst everything around perishes and crumbles away. Nations and kings will mistake it for a human thing, and they will, in their blind rage, rush against it to overturn it; but they will dash themselves to pieces in the collision, and they will be seen lying around in scattered fragments, whilst that throne itself still remains immovable. So, then, the fisherman, conscious of his great mission, enters into the mighty city which God had been preparing for him those long ages. That was a solemn moment for the world, though the world knew it not. Other conquerors enter into the capitals of kingdoms with great pomp and a mighty array of armed men; and perhaps their hold upon the subdued cities is of short duration. The tide of human affairs quickly changes, and perhaps the conquerors themselves are in their turn the conquered and the captive. But this meek old man has no armed force to awe men into submission. He is the centre of no pageant. He walks on his way in silence. He has nothing but his staff and his scrip and his little wooden cross, which in reality is his sceptre. But he enters Rome to take a lasting possession of it. Not all the world in arms will ever again be able to make a permanent conquest of that city. A mystery will henceforth hang about it for ever. It will always look like a city of the past, and yet it will hold within it the life of all peoples and nations to come. By degrees, other kings shall leave it altogether to Peter and his successors, as if scared away by[108] the mysterious presence of Christ’s vicar. And if, in the course of ages, men dream like Rienzi of the great days of ancient Rome, and long to see the old pagan prestige of the city brought back, and then come with their mailed hands and strike the mysterious power that God has established there, their mailed hands shall wither, and they will fall back stricken by Heaven in their turn, as Oza was in past days for his irreverence.

When, then, Peter had taken possession of his city, the rapid spread of Christianity began. Here was the throne of the head of the church established in the very centre of civilization and of the Western World. We cannot think that Romulus and his wild robber-followers had any profound design in fixing the site of their city on those seven hills. No; but God had. It is remarkable that Rome seems built to be even naturally and physically the centre of the world. “Nothing,” says Father Lacordaire, “is isolated in things; the body, the soul, divine grace, everything is united; all is harmonious. The body of man is not that of the irrational animal; the configuration of a country intended for one destiny is not the same as that of a country appointed to another destiny, and the general form of our globe is as full of reason as of mystery.”[41] The ancients seem to have had a traditional knowledge of this; hence it was that, when they built their cities, they made a deep and religious study of the spot which was chosen as the site. Looking, then, first at Italy, we see that God formed it for a great purpose. It is curious to remark how Asia, Africa, and Europe are united, as it were, together by the basin of the Mediterranean Sea, which also opens toward the West to allow the vessels of all nations to sail to the American continent. Into this central Mediterranean Sea, Italy shoots out its long length. On its northern side it is strongly guarded by ridges of mountains, and seems thus designed to be defended from Europe, whilst it is its heart. Almost in the centre of this Italian peninsula, more to the south than the north, and more westward than eastward, Rome is seated. She is built on seven hills, and by the borders of the Tiber, whose yellow waters roll sluggishly along between banks bare and uninteresting, and destitute of that green verdure which gives such a charm to the rivers of our own country. At a distance of six leagues eastward rises the dark line of the Apennines; looking westward, you may catch a view from some elevated spot of the bright-glancing waters of the Mediterranean; northward rises the isolated Soracte, towering up like a mighty giant, and seeming to stand as guardian of the plain. Directing your gaze southward, your eye falls on the pleasant hamlets of Castel-Gandolfo, Marino, Frascati, and Colonna.[42] In this centre of the world, then, made such by God when he formed the globe; in this centre, so wonderfully adapted for easy communication with the rest of the world, God has his central city built, and when the hour comes which he preordained in his wise Providence, he conducts the Fisherman-Pope there, and bids him there abide till the end of time. It is not likely, then, that any other city of the world, either Jerusalem or Constantinople, or any great capital yet to be built, can supplant Rome in the honor of being the city of the Popes, or that any[109] other country will be in as true a sense the chosen country of God as Italy is. Italy was chosen, as we have seen, to be the heart of the world. Then God chose to have this great central capital from which the light of Christianity was to radiate to the four quarters of the globe. It would be easy to show what a glorious and conspicuous part she has acted in all ages through the church’s history. It is Italy which has given to the church almost the whole long line of Pontiffs who have filled the chair of St. Peter. From Italy have gone forth almost all the greatest missionaries of the world. St. Innocent says, in his Epistle to Decentius, that all the great founders of Christian churches in Gaul, Sicily, Spain, and Africa came from this favored county. To her also is Germany indebted for her first apostles; and, unless we credit the legend of Joseph of Arimathea, we must own that Christianity was first brought over into Britain by missionaries from Rome. And we are not surprised that Italy is so prolific in apostles and preachers. Nearest to the heart does the life-blood flow most quickly. Under the eye of Christ’s Vicar, and under the shadow of his presence, has the Christian life always been best realized. We cannot, then, wonder that the history of Christian Italy should furnish the highest and the most glorious pages of the history of the church. She is glorious in her countless martyrs, in her learned doctors, in her great founders of religious orders. With all this before us, we can understand the soul-stirring words of Luigi Tosti to the Italian clergy. “State sa,” he cries out, “Leviti dell’ Italiano chericato, abitatori della terra in cui la chiesa impresse sempre la prima orma dei suoi passi, quando procede all’ assunzione di una forma novella. Scalza, perseguitata, cruenta di martirio in Pietro: ricca, guistiziera, fulminatrice in Ildebrando; bella, copulatrice di due civiltà nel decimo Leone; e sempre in Italia.” We lose much of the fire and vigor of the original by translating these words into our own language, but yet we may, perhaps, venture to render them thus: “Arise, Levites of the Italian clergy, dwellers in that land on which the church always imprints her first foot-mark whenever she is about to take up a new form. Barefooted, persecuted, red with the blood of martyrdom in Peter; rich, rigid, hurling anathemas in Hildebrand; beautiful, uniting the two civilizations in the tenth Leo; and always in Italy.”[43]

Returning, then, to what we have already said regarding the Roman Empire, and seeing how wonderfully God has arranged all things for the establishment of his holy religion, we may form to ourselves an idea how rapidly the truths of Christianity would spread throughout the world. Now we see a nobler and higher use for those grand Roman roads than ever entered into the minds of those who designed and constructed them; now we perceive the advantage of that one noble Latin language being the established language of the empire; now we take in more perfectly the great design of God in laying so many nations at the feet of Rome, and inspiring them with such veneration for her very name. Thus favored on all sides, Christianity soon made its way into the cities and towns of the wide-spreading empire. We have been amazed as we have observed God working out in detail this grand scheme for the propagation of his religion. We have seen and wondered at the mighty power of that Word which was confided by[110] Jesus Christ to the apostles and their successors. We have seen it captivating the rich and the poor alike, and baffling and finally humbling at its feet the proud philosophers themselves. We know how in a few years the Christians could be counted by thousands in Rome itself, and how they were found wherever the Roman legions had penetrated. From Rome, as from a great central sun, the light of truth shone far out in all directions, and Christian churches seemed to rise as by an invisible power, in all cities and towns near and far distant, and then shoot forth their beautiful brightness into the surrounding darkness. In Africa, as Alzog and Döllinger relate, the Christians soon outnumbered the pagans. And we know well, for there is no one who has not read them, the famous words of Tertullian, in his Apologetica: “We are but of yesterday, and already we fill your towns, your villages, your fortresses, your islands, your assemblies and your camps, the senate and the imperial court; we leave you nothing but the temples.” In studying the first ages of the church’s history, what glorious things do we witness, and how strongly is the conviction forced upon us that God is there ruling events and using men for his own great purposes! We see the Roman legions transforming themselves, as did the Thundering Legion, into so many phalanxes of conquering Christians, who rushed to victory under the impulse of the grand idea that they were thus subduing new countries to the rule of Christ.[44] We see those victorious legions carrying with them their laws, their customs, and their schools to the banks of the Rhine and the Danube, and there planting civilization and the faith of Christ. We wonder less at this when we think what noble Christian hearts were burning in the breasts of those brave men, and how oftentimes they laid down their lives as martyrs for Christ’s name. We can never forget the noble Theban legions dying at the foot of the Alps, thus giving by their heroic martyrdom the first lessons of Christian teaching to the people of Switzerland. In the camps of Rhætia, Noricum, and Vindelicia, again, we see Christian soldiers sowing the seeds of their holy religion on every side of them. How beautiful a thing did it appear to the devoted Ozanam to follow the footsteps of these early missionaries, to represent to himself the hymns of redemption rising heavenwards amidst the silence of the pagan forests, and to see in imagination the barbarians receiving the waters of baptism at the same fountains which their fathers adored![45] The more closely, then, we study the manner in which Christianity was propagated in the first ages, the more clearly does the mission of the Roman Empire stand out before our eyes. It becomes more and more evident, the longer we look at facts, that Rome’s conquering legions, her great far-reaching roads, her laws, and her one universal language were all made use of by God in a wonderful way, not only to prepare the way for, but also for the establishment of his great spiritual kingdom upon earth.

Thus far we have considered the Roman Empire as working for God, as aiding in a remarkable manner the propagation of Christianity. Thus viewed, the Roman Empire was on God’s side. But from another point of view we know how bitterly she opposed God’s work. Never was there such dire war made against God as during the three hundred[111] years of the persecutions. We have now to glance at these years of blood and hatred, since they are a part of the explanation why in later times there came, by God’s sending, such a whirlwind of wrath on the mighty empire that it was shaken to its very foundations, and fell with a crash which made the whole universe tremble. We do not intend to dwell on the more minute details of these strange, sad years, but only to refer in a general way to the cruelty of the persecutors and the heroic conduct of the children of the cross in the presence of death.

Towards the end of the first seventy years of the Christian church, we see the imperial garden at Rome the scene of a strange festivity. The Roman people are there assembled on a dark night for an entertainment. The Emperor Nero is seen passing to and fro in his imperial carriage, followed by the senators in their costly equipages amidst the shouts and plaudits of the people. It is the opening of the first persecution. The long, shady avenues are lighted up by living torches—human beings covered over with burning pitch are serving as festal lamps. In the open squares of this garden we see women and children, belonging to some of the noblest families of Rome, clothed with the skins of wild beasts, and cast to hungry dogs, which devour them alive. Meanwhile Nero laughs with savage glee at the success of his new invention, and his myrmidons congratulate him on the ingenuity he has displayed in it. This is only a glimpse—but we need no more.

Later on we see that other monster Domitian, shut up in a dark chamber of his palace, holding with fiendish satisfaction the end of the chain which binds the limbs of those who are brought before him for trial. We see him oftentimes presiding in person and gloating with a wild beast’s gusto over the tortures inflicted on innocent Christians. In his reign, virtue became a crime, and the followers of Christ were put to death throughout the whole extent of the empire as being the declared enemies of the state. We do not wonder that Domitian acquired for himself the odious name of “the tyrant whom the universe detested,” as Suetonius tells us in his Life of this emperor. Neither can we wonder that the Roman people endeavored to blot out even his very name from their memory. Lactantius tells us, in his De Morte Persecutorum, that his statues were broken to pieces, and his inscriptions effaced from the proud monuments which his hands had raised.

As we pass on to Trajan and Adrian, we find no reason to be partial to their memories. Though no new edicts of persecution were published during their reign, yet Christians were put to death in great numbers throughout the empire. When we think of Trajan’s persecution, a grand, saintly figure always rises before our minds—it is St. Ignatius of Antioch, as he himself has sketched in striking outlines, in his famous Epistle to the Romans, the sublime ideal of the Christian martyr, and he realized with wonderful exactitude that ideal in his own person.

The student of church history well remembers the bold independence of the holy man as he stood before the emperor at Antioch; and the courageous joy with which he went to the amphitheatre to be the victim of wild beasts and a spectacle to the bloodthirsty Romans, is one of those glorious things which the church points to as characteristic of her great martyr-bishops.

Again, when we think of Adrian, we recall that symbol of his cruelty,[112] the brazen bull, into which, when heated to red-heat, the faithful veteran Eustachius with his wife and family was cast. His name, too, brings back to our memory the brave widow Symphorosa and her seven sons. The cruel scene of torment is again enacted before our minds. We think how the poor mother was suspended aloft by the hair, all bruised and mangled as she was by hard lashes, whilst the bodies of her children were opened before her eyes with knives and iron hooks. Such facts as these are certainly not calculated to persuade us that Adrian’s character was one of mildness and clemency, as profane historians would have us believe. To this emperor belongs, as Tillemont tells us, the odious distinction of having profaned in the vilest manner those holy places which are so dear to Christian hearts. He defiled the holy Mount of Calvary by erecting thereon the sensual figure of Venus; he desecrated the sacred Cave at Bethlehem by setting up the statue of Adonis; and he placed, as though in jeering triumph, the image of Jupiter over the tomb of our blessed Saviour. Under the influence of Adrian’s zeal, paganism experienced a temporary revival; idolatry seemed to regain new life and vigor, and made a great effort to substitute the trophies of the devil for those of Jesus Christ. Adrian went so far as to erect temples in his own honor, which, as Döllinger says, have been falsely supposed by some to have been places of Christian worship. Adrian died at last a wretched prey to his crimes. As he writhed in agony and rotted away under the violence of a loathsome disease, he called a thousand times upon death to come to his deliverance. But death came slowly to the cruel torturer of Symphorosa and her sons.

As we pass rapidly on down these years of blood, our eye is again arrested, in the time of Marcus Aurelius, by the grand figure of glorious Polycarp, who rises then distinct and clear to our view, as he stands up bravely on his funeral pile above the heads of the Roman rabble, overspanned by his triumphal arch of fire. As the venerable martyr went to his trial, a voice from heaven spoke to him these words: “Courage, Polycarp, quit thyself like a brave man.” And so he did. No one can read without emotion the beautiful, calm answer which the old man gave to the proconsul who ordered him to “blaspheme against Christ.” “It is now eighty-six years,” the aged martyr replied, “that I have served him. How then can I blaspheme against my Lord and Saviour?” His noble words and his heroic death inspired courage in thousands of Christians who afterwards gave their lives for Christ. We learn, also, that during this persecution Christians who had been for some time detained in the prisons were massacred en masse, and that the Rhone flowed all red and ghastly with the blood which countless martyrs had shed on its banks. But the emperor-philosopher felt his impotence to destroy the ever-dying yet ever-multiplying race of Christians. “Vary their torments,” he writes, in his despair, to the governors of the provinces; and then we see the victims of his hatred crucified, burned, or cast to the wild beasts. Modern men of science may rank Marcus Aurelius with philosophers, but we are inclined to believe, with M. Leroy, that it was his infamous cruelty towards the Christians rather than true wisdom which has made them pass over in silence his shameless turpitudes and grant him this proud distinction.

During the raging persecution which Septimius Severus had enkindled[113] against the Christians, we see St. Perpetua going boldly to death, bearing in her arms her new-born child. Her aged pagan father, kneeling in tears at her feet and begging her to sacrifice to the gods, could not deter her from advancing, with firm step and calm look, to meet the wild beasts of the circus. We see Felicitas, Saturninus, Revocatus, and others accompanying her through the savage crowd to the same fate. What a grand procession of heroes—something to look at till our tears flow and our hearts are set on fire! As they advance proudly along, the voice of Satur, one of their number, is heard giving forth those scathing words to the wild crowd that surrounded them: “Look well at us, that you may know us again at the judgment-day.”

Turning our eyes to Alexandria, we find that city a great centre of persecution at this time. There it was that the most intrepid defenders of religion, and the stern, penitential men of the Thebaid, were summoned to crown their noble lives by the heroism of martyrdom. And again is the blood of martyrs flowing like water in the streets of Lyons. St. Irenæus and twenty thousand Christians are immolated in honor of Christ’s name. The work of extermination is continued with unrelenting vigor under the gigantic son of the Thracian peasant. Maximin deals out his blows of death with the power and fury of a Cyclops. But the brave Christian hearts, braced up to noble deeds by the secret indwelling presence of their Lord, do not quail before his terrors. And in the midst of the bloody fray, we hear the soul-inspiring voice of great Origen, calling aloud to his brethren in these words: “Behold, generous athletes, your portion—a tribulation above all tribulations, but yet a hope above all hopes; for the Lord knows how to glorify, by his rewards, those who have thought little of this poor earthen vessel, which death so easily breaks to pieces. I should like to see you, when the combat is at hand, bounding with joy as did the apostles in their day, who rejoiced that they were found worthy to suffer outrages for the name of Jesus. Remember ye the words of Isaiah, ‘Fear not the reproach which comes from men, and let not yourselves be cast down by their contempt.’ Men laugh to-day, and to-morrow they are no more; already the eternal pit swallows them up for ever. When you shall be on the arena of combat, think with Paul that you are a spectacle to the world, to angels, and to men. If you triumph, Christians will applaud your courage; the heavenly spirits will rejoice at your victory. But if you yield, the powers of hell will shout for joy, and will come forth in myriads from their fiery abyss to meet you. Fight, then, valiantly, and, in imitation of Eleazar, leave behind you, as a remembrance of your death, a noble example of constancy and virtue.”[46] These noble words are worthy of the generous soul and the marvellously gifted mind of the great doctor of Alexandria. They sound forth with a soul-stirring, awakening power, like a trumpet-blast from heaven. And, no doubt, many a trembling heart was nerved into courageous daring by them; many a glorious victory was won under their influence which would otherwise have been lost. And it was in the next persecution under Decius that such powerful, encouraging words were needed. Never yet since the empire began to make bloody war against Christ’s followers had the Christians more need[114] of strength and help; never had they more need than now to picture to themselves the depths of the fiery abyss, and the bright glories of God’s kingdom. Decius came to his bloody work with a resolution to succeed at any cost. His orders went abroad over the empire to all governors and public functionaries, that every conceivable torture was to be used in order to force the Christians to renounce their faith. It was not, then, prompt, quick death that was now the order of the day, but slow, cruel torture. We have a picture of the horrors of this persecution in the words of St. Gregory of Nyssa. “The magistrates,” he says, “suspended all cases, private or public, to apply themselves to the great, the important affair—the arrest and punishment of the faithful. The heated iron chains, the steel claws, the pyre, the sword, the beasts, all the instruments invented by the cruelty of man, lacerated, by night and by day, the bodies of martyrs; and each tormentor seemed to fear that he might not be as barbarous as his fellows. Neighbors, relatives, friends, heartlessly betrayed each other, and denounced Christians before the magistrates. The provinces were in consternation; families were decimated; cities became deserts; and the deserts were peopled. Soon the prisons were insufficient for the multitudes arrested for their faith, and most of the public edifices were converted into prisons.”[47] We find, also, St. Denis of Alexandria speaking in moving language of the persecution which he witnessed in his own city. He tells us that the numbers of the martyrs were past counting. No regard was paid to sex, age, or rank; men, women, children, and old men were tormented with equal cruelty. Every species of torture was employed, and every imaginable cruelty used to increase the horrors of death.[48] Again, at Smyrna, Antioch, Lampsacus, Toulouse, Nîmes, and Marseilles, martyrs died in thousands. In fact, wherever we turn our gaze, we see throughout the length and breadth of the empire the blood of Christians flowing.

During the reign of Valerian the monotonous work of death goes on, but, perhaps, as we advance, the destruction of Christians becomes more wholesale. At Utica the heads of one hundred and fifty followers of Christ fell at once, and at Cirta in Numidia we see an atrocious butchery taking place which lasts the greater part of a day. The martyrs are led into a valley with ranges of hills rising to a great height on both sides, as if to favor the spectacle. They are ranged in line, their eyes bandaged, along the river-side; and the executioner passes on from one to another, striking off their heads.[49] It was, perhaps, a glad sight for the savage idolaters who thronged the high hill-sides to witness the bloody slaughter, but it was a sublime spectacle, too, for the angels of heaven, as they looked down upon those brave soldiers of Christ, and saw them standing in calm, joyful silence by that African river-bank and receiving their bright martyrs’ crowns.

The ages of blood came to an end with the Diocletian persecution. It would be difficult to imagine that anything new in the way of torture could be invented at this date. Ingenuity and malice had already done their worst in the matter of inventions; but Diocletian and his associates brought with them a qualification[115] in which they were surpassed by none of their predecessors, and that was an intense hatred for the Christian religion. Never had the rage and fury of persecutors been greater than was displayed by these “three ferocious wild beasts,” as Lactantius calls them; and never, consequently, did the blood of Christians flow more copiously. Hell was making its last great effort. Though we are accustomed, in traversing these centuries of terrible bloodshed, to read of cruelties which are almost beyond belief, yet we are startled into new horror when we find in this tenth persecution an entire town with its twelve or fifteen thousand inhabitants consumed by fire because it is a town of Christians. Each province has its peculiar species of torture. In Mesopotamia, it is fire; in Pontus, the wheel; in Syria, the gridiron; in Arabia, the hatchet; in Cappadocia, iron bars for breaking limbs; in Africa, hanging; the wooden horse in Gaul, and wild beasts at Rome.[50] Where, we ask, as we gaze over the wide-stretching empire, is not the blood of Christians flowing? Its voice rises heavenwards from the cliffs of Tangiers; it saturates the plains of Mauritania; it springs from wounded combatants on the shores of Tyr; but nowhere over the wide earth is it poured out for God’s glory without his taking count of it. The blood of martyrs will not cry to heaven in vain; God’s day of reckoning with the empire will surely come.

But we can dwell no longer on these ages of heroic sacrifice. Pascal has truly said that “the history of the rest of the Romans pales beside the history of the martyrs.” Whoever wishes to see the full force of this remark, let him read the Acts of the Martyrs, in the history of Eusebius, or the charming pages of Ruinart, or in the ponderous tomes of the Bollandists. Nowhere in Christian literature is there anything so simply and touchingly eloquent. The Acts of the Martyrs constitute a drama whose character is most sublime, and the interest of which is more than ravishing. In order to express our idea more perfectly, we will borrow the words of Mgr. Freppel. “If there be a drama,” he says, “each of whose acts bears a special character, whilst at the same time perfect unity is preserved, it is the Acts of the Martyrs. Here we have a bishop who puts to confusion a proconsul by the calm constancy of his faith; there we have a virgin who mingles with her answers that enthusiasm of love with which her heart is on fire. In another place, we have the Christian mother surrounded by her sons, who confess one after another the simple faith of their infancy, and pass from mouth to mouth the testimony of truth. Again, we have the Christian soldier, who reveres in Cæsar the majesty of power, but who places above all imperial honors the worship of the King of kings. In this magnificent epopee of martyrdom, to which each persecution adds a new song, the scene varies according to time and place; it is the fidelity of love and the grandeur of sacrifice which constitute its unity.”[51] It is there that we have put before us the most beautiful and the most noble characters that have ever done honor to the human race. We find nothing sordid, nothing selfish, nothing haughty in these heroes. They are meek and humble, yet brave and high-souled, and strikingly grand in the face of death. Profane history may ransack its annals, but it will never be able to show us characters so noble[116] and so admirable. Their equals are not to be found in the Lives of Plutarch, nor in the pages of Eutropius. How true is it that the Catholic Church alone is the Mother of Heroes! The heroism of the martyrs was of that kind for which all ordinary theories fail to account. It gave strength to the tottering frames of venerable old men; it made timid virgins courageous in the presence of hideous racks; it spoke by the lisping tongues of frail infants. Let the profane historian point to any scene that can equal in simple grandeur the trial and death of the gentle, sweet St. Agnes, or in heroic endurance the painful, slow martyrdom of the beautiful Agatha, the glory of Sicilian virgins. Let him tell us of anything, either in profane fact or fable, which can equal in purity and strange boldness the beautiful history of Eulalia, the child-saint of twelve summers, whose name is celebrated in touching harmonies by Prudentius as the glory of Merida, the sweet Lusitanian city which stands on the flowery banks of the rapid Guadiana. Let him tell us of anything, even in the fancied facts of strangest romance, that is half as marvellous as the history of St. Cyr, the child-confessor and martyr of three years old, who, when he was taken up into the governor’s embrace to be coaxed into apostasy, lisped out his brave confession, “Christianus sum,” and was dashed to pieces on the steps of the tribunal. Will the profane historian speak of wonderful endurance? We invite him to look at the child Barallah, in his seventh year, who was suspended in the air and scourged before his mother’s eyes, and who, as his blood sprang out on all sides, and his little bones were stripped of their flesh, could be brave and unflinching whilst the rough executioners themselves shed tears of pity. As the blood flowed from his body, the little martyr cried out in the burning heat of his torments, “I am thirsty; give me a little water.” His brave mother reproved him, saying, “Soon, my son, thou wilt be at the source of living waters”; and she carried her child in her arms to the spot where he was to be beheaded, and as his head was severed from his body she received it into her veil. Tell us, profane historian, of great mothers like this. Tell us if your greatest heroes could be so invincible in the midst of suffering as the child-martyrs of the Catholic Church.

The three ages of martyrdom in the church’s history are emphatically the ages of great heroes. No brave man that ever went to death for any other cause went so boldly or was so calm and dignified as the Christian martyr in the presence of the executioner. Never before in the annals of the human race were men known to go to death rejoicing; never before were they seen to smile and be glad when brought in sight of the rack and the gibbet. This perfection of courage and sublime self-possession were seen every day among the martyrs of the church. This it was that amazed the frantic rabble which witnessed their sufferings; it was this that oftentimes enraged the Roman governors so far as to drive them to order the death-blow to be inflicted before the torturers had done their appointed work. The joy with which the martyrs gave their blood for Christ’s holy name is one of the problems which unchristian philosophers have never been able to solve. These so-called thinkers have never been able to comprehend the long, mysterious blood-shedding of those three hundred years. The Christian philosopher alone, with his great Catholic principles of history, can understand that blood-shedding is the mysterious[117] law which characterizes in such a striking manner the great work of the Incarnation. As he gazes into the past, he sees the sacrificial blood flowing in every nation’s worship. Far back in the ages of the patriarchs, he can discern the red stream glistening; and as his eye still gazes, he sees it flowing ever onward, with typical significance, through the centuries, until it meets the God-man’s sacred blood pouring down from the Cross of Calvary. There the typical was merged in the real. He can see, again, how congruous it seems that, after the great sacrifice of the cross had been typified through the proceding ages by an ever-flowing stream of blood, and after Christ had poured out all his own blood on the hill of Calvary, and it had flowed down so copiously on the sinful world, his first followers and disciples should in their turn shed their blood for him. This abundant blood-shedding, this wondrous heroic self-sacrifice, was a testimony which honest men could not withstand, for, as Pascal says, “men believe witnesses who shed their blood.” To die willingly and joyfully for another was something of which the world had not yet heard. Jesus Christ, then, wished to show the mighty power of his doctrine. He would let the world see what wonders his cross could work in the souls of men. He wished to make it manifest to all men’s eyes what courage it could give in the presence of the most terrible racks; how it could so influence the weak and timid as to make them joyful when they were taken to die; how it could be a consolation and an ineffable sweetness in the midst of torments the most painful. All this he did manifest to the world in the most striking light. His martyrs were such characters as the world had not seen before; what was terrible to others was not so to them; when others would shriek with agony, they would smile with joy; when others would languish and faint under the lash and the knife, they could calmly remark with St. Eulalia as she looked at her wounds: “They write your name all over my body, sweet Jesus.” Truly, the cross planted amidst a very sea of blood, generously shed for the love of the Crucified, is the grand central point of all history, which men may look back at, and gaze upon with admiration and ravishment to the end of time.

But, returning to our former point of view, and looking upon these centuries of terrible blood-shedding as the fierce, furious war which the Roman Empire waged against God and his religion, we naturally ask ourselves a question, Where is the great God of the Christians whilst his children are being immolated to pagan savagery throughout the whole earth? Does he from his high heaven take note of what is done? Oh! he who sees the sparrow fall does not lose sight of his children, nor does his eye fail to see the sufferings which they endure for him. The voice of his martyrs rose heavenwards with a mighty cry during those three hundred years. It rose from the saturated floor of the Roman amphitheatre; it spoke with pleading eloquence from the depths of the mines of Numidia; it echoed incessantly in the ear of God from amid the solitudes of Pannonia. God was not at any time deaf to that cry. He was slow in his anger, but, then, on that account he was the more terrible. Whilst Nero was shedding the first Christian blood at Rome, God was silently gathering together his avenging armies in the forests of the north. It took him more than three hundred years to marshal his overwhelming warrior-hosts; but, O heavens! what a direful shaking of the universe when they did come!



Every effort to elucidate what is obscure, or to provide a remedy for acknowledged evils, is a just title to that friendly acknowledgment which the writer of this little book bespeaks. It is a step in the direction of progress. But it is of the highest importance in the attempt to impart clear ideas upon any subject, that they should be so distinctly expressed as to leave no doubt concerning the identity of their subject. Thus, in treating of sound, it seems to us that the question first presented is this: What is sound? Our author says that it “receives its vitality or its life through the air, and without air sound loses it and becomes extinct.”

We object to this statement of the origin of sound, as both unsatisfactory and indistinct. It implies that sound is something born and floating in the air, and external to the mind perceiving. We fancy that, without an ear to hear, sound would not become extinct, but have no existence; and that the vitality of which our writer treats is not in or on the air, but in the mind itself. This exception to the supposed origin of the life of sound may not seem to affect the discussion of acoustics as far as the practical purpose of the architect is concerned; but we insist that neither the drumsticks nor the drum, nor the air within it or without, nor even all these at work, are sound, more than the telegraph wire and the electric current are the message sent from one operator to another.

That inaccuracy which we discover in our author’s use of terms, we find also in his quotations from others. For example: “The intensity of sound depends on the density of the air in which the sound is generated, and not on that of the air in which it is heard. A feeble sound becomes instantly louder as soon as the air becomes more dense. So you will always find, on great elevations in the atmosphere, the sound sensibly diminished in loudness. If two cannon are equally charged, and one fired at [from] the top of a high mountain, and the other in a valley, the one fired below, in the heavy air, may be heard above, while the one fired in the higher air will not be heard below; owing to its origin, the sound generated in the denser air is louder than that generated in the rarer. Peals of thunder are unable to penetrate the air to a distance commensurate with their intensity on account of the non-homogeneous character of the atmosphere which accompanies them; from the same cause, battles have raged and have been lost within a short distance of the reserves of the defeated army, while they were waiting for the sound of artillery to call them to the scene of action.”

It seems to us that the truth here expressed is not unmixed with error. In the very first sentence, we think that accuracy would require the suppression of the word not. The intensity of sound depends not only upon the density and elasticity of[119] the air whose pulsation is an antecedent condition, but also upon the density and elasticity of the air through which the pulse is transmitted. While it is true that a pulse given to the denser column or stratum of air may be transmitted through a rarer medium with greater resultant force than if its origin and direction were reversed, it by no means follows that the intensity of sound is unaffected by the density of the air in which it is heard. We apprehend the truth to be that the pulse given to highly rarefied air is very feeble; and its secondary effect upon a denser and more elastic fluid, correspondingly slight; while the pulse from the denser air would be transmitted with greater—but still diminished—force, through the rarer atmosphere in which it reaches the ear. An absolute vacuum could not transmit the pulse given through a column or stratum of elastic fluid. A rarefied atmosphere could but transmit it with a force always varying with its own elasticity. And were it possible to preserve one’s consciousness within the exhausted receiver of an air-pump, we doubt if the most sensitive ear could be made to hear the roar of a cataract without.

“A feeble sound becomes instantly louder as soon as the air becomes more dense;” but not as loud as if the same initial pulse were immediately given to the denser air. In the case of two cannon equally charged, one of which is fired on the top of a mountain, and the other in a valley below it, to say that “owing to its origin, the sound generated in the denser air is louder than that generated in the rarer,” sounds much like saying it is because it is. If it be more than this, it is wrong. It is a clear case of non causa pro causa. The origin [of the pulse] of sound is in either case the same: the explosion of equal charges of gunpowder, in guns supposed to be of like material and equal size. The effects are not the same, because the effect of a force depends upon its transmission as well as upon its origin.

Does the atmosphere “accompany” peals of thunder? Or does this expression convey a distinct idea of the office of the atmosphere in the production of sound? We understand that the atmosphere receives the pulse or blow, and that its transmission to the ear is due to the elastic force of the intermediate air. It is not the homogeneousness of air, but its elasticity which transmits the pulse. And though, in architecture, the object sought is a uniformly elastic air throughout the auditorium, it does not follow, nor is it even desirable, that the maximum effect at a given point should be obtained by it.

“Science,” says our author, “teaches us that, whenever a shock or pressure of any sort is suddenly applied to material of any nature, whether metal, wood, gas, water, air, etc., it is immediately affected in all its parts, from the point of contact to the whole extent of the material, in displacing and replacing the particles of a determinate volume; and the velocity of the movement of the particles of the mass, created by the concussion of shocks or pressure, depends solely (?) upon its elasticity and density. Sound likewise causes motions (?) with every particle of the air, and as far as the motion reaches; so that each particle, with regard to that which lies immediately beyond it, is in a progress of rarefaction during return.”

What is meant by affecting a mass of matter “in all its parts,” by “displacing and replacing the particles of a determinate volume,” we do not precisely understand. That whatever causes motion does it[120] “as far as the motion reaches,” is as unquestionable as any other identical proposition. But that the velocity of the movement of the particles, created by the concussion of shocks, pressure, upon an unconfined elastic fluid, depends solely upon its elasticity and density, we dispute. That pulses “are propagated from a trembling body all around in a spherical manner” may be true, if the air is on all sides equally elastic. Such might be the case with those produced by the vibrations of a bell, when the surrounding air is undisturbed by other causes, and is uniformly elastic at equal distances from it. It would not be strictly true if the initial pulse were made only in a certain direction. “Every impression made on a fluid is propagated every way throughout the fluid, whatever be the direction wherein it is made;” but it is not true that the impressions are equal at equal distances from the initial pulse, irrespective of its direction. This result would presuppose a fluid perfectly elastic; which we never have—and then we might, with equal truth, say that the impressions would be equal at all distances.

Everybody is familiar with the fact that the “transmission of sound,” the pulse which strikes upon the ear to produce the sensation, is affected by currents of air—the direction, force, and velocity of the wind—between the initial pulse and the hearer. How? and how much? directly or indirectly? are questions distinct from the fact itself. The distance through which guns are heard, as well as the loudness of their report, varies with the direction, force, and velocity of the wind; and, in very still air, with the aim of the gun itself, the direction of the initial pulse. For short distances, these differences may be so minute as to escape notice; just as the false proportions of a miniature picture are unobserved until the magnifier displays them. And for longer ranges, they are so small, in contrast with the magnitudes compared, as to seem rather like accidental than legitimate differences. But the difference is not the less real because the reality is less. Words spoken in a faint whisper are clearly heard by a listener immediately before the speaker, when quite inaudible or indistinct to one at an equal distance behind him.

The actual velocities of wind and sound differ so widely that the small fraction by which their relative velocity is denoted is held as proof that the propagation of sound—the pulse—through distances of a few yards or feet, is not affected by currents of air: that there are no differences in the “velocity of sound.” Yet the ear detects them as one of the small differences between discord and harmony in music; distinctness and confusion of speech. In music these differences may be blended by the prolonged intonation of vowel sounds; but in speech, whose distinct significance is due to consonants, “which cannot be sounded without the aid of a vowel,” these differences are fatally evident. The sharp edges of the vocal pulses, which give shape and meaning to vowel sounds, are destroyed alike by a husky voice and a puff of air. What remains is vox et præterea nihil.

It seems to us that some of the many failures in practical acoustics come from considering the air—the material involved—as perfectly elastic. From this it is inferred that sound is not affected by the direction of the initial pulse: that the direction and velocity of the effective pulse are not varied by currents and blasts of air. In short, that the slight inaccuracy of these assumptions will be the actual measurement of resultant error.


Were the purpose only to ascertain the acoustic properties of unadulterated air, varied experiments might eliminate the errors of anomalous results. But when the process is reversed, and we deduce effects from only one among concurrent and conflicting causes, theory is confounded by discordant facts. Theories of sound in purely elastic air might give results approximately realized in practice, if the actual pulses with which we are concerned were given by a flail; but are pregnant of error when the atmosphere is mixed with vicious vapors, and the pulse is a breath of air. Then, the assumption that “pulses of sound” proceed equally in all directions from the initial point, is simply false; and theories based upon it can only complicate the problems to be solved.

Water, as well as air, is a highly elastic fluid, and, if confined and subjected to pressure, the force applied is exerted on all sides of the confined volume. But the effect of a pulse or blow upon a surface of large extent varies with the direction of the force as well as with its power and velocity. We have seen fish swimming near the surface killed or paralyzed by a blow upon the water immediately over them. And we have seen the blow fail of its intended effect solely because it was misdirected. Perhaps the water in the latter case was not perfectly elastic! Neither is the air of churches and public halls, when their atmosphere has yielded a portion of its oxygen, and, in return, is charged with carbonic acid and moist vapors from the breath of crowded assemblies. Carbonic acid gas is heavier by one-half than atmospheric air. It does not, then, always rise toward the ceiling or roof, but remains in solution with impure exhalations; or else, condensed by contact with the colder walls, descends to poison the lower air and impair its elastic force—its power of transmitting the “pulse of sound” to the ear.

We have just come from one of our city churches, where we have had a striking example of this result. The church in question will accommodate (?) about two thousand people. Twenty-five hundred may be crowded into it. At the commencement of the sermon, the preacher’s voice was distinctly audible at points fifty or sixty feet from the pulpit, in spite of reflections of sound—air pulses—from galleries, wooden columns, and the arched ceiling and side-walls, of lath and plaster. Before it was ended, the exhalations of the breathing crowd had so filled the lower half of the “auditorium” that only vowel sounds could be distinguished; and the peroration seemed to consist of spasmodic utterances—scarcely sounds—of a, e, i, o, u. W and y had lost their affinity to vowels, and the rest of the alphabet were no longer consonants, for they were not heard at all.

The acoustic and sanitary problems are here identical—to find a method of preventing an accumulation of foul and inelastic vapors around the breathing and listening congregation, and to give, instead, wholesome air to their lungs, while enabling their ears to hear. And since these poisonous and inelastic gases are specifically heavier than atmospheric air, and must fall to the floor by their own weight, the problem is reduced to providing a practicable way for their escape, and guarding it against counter-currents which might obstruct the passage.

The introduction of warm air through openings in or near the floor will not readily produce uniformity of temperature within a room. The simplest experiment in proof of this[122] is constantly made by multitudes of people, who, in crowded assemblies, find their heads surrounded by warm and moist vapors, reeking with offensive odors, while their feet are chilled, though near the “hot-air register.”

A library, whose walls were 12 feet high, and whose floor—18 by 15—contained 270 square feet, was constantly warmed by a “Latrobe heater,” placed in the chimney at one end of the room. The pot holding the coal was raised one foot above the level of the floor, which was covered by a woollen carpet. Immediately under the library was a kitchen, whose temperature was kept at about 72° F. Three thermometers were placed thus: No. 1, standing on the carpet near the centre of the library floor; No. 2, three feet, and No. 3, six feet, above it. At the expiration of half an hour, No. 1 indicated 62°; No. 2, 66°; and No. 3, 72°. Numbers 1 and 3 were then placed side by side with No. 2, three feet above the floor. At the expiration of fifteen minutes, all three indicated the same temperature of 66°. The low temperature of the inferior stratum of air was certainly not due to that of the room beneath it, for that was above 70°. It was only the heavier, colder air of the room itself, and of adjacent apartments warmed in the same way, slightly affected by contact with the stratum of warmer air above it.

Such slight differences of temperature in small apartments could not greatly affect the transmission of “the pulse of sound.” But in larger and loftier rooms, like churches and public halls, corresponding differences of temperature would, and do, produce air strata widely different in density and elasticity, and occasion serious acoustic defects. But the acoustic requirement is not satisfied by uniformly elastic air alone; for its pulses are reflected, and unity—distinctness—of sound, is lost in echoes or reverberations, from windows, columns, floors, and ceilings.

To know the difficulties to be encountered is always a step towards their alleviation; and these are sufficiently apparent throughout the little volume before us. They are, First, inelastic air—which cannot transmit its pulses to the ear. Second, strata and amorphous volumes, of unequal densities, which transmit the air-pulses with unequal force; so that they produce distinct sounds and indefinite murmurs at equal distances from the initial pulse. Third, reflecting surfaces—the floor, the ceiling, walls, columns, and furniture of the auditorium; which variously reflect the waves caused by air-pulses, and produce effects analogous to the eddies and whirlpools made by conflicting currents of running water.

The first and second of these difficulties are clearly within the province of “heat and ventilation;” and any means by which a constant tidal flow—not a current—of wholesome air, from floor to ceiling, may be produced, and by which the unwholesome, inelastic, heavier gases generated in crowded assemblies shall be prevented from accumulating but be forced to give place to the purer air, will practically solve the problem which they present.

The third difficulty is purely architectural. While surfaces reflect what are called pulses of sound, and so multiply their effects, they also create conflicting waves, which partially neutralize each other, or else strike the ear in irregular succession, to destroy the unity and harmony of sound. We cannot have buildings free from the inconveniences of walls, floors, and ceilings; but we can regulate and utilize surfaces to give aid in the transmission of air-pulses in[123] one direction, and greatly diminish the reflecting power of those that would give back conflicting waves of air. A sounding-board or arch, whose lower surface should be a semi-paraboloid, so placed that a line drawn from its highest points, and parallel to its axis, would pierce the opposite wall four feet above the floor, while the axis itself should attain the same height at a distance of forty feet from the focus, would be an example of what we mean by utilizing surfaces to transmit air-pulses in one direction. The employment of an inelastic substance, like coarse felt, between the furring of a wall and the lathing, would undoubtedly tend to destroy its ability to reflect the “pulse of sound.” And hollow cast-iron columns, filled with clay, would hardly vibrate from a pulse of air.

In one of the Protestant churches of our city, we were shown a sounding-board, whose authors seemed to have halted between the acoustic merits of the paraboloid and the graceful shape of the pilgrim’s scallop-shell. We were told that “it helps the voice of the preacher.” There seemed to be too much of it for ornament, if its principle be wrong or inefficient, and too little for usefulness if right. Many attempts to improve the acoustic properties of halls designed for public lectures are failures through faulty execution of correct designs.

We once saw the working-plans of a lecture-room, where the line of intersection of the end wall with the floor of the stage or platform was a parabola, the arch above and behind the lecturer’s desk being a semi-paraboloid, springing from the wall at the height of the speaker’s voice. Thus, it was supposed that the pulses reflected from the walls and arch would proceed in parallel lines or “waves of sound,” because the initial pulse would always be given at the focus of the reflector.

The place of every joist in the cylindrical wall was carefully marked, and the dimensions and place of each rib of the paraboloidal arch accurately given. But in executing the design, the builder discovered a mistake!—“the floor of the stage would not be a true circular segment!” So he “corrected it”—with stunning effect upon the lecturer, and to the utter confusion of his audience. And the design was pronounced a failure.

In looking through the work before us, we almost unconsciously began to say: “This is nothing new; we have seen this, and more than this, before.” And in the same sense, we suppose it might as well be said that nothing is essentially new.

We have lately seen a notice of an invention for tracing patterns on glass by means of a jet of sand. Of course, it is nothing new. The wind has been doing the same trick with the sand of the sea-shore for ages. We have seen it long ago, and often. Doubtless, the same effect has been noticed by many others. A thought of the possible utility of a process whose result was seen may have flitted through many minds, and, like the outline of a passing cloud, have been forgotten as it passed. But honestly, we never thought of tracing lace patterns on glass by any such process. And while new combinations of well-known truths give new and useful results, we hope they may never cease to be made.

Mr. Saeltzer’s book is full of good hints. But that is not its chief merit. It recognizes the inseparable connection of sound and ventilation, and insists upon observance of the laws which govern them. As he is so evidently alive to the sanitary and acoustic defects in public buildings, we[124] shall be disappointed if his little volume does not prove to be the preface to more specific, practical directions for their removal. He has put his finger upon the principal cause of failures. The laws of light, and heat, and sound are sufficiently understood to render their phenomena as controllable as time, space, and velocity in mechanics. The more intelligent efforts are therefore directed not to the discovery of new principles involved, but to utilize what knowledge we possess. And when the effort is made at the right point and in the right direction, we can heartily say, Go on and conquer. The world is full of wonderful monuments signalizing defeat. Let us see just one crowned with victory.

As yet, modern ecclesiastical architecture, especially, is but the imperfect reproduction of ancient and mediæval models. It is the heathen temple or the Gothic minster, or, more recently, an attempt to vary the monotony with Byzantine forms of old basilicas, without their grandeur. In decoration, we have crude, unmeaning imitations of Moorish tracery, weak in imagery of form and symbolism, without those glowing contrasts and harmonies of colors which are to architecture as rhythm to poetry of sound. We know the cause and history of this poverty in constructive and decorative art. History tells us how men became so spiritual, in their own conceit, that symbolism was held to be a sin; and how, by losing the sign, the thing signified was forgotten or denied. But it seems almost unaccountable that the world should be teeming with philosophers, to whom the laws of nature, even their least tangible phenomena, seem familiar as things of daily use, while great temples are so constructed that they who have ears to hear cannot hear.



There are a great many rounds in the ladder of life, though simple youths have always fancied that a few gallant steps would take them to the summit of riches and power. Now, the top round of this ladder is not the presidency of any railroad or country, nor even the possession of renowned genius; for it oddly happens that when one sits down upon it, then, be he ever so high up in life, he has really begun to descend. Those who put velvet cushions to their particular rounds, and squat at ease with a view of blocking the rise of other good folks, do not know they are going down the other side of the ladder; but such is the fact. Many thrifty men have, in their own mind, gone far up its life-steps when, verily, they were descending them fast; and poor people without number have in all men’s eyes been travelling downward, though in truth they have journeyed[125] higher by descent than others could by rising. So many slippery and delusive ways has this magical ladder that we may say it is as various as men’s minds. One may slip through its rungs out of the common way of ascent, and find himself going down when he ought to be going up; and vain toilers have ever fancied that they were mounting to the clouds when everybody else must have seen they were still at the same old rounds. Ambitious heroes have made the same mistake, if, indeed, the particular ladder which they have imagined to themselves has not itself been sliding down all the while they have been seeking vain glory by its steps.

The ladder of life is an infinite ladder. It is full of indirections to suit the abilities, and of attractions to please the tastes, of climbers. You may work at a forge, or sail the sea, or trade in money and merchandise, or hear operas, or write romances, or take part in politics, or wander over mountains, or go to church, while living thereon; but you must go up or go down, and either way will have some sort of climbing and toiling to do. Everywhere on the ladder is trouble, save in careful steps; and since human progress is so illusory, many honest persons rather fear to fall than aspire too eagerly, or felicitate themselves on precarious elevations. Prudence forbids us to say at what real round of the ladder are all our bankers, brokers, showmen, advertisers, and other millionaires; but it is certain that good little children, and simple citizens, and poor geniuses, and suffering men and women have gone higher up than the world knows. Indeed, they have gone quite out of sight, for there is a place on the great ladder which few men know, and where only saints can see the angels ascending and descending. Moreover, the ladder of life reaches from the pit to the stars, so that they who climb up or climb down, as it were, may see a firmament at either end: the good, their lights and joys; the evil, their chimeras and fire of darkness.


Obed, the young man, came to Father Isaac for his blessing, who thus said to him with few words: “Thou shalt have five sons, and to the first shall be given might, to the second cunning, to the third beauty, to the fourth knowledge, to the fifth patience, and to all in accord wisdom: but God giveth naught for nothing.” And as Father Isaac had promised, so was it fulfilled in prayer. The first of the sons of Obed became a mighty hunter; the second excelled in craft’s of all kinds; the third was of a comely figure, well to look upon; the fourth was learned in wise traditions; the fifth was patient, as none other of the family of Obed had been before him. Now, the five sons ill-agreed in their husbandry in the field of their fathers, and they went their several ways, some near, some far, to seek their fortunes, leaving the last and youngest to be the staff of their sire. Then poverty fell upon the house of Obed, and infirmity upon the limbs of the patient man; and, dying, his father blessed him, saying: “The Lord bless thy patience that it fail not.”

At this time, the fame of him that slew lions with his arms, and men[126] with his right hand, was very great; but a devil entered into him, so that he did no work, and fell to great sloth, and men scorned him, and he lifted up his voice and cried: “Oh! that I had the cunning of my brother, that my hands might know their work; and the beauty of my brother, that maids should not turn from me; and the knowledge and patience of my brethren, that I might with wisdom bide my time.”

From all sides was he sought that had the gift of cunning; but being greedy in his craft, and seeking not knowledge, nor patience, he lost his cunning, and cried with a face in which there was no beauty: “Wisdom was not given me, nor patience, neither comeliness nor might, and so have I been abandoned to devices of misery.”

Rejoicing in his fair proportions, the third son of Obed danced before the daughters of his tribe, but, taken in the wiles of flattery and of pleasure, he became as a drunken man whose face is a warning, and whose life is a scandal, and he lamented: “Oh! that I had the cunning or patience or might of my brethren, then should none withstand me, or I be overthrown.”

And he to whom it was given to know much in many tongues, and to counsel with scholars, lost the kindly ways of men, seeking vain and dark sciences, till he exclaimed in the bitterness of his heart: “Knowledge is given me without wisdom: henceforth must I seek counsel in patience, and observe the prudence of my brethren.” And he set out for the house of his fathers.

Now had the infirm brother tilled the fields of his brethren, and taught the laborers thereof the arts of handiwork, and when the sons of Obed returned to the house of their sire, one after another, the first averred that he was strong, the second that he was cunning, the third that he was comely, the fourth that he had knowledge. But Father Isaac, the shepherd of his flock, hearing them, said: “Yea, for he hath one virtue which maketh many: the staff of thy brother hath devoured thy rods.”

“Wherefore, then, lov’d Isaac,” spake the eldest, “are we robbed of our gifts, and wit, and might, and beauty gone from us, leave us in sorrow of heart?”

“Told I not thy sire Obed,” said the patriarch, “that the Lord of lords gave naught for naught. Have ye earned your wages—have ye paid back your gifts? He that had might, why was he not taught of knowledge and invention, and, being skilled, why learned he not the patience of toil? He that had beauty, why sought he not counsel of strength and skill, that judgment might be his? He of knowledge, why sought he not help of patience and craft? Each had his virtue to purchase a share in the virtues of the rest, and to win gifts to his gift, that God might be praised. But only goodness bringeth fit wisdom, and wisdom dwelleth not in discord.”

Then the sons of Obed, answering, asked: “Why hath one virtue, as thou sayest, devoured ours?”

“For that thou hast thrown thine own to the dogs, my sons, and patience hath picked them up. He that suffereth much with patience winneth much with wisdom.”

“Even so, Father Isaac, but have we not, too, suffered?”


“Yea, my children, that so God may teach thee wisdom, and thy gifts abound tenfold. He that hath much, let him save it by bounty: he that hath little, let him increase it with patience: he that hath won, let him divide the victory. Share ye each other’s virtues, that each may possess the gifts of all.”


Three students sat together
In a villa on the Rhine,
And pledged the beauteous river
In draughts of sparkling wine.
One was bold and haughty,
Count Otto was his name:
His dark eyes flashed and smouldered:
From Nuremberg he came.
And one was too fond-hearted
For aught but love and song;
With hair too brightly golden
To wear its lustre long.
His hands were white and shapely
As any maid’s might be;
Count Adelbert of Munich,
A joyous youth was he.
And one was grave and quiet,
With such a winning smile
That, meeting all its brightness,
Sad hearts grew light the while.
And as they sat together,
Three trav’llers by the Rhine,
And pledged the noble river
In draughts of golden wine,
With lays of olden minstrels
They whiled the hours away,
Till twilight gently sealed them
With the sign of parting day.
Then silence fell upon them,
And the distant boatman’s song
Returned in softened echoes
The gleaming waves along;
And through the latticed windows
The hush of evening stole,
And the solemn spell of silence
Fast fettered soul to soul.
Dream on, O happy-hearted!
The future holds no truth,
No amaranthine jewel,
Like the rainbow tints of youth.
Dream on, O happy-hearted!
The hour will soon be gone,
And darkness fall too swiftly.
Dream on, young hearts, dream on!
This is the proudest hour
Of all the golden twelve,
That seek the mystic caverns
Where gray gnomes dig and delve.
“The beauty of the morning
Is but the birth of day,
And the glory of the noontide
Doth pass as soon away.
“But twilight holds the fulness,
The meed of every one,
And drops the radiant circlet
Before her god, the sun.
“This is the proudest hour
Of all the golden twelve—
Now combs the Nix her tresses,
Now rests his spade the elve.
“And I drink to the proudest maiden
That treads this German-land;
No other love shall my heart own,
No other queen my hand.
“And I’ll pledge her three times over,
This haughty queen of mine,
In the brightest flowing nectar
That ever kissed the Rhine.”
Thus spake the bold Count Otto,
And held his goblet up,
And three times overflowing
Each student drained his cup.
“This is the fairest hour,
For the sunset clouds unfold
To the purple sea of twilight
Their red-tipped sails of gold.
“And the hecatombs of sweetness
That all the day have risen
In the bosom of the flowers
Unbar their shining prison.
“This is the fairest hour,
The hour of eventide,
And I drink to the fairest maiden
That dwells the Rhine beside.
“And I pledge her three times over,
Though her only dower should be
The heaven-born gift of beauty,
And a faithful love for me.”
Thus spake Adelbert, smiling,
And held his goblet up,
And three times overflowing
Each student drained his cup.
Then paused the twain in wond’ring,
What Ludwig’s toast might be;
For their comrade sat in silence,
And never word spake he.
“How now? Why thus, brave Ludwig,
Sitt’st thou in pensive mood?
Dost choose to dwell unmated,
In loveless solitude?”
He smiled, and then looked downward
As he answered, glass in hand,
“Nay, nay; but, if I pledge her,
Ye will not understand.”
“Where dwells she, then?” cried Otto,
“This peerless love of thine?
Mayhap some fabled Lurline
That sings beneath the Rhine?
“Thou’rt smiling—haste, then, pledge her!”
And the brimming glasses rung
As Ludwig dropped the music
That trembled on his tongue.
“This is the holiest hour
Of all the twenty-four,
For the rush of day hath passed us,
And the tide returns no more.
“And the waves of toil and traffic,
By dark argosies trod,
Are lost through circling eddies
In the mightiness of God.
“This is the holiest hour
When purest thoughts have birth,
And I drink to the holiest maiden
That ever dwelt on earth.
“Her vesture falleth around her
In folds of changeless white,
And her holiness outshineth
The jewels of the night.
“She weareth a mantle of sadness,
Her sorrows are her fame:
She long hath been my chosen,
But I will not name her name.
“Ah! not with wine I pledge thee,
All spotless as thou art,
But with my life’s devotion,
With the fulness of my heart.
“Ah! not with wine I pledge thee,
Nor one libation pour;
Thou hold’st the bond that seals me,
Thine own for evermore.”
This with white brow uncovered,
’Neath the floating twilight skies;
And angels might have marvelled
At the beauty of his eyes.
Then he turned his goblet downward,
And waved the flask aside
His comrades would have proffered
To pledge such wondrous bride.
“Friend, thou hast spoken strangely,
But thou wert ever strange;
Mayhap this matchless maiden
Hath power thy mood to change.”
Thus Adelbert spake, smiling,
And shook his golden hair:
I ask nor saint nor angel,
But maiden fond and fair.
“Then let us pledge each other,
Since thy passion is too deep,
With comrades tried and trusty,
Its sacredness to keep.
“What maiden like thy vision
In all our fatherland?”
“Ah! said I not,” cried Ludwig,
“Ye would not understand?”
“Come, let us pledge each other,”
Said Otto, glass in hand—
“A right good draught of friendship
That all may understand.”
Then their glasses clashed together,
“Firm may our fealty be!”
And Ludwig’s voice of music
Rang loudest of the three.
Seven times hath autumn gathered
The vintage of the Rhine,
Since the students pledged each other
In draughts of golden wine.
In a grand and lofty castle,
The Danube’s stream beside,
Count Otto dwells in splendor,
The lord of acres wide.
He has won the proudest maiden
In all that German-land,
And countless hosts of yeomen
Obey his high command.
But the haughty brow is clouded,
And his eye is full of care,
For the trace of many a heart-storm
Hath left its impress there.
Love had sought Adelbert,
Young Beauty’s flow’ret blown,
And the tendrils of its blossoms
About his heart had grown.
And joy had wrapped them softly
In robes of radiant sheen,
Till Death bent down, relentless,
And sapped their living green.
Hush! a mourner sits in silence
Within a darkened room,
Where the fairest flower of summer
Lies withered in her bloom.
While those who move about him
With footsteps sad and slow,
Whisper to each other,
But leave him to his woe.
And down in the quiet churchyard,
Where nodding grasses wave,
The children gather, silent,
And the sexton digs a grave.
Solemnly tolls the church-bell,
It counteth twenty-five—
O God! the flowers wither,
And the old, old branches thrive.
Solemnly tolls the church-bell,
Slowly winds the train
Adown the rocky hillside,
Along the grassy plain;
Sadly pass the bearers
Into the churchyard old,
Brightly falls the sunlight
In glittering lines of gold;
Tearfully pause the mourners
Above the broken sod,
And Ludwig waits beside it,
A humble priest of God.



These essays are here reprinted from the original editions of each, with only the addition of a few bracketed notes, and with some slight emendation of the wording of a few sentences of the text of a merely literary character. For many years, Dr. Newman has been a public man in the English theological world, so much so that, as he himself expressed it, “he is obliged to think aloud.” His writings have passed into the domain of English literature, and are public property. It is not now in his power to withdraw any portion of them, much as he might desire to do so. Under existing circumstances, he has judged it the better course—or, at least, the lesser evil—that they should be republished under his own eye, with such corrections in bracketed notes as will indicate what he would now correct or retract.

These two essays mark very distinctly two stages in the career through which, as he fully explains in his Apologia, Dr. Newman has passed.

The first one, written to defend the miracles recorded in the Holy Scriptures against the attacks of Hume, Gibbon, and other infidels, dates from 1825-26, while he was yet young, and a staunch Protestant, somewhat imbued with evangelical feelings, especially in the matter of Popery. Hence, while ably conducting the exposition and defence of the Scripture miracles, he omits no opportunity of hitting at the other miracles recorded to have occurred in the Catholic Church since the days of the apostles. In fact, he had, as he tells us elsewhere, read the work of Middleton on The Miracles of the Early Church, and had imbibed his spirit. He was guided also by Bishop Douglas, whose Criterion he often quotes.

Seventeen years of continuous study and mature thought produced their fruit in his clear and candid mind. In 1842-43, he wrote the second essay as a preface or introduction to a portion of Fleury’s Ecclesiastical History, then being published in an English translation.

Though still a Protestant, he had entirely changed his views on these ecclesiastical miracles. So much so, that this essay may be read as his own confutation of what he had said against them in his earlier essay. In the present volume, the bracketed foot-notes subjoined to that essay are, for the most part, mere references to the paragraphs of the second essay, in which the immature errors of the first are corrected. With the traditional prejudices of Protestantism then strong in him, he had looked on these ecclesiastical miracles as rivals, and as, in some way, antagonistic to the miracles of Scripture which he was upholding; and he had striven to find points of difference as well in their internal character as in the evidence needed to prove them. All this he fully meets in the second essay. In the second, third, and fourth chapters of it, treating of[134] “The Antecedent Probability of Ecclesiastical Miracles,” of their internal character, and of the evidence in support of their credibility, he shows how the admission of Scripture miracles utterly does away with the ground taken by some against the possibility or probability of ecclesiastical miracles, how the two classes agree in their chief and essential characteristics, and how, in fact, they rather merge into one general class of events, under the moral order of divine Providence, established for man’s salvation—an order distinct from and superior to the physical order of nature. Nothing can be more lucid than his replies to the objections of Douglas, Warburton, Middleton, and other Protestant writers on this subject. He shows, with the utmost clearness, how all that they urge against these ecclesiastical miracles in the Catholic Church can be turned by unbelievers, with equal plausibility, and in the same sophistical spirit, against the miracles of the apostles themselves.

Dr. Newman, in both dissertations, frankly admits—what indeed cannot be denied—that not a few of the Scripture miracles are to be believed by us simply because they have been recorded by divinely inspired writers. We have no other knowledge of them, no other evidence of their having occurred, than that we read them on the inspired page. Such miracles are for us matters of faith, not proofs in evidence. They are themselves proved by Scripture. Whatever they were to those who witnessed the occurrence, they are not now for us historical evidence in support of divine revelation. Writing as a Protestant, Dr. Newman did not advert to another important truth lying further back which Protestant writers generally ignore. Our knowledge of the inspiration and divine authority of the Scriptures as we have them—distinguished, that is, from the numerous other gospels, acts, epistles, apocalypses, and other pretended sacred writings, more or less current among and accepted by the sectaries of the early Christian ages—depends entirely on the decision of the Catholic Church, made after the death of the apostles. Hence, the value of the Scripture testimony as to these miracles, and our duty to recognize and accept it as divinely inspired, and therefore unerring, depend, in the last analysis, on the divine authority and character of the Catholic Church—of that same church which has always claimed that God continues to work miracles within her fold. To say that she errs on this latter point leaves room, to say the least, for the imputation or the suspicion that she may have erred in the other decision likewise; and so those Scripture miracles which lack, as most of them do, other corroborative testimony, would stand without sufficient proof. On the contrary, for the ecclesiastical miracles, because they occurred nearer our own times, there might still remain, as in many cases there does remain, ample historical evidence from contemporary witnesses.

After devoting four chapters to a thorough discussion of the subject of ecclesiastical miracles in general, Dr. Newman proceeds, in the fifth and last chapter, to sum up and discuss the evidences we still have, in nine special cases, held to be miraculous interventions, in the early ages of the church. For a clear and orderly presentation of the evidence, the logical application of the principles established in the earlier chapters, and the happy and often overwhelming retorting of their own propositions on Douglas, Leslie, and other anti-Catholic writers, each one of these cases deserves and will amply repay a special study.


Here, as in his other volumes, Dr. Newman displays that intellectual acumen and that plain common sense which are as characteristic of his writings as is the singular mastery over the English language which has caused him to be recognized as one of the classical writers of our day.

Valuable as this volume is to the careful student for its erudition and acute reasoning, and for the aid it gives in the polemical controversies that rise from time to time with Protestants, it is chiefly valuable, in our eyes, as a well-reasoned and, as it were, practical refutation of that rationalistic or materialistic system of false philosophy which is taught in some of our colleges, and is being spread through the land, and which either leaves God out of sight altogether, or at most acknowledges him only as the Creator and founder of the physical order. Dr. Newman, in discussing what some would term the philosophy of miracles, sets forth strongly and clearly the necessity of recognizing and taking into account the moral order, established by God, equally with the physical order, and superior to it in rank. The world is under both. To leave either out is to take only a partial view. To exclude the moral order from our consideration is to err at the very commencement of our course, and our progress will be but from error to error. The action of both orders may, and often does, coincide—would have always coincided had not sin brought in jarring and confusion. But in point of fact, they are sometimes found in opposition. A wise and good sovereign dies immaturely, leaving his sceptre to a wicked and unscrupulous successor; a good father dies early in life, and his orphans are left to grow up in ignorance and vice; a just and benevolent man dies or is ruined, and debts are left unpaid, and a stream of charity fails at the fount. And if we class the evil actions of men as belonging to this physical order, and the rationalists refuse to class them otherwise, do they not present a continual opposition between the physical and the moral orders? And if the physical order so asserts itself, should we not reasonably look for corresponding, if not greater, manifestations in the moral order?

Divine revelation itself is a fact in the moral order entirely beyond and above the physical order of nature—by its nature, a miracle. It can be proved only by miracles; and miracles are the appropriate accompaniment of its continuance as a dispensation of divine Providence. Hence, in the church—the kingdom of heaven—in which God specially reigns and rules, and in which the moral order is endowed with supernatural force, and interworks with the physical order of nature, we should as readily and as reasonably look for miracles, as, if we may be allowed a trivial comparison, we should expect, when examining a piece of complicated machinery, to find that one set of wheels will control and at times arrest the ordinary action of other wheels, and interpose some result due to their own special action in the general series of results. Not to take account of the moral and supernatural order in God’s ruling the world is not to recognize the highest and greatest of his acts. The rationalist is like a deaf man before an exquisite musical clock. His eye may follow the hands as they move round the dial; but he has closed his ears to the sweet melodies that float around him.



The Liquefaction of the Blood of St. Januarius, at Naples. An Historical and Critical Examination of the Miracle. New York: The Catholic Publication Society. 1872.

This is a republication of several very able and interesting articles which have lately appeared on this subject in The Catholic World. Their appearance in the present form cannot but be welcomed by all well-disposed persons, whether they be desirous to ascertain the truth or anxious to have the means for defending it. Catholics, who are accustomed to hear this miracle, as well as the many others which have occurred in the church from the earliest times, coolly dismissed by their Protestant acquaintances as undoubted impostures or superstitions, will find in this account all that is needed to silence, if not to convince, their opponents, and to enable them to assert their own faith; while the fair and candid non-Catholic will find in it an array of facts and of reasoning which cannot fail to produce a deep impression on his mind, and which may serve as a basis for his conversion to the faith. But we would not advise anyone who is determined in any event to remain a Protestant or an infidel to have anything to do with it. The failure to find any false but plausible theory to account for certain phenomena which do not agree with one’s preconceived ideas sometimes leads to a very unpleasant and dangerous frame of mind—that in which it impugns the known truth. The book contains seventy-nine pages, and is illustrated by an engraving representing the celebrated reliquary in which the blood of the saint is contained. It is the only complete and exhaustive treatise on the subject in the English language.

Americanisms: The English of the New World. By M. Schele De Vere, LL.D. New York: Charles Scribner & Co. 1872.

This elegantly printed book has a real and solid value. It shows how the English language has been enriched by additions from various sources in the New World, while, at the same time, it indicates the deterioration and corruption to which it has been exposed by knocking about in a new country. Both these topics are important, and we commend them to the careful attention of all who wish to acquire a true knowledge of the art of speaking and writing English. We object decidedly to the definition of A Hickory Catholic, on p. 58, as one who “is free from bigotry and asceticism.” This is a vulgar cant phrase, unworthy of a scholar. A hickory Catholic is a person who makes his principles bend to his passions and interests. He believes that he is bound to go to Mass on Sundays and to the Sacraments at Easter, but neglects to do so, because he is lazy, or fond of drinking too much, or licentious, or unwilling to make restitution, or stupidly careless about his soul; hoping to sneak into heaven by an old age or death-bed repentance. We have noticed nothing else worthy of censure in Professor De Vere’s book, and we can recommend it without hesitation as most valuable to all who are engaged in teaching the English language or endeavoring to learn it. It is, moreover, extremely amusing and entertaining, as well as instructive. Would that those who have the naming of places would study it attentively, and strictly follow its suggestions! Think of Ovid, Livy, Greece, Virgil, for names of villages in a country[137] rich in glorious Indian names! Not content with imposing absurd or unmeaning or vulgar names on places which had none before, those which have already most tasteful and appropriate ones are frequently rebaptized. For instance, in Fairfield Co., Connecticut, Saugatuck has been changed to Southport, and Green’s Farms to Westport. What a name is New York for a great state and a great city! What a change from Lake St. Sacrament, or even Horicon to Lake George! We wish that some of those who have leisure and inclination to take up this matter in earnest would do so, and try to effect a reformation. We notice also, with satisfaction, the condemnation of that wretched interloper and vagabond of a word, donate. Humbly, and with tears in our eyes, we entreat of our venerable presidents of colleges and of all in literary authority to sentence and banish donate, or he will some fine day bring into college his still shabbier and more beggarly cousin, orate, and a whole troop of poor relations, who will locate themselves, for all coming time. English has been and can be enriched from new sources, as Professor De Vere amply proves; but let us watch carefully that it do not become corrupted and be not made vulgar.

Zeal in the Work of the Ministry. By L’Abbé Dubois. London: J. C. Newby. New York: The Catholic Publication Society.

It is encouraging to see books of this kind published in the English language. We know not how to make any extracts from this volume, for every page of it is filled with good sense, practical advice, and the true spirit of the priesthood. Could we realize our wishes, we would place in the hands of every priest and candidate preparing for ordination a copy. It would be most wholesome for daily spiritual reading and meditation. The author reveals his object in writing the book in the following passage in the preface, p. viii.:

“To rekindle in the bosom of the priesthood the ardor of that zeal which should be its animating principle; to call to remembrance those noblest virtues without which it languishes, and with which it works miracles; further, to bring that zeal into practice by showing how the priest ought to act in the various circumstances of daily life, and in his intercourse with the various persons with whom he is perpetually brought into contact; such, in short, is the plan I have adopted. God grant that I may have carried it into execution in such a way as to procure abundantly his glory and the salvation of souls!”

One evidence that he has not been unsuccessful in attaining his object, is that this translation is made from the fifth French edition.

The Book of Psalms. Translated from the Latin Vulgate. Being a Revised Edition of the Douay Version. London: Burns, Oates & Co. 16mo, pp. 193. New York: The Catholic Publication Society, 9 Warren Street.

“This English version of the Book of Psalms,” says the Most Rev. Dr. Manning in the preface, “may be regarded as one more of the many gifts bequeathed to us by my learned and lamented predecessor [Cardinal Wiseman]. One-half, at least, of the psalms were revised by his own hand.” Critics will regret that there is nothing to enable them to distinguish the precise psalms on which the illustrious cardinal brought his great Biblical learning and his pure English taste to the task of revision.

The term “Douay Version” in the title is used in the loose way which his eminence himself opposed, and the basis is not the Douay, but Dr. Challoner’s text.

This edition is made in a cheap popular form, and is intended to diffuse more generally among the faithful the psalms as a manual of prayer. They are the great storehouse from[138] which the church draws her offices, and supply the pious with ejaculations, short and fervent prayers, which are of wonderful value. No greater boon has been added recently, for, though there is no lack of pocket Bibles, they are unhandy, and the type too small for those who wish the psalms alone.

To meet this want a new translation was issued in 1700, in a neat little volume, the version being by John Caryl, a friend of Pope, and faithful adherent of the Stuarts. His Psalms is a very uncommon work, though highly esteemed.

We had thus Gregory Martin’s version in the original Douay, Caryl’s, Bishop Challoner’s, and Archbishop Kenrick’s, and we have now a version due in part at least to Cardinal Wiseman. It is a little volume that will reward study among those who wish to compare the versions, and as a convenient, well-printed manual commends itself to the pious.

“In the Book of Psalms,” says his grace, Dr. Manning, “the Spirit of Praise himself has inscribed the notes and the words of thanksgiving to be learned here, and to be continued before the eternal throne. For this use and aid I commend the present volume to the piety of the faithful.”

Some common errors have, we see, been retained in this edition, which we hope to see corrected, such as the omission of “angry” before enemies in Ps. xvii. 48; “and,” in Ps. xliii. 12; “in form,” Ps. xliv. 4.

A Journey around my Room. By Count Xavier de Maistre. New York: Hurd & Houghton.

This work, so full of the author’s delicate humor and sentimental reverie, is the very thing for a winter evening, when one feels like giving himself up to dream away a few hours.

The author was a younger brother of the perhaps better known Count Joseph de Maistre, French Ambassador at the Russian Court in the early part of this century, and one of the ablest defenders of the Papacy. He was the author of the famous Du Pape and the philosopher of the Soirees de St. Petersbourg. Count Joseph was likewise an intimate friend of Madame Swetchine’s, whose interesting life has been published by “The Catholic Publication Society,” and was instrumental in the conversion of that remarkable woman to the Catholic Church.

The De Maistres belonged to the haute noblesse de Savoy. Count Xavier, as well as his brothers, became an exile during the first French Revolution. He went to Russia, where he married. After an absence of twenty-five years he returned to his own country.

Lamartine addressed him one of his Harmonies Poëtiques after his return, saluting him thus:

“Voyageur fatigué qui reviens sur nos plages
Demander à tes champs leurs antiques ombrages,
A ton cœur ses premiers amours!”

He also calls Count Xavier the Sterne of Savoy, but without his affectation, and declares him equal to Rousseau, but without his declamatory style. “He is a familiar genie, a fireside talker, a cricket chirping on the rural hearth.”

The writings of Xavier de Maistre were among the favorite volumes that composed Eugénie de Guérin’s library, and we can imagine a certain sympathy in their intellectual natures. The Lépreux in particular appealed to her sympathetic nature, and the thought of meeting its author filled her with delight. When this meeting took place at Paris, Count Xavier had just lost his children, and was so depressed in consequence that it was not equal to her expectations.

But Lamartine speaks of seeing him a few years after, and describes him as “an old man of fourscore years, gracious in manner, and with no signs of decay of body or feebleness of mind. Airiness of sentiment, a mild sensibility, a half-serious,[139] half-indulgent smile at human affairs, a tolerance—the result of his intelligence—of all human opinions: such was the man.

“His sonorous voice had a far-off sound like an echo of the past, and was well adapted to the reminiscenses of his previous life, which he loved to tell.

“His Leper of the City of Aosta is, in the literature of the heart, equal to Paul and Virginia; the Journey around my Room is only a pleasantry. The Leper is a tear, but a tear that flows for ever!”

Lamartine, in his Confidences, gives a pleasing picture of the De Maistre family, and likens a summer passed among its illustrious members in Savoy to the conversations of Boccaccio at his country-seat near Florence. They used to assemble beneath a clump of pines at the foot of Mont du Chat, overlooking the Arcadian valley of Chambery, so redolent of St. Francis de Sales, another genius not less poetical, and with no less delicacy of sentiment, but loftier than Xavier de Maistre; and sometimes they came together on a terrace over-arched by vine-hung elms before the Château de Servolex, the residence of Madame de Vigny, De Maistre’s sister.

Count Joseph de Maistre, like a modern Plato, was the centre of this family group. His stature was lofty, his features fine and manly, his forehead broad and high, and, crowning all, floated his thin, silvery hair. His mouth was indicative of the delicate humor that characterized the family. His brothers regarded him with great respect, and used to gather around him to listen to the experiences of his exile. Even the Canon de Maistre, afterwards Bishop of Aosta, who looked like a Socrates, with features that had been softened and sanctified by the influences of Christianity, would hasten to close the breviary he had been reading in a secluded alley, and join the group.

And now and then came sweet interludes of soft Scythian airs through the open window of the château, which Mademoiselle de Maistre, a pensive, talented girl, was playing on the piano.

The writings of Count Xavier de Maistre, though not at all dogmatic, belong to Catholic literature. They are among the sweet blossoms that have unfolded under the pure light of Catholic influences, and with a delicacy of aroma not to be found in the forced hot-house plants of the world. We love to inhale their odor, and would not be the last to welcome the appearance of The Journey around my Room.

The History of Greece. By Professor Dr. Ernest Curtius. Translated by Adolphus William Ward, M.A. Vols. I. and II. New York: Charles Scribner & Co. 1871.

Dr. Ernest Curtius is impartial, and metes out strict justice to all whom he summons to the tribunal of history. Neither Spartan valor nor Athenian grace influences his judgment. He passes from the Eurotas Valley to the Acropolis without leaving in his train a single notion which would weigh in his decision on the men and things in Attica. And this impartiality is a rare gift in the writers of Grecian history, be they ancient or modern. Almost all take sides. Mitford holds the Spartan oligarchy to be the height of perfection in government, and makes it the standard by which the democracy of Athens is to be judged. The result is that in his pages the fair features of Athens are caricatured and distorted, while the stern features of Sparta are so flattered that not even Lycurgus would recognize them. On the other hand, Thirlwall, and many more besides, have not been able to escape the fascination of Athenian wit and elegance, and throughout their histories Athens is unduly favored. Dr. Curtius judges not of governments and institutions in the abstract, but he judges of them with reference to[140] the peoples for whom they were intended, and thus has avoided the error into which so many have fallen.

There are in the volumes before us two points which are particularly well handled. These are the origin of the Greek people, and the development of their religion. Mr. Mommsen, in his History of Rome, absurdly tells us that the ancient peoples of Italy were indigenous to the soil. This he does, doubtless, either to show his independence of revelation, or to save himself the trouble of further investigation, perhaps with both ends in view. Dr. Curtius is neither so disregardless of truth nor so saving of labor. By the aid of ethnography, philology, and historical research, he demonstrates that the Greeks and the Latins also belonged to the great Aryan family. He traces them back to their old homes in the Phrygian highlands, where, before their migrations westward, they occupied positions adjoining. The Latin tribes were the first to leave Asia Minor, then followed the Greeks in successive waves of migration through the Hellespont and Propontis.

The learned professor discusses at length the origin and development of the Greek Pantheon, and the conclusion arrived at is most satisfactory. He proves that the Greek tribes in their primitive simplicity worshipped the one only God—“The Zeus, who dwelt in light inaccessible.” Gradually the primitive traditions began to wane, and the “Zeus who dwelt in light inaccessible” became the “Zeus who dwelt in sacred light over the oak-tops of the Lycæan mountain,” still formless and unapproachable. But this Zeus was too near the earth to remain long formless and unapproachable. His worshippers soon began to approach him under different names, then under different forms, and, finally, they divided him up into the different gods of their Pantheon, so that the first and best known became the “Unknown God.”

We have now pointed out some of the excellences of Dr. Curtius’ history, but it has its defects, as every human work has, and one of these we deem it our duty to point out. Its chief defect is its diffuseness; for diffuse it really is in many places. And because it is diffuse it is often monotonous and even prosaic. On the whole, however, the style is good, and abounds in elegant passages, which are well rendered by the translator. This defect is indeed the only one which justifies us in doubting whether the History will become popular, and receive the appreciation which it deserves.

Fashion: The Power that Influences the World. By George P. Fox. New York: The American News Company. 1872.

The author of this work seems to have been “born with a divine idea of cloth.” According to him, fashionable dress is a preservative of morals. Easy and graceful garments are incompatible with deeds of violence. No one who ever honored the author with his patronage was ever convicted of a crime. We are as morally bound to offer a pleasing exterior to our friends as a smiling face. In Carlyle’s language, “Man’s earthly interests (to say the least) are all hooked and buttoned together by clothes. Society is founded on cloth.” The pen was once considered mightier than the sword, but shears are now in the ascendency. “Dress makes the man, and want of it the fellow.” Dress is a duty we owe ourselves, and inattention to it indicates a want of respect to others. Man’s chief duty is to sacrifice to the graces. Our author is the high-priest of fashion. He makes dress almost a sacrament—as Hazlitt says, “an outward and visible sign of the inward harmony of the soul.” Non possumus does not seem to be in his code. There is no physical defect he cannot remedy. Witness the unhappy man in New York, with a[141] long neck, low shoulders, and sallow complexion, at last able to hold up his head in society; the unfortunate British nobleman, whose attenuated and shapeless limbs are made to correspond more fully to our idea of sturdy John Bull; and President Fillmore’s life-long ambition for a pair of well-fitting pantaloons at length realized. Bow legs and knock-knees are all remedied. The old proverb of the Béarnais is verified: “Habillez un bâton, il aura l’air d’un baron.” A book that brings hope to all is a public benefaction. No Jonathan need despair of cutting a figure in the world after this, and he should not. Dress, its color, style, and fit, are all matters of momentous interest (being so interwoven with our morals), as well as manners and the carriage of the body, which are not overlooked in this volume. As to the latter, everybody knows a stoop in the shoulders sinks a man in public and private estimation.

The Saturday Review calls our author a Transcendental Tailor, a title he evidently merits. The devise he assumed when he entered the lists was Faire sans dire, which Daniel Webster did him the honor of quoting in an address before the New York Historical Society, as well as wearing his transcendent—we almost said transcendental—garments, both living and dead, for the blue coat with a velvet collar and gold-wove cloth buttons that shrouded the immortal statesman are almost a matter of history, and have been sworn to in the most solemn manner before the mayor of New York.

But to go back to our devise. The author forgot it when he began to write. He must now make it: Faire et dire. However, he handles the pen almost as skilfully as the shears, and throws quite a glamour of poetry over the most common duties of the toilet. He ought to be a capital hand at a hem-a-stitch, as Rogers said of Béranger. He gives some excellent advice about dress (gentlemen’s, of course) and etiquette, but some of the chapters seem rather foreign to the subject. We cordially recommend the book to Mr. and Mrs. Veneering as they endeavor to adjust themselves at the glass of fashion, and to whosoever is entirely wrapped up in cloth.

We have been particularly interested in the published correspondence at the end of the volume of the various dignitaries in the political and literary world who sought the efficient co-operation of our Prince of Tailors. If dress is really an “emanation” of the soul (as well as from Mr. Fox’s “emporium”), and indicative of character, it is well to know that Mr. Fillmore’s ill-fitting garments might be owing to a judgment awry; the attenuated limbs of the British minister, which nothing had been able to hide, to a paucity of understanding; and the long neck of our New York friend, which had to be muffled, to an overreaching disposition. Who can tell?

Dress is certainly of the utmost importance to those who are conscious of no other recommendation. Diderot saw no difference between a man and his dog but the dress, and it would sometimes be hard to give a person his proper grade in the animal world without reference to his material garments, for it really does not do in our social world to follow Carlyle’s advice to look fixedly on clothes till they became transparent. It would lead to a fearful revolution in society.

Still, there are some, like Mr. and Mrs. Boffin, who “go in neck and crop for fashion,” who can bear such a clairvoyant eye. Mrs. Boffin was “a Highflier for Fashion,” but we entirely overlook that low evening dress of black sable which she does credit to (“her make is such”), in consideration of her large heart, and the affectionate readiness to salute her lord to the great detriment of her great black velvet hat and plumes.

Our author is really a phœnix sprung from the ashes of Beau Brummel.


“Kind Heaven has sent us another professor,
Who follows the steps of his great predecessor.”

As we read, we share the sensation he produced at the Presidential levée at Washington, clad in a blue coat out of the very web that furnished Mr. Webster’s last suit. The meeting of the President of the United States of America, serenely conscious of his new clothes, and the President of Fashion, who so successfully cut them, reminds us of another meeting there which Irving compared to “two kings of Brentford smelling at one rose.”

We cannot close without expressing our gratitude in particular for the fine suit of black our Prince of Tailors presented Father Mathew of blessed and abstemious memory.

The Book of the Foundations of St. Teresa of Jesus, of the Order of Our Lady of Carmel. Written by herself. Translated from the Spanish by David Lewis. London: Burns, Oates & Co. New York: The Catholic Publication Society.

This volume contains, besides the work indicated in the title-page, Annals of the Saint’s Life, by Don Vicente de La Fuente, The Carmelite Rule and Constitutions, and The Visitation of Nunneries, and Maxims of St. Teresa herself. The principal work is also more complete than any previous edition in English.

Those who are familiar with the wonderful story of St. Teresa’s history will need no assurance that the spirit which animated her life also pervades her works. Indeed, the two are almost inseparable, her writings evidently being a faithful transcript of her whole history. Notwithstanding the signal favors she received from heaven, she seemed always oppressed with the idea of her own unworthiness. The prologue to the Foundations furnishes many valuable lessons to religious as well as those whose sphere of duty lies in the world. St. Teresa knew how to exert the utmost zeal and energy in the service of religion, with entire submission to her ecclesiastical superiors. The case of St. Teresa, moreover, is evidence of the way the church honors real reformers—by proposing them to the veneration of the faithful as canonized saints. As an indication of her humility, even the main work in this volume was undertaken, not to gratify any personal feeling, but in obedience to the command of her confessor. It contains a history of the religious houses, male and female, she established. In the face of great difficulties and discouragements, she persevered in her purpose, until the reform was recognized at Rome, and the Carmelite Order was divided into two branches, one under the milder observance, and her own under the stricter or primitive observance.

The lives of the saints present marvels exceeding in interest the dreams of poetry and romance, and we cannot do better than commend to those who jeopardize their innocence in the perusal of sensational figments of the imagination, to betake themselves to the more edifying and truly interesting lives and writings of the saints.

Sermons on Ecclesiastical Subjects. By Henry Edward, Archbishop of Westminster. Vol. I. American Edition. New York: The Catholic Publication Society. 1872.

Each new volume from Archbishop Manning is a precious addition to Catholic literature. The present collection of sermons has all the usual characteristics of the author, both as a preacher and as a writer. Great as many other sermons undoubtedly are, those of Dr. Manning possess a charm all their own. The oldest theme is never stale in his hands. His logic is always of the keenest, while his style is as clear and musical as a brook.

Of the sermons before us, we commend two especially. The first, on “The Church, the Spirit, and the Word”; and the sixth,[143] “The Blessed Sacrament the Centre of Immutable Truth.” The thirteenth will also be found of peculiar interest for American readers. It was preached in St. Joseph’s College, Nov. 17, 1871. Its subject: “The Negro Mission.”

An Essay on the Druids, the Ancient Churches, and the Round Towers of Ireland. By the Rev. Richard Smiddy. Dublin: W. B. Kelly. 1871. New York: The Catholic Publication Society.

This is a very neat little publication, well-bound and handsomely printed. Those who have not leisure or opportunity to read Petrie’s elaborate book on the Round Towers or the works issued by the Archæological Society will find in Mr. Smiddy’s essay much valuable information regarding Irish antiquities, though in some of his views and theories he differs materially from preceding writers on the same class of subjects.

Salad for the Solitary and the Social. By an Epicure. New York: De Witt C. Lent & Co. 8vo, pp. 526. 1872.

The author of this book, if author in the proper sense he may be called, has acted discreetly in withholding his name from the public, for, though a work not specially opposed to morality or truth, it is as little likely to increase the fame of the compiler or secure the approbation of the judicious as any of the many modern publications that teem from our metropolitan press, and depend almost altogether on the beauty of their illustrations and mechanical taste for public patronage. We have a very high appreciation of the shrewdness and foresight of publishers as a class, but upon a cursory glance at the appearance of the book, and on a comparison of it with its homogeneous contents, we were inclined to think the firm of Lent & Co. was an exception until we noticed in a brief preface that thirty thousand copies of the original, of which the book before us is said to be an enlarged and improved edition, have been sold. This may or may not be a piece of exaggeration on the part of the publishers: if it be not, then we are sorry for the lack of sense and judgment on the part of so many of our fellow-beings. The work is compiled, not written, pretty much as it is said “leading articles” in remote Western journals are produced, by the efficient aid of the scissors and mucilage, and its general contents would be more in place in the columns of those second or third hand journals, under the stereotyped headings of “Facts and Fancies” or “Mirth and Fun,” than in the imposing garb of a well-bound book. From cover to cover it is nothing but a compilation of old stories, thread-bare jokes, worn-out puns, stupid epitaphs, and references to historical and literary personages which are neither new nor original, and scarcely apropos to the subject they are intended to make interesting. There is some attempt at arrangement in the display of this useless learning, and here and there a pleasant little bit of chat, but the whole composition is so disjointed and puerile that the effect produced on the mind of the reader is anything but pleasurable. There is no discretion apparent in the selection of extracts and quotations, and no dignity in the tone of the entire work that would entitle it to the praise of even comparatively illiterate persons, though the generally good character of the engravings and its attractive exterior may secure some purchasers. Besides, its title gives no idea of its contents, and we hope not to be considered unkind when we offer the suggestion that, if the author should ever inflict another edition on a patient public, he will change it. Hash would be much more expressive and germain to the matter, salad being much too palatable a dish to be treated with such contumely.


A Remembrance of the Living to Pray for the Dead. By James Mumford, Priest of the Society of Jesus. Reprinted from the Edition of 1661. With Appendix on the Heroic Act. By John Morris, Priest of the same Society. London: Burns, Oates & Co. New York: The Catholic Publication Society. 1871.

Those who have read Father Mumford’s Catholic Scripturist or Question of Questions will need no assurance from us of the excellence of the present treatise. Those who are yet strangers to this old writer will find a peculiar charm in the work, if, at least, they have any liking for terseness, directness, and unction. Father Mumford is somewhat quaint; but that only adds to his style. Good works on Purgatory are not plentiful. This is one of the very best. It particularly inculcates, too, a duty we seldom appreciate sufficiently.

Little Prudy’s Flyaway Series. Aunt Madge’s Story. By Sophie May, author of “Little Prudy’s Stories,” “Dotty Dimple Stories,” etc. Illustrated. Boston: Lee & Shepard. New York: Lee, Shepard & Dillingham. 1872.

This is a delightful little story for children, but this is saying nothing new, for Sophie May’s stories always are. As Aunt Madge was not one of the “tremendous good” children, her story will, perhaps, have a special interest for the little ones.

P. F. Cunningham has in press and will soon publish Marion Howard, a story of much interest.


From Charles Scribner & Co., New York: A Commentary on the Holy Scriptures. By J. P. Lange, D.D. Translated, enlarged, and edited by P. Schaff, D.D. Vol. IV. Containing Joshua, Judges, and Ruth. 8vo, pp. iv., 188, 261, 53.—Lectures on Science and Religion. By Max Müller, M.A. 12mo, pp. iv., 300.—Systematic Theology. By C. Hodge, D.D. Vol. II. 8vo, pp. 732.

From Carlton & Lanahan, New York: Three Score Years and Beyond. By Rev. W. H. De Puy, D.D. 8vo, pp. 512.—Jesus Christ. By E. de Pressensé, D.D. 12mo, pp. 312.—Pillars of the Temple. By Rev. W. C. Smith. 12mo, pp. 366.—Light on the Pathway of Holiness. By Rev. L. D. McCabe, D.D. 18mo, pp. 114.—The Land of the Veda. By Rev. W. Butler, D.D.

From D. Appleton & Co., New York: Ballads of Good Deeds. By H. Abbey. 18mo, pp. 129.

From P. Donahoe, Boston: The Fourfold Sovereignty of God. By Henry Edward, Archbishop of Westminster. 18mo, pp. 272.—The Council of the Vatican. By Thomas, Canon Pope. 12mo, pp. xviii., 340.

From Kelly, Piet & Co., Baltimore: The Martyrs of the Coliseum. By Rev. A. J. O’Reilly. 12mo, pp. viii., 396.

From J. R. Osgood & Co., Boston: The Divine Tragedy. By H. W. Longfellow. 18mo, pp. iv., 150.

From Lee & Shepard, Boston: Half Truths and the Truth. By Rev. J. M. Manning, D.D. 12mo, pp. xii., 398.

From the Author: Notes on Historical Evidence in Reference to Adverse Theories of the Origin and Nature of the Government of the United States. By J. B. Dillon. 8vo, pp. x., 141.

From D. &. J. Sadlier & Co., New York: The Devil. By Father Delaporte. 18mo, pp. viii., 202.

From Kreuzer Bros., Baltimore: Triumph of the Blessed Sacrament. By Rev. M. Müller, C.SS.R. 18mo, pp. 146.—The Catholic Priest. By Rev. M. Müller, C.SS.R. 18mo, pp. 163.

From G. Routledge & Sons, New York: The Moral of Accidents. By the late Rev. T. T. Lynch. 12mo, pp. xviii., 415.—Una and Her Paupers.—Memorials of Agnes E. Jones. By her Sister. With an Introduction by Florence Nightingale. First American Edition. With an Introductory Preface by Rev. H. W. Beecher. 12mo, pp. xlvi., 497.

From P. O’Shea, New York: Lectures on the Church. By Rev. D. A. Merrick, S.J. 12mo, pp. iv., 263.

From J. B. Lippincott & Co., Philadelphia: Wear and Tear. By S. W. Mitchell. 18mo, paper, pp. 59.

From R. Coddington, New York: The Church and the World. By Rev. T. S. Preston, D.D. Paper, pp. 30.

From Roberts Brothers, Boston: The To-Morrow of Death. By Louis Figuier. 12mo, pp. viii., 395.

From C. C. Chatfield & Co., New Haven: Logical Praxis. By H. N. Day. 12mo, pp. viii., 148.

Proceedings of the Third Annual Session of the American Philological Association, held at New Haven, Conn., July, 1871. [The Third Annual Meeting of the Association will be held in Providence, R. I., July 24, 1872, at 3 P.M.]

We are under obligations to the Author for a copy of Evolution and its Consequences. (Reprinted from the Contemporary Review.) A Reply to Prof. Huxley. By St. Geo. Mivart, F.R.S.



VOL. XV., No. 86.—MAY, 1872.

Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1872, by Rev. I. T. Hecker, in the Office of the Librarian of Congress, at Washington, D. C.



If we look at one aspect of Christian society, we cannot help being overwhelmed with astonishment at the number and the greatness of the generous deeds and sacrifices which crowd and adorn its history. The noble, the powerful, the highly gifted, the wealthy, have lavished their possessions, their labors, their lives, for their fellow-men, in such a way as really to merit our wonder when we think of the weakness of human nature and the rarity of disinterested philanthropy among those who are not Christians. But, if we look at another aspect of the same, the amount of meanness, selfishness, and baseness which meets our view makes us wonder that Christian faith has, after all, produced so little really rare and rich fruit in the soil of human nature. The little which we do find is so perfect that we are astonished not to see more of the same quality produced by the same causes and influences. When we think of the motive which men have for making sacrifices, and of the example which has been given them—that is, that the Lord of heaven has died on the cross for mankind—the conduct of those Christians who have followed that example by the practice of heroic perfection seems merely the fulfilment of a plain, Christian duty of gratitude. On the other hand, the conduct of those Christians who live a selfish and unworthy life appears not only in a mean and ignoble, but even in an atrocious, light. That we belong absolutely to God, that we have been redeemed by the blood of Christ, that we have only one lawful end to our life on the earth, which is to glorify God and merit to be glorified by him hereafter, are first truths which no Catholic ever thinks of denying or doubting. These truths[146] caused some of the saints to renounce literally everything for Jesus Christ, and others to administer the power and wealth which they retained, exclusively for the glory of God and the good of their fellow-men. The saints are only examples of the highest degrees of those virtues of the same kind which constitute the character of all really good Christians. Every rich man, therefore, who wishes to be a good Christian, must have the same devotion to the faith, to the church, to the cause of God, of Christ, and of the Vicar of Christ on earth, which the saints had. Devotion to the church sums up the whole, because it includes or implies everything. This devotion must precede, direct, and dominate over every intention, motive, object, and undertaking of life. The obligation to it lies in the very nature of baptism. The baptized person is wholly devoted to the service of the Lord who has redeemed him, signed him with his own peculiar mark, and given him a title to the crown of celestial glory. The nature and extent of the service due varies with the position and the talents of the individual. The one who receives one talent is bound to gain one more with it. This may mean, for instance, that this particular man, or that particular woman, is bound to no other service to the church than to bring up well some three or five children, to come to Mass and the sacraments with them, to live an honest life, and to make some small contributions to the treasury of the church. The one who receives five talents is also bound to gain five more. The explication of the sense of this, and its application to particular cases, are easily made. Whatever the talents conferred on any individual may be, all must be devoted primarily to the sacred cause of the Catholic Church. It is the kingdom of Christ; it is the only hope of salvation to the world; it is the ark of safety to the individual himself with whom we are speaking. Into that church he has been baptized at the font, and made its child, its citizen, and its subject. There is no escape from its allegiance except by treason. The character of baptism is ineffaceable, and no one who bears that mark has any rights over himself, his talents, or his possessions, except such as are conceded to him by the law of Christ. “Ye are not your own, ye are bought with a price.” “Henceforth, no one liveth to himself, and no one dieth to himself.” It is necessary to live and die as a member of the Catholic Church, in order to live honorably and to die happily. As it is only by partaking in the common life of the church that its individual members have any life of their own, it is their first duty to promote that common life. The law of life is the law of duty: the greater and stronger and more important the member is, the greater is the service it is bound to render to the body.

The duties of Catholics who belong to the higher and more wealthy class in society to the church are very various, numerous, and heavy. One portion of them coincides to a great extent with their obligations to the poor and miserable, of which notice was taken in our last number. The obligation of succoring their fellow-creatures because they are of the same blood through Adam, and made in the rational image of the same God, becomes more sacred towards those who are brethren in Christ through baptismal grace. How is it possible for Christians who expect to be saved through the infinite charity of Jesus Christ to revel in splendor, luxury, and enjoyment, and at the same time to look with heartless indifference[147] on the want and suffering of those who are the dearest friends of Christ? If they are charitable and kind-hearted, as every true Christian must be, the charities of the church are so numerous and extensive as to tax their generosity to the utmost. There is great scope for private and personal charity toward individuals, but the great organized works of general charity must be carried on by the clergy or religious societies. The funds which they are ordinarily able to procure for these works are, in proportion to the necessities clamoring for relief, like the five loaves and two small fishes which the disciples of Christ set before the famishing multitude of five thousand men, besides women and children. These small funds come in great part from the almsgiving of laboring people, or from the various devices of lectures, fairs, concerts, etc., to which the managers of charitable works are obliged to resort. After all has been done, the Catholic priest, the charitable layman who makes his round of visits in the name of the St. Vincent de Paul’s Society, the Sister of Charity, are hardly able to do more than help those who are in want of the absolutely necessary clothing, food, and fire with which to keep off the gaunt death that grins at them out of every corner of their life. The demands upon charity are constant, multifarious, and pressing. They are made chiefly upon priests, who have already given up everything for God. It is plain, therefore, that it is the duty of the rich to furnish them liberally and abundantly with the means for supplying these demands.

The building of churches, their decoration, the furnishing of sacred vessels and ornaments for the sanctuary, and other works directly connected with the service and worship of the divine Majesty, are objects demanding a truly immense outlay of money. So far as concerns that which is necessary for the ministering of the word and sacraments of Christ, these spiritual wants of the people take precedence of their bodily necessities. So far as the decoration, splendor, and dignity of religion only are concerned, they come next after the more essential works of charity. Add to the buildings which are immediately devoted to divine worship, all those which belong to colleges, schools, orphanages, etc., and the work demanded of the Catholics of the United States appears colossal, and would seem impossible, did we not see before our eyes so much of it already accomplished. Then, there are the most just and imperative claims of the Holy Father, and the pathetic appeals of the foreign missions, never so pressing as at the present moment, when the downfall of the power of France has left them so denuded of the succor which they formerly received from that most generous nation. The naïve response which a most estimable French lady once gave to a priest who asked her for a donation to a good work in this city, very well expresses the true state of the case in hand: “Very much call, very little fund.” Nowhere is this more literally true than in New York. The most extreme liberality of all the Catholics of this city who have anything to spare, whether rich or poor, would not yield the means of furnishing a sufficient number of churches, schools, and other means for supplying the spiritual and corporal wants of our swarming and increasing population. Millions might be used at the present moment, if they could be had, in works of the most practical utility and even necessity. When a city or a nation is in straits through the calamities of war, pestilence, or famine, all its citizens[148] are expected to strain every nerve and to make heroic sacrifices for its relief. No city or nation has a thousandth part of the claim to devotion from its citizens which the church possesses. And the church, always militant, is always in straits, at least in some part of her great empire, always suffering from the effects of the perpetual warfare waged against her, from pestilential vices and sins among her children, from a famine of the word and sacraments of Christ among the most neglected and abandoned of her people. God alone can help her efficiently. But men must struggle to help themselves, if they expect God to help them. Our Lord demanded of his disciples to feed the hungry multitude, and ordered them to set before them the whole of their own scanty provisions. “He himself knew what he would do,” and he did it by multiplying miraculously the loaves and fishes of his disciples. God alone can rescue the famishing and perishing multitudes of Christendom and heathendom from the abyss of temporal and spiritual ruin and death which yawns under their feet. Society must be reconstructed on a Christian basis, and by mighty, organic movements, in which the church and the state, the hierarchy, both ecclesiastical and civil, and all the powers contained in the bosom of society, in harmonious concert of action, labor together for a common end, it must work out its own regeneration and the Christian civilization of the human race; or the work will remain for ever incomplete. Christendom is full of deadly disorders and wounds, inflicted on it by the fell power of schism, heresy, and infidelity. Only Catholic unity can heal it, and combine its members in the work assigned to it by divine Providence, and only a miracle of grace can restore to that unity the severed and disorganized parts, close up the deadly gashes in the living body, and reanimate it with complete health. The zeal, activity, and wealth of the whole community, collected in the communion of the Catholic Church, would be sufficient for as thorough a regeneration of New York, and of the whole United States, as the most sanguine optimist could ever expect to see brought about in any country in the world. Christendom, united in itself, and governed on Christian principles, would absorb into itself on a century the entire world. But meanwhile, the faithful and loyal children of the church must do what they can, and await the time for God to do what he has determined, and to a great extent made conditional in the efforts of men. The most of our Catholic people in the United States have, on the whole, fulfilled the duty of contributing the funds required for carrying on the works of the church remarkably well. Whether the richer portion of them have done their fair share, is a question not so easy to answer. Instances of princely generosity have not been wanting, and to a considerable extent there has been a creditable liberality manifested by the wealthier classes of Catholics when they have been publicly or privately solicited to aid in religious or other charitable works. That there are some who are niggardly in their disposition, and many who are more sparing and moderate in their charities than they ought to be, can hardly be doubted. The comparatively small number of wealthy men in the Catholic community has necessarily thrown the great burden of supporting the institutions of the church upon the mass of the people who are not rich. There is nothing in this to complain of. If the rich do their fair share, it is no disgrace to them that they enjoy the benefits[149] which have been chiefly purchased by the money of the laboring classes. But if they fall behind their proportion, it is a real disgrace to them, because they receive in that case for nothing, and as an alms from the poor, something which they ought to have paid for.

The church demands something more than a portion of the surplus of the wealth of the rich. She demands the consecration and devotion of the minds, the wills, the time, the efforts of all the élite of her laity, of those who are rich in intellectual gifts and acquisitions, as well as of those who are rich in gold and silver. The principal medium of the operation of this devotion at the present time are voluntary associations under the sanction and direction of the hierarchy. These associations have for their scope the organization of charitable works, the diffusion of knowledge, resistance to the enemies of the church, the defence of the Holy See, and general co-operation with the clergy in the extension of the Catholic religion. We will not enlarge on this theme, at present, as we have promised to make our articles very brief, and an essay on the subject has already appeared in our pages. What we have said will be sufficient, we trust, to stimulate all those who are imbued with the spirit of Catholic faith to greater zeal and effort in the sacred cause of the church, in which the laity have as great an interest as the clergy.


On this steep pathway, which, with prayers, I climb,
I pause a moment—as a traveller might,
Weary and footsore, and in dusty plight,
Hearing, far off, the clear, melodious chime
Of bells that mark the swiftly passing time:
Then, as he pauses on the beetling height,
Through filming distance fixes his keen sight
On one faint speck, his starting point at prime,
And takes fresh courage for the sharp ascent—
Thus do I pause to-day; my steadfast eye
Fixed on that point of time, in which doth lie
The germ of all which can my soul content;
On which my waking thoughts, my dreams, are bent:
Then, turn where life’s still summits touch th’ eternal sky.




It is well for us that faith is able to decipher what De Quincey calls “the hieroglyphic meanings of human suffering”; and that, though the interpretation should not at once be made plain to us, we may, at least, be sure that it is merciful. As St. Peter stands supreme, holding in his hand the shining keys of heaven, which none but he can set in the wards, and none but he can turn, so to each Christian on earth is given the golden key to a personal heaven, and none but he can open the door, and none but he can close it. Within that door sits the interpreter, and when the soul is still it hears his voice reading, with praise and amen, both day and night: and some riddles he makes clear, and on some he sets the seal with the Holy Name; and that is God’s secret, and one day he will speak to the soul concerning it. He who seeks to tear away that seal finds only darkness and confusion; but he who folds his hands above it will at last be illuminated.

Never once during his trial had Dick Rowan rebelled against God, or questioned him. Nature might writhe in pain, and forget for a time the words of praise, but it submitted; and, according to the tumult and darkness that had prevailed, so were the light and peace that followed. It was thorough work, as all the work in this soul had been from the first, and his convalescence was like a new birth.

On the morning after Edith’s parting with Carl Yorke, Dick remained in his room unvisited, keeping all his strength for that first drive. At length the carriage came to the door, and Mr. Williams, who had insisted on remaining at home to superintend what he called the “launching” of his step-son, came down-stairs with Dick. Mrs. Williams, all smiles, followed after, rustling in silks donned in honor of this great occasion. Edith and Ellen Williams stood in the entry, awaiting the little procession. Miss Ellen, blushing and bedizened, was to accompany the two on their drive. Edith had preferred to stay at home and prepare for her evening exodus to Hester’s.

“Why, Dick, you look like an Esquimaux!” she exclaimed. “I cannot even see your nose. How are you to get any fresh air?”

He laughed. “I told mother that I could not breathe anything but fur; but she is a tyrant.”

“It isn’t often I get the chance to play the tyrant over you,” Mrs. Williams remarked, and began giving orders to have sundry hot soap-stones, and gay afghans put into the carriage.

“Mother,” her son exclaimed, “I am ashamed of having such a fuss made over me! I will run away. I will leave the country. I will go back to bed.”

He really blushed, and seemed annoyed.

They went out, and there was the parade of getting settled in their places, Mrs. Williams pleasantly conscious, and her son distressfully so,[151] that several of the neighbors were looking on with interest. The inquiries for Dick had, indeed, been constant from all the neighborhood, even from persons with whom they had no acquaintance. Not a woman, young or old, but had looked kindly on the young sailor, and known when he sailed away, and when he came back; not a child but smiled and nodded to him through the window when he passed. Of course they had all surmised that the lovely young girl whom they had seen there before, and who had now been taking care of him, was one day to be his wife. She divided their attention with him as she stood on the step, and watched him drive away.

It was the hour of the steamer’s departure; and when Edith was alone, she shut herself into her chamber, and, kneeling there, prayed fervently that God would keep the traveller wherever he might wander, and that, though far from her, he might be ever near to heaven.

She did not leave her room when she heard the others come home; and after a while Mrs. Williams came to say that Dick would like to see her.

“We had a delightful drive, and he is not a bit the worse for it,” the mother said. “He will be well enough to go to Mrs. Cleaveland’s to see you, now; but I think he wants to have a good talk with you before you go away. He told me not to let any one interrupt.”

Edith knew well what the summons meant, and with one upward aspiration, “O Spirit of light and truth!” she went immediately.

Dick was sitting in his arm-chair by the window when she entered, and he looked around with a bright smile and greeting, “Well, little sister!” and motioned her to a chair near him.

On hearing that title, she stopped, and clasped her hands on her bosom.

“It was a brother who sent for you,” he said. “Come!”

She seated herself, speechless, almost breathless.

“Edith, where is Carl Yorke?” he asked gently.

She gave the answer with a quiet that looked like coldness. “He left in the steamer to-day for England. From there he continues his travels to the East, I do not know where else. No person is to know this but you and me, as his mother cannot be told.”

The color and the smile left Dick Rowan’s face. Surprise and pain for a moment deprived him of the power of speech.

“I am astonished and distressed!” he said, at length. “I wished to see him, to talk with him. But that he is not a Catholic, I should have wished to see you married soon.”

A deep blush of wounded delicacy rushed to Edith’s cheeks. “Dick Rowan,” she said, “you have yet much to learn about women, or, at least, about me. Whatever feelings of sympathy and affection I may have had for Carl Yorke, my conduct and conversation with him have been irreproachable, and so have my thoughts even. The thought of marriage has not crossed my mind. I do not wish to hear you speak of it.”

Her dignified answer disconcerted him for a moment. He had made the mistake nearly always made by men, often made by women, of misinterpreting the nature, or, at least, the degree of development, of an affection as yet angelically pure, if ardent.

“You were quite right in supposing that I would marry no one but a Catholic,” she remarked.

“I have done you a great wrong, Edith,” he said hastily,[152] “and I wish to repair it as far as I can. But, first, will you tell me why you promised to marry me?”

“Because you told me that your life hung in the balance, and that I was your only hope and aim,” she answered. Her voice trembled slightly, and her eyes softened as she remembered how nearly he had spoken the truth. “You had been my first and most faithful friend. I considered my obligations stronger to you than any one else. I could not tolerate the thought of your suffering through me, when I was the only person you cared for.”

While she spoke, his eyes were downcast, and a deep color burned in his face. “Did my dependence on you attract your affection?” he asked, still looking down.

“It attracted my pity and anxiety,” she replied, without hesitation. “I should respect more a man who would be able to live without me. I do not believe that these violent feelings are either healthy or lasting; and I would not choose to act the Eastern myth of the tortoise supporting a world.”

“Oh! how mean I was!” he exclaimed. “How contemptibly selfish! Let me tell you all. I had a strong affection for you, that is true; but I can see now that there were unworthy motives mingled with it. There were pride, ambition, and self-will. I was determined to take you away from Carl Yorke. I knew that he thought of you, and I believed that he would win you, unless I prevented it. Your antecedents of birth, your tastes and social position, your kind of education, all were the same, and made you suited to each other. I said to myself that my being a Catholic gave me the precedence; but in my heart I knew that there was no reason why he, as well as I, should not receive the gift of faith. I knew, indeed, that his friendship for Alice Mills had predisposed him toward it, and that he read Catholic books. But I was determined to have you. I did not dare to ask if you would be quite content. I would not contemplate any other possibility. When I asked you if you were willing, it was only after you had promised. I confess this with shame and contrition!”

“Dick,” Edith asked breathlessly, “have you quite got over caring very much about me? Are you not disappointed?”

He raised his face, and all the shame and distress passed away from it. “The only disappointment I am now capable of feeling,” he said, with the emphasis of truth, “would be in case any earthly object should come between me and God. In the last few weeks I have learned to shrink with fear and aversion from all earthly affection. There is nothing but harm in those attachments which are so strong that the loss of their object brings destruction. They are mistaken in their aim. Why, Edith, what I worshipped in you was not simply what you are, a good and amiable girl, but a goddess. You were magnified in my eyes, I put you in a niche. That niche is now empty. Or, no!” he added, raising his brightening eyes, “it is not empty, but the right one stands there. You could never have satisfied the enthusiasm of my expectation. The great and wonderful good which I vaguely looked for with you, I should never have won. I mistook my object.”

He looked out thoughtfully, and she sat looking at him. At length he said, with a faint smile,[153] “I wrote you last year of a visit I paid to the island and cave of Capri. That scene is like my past life. That cave was an enchanted place, so fair, so blue, so unreal! All ordinary critical sense deserted me as I gazed. I could easily have believed that the walls and ceiling were of jewels, and the watery floor some magical blue wine. As I sat in the boat and looked back, I saw a white star in the distance. Everything but that, and a long white ray from it, was blue. I rowed toward that star, I looked at it as my goal, just as I made you my goal. But when I came near, I found that it was no star. It was only the low entrance to the cave. Or, rather, it was for me the passage to sunshine and the heavens. And that you have been to me, Edith,” he said, turning toward her. “Thank God that your influence with me has always been for good, and that, in leaving you, I progress rather than change! You inspired me, and kept me from what was low, when I had no religion to help me. I can see it all now. The very excess and enthusiasm of my affection for you was necessary in order to govern me and keep me from harm. Besides, it is my nature to do with my might what my hands find to do. I was not then capable of resolving to do right for the sake of right; but when I was strong enough, then you drew aside, and left me face to face with God!”

His breath came quickly, and his wide-opened eyes were fixed on the western sky, and caught its golden light.

“Of course there was a struggle,” he resumed, “for I was sincere. But that is over. My unreasonable affection for you is as thoroughly eradicated as if it had never been a part of my life. I am ashamed of having so given myself up to it.”

Edith hesitated, then put the test. “Dick, I must be satisfied that I am really free. If you were sure now that no other, deeper sympathy stood between me and you, and that I were ready and willing to fulfil my engagement with you, would you still say that God alone held your heart?”

His expression was one of terror and shrinking. “It is not so, Edith!” he exclaimed. “God forbid that it should be so! I could no more go back to those hopes and wishes of the past than I could be a little boy again!”

After the momentary fear and suspense that had accompanied her question, Edith’s first feeling was one of joyful relief and freedom, her second an indignant sense of the wrong that had been done her. She rose from her chair, walked to the other window, and stood there looking out with eyes that saw no object before her. Her mind glanced swiftly back over the last year and a half. She remembered the bright peacefulness of her life, yet half-enshrouded in the mists of childhood, the vision of her womanhood shining large and vague just above the line of her eyelids; for she cared not yet to look at or question that future. She recollected the hopes and aims that had begun to form themselves, of doing good, of making herself such a Catholic as would be a credit to the faith, of helping and instructing her poor, of trying to bring her uncle’s family into the church; and she remembered a faint rose-tinge of personal happiness, soft and rare, and too delicate to be seen, but felt by some finer intuition. Then came the sudden call that had put her life in confusion, the future wrenched rudely open, the many clustering interests trampled by one that demanded to be made paramount. And there was no more cause than this!

Indignation swelled to the point of speech. She turned about, and faced Dick Rowan, and her eyes flashed.


“You may well be ashamed,” she said, “for you have been unmanly! I do not speak of what I have suffered in my own mind; but you have exposed my reputation, which, next to my character, I hold sacred. You have deprived me of your mother’s friendship; for she will never cease to blame me. You have had me proclaimed as your promised wife, every one supposing that the promise was freely given. Yet, when I went down-stairs that day, I was like a victim going to be immolated. Nothing but prayer had strengthened my resolution. I thought that a refusal would be your destruction. You had said as much. You have exposed me to the condemnation of shallow judges, who will be only too glad to find fault. Those people who pronounce without knowing, and think that they can include the motives of another’s whole life in three words, will all condemn me. I, who have tried with constant watchfulness to walk to a hair’s-breadth in the path of womanly propriety, shall be pointed at as the girl who jilted you and broke your heart. And all this, not from the blindness of real affection, which would have excused you in my eyes, but from will, and pride, and a mere fascination. Don’t tell me of eradicating a real affection. It may be conquered, and made subject to duty; but sympathy is not to be eradicated. That feeling which has died in your heart was, indeed, a false blossom.”

She turned and stretched her hands out toward the East, where, far away, the steamer that bore Carl Yorke ploughed the twilight wave. “O Carl! you would not have done it,” she cried, and burst into tears; the usual womanly peroration to such a discourse.

“O God, accept my humiliation!”

She heard that tremulous prayer through her sobs, and, starting, looked at Dick. His face was bowed forward in his hands, as though he could never again raise it. She recollected herself. It was God who had cured and enlightened him. He was not a man who had turned from one fickle fancy to another. He was in the hands of God.

She wiped her eyes, and, after a little while, went and knelt beside his chair. “Forgive me, Dick, for reproaching you so,” she said. “It is over now. We all make mistakes, and those only do well who acknowledge them, and forgive others. My childhood’s dear friend, let us forget all that is painful in the past. God will direct. There is much in life besides marrying and giving in marriage, and I do not wish to think of that again, not for a long, long time, if at all. Set the seal on the events of the last two years. They never happened. I am happy now. You know that, though I was born at the North, I have a Southern temper. See! the little cyclone is past, and I am clear from every cloud. We are two sober friends, who wish each other no end of good. Tell me what you mean to do.”

He raised his head, and the one absorbing interest of his new life came back and obliterated the passing trouble.[155] “I do not know, Edith, and I lay no plans. I have no reason to trust my own will or wish. I give myself up entirely to direction, and am certain on but one point: God will not let me go, and I will not let him go. When I lay bruised and helpless before him, he took me in his arms and healed me, and I will never know another love. He has kindled a fire in my heart which my life shall guard. I rejected him once, but will never again. That night I spent in the church, before my baptism, a voice from the altar asked me, I thought, to give up all for God; and it would have been easy then for me to promise. As I meditated on heaven, the Mother of Christ drew to herself all that is lovely in woman; all that was strong, and true, and protecting in a guide clustered around the church; all that was adorable, that passed beyond speech, was there before me in the tabernacle. I thought then that to be a brother in any religious order, or a servant in the church, to sleep under the same roof that sheltered the head of Christ, to light the candles, to care for his altar, to serve Mass, all that would be the highest honor and happiness. I think so now, but I ask nothing. I thought then with self-contempt how I had toiled to earn money, when the ‘inexhaustible riches of God’ had lain untouched at my hand; how I had travelled to see the wonders of the earth, when the wonders of God had appealed to me in vain. But when daylight came, I treated the whole as a dream, a mere exaltation of the fancy, and impracticable. I know now that what I took for a dream is the only reality, and what I thought reality is but a dream. I resisted the inspiration, and have been lacerated on the briers of my own obstinacy.”

He paused, looking out toward the west, and in the fine golden light that was left from sunset, with the new moon and the evening star half-drowned there, his face looked beautiful. Calmness, humility, solemnity, and sweetness mingled in its expression.

Edith whispered a low “Well, Dick?” to make him speak again; for he had, apparently, forgotten her.

“Father John has promised me that I may make a retreat as soon as he thinks me well enough,” he said, rousing himself at the sound of her voice. “I do not look beyond that. I do not know anything. I wait.” And again there was silence.

After a while, Edith said timidly, for he seemed buried in a reverie, “Do you remember last year, Dick, when we went about the city, like two strange sight-seers? You said then that the poor and the suffering looked at you in an asking way different from the look they gave others. Don’t you think it might have been the Lord who asked through their eyes?”

“I have not a doubt of it,” he answered.

“Nothing else is of worth!” he said after a minute, as if speaking to himself—“nothing else is of worth!” And again, “O miserable waste!”

Presently she spoke again, very softly: “Sometimes, when one has meditated a long while, everything seems unspeakably good and beautiful, as if all were in God. A warmth and sweetness flow around the soul. If your enemy should come to injure you, you would embrace him. If your friend were taken away from you, you would smile, and let him go. For, turning to the Lord, you find all there. Nothing is lost. When you go away, you feel still, and speak lowly. You want to do something for some one; and, wherever you look, you see the Lord, and whatever you do is done for him. He accepts it all, and nothing is small, and nothing is great. If you see any one suffer, you pity, and try to help, and, perhaps, you weep; but the agony of pain you feel at other times at the sight of suffering, you do not feel now. You get a glimpse of the reason why angels can witness so much pain, yet still be happy.”

Dick, looking out at the sky, smiled. “Yes!” he said, “yes!”

A carriage drove up to the door, Hester’s carriage, come for Edith.[156] Twilight had fallen softly round them, and their faces were dim to each other in that curtained chamber.

“My dear friend,” Edith said earnestly, “is there peace between us?”

“All is peace, Edith,” he answered.

“Then, before I go,” she said, “I want you to put your hand on my head, and say, ‘God bless you!’”

He did as she bade him, laid his hand on her head, and said, “God bless you for ever! Good-night!”

Both of them knew that good-night meant good-by, yet they parted with a smile.


The family had come to Boston, and were settled in their old home. The change had not been effected without emotion, and, to the surprise of all, the one most moved was Mr. Yorke. Whether, with that noble self-control in which men so much excel women, he had carefully concealed the real misery of his life in Seaton, or whether the return to their former home reminded him that it had been lost by his act, we will not attempt to say, for he did not. He was silent and very pale, and, as he entered the house, stood on the threshold a moment, with an expression in his face which touched the hearts of all. One might read in his look the consciousness that a great change had passed over him since last he stood there, and that the return did not bring him the happiness he had anticipated.

Perhaps nothing in life is more sad than to have a boon long sought for at length accorded to us, and to find that we have lost the power to take delight in its possession.

The furniture and baggage had been sent in advance, and Hester and Edith had superintended the arrangement of everything, so that all was ready for them. Their last week in Seaton had been spent with Major Cleaveland, at his house there. He had kept it open for that purpose, and remained to assist and accompany them, while his wife and children had preceded him to the city.

Hester went to meet her family at the depot, and Edith stood in the door when they drove up, and ran joyfully out to embrace them. The house was bright, and dinner was ready. To Mrs. Yorke, there was but one blot on the occasion, and that was her son’s absence. But he had written her with such affection and cheerfulness that she did not grieve too much. Besides, she expected him soon to return.

Dinner over, Hester and her husband went to their own home, and the family sat once more together in their old, familiar sitting-room. The situation was one to provoke emotion or thoughtfulness. Clara set herself to cheer the company, and put sentiment into the background.

“The first trouble in changing one’s residence,” she said,[157] “is to make people remember one’s address. Fortunately, our number, 96, is peculiar. It is the only created thing I know, except the planets, which is not changed nor disconcerted by being turned upside down. Turn it as you will, stand on your head and look at it, tear the house down, still the number 96 smiles on you unchanged, and as changeless as a star. It is a very proper number to have on a house.”

They all sat and looked at her, smiling slightly, glad to be amused.

“The next thing is,” she pursued, “to prevent our friends going to extremes in making their new estimate of us. They must be made to comprehend that, though we have positively renounced the German, we are not Puritans nor ascetics; and that, though we have written, do write, and mean to write in future, and to put ourselves in print whenever we feel so disposed, we do not set up as geniuses. Papa,” she said, suddenly interrupting herself, “why is not the plural of genius genii? I always want to say genii.”

“They mean about the same thing,” Mr. Yorke remarked; and there was silence again for a while.

The night was calm, the street quiet, but there was that unmistakable feeling that a great press of human life is near. It was not the presence which one feels in the woods, where nature is obedient to its Maker, and the soul is lifted by the constantly ascending homage that surrounds it, but a lateral influence, electrical and exciting, of contending human wills.

Clara was again the one to break silence. “Trees, and toads, and mosses, and no market, are all very charming for a change,” she said. “But if one does not live in the city, the city should be near. A man or a woman without society is no better than a vegetable. You remember, papa, how Bolingbroke took root among his trees. And what delights one has in the city! There is music. O the violins!—the soprano witch among instruments! If Pan invented the pipe, the original of the organ, then Æolus invented this instrument of airy octaves. Those old painters were right who put violins into the hands of their musical angels. Give a violin time enough, and the music of it will gradually eat up the whole body, or etherealize it, till some day the musician, touching carefully his precious film of a Cremona, will find it melt in his hands, and disappear in a harmonious sigh. Ladies and gentlemen, I should like to hear this moment a whirlwind of violins, ten thousand, say, blowing through a vast hall with clustered pillars, and dusky nooks and reaches, and arches everywhere, and a sultry, fragrant dimness through it all, and an immense crowd holding their breaths to listen, and, away up in the roof, little birds perched, as they are in Notre Dame, at Paris, and trembling with fear and wonder through all their downy feathers. And when it was over, people would look at each other, and some would smile, and some laugh out with delight; and the birds would venture two or three little silvery peeps, then flutter about as though nothing had happened. Yes, the city is the place to live in.”

“And then,” said Edith, “one can always go to church.”

Clara immediately gave her cousin an enthusiastic embrace. “Oh! you darling little bigoted Papist!” she exclaimed.

Melicent, sitting in the chimney-corner, was engrossed in her own thoughts. She was, perhaps, meditating on that romance of which Clara had written to Edith. A villainously ugly, but tenderly-beloved Scotch terrier lay on the hearth-rug, his eyes fixed on the fire, and seemed to muse. Mrs. Yorke bent toward him, touched him lightly, and quoted Champfleuri, apropos of cats: “‘A quoi pense l’animal qui pense?’” and added a definition she had heard somewhere: “‘The brute creation is a syllogism, of which the conclusion is in the mind of God.’”

This brought them to the point to[158] which their thoughts naturally tended that evening. God, and the meanings of God, claimed their attention.

“We are all tired,” Melicent said. “Shall we have prayers now, papa?”

The Bible was brought, Betsey sent for, and they waited in silence for Mr. Yorke to begin the reading. He sat with his hand on the open page, and looked into the fire a moment, then looked at his wife.

“Amy, I would like, for to-night, to have all my family worship together,” he said. “After to-night, we can go our different ways. Let Patrick and Mary and Anne be called in, and, since they cannot unite with us, let us unite with them. Are you willing?”

Mrs. Yorke blushed with surprise, but made no objection. Melicent drew herself up, but no one observed her. Mr. Yorke turned smilingly to his niece. “Well, Edith, if you Catholics will listen to a chapter from me, I will listen to your prayers, and join in them as far as I can.”

She did not say anything as she rose to call the servants, but, in passing her uncle, she laid a loving hand on his shoulder, and looked her gratitude and delight.

Patrick and the girls had too much confidence in Edith to hesitate, though they wondered much at her summons. Seated in the midst of the circle, they listened while Mr. Yorke read a psalm, then they knelt down. There was a moment’s pause. The Yorkes were accustomed to sit while their prayers were read. Then Mr. Yorke knelt, and wife and daughters followed his example, Melicent involuntarily, and making a motion to get up again as soon as she was down, but concluding to stay. Episcopalians kneel, she reflected, and she could mentally kneel with them. Edith led the prayers, and her tremulous voice conciliated the good-will of the listeners.

It was the first time any of this family had ever assisted at a private Catholic devotion, and they were astonished to perceive how every circumstance and need of man was met by this perfect spiritual science. The devotion was not something apart from life, but an aspiration and petition from every thought and act of life. The invocation to the Holy Spirit, the recommendation to place themselves in the presence of God, the pause for the examination of conscience, the act of contrition following it, the preparation for death—a Catholic knows them all, but to a Protestant their effect is startling.

Never again would their own devotions seem to this family other than dry and unsatisfying; never would one of them again be in trouble or danger, but the impulse would be to utter the voice of Catholic prayer.

In taking up their old life again, the Yorkes were surprised to find that they had grown more earnest and simple during the years they had spent in retirement. Mrs. Yorke had lost much of her love for fashion and luxury, the daughters were astonished at the frivolity of some of their former pleasures, and Mr. Yorke cared less for heathen literature, and felt more interest in the poor and ignorant.

Edith was happy in her religion; but, though she went to Mass every day when she could, had a mind too enlightened and well balanced to find her religion only in going to church. She was not in the least a gushing young lady: hers was a deep and silent enthusiasm which moved to action rather than speech. The persecution of Catholics was going on in Massachusetts also, and Governor Gardner and his motley[159] legislature were making juries the judges of the law as well as of the facts, and disbanding Irish regiments (which were allowed to reorganize for 1862), and making a law which would enable them to send a troop of men to search the dormitories and closets and cellars of convent schools. But all this troubled Edith very little. She could laugh at the Transcript’s parody:

“Half a league, half a league out of the city,
All to the boarding-school rode the committee:”

and could see how the enemies of the church were covering themselves with ridicule and disgrace, and securing their own ultimate defeat.

“They’re hanging themselves! They’re hanging themselves!” Mr. Yorke would say with glee, at each new extravagance.

When the Yorkes first returned to the city, Melicent’s affairs chiefly occupied their minds. There was no engagement, and there had been no private intercourse between her and Mr. Griffeth; but she had not broken with him entirely, and had requested permission to receive friendly letters from him. After Mr. Griffeth had been bound over to commit no act and write no word aggressively sentimental, this permission was unwillingly given. One of these friendly missives had come the week after her arrival; and, though the writer had kept the letter of his promise, he had so broken the spirit of it that Mrs. Yorke, to whom the letter was dutifully shown, frowned on reading it, and had a mind to answer it herself. Melicent, indeed, seemed desirous to alarm her family as much as possible regarding this affair, and carried herself with such a conscious, heroine-of-a-novel air as both amused and annoyed her family.

Among their earliest visitors was the Rev. Doctor Stewart, Mrs. Yorke’s former pastor and good friend. The mother confided to him her distress, and besought him to speak to Melicent on the subject.

“She always had a high respect for you and Mrs. Stewart, and would be influenced by what you say,” she concluded.

The minister made inquiries concerning this suitor’s orthodoxy as a Universalist.

“He is orthodox in nothing, doctor!” Mrs. Yorke exclaimed. “He wears his creed as he wears his clothes, changing, when convenient, the one with as little scruple as the other. He is a moral Sybarite, who adjusts his conscience comfortably to his wishes, and looks about with an air of calm rectitude, and an assumption of pitying superiority over people who are so bigoted as to believe the same yesterday and to-day.”

“I know the kind of man,” the minister said, with an expression of severity and mortification. “They are one of the pests of the time, and a disgrace to the ministry. I will do all I can to separate Melicent from him.”

Doctor Stewart was a stately gentleman, something over fifty years of age, gray-haired, rather heavy, and slightly old-fashioned. He was amiable in disposition, believed that great respect should be paid to the clergy, wore a white neck-cloth, and was fairly educated in everything but theology. Since the Yorkes left Boston, he had lost his wife, an excellent lady several years older than himself. He was left with three children, a son of nineteen, who was a student in Harvard College; another son, ten years older, who was making his fortune in the West; and a daughter, the eldest of the family, married to a foreign missionary, and industriously distributing Bibles to[160] the Chinese. Once a month, in the missionary-meeting, the reverend doctor read a letter from this daughter, in which she described the great work she was doing, and asked for more Bibles and money.

This was the gentleman to whose management Mrs. Yorke entrusted her eldest daughter’s love-affair.

Nothing of their first interview transpired, except that the minister seemed to be hopeful. Melicent became more inscrutable and consequential than ever.

About this time, Miss Clara Yorke began to grow exceedingly merry in her disposition. She would smile in season and out of season, and burst into laughter without apparent cause. At the mention of Doctor Stewart’s name, her eyes always began to dance, and at the sight of him approaching their house her gravity deserted her immediately. Mrs. Yorke was both astonished and puzzled by her daughter’s levity.

“I esteem Doctor Stewart very highly,” the lady said. “He is a dignified and agreeable person. I am glad he feels like running in here often. He must be lonely at home, for Charles is away during the day, and studies all the evening. Poor man! The loss of his wife was a terrible blow to him, but he bears it beautifully.”

The laughter with which Miss Clara was tremblingly full had to be restrained; for at that moment the door opened to give admittance to a smiling elderly gentleman in a white neckcloth. But, glancing at Melicent’s demure countenance a minute after, the young woman’s mirth became audible.

“Clara, you should, at least, give us the opportunity of sharing your amusement,” her mother said, rather chidingly.

Clara stammered out that there was a very witty article in the last Atlantic.

“By the way,” the minister said to her pleasantly, “I must compliment you on a very touching story of yours I have read lately. It is ‘Silent Rooms.’ I confess to you, Miss Clara, that I wept over it.”

How exquisite must be the sensibility of that person who weeps over one’s pathetic stories! Clara looked at the reverend doctor with a new interest. He certainly had a most beautiful nose, she observed, and his expression was benign. Moreover, he was a gentleman of good mind.

“I am delighted by what you tell me, doctor,” she said. “For, while such emotion is the highest compliment I could receive, it does not hurt you. Indeed, I thought that sketch would be affecting. I shed tears myself when I was writing it, and I think that a pretty good cry-tear-ion to judge by. Beg pardon, papa! I didn’t mean to. It punned itself.”

The minister then asked her to write a play and a hymn for the Christmas festival of his Sunday-school.

“I should be delighted to, doctor,” she said, but clouded over a little. “I am not much in the way of that sort of composition, but I will try.”

“Then you will succeed.” A bow and a smile accompanied the assertion.

“Do not be too sure of that,” Clara exclaimed with vivacity. “I can write easily enough what is in my own mind, but not what is in other minds; and I haven’t an idea on this subject. I am not a facile writer when I have nothing to say. When I have no thoughts, I find it hard to express them.”

“Oh! dash off some little thing,” said the doctor, with a sweep of the[161] hand, as though he were sowing plays and poems broadcast.

“Dash off some little thing!” repeated the young lady scornfully, when their visitor had left them. “‘Dash off!’ That is all he knows. I don’t believe he cried over my story!”

“My daughter!” expostulated Mrs. Yorke; but her husband laughed. Melicent cast an indignant glance on her sister, and went out of the room. At that, Clara’s hilarity returned.

Carl wrote to his mother often, giving her an account of his movements. He stayed nowhere long, and every letter concluded with an announcement of his intention to make a flying visit to some other place. The descriptions he gave and the adventures he related were not those of an ordinary sight-seer. “I should think that the boy were gathering material for a history of the nineteenth century,” his mother said, and was evidently very proud of him.

But after a while she recollected he had not said that any one of these flying visits would be his last, and had never answered plainly her questions as to the time of his return. One day she suspected the truth. She had just received a letter from Carl, dated at Nice, in which he hinted at a projected trip to Asia Minor. After reading the letter through, she dropped it into her lap, and sat looking out through the window and off into distance.

No one else but Edith was in the room, and she had been attentively watching her aunt’s face. Seeing that strange look settle on it, she crossed the room, and seated herself close to Mrs. Yorke’s side.

“Edith,” her aunt said, her eyes still gazing far away, “I think Carl means to be gone a long while.”

Edith called up her powers of self-control; for the time of explanation had come.

“He has already been away a long while,” she said. “It is six months since he went. That is six months taken from the whole.”

Mrs. Yorke’s eyes turned on her niece with a quick searching. “You know all about it!” she exclaimed, and began to breathe quickly.

“Yes, I know all about it,” was the calm reply; “and I was to tell you as soon as it should seem best. Carl is making a long journey, but six months of it are over.”

Mrs. Yorke flung Edith’s hand away. “You knew it, and his own mother did not!” she exclaimed. “You need not tell me. If Carl deceived his mother, I wish to hear no more about it.”

She pressed her hands to her heart, which beat with thick, suffocating throbs.

Nothing but firmness would do. It was necessary to recall her to a sense of the injustice she was doing, and shame her into controlling herself, if no better could be done.

“Aunt Amy,” Edith said,[162] “it seems to me that you should question yourself, rather than reproach others. Never was a woman more tenderly loved and cared for by her family than you are. Your husband, your children, your niece, your servants even, are constantly on the watch lest something should startle or agitate you. A door must not be slammed, the horses must not be driven too fast, ill news must be gently broken, you must not be fatigued nor worried. If we shed tears, we conceal them from you; if one of us is ill, we make light of it to you. We wish to do this, and do it with all our hearts, for your life is most precious to us. But I think that our devotion entails one duty on you, and that is to look on everything as calmly and reasonably as you can, and not agitate yourself without cause.”

Mrs. Yorke looked at her niece in astonishment. This tone of firm reproof was new to her, and, from its strangeness, effective.

“Carl did not deceive you,” Edith went on. “He has told you nothing but the truth.”

“A half-truth is a lie!” Mrs. Yorke interrupted. “I see plainly in this the influence of that pernicious Mr. Griffeth. I well remember one of his sayings: ‘As the doctors give poisons to a sick body,’ he said, ‘so we must sometimes give lies to a sick mind.’ I have a sick mind, it seems.”

“It is for you to prove whether you have or not,” Edith replied quietly.

The reproof was severe, and Mrs. Yorke’s heightened color told that she felt it. She leaned back in her chair, and was silent.

“Carl told me,” Edith said, “because I am healthy, and cannot be endangered by sorrow; and he knew, too, that I would not require any man to sacrifice his duty and prospect of a high career merely that I might have the pleasure of being always with him. When a man is twenty-nine years old, if he is not going to throw himself away, and be a miserable failure, it is time for him to go out into the world, and live his own life. Carl would gladly have told you all his plans, and it was cruel that he should be obliged to go away without your blessing, and to carry with him, as he must, this constant anxiety about you. He was doubtful and unhappy, but did what he thought was best. He told no one but me. Now, be fair, Aunt Amy, and ask yourself what you would have done if Carl had come to you and said that he was going away on a two-years’ journey?”

Mrs. Yorke put her hands over her face, and sat breathing heavily, and without uttering a word. Edith trembled. Would she see the pale hands fall nerveless, and her aunt drop dead in her arms? She sent up a silent prayer to her ever dear Mother of Perpetual Succor, then gently loosened a golden locket from Mrs. Yorke’s belt, and opened it.

“Dear Carl!” she said tenderly, kissing the miniature, “how could your mother misunderstand you so, when your true and loving face was so close to her heart? Is it only Edith who never mistakes you?”

The frail hands slipped down to hers, as she leaned on her aunt’s lap, and she looked up to meet a faint and tearful smile.

“You are all so tender, my dear, that I am afraid it makes me selfish,” Mrs. Yorke said. “Now tell me the whole story. See! I am reasonable.”

“You are an angel to let me talk so, and not be angry!” Edith answered joyfully. “Wait till I get you a granule of digitaline; then I will tell you all about Carl. You will be proud of your son, my lady.”

A few days after, Doctor Stewart proposed for Melicent, greatly to her mother’s astonishment. “Why, doctor, I am proud to consent, if Melicent does,” she said. “But I never dreamed of such a thing!”

“Melicent assures me that, with her parents’ consent, she is willing to entrust her happiness in my hands,” the minister said.[163] “She does not find my age any obstacle. You must be aware, indeed, that your eldest daughter’s disposition is grave and dignified. My impression is, that the only attraction Mr. Griffeth had for her was through his clerical office. She has confided to me that she wrote him a decided dismissal the very day after my first conversation with her.”

Of course, if Melicent was satisfied, no one else could object; and Melicent radiated satisfaction.

“I am sure you have chosen wisely, my daughter,” her mother said.

“I never really thought I should marry Mr. Griffeth, mamma,” the daughter answered, blushing. “And I never said any more to him than that I would consider his offer.”

That very evening the engagement was tacitly announced to the public, by Mrs. Yorke and Melicent appearing at a lecture at Music Hall, escorted by Doctor Stewart. Mr. Yorke, Clara, and Edith went early, and took seats in the side balcony, overlooking the platform, where the rest of their party had places reserved.

“It will just suit Mel,” Clara said gleefully. “I saw it from the first minute, and have been laughing over it all winter, while you stupid folks never had a suspicion. Mel was cut out for just such a fate. She likes to be lofty and sphynx-like, and to sit on platforms with everybody staring at her, and to come sweeping in at the last minute, and take the highest place. The doctor, too, is just to her mind. He is tall, and large, and slow. His voice is sonorous, he has a nice nose and finger-nails, and his neckcloth compels respect. Oh! there is no fear but Mel will be happy. The only danger is on our side. For I tell you, papa, those two will walk over us in their smooth, grand way, if we are not careful. I must study how to take them down a peg.”

There was a smile in the corners of Mr. Yorke’s mouth, but he spoke reprovingly. “It doesn’t sound well for you to talk in that way of your sister, Clara,” he said.

Clara gave a little impatient sigh. “I sometimes wish that I could not see so plainly the difference between solid people and inflated people,” she said. “It is a misfortune; but I cannot help it.”

Mr. Yorke said nothing. He had already learned that there was one point on which he would have to resist encroachment. More than once he had seen Doctor Stewart turn a severe glance on the shelf where stood the numbers of Brownson’s Review left by Carl; and only that day Melicent had proposed that the books should be carried up-stairs.

“Up-stairs!” Mr. Yorke had repeated. “What for?”

“Why, on account of the doctor,” Melicent had answered, disconcerted by the sharpness of her father’s astonishment. “He does not like them, and their being here might lead to unpleasant controversy.”

The reply had been decisive:

“If Doctor Stewart does not like what he finds in my house, he is at liberty to remain out of it. And if he should forget himself so far as to begin any unpleasant controversy, I shall recommend him to increase his stock of theological knowledge by a careful study of the same Review.”

Mr. Yorke said nothing of this conversation, and Melicent had not mentioned it; but it was a warning to both.

“Papa,” Clara said, after looking down on the audience awhile,[164] “did you ever observe how bald heads light up an assembly like this? They reflect the gas, and have a very cheerful effect. Oh! there is Mel. Attention! See, the conquering hero comes. My poor little mother is nearly invisible. Such a small duenna! How frightfully conspicuous! See the doctor smile, and show them to the very front chairs, and see the filial manner in which he behaves to Mrs. Yorke. Suppose he should take to coloring his hair! There! they are seated at last, after that display, and I must own that Mel’s stage-manners are very good. If only they would not look so conscious! Edith, why is Doctor Stewart like a verd-antique? It’s a conundrum.”

That night, after Melicent had gone to her room, the others sat talking over the wedding. Doctor Stewart had desired that it might be soon. Edith proposed to give the trousseau.

“We cannot allow you, my dear,” her aunt said. “Your uncle and I have something, and Melicent must take what we can give her. You are too bountiful already!”

Edith drew writing materials toward her, and began to make out a bill.

Miss Edith Yorke,
   To Charles Yorke and family, Dr.
To seven years’ board and tuition,$7,000
 “    “    “    clothing,1,400
 “  Instruction in her religion,20,000,000
 “  Kindness to Father Rasle,10,000,000
 “  Never being anything but kind to her,10,000,000
 “  Sundries,10,000,000
 “  Joining her once in Catholic prayer,100,000,000,000,000,000

“I think that is correct,” she said, showing the bill to her uncle. “I am mathematical in my tastes, you know. I do not like the dollars, though, the association is so vulgar. We will put it in some classical gold coin. It shall be rose-nobles.”

Looking in Mr. Yorke’s face as he smiled on her, she exclaimed, “Uncle, you have a look of my father, now!”

“And you have a look of my brother,” he returned. “Your eyes are changeful, like his, and your hair has a sunny hue. When you coax, too, your ways are like his. Robert was very winning.”

She put her arm in his, and looked reproachfully across the table to her aunt. “And yet,” she said, “you are not willing that I should give Melicent a few pocket-handkerchiefs to be married with!”

Mrs. Yorke laughed. “You shall give her as many handkerchiefs as you please,” she said.

But what, meantime, of Dick Rowan?

Mrs. Yorke had called at once to see him on her arrival, but he had already gone to make a retreat, and they did not see him afterward.

The first part of that retreat was to him heavenly; but, when it came to making definite plans for the future, then he found himself in cruel doubt.

“Oh! if I could have had a Catholic training in early life!” he said to Father John. “It seems to me now that heaven has been within my reach, and has slipped away, without my knowing it. I do not wish to be presuming. I do not try to think of it; the thought haunts me.”

“Tell me freely all that is in your mind,” the priest said. “I am here to help you.”

Dick Rowan’s head drooped, and he spoke rapidly, as if afraid to speak: “It seems to me, father, that if I had been brought up a strict Catholic—any sort of Catholic—I should have been—” He lifted his face, looked at Father John with eyes that could not bear suspense, and added, “I should have been a priest!”

Then, since he found neither astonishment nor displeasure in that face, his distress broke forth. “And now, O God! it is too late!” he said, and wrung his hands.

“You think that you had a vocation, my son?” the priest asked calmly.

“I believe it!” he answered.[165] “What has my whole life been but a searching and striving after some great and glorious happiness, something different from the common happiness of earth, some one delight which was to be mine here, and still more mine in the world to come? It was always my way to have but one wish, and to expect from its fulfilment what nothing on earth can give. I believe, sir, that when a man has that way of concentrating all his hopes and desires on one object, that object should be God. Otherwise, there is nothing but ruin for him. Such an end was once possible to me, and now it is lost!”

Father John laid his hand on the young man’s. “My son,” he said, “it is not lost!”

Dick uttered not a word, but gazed steadily into the priest’s face.

“I believe that you have a divine vocation.”

“You believe that I had!” Dick cried out sharply.

“I believe that you have!” the priest replied.

Dick drew a deep breath, and his pale face blushed all over with a sudden delight; but said nothing.

“When a man first thinks of choosing God,” the priest said, “he may mistake. But when God chooses a man, and tears away from him every other tie, and sets him in a place where he can see nothing surrounding him but a great solitude filled with God, then there is no mistake. I believe that God chooses you.”

“God chooses me!” repeated Dick Rowan, blenching a little, like one dazzled by a great light. “God chooses me!” he said again, and stood up, as if his swelling heart had lifted him. “Then I choose him!” He put his hands over his lifted face, and tears of joy dropped down. Father John, deeply affected, spoke to him, but he did not hear. He was repeating the words of the marriage-service: “‘For better or for worse, in sickness and in health, till death do us’—unite!”

The priest spoke afterward to Edith on the subject. Dick had requested him to tell her and his mother whatever they wished to know.

“Never was there a soul more ardent and single,” Father John said. “His only difficulty arose from a tender regard for the honor of God, and a great reverence for the sacred office. He fancied that it would be an insult to both for a man to seek to enter the priesthood of whom people could say that he did so because he was disappointed in love, and that he gave to God the remnant of a heart which a woman had rejected.”

“Dick rejected me,” Edith interposed hastily.

“I told him,” the priest resumed, “that if God had called him, he had no right to think of any coarse and uncharitable remarks which might be made. I reminded him that his life-long devotion to you had been a life without faith, and that, after one year in the church, he had given you up willingly. His idea of the true priest was this: one for whose sacred vocation his pious parents had prayed and hoped from the hour of his birth, who had lived from his childhood cloistered in retirement and sanctity, who had never cherished worldly hopes or desires, but, walking apart, had thus approached the altar that had never ceased to shine before him from the hour of his baptism. I owned to him that such a vocation is beautiful, and is often seen by men and angels; but told him that there are others whom the Almighty leads differently. He hides from such souls that he has sealed them also from the beginning, he allows them to drag in the mire of earth, to feel its temptations, to share in its weaknesses. We[166] cannot penetrate the designs of God, but we may well believe that his motive is to humble that soul, and to teach it through its own failings a greater pity and tenderness for the weak and the erring. I warned him that this fear of his might be a temptation of the devil, who saw that his pride was not broken, and who pursuaded him that he was jealous for the honor of God, when in reality he thought but of his own. He was happy at that. ‘If it is nothing but my own pride,’ he said, ‘I have no more trouble.’

“And he has no more trouble, my child,” the priest concluded. “He is the happiest man I ever saw!”


Is any face that I have seen—
Some perfect type of girlhood’s face:
Some nun’s, soul-radiant, full of grace—
Like thine, my beautiful, my Queen?
Of all the eyes have paused on mine—
And these have met some wondrous eyes;
So large and deep, so chaste and wise—
Have any faintly imaged thine?
The chisel with the brush has vied,
Till each seems victor in its turn:
And love is ever quick to learn,
Nor throws the proffered page aside:
Yet few the glimpses it has caught,
For thou transcendest all that art
Can show thee—even to the heart
Most skilled to read the poet’s thought.
That thought can pierce its native sky
Beyond the artist’s starry guess:
But all that it may dare express,
Is through the worship of a sigh.
And this thou art, a sigh of love—
Love that created as it sighed;
And shaped thee forth a peerless bride
Dowered for the spousals of the Dove.
To set the music of thy face
To earthly measure, were to give
Th’ informing soul, and make it live
As there—God’s uttermost of grace.



M. de Lamartine tells us in his Confidences that, as the sages pause for reflection between life and death, so his mother was in the habit of devoting an interval at the close of the day in looking back on its vanished hours, and seizing its impressions before night should have dispersed them for ever.

When all the household had retired to rest, and no sound was to be heard but the breathing of her children in their little beds around her, or the howling of the wind against the casement and the bark of the dog in the court, she would softly open the door of a little closet of books, and seat herself before an inlaid cabinet of rose-wood to record the events of the day, pour out her anxieties and sorrows, her joy and gratitude, or utter a prayer all warm from her heart. Her son says: “She never wrote for the sake of writing, still less to be admired, though she wrote much for her own satisfaction, that she might have, in this register of her conscience and the domestic occurrences of her life, a moral mirror in which she could often look and compare herself with what she had been in other days, and thus constantly amend her life. This custom of recording what was passing in her soul—a habit she retained to the end—produced fifteen or twenty little volumes of intimate communings with herself and God, which I have the happiness to preserve, and where I find her once more, living and full of affection, when I feel the need of taking refuge in her bosom.”

Of course, such a journal was not intended for the public eye, and her son is so conscious of this that, even while editing this volume of extracts from his mother’s manuscripts, he says it has no interest but for those who are allied to her by blood or sympathy of soul, and prays all others to abstain from reading it. M. de Lamartine’s financial difficulties obliging him to make capital, not only out of the private emotions and experiences of his own heart, but even of his family archives, the publication of this volume was announced previous to his death, but was deferred at his earnest request.

The interest in everything connected with so eminent a poet, the charming pictures he has drawn of his mother in his Confidences, and the influence she had in moulding his character, made us look forward with interest to this work, that we might have a clearer insight into the soul to which he owed his poetical and imaginative nature. It is always refreshing and useful whenever one ventures to lift the veil of a pure soul and allows us to read its passing emotions. But such a soul should not be exposed to the eye of curiosity, but only to that of sympathy. To scan such a book—the outpourings of a mother’s heart, written solely for her own satisfaction and her children’s—with the cool eye of a critic, would be as profane as to jeer over the grave of one whose remains have just been exhumed.

But let every tender, religious heart—especially[168] every maternal heart—that loves the sweet odor of flowers that still give out their fragrance when drawn forth from some old drawer in which they have long lain, reverently open this volume, sacred to all the outpourings of a mother’s tenderness. In her transparent nature they can read the unusual strength of the domestic affections, but a heart large enough to take in the poor and the sufferer of every grade, a charity that constantly found excuses for the asperities of others, and a piety that breathed all through her sweet life and crowned her death.

This book is a new proof of the tender piety and sincere faith among the old noblesse of France. Madame de Lamartine is worthy of being classed with the family of the Duke d’Ayen, the La Ferronnays, and the De Guérins. The simple grace of her style, the religious element so strongly infused into her daily life, the development of her emotional nature, and the intensity of her love for her family, all remind us of Eugénie de Guérin. And like her, she had one of those sweet, pensive natures that need the retirement of country life or the shade of the cloister for full development. They were similarly demonstrative in their affections and in their piety. And where one loves and follows with anxious prayer a gifted brother, the other, with the devotedness of St. Monica, weeps and prays for her son.

M. de Lamartine, after passing one gloomy All Souls’ day in recollection near his mother’s grave at St. Point, ended it by taking out the eighteen livrets in which all her thoughts and feelings had been buried for so many years, and, while the church-bell was mournfully tolling above her grave as if to reproach the living for their silence and admonish them to pray for their dead, he opened these books one after the other, and read, sadly smiling, but oftener weeping the while. It is with some such a feeling the reader will follow him. The drama of the heart is always touching, the genuine tear, even in the eye veiled in domestic obscurity, always appealing, and in this page of life’s drama there is many a one dropped. But the eyes from which they fell are always turned heavenward, and such tears have always a gleam of heaven in them, without which the sorrows of life would be unendurable.

Madame de Lamartine was the daughter of M. des Roys, intendant-general of finances to the Duke of Orleans. Madame des Roys was the under-governess of the children of that prince, and so great a favorite of the duchess that she was employed as the confidential agent of the latter during her exile, as we learn from this volume. After the execution of Philippe Egalité and the dispersion of his family, the duchess took refuge in Spain. Her daughter, afterwards known as Madame Adelaide, who displayed so much character and exerted so great a political influence during the reign of her brother Louis Philippe, was in a German or Swiss convent. The duchess, suspicious of Madame de Genlis’ influence over her daughter, and perhaps fearful she might be made a tool of the Orleans faction, with whose aims she did not sympathize, commissioned her devoted follower, Madame des Roys, to bring her daughter to Spain. Madame des Roys succeeded in her mission. She embarked at Leghorn about the beginning of January, 1802, and arrived safely at Barcelona with her charge. Madame de Lamartine, who had all this from her mother’s lips, says the meeting of the duchess and Mademoiselle d’Orleans was extremely affecting. Madame[169] des Roys subsequently returned to France, and died on her estates in June, 1804, worn out with fatigue, and troubles resulting from the revolution. She gave her daughter a portrait of Mademoiselle d’Orleans—a present from the duchess, and Madame de Lamartine always showed herself loyal to that family. When the poet wrote his Chant du Sacre without mentioning the Duke of Orleans among the other members of the royal family, she entreated him with tears to be mindful of what she owed the family. Lamartine yielded, but with so ill a grace that his allusion displeased the duke. Madame de Lamartine, fearful of being thought ungrateful to the family, wrote Mademoiselle d’Orleans a full explanation of the affair.

But to go back to the time when Madame des Roys was still governess in the Duke of Orleans’ family. She and her husband had apartments at that time in the Palais Royal in winter, and at St. Cloud in summer. It appears Madame des Roys and Madame de Genlis had some pitched battles in those days, or, as Madame de Lamartine afterward expresses it, deux camps opposés. Madame de Genlis kept up the grudge after the death of her former rival, and, years after, severely attacked M. de Lamartine’s poems by way of satisfaction.

Madame de Lamartine was born at the palace of St. Cloud, and passed her childhood there with Louis Philippe, sharing the lessons and sports of the Orleans children. All her earliest recollections were connected with St. Cloud, its fountains, and broad alleys, and velvet lawns, and lovely park. Many years after (in 1813), she tells in her journal that, being at Paris, her son drove her to St. Cloud in a cabriolet, and she thus writes of her visit: “This is the place where I passed so much of my childhood when my mother was bringing up the Duke of Orleans’ children. I was very happy there. I left when fifteen years old, and had not seen the place since, though I longed to, for I retained a delightful remembrance of it. I walked all over the park with Alphonse and Eugénie, pointing out tree after tree where I played when a child. I wished to see our apartments once more, but it was impossible, as they are occupied by the Empress Maria Louisa.”

When fifteen years of age, Alix des Roys was nominated by the Duke of Orleans to a vacancy in the noble Chapter of Salles, where she was placed under the protection of the Countess Lamartine de Villars, a canoness of that chapter. The Chevalier de Lamartine, visiting his sister, fell in love with the beautiful Alix, who is said to have resembled Madame Récamier, and, instead of embracing that semi-monastic life, she ultimately married him, March 6, 1790.

We can imagine the contrast between her life in the maisons de plaisance of one of the wealthiest princes in Europe, and that she afterward led in a plain country residence a hundred miles from Paris, and in limited circumstances. She afterward alludes in her journal to this change: “In my childhood I imagined it impossible to exist unless at court, in a palace like the Palais Royal, or the park at St. Cloud, where I lived with my mother. Now, O my God, I wish to be content in every place where thy will places me!”

But her new home was not without its attractions for a nature like hers. Leaving the banks of the Saône where it winds among the fertile hills of Mâcon, and going toward the old Abbey of Cluny, where Abélard breathed his last, the traveller, turning aside into a winding mountain-path,[170] comes after an hour or two to a sharp spire of gray stone towering above a group of peasants’ houses. Beyond these, nestling in a hollow at the foot of a mountain, is Milly, familiar to every reader of Lamartine. Five broad steps lead to the door, which opens into a corridor full of presses of carved walnut containing the household linen. From it doors open into the various apartments, and access is had to the one story above. The mountain almost insensibly begins its ascent directly back of the house. Its slope is luxuriant with vines, on which depended mainly the subsistence of the family. A small garden is in the rear of the house, with its vegetables and flower-beds and clumps of trees, and its secluded “Alley of Meditation” where Madame de Lamartine walked at sunset, saying her rosary and giving herself up to holy recollections.

She seems to have taken Milly at once to her heart. She affectionately calls it her Jerusalem—her abode of peace. She often said to her son: “It is very small, but large enough if our wishes and habits are in proportion. Happiness is from within. We should not be more so by extending the limits of our meadows and vineyards. Happiness is not measured by the acre, like land, but by the resignation of the heart; for God wishes the poor to have as much as the rich, that neither may dream of seeking it elsewhere than from him!”

And again she says: “If people were convinced that, by submissively receiving all the difficulties of the position in which they are placed, they would be at peace everywhere; they would allow themselves to be sweetly guided without anxiety by circumstances and the persons to whom they owe deference. Since I decided on this, I have been infinitely more happy. There was a time when I wished everything to yield to me, and absolutely subordinate to my will. I was then incessantly tormented about the present and the future. I often saw afterward it would have been a misfortune to have had my own way. Now I abandon myself to the Infinite Sovereign Wisdom, I feel at peace exteriorly and interiorly! God be praised for ever! He alone is wise, and should overrule all!”

Poor woman, she had enough to try her flexible will. Her husband’s elder brother, who, according to the ancient régime, was regarded as the head and guide of the family, was not disposed to give up his rights. He was unmarried, and particularly fond of interfering in the domestic regulations of the family whose future prospects somewhat depended on him, particularly those of Alphonse, who was to perpetuate the name. Another brother, the Abbé de Lamartine, lived further off, and was, of course, less tempted to interfere, but seems to have given his voice on extraordinary occasions. And then there were two unmarried aunts whom Madame de Lamartine seems to have been attached to, and whom in her charity she calls saints, but very trying saints they were with their strictures on her dainty ways, her careful dress, and her indulgence to her children. To do them justice, however, they all seem to have been sincerely anxious for the prosperity of the family.

Madame de Lamartine brought up one son and five daughters, concerning whom she gives many interesting details in her journal. The daughters appear to have been lovely in person and character. Their brother has given a delightful description of them in his Nouvelles Confidences, which is confirmed by his mother’s journal.


But M. de Lamartine makes a very strange mistake in saying his mother derived her notions of educating her children from the works of Rousseau (particularly from Emile) and St. Pierre, whom he calls “the favorite philosophers of women because the philosophers of feeling,” and “whose works,” he says, “she had read and admired.”

Some of Madame de Lamartine’s earliest recollections were certainly of Gibbon, D’Alembert, Rousseau, and others of the same stamp who frequented the society of Madame des Roys. She even remembered seeing Voltaire when but seven years of age, and “his attitude, his costume, his cane, his gestures, and his words remained imprinted on my memory as the foot of some antediluvian monster on the rocks of our mountains.” But she certainly did not esteem these men or imbibe any of their opinions, and so far from having “conservé une tendre admiration pour ce grand homme,” Jean Jacques Rousseau, as her son declares, she regarded him with a certain horror, and his genius as allied to lunacy.

In the first place, Madame de Lamartine seems to have been very scrupulous about reading dangerous books. In her journal of the year 1801, she makes a resolution to deny herself all useless reading for her children’s sake, and declares frivolous books “one of the most dangerous pleasures in the world.”

Some years after, she visits her son’s chamber, during his absence, to examine his books. Among others she finds Rousseau’s Emile. She regrets it is “empoisoned with so many inconsistencies and extravagances calculated to mislead the good sense and faith of young men. I shall burn this book,” she adds, “and particularly the Nouvelle Héloïse, still more dangerous because it inflames the passions as much as it warps the mind. What a misfortune that so much talent should be allied to madness! I have no fears for myself, for my faith is beyond temptation and not to be shaken; but my son ——”

And when toward the close of her life she saw by her son’s poem Childe Harold that he had imbibed the pernicious ideas of French philosophy, she says: “I knew these famous philosophers in my youth. Grant, O my God! he may not resemble them. I firmly represent to him the danger of such ideas, but, in the language of Scripture, the wind bloweth where it listeth. When a mother has brought a son into the world, and instilled her own faith into him, what can she do? Only put her feeble hand continually between the light of this faith and the breath of the world that would extinguish it! Ah! I am sometimes proud of my son, but I am well punished afterward by my apprehensions as to his independence of mind!

“As for me, to submit and believe seems the only true wisdom in life. They say it is less poetic, but I find as much poetry in submission as in rebellion. Are the faithful angels less poetical than those who rose up against God? I would rather my son had none of these vain talents of the world than to turn them against the dogmas that are my strength, my light, and my consolation!”

Madame de Lamartine records a fact concerning Rousseau which is by no means a proof of her esteem for him. Madame des Roys, from whom she had it, was very intimate with the Maréchale de Luxembourg. Previous to the birth of one of Rousseau’s children, the maréchale, a great friend of his, fearing he would send the child to a foundling asylum as he had done three others, begged, through a third person, to have it as[172] soon as it was born, promising to take care of it. Rousseau gave his consent. The mother was beside herself with joy, and as soon as the child was born sent word to the person who was to take it away. He came, found it was a fine, vigorous boy, and appointed an hour to come for it. But at midnight Rousseau appeared in the sick-room wrapped in a dark cloak, and, in spite of the mother’s screams, carried off his son to drop it at the asylum without a mark by which it could be recognized. “This is the man whose sensibility so many extol,” said Madame des Roys, and Madame de Lamartine adds: “And I, I say, here is the unfeeling man whose head has corrupted his heart! Alas! genius is often only a prelude to insanity when not founded on good sense. Let us welcome genius for our children if God bestows it, but pray they may have sound sense!”

Alphonse was sent at an early age to a secular school at Lyons, the religious orders not being restored. His mother thus writes:

“November 9, 1801.—To-day I am at Lyons to bring Alphonse back to school. My heart bleeds. I went to Mass this morning. I was continually looking for his beautiful fair hair in the midst of all those little heads. My God! how frightful to thus root up this young plant from the heart where it germinated, and cast it into these mercenary institutions. I was sick at heart as I came away.”

In October, 1803, she says: “I have with difficulty obtained permission from my husband and his brothers to take Alphonse away from the school at Lyons, and place him at the Jesuits’ College at Belley, on the borders of Savoy. I came with him myself. I was too much distressed to write yesterday after confiding him to these ecclesiastics. I passed half the night weeping.

“October 27.—I went this morning to look through the guichet of the court of the Jesuits’ College at my poor child. I afterward saw him at Mass in the midst of the students. He says he is satisfied with his reception from the professors and his comrades. I went to-day to see the Abbé de Montuzet, the former prior of my Chapter of Canonesses at Salles. In the evening I left for Mâcon. In passing before the college I could see the boys from the carriage playing in the yard, and heard their joyous shouts. Happily, Alphonse did not approach the guichet and see my carriage. He would have felt too badly, and I also. It is better not to soften these poor children destined to become men. Leaning back in the carriage, I wept all alone under my veil a part of the day.”

She loved to read the Confessions of St. Augustine, and, like St. Monica, she followed her son with her prayers and tears all through the vagaries of his early life, trembling for his rich gifts and susceptible nature. And with how much reason is evident from his own account. How much more she continually desired his spiritual welfare than his success in the world is evident throughout this work. In the first flush of his fame as a poet, she writes:


“January 6, 1820.—Nothing new at Paris, except I am told Alphonse is received with distinction in the best society, where his appearance and talents have excited, according to my sister, Madame de Vaux, a kind of enthusiasm. She mentions the names of many whose mothers I knew in my youth who overwhelm him with cordiality—the Princess de Talmont, the Princess de la Trémouille, Madame de Raigecourt (the friend of Madame Elizabeth), Madame de St. Aulaire, the Duchess de Broglie (Madame de Staël’s daughter), Madame de Montcalm (the Duke de Richelieu’s sister), Madame de Dolomieu, whom I knew so well at the Duchess of Orleans’; then there are many eminent men who eagerly proffer their friendship to him who was so obscure but yesterday—the young Duke de Rohan, the virtuous Mathieu de Montmorency, M. Molé, M. Lainé, said to be such a great orator, M. Villemain, the pupil of M. de Fontanes, whom he sees at M. Decazes’, the king’s favorite, and a thousand others. Thou knowest, O my God! how proud I am of this unexpected cordiality toward my son, but thou knowest also that I ask not for him what the world calls glory and honor, but to be an upright man, and one of thy servants like his father: the rest is vanity, and often worse than vanity!”

And when, still later, she goes to Paris, and meets the distinguished circle in which he moved, is received by Madame Récamier with her incomparable grace, and hears Châteaubriand, one of her favorite authors, read, and sees the prestige which her son had acquired, she confesses to a feeling of gratification at his fame, but adds: “I pray God for something higher than all this for him.”

But to return to her life at Milly. The tenderness of her nature was not confined to her own family, but was always responsive to every appeal.

To quote from her journal: “I was told after dinner that a friendless old man, whom I saw after, that lived in a hut on the mountain, with only a goat for a companion, had just been found dead. The news greatly distressed me, for I had reproached myself for not having gone to see him lately—it was so far. It is true I thought he had recovered, but I should not have trusted to that at his age. I ought to have been more attentive to him. My heart is full of remorse. In the good I do, and in everything, I am not persevering enough. I grow weary too soon and too frequently. I am too easy led away by distractions or weariness, which are not sins, but weaknesses, and hinder from a holy use of time. Was not time given us that every day and hour something might be done for God, both in ourselves and for others? I went to walk this evening with my husband and two eldest daughters. We went through the vineyard, now in bloom. The air was perfumed with their pleasant odor. Our vines are our only source of income for ourselves, our domestics, and the poor. If there are as many bunches of grapes as of blossoms, we shall be quite well off this year. May Providence preserve them from hail!

“We approached the hut above the vineyard where the poor old man died in the morning. I wished to enter it once more in order to pray beside him. My husband was not willing, fearing the sight of him would make too great an impression on me and the children. I wished to ask pardon of his soul for not having been there to utter some words of consolation and hope during his agony, and to receive his last sigh. The door was open: his goat kept going out and in, bleating as if to call assistance in its distress. The poor creature made us weep. My husband consented for me to send for it to-morrow after the burial, and give it a place with our cow and the children’s two sheep.”

Another day she writes:[174] “I went to see an old demoiselle of eighty years, who lives on an annuity in one of the upper chambers of the château. Her only companion is a hen, who is as attached to her as a tame bird. She is called Mademoiselle Félicité. In spite of her wrinkles and hair as white as the wool on her distaff, it is evident she must have been very handsome once. My husband has consented to my wish not to disturb her in spite of the inconvenience it causes us. Old plants must not be transplanted. The places where we live become truly a part of ourselves. She is taken care of by Jeanette, the sexton’s wife, once a servant at the château, and who knows all its past history: we love to hear about those who lived before us in the same dwelling. All this excites to reflection. Some day I shall be spoken of as having been, and perhaps the day is not far off! My God, where shall I then be? Grant it may be in thy paternal arms!”

The means of the family seem to have been quite limited during the first years of her married life. This made them anxious as to the vintage on which their income chiefly depended. She thus writes: “The day has been unfortunate. There have been several showers, and the hail has crushed our vines. This is more distressing, for they were loaded with grapes. My heart is very heavy to-night on our own account and that of our poor vinedressers. This shows how much I still involuntarily cling to the things of earth. It is as if I thought happiness due me, for the least affliction immediately casts me down. My God! make me realize at last the nothingness of the things of this world, that I may set my heart only on those that are eternal!”

And later: “The will of God be done! These were the last words I wrote in my journal at the last date. They are the first on to-day’s page. The great storm yesterday was a terrible misfortune to us. The hail completely destroyed our harvest. We should have had a fine crop, and now there remains scarcely enough for our poor laborers to exist on. I am ill with sorrow and anxiety. This misfortune will oblige us to make retrenchments and privations. All our plans to go to Mâcon for the education of our children are frustrated. We shall probably have to sell our horse and char-à-bancs. But it is the will of God: this ought to be sufficient to console me for everything. The fewer pleasures I have in the world, the less I shall cling to it, and the more I shall look forward to that world which alone is important and imperishable—our eternal home. Nothing hardens the heart and so fills it with illusions as prosperity, and what seems hard to human nature is perhaps a very great grace from God, who wishes us to cling to the only real treasures by depriving us of what is only dust. I can say this with more sincerity to-day: yesterday the blow seemed too hard. My husband showed great courage—more than I—though he was greatly distressed for the moment. He said: ‘Provided neither your nor our children are taken away from me, I can resign myself to anything. My riches are in your hearts.’ Then he prayed with me. Meanwhile we could hear the noise of the hail which was breaking the branches and the glass, and the peasants in the court sobbing in despair.”

As in all the old patriarchal Catholic families, Madame de Lamartine was not unmindful of the spiritual interests of her servants:[175] “After dinner, which is at one, I read, then sewed awhile, after which I read a meditation on the Gospel to my domestics. I am going presently to end the day at the church, whose dim light inspires devotion and recollection. It is there I fill the void during my husband’s absence.”

“September 5, 1802.—We have just established family prayers. It is a very impressive and salutary practice, if, as the Scripture says, we wish like brethren to dwell together in unity. Nothing elevates the hearts of servants so much as this daily communion with their masters in prayer and humiliation before God, who knows neither great nor small. It is also good for masters, who are thus reminded of their Christian equality with their inferiors according to the world.

“My poor aunt, who took care of me in my infancy, is dead. I am extremely uneasy about the fate of poor old Jacqueline, her femme-de-chambre, who was a second mother to me, and is now left alone, and perhaps poor. I wish at whatever cost to receive her here. The family are opposed. My husband fears, and with reason, to contradict his brothers and sisters, on whom we rely a good deal for our children. He proposes to pay secretly Jacqueline’s board in a house at Lyons, where she will no longer lack food and care, but I would like to fulfil my obligations of gratitude toward this poor woman to their utmost extent. If I were in her place, and she in mine, nothing would prevent her from receiving me, even in her bed.”

The domestics of the old families in France seemed to have been regarded as a part of the family. Service was almost hereditary, and a bond on both sides. In the French Revolution, nine out of ten of those proscribed by law who escaped were saved by the devotedness of their domestics. Madame de Lamartine shows how fully she regarded the tie that bound her to every member of her household as a sort of spiritual relationship.

“Palm-Sunday, 1805.—There is a great commotion in town and country. The emperor arrives to-day with all his court. We are très gênés, because we are to lodge Mgr. de Pradt, Bishop of Poitiers (the emperor’s chaplain; since Archbishop of Malines, so celebrated for playing the courtier at that time, and for his subsequent ingratitude towards Napoleon after his fall). I prefer this guest to any other of the retinue.”

Of course the parenthetical clause is by M. de Lamartine. It seems Mgr. de Pradt was not wholly ungrateful to the emperor, for the declaration issued by the allied sovereigns at the Congress of Laybach in 1821, so insulting to the memory of Napoleon, called forth from the Archbishop of Malines the following noble protestation:

“It is too late to insult Napoleon now: he is defenceless, after having so many years crouched at his feet while he had the power to punish. Those who are armed should respect a disarmed enemy. The glory of a conqueror depends, in a great measure, on the just consideration shown toward the captive, particularly when he yields to superior force, not to superior genius. It is too late to call Napoleon a revolutionist after having, for such a length of time, pronounced him to be the restorer of order in France, and consequently in Europe. It is odious to see the shaft of insult aimed at him by those who once stretched forth their hands to him as a friend, pledged their faith to him as an ally, sought to prop a tottering throne by mingling their blood with his.


“This representative of a revolution which is condemned as a principle of anarchy, like another Justinian, drew up, amid the din of war and the snares of foreign policy, those codes which are the least defective portion of human legislation, and constructed the most vigorous machine of government in the whole world. This representative of a revolution, vulgarly accused of having subverted all institutions, restored universities and public schools, filled his empire with the masterpieces of art, and accomplished those stupendous and amazing works which reflect honor on human genius. And yet, in the face of the Alps which bowed down at his command; of the ocean subdued at Cherbourg, at Flushing, at the Helder, and at Antwerp; of rivers smoothly flowing beneath the bridges of Jena, Serres, Bordeaux, and Turin; of canals uniting seas together in a course beyond the control of Neptune; finally, in the face of Paris, metamorphosed, as it was, by Napoleon, he is pronounced to be the agent of general annihilation! He, who restored all, is said to be the representative of that which destroyed all! To what undiscerning men is this language supposed to be addressed?”

Napoleon himself at St. Helena, though he censured Mgr. de Pradt’s course as ambassador at Warsaw, regarded the tribute he subsequently paid him as an amende honorable.

Las Cases, alluding to his notes from the emperor’s statements and those about him, says: “I, however, strike them out in consideration of the satisfaction I am told the emperor subsequently experienced in perusing M. de Pradt’s concordats. For my own part, I am perfectly satisfied with numerous other testimonies of the same nature, and derived from the same source.”[55]

It was during this visit of Napoleon at Mâcon he held some conversation with M. de Lamartine [the poet’s uncle] in Mgr. de Pradt’s presence. “What do you wish to be?” said the emperor at the close. “Nothing, sire,” was the reply. The emperor turned away with a look of anger.

“Lyons, April 26, 1805.—I came here with my sister to see the Pope. I saw him pass from the terrace of a garden near the archevêché where he stops. Yesterday I went to the Pope’s Mass at St. Jean’s Church. I had a good view of all the ceremonies, but found it difficult to reach the throne in order to kiss his slipper. However, I had this happiness. This aged man has the aspect of a saint, as well as some of the Roman prelates who were with him, especially his confessor.”

“May 12, 1805.—Our fortunes are improving. My husband has just bought M. d’Osenay’s hôtel at Mâcon. The garden is small, but the house is immense. We are furnishing it, and shall take possession of it this summer. My husband allows me six hundred francs a month, and all the provisions from our two estates, for the household expenses, and to pay for Alphonse’s board [at school]. This is more than sufficient. I cannot cease to admire the providence of God toward us, and am ever ready to give up all he bestows on me when he wishes and as he wishes.”

There is an interesting description of this new home in the Nouvelles Confidences, and of the circle of friends whom they drew around them. Madame de Lamartine desired this change for the benefit of her daughters, but her own tastes inclined her to the retirement of the country.

She thus writes September 7: “I am again at St. Point, which I prefer to any other residence in spite of the dilapidation of the château. I long for a still more profound retreat—a moral one. We must from time to time enter into the solitude and silence of our own hearts.”—[177]“It seems to me if I were free I would consecrate myself entirely to God, apart from the world. But we are always wishing for something different from the will of God. Is it not better to desire only his will?”

She describes the life she leads with her daughters as almost conventual. They all go to Mass every morning. After breakfast they read the Bible or some religious book, and then resume their studies—history, grammar, etc. After dinner and an hour’s recreation, they sew and study. At nightfall they say the Rosary together, and in the evening she plays chess with her husband, and sometimes reads one of Molière’s comedies. “I see no harm in it,” she says with her characteristic delicacy of conscience. “I skip every dangerous word.” They finally have family prayers, at which she improvises a short meditation aloud. Her great object, she says, is to cultivate a genuine spirit of piety in her children, and to keep them constantly occupied.

“September, 1807.—I am enjoying the seclusion at Milly alone with my children. Madame de Sévigné is my society. I took a long walk to-night on Mount Craz, above the vineyard back of the house. I was all alone. I take pleasure in such long strolls at this hour in the evening. I love the autumn time, and these walks with no other company but my own thoughts. They are as boundless as the horizon and full of God. Nature elevates my heart, and fills it with a thousand thoughts and a certain melancholy which I enjoy. I know not what it is, unless a secret consonance of the infinite soul with the infinity of the divine creation. When I turn back and see from the heights of the mountain the little lights burning in my children’s chamber, I bless Divine Providence for having given me this peaceful, hidden nest in which to shelter them!

“I finish always with a prayer without many words, which is like an interior hymn, which no one hears but thee, O Lord! who hearest the humming of the insects in the tangle of furze which I tread under my feet.”

“Milly, April 11, 1810.—I passed the night here with Cécile and Eugénie. The weather is fine, and I longed to enjoy a pleasant spring morning which I find delicious. As soon as I rose I went into the garden, where I passed three hours reading, praying, meditating, thanking God for his benefits, and endeavoring to profit by them. The weather is lovely, the trees are full of buds and blossoms which perfume the air. The leaves are beginning to put forth, the birds to sing, the little insects to hum. Everything in nature is reviving and being born again. I am inexpressibly happy when I can be at peace in the country at this sweet time of early spring. Unfortunately I am obliged to return to town for I know not how long, but I wish only the good pleasure of God, and my only desire is to fulfil my duty wherever he calls me.

“Ah! how much I have to reproach myself for. I go to extremes in everything. In the world I am too worldly, in retirement too austere. Present surroundings have too sensible an effect. I am not well. I offer my sufferings to God. I pray a little. I read a good deal. I am extremely impressed by the shortness of life, and the necessity of preparing for eternity. I often endeavor to be fully penetrated with what I remember to have once written—that this life must be regarded as a purgatory, and whatever sufferings the good God sends I should look upon as sweet in comparison with what I merit.


“What makes me tremble is the establishment of my six children, and all the difficulties I foresee in this respect. But this anticipated trouble is wrong; for, after the assistance of God in so many circumstances, I ought to expect it still more in this the great object of my life.”

In fact, she succeeds wonderfully in disposing of her daughters à la Française, and, to our American eyes, they are wonderfully docile, but perhaps edifyingly so. Her lovely daughters all marry gentlemen who are so fortunate as to have the particle de to their names—a thing of vast moment with the French gentry.

One of them, Césarine, a dazzling beauty of the Italian style and said to have a lively resemblance to Raphael’s Fornarina, has her little romance, which her mother favors, but the fates frown adversely in the person of la famille, to wit, the formidable uncles and aunts. How poor Madame de Lamartine ever got such a jury to agree on the sentence of any suitor is no small proof of her talent for diplomacy. In this case the objection was for pecuniary reasons only, for the de was not wanting—“de misérables raisons de société,” says the mother, who adds: “They would not be very rich, but I could keep them at home. I am obliged to conceal from my husband’s family my inclination for this marriage; but, if I did not oppose them sometimes, I should never get my children married.”

In this instance she was at last forced to yield, and tell the aspirant, but not without tears, that Césarine could not marry him. “The family is obstinate in its refusal. I am in despair. The young man still hopes against all hope.” Luckily—at least luckily for the family peace—Césarine, though sad, is touchingly submissive—the lovers are separated for ever. The chivalric Alphonse tells his sister not to do violence to her feelings—that he will take her part against the whole set; but the gentle maiden declares—we persist in believing, in our fondness for a bit of sentiment, that she made a virtue of necessity in view of those Gorgons and chimeras dire—declares her attachment rather a feeling of gratitude for the love that had been given her, and that she is ready to marry without repugnance the estimable man destined to replace the one she has lost!

Nothing more could be said. She marries unexceptionably—M. de Vignet, the nephew of the celebrated Count de Maistre, author of Du Pape, and goes to Chambéry to become a member of a very distinguished family. She died a few years after.

Some years later, Madame de Lamartine records a visit from the discarded suitor of six years before. “We did not speak of Césarine, but his very presence and tender manner said enough. I cried heartily.”

In 1824, she records the affecting and edifying death of her daughter Suzanne, whose loss, as well as that of Césarine, her affectionate nature never recovers from. Her heart seems now to turn more fully toward heaven. The latest records in her journal evince a constantly increasing devotional frame of mind. The surviving daughters are all married, and her son’s prospects extremely flattering. She says: “I should be a happy mother had I not lost two flowers from my crown. Ah! what a void their loss makes when I walk here in the garden in the evening, and yearn to see them and hear their voices. I must detach myself more and more from the world in spite of myself.


“I have this year formed the habit of going to Mass before light. It is better to snatch the first moments of the day from the bustle and pleasures of the world, and first render to God the things that are God’s, and then to the world what belongs to the world. I sometimes find it hard to go out in all kinds of weather from my warm room to attend what is called the servants’ Mass, to which the poor go; but are we not all poor in divine grace, and all servants to our parents, our husbands, and our children? I am abundantly repaid by the recollection I feel in the dim church, the fervor of my prayers, and the calmness and strength I derive from the Divine Presence which accompanies me throughout the day after thus fulfilling a paramount obligation.”

Only a short time before the dreadful accident that caused her death, Madame de Lamartine thus reviews her past life, as if conscious of her approaching end:

“Milly, October 21, 1829.—To-day the birth-day of my first-born. I am here alone, and have consecrated the day to meditation to strengthen my soul and prepare it for death. How many times in my life I have paced up and down this alley of meditation, where no one can see me from the house, with my rosary in my clasped hands, meditating or praying! Alas! what would have become of me in all my interior and exterior trials had God not visited me in my meditations, and suggested holier and more consoling thoughts than my own! It is a great grace to have this facility for recollection in God, which has inclined me almost every day of my life to consecrate some hours, or at least some minutes, in thinking exclusively of him. He loves these heart-to-heart appeals to his divine compassion. He inclines his ear to listen to the pulsations of the pious heart that turns toward him! I felt this more than ever to-day, and came away all bathed in tears, without perceiving it while walking in the alley. It seemed as if my whole life passed before me, and before him who is my Creator and Judge!

“Oh! may his judgment, which is approaching, be merciful.

“I saw myself, as if but yesterday, a child playing in the broad alleys of St. Cloud; then, still young, a canoness, praying and chanting in the Chapel at Salles, undecided whether to make my vows like my companions, and consecrate my whole life to praising God in a place of retreat between the world and eternity; I saw my husband, young and handsome, come in his rich uniform to visit his sister, Madame de Villars, the canoness, under whose care I had been placed because she was older and more reasonable than I. I saw his attention was particularly directed to me above all the rest, and that he profited by every opportunity of visiting his sister at the chapter. As for me, I was struck with his noble features, his somewhat military air, his frankness of expression, and a haughtiness that seemed only to unbend toward me; I remember the emotion of joy shut up in my heart when he at length asked through his sister if I would consent to his demanding me in marriage; then, our first interview in his sister’s presence, our walks in the environs of the chapter with the elder canonesses, his openly expressed wish to marry me, and the continued opposition, and the many tears shed in the presence of God during three years of uncertainty to obtain the miracle of his family’s consent, which appeared impossible; finally, our years of happiness in this poor solitude of Milly, then much more humble than at present;[180] my despair when, scarcely married, he desperately sacrificed all, even me, to fulfil his duty at Paris, defending as a simple volunteer the palace of the king on the 10th of August: the divine protection which enabled him to escape covered with blood from the garden of the Tuileries, his flight, his return here, his imprisonment, my apprehensions as to his life, my visits to the wicket of the prison, where I took my son to kiss him through the bars; my walking with my child in my arms, through the streets of Lyons and Dijon, to appeal to the rude representatives of the people, a word from whom was life or death to me; the fall of Robespierre; the return to Milly, the successive births of my seven children, their education, their marriages, the vanishing of those two angels from earth, for whose loss the remainder cannot console me!

“And now the repose after so much weariness! Repose, yes, but old age also, for I am growing old, whatever they say. These trees that I planted; the ivy I set out on the north side of the house that my son might not tell an untruth in his Harmonies where he describes Milly, and which now covers the whole wall from the cellar to the roof; these walls themselves covered with moss; these cedars which were no higher than my daughter Sophie when she was four years of age, but under which I can now walk—all this tells me I am growing old! The graves of the old peasants whom I knew when young, which I pass as I go to church, tell me plainly this world is not my abiding-place. My final resting-place will soon be prepared. I cannot refrain from tears when I think of leaving all, especially my poor husband, the faithful companion of my early years, who is not feeble, but suffers and needs me now to suffer, as he once needed me to be happy! My children, my dear children! Alphonse, his wife, by her affection and virtue, a sixth daughter; Cécile and her charming children, a third generation of hearts that love and must be loved! And then those who are wanting, but who follow me like my shadow in the Alley of Meditation! Alas! my Césarine, my pride on account of her marvellous beauty, buried far away behind that Alpine horizon which continually recalls her remembrance! Alas! my Suzanne, the saint who wore too soon the aureola on her brow, and whom God took from me that her memory might be for me an image of one of his angels of purity! Dead or absent ones, I am here alone, having borne my fruit—some fallen to the ground like that of yonder trees, and others removed far from me by the Husbandman of the Gospel! Ah! what thoughts attract me, pursue me in this garden, and then force me to leave it when they cause my heart and my eyes to overflow! Ah! this is truly my Garden of Olives!

“O my Saviour! has not every soul such a garden? Alas, yes! this was my garden of delights—and now it is laid waste and desolate. It is my Garden of Olives where I come to watch before my death! And yet it is dear to me, in spite of the vacancies time and death have made around me, even while seeking beneath yonder linden-trees for the white dresses of my children, and listening for their gay voices exclaiming over an insect or a flower in their border!

“What had I done that God should bestow on me this corner of the earth, and this small house, of whose size and barrenness I was sometimes ashamed, but which proved so sweet a nest for my numerous brood? Ah![181] his name be blessed! his name be blessed! and after me may it still shelter those who will always be a part of me.

“But I hear the bell at Bussières ringing the Angelus.

“Let us leave all this—it is better to pray than to write. I will dry my tears, and all alone in my alley I will say the rosary, to which my little daughters used to respond as they followed me, but which only the sparrows in their nests and the falling leaves now hear. No; no, no, it is not good to give way too much to tears. I must keep my strength for duties to be accomplished—for we have duties even on the death-bed.

“It is the will of God! Let us abandon ourselves to him entirely! The only true wisdom consists in this—to resign ourselves to his adorable will. I have been busying myself here in putting in order my old journals, which has led me to look them over with interest. This always fills me with fresh gratitude for all the grace I have received from God, and with regret for my little progress in piety, after all the good resolutions and reflections I have so often made, but with so little profit. But there is time, always time, while God gives us life, to profit by it to prepare for heaven. This is what I beg him with my whole heart as I finish this book, praying him to shed on me, and on all who belong to me, abundant spiritual blessings. As to temporal blessings, I only ask for them as far as they may be necessary for gaining heaven, but I abandon myself with all my heart to his paternal decrees. May he bless me in my children, in my friends, in all who have loved me, and whom I have so much loved on earth!”

These are the last words Madame de Lamartine wrote in her journal. Some days after, in entering a bath, she found the water too cool, and turned the faucet. The boiling water dashed up on her chest. She fainted. Her cry was heard, but it was too late. She was removed to her chamber. Consciousness returned, and she lived two days. During her last hours she constantly exclaimed: “How happy I am! How happy I am!” Being asked why, she replied: “For dying resigned and purified.”

Her son was at Paris, and did not arrive till after the funeral. Remembering her wish to be buried at St. Point, he had her removed. The grave was opened at midnight, one cold night in December, when the ground was covered with snow.

The peasants, whom she loved and who loved her, took turns in carrying the bier eight leagues, her son on foot behind. Not a word, not a whisper, was to be heard on the way. When they approached Milly, between two and three o’clock in the morning, all the peasants stood in their door-ways, with pale faces and tearful eyes, holding lamps in their trembling hands. They all came out to follow the procession to Milly, where her coffin was placed for a while at the entrance, on the very benches where every morning sat the needy to whom she used to distribute food or medicine.

All the sobbing crowd came up to sprinkle her body with holy water and utter a prayer.

M. de Lamartine afterward built a chapel over the grave of his mother at St. Point, which bears on its cornice the inscription:





Introductory Note: Servius Sulpicius was perhaps the most eminent practitioner of his day in that branch of the law which belongs to the “special pleader” and the “conveyancer”; but so little of a speaker that he would not venture alone to recommend his own cause or to urge his claims before the Roman people. He employed Cneius Postumius, then very young, and Marcus Cato, a most weighty orator, whose character, however (and a reputation for unswerving principle and the austerest virtues), had a larger share than the mental power of his words in securing to them influence and authority. It was less important what Cato said than that it had been said by Cato. How very different was the case with Hortensius! A stranger, whose face, whose name, not one of the audience knew, fitly delivering any of Hortensius’ harangues, would have commanded attention from the first, retained it to the last, raised many an interrupting tempest of applause during its progress, and left, when he had finished, a powerful, a formidable impression.

Hortensius was that Bolingbroke of the Roman Forum to whom the huge and intelligent assemblies he addressed were what the organ is to a Smart or the violin to a Sivori. He had hewn a lane through many a group of brilliant opponents and rivals, with an Excalibar forged by genius and by study together (and few at last cared to face the weapon), to the very throne of contemporary eloquence. And there, for years, he sat at ease, a king. A suitor despaired of his cause beforehand upon learning that Hortensius had been retained on the other side. Of course, his wealth had become enormous, and his indirect influence (for, although he had had his year of the Consulate, he cared not very much about politics) was an element, a “quantity,” which had to be taken into account by statesmen and generals, by the senate, and by the consuls.

In the case of “Sulpicius against Murena” (Murena had defeated Sulpicius in the canvass for the ensuing year’s Consulate, and this was a prosecution of revenge to unseat the future and “designated” chief magistrate), Murena had retained Hortensius, M. Crassus, afterwards the Triumvir, and Marcus Tullius Cicero. Now, during about ten years past, Hortensius—although speaking with the same charm and the same glamour as ever—had ceased to sit upon the throne or to wear the crown of eloquence. A far mightier spirit, a far finer genius, a far deeper student—a master upon whom his competent and appreciative glance rested with[183] an admiration at once boundless and hopeless—had, after a gallant struggle on his part, so utterly eclipsed him that there was now a greater distance between Tully and Hortensius than there ever had been between Hortensius himself and those accomplished but defeated competitors to whom Hortensius had long been a wonder and a despair.

Cicero, however, had passed a sleepless night before the day of this trial: his voice almost failed him; he looked haggard; his nerves had, for the moment, given way, and with them his presence of mind. In charm of manner, in vigor of delivery, in clearness and percussion of utterance, in external grace, and dignity, and ease, his ancient rival for once surpassed him; nay, till the respective speeches were reported, and could be compared on perusal, Hortensius created the illusion that he had at last, in all respects, overtaken his victor, and would yet again contend for the palm of pre-eminence.

This never was to be. The broken heart of the only orator known to human records, who might perhaps have performed such a task, had then been mouldering for three centuries in a small island of the Ægean Sea. We have bored the reader enough about the advocates, and have mentioned also what Servius Sulpicius, the prosecutor, was. The defendant, L. Licinius Murena, was, on the other hand, a distinguished soldier. He had served as a sort of adjutant-general to the famous Lucullus in that series of campaigns by which he had greatly reduced, without overthrowing (a task reserved for Pompey), the power of Mithridates. Except Hannibal, and perhaps Antiochus (we do not reckon Pyrrhus, for Rome was in the gristle then), no enemy had ever waged so formidable a warfare against the Romans as Mithridates. He was a winged beast. How his fame remains! What parties and excursions you Crimean gentlemen made to the spot where his ashes are supposed to have been inurned and intempled! Lord of every seaboard of Pontus and the Euxine, and lord of the “Evil Sea” itself; of ten thousand rich cities; of five hundred strong fortresses; of five hundred thousand armed men; of horses enough to mount the hordes of a Genghis Khan; of half-a-dozen numerous, adventurous, and well-found fleets; of treasures uncounted and uncountable; adroit, bold, proud, insatiably enterprising; no mean captain; an object of worship to his followers; magnificent and munificent; an implacable hater of the Roman name; the long-alight, far-flaming meteor of the East—he threatened to shake hands in Spain, across all Europe, with Sertorius; to make the shores of Italy quake at the white clouds of his sails, and to teach the waters of the Atlantic as well as those of the Levant to know either the sceptre or the sword of Mithridates. It was no child’s play to bring this potentate to the dust.

Against such a potentate, in the post next to that of the commander-in-chief (who happened, besides, to be a great general), Murena had served for years with the most brilliant efficiency and distinction.

Sulpicius, among other things (alleged bribery, etc.), had sneered at the presumption of Murena, a man “who had been principally with the army” and out of Rome, in entering into competition with, or daring to come forward as the rival of, a person of his, Sulpicius’, dignity, learning, and professional station, standing, rank.

We have said enough—perhaps too much—to frame the little picture which we want to present to our readers;[184] to set it near the right window as you pass. That little picture is the argument in which Cicero (who was on terms of personal intimacy with the prosecutor, as well as with his gallant client) firmly questions—yet questions with the most exquisite urbanity—the rather exorbitant pretensions of Sulpicius, the “learned conveyancer and special pleader,” to a higher consideration than “ought to be, or could be,” allowed to the instruction, the knowledge of many sorts (geographical, historical, administrative, tactical, and technical—ay, strategical even—and of characters; of general statistics; of actual local supplies; of incidental resources, material and moral), and to the professional industry, to the labors, the wounds, the dangers, to say nothing of the valor and the genius of a patriotic and public-spirited soldier, who had led armies to victory, had stormed great strongholds, and had not only defended the frontier of the empire, but enlarged it, with every circumstance of legitimate splendor and honorable success.


“I recognize in you, Servius Sulpicius, all the respectability and distinction that family, character, intellectual toil, and such other accomplishments can confer, as may entitle any one to aspire to the Consulate.

“In all these respects I know Murena to be your equal; and so nicely your equal, that we can neither admit any inferiority on his part, nor concede the slightest precedency on yours.

“You have taunted Murena with his genealogy, and extolled your own. If you mean, in all this, that no one can be deemed of honorable parentage who is not a patrician, you will bring the masses [plebs, not populus] to withdraw [secede] once more to Mount Aventine. But if there are considerable and distinguished plebeian families—why, both the great-grandfather and the grandfather of Murena were actually prætors; and his father, when laying down the prætorian office, having received, in the amplest and most honorable form, the solemnity of a capitolian triumph, left thereby the more accessible to my client the avenue to the Consulate, inasmuch as it was for a dignity already earned by the father, and due to him, that the son became a candidate.

Your nobility, Servius Sulpicius, although of the highest class, is best known to men of letters and to antiquaries; to the people and the electors, not so obvious: your father, you see, was of knightly rank; your grandfather—famous for nothing very remarkable—so that no loud modern voices, but rather the remote whispers of antiquity, attest the glories of your race. For which reason, I have ever claimed you as one of us; a man who, although but the son of a knight, yet have achieved for yourself a fair pretension to the honors of the chief magistracy in the republic.” [He means that he was not presumptuous in offering himself to the electors for the Consulate: “summâ amplitudine dignus” are the words.]


“Nor, for my part, have I ever looked upon Quintus Pompey, a new man, and bravery itself, as having less worth and dignity than Marcus Æmilius (Scaurus), one of the leaders of our aristocracy; for there is the same merit in the mind and the genius which hand down to posterity the glory of a name not inherited (and this Pompey has achieved), as to revive, like Scaurus, by personal services, the half-dead honor of an ancient line. However, I was under the impression, judges, that my own exertions had succeeded in rendering the objection of lowly birth obsolete in the case of persons of merit—persons who, if we recall not merely the Curii, the Catos, the Pompeys, of a former age, architects of their own station, and men of the loftiest spirit, but the Mariuses, the Didii, the Cœliuses of almost yesterday, had been left lying in the shade. But when, after so long an interval, I myself had stormed those fastnesses of nobility, and had struck wide-open for the admission of merit not less than of nobility, in the time to come (as they used to be among our ancestors), the approaches to the Consulate, I certainly did not expect, while a ‘designated’ consul, sprung from an ancient and illustrious family, was defended by an actual consul, the son of a Roman knight” [Cicero was himself at that moment vested with the Consulate], “that the accusers would venture to taunt him with the newness of his origin! For, indeed, it was my own lot to be candidate for the chief magistracy in competition with two eminent patricians, one of them as conspicuous for the abandoned audacity of his wickedness, as the other for his modesty and virtue—and to vanquish both: Catiline, by the respect in which my character was held; and Galba, in the love and confidence of the people. And, surely, had it amounted to any reproach to be a new man, I lacked neither enemies nor enviers. Let us drop, then, this discussion about family, a point in which the present competitors are both alike distinguished; let us see what the other allegations are. ‘Murena sought the Quæstorship with me: and I was made Quæstor first.’ An answer is not expected to be given to every little nothing; nor does it escape any of you, when a number of persons obtain simultaneously the same grade of the magistracy, while only one of them can stand first on the list of announcements, that to be first declared in point of time is not the same thing as to be declared first in point of rank; for the obvious reason, that there must be earlier and later entries in every catalogue, although each name on it bears, for the most part, the very same honor. But the quæstorships of both pretty nearly coincide as to the ‘partition’” [of region]: “my client, under the Titian law, had a silent and quiet province; you, that Ostian province at the mention of which the people, when quæstors are drawing lots, usually utter shouts—not so much a favorite or distinguished, as a busy and troublesome department. The names of each of you continued dormant in quæstorships; for fortune gave to neither a field wherein your valor might respectively have been exercised and displayed. The ulterior periods of time which are brought into rivalry were by each of you very differently spent. Servius pursued here, along with us, this civic warfare of replications, pleas, caveats; replete with care and vexations; learnt the civic law; kept late watches; toiled hard; was the servant of every one; endured the stupidities, bore with the arrogance, was surfeited with the perplexities of hundreds; lived at the will of others, not according to his own. It is highly honorable, and wins men’s favor, that one man should labor in a pursuit which is useful to so many others. And all this while, how was Murena engaged? He was serving as[186] adjutant-general to the bravest and wisest of men, a consummate captain, Lucius Lucullus, in which service he led the army, engaged the enemy, was repeatedly [often] at close quarters with him; routed large forces; took cities now by storm, now by siege; so traversed that opulent Asia, that Asia famed for its seductions, as to leave behind him not one trace either of care for its wealth or pursuit after its gaieties; in short, during a war of the first magnitude, played such a part, that, while he shared, and shared with distinction, in every achievement of the commander-in-chief, the commander-in-chief had no part in numerous and notable services of his. Although I speak in Lucullus’ own presence, yet, lest it should be supposed that he allows me, on account of Murena’s actual danger in this prosecution, to exaggerate his merits, let me remind you that everything I state rests upon official and public evidence—evidence in which Lucullus awards to his second in command an amount of credit which never could have proceeded except from the most candid and the least jealous of chiefs. Each of the present competitors possesses every title both to personal respect and to social position; and I would pronounce them equal, if only Servius allowed me. But he will not allow me. He persists in his quarrel with soldiering; he inveighs against the whole of Murena’s adjutant-generalship. He will have it that the supreme magistracy is the natural reward of this, his desk and chambers [assiduitatis, etymologically sitting-ness] work; these daily labors of his. ‘What!’ quoth he, ‘you will have been with the army all these years; you will never have been seen in the Forum; and then, after such a disappearance, you pretend to compete for the highest dignities with men who have spent their lives in the Forum?’ In the first place, Servius, you are not aware how irksome, how wearisome to people, this assiduity of ours is. To me, indeed, the ‘in sight, in mind’ brought with it its conveniences; but I surmounted the danger of tiring people by my immense laboriousness: you may have done the same; but a little less of our everlasting presence would have hurt neither of us.

“However, passing over this, let us come to the comparison of your several studies and acquirements. How can there be any doubt, but that warlike glory carries with it far more likelihood than that of the law to win the Consulate? You keep night-watches, that you may give an opinion to your consulting clients; he, that he may reach his destination in good time with his army. You awake in the morning to the crowing of the cocks; he is called by the battle-breathing trumpets. You array pleadings; he, armies. You are careful not to let your clients be captured; he, to keep from capture cities and camps. He studies how the enemies’ forces, and you how neighbors’ drains and roof-rains, may be held at bay. He knows how to extend our boundaries; and you, how to litigate about our ‘boundings and buttings’”—Cætera desunt, hic.




Mesdames Folibel occupied a double set of rooms au premier on the Boulevard des Italiens. On a door to the right a large brass plate announced that Madame Augustine Folibel presided over “lingerie et dentelles,” and invited the public to “tourner le bouton.” To the left a large steel plate proclaimed Madame Alexandrine Folibel “modiste,” and invited the public to ring the bell. But after a certain hour every day both these invitations were negatived by a page in buttons, who, stationed at either door, kept the way open for the ceaseless flow of visitors passing in and out of the two establishments. My friend Berthe de Bonton was just turning in to the lingerie department when I came up the stairs.

“How lucky!” she cried, running across the landing to me, then sotto voce: “Madame Clifford [pronounced Cliefore] is here, and wants me to choose a bonnet for her. Now, if there’s a thing I hate, it is choosing a bonnet for an Englishwoman. To begin with, they don’t possess the first rudiments of culture in dress, then they can never make up their minds, and they find everything too dear; but the crowning absurdity is that they bring their husbands with them, and consult them! Figurez-vous, ma chère!” And Berthe, with a Frenchwoman’s keen sense of the comic, laughed merrily at the ludicrous conceit. I laughed with her, though not quite from the same point of view.

“I made an excuse to get away for a few minutes, and left the ménage discussing a pink tulle with marabout and beetle-wings trimming—un petit poème, chérie—but,” she caught me by the arm, “fancy Madame Clifford’s complexion under it!”

Ah, bonjour, mesdames! I am at the order of ces dames. Will they take the pains to seat themselves just for one second?” continued Madame Augustine, who greeted us in the first salon, where she was carrying on a warm debate on the relative merits of Alençon versus Valenciennes as a trimming for a bridal peignoir.

“I merely wanted to say a word with reference to my order of yesterday. Where is Mademoiselle Florine?” inquired Berthe, looking round the room, where there were several groups ordering pretty things.

“Florine! Florine!” called out Madame Augustine.

Voici, madame!

Mademoiselle Florine was a plump little boulette of a woman, who wore her nose retroussé and always looked at you as if she had reason to complain of you. Without being uncivil, she looked it; her nose had a supercilious expression that made you feel it was considering you de haut en bas. The fact is, Mademoiselle Florine was not happy. She was disappointed, not in love, but with life in general, and with lingerie in particular. She had adopted lingerie as a vocation, and now it was going down in the world; it was degenerating into pacotille; grandes dames began to grow cold about it, and to wear collars and cuffs that a[188] petite bourgeoise would have turned up her nose at ten years ago. More grievous still was the change that had come over petticoats. The deterioration in this line she took terribly to heart, and the surest way to enlist her good graces and secure her interest in your order, be it ever so small, was to preface it with a sigh or a sneer at red Balmorals or other gaudy and economical inventions which had dethroned the snowy jupon blanc of her youth, with its tucks and frills and dainty edgings of lace or embroidery. Berthe, it so happened, very strongly shared this dislike to colored petticoats, and was guilty of considerable extravagance in the choice of white ones; Mademoiselle Florine’s sympathies consequently went out to her, and, no matter how busily she was engaged or with whom, she would fly to Berthe as to a kindred soul the moment she appeared.

“I have been thinking over those jupons à traine that I ordered yesterday,” said Berthe to the pugnacious-looking little lingère, “and I have an idea that the entre-deux anglais will be a failure. We ought to have decided on Valenciennes.”

“Ah! I thought Madame la Comtesse would come round to it!” observed Mademoiselle Florine with a smile of supreme satisfaction. “I told Madame la Comtesse it was a mistake.”

“Yes, I felt you didn’t approve; but really twelve hundred francs for six petticoats did seem a great deal,” observed Berthe deprecatingly. “Now, suppose we put alternately one row of deep entre-deux and a tuyauté de batiste edged with a narrow Valenciennes instead of all Valenciennes?”

Voyons—réfléchissons!” said Mademoiselle Florine, putting her finger to her lips, and knitting her brow.

“It occurred to me in my bed last night,” continued Berthe, “and I fell asleep and actually dreamed of it, and you can’t think how pretty it looked, so light and at the same time très garni.”

“So much the better! Talk to me of a customer like that!” exclaimed Mademoiselle Florine, clasping her hands and turning to me with a look of admiration which was almost affecting from its earnestness. “There is some compensation in working for madame, at least. If those ladies knew what I have to endure from three-quarters of the world!” And she threw up her hands and shook her head in the direction of the premier salon. “But let me get out the models, and see how this dream of Madame la Comtesse’s looks in reality.” Boxes of lace and embroidery were ordered out by the excited lingère, and under her deft and nimble fingers the dream was illustrated in the course of a few minutes. Berthe was undecided. She sat down and surveyed the combination in silent perplexity.

“Really this question of jupons makes life too complicated!” she said presently; “and now I begin to ask myself if these will go with any of my new dresses? The crinoline éventail is going out, Monsieur Grandhomme told me, and they will never go with the queue de moineau that he is bringing in!”

Here was a predicament!

Attendez,” said Florine, dropping a dozen rouleaux of lace on the floor as if such costly rags, the mere mortar and clay of her airy architecture, were not worth a thought.[189] “Let us leave the question of jupons unsettled for a while; I will go myself this evening and discuss the toilettes of Madame la Comtesse with her femme de chambre; we will see the style and fall of the new skirts, and adapt the jupons to them.”

“How good you are!” exclaimed Berthe, looking and feeling grateful for this unlooked-for solution of her difficulty.

“It is a consolation to me, Madame la Comtesse,” replied Mademoiselle Florine with a sigh, “and I need a little now and then!”

We wished her good-morning. “Let us go back now to Alexandrine,” said Berthe; “I hope Mrs. Clifford has made up her mind by this time.” But the hope was vain. Mrs. Clifford was standing with her back to the long mirror, looking at herself as reflected in a hand-glass that she turned so as to view her head in every possible aspect, while Mr. Clifford looked on. “Do you think it does?” she inquired as we came up to her.

“I think a darker shade would suit you better,” I said; “that pale pink has no mercy on one’s complexion.”

“I’ve tried on nearly every bonnet on the table,” she said, looking very miserable, “and they don’t any of them seem to do.”

“Madame will not understand that the first condition of a bonnet’s suiting, after the complexion of course, is that the hair should be dressed with regard to it,” interposed Madame Alexandrine, who I could see by her flushed face and nervous manner was, as she would say herself, à bout de patience; “these bonnets are all made for the coiffure à la mode, whereas madame wears un peigne à galerie.”

Dieu! but it is six months since the peigne à galerie has been heard of!”

I suggested, in aid of this undeniable argument, that the comb should be suppressed.

“Oh! dear, no, I wouldn’t give it up for the world!” said Mrs. Clifford, with the emphatic manner she might have used if I had proposed her giving up her spectacles.

“Then you must have one made to order.”

“Yes,” said Madame Alexandrine, “I will make one for madame after a modèle à part.”

“But then it will be dowdy and old-fashioned,” demurred the Englishwoman.

“Then let madame sacrifice le peigne à galerie! What sacrifice is it, after all? Nobody wears them now; they belong to a past age,” argued Madame Alexandrine, appealing to me.

“This one was a present from my husband,” replied Mrs. Clifford, in a tone that seemed to say: “You understand, there is nothing more to be said.”

I did not dare look at Berthe. Luckily she was beside me, so I could not see her face, but I saw the muff go up in a very expressive way, and she suddenly disappeared into a little salon to the left, set apart for caps and coiffures de bal. I heard a smothered “burst,” and a treacherous armoire à glace revealed her thrown back in an arm-chair, stuffing her handkerchief into her mouth, and convulsed with laughter.

Madame Folibel, whose risible faculties long and hard training had brought under perfect control, received the communication, however, with unruffled equanimity.

“That explains why madame holds to it,” she answered very seriously; “it is natural and affecting. Still, one must be reasonable; one must not sacrifice too much to a sentiment. Monsieur would not wish it,” turning to the gentleman, who stood with his back to the fireplace listening in solemn silence to the controversy.[190] “Monsieur understands that the chief point in madame’s toilette is her bonnet. I grieve to say English ladies themselves do not sufficiently realize the supremacy of the bonnet; yet a moment’s reflection ought to show them how all-important it is, how necessary that every other feature in the dress should succumb to it. The complexion, the hair, the shape of the head, are all at the mercy of the chapeau. Of what avail is a handsome dress, and fashionable shawl or mantle, costly fur, lace—an irreproachable tout-ensemble, in fine—if the bonnet be unbecoming? All these are but the rez-de-chaussée and the entresol, so to speak, while the chapeau is the crown of the edifice. Le chapeau enfin c’est la femme! [The bonnet, in fact, is the woman!]” At this climax Madame Folibel paused. Mr. Clifford, who had listened as solemn as a judge, his hands in his pockets, and not a muscle of his face moving, while the modiste, looking straight at him, delivered herself of her credo, now turned to me.

“Unquestionably,” he said in a serious and impressive tone, “there must be a place in heaven for these people. They are thoroughly in earnest.” Mrs. Clifford took advantage of the aside between her husband and me to follow up Madame Folibel’s oration by a few private remarks.

Clearly she was staggered in her fidelity to the “sentiment” which interfered so alarmingly with the success of the “crown of the edifice,” but she had not the honesty to confess it outright. She was ashamed of giving in. Without being often one whit less devoted to the vanities of life, an Englishwoman is held back by this kind of mauvaise honte from proclaiming her allegiance to them. She is ashamed of being in earnest about folly. Now, this British idiosyncrasy is quite foreign to a Frenchwoman; even when she is personally, either from character or circumstances, indifferent to the great fact of dress, she is always alive to its importance in the abstract, and will discuss it without any assumption of contemning wisdom, but soberly and intelligently, as befits a grave subject of recognized importance to her sisterhood in the carrying on of life.

“What do you advise me to do, dear?” said Mrs. Clifford, appealing to her husband, the wife and the woman warring vexedly in her spirit.

“Give in,” said Mr. Clifford. “What in the name of mercy could you do else! A dozen men in your place would have capitulated after that broadside ending in the woman and the bonnet.”

“What does monsieur say?” inquired Madame Folibel.

Monsieur had answered his wife with his eyes fixed on the Frenchwoman, as if she were a wild variety of the species that he had never come upon before, and might not have an opportunity of studying again.

“I suppose I must sacrifice the comb,” observed Mrs. Clifford, affecting a sort of bored indifference and looking about for her old bonnet, “so we will leave the choice of the model open till I have had a conversation with Macravock, my maid, and see what she can do with my hair; she is very clever at hair-dressing.”

“Oh! de grâce, madame!” exclaimed La Folibel, terrified at the rough Scotch name that boded ill for the couronnement.[191] “Your maid, instead of mending matters, will complicate them still more. You must put yourself in the hands of a coiffeur who understands physiognomy, and who will study yours before he decides upon the necessary change. If madame does not know such a man, I can recommend her mine, a coiffeur in whom I have unlimited trust. I send him numbers of my customers, he never fails to please them, and I can trust him not to compromise me. Madame understands the success of my bonnets depends in no small degree on the way in which the head is adjusted for them. Il y a des têtes impossibles that I could not commit my reputation to. I am sometimes obliged to make a bonnet for them, but I never sign it. I have my name removed from the lining, and so edit the thing anonymously. It would compromise me irremediably if my signature were seen on some of your country-women’s heads!”

Mrs. Clifford, awakened to the responsibility she was about to incur, promised to consult the artist instead of her Scotch maid; whereupon Madame Folibel handed her a large card which bore the name Monsieur de Bysterveld and his address. Under both was a note setting forth his capillary capabilities, and informing the public that—

“Monsieur de Bysterveld undertakes to prove that it is possible to become a hair-dresser and yet remain a gentleman.”

The modiste then assisted Mrs. Clifford to tie on her bonnet, observing, while she smoothed out the ribbon carefully as if trying to make the best of a bad case:

“I am glad for her own sake that madame has consented to give up that peigne à galerie. It really is an injustice to her head, and it is simply out of the question her having a chapeau convenable while that impediment exists. Madame will be quite another person,” she continued, addressing Mr. Clifford. “Monsieur will not recognize her with a new chignon and in a bonnet of mine.”

“Oh! then I protest,” said Mr. Clifford dryly; he understood French, but did not speak it—“I protest against both the chignon and the bonnet, madame.”

Plaît-il, monsieur?” said Madame Folibel, looking from one to the other of us.

“Dear Walter! she means I shall be so much improved,” explained the wife, laughing.

“Improved!” repeated Mr. Clifford, not lifting his eye-brows, but writing incredulity on every line of his face.

His wife blushed, and her eyes rested on his for a moment. Then, turning quickly to Madame Folibel, she made some final arrangement about a meeting for the following day.

Just at this juncture Berthe came back. I was glad she was not there in time to catch the absurd little passage between the two. A husband paying a compliment to his wife, and she blushing under it after a ten years’ ménage, would have been a delicious morsel of the ridicule anglais that Berthe could not have withstood; it would have diverted her salon for a week.

“Well?” she said, five notes of interrogation plainly adding: “Are you ever going to have done?”

C’est décidé,” answered Madame Folibel, coming forward with an air of triumph. “Madame sacrifices the comb!”

“Excellent!” exclaimed Berthe. “I congratulate you, chère madame. Even mentally, you will be the better of it. For my part, I know no little misery more demoralizing than an unbecoming bonnet.”

We all went down-stairs together, but at the street-door we parted from the Cliffords.

“Where are you going now?” asked Berthe.

“To the réunion at the Rue de Monceau,” I said.[192] “I got the faire-part last night, and I want particularly to be there to try and get a child into the Succursale school. There is only one vacancy, and we are six trying for it, so I fear my little protégée has small chance of success. Come and give me your vote, Berthe.”

Chérie, I would with pleasure, but I am so dreadfully busy this afternoon: I promised La Princesse M—— to look in during the rehearsal at her house; and then I’ve not been to Madame de B——’s for an age, and I almost swore I’d go to-day.”

“Well, what’s to prevent your going afterwards?” I cried. “It’s not yet four, and the réunion does not last more than an hour. Monsieur le Curé arrives at a quarter-past four, and leaves at five.”

“But one is bored to death waiting for him,” argued Berthe, “and the room is so hot chez les bonnes sœurs, and there won’t be a cat there to-day, I’m sure; everybody is at the skating.”

“Oh! the parish and the skating don’t interfere with each other,” I cried, laughing; “but I see you can’t come, so good-by. I must be off. Mademoiselle de Galliac will be waiting for me.”

Comment! Is la petite to be there? I particularly want to see her. I want to know how her snow-storm costume went off at the Marine, for in the crowd I never caught sight of her. Chère amie, I’ll go with you to Monceau. After all,” she continued, drawing a long sigh as we stepped into her carriage, “this life won’t last for ever; one must think now and then of one’s poor soul.”

We were a little behind our time for the canvassing. Four of my rivals were before me in the field, and had robbed me of a few votes that I might have received by being there a quarter of an hour sooner.

“Now, Berthe,” I cried, “it’s your fault, so you must bestir yourself to help me. Attack those young girls in the window, and persuade them to vote for my child.”

“Who are they?”

“I don’t know—go and ask them.”

Berthe charged valiantly at the group in the window, introducing herself by embracing the young girls all round, and declaring her perfect confidence in their support. They gathered round her, fascinated at once by her beauty and her frank, attractive manner. I saw at a glance that the votes were safe, and that I had no need to bring up reinforcements in that quarter, so I set to work elsewhere.

Perhaps it would interest my readers to hear something of the good work itself. Its object is to take charge of orphans of the poorest class, clothe, feed, and educate them till the age of twenty-one. The members are exclusively ladies, married or single. To be a member, it is necessary to be a parishioner, to pay a small sum yearly for the maintenance of the confraternity, and to assist at the monthly meetings, where the wants, plans, and progress of the work are discussed in presence of the curé, who is always president, and another parish clergyman elected directeur, the rest of the board—treasurer, secretary, and vice-president—being chosen from amongst the members. When an orphan is proposed for admission, a written statement giving her birth, parentage, and circumstances, and setting forth the special claims of her case, is placed on the green table of the assembly-room, at which the dignitaries preside during the meeting. This preliminary fulfilled, the next step is to secure the votes of the confraternity. The demand being always much greater than the supply, when a vacancy occurs it is sure to be sharply contested. A zealous patroness takes care[193] to canvass beforehand; but, from one circumstance or another, there are always a good many votes still to be disposed of on the day of the election, and the half-hour that elapses from the opening of the assembly to the arrival of the curé is spent in fighting for them, and presents a scene of interesting excitement. The patroness is looked upon as the mother of the little petitioner, who, once admitted into the orphanage, is called her “child.” Those who are long members and very zealous succeed in getting in many orphans, and thus become mothers of a numerous family. The most devoted of these mothers are generally the young girls. The way in which some of their hearts go out to their adopted children is touching and beautiful beyond description. They seem to anticipate their joys and cares, and to invest themselves with something of motherhood in their relations with the little outcasts, who look to them for help in a world where, but for them, they would apparently have no right to be—where no one cares for them, no one loves them, except the great Father who suffers the little ones to come to him, and will not have them sent away.

Every month the sœurs send in a special bulletin of the conduct and health of each child, addressed to the adopted mother, and read by Monsieur le Curé at the meeting. According to the contents of the bulletin, the mothers are congratulated or the reverse. Little presents are sent to the good children, and letters of reproval written to the naughty ones. In this way, the maternal character is kept up till the children leave the shelter of their convent home. Then the mothers assist in placing them as servants or apprentices, or, better still, in getting them respectably married.

While Berthe was getting up votes for me on her side, I was busy on my own, and when the bell rang, announcing, as we thought, Monsieur le Curé, I had a pretty good poll.

The buzz of talk subsided suddenly; the high functionaries broke away from the humbler participants, and took their places at the green table, near the fauteuils, waiting for the curé and the vicaire. Some of the very young mothers looked eager and flurried. One in particular, who was a rival candidate with me, seemed terribly nervous. She was about seventeen. Two young mothers on either side of her were speaking words of encouragement and trying to keep up her hopes. “You must pray hard for my success,” I heard her say to one of them; “the poor old grandfather will break his heart if Jeannette is refused. He can’t take her into Les Vieillards, even if it were not against the rules, because he hasn’t a crust of bread to give her. He has nothing but what the sœurs give him for himself. Oh! do pray hard that I may succeed!”

“Let us say another Pater and Ave before Monsieur le Curé comes in,” suggested her companions; and the three friends lowered their voices, and sent up their pure young hearts together in a last appeal to the Father of the fatherless in behalf of the little orphan.

The door opened. It was not Monsieur le Curé.

Ah, bonjour, cher ange!” exclaimed Madame de Bérac, embracing Berthe with effusion, and talking as low as if she were “receiving” in her own salon. “What a charming surprise to meet you! I came to vote for Marguerite’s protégée, and see how my dévouement is crowned!”

I expressed my satisfaction at virtue’s proving in this case its own reward.


“But why have I not seen you before?” inquired Berthe. “I did not even know you were in town.”

“I hardly know it yet myself,” replied Madame de Bérac. “I only arrived last night. Marguerite wrote to me imploring me to be here if I could in time to vote for her. Chère aimée,” she continued, turning to me, “till you reminded me of it, I actually forgot I was a member at all!”

“Well, now that you are in town, you mean to stay?” said Berthe.

Hélas, I only remain a week.”

“But you said you meant to spend the carnival here?”

“When I said so, I believed it.”

“And what has changed your plans?” I inquired.

Madame shrugged her shoulders. “My husband has been so impolite as to tell me that he has no money! One cannot stay in Paris without money.”

Quel homme!” exclaimed Berthe, with a look of pity and disgust.

The door opened again. This time it was the curé. After the usual blessing and prayer, he declared the séance opened, and read the reports of the board and the bulletins. These matters disposed of, the business of the election began at once. A brisk cross-examination soon put four candidates hors de concours. Two had fathers who could support them, but wouldn’t. The confraternity found the children not qualified for its charge. Two others were not parishioners of St. Philippe du Roule. Of the six who had started, two therefore only remained in the field. One was mine, the other was the protégée of the young girl whose conversation I had just overheard. We were to divide the votes between us. Our respective orphans had the necessary qualifications. It only remained to see which of the two, as the more destitute, could establish the primary claim on the protection of the confraternity. Mine was ten years of age. She had two tiny brothers and a sister some five years older than herself who, since the death of their mother, six months ago, had supported the whole family by working as a blanchisseuse de fin by day, and as a lingère half the night. But the bread-winner gave way under the load of work, and now lay sick at the hospital, while the brothers and the sister, clinging to each other in a fireless garret, cried out for bread to the rich brothers who could not hear them. The Curé de Ste. Clothilde had promised to find shelter for the boys; but what was to be done with the girl? I had stated these plain facts in the petition, and now verbally recommended the case to the compassion of the members, and once again asked for their votes.

My rival’s child was twelve years of age. She had no brothers or sisters. She was utterly destitute, but in good health, and nearly of an age to support herself.

Monsieur le Curé listened to the two cases, and, when he had heard both, his judgment seemed strongly impressed in favor of mine.

In spite of the interest I felt in my poor little protégée, I could not help regretting the impending failure of my young competitor opposite. She had answered the curé’s questions in short, nervous monosyllables, and now sat drinking in every word he said, two fever-spots burning on her cheeks, while her eyes swam with tears that all her efforts failed to suppress. A face of seventeen is always interesting; but in this one there was something more than the mere attractiveness of early youth and innocence. There was an eager, awakened expression in the clear blue eyes, and a sensitive play about[195] the grave, full lips that one seldom sees in so young a face. She was simply, almost quaintly dressed as contrasted with the costly elegance of most of the dresses around her. The black bonnet with the wreath of violets resting on the fair hair, and the neat but perfectly plain black reps costume, bespoke not poverty, but the very strictest economy.

“To the vote, mesdames,” said the curé. “I fear, Mademoiselle Hélène, you have a bad chance.”

“O Monsieur le Curé!” burst from Hélène, “her poor old grandfather will die of disappointment.”

“My poor child, I hope not,” said the curé, evidently touched by her distress, but unable to repress a smile at this extreme view. “Your protegée’s having a grandfather is indeed an advantage on the wrong side.”

“He’s blind, Monsieur le Curé! and paralyzed! and eighty-six years old!” urged Hélène, gaining courage from desperation, “and his one prayer is to see the petite safe somewhere before he dies. O Monsieur le Curé!—” She stopped, the big tears rolling down her cheeks.

Voyons!” said the good old pastor, rubbing his nose, and fidgeting at his spectacles. “Let us take the vote, and then we shall see. You have a child already, have you not, mademoiselle?”

“Yes, Monsieur le Curé; I have two, but one is in the country, at the Succursale.”

The votes were taken, and, by a very small majority, I carried it. My voters congratulated me, while Hélène’s friends crowded round her, condoling. But the poor child would not be comforted; overcome by the previous emotion and the final disappointment, she sobbed as if her heart would break.

“Oh! really, it’s too cruel to let that dear child be disappointed,” said Berthe. “Can’t we do something, Monsieur le Curé? Can’t we by any possibility squeeze in another child?”

“Nothing easier, madame; you have only to create a new bourse, or get subscribers to the amount of three hundred francs a year for the term of the child’s education,” replied Monsieur le Curé.

“Then I subscribe for two years down,” said Berthe impulsively. “Who follows suit?”

“I do,” said another speaker; “I will subscribe for one year!”

“And I will give forty francs,” said a third.

“And I a hundred,” said the curé, who was always to the fore when a good work was to be helped on.

In a few minutes, the green table glistened with gold pieces and notes. It was all done so quickly that Hélène had not had time to ask what it was all about, when Berthe ran up to her with the good news that her child was taken in, and, embracing her tenderly, bade her dry her tears.

“How good you are, madame!” said the young girl, returning her caress with fervor; “but I knew you were good; you have the face of an angel!”

“It is better to have the heart of one,” said Berthe, laughing, and hastily rubbing a dew-drop from her own fair face.

“Now, I must make haste away, or I shall be late for my lesson,” said Hélène, after thanking the members who gathered about her, this time embracing and congratulating.

“What lesson are you going to take, ma petite?” inquired Berthe affectionately.

“I am going to give one, madame,” replied Hélène. “I live by giving music lessons.”


“Then you must come and give me some,” said Berthe. “Here is my address. Come to me to-morrow as early as you can.”

“You are not sorry I made you come, are you, Berthe?” I asked, as we went out together.

“Sorry! I would not have missed it for the world.”


Au revoir, à demain soir!” said Berthe, kissing a fair-haired young girl, and conducting her to the door.

“What a sweet face! Whose is it?” inquired Madame de Beaucœur.

“Hélène de Karodel’s. Her character is sweeter still than her face. I have fallen quite in love with her,” said Berthe. And she related the story of their meeting at the réunion de Monceau, and the acquaintance that had followed.

“It is a fine old Breton name, and used to be a very wealthy one. How comes she to be earning her bread, poor child?”

“The old story,” said Berthe. “General de Karodel mismanaged his property, took to speculation by way of mending matters, and of course lost everything. He died, leaving a widow and three children to do the best they could with his pension, about a thousand francs a year. Hélène is the eldest, and what she earns pays for the education of the second sister.”

“But the rest of the family are well off. Why don’t they do something for them?” demanded Madame de Beaucœur.

“Rich relations are not given much to helping poor ones,” replied Berthe; “besides, these Karodels are as proud as Lucifer, and benefits are pills that a proud spirit finds it difficult to swallow; it takes a good deal of love to gild them.”

“Very true!” And dismissing Hélène de Karodel with a sigh, “Chère amie” said Madame de Beaucœur, “I am come to ask you to do me a service.”

Her presence indeed at so early an hour (it was not much past one) on Berthe’s “day” suggested something more important than an ordinary visit. A “day” is a thing that deserves to be noticed amongst the institutions of modern Paris life. Everybody has a day. Women in society have one from necessity, for the convenience of their visitors whose name is Legion. Women not in society have one because they like to be included amongst those with whom it is a necessity. The former speak of their day as “mon jour” and as a rule hate it, because it ties them down to stay one day in the week at home. The latter speak of it as “mon jour de réception,” and glory in it. For the former it is a mere episode, an occasion amongst many for toilette and gossip, mostly of the Grandhomme and Folibel kind, but often of a more serious character, sometimes even of conversation on such grave topics as politics, science, and theology. For the latter, it is a grand opportunity for dress, and dulness, and weary expectation. Madame, attired in state, sits on her sofa like patience on a monument, smiling, not on grief, but on hope—hope of visitors, who come like angels, few and far between. Woe be unto the false or foolish friend who, under any pretence of business, or kind inquiries, or lack of time, should pass by this day of days, and call on some insignificant[197] day, when neither madame, nor the salon, nor the valet-de-chambre is in toilette to receive him!

But it is not into one of these dreary Saharas that we have strayed. Berthe’s day is as busy as a fair. So great is the concourse of visitors that, although the reception begins officially at three, the rooms begin to fill soon after two, those who really want to speak to her alleging, as an excuse for forcing the consigne, that, when la cour et la ville are there, it is a sheer impossibility to get a word with her.

“A service!” repeated Berthe. “I hope it is not too good to be true.”

Toujours charmante!” Madame de Beaucœur took her hand and pressed it. “But the favor I am going to ask does not directly concern myself. You know Madame de Chassedot?”

“Slightly; I meet her here and there; we bow, but we don’t speak.”

“She has deputed me to speak for her to-day. Do you know her son at all?”

“A fair youth, tall and good-looking?”


“I think I danced with him at the Marine, the other night,” said Berthe reflectively.

“Then you know him at his best; he dances divinely; but I believe that is the only thing he excels in,” observed Madame de Beaucœur.

“He is very stupid?” said Berthe interrogatively.

“Not very. Simply stupid. But he is, as you know, good-looking, and, what is more to the purpose, of good family and very well off. He is heir to his uncle, and so will one day have two of the finest châteaux in France, each representing two millions of money. The paternal millions have grown thin since the old gentleman’s death, but the uncle’s will replenish them soon; he cannot last long, he is in bad health and seventy-six years of age. So the marquis is safe to be at the head of a very handsome fortune by the time he has settled down.”

“Meanwhile?” said Berthe, pretending not to see the drift of these preliminaries.

“Meanwhile, his mother is very anxious to marry him. She spoke confidentially to me about it, and begged me to look out for a wife for her. I promised I would do my best. Like all mothers-in-law, she wants perfection. Sixteen quarterings en règle, that is understood; equal fortune of course; but, although Edgar’s present and future fortune is nominally four millions, as he has compromised one million, she would count it as not existing, and only exact three millions with his wife. This is carrying on matters on a grand scale?” And Madame de Beaucœur waited for Berthe’s approval.

“How did he compromise the odd million?” inquired Berthe evasively.

Mais, mon Dieu! One must not examine too closely!” replied Madame de Beaucœur, smiling at the naïveté of the question.

“And besides these?” said Berthe.

“The girl must be pretty, and well brought up. I must tell you, my dear,” continued the lady, with a sort of diffidence as if conscious that she was about to state some ludicrous or damaging fact, “that the mother-in-law is very pious, and she holds very much to having a daughter-in-law who is so also. Otherwise she is the best woman in the world, very intelligent, and will do all in her power to make her son’s wife happy.”

“And the son himself? You have not said much about him. How far does he pledge himself to the same end?”

“Ah! there is the difficulty!” said[198] Madame de Beaucœur. “Unfortunately he won’t hear of being married at all. The moment his mother speaks of it, he either turns it off in a joke, or, if she insists, he gets into a tantrum, flies out of the house, and she doesn’t see him for a week. You can fancy how this complicates the matter for her, poor woman!”

“It certainly is a complication,” observed Berthe.

“And it makes it all the more incumbent on us to try and help her,” resumed the envoy. “So I have come to enlist your offices in her behalf. I promised her she might count on you, chère amie. Did I promise too much?”

“If you promised her that I would marry her son for her, nolens volens, you decidedly did,” answered Berthe, laughing ironically.

“Oh! I did not go that length,” protested Madame de Beaucœur, nettled, but laughing heartily to hide her pique. “I only said that you were more likely than any other woman in Paris to know the girl who united all these conditions, and that, if you knew her, you would give Madame de Chassedot an opportunity of meeting her.”

“And how about Madame Chassedot meeting her?” demanded Berthe perversely. “After all, the contracting powers must look each other in the face at least once before they are brought to swear eternal love and duty before Monsieur le Maire, and if this inconvenient young man flies out the room at the bare mention of such a catastrophe—dear madame, I have the highest opinion of your diplomatic powers, but, believe me, this enterprise is beyond their compass.”

“Leave that to his mother,” said Madame de Beaucœur. “She is equal to it. If you find the missing element, and give her a chance of managing it, the issue is certain.”

Berthe was going to reply when the door opened, and the Princess de M—— was announced. When the usual greeting had subsided, the three ladies entered on the foremost questions of the day, viz., the salon, the cholera, and the new comedy called La Beauté du Diable that was setting all Paris by the ears.

The trio were not long alone. The rooms were filling rapidly, but the new-comers, instead of checking the conversation, enlivened it, every fresh arrival falling in with the current and propelling it.

“The Empress does not believe it to be contagious, and holds it of primary importance that the popular belief to the contrary should be practically repudiated,” said an old senator, who joined the circle while the cholera was on the tapis, “This was the chief motive of her visit to Amiens. I have just been to the Tuileries, and heard the account of it.”

“Racontez, monsieur, racontez!” exclaimed Berthe, recognizing his white hairs by making room for him on the sofa beside her.

“You honor me too highly, madame!” said the old courtier, bending to his knees before he assumed the place of distinction. “I should have at least run the gantlet with the plague to deserve to be so favored. You are aware,” he continued in a more serious tone,[199] “that it was raging furiously at Amiens. The townspeople became so panic-stricken that the victims were deserted the moment they were seized. Every house was closed. No one walked abroad for fear of rubbing against some infected thing or person. Except the sisters of charity going in and out of the condemned houses and hospitals, there was hardly a soul to be seen in the streets. In fact, it threatened to be a second edition of the plague in Milan. The Empress, hearing all this, suddenly announced her intention of visiting the city. The Emperor strongly opposed the project, and her ladies seconded him, being very loth to run the risk of accompanying her majesty. The Empress, however, held her own against them all, like a Spaniard and a woman, said she would have no one run any risk on her account, and declared herself determined to go alone. Two of her ladies, to save their credit, thereupon volunteered to go with her. They started by the first train next day, and returned the same evening, not at all the worse for the journey.”

“I dare say,” remarked a young crévé, a furious Legitimist, who always spoke of the Emperor as ce gaillard là, and who would have as soon dined with his concierge as at the Tuileries. “They made a tour in a close carriage round the town, and took precious care to keep clear of the dangerous quarters.”

“I have the word of her majesty to the contrary, monsieur. She visited the wards, inquired minutely into their organization, and spoke to several of the sufferers. The equerry who accompanied her told me that she held the hand of one poor fellow who was dying, and stooped down, putting her ear close to his lips to hear something he had to say about his little children: there were three of them, their mother had died that morning, and now they were going to be quite destitute. The Empress sent for them, embraced them in the presence of the father, and promised to take care of them. He expired soon after blessing her, as you may imagine.”

“She has a noble heart!” murmured Berthe, while a tear stood in her eye.

“Comédie, haute comédie!” sneered the crévé de faubourg.

“A stroke of policy, rather,” observed a Deputy du Centre, stroking his beard.

“A comedian’s policy!” said a Deputy de la Gauche; “but it is time and trouble lost, the people are no longer duped by that sort of charlatanism.”

“Say, rather, the people are tired of peace and prosperity, and want a change at any cost,” said the Princess de M——. “You are the most unmanageable people under the sun. The wonder is, how any one can be found willing to govern you.”

“That is quite true,” assented Berthe, whose politics, of no absolute color, leaned towards Imperialism, partly because it was the established order of things, and partly because the court was pleasant and its hospitalities magnificent. “We are an unruly nation; but whatever one thinks of the Empire, it is ungrateful and unjust not to give the Empress credit at least for good intentions in this visit to Amiens. It was an act of heroic charity and courage, and that there was as much wisdom as charity in it is proved by the fact that the pestilence has decreased sensibly from the very day of her visit.”

“O madame, madame!” protested the crévé and the two deputies in chorus.

“The bulletins of the last week are there to prove it,” affirmed Berthe.

“Where were they fabricated?” demanded the Deputy de la Gauche. “Perhaps Monsieur de Taitout could tell us?” Monsieur de Taitout was Chef de Cabinet at the Ministry of the Interior.

“They were issued at Amiens by the medical men of the hospitals and by the Commission of Public Health, I presume,” replied the ministerial functionary with repellent hauteur.


“They had at least a roll of red ribbon apiece in return for their satisfactory bulletins!” pursued the Deputy de la Gauche, with supercilious irony.

“You are evidently well informed, monsieur,” replied the Chef de l’Intérieur, provoked by the persiflage; and darting a glance of peculiar meaning at the deputy, “We may infer that you are in the confidence of the Minister of Police?”

The deputy bit his lip and reddened, while a suppressed titter ran through the company. This suspicion of complicity with the police, which the established system of compression and its inevitable consequence, espionage, engendered too readily, was apt to fall sometimes on the most unlikely subjects; in the present instance, however, it was all the more mortifying because public rumor had paved the way for credulity by ascribing the violent antagonism of the Deputy de la Gauche to the fact of his having been disappointed in obtaining a prefecture under the existing government. But Berthe, though she disliked and mistrusted him, was annoyed that he should be made uncomfortable in her salon. She disapproved of the turn the conversation was taking, and by way of diverting it, without breaking off too precipitately from the subject under discussion, she said, addressing an academician who had just joined the circle:

“Is it not quite possible, admitting panic to be the first condition of contagion, that the presence of the Empress in the midst of the sick and the dying may have had such an effect on the morale of the people as could sufficiently explain the immediate decrease in the number of deaths? Instruct us, Monsieur le Philosophe!”

“Madame, I come here to learn rather than to teach,” replied the man of science with the gallantry of his threescore years and ten; “but, since you do me the honor to ask my opinion, I confess that it has the good grace to agree with your own. The people were imbued with the belief that to breathe the infected atmosphere was to die. The Empress, of her own free impulse, came boldly into the midst of it, stood among the dying and the dead, breathed long draughts of contagion, and did not die. Therefore contagion is a fallacy, and panic, instead of killing, is forthwith killed.”

“Your therefore, monsieur, is admirable,” said the Princess de M——, tapping her parasol on the arm of her chair. “Now, let us have a truce of the plague, and talk of something else.”

“Yes,” said Berthe, “or else talking may raise a panic, and we shall all catch it. Have you been lately to the theatre, monsieur?”

“I went last night to see La Beauté du Diable,” replied the philosopher.

“Ah! And what did you think of it?”

“I think, madame—que la France est bien malade,” said the old man gravely.

“One need not be un des quarante to find that out,” remarked the Deputy de la Gauche with a sneer.

“Is it so very bad?” inquired Berthe, turning a deaf ear to the uncivil commentary.

“It is so bad,” replied the academician,[201] “that, if I had not seen it with my own eyes and heard it with my own ears, I could not have believed that the French drama and the French public could have fallen so low. I asked myself whether I was in Paris or in Sodom. From first to last the piece is a tissue of license and blasphemy, for which I could find no parallel, even approximately, in the most ribald productions of ancient or modern literature.”

“Dear me!” exclaimed Berthe, “you quite horrify me. Why, we had just arranged a partie fine to go and see it!”

“Take an old man’s advice, madame—don’t go,” said the academician impressively.

“It all depends,” said the Princess de M——, twirling her parasol, and lolling back in the luxurious fauteuil, “if one is prepared to risk it. I am for my part!”

The philosopher bowed to the lady, but offered no comment.

“Why does the Censure permit such bad comedies to be played?” asked Madame de Beaucœur. “I thought the reason for its existence was the protection of the public morals?”

“Political morals rather, madame,” corrected the Deputy de la Gauche, with an air of mock solemnity, “and it is most conscientious in the discharge of that duty. An irreverent insinuation against the government suffices to bring down anathemas on a comedy or a drama from which no amount of talent can redeem it. My friend Henri —— has just had a chef-d’œuvre, the result of a whole year’s labor, rejected on the plea that some odd passages, which cannot be removed without changing the whole plan, might be construed by sensitive Imperialists into a hit at the dynasty.”

“The judges would serve the dynasty better by exercising a little wholesome restraint over what may prove more fatal to it in the long run than even servile flattery,” observed the philosopher. “What think you, M. le Sénateur?”

“Que voulez-vous?” The senator shrugged his shoulders. “One must reckon with human nature; you cannot lock it in on every side. If you don’t leave a safety-valve to let off the superfluous steam, the ship will blow up.”

“Take care the valve does not turn out to be a leak, or the ship may sink!” replied the academician. “Our press and our literature are eating into the very marrow of the nation’s heart, and rotting it. The people are taught to scoff at everything—to make a jest of everything, human and divine. Nothing is sacred to the venal scribes who pander to the base passions of humanity, and prey upon its vices and its follies. When public morality has come to such a pass that one of the first writers of the day publicly vindicates the devil’s claim to our respect and pity as ‘an unsuccessful revolutionist,’ and when one of the last writes and prints such a sentence as, ‘I grant you the good God, but leave me the devil!’ and that the cynical blasphemy calls out no stronger comment than a laugh or a shrug—when, I say, we have come to this pitch of progress and civilization, it is time the ship’s hold were looked to.”

“I grant you they are dangerous symptoms,” assented the senator, shaking his head, and preparing a pinch from his enamelled snuff-box.

“A much more ominous symptom, to my mind, is that the nation is dreadfully ennuyée,” observed the Deputy du Centre, with a weighty emphasis on the adverb. “When France ennuies herself, it is time to cry, Take care.”

“Who is to take care?” said the Princess de M——.

“The government, madame. We have had this one eighteen years now; three years beyond the lease usually granted to governments in France, and the people are thoroughly tired of it. Paris especially is ennuyée of late.”

“Paris is always ennuyée unless she has a war, or an exhibition, or some kind of a carnival, to keep her in good humor,” said Berthe;[202] “but Paris is not France.”

“Pardon, madame, Paris c’est le monde!” replied M. du Centre, in melodramatic accent.

“Le monde, non,” retorted Madame de M——; “le demi-monde peut-être.”

There was a general laugh at this sortie of the princess, and before it subsided a group of new arrivals, amongst whom were the Snow-Storm and her mother, were ushered in, and broke up the controversy. Several of the company, some who had not spoken a word to Berthe, but had merely made acte de présence in the crowd, withdrew. Madame de Beaucœur and the Princess de M—— remained on.

Quelle charmante jeune fille!” said the former sotto voce to the princess, as Madame de Galliac and her daughter sat down near them. “Who is she?”

“Mademoiselle de Galliac. She is the partie of the season. On dit gives her four millions.”

“Indeed!” And Madame de Beaucœur, on marriageable maids intent, pricked up her ears. “How odd I should not have met her before!”

“She has only lately arrived from Brittany. Our hostess patronizes her very zealously. I suppose she is looking out for a husband for her.”

Madame de Beaucœur made no reply, but committed the remark to her mental note-book. Why had Berthe not suggested this girl to her for Madame de Chassedot? It was the very thing she was looking for. Old name, four millions—one too many, but the inequality was on the right side—beauty, and of course good principles. Madame de Galliac was known to be an excellent woman. How could Berthe have been so disobliging or so thoughtless? Big with a mighty purpose, and unable to resist the need of communicating her ideas, Madame de Beaucœur turned to the Princess de M——, and in the strictest confidence opened her heart to her.

But Madame de M—— was a foreigner, and did not fall in sympathetically with French views on the subject of marriage, and was, moreover, given to call things bluntly by their names.

“A girl with her beauty and money will find plenty of willing purchasers,” she argued, “and I see no conceivable reason for expecting that she will let herself be forced on an unwilling one. There are husbands to be had at every price; she can bid for the best, and the best are already bidding for her.”

“Ah!” said Madame de Beaucœur, alarm mingling with curiosity in the interjection.

“Why, you don’t suppose a prize like that is likely to be twenty-four hours in the Paris market without having scores of the highest bidders fighting for it?”

“How mercenary men are! They are greatly changed since my young day!” Madame de Beaucœur was somewhere between five-and-thirty and forty; but she had been married from school at eighteen, and had heard nothing of sundry interviews between notaires and mothers-in-law, etc., that had preceded the presentation of her fiancé ten days before her marriage.

“Very likely, but in this particular case it strikes me the woman is the mercenary party. You say the young man won’t let himself be married, big dower or little one?” said Madame de M——, laughing, and speaking rather louder than was desirable in the presence of the marketable dower.

“Introduce me to Madame de Galliac,” said her companion, striking a coup d’état on the spot.

The request was complied with, and the two ladies were soon absorbed in each other.


“What shall we do to amuse ourselves this week, chère madame? For Wednesday we have La Beauté du Diable with a diner fin au cabaret, and a petit souper at Tortoni’s; but what shall we do to kill the other three days?” demanded the princess, who had risen to go, and now pounced upon Berthe, who stood taking leave of some guests at the door.

“I haven’t an idea just at present; we will talk it over to-morrow night at Madame de Beaucœur’s. But you must not count on me for Wednesday,” said Berthe, “I have changed my mind about going.”

“What! You are going to play us false!” exclaimed the princess, her ugly but expressive features lighting up with irresistible humor, while her eyes shot out a cold, sardonic glance into Berthe’s. “That old perruque has put you out of conceit with it? But, no! It’s too absurd, ma chère!”

“Absurd or not, I don’t intend to go,” said Berthe resolutely. “I’m not so brave as you are. I do not want to risk myself.”

“But all Paris will laugh at you. They will say you have turned dévote. For mercy’s sake, my child, do not make such a fool of yourself!”

“Paris may say what it likes,” answered Berthe, bridling up, while a blush of defiant pride suffused her cheek. “I despise its gossip, and, in short, I don’t mean to go.”


“Quite seriously.”

The princess lifted her shoulders slowly, and as slowly let them fall.

“Then there is no use in my proposing a little distraction that we were planning, in the shape of an escapade to the Bal de l’Opéra on Saturday night? In dominos and masks, of course?”

“Thank you, I do not want to run the risk,” said Berthe, smiling.

“Adieu!” And Madame de M—— heaved a long sigh. “You will make a charming saint, but I fear I sha’n’t worship the saint as much as I loved——”

“The sinner,” added Berthe, laughing good-humoredly. “Oh! well, I’ve not donned the sackcloth and ashes, so you mustn’t denounce me yet. But don’t suppose,” she continued, seeing Madame de M——’s eyes fixed on her with a puzzled expression, “that I mean to reproach you for amusing yourself. Our positions are widely different. You have your husband to stand between you and evil tongues, and, again, you are not amongst your own people here. Honestly, would you go on at Berlin as you do in Paris?”

“Oh!” The princess threw up her parasol, caught it again, and, laughing out, said, “But Paris is a cabaret, where one does as one likes!” And with this exhaustive apology, she opened the door, and passed out.

Berthe went into the second salon, where some of the earlier visitors had gathered to leave room for new arrivals in the first, but she was hardly seated when the door was again opened, and François announced:

“Le Marquis de Chassedot!”

If he had announced Le Marquis de Carrabas, his mistress could not have been more astonished. Was it a trap that Madame de Beaucœur had laid for him? But, no, Mademoiselle de Galliac’s presence was quite fortuitous, and, moreover, Madame de Beaucœur did not know her, so she could not have had any scheme into which the heiress’ visit adjusted itself to-day.

“You were kind enough to permit me to pay my respects to you, madame,” said the young man, walking up to Berthe, with his hat in both hands, and blushing violently while he doubled himself in two before her.[204] “I hope I am not indiscreet in availing myself so precipitately of the permission?”

Berthe smiled her gracious clemency on the indiscretion, and the gentleman, backing a few steps, carried his hat toward a group of politicians who were shaking hands in the window, and making appointments before separating.

“How extraordinary!” muttered Berthe, laughing to herself at the cool audacity of Monsieur de Chassedot. “I was kind enough to permit him! Perhaps he is under delusion, and mistakes somebody else’s permission for mine. Or perhaps it is a ruse of his mother’s to put him unawares in the way of the three millions?”

But Berthe was wrong. M. de Chassedot really had said something to her between the links of the “ladies’ chain” about placing himself at her feet, and, as she looked very smiling and gracious, he took the smiles for a permission. He had no view in asking it beyond that of being received in the salon of the fashionable beauty, and he was encouraged in presenting himself there by the knowledge that he was sure not to meet his mother. It would be a free territory where he might flit about without being in perpetual dread of falling into some net which the maternal solicitude was constantly setting for him in the salons of her devoted allies.

Madame de Beaucœur did not count amongst those redoubtable beligerents. When she called during the day at his mother’s house, he was never there, and, as the habitués of the marquise’s Tuesday evenings were recruited chiefly amongst the old fogies and devotees of the faubourg, a class of her fellow-creatures whom Madame de Beaucœur carefully avoided, there was no chance of his meeting her there in the evening. It was this precisely that made her mediation so precious to Madame de Chassedot. Edgar was disarmed before her; he did not mistrust her, and when, reconnoitring the company in the adjoining room through the broad glass-panel that divided the salon, he spied her sitting near a very pretty girl, the discovery gave him no shock, and, when Madame de Beaucœur, catching his eye, nodded familiarly to him, he at once made his way toward her, and took up a position behind her chair.

“I should like to go very much,” Madame de Beaucœur said, continuing the conversation with Madame de Galliac, “but I have not been this year since the garden opened. One cannot go without a gentleman, and M. de Beaucœur is always so busy in the evening that he can never accompany me.”

“There are hundreds who would cross swords for the honor of replacing him, madame,” declared M. de Chassedot, stooping over her chair, and throwing all the empressement into his voice and manner that her position as a married woman rendered legitimate.

“Then you shall have the honor without crossing swords for it,” replied the lady. “Come and fetch me to-morrow evening at eight o’clock; unless you are equal to undergoing a diner de ménage with myself and M. de Beaucœur, and in that case come at half-past six.”

“Madame! Such kindness overwhelms me!”

Madame de Beaucœur said au revoir to the heiress and her mother, kissed hand to Berthe in the inner salon, and, granting M. de Chassedot’s request to be allowed to see her to her carriage, they left the room together.

“Who is that young lady who was sitting beside you, madame?” he asked[205] with some curiosity, when they were out of ear-shot on the staircase.

“Mademoiselle de Galliac. Did you never see her before?”

“Yes; but I did not know her name.”

“I ought to have presented you. How stupid of me! She is a nice girl to talk to.”

A l’honneur, madame! to-morrow evening!”

And the carriage rolled off, leaving M. de Chassedot bowing on the sidewalk.

Punctual to the minute, he presented himself in Madame de Beaucœur’s drawing-room as the clock was chiming the half-hour. Monsieur de Beaucœur had, of course, an appointment at the club, which to his infinite regret prevented his accompanying his wife to the Concert Musard, so he remained sipping his café noir, and they set out alone.

The gardens, though only beginning to fill, presented a brilliant, animated appearance. The central pavilion, its roof and pillars girded with light, glowed like the starry temple of an Arabian tale, while from within the orchestra sent forth its melodic stream, now tender and plaintive as the zephyr wooing the rose at midnight, now loud and valiant in the rhythmic dance; balls of light came glistening through the foliage, making the trees stand out in radiant illumination.

But, artistically mindful of the worth of contrast in scenic effect, the light distributed itself so as to leave certain parts of the garden in comparative shade. There, those who shrank from the dazzling glare of the centre could walk and enjoy the scene and the music without inconvenience.

“Why, there is Madame de Galliac, I declare! Let us go and meet her!” said Madame de Beaucœur in delighted surprise, and they walked on quickly. “What an unexpected pleasure, madame! I thought you were going to the opera to-night?”

“So we intended; but there was some mistake about the box; we only found it out at the last moment, and Henriette was so disappointed that, to comfort her, I proposed coming here for an hour,” exclaimed Madame de Galliac.

“Poor child! But I assure you the music here is no despicable compensation. Let us go round by the left; the breeze is blowing from that point,” said Madame Beaucœur, and, without taking the slightest notice of Monsieur de Chassedot, she turned to walked on with Madame de Galliac.

“Madame!” whispered the young man, touching her lightly on the arm, and by a sign intimating that she had left him standing out in the cold.

“Oh! how stupid I am! Allow me to introduce you: le Marquis de Chassedot—la Baronne de Galliac.”

“My daughter, monsieur,” said the latter, pointing to Henriette.

Everybody having bowed to everybody, the party moved on, the young people walking in front of the married women.

Monsieur de Chassedot, serenely unconscious of the cruel snare into which he had fallen, and finding Henriette a lively, unaffected girl, talked away pleasantly, confining himself of course to authorized insipidities, such as the music, the decoration of the gardens, the weather, etc., and making himself, as he could do when he liked, very agreeable.

“Is not that Madame de P——’s voice?” said Henriette, stopping abruptly, and bending her ear in the direction of the sound.

“I think it is. Let us walk on and see,” answered her mother, and they quickened their steps.


Now, though Madame de Beaucœur liked Berthe, and as a rule was delighted to meet her anywhere, on this particular occasion she was the last person in Paris she cared to meet. She could not avoid her, however, without awakening suspicions in the mind of Edgar de Chassedot which might prove fatal to her own benevolent designs on him. When Berthe saw the party, her surprise was great, and, though she said nothing, her face expressed it so naïvely that Henriette, being intelligent, noticed it, and bethought herself that there must be some stronger reason for it than the ostensible one of her mother’s meeting and walking round the garden with Madame de Beaucœur.

Berthe had four gentlemen in attendance on her: a tall, distingué-looking Austrian, who spoke to no one, but shot vinegar out of his eyes at a handsome young Breton on whose arm Berthe leant; a dark Englishman, who made up in vivacity what he lacked in height; and another Englishman, whose notablest idiosyncrasy was an eye-glass that seemed to be a fixture, so faithfully did it stick in the right eye of the wearer, morning, noon, and night. Over and above this guard of honor the beautiful widow was accompanied by Hélène de Karodel. She introduced the two girls, who walked on together, while the gentlemen and the three married women followed.

Hélène and Mademoiselle de Galliac had not proceeded far when Monsieur de Chassedot broke away from the elders, and joined them.

“Mademoiselle,” he said, addressing Hélène, “I have just made a discovery so agreeable that, before I venture to believe it, I must have your corroboration.”

“Indeed!” said Hélène, puzzled at the singular apostrophe. “Couvrez-vous, monsieur.” Edgar remained bare-headed awaiting her answer—“and let us know what this wonderful discovery is.”

“You are the daughter, I am told, of that brave soldier and true gentleman, Christian de Karodel?”

“You have been told the truth,” replied Hélène, her eye moistening with grateful emotion at hearing her father so designated.

“He was my mother’s first cousin, consequently I claim close friendship with you,” resumed the young man.

“And your name is—?”

“Edgar de Chassedot.”

“Ah! we are indeed cousins; but as your family seemed quite to have forgotten the fact, we had almost forgotten it ourselves,” replied Hélène coldly.

“It is not too late for us to remember it, I hope?” said Edgar, imperceptibly emphasizing the us, and throwing a persuasive deference into his tone that subdued Hélène.

“It is strange that you should care; but, since it is so, let us be cousins!” And she held out her hand to him.

Six weeks after this promenade in the Jardin Musard there was a diner de contrat at Madame de Galliac’s. The fiancé wore the full-dress uniform of a chasseur d’Afrique. His bronzed features attested long residence under Algerian skies, and the stars and medals on his breast bore witness that his days had not been wasted there in idle dalliance.

The plot against Monsieur de Chassedot’s liberty had collapsed, to the inexpressible vexation of his mother, who, together with the family lawyer and Madame de Galliac, had arranged all the essentials for his marriage with Henriette’s four millions; but, strange as it may seem, the consent of the young people themselves, when demanded as a final[207] condition, was actually found wanting. It had come to the young lady’s ear that Monsieur de Chassedot was no party to the business, and that, if he let himself be persuaded into marrying her, it would be quite against his will. Mademoiselle de Galliac there and then declared that she would be forced upon no man, were he Roi de France et de Navarre. And so this most eligible union, for want of a bride and a bridegroom, fell through.

Madame de Beaucœur then called to mind a nephew of her husband’s who was serving in Africa. He was two millions short of the requisite figure, but he had ‘de grandes espérances’ and was moreover willing to be married, having positively written to his family stating this fact, and requesting them to look out for a wife for him. Photographs were exchanged, character and principles inquired into, and vouched for satisfactorily—Henriette made this a sine quâ non—and within one month from the day that his aunt opened negotiations with Madame de Galliac, Alexandre de Beaucœur arrived in Paris the affianced husband of Henriette de Galliac. They were presented to each other at a morning reception, and met next day at the diner de contrat. He took her in to dinner, Madame de Galliac whispering to him with an arch smile, as Henriette accepted his arm, “Now pay your addresses!”

The position was an embarrassing one. Monsieur de Beaucœur wished to avail himself of the opportunity to win his bride’s affections, but he was ill at ease, and, the more he strove to find something agreeable to say, the less he succeeded. When dessert was served, however, he took courage, and, bending over Henriette’s wineglass, he murmured timidly in a low tone:

“Mademoiselle, what color will you have your carriage?”

“Blue, monsieur,” the young lady replied in the same low tone.

He bowed, and they relapsed into silence.

This was all that passed between them till they swore before God and man to love each other until death did part them.

It may interest my readers, and it will no doubt surprise them, to hear that this prosaic marriage turned out a singularly happy one. The young man was a gentleman with a conscience and a heart. The girl was sensible, high-principled, and affectionate. They were both sound at heart, and they did their duty by each other. After all, the most romantic union can hardly embark with surer or fairer elements of happiness.





As dim through snowy flakes the dawn
Peered o’er the moorlands frore,
The old, snow-headed Bard, Oisin,[57]
Sat by the convent door.
His chin he propp’d on that clenched hand
Of old in battles feared:
And like a silver flood, far-kenned,
To earth down streamed his beard.
That sun his eyes could see no more
Their thin lids loved to feel:
It rose; and on his cheek a tear
Began to uncongeal.
Then slowly thus he spake: “Three times
This thought has come to me,
Patrick, that I am older thrice
Than I am famed to be:
“For on the ruins of that house,
Once stately to behold,
Where feasted Fionn the King, there sighs
A wood of alders old.
“And on my Oscar’s grave three elms
Have risen; and mouldered three:
And on my Father’s grave, the oak
Is now a hollow tree.
“Patrick, of me they noised a tale,
That down beneath a lake
A hundred years I lived, unchanged,
For a Faery Lady’s sake:
“They said that, home when I returned,
The men I loved were dead;
And that the whiteness fell that hour
Like snow-storm on my head.
“A song of mine—a dream in youth,
That tale, misdeemed for true:
Far other dream was mine in age:
A dream that no man knew.
“For though I sang of things loved well,
I hid the things loved best:
Patrick, to thee that later dream
At last shall be confessed.
“On Gahbra’s field my Oscar fell:
Last died my Father, Fionn:
The wind went o’er their grassy mounds:
I heard it, and lived on.
“I loved no more the lark by Lee
Nor yet the battle-cry;
And therefore in a dell, one day,
I laid me down to die.
“The cold went on into my heart:
Methought that I was dead:
Yet I was ’ware that angels waved
Their wings above my head.
“They said, ‘This man, for Erin’s sake,
Shall tarry here an age,
Till Christ to Erin comes—shall sleep
In this still hermitage:
“‘That so, ere yet that great old time
Is wholly gone and past,
Her manlier with her saintlier day
May blend in bridal fast.
“‘And since of deadly deeds he sang
Above him we will sing
The Death that saved: and we from him
Will keep the gadfly’s wing.
“‘For him an age, for us an hour,
Here, like a cradled child,
Shall sleep the man whose hand was red,
Whose heart was undefiled.’
“Patrick! That vision, was it truth?
Or fancy’s mocking gleam?
That I should tarry till He came—
’Twas not, ’twas not a dream!
“And wondrous is mine age, I know;
For whiter than the thorn
Was this once-honored head before
The men now white were born:
“And on my Oscar’s grave three elms
Have risen: and mouldered three:
And on my father’s grave, the oak
Is now a hollow tree.”
Then said the monks, “His brain is hurt”:
But Patrick said, “They lie!
Thou God that lov’st thy gray-haired child,
Would I for him might die!”
And Patrick cried, “Oisin! the thirst
Of God is in thy breast!
He who has dealt thy heart the wound
Ere long will give it rest!”



Among the pleasant capitals of Europe through which a long tour carried the writer of this sketch, one of the most brilliant is Vienna. It has many associations of genius to consecrate it; Mozart and Beethoven, not to mention many lesser princes of music, found there both home and appreciation; it has been the resort of elegance, the rendezvous of talent, the paradise of diplomacy, even while graver ecclesiastical and historical events have centred in it. It has its old cathedral, which, though disfigured by some unfortunate internal bungling of the style of the Renaissance, nevertheless has not lost its impression of religious solemnity, heightened by the deep, narrow, and sombre choir with the wonderful windows of old stained glass. Inimitable and unapproachable even in its fragmentary state, this old glass is perhaps the most interesting thing in the old church of St. Stephen, if we except the stone pulpit, cunningly carved and placed in a recess of the exterior wall of the building, the pulpit from which, so runs Viennese tradition, the second Crusade was publicly preached. There is among the records of the foundations at St. Stephen’s one that sets forth the desire and prayer of the people, during a pestilence in the middle ages, that a Mass should be daily offered in that church for the cessation of the epidemic. Tradition says that a great wind arose, and the pestilence was stopped. The Mass, however, continues to be said daily, and it certainly is a remarkable fact that there is not one day in the year, summer or winter, wet or dry, when the wind does not blow in Vienna. The Austrian capital, however, has yet more interesting associations for us than are called up by the cathedral, and the many other monuments and chapels by which it is historically distinguished. In the Advent season of 1865, a young Jewish convert preached in the Schotten-Kirche a short course of the most eloquent sermons it has ever been our privilege to hear in any language or any land whatever.

His name is Marie-Bernard Bauer, and his family, of Hungarian descent, is among the most influential and wealthy of those settled in Vienna. The Jews of that city have indisputably as large a share of the talent as of the riches of the country. The oldest brother of young Bauer is one of the greatest bankers in Austria. At an early age, the young Jew, fiery and enthusiastic, and already gifted with singular eloquence, threw himself into the ranks of the Revolution, and became one of its most ardent emissaries. At eighteen, he was entrusted with important missions and considered a rising Freemason. But during his travels he became acquainted with a young Frenchman, a zealous Catholic, whose influence and friendship laid the foundations of his conversion. He visited his friend’s mother, also, who by her example more even than her exhortations contributed to the work of grace begun in his soul by her son’s solicitations. Bauer wore, at the request of these two, a medal of the Immaculate Conception; and we need[212] scarcely remind our Catholic friends of the part this blessed badge fulfilled in the conversion of another illustrious Jew, the Père Marie Ratisbonne, the founder of the Dames de Sion, who has since devoted his life to the instruction and conversion of Jewish girls at Jerusalem. After being fully instructed in the faith, Bauer required nothing but grace to believe. Being at Lyons with several worldly acquaintances, he happened to be standing on a prominent balcony, on the feast of Corpus Christi. The procession of the Blessed Sacrament was to pass below, and they, with cigars in their mouths and mockery in their hearts, were waiting for the pageant. No change came to the young Jew until the canopy under which the priest carried the Divine Host was close beneath the balcony. The change at that moment was lightning-like. Faith entered his heart, or rather—as he himself reluctantly admitted when pressed by his superiors at a later time to lay aside false humility and declare the works of God in his soul—a conviction so absolute that it distanced faith made itself felt throughout his whole being. The same knowledge, so to speak, returned to him many times since while consecrating at Mass, and he said that he could not believe merely, in a matter of which he was so blissfully and unerrably certain. As Jesus passed, Bauer threw himself on his knees and professed himself a Christian. A very short time elapsed before he entered the novitiate of the Carmelite Friars. His mother, who was living in Paris, endeavored to see him, but was refused access to him by his superiors. Later on, when he had passed through the novitiate, he might have seen her, had it not been for the machinations of his family. For five years every friend and relation he had among his own race cruelly ignored him, and he was kept away even from his mother’s death-bed by their relentless sternness. His mother alone never ceased to love him, and had a picture painted of him in his monastic cowl. This portrait hung opposite her bed, and she died with her eyes fixed on it and her hands lovingly stretched out towards it. When after her death he was allowed by his family to visit her chamber, he saw a curtained picture at the foot of the bed, and, drawing the curtain aside, stood face to face with this touching proof of a mother’s undying love. After some time, his fame as a preacher spreading fast, his family received him once more into their circle, and, with strange inconsistency, now made almost an idol of him. During his novitiate, and according to a rule of his order, he used to preach in turn with his fellow-novices in the refectory during meals, at which time the generality of the young men in training for a religious Demosthenes would receive but scant attention from their companions. When Bauer’s turn came, the contrary, however, was observed: the food was untouched, and the young audience sat transfixed, hanging upon the words of their eloquent and gifted companion. From the first his health was delicate; the effort of preaching rendered it weaker day by day, till at length the zealous and impassioned speaker, whom his friends prophesied to be the future Lacordaire, was one day carried fainting from the pulpit, having broken a blood-vessel. A year in Spain and complete rest of mind and body did nothing more than just save his life, and the Holy Father, who was very much interested in the young convert, advised him to leave the Carmelite Order, for the austerity of whose rule his shattered health now rendered[213] him unfit. This paternal advice—or, let us say, command—proved a great trial to the enthusiastic religious; but, bowing to the will of God, he accepted his altered life, and prepared to make it as fruitful in good works as his short monastic career had proved. Although his health precluded him from the exhausting work of preaching long Lenten stations or continued missions, yet, as often as suitable opportunities offered, he was to be found indefatigably working in the pulpit; and we leave it to those who have had the good fortune to hear him, to judge of the loss the Catholic world has sustained in one whose eloquence and fervid enthusiasm rivalled that of Lacordaire, and whose steadfast faith and unerring logic far distanced that of the unhappy Hyacinthe.

In 1865, having already preached before the Emperor of the French in Paris, and been greatly commended by the most distinguished people there, both French and foreigners, he was called to Vienna, where his family resides, and where all his former associates and co-religionists awaited him with the greatest curiosity and interest. The six lectures or discourses he gave in the Schotten-Kirche, opposite his brother’s residence, at which he was an honored and fêted guest, were attended by crowds of his own Jewish friends, besides all the élite of Viennese and foreign society. The impassioned tone of his voice, his closely knit arguments, the air of apostleship about his slight figure and pale, inspired face, the presence of his nearest and dearest relations, and, above all, his own position toward them, in the very centre of his youthful Revolutionary triumphs—all concurred in making this short station of Advent one of thrilling interest. At the end of each sermon, or conférence, as the French say (they were delivered in French, which is like a second mother-tongue to Marie-Bernard Bauer), he addressed a prayer to God, and, while the language of each succeeding discourse increased in sublimity, that of the concluding prayers seemed to take such flights of unparalleled grandeur that the audience could only kneel in motionless attention and unbroken silence for some minutes after the preacher had ceased to speak—the highest tribute, perhaps which an impressed people can offer to an orator. Marie-Bernard Bauer has since received the Roman title of Monsignore, and been appointed chaplain to the Emperor of the French. He accompanied the Empress Eugénie to the opening of the Suez Canal, and preached a magnificent sermon on the occasion, in presence of the assembled potentates. But whatever else he has done, whatever else he may be destined to do in the future, he will scarcely be able to surpass his admirable achievements of the Advent station of 1865, when he became, as it were, the champion and apologist of Christianity before one of those representative Jewish assemblies which contained within itself so much enlightenment, so much talent, and so much successful individuality.

At the time when he preached these sermons, of which we will now endeavor to give some idea, as far as a translation will allow, he was only thirty-six years of age, and his frail, delicate body made him seem even younger. The following is the third in order of the Conférences, and was preached on the 17th of December, 1865. The text is given entire, and the subject, as expressed in the published edition of these sermons, was:


I would fain hope, my brethren,[214] that the two last conférences have contributed, in some degree, to revivify in believing hearts both the energy of faith and the enthusiasm of virtue; that they have cast doubts in doubting hearts, upon the very uncertainty which creates doubt; that they have shed around hearts petrified, so to speak, in the darkness of fleshly bondage, some rays of the twilight which is the forerunner of the full light of God’s grace, and which manifests itself in such hearts through this question, solemnly and shrinkingly put: After all, might I not be in error? Might there not be, despite all, another life, a real responsibility, a moral law, supernatural duties, a judgment, a judge, a God, and this God the God of Christianity?

No matter to what level the Sun of Truth may have attained on the horizon of your inner life, you will allow me, nevertheless, to retrace, in a few short words, the doctrinal substance of the two previous discourses [conférences].

Man, such as we see him, is a fallen being; he is born with the taint of original sin, and if to this, which is the form of evil, he adds—and it is practically inevitable that he should—his own individual sins, which are evil’s natural outgrowth, he does but widen, at each moment of his existence, the abyss that parted him from God since the very hour of his birth, and which, thus ceaselessly widened, becomes such, at last, that nothing short of a miracle will suffice to bridge it over. Death then, suddenly intervening, cuts short all things here below, and hurls the man whose whole life has been spent without God into the chasm of the unknown. From a phase of being where all is transient, he is hurried to another where all is abiding, and from that instant the separation from God in which he has lived, and which before was transient in its turn, becomes abiding, and from temporal changes to eternal. Such are the conclusions of reason, which, leaning upon faith, point out to us in this eternal separation the fitting seal of an eternal woe.

It would not enter into my design toward the hearers which Providence, having gathered together before me, seems to have specially predestined to hear the words of eternal life from my unworthy lips—it would not, I say, enter into my design to show them these dark spiritual perspectives, without pointing out at the same time some vista of supernatural light, some promise and way of salvation, some hopes of life, nay, even life itself. No! God forbid that I should become as the treacherous guide who draws the lost wayfarer to the very edge of the precipice, and there leaves him to himself and to the terrors of the ravenous depths below. Yet, mark it well!—the mystery of life leads towards death, through paths that skirt a giddy abyss where no man’s self-possession is proof against danger; but there is, nevertheless, an infallible road that leads to life through and in spite of the manacles of death. It is called by a name with which my lips cannot become familiar, as with a common word indifferently bandied about in careless conversation—a name which I confess myself unable even to pronounce without feeling my whole being tremble with love and bow down in worship; a name which, when spoken from this pulpit for the first time, only a few days ago, produced an impression, or rather a mysterious shock, that neither you nor I have yet forgotten—the name of Jesus Christ.

It is of him I come to speak to you to-day. My Father! my Friend! my Master! abide with me, and, in[215] order that I may be worthy to speak of thee, speak thou thyself through these my lips!

Among all questions put by man to his own intellect, whether they be historical, scientific, philosophical, social, or religious, there is none of more gigantic importance than this: Who and what is Jesus Christ? He and his works have been for two thousand years the most notable reality of the universe; they have been inextricably mingled with the course of history, with the family and state relations of man to man, with literature, with poetry, with politics; they have been the unseen link that binds together all social problems; they have been the mainspring of those mysteries that are convulsing the present century, and which are fraught to some minds with terror and threatenings, while to others they suggest hope and salvation. They have been, without the slightest exaggeration, all things to all men, and it follows, therefore, that according to the bent of man’s judgment on Jesus Christ and his works, so will man’s whole nature lean, his intellect with his thoughts, his heart with its feelings, his life with its acts and its shortcomings, his soul with its eternal aspirations.

This is indeed, and beyond all contradiction, the main question of life—that question which, solve it which way you will, cannot fail to produce two radically different types of men, and to open up before us two paths, as far apart from each other through the coming eternity as they are widely separated in the realms of time.

But why do I insist upon the awful importance of this problem? Do you not understand it yourselves? Nay, do you not even bear witness to it by your presence here at this moment? Why are you gathered here—men of the most varied, perhaps the most contradictory, beliefs? Why are you crowded around this pulpit in anxious silence, breathless and motionless, perhaps vaguely troubled in mind? Why but because there is not one amongst you to whom the sacred name of Jesus is wholly indifferent or wholly meaningless! If to some this holy name is the constant object of their highest adoration and of their tenderest, I would fain say the most impassioned, love, to others it is the object of their most agonizing doubts, the spiritual sphinx whose riddle baffles and tortures all ages. And further yet, while this name is to some the synonym of a smothered curse or of a hatred as open as it is relentless, it contains for all men a question of vital importance, I might even say a question of life and death. My brethren, it is of him, who is both so marvellously loved and so marvellously hated, of him whose figure meets us at every turn of the past or the present, of him whom the future cannot uncrown, that I purpose speaking to you to-day.

Every cause which has produced an effect may be considered either in this effect or in itself. Hence, there exist two methods of demonstration: the one beginning from the consideration of the effect, and tracing it up to the cause; the other starting from the study of the cause, and deducing its legitimate effect. We are now about to apply to the great cause and the great effect before us this twofold species of demonstration—this extrinsic and intrinsic touchstone used by our intellect in acquiring its noble treasure of proved facts and tried certainties in the domain of philosophy, metaphysics, history, natural sciences, and, in fact, of every branch of human knowledge. This cause is Christ, this effect Christianity, of which he is the[216] founder; and, since it is natural to the human mind to consider first that which falls more immediately under its own observation, I shall begin by investigating the effect, namely, Christianity. This done, I shall appeal simply to your reason to connect the effect with its cause, and to discern through the beautiful proportions of the Christian system the inimitable stamp of its divine founder.


Every doctrine which has become a fact, every fact which has won for itself a place in history, may be looked at in three ways: first, with regard to its extent in material space; secondly, as to its duration in time; thirdly, as to the depth to which it has reached in human nature. This division is no invention of mine; it is the same pointed out by the Apostle St. Paul when he wrote to the Ephesians, and endeavored to explain to them the length and breadth, the depth and divinity, of the Christian faith: Ut possitis comprehendere cum omnibus sanctis quæ sit latitudo et longitudo, et sublimitas et profundum (Eph. iii. 18).

Now, as to its extent in material space, or, in other words, its territorial sway:

Open the map of the world, and scan the globe with attentive eye: a strange phenomenon will strike you. You will hardly discover one corner of earth where Christianity—and I use the word in this instance in its widest acceptation, excluding neither heresy nor schism, which, though unhappily rebellious, are nevertheless, in a certain sense, real members of the Christian household—where Christianity, therefore, has not penetrated, either in undisputed and irrevocable sway, as in Europe and America, or as a peaceful conqueror, sealing its hardly-won victories not in the blood of its enemies, but in its own. Following closely in the wake of new discoveries, it is for ever landing on new shores, making a home for itself among new populations, and winning new worshippers to bend beneath the ancient sway of the never-aging cross.

You might rise in contradiction to my statement, and remind me that the hour has not yet struck that will allow us, the soldiers of Jesus Christ, to intone the triumphant hosanna of final victory, since to this day there are many lands, many island-studded archipelagoes, many vast and populous continents, beyond the pale of our peaceful conquest, and since, after all, the standard of the cross is not yet securely reared in every clime.

I admit it; but what does this prove? That our task is not yet done? But who denies that? It is not done because time—which is our only limit—is likewise unended, nay, is perhaps only just beginning! For time is the array of all ages, and God alone, who created them, has reckoned their mysterious number. Yes, we confess it, our work is not done, and therefore we are ceaselessly and everywhere laboring; and therefore I myself, a humble but zealous worker, am laboring here at this moment. Those alone who will see the end of time will see the task completed. That which we have done during the twenty centuries that lie behind us is only an earnest of what we will do in future ages, God’s holy grace concurring.

What, my brethren! When we had no ships but frail canoes, and no compass but our untutored eyes; when we had no roads but eternal snows, virgin forests, and trackless deserts, vying with the wild beasts of the wilderness in barring our further progress; when we had no support but barefooted poverty and[217] a pilgrim’s staff; no provision save precarious charity, and no guide save faith, hope undying, and—God; even then we succeeded in crossing rivers and seas, deserts and forests, mountain gorges and Alpine snows, that we might carry to the very confines of the world our living faith and the Word of our God. This ineffable Word has reached further than Alexander, who stopped at the Indus; further than Crassus, whom the Euphrates arrested; further even than Varus, who was stayed by the mighty Rhine—further than all conquerors, and further than all conquests. And can we believe that we have now set our foot on the fated threshold where the angel of evil would be permitted to say to the angel of virtue, as erst the latter was commanded to say it to his fallen brother, to Attila and the barbarian hordes, at the very gates of the Eternal City: “Usque huc venies, sed non ultra”—“Thus far shalt thou come, and no further”? Do not believe it, my brethren; for, on the contrary, it is but now that God’s reign is beginning, and as I believe, so I prophesy to you, with an irresistible and invincible conviction.

Forward, then, O human enterprise! Cleave the mountains, cut through the isthmuses, drain the morasses, and fill up the lakes; cast bridges over the waters, carry roads over the trackless country, build you mighty vessels, throw electric wires in the air, and gird the world with an iron girdle! Let your treaties of commerce and navigation be signed, and embassies sent to nations and kings whose names till yesterday were unknown in the civilized tongues of Europe! Know you what you are doing in thus knitting humanity together, and in connecting, with an energy unexampled in the whole history of the past, the orient and the occident, the pole and the equator? In one mighty embrace their hands are clasped, and they offer to each other, if we may so word it, that gigantic kiss of peace which, day by day, re-echoes more loudly in both hemispheres.

In all this, you are doing under the hand of God that which the war-steed does under the hand that guides him and the spur that urges him on. For, like unto the steed, who hardly knows whence he came, far less where his rapid steps are leading him and what is the burden that he bears—like unto him, thou Christ-blaspheming or God-forgetting age, thou boundest forward with maddening strength, carrying on thy broad shoulders with proud recklessness the rider whom thou scarcely knowest to the goal thou wottest not of. Every invention, every development of thy industry, far from cursing it, I bless it from the depths of my heart! Go forward and prosper! In a hundred years, thanks to thee, Truth will be sovereign of the world!

Christianity is the greatest geographical and territorial fact under the sun. It is so beyond all controversary, and if this fact, which I simply call a miracle, seems to you natural and easy of accomplishment, I only ask you this: try to spread and propagate over the universe, not a whole complicated system of metaphysics, but one single doctrine, whose mortal opponents, in the first instance, shall number every human passion which repulses it as treason against nature, and every heathen government which denounces it as treason against authority. But I will not ask even so much. Endeavor to persuade, not even one single nation, one city, one family, but one man, of the truth of a doctrine at once repulsive to his passions and hostile to his interests. I speak to you as a man whose life is devoted[218] to this sublime and laborious mission of persuasion. And knowing as I do its wonderful consolations as well as the superhuman and apparently fruitless labor it often imposes, I tell you, my brethren, what you yourselves will tell me when the school of reality shall have taught it to you, that Christianity as it exists, spread over the whole earth by the godlike contagion of faith, is simply a fact so overwhelming that the language of men holds but one word fit to express its being—that one word, miracle.

There is, however, one thing more marvellous yet than mere propagation: it is duration, and a duration ever true to itself.

Condense the mystery of life into one short formula, capable at once of holding and adequately expressing it, and you will find none more comprehensive than this—motion and change. From the mass of inanimate being which, in the bowels of the earth and in the bosom of eternal night, is causing, by its agglomerations, its cohesions, and its fusions, a species of constant internal agitation, of blind and feverish restlessness as old as creation itself, up to the most dazzling pinnacles of life, where man figures under every name and in every relation conceivable among mortals, there exists the same law, there reigns the same spirit. In its name, by its authority, we see in private life one day swallowed up by the next, dethroned by its breathless and equally ephemeral successor, doomed beforehand to annihilation, while on the stage of public life events crowd each other out of time and of the memory of man, empires fall, dynasties grow up under the double shield of God’s grace and man’s enthusiasm, frontiers are widened and narrowed, whole nations migrate and spread, and even language itself, though but an outward sign of immaterial substances and metaphysical proportions in no way themselves subject to change, puts on divers forms, as if carried away by an irresistible impulse in the whirl of this universal frenzy. Yes, my brethren, motion is everywhere, and, in order that even death should not be permitted to fling its defiance permanently to life, this law penetrates even to the night and silence of the tomb, pierces the coffin, and installs between its four wooden walls the same unceasing restlessness which torments the great world. Worms, created to prey on man, riot with breathless agitation over the human corpse, and proclaim, by their ghastly activity in the abode of final destruction and in the very bosom of the crowning dread of earth, that life triumphs yet over death, and that the universal law of motion reigns in undisputed sway over that kingdom of darkness that owns no other created sovereignty.

And what is the result of this ceaseless motion? Nothing less than ceaseless change. Motion is a change of relations with the world and with one’s self. There is no motion but causes change, no change but presupposes motion. These terms are convertible, and so it is that I justify what I told you a few moments ago—that the concise formula of life is motion and change. It follows from this demonstration that nothing is so difficult of attainment as duration, and duration true to itself, which is to the sovereign law of motion and change a permanent defiance and a marvellous contradiction.

Let us seek in the vast sepulchre of Time, where during so many ages countless men and things, countless doctrines and institutions, have lost themselves, and in which even the[219] shattered wrecks of once noble ruins, spectres of the past and often unconscious prophets of the future, have been swallowed up—let us seek one man or one created thing that has not succumbed to this pitiless law. Let us seek diligently in the manuscripts of old, in the caverns of forgotten magic, in the tombs of buried sages! Or stay, my brethren, and seek not! For, like unto the alchemist of mediæval ages, we should seek and not find, for that which we seek is not.

But if you would see this tremendous miracle of a duration as invulnerable as it is abiding, lifting up its solitary existence in the midst of universal change and motion, do not gaze afar, but turn your eyes to that tabernacle crowned with the cross, the standard and badge of Catholic Christianity. This, and this alone, abides where all else has been swept away by the ruthless and untiring breath which devours all that is, and ravenously awaits all that, as yet, is not. Christianity, and it alone, has lived true to itself, while all else around it was changing. Like unto God, the impassible and unchangeable, Christianity stands unmoved amidst the countless ruins with which you—men—strew the world. Christianity, with its old principles and its youthful aspect, leans on the rock of its own eternity, and gives the lie to the universal law with unassailable and ineffable calm. Yes, it defies you! It sees you pass, as the shore looks on the lapsing river, as the cliff looks on the ocean, as heaven looks upon earth, and as God looks on man.

It is strange, is it not? It takes our breath away. But this is not all: it is scarcely the beginning. Listen! To bespread over the whole earth is much; to live where all decays is more; to abide ever true to one’s self when all things change is more still. My opponents, however—I will not say my enemies, for, thank God, I know of none—are perhaps saying to themselves at this moment: “But are there not other forms of religion bearing much the same marks, at least in a certain degree? Islamism holds a considerable territorial sway. The Buddhism of India has surely been in a certain sense true to itself from time immemorial.” I do not deny it, for truth needs no dissimulation. And it is precisely on this account, and because error has been permitted to bear in some respects a certain likeness to truth, that it was imperative, for the sake of those men of good-will whom this likeness might have deceived, that truth should possess, besides those notes which she shares with error, other marks so utterly inimitable that on their appearance there could not be but instant recognition of that truth whose counterfeits are as legion, but whose equal does not exist.

The touchstone by which to gauge the worth of any doctrine is neither this doctrine’s extent in space nor its duration in time, nor even its impassibility amid universal transmutations; that is much, but it is not all. What is of more importance than the limits of its influence or the length of its spiritual reign, is the work it has done. There is its secret proof, there its most personal revelation. It can give but what it has, and it can have but what it is; it can produce outwardly but what it inwardly possesses; if it be falsehood, then falsehood; if it be error, then error; if it be evil, then evil; if it be a half-truth, then half-truth; if it be human and natural virtue, then human and natural virtue; but if it be God, then God himself.

Christianity, considered from this point of view, to which we can give[220] but a passing glance, will vindicate itself in our eyes as standing unrivalled on earth, even as God is unrivalled in heaven.

To make my meaning clear, let me present to your minds one preliminary observation.

Man often lives amid the wonders of creation without feeling the slightest curiosity in their regard, and this because a sublime spectacle, from being too constantly before his sight, becomes only a familiar part of the daily monotony of his life. We might almost say of him that, to the abiding miracle of the material universe, he opposes the miracle of abiding indifference. Now, the visible creation contains another, both visible and invisible, and which, though far more wonderful than the material one, yet draws from you, on account of its abidingness, only the careless notice of indifference. Inhabitants of a Christian land, members perhaps of a Christian family, citizens of a Christian community, children, in a word, of Christian civilization, you are living in the midst of a world of miracles which has lost the power to interest you because it fails to surprise you. It is my mission to-day to rouse you from this indifference, to dispel this mist, to show you things as they are.

Look at any Christian country, any Christian or civilized nation of to-day; the country which harbors us at present, if you will. Who were here eighteen, fifteen, fourteen centuries ago? Not even barbarians; savages! Who was it that came and saved you from yourselves? Who was it that drew you from the materialism in which you were plunged in the person of your forefathers, and in which numberless tribes are grovelling still to this day—nations whom Christ has not yet gathered in, and who horrify the sight of the boldest explorers? Who was it that drew you from your forests, built your cities, founded your families, traced your boundaries, inspired your laws, reared your churches, anointed your kings, and created those two centres of light around which for eighteen hundred years your history has grouped itself, and your private sympathies, your public enthusiasm, has revolved—the altar and the throne, fatherland and God? Who has reclaimed your fields, and made fruitful by the labor of the plough the glorious conquests of the sword? Who has preserved in the silence and solitude of the cloisters the scattered remnants of classical learning, and through the Scriptures and traditions has kept alive the plenitude of sacred lore? Who was it that created that incomparable marvel, of which I would fain speak with tears, rather than with words—the Christian Family?—the father, the patriarch, priest, and pontiff of home; the mother, the apostle of God; the Christian virgin, that holy wonder which earth proudly points out to heaven, as if defying even heaven’s angels to surpass it? Who is it that has created virtues without number within sacrifices without name, putting by the side of every woe the voluntary service which will minister to it, giving to every misfortune some heart that will beat for it, and to the most neglected grave a mourner to weep over it? Who is it that has freed the slaves of man to create the slaves of God—those slaves who can say with the humble exultation of a supernatural sacrifice, in the words of the Jew of Tarsus, now become the great Apostle St. Paul: “Ego vinctus pro Christo”—“I, the slave of Christ.” Who is it that has created the ideal of duty and honor which inspired the troubadour and the knight—the ideal of fidelity to the[221] pledged word, of horror at injustice, of the sacred hatred of evil? Who is it that has given you all the goods man prizes, and which you enjoy in ungrateful forgetfulness, while cursing those who accumulated them for you during centuries of untold and weary toil, and even him who won them for your sake on the cross, in a sea of tears and of blood? Who gave you the great gift which this age counts as the kingliest boon of all—the gift whose magical name we fear, not because our lips were the first to pronounce and to honor it here below: freedom—the deliverer from sin and death, from the passions of hell, and from the hell of human passions? Who made you what you are, or what you ought to be—beings regenerated, civilized, free, glorious, sacred—in a word, Christians?

Who, my brethren? Jesus Christ, he who is there present in his tabernacle, he who listens to me, who sees you, and who will judge one day between my word and your souls, between me and you.

And henceforward, when a blasphemy against his Godhead seeks passage on your lips, be it in mockery or in malediction, remember the Caribbean savage and the Red Indian, think of what he is and of what you are, and do not forget that, were it not for Christ, you would be even as that poor savage. If your soul is not yet open to the fulness of faith, at least let it hold its peace if it respects itself.

Christianity in its breadth, its length, and its depth is the principal fact of the world. No sincere and deep intellect, when glancing at this comprehensive whole, can contemplate it without developing in itself a spontaneous doubt, without saying to itself, if it be unhappily far from belief, “Might this not be really the work of God?” But if the simple consideration of the effect, that is, of Christianity, can create this inevitable doubt, what shall we say of the cause which has produced it, and of the relations of the one to the other? What, indeed, save this, that, face to face with this cause, doubt is turned into certainty, and man is irresistibly impelled to cry out, in the full conviction of his soul, that Jesus Christ is God indeed.


What, then, is the cause which has effected this mighty reality, as great as earth, as old as time, as marvellous as heaven, and whose name among us is Christianity? Nineteen hundred years ago, a little Child was borne in an obscure village of a poor country. His parents were poor and of no account; he himself lived a poor man, unknown and unnoticed, save in one or two instances plying during thirty years a lowly trade in a forgotten corner of the world. Of a sudden, however, he breaks silence: he preaches, all untaught as he seemed, a doctrine which earth had never before heard, and confirming it by signs earth had never before seen. Public attention is arrested: he becomes the hero of the hour, and parties spring up for and against him. Two years and a half go by in uneasy peace, but a day comes when his enemies get the upper hand, and denounce him to the civil tribunals of the country, whose cowardly justice, while declaring him to be innocent, yet allows popular prejudice and the threat of imperial displeasure to wrest from it an unwilling condemnation. The innovator is nailed to a gibbet, and his brief history, hardly three years old, seems for ever ended, and ended in what manner? By a sentence of capital[222] punishment, and a memory left stained with ignominy by the hand of the public executioner.

Here, then, is the cause we seek: A Jew! a poor, unknown, untaught Jew! a Jew condemned to a shameful death by the justice of his country, and executed on the public road among other malefactors; a Jew, and, if we dare to say the word, a felon!

Listen and weigh well that which you shall hear. You have seen the cause, you have seen the effect. Between the two rises the great question. How could such a cause produce such an effect? This we purpose to examine in a few words:

There are three explanations from which your choice may be made, and which pretend to connect a cause so radically powerless with an effect so immeasurably disproportionate. They are these: Either mankind has believed for two thousand years and actually believes in Christianity without sufficient reason, without adequate proof. In that case, humanity is mad, and for twenty centuries has been so, and I myself, who am speaking to you, am out of my senses.

Or else mankind believes with fully adequate proof, perfectly calculated to convince it, and yet what it believes is false. In that case, God has deceived us during twenty, forty, sixty centuries, since the beginning of the world. In that case, Providence is a mockery, and its sway over the universe has been from the very first hour of creation but one long mystification, one scornful derision of our human reason. Or again, if you cannot believe either that mankind has mistaken God, or that God has deceived mankind, there is but one hypothesis left, namely, that Jesus Christ is God!

In order that you may choose more deliberately between these three possibilities, it will be necessary to afford them fuller development. The first of these compels you to infer that mankind for the last two thousand years has been bereft of reason, and that at the present moment a considerable portion of it, myself included, is in a hopeless state of insanity.

This may seem to you an exaggerated proposition, got up simply to prop the weakness of an untenable argument, but it is nothing if not an absolute truth, most easy of demonstration. Let us suppose that to-morrow, the 18th of December of the year of grace 1865, there shall enter into this great capital, through one of its numerous gates and towards the dusk of evening, a poor and ragged beggar, the dust of his journey still upon him, and his ignorance of the language of the country painfully conspicuous. Let us suppose this man presenting himself before the populace, the magistracy, the priesthood, the army, and before the Emperor himself, and speaking to him thus: “Sire, a few years ago, your majesty was pleased to order the public execution, in a remote province of the Empire, of a Jew. This Jew was the Messiah, the Saviour, God himself! Therefore, O Cæsar! come down from your throne, bend your knee, be baptized, and confess your sins; for, mark it well, this crucified Jew is none other than your God.” What would you say, my brethren, to the man who should speak thus to-day? You would fitly account him a madman, and madder yet the people and the priesthood, the army and the monarch, who should believe in his wild words.

Well, then, this strange tale is a true one, it is a historical fact. One day, many ages ago, an old Jew, baptized by the name of Peter, entered,[223] a beggar, ragged, and dust-begrimed, through one of the gates of the greatest capital of the mightiest empire of the world—ancient Rome.

In Rome, he actually preached the unheard-of sermon I have just quoted, and which, repeated in that form to-day, would cause only a burst of derision. Why did Rome not mock him? Why did the priesthood not hoot him? Why did Cæsar not scorn him? Why, on the contrary, did this beggar, with his rough staff and scrip, with his barbarous Latin sounding harshly on the ears of those who could yet remember the voice of Cicero on the rostrum—why did he shake the foundations of the mightiest empire of the world, and why, instead of provoking laughter, did the people pale and tremble before him in the Forum, the magistrates quail beneath their robes of office, the priesthood shrink affrighted to their doomed temples, and Nero, the emperor, forget to trust in his blood-stained purple? Why does the deserted Palatine look to-day upon the opposite hill of the Vatican, and behold there a dome whose summit may well be said to seek to scale the heavens—a dome that crowns a tomb, that of the beggar Peter, a tomb which, though but the fane of the dead, is nevertheless the centre of Europe and the world? For this tomb bears a throne at once the most ancient and the most sacred in Europe, the only one which represents an empire whose boundaries are the boundaries of the universe. And why all this? Only because Peter proved by signs and wonders, by miracles wrought both in life and in death, that he spoke indeed in the name of him whom heaven and earth obeyed, because he was their Maker. Because he wrought these signs, his word was believed. And I am free to confess that, had the men of his time believed in him without such an irrefragable proof of his mission, they would have been madmen indeed, and we, who are now the heirs of their faith, would have been only the successors to their folly. For two thousand years, I repeat it, the history of mankind would have been a long dream of insanity, an act of stupendous folly, and, as a climax to this incalculable confusion, there would have sprung from this folly the most incomprehensible of contradictions—wisdom and glory, light and virtue, civilization and progress—in a word, that great wonder which holds all lesser marvels within itself, namely, Christianity.

If I mistake not, your common sense has already set aside this hypothesis as untenable. We admit it, you may say to me; to make mankind believe in the—humanly speaking—unbelievable, there must have been proofs capable of proving and making certain, so to speak, the very impossible itself. We must admit it, unless we accuse the whole world of madness. But if Peter and the apostles, and all the preachers of the Gospel, confirmed their teaching by signs that were accounted miracles, might this not be explained by a chain of fortuitious coincidences, happy accidents, seeming miracles, which are every day elucidated by the progress of investigation until they utterly disappear in the full light of science? A discussion of the nature and essence of the Gospel miracles would be utterly out of place at this moment. I will therefore confine myself to this: if the miracles which, among outward causes, are the principal explanation of the world’s conversion to Christianity, are false, then it is no longer mankind unconsciously duped and led away, but Heaven itself, the deceiver and seducer, whom we must indignantly accuse.


There is no alternative, my brethren: either madness on the part of earth, or crime on the part of heaven. Either man is bereft of reason, or God is no longer just. Either man unknowingly deceives himself, or God wilfully deceives him. Choose ye, therefore!

But in choosing, remember that he who accuses God of having deceived the world, or even of having permitted what is called chance to have so deceived it, blasphemes as much against mankind as against God, and commits such treason against humanity as can never be forgiven by it. To accuse God of having allowed evil to triumph in the plausible likeness of good, and to become, behind this mask, the goal, the light, the glory, the life, the very God of mankind, involves nothing less than the negation of Providence, and the abandonment of the world to the blind god of chance, the savage god of fate, the shadowy god of nothingness. Such an accusation confuses all creation, darkens the sun of understanding, casts history back into chaos, the human intellect into doubt, the human heart into despair. If Providence has betrayed mankind from its cradle, why should it not have betrayed me, individually, from my birth? At the slightest hint of such a doubt, what a fearful horizon looms up before me!

I have believed in him who has numbered every hair of my head; and I have been deceived.

I have believed in the prayer of the poor who ask for daily bread, and in the answer of him who gives it, and in whose sight even the sparrow is not forgotten; and I have been deceived! I have believed in the eloquence of tears shed at the feet and the heart of God; in the blessings of mothers registered in heaven; in the fruitfulness of suffering; in the merit of unknown virtue, and of virtue unknown to itself; in defeats that are glorious and success that is shameful; I have believed in all that showed forth God in man, and man in God! But—grief unspeakable!—I have been deceived, since there is no Providence, since for ages and ages an odious and inexplicable chance has ruled humanity, and forced it, humbled, mystified, levelled with the brute, miserably plunged in a stupid and inconceivable idolatry, to bend the knee to the very dust—before what? before whom? Before a man, a Jew—before a scourged and crucified Jew, whom it hearkens to as an oracle, invokes as a master, and worships as a god.

I have reached a limit beyond which I cannot go, and I stop a moment to ask you: Have we not seen enough of these impossibilities jostling one another, enough of absurdities crowding on our bewildered sight, and, as Scripture words it, of deep calling unto deep?

And yet, if you tear from the brow of Jesus Christ the crowning glory of the Godhead, you will be compelled to admit a thousand times more than this, and not only to admit it, but even to believe it fitting and most rational. You are therefore forced to choose between the human madness that believed in and deified an impostor, the guilty and merciless fraud practised by a God whose seal was thus solemnly set to the most appalling scandal ever witnessed by mankind, or the crowning dogma of the divinity of Jesus Christ, a dogma which alone reconciles and explains all mysteries. When you recross the threshold of this church, you must go forth believers, either in a miracle of folly, a miracle of treachery, or a miracle of mercy and love. Mankind must appear before you[225] either as a regenerated, a deceived, or an idolatrous creation.

What will be your choice? Would to God that at the solemn moment of your decision I might come to each one of you, and on my knees beseech you, through the merits of that Precious Blood which, if you will not let it be your salvation, will most assuredly be your eternal condemnation, and the sign that will doom you to doubt in life, to agony in death, to despair in eternity—beseech you, I repeat it ere you have raised your voice in final decision, to free your soul from the interests that bind it, the human respect that fetters it, the sophisms that lead it astray—in a word, from all the passions of flesh and blood whose watchword is eternal hatred to the truth of God.

Then, and only then, in that freedom from all bondage, in the silence of your inmost hearts, make the choice that will lead you to life or to death.

But what words are these, my brethren? There will be no need of choosing then: the choice will be already made; for, as the sun swiftly reaches the last recess of the deepest cavern the moment the obstacle is removed which has hitherto resisted its light, so does Jesus Christ, the sun of the mind, the incarnate truth, flood with his radiance every soul whose own obstinate efforts do not close it against this blessed transfiguration. Open wide your hearts, my brethren, to this God of love and truth, who has vouchsafed to show himself to you in the brightness of such light and the majesty of such conviction.

And thou, Lord Jesus, who art the truth “that enlighteneth every man that cometh into the world” (St. John i.), let it not come to pass that one soul out of this great assemblage should return this day from the foot of this pulpit to the common turmoil of the world without bearing within itself the ineffable wound of a dawning conviction. And if, O Lord! thou requirest unto this end the sacrifice of a human life, let this day be my last on earth, and this hour the last hour of my mortal pilgrimage.


“It is the child’s spirit that is to be loved and sympathized with, not his body; the body must be pampered as little as possible.”

“Principle must unite with purpose before it becomes practical.”

“Human nature must do as nature does—cling to the sustainer, and then it will be always producing new fruits.”

“We are none the better for reflecting upon our own ideas of heat, but if we would cease reflecting and let the heat warm us, the heat would itself realize what our reflected reflections never can.”

“There is a communion with God, with saints, and also with angels, and then with each other, but this is not in space and time, or with the space and time man.”


“That which Love requires for the everlasting food, the man of this world expends in heaping up rubbish.”




Clement remained a moment thoughtful and undecided. Before obeying his mother’s injunction, he felt the need of collecting his thoughts and regaining his self-control. Whatever strength of mind he might manifest, he was very young to experience such painful emotions as he had endured the past day. He crossed the passage of the stairs that led to Fleurange’s room, then passed on and went directly into the garden. Hitherto he had only thought of his parents. At least, he felt all that morning that, as soon as his father and mother knew everything, a great weight would be removed from his mind which would enable him to breathe quite freely. But the terrible revelation was made, and yet he was not relieved. He was still agitated, painfully agitated. Having passed the whole evening shut up in Wilhelm’s office, reckoning up the sad accounts, he felt the need of fresh air. It was the end of June. The weather was cloudy, and somewhat showery. He walked swiftly to the end of the garden, then returned slowly towards the house, and was about to go in search of the children and his cousin when he heard his name called close behind him:


“Is it you, Gabrielle, here all alone?”

Fleurange was sitting on an obscure bench against the side of the house.

“Yes, I have been here an hour. You are going to tell me everything that has occurred, are you not, Clement? Remain here awhile and tell me. Do not conceal things from me any longer.”

“I do not intend to, Gabrielle, but do not detain me now. Come in, dear cousin. When the children are asleep, I will return and tell you.”

“The children are asleep, Clement, and have been for a long time. It is nearly ten o’clock. Poor little things, do you think they could keep awake till this time? After dinner I took them to the further end of the garden, that their lively prattle might not disturb the house. By eight o’clock they were tired out. I made them go up-stairs, and as soon as they fell asleep I came down to wait for you.”

Had her account been still longer, Clement would not have thought of interrupting her. He made no reply for a while, but at length said:

“Thank you, Gabrielle. You are—” He stopped. He felt an iron grasp at his throat, and feared he should sob like a child if he attempted to speak. With all his manly energy and precocious gravity, Clement’s young heart was passionately tender. And yet he had not been[227] wanting in firmness throughout the day. Why, then, did it seem to abandon him so suddenly now? How happened it that, after considering, without shrinking, all the consequences of the resolution he was the first to make and propose—after manifesting no hesitation at the sight of his parents, and his brother and sister, he now felt terrified and almost overwhelmed at the thought of the sacrifice that had been made, and the great change about to occur in their lives? He hardly knew why himself, for he had not examined very minutely what was passing in his dreams. Clement was naturally inclined to reverie. He cared but little for the amusements of his age. His mind sought relaxation in secretly brooding over the inspirations of poetry. His friends knew he had a good memory and was familiar with a great number of poems, but they did not suspect he had a deep vein of poetry in his nature which ranked next to the influences of religion. This interior life was so completely veiled that the very eye of his mother scarcely penetrated it. Clement’s aptitude for history and the sciences, his turn for practical studies and a practical life, his skill in a thousand things of a material nature, served to conceal still more the other qualities of his mind. They depended on him to train a horse, settle an account, give a lesson in mathematics or history, plan an excursion, or make arrangements for a journey; but the idea of his wandering in imaginary or poetic regions, absorbed and lost in such waking dreams as are expressed in German by the word Schwärmen, and silently passing a part of his life in an interior world to which he never alluded, was little imagined, even by those who knew him best. And perhaps he himself, as we have said, had never thoroughly analyzed his own nature, for until to-day the actual and the imaginary had never come in conflict. But now all at once he felt there was in his ideal world a sanctuary, a palace, a throne, he must resign himself to see crumble away like the rest, and the courage he manifested at the material loss of wealth to its fullest extent seemed to forsake him now in view of the imaginary ruin of this enchanted domain!

Fleurange, seeing her cousin made no reply, waited quietly awhile, but at length she said, somewhat impatiently:

“Come, Clement, I pray you, keep me no longer in suspense. What are you afraid of? Am I a child? Am I not older than you? And did I not learn long ago the sad meaning of sorrow, suffering, and trial? Speak to me freely, then, and without fear. Nothing frightens me.”

Fleurange’s earnestness roused her cousin, and restored his calmness and self-control. Without any further hesitation, he seated himself beside her, and related the greater part of what he had told his mother some hours before. She thus learned in her turn the extent of the disaster which had befallen them—that all due reparation would be made, that the honor of her uncle’s house and name might remain intact, though his brother, Ludwig Dornthal, would be ruined—for ever ruined.

“And your good father and mother have consented to this renunciation of their rights?”

“Yes, and without any hesitation.”

“O dear and noble soul!” cried Fleurange, clasping her hands in her transport. “And it was you who proposed it?”



“O Clement, my dear Clement! truly, I love you as I never loved you before!”

“Gabrielle,” said Clement in a low and trembling voice, “do not say that.”

“Why not?” said Fleurange. “I think so, and it is the truth.”

“Because—because, if they are often to be blamed who are wanting in honor and duty, there is nothing particularly praiseworthy in those who are faithful.”

“Nevertheless, my dear cousin, if I love you better than before, you must not be displeased, but I will not say so again if it offends you.”

There was a moment’s silence. Fleurange was lost in profound reverie. She soon resumed, in a grave tone: “Now I understand the state of affairs, I see our life is to assume an entirely new aspect.”

“Yes, entirely,” said Clement, with a dull anguish.

“This dear Old Mansion,” continued Fleurange, “must it be left?”

“Yes,” said Clement; “it will have to be sold, with all it contains, for the produce of this sale is all my father will have to begin life anew with.”

“Sell the house!” replied Fleurange thoughtfully. “Yes, I see it must be so; and afterwards we shall be separated.”

“And why must that be so?” cried Clement with sudden impetuosity. But he presently resumed in a different tone: “However, it would be very selfish in us to wish to retain you, now we have no longer anything to share with you but our poverty.”

“Clement,” said Fleurange hastily, “that is truly a rude and unjust speech, which I hardly merit—” She stopped an instant, then went on in a tone of emotion: “What! when poverty, misery, and hunger—yes, Clement, hunger!—were staring me in the face, your father bethought himself of me, he invited me here, received me into his house, conferred on me—not a happiness I had already experienced, but one hitherto unknown: he became my father, when mine was no more, and gave me a mother, brothers, and sisters whom I had never possessed. Life, youth, and joy had been meaningless words to me. I only comprehended them after I came under his roof, and now—now,” said she in broken accents, no longer able to restrain her tears, “it is his son—Ludwig Dornthal’s son—who tells me it is to escape the misfortunes of his family that I wish to leave them!”

“Gabrielle! Gabrielle!” said Clement in an agitated manner, “forgive me—have some pity on me. Stop, I beseech you; you will drive me mad, if you utter such reproaches at this time.”

Fleurange by degrees grew calm, and, forcing a smile, while great tears stood in her eyes, she soon resumed: “Poor Clement! I am, then, neither allowed to praise you nor blame you, this evening. Well, let us lay aside what relates merely to ourselves, or at least speak of it in a different manner. What I meant just now was that we could no longer remain idle. We must aid our dear parents all we can,” she continued in a softened tone, “and labor for them—”

“Labor!” said Clement. “I must unquestionably; that is a matter of course; but you, Gabrielle—you! There is no reason in what you say.”

“And I also,” said Fleurange calmly. “And that is a point to be considered. I must not only cease to be a burden to your parents, but I must aid them. How happy that will make me! I thank Heaven for the very thought that I may now be able to do something for them to whom I owe everything. This hope relieves my very sadness.”

She rose and held out her hand.[229] “Good-night, cousin. To-morrow I will tell you what inspiration I have received from my good angel during the night.”

He silently pressed her hand, and allowed her to leave him without a word.

The night was cloudy. If Clement caught any glimpses of his cousin’s features during their conversation, it was because, seated beside her, and even favored by the obscurity, he ventured to look at her more closely than he would have done elsewhere. Now, the stars rose only to disappear beneath the sombre clouds. He was no longer afraid of being seen. He remained where Fleurange left him, and, burying his face in his hands, gave vent at last to the tears that for two hours had been suffocating him—tears of sorrow, regret, and affection, which he must shed to keep his young heart from breaking.

But he soon surmounted this violent emotion, and rose up ashamed of his weakness. At that moment he heard a window open above his head. It was Fleurange, who soon appeared on the balcony. He could see her white dress and the regular outline of face against the light from her chamber. He saw her soft glance lost in the darkness. Then she folded her hands and bent down her head. She was praying, but not alone to-night. Clement, kneeling unperceived in the shade, prayed with her. He was in the very place where he heard her say to Felix: “Clement is my brother, and you are not.” He recalled the words now, and renewed in his heart the solemn promise to be for ever faithful to all the obligations they imposed.


If the happy inmates of the Old Mansion had been told a month previous they only had a few weeks more to pass within its walls, they would have been greatly dismayed by the prediction, and asked how such a trial could be borne. But there is in life—even in the happiest life when it is ordered aright, that is, when its duties are daily considered and faithfully accomplished—there is, I say, in such a life a latent preparation for the most violent shocks of adversity, and, when they suddenly come, it is surprising to find that they who seemed to enjoy more than others the good things they possessed are the best able to resign themselves to their loss with firmness and serenity. And yet they are not insensible to the calamity. It falls on them with its full weight, but it comes alone, unaccompanied by the two scourges which generally follow in the train of a misfortune resulting from misconduct—trouble and confusion of mind.

Neither of these followed ruin into Ludwig Dornthal’s house. Externally the disaster was complete, but peace and order were maintained within. All their decisions—even the most painful—were made deliberately, and executed calmly and without delay. They did not dissemble the greatness of their sacrifice; they made no pretence to an insensibility they did not feel; but they quietly made their preparations—tears often blinding their eyes the while—like a brave and worthy crew wrecked by a tempest and forced to abandon their vessel.

It was thus they made all the arrangements for leaving their dear home and disposing of their library, paintings, and objects of virtu, which the professor had selected with so much care and pride, and were his only source of pleasure apart from[230] the society of his family and friends. And from the latter also he was to be separated. When Ludwig Dornthal announced his intention of resuming the career he abandoned twenty years before, positions were offered him on all sides, especially in the city where he resided. But on account of the strict economy he must henceforth practise, as well as a secret repugnance to a different social position in a place where he had been so prosperous, he decided, after some hesitation, to leave Frankfort, and accept a modest situation offered him at the University of Heidelberg. He succeeded in purchasing a small house in that place at a low price—somewhat rustic, it is true, but situated without the city walls, on the banks of the Neckar, and surrounded by a garden. He could easily walk to the university every morning, and the perspective of the rural repose that awaited him at the end of the day would enable him to endure its labors more cheerfully. He therefore decided to take possession of it as speedily as possible, and all the necessary arrangements had to be made during the few weeks they were to remain in the Old Mansion before leaving it for ever.

Clement took charge of all the preliminaries of the somewhat extensive sale that was to take place. He wished to relieve his father from so sad a task, and perform the painful and fatiguing business without any assistance, but it was made much easier for him than he anticipated. Fleurange insisted on his accepting her aid. She set herself to work, silently going to and fro with her sleeves turned back, carrying the rare china carefully from one place to another with her small but efficient hands, and dusting, arranging, and numbering the books according to her cousin’s directions. Of course she greatly lightened his labors. In the evening they seated themselves in the library, now nearly stripped of its treasures, and wrote lists or inserted notes in the large registers concerning the precious manuscripts and books that were to be disposed of. It was, in short, a work that required the vigor and activity of youth, as well as much thought and assiduous labor. To say that, while performing this double task, they never found it tiresome, that no shade ever came over their brows, and that their eyes were never tearful while handling so many objects they were never to see again, would be false; it would be equally so to say that Clement, in spite of the fatigue, was greatly to be pitied during these days.

There came a time, long after, when, looking back on the past, it seemed to him that these hours passed in the light of Fleurange’s beautiful eyes, sometimes cast down as she bent over the large registers, and anon raised to ask a question or give him a friendly glance—it seemed to him, I say, that these vanished hours were among the most delightful of his life.

At length came the day their task would be completed, and, while they were working together for the last time, Fleurange raised her eyes. “Clement,” she said, “we are nearly done. I have been waiting for this moment to tell you something.”

Clement dropped his work at once, and looked up interrogatively.

“No, no; finish what you are doing, and I will tell you afterward.”

Clement soon finished. Fleurange closed the great book before her, and resumed: “Do you remember our conversation in the garden a fortnight ago?”


“I do, most assuredly.”

“Well, after leaving you that evening, I passed the night in reflection, and ended by writing to the best, and, indeed, the only gentleman-friend I have in the world out of this house.”

“Dr. Leblanc?” said Clement, aware, of course, of all the circumstances that preceded his cousin’s arrival.

“Yes, Dr. Leblanc. I wrote him all I had just learned. I made known the situation my uncle and his family would soon be in, and my desire, my ardent desire, not only to cease to be a burden, but to fulfil a daughter’s duty with regard to them. His own daughters have other duties, now they are married, but I have only this, and it is one so precious—so precious,” repeated Fleurange in the soft tone that sometimes made her simplest words penetrate to the depths of the listener’s heart, “that I shall consider my life happy and well-spent if I can consecrate it entirely to this duty!”

Clement bent down his head, and took up his pen as if to correct a mistake on the paper before him. She must not see the effect of her words on his countenance—no! she must not.

“Well,” said he presently, without looking up, “what did Dr. Leblanc say?”

“Here, Clement, read the letter I received from him two days ago.”

Clement took the letter, but, while reading it, he was all at once filled with a similar anguish to that he experienced after the conversation that night in the garden which Fleurange had just alluded to. He was obliged to make a violent effort to restrain his feelings, and not tear the letter in his hands into a thousand pieces. Fortunately he succeeded, for it would have been the most foolish act he ever committed. And there was really nothing in Dr. Leblanc’s letter to justify such a mad desire. It read as follows:

My dear young Friend: I cannot tell you how much I am at once distressed and edified by the sad account you have given me. I have long known what kind of a man your uncle is. I now see there are but few to be compared with him, even among the best, and I never had a keener desire than to make his acquaintance. You know I have always hoped for this gratification. It will probably be afforded me sooner than I anticipated. And this leads me to the second part of your letter.

“I understand your wish, and would like to second it. Besides, I have not forgotten my promise to aid you in gaining a livelihood, should it ever be necessary. Poor child! I hoped never to be called upon to fulfil it, but, as things have come to that pass, I must tell you of a letter I received yesterday which, coinciding with yours, seems to be a providential indication. This letter is from the Princess Catharine Lamianoff, a Russian lady, who is one of my patients. She is now at Munich, and has sent for me to go there. I have already prescribed for her with success, and, from what she tells me of her state, I think my visit may be beneficial. I have therefore decided on the journey, and shall be absent a fortnight. I shall go by the way of Frankfort on purpose to see you. But, first, I must tell you what there is in the letter to interest you. The princess earnestly requests me to find a young lady, carefully educated and with good manners, to be her demoiselle de compagnie. She is an invalid and requires to be entertained, so the office would be a charitable as well as a lucrative one. We will talk all this over before another week. Meanwhile, rely always, as you have the right to do, on my sincere and affectionate devotedness. I say nothing about my sister, as she is writing[232] you in a similar tone by the same mail.

“P.S.—The princess has been married twice, but is again a widow. She is very wealthy, and offers the young lady she commissions me to find one hundred and fifty louis a year.”

Clement remained silent for some time. “And you think of accepting such a proposal?” said he, at length, in a tone of irritation quite at variance with his usual manner. “What folly!”

“No, it is not folly,” replied Fleurange mildly. “If, after talking with Dr. Leblanc, I discover no reason for declining the situation, I cannot possibly see the folly of accepting it.”

“Gabrielle,” said Clement, without changing his tone, “you know the course you wish to take is insupportable to me! This rôle belongs to me—me alone. It is my place to labor for my parents, my brother and sister, and for you. If you had the least regard for me, you would feel this is a favor you have no right to refuse me.”

“Come, Clement,” said Fleurange calmly, “let us talk it over in a reasonable manner. When everything is sold, and your parents are settled in their new home at Heidelberg, you are perfectly aware that your father’s small salary, even with what you can add to it, will barely enable them and Frida to live comfortably. You will remain at Frankfort, where, notwithstanding your youth, you have the choice of several situations. But Fritz—have you forgotten our calculations yesterday? Will you have sufficient means to send him to the excellent gymnasium you were so desirous he should enter, that he might be enabled to become independent in his turn? No, Clement, you know well you could not do it. Whereas,” she continued with animation, “if this good lady likes me, I can send all my salary, with the exception of a small part, to my dear brothers. This will ensure Fritz’s education, and my dear aunt will be freed from all anxiety about him as well as me. And do you not see, Clement, that I shall be a thousand times happier far away from you all, even though treated like a slave by this princess, than among you, useless, inactive, and adding by my presence to your difficulties, instead of aiding to diminish them?”

Clement, with his elbows resting on the table, and his face buried in his hands, did not answer a word.

“Come, come, dear Clement, put off that frown,” said Fleurange in a caressing tone, taking him softly by the hand. “We shall see each other, like school-children, during our vacations. From time to time we shall meet on the banks of the Neckar! That will always be our home, where we shall all gather around the hearth, as here, on great festivals.”

What reply could poor Clement make? What objection could he offer? Must he not for ever conceal all he had hoped in his vanished dreams to confess some day? Was he not now reduced to constant labor for subsistence? Had not his life henceforth a single aim that nothing must turn him from? And were it otherwise, did she not look upon him as a mere boy? Was he not destitute of every quality that could please her? And had he not always foreseen that his enchanting dreams would vanish at the very first breath of reality?

He took his cousin’s small hand in his, and, with his usual frank and cordial look, said:[233] “You are right, Gabrielle, forgive me. I appear ungrateful, but I am not. May God reward you! You are an angel!”

And he added in a tone too low for her to hear: “An angel from whom I am more widely separated than from the angels in heaven!”


From that day forth Clement displayed no more interest in his cousin’s project: at least, he never alluded to it, and the plan was discussed before him without his taking any part in the conversation.

Madame Dornthal, capable herself of the most generous devotedness, knew also how to accept it from others—a rarer gift, but perhaps not less noble. She thoroughly understood Fleurange’s disposition, and was unwilling at such a time to deprive a heart like hers of the most exquisite joy it can taste.

“Yes, dear child,” she said, folding her in her arms, “I accept the aid you offer me, and with gratitude. Thanks to you, I shall be relieved from all anxiety respecting two of my children, and, if Dr. Leblanc reassures me as to my Gabrielle, I shall let her follow the generous impulse of her heart.”

But Madame Dornthal kept to herself, or only communicated to her husband, another motive for her consent. Fleurange would thus be preserved from some of the privations of their new life. “She would continue to enjoy comforts we could no longer give her. She would be happier and more cheerful away from us, the poor child! than with us at such a time.”

“Yes,” replied the professor, “it would indeed be a pity to bury her youth in a cottage. I could not bear it. I have so often blessed God within a month for having assured the destiny of our dear daughters! And yet,” added poor Ludwig, sighing, “their young faces were so cheering around us!”

“We shall soon see them again, Ludwig. Hilda and Karl are awaiting our visit, and Clara will pass the winter near us, Julian having received a great number of orders from the vicinity of Heidelberg. O my dear Ludwig! as long as God leaves us these blessings, let us resign, not only without a murmur, but without regret, all he has taken from us!”

Those who are absorbed in the acquisition of wealth, and make it the special object of their lives, are no less liable to misfortune than others. Indeed, it may be said, they are more frequently overtaken by adversity. Would it not be well, then, for them to reflect a little beforehand on the means of singularly modifying the features of this stern visitant, and giving it the aspect it now wore in the Old Mansion? It is true, to do this they must begin by thinking of something higher than the mere acquisition of riches.

Dr. Leblanc arrived, as he promised, about ten days after his letter. His visit at the Old Mansion coincided with the last days its inmates were to pass within its walls, and this circumstance would have made him hesitate to come, had not the professor cordially encouraged him. They had long wished to know each other, for in their different spheres they were equally renowned, and Fleurange, under so many obligations to both, was a tie between them. The doctor was therefore received by M. Dornthal quite otherwise than as a stranger. The tendency of their minds, the nature of their studies, and even the prominent features of their character, were very dissimilar, but[234] there was the same foundation to their nature, and they aimed at the same end by different means. They therefore soon discovered that, though their lives were drawing to a close without even having met before, they were born intimate friends.

How many unknown friends thus pass their whole lives without ever meeting, or even suspecting the sympathy that unites them! Who can tell how many ties of this kind will be discovered in heaven? And who knows but this discovery may be one of the sweetest surprises of another life, and, like all the joys we have a foretaste of here below, and perhaps more abundantly accorded to those who on earth were the most destitute?

The hospitable doors of the Old Mansion were closed, the library shelves bare, the panels stripped of the rich paintings that adorned them, and all was now humiliation and sacrifice where once reigned satisfaction and enjoyment, and yet Dr. Leblanc probably would not have felt so lively a sensation of respect and emotion had he visited the Dornthals for the first time during the days of their prosperity.

As to them, this new friend seemed to have always occupied the place he now took in their midst, and, in spite of the sadness of the present as well as of the future, Fleurange enjoyed the satisfaction of seeing them brought together for a few brief hours, and, though on the eve of leaving her friends, did not find the last days she spent among them the least happy.

Madame Dornthal gathered nothing from her conversations with Dr. Leblanc that was unfavorable to Fleurange’s project; but she learned that the Princess Catharine was only making a temporary visit at Munich on her way from a watering-place where she passed her summers and would soon leave for Florence, where she owned a palace which was her residence in winter.

After some correspondence, it was decided Fleurange should accept the princess’ offer, and go to Munich under the doctor’s care. She would thus have the double advantage of her old friend’s protection during the journey, and his presence during the first days of her new career among strangers.

While all this was being decided, the time passed sadly and rapidly away, and the last day they were to spend in the Old Mansion came—the last day their eyes would linger on the venerable walls which had witnessed all the happiness of the past, the garden with its velvet sward, the borders of flowers, and the wide alleys through the overshadowing trees, full of remembrances they would not another spring be able to retrace, or indeed any spring of their future lives.

Clement, silent as he often was, but more agitated than usual, hastily collected the small number of books which were to form part of his luggage the following day. His cousin’s generous sacrifice enabled him to fulfil his wishes at once with regard to Fritz. This only left him the more completely alone—the care of the child would have added to the young man’s difficulties and become later a serious burden; but Clement loved his little brother, and had looked upon the necessity of keeping him with him as a consoling feature of his future life. This necessity no longer existed. Clement, left free, decided to make choice of the most laborious career offered him—the one least conformed to his tastes, but the best adapted to second his desire of aiding his parents.

Wilhelm Müller proposed he should[235] enter a large commercial house where M. Heinrich Dornthal’s worthy and intelligent clerk himself had found a situation similar to that he recently occupied at the banker’s. Clement accepted it. He was at first to receive only a small salary, but it would be increased from year to year. “And later,” explained Wilhelm, “you may have your share in the profits of the house. You are young. Who knows, whatever you may say, that you will not some day become rich again, and as happy and prosperous as you were destined to be?”

Nothing in Clement’s heart responded to this encouraging prophecy, but he did not the less follow Müller’s advice. Moreover, he accepted the kind clerk’s offer of renting him a small chamber in the house he himself occupied.

“Poor Monsieur Clement,” he said, “what I offer you is only a garret, but it is under our roof, and you will feel you have friends around you. My wife is a good housekeeper, and will always be ready to render you a service. The little ones are good children also, though somewhat noisy, and will sometimes divert your sad thoughts.”

“It is all well enough,” said Clement. “Your offer suits me every way, and I thank you, Wilhelm, with all my heart.”

Thus matters were arranged between them.

Fleurange made her appearance in the library while Clement was diligently packing his books. She remained awhile, and learned by questioning him all that has just been related, not omitting the kind clerk’s offer to become his host as well as his colleague.

“Oh! so much the better,” cried Fleurange. “The Müllers are excellent people. I know Bertha, who is an amiable little woman. You can talk with her about me.”

Bertha’s name recalled Fleurange’s journey, which they discussed. This naturally led to her arrival on Christmas Eve, the Midnight Mass, the festival of the following day, and all the other happy days that succeeded.

All these reminiscences were too touching, too poignant, at such a time. Fleurange at last became unable to utter a word. She turned her face away, and started as if to leave the room. But she stopped at the threshold, and remained leaning against the garden window, which at that season was surrounded by honeysuckle. Clement followed, and both stood gazing at the thousand objects gilded by the brilliant rays of the setting sun. There was nothing wanting in the melancholy beauty of that evening hour, either in the sweetness of the air, the clearness of the sky, the perfume of the flowers, or anything that could in their eyes add an unusual charm to all they were about to leave for ever.

And she! how did she appear in the sight of him who feared he might never, after this hour, behold her again as she now stood beside him? What did he think of the effect of the golden lights upon her fair brow and on her black and silky hair?—on the pale azure of her eyes, now so smiling and soft, and again so grave and thoughtful, but in which tenderness was overruled by a will that would ever remain dominant?

We will not state what were his unuttered thoughts. The mingling of sweetness and energy which heightened the attraction Fleurange inspired he was equally gifted with, and what he ought to conceal within his own bosom he knew how to prevent his mouth from uttering or his eyes from ever betraying. He therefore remained near her, calm in appearance,[236] while his heart was a prey to such grief as in youth changes the entire aspect of nature, and makes it almost unendurable to live.

“To-morrow!—to-morrow I shall no longer behold her,” he repeated to himself, with a sensation that one might have in sharpening the instrument of his execution, and the thought deprived him of enjoying the few hours that remained to him.

Fleurange, on her side, dwelt on the fatality that always separated her from those she loved. She recalled the day when the bare thought of ever leaving this spot caused such a painful contraction of the heart. And now, that prophetic anguish was justified!—the frightful dream had become a reality! Sad thoughts crowded on her mind. Another moment, and she would be unable to restrain them, all her firmness was about to give way in a flood of tears, when an effort of her will made her triumph over the emotion, or, at least, prevented her from manifesting it. Putting a stop to her long reverie, she raised her head, and turned toward her cousin:

“Here, Clement,” she said softly, drawing a small book from her pocket, “here is my Dante we have so often read in: keep it, dear friend, in memory of our favorite study, and do not forget our habit of daily reading a canto in it.”

“No, I shall never forget it. Thank you, Gabrielle: the gift is very precious. I shall always prize this little book.” He opened it: “But write my name on this blank leaf. Here is my pencil.”

She took the pencil and wrote: “To Clement.

“One word more,” said Clement in a supplicating tone. “Pray write also a word, a line, a stanza if you will, from our favorite poet.”

“What shall I write?” said she, turning over the leaves.

“There, that in the second canto,” said he, pointing it out. She wrote it immediately, and then read it over:

“To Clement.

“L’amico mio e non della Ventura.”[58]

“That is right,” said Clement. “Thank you.”

“That is a sad line: I should have chosen a different one.”

“It is appropriate to the present occasion. Now add your name.”

She was about to write it when he stopped her.

“Your real name,” said he. “Write your other name, to-night—the name that suits you so well—Fleurange!”

Fleurange smiled, and shook her head. “Oh! no,” she said. “I gave it up with regret, but I should not have thought of such a thing had I previously known you all. But I have been so happy since I have borne the name of Gabrielle—and you were the first to call me so, Clement—so happy that I no longer love the name associated with the sadness of the past, and, were I to hear any one call me Fleurange now, I should imagine it an ill omen.”

Clement made no reply, but, when she returned the book, he retained her hand a moment: “Gabrielle, one word more—perhaps my last before your departure. Listen to me. Wherever you may be, if you ever need a friend—a friend, do you understand?—that would value no sacrifice for your sake, do not forget that your brother is ready to aid you, not only willingly, but with a pleasure you have no idea of.”

Clement’s voice was grave and solemn, but at the same time agitated and tremulous, as he uttered these words. They were so in conformity[237] with what Fleurange had reason to expect from him that they touched her, but excited no surprise.

“Yes, Clement,” she replied frankly, casting an affectionate glance toward him; “I promise to have recourse to you. I feel I have no better friend in the world than you, and doubt if I ever shall have.”

Were these words sweet or bitter? He hardly knew. The sadness that overwhelmed him it seemed impossible to increase, and equally impossible to alleviate. And yet!—she was still there—beside him—with an air of serenity and hope. There was not a single sentiment of her heart he did not share. She called him her friend, and there was no other she preferred to him. The moment, so full of anguish, was yet a happy one, and he regretted at a later day not having known how to profit more by it.

This was their last conversation in the Old Mansion. Clement preserved the little volume in which she had written the name of Gabrielle as a memento of this interview, and also a sprig of the honeysuckle that touched her forehead.

The remainder of the evening passed swiftly away. Soon after light the next morning came the farewell hour. The Dornthals left their beloved home without the hope of ever entering it again, and Fleurange once more left those she loved, to enter upon a new life that looked a thousand times gloomier and more uncertain than that which was before her when she left Paris. And Clement bade them all farewell, to endure as he could isolation, a laborious and uncongenial life, the privation of the affection and pleasures of his boyhood, and especially all the pain and love a young heart can endure.


“Era già l’ora che volge il disio
Ai naviganti e intenerisce il core,
Lo di’ c’han detto a’ dolci amici addio!”—Dante.

It was a beautiful night—brilliant, serene, and starry—a night the uprising moon would soon render as light as day. A fresh breeze from the land swelled the sails of a vessel just leaving Genoa, which, far from impeding its course, only gave it a bolder and more rapid flight over the waves. There were various groups of passengers on deck, some conversing in subdued tones quite in harmony with the mysterious hour of twilight, and others aloud as if it were mid-day. One was playing on a guitar, as an accompaniment to a somewhat remarkable voice, one of those airs everybody knows, sings, or hums as long as they are in the fashion. The music, in itself indifferent, did not seem so on the water and at such an hour. It harmonized with the feelings of those who were sailing over that azure sea, beneath that starry sky, and in sight of those charming shores which the boat scarcely lost sight of during its short sail from Genoa to Leghorn.

Apart from all these groups, and belonging to none of them, we again find Fleurange, who was sitting entirely alone. She had been here some minutes, attracting general attention[238] from the first by the gracefulness of her form, which the cloak in which she was wrapped could not wholly conceal. The hood, half-covering her head, only added a picturesqueness to the striking beauty of her regular features. More than one of her fellow-travellers would gladly have drawn near the place where she was sitting, but, though she was alone and did not appear to be under any one’s protection, there was, in the simple dignity of her attitude, in her evident indifference to the sensation she produced, in her very want of timidity, which was not boldness, but resolution, and in her whole appearance, a something undefinable which intimidated the most lively admiration, and would have disconcerted insolence itself—a remark en passant to those who regard familiarity as only a proof of the attraction they inspire. Therefore, in spite of some whispering, notwithstanding more than one look toward the charming face distinctly visible in the full light of the moon, now risen, Fleurange remained quietly in her corner, abandoned to her own meditations, undisturbed by any one, and without troubling herself in the least about those who surrounded her. Her thoughts were various and complex. A strange fate seemed to pursue her and constantly break the thread of her life, and every time it was broken she found the severance more painful. It was but recently she wept so bitterly at leaving Paris, and Dr. Leblanc, and the dear Mademoiselle Josephine. But the tears were much more bitter she shed at leaving the Old Mansion, and the loved circle where she had first known and tasted in all their fulness the sweet joys of family life.

After leaving Frankfort, Fleurange’s firmness, which had never faltered before, suddenly gave way to such a degree as to make Dr. Leblanc resolve to take her back to her friends if, after his short stay at Munich, he did not find her more resigned to her lot. But Fleurange was not a person to be easily subdued. Her natural strength of character soon asserted itself, and enabled her to persevere in the path she had chosen. Her resolution was strengthened by the very circumstances which would have discouraged many others. At their arrival at Munich, they found the Princess Catharine confined to her bed by a violent attack of her malady, and it was as nurse that Fleurange entered upon her duties. Her complaint, all the physicians declared, was not dangerous, but it was not the less painful, nor the easier to be relieved. That Dr. Leblanc was again successful in his treatment was partly owing to the sudden and lively fancy of his patient for the young companion he had brought her. To tell the truth, the doctor, knowing the princess, had foreseen this attraction, but he knew Fleurange was fully able to justify and sustain this first impression, and he sincerely hoped by bringing them together he had done something no less useful and beneficial for his wealthy patient than for his young protégée.

However this might be, nothing could have been better adapted to dispel the burden of grief that weighed on Fleurange’s heart than the immediate necessity of forgetting herself in active and assiduous care for another. It was rather a sad beginning to pass a succession of days and nights at the bedside of a sick stranger, but in the actual state of her mind it was the best thing she could have done. She possessed all the qualities that constitute an efficient nurse, and, to a degree that excited Dr. Leblanc’s surprise, firmness and[239] promptitude, ease and gentleness in all her movements, vigor and skill, and seasonable attentions—nothing was wanting, and the result was—the never-failing effect of her beauty and grace, added to the sentiments of lively gratitude sick people generally feel for those who know how to relieve them. The princess did not cease thanking the doctor, and the latter, quite pleased with the result of his inspiration, left Fleurange not only without anxiety, but with the most favorable hopes as to her position.

Though scarcely able to travel, the Princess Catharine insisted on leaving Munich, and by easy stages she succeeded in reaching Genoa. Now she was on her way to Leghorn, and thence would go to Florence without delay, as she was eager to arrive at the palace which was her real home, having long been obliged by her health to absent herself from Russia, or at least to live there only during the brief portion of the year known as the pleasant season.

For the first time, almost, since she left her friends, Fleurange was now absolutely alone, and at liberty to indulge freely in her own reflections. She began by recalling the cherished memory of her distant friends, from whom she was every moment drifting away with frightful rapidity. It was the hour sung by the poet:

“The hour that wakens fond desire
In men at sea, and melts their thoughtful heart,
Who in the morn have bid sweet friends farewell”;

and Fleurange’s thoughts for a long time dwelt upon the recent events of her life, so rapid in their current as now to be numbered among the things for ever vanished—upon the happy family now scattered; the days—so few—in which she was permitted to be a member of it and finally, her present isolation, for, notwithstanding the kindness of the princess, she felt extremely isolated. By a singular exchange of rôles, it was she—the unprotected orphan, who now seemed to have become the support of her protectress; and the lady of rank—the rich princess, the poor woman spoiled by fortune—who seemed to seek aid and consolation from her. Fleurange’s kind heart found unexpected relief in these cares, the very success of which was ample reward. She felt her affection increase for the object of these attentions in proportion as she lavished them, but it was rather a feeling one has for a child or an inferior, than one it would have seemed natural to have for a person on whom she was dependent, and to whom she actually owed respect and obedience. She therefore felt solitary, and this loneliness was depressing. And yet in spite of herself—in spite of her melancholy (though this may seem contradictory)—an irresistible sensation of joy quickened the pulsations of her heart.

Who has not experienced this joy that has once seen the beautiful sky of Italy, and left it, and then beheld it again? Who has not greeted with transport the charming and sublime features of its glorious scenery as it appears anew on the horizon, as if beholding once more the face of a beloved friend? And who, after being long deprived of hearing the sweet accents of its musical language, has not heard them again with emotion? All these impressions must have been more deeply experienced in Fleurange’s case than in many others. And as the wind went down, and the moon ascended the clear sky, reflecting a train of light that grew brighter and brighter on the sea, like a pathway of diamonds leading to an enchanted abode, Fleurange,[240] with her eyes fixed on the dazzling waters, felt for a moment transported with joy! All the sadness of the past as well as of the present vanished: she only realized the infinite pleasure of living, of being young, of being here under this sky, on this sea, near that coast whose odors were perceptible; and when she remembered that that coast was Italy, that she would be there in a few hours, a throng of poetic dreams and confused presentiments of happiness added their vague hopes to the secret joy with which she felt, as it were, intoxicated.

Dreams—half-understood dreams of youth—which are seldom realized, and which at a later day, according as the soul triumphs over or yields to the dangers of life, are transformed into divine and powerful aspirations, or into deceptive and fatal realities!

At this same hour, what was Clement dreaming of, seated at his garret window, and likewise gazing at the starry sky? Ah! if he could have followed her whose image filled his soul, he would now have been beside Fleurange as she was thus wafted away from him, lulled by her confused dreams. His reverie, too, was sad, but there was nothing vague or indefinite about it, and the manly tenderness of his look expressed firmness and resolution rather than softness. The future was clearly defined in his mind. Yes, though he was only twenty years old, he felt capable of cherishing a fond memory in his heart without ever being unfaithful to it. Yes, she should remain there, as in a sanctuary, and, after God, he would offer her the labors, the studies, the poetry, and the purity of his life! Every talent he had received should be cultivated, and bring forth all that was required on the part of the Giver. This motive should quicken his mental faculties, and refresh him after the exertions of the day; stimulate him to arduous labor—sacred in his eyes—which he would pursue with energy and constancy, for it was the source of his parents’ comfort and support, and the reliance of their old age. And if at length!—Perhaps some day!—But when the sudden revival of a forbidden hope gave him all at once a thrill, he repressed it. His judgment, his reason, a painful and invincible presentiment, had for a long time assured him this hope was vain. “Garder l’amour en brisant l’espoir” was his aim and devise—a task painful, difficult, and perhaps even impossible. But at this time such was his fancy and such his dream!




No English voice in the world of letters wakes the pulses of our age to the thrill of joy which greeted Childe Harold and Rob Roy. Those monarchs of the popular heart left no successors; or if their mantle hung for a moment on the shoulders of another, it is now buried in the grave of Dickens. We have yet several novelists. We have many poets. But none has obtained universal appreciation; to none has been awarded with general consent the palm of paramount renown. Yet it will not be questioned that few living writers command a larger following, are remembered with more affection, and heard with greater eagerness than the author of “In Memoriam.”

There are few studies more delightful than the growth of a poet’s mind. In the case of Tennyson we witness the whole process of development. We have seen him in his timid beginnings and in his brilliant prime. More than forty years have passed since a slender volume of poems introduced a young graduate of Cambridge to the English-reading world. The modest offering fell upon a time which had garnered larger and riper fruit. There were giants in those days. Byron indeed was dead, but his fame, although it had passed its zenith, still shone the brightest in the firmament. Shelley had preceded him, but the reputation of that sweet singer and genuine artist was growing, and has not ceased to grow. The lovers of Campbell had not surrendered their faith that the Pleasures of Hope and the story of Gertrude of Wyoming were but a prelude to loftier strains. From the grave of Adonaïs men’s eyes had turned with regret and wonder to the bold outline of Hyperion and the rich shadows of St. Agnes’ Eve. Coleridge was a wreck, but the finger of his Ancient Mariner pointed many a thoughtful gaze toward the untravelled country which fringes the visible world. The master-hand that had swept the chords of Scottish minstrelsy had not yet lost all its original vigor. And Wordsworth’s voice gave loud and clear the signal of poetic reform, and all who were ready to desert the out-worn moulds of classic thought and classic imagery had begun to close around his banner.

Into that circle of splendid names no youthful aspirant could win admittance without a challenge. More fortunate, however, than Keats, Tennyson secured through university friendships some indulgence from the reviews. A few were eager to crown him. It is now acknowledged that their unwinnowed praise discovered less of the judge than of the partisan. The conservative temper of Wilson was provoked by the cordial welcome accorded the new-comer in certain quarters to assume an attitude of repression that was, to say the least, ungenerous. A measured severity might have been amply justified. This first venture was indeed superior to those Hours of Idleness[242] which had drawn the sneer of the Edinburgh Review. But he would have been a bold prophet who in 1830 from “Claribel” and the “Mermaid” would have foretold the “Idylls of the King.”

Tennyson ripened slowly. His next volume was published two years later. It was enriched with the “Lady of Shalott,” the “Lotus-Eaters,” and the “Palace of Art,” but many of the poems were disfigured by his earlier mannerisms, and some discovered an affected mysticism and a hankering after novel expression that was not indicative of health or strength. The poet, too, had betrayed a sensitiveness to criticism that augured ill for the discipline of his powers. It was still an open question whether the great gifts which he unquestionably possessed would be burnished by patient labor, or after some idle brandishings rust in satisfied repose. Nor would he have been the first for whom victory too early and lightly won has twined the poppy with her laurel. A silence of ten years followed, and it seemed probable that another name must be added to those of Campbell and Coleridge on the roll of splendid disappointments.

But during this long interval he had not been idle. He had thought and he had suffered. He had learned much and discarded much. On a sudden, his treasury was opened, and the fruits of energy and discipline fell in glistening showers at the feet of a public which had almost forgotten him. The “Morte d’Arthur,” “Dora,” “Love and Duty,” “Ulysses,” “Locksley Hall,” appealed in divers tones to a charmed and astonished audience. By one sweep, and with no feeble hand, he had planted his standard in many and widely different fields. The bright forecast of his college friends was justified. He had sprung at a bound into the front rank of living poets.

We pass over the “Princess,” which added little to his reputation, and reach 1850, a cardinal point in his career. In that year it is just to say that “Lycidas” and “Adonaïs” were eclipsed by “In Memoriam.” This remarkable work, at once the noblest monody and most impressive of heart histories, interpreted the author’s life and consolidated his fame. “Maud” came next, and, morbid, incoherent, structureless as it is, would have severely tried a credit less firmly rooted. “Maud” indeed seems to owe its origin rather to the blind impulse of crude intemperate youth, or the promptings of some delirious fever, than the deliberate, healthful movement of the poet’s higher faculties. It marks the single break in the progress of his mind.

Not a few of Tennyson’s admirers had always affirmed the “Morte d’Arthur” to be the strongest of his works. That fragment was published in 1842, but it was not until 1859 that four kindred poems were drawn from that Arthurian romance which had early haunted his fancy and has chiefly employed the energies of his riper years. The “Idylls of the King” have had several successors, and the “Last Tournament” completes the cycle.

An effort has lately been made in certain quarters to depreciate Tennyson. We do not object to comparisons if they are fruitful in suggestion, and are instituted in a candid spirit. But perhaps analysis affords the surer test. We ourselves hold Tennyson to be the first of living English poets, and incline to rank him above Byron and beside Wordsworth. In the course of an attempt to indicate his place in literature, we shall quote wherever quotations may sustain or illustrate our ideas. We shall draw[243] mainly from those works which exhibit a writer at his best. The height of mountain ranges is gauged by their loftiest peaks, and the merit of a public benefactor by his virtues, not his shortcomings. A poet is a public benefactor. Not his failures, but his masterpiece, should supply the materials of an honest judgment.


Vision, in the old Roman conception, was the distinguishing faculty of the poet. And indeed vates, not poeta, marks the fundamental condition of his art. The seer precedes the maker. It is not indispensable that he should see more than other men, but he will see more clearly. His perceptions are acute and nimble; his sensations are intense. The retina and ear-drum deliver with peculiar speed and precision their messages to his brain. His glance tracks the eagle in his circles, and numbers the hues of the western sky. He catches the whisper of fainting winds, and spells the cadence of the rippling stream. To him all outlines are sharp and crisp, every tint is vivid, every tone is clear. Senses exquisitely organized are the first essential of the poet.

Sensations are fraught with countless degrees of pleasure, with infinite shades of pain. Those objects whose ideas awaken a feeling of delight we call beautiful. To register the beautiful is an instinct of the poet. With a nice reference to the pleasure imparted, he discriminates forms, divides the chromatic scale, graduates the gamut of sound. In a word, his æsthetic judgment is wakeful and unerring. But the keenest joys of the mind are not begotten by beauty pure and simple. There is a fuller and sweeter satisfaction than that derived from kaleidoscope combinations of color, arabesques without significance, and fantasias without text or theme. Wherever design emerges, the notion of fitness is born. The Greek found it in the human body. We can trace it in the flower and the star. When we contemplate those things of which design may be predicated, there is blended with the feeling of pleasure a perception of inward adaptation. The idea of perfection is married to the idea of beauty. The ideal is their offspring. Upon it the æsthetic judgment unaided dares not pronounce. The complex faculty, whose province is the ideal, is taste. It is the second requisite of the poet.

Most persons of culture and refinement have taste in some degree. They are no strangers to the pure delight evoked by a smiling landscape. In the human form they enjoy the beauty of outline and proportion, and recognize the nice adjustment of structure to a central aim. But their joys are transient. The flower fades; sunset yields to moonlight; autumn touches with her pencil the canvas of the spring; one graceful attitude melts into another; emotions course across the countenance like winds over standing wheat. The poet comes. His mission is to chain the fleeting, to fix the evanescent, to reproduce the past. He brings you a rose with the bloom on it; calls up the buried friend; stays the sinking sun on the edge of his western bed. His life is a long revolt against the law of change. Nor is he confined to imitation. His sphere transcends realities. He may play with nature, if he will not violate her. His memory is not a store-house only, but a crucible as well, where the phenomena of sense lie fused in a glowing golden mass. Through his brain float airy shapes surpassing and yet suggesting[244] the grace of earthly forms; ideals strange and fantastic, yet bound by subtle ties of relationship to types of the actual world. His fancy is ever in labor. Incessant gestation, incessant parturition, engage her energies. Reproduction, creation, is a law of the poet’s being. It is this which vindicates his right to the noble name of maker.

Keen senses, a just taste, creative force, compose the common dowry of artists. But art is threefold—plastic, pictorial, poetic. To each species belongs a peculiar medium in which memories are embalmed and fancies embodied. The media are solids, colors, words. In language lie certain powers and certain limitations. The poet divines them. He produces a speaking picture, but he remembers that much of a picture cannot be spoken. He demonstrates that much also may be told that cannot be painted. On his canvas vivacity and intensity do duty for light and shade. Elaboration, suggestion, silence, are the elements of his perspective. He borrows from sculpture the significance of isolation, and the incisive lesson of the group. Images, metaphors, similes, are the poet’s graving-tools. He learns their latent capacities and their inherent flaws. He secures subtle effects by climax, antithesis, evolution. He plays the chemist with ideas, and presents them in every stage of development, now vaporous, now congealed. He weighs words, detects their finer applications, and fathoms the deeper meanings which are coiled about their roots. And, finally, he masters the mechanism of speech, the organic structure of sentences, the joints and vertebræ of his native tongue. One step remains, to seize the principles of metre, the secrets of rhythm and cæsura, the march and music of verse. His panoply is finished. He is a poet.

Let us apply some of these tests to Tennyson. And, first, his power of simple imitation. At first sight this seems no lofty triumph of the poet’s art. And yet how much it implies! To translate substance into the unsubstantial. To portray the visible and tangible in that which has neither color nor dimension. Above all, to transfuse through the spirit of man the spirit of nature. It behooves him who would compass this to purge the heart of emotion, abjure self-consciousness, and forget, like the Pythian priestess, his own identity. He is not to steep his landscape in sentiment of his own, nor ascribe to it a fictitious sympathy with human moods and passions. The outward beauty he contemplates must traverse his mental atmosphere, untinctured, unrefracted, like white light. We must catch in his work the soul of the scene, a spirit rising from it like an exhalation, not drenching it with alien dews. We find a happy instance of right treatment in this cool upland valley from “Œnone”:

“There lies a vale in Ida lovelier
Than all the valleys of Ionian hills;
The swimming vapor slopes athwart the glen,
Puts forth an arm, and creeps from pine to pine,
And loiters slowly drawn. On either hand
The lawns and meadow-ledges midway down
Hang rich in flowers, and far below them roars
The long brook falling thro’ the cloven ravine
In cataract after cataract to the sea.
Behind the valley topmost Gargarus
Stands up and takes the morning; but in front
The gorges, opening wide apart, reveal
Troas and Ilion’s columned citadel.”

Beside this place the rank luxuriance of a tropic island where “Enoch Arden,” shipwrecked, waited for a sail:

“The mountain wooded to the peak, the lawns,
And winding glades high up like ways to heaven,
The slender coco’s drooping crown of plumes,
The lightning flash of insect and of bird,
The lustre of the long convolvuluses,
That coiled around the stately stems and ran
Even to the limits of the land, the glows
And glories of the broad belt of the world—
All these he saw.”


Of pure imitative art Scott and Wordsworth are the great modern masters. Yet we shall all acknowledge that the passages quoted exhibit a rare excellence. It would be hard to match in Theocritus the breezy freshness of the “Brook.” As we listen, we lose ourselves, and seem to penetrate the joyous heart of nature. We too are in Arcadia. It is the morning of the world, and the infant god of some slender streamlet hums his naïve song to Pan, who lies along the sward:

“I wind about, and in, and out,
With many a blossom sailing;
And here and there a lusty trout,
And here and there a grayling.
I slip, I slide, I gloom, I glance
Among my skimming swallows,
I make the netted sunbeams dance
Against my sandy shallows.”

We have dwelt at length on the sincerity with which Tennyson interprets nature. It is the stamp of the true poet. The dilettante, however cunning, cannot counterfeit it. He cannot keep himself out of the picture, but invests it with his own sentiment, and tricks it out in the whims and caprices of the hour. It is otherwise with Wordsworth. That high-priest of nature enters her presence reverently, with humble and candid heart. He puts off the vanities and weaknesses of man on the verge of her holy ground. From his lips her lessons fall with a simple earnestness, like oracles from the mouth of a child. Her truths he incarnates, but does not presume to clothe.

While it is false art to attribute to nature a conscious sympathy with man, it is true that she at times discovers an unconscious harmony with his moods. Our emotions are deepened by the accord. The happy are the happier for sunshine. The sad are saddest in the night and the rain. To aim at this mystic unison, to strike one note from feeling and from circumstance, is legitimate and delightful. Let us contrast an example of such treatment with the less truthful method to which we have referred. We ought always to study a theory in some felicitous expression of it, and therefore we take these graceful lines from Dr. Holmes. The stars and flowers touched by the woes of fallen man have conspired to watch and warn him. The flowers cannot bear the sight of human misery.

“Alas! each hour of daylight tells
A tale of shame so crushing,
That some turn white as sea-bleached shells,
And some are always blushing.
“But when the patient stars look down
On all their light discovers,
The traitor’s smile, the murderer’s frown,
The lips of lying lovers,
“They try to shut their saddening eyes,
And in the vain endeavor
We see them twinkling in the skies,
And so they wink for ever.”

At the first glance this moves, and pleases; because the emotion of the moment veils the extravagant hyperbole. The writer is an artist, and makes us see, as it were, through tears. But the lines do not grow upon us like the truly beautiful. As we read them a second time, there comes over us a feeling of annoyance, almost of pain, that the flowers should be misinterpreted, the stars misconstrued. We tremble before nature’s shocks and storms, and cannot afford to darken her brightest bloom or trouble her sweet serenity. Look now at this figure of “Mariana,” weeping, forsaken, “in the moated grange!” There is no pathetic prelude, no preliminary appeal to human sympathies. A neglected garden and a lonely house. A reach of level waste, colorless, silent, cold. The desolation is contagious, and just as the heart is sinking into a state of depression and despair, the[246] moan of the stricken girl falls quivering on the ear.

“With blackest moss the flower-plots
Were thickly crusted, one and all;
The rusted nails fell from the knots
That held the peach to the garden wall.
The broken sheds looked sad and strange:
Unlifted was the clinking latch:
Weeded and worn the ancient thatch
Upon the lonely moated grange.
She only said, ‘My life is dreary!
He cometh not!’ she said;
She said, ‘I am aweary, aweary,
I would that I were dead!’”

We are very far from saying that Tennyson is everywhere free from the pathetic fallacy. But his sins of the kind occur chiefly in some vein of sportive apologue, like the “Talking Oak,” or in the mouth of Maud’s morbid lover, half distraught by temper and wholly crazed by crime. And, indeed, if any could be pardoned for beholding in all things one image, it would be, no doubt, the lover. In the old myth, love guided the hand of art; but Pygmalion was a sculptor, not a landscape painter.

The portrayal of the human form is one of the painter’s triumphs, as it is the sole province of plastic art. Poetry, for the most part, evades a description of personal beauty, and is content with a suggestion. Yet there are two or three etchings in the “Palace of Art” which seem to us not unworthy of a place in that gallery of Philostratus which a poet’s hand repeopled:

“Or sweet Europa’s mantle blew unclasped,
From off her shoulder backward borne;
From one hand drooped a crocus, one hand grasped
The mild bull’s golden horn.
“Or else flush’d Ganymede, his rosy thigh
Half buried in the eagle’s down,
Sole as a flying star shot through the sky
Above the pillared town.”

These are mere outlines. But Tennyson has drawn one figure with almost pictorial finish and force. It is Aphrodite revealing herself to Paris on Mount Ida:

“Idalian Aphrodite, beautiful,
Fresh as the foam, new bath’d in Paphian wells,
With rosy, slender fingers, backward drew
From her warm brows and bosom her deep hair
Ambrosial, golden round her lucid throat
And shoulder: from the violets her light foot
Shone rosy white, and o’er her rounded form,
Between the shadows of the vine-bunches,
Floated the glowing sunlight as she moved.”

This is genuine painting. There is form and color in it, and, withal, the spirit of beauty bathing the whole, untainted by the faintest suggestion of wanton love.

In the temple of outward nature poetry is only the acolyte of painting. But one shrine is more exclusively her own. She is mistress of the heart. Over that ocean no other wing sustains continuous flight. There are waves of impulse which canvas cannot reflect, and currents of emotion untraced by the limner’s skill. There are dainty joys and fears that mock his grasp, and gust of passion that confound his cunning. Pictorial art must read the soul in the face, and the face is at best a clouded mirror. From the poet we hide nothing. The growth of character, the drift of habit, the pressure of inherited tendencies, springs of motive, stings of appetite—he discerns and deciphers all. But he must not speak in riddles: he is bound to make his meaning clear. He owes a duty to the humblest. They look to him to lend thought a form, shadow a substance; to explain the strange by the familiar, and flood the whole with the mellow flight of fancy. The poet is, in a certain sense, what Sidney would make him, the right popular philosopher. On the success of Tennyson in this field there is some difference of opinion. The fervor of his sympathies within a certain range and the delicacy of his intuitions are unquestioned. His style is allowed to be rich in color, and often fraught with incisive force.[247] Let us glance at some passages which depict the finer shades of feeling, or are conspicuous for felicitous expression. We will then look at the charges, so often brought against Tennyson, of obscurity and a want of dramatic power.

It is a fact of common experience that quite opposite emotions, wrought to intensity, reach a state of fusion. They move, as it were, in converging lines, and their vanishing point is pain; or rather, they have what physicists would call a common dew-point. Thus we hear of the luxury of sorrow and of love’s sweet smart. Coleridge has touched this psychic truth with extreme tenderness in “Genevieve.” He shows us the young girl rapt in a troubled wonder before the strange feeling that storms her gentle breast. Her heart flutters like a snared bird:

Her bosom heaved, she stept aside;
As conscious of my look she stept:
Then suddenly, with timorous eye,
She fled to me and wept.”

So in one of Tennyson’s “Idylls,” the eyes of the happy Enid are suffused with tears. It is hardly possible to read the lines without loving human nature:

“He turned his face,
And kissed her climbing; and she cast her arms
About him, and at once they rode away.
And never yet, since high in Paradise,
O’er the four rivers the first roses blew,
Came purer pleasure unto mortal kind
Than lived through her who in that perilous hour
Put hand to hand beneath her husband’s heart
And felt him hers again. She did not weep,
But o’er her meek eyes came a happy mist,
Like that which kept the heart of Eden green.”

Most persons have known those transient attachments which are born of “accident, blind contact, and the strong necessity of loving.” In the “Gardener’s Daughter” some one alludes in this playful fashion to the dethroned darling of his salad days:

“Oh! she
To me myself, for some three careless moons,
The summer pilot of an empty heart
Unto the shores of nothing. Know you not
Such touches are but embassies of love,
To tamper with the feelings ere he found
Empire for life?”

Few who have read the new “Maid’s Tragedy” have forgotten “Elaine.” There is no sweeter face in story. We trace a master’s hand in the passage where a passionate sympathy holds her from her sleep, and the deep lines of Lancelot’s countenance are mirrored in her white soul:

“As when a painter, poring on a face,
Divinely through all hindrance finds the man
Behind it, and so paints it that his face,
The shape and color of a mind and life,
Lives for his children ever at its best
And fullest: so his face before her lived.”

Lancelot is always gracious to her, and grateful for her tender care, but he is moody and absent, and instinct tells her that his love can never be hers. She bears home a heavy heart:

“She murmured, ‘Vain! in vain! it cannot be;
He will not love me! how, then, must I die?’
Then, as a little, helpless, innocent bird,
That has but one plain passage of few notes,
Will sing the simple passage o’er and o’er
For all an April morning, till the ear
Wearies to hear it; so the simple maid
Went half the night repeating, ‘Must I die?’”

One more. A song of Tristram’s, rife with the graceful gayety that masks and half-redeems a faithless heart. It might have been made by Ronsard, and sung by Bussy d’Amboise. The husband of “Isolt of Brittany” and the lover of “Isolt of Britain” gives the rationale of broken vows:

“Ay, ay, O ay, the winds that bend the brier!
A star in heaven, a star within the mere.
Ay, ay, O ay, a star was my desire;
And one was far apart, and one was near!
Ay, ay, O ay, the winds that bow the grass!
And one was water, and one star was fire.
And one will ever shine, and one will pass;
Ay, ay, O ay, the winds that move the mere!”

The admirers of Byron and the poets of the Georgian era find Tennyson obscure. By obscurity they[248] ought to mean a darkness born of confusion, the cloud of fallacy, the vagueness of incoherence. Crude thoughts, unfledged fancies, halting metaphors, are obscure. Poetasters are commonly dark, and it would be easy to show that Byron himself in his best work, the fourth canto of Childe Harold, is sometimes guilty of obscurity. And it must be admitted that some poems of Tennyson’s youth, and likewise “Maud,” are open to this objection. But if, as we believe, the charge is pointed at “In Memoriam,” “Love and Duty,” or the “Palace of Art,” then we deny its force. It may be that they who find enigmas in Paradise Lost and “In Memoriam” mistake the source of their difficulties. We incline to depreciate what we fail to comprehend. We forget that deep waters are not necessarily turbid; that novelty is not obscurity. As we climb a mountain, we gain new views of the valley beneath, yet the novel landscape may be no less vivid than the old. There is, indeed, a dulness of the ear that detects no clue to the myriad threads of harmony. There is a myoptic disease which sees nothing but indistinctness beyond its narrow horizon. In such cases the fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves, that we are mystified.

We have said that the poet owes a duty to the humblest. That duty is fulfilled when he has conjured his fancies into visible shapes, and given truth a concrete form. He is not called upon to find eyes for the blind, or learning for the ignorant. It is enough if at his banquet there is food for all stomachs. The poet owes a duty not to the humble only.

There are, for example, two methods by which poetry may illuminate history. It may invest personal character with the truth and vigor of life, and portray detached scenes in correct and brilliant colors. Or it may reveal to the imagination by exact and felicitous metaphor the sequence of events, the march of knowledge, the drift of opinion, and the “long result of time.” Thus Lucan poetized a narrative, Lucretius thinks in imagery. We recall no better illustration of the former treatment than the fine stanza from Childe Harold:

“When Athens’ armies fell at Syracuse,
And fettered thousands bore the yoke of war,
Redemption rose up in the Attic muse,
Her voice their only ransom from afar.
See as they chant the tragic hymn, the car
Of the o’ermastered victor stops; the reins
Fall from his hands; his idle scymitar
Starts from its belt; he rends his captive’s chains,
And bids him thank the bard for freedom and his strains.”

The anecdote is a noble one, and has gained nobility in the telling. But anecdotes after all are not the marrow of history. Something may be learned from Montesquieu as well as from Marmontel. Two lines from “Locksley Hall” exhibit the other method of interpreting history. The lines aim at nothing less than at once to condense and illumine the most pregnant epoch of modern times, the eighteenth century. This looks certainly like a preposterous abuse of that definition assigned to the drama, “an abstract and brief chronicle of the time.” Let us recall for a moment the period of Louis Quinze. The feudal system has fallen. The flowers are withered, the chains remain. The nobles have become courtiers, municipal privilege has perished, the peasant is a slave. Dishonor on the throne, bankruptcy in the treasury, the poor starving, the rich corrupt. Oppression tightening his grasp, and knowledge learning to realize the woe and to divine the remedy. On one side, despair that has begun to think of vengeance; on[249] the other, blind arrogance that does not dream of retribution. And now, is not the whole story told with almost terrible simplicity in the compass of these lines?

“Slowly comes a hungry people, as a lion creeping nigher
Glares at one that nods and blinks behind a slowly-dying fire.”

It may be said that Byron was well-read in history; but he held that only romantic characters and striking facts were fit subjects of poetic treatment. That is not our opinion. We believe Byron gave the best he had. Moreover, it is not true that poetry may borrow nothing from history but personal traits and isolated events. That narrow view of the poet’s province was corrected for English literature by the Paradise Regained. Poetry is no mendicant, to be put off with the stale scraps and shallow gossip of the servants’ hall. Her seat is at the high table, beside the masters of the house.

Tennyson, we are told, has no dramatic power. It is true that he has written no drama. Does it follow that he is wanting in dramatic power?

Derivation often tells us more of words than of men. A drama is something done, not told or sung; neither narrative nor ode, but something done. First, then, we must have doers; or, if you please, actors. Our actors must prove themselves alive, they must be impelled to move. The impelling force is incident. But detached scenes illustrative of character do not make a drama, incident is not plot. The action which develops character must at the same time tend toward a certain end, the catastrophe of the piece. A drama, then, in the strictest sense is this: a development of character in situations which excite to action in a particular direction.

Where the evolution of plot is subordinate to the portrayal of character, the drama is loose and inorganic, like many of Shakespeare’s plays. Where the elaboration of personal traits is merged in the accomplishment of the event, the drama leans toward the epic, like a tragedy of Æschylus. Perfect equimarch in the development of character and plot stamps the ideal drama. Dramatic power in this sense is one of the rarest of human gifts, and perhaps has been exerted nowhere but in the plays of Sophocles. The phrase has, in English criticism, a much narrower meaning, and points simply to the exhibition of character by action.

We acknowledge that those poems of Tennyson which preceded the “Idylls of the King” gave little evidence of dramatic talent. Like the works of Byron, they are for the most part lyrical, reflective. In them the “beings of the mind” are rather analyzed than animated. The poet interprets them. They do not speak for themselves. Even dramatic insight, which is another thing than dramatic power, seems at times to be wanting. Thus his “Ulysses” is a modern soul grappling with the framework of Homeric times. “Margaret,” “Madeleine,” “Isabel,” are lovely dreams, not lovely women. In the “Princess,” if anywhere, we should look for the development of character. But as the persons of the tale pass across the stage, we incline to suspect with the prince that they are but shadows, “and all the mind is clouded with a doubt.” Indeed, little Lillia, whose burst of pretty petulance suggests the theme, is by far the most lifelike figure.

But the judgment passed upon living poets is at best provisional, and subject to reversal on appeal. The writer of pastorals will perhaps produce an Æneid in his riper years; “L’Allegro” and “Lycidas” may be[250] succeeded by an epic. In the cluster of poems which embodies the Arthurian legends, there is much discrimination of character. The courtly flippancy of “Gawain” is distinguished from Tristram’s joyous levity. “Etarre” is vicious, “Vivien” is base. “Enid” is not a gentler being than “Elaine,” yet her meekness is finely contrasted with the latter’s emotional nature. In “Lancelot” we have a noble spirit in the toils of a great crime. In “Arthur,” the perfect equipose of character, illumined by a sublime resolve.

Nor are the foremost persons of the poems mere portraits. They are actors as well. They approach for the most part unheralded. Their temper and motives are self-betrayed, or hinted with a wise reserve. Their personal traits are evoked by incident or emphasized in dialogue. Here certainly is dramatic power of a certain kind. Not the highest which creates a drama—is it high enough for an epic? We incline to doubt. At least, it has produced none. We cannot allow that the “Idylls” which are grouped around the figure of the king constitute an epic poem.

The epic—we speak of the Æneid—is distinguished from the drama by this, that the development of character is subordinate to the evolution of plot, the actors are merged in the action. And as the drama may lean toward the epic, so the epic may lean toward history. That the poet unites in his own person the functions of scene-painter, machinist, and chorēgus, is only a difference of form.

Now, it is not so much grasp of character as nexus of plot that we miss in the “Idylls.” Scott’s Rokeby is an epic, yet Bertram Risingham is not more lifelike than “Lancelot.” But in Rokeby the story grows; one event generates another, the catastrophe is inevitable. Episodes are admitted in the epic, but they must be natural growths, or at least successful grafts. For example, “Elaine” and “Guinevere” stand in true organic relation, but “Enid” and “Vivien” have nothing in common with the rest of the cycle but their social atmosphere and casual reference to familiar names. In the poet’s mind, no doubt, the old Arthurian romances have been fused into a kind of unity. They present to him a coherent picture; discover a central thought. It is the soul at war with flesh, aspiration foiled by appetite, the eagle stung by the serpent. But he has conveyed the idea by short and random strokes. We catch only glimpses of it, and are not permitted to watch the progressive development. In the “Idylls of the King” there is the matter of an epic, but not the form. We should prefer to place them in a class apart, which might include the Faerie Queen.

On the range, finish, and accuracy of Tennyson’s diction, we need not dwell. But no view of a poet’s artistic powers would be complete without a glance at his command of melody and rhythm. For sweetness and clearness of tone, the choral hymn in the “Lotus-Eaters,” and the “Bugle” and “Cradle” songs which beguile entr’actes in the “Princess” are excelled by few English lyrics. In grasp of rhythm Tennyson yields to no recent poet, except Shelley. There is a striking instance of rhythmic effect in the “Palace of Sin.” A strain of music floats in upon the ear, deepens, swells, and at length bursts forth in an orchestral symphony.

Most of Tennyson’s later poems have been written in unrhymed pentameter, and his management of the verse suggests a comparison with his master. In dignity of movement, Milton has never been equalled by[251] any English poet. It seems that no line but his could express the lost archangel, or embody that vision of imperial Rome where sonorous names load as with cloth of gold the march of the stately iambics. Yet nothing could stoop more awkwardly to the quiet talk and joys of the married pair in Eden. While Tennyson’s blank verse falls short of his model in majesty and serried force, we must allow it to be more flexible. We cannot imagine the little novice using the Miltonic line. Her gentle thoughts would have been drowned in the mighty current, whereas Tennyson’s tripping vocables deliver with easy grace her artless prattle.

We can only allude to those experiments in metre which amuse the leisure of an artist, although one of them deserves attention. It is an ode to Milton:

“O mighty-mouthed inventor of harmonies,
O skilled to sing of time and eternity,
God-gifted organ-voice of England,
Milton, a name to resound for ages!”

Let the reader compare these lines with some familiar model of Alcaics like “Vides ut altâ,” and then ask himself whether quantity has hitherto had fair play in English verse.


What has art to do with morals? With what propriety shall a poet play the moralist? His purpose is distinct, his method is radically different, is his object ever identical? We know that it is not always so. In the face of outward nature the truthful artist is forbidden to read humanity. Hardly is Wordsworth suffered to discover here divinity. The Greek sculptor sought beauty, not goodness, in the daughters of men, and the lines that grew beneath his fingers breathe the harmony of grace, not the harmony of character. Does the application of these rigorous principles bound the sphere of genuine art? Do the good and the beautiful nowhere cohere and interfuse? They may—in the ideal. For what is beauty in things which disclose design but the reflex of perfection? And what is goodness but the perfection of the heart? In the scheme of ethics, vice is ugliness, error a discord, and weakness disproportion, character means equipoise, and virtue expresses harmony. But how shall art or ethics discern a moral symmetry, and crown a spiritual perfection, without a right conception of man’s nature, of his place and purpose, his relation to the universe and to God? So far as he portrays the heart, the poet must be a moralist. Within this domain the truest art will utter the purest morals.

It is a blessed law by which he who aims to please is constrained to edify. For reason is a disinherited prince, and the estate is too often squandered before he comes to his own. Pride rears the head against precept. The imagination flutters and beats her bars, until experience has clipped her wings. The ideal republic could ill afford to dispense with poets, for there is no lesson like the modest lesson of a lovely life. To our gaze perhaps the influence seems wholly lost, and yet may be only latent. This is sure, that virtue has still a foothold in the heart that keeps an altar to the beautiful. We know how many seeds of goodness, what germs of aspiration, are flung broadcast by the poet’s hand. Who will say that his random sowings may not stir in a genial hour, strike root in the depths of motive, and blossom in act and life? No thoughtful mind has failed to recognize the insight of Sidney’s words in his Defence of Poesy:[252] “For even those hard-hearted evil men who think virtue a school name, and know no other good but indulgere genio, yet will be content to be delighted, which is all the good-fellow poet seems to promise, and so steal to see the form of goodness, which, seen, they cannot but love ere themselves be aware, as if they had taken a medicine of cherries.”

The ethical standard is sensitive to the influence of climate and of race. The Italian and the German recognize the same virtues, but write them in different scales referred to a national key-note. The growth of knowledge and the expansion of sympathy determine a deeper change. From the age of Pericles to the age of Napoleon, the ideal of character has undergone alterations which have penetrated the essence and affected the type. Of certain virtues which fired the heart of an Athenian, we have kept nothing but the names, and we have canonized others of which he had no conception. The attitude of the individual man toward nature and society is constantly shifting under the pressure of ideas. The wave of inquiry which rose in civic revolution has swept in widening circles over the whole surface of opinion, and now dashes on the primal verities which declare the origin and destiny of man. The mind is active, but the heart of the age is perplexed and sad. She ponders painfully the riddle of the painful earth. She is lost in the great forest, the new paths are uncertain, the old to her seem overgrown. She is troubled with a vague unrest, beset with dark misgivings, by results she loathes to accept, doubts which she longs to silence, and hopes she dare not forego. Her mood is too grave and earnest for blithe and heedless carol. She cannot pause to hear the idle singer of an empty day. The music which holds her ear must be attuned to serious sympathy, must echo her own self-questionings, and breathe her aspirations. She puts aside from her lip the cup of distilled water, and turns to the mineral spring that savors of the rugged earth.

De Musset is not more essentially a child of the age than Tennyson. Both inherited in rare perfection the exquisite sensibility and high tension of the nervous system which are developed by modern life. In both the violence of emotion is succeeded by prolonged depression. Their joy is often rapture, and their sorrow anguish, but the prevailing tone is a dreamy languor that betrays fatigue. Their intellects were plunged in the same bath of learning, and tempered in the furnace of the time. They unite in regretting the trustful past, and complain that they were born too late into a sick and decrepit world. They pace together the shore of life, and gaze with wistful eyes over the expanse of ocean. But here the parallel ends. Their roads diverge in youth. Each obeys a different impulse, and learns a different lesson. The one hears a growing harmony in the voices of science, and perceives an increasing purpose in the movement of mankind. The other bows the head in stupor before the howling storm. Tennyson has a kindly glance and a cheery word for his fellow-men, they are his brothers, his co-workers, ever reaping something new. De Musset loads the heart with a sense of utter misery, and paralyzes the will by the infusion of his self-contempt. He is half-indignant that his spirit should be still haunted by a sublime aspiration, and confesses almost with a groan:

Une immense espérance a traversé la terre.[60]

It is in another mood that Tennyson hails the promise which he sees in the aspiration of the soul:


“What is it thou knowest, sweet voice? I cried,
A hidden hope, the voice replied.”

There are few words more painful to read than the prayer in “L’Espoir en Dieu.” The passionate queries are wrung from a breaking heart. We offer a rude but passably close translation of two stanzas. The poet demands:

“Wherefore in a work divine
So much of discord tarrieth?
To what good end disease and sin?
O God of justice! wherefore death?
“Wherefore suffer our unworth
To dream, and to divine, a God?
Doubt hath laid desolate the earth,
Our view is too narrow or too broad.”

Compare the rooted faith and serene calm of the poem to “In Memoriam:”

“Thine are these orbs of light and shade,
Thou madest life in man and brute,
Thou madest death, and, lo, thy foot
Is on the skull that thou hast made.
“Thou wilt not leave him in the dust,
Thou madest man, he knows not why,
He thinks he was not made to die,
And thou hast made him, thou art just.”

Much, no doubt, of the peculiar spirit that pervades the work of either poet may be traced to the social atmosphere in which he moved. Much also is only to be explained by the history of his life. Behind the “In Memoriam,” an unselfish and ennobling sorrow weeps and prays above a cherished grave. “In Rolla,” remorse sobs bitterly amid the ruins of a wasted life. The song has betrayed the singer. The one is the laureate of hope: the other, a prophet of despair. Tennyson is a night-worn pilgrim whose kindling eye has caught the glimmer of a lovely dawn; De Musset, a tired swimmer whose drowning cry leaps toward us from the gates of death. The poetry of De Musset is a convex lens which draws to a fiery focus the doubts and longings of the time; Tennyson’s, a stained rose-window, that subdues the flaring sunlight to a mild and tender radiance.

While man’s moral nature is developed and determined by his attitude toward society and his Maker, it is also profoundly affected by his attitude toward women. The relative position of woman has been rather raised than lowered by the movement of modern thought. Much has been deciphered by speculation, and much dissected by science, but the deep significance of the female character remains intact. In the fine atmosphere which nourished the musings of Richter, two earthly forms move freely, the maiden and the wife. In the long process of comparative anatomy, the beautiful first reveals itself in the sweet instinct that binds a mother to her offspring. Then first does the fire of Prometheus fairly catch the clay. The noblest instinct and the noblest aspiration have one element in common—the abnegation of self. Perhaps the one is but a reflex of the other. It is certain that the highest art has done the fullest justice to women. Let us measure Byron and Tennyson by this standard. To Byron, woman was an exquisite instrument which responds in perfect tune to the master-touch of passion. To Tennyson, she is an embodied spirit, who inspires and tempers man while she seems to obey his impulse. It is a shallow criticism which would excuse Byron’s low conception by an unfortunate experience. If personal experience be narrow, why not look beyond it? If the feet stumble in the mire, the eyes may still be lifted. The fact is, an irresistible instinct compels a genuine artist to discern and to preach the truth. His life may prove a rebel, but his work will pay tribute to Cæsar.

The author of “Godiva,” of[254] “Enid” and “Elaine” is eminently the poet of woman. It is especially worthy of remark that he should have maintained a distinct and lofty ideal throughout the Arthurian cycle. In the mediæval myths, the lineaments of the female character were sometimes clouded by the admixture of masculine traits. Through the Carlovingian romance that lives in Ariosto’s verse, there roves an unsexed and warlike virgin, whom the poet means us to admire; at whom we smile in secret. Tennyson has read woman’s nature with an insight too fine and delicate to place her in so false an attitude. There is no Bradamant in the “Idylls of the King.”

The unswerving justice of true genius finds consummate expression in the treatment of “Guinevere.” The wrong-doing of imperial beauty was a dangerous theme, and we may guess how it would have been handled by the author of “Parasina.” In the original legend the queen commanded sympathy, but she is now positively degraded by her preference for a meaner soul. It is Arthur’s doom, and no merit of hers, that he loves her still. There is little likelihood that a modern Francesca will borrow impulse or pretext from her story. It is amusing to find the lovers of Haidee and Gulnare scandalized by “Vivien.” If ever a vile nature was scorched and shrivelled by the flame of an honest wrath, that poem affords the spectacle. In wily Vivien, vice is neither condoned nor glozed, but simply stripped and gibbeted. The pure air which breathes throughout the “Idylls” is condensed in the lines of “Guinevere,” which declare the great purpose of the king. We may say with assurance that no other English poet, except Wordsworth, would have written them.

Tennyson has spoken words of comfort to many English hearts, and inspired with a noble purpose many English lives. His spirit has crossed the seas. To him and Wordsworth the youth of America owe much that they will not speedily forget. Other benefactors may receive some form of recompense, but how shall we repay a poet? It is not praise, but thanks we would offer Alfred Tennyson. Rare artist, and high teacher, sweet voice, pure heart, there are many who admire, and not a few who love him.




When the Christian religion had triumphed over idolatry, the principle of evil took refuge in heresy, and vigorously began a new attack upon the church. As women had once sealed their faith with their blood, so now they came eagerly forward to preach it by their learning. The centuries which produced the fathers of the church produced women also, to whom these great lights of the true faith were mainly indebted for their early education. The same circumstances also created women who, on the throne and in the council-chamber, governed turbulent nations and guided fierce passions, according to the rules of justice, honesty, and religion.

The mother of St. Gregory Nazianzen, Doctor of the Church, was Nonna, and is honored as a saint. Butler, in his Lives of the Saints, says: “She drew down the blessing of heaven upon her family by most bountiful and continual alms-deeds; ... yet, to satisfy the obligation of justice which she owed to her children, she, by her prudent economy, improved at the same time their patrimony.”

Here, therefore, in the fourth century, we find a woman commended for her practical knowledge of business and her skill in managing property. Ventura relates that, as soon as her son Gregory came into the world, she placed the Scriptures in his infant hands, and ever after inculcated in her teaching the greatest love and reverence for sacred learning. Nonna’s other children were both canonized, one of them, Gorgonia, having led the most exemplary life in the holy state of matrimony. (La Donna Cattolica, vol. i. pp. 431, 432.) St. Basil, who counted among his ancestry many martyrs of both sexes, was the son of St. Emelia, and the great-nephew of St. Macrina the Elder, of whom he says himself that he “counts it as one of the greatest benefits of Almighty God, and the truest of honors, to have been brought up by such a woman.” His elder sister, also named Macrina, was greatly instrumental in conducting his education. When after his death his brother, St. Gregory of Nyssa, went to visit their sister, and open his heart to her concerning their common sorrow, he found her dying, it is true, but so vigorous in mind that her discourse on the providence of God and the state of the soul after death was no less striking than comforting. He could hardly believe, says Ventura, that it was not a doctor of the church, a learned theologian, who was speaking to him; and so much did he treasure his sister’s words that he compiled his admirable Treatise of the Soul and The Resurrection chiefly from the matter furnished by her discourse. Macrina’s funeral was an ovation, and the bishop of the diocese held it an honor to be present thereat.


Olympias, the widow of Nembridius, the treasurer of the Emperor Theodosius the Great, flourished about the end of the fourth century, and was the friend and helper of St. John Chrysostom. His letters to her are part of his published works, and Nectarius, his predecessor in the Patriarchal chair of Constantinople, often consulted her on matters of ecclesiastical importance. When Chrysostom was persecuted and banished, she did not escape vexatious notice from heathen and heretical rulers; but through all, her fortitude would have done credit to the bravest man. The great patriarch charged her to continue, during his absence, “to serve the church with the same care and zeal” (Ventura, Donna Cattolica, p. 443), and elsewhere in his works says emphatically that “women, as well as men, can take part in any struggle for the cause of God and of the church.” (Epistle 124, to the Italians.) In a letter to her, he says that her presence was required at Constantinople to encourage the persecuted brethren, and in another he bids her exert all her resources to save the Bishop Maruthas from the abyss (he having given signs of yielding to heresy). Further on, in the same letter, he gives her instructions, almost amounting to a diplomatic and official mission, with regard to the request of the King of the Goths for a bishop and missionary in place of Aubinus the Apostle, who had just died, after converting many thousand of these barbarians. When St. Chrysostom sent a messenger to the Pope St. Innocent, at the beginning of the persecutions at Constantinople, he gave him letters of recommendation to none but a few Roman ladies—Proba, Juliana, and Demetrias.

The influence of Monica, the mother of St. Augustine, upon her wayward son, is so well known that it is almost superfluous to dwell on it; and St. Jerome, eminently a learned saint, was scarcely less connected with holy and well-taught women. He himself tells us that it was especially his friend and spiritual daughter Paula who engaged him in the study of the Old and New Testaments, and who induced him to translate the former from the original Hebrew. Rohrbacher, in his Ecclesiastical History, corroborates this statement; and Capefigue, in his Four First Ages of the Church, says that “the pure society of women had imparted to Jerome a heartfelt exaltation, a deep enthusiasm for all purity and nobility in themselves.” We learn from Butler (Lives of the Saints) that Marcella, one of the many matrons under St. Jerome’s instruction in Rome, made great progress in the critical learning of the Holy Scriptures, and learned in a short time many things which had cost him abundance of labor (vol. ix.). Other women, of whom we shall speak hereafter, were collected under his guidance; almost all are now canonized saints, and were celebrated even in their own day for their skill and erudition. The great Paula was the most illustrious among them, and he tells us of her as also of five or six others that they were as well acquainted with Hebrew as with Latin and Greek. To the daughter-in-law of St. Paula, Jerome wrote a letter full of minute and seemingly trivial details, concerning the education of her little daughter, who afterwards became St. Paula the Younger. It is of such quaint interest, and so calculated to give a high idea of the importance attached by the great doctor of the church to the minutiæ of a little girl’s daily life, that we cannot resist the temptation of quoting a few extracts from it:


“Let her be brought up as Samuel was in the temple, and the Baptist in the desert, in utter ignorance of vanity and vice; ... let her never hear bad words nor learn profane songs; ... let her have an alphabet of little letters made of box or ivory, the names of all which she must know, that she may play with them, and that learning may be made a diversion. When a little older, let her form each letter in wax with her finger, guided by another’s hand; then let her be invited, by prizes and presents suited to her age, to join syllables together.... Let her have companions to learn with her, that she may be spurred on by emulation.... She is not to be scolded or browbeaten if slower, but to be encouraged that she may rejoice to surpass, and be sorry to see herself outstripped and behind others, not envying their progress, but rejoicing at it while she reproaches herself with her own backwardness. Great care is to be taken that she conceive no aversion to studies, lest their bitterness remain in after-years. A master must be found for her, a man both of virtue and learning: nor will a great scholar think it beneath him to teach her the first elements of letters.... That is not to be contemned without which nothing great can be acquired. The very sounds of letters and the first rudiments are very different in a learned and in an unskilful mouth. Care must be taken that she be not accustomed by fond nurses to pronounce half-words, as it would prejudice her speech. Great care is necessary that she never learn what she will have afterwards to unlearn. The eloquence of the Gracchi derived its perfection from the mother’s elegance (of speech). No paint must ever touch her face or hair.” He is no less sensible and moderate in physical instructions than strict in things of the spiritual order. He says: “She should eat so as always to be hungry, and to be able to read or sing psalms immediately after meals. The immoderate long fasts of many displease me. I have learned by experience that the ass, much fatigued on the road, seeks rest at any cost. In a long journey, strength must be supported, lest, by running the first stage too fast, we should fall in the middle. In Lent, full scope is to be given to severe fasting.” He advises the young girl, when old enough, to read the works of St. Cyprian, the epistles of St. Athanasius, and the writings of St. Hilary. These are grave and abstruse studies, requiring much time and application, and as fully up to the standard of a modern male education as any woman could desire. St. Jerome himself was living at Bethlehem when he wrote this letter, and while recommending her mother to send little Paula to St. Paula the Elder for her later education, he himself promises to instruct her, adding that “he should be more honored by teaching the spouse of Christ than the philosopher [Aristotle] was in being preceptor to the Macedonian King.” It was the elder Paula who built St. Jerome the monastery of Bethlehem, in which he spent a great part of his life. She governed a monastery of women not far from it. St. Jerome, in his panegyric of her life, addressed to her daughter Eustochium, expresses himself in the following unequivocal language: “Were all the members of my body to be changed into tongues, and each fibre to utter articulate and human sounds, even then I could not worthily celebrate the virtues of the holy and venerable Paula.” As soon as her husband’s death left her the free use of a magnificent fortune, she liberated all the numerous retinue of[258] slaves that formed not only her household but her possessions. Hundreds of Christian masters and mistresses did the same, and treated their freed retainers as brethren and sisters in the faith, long before the philanthropy of modern times had begun to envelop in a halo of unusual heroism the sacrifice of slave property. From a noble Roman matron, placed by her birth in an assured position of great prominence, she became a voluntary exile and wanderer for the sake of planting the faith more firmly in the East. St. Jerome describes, in words full of sympathetic admiration, her pious visits to the Holy Places of Judea. She also made a pilgrimage to the home of monasticism, the Thebaïd and the Lybian desert. Humble as she was, fame followed and surrounded her. Pilgrims to Jerusalem counted her as one of the most consoling and admirable of the objects that claimed their devotion. Macarius, Arsenius, Serapion, famous lights of the church and patriarchs of the eremitical life, came from long distances and inaccessible solitudes to confer with her. At Jerusalem, she founded places of shelter and entertainment for the many pilgrims who flocked there; both at Rome and in the East, she was the mother and the idol of the poor, whose wants she relieved untiringly, and for whose sake she was often not only penniless, but in debt. Her last illness was like a royal levee, and bishops and patriarchs hastened to her bedside; her funeral, says Ventura, was almost a canonization. Bishops carried her body to its tomb, and for seven days sacred hymns and psalms echoed ceaselessly in the church of the Holy Grotto at Bethlehem, where the funeral service was performed in Latin, Greek, and Hebrew. Capefigue calls her the “most remarkably erudite woman of her age,” and her instincts of faith and learning alike made her intuitively aware of the artifices of the heretic Palladius, whose well-concealed Origenism she unmasked and denounced in presence of St. Jerome, when the wolf would have put on sheep’s clothing and deceived her simple nuns. Paula’s daughters—Blesilla, the learned and accomplished widow; Eustochium, the celebrated virgin to whom many of St. Jerome’s works are addressed or dedicated; Paulina, the model wife to whose influence over her saintly husband the first hospitals in the West are due—and their sister-in-law, Læta, the happy mother of the younger St. Paula, are all canonized saints of the church, and each of them the just pride of their sex in the respective walks of life to which they were destined. Fabiola, another of St. Jerome’s scholars, was the foundress of the first hospital absolutely established in Rome.

The church has never been chary of tendering graceful homage to the influence and ability of woman, and perhaps no more singular or flattering proof of this can be found than the pictorial honor which, Ventura assures us (Donna Cattolica, vol. i. p. 466), was offered by St. Gregory the Great to St. Sylvia, his mother. She was represented as sitting by his side, robed in white, and crowned with the mitre worn by doctors of theology, while the left hand held an open Psalter, and the right was raised with two fingers extended, in the attitude of benediction.

St. Ambrose, the Bishop of Milan, who was born and died in the fourth century, owed his early training of piety and solid learning to his mother, who was left a widow during his infancy, and to his elder sister Marcellina, to whom later on Christendom became indebted for the three admirable books he wrote on The State[259] of Virginity. Another of his famous works is a treatise on Widowhood. In one of his books on Virginity he meets the common though worn-out argument that virginity is a foe to the propagation of the human race. As this bears upon our general subject, though it be not immediately akin to it, we will stop to quote it. “Some complain,” he says, “that mankind will shortly fail if so many are consecrated virgins. I desire to know who ever wanted a wife and could not find one? The killing of an adulterer, the pursuing of waging war against a ravisher, are the consequences of marriage. The number of people is greatest where virginity is most esteemed. Inquire how many virgins are consecrated every year at Alexandria, all over the East, and in Africa, where there are more virgins than there are men in this country [Italy].” And Butler, in his Life of St. Ambrose, goes on to explain: “May not the French and Austrian Netherlands, full of numerous monasteries, yet covered with populous cities, be at present esteemed a proof of this remark? The populousness of China, where great numbers of new-born infants are daily exposed to perish, is a terrible proof that the voluntary virginity of some is no prejudice to the human race. Wars and the sea, not the number of virgins, are the destroyers of the human race, as St. Ambrose observes; though the state of virginity is not to be rashly engaged in, and marriage is not only holy, but the general state of mankind in the world.” Not only did St. Ambrose occupy his mind and pen with the concerns of holy and spotless women, but he did not think it beneath his dignity to write for those unhappy virgins who had fallen from their vows and thus been reft of their most precious heirloom. In the third book of his work on Virginity, he pays the following homage to Christian woman, such as she was in his age: “I have been a priest but three years,” he says, “and my experience has not been long enough to teach me what I have written. But what my own experience could not teach, the sight of your conduct has suggested. If, in this work, you find any flowers of thought, know that I have gathered them from your own lives. I do not so much give you precepts, as I draw examples from the behavior of living virgins, and set them before the eyes of the world. My discourse has only reproduced the image of your virtues. It is but the portrait of your own life, so grave and earnest, which you will see here, beaming with light as reflected from a mirror. If you find grace in these words, it is you who have inspired my mind with it. All that is good in this book belongs to you.” (Third book on Virgins.) What more graceful tribute, more appreciative homage, could man render to the opposite sex? Yet he who wrote this was a great and powerful bishop, a doctor of the church, a profoundly learned man, whose influence was spread through kingdoms, and whose advice was sought and followed by emperors. Here is yet another example of the distinguished part played by woman in affairs of the highest public importance. Capefigue, in his Four First Ages of the Church, says that in the churches of Rome might be seen the most noble matrons of the city, “who gave the first and greatest impulse to all Christian sentiments.” This was at the end of the fourth century, and the two Melanias were then foremost among the active and energetic women mentioned. The elder Melania, whose fortune was immense, and who was married early by her father,[260] the Consul Marcellinus, became a widow after a few years of married life, and thereafter devoted herself to the church. She travelled to Egypt and Palestine in the interests of the persecuted Patriarch Athanasius, whom she protected and supported with all the moral influence and temporal means at her command. The zealous and open protectress of more than five thousand Christians, the harborer of priests and bishops driven from their sees and parishes during the Arian persecutions of the Emperor Valens, she was herself cast into prison by the Governor of Jerusalem, to whom she spoke thus boldly and fearlessly: “Do not think to despise me because I wear poor garments: I might wear the robes of a princess, did I choose to do so. Do not think to intimidate me by your threats, for I have sufficient influence to protect me against the slightest aggression on your part. I tell you this, and give you this advice, that you may not through ignorance commit any error that might lead you into danger.” The courageous woman was released, and continued her ministrations of mercy. Her granddaughter, St. Melania, married young to a noble Roman, the descendant of the great Publicola, and the son of the Prefect of Rome, was even a more prominent personage than the elder Melania. After the birth and death of two children, she and her husband renounced their high position, freed eight thousand slaves, and sold their immense possessions in several parts of the Roman Empire for the benefit of the poor. They then retired to a quiet country solitude in Campania, and with several associates began leading “the perfect life” which we have so often seen attempted in vain in this age by refined and earnest souls without the bosom of the church. Here, their chief occupation was the study and the propagation of the Scriptures and other solid works of learning and faith. The works of the fathers were foremost among the latter, and Ventura says with truth that we may well thank woman when we read these admirable treatises, for without her help, care, and zeal they would be considerably less in number than they are. The love of the Scriptures and of Biblical lore seems thus to have been a distinctive mark of the sex in the early days of the church.

Melania and her companions after a time left Italy, and settled in Africa near Hippo, and there became the most active allies of St. Augustine. They also journeyed through Spain, Palestine, and Asia Minor, always in the interests of the faith, founding monasteries and schools, and assisting the poor and the persecuted. After her husband’s death, Melania, having been wrecked on the coast of Sicily, and having found several thousand Christians in bondage to barbarian idolaters, she redeemed and freed them all. At one time she held a high post at court, and exerted herself successfully in favor of orthodoxy. When the Nestorian heresy was making great progress in Asia and Africa, she uncompromisingly combated it by her influence and social talents, by the persuasion of her manner and the force of her arguments, as Ribadeneira testifies in the sketch he wrote of her life. Ventura asserts that she confounded Pelagius himself, who by all manner of arts endeavored to win her to his side; and it is known that, when St. Augustine failed to convert Volusian, the Prefect of Rome, and uncle to Melania, this heroic woman, according to Baronius, undertook to convince him, and succeeded most triumphantly. Melania’s funeral at Jerusalem was the occasion[261] of lavish homage to the power and influence of her sex; bishops and confessors were eager to show their respect and admiration, and the Christian world proved once more that “precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints.”

Marcella, one of St. Jerome’s spiritual daughters, and whose funeral eulogy he wrote, was, according to this great saint’s own words, “the greatest glory of the city of Rome.” When Alaric and his Goths invaded Rome, her house was broken into, and herself cruelly beaten and disfigured. All her reply was, “My gold I have given to the poor: you will find nothing in my possession but the tunic I wear.” She collected many holy and learned women around her, and her house was the rallying point of all Christians. All good works received their impetus from her, and she was often consulted by bishops and priests on questions of Biblical learning, after St. Jerome, who had taught her the Scriptures, had left Rome. Although consecrated virgins of both sexes abounded in her time, as yet no distinct community under a recognized rule had been formed in Rome. She undertook to establish the monastic life in the capital of the empire, and was the first to reduce to order the elements of which such a community might be formed. With the advice of St. Athanasius, and some fugitive priests of Alexandria, who took refuge in Rome in 340, during the Arian persecution in the East, Marcella gave up a country-seat of hers for a monastery, and adopted for the future religious the rule of St. Pachomius. The men followed her example, and assembled in concert to found communities of their own. Rome vied with the Thebaïd for sanctity and learning, and this was the work of a woman. When, in the seventh century, St. Benedict, the reformer and patriarch of all religious orders in Europe, reduced monasticism in the West to the state in which we know it in our own days, he was only, says Ventura (Donna Cattolica, vol. i. p. 488), walking in the path which the heroic women of Christendom had hewn out before him in imitation of the hermits and anchorites of the East. But Marcella shines no less as a pillar of orthodoxy than as the institutrix of Western monachism. When the Origenists, through the aid of the cunning Rufinus and the intriguing Macarius, who disseminated skilfully veiled errors in Rome, began to attack the integrity of the Christian faith, Marcella left her solitude, and came to the capital to confront the heresiarchs. The following details are all vouched for by St. Jerome in the funeral eulogy addressed by him to her friend and scholar Principia:[262] “The faith of the Roman people had been weakened on many points.... The new heresy had made many victims, even among priests and monks.... The Sovereign Pontiff himself, Siricius, who was as conspicuous for holy simplicity as for sanctity of life, and who judged of others by the candor of his own soul, seemed for a moment to have become the dupe of the hypocrisy of these new pharisees. The orthodoxy of the bishops Vincent, Eusebius, Paulinian, and Jerome had even been suspected, and, when they cried out that the wolf was in the fold, no one vouchsafed to listen to them. In this grave emergency, in presence of much coldness, indifference, and weakness on the part of men, God made use of the far-sightedness, the zeal, the courage of a woman to keep the faith intact in Rome. Marcella, more eager to please God than men, resisted the Origenist heresy publicly, vigorously, and efficaciously. She it was who by the very testimony of those who had first been deceived by the new errors and then abjured them, convinced every one of the real nature of the heretical doctrine. She stimulated the zeal of the Sovereign Pastor by proving to him how many souls had already gone astray.... She was the first to point out to him the disguised impieties of the garbled translations of Origen’s book on Principles, which Rufinus had translated and altered, and was now selling everywhere. She often summoned the heretics to come and justify themselves in Rome, but they dared not answer, and preferred being condemned as absent and contumacious, rather than be publicly confounded by a woman. At last, when a general condemnation was pronounced upon their doctrines, it was chiefly the result of Marcella’s vigilance.” Here, therefore, is a woman exerting a guiding influence on the destinies of the church by her learning, subtleness, and eloquence. If the women of the early centuries achieved such successes with the natural weapons of their sex and position, why do our sisters of the present day desire a reorganization of society, and a new accession of hitherto unknown and unnatural weapons? Why indeed but because the order of society sanctioned and regulated by the church has been subverted by the Reformation; the holy charter of woman abolished; and elegant and veiled Islamism, or in some instances a coarse and degrading barbarianism, inculcated and forcibly brought into action concerning woman, and the sex gradually forced out of its legitimate orbit, with its capabilities dwarfed, its intellect narrowed, its talents sneered at, and its affections repressed? The broad river of woman’s influence, flowing so calmly and majestically through the centuries of the church’s undisturbed unity, has been dammed up by the Protestant tradition of the last three hundred years, till it has broken forth again as a turbulent torrent, devastating where it once fertilized, disturbing where once it conciliated. In its new form and its strange aggressiveness, it now horrifies mankind, where in early days, in its legitimate sphere, it guided the greatest statesmen, orators, and saints, and gravely helped them on the road to heaven, to science, and to happiness. But we are digressing, for we have undertaken to speak of facts, not to declaim about theories. We have much ground to travel over yet before we come to the end of the list of glorious women who have made the church, so to speak, their panegyrist, and the world their debtor. We have once before mentioned the Roman ladies, Proba, Juliana, and Demetrias, to whom St. Chrysostom recommended his envoys and their mission to Pope St. Innocent. Demetrias was the daughter of the Consul Olibrius and of St. Juliana; Proba was her grandmother on her father’s side. The two widows, having converted their husbands, consecrated their after-lives to the education of Demetrias. St. Augustine was their friend and counsellor, and wrote them letters that are among the most prominent of his works. One to Proba is on the efficacy and the nature of prayer; another to Juliana treats of the advantages and duties of widowhood. When Demetrias announced her intention of remaining a virgin, the holy joy of the family knew no bounds, and the day of her formally receiving the veil was a festival for all Rome. St. Jerome honored her with a discourse which has come down to us in the shape of a Letter to Demetrias, followed by a treatise on Virginity, and not only did he interrupt for this purpose the grave commentaries[263] on the Scriptures in which he was engaged, but he also addressed to the parents of the virgin such congratulations as rang throughout Italy, and made the holy and happy trio the envy of every matron and maiden in the Christian world. (Ventura, Donna Cattolica, vol. i. p. 520.) The heresiarch Pelagius so little understood the importance of woman that he took the trouble to address to Demetrias a letter so long that it almost forms a book, which is still extant, and was intended to instil into her mind his insidious errors. St. Augustine, however, cautioned her against Pelagius, and bid her keep staunch to “the faith of Pope Innocent.”

There was one sphere which more than any other was christianized and influenced for good by women, and indeed could not have been otherwise sanctified—the sphere of the imperial court, both in Rome and in Constantinople. We have already seen empresses and relatives of the Cæsars becoming Christians and often martyrs, but it remained for the women of the fourth and fifth centuries to make the palace into a sanctuary and add the lustre of a heavenly crown to the majesty of an earthly sceptre. Constantine, under whose auspices Christianity first emerged from the Catacombs, was the gift of woman to the church. His mother Helena, his wife Fausta, and his mother-in-law Eutropia (the two latter being respectively the wife and daughter of Maximian-Herculeus) were zealous and devoted Christians, and to their influence are due the toleration and subsequently the favor with which the faith was treated by Constantine. Eusebius relates that Eutropia on her pilgrimage to the Holy Places found idols and sacrificial rites still flourishing near the famous oak of Mambre, where tradition places the scene of the visit of the three angels to Abraham. She wrote to her son-in-law in unconcealed indignation, and thus procured after a time the destruction of the shameful altars. Later on we find the emperor building a church on the identical spot. The progress of the Empress Helen through Palestine is as an ovation to the faith, and a record of churches built and monasteries founded in every Holy Place. She constantly besought her son’s aid and munificence in these undertakings, and extended the protection of his name to all Christian establishments in the East. We owe to her piety and energy the most solemn and the greatest of the memorials of the Passion, the Holy Cross on which our Lord suffered and died. It is likewise to her, a woman, that we owe one of the most beautiful of Christian churches, that of the Holy Sepulchre at Jerusalem, as well as one of the most interesting basilicas of Rome, Santa Croce in Gerusalemme, where a portion of the august relic of the cross was deposited. Her charities were numberless, her foundations magnificent. She alleviated the condition of those who were condemned to the mines, and freed many from chains and slavery. The city of Drepanum in Bythinia, where St. Lucian the martyr had died for his God, she so beautified and endowed in his honor that after her death her son changed its name to Helenopolis. Even the fame of the local and municipal life of many cities can be traced to the influence and activity of woman, and further on we shall see how some of her sex have laid colleges, schools, and universities under eternal obligations. Constance, the daughter of Constantine, was the first convert of the imperial family, and exercised no little influence over her father. She assembled numbers[264] of holy virgins, and consecrated herself with them in a state of virginity to the service of God and the poor. When Constantius, her brother, became emperor, and, favoring Arianism, called himself head of the church, while he exiled Pope Liberius, hundreds of the Roman ladies united in a deputation to protest against this illegal act. As long as the anti-Pope Felix remained in Rome, these same women utterly scorned his authority, and encouraged the people to refuse to hold communion with him. This firm attitude of the women of Rome had its reward, and Pope Liberius was at length recalled when the emperor perceived that the forced schism was likely to result in sedition against himself. Maximus, Emperor of the West, through the influence of his Christian wife, became the friend and protector of St. Martin of Tours; and Theodosius, the contemporary of St. Ambrose, was mainly guided in his wise and, upon the whole, salutary administration by his wife Placidia and his daughter Pulcheria. But his granddaughter, also named Pulcheria, and justly honored as a saint, was pre-eminently the glory of the Eastern Empire and the honor of her sex as well as of her order. Her reign was the triumph of the church, the golden age of justice, the realization of a Christian Utopia. When the tranquillity of the age was disturbed, it was through the decline of her influence and the triumph over her of her many enemies. When her father Arcadius died and left his throne to his son Theodosius, she was chosen not as regent, but as Augusta, or co-ruler and empress, with her brother, and moreover was entrusted with the care and responsibility of his education. The historian Rohrbacher, ever eager to extol the sex says of her: “It was a marvel, the equal of which has never been known either before or since, and which God wrought in those days for the glory of woman, whom his grace sanctified and his wisdom inspired—that a maiden of sixteen should govern successfully so vast an empire.” Pulcheria reduced the imperial household to a degree of order and decorum more resembling a college than a court; her brother’s masters were all chosen and approved by her, and the utmost respect was paid by her both to the laws and the prelates of the church. Alban Butler, in his Lives of the Saints, speaks of her and her reign in these terms:[265] “The imperial council was, through her discernment, composed of the wisest, most virtuous, and most experienced persons in the empire: yet, in deliberations, all of them readily acknowledged the superiority of her judgment and penetration. Her resolutions were the result of the most mature consideration, and she took care herself that all orders should be executed with incredible expedition, though always in the name of her brother, to whom she gave the honor and credit of all she did. She was herself well skilled in Greek and Latin, in history and other useful branches of literature, and was, as every one must be who is endowed with greatness of soul and a just idea of the dignity of the human mind, the declared patroness of the sciences and of both the useful and polite arts. Far from making religion subservient to policy, all her views and projects were regulated by it, and by this the happiness of her government was complete. She prevented by her prudence all revolts which ambition, jealousy, or envy might stir up to disturb the tranquillity of the church or state; she cemented a firm peace with all neighboring powers, and abolished the wretched remains of idolatry in several parts. Never did virtue reign in the oriental empire with greater lustre, never was the state more happy or more flourishing, nor was its name ever more respected even among barbarians, than whilst the reins of the government were in the hands of Pulcheria.” Ventura is not less explicit in praise of this great woman. After mentioning the different studies embraced in the plan of education which Pulcheria had traced for her brother, he says: “In these arrangements, both the subject-matter which was to occupy the young prince’s attention, and the time he was to spend in each occupation, were so judiciously and admirably managed that such a plan of education seemed rather the work of an experienced philosopher than that of a young girl of sixteen.... Theodosius possessed neither a generous soul nor exalted intellect; in fact, his was a nature scarcely above mediocrity. Pulcheria, however, by her enlightened efforts, succeeded in producing unexpected results from so thankless a field of labor.” (Donna Cattolica, vol. ii. pp. 23, 24.) Exiled and disgraced by the machinations of her frivolous sister-in-law, the Empress Eudocia, and the ambitious Chrysaphius, one of the courtiers, she left Constantinople and retired into the country, no more downcast in adversity than she had been elated in prosperity. Eudocia and Chrysaphius, unable to draw St. Flavian, the Patriarch of Constantinople, into their conspiracy against the noble exile, became violent partisans of Eutyches and his new heresy. Between the years 447 and 450 of the Christian era, the condition of the empire was perfectly chaotic; the heresies of the Eutychians, the Nestorians, and the Monothelites disturbed the public peace; morality was forgotten; the court became an assembly of intriguers; Theodosius himself was no longer obeyed at home or respected abroad. St. Leo the Pope, scandalized and grieved at such excesses, wrote to the emperor, the clergy, and the people of Constantinople, but reserved his most remarkable mission for Pulcheria. He says, “If you had received my former letters, you would certainly have already remedied these evils, for you have never failed the Christian faith, nor the clergy her guardians,” and towards the end of his letter he adds: “In the name of the blessed apostle St. Peter, I constitute you my special legate for the advancement of this matter before the emperor.” Referring to this magnificent elogium, the historian Rohrbacher remarks that, “when the Pope writes to the Emperor Theodosius, one would think he was addressing a woman; when, on the contrary, he writes to the ex-empress, one would imagine he was speaking to a man,” upon whose energy he could depend. In 450, the Emperor of the West, Valentinian, and his mother and wife, Placidia and Eudoxia, came to Rome, where the Pope entrusted them with the task of admonishing by letter the weak-minded Theodosius and his heretical followers. Thus was the power of woman and her influence in state affairs recognized and honored by the church from end to end of the Christian world. Pulcheria, urged by the entreaties of all these great and holy personages, boldly went to the court, reproached her brother, and by her firmness opened his eyes and restored peace, orthodoxy and morality in the distracted empire. Her brother’s death in 450 left her, by the universal consent of the people, once more ruler of the vast realm she had already so much benefited. Now again she evinced consummate wisdom in her choice of Marcian, the[266] most renowned soldier and most talented statesman of the empire, to be her husband and fellow-ruler. Under condition of preserving her early vow of perpetual chastity, she admitted him to an entire participation of her life and counsels, and together, with a strong yet gentle hand, they upheld and protected the fathers of the Council of Chalcedon. After three years of a wise and virtuous reign, Pulcheria died, lamented by the thousands of the poor and destitute whom she had never ceased to relieve, and honored by the church as the “guardian of the faith, the peace-maker, the defender of orthodoxy,” as the Chalcedonian fathers expressed it. The historian Gibbon, whose testimony can hardly be deemed interested, has thus outlined the history of her reign: “Her piety did not prevent Pulcheria from indefatigably devoting her attention to the affairs of the state, and indeed this princess was the only descendant of Theodosius the Great who seems to have inherited any part of his high courage and noble genius. She had acquired the familiar use of the Greek and Latin tongues, which she spoke and wrote with ease and grace in her speeches and writings relative to public affairs. Prudence always dictated her resolves. Her execution was prompt and decisive. Managing without ostentation all the intricacies of the government, she discreetly attributed to the talents of the emperor the long tranquillity of his reign. During the last years of his life, Europe was suffering cruelly under the invasion and ravages of Attila, King of the Huns, while peace continued to reign in the vast provinces of Asia.” (History of the Rise and Fall of the Roman Empire, vol. vi. chapter xxxii.)

The holy Pope St. Gregory the Great did not owe less to the influence and friendship of woman than Pope St. Leo. Among his many and remarkable letters, those addressed to the Empress Constantina and the Princess Theoclissa, wife and sister of Maurice, Emperor of the East, are not the least admirable. The emperor being both imbecile and miserly, and of a nature utterly despicable, the only bulwark of orthodoxy against the heretics lay in the strenuous and continued efforts of these two women in favor of the church. When Phocus, a general of Maurice, freed the indignant empire from its supine and debased ruler, his wife the Empress Leontia took the place of the former princesses, and continued their work of protecting the faith of the Councils. In the West, where the Lombards were successfully laying the foundation of the future power they were destined to wield, it was chiefly to a woman that Gregory the Great looked to defend the interests of religion, and saw among these half-reclaimed barbarians the seeds of Christian chivalry. Theodolinda was his pupil and correspondent, and by her care the future King of the Lombards, Adoloaldus, was baptized and brought up a Christian. In the matter of the great expedition which resulted in the final conversion of England, the same Pope testifies by his letters that Bertha, the wife of King Ethelbert, and Brunehault, Queen of the Franks, were chiefly instrumental in aiding and countenancing St. Augustine in his mission. He says to Brunehault:[267] “We are not ignorant of the help you have afforded our brother Augustine.... It must be a source of great rejoicing to you that no one has had a greater share in this work than yourself. For, if that nation [the Saxons] has had the blessing of hearing the Word of God and the preaching of the Gospel, it is to you, under God, that they owe it.”

The throne of Constantinople was to be honored yet by another sainted empress, the worthy successor of Pulcheria, and, like her, an able ally of the Pope and the orthodox patriarch of her own capital. Once more, through the vices and indifference of men, a heresy had arisen and flourished, the heresy of the Iconoclasts. Great persecution had been suffered by the faithful, during the reign of Leo, the husband of our heroine Irene, and the new heretics, had completely triumphed. At his death, his widow became regent for her young son. The clergy, the nobility, and especially the army, were arrayed on the side of the Iconoclasts. Irene was as prudent in action as she was zealous in heart. The persecutions against the followers of the Pope were first merely suspended, thought and speech were once more free, and gradually a reaction began to take place. The patriarchal see of Constantinople becoming vacant by the death of Paul, the finally repentant abettor of the unhappy heresy, it was Irene who proposed the election of Tarasius, the most popular, most pious, and most talented man among her subjects. He, too, was the product of a wise and holy woman’s training, and the name of his mother, Eucratia, is among the saints. Having thus paved the way, the empress wrote to Pope Adrian about the year 786, and begged him to assemble a general council to further the interests of religion and cement the peace of Christendom. The council, which was the second of Nicea, took place according to this suggestion, upon which the Pope, through his legates, formally congratulated the empress. The utmost success having attended the sittings of the council, and the faith having been triumphantly vindicated against the Iconoclasts and their errors, the empress sent to entreat the assembled fathers to hold one final and ceremonial sitting in Constantinople itself. She procured an efficient guard among the orthodox cohorts of the imperial army, and prepared an immense hall in the palace for the gathering of the council. Ventura describes the scene thus: “The Pope’s legates waived their right of precedence in favor of Irene, and the astonishing spectacle was seen of a woman, accompanied by a child twelve years old (her son), presiding over one of the most august assemblies of the church. The sitting was opened by a discourse by the empress, in which she spoke, both in her son’s name and in her own, with so much eloquence, warmth, and grace, that the greatest emotion was manifested throughout the assembly; tears of joy flowed from the eyes of all present, and the last words of Irene were followed by the most heartfelt acclamations.... The enthusiasm was at its height, when, in the assembly and also to the people without, the decree or definition of faith made by the council was read, and the empress claimed her right to be the first to sign it.... It must never be forgotten that this great council, as well as its consequences, which put an end to a great heresy and restored Catholicism in the East, was the thought and work of a woman, and that it was a woman-sovereign (un empereur-femme) who alone by her discreet and courageous zeal knew how to blot out and destroy the scandals caused by three men-sovereigns and even a great number of bishops themselves.” (Donna Cattolica, vol. ii. pp. 55, 56.)

Before the Empire of the East became totally degraded, another sovereign, another woman, lent it[268] the glory of her reputation. The Iconoclasts, profiting by the treacherous support of succeeding emperors, again renewed their hostilities against orthodoxy, but were speedily checked once more by a brave Christian woman, the Empress Theodosia, widow of Theophilus, and of whom Rohrbacher says: “If in the West the temporal sovereigns were insignificant, in the East they were detestable. There was but one exception, and that was a woman, the Empress St. Theodosia. She began her reign after the death of her unworthy husband—whom she had succeeded, however, in converting on his death-bed—by threatening the heretical patriarch, Lecanomantes, with the condemnation of the coming council unless he consented to vacate his see and renounce his errors. He refused, and the council assembled within the walls of the imperial palace. The Iconoclast heresy was again solemnly denounced, and the previous Council of Nicea confirmed. For the countenance and protection afforded by her to the church, the empress only asked as a reward that the prelates should pray for the forgiveness of the sin of heresy which her husband had committed. Theodosia celebrated this new victory of the church with becoming solemnity, and instituted in its honor a festival, which is observed to this day under the name of the ‘festival of orthodoxy.’ When Methodius, the holy Patriarch of Constantinople, died, she replaced him by St. Ignatius, the friend of the Pope, St. Nicholas I. She made peace with the Bulgarians, whom the Pope was interested in converting to the faith, and seconded his efforts by procuring the conversion of the captive Bulgarian princess, sister to King Bogoris, whom she afterward freed and sent back to her brother. This princess became the Clotildis of her people, and, together with Formosus, the Pope’s legate, and St. Cyril, Theodosia’s envoy, effected the conversion of the whole Bulgarian nation in 861.”

Other Danubian tribes also owed their conversion to Theodosia; she sent missionaries to the Khazars and the Moravians, whose chief specially addressed himself to her for instruction. Her son Michael, when he came to the throne, renewed the horrors of the pagan empire of Caligula and Domitian, persecuted his mother and sisters, exiled and deposed the Patriarch Ignatius, and put the heretic Photius into his place. One of his captains, Basil, put a violent end to his infamous reign, and, though inexcusable in the eyes of the ecclesiastical law, yet redeemed his act by the utmost deference to Theodosia and devotion to religion. The empire breathed again, and Theodosia’s counsels procured another general assembly of the church at Constantinople, when Photius was condemned and the rightful patriarch reinstated in his authority. After the death of the empress, the heresy of Photius revived and spread, and, schism becoming more or less general, the empire began to degenerate, until its very name, the “Lower Empire,” became a synonym for all degradation and hopeless ruin. Ventura, who says truly that real sanctity is impossible in the bosom of voluntary schism, attributes the degeneracy of the Empire of the East to the want of strong and generous women, such as those whom we have briefly sketched in this article, and asserts that the very accumulation of evils which this scarcity of holy women has heaped upon the church during some of the darkest periods of her history, is in itself a proof of the paramount importance of woman[269] in the work of the propagation and protection of true religion.

We are now close upon the mediæval times, when the glory of the sex shone forth again in the West, and counted as many champions as there were kingdoms to convert, universities to endow, courts to reform, and infidel powers to overthrow. The influence of woman began to be recognized in society as it had always been in the church; chivalry taught men to place the honor of woman next in their estimation to faith in God, and equal with loyalty to their king and patriotism to their country. We can find no more beautiful, no more Catholic, expression of this sovereignty of woman’s pure and ennobling influence, as consecrated by the church’s approbation, and guarded by all that is noblest and most generous in man, than the following extract from a modern poet, whose inspiration, like that of all true artists, is drawn perforce from the legends of Catholic antiquity. The poet of the Holy Grail is also the poet of woman; the legends of the deeds of the prowess of knights, whose names are perchance but myths as to actual history, but nevertheless are human types of the exalted ideal of the old Catholic days, are inevitably mingled with legends of the vows of holy chastity, and the pure and stainless lives of many of those renowned heroes of the field and tournament. Let the following serve as an introduction to our next article, which will treat chiefly of the great women of the Middle Ages:

“For when the Roman left us, and their law
Relaxed its hold upon us, and the ways
Were filled with rapine, here and there a deed
Of prowess done redressed a random wrong.
But I was first of all the kings who drew
The knighthood-errant of this realm and all
The realms together under me, their head,
In that fair Order of my Table Round,
A glorious company, the flower of men,
To serve as model for the mighty world,
And be the fair beginning of a time.
I made them lay their hands in mine, and swear
To reverence the king as if he were
Their conscience and their conscience as their king,
To break the heathen and uphold the Christ,
To ride abroad, redressing human wrongs,
To speak no slander, no, nor listen to it,
To lead sweet lives in purest chastity,
To love one maiden only, cleave to her,
And worship her by years of noble deeds,
Until they won her; for indeed I knew
Of no more subtle master under heaven
Than is the maiden passion for a maid,
Not only to keep down the base in man,
But teach high thought, and amiable words,
And courtliness, and the desire of fame,
And love of truth, and all that makes a man.
And all this throve.... I wedded thee,
Believing, lo! mine helpmate, one to feel
My purpose, and rejoicing in my joy.”
Tennyson, Idylls of the King.


Sweet image of the one I love,
To whom your infant years were given
(And still the faithful colors[61] prove
A constancy not all in heaven):
To me a violet near a brink,
Far-hidden from the beaten way,
And where but rarest flowerets drink
A freshness from the ripples’ play:
A lily in a vale of rest,
And where the angels know a nook
But one shy form has ever prest—
A poet with a poet’s book.
But poet’s book has never said
What I, O lily, find in you:
’Twas never writ and never read,
Though always old and always new.
And ah, that you must change and go—
The violet fade, the lily die!
Let others joy to watch you grow;
Let others smile: so will not I.
Yet smile I should. Is heaven a dream?
In sooth, he needs to be forgiven
Who matches with the things that seem
A deathless flower, that blooms for heaven.
And while he mourns the onward years
That sweep you from the things that seem,
Let faith make sunshine on his tears:
’Tis heaven is real, and earth the dream.


Very recently, the Liberal Italian party, finding that their Catholic opponents were in no wise damaged by arguments drawn from a denial of God’s concern in human affairs, has changed its tactics, and proposes now to convert us clericals by appeals to our religious sensibilities. We are assaulted by a theological attack ad hominem, which they tell us is so conclusive that, if we do not acknowledge ourselves beaten, it is because we have lost our reason and renounced the faith.

“You believe,” say they,[271] “in the providence of God. You recognize his hand in all the events of life, and you profess to bless and bow to the divine decrees. Well, then, Providence, you perceive, has smiled graciously on us and on our work—a work which you execrate and detest. Providence is plainly on our side. He declares himself for us and against you. Submit, then, to his decrees. Lay aside this idle expectation of the triumph of your cause, which is evidently opposed to the holy will of God. Accept accomplished facts. Reconcile yourselves with Italy, our glorious new kingdom, and cease, amid your noisy professions of religion, to rebel against the will of the Most High.”

Such in its naked substance is the argument to which the Liberals now exultingly resort; more especially since the breach of Porta Pia and the successful picking of the locks of the Quirinal. They hope in this way to convict us of apostasy from the faith, and (what they deem still more atrocious) of an unpardonable outrage against the laws of “the human understanding.”

“It seems incredible,” they go on to say, “that, after such positive proofs of a special protection vouchsafed by Providence to regenerate Italy, the clerical party should cling so stubbornly to the hope of a resuscitation of the past—a past which, were it not already irrevocably condemned by the logic of events, would be condemned by their own theory of an all-seeing and all-wise God.” This is the language in which the Jewish journal L’Opinione, after taking Roman ground at the close of the year just elapsed, expressed this very formidable argument. They had already uttered it some hundred times before. Many sheets of less importance had got up an industrious echo to this cry; and one in particular, a petty Florentine print, undertakes to celebrate the new year by magnifying “the caresses of Providence” bestowed upon the little darling angel, Italy, born, as everybody knows, of the wonderful shrewdness of the Italian people and their undying love of liberty—a liberty, by the way, which never fails to exemplify itself by a free and strenuous appropriation of a weaker neighbor’s earthly goods. Strange indeed it is that men, who never were known as professed believers in any other divinity than Mammon, should now, after having derided for years, and with every mark of blasphemous scorn, “the finger of God,” suddenly assume the office of apostles of a new idea of Christian Providence. Strange it is that only now, after the plunder of a city gained by battering down walls and picking locks with forged keys—that these men, we say, should chant the praises of the God they had defied, and defend his holy decrees against the “scandalous negations” of the Catholic Church. Strangest is it of all, that the prince of these extraordinary apostles should be no other than the so-called Jew proprietor of the Opinione—who is not even a Jew; for he has always shown that he believes as little of the Old Testament as he does of the New.


“To what infamies untold
Hast thou man’s nature not controlled,
Thou execrable greed of gold!”

Solid or not, this argumentum ad hominem has for a certain class of minds an air of great plausibility. At all events, it might be well to look into it a little; for we may thereby throw some light upon several important truths which nowadays need special illumination. We let in the argument, therefore, as the new Jewish and infidel philosophers present it; and we propose to give them, in a nutshell, the proper answer to it. They will then understand why Catholics not only refuse to surrender to this showing, but, on the contrary, see in it reason to stand firm to their first faith, and to cherish unceasing hopes of the speedy triumph of their cause.

Yes, gentlemen, we Catholics believe, with all our heart and soul, in the holy providence of God. In this Providence we recognize the origin and order of all created things. We make it indeed our glory that we bless and humbly worship its adorable decrees. We confess, therefore, without reserve, that what you choose[272] to call its “loving caresses” are really yours by divine appointment; and the very decree which to you is the source of so much joy, and to us of so much mourning, we adore as the undoubted manifestation of his most holy will. All this we freely admit as truth, as unquestionable, unanswerable truth. But while, in these explicit terms, we confess this Catholic verity, we deny, in equally explicit terms, that what you choose to call “caresses” are in any sense such to you, or that the palpable proofs of that “special protection” of which you make so vain a boast are proofs of anything but the very opposite; nay, so false is it, that the caresses you claim are marks of divine approval, that the very assertion is a blasphemy most insulting to the sovereign providence of God. To prove these propositions is an easy thing to any one who knows his catechism; and the understanding of them easier still to any one who believes as well as knows. To him who either does not know his Christian primer, or, knowing it, will not believe, they may seem incapable of either proof or comprehension. Should such a case present itself, the fault is certainly not ours. A poet tells us that:

“Of winds the sailor ever loves to speak,
Of arms the soldier, and the boor of swine;
The astronomer, of planet, moon, and stars;
Of palaces and piers, the architect;
The juggling necromancer prates of ghosts,
And the old harper of his well thrummed strains.”

If so, why is it that this Jew, instead of sticking like a worthy Hebrew to his stock-list, takes to teaching us the Christian catechism? And why is it that this worshipper of Voltaire, instead of chanting hymns to Venus, reads us a lecture on what he knows about the purposes of God? Sutor ne ultra crepidam.

Nevertheless, we proceed to explain the propositions advanced above.

Catholics acknowledge that every event, be it favorable or unfavorable to their prayers, is consistent with the providence of God. To Providence they refer evil as well as good, with this difference, that good and unblamable evil they ascribe to the decrees of his sovereign direction, but blamable evil they ascribe to his permissive decree. In a word, they believe and confess that God wills positively all that comes to pass without taint of moral evil, and wills negatively (that is, he does not preclude) what comes to pass so tainted by cause of man’s abuse of his free-will. They nevertheless hold and profess that whatever evil he permits, that also is ordained to good; so that nothing enters into those most just and wise decrees that does not aim effectively at the final design of the creation and redemption of mankind; which design in this life is the church militant, and, in the next, the church triumphant, the central point of his extrinsic glorification.

The reason, then, that Catholics hold and profess that God does not and cannot decree, otherwise than permissively, moral evil—that is, disobedience, injustice, or briefly sin—is that he neither participates nor can participate in evil of this nature which is essentially opposed to his infinite sanctity. He would, in fact, participate therein if he willed it positively and not merely negatively; whereas, permitting it only, he in no wise participates, though he allows man, whom he had created free, to make an evil use of the gift of liberty. He does not hinder him, because neither is he so obliged, nor can the divine hindrance of human freedom be exacted by the nature of man left free. With all this, God is in no wise the less able to secure for himself,[273] always and in every case and from every human being, the external glory which he reserved to himself when he created man. Because, he who shall not glorify in heaven an infinite mercy granted to the good use of the free-will, shall glorify in hell an infinite justice merited by the abuse of this same free-will. Hence the Almighty will not be shorn of the least shadow of that glory, for which, among other things, he drew man out of the abyss of nothingness.

Catholics, moreover, believe and confess that the effects of moral evil are invariably directed by Almighty God to the good of mankind. They serve to punish in order to amend, or else to exercise in order to confirm. St. Augustine remarks, with his usual perspicacity, that the life of a bad man is often prolonged not only to afford an opportunity for his amendment, but to serve as an occasion of sanctification to the good. Ne putetis gratis esse malos in hoc mundo, et nihil boni de eis agere Deum. Omnis malus aut ideo vivit ut corrigatur, aut ideo vivit ut per illum bonus exerceatur.[62]

Hence it is that Catholics, in all emergencies, even in the most calamitous, nay, even in those caused by the worst iniquities of unscrupulous men, do not fail to adore the goodness and justice of Almighty God, and to acknowledge the inscrutable dispositions of his most holy will. But they never think of imputing to him the sins and transgressions of the wicked. These he neither wills nor is he capable of willing them. He permits them only as subserving his mercy or his justice.

It follows, then, that, in order to decide whether the easy successes of certain definite transactions are successes due to divine approbation, and palpable proofs of his gracious protection, or whether rather they are not facilities that Providence permits for the punishment of the wicked and for the chastening of the virtuously minded, it is essential to see first whether these definite acts are right or wrong, meritorious or sinful; that is, conformable or unconformable to the law of eternal justice, and to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Now, certain it is that in those transactions which the enemies of Christ regard as sanctioned by the manifest “caresses” of Almighty God, Catholic Christians see nothing but acts of iniquity and sin; and accordingly, while they accept them as permitted by God for reasons and results full of justice and mercy, they nevertheless esteem it the height of blasphemy to look upon such outrages, however successful for the moment, as “caresses” bestowed by Providence upon the very men who at other times deny his existence or treat his word with open scorn and contempt.

We have thus, as briefly and as lucidly as we could, and with the Christian catechism for our guide, explained to these Jews who are no Jews, and to these philosophers who are no philosophers, the sense of the propositions we affirm.

Perhaps they will now require of us to prove that the acts referred to are acts of iniquity and sin. This is very much like asking us to prove that the sun is shining, when it is evidently blazing at mid-day. We let pass that the highest authority on earth has pronounced, again and again, that the acts are simply acts most sinful and sacrilegious. We let pass that the concurrent testimony of all minds endowed with natural rectitude of judgment (not excluding Protestants nor Israelites nor Turks) has confirmed and reconfirmed the[274] condemnations spoken already by Pope, by church, and by the entire Catholic world. It is enough that the authors and prime movers of these outrages proclaimed and stamped them as dishonorable and base before they perpetrated them, and even in the very act of their perpetration. Can these apostolic gentlemen, now so anxious for the conversion of the Catholic Church, be ignorant, for instance, that two of the Subalpine ministry, Visconti-Venosta and Lanza, declared the invasion of Rome and the usurpation of the Papal power acts of barbarism destitute of every semblance of right? And are they not aware that they so avouched just one short month before both invasion and usurpation were consummated by burglary and breach?

Who can hope, then, to persuade a Catholic that these successful shells, pick-locks, and jimmies have not been instruments of the most iniquitous wrong-doing, seeing that these two men, in the face of heaven and earth, averred its baseness themselves only a few weeks before the formal consummation of the act? Perhaps, too, our converters have never heard how their divine Camillo Cavour said one day to their other divine Massimo d’Azeglio, who has recorded it ad perpetuam rei memoriam: “If what we are doing for Italy, you and I had done for ourselves, what a precious pair of big balossi we should have been!” The Opinione knows too well the sense of the Subalpine word balosso that we should put it into good Italian. The editor and his pharisaical colleagues have learned, no doubt, the lovely dialect of the northern masters they have chosen for Italy and for themselves. They can teach us, we dare say, the full force of this fine word balosso; that it means all that is contained in the words scamp, scoundrel, robber, rascal, villain, ruffian, knave. Can Catholics, then, be easily persuaded that the facts accomplished by Azeglio and Cavour for the regeneration of Italy have been free from sin and iniquity, seeing that these two divines have stigmatized them as the acts of men bad enough to be balossi? For be it observed that Azeglio himself admits that what is criminal in private life is no less criminal in public;[63] showing (though we are losing time in the attempt to throw light upon the sun) that our apostolic friends, in order to justify the accomplished facts resorted to for Italy’s new birth, have been obliged to invent a modern social law the converse of the ancient one ordained by God himself.

If this be admitted, what can prove more incontestably that the acts complained of were acts of sin and iniquity; sin being any act contrary to God’s commands, and iniquity an act opposed to the justice he enjoins?

But Catholics may go further, and say to the apostles of our conversion that not only are the means used for the regeneration of Italy sinful and iniquitous, but that the end itself aimed at by the ringleaders of this pretended regeneration is absolutely antichristian and diabolical, being nothing less than the demolition of the Catholic Church and the annihilation of the kingdom of God among men. Of course, the end is simply absurd, and rendered impossible by the excess of its absurdity. But nevertheless, though it cannot exist as a thing attainable, it does exist as a thing conceivable, and as such inspires the mad career of Masonry, which pursues it with satanic rage and open ostentation as the main objective point of the machinations of the sect.


Mazzini, to whom the regenerators are indebted for their grand idea, aimed as far ago as 1834 at the abolition of the temporal power, without regard to cost. His argument was that the downfall of this power carried with it, as a necessary consequence, the emancipation of the human race from the thraldom of the spiritual power. “The Vicars of Christ” he called “Vicars of the Spirit of Evil, to be exterminated, never to be restored.”[64] Visconti-Venosta, a member of the present Italian cabinet, wrote to Mazzini, in 1851, that the rallying-cry of the regeneration should be, “Down with the Monarchy, down with the Papacy.”[65]

Ferrari, the philosopher of the movement, proclaimed in 1853 that the end it proposed was the stamping out of Pope and Emperor, of Christ and Cæsar; the four tyrannies that Machiavelli had delivered over to Italian hate.[66]

To make this matter short, though we might go on for ever, the more rabid partisans of the regeneration do not blush to say that the essential end of the great Italian movement is the emancipation of human consciences from the authority of the church, by laying prostrate the colossus against whom Luther, Calvin, and Henry VIII. ineffectually strove. They aim, in a word, at the radical destruction of the entire Catholic Church; to which end, nationality, unity, political liberty itself, were always to be regarded as nothing more than the means.[67]

These preliminaries being understood, our free-thinking friends ought to see that their argument, derived from what they call “providential protection” to their sacrilegious acts, strikes the Catholic mind as a shocking blasphemy, because it makes our blessed Lord an accomplice in detestable transactions, and an instigator to the worst of crimes—a deliberate plotter, in short, of the ruin of that church which is the masterpiece of his wisdom, and the object of his infinite love. We have no objections to their saying that the anger of God has unchained their barbarous allies, and for a time has left them free to do their worst against the children of the church. They may say all this, and Catholics will assent and even approve—not the animus, but the words. They will exclaim with St. Jerome of old, when the barbarians of that day were making havoc of the things of God: Peccatis nostris barbari fortes sunt[68]—“In our sins the barbarians are strong.” But let them not venture to say that Almighty God, because he allows them a fatal facility of blasphemous impiety, protects and even caresses this impiety. For religious men will answer them: Yes, he protects and caresses you, as he protected and caressed the crucifiers of his only-begotten Son.

And here we entreat the Israelitish editor of the Opinione to pay strict attention to what we have to say, inasmuch as it concerns him in his nationality; since he is an Israelite by nature and nation, and Italian only by the place of his accidental birth.

The synagogue, sustained by the coalition of Pharisees and Sadducees, undertook to regenerate Judea by taking the life of Jesus, Son of God, true God and true Man. The great sin of Jesus Christ in the eyes of the synagogue was similar to that of the church of Jesus in the eyes of the Masonic Order. He was the Son of God and the Word of Truth, as the[276] church is his spouse and the organ of the truth.

But there stood many obstacles in the way of compassing his death. First, there needed a lawful sanction, and there was none. Secondly, it was necessary to take him captive, a very dangerous undertaking, for he was always surrounded by throngs of devoted followers and friends. Thirdly, it was necessary to keep the people in good humor, or, as Jesus was their principal benefactor, they might rebel against this public execution. Fourthly, it was necessary to ascertain that the Romans, who had cognizance of capital cases in Palestine, would connive at his trial for life and at his sentence to death. Fifthly, they had to risk the display of his miraculous power, for his miracles surpassed all that had ever been seen in Israel. It must be admitted that these difficulties were very formidable. Yet what happened? Everything was made easy. The sanction of law was found in a tissue of lies and political misindictments, successful beyond all expectation. His capture proved the easiest imaginable, through the unexpected treachery of one of his own disciples, who sold him for a bauble. The populace was led with wonderful facility not only not to rise to his rescue, but in a solemn plébiscite to save the robber Barabbas at his expense, and to sentence him to an ignominious death. The Romans made some show, through Pilate, in his defence; but after five times declaring him innocent of every charge, condemned him to the cross, following the will of the synagogue to the last; and finally Jesus, though challenged with insult to the exercise of his supernatural powers, abstained mysteriously from their use, and did nothing to withdraw himself from torture or death. Could any greater facility of consummation be imagined than was here shown in the accomplishment of this tremendous deicidal act? But will our Israelitish apostle have the heart to undertake to win over Italian Catholics to the belief that the wonderful success of the crucifixion (permitted, as it undeniably was) is to be construed as a caress bestowed by Providence upon a corrupt and apostate synagogue, and as a palpable and unmistakable proof of his protection of the bloody and treacherous council that sentenced him to death?

Between the Jewish sacrilege directed against the adorable Person of the Incarnate Word, and the Italian sacrilege against the Vicar of that Word, there is but this distinction: that the Person aimed at in the former was God present in his human nature, and the Person aimed at in the latter was God present in his church.

In the days of Pontius Pilate and Caiphas, the Jews slew the material body of our Blessed Lord: the latter-day Jews, in these days of Lanza and Visconti-Venosta, would, if they could, slay the Spiritual Body of the same Jesus Christ. And do you dare, wretched Pharisees, to ask of us Catholic believers to recognize in the facilities that have attended until now this monstrous sacrilege of yours, this second deicidal act, the smiles of an approving Providence, and the marks of a divine protection accorded to the prompt success of your heaven-defying crime?

The capital error of the gross and impious sophism now the subject of our comment, consists evidently in the assumption that easy and unexpected success (in operations ordinarily of a very arduous character) is a sure note of the divine approval, even when the accomplished facts are manifest breaches of the Decalogue.


A proposition of this sort, if it had the least value, would serve to sanction any atrocity, however monstrous, provided it were only successfully and rapidly achieved.

Such wretches as Passatori, Ninco Nanchi, Carusi, and Troppmann ought in this view to be regarded as protected and caressed by Divine Providence. Every prosperous villain would only have to quote to his judges the argument of the Opinione to conciliate their approbation, and to obtain from them not only an acquittal, but an honorable testimonial in high praise of these favorites of heaven.

True it is, however, that a striking and brilliant success dazzles the judgment of men without faith, or of men with faith as sensual as their flesh.

We Catholics, on the contrary, are rich in the possession of a divine promise which keeps us cheerful and buoyant with hope in the face of what seems like the final triumph of the wicked. And this is more especially true when we have to deal with those who plot against the church and its visible Head, adversus Dominum, et adversus Christum ejus. Nobody that we know of has set this promise in a truer light than P. Paul Segneri, and we take the liberty to transcribe here for our readers two or three passages of his, which are just so much gold to the purpose we have in view.

“‘The prosperity of fools,’ says Solomon, ‘shall destroy them.’ He does not say ‘destroys them,’ but ‘shall destroy them.’ Why so? Because the prosperity of the wicked does not always produce immediately its disastrous effects. Sometimes the reverse comes after long delay. Wait patiently. You will see the end of what seems to begin so well. Have you never read in the Book of Job how that the Almighty takes pleasure in defeating the machinations of the impious? He brings their counsellors to a foolish end.” Not to a bad beginning. No; all seems prosperous at first. It is the end that is disastrous. He lets them raise aloft their mighty tower of Babel. But afterwards, in the confusion of their pride, they disperse and are gone. He lets them build up the beautiful towers of Siloe; but these fall, and the builders are buried beneath the ruins. For want of this reflection, many men wonder at the prosperity of the wicked. Even the prophets themselves address God sometimes with tender reproaches. They almost accuse him, I might say. We are apt to look too much at the beginning of things, and not, like holy David, at the end. Donec intelligam in novissimis eorum. As much as to say, they are so taken up with gazing upon the comely golden head of their tall Babylonian colossus, that they have not thought of lowering their eyes to see its brittle legs of clay. Now hear me, and witness the establishment of the truth. If ever since the birth of Christ there was a race of men who rose by unscrupulous arts to enormous wealth and power, it was doubtless the Greek emperors, tyrants as they may well be called. Now answer me, Have there ever existed empires which have furnished subjects for tragedy more truly horrible than theirs?

“Nicephorus succeeded at first by the employment of dishonest means to usurp the imperial power, driving away the right inheritress, Irene. What then? Crushed by a series of misfortunes, he began to look upon himself as a modern Pharaoh, hardened by defeats. Finally, vanquished and slain by the Bulgarians, his enemies made a drinking-cup of his[278] skull, and out of joy or derision used it as such in the diversions of the camp. Stauratius by illegitimate alliances, and Leo the Armenian by repeated high-handed rebellions, succeeded in establishing themselves in the height of power. How long was it before these two men died under the blows of the assassin, the former in war, and the latter at the altar he had profaned? Michael the Stammerer was so fortunate as to step, in his famous conspiracy, from the dungeon to the throne; demanding there the worship of his subjects, the chain still on his neck and the fetters on his feet. Intoxicated by his success, he compelled a holy virgin to share his bed. All Sclavonia revolted, his entire army deserted him; nor yet repenting, he was literally devoured by a malady the most disgusting. Theophilus was successful in suppressing, for reasons of state, the veneration of sacred images; but almost immediately after, on being shamefully defeated by the Saracens, died of rage and intense mortification. Michael III., regarded as another Nero on account of his licentiousness and cruelty, succeeded so far as to put his mother and guardians out of the way, in order to reign without opposition or control. He ended his ‘prosperous’ career by kindling against himself the hatred of his subjects, and encountered rebellion after rebellion, in the last of which, in the midst of a drunken debauch, he paid the forfeit of his life. Alexander attained a sort of success in plundering the holy altars, and in appropriating the gold thus obtained to his own private use; but very soon thereafter he was seized with a sudden madness, and he had not held out a year when he ended his life in a fearful vomiting of blood. What shall I say of Romanus I.? He too was successful to all appearance; for, by a stratagem of wonderful adroitness, he expelled the legitimate possessor from the patriarchal see of Constantinople, and placed in it a mere child, his own son. The year following he himself was driven from the imperial throne by another son, and banished to a lonely isle for life. So also fared it with Romanus II. Impelled by the lust of dominion, he took the life of his own father by poison. His own life was taken very shortly after, and by the self-same means. Michael Paphlagonius, by infamous devices, carried his point of usurping the throne. Seized suddenly with demoniacal obsession, he could obtain no repose. Exorcisms and almsgivings were tried in vain. He died as he lived, with his agony unrelieved. Michael Calaphates was ‘successful’ in driving the empress into exile, that he might reign alone; but the people rose against him at once, stoned him, deprived him of sight, and dragged him through the city streets more dead than alive. Diogenes and Andronicus, two usurpers who had ‘succeeded’ in their treason, one by a courtesan’s vile aid, the other by the arm of an assassin, came to the same lamentable end.


“Now answer me! Can you look upon as truly successful the wicked arts which brought these bad men to power? Speak out! Would you be willing to enjoy their ‘prosperity’ if with it you had to accept its reverse? Is there any one so stupid as to envy their short-lived ‘good luck’? Rest assured that such has ever been the fate of those who attain for a time their unhallowed ends by iniquitous means. ‘The prosperity of fools will destroy them.’ Doubt it not, my friends. The prosperity of fools will most assuredly destroy them. It is hardly worth while to labor longer in the proof. All writings, all ages, all powers, attest in unison this truth, that ‘Justice exalteth a nation’; and this other, that ‘Injustice leadeth a nation to misery and ruin.’ These are the words of one who was the wisest among men; and elsewhere he says, ‘Man shall not be strengthened by wickedness’; and, again, ‘The unjust shall be caught in their own snares’; and then, again, ‘They who sow iniquity shall reap destruction.’”

Thus, by examples drawn from the annals of the Byzantines (a race dear to our modern liberals), the eloquent Segneri points out the end which, according to Holy Writ, awaits the criminal successes of the wicked. If he had chosen to embrace a wider range of history, he might have compiled an endless catalogue of examples the most frightful; commencing with the dreadful success of the crucifixion of our ever blessed Lord, of which the sequel was as dreadful a retribution. The synagogue nailed the Messiah to the cross, under the pretext that otherwise the Romans would come and occupy Jerusalem. And precisely because they did this wicked thing, the Romans took Jerusalem and levelled it to the ground. So that the very success of the Jews, which, execrable as it was, the Opinione would have adored as a protecting caress bestowed by Providence upon Sion, ended simply in bringing upon the guilty city a horrible siege and irremediable ruin.

We content ourselves, for our part, in citing the Roman Cæsars, who, in the first three centuries, renewed ten different times, and with all the incidents of success, the bloody persecution of the followers of Christ. All of these, without a single exception, came to a wretched end. When the fourth century arrived to witness the triumph of Christianity, the descendants of the persecuting emperors were found extinct by foul or violent deaths; the series closing with Maximin breathing his last amid the agonies of poison and the blasphemous howlings of despair, and with Candidianus (the adulterous son of Galerius, adopted by Valeria, Maximin’s wife) murdered by Licinius along with another brother, a sister in tender age, and finally Valeria herself. It thus appears that the massacre of the Christians, which our modern Caiphases would have celebrated as an edifying “divine caress,” had this one effect after all, viz., to bring around the lasting triumph of the persecuted cause. It was the children of the slaughtered ones who were victorious in the end; the progeny of the slaughterers died suffocated in the blood which their guilty fathers had shed.

We might easily continue these examples, and recount, for instance, the end to which a career of successful iniquity at last conducted Julian the Apostate, the idol and exemplar of our Italian regenerators. We might enlarge on the fates of Astolphus and Desiderius, whose “patriotism” they so much admire. We might with still more force bring out contemporary cases, the case of Cavour, for example, withdrawn suddenly away by an ominous death in the flower of life from the hosannas of the people he had misled; the case of Farini, Cavour’s right-hand man, struck also in life’s prime by a shocking frenzy which urged him to acts incredibly revolting, and soon after to a most painful death; the case of Fanti, the plunderer of Umbria, who, before he could die, was tortured for a year with all the agonies of death; the case of Persano, the bombarder of Ancona, who, after making shipwreck on the sea of Lissa of his rank and reputation, avenged himself of fortune by publishing the[280] infamies of the successful revolution. And to these we might add the cases of Pinelli, of Valerio, of La Farina, and of a hundred others equally conclusive. We might even quote examples among the living; of a certain regenerator, who, in spite of his impious successes, roams incessantly from place to place seeking a rest he cannot find—condemned, it would seem, to endure the torments of Caina, Antenora, and Ptolomea in Dante’s ninth circle of hell, and to realize in himself the fate described by Alberigo:

“This boon the sufferer hath, if boon it be—
Ofttimes to know the pangs of parting breath,
Ere Atropos shuts down the shears of death.”

To be brief, we shall confine ourselves to the two most distinguished and most successful persecutors of popes—Frederick II., a mediæval emperor of Germany, and Napoleon the First, a French emperor of the modern sort. Both of these men, in the studied outrages they inflicted, the one upon Gregory IX. and Innocent IV., the other on Pius VII., were encouraged by such marvellous successes that our Israelitish proselytizer would have had them canonized as the very Benjamins of Providence. Suffice it to say that Frederick II. had his political Cæsarism preached into right divine by the most learned jurists of his day, just as Napoleon I. made the most powerful monarchy of Europe kneel down and adore his bloodier Cæsarism of the sword. Both the one and the other returning from their triumphs, carried fortune, to all appearance, chained for ever to their cars. The more they raged against Christ’s Vicar, the more their victory seemed complete. The greater the number of excommunications they incurred, the easier seemed to be their subsequent encroachments. It was after the last papal censure that Frederick gained the adhesion of several powerful barons in Rome. It was after the Pope’s worst imprisonment that Napoleon won his greatest battles, making them the subjects of the most vainglorious boasts, that he had thus received from the God of armies special marks of approbation—“caresses,” as the Opinione calls them, when bestowed upon the enemies of the church.

Yet where did they end, these lucky sacrileges, this prodigious and prolonged prosperity of crime? Both these men outlived their glittering fortunes. The false magnificence and grandeur for which they had thrown away their souls, turned to ashes in their grasp.

King Henry, Frederick’s eldest son, dies in prison, leaving a son who was struck dead by a blow from an unknown hand. Enzio, his bastard offspring, created by him King of Sardinia, after twenty-five years of imprisonment in a cage of iron dies a miserable death. Ezzelino, his son-in-law closes with a horrible end a life, if possible, of greater horror. His great champion, Thaddeus of Suessa, is slain with every accompaniment of contempt. Pier delle Vigne, his evil genius, has his eyes thrust out, and commits suicide in his despair. Frederick himself, after surviving all these horrors, is strangled by Manfredi, another of his base-born sons, who, after bathing his gory hands in the blood of Conrad, Frederick’s lawful son, is himself stretched dead on the field of a dishonorable strife. To close this interminable tragedy, Corradino, the last scion of the hated tyrant, ends on a felon’s scaffold his seventeen short years of life. With this unfortunate youth the dynasty of Frederick is closed. The empire passes over into other hands, and Rodolph[281] of Hapsburg reigns, the first of a better line.

The fall of Napoleon I. is still remembered as an event of recent date. Elated with his continual victories, he invaded Russia with the most formidable army the world ever saw. Warned that he had the fate of the excommunicated to encounter, he asked in scorn whether his soldiers would drop their muskets at the sight of a Papal Bull. Forced to retreat after a show of vain success, famine and frost decimated his ranks, and his soldiers’ frozen fingers refused to hold the interdicted arms. Unable to contend against fast-increasing numbers, he found himself by a strange fatality compelled to renounce the crown in the very palace at Fontainebleau which he had turned into a prison for the Pope. The Holy Father had quitted it to resume the throne. The fallen emperor left it to accept in Elba an asylum which he begged as a shelter in his friendless old age. Leaving his place of refuge, in a mad attempt to resuscitate his fortunes, he incurred at Waterloo a ruin the most disastrous ever known. Stripped of every resource, he was dragged to a prison-cell on a miserable island, scarcely noticeable in its vast expanse of sea. From this inhospitable rock, he was permitted to contemplate the plenary restoration of the mysterious Papal power, and simultaneously the downfall of all the thrones he had presented to his brothers and next of kin. After spending, in desolate captivity, the five years he had decreed of prison to the blameless Pius VII., he gave up his tortured soul to meet the just displeasure of his God. What more striking confirmation can we ask of the truth of those awful words, “They who sow injustice” sooner or later “shall reap its bitter fruits”?

It would not do to pass without notice the still living and speaking case of Napoleon III. Who but he has been the foremost leader of the regenerators of unhappy Italy? The Gog and Magog of our Italian pharisees! And are not these the men who fell down and worshipped the divine prosperity of their master’s eighteen years of empire? Have they not claimed it as a miracle of God’s favor, a long and lasting “caress” of Providence, the possible failure of which it would be impious to suspect? Have they not sung and celebrated, time and again, the famous victory of Solferino as a prodigy sent from heaven to show that the Almighty took the side of Italy, and had declared against the Pope?

Well, now, what has become of this epopee of miraculous prosperity, this note of ruin to Catholic Christianity, to the claims of the Holy See, and (as justly we might say) to the repose and peace of Europe? It came to naught in Sedan, in a military defeat and a dynastic misfortune the most appalling that ever was known or written of in the world.

And it so came to naught precisely because of the “success” at Solferino. That victory of Napoleon’s, chanted so loudly and so often by the pious Jew editor of the Opinione as an unmistakable revelation of God’s decision in favor of Bonaparte and his new Italy—that victory (when the hour of Sedan had come) was plainly seen as the manifest cause of his every subsequent reverse. Who can help perceiving now that, had not Austria lost the battle of Solferino, won by France that Italy might be “made,” Austria would not have lost the battle at Sadowa, achieved by Prussia that Germany might be “made”? And had not Austria lost at Sadowa, is it not plain that Napoleon would never have been dragged down into the horrible catastrophe[282] of Sedan? In this catastrophe we find the meaning of the “approving smile” at Solferino. The “caress,” we are told, was intended for the third Napoleon. For whom, then, was intended the crushing dispensation at Sedan?

Will our kind converters to the new reading of the ways of Providence reflect maturely on this matter? All genuine Christian gentlemen, all admitted men of honor (except a few who were misled), regarded the war of 1859, so well characterized by the victory of Solferino, as iniquitous in its motives and as anti-Christian in its scope. It was looked upon by all as a magnum latrocinium, a godless scheme of robbery; but it had what its perpetrators called “a great success.” Eleven years roll by, and what do we see?

Napoleon III., at first so splendidly victorious by the force of an act of larceny that dispossessed four princes and displaced the Pope, is caught at last like a weasel in a trap, dethroned in his turn, driven off in scorn, steeped to the lips in indelible disgrace; all his marshals and generals, without a solitary exception, ignominiously humbled, soundly beaten, and detained in durance vile by a logical rebound from their first Italian success; all his army, four hundred thousand strong, lately invincible, now led into exile or captivity, to shiver with cold or to wince under the epithets of scorn. Victorious France, in retribution for her “new idea” of nationality, and to set the good example, yields up the costly tribute of two of her wealthiest provinces; just the number she had stolen from Italy, on the strength of the “new idea,” as her due for allowing Piedmont to absorb the entire peninsula within her ravenous maw.

How is it possible not to recognize, in this unprecedented drama, the real lesson of divine retaliation, the exclusive right of Providence to repay—to exact eye for eye, tooth for tooth, and life for life, when such extremity is required? Who will hesitate to say with the poet:

“The sword of God is strict, and cuts amain.
But still in stated measure, time, and place,
Till all things find their equal own again.”

And in this most memorable reverse of Napoleon III., we invite our apostolic interpreters of Providence to note a special fact. The fallen emperor not only lives to realize the forfeiture of all his fame, differing herein from those who die before the loss, but has to endure the bitterness of witnessing the demolition of all the proud creations of his reign. He had raised France to the pinnacle of earthly greatness, had just crowned, as he himself phrased it, the glorious edifice his genius had successfully constructed. France is now dismembered, dilapidated, a mass of melancholy ruin; reduced to chaos militarily, morally, politically, and to a great extent materially, if this last trait be deemed of much account.

He had decorated the palaces of St. Cloud and the Tuileries with munificence more than Asiatic. They are stripped to the bare walls. He rose, on the wings of the plébiscite, from obscurity to a throne. The plébiscite is now an obsolete absurdity. The treaty of Paris, which crowned the triumphs of the East; the Chinese victories and ovations at Canton and Palikao; the Mexican Empire, the fruit of so much toil and treasure, the price of the good name and fame of France; the Prague conventions, intended to defeat the growth of Prussia into a vast and consolidated Germany—of all these magnificent enterprises not a trace. In short, the countless dazzling[283] exploits of the prosperous reign of the third Napoleon have vanished for ever like so many dissolving views. One work, one only work survives—the Subalpine government of Italy, to lick which hideous monster into shape the unhappy monarch threw recklessly away his honor and his crown. We might pursue this train of thought to its logical conclusion, but we refrain. Too strict an application of the laws of logic might bring us into conflict with other laws which we prefer not to provoke. But we may perhaps venture to request our pious friends of the “Regeneration” to undertake the argument themselves—an argument which runs on almost of itself, being one of the kind which dialecticians call reasoning from analogy. Let them look to it well, and say if there be not better ground to be anxious about the life of their Italy than there is to be solicitous about converting Catholics to the modern dogma, that the voice of an accomplished fact is no less than the voice of God; that the lucky consummation of a crime is itself the signal of the divine applause. Let them reflect that not a fact, which ceases afterwards to be a fact, can come into being or go out of it, without, at least, the permissive sanction of Almighty God. Let them pause and consider that the series of events, opened by Providence in 1859, is not absolutely or finally closed. Let them ever bear in mind that, when least it is expected, Providence may complete the line of this analogy by dissolving into nothingness the only remnant left of all the Napoleonic creations. The world and the ages will then believe that not a single one of the supposed marks of the divine “caress,” claimed by Italy’s regenerators, was really a mark of favor; but simply one of the many illustrations of the way in which the scorner is caught in the midst of his devices: In insidiis suis capientur iniqui.

In what we have advanced, we have, as seems to us, fairly and fully refuted the boastful syllogism of our adversaries. We shall conclude by exhorting them to lay aside all hope of converting Catholics by a show of blasphemous successes or an appeal to the longest impunity of crime. Go on, gentlemen! Enjoy your fortune! Vaunt as loudly as you will the triumphs you have secured over us, over the church, over the rights of the Holy See. Do all this, and welcome. But when you come to tell us that Providence is “caressing your cause,” and ask our adhesion to this impiety, we warn you to desist. Satan himself would not dare to give utterance to such an insult, or even to harbor such a thought. Providence has allowed you, in the abuse of your own free-will, a certain measure of easy success; as he allowed it to the synagogue, to the Cæsars, to Julian the Apostate, to Desiderius, and to all such of your predecessors as were permitted for a time to triumph over Christ and his commandments. And this he has allowed to you, not as to his loved ones, but as to his persecutors, that you may be the rod of his justice against the sins of the world. He will make this to yourselves, if you repent not, a snare and a delusion; to the church, an assurance of greater exaltation; and to all of us, a call to better service and obedience. We as Catholics know that we must bow beneath your blows. We bear the pain of them in peace, because faith teaches us that even scourges are wielded by God, and that his hand is to be kissed as much when it strikes as when it strengthens. For this reason we can accept you as you are.[284] And yet we see in you no higher mark than that of our flagellators and the exercisers of our patience; but be warned in time. God makes use of his scourges, and then destroys them. We have made this plain to you by innumerable examples. Beware! for the prosperous days of God’s scourges end invariably in misfortune and disaster. Beware, for the good times of the enemies of Jesus Christ and his church have ever been as pitfalls with a covering of roses; yokes of iron masked by a drapery of flowers. On the contrary, from her greatest tribulations the church has ever issued brighter, lovelier, and more radiant than before. She numbers as many victories as battles, as many prisoners as foes. All the promises of God are for her and against you, and all history attests that of these promises not a syllable has failed. The church is our mother; her cause is our own. We have, therefore, no fear for the result. You may scorn us, you may strip us, you may deny us the protection of the laws. You may tear us limb from limb during the brief occasion of your power. But conquer us, no! In all eternity, you cannot. God has ordered it that we shall be your victors. Rallying close to the Vicar of the King of heaven, and faithful to the call of his immortal Spouse, we shall announce to you, with front uplifted, that we have conquered you; or (if that better pleases you) that Christ has conquered you through us. Laugh to your hearts’ content at this faith of ours. All your predecessors have done as much. Yet who triumphed in the end? So certain are we of the victory that we scarce dare hasten it by our desires. The thought of the bolts of divine wrath impending over you appalls us, and we abstain, out of pity for you, from asking what Dante, on a like occasion, prayed for in these words:

“O God! when wilt thou give me to be blest
To see thy vengeance, which, long hid, made sweet
The sacred anger garnered in thy breast?”
Purg., c. xx.


Little Pierre, the Pedlar of Alsace; or, The Reward of Filial Piety. Translated from the French by J. M. C. With 27 illustrations. 1 vol. 12mo, pp. 236. New York: The Catholic Publication Society, 9 Warren Street. 1872.

The French can write charming stories, as every one knows. Little Pierre is one of the best we have seen in a long time—such a one as enchants a child, and makes him or her unwilling to lay it aside for supper or bed. It leads one through the romantic scenes of Alsace and the country of the Rhine, has plenty of stirring adventures, and, what is best of all, ends in a capital and satisfactory manner: Pierre and his little sister happily married, the old lady comfortable, Pierre a well-to-do merchant at Niederbronn. The illustrations, twenty-seven in all, which have been recut from the originals for the American edition, are uncommonly well executed. Little Pierre is destined to become an intimate friend of our young folks, to say nothing of Christine and Lolotte. Perhaps the most comical scene in the book is where Little Pierre is put by Madame Frank in the top of a Christmas-tree, with the name of little Cecile pinned on his breast. The most[285] touching scene is the finding of little Lolotte in the wood, with her eyes bandaged and her hands tied. We advise our young readers not to rest until they get possession of this pretty book.

The Men and Women of the English Reformation, from the Day