The Project Gutenberg eBook of The Catholic World, Vol. 23, April, 1876-September, 1876

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Title: The Catholic World, Vol. 23, April, 1876-September, 1876

Author: Various

Release date: January 17, 2018 [eBook #56386]

Language: English

Credits: Produced by David Edwards, Carol Brown, and the Online
Distributed Proofreading Team at (This
file was produced from images generously made available
by The Internet Archive)







General Literature and Science.

APRIL, 1876, TO SEPTEMBER, 1876.

9 Warren Street.



Abroad, How we are Misrepresented, 1
Allies’ Formation of Christendom, 689
American Revolution, Catholics in, 488
Are You My Wife? 22, 186, 316
Assisi, 742
Aude, The Valley of, 640

Brownson, Dr., 366

Catholicity in the United States, Next Phase of, 577
Catholic Church in the United States, The, 1776-1876, 434
Catholics in the American Revolution, 488
Catholic Sunday and Puritan Sabbath, The, 550
Charitas Pirkheimer, 170
Charles Carroll of Carrollton, 537
Chillon, The Prisoner of, 857
Church and Liberty, The, 243

Daughter of the Puritans, A, 92
De Vere’s “Thomas à Becket,” 848
Devout Chapel of Notre Dame de Bétharram, The, 335
Dr. Brownson, 366

Easter in St. Peter’s, Rome, 1875, 255
Epigraphy, Sacred, 270
Eternal Years, The, 128, 258, 402, 565

Formation of Christendom, Allies’, 689
French Novel, A, 158
Frenchman’s View of It, A, 453

German Journalism, 289
Gladstone Controversy, Sequel of, 30

Hammond on the Nervous System, 388
Hobbies and their Riders, 413
Home-Rule Movement, Irish, 500, 623
How we are Misrepresented Abroad, 1
Hundred Years Ago, One, 802

Irish Home-Rule Movement, The, 500, 623
Italian Commerce in the Middle Ages, 79

Journey to the Land of Milliards, A, 773

Kiowas and Comanches, A Day among, 837

Labor in Europe and America, 59
Land of Milliards, A Journey to the, 773
Letters of a Young Irishwoman to her Sister, 464, 654, 687
Life and Works of Madame Barat, The, 592

Madame Barat, Life and Works of, 592
Miles Standish, Was He a Catholic? 668
Modern English Poetry, 213
More, Sir Thomas, 70, 224, 350, 517, 698, 817

Napoleon I. and Pius VII., 200
Next Phase of Catholicity in the United States, The, 577
Notre Dame de Bétharram, The Devout Chapel of, 335
Notre Dame de Pitié, 116
Novel, A French, 158

Philosophy, Thomistic, 327
Pirkheimer, Charitas, 170
Pius VII. and Napoleon I., 200
Plea for our Grandmothers, A, 421
Poet among the Poets, A, 14
Poetry, Modern English, 213
Poets, Some Forgotten Catholic, 302
Primeval Germans, 47
Prisoner of Chillon, The, 857
Protestant Bishop on Confession, A, 831
Prussia and the Church, 104

Religious Liberty in the United States, The Rise of, 721
Rise of Religious Liberty in the United States, 721
Root of Our Present Evils, The, 145

Sacred Epigraphy, 270
Scanderbeg, 234
Sequel of the Gladstone Controversy, A, 30
Sir Thomas More, 70, 224, 350, 517, 698, 817
Six Sunny Months, 606, 758
Some Forgotten Catholic Poets, 302
Some Odd Ideas, 710
Studio in Rome, A Quaint Old, 781

“Thomas à Becket,” De Vere’s, 848
Thomistic Philosophy, 327
Transcendental Movement in New England, The, 528
Typical Men of America, The, 479

Valley of the Aude, The, 640
Vittoria Colonna, 679

Was Miles Standish a Catholic? 668
Wild Rose of St. Regis, The, 379

Years, Eternal, The, 128, 258, 402, 565

Ascension, The, 377

Centenary of American Liberty, The, 433
Chorus from the “Hecuba,” 653
Consuelo, 816

Forty Hours’ Devotion, 223

Da Vinci’s “Virgin of the Rocks,” Lines on, 13

Lamartine, From, 424
Lines on Da Vinci’s “Virgin of the Rocks,” 13

Mysteries, 185

Sacerdos Alter Christus, 58
Sennuccio Mio, 233
Sunshine, 278

Vago Angelletto che Cantanas Vai? 7


Achsah, 718
Acolyte, The, 286
All Around the Moon, 430
Alzog’s Universal Church History, 279
Are You My Wife? 426
Asperges Me, etc., 430
Authority and Anarchy, 288

Breviarium Romanum, 288
Brief Biographies, 142
British and American Literature, Student’s Hand-book of, 138
Board of Education, Report of, 431
Boston to Washington, 432
Burning Questions, 280

Cantata Catholica, 429
Catechism for Confession and First Communion, 280
Catholic Church and Christian State, 425

Daniel O’Connell, Popular Life of, 143

Eden of Labor, The, 139
Elmwood; or, the Withered Arm, 143
Episcopal Succession in England, Scotland, and Ireland, 432
Episodes of the Paris Commune in 1871, 431
Explanatio Psalmorum, 287

Faber’s Hymns, 282
Father Segneri’s Sentimenti, 142
Faith and Modern Thought, 718
Five Lectures on the City of Ancient Rome, 142
Flaminia, and other Stories, 431

Geographical Text-Books, Mitchell’s, 860
German Political Leaders, 716
Gertrude Mannering, 285
Glories of the Sacred Heart, The, 576

Haydon, Benjamin Robert, The Life, Letters, and Table-Talk of, 860
Histoire de Madame Barat, 425
How to Write Letters, 287

Labor, the Eden of, 139
Labor and Capital in England and America, 139
Lectures on the City of Ancient Rome, 142
Life, Letters, and Table-Talk of Benjamin Robert Haydon, The, 860
Life of Rev. Mother St. Joseph, The, 427
Life of Daniel O’Connell, 143
Little Book of the Holy Child Jesus, 288
Literature for Little Folks, 287

Meditations and Considerations, 719
Men and Manners in America One Hundred Years Ago, 860
Mitchell’s Geographical Text-Books, 860

Newman, Characteristics from the Writings of, 288
New Month of the Sacred Heart, 720
Note to Article on Thomistic Philosophy, 432
Notiones Theologicæ, 720

Outlines of the Religion and Philosophy of Swedenborg, 281
Ordo Divini Officii Recitandi, 141

Pius IX. and his Times, 288
Principia or Basis of Social Science, 428
Principes de la Sagesse, Les, 287
Publications Received, 288

Revolutionary Times, 720

Sancta Sophia, 859
Science and Religion, 720
Scholastic Almanac for 1876, The, 144
Segneri’s Sentimenti, 142
Sermons by Fathers of the Society of Jesus, 141
Story of a Vocation, The, 432
Spectator, The, 144
Spiritualism and Allied Causes, 713
Student’s Hand-book of British and American Literature, The, 138

Universal Church History, Alzog’s, 279

Voyages dans l’Amérique Septentrionale, 432

Wyndham Family, The, 430
[Pg 1]



VOL. XXIII., No. 133.—APRIL, 1876.

Copyright: Rev. I. T. Hecker. 1876.


Following the example of older nations, the United States has been accustomed to keep at foreign courts and capitals certain diplomatic agents whose presence there seems to be considered necessary for the protection of our national interests, as well as a pledge of mutual friendship and comity. Under the more modest title of envoys or ministers these gentlemen exercise the powers and enjoy the immunities of ambassadors, and to their supposed wisdom, tact, and judgment are entrusted all difficult negotiations and the settlement of doubtful questions of international law.

In view of the increased facilities for communication between independent governments afforded by railroads and telegraphs, the general diffusion of accurate geographical and commercial knowledge, and the almost total disuse of the secret diplomacy of former times, it has been seriously considered whether this class of rather expensive officials might not be dispensed with altogether. Many persons, also, are inclined to believe that the public welfare would suffer little, if at all, by such a measure, on the principle that bad or incompetent representatives are worse than none. But if the custom, as appears probable, is still to be adhered to, it is becoming more and more apparent that the personnel of our diplomatic corps must speedily undergo a radical change for the better, if we would not bring our country into lasting disrepute and contempt in the eyes of all just and discerning men.

In Europe diplomacy is practically as much a profession as law or medicine. Its students begin their allotted course at an early age in the capacity of attachés or secretaries of legation. As they gain in experience they are moved from one court to another, in regular order of promotion, until finally, after years of practical observation and laborious study, they develop into accomplished diplomatists and ripe statesmen, whose services are invaluable to their country, at home and abroad. Not so in America; with us the post of minister resident or envoy extraordinary, is usually the reward of some obscure partisan, the solace of a disappointed Congressional [Pg 2] aspirant, or the asylum in which superannuated cabinet officers can find dignified obscurity. Occasionally accomplished international lawyers like the late Mr. Wheaton or Reverdy Johnson are selected, but these rare cases are in sad contrast with the generality of persons chosen, every few years, to represent in foreign countries the power, dignity, and intelligence of the republic. They are almost invariably men of mediocre ability, contracted views, and defective education; unaccustomed to any high degree of social refinement, and sometimes ignorant of the very language of the country to which they are accredited, while not necessarily masters of their own. From a perusal of some volumes of state documents[1] we are led to conclude that the principal duty of our diplomats is to write long, prosy letters to the Secretary of State, and to encumber the archives of his office with copious extracts from foreign newspapers of no value or public interest whatever. In this mass of correspondence we look in vain for the keen, accurate criticism of men and manners, or the profound views of statesmanship which characterized the despatches of the Venetian ambassadors of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries and the French and English emissaries of a later period.

On the contrary, we find these letters exhibiting a remarkable feebleness and crudity of mind, and, where matters relating to religion or morals are discussed, a purblind prejudice unworthy of any rational American, but especially reprehensible in an exalted official of our government. This latter blemish is so prominent, and withal so repeatedly displayed, as to be painfully suggestive of a desire on the part of the writers to win, by unworthy means, the favor of the appointing power at the federal capital. We also observe with regret that they are accustomed to use, with the greatest deliberation and upon the slightest occasion, the terms reactionist, Romanist, ultramontane, and other nicknames—all of which are inaccurate and most of them offensive—when describing the supporters of the Catholic Church, who, in various parts of the Christian world, are battling for the rights of conscience and the freedom of their religion; while eulogistic adjectives are lavished on all parties and measures, no matter how tyrannical or arbitrary, provided they are directed against the church and her priesthood. Just here we may as well ask at the start, Is there not occupation enough for our diplomatic service in attending to the great commercial and other secular interests of the republic, but that they must turn aside to devote their chief attention to the cultivation and spread of anti-Catholic bigotry?

One of the most glaring examples of this indecent partisanship is to be found in the records of our diplomatic relations with Mexico—our nearest neighbor and the most populous of the Spanish-American republics. Formerly the greatest care was exercised in filling this important mission, only gentlemen of sound discretion and liberal views being selected; but since the advent of Mr. Fish as Secretary of State, this wise precaution has been neglected, and, as a consequence, we have had at the Mexican capital, for several years, a deputy named John W. Foster, whose total misapprehension of the duties of his office is painfully apparent, even from his own reports. It will be remembered that in 1859 the partisans of Juarez, [Pg 3] assembled at Vera Cruz, proclaimed war on the Catholic Church, abolished all religious communities, confiscated their property, and expelled their members of both sexes. They also declared marriage a civil contract, to be entered into only before a magistrate, abolished religious oaths, and attempted other “reforms” equally impertinent and detrimental to the public good. During the short reign of Maximilian these attempts on the liberty of the church were of course discontinued; but when Juarez assumed absolute control of the government they were renewed, and on the 25th of September, 1873, were declared by his successor, Lerdo de Tejada, a part of the constitution. This effort to make religious proscription the fundamental law of the republic seemed so judicious and praiseworthy to Mr. Foster that he immediately transmitted to Washington a full copy of Lerdo’s proclamation, with the remark: “Their incorporation into the federal constitution may be regarded as the crowning act of triumph of the liberal government in its long contest with the conservative or church party.”

Knowing something of the antecedents of Mr. Foster, we are not surprised at his sympathy with what may be called the illiberal or anti-church party; but the reply of our Secretary of State is simply inexplicable. On October 22 he writes:

“The Mexican government deserves congratulation upon the adoption of the amendments of its constitution to which the despatch relates. It may be regarded as a great step in advance, especially for a republic in name. We have had ample experience of the advantage of similar measures—an experience, too, which has fully shown that, while they have materially contributed to enlarge and secure general freedom and prosperity, they have by no means tended to weaken the just interests of religion or the due influence of clergymen in the body politic.”

How a gentleman of Mr. Fish’s acknowledged intelligence could permit himself to write such a document is incomprehensible. He knows well that “we”—meaning the United States—have not had “ample experience,” or any experience whatever, “of the advantage of similar measures.” “We” have had our moments of fanaticism, our church-burnings and convent-sackings, it is true; but neither the municipal law nor the Constitution has presumed to control the spiritual affairs of the church in this republic. Our seminaries, colleges, convents, and schools are yet untouched by the civil magistrate; our priests can administer the sacraments without the risk of police interference; and our Sisters of Mercy and Charity can pursue their holy avocations and not incur the risk of perpetual banishment. What has contributed to enlarge and to secure to us general freedom and prosperity is not such anti-Catholic legislation as that upon which Mr. Fish congratulates the “republic in name,” but the very contrary.

It would seem, however, that some of those entrusted with the highest offices of state regret this happy condition of things. Evidence crops out everywhere to strengthen the suspicion that our government, not finding interests at home of sufficient magnitude to occupy its attention, is drifting more and more into sympathy with the conspiracy now prevalent in Europe against the rights of the Catholic Church and that birthright of every American citizen—freedom of conscience.

But, however unsustained by fact, the moral sympathy thus tendered by the mouth-piece of our [Pg 4] government to the Mexican president was highly valuable to his party at that juncture. The laws against the clergy and nuns were exceedingly unpopular with the great mass of the Mexicans, and it was necessary that the endorsement of the powerful and prosperous republic of the north should be secured in their favor. If such measures had “materially contributed to enlarge and secure general freedom and prosperity” in one country, as Mr. Fish solemnly asserted, why should they not have the same salutary effect in another? There is no reason for surprise, therefore, to find that when the elated Mr. Foster transmitted Mr. Fish’s letter, with his own felicitations, to Mr. Lafragua, the Mexican Minister of Foreign Affairs, he was answered in the following complimentary phrase:

“The president of the republic has received with special gratification the expression of the kind sentiments which animate the people and government of the United States respecting the people and government of Mexico, which sentiments could not have been interpreted by a more estimable person than your excellency. The president is sincerely thankful, as well for the cordial congratulation which his excellency the Secretary of State has had the kindness to address to you on account of the proclamation of the amendments to the federal constitution, as for the ardent wishes which your excellency manifests for the consolidation of the republican institutions and of peace, and for the prosperity and material development of the United Mexican States.”

It will thus be seen that by the wilfulness—or indiscretion, let us call it—of Mr. Fish “the people and government of the United States” are credited with a sympathy for, and approval of, what their conscience, their spirit, and their whole history up to this time repudiate—a legislation of tyranny and religious proscription. Mr. Fish—and no man better—knows that such sympathy has no foundation in the hearts of the American people or in the real policy of its government. He knows that the people abhor the sentiment expressed in the “amendments to the federal constitution” of Mexico. What are we to think, then, of a statesman who, actuated by whatever motive, shows himself so ready to play fast and loose with the solemn trusts confided to him? Is the vast power that he must exercise safe in the hands of one who is ready to veer with every wind that blows, especially when it blows against Rome? Is this the true expression of the policy of which we have lately heard so much—“Let the church and the state be for ever separate”? Our American feelings rise with indignation against so grave a misrepresentation of the principles and policy of our government, especially by one so familiar with them as Mr. Fish. There is no excuse for this.

Mr. Fish’s faux pas was too precious to the anti-Catholic faction not to receive the widest publicity. “This correspondence,” writes Mr. Foster to his principal, “was yesterday read in the national Congress by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, by direction of the president of the republic, and after its reading the president of Congress, in the name of that body, expressed the gratification with which the assembly had received the intelligence, and by a vote of Congress the correspondence was entered upon its journal. The Minister of Foreign Affairs has also caused its publication in the official newspaper, and it has appeared in all the periodicals of this capital.”

A year had scarcely passed away, during which every effort had been [Pg 5] made thus to mislead and pervert public opinion, when De Tejada’s government found itself strong enough to pass additional “laws of reform” infringing still farther on the rights of conscience. On the 15th of December, 1874, the Sisters of Charity, the last remnant of the Catholic orders in Mexico, were also rudely expelled from their institutions and ordered to quit for ever the scenes of their pious and untiring labors. And in this connection, a curious comment on Mr. Fish’s congratulatory despatch was offered by the people of the city of San Francisco. The Sisters expelled by virtue of the constitution which met with such marked approval from Mr. Fish, were received with open arms and welcomed by our fellow-citizens in California. Surely, this was giving the lie direct to Mr. Fish by his own countrymen, whose conscience naturally revolted from a system of government which, as its chief claim to the sympathy and fellowship of foreign peoples, set up its power and willingness to banish from its jurisdiction all that was purest and holiest. Yet Mexico is as far from “general freedom and prosperity” as ever, and Messrs. Fish and Foster, the instigators of this last outrage on humanity, continue to be high and trusted officials of our freedom-loving republic.

Still, the faction that controls Mexican politics was not content with constitutional and statutory “reforms.” As long as the heart of the country remained Catholic its hold on power was feeble and uncertain. It therefore aimed at nothing less than a general conversion of the people, at a new Reformation, and selected what it considered the most fitting instruments for that purpose. These were itinerant Protestant missionaries of all sects, kindly furnished to order by the Boston American Board of Missions and the Pacific Theological Seminary of California, who soon overspread the promised land and began their labors of conversion. The states of Mexico, Vera Cruz, Guerrero, Puebla, Jalisco, Hidalgo, Zacatecas, and San Luis Potosi were especially favored by their presence, where, from their method of proceeding, their foul abuse of the religion of the populace, and the rank blasphemy that characterized their preaching, it was plain that they considered they had fallen among barbarians and idolaters. Going from place to place, and surrounded by armed guards, they not only fulminated the heresy of Protestantism, but scattered broadcast printed travesties of the Commandments and of the prayers and ritual of the church, some copies of which they had the hardihood to nail to the cathedrals and other places of Catholic worship. To make matters still more offensive, they frequently interspersed their harangues with laudations of the “liberal” party who patronized them, and direct attacks on all who opposed its iniquitous policy.

One of those zealots, a Rev. Mr. Stephens, after a nine months’ journey through several towns, found his way to Ahualulco, where, relying on the countenance of the government officials, he commenced a series of bitter assaults on Catholicity. A popular tumult was the result, during which the unfortunate man was killed, March 2, 1874. When news of this cruel, though not unprovoked, murder reached Mr. Foster, he waited on the Mexican minister, who informed him that “the principal assassins and two priests had been arrested, and that [Pg 6] a judge had been despatched to the district with an extra corps of clerks to ensure a speedy investigation and trial.” This promise was faithfully and promptly kept, as we find by a despatch dated April 15, in which the minister says:

“Up to the present date seven of the guilty parties have been tried and condemned to death, from which sentence they have appealed to the supreme court. Twelve or fifteen more persons charged with complicity in the crime are under arrest awaiting trial, including the cura of the parish of Ahualulco.”

Yet this summary vengeance, nor even the indignity offered to the venerable cura, who had had no participation whatever in the disturbance, did not satisfy the insatiable soul of Mr. Foster. From his subsequent letter to Lafragua, and several despatches to our government, we infer that the condign punishment of the priest, innocent or guilty, was to him the most desirable of objects. To inaugurate the new Reformation by the execution of a Catholic clergyman appears to have been considered by him as a master-stroke of policy. But even the Lerdistas were not prepared for so desperate a step, and Foster was doomed to find his hopes blighted. Alluding to a conversation with Minister Lafragua in September, he writes to Mr. Fish, bemoaning his hard fate:

“I thanked him for communicating the intelligence in relation to the trials of the assassins of Rev. Mr. Stephens, the receipt of which I had anxiously awaited, but expressed my disappointment in finding no mention of the proceedings had in the trial of the cura of Ahualulco, to whom the published accounts attributed the responsibility of the assassination.…”

This information, and the fact that the appeal of the seven condemned persons had not been determined, drew forth one of Mr. Fish’s unaccountable diplomatic missives. “You may farther inform him orally,” says our Secretary, alluding to Lafragua, “but confidentially, if need be, that this must necessarily become an international affair, unless it shall be satisfactorily disposed of and without unreasonable delay.” Now, why should the information be given orally and confidentially if there was not some desire, some trick, to avoid responsibility for a doubtful act tending to intimidate a friendly power? and wherefore should the killing of the man Stephens be made an international affair—i.e., a just cause of war—when so many American citizens had been already murdered in Mexico with impunity? Foster had repeatedly complained that during the short time he had been in charge of the legation thirteen “murders of the most horrid character and revolting to our common civilization” had been committed on his countrymen, for which there had not been a single punishment; yet we hear of no intimation of making them international affairs. Were the lives of these persons, presumably following legitimate callings, collectively of less value than that of a mendacious preacher of a gospel of violence?

Emboldened by the words of Mr. Fish, Foster again returned to the attack in a note to Lafragua, in which he directly, and on his own responsibility, charges the cura with having been the instigator of the crime. The first intimation that the cura had had any participation in exciting the mob against Stephens was contained in a letter from a brother preacher named Watkins, who was stationed at Guadalajara, more than sixty miles from the scene of the disturbance. On this [Pg 7] suspicious and slender foundation Foster had been in the habit of building up a mass of insinuations and charges against the priest, referring to “general” and “printed” reports as his authority. When after a searching investigation the cura was honorably discharged, and the minister again complained to Lafragua, that official replied rather tartly in the following unequivocal terms:

“In relation to the acquittal of those who were charged with being instigators of the crime, it is the result of a judicial act, which has taken place after the due process had been completed for the investigation of the truth, which is not always in accord with the prejudices of the public.”

If the minister had added: “and of Mr. Foster and the Board of Missions,” the sentence would have been more complete. Having failed to accomplish his grand design—the chastisement of the cura—the ultimate fate of the convicted laymen became a matter of little importance to our assiduous representative.

Another opportunity soon presented itself for Mr. Foster’s official interference. On the night of January 26, 1875, a riot occurred in Acapulco, in which five persons were killed and eleven wounded on both sides. Of the former, one was claimed to be an American. It appears that a Rev. M. N. Hutchinson, supported by the United States consul, J. A. Sutter, and a few native officials, had commenced his evangelical labors in that city by personally insulting the parish priest, Father J. P. Nava, and by openly abusing everything considered holy and venerable by Catholics. This method of preaching Christ’s Gospel so exasperated the populace that an attack was made on the building used as a Protestant church, and a street fight, with fatal results, followed. Hutchinson, the cause of the fray, escaped and found refuge on board a ship; while Sutter, who seems to have been as cowardly as he was vicious, threatened to abandon the consulate and follow his example. As in the case at Ahualulco, the “liberal” authorities at once arrested the cura, but so indignant were the citizens, and even some of the federal employees, at the act that he was at once set at liberty.

Here was a rare chance for Mr. Foster to display his reformatory energy, and on this occasion he had a most efficient associate in the gallant consul. That truthful gentleman writes to his chief, January 27, three days after the riot:

“All the Indians are under arms, and threaten to attack the town if the parish priest—who, in my opinion, is the prime mover of these heinous crimes—should be arrested. So he is still at large, and laughing, probably, at the impotence of the authorities.… Everybody in town is afraid of the Indians, who, incited by a fanatical priest, would perpetrate the most atrocious crimes.”

All this Mr. Foster believed, or appeared to believe; for we find him embodying it in his official communications to Lafragua, with some additional remarks of his own to give the calumny greater point and force. Supported by the American minister, Sutter now looms up as the defender of Protestant rights in general. Addressing personages of no less distinction than the governor of the state and the district judge, he requests them to “promptly take the necessary measures within your power to procure the speedy punishment, according to the law, of the instigators and perpetrators of the atrocious massacre of Protestants,” etc. There is no limitation [Pg 8] here, it will be observed, to American citizens; the peremptory consul, “in obedience to instructions received yesterday from the Hon. John W. Foster, envoy extraordinary, etc.,” had assumed a protectorate over the entire evangelical body of Acapulco, and felt himself at liberty to insult the executive and judiciary of the state of Guerrero.

The people of Acapulco, however, differed materially in opinion from the consul. Not only did they not fear the Indians or regard their priest as an abettor of riot and murder, but, on the contrary, five or six hundred of them waited on Governor Alvarez, and, in the name of the rest, assured him that the disturbance was wholly caused by Hutchinson and his handful of Protestants, requesting him at the same time to remove the disturbers from their city, as he had the power to do under the laws of the state. Even the Minister of Foreign Affairs—though, like so many of his party, deadly opposed to the church—could not help but ascribe the riot to something like its proper cause. Annoyed, doubtless, by the impertinence of Sutter and the importunities of Foster, he writes to the latter in a vein of delicate irony:

“The consul in Acapulco cannot be ignorant of the fact that Protestant worship was a new propaganda among a people who, unfortunately, have not been able to attain to that degree of civilization to enable them to accept without aversion religious tenets which they disown, and it is well known that the religious sentiment is one of the most sensitive, and that, when attacked, it is all the more irritable.”

The logical position of the Mexican minister is unassailable. But what a humiliating predicament for our government to be placed in by her diplomatists abroad! Such is the natural result of selecting the kind of men for important posts, or indeed for any posts at all, complained of at the beginning of the article. It is clear that this Mr. Foster has missed his vocation. He would be more at home in a Protestant board of missions, or as a “worker” in “revivals,” than standing before a people as the representative of the truth, worth, and genius of a great nation.

Mr. Foster was not satisfied with the explanation. He had lost one priest, and he was not going to let another slip through his fingers without a struggle. He reminds Lafragua of Mr. Fish’s “congratulations,” and appeals to his gratitude. “While it is very natural that I,” he writes, “as the representative of a government which has officially congratulated that of Mexico on the constitutional triumph and recognition of the principles of religious liberty, should watch with deep interest the practical enforcement of these principles, I have made the outbreaks of fanatical mobs the subject of diplomatic intervention only when American citizens have been assassinated.” But the plea was in vain; even the government of Lerdo de Tejada dared not molest the cura of Acapulco, who, strong in his innocence and in the affection of his flock, continued to exercise the duties of his sacred office, regardless alike of native “reformers” and officious diplomats. Up to the latest dates Mr. Foster had not yet caught a cura, and the people of Mexico seem as far as ever from the enjoyment of the blessings of a new Reformation, so happily and characteristically begun.

The Central American States include Guatemala, San Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Costa Rica, each of which holds an undivided fifth interest in the official attention [Pg 9] of Mr. George Williamson, our worthy minister peripatetic. When not involved in domestic brawls—which seldom happens—these miniature commonwealths have a habit of varying the monotony of peaceful life by a descent on one of their neighbors, and even a civil and a foreign war have been known to rage at the same time and place. Having such a vivacious people to look after, the attention of our representative might reasonably be considered fully occupied; yet we learn that he has ample leisure to devote himself to theological and educational speculations, and particularly to the subject of marriage. On this important social relation he not only becomes eloquent, though occasionally obscure, in his despatches, but is evidently looked upon as an authority by the “liberal” party on the Isthmus. Having been asked his opinion by President Barrios of Guatemala, who contemplated extending civil marriage to his people, “I replied,” he says, “it would in all probability soon come; … that in our country we considered the civil law supreme, and would neither furnish a hierarchy of Romanists nor Protestants, to assert its sanction was necessary to give validity to a contract which the law pronounced good.” It may be objected that this passage is not well constructed; so, in justice not only to the liberal views, but to the erudition of Mr. Williamson, we quote the following descriptive extract from a despatch on the condition of the Central American population:

“Intelligence is more generally diffused; people are slowly learning republican habits and adopting republican ideas; a monarchical hierarchy that fostered superstitions, that only allowed education in a certain direction, and which ‘gathered gear’ unto itself ‘by every wile,’ has been dethroned; agriculture now has the aid of the numerous laborers who were employed in the erection of large edifices for monks and nuns and religious exercises.”

A subsequent communication on the state of public education furnishes a rather strange commentary on the above:

“The present attempt at organizing a public-school system is, in my judgment, one of the most laudable acts of the present government, for which it should be entitled to credit, whether there be success or failure. My opinion is that there are too many obstacles to be overcome for the plan to be successful, and that the government is undertaking a grave experiment which is likely to create great dissatisfaction, and may result in revolution. But having driven out most of the priests and nuns, who were heretofore the instructors of the people, it seemed necessary the government should try to supply their place.”

The same latitude of opinion and ill-concealed hostility to the Catholic Church, the same desire to take advantage of every trifling circumstance to misrepresent and malign the motives of her supporters, pervade the correspondence of our other representatives in South America, almost without exception. Thus Mr. Thomas Russell has no scruple in lauding the usurping government of Venezuela, which, in 1870, first imprisoned and then banished perpetually the Archbishop of Caracas and Venezuela, suppressed the seminaries, confiscated the property of the monasteries, and expelled the nuns. Still less has Mr. Rumsey Wing in assuring the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ecuador, in writing about an alleged desecration of a grave in Quito, that the news “of those outrages on the bodies of Protestants” “would create an intense feeling not only in my own country [Pg 10] but throughout Europe”; while, having nothing else to send, we suppose, the same officious gentleman forwards to Washington copies of two decrees of Congress, one granting a tithe of the church revenues to his Holiness the Pope, and the other placing Ecuador under the protection of the Sacred Heart, “to show the intense Catholicism prevailing in this country.”

Then Mr. C. A. Logan, some time of Chili, appears to have interested himself very much in local politics, and it is not difficult to discover upon which side his sympathy rests. In a despatch to Secretary Fish, November 2, 1874, he has the hardihood to charge the Archbishop of Santiago with bribing congressmen, pending the passage of a bill for the partial repeal of a penal law against the clergy. He writes:

“The day arrived for the vote, and a large crowd gathered about the building, awaiting the result with the most breathless anxiety; among these was the archbishop himself, in full clerical robes. Much to the chagrin of the liberals, a two-third vote was gained by the church party under the spur and lash of the clericals, and, as it is freely asserted, by the liberal use of money. The senate is composed of only twenty members, which is not a large body to handle, if they take kindly to handling.”

Mr. Francis Thomas, of Lima, goes even farther than his confrère, and deliberately asserts the complicity of the Catholics, as a body, in the recent attempt to assassinate President Pardo.

“The conspirators,” he says, “had calculated upon the co-operation of all that class of the population of this country who have become hostile to the president of Peru on account of his proceedings, in which high dignitaries of the Catholic Church were concerned. The congress of Peru at its last session passed a law forbidding members of the order of Jesuits to reside within the jurisdiction of Peru. In violation of this law, members of that order who had been expelled from other Spanish republics took possession of a convent in the interior of Peru, and took measures to organize their society. President Pardo, in conformity to the law, issued a proclamation requiring them to leave the country, which has caused some degree of excitement.”

This fact, and the attempts of the government to introduce irreligious books and periodicals into the schools, were sufficient, in the opinion of our impartial minister, to provoke the Catholics of Peru to the foulest crimes.

The Emperor of Brazil, in his open war on the church, also finds an advocate and eulogist in Mr. Richard Cutts Shannon, the American chargé at his court, who employs his vicarious pen in justifying the arrest, trial, and condemnation of the Bishop of Olinda to four years’ imprisonment with hard labor. But he is surpassed by minister James R. Partridge, who, in alluding to the determined intention of the government to prosecute to the bitter end the various vicars who were named to take the place of those successively cast into prison, emphatically declares: “From present appearances, the ministerial party are going on and are determined to carry it through. It is to be hoped that their courage may not fail, neither by reason of the long list of those who are thus declared ready to become martyrs, nor by any political move of the ecclesiastical party.”

Such, in brief, are the views of the men sent to represent this country on American soil. If we turn to Europe—though we may acknowledge a higher order of ability in our diplomatic agents there—we [Pg 11] discover prejudice as strong and partisanship equally conspicuous. Referring to the German Empire, we are pained to find so profound a student of the past as Mr. Bancroft our late minister at Berlin, so easily deceived in contemporary history. Nothing, certainly, can be more untrue than the following statement of the position of affairs in Prussia in 1873:

“The effect of the correspondence [between the Pope and Emperor William] has been only to increase the popularity and European reputation of the emperor, and to depress the influence of the clerical party, thus confirming the accounts, which I have always given you, that the ultramontane political influence can never become vitally dangerous to this empire. The Catholic clergy are obviously beginning to regret having commenced with the state a contest in which it is not possible for them to gain the advantage. The intelligent Catholics themselves for the most part support the government, and so have received from the ultramontanes the nickname of state Catholics.”

There is not a single sentence in the above which is not a misapprehension of facts. How far Mr. Bancroft’s easy assertions and confident predictions, made scarcely two years ago, have been justified by the event is a matter that happily needs no inquiry, while comment on our part would be almost cruel. Mr. Bancroft, however, was not content with supplying information to the State Department on matters exclusively pertaining to his mission. His wide range of vision took in all Europe, past and present. Of the old Helvetian republic he writes:

“Switzerland shows no sign of receding from its comprehensive measures against the ultramontane usurpations; and the spirit and courage of these republicans have something of the same effect on the population of Germany that was exercised by their forefathers in the time of the Reformation.”

And again:

“How widely the movement is extending in Europe is seen by what is passing in England, where choice has been made of a ministry disinclined to further concessions to the demands of the Catholic hierarchy, and where the archbishops of the Anglican Church are proposing measures to drive all Romanizing tendencies out of the forms of public worship in the Establishment. Here in Germany, where the question takes the form of a conflict between the authority of the state at home within its own precincts, and the influence of an alien ecclesiastical power, it is certain that the party of the state is consolidating its strength; and I see nothing, either in the history of the country, or in the present state of public opinion, or the development of public legislation, that can raise a doubt as to the persistency of the German government in the course upon which it has entered.”

What the “comprehensive measures” in Switzerland “against the ultramontane usurpations” mean readers of The Catholic World already know. They are simply a rather aggravated form of the Falck laws—a form so aggravated that it is only within the past year M. Loyson himself warned the world that the “comprehensive measures against ultramontane usurpations,” which Mr. Bancroft finds such reasons to commend, were aimed, through Catholicity, at all Christianity. And yet a high official of our free government, a man of universal reputation and great authority in the world of letters, finds in this elaborate system of proscription and intolerance food for congratulation. One would suppose from the spirit so plainly animating Mr. Bancroft that he is a member of the O. A. U., and that he was chosen rather to represent that delectable society in Berlin than the American Government. It is to be presumed, from his own [Pg 12] despatches, that he would have our government follow the tyrannical attempt of Prussia and Switzerland to “stamp out” freedom of conscience. Mr. Bancroft’s diplomatic experience, under the influence of the court of Prussia, seems destined to reverse his principles and maxims as an American historian. He has, we fear, remained too long abroad for the good of his native truth, character, and sense of right. It is to be hoped that this baneful influence of foreign courts does not pursue him on his return to his own country and people.

Mr. John Jay, who formerly acted as our envoy at Vienna, though not so pronounced or diffusive in his despatches, is not far behind Mr. Bancroft in expressing his entire concurrence with the restrictive policy recently adopted by the government of Austria towards the church; while Mr. George P. Marsh, our representative in Italy, is so great an admirer of Garibaldi that he is never tired of chanting his praises in grandiloquent prose. Those familiar with the life of that notorious bandit will be surprised to learn from so high an authority as the American minister that “he has never through life encouraged any appeal to popular passion or any resistance to governments, except by legal measures or in the way of organized and orderly attempts at revolution; and, from the moment of his arrival at Rome, he exerted himself to the utmost to restrain every manifestation of excitement.”

In marked contrast to the unfair and ungenerous spirit displayed in the despatches of those ministers are the letters from France, Spain, and England. The stirring political events which occupy the entire attention of the two former countries leave no room, perhaps, for the discussion of penal laws and judicial decrees against Catholicity; while the latter, having carried out Protestantism to its logical conclusion, and found it a sham, is more inclined to profit by the blunders and crimes of its neighbors, so as to push its commercial interests, than to imitate them and begin anew the rôle of persecutor for conscience’ sake.

In explanation of the erroneous views so frequently put forth by so many of our diplomatic officials, we are assured that most of those sent to Mexico and Central and South America have been members of secret societies, and, having been accustomed to affiliate with the lodges of those Freemason-ridden countries, have had whatever little sense of equity they originally possessed perverted by the sophisms of their new associates. Possibly; but let us consider how much harm may be done by following such a short-sighted course. All the independent countries south of us on this continent are largely Catholic, and, with the exception of Brazil, claim to be republican. They are bound to us by strong ties, political as well as commercial, and are naturally inclined to look upon the United States as their exemplar and guide, and, if need be, their protector. When they shall have shaken off the incubus of military dictation that now weighs upon them, and, restoring to the church its rights—as will eventually be done—have entered on a new career of freedom and material prosperity, how will they be disposed to feel towards a power which they have known only through its agents, and those the advocates and supporters of everything that is illiberal in politics and degrading in polemics?

In Europe the influence of incapable and unworthy representatives is likely to be even more deleterious [Pg 13] to our national character. The affections of the people of the Old World are strongly inclined toward the free institutions of the New. But if we continue to permit our delegated authority to be used only in favor and encouragement of such enemies of human liberty as the usurper at the Eternal City, the tyrant at Berlin, and the communists of Geneva, the popular sympathy born of our protestations of liberality will soon fade away, to give place to feelings of mistrust, if not of positive aversion.

In calling public attention to the incapacity and perversity of the majority of our diplomatists—men who do not hesitate to put into their correspondence with foreign governments, and their private home despatches, sentiments they dare not utter publicly in the forum or through the press—we by no means desire to restrict proper expressions of opinion or limit the just criticisms of the agents of the Department of State. We only insist that these shall not be indulged in at the expense of a very large and respectable portion of this community. Neither do we require that they shall take sides with Catholics, as such, anywhere, no matter how harsh or unjust may be their grievances. This country is not Catholic, it is true, neither is it Protestant; and, indeed, it is questionable if, in any strict sense, it can be called Christian. But it is a country civilly and religiously free, by custom, statute, and Constitution, and we have a right to demand that whoever undertakes to act for it, as part and parcel of the machinery of our government, among foreigners, shall represent it as it is, in spirit as well as in fact—the opponent of all proscription for conscience’ sake, the enemy of tyranny whether exercised by the mob or the state. Is it not the true policy of our government to send abroad as representatives of our interests men who, while they are not hostile to the prevailing religious beliefs of the country to which they are accredited, are, at the same time, true and stanch Americans? If such men cannot be found, let us, in the name of common sense, have none at all. Some minor interests may perhaps suffer by the omission, but the honor and reputation of the republic will remain unsullied and unimpaired.

[1] Papers relating to the Foreign Relations of the United States, etc., for 1874-5.


Maternal lady with the virgin grace,
Heaven-born thy Jesus seemeth sure,
And thou a virgin pure.
Lady most perfect, when thy sinless face
Men look upon, they wish to be
A Catholic, Madonna fair, to worship thee.
Charles Lamb.

[Pg 14]


It is of the last importance that English criticism should clearly discern what rule for its course, in order to avail itself of the field now opening to it, and to produce fruit for the future, it ought to take. The rule may be summed up in one word—disinterestedness.

Mr. James Russell Lowell[2] has applied Mr. Matthew Arnold’s rule with rare fidelity in his essays, just published, on Dante, Spenser, Wordsworth, Milton, and Keats. His estimate of the two greatest of modern poets, especially the paper on Dante, is calculated to attract general attention, and to arouse, we apprehend, some acrid sentiment in a certain class of literary butterflies who are accustomed to sip or decline according to the theological character of the garden. It requires considerable courage to place Dante above all his rivals and salute him as

“The loftiest of poets!”

in an hour when poetry has lost the qualities that made Dante lofty and Milton grand, and when the epithet “Catholic,” which Dante loved and Milton hated, has become again a reproach. Lowell’s consideration of both is characterized by disinterestedness as to time, religion, politics, and literature; and the sincere student who casts aside his prejudices, like his hat, when he approaches the temples that enshrine so much of divinity as God deposited in the souls of the Florentine and the Puritan, will find it difficult to dissent from the judgment of Lowell upon their individuality, their inspiration, or their art. Lowell is peculiarly adapted to the form of literature, semi-critical, semi-creative, in which he has recently distinguished himself. We believe his essay on Dante to be the most successfully-accomplished task which he has yet undertaken; and the cultivated American public should thank one who has amused and diverted it as well as he has done for the solid instruction which this volume conveys in a style at once scholarly, fresh, and refined. Lowell’s mental temperament is admirably adapted for the mirroring of poets’ minds. Himself a genuine poet, without ambition above his capacity, his agile fancy discerns the quicker and appreciates more intensely the imagination of epic souls; while his critical faculty, naturally acute, has the additional advantage of a keen sense of humor, which enables him to discover more readily the incongruous, and is, therefore, an invaluable assistant in literary discrimination.

It is the trade of criticism to expose blemishes; it is genius in criticism to appreciate the subject. The journeyman critic of the last two centuries has been so busy making authors miserable without felicitating mankind that when we read through an essay like Lowell’s on Dante, on Wordsworth, or on Spenser, we cheerfully recognize a man where experience has taught us to look only for an ingenious carper or spiteful ferret. However, critics are no worse than they used to be. Swift, who had excellent opportunity of forming an opinion, both in his own practice and in the observation of that of others, has left this dramatic picture, the truthfulness of which there is no reason yet to question: [Pg 15] “The malignant deity Criticism dwelt on the top of a snowy mountain in Nova Zembla; Momus found her extended in her den upon the spoils of numberless volumes half devoured. At her right hand sat Ignorance, her father and husband, blind with age; at her left, Pride, her mother, dressing her up in the scraps of paper herself had torn. There was Opinion, her sister, light of foot, hoodwinked, and headstrong, yet giddy and perpetually turning. About her played her children, Noise and Impudence, Dulness and Vanity, Positiveness, Pedantry, and Ill-Manners.” Such is reckless and conscienceless criticism even to this day; and we turn from it, in grateful delight, to the reverential commentary which Lowell has produced upon one of the saddest of all human creatures—the great Catholic poet of the middle ages.

Dante, little understood by those who have the largest title to his legacies, is, after all, the universal poet—the poet of the soul. Homer chants the blood-red glories of war, and is the poet of a period; Virgil charms by the grace of his lines, and is the poet of an episode; Milton awes with the mighty sweeps of his rhetoric, and is the poet of the grandiose; Shakspeare astounds with his knowledge of human nature and enchains with his wit, and is the poet of the passions; Dante, when read aright, is found to be the poet of the Soul. The line that divides him from Shakspeare lies between the subjective and the objective—Shakspeare’s themes are men and women; Dante’s sole subject is Man—man within himself, as he is related to God, to religion, to eternity. As Lowell felicitously writes it, “Arma virumque cano; that is the motto of classic song. Dante says, Subjectum est homo, not vir—my theme is man, not a man.”

Why, then, do we not read him more and value him as he deserves? For two reasons: first, the difficulty of adequate translation; next, the mysterious richness of his thought, whose pearls are not strung across the door of the lines to warn us, as later poetry so candidly does, that within there is nothing but barrenness. The proper understanding of Dante has been a growth, beginning in Italy as soon as he was dead, extending gradually over Europe, into England, and now westward, gaining in clearness and glory as time recedes and space enlarges.

Within a century after the poet’s death lectures on his works were delivered in the churches, and, as soon as the invention of printing enabled, numerous editions were edited and circulated. The first translation was into Spanish; then into French; next into German; and a copy of a Latin translation of the Divine Comedy by a bishop was made at the request of two English bishops in the early part of the fifteenth century, and was sent to England. Spenser and Milton were familiar with the poet’s works, but the first complete English translation did not appear until 1802. Of the English translations since then, the most familiar are Cary’s and Longfellow’s; and to this catalogue Mr. Lowell adds: “A translation of the Inferno into quatrains by T. W. Parsons ranks with the best for spirit, truthfulness, and elegance”—praise which will be cordially endorsed by those who have profited by Mr. Parsons’ labor.

We propose to discuss Dante the man and Mr. Lowell’s estimate of him, as exhibited in his writings, and shall touch upon the latter only [Pg 16] as they may be necessary to the clearer revelation of their author’s character. For Dante, like Milton, was not of common mould; in whatever aspect we view him he proves extraordinary to a degree which frequently becomes incomprehensible. It is natural to wish to throw the two under the same light, although the result of the experiment is only to magnify their points of difference and diminish those of comparison. The sum of the results appears to be that only in the accidents of life are they comparable; in the essentials of character, with a single exception—that of intense faith—they were radically unlike. Widely apart as their names appear—Dante dying in 1321 and Milton entering life in 1608—men were engaged during the lives of both in civil revolution, and each had his own theory of government and exercised the functions of political power. Both were men of sorrow, both were unappreciated in their day and generation, and the light and joy which each experienced emanated from within and supplied the fire of their genius. The noblest work of each was written in the gloomiest period of his life. Here the possibility of parallel ends.

There is a close relation—a much closer one than may at first be suspected—between Dante and the instant condition of American society and politics. Nearly six hundred years have passed away, and we have to go back to Dante to learn personal virtue in political life, as well as religion in social affairs. Lowell has escaped the poison of the time. He perceives the essence as well as the necessity of virtue, and fully realizes its absence in our own state.

“Very hateful to his fervid heart and sincere mind would have been the modern theory which deals with sin as involuntary error, and by shifting off the fault to the shoulders of Atavism or those of Society—personified for purposes of excuse, but escaping into impersonality again from the grasp of retribution—weakens that sense of personal responsibility which is the root of self-respect and the safeguard of character. Dante, indeed, saw clearly enough that the divine justice did at length overtake society in the ruin of states caused by the corruption of private, and thence of civic, morals; but a personality so intense as his could not be satisfied with such a tardy and generalized penalty as this. ‘It is Thou,’ he says sternly, ‘who hast done this thing, and Thou, not Society, shalt be damned for it; nay, damned all the worse for this paltry subterfuge. This is not my judgment, but that of the universal Nature, from before the beginning of the world.’… He believed in the righteous use of anger, and that baseness was its legitimate quarry. He did not think the Tweeds and Fisks, the political wire-pullers and convention-packers, of his day merely amusing, and he certainly did think it the duty of an upright and thoroughly-trained citizen to speak out severely and unmistakably. He believed firmly, almost fiercely, in a divine order of the universe, a conception whereof had been vouchsafed him, and that whatever or whoever hindered or jostled it, whether wilfully or blindly it mattered not, was to be got out of the way at all hazards; because obedience to God’s law, and not making things generally comfortable, was the highest duty of man, as it was also his only way to true felicity.… It would be of little consequence to show in which of two equally selfish and short-sighted parties a man enrolled himself six hundred years ago; but it is worth something to know that a man of ambitious temper and violent passions, aspiring to office in a city of factions, could rise to a level of principle so far above them all. Dante’s opinions have life in them still, because they were drawn from living sources of reflection and experience, because they were reasoned out from the astronomic laws of history and ethics, and were not weather-guesses snatched in a glance at the doubtful political sky of the hour.”

In this Dante strikingly differed [Pg 17] from Milton, who was a revengeful and intensely-bigoted fanatic of his own faction, and he admitted to his companionship no man, high or low, who presumed to differ from him. Dante was a politician by principle, placing his country first, and setting a high value on himself as her servant. Milton was a politician by bigotry, placing himself first, and setting a high value on his country because he was her servant. But the manliness of Dante in demanding that the severe precepts of religion should be inflexibly applied to political administration in an age whose corruption was only less shocking than that of our own, is the particular lesson which this vigorous extract from Lowell conveys. If society in this era should esteem political wire-pullers, convention-packers, and politicians who deem patriotism the science of personal exigencies, as Dante esteemed and treated them, should we be any the worse off? Dante looked upon a thief as a thief, and the knave who conspired to defraud the government as fit only to “begone among the other dogs.” Would there not be a healthier tone in our political affairs if these classes of criminals were not met, as is usually the case, by justice daintily gloved and the bandage removed from her eyes, lest she should make a mistake as to persons?

The inspiration of Dante was strictly religious. So was Milton’s; but with this distinction: that Dante’s religiousness was real and beneficent, while Milton’s was unreal and malignant—as Lowell says, Milton’s “God was a Calvinistic Zeus.”

A brief and succinct analysis of the Divine Comedy will be found serviceable by those who have not analyzed it for themselves, and at the same time will make manifest the dependence of Dante’s inspiration upon Catholic doctrine:

“The poem consists of three parts—Hell, Purgatory, and Paradise. Each part is divided into thirty-three cantos, in allusion to the years of the Saviour’s life; for although the Hell contains thirty-four, the first canto is merely introductory. In the form of the verse (triple rhyme) we may find an emblem of the Trinity, and in the three divisions of the threefold state of man, sin, grace, and beatitude.… Lapse through sin, mediation, and redemption—these are the subjects of the three parts of the poem; or, otherwise stated, intellectual conviction of the result of sin, typified in Virgil; … moral conversion after repentance, by divine grace, typified in Beatrice; reconciliation with God, and actual, blinding vision of him—‘The pure in heart shall see God.’… The poem is also, in a very intimate sense, an apotheosis of woman.… Nothing is more wonderful than the power of absorption and assimilation in this man, who could take up into himself the world that then was, and reproduce it with such cosmopolitan truth, to human nature and to his own individuality as to reduce all contemporary history to a mere comment on his vision. We protest, therefore, against the parochial criticism which would degrade Dante to a mere partisan; which sees in him a Luther before his time, and would clap the bonnet rouge upon his heavenly muse.”

Dante proved himself a reformer of the most aggressive kind. The difference between him and Luther was that Dante endeavored to reform men by means of the church; Luther endeavored to destroy the church rather than reform himself. Evils existed within the church, as a part of society, during the periods of both. Dante helped to correct them as a conservative; Luther chose, as a radical, to tear the edifice down. Unlike the temple of Philistia, the church stood, and the Samson of the sixteenth century fell beneath the ruins of a single column.

No fact in the history of poetry is [Pg 18] more striking than the necessity of religion as a source of inspiration. The Iliad and Odyssey acquire their epic quality from the religion of Greece; gods stalk about, and Minerva’s shield resounds in the clangor with that of Achilles. The Æneid would be beautiful without the association of mythology; but it is mythology which enhances its grace into grandeur. The Vedas are an expression of the religious aspirations of the Hindoos. The verse of Boccaccio is pleasing only in proportion as religion cleansed his pen. Petrarch’s sonnets would never have been written had not Laura taught him the distinction between pure love, as the church knows it, and the passions which carried Byron into hysterics. The Italian epic of the sixteenth century, Jerusalem Delivered, which is held by Hallam to be equal in grace to the Æneid, had the First Crusade for its theme. Would it have been possible for Milton to have written any poem equal to Paradise Lost out of other than Scriptural materials? Aside from the literary characteristics and dramatic strength of the plays of Shakspeare, does not their chief value lie in their correct morality—the morality which is found nowhere outside Catholic teaching? This is not the place to discuss the modern decline of poetry. Matthew Arnold’s theory—it is a general favorite—is that history and boldly-outlined epochs make poetry; and Lowell says, in his essay on Milton, “It is a high inspiration to be the neighbor of great events.” But the last two centuries have been crowded with history; boldly-outlined epochs have lifted their awful summits in England, in France, in Italy, in the United States, in Spain. Where are the great poets among the verse-makers who have been neighbors of these great events, and might have caught high inspiration from them? Since the Reformation the moral world has been growing iconoclastic, and there is no poetry in iconoclasm.

Next to religion, woman has been the great inspiration of poets; but the modern idea of marriage has shattered the sanctuary walls which Christianity erected around it; the sacredness of home is invaded, the oneness of love destroyed—there is no poetry in divorce.

Is not the decline of poetry a very curious, if not a fatal, reply to the hypothesis of evolution, carried logically into the moral and intellectual world?

Mr. Lowell completes his essay by a minute examination of Dante’s thought and style, as exhibited in the Divine Comedy; and we can find space only for the closing period:

“At the Round Table of King Arthur there was left always one seat empty for him who should accomplish the adventure of the Holy Grail. It was called the perilous seat, because of the dangers he would encounter who would win it. In the company of the epic poets there was a place left for whoever should embody the Christian idea of a triumphant life, outwardly all defeat, inwardly victorious; who should make us partakers in that cup of sorrow in which all are communicants with Christ. He who should do this would achieve indeed the perilous seat; for he must combine poesy with doctrine in such cunning wise that the one lose not its beauty nor the other its severity—and Dante has done it. As he takes possession of it we seem to hear the cry he himself heard when Virgil rejoined the company of great singers:

‘All honor to the loftiest of poets!’”

Mr. Lowell’s Dante is a man divinely inspired and overshadowed by divinity to the grave itself—a character austere, devoid of humor, unflinchingly faithful to his [Pg 19] conceptions of right whether moral or political, self-respecting, and believing in his own commission from God; a mind logical, systematic, and illuminated by Heaven, consciously developing its marvellous genius in the midst of contumely; a heart consumed first by human love for Beatrice, and by it purged and refined out of personality into the love of God and the proper relative appreciation of all creatures; a sublime human soul, in brief, transformed from the individual into the universal, and teaching all men, as it was taught in sorrow and in love, to seek eternity as the sole object worthy of human effort; and teaching in a lofty splendor of phrase and successions of exquisite imagery which continue to astonish posterity and will for ever adorn general literature.

The essay on Milton is devoted rather to Mr. David Masson than to the poet. There is nothing to indicate that the critic is in love with either the poems or the personality of the sublime Puritan who officiated in the capacity of Latin secretary to Oliver Cromwell, and who devoted himself to epic verse after his services ceased to be available for the oppression of his fellow-men. Still less is he enamored of Mr. David Masson as a biographer of Milton, and the jovial though thoroughly effective manner in which he demonstrates the Scotch professor’s unfitness for this office adds to his volume a flavor of pungency which brings back happy recollections of the “Table for Critics.” Masson is very voluminous and exasperatingly given to remote and often irrelevant detail; and Macaulay, in extinguishing some of the literary pretenders of his time, was never more dextrous than Lowell in this grotesque joust at the Edinburgh professor’s faults, nor half so witty. Referring to the length of the biography—there are eight volumes octavo of the Life and Works—Lowell says with perfect gravity: “We envy the secular leisures of Methuselah, and are thankful that his biography, at least (if written in the same longeval proportion), is irrecoverably lost to us. What a subject that would have been for a person of Mr. Masson’s spacious predilections!” And he goes on to say: “It is plain, from the preface to the second volume, that Mr. Masson himself has an uneasy consciousness that something is wrong, and that Milton ought to be more than a mere incident of his own biography.” Masson, on the other hand, is of opinion “that, whatever may be thought by a hasty person looking in on the subject from the outside,” no one can study Milton without being obliged to study also the history of England, Scotland, and Ireland; whereupon Lowell retorts that, even for a hasty person, eleven years is “rather long to have his button held by a biographer ere he begins his next sentence.”

Masson’s rambling history of the seventeenth century “is interrupted now and then,” says Lowell, “by an unexpected apparition of Milton, who, like Paul Pry, just pops in and hopes he does not intrude, to tell us what he has been doing in the meanwhile.” Blinded by the dust of old papers which Masson ransacks, to discover that they have no relation to his hero, the critic compares the ponderous biography to Allston’s picture of Elijah in the wilderness, “where a good deal of research at last enables us to guess at the prophet absconded like a conundrum in the landscape, where the very ravens could scarce have found him out.”

[Pg 20] This characterization of Edinburgh by Harvard will certainly inspire suggestion, if it does not awaken hope; but Lowell’s right to criticise the sedate and prolix gentleman who occupies in the Scottish metropolis the chair which he himself fills at Cambridge does not rest, as we have already seen in the essay on Dante, on Susarion’s faculty of turning the serious and dull into actual comedy.

Like all who have recently written of Milton—with the exception of Masson—Lowell looks upon him as a being “set apart.” To idealize the author of Paradise Lost is quite as natural as to idealize Dante, notwithstanding their relative distances from us; but in the former case, with Lowell, it is the idealization of admiring awe; in the latter, of tender and exquisitely appreciative love. He does not appear to hold Milton in any degree of the personal affection which he feels for the inspired Florentine, but is constrained to insist that Masson is disrespectful toward his subject, and that “Milton is the last man in the world to be slapped on the back with impunity.”

When Lowell writes of Milton’s literary style, although he does it sparingly, every stroke is a master’s. His estimate of Milton as a man is calm, judicial, and courageous. “He stands out,” he says, “in marked and solitary individuality, apart from the great movement of the civil war, apart from the supine acquiescence of the Restoration, a self-opinionated, unforgiving, and unforgetting man.” It is the habit of hurried teachers of our day, who have to teach so many more things than they know, to exalt Milton

“High on a throne of royal state,”

and swing before him the incense of a senseless and absurd homage. In our school-days most of us were led to look upon the sightless poet as a being more than man, if a little less than God. Virtues, as he understood them, he certainly possessed; but many more virtuous than he suffered ignominy and death for presuming to exercise the very liberty which he grandly claimed for himself, but which, we find on examining his prose, he was dilatory in awarding to others, even in the abstract. These prose writings are at once curious and monstrous, and exhibit the real Milton in a true and natural light, even as Samson Agonistes, Lycidas, and Paradise Lost manifest his superb and supreme characteristics as a poet. In prose he wrote as he thought; in verse he wrote as he could. He was always the rhetorician, making an art of what men of less genius can display only as the artificial; but while his poetry is the complete manifestation of his art, his prose, always written with an obvious and acknowledged personal purpose, manifests himself. His prose works are already scarce; the day is not distant when nothing will remain of them but their ashes, for the types will plead release from perpetuating the hard, angular, stony reality of a man whom taste, if not instinct, yearns to withdraw from our painful knowledge of what he was, and veil him in a radiant mistiness of what we wish he might have been. Nothing better illustrates the idealism with which the pencil of youth paints Milton than Macaulay’s essay, written while he was still a boy, but included with the mature expressions of his manhood. Nothing could more completely pulverize this roseate estimate than Milton’s own works in the days when he wrote for time and not for immortality. No matter what the theme, his prose is always ponderous and polysyllabic, [Pg 21] abounding in magnificent metaphor, violent epithets, arrogant dogmatism, and personal abuse of those who differed from him, of which no trace, happily, remains in our day. The higher the man, the coarser the missile which he hurled at him with a giant’s force. In his reply to Salmasius he addresses that eminent scholar as “a vain, flashy man,” and, in the progress of his argument, reminds him that he is also a knave, a pragmatical coxcomb, a bribed beggar, a whipped dog, an impotent slave, a renegade, a sacrilegious wretch, a mongrel cur, an obscure scoundrel, a fearful liar, and a mass of corruption.

He seems to have lacked both consistency and clearness of conviction. He was apparently incapable of loving woman; he scarcely respected her; and, in his social theory, awarded the sex a place somewhat below that which it occupied under the patriarchs, and considerably lower than that described by Homer as peculiar to the heroic age of Greece. He obtained coy and pretty Mary Powell from her father in consideration of so many pounds of the coin of the realm, at a time when a mortgage had become embarrassing and a daughter was the only available means of extinguishing it. When that volatile young woman, shivering in the shadows of a Puritan despot, found courage enough to leave his roof, Milton was undoubtedly more impressed by her audacity than grieved by her absence. It was his pride that was hurt; and notwithstanding that he had previously advocated social views of the straitest and most conservative kind, he then published his essay on divorce, which, in amazing egotism, in wealth of classical and Scriptural allusion, in looseness of morals, and in equality of social privileges as between man and woman, is as veritable a curiosity as antiquarians have yet rescued from the monumental mysteries of old Assyria. In politics and religion he was as unsound and wavering as in his laws for society. An aristocrat of the most despotic type, he enthroned learning, and yet permitted his daughters to acquire only the alphabets, that he might use their senses as his slaves. He despised them as human beings, and they, in turn, hated and deceived him, and almost his last words on earth were terrible denunciations of those whom God intended to illumine his home, soothe his life, and deliver his whitened head, already aureoled, to

“Dear, beauteous Death.”

For many years—the very best of his life—he lent himself to the political schemes of Oliver Cromwell, and the violence and coarseness of his pamphlets made him one of the most conspicuous figures of a long series of civil storms; yet Lowell is constrained to admit that “neither in politics, theology, nor social ethics did Milton leave any distinguishable trace on the thought of his time or in the history of opinion.” He considered his ideas and inclinations correct and above appeal, simply because they were John Milton’s. The harshest word which Lowell says of his prose style is his comparison of a man of Milton’s personal character, which was without taint, to Martin Luther, whose writings were a true reflection of their author. Lowell is very gentle in saying of so noted a plagiarist as Milton: “A true Attic bee, he made boot on every lip where there was a trace of truly classic honey.” He did indeed, not in prose only, but in his verse. But we easily forgive him. There are thieves whom stolen garments more become than their owners.

[2] Among my Books. Second Series.

[Pg 22]





The night closed in—night, that is so cruel, yet so merciful; intensifying every pain in the long dark watch, or lulling it in blessed sleep.

There was very little sleep for Raymond that night, and none at all for his two nurses. They sat by his bed while the slow hours dragged on, watching his feverish restlessness, that was occasionally soothed by broken snatches of rest, thanks to a potion that was administered at intervals. Franceline’s anxiety gradually returned as she sat there observing every sound and symptom. She could not but see that there was something far more serious in this sudden attack than an ordinary fainting fit. Raymond was so troubled and excited in his sleep that she almost wished him to awake; and then again she longed for unconsciousness to soothe his feverish terrors. He clutched her hand; he could not bear her to move from him. At last the dawn came, and like a bright-winged angel scattered the darkness and scared away the ghostly phantoms of the night, and Raymond fell into a slumber long and deep enough to be refreshing.

Some days passed without bringing any change; but he was no worse, which, the doctor said, meant that he was better. His condition, however, continued extremely critical.

It was wonderful both to Angélique and to herself how Franceline bore up under the strain; for both her mental and physical powers were severely taxed. She had hardly closed her eyes since her father had fallen ill; and she took scarcely any food. But anxiety, so long as it does not utterly break us down, buoys us up.

The few neighbors who were intimate were kind and sympathizing. Lady Anwyll had driven over and made anxious inquiries, and would gladly be of use in any way, if she could. Miss Bulpit also came to offer her services in any way they could be available. Miss Merrywig called every day. So far Franceline had seen none of them; she was always with her father when they called, and Angélique would not disturb her for visitors.

Father Henwick came constantly to inquire, but did not always ask to see the young girl. Franceline wondered why her father had not before this expressed a wish to see him; it seemed so natural that such a wish should have manifested itself the moment Raymond was able to receive any one. She dared not take the initiative and suggest it, but she could not help feeling that it would be an immense relief to the sufferer if he could disburden his mind of the weight that was upon it, and speak to Father Henwick as to a tried and affectionate friend, if even he did not as yet seek spiritual help and guidance from him. It had [Pg 23] long since been borne in on Franceline that the horrible suspicion which had so mysteriously fallen on Raymond was in some way or other connected with his sudden illness; she brooded over the thought until it became a fixed idea and haunted her day and night. How was it that he did not instinctively turn for comfort to the Source where he was sure to find it? Father Henwick himself must feel pained and surprised at not having been summoned to the sick-room before this. Franceline was thinking over it all one morning, sitting near Raymond’s bedside, when Angélique put in her head and announced in a loud whisper that M. le Curé, as she dubbed Father Henwick, was down-stairs, and would be glad if she could speak to him a moment. Franceline rose softly, and was leaving the room, when her father, who was not dozing, as she fancied, said:

“Why does he not come up and see me? I should be glad to see him; it would do me good.”

Father Henwick came up without delay, and Franceline soon made a pretext for leaving him alone with the invalid. It was with a beating heart that she closed the door on them and went down-stairs to wait till she was recalled. She could hear only the full, clear tones of Father Henwick’s voice at first; after a while these grew lower, and then she heard the murmur of Raymond’s voice; then there seemed to follow a silence. She was too agitated to pray in words, but her heart prayed silently with intense fervor. The conference lasted a full half-hour, and then Father Henwick’s cheerful voice sounded on the stairs.

“How do you think he looks, father?” she said, meeting him at the study door with another question in her eyes that Father Henwick thought he understood.

“Much better than I expected!” he answered promptly and with a heartiness of conviction that was music to her ears; “and you will find that from this out he will improve steadily, and rapidly, I hope, too.”

A stifled “Thank God!” was Franceline’s answer.

“And now how about you?” said the priest, with something of the old blunt grumble that was so much more reassuring than the tenderness called forth by pity. “I heard a very bad account of you this morning—no sleep, and no food, and no air; you mean to fret yourself into an illness before your father is up and able to attend on you, do you? That would be one way of showing your dutiful affection for him. Humph! Are those the eyes for a young lady to have in her head on a fine sunny morning like this? Did you go to bed at all last night?”

“Yes, but I could not sleep; I was too anxious, too unhappy.”

“Too unbelieving, too mistrustful. Go up-stairs this minute, you child of little faith, and lie down and lay your head upon the pillow of divine Providence, and be asleep in five minutes!”

He left her with this peremptory injunction, and Franceline, with a lightened heart, went up-stairs determined to obey it. It was as yet, of course, a matter of pure conjecture what had passed between the priest and her father; but when, an hour later, after obediently taking that refreshing sleep on the pillow of divine Providence which had been commanded her, she came into Raymond’s room, there was a marked change in his whole [Pg 24] demeanor. He had not passed the interval in the listless apathy that had now become habitual to him. He had made Angélique bring over a little celestial globe and set it on the bed for him, and had amused himself with it awhile; and then he had taken up the book Franceline had left on the chair beside him when she stole out of the room. It was The Imitation of Christ. He was reading it when she entered, and there was an expression on his features that made her happier than she had been for a long time. He looked more peaceful, more life-like than she had seen him for weeks even before he had fallen ill.

“You are feeling better, petit père?” she said, kissing him, and taking the dear face between her hands to look into it more closely.

“Yes, my clair de lune, much better,” he replied, with a smile that had all its wonted sweetness and something of the old brightness. “I think I shall be able to get down-stairs in a day or two.”

“I see you have been at your old tricks again,” she said, shaking her finger at him and pointing to the globe; “you know you are forbidden to do anything that gives you the least fatigue.”

“It was not a fatigue, my little one—it amused me; but I will not do it again, if you don’t wish it.”

Franceline hugged his head to her cheek, and said she would let him do anything so long as it amused him.

“I was thinking of you last night, petit père,” she said, making the globe revolve slowly on its axis; “the sky was so beautiful at twelve o’clock when I happened to look out of my window that I longed for you to see it.”

“Ha! Then probably it will be the same to-night,” said Raymond. “I will keep my curtain drawn, so that I may see it, if it is.”

“Yes; and let the moon keep you awake whether you will or not! I should like to hear what Angélique would say to that proposal! No; but I will tell you what we’ll do: I will be on the watch to-night, and if the stars are like last night I will steal in and see if you are awake, and if you are I will draw the curtain so that you may see them from your bed. We shall be like two savants making our ‘observations’ in the night-time, shall we not? And—who knows?—we may discover a new star!”

Raymond pinched her cheek and laughed gently. His hopes in this respect were limited by facts—or rather negatives—that Franceline did not stop to inquire into; she had not gone deeply into the science of astronomy.

“There is no saying what I might not discover with those bright eyes of thine for a telescope,” said M. de la Bourbonais.

Angélique rejoiced in her own fashion at the decided turn for the better that her master had suddenly taken. She saw that he spoke a good deal during the evening, and ate with a nearer approach to appetite than he had yet shown; so she settled him for the night, and went to bed with a lighter heart than for many past nights, and soon slept soundly.

Franceline did not follow her example. It was not anxiety that kept her awake, but happiness; she could not bring herself to part with it so quickly, and lose it for a time in unconsciousness. There was a presence, too, in the ecstatic silence of the night, that answered to this sense of joy and appealed [Pg 25] to her for responsive watch. Joys are more intense when we dwell on them in the night-time, because they are more separate, farther lifted from the jarring discord of our daily lives, where pain cries around us in so many multiform tongues. It is as if the world grew wider in spiritual space, and that senses and fibres, too delicate to vibrate in the glare of daylight, woke up in the solemn hush when the world of man is out of sight and God comes nearer to us.

Franceline stood at the window and gazed at the beautiful scene that spread itself before her. The moon was at her full; the landscape, diluted in the moonlight, floated in mystic, illimitable space, still and hushed as if the world were holding its breath to hear the stars tingling in the sapphire dome; every tree and blade of grass were listening to the silence; the river sped stealthily along like a silver snake between its banks where the gray poplars stood looking down, frighted by the vibration of their own shadows, dyeing themselves black in the water.

“If he were awake, how he would enjoy this!” murmured Franceline to herself; and then, unable to resist the temptation, she stole softly through Angélique’s room and across the landing into Raymond’s. The doors were all open, partly to admit more air, partly that they might hear the least tinkle of his little hand-bell, if he sounded it.

“Is that my Franceline?” asked a voice from the bed. The night light threw her shadow on the floor, and Raymond, who was not asleep, saw it.

“Yes, petit père,” she answered in a whisper; “the sky is so lovely I thought I must come and see if you were awake. Shall I draw the curtain?”


She did so, and then crept back and knelt down beside him. Raymond laid his cheek against her head, and clasped her hand in his, and they remained for some moments gazing at the beauty of the heavens in silence. Then he said, making long pauses, as if he were thinking aloud rather than speaking to her:

“How wonderful is the splendor of God as he reveals it to us in his works!… Who can measure his power, his glory?… Think what it means, the creation of one of those stars! And there are myriads and myriads of them spangling millions of miles of blue sky! There are no steppes, no barren spots, there where the stars cannot grow. They are not like flowers, those stars of our world; they never perish or fade—they only draw behind the light for a while; always harmonious, moving in their appointed places like the notes of a divine symphony; they make no discord. The great stars are not scornful of the little ones; the little stars are not jealous of the great; each is content to be as it is and where it is, and to stay where the great Star-Maker has fixed it.… My clair de lune, let us try and be content like the stars.”

Franceline raised his hand to her lips, and murmured the strophe of her favorite hymn of S. Francis: “Praised be my Lord for our sister the moon, and for the stars, which he has set clear and lovely in the heavens.…”

The next morning Father Henwick came and was once more closeted with Raymond. Nothing had been said about it, but, when the door-bell sounded, M. de la [Pg 26] Bourbonais glanced quickly at the clock, and exclaimed in a tone of surprise: “Already half-past twelve! I did not think it was so late. Thou wilt show him up at once, my child, and then leave us alone for a little.”

No further explanation was necessary. Franceline kissed him in silence, placed a chair close by his pillow, and then, in a happy flutter, went down to meet Father Henwick.

Two days after this there was great joy at The Lilies. The little cottage was decked out as for a bridal. Franceline had stayed up late to have it all finished for the early morning; she would do everything with her own hands. The stairs were wreathed with garlands of green leaves and ferns; every vase and cup she could find was filled with the sweet spring flowers—cowslips, primroses, anemones, and wild violets—and placed in the tiny entrance and on the landing opposite Raymond’s room. The room itself was transformed into a chapel. At the foot of the bed stood a small table covered with Franceline’s snowiest muslin, joyously sacrificed for the occasion. Lights were burning on either side of a large crucifix; there were lights and flowers on the mantelpiece, where she had placed her statue of the Madonna and other precious ornaments; the thin curtains were drawn and filled the little room with a soft golden twilight. Franceline was kneeling beside the bed, reciting some litany aloud, which Raymond answered from a book in timid, reverential under-tones.

But now a sudden hush falls upon the faintly-broken silence. There is a sound of footsteps without; a dear and awful Presence is approaching. No need to ring; the door stands open to its widest, and Angélique, kneeling on the threshold, adores and welcomes the divine Guest; a little bell goes tinkling up amidst the flowers, and ceases as it enters the illuminated room.…

*  *  *  *  *

The sudden improvement in Raymond’s state was not followed by a proportionately rapid progress. He still continued extremely weak, and was not able to come down-stairs until several days later. Dr. Blink was puzzled; he had been very sanguine when the rally took place, and now he hardly knew what to think. He was convinced from the first that the attack had been in a great measure caused by some mental shock; but that seemed at one moment to have righted itself, and he thought his patient was safe. This was apparently a mistake. The pressure may have been unexpectedly lightened, but it was clearly not removed; and until this was done medicine could do very little.

“There is something on his mind,” said the doctor to Mr. Langrove one morning, on coming out from his daily visit; “there is some trouble weighing on him, and he will not recover until something is done toward removing it.”

The vicar understood perfectly the drift of this remark. It was an appeal from the medical man to the friend of the patient for help or light. Mr. Langrove could give neither. He observed that the count had been seriously anxious about Franceline’s health; but Dr. Blink shook his head. He knew how to discriminate between the effect of heartache and a pressure on the mind. In this case the mind was oppressed by some secret burden, or he was very much mistaken; [Pg 27] it might be some painful apprehension in the future, or something distressing in the past; but whatever the cause was, past or future, the present effect was unmistakable, and, unless some friend who had the full confidence of the patient could afford some relief, the worst might still be apprehended. Mr. Langrove answered by some irrelevant expression of sympathy and regret, but volunteered no opinion of his own. He went home and sat down and wrote to Sir Simon Harness. This was all he could think of. If Sir Simon could not help, he believed no one else could.

It so happened that the baronet was just now absent in the South of Italy, in dutiful attendance on Lady Rebecca; and as he had been called off suddenly, and left no orders about his letters being sent after him, those directed to his bankers lay there unopened. There was another besides Mr. Langrove’s lying there, which, if it had reached him, would have rejoiced the baronet’s heart and provoked a quick response.

The fears which Raymond’s tardy progress raised in the mind of his medical man were not shared by Franceline. Hope still triumphed over alarm, and she felt confident that, since the great weight on her father’s mind had been removed, his complete recovery must ultimately follow. This certainty made the delay easy to bear. It was wonderful how her own strength bore up. She had quite lost her cough—a fact which confirmed the doctor’s previous opinion that the nerves had more to do with this symptom than the lungs—she kept well, and was altogether in better health than for some months previously. Her spirits raised to elation after that happy morning’s episode, continued excellent—at times as joyous as a child’s.

The moment M. de la Bourbonais was able to get down-stairs Angélique insisted on Franceline going every day for a walk while the sun was shining. One morning, when he had come down and was comfortably established on the sofa in his study, propped up so that he could see out of the window, Franceline said she was going to gather him a bouquet. She smoothed and changed the cushions, put another shawl over his feet, moved the sofa a little bit nearer the window, and then back again a little bit nearer the fire, until, finding there was absolutely nothing more to fuss over, except to kiss him for the tenth time with “Au revoir, petit père!” as if they were separating for a journey, she sallied forth for her constitutional.

The weather was mild and beautiful; spring was intoning the first bars of its idyl, striking bright emerald notes from the tips of the trees, and drawing low, pink whispers from the blackthorn in the hedges; the birds were beginning to tune their lutes and make ready for the great concert that was at hand. Franceline’s heart bounded in unison with the pulse of joy and universal awakening; she began to warble a duet with the skylark as she went along, stopping every now and then to make a nosegay of the pink and white anemones and violets and torch-like king-cups that grew in wild luxuriance in the woods and fields. Dullerton was famous for its wild flowers. Half an hour passed quickly while thus engaged, and then she turned homewards. The doves were on the watch for her, “sunning their milk-white bosoms on the thatch,” as she came [Pg 28] in sight, and swelling the sweet harmony of earth and sky with a tender, well-contented coo. But hark! Could that be the cuckoo that was already calling from the woods? She paused with her hand on the latch to listen. No: it was only the voice of the sunshine echoing through her own happy heart. She pushed open the gate and walked quickly on; but again her step was arrested. Some one was coming round by the park entrance. It was no doubt Mr. Langrove; no one else came that way—no one but Sir Simon Harness, and there he stood. Franceline had nearly uttered a cry, when a quick sign from the baronet checked it and made her walk leisurely on without doing anything to attract attention. She cast a furtive glance towards the casement, to see if by chance her father had changed his place and come to sit by the window; but he was still on the sofa where she had left him.

Sir Simon opened his arms and clasped her with a warmth of emotion that did not surprise Franceline.

“You heard that he was ill! You are come to see him!” she exclaimed.

“I have only heard it this minute from my people at the house. Why did you not write to me, child? Ah! he would not let you, I suppose? My poor Raymond! And now how is he? Can I see him? Will he see me?”

“Why should he not see you, dear Sir Simon?” said Franceline, raising her large, soft glance to him, full of wondering reproach.

“Of course, of course,” said the baronet; “but is he strong enough to see me? They tell me he has been terribly shaken by this illness. It might cause him a shock if he saw me too suddenly.”

“Shall I tell him that you are expected down to-day? That would break it to him,” suggested Franceline. “Or you might write a line and send it in first to say you were here; would that do?”

Before Sir Simon could decide for either alternative, fate, in the shape of Angélique, decided for him. She had seen Franceline enter the garden, and wondered why she loitered outside instead of coming in; so she came out to see, and, on beholding Sir Simon, threw up her arms with a shout of astonishment.

Franceline cried out “Hush!” and shook her hand at the old woman, but it was too late; Raymond had seen and heard her from his sofa.

“Go in at once,” said Sir Simon, much excited—“go and tell him I am come to kiss his feet; to ask his forgiveness on my knees. Tell him I know everything.” And he pushed her gently from him. Franceline did not stop to ask what the strange message could mean, but ran in, thinking only how best she could deliver it so as to avoid too sudden a shock to her father.

Raymond was sitting up on the sofa, his face slightly flushed.

“What is the matter? Who is there?” he cried.

“Dear father, nothing is the matter; only something you will be glad to hear,…” she began.

“Ha! it is Simon! What has he come for? What does he want?”

“He wants to embrace you; and, father, he bade me say that he knows everything, and has come to ask you to forgive him and let him kiss your feet. He is waiting; may he come in?”

But Raymond did not answer; he was murmuring some words to himself, with hands lifted reverently as in prayer, while a smile of unearthly joy diffused itself on his [Pg 29] whole countenance. The emotion was too much for him; he fell back exhausted on his pillow.

Franceline thought he had fainted and screamed out for help. Sir Simon was beside her in an instant.

“Raymond! my friend, my brother, can you ever forgive me?” he cried, kneeling beside M. de la Bourbonais and taking his hand in both his.

“You know the truth, then? You got his letter?”

“Whose letter? I got no letter; but I found the ring. Look at it!”

He drew an enamelled snuff-box from his pocket, opened it, and held up the diamond, that flashed in the sun like a little star.

“Thank Heaven! I shall now be justified before all men!” exclaimed M. de la Bourbonais with trembling emotion. “This is more than I dared to hope. My God! I give thee thanks for this great mercy.”

No one spoke for a moment. Franceline had signed to Angélique to leave the room, but remained herself, a silent spectator of the strange scene.

“Who had it? How was it found?” said M. de la Bourbonais, taking the ring and examining it with an expression of mistrust, as if it were some uncanny thing that he half expected to see melt in his fingers.

“It has been in my possession, locked up at the Court, all this time!” replied Sir Simon. “You may remember I used this snuff-box that night, and sent it round the table. Someone dropped the ring into it unawares; it was not opened afterwards, and it never entered into my stupid brain to think of looking into it. I went away in a great hurry next morning, and threw the snuff-box into a safe in my room where I keep papers and the loose jewelry I have in use. I came down this afternoon to get a deed out of the safe, saw the snuff-box, and by the merest chance opened it and found the ring.”

Mon Dieu!” murmured Raymond, after hearing this simple explanation of the mistake that had very nearly cost him his life.

“Bourbonais, can you ever forgive me?” said Sir Simon.

Raymond opened his arms without speaking. Sir Simon flung himself with a sob upon his breast, and the two clung together and wept.

Franceline felt as if even she had no right to be present; that she was intruding in a sacred place where some mystery, not intended for her eyes, was being unfolded. She was moving softly toward the door when her father called her back.

“Come hither, my child; come and embrace me. I can have no happiness that thou dost not share.”

“Franceline,” said Sir Simon, rising from his knees and taking her hand with an expression of humility that was very touching in the grand, white-haired gentleman, “I have been guilty of a great act of disloyalty towards your father. I cannot tell you what it was; perhaps he will. Meantime, he has forgiven me for the sake of our long friendship, and because his soul is too noble, too generous, to bear malice, even against an unfaithful friend. Will you do as he has done, and say you forgive me too?”

His voice was full of trembling, his eyes were still moist. Franceline did as he had done to her father: she flung her arms round his neck and wept.


[Pg 30]



The keen relish which we all have for other people’s sins is proverbial. As those who think with us are right, so are they virtuous who have only our own vices. Prodigality, which, to the miser’s thinking, is the worst of sins, is, in the eyes of the spendthrift, merely an evidence of a generous nature. Men who wish to be thought gentlemen have a weakness for what are called gentlemanly vices; but from the coarser though less depraved wickedness of the vulgar they turn with loathing. This bias of our common nature is not confined in its action to individuals; it affects classes, nations, races. The rich are shocked by the vices of the poor, and the poor, in turn, no less by those of the rich; masters hate the sins of servants, and are repaid in their own coin.

When the free-born Briton sings, “England, with all thy faults, I love thee still,” he means that faults, if only they be English, are after all not so bad. Wrapt up in the precious bundle of our self-love are all our pet sins and weaknesses. The universal hatred which existed between the nations of antiquity must be attributed in great part to the fact that their vices were unlike, and therefore repellant. The national contempt for foreigners is, in Christian times, strong in proportion to the barbarism of the people by whom it is felt; but in Greece and Rome such civilization as was then possible seemed to have no power over this prejudice. Not to be a Greek was to have been created for vile uses, and not to be a Roman was to be nobody. The French, as seen by the English, are giddy and lack dignity; the English appear to French eyes, sulky and wanting in good nature; the Turk thinks both struck with madness, because they walk about and stretch their legs when they might sit still; and though he is at their mercy, yet he cannot persuade himself that they are anything but Christian dogs. The negro is quite sure the first man must have been black, and in this he is in accord with Mr. Darwin. The North American Indian will vanish from the earth through the golden portals of the western world still believing that he is the superior of the “pale face.” The power of national prejudice is almost incredible. “Our country, right or wrong” is, we believe, an American phrase; but it expresses a sentiment which is almost universally held to be right and proper. In international disputes men nearly always take sides with their own country, without stopping to inquire into the merits of the quarrel, which, indeed, the strong feeling that at once masters them would prevent them from being able to do. They act instinctively like children who always think that in difficulties with neighbors their own parents are in the right. We Americans are certainly not paragons of virtue, and in this centennial year it is probably wise to discuss almost anything rather than our morals; yet we cannot but think that M. Louis Veuillot was somewhat under the influence of national prejudice when he wrote that, if we [Pg 31] were sunk in the bottom of the ocean, civilization would have lost nothing. Our form of government, it is true, does not lead us to look for salvation, either in church or state, from a king by divine right; still, he might just as well have let us alone, especially as he is at no loss for quarrels at home. Nor can we think that the Germans who have raised such a storm of indignation over the crime in Bremerhaven, committed, as it is supposed, by an American, would have held the whole German people and their civilization responsible for the offence had they known its author to be native there and to the manner born.

As no passion takes hold of the human heart with such sovereign power as that of religion, it follows that no bias of judgment is more fatal to truth than religious prejudice; and now let us gently descend again to M. Emile de Laveleye and his pamphlet:

“It is agreed on all sides,” he says (p. 25), “that the power of nations depends on their morality. Everywhere is found the maxim, which is almost become an axiom of political science, that where morals are corrupted the state is lost. Now, it appears to be an established fact that the moral level is higher among Protestant than among Catholic populations. Religious writers confess this themselves, and explain it by the fact that the former remain more faithful to their religion than the latter, which explanation I believe to be the true one.”

Here is fairness surely. The soft impeachment could not have been made in a more moderate or subdued tone. Catholics are notoriously more immoral than Protestants; but the subject is a painful one, and M. de Laveleye does not wish to emphasize the unpleasant truth by giving proof—which, indeed, would be superfluous, since Catholics themselves, we are assured, admit the fact and are concerned only about its explanation; and, strange to say, they have found the key to the mystery in the greater fidelity of Protestants to their religion: so M. de Laveleye and the Catholics shake hands and the dispute is at an end.

The position of Protestants with regard to this question is peculiar. The very life of their religion is intimately associated with a fixed belief in the preternatural wickedness of popes, priests, nuns, and Catholics generally. The sole justification of Protestantism was found in the abominable corruptions of Rome, and its only defence is that it is a purer worship, capable of creating a higher morality. The history of the Reformation, as written by Protestants, traces its origin to an awful and heaven-inspired indignation at the sight of papal iniquity, which resulted in a divine Protest against sin. It is this feeling, indeed, which is the living human magnetism in the words of Luther, Calvin, Zwingli, and Knox. They all felt that in so far as they protested against open and patent evil they were right, and therefore strong. Leo X., with God’s eternal truth, but encircled by all the Graces and Muses, was at a disadvantage with those strong and plain-spoken men. In fact, the eternal ally of human error is human truth. It is because men who are right do wrong that men who are wrong seem right; and if men in general were fit to be priests of God, there would be on earth no power to oppose the Catholic Church. St. Paul had protested, St. John Chrysostom had protested, St. Peter Damian had protested, St. Bernard had protested, St. Catherine of Sienna had protested, and yet there was no Protestantism. [Pg 32] To protest was well and is well, but to seek to found a religion upon a protest is madness; and this is Protestantism. With Protestants purity of dogma is out of the question; and nothing, therefore, remains to them but purity of morals. To this they must cling like drowning men to straws. Protestantism, if considered from a doctrinal point of view, is nihilism. Gather up the hundred sects which, taken collectively, are called Protestantism, and we will find every positive religious dogma excluded; not even the personal existence of God remains. Mr. Matthew Arnold is a true Bible-Protestant, who has a little sect of his own, and all that he holds is that there is “a Power in us, not ourselves, which makes for righteousness”; and this he has discovered to be the sum and substance of all Scripture teaching. Doctrinal Protestantism is like the wrong side of a piece of tapestry with its fag-ends hanging in patches, twisted and jumbled; and yet they are the very substance out of which has been wrought a work of divine beauty. The dogmatic weakness of Protestantism throws its whole energy upon the moral side of religion. Its utter falseness, when we accept the fact that Christ has established a divine system of faith, is so manifest that no impartial thinker would hesitate to give his full assent to the sentiment of Rousseau: “Show me that in religious matters I must accept authority, and I shall become a Catholic at once.” Supposing the Christian religion to be what it is commonly held to be by both Catholics and Protestants, it necessarily follows that the Catholic Church is the only logical as it is the only historical Christianity. This, we believe, is the almost universally-received opinion of non-Christian writers in our own day, in which, for the first time since the Reformation, a considerable number of learned men who are neither Catholic nor Protestant have been able to view this subject dispassionately. We do not mean to say that these writers prefer the church to the sects; on the contrary, they are partial to these because in their workings they perceive, as they think, the breaking-up and dissolution of the whole Christian system. Protestantism is valuable in their eyes as a stage in what Herbert Spencer calls “the universal religious thaw” which is going on around us. If there has been no divine revelation, then whatever tends to weaken the claim of the church to be the depository of such revelation is good, especially as her claim is the only one which rests upon a valid historical basis. And it is because a very large number of men more than half suspect there never has been a revelation that Protestantism meets with so much favor from the unbelieving and pagan world, as serving the purpose of an easy stepping-stone from the strong and pronounced supernaturalism of the church to the nature-worship of Darwin and Spencer or the German Culturists.

Macaulay was struck and puzzled by what his keen eye could not fail to perceive to be so universal a phenomenon as to have the force of a law of history.

“It is surely remarkable,” says this brilliant writer, “that neither the moral revolution of the eighteenth century nor the moral counter-revolution of the nineteenth should have in any perceptible degree added to the domain of Protestantism. During the former period whatever was lost to Catholicism was lost also to Christianity; during the latter whatever was regained by Christianity in Catholic countries was regained also by [Pg 33] Catholicism. We should naturally have expected that many minds, on the way from superstition to infidelity, or on the way back from infidelity to superstition, would have stopped at an intermediate point. Between the doctrines taught in the schools of the Jesuits, and those which were maintained at the little supper-parties of the Baron Holbach, there is a vast interval in which the human mind, it should seem, might find for itself some resting-place more satisfactory than either of the two extremes; and at the time of the Reformation millions found such a resting-place. Whole nations then renounced popery without ceasing to believe in a First Cause, in a future life, or in the divine authority of Christianity. In the last century, on the contrary, when a Catholic renounced his belief in the Real Presence, it was a thousand to one that he renounced his belief in the Gospel too; and when the reaction took place, with belief in the Gospel came back belief in the Real Presence. We by no means venture to deduce from these phenomena any general law; but we think it a most remarkable fact that no Christian nation which did not adopt the principles of the Reformation before the end of the sixteenth century should ever have adopted them. Catholic communities have since that time become infidel and become Catholic again, but none has become Protestant.”

There could not be a more satisfactory proof of the transitional and accidental nature of Protestantism. Like all human revolutions, it grew out of antecedent circumstances; and these were primarily political and social and only incidentally religious. The faith in the divine authority of the Christian religion was at that time absolute, and not at all affected by the tendency to scepticism observable among a few of the Humanists. The political power of the pope, however, together with his peculiar temporal relations to the German Empire, had gradually created throughout Germany a very strong national prejudice against his authority, which, upon the slightest provocation, was ready to break out into downright hatred of the Papacy. The worldly lives and ways of some of the popes had been as fuel for the conflagration which was to burst forth. Men, unconsciously it may be, grew accustomed to look upon the Christian religion and the Papacy as distinct and separable; and the temper of the public mind, while remaining reverential toward Christ and his religion, was embittered against his vicar. When, from amidst the social abuses and political antagonisms of Germany, Luther, in the name of Christ, denounced the pope, his voice struck precisely the note for which the public ear was listening, and, as Macaulay says, whole nations renounced allegiance to the pope without giving up faith in God and his Christ. This was done in the excitement of revolutionary enthusiasm, when passion and madness made deliberation impossible, and when a thoughtful and analytical study of the constitution of the church was out of the question. The Reformers imagined that they could abolish the pope and yet save Christianity, just as in France, two centuries and a half later, it was thought possible to abolish God and yet save the principle of authority, without which society cannot exist. And, indeed, it is as reasonable to suppose that this world, with its universal evidence of design and adaption of means to ends, could have come into existence without the action of a supreme and intelligent Being, as to think that the system of religious truths taught by Christ can have either unity or authority amongst men without a living centre and visible representative of both. Protestants, by rejecting the primacy of the pope, were forced to accept as fundamental to their faith a principle [Pg 34] of so purgative and drastic a nature that, in the general process of sloughing of religious thought which it brings on, it is itself finally carried away into the vacuum of nihilism.

This became evident as soon as the attempt was made to agree upon articles of belief. New heresies sprang up day after day, and complete chaos would have ensued from the beginning had not the different states taken hold of one or other of the sects and “established” it, thus, by the aid of the temporal power, giving to it a kind of consistency, but at the same time depriving it of vitality. Thus what Macaulay regarded as so remarkable—that no Christian nation which did not adopt the principles of the Reformation before the end of the sixteenth century should ever have adopted them—and he might as well have made the proposition universal, since there was no reason why he should limit it to Christian nations, since it is well known that in nothing has Protestantism given more striking proof of its impotence than in its utter failure to convert the heathen,—this, we say, far from surprising us, seems so natural that we cannot understand how an observant mind should think it strange.

Protestantism was, in the main, the product of the peculiar political and social condition of Europe during the last period of the middle ages, and to expect Catholic nations, or indeed individual Catholics of any intellectual or moral character, to become Protestant in our day argues a total want of power to grasp this subject. As well might one hope to see the pterodactyls and ichthyosauri of a past geologic era swimming in our rivers. Catholics there are, indeed, now, as in the eighteenth century, who become sceptics, who abandon all belief in Christianity, but none who become Protestants; for we cannot consider such persons as Achilli or Edith O’Gorman as instances of conversion of any kind. A very limited acquaintance with Catholics and Catholic thought will suffice to convince any reflecting mind that for us there is no alternative but to accept the doctrine of the church or to renounce faith in Christ. Was there ever fairer field for heresy to flourish in than that which opened up before Old Catholicism at its birth? But it was still-born. To this day its sponsors have not dared define its relation to the pope; and until this is done it remains without character. At any rate, it does not claim to be Protestant.

Turning to view the present condition of Protestantism, we are struck by the contrast. The very word “Protestant” is without meaning when applied to two-thirds of the non-Catholics of Germany, England, and the United States. Their mental state is one of disbelief in, or indifference to, all forms of positive religion; and if occasionally they are roused to some feeling against the church, it is through an association of ideas, traditional with them, which places her in antagonism with their political theories and national prejudices. Among earnest and reflecting Protestants who are united with one or other of the sects, there are two opposite currents of religious thought of a strongly-marked and well-defined character. Those who are borne on the one are being carried farther and farther away from the historic teachings of Christ, and are busied in trying to dress out in Biblical phraseology some of the various cosmic or pantheistic philosophies of the day. They very generally assume that religion has nothing to do with [Pg 35] theology, nor, consequently, with doctrines and dogmas. As its home is the heart, its realm is the world of sentiment; and so it matters not what we believe, provided only we feel good. Opposed to this current, which is bearing with it all the distinctive landmarks of the Christian religion, is another which is carrying men back to the church. In fact, all great minds among Protestants who have been strongly impressed by the objective character of Christian truth have been drawn towards the Catholic Church. Who can have failed to perceive, for instance—to mention only the three greatest who have occupied themselves with religious questions—how Leibnitz, Bacon, and Bishop Butler, in their intellectual apprehension of the Christian system, were, in spite of themselves, attracted to the church? Or who that is acquainted with the English Catholic literature of our own day is ignorant of the divine illumination which many of the most intellectual and reverent natures from the sects of Protestantism have found in the teachings of the one Catholic Church? In this way, by a process of supernatural or natural selection, the fragments of Protestantism are being assimilated to the church or are disappearing in the sea of unbelief in which even now they are seen only as barren islands in the wild waste of waters.

These considerations must be borne in mind by whoever would take a comprehensive view of the question which we propose now to discuss. In the first place, by reflecting upon them we shall find no difficulty in accounting for the marked difference in tone and character between Catholic and Protestant controversy, by which no attentive observer can have failed to be struck. Taking for granted the existence of God and the divinity of Christ, as admitted by the earlier Protestant sects, the logical position of the church is unassailable, which, as we have already stated, is generally conceded by impartial non-Christian thinkers.

As a consequence, Catholic controversialists, assured of the absolute coherence of their whole system with the fundamental dogma of the divine mission of Christ, have been chiefly concerned with showing the logical viciousness of the essential principles of Protestantism. They have, indeed, not omitted to remark upon the moral unfitness of such men as Henry VIII., Luther, Knox, and Zwingli to be the divinely-chosen agents of a reformation in the religion of Christ; but such observations have been incidental to the main course of the argument, and this is alike true of our more learned discussions and of our popular controversies.

Catholic writers—allowing for individual exceptions—have not felt that, to show the falsity of Protestantism, it was necessary to denounce Protestants or to stamp upon them any mark of infamy. They have treated them as men who were wrong, not as men who were wicked. Protestant controversy, on the other hand, presents for our consideration characteristics of a very different nature. In the consciousness of their inability to settle upon a fixed creed, which has been shown by history, and from the necessarily feeble manner in which articles of faith could be held by them, on account of the disagreement and conflict of opinion among themselves, Protestant writers were forced to treat their religion, not as a doctrine, but as a tendency; and for this reason, [Pg 36] together with the natural hatred which men entertain for a church or government against which they have rebelled, they were led to draw contrasts between the results of Protestantism and Catholicity; so that it became customary to attribute all the enlightenment, morality, progress, and liberty of the world to Protestantism, and to represent Catholics as cruel, ignorant, corrupt, and in every way depraved. Luther, as we should naturally expect, led the way in this style of controversy.

“The Papists,” he said, “are for the most part mere gross blockheads.… The pope and his crew are mere worshippers of idols and servants of the devil.… Pope, cardinals, bishops, not a soul of them has read the Bible; ‘tis a book unknown to them. They are a pack of guzzling, stuffing wretches, rich, wallowing in wealth and laziness.… Seeing the pope is Antichrist, I believe him to be a devil incarnate.… The pope is the last blaze in the lamp which will go out and ere long be extinguished—the last instrument of the devil, that thunders and lightens with sword and bull;… but the Spirit of God’s mouth has seized upon that shameless strumpet.… Antichrist is the Pope and the Turk together.… The pope is not God’s image, but his ape.… Popedom is founded on mere lies and fables.… A friar is evil every way; the preaching friars are proud buzzards; all who serve the pope are damned; the Papists are devoid of shame and Christianity.”[3]

This is the style of Protestant controversy which, except in form, still lingers in this nineteenth century. Protestant devotion, it may be said without sarcasm or exaggeration, consists essentially in a holy horror of popery. Were it possible to eliminate the Catholic Church from human society, Protestantism would at once fatally assume an attitude towards the world wholly different from that in which it now stands. At present, when attacked by evolutionistic pantheism—which means all the sophistries of the day—it takes refuge behind the historic fortress of Christianity, the Catholic Church, and, when encountered by the church, it makes an alliance with cosmism or anything else. Were the Catholic Church not in existence, it would be forced at once to build a fortress of its own; for the Bible is only a breastwork, which must be in charge of a commander-in-chief if we hope to hold it for the sovereign Lord. From the beginning, then, Protestants branded Catholics with a mark of infamy; they were idolaters, worse than pagans, for the most part gross blockheads, who fall an easy prey to the designing arts of priests and monks, who are only knaves and rogues, whose chief aim is to carry out the fiendish purposes of the pope, the arch-enemy, Antichrist, the devil in the flesh; and thus the church becomes the Woman of Babylon, flaming in scarlet, and alluring the nations to debauch.

No evidence, therefore, is needed to show that Catholics are immoral, depraved, thoroughly corrupt. To doubt it would be to question the truth of Protestantism and to believe that something good might come out of Nazareth. In good sooth, do not the Catholics, as M. de Laveleye says, admit the fact themselves?

We often hear persons express surprise that intelligent and honest Protestants should still, after such sad experience, be so eager to believe [Pg 37] the “awful disclosures” of “escaped nuns,” and to patronize that kind of lecture—of which, thank God! Protestants have the monopoly—delivered to men or women only, in which the abominations of the confessional are revealed and the general preternatural wickedness of priests, monks, and nuns is made fully manifest. This, to us, we must say, has never seemed strange. The doctrine of total depravity is an article of Protestant faith, and, when applied to Catholics, to none other have Protestants ever clung with such unwavering firmness and perfect unanimity. When disagreeing about everything else, they have never failed to find a point of union in this. Even after having lived and dealt with Catholics who are kind-hearted, pure, and fair-minded, in the true Protestant there still lurks a vague kind of suspicion that there must be some mysterious and secret diabolism in them which eludes his observation; that after all they may be only “as mild-mannered men as ever scuttled ship or cut a throat”; and after his reason has been fully convinced that the Catholic Church is the only historical Christianity, he is still able to remain a strong Protestant by falling back upon the undoubted total depravity of Papists. Dr. Newman, in his Apologia, the most careful and instructive self-analysis which has been written in this century, or probably in any other, declares that after he had become thoroughly persuaded of the truth of the Catholic Church his former belief that the pope was Antichrist still remained like a stain upon his imagination; and yet he had never been an ultra-Protestant. Many a Protestant has ceased to believe in Christ, without giving up his faith in the pope as Antichrist.

It is not surprising, in view of all this, that Protestants should have habitually held the church responsible for the evil deeds of Catholics.

When quite recently the excited Germans charged the dynamite plot of Thomassen upon our American civilization, we replied, with perfect justice, that such crimes are anomalies, the guilt of which ought not to be laid upon any nation, and all reasonable men admitted the evident good sense of our answer; but Protestants the world over have been unanimous in seeking to hold up the church to the execration of mankind as responsible for the St. Bartholomew massacre. Is Protestantism answerable for Cromwell’s massacres at Drogheda and Wexford? Religious fanaticism, no doubt, had much to do in urging him to butcher idolaters and slaves of Satan; but we should blush for shame were we capable of thinking for a moment that such inhumanities are either produced or approved by the real spirit of the Protestant religion.

We know of nothing in the Catholic Church which in any way corresponds with Protestant anti-popery literature; indeed, we doubt whether in the whole history of literature anything so disgraceful and disreputable as this can be found, unless, possibly, it be that which is professedly obscene, but which has nowhere ever had a recognized existence; and we question whether even this is as discreditable to human nature as the “awful disclosures” and “lectures to men or women only” of Protestants.

In discussing the comparative morality of Catholic and Protestant nations it would be more satisfactory, even though it should not be more conclusive, to consider their [Pg 38] respective virtues rather than their vices. There would seem to be neither good sense nor logic in taking the individuals and classes that are least brought under religious influences of any kind, in order to use their depravity as an argument for or against the church or Protestantism. In the apostolic body one out of twelve was a thief and traitor, yet neither Catholics nor Protestants are in the habit of concluding from this that they must all have been rogues and hypocrites. The amount of crime, one would think, is but a poor test of the amount of virtue. As the greatest sinners have made the greatest saints, so in the church depravity may co-exist with the most heroic virtue, though, of course, not in the same individual. Our divine Saviour plainly declares that in his church the good shall be mingled with the bad; that the cockle shall grow with the wheat till the harvest time; that some shall call him Lord and Master, and yet do not the will of his Father; that even, with regard to those who sit in the chair of Moses—and, let us add, of Peter—though their authority must ever be acknowledged, yet are not their lives always to be imitated, nor approved of even. It is manifestly contrary to the teaching of Christ to make the note of sanctity in his church consist in the individual holiness of each and every member. He is no Puritan, though he is the all-holy God. A puristic religion is essentially narrow, self-conscious, and unsympathetic; it draws a line here on earth between the elect and the reprobate; its disciples eat not with sinners, nor enter into their abodes, nor hold out to them the pleading hands of large-hearted charity. Such a faith does not grow upon men; it does not win and convert them to God.

If, instead of comparing the crimes, we should consider the respective virtues of Catholic and Protestant nations, we should at once be struck by the difference in their standards of morality. The most practical way of determining the real standard of morality of any religion is to study the character of its saints. There we find religious ideals made tangible and fully discernible. Here at once we perceive that there is an essential difference between the Catholic and the Protestant standard of morality. The lives of our saints, even when understood by Protestants, generally repel them. They are, in their eyes, useless lives, idle lives, superstitious lives, unnatural and inhuman. We take the words of Christ, “If thou wouldst be perfect, go sell what thou hast, give it to the poor, and come and follow me,” in their full and complete literal meaning. The highest life is to leave father and mother, to have nor wife nor children, nor temporal goods except what barely suffices, and to cleave to Christ only with all one’s soul in poverty, chastity, and obedience. Now, this life of prayer in poverty, chastity, and obedience is an offence to Protestants. They do not believe in perfect chastity, they hold religious obedience to be a slavery, and poverty, in their eyes, is ridiculous. Inasmuch as the monks tilled the earth, transcribed books, and taught school, they receive a partial recognition from the Protestant world; but inasmuch as they were bound by religious vows they excite disgust. We should say, then, that the distinctive trait of Catholic morality is ascetic, while the Protestant is utilitarian. The one primarily regards the world that is to be, the [Pg 39] other that which already is. The one inclines us to look upon this as a worthless world to lose or win; the other is shrewd and calculating—this is the best we have any practical experience of; it is the part of wisdom to make the most of it. The one seems to be more certain of the future life, the other of the present. It is needless to prolong the contrast, and we shall simply confess that we have always been inclined to the opinion of those who hold that Protestantism, in its aims and direct tendencies, is more favorable to what is called material progress than Catholicism. In fact, one cannot realize the personal survival of the soul through eternity, and at the same time be supremely interested in stocks or the price of cotton.

Not that the church discourages efforts which have as their object the material interests of mankind; but, in her view, our duties to God are of the first importance, and to these all others are subordinate. What doth it profit? she is always asking, whereas Protestantism is busy trying to show us how very profitable and pleasant the Reformation has made this world—and virtuous, too, since honesty is the best policy and enlightened self-interest the standard of morals. It is the old story—God and the world, the supernatural and the natural, progress from above and progress from below.

But we feel that it is time we should give our readers proof that we have no desire to avoid direct issue with M. de Laveleye. We flatly deny, then, his assertion that the Catholic nations are more immoral than the Protestant; and when he further affirms that Catholic writers themselves—for his words can have no other meaning—admit this, he lies under a mistake for which there can be no possible excuse. In the statement of facts, however, which we propose now to give, we make no use whatever of the testimony of Catholics, but rely exclusively upon the authority of Protestants and of statistics; and that our readers may have the benefit of observations extending over considerable time as well as space, we will not confine ourselves to the most recent writers or statistics on the subject under discussion. Laing, a Scotch Presbyterian and a most conscientious and observant traveller, who wrote some thirty-five years ago, says of the French: “They are, I believe, a more honest people than the British.… It is a fine distinction of the French national character and social economy that practical morality is more generally taught through manners among and by the people themselves than in any country in Europe.”[4] Alison, the historian, writing about the same time, but referring to the early part of this century, says that the proportion of crime to the inhabitants was twelve times greater in Prussia than in France.[5] To this may be added the testimony of John Stuart Mill, in his Autobiography, published since his death, who passed a considerable portion of his life in France. Referring to his sojourn there when quite a young man, he says:

“Having so little experience of English life, and the few people I knew being mostly such as had public objects of a large and personally disinterested kind at heart, I was ignorant of the low moral tone of what in England is called society: the habit of, not indeed professing, but taking for granted in every mode of implication that conduct is of course always directed towards low and petty objects; the absence of high feelings, [Pg 40] which manifests itself by sneering depreciation of all demonstrations of them, and by general abstinence (except among a few of the stricter religionists) from professing any high principles of action at all, except in those preordained cases in which such profession is put on as part of the costume and formalities of the occasion. I could not then know or estimate the difference between this manner of existence and that of a people like the French, whose faults, if equally real, are at all events different; among whom sentiments which, by comparison at least, may be called elevated are the current coin of human intercourse, both in books and in private life, and, though often evaporating in profession, are yet kept alive in the nation at large by constant exercise and stimulated by sympathy, so as to form a living and active part of the existence of a great number of persons, and to be recognized and understood by all. Neither could I then appreciate the general culture of the understanding, which results from the habitual exercise of the feelings, and is thus carried down into the most uneducated classes of several countries on the Continent, in a degree not equalled in England among the so-called educated, except where an unusual tenderness of conscience leads to a habitual exercise of the intellect on questions of right and wrong.”[6]

This is strong testimony when we consider that it comes from an Englishman. In speaking of the elder Austin the same writer says: “He had a strong distaste for the general meanness of English life, the absence of enlarged thoughts and unselfish desires, the low objects on which the faculties of all classes of the English are intent.”[7] Mill’s opinion of the French is confirmed by Lecky, who writes: “No other nation has so habitual and vivid a sympathy for great struggles for freedom beyond its border. No other literature exhibits so expansive and œcumenical a genius, or expounds so skilfully or appreciates so generously foreign ideas. In no other land would a disinterested war for the support of a suffering nationality find so large an amount of support.”[8]

Much has been said and written of the licentiousness of the French, which may, in part at least, be due to the fact that they, more than any other people, have known how to make vice attractive by taking from it something of the repulsive coarseness which naturally belongs to it, but must also be ascribed to the feeling that they are Catholic, and therefore sensual. But let us examine the facts on this subject. We again bring Laing forward as a witness.

“Of all the virtues,” he says, “that which the domestic family education of both the sexes most obviously influences—that which marks more clearly than any other the moral condition of a society, the home state of moral and religious principles, the efficiency of those principles in it, and the amount of that moral restraint upon passions and impulses which it is the object of education and knowledge to attain—is undoubtedly female chastity. Will any traveller, will any Prussian, say that this index-virtue of the moral condition of a people is not lower in Prussia than in almost any part of Europe?”[9]

Acts which in other countries would affect the respectability and happiness of a whole family for generations are in Prussia looked upon as mere youthful indiscretions. But let us take the statistics of illegitimacy, which is a method of discussing the question made popular among Protestants by the Rev. Hobart Seymour in his Evenings with the Romanists.

The number of illegitimate births in France for every hundred was, in 1858, 7.8; in the same year in Protestant [Pg 41] Saxony it was 16; in Protestant Prussia, 9.3; in Würtemberg (Prot.), 16.1; in Iceland (Prot.) (1838-47), 14; in Denmark (1855), 11.5; Scotland (1871), 10.1; Hanover (1855), 9.9; Sweden (1855), 9.5; Norway (1855), 9.3.

Catholic France, then, judged by this test, stands higher than any Protestant country of which we have statistical reports, except England and Wales, where the percentage was, in 1859, 6.5; but England and Wales are below other Catholic countries, and notably far below Ireland. The rate of illegitimacy in the kingdom of Sardinia (1828-37) was 2.1; in Ireland (1865-66), 3.8; in Spain (1859), 5.6; in Tuscany, 6; in Catholic Prussia, 6.1.

In Scotland there are, in proportion to population, more than three times as many illegitimate births as in Ireland; and in England and Wales there are more than twice as many, and in Protestant Prussia the percentage is a third greater than in Catholic Prussia.[10]

If chastity, to use Laing’s expression, is the index-virtue, the question as to the comparative morality of Protestant and Catholic nations may be considered at an end. Lecky’s words on the Irish people have often been quoted, to his own regret we believe.

“Had the Irish peasants been less chaste,” he says, “they would have been more prosperous. Had that fearful famine which in the present century desolated the land fallen upon a people who thought more of accumulating subsistence than of avoiding sin, multitudes might now be living who perished by literal starvation on the dreary hills of Limerick or Skibbereen.”[11]

There is not in all Europe a more thoroughly Protestant country than Sweden. For three hundred years its people have been wholly withdrawn from Catholic influences. During all this time Protestantism, upheld by the state, undisturbed by dissent, with the education of the people in the hands of the clergy, and a population almost entirely rural, has had the fairest possible opportunity to show what it is capable of doing to elevate the moral character of a nation. What is the result? In 1838 Laing visited Sweden and made a careful study of the moral and social condition of the people; and he declares that they are at the very bottom of the scale of European morality. In 1836 one person out of every 112—women, infants, sick, all included—had been accused of crime, and one out of every 134 convicted and punished. In 1838 there were born in Stockholm 2,714 children, of whom 1,577 were legitimate and 1,137 illegitimate, leaving a balance of only 440 chaste mothers out of 2,714.

Drunkenness, too, was more common there than in any other country of Europe or of the world. Nearly 40,000,000 gallons of liquor were consumed in 1850 by a population of only 3,000,000, which gives thirteen gallons of intoxicating drink to every man, woman, and child in the kingdom.

If these things could be said of any Catholic nation, the whole Protestant world would stand aghast, nor need other proof of the absolutely diabolical nature of popery. Compare this agricultural and pastoral population with the Catholic Swiss mountaineers—who to this day claim to have descended from a Swedish stock, and whose climate is not greatly different from that of Sweden—and we find that the Catholic Swiss are as moral and sober [Pg 42] as the Protestant Swedes are corrupt and besotted. Or compare them with the Tyrolese, than whom there is no more Catholic and liberty-loving people on earth.

“Honesty may be regarded as a leading feature in the character of the Tyrolese,” says Alison.… “In no part of the world are the domestic or conjugal duties more strictly or faithfully observed, and in none do the parish priests exercise a stricter or more conscientious control over their flocks.… Perhaps the most remarkable feature in the character of the Tyrolese is their uniform piety—a feeling which is nowhere so universally diffused as among their sequestered valleys.… On Sunday the whole people flock to church in their neatest and gayest attire; and so great is the number who thus frequent these places of worship that it is not unfrequent to see the peasants kneeling on the turf in the church-yard where Mass is performed, from being unable to find a place within its walls. Regularly in the evening prayers are read in every family; and the traveller who passes through the villages at the hour of twilight often sees through their latticed windows the young and the old kneeling together round their humble fire, or is warned of his approach to human habitation by hearing their evening hymns stealing through the silence and solitude of the forest.… In one great virtue the peasants in this country (in common, it must be owned, with most Catholic states) are particularly worthy of imitation. The virtue of charity, which is too much overlooked in many Protestant kingdoms, is there practised to the greatest degree and by all classes of people.”[12]

With true Protestant condescension Alison adds: “Debased as their religion is by the absurdities and errors of the Catholic form of worship, and mixed up as it is with innumerable legends and visionary tales, it yet preserves enough of the pure spirit of its divine origin to influence in a great measure the conduct of their private lives.”

Among rural populations more than elsewhere the divine power of the Christian religion is made manifest. To the poor, the frugal, and the single-hearted those heavenly truths which have changed the world, but which were first listened to and received by fishermen and shepherds, appeal with a force and directness which the mere worldling and comfort-lover cannot even realize. In the presence of nature so silent and awful, yet so vocal, everything inclines the heart of man to hearken to the voice of God. Mountains and rivers; the long, withdrawing vales and deep-sounding cataracts; winter’s snows, and spring, over whose heaving bosom the unseen hand weaves the tapestry that mortal fingers never made; summer’s warm breath, and autumn, when the strong year first feels the chill of death, and “tears from the depth of some divine despair rise in the heart and gather to the eyes”—all speak of the higher world which they foreshadow and symbolize. But in the hurry and noise of the city, with its extremes of wealth and poverty, of indulgence and want, of pride and degradation, the pleading voice of religion is not heard at all, or is heard only as a call from the shore is heard by men who are madly hurrying down some rapid stream. It is evident, therefore, that the easiest and surest way of getting at the relative moral influence of the Catholic and Protestant religions is to study their action upon rural populations. We have already established on the best authority the incalculable moral elevation of the Catholic rural populations of Switzerland and the Tyrol over the Protestants of the same class in Sweden. Let us now turn to Great Britain.

Kay, after having given a table [Pg 43] of criminal statistics for England and Wales for the years 1841 and 1847, makes the following remarks upon the facts there presented:

“This table well deserves study. It shows that the proportional amount of crime to population calculated in two years, 1841 and 1847, was greater in both years in almost all the agricultural counties of England than it was in the manufacturing and mining districts.… With what terrible significance do these statistics plead the cause of the poor of our rural districts! Notwithstanding that a town life necessarily presents so many more opportunities for, and temptations to, vice than a rural life; notwithstanding that the associations of the latter are naturally so much purer and so much more moral than those of the former; notwithstanding the wonderfully crowded state of the great manufacturing cities of Lancashire; notwithstanding the constant influx of Irish, sailors, vagrants, beggars, and starving natives of agricultural districts of England and Wales; and notwithstanding the miserable state of most of the primary schools of those districts and the great ignorance of the majority of the inhabitants, still, in the face of all these and other equally significant facts, the criminality of the manufacturing districts of Lancashire is LESS in proportion to the population than that of most of the rural districts of England and Wales!”[13]

In Scotland illegitimacy is more common in the country than in the towns and cities. In 1870 the rate of illegitimacy for the whole country was 9.4 per cent., or 1 in every 10.6; whereas in the rural districts alone it was 10.5, or 1 in every 9.5. In 1871 it was for the whole country 10.1, or 1 in every 9.8, and in the rural districts 11.2, or 1 in every 8.9.[14] In England also the rate of illegitimacy is much larger in the rural districts than in the cities, whereas in Catholic France it is just the reverse. In the country districts of England we have the following rate:

York, North Riding,8.9

 In France:

Rural districts,

La Vendée,2.2
Brittany—Côte d’Or,1.2

Thus in the most Catholic rural districts of France there are only one or two illegitimate births in every hundred.

This is also true of Prussia, whose most strongly Catholic provinces are Westphalia and the Rhineland. In Westphalia there are only three and a half illegitimate births in every hundred, and in the Rhineland only three and a third; but in thoroughly Protestant Pomerania and Brandenburg there are ten and twelve illegitimate births in the hundred.[15] In Ireland, again, we find the same state of things. The rate of illegitimate births for all Ireland is 3.8 per cent.; but the lowest proportion is in Connaught, nineteen-twentieths of whose people are Catholics, and the greatest is in Ulster, half of whose population is Protestant. “The sum of the whole matter,” says the Scotsman (June, 1869), a leading organ of Presbyterian Scotland, “is that semi-Presbyterian and semi-Scotch Ulster is fully three times more immoral than wholly popish and wholly Irish Connaught—which corresponds with wonderful accuracy to the more general fact that Scotland as a whole is three times more immoral than Ireland as a whole.” There is no reason why further proof should be given of what is a [Pg 44] manifest truth: that rural populations—let us say, rather, the people—in proportion as they are Catholic, are also chaste; and consequently that the Catholic Church, as every man who is competent to judge must know, is the mother of purity, which is the soul of Christian life, and without which we cannot draw near to the heart of the Saviour and supreme Lover of men. Protestants, however, will be at no loss for arguments. Should the worst come to the worst, illegitimacy, like the gallows, may be declared an evidence of civilization, and then it needs must follow, as the night the day, that it is more common in Protestant than in Catholic countries.

Let us now turn to the vice of intemperance. “I am sure,” says Hill, “that I am within the truth when I state, as the result of minute and extensive inquiry, that, in four cases out of five, when an offence is committed intoxicating drink has been one of the causes.”[16]

In an attempt, then, to form an estimate of the relative morality of nations, we should not omit to consider the vice of drunkenness, which is the cause of half the crime and misery in the world. Were it in our power to obtain accurate statistics on this subject, as on that of illegitimacy, the superior sobriety of the Catholic nations would be shown even more strikingly than their superior chastity. The Spaniards, it is universally acknowledged, are the soberest people in Europe, as the Swedes are the most intemperate. Their respective geographical positions suggest at once what is often assigned as a sufficient explanation of this fact—the great difference of climate. It was long supposed that the southern nations were more sensual than the northern, because it was thought a warm climate must necessarily develop a greater violence of passion. We know now, however, that this is not the case. Though climate has an undoubted influence on morality, its action is yet so modified or controlled among Christian and civilized nations that generalizations founded upon its supposed effects are unreliable. The Swedes and the Scotch are intemperate, the Spaniards and the Italians are sober. The former are Protestant, the latter Catholic; it is therefore at once evident that religion has nothing to do with this matter, which can only be accounted for by the difference of climate. These are the tactics of our opponents: those virtues in which the Catholic nations excel must be attributed to natural causes; but when some of them are found to lack the enterprise and industrial spirit of the English or the Americans, it would be altogether unreasonable to ascribe this to anything else than their religion.

Scotch statistics show a greater amount of intemperance in summer than in winter, which would seem to indicate that a high temperature does not tend to destroy the passion for intoxicating drink. But we do not propose to enter into a discussion of causes, which, however, we are perfectly willing to take up at the proper time. Our controversy with M. de Laveleye turns upon facts.

We have already cited the testimony of Laing to show that the Swedes, after they had been under the exclusive influence of Protestantism for three hundred years, were the most drunken people in Europe. Laing was in Venice on [Pg 45] the occasion of a festival, when the whole population had turned out for pleasure, and he did not see a single case of intoxication; not a single instance, even among the boys, of rudeness; and yet all were singing, talking, and enjoying themselves. He gives the following account of a popular merry-making which he saw at Florence:

“It happened that the 9th of May was kept here as a great holiday by the lower class, as May-day with us, and they assembled in a kind of park about a mile from the city, where booths, tents, and carts, with wine and eatables for sale, were in crowds and clusters, as at our village wakes and race-courses. The multitude from town and country round could not be less than twenty thousand people, grouped in small parties, dancing, singing, talking, dining on the grass, and enjoying themselves. I did not see a single instance of inebriety, ill-temper, or unruly, boisterous conduct; yet the people were gay and joyous.”[17]

Robert Dale Owen, writing from Naples, said: “I have not seen a man even partially intoxicated since I have been in the city, of 420,000 inhabitants, and they say one may live here for four years without seeing one.”

Let us now turn to Protestant lands. St. Cuthbert’s parish, Edinburgh, had in 1861 a population somewhat exceeding 90,000 souls. Of these, 1,953 were “drunk and incapable,” 3,935 were “drunk and discharged”; making in all 5,888, or nearly 1 in 15.

In Salford jail (England), in 1870, the proportion of commitments for drunkenness was, as compared with commitments for all offences, 37 per cent.[18]

We have it upon the authority of the English government that in 1874 no fewer than 285,730 Britons were proceeded against for being drunk and disorderly, or drunk and not disorderly; and, of course, to this must be added the probably greater number who escaped arrest. Mr. Granville, one of the secretaries of the Church of England Society in the Diocese of Durham, estimates that there is an aggregate of 700,000 habitual drunkards in England. “It is a melancholy but undeniable fact,” says the Alliance News,” that, notwithstanding vast agencies of improvement, intemperance, crime, pauperism, insanity, and brutality are more rampant than ever; and, if we except pauperism, these evils have more than doubled in the last forty years.” We have not been able to get the statistics of drunkenness for Ireland, and can therefore institute no comparison between England and that country with regard to intemperance;[19] but we have before us the criminal statistics of both countries for 1854, the population of England and Wales in that year being about three times as great as that of Ireland. The following table of convictions will enable us to form an estimate of the comparative honesty of the two nations:

Robbery by persons armed, England and Wales, 210
Robbery by persons armed, Ireland, 2
Larceny from the person, England and Wales, 1,570
Larceny from the person, Ireland, 389
Larceny by servants,[20] England and Wales, 2,140
Larceny by servants, Ireland, 44[Pg 46]
Larceny, simple, England and Wales, 12,562
Larceny, simple, Ireland, 3,329
Frauds and attempts to defraud, England and Wales, 676
Frauds and attempts to defraud, Ireland, 62
Forgery, England and Wales, 149
Forgery, Ireland, 4
Uttering and having in possession counterfeit coin, England and Wales, 674
Uttering and having in possession counterfeit coin, Ireland, 4

On the other hand, the following crimes are proportionately more numerous in Ireland:

Convictions for manslaughter in 1854:

England and Wales,96
Burglary, England and Wales,384
 “ Ireland,240

We cannot think, however, that these returns are reliable, for the Statistical Journal of 1867 gives the following criminal tables for England in 1865:

Wilful murder cases tried,60
Concealment of birth,143

And in Ireland from 1865 to 1871, a period of six years, only 21 persons were sentenced to death, of whom 13 were executed.

It is greatly to be regretted that criminal statistics give us no information upon the religious character of the persons accused or convicted of offences against the law. Many persons have been baptized in infancy, and are called Catholics, though they have never been brought under the influence of the church. In the absence of official statistics, Dr. Descuret, who, in his capacity of legal physician in Paris, had abundant opportunity to obtain data relative to this subject, made, about thirty years ago, a careful study of the religious views and sentiments of French criminals. The conclusion which he reached was that, in every hundred persons accused of crime, fifty are indifferentists in religion, forty are infidels, and the remaining ten sincere believers. In a hundred suicides he found only four persons of known piety, three of whom were women subject to melancholia, and the other had been for some time mentally deranged.[21]

[3] The Table-Talk of Martin Luther, pp. 200, 206, 213, et passim.

[4] Notes of a Traveller, pp. 79, 80.

[5] History of Europe, vol. iii. chap. xxvii. 10, 11.

[6] Autobiography, pp. 58, 59.

[7] Ibid. p. 177.

[8] History of European Morals, p. 160.

[9] Notes of a Traveller, p. 172.

[10] For the full discussion of the statistics of this subject see The Catholic World, vol. ix. pp. 52 and 845.

[11] European Morals, p. 153.

[12] Alison’s Miscellaneous Essays, p. 119.

[13] Kay’s Social Condition of the People, vol. ii. p. 392.

[14] See London Statistical Journal, 1870, 1871.

[15] Historische Politische Blätter, 1867.

[16] Crime: its Amount, Causes, and Remedies. By Frederick Hill, Barrister-at-law, late Inspector of Prisons. London, p. 65.

[17] Notes of a Traveller pp. 418-19.

[18] See London Statistical Journal, 1871.

[19] In 1871, 14,501,983 gallons of spirits were distilled in Scotland. What proportion of this was consumed at home we do not know. For the same year the number of gallons entered for home consumption in Ireland was 5,212,746. The population of Scotland is nearly three millions and a half, and that of Ireland about five millions and a half.

[20] England and Wales, with not quite three times the population of Ireland, had fifty times as many cases of dishonesty among servants, which clearly accounts for those newspaper advertisements in which English housekeepers are careful to state that “no Irish need apply.”

[21] La Médecine des Passions, p. 116.

[Pg 47]


Urdeutsch (which we have translated Primeval Germans) is a historical novel, the scene of which is laid in the Black Forest towards the second half of the fourth century. The author, Conrad von Bolanden,[22] says in his preface that he intends it to be the first of a series of three illustrating the action of Christianity on the German people: the state in which it found them, that to which it brought them, and that to which he says they are likely to be reduced by modern infidelity. The story—which is mainly put together from facts of the biography of St. Martin, Bishop of Tours, and from descriptions of ancient German life drawn from Roman and German historians—is interesting as the record of a time utterly gone by, and of a state of barbarism incident to the childhood of nations. Very nearly the same characteristics appear in the earliest chapters of the history of all uncivilized tribes, and a special likeness can be traced between the Teutons of the ninth century and the American Indians of the sixteenth and seventeenth. Sprung from widely different races, and experiencing the effects of Christianity in a very different manner, there is yet a striking likeness in some of the manners and customs, the industries, the opinions, and the few moral axioms of both peoples with which Christian missionaries have made us familiar.

The plot of the story is slight, and has the advantage of not being confused and complicated, as is the case in many modern novels. St. Martin, yet a deacon, is travelling to Strassburg with his servant Eustace (one of the best characters in the book), and stumbles upon a sleeping barbarian, whom he awakens from a bad nightmare by the strains of his harp or lyre. He then asks of the gigantic German what is his errand, and the Buffalo (such names were common among the Teutons) tells him that he is on his return from the famous grove of Helygenforst, where he had been sent by Bissula, the only daughter of the last king of the Suevi, to consult an oracle on the issue of a blood-feud between the two noble families of the Walen and the Billing. She and her youngest brother Hermanric are the only representatives left of the former family, her father and her eleven brothers having all fallen victims to the enmity of the Billing. St. Martin remonstrates with the German (a freedman of the Suevi), and tells him that the true God abhors blood-feuds, and, availing himself of the German belief in one Supreme God, the All-Father, whose reign is to be made manifest after the end of the world and the destruction of the gods Odin, Thor, Freya, Loki, etc., tells Buffalo that he is the messenger of the All-Father, and will save the last of the Walen from their danger and dilemma. The German, by his word and his hand (as was also the custom later in the vowing of feudal homage), constitutes himself the Muntwaldo, or protector, of [Pg 48] the deacon, and they set off to the land of the Suevi. Eustace, formerly a soldier under Martin when the latter was a centurion, strongly objects to this arrangement, and grimly reiterates his certainty that nothing will ever transform the hopelessly barbaric Germans. On their way the party are attacked by four Chatti, a tribe opposed to the Suevi, and Martin forbids Buffalo to fight in his behalf, saying that he will willingly go with the strangers, but in six days will not fail to visit the Suevi. Buffalo goes on his way, and the two Romans are taken to the village of Duke Fraomar, the leader of the Chatti.

Here follows an interesting description of the dress and domestic arrangements of the early German tribes. The duke is not an hereditary chieftain, but a leader chosen by the tribe for his valor and strength, who has collected round himself a personal following or guard, a sort of freebooter’s company—the original, perhaps, of the roving bands of “Free Companions” who played such a conspicuous part in the wars of the middle ages. The dress of the freemen of the tribe consisted mostly of skins and furs, with the head of the animal, whether buffalo, stag, wolf, or bear, drawn like a hood over the head, and the front paws tied under the chin or crossed on the breast. The women wore long, rather tight-fitting garments of coarse linen, with short sleeves and bands of gaudy colors sewed round the hem; the feet were bare. Both men and women wore long hair; it was a sign of free or noble birth, and was plentifully greased with butter, as were also, on some occasions, the bodies of the warriors. The children and the slaves were for the most part naked or only provided with leathern aprons. The house had but one apartment, which served all purposes: the fire was in the middle, while to one side were bundles of straw and skins, the primitive beds, and to the other a slightly-raised platform, the primitive table and chairs. The men sat or lay on this and ate off their shields, or sometimes off wooden platters. The women served them at meals and filled the drinking-horns with beer and mead. Besides these horns, human skulls—those of enemies slain in battle—were used as goblets, and these, together with the skulls of sacred horses and the horns of stags, adorned the walls of the dwelling. There was also generally a wooden chest, clumsily fashioned, containing the clothes of the family. The women, children, and slaves ate round the hearth after their lords, and while these were gambling with dice. The passion of gambling seems to have been an inveterate one, and a man would often stake his all, including wife, children, and slaves—sometimes even himself. If he lost, he was reduced to the condition of a slave. The walls of the house were black and glistening with the smoke of the mighty and continuous fires, and there is no mention of even a hole in the roof as an outlet. St. Martin and his servant are introduced into this wild interior just after the Duke Fraomar has been winning house, lands, slaves, cattle, and even his wife, from a freeman of the “hundred.” The strangers are made welcome and become the guests of the duke, which implies that henceforth their persons are sacred, as nothing was more shameful in the eyes of the Germans than to break their word or infringe the rights of hospitality. Eustace, however, looks ruefully on the evidences [Pg 49] of good-will tendered him in the shape of a kind of oat-broth, seasoned with the primitive German preparation of salt, which (Pliny is responsible for the statement) consisted of charcoal made of oak or hazel, impregnated when hot with the water of salt springs; the black morsels giving the same odor to the broth with which they were mixed.

Duke Fraomar, who has a promise from Odin’s oracle to help him in a foray against the neighboring Suevi, provided he does not attack them before the “ninth full moon,” is rather uneasy at having these strangers, who are under the protection of his enemies, brought to him, in case anything untoward should happen to them, and the Suevi fall upon him to avenge them, before the charmed time. The next day one of the freemen takes the saint and his servant round the settlement; and the author here introduces an account of the old German division of property in a “hundred,” or community of one hundred freemen, each possessing the same quantity of ground, and each obliged to render military service to the head of the tribe. The agricultural economy was by no means contemptible. Ploughed land and land overgrown with bushes alternated in lots, and each was cultivated during six years, then allowed to lie fallow six more. Manuring was unknown, chiefly because the animal manure was used as a safe and warm covering to the earth caves where the grain was stored in winter, and where not seldom the owner and his family also took refuge from the cold. Each freeman had his stables, his slave-huts, and his brewery, the latter being generally a cave in a rock furnished with one or two mighty caldrons. At the end of this inspection of the “hundred” (such a division exists still in England, though far enough in spirit from the ideal of the free Teutons) the strangers come upon a terrible scene of cruelty and superstition.

The “journey to Walhalla” was the poetical title given to the immolation of aged and wealthy persons of both sexes, who, instead of being allowed to die a natural death, were, according to the ancient custom, first killed and then burned with their possessions, with an accompaniment of religious ceremonies. A pile of wood was raised, and the victims, stupefied with beer, laid thereon, with one or two slaves who were to wait upon them in the halls of Odin; for the Germans believed that no one who died a natural death went to Walhalla, but endured torments and shame in hell. Men and women, therefore, willingly allowed themselves to be killed, and often committed suicide as another means of reaching Walhalla. On this occasion two old men and a woman were to be immolated. A ludicrous dispute occurs here between one of the men and his son, who grudges him two slaves as his servants in Odin’s hall, whereupon the father announces his determination to live rather than go to the other world with so paltry a following. This settles the question, and the son gives up the second slave. A great deal of drinking and a sacred chant by the priest of Odin precede the butchery, and the victims are each killed by one blow of “Thor’s hammer,” wielded by a freeman deputed to this office by the heathen priest. The worst part follows. Just as the pile has been set on fire an infant is thrown on, the child of the woman whom the duke won the [Pg 50] night before at dice. The indifference of the mother at the order for this barbarous execution seems to us rather overdrawn. Human nature is human nature the world over; and if there is one feeling more obstinately ineradicable than any other, it is the feeling of a mother for her child—or, say, in the very lowest possible scale of civilization, of a female for her young. Even though infanticide is common among most heathen nations, and was certainly not unknown among the early Germans, it is rather an exaggeration on the part of the author to represent the mother herself in this case as utterly and absolutely indifferent to the child’s fate. While their guide is busy drinking among the spectators of this scene, Martin and Eustace penetrate the sacred grove, round which is drawn a cord, which no German would have passed with unbound hands. Unknowing of this custom, the strangers enter the wood and gaze on the human skulls and skeletons, the bloody skins and the sacred horse-skulls, hung on the branches of the trees. The priest soon discovers their presence in the holy grove, and threatens to kill them on the spot, but is restrained by the duke’s messenger, their guide. He afterwards goes to the duke and demands that the law shall be carried out, which, for such a sacrilege, decrees that the profaner of the holy grove should lose his right hand and his left foot. Fraomar, thinking of his plan for attacking the Suevi at the ninth moon, and not before, hesitates to consent to the priest’s demand and seeks to protect his guests.

Meanwhile, the story goes on to follow Buffalo to the house of the Walen princess Bissula, who, though a heathen, has been in Gaul and had some intercourse with the Romans and a German Christian sovereign family called the Tribboki. Her dress and dwelling are described as much embellished by Roman arts and many degrees removed from the ancient German simplicity. But, though outwardly less a German, she is at heart an uncompromising adherent of the old customs of her fathers, particularly of the blood-feud. She lives for the sole purpose of avenging the death of her father and brothers; and, indeed, her stern determination is the only circumstance of the book which can be called a “plot.” Withimer, the son of the king of the Tribboki, is her lover and her suitor, and comes to her house to offer himself as her husband. He is a Christian and hopes to convert her also, but the terrible blood-feud stands between them. She loves him as passionately as he loves her, but refuses to marry him unless he will swear to take upon himself the duty of revenge against her enemies, the Billing. This, as a Christian, he cannot do, and hence ensues a hard struggle between his love and his conscience, in which the “baptized heathen,” as the author calls him, very nearly breaks down and forswears the faith. Bissula, on her side, is still more determined, and once even attempts suicide by throwing herself in the way of a wild beast while out hunting, saying, as she does so, that she can more easily give up her life than her love, but that her honor is yet dearer to her than her love. Various devices are resorted to by Katuwald, the young chief of the Billing, the hostile family, to end the blood-feud by marrying Bissula, with whom he is in love; and the author now introduces the “Thing,” or assembly of the people, the primeval parliament. This took place [Pg 51] in a circle surrounded by trees, on which the freemen hung their shields and helmets. A rock, sacred as a kind of tribunal, stood in the centre, and round this stone benches were ranged, on which sat the representatives of the several hundreds. The oracle which Buffalo had been sent to consult had returned the answer, “Let the Thing judge the cause,” the priest who represented the deity having been bribed by the Billing prince to send this answer. Bissula, with her lover, appears at the assembly; but before their coming a lesser court of justice is held for the adjustment of local claims, which gives us an opportunity of reviewing some curious customs of the ancient Germans.

For instance, the value of human life in the case of a slave is shown in two “cases” which come up for arbitration. A slave—but the son of a free father, and a freeman himself by birth—secretly marries a freewoman, and, on her father’s discovering the connection, the choice is given her of killing her husband with her own hand or of being herself degraded to slavery. A sword and a distaff were offered her; if she chose the former, she was free, but was forced to plunge it in the man’s breast; if the latter, she became a slave. There were two other possible means of settling the question: the father had the right to kill her, and the owner of the slave might give him his freedom. In the case in point this last was the happy solution of the problem. Another difficulty arose in the case of damages claimed by a freeman whose neighbor’s tame stag, trained for hunting purposes, had broken into his fields, killed a dozen head of cattle and two slaves, in return for which he himself had shot the stag. The latter was declared by law to be of a greater value than the two slaves, and a fixed rate of compensation was adjudged, which completely satisfied both parties. From a heathen point of view, considering that both men and stags were “chattels,” it cannot be wondered at that the latter were thought most valuable; for the market was over-stocked with slaves, who might be had any day during a foray, while “domestic” stags were very hard to train, and required to be taught some years before they could be of any use to their owners.

When Bissula makes her appearance, the gathering of the people resolves itself into a “Thing,” and she and her enemies, the five sons of the noble Billing Brenno, take their place by the rock. Hermanric’s absence causes some wonder and annoyance, but Marcomir, the umpire, nevertheless begins the session. Katuwald boldly proposes to end the feud by marrying Bissula, who openly and contemptuously refuses his suit, whereupon a great tumult arises and Hermanric rides into the circle, a bloody head dangling at his saddle-bow. He recounts his exploit—how he, though not yet invested with a man’s weapons (as the rule was to entrust neither sword nor spear to a youth under nineteen), forced the aged Brenno, who had stayed at home, to fight him in single combat, the Billing armed with sword and shield, and himself only with a club. The trembling slave who follows him corroborates his story, and Katuwald, already sore from Bissula’s proud refusal of his love, looks upon the youth with a significant and angry eye, and at last leaves the council, having publicly asked to be told the law of compensation for [Pg 52] carrying off another man’s wife or betrothed. Affairs stand thus with the Suevi, while the story returns to Martin in the hands of the Chatti.

An assembly of the freemen of this tribe is held to discuss the question raised by the priest, as to Martin’s punishment for invading the sacred grove. This takes place the same day that Buffalo goes in quest of his friend, and he arrives in time to be present at the gathering. Duke Fraomar is anxious to save the strangers—not for their own sakes, but for fear of precipitating the attack on the Suevi before the propitious time appointed by the oracle. At last Martin proposes an ordeal such as, since the days of Elijah, has often been resorted to to decide rival claims to truth. A few chosen representatives are to accompany him and the priest to the shrine of the heathen gods in the forest, and the Christian and the priest are both to call upon their gods to show themselves. Here follows a description of the shrine—a building of wood beneath a gigantic oak-tree. Within are kept “Thor’s hammer” and “Tyr’s sword,” and the car of the goddess Hertha, the Cybele of Teutonic mythology, or simply the Earth-mother. Into this car she was at times supposed to descend, when a yoke of cows was harnessed to it, and it was covered with a white cloth, and thus drawn solemnly through the “hundred.” After these processions, the car and cloth were washed by slaves in a pond, into which the latter were afterwards thrown and drowned. The statue or figure of the goddess was erected in a huge crack of the sacred tree, and her grim, enormous head, with staring eyes and yawning mouth, black with clotted blood, crowned a clumsily-carved block, without either arms or legs.[23] Horse-skulls and white horse-skins (the priest was also clad in such skins), human skulls and skeletons, dogs’ heads and skins of wild beasts, hung from the branches of the sacred tree, which might have sheltered a regiment. Near the sacred car stood a stone altar encrusted with blood. The priest carefully placed the Christian stranger within easy reach of his arm, and distributed the others, the duke, the Sueve Buffalo, and the wise men of the hundred, where they could not see his movements. After his prayer, he was preparing to swing the hammer so as to reach the saint’s head, when Buffalo, suspecting foul play, stole quietly forward and called to Martin to shift his position. Martin simply bade his companions, who, like himself, had their hands securely bound, rise up and lift their hands free from the cords. The fastenings fell off and the heathens stood in awe, waiting for his words. This, says the author, is word for word from St. Martin’s biographer, Sulpicius Severus. Then came a crashing noise, and the lightning fell on the priest, killing him instantly, while the mighty tree was rent in pieces and fell to the earth, carrying in its fall the idol, temple, altar, and car, which disappeared under its burning branches. With awe and terror Fraomar and the Chatti besought the stranger, as a terrible magician, to leave them and not work them any more mischief. The saint sorrowfully complies, grieving that the true God had not yet conquered their hearts, though his might had been shown in such a way, and goes his way with Buffalo to the Suevian settlement. Here [Pg 53] he takes up his abode in a cave, in front of which is a spring called Odin’s Spring, and in which the Germans bathe their new-born children and give them names. Meanwhile, Withimer, the Christian, struggles with his love, and Bissula, the proud, beautiful heathen princess, still refuses to marry him unless he will undertake the duty of avenging her murdered father and brothers. St. Martin reasons with both, and at last prevails with the former to give up his love for the sake of his conscience; but having painted the evils of ingratitude to God and of eternal damnation in vain, he at last conquers the youth by reminding him that, as a German, it would be an indelible disgrace to him to forswear himself by breaking his baptismal vows. Bissula mourns his sudden departure, which she attributes to a messenger having recalled him during her absence, and turns her attention to preserving her last remaining brother from the hatred of the Billing. This she does by resorting to the charms of the Abruna woman Velleda, a priestess said to be hundreds of years old, and to possess marvellous powers, as Circe of old, to change men into stones, trees, and animals. She is, however, not a witch, but the enemy of witches; and here follows a terrible account of the cruelties and absurdities to which the belief in witches led in those times, and, indeed, in all times. Châteaubriand’s[24] beautiful Gallic Velleda is a very different character from this hideous old hag of the Black Forest. Though not a witch, she has, in Bolanden’s book, all the conventional “properties” of one in the shape of a talking raven and two snakes entwined round her neck and arms. She promises Katuwald to give Bissula a love-drink, to turn her heart from Withimer to himself; and by a charm, consisting of a piece of skin inscribed with mystic characters, she promises to Hermanric invulnerability against “sword and spear.”

St. Martin, in the meanwhile, has managed to gather an audience of children, whom he instructs in the truths of Christianity and teaches to behave according to Christian morality, not forgetting also to induce them to clothe and wash themselves regularly every day. Some of the parents also join his catechumens, but the greater part still look upon him as an impious contemner of the gods and a powerful magician The priest of this “hundred” once tries to entrap him at the head of a crowd of infuriated Germans, but the saint mildly and logically drives him into contradictions which are evident even to his unlearned hearers. On this occasion the two accounts of the creation, the Biblical and the Teutonic, are set side by side. The defeated priest retires, but only to plot further mischief; and the scene changes to a German wedding, which forms a very interesting chapter. Girls of an age and willing to be married usually wore several little bells in their girdle, and it was allowed to any freeman to carry them off, provided he afterwards loyally paid the stipulated price—two fat oxen, a caparisoned horse, two slaves, a sword, a spear, and a shield—to the bride’s father. The bridegroom’s dress was that usually worn by freemen on state occasions, and of course the full complement of weapons was indispensable. Falk, the bridegroom, is represented as wearing a magnificent bear-skin, with the head drawn over his own as a hood. The bride, besides [Pg 54] her linen tunic or undergarment; wore also a cloak of Roman manufacture and of gaudy colors. The whole kindred of the bridegroom accompanied him with horns, pipes, and a kind of cymbals to his father-in-law’s house, and the oxen, etc., were led by the slaves. The father performed the ceremony, and Falk swore by “sword and spear” to hold his wife in all honor and truth. The father put a ring on the bride’s finger and bade her remember that, although her husband would be allowed by ancient custom to take other wives if he pleased, she herself would nevertheless be bound to the most unswerving fidelity; and, giving her two yoked oxen as a wedding present, told her that as these two drew one car, so husband and wife were bound to share and carry together the burdens of life.[25] The shrill music of the horns and clashing together of weapons accompanied the approving hurrahs of the two families, and Falk now led his wife home. From the door of his house hung a naked sword—the “marriage sword”—a warning of the doom that follows the least infidelity; and on going in the bridegroom led the bride three times round the hearth, saying: “Here shalt thou stay and watch as housemistress in chastity, prudence, and industry.” A free-woman of the husband’s kindred then brought a bowl of water and washed the bride’s feet, after which the bride’s father dipped a linden-branch in the same water and sprinkled the bed, the domestic utensils, and the relations of the bridegroom. A wooden platter full of honey was then handed to him, and, as he anointed the bride’s mouth with honey, he said these words: “Let thy mouth always speak sweet words to thy husband, but no bitter ones.” After this ceremony the bride’s head was wrapped in a cloth, and she was led to the closed door of the dwelling, and in succession to those of the stables, the grain-store, and the slave-huts, each of which she struck with her right foot, while the women showered handfuls of wheat, oats, barley, and beans on her head, during which rite the father said to her: “As long as thou governest thy house with industry, so long shalt thou not lack the fruits of the earth.” Falk now took the cloth off his wife’s head and kissed her, and all the family followed with their congratulations.

The expected presence of Bissula at the banquet had led to a departure from the ordinary German usage, and a table had been prepared for such as would sit at it during the bridal feast. The king’s daughter, when she came, brought a much-valued present, one which German housewives of the present day rate as highly as their gigantic ancestresses of the days of old—a store of home-spun linen. After the banquet, a wild dance was performed in honor of the young couple. Tacitus gives an account of it: The young men assembled in a crooked double line, half of them holding naked swords and the other half spears, held forward, crossing each other. Four or five youths, entirely naked, now began a skilful dance, threading their way with incredible quickness between the shining weapons. The Scotch sword-dance is thought sufficiently clever nowadays, but what is it compared to the real danger, and the opportunity of showing dexterity as well as courage, which this ancient German custom offered? This game was accompanied by the shrill blast of horns [Pg 55] and pipes and the hoarse shouting of the excited spectators. Another drinking bout followed this exploit, when, as the day began to fade, the priestess Velleda made her appearance. And now a natural phenomenon was added to the strange scene—a partial eclipse of the moon, which the Germans explained as the struggle between the moon and the giant wolf Managarm, a half-divine creature, who feeds on the bodies of the dead and now and then hunts and pursues the heavenly bodies. As the shadow grew less and the moon’s light broke forth again, the guests clamored and clashed their arms together, crying out, “The moon wins! the moon wins!” as if encouraging human combatants. During this confusion Katuwald, the Billing chief, emboldened by the love-potion which Velleda has given Bissula to drink, attempts to carry her off; but the maiden, strong as the women of giant growth of old Germany ever were, wrestles with him and overcomes him, bearing him in her arms into the midst of the assembled guests. Most of the authorities quoted by Bolanden go to confirm the facts of the extraordinary strength of the women of that time, their stature of six and often seven feet, and of the custom prevalent among the Germans of teaching young girls to wrestle and throw the spear like the men.

The next scene of primitive life in the Black Forest is the doom of the adulteress, a wretched, guilty woman being driven naked through the “hundred,” pursued by all the free-women, each armed with long whips and small knives. This was the common punishment decreed for such offences. A human sacrifice to the gods of Walhalla is also portrayed in vivid colors: the Chatti immolate a slave and two oxen as a propitiatory offering before their foray against the Suevi; and one more example of German manners and customs is afforded by the funeral of Hermanric, Bissula’s brother, whom the Billing Katuwald has slain with an arrow. This is gorgeously described: the car, drawn by six horses, contained the corpse and was adorned with endless plate, jewels, rare stuffs, and articles of Roman workmanship of great value; the horses’ heads were wreathed in oak and ash garlands; three fully caparisoned horses and eight gorgeously-arrayed slaves, the special servants and companions of the deceased, followed the car and were destined to be struck dead and burned with their master. Marcomir, the umpire, pronounced a funeral oration, and the priest’s deputy had lifted the sacred hammer to kill the first slave, when a strange whirlwind began to shake the forest around the funeral pile. Trees were uprooted, the wind tore and howled through the branches, thunder and lightning added their terrors, and the Suevi stood rooted to the ground in awe and amazement. St. Martin is seen in the distance advancing towards them at a miraculously quick pace, and as he comes nearer the storm-cloud is just seen passing away, while the sun breaks forth again. The cry of “The sorcerer!” is raised, but Buffalo cries out, “He is no sorcerer, but a holy man,” and, breathless, they all watch the saint.

Here the author again draws on Sulpicius Severus for a signal miracle—nothing short of a raising from the dead. St. Martin commands the dead Hermanric to arise and live; the youth starts up and clings to the saint’s mantle, while the bystanders are dumb with fear and awe. [Pg 56] He comes forth, and, mounting one of his horses, seats his deliverer on another and rides away with him, bidding his sister believe in the almighty and only God of the Christians, and telling his slaves that as they were to have followed him into Walhalla, so he expects them the next day at the saint’s abode, to follow him in the new way of life he has at last discovered. The end is easy to see: Bissula becomes a Christian, renounces her hatred against the Billing, and receives baptism with hundreds of her relations and slaves, to all the latter of whom she and her brother give their freedom and certain necessary possessions—in fact, almost portioning out their estate between them. Bissula then marries Withimer, and they spend their lives in trying to spread the light of the Gospel among their fellow-countrymen, while Hermanric follows St. Martin and becomes a monk in one of the first Frankish monasteries.

Among the most natural characters in the book are Eustace and Buffalo, who delight the reader with their various shrewd sayings and their dog-like fidelity to St. Martin. One or two curious facts have an incidental place in the story; for instance, the derivation of the modern German word for grandson—Enkel—vouched for by Simrock, and which is a survival of the old custom of reckoning the two nearest degrees of relationship by the two joints of the leg; the knee signifying the son, and the ankle the grandson.

A very good point is also made in Withimer’s spiritual probation, his penance in the cave with St. Martin, and his meekly submitting, after a terrible struggle with his own pride and passions, to receive a scourging from the saint, and to cut off his golden, flowing hair, the outward badge of his sovereignty. His victory over himself and his true humility are very beautiful. In the baptism scene it is interesting to be reminded of the old formula of the questions addressed to the catechumens, of which the following are specimens:

Forsachis [renouncest] tu diabolæ? … End ec [and I] for sacho allum diaboles workum [works] en wordum [words] Thunaer ende woten ende [and] allein them unholdum [unclean] the ira genotes [companions] sint.… Gelobis tu [believest thou] in got alamehtigan [Almighty] Fadaer [Father]?”

We meant to have spoken more at length of the mythology of the Teutonic races, but have no space for the subject. The authorities Bolanden has followed are Tacitus, Grimm, and Arnkiel. Concerning history, manners, and customs he quotes Julius Cæsar, Tacitus, Procopius, Strabo, Pliny, Schmidt, Simrock, Wirth, Heber, Cantù, Ozanam, and Arnkiel. For the traditions of St. Martin’s life Sulpicius Severus, his deacon, friend, and biographer, is the authority. We should like to give an example of the poetry of the ancient Germans; but as the Nibelungenlied is accessible to every scholar and widely known even to the ordinary reading public, no specimen of inferior war-hymns would be worth drawing attention to. We will conclude by a beautiful description of the simplicity and humble appearance of a holy bishop of the fourth century, Justinus of Strassburg, and who, as well as St. Martin, had a high opinion of the grand “raw material,” ready to the hand of Christian workers, in the brave, truthful, loyal, hospitable, even if cruel and uncivilized, Germans of the “forest primeval.”

[Pg 57] Bolanden says: “The simplicity of the bishop reminded one of the apostolic age. He bore no outward sign of his high rank, and his only garments were two tunics of white wool, one long with long sleeves, and another, sleeveless and short, over it, while over all hung a cloak of Roman make. His feet were shod with sandals. His black beard hung low over his breast, while a ring of whitening hair encircled his bald head. His features were thin, as if with fasting and mortification, his glance calm, and his demeanor humble; while his hands, used to toil, were extraordinarily strong, for he followed the example of St. Paul, who refused to be a burden upon any one.… For precisely the most pious and holy of the bishops of the Frankish country gave themselves to manual labor, to give a good example to the Franks, who shrank from work as from a shameful occupation,… and this, too, by no means to the prejudice of the vineyard of the Lord. On the contrary, those self-denying men, indifferent to life, seeking no earthly honors or distinctions, thinking only of the service of God, were the pillars of the church and the most fruitful signs of her progress. Neither did they acknowledge the golden fetters of kings, which hinder the working of Christ’s messengers. They were free in their sacred ministry, and God’s protection accompanied them in their hallowed work.”

Bolanden’s book has, of course, an arrière-pensée, which is so evident through the story that it rather spoils the mere literary value of the book, as “a purpose” more or less cramps any literary production. But, as a clever contemporary says, “In the hot theological controversies of the present day it is hard to treat any subject, even remotely connected with ecclesiastical history, without betraying a ‘tendency.’” Bolanden is outspoken enough as to his, which has for object the present Prussian laws against religious freedom. But we think we may safely say that the first book of the series will be the most original and interesting, illustrating as it does a period so little known and not yet become, like the middle ages, the hackneyed theme of every novelist, from first to fifth rate, of every civilized and literary European nationality.

[22] Conrad von Bolanden, a brief sketch of whose life has already appeared in these pages, requires no introduction to the readers of The Catholic World, who will know him best as the author of The Progressionists, Angela, The Trowel or the Cross, etc.

[23] This reminds one of the Aztec war-god Quatzacoatl.

[24] Les Martyrs, Châteaubriand.

[25] Tacitus, Germania.

[Pg 58]


The priest, “another Christ” is he,
And plights the church his marriage-vows;
Thenceforth in every soul to see
A daughter, sister, spouse.
Then let him wear the triple cord
Of father’s, brother’s, husband’s care;
In this partaking with his Lord
What angels cannot share.
O sweet new love! O strong new wine!
O taste of Pentecostal fire!
Inebriate me, draught divine,
With Calvary’s desire!
“I thirst!” He cried. The dregs were drained:
But still “I thirst!” his dying cry.
While one ungarnered soul remained,
The cup too soon was dry.
And shall not I be crucified?
What though the fiends, when all is done,
Make darkness round me, and deride
That not a soul is won?
God reaps from very loss a gain,
And darkness here is light above.
Nor ever did and died in vain
Who did and died for love.


[26] St. Bernard.

[Pg 59]


There was a time, not far distant, when men thought they had found in the United States of America the sovereignty of labor. It was the boast of its people that there were no American paupers. The working classes looked with something like contempt upon the condition of their fellow-laborers in Europe. Here was the land where every man’s independence rested in his own hands and his willingness to labor. No day should come when an honest day’s work would not earn, not bread alone, but a home—an American home. This was the time when the followers of Boone were disclosing to wondering eyes the virgin richness of the Ohio and Mississippi valleys; when, later, adventurous spirits led the way over the Rocky Mountains to a new western empire; when, close succeeding, California opened its Aladdin’s caves, not to the lash of kings or tyrants over toiling slaves, but to the picks and pans of free labor. Yes, here at last was found what the poets and philosophers of Greece and Rome had only dreamed of—the ideal commonwealth, a golden age. Thus had a free republic, established in the richest and grandest territory the sun shone on, conquered at last the problem of ages, and labor stood the peer of capital—nay, aspired to be its master. It was claimed not only that a particular form of government had achieved those economic results, but that it was capable of maintaining them indefinitely. Politics bade defiance to political economy.

Is this state of things true of to-day? In part, yes, it may be answered. Looking at the comparative independence and comfort of the great masses of the working classes of this country, noting that intelligent zeal for personal liberty which pervades them, much reason for congratulation still remains. But the pressure of those social conditions affecting labor in other countries is beginning to be seriously felt. The reserve forces of capital are coming up. The “salad days” of the nation are over. It has grown to manhood, and, growing thus, has met the harsh experiences inseparable from national as from individual life. It begins to feel the burdens of maturity, and to be harassed by its anxieties. Labor has met war, its wild fever, its deadly collapse; labor has met debt, the second and costlier price of war, sucking out the life-blood after the wounds of battle have been stanched; and, lastly, labor has met capital, which, like one of those genii described in the Arabian tales, rises portentous to its full strength and stature out of the smoke of war and the shadow of debt. These two forces, labor and capital—which, to borrow an image from the ancient myths, Ἀνάγκη or Necessitas seems to have linked together in iron bonds—mutually hostile [Pg 60] yet inseparable co-laborers in the work of human progress, are preparing to try their strength in the New World as they have done in the Old. The first murmurs of that contest which it was deemed republican institutions could for ever avert are plainly heard. Daily observation shows that the laws governing the accumulation of wealth elsewhere—increase stimulating increase in a geometrical ratio—are not suspended here. “The rich are growing richer, the poor poorer.” Any of the great daily newspapers need only to be looked at from week to week and month to month to find the growing record of strikes, the agitation of labor, the increase of pauperism. The glory of the country, its greatest source of prosperity, has had in it an element of weakness. That rich and wide domain, which invited immigration, postponed, but has not been able eventually to stay, the aggregation of surplus labor—especially on the two seaboards—which everywhere becomes the bond-slave of capital, and fights its battles against free labor. In a word, politics, the barriers of merely political pronunciamientos, have yielded in the United States, as elsewhere, to those primal laws of supply and demand which govern the wages of labor. We are assimilating to the economic conditions of Europe. A revolution has taken place during the course of the last quarter of a century in the industrial features of this country. The flux and reflux both of labor and capital between America and Europe are instant and inevitable. Henceforward the contest between them will be fought out on the old conditions, little or not at all affected by political or—what is the same thing—sentimental considerations.

Here, then, is a problem for the statesmen of this age widely differing from that which engaged the attention of the fathers of the Constitution, yet like it in this: that the successful solution of each aims at the amelioration of the condition of mankind. One was political; the other is, and will be, social, and may be regarded as a sequel to, and complement of, the first.

Must we sink into the old ruts along which labor has slowly and painfully dragged its burdens for ages in Europe? Is there no help for this Sisyphus? Must the stone roll down the hill again, after having mounted so near the top? Or is it possible that the light which the founders of this republic set up as a beacon for the political regeneration of mankind one hundred years ago may be rekindled in the same land in a succeeding age to lead the way to the regeneration of labor? It is a task for the highest, the most Christian, the most Catholic statesmanship. The church, faithful to its great rôle of emancipator or manumitter, which it took up, in advance of the age, in the darkest eclipse of the declension of the Roman Empire, and has never since abandoned, will be found again in the van of this movement. Labor and capital, which, left to themselves, would rend each other, may find in its arbitrament a truce—peace—harmonious working.

Is the hope that this republic shall be the first to utter to Europe and the world some grand maxims in social economy, as one hundred years ago it did in politics, chimerical? By its realization we shall be able to avert from this country the atheistic commune which is threatening to ravage Europe, or to meet it and defeat it should it come.

Wise action must be the result [Pg 61] of good information. Such a work, therefore, as this of Dr. Young’s on Labor in Europe and America is a valuable auxiliary to those who like to know what they have to deal with before moving in any matter. It is a bulky volume of over eight hundred pages octavo of closely-printed matter; but it is not so appalling as it looks, the number of countries surveyed and the diversity of the conditions of labor presented making it interesting even to the general reader. Dr. Young’s position as chief of the United States Bureau of Statistics has given him exceptional advantages and facilities for obtaining information in the preparation of such a work, and it is fair to say that he appears to have availed himself of them with great industry and ability. It is, in fact, the work of a specialist who is devoted to his subject, and is therefore primâ facie worthy of attentive consideration. Nor does it fail in great part to make good its pretensions. Yet it has all the faults of the current works of the infant science of statistics. It jams everything into columns of tabular statements, and seeks to draw infallible averages and wide-sweeping deductions from them which cannot be always sustained on closer scrutiny. Observation is everywhere too limited, the conditions of society and of individual existence and labor too minutely diversified and shifting, to be toted up like a sum in addition by a calculating machine. Were we to listen to the statisticians, however, we would displace the Pope and put them in his chair. They would feel quite at ease there, and the infallibility they shake their heads at in Pio Nono would fit them to a charm. Like the jailer in Monte Christo, they would blot out all individuality and number every one and everything 1, 2, 3. But man is too stubbornly self-willed ever to be made the term of an equation.

How different, how inferior, such a work as this, for instance, of Dr. Young’s—comprehensive and well digested as it truly is—to any one of his great namesake’s in the last century, Arthur Young, who, more justly than M. Adolphe Quetelet, deserves the title of the “father of modern statistics.” One is like the Turkey carpet that Macaulay speaks of in his criticism on Montgomery, which contains indeed all the colors that are to be found in a masterpiece of painting, but is fit only for its own uses; the other is a picture instinct with life. The old method of personal, detailed, and necessarily limited observation, while it excelled in picturesqueness, gave at the same time solid, accurate, special information which the hasty generalizations of the present day too often miss. The latter confuse the mind by their immense array of figures.

Again, Dr. Young has given, we think, a disproportionate share of attention to Europe, Asia, and even Africa—occupying in all over seven hundred pages with his account of labor in those countries, while he handles the subject in the United States and Canada in just one hundred pages. His explanation is that his work is intended chiefly for circulation in the United States, but this explanation is unsatisfactory. His long introductory history of labor from the remotest times, compiled, as it plainly is, from the works of European scholars within everybody’s reach, and his view, chiefly at second hand, from the reports of American consuls, of the state of labor in Europe, are manifestly inferior, both in interest and authority, to the copious original works of the [Pg 62] statisticians of particular foreign countries; while his history of American labor and presentation of its existing conditions, which ought to have given its real value to his work, are extremely meagre and superficial. His own tour through the manufacturing centres of England and the Continent appears from his statements to have been of too flying a nature to yield any very authoritative results. But we wish it to be distinctly understood that while the plan of Dr. Young’s work, and, in some respects, its execution, appear to us defective, we are by no means disposed to undervalue the great utility of what he has accomplished in thus presenting to the American reader in compact form a survey of the history of labor down to our own times. It is only from a study of the subject in its widest aspects that an intelligent comprehension of the factors of the problems before us in America can be arrived at.

Dr. Young begins by a review of the origin of slavery and gradual development of wage labor, following its thread through the rise and decline of the ancient empires of Egypt, Greece, and Rome. The conquest and carrying off of alien races for the uses of manual labor, while their conquerors followed the profession of arms, was the most fruitful source of slavery in ancient times. This species of slavery is still found in Africa. It was long ago extinguished in Europe. It was crippled in America by the suppression of the slave trade, and has finally disappeared in the United States by the emancipation of the negro race. On the other hand, we have never had in this country the predial slavery which is bound to the soil and digs the ground it originally sprang from, of which the last great example is vanishing from Russia under the benignant edicts of Alexander II. But there is no doubt that that form would have developed itself in the United States from negro slavery if the distinction of color could have been annihilated. It was already tending in that direction when the war intervened.

We must pass over Dr. Young’s account of labor under the feudal system, but we cannot help noting the prejudice he seems to share with the vulgar against the monks. To read his pages, one would necessarily be led to infer that the clergy were among the worst oppressors of the poor; that they ground their unhappy serfs, and were the allies of the nobles and military commanders in keeping down the working classes. That all this farrago of calumny is directly the reverse of the truth is now so universally admitted by students of those ages that it is needless to enter into the question, nor would our space permit us to do so. It will suffice to quote Hallam, who, while opposed to the principles upon which monasteries are founded, calls those of the middle ages “green spots in the wilderness where the feeble and the persecuted could find refuge.”[28] And again, speaking of the devastation of immense tracts by war, he says: “We owe the agricultural restoration of the great part of Europe to the monks.”[29] It is singular that such testimony is omitted by Dr. Young. It would be still more singular if it had escaped his observation. His admissions are as ridiculous as his omissions. In a foot-note of a single line, which is lost in the midst of two chapters on the subject, he says: “It is admitted that the abbots [Pg 63] were most indulgent landlords.” This is as if a writer on the woollen manufacture of the present day should devote a hundred pages to the knitting-needles of the old women in our country towns, and inform his readers in a one-line footnote: “Steam machinery was also used in this age in the manufacture of woollens.” The monastery was as distinctively the economic feature of the civilization of the middle ages as the steam-engine is of our times. Each played the same part in its development. It is just as easy to be blind to one as to the other.

Passing over the period included between Elizabeth and George III., and the early days of what Dr. Young aptly terms the “era of machinery,” we come down to the consideration of the organization and prices of labor, the rates of wages and cost of subsistence, and the habits of the working classes in England at the present day. These are fruitful themes, and are treated of in detail. We will endeavor to present a few items of comparison, from the statistics given in connection with them, with those afforded later in the case of the United States.

What we have said about the change that has taken place in the conditions of labor in the United States is shown by Dr. Young’s account of the trades-unions of the United Kingdom. Instead of, as formerly, maintaining their position on a totally different and higher plane than European workmen, American mechanics now take the law, in many cases, from English organizations. For instance, the “Amalgamated Society of Engineers,” a union including machinists, millwrights, smiths, and pattern-makers, and numbering at the close of 1874 about 45,000 members, had 30 branches in the United States at the end of 1873, with an aggregate membership of 1,405. These branches were spread over every manufacturing city of the first or second class in the Union. Five branches were established in Canada. Some idea of the power of such a society, apart from its mere roll of membership, may be gathered from its annual statements of the account of its accumulated fund. Its balance on hand at the close of 1873 amounted to £200,923 1s.d. Its expenditure during the same year amounted to £67,199 17s., 5½d., including such items as telegrams, banking expenses, delegations, grants to other trades, parliamentary committees, gas-stokers defence fund—disclosing, in fact, all the incidents of a powerful and active organization.

The “Amalgamated Society of Carpenters and Joiners” has 265 branches, 14 of which are in the United States. The membership, however, appears to be small in this country, numbering only 445 men. The governmental organization of societies of this class is very elaborate and centralizing in character. Monthly reports are received from all the branches, including those in the United States. For instance, the monthly reports of the Amalgamated Carpenters’ Society for January, 1875, from the United States, represent the state of trade as “bad,” “dull,” or “slack,” with the exception of San Francisco, where it is reported “good,” and Newark as “improving.” Although no data are here given, it is not to be doubted that this system of reports will be, or has already been, extended to such organizations as the “Miners’ National Association,” numbering 140,000, and the National [Pg 64] Agricultural Laborers’ Union, numbering 60,000, thus seriously affecting the immigration not only of skilled but of agricultural labor. In fact, we are already aware that personal reports have been made by Joseph Arch and others, some of them not favorable. The formidable character of the trades-unions of Great Britain is seen by the mere statement of their aggregate membership, which Dr. Young estimates, with all deductions, at 800,000 in January, 1875.

The question of strikes in England is too large a one to be entered into here. Dr. Young gives a brief history of the great Preston strike of 1836, of the Nottingham, the Staffordshire Colliery, the Pottery, and the Yorkshire strikes, all of which proved unsuccessful after terrible suffering on the part of the workmen and great loss on both sides had been endured. A short account is also given of the unsuccessful “Amalgamated Engineers’” strike of 1851-52, and the protracted engineers’ strike on the Tyne, 1871-72, for the nine hours’ system, which resulted in a compromise. Experience has demonstrated of strikes, 1st, that they are usually unsuccessful; 2d, that they lessen the employer’s ability to maintain even the wages paid before the strike, by giving an advantage to his competitor in other countries which he cannot always recover; 3d, that where they are fought out to the end they cause suffering and develop disease in the weak, and in women and children, which no wages can pay for or cure; 4th, that they deteriorate the character of the men engaged in them by promoting a feeling of lawlessness and desire for stimulation even among the best disposed; 5th, that, even if successful, there is a greater dead loss in money spent than is recouped by the advance gained in wages. These conclusions are now beginning to be so well understood in England—where, from more perfect organization, strikes are larger and cost more to both parties than in the United States—that the chairman of the Trades-Union Congress of the United Kingdom, held at Liverpool in January, 1875, in his opening address referred to strikes as a mode of settling differences with employers which ought to be avoided by all practicable means, and resorted to only in the most extreme cases—an opinion afterwards embodied in a resolution which was adopted by the Congress. The principle of arbitration has already been tried successfully in several important instances.

Dr. Young illustrates the rates of wages in the United Kingdom by tables. He accompanies the tables with the explanation that “in a very large number of occupations the hands are paid by the piece or by weight, and the actual rate of wages would not indicate the sum an operative would take home with him at the end of the week as the price of his labor. The sums stated in all these tables are therefore the average sums earned per week, whether the labor be paid by the day or the piece.” The same explanation holds good for the United States. Of these tabular statements our space will only permit us to give two or three, to which we shall subjoin the rates of wages in the United States in the same occupations by way of comparison. The British pound sterling is computed at $4 84, and the shilling at 24 cents.


The reduction in the hours of labor and the increase in the rates of wages in English cotton-mills are shown in the following table:

[Pg 65] Statement showing the average weekly earnings of operatives in cotton-mills during the years 1839, 1849, 1859, and 1873.

1839. 1849. 1859. 1873.
Steam-engine tenders, $5 76 $5 72 $7 20 $7 68
Warehousemen, 4 32 4 80 5 28 6 24
 Stretchers, Women and girls, 1 68 1 80 1 92 2 88
 Strippers, Young men, 2 64 2 88 3 36 4 56
 Overlookers, 6 00 6 72 6 72 7 68
 Winders on self-acting mules, 3 84 4 32 4 80 6 00
 Piecers, Women and young men, 1 94 2 16 2 40 3 84
 Overlookers, 4 80 5 28 6 24 7 20
 Throttle-rulers, Women, 2 16 2 28 2 28 3 00
 Warpers, 5 28 5 28 5 52 6 24
 Sizers, 5 52 5 52 6 00 7 20
 Doublers, Women, 1 68 1 80 2 16 3 00
 Overlookers, 5 76 6 00 6 72 7 68

“Other branches show the same ratio of advance.”

The following statement was furnished to Dr. Young by the proprietors of the cotton-mills of Messrs. Shaw, Jardin & Co., of Manchester, operating 250,000 spindles, and producing yarns from No. 60 to 220, sewing cottons, lace yarn, crape yarn, and two-fold warp yarns:

Average wages (per week of 59 hours) of persons employed in 1872.

 Overseer,$10 89
 Second hand,7 26
 Drawing-frame tenders,2 66
 Speeder-tenders,3 14
 Grinders,5 32
 Strippers,5 32
 Overseer,14 52
 Mule-spinners,$13 31 to 15 73
 Mule-backside piecers,2 42 to  3 87
Repair-shop, engine-room, etc.:
 Foreman or overseer,14 52
 Wood and iron workers,7 74
 Engineer,9 68
 Laborers,5 32

These tables will be found on pp. 330-31. Now let us compare the wages there given with those paid to the same class of operatives in the United States. On pages 750-51, Dr. Young gives a table showing the average weekly wages paid in American cotton-mills in various States in 1869 and 1874. We select Rhode Island, for the reason that the rate of wages there appears to be a good average, being lower than is paid in Massachusetts and higher than in New York.

Wages in cotton-mills (weekly average).

1869. 1874.
 Overseer,$17 00$17 00
 Picker-tenders,7 807 72
 Railway-tenders,3 50[B]4 47
 Drawing-frame tenders,5 00[C]5 40
 Speeder-tenders,6 12[C]7 48
 Picker-boy,6 25[A]4 03
 Grinders,9 089 10
 Strippers,7 267 50
 Overseer,15 6017 69
 Mule-spinners,9 5010 16
 Mule-backside piecers,2 85[A]2 52
 Frame-spinners,5 00[B]3 70
 Overseer,13 7514 80
 Second hand,9 0011 83
 Spoolers,5 00[C]4 32
 Warpers,5 75[C]6 98
 Drawers and twisters,5 00
 Dressers,11 2513 11
 Overseer,18 3318 00
 Weavers,8 00[C]7 91
 Drawing-in hands,7 50[C]7 25
Repair-shop, engine-room, etc.:
 Foreman,18 0015 79
 Wood-workers,15 0013 58
 Iron-workers,13 1613 68
 Engineer,18 0013 71
 Laborers,9 338 59
 Overseer in cloth-room,15 0012 42

[A] Boys.

[B] Females.

[C] Part females.

[Pg 66] It will appear, therefore, from an examination of the tables that the average weekly wages in Rhode Island cotton-mills (which fairly represent those of the rest of the country) are in most cases from a third to nearly double those paid in Manchester. But it will also be observed that, whereas English wages appear to have increased steadily in every grade, the American rates show a decided tendency downwards. The highest skilled American labor holds its own with difficulty, but in the lower grades cheaper labor has been extensively employed since 1869. Dr. Young’s explanation must also be borne in mind in reading these tables—viz., that the labor is frequently piece-work. In some instances the English operatives also employ their own helpers.

But do these figures really represent the present rate of wages? Doubtless the average given is a fair one. But any one whose attention was directed to the strike at the Lonsdale Mills, R. I., January, 1875, must have noticed that wages are in reality much lower than here given. Into the merits of that controversy we do not enter—we wish merely to arrive at the figures. The company would appear to have done everything they could for the comfort and improvement of the condition of their hands, and the reduction complained of probably could not be avoided in the then depressed state of the market. The special correspondent of the New York Herald of that date gives the statement of the superintendent, who said that the weavers before the reduction were receiving fifty cents per cut (wide goods), and with the reduction of 10 per cent. the price paid would be forty-five cents per cut; or, in other words, they would earn about $1 a day. Taking the statements of the operatives, it was claimed that many of the men were making only ninety-six cents a day before the strike, and the women sixty-five cents. Those figures, therefore, in the case of one of the largest companies, represent labor as already reduced below English rates. This strike also afforded an illustration of the statement, made in the beginning of this article, of the instant ebb and flow of labor, as well as capital, which now characterizes industry in the United States. The operatives were about half English and half Irish (the overseers alone being American), and the first movement of those who had enough money to do so was to return to England or Ireland.

Notwithstanding the readiness of operatives to strike the moment the opportunity offers—a readiness perfectly well known and appreciated by their employers—and notwithstanding also, it may be said, the determination of employers to regulate wages by the laws of trade, it is nevertheless one of the most noble and encouraging features of the industrial pursuits of this age that the employers in many instances—and those generally the chief—show that they intend that their minds shall not be diverted from the purpose of improving the condition of their workmen, both mentally and materially. It is well that the mild voice of Christian charity should still be able to make itself heard in the midst of this whir of iron machinery.

In the condition of no kind of labor does the United States compare more favorably with England and the Continent of Europe than in agriculture. Here the respective wages paid hardly admit of comparison. But it is not to be lost [Pg 67] sight of that, wretched as the condition of the English agricultural laborer may appear to us, his way of viewing things is not ours. The rough, arduous, irregular, exposed labor of the Western backwoodsman, or even farmer, appears to him more terrible than the dull, stated servitude, with its beer in the present and its work-house in the future, that shock our free thought. The report of the delegates of the Agricultural Union was decidedly unfavorable in the case of Canada, where the conditions of labor do not essentially vary from those of the Northwestern States. This question of agricultural labor is, however, too vast a one to be treated of here. Dr. Young’s reports are very valuable, but take, perhaps, the American view of the question too much for granted.[30]


This branch of his subject is copiously treated by Dr. Young in connection with his tour through the chief manufacturing cities of the United Kingdom in 1872. From the numerous tables presented we select one under the head of “Skilled trades in London, weekly wages in 1871” (page 242) as being the most comprehensive.

The average daily wages of persons employed in the same trades in the United States in 1874 was from $2 25 for shoemakers to $3 33 for bricklayers or masons (pp. 745-747); or, in other words, from 50 per cent. to 100 per cent. more than in England.

Statement showing the established rates of wages obtained by members of the various trades societies of the metropolis, in summer and winter, compiled under the supervision of Alsager Hay Hill, LL.B.

Sum’r Winter
Bakers, $3 87 $5 08
Basket-makers, 3 63 4 84
Boat-builders, 8 47 7 26
Bookbinders, 702 7 26 7 26
Brass-cock finishers, 8 47 8 47
Brass-finishers, 8 47 8 47
Bricklayers, 2,386 16[D] 16[D]
Brush-makers, 400 [E] [E]
Cabinet-makers, 500 7 26 7 26
Cabinet-makers, deal, 450 7 99 7 99
Carpenters, 4,740 9 14 9 14
Carvers and gilders, 50 4 84 4 84
Coach-builders, 25 9 68 9 68
Coach-makers, 320 9 68 9 68
Coach-smiths, 200 4 84 12 58
Coach-trimmers and makers, 6 05 6 05
Compositors, 3,550 4 84 8 47
Cork-cutters, 100 7 26 7 26
Cordwainers, 3,678 [F] [F]
Curriers, 1,900 8 47 8 47
Engineers, 33,539 16[D] 16[D]
18[D] 16[D]
Farriers, 220 9 68 12 10
French polishers, 30 7 26 7 26
Hammermen, 80 5 81 5 81
Iron-founders and moulders, 7,372 9 20 9 20
Letterpress printers, 7 26 7 26
Painters, house, 14[D] 14[D]
Pianoforte makers, 400 16[D] 16[D]
Plasterers, 14[D] 14[D]
Plumbers, 18[D] 18[D]
Pressmen, printers, 60 7 26 7 26
Skinners, 225 7 26 7 26
Steam-engine makers, 100 16[D] 16[D]
18[D] 18[D]
Stone-masons, 17,193 9 14 7 82

[D] Per hour.

[E] Piece-work.

[F] Uncertain.


But we cannot stop at the mere figures in dollars and cents. In this connection we must consider what those wages will buy in each country—what is their purchasing power:

“If a workman in Birmingham” says Dr. Young, “receive for fifty-four hours’ labor 30s., or about $8 33 in United States currency, and another, of the same occupation, in Philadelphia earn $12 50, it would be inaccurate to say that the earnings of the latter were 50 per cent. more than those of the former. The question is not what is the United States equivalent of the thirty British shillings, but what is the purchasing power of the wages of the [Pg 68] one workman in England and of the other in the United States? In other words, how much food, clothing, and shelter will the earnings of the one purchase as compared with the other?”

For the solution of this question Dr. Young enters into an elaborate analysis of the price of provisions, clothing, house-rent, etc., in each country. In this we are unable to follow him. But taking the amount paid for board by single men and women employed in mechanical labor in the great cities of both countries, the average price paid by men in Great Britain ranges from $2 50 to $3 50 per week; in the United States, from $4 50 to $5 50. For women, in manufacturing cities in England, from $1 50 to $2 50 per week; in the United States, from $2 50 to $3 50. In the great American manufacturing centre, Philadelphia, the average price of mechanics’ board is, for men, $5 per week; for women, $3. But this does not mean a single room for each; in most cases two, in some three, four, and even five, sleep in the same chamber. British workmen probably eat as much meat as American workmen, but they have not the same variety of dishes. House-rent is cheaper in most English cities even than in Philadelphia, where great and commendable efforts have always been made to provide good and cheap houses for working-men. Clothing Dr. Young estimates at less than half the price in England for the laboring classes compared with the United States; partly from cheaper rates, and partly from the inferior kind British workmen consent to wear—fustian or corduroy being the most common material.

We would wish to follow Dr. Young, if it were possible, into a comparison of the rates of wages and cost of living in the great iron and steel works on the Tyne, at Essen, Prussia, and in Philadelphia, but our space is already exceeded. The highest wages earned at the works of Fried. Krupp, Essen, which Dr. Young personally visited in 1872, were $1 80 for 11 hours’ piece-work. At the same establishment dinner (meat and vegetables and coffee) and lodging are supplied to unmarried men at $1 18 per week. Bread is an extra charge. Large bakeries are attached to the works.

In the comparison of the general rates of wages and cost of living in Great Britain and the United States, so many and so great diversities exist in both countries that it is a hazardous matter to draw general conclusions. Stated broadly, it would appear that the rate of wages in Great Britain since 1865 has shown a steady tendency to advance, with some fluctuations, while the cost of living is nearly stationary; in the United States, within the same period of ten years, wages have remained stationary or shown a tendency to decline, allowing for the fluctuations caused by a depreciated currency, while the cost of living has increased. The commercial depression existing since 1873 has affected labor in both countries, but more sensibly in the United States. The great falling off in immigration since 1873 is a remarkable and sensitive test of the depreciation of the labor market in the United States and the simultaneous rise of wages in Europe. From the recent report of the New York Emigration Commissioners it appears that there were landed at Castle Garden during 1875 84,560 immigrants, against 140,041 for 1874 and 294,581 for 1873. The falling off has been equally divided among [Pg 69] all nationalities. Nor does this tell the whole story; for the steamship companies show a very large return of laborers to Europe during the past year. It is not intended to convey the impression by these figures that European emigration has finally stayed its course towards these shores, but it is evident that it has received a serious temporary check. It is not the purpose of this paper to investigate what the remedy for this state of things may be. But it may be stated as the conviction of the writer that a mere return to specie payments, though beneficial, will not do all for the country that its advocates claim. Something more will be required—that is, economy, curtailment of expenses, national and individual—before we can reach bottom. Like youth sometimes, we have temporarily outgrown our strength. We have no vast deposits of wealth, the hoardings of centuries, to fall back upon like some European countries. We have always lived right up to our income, and have not yet adjusted ourselves to our sudden plunge into national debt. Hope has all along buoyed us up to over-production and consequent over-expenditure. The supply of labor must equalize itself to the necessary, not speculative, work to be done before it can be established on a sound basis. Fresh enterprises, promoting renewed inflation and over-production, will lead to another collapse. In the effort to recuperate, and before a new start can be made on a safe road of prosperity (which it is not doubted will be opened again), those who are already poor will suffer the most, as always has been and will be the case. The American working classes will have eventually to abandon most of those habits of personal expense which now seem to them a matter of course, but which European working-men would regard as extravagant, and to approach nearer to the old-country standard of living.

We are not able to follow Dr. Young in his researches into the rate of wages and cost of subsistence in the various countries of continental Europe which he visited. None of them approach so near the American standard as Great Britain. In most of them labor is poorly paid and the working classes live meanly according to our notions, yet contrive, withal, to enjoy a degree of comfort, and even happiness, which to us seems hard to understand under the circumstances.

[27] Labor in Europe and America: A Special Report on the Rates of Wages, the Cost of Subsistence, and the Condition of the Working Classes in Great Britain, France, Belgium, Germany, the other Countries of Europe, and in the United States and British America. By Edward Young, Ph.D., Chief of the United States Bureau of Statistics. 1875.

[28] Hallam’s Middle Ages, ch. ix. part i.

[29] Id. ch. ix. part ii.

[30] $1 a day for laborers was offered by public advertisement in February of this year, by the superintendent of the Centennial grounds, and men were glad to take it. How strange the spectacle in free America—how fruitless and disheartening the struggle it portends—when legislation is invoked at Albany, in the great State of New York, to keep up a fictitious price of labor!

[Pg 70]





There was a castle in Yorkshire whose tall, majestic towers commanded a view of the country for miles around, rising far above the sombre depths of the ancient forest-trees that covered the hills on which the castle was seated.

A silence like the grave reigned within and around this princely habitation. Merry young pages no longer bounded over balustrades and the walks winding from the drawbridge. The Gothic arches no more re-echoed with the noisy clamor of the hounds nor the loud cheering of the young hunters. Rank weeds covered the lofty ramparts and clusters of wild flowers swung between their solitary battlements, as though nature had struggled to conceal the eternal mourning which they seemed for ever condemned to wear.

A traveller approached the castle and examined with great attention the arches bearing the arms of the earls of Northumberland. He held by the bridle a beautiful horse, covered with sweat and dust, whose drooping head and trembling limbs attested his extreme fatigue.

“This is certainly the place!” he exclaimed, still looking around him. “I recognize the crouching lion of Northumberland!” He knocked loudly and waited a long time.

At length the door opened and an old man appeared before him. “What do you want?” he demanded brusquely of the traveller. “If you ask hospitality, you will not be refused; but if you ask to see my master, the Earl of Northumberland, you cannot see him.”

“It is he whom I wish to see,” replied the stranger.

The old domestic contracted his white eyebrows. “That cannot be. Since the death of his father he sees nobody.”

“The old Count of Northumberland dead!” replied Sir Walsh (for it was he).

“Alas! yes, for an entire year. We buried him at Alnwick,” answered the old servant, wiping away a tear.

“Go to your master,” replied Sir Walsh,” and tell him that some one asks to see him on the part of the king. I will wait for you here.”

“On the part of the king!” replied the old servant. “On the part of the king! That will make a difference, I think, and I do not want you to stay here. Follow me.”

After fastening the horse to one of the iron rings which were fixed in the wall of the inner court, he led Sir Walsh into the castle. They crossed long courts, then entered magnificent galleries, where they saw arranged, between the Gothic arches which separated the vast and deeply-embrasured windows, the richest armorial trophies of all ages. [Pg 71] Lances, longbows, and javelins filled up the interstices. Shields and bucklers, borne in battle by the ancestors of the noble earl, were eating away with rust, and the festoons of spider-webs which hung from the huge antlers of stag and deer bore witness to the neglect and indifference of the master of the castle.

Sir Walsh, as he passed along, regarded all these things with an admiration mingled with astonishment. He could not understand the state of abandonment in which he found a habitation that he had always heard described as being one of the most magnificent in all England. The delicately-sculptured wainscoting, the costly paintings, the rich gilding of the rafters and ceilings, were renowned among artists and considered as models which they labored to imitate.

“How singular all this is!” he said to himself. “How can Lord Percy, whom I have known at court, so brilliant and accomplished, content himself in a place like this, magnificent without doubt, but abandoned, desolate, especially since the death of his father? And why has he not returned to court, where his tastes and habits naturally call him?”

While absorbed in these reflections Sir Walsh, preceded by his aged conductor, entered a large octagonal saloon, gilded all over and pierced with crosslets on every side, through which poured floods of brilliantly-colored light, reflected from the stained glass with which they were ornamented.

The view extended very far, and a large river, like a broad belt of silver, wound through the beautiful fields, interspersed with clumps of trees that increased still more the beauty of the landscape.

Walsh paused, enraptured with the prospect that met his gaze, and his conductor made a sign to him to remain there until he had informed his master of his arrival.

The old domestic noiselessly entered Lord Percy’s chamber, and paused near the door in order to observe him; then an expression of profound sadness stole over his features and he advanced still more slowly.

Seated in the embrasure of a large window, and always dressed in the deepest mourning, Lord Percy scarcely ever left his room. Surrounded by a great number of books and papers, he appeared to be absorbed in reading, and the messenger was quite near before he was aware of his presence.

“My lord!” he said in a very low and gentle voice, “there is a stranger here who wishes to speak to you.”

“You know very well that I receive nobody, Henry,” said the Earl of Northumberland without turning his head. “Have you asked him his business?”

“Most assuredly,” replied Henry with a lofty and important air. “I know it, too. He comes here on the part of the king—of the king himself,” he repeated.

“On the part of the king!” cried Northumberland, turning pale. “Of the king! What does he want with me? Have I not done enough for him? Is he not satisfied with having destroyed all my hopes, all my happiness, all my future? Of what consequence to him now is my existence?”

And, overwhelmed with the weight of his afflictions, he folded his arms on his breast and forgot to give his servant an answer.

“My dear son,” murmured the old man softly, after a moment of silent attention, “are you going now [Pg 72] to torment yourself again, and may be, after all, without any cause?” For he dreaded beyond expression anything that might arouse or excite what he termed his master’s “manias.”

“No, my old foster-father, do not be alarmed!” replied Northumberland, who knew very well what was passing in his mind. “Go, and bring in this stranger.”

He then arose, in a state of agitation he was unable to control.

Henry soon returned, bringing Sir Walsh.

On entering, the latter was prepared to give Northumberland a joyful surprise and fold him in his arms; but on being suddenly ushered into his presence he recoiled in astonishment. Could this be the gay and brilliant young man he had known, always cheerful, always affable, whose handsome face and charming manner attracted all around him? Dressed in the deepest mourning, which by contrast increased the pallor of his face, his expression anxious and haggard, a painful constraint was observable in all his movements.

“You do not recognize me, Lord Percy,” said Sir Walsh at last. “There was a time when you called me your friend, and I was proud to bear the title!”

“Oh! no, my dear Walsh,” replied Northumberland, “I could not have forgotten you. Rather say you no longer recognize me; for time has passed like a dream. Since you saw me last I have been transformed into another person. But tell me, why does the name of him who sends you come to invade my solitude? What have I done to him to bring him here again to disturb my ashes? For am I not already dead? Does this castle not strike you as being strangely like a tomb, to which no one any more finds entrance?”

“But I think,” said Sir Walsh, astonished at this outburst and forcing a smile, “that some young girl, descended from her palace of clouds to the midst of your abode, draws around her crowds of your astonished vassals. They admire her snowy robes and crown of stars.”

“No,” replied Northumberland gloomily; “no, never! No female inhabits this place. She who ought to have ruled here will never come, and she who did rule would not remain!”

“What do you mean by that riddle?” inquired Walsh. “What! is the Countess of Northumberland no longer here?”

“No, she is no longer here,” replied Lord Percy. And he passed his hand over his eyes, unable to conceal the emotion all these questions excited; for, in spite of himself, the sight of an old friend had agitated him to the depths of his soul. Man was not made for solitude; he is a social being; he has need of his fellow-men to love them, or even to complain of and to them; and for many long, weary months no human being had knocked at his door or come to offer a word of consolation.

Walsh regarded him with increasing solicitude; at length, unable to restrain his feelings, he threw his arms around his neck.

“My dear Percy,” he exclaimed, “what has happened to you? You seem overwhelmed with sorrow. I felt so happy in anticipation of surprising you by this visit, and again seeing you at the head of all the young nobles of the north, loved as you were among us, the life of the chase and of all those sports in which you excelled! Alas! my [Pg 73] friend, what misfortune has befallen you? Tell me; for I swear I will never more leave you.”

“What misfortune has befallen me, do you ask, my dear old friend?” replied Northumberland, deeply moved. “Yes, you are ignorant of all. And what does it matter? It was irreparable. But tell me the cause that brought you to me. Why has the king sent you hither?”

“For nothing that need give you the least uneasiness,” replied Walsh—“a commission readily executed, and in which you must assist me. We will return to this later. Tell me first of yourself—of yourself alone, my friend—and of your father.”

“My father? He died in my arms more than a year ago without suffering. I have done what he wished,” continued Northumberland, his eyes filling with tears. “I have nothing with which to reproach myself on that account. I have obeyed him. Yes,” he added, fixing his eyes on the floor, “that is the only thought that ever comes to console me.”

“I do not understand you!” replied Walsh. “Speak more explicitly; explain what you mean.”

“Well, know, then,” replied Northumberland in an altered voice, and making a violent effort to control himself—“know that for a long time I loved Anne Boleyn—yes, Anne Boleyn! We were betrothed. The day, the hour, for our marriage were fixed, when the king tore her from me for ever! In his jealous hatred he commanded Cardinal Wolsey, to whose household I belonged, to summon me before him, and forbid me in his name dreaming, for an instant, of marrying her; but on my refusing to obey he appealed to my father, who ordered me to marry immediately a daughter of the Earl of Shrewsbury, under penalty of visiting upon me all the weight of his indignation if I hesitated for one moment. In vain I tried to resist; my father was furious and threatened me with his curse. I at length submitted, and you have all assisted at the festivities of my marriage, and, seeing my new bride, have pierced my heart with your congratulations and assurances of my future happiness. I then left the court. I brought her here; and that young wife, justly wounded by my melancholy, absurd and ridiculous in her eyes, wearied of the retired life I compelled her to lead, left me very soon after my father’s death and returned to her family. And—shall I acknowledge it?—sensible of the wrong I have done her, I am quite reconciled to being forgotten and finding myself abandoned and alone. I have dismissed successively all my pages and valets, retaining only the oldest servants belonging to my house. Henry, my old foster-father, takes entire charge and control of everything. Misfortune and sorrow have made me prematurely old; I need the companionship of the aged, and not of youth. I love to hear around me the slow and faltering step of a man ready to sink into the grave; he seems to hasten the hour for me. His soul, cold and subdued, soothes and refreshes mine. He never laughs; never comes to tell me of a thousand chimerical projects, a thousand vain hopes, recalling those in which I have indulged in days past. His presence alone would be sufficient to expel them! And yet, notwithstanding all this, the sorrow that slumbers in my soul is often suddenly aroused, more wild and insupportable than ever. Wearied by long vigils and sleepless nights, I [Pg 74] sometimes imagine I see Queen Catherine enter my chamber; the reflection of her gold-embroidered robes sheds a dazzling light around her. Her ladies follow. I hear the rustling of their heavy trains; I hear them laugh and converse together about the tournament of the day before. Then all becomes dark! Anne Boleyn turns her eyes away from me; she is envious of the queen; pride, ambition, stifle in her heart every sentiment of affection. Then my agony is renewed. I weep, I sigh, and the shadows vanish into nothingness.

“What happiness can any one expect to find in the honors of a usurped rank? Ah! my friend, I have seen, and felt, and suffered everything. Our faults are the sole cause of all our afflictions. Therefore, far from feeling incensed at the injustice of men, I no more recognize an enemy among them. My heart goes out with deepest pity toward the suffering ones of earth, and I would gladly be able to console them all.”

Saying this, Northumberland paused, overcome by emotion.

“Ah!” at length replied Walsh, who had listened with rapt attention, “how limited are our judgments! Had I been asked the name of the happiest mortal living, I should have given yours without a moment’s hesitation.”

“I know it, and have been told it a hundred times,” replied Northumberland earnestly. “Many men have had their marriage relations dissolved, their fortunes changed, and have still borne up courageously under their misfortunes; but with me it cannot be thus. If Anne Boleyn had married another lord of the court—well, I might have been reconciled. I should at least have been spared the outrage of her dishonor; for her dishonor is mine! I had so taken her heart into my own, united my life so entirely with hers, in order not to suffer the slightest stain to touch it, that there is no torture equal to that which I now endure. Every moment I feel, I suffer; I hear the whisperings of this infamous and widespread report which her foolish vanity alone prevents her from discovering around her.”

“Dear Percy,” replied Walsh, “you cannot imagine how much you exaggerate all this! The solitude in which you live has excited you to such a degree that you almost imagine she bears the name of Countess of Northumberland.”

“Yes!” he exclaimed excitedly, “she bears it in my heart; and there, at least, no one can dispute her right!”

“And poor Lady Shrewsbury?” replied Walsh.

“Lady Shrewsbury,” cried Northumberland, “is the victim, like myself, of compulsion! Never have I regarded her as my wife. If the king had demanded my head, I should not have been bound to obey; but a father’s curse is a weight that cannot be supported! My obstinacy would have brought upon his tottering old age the bitterness of poverty and want. No, no; that is my only excuse, and Lady Shrewsbury herself would have forgiven me had she known my sorrow.”

“My dear Percy,” interrupted Walsh anxiously, “I am deeply grieved to find you in this condition; your heart misleads you, and I perceive the commission with which I am charged will be anything but agreeable. However, what can I do? Here,” he added, unfolding a letter and a roll of written parchment, from which hung the king’s seals, “take and read.”

[Pg 75] He preferred giving him the order to read rather than have the unpleasant task of verbally announcing what he now foresaw would cause him such extreme grief. Northumberland had no sooner glanced over it than the parchment fell from his hands.

“Who? I?” he cried. “I go to arrest the archbishop at the very moment when all the nobility of these parts are assembled to assist at the ceremony of his installation! I, formerly of his household, who have spent all the happiest years of my youth with him—charge me with such a commission? The king wishes, then, to have me regarded with horror and detestation by all the inhabitants of this country! Know, my friend,” continued Percy, fixing his flashing eyes upon Walsh, “that since Wolsey came here he has made himself universally loved and cherished. He is no longer the vain, imperious man whom you knew; adversity has entirely changed him. He occupies himself only in doing good, reconciling family differences, and relieving the distressed. And this gorgeous entry, which causes the king so much uneasiness, he was to have made on foot with the utmost possible simplicity.

“For a long time Wolsey hesitated, entirely for fear of seeing his enemies array themselves against him; but his clergy seemed so wounded at conduct contrary to the usage of all his predecessors that he at length consented. But see how they deceive the king, and endeavor to excite him against those who least of all merit his displeasure!”

“What shall I say to you, my dear Northumberland?” replied Walsh. “When the king issues an order, how can its execution be avoided? All that you say is true beyond doubt, but neither you nor I can do anything; it only remains for us to try and accomplish this disagreeable commission with as little noise as possible.”

“Ah!” replied Northumberland, “why has he imposed such a commission on me? See if even the slightest pleasure of my life is not instantly extinguished. I was rejoicing at seeing you, and immediately I am made to pay for it.”

He continued for a long time talking in this manner, when, Walsh having expressed a desire to go through the castle, Northumberland consented. They found everything in a state of extreme disorder. In many places no care was taken even to open the house to admit the light of day. As old Henry successively opened to them each new hall of the immense castle, the dust, collected in heaps like piles of down, arose and flew away to collect again further on in the apartment upon some more valuable piece of furniture.

Walsh could not avoid expressing to the earl his surprise at seeing him so neglect the magnificent abode of his ancestors. “It is wrong,” replied Percy, “but I prize nothing any more. Of what consequence is it to me whether the roof that shelters me is handsome or plain? When our hearts are crushed by sorrow, we become oblivious to all outward surroundings.”

*  *  *  *  *

When night came on, his host retired and left him to that repose of which, after the fatigue of his journey, he stood so much in need. Northumberland ordered old Henry to retire and leave him alone as usual; but Henry had decided otherwise, and continued for a [Pg 76] long time to come and go and pass the chamber slowly under various pretexts, as his solicitude on account of his master was more and more increased on remarking that his habitual sadness had been redoubled since the advent of his visitor.

“Accursed stranger!” he said to himself, “bird of ill-omen, what has brought him here? That famished maw of his would have been very well able to carry him far from the moats of our castle! It is the king who sends him here; but is not our son king of these parts?” And thus muttering to himself, old Henry walked on. Not being able to determine on leaving his master, he stopped and peered through the door in order to observe Lord Percy. The latter sat leaning on the table before him, his eyes closed, his head resting on his hands, and seemingly oblivious to everything around him.

“There he sits still, to take a cold with this trouble!” continued Henry. “However, I must go and leave him.” And the old domestic, still turning his palsied head to look back, passed slowly under the heavy tapestry screen, that fell rustling behind him.

“He is gone,” said Northumberland to himself—“gone, perhaps, for ever; for who knows how long Henry has yet to live? What happiness to think we must die! When weary with suffering, the soul reposes with a bitter joy upon the brink of that tomb which alone can deliver her from her woes! How the certainty of seeing them end sweetens the sorrows we endure! Here where I stand” (he arose to his feet), “beside this hearth, each one of my sires has taken his place, and each has successively passed away. Their armor hangs here empty; their names alone remain inscribed upon them. Why have not I the courage, then, to endure this time of trial they call ‘life,’ which I have wished to consider the end, but which is only a road leading to the end—a road perilous, rough, and wearing? The shortest is the one I consider the best; and he who travels over it most rapidly, has he not found true happiness?

“Have you not sometimes seen, in the midst of a violent storm, a poor bird wildly struggling with winds and waves? You behold it for a moment in the whirlpool, and suddenly it disappears. Just so I have passed through the midst of the world; I had hoped to shine there, because I was dazzled with it. To-day it becomes necessary to forget it. O my soul! I wish thee, I command thee, to forget.”

At this moment a slight noise was heard. Northumberland started.

“What do you want, Henry?” he asked, seeing the old man standing like a shadow at the end of the apartment.

“Nothing!” he replied impatiently.

“But truly,” said Lord Percy, “why have you returned?”

“To see if you were asleep,” brusquely answered the old servant, approaching him. “It was scarcely worth the trouble,” he continued, elevating his voice, “of harboring so carefully this new-comer, if he must pay his reckoning in this way.”

“Ah!” replied Northumberland, regarding his old foster-father with a suppliant expression.” Tell me, Henry, have you never known what it was to grieve for one whom you loved?”

“Ay, in sooth,” replied Henry, “unfortunately I have known it; [Pg 77] but we are not able to live, like you, in idleness, and have hardly time to be unhappy. When I lost my poor Alice, your foster-mother, what anguish did I not feel in the depths of my soul! Well, if I had stopped to think of her, I should have heard immediately my name resounding through all the turrets of the castle: ‘Henry! my lord—my lord goes hunting; hurry! make haste! my lord gives a ball this evening to all the ladies of the country.’ And away I had to go, to come, to run; otherwise my lord your father would fly into a passion. How would you find time to weep if somebody was always calling after you? Besides, I—poor Henry—if they had seen me sitting, like you, all the day in silence, with tears in my eyes and my arms folded, they would have laughed at me, and the pages would have called me a fool.”

“That is true; you are right,” replied Northumberland in an abstracted manner. “You say, then they gave balls here?”

“And superb ones, too!” replied Henry, who liked, above all things, to talk about the old times. “In those days you were not here; they educated you with Monseigneur the Cardinal, our good archbishop at present.”

On hearing these words Northumberland became violently agitated, and his old servant, perceiving his countenance change and his features contract, stopped suddenly in great alarm.

“You are ill, my lord?” he exclaimed.

“No, no,” replied Northumberland; “be calm. Leave me, Henry; I want to be alone. Go to your bed—I command you.”

Henry, forced to leave his master, as he went reproached himself for having spoken of the fêtes the Countess of Northumberland had given in the castle; he imagined it was the recollection of his mother that had so affected Lord Percy.

“The archbishop! the archbishop!” repeated Northumberland. “Oh! let me banish the name, in mercy—for a few hours, at least! He said, I believe, that they gave balls here! What did he say? Yes, that must be it: my mother loved them. Yes,” he continued, looking round at the large and magnificent panels of his chamber, “here they hung garlands and baskets of flowers; a thousand lamps reflected their brilliant colors; delicious music floated on the perfumed air; crowds of people of every age, sex, and rank eagerly gathered here. Time has very soon reduced them to an equality; the sound of their footsteps is heard no more; their voices are mute; they have all passed away. I alone still exist.”

The entire night was spent in these reflections, and when day began to dawn the heavy tramp of horses was heard in the courtyard, and soon, in the cold fog of morning, there issued from the castle gate a troop of armed men wearing long cloth cloaks and caps. It was the earl’s retainers, whom he had assembled during the night from all the surrounding country. He rode in the midst of them in profound silence; even Sir Walsh, reading in his countenance the melancholy dejection under which he labored, had simply pressed his hand without daring to address him a word.

As to the followers of Northumberland, they were astonished at this sudden departure; they were completely ignorant of whither their master was carrying them, having learned nothing from old Henry himself, to whom Lord Percy had [Pg 78] deemed it inexpedient to reveal the destination, and still less the object, of this expedition. The old man felt singularly anxious on the subject, as he was every day becoming more and more accustomed to regard himself as the guardian and adviser of him whom he called his son. Therefore, after having closed the gate of the castle upon the travellers, he went sadly and took his station on the highest tower, to see in what direction his master was going.

A few moments only he followed them with his eyes; for, the valley once crossed, their route conducted them into the depths of the forest, and the cavalcade was soon lost to view.




Sweet bird, that, singing under altered skies,
Art mourning for thy season of delight—
For lo! the cheerful months forsake thee quite,
And all thy sunshine into shadow dies—
O thou who art acquainted with unrest!
Could thy poor wit my kindred mood divine,
How wouldst thou fold thy wings upon my breast,
And blend thy melancholy plaint with mine!
I know not if with thine my songs would rhyme,
For haply she thou mournest is not dead:
Less kind are death and heaven unto me;
But the chill twilight, and the sullen time,
And thinking of the sweet years and the sad,
Move me, wild warbler, to discourse with thee.

[Pg 79]


“Your mind is tossing on the ocean;
There, where your argosies with portly sail,
Like signiors and rich burghers of the flood,
Or, as it were, the pageants of the sea,
Do overpeer the petty traffickers,
That curt’sy to them, do them reverence,
As they fly by them with their woven wings.”
Merchant of Venice, act i. sc. i.

Thucydides, in the introduction to his history, remarks that one of the principal causes that raised some of the Greek cities to such a high degree of prosperity and power was their engagement in mercantile pursuits. All the great peoples of antiquity by whom the shores of the Mediterranean were occupied—Phœnicians, Carthaginians, Etruscans, Ionians of Asia Minor—rose to wealth and importance by the same means. The Romans alone despised it.

After the subversion of the Western Empire and the last inroads of the barbarians, the natives of Italy were the first to emerge from the ruins of the ancient world. Except religion, they found no worthier or more potent element of civilization than commerce, which procures, to use the words of a celebrated writer, what is of far greater value than mere money—“the reciprocation of the peculiar advantages of different countries”; and throughout the middle ages, until the passage to India by the Cape of Good Hope and the discovery of America, Italy was the most forward nation in Christendom for wealth, refinement of manners, and intellectual culture.

Italian commerce reached its greatest development between the thirteenth and fifteenth centuries—that is, between the ages when Marco Polo travelled to Tartary, China, and the Indies and Christopher Columbus discovered America. In these two men, representatives of Venice and Genoa, are embodied the geniuses of trade and navigation; and as though Florence, seated between the rival cities and engaged rather in reaping the fruits than in sowing the seeds of enterprise, were destined to unite in herself the glory of both Italian shores, one of her citizens—Americus Vespucius—gives his name to the New World. This commerce began slowly but progressed rapidly, and attained its noblest proportions during the fourteenth century, when for a hundred years it spread over every sea and land then known in the eager search after riches, bringing back to its votaries whatever luxury Europe, Asia, and Africa produced or man’s invention had evolved out of the necessities of his nature. Next, it gradually fell away and almost disappeared in the sixteenth century, leaving behind it only the cold consolation that there was no reason why it alone should be excepted from the common doom of human affairs, which, when they have enjoyed a certain measure of success, must surely decline and fall.

When the Goths, Longobards, and Carlovingians had conquered Italy, although most of the arts and sciences were lost or hidden in cloisters, neither trade nor commerce was quite neglected; but, despite the [Pg 80] dangers from pirates, the ignorance of the sea, and the exactions of the lawless on land, the Adriatic and Mediterranean were timidly attempted by the inhabitants of the coast, while in the interior of the country an interchange of commodities was carried on between neighboring districts at places set apart for the purpose. These places were generally the large square or principal street of a town, or under the walls of a monastery, and the interchange took place on certain days appointed by public authority.

The assemblies of the people were usually held on the Saturday, and were at first called markets; but afterwards the rarer and more important ones, which were held annually and for several consecutive days, were termed fairs, from the Latin word feria, because they always took place on the feast of some saint. Many rights and privileges were granted at an early period to the merchants who exhibited wares at these yearly gatherings; for without such inducements few cared to undertake a journey with a part, or perhaps the whole, of their earthly substance about them, along roads and across ferries beset by robber-nobles, who levied toll from passers-by and sometimes seized goods and persons for their own use.

The Venetians began earlier to sail on distant seas, and maintained themselves longer on the water, than did the natives of any other parts of Italy. Cassiodorus represents them in the sixth century as occupied solely in salt-works, from which they derived their only profit; but in course of time they issued from their lagoons to become the most industrious and venturesome traffickers in the world. At the beginning of the ninth century they had already introduced into Italy some of the delicacies of the East, but drew odium on themselves for conniving with pirates and men-stealers to capture people and sell them into slavery in distant quarters of Europe and Asia. On the opposite shore of Italy the inhabitants of Amalfi showed themselves the most successful navigators during the early middle ages, trading with Sicily and Tarentum, and even with Egypt, Syria, and Constantinople. Their city is described by the poet-historian William of Apulia, in the eleventh century, as the great mart for Eastern goods, and the enterprise of its sailors as extending to all the ports of the Mediterranean. Flavio Gioja, a citizen of Amalfi, if he did not invent the mariner’s compass, as is somewhere asserted, certainly improved it about the year 1302, either by its mode of suspension or by the attachment of the card to the needle itself. This discovery gave such an impulse to navigation that what had been for ages hardly more than a skilful art became at once a science, and vessels no longer crept along the shore or slipped from island to island, but attempted “the vasty deep” and crossed over the ocean to the New World.

Another rich emporium at an early period, on the same side of Italy, was Pisa. The city was four or five miles from the sea, but had a port formed by a natural bay to the southward of the old mouth of the Arno at a place called Calambrone. The Pisans at first traded principally with Sicily and Africa. They fitted out expeditions against the Saracens,[31] seized several islands [Pg 81] in the Mediterranean, and with both land-troops and seamen took an important part in the first Crusade, being careful, before returning from the East, to establish factories at Antioch and Constantinople. They also sent fleets to humble the Mohammedan cities of Northern Africa. Through commercial jealousy and political reasons they became involved in bitter wars with the Genoese for the possession of Corsica, and with the Amalfitans, who had sided against the emperor. The Pisans, as auxiliaries of the Emperor Lothaire, sent a strong squadron to Amalfi, which was held by the Normans, and, after a rigorous blockade, took it by storm in 1137. It was on this occasion that a copy of the long-lost Pandects of Justinian was found, which is said to be the original from which all subsequent copies in Italy were made, thus reviving the study of Roman law. It was taken from its captors by the Florentines in 1411, and is now preserved in the Laurentian Library at Florence. The monk Donizo, in his metrical life of the Countess Matilda, being annoyed that the mother of the countess should have been buried in Pisa, describes the city somewhat contemptuously as a flourishing emporium whose port was filled with large ships and frequented by many different races of people, even by swarthy Moors.

To the north of Pisa rose her haughty rival, Genoa, surnamed the Superb from her pride and magnificent natural position. After four sanguinary wars with the Pisans, the Genoese swept their fleets from the sea, destroyed their port, and ruined their foreign commerce. The city never recovered from that blow, and the population, which once exceeded 100,000, has fallen to a fifth of that number.

The Genoese had at first been the allies of the Pisans, and united with them to drive the Saracens out of several important islands. They also ravaged the coast of Northern Africa in the eleventh century, and, taking part in the first Crusade, obtained settlements on the shore of Palestine, particularly at Acre. Owing to their secure position at home and their foothold in the East and the islands of the West, their city became one of the two great maritime powers of Italy and the only noteworthy rival of Venice. The power of the Genoese and Venetians was immensely increased by the Crusades, and at one time so feared were they in the Levant that they were able to draw pensions and exact tribute from the pusillanimous emperor at Constantinople. The Venetians were especially favored by Alexius Comnenus, through whom they acquired convenient establishments along the Bosphorus and at Durazzo in Albania. Their doge was honored with the pompous title of Protosebaste. In the meanwhile intestine disturbances and wars with neighboring republics had reduced several of those cities which had lately been most flourishing, and none could compete successfully in the fourteenth century with Venice and Genoa, to which the foreign trade of Italy was left, and to whose marts the produce of the Levant and the countries bordering on the lower Mediterranean was brought, and either there or at the great cities of the interior exchanged for domestic manufactures and the industries of Central and Northern Europe. The carrying trade was almost exclusively their own, but the home or inland business was shared by many other cities—principally by Bologna, Ferrara, Florence, Lucca, and Milan. [Pg 82] At that period the Atlantic ocean and northern coasts of Europe were but rarely navigated by Italian merchants. The Venetians alone despatched annually a large fleet, which—taking its name, the Flanders fleet, from its destination—carried on an enterprising and lucrative traffic with the Low Countries, and, in connection with the Hanseatic League or directly, spread over England, Scotland, and the nations lying on the North Sea and the Baltic, the spices, gums, silks, pearls, diamonds, and numerous other articles of oriental origin which they had procured from the Levant and further Indies. The Genoese furnished the same things to the French, Spaniards, and Moors of Andalusia; but Portugal was served by their rivals.

A maritime power had risen before this time which disputed with the Genoese and Venetians the ascendency on the Mediterranean. This was Barcelona, whose sailors were among the best on the sea, and whose merchants were largely engaged in commerce. Many bold encounters took place between the Catalans and Italians, through jealousies of trade, but the former finally succumbed.

The products of the more distant East reached Italy in Genoese and Venetian ships, through Armenian merchants at Trebizond, and through Arabs by way of Alexandria and Damascus. Those of the north, so necessary for a seafaring people, were brought from the mouth of the Don, the merchandise being floated down that great river in boats from the interior. The Mongols were the masters of all the region thereabouts; but the insinuating Italians, aware of the interest of this branch of commerce, played upon their barbarous pride with so much dexterity that they succeeded in making treaties with them by which they were allowed to occupy certain trading posts where the goods ordered might accumulate and their own wares be exchanged for the productions of Russia, Tartary, and Persia. The wily Genoese had bought from a Tartar prince, at the beginning of the fourteenth century, a small piece of land on the south-eastern shore of the Crimea on which to build a factory. Only a few rude cabins were raised at first, for stores and the dwellings of their agents; but the traffic soon brought together a large population, sumptuous palaces were erected, a strong and lofty wall was built around, and Kaffa[32] became one of the most opulent colonies of the republic, with a population at one time of 80,000.

The rival Venetians had their great deposit at the city of Azov, on the banks of the Don, twenty miles from its mouth. They were not the proprietors, and, although they received numerous favors from the Tartar governor, they were obliged to share them with the Genoese, Florentines, and others, who also did a flourishing business. The amount of goods collected there was so immense and the value so considerable, that when, as sometimes happened, a destructive fire broke out or the place was plundered, the loss was felt as a shock to commerce throughout the whole of Europe.

All along the coast of the Black Sea the Italians plied a profitable trade, and many merchants were settled at Trebizond, from which [Pg 83] vantage-ground they had an important communication open with Armenia, whose people, being united by religion to the Latins, granted them very valuable commercial privileges. The Venetians were favored above the rest. They had churches, magazines, and inns, coined money, and in all matters in dispute were tried by judges chosen among their countrymen, or rather their own fellow-citizens. They could introduce their goods without paying duty, freely traverse the kingdom, and monopolize the exportation of camel’s hair, which was an important article of traffic. The Genoese were no less enterprising than their rivals, and restored in the port of Trebizond a mole that had been built by the Roman Emperor Hadrian. Large quantities of India goods, and especially spiceries, were stored by Italian merchants in the warehouses of Trebizond, Damascus, and Alexandria. There were several overland routes by which this merchandise was transported, but none of them was safe, on account of the frequent revolutions in the countries through which they ran. Some of the caravans that brought the commodities of India and China passed through Balkh, the Baetria of the ancients and at one time the commercial centre of eastern Asia, then up to Bokhara, whence they descended the Oxus for a distance, touched at Khiva, and, traversing the Caspian Sea, ascended the river Kour (the Cyrus of Strabo, xi. p. 509) for seventy miles to its junction with the Aras (the Araxes of Herodotus, iv. 40), from which they crossed by a journey of four or five days into the historical Phasis at Sharapan and down to the Euxine. Another beaten track entered Syria by the Tigris and the Euphrates, and diverged towards the several ports of Palestine and Asia Minor. It passed through Bagdad, which was a great commercial emporium during the middle ages and an entrepôt for the commodities of eastern and western Asia. A memorial of those days when Frank merchants, mingling with Persians, Arabs, Turks, Hindoos, Koords, and Armenians, ransacked her splendid bazaars, remains in our language in the word Baldachin, because canopies made of costly stuff interwoven with gold thread were manufactured in this city, which was known to the Italians as Baldacca, and in the adjective form Baldacchino. Much trade was also done by way of the Red Sea, Cairo, and Alexandria.

In all the ports of the Euxine and Mediterranean the Italians had shops and warehouses, and every rich company kept a number of factors, who despatched goods as they got orders and maintained the interests of their principals. An officer called a consul, who was appointed by the government at home, resided in each of these foreign sea-ports, to defend the rights of his countrymen, and decide differences among themselves, or between them and strangers. Consuls were recognized as official personages by the sovereign in whose territory they resided, and were honored as public magistrates by their own people, from whom they received certain fees for their support, according to the quality and amount of business they were called upon to perform.

The maritime republics of Italy were very fortunate in having transported the Crusaders to the Holy Land in their ships, for by this they acquired many rich establishments in the Levant, and it was not long before the dissolute and degraded [Pg 84] Greeks, who would neither take counsel in peace nor could defend themselves in war, became subject to the imperious will of the Italians.

The Venetians obtained in 1204 the fertile island of Candia, which became the centre of their extensive Egyptian and Asiatic trade. They also had a quarter in Constantinople, which they surrounded by a wall, the gates of which were guarded by their own soldiers, and a distinct anchorage for their own vessels in the Golden Horn. A senate and bailiff representing the doge held authority in this settlement, and exercised jurisdiction over the minor establishments of the republic in Roumelia.

The Genoese were still more powerful at the capital, and the Emperor Michael Palæologus, who was indebted to them for his return to the throne, had given them the beautiful suburbs of Pera and Galata, on an elevated plateau, which they made still more secure, under the elder Andronicus, by a moat and triple row of walls. To these places they transferred their stores and stock; nor was it long before the churches, palaces, warehouses, and public buildings of Pera vied in magnificence with those of the metropolis itself. The island of Chios, where gum-mastic was collected and the finest wine produced, was another of their colonies. These were all ruled by a podestà annually sent from Genoa. The Genoese and Venetians had also factories in Barbary, through which they drove a brisk trade with the interior of Africa. To them more than to any others was it due that for three hundred years the commerce of Italy was famous from the Straits of Gibraltar to the remotest gulf in the Euxine.

The maritime strength of the Italian republics, especially of Genoa and Venice, corresponded to their vast commercial interests and the number of colonies they were expected to enlarge and defend. Thus, the Pisans in 1114 sent an armament, consisting of 300 vessels of various sizes, carrying 35,000 men and 900 horses, to the conquest of the Balearic Islands, which had become a nest of Moorish pirates. A great part of these troops were mercenaries procured from all parts of the world, and contingents drawn from their possessions in Sardinia. In 1293 the Genoese fitted out in a single month, against the Venetians, 200 galleys, each of which bore from 220 to 300 combatants recruited within the continental limits of the republic; and in the vast arsenal of Venice during the fourteenth century 800 men were continually at work, and 200 galleys, not to count the smaller craft, were kept ready in port for any emergency that might arise. Such formidable fleets were manned either by voluntary enlistments or impressment; the hope of heavy plunder, according to the barbarous war-system of those days, which the church strove against but could not wholly change, appealing to young men to serve as sailors or soldiers. The furious rivalry between Genoa and Venice began to show itself soon after the taking of Constantinople by the Franks in 1244, each desiring to reap alone the profits of the Levant trade. After many bloody encounters a peace was patched up in 1298, by which the latter was excluded for thirteen years from the Black Sea, along whose shores the former had colonies, forts, and factories, and was forbidden to send armed vessels to Syria. Terms so propitious raised the pride and influence of Genoa to [Pg 85] the utmost; and feared by all, and claiming to be mistress of the seas, she upheld the honor of her flag with extravagant solicitude. In 1332 she wasted the coast of Catalonia with a force of 200 galleys, and inflicted great injury on the commerce of Barcelona; and two years later, having captured twelve ships of the enemy, heavily freighted with merchandise, in the waters of Sicily, Cyprus, and Sardinia, with an example of ferocious cruelty which only the “accursed greed of gold” and a determination to exclude the Catalans from any share in Eastern commerce could prompt, six hundred prisoners were hanged at a single execution. She was resolved to command the seas, and consequently the trade of the world; but her rival, although crippled, was not prostrate, and the fourth war broke out between them in 1372 for possession of the classical island of Tenedos, so valuable as a naval station and renowned for its wheat and excellent red wine. The Genoese actually got into the lagoons of Venice, vowing to reduce her to the stagnant level of the waters, and approached so near to the city that their admiral could shout to the affrighted people on the quays, Delenda est Carthago! but by a singular freak of fortune they were themselves totally defeated, and glad to accept the mediation of Amadeus VI., Duke of Savoy. It was agreed that neither party should have the island in dispute, but that the duke should hold it at their common expense for two years and then dismantle the fortress.

During this war, called the War of Chioggia, which lasted until 1381, an unusually large number of corsairs roved the seas; but the Italians had long practised piracy, and whole communities were corsairs by profession, just as on land condottieri could be hired to sack cities and castles and desolate whole provinces. The little town of Monaco was notorious during the middle ages for its pirates, as it still is for its ravenous land-sharks. There were two sorts of corsairs. Some were private individuals who went to sea through lust of gain, or because driven from their homes during the fights of faction, and seized whatever they could. These robberies and depredations marked piracy in its original form. Nevertheless during the twelfth, thirteenth, and fourteenth centuries many otherwise honorable characters, who were often unjustly despoiled of their patrimony and driven as outcasts from their native cities, took to this occupation not entirely from inclination, but impelled by the brutality of their countrymen. We may recall as an extenuating circumstance what that grave judge, Lord Stowell, observed (2 Dods. 374) of the buccaneers, whose spirit at one time approached to that of chivalry in point of adventure, and whose manner of life was thought to reflect no disgrace upon distinguished Englishmen who engaged in it.

Other corsairs were patriotic citizens who armed their ships to injure the enemy during lawful hostilities; and although there was abuse in the system, they were not pirates, but privateersmen. Foreign nations used to buy ships from the Italians to increase their own armaments, or engage them to harass their opponents. It is curious, considering how completely maritime supremacy has deserted the Mediterranean for northern seas, to know that the poet Chaucer was sent by King Edward III. in November, 1372, as envoy to the republic of [Pg 86] Genoa to hire vessels for his navy; and Tytler says (Hist. of Scotland, vol. ii. p. 261) that in the same century many of the privateers employed by the Scots against England appear to have been vessels of larger dimensions and more formidable equipment than those of England, probably from their being foreign built, and furnished by the Genoese or the Venetians, for the purposes both of trade and piracy.

It was now that the word Jane came into the language—Chaucer and Spenser use it—for a small coin so-called from Janua (Genoa). It is termed in the old English statutes a galley half-pence.

The Florentines had originally no seaboard, and were obliged to charter ships wherever they could. In 1362, having taken into the service of the republic Pierin Grimaldi of Genoa, with two galleys, and hired two more vessels, their little fleet took the island of Giglio from the Pisans, and the following year, having broken into the port of Pisa itself, they took away the chains that protected it and hung them as trophies on the porphyry columns of their Baptistery.

The foreign commerce for which the maritime cities of Italy, and particularly Genoa and Venice, so savagely disputed, to the scandal of the Christian name among the infidels, as the old English traveller Sir John de Mandeville shows, was certainly very considerable, and a source of almost fabulous profit to those engaged in it who were fortunate in their ventures. Commerce was the foundation of Italy’s prosperity, which was greater than that of any other European country from the twelfth to the fourteenth century. The Italian merchants got cottons, silken goods, brocades, Cashmere shawls, spices, rhubarb and other medicines, amber, indigo, pearls, and diamonds from India and Central Asia. From Persia there came silks, carpets, skins, and manufactured articles used by the great for clothing or for the comfort of their homes. Tartary and Russia furnished hemp, canvas, ship-timber, tar, wax, caviare, raw-hides, and peltries. From the ports of Syria and Asia Minor, and particularly from Smyrna, were shipped to Italy hare-skins, leather, camel’s hair, valonia, cotton stuffs, damasks, dried fruits, beeswax, drugs and electuaries, arms, armor, and cutlery; and many articles of Asiatic luxury and magnificence found their way thence through Italian merchants to the courts and castles of England, Scotland, France, Germany, and other northern nations. Greece sent fine wines, raisins, currants, filbert-nuts, silk, and alum. A large quantity of grain was brought into Italy from Egypt and the Barbary States; but the supply to the colonies in the Levant came mostly from the Black Sea. Wool, wax, sheep-skins, and morocco came from the Moorish provinces of Africa. These were the principal imports, and were exchanged for the products and manufactures of Italy and the countries to the north, for which the Italians acted as agents. The Genoese exported immense quantities of woven fabrics from the looms of Lombardy and Florence, fine linens from Bologna, and cloths of a coarser make from France, for which a ready market was found in the East and among the Italians settled in the Archipelago and Levant. The oils of Provence and the Riviera of Genoa, soaps, saffron, and coral, were also largely exported. Quicksilver was a valuable article in the hands of the Venetians, who got it from Istria and sold it in Spain and the Levant; they also extracted a great amount of salt from Istria and Dalmatia, which was sold at a good profit in Lombardy and other parts of Italy. Sardinia, Sicily, and Naples also did a large foreign business; the last city importing cargoes of delicate Greek and Oriental wines, such as the famous Cyprian, Malmsey, and Muscatel, much of which was sent to different parts of Italy, and into England and the Netherlands. Spain, Portugal, and Flanders were supplied with the products of the Indies and Levant principally by Genoese and Venetian merchants. The latter especially had many privileges and fiscal exemptions in Flanders, and in returning from the North loaded their ships in Portugal with tin, silver bars, wines, and raisins; while the former had the greater part of the trade with the Moors of Africa and southern Spain, from whom, in return for spiceries and other Eastern products, they got gold, cordovans, and merino wool, which were sold to advantage in France and Italy.

The Italians were the best cloth-weavers in Europe in the fourteenth century, although the Flemings were not contemptible rivals. The manufacture of cloth was industriously carried on in many of their cities; in those of Tuscany particularly, the finest kind of work being done in Lucca. When this city was taken by Uguccione della Faggiuola, in 1314, the factories and goods were destroyed, and many citizens emigrated to other parts of Italy, and even into France, Germany, and England. Yet long before this Italian operatives had introduced, or at least improved, the art in the northern countries. Crapes, taffetas, velvets, silks, camelots, and [Pg 87] serges were extensively made in Italy, the richest quality being sold at Florence, where the home industries seemed to centre, and only the most skilled artisans were employed. The art of weaving wool was practised by thousands of citizens, and, nominally at least, by some of the noblest families of the city and contado (commune), since there was a law that no one could aspire to public office unless he were a member of one of the trades-corporations of the republic. The citizens of Florence were classed from 1266 into twelve companies of trades or professions, seven of which were called arti maggiori, viz., 1. lawyers and attorneys; 2. dealers in foreign stuffs; 3. bankers and money-changers; 4. woollen manufacturers and drapers; 5. physicians and apothecaries; 6. silk manufacturers and mercers; 7. furriers. The lower trades were called arti minori. The records of these corporations are now preserved in a part of the Uffizi palace devoted to the public archives of Florence. They range from A.D. 1300 to the end of the eighteenth century. Around the hall, which was fitted up a few years ago to receive them, are the portraits of some of the distinguished men who belonged to these guilds: Dante, Cosimo de’ Medici, Francesco Guicciardini, and others. Balmes gives an interesting account, after Capmany, in his European Civilization, p. 476, of “the trades-unions and other associations which, established under the influence of the Catholic religion, commonly placed themselves under the patronage of some saint, and had pious foundations for the celebration of their feasts, and for assisting each other in their necessities.” Although his long note refers principally to the industrial organization [Pg 88] of the city of Barcelona, it is acknowledged that Catalonia borrowed many of its customs and usages in this matter from the towns of Italy.

Before the middle of the fourteenth century there were over two hundred drapers’ shops in Florence, in which from seventy to eighty thousand pieces of cloth were made every year, to the value of 1,200,000 gold florins, and employing more than thirty thousand people. The historian John Villani says that the trade had been still more flourishing, when there were three hundred shops open and one hundred thousand pieces were made yearly, but that they were of a coarser quality and consequently did not bring as much money into the city, although more people got work. The art of dyeing cloths and other stuffs was cultivated by the Italians during the middle ages with considerable success. Alum, which is much used for this purpose, was eagerly sought after, and the Genoese obtained from Michael Palæologus, on payment of an annual sum, the exclusive right of extracting it from a certain mine in the Morea that had previously been worked by Arabs, Catalans, and others. The lessees began operations with a force of fifty men, and soon built a castle to protect themselves, and finally a town, which was destroyed by the Turks in 1455. The Florentines were so expert in dyeing wool that the material was sent to them for the purpose from other parts of Italy, and even from Germany and the Netherlands. It was only in 1858 that an immense wooden building for stretching and drying cloth in the sun, called Il tiratoio della lana, which had been used for over five hundred years, was torn down as too liable to catch fire.

The cloths of France and other northern countries found a sale in Florence, not so much for home use as for exportation through the Genoese and Venetians. An exception, however, must be made for a rich article called say, manufactured in Ireland, and esteemed so beautiful as to be worn by the ladies of that refined city.[33] John Villani, already mentioned, says that there was a quarter of Florence called Calimala, containing twenty stores of the coarser cloths of the North, of which thirty thousand pieces, of the value of three hundred thousand gold florins, were yearly imported.

Florence in the middle ages had a territory extending only a few miles round its walls; but the industry and speculative spirit of its citizens wonderfully enriched them, and, since “all things obey money” (Ecclesiastes x. 19), they soon became the predominant power, and finally the masters in Tuscany. They were money-changers, moneylenders, jewellers, and goldsmiths for the whole of Europe and no little part of the East. The elements of a business education were given to its youth in numerous schools, attended by some twelve hundred boys, who were taught arithmetic and book-keeping. A great deal of money circulated within the city itself, and a large amount was necessary, particularly before the introduction of bills of exchange, to accommodate merchants in their visits to other countries. The public mint coined annually during the fourteenth century from three hundred and fifty thousand to four hundred thousand gold florins, and about twenty thousand pounds weight of coppers, called danari da quattro, or half-farthings; and eighty private [Pg 89] banks assisted the circulation. The beautiful golden florins were first coined in the year 1252, bearing on one side the impression of St. John Baptist, the patron, and on the other that of a lily, the device of the city. This was considered the finest coin in the world, and so much admired that many princes and governments began to imitate it while preserving its original name, and consequently perpetuating the monetary renown of Florence. It was current in Europe, Asia, and Africa. The workmanship of the Florentines was so superior that they were often called upon to conduct or superintend the coinage in foreign countries. During the reign of King David II., in the first half of the thirteenth century, he appointed a Florentine one of the two keepers of the exchange for all Scotland, and masters of the mint; and under King Robert III. (1390-1424) gold was minted for that kingdom by Bonaccio of Florence.[34] In 1278 the Exchange at London was under the direction of some Lucca merchants; and it seems to be directly from the Italian that we get our English word cash, derived from cassa, the chest in which Italian merchants kept their money. We may have some idea of what a money-centre Florence was in that age from the fact that the notorious French adventurer, the Duke of Athens, who was elected Lord of Florence in 1342, contrived in the course of only ten months to draw four hundred thousand golden florins out of the city. The Florentines, who had the reputation of being the smartest people in Italy, were extremely fond of banking in all its branches. While the middle and lower orders of society were mostly engaged in mechanical occupations, the higher classes handled the money, and would appear to have taken lessons of the Jews. The great feudal nobles of the north, with more land than gold, would often ask their chaplains to reprove them with some holy text of Scripture—Ecclesiasticus x. 10 being a favorite one—when interest was demanded or mortgages were forfeited. They were not by any means the only Italians who publicly courted the queen Regina Pecunia; the ancient name in England for a banker, which was Lombard, and the street in London called Lombard Street, preserving the memory of the Milanese and others out of Lombardy who took up their first residence there before the year 1274, and were great moneychangers and usurers. The stupendous fortunes of the Chigi, who gave Pope Alexander VII. to the church and are now Roman princes, and before them of the Medici family, which became royal, were amassed chiefly in the banking business; but it is a popular error that the well-known sign of the pawnbrokers’ three gilt balls is derived from the armorial bearings of the latter, which their agents in England and other countries placed over the doors of their loan-shops. The arms of the Medici were or, six torteaux gules except the one in chief, which was azure charged with three fleurs-de-lis or. Whether these roundlets had any allusion, as has been suggested, to doctors’ pills and the professional origin whence the family name is supposed to be derived, we cannot determine; but the gold pieces called bezants because coined at Constantinople—Byzantium—and so common at an early period in Italy that the saying Aver buoni Bisanzi was a proverbial expression of one [Pg 90] who had plenty of money, seem to have been early the distinguishing sign of money-lenders and changers, and are the true origin of the pawnbrokers’ balls.

The shrewdness of the Italians in money matters did not always save them from disastrous failures and bankruptcies caused by wars, breach of faith in persons too high to be reached, loss of goods and bullion by fire, piracy, shipwreck, and other accidents. The first great failure of this kind was that of a mercantile company in 1296, which had existed for one hundred and twenty years, and became insolvent for 400,000 gold florins, due to citizens and strangers. It was felt throughout the republic of Florence like the loss of a battle. Even worse was the failure of the Bardi and Peruzzi in 1347. They were both merchants and bankers, and stood at the head of their class in Italy. Loans to the kings of England and Sicily brought them down. The first owed them 900,000 and the second 450,000 gold florins. These were unavailable assets when the 550,000 florins they owed their fellow-citizens and others began to be called for, and therefore they broke. This downfall carried with it a large number of smaller houses, and among them that of Corsini, of the since princely family of that name, which gave St. Andrew and Pope Clement XII. to the church. The celebrated historian John Villani was a great loser by this failure, and was even imprisoned in the Stinche in consequence of it as an insolvent. The law punished fraudulent failures very severely; but if it could be proved that the failures resulted from unavoidable accidents, the debtors were allowed to go free, after surrendering all they possessed to their creditors. For the convenience of customers, the bank-offices used to be on the ground-floor of the houses—sometimes palaces—the masters living above. The rate of discount on exchange was from one and one-half to two per cent., and four per cent. on sums advanced. Jacques Savary, in his Parfait Négociant, says that the invention of bills of exchange is due to French Jews who were driven out of France by Philip the Fair in 1316, and took refuge in Lombardy. By means of such bills they were able to get the value of the property they had left in the hands of friends. They were imitated by certain Ghibellines who, being exiled, went to Amsterdam and saved some of their goods left in Italy. In negotiating these bills and effecting the sale of goods, persons called sensali (brokers) were employed.

No duties were levied on exports, but imported goods had to be stored in government buildings called doganei.e., custom-houses, or, perhaps more accurately, bonded warehouses—from which, although they might be hypothecated, they could be withdrawn only after payment of a certain sum. There was a chamber of commerce called Mercanzia at Florence, and all the other commercial cities had their merchants’ exchange for the transaction of business, the sordid use to which they were put being often disguised by the beauties of architecture, painting, and sculpture. Thus, the Sala del Cambio at Perugia was decorated with frescoes by the celebrated Pietro Perugino, assisted by his immortal pupil Raphael of Urbino.

In all seaports there were certain judges, elected by and from among the merchants, who composed a tribunal called Consolato di Mare. They settled disputes between traders [Pg 91] and ship-owners, gave assistance in distress, and watched over the interests of commerce. The origin of such boards of trade was very ancient among the Italians, for as early as the year 1129 one was established at Messina. It is said that the Pisans were the first to make laws regulating navigation, and that their code was approved in 1075 by Pope Gregory VII.[35] There was no appeal from the decisions of these admiralty courts, and in cases of fraud or other misdemeanor the guilty party was punished by public authority.

Sericulture began in Italy in the fourteenth century, and was practised with success, especially in Lombardy. The statutes of Modena obliged the peasants to plant a large number of mulberry-trees, in order to promote it.

The wide extent of Italian commerce and the industrial prosperity of Italy, which was a consequence of it, greatly enriched her higher classes and led to the most extravagant luxury during the latter part of the middle ages. Nations now reckoned highly civilized, and where the comforts of life are within the reach of all, were then badly clothed and poorly fed. The effeminacy of the wealthier Italians during the fourteenth century, when commerce was most extended, caused them to despise, amidst the delicacies of the East and the fruits of their own intelligence, the rude simplicity of their more northern neighbors. Even the lower classes among them felt a desire for greater convenience and refinement. Dante, Boccaccio, the chroniclers, and other writers of this period portray or lament the ever-increasing luxury of the age, and we can gather from them an accurate idea of the style of living and magnificence of the patricians in their provisions, furniture, and dress during the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. Nuptial entertainments and civic festivals were the occasions of most display; and Chaucer, who had partaken of such, writes probably as much from recollection as after Petrarch, whom he has imitated, when he describes the preparations for Griselda’s wedding to the young Marquis of Saluce.

The women were particularly dainty, and many sumptuary laws were enacted to restrain the excess of refinement in houses, furniture, and apparel. A very fine sort of thin, transparent linen, made in Cyprus, was much worn by the female sex. It resembled, but was not quite so indecent as the Coa vestis of the ancients. They also carried much jewelry, and were clothed in garments worked in silver and gold stuff. Their minds naturally ran on money:

Julia. What thinkest thou of the rich Mercutio?
Lucetta. Well of his wealth; but of himself, so, so.”
Two Gentlemen of Verona, act i. sc. 2.

The habits and head-dress of the men were often bespangled with precious stones, and their whole attire answered to their haughty bearing, which bespoke successful foreign ventures and a splendid style maintained at home. In innumerable ways they exemplified Dr. Johnson’s observation: “With what munificence a great merchant will spend his money, both from his having it at command and from his enlarged views by calculation of a good effect upon the whole.” Few of them would have dared to say with Bassanio:

“Gentle lady,
When I did first impart my love to you,
I freely told you all the wealth I had
Ran in my veins; I was a gentleman.”
Merchant of Venice, act iii. sc. 2.
[Pg 92]

When Shakspere uses the expression “royal merchant” in the play from which we have just quoted, it is, as Warburton remarks, no ranting epithet; for several Italian merchant families obtained principalities in the Archipelago and elsewhere, which their descendants enjoyed for many generations, and others of their class made sovereign alliances. For instance, James, King of Cyprus, married Catherine Cornaro, daughter of a Venetian merchant, who gave her a dowry of 100,000 golden ducats.[36]

[31] The Cathedral of Pisa, one of the most remarkable monuments of the middle ages, owes its origin to such an expedition; for it was built with part of the rich booty taken from the Saracens at Palermo in the year 1063.

[32] This city was taken from the Genoese by the Turks in 1474, but the Christians were not all driven out. The late Father Theiner has published an interesting letter from the Papal Nuncio in Poland in 1579, in which he mentions having met some Kaffa people at Wilna and tells of their strange manner of obtaining a priest, reminding one a little of Michas and the Levite in Judges xvii.

[33] McPherson’s Annals of Commerce, vol. i. p. 562.

[34] Innes, Scotland in the Middle Ages, p. 309.

[35] Muratori, Ant. Ital., tom. ii. p. 54.

[36] The ducat was the great money of Venice, as the florin was of Florence, and bears in its name a proof of the more aristocratic government of the former city. The first gold ducats were coined by the Doge John Dandolo in 1280, and are inscribed I0. DANDVL. DVX.


Rose Standish Howson—that was her name, and very proud she was of it. Back of the Mayflower, she knew little about her ancestors; but certain it was that in that well-filled vessel one of her forefathers had come to America, and, marrying a distant connection of the veritable Standish family, had handed this name down to all succeeding generations. Rose boasted, so far as it is proper for a well-bred New England girl to boast, that, however it might have been outside of her own country, here at least her lineage was most democratically noble; she belonged—and could prove it, too, out of a little book compiled by her grandfather—thoroughly to the old Puritan race. In all her books the name was written in full—Rose Standish Howson; and it was her unfailing source of regret that her only brother had not been called Miles. John Howson laughed good-naturedly at his sister’s foible, but was really quite as proud as she, though in a more passive way.

Their home was not in Boston. Let this important fact receive our prompt attention. But, since it could not be there, it was in the next best place—an old academic town; in which New England State matters little to our story. There for thirty years Rose Howson’s father had been the academy’s honored principal. His wife had died young, leaving only this son and daughter. John fitted for Harvard at the academy; Rose went steadily through grammar-school and high-school in her native place, then went to Boston with hopes of at least a two years’ added course of study there. It resolved itself into one brilliant winter and spring of hard work and exhausting pleasure, symphony concerts, Shakspere clubs, Parker Fraternity lectures, abstruse reading, and keenly exciting conversation; one merry June, one gay class-day, one delightful commencement, when Dr. Howson came to Cambridge to meet old pupils and friends, and see his son bear off the highest honors; then they went home for vacation, and before it was over Dr. Howson sickened and died.

The whole town was in a fervor [Pg 93] of excitement; there was a funeral, to which people came from far and near; resolutions were passed, and in the flush of enthusiasm John Howson, young as he was and just out of college, was elected on trial to fill his father’s place. So the brother and sister still lived on in their old home, but into it they infused a new manner of living. Fresh from the intellectual arena, they sought to shape society about them into some likeness to that they loved so well, and they found their old friends and playmates more than ready to meet them half-way. A book club was started, into which the current literature of the day was crowded, and from which, it was placidly affirmed, all “trash” was excluded; but Mill was there, and Darwin, and a strange mixture of German philosophy, which the young men, but more especially the young women, read, or fancied they read, and about which they talked much, after a fashion revealing more ideas than thought. There were “musicals” too, and a Shakspere club, and German and French conversations and readings, and the second winter after Dr. Howson’s death there were dramatic entertainments and concerts; and it came to pass that almost every afternoon and evening of Rose’s life was filled with some sort of intellectual work or pleasure. She was a capital housekeeper, and so her early mornings were occupied with household cares; but, later, she was always ready for a walk or talk, and her reading was done in snatches by day and by long hours of steady work late at night.

About religion “experimentally” she knew little. The old meeting-house, which the Puritan settlers had built, was still standing, but it had been enlarged and made over, though not beautified. There Rose had been accustomed to go Sunday after Sunday as a matter of course, and sometimes to the Friday evening prayer-meeting; but she was not “a Christian.” Once there had been a revival, when she tried to be converted, but she had failed. Then in Boston she had been taken to hear preachers who were not “orthodox” at all; she had almost feared them at first, because of strange names she had heard applied to them—they had German tendencies, rationalistic tendencies, were free-thinkers. But when she came under the spell of their presence and their eloquence she was fascinated. They appealed to what she thought the highest faculties of her nature—her intellect, her love for the beautiful, her reason. She missed it when she came home and she did more than miss it: she began to doubt. Was old Mr. Gray wiser than the cultured men she had been hearing? He claimed that they were wrong; how did he know that? How could she tell that he was not mistaken? In this one small town, originally occupied by orthodox Congregationalists only, there were now Orthodox Unitarians, Methodists, Episcopalians, Baptists, and Universalists. A Roman Catholic priest was serving there too, in a dingy hall in a back street, but “society” rarely noticed him or his work; he and his alike were out of its pale, anomalies, hardly worth mentioning except with pitying wonder or idle jest and scorn. What made Mr. Gray superior to any or all of these in his power of discerning truth?

And while Rose queried thus on Sunday mornings, sitting wearily in her accustomed place at the right of the pulpit, sometimes trying to find out how to be good, but oftener losing herself in memories of the [Pg 94] feasts of reason she had known for so brief and bright a while, some one came to town who was to influence her life greatly. Looking up suddenly from one of these reveries, she found herself still in the meeting-house, but opposite her was a new face, a lady’s, thin and pale, with searching eyes fixed upon hers, and after service the lady came straight to her pew and held out her hand.

“I am sure you are Miss Howson,” she said. “Your friend Grace Roland has told me much of you. I am Ellen Lawton.”

Rose’s heart leaped up. In those happy Boston days she had often heard Ellen Lawton spoken of as one of the most elegant and cultured women of her time, and she had read her writings with delight, but she had hardly hoped to meet her. It took her breath away with joy when she learned that Miss Lawton had come to live for a while in this quiet country place.

It was a season of keen delight. Rose had thought she knew what it was to revel in intellectual pleasure, but it was something new to meet one so superior to herself, yet so loving; always ready to listen to her ideas, to help her unfold them, and yet so calm and tranquil. Miss Lawton was an invalid, and, after that first Sunday, Rose never saw her at church again. Once, when Rose stopped on her way thither to leave her some flowers, Miss Lawton said that she was going to sit in the sunshine; would not Rose stay with her? And when Rose demurred, Miss Lawton said gently, “Shall we not please God as well in the beauty of his sunshine as in that bare and cheerless house where you know you do not like to go?”

This was the beginning of Rose’s first knowledge of Ellen Lawton’s so-called religious life; they sat and talked all that morning about it. With a sweet smile upon her calm face, the invalid said quietly that she believed there might be a God; she was not sure, of course; but if there was one, he was kind and good, and loved to see her happy. She made life as bright and beautiful as she possibly could always; it was given her to enjoy. Books and music and art and flowers were parts of her religion; beyond this world she did not look; what came after death she knew not and cared not; if there was a God, he was good and would be good to her; if there was not, the thought of annihilation did not distress her. Rose watched her closely after this; she never heard an impatient word or saw a hasty movement; the life was an exposition of what a great many people would call “the beautiful,” and Rose found in it more and more satisfaction for her extreme intellectual cravings.

One morning a servant ran in with blanched face to tell her that Miss Lawton was dead. Rose had known that heart-disease was the fatal malady which was surely sapping at her friend’s life, yet this blow fell upon her with an awful suddenness. She went to the house, where they left her to do as she would, for she was the nearest friend Miss Lawton had there; she went up to the silent room, and shut herself in alone with the silent dead. Ellen Lawton lay as they had found her; she must have risen in the morning and dressed with her usual dainty care; then, perhaps feeling some acute pang of the pain to which she was subject, she had sunk upon the couch by the window. Her face was, as in life, calm and noble; about her lay her books that she had loved, her rare pictures looked [Pg 95] down upon her, her flowers scented the room; outside the sun shone brightly on the grand hills she had been used to watch, finding in them food for heart and soul both, she said. None of these moved her now at all.

Rose went close to her and looked at her, and looked, and looked, as if she would waken her by the very fixedness of her gaze. What was this thing lying there, this beautiful clay, this voiceless, motionless, tenantless body? Yesterday it spoke to her, kissed her, loved her; what had changed it, gone out of it? The spirit? The soul? Where was that soul then?

She knelt down trembling, and put her hand where the heart had beat not five short hours ago. There was no movement now; and the silence in the room grew terrible. Where was that which yesterday she spoke with? Nowhere? Then to-morrow she herself might be nowhere and nothing.

Suddenly there came to her a memory which she had striven for years to banish. A stranger had preached at the time of that unforgotten revival; he had painted vividly and unsparingly the torments of the lost. Often in the night Rose had wakened from a dream of it, and found herself cold with horror, and cried out, “I never will believe it.” Now like a painting she seemed to see it all again, and through her mind rang the words with which the sermon had ended, “Doubt on as you will, O unbeliever, O careless soul, O faithless Christian! Laugh on as you will, forget as you will. But suppose that you wake up after death and find this true! What then?

John Howson, hearing the news at school, hurried home at noon to comfort Rose, but she was gone. He found her in that room of death, rocking to and fro upon her knees, her hands held out over the dead, while she was whispering in hoarse tones: “Ellen, is it true? Tell me it is not true.” And no one answered.

John lifted her tenderly, and she clung to him like a little child. “Take me home!” she cried, quivering all over. She could not walk; he had to carry her, and all the way she clung to him as if the very touch of something that lived and loved was comfort. “O John! I am so glad you are alive,” she sobbed. “Dear John, do not die, do not die!”

He could hardly bear to leave her for afternoon school, and when he came home she was crouching by his arm-chair, while Abby, their old servant, sat looking at her with pitying horror. “You’d best do what you can for her, Master John,” she said, “or she’ll kill herself going on in this way.”

“No, no! not kill myself,” Rose answered hysterically. “It is awful to live, but it is worse to die.”

John sat down near her, and she took his hand and held it tightly. “I want to feel that you are here, and warm and well,” she said. “O John! tell me what is true.”

“What is true?” he repeated. “Why, I am, I hope; and you, dear child.”

“Oh! no,” she exclaimed, as if his tender lightness were unbearable. “Is God true? Is there a God? What comes after death?”

He answered her honestly; he had even less faith than she, but his doubts did not trouble him. He lived a life as upright and fair as his neighbors; whether there was a God or not, what difference did it make, so long as he behaved himself? This was John Howson’s [Pg 96] creed, if such a title could be applied to it.

How strong and kind he looked, how honorable he always was! Why should Rose worry, if he did not? Either there was no God, and what they did made no difference—they could live as they liked and get all the pleasure possible—or, if there was a God, he was too good to be ever angry with them. It was a consoling belief; she would take the comfort of it. But alone at night the horror returned. Suppose there was a God who demanded something—she knew not what—from his creatures; she could only express it by the vague term, “to be Christians.” She held her head between her hands and tried to think what that meant. Yes, she must be converted, and be sorry for all her sins, and join the church. How were people converted, and what church should she join? Perhaps she had better say a prayer. “O God!” she began, then paused. Her brain was reeling with the doubt whether there was any God at all; and even if there were, what was the use of prayer?

The next morning she went to Mr. Gray. With nerves unstrung by intense feeling, she had little thought left for ordinary greetings or for ceremony. The old man was jarred and hurt by what he thought her rudeness, never dreaming that he was dealing with a soul which was fast losing all care for earthly joys or pains, or for any earthly thing at all, in the one absorbing fear of eternal things. For forty years he had labored in this place in a calm routine, hearing something but comprehending little of the doubts through which the world without was passing. It filled him with horror to hear Rose talk; he had never imagined what thoughts had been working in the mind of his old friend’s child.

“What must one do to be a Christian?” she had asked abruptly.

He had not expected such a question, and looked surprised, but he answered simply enough: “You must believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, my child, and come to him in repentance.”

“And where is he?” Rose cried, “and who is he, and what does he want of me?”

Mr. Gray stared at her in amazement and sorrow. “My dear,” he said, “who is he? He is God, and he is everywhere, and he wants your heart.”

“How do you know that?” Rose exclaimed. “Tell me how you know it.

The old man laid his hand upon his Bible. “Where should I know it but here?” he asked.

“But other people think differently,” Rose said. “I have read it myself, and I don’t find what you preach. The Baptists read the Bible, and so do the Methodists, and so do the Episcopalians, and you cannot agree to be one. How do you know the Bible is true?”

It was of no avail to tell her of internal evidence, or of spiritual conviction, or of visible effects. Quickly enough it became clear that Rose Howson had no faith left in the Lord Jesus Christ as God. She did believe as an historical fact that he had lived once upon earth, and was man, and possibly something more than man; that was all. To everything Mr. Gray said she returned the answer, “How do you know it? Is not the Baptist minister a Christian?—and yet you differ. Is not the Unitarian minister a scholar, and does not he pray to God?—and yet you say he is mistaken.” And [Pg 97] when Mr. Gray reminded her of her father, and asked how he would have felt to hear her speak thus, she cried out that she was a woman grown, and it was her own soul she was talking of, and her father could not save that; fathers made very little difference when it was heaven and hell you were thinking about.

“All Christians agree on the vital points,” Mr. Gray said; “at least, all evangelical Protestants.”

“And what about the unevangelical Protestants and the poor Catholics? and who decides what are the vital points? and why cannot you and the Baptists commune together, then?” The eager questions were poured forth, overwhelming the listener.

Mr. Gray shook his head sadly. “I do not think you are in a fit state to speak of such matters, Rose,” he said. “The Lord Jesus Christ died for you. Pray to him that he will himself teach you.”

Rose stood up. “Good-by, Mr. Gray,” she said gently. “I am afraid I have troubled you. Perhaps you will say a prayer for me sometimes.”

“I will indeed, my child,” he answered her, with a very troubled look upon his face; “but you must pray too.”

“Pray?” she repeated to herself mechanically as she went out of the room. “I wonder how they do it, and what they mean by it, and what good it ever does? Pray? Oh! if I only could.”

After this Rose was never seen inside the old meeting-house again. Everybody learned that she was in some religious difficulty; most persons never mentioned the subject to her; some told her not to worry, but to trust; others that it made no manner of difference what she believed, so long as she was sincere. To the one she answered that the only belief she was sincere in was that she did not know what to believe; to the other she made no reply. But to John once she answered wearily: “If you sat here studying, and I told you the house was on fire, and you could smell it burning, would you keep still at your books, and trust and not worry, because other people said it was not your house?”

On one occasion she took up a Protestant Episcopal Book of Common Prayer which she found in her father’s library, and, turning its pages, came to the Apostles’ Creed. It comforted her to read it; she thought it must be a blessed thing to be brought up always with that impressed upon one, and never to know anything else. She had some Protestant Episcopal friends; they seemed very content. But, still idly turning the leaves, she came to the Thirty-Nine Articles, and her eye lighted on the words, “As the Church of Jerusalem, Alexandria, and Antioch, have erred; so also the Church of Rome hath erred, not only in their living and manner of Ceremonies, but also in matters of Faith.” So then even they could not be sure and settled in their belief, she said to herself; for if Rome and Jerusalem and Antioch had erred, why not the Protestant Episcopal Church of America? It was the closing drop of bitterness. John found her that noon in as terrible a state as on the day of Ellen Lawton’s death.

“Rose,” he said gravely, “for some time, as you know, I have doubted the existence of a God; but I will tell you now that my doubts on that point are settled. Wherever and whatever he may be, there surely is one; for I am convinced [Pg 98] that no one could suffer as you do without some reality to cause it.”

The unexpected words brought a ray of comfort; she lifted her poor pale face to his with a look of pitiful longing. “Then, John,” she said, “don’t you think he must know how dreadful the suffering is, and that he will tell me some day where to find him?”

The tears—a man’s rare tears—sprang to John Howson’s eyes. “I surely think he will, Rose,” he answered; and he stooped and kissed her with great compassion. His love was the only comfort Rose had now, and at times she found no comfort even in that.

Fanny Mason came to see her in the afternoon. People did not come to the house as freely as they used to come; Rose showed too plainly that she did not care to see them. But Fanny had been an intimate family friend always; the affection between the two girls was more like that of relatives than of friends. Fanny was not at all intellectual, had never known a shadow of doubt; she ran in to chat and gossip, not waiting for replies, and brought a sense of refreshment, or at least of change, to Rose’s burdened mind.

“To-morrow is Ascension Day,” she said. “The Episcopalians are going to have service and trim their church beautifully—white lilacs and wistaria and lilies of the valley and bunches of forget-me-not. It will be lovely; wouldn’t you like to see it?”

“I am tired and sick of prettiness and pettiness,” Rose said.

“Rose Howson! What next? You used to say that the beautiful satisfied you entirely.”

“I thought it did,” Rose answered sadly. “But where is it? All at once it failed me. Now I see a death’s-head behind all.”

“Rose! Not really?”

Rose almost smiled at Fanny’s scared face. “No, Fanny; not literally, at least. Once, though, I did really see it in the very centre of loveliness, and I cannot forget.”

“I wish you could forget,” Fanny said pityingly. “I wish we could be little girls once more, Rose.”

“No, no!” Rose answered, shuddering. “Not to live all these years over again. But, O Fanny! if I only could forget for ever so short a while!”

The strained, wild passion of her look and manner frightened Fanny; she tried to return to her former chatty lightness. “I’ll tell you what you had better do,” she said, “since you are tired of the beautiful. The Catholics are going to keep Ascension Day too. What a queer set they are! Do you know that they call this the month of Mary, and in their hall her image is dressed in lace and flowers, with candles burning around it all day long? It is not so pretty there, I assure you. Suppose you try that.” Then laughing as if she had suggested the most absurd of absurdities, Fanny went away.

The dark cloud of depression which had come upon Rose that morning, and had lifted slightly at John’s words, shadowed her now more densely than ever. She looked about the room which John’s taste and hers had made so fair. How everything palled upon her! What good was it to try to make life as beautiful as possible, if even in life she ceased to care for the beautiful? The strong, the true, the lasting, was what she needed now.

It seemed to her that there was no hope anywhere. She fled out [Pg 99] into the open air, and walked fast to escape her haunting thoughts; but there was no escape from self. Passing the hall where the Catholics had services, she saw an old woman climbing the steps, remembered Fanny’s words, and followed her. “Since the beautiful fails me,” she thought with a bitter smile, “I will look at what is not beautiful.”

It was a very dingy hall, and uninviting. On the side walls were poor wood-cuts representing the scenes of the Passion. On a plain white wood altar a lamp was burning. Near by hung a colored print of the Saviour, but as Rose had never seen him portrayed before—with his Heart exposed upon his breast, and great blood-drops falling from it. Rose shrank from the sight; it displeased her. Close by the altar-rail was a highly-colored and gaudily-decorated statue of the Blessed Virgin, with flowers distastefully arranged about it. The old woman had fallen on her knees before it, and was praying. Rose wondered at her.

But she was strangely conscious of a peculiar quiet in the place; it soothed her. She sat down on one of the benches, and took up a book lying there. The Key of Heaven it was called; a very soiled and worn book it was; she hardly liked to touch it. It opened at the Apostles’ Creed. “He ascended into heaven,” she read.

Who was “he”? Jesus Christ—God! So Catholics believed as well as Mr. Gray; in this they were agreed. But, oh! what difference did it make? God and heaven were so very far away—if indeed there were a heaven anywhere—that who on earth could tell anything about them? She looked up wearily from the book; again her eyes met the poor print of the Sacred Heart, the poor statue of the holy Mother. Like a flash the thought came into her mind, “Jesus Christ—God—ascended into heaven, and he had a heart like ours, and he had a mother.”

It was not as if she were uttering a belief—whether Jesus Christ was God she did not know; she was not even thinking about it then. But it was as if she had grasped a link in a mighty chain, which, if one other link could be supplied, would solve and settle all doubt for ever. Over and over she said the words, fearing to lose or forget them: “Jesus Christ—God—ascended into heaven, and he had a heart like ours, and he had a mother.” If this was true, how God in heaven must pity her, how he must love her!

And suddenly the tears were falling on Rose’s cheeks. When she had wept last she could not tell; certainly not since Ellen Lawton’s death, though she had often craved the relief of tears. Now they fell softly and plenteously, while she kept repeating the strange formula with a keen sense that it soothed her and she was resting; and oh! she had been so tired. A mother, a mother—how very sweet it must be to have a mother! And a God with a heart like ours, a heart that could be wounded and bleed and suffer sorely; oh! how one must love a God like that.

“John,” she said abruptly, when they were sitting by the study-lamp after tea, “what are Catholics? I mean, what do you know about them?”

“Not much of anything,” he answered in some surprise, “except as one is always coming upon them in history and the papers. Why?”

“What makes them different from Protestants? Aren’t you always coming upon them too?”

[Pg 100] “Not in the same way, child. You know that Protestants are not so—so obtrusive.”

“But why, John? I want to know about them.”

There was an animation in her manner which reminded him of old times; he saw that she was really in earnest, and set himself to answer her in his straightforward, kindly way, glad to notice any change for the better in her tone of mind.

“I have never thought very much about them, Rose,” he said; “but every general reader must come in contact with them somehow, even if, like me, he has not had personal acquaintance with them in society. Of course you know the distinguishing features of confession and transubstantiation, the papacy, the worship of saints and relics, prayer for the dead.”

“Are you sure they are all wrong?”

“Not at all. We were brought up to think them wrong, but I have never looked so deeply into the matter as to make such an assertion on my own judgment; it never has seemed worth while. However, if you care for my opinion, I will tell you what, from all I have read and heard, presents itself to my mind as the peculiar and fatal mark of Catholicism. It is its claim of absolute authority over the bodies and minds and souls of men—a claim which reached its height of tyranny in the declaration of the infallibility of the pope.”

“What does that mean, John?”

“Why, that whatever the pope may say—no matter who he is, remember, if he is only a pope—that thing you and I and every one must believe to be right. However, I mean to be just to all sects. If I have the idea rightly, their exact claim is this: that the pope, as pope, speaking to the whole church as the Head of the Church, cannot be mistaken, simply because God will not permit him to be. Do you understand?”

She was sitting in the full light of the lamp. He noticed the quiet, thoughtful look upon her face; it made him very happy to see it there.

“John,” she said after a minute’s pause, “why should it not be?”

“What, Rose?”

“I mean, if there is a God Almighty, why could he not keep a man from error in teaching, just as easily as he could make a man in the first place?”

“Really,” said John with an amused smile at what he thought her brightness, “I don’t see but that he could; that is, if you give up the idea that we are free agents.”

“But do they say he is not generally a free agent?” Rose asked, like one thinking out a problem. “Only, when God wants to use him to teach the church, he will not let him teach a lie. Why should not an Almighty God do that? O John! look here.”

She hurried to the bookcase, brought back and opened the Book of Common Prayer. “I believe in the Holy Ghost, the Holy Catholic Church,” she read. “Then there are those who do really believe it; who really think that now—to-day—there is a church where God speaks plainly and unmistakably, and always will speak so, and there can be no error?”

“Yes, Rose.”

Was it only the glow of the lamplight shining upon her face? Did his eyes deceive him, or was that creature, radiant with happiness and a bloom of beauty never witnessed there before—was this his poor and fading Rose of that very noon? Once in his life he had heard a [Pg 101] child laugh who had been suddenly and entirely released from excruciating pain—a low, sweet laugh most exquisite to hear in the sense it gave of indescribable relief. Such a laugh he heard now from Rose’s lips, which he had almost feared would never so much as smile again.

“John,” she said exultingly, “I have it! There is a Heavenly Father—God—and he made us all. And there is Jesus Christ—God—who ascended into heaven, and he had a heart like ours, and he had a mother. And there is a Holy Ghost—God—who is with the church, and so she cannot lie. And how those three are one, and how the blood of Christ saves us, we may never be able to explain; but, if there is a God, he will never let his church tell lies or err or make mistakes, and whatever his church says that we ought to believe, whether we understand it or not. And only Catholics claim an infallible voice. John, I am going to try it. I shall speak to the priest to-morrow.”

“You are your own mistress, Rose,” he said gravely. “You can do as you please. I only warn you that after that one act of your own choice, you must give up your reason and will to another.”

The color flashed more brightly in her cheeks. He was amazed as he looked at her; once again the fire was in her eyes, and the brilliant intellect shone in the face that had been dulled so long.

“I shall give up my reason and my will to God,” she said. “It is he who will speak to me, without erring and without lying. I do not expect to be as wise as my Creator, and I am sure I shall be none the worse for it when he who is wisdom itself teaches me. It is God that I am talking about, John, and not a mere man that can make mistakes. I am quite content to yield my intellect and my will to him.”

And then, as suddenly as it had come, the glow faded from her face; she was kneeling down beside him with that look of anguish in her eyes which for so many long weeks had wrung his heart with pity. “You know I have suffered,” she said, “but, John, it is only the outside you have seen; you can’t tell what it has been within. And now a great light is coming—I am sure of it. It is not the love of beauty or anything I used to crave. It is the thing I need and we all need; something stronger than we are: something that cannot by any possibility teach us a lie; something that cannot by any possibility err; something plain to hear and plain to see—infallible! I have not got it yet; I am only on my way to it. If it was in your power to stop me, would you do it?”

“I do not understand you, Rose,” he answered thoughtfully, “nor do I entirely follow your train of reasoning. Still, I grant that for a temperament such as yours has of late disclosed itself to be there is comfort in what you think you see. No, I would not say a word to stop you, my poor child! It goes against the grain to think of one of us becoming a Catholic; but if anything will help you, I shall bless the hand that brings relief.”

She looked full in his face with a look of grave surprise. “I did not think that of you,” she said; “you always have seemed so honest. Don’t you know that nothing in heaven or earth can satisfy me, unless it is the truth? No shams, no half-way things, but something like rock that will never fail. I did not think that of you, John!”

John sat alone and puzzled over [Pg 102] her words that night. “I always have to puzzle things out,” he said. “They never come to me like a flash, as they do to Rose. Stop, though! I am wrong there. She has been months in getting at it, and they were months that almost killed her. Why was it?”

Plainly enough he saw at last why it was. God, the soul, eternity—those things which are invisible—were more real to Rose than the visible things. And should they not be? He knew very well that he would be stung to the quick to be told that his body—his material, tangible, lower nature—had the upper hand in his life. No, his reason, his intellect—something intangible and invisible anyhow, by whatever name you named it—was the governing power. And if so, then why should not One invisible and intangible be the ruler of that, and claim from him more than a merely blameless life and an honest fame; demand submission of his will and reason and thought? John shook his head ruefully; the idea struck home; he did not like it, but there it was.

The next day Rose quietly laid before him her little Catechism, open at the very first section, and John read this:

Question. Who made you?

Answer. GOD.

Q. Why did he make you?

A. That I might know him, love him, and serve him in this world, and be happy with him for ever in the next.

Q. To whose likeness did he make you?

A. To his own image and likeness.

Q. Is this likeness in your body or in your soul?

A. In my soul.

Q. In what is your soul like to God?

A. Because my soul is a spirit endowed with understanding and free will, and is immortal—that is to say, can never die.

Q. In what else is your soul like to God?

A. Because as in God there are three persons and one God, so in man there is one soul and three powers.

Q. Which are the three powers?

A. Will, memory, and understanding.

Q. Which must we take most care of, our body or our soul?

A. Of our soul.

Q. Why so?

A. Because, ‘What doth it profit a man if he gain the whole world and lose his own soul?’

Q. What must we do to save our soul?

A. We must worship God by faith, hope, and charity; that is, we must believe in him, hope in him, and love him with all our heart.

Q. How shall we know the things which we are to believe?

A. From the Catholic Church of God, which he has established by innumerable miracles, and illustrated by the lives and deaths of innumerable saints.”

“John,” said Rose steadily, “be honest with God.”

*  *  *  *  *  

Professor Howson is a name which no one hears now, though it was once supposed that it would rank among those of New England’s noblest scholars. But John Howson teaches still. People had often said of him that he would never marry; that his books and his sister were enough for him. He never did marry; but it was God and the church of God that satisfied him. Once, in a great city, an old friend of his collegiate days, who had not heard of him for years, met him face to face in his dress of a religious, and stopped him in utter amazement.

“John Howson! You are unmistakable, but how is this? I was told of your change, but did not know it had gone so far. Are not your Puritan ancestors groaning in their shrouds, man, because of such doings?”

[Pg 103] The priest returned a courteous answer, and would have turned to other themes, but his friend persisted. Then, not with the old outspoken frankness as of one who feared none, but instead, thoughtfully and humbly as in the very fear of God, there came this reply:

“Once I matched my mind with the mind of God, and judged him, and thought his will to be of no account. It was a great sin, and he saved me from it. After that I could only say, as another in like case once said, ‘I cannot give God less than all.’”

“A great sin?” his friend repeated. “I do not understand that.”

He saw a shade of peculiar awe creep over the countenance before him. “And is it no sin,” John Howson asked in a deep voice, “to hear said in the face of God that there is no God? to have counted your own judgment superior to his? to have given God the lie? One who is now of the mightiest saints thought that he did God service while he fought against him, and afterward he named himself the chief of sinners. But I did not so much as think of the service of God at all in matters of belief.”

“I can’t see the fault in that,” his friend said wonderingly. “If it was murder you had on your conscience, I might sympathize with you; but this!”

“You are fresh from Massachusetts,” said Father Howson, “and it is years since I was there. Do they still count the mind as nobler than the body, and the intellect as among their highest gifts?”

“Yes,” was the proud reply.

“Some time,” returned Father Howson with deep meaning in his tone, “we all shall have to learn that God judges sin of the mind by as terrible a judgment as sin of the body, and that he demands his gifts with usury. Believe me, it is better to forestall that judgment, and to meet that demand here than hereafter.”

And Rose? Long since she learned to say, “I have loved, O Lord, the beauty of thy house; and the place where thy glory dwelleth.” Long since she learned that there is One invisible who is fairer than any child of man, and to him she gave the heart which a wealth of intellectual and earthly loveliness had failed to satisfy. She has learned that there is a nobler Blood than any that the world can boast; His place is with the nobility of an eternal kingdom, whose peculiar marks of honor are poverty, and self-renunciation, and an utter lowliness of obedience, whereby every faculty of one’s nature is brought with a glad free-will into the obedience of Christ. One day the daughter of the Puritans heard another voice than theirs call her by that tender name: “Hearken, O daughter, and see, and incline thy ear: and forget thy people and thy father’s house. And the King shall greatly desire thy beauty: for he is thy Lord God.” Once before, but after sore struggle and heartrending suffering, she had heard that voice. Hearing it again, she rose up joyfully and followed it, as then, without delay.

[Pg 104]



We have already alluded to that feature in the recent ecclesiastical legislation of Prussia which gives to the people the right to choose their pastors, and we have also seen how nobly the Catholics of Germany have thwarted this unholy attempt to create dissension and discord in the church. When it could no longer be doubted that the German bishops were immovable in their allegiance to the pope, Prussia sought, by holding out every possible inducement to apostasy, to create disunion between the priests and the bishops; but in this, too, she met with signal defeat. Nothing, therefore, remained to be done, but to devise measures whereby the administration of ecclesiastical affairs would be placed exclusively in the hands of the laity; since the breaking of the bonds which unite church and state would not have as a result that weakening of ecclesiastical power which is so ardently desired. This Professor Friedberg, in his German Empire and the Catholic Church, expressly states in the following words:

“If the government were to adhere to the plan of a total separation of church and state, what would be the consequence? Would the bishops lose their authority because the state no longer recognized it? Would the parochial system be broken up if unsupported by the state? In a word, would the church lose any of her power? It would argue an absolute want of perception and a total ignorance of Catholic history to affirm that she would. The stream which for centuries has flowed in its own channel does not run dry because its course is obstructed. It only overflows and floods the country. To continue the metaphor, we must first seek with all care to draw off the waters, and to lead them into pools and reservoirs, where what remains will readily evaporate.”

The Protestants of Prussia are opposed to the separation of church and state, because they are well aware that in the present condition of religious opinion in Germany the rationalists and socialists would at once get control of most of the parishes of the Evangelical church, if it were deprived of the support of the government; and, on the other hand, both they and the infidels are persuaded that the Catholic Church is quite able to maintain herself, and even to wax strong, without any help from the temporal power.

“One thing,” says the Edinburgh Review, “the state is quite at liberty to do. The state is not bound to pay or maintain churches or sects which it does not approve. Indeed, if these conditions are annexed to the acceptance of state payment, the church herself would do well to reject the terms. But will Prince Bismarck withdraw the stipend and set the church free? Nothing of the kind. There is no freedom of religious orders or communities in Prussia. The whole spirit of these laws is to make every form of religious belief and organization as subservient to the state as a Prussian recruit is to the rattan of a corporal. That we abhor and denounce as an intolerable oppression; and it is only by the strangest perversion of judgment that any Englishman can have imagined that the cause of true religious liberty was identical with the policy of Prince Bismarck.”[37]

To consent to a separation of [Pg 105] church and state would be a recognition of the independent existence of the church, which Prussia holds to be contrary to the true theory of the constitution of human society in relation to government and religion. This theory is that man exists for the state, to which he owes his supreme and undivided allegiance; whose duty it is to train and govern him for its own service alike in peace and war. All the interests of society, therefore, material, political, educational, and religious, must be subjected to the state, independently of which no organization of any kind ought to be permitted to exist. And in fact the whole spirit of the recent ecclesiastical legislation of Prussia is in perfect consonance with this theory. The Falck Laws deny to the church the right to educate her priests, to decide as to their fitness for the care of souls, to appoint them to or remove them from office; in a word, the right to administer her own affairs, and consequently to exist at all as an organization separate from the state.

It can hardly surprise us that the attempt should have been made to prove that this is in accordance with the teachings of the New Testament.

“The New Testament,” says the British Quarterly, “requires that the Christian shall be a loyal subject of the government under which he lives. ‘Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God; the powers that be are ordained of God: whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God.’”[38]

After quoting several texts from the Epistles of St. Paul, of the same general import, the writer in the British Quarterly continues:

“Now, it is impossible to find in the New Testament any injunctions of obedience to organized ecclesiastical power, like those here given of obedience to the civil government. It is not ecclesiastical authority, nor a corporate ecclesiastical institution, but the personal God, and the individual conscience in its direct personal relations with God, which is set over against an unrighteous demand of the civil authority in the crucial motto of Peter, ‘We ought to obey God rather than men,’ and in the teaching of Christ, ‘Render unto Cæsar the things which are Cæsar’s, and unto God the things which are God’s.’ Of conscience as an ecclesiastical corporation, or of conscience as an imputed or vicarious faculty, determined and exercised by one for another, the ethics of the New Testament have no knowledge.”[39]

It is hard to realize the ignorance or the bad faith of a man who is capable of making such statements as these. Let us take the last words of the gospel of St. Matthew: “And Jesus coming, spoke to them, saying: All power is given to me in heaven and in earth. Going, therefore, teach ye all nations,… teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you; and, behold, I am with you all days, even to the consummation of the world.” Here surely is an organized body of men, receiving from Christ himself the divine command to teach all the nations of the earth their religious faith and duties, which necessarily carries with it the right to exact obedience. But, lest there be any room for doubt, let us hear Christ himself: “He that heareth you, heareth me: and he that despiseth you despiseth me. And he that despiseth me, despiseth him that sent me.”[40]

Again: “And if he will not hear the church, let him be to thee as the heathen and the publican. Amen I say to you, whatsoever you shall [Pg 106] bind upon earth, shall be bound also in heaven: and whatsoever you shall loose upon earth, shall be loosed also in heaven.”[41]

When Peter and John were brought into court and “charged not to speak at all, nor teach in the name of Jesus,” they should have submitted at once, upon the theory that the state has the right to exact supreme and undivided allegiance; but they appealed to their divine commission, just as the bishops of Germany do to-day, and answered, “We cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard.”[42]

And in the council at Jerusalem, “an ecclesiastical corporation” surely, the apostles say: “For it hath seemed good to the Holy Ghost, and to us, to lay no further burden upon you than these necessary things”;[43] plainly indicating and using their right to impose commands and exact obedience. But enough of this. The persecutors of the church to-day are not at all concerned about the teachings of the New Testament. The attempt, however, to make it appear that only Catholics protest against the doctrine of absolute and undivided allegiance to the state is wholly unjustifiable. There is no Protestant sect in England or the United States which would submit to the intervention of the government in its spiritual life and internal discipline. Would the Methodists, or the Baptists, or the Presbyterians permit the state to decide what kind of education their ministers are to receive, or to determine whether they are capable of properly discharging their spiritual duties, or to keep in office by force those whom the church had cast off? They would go out to pray on the hillside and by the river banks rather than submit to such tyranny.

Is not the right of revolution, which in our day, especially outside of the Catholic Church, is held to be divine, based upon the principle of divided allegiance? Practically it is impossible to distinguish between loyalty to the government and loyalty to the state; and no man in this age thinks of questioning the right of rebellion against a tyrannical government. This divided allegiance marks the radical difference between Christian and pagan civilization. Before Christ there was no divided allegiance, because the individual was absorbed by the state, and nothing could have wrested mankind from this bondage but a great spiritual organization such as the Catholic Church; and this, we believe, is generally admitted by our adversaries. They fail to perceive, however, that there is no other institution than the Catholic Church which has the power to prevent the state from again absorbing the individual and destroying all civil and political liberty. If the church could be broken up into national establishments, and the entire control of education handed over to the state, the bringing all men to the servile temper which characterizes the Russians and Protestant Prussians would be only a question of time. Many will be inclined to hold that the general freedom, and even license, of thought of our time would be a sufficient protection against any such danger.

A little reflection, however, will suffice to dispel this illusion. No number of individuals, unless they are organized, can successfully oppose tyranny; and mere speculations or opinions as to the abstract [Pg 107] right of resistance can not stop the march of the state toward absolutism. The most despotic states have often encouraged the most unbounded freedom of thought, and we need not go beyond Prussia for an example. In no country in the world has there been more of what is called free-thinking, nor has any government been more tolerant of wild theories and extravagant speculations; and yet the free-thinkers and illuminati have done nothing to promote the growth of free institutions or to encourage civil or religious liberty. They are without unity or organization or programme. Many of them to-day are the strongest supporters of Bismarckian despotism. Even in 1848 they succeeded only in getting up a mob and evaporating in wild talk.

The divine right of resistance to tyranny would have no sanction or efficacy if it were not kept living in the hearts of men by supernatural religion.

This is thoroughly understood by the advocates of absolutism, who do not trouble themselves about doctrines of any kind, except when they are upheld by organizations, and for this reason all their efforts are directed to the destruction of the organic unity of the church. Had Prince Bismarck succeeded in his attempt to get the Catholic congregations which have been deprived of their priests to elect pastors for themselves, there would have been but another step to open schism, which would have inevitably resulted in favor of Old Catholicism. But, as we have seen, out of more than a hundred parishes, not one has lent itself to the iniquitous designs of the enemies of the church.

Another striking example of the perfect unanimity of thought and action which in Prussia exists between priests and people was given last year when the so-called State-Catholics tried to get up a protest against the encyclical letter of the Pope, in which he declared that the May Laws were not binding upon the consciences of Catholics. All the liberal papers of Germany were loud in praise of this project, which presented the fairest opportunity to Catholic government officials to curry favor by showing their acceptance of the Falck laws; and yet, in spite of every effort that was made, only about a thousand signatures were obtained, most of which were found outside of the eight millions of Prussian Catholics.

Mr. Gladstone, in his article on the “Speeches of Pope Pius IX.,”[44] says of the Catholic clergy that they “are more and more an army, a police, a caste; further and further from the Christian Commons, but nearer to one another and in closer subservience to the pope.” However near the Catholic clergy may be to one another, it certainly shows a great lack of power to see things as they are to maintain that they are losing the hold which more than any other class of men they have always had on the hearts of the people. The persecution in Germany has shown there that inseparable union of priest and people which is to-day as universal as the life of the church. Had there existed any seed of discord, it certainly would have sprung up and flourished in Prussia during the last four or five years.

What circumstances could have been more favorable to such development than those created by the Old Catholics in league with Bismarck? The unprecedented victories over Austria and France had set all [Pg 108] Germany wild with enthusiasm. “Deutschland über alles, über alles in der Welt,” was the refrain of every song. On the other hand, many Catholics, especially in Germany, had been prejudiced and somewhat soured by the false interpretations which were everywhere put on the dogma of papal infallibility. Just at this moment Dr. Döllinger, whose reputation was greater than that of any other German theologian, announced his separation from the church, and at once there gathered around him a party of dissatisfied or suspended priests and rationalistic laymen. Reinkens was made bishop, and the Emperor of Germany publicly prayed that the “certainly correct conviction of the Hochwürdiger Herr Bischof might win ground more and more.” Fortune smiled upon the new religion and everything seemed to promise it the brightest future. What has been the result? In a population of eight millions of Catholics this sect, with the aid of the state, German enthusiasm, and the whole liberal press, has been able to gather only about six thousand adherents; and they are without zeal, without doctrinal or moral unity, having as yet not even dared to define their position towards the Pope. Dr. Döllinger himself has lost interest in the movement, and its most sanguine friends have yielded to despondency. Old Catholicism was, in fact, impossible from the beginning. But two roads open before those who to-day go forth from the fold of the church: the one leads to the Babel and decomposition of Protestant sectarianism, the other to the unbelief of scientific naturalism.

To declare that Christianity is lying disjointed, in shattered fragments, and yet to pretend that human hands, with paste and glue, out of these broken pieces can remake the heavenly vase once filled with God’s spirit of faith, hope, and love, is an idle fancy. Into this patchwork no divine life will come; men will not believe in it, nor will it inspire enthusiasm or the heroic courage of martyrdom. Therefore they who leave the church, their native soil, have indeed all the world before them, and yet no place where they can find rest for their souls.

What the religious policy of the Prussian Liberals is, Herr von Kirchmann, to whom in a previous article we introduced our readers, informs us in the following words:

“The majority of the Liberal representatives are highly-educated men who have fallen out with the Christian churches, because they no longer accept their creed, and therefore hold as a principle that freedom of conscience for the individual is abundantly sufficient to satisfy the religious wants of the people. At best, they would consent to the existence of congregations; any organization beyond this they consider not only unnecessary but hurtful.”

This, then, is the Liberal programme: the individual shall have perfect freedom to believe, as he pleases, in God or the devil; but there shall be no ecclesiastical organization, unless a kind of congregationalism, which, having neither unity nor strength, can be easily rendered harmless by being placed under police supervision. These men of culture, as Herr von Kirchmann says, have fallen out with all the churches; and they are liberal enough to be willing to do everything in their power to make it impossible that any of them should exist at all, since without organic unity of some kind there can be no church, as there can be no state.

[Pg 109] But let us hear what Herr von Kirchmann has to remark upon this subject.

“This view,” he says, “may satisfy those who have reached the high degree of culture of the Liberals; but those who take it utterly ignore the religious wants of the middle and lower classes, and fail to perceive the yearning, inseparable from all religious feeling, for association with persons of like sentiments, in order, through public worship, to obtain the strength and contentment after which this fundamental craving of the human heart longs.”

To the existence of this feeling, and its yearning for the largest possible association, the history of all Christian peoples, down even to the present day, bears witness; for this reason nowhere have men been satisfied with the freedom of the individual, but have ever demanded a church with acknowledged rights and the privilege of free intercommunion.

“To the dangers which would threaten society if religious associations should be broken up, and faith left to the whim of individuals, these highly cultivated men give no heed, because they do not themselves feel the need of such support; but they forget that their security, the very possibility, indeed, of reaching the point at which they stand, rests upon the power of the church over the masses; and should they destroy this by allowing the congregations to break up into atoms, leaving the Christian creed to be fashioned by passion and ever-varying interests, according to the fancy of each and every one, nothing would remain but the brute force of the state, which, without the aid of the internal dispositions of the people, cannot save society from complete dissolution.”[45]

Herr von Kirchmann, then, adds his testimony to that of many other observers who, though they do not believe in the divine origin and truth of the Christian religion, yet hold that its acceptance by the masses as a system of belief, received on the authority of a church, is essential to the preservation and permanence of our civilization. This is a subject to which we Americans might with great profit give our thoughts.

As Emerson, who is probably our most characteristic thinker, has declared that he would write over the portal of the Temple of Philosophy WHIM, American Protestantism seems more and more inclined to accept this as the only satisfactory, or indeed possible, shibboleth in religion. The multiplication of sects holding conflicting creeds, while it has weakened faith in all religious doctrines, has helped on the natural tendency of Protestantism to throw men back upon their own feelings or fancies for their faith. This, of course, results in the breaking up even of congregations into atoms of individualism, and will, if not counteracted, necessarily destroy our character as a Christian people; and for us it is needless to say Christianity is the only possible religion.

Our statesmen—politicians may be the more proper word—though not irreligious, lack grasp of mind and depth of view, else they could not fail to perceive, however little they may sympathize with the doctrines or what they conceive to be the social tendencies of the Catholic Church, that just such a strong and conservative Christian organism as she is, is for us an indispensable political requirement. That none of the leading minds of the country should have taken this view is a sad evidence of want of intellectual power or of moral courage. The most that any of them feel authorized in saying in our favor is that a country which tolerates free-love, Mormonism, and the joss-house of [Pg 110] the Chinaman ought not, if consistency be a virtue, to persecute Catholics. In spite of appearances which mislead superficial observers, we are the most secular people in the world. No other people is so ready to sacrifice religious to material interests; no other people has ever to an equal extent banished all religious instruction from its national education; no other people has ever taken such a worldly view of its religion. The supernatural in religion is lost sight of by us, and we value it chiefly for its social and æsthetic power. The popular creed is that religion is something which favors republicanism, promotes the exploitation of the material resources of the globe, softens manners, and makes life comfortable.

The proposition to tax church property shows that a large portion of the American people have ceased to believe in religion as a moral and social power. A church is like a bank or theatre or coal-mine—something which concerns only those who have stock in it, and has nothing whatever to do with the public welfare. The school-house occupies quite other ground. The country is interested in having all its citizens intelligent; this is for the general good; but whether they believe in God or the soul is a matter of profound indifference, unless, possibly, to themselves, since this can in no way affect the progress or civilization of the American people. This is evidently the only possible philosophy for those who would tax church property. The popular contempt for theology encouraged by nearly all Protestant ministers is another evidence of the tendency to religious disintegration. There is but little danger that any church will ever get a controlling influence in the national life of this country; our peril lies in the opposite direction; and that so few of those who think should see this is to us the saddest sign of the times; but those who do recognize it cannot help knowing that the Catholic Church is the strongest bulwark against this flood-tide.

The social dangers of an open persecution of the Catholic Church are most clearly seen in Prussia to-day. Since the German chancellor entered upon his present course of violence five bishops and fifteen thousand priests have been imprisoned or fined, and about the same number of laymen have suffered for daring to speak unfavorably of these proceedings. Never before, probably, have the police been so generally or constantly employed in arresting men who are loved and venerated by the people, and whose only crime is fidelity to conscience. The inevitable consequence of this is that the officers of the government come to be looked upon, not as the ministers of justice, but as the agents of tyranny and oppression, which must, of course, weaken respect for authority. These coercive measures, from the nature of things, tend only to confirm the Catholics in their conscientious convictions, and the government is thereby instigated to harsher methods of dealing with this passive resistance. The number of confessors of the faith increases, the enthusiasm and devotion of the people are heightened, and it becomes an honor and a glory to be made a victim of tyranny. The feeling of disgrace which is attached to the penalties for violation of law is more efficacious in repressing crime than the suffering which is inflicted; but this feeling is destroyed, or rather changed, into one of an opposite character in the minds of the people when they behold their venerated bishops [Pg 111] and much-loved priests dragged to prison for saying Mass or administering the sacraments. No amount of reasoning, no refinement of logic, can ever convince them that there can be anything criminal in the performance of these sacred functions. In this way the ignominy which in the public mind follows conviction for crime is wiped away, and the sacredness of the law itself endangered.

This alone is sufficient to show how blind and thoughtless Prince Bismarck has been in making war upon the Catholic Church just at the moment when wise counsels would have led him to seek to add the strength of reverence and respect to the enthusiasm with which the creation of the new empire had been hailed. The spoilt child of success, wounded pride made him mad. How serviceable he might have found the moral support of the Catholic clergy Herr von Kirchmann has informed him.

“I myself,” he says, “from 1849 to 1866, with the exception of some intervals, lived in Upper Silesia, a wholly Catholic province, and, as the president of the Criminal Senate of a Court of Appeals, had the fullest opportunity to study the moral and religious state of the people, which in nothing is so truly seen as in those circumstances out of which spring offences against the law. Now, although this province of more than a million of men was thoroughly Catholic and entirely in the hands of the clergy; although the school system was still very imperfect, and the population, with the exception of the landowners and the inhabitants of the large cities, not speaking the German language, was thereby deprived of culture and of intercourse with the German provinces, yet can I unhesitatingly affirm that the moral condition of the people was in no way worse than in Saxony or the Margravate where formerly I held similar official positions. The number of crimes was rather less, the security of person and of property greater, and the relations between the different classes of society far more peaceable and friendly than in the provinces to which I have just made allusion. The socage and heavy taxes pressed hard upon the peasantry; nevertheless in 1848 insurrections against the landlords were not more frequent here than elsewhere. It was unquestionably the powerful influence of the clergy which, in spite of so many obstacles, gave to the people their moral character, and produced the general contentment and obedience which reflected the greatest honor upon the whole population. The vice of drunkenness, through the agency of temperance societies established solely by the priests, had been in an almost marvellous manner rooted out from among the people, and the general welfare made manifest progress. By means of my official and political position I had the opportunity to make the acquaintance of a large number of the pastors and curates, and still to-day I recall with pleasure my intercourse with these men, for the most part cultivated, but above all distinguished by their thorough gentleness of character. They were firm in maintaining the rights of their church, they were filled with the excellence of their mission, but they never thought of thwarting the civil authorities; on the contrary, they found in the clergy a great and efficacious support, so that this province needed fewer protective and executive officials than others.”[46]

No enlightened and fair government has anything to fear from the influence of men who are as firm in upholding the authority of the state as they are in asserting their own liberty of conscience; who will neither do wrong nor tamely submit to it. If, in the social, religious, and political crisis through which the nations of Christendom are passing, sound reason is ultimately to prevail and civilization is to be preserved, the necessity of an institution like the Catholic Church will come to be recognized by all who are capable of serious thought. [Pg 112] The divided allegiance, the maintenance of the supremacy of conscience, is essential to the preservation of the principle of authority in society. If it were possible to nationalize religion by placing all churches under state control, the authority of the state would necessarily become that of brute force, and would in consequence be deprived of its sacredness. The respect of Christian nations for the civil power is a religious sentiment; and if the church could cease to be, there would be a radical revolution in the attitude of the people toward the state. In Europe even now, in consequence of the progress of unbelief, respect for authority and the duty of obedience have been so far destroyed in the minds and hearts of the masses that government is possible only with the support of immense standing armies, which help on the social dissolution; and with us things would be in a still worse condition, were it not that the vast undeveloped resources of the country draw off the energies which else would be fatal to public order. Our strength and security are rather in our physical surroundings than in our moral resources. Our greatest moral force, during the century of our existence, has been the universal veneration of the people for the Constitution, which was regarded with a kind of religious reverence; but this element of strength is fast wasting away and will not pass over as a vital power into the second century of our life. The criticisms, the amendments, the patchings, which the Constitution has been made to suffer, have, more than civil strife, debased it to the common level of profane parchments and robbed it of the consecration which it had received in the hearts of the people The change which has taken place, though it have something of the nature of growth and development, is yet, unquestionably, more a breaking down and dissevering. The Catholic Church, by the reverence which she inspires for institutions, is, and in the future will be yet more, the powerful ally of those who will stand by the Constitution as our fathers made it.

Our statesmen, we know, are in the habit of looking elsewhere for the means which are to give permanence to our free institutions. The theory now most in favor is that universal education is the surest safeguard of liberty, and it is upon this more than upon anything else that we, as a people, rely for the perpetuity of our form of government. This hope, we cannot but think, is based upon an erroneous opinion of the necessary tendency of intellectual culture; which is to increase the spirit of criticism, and consequently, by dissatisfying the mind with what is, to direct it continually to new experiments, with the hope of finding something better. Now, though this may be well enough in the realms of speculation, and may be a great help to the progress of science, it most assuredly does not tend either to beget or to foster reverence for existing institutions of any kind; and this same mental habit which has already made American Protestantism so fragmentary and contradictory will beyond doubt weaken and, unless counteracted, destroy the unity of our political life. This is a question which does not concern us alone; with it is bound up the future of the human race. If the American experiment of government by the people fails, all hope of such government perishes. If we allow our personal prejudices to [Pg 113] warp our judgment in a matter so catholic and all-important, no further evidence of our unfitness for the great mission which God seems to have assigned us is needed. Unfortunately, we are at the mercy of politicians for whom all other questions than the present success of party have no interest, and who therefore flatter the passions of the people instead of seeking to enlighten them; and the insane hatred and fear of the church which the Protestant masses have inherited from the Old World prevents them from seeing what a source of strength and bond of union is her strong and firmly-knit organism in a social state like ours, in which there are so many elements of dissolution and disintegration.

Herr von Kirchmann, though, as we have seen, not a Catholic nor a Christian, is yet too profound a statesman not to recognize the supreme social importance of the church to the modern world.

“Human society,” he says, “cannot do without the principle of authority, of obedience, of respect for law, any more than it can do without the principle of individual freedom; and now that the family has been shoved into the background, there remains to uphold this principle of authority only one great institution, and that is the Christian churches, and, above all, the Catholic Church.

“The Reformation has so filled the Evangelical Church with the principle of self-examination and self-determination that she cannot at all take upon herself the mission of protectress of authority, of respect for law, as law; which is essential to modern society. She is also too far removed from the laity, and lacks those special institutions which would enable her energetically to uphold this principle.

“The same is true of all reform parties within the church, and must be applied to the Old Catholics, should they succeed in acquiring any importance. The Roman Catholic Church alone must be considered the true mother of respect for authority. She does not permit the individual to decide in matters of faith and discipline; and she most perfectly realizes the essence of religion, which cannot proceed from the individual, but must have its source in the commandments of God. In the bishops, in the councils, in the pope, the individual finds authorities who announce to him religious truth, and by the administration of the sacraments bring him nearer to God. Changes in faith and worship which, with the progress of science and of general culture, become necessary, are here withdrawn from the disputes of the learned and the criticism of individuals; in the councils and in their head, the pope, an institution is found by which modifications may be permitted without shaking faith in the teachings of the church.

“In the position of the priest toward the laity this relation of the individual to the church becomes most intimate, and numerous special ordinances cultivate the spirit of obedience and respect for the commands of ecclesiastical superiors, while they also serve the ends of Christian charity and benevolence. It ought not, indeed, to be denied that this repression of individual self-determination and this fostering of obedience may be carried too far, and to some extent has, in the Catholic Church, been exaggerated, as in civil society the cultivation of individual freedom and the repression of authority have produced an opposite excess; but precisely through the interaction of these extremes will the true mean be obtained; and therefore ought the state to seek in the Catholic Church that powerful institution which alone, by virtue of her whole organization, is able to ward off the dangers which threaten society from the exaggeration of the principle of individual freedom. But to do this the church must be left in the possession of her constitution as it has hitherto existed, and the state, consequently, should not interfere with her external power any further than its own existence demands. In this respect the principle of individual freedom which pervades all modern life is so powerful an auxiliary of the state that no fear of the influence of the church need be felt, of which a little too much is far less dangerous to society than too little.

“These are considerations, indeed, which are not in harmony with the programme [Pg 114] of modern liberalism, and will therefore have but little weight with those who swim with the current of the time; nevertheless, if we look around us, we perceive many evidences of the instinctive feeling of human society that in the Catholic Church may be found a protection for the harmony of social life which now no longer exists elsewhere. Only in this way can we explain the rapid growth of the Catholic Church in her strictly hierarchical constitution in America, and the increasing Catholic movement in England, together with the efforts of the Established Church to draw nearer to the Catholic; and this tendency would be far more pronounced had it not to contend against historical reminiscences which in England are more vivid than elsewhere. Similar reasons influence the government of France to seek rather to strengthen than to weaken the power of the church; and in this matter the unbelieving Thiers has not acted otherwise than the religious MacMahon.

“After the principle of authority had been shaken by revolutions and an unhappy war in France more than in any other country, the people knew not where to seek help, except in the fostering of religion and the support of the Catholic Church. Like grounds prevent Italy and Austria from coming to an open rupture with the church; they prefer to yield somewhat in the execution of the laws rather than suffer themselves to be deprived of her indispensable aid. Similar tendencies exist in the other German governments, and also among the rich and powerful families of Germany and Prussia. Everywhere, even where these families are not adherents of the Catholic faith, they feel that this church is a fortress against the anarchy of individual freedom which should be defended and not destroyed. The members of these families are not blind to the defects of the church; but they know that in the present age these are the least to be feared, while her power against the self-exaltation of the individual is indispensable to modern society. It is altogether a mistake to attribute this bearing of the wealthy classes of all civilized nations towards the church to selfish motives or to the cunning of priests; these motives may, as in all great things, slip in in isolated cases; but this whole movement in Europe and America springs from deeper causes—from causes which lie at the very bottom of our common nature, which can neither suffer the loss of freedom nor yet do without order and authority.

“About every ten years we are assured that, if only this or that is reached, the Catholic Church will of herself fall to pieces. Never has the attempt to bring about this consummation been made with more spirit and energy than in the literature and political constitutions of the last century; and yet this church lives still in our day, and what she has lost in temporal sovereignty is doubly and trebly made up to her in the growing number of her children and the gradually-increasing insight into the significance of her mission for human society.

“For this reason the present conflict with the church in Prussia ought not to be pushed so far as to bring her power as low as the state has brought that of the Evangelical Church. If the Catholic Church is to fulfil the great social mission which we have just described, and which consists essentially in her maintaining an equilibrium between freedom and obedience, which is indispensable to society and the state, her external power and internal organization must not be interfered with in a way to render the accomplishment of this exalted mission impossible.”[47]

Herr Joerg, the editor of one of the first reviews of Germany, has said that Prince Bismarck has done more to strengthen and make popular the Catholic cause in the empire than the two hundred Jesuits whom he has exiled could have done in half a century. This, we believe, is coming to be generally recognized. The war on the church was begun with loud boastings. Men of high position declared that in two years not a Catholic would be left in Germany. The prince chancellor disdained to treat with the Pope or the bishops, and defiantly entered upon his course of draconic legislation to compel to his stubborn will the consciences of eight millions of Prussian subjects. He is not able to [Pg 115] conceal his disappointment. With glory enough to satisfy the most ambitious he could not rest content, but must court defeat. All his hopes have fallen to the ground. The Old Catholics who were to have been his most powerful allies have sunk into the oblivion of contempt; the priests whom he expected to throw off the authority of their bishops have not been found; the uprising of the laity against their pastors has not taken place; the bishop who was to have put himself at the head of a German Catholic Church has not appeared; the Falck laws have not served the purpose for which they were enacted, nor have the numerous supplementary bills met with better success. He has indeed made his victims personally most uncomfortable; bishops and priests he has cast into dungeons, monks and nuns he has driven forth from their homes and their country to beg the bread of exile; laymen he has sent to jail for speaking and writing the truth; but with all this he has not advanced one step towards the end he aims at. He has not made a breach in the serried Catholic phalanx. His legislation has nearly doubled the number of Catholic representatives in the parliament; it has given new life and wider influence to the Catholic press; it has welded the union of bishops, priests, and people, and bound all closer to the Pope. From their dungeons the bishops and priests come forth and are received in triumph like conquering heroes; imprisonments and fines of Catholic editors serve only to increase the circulation of their journals. In the meantime the radicals and revolutionists are gaining strength, crime is becoming more common, and the laws aimed at the church are beginning to tell upon the feebler organizations of Protestantism. Since the law on civil marriage has been passed comparatively few contract matrimony in the presence of the Protestant ministers; great numbers refuse to have their children baptized or to have the preachers assist at the burial of the dead. The government has become alarmed, and quite recently circulars have been sent to the officials charged with carrying out the law on civil marriage, in which they are instructed to inform the contracting parties that the law does not abrogate the hitherto existing regulation concerning ecclesiastical marriage, and that they are still bound to present themselves before the clergyman and to have their children baptized as formerly. The service of the police, we need scarcely say, is not required to induce the Catholics to seek the blessing of the church upon their marriage contracts or to have their children baptized.

The result of all this is that many wise and large-minded men, like Von Hoffmann, Von Gerlach, and Von Kirchmann, have lost all sympathy with the policy of Bismarck towards the Catholic Church, as well as confidence in its success. They now thoroughly understand that, were it possible to destroy the church, this would be an irreparable misfortune for the fatherland. The state needs the church more than the church the state. She can live with Hottentots and Esquimaux, but without her neither liberty nor culture can be permanent. It must also be humiliating to Prince Bismarck to see with what little success those who have sought to ape him have met. Mr. Gladstone, from faith in the chancellor, thought to bolster up a falling party by “expostulating” with the Pope, and he has succeeded only in finding himself [Pg 116] in the company of Newdegate and Whalley. President Grant has been made to believe that the Pope is such a monstrous man that by means of him even a third term might become possible; and he will retire to the obscurity of private life with the stigma of having sought to stir up religious strife for the furtherance of his own private interest.

[37] April, 1874, p. 195.

[38] Romans xiii. 1, 2.]

[39] The British Quarterly, January, 1875, p. 17.

[40] Luke x. 16.

[41] Matthew xviii.. 17, 18.

[42] Acts iv. 20.

[43] Acts xv. 28.

[44] The London Quarterly Review, January, 1875, p. 160.

[45] Der Culturkampf, § 28, 29.

[46] Culturkampf, pp. 33, 34.

[47] Culturkampf pp. 44-47.


“Was ever sorrow like, unto my sorrow?”

There is in the Imperial Library at Paris an old copy of the gospels written on parchment, evidently of the fourteenth or fifteenth century, with the arms of Colbert on the cover. It once belonged to the church of Albi. At the end of the gospels is the Planctus, or Complainte de Notre Dame in the langue d’Oc—the old language of Southern France—full of naïve piety and charming simplicity. No one could hear unmoved the touching tone of reproach and grief it breathes throughout. It is in thirty-two stanzas, the lines of which, monotonous and melancholy, are like the repeated tollings of a funeral bell. The last words of each verse are an expression of exhausted grief—the dying away of a voice drowned in tears.…

It is entitled: “Here begins the Plaint in honor of the Passion of our Lord Jesus Christ and the sorrow of his most holy Mother.”

“Planh sobre planh! dolor sobre dolor!
Cel e terra an perdut lor senhor,
E yeu mon filh, el solelh sa clardor;
Jusieus lan mort an grande desonor.
Ay filh, tan mortal dolor!”[48]

The cry of Ay filh!—“Alas! my Son”—at the end of every verse is like a sob that breaks the plaint. This long wail of maternal grief, which no translation fully renders, was doubtless sung round many an effigy of the dead Christ in the dim old churches of Languedoc centuries ago, just as the people of the Pyrenees at this day gather around their dead to weep and improvise a dirge of sorrow. We were particularly touched at coming across this ancient document; for it seemed to echo the devotion to the Mother of Sorrows which we had found written all over southwestern France. Everywhere in this Terra Mariæ are churches and oratories in honor of Notre Dame de Pitié, most of which are monuments of an age as sorrowful as the holy mystery they commemorate.

It is remarkable how popular devotion turned to the Mater Dolorosa in the sixteenth century, when Christ seemed bleeding anew in this land of altars ruined and priests slaughtered by the Huguenots. Numberless are the legends of the apparitions of Our Lady of Sorrows in those sad days, which led to the erection of a great number of churches wherein she is represented holding her divine Son taken down from the cross—one of the [Pg 117] most affecting appeals that can be made to the human heart. For the long, sad procession of mourners who go weeping and groaning through this valley of tears—gementes et flentes in hac lacrymarum valle—constitutes the greater part of the human race. The widow, the orphan, the friendless, the infirm, the needy, and the laborer with little or no joy in life, when they turn towards Mary, love to find her at the foot of the cross in mute sorrow over the inanimate form of her Son, or with the wheel of swords in her bleeding heart, or some other attribute of human infirmity. Hence the names given to these mountain chapels by the sorrowful as a mark of their trust in this sweet type of grief: Notre Dame des Larmes, Notre Dame des Souffrances, de la Consolation, de l’Espérance—names which have balm in their very sound. Above all is the title which seems to include all other sorrows—Notre Dame de Pitié—the most common among the perils of the mountain streams and on the broad moors of the Landes. There are innumerable Pietàs, or Pitiés, all through this region—on the sands of the seashore below Bayonne, where the sailors go to pray before embarking on the perfidious waves of the Bay of Biscay; in dangerous mountain passes, as in the oratory of Pène-Taillade beyond Arreau; among country groves, as in the lone sanctuary near Lannemezan to which the husbandman resorts to be spared the ravages of hail among his vines and wheat-fields; in the valleys of Bigorre; on the Calvary of Betharam; on the heights near Pau; and at Goudosse, where the poor goîtreux of the mountains go to pray. Yes, the shadow of this great type of sorrow extends over all the land. There are several chapels of Notre Dame de Pitié in the ecclesiastical province of Auch that are particularly renowned. One of these is the beautiful chapel of Notre Dame de Garaison, in the Diocese of Tarbes, dear to every Catholic heart in the land, embosomed among the hills of the Hautes Pyrénées like a lily in the green valley, whose Madonna was solemnly crowned in 1865, by the authorization of Pope Pius IX., in the presence of forty thousand people. At the very entrance is a Pietà, melting the heart with the sight of the pale, inanimate Christ and Mary’s incomparable woe.

Ay filh, tan mortal dolor!

Within are dim Gothic arches, large gilt statues of the twelve apostles, and the holy image of the Mère des Douleurs, before which we went to pray amid devout pilgrims. At one side is the fountain of healing waters; behind is a garden of roses; and on the other side are cloisters shaded with acacias, in the centre of which is the white Madonna standing serene and holy in the peaceful solitude with outstretched arms, as if calling on all:

“Dites, dites une oraison
A la Vierge de Garaison
Vous qui en ces lieux amène la souffrance,
Bon pèlerins,
 Accablés de chagrins,
Pour que vos cœurs s’ouvrent à l’espérance.
Dans ce séjour,
 Dites avec amour,
Dites, dites une oraison,
A la Vierge de Garaison!”[49]

Near Gimont, in the department of Gers, is Notre Dame de Cahuzac, [Pg 118] in a pleasant valley on the left bank of a stream that bathes the walls of the church. Like all places of pilgrimage in this land of favored sanctuaries, it has its old legend, which is associated with a venerable elm, the relic of past ages. It was in the sixteenth century when a young shepherd, leading his flock at an early hour to a distant pasture, saw an elm in a garden by the wayside surrounded by an extraordinary light. The amazed youth fell on his knees—a spontaneous act in those days when the heart turned naturally to God at the moment of terror—stammered a prayer, and, unable to turn his eyes away, saw through the branches aflame, but not consumed, the wondrous form of Our Lady of Pity. As soon as he recovered his self-possession he ran to the Cistercian abbey at Gimont, and the monks, going to the tree, found the sacred, image of Mary, which they bore in procession to their church with songs of praise. The next day it was gone, and they found it again in the favored elm. Three times they bore it to their church: three times it returned to the tree. It was no use to contend with divine Providence. The garden was then purchased and an oratory built on the spot—a graceful monument of rural piety, to which one generation after another has resorted for spiritual favors and physical aid. It has its silver lamps and vessels; its walls are hung with golden hearts, valuable medals, and other offerings from the grateful votary. There is great devotion among Catholics to the one leper who returned to give thanks.

Cahuzac became renowned throughout the kingdom and attracted pilgrims of the highest distinction—lords, bishops, and cardinals. The archbishops of Auch, who bore the high title of Primate of the two Navarres, when they took possession of their see, came to place themselves under the protection of Our Lady of Cahuzac. Popes granted indulgences to the chapel, which thousands of pilgrims came annually to win—not only peasants from the neighboring fields, but the nobles of the land in penitential garb, with bare feet bleeding from the roughness of the way.

This holy sanctuary was saved, as it were, by a miracle from the Huguenots who came to lay it waste three centuries ago, the leader being struck down, as by an invisible hand, at the very door, to the consternation of his followers. It was closed at the Revolution, but again spared; and when better days arrived, it was reopened to popular devotion. The Abbé de Cahuzac, a young nobleman who had renounced the honors of the world and received holy orders at Rome, became chaplain of the church that bore his name. He served it with zeal and affection for more than thirty years, and at his death bequeathed a part of his fortune for its support, leaving behind him a holy memory still dear to the people.

A confraternity of Notre Dame de Pitié was founded in this chapel by Dom Bidos, abbot of Gimont, under the patronage of Cardinal de Polignac, which became celebrated in the province and included all ranks of society. Men of illustrious birth, beside the man of humblest condition, bore the lighted torch before the revered image of Cahuzac in the public processions.

The arches and walls of the church were, under Henry IV., covered with rich paintings, which [Pg 119] in time became half effaced. The church has been recently restored, and attracts great numbers of pilgrims from the neighboring departments. It consists of a nave and five chapels. Over the main altar is the revered statue, full of sweet, sad grace, at the feet of which so many have sought consolation. On one of the capitals in the nave is sculptured an episode from the old Roman du Renard, in which the fox takes the guise of a preacher to a barnyard auditory, who do not perceive the store of provisions already accumulated in the hood thrown back on his shoulders. This species of satire was one of the liberties of former times of which artists largely availed themselves.

Another chapel of Notre Dame de Pitié is at Sainte-Gemme, built against the walls of an old feudal castle—a cave-like oratory of the thirteenth century, beneath a square tower, simple, antique, severe. Its gilt statue of the Mother of Sorrows and a few old frescos of the Passion are the sole ornaments, unless we except the arms of the old lords of Sainte-Gemme, carved among the arches. When the castle was besieged by the Protestants in the sixteenth century, the châtelaine and her attendants betook themselves to the foot of the altar, where they prayed with fervor while the lord of the place defended it against the attacks of the enemy. A superhuman power seemed to aid him. After a few days the siege was raised, and he came, with his handful of brave followers, to ascribe the deliverance to Our Lady of Pity. The chapel became celebrated, and so great at times was the affluence of the pilgrims that services were held in the court of the castle before an altar set up beneath a venerable elm. Every Friday, in the good old times, the chaplain piously read the Passion according to St. John in this chapel, and then sang on his knees the Stabat Mater with the verse,

“Quando corpus morietur,
Fac ut animæ donetur
Paradisi gloria,”

to obtain a happy end for the dying.

In the middle of the sixteenth century Dominique de Cuilhens was appointed chaplain of Sainte-Gemme. He was born in the vicinity—in the old manor-house of Cuilhens, which falling into his possession in the year 1569, he at once drew up a will in which he founded the little hospital of St. Blaise for the poor, and bequeathed to the needy of the parish the annual sum of forty-five livres, which the magistrates of the place, who were the executors, continued to pay till 1789.

In 1648 the lord of Sainte-Gemme, about to join the royal army in Catalonia, made a will, in which, in order to encourage morality in the town, greatly weakened by the troubles of the times, he gave the interest of a thousand livres, to be distributed annually by the rector and consuls of the place to girls of irreproachable morals about to marry—a legacy regularly paid till 1792.

The widow of his brother, Marie d’Antras, in her will ordered her body to be buried in the sanctuary where the lords of Sainte-Gemme had been buried since the ninth century, and left extensive domains for the foundation and support of a chapel adjoining, to be served by three chaplains, who were to say two requiem Masses a week for her soul, a De Profundis at the end of every Mass, and perform a funeral service on the anniversary of her death. Moreover, the parishioners [Pg 120] were to be summoned by the ringing of the bell every Saturday at a late hour to join in the Litany of the Blessed Virgin, which the three chaplains were to say aloud, adding a De Profundis in her memory. Out of these domains were to be paid various legacies to relatives and domestics. They were seized by the revolutionary government and never restored to the church. The parish made an effort to save the legacy of the old lord to poor girls of good morals, but in vain. The chapel of Our Lady of Pity was also closed, and the government has never allowed it to be reopened for public worship, except during Passion Week, when Mass is still offered at the ancient altar and many come here to pray and receive the Holy Eucharist.

There is another chapel of Pitié near Puycasquier, the ancient Podium Asterii—the height of Astier—an old town of the middle ages. This is a votive chapel called Notre Dame de Gaillan, built to commemorate the cessation of a pestilence that once raged in the neighborhood, where on Whitmonday a dozen parishes around still come in procession to hear Mass, deposit their offering, and place under the protection of Mary their hopes for the coming harvests. It stands a short distance from the town, hidden in a deep, narrow valley between two streams, in the centre of a churchyard where lie whole generations of the dead. It is a long, narrow chapel with arches of the fourteenth century, not beautiful in style or ornament, but dear to a grateful people, who come here in procession on the twenty-seventh of April to fulfil the vow of their fathers when delivered from the plague. One would think the benefit only of yesterday, from the enthusiasm manifested when this day comes. The bells ring out joyfully from the very dawn. All the men, women, and children in the vicinity gather together, and, under the guidance of their curé, proceed to Notre Dame de Gaillan, the glory of Puycasquier, chanting the litany as they go. As soon as they reach the edge of the hill, where they can look down on their beloved sanctuary, they all fall on their knees and chant three times the invocation: Sancta Maria, Mater Pietatis, ora pro nobis! The Libera is sung as they pass through the graves in the churchyard, and the priest intones the Oremus when he comes to the door, and gives the absolution. Then they enter the church with the joyful Regina cœli, lætare, as if calling on the Virgin of Sorrows to rejoice over the resurrection of her Son at a season when all nature rises to newness of life. There is now a solemn pause of silent prayer. At eight o’clock precisely the priest reverently takes down the miraculous Virgin from its niche, and places it on a kind of trestle amid a profusion of flowers beneath a rich canopy. The litany is begun, and four notables of the town carry the statue to the churchyard gate, where it is received by four ploughmen whose privilege alone it is to carry the Virgin on these important occasions. Followed by the people in procession, accompanied by the local authorities in official array, and frequently escorted by the national guard under arms, they climb the heights of Puycasquier, winding around the hill till they arrive at the opposite side of the town, which they enter and proceed to the church, singing the martyrs’ hymn in honor of SS. Abdon and Sennen, the patrons of the parish—two noble Persians, [Pg 121] martyred in the early ages, who are honored in four country churches at about equal distances from Auch, devotion to whom became popular in France after their bodies were brought to Soissons in the time of Louis le Débonnaire. The Virgin of Gaillan is thus borne all around the parish, and then reinstated in her niche with acclamations.

Among other usages peculiar to Puycasquier which have come down from ancient times are two that are somewhat curious. On Easter Eve, at one o’clock in the afternoon, the mayor and sub-mayor, in all the majesty of their village consequence set off by their official regalia, proceed in solemn state to the presbytery, accompanied by all the town officers, the bells ringing, as is due, at a haute volée. The curé, thus notified, stands ready to receive them in the wide-open door. He invites them to enter, and hastens to present wine as a proof of his hospitality, which is drunk to the peace and happiness of the people under their rule. The two magistrates now pray the curé to accompany them to the church to sing the Regina cœli, and, placing themselves at his side, they escort him through the crowd, which by this time has assembled, to the holy place, where, in surplice and stole and pluvial, he intones the Easter hymn, which is caught up by the whole congregation. The curé then places himself once more between the powers that be and proceeds to the chapel of Gaillan, followed by a crowd of all ages and conditions in holiday attire, full of animation and joy, but not immoderate in their gayety. The Libera and Regina cœli are here chanted as on the twenty-seventh of April, after which they return to the parish church to sing the latter a third time at the Virgin’s altar. The day of the Resurrection thus duly announced, the curé is conducted by the mayor to the residence of the latter, where the table is loaded with cakes of all kinds, especially the tourteau[50] and paëte,[51] by no means unacceptable to appetites sharpened by so long a walk in the fresh mountain air. There is then an exchange of Gascon wit still more savory, with which the festival ends.

Another custom no less ancient and peculiar is connected with the Mass at Gaillan on St. Agatha’s day, which at least one member out of every family in the parish attends, to implore a blessing on the fruits of the earth. Before beginning the Holy Sacrifice, the curé solemnly blesses the loaves brought by his parishioners, and after the Mass is over they cut them in pieces, and, going to their fields, bury them here and there in the ground, setting up a little cross, often a mere thornbush twisted into proper shape.

Picasqué, petito bilo, gran clouqué—Puycasquier, small town, great belfry—is a proverbial expression associated with the town on account of the fine old tower, visible all over the neighboring country. It was fortunately spared when the place was ruined by the Huguenots three centuries ago. Around its base are held great fairs several times a year, the resort of all the people in the vicinity.

The baptistery of the parish church has a curious font of lead which is very ancient—probably more than a thousand years old, from the style. It is cylindrical in form and covered with bas-reliefs like the lead font at Strassburg. There is a swan—emblem of the purity of the soul after baptism. [Pg 122] An archer stands ready to attack it as soon as it issues from the regenerating waters, but the arrow he lets fly so vigorously is received by a lion passant in his shoulder, which marches resolutely on, undisturbed by the evil adversary. It is the Lion of the tribe of Judah, who saves the soul by his power and bleeding wounds.

The votive chapel of Notre Dame de la Croix, at Marciac, is another pious monument of Mary’s protection during a great pestilence. Over the doorway is the following inscription:

Marciacam cum dira lues subverteret urbem,
Ipsamet hanc jussit mater sibi Virgo dicari
Sub crucis auspiciis gnatique insignibus ædem.[52]

It is a pretty church, with an altar of jasper and tabernacle of white marble, over which is the Mother of Sorrows holding the body of the crucified Saviour. It was built at the repeated instances of a poor woman, who was at first treated as visionary or mad, because she asserted a divine mission for the cessation of the pestilence, which had carried off eight hundred and four persons in a short time. Her persevering piety was at length rewarded by the foundation of the chapel and the deliverance of her townsmen from the plague, which is to this day commemorated. Pope Innocent XI. encouraged the devotion to Notre Dame de la Croix by granting many privileges to those who went there to pray and perform some good work.

There is a chapel of Notre Dame de Pitié at Condom called the Piétat, now belonging to the Filles de Marie, but formerly to the Brothers of St. John of God, who served the sick. Near it is a miraculous spring called the Houn dou Teou, where pilgrims go to ask deliverance from their infirmities.

Near the historic Château de Lavardens is the chapel of Notre Dame de Consolation in the woods, quiet and solitary, surrounded by graves. The pensive and the sorrowful love to come here to pray undisturbed before the simple altar of Mary, Consoler of the Afflicted. It is one of the stations for the processions in Rogation Week. It is the very place to implore peace for the soul—and to find it!

There is another Notre Dame de Pitié at Aubiet, an obscure village on the right bank of the Arrats, about twelve miles from Auch. The houses are poorly built, the streets narrow and irregular, with nothing remarkable but the fine tower of the ancient church. It never was a place of much importance, except in a religious point of view, and has never recovered from its almost entire destruction by the Huguenots in the sixteenth century. In fact, it is only noteworthy for its religious associations and picturesque situation on a hill overlooking the fertile valley of the Arrats, which comes from Mauvezin on the one side, and goes winding through a delicious country, girt with vine-clad hills, towards Castelnau-Barbarens on the other. Though small, the town is ancient, and figures under the name of Albinetum in the old legend of St. Taurin, who was martyred some time in the fourth century in the Bois de la Verdale at the west of the town—a spot now marked by a cross and an old mutilated bust of the saint. A graveyard is near, where the villagers come to repose around the place watered by the blood of the holy bishop who converted [Pg 123] their forefathers ages ago. How venerable the religious traditions of a country which extend back to the first ages of Christianity, and how good to pray at the tombs of those who lived so near the apostolic times!

Small as Aubiet has always been, it formerly had five churches—a proof of the religious spirit that animated the people; but most of them were destroyed by the Huguenots in the sixteenth century. Among these was the parish church, in which was a chapel of the Five Wounds, built and endowed by the father of Père de Mongaillard, the Jesuit annalist of Gascony; and the church of St. Nicolas, where was established a confraternity of Blue Penitents under the patronage of Monsieur St. Jerome. Nor was the hospital connected with this church spared, though the holy asylum of human miseries, where there were numerous beds for the poor.

SS. Abdon and Sennen are venerated as the special patrons of the place. Père de Mongaillard, who lived in the seventeenth century, tells us that, in his day, the people called upon all the musicians of the country around to contribute to the pomp of the festival of these saints, on which solemn Mass and Vespers were sung and a procession made through the town. The day always ended with a great repast and public rejoicings. These customs have been perpetuated, more or less, to this day.

The most remarkable church at Aubiet is that of Notre Dame de Pitié, which dates from the year 1499. It was providentially spared by the Huguenots and became the parish church. The people, mourning over so many ruined sanctuaries, gathered with fresh devotion around the altar of Our Lady of Pity, with whom they were brought into closer companionship. This altar is still in great repute. The church has recently been repaired, and in one of its windows is depicted St. Taurin in pontifical robes with the martyr’s palm in his hand.

Father Mongaillard relates some curious customs connected with this church. One of the altars was dedicated to St. Eutrope, where a portion of his relics was enshrined and regarded with great veneration. The people brought wine for the priest to plunge a relic of the saint therein, and then carried it to the sick, especially to those suffering from dropsy or violent colic, who often found relief—a custom also common at Marciac, where there is a chapel to Sent Estropi, crowded with people on the last of April. This devotion is now discontinued. St. Eutrope of Saintes was one of the early apostles of the country. Notker, a monk of St. Gall, says he was consecrated bishop and sent into Gaul by St. Clement, the successor of the apostles.

Another singular custom at Aubiet was that of the boys of the place, who always assembled around the high altar to hear Mass, and the instant the priest elevated the Host cried repeatedly, in a loud voice: “Segnour Diou, misericordie!”—Mercy, O Lord God!—so that their exclamations, as discordant as they were singular, could be heard by the passers-by, and produced a profound impression on their minds.

The same father relates another practice in this church. When a child was brought for baptism, the priest poured the regenerating waters on its head three times, and the largest bell was rung to announce the event to the whole parish and admonish the people to pray for the new lamb of Christ’s [Pg 124] flock. If a boy, the bell was struck nine times, very nearly as for the Angelus; if a girl, six times were thought sufficient. And when it sounded, every one within hearing cried heartily: “God bless thee!”

Aubiet formerly had many clergy, and religious services were conducted with a splendor scarcely to be found now in the largest cathedrals. This was principally owing to a celebrated confraternity of the Blessed Sacrament, which was organized in 1526 by Cardinal Clermont-Lodève, archbishop of Auch, at the request of eighteen priests of the town, who, with uncovered heads and robed in their surplices, presented themselves for the purpose before that prelate when he came to make his pastoral visit. The act of foundation still exists. Every Thursday a solemn Mass was to be sung with deacon and sub-deacon in honor of Corpus Domini, and on the first Thursday of every month the Blessed Sacrament was to be carried in procession around the church of Notre Dame de Pitié.

This institution became very popular, for it was an outburst of faith, love, and reparation; and numerous legacies and foundations were made all through that century for its support by people of every condition. One of the priests, foremost in founding the confraternity, was the first to show his pious liberality. This was Jehan Jourdan, the elder, a venerable old man, who, in 1626, appeared before the assembled clergy of the place and begged them to accept, out of his devotion to the Holy Eucharist, the sum of two hundred and twenty crowns, that Mass might be offered in perpetuity at the altar of Our Lady of Pity for the welfare of the donor and his relatives during their lives and the repose of their souls after death.

This same Jehan, the elder, in his last will and testament, likewise founded seven votive Masses on every Friday in the year—one in honor of God the Father; another of the Holy Ghost; the third, of the Holy Trinity; the fourth, of Notre Dame de Pitié; the fifth, of St. Joseph; the sixth, for the dead; the seventh, in honor of the Holy Name of Jesus. The latter was to be sung with deacon and sub-deacon. All the chaplains were to assist devoutly at its celebration, and if any one failed to attend he was obliged to pay a fine of olive-oil for the lamps. No one was to be appointed chaplain unless a native of the place and doctus in musicâ, et non aliter.

Another remarkable foundation is still to be seen in an old Latin will of a notary at Aubiet. He requests to be buried before St. Peter’s altar in the church of Our Lady of Charity (as it was sometimes called). Among his curious legacies are nine sous for nine requiem Masses for his soul, showing what was the customary fee in those days. He also founds a solemn Mass of requiem at St. Peter’s altar every Wednesday, for himself and all his relatives who have died in a state of grace, for which purpose he bequeaths various lands.

Pierre Lacroix, in a will of the sixteenth century also, leaves a certain sum for his funeral expenses. Six torches are to burn around his bier, and eighty priests were invited to aid in the service. They are to have bodily refreshments: habeant refectionem corporalem. On the ninth day after his death all the priests of Aubiet are to assemble to pray for his soul. They are to receive duas duplas—two doubles—but [Pg 125] no refreshments. At the end of the month the eighty priests are again to be invited, who are to sing Mass for his soul; six torches, of half a pound each, to burn meanwhile. They are to be provided with bodily refreshments. At the end of the year the eighty are again to be summoned, and this time they are to have eight liards each pro labore et pœna, but nothing to refresh the body.

The lord of Beaupuy, who during his life always had three Masses a week celebrated, leaves at his death a legacy of seven and a half sacks of wheat a year from his lands at St. Mézard, with one-third of the produce of the vineyards, to be delivered to two priests, each of whom is to say one Mass a week for his soul.

Jehan Cavaré, a man of considerable distinction at Aubiet, makes several rich bequests and foundations to the different chapels of the place. At his funeral two wax torches of half a pound each are to burn. To the attendant priests qui cantabunt he gives three doubles and no bodily refection. If they do not sing, nothing is to be given them.

One hundred poor are to be fed on Good Friday with a loaf, wine, and one sardine each. The same obligation is imposed at All Saints, but this time there is no mention of the sardine.

Thirty crowns are to be given to two girls of irreproachable morals at Aubiet on the day of their marriage; and a woollen gown, all made, is to be given to twelve widows or poor single women of Mauvezin.

“Moved,” as he says, “by the grace of God and love for the church of Notre Dame de la Charité,” he also founds seven Masses a week in perpetuity in the chapel of the Blessed Sebastian, martyr. He also founds seven other daily Masses—one of them on Saturday, de lacrymâ Christi, in honor of the Holy Tears of Christ. For all these services he leaves numerous lands and revenues.

These and many other foundations, extraordinary for a small country village, express the reaction against the innovations of the age, and are remarkable proofs of the deep faith and piety of the people. And they are only examples of similar cases throughout the country, the records of which it does the heart good to ponder over. How pious are the formulas with which such bequests are made: In remissionem peccatorum suorum—Pro remedio animæ suæ et animarum parentum suorum, et aliorum pro quibus deprecare tenetur, etc. Everywhere they express devotion to the Blessed Virgin, and to some saint in particular, as well as to all the inhabitants of the heavenly country in general. This was in accordance with the traditions of the country, where the heart naturally turns to Jesus in the arms of Our Lady of Pity at the awful moment of death. St. Bertrand of Comminges, when his end drew near, had himself transported to the chapel of the Virgin and breathed out his soul at the foot of her altar. Bernard de Sariac, a distinguished bishop of Aire, founded on his death-bed a chapel in honor of Notre Dame de Pitié. The old lords of the country show, by the solemnity of their last bequests, their faith in Mary’s powerful assistance at the supreme hour of death. William, Count of Astarac, in his legacy to Notre Dame de Simorre in 940, says: “Inspired by God and the hope of Paradise, and in order to increase my reward [Pg 126] in the day of judgment, I give the most holy Virgin the following lands in Astarac.” Raymond de Lavedan, in 1253, left this clause in his will: “I give my land to St. Mary with all it bears towards heaven and contains in its depths.” There are a thousand similar examples of illustrious barons of the olden times whose tombstones in the Virgin’s chapel in many instances remain an enduring testimony of their devotion to Mary, though the building itself is demolished.

The confraternity of the Blessed Sacrament at Aubiet only admitted thirteen of the most notable persons of the town. Among other obligations, they had to accompany the Holy Eucharist when carried to any of the members who were ill, bare-headed, wearing surplices, and bearing lighted torches in their hands; to assemble in like robes on the first Thursday of every month; to follow the divine Host in procession; and every Thursday to attend a Mass of the Corpus Domini under the penalty of a fine. One peculiarity of this Mass was the Kyrie Eleison, which they sang with a thousand modulations:

Kyrie, Pater æterne, fontana Deitas, ex quo manant flumina rerum, ELEISON![53]

Kyrie, fons co-æternæ lucis et claritas, lucem formans primo dierum, ELEISON![54]

Kyrie, fons superne, redundant bonitas, panem mittens de cœlo verum, ELEISON![55]

Christe, lucis fons, lux de luce prodiens; Dei pinguis mons, quo pascente vivit esuriens et impletur pane vivente, ELEISON![56]

Christe, cordium via, vita, veritas; cibus mentium, in quo sistit summa suavitas et satietas consistit, ELEISON!

Christe, sumptio tui sacri corporis est refectio vires præbens immensi roboris, et molesta salutis demens, ELEISON!

Kyrie, decus amborum, Patris Natique, et duorum non duplex Spiritus; quo spirante lux datur morum, ELEISON![57]

Kyrie, qui veritatis lumen es diffusum gratis, dictus Paraclitus, dans solamen his desolaris, ELEISON!

Kyrie, sana palatum, quo gustamus panem gratum et missum cœlitus, in Marid per te formatum, ELEISON![58]

This is an example of the tropus or farcius, so common in the middle ages, which is a paraphrase or extension of the liturgy by inserting additional words between the important parts—as at the Gloria in Excelsis, the Sanctus, the Agnus Dei, etc.—the word farsus, farcius, or farcitus, as it was differently written by the monks of the middle ages, being derived from the Latin farcire, used by Pliny the naturalist, Apicius, and Cato the agriculturist, in the sense of filling, distending, enriching. Pope Adrian II. is said to have instituted these farci to be sung in monasteries on solemn festivals. They were the festivæ laudes of the Romans. Others attribute them to the Greek church. These farci were of three kinds in France: the usual liturgy being expanded by inserting additional words in Latin; or the text was Greek and the paraphrase in old French; or, again, the latter was in the vulgar tongue of [Pg 127] Oil and Oc. These paraphrases in the vulgar tongue became popular, not only in France, but in England and Germany. From them was derived the proverbial expression, Se farcir de Grec et de Latin—that is, to have the head full. These tropes or farcies of mixed French and Latin are still very common in southwestern France, especially in the popular Noëls, which are often rude lines in patois alternate with Latin, after the following style:

Born in a manger
Ex Mariâ Virgine,
On the chilly straw
Absque tegumine.

It is not surprising that, with daily High Masses and a perpetual round of imposing services, the people of Aubiet should feel the change when the place became impoverished, the number of priests diminished, and most of the churches destroyed at the invasion of the Huguenots. We are told that when the vicar was unable to sing High Mass on the festival of St. John the Baptist in 1623, there was universal murmuring, and the magistrates drew up a solemn protest against so unheard-of a scandal, which document is still extant.[59]

But the church of Notre Dame de Pitié, although profaned, was left standing. The admirable confraternity of the Blessed Sacrament soon revived, and with it many of the former solemnities. Père de Mongaillard tells us the Kyrie eleison farci was still chanted in his time.

We find a similar confraternity of the Blessed Sacrament at Touget, another village of Gascony, which suffered horribly from the religious wars. It was for a long time in possession of the Huguenots, who abolished the Catholic religion and ruined the churches. To repair these profanations the association was established, the statutes of which are still extant in the Gascon tongue. By these we learn that there were nine chaplains in honor of the nine choirs of angels; twelve laymen in honor of the twelve apostles; seventy-two other lay members in memory of the seventy-two disciples (husband and wife being counted as one); and seven pious widows in honor of the seven Dolors of the Blessed Virgin. They were all to be natives of the place, but “no ruffian, renegade, public usurer, or vicious person admitted among them.” Every Thursday all the members were to attend High Mass in the parish church, robed in their surplices. They were to accompany the Host in solemn procession through the village, at stated times, tapers in hand; sing the Office of the Dead before the door of any deceased member, and attend the requiem Mass for his soul. These and various other pious obligations were encouraged by the bishop of Lombez, who granted certain indulgences of vray perdon, especially on the festivals of St. Germain, St. George, St. Vincent, and St. Fritz, whose relics were honored in the church. [Pg 128] Such is the spirit of love, sorrow, and reparation which perfumes a few of the countless chapels of Our Lady of Pity in southwestern France, where so many hearts have forgotten their own grief before that of Mary! In all these sanctuaries, wan and desolate, she seems to plead for the nation. So pleads she all over the earth. Every mystery of religion is perpetuated in the church. Christ is always crucified somewhere on the earth. Mary is always sorrowing over his bleeding wounds.

We have seen her weeping over the door of many a tabernacle in Italy, as if over the Saviour wounded anew in the sacrament of his love. Who can turn away from the affecting appeal in this day of profanations in that unhappy land, where the very angels of the church veil their faces before the agony of the divine Sufferer—before Mary’s woes?… Around the altar sacred to her grief let us echo the ancient Planh referred to at the beginning of this article:

“I conceived thee without corruption; to-day my heart is broken with grief: thy Nativity was exempt from all suffering; now is the day of my travail—

“Alas! my Son, on account of thy torments!

“When thou wert born the shepherds came singing with joy, dancing to the sound of their pipes; now traitorous and cruel Jews come to seize thee with horns and cries, staves and swords.

“Alas! my Son, loving and beautiful.”

Ay filh! amaros e bel!

[48] “Woe on woe! grief on grief! Heaven and earth have lost their lord, and I my son; the sun its clearness; Jews have slain him, to their great dishonor. Alas! my son, what mortal grief!”

Say, say an orison
To the Virgin of the Garaison,
Ye who in this spot solace seek from pain,
Pilgrims so good,
’Neath sorrows bowed,
That your hearts may open up to hope again.
Here while you stay,
Say with love, say,
Oh! say an orison
To the Virgin of the Garaison.

[50] The tourteau is a round cake with a hole in the centre, made particularly for Palm Sunday.

[51] The paëte is a kind of biscuit for the Pascal season.

[52] When a dire pestilence came nigh destroying the city of Marciac, the Virgin Mother herself commanded this temple to be dedicated to her under the powerful protection of the cross and of her Son.

[53] O Lord, Father eternal, Fountain of the Deity, whence flow all things, have mercy!

[54] O Lord, Fount and clearness of co-eternal light, who didst make light on the first of days, have mercy!

[55] O Lord, Fount supernal, goodness overflowing, sending down true bread from heaven, have mercy!

[56] O Christ, Fountain of light, light from light proceeding; fruitful mount of God, on which feeding the hungry liveth and is filled with living bread, have mercy!

[57] O Christ, the way, the life, the truth of hearts; the food of minds, wherein abides the sweetest sweetness and fulness is contained, have mercy!

O Christ, the taking of thy sacred Body is a refreshment, giving mighty strength, and removing every obstacle to salvation—have mercy!

O Lord, the beauty of both, of the Father and the Son, and the spirit of each, yet not twofold, by whose breath the light of all right things is given, have mercy!

[58] O Lord, who art the light of truth, freely spread abroad, thou who art called the Paraclete, giving consolation to those who are desolate, have mercy!

O Lord, purify our taste, that so we may enjoy the gracious bread sent down from heaven, formed by thee in Mary’s womb—have mercy!

[59] “In the year 1623, and the 24th of June, in the town of Aubiet in Armagnac, in front of the parish church of said place, before noon, in the reign of the most Christian prince, Louis, by the grace of God King of France and Navarre, appeared before me the undersigned royal notary, and in presence of the witnesses whose names are hereunto affixed, Messrs. Jehan Gaillan, Jehan LaMothe, Jehan Gelotte, and Caillard Mailhos, consuls of said Aubiet, and Jehan Belloc, syndic, who, speaking and addressing his words to M. Jehan Castanet, priest and vicar of said church of Aubiet, represented to him, for want of a rector in said Aubiet, that from all time and all antiquity it had been the custom to celebrate in the parish church High Mass with deacon and sub-deacon on solemn days like the present; and whereas, because there was no one to aid him in performing the office, the divine service was omitted, the said consuls and syndic protest against the said Castanet, vicar aforesaid, etc.

“The said Castanet affirmed that he did everything in his power, but had no one to aid him.”





We have adverted to the indirect government of the creation by God—to the government which he condescends to administer first through the primary laws which he has stamped upon the universe; and, secondly, through the moral and physical activity with which he has endowed mankind.

We are making vast and rapid strides in this day towards discovering and unravelling these primary laws. At the present moment we seem to have got ourselves somewhat into a tangle of knowledge, which threatens to asphyxiate us with the overpowering perfume of its lavish blossoms, like that of the exuberant growth of the tropical flora.

We are caught as in the meshes of a net, and are hardly allowed time to solve one problem and satisfy ourselves with a conclusion before some new tendril of the ever-growing parasite has flung another [Pg 129] flowering coil of verdure around us and arrested our steps once more. We have come upon the time long ago predicted by the Archangel Michael to the prophet Daniel: “Plurimi transibunt, et multiplex erit scientia.”[60] We are dazzled and bewildered; and some timid souls are like ostriches, which hide their heads in the sand, preferring not to see and know, and hoping that their ignorance and the ignorance of the multitude generally will serve as a dam to the coming flood, and leave us freed from a torrent of questions which, if once they are there, must be answered. It is to be regretted that these persons cannot learn to possess their souls in patience, and to watch calmly and intelligently the progress of this gigantic growth of science, assured that it will all arrange and classify itself in time, in perfect harmony with what they know to be true and enduring, and which they so dishonor by their apprehensions.

However, since this is too much to expect of many, there is nothing for it but to allow such people to keep themselves in peace in the way that suits them best; only not permitting them to discourage others from investigation and reverent inquiry. St. Thomas tells us that the end of all science is contained within the end of all theology and is subservient to it. Theology, therefore, ought to command all other sciences and turn to its use those things of which they treat. But we shall not arrive at this virile steadfastness until the real study of theology has become more general. There is very little in our modern education or habits of thought to teach that calm gaze into the depths of the divine mysteries which imparts such strength of mental vision that the soul ceases to be dazzled by the false light of falling stars. The robust vigor of the studious habits of old has ceased from among us, and the modern mind is attenuated and enfeebled by a vast variety of subjects indifferently explored, many of them received on trust and without inquiry, and all smoothed down to one dead-level of superficial thought and inadequate expression. Not that for a moment we would imply that mere habits of study are all that is needed. These habits may exist, and do exist to a great extent; but the silence and the solitude do not exist, and the studies themselves have long ago ceased to be of a nature to clear the mind for the gradual, patient, interiorly-evolved contemplation of the eternal truths which lie at the bottom of all things. The old scholastic philosophy and theology laid the only real foundation of all speculative knowledge, and built for us, for all future time, that solid fabric of theological truth in the received and authorized teaching of the great doctors of the church which, like a mighty magnet attracting to itself strong bars of iron, will draw within its own embrace all other truth and all other science, because “the end of science is within the end of theology.” Meanwhile, if we would not find ourselves swamped in the torrent of surmises, partial discoveries, inverted reasonings, and unreverential decisions, we must go back to the spirit and method of the ages which produced the deeply metaphysical thinkers and theological writers of old. The flood of events pours on, and the concussion of each tears through our daily life and ploughs up the hours and the days in hurried disorder, leaving no time for seed to [Pg 130] develop in the fallow soil, for the green blade to strengthen and the harvest to ripen. Modern inventions speed the latest intelligence into the innermost recesses of our homes, and we live like people in a house without doors or windows, open to every blast; while the age, whose needs seem most to call for contemplative recluses, on the contrary stamps contemplation out of the heart of man, and substitutes the paramount necessity for outward activity. There is no solace, there is no rest, but in prayer. There is no consolation but in cultivating thought in the hidden recesses of our minds, and, amid the racket of life, to go deep down into the silent caverns of our souls and dwell in an inner solitude with thoughts of eternal truth. The tendencies of the age have added a new difficulty to the treatment of many of the questions more or less inextricably mixed up with any largely philosophical views of the union of science with divine truth.

We have perverted our language because thought, of which language is the clothing, is perverted. We dare not handle questions that in themselves are pure, because we have allowed necessary words to represent unnecessary indelicacy. No word that expresses a necessary fact is in itself evil; but woe to the imagination which makes it so! Purity is always dignified. But if you take the white roses of innocence to crown a wanton, white roses will fall into disrepute; and this is what we have done with language. Words no longer only mean the thing they represent. They have been made to insinuate the foul underflow of evil fancy that corruption has poured forth. How shall we cleanse the source, that we may once more use language of strength and purity? How shall we again become manly and brave, and yet avoid the charge of being coarse and too outspoken? Only by going back to the noble candor of the great thinkers of old, and by trying to see things as they are in the mind of God, and not as they are in fallen man; by looking at the laws of creation as they came from the hands of the Creator, before man had written his running commentary of evil and sin, and thus defiled the glorious page. There are two forms of purity. The one is the purity of ignorance. The intellect that knows nothing of the species cannot predicate the accidents; and no doubt blank ignorance is better than an evil imagination. But there is another and a higher purity; it is the purity of an informed mind which, from the sublime heights of science, or, better far, from the depths of union with God in the all-pervading sense of his presence, has acquired that faculty of viewing subject-matter in the abstract which leaves no association of imagination or fancy to drag it down into the lower nature and so defile it. The more truly scientific a mind becomes, the more will it inhabit those cool, serene heights of passionless intellect. But the first, the truest, the absolutely sure science of theology is the one royal road to the habit of mind which can, as it were, stand outside its lower nature and contemplate facts and truths in their essential nature, divested of human contact or defilement; or, where both must be recognized, can eliminate the law from its abuse, and trace back the former to the bosom of the Creator; for “to the pure all things are pure.” This seems to be the faculty which is more and more dying out amongst us.

It is probable that some of the [Pg 131] hurry and absence of precision and of tenacious research which characterize the modern form of mind may be the natural result of the sudden rush of new discoveries which have taken us, as it were, by surprise and carried us off our feet. By degrees it is probable we shall, as a race, accept the changes in our condition, and shall become gradually adapted to the varied forms of life imposed upon us by the vast and multiplied combinations which every day are extending our power over the external world and opening new paths for activity and enterprise. Doubtless this power will increase rather than diminish, and at the same time take less hold upon us in a revolutionary way, and we shall lose some of that flurry and excitement which now characterize us—much in the way that the young colt of a week old starts no more than does the old mare when the engine rushes down the railway that skirts the field; and yet when railways first began both were alike alarmed.

But for the present we have lost much of our original moral and intellectual dignity. Upon such questions as interest us we are excited and flurried. Those which we do not affect to understand we cannot seriously listen to; and between the bustling activity of the first and the listless frivolity of the last it is not an easy task to bring forward old truths with new faces, old facts with a fresh moral, lest those who listen should persist in viewing the question from the wrong side, and in taking scandal where no scandal was meant.

We have set ourselves the task of investigating the chief attributes of God’s government of creation and its uniformity of design in complexity of action. To do this we must condescend to the primary and natural law which he imposed on our world when he called it out of chaos; and we must endeavor to explain what were the special characteristics of that law, and what light it throws upon the attributes of Him who gave it.

The three chief characteristics which we discover in the government of creation are abundance, patience or longanimity, and progression. The first command which the Creator uttered over the first recorded living and moving creatures of his hand was, “Increase and multiply.” This was the initial law of all that we see and know in the external world; and as no temporal law or material condition exists in God’s creation without its spiritual intention and inner meaning, this law is typical of what is beyond sight and belongs to the domain of faith. In attempting to define that command we find it conveys an impression, wider than the heavens and more diffused than the ambient air, of generosity, benevolence, and paternity. It is the law of “our Father who is heaven.” It beams upon us like the genial warmth of the noontide sun. It shadows us like the stretching boughs of a large forest perfumed with the dews of earth. It was spoken first to the products of the water and the denizens of the air; and again it was spoken over the two first beings created “after His own image and likeness.”

Wherever there is life, even life in its lowest form—and so low that science hesitates to pronounce upon it as being life, and stands uncertain how to designate evident growth without equally evident life, like the unintelligent but absolutely accurate formation of crystals—there too the law reigns of “increase and multiply.” [Pg 132] Attraction and affinity declare the law, and carry it on, while repulsion is but the inverse of the same; and though, for aught we know, and judging by induction, there is not one molecule added on our earth to the original chaotic matter, and all reproductions are composed of the same elements passing through varied forms and phases, nevertheless the same impulse governs all living things and everywhere represents the large, lavish benevolence of the God of life.

The animal creation is the unreasoning and innocent embodiment of the natural law, and carries out its mandates unconscious of the why and the wherefore; whereas in fallen man the natural law has overlapped the moral law, and the latter has become warped by the pressure of the former, making all things discordant. As abundance is one of the characteristics of the natural law, so the modes and forms of its execution lie at the very root of all creation. The Spirit of God, the brooding Dove, moved over the face of the waters. The same image of incubation and consequently of imparted heat (motion and heat being allied as reciprocal cause and effect), was in the mind of the old Egyptians when they carved a winged world amongst their mystic signs. So sacred, so holy, so full of deep-hidden meaning was the idea as it lay from all eternity in the divine Mind, that it was through the four thousand historic years which preceded the birth of the God-Man the mode through which God taught the chosen people to expect the Redeemer. It became the hope of every maiden to form one link in the long chain which was to lead up to the Messiah. It sanctified all the ties of domestic life and made them less a necessity than a high moral duty.

So universal was the sentiment that many, in the tenacity of their desire to carry on the holy tradition, and too earthly to perceive the sin of doing wrong that good might come, thrust aside the law of conscience rather than fail in what weighed upon them as an overwhelming necessity—to continue the natural line—that perhaps they, too, might form one of those from whose loins should spring the Saviour of the world. It was thus that a dignity was imparted to natural ties which surpassed among the Israelites the same sentiment among the Gentiles, but which was but a foreshadowing of their sacred and sacramental state in the church of God.

“Wisdom is justified by her children”; and all that God has ordained must reach its ultimate perfection in his church before it can pass into another phase. “Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall not pass of the law, till all be fulfilled.”[61]

As all things in creation are by and for him, as all culminate in him, so when the prophecies were accomplished, and Mary, the immaculate and virgin daughter of the House of David, had, through the operations of the Holy Ghost, become the Mother of God—the law “increase and multiply” having thus ascended to its mystical fulfilment and ultimate development—so from henceforth did it confer a new and more holy character on natural ties by consecrating them as the type and image, of what is spiritual.

The one end in view had survived through all, despite man’s ignorance, infirmity, and sin; and [Pg 133] that end once attained, the sinless Mother clasping to her bosom the Infant God who was from all eternity in the bosom of the Father, from that moment all that was human had a new and divine element in it. All creation, all life, all we have and are, became in a special way “holy to the Lord.” “Know ye not that ye are the temple of God? If any man violate the temple of God, him will God destroy. All things are yours, the world, or life, or death, or things present, or things to come: all are yours: and ye are Christ’s, and Christ is God’s.”[62]

Through long centuries man had failed to comprehend even while he felt the underlying mystery of creation. He looked on the fair fields of nature with undiscerning eyes. He hardly guessed at the enigma of the outer world as leading upwards to something nobler; and therefore he dragged the image of God down into the mire of his own existence. He even sought the Deity in what was below himself, worshipping, not men and heroes, but beasts and creeping things; because, being dominated by the idea of the great and all-pervading force of the laws of life and nature, the lower creation presented a more simple and abstract image of their potency. The idea of the principle of life haunted him like a dark and perplexing riddle. Its magnitude weighed upon him. Its universality perplexed him. He had not the light of truth in its plenitude to illumine the dark places of the earth. He could only make guesses at the typical meaning of creation; and as the whirr of life rushed ceaselessly around him without bringing any answer to his questionings, it became a relief to embody the idea which obseded him in the obscurity of inarticulate being, as affording, if not some solution, at least an absolutely simple and vulgar manifestation of the great fact, until the very scarabei became sacred; and with inverted moral sense, in lieu of seeking for transcendent and pellucid truth in what was above him, he dug down into the very miseries of his own degradation in his attempt to describe the incomprehensible, and that to a degree which we cannot pollute these pages by expressing.

Thus had man covered over with the veil of his iniquities and the thick darkness of his ignorance all the sanctities of life, until the church of God revealed to him that Christ is the head of the church, as the husband is the head of the wife, and placed matrimony among the sacraments; because as a sacrament only is it holy to the Lord, and because, as a sacrament, it is typical of that highest and most divine union of Christ with his church—that union which is her strength, her inviolability, her guarantee, and her ever-enduring and indisputable infallibility.[63]

How little did poor fallen humanity dream of the sanctity and dignity of common life until the church turned the full light of revelation on the laws of our being and taught us what those laws prefigured in the Eternal Mind! It is not until St. Paul wrote by inspiration that astonishing chapter to the Ephesians that the laws of being were really less awful in their hidden sanctity. They were never in themselves mean, miserable, and degraded. It is true the state of matrimony only foreshadowed a sacrament; for under the old law there were no sacraments in the specific sense in which we now use [Pg 134] the term in the Catholic Church. It was holy under the old law, and it may be said to have had a sacramental character; and that character was the anticipation of what it was to become when it should be raised into one of the seven sacraments of the church, and the type of Christ as head of the church. But at that time mankind was still in darkness. Humanity could not earlier review the expression of the mystery. Only the Gospel could open their eyes to the full understanding of the sacramental principle which alone makes life holy, and, O sorrowing, suffering hearts! which alone to you can make it endurable.[64]

See how the beneficent thought of God has touched all our common lot! See what flowers blossom amid the thorns, what gems of light sparkle in the dark ways of life, ennobling all, beautifying because sanctifying all, and enabling us, while the heavy burden of sorrow, disappointment, regrets, and even ruined hope, may seem to take all the color out of life, and to send us back to a treadmill existence and a gray, despairing twilight, to realize that nothing can alter the fact that we are holy to the Lord, and that in our daily, hourly lot, as husbands, wives, sons, daughters, masters, and servants, we are carrying on the ceaseless weaving of that web of sacred typical life which has from all eternity been in the mind of God as the law of our natural being, and in one form or another envelops, like the husks of the sweet nut, the gradually-ripening sanctity of those who, even in this life, are to touch on perfect union with their Creator.

Can any one seriously doubt that, if a greater and more hallowed veneration for the laws of our natural existence became more general and more intense, they would, in their typical and sacramental character, develop further heights of holiness—not as the exceptional ways of a few miraculous saints, but as the table-land of all humanity? As it was the hardness of heart in the Israelites which compelled Moses to give a law of divorce, so may it not be our hardness of heart, lessened indeed, but not yet melted, which leaves us so often such mere commonplace appreciation of natural ties, and thus fails to realize in them all that they possess and can yield?

Jesus is our father, our brother, our friend, our master, and our spouse. These titles are taken from our common life. But the abstract idea which these titles express by subdivision and restriction dwelt for ever in the mind of God as the form and fashion he would give to human life in his foreknowledge of the divine Incarnation, for which end solely do all things exist. What further thoughts can we need to make us tender over our own duties and our own condition? What a noble origin there is to all that we are apt to look upon as an encumbrance, a failure, a mere unfortunate accident! Our ties enchain us; then let us hug our chains, and find in wearing them “the freedom wherewith Christ has made us free.” All our life is a God-directed education of our souls; and the fashion of our human life is the mould which God has prepared for us each as individuals, save always where there is sin or its proximate occasion, or where a higher vocation—that sublime [Pg 135] infringement of the common law—comes to impel the soul to forsake all and follow the divine Spouse. Then all else melts before the furnace of divine love; the intermediate, ordinary steps which lead others to God through the sanctities of common life are cleared at one bound, and God puts in his claim to do what he will with his own.

To resume all in a few words: all we see around us, from the soil beneath our feet, through the vegetable and animal worlds, even to ourselves, is the working out of the first law of increase and multiply. Consequently, this being, as we have already said, the representative idea of the creation, its sacredness lies in that very fact, and dates not merely from the new dispensation nor from the old, but from the Eternal Mind before creation was. We have arrived at the facts which prove this representative idea by the aid of natural science, of which the old spiritual writers knew next to nothing, and who consequently, looking at nature through the black mists of man’s defilement, sometimes took distorted views of laws and facts the exquisite harmony of which come out in the deductions of modern research, and so establish the claim we are now making to the absolute beauty and sanctity of all the fashion of human existence as leading up by typical forms to spiritual truths. The witness of this like a golden thread in the dim web of patriarchal times may be found in the fact that it was the eldest son who officiated as the priest of the family, thus blending the natural and spiritual by making the former the basis of the latter. This was the reason of the envy and malice of Joseph’s brethren. He was not the first-born; and yet it was for him that his father made the sacerdotal coat of many colors. Therefore did they dip the coat in the blood of a kid, as in mockery of his sacerdotal character, given him by his father, but not acknowledged by his brethren.

Little did they dream that while, in the full exercise of their own free-will, they gave license to their thoughts of hatred, they were enacting as in a type the one great fact of the universe, the world’s one important history, the tragedy of all creation, when he who, though in his human nature he is the younger born of God’s children, holds, and for ever shall hold, sacerdotal rank over the elder and fallen Adam.

They who said, “See whether it be thy son’s coat or not,”[65] were the forefathers of those who exclaimed, “Let Christ the king of Israel come down now from the cross, that we may see and believe.”[66] They mocked at the father who claimed to have made his younger son the priest of his house, and their descendants declared of the great Priest of our race that “he ought to die because he made himself the Son of God.” In both cases their pretensions were turned into ridicule and treated as a crime. They dipped the sacerdotal coat of Joseph in the blood of a kid; but the great High-Priest they covered with his own blood, in derision of his claim to be their King and their God. And through it all, through the good and the evil, the adaptive government of God worked out his ultimate designs, turning the wickedness of men to his own glory and hiding the secrets of his providence beneath the course of events, the incidents of common life, the history of a people, of a tribe, of a family. We look back [Pg 136] on the long-drawn-out story and understand somewhat of the underlying mystery. But while it was going on it was but little even guessed at. God is unchangeable, the same for ever and ever. What he did then does he not do now?—for his church, his bride, above all, but also for all humanity, all the wide universe according to its measure, as it can bear it, when it can receive it; leading on by degrees so slow that to us they seem almost imperceptible, but which widen and spread like the rings on the surface of the water when a stone has been flung into its depths.

Our range of vision is so narrow, and our knowledge of even the past so limited and so full of inaccuracies, that we can do little more than guess at the manifold unrolling of the divine intentions. We know enough to fill us with hope as to the ultimate destination of all creation, and of ourselves as the children of God. We know not the future, save faintly as faith reveals it. Even of the past we know but dimly and in broken lines. To one only of the children of men, so far as the Holy Scripture informs us, was the past fully and entirely made known, so far as that was possible to a mortal man supernaturally sustained to bear it. How many in the hallowed, bold, and rash moments of inarticulate prayer have ventured in their lesser degree to say with Moses, “Show me thy glory”! As the thought grows upon us of God’s wonderful ways and of his unutterable love and beneficence, we too long to know with certain knowledge something of that Glory which the great lawgiver intuitively felt would be at once the knowledge of all and the consummation of every desire. “Show me thy glory.” Hear the answer: “Thou canst not see my face: for man shall not see me, and live. Thou shalt stand upon the rock. And when my glory shall pass, I will set thee in a hole in the rock, and thou shalt see my back parts: but my face thou canst not see.”[67] And thus Moses saw the back parts of Him who is from all eternity, through the aperture of time. He had revealed to him the far-off intention of creation. He looked back, in God, to the time before time “when he had not yet made the earth, nor the rivers, nor the poles of the world; when Wisdom was with him forming all things, playing before him at all times, playing in the world, and whose delights were to be with the children of men.”[68] The back parts were beheld by him, and even this he could not have endured in his feeble flesh had not the Eternal “right hand protected him.” All that the past could teach him in the flash of one moment was then made known to him. What floods of light, knowledge, and divine hope and expectation must that wonderful backward view have imparted to Moses, the man singled out of all mankind to read the past! But even with the strength which knowledge such as that must have conferred upon him, still he could not see the face of God and live. We are using weak human words, because they alone are given us. It was the forward look of God which Moses could not see and live. It was the unutterable Glory that is prepared for us in the future, with and through Jesus, that not even the man who had conversed with God as man speaks with his fellow-man, face to face, could see and live. Its stupendous [Pg 137] and exceeding brightness, would have shattered his being as the flash of lightning shatters the oak; even as our Lord revealed to one of his chosen saints that, could she perfectly realize his immense love for the souls of men, that moment of intense joy would snap the frail thread of her life with its excessive ecstasy. What Moses saw he tells us not. No word escapes him of that transcendent vision. He neither tells us of its nature nor of its effects upon himself. But who could marvel if, having had it, he was henceforth the meekest of men? What could ever again disturb the serene patience of him who could divine so much of the future from having seen all the past? And how impossible it must have been for any torments of pride to ruffle the calm serenity of one who was humbled to the very dust by the unutterably lavish and surpassing developments of love and grace and glory which his vision of the past bade him anticipate in that future which even he who had borne to see the past could not gaze upon and live!

As “the end of all science is contained within the end of all theology,” so the seeing the glory of God would be the knowledge of all history taken in its widest and fullest meaning; for if history could be truly written, whether as the life of an individual, the history of a nation or of the whole world, it would be the unravelling of the hidden providence of God working through all events to his own greater glory. The perfect sight is the perfect knowledge; and that cannot be obtained save through the “light of Glory,” which is the beatific vision. The perfect knowledge of God would be the knowledge of all things, not only of all science, but of all facts; for all are contained in him. The use of our faculties in the acquirement of knowledge or in its exercise is like the gathering up of fragments caught from the skirts of his garments as we follow slowly in his mighty footsteps; and the closer we get to him in our patient toil, the brighter is the lustre and the sweeter the perfume still left upon these shreds of the divine passage through the mazes of creation and the heaped-up centuries of time.

[60] Daniel xii. 4.

[61] Matthew v. 18.

[62] 1 Cor. iii. 16, 17, 22, 23.

[63] Ephesians v. 23, 32.

[64] This statement, if its terms are taken in a strict, theological sense, is not correct. In the sense that matrimony under the old law was holy, and foreshadowed a sacrament, it may be called sacramental. There were no sacraments, in the specific sense in which we now use the term in the Catholic Church, before Christ instituted them.—Ed. C. W.

[65] Gen. xxxvii. 32.

[66] Mark xv. 32.

[67] Exodus xxxiii. 18-23.

[68] Prov. viii. 22-36.

[Pg 138]


The Student’s Hand-Book of British and American Literature. Containing sketches, biographical and critical, of the most distinguished English authors, from the earliest times to the present day, with selections from their writings, and questions adapted to the use of schools. By Rev. O. L. Jenkins, A.M., late president of St. Charles’s College, Ellicott City, Md., and formerly president of St. Mary’s College, Baltimore. 1 vol. 16mo, pp. 564. Baltimore: John Murphy & Co. (New York: The Catholic Publication Society.) 1876.

This book has many excellencies. The author shows himself thoroughly versed in his subject. He writes with elegance, occasionally with force, as in the remarks on the influence of the Protestant Reformation on literature. His taste is true and his judgment sound. In fact, judging by the work itself, he would seem possessed of the qualities fitted to make him an admirable compiler of a literary manual.

The first sentence of the author’s preface explains the object of the book: “The compiler of this work has long felt the necessity of some text book of British and American literature which, in its general bearing, would be free from sectarian views and influences, and, in the extracts, be entirely unexceptionable in point of morality.” This sentence is open to misinterpretation. It is plain, however, from the general plan of Father Jenkins’ work, as well as from numerous passages in it, that he has had in view from the beginning to restore to the Catholic Church, the inspirer of the highest literature, the mother of Christian art, and the fosterer of the sciences, her rightful place in English letters. In most of the text-books used in schools her influence on thought and literature is altogether ignored and herself in too many instances derided. It is clear, then, what the learned author meant by freeing his book from “sectarian views.” While giving their lawful place to all writers, of whatever manner of belief or no belief, he had for his direct object the pruning out of all anti-Catholic and immoral passages, and the insertion of established Catholic authors who are systematically excluded from ordinary text-books.

No object could be better calculated to confer more lasting benefit on the minds of the young generation growing up around us, for whom chiefly the present work is intended. We open the book with eagerness, therefore, and turn over page after page with interest, often with admiration, until we come up to the present century, when, especially within the later half of it, Catholic literature in England and the United States has, from a variety of causes, received a new and remarkable impulse. It is hardly too much to say that Catholic questions are among the chief questions of the day here as well as in England; they have been such for the last fifty years; they promise to be such for at least fifty years to come; and Catholic writers to-day hold their own in every branch of literature. After three centuries of silence, of death almost, the church has risen again among these peoples who went astray, the voice of truth is heard, and its utterances are manifold. Surely there is reason to expect that due notice of such awakening, of such signs of life and hope, be taken in a literary text-book, which, after all, can only hope to make its way in Catholic schools. Yet here, in this crucial point, Father Jenkins’ work is singularly and lamentably defective. Whether or not he intended to supply the deficiency is not known to us; but those who took up the work after his death ought to have supplied it.

We turn to the book, and what do we find? The only Catholic writers of the century who are found worthy a place in this Catholic manual are, to take them as they occur: Dr. Lingard, Thomas Moore, Cardinal Wiseman, Dr. Newman, Aubrey de Vere, in England and Ireland; Bishop England, Robert Walsh, and Archbishop Spalding, in America. And these are all!

Where is Dr. Brownson? His name occurs in a casual note of the author’s, in [Pg 139] the same way as the names of Griswold, Cleveland, or Reid occur. Where is Dr. Pise, Dr. Huntington, George H. Miles, Dr. White, Colonel Meline, John G. Shea, Dr. R. H. Clarke, Archbishop Hughes—they simply run off the pen—together with dozens of others, many of whose names will not need recalling to the readers of this magazine? We shrink from extending the catalogue of the absent to England and Ireland.

Writers conspicuous by their absence are by no means restricted to the Catholic faith. Among strange omissions are the following: Southwell is in, but not Crashaw; Shakspere, but not Massinger, or Beaumont and Fletcher; Addison, but not Steele; all the earlier novelists are absent. The dramatists of the reign of Charles II. are ignored. Goldsmith is remembered, but Sheridan is forgotten. Scott is in, but Burns is out. Moore and Byron, and even Rogers, find their place; but Shelley and Keats are nowhere to be found. Dickens and Thackeray are here, but Bulwer Lytton is absent; and so the list goes on.

The book is supposed to reach up to the present day. The writers on political philosophy, the scientists, the theologians, many of the writers on history known to us as living among us still and destined to live long after us, are altogether omitted. Not a hint even of their existence is given. The “compiler,” as he styled himself, says in the preface that “whatever has relation to our common humanity, and interests all men alike, whether it be fictitious or real, in poetry or in prose, comes within the appropriate province of literature. Even popularized science is not excluded.” And he adds, strangely enough in the light of the chief defect we have noticed: “If, in the early periods, the name of an eminent divine or scholar is introduced whose writings might seem to belong rather to the department of science than belles-lettres, it is because he ranks among the few men of his epoch who were remarkable for intellectual vigor and general knowledge.” This being so, where are the English, Irish, and American Catholic theological, philosophical, and polemical writers of the last half-century?

Of course a work of this kind, which aimed at doing justice to our Catholic writers of the present century, would quite overrun the limits of an ordinary text-book of English literature. Still, the addition of two or three hundred pages devoted just to this subject is necessary to complete what in its present form is, for the purposes for which it was intended, quite incomplete.

The Eden of Labor, the Christian Utopia. By T. Wharton Collens, author of Humanics, etc. Philadelphia: H. C. Baird, Industrial Publisher, 810 Walnut Street.

Labor and Capital in England, from the Catholic Point of View. By C. S. Devas, B.A., Lecturer on Political Economy at the Catholic University College, Kensington. London: Burns & Oates, Portman Street.

These two publications may be combined in one notice. They treat of the same subject, essentially in the same spirit, though looking at it in different lights. Both deal with that momentous struggle between labor and capital which has shaken the world in all ages; both profess to find the solution of the economic problems of the day in the teachings of Christianity as interpreted by the Catholic Church; but one invokes the aid of the imagination in portraying what labor might be if all men were just and charitable; the other confronts the actual position of labor in England. Each is equally valuable in its own way, and both are champions of the rights of labor.

Mr. Collens’ work, The Eden of Labor, is the fruit of much thought upon the subject, a powerful imagination, and a feeling heart for those who labor. The author pictures Adam as founding a patriarchal empire after the fall, in which, under wise and equitable laws, labor was universally rewarded by competency and happiness. In the description of this antediluvian Utopia—of its system of government and society, of its condition and rewards of labor, of its land tenure, its trade, foreign and domestic, and its currency—the author gives himself the opportunity of promulgating his conception of the true doctrines of political economy. In this he takes issue with the liberal school of political economists which recognizes Adam Smith as its founder. He denounces its teachings as framed solely in the interest of the selfish and tyrannical employer of labor, and as leading irresistibly to the robbery and enslavement of the over-matched laborer. While admitting the [Pg 140] truth of Adam Smith’s law that “labor is the true measure of exchangeable values,” the author strenuously argues that he (Smith) and his disciples nullify the just results of that axiom by defending the specious but unchristian doctrine of “supply and demand,” which results in the supremacy of might over starvation, and by losing sight of their original affirmation of the common right of all to the use of “natural values,” which the liberal economists in the end surrender absolutely to the capitalist.

As a foil to his picture of the “Eden of Labor,” Mr. Collens gives, in his description of Nodland, or the empire of Cain, a history of the enslavement and misery of labor, and the corruption and tyranny of the “money lords,” consequent upon the surrender of society to purely selfish instincts, and its abandonment of laws which Adam had derived from his original intercourse with God. This second part may be regarded as a satire upon our modern civilization. An ingenious monogram representing Labor, half-starved, drawing a miserable subsistence from the reservoir of “Natural Values,” which at the same time feeds the plethora of Capital, is prefixed to the work and fully explained by the author in the appendix.

Philosophers from Plato to Sir Thomas More have sought, in their descriptions of Utopia under different names, to portray a commonwealth in which justice should reign and labor receive its rightful reward. In following the steps of those illustrious thinkers Mr. Collens has the opportunity of presenting to his readers, with freshness of treatment and originality of plan, his solution of the labor questions specially affecting this age. The danger besetting works of this kind, where the author is dissatisfied with the existing order of things, and feels a strong sympathy with oppressed labor, is that they insensibly verge towards the vindication of the theories of communism and the revolutionary rights of man. We are convinced that no conclusions could be more opposed, or even abhorrent, to Mr. Collens’ mind than these. His preface, written on “the Feast of the Holy Name of Jesus,” and the whole spirit of his work, bespeak him a fervent Catholic; but, if followed to a logical and forcible conclusion, it would be difficult to distinguish the goal to which the doctrines embodied in the author’s denunciation of the “appropriators of natural values” would lead from that seen at the end of Proudhon’s—“La propriété, c’est le vol.” This, however, is a defect inherent in all Utopias—not of their own nature, but from the fallen condition of man. With this caution we can safely recommend Mr. Collens’ work as both interesting and instructive.

Professor Devas’ pamphlet is on a more ordinary plane of authorship. It is historical and practical in the sense, as to the latter word, of treating of the existing facts of labor in England and their remedies. But we are not of those who would confine the meaning of the word “practical” solely to results immediately before us. A work like that of Mr. Collens, depending largely upon the imagination and investigating first principles, may be practical in the highest and most extensive sense, so far as it influences the original sources of human action. In his special treatment of the subject, however, Professor Devas has written a very able treatise. It is a reprint of three articles originally published in the Month, two of them containing the substance of a paper read before the Academia at Westminster. The first treats of labor and capital in general; the second, of the economic powers in manufacturing industries; the third, of their relative positions in agriculture. In his first article Professor Devas discusses the question whether contracts should be left to competition or a fair rate of wages—justum pretium—fixed, and, if so, how and by whom. He holds a middle view between the liberal economists who will listen to nothing but the rule of “supply and demand,” and the socialist school which denounces all competition and would have the state fix a compulsory rate. He cites the Nottingham hosiery trade as a case in point where wages are not fixed by competition, but by tariff determined upon at a periodical meeting of masters and workmen, in which the state of the market and all attending circumstances are mutually considered, and suggests this example as a mode of arriving at the justum pretium in all trades. In his chapter on manufacturing industries Professor Devas takes the bold ground of defending trades-unionism, not in its details but in its general principles. He is of opinion that the trades unions have been one of the chief agents in alleviating the condition [Pg 141] of the working classes and raising the rate of wages in England during the last forty years. In this latter conclusion he is supported by Dr. Young in his recently published work on Labor in Europe and America. In spite of the fact that the large strikes in England and upon the European Continent have been in the majority of special cases unsuccessful, the general result, according to Dr. Young, has been an advance of wages during the last twenty years. The effects of trades-unionism in Europe may be likened to the flow of the tide, which, repulsed as to each successive wave, yet gains slowly upon the beach. This advance, however, is not always aided by strikes; on the contrary, they have frequently postponed it, by the exhaustion of the struggle, for many years. Their potential combination, or what O’Connell, in a different agitation, called “moral force,” has been a more successful factor in obtaining justice for them.

Ordo Divini Officii Rectandi, etc., 1876. Baltimoræ: Apud Fratres Lucas, Bibliopolas.

Whether by the word “rectandi” the compiler of this guide for the clergy would imply that the principal duty devolving on them with regard to the Office is its correction rather than its recitation, we are unable to say. We do not, it is true, find the verb “recto” in the dictionary, but feeling confident, from the Ciceronian style displayed in other parts of the Ordo, that it must be good Latin, especially as it has appeared two years in succession, presume that it must be the dictionary which is at fault, and cannot suggest any other meaning for the word.

Whether that is its meaning or not, however, it certainly well might be.

We do not profess to have made a thorough examination of the book. It is full of misprints, as usual, of which the one just mentioned and the familiar “Resurect.” are good examples. Whether the putting of St. Anicetus for St. Anacletus, which was also noticed last year, can be considered as such seems rather doubtful.

There are some trifling omissions which really ought to be supplied. The anniversaries of the consecration of about forty of the bishops of the United States are passed by in silence. For what special reason the remainder are given it is hard to imagine, unless it be to remind those who use the Ordo that they ought to take notice of such an anniversary and find out when it occurs; but, unfortunately, it has just a contrary effect, for every one who sees the anniversary of another diocese noticed expects to be similarly reminded of his own, and only remembers that he has not been when the time has gone by.

The law according to which the feast of St. Leo varies between the 3d and the 7th of July is a matter of curious speculation. From its occurrence for two successive years on the 3d we are inclined to cherish the hope that it has finally settled down upon that day.

Why cannot we have an Ordo that would be creditable to the compiler and the publishers, and in which confidence could be placed? More care is all that is needed.

This notice has been delayed till this month on account of more important matter. It will probably do as much good now as if it had been published at an earlier date.

Sermons by Fathers of the Society of Jesus. Vol. III. London: Burns & Oates. 1875. (For sale by The Catholic Publication Society.)

It is somewhat rare to meet with sermons that will bear publication. The circumstances attending their delivery, the authoritative character of the priest, the sacredness of the time and place, tend to disarm the critical faculty and dispose the hearers to a favorable impression. Not so, however, when they are given to the world in book-form, to be subjected to the cool criticism of the closet. Sermons that can stand this test are certainly worthy of praise; and this merit, we are happy to say, belongs to the volume before us. The selected sermons are by Fathers Kingdon, Purbrick, Coleridge, Weld, and Anderdon—names already familiar to many of our readers. Their subjects are such inexhaustible themes as the Passion of Our Lord, the Holy Eucharist, Our Lady’s Immaculate Conception, etc., treated mainly in their devotional and practical bearings. They thus form a collection of spiritual reading rendered particularly attractive by many excellencies of style and expression. Regarded merely as sermons, they are models in their conformity to the accepted canons of this branch of composition. [Pg 142] The subjects are clearly divided, with an easy transition from point to point. The style throughout is graceful and flowing, and there are many passages full of eloquence—a kind of eloquence not merely ornamental but practical in its effects. The secret of it lies in that warmth and earnestness which can proceed only from those who are animated by a fervid zeal for the good of souls.

Father Segneri’s Sentimenti; or, Lights in Prayer. Translated from the Italian by K. G. London: Burns & Oates. 1876. (For sale by The Catholic Publication Society.)

Father Segneri is one of the greatest of the distinguished preachers of the seventeenth century. His name is frequently met in the Italian dictionaries, as an authority of the language. His sermons are based upon the classic models of eloquence. Though not as exhaustive as those of the great French masters of sacred oratory, they are more forcible in rhetoric and more luxuriant in style. We have a great desire to see the complete works of Father Segneri rendered into English, and those who have read the volume of his sermons, lately put forth by the Catholic Publication Society, will doubtless welcome anything bearing his name.

The little book before us is made up of pious reflections found among the papers left by Father Segneri, and evidently intended for his own private perusal. They give us a glimpse of the tender religious, seeking obscurity, craving the higher gifts, while the world applauds his brilliant and conspicuous talents. This contrast is always pleasing. The Sentimenti reveal how far this holy man had advanced in virtue, and how well founded is the reverence which has ever been felt for his sanctity.

Brief Biographies: French Political Leaders. By Edward King. New York: G. P. Putnam’s Son’s. 1876.

These are bright and readable sketches of various prominent Frenchmen of the day. Whether all of those whose biographies are given may be fitly designated “political leaders” is for the reader to satisfy himself and the future to determine. Mr. King does not aim at profound reflection. He cuts skin-deep and passes on. The title of the book seems to us suggestive of something more serious than this. The political leaders of France will influence more than France, and it would be worth considering who and what are the French political leaders of the day. Of what stuff are they made? Whither are they tending? In what do they lead? Is it a lead backwards or forwards? Mr. King passes such questions by, and contents himself with more or less interesting biographies of those whom he takes to be political leaders. Among them we find Henri Rochefort, but fail to find Louis Veuillot. Mr. King is like all non-Catholic writers—least at home when he comes across a Catholic. Among his leaders Mgr. Dupanloup, the Bishop of Orléans, very properly holds a place. We scarcely recognize the bishop, however, as painted by Mr. King. One sentence will suffice to show our meaning: “The haughty mind which sneered at the Encyclical Letter [which Encyclical Letter?] and the Syllabus became one of the most ardent defenders of illiberal measures.” By “illiberal measures” Mr. King seems to mean freedom of education in France, of which Mgr. Dupanloup has been a lifelong, and recently a successful, advocate. “The haughty mind which sneered at the Encyclical Letter and the Syllabus” is something new to us, particularly as Mgr. Dupanloup, long previous to the Council of the Vatican, wrote a pamphlet in defence of the Syllabus for which he received the special thanks of the Holy Father. It is to be hoped that all Mr. King’s biographies are not equally as accurate as that of Mgr. Dupanloup.

Five Lectures on the City of Ancient Rome and her Empire over the Nations, the Divinely-sent Pioneer of the way for the Catholic Church. A supplement to the student’s usual course of study in Roman history. By Rev. Henry Formby, London: Burns, Oates & Co.

In these lectures Father Formby essays the proof of what many a well-read student would at first hearing pronounce as a thesis exceedingly difficult, if not impossible, of demonstration—viz., that the Roman Empire, the arch-persecutor of the church of God, drunk with the blood of ten millions of martyrs, and nursing-mother of every heathen idolatry, had, in spite of these seeming contradictory [Pg 143] characteristics, a divine mission, fulfilled especially by her universal empire and the singular part she played in the formation of the political and social life of the nations of the world.

The learned author signalizes among other marks of the divine providence shown in the history of the mistress of nations, which point her out as a pioneer of the kingdom of Christ, the following remarkable classes of services rendered by her to the accomplishment of that work:

1. “The formation of the nations of the world into a political unity of government, in which there existed a great deal to foreshadow and prepare the minds of men for the future church; while every eye was taught to look up to the city of Rome, not only as the centre of all political action, but as supreme in religion, as well as the fountain of all civil honor and dignity.

2. “The preliminary mission of the Roman Empire to civilize the nations, and to promote among them education and the cultivation of literature and the arts of life, the care of which was to become, in a far higher and more effective manner, part of the mission of the future church.

3. “The mission of the Roman Empire to inculcate and preserve among the nations the knowledge of a certain number of the doctrines and virtues forming part of the original revelation which Noah brought with him out of the ark.

4. “The advantage, for the formation of the Christian society, of the firm establishment of the outward framework of good public order, of municipal liberties, and of the general peace of the world, including the necessary security for life and prosperity.”

These are weighty considerations, and worthy of a much more extended development than the author gives in the lectures before us. His thesis affirmed as probable (and we deem it no less), Roman history would need to be re-written, and by one who should be not only an historian, but a philosopher and a Christian. The perusal of these lectures cannot fail to interest the student, and particularly those who pretend to study the philosophy of history.

Popular Life of Daniel O’Connell. 1 vol. 16mo, pp. 294. Boston: Patrick Donahoe.

Public attention in these days is being more and more turned to O’Connell and the work he wrought. No later than last year the Holy Father held him up as a guide to Catholics in their conflict with powers leagued together against the church, against Catholic rights, and, as a matter of consequence, against all right. The more the great Irish leader’s life is studied, the more evident becomes the fact that freedom, liberty, right, were not to him merely national but universal claims. What he demanded for his own he would have granted to all, and in claiming his own he asked no favor; he called for none of what are known as heroic remedies; he appealed simply to the spirit of all sound laws and the sense of right that is in the conscience of all men. It would be well if, in future lives of him, this great, this greatest perhaps, feature of O’Connell’s character were brought out in stronger relief. For it is just this that makes him more than a leader of his people; it makes him a leader of all peoples who have wrongs to right and abuses to abolish. The small volume before us tells the story of O’Connell’s life in the conventional manner. “Popular” is on the title-page, and there is no reason why the “life” should not be popular. It “has been compiled from the most authentic sources,” says the preface modestly enough, and in this the value of the book is rated in a line. It is a compilation, and no more. As a compilation there is no especial fault to be found with it. On the contrary, the various parts are stitched cleverly together, so as to make a sufficiently interesting narrative. Compilations, however, are becoming too numerous nowadays, and the literature in which shears and paste-pot play the chief part is growing into a school, and a school that cannot be commended. It is not encouraging to open what the reader takes to be a new book, and find in it page after page of matter that has been writ or told a thousand times already.

Elmwood; or, The Withered Arm. By Katie L. 1 vol. 16mo, pp. 233. Baltimore: Kelly, Piet & Co. 1876.

The title of this story, though sufficiently thrilling, gives but a faint indication of the chamber of horrors that lies concealed between the pleasant-looking covers. The title of the first chapter is “Midnight,” and it begins as follows: “W-H-I-R-R! groaned the old clock. The sound rang throughout the immense [Pg 144] corridor, reverberating like the moan of a lost soul.” Three lines lower down, “A wild, unearthly yell” breaks “with fearful distinctness on the midnight silence.” Chapter III. begins: “Silence! Gloom! Remorse! Anguish! Alone! all alone!” and so on. We spare the reader the prolonged agony.

The story might be called a series of paroxysms, and, were it only intended as a caricature of the dime novel, would be one of the most successful that was ever written. Murder glares from every page, and agony reverberates along every line. There is an abundance of “tall, slight figures robed in white,” “ethereal oil-lamps,” “howling tempests,” “deathly faintnesses,” thrilling “ha! ha’s!” “blue chambers,” “north-end chambers,” “awful arms,” “blood-stained hands,” poison, murder, despair, agony, death. There are the usual heroes with the conventional marble brow and clustering curls around it, and the heroines, tall and stately, sylph-like and sweet, blonde or brunette, according to order. Everybody is Maud, or Elaine, or Edwin, or Herbert. One quite misses Enid, Gawain, Launcelot, and Guinevere. Of course there is no special quarrel with nonsense of this kind, beyond the regret that there should be found persons not only to think and write it, but sane persons to publish and propagate it. When, however, we find religion dragged in to give it a kind of moral flavor—dragged in, too, in the most absurd and reprehensible fashion—what might be passed over as a foolish offence against good sense and good taste becomes a matter of graver moment, to be utterly condemned as irreverent and harmful, however unintentional the irreverence and harm may be. It is necessary to be severe about this kind of literature. Uninstructed Catholics who, by whatever misfortune, have access to paper and types, do a world of harm, though they themselves may be actuated by the best motives possible. This book would do no more harm to sensible persons than cause a laugh, possibly a shudder, at its tissue of absurdities. But falling into the hands of non-Catholics, it would by many be taken as the natural outcome of Catholic teaching, and disgust them with everything connected with the Catholic name. The preface to the book speaks of “the moral conveyed in the following pages,” which, it says, “is too obvious to need particular specification.” Possibly; nevertheless, we thought it our duty to specify it above. The preface adds that the book was written “during some of the sweetest hours” of the writer’s life, “in the midst of the most charming surroundings, and solely for the eyes of a few friends.” It is to be deeply regretted, for the writer’s own sake, that one, at least, of her few friends had not the courage and kindliness to deter her from “sending forth upon its new and unexpected mission” a book that can only bring pain to the author and pain to those who feel bound to condemn it.

The Scholastic Almanac for 1876. Edited by Professor J. A. Lyons, Notre Dame, Ind. Chicago: Jansen, McClurg & Co. 1876.

This is modelled on the Illustrated Catholic Family Almanac, the first of the kind published in this country, only it is not illustrated. Its literary matter is very good, and in its paper, press-work, etc., it is a creditable publication.

The Spectator (Selected Papers). By Addison and Steele. With introductory essay and biographical sketches by John Habberton. New York: G. P. Putnam’s Sons. 1876.

This is the first of a series to be made up of selections from the standard British essayists. The present volume contains careful selections from the Spectator. Those who care to see what journalism was in the days when Addison and Steele were journalists will welcome this series, so well begun in the elegant volume before us. It is to be feared that Addison or Steele would stand a poor chance of employment in the present “advanced” stage of journalism. Nevertheless, our editorial writers would do neither themselves nor their readers much harm in trying to discover what is the special charm that lingers about the pages of these dead-and-gone magazines. When they have made the discovery, they will be in a fair way to make it worth the while of an enterprising publisher, say a century hence, to wade through the pages of their journals for the purpose of unearthing the author of such and such articles, with a view to giving them again to the world.

[Pg 145]



VOL. XXIII., No. 134.—MAY, 1876.

Copyright: Rev. I. T. Hecker. 1876.


When Mr. Dickens repaid the hospitality which he had received by his extremely humorous satires of this country, he called the attention of all Americans to the extent to which our national vanity was likely to blind us. Mr. Chollop’s opinion to the effect that “we are the intellect and virtue of the airth, the cream of human natur, and the flower of moral force,” has been secretly cherished by many better men.

The conviction of ordinary Americans is that our system of government is so evidently perfect, and the course of our development so manifestly healthy, that nothing but sheer blindness can account for any suspicion as to their future stability. To those who question the success of our future we are wont to reply by a smile of genuine pity, or by pointing to the results already achieved and the difficulties which have been surmounted. We have fused the most incongruous race-mixture into one homogeneous nation. We have occupied a continent, and laid the foundations of a great empire upon a comprehensive and stable adjustment of all the functions of government. We have eliminated the vast system of human slavery from which our ruin had been predicted. We have overcome the most powerful assault upon the integrity of our national existence; and any violent attempt upon our government seems at present to be both impossible of occurrence and hopeless of success.

It cannot be denied, however, that recent events have awakened in the minds of earnest and patriotic Americans a sense of uneasiness and anxiety very different from any similar feeling in the past. The professional politician sees in the corruption lately developed in Washington simply the evidence of decay manifested by a powerful organization which has enjoyed unlimited power and survived the issues which brought it into existence. He would persuade the people that a “rotation” is all that is necessary in order to restore things to an honest and sober condition. [Pg 146] Less thoughtful men demand a return on the part of officials “to the simplicity of our forefathers,” and applaud blindly every effort at retrenchment. All observant writers and thinkers deprecate any such impossibility and are quite clear as to the folly of attempting it. The Nation, March 16, says: “We confess that there is to us something almost as depressing in this kind of talk as in the practice, in which many of our newspapers indulge, of drawing consolation for the present corruption of this republic from the reflection that the corruption of the English monarchy one hundred and fifty years ago was just as great; because both one and the other have a tendency to turn people’s minds away from real remedies and throw them back on quackery.”

The feeling exhibited by this writer is not confined to himself; and the protest which he makes against disguise and quackery is extended much further than he himself has carried it. For the most part careful observers are willing to postpone the question of treatment until the public is settled as to what the malady really is. We are shaken out of our customary habit of mind by witnessing the disgrace and infamy which cover our present administration. Everybody feels that something ought to be done. But to pay particular attention to this portion of the body politic, without examining how far the disease extends and what is its source, is simply to run the risk of suppressing a symptom instead of curing a disorder.

The slightest attempt at candid observation reveals clearly that corruption is not confined to Washington. A few years ago it was supposed to be limited to a certain class of local politics; then it was restricted to the city of New York. Now it is proved to extend from the Atlantic to the Pacific, and to exist in every circle of society. The suspicion which once attached to the “ward politician” now hangs about our representatives and senators. Dishonesty in commercial transactions perpetrates renewed outrages. We shall soon have to establish fresh associations to insure our insurance companies and to guarantee our banks. The medical profession feels called upon to issue tracts in order to guard against the physical degeneracy of the entire race.

To deny that there is a pronounced, marked, and universal decadence in morality is simply to stultify all faculties of observation and to contradict the testimony of every sense. It is not necessary to repeat the list of scandals which are daily appearing, or to appeal to the conviction, which prevails everywhere, that we have seen but a small portion of those which really exist. It is the common sentiment that the next century will witness either a complete and radical reform of the present state of things, or else a condition far worse than the enemies of this country have ever yet predicted.

Startling as this conviction may appear, the only thing which ought to surprise us is that the present disorder has not been foreseen and is not now more fully understood. It would have been easy to predict the increase of wealth and the consequent increase of luxury in our midst. No sane person can doubt that these sources of temptation will be greater in the future. The presence of wealth, the possibility of attaining it, will call forth all the activity of the rising generation, and the keenness of the struggle, in [Pg 147] which all are free within the limits of the law, will tend constantly to lower the standard of honesty. The strictness of party discipline, the disgust which the mass of citizens have for attending to the details of politics, offer the widest scope for unprincipled adventurers. There are few careers in which quackery, fraud, and imposture cannot secure those fruits for the possession of which honesty and labor are forced to suffer and to strive.

It does not involve a cynical view of mankind to decide that where the occasion of sin abounds wickedness will increase and prove destructive, unless adequate means are taken to preserve the purity of a nation.

This restraining influence in the history of nations hitherto has been religion, which is supposed to furnish motives and to supply the strength and means of combating these evil tendencies, and of defining and consolidating public morality.

The religion under profession of which the older portions of the republic developed was professedly Christian and retained much of the traditional morality of the middle ages. There was no particular form of Protestantism which succeeded in impressing itself permanently upon the growing republic, although some connection of church and state was universally recognized in the early State constitutions. The rigid forms of Puritanism and Quakerism were well calculated to preserve frugality and simplicity of life as long as they could be maintained in rigidity. But no system of mere forms or external restraint could suffice for the direction of a civilization which, still in its infancy, presents so much richness and luxuriance of growth. Neither the austerity of the Roundhead nor the dignity of the Cavalier could hope to remain as the type upon which the American character was to be moulded. The external habiliments of the early generations were bound to disappear, as they have disappeared. But their principles—i.e., the beliefs of Protestantism—were to remain and to form the intellect and conscience of the American people. However great the influence of Southern statesmen upon our external constitution, the New England mind has wrought most powerfully upon the popular sentiment of the country. This action has been manifold.

The stock in trade, to use a homely comparison, with which Protestantism assumed its duty of providing for the moral and intellectual necessities of the American people was contained in the principles of the so-called Reformation.

In addition to the theory of private judgment, which was retained, with the utmost inconsistency, the early religion of this country reposed upon two fundamental and mischievous errors which were inherited from the authors of the Reformation. These were the heresies of justification by faith alone and the total depravity of human nature. If any proof were wanting of the strength and permanence of the religious instinct in man, it would appear in the fact that such monstrous delusions could so long receive the assent of those who professed at the same time perfect freedom of belief. These disgusting caricatures of Christian dogma have almost lost their control over human reason, and will remain only to demonstrate the needs of man and his weakness when acting in abnormal ways and under false traditions. But the fruit which they have borne will not speedily perish. After crystallizing [Pg 148] into a system and founding institutions for perpetuating its growth, the Calvinism of New England assumed all the proportions and manners of an established sect. The preachers were intellectually well worthy of the position which they enjoyed. Great eloquence, rich thought, and all the scholarship of which they were possessed were wasted in elaborate sermons proving, or attempting to prove, their dark and malignant creed. A large mass of the people, however, not attracted by the airs of Calvinism, were repelled by the heavy and metaphysical style of the Calvinistic pulpit.

Before the separation of the colonies from the mother country New England Calvinism had become sufficiently dry and devoid of sentiment to prepare the way for a more emotional religion. Thousands of eager souls drank in the enthusiasm of Asbury, Coke, and the other apostles of Wesleyanism. The founders of Methodism in America, though obliged to adopt some articles of faith as distinctive of their organization, owed their success to the fact that, discarding all reasoning, they appealed to religious emotion, and were mainly instrumental in founding that school of theology whose doctrine is that it matters little what one does or believes, provided one feels right.

Emotionalism has run its course and dies out in the Hippodrome, whither the official teachers of evangelicalism have led their congregations to receive from the ministrations of two illiterate laymen that spiritual stimulant which can no longer be obtained from educated preachers in the fashionable meeting-house.

While the ancient organizations of Puritanism continued, with more or less dilution of its original doctrines, another movement had arisen in the very heart of Calvinism. The Unitarian movement has proved a complete reaction against what are called the doctrines of the Reformation. It has resulted in the extinction of the religious sentiment. Its popular summary is to the effect, that it makes little difference what one feels or believes, provided he does right. From the society of the Free Religionists back to the original shades of Calvinism is a gloomy road for even the imagination to travel, but no one can pass over it in fancy without perceiving the utter impossibility of persuading one who has once emerged from, ever to return to, the earlier darkness.

To continue in a creed which involved blasphemy against the goodness of God and the denial of all the natural sources of morality, or to surrender one’s self to religious emotion without any solid intellectual principle, or else to place individuals in entire dependence upon their private perceptions of religious and moral truth, and finally pass from one degree of scepticism to another—one of these three alternatives was proposed as the occupation of the American intellect during the most active period of national growth.

The Egyptian darkness which Calvinism brings upon any thoughtful soul was the inheritance of the religious youth of the country. What virtue can exist when total depravity is daily preached? What bar does it put to the passions of man to know or to believe that his salvation does not depend upon his good life? What conception of the universe can he form who sees in it only the work of what a popular preacher has called an “infinite [Pg 149] gorilla”? Nothing is more pathetic than the history which we have of minds whose natural goodness vainly struggled against these detestable heresies. And if the religious heart of New England found in its creed nothing but discouragement, what was the effect of that religion upon the popular mind? Is it not mainly to its influence that all that is repulsive and hard in the Yankee character is to be attributed?

But, on the other hand, what has been left by the decay of emotional religion? It might have been prophesied with safety that the result would be simply a reaction. So far as can be observed, it is nothing more or less. The writer was not a little amused at reading lately in a Methodist paper an editorial charging strongly against the present style of revivals, under the heading of “Religious Fits.” The editor, in the course of his remarks, very bluntly asserted that religious fits are not much better than any other kind of fits—a proposition which sums up the vital weakness of Methodism. And when a whole nation or a large class is reduced to this condition, the recovery from the fit will be attended with great disaster. “The religion of gush,” as it has been forcibly styled, is fatal to morality. It is an attempt to feed a starving man upon stimulants. The appearance of strength which it gives is simply an additional tax upon the system. Emotional religion may succeed in quieting women who are secluded in domestic life, or even the weaker sort of men who are occupied solely in teaching it; but for the common mass, who are daily exposed to temptation, it is, at most, a salve with which the wounds inflicted upon conscience are plastered over. There is nothing in it to discipline the soul before trial, and nothing to repair its weaknesses after it has fallen.

With regard to the results of the naturalistic revolt against Calvinism there is little to be said. The charming writers who have given it prestige are not its product but its cause. In so far as they assert the dignity of human reason against Calvinism, to this extent they are in harmony with our natural instincts and have tended to produce a wholesome influence. But even transcendentalism is past its wane, and will be known in the future only by its literary reputation. Free religion has developed no permanent constructive idea. Its principal effect will be to obliterate whatever of Christianity has clung to the tradition of New England Protestantism. Its mission will be accomplished when all connection between the past and present shall have been effectually broken. It leaves us only a considerable amount of scientific knowledge which we should possess without it. Its morality staggers through the wide range extending from free love and spiritism into the undefined vacuity which it supposes to lie between these bolder theories and old-fashioned uprightness. Like emotional Protestantism, it is wholly incapable of withstanding any strain or of guiding and controlling the absolute individualism which it has created. If the Congregational pastor of Plymouth Church affords a sad example of the impotence of emotional pietism, the unfortunate plaintiff in the lawsuit against him is no less a melancholy instance of the aberrations of the last phase of American Protestantism.

There is little affectation of concealment, on the part of thoughtful Americans, of the conviction that [Pg 150] our national growth and the success of our government are subject to the universal laws according to which past empires have risen and perished. It is to be hoped that the success with which we have been blessed so far will not blind our eyes to this truth. We must have a solid basis of morality, or we are doomed to fall into such a condition as will make our absolute extinction a desirable thing. Whence is this new life to come? Is there anything in American Protestantism which can reverse its steady process of decay and disintegration? Has it any principles which can arrest for one moment the popular tendencies? We are unable to see in it even a “serviceable breakwater against errors more fundamental than its own”; quite the contrary. Its dogmatic front only serves to disgust those who mistake it for Christianity. Protestantism never converted a nation to Christianity or formed one. It could do neither even if it had an opportunity. In its latitudinarian aspect it directly fosters the present vagueness of moral convictions; while its emotional tendency only justifies the substitution of sentiment for reason and nullifies all attempts to subject the feelings to the judgment.

However one may be disposed to prefer the paganism which universally pervades our era to the unlovely fanaticism of earlier times, experience, both past and present, forbids the indulgence of any hope of future success springing from it.

It is hard to imagine what thought has been expended upon this subject by those who profess to see the way out of our present difficulties through a lavish system of public education. We hear declamations on this subject which fill us with bewilderment. If the public schools were able to furnish the people with sound moral instruction, we could understand something of the enthusiasm which describes them as the sources of national morality and as the salvation of the future. God knows we have no desire to cut off one ray of light; but the present moment is not one in which to indulge in madness. The sooner it is understood that our system of education is destroying the generation that is subjected to its influence, the better. It stands to reason that the great need of the hour is to save our children from its evils. Our public education barely succeeds in exaggerating all the moral and physical degeneracies of the day. To develop the desire and capacity for action and enjoyment, without providing means of guiding and restraining within wholesome limits the power thus produced, is simply to court disaster. We are suffering at present from aversion to hard labor and a quiet life from the unbridled desire of wealth and pleasure, from the absence of well-defined moral sentiment. The present system of education, so vehemently applauded, is an aggravation of all the morbid tendencies of our condition. This complaint will not receive much attention coming from this source, but it is finding universal utterance from the medical profession, and its justice will speedily appear to the most casual observer.

There is nothing in paganism, however brilliant its science or art, that can restore the health of a race which is morally corrupt. The “positive stage of development,” as it is styled by a certain class of modern writers, is an age of decrepitude. If the analogy be true which they hold to exist between the life of man and the development [Pg 151] of a race, we must expect death as soon as the “positive” era has been attained. The muscular epoch has passed. The age of delusions has left the mind incapable of anything but observing facts; the demand for artificial stimulants has exhausted the brain of the nation; and the body politic, though surrounded with luxury, is moribund beyond the power of recovery.

While we do not fully accept the analogy of positivism, we are convinced that neither Protestantism nor paganism can raise the nation from the slough in which it seems about to settle. Nor will it be saved by the infusion of fresh blood, as was the ancient world according to some ingenious writers. The Hun and Vandal and Goth would never have changed their originally savage state had they not met in the world that they destroyed an indestructible power which, after surviving the assaults of both Roman and barbarian, by its subtle constructive faculty altered the face of the earth. This power was Christianity, whose work of universal civilization was so fatally marred by the religious catastrophe of the sixteenth century.

Now that the false Christianity of our forefathers has developed its utter worthlessness as a guide, it will be well to inquire whether the religious system, which is historically identified with Christianity, contains any of those elements of stability so lacking in our civilization.

It is not to be expected that such a discussion, even if resulting favorably to Catholicity, will be sufficient to convert the American people to its faith, but it will greatly conduce to removing misconceptions and ignorance on the part of many of our fellow-citizens with regard to the relative merits of Catholicity and Protestantism.

No system can ever prove efficient which is unable to maintain its own integrity. No intellectual movement can hope to exert any large practical influence after it has lost its unity. Protestantism, having begun with a denial of the need of authority, was soon forced to contradict itself in practice in order to preserve its existence. But the principle which had given it life could not be disregarded, and the germ of discord, involved in the idea of a teaching body without any claim to be believed save what private conscience might be willing to concede to it, continued to produce disintegration without end.

The evils of our present exaggerated individualism are universally admitted. Men are united upon all points except those involving moral responsibility. While it is quite clear that in matters of science we are willing to trust to authority, on the other hand, in the more complex and easily perverted order of ideas (involving as they do the gravest consequences), every man is endowed with infallibility. This is simply an inversion of the natural order. The normal and rational order is preserved by Catholicity. With the Catholic Church religious truth as the basis of morality is a tradition whose bearing upon human science and politics always requires fresh application and is co-extensive with the possibility of human growth. But while this application of principle is left to individual effort and furnishes the proper exercise of the intellect, the excesses of individualism are always to be counteracted by a living authority. The ability of the church to maintain her unity has been [Pg 152] demonstrated and perfected in its operation by the storms which the last three centuries have launched against her. The opposition to her, on the contrary, has brought about its own destruction. If the absurdities of modern individualism are to be remedied, the cure lies in an earnest consideration of the claims of Christianity. Protestantism, though a grievous calamity, has served to settle for ever all those questions concerning the supreme source of doctrinal authority which had been raised by the intrigues of the secular power in the middle age. Now it is no longer possible to confuse the sentiment of obedience to authority by reference to unlawful sources. The attack of modern governments upon the church tends still further to circumscribe the limits of secular power, and to define clearly that which belongs to Cæsar and that which belongs to God.

The stability and permanence of Catholic thought are maintained in great measure by the prerogatives of the spiritual power, which promulgates and guards the divine tradition committed to its care. But the real power which that tradition exercises is its truth and its conformity with facts. The divine revelation is made to reason. It supposes a rational being. It is accepted on rational and convincing evidence, and becomes operative in virtue of divine grace. Its aim is to elevate and ennoble human nature and to heal its infirmities. In fulfilling this mission it acts in harmony with God’s other works, always above and with reason, but never against it. It puts no obstacle in the way of human science, which, as the Vatican Council declares, can only contradict revelation by being incomplete or by misinterpreting divine truth. It encourages labor in its development of nature as a means of discipline and as furnishing the necessary condition of peace and civilization. It stimulates art to search after beauty as a means of showing the necessity and embellishing the truth of heavenly doctrine. It is true that the Catholic faith does not permit the intellect to repose in any one of these occupations as its sole end. In the light of divine truth science and art are united by a synthesis; and the rest which faith forbids the soul to take in earthly pursuits is denied by its own nature. The synthesis which faith provides is sought restlessly and eagerly by the mind. Modern thought, which has been turned away from Catholicity, searches vainly for some principle of unity.

The faith which redeemed the ancient world and prepared the germs of that degree of civilization that has not been wholly destroyed by Protestantism, was in no respect like the withering, soul-destroying horrors of Calvinism. The doctrines which supplied matter for the intense intellectual life of the middle age, which corrected Aristotle and piled tome after tome of the close, serried reasoning of St. Thomas Aquinas, was in accord with human reason, vindicated the dignity and powers of man, and stimulated him with fresh vigor in every sphere of science, poetry, and art. Scholasticism was nothing else than an effort of human reason to demonstrate the reasonableness of Christianity. The present generation is so grossly ignorant of those eight hundred years of most intense life which formed Christendom that it is not capable of appreciating their influence and still less their character. But whoever will read the proœmium of the Summa Contra Gentiles [Pg 153] of the “Angel of the Schools” will see the difference between the constructive doctrine of the middle age and the reactionary delusions of the sixteenth century—the bitter fruit of that splendid revival of paganism. Protestantism, viewed as a system of doctrine, was simply an extravagant caricature of the supernaturalism of the Catholic Church. As a system of morality it was nothing else than the emancipation of the passions from the restraints imposed by Christianity. Having destroyed the necessary conditions of faith by denying authority, it presented the ideas of grace and sanctification in such a distorted manner as to render sacraments unnecessary and unmeaning, to do away with free will, merit, and natural goodness—in a word, to abolish human nature. Wherever the heirs of the so-called Reformers have revolted from the unnatural task of propagating their religious system they have left mankind, not simply bewildered by the darkness whence it has emerged, but without the heavenly guidance which genuine Christianity provides. It has robbed men of the light of heavenly doctrine, and has furthermore stripped them of the aid of the sacramental system, the means of the action of divine grace and of the growth of supernatural life, without which natural virtue and natural intelligence cannot long endure in purity.

The present state of our people calls for what Protestantism has not. Justification by faith could not save its first professor from breaking his vows and debauching another person equally bound; nor will its influence increase by repeating his famous dictum, Pecca fortiter sed crede fortius. The evanescence of genuine fanaticism on the part of evangelical religion is no guarantee of a better state of morals. Our people have got beyond simply believing and feeling; they wish to do right, but they are gradually coming to acknowledge that man cannot do right without knowing what he ought to do, viz., what is right; and the best and wisest will confess that they do not know what they ought to do, and that they can see nothing in the future from whence they may expect to learn. Whether they will be content to review the evidences of Catholicity we know not. Many are doing so, but the intense worldliness of the day is not favorable to serious thought on the part, of the multitude. Should, however, the authority of true Christianity be revealed to, and accepted by, them, we may justly expect a development of the utmost significance in the history of the world.

Catholicity not only preserves and restores the Christian truth of which men have been robbed by the heresies of the Reformation, but it preserves, sanctifies, and makes fruitful the natural goodness which remains in the individual, the race, and the nation. But above all things it applies those principles of natural justice and purity which are now so seriously jeopardized.

An unjust man can console himself, when transmitting his dishonest gains to his descendants, by reflecting that he is to be justified by faith alone. This has been done to our certain knowledge, and doubtless every New Englander can recall similar cases. A man who admits the injustice of his transactions can find ways of forgetting his indebtedness. The fraudulent bankrupt can revel in the wealth of his wife and children. Even the thief [Pg 154] who admits in the abstract the obligation of restoring that which he has stolen, without the assistance of the confessional is too apt to cling to that which he has once acquired.

We want, first, to hear the Catholic doctrine of the necessity of restitution in the place of maudlin denunciation of “carnal righteousness.” We want to have it well understood that no amount of exalted emotion will relieve the guilty thief until he has handed over his ill-gotten goods. We do not say that the neglect of this doctrine is the cause of the special cases of corruption which come before our eyes; but we freely assert that the spread of dishonesty is due to nothing less than the ineptitude and fatuity of Protestantism in this respect.

We further assert our conviction that no amount of preaching will change the present widespread disregard of the rights of property. These must be enforced in the private life of each man, backed by a supernatural principle. The means which the Catholic Church has provided for the support and assistance of the individual conscience is the confessional. This it is which has created the very sentiment of honesty that is now dying out among us for want of it. Antiquity did not possess this sentiment. The Greeks encouraged stealing and made a god of theft. The Romans acknowledged only the claims of hospitality and the force of law. Our barbarian ancestors grew and thrived upon piracy and pillage. It was no abstract or speculative doctrine which overcame their savage traits and established the new sentiment which condemns successful villany; nor will the present decay of honesty be arrested by any system which divorces it from the institution that has brought it into existence.

The most fatal symptom, however, of our lapse into paganism reveals itself in that department of morality in which the struggle is carried on with the most lawless of human passions. The morality of Protestantism offered no assistance to the individual in this conflict between reason and the excesses of that instinct which is at once the most necessary and at the same time the least governable. Developments such as Mormonism and the Oneida Community, the increasing frequency of divorce, and the freedom with which the maxims of the ancient Christian morality are questioned, are sufficient to illustrate the decay of fixed principles of morality. Such results are not strange when we recall the actual conduct of the founders of Protestantism. Nor is it unreasonable to expect a certain amount of laxity in an intellectual movement which constitutes each individual his own supreme judge and teacher of morals; but the worst is that the very source of purity is thoroughly vitiated. In ancient Christianity the laws of chastity were clearly defined, peremptory, and plainly set before the intellect. Modern individualism, having begun by denying man’s responsibility and asserting his necessary depravity, has placed the rule of virtue, not in reason, but in instinct. The old morality was a sentiment based upon dogmatic conviction. The modern Neo-protestantism has nothing upon which to depend for its purity of life except the natural feelings of modesty and shame. The very idea of attempting to subject sexual instinct to reason is scouted as an absurdity by popular writers. The license taken by those whose occupation is to amuse the [Pg 155] public every day increases in shamelessness. Art, whether pictorial or dramatic, will not listen to any suggestion of restraint, and the natural sentiment upon which our virtue rests is constantly being weakened.

It is foolishly supposed that this species of disorder, having gone to certain lengths, will at last return to rational limits. It is with some such notion that the enthusiasts, who profess to see in popular education a panacea for all evils, expatiate upon the future. This, however, is mere thoughtlessness. The development of the nervous temperament in the system of a nation is no remedy for this moral illness; on the contrary, the reverse is true. The result is the most dangerous form of sensuality. When an intense and excitable organism, quick in its intellectual movements, eager in its appreciation of beauty, is left to follow its own instincts in the application of wealth, we have the nearest approach to the ancient classic type of culture. The recent development of American art is a source of universal remark. Here the successful artist finds golden appreciation. The diva of the lyric stage, the painter and sculptor, meet with substantial welcome. The growing taste for beauty of line is well known and acknowledged. Extravagance in dress is becoming a national weakness. There is every indication that the next century will witness in our descendants a race more elegant in its tastes, more intense in its enjoyment of every form of beauty, than even the heirs of European refinement—a generation as unlike the ungainly type of Brother Jonathan as an Athenian of the age of Pericles was dissimilar to the rude Pelasgic fisherman of the Hellespont. We think of Greece most commonly in her æsthetic character and influence; but we must not forget that her immorality as recorded in history was hideously dark. The product of her sensuous and overwrought knowledge and enjoyment of nature spread with her literature and art. They brought death to the strong and vigorous race which had overcome the world. The annals of Suetonius and Tacitus, the calm records of current facts, are too obscene to bear circulation among ordinary readers of our day. The literature of their time has to be expurgated before it is fit to be perused by youthful students. The crimes which are charged by the apostle in his terrible invective against the heathen culture, which are rehearsed by Terence and Aristophanes, satirized by Juvenal, laughed at by Horace, celebrated in the flowing measures of Anacreon, Ovid, and Catullus, and coldly set down by historians as the public acts of the cultivated classes—these frightful excesses live to-day, with all their unnatural beastliness, in the exquisitely-wrought marbles and frescos of Pompeii.

There was never a case in which either a nation or an individual was cured of this species of corruption by increasing the æsthetic faculties and amplifying the temptations of wealth. But, it is urged, education gives the rising generation the ability to read, and therefore puts it in the way of acquiring sound instruction. Let it be understood that we believe no parent has a right to deny this instruction to his children; but we bespeak on the part of all earnest men the utmost attention to the practical issue of this theory, in order that they may see how incomplete it is as a safeguard to the virtue of the youth now [Pg 156] growing up. What is the nature of our popular literature? Upon what sort of reading is the newly-acquired art exercised? What is the ratio of books which furnish useful instruction to those works whose aim is solely to amuse and excite the imagination? And of the latter class, what is the proportion between the harmless and noxious publications? Those who receive only elementary instruction practically go to school in order to learn to read novels and the trashy and immoral periodicals whose costly illustrations and increasing number amply prove the increasing demand for them. The influence of the press is necessary and indispensable, but there is nothing in our literature which will in any degree restrain the tendencies of our civilization.

We wish it were possible to use language of sufficient force to express the reality of our perilous condition; for our people have already gone far enough in this direction to excite the utmost alarm. The moral corruption of New England is such as to threaten with extinction the vigorous race which originally inhabited it. The medical profession of this country is so profoundly impressed with the constant decrease in the birthrate of the native stock and with its marked physical decadence, that essays on these subjects are to be seen in every scientific periodical.

Ten years ago Dr. Storer called attention to the fact that, as far back as 1850, the natural increase of the population, or the excess of births over deaths, was by those of foreign origin, and that subsequently the ratio in favor of foreign parents was constantly on the increase. “In other words,” he says, “it is found that, in so far as depends upon the American and native element, and in the absence of the existing immigration from abroad, the population of our older States, even allowing for the loss by emigration, is stationary or decreasing.” Dr. Storer did not hesitate to attribute this fact to the criminal destruction of human life or to the suppression of the family by those whose natural instincts ought to procure its conservation. The evidences of this widespread evil are before us in every daily issue of the press.

The demands of pleasure, the numerous inducements to women to find their occupation outside of domestic life, and to shrink from the duties and cares of maternity—none of those temptations which furnish the occasion of this crime are to be met by increasing the size and beauty of our public schools or by providing the children of the poor with elegant accomplishments. Nor will the result be more favorable if the privilege of the elective franchise is added to the other extra-domestic responsibilities of American women. What, then, is to save us when marriage, if recognized, has ceased to be a desirable state, when luxury and nervous development have subjected the chastity of single life to the severest temptation, and when our inherited morality has vanished in the process of our growth?

If the native American race is not going to die out, it must learn from foreigners the secret of their vitality. Christianity has, in the confessional, the means of applying not only sacramental grace to the fallen and repentant, but of securing them from further disorder. Dr. Storer has told the country very plainly that “the different frequency of the abortions depends, not upon a difference in social position or in fecundity, [Pg 157] but in the religion.” In other words, the cultivated American is far below the ignorant immigrant in morality; and the reason of this is that the immigrant referred to is a Catholic and his employer is not.

Dr. Storer proceeds to observe: “It is not, of course, intended to imply that Protestantism, as such, in any way encourages or, indeed, permits the practice of inducing abortion; its tenets are uncompromisingly hostile to all crime. So great, however, is the popular ignorance regarding this offence that an abstract morality is here comparatively powerless.” This touches the fundamental truth involved in the whole discussion—“an abstract morality” never can prove effective against any concrete evil. But the doctor further expresses his conviction, drawing the legitimate conclusion and stating the fact: “And there can be no doubt that the Romish ordinance, flanked on the one hand by the confessional and by denouncement and excommunication on the other” (he has previously quoted from the pastoral of a Catholic prelate), “has saved to the world thousands of infant lives.”

The American people is beginning to perceive that wealth and culture without true morality mean ruin. If it does not perceive that Protestantism is the cause of its present corruption, it at least confesses that its inherited religion is powerless to remedy the evils of the day. We cannot ask it to reject its false guide much faster than it is doing. We cannot tell how soon it will be able to receive the divine truth of Christianity. It will be no pleasure to us to have the old faith vindicated by the destruction of this people.

We beg to be allowed to preserve our Catholic population and to keep them pure and faithful, at least until non-Catholics can offer something which will meet their own contingencies. If this demand be persistently disregarded and our honest attempt to save ourselves be misconstrued into an assault upon others, we will do the best we can, at all events.

But, in the meantime, let all earnest men admit the reality of danger. Do not let attention be absorbed by particular manifestations of a disease which is universal. The evils which threaten our life will not be removed by retrenchment of government expenses, or by a temporary destruction of party tyranny, or by an ostentatious simplicity in official circles, or by “justification by faith,” or by pietistic feeling, or by acting out individual crotchets, or even by sound moral doctrine in an abstract form, but by the living truth of God, taught by him through human lips, applied by him with divine efficacy through the ministry of human hands. The truth which has saved the ancient world and has produced all that is desirable in modern civilization is alone able to preserve our nation in its future growth.

[Pg 158]


This title will prove a disappointment to those who only associate the idea of a French novel with that typical production of vicious and feverish literature to which the fiction-mongers of France have so long accustomed us, and whose corrupt influence has made itself felt far beyond the limits of the nation which gives it birth. Our present purpose is not to discuss one of those pernicious books, but to consider one which rises as far above their level by its artistic beauty and literary merits as by the nobler tone of its morality. A novel by a Catholic writer, impregnated from first to last with the spirit and principle of the faith, full of noble sentiments, and yet as amusing and as exciting as any “naughty” novel; a book where all the good people, even the holy people, are as charming, witty, odd, or fascinating as if they were anything but holy; a book that conveys in the characters and scenes it brings before us a great moral lesson, and which at the same time absorbs and excites us as powerfully as the cleverest novel of the sensational school, with its inevitable murders and forgeries and double marriages—the appearance of a novel such as this is surely an event that it behoves us to examine closely as the curious literary phenomenon which it is.

Mrs. Augustus Craven’s last work, Le Mot de l’Enigme, which, under the title of The Veil Withdrawn, appeared in The Catholic World simultaneously with its issue in the Correspondant of Paris, is known to most of the readers of the present article, but we would ask them if, when enjoying its persual, they have sometimes stopped to consider what a genuine achievement the book was, and how pregnant with promise for the lighter Catholic literature of the future? Any book by the author of the Récit d’une Sœur is sure to command a wide audience in Europe and America among readers of different languages and creeds; but there are reasons why The Veil Withdrawn should meet with a specially triumphant welcome from us Catholics, for it is in truth a triumph over prejudices whose narrow and tyrannical rule have hitherto been fatal to Catholic fiction. The Récit d’une Sœur, the peerless story that stands unrivalled amidst the literature of the world, taught many lessons to our day, but no one, perhaps, more important, considering its possible results, than that which it conveyed to Catholic writers—namely, that religion, in its most ardent form and its most rigid application, is compatible with the tenderest romance; that human hearts and imaginations, far from being chilled or fettered by the sublime truths of the faith, are kindled and enlarged by their influence; that human passions come into play as powerfully in souls ruled by the divine law as in those that reject and defy it, the only difference being that to the former they are weapons used in noble warfare, servants and auxiliaries, whereas to the others they are tyrants that strike only to destroy. The loves of Alexandrine and Albert revealed this [Pg 159] secret to the world, and this alone would have sufficed to immortalize the Récit. No romance ever reached the skyey heights to which these lovers soared; and yet, while their hearts sang their sweet love-song together, their souls were fixed on God, dreaming of heaven, where their love was to find its perfect consummation, scorning the pitiful meed of earthly happiness, unless it might lead them to the secure possession of the eternal bliss of which this was but the transient foretaste. “Pour la vie, c’est trop court![70] was Alexandrine’s reply when Albert asked her for the ring on which the words were graven, Pour la vie! And such should be the motto of all love worthy of the name.

This pure key-note is struck and sustained with a master-hand throughout the whole story of The Veil Withdrawn, and the success with which the principle it enunciates has been forced into the service of art is the point which we would invite Catholic writers in all countries to consider attentively. Our grand mistake, as a rule, is to assume that Catholic literature, in order to be true to its mission, must be constantly talking of holy things, bringing forward pious maxims and practices; that the heroes and heroines of its stories must be pious people, or else very wicked people whose final cause is the glorification of the pious ones who are to convert them; it must never deal openly with the great problems of life, never grapple with its deepest mysteries, never describe men and women as they ordinarily exist around us—human beings endowed at their birth with the fatal inheritance of Adam, with mighty capabilities for good and evil, with passions and instincts that have to work out their issue to ruin or to endless victory; souls where all the forces are clashing in deadly and desperate strife—these things are forbidden ground to the Catholic novelist. He may tread timidly on the outskirts of the battle-field, but he must not venture into the thick of the fight; he must not lift the veil and let us look upon the scene where this momentous combat is going forward, where nature and grace and all the allied enemies of the human heart are wrestling and striving in fierce war. These things would not be “edifying”; they would not be fit reading for young girls; they might put ideas into their heads and excite their imaginations. And why, we ask, is it invariably taken for granted that Catholic writers only write for young girls? Are there no Catholic men in the world? It might be urged, with better show of reason, that young girls are not obliged to read novels at all—stories, yes; but novels do not form any necessary part of their education. These are intended for men and women—people who have found out the “answer to the riddle,” learned some of the dark and painful lessons of life; who turn to the pages of a novel to find an hour’s harmless recreation, if nothing more, and to forget the dull round of care and vexing realities in the amusement or excitement of imaginary troubles and joys. We are far from saying that the novel has no higher purpose than this; but if it claimed no other, this, in itself, is a legitimate one. Human nature must have relaxation. The most ascetic saints sought recreation of some kind from the strain of work and contemplation. Still more must ordinary mortals seek it; and as novel-reading has become one of the easiest and most popular forms of [Pg 160] mental diversion, it is of the highest importance that it should be of good and wholesome quality. Now, a novel is neither good nor wholesome when it ignores the canons of art, and eschews the true study of human nature, and confines itself to pretty commonplaces and pious allusions and exemplary sentiments exchanged between namby-pamby people who are represented as in a state of society which, practically, has no prototype in real life, where strong passions and conflicting interests and fierce temptations have no existence, but where all difficulties are adjusted by a pious suggestion offered at the right moment by a friend or a book. Grown-up men and women will not be put off with this sort of thing, be they ever such good Catholics; when they take up a novel, they do so for interest or amusement, and, for lack of better, they fall back on the real novels, sensational or otherwise.

This is a lamentable state of things, and as fatal to Catholic writers as to their readers. It is this false idea of the character and requirements of Catholic literature which has brought it to the low ebb at which it now is among English-speaking Catholics, in spite of the growing numbers of a cultivated and intelligent audience. Every one recognizes the fact, and many deplore it, but no one has the courage to attempt the remedy. It would require, indeed, something more than any effort of individual influence to break down the prejudices and puerile traditions that fence in the authorized field of Catholic fiction in the present day, and it is difficult to say which calls for strongest denunciation—the prohibition which excludes certain subjects, or the large license given to the use of others. The Catholic novelist is forbidden to strike the deep, vibrating chords of nature and of souls, but he believes himself free to handle the most sacred subjects, to preach and moralize to the top of his bent. It is hard to speak of this folly as dispassionately as we should wish; but looking at it with all possible indulgence, is there not something in the stupid conceit and self-complacent audacity of it that may justly rouse indignation? We see grave men, who have graduated in the schools, give up long years to the study of sacred science, in order that they may some day be competent to speak worthily on these high themes, that they may learn how to balance the relations of right and wrong, and define the limits of temptation and sin, of cause and effect; and when, with knowledge ripened by study and meditation, they venture to write, it is in a spirit of great reverence and in fear and trembling. On the other hand, we see incompetent laymen, young ladies and young gentlemen fresh from school, utterly inexperienced, but well supplied with the boldness of inexperience and incompetence, dipping a dainty pen into a silver inkstand and proceeding to discourse in a novel of pious subjects—of prayer, and temptation, and sacraments, and priests and the priestly character, and controversial subjects—as flippantly as they might discuss the merits of a new opera or a new costume. And they fancy, forsooth, that this is doing good and giving edification! They imagine that it is enough to mention sacred subjects and emit pious or quasi-pious sentiments in order to reach the human heart and strike the sursum corda on its springs! One could afford to laugh at the silly delusion, if the danger did not lie so close to the folly of it. A [Pg 161] moment’s reflection and a little humility would suffice to convince these well-meaning persons of their mistake. Many of them might really attain their end of edifying if they had only the sense to confine themselves within the range of their powers. If a beginner, or one endowed with a delicate sense of music but limited musical ability, should attempt to perform one of Beethoven’s glorious sonatas, he would only irritate us by spoiling the masterpiece; but if the same person wisely contented himself with playing some simple air, he might afford genuine and unalloyed pleasure, touching some chord of feeling in the listener’s heart, evoking, mayhap, sweet memories of childhood, sacred and long forgotten. Few things provoke the disgust of an intelligent reader, pious or not, more than to come upon religious platitudes in a book ostensibly written to amuse; and the prospect of meeting with this kind of thing at every page is sufficient to prejudice him against a book which bears a Catholic name on the title-page. Even the name of a Catholic publisher brands it at first sight as “dull and silly.” Here, as elsewhere, the cause and effect react upon each other, and the puerile tone and absence of artistic treatment in the author, by failing to gain the favor and attention of the public, paralyzes the most energetic efforts of Catholic publishers, and those few Catholic writers who can command a wider audience are unavoidably driven to the Protestant publishers in order to secure a hearing.

Is it too much to say that a Catholic novelist who would successfully break through these narrow-minded and false theories, and courageously inaugurate a new reign in Catholic fiction, would be conferring a great benefit on our generation? We claim for Mrs. Augustus Craven the merit of having achieved this feat. The mission which she began in the Récit d’une Sœur was successfully continued in Fleurange, and may be said to triumph completely in The Veil Withdrawn. Her last novel is a book which appeals as strongly to the interest of the unbeliever and the heretic as of the most fervent Catholic. The moral lesson it conveys may be accepted or not, just as the reader pleases; it is there, brilliantly and powerfully delivered; but, like so many messages broadly written on the face of nature or faintly whispered to our hearts, we may hearken or we may close our ears to it, as we choose; the story still remains one of enthralling interest, full of tenderest romance, of fiery passion, of picturesque description, of sparkling repartee, of gay and pathetic and thrilling situations. With the skill of a real artist the author lifts the curtain and bids us look into the hearts of our fellow-creatures; she touches the hidden springs, reveals the dubious motives, evil sometimes blending with good so closely that it requires the finest analysis to discern their true proportions, to decompose the elements, and show where and how far each in turn prevails.

The two characters who stand out from the canvas as the leading figures in the picture are brought face to face in the most terrible conflict that human hearts can know. Ginevra—not a child, not a placid convent maiden suspecting no life beyond her “narrowing nunnery walls,” but a woman with a strong, impassioned soul—is first inebriated with the pure wine of permitted happiness; the cup is dashed from her, and she tries [Pg 162] to clutch it in defiance and despair. It eludes her still. She beholds her happiness wrecked, her life blighted, at the very outset. She does not take her rosary, and, with conventional propriety, accept the ruin of her young life with the resigned spirit and smiling countenance of a saint; far from it. The evil that is in her starts into activity and makes a fierce fight against her cruel lot. She plunges into the whirl of society, and tries to drown her misery in such consolations as excitement and gratified vanity can give. We follow her step by step in the perilous career, now trembling at her rashness, now rejoicing at her escape, but never, in the bottom of our hearts, believing that she will prove unworthy of her nobler self.

Let us glance over the story, not to analyze its merits as a work of high art and moral philosophy, but simply to review it in the light of a novel characteristic of our times and full of the stir of nineteenth-century life.

It opens at Messina, in an old palazzo, where Ginevra, blossoming out in her fifteenth summer, sits watching the sea through the half-closed window, listening to the wave sobbing on the beach, unconscious and dreamy, but already vibrating to the “low music of humanity” that stirs the unwakened pulses of her heart. She rivets our attention at the first glance as a creature whose beauty, sensitiveness, and dormant energy of character contain all the elements of some high romance. The description of her home and its inmates forms a charming and animated picture. Fabrizio, the learned and somewhat austere father; Bianca, the mother, with her tenderly brooding love; Livia, the sister, at first so misjudged, but destined to rise to such prestige amidst them all; Ottavia, the fussy, superstitious, devoted old nurse; Mario, the sombre and jealous-tempered brother—they all come before us with the reality of living characters whom we love, fear, or suspect as they gradually reveal themselves. The episode of the flower flung from the window in a moment of frolic and girlish vanity, and which leaves so deep a mark on Ginevra’s life, is cleverly introduced and prepares us for the retribution which awaits the poor child’s innocent misdemeanor. Her life glides on peacefully in the old frescoed saloon, where she cons her book and tends her nightingales, until one day, while high perched on a stool, ministering to her singing bird, the old majordomo flings the door wide open and in a sonorous voice announces Sua eccellenza il Duca di Valenzano! Ginevra starts, and so does the reader; for he knows instinctively that this visitor is the fairy prince of the story, destined to make the golden-haired maiden supremely happy or supremely miserable. Ginevra’s confusion, at being discovered by this illustrious intruder in such an awkward attitude and so childishly engaged, is charmingly described. She knows not whether to be terrified or delighted when the handsome duke goes forward and assists her to descend from her aerial standpoint. But old Don Fabrizio knows what to feel about it, and surveys the group in the embrasure of the window with a glance of stern displeasure. This high-born client of his has nothing in common with Don Fabrizio’s daughter, and it is with undisguised reluctance that the proud lawyer obeys the duke’s request to introduce him to the signorina.

[Pg 163] And now the story is fairly afloat, and we follow it with an interest that grows in proportion as the plot advances, rising in dramatic power at every chapter. We know that Valenzano is not to be trusted, that he has in him all the elements of a faithless lover and a cruel husband; but we surrender ourselves all the same to the charm of his manner, his genius, his irresistible fascinations. The love-making is as warm as the author dares to make it in a country where the freedom of Anglo-Saxon courtship is unknown, and where the course of true love runs smoothly between the contracting families on one side and the family lawyers on the other. Ginevra goes forth to her new life with a mixture of delight and fear that are like the foreshadowing of the flickered destiny that awaits her, and Livia’s voice strikes like a note of painful warning in the concert of the family joy and triumph and congratulation, when she reminds Ginevra that “marriage is like death”—a thing that we wait and watch for, but never know until we have passed the gates and it is too late to turn back. The description of the bridal festivities, when she goes home to her husband’s palace, and, worn out by the grandeur and the glare, takes refuge alone in the quiet starlight, and removes the circlet of glittering jewels from her brow, that cannot bear the pressure any longer, presents one of those pictures of life in the great Italian world that Mrs. Craven excels in depicting.

Life has now become like an enchanted dream to Ginevra. But the first touch of the awakening reality is not long delayed. One night, when the moon was high in the blue heavens and flooding earth and sea with a mystic glory, Ginevra and Lorenzo were sitting on the terrace, listening to the water lapping on the shore, to the nightingales trilling in the ilex groves; the young wife, hushed into silence by the ecstatic beauty of the scene, laid her hand upon her husband’s arm and whispered to him, “Let us lift up our hearts in prayer for one moment, and give thanks for all this beauty.” Lorenzo bent on her a look of tenderest love, and then murmured with a smile, as if answering the poetic folly of a child,

“‘Beatrice in suso, ed io in lei guardava.’[71]

Thine eyes are my heaven, Ginevra. I feel no need to raise my own any higher.” A cold chill like the first suspicion of a great sorrow crept over the young wife. But Lorenzo quickly chased it away, and she tries to banish the memory of it. But we do not forget it. Slight as the incident is, it has all the import of the first growl of the distant thunder, the small patch of cloud, “no bigger than a man’s hand,” upon the summer sky, that are the certain forerunners of the storm.

But the storm will not burst just yet, and meantime we follow Ginevra in her brilliant career, first travelling here and there with her husband, and finally enthroned as a queen in her delightful world at Naples. The first thing that makes us tremble for her is Lorenzo’s startled exclamation of anger—was it?—when he comes upon Donna Faustina’s card amongst those that are left at the young duchess’ door, and the latter, in surprise, asks what it means. He turns it off adroitly, and Ginevra dismisses it from her mind. The interval that follows is bright with incident and pictures of society in Naples and in Paris. We [Pg 164] see Lorenzo at work in his studio, where Ginevra sits to him as a model for his Vestal, and where his rapturous admiration of her beauty makes her recoil instinctively as from a homage unworthy of her, too much “of the earth earthly.” And yet this husband, who is almost an unbeliever, who smiles with indulgent fondness on his wife’s ardent piety, is glad enough that she should have religion to guard her from the perils that beset her on all sides; he recognizes the power and utility of her faith, and is careful not to shock it or to let her see how little he really shares it. Lando, the cousin and boon companion of the duke, now comes upon the scene, and for a time we side with Ginevra in her dislike and suspicion of him; but soon we find out our mistake, and acknowledge that, in spite of his loose principles and wild ways, he is kind-hearted and a stanch and loyal friend to Ginevra. He does his best to save both her and Lorenzo, though to the last he is unable to understand why any woman in her right mind should care so much more for her husband’s love than for his fortune, and why the ruin of the latter should be as nothing to her compared to even a passing breach in the former. The scene at the concert, where she first detects Lorenzo at a card-table, and it breaks upon her that her husband is a gambler, is finely introduced, and the conversation of Lando with the terrified young wife is admirably drawn. But we know that the real crisis in her peace and happiness has yet to come, and we hurry on till Donna Faustina enters. Lorenzo disarms us, and almost gains our sympathy for this evil genius of Ginevra, by the frankness with which he tells her story to the latter; but the relations between all three, as he now tries to establish them, are radically false, and it requires no prophetic eye to foresee how they must end. What barrier have either Faustina or Lorenzo to stem the torrent of passion when it breaks loose—outraged love and desire of revenge on her side, and on his the embers of a love that he fancies dead, but which it only needs the vanity of his own undisciplined nature and the spell of her guilty passion to fan into a livelier flame than ever? While the storm is rapidly rising in this direction, Gilbert de Kergy crosses Ginevra’s path; but she is yet far from suspecting that he is the messenger of fate to her, the one who is to exercise a supreme influence in her life and call out its energies in her soul’s defence with a courage that till now has never been demanded of her. We know how the battle is sure to go with Ginevra, as we foresee the issue with Lorenzo and Faustina. We see the force that will ensure the victory in the one case, just as we see how the want of it must lead to slavery and surrender in the other. And here again the skill and power of the author triumph and afford a striking contrast to the old system we have denounced. She never moralizes, or reminds us that Lorenzo, being a bad Christian, who never goes to Mass or the sacraments, is certain to fall, and that Ginevra, in spite of passions that sway her heart with such relentless power, will come safe out of it because of that restraining force which, like a mysterious presence, rules her even when she is unconscious of it—the author does not say these things; she proves them by making her characters demonstrate their truth and act out their conclusions. We will quote the passage where Gilbert and Ginevra [Pg 165] part, only to meet again in those sweet and tempting days at Naples. Gilbert has been lecturing on his travels with an eloquence that carried away his hearers. Then Ginevra says:

“I remained seated near the mantelpiece, and fell into a dreamy silence, while Diana sat down to the piano. She began to execute, with consummate art, a nocturne of Chopin’s, which sounded to me like the expression, the very language, of my own thoughts.… I woke up from my reverie with a strange thrill, and blushed to the very roots of my hair; for in lifting my eyes I met those of Gilbert fixed upon me, and mine were full of tears. I brushed them away quickly, and muttered something about the effect Chopin’s music always had on my nerves, and then rose and drew near to the piano, where Diana continued to pass her hands in rapid changes over the keys.… Gilbert remained silent and pensive in the place where I had left him, following me with his eyes, and perhaps trying to guess the real cause of my emotion.… When the time had come for me to go, and Mme. de Kergy clasped me to her heart, I no longer strove to repress my tears.… Gilbert gave me his arm and conducted me to my carriage without speaking. As I was entering it, he said in a voice that faltered slightly:

“‘Those whom you are leaving are greatly to be pitied, madam.’

“‘I am still more to be pitied,’ I replied, and my tears flowed freely.

“He was silent for a moment, and then he said:

“‘As for me, I have the hope of seeing you again; for I shall come to Naples, … if I dare.’

“‘And why should you not dare? You will be received and welcomed as a friend.’

“He made no reply, but when he had placed me in the carriage, and I held out my hand to him to say adieu, he murmured in a low voice: Au revoir!’”

And he keeps his word. He goes to Naples and meets Ginevra at a ball, whither she has rushed, half mad with despair and jealousy, reckless of everything resolved to drown the anguish of her heart in the intoxication of gayety and the adulation of the world, that until now she had carelessly despised. It was the night after the masked ball at the Festina, where, on the impulse of the moment, she and her beautiful friend Stella went as dominos to join in the fun and mystify their friends a little. Ginevra recognized Lorenzo’s stately figure the moment she entered the ball-room, and, terrified at finding herself alone in the crowd, seized hold of his arm, clinging to him in silence. Lorenzo, deceived by the color of her domino, mistakes her for Faustina, whom he is expecting. He stoops low and whispers a tender welcome in her ear. Ginevra, with a stifled cry, starts from him and rushes frantically from the scene. The next night, with the delirium of this discovery upon her, she goes forth in her loveliest attire to dispute the palm of beauty with the rest.

“I had my diamonds and pearls brought out, and I gave precise directions as to how I intended to wear them; this done, long before the time came I began my toilet and spent an endless time over it. So many women seem to take pleasure in making a triumphant entry into a ball-room, I said to myself, and in being flattered and admired, why should I not taste of this pleasure as well as they? I am beautiful, I know that—very beautiful even. Why should I not attract and indulge my vanity and coquetry like other women?”

And she does attract, and her vanity is satisfied to overflowing. Her beauty and the dazzling splendor of her jewels create a perfect furore the moment she appears. She announces her intention of dancing, and the noblest cavaliers in the room are at her feet in a moment, quarrelling for the honor of [Pg 166] her hand. Never was the triumph of a coquette more complete than Ginevra’s. Her youth and its instinctive love of pleasure vindicated themselves for a time, and she enjoyed her success to the full; but as the night wore on nobler instincts asserted themselves, worthier voices made themselves heard above the din of this ardent and puerile vanity, and Ginevra feels the cold chill of remorse stealing over her; a sense of vague misfortune takes possession of her and stills her feverish gayety like a touch of ice. Her last partner leads her to her seat, and she sinks into it exhausted and miserable.

“At the same moment,” she says, “I heard near me a voice well known though well-nigh forgotten—a voice at once calm, strong, and sweet, but which now sounded slightly sarcastic. ‘Although I cannot aspire to the honor of dancing with the Duchess de Valenzano, may I hope that she will deign to recognize me?’

“I turned around quickly. The speaker who stood there and thus addressed me was Gilbert de Kergy.”

The ordinary French novelist had here a fine opportunity for bringing matters to a crisis between Ginevra and Gilbert; but the present author uses it differently. Gilbert does not take advantage of the temporary madness of Ginevra to gain influence over her and beguile her from her allegiance to Lorenzo, faithless and cruel as he is. Gilbert is far too noble for this, and his first feeling, on beholding his ideal in this dangerous and unworthy atmosphere, is one of censure and poignant regret. Neither he nor Ginevra is of the conventional type of defaulters; both are good, high-principled, and brave; they are both practical Christians, and the idea of betraying their duty to God and to their own honor would have revolted them had it presented itself in its naked horror. But it did not. The approach was gradual, imperceptible. And here we have a great truth illustrated—one which it is customary in Catholic authors to ignore practically, if not theoretically: The possession of the faith and the practice of religion do not act as opiates on human beings, deadening their hearts and annihilating nature, and lifting them to a secure region where the great temptations of life cannot reach them, or where, if they do, they glide off harmless as arrows glance from the steel cuirass of the soldier. Ginevra is pure and true as ever woman was who vowed at the altar “that most solemn vow that a woman can utter”; she was, moreover, genuinely pious. Gilbert was the very ideal of manly chivalry and honor and goodness, an accomplished type of the Christian gentleman; but neither he nor she was fireproof when the time of trial came. He loved Ginevra before he knew it; and she, forsaken, humiliated, stung in her love and her wifely pride, is thrown into his constant companionship, not by her seeking, but through one of those accidents to which women of her class and circumstances are liable every day. She is grateful for Gilbert’s brotherly regard, she admires his noble life and his sentiments, so true, so different from those of other men; she is grateful to him for the frank rebuke which he spoke out at the ball when she was drifting she knew not whither. Step by step the friendship grows to a tenderer feeling, and at last culminates in a love whose depth and power Ginevra does not even suspect, so gradual has been its development. We tremble for her; but even when we see her tottering blindfold on the edge of the abyss, we feel certain she will never [Pg 167] take the fatal plunge. All this is depicted with infinite delicacy and rare psychological skill.

Livia now reappears upon the scene as one of the visible forces that are guarding Ginevra along the slippery road. Livia is one of the most striking and carefully drawn of the subordinate characters. It is worth mentioning en passant that here, as elsewhere, Mrs. Craven breaks boldly through the time-honored traditions of the Catholic novelist. The holier and more spiritual-minded her dramatis personæ, the brighter, more sympathetic and accessible they are. Stella, the heroic friend in days of sorrow, so gifted, so beautiful, so untainted with the spirit of the world where she lives and moves—Stella has the high animal spirits of a school-girl, the glad heart—le sang joyeux, as she herself calls it—of a happy child. Livia, who in her father’s home was pensive almost to melancholy, the moment she embraces the austere rule of the cloister, spending her days in the contemplation of heavenly things, grows as merry as a lark. Joy is henceforth the keynote and regulator of her life; we have no trace of the downcast face and solemn, mournful voice that have hitherto been characteristic of pious people in novels. No one pulls long faces here, or whines or sighs, except it may be those who have forsaken the fountain where true joy has its spring, to drink of the poisoned waters of this world’s pleasures, of sin, ambition, or folly. How winning, too, is Livia’s tender interest in the gay life of her brilliant young sister! She has not closed her heart against the actors on the world’s stage outside her convent gates, but keeps her sympathies wide open to all life and all humanity beyond them.

“‘Gina mia, you don’t tell me everything,’ she says one day that Ginevra is conversing with her through the grating. ‘Is it that you think I take no interest in your life now?’

“‘It is not only that, Livia, but it is difficult to talk about such trivial, foolish things in presence of these bars and looking at you as you stand behind them.’

“‘Nay, it is always good for me to hear you and for you to talk to me,’ replied Livia. ‘It is true that when Aunt Clelia comes here with her daughters, I put on a severe countenance now and then, and tell them pretty plainly what I think of the world; … but I must say that my aunt bears me no malice for it, for she counts on my vocation to get good husbands for Mariuccia and Teresina.… She does not look upon me as “jettatrice” at all now, I can tell you!’

“She laughed so merrily as she spoke that I could not help exclaiming with envy and surprise:

“‘Livia, how happy you are to be so gay!’”

The sense of humor, so essential to preserve the balance in true mental power, is not wanting in this story. Donna Clelia is lightly and brightly touched. She is everywhere true to herself; self-important, silly, and good-natured, she and her daughters are redeemed from hopeless vulgarity as much by their naïveté and naturalness as by the sheer inability of the author to depict vulgarity—a fact which we notice without comment, leaving our readers to decide whether it be a merit or a fault. Donna Clelia’s intense satisfaction at being able to parade “my niece, the duchess” is one of those touches that throw a character into striking relief. Her enthusiasm for the “view” from the baronessa’s house, where “not a donkey-boy, nor a cart, nor a horse, nor a man, nor a woman could pass in the narrow street but you saw them so plainly you could tell the pattern of their clothes,” gives us the measure of her artistic perceptions, [Pg 168] while her raptures over the situation “with the church on one side and the new theatre on the other … figurateir! so that the baronessa can let herself into the church on the right, and through a passage into her box in the theatre on the left,” is equally characteristic of the manners and minds of the society around her. The description of the splendid pageant of the Carnival, passing under Donna Clelia’s balcony, is as spirited a bit of picturesque writing as we have come upon for a long time. But we hurry on through these gay and vivid scenes, impatient for the crisis that is at hand between Gilbert and Ginevra. Nothing, so far, had prepared our heroine for its approach.

“Apparently,” says Ginevra, “and in reality, our intercourse was precisely what it had always been; every word he said to me might have been said before the whole world. I felt, it is true, that he spoke to me as he did not speak to any one else, and I, on my side, spoke to no one as I did to him. We were seldom alone, but every evening, in the drawing-room or on the terrace, he managed to converse with me for a moment or two when no one was by. He did not disguise from me that these stolen moments were to him the most enjoyable of the evening, and I knew they were the same to me. From time to time something indefinable in his voice, in his glance, even in his silence, made me shudder as at some threat of danger. But as he had never swerved by so much as a word from the position he had assumed towards me—that of a friend—my slumbering conscience did not awake!”

The awakening, however, came at last. The immediate occasion of it was an eruption of Vesuvius, which is described with a dramatic power worthy, if possible, of the sublime and terrible subject. The mountain is on fire; the lava streams forth from a rent in its side, and, strong and pitiless as fate, flows on over vineyards and villages and smiling gardens, spreading desolation before it. Ginevra, with a large party of friends, goes out to witness the magnificent spectacle from a safe eminence. She and Gilbert are thrown together and climb to the top of a hillock overlooking the scene of the conflagration. The flames rose on all sides as in some vengeful apocalypse, high, fantastic, awful. Ginevra could not take away her eyes from the sight, but gazed on it as on some mysterious apparition that held her spell-bound. At last she exclaimed:

“‘This is truly la città dolente! We have before our eyes a faithful picture of the last day!’

“Gilbert did not answer. He was a prey to some emotion more poignant than mine, and, in glancing towards him in the lurid glare of the fire, I was frightened by the change in his features and their strange expression. ‘Would to heaven,’ he muttered at last, ‘that it were so in reality, and that the last day were come for me! Yes, I wish I could die here, on this spot, near you and worthy of you!’

“In spite of the appalling scene around us, in spite of the roar of the detonations thundering above the dull noise of the lava, the accent of his voice struck upon my ear, and his words made my heart leap up with an emotion mingled with terror.

“‘You are growing giddy,’ I said, and my voice trembled. ‘Take care; the effect of looking long at this is sometimes to draw one on to the abyss.’

“‘Yes, Donna Ginevra,’ he replied in the same strange tone, ‘you are right; I am giddy and I am walking on to the abyss. I know it. I exposed myself rashly; I presumed too much on my strength.’

“The look which he fixed upon me in pronouncing these words gave them a meaning which it was impossible to misunderstand. It was no longer Gilbert who was speaking to me; it was no longer the man to whom I fancied I had granted only the safe privileges of a friend. The bandage which I had wilfully placed upon my eyes fell off in an instant, and, in the sudden emotion which [Pg 169] followed, the sight of the roaring flames that encircled us, the certain peril to which one step further would lead us, appeared to me as the exact representation of the danger to which I had madly exposed my honor and my soul! For one moment I covered my face with my hands, not daring to utter a word. At last I said in a voice of supplication:

“‘Monsieur de Kergy, cease to look upon the fire that surrounds us; lift up your head and see how, far above this hell, the night is calm and beautiful!…’

Gilbert’s eyes followed mine and remained for some time fixed upon the peaceful stars, that seemed, indeed, as far away from the terrible convulsion of nature as from that which was agitating our souls. Mine felt the need of a mighty help, and I murmured in a low voice, and with a fervor which had long been absent from my prayers: ‘O my God! have pity upon me.’ A long silence ensued, and then Gilbert said in a voice that was low and tremulous:

“‘Will you forgive me, madame? Will you trust yourself to me to lead you from this place?’

“‘Yes, I will trust you,’ I replied. ‘But let us make haste to leave it, for it is dangerous.…’

“‘Do not fear,’ he said in a tone that had resumed its wonted calmness; ‘we must make haste, but the only danger would be if you were to become frightened. Give me your hand.’

“He would have taken it, but I hesitated and made an involuntary movement, as if I meant to descend without his help.

“‘In the name of Heaven,’ he said quickly, and trembling with agitation, ‘don’t refuse my assistance in this extremity! You cannot do without it; you must give me your hand!’

“His voice was now almost imperious; I gave him my hand, and, grasping his arm firmly with the other, we descended the hill slowly together.”

But although this first victory is the sure guarantee of the ultimate one, Ginevra has a fierce battle yet to fight. Perhaps it will be better that our cursory notice of the story should, however, end here, and that we should leave our readers to discover the sequel for themselves: how the same strong hand which held Ginevra safe on the brink of the precipice led her faithfully through the peril, and brought her back, not only to the inward peace which follows every generous renunciation, every conquest over self, but how it finally won back her husband’s love, crowning them both with a joy such as they had never known in the days of their early happiness. The fitness of Lorenzo’s punishment, the wreck of his fortune through one passion and the vengeance brought upon his selfish pride by the other, is worked out with a constructive art of no mean order. The minor characters and their parts are carefully finished and satisfactorily disposed of. Livia to the last shines like a sweet, pure star above the horizon of Ginevra’s stormy life, pointing onwards and upwards with faithful hand, never too strong for pity or too far removed for sympathy, sorrowing with those who mourn, rejoicing with those who rejoice. Her interview with Ginevra after the fearful ordeal through which the latter has passed, when she comes like one who has been “saved, but through fire,” to seek consolation in the peaceful atmosphere of the convent, rises to a high degree of power. We are strongly tempted to quote the scene between Padre Egidio and Ginevra, but it is almost too sacred to be made matter of critical comment, and would lose, moreover, much in effect by being detached from the complete frame, and especially from the crucial experiences which prepared Ginevra’s soul for that touch of the divine hand which healed and strengthened and uplifted her in one instant. Such an episode can only be appreciated in its proper place as part of a whole which [Pg 170] justifies and glorifies it. The close of the story is full of deep pathos.

It is significant that this novel, which is recognized as the herald of a new era in Catholic literature, should have made its appearance at the same time in France and in America. May we not venture to infer from the coincidence that America, in harmony with sound Catholic teaching, placing greater confidence in human nature, may aid in redeeming Catholic English fiction, and prove to the world that the faith does not paralyze the imagination, but elevates it; leaving the novelist at liberty to deal with the deepest problems of life, to disport himself freely in the wide realms of fancy, nature, and the world, and, guided and enlightened by the Spirit of truth, to grasp with a firm hand and turn to the best account all those things that come within the scope and province of art?

[69] Le Mot de l’EnigmeThe Veil Withdrawn. By Madame Craven. Translated by permission. New York: The Catholic Publication Society. 1875.

[70]For life, is too short!”

[71] “Beatrice gazed upwards, and I on her did gaze.” —Dante.


“Good and evil fortune are to a brave man as his right hand and his left: he uses either equally well.”—Saying of S. Catherine of Sienna.

Charitas Pirkheimer, the eldest daughter of John Pirkheimer and Barbara Löffelholz, was born on the 21st of March, 1466. Her family was a distinguished one in the annals of Nuremberg, her native town, one of those old free cities of Germany whose burghers, as Æneas Sylvius, afterwards Pope Pius II., once said, were better lodged and more daintily fed than the kings of Scotland. Among the citizens of Nuremberg there was a kind of prescriptive aristocracy or patriciate composed of those families technically called “Rathsfähig”—that is, capable of being elected members of the ruling body or council of the little republic. Of those whose names occur again and again in this history one of the most ancient was that of the Pirkheimer, who, for at least a hundred and fifty years before the birth of Charitas, had been celebrated for their learning, piety, and statesmanship. Upright and honorable in their private life, as well as in the execution of their public trusts, they were looked up to by all, and their women no less than their men were distinguished for strength of character, love of learning, and solid, enlightened piety.

Nuremberg was at that time a centre of art and letters. Her youths went to Italy and studied at the old universities of Padua and Bologna, whence they brought back the prevailing enthusiasm for classical lore; the new art of printing had found in her citizens discerning [Pg 171] patrons; the streets were full of the beautiful houses of the rich merchants; churches and monasteries adorned with treasures of sacred art abounded, as even to this day the passing tourist can see; Albert Dürer, Adam Krafft, and Peter Vischer made their native city known far and wide in the world of art; while Regiomontanus drew his astronomical instruments from Nuremberg and published his works there, and his disciple, Martin Behaim, a Nuremberger by birth, discovered the sea-route to the East Indies. Literature was even more firmly established, and John Pirkheimer himself instituted a sort of academy after the model of those of the Italian princes. Wilibald, his only son and the last of his name, continued his work and became famous as the friend or patron of nearly all the renowned men of learning of his time.

Among these refining influences Charitas grew up, and early showed her enthusiasm for “polite” studies. The historians of Nuremberg, Lützelberger and Dr. Lochner, both Protestants, have left high testimony of the breadth of her intellect and the great consideration in which she was held by men of all parties. The latter calls her “a gifted, enlightened, pious, and prudent woman, who has conferred lasting honor on the Convent of St. Clare,” and who “deserves a high degree of respect for the firmness and dignity with which she withstood the storm of the Reformation, which to her and her community was a sorrowful event.” Lützelberger, in a lecture delivered at Nuremberg, said to his Protestant audience:

“The Reformation was a deep grief to her pious heart, accustomed as it was to the gentle amenities of convent life, and, if we would judge her aright, we must put ourselves entirely in her circumstances. But this done, she will appear to us peculiarly worthy of respect and consideration as a gifted and conscientious opponent of the new religion.… Both by speech and in writing did she oppose all attempts to convert her; and even if we differ from her, we cannot but admire her earnest conviction, her prudence and understanding, and especially the patience which she added to her other virtues.”

Her father, John, was at the time of her birth a doctor of civil law (the degree had been conferred at the University of Padua), and was shortly after called to the service of the Bishop of Eichstädt, William of Reichenau, as counsellor, in which capacity he also for some years served the Duke of Bavaria and the Archduke of Austria at their respective courts at Munich and Innsbrück. He was also often sent as envoy and representative to other courts, after which services he returned to his native city and died there, a member of the council. Of his seven daughters only one married—Juliana, the youngest; the rest all took the veil. Charitas and Clara were joined in a lifelong friendship in the Convent of St. Clare in Nuremberg. By all accounts the former seems to have entered the convent at the age of twelve, whether as a novice or a scholar we are not told. The convent had existed as a Clarist institution for two hundred years, when some nuns of Söflingen, near Ulm, had introduced the Franciscan rule; but the building, which was several centuries old, had been tenanted before by a community of Sisters of St. Mary Magdalen. All the nuns, with very few exceptions, were Nurembergers by birth and descent (this was a condition of their admittance); and as each generation of every illustrious family was represented [Pg 172] by one or two members, the convent had become peculiarly a cherished local institution, whose welfare was closely connected with that of the town. One of the council was charged with its temporal concerns, and gifts and bequests were often made to it by the citizens. It was also the school where the young girls of patrician family were mostly educated.

A model of strict observance and reformed rule, it was under the spiritual direction of the barefooted Franciscans, who, in the middle of the fifteenth century, under the protection of Pope Eugenius IV., had, in a time when discipline was relaxed in many of the houses of their order, taken up their abode in Nuremberg and put things upon the old ascetic footing ruled by the great reforming saint, Francis of Assisi.

Apollonia Tucher was Charitas’ best and dearest friend. They lived together more than fifty years, and died within a few months of each other. Through her Charitas also learnt to know and appreciate Sixtus Tucher, her cousin, the provost of St. Lawrence, also a prominent man in those days. Apollonia was at that time prioress and Charitas a teacher in the convent school. The provost kept up a regular correspondence with the two nuns, of which unfortunately one part has been lost; but all his letters are preserved, and were first translated into German by his nephew, Christopher Scheurl, and dedicated to a successor of his at St. Lawrence—Provost George Behaim. His advice to Charitas and her friend was a great boon, and now and then he would send little presents, such as gilt lanterns for the church, which he always accompanied by some symbolical warning. Among other things, he once reminded them that the convent life alone was not enough to save their souls. “There is no other way to deserve the eternal Fatherland,” he says, “but by industriously keeping all God’s commandments.” He also furnished them with books, a Commentary on the Liturgical Hymns and Sequences, 1494, and 1506, and the Discourse of St. Augustine on the Siege of Hippo. This was sent apropos of a siege in 1502 which Nuremberg suffered at the hands of the Margrave Casimir, and during which three hundred brave and noted burghers, all heads of families, lost their lives. On the occasion of her father’s death, in 1501, he writes to Charitas:

“Therefore we must not sorrow when a man has deserved to return from a strange land to his own country, from an inn to his own house, from work to rest, from death to life, from time to eternity, and especially when he has, by a blessed exchange, accumulated many good works; for we are all like unto merchants sent into this pilgrimage of earth, that with temporal goods we may buy and win eternal life.”

This learned and holy man died at the age of forty-six, in 1507, but not before he had seen his friend Charitas chosen abbess of St. Clare. She was only thirty-eight, but her strength of character made the choice unanimous; and if the nuns could have foreseen what a stormy time they would soon have to tide over, they would have congratulated themselves still more on their good sense in electing her. From henceforth she was the heart and soul of the convent: the nuns looked to her for advice, support, and comfort; the council saw in her a distinguished, learned, and enlightened countrywoman, the example not only of her own community, but of those in the neighborhood who followed her lead. One of the first events [Pg 173] that marked her rule was the attack of the plague which visited Nuremberg in 1505 and laid low one of her own spiritual family. She insisted upon nursing the sick nun, notwithstanding the remonstrances of her anxious sisters, and was rewarded by the recovery of the patient. In those years of peace and prosperity the convent fully vindicated its claim to being a house of happy labor. Besides the instruction given to the young girls of the city, the nuns were occupied in various artistic works, such as illumination, copying, and embroidery. Their particular industry was the manufacture of carpets and tapestries for hangings. They fulfilled orders for public and civic buildings, as well as for private families, and once the town council gave the imperial regalia into their hands for putting in order for the coronation of Charles V. at Aix-la-Chapelle. Nuremberg had the care of these venerated garments, and was jealous of its reputation; so that the nuns felt a high responsibility in being allowed to handle and repair such treasures. They carefully mended and re-embroidered the white dalmatic, and lined other pieces of the imperial dress, until they were fit to do honor to the care of the city of Nuremberg. The convent had also a library of some note for that time, the Scriptures and the fathers of the church forming the principal part of it. Charitas’ favorite among the latter was St. Jerome. She was solicitous concerning the daily reading of the Scriptures, both in Latin and in German, which was done in common as well as in private—a fact which she brought to her own defence in the evil days that followed. She might truly say that she stood on evangelical ground; for, as she wrote to the learned but scarcely Christian Celtes, she saw in Scripture the “field of the Lord, whence learning must draw the kernel from the shell, the spirit from the letter, oil from the rock, and blossoms from the thorn.”

She had much to do also to manage the temporal concerns of her house. The town demanded a yearly account of her stewardship; and in every report made by the council on her administration there is nothing but praise and recognition of her business talents. She corresponded with a circle of lettered friends whom she knew through her brother Wilibald, and these literary friendships form one of the most interesting phases of her life. Conspicuous among her friends was her brother himself, the friend of Albert Dürer, who has left us a portrait of him, the correspondent of Erasmus, the polished man of letters, the scholar of two Italian universities, for some time the head of the council of the republic, and the leader of the Nuremberg contingent in the war with Switzerland (1499). This last office he held when he was only twenty-nine, and he afterwards became the historian of the war. When the first beginnings of the Reformation disturbed and excited all thoughtful minds in Germany, he looked upon them as simple moral reforms, a renewal of ancient fervor and discipline. But as the true nature of the changes heralded by Luther broke upon him, he separated himself from the movement and rallied to the side of the church doctrines so ruthlessly attacked. He proved a great support to his sister in the days when the convent was under the ban of the triumphant Reformers of Nuremberg, and his opinion of the classical studies which some of the atheistic [Pg 174] literati would fain have exalted as the only learning fit for civilized men was clearly expressed in these words: “It is not my belief that Christian knowledge is incomplete without heathen literature. God forbid! Divine Wisdom needs no human inventions, and it is possible to attain to the highest point of theology without the help of Plato and Aristotle.” Wilibald was accustomed to write to his sister in Latin, as Sixtus Tucher also did, and Charitas’ style, notwithstanding her lowly opinion of her own proficiency, was such as to do honor to her education. He often sent her presents of books—for instance, the Hymns of Prudentius, the Christian poet, and some writings of her favorite doctor, St. Jerome. Later on he dedicated to her the works of Fulgentius, which he had edited. Both Charitas and her sister Clara were great admirers of Erasmus and diligently read his German translation of the New Testament (in 1516), as well as some works of the famous scholar Reuchlin (1520). To the former Charitas excused herself from writing “on account of her bad Latin,” but sent him many complimentary messages through her brother, and both he and Reuchlin spoke of her in high terms in their letters to Wilibald. Clara also was marvellously fond of books, and playfully told her brother that there was nothing she envied out of her convent except his library. The women of the Pirkheimer family all seem to have been distinguished for their love of art and books. Catherine, Charitas’ niece, was almost a transcript of her aunt and showed a wonderful strength of character. The abbess’ married nieces were earnest and generous women, a great support to the convent in the evil days that followed; and her sister Sabina, the abbess of a Benedictine monastery on the Danube, was a patroness of sacred art, the friend of Dürer, who sent her designs for her illuminations and took great interest in the school of miniature-painting established in her community.

Celtes was one of Charitas’ correspondents, and dedicated to her his compilation of the works of Roswitha, the poet-nun of Gandersheim in the tenth century. On the occasion of his being attacked by robbers she writes him a letter of condolence, in which, in the style of the day, she alludes to “the precious treasure of true wisdom, which is the noblest and only possession wherein consolation may be found”; but at another time she thinks it due to her conscience to speak to him of a higher wisdom, and says:

“Your worthiness, of which I am a humble follower, will pardon me for being also a lover of your salvation, and therefore do I beseech you from my heart, not, indeed, to give up worldly knowledge, but to add to it that higher one which will lift you from the writings of the heathen to the sacred books, from the earthly to the heavenly, from the creature to the Creator. For although no kind of knowledge or experience ordained of God is to be despised, yet a virtuous life and the study of theology is to be considered above everything; for man’s mind is weak and may err, but true faith and a good conscience can never err.”

Christopher Scheurl, a clever jurist and called the Cicero of Nuremberg, who had learnt letters at the University of Bologna, dedicated his book on “The Use of the Mass” (Utilitates Missæ) to Charitas, and sent it to her from Bologna, where it was printed in 1506, through his uncle, Sixtus Tucher. In his dedication Scheurl says that in all his life he has only known two women—the [Pg 175] pious Cassandra of Venice and Charitas of Nuremberg—who “for their gifts of mind and fortune, their knowledge and high station, their beauty and their prudence, could be compared to Cornelia, the mother of the Gracchi, and to the daughters of Lælius and Hortensius.” He praises her that, following the example of her illustrious ancestors, she has preferred “the book to the wool and the pen to the spindle,” and proved her high degree of mental culture by such remarkable letters as he had seen and received.

Albert Dürer was also often in communication with the sister of his friend Wilibald. He, with the administrator of the convent, Kaspar Nützel, and another companion, had gone in 1518 to the Reichstag at Augsburg, where the painter was to take the old Emperor Maximilian’s portrait. They wrote her a joint account of their doings there, which she received in the same jesting spirit as it was written; for she says she “cried for laughing” when she read it. She also touches on the political questions of the day, and playfully gives them each his lesson to learn in Augsburg. The convent administrator was to admire in the Swabian Confederation “an example of strict observance”; the secretary of the council, Lazarus Spengler, was to observe “the apostolical life in common” of the members; and the painter to take note of the fine buildings for which Augsburg was famous, in case they might some day want good designs for the rebuilding of the convent choir. She also bade them not to forget the “little gray wolf” among the stately black and white habits of the religious of Augsburg (her nuns wore a gray habit), and alluded to the three men as the captive “sand-hares”—a name given to the burghers of Nuremberg, first in scorn, but now become a mere jest.

Charitas’ mind was like a diamond of many facets; she was no angular, sour ascetic, narrow in her sympathies and petrified in her prejudices, but a genuine, warm-hearted woman, with as much love for innocent mirth on the one hand as for the widest researches of learning on the other. With her the words of her contemporary, Abbot Trithemius, were true—“To know is to love”—and her affection for her own family, no less than her appreciation of the intellectual movement of the age, is shown in her voluminous correspondence. She and her brother often exchanged little simple domestic presents, and she delighted to send him sweetmeats, preserves, and cakes made in the convent, often with her own or her nieces’ hands.

But she was not destined to end her life in these pleasant and peaceful interchanges of friendship. The storm was brewing, and the “new learning,” or new doctrine, as it was called, was beginning to take formidable proportions and go far beyond the needed reforms which Pope Adrian VI., one of the noblest men who ever sat in the apostolic chair, so anxiously recommended to the nuncio Chieregati on the occasion of the Reichstag at Nuremberg in 1522. Charitas grieved to see holy things indiscriminately attacked, often with unworthy motives cloaked by the convenient plea of conscience and zeal for the Gospel, and grieved still more to hear no voice among her learned friends raised in defence of all she held dear. At last, however, Jerome Emser, licentiate of canon law at Leipsic, and private secretary of Duke George of Saxony, published [Pg 176] a masterly defence of the old faith, and Charitas eagerly read it through and caused it to be read aloud to the nuns during meals. The sisters and the abbess of the Convent of St. Clare at Eger, who had sent her Emser’s writings, begged her to acknowledge them in a letter to the author, which she accordingly did, writing in fervent, unconstrained terms and thanking him in the name of her sixty sisters and all other convents of her order. But this letter fell into other hands, and in a distorted, mutilated shape, and accompanied by a malicious commentary on its sentiments and motives, was published by an enemy of Emser and Charitas. Even her brother Wilibald, who had not yet seen through the real motives of the Reformers, was vexed at her taking part in the fray, and told her she had better have held her tongue. This was the beginning of a teasing persecution of pin-pricks which gradually became serious and well-nigh insupportable as years went on. Her brother, when he had fully rallied to the Catholic party, had left the council and could be of little practical use to his sister, while the majority of the council were decidedly hostile. The convent’s administrator especially used his station and authority only to torment the poor nuns. Charitas at this time began to keep a diary, of which her biographer has made good use. Dr. Lochner, the historian of Nuremberg, recognizes that many evil deeds were done in the name of religion; and as to the case of the Convent of St. Clare, he says that “it was the victim of that force which at many times clothes itself in the garb of a moral and divine reform, without being any the less mere force, the right of the strongest.”

In 1524 Charitas says:

“There came to the convent many strangers, men and women, but especially the latter, to tell the nuns the new things that were being taught from the pulpit, and to represent to them what a ‘damnable’ state was that of the religious life, and how impossible it was for them to be saved in the cloister, adding most unceremoniously that nuns were all the devil’s creatures. Many citizens spoke threateningly of withdrawing their relatives from the convent, whether the persons in question wished it or no.”

As may be supposed, these attacks made no impression on the sisters; but the town council, ready enough now to seize upon any pretext, ascribed their steadfastness to the influence of their spiritual directors, the Franciscans, and ordered the convent to be put under the control of the new preachers. Charitas immediately drew up a petition, which was approved by the community, in which she represented to Kaspar Nützel, the administrator, that this was the first time for forty-five years that she had seen her sisterhood in grief, and went on to beseech him, as he had always been her friend and supporter in temporal matters, so, now that she required his help more than ever, he would not fail her in this spiritual distress. She likewise wrote to Jerome Ebner, another of the highest dignitaries of the council, whose daughter Katharine was one of her community; and to Martin Geuder, her brother-in-law, to whom she touchingly appealed on the ground of the innocence and evangelical character of the community.

“I beg of you,” she says, “do not allow yourself to be persuaded by those who untruly say that the clear word of God is hidden from us; for, by the grace of God, this is not so. We have the Old and New Testaments here as well as you who are out in the world; we read it day and night, at meals, in the choir, in Latin and in German, [Pg 177] in common and in private. By God’s grace we know well the holy Gospels and St. Paul’s Epistles, but still I think he is more praiseworthy who fulfils the Gospel’s precepts in his actions than he who has them always on his lips, but does not act up to them.” She continues: “We desire to be no burden or offence to any one; but if any one can point out an abuse, let him do so, and we will gladly reform it. For we acknowledge ourselves to be weak creatures, who may go easily astray, and who do not dare to take pleasure in good works. We only ask that no one shall do us wrong and violence, and that we shall not be forced to do that which we consider a disgrace and against our eternal salvation.”

Charitas’ former petition to Nützel was now supplemented by a more formal petition of the convent, addressed to the town council. She protested against the violent change meditated, and repelled the idea of submitting to spiritual directors imposed by the republic; she asked the councillors why they should object to a few women voluntarily living in common, and besought them not to root up a time-honored institution which was so intimately connected with the annals of their native city. Part of the council was decidedly in favor of less violent measures, and by the advice of these members the intrusion of Lutheran directors was put off for a time and affairs left to take their own course; but the lull was but momentary. People still besieged the convent, threatening its inmates and disseminating scandalous rumors in the town, and the poor nuns lived in daily fear of some outbreak. This was in the Advent of 1524, and in March, 1525, the storm broke loose again.

One of those frequent and useless disputations on the subject of religion which made such a characteristic feature of the sixteenth-century movement took place at Nuremberg at the beginning of March. Eight religious of the Carmelite, Franciscan, and Dominican orders took the Catholic side against seven preachers of the Lutheran doctrines (among them the famous Osiander) under the leadership of the prior of the Augustinians at Nuremberg. The debate lasted for eleven days, or five sessions, without any shadow of an accommodation appearing possible, and at the sixth session the Catholic doctors gave in a written statement to the effect that the affair had become a discussion such as by imperial mandate was strictly forbidden, and that, as there was no impartial judgment to be looked for, the presidents of the colloquium being known adherents of the new doctrines, they thought it best to retire from the useless conflict. The council, however, had attained its end, and prepared an opportunity for formally introducing the new religion into the republic. The convents and monasteries were ordered to give up their rule and the members to enter the world again. Four of the male communities did as they were bid; the Dominicans and Franciscans still refused to comply. The former were compelled to leave in 1543, and the latter stood their ground till the last brother died. They were, however, forbidden to preach and hear confessions, and the direction of both convents of women, St. Clare and St. Catherine, was taken from them.

The first open attack on St. Clare was made five days after the religious disputation, on the 19th of March, 1525. A deputation from the council demanded admittance into the interior of the convent, and, though Charitas pleaded the “enclosure” [Pg 178] and offered to gather the community at the grated window through which it was customary to speak with strangers and men, she was forced to accede to their demand and admit the councillors into the winter refectory. The two representatives began with a honeyed address, telling the assembled nuns that, now the light of the Gospel was fully manifested in the city, it were a shame that they alone should be denied the privilege of seeing it. Therefore a learned and distinguished preacher, Herr Poliander, of Würzburg, would impart to them this knowledge, and, the Franciscans being removed, the council would provide the nuns with suitable confessors. The abbess heard them out, and then retorted that her nuns were well stored with Gospel knowledge, which had been clearly preached to them before, and that the connection between their order and the Franciscans was of long date and authorized by papal and imperial decrees, but that, if they were to suffer violence in this matter, God and their conscience urged them to declare that it was so, and that they protested against such violence being used. The councillors said that, since they objected to secular[73] priests as confessors, they might choose one of the Augustinians (who had apostatized), since they too were “religious.” But Charitas answered: “If we are to have religious, why not leave us the Franciscans? We know and honor them and have had long experience of them; but as to the order you name, we also know how lax its discipline has grown.”

“Nay,” said the councillors, “you will soon not have that to complain of; for these brothers will doff their cowls and enter into another state.”

To which the abbess replied: “That is no comfort to us. They could only teach us to follow their example; and as they have taken to themselves wives, they would have us take husbands. God forbid!”

The useless conversation was carried on some time longer, and on Charitas asking the reason why the council so oppressed her sisterhood, and whether they had committed any offence, the councillors were forced to allow that the “council knew of no offence or abuse on their part, but, on the contrary, only of honor, diligence, and modesty,” but that in other communities it was not always so, and the new laws must be enforced everywhere alike. The very next day Poliander, the Lutheran preacher, came for the first time to preach to the reluctant nuns, while on the 21st of March the Franciscans were allowed to pay their charges a farewell visit, administer the sacraments, say Mass, and preach. This was the last time the nuns enjoyed these holy privileges; henceforward the dying were deprived of the Viaticum and Extreme Unction, and Mass was no longer said in the convent chapel. On the 22nd Charitas assembled a chapter of her nuns, which decided on presenting a second petition to the council, and the abbess sent to ask Kaspar Nützel to come in person to the convent. He consented and sent her a friendly message, but it was clear he expected submission. He came and set before the community the advantages of gracefully giving way and the evil they would entail on themselves by resistance; but Charitas answered to the point: that, although he had spoken [Pg 179] in friendly terms, he had not mentioned the real subject of the dispute—i.e., the question of who should be the convent’s spiritual directors. “We see,” she said, “that every means is being used to drive us to accept the new doctrines, but until the whole church accepts them neither will we. Nothing will part us from the fellowship of the universal church nor from the vows we have vowed unto God.” She then offered to let the administrator ask each nun her opinion separately during her own absence; but Nützel saw that this would be useless, and even refused to take the petition, whereupon the abbess read it aloud before him. The gist of it was contained in the prayer that, in the name of the Gospel-freedom which the times had so extolled, no violence should be done to the consciences of the nuns. They begged also that if their confessor was taken from them, at least no one should be imposed upon them in his place. But it was evidently in vain, although Nützel reluctantly pledged himself to represent their case to the council. Before he left the convent, however, he attempted to cajole the abbess out of her firm resistance to his wishes, and, taking her aside, begged her to put her authority and influence on his side, telling her that she might personally do much to prevent even bloodshed, and that, if he could only win her over, he would think himself sure of the city and the neighborhood. Indeed, many pinned their faith to her steadfastness and looked to her example for support in their own temptations. But neither flattery nor threats could win her over, nor even the hint that by her obstinacy she would confirm others in contumacy, and bring upon her native town the vengeance of the peasants who had risen in arms against the Catholics. To this she answered calmly that it was well known that the peasants had risen because, in the midst of this new preaching of fraternity and evangelical freedom, they saw a way to abolish the custom of vassalage, and meant forcibly to possess themselves of that which their richer brethren were so glibly prating of in theory. As the second petition had remained without effect, Charitas drew up a third, a model of clearness and logic. Quoting St. Paul, she said, “I can do all things in Him who is my strength,” and she again assured the council that nothing would drive the sisters out of the church. This paper was signed by all the nuns. She also asked through Nützel for a secular priest, a holy man of the name of Schröter, for a confessor, since the council was determined that the Franciscans should no longer serve the convent; but this prayer was also refused.

Things grew worse and worse. Poliander preached vile and opprobrious sermons to the poor nuns, upbraiding and accusing them; and when he left Würzburg, two others, Schleussner and Osiander, succeeded him and preached regularly three times a week in the chapel. A sharp and degrading watch was kept over the nuns, as the council suspected them of stopping their ears with cotton-wool or exercising other petty devices to escape the words of the distasteful sermons. This continued throughout Lent, and the violence of the preachers inflaming the passions of the people, the nuns lived in daily fear of seeing the latter put into execution their frequent threat of burning down the convent. The serving-girls could hardly go out of the [Pg 180] house in safety to purchase provisions, and the friends of the nuns had to use all manner of subterfuges to be able to visit them in peace, while every knock at the door frightened the poor women as if it heralded their doom. But worse was yet to come. On the 7th of June three of the councillors, Fürer, Pfinzing, and Imhof, visited the convent and laid before the nuns five propositions with which the council demanded instant compliance: an inventory was to be taken of all the convent possessions, a laxer rule introduced, the religious dress laid aside, the grated window replaced by a common one of glass, and free permission granted to every nun to leave if she chose, taking with her whatever dowry she had brought to the convent, or a suitable remuneration for the services done during her stay there. Charitas wisely showed a disposition to yield in minor matters, in which she knew that the council would find means at any rate to force her compliance, but on the matter of the religious vows she stood firm, answering:

“In so far as my sisters owe me any personal obedience and consideration, I am ready to forgive them the debt, but I cannot absolve them from vows vowed unto the Lord; for what are we poor creatures that we should lay hands on the things that are God’s?”

The council allowed her four weeks to make up her mind to these changes, and promised, in case of compliance, to protect the convent; but if these conditions were resisted, neither the house nor the nuns would be either protected or supported. Charitas called a chapter together and announced her determination to have nothing to do with an “open convent,” at the same time asking the sisters’ opinion on the council’s proposal. The nuns unanimously (there were nearly sixty of them) declared that they did not wish to be “made free” after the council’s pattern of freedom; they meant to keep to their vows and maintain their rule, and begged the abbess not to forsake them. She then swore to stand by them as long as they would stand by their vows, and exhorted them to steadfast courage and fervent prayer. Her friends in the council, seeing that their influence was too weak to help the convent, advised her to consent to the lesser propositions, and accordingly the inventory was quietly made and handed over to the authorities; the grating was taken down, and, at Wilibald Pirkheimer’s suggestion, some part of the nuns’ habit was dyed black and assumed only at the parlor window and in the gardens, while in the private parts of the house the usual gray garb was worn. But the nuns steadfastly refused to change the rule or to consider themselves absolved from their vows, and, unless they were to be forcibly ejected from the convent, there was no possibility of carrying out these two important changes. But the council was prepared for anything, and soon even this last violent act was publicly enforced.

Dame Ursula Tetzel had already tried some months before, with the help of her brothers, to get her daughter Margaret, who had been for nine years in the convent, to leave it and come home; but the girl herself vigorously resisted the attempt, and Charitas represented it to the mother as an infringement of the rights of the convent. Things had marched rapidly enough since then to enable Dame Tetzel to renew the attempt with more certainty of success; and accordingly she, with the wives of the two councillors, [Pg 181] Ebner and Nützel, who had each a daughter in the convent, determined to take their children home at all hazards. They gave the nuns a week’s notice, and on the 14th of June appeared with a number of their male relations in two large conveyances or wagons. A great crowd had collected round the convent door, and a considerable excitement prevailed; the street and the churchyard were full. Charitas, on her side, had requested two of the councillors, Pfinzing and Imhof, to be present as witnesses of the disgraceful scene she foresaw. The young nuns, respectively nineteen, twenty, and twenty-three years old, fell on their knees before the abbess, weeping and entreating her not to let them be taken away. They even wished to hide themselves; but this, of course, Charitas forbade and led the girls with her to the chapel where they had taken their vows. She prayed and wept with them, and hesitated taking them over the threshold into the presence of their mothers; but the latter came into the chapel and violently upbraided their children, who with tears piteously begged to be left alone. Katharine Ebner especially spoke in eloquent tones for more than an hour, and, as the councillors afterwards said, “She spoke no word that was weak or useless, but talked with such force and cogency that every word weighed a pound.” Her mother stormed, and Held, the brother of Dame Nützel, threatened her “like an executioner,” but Katharine continued speaking in her own behalf and that of her friends: “Here will I stand and not move one step; and if you employ force, I will complain to God in heaven and every man upon earth.” She was rudely dragged forward, but, stretching her arms towards the abbess, cried out: “Dear mother, do not let me be driven away from you!” Four persons, however, seized hold of her, and amid loud cries on all sides she was dragged over the threshold of the chapel, where she and Margaret Tetzel fell over each other, the latter having her foot crushed in the crowd. Dame Ebner followed her daughter with angry threats, telling her that if she did not go willingly she would fling her down the stairs and break her head on the pavement below. At last poor Charitas could stand it no longer and took refuge in her cell, while the councillors who had witnessed the scene declared that, had they foreseen such a sad sight, they would not have come for a world of money, and never again would they lend the sanction of their presence to such violent proceedings.

The poor young nuns were put in the wagons and driven away, but they still cried out to the crowd that they were suffering violence and demanded to be taken back to their convent. Dame Ebner got so incensed that she struck her daughter on the mouth, and the poor girl bled all the way home. There were many in the crowd who cried “Shame!” and would gladly, had they dared, have attempted a rescue, but the strong hand of the “trained bands” of Nuremberg was not to be defied in vain. Charitas never saw her spiritual children again, but she heard from time to time that they were still unchanged in their feelings. Clara Nützel ate nothing for four days after she was taken away, and day and night cried to be taken back again.

This scene of violence made a great stir at the time and awakened much sympathy for the convent, and at least it had this good effect: [Pg 182] that no more forcible abductions were attempted. Some time later one nun, Anna Schwarz, whose sisters had left the other convent of Nuremberg, St. Catherine, left St. Clare of her own accord; she was the only one who voluntarily gave up her vows. In this case, however, her mother was not well pleased and by no means urged her to leave. The community was now reduced to fifty-one members, and of these none henceforward left the convent, unless by the call of God to a better and more peaceful life.

In the following autumn Melanchthon visited Nuremberg, and, though their views now differed, his friendship with Pirkheimer was not weakened. He inquired into the state of affairs, and, together with the administrator, Nützel, visited the convent and had a long conversation with the abbess. She says in her diary: “He was more gentle and discreet in his speech than any of the new teachers I have met before”; and, indeed, she had long had the greatest esteem for the young and ripe Greek scholar.

“He spoke much of the new doctrines,” she continues; “but when I told him that we did not place our hope in our own works, but solely in the grace of God, he replied that in that case we might be saved in the cloister quite as well as in the world. Indeed, we agreed in the main on all points, except concerning the vows, which he holds not to be binding, but yet strongly disapproved of the violence that had been done to the nuns to force them to give up their vows. He took leave of us in a very friendly manner, and afterwards strongly reproved the administrator and the other councillors for having forbidden the Franciscans to celebrate divine service at St. Clare, and having dragged the children out of the convent against their will; indeed, he told them that, between themselves, he considered that therein they had committed a grievous sin.”

Charitas dated from his visit a quieter state of things and the cessation of many petty persecutions on the part of Kaspar Nützel. She says of Melanchthon in her diary: “I hope God sent this man to us at the right time; …” and later in a letter she writes thus of the administrator: “Would to God every one were as discreet as Master Philip; we might then hope to be rid of many things that are very vexatious.”

Although the three young nuns were not restored to the convent, their parents, smarting under the many insinuations made against their conduct, conveyed to the abbess, through Sigismund Fürer and Leonard Tucher, a formal acknowledgment of their satisfaction at the “manner in which the girls had been brought up and their health cared for”; while the two men added of their own accord that as to the girls they must tell the truth—i.e., that if it depended upon them, they would be back at the convent before evening. Kaspar Nützel himself said the same thing to the abbess, thanking her for the care bestowed on his daughter’s physical and moral well-being, and acknowledging himself indebted to the convent for this favor. But, better than this, he soon wrote a letter in which he distinctly stated that he regretted having several times “overstepped his legitimate authority in his attempts to convert her to the new doctrines,” and promised that in future he would attend with peculiar zeal at least to the temporal concerns of the convent. Their possessions had, however, been so curtailed during these troublous times that they almost literally subsisted on alms.

On All Souls’ day, 1527, the same two councillors who had witnessed [Pg 183] the forcible taking away of the young nuns two years before, and two other associates, were commissioned to institute a domiciliary visitation in the convent and to speak in private with each sister, with a view to elicit their grievances and give them a chance of speaking freely. The poor nuns were very much frightened at the proposal, but Charitas only made this remonstrance:

“Worthy masters,” she said, “you are somewhat vehement confessors. It has pleased our rulers to abolish private confession to one man, and now you require us poor women to confess to four men at once, and lay open to them all our spiritual needs!” And as the men were rather staggered, she continued: “You say many abuses among us have come to the ears of the council. We should like to hear them detailed. We have been driven and oppressed like worms for three years, and would gladly, if we could, have hidden ourselves under a stone like worms; but if we have offended in anything, let it be clearly brought home to us.”

The men looked at each other, and one said: “This point is not yet settled”; while another asked helplessly: “What am I to say? I do not understand the matter.” At last they went through the form of examining each nun alone and separately, and got tired and left off when they had examined thirty-nine. The preacher Osiander once held a discussion with Charitas for four hours without any result but both parties remaining stronger in their own belief; and on another occasion, when Dr. Link, formerly an Augustinian, and now preacher at the hospital, sent her a controversial pamphlet, she answered him in writing, argument for argument, and made all who saw her defence marvel at the clearness of her logic and the ease of her style. He had put himself forward as an example (doubtless because he had been, like her, a religious), but she answered:

“Forgive me if I do not care to follow the example of any man; our example is Christ, and, even if we were to look for models among men, it would be strange if we sought for them among living men while such men as St. Augustine, St. Jerome, St. Cyprian, and others are set aside and disowned.”

Later on she again wrote to him:

“If God does not inspire us with love for your new faith, we cannot of ourselves force our hearts to it. We should deceive ourselves and do violence to our conscience (which is wrong) if we were to listen to the threats or persuasions of men. It is no luxurious life, God knows, that keeps us in our convent; neither is it any belief that simply to have taken the veil assures salvation. We do not place our hope in the conventual rule, but in the mercy of God and his only Son. I hold none of my nuns back against their will; if they choose to leave, they are free to do so. I only ask that they should not be forced to do it, as has happened already on one occasion.”

Towards the end of 1528 came a time of negative peace for the nuns, and, as the “silver wedding” or jubilee of the abbess fell about Christmas time, the convent prepared itself for a modest festival in honor of this event. It was the first time that an abbess had held her office for so many years, and the celebration was looked upon with so much the more interest that no former abbess had gone through such stirring and troublous times during the period of her abbess-ship. The festival was put off till Easter, 1529, and was long remembered by the nuns as one of their few red-letter days. Their friends from the town sent them presents of wine, fruit, cakes, and preserves, and Pirkheimer and Dame Ursula Kramer, his neighbor, both sent their plate to adorn the nuns’ table on the occasion. This pleased the simple [Pg 184] women immensely, and Katharine, Charitas’ niece, wrote in glowing terms to her father, giving him an account of the festivities of the day. We will quote a few passages from her letter:

“In the morning the whole community came to the mother, each sister bearing a torch, and the prioress put a crown upon her head and led her to the choir, where we said the Office for the day and then sang the Mass as best we could. Then the mother took the Blessed Sacrament from the tabernacle and exposed it, and the community knelt to adore it and make a spiritual communion. We comforted ourselves with the words of St. Augustine: Crede et manducasti (Believe, and thou hast eaten). The mother then sat by the altar, and one by one we all went up to her and embraced her, … and she had her hands full of rings, and gave each of the sisters one as a pledge of their renewed espousals with their Bridegroom and of their resolve to be true to him; … although it has not been the custom hitherto with us, the mother thought that, considering these exceptionally sad years, it would be a remembrance of the obedience and earnestness with which we have hung together through these vicissitudes.… Then we took the mother to table, … and you, dear father, have proved yourself a generous host. The sisters said, ‘Oh! that Master Pirkheimer were here to see how we are enjoying his good gifts’; and your plate and Dame Kramer’s delighted us also mightily.… At last, at night, we had a little dance. The old nuns danced as well as the young ones. Mother Apollonia Tucher, who has been fifty-seven years in the convent, took hold of me and turned me round; … and the dance was so hearty that the mother said, ‘Dear children, spare my tables.’”

This was the last joyful event of Charitas’ life. Three months after this festival her niece Crescentia, Pirkheimer’s daughter, died, and the wicked tongues of the town took occasion to wag against the nuns, accusing them of worrying her to death; but Pirkheimer himself put down these scandalous rumors by publicly thanking the community for the care bestowed on his child, and by making a special gift to the convent in recognition of it. He also singled out the sisters who had had special care of his daughter during her illness, and sent them tokens of his gratitude; and, not content with this, he left the convent fifty gulden in his will, which they received after his death.

Another cross befell the abbess in the loss of reason of two of her nuns—a circumstance of which her enemies did not fail to make good use; but, the two sisters being perfectly harmless, except at long intervals, no removal was necessary, and they went about their common duties peacefully until their death.

In 1530 Charitas lost her well-beloved brother Wilibald, which was a sad break-up to her; but before he died he published an Apology for the Convent of St. Clare, which greatly comforted, if it did not help, the nuns. But the council contemptuously overlooked this as it had done all previous petitions.

Two years after her brother’s death the noble Charitas Pirkheimer followed him to a better land, and her sister Clara was chosen abbess in her stead. Her friend Apollonia Tucher died within a few months, on the 15th of January, 1533, and the new abbess the following month, whereupon her niece Katharine became abbess and ruled the community for thirty years. She was the last abbess but one; for towards the end of the century the last nun died and the convent reverted to the town.[74] But the good [Pg 185] fight had been fought, and the noble defeat only brought fresh and eternal honor on the name of the Clarist Order; for, as says Montaigne, “There are defeats that dispute the palm with victories,” and Lacordaire comments thus on the saying: “This noble axiom applies no less to moral than to military defeats, and we should never tire of inculcating the principle that as long as honor and conscience are safe, so long also is fame deserved.”

[72] Charitas Pirkheimer, Abbess of St. Clare at Nuremberg. By Franz Binder. Herder, Freiburg im Breisgau. The biographer, Franz Binder, has compiled the life of Charitas, which we have condensed in the present article, from trustworthy sources, the principal ones being the Works of Wilibald Pirkheimer, in Latin, published at Frankfort in 1610; MS. letters of the Pirkheimer family preserved in the town library at Nuremberg; Charitas’ own diary, published at Bamberg in 1852; Dr. Lochner’s Biography of Celebrated Nurembergers, published in 1861; and other less important and shorter works in which passing reference is made to the events of Charitas’ life.

[73] Literally lay priests, but, we think, referring to seculars.

[74] The church of St. Clare at Nuremberg remained for a long time closed. It was then opened again and soon afterwards given over to Protestant worship. It was subsequently used for commercial purposes, as a magazine of wares, a market-place, and place for local exhibitions, and finally as a barracks. In 1854 it was given back to the Catholics of Nuremberg as their second church. In the following year its restoration was begun, and on May 13, 1857, the Church of St. Clare was publicly consecrated anew for Catholic worship.


“It might have been.” We say it oft,
With aching heart, with streaming eyes;
We grope with eager, outstretched hands
After another’s slighted prize.
We call a life a wasted life.
O mourning souls! be not too sure.
Out of great darkness may come light,
And, after evil, hearts grow pure.
God only knows. We leave to him
The things that are not what we would,
And trust that in his own good time
He will do that which he sees good.
His will be done. The quivering lips
Must say it, though with bitter tears.
His will! It is enough, enough
To hush our murmurs, soothe our fears.
He overrules all pain and sin,
Makes dire disgrace work out his word.
Poor souls, bow down before his might
And trust all myst’ries with the Lord.

[Pg 186]





When the first overflow of emotion had subsided, Sir Simon drew a chair close to the sofa and wanted to hear every detail about Raymond’s illness—what the doctor had done, and, if possible, everything he had said about it at each visit. When Franceline had told the little there was to tell beyond the one terrible central fact, it was Sir Simon’s turn to be catechised. He submitted willingly to the inquisition. He went over the story of Clide de Winton’s letter, and all the happy consequences it had entailed—the hard-hearted Jew sent to the right-about, the rest of the duns quieted, all Sir Simon’s difficulties happily settled. Clide’s name was openly mentioned in the course of the narrative, and coupled with epithets of enthusiastic admiration and gratitude—he was a noble-hearted fellow, true as steel, generous as the sun, delicate as a woman; it was impossible which to admire most, his generous conduct or the delicacy with which he had done this immense service to his father’s old friend. Franceline said nothing while this panegyric was being sung, but she could not hide from herself the fact that it was sounding in her ears like the sweetest music. She had found out long since why Clide’s name had become a dead-letter with Sir Simon, why he never even alluded to his existence in her presence; since he now broke through this reticence, was it not a proof that the motive of it had been removed, and that he was free to speak of Clide, and she to listen, and that consequently no barrier existed any longer between their lives? The truth was that Sir Simon had come to the conclusion that the barrier was of no great importance to either of them by this time. He was not given much to diving into the depths of human hearts, analyzing their motives and impulses; and he did not give other people credit for spending their lives in such unprofitable work as brooding over sentimental grievances and pining after the impossible. It was evident that if Franceline had been in love with Clide, she must have either died of it by this time or got over it. She had not died, ergo she had got over it. There was no harm, therefore, in singing that fine young fellow’s praises in her hearing, and it was a great satisfaction to the baronet to be able to pour out his grateful eulogies to a sympathizing audience. So they went on playing at cross purposes, each perfectly unconscious of what was uppermost in the other’s thoughts; Sir Simon settling it in his own mind that Ponsonby Anwyll would carry the day, now that everything else had adjusted itself so satisfactorily, while Franceline dreamed her own little dream, and fancied it must be the reflection of it in her father’s thoughts that filled his eyes with those gentle sunbeams as his glance met hers.

Sir Simon, having emptied his budget of news, proceeded to unfold [Pg 187] his programme, and was agreeably surprised to find that he was to be spared the trouble of defending it. Franceline was overjoyed at the prospect of seeing a new country, and Raymond acquiesced in everything as placid and innocently happy as an infant. So it was agreed that they would start for the south without the loss of a day, if possible. Angélique was called into council and ordered to begin to pack up at once. To-morrow morning Dr. Blink should decide what climate was best suited to Raymond, who was now the person to be chiefly considered. Meantime, Sir Simon took rather an unfair advantage of the medical man by biassing the inclinations of both patients towards a certain sun-girt villa on the Mediterranean, where myrtle and olive groves were said to crown every hillside, where the vine and the orange and the pomegranate grew like wild flowers elsewhere, mirrored in the sea that is “deeply, darkly, beautifully blue.”

“When did you come home—to England, I mean?” said M. de la Bourbonais when the baronet paused in his glowing description of a Mediterranean sunset.

“This morning. I came straight on here from Dover. The lawyer wanted that deed that led to my finding the snuff-box. I must go back with it by the early train to-morrow; it is absolutely necessary that it should be forthcoming to prove the validity of Lady Rebecca’s marriage settlement.”

“Marriage settlement!” exclaimed Raymond and Franceline together. “Do you mean that she is going to be married?”

“Good gracious, no! Poor soul, she’s gone—gone to her great account,” said Sir Simon, shaking his head with becoming solemnity. “She died three days ago. It was a happy release, a most merciful release! She really had nothing to regret, poor, dear soul.” And her step-son heaved a dutiful sigh, and drew his hand across his forehead with a gesture expressive of resigned sorrow.

Raymond was in no mood to laugh, even if the subject had been less solemn; but he could not but remember—and Sir Simon knew he must remember—how often this mournful event had been devoutly invoked by both of them in days not so long gone by. It was probably the recollection of this that prompted his next question.

“How did she leave her property?”

“Oh! admirably; nothing could be kinder or juster,” replied the baronet, heaving the tribute of another sigh. “She left her £50,000 to me unconditionally, chargeable merely with a life legacy for three old servants; the jointure, you know, reverts to the estate. So you see the duns would not have had so long to wait even if De Winton had not come to the rescue. She was an excellent woman. Of course one feels the blow, but it really would be selfish to regret her; she was a great sufferer, and it was a happy release.”

“Then you did not stop in London to ask if there were any letters at your bankers’?”

“No; were there any?”

“There was one from me—or at least written at my request.”


Sir Simon looked up, full of curiosity. Franceline feared she was in the way of some explanation, so made an excuse to leave the room about some tisane it was time for her father to take.

“You must be more puzzled [Pg 188] than ever now to know why I refused to let my pockets be examined that night,” said M. de la Bourbonais, resorting to his old trick of fixing his spectacles to hide his shyness.

“Why was it?” said Sir Simon, pulling out his cigar-case, and carefully selecting one of the choice Havanas, as if he had the remotest intention of lighting it; it was only an excuse not to have to look at Raymond.

“You may remember that there were little pâtés de foie gras at dinner; they looked like petits pains?”

“I remember it perfectly; and excellent they were. I had just got the recipe from the Frères Provençeaux; it was the first time Dorel had ever made them. Well?”

“Franceline was, you know, very ill just then; she could eat nothing. I fancied these might tempt her, so I slipped a couple of them into my pockets with some bonbons. This was why I would not turn them out. I was ashamed to exhibit my poverty to all those men, especially to that stranger who had been taunting me with it; I would not let him see what a poor devil I was, and to what straits poverty drove me to get food for my sick child.”

“My poor Raymond!” was all Sir Simon could say, and he grasped his hand.

“Then you remember I came back? I was rushing home when it occurred to me that I had done a mad thing; so I threw away the pâtés and the bonbons, and went back and made a fool of myself, as you know. I think I must have been mad. I know I had been taking a great deal of wine to keep me up; anyhow, I did not reflect, until I saw the effect of my presence, what a preposterous act it was, and that you should have been all fools to see any proof of my innocence in it.”

“You might have trusted me,” said Sir Simon reproachfully. “I would have believed you—I did believe you in spite of my senses. I came to the conclusion you were, as you say, either mad or drunk, and had taken it unawares. Why didn’t you write to me?”

“I did. I wrote you a full account of it all; but, as ill-luck had it, your letter telling me to send back the ring arrived before mine left. I was so incensed at your suspecting me that I tore up the letter. I was a fool, of course; but you know of old that pride is my weak point. It was not until I was struck down by illness, and brought face to face with death, and with the thought that I was going to leave my child friendless in the world with a dishonored name, that I resolved to sacrifice it, and for her sake to write to you and ask you to take charge of her and do what you could to clear my memory from the stain that my own vanity and folly had fixed upon it. Father Henwick wrote to you to this effect in my name on Tuesday. The letter is lying at your bankers’.”

“I was as much to blame as you. I ought to have known you better than to mistrust you; I ought to have known there must be some mistake in it,” said Sir Simon, rising and going to the window. “I ought to have written to you to ask you for an explanation, and so I was always intending to do; but what with the excitement of Clide’s finding his—of his finding out my difficulties and so on,” he continued, checking himself in time before the murder was out, “and then poor, dear [Pg 189] Lady Rebecca’s telegraphing for me, I nearly lost my head, and kept putting off writing from day to day, in hopes that you would write.”

“Is monsieur going to stay to tea? Because, if so, it is time I began the omelette,” said Angélique, following Franceline into the room, carrying a tray with something on it for M. de la Bourbonais.

But Sir Simon said he must be going that very minute. How the time had flown, and he had so many things to see to at the Court! Raymond was rather exhausted when his friend left, but he slept sounder that night than he had done for a long time.

*  *  *  *  *  

The warm southern spring had burst its green bonds and flown suddenly into the arms of summer; it lay disporting itself in the splendor of new-clad flowers along the shores of the Mediterranean, laughing up at the dazzling sky like a babe smiling into its mother’s face. Everything was fresh, lustrous, and dewy. The sun was not too hot to be enjoyable, the birds were not too tired to sing, a light breeze came fluttering from the sea to cool the vines, and died away in sighs and whispers amidst the ilex-grove that made a background to the white-washed villa where a group of three persons were sitting out on the terrace under the shade of a broad veranda. I dare say you have recognized the young lady in the fleecy muslin dress. The pink tint in her ivory complexion is a decided improvement; but it has not so changed her that you could forget her. She looks stronger now; there is an energetic grace in her movements that tells of improved health; so, too, does the warmer glow of the dark gold hair and the more animated glance of the eyes. You see she has brought her doves with her, and seems to have many interesting things to say to them as they perch on her head and her finger, and utter that, to her, melodious chant of theirs, but which Sir Simon Harness has the bad taste to find wearisome and lugubrious.

“Could you persuade those doves of yours to cease that dismal noise just for ten minutes, Franceline? It’s working under difficulties, trying to correct proof-sheets while they keep up that dirge.”

Franceline, deeply offended, carries off her darlings to the other side of the house, without deigning any further comment than a toss of her pretty head at the speaker and a look of mild reproach at her father, who yields a tacit consent to the insult by his silence. Moreover, when Franceline and “those doves of hers” are out of sight, he breathes an audible sigh of relief and proceeds to read the contested sentence aloud again. There was a good deal of arguing and bickering over it; Sir Simon insisting that the epithet was too strong and should be modified, while M. de la Bourbonais maintained that whether he applied the term “patriot cast in the rough antique mould” to Mirabeau or not signified very little, since the facts as he stated and construed them applied it far more forcibly. They were squabbling over it still when, half an hour later, Franceline came back, apparently in a forgiving mood, and expressed her wonder how people could go on quarrelling when everything around was so full of peace, in a world where all created things were steeped in beauty and in bliss; where life was not a struggle, but a joy; where nothing was needed but [Pg 190] the will to vibrate to the pulse of love with which the great mother’s breast was heaving, to respond to the sun’s wooing and the wind’s wafting, to the music of flowers and birds, to be a voice in the choir and a grain of incense on the altar, to live, to love, and to be happy. What were proof-sheets worth if they could not swell the glad concert and sound their chime in the joy-bells of life? They were sounding their little chime, though, in spite of the frequent clash of arms they gave rise to between the author and his pig-headed Tory critic. The crisp little rolls of paper were an immense superadded interest to Raymond—and consequently to Franceline—in their new life of golden sunshine. They would come to an end soon now; a few more bundles of proofs, then a pause of solemn expectation, and the great work would appear immortalized between the boards.



While the three inmates of the white-washed villa were watching the days go by, and wondering if to-morrow could possibly be as happy as yesterday and to-day, Clide de Winton was living a very different life in his lodgings near the asylum. He had not yet been permitted to see the lady whom he believed to be his wife. She had fallen ill with an attack on the lungs which had very nearly proved fatal, and during the six weeks that it lasted it was impossible to let any one approach her except the familiar faces of the doctor and her attendant. She had rallied from this illness only to return to her old delusion with a fonder intensity than ever. Day after day she decked herself in her faded flowers and ribbons, and stood or knelt at her window, stretching out her arms to the mid-day sun, calling to him with the tenderest words of endearment, and telling him her passionate love-tale over and over again; then turning from this to paroxysms of despair more violent than formerly, and which threatened at each crisis to shatter the fragile vase and send the feeble spark flying upwards.

“And now she courted love; now, raving, called on hate.”

Clide had repeatedly asked to see Mr. Percival, but the desire for an interview was evidently not mutual; for, although no refusal was ever sent, the promises held out by the medical man were continually broken; the visit of Mr. Percival was always “unexpectedly prevented” by one cause or another. Stanton arrived at the conclusion that he did not wish to meet Clide, and that, moreover, he was constantly at the asylum unknown to them, and that the only way to see him would be to lie in wait and collar him, and make him speak out by main force, since he would not do it otherwise. Mr. de Winton saw difficulties in the way of this summary method of proceeding, but his valet entreated him to leave it in his hands and not trouble himself about that. Clide had small confidence in the diplomatic skill of his man, but he could trust him not to do anything dangerously rash; so he asked no questions, but let him follow his own devices for catching Mr. Percival. That gentleman, however, proved himself a match for Stanton. [Pg 191] He was not to be taken either by stratagem or force; and though Stanton dodged about the park gates, and recruited a small police force, amongst little boys on the lookout for a penny, to skulk about late and early to watch the comers and goers from the asylum, and give him timely warning, it led to nothing but vain hopes and frequent disappointments.

Clide was growing sick to death of the miserable business. He had been more than two months now stationed at his post. Isabel’s illness had made two-thirds of that time utterly useless to him; but it was now a full week since the doctor had declared her convalescent, and he seemed no nearer the solution of her identity than when he first descried her through the panel of the door. He determined at last one morning to go in and speak out his mind to the medical man. He told him that he insisted on an interview with Mr. Percival, or else he would take steps in the matter which might be disagreeable to all parties. It was quite inexplicable, he said, that they should not have been able to find an opportune moment or letting him approach the patient all this time, and the persistent obstacles that were thrown in the way of an interview with the man who called himself her guardian led him to infer that both Mr. Percival and the doctor were in league to prevent her identity being tested and established.

The effect of this broadside was startling. But although it took the doctor entirely by surprise, it did not throw him off his guard or disturb his presence of mind. He looked at the speaker for a moment in silence, and then said in a perfectly cool and collected manner:

“I see there is no use in playing at this game any longer. I have humored you up to this, and borne with your mania, because I knew it was a mania. It has been plain to me from the third time I saw you, Mr. de Winton, that you were yourself the victim of a delusion and an eligible candidate for a lunatic asylum. I have prevented Mr. Percival from taking steps to have you confined—the law empowers us to do so when a madman threatens the security and honor of another—because I hoped the monomania would wear itself out with patience. I find I have been mistaken. I shall interfere no farther with Mr. Percival in his legitimate desire to protect the lady who is under my care from your persistent persecution. She is no more your wife than she is mine. Your story about her is as groundless as the ravings of a man in fever.”

While the doctor delivered himself of this attack Clide stared at him in stupefaction. He saw the medical man’s glance fixed on him with the expression of one who was versed in the art of reading the mind through that lucid and faithful interpreter—the eye. But though he was both shocked and indignant, he was not a whit frightened; he bore the scrutiny without flinching, without dropping his lid once.

“You are a clever tactician, I see,” he said coolly. “Carrying the war into the enemy’s country is one of the desperate strategies of a daring general, but it is sometimes more fatal to the invader than to the invaded. You have now thrown off the mask and shown me exactly what manner of man I have to deal with, and I shall resort to other means than those I have hitherto employed for seeing the patient whom I am now absolutely [Pg 192] and fully convinced is no other than my unhappy wife.”

He rose, and was leaving without further parley when the doctor cried out:

“You can see her this moment, if you choose—that is, if you choose to be guilty of homicide. I am prepared to state before the first men in the faculty, and to stake my character on the assertion, that—if she be your wife—the sight of you, supposing that it brings recognition, will be fatal to her life by causing the rupture of a vessel on the brain. Come back with any qualified witnesses you think fit, and I will repeat this in their presence, and then, on your responsibility, I will conduct you to the patient.”

Clide made no answer, but left the house, and was soon on his way to Piccadilly in a cab. The admiral had come to town the night before; it was partly the desire to be able to give his uncle some definite information concerning the inmate of the mad-house that had driven him to burn his ships and have it out with the doctor.

The cab stopped, and as Clide alighted he was accosted by a friendly voice and the grip of a heavy hand on his shoulder.

“Hallo, De Winton! How are you? Where have you turned up from?”

It was Ponsonby Anwyll’s voice; he looked in the highest state of elation, blonder and burlier than ever, the very picture of good temper, good digestion, and general prosperity.

The sight of him jarred on Clide; he had naturally a vindictive feeling toward poor Ponsonby since that random shot of Sir Simon’s about his making Franceline a good husband by and by. He did not believe a word of it; but it made him feel savagely to the young squire, nevertheless. How dare he behave so as to get his name coupled with hers at all?

“I have been hanging about town for some time,” returned Clide as stiffly as he could without being uncivil. “I suppose you’re on leave? Or perhaps quartered somewhere hereabouts?”

“Quartered! No such luck! We’re vegetating in Devonshire still, I’m sorry to say; but there’ll soon be an end of it for me. I mean to sell out and settle down one of these days. I’ve come up to try and get a month’s leave. I think I’ll succeed, too, the colonel is such an awfully good fellow; and what do you think I’m going to do with it? Where do you think I’m going to spend it?”

“How should I know?”

“At Nice! Sir Simon Harness has asked me over to stay at his villa there; the De la Bourbonais are there, you know. You’ll be glad to hear that Franceline has made a splendid recovery of it, and the count has picked up wonderfully too.… Oh! I beg a thousand pardons. Pray allow me!…” This was to an old lady whose umbrella he had whisked into the middle of the street with a touch of his stick, that he kept swinging round while he held forth to Clide. When he had picked it up and dusted it, and apologized three times over, he went on to say: “Why shouldn’t you run over and see them all too, eh? You used to be very friendly with the count, eh? And Sir Simon would be enchanted to see you. There’s nothing he likes so much as being come down on by a friend unawares, you know.”

“I never gratify my friends in [Pg 193] that respect,” said Clide freezingly; “I always wait to be invited. Are you to be a large party at the villa?”

“I don’t fancy so; but I really don’t know. The only invitations I know of are myself and Roxham. He’s a capital fellow, Roxham; I’m glad we are going together. I wish you’d come too, though, eh? Perhaps you’ll think it over and pop down on us one of these days when we least expect it? Have you any message for Sir Simon or any of them?”

“My best respects to M. de la Bourbonais and his daughter. Good-afternoon. A pleasant journey to you!”

“Wish me good-luck about the leave first!” said the good-natured, obtuse dragoon as he strode on, laughing.

“The lumbering idiot! How I should like to kick him! The impudence of the lout calling her Franceline!” This was Mr. de Winton’s soliloquy as he stood looking after Ponsonby, giving at the same time a pull to the bell as if the house were on fire.

The admiral was out. Cromer, his old valet, who had first sounded the signal about Isabel, happened to be at his master’s for the day, and said he believed he had gone to see Master Clide. Clide jumped back into his cab and told the man to go like the wind, as he wanted to overtake some one. His reflections on the way were none of the pleasantest. What was bringing Ponsonby Anwyll to spend a month at Sir Simon’s while M. de la Bourbonais and his daughter were there? What but to marry Franceline? Had she, then, so completely forgotten Clide? Why not? If his love for her had a tithe of the unselfishness it boasted, he ought to be the first to rejoice at it; to be glad that she was happy and was about to become the wife of a good and honorable and warm-hearted man whom she loved. Did she love him? could she love him?—a lump of red and white clay with as much soul as a prize bull! She that was such an ethereal, lily creature—how could it be possible? What could any girl see in him to love? If this was an irrational and unfair estimate of Ponsonby’s outward and inward man, it was natural enough on Clide’s part. No man, be he ever so reasonable, is expected to do justice to the claims of any other man to be preferred by the woman he loves. But Clide was more savage with Sir Simon even than with Anwyll. What business had he to go meddling at making a match for Franceline? Why could he not have let her alone, and let destiny take its course—or, to put it in a more concrete shape, let Clide de Winton take his chance? Clide did not consider that his chance virtually had no existence whatever in Sir Simon’s calculations. He believed that Isabel’s identity was established beyond a doubt, and that this fact, much as he might regret it, excluded Clide for ever from having any part in Franceline’s destiny. He believed, moreover, or he wished to believe—which with the sanguine Sir Simon meant one and the same thing—that Clide had quite got over his passion malheureuse for Franceline, but, whether he had or not, it could not be helped; he could not marry her, and it was preposterous to expect that she was to remain unmarried out of consideration for his feelings. Here was an admirable settlement in life that presented itself, and it was Sir Simon’s duty, as her self-elected guardian and her father’s oldest friend, to do all in his power to secure it to her.

[Pg 194] Oh! but if Franceline would but wait a little longer—it might be such a very little while—until Clide was free! “What a pitiful thing a woman’s love is compared to a man’s! If I had been in her position, and she in mine,” he thought, “I would have waited a lifetime for her!”

You see Clide was assuming, in spite of his oft-sighed hopes to the contrary, that Franceline did love him. He argued the point bitterly in his mind, accusing her and acquitting her and cursing his own fate all in the same breath, as he rattled over the stony street. But the cursing brought no relief. Help was nowhere at hand. In the old story-books, when a man found himself at bay with difficulties, he called the devil to the rescue, and the devil came. These delightful legends generally represent him in spectacles and a bottle-green coat; they may sometimes differ as to the precise color of the coat, but they all agree that he was the most accommodating practitioner, often volunteering his services without waiting to be asked. When it came to striking a bargain, no one was more liberal than he. The man in difficulties made his own terms: unlimited wealth, a long life with the lady of his choice, the sweet triumphs of revenge—one or all of these the devil would concede with the utmost generosity; all the client had to do in return was to scratch his name to a bit of paper, signing his soul away—a sort of post-obit bill to be presented at some period that was not always even of necessity specified.

If this obliging old legendary personage had appeared at this juncture to Clide de Winton, I suspect he would have had little difficulty in striking a bargain with him. To be free; to burst at once this odious, insufferable chain that must soon be dissolved by death; to be able to seize the prize that was about to be snatched from him at the very moment he felt sure that a little delay would have secured it to him for ever—to obtain this Clide would have signed away his life, ay, and his soul’s life too, for the asking. No evil one, it is true, presented himself in a bottle-green coat or any other visible attire, but one, nevertheless, got close enough to the distracted lover’s ear to whisper a proposal audibly. An invisible devil jumped into the cab with him, and sat close to him all the way from Piccadilly home, and never ceased urging, pleading; no tongue of flesh ever spoke more distinctly:

“You have the game in your own hands. The doctor is out now. You know your way to her room. No one will stop you. Go straight up, and walk in, and address your wife; you are her husband, and have a right to do it. The shock will kill her; but what of that? What is life to her that any merciful man should wish to prolong it? Death will be the cessation of mental and bodily anguish to her, poor raving maniac, and it will set you free—free to marry Franceline. You know Franceline loves you. The mercy will then be for her too; if she marries Ponsonby Anwyll, it will be only to please her father. She will be miserable; it will break her heart. Go and save both her and yourself.”

When the tempter comes armed with such weapons as these, and finds us in the mood in which Clide was as he drove home through the noisy streets into the quiet suburb, the issue of the struggle, if struggle there be, is hardly doubtful. [Pg 195] There was a struggle in this case. You could see it in the feverish movements of the tempted man; he could not sit still, but kept shifting his limbs as we are apt to do when there is no other escape from the steady contemplation of our thoughts. One moment he leaned back with his hands thrust deep into his pockets, and stared out of the window; the next he started forward and bent down on his knees, as if examining closely something at his feet. He took off his hat, smoothed it with his coat-sleeve, pushed back his hair, and put his hat on again. This physical agitation seemed to bring him no relief. He drew out his pocket-book and read over attentively the memoranda of the day before—appointments at the club, with his tailor, books that he had dotted down for reading; but while he perused these commonplace items the voice of the tempter kept on whispering, louder and louder, sweeter and sweeter. The dusty cab was the temple of a vision. Franceline stood before him, with her arms outstretched; she drew nearer, she called him by his name; he felt her breath upon his cheek, the soft touch of her hand in his. Could sin come to him in such guise as this? His features for a moment were convulsed, swayed by the terrible conflict. Gradually the combat ceased, and an expression, not of calm, but of rigid determination, settled on them; the dark brows drew together, making that black line across the forehead which gave to Clide’s face its peculiar, strong individuality. He had not accepted the tempter’s arguments, but he had accepted the issue they pointed at, twisting reasons to his own purpose, and adopting the sophistry of passion: “I will go and accost her. Ten to one—what do I say? a hundred to one, she is not my wife. The absence of the silver tooth ought to have convinced me of that long ago. It ought to have settled the non-identity from the first; for Percival says he never heard of such a thing. As to its killing her, supposing she be my wife, it’s all nonsense; the fellow is in Percival’s pay, and that’s why he has fought out so against my seeing her. I’ll defy him once for all, and make an end of it one way or another.”

Clide did not, or would not, see the palpable paradox that there was in this train of reasoning; but deafen himself as he might by sophistry and inclination, he could not drown the voice of conscience, that clamored so as to make itself heard above every other.

“Has the admiral been here?” was his first question as he sprang out of the cab and rushed up-stairs.

“Yes, sir; him and Mr. Simpson.”

“Ah! Simpson. Are they long gone?”

“Not above a good quarter of an hour. They’re not gone very far; they’re over yonder,” said Stanton, with a knowing jerk of his head in the direction of the asylum.

Clide started.

“What do you mean? What are they gone to do there?”

“They’re just gone to have it out with the doctor, sir. Mr. Simpson says it’s all gammon about your not being let see her. He’s gone over to insist on seeing her himself—him and the admiral; and if the doctor refuses to let them up, Mr. Simpson’ll set the law on him.”

“Good God! they will kill her. They have done it already perhaps! I am too late to stop them!” [Pg 196] said Clide, white to the lips, and taking a stride towards the door. The room reeled round him. Was he going to be an accomplice in the murder of his wife? He would at that moment have renounced Franceline for ever to prevent the act that a few minutes ago he was bent on committing.

Stanton was frightened.

“Stay you here, Master Clide,” he said, taking him by both arms and forcing him into a chair. “Don’t you take on like that. I’ll run across and stop ‘em. There an’t no ‘arm done; the doctor’s never in the ‘ouse at this hour, and they never ‘ud let them hup without him. You stay quiet while I run after them. I’ll be back in no time.”

Clide made no resistance; he let himself drop into the chair in a kind of stupor. The sudden reaction, coming close upon the fierce mental conflict he had gone through, acted like a blow on a drunken man; it stunned and felled him.

“Go, then, and be quick, for God’s sake!” he muttered.

*  *  *  *  *  

Ten minutes went by, and then fifteen, and Clide began to wonder what was keeping Stanton.

He could bear the suspense no longer, but took up his hat and went to see what caused the delay.

Stanton, meantime, had not been amusing himself. In answer to his inquiries the porter informed him that the two gentlemen he was looking for had called at the house and asked to see the doctor, and, on hearing that he was out and not expected home for half an hour, had declined to come in, but were walking about the place waiting for him. Stanton hesitated a moment whether he should run home at once with this reassuring news to his master, or fetch the admiral and Mr. Simpson, and bring them back with him; he decided for the latter and set off to look for them. The grounds were spacious and thickly planted enough to admit of two persons easily getting out of sight for a few minutes; but when Stanton had looked all round, walking hastily from avenue to alley, and could see no trace of the two gentlemen, he began to think they must have changed their minds and gone away. He went on, however, a good way behind the house until he came on a low brick wall that he fancied must mark the limits of the premises. He was about to turn back when he heard a loud, shrill scream proceeding from the other side of the wall. He ran along by it till he saw a door that was ajar, and then, without pausing to consider where he was going or what he was doing, rushed in and ran on in the direction of the scream. Presently he heard voices raised in angry strife. A few more steps brought him in presence of Admiral de Winton, Mr. Simpson, and a third gentleman. They were disputing violently. The admiral was supporting a woman who had apparently fainted; the stranger was expostulating and trying to take her from him; Mr. Simpson was standing between them, speaking in loud and authoritative tones:

“Very well, very good; we shall see if it is as you say. But we must see for ourselves; we must find out if there was nothing in her crying out ‘Clide! Clide!’ the moment she saw this gentleman and heard his voice. Stand back! Don’t lay a finger on him or on her! I do know what I am doing—I know better than you do. Stand off, I tell you!”

The stranger was, however, determined to make a fight for it, and [Pg 197] was answering in a bullying, insolent manner when Stanton came up.

“I know that voice! Where have I heard it?” was the valet’s first thought as the loud, harsh tones fell on his ear.

There was a garden seat close at hand. The admiral was carrying the fainting woman towards it. Stanton ran forward to help.

“Go to the house and call for proper assistance,” said Mr. Simpson shortly to the stranger. “You know where to find it, I suppose; you know the house.”

“I know I sha’n’t move from this while my child is at the mercy of two escaped lunatics! That’s what I know,” retorted the other savagely.

The words were not out of his mouth when Stanton was at his throat, collaring him with both hands.

“You scoundrel! I’ve caught you at last,” he said. “You villain of villains! I’ll do for you! He’s the fellow that called himself Prendergast, and that’s master Clide’s wife!”

All this took much less time to enact than to relate. The scream which had brought Stanton to the spot had been heard by an attendant; there was always one on the watch in the neighborhood of the patients’ garden, and she came hurrying up in an instant.

“Who are you all, and what are you doing here?” she cried, casting an alarmed look at the three men and at the lifeless figure stretched on the wooden seat.

“A couple of escaped lunatics!” shouted Mr. Percival, struggling furiously. Stanton was holding him by the collar, while Mr. Simpson pinioned him from behind, the admiral standing meantime, bent in eager scrutiny, over the strange figure, decked out in faded flowers and ribbons, that lay insensible before him.

“Come here!” he said, beckoning to the attendant; “come and attend to this poor creature, and leave those gentlemen to settle their business alone.”

The woman evidently felt that this was what it most concerned her to do; she allowed the admiral to lift the patient in his arms, while she guided him into the house. They had just entered by a back door when Clide de Winton walked by in search of Stanton. The porter had directed him to “somewhere about the grounds,” and, after looking in vain up and down the avenues, he was going to give it up in despair when he saw the door in the garden wall, now wide open, and heard a voice which he recognized as Stanton’s, “Come on! You may as well give in and come quietly; bad language and kicks will only make it worse for you, you rascal!”

Clide was quickly on the spot, and beheld Stanton and Mr. Simpson wrestling desperately with a man whose fury seemed a match for their united strength.

“I’ve caught him, Master Clide! We have him tight—that rascal Prendergast! You an’t he? You be choked for a —— liar!”

Clide stood for a moment confounded. There was not a trait of resemblance, as far as he could see, between the stout, full-bodied man with jet black hair, and the gray-haired, thin, miserable-looking mortal whom he remembered as Mr. Prendergast. His first idea was that Stanton had made another outrageous mistake, as in the case of Miss Eliza Jane Honey.

“Who are you? You are not the Mr. Prendergast I knew, are [Pg 198] you?” he said, addressing the stranger.

“Of course I am not! I never saw you or this madman in my life! My name is Mathew Percival; my daughter is unfortunately a patient in this asylum, and this fellow will have it that she is his wife!”

“My master’s wife, you scoundrel! Don’t think to come over us with making believe not to understand! She’s Mr. Clide de Winton’s wife!” said Stanton, taking a tighter grip, as if he feared the prize might make a sudden dart and escape from him.

“You are the man who called himself Prendergast, and whose niece, as you then called her, I married!” said Clide. The voice and the broad Scotch accent were unmistakable, though the speaker had made an effort to disguise them. “You say she is your daughter now. Speak the truth at once. The patient in yonder house is the Isabel Cameron whom I married. Let him go, Simpson! Stanton, let go your hold on him! Speak out now.”

Mr. Prendergast, or Percival, looked down sullenly for a moment, as if making up his mind how to meet this challenge; then he looked up with the dogged, defiant air of a man at bay who is resolved to die game. He was going to speak, when a woman, the same attendant who had just left them, came running up in breathless haste.

“Stanton! Which of you is Stanton?” she cried.

“It’s me!”

“Then go as fast as you can and fetch your master! His wife is calling for him; run quickly, or it will be too late. She is dying!”

“I am his master! I am her husband! Take me with you!” said Clide, turning so white that Stanton thought he was going to faint and made a movement to give him his arm; but Clide waved him away and walked on with a steady step.

Something between a cry and an oath escaped from Percival; he made no attempt to follow them, but muttered more to himself than to his companions:

“The murder is out! There is nothing more to tell. She is his wife, and I am the Prendergast he knew.”

Stanton’s fury had subsided in an instant, quenched by the chill which those words of the attendant had thrown upon the group: “She is dying!” What had human passion or earthly vengeance to do now with Isabel or Mr. Prendergast? In the presence of the Great Avenger all other vengeance was silenced. The three men walked on toward the house without exchanging a word. The porter let them in. The doctor, he said, had not yet returned. It did not matter; they would wait, not for him now, but for Death.

When Clide entered the room, he beheld Admiral de Winton seated beside the dying woman’s bed; her face was lifted toward his with a mute expression, half of yearning, half of fear, while she listened to the soothing words he tried to speak to her. The moment Clide appeared her eyes turned toward him. There was no mistaking the identity now; those eyes, so faded and dim, were the same that had first fired his foolish heart with their dark young radiance. The cheeks, once round, were wan and hollow, the glossy, ebon hair was specked with gray, but the face was that of his long-lost wife, the Isabel of his boyish love.

“You have come!… You have come to say that you forgive [Pg 199] me!” she said in faint, low tones, fastening a wistful, trembling glance on him; for Clide did not advance at once, but stood on the threshold, arrested by the mournful spectacle.

“Isabel!” he exclaimed, approaching softly, and he knelt down and leaned over her.

She looked at him so long without speaking that he began to fear she did not know him after all. He raised the little hand to his lips, and then stroked it caressingly; the action, the touch, seemed to strike some chord long sleeping.

“Clide, Clide!” she murmured, and the tears rose and rolled in large drops down her cheeks. His heart was wrung with pity; there was no room for any other feeling. If she had wronged him as deeply as he had ever feared, he forgave it all. He remembered nothing but that they had once loved each other, that she had suffered cruelly, and that she was dying.

“My poor Isabel! I forgive you with all my heart, as I hope to be forgiven; so help me God!”

He let his head fall on the pillow beside her and wept silently.

Admiral de Winton made a sign to the attendant that they had better withdraw and leave them alone; she hesitated a moment, and then followed him and closed the door softly behind her. And so they were once more together—those two who had been joined and parted, and reunited now for a moment only before the final parting. No one disturbed them, no eye looked behind the curtain while that last sacred interview lasted. For three hours Clide knelt by the side of his dying wife, her hand in his, her head resting on his breast. He whispered words of tenderness and mercy to the wearied spirit; he told her of a Love greater than his, and of a pardon mightier and more availing, of which his was but the pledge and the forerunner.

At sunset she died.


[Pg 200]


In the Life of Pope Pius VII. Miss Allies has given us a picture of rare beauty and deep interest. We think, however, that the title of the book has not been well chosen. It is not a biography of Pius VII., but a history of the efforts of Napoleon Bonaparte to make the Papacy an appendage and support of the vast empire which he had founded with his sword. The materials for the narrative have been drawn chiefly from the Mémoires of Cardinal Consalvi and the Memorie Storiche of Cardinal Pacca, both of whom were witnesses of the facts which they relate. The author is also greatly indebted to the recent work of d’Haussonville, L’Eglise Romaine et le Premier Empire.

The shock of the Revolution of 1789, which unsettled everything in Europe—ideas, customs, laws, government—could not possibly have left the church undisturbed. In France the goods of the clergy were declared to belong to the nation. The churches were turned into temples of Reason, the convents converted into barracks, the priests who remained faithful to their consciences guillotined or sent into exile. The new republic, “one and indivisible,” aspired to be also universal, and soon the clash of arms resounded throughout Europe. Napoleon, at the head of the army of Italy, gained those brilliant victories which kindled in his heart the flame of an all-devouring ambition. He was ordered to march upon Rome, and he wrote to Cardinal Mattei: “Save the pope from the greatest of evils; be persuaded that I need only the will in order to destroy his power.” Pius VI. was in consequence forced to sign a treaty in which he gave up a considerable part of his territory, and in the following year (1798) the French republic invaded Rome. The reign of the popes was declared to be at an end; the Holy Father was dragged away into captivity, and in August, 1799, died at Valence. The following November the cardinals met in conclave in Venice under the protection of Russia, England, and Turkey, and elected Barnaba Chiaramonti, who took the title of Pius VII., and on the 3d of July, 1800, entered Rome amidst universal demonstrations of joy. Just two months before Bonaparte had led his victorious troops across the Alps, and, having triumphed over Austria, had a Te Deum sung in the cathedral of Milan for the deliverance of Italy from infidels and heretics—the Turks, namely, and the English. Shortly afterwards he informed Pius VII. of his wish to open negotiations for the arrangement of religious matters. The First Consul was preparing to assume the purple. “I did not usurp the crown,” he said; “it was lying in the mire: I picked it up. The people placed it on my head.” He felt, however, that an empire founded upon “blood and iron” could not dispense with the moral support of religion. He therefore determined to enter into a Concordat with the pope. This resolution, we are bound to believe, sprang purely from political and selfish motives. Whilst fortune [Pg 201] smiled upon him Napoleon cared for religion only so far as it served his ambitious ends. To Menon, in Egypt, he wrote: “I thank you for the honors you have paid to our prophet.” In India he would have been for Ali, for Confucius in China, and in Thibet for the Dalai Lama. Consalvi was despatched to Paris to enter into articles of agreement with the First Consul. When the cardinal presented himself before Bonaparte, he turned abruptly upon him and said: “I know what brings you to France. I wish the negotiations to begin at once. I give you five days, and, if at the end of that time matters are not arranged, you must return to Rome; for my own part, I have already provided against such a contingency.”

After many discussions the First Consul declared that he was ready to ratify the Concordat. Joseph Bonaparte, Bernier, and Crétet were to sign for the French government, and Consalvi, Spina, and Caselli for the pope. At the appointed hour and place they all met. Bernier held in his hand what he said was the Concordat, and, as the cardinal claimed the right of signing first, he attempted to get him to affix his signature without looking at the document; but a glance showed Consalvi that a spurious paper had been substituted, and he refused to sign his name. The Concordat was to be proclaimed at a public dinner on the following day; so the discussions were reopened and continued through the whole night, but no satisfactory conclusion was reached. The hour for the dinner arrived, and when the cardinal entered the banquet-hall Bonaparte called out to him in a mocking tone:

“So you wish to break with me, Monsieur le Cardinal? Well, be it so! I have no need of Rome! I have no need of the pope! If Henry VIII., without the twentieth part of my power, was able to change the religion of his subjects, how much more able am not I! In changing the religion of France I shall change it in all Europe, in all places where my power is felt. When will you go?”

“After dinner,” replied the cardinal with seeming unconcern. This outburst of wrath was meant to frighten Consalvi: Bonaparte had really no intention of breaking so suddenly with the pope. Again negotiations were begun. The Concordat was signed, and Joseph was deputed to take it to the First Consul to obtain his placet; but the great man tore the paper into a hundred pieces. Finally, however, he yielded, and the public exercise of religious worship was again permitted in France.

But when Bonaparte published the Concordat, he added to it the “Organic Articles,” by which many of its provisions were practically annulled; and he was even guilty of the falsehood of making it appear that these articles were part of the convention with Pius VII. He was resolved to rule the consciences of men in the same absolute way in which he commanded his army. The bishops were required to submit all their official documents to the prefects of the departments. To prelates who were particularly zealous pastorals were sent, made to order by the central bureau at Paris. A bishop was not permitted to appoint or remove a priest without Bonaparte’s permission. Public worship was placed under the supervision of the police.

On the 16th of May, 1804, the senate voted that Napoleon should assume the title of emperor. Two months before, with premeditation and in cold blood, he had had the [Pg 202] Duc d’Enghien assassinated at Vincennes; and this stain upon his name made him the more anxious to receive the imperial crown from the consecrated hands of the pope. A middle course was not open to Pius VII. He had either to accept Napoleon’s invitation or to declare himself his enemy.

With the understanding that the “Organic Articles” should be repealed, and that the constitutional clergy should make their retractation in his hands, the pope set out for Paris. In his long journey he was permitted to stop but twice, and upon his first meeting the new emperor he was treated in the most uncivil manner.

On the eve of the coronation Pius VII. received a visit from Josephine. She came to unburden her heart to him. The church had never blessed her marriage with Bonaparte, and she felt that this would probably be her last opportunity to have this matter arranged. The pope declared that he would not assist at the coronation unless the marriage was first contracted according to the rite of the church. The duplicity of Napoleon had deeply wounded the Holy Father, and the emperor’s wrath could not shake the pope’s firm resolve. During the night preceding the coronation, therefore, Cardinal Fesch performed the marriage ceremony in the chapel of the Tuileries in the presence of two witnesses. When the moment for the coronation came, Napoleon took the crown from the altar of Notre Dame, and himself placed it on his head. He had given the Holy Father his word that there should be but one coronation; in violation of this promise he had himself crowned a second time in the Champ de Mars. He crammed for his interviews with the pope, in order to astonish him by his knowledge of church history. Already he was pondering over the thought of keeping the Holy Father in France. The archiepiscopal palace was to be fitted up for Pius VII. and reserved exclusively for the Pontifical Court. When this was intimated to the pope, he replied that it had not been unforeseen; before leaving Rome he had signed a formal abdication, in case he should be forcibly detained in France. The document was in Palermo in the hands of Cardinal Pignatelli; the emperor might imprison Barnaba Chiaramonti, the simple monk, but not Pius VII., the Vicar of Christ.

The subject was dropped. The petty jealousy and dread of rival power or popularity which was so marked a feature in Napoleon’s character could not be concealed whilst the Holy Father remained in Paris as an independent sovereign. He was not allowed to celebrate pontifical Mass at Notre Dame on Christmas day; and he was hurried off to Mâcon before Easter, and thence continued his journey back to Rome, having refused to assist at the ceremony of Napoleon’s coronation at Milan as King of Italy.

Jérome Bonaparte, a younger brother of Napoleon, had married a Protestant girl in the United States, and the emperor, who wished his brothers and sisters to make matrimonial alliances with the most powerful families of Europe, applied to the pope to annul the marriage. Pius VII. declared that he had no power in the case. Napoleon sought revenge by meddling still further with the affairs of the church in Italy, and by taking forcible possession of Ancona, a portion of the papal territory. The Holy Father protested in a letter dated the 13th of November, 1805, which [Pg 203] Napoleon did not find time to answer till January 7, 1806. In those two months he had brought to a close one of his most brilliant campaigns, had conquered the emperors of Austria and Russia, and dictated terms to all Europe.

In reply to the protest of the Holy Father Napoleon wrote to his ambassador at Rome in the following style: “The pope has written me a most ridiculous, a most foolish letter. These people thought I was dead.… Since these idiots do not object to the possibility of a Protestant occupying the throne of France, I will send them a Protestant ambassador.… I will change nothing outwardly, if people behave themselves with me; but otherwise I shall reduce the pope to be bishop of Rome. Really, nothing is so wanting in sense as the court of Rome.”

Only the Emperor of Russia and the King of England he declared were masters in their own states, because they had no pope to trouble them.

A month later (February, 1806) Pius VII. received another letter from Napoleon.

“Your Holiness,” he wrote, “must profess the same regard for me in the temporal order as I profess for you in the spiritual order. All my enemies must be your enemies. That an Englishman, a Russian, a Swede, or a minister of the Sardinian king should henceforth reside in Rome or in any part of your states is entirely unfitting. No vessel belonging to any of these states should enter your ports.”

The Holy Father replied that he was unable to assent to demands which were opposed to the character of his divine mission, “which owns no enmities, not even with those who have departed from the centre of unity.” Napoleon attributed the pope’s firmness to the counsels of Consalvi, and he determined to drive him from office. “Tell him,” he wrote to his ambassador, “that but two courses remain open to him: always to do what I wish or to quit the ministry.” He also informed the cardinal that none of his movements were unknown to him, and that for the first compromising act he should answer with his head; he would have him arrested in the streets of Rome. “These priests,” he said, “keep the soul for themselves and throw me the carcass.”

All this storm of imperial rage had broken upon the Head of the church because he had dared defend the honor of a Protestant girl, the daughter of a simple American citizen, against the attacks of the most terrible monarch of Europe.

Napoleon’s dream was to found a great western empire like that of Charlemagne, and for the accomplishment of this design he saw that the co-operation of the pope was necessary. He was therefore willing to defend the pope on condition that he should become his tool and lend himself as an obedient slave to his ambitious projects. But when he saw that there was no hope of bringing Pius VII. to accept his views on this subject, he began to govern the church after his own fashion. The bishops and priests who did not conform to his wishes were thrown into prison or forced to keep silence. He had his victories proclaimed from the pulpits; he furnished pastorals and exhortations in which it was made to appear that he was the defender of the faith, fighting against infidels and heretics; he recommended that prayers should be said that “our brothers, the persecuted Catholics of Ireland, might enjoy liberty of [Pg 204] worship.” “Inform M. Robert, a priest of Bourges,” he wrote, “of my displeasure. He preached a very foolish sermon on the 15th of August. L’Abbé de Coucy is a great worry to me. He keeps up too great a correspondence. I wish him to be arrested and put into a monastery.… It is really shameful that you have not yet arrested M. Stevens. People are too sleepy; else how could a wretched priest have escaped?… I see from your letter that you have caused a curé of La Vendée to be arrested. You have acted very wisely. Keep him in prison.” All religious newspapers—save one, the Journal des Curés, whose publications were strictly supervised—were suppressed. “No priest,” said Napoleon, “should bother his head about the church except in his sermons.” A special Sunday each year was set aside to commemorate the coronation and the victories of the Grande Armée; and in the sermon preached on that day particular mention was to be made of those who had fallen at Austerlitz. M. Portalis was charged with the preparation of a new imperial catechism, which was published in August, 1806. The children of France were taught that “the honor and the service of the emperor is one and the same thing as the honor and service of God”; that those who were wanting in their duty to Napoleon rendered themselves worthy of eternal damnation; and that God had given the crown not only to him, but to his family. The French bishops submitted in silence to this orthodox imperialism.

The next step was to deprive the pope of his temporal power. As Pius VII. had refused to enter into the emperor’s plans for the founding of a great western empire, he was to be imprisoned. Napoleon had just annihilated the wonderful troops of Frederick the Great, and from his palace at Berlin he once more dictated terms to the Holy Father. “Let the pope,” he wrote, “do what I wish, and he will be repaid for the past and the future.”

All Europe, save England, was lying helpless at the feet of the conqueror; and that the pope should continue to defend the interests of a Protestant country against the power of a second Charlemagne was an impossible supposition.

But Napoleon was now so great that he refused to enter into personal correspondence with Pius VII.; so he wrote to Eugene Beauharnais, the Viceroy of Italy, with instructions that he should communicate his letter to the pope.

“They say,” wrote the emperor,” that they want to publish all the evil that I have committed against religion. The idiots! They ignore, then, that there does not exist a spot in Italy, Germany, or Poland where I have not done more for religion than the pope has done evil.… What does Pius VII. mean by denouncing me to Christendom? Does he imagine that their arms will fall from the hands of my soldiers?… Perhaps the time is not far off when, if this meddling in my affairs does not stop, I shall acknowledge the pope to be nothing more than bishop of Rome, holding a rank in all respects similar to my bishops.… In two words, this is the last time that I consent to treat with these wretched priests of Rome.”

The pope replied to these insults in a letter full of meekness and humility, in which he declared that he had refused Napoleon nothing which his conscience would permit him to grant. Napoleon gave orders for the occupation of Rome by the French troops under General Miollis; and the army passed [Pg 205] in through the open gates of the city on the 2d of February, 1808. The pope was a prisoner. The Neapolitan cardinals were carried off by force; and in March all who were not natives of the states of the church were ordered to leave Rome. The dethronement of the pope was proclaimed with the sound of the trumpet, and his dominions were declared irrevocably united to the kingdom of Italy. The Holy Father signed the bull of excommunication, and in the night of the 5th of July, 1809, General Radet broke into his apartments, arrested him and Cardinal Pacca, hurried them into a closed carriage, and drove out of Rome through the Porta Pia, accompanied by a detachment of gendarmes. The pope, who was ill and weak, was driven in great haste through Italy to Savona, a fortified town near Genoa, where he was imprisoned.

Europe was dumb, the press was silent, and people dared not even express sympathy for the Holy Father. Napoleon tried to make the world forget that there was a pope; but he himself was often reminded of his existence. Many dioceses were without bishops, and the pope refused to confirm those who had been appointed, so long as he was deprived of his liberty. The emperor had some of the highest dignitaries of the French church to write to the prisoner of Savona to represent the evil consequences of this refusal; but to no purpose. All the cardinals were summoned to Paris to grace the Imperial Court. The Penitentiaria and Dataria were also removed thither. Napoleon sent a circular to the bishops, ordering them “to suppress the prayer to St. Gregory VII., and to substitute another feast for that of this saint, whom the Gallican Church cannot recognize.” Everything was “to be organized as if no pope existed.” No priest was to be ordained without the emperor’s permission. “Give orders,” he wrote, “to the prefect of the Taro department to choose fifty of the worst priests at Parma and fifty of the worst at Piacenza.… Let them embark for Corsica.”

The time had now come when Napoleon was resolved to be divorced from Josephine. He consulted the Archbishop of Bordeaux and his clergy on the subject. Their reply was unfavorable, and he summarily dismissed them and had the vicar-general and the superior of the seminary deprived of their offices. One day, after a very silent repast with the empress, he broached the subject to her. She fell fainting to the floor; the emperor summoned the chamberlain and had her carried to her apartments. Her adieu to sovereignty was effected under trying circumstances. A grand reception took place at the Tuileries on the evening of her departure. She assisted at the funeral of her worldly greatness, and the fate of Napoleon was decided at the same moment by a few hurried words spoken by two courtiers as they were leaving the imperial presence. Negotiations for the marriage of Napoleon with the Grand Duchess Olga, sister of the Czar of Russia, were all but concluded. That night M. Floret, the first secretary of the Austrian Embassy, whispered to M. de Sémonville that the emperor might easily have the hand of Marie Louise of Austria. This was related to Napoleon; the alliance with Russia was broken off; and two years later came the retreat from Moscow, when the arms fell from his soldiers’ hands. But to espouse a daughter of the Catholic house of Austria it was necessary to obtain not [Pg 206] only a civil but also a religious divorce from Josephine. No other authority than that of the pope, Cardinal Fesch declared, would be otherwise than “uncertain or dangerous” on the subject; but to apply to the captive of Savona would be useless. Napoleon therefore created an ecclesiastical tribunal for the occasion, over which his uncle, Cardinal Fesch, was appointed to preside. The emperor first attempted to make it appear that his marriage with Josephine in 1804 was invalid, because it had taken place without witnesses or deed; but the cardinal was able to show that this was not true. He next alleged as a cause of illegality the absence of the parish priest; but the faculties conferred upon Fesch by Pius VII. more than supplied this deficiency. As a last resort Napoleon declared that he had never consented to the religious marriage, thus openly confessing that he had deceived Josephine, Cardinal Fesch, and the Holy Father. This statement, however, was probably an after-thought and false, which is not surprising in an habitual liar like Napoleon. The tribunal was threatened with the anger of the emperor if it kept him waiting beyond a certain day. As it had been created only to do his bidding, his marriage with Josephine was declared null; but let us remark that the Holy Father had nothing to do with this business; he was not even consulted, as he had already given proof of what might be expected from him in the case of Jérôme Bonaparte and Miss Paterson. Nearly all the cardinals were at this time living in Paris. Fourteen of them gave it as their opinion that the divorce had been rightly granted; thirteen others asserted that the tribunal was incompetent, and that the case should have been submitted to the pope. In consequence they determined not to assist at the marriage of Napoleon and Marie Louise. When Cardinal Fesch reported this to the emperor, he got into a fit of rage. “Bah! they will not dare,” he exclaimed; and when Cardinal Consalvi, the leader of the thirteen, came to a public audience at the Tuileries eight days before the ceremony, Napoleon came up to him, stopped before him, gave him a thundering look, and passed on without speaking a word. As he entered the chapel of the Louvre for the wedding he wore an air of triumph; but his countenance grew dark when he perceived the thirteen were not there.

“Where are the cardinals?” he asked in an irritated tone.

“A great number are here,” was the reply.

“Ah! the fools; but they are not here,” said Napoleon with another glance at the empty seats. “The fools, the fools!”

He declared that it was his intention to cause the resignation of these individuals, and that henceforth they were to be deprived of the Purple. In this way arose the title of Black and Red cardinals. The property of the thirteen was seized and their income went to swell the public treasure, whilst they were sent to different provincial towns and placed under surveillance.

The difficulty as to the appointment of bishops to vacant dioceses had not been settled. In May, 1810, Napoleon despatched two cardinals, most favorable to his pretensions, to Pius VII., whom he still held a prisoner in Savona, to persuade the pope to confirm the bishops appointed by the emperor; but the Holy Father was immovable. Napoleon thereupon resolved to make his own bishops and dispense with [Pg 207] the papal confirmation. Cardinal Fesch, who had accepted the title of Archbishop-elect of Paris, now refused to take possession of his see without the approval of the pope.

“I can force you to obey me,” said Napoleon to his uncle.

“Sire, potius mori,” replied the cardinal.

“Ah! ah! potius mori—rather Maury. Be it so. You shall have Maury.” Cardinal Maury accepted, and in a few days his vicar-general was arrested and sent to the dungeon of Vincennes, where he remained till the fall of the empire. About the same time Vincennes opened its gloomy gates to Cardinals di Pietro and Gabrielli. This was in 1811. Pius VII. had been in prison for two years. Napoleon now ordered his jailers to treat him with greater severity. No person was allowed to see him without the emperor’s permission; and for violating this regulation some priests from Marseilles were thrown into a filthy dungeon. All letters to and from the Holy Father were submitted to the inspection of the keeper of the prison.

“It is useless for the pope to write,” said Napoleon; “the less he does, the better it will be.… The less that which he writes reaches its destination, the better.… I trouble myself very little as to what he may do.… Let him be told that it is distressing for Christendom to own a pope so ignorant of what is due to sovereigns, but that the state will not be disturbed, and good will be effected without him.”

On the 8th of January, 1811, experts sent from Paris entered the episcopal palace at Savona, where the Holy Father was confined, opened his doors and drawers, searched his correspondence, unsewed his clothes, and broke open his desk, in order to discover something that might incriminate him. They even took away his breviary and the Office of the Blessed Virgin. He was also ordered to deliver up the Ring of the Fisherman; but, justly suspecting that it would be used for fraudulent purposes, he broke it in two and handed the pieces to Napoleon’s agent. A moral terrorism reigned over the religious world in France and Italy. The emperor’s vengeance pursued even ladies who gave alms to the Black cardinals. The cardinals, bishops, and priests who had spoken against his tyranny were in prison; the rest remained silent.

Napoleon now called a National Council to devise measures for governing the church without the assistance of the pope. The French bishops had for the most part been kept ignorant of the precise nature of the trouble between himself and Pius VII., and he intended by this new move to impress upon the mind of the Sovereign Pontiff that he could nor rely upon the support of the bishops. First, however, a deputation was sent to the pope to urge upon him the pressing necessity of conforming without further delay to the will of the emperor. Pius VII. was at this time in very feeble health, and Napoleon did not hesitate to bribe his physician, Dr. Porta, that he might inform the members of the deputation of the most favorable opportunity to take advantage of the weak and suffering state of the Holy Father to wring from him the desired concessions. For some days those who surrounded him were able to attest the presence of all the symptoms of madness.

“You will have seen,” wrote his jailer to the Minister of Worship, “by my last letters that the uncertainty of the pope when he is left to himself goes to the [Pg 208] length of affecting his reason and his health. At present the mental alienation has passed off.”

Still, the bishops sent by Napoleon to Savona were obliged to return without the pope’s signature to the document of concessions. The National Council was opened on the 17th of June, in the Cathedral of Notre Dame, under the nominal presidency of Cardinal Fesch. The opening discourse was delivered by Mgr. de Boulogne, Bishop of Troyes, who spoke in eloquent and burning words “of the Supreme Head of the episcopate, without whom it resembles a branch separated from the tree and withered, or a vessel tossed by the waves without rudder or steersman.”

“This see may be removed,” he said, “but it cannot be destroyed. Its magnificence may be taken away, but never its strength. Wherever this see shall establish itself it shall draw all others around it.” These words fell like burning coals in the midst of the assembly and produced great emotion. The effect had not died away when the Bishop of Nantes arose to comply with the formality of asking each prelate whether it pleased him that the council should be opened. “Yes,” answered the Archbishop of Bordeaux, “saving the obedience due to the Sovereign Pontiff, to whom I bind myself and whom I swear to obey.” Then Cardinal Fesch in a loud voice read the oath as prescribed by a bull of Pius IV.: “I acknowledge the Holy Catholic, Apostolic, and Roman Church to be the mother and mistress of all other churches; I promise and swear perfect obedience to the Roman pontiff, the successor of St. Peter, Prince of the Apostles, and Vicar of Jesus Christ on earth.” One by one the bishops bound themselves irrevocably to the cause of Pius VII. Napoleon was furious and berated his uncle for “getting up one of his scenes.” Two laymen were appointed to be present in his name at all future meetings of the bishops.

Some of the courtier prelates drew up a fulsome address to Napoleon, a kind of treatise on state theology, which they presented to the members of the council for their signature. Mgr. de Broglie, Bishop of Ghent, declared he would never sign it. Another bishop proposed that “the liberty of the pope” should be demanded. This was received with a confused murmur of applause; but Cardinal Fesch, who dreaded the wrath of his nephew, declared that the time was inopportune for such a request. Napoleon, unable longer to restrain himself, ordered the council to put an end to its “idle debates.” He gave the members eight days to devise an expedient for providing bishops for the vacant sees. As a sign of his displeasure he refused to receive the council officially at the Tuileries. The bishops, he said, had “acted as cowards.” In answer to the demand to find an expedient for providing bishops for the vacant sees without the confirmation of the pope, the council declared that it would first be necessary to send a deputation to consult Pius VII. This declaration was carried by Fesch to his imperial nephew. He was received with an outburst of anger. Napoleon would soon show the bishops their place. When the cardinal attempted to reason with him, he rudely stopped him: “What! theology again! Where did you learn it? Be quiet; you are an ignoramus.” He threatened to dissolve the council and organize a system of state religion, but finally drew up a decree himself, in which he falsely asserted that the pope had [Pg 209] made the desired concessions. The bishops were deceived, and, with two exceptions, voted in favor of the decree. A little reflection, however, convinced many of them of the fraud which had been practised upon them, and they recalled their votes. Suddenly, on the 11th of July, Napoleon dissolved the council. The following day, at three o’clock in the morning, Mgr. de Broglie, Mgr. de Boulogne, and Mgr. Hirn, who had taken a prominent part in opposing the decree, were arrested in their beds and carried off to the prison of Vincennes. In August five cardinals and eight bishops, partisans of the emperor, were sent to Savona to make still another effort to win over Pius VII. to Napoleon’s plans. The Holy Father, who was so closely guarded that no one was allowed to see him except his bribed doctor and the jailer, was in total ignorance of all that had passed in the National Council. For five months, from September, 1811, to February, 1812, these cardinals and bishops used every argument and artifice to induce the pope to sign the decree of the council.

Their efforts were successful. Pius VII., worn out with importunities, feeble in body and in mind, wrote the brief of adhesion. But Napoleon was not satisfied. He was already organizing his army for the fatal Russian campaign, and he wrote to his Minister of Worship the following instructions: “I send you the original papal brief. Keep it and communicate its contents to nobody. I wish to find the bishops in Rome on my return, to see what we can do.… The truth is, the church is experiencing a crisis.” His victory over Russia was, in his imagination, already an accomplished fact; he would return the undisputed sovereign of all Europe, would gather the bishops in Rome, and would give to the church, as he had given to the state, a Code Napoléon.

On the 24th of January, 1812, the Holy Father wrote to him in the most unaffected and simple manner, and begged to be permitted to consult disinterested counsellors and to have free communication with the faithful. Napoleon disdained to answer this letter, but sent through his Minister of Worship the following notification to the deputation at Savona: “His majesty deems that it is unfitting to his dignity to answer the letter of the pope.… His majesty pities the ignorance of the pope, and compassionates a pontiff who could have played so great a part, but who has become the calamity of the church.… His majesty understands these matters of ecclesiastical jurisdiction better than the Holy Father.… If the pope cannot make a distinction which is simple enough to be grasped by the most uncultivated seminarian, why does he not voluntarily descend from the papal chair and leave it to a man who is less feeble in mind and better principled than he?” And now, just as he was setting out on the Russian campaign, he ordered that Pius VII. should be transferred from Savona to Fontainebleau.

The Holy Father was unwell, but to this no attention was paid. Just before reaching the Mont Cenis he fell dangerously ill. The journey was not interrupted. A bed was fitted up in the carriage and a surgeon procured, who, with the instruments that might be needed, accompanied him. When they reached Fontainebleau nothing was prepared, and the pope had to pass the first night in the porter’s lodge. [Pg 210] A Guide-book of Paris, published at this time, informed the French that they possessed a “papal palace” in their capital. But the end was drawing near. On the 24th of June, 1812, Napoleon crossed the Niemen at the head of an army of five hundred thousand men. As he reached the opposite bank his horse stumbled and fell. His fatalism led him to consider this a bad omen. The Russians fled before him, and, after the victories of Smolensk and Borodino, he rode into Moscow on the 15th of September. It was silent as a desert, and the Kremlin, where he took up his residence, was like a tomb. At midnight from a hundred quarters the flames burst forth, and in the lurid light of the burning city the army began the fatal retreat. The weather, which had been fine, suddenly grew cold; sleet and snow and rain beat with merciless fury upon the men, from their benumbed hands their arms fell, and by the roadside they laid down to die. On the 18th of December Napoleon arrived, a fugitive, in Paris. In this one campaign he had lost 250,000 men, half of whom had died of cold and hunger.

With the beginning of the year 1813 he wrote to Pius VII. and begged him to believe that his feelings of respect and veneration were independent of circumstances. Shortly afterwards he went to visit the Holy Father at Fontainebleau, and upon their first meeting for eight years he embraced him with every mark of affection. The health of the pope was wretched, and advantage was taken of his weak condition to obtain still further concessions.

Upon the promise of Napoleon to liberate the imprisoned cardinals, bishops, and priests, Pius VII. signed the Concordat of Fontainebleau—an act which he almost immediately recalled, and which he never ceased to regret. When the faithful Pacca, after so long a separation, was at length admitted to his presence, he expressed his admiration for the pope’s heroic constancy.

“But finally,” cried out the Holy Father in anguish, “we have sullied our conscience. Those cardinals dragged me to the table and made me sign.”

Pius VII. was still held a prisoner, and Napoleon acted as though the Concordat of Fontainebleau still existed. He appointed bishops, imprisoned priests, and drafted seminarians to fill up his decimated regiments.

The victories of Lutzen and Bautzen were more brilliant than important. In August, 1813, the Emperor of Austria declared against his son-in-law. Then came the crushing defeat of Leipsic, and Napoleon was slowly driven back upon France, closely followed by the allied armies. Orders were sent to remove Pius VII. from Fontainebleau, and a few days later the war was raging at the very gates of the palace which he had so recently occupied. Finally, on the 10th of March, 1814, when all hope was lost, Napoleon signed a decree which restored his dominions to the pope. Since his removal from Fontainebleau Pius VII. had been driven about through various parts of France, closely guarded; but now that he turned his face toward Rome, his journey assumed the appearance of a triumphal procession, and at length, on the 24th of May, 1814, the Feast of Our Lady, Help of Christians, he re-entered the Holy City amid the universal enthusiasm of his people. Just one month before, in the palace of Fontainebleau, Napoleon signed [Pg 211] the decree which declared his empire at an end; and, a fallen sovereign, he passed out in silence through the ranks of the men whom he had so often led to victory.

In his last meeting with Josephine he took her hand and said: “Josephine, I have been as fortunate as any man upon earth. But in this hour, when a storm is gathering over me, I have in the wide world none but you upon whom I can repose.” And in St. Helena he said to Caulaincourt: “If I live a hundred years, I shall never forget those scenes; they are the fixed ideas of my sleepless nights. I have had enough of sovereignty. I want no more of it; I want no more of it.”

It is not easy to form a just estimate of the character of Napoleon. We have heard veterans who had fought at Austerlitz and Lutzen declare that when he rode along the line his glance did so blind the eye that they could not look upon him; and they thought so. This light of glory still enshrines his memory and dazzles us, to prevent us from seeing him as he was. No one has ever doubted his surprising strength; his almost incredible power to bear labor, whether of body or mind; his wonderful intellect, which grasped things with equal ease, in general and in detail; his unequalled ability to organize an army, a nation, or a continent; his courage, which rose superior to the most crushing defeat.

But with these great endowments he had a coarse and selfish nature. He was as ready to lie as to tell the truth. No act that was expedient was bad. His ambitious ends sanctified all means by which they could be attained. Dissimulation, deceit, hypocrisy, betrayal of friends, imprisonment, murder, assassination, he was ready to use indifferently as his purposes demanded. Without moral convictions himself, he believed others equally devoid of them. To assign conscience as a reason for anything was in his eyes pretence and hypocrisy. The religious scruples of the pope and cardinals he held to be mere obstinacy and ill-will. When Pius VII. declared he had not the power to annul the marriage of Jerome with Miss Patterson, Napoleon saw in this only a desire to take revenge for the way in which he had been insulted at the coronation. After having persecuted bishops and priests, keeping many of them in prison, during his whole reign, he had the impudence to declare in St. Helena that the priests were all for him as soon as he allowed them to wear violet-colored stockings. He was the coarsest reviler and insulted all whom he feared or hated. The pope and the cardinals were “idiots and fools”; the republicans were “mad dogs and brigands”; the King of Prussia was “the most complete fool of all the kings on earth”; the Spanish Bourbons were “a flock of sheep”; De Broglie, the Bishop of Ghent, was “a reptile”; the priests who disapproved of the Concordat were “the scum of the earth”; and of the philosophers he said: “Je les ai comme une vermine sur mes habits.” His conduct towards women was coarse and contemptuous. They ought to know nothing and were not fit to have opinions. He told Madame de Staël to go home and knit her stockings; the greatest woman was she who had the most children—he wanted soldiers. He did not conceal his contempt for men. “Every year of my reign,” he said in St. Helena, “I saw more and more plainly that the harsher the treatment men received, the [Pg 212] greater was their submission and devotion. My despotism then increased in proportion to my contempt for mankind.” From 1804 to 1815 he sacrificed to his mad ambition not less than five millions of men. Several thousand French subjects were shot merely for desertion. Each principal town had its place aux fusillades. The prisons of France were filled with his victims. A more thorough tyrant than he never lived. Liberty of all kinds was odious to him. He hated all whom he could not enslave. To be free was to be his enemy. While he reigned men spoke with bated breath, the press was fettered, and the church was in chains. In his own family he was a despot; he gave his brothers crowns, but only on condition that they would become his slaves; and when Lucien thought that even royal honors might be bought at too dear a price, he was forced to leave France.

His jealousy was surpassed only by his vanity. “Go,” said he to his soldiers, “kill and be killed; the emperor beholds you.”

He had a barbaric love of vulgar display, and this was one of the passions which impelled him to his bloody wars. No man ever had less heart. If he loved any one, it was Josephine, and her he sacrificed without a pang. Remorseless as destiny, which was his god, he trod out with the iron hoof of war right and life, and where he passed there was wailing and desolation as after pestilence. In his last illness on the desolate rock of St. Helena he spoke with reverence and feeling of religion. From the hands of the priest sent to him by Pius VII. he received the sacraments of the church. For six years he had held in cruel confinement Christ’s vicar, the gentlest of men; for six years he himself pined in living death on the barren island of St. Helena. It was the 5th of March, 1821, that he died. On the tomb of St. Peter Pius VII. offered up the divine Sacrifice for the repose of the soul of Napoleon.

[75] The Life of Pope Pius VII. By Mary H. Allies. London: Burns & Oates. 1875.

[Pg 213]


Mr. Stedman, the author of The Victorian Poets, appears to be a painstaking and conscientious writer. He has read with extraordinary industry all the poetry of the period to which his criticism is limited, including not a little which, if he deemed it his duty to study, it was not worth his while to name. He has brought to this study a highly, although we think not methodically, cultivated mind and a retentive memory. He has a remarkable fluency of diction, bordering occasionally on volubility, and a certain fecundity of illustration; but his words have at times a vagueness, not to say inaptness, of application which is not suggestive of clearness or depth of thought. His work, he will pardon us for thinking, is rather an “essay in” technical than “philosophical criticism.” He himself appears to be conscious of this; for he writes in his preface: “If my criticism seems more technical than is usual in a work of this kind, it is due, I think, to the fact that the technical refinement of the period has been so marked as to demand full recognition and analysis.” Furthermore, he informs us that he “has no theory of poetry”; and we must own that, in the absence of any theory of poetry, a philosophical criticism of it seems to us to be out of the question. The qualities he requires of it “are simplicity and freshness in work of all kinds, and, as the basis of persistent growth and of greatness in a masterpiece, simplicity and spontaneity, refined by art, exalted by imagination, and sustained by intellectual power”; but does he understand what he means by this? We do not. Are we to understand that the only inseparable qualities, the only properties, of poetry which must characterize “work of all kinds”—by which we presume he means every real poetical production—are simplicity and freshness? What does he mean by simplicity? what by freshness? Does he refer these qualities to expression only? If so, what does he mean by “simplicity not being excluded from the Miltonic canon of poetry”?

In the higher efforts of poetry, he tells us, we must still have simplicity; but instead of freshness we are there to look for “spontaneity.” Are, then, “simplicity and spontaneity” the basis of persistent growth (we must own that even the meaning of this expression is hidden from us) and of “greatness in a masterpiece”? No; it must be “simplicity and spontaneity refined by art, exalted by imagination, and sustained by intellectual power.” But will not the simplicity, and most assuredly the spontaneity, disappear in the “artistic refinement”? Still more difficult is the idea of “simplicity and spontaneity exalted by imagination” being the “basis” of a poetical “masterpiece.” Poetry is the offspring of the imagination. Its excellence depends absolutely on the force and vigor of that intellectual power. There can be no poetry in its absence. And what other is imagination than intellectual power?

The poetic feeling we believe to be the echo of the soul to God in [Pg 214] the presence of all his works. It is the emotion—really rapture—which wells up within it at the contemplation of the sensible images in which he reveals portions of his beauty in every variety and combination of form, proportion, color, touch, scent, and sound. Let the poet stand alone by the long margin of the sea on a still summer day. What but it is that profound emotion of which he is so intensely conscious as he looks out upon the immense ocean in its still unrest, which the blue heavens only seem to limit because his power of vision can reach no further, and when he hears the mellow murmur of the wavelets as, rearing themselves in graceful curves, they fall in low whispers along the yellow sands, as if depositing some message from infinitude, and then rapidly withdraw?

What else is that indefinable transport, resembling, only in an infinitely inferior degree, the ecstasy of a saint, which holds in suspense all our faculties as, in the languid heat of summer-tide, we stand at the foot of craggy heights between which in distant ages some river has found for itself a channel; and, as we gaze into the impenetrable shade of the dense thickets which cover their sides, hear the distant sound of falling waters, and scent the fresh perfume of the breathing foliage, the river flowing past us at our feet, to be almost immediately hidden from our view by projecting headlands, covered, they too, with the living darkness of foliage crowding upon foliage, trees on trees?

The delightful trance into which the poetic soul is lulled by the beauty and truth of God speaking through even the least of his works defies analysis; but we may say of it with some confidence that the objects that provoke it never weary of their charm. And wherefore? Because they do not obstruct the instinct of immortality, the yearning for infinitude, which is a passion within the soul of the poet, but is wholly absent from no one in whom God’s image is not quite effaced. On the contrary, their apparent endlessness, their want of boundary and definite outline, suggest infinitude, and awake the echoes of immortality from their profoundest depths, and minister to the deep yearning of the soul for something more lovely than aught of which it has been hitherto cognizant.

This it is which accounts for the immense superiority of Gothic to Grecian architecture—a superiority so complete as to elevate it into quite another sphere of beauty. The pleasure we experience at the sight of the highest efforts of a Greek architect is almost exclusively æsthetic, sensible, artistic. It is occasioned by sharpness of outline, grace of form, beauty of proportion. In these is the only poetry it can express; which can never, consequently, mount to sublimity. It can only be beautiful at best. It pleases the sense, but the soul—of the poet, at all events—soon wearies of them.

But the Gothic cathedral, with its soaring arches interlacing one another, its many naves, aisles, chapels, and recesses, its endless wealth of tracery and sculpture, its clustering pinnacles and spires pointing heavenwards, the deep shadows of its buttresses, and its many mounting roofs—in short, the utter absence of definiteness of outline, and its grandeur as well as grace of form and beauty of proportion—respond, and powerfully, to the soul’s craving for infinitude, impatience of limitation, and heart-yearning [Pg 215] for the infinitely Beautiful and True.

This poetic sense it is which causes all mere human pleasures so soon to pall upon us. For it is impossible for the human soul to experience any save a transient pleasure from aught less than the infinite and eternal. Life itself is not a pleasure, because we know it is passing away. If we believed we should be annihilated at death, the pain of life would be intolerable.

We hold, therefore, that this suggestiveness—which must not be confused with obscurity, an element antagonistic to poetry—must underlie every expression of poetry, whatever form it may take. A didactic poem is a contradiction in terms, although such a production may abound in poetical passages. It reminds one of the pictures one sees sometimes in which the painter represents with great accuracy a melon or grapes, a glass with wine in it, knives and forks, a loaf of bread, a cheese sometimes, not omitting the maggots, or a lobster tempts his brush—in short, anything which goes into the human mouth for bodily sustenance. Ordinary folk gape with wonder at the cleverness of the imitation; but there is no one so dull as to suppose that there is in it any of the poetry of art.

The visible creation is the expression of the divine Idea in it. It is impossible, consequently, that it should not express, in all its infinitude of forms, modes, color, scent, sound, etc., the truth and beauty of Him who conceived it. It would be contrary to reason to suppose that he sent it forth into objective existence as a mere toy for the amusement of his august creature, as we throw dissolving views of grotesque figures upon a white surface for the amusement of children. It was to convey to us intimations of himself, as well as snatches of his happiness. The spherical form of the unnumbered worlds; the limited power of our visual organ, which can only see the beginnings of things; perpetual motion; sound and scent, which fail not when they are no longer within the reach of our senses; the revolution, in never-ending cycles, of years, seasons, weeks, and days; renewed life never failing to come forth from rest and repose—ay, even from death and corruption; imaginary horizons, vanishing distances, light prevailing over darkness; the thrill of awful pleasure with which the created soul of man apprehends this deep meaning of things—that spiritual instinct to which time is a pain, eternity a rapture—in all are mirrored, in every variety and form of grace and loveliness, as well as of unsightliness and horror, Infinitude, Immortality, God the infinitely lovable, because he is the infinitely Beautiful and True.

In proportion to the strength of this instinct is the excellence or inferiority of the poetic gift. From this must it draw all its highest inspirations. Poetry is, in fact, its advertent expression; and thus the poet is, like God—only, of course, after a secondary and imitative fashion—a creator (ποιητὴς). He avails himself of some of the illimitable wealth of imagery in which God has expressed, or given objective existence to, his own one but infinitely varied idea, and, by fresh combinations, throws them into really new forms or creations. Out of many examples that come to mind—for excellence in this is less uncommon than in the higher order of poetry, of which the crown and [Pg 216] lord of nature form the material—may be quoted the following creation of a midsummer noon in the Earthly Paradise, by Morris:

“Within the gardens once again they met,
That now the roses did well-nigh forget;
For hot July was drawing to an end,
And August came the fainting year to mend
With fruit and grain; so ‘neath the trellises,
Nigh blossomless, did they lie well at ease,
And watched the poppies burn across the grass,
And o’er the bindweed’s bell the brown bee pass,
Still murmuring of his gains. Windless and bright
The morn had been, to help their dear delight;
But heavy clouds, ere noon, grew round the sun,
And, half-way to the zenith, wild and dun
The sky grew, and the thunder growled afar;
But, ere the steely[76] clouds began their war,
A change there came, and, as by some great hand,
The clouds that hung in threatening o’er the land
Were drawn away; then a light wind arose
That shook the light stems of that flowery close,
And made men sigh for pleasure.”

This brings us to another, and an important, point in which it is our misfortune to differ from Mr. Stedman. He regards poetry as an art. He treats it as such throughout this work; and as such he criticises it. Hence his criticism is almost exclusively technical; hence, too, it exhibits frequent inconsistencies. For example, amongst the properties he assigns to the highest poetry, which we have already quoted, he places spontaneity. By this term he means, we presume, a freedom from effort, the unbidden outflow of imagination, not the labored product of teaching and practice. But this is utterly inapplicable to art, which supposes instruction, clumsy first efforts, and perfection acquired only by years of toil. What there is of art in poetry is limited, or nearly so, to its expression; and even here the less there is of art, and the more of what Mr. Stedman means by spontaneity, the loftier and the more genuine the poetry. It is no praise but a depreciation of Matthew Arnold’s or Tennyson’s poetry to trace the inspiration of one to Bion and Moschus and of the other to Theocritus. In good sooth, he does the laureate injustice in the far-fetched examples of imitation of Theocritus he ascribes to him. It is the blemish of nearly all our modern poetry that its expression is so labored, so technical. For this it is that, in the highest poetry, nearly all who have tried it have failed; none more signally than Tennyson in Queen Mary. One only has succeeded—Sir Aubrey de Vere. Another—whom, because he has so foully outraged the moral sense of all mankind, we prefer not to name until he has made reparation, and who, if he had not cast from him all sense of the beautiful and the true, might have been perhaps the greatest poet of the age—is as remarkable for the originality and unstudiedness of his expression as for the brilliance and fecundity of his imagination.

Mr. Stedman literally limits poetry to expression. In a passage at the side of which is the marginal index, “What constitutes a poet,” he writes: “Again, the grammarian’s statement is true, that poetry is a means of expression. A poet may differ from other men in having profounder emotions and clearer perceptions; but this is not for him to assume, nor a claim which they are swift to grant. The lines,

“Oh! many are the poets that are sown
By nature—men endowed with highest gifts,
The vision and the faculty divine,
Yet wanting the accomplishment of verse,”

imply that the recognized poet is one who gives voice, in expressive language, to the common thought and feeling which lie deeper than ordinary speech. He is the interpreter; moreover, he is the maker—an artist of the beautiful, the [Pg 217] inventor of harmonious numbers which shall be a lure and a repose.”

It is clear from this unintelligible and self-contradicting passage that the writer has no theory of poetry. Yet in it he makes a very definite attempt to sketch such theory, although he before told us that he has none. What he means by it being “a grammarian’s statement” that “poetry is a means of expression” we know not. Had he asserted that poetry is the poet’s means of expression, we could have understood him without agreeing with him; but he identifies poetry with its expression. Say they must co-exist; but they are not identical. There is not a human soul without a body, nor a leaf without the sap of the tree; but great confusion would ensue from identifying the one with the other. He goes, however, even further than this. It seems to be his idea that no one can be a poet who does not write poetry. It is true he uses the term “recognized,” but he goes on to describe the poet as “an artist of the beautiful, the inventor of harmonious numbers.” But it is not necessary, for any one to be a poet, that he should be recognized as such. There are those who “want the acomplishment of verse” through the very intensity of the poetic gift. Their intuitions are so profound that language sinks under the task of conveying them; expression is overwhelmed. People never write more feebly than when under the influence of strong emotion. For this reason it is, too, that poetry may sometimes be improved by the travail of art, the less, however, in proportion to the inspiration of the poet. There are those, pre-eminently Shakspere, in whom the expression is nearly as inspired as the poetry.

Ingenium miserâ fortunatius arte
Credit, et excludit sanos Helicone Poëtas

In more than one passage Mr. Stedman approaches the truth about poetry, as when he says that “poets differ from other men in having profounder emotions and clearer perceptions”; and again when he writes: “Certain effects are suggested by nature; the poet discovers new combinations within the ground which these afford.” If for “effects” had been substituted “conceptions of the beautiful,” it would have been very near a sufficiently accurate description of the creative power of the poet; but he is hampered by his identification of poetry with its expression, and so, even here, substitutes “effects”—which really has no meaning in the context—for ideas. Poetry is the intuition of the Beautiful and True as expressed in nature and in man, not an analysis of its causes and effects. Not the least inspired of modern poets, Rossetti, has very exquisitely sung this theory of poetry in a sonnet on “St. Luke the Painter”:

“Scarcely at once she [Art] dared to rend the mist
Of devious symbols: but soon having wist
How sky-breadth and field-silence and this day
Are symbols also in some deeper way,
She looked through these to God, and was God’s priest.”

The fault of almost all the modern English poets is that they are too artistic. Certainly their poetry cannot be blamed as carmen quod non.

Multa dies et multa litura coercuit, atque
Perfectum decies non castigavit ad unguem.

But it makes too much display of labor. We admire its artistic skill, and that is its principal attraction. We feel that it is not nature which is hymning amidst so much art. The result of such obvious effort betrays the handicraft of the artisan rather than the inspiration of the poet. It is the Versailles fountains [Pg 218] instead of Niagara. It cannot be too much insisted on that poetry is not one of the fine arts. The greater number of modern English poets, however, treat it as such, as much as is possible with only the imagery of words for their material. They are disciples rather of Horace than of Democritus. There is plenty of labor and litura, and of verse perfectum decies ad unguem; of ingenium miserâ fortunatius arte but little. They surpass in mountain-labor the forgotten Lucilius, who in versu faciendo sæpe caput scabunt, vivos et rodunt ungues; but they have too little of “the sacred madness of the bards” for admission into Helicon. The reason is not far to seek. We notice a similar phenomenon in Greece when religious belief was forced to retire before scepticism and the prating sophists. To the sceptical temper of the age is undoubtedly owing the labor devoted to expression, which has done all it could to reduce poetry to an art. It has also occasioned a certain subjectivity, if we may use the word—a painful mental analysis—which is fatal to poetry.

Robert Browning is the greatest offender in this regard. So painfully intense, in truth, is his introspection that he pays far less attention to expression than his contemporaries. Cut off from the divine suggestiveness of nature by his hard materialism, he does nothing but think; and thinking poetically rather than syllogistically is an unamalgamation. Thought and expression are alike confused, rugged, and difficult. The reader, without even melody of rhythm to help him on, stumbles and gropes through intricate sentences, parentheses in parentheses, a startling image here and there; anon a whirring flight of poetry, or what resembles it; but the wings soon droop, and the poet is on the earth again, or lower than the earth—anywhere but soaring heavenwards. He has in him the making of a poet. Had he the Catholic faith, his imagination would carry him to great heights and keep him there. He might have soared nigh to Shakspere. His talent is dramatic—which is to say, his poetic gift is of the highest order; but nature has no divine suggestiveness to him, the hollow shell whispers no eternity in his dull ear; for him man has no end, events no purpose; and inasmuch as man has a definite end, and a sublime one, to which events definitely contribute, he is not able to create men and women, a destiny, or destinies, in any of which should there be a living verisimilitude. A plot in which men, women, and children talk and act as men, women, and children do talk and act is out of his reach. His highest effort is the dramatic poem, in which, however, occur at times passages of great dramatic power, showing what he could have done had he not been a heathen.

Mr. Tennyson has been the subject of various articles in The Catholic World; but so markedly does he contrast with Browning, and so noteworthy is the different bias given to the poetry of each by the materialistic spirit of the age, that we cannot afford to pass him by here in complete silence.

We may look in vain in the poetry of the laureate for passages of dramatic force such as now and then light up the creaking, groaning poetry of Browning; but he never grovels, as the latter does very often indeed.

Tennyson has strong sympathy with the one faith, and, as one may think, a kind of supernatural bias in [Pg 219] its favor, or he too, like the author of Paracelsus and Bishop Blosegram’s Apology, might have used his poetry as a fantastic costume for crude psychological problems and for the mind-darkness of doubt. The distinguishing characteristic of his poetry is the exquisitely artistic finish of its expression. Every line shows signs of careful toil. His genius has been without doubt hampered by it. He is more artist than poet; and, as though conscious of this, he seems to claim inspiration by an affectation of oracular obscurity. Yet not unseldom the refined simplicity of word and phrase, the grace of imagery, and all the artistic brilliance of choicest ornament express poetry, although never of a very high order. An elegiac poem such as In Memoriam, of nearly seven hundred quatrains, however beautiful in expression, has “unreal” on the face of it; and that is fatal to its pretensions as a poem. Yet are there indications here and there of true poetic feeling.

Painful is it, and not without shame, to have a difference with all the world of criticism. But if we have reason, our fellow-critics will not disdain us; and if we have not, we throw the blame on our theory of poetry. But there is a modern poet—Rossetti—whom, on the whole, we must place on a higher pedestal than Tennyson. With an equal simplicity of word and phrase, a refinement of expression not inferior, he has the art, if it be the result of art, to conceal his art. It is true he has all the artistic finish of Tennyson—so much so that we cannot but feel that it is an artist who is singing to us; but the artist disappears in the poet. We must disenchant ourselves of the thrall of his poetry before we can criticise the artistic perfectness of its expression. It is not only that, as Tennyson, he paints scenes of nature and human doings with consummate art; but, true poet that he is, he catches the very life of nature and it throbs within his verse. His soul echoes to the Beautiful and the True imaged in nature through all her modes and forms of color, scent, and sound; he reads their meaning; and when he reproduces them, as Mr. Stedman has it, “in different combinations,” they are as suggestive of those ideas of God as the very images of nature herself. Take, for example, the eleventh song in The House of Life—The Sea Limits:

“Consider the sea’s listless chime:
Time’s self it is made audible—
The murmur of the earth’s own shell.
Secret continuance sublime
Is the sea’s end: our sight may pass
No furlong further. Since time was
This sound hath told the lapse of time.
“No quiet, which is death’s—it hath
The mournfulness of ancient life
Enduring always at dull strife.
As the world’s heart of rest and wrath
Its painful pulse is in the sands
Lost utterly, the whole sky stands,
Gray and not known, along its path.
“Listen alone beside the sea,
Listen alone among the woods;
Those voices of twin solitudes
Shall have one sound alike to thee.
Hark where the murmurs of thronged men
Surge and sink back and surge again—
Still the one voice of wave and tree.
“Gather a shell from the strown beach
And listen at its lips: they sigh
The same desire and mystery,
The echo of the whole sea’s speech.
And all mankind is thus at heart
Not anything but what thou art:
And earth, sea, man, are all in each.”

This is poetry of the loftiest kind.

We cannot forbear quoting one more example of his “quality.” It is poetry which reaches near to Shakspere. “The poet of the world” himself might have thus grandly imaged lust—with more nervous terseness, may be; but the structure of dramatic numbers exacts that, and we do not yet know [Pg 220] that Mr. Rossetti is not equal to the drama.

“Like a toad within a stone
Seated while time crumbles on;
Which sits there since the earth was cursed
For man’s transgression at the first;
Which, living through all centuries,
Not once has seen the sun arise;
Whose life, to its cold circle charmed,
The earth’s whole summers have not warmed;
Which always, whitherso the stone
Be flung, sits there, deaf, blind, alone—
Ay, and shall not be driven out
Till that which shuts him round about
Break at the very Master’s stroke,
And the dust thereof vanish as smoke,
And the seed of man vanish as dust:
Even so within this world is lust.”

Thus much we have quoted in support of a criticism which will not be readily assented to by all. Our space does not admit of our quoting more. But we refer the reader to The Blessed Damozel as a gem not to be outshone; and, for dramatic power joined to the loftiest poetry, to A Last Confession.

Next after Rossetti, if at all after, comes William Morris. In the form and sound and bias of their numbers there is a close resemblance. The imaginings of the latter flow more profusely, perhaps because he does not tarry to spend so much care upon his art. Indeed, whilst the art of Rossetti is faultless in its way, a seldom blemish, like a minute blur in a diamond of the best water, may be detected in that of Morris, as the word “now” thrice in three successive quatrains, the word “golden” in five successive lines, in a scene, of almost tragic pathos, of Sir Galahad, a Christmas Mystery—the finest music he has smitten from the chords of no feeble instrument:

“Why not, O twisting knight, now he is dead?”

But amidst so much finish and faultlessness slight fallibilities like these are, as it were, a relief. The truth is, the artistic spirit in both, which (and no wonder) is all enamored of mediæval art—art in those ages of faith when she appeared in forms of beauty as sublime as faultless—is too forgetful of the living, breathing, moving present. That they should drink in inspirations of the Beautiful and the True from the forms in which that most poetic age embodied them, is well; but the art—the poetic expression—was natural to that epoch; it is not natural to this. If this is made too conspicuous, as we think it is in both these poets, there is a risk of mannerism; and mannerism is an artistic blemish. The attempt to entice men away from the turbid and muddy torrent of sounding hap-hazard words, which, setting in from Johnson and Gibbon, has swollen into an inundation of all but sheer nonsense from the babbling tributaries of the cheap press, to the nervous grace of simple words and simple sentences and the suggestive imagery of pure nature, is a service to letters as well as art, for which alone they and Tennyson, and all the poets of that school, deserve to be crowned. But aught by which so profoundly artistic a renaissance is needlessly dissociated from the present should have been carefully eschewed. In the matter of words we do not think that such as “japes,” “dromond,” “whatso,” the substitution of the ending “head” for “hood” in words for which universal custom has decreed the former, and so on, are a needed revival of the obsolete. We think, too, that simplicity of grammatical construction has been pushed to the verge of affectation. Still, it is so artistically done, is so beautiful in itself, and evidences such a return of leal homage from hideousness to the rightful Beautiful and the True, that it goes against us to complain.

It is time that the appointment [Pg 221] of a poet-laureate should cease in England. It is an anachronism. It is almost an insult to the world of letters. These are not times in which people are likely to accept the criticism of the British crown or of the crown’s advisers as decisive of a poet’s merits. So, too, there is such a dearth of independent, trustworthy criticism, it has become such a follow-the-leader kind of business, that if the crown merely caps the opinion of the contemporary public, there is every chance of the wrong man being put in the wrong place. At any rate the appointment should not be limited to one. There should be “power to add to their number.” We have no hesitation in assigning a higher niche to either Rossetti or Morris than to Tennyson. In two respects Morris surpasses Rossetti. We have as yet from the latter no sustained efforts such as The Earthly Paradise of the former, and the poetic fire appears to be kindled in him with less effort. We are quite sure that it is in no spirit of challenge or rivalry that he takes Tennyson’s very own theme in The Defence of Guenevere, King Arthur’s Tomb, Sir Galahad, a Christmas Mystery, and The Chapel in Lyoness; but it is an involuntary expression of conscious power. In all the Idyls of the King there is not a passage of such vivid poetry as the following in The Defence of Guenevere:

“‘All I have said is truth, by Christ’s dear tears.’
She would not speak another word, but stood
Turned sideways, listening like a man who hears
“His brother’s trumpet sounding through the wood
Of his foe’s lances. She leaned eagerly,
And gave a slight spring sometimes, as she could
“At last hear something really; joyfully
Her cheek grew crimson, as the headlong speed
Of the roan charger drew all men to see.
The knight who came was Launcelot at good need.”

The poetry of the Idyls, glittering and charming as it may be, is cold and pulseless by the side of King Arthur’s Tomb, a poem which rises to the utmost height of tragic pathos. The description of the remorse of Guenevere for merely ideas of disloyalty to her kingly husband which she had permitted herself to entertain, as well as of the satisfaction she made, is poetry in its noblest form, short of the drama. But we should never meet throughout all the poetry of Tennyson such blemishes as those we have already quoted, nor such as

“I tell myself a tale
That will not last beyond the whitewashed wall”

—an image which is beneath the dignity of poetry, whilst it rather dulls than quickens our idea of the fleeting nature of his tale; or

“… till the bell
Of her mouth on my cheek sent a delight
Through all my ways of being.…”

But for a poetry so lofty and so inspiring we can well afford to pay the penalty of a few blemishes.

We think that he shares with Tennyson, to a certain extent, the fault of obscurity—never, as Tennyson, in single passages, but in the design and end of entire pieces. We cannot suppose, for example, that he has not a definite end and purpose in The Earthly Paradise; but it is an immense defect that it must be very carefully studied in order even to conjecture one; that it does not readily occur, and still more that, study it as one may, he cannot feel quite sure he has conjectured rightly. And we feel this very serious defect the more keenly because in several of the separate portions of that poem we are afraid to trust ourselves implicitly to the poet; we dare not throw ourselves into his imagination, fearful whither it is to bear us. This is specially remarkable in Cupid [Pg 222] and Psyche. The subject startles us from the first. Gods and goddesses whose memory only remains as the long-passed-away images of falsehood instead of the Beautiful and the True, especially sensuous impersonations of impurity, are a subject which is calculated to scare rather than attract us. But we gain confidence as we read on. Had Byron sung of it, we should have luscious and sensuous imagery of base suggestiveness. Had it been the theme of a living poet, we should have had shameless obscenity. Our poet transfigures it into purity itself. Not an unchaste image shocks the soul. The whole subject is etherealized—we would say, if we felt quite sure of its purpose, even spiritualized. As we interpret it, the heathen myth, although used without stint, is, by the inimitable genius of the poet, stripped of all impure suggestiveness, and is even made a vehicle of exquisite beautifulness for conveying one of the most touching revelations of the great poem of humanity. Psyche (the soul) is represented to us undergoing by the power of divine love all sorrow, overcoming superhuman difficulties, succored always, when hope was well-nigh gone, by guardian angels, until,

“Led by the hand of Love, she took her way
Unto a vale beset with heavenly trees,
Where all the gathered gods and goddesses
Abode her coming; but when Psyche saw
The Father’s face, she, fainting with her awe,
Had fallen, but that Love’s arm held her up.
“Then brought the cup-bearer a golden cup
And gently set it in her slender hand,
And while in dread and wonder she did stand
The Father’s awful voice smote on her ear:
‘Drink now, O beautiful! and have no fear;
For with this draught shalt thou be born again,
And live for ever free from care and pain.’
“Then, pale as privet, took she heart to drink,
And therewithal most strange new thoughts did think,
And unknown feelings seized her, and there came
Sudden remembrance, vivid as a flame,
Of everything that she had done on earth,
Although it all seemed changed in weight and worth,
“Small things becoming great, and great things small;
And godlike pity touched her therewithal
For her old self, for sons of men that die;
And that sweet new-born immortality
Now with full love her rested spirit fed.
Then in that concourse did she lift her head,
And stood at last a very goddess there,
And all cried out at seeing her grown so fair.”

This is the inspiration of true poetry. Nothing at all approaching it can be found throughout the poetry of Tennyson.

In contrast to the soul led by divine love, the poet depicts her sisters devoured by envy and hatred, until, deceiving themselves the while with the dream that they too were objects of delight to divine love, the one having reached “the bare cliff’s rugged brow,” her end of life,

“She cried aloud, ‘O Love! receive me now,
Who am not all unworthy to be thine.’
And with that word her jewelled arms did shine
Outstretched beneath the moon, and with one breath
She sprang to meet the outstretched arms of Death,
The only god that waited for her there,
And in a gathered moment of despair
A hideous thing her trait’rous life did seem”;

and the other

“… rose, and, as she might,
Arrayed herself alone in that still night,
And so stole forth, and, making no delay,
Came to the rock a-nigh the dawn of day;
No warning there her sister’s spirit gave,
No doubt came nigh her the doomed soul to save,
But with a fever burning in her blood,
With glittering eyes and crimson cheeks, she stood
One moment on the brow, the while she cried,
‘Receive me, Love, chosen to be thy bride
From all the million women of the world!’
Then o’er the cliff her wicked limbs were hurled,
Nor has the language of the earth a name
For that surprise of terror and of shame.”

Can anything be grander than this imaged suicide of the evil human soul? And the glowing description of Psyche content to forget her father and her father’s house, and finding the fondest delight in sequestering herself alone with her divine Lover, whom she never sees, only whose voice she hears, is the most exquisite piece of poetic imagining [Pg 223] to be met with anywhere. But the poem deserves a criticism to itself.

We have here to pause. We had hoped to apply similar canons of criticism to others of our modern poets. We had selected Buchanan, Adelaide Procter, Matthew Arnold, Aubrey de Vere, and especially his father, whose mantle has descended on him. Sir Aubrey de Vere is the only one of the modern poets who has written a poem belonging to the highest order of poetry—Mary Tudor, a historical drama—which, although at a long distance from the dramas of “the poet of the world,” is the nearest to them that has been written since his day.

[76] This epithet, to our mind, is a blemish in a very beautiful creation. In the midst of lofty and suggestive natural imagery it abruptly sinks us to a vulgar matter-of-fact struggle of men at fisticuffs armed in the product of the blacksmith’s shop.


No word shall be impossible with God.

O blessed bells! ring joyfully to-day;
O incense clouds! float gladly up to heaven;
All glory, honor, power, and praise be given
To Him whom earth and sea and sky obey.
Behold, the conqueror doth assert his sway
Here where men once would fain have died unshriven,
Proclaimed the Holy Faith unholy leaven,
And drove its followers out as Satan’s prey.
But now, beneath a great cathedral’s dome,
The Sacred Heart doth beat, and men adore;
Our Lord hath found at last a glorious home,
In spite of unbelief that rages still.
“Thy kingdom come,” pray we as ne’er before,
Whose eyes have seen his power to work his will.

March, 1876.

[Pg 224]





This is very singular!” cried Sir Roger Lassels, master of the earl’s household, as they passed the edge of the wood. “I had made a bet with myself that we would follow the road on the bank of the river. At all events, the expedition will not be a very long one, since they have given me no order for provisions. It is true, however, that our poor young lord’s head is not as sound as it might be. Ah! well, in the time of the late duke things were not managed in this fashion. When they were going into the country, the duke would send for me eight days in advance. ‘Lassels,’ he would say—‘my dear Lassels,’ slapping me on the shoulder, ‘above all take great care that we shall want for nothing. Prepare everything in advance; because in matters of cooking, you know, I hate nothing so much as the uncertainty of the ‘fortune of the pot.’ He was right, very right, was the duke. The duchess used always to say on seeing our wagons passing by: ‘With Roger Lassels they carry everything with them.’”

In the meantime the first rays of the sun were not slow in dissipating the heavy mists of morning; the air became pure and exhilarating, and the northern pines, which grew in great profusion in that portion of the forest, imparted to the atmosphere a sweet, pungent odor. Myriads of dewdrops, more brilliant than diamonds, were suspended from the points of the leaves, which the slightest breath of air was sufficient to call down in a laughing shower. Creeping vines, thickly laden with blossoms, crossed and recrossed the road, almost hidden by the thick verdure with which it was overgrown. The birds saluted the return of day with a thousand joyous songs; the deer and young fawns bounded beneath the heavy shade of the forest. All nature wore an air of majestic beauty, calm and tranquil; the heart of man is alone found to remain always in a state of agitation and unrest.

“Oh! what a beautiful shot,” cried a voice from the crowd, on seeing a large grouse, its wings dripping with the dew, flying slowly above their heads.

“Take it, then!” cried another.

“For what purpose?” exclaimed Northumberland.

Sir Walsh, hearing the voice of Lord Percy, took advantage of that moment to urge his horse beside him, and declare the pain it caused him to see his friend so deeply depressed.

“What could you expect?” replied Percy. “All is ended with me. I have renounced everything. I am detached from everything earthly. A single moment has dissipated all the illusions of my short and miserable life—illusions in which so many others remain for ever enveloped. I believed that henceforth a word would be sufficient to answer my every thought; to suffer alone, [Pg 225] while awaiting death, which is only the beginning of life. Might I not thus believe myself to be almost shielded by evils, since I was determined to endure them all? One evil only I had not foreseen—that of being made the cause of suffering to others; of becoming, in the hands of an unjust and barbarous ruler, an instrument destined to destroy my friends! Ah! it is this that makes me rebel, that bows me to the earth and surpasses everything that I have yet been made to suffer. I go at this moment to arrest the Archbishop of York—to conduct him, doubtless, on the road to execution; and the day will come when those who loved him will exclaim, while they point the finger of scorn at my abode: ‘There lives the man who arrested the great Wolsey, the venerable friend who had reared and educated him in his own house!’”

“The great Wolsey!” replied Walsh, astonished.

“Yes, great,” said Northumberland. “When he will be no more, then will they forget his faults and appreciate his great qualities. He has known how to keep the lion chained, so that you have only seen him lap; but you will know him better if he ever gets the chance to use his teeth.”

“Who is this lion?” asked Walsh.

“I cannot name his name,” replied Northumberland angrily; “he is one whose claws tear the heart and destroy the innocent; one who is—But never mind!” And he abruptly ceased speaking.

After riding for some time through the forest, they at last emerged into a vast plain, in the midst of which appeared several villages; and very soon they found themselves near a church, whose ringing chimes announced the beginning of the divine Office.

“Ah!” said Sir Roger Lassels to himself, “there is to be Mass at the chapel of Sir William Harrington.”

At that moment the Earl of Northumberland turned to Sir Walsh. “If agreeable to you,” he said, “we will stop and hear Mass. We shall, at any rate, arrive soon enough at Cawood. You will have an opportunity, if you are curious, of visiting the monuments Sir William Harrington has had erected to the memory of his parents in this chapel, founded by him in order that prayers may every day be offered for the repose of their souls.”[77]

“I ask nothing better,” replied Sir Walsh.

They all entered the chapel, where Mass had already begun. A great number of the inhabitants of the surrounding country were assembled, and Lord Percy found himself close beside a woman, still very young, but whose features seemed to have been entirely changed by misery and suffering. Two small children knelt beside her and held to her coarse, black woollen gown.

“Mother, I am very hungry yet!” said the eldest in a voice as sweet as that of a young dove. “Brother has eaten up all the bread.” And he laid his head against her shoulder.

The young woman looked at the child, and her eyes filled with tears.

“My dear child,” she replied in a low, choking voice, “I have nothing more to give you; this evening, may be, I shall find something to buy bread with. If your father were living, we would be very happy; but, my son, a poor widow is cast [Pg 226] off by all the world, even though she is too feeble to work for bread for her children.”

Tears streamed from her eyes as she pressed the starving child close to her bosom.

Northumberland listened to the woman’s mournful complaint, observing especially that she did not murmur; she only wept. The expression of her pale and suffering face, as well as the feeling she had expressed of entire abandonment, filled his soul with pity.

“Such as these,” he said to himself—“such as these indeed have a right to complain of life and its miseries. I have ignored them. Shut up in my castle, I have even forgotten the orphan. Of no possible service to my kind, the earth supports me like an arid, sterile plant. Cruel selfishness! Is it, then, essential for all to smile around me before I can think of those who are crushed by poverty and misfortune? My tears, my sighs, my regrets, have all been in vain, have vanished into thin air; there remains for me nothing but duty to my neighbor, and that I have not done!”

Greatly agitated, he remained for an instant motionless, then, leaning over toward the woman, he requested her to leave the chapel for a moment.

Surprised that any one should think of speaking to her, she raised her eyes, all streaming with tears, to his face, while astonishment was painted on her emaciated features.

She arose, however, and followed him out, and they stopped a short distance from the chapel.

“You weep!” said Northumberland compassionately. “You are a widow, it seems. Are you not able to support your children?”

“Alas! sir,” replied the young woman without hesitation, “my husband died in a strange land while on a voyage which would have secured us a living; and I, a stranger in this country where he has left me, and where I have no relations, no friends, to assist me, have been brought down to extreme poverty. My work has scarcely sufficed to keep us alive, and to-day it has failed entirely.”

“Poor woman!” said Northumberland, putting some pieces of gold in her hand, “hereafter have no fears; I will take care of you and your young children.”

“My God!” cried the woman, falling on her knees—“bread, bread for my children! Are you an angel sent from heaven to save us? O sir! who will thank you for me? Ah! it shall be my poor children and your own! May they love and bless you as I do this moment.”

“Alas!” replied Lord Percy, “I have no children; I shall never have any! But you, poor mother, can at least rejoice in the happiness of possessing children to love and cherish you.”

In spite of the painful recollections awakened in his soul, when Percy returned to the chapel his heart was overflowing with a secret and sweet consolation; he felt that henceforth he would find brothers and friends in these unfortunates, whose father he would replace by taking upon himself their support.

When the Mass was ended, they all remounted their horses to continue their journey. They had scarcely started when they were joined by a troop of horsemen as numerous as it was brilliant, being composed of a great number of the most distinguished gentlemen in the province, who were proceeding to York to assist at the installation of their archbishop. At their head [Pg 227] rode old Robert Ughtred, chief of one of the oldest Yorkshire families, whose valor and merit had been admired by all his contemporaries. Six of his sons accompanied him. At his side rode Clifton, Lord d’Humanby, his friend and relative; Thomas Wentworth, of Nettlestead; Sir Arthur Ingram de Temple, Lord of Newsam; Walter Vavassour; John de Hothum, Lord of Cramwick and of Bierly; William Aytoun, Swillington; Meynill, Lord of Semer and Duerteton, together with a crowd of others. They recognized with astonishment the Earl of Northumberland, and eagerly approached to salute him.

This meeting, but little agreeable at first, became still less so when informed of the object of their journey. Percy, however, deemed it inexpedient to let this opportunity pass of creating for himself a sort of justification for the future. On being told, therefore, that they would spend two days at the little village of Cawood before going to salute the archbishop, he assured them he would be most happy to do the same and not separate from their company; but he was forced to go where he had been ordered, and that it was a mission on which he proceeded with the greatest reluctance and sorrow.

The travellers, astonished at his singular explanation, looked inquiringly at each other; but as they regarded the Earl of Northumberland with great deference because of his rank, his well-known worth, and the affection they cherished for the memory of his father, they held their peace, and continued their journey until within a very short distance of Cawood.

*  *  *  *  *  

Notwithstanding the resolution taken by Cardinal Wolsey that the ceremony of his installation should be attended by the least possible éclat, he could not prevent the entire nobility of the province from assembling to do him honor and to express on this solemn occasion their affection and joy. The little village of Cawood and the castles around it were crowded with visitors. The archbishop’s courtyard was constantly filled with carts laden with game, fruits, and all kinds of provisions, sent to him from every direction to assist in doing honor to the entertainment it was customary to give on these occasions.

Wolsey felt touched to the heart by these testimonials of friendship and esteem, in which there was no reason to suspect that self-interest mingled its destructive poison. Nevertheless, he felt more than ever depressed, and his spirit was overshadowed by dark and terrible presentiments, in spite of all his efforts to dispel them.

It was the hour for the repast taken by our fathers at noon, and Wolsey found himself seated opposite the salt-cellar which divided the table, and served also to designate the rank of the guests. In those remote times a common expression prevailed: “It takes place above or below the salt.”

The chaplains were seated around him, quietly discussing the foundation of the cathedral of York. Some of them stated that the Venerable Bede alleged in his writings that it was Edwin the Saxon, King of Northumberland, who, having embraced the Christian faith in the year 627, was the first to build a wooden church, which he afterwards rebuilt of stone. But the others contended, the monument having been pillaged and devastated by the Danes, then burned by the Normans, together with a portion [Pg 228] of the city, the title of founder could only be accorded to Archbishop Roger, who commenced the erection of the superb edifice in 1171, and to his successors, John of Romagna and William of Melton, who had the honor of completing it after forty years’ labor. They insisted that it would assuredly be just to include among them Robert Percy, Lord of Bolton, who had all the wood cut employed in the construction, and Robert Vavassour, who had furnished the stone.

The archbishop for a long while had finished eating. He had listened patiently to their lengthy discussions. When he saw at last they had nearly concluded, he arose to say grace; but at the moment they were standing with bowed heads awaiting the act of thanksgiving, the black velvet robe of Dr. Augustine, his physician, became entangled in the foot of the large silver cross that was carried before the archbishop. This cross was standing in one corner, resting against the tapestry, and the robe made it fall with its entire weight on the head of Dr. Bonner, who sat on the opposite side of the table. He uttered a piercing cry.

They all rushed toward him.

“What is the matter with him?” demanded the archbishop, who had seen nothing of the accident.

“The cross,” explained Cavendish, his master of the horse—“the cross, which was leaning against the wall, has fallen in Dr. Bonner’s face.”

“In his face! Is he bleeding?” cried Wolsey.

“Yes,” replied several of those who surrounded the wounded man, “but it is nothing serious; the skin only is broken.”

“Ah!” said Wolsey, and he stood motionless; his head sank on his breast, as though he had suddenly fallen into a profound reverie.

“Woe is me!” he at length exclaimed, “woe is me!” And the tears coursed down his cheeks. He quickly wiped them away and retired immediately to his bedroom, where no one dared follow him without being summoned.

The attendants of the cardinal, however, were extremely apprehensive, having remarked the sudden change in his manner and the extreme pallor which had overspread his countenance. Dr. Bonner especially earnestly insisted that Cavendish should go to him at once.

He finally resolved to do so. On entering the apartment he found the archbishop on his knees, and remarked that the floor of his chamber was wet with tears.

Wolsey made a sign for him to retire; but the faithful servitor stood near the door and hesitated to obey him. The cardinal then called him to assist him in rising to his feet, feeling, he said, extremely feeble.

“Alas! my dear lord,” said Cavendish, “what is it that so deeply grieves you? and why will you withdraw from your trusty servitors, if it is in their power to assist you?”

“I thank you, Cavendish,” replied the cardinal, inclining his head, “but listen to me. My poor friend, I am going to die very soon—I have a presentiment of it; and God, in his mercy, often sends us these warnings, in order that we may not be surprised by death. The cross of York has fallen: it represents myself.”

“Why think you so?” asked Cavendish earnestly. “This cross fell because it was struck; nothing could have been more natural than such an accident.”

“No! no!” exclaimed Wolsey, [Pg 229] “it was not at all natural, but it is only too true. York is overthrown! Augustine is my accuser; he makes my own blood flow in making Bonner bleed, the master of my faculties and spiritual jurisdiction. My destiny is accomplished. My doom is sealed. Cavendish, if you doubt it, you will soon be convinced. My shadow, the sound of my name alone, is sufficient to alarm them; already I am no more, and yet this remnant of life makes them tremble, even in the midst of their triumphs. It is necessary for their peace that my last breath be extinguished; they have resolved and they will accomplish it!”

“No! no!” cried Cavendish, deeply moved. “The king loves you; he will defend you! All love you,” he continued warmly. “See with what eagerness they hasten hither to give you the most earnest assurances of their devotion.”

“That is true,” replied Wolsey, who was becoming more calm, and was greatly relieved by the presence of Cavendish. “It is the only feeling of joy I have experienced in a long time; but I am grieved not to have received any token of remembrance from the young Earl of Northumberland. His intellect, goodness, and his many amiable qualities have always made me regard him with the greatest esteem and affection. They say he loves solitude, and I am well assured that he receives no visitors; but I very much fear he cherishes bitter recollections of the court and Anne Boleyn. However, he should not take it ill that I have helped to prevent him from marrying such a woman!”

Whilst Wolsey was speaking a great noise was heard in the courtyard. Cavendish, at the cardinal’s request, immediately went out to ascertain the cause. He had advanced but a few steps when he encountered another equerry, coming in all haste to announce the arrival of the Earl of Northumberland.

Overjoyed at hearing the name, Cavendish at once returned to inform the archbishop.

“Here is Lord Percy himself, who also comes to congratulate your grace!” he exclaimed the instant he came in sight of Wolsey.

“The dear child!” cried the cardinal, his heart overflowing with a gush of tenderness. “Cavendish, you are not mistaken. Eh? Ah! I shall never forget him! Let us go and receive him, Cavendish.”

He advanced with a tottering step, and more rapidly than he was able, toward the staircase which Northumberland had just ascended. On seeing the archbishop approaching to meet him Lord Percy felt his heart suddenly throb with a sensation of inexpressible wretchedness.

“He comes to meet me!” he exclaimed.

He found him so much changed, so old and worn, that without his vestments he would scarcely have recognized him.

“He also has found the cup of life embittered!” said Northumberland. “Sorrow carves deep furrows on the brow, and with her haggard finger impresses every feature.”

He turned anxiously to look for Walsh, but found he was no longer near him. In the meantime Wolsey advanced rapidly toward him, and, taking him in his arms, pressed him closely to his heart.

“You are most welcome, my dear lord! How happy I am to see you!” he exclaimed. “But why have I not been informed of your coming? I should, at least, have [Pg 230] been prepared to give you a better reception; for you must know that what formerly required but a moment to effect I am now scarcely able to execute at all. But you will, I hope, appreciate my good intentions; and if I am ever so happy as to be re-established in my fortune, I shall then be able to express more worthily the joy I feel at receiving you in my house.”

“I thank your lordship,” answered Northumberland.

But he was unable to utter another word. However, he embraced Wolsey, though with great excitement of manner, his hands trembling visibly in those of the archbishop.

“Let us go,” continued Wolsey glancing at the followers of Lord Percy. “I am glad to see you have remembered the advice I gave you in your youth, to love and take care of all your father’s old domestics; that is why, I suppose, you have brought so many of them with you.”

“Yes, I prefer them,” replied Northumberland. And Wolsey went and took them each by the hand, praising their fidelity and recommending them to love their young master as he himself had always done.

The more Wolsey exerted himself to assure Northumberland of the gratification he experienced at his coming, the less strength Percy felt to thank him. However, the cardinal begged to be allowed to accompany him to his bed-chamber, where they might be alone, except Cavendish, who remained near the door, as his duty required him.

For a moment they sat in silence. Wolsey regarded Lord Percy with astonishment on observing the latter change color and become every instant more and more embarrassed. At length, arousing himself suddenly to a determined degree of resolution, he approached, and, laying his hand gently on the arm of the archbishop, said in a voice tremulous with emotion: “My lord, I arrest you on the charge of high treason!”

Wolsey sat so completely stupefied that he was incapable of uttering a word; they gazed at each other in mournful silence.

“Who has induced you to do this?” the cardinal at length exclaimed, “and by what authority do you it?”

“My lord,” replied Northumberland coldly, “I have a commission that authorizes me; or that compels me, rather,” he continued in a low voice.

“Where is this commission? Let me see it?”

“No, my lord, I cannot.”

“Then,” cried Wolsey, “I will not submit to your authority.”

As he said this, Sir Walsh pushed Dr. Augustine, whom he had arrested, rudely into the apartment. “Go in there, traitor,” he cried; but perceiving the cardinal, he fell on his knees before him, and, removing his cap, bowed almost to the floor.

Wolsey turned pale on seeing Walsh; he at once recognized him as being an officer of the king’s palace, and knew he would not be there without an express order.

“Sir,” he exclaimed, “rise, I implore you! My Lord of Northumberland comes to arrest me! If he has a commission, and you are with him for that purpose, you will be pleased to let me see it.”

“My lord,” answered Walsh, “if it please your grace, it is true that I have one; but we cannot permit you to see it. They have added to the paper on which it is written some instructions that we are bound not to make known.”

[Pg 231] “Then,” cried Wolsey, melting into tears, “all is over with me! They deprive me even of the means of defending myself, and my cruel enemies behold all their schemes accomplished. It is well, sir,” continued the archbishop, turning his back on the Earl of Northumberland; “I consent to surrender myself to you, but not to my Lord of Northumberland, who comes here only to enjoy my discomfiture. As to you, I know you; your name is Walsh, and you are one of the officers of the king, my master. Therefore I do not demand your commission; his will is sufficient. I am perfectly aware that the greatest peer in the realm is liable to be arrested by the lowest subject, if such be his majesty’s good pleasure. This is why I shall obey you without delay. Begin, then, to put your orders into execution. If I had known them, I would have assisted you myself; but, at least, I submit.”

Saying this, the archbishop seated himself in silence; but the tears continued to flow rapidly down his cheeks.

Meanwhile, Lord Percy felt so deeply wounded by the suspicion manifested by the archbishop, and his believing him to be actuated by a principle of low revenge and cruelty in coming to arrest him, that he was about to withdraw without offering him a solitary word of consolation, as he had intended; but a sudden feeling of compassion induced him to return and take a seat by his side.

Wolsey was deeply moved by this.

“My lord,” he exclaimed, “I swear before God I am innocent of all the crimes my enemies impute to me, beyond doubt, for the purpose of securing my death! I have committed many errors, I know; but it has been against God and against myself that I have committed them, and not against my king, whom I have always served with an inviolable fidelity. I have possessed great riches; but I employed them in founding great and useful establishments. I have held correspondence with foreign princes, and have acquired great influence in their councils, but I have always used it in the interests of my king and the state. And now he has abandoned me to the malice of my enemies, and does not hesitate an instant to believe all the calumnies they have heaped upon my head! No, I shall indulge in vain illusions no longer. I go now to my death; and it is my king who strikes the fatal blow! Ah!” continued Wolsey, transported by his feelings, “would I might appear before him, that I might justify myself in the face of heaven and earth! Then I should fear no man living under the sun. But, no; it will not be thus. I shall die without vindication, in the depths of some obscure prison, some noisome dungeon! Not a friend has remained faithful; not a single voice has been raised in my defence!”

“Friendship,” replied Northumberland, “is but a vain word, a beautiful sound that dissolves in the air, a shifting sand requiring the one who reposes on it always to remain on his guard, to beware; for one-half of the world is too frivolous and the other half too selfish for any confidence ever to be placed in them.”

“Therefore you yourself feel no compassion for me?” said Wolsey, looking at him.

“You are unjust!” replied Lord Percy. “God is my judge how deeply I have suffered in being [Pg 232] forced before you in my present capacity. But tell me, how am I to arrest the destroying tempest or turn aside the falling thunderbolt? Have they not crushed me also?”

*  *  *  *  *  

After two long days had passed, during which the archbishop was entirely deprived of all communication with those around him, Northumberland came to inform him that everything was arranged for the journey and it was time to depart.

“Alas! where are you going to take me?” cried Wolsey, to whom this departure seemed the first step toward condemnation and death.

In that fatal moment he felt an attachment for every stone and every spot connected with the abode which, until this time, he had regarded as the most gloomy place of exile.

“Not to be able to die in peace!” he mournfully exclaimed. “Where are you going to take me, Lord Percy?”

“I cannot accompany you,” sadly replied Northumberland, who had endeavored during the preceding days to make him regard his condition with less terror; “but I know that Sir Walsh has orders to deliver you at Sheffield Park, and place you in the hands of my father-in-law, the Earl of Shrewsbury; and you need suffer no anxiety, nor doubt but that he will gladly exert himself to have you well treated as far as depends on him. To-night you will sleep at Pomfret.”

“At the castle?” demanded Wolsey.

“No, no,” replied Lord Percy: “at the abbey. I am certain of it. I swear it! I have myself sent the order for you to be received there. O my father!” continued Percy, who felt more and more deeply grieved, “I must now leave you.” (And he fell on his knees before the archbishop.) “May God be with you! But first give me your blessing. I indeed have need of it! I have never forgotten the care you bestowed on me in my childhood.”

“My dear son,” said the archbishop, “may the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel and of Jacob, for ever bless you! We shall meet no more but in him.”

As the archbishop extended his hands and laid them on the head of Percy, and while he bent affectionately over him, Walsh entered, followed by a number of armed men; and the sound of smothered sighs and stifled cries was heard.

“What is that?” exclaimed Wolsey in alarm.

“Nothing, my lord,” answered Walsh in an imperious tone. “As you could only take four of your men with you, I feared the others would make too much disturbance at your departure; consequently, I had them shut up in the chapel.”

“Sir,” cried Wolsey indignantly, “I will not leave this place until I have seen and bade farewell to all my servants. You cannot have been authorized to treat me with such a degree of cruelty. My Lord Northumberland, since you have seized for the king’s benefit the little money I possessed, and have left me nothing to give them, at least permit me to thank them for their services and mingle my tears with theirs.”

“We thought it would be painful for you to witness their grief,” replied Northumberland, “and wished to spare you the infliction. But they shall be summoned.”

As soon as the door of the chapel was opened they gathered in a crowd around Wolsey, kissing his hands and his vestments.

[Pg 233] “My children,” he said to them, “weep not; we shall meet again very soon, I hope. My Lord Northumberland, I recommend them to you! You will take care of them—I feel assured of it.”

He then hastened to depart, feeling his courage ready to desert him. At every step he took his anguish redoubled; and when he reached the great courtyard, he turned his eyes for a moment toward the high, black walls of the castle he was leaving, then glanced at the mule assigned him to ride. Cavendish followed with his almoner and two of his valets. But a new grief awaited Wolsey, already overwhelmed with sorrow. Scarcely had they opened the outer gate of the castle, when they perceived without a crowd of gentlemen of the province, whom Walsh had summoned, in the king’s name, to come and secure the arrest of the archbishop; because the whole country was in a state of commotion, and more than three thousand men had gathered along the route, in the plain, and as far as the moats of the castle, around which they assembled as soon as they were informed of his arrest. They were powerless to oppose his departure, but followed him for several miles, shouting incessantly: “God save his grace, and perish his enemies who have forced him from us!” They regarded the noblemen who surrounded him with wrathful scowls, without reflecting that, while feeling it necessary to obey the king, the lords were as deeply disaffected as themselves, and in their turn accused the Earl of Northumberland of having seconded Walsh in this enterprise.

During the journey they unceasingly manifested the greatest regard for the archbishop, and only left him after seeing him committed into the hands of the Earl of Shrewsbury, whose castle was situated near the confines of Yorkshire, a short distance from the town of Doncaster.


[77] The son has now ceased to invoke in this once hallowed spot the divine mercy on the souls of his fathers; the bells no more announce the vows nor the regrets of the heart; the august Sacrifice is never offered up but in the gloomy silence imposed by persecution.



My own Sennuccio, though bereft of thee,
Weeping and lonely, me this thought sustains:
That from this breathing tomb, these fleshly chains,
Thy soaring spirit nobly set thee free.
Now the twin poles by thee discovered are,
The wheeling lights, and all the starry ways:
Thou seest our seeing falter from afar;
So thy delight the pain of loss allays.
But I beseech thee in that far third sphere
Greet Franceshino and the bard divine,
Cino, Guitton, and all thy comrades there;
And tell my Love, tell her what tears are mine,
And what dark moods of wilder sorrow breeds
The thought of her sweet face and saintly deeds.

[Pg 234]


“Oh! how comely it is, and how reviving
To the spirits of just men long oppressed,
When God into the hands of their deliverer
Puts invincible might
To quell the mighty of the earth, th’ oppressor,
The brute and boist’rous force of violent men,
Hardy and industrious to support
Tyrannic power, but raging to pursue
The righteous and all such as honor Truth.”
Samson Agonistes.

The Turks, from their first appearance upon European soil, have been a danger to the peace and civilization of Christendom. When their fierce hordes crossed the Bosporus, bearing aloft the standard of the crescent, it was a boast among them that the sign was but a temporary emblem of their power, and that when she had waxed to the fulness of her orb—donec Lunæ totus impleatur orbis, as was insolently said to an ambassador of the West—her silvery sheen would change to the golden glory of the sun, and blaze from an eastern sky over prostrate and Mohammedan Europe.

With one foot upon Constantinople and the other on Rome,[78] the colossus of Islam would have projected an awful shadow over the Christian world. Efforts tremendous and long sustained were made to lift itself up; but this it could never do, and it has fallen and is broken, but in its fall covers fair provinces and crushes a multitude of unfortunate Christians. If the Turks have ceased to be a stirring menace to the nations, we must ascribe the curbing of their power to divine Providence, which brought forward at critical times a number of men mighty by the sword or through the word—Huniades, Matthias Corvinus, Ladislas of Hungary, St. John Capistran, Cardinal Julian Cesarini, Scanderbeg, St. Pius V., Don John of Austria, Mark Anthony Colonna, Sobieski, and others—who fought their advance towards the Adriatic and along the Danube. As this great Ottoman inundation rose higher and higher, until it seemed as though the work of the church for a thousand years would be swept away in fewer days, God spoke: “I set my bounds around it, and made it bars and doors; and I said: Hitherto thou shalt come, and shalt go no further: and here thou shalt break thy swelling waves.” (Job xxxviii.)

In the fifteenth century several independent princelings, called despots by the Greeks, were in possession of the rich and populous district of Albania, which stretches along the coast of the Adriatic and Mediterranean Seas, and corresponds geographically to the Epirus of the ancients. One of the noblest of these chiefs was John Castriot, who came of an ancient family in Lower Macedonia. His wife, Woïzava, presented him with nine children, and among them that George, born in 1404, who was destined to become the defender of his persecuted race, the Christian Gideon, as he was hailed by Pope Paul II., and [Pg 235] the hero of his native country against the Turks. Several omens are reported to have accompanied his birth and signified his future greatness. Without denying that these may have been something more than mere accidents or freaks of the imagination, we only certify that as the child grew up he developed a strength of character and an aptitude for arms which his after-successes amply justified and the inherent nobility of his parents had prepared.

Fortes creantur fortibus et bonis;
… nec imbellem feroces
Progenerant aquilæ cotlumbam.[79]

Sultan Mohammed I. had invaded Albania in 1413, and obliged John Castriot to deliver up his four young sons to him as hostages. He immediately, and against the solemn promise made to their father, caused them to be circumcised and educated in the Mussulman religion. George, our hero, was the youngest. He was endowed with a prodigious memory, and soon learned to speak the Greek, Turkish, Arab, Illyrian, and Italian languages. A handsome person, unusual bodily strength, and vigorous mental qualities won for him the warm affection of the next sovereign, Amurath II., who changed George’s name to Scanderbegi.e., Beg or Lord Alexander—and at the early age of eighteen gave him the rank of sangiac and command of five thousand horsemen on the confines of Anatolia. His personal prowess and military skill in Asia Minor brought him into considerable notice, and he was given a command in the European provinces of the empire. This was a difficult position to be placed in; for he had not forgotten that he was born a Christian and had been impressed into his present service. He felt a great dislike to turn his arms against co-religionists and countrymen. His brothers were dead, and now his father died in 1432. At this juncture the sultan very unjustly took possession of his hereditary dominion, and, sending his mother and sister Mamisa into exile, put a pasha over the country. Scanderbeg did not immediately pronounce himself against this act of treacherous spoliation, although several Albanian noblemen, proud of his renown and convinced that he was not at heart attached to his new creed, corresponded with him secretly, urging him to come and put himself at the head of the Christian population to free the country from the infidel. The Albanians have always been distinguished for their spirit of nationality, and, like the inhabitants of all mountainous regions are remarkable for independence and love of home.

The favorable moment to declare himself had not arrived but his plans were maturing. At last, after a great battle lost by the Turks at Morava on the 10th of November, 1443, he concerted with his nephew Hamza and a few trusty friends of Christian origin, forced, like himself, to serve the foreign tyrant, and by a skilful ruse and very sudden irruption at the head of six hundred Albanians, who hastened to join him as soon as his defection was known, he obtained possession of Croia, the capital of his paternal dominions. The Turkish garrison, not so much by his orders as from an uncontrollable impulse of outraged feelings in the populace, was put to the sword. Scanderbeg was [Pg 236] just twenty-nine years old. He publicly renounced Mohammedanism and renewed his profession of the Catholic faith. The chiefs of Albania were then invited to meet him. When they came together at Croia, they called him their deliverer, unanimously proclaimed him Prince of Epirus, and soon collected an army of about twelve thousand men. While the troops were being raised, the civil service and revenues of the state were reorganized. Besides a large immediate contribution from his own countrymen, he obtained two hundred thousand ducats from his neighbors, the Venetians, and had a large source of income in the salt-mines near Durazzo.

Petralba was next taken, and this success brought new accessions of men and means to prosecute the war. Within a month after the first blow had been struck every fortress except one was captured, and every Turk either killed, a prisoner, or in flight. Sfetigrad could not be surprised, and, leaving a force of three thousand men to watch it and cut off supplies, Scanderbeg retired with the rest of the army to Croia for the winter, and occupied himself in making an alliance with the republic of Venice, which held several towns along the coast of Dalmatia, and in preparing for the inevitable struggle the sultan would make to recover the country. Amurath did not dissemble his anger at the revolt of one whom he had treated, he said, with so much kindness and taught the use of the arms he was now turning against him. Being engaged at the time against the Hungarians, he put off revenge until the spring, thinking that he could at any moment easily subdue the undisciplined bands of Albania; but when a truce was concluded and spring opened with fair weather for an imposing campaign, he sent Ali Pasha in command of forty thousand men, his orders being to crush the insurrection at a single blow. Scanderbeg had by this time reduced Sfetigrad and strongly fortified and garrisoned the more important towns. He now took the field with only fifteen thousand troops, knowing that in such a country as the one he was to defend a very large force would be difficult to handle and impossible to feed. His tactics were generally those of partisan warfare. His little army was composed partly of cavalry from the northern, and partly of a hardy and active infantry from the southern section of the country. His object was to wear out the enemy by a stout resistance at every point, and harass the retreats which the very vastness of the Turkish armies would necessitate by the impossibility, if for no other reason, of providing for so many mouths. Only occasional raids were made in force upon the fertile plains of Thessaly and Macedonia to capture horses, cattle, sheep, and to gather in grain to be stored in the fortified towns. During the war of Albanian independence, which lasted a quarter of a century, the Turks always, except towards the end, repeated the fatal blunder of sending immense armies, consisting in some cases of two hundred thousand men, into a country where they could be maintained only for a single and brief campaign, and to fight a general who was sure, from his bravery, skill, and thorough knowledge of every torrent, mountain pass, road, and valley, to turn defeat into overwhelming disaster. It was thus that the army of Ali Pasha was drawn by wily manœuvres into a narrow district only [Pg 237] ninety miles from Croia and opening into the very heart of Albania. The upper end was very contracted, and here Scanderbeg drew up his main body of troops, to the number of ten thousand, which were posted in three divisions en échelon. As soon as the enemy was well engaged in the valley three thousand horsemen, who had been watching their slow advance, came down at its lower end, which had been left quite unguarded, while fifteen hundred irregular infantry lay in ambush on either side amidst the woody acclivities. As soon as the Turks came up to the Albanians they halted, tried to deploy, but could not, repeatedly charged and swept up in heavy columns against the small but solid masses who evenly filled the gap and made it impossible to flank them. The Turks after a while began to waver and fall into still greater disorder. Ali Pasha had blundered.

The Albanians now took the offensive. The signal-clarions sounded, and, while the Turks were attacked in front, the cavalry from the lower end of the valley charged them in the rear, and the infantry that lay in ambush came rushing down on both sides with terrific cries and sword in hand to complete their discomfiture. It was now a slaughter; and although the battle lasted only four hours altogether, over twenty thousand infidels were killed or wounded. Few prisoners—not more than two thousand—were taken. The rest of the enemy, under cover of darkness and from sheer exhaustion on the part of the victors, escaped through the now open passage at the lower end of the valley.

When Scanderbeg had entered Croia in triumph, he announced the victory by letters to Pope Eugenius IV. and several Christian princes; and while some of the twenty-five captured battle-flags were distributed among the confederate chiefs, others were suspended in the principal church of the capital.

Amurath was so alarmed by this defeat—not, perhaps, so much from what he had to fear on the side of the immediate victors, but from the encouraging effects it might have in leaguing the Christian princes against him—that he wrote a letter from Adrianople, offering Scanderbeg peace on certain conditions. But when these were discussed in the council at Croia, they were declared unjust and humiliating, and Scanderbeg was advised to reject every sort of condition and insist on the complete independence of Albania. The answer to this letter announced his intention of holding out to the last extremity, and began with these valiant words: “From our camp near Croia, August 12, 1445. George Castriot, surnamed Scanderbeg, soldier of Jesus Christ and Prince of the Epirotes, to Othman, Prince of the Turks, greeting.” A second army under Fizour, and a third and larger one under Mustapha, were successively defeated, but not without considerable loss in men and damage to the country. During the inroads of these fierce barbarians into Albania they perpetrated the most horrible massacres without regard to age or sex, and heaped the most brutal outrages upon the inhabitants. The handsomest girls were seized for the seraglios of the sultan and his wealthy minions, the prettiest boys were kept to minister to their unnatural lusts, while youths of a maturer age or less attractive appearance were circumcised, educated in the Mohammedan religion, and drafted [Pg 238] into the Janizaries. Others who were not butchered on the smoking ruins of their homes were driven in chains to the slave markets, while many were made eunuchs and set to guard the harems of their masters in Asia Minor.

Mustapha Pasha, although he had been defeated, was entrusted with another army, but with a similar result, and even worse; for he himself was taken prisoner. Twenty-five thousand golden ducats were paid for his ransom. Scanderbeg now made a razzia on a large scale into Macedonia and returned laden with an immense booty of every description. His fame was so solidly established by these victories that the republic of Venice sent a magnificent embassy to compliment him and convey to him the news of his appointment as governor-general of all the Italian possessions along the Adriatic and in the interior, where the important cities of Scutari and Alessio were situated. His name was enrolled in the Golden Book at the head of the list of Venetian nobles.

The revolt of the Janizaries having obliged Amurath to leave his luxurious retreat at Magnesia and once more resume the management of public affairs, he determined to conduct in person the war against Scanderbeg. He soon appeared at the head of a formidable army before Sfetigrad, which surrendered after a gallant resistance. During the siege the Turks lost in one of the assaults six thousand men. Satisfied, apparently, with this single victory, the slothful sultan retired into Macedonia after leaving a strong garrison in the captured fortress. Scanderbeg hovered on his flanks and rear, making many prisoners and taking a large amount of stores and war material; then, after seeing him well out of the country, he turned towards Sfetigrad and sat down before it on September 20, 1445, with eighteen thousand men, among whom were adventurers from almost every country in Europe, Germans, French, and Italians being the most numerous. For want of artillery no regular siege could be conducted, and Scanderbeg was repulsed with heavy loss in his attacks on the place. Hearing that Amurath was preparing to return, he hastily concentrated his available troops around Croia, which was provisioned for a long resistance. Some large, unwieldy pieces of cannon, directed by Frenchmen, added to the strength of the capital. The sultan was slow in his movements, and did not appear as soon as was expected. In the meanwhile Scanderbeg was encouraged by receiving congratulatory letters from Pope Nicholas V., which were brought to him by two Franciscans, one of whom was a bishop. The winter of 1449-50 had been passed by him in the saddle inspecting every fortress, going into every part of his dominions to encourage the people and hasten the levy of troops. The coming tempest was naturally expected to assail the capital; and to make its neighborhood a howling wilderness, the whole country around Croia was ravaged by his order, for a distance of from fifteen to eighteen miles, so completely that not a house or a bridge was left standing, and not a road passable; every growing and living thing was either destroyed or removed. The enemy could find no shelter there.

On April 15, 1450, the sultan appeared before the city with an army of one hundred and sixty thousand fighting men and a host of camp-followers. Uranocontes commanded inside and repelled numerous assaults, while Scanderbeg, with [Pg 239] a force of five thousand picked cavalry, hovered about the outskirts of the enemy, inflicting considerable loss in men and stores, but above all annoying the long line of communications by which the army drew its daily supplies. Amurath finally tired of the siege, and, being convinced that the mountains and valleys of Epirus were not worth his time, his trouble, or his money while richer conquests awaited him, charged a certain Yousouf to leave the camp and seek Scanderbeg, to try and induce him to accept the single condition of an annual tribute of only ten thousand ducats. After a two days’ search he was found, but instantly rejected even this almost nominal condition attached to the independence of his country. Knowing that he could not take Croia by assault or maintain his army any longer in such a country, the sultan slowly retreated and died soon afterwards at Adrianople, on February 5, 1451. He was succeeded by his son, Mohammed II., who renewed his father’s offer, but with no better result.

The news of Amurath’s ill-success before Croia made a great noise in Italy, and even beyond. The kings of Hungary and Aragon, and Philip, Duke of Burgundy, sent complimentary missions to the Albanian hero, and presents of money and provisions. King Alphonsus of Aragon, who was also King of Sicily and Naples, sent him four hundred thousand bushels of grain. Among other rich presents that he received from this magnificent monarch was a helmet or casque of the finest Spanish steel, lined on the inside with Cordovan leather and soft silk, and covered on the outside with the purest gold artistically chased and embossed by an Italian jeweller and studded with precious stones. Scanderbeg was very proud of this really regal headgear, and ranked it along with his famous sword, a veritable Excalibur, the blade of which was of perfect Damascus workmanship, and the handle a blaze of Oriental gems set with exquisite skill by a Persian lapidary. This weapon was a present from Amurath on giving him his first command. With it he killed at least two thousand Turks in his war of independence, and it was looked upon by his enemies with a species of superstitious awe. During one of the informal truces between the Turks and Christians Sultan Mohammed begged to see the blade of which he had heard so much. It was sent to him and tried by the best swordsmen of his army, but not one of them could perform the feats that its owner had been seen to do with it; and when it was returned, the sultan told him this and asked the reason. “I sent your highness the sword,” said Scanderbeg, “but not the limb that wields it!” When he went into battle, it was always with his right arm bare and his shoulder perfectly free. He was so tall and strong that a few years later, when he went over to Italy to assist King Ferdinand, and had occasion to meet the commander of the enemy’s troops—the famous condottiére Count Piccinino, whose stature, it is true, was small, but still that of a grown person—he took him by the belt with one hand, and, slowly raising him up, impressed a courtly kiss upon the forehead and as gently set him down again. He looked so brave and handsome that even his foes applauded.

“His haughtie helmet, horrid all with gold,
Both glorious brightnesse and great terrour bredd:
For all the crest a dragon did enfold
With greedie pawes, and over all did spredd
His golden winges; his dreadfull hideous hedd,
[Pg 240]
Close couchèd on the bever, seemed to throw
From flaming mouth bright sparcles fiery redd,
That suddeine horrour to faint hartes did show;
And scaly tayle was stretcht adowne his back full low.”

In May, 1451, Scanderbeg married the Princess Donica, daughter of Arrianites Thopia, one of the most influential lords of Albania, and connected on his mother’s side with the imperial family of the Comneni. He received at this time from King Alphonsus five hundred arquebusiers, the same number of expert crossbow-men, and a few pieces of artillery with their cannoniers. We have only space to mention the events of the next years: how successive armies of Turks were defeated; how Scanderbeg himself was repulsed with a loss of five thousand men in an attack on Belgrade; and how, during a lull in the war, he was invited over to Italy by Pope Pius II. to the assistance of King Ferdinand, son of his old friend Alphonsus, who was hard pressed by his rival, John of Anjou. (Raynald. Annales Eccl. ad an. 1460, num. lx.) He contributed greatly to the victory won at Troja on Aug. 18, 1462, and for his services was created Duke of San Pietro, in the kingdom of Naples. He remained in Italy a little over a year. Recalled to Albania by the appearance of the Turks, he repulsed Sultan Mohammed from Croia; but his own losses and the new plans of the enemy, which consisted in sending only small armies under experienced generals—one of whom, Balaban Badera, was an Albanian renegade—with orders to avoid battle if possible, but to remain in the country at all hazards, made him feel that his cause was failing, and that, unless relieved from the west, he must sooner or later succumb. In this emergency he went to Rome and appealed to the pope and cardinals to preach a new crusade. The example of the broken-hearted Pius II. showed how fruitless it would have been for them to do so. Paul, indeed, wrote to all the Christian princes, but he got nothing but fair words in return. The great schism had lamentably diminished the prestige of the Papacy, and a multitude of heretics more or less openly preluded that Reformation which would soon divide Christendom itself into hostile camps. The pope gave him three thousand golden florins and conferred upon him the insignia of the cap and sword which is annually blessed by the pontiff on the vigil of Christmas for presentation to the prince who has deserved best of the church. Scanderbeg lodged while in Rome in a house which, although rebuilt in 1843, still retains over the door his portrait in fresco and the laudatory inscription set up soon after his death. The street and an adjoining little piazza under the Quirinal gardens have long perpetuated his name as the Via di Scanderbeg. He left Rome in disappointment and sorrow.

“Ah! what though no succor advances,
Nor Christendom’s chivalrous lances
Are stretched in our aid? Be the combat our own!
And we’ll perish or conquer more proudly alone;
For we’ve sworn by our country’s assaulters,
By the virgins they’ve dragged from our altars,
By our massacred patriots, our children in chains,
By our heroes of old, and their blood in our veins,
That, living, we shall be victorious,
Or that, dying, our deaths shall be glorious.”

On his way back to Albania he was allowed to recruit in the Venetian territories a force of thirteen thousand men, which he commanded in person. His former little army in the field was captained by his faithful friend Tanusios, and after planning together the two generals attacked the Turks around Croia [Pg 241] on two different points, while a vigorous sortie was made by the besieged, during which Balaban, the Turkish commander, was killed. His death and the suddenness and vigor of the triple attack threw the enemy into confusion, and they were completely routed. We pass over other battles and victories, by which Scanderbeg’s resources were finally exhausted. The end had come. During the winter of 1466-7 he was making a tour of inspection, and while in the city of Alessio, or Lissa, as it is sometimes called, where the ambassador of Venice and the confederate chiefs of Albania had convened to meet him and combine for one last and desperate effort, he was seized by a fever which proved fatal. After addressing a solemn and pathetic discourse to his principal officers, he embraced them one by one, and gave orders to his only son John to cross over to his Neapolitan fiefs with his mother, and there wait until some favorable occasion might present itself to return and put himself at the head of his countrymen as his father had done. He died during the night of January 17, 1467, after having received the Viaticum and Extreme Unction, and was buried in the cathedral church of Alessio. His death caused a profound sensation throughout Europe. Mohammed exulted over the loss of one whom he called the sword and buckler of the Christians, and immediately poured his troops into Albania; but it was not until the year 1478, when Croia surrendered on conditions which were afterwards basely violated, that the war ended. Since that time the infamous Turks have lorded it over the land made glorious in legendary lore by the son of Achilles, in history by King Pyrrhus, and in modern times by Scanderbeg. The presence of those barbarous Asiatics in any part of Europe is one of the foulest stains upon the moral sense and the politics of Christian governments.

When Alessio was captured the infidels dug up the remains of the great warrior and divided his bones among the soldiers, to be worn in rich reliquaries as amulets of courage. His countrymen still sing of him as their national hero, and the Turks frighten naughty children with his terrible name.

After Scanderbeg’s death many Albanians emigrated to Italy, either in the suite of his son or independently. The most remarkable colony was in Calabria, where as late as 1780 their descendants, numbering about one hundred thousand, retained the dress, manners, and language of their ancestors. Another colony, not so numerous, is scattered about the Abruzzi. The last lineal descendant of the hero was the Marquis of Sant’Angelo, who was killed at the battle of Pavia by the hand (as Paulus Jovius says) of Francis I.

Most of the Albanians remained Christians until the middle of the seventeenth century, when the majority conformed, outwardly at least, to the Mohammedan religion. The popes have tried hard to keep alive the Catholic faith among the population, and, under the circumstances, with considerable success. Pope Clement XI., of the (now) princely family of Albani which emigrated from Albania in the sixteenth century, and settled at Urbino, established a purse of four thousand scudi in 1708 for the support of three students from that country in the Propaganda College. The Catholics there do not now number more than ninety thousand. There are two archbishoprics, [Pg 242] Antivari united with Scutari, and Durazzo, and three bishoprics, Alessio, Pulati, and Sappa. These sees are usually filled by Franciscans, who, with a few Propagandists (with one of whom, now bishop of Alessio, we have the honor of being acquainted), are the only missionaries in the country. We conclude our article with a bibliographical notice of the subject, because, as Dr. Johnson used to say, a great part of knowledge consists in knowing where knowledge is to be found.

The original source of information upon which all subsequent writers, whether with or without acknowledgment, have drawn is a work by Marino Barlezio, a priest of Scutari, who, besides being a native of the country about which he wrote, was an almost constant companion of Scanderbeg and an eye-witness of most of the events which he relates. He was a scholar and penned very excellent Latin, which greatly adds to the charm of his narrative. We give the full title: De Vita et Moribus ac Rebus præcipuè adversus Turcas gestis Georgii Castrioti clarissimi Epirotarum Principis, qui propter celeberrima facinora Scanderbegus, hoc est Alexander Magnus, cognominatus fuit. Libri xiii. It is not certain where this curious book was first published. Some say at Rome as early as 1506, but this is extremely doubtful; others at Frankfort in 1537 (in folio). A German translation by Pinicianus was published in 1561 in 4to, with woodcuts; and a French one, the language of which is quaint and racy, by Jacques de Lavardin, in 1597. Independent biographies have been written in Latin by an anonymous author at Rome in 1537 or earlier, in folio; in Italian by T. M. Monardo, Venice, 1591, and almost immediately translated into Spanish and Portuguese; in French by Du Poncet (Paris, 1709, in 12mo), a Jesuit, who took upon himself to refute the calumny of Machiavelli and Helvetius, that Christian principles and practices can never develop the qualities of a perfect soldier, a hero. Other French biographies are those of Chevilly (Paris, 1732, 2 vols. 12mo), and Camille Paganel (ibid. 1855, 1 vol. 8vo), which is the best we have read. In English there is one by Clement C. Moore, an American (New York, 1850), and another by Robert Bigsby, an Englishman (London, 1866); while we have also, from the graceful pen of Benjamin Disraeli, The Rise of Iskander, a tale founded on Scanderbeg’s revolt against the Turks (London, 1833). A Summarium or epitome of his life is preserved among the MSS. of the Royal Library at Turin; and the Grand Ducal one at Weimar treasures among its rarities a MS. parchment called The Book of Scanderbeg, composed of three hundred and twenty-five leaves, each of which is beautifully illustrated with figures in india-ink representing scenes from civil and military life in the fifteenth century. It was a present to the Albanian hero from Ferdinand of Aragon. Two Latin poems have been published about him, one by a German named Kökert at Lubec, 1643, and the other by a French Jesuit, Jean de Bussières, at Lyons, 1662, in eight books; finally, one in Italian, called La Scanderbeide, by a lady named Margherita Sarrocchi, without date or place of publication; but it sometimes turns up in book-sales at Rome.

Scanderbeg’s large gilt cuirass, damaskeened with designs of Eastern pattern, is found in the Belvedere collection at Vienna. It is supposed to have been one of his trophies captured in Anatolia.

[78] It was a common boast of the more ambitious sultans that they would some day feed their horses at the tomb of St. Peter.

[79] The good and brave beget the brave;
 … Fierce eagles breed not harmless doves.
The family standard of the Castriots, which Scanderbeg carried in his battles, was a black, double-headed eagle on a red field.

[Pg 243]


Men are governed more by their sympathies than by reason. Weak arguments are strong enough when supported by prejudice which is able to withstand even the most conclusive proofs. We do not pretend to say that this is wholly wrong. Our feelings are in general sincerer than our thoughts; spring more truly from our real selves; are less the product of artificial culture and more of those common principles of our nature which make the whole world akin. But since in rational beings the feelings cannot be purely instinctive, it follows that they are more or less modifiable by the action of the intellect, which in turn is also subject to their influence. Prejudice, therefore, may be either intellectual or moral, or the one and the other; the most obstinate, however, is that which is enrooted in feeling and springs from sympathies and antipathies; and this is usually the character of religious prejudice. The tendency to make religion national, which is a remarkable feature in the history of mankind, together with the fact that states have always been founded and peoples welded into unity by a common faith, has as a rule thrown upon the side of religion the whole force of national prejudice, which, though it does not touch the deep fountains of immortal life and of the infinite, revealed by faith, is yet an immense power, more than any other aggressive and defiant. As the Catholic Church is non-national, it is not surprising that she should often be brought into conflict with the spirit of nationalism.

Christ was himself opposed by this spirit; on the one side he was attacked by the religious nationalism of the Jews, and on the other by that of the Romans. These enemies surrounded the early church. There was the internal struggle to free herself from the bonds of Judaism, a purely national faith; and there was the open battle with the Roman Empire for the liberty of the soul and her right to exist as a Catholic and non-national religion. Heresies and schisms have invariably been successful in proportion as they have been able to rouse national prejudice against the universal church. To pass over those of more ancient date, we may safely affirm that but for this Luther’s quarrel with Tetzel would never have given birth to Protestantism. The conflicts during the middle ages between popes and emperors and kings, together with schisms and scandals, had accustomed the public mind, especially in Germany and England, to look upon the successor of St. Peter as a foreign potentate; nor was it easy, in the state of things which then existed, to draw the line between his spiritual and his temporal authority. He came more and more to be considered an Italian sovereign who had usurped undue power, and thus in Germany and England Italians grew to be both hated and despised; and this more, probably, than kings and parliaments helped on the cause of Protestantism.

The Catholic faith was made to appear, not as the religion of Christ, but as popery, a foreign idolatrous superstition, which had by artful [Pg 244] means insinuated itself amongst the various nations of German blood; and to throw off the yoke of Italian despotism was held to be both political and religious disenthralment. The specific doctrines of Luther and the other heresiarchs had merely an incidental influence. In England, where the separation from the church was more complete than elsewhere, there was the least doctrinal departure from Catholic teaching; which is of itself proof how little any desire for a so-called purer faith had to do with the movement. The appeal to the Scriptures was popular because it was an appeal from the pope. That the Reformation was not an intellectual revolt, at least primarily, there is abundant evidence in the indisputable fact that the most enlightened and learned people of that age—the Italians—remained firm in their attachment to the old faith; and even in Germany, which was comparatively rude and barbarous, the cultivators of the new classical learning, which had been revived in Italy, were for the most part repelled by the coarseness and ignorance of the preachers of Protestantism, who in England found no favor with men like More and Wolsey, scholars, both of them, and patrons of letters.

As Protestantism did not spring from intellectual convictions, but from passion and prejudice—national antagonisms, which had been intensified by ages of conflict and strife, and which became the potent allies of the ambition and rapacity of kings and princes—it is but natural that Protestants, continuing the traditions of their fathers, should still be influenced in their opinions of the Catholic Church more by their antipathies than by reason, and that these antipathies should invariably run with the current of national prejudice. Hence the objections to the church which really influence men are not religious but social. A Protestant who accepts the Bible as the word of God, and receives in the literal sense all that is there narrated, could not with any show of reason make difficulty about believing the teachings of the church; nor can one who trusts to himself alone for his creed feel great confidence that those who are supported by the almost unanimous consent of all Christians for fifteen hundred years, and of the great majority even down to the present day, are less certain of salvation than himself. But when he comes to consider the social influence of the church, he finds it less difficult to justify his dislike of Catholic institutions; for in this direction he is upheld most strongly by traditional prejudice. That the church fosters ignorance and immorality is to his mind axiomatic. He still thinks that the darkness, the scandals, and crimes of the middle ages, which he always exaggerates, are to be ascribed to her and not to the barbarians. The labors of the learned have long since shown the old Protestant theory, that the church sought to keep the people in ignorance, to be not only groundless, but the reverse to be true; and that not less false is the charge that she encouraged immorality, however corrupt some who have held high ecclesiastical positions may have been. But as we have quite recently discussed these questions,[80] we turn to the subject of the relative influence of the church and of Protestantism upon civil liberty. Discussions of this kind, though not new, are nevertheless full of actual interest. [Pg 245] The subject of social liberty profoundly influences the practical controversies of the age, and bids fair to become of still more vital moment in the future. The adversaries of the Catholic Church never feel so secure as when they attack her in the name of freedom. She is supposed to be the fatal foe of all liberty, intellectual, religious, and social.

For the present we shall put aside the controversies concerning liberty of thought and discussion, and confine ourselves to the examination of the relation of the church to social freedom. And it will be necessary, in order to institute a comparison between her action and that of Protestantism, to go back to the first ages to study her early efforts in behalf of human rights.

Those great battles for human liberty were fought, not by Christianity, but by the Christian Church. The religion of Christ was from the beginning corporate and organized; and it was through its organization that it exerted its influence upon individuals and upon society. To understand, therefore, the true relation of the church to liberty, we must study her history in the past as well as in the present. In fact, it is only in the light of the past that the present can be understood. The clear perception of her spirit and action during the centuries which preceded the advent of Protestantism will enable us to see how far and in what respect the politico-religious revolution of the sixteenth century was favorable to social freedom.

Human society, like the heavenly bodies, is guided by two forces, the natural tendencies of which are antagonistic, but whose combined action, when properly harmonized, produces order. Authority and Liberty are the centripetal and centrifugal forces of the social world; but, unlike those which govern the motions of the planets, they are indefinitely modifiable by free human agency. To regulate these two powers is the eternal political problem, which is never solved because the factors of the equation are ever varying and consequently never known. The exaggeration of the principle of authority is tyranny; of that of liberty, anarchy; and the excess of the one is followed by a reaction of the other, so that, whichever preponderates, the resulting evils are substantially the same. Tyranny is anarchical, and anarchy is tyrannical; and both are equally destructive of authority and liberty.

Though authority and liberty, as applied to human society, are relative terms, they presuppose the absolute, and therefore have as their only rational basis the existence of a personal God; and hence the social order is, in its very constitutive elements, religious. In view of this fact it is not surprising that the state, which is the symbol of secular society, should be drawn to usurp the functions of the church, the symbol of the spiritual order. As a result of this tendency, pre-christian history shows us a universal subordination of religion to the temporal government, or, what is practically the same, the identification of the two powers; since, where both are united, that which regards man’s present, visible, and urgent wants will always preponderate.

The direct consequence of this was the destruction of liberty; indirectly it also undermined authority. The state was absolute, and under the most favorable circumstances, as in the Græco-Roman [Pg 246] civilization, recognized the rights of the citizen, but not those of man; and even the citizen had rights only in so far as the state saw fit to grant them. The logical development of the absorption of all power by the state may be seen in imperial Rome, in which the ruler was at once emperor, supreme pontiff, and God.

When the Christian, though willing to obey Cæsar in temporal matters, reserved to himself a whole world upon which he would permit no human authority to trespass, he asserted, together with the supremacy of his spiritual nature, the principle to which modern nations owe their liberties. It would indeed be difficult to exaggerate the influence of this assertion of the sovereign rights of the individual conscience. It contains the principles of all rights and the essential elements of progress and civilization; it is the necessary preamble to every declaration of human liberties; the logical justification of all resistance to tyranny, and of every reaction against brute force and consecrated wrong. It is the impregnable stronghold of freedom, without which the sentiment of personal independence which the barbarians brought with them into European life would have been powerless to found free institutions. That sentiment was as strong in the North American Indians; in the Tartar and Turkish hordes which swept down from the table-lands of Asia upon fairer and more fertile regions; and yet with them it only subserved the cause of despotism. It is, indeed, inherent in human nature. To be self-conscious is to wish to be free and to take delight in the possession of liberty. This feeling finds a sanctuary in the heart of every boy who roams the forest, or plunges through the stream, or beholds the eagle cleave the blue heavens. It was as active in the breasts of the early Greeks and Romans as in the barbarians who rushed headlong upon a falling empire. The love of liberty was, in fact, with them a sublime passion, and yet they were unable to found free institutions because the state, absorbing the whole man, made itself absolute.

They lacked, moreover, that of which the barbarians were also deprived—the knowledge of the worth and dignity of human nature. Man, as man, was not honored; to have any rights did not come of our common nature, but of the accident of citizenship. Slavery was consecrated as being not only just but necessary; and the slave was outside the pale of the law. Woman was degraded and infant life was not held sacred. In nothing is the contrast between modern and ancient civilizations more striking than in their manner of regarding human life. With us the life of the unborn child is under the protection of conscience, of public opinion, and of the law equally with that of the highest and noblest. Its value to the state, to society, to the world, is not considered; we think of it only as a creature of God, endowed by him with rights which men may not violate. But this doctrine is unknown to paganism. In Rome the father was free either to bring up his child or to murder it; even the laws of Romulus grant him this privilege, with the nominal restriction of obtaining the consent of the nearest of kin; but under the empire his right to kill his newly-born infant was fully recognized. The abandonment of children by their parents was a universal custom, and one of which the Emperor Augustus [Pg 247] approved in the case of the infant of his niece Julia. If child-murder was not a crime, abortion, of course, was no offence at all, and was universally practised, especially among the rich. The contempt in which human life was held is seen also in the public games—in which hundreds of men were made to butcher one another merely for the amusement of the spectators—as well as in the power of life and death of the master over his slave.

It has been maintained quite recently that those who gave their approval and lent the countenance of their presence to these inhumanities were not therefore cruel; that, on the contrary, many of them were kind-hearted and benevolent; but this, if we grant it, makes our argument all the stronger, since it proves that the system was more vicious than the men. A social state which does not respect life is incompatible with liberty. It would be vain to seek for the origin of our free institutions in any supposed peculiarities of our barbarous ancestors. Nothing short of a radical revolution of thought as to what man is could have made civil liberty possible. It was necessary to re-endow the individual with absolute and inviolable rights in the presence of the state. Man had to be taught that he is more than the state; that to be man is godlike, to be a citizen is human; but this he could not learn so long as he remained helplessly under the absolute power of the state; nor could he, with the conviction that the state is the highest and that he exists for it, make any effort to break the bonds of his servitude. Before this could be possible he had to be received into a society distinct from, and independent of, the state; he had to be made fully conscious that he is a child of God, in whose sight slaves have equal rights with kings. It was necessary to bring out man’s personal destiny in strong contrast to the pagan view, which took in only his social mission, and this narrowly and imperfectly.

This is what the Christian religion did: it created a personal self-consciousness which made heroes of the commonest natures. The Roman died for his country; the Christian died for God and for his own soul’s sake. He was not led to brave death by the majesty of the city, of the empire, or by the memory of the victories which had borne his country’s arms in triumph through the world, but by his own individual faith and duty as a man with a personal and immortal destiny. When the Christian appealed from emperors and senates and armies, from the power and force of the whole world, to God, it was the single human soul asserting itself as something above and beyond this visible universe. Never before had the eternal and the infinite come so near to man; never before had he so felt his own immortal strength. He was lifted up into the heaven of heavens, stood face to face with the everlasting verities of God, became a dweller in the world that is, and the garments of space and time fell from his new-born soul. He was free; strong in the liberty with which Christ had clothed him, he defied all tyrannies. “As we have not placed our hope,” said Justin to the Emperor Antoninus, “on things which are seen, we fear not those who take away our lives; death being, moreover, unavoidable.” The pagan Roman knew, indeed, how to die; but his death, though full of grandeur and dignity, was sombre and hopeless; he died as the victim of fate. To the [Pg 248] Christian death came as the messenger of life; he died as one who is certain of eternity, as one whose soul is free and belongs to himself and God. This sense of a personal destiny which is eternal, of infinite responsibility, gave to the individual a strength and independence of character for which we will seek in vain among the religions of paganism. It is a feeling wholly distinct from the barbarian’s dislike of restraint. The love of wild and adventurous life neither fits men for the enjoyment of liberty nor predisposes them to grant it to others.

The more we study the history of Christian nations, the more profound is our conviction that without their religion they could never have won their liberties, which even now without this divine support could not be maintained. It is to our religion that we are indebted for the creation of popular free speech. Before Christ gave the divine commission to the apostles, philosophers had discoursed to their chosen disciples, and orators had declaimed to citizens, on the interests of the state; but no one had spoken to the people as moral beings with duties and responsibilities which lift them into the world of the infinite and eternal. There were priesthoods, but they were mute before the people, intent upon hiding from them all knowledge of their mysteries. Religious eloquence did not exist; it first received a voice on the shores of the Lake of Genesareth and on the hills of Judea, in the preaching of Jesus, who remains for ever its highest exponent, speaking as one who had authority with godlike liberty on whatever most nearly touches the dearest interests of men; speaking chiefly to the people, bringing back to their minds the long-forgotten truths which prove them the royal race of God. The preaching of God’s word with the liberty of Heaven, which no earthly authority might lessen, became the great school of the human race; it was the first popular teaching, and like an electric thrill it ran through the earth. It belongs exclusively to the religion of Christ. Mahomet, who sought to borrow it, was able to catch only its feeble echo. This free Christian public speech is unlike all other oratory; it possesses an incommunicable characteristic, through which it has exercised the most beneficent influence upon the destinies of mankind. It is essentially spiritual, lifts the soul above the flesh, and creates new ideals of life; inspiring contempt for whatever is low and passing, it begets enthusiasm for the divine and eternal. It is a voice whose soul-thrill is love, the boundless love of God and of men, who are the children of this love, and therefore brothers. This voice cannot be bought, it cannot be silenced. Currit verbum, said St. Paul, and again from his prison-cell: “But the word of God is not fettered.” On innumerable lips it is born ever anew; and always and everywhere it is a protest against the brutality of power, an appeal in the name of God, our Father in heaven, in behalf of the poor, the oppressed, the disinherited of humanity. Men may still be tyrants, may still crush the weak and sacrifice truth and justice to their lustful appetites; but the voice of God, threatening, commanding, rebuking, shall be silent nevermore.

Festus will tremble before Paul; at the bidding of Ambrose Theodosius will repent; and before Hildebrand the brutal Henry will bow his head. At the sound of this voice all Europe shall rouse itself, [Pg 249] shall rush, impelled by some divine instinct, into the heart of Asia, to strike the mighty power which threatened to blight the budding hope of the world. If we would understand the relations of the church to liberty, we must consider the influence of this free speech, which, without asking the permission of king or people, impelled by a divine necessity, made itself heard of the whole earth. Over the door of his Academy Plato had inscribed: “None but geometers enter here”; over the portals of the church was written the word of Christ: “Come to me, all ye who labor and are heavy laden.” “All you,” exclaimed St. Augustine, “who labor, who dig the earth, who fish in the sea, who carry burdens, or slowly and painfully construct the barks in which your brothers will dare the waves—all enter here, and I will explain to you not only the γνῶθι σεαυτόν of Socrates, but the most hidden of mysteries—the Trinity.” This new eloquence was as large as the human race; it was for all, and first of all for the poor and the oppressed. It was not artistic, in the technical meaning; it did not captivate the senses; it was not polished. There was no showy marshalling of words and phrases, no sweet and varied modulation of voice, no graceful and commanding gesture. Around the altar were gathered the slave, the beggar, the halt, and the blind—the oppressed and suffering race of men. If with them were found the rich and high-born, they were there as brothers—their wealth and noble birth entered not into the church of Christ. Here there was neither freeman nor slave—all were one. Thus in every Christian assembly was typed the humanity which was to be when all men would be brothers and free. To this new race the apostle of Christ spoke: “My brothers,” he said, or “My children”; and though all history and all society shrieked out against him, his hearers felt and knew that his words were God’s truth. The heart is not deceived in love. “I seek not yours,” he said, “but you; for God is my witness how I long after you all in the heart of Jesus Christ.… I could wish that myself were accursed, if only my brethren be saved.” And then, with the liberty which love alone can inspire, he threatened, rebuked, implored, laid bare the hidden wounds of the soul, nor feared to become an enemy for speaking the truth. To the great and rich he spoke in the plainest and strongest manner, reminding them of their duties, denouncing their indifference, their cruelty, their injustice; and then, in words soft as oil, he breathed hope and courage into the hearts of those who suffer, showing them beyond this short and delusive life the certain reward of their struggles and sorrows. He taught them that the soul is the highest, that purity is the best, that only the clean of heart see God; that man’s chief worth lies in that which is common to all, derived from God and for him created. Human life was perishing, wastefully poured through the senses on every carnal thing. No love of beauty or truth or justice was left. The mind was darkened, the heart was paralyzed. The great, strong human passions that bore the people of Rome in triumph through the earth were dead; everywhere, in religion, in art, in manners, was the deadly blight of materialism; a kind of delirium hurried all men into animal indulgences fatal alike to soul and body. To a race thus glued to the earth by carnal appetites came the [Pg 250] voice of the apostle, preaching Christ and him crucified; telling of the divine love that had bowed the heavens and brought down to men God’s own Son to suffer, to labor, to die for them. He was poor, he was meek and humble, he fasted, he prayed; he comforted the sorrowful, gave hope to the despairing; he offered up his life for men. Such as he was those who believe in him must be. To serve the lusts of the flesh, to be heartless, to be cruel, to be unjust, is to have no part with him. The greed of gold and of pleasure had reduced the masses of men to slavery and beggary; those who would follow God’s Son in the perfect way were to sell what they had, to give to the poor. The whole race of men was fallen, sunk in sin; the disciples of Christ were bidden to separate themselves from a world which had denied God, that, having received faith, hope, and love through union with him, they might bring to the dying peoples a new life.

The Christian religion turned the mind’s eye from the contemplation of beauty of form to the inner life of the soul; from thoughts of power and success to principles of right and justice. All the forces of society had been brought together to develop in its highest potency the passion of patriotism, which, bending to its purpose all the powers of individual life, had created mighty states, embellished them with art, crowned them with victory, made them eternal in literature that cannot die; but on the altar of all this glory man had been sacrificed. Patriotism had failed, hopelessly failed, to satisfy the unutterable longings of an immortal race. It was based upon false principles and perverted instincts. Man’s end is not more fulfilled in citizenship in a great and prosperous state than in the possession of vast wealth. The religion of patriotism was a low and material creed without eternal verities upon which to rest. Power was its divinity, and it was therefore without mercy; success was its justification, and it consequently trampled upon right. It is not surprising that such principles should have created states whose chief business was to prey upon the human race, and which, when conquest was no longer possible, were brought to ruin by the viciousness of their essential constitutions. In fact, patriotism, as understood by the pre-christian states, was a denial of the principles out of which the common law of Christendom has grown. It placed the interests of the nation above those of the race, and thereby justified all inhumanity if only it tended to the particular good of the state.

In contradiction of this unjust and narrow spirit, the Christian preacher declared that man’s first duty is to God, as his first aim should be to seek God’s kingdom by purifying and developing his own moral nature. He declared that man is more than the state, as God is more than the world; inspiring in another form those views of the paramount worth of the individual soul without which there could be no successful reaction against the slavery and degradation of paganism. “The world,” said Tertullian, “is the common country and republic of all men.”

These principles gradually worked their way, through “the foolishness of preaching,” into the minds and hearts of the masses and became the leaven of a new society. Let us examine their action more specially. In the church the brotherhood [Pg 251] of the race was from the earliest day not only taught but recognized as a fact. “There is neither Jew nor Greek,” said St. Paul, “neither bond nor free, neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” This doctrine is stated in various places in the New Testament with such emphasis as to leave no doubt of its true meaning. It is equally certain, however, that the apostles did not proclaim the emancipation of the slaves. “Let those who are servants under the yoke,” said the same apostle who declared that in Christ there was neither bond nor free, “count their masters worthy of all honor, lest the name of the Lord and his doctrines be blasphemed.”

It was not the spirit of the Christian faith to encourage visionary schemes or to awaken wild dreams of liberty; but rather to subdue and chasten the heart, to make men content to bear worthily the ills of life by giving to suffering a meaning and a blessing.

The misery of the pagan slave was extreme, but it was also hopeless. He believed himself the victim of relentless fate, from whose power death was the only deliverance, and he therefore rushed wildly into all excess, giving little thought to whether he should live to see the morrow. Suffering for him was without meaning—a remediless evil, a blind punishment inflicted by remorseless destiny. For this reason also his wretchedness excited no pity. Even as late as the time of St. Ambrose the pagans were accustomed to say: “We care not to give to people whom the gods must have cursed, since they have left them in sorrow and want.”

But with the preaching of Christ, and him crucified, came the divine doctrine of expiatory suffering—of suffering that purifies, regenerates, ennobles, begets the unselfish temper and the heroic mood. When the Christian suffered he was but filling up the measure of the sufferings of Christ. The slave, laboring for his master, was not seeking to please men; he was “the servant of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart”; “knowing that whatsoever good any man shall do, the same shall he receive from the Lord, whether he be bond or free.” Masters in turn were taught to treat their slaves kindly and gently, even as brothers; “knowing that the Lord both of them and of you is in heaven, and with him there is no respect of persons.”

Thus, without attempting to destroy slavery by schemes that must have been premature, the Christian religion changed its nature by diffusing correct notions concerning the mutual rights and duties implied in the relations of master and slave. The slave as a brother in Christ is separated by a whole world from the slave who is a tool or chattel. Who can read St. Paul’s Epistle to Philemon, written in behalf of the fugitive slave Onesimus, without perceiving the radical revolution which Christianity was destined to make in regard to slavery? “I beseech thee for my son, Onesimus: … receive him as my own heart; no longer as a slave, but as a most dear brother. If he hath wronged thee in anything, or is in thy debt, put it to my account.”

This is after all but the application of the teaching of Christ: I was hungry, I was thirsty, I was sick, I was a captive, and ye fed me, ye gave me to drink, ye visited me; for inasmuch as ye have done this for the least of my brethren, ye have done it for me. In every suffering and wronged human being [Pg 252] there is the Christ to be honored, to be loved, to be served. Whosoever refuses to take part in this ministry places himself outside the kingdom of God.

Slavery, from the Christian point of view, is but one of the thousand ills entailed upon the human race by the transgression of Adam; it is enrooted, not in nature, but in sin; and as Christ died to destroy sin, his religion must tend to diminish and gradually abolish its moral results. The freedom of all men in Christ which the great apostle so boldly proclaims must in time find its counterpart in the equality of all men before the law. Indeed, the admission of the slave into the Christian brotherhood logically implied the abolition of slavery. It so raised the individual by giving him the knowledge of his true dignity, and so softened the master’s treatment, that the moral elevation of the whole class was the inevitable result. In this way the church made the slave worthy to be free, and from this to liberty there is but a step. “We teach the slaves,” said Origen, “how they may beget in themselves a noble spirit, and so become free”; and it need not surprise us, therefore, when Lactantius testifies that among Christians already in his day the difference between master and slave was but formal; in spirit both were brothers and fellow-servants of Christ. Nor is it remarkable that as evidence of this moral regeneration we should find the slaves among the early martyrs. There is an example of the sentiments which Christians entertained for their slaves in the self-reproaches of St. Paulinus in his letter to Sulpicius Severus: “He has served me,” he wrote; “he has been my slave. Woe to me, who have suffered that he who has never been a slave to sin should serve a sinner. Every day he washed my feet, and, had I permitted it, would have cleansed my sandals; eager to render every service to the body, that he might gain dominion over the soul. It is Jesus Christ himself whom I venerate in this youth; for every faithful soul comes from God, and every one who is humble of heart proceeds from the very heart of Christ.” Men who felt so lovingly and so deeply for their fellows could not long consent to hold them in bondage. “We have known,” wrote Pope Clement to the Corinthians, “many of the faithful to become bondsmen that they might ransom their brethren.”

Pagan masters, such as Hermes and Chromatius, on the occasion of their baptism gave freedom to their slaves; and holy women, like St. Melania, induced their husbands to follow this example. “Every day,” wrote Salvian in the fifth century, “slaves receive the right of citizenship and are permitted to carry with them whatever they have saved in the house of their master.” And we know, upon the authority of St. Gregory of Nyssa, that these manumissions frequently took place at Easter and other solemn festivals of the church. After the conversion of Constantine the influence of the church induced the civil authority to relax the severity of its legal enactments concerning slaves. Their manumission, especially from religious motives, was facilitated and the cruelty of masters was restrained. The successors of Constantine, particularly Justinian, continued to act in the same generous spirit, until finally, in the sixth century, all the harsher pagan laws were abolished, and men who had been slaves were even admitted to holy orders. This wonderful change in the policy of [Pg 253] the Roman state had been wrought by the pressure of Christian influences. The voices of the great preachers, St. Chrysostom, St. Ambrose, St. Augustine, never wearied in pleading the cause of the slave; the councils of the church placed them under the protection of the ecclesiastical law; the bishops and priests defended them against the cruelty of their masters; and when once they were free, the church clothed their liberty with an inviolable sanctity. In other ways, too, religious influences were at work to destroy slavery. The universal custom of the ancient pagan nations, which deprived captives of war of their freedom, was an unfailing source of supply to the slave markets. Though the church was unable at once to erase from the battle-flags of the ancient world the Væ victis, she found means to alleviate the lot of the captive.

We have quoted the words of St. Clement to show that in his day already Christians not unfrequently took upon themselves voluntary servitude in order to redeem their brethren. The property of the church was considered best employed when used for the redemption of captives. For this purpose the bishops were permitted to sell even the sacred vessels of the altar. “Since our Redeemer, the Creator of all things,” wrote Pope St. Gregory, “has vouchsafed in his goodness to become man, in order to restore to us our first liberty by breaking, through his divine grace, the bonds of servitude by which we were held captive, it is a holy deed to give to men, by enfranchisement, their native freedom; for in the beginning nature made them all free, and they have been subjected to the yoke of slavery only by the law of nations.”

A council held at Rome under this great pope (A.D. 595) decreed that slaves who wished to enter the monastic life should receive their liberty; and so great was the number of those who availed themselves of this privilege that the masters on all sides loudly complained of it as an intolerable abuse. The church of the middle ages went still further in the warfare for human liberty. Slavery existed among the Germanic races which overran the Roman Empire and took possession of its territory; and with them, too, the slave was the property of the master, who had the right to exchange, to sell, or even to put him to death.

The struggle which had been but begun amidst the corruptions of ancient Rome with an effete and dying race was renewed with the wild and rugged children of the forest. In this great battle for the rights of man the monks came forward as the leaders. In many convents it was forbidden to have slaves, and when the wealthy took the monastic habit they were required to emancipate their slaves.

A council held in England in 816 ordained that at the death of a bishop all his English slaves should be given their freedom; and at the Council of Armagh, in 1172, all English slaves in Ireland were emancipated. The Council of Coblentz, held in 922, declares that he who sells a Christian into slavery is guilty of murder.

Numerous decrees of ecclesiastical synods condemned the slave-trade, and with such efficacy that by the end of the tenth century slaves were no longer sold in the kingdom of the Franks.

In the British Islands this abuse was not eradicated till towards the close of the twelfth century. In Bohemia it was abolished in the [Pg 254] tenth, and in Sweden in the thirteenth century. The church continued to buy slaves in order to give them their liberty. The right of asylum was given to those who fled from the cruelty of their masters. The historical records of manumission in the middle ages, as preserved in testamentary acts, almost universally assign religious motives for the emancipation of slaves.

The efforts of the church in the first centuries of Christianity, and later too, in behalf of the weak and the oppressed—woman, the child, and the slave—are intimately connected with the progress of civil liberty. It is impossible for us, who are the children of two thousand years of Christian influences, to realize the full significance of her enthusiastic devotion to the people, poor, suffering, and degraded, in an age in which no other voice than hers pleaded for them. In order to do this we should be able to place ourselves in the midst of the old pagan world, so as to contemplate the abject condition to which the masses of men had been reduced—a state so pitiable that possibly nothing short of the appearance of God himself, in poverty and sorrow, could have inspired the courage even to hope for better things.

The history of heathenism, in the past as in the present, is marked by contempt for man, by the degradation of the multitude. In this respect the civilization of Greece and Rome was not different from that of India and China in our own day. If in Christian nations, after long struggles and terrible conflicts, a better state of social existence has been brought about, we owe it to Christ working in and through his church. To render liberty possible an intellectual and moral revolution had to take place. New ideas as to what man is in himself simply, new sentiments as to what is due him by virtue of his very nature, new doctrines as to what all men owe to all men, had to be preached and accepted before there could be any question of civil reform in the direction of larger and more universal liberty. Institutions, laws, constitutions are mechanical, the surfaces of things, social garments which, unless they cover and protect some inner life and divine truth, are merely useless forms. Liberty, individual and social, is inseparable from self-control, which is born of self-denial. Good men cannot be made by good laws any more than by good clothes. Man, of course, is influenced, in part educated, by what he wears as by what he eats; but it does not follow that the wisest course would be to hand over the children, body and soul, to cooks and tailors. Not less unreasonable is it to surrender them to politicians to be drilled and fashioned by the mechanical appliances of government.

Liberty is of the soul; it is from this sanctuary that it passes into the laws and customs of society. Men who are slaves in heart cannot be made free by legislative enactments. The church of Christ taught men how to be worthy to be free by showing them liberty’s great law—self-denial; by restoring to the soul the sovereignty of which it had been deprived since the gates of Paradise were barred; by clothing human nature with inviolable sacredness and inalienable rights; by proclaiming that man, for being simply man, is worthy of all love and respect.

When Christ came, the slave, without honor and without hope, was everywhere. The master was like his [Pg 255] slave. Surrounded by human herds, to whom vice in its most degrading forms had become a necessity, he breathed in an atmosphere of corruption against whose deadly poison he was powerless to contend. His life was a fever alternating between lust and blood. The debauched are always cruel, and as men sank deeper into the slough of sensual indulgence the cry for carnage grew fiercer. Nothing but the hacking and mangling of human bodies could rouse the senses, deadened by the gratification of brutish passions. Here and there a stray voice protested, but only in the sad tones of despair. Hope had fled; the world was prostrate; in the mephitic air of sensuous indulgence the soul was stifled; the poor were starving and the rich were glutted; a thousand slaves could hardly feed the stomach of Dives; and Jesus Christ took Lazarus in his arms, and in a voice from heaven called upon all who believed in God and in man to follow him in the service of outraged humanity; and his voice was re-echoed through the earth and through the ages. At its sound the despairing took heart, the dead lived, the poor heard the new gospel of glad tidings, and the slave, crushed and ignored by human society, found citizenship and liberty in the kingdom of God.

[80] “A Sequel of the Gladstone Controversy.” The Catholic World, February, March, and April.


The glorious sun of Easter morning, 1875, arose in splendor, gilding the domes and turrets of the Eternal City with burnished gold, picturing to the mind the gates of Paradise this day opened by the Sun of Righteousness. The Roman people were early astir, though no cannon sounded from Mount St. Angelo to usher in the great festival, nor papal banner flung its folds to the breeze from that old citadel this bright spring day to speak to Christians of him whom our Lord appointed to watch over his sheep.

After early Masses at the church of Sant Andrea delle Fratte, so much beloved and sought after by English and American Catholics in Rome as the place where Ratisbon the Jew received the great gift of faith, we took our way to the Basilica of St. Peter. Multitudes filled the streets, men and women in holiday attire, but not with the old-time life and exhilaration of a great festa. Loss does not sit lightly on the Roman; and everywhere there seemed to be something wanting to make this day what it should have been; no grand processions, no public solemn High Mass celebrated with august ceremonies by his Holiness, no precious benedictions from his paternal hand. A veil hung over the face of our Easter joys; for the Bride of Christ sat in sackcloth.

When we entered on the pavement of St. Peter’s, far-off sounds of joyous music came from the canon’s chapel, scarcely reaching the hallowed [Pg 256] arches without; but a wail of sadness, a chord of grief, ran through it all, for wicked men had made it impossible that our Holy Father should present himself at the altar where he alone officiates, lest his presence should excite tumult and bloodshed among his dear children. High Mass was being celebrated in the canon’s chapel, which contains one of the forty or more altars of St. Peter’s, and is shut off from the aisle by a glass partition. Crowds had pressed in among the dignitaries of the church, and far out into the nave hundreds were uniting themselves to the Holy Sacrifice there offered.

There is perhaps no place on earth where a person can be so entirely alone among a multitude as at St. Peter’s. Each one seems bent upon the particular purpose that brought him there. The church on this day contained twelve thousand people at least (we heard the number rated much higher), but no noise was heard save the constant footfall on the marble pavement and the faint echo of the voices from the choir, while of room there was no lack. Low Masses were being celebrated at many of the altars, around which gathered groups of attentive worshippers; and when the tinkling of the small bell hung at the door of the sacristy gave notice of another Mass, from every quarter persons were seen moving rapidly forward following the priest to the altar where he was to celebrate.

Many there were in that privileged place on that holy day who had come from motives of curiosity, to see what it was all like—gazers who looked upon Catholics with cool contempt as but a step removed from the heathen to whom they send missionaries; the industrious sight-seeker, the tourist, whom no solemn function can hold more than a few minutes, coming even on Easter day with their red-covered ‘Bädeker,’ and sometimes with their opera-glasses levelled at the altar where the priest was saying Mass, and walking with perfect nonchalance over and among the people kneeling in devotion. They spoke to each other in undertones (intelligible to one of their own tongue), and with visible sneers, of the subjection and superstition of “these Romanists.” A few of them were Americans, while more were English; but, it is needless to say, none of them persons of good breeding.

Long lines of students from the various colleges in Rome passed and repassed, each in their distinctive color, pausing a moment on bended knee to speak to our dear Lord in the Blessed Sacrament, then going onward toward the hundred lamps that burn continually before the tomb of the Prince of the Apostles, and passing quietly out again to visit some other temple. There were schools of boys and schools of girls in picturesque costumes, charity children and children of princes, all kneeling together before their common Lord, all seeking their share in his Easter benedictions. Streams of people flowed in from the Campagna, often rough, ragged, unkempt—the women in their harlequin holiday clothes, the men in goat-skin breeches and brilliant vests. These, like the others, had come home; for St. Peter’s is a home for all, and the poorest beggar feels that he has a right within those consecrated walls. Soldiers and officers in the varied uniform of the Italian army walked about listlessly, sometimes haughtily, only a few bending their knee as they recognized the divine [Pg 257] Presence. We pitied them greatly; to be an earnest Catholic in Victor Emanuel’s army must be a great trial to one’s faith.

The numerous confessionals, for many different languages, were the resort of wayfarers that day, while the confessors sat quietly at their posts hour after hour listening to the tale of sin and repentance. Almost every Catholic paused to touch and kiss the foot of the bronze statue of St. Peter, worn by centuries of devout kisses. The statue had this day a new attraction; for over it was hung a gorgeous drapery of scarlet and gold. We found that these rich hangings, so graceful and beautiful, were in mosaic from the famous workshop of the Vatican. A fine portrait of the Holy Father crowned the whole, wrought from the same material, and a very satisfactory likeness.

This calls to mind an incident which took place in the Vatican Basilica a short time before the Easter day of which we are writing. We had gone to St. Peter’s for Lenten rest and refreshment, and, having visited the Chapel of the Blessed Sacrament, were directing our steps to the altar of our Blessed Mother, when a sacristan politely requested us to leave the church. We were inclined to rebel for a moment, till we observed the whole assembly, priests as well as people, moving towards the entrance; we followed, of course, and the doors were closed. So surprising a movement in the middle of the day was the cause of much questioning, and it was discovered that his Holiness wished to see the decorations put over the statue of St. Peter by his orders. He could not appear before the congregation, lest the zeal of his Catholic children might get the better of their prudence, and cries of Viva il Papa! might bring upon innocent friends the indignation of the Italian government, as they had done on a former occasion.

This day we were to see no illuminations of the grand façade and the broad portico; no brilliantly-lighted cupola, visible to the furthest corner of Rome; none of the imposing ceremonies that have been so much sought after and admired by Protestants. These latter go away from the Easter celebrations dissatisfied, sometimes annoyed and angry, that they should be deprived of the fine sights “just for a whim of the Pope.” We heard them utter these words as we passed down the massive steps leading to the piazza. They seemed to forget that holy church puts not forth her beauties solely for the delectation of Protestants who come to Rome at Christmas and Easter “to see sights.” They might know that when her Head is bowed with sorrow, all true children of the church carry the same cross, the whole body suffering with the head. There was joy tempered with much sadness in our hearts as we went from the noble basilica and wandered away to the Coliseum, fit emblem of the church in the Rome of to-day. Ruthless hands—hands of those who would make Rome like any modern city—have shorn this sacred spot of half its beauties; hard hearts have stripped it of its hallowed stations and forbidden the people to pray where the martyrs shed their blood.

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As a lavish and yet unwasteful abundance was the first condition and eminent characteristic of the creation, so is longanimity, or patience, the special quality which marks the dealings of God with his creatures, in the gradual and long-enduring developments of his government. It is the quality to which we are most indebted, and yet which, as regards the history of mankind, we value and understand the least. Possibly the fact of our own brevity of life, as compared with the multitude of thoughts, efforts, and emotions which the immortality of our being crowds across the narrow limit of time, leaving an impression of breathlessness and haste, may put it almost out of our power—save as all things are possible by the grace of God—to raise ourselves to any approximate appreciation of God’s long-enduring patience. And this is increased in the minds of those who are zealous for God’s glory. They chafe at the outrages committed against his law; they sicken before the long, dreary aspect of man’s incredulity and hardness of heart; and the rise of a new heresy, the advent of an antipope, or the horrors of a French Revolution lead them hastily to conclude, and impatiently to wish, that the last day may be at hand. Experience is a slow process. At fifty a man only begins to learn the great value of life and to look back with marvel at the lavish waste of his earlier years. But if to the individual the convictions resulting from experience are of slow and laborious growth, they are still more so to the multitude. Consequently, though more than eighteen hundred years have come and gone since St. John wrote to his disciples, “Little children, it is the last hour,” nevertheless the pious of all shades of opinion in all ages have not been afraid to utter random guesses that the end of the world cannot be far off because of the wickedness of men. It is indeed true, as the Holy Ghost spoke by St. John, that it is the “last hour.” But what does that “last hour” mean? Not surely a literal last hour or last day, but a last epoch. The epoch in the history of the cosmos before the coming of the Redeemer—that is, before the hypostatic union in a visible, tangible, and real human body of the second Person of the Triune Godhead—was the first hour, or the first epoch. The period since the Incarnation is the last hour, or the last epoch; because nothing mightier or greater can take place than the fact of God taking flesh in the womb of the Blessed Virgin. It is the consummation; it is the one great end of all creation. This last epoch will have its eras, evolving themselves within the bosom of the Catholic Church, just as the first epoch had its eras [Pg 259] in the diverse revelations which God made of himself to man; and which were, if we may use the term without seeming to derogate from their unspeakable importance and their divine origin, of a more desultory nature than those which are, and shall be, accorded to God’s spouse, the infallible church. What is this but to say again what we are endeavoring to express in every page, namely, that “He who sitteth on the white horse went forth conquering, that he might conquer”;[81] and that God’s work ever has been, is now, and ever will be a progressive work. “Gird thy sword upon thy thigh, O Thou most mighty. With thy comeliness and thy beauty set out, proceed prosperously and reign.”[82] When the whole of Scripture is teeming with promises of future more glorious eras of which we now only see the germ, developed here and there in some favored soul, in some special corner of God’s vast vineyard, the church (for the saints have always been men of the future, in advance of their own time), is it not a marvel to hear desponding men talking as though there were nothing better to be hoped for than the end of the world, coming, as they seem to expect it, like a terrific frost which shall nip in the bud all the, as yet, unfulfilled promises, and drown the wicked in a deluge of flame! And this we expect and almost desire, hoping we ourselves may be saved, but without a second thought for God’s beautiful earth, which he has blessed a thousand fold by his own divine footprints on its surface; and where he now makes his tabernacle in ten thousand churches, waiting, nay watching, with that ineffable patience of his, whose cycles of longanimity we are incapable of appreciating!

But it is cruel to speak harshly of a few words of discouragement falling from the lips of those who are weary with vigils waiting for new daylight. Only let us learn that the Sun of Righteousness to our perceptions, as it were, sets and rises again. We are like children who think when the glorious golden disc has sunk beneath the horizon that it is utterly gone and is perhaps extinct, while on the contrary the children of another hemisphere are playing in the warmth of its beams; so we see the dark clouds of evil hiding from us the light of grace, first in one spot, then in another, and we grow downcast and impatient. We forget that “not one jot or one tittle shall pass of the law till all be fulfilled”;[83] and that our Lord tells us he “did not come to destroy either the law or the prophets, but to fulfil them.” Bearing this in mind, let our readers take up the Psalms and the Prophets, and study, with a deliberate faith in the inspired words, the promises which concern the future of the world under the tent of the church, the place of which tent shall be enlarged that she may “pass on to the right hand and to the left; and inhabit the [now] desolate cities.”[84]

It is a want of hope—and let us ever remember that hope is a virtue, and not a mere quality or faculty of the mind—which leads us to read the stupendously sublime promises of God to the whole earth in the future of the church, as so much beautiful imagery of which a limited application manifests itself, from time to time, in the partial conversion of some thousands here and there over the vast face of the semi-civilized world, while millions [Pg 260] upon millions remain heathens, Hindoos, Jews, and Mussulmans. We read these glorious utterances of the Scriptures with the restrained admiration of one who, while admiring a poem, makes allowances for the “fine frenzy” of the poet. We take it cum grano salis, and forget that it is the trumpet voice of absolute truth; and that whether or no it point to a millennium upon earth—a question left open by the church, and so little discussed as yet by her modern theologians that we will not dwell upon it—it must mean all it says; and, after the fashion of God’s gifts, more than we can conceive. This, then, is what the patience and longanimity of God is leading us to. These glories, which have exhausted the tenderest as well as the most powerful utterance of language to depict, are the future of the church, when the spouse of Christ shall be the mistress of the world. St. Paul in the Epistle to the Hebrews, quoting the eighth Psalm on the high destinies of man, says, “Thou hast subjected all things under his feet,” and adds, “but we see not as yet all things subject to him.” Nevertheless the delay gave no place for doubt that the promise should have an ultimate and complete fulfilment; while he unfolds to us the wherefore of these sublime predictions, the only adequate reason why the human race should be crowned with glory and honor—the one, sole emphatic cause, namely, that all creation is in and for the Incarnation; that the Incarnation is the basement, and the sublime architrave and final coping-stone of the whole edifice; that the creation is for him as entirely as it is by him, and that man is the younger brother of his Redeemer, and shares in his inheritance.

We have already spoken of the indirect and adaptive government of God; of “the government which he condescends to administer in his world through the moral and physical activity with which he has endowed mankind.” We have shown that the representative law of creation is “increase and multiply.” We now come to the fact that since the fall the corollary of that law is labor and toil. The earth from henceforward brought forth thorns and thistles; in other words, on all sides obstacles and difficulties met the advancing steps of the discrowned lord of creation. Speaking according to the eternal decrees of God, and not according to their manifestation through time, we should say that the younger and fallen sons of God had to reconquer the world they were given to reign over, as the elder Son of God, he who is from all eternity, has, in consequence of the same fall, to reconquer the reign of grace in the souls of men, step by step, vanquishing the thorns and thistles with which our unbelief and iniquity tear and rend his bleeding feet! There is God’s work going on in the material world, and there is God’s work going on in the spiritual world. And what we want to do is to persuade our readers not so constantly to put the two in opposition, as though, while the progress of grace is exclusively God’s work, material progress were quite as exclusively man’s work—to say nothing of those who hold it to be the devil’s work.

When the three Persons of the ever blessed Trinity said, “Let us make man,” it was with the expressed intention that he should have dominion over the whole earth—“universæ terræ.” That constitution of man as the lord of creation was not annulled when man fell. It [Pg 261] is true that it became a dominion he had to contest with the beasts of the forest, who were originally to have been his willing slaves; with the thorns and thistles that ever since bar his passage; and with the convulsions of nature, to the secret harmonies of which he had lost the key; while the angelic guardians of the cosmos could not hold intercourse with him in his degraded state, who, although they be “ministering spirits,” are so in secret only, until the time shall come for their promised mission upon earth. Nevertheless man was a monarch still, though a fallen monarch. Or rather we should say that, as redeemed man, he is God’s viceroy; and in that character is reconquering the material world, that as the ages roll on the church, the spouse of Jesus, may “lengthen her cords and strengthen her stakes.”[85]

Materialism is no necessary consequence of material progress. Scientific discovery, whether as regards the solar system, the dynamic forces, chemical affinities, or the properties of the world’s flora, the habits of its fauna and the uses to which all these may be put, is—next to the development of theological truth, of which in a certain sense, as will one day be proved, it is the correlative—the highest gift of God. It is simply man’s fulfilment of his second and inferior mission upon earth. His first mission, or rather his vocation, is to save his soul from sin, and to live in union with his God. His second is to fill the one spot, be it wide or narrow, which God has assigned him in the creation with all the faculties of his mind and intellect. It may be a very small, a scarcely discernible spot that he occupies; but in his degree he too has to conquer his territorial inch and govern in the creation, though he do so but as a shepherd or a ploughman. We are conscious as we write this of all that may be said in detriment of material progress, of the luxury it leads to, of the rapid propagation of false opinions, evil literature, and irreligious thought; or of the increased facilities for the wholesale slaughter of mankind in modern warfare. No wonder the pure-minded shrink in dismay from much that material progress appears to be producing in the world, and that timid souls are led to believe that such progress not only is not God’s work, but (if we may make this distinction) is also not his intention. We would entreat all such to take courage from a few considerations which will lay before them their error in principle, and also give them a wider view of God’s merciful designs in his own creation.

First, it may be assumed that, as the Almighty has not abdicated his providential government of the world in favor of the powers of darkness, therefore no great and wide-spread movement takes place amongst the children of men without its having an ultimate end for good. We do not believe that evil is to win the day. We utterly refuse to give credit to those who look upon the Lord of Hosts as vanquished in the end, and upon the personal Lucifer, and the principle of evil which he embodies and represents, as going off the field with a crowd of prisoners who will far outnumber the armies of the Lord. This desponding about the triumphs of grace is the residuum of Protestantism. It is the melancholy of sectarianism. It is not in accordance with the teaching of the church; she who is forever lifting [Pg 262] up her eyes unto the hills from whence cometh her help. The church which is built on the Incarnation, which is fed with the Eucharistic Sacrifice, and which owns as her queen the woman “clothed with the sun,” “terrible as an army with banners,” does not limit her hopes to a few sheep scattered in the wilderness, but knows that the “cattle on a thousand hills” also belong to her Lord and Master.

We have no wish to palliate the evil which dogs the footsteps of modern progress. We see that, like the huge behemoth, it tears down many a sacred barrier, many a hallowed landmark, with its gigantic strides, and we mourn with our mother the church, and with all the body of the faithful, over the souls that perish in the fray. But not even for this is it possible to doubt the ultimate designs of God’s providence in making all work together for good.

Good works through evil, not as its instrument but as its vanquished enemy; and material and scientific progress is so certainly a good in itself that it arises from and forms part of the development of man’s original destination, as being lord over the creation. It is the necessary result of that; consequently it is a fulfilment of God’s will. As to its fatal, or at least deleterious, moral effects on individuals, or even for a time on the multitude, this is but the weaving of the dark woof into the web of man’s existence, which is the result of man’s estrangement from God, but which, neither in this nor in any other form, will be allowed ultimately to defraud the Almighty of his glory, by turning a relative, and much less a positive, good into positive evil. We see the beginning; we do not see the end, save by the eyes of faith, and trust in the goodness of God. We are looking out on the world through the small aperture of time, our own limited time, our own individual brief life, and thus we see all the present evil, and but little, and occasionally nothing, of the future good. But surely as Christians we are bound to believe that no waves of thought or sentiment, and no sustained and wide-spread effort of any kind, take possession of mankind without a special beneficial intention of God’s providence, and without a distinct and absolute good being their ultimate result. We bow our heads to the storm of the elements; we accept the flood and the hurricane, and even the pestilence, as coming by the permission of our heavenly Father, and as in some way working for good. And shall we behold the moral and intellectual activity of man scanning the high heavens, searching the deep bosom of the earth, snatching from nature her most hidden secrets; seeking the principles of life, and the occult laws of development and progression; shall we watch wonderingly the strange, new, and pathetic tenderness with which men are beginning to appreciate and investigate the whole world of creation inferior to themselves, but holding perchance in its silent and patient existence secrets important to us—shall we behold all this, while our hearts burn within us, and not intimately and intently believe that God is carrying on his work, while man seems only to be following his own free will in the exercise of his intellect? Let us be larger hearted and more trusting with our God; nor for a moment suppose that the reins of government have fallen from his hands, or that passing evil will not terminate in greater good. The darkest hour is ever the one before the dawn. Doubtless when the eagles [Pg 263] of Rome sped victorious over the vast and crowded plains of the Gaul and the Frank there were gentle spirits left at home who, having kept themselves pure by the undiscerned aid of the grace which our heavenly Father never refuses to men of good will, grieved that the corruption of Roman luxury should infiltrate its poison into the simple lives of the semi-barbarous and valorous nations. And yet, but for these victorious eagles what would the world be now?

God brings good out of evil; and though material progress is seldom a real advantage at its first advent, yet when the moral excitement of its early possession has subsided, when the ever living, ever penetrating spirit of God has gradually, through the poor human instruments he condescends to use, claimed all that man can know, do, or acquire, as belonging to himself in the great scheme of creation and redemption, then, by slow degrees perhaps, but by sure ones, the evil gives way to good. It rests with us to hasten the appropriation of all that men call progress, gathering into Peter’s net the large and the small fishes; for it is all ours. As children of the church, to us alone does the world belong in the ultimate and supreme sense. It is our fault if we are not more rapidly converting the raw material which is swept to our feet into increments of God’s glory. It rests with the church in her children to make what the world calls progress become a real progress.

There is no real progress without a fixed principle as its basis and starting point. And that Christianity alone can give; and chiefly Christianity in its only full and perfect form, the Catholic Church. By Christianity we mean the fear and the love of God, with all the pure moral results which flow therefrom. The moral law is the first law, and material progress is not a real gain until it is married to the moral law. The immediate consequence of material progress is to increase wealth; and the immediate result of increased wealth is a doubtful benefit. While the wealth remains in the hands of the few, the gulf between rich and poor is widened and animosities increased. When first it percolates into the lower strata of society, for the time it exercises thereon a demoralizing effect; for the tendency of a vast deal of material progress, and of its resulting modern institutions and modern customs, is to sap real happiness, and substitute a fictitious excitement based on wealth and luxury. We are thus forever eating the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. The bitter and the sweet will grow together till God shall part them. But the evolutions of the eternal years gradually reconquer the crude materials to the cause which must ultimately triumph; and as the spirit of God moves over the face of the troubled waters the discordant social elements fall into place, and a further degree of the real, true, moral progress of mankind is found to harmonize with the material progress that man was so proud to have gained, and which when he did so was but the coarse though precious ore which waited to be purified in the crucible of the divine law.

Is there any sane man now living who really regrets the invention of printing? We have heard the project of a railroad in China deprecated by a zealous friend to truth. It will carry our merchandise; but will it not also carry our priests? We remember when men said murders would increase because London was [Pg 264] to be lit with gas! Do these sincere-hearted men really think that man is working out solely his own will, and that an evil will, in all this heavy tramp of material progress through God’s world? Is not man fulfilling his destiny of conquering the world; and when he has done his part, albeit done too often in blind and arrogant ignorance, will not the rightful owner of the vineyard come and claim the whole?

It is impossible for us to be slack in the exercise of any one virtue without the omission affecting the whole of our inner and spiritual life. If we allow our hopes to sink low it is certain to affect our faith; and if our faith, then also our love. Nor should we forget that it is “according to our faith that it shall be done unto us.” We are not seconding God’s precious intentions towards us so long as we are taking a desponding, narrow, and unaspiring view of what are likely to be his intentions as regards