The Project Gutenberg EBook of Catholic World, Vol. 17, April, 1873 to
September, 1873, by Various

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Title: Catholic World, Vol. 17, April, 1873 to September, 1873
       A Monthly Magazine of General Literature and Science

Author: Various

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Language: English

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General Literature and Science.


APRIL, 1873, TO SEPTEMBER, 1873.

9 Warren Street.




“Abraham”—“Abron”—“Auburn,” 234

Abuse of Diplomatic Authority, An, 130

Antiquities of the Law, 69

Appeal to Workingmen, 751

Art, Necessity versus, 558

Art Pilgrimage through Rome, An, 808

Bolanden’s The Russian Idea, 27, 161

Bolanden’s The Trowel or the Cross, 308, 473

Bread-Winner, Woman as a, 223

Brittany: Its People and its Poems, 252, 537

Bruté, Memoirs of the Rt. Rev. S. G., 711

Casgrain’s The Canadian Pioneers, 687

Casgrain’s Picture of the Rivière Ouelle, 103

Chapman’s The Evolution of Life, 145

Charlevoix, Shea’s, 721

Charities, Public, 1

Chartres, 834

Church and State in Germany, 513

Civilization? What is, 486

Conciliar Decrees on the Holy Scriptures, 195

Country Life in England, 319

Darwinism, More about, 641

Dick Cranstone, 392

Diplomatic Authority, An Abuse of, 130

Domestic Festivities, English, 630

Dubois’ Madame Agnes, 78, 182, 330, 446, 591, 731

Early Marriage, 839

Education, Home, 91

Empire, The, 606

England, Country Life in, 319

English Domestic Festivities, 630

Erckmann-Chatrian, Mme. Jeannette’s Papers, 566

Error Rectified, An, 144

Evening at Chamblay, An, 765

Evolution of Life, The, 145

Fiske’s Myths and Myth-Makers, 209

Fontainebleau, 241, 382

For Better—For Worse, 257, 408

Germany, Church and State in, 513

Grapes and Thorns, 362, 498, 655, 792

Heaven, 220

Holy Scriptures, Conciliar Decrees on the, 195

Home Education, 91

Indians of Ysléta, The, 422

Jerome Savonarola, 289, 433, 577

Jesuits in Paris, The, 701

John Baptist de Rossi, and his Archæological Works, 272

Joseph in Egypt, a Type of Christ, 77

Koche, King of Pitt, 545

Lace, Something about, 56

Laughing Dick Cranstone, 392

Law, Antiquities of the, 69

Legend of S. Christopher, A, 278

Legend of S. Martin, A, 137

Life, The Evolution of, 145

Madame Agnes, 78, 182, 330, 446, 591, 731

Madame Jeannette’s Papers, 566

Marriage, Early, 839

Memoirs of a Good French Priest, 711

Middlemarch and Fleurange, 775

More about Darwinism, 641

My Cousin’s Introduction, 171

Myths and Myth-Mongers, 209

Necessity versus Art, 558

Palais Royal, The, 113

Paris, The Jesuits in, 701

Peace, 157

People and Poems of Brittany, 252, 537

Philosophical Terminology, 463

Picture of the Rivière Ouelle, The, 103

Poet and Martyr, 40

Political Principle for the Social Restoration of France, The, 348

Present Greatness of the Papacy, The, 400

Public Charities, 1

Ramière’s The Political Principle of the Social Restoration of France, 348

Records of a Ruin, The, 113

Reminiscence of San Marco, A, 707

Rome, An Art Pilgrimage through, 808

Rossi, John Baptist de, and his Archæological Works, 272

Russian Idea, The, 27, 161

Sales, S. Francis de, 171

San Marco: A Reminiscence, 707

Savonarola, Jerome, 289, 433, 577

Scholars en Déshabillé, 844

Shakespearian Excursus, A, 234

Shea’s Charlevoix, 721

Something about Lace, 56

Southwell, F. Robert, 40

Stories of Two Worlds, The, 775

Terminology, Philosophical, 463

Travellers and Travelling, 676, 822

Trowel or the Cross, The, 308, 473

Unity, 307

What is Civilization? 486

Woman as a Bread-Winner, 223

Workingmen, Appeal to, 751

Ysléta, The Indians of, 422


Angel and the Child, The, 570

Beati qui Lugent, 271

Christe’s Childhoode, 472

Dante’s Purgatorio, 24, 158, 304

Dies Iræ, 221

Marriage Song, 462

May Carol, A, 407

Mother of God, 710

Music, 807

Sonnet: The Poetry of the Future, 399

Sonnet: To the Pillar at S. Paul’s, Rome, 590

Sonnet: To the Ruins of Emania, 750

Temple, The, 764

To a Child, 426

To a Friend, 497

To be Forgiven, 821

To the Sacred Heart, 536

Virgin Mary, The, to Christ on the Crosse, 39



Augustine, S., Harmony of the Evangelists, etc., 855

Augustine, S., On the Trinity, 855

Alcott’s Aunt Jo’s Scrap-Book, 142

Amulet, The, 575

Bagshawe’s Threshold of the Catholic Church, 572

Bateman’s Ierne of Armorica, 427

Begin’s La Primauté et l’Infaillibilité des Souveraines Pontifes, etc., 576

Bolanden’s, The Progressionists, and Angela, 281

Brady’s Irish Reformation, 573

Brady’s State Papers on the Irish Church, 573

Brann’s Truth and Error, 142

Brothers of the Christian Schools during the War, The, 430

Burke’s Lectures and Sermons, 718

Caddell’s Wild Times, 284

Catechism of the Holy Rosary, 428

Church Defence, 280

Conscience’s The Amulet, 575

Conscience’s The Fisherman’s Daughter, 575

Constance and Marion, 432

Deaf Mute, The, 288

Devere’s Modern Magic, 575

Directorium Sacerdotale, 574

Doctrine of Hell, 571

Donnelly’s Out of Sweet Solitude, 720

Ernscliff Hall, 288

Elements of Philosophy, 427

Estcourt’s Anglican Ordinations, 856

Filiola, 288

Fisherman’s Daughter, The, 575

Formby’s Catechism of the Holy Rosary, 428

Garside’s The Prophet of Carmel, 858

Gaume’s Sign of the Cross in the XIXth Century, 429

Gaume’s Suema, 428

God Our Father, 143

Greatorex’s Homes of Ober-Ammergau, 288

Hare’s Memorials of a Quiet Life, 431

Herbert’s Wilfulness, 285

Hill’s Elements of Philosophy, 427

Humphrey’s Mary magnifying God, 428

Hundred Meditations on the Love of God, A, 574

Ierne of Armorica, 427

Illustrated Catholic Sunday-School Library, 430

Isabelle de Verneuil, 430

King and the Cloister, The, 430

Laboulaye’s Poodle Prince, 431

Landroit’s Sins of the Tongue, 719

Landroit’s The Valiant Woman, 858

Life and Letters of a Sister of Charity, 142

Life of Dorié, 281

Life of Vénard, 281

Limerick Veteran, 719

Lunt’s Old New England Traits, 720

McGee’s Sketches of Irish Soldiers, 860

Mary magnifying God, 428

Marshall’s Church Defence, 280

Marshall’s My Clerical Friends, 138

Meditations on the Blessed Virgin, 860

Meline’s Two Thousand Miles on Horseback, 286

Meyrick’s Life of S. Walburge, 855

Mericourt’s Vivia Perpetua, 575

Money God, The, 282

Mulloy’s A Visit to Louise Lateau, 574

Munro’s Lectures on Old Testament History, 858

Nesbits, The, 283

Old New England Traits, 720

Only a Pin, 574

Out of Sweet Solitude, 720

Palma’s Particular Examen, 860

Peter’s Journey, etc., 285

Potter’s Rupert Aubrey, 859

Primauté, La, et l’Infaillibilité des Souveraines Pontifes, etc., 576

Proceedings of the Convention of the Irish Catholic Benevolent Union, 287

Progressionists, The, and Angela, 281

Quinton’s The Money God, 282

Reverse of the Medal, The, 288

Sainte-Germaine’s Only a Pin, 574

Sermons for all the Sundays and Festivals of the Year, 428

Sign of the Cross in the XIXth Century, 429

Snell’s Isabelle de Verneuil, 430

Sœur Eugénie, 142

Southwell’s Meditations, 574

Stewart’s Limerick Veteran, 719

Suema, 428

Sunday-School Library, 430

Sweeney’s Sermons, 428

Taylor’s Lars, 430

Thebaud’s The Irish Race, 432, 718

Thompson’s Hawthorndean, 430

Threshold of the Catholic Church, 572

Truth and Error, 142

Two Thousand Miles on Horseback, 286

Valuy’s Directorium Sacerdotale, 574

Visit to Louise Lateau, A, 574

Walworth and Burr, Doctrine of Hell, 571

Wild Times, 284

Wilfulness, 285

Winged Word, A, etc., 572

Wiseman’s Essays, 431, 575

Wiseman’s Lectures on the Church, 143




VOL. XVII., No. 97.—APRIL, 1873.

Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1873, by Rev. I. T. Hecker, in the Office of the Librarian of Congress, at Washington, D. C.


Modern civilization has no higher or more important question to deal with than that of ameliorating the condition of the poor, the unfortunate, the ignorant, and the vicious. Governments are and can be engaged in no more appalling work than that of legislating wisely in regard to these classes, and in seeing that not only are their inevitable wants provided for and the public interests protected, but also that their rights are secured in fact as well as in theory, and that the instruments employed in these exalted spheres of public administration are suited to their purpose, and are guarded against degenerating from means of amelioration into agencies of oppression, cruelty, and injustice.

There are two chief motives which lead to the care and provision for the unfortunate members of the social body—charity on the one side, and philanthropy on the other. Religion inspires every motive for this great and holy work, and of all the virtues which religion inspires, charity is the highest, purest, and best. Charity is the love of God, and of man for God’s sake. That God of charity has revealed to us that, of faith, hope, and charity, the greatest is charity; that he that giveth to the poor lendeth to the Lord; that he who performs works of charity to the least of the human race performs them ipso facto to the Lord, creator and ruler of the universe; and that the eternal doom of every human being at the last dread day will be decided by this great test. Christianity itself, like her divine founder, is charity. The church of God, like her Lord and Spouse, is charity. She is imbued with and reflects his divine essence, which is charity. Charity arises from no statute or arbitrary decree, which might or might not be made according to the option of the legislator; it is the essence and motive of all good. It exists in the very nature of things. And as the love of God by man is the first and necessary relation of the creature to the Creator, and as our fellow-creatures exist from God, and[2] in and by him, it is only through God and in him that we love them. Thus charity is no human sentiment or affection, like philanthropy or the natural love of our neighbor and brother; it is a supernatural virtue, springing from God, and sustained by his grace. The man who does not love his neighbor cannot love God, but rejects his love and violates the first law of his being. Every word and act of our divine Saviour, while engaged on earth in establishing his church, proves this, if there be need of external proof. Even after his work on earth was done, and he had ascended to his Father, he speaks to us through the mouth of S. Paul: “If I speak with the tongues of men and angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass and a tinkling cymbal. And if I have prophecy, and know all mysteries, and all knowledge, and have all faith, so I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing. And if I should distribute all my goods to feed the poor, and should give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.”[1]

Philanthropy, on the other hand, is the love of man for the sake of man; in other words, humanitarianism. It is a human affection springing from natural motives. To alleviate human sufferings, and promote human pleasures and enjoyments, are its aims. Its object is the body rather than the soul, earth rather than heaven, time rather than eternity. Its motive power is sentiment or feeling rather than reason or religion. It is a sensitiveness to all human suffering, because suffering or pain is repulsive to human nature. Philanthropy is a virtue in the natural order, springing from human motives, and not a supernatural virtue springing from religious motives and inspired by divine grace. Philanthropy is good in itself, for our human nature still remains; nature and grace are not antagonistic, and may co-exist; nature is dependent on grace to raise it to the supernatural state and transform it into charity. Charity includes philanthropy, as the greater includes the lesser. Philanthropy without charity is earthly in its aims, frequently rash and sometimes unjust in its measures, tyrannical in the exercise of power, and not unfrequently barren in its results.

Now, the church and the state are the organized representatives of these two virtues, the divine and the human. The church is a divine kingdom, and cultivates the divine virtue of charity; the state is a human kingdom, and cultivates the human virtue of philanthropy. The church is a supernatural body, and practises the supernatural virtue of charity; the state exists in the natural order, and practises the natural sentiment of philanthropy. The church is of heaven, and her greatest jewel, charity, is of heaven; the state is of earth, and the greatest of her merits is philanthropy, which is of earthly birth. The church is eternal, so is charity; the state is temporal, as is philanthropy. The church is of God, God is charity, so the church is charity; the state is of man, so is philanthropy. The rewards of the one are eternal; of the other, temporal. Charity is a Christian virtue, and can violate no other Christian virtue in adopting her measures; she cannot make the end justify the means; but philanthropy is a human virtue, and stops at no means necessary to attain its end. Abuses are not necessarily the results of philanthropy, for philanthropy, guided by even human reason, is capable of respecting the rights of God and men, and, when guided[3] by supernatural grace, is exalted to charity.[2]

What we have chiefly to deal with in this article are institutions of benevolence, which are either wholly public property, and such as, though conducted either by private individuals or by incorporated boards of citizen managers, yet receive large shares of the public funds for their foundation, buildings, or current support, and thus become, to that extent, public institutions, and as such liable to be inquired into and criticised by the state and its citizens who pay the taxes thus expended.

The state in our times and in almost every country undertakes the restraint and custody of the persons of idiots, lunatics, drunkards, and other persons of unsound mind, for their safety; of paupers, for their maintenance; and of minors, unprovided with natural guardians, for purposes of their education, reformation, and maintenance. It is not for us to discuss at length in this article the right of the state in any country to educate and reform minors, or, in other words, to assume the place of teacher and priest; for it cannot undertake to educate without assuming the place of teacher, and still less can the state undertake the work of reformation without usurping the sacred functions of the sacerdotal office. Our faith, our reason, and our convictions teach us that such offices belong not to the state, but to the church. The state can establish places of restraint and punishment, and support and maintain them, both for the protection of the public, for the safety of the individuals themselves, and for purposes of philanthropy. Having done this, it is the duty of the state to leave free the consciences of its wards and prisoners, and to give every facility to the ministers of every church and religious persuasion to have free and unrestricted access to the children and prisoners belonging to those respective churches or persuasions. We claim this for ourselves as Catholics, and we leave the sects, the Jews, and every other society of religionists to claim the same for themselves. We are willing to make common cause with them for the attainment of our rights. That it is a charity for the state, or, more correctly speaking, a work of humanity, to assume the temporal care and provision for those unfortunate members of society who, either by their own fault, by the visitation of Providence, or by misfortune, are unable to take care of themselves, we are not disposed to deny at present, though even this belongs primarily to the religious duties of the individual, and, therefore, comes within the province of the church; and we know how well the church discharged this duty before the Reformation, and is doing it now. Yet we do not deny to the sects, to all men, and to the state, the right to perform good deeds and to practise the broadest philanthropy. Such at least seems to be one of the accepted works of government. We therefore accept such institutions and works as we find them, and we will view them in the same light in which our fellow-citizens generally regard them. As citizens, as Americans, we feel the same interest in them, experience the[4] same pride in them, and, as a question of property and public right, we hold them as a common heritage, in which we have the same interest and authority as our fellow-citizens. We are, therefore, equally interested in their proper management and good government, and we yield to none in our desire to promote their prosperity and success. There is no part of public administration more sacred or important, no function of the state so momentous, no public responsibility so awful, as this. Accepting them, as we do, as a part of our common property and united work, we shrink not from any effort for their good government and success, and, if need be, for their improvement, reformation, and correction. When properly conducted, we have nothing but praise for them; and if, on the other hand, they are mismanaged, the funds extravagantly applied; if they are made the instruments of cruelty, perversion, or despotism; if in them or any of them religious liberty is violated, and systems of proselytizing are carried on against Catholic children, or the children of the sects, or those of the Jewish Church, we as Catholics and as American citizens will speak out freely and boldly in denouncing them. We are not disqualified from doing this, either as citizens or Catholics; not as citizens, because they belong to us as much as to other citizens; our money is there with that of others; and the Constitution gives us liberty of speech and of the press, and guarantees to us “the right to assemble and petition for the redress of grievances”;[3] not as Catholics, for we have as such the experience of eighteen hundred years of the most exalted works of charity; and because we claim for ourselves no special privilege over others, but are willing to concede to all what we claim for ourselves. No clamor will deter us from the exercise of this right, or from the performance of this duty. And whilst we cannot yield our rights to any one sect of Protestantism, we are equally determined, while respecting the rights of all Protestants, not to yield our constitutional rights to all the sects of Protestantism combined under the false and deceptive name of unsectarianism. We do not believe in ex-parte and sham investigations of public abuses in respect to public institutions, and we do not belong to, and are determined not to be deluded by, whitewashing committees of investigation and amiable grand juries. We are ever ready to praise, yet we shrink not from administering censure.

The theory upon which governmental institutions are founded, and those established by private citizens or boards are assisted is, that of protecting society from a large, idle, ignorant, vicious population, by providing the means for the temporal relief and social improvement and correction of these classes, so as to bring them to the age of self-support in the case of children, to punish criminals, relieve the poor, and thus gradually return them all to society as sober, enlightened, honest, industrious, and thrifty citizens. For these purposes heavy taxes are laid on the citizens, immense piles of buildings are erected at the public expense, and such institutions are annually maintained or aided at enormous cost to the people. In our November, 1872, number, while admitting and praising the philanthropic motive which sustains these institutions, we regarded them “as really nuisances of the worst kind, so far as Catholic children are concerned, on account[5] of their proselytizing character. Moreover,” we said, “in their actual workings they violate the rights both of parents and children, and we have evidence that these poor children are actually sold at the West, both by private sale and by auction. The horrible abuses existing in some state institutions are partly known to the public, and we have the means of disclosing even worse things than those which have recently been exposed in the public papers.” It is difficult to perceive the success of such institutions as ameliorating or reformatory agents, for our public press is loaded every day with evidences of the enormous increase of crime and pauperism, and with dissertations on the causes of such increase. The public are naturally slow in believing that such institutions, upon which so much treasure has been spent, are failures. Such a reflection is an unpalatable one; it is humiliating to our pride, and damaging to the boasted progress of the XIXth century. It crushes our self-esteem to know that, of all places needing correction, our Houses of Correction need correction most; and that, of all institutions calling for the stern hand of reform, there are none that need so much reformation as our schools of reform. A religious paper called The Christian Union has given strong proof of its dislike to have the public eyes opened to these unpalatable truths, and we do not think we should have returned so soon to this subject but for a rather disingenuous article in that paper, couched in terms not calculated to convince the public that it derived its name from the practice or spirit of the virtue of Christian union, which, while challenging us to expose these wrongs and abuses, declared but too great a willingness to believe “that these charges, so frequently made in Roman Catholic journals, have already received thorough investigation and perfect refutation.”

We complain that our Catholic children in institutions which are supported in whole or in part by public funds—funds, therefore, in which we have a common property with our fellow-citizens—instead of being allowed the instruction and practice of their Catholic religion, are taught Protestantism in its, to us, most offensive form, and are thus exposed to the almost certain loss of their faith. The facts upon which we base the charge have never been denied, but, on the contrary, they are openly admitted and announced. Protestants deny that they proselytize Catholic children so as to make them members of any distinctive sect, but they admit that Catholic teaching and practices are rigidly excluded, and yet that the children are taught a certain religion. Is it not evident that, if such religious instruction produces any result, it is to make these children cease to be Catholics, to become non-Catholics, to take the Bible as their only rule of faith, to reject the infallible teachings of their own church, and to accept the teachings of the institutions as all that is necessary for them to know? This is proselytism of the most offensive kind; our children are either made liberal Christians, or are placed in circumstances which inevitably lead to their joining one or other of the distinctive forms of Protestantism or lose all religion whatever. Wherever a chaplain is employed, he is either a Methodist minister, such as Rev. Mr. Pierce in the New York House of Refuge, or he is a Baptist, Episcopalian, or other sectarian minister. In many of these institutions, the religious instruction is under the direction of a lay superintendent, as in the Providence School of Reform. And here[6] we beg to give a piece of testimony showing how incompetent laymen are for religious instruction in public reformatories. The witness under examination was at the time one of the trustees of the Providence Reform School:

“Q. Have you any knowledge in relation to the distribution of religious books among the pupils, and their being taken away?

“A. I don’t of my own knowledge; I furnished once one book of a religious character, and one only; I furnished it to the officer having in charge the devotional exercises on the girls’ side; I gave that to the officer for his own use; it was given to him in consequence of considerable religious feeling that there was existing among the girls at the time; the girls were holding among themselves what they called prayer-meetings; the gentleman having in charge the devotional exercises said he felt utterly incompetent to conduct the devotions in suitable words,” etc.

Religious liberty is openly and positively denied in the New York House of Refuge, as will be seen from their own “Report of Special Committee to the Managers of the House of Refuge,” 1872; from which it appears, at pp. 21, 22, that the religion of the house consists in “Christian worship in simple form, and Gospel lessons in Sunday-schools,” and that the “inmates are brought into the same chapel for public worship,” and that “the whole regimen of the house,” including of course the religious part, “is devised and pursued with careful attention to the wants of the inmates, but is not submitted to the control of themselves or their friends.” As Americans we have been taught from our infancy that liberty of conscience is the dearest right of the American citizen. We learned in our college days that even “Congress shall make no law respecting the establishment of a religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof”; but we now learn that what the highest legislative power in the nation, and what no state legislature, can do, the managers of the New York House of Refuge have done and are now doing: they have made a law respecting the establishment of a religion in the House of Refuge, a public institution—a religion which they have called variously “Christian worship in simple form,” “Gospel lessons,” “Unsectarianism,” “The Broad Principles of Christianity”—and have forbidden the free exercise of any other religion. Even if all Christians were united in this worship and in these principles, have Jewish citizens no rights under the Constitution? As citizens of the State of New York, we have learned from the state constitution and Bill of Rights “that the free exercise and practice of religious profession and worship without discrimination or preference shall for ever be allowed to all mankind.” Chancellor Kent, in his Commentaries on American Law, says that “the free exercise and enjoyment of religious profession and worship may be considered as one of the absolute rights of individuals, recognized in our American constitutions and secured to them by law.”[4] And Story, in his Commentaries on the Constitution, maintains in equally strong terms “the freedom of public worship according to the dictates of one’s conscience.”[5]

But we are now told by the Managers of the House of Refuge that “delinquency has, under the law, worked some forfeiture of rights, and that neither the delinquents nor their friends for them can justly claim, while under sentence of the courts, equal freedom with the rest of the community who have not violated the law.”[6] Such was the[7] answer given by American citizens, constituting the Board of Managers of the New York House of Refuge, to the committee of American citizens sent by the Catholic Union to demand liberty of conscience and freedom of religious worship for the Catholic children in the Refuge! Either this answer means that the children in the House of Refuge are not a portion of mankind, or that religious freedom is one of the rights forfeited by delinquency, or the Board of Managers have proclaimed themselves guilty of the grossest violation of the rights of man and of God. We presume these gentlemen will not admit either the first or the third of these alternatives; indeed, they almost say in terms that a commitment to the House of Refuge works a forfeiture of that religious liberty guaranteed to all mankind. We know delinquency under the law suspends the civil rights of the delinquent while in prison, such as the right to hold public office or administer a private trust; but it does not work even a forfeiture of property except in the case of an outlawry of treason. These are all the forfeitures worked by the highest crimes known to the law. Religion is not a civil right; no crime can forfeit it; no power on earth can extinguish it. The greatest of public malefactors, the murderer and the traitor, enjoy it even on the scaffold: does the child whose only offence is poverty or vagrancy forfeit it? In the sacred names of Liberty and Religion, what sort of Refuge is this to stand on American soil?

The Children’s Aid Society is another New York institution largely supported by public funds. We learn from its Nineteenth Annual Report, 1871, that one of its objects is to shelter in its lodging-houses the orphan and the homeless girls and boys, and labor incessantly to give them the “foundation ideas of morals and religion” (p. 5). Alluding to the Italian School, No. 44 Franklin Street, the report says: “We have conquered the prejudices and superstition of ignorance, and converted into useful citizens hundreds of this unfortunate class.” With such a programme of unsectarian conversion, the leading feature in which is indifferentism in religion, the immediate forerunner of infidelity and agrarianism, it is no wonder that the report immediately proceeds: “So much so, indeed, that the Italian government,” that same godless government which is so ferociously waging war on Catholicity, “has taken a deep interest in our institution” (p. 28).

It is only necessary to read these reports to be convinced that the system either leads to materialism, the religion of worldly prosperity and thrifty citizenship, or to some form of Protestant sectarianism. The system of “emigration” pursued by such institutions, by which children are sent out West and placed with anybody and everybody who will take them, completes the work commenced in the East. On pages 54-56 of the report last quoted is related the case of a youth sent East, who “cannot speak of his parents with any certainty at all”; it matters not what religion they were of, the son is now preparing for the ministry of one of the sects. His letter also recites a similar case in reference to another boy “who was sent out West.” It is certain that he is not preparing for the Catholic ministry, for his impressions of a miracle are thus expressed: “To be taken from the gutters of New York City and placed in a college is almost a miracle.” The story of young “Patrick,” p. 59, whose education was obtained at the Preparatory School at Oberlin and at[8] Cornell University, is significant. On page 60 is told the story of an Irish orphan girl sent to Connecticut, and placed with “an intelligent Christian woman, who means to do right.” On page 63 is told the history of a little boy sent to Michigan, who is well pleased with toys and new clothes, “like all other children; he has a splendid new suit of clothes just got, and he attends church and Sabbath-school.” A similar case is related at page 65, of a little girl sent to Ohio, and we shall show below what has become of little girls sent to that state. These are some of the model cases of which this unsectarian society makes a boast in its report. It is a significant fact that, of the 8,835 who came under the influences of this society in one year, 3,312 were of Irish birth, and it may be estimated with certainty that a considerable proportion of the other children of foreign, as well as many of home birth were Catholics. The number of children born in Ireland who were sent West during the year was 1,058. This institution received for the furtherance of these unsectarian objects the sum of $66,922.70 in this year from our public funds.

We have also before us the Twentieth Annual Report of the New York Juvenile Asylum, 1871, which proves the proselytizing character of this public-pap-fed unsectarian institution. “The children that are entrusted to us are at the most susceptible period of life,” etc., “when their destiny for time, if not for eternity, may be fixed” (p. 9). “They must be drilled into systematic habits of life in eating, sleeping, play, study, work, and worship” (p. 10). To “attend church” (p. 21), and “the evening worship,” and religious services generally, are frequently recurring duties of the children. In this institution the children of foreign birth during the year were 3,648, and of these 1,981 were born in Ireland. Of course we cannot say how many of the children of home birth were the children of Irish and Catholic parents. We have, alas! but too much certainty that a large proportion of the children are Catholic. We casually met recently with an interesting proof of this in Scribner’s Magazine, November, 1870, in an account given by a visitor to the Juvenile Asylum. In the evening the visitor was invited to see the girls’ dormitory as the girls were going to bed. She writes: “All the children were saying their prayers. I noticed that several of them made the sign of the cross as they rose.” Touching evidence of their traditional faith and parental teaching! a simple but sublime tribute to holy church! an earnest sign of love and hope for those sacraments which came to us through the cross, but which, like that cross itself, were not a part of the religion, worship, and practice of this unsectarian asylum.

In the list of model examples presented in the report of the Western agent will be seen the usual proselytizing influence of such institutions. The cases either show mere material or worldly advantage, or the embrace of pure sectarianism. On page 50 is related the case of a little girl, who “scarcely remembers her parents,” of whom it is related that “she is a member of the Presbyterian Church.” Two other girls are indentured to members of the Methodist Episcopal Church. The “church and Sunday-school” are prominent features in nearly every case. The amount received during the year by this unsectarian institution from our public funds was $62,065.24..

The Five Points House of Industry, which received, from 1858 to 1869, the sum of $30,731.69. from our Board of Education, states in[9] its charter, among the objects for which it was incorporated, the following: “III. To imbue the objects of its care with the pure principles of Christianity, as revealed in the Holy Scriptures, without bias from the distinctive peculiarities of any individual sect.” This means that the children belonging to distinctive religious denominations, instead of being allowed to follow the distinctive tenets, and practise the worship, in which they were reared, are deprived of this right, and, as respects the Catholic children, they are to reject and exclude every tenet and devotion distinctively Catholic. How far even this profession of unsectarianism is carried into practice will be discovered from the Monthly Record of the Five Points House of Industry for April and May, 1870, p. 302, giving an account of the dedicatory exercises:

“The services consisted of an opening anthem by the children, followed by a prayer by Rev. Dr. Paxton, asking a blessing upon the House and its objects.

“This was followed by a hymn; a statement of the affairs of the institution, by Rev. S. B. Halliday; a recitative by the children; a statement as to city missions, by Rev. G. J. Mingins; a short discourse on the ‘Union of Christian Effort,’ by Rev. H. D. Ganse; a discourse on the ‘Lights and Shadows of Large Cities,’ by Rev. John Hall, D.D.; and, finally, a roundelay given by the children.”

How far the pledge given in the charter of this establishment, “without bias from the distinctive peculiarities of any individual sect,” is carried out is further seen from the following extract from a letter addressed by the president to the Rev. John Cotton Smith, a prominent minister of the Episcopalian sect: “Between your church and the institution the most kind and harmonious co-operation has ever existed. They will ever cherish a most pleasing remembrance of the relations that have subsisted between them.”[7]

We might have alluded to the “Howard Mission and Home for Little Wanderers,” founded by that arch-proselytizer, the Rev. W. C. Van Meter, which during seven years disposed of 7,580 “little wanderers” of this city, in an unsectarian manner; but want of space forbids our doing so. But the animus pervading this and other unsectarian institutions is exhibited to us now in the fact, that this reverend has transferred the field of his labors from the Five Points to the city of Rome, the centre and headquarters of Catholicity. He has there established a mission and home for the little Romans. We do not stand alone in our opinion that such institutions are nuisances for Catholic children, and we quote the closing words of a letter recently addressed to the Rev. Mr. Van Meter by the editor of the Voce della Verita, at Rome:

“Now, dear sir, excuse me if I remind you, that although a very ignorant person, ‘when I was a little boy,’ I also went to school, and learned a few things about your country. I remember to have heard it said that misery and ignorance abounded there, and that many hundreds of thousands of your compatriots knew of no other God than the almighty dollar. Why do you not go back and teach in Nebraska or Texas, and leave us alone? You might positively do some good there—now you are a—well, let me tell the truth—a nuisance. By your homeward voyage, you will benefit both your own country and ours.”[8]

Another complaint that we make against our semi-governmental charities relates to the violation of the rights of parents and children, in the sale of these children at the West. This pernicious practice of exiling and transporting children from New York to the West is still in full vigor[10] amongst these institutions. How can we boast of our charities, when their main feature consists in shifting the burden from our own shoulders to those of others, and they are strangers? It is in vain that we claim these children as the wards and protégés of society and of our city, if we repudiate the duties and responsibilities of our guardianship. Against this cruelty and injustice we protest in the names of civilization and Christianity. The institutions whose reports we have referred to not only admit, but they boast of this outrage upon the rights of parents and of children. One of them, the Children’s Aid Society, refers to this branch of operations, “its Emigration System,” as the “crown” of all its works. The number of children thus exiled from the state by this society and transported to distant regions, during the year of the report referred to, was 3,386; the whole number since 1854 was 25,215. More than half the 3,386 were sent to Ohio, and to the distant states of Illinois, Iowa, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Kansas, and Nebraska. Of one little boy thus exiled, who was separated from his parents at the age of eight years, the Western agent reports: “I think his mother would scarcely know him.” He reports that the mistress to whom another was “disposed of” writes of him: “Indeed, I don’t know what I should do without him, for he saves me a great many steps. I wish we could find out about his brother and sister, he often cries about them.”

Exile and transportation of children is also practised by the Five Points House of Industry. They have obtained extraordinary powers for this purpose from the Legislature. For while the Commissioners of Public Charities and Correction, a purely governmental institution, possess the power of indenturing children to citizens of the state of New York and adjoining states only, the Five Points House of Industry has received the power to send them anywhere and everywhere. But the Commissioners of Public Charities and Correction send the poor children they get into their power to the most remote states in violation of the express law of the case. For instead of confining their indentures to citizens of New York and the adjoining states, as the law directs, they send them indiscriminately to every state, even the most distant. We ask those public servants by what fiction of law they make California and Texas adjoin New York?

The New York Juvenile Asylum has also a “regular agency at Chicago, by which the work of indenturing children at the West is conducted.”[9] The total number of children sent West during fifteen years, from 1857 to 1871 inclusive, is 2,206, and the annual average, 147-1/15 (p. 47).

The extent to which this crowning cruelty of our non-sectarian institutions is carried, is appalling. We have only cited the cases of the three whose reports happened to be before us. But we have been informed, unofficially, and we think the statement can be made good, that there are in the city of New York no less than twenty-eight charitable institutions engaged in this cruel practice of transporting our New York children to the West and other remote parts, and the average number of these little exiles per week is about two hundred, making about ten thousand every year. What untold abuses and hardships must result from this barbarous practice! However noble, generous, and philanthropic may be the motives of the citizen-managers[11] of these institutions, they cannot attend in person to the details or even the general management of their work. Not only are their houses in the city confided to the management of hired and salaried agents and servants, but the work of transporting children to the West is confided generally to the same class of agents, and we intend to show how this charitable function is discharged. They are actuated by no higher motives than usually actuate their class. The love of God, and of man for God’s sake, is not the spirit that inspires their labors and guides their steps. Corruption and infidelity to duty have stalked brazenly into the public service everywhere; what reason have we for claiming an exemption in favor of those who find profitable employment in the administration of public charities?

But, as the Christian Union demands further proof than is accessible to the public, we will produce some additional evidence, although we think we have already shown enough to condemn this system; and the tone of that journal’s article leads us to believe that if an angel from heaven disclosed to its view the same corruption and oppression which we see in this branch of public administration, it would still cling to its idols.

Now we have before us a letter, dated September 23, 1872, addressed by a clergyman at Tiffin, Ohio, to a clergyman in the East, from which we quote:

“In answer to your request concerning those children brought on some four or five years ago from the East to be disposed of, I might say with prudence, that to several counties of Ohio had been brought car-loads of children from three years on to twelve and thirteen years old, and offered to the public to take one or more; for they who offered the children said those who would take them had to pay the expenses of bringing them to the place. For some children the man said the expense would be fifteen dollars, for others more, others less. This is the way the affair was carried on for some time.”

The gentleman to whom the foregoing letter was addressed, and who sent it to us, gives also his own testimony on this public traffic in innocent human beings. His letter is dated September 25, 1872, and reads as follows:

“At that time,” some four or five years ago, “I was on a trip to Tiffin. Delayed for a short time at Clyde, I asked some questions of the baggage-master. Three little girls were near him, and I asked him: ‘Are these your daughters?’ A. ‘No, I bought them?’ ‘Bought them! how? from whom?’ A. ‘Oh! from the ministers. They bring car-loads of these little ones every few weeks, and sell them to any one who wants them. I gave $10 for this one, $12 for the next, and $15 for the oldest. I had not the money, but I borrowed it from the tavern-keeper, and paid for the girls. Lately there was another load of them. There was a very fine girl. I wanted her. But the minister said, ‘No; I have promised her to a rich man in Forrest, who will pay more than you.’ After some further conversation of a similar character, the train came in sight, and I left. The next day I was speaking of the circumstance at table. Rev. Mr.—— remarked that he knew the baggage-master well, and that what he said was true. He added, ‘Within the last month there was a sale of some thirty of these children in our Court House. One of my parishioners, Mr.——, came along as the sale was about over. A little boy was standing before the Court House crying; the German asked him, ‘What is the matter?’ He said, ‘That man wants to sell me, and no one will buy me.’ The boy was bought by the German for $10. I had heard such transactions described in one of his lectures by F. Haskins. But I scarcely realized how fearful such conduct is until I heard a description of these sales from persons who had seen them.”

Such, indeed, is the “crowning” work of some of the charitable institutions[12] of New York! Is this the fulfilment of the Gospel of charity, or of the Sermon on the Mount, or of the broad principles of Christianity? Perhaps, rather, it is the Rev. Mr. Pierce’s elastic system of religion.[10] Compare these humiliating facts with the self-congratulatory reports on “Emigration” of the Children’s Aid Society, which in 1871 sent three hundred and seven of these little wards of the city to the same state of Ohio.[11] At page 10 we read:

“Every year we expect that the opposition of a very bigoted and ignorant class will materially lessen this the most effective of our charitable efforts. We have surpassed, however, owing to the energy of our Western agents, the results of every previous equal period, in the labors of the past year.

“Crowds of poor boys have thronged the office or have come to the lodging-houses for a ‘chance to go West’; great numbers of very destitute but honest families have appealed to us for this aid, and our agents have frequently conveyed parties of a hundred and more. The West has received these children liberally as before; and there has been less complaint the past year than usual of bad habits and perverse tempers. The larger boys are still restless as ever, and inclined to change their places where higher inducements are offered. But this characteristic they have in common with our whole laboring class.”


“Emigration.—This department has worked most successfully the past year. A larger number has been removed from the city than ever before.”

It would seem, however, that the experience of the New York Juvenile Asylum, though still persevering in this traffic as a good work, has not been as satisfactory as that of the Children’s Aid Society. We will give an extract from the Twentieth Annual Report, showing even from the mouths of those who practise it as a good work what a crying evil this is, and confirming the extracts we have given in reference to the sales of children in Ohio:

“Removing and replacing children is one of the important functions of the agency. Our children are first placed on trial, and in nearly every company some have to be replaced over and over again before they are permanently settled. But even after indentures have been executed, new developments often compel removals. Such are the weaknesses of human nature, and such the instability of human affairs, that, without provision to meet the exigencies consequent upon them, cases of extreme hardship and inhumanity would be frequent. They who have not had experience in this kind of work are not apt to realize, and it is often difficult to persuade them of, the imperative need of such provision. Children will not unfrequently get into improper hands in spite of every precaution, and in many cases success is more or less problematical. Death of employers also, and change of circumstances, are often the occasion of removals. Not a month goes by that does not furnish cases where, but for timely attention, suffering, mischief, and irreparable evil would result. A little familiarity with the field work of this agency would convince its most obdurate opponent that to leave children without recourse among strangers in a strange land is an unjustifiable procedure.”

Apart from the inhumanity of this procedure, from its unchristian character, from its proselytizing effects, we protest against it in the name of law, of right, and of human liberty. The common law of England is our heritage, and by that common law “no power on earth, except the authority of parliament, can send any subject of England out of the land against his will; no, not even a criminal. The great charter declares that no freeman shall be banished unless by the judgment of his peers or by the law of the land; and by the habeas corpus act it is enacted[13] that no subject of this realm who is an inhabitant of England, Wales, or Berwick shall be sent into Scotland, Ireland, Jersey, Guernsey, or other places beyond the seas.”[12] Chancellor Kent, in his Commentaries on American Law (ii. 34), claims the same proud privilege as one of the absolute rights of American citizens, and, while declaring that “no citizen can be sent abroad,” states that the constitutions of several of the states of our confederacy contain express provisions forbidding transportation beyond the state.

We come now to the last and not the least painful task, which the Christian Union insists upon our undertaking; it relates to “the horrible abuses existing in some of our state institutions.” And here, as in the preceding remarks, we must confine ourselves to a portion only of the mass of materials before us, and, in fact, confine ourselves to a single institution; for, if such things exist in a single case, this is enough to prove not only the possibility, but also the probability of the same thing in others, and to dispel the fatal blindness which can see nothing defective either in their constitution or management. We must pass over the charges recently preferred against the New York House of Refuge, relating to improper food, of excessive labor, of cruel punishments, employment of unfit and incompetent agents in the management of the institution, and of religious intolerance. While we think that the evidence produced on the trial of the boy, Justus Dunn, for killing one of the officers of the Refuge, goes far to substantiate most of the charges preferred, we have, in common with the community, but little respect for the whitewashing certificate given by the grand-jury, who made a flying visit to the institution, by invitation, on an appointed day. Of course the officers put their house in order, and failed not to put their best foot foremost, on this preconcerted occasion. The managers placed no reliance on this acquittal, for they courted another soon afterwards. The second investigation by the State Commissioners of Charity was very little better; it was ex parte on all the charges except that of religious intolerance, and the Refuge was acquitted on all the charges except this last.

We must also pass over, for want of space, the revolting case which occurred at the New York Juvenile Asylum in June last, in which one of the inmates of the asylum, a colored girl, instead of finding there an asylum from temptation and seduction, fell a victim to the lust of one of the officers of the institution, who fled precipitately on discovery of the fact.[13] We must pass over, for the same reason, the investigations recently conducted at St. Louis, which are far from showing a satisfactory result for the management and conduct of public reformatories. We must confine ourselves now to a single institution—a case in which the evidence is replete with horrible abuses, cruelties, improprieties, and wrongs. While we would be sorry to apply the maxim, ex uno disce omnes, we can but regard this case as a general warning to our people to beware of regarding as good everything in the moral order that goes under the much-abused name of reform.

The Providence School of Reform is an institution supported by funds received both from the state of Rhode Island and from the city of Providence. Its object seems to be the temporal, social, and moral reformation of juvenile delinquents of[14] both sexes. Some time prior to 1869, it had been the subject of the gravest charges and investigation, which tended to show that, so far from having been in all its departments and workings a school of reform, it had in some instances become a school for vice and immorality. The whitewashing process, that facile and amiable way of avoiding disagreeable complications, prevented the accomplishment of any change for the better. But in 1869 the charges against the institution took a more definite form, and were signed and presented by thirty-one citizens of Providence to the corporate authorities—citizens of the first respectability and standing. The Board of Aldermen of the city of Providence, headed by the Mayor, undertook the investigation, and the evidence is contained in two large volumes in one, extending over eleven hundred and forty-two pages.[14]

The charges were the most serious ones that could be brought against an institution, especially against one professing reform, and had their origin with citizens without distinction of creed. Their true character and extent can only be understood by a perusal of them:

“First. That vices against chastity, decency, and good morals have prevailed in the school, and have been taught and practised by teachers as well as by pupils; that these vices have existed both in the male and female departments, and that the children usually leave the school more corrupt than when they entered it.

“Second. That teachers have used immodest and disgusting language in the presence of children, and have addressed females in an indecent manner by referring to their past character, and by calling them vile and unbecoming names.

“Third. That modes of punishment the most cruel and inhuman have been used in said school, such as knocking down and kicking the pupils, and whipping them when naked, and with a severity not deserved by their offences.

“Fourth. That young women are said to have been kicked, knocked down, dragged about by the hair of the head, and otherwise brutally treated, but more especially that all modesty and decency have been outraged by stripping them to the waist and lashing them on the naked back; taking them from their beds and whipping them in their night-dresses; tying their hands and feet and ducking them; and by other forms of punishment which no man should ever inflict upon a woman.

“Fifth. That names of children committed to said school have been changed and altered by the officers of the said institution.

“Sixth. That children have been apprenticed to persons living in remote sections of the country, and who have no interest in taking proper care of them, and that a needless disregard to the rights and feelings of their parents has often been evinced by the officers of the school.

“Seventh. That the goods of said school are reported to have been used dishonestly for purposes for which they were not intended, and that the state of Rhode Island is said to have been charged with the board of children who were living at service and were no expense to said school.

“Eighth. That a spirit of proselytism and of religious intolerance has prevailed in the school, as is shown in the fact that children of different creeds are compelled to attend a form of worship which is contrary to the conscientious convictions of a large majority of them; which is directly in conflict with the spirit and letter of our state constitution, which ensures to the inhabitants thereof the liberty of conscience, in the following language: ‘No man shall be compelled to frequent or to support any religious worship, place, or ministry whatever, except in fulfilment of his own voluntary contract;’ and that the children of said school are denied the use of books and all religious instruction in the religion of their choice.”

Although there is evidence in the volume of Investigation before us tending to sustain the “fifth” and “seventh” charges, we yet except[15] those two charges from our remark, when we say that the other six charges, constituting the gravamen of the prosecution, are not only sustained in whole or in part by nearly one hundred witnesses, but, with all deference to the five aldermen out of ten who found most of them not proved, we think that no unbiassed reader of the heavily laden and sad volume before us, no true philanthropist, no man of true charity, can fail to pronounce the word guilty as to all or some part of every one of the first, second, third, fourth, seventh, and eighth charges. We are sorry to be forced to the conviction that the testimony is overwhelming. There are cases of punishment cruel in the extreme—some have called them inhuman, and even brutal—inflicted on about sixty boys; and, while nearly every page shows this, we refer particularly to pages 112, 123, 172, 234, 238, 274, 279, 280, 281, 289, 290, 295, 318, 364, 366, 375, 379, 383, 387, 388, 402, 403, 410, 414, 416, 419, 421, 425, 432, 437, 440, 446. See evidences more particularly referring to the use of the loaded whip, page 378; the strap, the cat, the strings, 286, 339; the butt, 492; blood drawn, 364, 485; terrorism, 239, 269, 270, 305, 371, 418, 424, 425, 492; whipping little boys over the knuckles with a bunch of keys, 146, 147; kicking, 447, 485, 526, and 323 of vol. ii.; boys struck on the head with a hammer, 331, 379; profanity and indecency, 280, 302, and page 135 of vol. ii.; Catholic books taken away from Catholic children, 308, 309, 310; state of Rhode Island charged with board of children who had been put out of the institution, 307, which was regarded as “an error of the head and not of the heart,” 327 of vol. ii.

There are also detailed in the Investigation cases of about thirty girls punished in a cruel and revolting manner. For girls lashed, bodies striped and bruised, see pages 18, 19; a girl struck, caught by the throat, pounded, and dragged by the hair of the head, 23; a girl struck with fist, and black eye, 55; a girl stripped to the waist of all her clothes, except undergarment, and whipped with cat-o’-nine-tails, and body marked, 93; another girl dragged by the hair, 95; a girl ducked, 102; a girl boxed until her nose bled, and water dashed on her, 102; a girl chased, kicked, and held under flowing water, 108; a girl dragged by the hair, kicked, and ducked, 219, 220; another girl dragged by the hair and kicked, 228; another lashed black and blue, 229; a girl lashed on the back after she had gone to bed, 338; another girl whipped with the straps, and kicked, 344; another girl stripped to the waist, leaving only undergarment on, and whipped with a knotted strap, 360; a girl ducked, 272. A mother is refused permission to see her child, who was whipped, and refused information as to whither the child was transported. The mother said: “I will travel Rhode Island through, and I will travel Connecticut through, but what I will find her. I have not seen her for the last six or eight years, and a mother’s nature goes beyond any mortal thing in this world. A mother wants to see her child. I could not get anything from them,” 374. Another girl is stripped like the others, and lashed, marked, and scarred on the back, 395. A witness, at page 396, says: “I saw—— stripped with her dress down; she was badly bruised on the shoulder; I did not see any blood, but I saw the bruises were pretty bad bruises; there were scars clear across her shoulders; you could not see scarcely a piece of plain[16] flesh on her shoulders.” At page 443, a former inmate testifies to the treatment received by another inmate: “I saw him shower her and strike her; he knocked her against the building with his fist, and the blood ran out of her nose and ears while she was by the fence, while he stood there punishing her.” At page 454, we read an extract from the testimony of a Mrs. Bishop: “Q. Were you ever kicked or beaten in the school by——? A. Yes, sir. I was punished up-stairs because I could not learn my lesson. I had had no schooling at that time; I could not do much reading; he punished me up-stairs; I told him I could not learn it, unless he could let a girl come up and help me; I was told to kneel down; I looked around, and he kicked me across the aisle; he pulled me by my dress, and kicked me across the aisle, and twice across the room; I was put up-stairs before devotions were to come off; I said I was going to tell my mother; he said I could not see my folks again if I did tell her; he was going to give me two hundred dollars if I had not said anything; I was sick after this kicking; he carried me home himself away from the school; I could not move nor stir; I could not move one eye; I walked on crutches after it; it affects me now; affects my gait, so I can’t walk all the time; I have to hire my work done part the time now; when there comes a storm, I can’t move, I have to sit still in the house; sometimes I have to lie in bed, because it affects me so; I was thirteen years old at that time.” A girl, a new-comer only three days in the school, is ducked, strapped, and locked up two days for laughing in school, p. 629, and further ill-treated, 639. Another girl dragged by the hair, pounded, and dreadfully bruised, 661. Girls ducked and whipped at night, 678. Girls called names of supreme contempt by teachers in allusion to their past lives, 684, 737, and 39, 71, 317, of vol. ii. A girl taken up at night, and whipped in her night-clothes by male officer, 693. A girl is pulled over the desk by the hair, for not singing, 705. A girl is imprisoned and fed on bread and water for twenty-three days, 320 of vol. ii.

For instances of girls whipped on the naked back by men, see pp. 61, 339, 630; girls kicked by men, 318, 328, 345, 348, 354, 360, 631; same proved by defence, 41 of vol. ii.; girls dragged by the hair by men, 231, 347, 348, 636; girls struck with fist by men, 347, 349; black eye given, 350; marks on bodies, 360, 367, 395, 719; girls taunted about their former lives, 86, 96, 100, 397, 687, 737, and 317 of vol. ii.; terrorism, 269, 270, 305, 371, 424, 425, and 41 of vol. ii.; girls ducked by men, 92, 94, 97, 102, and 295 of vol. ii.

The first charge, the most serious that could be brought against a school of reform—“crimes against chastity, decency, and good morals”—is fearfully sustained. One of the employees, a man of years, who had become notorious for his vulgarity and indecency in both the male and female departments, to both of which he had access, is caught flagrante delicto. The partner of his sin was one of the female inmates, who was sent there to be reformed, and they were detected by other female inmates of this school of reform (page 75). And again, horribile dictu, a teacher in the same nursery of reform lived, “month in and month out,” in criminal conversation with one of the inmates of the female department (pages 63, 76), and the appalling fact is again proved by the defence (ii. 322). But, more shocking than all this, not[17] only were immodest and indecent conversations held by an employee with the boys and girls, but another fiend in the flesh, an officer of the Providence School of Reform, introduced among the boys and taught them habits the most immoral and disgusting, destructive at once of their souls and bodies, of their manhood, and of their temporal and eternal happiness. This fact is proved solely by the defence at page 321 of vol. ii. The offender was dismissed, but the school still exists! Where are Sodom and Gomorrah?

The evidence for the defence consists chiefly of denials and non-mi-ricordos by the officers and employees; but some of the charges are proved by the defence itself, and some of the most damning evidence against the institution came from this very quarter. The mayor and one of the aldermen declined to take any part in the decision, because they were members of the board of trustees. Three other aldermen refused to sign the decision, and gave decisions of their own, finding portions of the charges true. Five out of ten of the judges sign the decision, which, while finding most of the charges not proved, strongly inculpates the institution on several of the charges. In it is stated that two instances have occurred of offences against chastity, decency, and good morals, on the part of officers and female inmates, page 384 of vol. ii.; that knocking down was practised, though alleged to have been in self-defence; and that boys were whipped on the bare back, 384 of vol. ii.; that girls have had their dresses loosened and removed from the upper part of the back and shoulders, leaving only the undergarment on, and thus punished by the (male) superintendent; and in a very few cases during the past nine years, when they have, in violation of the rules of the school, made loud noises and disturbances in the dormitories at night, they have been punished in their night-clothes (by a male officer) in the presence of a female officer, page 385 of vol. ii.; ducking is admitted, page 385.

One of the dissenting aldermen in his decision says: “Being fully aware that the class of inmates sent to this school require a strong and efficient discipline, and not feeling competent to say what that discipline should be, yet I cannot resist the conviction that the punishments described have a tendency to degrade rather than to elevate, not only the one who receives, but the one who administers them.” “I therefore feel bound to protest against such punishments, and earnestly hope that some better mode of discipline will speedily be adopted by the managers of this institution” (p. 394, vol. ii.). The superintendent stated on oath that, in case a child sick and in extremis required a Catholic priest to be sent for, he would first go and seek the advice of three or four of the trustees before he would admit, even under such circumstances, a Catholic or any other clergyman; and on this subject the same alderman remarked: “In my view, any superintendent of this institution who would hesitate to allow the consolations of religion to be administered in the form desired by the child, under such circumstances, should be promptly relieved from duty,” page 396 of vol. ii. Another alderman says: “I am of opinion that cruel and unnecessary punishment has been inflicted. I do not suppose that striking with the clenched fist, kicking, or dragging by the hair of the head has been common, but I think it has occurred in some instances,” page 397; and he mentions the case of an “unfortunate girl who seems to have suffered[18] every form of discipline known to this school, from being ducked to being ‘pushed under the table with the foot.’ If it be said she was vile, I would ask how she came to be? She was but six or seven years of age when she entered this institution. No one is wholly bad at that tender age. She remained under its care and influences for nine years, and, if she is vicious and dissolute, why is she so? If, on the other hand, she was insane, is it not painful to reflect that such punishments were inflicted on an irresponsible child?” (p. 399.) One of the trustees actually resigned a year before the investigation, rather than be connected with such scenes; he started an investigation, but it seems to have done no good; and such was the condition of things at the time of this first investigation that the assistant superintendent offered to give one hundred dollars to a friend to shield him from being called as a witness.

The religious instruction given in this institution is of course unsectarian; everything distinctively Episcopalian is denied to Episcopalian children, everything distinctively Baptist is denied to Baptist children, everything distinctively Methodist is denied to Methodist children, everything distinctly Presbyterian is denied to Presbyterian children, and everything distinctly Catholic is denied to Catholic children. Nothing whatever is said tending “to keep children in the faith to which they belonged when they entered the school.” “Q. Does not the system of religious instruction tend to bring the children to that form of religion which gives to each person the private judgment and interpretation of the Scriptures? A. We hope it tends to make them better. Q. Does it not tend to have them choose their own Bible and their own interpretation of it as the source and principle of religion? A. I should hope that it tends to have them accept the Bible. Q. Do you teach them the doctrine of the private interpretation of the Scripture? A. No, sir, not at all. Q. As I understand it, all the religious instruction they get is simply reading from the Bible, and no interpretation. They can interpret it just as they please. A. They can interpret it just as they please. Sometimes one speaker comes, and sometimes another” (page 234, vol. ii.) ... “Q. Now state the afternoon services on Sunday? A. One of the trustees (they all alternate except the mayor) procures a speaker for Sunday afternoon to address the scholars. Q. Of what class are those speakers—of any particular or of all classes? A. Since I have been there, I think every denomination has been represented or been invited to speak? Q. Are they particularly members of churches, or laymen, lawyers, doctors, or anybody who will give a moral address to the children? A. I could not speak with certainty of the professions. We often have clergymen, perhaps oftener than any other class, but not unfrequently men of other professions, and many times those following no profession to speak in connection with others. We often have more than one speaker—sometimes half a dozen. Q. These are business men of the city? A. Yes, sir. Q. Do you have lawyers sometimes? A. I think all professions are represented. Q. Do you have ministers if you can get them? A. Yes, sir.” And yet in this unsectarianism the most direct sectarianism prevailed. “Q. Do you know what version of the Bible is used? A. It is the common English translation. Q. (By the mayor) It is the ordinary Bible, is it not? A. Yes, sir. (By Mr. Gorman)[19] The Douay is the ordinary one. (By Mr.——) We call that an extraordinary one” (page 62, vol. ii.).

Now, we have the Bible without comment, but ministers, lawyers, doctors, and business men are called in every Sunday, sometimes half a dozen at one time, to give the comments, each according to his own view. Every religious denomination was invited, but it does not appear that any Catholic ever accepted the invitation; for, if he accepted, he would leave his Catholicity outside until he finished his unsectarian discourse. There may be something in common with all the sects which sometimes may be called general Protestantism, though they profess to call it unsectarianism; but one thing we know is common to them all, and this something is opposition to Catholicity, and the dodge of unsectarianism is adroitly invented in order to exclude Catholics from enjoying equal rights with Protestants in matters relating to public education and public charities. The state must let religion alone, and unsectarians must desist from their disguised effort to unite church and state in this country, while it has so strenuously opposed their union in every Catholic country. They know that Catholics can take no part in unsectarian teachings, but they would like us to do so, for in proportion as we did so would we cease to be Catholics. The Catholic view was so admirably expressed by the late Bishop Fitzpatrick, of Boston, in his letter in the Eliot School difficulty, that we must give it to our readers:

“I. Catholics cannot, under any circumstances, acknowledge, receive, and use, as a complete collection and faithful version of the inspired books which compose the written Word of God, the English Protestant translation of the Bible. Still less can they so acknowledge, accept, or use it, when its enforcement as such is coupled expressly with the rejection of that version which their own church approves and adopts as being correct and authentic; and yet this is required of them by law. The law, as administered, holds forth the Protestant version to the Catholic child, and says, ‘Receive this as the Bible.’ The Catholic child answers, ‘I cannot so receive it.’ The law, as administered, says you must, or else you must be scourged and finally banished from the school.

“II. The acceptance and recital of the Decalogue, under the form and words in which Protestants clothe it, is offensive to the conscience and belief of Catholics, inasmuch as that form and those words are viewed by them, and have not unfrequently been used by their adversaries, as a means of attack upon certain tenets and practices which, under the teachings of the church, they hold as true and sacred.

“III. The chanting of the Lord’s Prayer, of psalms, of hymns addressed to God, performed by many persons in unison, being neither a scholastic exercise nor a recreation, can only be regarded as an act of public worship—indeed, it is professedly intended as such in the regulations which govern our public schools. It would seem that the principles which guide Protestants and Catholics, in relation to communion in public worship, are widely different. Protestants, however diverse may be their religious opinions—Trinitarians, who assert that Jesus Christ is true God, and Unitarians, who deny he is true God—find no difficulty to offer in brotherhood a blended and apparently harmonious worship, and in so doing they give and receive mutual satisfaction, mutual edification. The Catholic cannot act in this manner. He cannot present himself before the Divine presence in what would be for him a merely simulated union of prayer and adoration. His church expressly forbids him to do so. She considers indifference in matters of religion, indifference as to the distinction of positive doctrines in faith, as a great evil which promiscuous worship would tend to spread more widely and increase. Hence the prohibition of such worship; and the Catholic cannot join in it without doing violence to his sense of religious duty.”

Non-sectarianism is the plea upon[20] which those public institutions justify their interference with the religious rights of their inmates. They argue that, because this system is acceptable to Protestants of every sect, therefore it must be acceptable to Catholics. Whereas, on the contrary, what is called unsectarianism is the concentration of sectarianism. Unsectarianism is made up of all those points upon which the sects concur, and is therefore pre-eminently sectarian. It is either that or simple deism; for if you take away the distinctive tenets of Catholics, Presbyterians, Methodists, Baptists, and of all the distinct sects, there remains nothing but deism. This involves, and will inevitably lead to, the denial of revelation; and the very Scriptures themselves, which Protestantism claims as the sole source of religious teaching, must and will inevitably, if non-sectarianism long prevails, be cast away. Is the teaching of deism alone inoffensive to Christians? The teaching of a few points, even if agreed upon by all, would be, on account of its exclusiveness, as sectarian as any other religious system—indeed more so; and is subject to an objection not applicable to the others, in that it conceals its true nature, and assumes a false name: whereas the Catholic Church and the avowed sects proclaim their distinctive and exclusive character, and in this at least are truthful and honest. If religious teaching resolves itself into latitudinarianism, it then constitutes a new sect in itself. A perfect neutrality, as long as anything positive is taught, is an impossibility. This very selection, which makes up this professed unsectarianism, is an anti-Catholic principle. It proclaims the right of man to determine all things in religion by his own private judgment, and in this consists the distinctive feature of Protestantism.

We have thus shown that non-sectarianism, as a system of religious teaching, is an impossibility. We now propose to show that in our schools, asylums, reformatories, etc., it is in practice, as well as in theory, an impossibility. We will show this, too, by Protestant and unsectarian authority. At p. 264, vol. ii., Providence Reform School Investigation, we read from the testimony of a Protestant Episcopal trustee, who resigned on account, in part, of this impossibility:

“Q. Didn’t you know that no sectarian instruction was admitted inside that institution? A. I don’t know what you call sectarianism. It is pretty hard to say down in that school. We have had everything taught and preached there. Q. Was not this an Episcopal book? A. It was a book of devotions and prayers—a work by a divine of the English Church. It was an Episcopal book. Q. Do you mean to say that a book of Episcopal exercises is or is not a sectarian work? A. I am a member of the Episcopal Church; we do not call ourselves a sect. Q. Didn’t you know at the time you gave this book to the teacher that it was against the rules of the school to have the doctrines of the true church given out there, or of any church? A. I had never supposed it was against the rules of that institution, and I should have been unwilling to have sat for one hour as its trustee if I had supposed that I was myself forbidden to pray, or to advise others to pray there, through Jesus Christ, our Lord; and if the prayers I indicated, marked, and numbered in that book are prayers forbidden in the Providence Reform School or any other school, I have for the first time to learn what is sectarianism. They are prayers which every Christian, whether he belongs to any one of the various organizations of Christians in this or any other country or not, would, I think, be willing to use morning, noon, and night. Q. Didn’t you know that the by-laws place religious instruction exclusively under the care of the superintendent of the school” [who is a layman]?

The Hon. John C. Spencer, Secretary[21] of State and Superintendent of Schools in 1840, said in his report to the New York Legislature: “There must be some degree of religious instruction, and there can be none without partaking more or less of a sectarian character. The objection itself proceeds from a sectarian principle, and assumes the power to control that which it is neither right nor practicable to subject to any denomination. Religious doctrines of vital interest will be inculcated.”

Another who has discussed this question of sectarianism with force and great plainness of speech is the Rev. Dr. Spear, of Brooklyn, in the columns of the Independent, thus:

“It is quite true that the Bible, as the foundation of religious belief, is not sectarian as between those who adopt it; but it is true that King James’ Version of the Holy Scriptures is sectarian as to the Catholic, as the Douay is to the Protestant, or as the Baptist Version would be to all Protestants but Baptists. It is equally true that the New Testament is sectarian as to the Jew, and the whole Bible is equally so as to those who reject its authority in any version.... There is no sense or candor in a mere play on words here. It is not decent in a Protestant ecclesiastic, who has no more rights than the humblest Jew, virtually to say to the latter: ‘You are nothing but a good-for-nothing Jew; you Jews have no claim to be regarded as a religious sect, or included in the law of state impartiality as between sects which Protestants monopolize for their special benefit. Away with your Jewish consciences! You pay your tax bills, and send your children to the public schools, and we will attend to their Christian education.’ It is not decent to say this to any class of citizens who dissent from what is known as Protestant Christianity. It is simply a supercilious pomposity of which Protestants ought to be ashamed. It may please the bigotry it expresses, but a sensible man must either pity or despise it. In the name of justice we protest against this summary mode of disposing of the school question in respect to any class of American citizens. It is simply an insult.”

Again, Dr. Anderson, President of the Rochester University, one of the first men in the Baptist Church in these United States, addressing the Baptist Educational Convention in the city of New York, says:

It is impossible for an earnest teacher to avoid giving out constantly religious and moral impulses and thought. He must of necessity set forth his notions about God, the soul, conscience, sin, the future life, and Divine Revelation.

“If he promises not to do so, he will fail to keep his word”—these are true words—“or his teachings in science, or literature, or history will be miserably shallow and inadequate. Our notions of God and the moral order form, in spite of ourselves, the base line which affects all our movements and constructions of science, literature, and history. Inductions in physics, classifications in natural history, necessitate a living law eternal in the thought of God.”

These gentlemen speak of religious instruction, only inasmuch as it is connected with the education of youth, and yet their logical minds showed them the absurdity of unsectarianism. What, then, could they have said of visionary men attempting direct teaching of religion without sectarianism?

The following extract is too pertinent to our subject and too clever to be omitted, as an illustration of the impossibility of teaching religion upon the unsectarian system:



(From the New Orleans Morning Star.)

We find the following in our San Francisco contemporary, the Pacific Churchman, taken originally from the London Church Review, an organ of the Church of England. The editor of the Churchman remarks that “with some changes it will equally apply to some of our un-sectarian schools.” As far as the Churchman goes against un-sectarian schools in this country, we are with it. This seems[22] to be one scene taken from others. Considering that it conveys a good argument for us, our readers will excuse the term “Romanism,” thrown in as a reproach. We quote:

The schoolroom of a boarding-school. Time, the hour of religious instruction. Bible to be read and explained without inculcating the dogmas of any particular denomination. Teacher certificated, unsectarian, highly conscientious. Class consisting of children from thirteen down to six or seven, and of various grades, from respectable poor to gutter children. Schoolroom and teacher span new. Teacher a little nervous. Children—some looking curiously about them, some disposed to loll and idle, some attentive. Teacher opens the great Bible, and begins to read St. Matthew ii., as being a narrative likely to interest the auditory, and easy to explain in an undenominational sense. First, however, a little preliminary explanation is necessary.

Teacher. You must know, my dear children, that Joseph and Mary were two very good people who lived a very great many years ago in a country far away from London, and I am going to read to you about them and their son (reads slowly verse 1. of the chapter).

Ragged Arab (not accustomed to observe much ceremony). Please, sir, who’s that?

Teacher (aghast, and wishing to gain time). Whom do you mean, my boy?

Arab. That there Jesus.

Teacher (aside). [How can this question be answered in an undenominational sense? This is the religious difficulty, full blown. If I say “a good man,” that will hardly do, for I know several of the boys are the children of the church people and Romanists; and if I say “the son of God,” that won’t do, for Tommy Markham is a Unitarian, or, at any rate, his parents are; besides, such a dogmatic statement is sectarian.] (Aloud.) I will explain all about him when I have finished the chapter.

Continues to read. The class listens with various degrees of attention until the 11th verse is finished, and then—

A Boy. Please, sir, who’s Mary? The mother of the little baby, wasn’t she?

Teacher. Yes; she was his mother.

Boy. Oh! and what does “wusshupped” mean?

Teacher. It means paying great respect, kneeling down and bowing, as we should to God.

Another Boy (better taught than boy No. 1, and jumping at once to a sectarian conclusion). Then, that there baby was God, sir?

Tommy Markham (stoutly). No, that he wasn’t!

Teacher. Silence, boys, the lesson cannot go on if you talk and quarrel. (Struck by a bright idea.) You know that a great many people believe that he was God; but some do not; but we must not quarrel because we do not all think alike.

First Boy (disagreeably curious). Well, but what do you think, master?

[Terrible dilemma! Teacher hesitates. At length, desperately]—

I think he was God.

Boy. Don’t yer know it?

Teacher (aside). [Perverse youth. Pest take his questions and him too! If I’d known what “unsectarian” teaching involved, I’d sooner have swept a crossing. What will the Board say? Why, the very essence of our principle is to know nothing and think anything. But you can’t make the boys reason.] (Aloud.) My dear boy, it is very difficult to say what we know. I can only teach you what I think, and teach you how to be good and do what is right, and obey all that God tells you to do in this Holy Book.

A Boy (interrupting, sans cérémonie). Did God write that there book?

Teacher. Yes; and he tells us what we are to do to get to heaven; and his son came, as you see, as a little child, and when he grew up, he preached and told us how we ought to love one another, and all we ought to do to lead a good life.

Boy (interested). And was he a very good chap?

Teacher (a little shocked). Yes, of course; you know he was—[pauses; his haste had almost betrayed him into a dogmatic explanation, and the forbidden word “know” had actually passed his lips].

Another Boy (with vexatiously retentive memory). You said afore, master, that he was God, and the gentlemen wusshupped him—was he reelly God?

Teacher (boldly, taking the bull by the horns). Yes.

Boy. And did God’s mother wusshup him too, master?

Teacher. You must not call her the[23] mother of—[interrupts himself; recollects that it is as sectarian to deny to the Blessed Virgin the title of Mother of God as to bestow it upon her; continues]: yes, she worshipped him too; but I want you to learn about the things that he told us to do.

Another Boy (doggedly). But we wants to know fust who he be, ‘cause we ain’t to do jist what a nobody tells us; only, if that there gentlemen be God, there’s somethin’ in it, ‘cause I’ve ‘eard parson say, at old school, where I was once, that what God said was all right.

Teacher (aside). [Certainly that poor Arab has got the root of denominational education. It is, I begin to think, a failure to attempt the teaching of morality without first making manifest what that morality is based upon, and the moment you come to that you are in for denominationalism at once. (Wipes his brow and continues)—

Of course, my boy, you must know why it is right to tell the truth and do what is right, but then if I tell you God commanded all this and read to you what his Son said about it, there is no need for troubling so much about—about—

Boy (interrupting). Oh! but I likes to ax questions, and it ain’t no sort of use you telling us it’s wrong to lie—nobody at ‘ome ever told me that—if yer don’t say who said it, ‘cause I ain’t bound to mind what you say, is I?

[Teacher checks the indignant “Indeed you are” that rises to his lips, arrested by the terrible and conscientious thought whether it be not a new and strange form of denominationalism for the teacher to make his own dictum infallible in matters of morality. Would not this be to elevate into a living, personal dogma an unsectarian teacher?—a singular clash, surely. Teacher shivers at the bare idea. Soliloquizes: How can I meet this knock-down reasoning? These Arabs are so rebellious, so perverse; why must they ask so many questions, and require to know the why and wherefore of everything? (Glances at the clock.) Ah! thank my stars, the time is almost up! but this dodge won’t do every time. I’m afraid I shall have to give up the whole thing as a bad job.] (Aloud.) We have only five minutes more to-day, lads, so you must let me finish the chapter without asking any more questions.

(Boys relapse into indifferent silence. Curtain falls.)

In conclusion, we insist that the state shall obey its own constitution, and let religion alone. In purely state institutions, the consciences must be left free, and no experiments with religion can be tried. Every child in such institutions must enjoy liberty of conscience and free access to its own ministers and sacraments.

If any sect undertakes to help the state to do its work, by establishing reformatories, protectories, and asylums for its own children, excluding all other religions and the children of other religions, we shall not object to its receiving a just per capita from the state; and under this system we claim the same and no more for purely Catholic institutions doing the work of the state in respect to Catholic children. If, however, sectarian, unsectarian, or non-Catholic institutions receive support from the state, and receive the children of the Catholic Church and of other persuasions, they must be conducted upon the same principle with state institutions, and in them “no law respecting the establishment of a religion” must be made or enforced, but the most perfect liberty of conscience must prevail. We ask no special favors for ourselves or our church; all we claim is perfect equality before the law and the state, and the full benefit of that fair play which we extend to others.




[Still among souls, on the outside of Purgatory, who have delayed repentance, Dante, in this Canto, is conducted to those who had postponed spiritual duties from having been involved in state affairs. The persons introduced are the Emperor Rodolph, first of that Austrian house of Hapsburg, Ottocar, King of Bohemia, Philip III. of France, Henry of Navarre, Peter III. of Aragon, Charles I. of Naples, Henry III. of England, and the Marquis William of Monferrat. To know more of these men the curious reader must consult more volumes than we have space to mention in this magazine. He may spare much research, however, and find the most accessible information by turning to the interesting notes which Mr. Longfellow has appended to his translation.—Trans.]

Three times and four these greetings, glad and free,
Had been repeated, when Sordello’s shade

Drew from embrace, and said: “Now, who are ye?”
And thereupon my Guide this answer made:

“Ere to this mountain those just souls, to whom
Heavenward to climb was given, had guided been,

My bones Octavian gathered to the tomb.
Virgil I am, and for none other sin

But want of faith was I from heaven shut out.”
Like one who suddenly before him sees

Something that wakes his wonder, whence, in doubt,
He says, It is not; then believing, ’Tis!

Sordello stood, then back to him without
Lifting his eyelids, turned and clasped his knees.

“O glory of the Latin race!” he cried,
“Through whom to such a height our language rose,

Oh! of my birthplace everlasting pride,
What merit or grace on me thy sight bestows?

Tell me, unless to hear thee is denied,
Com’st thou from hell, or where hast thou repose?”


He to this answered: “Grace from heaven moved me,
And leads me still: the circles every one

Of sorrow’s kingdom have I trod to thee.
My sight is barred from that supernal Sun,

Whom I knew late, and thou desir’st to see,
Not for I did, but for I left undone.

A place below there is where no groans rise
From torment, sad alone with want of light,

Where the lament sounds not like moan, but sighs.
The little innocents whom Death’s fell bite

Snatched, ere their sin was purified, are there:
And there I dwell with guiltless ones that still

The three most holy virtues did not wear,
[25]Though all the rest they knew, and did fulfil.

But if thou knowest, and may’st us apprise,
Tell us how we most speedily may find

Where Purgatory’s actual entrance lies.”


“We have,” he answered, “no set place assigned;

Around and upward I am free to stray;
My guidance far as I may go I lend:

But see how fast already fails the day!
And in the night none ever can ascend:

Best, then, we think of some good resting-place.
Some souls there be, removed here to the right,

Whom, if thou wilt, I’ll show thee face to face,
And thou shalt know them not without delight.”

“How, then,” said Virgil—“should a soul aspire
To climb by night, would other check be found?

Or his own weakness hinder his desire?”
And good Sordello drew along the ground

His finger, saying: “Look! not even this line
May’st thou pass over when the sun hath gone:

Not that aught else, though, would thy power confine,
Save want of light, from journeying upwards on:

Darkness makes impotent thy will. By night
One may go back again, and grope below,

And, while the horizon shuts the day from sight,
Wander about the hillside to and fro.”

My Master then, as ‘twere in wonder, spake:
“Then lead us thitherward where thou hast said,

That we in lingering shall such pleasure take.”
Nor had we forward far advanced our tread,

When I perceived that on the mountain-side
A valley opened, just like valleys here.

“We will go forward,” said our shadowy guide,
“Where on the slope yon hollow doth appear;

There let us wait the dawning of the day.”
‘Twixt steep and level went a winding path

Which led us where the vale-side dies away
Till less than half its height the margin hath.

Gold and fine silver, ceruse, cochineal,
India’s rich wood, heaven’s lucid blue serene,[15]

Or glow that emeralds freshly broke reveal,
[26]Had all been vanquished by the varied sheen

Of this bright valley set with shrubs and flowers,
As less by greater. Nor had Nature there

Only in painting spent herself, but showers
Of odors manifold made sweet the air

With one strange mingling of confused perfume.
And there new spirits chanting I descried—

“Salve Regina!”—seated on the bloom
And verdure sheltered by the dingle side.


“Ere yon low sun shall nestle in his bed”
(Began the Mantuan who had brought us here),

“Desire not down among them to be led;
You better will observe how they appear,

Both face and action, from this bank, instead
Of mixing with them in the dale. That one

Who sits the highest, looking, ‘mid the throng,
As though some duty he had left undone,

Who moves his lips not with the rest in song,
Was Rodolph, Emperor, he who might have healed

Those wounds which Italy have so far spent
That slow relief all other helpers yield.

The other, that on soothing him seems bent,
Once ruled the region whence those waters are

Which Moldau bears to Elbe, and Elbe the sea.
His name was Ottocar, and better far,

Yea, in his very swaddling-robe, was he
Than Vincislaus, his big-bearded son

Whom luxury and ease have made so gross.
And he of slender nose, who, with the one

So bland of aspect, seems in consult close,
Died flying, and in dust his lilies laid.

Look! how he beats the breast he cannot calm:
Mark too his mate there sighing, who hath made

For his pale cheek a pillow of his palm!
One is the Father of that pest of France,

Father-in-law the other: well they know
His lewd, base life! this misery is the lance

That to the core cuts either of them so.
And he so stout of limb, in unison

Singing with him there of the manly nose,
Of every virtue put the girdle on;

And if that youth behind him in repose
Had after him reigned in his Father’s stead,

Virtue from vase to vase had been well poured,
Which of the other heirs may not be said.

Frederic and James now o’er those kingdoms lord,
In whom that better heritage lies dead.

Rarely doth human goodness rise again
[27]Through the tree’s branches: He hath willed it so

Who gives this boon of excellence, that men
Should ask of him who can alone bestow.”

“Not more these words of mine at Peter glance
Than him he sings with (of the large nose there)

Whose death Apulia mourneth, and Provènce,
So ill the tree doth with its stock compare!

Even so much more of her good lord his wife
Constance yet vaunts herself, than Margaret may,

Or Beatrice. That king of simplest life,
Harry of England, sitting there survey

All by himself: his branches are more blest!
The one who sits there with uplifted gaze

Among the group, but lower than the rest,
Is Marquis William, in whose cause the frays

Of Alexandria have with grief oppressed
Both Monferrato and the Canavese.”



“We must obey the emperor rather than God.”



The Baroness Olga von Sempach was respected, wealthy, benevolent, and therefore loved by the poor. When, in the summer, she visited her estates in Posen, to breathe for some months the healthy country air, the poor of that place would exclaim: “Our mother has come again!”

The baroness had, however, seemed lately to be greatly depressed, and her sad countenance had excited the sympathy of every one.

“Our mother is sick,” said the poor. “Her face is pale, and her kind eyes look as though she wept often. We will pray for our benefactress, that God may preserve her to us.”

And in the hours of want and suffering, many hands were raised in supplication to heaven for their mother Olga; but the eyes of the noble lady continued to be dim with weeping, and her sorrow seemed to increase daily.

She was sitting, one morning, in a room of her palace; her hands were clasped together, and she gazed absently before her, while tear after tear streamed down her cheeks. Opposite to her on the wall hung a crucifix, upon which she would often fix her eyes; but her sufferings seemed to be those of the spirit rather than of the body. The affliction of soul, as seen in her distressed face, had something sublime and venerable in it, for it was the grief of a mother.

The sound of approaching footsteps are heard. The baroness made an effort to conceal her agitation; she wiped away her tears, and endeavored to receive with a smile the young man, who, upon entering, saluted her.

“I am rejoiced, dear Edward, that you have come to visit us at our retired summer-residence,” said she.[28] “The invigorating air of the country will be of great service to you. Your incessant application to study is injurious to health, and you must therefore remain with us for several weeks.”

He hardly seemed to hear her words of welcome, so lost was he in astonishment at the appearance of his noble hostess.

“I must ask your pardon, gracious lady, for having disturbed your quiet household last night at such a late hour,” said he; “but the train was delayed, and I could not find a carriage to bring me here.”

“No formal excuse is necessary, Edward! Have you spoken yet with my son?”

“Only a few words. He is writing to his betrothed.”

These latter words made such an impression upon the baroness that it seemed as though a sword had pierced her heart. The emotion did not escape the observation of the young gentleman, and, together with her sad aspect, convinced him that her son was in some way the cause of her unhappiness.

“O sorrowful mother that I am!” she exclaimed, “to see my Adolph, my only child, rushing into certain misfortune, perhaps into eternal ruin, and I unable to help or save him—how it pains and terrifies me!”

Her lips trembled, and she found difficulty in preserving her self-command.

“You alarm me, dear baroness! Why should Adolph fall into such deep misery because of his marriage as you seem to predict? He loves Alexandra truly and sincerely. He praises her noble qualities, her magnificent beauty, her accomplishments, and therefore I see every prospect of a happy life for them both.”

“Alexandra is beautiful, very beautiful!” replied the baroness sadly; “but this exterior beauty, perishable and worthless as it is, unless united with nobility of mind as well as virtue, blinds my son. Alexandra’s personal loveliness prevents him from seeing the ugliness of her heart, mind, and spirit.”

The young professor seemed really perplexed. He knew that the baroness was an admirable judge of character, and he loved his friend.

“Adolph wrote to me in his last letter that Alexandra is the daughter of a Russian nobleman named Rasumowski, who fills the distinguished position of governor of a province in Poland. I should think that the daughter of a man to whom the Russian government has confided such a trust would resemble her father.”

“She is his counterpart,” replied the Baroness von Sempach; “and her father is the incorporate spirit of the Russian form of government; he is imperious, proud, tyrannical, and utterly destitute of feeling. You know the inhumanities practised by Russia upon Catholic Poland. An endless succession of oppressive laws completely crushed the unhappy Poles, from whom everything was taken—liberty, religion, property, and life. In this atmosphere of cruel tyranny and injustice Alexandra has grown up. From her childhood she has breathed an air which has stifled all the gentle emotions of the heart. In a word, Alexandra is a thorough Russian. How, then, can my son, with his respect for the rights of man, with his enthusiastic love of freedom with his studious disposition of mind, and his warm heart—how can he be happy in the possession of such a wife? Never! A terrible awakening, bitter sorrow, and lasting misfortune will soon poison the life of my child.”

“I believe you, dear madame![29] Why have you not expressed your fears to Adolph?”

“I have done so often and urgently; but his blind passion for Alexandra makes him deaf to all my representations.”

“If,” said Edward, after some reflection, “we could only succeed in letting Adolph have a closer insight into Alexandra’s nature and spiritual life, I am sure that he would turn with aversion from her.”

“But in this lies the difficulty, dear Edward. The Russians understand well how to conceal by an artificial gloss of refinement their real spiritual deformity.”

“Notwithstanding all this, the mask must be torn from the face of the Russian lady, in order to save Adolph. I know what to do! My plan will succeed!” exclaimed the professor.

“What do you intend doing, Edward?”

“I will enlighten my friend Adolph in regard to Russian manners. Do not question me any further, dear madame, but confide in me!” said he, with a cheerful face. “Wipe away your tears, and have courage, noble mother!”

He bowed and then sought the presence of his host. Adolph, a stately young man with a kind face and the expressive eyes of his mother, had just concluded a letter to his betrothed.

“Have you at last finished writing?” asked Edward. “You lovers never know when to stop. I wonder what you have to say to each other day after day?”

“A heart that loves is inexhaustible,” replied Adolph. “I could write ten letters a day, and not say all I wish.”

“I know it,” said Edward, nodding his head.

“What do you know?”

“The readiness of love to make sacrifices,” replied his friend.

Adolph laughed aloud.

“The idea of your understanding what it is to love! When you begin to love, the world will come to an end!” he exclaimed good-humoredly. “As the city of Metz has inscribed over her gates, so also can you write upon your forehead, ‘No one has ever conquered me.’ Although you speak with great wisdom about many things, you know nothing of love.”

“But I am of the opposite opinion,” said Edward, looking with his brilliant eyes at the laughing face of his friend. “Your love is about six months old, but mine has lasted for ten years; it commenced when I was sixteen. My love has been put to the test, and is still as enduring as it was in the beginning. Your young love of only six months’ duration must, however, be tried as yet. How will it be when ten years have passed away, and Alexandra’s beauty has faded? My beloved, on the contrary, never grows old. She is always young and beautiful, like her Father, the eternal fountain of all knowledge—like God; for my beloved is—Knowledge.”

“You malicious fellow, to remind me of Alexandra’s future wrinkles! I do not care, however, for my betrothed is at present the handsomest girl living.”

“I will not deny the fact,” said Edward. “And if you will introduce me into the much-to-be-envied atmosphere which the beautiful Russian breathes, you will oblige me and my beloved very much.”

“I do not understand you!”

“I wish, in other words, to know something of Russian affairs by means of my own observations,” replied Edward. “I would like to make a study of her government for the benefit of the Germans.”


“For the benefit of the Germans?”

“Yes, indeed; for it is a well-known fact that the Russian system of government is to be gradually introduced into the German Empire. A beginning has already been made by enacting the famous law against the Jesuits and kindred orders. Alexandra’s father is the highest official of his district. Through him I could easily obtain a peep into state matters, if you would recommend me.”

“With the greatest pleasure, my friend!” exclaimed Adolph, springing from his chair in joyful surprise. “We will go together. I will introduce you myself to the governor, and, while you labor in the interest of your ever-youthful beloved, I will devote myself to Alexandra.”



Two days later, the friends were sojourning in the Rasumowski palace, a stately building, formerly the property of a noble Polish family whose only son now languished in Siberia. When the guests arrived, the governor was absent, but his daughter received them with the greatest hospitality. Edward found the youthful Russian lady very beautiful in appearance, but his keen eyes soon detected beneath the surface of her charming exterior a spirit of such moral deformity that he became really alarmed in regard to the fate which threatened his friend if he persisted in uniting himself to such a being.

“Oh! what joy! What an agreeable surprise!” exclaimed Alexandra. “It is, in truth, an imperial joy! And papa also will be imperially delighted to see you and your friend.”

“Is your father absent, Alexandra?” asked Adolph.

“Only for a few hours. He is with a distinguished gentleman from Berlin. I expect him any moment, and his surprise will be really imperial.”

The professor seemed astonished at her language. He availed himself of the first suitable opportunity to satisfy his desire for knowledge.

“Pardon me, mademoiselle; you use the word imperial in a manner which is incomprehensible to me—you speak of a really imperial joy, of a truly imperial surprise. Will you permit me to ask you why you make use of this peculiar expression?”

“If you had ever travelled through the holy Russian Empire,” she replied, with a haughty look, “you would know that we use the word imperial in the same sense as you in Germany say divine. Are you amazed at that?”

“Indeed, mademoiselle,” answered the professor calmly, “I never imagined that the words imperial and divine could be synonymous, for the reason that there is an infinite difference between the emperor and God.”

“That is your view of the subject, but we think differently in our holy empire,” replied the arrogant beauty. “In Russia, the emperor is the most exalted of beings; he is the autocrat of all Russia, and upon his dominions the sun never sets. If we wish to express the highest degree of joy, of surprise, of pleasure, or of beauty”—and she threw her head proudly back—“then we say an imperial joy, an imperial pleasure, an imperial beauty!”

“I am greatly indebted to you for this interesting explanation,” said the professor, bowing low.

At this moment, the sound of an approaching carriage was heard.

“They have arrived!” said Alexandra. “What a pity that our distinguished visitor from Berlin makes it necessary for papa to absent himself so often!”


“Your company, dear Alexandra, is a charming substitute for your father’s absence,” said Adolph von Sempach.

Two loud male voices in animated conversation resounded through the corridor. Alexandra ran to open the door of the salon.

“Papa, who do you think is here? You will be delighted.”

“Who is it? Can it be Prince von Bismarck?” replied a rough voice, and the governor entered the room. He was an elegantly dressed gentleman, of stout appearance, and wore a light mustache; but his rubicund countenance, which plainly betokened an unrestrained appetite, was almost repulsive, on account of the cruel look in his eyes. The visitor from Berlin followed him; he was a tall, broad-shouldered man, with a bald head, sharp eyes, a heavy mustache, which overshadowed an ugly mouth, and with features not less disagreeable than were those of the Russian.

“Oh, Baron von Sempach? Is it possible!” exclaimed the governor, pressing the hand of his future son-in-law. “It is really imperial!”

“My friend Edward Beck, Professor of History,” said Adolph, introducing his travelling companion.

The untitled name seemed to displease the Russian, for he looked almost with contempt at the stranger, and returned his bow with a scarcely perceptible nod of the head. Von Sempach noticed this reception of his friend, and, although very angry, hastened to pacify the ill-humor of his proud host.

“I must inform you, governor,” said he, in a whisper, “that my friend Edward Beck occupies a distinguished social position; and not only that—he is the owner of vast estates, and the possessor of two millions of guilders.”

“I feel highly honored at your presence in my house, Herr Beck,” said the now polite Russian. “Allow me to introduce to you my esteemed guest, Herr Schulze, of Berlin.”

The tall Prussian made a desperate effort to smile, and to force his rigid, military figure to return the professor’s bow.

“The visit of my friend to your country has, at the same time, a scientific object in view,” said Adolph. “He desires to learn something of Russian affairs by personal observation. You will therefore oblige me very much, Governor Rasumowski, if by means of your high official position you consent to further his wishes in this respect.”

“What a happy coincidence!” replied the governor, with a significant glance at the gentleman from Berlin. “Herr Schulze has come for the same purpose. He also seeks to inform himself in regard to the glorious administration of state and social affairs in our holy empire; but of course with a different motive from that of Herr Beck, whose researches are of a purely historical nature.”

“The knowledge of which I am in pursuit is for practical ends,” said Herr Schulze, assuming a learned air. “I wish to examine and see if the admirably constructed machinery of the Russian government cannot be introduced with advantage into the new German Empire.”

“I am rejoiced to hear you speak as you do,” replied Beck; “for your opinion in regard to the policy now in force throughout the new German Empire corresponds with mine. Since the last Diet, it has become evident to me that in future Germany must be governed as Russia now is. The map of Europe,” he added, with a meaning smile intended for Rasumowski, “would then not only have a Russian Poland, but also a German Russia.”


“Rejoice at such a beneficial change, gentlemen!” exclaimed the governor. “All nations can learn from and profit by the example of our holy Russian Empire. In no country upon earth is there a stronger government, and nowhere has the absurd idea of liberty taken less root, than in the immense territory of the czar. Of course, in Germany, some little concessions must be made at first, until an iron-bound constitution, like that of Russia, can be formed—above all, the inferior German princes must be set aside.”

“The beginning has been already made; it is only necessary to continue our efforts,” replied the Berlin gentleman.

“See with what regularity everything proceeds with us,” asserted Rasumowski. “All the wheels of state are controlled by the will of one man, of our gracious sovereign, the emperor”—and he made a reverence before the marble statue of the czar. “Whoever does not obey the will of the sovereign will be surely crushed into atoms.”

A servant announced dinner. The party entered the dining-room, where a magnificent banquet was served. The whole attention of Adolph was absorbed by Alexandra, and Edward saw with deep regret his burning passion for a creature who was unworthy of his noble-minded friend.

“As I said before, gentlemen, with us everything moves with regularity,” said Rasumowski. “We do not permit the least contradiction. The word liberty has no meaning with us; for unconditional obedience is with us the fundamental law of the empire, and whoever does not wish to obey must go to Siberia.”

“As far as I can understand, there does not exist in Russia any fundamental law of state,” said Beck. “Or am I wrong?”

“No; you are right. We know nothing about it. The sovereign law is the will of the emperor. Nothing but what the emperor commands has legal power. The meeting of Deputies, Chambers, and of Diets is unheard of in Russia. The almighty will of the czar answers instead of it. All laws and decrees, no matter how long they have existed, can be abolished by the emperor with one stroke of the pen. To him, as the sovereign, everything belongs: the country and the people, the peasants and the nobility, the church and the state. In fact, it can be said that the only fundamental law of state in the holy Russian Empire is absolute obedience to the will of the czar.”

“Excellent!” said Schulze. “If we had only made the same progress in our new German Empire!”

“It is to be questioned whether this manner of government can be introduced into Germany,” replied Beck. “There the people have a will which makes itself heard in the Chambers.”

“Bah! of what account are the Diet and the Chambers?” exclaimed Schulze contemptuously. “Acknowledge candidly, Herr Beck, what a miserable rôle our Chambers have recently played. Is not the will of the chancellor the only law? Is not everything possible to the diplomatic wisdom of Bismarck? Do the Deputies, Chambers, or Diet dare to contradict the all-powerful minister? No! They only make such laws as are pleasing to their master. Therefore I am right when I say that the people no longer have a voice in the new German Empire. Wait a little while, and the antiquated folly of Chambers and Diets will be also abolished.”

“Your view is not entirely correct,” said Adolph von Sempach. “A strong party in the Diet is opposed to the designs of Bismarck.”


“Yes, the ultramontanes!” answered Schulze. “But we are prepared for them; we will conquer this rebellious set, so hostile to the empire!” he exclaimed, with an angry flash of his eyes. “The ultramontanes in Germany form only a rapidly disappearing minority, and this rabble, so dangerous to the state, will soon be exterminated. Liberalism reigns supreme in the new German Empire; Bismarck depends upon its support. Every right-thinking man will see that in a well-organized state but one will must be paramount, and not two or even three wills. The emperor alone must rule. Therefore away with the will of the people, away with the will of the church! The form of the Russian government alone is sound; for here the emperor is the head of the state and of the church. The civil officers rule according to the command of the emperor—in a word, everything is done, as the governor has correctly remarked, with regularity. And whoever does not obey will be sent to the mines of Siberia.”

Von Sempach, whose countenance gave evidence of his disapproval, wished to reply, but, at a sign from his friend, he remained silent.

“Yes, indeed, Siberia is a splendid place!” exulted the Russian. “The new German Empire must also have a Siberia, to which her rebellious subjects can be sent.”

“If German affairs continue to shape themselves so closely after the example of Russia, we will undoubtedly have a Siberia very soon,” said the professor, with an ambiguous smile.

“Without Siberia, what would we have done with the unruly Poles?” exclaimed the charming daughter of the governor. “There in the mines, in want and misery, the wretches can do penance for their presumption, and repent for having disobeyed the Emperor of Russia.”

At hearing her remarks, all color forsook Adolph’s face; he looked with amazement at his beautiful betrothed. Beck, however, noticed with secret delight the impression she had made upon his friend.

“I am really anxious to learn,” said he, “how the people of the holy Russian Empire live, and if they are so supremely happy.”

“You shall have proofs of it this afternoon,” said the governor. “We will drive in half an hour to a village in the vicinity of the city. The village is inhabited by Roman Catholics; but even there you will find that the will of the emperor is respected.”

All now rose from the table; the guests retired to their rooms; but Adolph, who seemed greatly depressed, sought the society of his friend.

“How do you like Alexandra?”

“She is, in truth, imperially beautiful,” answered Beck.

“But you heard her cruel remarks about the poor Poles?”

“Yes, I heard what she said, and am not astonished that a Russian lady, whose father is governor, should think as he does; it is very natural,” replied the professor.

Adolph appeared to be overwhelmed with sadness.

“Will you not go with us on our tour of inspection?” asked Edward.

“After such a painful exhibition of Alexandra’s sentiments, I need something to distract my thoughts.”

“Have you noticed that the bust and portrait of the emperor, seated on his throne, is to be seen in every corridor, chamber, and salon of the palace?” remarked Edward. “He is like an idol in the house, before which even the lovely head of Alexandra bows in reverence. This fact is of the highest interest to me. Man must have a god, a sovereign being,[34] to serve. In Russia, the emperor is this sovereign; and Almighty God in heaven is, as the Russians imagine, the vassal of the emperor; for bishops, priests, and popes can only teach and preach that which the imperial sovereign commands and permits. And such a sovereign is to sit upon the throne of the new German Empire! A glorious prospect for us!”

“Ridiculous nonsense!” exclaimed the young nobleman. “The German nation would never submit to such a yoke of tyranny. Germans will never become slaves!”

“Do not be too confident, Von Sempach! A keen observer has said that the Germans are a most servile people.”

“But they never will be the slaves of a Russian czar,” replied Von Sempach. “The German people, two years ago, gave ample proofs of what they can do. Like our imaginary Michael,[16] who for a long time allowed himself to be kicked about and abused, but who suddenly shook off his lethargy, and fought like a lion, so will it be with Germany, which seems to have fallen into a state of good-humored torpor, during which cunning men have taken advantage of her apparent indifference to deprive her gradually of her ancient privileges; but let the Germans once feel the weight of Russian despotism, and you will see with what fury they will break loose the chains that bind them.”

Ten minutes later, the carriage of the governor rolled through the streets of the city. He had given orders to be driven over a well-paved public road to a neighboring village. At a short distance from the carriage followed four Cossacks, mounted on small horses from Tartary. One of them carried in the belt of his sabre a very peculiar instrument. Attached to a strong wooden handle were nailed seven straps of leather, which terminated in hard knots. It was commonly called “the pleti,” and was, by the command of the Emperor Nicholas, used as a substitute for the notorious knout.

Just as the village became visible behind the rows of trees that bordered the public road, the governor commanded the driver to stop. In looking from the window, he had observed, upon a lately cleared space, a collection of wooden huts which were situated a short distance from the road.

“What is the meaning of this? Who has dared to build these huts?” he exclaimed, in amazement.

“They look very much like our barracks in Berlin,” said Schulze. “Some poor wretches built huts outside of the city because they could not earn enough to pay house-rent. The fact of their being permitted to remain so near Berlin is a disgrace to the intelligence of the capital of the new empire. It will be quite difficult to remove them.”

“I shall not tolerate such things in my district,” said the Russian abruptly.

The carriage proceeded on its way, and stopped before a handsome house, the residence of the mayor, who was the only person in the village who belonged to the Russian state Church. This man had very small eyes and an immense mustache; and it was evident, from the odor of his breath, that he had been imbibing freely. When summoned before the governor, he assumed a most abject appearance, and his form seemed really to shrink while in the presence of the powerful official.

“What huts are those outside of the village?” said Rasumowski, addressing him roughly.

“To reply, with your honor’s permission,[35] they are the dwellings of some poor people who have settled there. They are very orderly, pay their taxes punctually, and support themselves by mending kettles, by grinding scissors, by making rat and mouse traps, and such means.”

“Who gave them permission to settle there?”

“The parish, your honor. The ground upon which the huts stand belongs to the parish.”

“Listen, and obey my orders!” said the governor. “These huts must be taken down without delay; for the emperor has not given this ground to peasants, that they may propagate like vermin. If the rabble cannot rent houses in the village, then they must go further, perhaps to Siberia, where there is plenty of work in the mines.”

The mayor of the village bowed most obsequiously.

Beck watched his friend Adolph, who seemed greatly revolted at the inhuman command.

Herr Schulze, of Berlin, on the contrary, looked as though he had heard something that would prove of incalculable benefit to mankind.

“On what text did the Catholic pastor preach last Sunday?” asked the governor.

“With the permission of your honor, his sermon was on redemption through Jesus Christ.”

“Did he make no mention of the emperor?”

“No, your honor.”

“Did he say nothing about the obedience due the emperor?”

“No, your honor.”

“Go at once, and bring the priest before me!”

“I beg pardon, your honor, but he has gone to visit a sick person at some distance.”

“Then send him to me in the city. To-morrow, at nine in the morning, he must appear before me, and bring his sermon with him!”

The mayor made an humble obeisance.

“Did the priest presume to say anything about the Pope?”

“No, your honor; since the Roman Catholic priests who preached about the Pope were sent to Siberia, nothing is said about him.”

“With regard to other matters, how are things progressing in the village?”

“Admirably, your honor! After the twenty Catholic families were sent to Siberia, all the inhabitants are willing to die in obedience to our good emperor. The people are all satisfied; no one wishes to go into exile.”

“In how many villages of Germany,” said the governor to his guests, “can you find the people so contented and ready to give their lives in obedience to our good emperor? The form of government in the holy Russian Empire works miracles. Now, gentlemen, follow me to the schoolhouse, so that you may see how Russia educates her subjects.”

They left the mayor’s residence, and crossed the street to the schoolhouse.

“I must tell you in advance,” observed Rasumowski, “that in Russia we do not cultivate a fancy for popular education. Our peasants are only entitled to be taught three things: to obey, to work, and to pay taxes. In this consists their knowledge; it is the axis around which revolves our national education.”

He opened the school door. About one hundred children, dirty and poorly clad, sat upon the benches. The schoolmaster, who had already espied the arrival of the governor, bowed in fear and trembling.


“How is it with the children of the emperor, teacher? Do you fulfil your duty in obedience to my orders?”

“I endeavor to do so, your honor.”

“I shall convince myself, and ask some questions from the catechism of our state religion,” said the governor.

He called up several children, and began to question them, which questions were as remarkable and as interesting to the professor as were the answers.

“Who is your sovereign lord?”

“The good emperor of holy Russia.”

“What do you owe to the emperor?”

“Unconditional obedience, love, and payment of taxes.”

“In what does the happiness of a Russian consist?”

“In being a brave soldier of the good emperor.”

“Where does the soul of man go after death?”

“To heaven or to hell.”

“What soul goes to heaven?”

“That soul which always obeys the good emperor and owes no taxes.”

“What soul goes to hell?”

“That soul which was disobedient to the emperor.”

The governor turned towards his guests.

“You have already commenced a system of compulsory education in Germany,” said he; “but when you succeed in establishing a state church, and have a catechism of state religion, then will the new German Empire, like our czar, be able to educate subjects who must obey him blindly.”

He now turned again to the children.

“Is there a pope in Rome?”

The child who was questioned looked at the teacher, who had become as pale as death.

“Answer me! Is there a pope in Rome?” repeated the governor.

“No; there is only one emperor, who is at the same time the pope of all the Russians,” replied the child.

“Schoolmaster, I am satisfied with you,” said Rasumowski approvingly.

“You know that the only things which every good Russian must do is to work diligently, to pay taxes punctually, and to blindly obey the emperor. These three things you must impress upon the minds of the children!”

The governor was about to leave the schoolroom, when he suddenly stopped, and his face became crimson with anger. He had espied the portrait of the emperor, which hung in a gilt frame on the wall. The glass that covered it was broken, and it was soiled with a few ink-stains.

“Schoolmaster, what is this?” exclaimed the governor furiously.

“Pardon, your honor!” implored the trembling teacher. “A wicked boy threw his inkstand at the picture.”

“And you, miserable wretch that you are, left it thus disfigured upon the wall! Follow me!”

The governor, with his guests and the teacher, left the room, and entered an office where the mayor held his sessions.

“Schoolmaster!” began the governor, “you deserve to be sent to Siberia, for you Roman Catholics are only fit for the mines. You refuse blind obedience, and deny the right of the emperor to command in church affairs; you are constantly rebelling against the empire, and all of you should, therefore, be sent into exile. For your insolence, however, in leaving the portrait of our holy emperor in this neglected state, you will receive ten blows with the pleti.”


He stepped forward to the window, and summoned the Cossack who carried the instrument of torture.

“Corporal, give ten heavy strokes with the pleti on this teacher’s back!”

The Cossack seized a bench, and motioned the teacher to stretch himself upon it.

Von Sempach and Beck, finding it impossible to conceal their indignation, left the room. In going down-stairs, they heard the whizzing sound of the lash and the screams of the poor teacher.

“I shall lose my senses,” said Adolph, while waiting at the threshold. “My God! has Alexandra grown up amid such scenes?”

The professor was delighted to hear this remark.

“It is, indeed, a very demoralizing atmosphere for a woman to breathe,” said he.

“Can it be that Alexandra has escaped the contaminating influence of Russian customs? Has she also lost all feeling and the delicacy of her sex? We must find out, if possible.”

Rasumowski and Schulze approached.

“Ah! gentlemen,” exclaimed the governor laughingly, “the singing of the pleti caused you to leave! Well, we Russians accustom ourselves to such things. When, with other practical institutions, the pleti is also introduced into the new German Empire, then you will learn to think it as useful an instrument as is the whip in the hands of the cartman.”

“Who drive oxen and donkeys,” added the professor.

“Our new German Empire has already introduced a punishment for the soldiers, which causes as much pain as the pleti,” said Adolph von Sempach. “I have read repeatedly in the newspapers that soldiers, while upon drill, have fallen fainting to the ground. The reason was their being compelled to carry heavy stones in their knapsacks, until their strength gave way.”

“It is a Russian invention that you have borrowed from us; we have long practised it,” asserted Rasumowski.

“And I suppose we have also adopted your severe system of military arrest, which Count von Moltke justifies by ingeniously remarking that even in time of peace the soldier owes his health to his country.”

“Yes, it is true we keep up the same strict discipline,” exclaimed the Russian; “but Moltke should have said that the soldier owes his health and life to the emperor, and not to the country. Words are useless; acts are what we insist upon.”

When leaving the house, there were a number of men, women, and children outside who awaited the governor. At seeing him, they all fell upon their knees, and lifted up their hands in supplication.

“Pardon! Mercy! Humanity!” were heard in confused accents.

“Keep quiet!” commanded Rasumowski. “Schulze, what does this mean?”

“Your honor, these are the poor people who live in the huts. They ask you, for God’s sake, not to destroy their only place of shelter.”

“Asking me to do a thing for God’s sake!” exclaimed the governor harshly. “If they had asked me to do so for the emperor’s sake, I would perhaps have granted their request. Begone! Away with you! My orders are to be obeyed!”

The people, however, did not rise, but burst forth into fresh lamentations and tears.

“Your honor,” said an old man, “graciously listen to us, as the good emperor would do, who always wishes[38] to help his people. We built those huts by permission of the parish, and we strive to make a living in an honest way. We pay the taxes, and are not in debt to the emperor. If your honor destroys our huts, whither shall we poor people go? Must we live with the foxes and wolves in the forests? Is this the will of the emperor?”

“The emperor desires his subjects to live in comfortable houses, for which reason the huts must be removed,” answered Rasumowski.

“Your honor, we have no means to build comfortable houses,” replied the old man. “Look at the little children; they will die if the orders of your honor are executed.”

“I will hear no more: it is the emperor’s will!” exclaimed the governor.

The words “It is the emperor’s will” had the most disheartening effect upon the poor people. The haggard, wretchedly-clad assemblage gave way to despair, but a low murmur was all that was heard.

Rasumowski looked triumphantly at his guests, as if he had said in so many words: “You see what the will of the emperor can do!”

But the professor was not to be deceived. The suppressed wrath plainly visible in the faces of the men did not escape him.

A young man rose humbly from his knees, and looked with strangely glittering eyes upon the governor.

“It is not true!—the emperor does not, cannot wish us to suffer!” he exclaimed.

Rasumowski looked with astonishment at the bold youth.

“How do you know that it is not the will of the emperor?” he asked.

“The emperor is human, but what you command is inhuman!” answered the intrepid peasant.

The Russian governor absolutely trembled with anger.

“Fifteen lashes with the pleti—give it to him soundly!” he cried, and walked towards the carriage, which drove slowly through the village.

Adolph von Sempach sat depressed and silent. What he had seen and heard did not tend to elevate the character of the beautiful Alexandra in his estimation, as her remarks concerning the cruelties upon the unfortunate Poles seemed to prove that she had inherited the barbarous disposition of her father.

“Do you hear the screams of the insolent fellow?” said the governor. “The pleti is unfortunately a poor affair—it has not sufficient swing and force. The old knout was much better; for it was made of strong leather straps, intertwined with wire. The Emperor Nicholas I. introduced this new knout, however—and whatever the czar does, is well done; but if I were consulted, I would bring the old knout again into use.”

“I fear, governor,” said Beck “that even the new knout or the pleti would meet with invincible opposition in Germany.”

“You are mistaken,” answered the Russian. “The Germans can also be subdued—the German neck must bow to him who has the power. Now, gentlemen, I will show you some evidences of the industry of our farmers,” he continued, when the carriage had left the village. “Look at our abundant crops! The German farmer can hardly excel the Russian. You find everywhere signs of prudent husbandry as well as of diligence and perseverance.”

Herr Schulze gave a token of assent, the professor knew nothing about agriculture, and Von Sempach preserved a gloomy silence.

“Do you see that village?” said Rasumowski, pointing in a certain direction. “All the inhabitants are Roman Catholics, with the exception[39] of the mayor, of course; but for ten years they have been without a priest, without divine service, without a church.”

“I think I see a church,” remarked Beck.

“Yes, the church is there, but it has been closed for ten years. The former Roman Catholic pastor, who persisted in preaching upon the dignity of man, the liberty of the children of God, and even of the pope and other dangerous things, was transported to Siberia, and the church was closed by my command.”

“I admire your eminently practical method,” observed the guest from Berlin. “We would not dare as yet to do such a thing in the new German Empire.”

“But it will be done in good time,” replied the Russian.

The carriage, in returning, had by this time reached the outskirts of the city.

“Ah!” exclaimed Herr Schulze in joyful surprise, “the huts have already disappeared. I shall write at once to my friends in Berlin, and apprise them of the expeditious manner in which the Russian government acts.”



What mist hath dimd that glorious face? what seas of griefe my sun doth tosse?

The golden raies of heauenly grace lies now eclipsèd on the crosse.

Iesus! my loue, my Sonne, my God, behold Thy mother washt in teares:

Thy bloudie woundes be made a rod to chasten these my latter yeares.

You cruell Iewes, come worke your ire, vpon this worthlesse flesh of mine:

And kindle not eternall fire, by wounding Him which is diuine.

Thou messenger that didst impart His first descent into my wombe,

Come help me now to cleaue my heart, that there I may my Sonne intombe.

You angels all, that present were, to shew His birth with harmonie;

Why are you not now readie here, to make a mourning symphony?

The cause I know, you waile alone and shed your teares in secresie,

Lest I should mouèd be to mone, by force of heauie companie.

But waile my soul, thy comfort dies, my wofull wombe, lament thy fruit;

My heart giue teares unto my eies, let Sorrow string my heauy lute.





“Hoist up sail while gale doth last,
Tide and wind stay no man’s pleasure:

Seek not time when time is past,
Sober speed is wisdom’s leisure.

After-wits are dearly bought,
Let thy fore-wit guide thy thought.”

“Time wears all his locks before,
Take thou hold upon his forehead;

When he flies, he turns no more,
And behind his scalp is naked.

Works adjourn’d have many stays;
Long demurs breed new delays.”

Robert Southwell, 1593.[18]

Concerning the writer of these beautiful lines, the English historian, Stow, makes the following brief mention in his Chronicle: “February 20, 1594-5.—Southwell, a Jesuit, that long time had lain prisoner in the Tower of London, was arraigned at the King’s Bench bar. He was condemned, and on the next morning drawn from Newgate to Tyburn, and there hanged, bowelled, and quartered.” From this account we are unable to discover that the man whose judicial murder Stow thus records was put to death for any offence but that of being a Jesuit, and of having “long time lain in prison in the Tower of London.” And yet, in thus stating the case, Stow tells the simple truth; for Southwell was guilty of no more serious crime than his sacerdotal character, and of suffering the imprisonment and tortures inflicted upon him in consequence thereof. For three years previous to his death he had been in prison and in the Tower, had lain in noisome and filthy dungeons, and been subjected many times to torture and the rack. From the high social position of his family, the fame of his literary accomplishments, his admirable and saintly bearing as a missionary priest in England, for six long years carrying his life in his hand while ministering to a scattered flock, obliged to move from place to place in disguise as though he were a malefactor, and finally, from the wonderful fortitude and constancy with which he was said to have suffered torture, his case was very generally known in London, and deeply commiserated even by many Protestants. So deep and widespread, indeed, was this sympathy that, when it was determined by the officers of the crown to try and condemn him on one and the same day, and execute him the next morning, they withheld from the public all announcement of his execution, meanwhile giving notice of the hanging of a famous highwayman in another place in order to draw off the concourse of spectators. But it availed not, for there were many who kept so close a watch upon the movements[41] at Newgate, to which prison he had been removed a few days before his trial, that, when Southwell was brought out to be drawn on a sled or hurdle to the place of execution at Tyburn, he was followed by great numbers of people, and among them many persons of distinction, who witnessed the carrying out of his dreadful sentence, which was that he should be “hung, bowelled, and quartered.”

That our readers may understand that our qualification of Southwell’s execution as a judicial murder is not the result of mere personal sympathy or of religious prejudice, we will here record the judgment of several Protestant authorities, who speak out concerning it in a manner not to be misunderstood. In the valuable Cyclopædia of English Literature, by Chambers, we read concerning Southwell that, after having ministered secretly but zealously to the scattered adherents of his creed, “without, as far as is known, doing anything to disturb the peace of society, he was apprehended and committed to a dungeon in the Tower, so noisome and filthy that, when he was brought out for examination, his clothes were covered with vermin. Upon this his father, a man of good family, presented a petition to Queen Elizabeth, begging that, if his son had committed anything for which, by the laws, he had deserved death, he might suffer death; if not, as he was a gentleman, he begged her majesty would be pleased to order him to be treated as a gentleman. Southwell after this was somewhat better lodged, but an imprisonment of three years, with ten inflictions of the rack, wore out his patience, and he entreated to be brought to trial. Cecil is said to have made the brutal remark that, ‘if he was in so much haste to be hanged, he should quickly have his desire.’ Being at the trial found guilty, upon his own confession, of being a Romish priest, he was condemned to death, and executed at Tyburn accordingly, with all the horrible circumstances dictated by the old treason laws of England. Throughout all these scenes he behaved with a mild fortitude which nothing but a highly regulated mind and satisfied conscience could have prompted.”

Cleveland (Compendium of English Literature, p. 88), after stating the circumstances of Southwell’s imprisonment, trial, and execution, remarks: “The whole proceeding should cover the authors of it with everlasting infamy. It is a foul stain upon the garments of the maiden queen that she can never wipe off. There was not a particle of evidence at his trial that this pious and accomplished poet meditated any evil designs against the government. He did what he had a perfect right to do; ay, what it was his duty to do, if he conscientiously thought he was right—endeavor to make converts to his faith, so far as he could without interfering with the right of others. If there be anything to be execrated, it is persecution for opinion’s sake.”

Allibone, in his Dictionary of English Literature, says that Southwell, “to the disgrace of the English government, suffered as a martyr at Tyburn, February 21, 1595, after three years’ imprisonment in the Tower, during which it is asserted he was ten times subjected to the torture. He was a good poet, a good prose writer, and a better Christian than his brutal persecutors.”

Old Fuller, in his Worthies of England, as might be expected, views Southwell with a stern English Protestant eye, and thus dismisses him: “Robert Southwell was born in this county (Norfolk), as Pitsons affirmeth, who, although often mistaken[42] in his locality, may be believed herein, as professing himself familiarly acquainted with him at Rome. But the matter is not much where he was born, seeing, though cried up by men of his own profession for his many books in verse and prose, he was reputed a dangerous enemy by the state, for which he was imprisoned and executed March the 3d, 1595” (vol. iii. p. 187).

Robert Southwell was the third son of Richard Southwell, Esq., of Horsham, St. Faith’s, Norfolk. The curious in genealogy, while investigating family lines associated with the Southwell pedigree, have found connected with it, in degrees more or less near, the names of Paston, Sidney, Howard, Newton, and Percy Bysshe Shelley. Of his early years there is but slight record, save that, when still very young, he was sent to Douai to be educated. From Douai he passed to Paris and thence to Rome, where, in 1578, before he had yet reached the age of seventeen, he was received into the order of the Society of Jesus. On completion of his novitiate and termination of the courses of philosophy and theology, he was made prefect of studies of the English College at Rome. Ordained priest in 1584, and, as appears from his letter addressed, February 20, 1585, to the general of the order, seeking the “perilous” errand wherein his future martyrdom seems rather to have been anticipated than merely referred to as a simple possibility,[19] he left Rome on the 8th of May, 1586, a missionary to his native land, or, in other words, took up his line of march for the scaffold and for heaven. We have, naturally enough, but scant record of the young priest’s journey to and arrival in England; for, as the mere landing in England by a Catholic priest was then a penal offence punishable with death, Southwell’s return to his native country was surrounded as much as possible by secrecy. Although yearning to visit his home and embrace his family, he carefully abstained from going near them—of doing that which, in his quaint phrase of the day, “maketh my presence perilous.” But he was aware that his father was in danger of losing, if he had not already lost, his faith; and these fears were almost confirmed by the facts that he had formed a marriage with a lady of the court, and that his wealth gave him entrance to court circles which were necessarily violently Protestant. Deeply solicitous for his father’s spiritual condition, he therefore addressed him a letter of admonition and advice, not less remarkable for its tone of affection than for its energy and eloquence. We cite it in another place.


At a time when, as Mr. Grosart says, “it was a crime to be a Catholic: it was proof of high treason to be a priest: it was to invite ‘hunting’ as of a wild beast to be a Jesuit,” we cannot reasonably look for many recorded traces of Father Southwell’s presence and journeyings to and fro while in England. He could only move in disguise or under the darkness of night; he was liable to be thrown into prison anywhere on the merest suspicion of any irresponsible accuser. The few Catholics who were ready to give him shelter and hospitality did so with the halter around their necks; for confiscation and death were the penalty, as they well knew, for “harboring” a priest. It is nevertheless certain that his refuge in London was the mansion of the Countess of Arundel, whose husband, Philip Howard, Earl of[43] Arundel, was imprisoned in the Tower, and died there, the noblest victim to the jealous and suspicious tyranny of Elizabeth, non sine veneni suspicione, as his epitaph still testifies.

Hundreds of Southwell’s letters to his superiors still exist, but they are all from necessity written in such general terms and in so guarded a manner as to afford but little historical information. Here is one of them, as given by Bishop Challoner in his Memoirs of Missionary Priests:

1. “As yet we are alive and well, being unworthy, it seems, of prisons. We have oftener sent, than received, letters from your parts, tho’ they are not sent without difficulty; and some, we know, have been lost.”

2. “The condition of Catholic recusants here is the same as usual, deplorable and full of fears and dangers, more especially since our adversaries have look’d for wars. As many of ours as are in chains rejoice and are comforted in their prisons; and they that are at liberty set not their heart upon it, nor expect it to be of long continuance. All by the great goodness and mercy of God arm themselves to suffer anything that can come, how hard soever it may be, as it shall please our Lord; for whose greater glory, and the salvation of their souls, they are more concerned than for any temporal losses.”

3. “A little while ago, they apprehended two priests, who have suffered such cruel usages in the prison of Bridewell as can scarce be believed. What was given them to eat was so little in quantity, and, withal, so filthy and nauseous, that the very sight was enough to turn their stomachs. The labors to which they obliged them were continual and immoderate, and no less in sickness than in health; for, with hard blows and stripes, they forced them to accomplish their task how weak soever they were. Their beds were dirty straw, and their prison most filthy. Some are there hung up for whole days by the hands, in such a manner that they can but just touch the ground with the tips of their toes. This purgatory we are looking for every hour, in which Topcliffe and Young, the two executioners of the Catholics, exercise all kinds of torments. But come what pleaseth God, we hope we shall be able to bear all in him that strengthens us. I most humbly recommend myself to the holy sacrifices of your reverence and of all our friends. (January 15, 1590.)”


In a work[20] published so lately as 1871, we catch a few fugitive glances of Father Robert Southwell. Father Gerard spoke of him at the time (1585) as “excelling in the art of helping and gaining souls, being at once prudent, pious, meek, and exceedingly winning.”

A descent was made by the pursuivants upon a house in the country, where the two fathers happened to be together, and but for the devotion of the domestics the two missionaries would have been captured. They escaped, however, and journeyed away together. The peculiar danger they were then subjected to was that arising from intercourse with the gentry. Father Gerard tells of a gentleman who violently suspected him, and adds: “After a day or so he quite abandoned all mistrust, as I spoke of hunting and falconry with all the details that none but a practised person could command.” He concludes: “For many make sad blunders in attempting this, as Father Southwell, who was afterwards my[44] companion in many journeys, was wont to complain. He frequently got me to instruct him in the technical terms of sport, and used to complain of his bad memory for such things; for on many occasions when he fell in with Protestant gentlemen he found it necessary to speak of these matters, which are the sole topics of their conversations, save when they talk obscenity or break out into blasphemies and abuse of the saints or the Catholic faith.”

With danger of possible arrest at every house and on every road, followed by swift and barbarous execution, Father Southwell for six long years carried his life in his hand.


“Granted,” says his Protestant biographer (Grosart, xlix.), “that in our Southwell’s years 1588 is included, and that the shadow of the coming of the Armada lay across England from the very moment of his arrival; granted that, in the teeth of their instructions, there were priests and members of the Society of Jesus who deemed they did God service by ‘plotting’ for the restoration of the old ‘faith and worship’ after a worldly sort; granted that politically and civilly the nation was, in a sense, in the throes of since-achieved liberties; granted that Mary, all too sadly, even tremendously, earned her epithet of ‘Bloody’; granted that the very mysticism, not to say mystery, of the ‘higher’ sovereignty claimed for him who wore the tiara, acted as darkness does with sounds the most innocent; granted nearly all that Protestantism claims in its apology as defence—it must be regarded as a stigma on the statesmanship and a stain on the Christianity of the reformed Church of England, as well as a sorrow to all right-minded and right-hearted, that the ‘convictions’ of those who could not in conscience ‘change’ at the bidding of Henry VIII., Elizabeth, or James were not respected; that ‘opinion,’ or, if you will, ‘error,’ was put down (or attempted to be put down) by force, and that the headsman’s axe and hangman’s rope were the only instrumentalities thought of. The State Trials remain to bring a blush to every lover of his country for the brutal and ‘hard’ mockery of justice in the higher courts of law whenever a priest was concerned—as later with the Puritans and Nonconformists.”


With malignant pursuit that never slackened, and that old peril of S. Paul, “false brethren,” Southwell’s arrest was, of course, a mere question of time. His day came at last, after six years of labor and danger in the field. The circumstances are as follows, from Turnbull, verified by other authorities. There was resident at Uxenden, near Harrow on the Hill, in Middlesex, a Catholic family by the name of Bellamy, occasionally visited by Southwell for the purpose of religious instruction. One of the daughters, Ann, had in her early youth exhibited marks of the most vivid and unshakable piety; but having been committed to the gatehouse of Westminster, her faith gradually departed, and along with it her virtue: for, having formed an intrigue with the keeper of the prison, she subsequently married him, and by this step forfeited all claim which she had by law or favor upon her father. In order, therefore, to obtain some fortune, she resolved to take advantage of the act of 27 Elizabeth, which made the harboring of a priest treason, with confiscation of the offender’s goods. Accordingly she sent a messenger to Southwell, urging him[45] to meet her on a certain day and hour at her father’s house; whither he, either in ignorance of what had happened, or under the impression that she sought his spiritual assistance through motives of penitence, went at the appointed time. In the meanwhile, having apprised her husband of this, as also the place of concealment in her father’s house and the mode of access, he conveyed the information to Topcliffe, an implacable persecutor and denouncer of the Catholics, who, with a band of his satellites, surrounded the premises, broke open the house, arrested his reverence, and carried him off in open day, exposed to the gaze of the populace. Topcliffe carried Southwell to his own (Topcliffe’s) dwelling, and there, in the course of ten weeks, tortured him with such pitiless severity that the unhappy victim, complaining of it to his judges, declared that death would have been preferable. A letter, qualified by Grosart as “fawning, cruel, and abominable,” written by this human bloodhound, Topcliffe, and addressed to no less a personage than Queen Elizabeth, reports the capture and torture of Southwell, and states, with details, how he proposes further to torture him.

The letter is dated Westminster, June 22, 1592, and advises the queen: “I have him here within my strong chamber in Westminster churchyard (i.e. the gatehouse). I have made him assured for starting or hurting of himself by putting upon his arms a pair of;[21] and so to keep him either from view or conference with any but Nicolas, the underkeeper of the gatehouse.... Upon this present taking of him it is good forthwith to enforce him to answer truly and directly; and so to prove his answers true in haste, to the end that such as he be deeply concerned in his treachery may not have time to start, or make shift to use any means in common prisons; either to stand upon or against the wall will give warning. But if your highness’ pleasure be to know anything in his heart, to stand against the wall, his feet standing upon the ground, and his hands put as high as he can reach against the wall (like a trick at Tremshemarn), will enforce him to tell all; and the truth proven by the sequel....[22] It may please your majesty to consider, I never did take so weighty a man, if he be rightly considered.”[23]

The reader will here readily recognize a partial description of one of the modes of torture then most common in use throughout the reign of Elizabeth. It seems that it was “her highness’ pleasure” to know something that was in this poor martyr’s heart, for Southwell was afterwards again repeatedly tortured. The intimate personal relations existing between the virgin queen and this man Topcliffe, whose very name was a stench in the nostrils of Protestants of respectable behavior, were maintained long after the Southwell capture, as we learn from the best authority. The cruelty of Elizabeth was only surpassed by her mendacity, as her mendacity was only exceeded by her mean parsimony, and when she travelled or made progress from one country to another it was always at the expense of her good and loyal subjects. Eventually the announcement of a visit from their[46] good queen, received outwardly with such declarations as might naturally follow the promise of the call of a special envoy from heaven, was in reality looked upon as the coming of a terrible calamity. It was at that time considered at the English court—where, as we all know, all the civil and religious virtues had taken refuge—an excellent jest to so direct the course of the queen’s progress as to make her visits fall at the residences of well-known Catholic gentlemen. It is only necessary to say that the anniversary of all such events yet lives in the traditions of the descendants of such families as that of a day of horror. The royal retinue treated the house like a captured place, and it was well for the proprietor if confiscation or death, or both, were not the sole reward of his generous hospitality.

Mr. Topcliffe gives us valuable information on this point. On the 30th of August, 1578, he writes to the Earl of Shrewsbury: “The next good news (not in account the highest), her majesty hath served God with great zeal and comfortable examples; for by her council the two notorious papists, young Rookwood (the master of Ewston Hall, where her majesty did lie upon Sunday now a fortnight), and one Downs, a gentleman, were both committed, the one to the town prison at Norwich, the other to the county prison there, for obstinate papistry; and seven more gentlemen of worship were committed to several houses in Norwich as prisoners; two of the Lovells, another Downs, one Benings, one Parry, and two others.... Her majesty, by some means I know not, was lodged at his (Rookwood’s) house, Ewston, far unmeet for her highness, but fitter for the blackguard; nevertheless her excellent majesty gave to Rookwood ordinary thanks for his bad house, and her fair hand to kiss; after which it was braved at. But my lord chamberlain, nobly and gravely understanding that Rookwood was excommunicated for papistry, called him before him, demanded of him how he durst presume to attempt her real presence, he, unfit to accompany any Christian person; forthwith said he was fitter for a pair of stocks; commanded him out of the court, and yet to attend her council’s pleasure; and at Norwich he was committed,”[24] etc. etc. In the beginning of the letter Topcliffe “joys at her majesty’s gracious favor and affiance in your lordship—next some comfort I received of her for myself that must ever lie nearest my own heart.” Tender Topcliffe! But we must have “no scandal about Queen Elizabeth,” and our most delicate susceptibilities for the fair fame of the royal virgin may be quieted by the certainty that the comfort nearest the human bloodhound’s “own heart” was something substantial—a country house, an estate, or the like.

Lodge says that this Topcliffe was respectably connected, but that he could only find that he was distinguished as a most implacable persecutor of Roman Catholics. In a letter of Sir Anthony Standen, in which he praises the agreeable manners of the Earl of Essex, he writes: “Contrary to our Topcliffian customs, he hath won more with words than others could do with racks.” From another letter of the period it appears that Topcliffzare in the quaint language of the court signified to hunt a recusant.

But to return to Southwell. Transferred to a dungeon in the Tower, “so noisome and filthy that, when he was brought out at the end of the month, his clothes were[47] covered with vermin,” his father wrote to her majesty Queen Elizabeth the letter we have already mentioned. This petition was to some extent regarded. A better lodging was allowed him, and leave accorded his father to supply him with “cloaths and other necessaries”; and amongst the rest, with books which he asked for, which were only the Holy Bible and the works of S. Bernard. “The selection of books,” says Mr. Grosart, “the book of books, and the father of the fathers, for a poet is very noteworthy; and through all his weary imprisonment ‘spiritual things,’ not civil or earthly, were his theme when he discoursed to his sister Mary (Mrs. Bannister) or others permitted occasionally to visit him.”


We adopt mainly the relation of Southwell’s trial and execution as it is given by Bishop Challoner, supported by a Latin MS. preserved in the archives of the English College of S. Omer’s:

“After Father Southwell had been kept close prisoner for three years in the Tower, he sent an epistle to Cecil, Lord Treasurer, humbly entreating his lordship that he might either be brought upon his trial to answer for himself, or at least that his friends might have leave to come and see him. The treasurer answered that, if he was in so much haste to be hanged, he should quickly have his desire. Shortly after this orders were given that he should be removed from the Tower to Newgate, where he was put down into the dungeon called Limbo, and there kept for three days.

“On the 22d of February, without any previous warning to prepare for his trial, he was taken out of his dark lodging and hurried to Westminster, to hold up his hand there at the bar. The first news of this step towards his martyrdom filled his heart with a joy which he could not conceal. The judges before whom he was to appear were Lord Chief-Justice Popham, Justice Owen, Baron Evans, and Sergeant Daniel. As soon as Father Southwell was brought in, the lord chief-justice made a long and vehement speech against the Jesuits and seminary priests, as the authors and contrivers of all the plots and treasons which, he pretended, had been hatched during that reign. Then was read the bill of indictment against Father Southwell, drawn up by Cook, the queen’s solicitor.”


It would be well to remark here that Protestants nowadays frequently contend that the missionary priests judicially murdered during the reign of Elizabeth were not executed on account of their religion, but because they were stirrers up of sedition and traitors, and were in every case so proven to be upon their respective trials. The good people who set up such pretext are sadly in ignorance of the history of that dark period. So far from asserting the slightest pretence of guilt on the part of such acts accused of as commonly constitute sedition and high treason, the statute of Elizabeth under which they were sent to the gallows only made it necessary to show that they were Englishmen and Catholic priests, and were arrested in England. The statute, in fact, enacted substantially that, “if any Jesuit, seminary priest, or deacon, or religious or ecclesiastical person whatever, born within the realm, shall come into, be, or remain in any part of this realm, every such offence shall be taken and adjudged to be high treason.” The indictment against Southwell was “drawn up by[48] Cook, the queen’s solicitor,” says the S. Omer MS. Now, “Cook, the queen’s solicitor” here referred to was no less a personage than the great Coke. Here is the indictment presented by him in Southwell’s case, from which it will be seen that the prisoner was charged only with the crimes of, first, being a priest of English birth; second, of having remained in the county of Middlesex:

“The jury present, on the part of our sovereign lady the queen, that Robert Southwell, late of London, clerk, born within this kingdom of England; to wit, since the feast of S. John the Baptist, in the first year of the reign of her majesty, and before the first day of May, in the thirty-second year of the reign of our lady the queen aforesaid, made and ordained priest by authority derived and pretended from the See of Rome; not having the fear of God before his eyes, and slighting the laws and statutes of this realm of England, without any regard to the penalty therein contained, on the 20th day of June, the thirty-fourth year of the reign of our lady the queen, at Uxenden, in the county of Middlesex, traitorously, and as a false traitor to our lady the queen, was and remained, contrary to the form of the statute in such case set forth and provided, and contrary to the peace of our said lady the queen, her crown, and dignities.”

The grand jury having found the bill, Father Southwell was ordered to come up to the bar. He readily obeyed, and, bowing down his head, made a low reverence to his judges; then modestly held up his hand according to custom, and, being asked whether he was guilty or not guilty, he answered, “I confess that I was born in England, a subject to the queen’s majesty, and that, by authority derived from God, I have been promoted to the sacred order of priesthood in the Roman Church, for which I return most hearty thanks to his divine Majesty. I confess, also, that I was at Uxenden, in Middlesex, at that time, when, being sent for thither by trick and deceit, I fell into your hands, as is well known; but that I never entertained any designs or plots against the queen or kingdom, I call God to witness, the revenger of perjury; neither had I any other design in returning home to my native country than to administer the sacraments according to the rite of the Catholic Church to such as desired them.”

Here the judge interrupted him, and told him that he was to let all that alone, and plead directly guilty or not guilty. Upon which he said, he was not guilty of any treason whatsoever. And being asked by what he would be tried, he said, “By God and by you.” The judge told him he was to answer, “By God and his country,” which, at first, he refused, alleging that the laws of his country were disagreeable to the law of God, and that he was unwilling these poor harmless men of the jury, whom they obliged to represent the country, should have any share in their guilt, or any hand in his death. “But,” said he, “if through your iniquity it must be so, and I cannot help it, be it as you will; I am ready to be judged by God and my country.” When the twelve were to be sworn, he challenged none of them, saying that they were all equally strangers to him, and therefore charity did not allow him to except against any one of them more than another.

After Coke had presented the case to the jury, they went aside to consult about the verdict, and in a short time brought him in guilty. He was asked if he had anything more to say for himself why sentence should not be pronounced against him? He said: “Nothing; but from my heart I beg of Almighty God to forgive all who have been any ways accessory to my death.” The judge having[49] pronounced sentence according to the usual form, Father Southwell made a very low bow, returning him most hearty thanks as for an unspeakable favor. The judge offered him the help of a minister to prepare him to die. Father Southwell desired he would not trouble him upon that head; that the grace of God would be more than sufficient for him. And so, being sent back to Newgate through the streets, lined with people, he discovered, all the way, the overflowing joy of his heart in his eyes, in his whole countenance, and in every gesture and motion of his body. He was again put down into limbo, at his return to Newgate, where he spent the following night, the last of his life, in prayer, full of the thoughts of the journey he was to take the next day, through the gate of martyrdom, into a happy eternity; to enjoy for ever the sovereign object of his love.

We have seen by what device and with what ill success the officials directing the execution sought, on the next morning, to draw away the crowd from Tyburn where Father Southwell was to be “hung, bowelled, and quartered.”


The modern reader generally, and very naturally, supposes that this sentence, horrible as it is in its simplest form, would be carried out as stated, that is to say, that, when the condemned man was hung until dead, his body was then butchered as described. This probably was the intention of the law, and the latter two of the three incidents of the executions were intended more as indignities to the remains of a criminal supposed to be guilty of the greatest of human crimes than as any part of the means of procuring death. But under the reign of Elizabeth the cruelty and bestiality of the mode in which the horrible sentence was carried out had reached its height. As a general thing, the victim was butchered alive. According to the whim or the bloodthirstiness of the executioner, the condemned man was allowed to hang a short time, or he was scarcely swung off before he was cut down and the hangman was—as he is described in a well-known phrase—“grabbling among his entrails.” Sometimes the executioner would spring upon the body as it was swung off, and plunge his knife into the victim before they reached the ground in their fall together. When a young priest named Edward Genings was executed, in 1591, the butchery was superintended by Topcliffe, who adjured the victim to submit and recant and he should be pardoned. His reply was: “I know not in what I have offended my dear anointed princess; if I had, I would willingly ask forgiveness. If she be offended with me because I am a priest, and because I profess my faith and will not turn minister against my conscience, I shall be, I trust, excused and innocent before God. I must obey God, saith S. Peter, rather than men.” At this Topcliffe was enraged, and bade the hangman turn the ladder; scarcely giving him time to say a Pater Noster. Cut down by his order before he was dead, the butchery began, and, the hangman’s hand being already on his heart, Genings was heard to say, “Sancte Gregori, ora pro me!”—which the hangman hearing, he swore, “Zounds, see, his heart is in my hand, and yet Gregory is in his mouth! O egregious papist!”[25]

We return to Father Southwell,[50] who was drawn on a hurdle or sled from Newgate to Tyburn, and resume the account of the S. Omer’s MS.: “When he was come to the place, getting up into the cart, he made the sign of the cross in the best manner that he could, his hands being pinion’d, and began to speak to the people those words of the apostle (Rom. xiv), ‘Whether we live, we live to the Lord, or whether we die, we die to the Lord; therefore, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord.’ Here the sheriff would have interrupted him, but he begged leave that he might go on, assuring him that he would utter nothing that should give offence. Then he spoke as follows: ‘I am come to this place to finish my course, and to pass out of this miserable life; and I beg of my Lord Jesus Christ, in whose most precious Passion and Blood I place my hope of salvation, that he would have mercy on my soul. I confess I am a Catholic priest of the Holy Roman Church, and a religious man of the Society of Jesus; on which account I owe eternal thanks and praises to my God and Saviour.’ Here he was interrupted by a minister telling him that, if he understood what he had said in the sense of the Council of Trent, it was damnable doctrine. But the minister was silenc’d by the standers-by, and Mr. Southwell went on, saying: ‘Sir, I beg of you not to be troublesome to me for this short time that I have to live: I am a Catholic, and in whatever manner you may please to interpret my words, I hope for my salvation by the merits of Our Lord Jesus Christ; and as to the queen, I never attempted, nor contrived, or imagined any evil against her, but have always prayed for her to Our Lord, and for this short time of my life still pray, that, in his infinite mercy, he would be pleased to give her all such gifts and graces which he sees, in his divine wisdom, to be most expedient for the welfare both of her soul and body, in this life and in the next. I recommend in like manner, to the same mercy of God, my poor country, and I implore the divine bounty to favor it with his light and the knowledge of his truth, to the greater advancement of the salvation of souls, and the eternal glory of his divine Majesty. In fine, I beg of the almighty and everlasting God, that this my death may be for my own and for my country’s good, and the comfort of the Catholics my brethren.’

“Having finished these words, and looking for the cart to be immediately drove away, he again blessed himself, and, with his eyes raised to heaven, repeated with great calmness of mind and countenance, ‘Into thy hands, O Lord, I commend my spirit,’ with other short ejaculations, till the cart was drawn off. The unskilful hangman had not applied the noose of the rope to the proper place, so that he several times made the sign of the cross whilst he was hanging, and was some time before he was strangled, which some perceiving, drew him by the legs to put an end to his pain, and when the executioner was for cutting the rope before he was dead, the gentlemen and people that were present cried out three several times, ‘Hold, hold!’ for the behavior of the servant of God was so edifying in these his last moments, that even the Protestants who were present at the execution were much affected with the sight.” After he was dead he was cut down and the remainder of the sentence carried out. Turnbull relates that “Lord Mountjoy (Charles Blount), who happened to be present, was so struck by the martyr’s constancy that he exclaimed,[51] ‘May my soul be with this man’s!’ and he assisted in restraining those who would have cut the rope while he was still in life.”

Father Southwell’s reverend and Protestant biographer declares, in concluding his relation of the execution: “I must regard our worthy as a ‘martyr’ in the deepest and grandest sense—a good man, and full of the Holy Ghost. I should blush for my Protestantism if I did not hold in honor, yea reverence, his stainless and beautiful memory.

‘Through this desert, day by day,
Wandered not his steps astray,
Treading still the royal way.’

Paradisus Animæ.

“So perished Father Southwell, at thirty-three years of age, and so, unhappily, have perished many of the wise and virtuous of the earth. Conscious of suffering in the supposed best of causes, he seems to have met death without terror—to have received the crown of martyrdom not only with resignation, but with joy.”[26]

It is matter of regret that there exists no authentic portrait of Southwell. His biographer is of opinion that a genuine likeness of him would have shown an intellectual, etherealized face, and fancies that he might have sat for the portrait of the Prior in The Lady of Garaye:

“Tender his words, and eloquently wise;
Mild the pure fervor of his watchful eyes;
Meek with serenity and constant prayer,
The luminous forehead, high and broad and bare.
The thin mouth, though not passionless, yet still
With a sweet calm that speaks an angel’s will.
Resolving service to his God’s behest,
And ever musing how to serve him best,
Not old, nor young; with manhood’s gentlest grace,
Pale to transparency the pensive face,
Pale not with sickness but with studious thought,
The body tasked, the fine mind overwrought;
With something faint and fragile in the whole,
As though ‘twere but a lamp to hold a soul.”


And here, first, a few words on the prose writings of Southwell. We have already referred to the remarkable letter of admonition by him addressed to his father. It is a severe test to put the prose of any cultivated language to that of comparison with the productions of the same tongue nearly three centuries later. And yet this letter will support such comparison surprisingly well both as to substance and style. The reader will bear in mind the peculiar circumstances under which Southwell addressed this


“I am not of so unnatural a kind, of so wild an education, or so unchristian a spirit, as not to remember the root out of which I have branched, or to forget my secondary maker and author of my being. It is not the carelessness of a cold affection, nor the want of a due and reverent respect, that has made me such a stranger to my native home, and so backward in defraying the debt of a thankful mind, but only the iniquity of these days that maketh my presence perilous, and the discharge of my duties an occasion of danger. I was loath to enforce an unwilling courtesy upon any, or by seeming officious to become offensive; deeming it better to let time digest the fear that my return into the realm had bred in my kindred than abruptly to intrude myself, and to purchase their danger, whose good-will I so highly esteem. I never doubted but what the belief, which to all my friends by descent and pedigree is, in a manner, hereditary, framed in them a right persuasion of my present calling, not suffering them to measure their censures of me by the ugly terms and odious epithets wherewith heresy hath sought to discredit my functions, but rather by the reverence of so worthy a sacrament and the sacred usages of all former ages. Yet, because I might easily perceive by apparent conjectures that many were more willing to hear of me than from me, and readier to[52] praise than to use my endeavors, I have hitherto bridled my desire to see them by the care and jealousy of their safety; and banished myself from the scene of my cradle in my own country. I have lived like a foreigner, finding among strangers that which, in my nearest blood, I presumed not to seek.”

Then, regretting that he has been barred from affording to his dearest friends that which hath been eagerly sought and beneficially attained by mere strangers, he exclaims passionately:

“Who hath more interest in the grape than he who planted the vine? Who more right to the crop than he who sowed the corn? or where can the child owe so great service as to him to whom he is indebted for his very life and being? With young Tobias I have travelled far, and brought home a freight of spiritual sustenance to enrich you, and medicinable receipts against your ghostly maladies. I have with Esau, after long toil in pursuing a long and painful chase, returned with the full prey you were wont to love, desiring thereby to ensure your blessing. I have, in this general famine of all true and Christian food, with Joseph prepared abundance of the mead of angels for the repast of your soul. And now my desire is that my drugs may cure you, my prey delight you, and my provisions feed you, by whom I have been cured, enlightened, and fed myself; that your courtesies may, in part, be counterveiled, and my duty, in some sort, performed.

“Despise not, good sire, the youth of your son, neither deem your God measureth his endowments by number of years. Hoary senses are often couched under youthful locks, and some are riper in the spring than others in the autumn of their age. God chose not Esau himself, nor his eldest son, but young David, to conquer Goliath and to rule his people; not the most aged person, but David, the most innocent youth, delivered Susannah from the iniquity of the judges. Christ, at twelve years of age, was found in the temple questioning with the greatest doctors. A true Elias can conceive that a little cloud may cast a large and abundant shower; and the Scripture teacheth us that God unveileth to little ones that which he concealeth from the wisest sages. His truth is not abashed by the minority of the speaker; for out of the mouths of infants and sucklings he can perfect his praises.... The full of your spring-tide is now fallen, and the stream of your life waneth to a low ebb; your tired bark beginneth to leak, and grateth oft upon the gravel of the grave; therefore it is high time for you to strike sail and put into harbor, lest, remaining in the scope of the winds and waves of this wicked time, some unexpected gust should dash you upon the rock of eternal ruin.”

The entire letter is given in both Walter and Turnbull’s Memoirs of Southwell, and has been extravagantly praised as being the composition of Sir Walter Raleigh, among whose Remains it is frequently reprinted. Mr. Grosart, a Protestant clergyman, says of it: “I know nothing comparable with the mingled affection and prophetlike fidelity, the wise instruction, correction, reproof, the full rich scripturalness and quaint applications, the devoutness, the insistence, the pathos of this letter.” The edition of Sir Walter Raleigh’s Remains, published in London in 1675, was the subject of an article in the Retrospective Review for 1820, in which the reviewer remarks: “‘The Dutiful Advice of a Loving Son to his Aged Father’ is supposed to be a libel on Sir Walter, written by his enemies. It will be seen, however, that it bears a strong resemblance to his style, although the metaphor is more profuse and ornamental, and seems to be rather engrafted on his thoughts than to spring up with them. That this piece should be dictated by personal hostility is strange. It contains exhortations that might with the greatest propriety be directed to any man.

“It is possible that it might be written by another in imitation of Sir Walter Raleigh’s ‘Advice to his Son’; yet if he was an enemy, he was of a most uncommon description. As the advice, however, is worth quoting for[53] its own merit, and is written with great force and beauty, we shall give our readers an opportunity of judging for themselves.”

This letter is Southwell’s earliest dated prose, and was followed by a variety of treatises, epistles, and pamphlets, printed on the “private press” at his own house in London. Besides these, there remain several English and a large number of Latin prose writings still in manuscript. “Mary Magdalene’s Funerall Teares,” although prose in form, is in fact far more fervid and impassioned than the greater part of his poetry.


To the readers of poetry for its merely sensuous qualities of flowing measure, attractive imagery, and brilliant description, the poems of Southwell possess but few attractions. Their subjects are all religious, or, at least, serious; and, in reading him, we must totally forget the traditional pagan poet pictured to us as crowned with flowers, and holding in hand an overflowing anacreontic cup. Serious, indeed, his poems might well be, for they were all composed during the intervals of thirteen bodily rackings in a gloomy prison that opened only upon the scaffold. And yet we look in vain among them for expressions of the reproaches or repining such a fate might well engender, and we search with but scant result for record or trace of his own sufferings in the lines traced with fingers yet bent and smarting with the rack. The vanity of all earthly things, the trials of life, the folly and wickedness of the world, the uncertainty of life, and the consolations and glories of religion, are the constantly returning subjects of his productions, and, however treated, they always reflect the benignity and elevation of the poet’s character.

Certain it is that Southwell was largely read by the generation that immediately succeeded him. Many years ago, Ellis[27] said: “The very few copies of his works which are now known to exist are the remnant of at least seventeen different editions, of which eleven were printed between 1593 and 1600”; and at a later period, Drake, in his Shakespeare and his Times, says:[28] “Both the poetry and the prose of Southwell possess the most decided merit; the former, which is almost entirely restricted to moral and religious subjects, flows in a vein of great harmony, perspicuity, and elegance, and breathes a fascination resulting from the subject and the pathetic mode of treating it which fixes and deeply interests the reader.”

A valuable tribute of admiration to Southwell’s poetic talent is that of Ben Jonson, who said: “that Southwell was hanged; yet so he (Jonson) had written that piece of his, ‘The Burning Babe,’ he would have been content to destroy many of his.”[29] Our readers, we are sure, will thank us for giving it here, although we strongly suspect that Mr. Grosart will not approve of its modern orthography.

As I in hoary winter’s night stood shivering in the snow,
Surprised I was with sudden heat, which made my heart to glow;
And lifting up a fearful eye to view what fire was near,
A pretty Babe all burning bright did in the air appear,
Who, scorched with excessive heat, such floods of tears did shed,
As though his floods should quench his flames which with his tears were fed;
Alas! quoth he, but newly born, in fiery heats I frye,
Yet none approach to warm their hearts or feel my fire but I!
My faultless breast the furnace is, the fuel wounding thorns,
[54]Love is the fire, and sighs the smoke, the ashes shame and scornes;
The fuel Justice layeth on, and Mercy blows the coals,
The metal in this furnace wrought are men’s defiled souls,
For which, as now, on fire I am, to work them to their good,
So will I melt into a bath to washe them in my blood:
With this he vanished out of sight, and swiftly shrunk away,
And straight I called unto mind that it was Christmas day.

Our limits will permit but slight citation from the body of Southwell’s poetry. He is most widely known by his chief poem “S. Peter’s Complaint,” consisting of one hundred and thirty-six stanzas (six-line). But his most attractive pieces are his shorter poems—“Times go by Turns,” “Content and Rich,”[30] “Life is but Loss,” “Look Home,” “Love’s servile Lot,” and the whole series on our Saviour and his Mother; and, making some allowance for the enthusiasm of our editor, no true lover of poetry who reads these productions of Southwell will seriously dissent from Mr. Grosart’s estimate of them. “The hastiest reader will come on ‘thinking’ and ‘feeling’ that are as musical as Apollo’s lute, and as fresh as a spring budding spray; and the wording of all (excepting over-alliteration and inversion occasionally), is throughout of the ‘pure well of English undefiled.’ When you take some of the Myrtæ and Mæoniæ pieces, and read and re-read them, you are struck with their condensation, their concinnity, their polish, their élan, their memorableness. Holiness is in them not as scent on love-locks, but as fragrance in the great Gardener’s flowers of fragrance. His tears are pure and white as the ‘dew of the morning.’ His smiles—for he has humor, even wit, that must have lurked in the burdened eyes and corners o’ mouth—are sunny as sunshine. As a whole, his poetry is healthy and strong, and, I think, has been more potential in our literature than appears on the surface. I do not think it would be hard to show that others of whom more is heard drew light from him, as well early as more recent, from Burns to Thomas Hood. For example, limiting as to the latter, I believe every reader who will compare the two deliberately will see in the ‘Vale of Tears’ the source of the latter’s immortal ‘Haunted House’—dim, faint, weak beside it, as the earth-hid bulb compared with the lovely blossom of hyacinth or tulip or lily, nevertheless really carrying in it the original of the mightier after-poem.”

Our warmest tribute of praise can render but scant justice to the intelligence, the industry, the erudition, the keen poetic sense, and the enthusiasm which the editor of the volume before us has devoted to what has evidently been to him a labor of love. Mr. Grosart is well known in the literary world as the editor of Crashawe and of Vaughan, as also of the forthcoming editions of Marvell,[55] Donne, and Sidney. His laboriously corrected version of our martyr-poet’s legacy has, it may be said, restored Southwell to us, so obscured had he become by mistakes, misprints, and false readings. Indeed Mr. Grosart’s somewhat jealous love of his subject betrays him into apparently harsh judgment on the efforts of others, when, for instance, he declares himself “vexed by the travesties on editing and mere carelessness of Walter earlier (1817) and Turnbull later (1856) in their so-called editions of the poems of Father Southwell,” adding: “Turnbull said contemptuously, ‘I refrain from criticism on Mr. Walter’s text’—severe but not undeserved, only his own is scarcely one whit better, and in places worse.”

There is one passage at the close of Mr. Grosart’s interesting preface which has a special interest for us as Americans. We mean his reference to the verdict pronounced on Father Southwell’s poetry by Prof. James Russell Lowell in his charming book My Study Windows. “It seems to me,” says Mr. Grosart, “harsh to brutality on the man (meet follower of him ‘the first true gentleman that ever breathed’); while on the poetry it rests on self-evidently the most superficial acquaintance and the hastiest generalization. To pronounce ‘S. Peter’s Complaint’ a ‘drawl’ of thirty pages of ‘maudlin repentance, in which the distinctions between the north and northeast sides of a (sic) sentimentality are worthy of Duns Scotus,’ shows about as much knowledge—that is, ignorance—of the poem as of the schoolman, and as another remark does of S. Peter; for, with admitted tedium, S. Peter’s complaint sounds depths of penitence and remorse, and utters out emotion that flames into passion very unforgettably, while there are felicities of metaphor, daintinesses of word-painting, brilliancies of inner-portraiture, scarcely to be matched in contemporary verse. The ‘paraphrase’ of David (to wit, ‘David’s Peccavi’) is a single short piece, and the ‘punning’ conceit, ‘fears are my feres,’ is common to some of England’s finest wits, and in the meaning of ‘fere’ not at all to be pronounced against. If we on this side of the Atlantic valued less the opinion of such a unique genius as Prof. Lowell’s, if we did not take him to our innermost love, we should less grieve over such a vulgar affront offered to a venerable name as his whole paragraph to Southwell. I shall indulge the hope of our edition reaching the ‘Study,’ and persuading to a real ‘study’ of these poems, and, if so, I do not despair of a voluntary reversal of the first judgment.”


pronounced Southwell to be the Goldsmith of our early poets; and ‘Content and Rich,’ and, ‘Dyer’s phansie turned to a Sinner’s Complaint’ warrant the great praise. But beneath the manner recalling Goldsmith, there is a purity and richness of thought, a naturalness, a fineness of expression, a harmony of versification, and occasionally a tide-flow of high-toned feeling, not to be met with in him.

“Nor will Prof. Lowell deem his (I fear) hasty (mis)judgment’s reconsideration too much to count on, after the present Archbishop of Dublin’s well-weighed words in his notes to his Household Book of English Poetry (1868):

“‘Hallam thinks that Southwell has been of late praised at least as much as he deserves. This may be so; yet, taking into account the finished beauty of such poems as this (“Lewd Love is Loss”) and No. 2 (“Times go by Turns”) of this collection, poems which, as far as[56] they go, leave nothing to be desired, he has scarcely been praised more than he deserves. How in earlier times he was rated, the fact that there were twenty-four editions of his poems will sufficiently testify; though probably the creed be professed, and the death which he died, may have had something to do with this. Robert Southwell was a seminary priest, and was executed at Tyburn in the reign of Queen Elizabeth, in conformity with a law, which even the persistent plottings of too many of these at once against the life of the sovereign and the life of the state must altogether fail to justify or excuse’ (pp. 391-392).

“To Archbishop Trench’s I add, as equally weighty and worthy, the fine and finely sympathetic yet discriminative judgment of Dr. George Macdonald in Antiphon as follows:

“‘I proceed to call up one WHO WAS A POET INDEED, although little known as such, being a Roman Catholic, a Jesuit even, and therefore, in Elizabeth’s reign, a traitor and subject to the penalties according (accruing)? Robert Southwell, thirteen times most cruelly tortured, could “not be induced to confess anything, not even the color of the horse whereon he rode on a certain day, lest from such indication his adversaries might conjecture in what house, or in company of what Catholics, he that day was,’ etc.

“I believe, then,” concludes Dr. Grosart, “I shall not appeal in vain to Prof. Lowell to give a few hours behind his ‘Study Windows’ to a reperusal of some of the poems of Southwell named by us and these sufficiently qualified critics.”


There is probably no article, not a necessity, which has employed so many heads and hands, and been the subject of such varied interests, as lace. The making of it has given employment to countless nunneries, where the ladies, working first and most heartily for the church, have also taught this art to their pupils as an accomplishment or a means of support. It was, indeed, so peculiarly the province of the religious that, long after it was done in the world, it still bore the name of “nun’s-work.”

In those old days when railroads were not, and when swamps and forests covered tracts of land now thick with villages and cities, country ladies made fine needle-work their chief occupation; and it was the custom in feudal times for the squires’ daughters to spend some time in the castle, in attendance on the châtelaine, where they learned to embroider and make lace. It was then a woman’s only resource, and was held in high esteem. In the cloisters of Westminster Abbey, one Catherine Sloper was laid to rest, in 1620, with the inscription on her tombstone that she was “exquisite at her needle.”

Millions of poor women, and even men and children, have earned their bread by this delicate labor; women of intelligence and fair estate have devoted their lives to it; and noble and regal ladies have been proud to excel in the art.

It is related that when Cardinals Wolsey and Campeggio went down to the palace at Bridewell to seek an interview with the repudiated wife of Henry VIII., they found her seated[57] among her ladies embroidering, and she came to meet them with a skein of red silk around her neck. In those days they wrought and made lace with colored silk. We can imagine how the bright floss must have trembled over the tumultuous beatings of that wronged heart during the cruel interview that followed.

But the work of Catherine of Aragon was not for vanity’s sake, nor even to pass the heavy hours. In her native Spain the rarest laces were made for the church, and not only nuns, but ladies of the world, wove pious thoughts in with that fairy web. Perhaps nowhere else, save in Rome, was the church lace so rich as in Spain. Images of favorite saints and Madonnas had wardrobes of regal magnificence, changed every day, and the altars and vestments were no less regally adorned.

Beckford writes that, in 1787, the Marchioness of Cogalhudo, wife of the eldest son of the semi-regal race of Medina Cœli, was appointed Mistress of the Robes to Our Lady of La Solidad, in Madrid, and that the office was much coveted.

It is supposed that the peasantry of Bedfordshire, in England, first learned lace-making through the charity of Queen Catherine. While at Ampthill, it is recorded that, when not at her devotions, she, with her ladies, “wrought a needle-work costly and artificially, which she intended for the honor of God to bestow on some of the churches.”

The country people had the greatest love and respect for the disgraced queen; and, till lately, the lace-makers held “Cattern’s Day,” the 25th of November, as the holiday of their craft, “in memory of good Queen Catherine, who, when trade was dull, burnt all her laces, and ordered new to be made. The ladies of the court followed her example, and the fabric once more revived.” Lace was and is considered a suitable present from a king to a pontiff. These earlier gifts were, it is true, sometimes of gold and silver lace wrought with precious stones, but they were scarcely more costly than the later white-thread points. In the Exhibition of 1859 was shown a dress valued at 200,000 francs, the most costly work ever executed at Alençon. This Napoleon III. purchased for the empress, who, it is said, presented it to his Holiness the Pope as a trimming for his rochet. Also, so early as the XIIIth century, the English cut-work was so fine that, according to Matthew Paris, Pope Innocent IV. sent official letters to some of the Cistercian abbots of England to procure a certain quantity of those vestments for his own use. His Holiness had seen and admired the orfrays of the English clergy.

The finest specimens extant of this old English work (opus Anglicanum) are the cope and maniple of S. Cuthbert, taken from his coffin many years ago in the cathedral of Durham, and now preserved in the chapter library of that city. One who has seen them declares them beautiful beyond description.

This work seems to have been at first used only for ecclesiastical purposes, and the making of it to have been a secret preserved in the monasteries.

Nor have the clergy been merely the wearers of lace. We hear of monks being praised for their skill in “imbrothering”; and S. Dunstan himself did not disdain to design patterns for church lace. Pattern-books for these needle-laces were made by monks as well as laymen, and plates in them represent men seated at the embroidering frame. Some of these old pattern books of the XVIth century[58] are preserved in the library of S. Geneviève at Paris, inherited from the monastery of that name. These books are prized and sought for as some of the earliest specimens of block-printing. But few remain, and doubtless their high price prevented them from being made in great numbers. Their place was taken by samplers, into which were copied the patterns desired. From these old lace-samplers come the later alphabetical samplers, which many now living will remember to have made in their youth.

Large quantities of rich old lace were lost in the last century, when the French Revolution brought in gauzes and blondes, and fashion tossed aside as worthless these exquisite products of the needle. In Italy, where the custom was to preserve old family lace, less was destroyed; but in England it was handed over to servants or farm people, or stowed away in attics, and afterwards burned. Some ladies gave point-laces which now they could not afford to buy, to their children to dress their dolls with. Sometimes it was thrown away as old rags.

In the church, however, fashion had no power, and old lace has been usually preserved. Some collections are exceedingly valuable. Notable among these is that of the Rohan family, who gave princes-archbishops to Strasbourg. Baroness de Oberkirck, in Memoirs of the Court of Louis XVI., writes: “We met the cardinal coming out of his chapel dressed in a soutane of scarlet moire and rochet of inestimable value. When, on great occasions, he officiates at Versailles, he wears an alb of old lace of needlepoint of such beauty that his assistants were almost afraid to touch it. His arms and device are worked in a medallion above the large flowers.” This alb is estimated at 100,000 livres.

It is impossible to exaggerate the extent to which lace was used prior to the French Revolution, or the immense extravagance of the sums spent on it. Everybody wore it, even servants emulating their masters and mistresses. It trimmed everything, from the towering Fontanges, which rose like a steeple from ladies’ heads, to the boot-tops and shoe-rosettes of men. Men wore lace ruffles not only at the wrist, but at the knee, lace ruffs, cravats, collars, and garters; and bed furniture was made of lace, or trimmed with it, costly as it was. A pair of ruffles would amount to 4,000 livres, a lady’s cap to 1,200 livres. We read that Mme. du Barry gave 487 francs for lace enough to trim a pillow-case, and 77 livres for a pair of ruffles. Lace fans were made in 1668, and lace-trimmed bouquet-holders are not a new fancy. When the Doge of Venice made his annual visit to the convent Delle Vergini, the lady abbess used to meet him in the parlor, surrounded by her novices, and present him a nosegay in a gold handle trimmed with the richest lace that could be found in Venice.

Voltaire says that the mysterious Iron Mask was passionately fond of fine linen and rich lace.

So extravagant had the use of this luxury become that in England there was an outcry against it, and the Puritans laid great stress on discarding vanity in clothing.

We have a little scene illustrative, between the Princess Mary and Lady Jane Grey. The princess had given the maiden some gorgeous dresses trimmed with lace. “What shall I do with it?” asks Lady Jane. “Gentlewoman, wear it,” was the reply, a little vexed, may be. “Nay,” says Lady Jane, “that were a shame to follow my Lady Mary against God’s will, and leave my Lady[59] Elizabeth, which followeth God’s will.”

“My Lady Elizabeth,” however, set aside her scruples before long, and, when queen, did not hesitate to adorn herself as bravely as she might, though she had no mind her fashions should be copied by the vulgar; for we read that, when the London Apprentices adopted white stitching and guards as ornaments for their collars, Queen Elizabeth forbade it, and ordered that the first transgressor should be publicly whipped in the hall of his company.

There is another incident, which, as one of the sex in whom vanity is supposed to be prominent, we take special pleasure in relating.

The Puritan nobles had not in dress conformed to Puritan rules as strictly as some desired, the foreign ambassadors dressing as richly as ever. When, therefore, the Spanish envoy accredited to the Protectorate of Cromwell arrived and was about to have an audience, Harrison begged Lord Warwick and Colonel Hutchinson to set an example by not wearing either gold or silver lace. These gentlemen did not disapprove of rich clothing, but, rather than give offence, they and their associates appeared the next day in plain black suits. But, to their astonishment, Harrison entered dressed in a scarlet coat so covered with lace and clinquant as to hide the material of which it was made. Whereupon Mrs. Hutchinson remarks that Harrison’s “godly speeches were only made that he might appear braver above the rest in the eyes of the strangers.”

Lace has frequently employed the thoughts of law-makers, and in 1698 was the subject of a legislative duel between England and Flanders. There was already in England an act prohibiting the importation of bone-lace (i.e. bobbin-lace), loom-lace, cut-work, and needle-work point; but this proving ineffectual, since everybody smuggled, another act was passed setting a penalty of twenty shillings a yard and forfeiture. We regret to learn that forfeiture meant, in some cases at least, burning, and that large quantities of the finest Flanders lace were seized and actually burned. It reminds one of the burning of Don Quixote’s library of chivalric records.

Flanders, however, with its nunneries full of lace-makers, and its thousands of people depending on the trade, had no mind to be thus crippled without retaliation. An act was immediately passed prohibiting the importation of English wool; whereupon the wool-staplers echoed with addition the groans of the lace-makers, and England was forced to repeal the act so far as the Low Countries were concerned.

As we have said, everybody in England smuggled lace in those days. Smuggling seems indeed to be everywhere looked on as the least shameful of law-breaking. But never, perhaps, were officers of the customs as incorruptible as these. Suspicious persons were searched, no matter what their rank, and no person living within miles of a seaport dared to wear a bit of foreign lace unless they could prove that it had been honestly obtained. Many were the devices by which men and women sought to elude the customs. When a deceased clergyman of the English Church was conveyed home from the Low Countries for burial, it was found that only his head, hands, and feet were in the coffin—the body had been replaced by Flanders lace of immense value. Years after, when the body of his Grace the Duke of Devonshire, who had died in France, was brought over, the custom-house officers not only searched the coffin, but poked[60] the corpse with a stick to make sure that it was a body. The High Sheriff of Westminster was more fortunate, for he succeeded in smuggling £6,000 worth of lace in the coffin that brought over from Calais the body of Bishop Atterbury.

In the present century, Lady Ellenborough, wife of the lord chief-justice, was stopped near Dover, and a large quantity of valuable lace found secreted in the lining of her carriage.

At one period, much lace was smuggled into France from Belgium by means of dogs trained for the purpose. A dog was caressed and petted at home, then, after a while, sent across the frontier, where he was tied up, starved, and ill-treated. The skin of a larger dog was then fitted to his body, the intervening space filled with lace, and the poor animal was released. Of course he made haste to scamper back to his former home.

A propos of the customs, there is a story in which George III. had an active part, and displayed his determination to protect home manufactures.

On the marriage of his sister, Princess Augusta, to the Duke of Brunswick, the king ordered that all stuffs and laces worn should be of English manufacture. The nobility, intent on outshining each other on this grand occasion, took but little notice of the command. We may well believe that the rooms of the court milliner were gorgeous with these preparations; that there was unusual hurry and flurry lest everything should not be done in time; and that high-born and beautiful ladies were constantly besieging the doors, bringing additions to the stock. Fancy, then, the consternation of the expectant and excited dames, when, only three days before the wedding, the customs made a descent on this costly finery, and carried off in one fell swoop the silver, the gold, and the laces! There was not only the loss of these dear gewgaws to mourn, but a new toilet to be prepared in three days!

The camp, too, as well as the church and the court, has cherished lace, and the warriors of those days did not fight less gallantly because they went into battle elegantly arrayed. Lace ruffles at the wrist did not weaken the sword or sabre stroke, nor laces on the neck and bosom make faint the heart beneath. Possibly they helped to a nobler courtesy and a braver death; for slovenly dress tends to make slovenly manners, and slovenly manners often lead to careless morals.

A graceful fashion called the Steinkerk had a martial origin, and was named from the battle so-called, wherein Marshal Luxembourg won the day against William of Orange. On that day, the young princes of the blood were suddenly and unexpectedly called into battle. Hastily knotting about their necks the laced cravats then in fashion, and usually tied with great nicety, they rushed into action, and won the fight.

In honor of that event, both ladies and gentlemen wore their cravats and scarfs loosely twisted and knotted, the ends sometimes tucked through the button-hole, sometimes confined by a large oval-shaped brooch; and Steinkerks became the rage.

But evidence enough, perhaps, has been brought to prove that lace is not an entirely trivial subject of discourse. We may, however, add that Dr. Johnson condescended to define net lace in his most Johnsonian manner. It is, he says, “anything reticulated or decussated, with interstices between the intersections.” After that, ladies may wear their ruffles not only with pleasure, but with respect; for if he was so learned in defining[61] plain net, what unimaginable erudition would have entered his definition of Honiton guipure, or the points of Alençon, Brussels, or Venice!

Spiders were probably the first creatures that made lace, though the trees held a delicate white network under the green of their leaves. After the spiders came the human race, following closely. Old Egyptian pictures and sculptures show us women engaged in twisting threads; and the Scriptures are full of allusions to “fine twined linen” and needle-work. Almost as soon as garments were worn they began to be adorned at the edges; and among savages, to whom garments were of slight consequence, tattooing was practised, which is the same idea in a different form.

The Israelites probably learned from the Egyptians, and from them the art travelled westward. One theory is that Europe learned it from the Saracens. It matters but little to us which is the real version. It is most likely that all the children of Adam and Eve had some fancy of this sort which reached greater perfection in the more cultivated tribes and nations, and was by them taught to the others. The waved or serrated edges of leaves would suggest such adornments to them, or the fur hanging over the edge of the rude skins they wore. The very waves of the sea, that curled over in snowy spray at their tips, had a suggestion of lace and ornamental bordering; and the clouds of sunrise and sunset were fringed with crimson and gold by the sun. Flower petals were finished with a variegated edge, and it was not enough that birds had wings, but they must be ornamented.

When embroidery at length became an art, the Phrygian women excelled all others. Presently close embroidery became open-worked or cut-worked, and out of cut-work grew lace.

This cut-work was made in various ways. In one kind, a network of thread was made on a frame, and under this was gummed a piece of fine cloth. Then those parts which were to remain thick were sewed round on to the cloth; and afterward the superfluous cloth was cut away.

Another kind was made entirely of thread, which was arranged on a frame in lines diverging from the centre like a spider’s web, and worked across and over with other threads, forming geometrical patterns. Later, a fabric still more like our modern lace was made. A groundwork was netted by making one stitch at the beginning, and increasing a stitch on each side till the requisite size was obtained. On this ground was worked the pattern, sometimes darned in with counted stitches, sometimes cut out of linen, and appliqué. Still another kind was drawn-work, threads being drawn from linen or muslin, and the thinned cloth worked into lace. Specimens still exist of a six-sided lace net made in this way, with sprigs worked over it.

The earlier rich laces were not made of white thread. Gold, silver, and silk were used. The Italians, who claim to have invented point lace, were the great makers of gold lace. Cyprus stretched gold into a wire, and wove it. From Cyprus the art reached Genoa, Venice, and Milan; and gradually all Europe learned to make gold lace. In England, the complaint was raised that the gold of the realm was sensibly diminishing in this way, and in 1635 an act was passed prohibiting the melting down of bullion to make gold or silver “purl.” And not only in Western and Southern Europe was[62] this luxury fashionable. A piece of gold lace was found in a Scandinavian barrow opened in the XVIIIth century. Perhaps the lace was made by some captive woman stolen by the vikings, a later Proserpine ravished from the South, who wove the web with her pale fingers as she sat in that frozen Hades, while her piratical blue-eyed Pluto looked on marvelling, and waiting to catch a smile from her relenting eyes. Gold lace was sold by weight.

Some of the most magnificent old points of Venice were made of silk, the natural cream-color. The rose Venice point—Gros point de Venice, Punto a rilievo—was the richest and most complicated of all points. It was worked of silk, on a parchment pattern, the flowers connected by brides. The outlines of these flowers were in relief, cotton being placed inside to raise them, and countless beautiful stitches were introduced. Sometimes they were in double, sometimes in triple, relief, and each flower and leaf was edged with fine regular pearls. This point was highly prized for albs, collerettes, berthes, and costly decorations.

Another kind of Venice lace—knotted point—had a charmingly romantic origin. A young girl in one of the islands of the Lagune, a lace-worker, was betrothed to a young sailor, who brought her home from the Southern seas a bunch of pretty coralline called mermaid’s lace. Moved partly by love for the giver, and partly by admiration for the graceful nature of the seaweed, with its small white knots united by a bride, the girl tried to imitate it with her needle, and, after several unsuccessful efforts, produced a delicate guipure, which soon was admired all over Europe.

We must not, in this connection, forget that handkerchief given by Othello to Desdemona, the loss of which cost her so dear. It was wrought, he tells her, by an Egyptian sibyl, who

“In her prophetic fury sewed the work.”

And he declares that

“The worms were hallowed that did breed the silk.”

The flat points of Venice were no less exquisite than the raised, the patterns sometimes being human figures, animals, cupids, and flowers.

In the XVIth century, Barbara Uttmann invented pillow-net, a great advance in the making of lace. This lady’s father had moved from Nuremberg to the Hartz Mountains, to superintend mines there, and there the daughter married a rich master-miner, Christopher Uttmann, and lived with him in his castle of Annaberg. Seeing the mountain girls weave nets for the miners to wear over their hair, her inventive mind suggested a new and easier way of making fine netting. Her repeated failures we know not of, but we know of her success. In 1561 she set up a workshop in her own name, and this branch of industry spread so that soon 30,000 persons were employed, with a revenue of 1,000,000 thalers. In 1575, the inventress died and was laid to rest in the churchyard of Annaberg, where her tombstone records that she was the “benefactress of the Hartz Mountains.”

Honor to Barbara Uttmann!

Pillow-lace, as most people know, is made on a round or oval board stuffed so as to form a cushion. On this is fixed a stiff piece of parchment with the pattern pricked on it. The threads are wound on bobbins about the size of a pencil, with a groove at the neck. As many of the threads as will start well together are tied at the ends in a knot, and the knot fastened with a pin at the edge of the pattern;[63] then another bunch, and so on, till the number required by the lace is completed. The lace is formed by crossing or intertwining these bobbins.

Hand-made lace is of two kinds, point and pillow. Point means a needle-work lace made on a parchment pattern, also a particular kind of stitch. The word is sometimes incorrectly applied; as, point de Malines, point de Valenciennes, both these laces being made on a pillow.

Lace consists of two parts, the ground and the flower pattern or gimp.

The plain ground is called in French entoilage, on account of its containing the ornament, which is called toilé, from the texture resembling linen, or being made of that material or of muslin.

The honeycomb network or ground—in French, fond, champ, réseau—is of various kinds: wire ground, Brussels ground, trolly ground, etc. Double ground is so called because twice the number of threads are required to make it.

Some laces, points and guipures, are not worked upon a ground, the flowers being connected by irregular threads worked over with point noué (button-hole stitch), sometimes with pearl loops (picot). Such are the points of Venice and Spain and most of the guipures. To these uniting-threads lace-makers in Italy give the name of “legs,” in England “pearl ties,” in France “brides.”

The flower is made either together with the ground, as in Valenciennes and Mechlin, or separately, and then either worked in or sewn on (applique).

The open-work stitches in the patterns are called “modes,” “jours,” or “fillings.”

The early name of lace in England and France was passement, so called because the threads were passed by each other in the making. The learned derive lace from lacina, a Latin word signifying the hem or fringe of a garment. Dentelle comes from the little toothed edge with which lace was finished after awhile. At first, it was passement dentelé, finally dentelle.

The meaning of guipure is hard to connect with the present use of the word, which is very loose and undefined. It was originally made of silk twisted round a little strip of thin parchment or vellum; and silk twisted round a thick thread or cord was called guipure, hence the name.

The modern Honiton is called guipure, also Maltese lace and its Buckingham imitations. The Italians called the old raised points of Venice and Spain guipures. It is hard to know what claim any of these have to the name.

A fine silk guipure is made in the harems of Turkey, of which specimens were shown in the International Exhibition. This point de Turquie is but little known, and is costly. It mostly represents black, white, or mixed colors, fruit, flowers, or foliage.

The lace once made in Malta was a coarse kind of Mechlin or Valenciennes of one arabesque pattern; but since 1833, when an English lady induced a Maltese woman named Ciglia to copy in white an old Greek coverlet, the Ciglia family commenced the manufacture of black and white Maltese guipure, till then unknown in the island.

It is the fineness of the thread which renders the real Brussels ground, vrai réseau, so costly. The finest is spun in dark underground rooms; for contact with the dry air causes the thread to break. The spinner works by feeling rather than sight, though a dark paper is placed[64] to throw the thread out, and a single ray of light is admitted to fall on the work. She examines every inch drawn from her distaff, and, when any inequality occurs, stops her wheel to repair the mischief.

The réseau is made in three different ways: by hand, on the pillow, and more lately by machinery—the last a Brussels-net made of Scotch cotton. The needle ground costs three times as much as the pillow; but it is stronger and easier to repair, the pillow ground always showing the join.

There are two kinds of flowers: those made with the needle, point à l’aiguille, and those on the pillow, point plat. The best flowers are made in Brussels itself, where they excel in the relief (point brode).

Each part of Brussels lace is made by a different hand. One makes the vrai réseau; another, the footing; a third, the point flowers; a fourth works the open jours; a fifth unites the different sections of the ground together; a sixth makes the plat flowers; a seventh sews the flowers upon the ground.

The pattern is designed by the head of the fabric, who, having cut the parchment into pieces, hands it out ready pricked. In the modern lace, the work of the needle and pillow are combined.

Mechlin lace, sometimes called broderie de Malines is a pillow lace made all in one piece, its distinguishing feature being a broad, flat thread which forms the flower. It is very light and transparent, and answers very well as a summer lace. It is said that Napoleon I. admired this lace, and that, when he first saw the light Gothic tracery of the cathedral spire at Antwerp, he exclaimed: “C’est comme de la dentelle de Malines.

Valenciennes is also a pillow lace, but the ground and gimp, or flower, are all made of the same thread.

The vrai Valenciennes, as it was at first named, that made in the city itself, was made in the XVth century, of a three-thread twisted flax, and reached its climax about the middle of the XVIIIth century, when there were from 3,000 to 4,000 lace-makers in the city alone. Then fashion began to prefer the lighter and cheaper fabrics of Arras, Lille, and Brussels, till in 1790 the number of lace-workers had diminished to 250. Napoleon I. tried unsuccessfully to revive the manufacture, and in 1851 only two lace-makers remained, both over eighty years of age. This vrai Valenciennes which, from its durability, was called les eternelles Valenciennes, could not, it was asserted, be made outside the walls of the city. It was claimed that, if a piece of lace were begun at Valenciennes and finished outside of the walls, that part not made in the city would be visibly less beautiful than the other, though continued by the same hand, with the same thread, upon the same pillow. This was attributed to some peculiarity of the atmosphere. That lace, therefore, which was made in the neighborhood of the city was called bâtarde and gausse.

The makers of this lace worked in underground cellars from four in the morning till eight at night. Young girls were the chief workers, great delicacy of touch being required, any other kind of work spoiling the hand for this. Many of the women, we are told, became blind before reaching the age of thirty. So great was the labor of making this lace that, while the Lille workers could produce from three to five ells per day, those of Valenciennes could not finish more than an inch and a half in that time. Some took a year to make twenty-four inches, and it took ten months, working fifteen hours a day, to finish a pair of men’s ruffles.


It was considered a recommendation to have a piece of lace made all by one hand.

This old Valenciennes was far superior to any now made under that name. The réseau was fine and compact, the flowers resembling cambric in their texture. The fault of the lace was its color, never a pure white, but, being so long under the hand in a damp atmosphere, of a reddish cast. In 1840, an old lady, Mlle. Ursule, gathered the few old lace-makers left in the city, and made the last piece of vrai Valenciennes of any importance which has been made in the city. It was a head-dress, and was presented by the city to the Duchesse de Nemours.

In the palmy days of Valenciennes, mothers used to hand these laces down to their children as scarcely less valuable than jewels. Even peasant women would lay by their earnings for a year to purchase a piece of vrai Valenciennes for a head-dress.

One of the finest specimens of this old lace known is a lace-bordered alb belonging to the Convent of the Visitation, at Le Puy, in Auvergne. The lace is in three breadths, twenty-eight inches wide, entirely of thread, and very fine, though thick. The ground is a clear réseau, the pattern solid, of flowers and scrolls.

There is a story of Le Puy that in 1640 a sumptuary edict was issued by the seneschal, forbidding all persons, without regard to age, sex, or rank, to wear lace of any kind. Lace-making being the chief employment of the women of this province, great distress resulted from the edict. In this time of trial, the beggared people found a comforter in the Jesuit F. Régis. He not only consoled them, but he proved the sincerity of his sympathy by acts. He went to Toulouse, and obtained a revocation of the edict; and at his suggestion the Jesuits opened to the Auvergne laces a market in the New World.

This good friend to the poor is now S. Francis Régis, and is venerated in Auvergne as the patron saint of the lace-makers.

The finest and most elaborate Valenciennes is now made at Ypres, in Flanders. Instead of the close réseau of the old lace, it has a clear wire ground, which throws the figure out well. On a piece of this Ypres lace not two inches wide, from 200 to 300 bobbins are employed, and for larger widths as many as 800 or more are used on the same pillow. There are now in Flanders 400 lace-schools, of which 157 are the property of religious communities.

We may say here that lace-makers now use Scotch cotton chiefly, instead of linen, finding it cheaper, more elastic, and brilliant. Only Alençon, some choice pieces of Brussels, and the finer qualities of Mechlin are now made of flax. The difference can scarcely be perceived by the eye, and both wash equally well, but the cotton grows yellow with age, while linen retains its whiteness.

Alençon, the only French lace now made on a pillow, was first made in France by an Italian worker, who, finding herself unable to teach the Alençon women the true Venetian stitch, struck out a new path, and, by assigning to each one a different part of the work, as Brussels did afterward, succeeded in producing the most elaborate point ever made. Early specimens show rich scroll-work connected by brides. One piece has portraits of Louis XVI. and Maria Theresa, with the crown and cipher, all entwined with flowers. The patterns were not at first beautiful, scarcely at all imitating nature; but their work was perfect.

Point Alençon is made entirely by the hand, on a parchment pattern, in[66] small pieces afterwards united by invisible thread. This art of “fine joining” was formerly a secret confined to France and Belgium, but is now known in England and Ireland.

Each part of this work is given to a different person, who is trained from childhood to that specialty. The number formerly required was eighteen, but is now twelve.

The design, engraved on copper, is printed off in divisions upon pieces of parchment ten inches long, each piece numbered in order. This parchment, which is green, is pricked with the pattern, and sewed to a piece of very coarse linen folded double. The outline of the pattern is then made by guiding two flat threads around the edge with the left thumb, and fixing them by minute stitches passed with another thread and needle through the holes in the parchment. The work is then handed over to another to make the ground, either bride or réseau. The réseau is worked back and forward from the footing, or sewing-on-edge, to the picot, or lower pearled edge. The flowers are worked with a fine needle and long thread, in button-hole stitch, from left to right, the thread turned back when the end of the flower is reached, and worked over in the next row, making thus a strong fabric. Then come the open-work fillings and other operations, after which the lace is taken from the parchment by passing a sharp razor between the two folds of linen. The head of the fabric then joins the parts together. When finished, a steel instrument is passed into each flower to polish it.

The manufacture of Alençon was nearly extinct when Napoleon I. restored its prosperity. Among the orders executed for the emperor on his marriage with Marie Louise was a bed furniture of great richness. Tester, coverlet, curtains, and pillow-cases were all of the finest Alençon à bride. Again the manufacture languished, though efforts were made to revive it, and, in 1840, two hundred aged women—all who were left of the workers—were gathered. But the old point had been made by an hereditary set of workers, and the lace-makers they were obliged to call to their help from other districts could not learn their stitches, consequently changes crept in. But the manufacture was revived, and some fine specimens were shown in the Exhibition of 1851, among them a flounce valued at 22,000 francs, which had taken thirty-six women eighteen months to complete. This appeared afterwards in the Empress Eugénie’s corbeille de mariage.

Alençon was chiefly used in the magnificent layette prepared for the prince imperial. The cradle-curtains were Mechlin, the coverlet of Alençon lined with satin. The christening robe, mantle, and head-dress were also of Alençon, and Alençon covered the three corbeille bearing the imperial arms and cipher, and trimmed the twelve dozen embroidered frocks and the aprons of the imperial nurses.

Remembering all the magnificence which clustered around the birth of this infant, who had

“Queens at his cradle, proud and ministrant,”

one thinks with sadness of that exiled boy who now, weeping bitterly the loss of a tender father, beholds receding from his gaze, like a splendid dream, that throne he once seemed born to fill. Nowhere on the face of the earth is one who has possessed so much and lost so much as that boy; and nowhere are a mother and son around whom cling such a romantic interest and sympathy.

The specimens of Alençon in the Exhibition of 1862 maintained the[67] reputation of the ancient fabric. Bride is but little made now, and is merely twisted threads, far inferior to the clear hexagon of the last century. This hexagon was a bride worked around with point noué.

Of late, the reapplication of Alençon flowers has been successfully practised by the peasant lace-workers in the neighborhood of Ostend, who sew them to a fine Valenciennes ground.

The Chantilly lace, which owed its foundation to Catherine de Rohan, Duchesse de Longueville, has always been rather an object of luxury than of commercial value. Being considered a royal fabric, and its production for the nobility alone, the lace-workers became the victims of revolutionary fury in ‘93, and all perished on the scaffold with their patrons. The manufacture was, however, revived, and prospered greatly during the First Empire. The white blonde was the rage in Paris in 1805. The black was especially admired in Spain and her American colonies. No other manufactories produced such beautiful scarfs, mantillas, and other large pieces. Calvados and Bayeux make a similar lace, but not so well. The real Chantilly has a very fine réseau, and the workmanship of the flowers is close, giving the lace great firmness. The so-called Chantilly shawls in the Exhibition of 1862 were made at Bayeux. Chantilly produces only the extra fine shawls, dresses, and scarfs.

Honiton owes its reputation to its sprigs. Like the Brussels, they are made separately. At first they were worked in with the pillow, afterwards appliqué, or sewed on a ground of plain pillow-net. This net was very beautiful, but very expensive. It was made of the finest thread procured from Antwerp, the market price of which, in 1790, was £70 per pound. Ninety-five guineas have been paid a pound for this thread, and, in time of war, one hundred guineas. The price of the lace was costly in proportion, the manner of fixing it peculiar. The lace ground was spread out on the counter, and the worker herself desired to cover it with shillings. The number of shillings that found a place on her work was the price of it. A Honiton veil often cost a hundred guineas. But the invention of machine-net changed all that, and destroyed not only the occupation of the makers of hand-net, but was the cause of the lace falling into disrepute.

Desirous to revive the work, Queen Adelaide ordered a dress of Honiton sprigs, on a ground of Brussels-net, the flowers to be copied from nature. The skirt of this dress was encircled with a wreath of elegantly designed sprigs, the initials of the flowers forming her majesty’s name: Amaranth, Daphne, Eglantine, Lilac, Auricula, Ivy, Dahlia, Eglantine.

Queen Victoria’s wedding lace was made at Honiton, difficulty being found in obtaining workers enough, the manufacture had been so little patronized. The dress, which cost 1,000 pounds, was entirely of Honiton sprigs connected on a pillow. The patterns were destroyed as soon as the lace was made. Several of the princesses have had their bridal dresses of Honiton.

The application of Honiton sprigs upon bobbin-net has of late almost entirely given place to guipure. The sprigs are sewed on a piece of blue paper, and then united by the pillow, by cut-works, or purlings, or else joined with the needle, button-hole stitch being the best of all, or by purling which is made by the yard. But Honiton has fallen in public esteem by neglecting the pattern of[68] its lace, which does not well imitate nature.

A new branch of industry has lately risen there—that of restoring or remaking old lace.

When old lace revived, it became a mania. The literary ladies were the first to take this fever in England. Sidney, Lady Morgan, and Lady Stepney made collections, and the Countess of Blessington left at her death several large chests full of fine antique lace.

In Paris, the celebrated dressmaker, Madame Camille, was the first one to bring old laces into fashion.

Much lace is taken from old tombs, cleansed, and sold, usually after having been made over. All over Europe it was the custom to bury the dead in lace-trimmed garments, and in some cases these burial toilets were of immense value. In Bretagne, the bride, after her marriage, laid aside her veil and dress, and never wore it again till it was put on after she was dead. Many of these old tombs have been rifled, and the contents sold to dealers.

In Ireland, lace-making was at one time quite successful. Swift, in the last century, urged the protection of home manufactures of all kinds, and the Dublin Society, composed of a band of patriots organized in 1749, encouraged the making of lace, and passed strong resolutions against the wearing of foreign lace. Lady Arabella Demy, who died in 1792, a daughter of the Earl of Kerry, was especially active in the work, and good imitations of Brussels and Ypres lace were made. In 1829, the manufacture of Limerick lace was established. This is tambour work on Nottingham-net. But the emigration of girls to America, and the effort of the manufacturers to produce a cheap article, thus bringing it into disrepute, have prevented this lace from attaining success.

For half a century, machine-lace has been striving to imitate hand-made lace, and in some instances with such success that the difference can scarcely be perceived. In 1760 a kind of looped lace was made in England on the stocking-frame, and the fabric has been constantly improving. But hand-made lace still maintains its supremacy, and is growing in favor, and old laces are more highly prized even than old jewels, since the former cannot be imitated, or can scarcely be imitated; the latter may be. There is a delicacy and finish in needle and pillow laces which the machine can never give; besides that, the constant tendency of machine-work, when once it has attained excellence, is to deteriorate.

We are glad of this revival of lace-making; for in no other way can the luxury of the rich in dress so well benefit women and children among the poor. Most working-women have to work too hard, and they have to leave their homes to earn money. But lace-making accords admirably with feminine taste and feminine delicacy of organization, and it can be done at any time, and at home, and of every quality. It is refining, too. One can scarcely imagine a very coarse person making a very beautiful lace. It teaches the worker to observe nature and art, in the selection and working of patterns, and it stimulates inventiveness, if there be any. And more than that, by the multitudinous ticking of these little bobbins, and the myriad points of these shining needles, thousands of that tortured and terrible class called “the poor” might be able to keep at bay not only the wolf of hunger, but the lion of crime.



[We have received this article from a very distinguished and learned member of the New York bar, with an accompanying letter, in which he writes, among other things, as follows:

“Confined as I am by my infirmities to my house, and wearying of the sameness of the life I have to lead, I sometimes vary my occupation by delving into the ‘Antiquities of the Law.’

“I have lately come across an old law book published in 1711, which has been several years in my library, but entirely lost sight of by me until recently.

“From that I have been compiling some articles for one of our law journals, and began the accompanying article for the same publication.

“While writing it, it occurred to me that it might be more useful, if not more interesting, to the readers of such a journal as your Catholic World than to those of a mere law journal; and as I abhor religious intolerance in all forms, and see so much of it in this country, I concluded to send it to you, thinking perhaps you may deem it advisable to use it.”]

Abjuration.—The statute 35 Eliz. cap. 2 was made wholly against Popish Recusants convict above 16 Years of Age, enjoining them not to remove above 5 Miles from their Habitation: if they do, and not being covert (married?), nor having Land to the Value of 20 Marks per Annum or Goods worth £40, they must abjure the Kingdom. Hale’s Pl. Cr. 228.

“Likewise upon Persons who absent themselves from Church without just Cause, and refusing to conform within 3 Months after conviction.” 35 Eliz. cap. 1.

Armour.—(Recusancy was denying the Supremacy of the Queen and adhering to the Pope as Supreme Head of the Church.) “The Armour of Recusants convict shall be taken from them by Warrant from Four Justices of Peace.”

“If they conceal their Arms or give any Disturbance in the Delivery, one Justice may commit them for 3 months without Bail.” 3 Jac. cap. 5.

Bail: When allowed or denied.—A Minister “depraving” the Common Prayer-Book, as fixed by Statute, was liable, for first offence, to commitment for 6 months; for second offence, for a year; and for third offence, for life.

“Being present at any other Form: First Offence, Commitment for 6 Months; Second Offence, 12 Months; Third Offence, for Life.”

Recusants. “Suspected to be a Jesuit, Seminary, or Priest, and being examined refuseth to answer, may be committed till he answer directly.”

“Impugning the Queen’s Authority in Ecclesiastical causes; perswading others to it or from coming to church; meeting at Conventicles, under Colour of Religion, or perswading others to meet there, commitment till they conform and make an open Submission and Declaration of their conformity.”

“Absenting from Church on Sunday, and no Distress to be had, Commitment till Forfeiture is paid.”

“Above the Age of 16, and absenting[70] for a Month: Forfeiture 20s. per Month, or be committed till paid.” 23 Eliz. cap. 1.

Keeping a School Master or “any other Servant in the House, and not coming to Church for a Month, the Master of such House forfeits £10 per Month.”

Blasphemy.—By Statute 9 and 10 Will., “Any Person bred in or professing the Christian Religion, and who shall, by Writing, Printing, Teaching, or advised Speaking deny any one of the Persons in the Trinity; or assert that there are more Gods than one; or deny the Christian Religion to be true, or the Holy Scriptures to be of Divine Authority, shall be disabled to have any office,” and “if convicted a second time, he shall be disabled to sue in any court, or to be a Guardian or Executor or Administrator, and be incapable of any Legacy or Gift, or of any office, and shall be committed for Three Years without Bail.”

Church Wardens.—“By Common Law they are a corporation to take care of the Goods of the Church.”

“An Attorney cannot be made a Church Warden.” 2 Roll. Abr. 272.

“He is to see that the Parishioners come to Church every Sunday and Holiday, and to present the Names of such who are absent to the Ordinary, or to levy 12d. for every offence, per Stat. 5 and 6 Ed., 1 Eliz. cap. 1.”

“Arresting a Minister going to or returning from Church may be punished by Indictment or bound to Good Behaviour. The Offence is the same if a Layman be arrested. Quarreling in Church or Church Yard, if a Layman may be suspended ab ingressio Ecclesiæ; if a Clergyman, ab officio. But if a Weapon be drawn with intent to strike, the Party may be convicted, etc., and Judgment to lose one of his Ears by cutting it off, and if no Ears, to be marked in the Cheek with the Letter F.” 5 and 6 Ed. VI. cap. 4.

Seats in Churches. “The Ordinary may place and displace whom he thinks fit.”

“A Man may have a Seat in a Church appendant to his House, and may prescribe for it, etc. But one cannot prescribe to a Seat in the Body of the Church generally.” Roll. Abr., 2 Pars. 288.

“The case is the same in an Isle of a Church.” 2 Cro. 367.

Presentments” are to be made by the Church Wardens, usually twice a year, but cannot be compelled oftener than once a year, except at the Visitation of the Bishop.

The Articles commonly exhibited to them to make their Presentments may be reduced thus, viz.:

To Things which concern the Church, the Parson, the Parishioners.

And First, to those Things which concern the Church; as,

Alms, whether a Box for that Purpose; Assessments, whether made for repairs; Bells and Bell Ropes, if in Repair; Bible, whether in Folio; Canons, whether a Book thereof; Carpet; Chest, with three Locks; Church and Chancel in Repair; Creed in fair Letters; Cups and Covers for Bread, etc.; Cushion for Pulpit; Desk for Reader; Lord’s Prayer in fair Letters; Marriage, a Table of Degrees; Monuments safely kept; Parsonage House in Repair; Church Yard well Fenced; Commandments in Fair Letters; Common Prayer-Book; Communion Table; Flaggon; Font; Grave Stones well kept; Queen’s Arms, set up; Register Book in Parchment; Supplies, whether any; Table-cloth; Tombs well kept.

2. Those Things which concern the Parson:


Articles 39, if read twice a Year; Baptizing with Godfathers; Canons, if read once a Year; Catechising Children; Common Prayer, if read, etc.; Dead, if he bury them; Doctrine, if he preach good; Gown, if he preach in it; Homilies, if read or he preach; January 30th, if observed; May 29th, if observed; Marrying privately; November 5th, if observed; Preaching every Sunday; Peace Maker; Perambulation; Sacrament, if celebrated; Sedition, if vented; Sick, if visited; Sober Life; Surplice, if wear it.

3. Those Things which concern Parishioners:

Adulterers, if any; Alms Houses, if abused; Ale Houses, and in Divine Service; Answering, according to Rubrick; Baptism, neglected by Parents; Blasphemers; Church, resorting to it; Dead, if brought to be buried; Drunkards, if any; Fornicators, if any; Legacies, if any given to pious Uses; Marrying within prohibited Degrees; Marrying without Banns, Licence, or at unlawful hours; Sacraments received 3 times in a year of all above 16, whereof Easter to be one time; School, if abused; Seats, if Parishioners are placed in them without contention; Standing up; Sundays, working therein; Swearers, if any; Women, if come to be Churched.”

“A Warrant against one for not coming to Church.

“To the Constable, etc.: “Sussex, ss. Whereas Oath hath been made before me That J. O. of, etc., did not upon the Lord’s Day last past resort to any Church, Chapel, or other usual Place appointed by Common Prayers, and there hear Divine Service according to the Form of the Statute in that case made and provided.

“These are therefore to require you, etc., to bring the said J. O. before me to answer the Premises. Given, etc.”

“Any Man may build a Church or Chappel, but the Law takes no Notice of it as such till it is consecrated, and therefore, whether Church or Chappel, it must be tried by the Certificate of the Bishop.”

Clergy and Benefit of Clergy.—“Before the 20 Ed. I., the Clergy paid no Tenths to the King for their Ecclesiastical Livings, but to the Pope; but in that King’s reign, their Livings were valued all over England, and the Tenths paid to the King; and by the Statute 26 Hen. VIII. cap. 3, they were annexed to the Crown forever.”

Many of their privileges were “confirmed by Magna Carta, viz., Quod Ecclesia sit libera.”

“As to the Benefit of Clergy, it was introduced by the Canon Law, Exempting their persons from any Temporal Jurisdiction. ‘Tis a Privilege on purpose to save the Life of a Criminal in certain cases, if he was a man of learning, as accounted in those Days, for as such he might be useful to the Publick.—At first it was extended to any person who could read, he declaring that he had vowed or was resolved to enter into Orders, and the Reading was to show he was qualified.—But afterwards the reading without a Vow to enter into Orders was held good, and now ‘tis become a legal conveyance of Mercy to both Clergy and Laity.”

“But tho’ the Ordinary usually tenders the Book, the Court are the proper Judges of the Criminal’s Reading: Therefore, where the Ordinary answer Quod legit, the Court judged otherwise, fined the Ordinary, and hanged the Person.”

“Now, if a Man cannot read where Clergy is allowable, and ‘tis recorded by the Court Quod non legit: if the[72] Offender be reprieved, the Book may be tendered to him again because ‘tis in favorem vitæ, for which Reason he may have it under the Gallows.” Dyer, 205 b.

“In those days, an offender might have his Clergy even for Murder toties quoties, but this was restrained by the statute of 4 Hen. VII. cap. 13, that he should have it but once. And for the better Observance of that Law, it was then provided That the Criminal should be marked upon the Brawn of the Left Thumb, that he might be known again upon a second Offence”—“which was not intended as any Part of the Judgment”—“It was only a Mark set upon the Offender that he might not have his Clergy a second Time.”

By the Common Law, “all Offenders, except in Treason against the Person of the Queen,” should have the Benefit of Clergy “and toties quoties; but by statute of 25 Ed. III. cap. 4, it was prohibited in Treasons; and by that of 4 Hen. VII. it is restrained to one Time, so that now (i.e. in 1711) there are but very few cases wherein the Common Law denies Clergy, but in many ‘tis taken away by several acts of Parliament.”

Among those from whom it was thus taken away, were Popish Recusants by act of 35 Eliz. cap. 1 and 2, and those who receive Priests being natives of England, and ordained by the See of Rome by act of 27 Eliz. cap. 2.

“In Anno 2 Ed. VI., the Reformers, intending to bring the Worship of God under set forms, compiled a Book of Common Prayer, which was established by Act of Parliament in that year.”

“But because several things were contained in that Book which showed a compliancy to the superstitious Humours of those times, and some Exceptions being made to it by precise Men at Home and by John Calvin abroad, therefore two years afterwards it was reviewed, in which Martin Bucer[31] was consulted and some Alterations were made, which consisted in adding some Things and leaving out others, as in the former Edition:

The Additions were, viz.:
A general Confession of sins to the daily service.
A general Absolution to the truly Penitent.
The Communion to begin with reading the Commandments, the People kneeling.
And a Rubrick Concerning the Posture of kneeling, which was afterwards ordered to be left out by the statute of the 1 Eliz., but is now again explained as in 2 Ed. VI.
Left out:
The use of Oil in Confirmation and Extream Unction. Prayers for Souls departed.
And what tended to a Belief of the Corporeal Presence in the Consecration of the Eucharist.”

“Afterwards, Anno 5 Ed. VI., a Bill was brought into the House of Lords to enjoin Conformity to this new Book with these Alterations, by which all People were to come to those Common Prayers under pain of Church Censure, which Bill passed into a Law, Anno 5 and 6 Ed. VI.; but not being observed during the reign of Queen Mary, it was again reviewed by a Committee of Learned Men (naming them), and appointed[73] to be used by every Minister, Anno 1 Eliz., with some Additions, which were then made, viz.:

“Certain Lessons for Every Sunday in the Year, some Alterations in the Liturgy, Two Sentences added in the Delivery of the Sacrament, intimating to the Communicants that Christ is not Corporeally present in the Elements, etc. The Form of making Bishops, Priests, and Deacons was likewise added.”

“Upon these and other Statutes several Things are to be considered:

1. The Punishment of a Minister for refusing to use or depraving the Book of Common Prayer.

2. The Punishment of any other Person depraving it, and of such who shall hear or be present at any other form.

3. Who are bound to use it.

4. Who must provide it.”

The Punishment of the Minister was for 1st offence, loss of a year’s Livings and six Months’ imprisonment; 2d offence, Deprivation and Imprisonment for a Year; 3d offence, Imprisonment for Life and Deprivation.

Any other Person, for 1st Offence, six months’ Imprisonment; 2d Offence, twelve months; and 3d Offence, for Life. 5 and 6 Ed. VI. cap. 1.

“No Form of Prayer should be used in any Public Place other than according to the said Book.”

By Statute 3 Jac. cap. 4, Constables “must once a Year present to the Quarter Sessions those who absent themselves for the space of a Month from Church”; and he must levy certain forfeitures on those who keep or resort to Bowling, Dancing, Ringing, or any sport whatever on the Sabbath; and on a Butcher who shall kill or sell Flesh on that day.

Recusants “are those who refuse or deny Supremacy to the Queen by adhering to the Pope as Supreme Head of the Church.”

Anno 24 Hen. VIII. cap. 12, Parliament prohibited Appeals to Rome, etc.”

25 Hen. VIII. “The King appointed that Convocations should be assembled by his Writ, and that no Canons or Constitutions should be contrary to his Prerogative or the Laws of the Land.”

“In the same Year an Act passed to restrain the Payment of First Fruits to the Court of Rome.”

“In the next Year, 26 Hen. VIII., An Act passed by which the First Fruits of all Spiritual Livings were given to the King.”

In the same Year, “an Act passed, prohibiting Investitures of Archbishops or Bishops by the Pope; but that in a Vacancy the King should send his Letters-missive to a Prior or Convent, Dean or Chapter, to choose another.”

“Likewise, in the same Year, all Licenses and Dispensations from the Court of Rome were prohibited, and that all Religious Houses should be under the Visitation of the King.”

And by an Act passed the same Year (viz., 1534), The King was “declared to be Supream Head of the Church.”

“But he did not exercise any act of that Power till a year afterwards, by appointing Sir Thomas Cromwell to be his Vicar General in Ecclesiastical Matters, and Visitor of all the Monasteries and other Privileged Places in the Kingdom.”

In 27 Hen. VIII. (1536) “all the lesser Monasteries, under the number of twelve Persons, and whose Revenues were not of the Value of £200 per annum, were given to the King, his Heirs and Successors; and a Court was erected on purpose for collecting the Revenues belonging to these Monasteries, which was called[74] The Court of Augmentation of the King’s Revenue, who had full power to dispose of those Lands for the Service of the King.”

The officers of this Court had, among its other duties, that of inquiring “into the Number of Religious in the House, and what Lives they led; how many would go into other Religious Houses, and how many into the World, as they called it.”

The whole of the goods thus confiscated were valued at £100,000, and the rents of these small Monasteries came to £32,000 per annum.

“This occasioned great Discontents amongst the people,” to appease which the King sold some of the Lands “to the Gentry” at low Rates, “obliging them to keep up Hospitality.”

“This pleased both them and the ordinary Sort of People for a little time; and, to satisfy others,” the King “continued or gave back thirty-one Houses. But these, about two Years afterwards, fell under the Common Fate of the great Monasteries, and were all suppressed with them.”

“But notwithstanding he gave back some of these Houses, yet the People were still discontented, and openly rebelled in Lincolnshire, which was quieted by a Pardon: There was another Rebellion in Yorkshire and the Northern Counties, which ended also in a Pardon, only some of the chief of the Rebels were executed for this last Rebellion.”

Most of the Monasteries, “seeing their Dissolution drawing near, made voluntary Surrenders of their Houses in the 29th year of Hen. VIII., in Hopes by this means to obtain Favor of the King; and after the Rebellion, the rest of the Abbots, both great and small, did the like; for some of them had encouraged the Rebels, others were convicted by the Visitors of great Disorders, and most of them had secured all the Plate, Jewels and Furniture belonging to their Houses, to make Provision for them and Relations and then surrendered their Monasteries.”

“Afterwards, Anno 31 Hen. VIII., a Bill was brought into the House of Peers to confirm these surrenders. There were 18 Abbots[32] present at the first Reading, 20 at the second, and 17 at the third. It soon passed the Commons and the Royal Assent; and by this Act all the Houses, etc., were confirmed to the King.”

“‘Tis true, the Hospitallers, Colleges and Chanteries, etc., were not yet dissolved.... These had large endowments to support themselves and to entertain Pilgrims,” etc.

“But notwithstanding the King was declared to be the Supreme Head of the Church, yet these Hospitallers would not submit,” etc., “and therefore, Anno 32 Hen. VIII. cap. 24, The Parliament gave their lands to the King and dissolved their Corporation.”

“The Colleges and Chanteries still remained; but the Doctrine of Purgatory being then grown out of Belief[33] and some of those Fraternities having resigned in the same manner as the Monasteries, the Endowments of the rest were then thought to be for no purpose, and therefore, Anno 37 Hen. VIII., all these Colleges, Free Chapels, Chanteries, etc., were given to the King by Act of Parliament.”

“Thus in the Compass of a few years, the Power and Authority of the See of Rome was suppressed in this Kingdom. And because frequent Attempts have been made to revive it, therefore, in succeeding[75] Times, several Laws have been made to keep them in subjection.”

Among those were the following: Recusant Convict above 16 must go to his place of Abode and not remove 5 miles without license or otherwise abjure the Realm. Not departing within the time limited by the Justices, or returning without license from the Queen, was felony without Benefit of Clergy. 35 Eliz. cap. 2.

“To absolve or to be absolved by Bulls from the Bishop of Rome was High Treason.” 13 Eliz. cap. 2.

“Bringing an Agnus Dei hither, or offering it to any Person to be used, both he and the Receiver incurs a Premunire.[34] 13 Eliz. cap. 2. All Armour shall be taken from Recusants by order of four Justices.” 7 Jac. cap. 6.

Bringing over Beads or offering them to any person, both he and the Receiver incur a Premunire. 13 Eliz. cap. 2.

“Two Justices may search Houses for Books and Relicks, and burn them.” 3 Jac. cap. 5.

“Every Popish Recusant must be buried in Church or Church yard according to the Ecclesiastical Laws, or his Executor or Administrator forfeits £20.” 3 Jac. cap. 5.

“Children of Recusants must be baptized by a lawful Minister, or the Parent forfeits £100.” 3 Jac. cap. 5.

“Popish Recusant, if he sue any person, the Defendant may plead it in Disability.”

He “shall not be Executor, Administrator, or Guardian.” 3 Jac. cap. 5.

A married woman, a Popish Recusant convict, “not conforming within 3 months after conviction, may be committed by two Justices until she conform, unless her Husband will pay to the King 10 shillings per month or a third part of his Lands.” 7 Jac. cap. 6.

“Popish Recusant marrying otherwise than according to the Forms of the Church of England shall forfeit £100. If a woman, not have her Dower or Jointure or Widow’s Estate.” 3 Jac. cap. 5.

“Saying Mass forfeits 200 marks, hearing it 100 Marks.”

“Jesuits, Seminary Priests, etc., and other Ecclesiastical Persons born within the Queen’s Dominions, coming in or remaining in the said Dominions, is guilty of Treason.” 27 Eliz. cap. 2.

“Any knowing a Jesuit or Priest to be here and not within 12 days afterwards discovering him to a Justice of Peace shall be committed and fined.” 27 Eliz. cap. 2.

“Per Stat. 3 Jac. cap. 4, to move any one to promise Obedience to the See of Rome or other Prince is High Treason in the Mover and he that promiseth Obedience.”

“Recusant Convict must not practice the Art of Apothecary, Civil Law, Common Law, Physick, or be an officer in any Court or amongst Soldiers, or in a Castle, Fortress or Ship.” 3 Jac. cap. 5.

“Sending Persons beyond Sea to be instructed in Popish Religion forfeits £100, and the Persons sent are incapable to take any Inheritance.” 1 Jac. cap. 4.

“Children shall not be sent beyond Sea without License from the Queen or six of her Privy Council, whereof the Principal Secretary of State to be one.”

“Notwithstanding all these Laws, the Parliament (11 and 12 Will.) was of Opinion that Popery increased, and therefore to prevent its growth a Law was made That if any person should take one or more Popish[76] Bishop, Jesuit or Priest, and prosecute him till he is convicted of saying Mass or exercising any other part of the Office or Function of a Popish Bishop or Priest,” he shall have a reward of £100.

“If any Popish Bishop, Priest or Jesuit, shall be convicted of saying Mass, etc., or any Papist shall Keep School, etc., he shall be adjudged to perpetual Imprisonment in such place where the Queen by Advice of her Council shall think fit.”

“Every Papist, after the 10th of April, 1700, is made incapable of purchasing Lands, etc., either in his own Name or the name of other Person, to his use.”

The Sabbath.—“Shoemaker putting Boots or Shoes to sale forfeits 3s. 4d. and the goods.” 1 Jac. I. cap. 11.

“Carriers, Drivers, Waggoners, travelling on that day forfeit 20s.” 3 Car. I. cap. 1.

“Butchers killing or selling, or causing to be killed or sold or privy or consenting to kill or sell Meat on that day, forfeit 6s. 8d.” 3 Car. I. cap. 1.

By 29 Car. II. cap. 7 “Public and private Duties of Piety are enjoined, all worldly business is prohibited, and all above the Age of 14 forfeit 5s.

“Drovers or their servants coming to their Inns on that day forfeit 20s.

“If the Offender is not able to pay the Forfeiture, he shall be put in the Stocks for two Hours.”

“Meeting together out of their own Parish for any Sports or Pastimes, forfeit 3s. 4d.” 1 Car. I. cap. 1.

Sacrament.—“Depraving or doing any Thing in contempt of the Sacrament must be committed.” 1 Ed. VI. cap. 1, 1 Eliz. 2, 3 Jac. 4.

Schoolmaster.—“Not coming to church or not allowed by the Bishop of the Diocese, forever disabled to teach Youth, and shall be committed for a year without bail.” 23 Eliz. cap. 1.

Tythes.—“A canon was made Anno 1585 for payment of Tythes as founded on the Law of God and the ancient Custom of the Church.”

“When Glanville wrote (about 1660), a Freeholder was allowed to make a Will, so as he gave the best Thing he had to the Lord Paramount, and the next best to the Church.”

“They are said to be Ecclesiastical Inheritances collateral to the Estate of the Land, out of which they arise, and are of their own Nature due only to Spiritual Persons.”

Certain Lands were, however, exempt. “Most orders of Monks were first exempted; but in time this was restrained to three orders—Cistertians, Hospitallers, Templars.”

Dissenters.—After the various laws against “Popish Recusants,” as they were called, had had the effect of rendering somewhat firm the establishment of the English Protestant Church, and about the time of the reign of Queen Elizabeth, a new trouble arose from those who dissented from that church, in its forms and in some of its principles, and government then began to interfere with them.

In the 1st Year of the reign of William and Mary these “Dissenters” were exempted from the statutes of 1 Eliz. cap. 2, 23 Eliz. cap. 1, 3 Jac. cap. 4, above mentioned. “But they must not assemble in Places with Doors locked, barred, or bolted, nor until the place is certified to the Bishop of the Diocese or to the Arch Deacon or to the Justices at the Quarter Sessions, and registered[77] there and they have a certificate thereof.”

Their Preachers must declare their Approbation, and subscribe the “Articles of Religion,” except the 20th, 34th, 35th, and 36th articles, and must take the oaths and subscribe the Declaration prescribed Dy certain statutes, and that at the Quarter Sessions where they live.

So that, from the reign of Elizabeth, through the reign of James I., and until the the troubles which ended in the civil war and the Protectorate of Cromwell, Dissenters were subject to many of the restrictions which had been imposed on the Roman Catholics; and even when those troubles finally ended in the flight of James II., and the elevation of William and Mary to the throne, freedom of religion was not allowed to the Dissenters, but they were permitted to enjoy their dissent from the forms and ceremonies of the Church of England only by declaring their assent to many of its most important tenets of faith or doctrine.

The oaths of allegiance and supremacy enjoined by the statutes of 1 Eliz. and 3 Jac. were abrogated by the Statute of 1 Will., and Mar. cap. 8, and the following substituted:

“I, A. B., do sincerely promise and swear that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance,” etc.

“I, A. B., do swear that I do from my Heart abhor, detest and abjure as Impious and Heretical, that damnable Doctrine and Position that Princes excommunicated or deprived by the Pope or any authority of the See of Rome may be deposed by their subjects or any other whatsoever; and I do declare that no Foreign Prince, Person, Prelate, State or Potentate, hath or ought to have any Jurisdiction, Power, Superiority, Pre-eminence or Authority, Ecclesiastical or Spiritual, within the Realm. So help me God.”


Look down, O Lord, holy Father, from thy sanctuary, and from thy high and heavenly dwelling, and behold this all-holy Victim, which thy great High-priest, thy holy Child Jesus, offers thee for the sins of his brethren; and have mercy on the multitude of our iniquities. Lo! the voice of the blood of Jesus our Brother cries to thee from the cross. For what is it, O Lord, that hangs on the cross? Hangs, I say; for past things are as present with thee. Own it, O Father! It is the coat of thy Joseph, thy Son; an evil wild beast hath devoured him, and hath trampled on his garment in its fury, spoiling all the beauty of this his remanent corpse, and, lo! five mournful gaping wounds are left in it. This is the garment which thy innocent holy Child Jesus, for the sins of his brethren, has left in the hands of the Egyptian harlot, thinking the loss of his robe a better thing than the loss of purity; and choosing rather to be despoiled of his coat of flesh and go down to the prison of death than to yield to the voice of the seductress for all the glory of the world.—S. Anselm.






About twenty years ago, I lived in a town in France which I may be allowed to call Philopolis. It need not be sought on the map: it will not be found there, at least under the name I think it proper to call it by, in order to avoid all appearance of indiscretion. The story I am about to relate is really a true one.

I had just finished my school-days, and, having carefully thought over the different professions which seemed to accord with my tastes, I felt—and it may be imagined how bitterly—that not one of them was within my means. To embrace any of them would have required a larger sum than I had the least hope of. Under such unfavorable circumstances, I became a tutor in a Lycée.

God preserve my very enemies, if I have any, from so trying an occupation! At the end of three months, worn out with my labors, and overwhelmed with humiliations and sadness, I had fallen into such a state of discouragement, not to say of despair, that I regarded myself as the most unfortunate of men.

To those who wish to be distinguished from the crowd, there is something peculiarly attractive in looking upon themselves as more unhappy than common mortals. I gave myself up to this notion, at first through vanity. But this kind of superiority is by no means cheering, I assure you, so I soon sought consolation. Thank God, I had not far to go. My old friend, Mme. Agnes, was at hand. I sought refuge with her. I speak as if she were advanced in years, but it must be acknowledged she would have seemed a mere child to Methuselah. She was thirty-six years of age; but I was only eighteen, and thought her old.

Mme. Agnes lived on a broad and pleasant quay that gently sloped towards a noble river. Not fifty steps from the house rolled the swift current of the Loire. Beyond was an extensive plain from which rose innumerable spires.

When I arrived, I found my friend in her usual seat near the window. She was in a large arm-chair, with a table before her, on which were all the materials necessary for a painter of miniatures. Mme. Agnes was renowned in Philopolis as an artist. Her uncommon talent enabled her to support her mother and young sister in a comfortable manner. Alas! poor lady, she had been a paralytic for ten years.

According to her custom, she laid aside her work when I entered, and welcomed me with a smile. But this expression of pleasure gave place to one of motherly anxiety when she observed the sad face I wore.

“What is the matter, my poor child?” said she. “You have grown frightfully thin.”

“I cannot say I am ill,” I replied, “but I am down-hearted, and have so much reason to be, that things cannot continue long in this way: I should die.”


Thus saying, I leaned my head against Mme. Agnes’ chair, like a great child as I was, and cried heartily. I had so long restrained my tears!...

Mme. Agnes softly placed her hand on my head, and consoled me with a kindness truly maternal. When my explosion of grief had passed away, she made me give her an account of my troubles. I told her, perhaps for the tenth time, what an inclination I had for a literary life, only I was absolutely too poor to embrace it. I added that my duties as a tutor were repugnant; the pupils were insolent and unfeeling; in short, I concealed nothing that afflicted me. At length I ended with these words:

“You now see, Mme. Agnes, that I could not be more wretched than I am. This must end. Give me, I beg, some of the good advice I have so many times received from you. Tell me what I must do.”

“Have patience, my child, and wait till God makes the way smoother.”

“Wait! when one suffers as I do?... When I abhor my position?... When I feel how happy I could be elsewhere!... Ah! Mme. Agnes, if you knew what I have to endure—if you only comprehended my complete despair!”

“Poor child, your trials are bitter, I acknowledge; but you are young, capable, and industrious, and will get a better position by-and-by.”

“To be forced to endure it only a year would be beyond my strength. Neither my disposition, nor tastes, nor health could stand what I have to bear.”

“How many others are in a similar position, but without even the hope you have of soon exchanging an employment without results—detestable, if you like—for one more congenial! The task they are pursuing must be that of their whole lives. They know it, and resign themselves to it. You, who have only to bear your trials for a certain time, must imitate their example. Come, come, my friend, every one has his cross here below. Let us bear ours cheerfully, and it will soon seem light.”

These consoling words were uttered in a sympathetic tone, as if they came from the heart. I was touched. I began to look at Mme. Agnes more attentively than ever before, and the thought occurred to me like a revelation: “How much this woman must have suffered, and how instructive would be the account of her life!”

“Mme. Agnes,” said I, “your advice is excellent, but example would produce a still greater impression on me. I beg you to relate the history of your life. You have evidently gone through much suffering, and with great patience, I am confident. I will endeavor to conform to your example.”

“You require a sad task of me,” she replied; “but no matter, I will gratify you. My story—and who of us has not one?—will prove useful to you, I think. But you must not be so ready to declare me a saint. I never was one, as you will soon see. Yes, I have suffered, as you suppose—greatly suffered, and have learned that the best means of mitigating our sufferings is to submit to God’s will, and to cherish it. The lesson to be derived from my history will be of use to you, I trust, and therefore I yield to your request.

“One word more before commencing. I would observe that the account of my own life is closely interwoven with the lives of several persons whom you will not reproach me for making you acquainted with.[80] By a concurrence of circumstances which would appear to me almost inexplicable did I not behold the hand of God therein, my life for many years was identified, so to speak, with theirs. I witnessed the struggles these loved ones had to make; I shared their very thoughts; I sympathized in their sorrows, as they in mine; and I also had the happiness of participating in their joys.

“When, therefore, I invoke these remembrances you wish me to recall, I find all along the pathway of my life these friends now gone. I could not relate my own history without relating theirs. But everything encourages me to go on. The task is pleasant. It is sweet to speak of those we have loved! The faithful picture I am going to draw of their lives will be as full of instruction to you, my friend, as that of my own.”



To begin: my father, a worthy man and a sincere Christian, was a Chef de Division at the Préfecture. A sudden illness bereft me of his care when I was barely fifteen years old. My mother, my young sister, and myself were left in quite limited circumstances, being wholly dependent on the rent of this small house, which had belonged to the family many years. Some time after, a pension of five hundred francs was added to our income by the government which my father had faithfully served. Our position was very sad, and the more so because, during my father’s life, we had everything in abundance. But our misfortunes offered us a thousand inducements to draw nearer to God. It is only ill-balanced souls—at once proud and weak—that disregard him who chastises them. Poor souls! they are doubly to be pitied, for they suffer and do not have recourse to him who alone can console them! As for us, God granted us the grace to recognize his agency. He sustained us, and we humbly submitted to his divine decrees. Misfortune only rendered us the more pious.

I had had a special taste for painting from my childhood, but still lacked proficiency, notwithstanding the lessons I had taken. I now set to work with ardor, though I had no master. At the end of a year I had made so much progress that an old teacher of mine, the principal of a boarding-school—an excellent person, who took an interest in our affairs—received me as teacher of drawing in her establishment. She also made me give English lessons to beginners. This additional resource restored ease in a measure to our household. Nevertheless, we were obliged to practise the strictest economy. To enable us to get on swimmingly, as my mother said with a smile, we at last resolved to rent the spacious ready-furnished apartments on the ground floor. The first story was occupied by a lodger, who was, at the same time, a friend of ours. As for us, we lived in the second story.

Things went on thus for some years. I was nearly twenty, when one day a young man, whom neither my mother nor myself knew, called to say he had heard our furnished rooms were vacant, and that he would like to occupy them. My mother was greatly pleased with his frank, open manner. She is very social, you know, and made the stranger sit down. They entered into conversation, and I sat listening to them.


“Am I mistaken, monsieur?” said my mother, after a while; “it seems as if I have already met you somewhere.”

“Yes, madame,” replied the young man, “I have had the honor of seeing you more than once.”

“But where?”

“At M. Comte, the apothecary’s. I was the head clerk there.”

“That is it!... I remember now.... And you have left him?”

“Under the most singular circumstances. It seems I am a writer without being aware of it.”

“How so?”

“You know the Philopolis Catholic Journal?”

“Certainly: an excellent paper. It is a great pity it is not so successful as it deserves to be. But between us, it is partly its own fault: it lacks interest and ability. It has only one able contributor—Victor Barnier, but he does not write often enough.”

“The poor fellow cannot help it. His duties at the apothecary’s shop have naturally superseded his taste for journalism.” ...

“What! are you Victor Barnier?”

“Yes, madame.”

“Ah! well, young man, you do not lack talent.”

“Others have said the same, madame. I hope you are not all mistaken, especially for the sake of the Catholic Journal, of which I have been appointed the principal editor. I refused the post at first, the responsibility seemed so great. They insisted. The position surpassed my wishes. Without any one’s knowing it, I had for many years ardently longed to be a writer. But like so many others, the limited circumstances of my family prevented it. Now, thanks to this unexpected offer, the opportunity of following my natural inclinations is so tempting that I cannot resist it. My good mother tells me it is a perilous career, and that I shall meet with more trouble than success. No matter! I am so fond of literary pursuits that, were they to afford me only one day of happiness in my life, I should still cling to them. And then, I say it without boasting, I love above all things the cause I am to defend, and hope through divine assistance to become its able champion. I have, therefore, left M. Comte’s, though not without some regret. I enter upon my duties to-morrow, and—am in want of lodgings.”

“Oh! well, that is all settled. You shall come here and be well taken care of.”

After this, Victor left us. I have only given you the substance of the conversation in which I more than once took part. I must confess Victor won my esteem and good-will at this first interview. He merited them. He was at once an excellent and a talented man—that was to be seen at the first glance. The better he was known, the more evident it became that his outward appearance, pleasing as it was, was not deceptive. He was then twenty-five years old, but, though young, he had had many trials, I assure you—trials similar to yours, my young friend, but much more severe.



The following day Victor took up his abode with us. Before a fortnight had elapsed, my mother was enchanted with her new lodger. She sounded his praises from morning till night. This may perhaps astonish[82] you, but you must know that she and I were always in the habit of telling each other our very thoughts. This reciprocal confidence was so perfect that it might be truly said we concealed nothing from each other.

And I must confess Victor showed himself every day more worthy of my mother’s admiration. He was the most modest, amiable, industrious, and orderly of young men—a genuine model for Christian men of letters. He rose every morning at an early hour, and worked in his room till about eight o’clock. Then, unless his occupations were too pressing, he heard Mass at a neighboring church. After that, he went to the Journal office, where he remained till noon; then he returned to breakfast. He left again at one, came back at three, worked till dinnertime, then studied till ten at night, and often later.

“Why do you work so hard?” said my mother to him one day. “The life of a journalist, according to you, is that of a galley-slave. I never should have thought an editor had so hard a time. You have all the four large pages of the Journal to write yourself, then, M. Victor?”

“By no means, dear madame. I write the leading article every day, and in a short time, too, for I have the peculiarity of not writing well when I write slowly. This done, I look over the other articles for the paper. As I am responsible for them, I do not accept them till they are carefully examined. This is my whole task—apparently an easy one, but tedious and difficult in reality.”

“Yes; I see you have a great deal to do at the office; but why do you continue to work at home?”

“Two motives oblige me to study—to increase my knowledge, and prevent ennui. Having risen from a mere apothecary’s clerk to be the chief editor of an important journal, I have to apply myself to keep apace with my new profession. A journalist must be imprudent or dishonest who discusses any subject on which he has not sufficient information. And think of the multitude of questions connected with politics, political economy, legislation, literature, and religion itself which I have in turn to treat of! In the Paris newspapers, each editor writes on the subjects he understands the best. The work is thus divided, to the great advantage of the paper and its editors. Here, I alone am often responsible for everything. Nevertheless, the care of my health, as well as my indolence, would induce me to rest a few hours a day; but where shall I pass them?—At the café? I go there sometimes to extend my knowledge of human nature; but one cannot go there much without being in danger of contracting injurious habits.—With my friends? I have none, and am in no hurry to make any. The choice of a friend is such a serious thing! One cannot be too cautious about it.”

“Come and see us,” said my mother, with her habitual cordiality. “When you have nowhere else to go, and your mind is weary, come up and pass an hour in the evening with your neighbors.”

Victor came, at first occasionally, then every day. Only a few weeks elapsed before I felt that I loved him. His companionship was so delightful; he had so much delicacy in little things; he was so frank, so devoted to all that is beautiful and good! Did he love me in return? No one could have told, for he was as timid as a young girl.

But this timidity was surmounted when my feast-day arrived. He came in blushing with extreme embarrassment—poor dear friend! I can still[83] see him—holding a bouquet in his left hand, which he concealed behind him, while with the other he presented my mother with an open paper. She took it, glanced at it, and, after reading a few words, said:

“But this is not addressed to me. Here, Agnes, these stanzas are for you, my child! And I see a bouquet!”

Victor presented it to me in an agitated manner. I myself was so confused that I longed to run away to hide my embarrassment. I concealed it as well as I could behind the sheet on which the stanzas were written, and read them in a low tone. They gracefully thanked my mother for all her kindness to him, and ended with some wishes for me—wishes that were ardent and touching. In a tremulous tone I expressed my gratitude with a sincerity which was quite natural. Our embarrassment was not of long continuance. It soon passed off, and we spent the evening in delightful conversation. One would have thought we had always lived together, and formed but one family.

The next morning, when I returned from giving my lessons, what was my astonishment to find Victor with my mother!

“Here she is to decide the question,” exclaimed the latter joyfully. “M. Victor loves you, and wishes to know if you will be his wife.”

“Mother,” I replied, “must I be separated from you?”

“Less than ever,” cried Victor.

My delightful dream was realized! I was to be united to the man I loved with all my heart—whom I esteemed without any alloy! And this without being obliged to separate from her of whom I was the sole reliance.

I extended my hand to Victor, and threw myself into my mother’s arms, thanking her as well as I could, but in accents broken by tears....

A month after, we were married, and happy—as happy, I believe, as people can be here below.



Thenceforth began a life so sweet that I am unable to describe it. Victor and I lived in the most delightful harmony. Our love for each other increased daily. We had but one heart and one soul. Our very tastes accorded.

Oh! how charming and happy is the wedded life of two Christian souls! What mutual sympathy! How they divine each other’s thoughts! How readily they make the concessions at times so necessary, for the best matched people in this world do not always agree! A life more simple than ours cannot be imagined, and yet it was so sweet!

I worked beside Victor in the morning and during a part of the afternoon, looking at him from time to time, saying a few words, or listening as he read what he had just composed. He said he first tried the effect of his writings on me. How happy I was when he thus gave me the first taste of one of his spirited articles, in which he defended his principles with an ardor of conviction and a vigor of style which impressed even those who were sceptical.

Before dinner we went to walk together. I persuaded Victor to devote a part of each day to physical exercise as well as mental repose. Our conversation always gave a fresh charm to these walks. And yet we did not talk much, but we[84] infused our whole souls into a word or two, or a smile. How often I dreamed of heaven during those delicious hours! It is thus, I said to myself, the angels above hold communion with each other. They have no need of words to make themselves understood.

Among the pleasant features of that period, I must not forget that of Victor’s success. Before he was appointed editor, the poor paper vegetated. There were but few subscribers. No one spoke of the obscure sheet which timidly defended sound principles and true doctrines. What a sad figure it made in the presence of its contemporary, The Independent—a shameless, arrogant journal which boasted of despising all religious belief, and scoffed at the honest people foolish enough to read it!

Victor had scarcely been chief editor of this despised paper three months before there was a decided change. Every day added to the list of subscribers. The Catholic Journal was spoken of on all sides. The sceptical, even, discussed it. As to The Independent, it was forced to descend into the arena. In spite of itself, it had to engage in conflict against an adversary as skilled in irony as in logic. I acknowledge I was proud of Victor’s success, and, what was more, it made me happy. For a long time, young as I was, I had groaned at seeing Catholic interests so poorly defended. They were now as ably sustained as I could wish, and by the man whom I loved. All my wishes were surpassed!

Nevertheless, there is no perfect happiness in this world. Even those blissful years were not exempt from sorrow. God granted me twice, with an interval of two years, the long-wished-for joy of being a mother, but each time Providence only allowed its continuance a few months. My first child, a boy, died at the end of six months. The second, a daughter, was taken from me before it was a year old. You are young, my friend and cannot understand how afflicting such losses are. A mother’s heart, I assure you, is broken when she sees her child taken from her, however young it may be. My husband himself was greatly distressed when our little boy was carried off after an illness of only a few hours. But his grief was still more profound when our little girl died. Dear child! though only nine months old, her face was full of intelligence, her eyes were expressive, and she had a wonderful way of making herself understood. She passed quietly away, softly moaning, and gazing at us with affection. Her father held her in his arms the whole time of her long agony. It seemed as if he thus hoped to retain her. She, too, was sad, I am sure. She seemed to know we were in grief, and to leave us with regret. Her sweet face only resumed its joyful expression after her soul had taken flight for heaven; then a celestial happiness beamed from her features consecrated by death. Victor stood gazing at her a long time as she lay on the bed with a crucifix in her innocent hands. His lips murmured a prayer in a low tone. It seemed to me he was addressing our angel child—begging her to pray that God would speedily call him to dwell for ever with her in his blissful presence. The thought made me shudder. It seemed as if I had at that moment an interior revelation. I knew that was Victor’s prayer, and I had a presentiment it would be heard.

From that day, though we had a thousand reasons to consider ourselves happy, we were no longer light-hearted as we once had been.[85] There was a something that weighed on our minds and kept us anxious, and empoisoned all our joys. Life seemed unsatisfactory, and we drew nearer to God. We were constantly speaking of him and the angel who had flown from us, and we often approached the sacraments together. It was thus that God was secretly preparing Victor to return to him, and me to endure so terrible a blow.



No man was ever more fond of domestic life than Victor. The happiest hours of the day were those we all spent together—he, my mother, my young sister, and myself—occupied in some useful work, but often stopping to exchange a few words. It was with regret Victor sometimes left us at such hours to mingle with the world. He refused all invitations to dinners, soirées, and balls as often as possible, but he could not always do so. He had taken the first place—a place quite exceptional—in local journalism, and it was impossible for him to decline all the advances made him. Besides, he wished, as was natural to one of his profession, to ascertain for himself public opinion on the question of the day. I cannot tell you how dull the evenings seemed when he was away, or how anxious I was till he returned. There was something dreadful about his profession. In vain he resolved to avoid personalities; they were often discovered when none had been intended. If he was fortunately able to keep within the limits he had marked out for himself, and confined himself to the defence of justice, morality, and religion, he found these three great causes had furious opponents. Whoever defended them incurred the ardent ill-will of the enemies of all good. This is what happened to Victor. Their secret hatred burst forth on an occasion of but little importance.

A renowned preacher of the South, worthy in every respect of his reputation, came to preach at the cathedral during Advent. This man, as eloquent as he was good, attacked the vices of the day with all the ardor of an apostle. Many of the young men of the place who went to hear him were infuriated at the boldness of his zeal. Some supposed themselves to be meant in the portraits he drew of vicious men in a manner so forcible and with such striking imagery as to make his hearers tremble. At the close of one of these sermons, there was some disturbance in the body of the church. Threats were uttered aloud, and women treated with insult. Victor, indignant at such conduct, had the courage to rebuke the corrupt young men of the place. Never had he been more happily inspired, and never had he produced such an effect. The article was everywhere read. It gave offence, and we awaited the consequences.

The next day Victor received an invitation to a large ball given by a wealthy banker. The invitation surprised him, for he knew the banker was a liberal with but little sympathy for the priesthood and its defenders. I begged Victor to decline the invitation politely. I feared it was only a pretext to offer him some affront. He gently reassured me by saying that, though M. Beauvais was a liberal, he had the reputation of being an honorable man. “I am glad,” added he, “to become acquainted with[86] those who frequent the banker’s salon. I shall probably find more than one Christian among them,” as, in fact, often happened.

When the night came, Victor went away, leaving me quite uneasy, in spite of all his efforts to reassure me. I made him promise to return at an early hour. I was beginning to be anxious towards eleven, when all at once there was a sound of hasty footsteps. I sprang to the door—I opened it—it was he. As soon as he entered the room, I noticed he was extremely pale. He vainly endeavored to appear calm, but could not conceal the agitation that overpowered him.

“Victor,” I cried, “something has happened!”

“Yes, but not much. Somebody tried to frighten me.”

“Are you wounded?”

“No, they did not wish to take my life.”

“I conjure you to tell me frankly what has happened.”

“Well, here are the facts: I had left M. Beauvais’ house, where I was politely received, and had gone two streets, when I observed three men walking swiftly after me on the Place. They seemed well dressed, which removed my suspicions. I turned into the little Rue St. Augustine. It is dimly lighted in the evening and almost always deserted.”

“How imprudent!”

“That is true. I did wrong. I had scarcely gone a hundred yards, before the three men overtook me.”

“‘Stop!’ exclaimed one of them. I stopped to ascertain what they wished. The same voice continued in these terms: ‘How much do those calotins give you to defend them?’

“‘I have only one word to say in reply to your insulting question—I defend my own principles, above all because I cherish them in the depths of my soul.’ So saying, I sought to keep on my way.

“One of them detained me. ‘Before going any further,’ said he who seemed to be the spokesman, ‘swear never to abuse the young men of this town again!’

“‘I attack no one individually,’ I replied. ‘Am I forbidden to defend my own cause because it is not yours?—But this is no time or place for such an interview. It should be at my office and by daylight. Come to see me to-morrow, and I will answer your questions.’

“The three men were so wrapped up in their bernouses and large comforters that I could not tell who they were. I thought it time to disengage myself from the grasp of the one that held me. I made a violent effort. In the struggle, my cloak fell off. As I stooped to pick it up, I received several blows. I then called for assistance. Several windows in the neighborhood opened. The three cowards disappeared. As you see, I am neither killed nor wounded. On the whole, no great harm has been done.”

My whole frame trembled during this account. When it was ended, I became somewhat calmer, and, passionately throwing my arms around Victor, I begged him to promise me solemnly never to go out again in the evening. He did so willingly.



The next morning Victor told me he did not feel any effect from what had occurred. He therefore went to the office as usual, and wrote a[87] spirited article, in which he made known and energetically stigmatized the base proceedings of those who had attacked him. The article attracted particular attention, and gave us the pleasant satisfaction of realizing to what a degree Victor had won the good-will of upright men. On all sides they came that very day to express their indignation at the violence used against him....

We should neither overestimate nor decry human nature. There are certainly a multitude of base men with low natures and vile instincts. But even among those who are the farthest from the truth there are some souls that have preserved a certain uprightness and hearts of a certain elevation for whom we cannot help feeling mingled admiration and pity.

That same evening Victor complained of not being well, but kept saying it was nothing serious. Without asking his consent, I sent for a physician, who examined him. Victor was forced to acknowledge he had been chilled the night before. He was very warm when he left M. Beauvais’ house, and, to counteract the effect of the keen north wind, he started off swiftly, and was in a complete perspiration when overtaken by his assailants. Stopped in the middle of the street, he was exposed to the cold night air, which was of course injurious. What was still worse, his cloak fell off, and it was several minutes before he recovered it.

I was seized with terror at hearing these details. It seemed as if my poor husband had just pronounced his own death-warrant. At the same time a horrible feeling sprang up in my heart, such as I had never experienced before. I was frantic with rage and hatred against those who were the cause of this fatal chill. I begged, I implored Victor and the physician to promise to take immediate steps for their discovery, that no time might be lost in bringing them to justice in order to receive the penalty they deserved.

“Agnes,” said Victor mildly—“Agnes, your affection for me misleads you. I no longer recognize my good Agnes.”

But I gave no heed to what he said, and was only diverted from my hatred by the care I was obliged to bestow on him. In twenty-four hours my poor husband’s illness had increased to such a degree that I lost all hope. Poor Victor! he suffered terribly, and I added to his sufferings instead of alleviating them! I loved him too much, or rather with too human an affection. I afflicted him with my alternate outbursts of despair and anger.

“Live without you!” I would exclaim—“that is impossible! Oh! the monsters who have killed you, if they could only die in your stead! But they shall be punished and held up to infamy as they deserve! If there is no one else in the world to ferret them out, I will do it myself!”

These fits of excitement caused Victor so much sorrow that the very remembrance of them fills me with the keenest remorse—a remorse I have reason to feel. His confessor, the physician, my mother, and he himself tried in vain to soothe me. One told me how far from Christian my conduct was, and another that I deprived my husband of what he needed the most—repose. I would not listen to them. I was beside myself.

One evening I was sitting alone beside the bed of my poor sick one, and was abandoning myself anew to my unreasonable anger, when Victor took my hand in his, and said, in a tone that went to my very heart:


“Agnes, I feel very weak. Perhaps I have not long to live. I beg you—I conjure you—to spare me the cruel sorrow of having my last hours embittered by a want of resignation I was far from expecting of you! Of all my sufferings, this is the greatest—and certainly that to which I can resign myself the least. What! my dear Agnes, do you, at the very moment of my leaving you, lay aside the most precious title you have in my eyes—that of a Christian woman, a woman of piety and fortitude—which transcends all others?... What! are you unable to submit to the will of God! Because his designs do not accord with your views, you dare say that God no longer loves you—that he is cruel!... My dear, do you set up your judgment against that of God? Do you refuse him the sacrifice of my life and of your enmity?... Does not my life belong to him?... And is not your enmity unchristian?... Did they who have reduced me to this condition intend doing me such an injury?... I think not. Could they have done me the least harm if God had not permitted them?... No matter at what moment the fatal blow falls on us, no matter whence it comes, it only strikes us at the time and in the manner permitted by God.—Agnes, kneel here beside me, and repeat the words I am about to utter. Repeat them with your lips and with your whole heart, whatever it may cost you. It is my wish. It is essential for your own peace of mind, and also for mine. Agnes, my dear love, we have prayed a thousand times together and with hearts so truly united! Now that you see me ill, perhaps dying ... can you refuse me the supreme joy of once more uniting my soul with yours before God in the same prayer?” ...

I burst into tears, and obeyed.

“O my God!” he cried, “whatever thou doest is well done. Nothing can tempt me to doubt thy goodness. Is not thy loving-kindness often the greatest when it seems disguised the most?... I firmly believe so, and I forgive all those who have tried to injure me. I pray thee to convert them. As for me, I beg thee, O my God, to deal with me as thou judgest most for thy glory and for my good.”

Victor uttered these words with so much fervor and emotion that I was stirred to the depths of my soul. A complete change took place within me which I attributed to my dear husband’s prayers. My eyes, hitherto tearless, now overflowed. My anger all at once disappeared. A profound sadness alone remained, mingled with resignation....

Victor’s life continued in danger some days longer. Then—oh! what happiness!—when I had made the sacrifice and bowed submissively to the divine will, the physician all at once revived my hopes. To comprehend the joy with which my heart overflowed at hearing that perhaps my husband might be restored to life, you must, like me, pass through long hours of bitterness in which you repeat, with your eyes fastened on your loved one: “A few hours, and I shall behold him no more!”

A week after, Victor was convalescent.



Victor and I then entered upon a singular life of which I think there are but few instances. I felt from the first that his convalescence was[89] deceptive, and the physician secretly told him so. We both felt that God allowed us to pass a few more months together, but no longer. The disease was checked, but it still hung about my dear one. It assumed a new form, and changed into a slow malady that was surely accomplishing its work. As frequently happens in such complaints, Victor was but partially cured of inflammation of the lungs, and now became consumptive.

A great poet says that no language, however perfect, can express all the thoughts, all the emotions, that spring up in the soul.[35] This is true. I have often felt it, and now realize it more than ever. Ten months elapsed between Victor’s amelioration and his death—months memorable for great suffering, but which have left me many delightful, though melancholy, remembrances. I wish I could impart these recollections to you. I hardly dare attempt it, so conscious am I of my inability to do them justice.

How, indeed, could I depict the love, stronger than ever, that bound me to my husband, spared in so unhoped-for a manner, though but for a brief period—so brief that I could almost count the hours? How make you understand how elevated, superhuman, consoling, and yet sorrowful, were our conversations? How many times Victor said to me: “Agnes, how merciful the good God is! See, he could have recalled me to himself at once, but still leaves me with you a few months longer. Oh! how heartily I desire to profit by this time in order to prepare for death, though I fear it not! I do not wish to spend one of these last hours in vain. I wish to do all the good in my power, and love you better and better as the blessed do in heaven. Oh! how sweet it will be to enter upon that perfect love above, which we have imagined, and had a foretaste of, here below—what do I say?—a thousand times sweeter, more perfect. Its enjoyment will be without any alloy of fear or sadness, for in loving, we shall have a right to say: ‘It is for ever!’”

But of all the thoughts that occupied Victor’s mind at that period, that which was most constantly in his heart he expressed in these simple but significant words: to do all the good possible! Penetrated with this desire, he resumed his duties at the Journal office as soon as he was able. His talents had developed under the influence of suffering. Every one remarked it. But controversy fatigued him, and he was not able to go out every day. He was, therefore, provided with an assistant—a young man of ability, to whom he could transfer most of the labor. He took pleasure in training him for the work, saying to himself: “He will be my successor. I shall still live in him, and have some part in the good he will do.”

A part of the day, therefore, remained unoccupied. He employed these hours in writing a small work—a simple, touching book, which was published a short time before his death, and is still doing, to my knowledge, much good among the people.

Training his successor and publishing a useful book were two good acts he took pleasure in, but, so great was his ardor for benefiting others, that they did not suffice. He earnestly longed for some new opportunity of testifying to God how desirous he was of making a holy use of the last moments of his life. “And yet,” he added, “I acknowledge this work[90] is perhaps presumptuous. It is asking a special grace from God of which I am not worthy.” But God granted him this longed-for opportunity of devoting himself to his glory, and he embraced it with a heroism that won universal admiration.

Spring returned, and we fell into the habit of going from time to time to pass a day in the country with Jeanne, my old nurse. Jeanne was one of those friends of a lower condition whom we often love the most. There is no jealousy in such a friendship to disturb the complete union of soul. It is mingled with a sweet sense of protection on one side, and of gratitude on the other—which is still sweeter.

We went there in the morning, walked around awhile, then breakfasted and resumed our walk. Jeanne lived at St. Saturnin, six kilomètres from town. It is a charming place, as you are aware. Near the village flows a stream bordered by poplars and willows that overshadow the deep but limpid waters. One morning we were walking in the broad meadow beneath the shade of these trees, when suddenly we saw a young man on the opposite shore, not six rods off, throw himself into the stream. Victor still retained a part of his natural vigor. Before I thought of preventing him, he sprang forward, and, seeing that the man who had precipitated himself into the water did not rise to the surface, jumped into the river, swam around some time, and finally succeeded in bringing the stranger to shore. I was wild with anxiety and grief. Without allowing him to stop to attend to the person he had rescued, I forced him to return to Jeanne’s in order to change his clothing. He gave orders for some one to hasten to the assistance of the poor man for whom he had so courageously exposed his life. Several persons hastily left their work, and in a short time returned with the man who had tried to drown himself. He was still agitated, but had recovered the complete use of his faculties. At the sight of my husband in the garb of a peasant, he at once comprehended to whom he owed his life. He was seized with a strange tremor; he staggered, and seemed on the point of fainting. Victor made every effort to bring him to himself, and at length succeeded. As soon as this young gentleman, who was clad with uncommon elegance, recovered his strength and self-possession, he seized my husband’s hand and kissed it with a respect that excited strange suspicions in my mind. Victor appeared to know him, but I did not remember ever having seen him before. Why had he thrown himself into the river? To drown himself, of course.... Why, then, did he testify so much gratitude and respect for one who had hindered him from executing his project?...

He requested, in a faint, supplicating tone, to be left alone with Victor. The rest of us withdrew into the garden. At our return, Victor whispered to me: “This gentleman is Louis Beauvais, the banker’s oldest son. He himself will relate his history to you after our return home.”

The carriage was not to come for us till four o’clock. We therefore passed several hours together at Jeanne’s. Victor devoted himself to Louis with an attention that touched me inexpressibly. As to Louis, a son could not have shown more affection to the best of fathers than he to Victor.

The hour of our departure came at last. We entered the carriage, and were all three at home in half an hour.




As the family is the type and basis of society, so does it contain, as in a microcosm, all the questions, problems, and difficulties that agitate the larger world. Marriage is first in importance within the family and in society, as representing the principle of creation; education comes next, as representing the principle of development. Given a new and perfect society, made up of individual couples whose union should be absolutely satisfactory, and whose motives, thoughts, and actions absolutely irreproachable, how is it to be perpetuated in this desirable state? If to the perfection of marriage were not added the consequent perfection of education, the new society, for a moment raised up above former standards of approximative goodness, would, in the course of half a generation, be reduced lower than any standard of Christian times. This is so well understood that education has come to be the one cry of all parties, representing with some the conscientious result of their religious belief, with others merely their ambition to make a stir in the political world. Christians look to it as fitting men for heaven; statesmen turn to it as fashioning the law-abiding citizen; atheists see in it the means whereby successfully to blind mankind, and make them swallow the poison hidden under the appearance of superficial cleverness; the devil grasps it as a tool, or recoils from it as from a thunderbolt; but to no thinking being can it be a matter of indifference.

We do not propose to go into that broader question of public education which, once within the scope of the law, and face to face with established national systems, immediately sets both hemispheres in a ferment; but to discuss that preliminary and more vital training whose silent power shows itself every day in the homes of thousands, neutralizing on the one hand good examples and wholesome teaching, and on the other often redeeming from utter badness its half-corrupted subject. And first taking the literal meaning of the word education, i.e. to lead up, or out of (e-duco), we must remark that as education is coeval with the dawn of reason, so it is also continuous. It begins in the cradle, and goes on hand in hand with life to the grave. All experience, good or bad, is education, not only the lessons taught in school-hours, the lectures given in classes, halls, and colleges, not alone the books we read and the examinations we undergo, but, more emphatically, the places we frequent, the people we meet, the misfortunes we go through, the work we perform. Even prosperity is education, though seldom in the highest sense, but it is chiefly in the lower walks of fortune that the more important part of this daily and hourly education is imparted. For this reason specially, and in view of the future in which a chance word heard in the street or a stray visit to some place or person may become of such subtle and paramount gravity, should home education in the Christian sense of the word be encouraged to the utmost. More particularly should this be the case in non-Catholic countries. We have[92] no outward atmosphere of religion to trust to; no wayside crosses to remind us of the sufferings which our sins caused our Blessed Saviour; no simple shrines to bid us remember to pray for our invisible brethren in purgatory; no street processions to bring vividly before our minds that our King is more than an earthly lord, and our Mother more than an earthly parent.

We do not breathe Catholicity in our daily life, and there is therefore the greater need of our drinking it in with our mother’s milk. This insensible and gradual instilling of religion into our infant minds is the essence of Christian “home education.” First among all the influences that go towards it is example. This extends over every detail of the household, and can be and should be kept in view in the poorest as well as the most comfortable home. In the latter, certainly, the duty is more stringent, the incentives to its performance lying so near at hand that it requires an absolutely guilty carelessness to neglect them. In the former, though a thousand excuses might be made for the neglect of this paramount duty, it should still be remembered that God’s grace is all-powerful, and never fails those who seek to do his will. Parents sorely tried during a day of toil and anxiety are often found more loving and forbearing towards their helpless children than others who, with no trouble on their minds, yet delegate the “tiresome” office of nurse to a hired attendant; and although it is certainly to be deplored that in so many cases the children of the poor should be nothing but little men and women already weighed down by cares that ought to belong only to a later age, still it may be questioned whether even this is not a lesser evil in the long run than that other sort of neglect which makes the children of the rich, for the most part, only the playthings of their parents.

The poor, on the contrary, though necessity may make their children drudges, yet have in them early friends, while too often among their more fortunate neighbors children count only as the ornaments of the house. So that even out of evil comes good, and God has planted consolations in the path of his poor which go far to soften the miseries of their inevitable lot. We say inevitable, not as denying the immense, unexplored possibilities of alleviating this lot which remain in the power of future philanthropists, but as believing in our Lord’s prophecy, “The poor you have always with you,” which blessed promise we count as a staff vouchsafed in mercy to help us on our way to heaven.

We have said that the duty of good example is incumbent upon every parent, rich or poor. But not only those broad examples which could hardly fail to strike even an idiot, such as abstaining from unseemly brawls, from excesses of language and of self-indulgence—in plain words, from swearing and drinking—or from manifest dishonesty; there are subtler things than these, and which produce indeed greater effect on the child spectator. Gross vice has often that redeeming phase of being its own antidote by disgusting those who come in daily contact with it. The principle on which the Spartans educated their children in temperance by exhibiting before them the drunken helots was (however cruel its application on the persons of their unhappy prisoners) a consummate proof of practical wisdom. That which does not carry such an antidote with it is more to be feared in the education of a child. A spirit of irritability between husband and[93] wife; a carelessness on the part of either in entering cordially into the other’s little interests; an exhibition of temper over absurd trifles or of unamiability in small questions of self-denial—these tell gravely upon a child’s character. Observation and criticism are childhood’s natural characteristics, and very logical and very pitiless are childhood’s judgments. The old-fashioned code of a “well-behaved” child used to be never to ask questions; we are not so sure that this code was faultlessly wise. We suffer perhaps under a somewhat aggravated form of a very dissimilar one just now, and may be tempted—not unpardonably—to wish for the peace of the good old times back again. As usual, the middle course is the most rational as well as beneficial, and if it were in our power to stop the violent swayings of the social pendulum from one extreme to the other, we would gladly do our part in the work.

It is therefore in the more unheeded and less abnormal occurrences of every day that the greatest force of example lies, and that harm or good may be done beyond recall. Christian gentleness, that daily unobtrusive charity which in rough homes amply makes up for what outward refinement may be lacking, and in more prosperous households alone sets the seal of true worth upon such exterior polish as there is, is the golden secret of a perfect example. And this spirit should extend to every domestic relation, covering the whole field of contingencies which may assume such grave proportions in a child’s memory. Your deportment to the poor, if you are rich yourself, has an invaluable force of example; the patience with which you listen to a tale of distress, the delicate courtesy implied in an attentive attitude, the gracefulness of your alms, and the wise but gentle discrimination of your questioning, all have an untold effect upon the little trotter by your side, hardly old enough to reason however dimly, but old enough to bear away a nameless impression of the scene. On the other hand, think of the responsibility incurred by a rude or callous reception; a sneering or lofty air of caution against what you think may be an imposture; above all, perhaps, a careless alms given to be rid of a disagreeable importunity, and a half-expression of relief when the interruption is happily over! The child at your side bears away this impression quite as surely, and in after-years uses its imitative powers quite as skilfully, as if the impression had been one of mercy and kindness; and a very few scenes of this sort are enough to mould for a child a certain standard of behavior.

Among the domestic relations, none is more likely to strike a child’s eye than that between master and servant. Here also dangerous seeds of future heartlessness may be easily sown by the example of a careless or haughty parent. Considerate thought for the proper comforts of those whose toil ensures your leisure is one of the foremost Christian duties. A child is naturally tyrannical, and this disposition, if fostered by an injudicious mother, may lead to a shameless persecution of the very persons to whose care children are most often left. This, in turn, will encourage tyranny on the nurse’s part, and engender a system of mutual deceit; the child and the servant trying to circumvent each other in carrying tales, and then sheltering themselves by lies from the consequences of having carried them. Now, all this is to the last degree injurious to the future character of the child; it withers the principle of honor;[94] it kills all manliness and straightforward dealing, and sows the seeds of those two inseparable vices, cruelty and cowardice. In after-life, when the despairing mother sees her darling sink below himself, and earn the unenviable names of bully and sneak, can she blame him for shattering the ideal she blindly worshipped in his person? Not so, for with justice can she look back on her own folly, and with bitterness cry out, “It was my fault.

Very different is the other and the good example shown by so many holy and conscientious women in their relations with their households. Considerateness and forbearance in all things are not incompatible with firmness in some. A sense of your own dignity, were it nothing higher, will dictate a kind bearing towards those in humbler station; for to those who never obtrude their superiority a double homage will ever be accorded. A child can exercise on its attendants some of the noblest virtues of manhood; the household is a little world, a preparatory stage on which to rehearse in miniature the opportunities of after-life. Pleasure given to some, a little gift or a gracious speech vouchsafed to others; consolation afforded to one in grief, attention shown to one in sickness; and, above all, a mindfulness of not making the yoke of servitude too galling by restricting the natural and proper diversions of those whom God has destined to bear it—such are a few of the lessons a child should learn, not in words alone, but in the manner of its parents and the unconscious radiating of an habitual example.

Another class of influences under which a child will necessarily come is that of social relations. For the most part, children are made too much of a show. They are taught—or allowed—certain little mannerisms which, at their age, are called charming, but, if looked at by the light of common sense, are simply as absurd as they are forward. Later on, when they begin to use their reason, they are often listeners to frivolous or scandalous conversations, in which they pick up, if not a half-knowledge of vice, certainly a whole love of gossip. Now, all this is deplorable from a Christian point of view. In a really Christian home—a home such as we aspire to see at least in every Catholic family—the case would be very different. Entertainments and fêtes would be judiciously “few and far between,” and in its mother’s visitors the child would see only fresh objects of its mother’s charitable tact. If anything against charity were said, the hostess would gently check the conversation, either by palliating the fault alluded to, suggesting a better motive than the apparent one concerning any person implicated, or turning the conversation skilfully to some less dangerous topic. Those formal visits, made to kill time or otherwise uselessly, would have no part in her day’s programme, and with ever charitable but firm demeanor would she effectually check the frequent demands thus made upon her time by others. The child, quick of perception, as almost all children are, would be unconsciously moulded to habits of orderly and discriminating hospitality, and would soon learn to do something for God in every social pastime which it legitimately enjoyed.

This brings us to the subject of order, an important virtue in the Christian home. Education itself, if given in a desultory fashion, would be next to useless, and some of that strict apportioning of time which gives to our study hours their wholesome monotony is essential also for[95] the home training of youth. This may seem at first sight a very arbitrary decision, but, when we come to look deeper into it, we find that it has the same relation to the future moral life as the study of the classics or of mathematics to the intellectual life. A knowledge of the Greek and Latin poets, orators, and historians has perhaps very little influence on the practical and ultimate result of a college education; but the effect of refinement it has on the mind, and the polished tone it imperceptibly gives to thought, manners, and conversation, are benefits simply incalculable. So with mathematics. A boy may not have any aptitude for that science, and may never hope to become proficient in it; still, the habit of application, the facility of concentrating and commanding his thoughts, which is the natural result of the close study demanded by the exact sciences, are things whose influence on his future career cannot be rated too high. They may not unlikely ensure temporal success, and, in these days of feverish competition, this argument should not be overlooked. Still, it is from a higher motive that we say the same of habits of order in the home. This regularity, which, no doubt, may be tedious, just as mathematics may be dry, is not lost on the general impressions of childhood, and, were it only for its own sake, should be looked upon as a seal of likeness to the works of God, which cannot fail to hallow the family circle. We have said that the family is the world in miniature, and as the principle of order was the presiding attribute in creation, so ought we in our daily lives to take it as a means of creating more and more time, more and more opportunities, for the service of God. “Be perfect, even as your heavenly Father is perfect.”

In the education given by the constant example of the parents, nothing is more important than family prayer, or, at least, prayer said at the mother’s knee. In the most solemn of duties, it is not fitting that parent and child should be separated. If Jesus has said that his Father can refuse nothing to “two or three gathered together in his name,” how much more invincible must be the joint prayer of those who are linked by such close and sacred ties, those who present to him a faint shadow of his own humble home at Nazareth! Think you that Jesus in his kingdom forgets the simple hearth where his Mother taught him, according to the development of his human nature, those formulæ of prayer and thanksgiving which he himself, in his divine nature, had taught to the Jewish lawgivers? Does he forget the rites of circumcision and presentation, the offerings and ransom paid for him according to the law, the visit to the temple at Jerusalem? He has shown us in his obedience to these religious observances his wish that we should imitate his outward devotion and submission to the church. Family worship is dear to him in remembrance of his own childhood, and as it is one of the most solemn, so it is also one of the sweetest duties of the Christian parent. It tends to give the child a proper spirit of faith and simple reliance, in that it sees its earthly parent, to whom it looks up for everything and considers as the final arbiter of its small world, prostrate before a higher Fatherhood, and taking towards the divine Omnipotence the very attitude of a submissive and expectant child.

Next to prayer itself, pious reading cannot fail to demand our attention as the second great spiritual help in the routine of home education. This[96] should be simple and well suited to the understanding of young children, and, above all, should not be a dry and barren formality, but should be explained and amplified by the mother’s comments. How, unless questions are freely allowed—nay, encouraged—can the extent of the impression made by spiritual reading be measured? Then, what an inexhaustible resource does not this reading or its equivalent—descriptions by word of mouth—afford to a thoughtful parent! The beautiful narratives of the Old Testament, the stories of the four gospels, the many striking incidents in the lives of the saints, the legends of the faithful middle ages, the histories of the contemporaneous manifestations of God’s mercy, all offer mines of wealth to a skilful narrator. If, instead of goblin tales more fit for the entertainment of rational people than for the staple of a child’s too credulous meditations, these holy histories became the nursery rhymes of the future generation, it would be well indeed for the spiritual advance of our age. If among the romances of mediæval times more of those were chosen in which religion figures than of those where fairy and elf appear, it would be a better promise for the future health, moral and physical, of our people. Who knows how much of that nervousness which is the characteristic disease of our day is due to those unwholesome terrors of infancy, those threats of bogy and ogre, with which children are frightened into silence or lulled into uneasy sleep! The child who would be, in a manner, the companion of the boy Jesus, of the child Precursor, the infant Samuel, the Holy Innocents, the children of whom our Lord said, “Suffer them to come unto me, and forbid them not,” and of the many boy and girl saints—S. Rose of Viterbo, S. Aloysius Gonzaga, S. Stanislaus Kostka—would be a far healthier and more manly subject than the mental companion of deformed sprites and forest goblins. The young mind is so impressionable that it is the greatest possible mistake to let its first exercise of reason spend itself on unrealities; they are apt to take on an influence not readily shaken off, and to cumber the ground long after room is needed for more serious growths of thought. This may seem an exceptional mode of proceeding, perhaps an eccentric one, the contrary having for so many ages held sway, but we take leave to think that it has reason, expediency, and religion on its side.

To this great duty of example, which ramifies itself as often as there are distinct classes of influence, is added the duty of vigilance. Parents need not only the knowledge of what to impart, but the instinct of what to shun. As watchers over a citadel, they have to guard against the masked inroads of the enemy, and carefully to sift their children’s surroundings, whether social or domestic, lest any taint should lurk in the association. We have read somewhere in a book of devotion that those who carry great treasures in a frail vessel naturally take the greater care as to their gait and speed; they look well to see if the road is level, or to avoid its irregularities if it is not; they take heed to keep their eyes and mind intent on what they bear, so as to bring it safe to its destination. Even so does the mother carry in her hands the priceless treasure of a human soul, and her solicitude for its perfect preservation from all taint or attack should be little less than that of the child’s Guardian Angel himself. If, as we have just hinted, she should choose with such scrupulous care even the companions of his fancy, so[97] much the more should this judicious censorship be extended to the real companions of his studies or recreations. Perhaps the influence of childish association is even greater than the mother’s own, and what the latter may have laboriously sown will be uprooted in a moment by the former. Children’s minds, in indiscriminate contact with each other, are as powder and spark brought together; if each had been kept until the right moment, and applied in the right way, we might have had an illumination; as it is, we have a conflagration. As childhood merges into youth, the choice of a school brings this question of companionship into prominence. In a public institution, it is not possible to admit only children who come, well-taught and docile-minded, from irreproachable homes; the very aim and end of the institution would thus be frustrated. Nor is it possible for its parents, once a child is admitted, to choose absolutely who, among its many school-fellows, shall be its special friends. Much may be done in that way by advice, tact, and prayer; still, guidance falls far short of absolute choice. It is therefore evident that the greater care should be taken to choose the school which in itself shall have the greatest influence in moulding the character of its scholars, and thereby in transforming into fitter companions for the new-comer those very children who, nolens volens, must needs be his everyday acquaintances. But the influence of home does not cease with the first day at school. Letters from home, breathing the old atmosphere, will carry the child back, week by week, to his old associations, be they good or bad; the holidays will bring him again within the fascination of the old circle, and occasional visits from the companions of his early childhood will complete the charm. Thus an infinite amount of good, or a corresponding amount of harm, may yet be done after the home education period has, strictly speaking, passed away.

And here is, perhaps, the best place to touch upon the holy influence which an elder brother or sister may exercise on a younger one. This, one of the most powerful means of good, is only second to that of the parents themselves, and may furnish a very beautiful illustration of true and discerning brotherly love. It is spiritual friendship engrafted upon the stock of natural affection, itself a noble virtue and most sweet tie, which has often, even in heathen times, produced great effects. Under this figure of brotherhood God has typified his union with creatures; he made himself our Brother through the incarnation; and everywhere brotherhood is synonymous with the dearest and purest fellowship. Our brothers and sisters in the flesh, especially if they are younger than ourselves, are as much our care and charge as they are of our parents; and of this we have a striking instance in the very first book of the Pentateuch, and only a few years after the sinless creation of Adam. Cain’s defiant plea, “Am I my brother’s keeper?” failed to meet with God’s endorsement, but brought instead the terrible answer that he should be “a fugitive and a vagabond upon the earth.” In the daily companionship of brotherhood, this scene is often re-enacted; souls are slain by their own kindred, and the world smiles and passes blindly on. But God has set a mark upon the murderer by which the devils know him and kill him not, because they know too well whose road he is even now treading, and that in the last day his mark shall be revealed to all. Here is the dark side of that continuous education which is as potently at work in dens of shame and[98] places of pleasant danger as it is in Christian homes and schools. Here is that nefarious education which neutralizes or obliterates the happy past, and leads our young men by tortuous paths of gradual vice to the end of many such deceptive panoramas—the gallows or suicide.

False example, insidious promptings, rash indulgences, intoxicating freedom, wily friendship—through these and many kindred forms, subtle may be and proportionately dangerous, the devil, in the person of your brother or your seeming friend, leads you on till the murder of Abel is repeated, and the insolent excuse flung back to heaven: “Am I my brother’s keeper?”

The system of rewards and punishments has much to do with the moral training of youth. With regard to this, we may startle our readers by broaching views so different from those time-honored ones that pretend to find their sanction in the Biblical rule, “Spare the rod, and spoil the child,” as to seem heretical to good old-fashioned, jog-trot parents.[36] But what if the Scripture itself were to fail them? What authority have they for understanding “the rod” in its literal instead of its figurative sense? The rod was, with the Hebrews, an emblem of power: witness the miracles of Aaron in Egypt, and the blossoming of his rod when his supreme authority was called in question by the rebellion of Core. “The rod” may therefore very plausibly be taken as meaning parental authority, and the text would thus imply nothing more than a declaration that the carelessness of the parent will be responsible for the wrong-headedness of the child. In this sense we prefer to read this passage, and for this reason: physical punishments and rewards will be indissolubly associated in a young child’s mind with his good or bad actions, just as they are coupled in the memory and instinct of a dog with the various desirable or undesirable things it has been taught or forbidden to do. This produces a low and degrading standard by which moral actions are henceforward measured by the child, and later on will lead to the impression that the absence of such tangible consequences argues the right to do as he pleases, irrespective of merely moral restraints; whereas, if the rewards and punishments meted out to him are of the moral and intellectual order, his conception of the principle of duty will be abstract and independent. Childhood has a natural leaning towards deception; therefore truth should be made not only prominent, but attractive. To own a fault, and even to confess it unasked, should be an understood palliation of the fault itself; whereas any attempt at concealment should be treated as a far graver offence than the action concealed. In a word, the principle of Christian honor should be the keynote of home education, and any meanness should be condemned as the most contemptible of all faults. Sensitive as children are to the slightest alteration of manner in their regard, they would feel keenly the silence and avoidance which this plan presupposes in their parents’ conduct towards them when guilty of a dishonorable action, and, by associating the idea of wrong with that of disgrace, would very soon be brought to a truer estimate of morals than if wrong with them was only the synonyme of pain. Again, the system of physical punishment invariably leads to defiance; it stirs up a spirit of contradiction and sullenness[99] which gradually encrusts the young mind with the deplorable proof-armor of ultimate indifference. We need give but one example—a personal one—of the immense superiority of moral over physical punishment. As a child, we were stubborn and self-willed, and were frequently treated, not exactly to corporal indignities, but to threadbare schoolroom devices for overcoming temper. Two or three times it happened that, these worn-out means proving as inefficient as “water on a duck’s back,” fatherly authority had to be invoked. It always took one form—silence. For a week there would be none of the happy familiarities between father and child, but, instead, a cessation of the usual pleasant and indulgent intercourse, and now and then a grave look of displeasure as the culprit would make some spasmodic and despairing advance. This was the only punishment which made the slightest impression, and the keen remembrance of it lasts to this day. Sometimes, when we were older, another variety was tried. Instead of being, according to the old code, starved on bread and water in a dark closet, we were seated alone at a table, while the rest of the family ate together as usual; every dish was ceremoniously brought up and served at our solitary meal, and every servant in the house was perfectly aware of the cause; no one spoke or offered us the least attention beyond the ordinary formalities, and we were treated half like a distinguished prisoner, half like an excommunicated person. The result was admirable, prompt in the extreme, and certain to ensure an unusually long term of subsequent docility.

Rewards are no less important than punishments. Of these, knowledge and religious opportunities should, in our idea, form the staple. They are thus invested with a personal interest to the child; they come before him as things specially concerning his own good behavior and his parents’ appreciation of it. For instance, the mother reads him Scripture stories and the legends of the saints; he listens with absorption, and longs to read the book himself, but the road through the alphabet and spelling-book is uninviting. Why not teach him through the book itself? The illuminated capitals will strike him by their beauty, the pictures will lend force to the difficult words, and help his memory to connect them with the illustrated subject. Instead of finding church services an irksome interruption to his games, he might be made to look upon them as the highest rewards he can obtain. For a well-learnt lesson in catechism, he might be taught to chant one of those immortal poems, the Psalms; for proficiency in Bible history, he might be taken to some of the most picturesque of our solemn ceremonies, and hear, on the way, of the typical manner in which it is connected with that history; for an act of childish self-denial, he might be allowed to serve as acolyte at Mass. Even these rewards, however, should not be injudiciously multiplied, for familiarity would beget irreverence,—the worst stumbling-block that could be laid in a child’s spiritual path. We think that a Christian education in the early days of childhood could go no further in perfection than this—the thorough identification of all happiness with religion.

We have yet to speak of a detail in household economy, which, in point of interest, is one of the foremost. Personal attention to a child is a part of the mother’s duty of vigilance, and the fashionable custom of leaving such attention to domestics[100] cannot be reprobated too strongly. This personal care is, first of all, an instinct of nature which it must require a very thick coating of frivolity entirely to supersede; and it is, secondly, a duty of religion from which even great physical sickness cannot conscientiously release the parent. Numberless evils flow from a neglect of this imperious duty. The forsaken child will learn in time to forget its mother, to think of her as a splendid being very far from him—one not to be annoyed by his cries or made nervous by his romps, but to be gazed at from afar, like a grand picture or work of art. Happy child if an affectionate, compassionate nurse takes the vacant place of his own mother, and makes him familiar with those sweet, nameless trivialities that make up the world of a child’s heart; but, even so, how sad the necessity for such comfort! How much more sad, then, the position of the unloved child, neglected even by its nurse, or left to the well-meaning but questionable petting of the other servants! They will not be reticent, though they may be obsequious, and the future character of their charge will be warped beyond remedy. Pride, too, will be ridiculously fostered, and will drive tenderness away; a certain recklessness will be infused into the child’s habits, and reverence, refinement, sensitiveness, will be petrified within him. He will feel himself of no value, since no one cares for him, and, if no happy influence stops his downward course, he will be a cynic before he is twenty-five.

We have said so much in this strain, and made so much of the gloomy side of the question, that we feel bound to speak a little more fully of the model Christian home, not only as it should be, but—thank God that we can say it!—as it very often is. We know that, according to Father Faber’s beautiful expression, “God has many Edens in this world,” and surely among our Christian homes many deserve this name.

There are those in which the father is not absorbed in business and the mother by fashion, where the servants are happy and attached members of the family, where daily prayer and cheerful work alternate with each other in order, where recreation does not degenerate into riot, nor work conduce to moroseness. Healthy exercise and early hours keep the doctor from the door, while constant industry repulses the proverbial visitor who always “finds mischief for idle hands to do.” The father is the genial companion of his children, and does not lose their respect by gaining their confidence; the mother is the guardian spirit of the household, the wise woman of the Proverbs, “whose children rose up and called her blessed; her husband, and he praised her.” Towards each other the husband and wife behave as they would before the angels of God, because they remember that he who scandalizeth “a little one” is accursed, and that the angel of “the little one,” who is there continually beside him and in some sort represents him in heaven, “beholds the face of the Lord.” The children are submissive, not through fear, but through reason and love; for the acknowledged superiority of their elders has a rational force with them, and they think themselves honored in obeying those who are wiser than they. They have Jesus of Nazareth ever before their eyes—the Boy who, as he grew in years, “waxed strong in wisdom and grace,” and who, though he was God, “went down, and was subject to them.”

This life, peaceful, orderly, religious, the life of the cloister translated[101] into the home, is in itself education. Its holy influence is not confined to space or time, but will live in the hearts of the scattered family through youth and manhood to extreme old age. In fancy, they will be able to reconstruct that home; in spirit, to revisit it long after its dearest inmates shall have left it for their heavenly home, long after its material frame shall have passed away to other, perhaps to careless, hands. In their various resting-places, whether a new home, the daughter of that shrine, or only a rock just above the level of the sea of fortune, the hallowed remembrance will come back to them freighted with hope and strength for the future. Even in heaven, the Son of God is called Jesus of Nazareth, and can we forget the home and the mother that made us what we are?

In all that pertains to this ideal, although man is bound to subserve it to the utmost, woman is more solemnly pledged to its fulfilment. Man has the world for his empire: woman has man—during the years of his pupilage. The mother’s education is the child’s second birth, and she who, being mother to the body of her child, neglects that more laborious training which accompanies its moral development, practically refuses to be the mother of its soul. To a woman failing in her home duties is attached more reproach than to a neglectful husband and father, because her office is the more sacred, her position the nearer to God. It was a woman who was glorified by the most miraculously close union with God that the universe has ever seen, and by that standard alone should womanhood and motherhood be judged. If it falls short of a faint copy of Mary the mother of Jesus, it is condemned, for the state that has been the most divinely exalted should ever after remain the most humanly perfect.

The mere temporal importance of home education, though secondary to its spiritual aspect, cannot be overlooked. Besides the duty of the angel—training souls for heaven—woman has the duty of the citizen, i.e. training patriots for the state. Without faith there is no love of country in the highest sense; without discipline, no love of law. It is woman’s task to mould the men who, in the future, will mould the nation. High or low it matters not: the mother of the statesman and the mother of the laborer work alike towards their country’s glory. The state needs hands as well as heads, and the mason who cuts the common stones has as much part and should have as much pride in the completed building as the artist who carves the wonderful pinnacles or fashions the marvellous capitals.

We have spoken perhaps too exclusively of the duties and circumstances of the higher classes in this matter of home education. Perhaps it is not altogether unprovidential that we should have been led to do so; for of the various divisions of humanity which our Lord in his parable of the sower represents under the figure of the different accidents that befell the good seed, we know which is, unhappily, the least productive. Jesus himself has explained that the thorns which choked the seed are the “cares, and riches, and pleasures of this life.” Mark well, the cares; not only the riches and pleasures, for those self-sought and profitless cares have not the blessings on them which the God-given cares of poverty have. The poor and lowly too often shame their more fortunate brethren by their greater self-devotion and generosity. Their homes, so much less prosperous, are yet often so much more edifying, than ours; and let it be remembered[102] that every act of theirs has, according to the measure of their inferior opportunities, double the merit of any similar act of ours. So with the wholesome reticence which becomes us who have so many opportunities and neglect them: we have preferred to point out the beam that is in our own eye, rather than pharisaically to expatiate on the mote that is in our neighbor’s. Yet we would not that any class should deem itself exempt from the duties of home education—duties which, with the poor, have all the added merit of absolute heroism. The poor are told, and doubtless truly, by our teachers and superiors, that their condition should be dear to them because it was that of our Lord himself; but we, their brethren and fellow-pilgrims, should labor to supplement this teaching by making that very condition less irksome to them. Who can dream of Jesus on earth as not being poor and destitute? But, on the other hand, who would dare, were he now on earth, to be behindhand in ministering to his poverty? Now, the alms we owe to his earthly representatives are twofold, i.e. spiritual and temporal. Among the former, none are so meritorious as good examples. Have we not in these days a perpetual and most sadly grotesque picture of class aping class, of tawdriness following close on the heels of fashion, of aspiring vanity actually crowding out the legitimate needs of the body? If this system of imitation must be, why not give it a worthy subject to practise upon?

Reform, to be practical, must begin in the higher strata of society; for not only to individuals, but also, in a wider sense, to classes, is the keepership of brotherhood entrusted. We are our “brother’s keeper,” and our “brother” is the mass of men who look up to us for guidance. As long as our fathers and husbands care more for their office than their home, so long will the bulk of the nation be mere animated machines snatching after precarious wealth; as long as our wives and mothers care more for the drawing-room than for the nursery and study, so long will the mass of women be heartless coquettes or abandoned harlots. We speak strongly, because we feel strongly. This is an age of initial struggle, which our faith should turn into an era of better things. If we need any “new departure,” let it be the departure from frivolity to domesticity, from contemptible weakness to the manliness of the Gospel. And here let us say one word to the head of the family, to him without whose example even the mother’s influence is incomplete. Business is not the whole of life; it is not even the first earthly good to be sought for. Success often kills happiness, and its exclusive pursuit always kills peace. The father who allows business to isolate him from all the tenderer interests of his home achieves two things: he alienates his children’s affection—after having very likely worn out his wife’s devotion—and he teaches them betimes the baneful lesson that before Mammon all other interests must bow. This false doctrine his children will teach to theirs by an example equally gloomy with his own, and thus God will be forgotten in the very gifts which one word of his mouth could turn in a moment to dust and ashes.

Shall this be so, or will Christian parents take heed to their duty?






Reader, have you ever been in the old church of the Rivière Ouelle? In one of its side-chapels is an ex-voto which was placed there many long years ago by a stranger who was miraculously preserved from death. It is a very old picture, full of dust, and of no artistic value, but it recalls a touching story; I learned it when very young, on my mother’s knees, and it has remained as fresh and vivid in my memory as when I first heard it.

It was a cold winter evening, long, long ago. The snow was beating against the window-sashes, and the icy north wind howled and shrieked among the naked branches of the great elms in the garden. The whole family had assembled in the salon. Our mother, after playing several airs on the piano, allowed her fingers to wander restlessly over the keys—her thoughts were elsewhere. A shade of sadness passed over her brow. “My dear children,” said she, after a moment’s silence, “see what a fearful night this is; perhaps many poor people will perish before morning from cold and hunger. How thankful we ought to be to God for our good food and warm, comfortable beds! Let us say our rosary for the poor travellers who may be exposed to such dangers during the night.” And then she added, “If you say it with devotion, I will tell you all a beautiful story.” Oh! how we wished that our rosary was finished! At that age the imagination is so vivid and the soul so impressionable. Childhood possesses all the charms of the golden dawn of life; enveloping every object in shade and mystery, it clothes each in a poetry unknown to any other age.

We gathered around our mother, near the glowing stove, which diffused a delicious warmth throughout the apartment, and listened in a religious sort of silence to her sweet and tender voice. I almost think I hear it now. Listen with me to her story:

Toward the middle of the last century, a missionary, accompanied by several Indians, ascended the south bank of the St. Lawrence River, about thirty leagues below Quebec. The missionary was one of those intrepid pioneers of faith and civilization whose sublime figures are thrown out from the dark background of the past, surrounded by a halo of glory and immortality. Nailed on Golgotha during the days of their bloody pilgrimage, they shine to-day on a new Tabor; and the light which radiates from their faces illuminates the present and throws itself far into the future. At their names alone, the people, seized with wonder and respect, bow low their heads; for these names recall a courage most superhuman, a faith most admirable, and a devotedness most sublime. He whom we are following at this moment was one of those illustrious children of the Society[104] of Jesus, whose entire life was consecrated to the conversion of the savages of Canada. He was not very tall, and stooped slightly; his beard, blanched prematurely by hardships, and his pale and attenuated features, seemed to indicate a want of strength and endurance for so hard a life; but this frail body concealed one of those grand souls which draw from the energy of their will an inexhaustible strength. His large, expansive forehead suggested a proportionate intellect, and his features wore an expression of incomparable sweetness and simplicity; the least shade of a melancholy smile played over his lips—in a word, his whole face seemed filled with that mysterious glory with which sanctity illumines her predestined souls.

The leader of the little band was a few steps in advance. He was an old Indian warrior who a long time before had been converted to Christianity by this holy missionary, and who from that time became the faithful companion of all his adventurous wanderings.

The travellers advanced slowly on their raquettes[37] over a soft, thick snow. It was one of those superb December nights whose marvellous splendor is entirely unknown to the people of the South, with which the old year embellishes its waning hours to greet the advent of the new-comer. Innumerable stars poured their light in silver tears over the blue firmament of heaven—we might say tears of joy which the glory of the Sun of Justice draws from the eyes of the blessed. The moon, ascending through the different constellations, amused itself by contemplating in the snowy mirror its resplendent disk. Toward the north, luminous shafts radiated from a dark cloud which floated along the horizon. The aurora borealis announces itself first by pale, whitish jets of flame which slowly lick the surface of the sky; but soon the scene grows more animated, the colors deepen, and the light grows larger, forming an arch around an opaque cloud. It assumes the most bizarre forms. In turn appear long skeins of white silk, graceful swan-plumes, or bundles of gold and silver thread; then a troop of white phantoms in transparent robes execute a fantastic dance. Now it is a rich satin fan whose summit touches the zenith, and whose edges are fringed with rose and saffron tints; finally, it is an immense organ, with pearl and ivory pipes, which only awaits a celestial musician to intone the sublime hosanna of nature to the Creator. The strange crackling sound which accompanies this brilliant phenomenon completes the illusion; for it is strangely like the sighs which escape from an organ whose pipes are filled with a powerful wind. It is the prelude of the divine concert which mortal ears are not permitted to listen to. The scene which presented itself below was not less fascinating in its savage beauty than that of the sky above.

The cold, dry atmosphere was not agitated by a single breath; nothing was heard but the dull monotonous roaring of the gigantic river, sleeping under a coverlet of floating ice, which dotted its dark waters like the spotted skin of an immense leopard. A light white vapor rose like the breath from the nostrils of a marine monster. Toward the north, the blue crests of the Laurentides were clearly defined, from Cape Tourmente to the mouth of the Saguenay. In a southern direction the last slopes of the Alleghanies stretched along, covered with pines, firs, and maples;[105] almost the entire shore was densely wooded, for at the remote period which we describe those vast clearings along the banks covered with abundant meadows were not to be seen, nor the pretty little whitewashed houses grouped in villages along the shore so coquettishly, a person could easily compare them to bands of swans sleeping on the river-banks. A sea of forest covered these shores. A few scattered houses appeared here and there, but this was all.


The travellers advanced in silence toward the middle of the wood, when suddenly the leader of the party stopped, making at the same time a sign with his hand for his companions to do likewise. “You are mistaken, comrade,” said the missionary to him; “the noise that you have just heard was only a tree split by the frost.”

The Indian turned slowly toward him, an almost imperceptible smile passing over his face. “My brother,” said he, in a low voice, “if you saw me take your holy word,[38] and try to read in it, you would laugh at me. I do not wish to laugh at you, for you are a black-gown; but I tell you, you do not know the voices of the forest, and the noise which we have just heard is a human voice. Follow me at a distance, while I go on to see what is happening yonder.” The travellers walked on for some time without seeing anything. The father began to think he had not been deceived, when they came to an opening in the woods, and saw the Indian stop. What was his astonishment, when, following the direction in which the savage was looking, he saw at the extreme end of the opening a very extraordinary light, apparently detached from the obscurity of the trees. In the midst of this luminous globe appeared a vague, indistinct form, elevated above the ground. Then another spectacle that the brilliancy of the strange vision had prevented him from seeing before, was presented to his gaze.

A young man dressed in military uniform was kneeling at the foot of a tree. His hands were clasped and his eyes turned towards heaven; he seemed absorbed in the contemplation of a mysterious and invisible object. Two corpses, which were easily recognized as an officer and a soldier from their uniforms, were lying by his side in the snow. The officer, an elderly man with gray hair, was lying against a maple; in his hands was a little book, about to slip out of them. His head was leaning on his right shoulder, and his face had that ashy hue which too plainly told that death already claimed him. A bluish circle surrounded his half-closed eyes, and a last tear stood congealed on his livid cheek. A placid smile was on his face, indicating that a supreme hope, which faith alone could inspire, had consoled his last moments.[39]

The noise made by the travellers’ feet in the snow caused the young man, who was still on his knees, to turn suddenly round. “O father! my father!” cried he, rushing toward the missionary, “it is Providence who has sent you here to save me. I was about to share the terrible fate of my unfortunate companions, when—a prodigy!—a miracle!”—suffocated by his tears and sobs, he could say no more, but, throwing himself into the arms of the missionary, he pressed him to his heart.

“Calm yourself, my dear son,” said the old man; “for in your feeble and[106] exhausted state such violent emotion might prove fatal.” Scarcely had he finished the words, when he felt the young man’s head sink heavily on his shoulder, and his body become a dead weight—he had fainted.

The travellers eagerly bestowed on him every care that his situation required and that lay in their power. His two friends, alas! were beyond reach of human succor. The savages dug their graves in the snow, and the saintly missionary, after reciting some prayers over their bodies, cut with his knife a large cross in the bark of the maple at the foot of which they had breathed their last—a simple but sublime monument of hope and love, destined to guard their earthly remains.


See you yonder, on the slope of the hill, that pretty cottage, so neat and white, with its little thatched barn, so clearly defined against the caressing foliage of that beautiful copse of maples? Well, that is a Canadian home. From its high green pedestal it smiles at the great rolling river, in whose wave is mirrored its trembling image, and which so gently comes to expire at its feet; for the happy proprietor of this pretty dwelling loves his great, beautiful river, and has been careful to establish his home on its banks. Sometimes, when necessity obliges him to go away, he is always homesick, because he must listen to its grand voice, and contemplate its wooded islands and distant shores; he must caress with his eyes its waters, sometimes calm, sometimes foaming and turbulent. A stranger who is not familiar with the habitant of our country, and who imagines that there is an affinity to his ancestor—the peasant of old France—is much mistaken. More enlightened, and, above all, more religious, he is far from sharing his precarious condition. The former is, in comparison, a veritable prince; perfectly independent on his sixty or eighty arpents of land, surrounded by a cedar enclosure, he is furnished with everything necessary for an honest and comfortable subsistence.

Let us now peep under this roof, whose exterior is so attractive. I should like to sketch it just as I’ve seen it so frequently. On entering the tambour, or passage-way, two pails of fresh water, standing on a wooden bench, and a tin cup hanging against the wall, hospitably invite you to quench your thirst. In an inner room the mother of the family is quietly spinning near the window, while the soup is boiling on the stove. A calico cape, a blue skirt of domestic manufacture, a caline[40] neatly fixed on her head, completes her toilet. The baby sleeps in its cradle at her side; from time to time she smiles at its bright little face, as fresh as a rose, peeping out from the quilt, whose triangular patches of the brightest colors are ingeniously distributed over it. In a corner of the room the eldest daughter sits on a chest, singing merrily, while she works at her loom; quickly and skilfully the shuttle flies between her hands; she makes in a day several measures of cloth, which she will use next year to make into garments. In another corner stands the huge bed, with its white and blue counterpane, and at its head a crucifix surrounded with pictures. That little branch of withered fir above the cross is the blessed palm. Two or three barefooted little urchins are playing on the floor, harnessing up a dog. The father, bending over the stove, gravely lights his pipe with a[107] firebrand. He is accoutred in a red woollen cap, vest and pants of a grayish material, and rough, heavy boots. After each meal he must “take a smoke” before going out to plough or to thresh in the barn. There is an air of thrift and comfort about the house; the voices of the children, the songs of the young girl, with her spinning-wheel accompaniment, the appearance of health and happiness written on their faces, tell of the peace and serenity of their lives.

If ever, in travelling through this country, you are overtaken by a snowstorm or severe cold, go and knock without fear at the door of the Canadian cottager, and you will be received with that warmth and cordiality which their ancestors have transmitted to them as a souvenir and a relic of the Old Country; for this antique French hospitality, which can scarcely be found now in certain parts of France, seems to have taken refuge under the roof of the Canadian habitant. With his language and religion, he has piously preserved many of his old habits and customs. The traveller who rested under his roof a century ago would to-day find the same manners and characteristics.

It is in the parish of the Rivière Ouelle, in the bosom of one of these good Canadian families, that we find again our missionary and his companions. All the family, eager to hear the extraordinary adventures of the young officer, had gathered round him. He was a young man, from twenty to twenty-five years of age, with fine, delicate features; his dark wavy hair fell over and partially shaded his high forehead, and his proud glance revealed the loyalty of the French soldier; but an extreme pallor, consequent on the fatigue and privations he had undergone, had left a touching and melancholy expression on his face, while his refined and finished manners told of an equally finished and careful education.


“More than a month ago,” said the young officer, “I left the country of the Abnakis, accompanied by my father, a soldier, and an Indian guide. We were bearing very important dispatches to the governor of the colony. We travelled along through the forest for several days without any accident, when, one evening, overcome with fatigue, we lit a fire and camped for the night near an Indian cemetery. According to the custom of the savages, every corpse was wrapped in a shroud of coarse bark, and placed high above the ground on four stakes. Bows and arrows, tomahawks, and some ears of maize were hung against these rude graves, and shook and rattled as the wind passed over them. Our own savage was seated just in front of me, on the half-decayed trunk of a pine-tree that had fallen to the ground, and seemed half buried in profound meditation. The fitful flames of the fire threw a weird light over his gigantic frame. An Indian might readily have compared him to one of the superb maples of our forest, had he been able at the same time to have united with it the cunning of the serpent and the agility of the elk. His height was increased by a quantity of black, red, and white feathers tied with his hair on the top of his head. His ferocious features, piercing black eyes, his tomahawk and long knife, half concealed by the trophy of scalps which hung from his belt, gave him a wild and sanguinary appearance. The night was dark and bitter cold. The low and unequal arch formed by the[108] interlacing branches of the trees, and illuminated by the flickering light of our pine-wood fire, seemed like a vast cavern, and the old trunks of the rotten trees, which were buried in the snow, looked like the corpses of giants strewn around. The birches, covered with their white bark, seemed like wandering phantoms in the midst of this débris, and the dull rumbling of the distant torrent, and the wind moaning and whistling through the leafless branches, completed the weird funereal aspect of the place. Any one slightly superstitious could easily believe he heard the sighing spirits of the Indian warriors who lay buried so near us. In spite of myself, a shiver of horror ran through my veins. Here, in the midst of all this grim rubbish, where every rock and tree was transformed by the shadows into as many spectres watching his movements; our audacious savage appeared as grave and tranquil as if he had been in his own cabin.

“‘Comrade,’ said I to him, ‘do you think we need fear any danger still from those Iroquois whose trail we discovered yesterday?’

“‘Has my brother already forgotten that we found it again this morning?’

“‘But there were only two,’ said I.

“‘ Yes; but an Iroquois can very quickly communicate with his comrades.’

“‘But these were not on the war-path; they were hunting an elk.’

“‘Yes; but the snow is deep, and they could soon kill him without much fatigue, and then—’


“‘And then, their hunger once satisfied—’


“‘I say they might, perhaps, amuse themselves by hunting the whiteskins.’

“‘But the whites are at peace with the Iroquois.’

“‘The Iroquois never bury but half of the war-hatchet; and, besides, they have raised the tomahawk against the warriors of my tribe, and if they discover the track of an Abnakis among yours—’

“‘You think, then, that they might pursue us? Perhaps it would be more prudent to extinguish our fire.’

“‘Does not my brother hear the howling of the wolves? If he prefers being devoured by them to receiving the arrow of an Iroquois, he can extinguish it.’

“The words of our guide were not very reassuring, but I was so overcome with fatigue that, in spite of the evident danger to which we were exposed, I fell asleep. But my sleep was filled with the wildest dreams. The dark shadow of our guide, that I saw as I went to sleep, seemed to lengthen and rise behind him, black and threatening, like a spectre. The dead in the cemetery, shaking the snow from their shrouds of bark, descended from their sepulchres, and bent towards me. I fancied I heard the gritting of their teeth as the wind rushed through the trees and the dry branches cracked and snapped. I awoke with a start. Our guide, leaning against a post of one of the graves, was still before me, and from his heavy and regular breathing I knew that he slept profoundly. I fancied I saw just above him, peeping over the grave against which he was leaning, a dark form and two fixed and flaming eyes. My imagination is excited by my fantastic dreams, thought I, and tried to compose myself to sleep again. I remained a long time with my eyes half shut, in that state of semi-somnolence, half watching, half sleeping, my stupefied faculties scarcely able to discern the objects around. And yet the dark[109] shadow seemed to move slightly, and to lean more and more towards our savage, who was still in a deep sleep. At that moment the fire suddenly blazed up, and I saw distinctly the figure of an Indian. He held a long knife between his teeth, and, with dilated eyes fixed on his enemy, he approached still nearer to assure himself that he slept. Then a diabolical smile lit up his face, and, seizing his knife, he brandished it an instant in aiming a blow at the heart of his victim. The blade flashed in the firelight. At the same moment a terrible cry rang out, and the two savages rolled together in the snow. The flash of the steel, in awakening our guide, had also betrayed his enemy. Thus my horrible nightmare terminated in a more horrible reality. I had hastily seized my gun, but dared not fire, lest I should kill or wound our guide. It was a death-fight between them. The snow, streaked with blood, blew up around them like a cloud of dust. A hatchet glittered in the air, then a dull, heavy sound, followed by the cracking of bones. The victory was decided. A gurgling sound escaped from the victim—it was the death-rattle! Holding in one hand a bloody scalp, the conqueror, with a smile, raised himself proudly. At that instant a shot was heard. A ball struck him in the breast, and our savage, for it was he, fell dead in front of the fire. Taking aim with my gun, and sending a ball in the direction whence the shot had come, and where I saw another shadow gliding among the trees, was for me the work of an instant. The Indian, with a terrible death-cry, described an arch in the air with his body, and fell dead to the ground. The tragedy was finished; our savage was avenged, but we had no longer a guide. I then thought of our conversation that evening, and how his apprehensions of the two savages whom we had tracked in the morning had been so fearfully realized.”


“Abandoned, without a guide, in the midst of interminable forests, we were in a state of extreme perplexity. We hesitated a long time whether to proceed on our route or retrace our steps. The danger of falling into the hands of the Iroquois, who infested that part of the country, decided us to continue our journey.

“The only means left of finding our way was a little compass which my father had fortunately brought along. Several days later found us still on our painful march, in the midst of a violent snowstorm. It was a veritable tempest; the snow fell so thick and fast we could scarcely see two feet in advance.

“In every direction we heard the trees splitting and falling to the ground. We were in great danger of being crushed. My father was struck by a branch, which completely buried him under the snow, and we had great difficulty in extricating him. When we raised him up, he found that the chain around his neck which held the compass was broken, and the compass had disappeared. We searched long and carefully, but in vain—it could not be found. In falling, my father received a severe injury on the head. While dressing the wound, which bled freely, I could not restrain my tears on seeing this old man, with his white hair, enduring intense suffering with so much fortitude, and displaying such calmness in the midst of an agony which he tried to conceal from me by an outward show of confidence. ‘My son,’ said he, when he saw my tears, ‘remember that you are a soldier. If death comes, it will find us on the roll of honor. It is well to die a[110] martyr to duty; besides, nothing happens except by the will of God. Let us submit at once with courage and resignation to whatever he pleases to send.’

“We marched two days longer in an intense cold, and then my father could go no further. The cold had poisoned the wound in his head, and a violent fever came on. To crown our misfortunes, our little store of matches had become damp, and it was impossible to kindle a fire. Then all hope abandoned me, and, not having been able to kill any game for the past day or two, we had been almost entirely without food; then, in spite of all my warning and advice, the soldier who accompanied us, exhausted by fatigue and hunger, and utterly discouraged, went to sleep in the snow, and, when I found him some time after, he was dead—frozen stiff! Overcome by the most inexpressible grief, I remained on my knees by the side of my dying father. Several times he besought me to abandon him, and escape death. When he felt his last hour approaching, he said, handing me an Imitation of Christ which he held in his hand, ‘My son, read to me.’ I took the book, and opened it at chance, reading between my sobs: ‘Make now friends near God, in order that, after leaving this life, they will receive you in the eternal tabernacles.’[41] ‘Conduct yourself on earth as a traveller and a stranger who has no interest in the affairs of the world. Keep your heart free and raised toward God, because here below you have no substantial dwelling-place. You should address to heaven every day your prayers, your sighs, and your tears, in order that, after this life, your soul will be able to pass happily into the bosom of our Lord.’

“I replaced the book in his hand. A smile of immortal hope passed over his countenance, for these lines were a résumé of his entire life. After a moment’s silence, he said: ‘My son, when I shall be no more, take this little gold cross which hangs around my neck, and which was given to me by your mother on the day of your birth’—there was a moment’s silence. A shade of profound sadness passed over his face, and, taking my two hands in his, he added, ‘Your poor mother!—oh! if you live to see her again, tell her I died thinking of God and of her.’ Then, making a supreme effort to put aside this painful thought, at which he feared his courage might fail him, he continued: ‘Always wear this little cross in remembrance of your father. It will teach you to be faithful to your God, and to your country. Come nearer, my son, that I may bless you, for I feel that I am dying.’ And with his faltering hand he made the sign of the cross on my forehead.”

At these words the young man stopped. Large tears rolled down his cheeks as he pressed to his lips the little gold cross which hung on his breast. All around him remained silent, in respect to his noble grief, but their tears flowed with his. Sorrow is so touching in youth! We cannot see, without a pang, the bright flowers which adorn it wither and fade away. The missionary was the first to break the silence. “My son,” said he, addressing the young man, “your tears are legitimate, for the cherished being for whom you weep is worthy of them; but do not weep as those who have no hope. He whom you have lost now enjoys on high the recompense promised to a life devoted to sacrifice and duty.”

“But, oh! my father, if only you could have been with him to console his last moments!”


After a pause, he continued: “I pressed my father for the last time in my arms, and imprinted a last kiss on his pale, cold forehead. I thought at this moment he was dying. He remained immovable, his eyes turned towards heaven, when suddenly, as if by inspiration from above, he said, ‘I wish you to make a vow that, if you succeed in escaping with your life, you will place a picture in the first church which you reach on the road.’ I promised to do as he desired. Some moments after, a few vague and incoherent words escaped his lips, and all was over.”

VI.—The Vision.

“How long I remained on my knees beside my father’s corpse I cannot tell. I was so utterly overwhelmed by grief and sorrow that I was plunged in a kind of lethargy which rendered my soul insensible to everything. Death, the loneliness of the forest, terrified me no longer; for solitude dwelt in my heart, where so short a time before all was bright and joyous. Dreams, illusions—those flowers of life that I have seen fall leaf by leaf, to be swept away by the storm; glory, happiness, the future—those angels of the heart who so lately entranced my soul with their mysterious music, had all departed, veiling with their drooping wings their sorrowful faces. All had gone—all. Nothing remained but a void, a horrible nothingness. But one feeble star watched yet in the midst of my night. The faint lamp of the inner sanctuary was not entirely extinguished; there came a ray from its expiring flame. Remembering the vow that my dying father had desired me to make, I invoked with a sort of desperation the Blessed Virgin, Comfortress of the Afflicted; and behold, suddenly—but can I tell what took place within me? Human words are inadequate to unveil the mysteries of God. I cannot explain, human ears cannot comprehend—yes, suddenly, in the midst of my darkness, my soul trembled, and a something seemed to pass through me like an impetuous wind, and my soul was carried over the troubled waters; then, rapid as the lightning that flashes through the storm-cloud, a light appeared in the darkness, in this chaos—a dazzling, superhuman light—and the tempest was appeased within me; a wondrous calm had entered my soul, and the divine light penetrated its most remote recesses and imparted a delicious tranquillity and peace, but such a peace as surpasses all comprehension; and through my closed eyelids I saw that a great light was before me. O my God! dare I tell what happened then? Would it not be profane to weaken thus the marvels of your power! I felt that something extraordinary, something supernatural, was taking place around me, and a mysterious emotion, a holy terror, that every mortal should feel at the approach of a Divine Being seized me. Like Moses, my soul said within me, ‘I will go and I will see this grand vision’; and my eyes opened, and I saw—it was not a dream—it was a reality, a miracle, from the right hand of the Most High. No; the eye of man has never seen, nor his ear heard, what was permitted that I should see and hear then. In the midst of a cloud of dazzling light, the Queen of heaven appeared, holding in her arms the divine Child. The ineffable splendor that enveloped her form was so brilliant that in comparison the sun is only a dim star; but this brilliancy, far from fatiguing the sight, refreshed it deliciously. Twelve stars formed her crown, the colors of the rainbow tinged her robes, while under[112] her feet were clouds which reflected the colors of aurora and the setting sun, and behind their golden fringing myriads of angels were smiling and singing hymns which have no echo here below. And what I saw and heard was so real that all that I had heard and seen heretofore seemed like a vague, dark dream of night. The divine Virgin looked at me with an immortal smile, which was reflected no doubt from the lips of her divine Child on the day of his birth.

“She said to me: ‘Here I am, my son. I come because you called me. The help that I sent you is very near. Remember, my son—’ But, oh! what was I going to say! I am only permitted to reveal a few words of this celestial conversation, which relate to my deliverance. The rest is a secret between God and myself—sufficient to say these words have fixed my destiny.

“For a long time she spoke to me, and my soul, ravished, absorbed, transfigured, listened in unspeakable ecstasy to the divine harmony of her voice. It will vibrate eternally in my soul, and the torrents of tears that poured from my eyes were as refreshing as dear to my heart. At last the mysterious vision gradually vanished. Clouds, figures, angels, light, all had disappeared, and yet my soul invoked the celestial vision by ineffable sighs and moans.

“When at last I turned round, the help which had been miraculously promised to me had arrived. ‘Twas then, reverend father, that I perceived you near me. You know the rest.”

The next day there was great excitement among the little population of the neighborhood. The news of the miracle had spread rapidly, and a pious and devout crowd had gathered in the modest little church to assist at a solemn Mass celebrated by the holy missionary. More than one pitying look was turned during the ceremony toward the young officer, who knelt near the sanctuary, praying with an angelic fervor.

It is said that some time after, in another country, far, far beyond the sea, a young officer who had miraculously escaped death abandoned a brilliant future, and consecrated himself to God in a cloister. Was it he? No one has ever known positively.

If ever you pass by the old church of the Rivière Ouelle, don’t forget to stop a moment. You will see hanging in one of the side-chapels the antique ex-voto which recalls the souvenir of this miraculous event. The picture has no intrinsic value; but it is an old, old relic, that one loves to see, for it tells a thrilling story. Often travellers who come from distant lands stop before this dusty old picture, struck by the strange scene it represents. Oftentimes pious mothers stand before it with their little ones, and relate to them the wondrous legend; for the souvenir of this thrilling story is still vivid throughout the country.



The Palais Royal derives its chief historical interest from its association with the memory of Cardinal Richelieu. When it first attracted his notice by its situation, at once delightful and convenient, surrounded by richly planted gardens, and close to the Louvre and the then fashionable thoroughfare of the city, it was the property and residence of the Marquis d’Estrée. From this nobleman Richelieu purchased it in 1624. Soon, however, the elegant mansion, which had been abundantly spacious for the lords of d’Estrée with their innumerable retainers and long corteges of valets of every degree in the lengthy domestic hierarchy of those days, became too small for the growing importance of Louis XIII.’s magnificent minister.

Richelieu fell a conquest to the building and decorating mania prevalent at that period amongst princes and princely prelates; he threw down the walls of the Hôtel d’Estrée at the north end, pushed the house into the gardens, drove the gardens further out into the open space beyond, and pierced a way through into the street which was henceforth to be honored by bearing his name. Philippe of Champagne was invited to paint the ceilings and decorate the walls of the stupendous eminence whose cipher gleamed over all the doors, sometimes engrained in gold letters upon marble, sometimes curiously interlaced with emblematic figures, or emblazoned in the Richelieu arms. When all was complete, it was necessary to rechristen the dwelling which had been so enlarged and renovated as to be virtually a new edifice—the mansion which had been metamorphosed into a palace. After much serious consultation, and many times changing his mind, Richelieu decided that it should be called Palais Cardinal. A slab bearing these two words in large gold letters was accordingly placed over the gates of the ci-devant Hôtel d’Estrée. The next morning all Paris beheld it, and burst out laughing. The beaux-esprits of the sarcastic capital, with Balzac at their head, rushed in a body to the square in front of the new palace, and woke the echoes of the sleeping aristocratic gardens with their uproarious mirth; there they stood, armed with grammars, lexicons of divers tongues, and pens and portfolios, discussing with much solemnity the two inoffensive nouns on the marble slab; every now and then a wag from the crowd raising shouts of laughter by some ludicrous explanation of his own. Presently the gates were swung apart, and out drove the cardinal, and beheld the spectacle, so eminently gratifying to his sensitive pride, of “all Paris laughing at him.”

The scoffers gathered round his equipage, books and pen in hand, imploring him to enlighten their ignorance from the depths of his unfathomable erudition; how were they to parse the name of his eminence’s house? Palais and Cardinal—it was most perplexing to their weak intelligence. The conjunction was a turning upside down of all established rules—a topsy-turvy of principles and of all known precedents.

Separately, the two nouns were comprehensible, but joined together, what were they? Was it, mayhap, Greek or Latin construction, or was[114] it taken from the legends of old Gaul French, or a specimen of some new and unknown tongue evolved from the universal genius of the minister? Richelieu, writhing under the pitiless hilarity of the tormentors, lent a deaf ear to them, and rode forth in scornful taciturnity; petitions from imaginary savants, who professed to be laboring in the mazes of a new grammar, flowed in the following days upon the unlucky author of the ungrammatical inscription, beseeching him to let the ignorant world into the secret of its proper parsing; the enemies of the cardinal, in fact, made capital out of his vanity to their heart’s content, but Richelieu’s pride was a match for them. The only answer he condescended to make was to point to the inscription over the Hôtel Dieu. The precedent was no doubt unanswerable; but vanity remained, nevertheless, more prominent in the imitation than either sense or grammar. It held its place, however, in spite of all attempts to laugh it down. The splendors of the Palais Cardinal have been enlarged upon in most of the memoirs and chronicles of that time. Richelieu, while busy making and mending quarrels between the king and the queen-mother, Marie de Medicis, governing France, and pulling the strings of all the governments of Europe, found time to devote to his hobby of enriching and beautifying his palace, overseeing in its most minute details the architectural part of the work, and directing the research after objects of art far and near for its adornment. While he was thus variously occupied, a knot of literary men were in the habit of meeting quietly once a week close to his palace gates, to read aloud their own works, and discuss the state of letters, whose horizon was just then beginning to brighten under the rising sun of the great Corneille. The meetings were held at the house of one of the circle; they were quite unostentatious, and aspired to no notoriety beyond their own circle; the members sought only to encourage each other by honest criticism, and by the emulation that comes of working in common towards a common end. Soon, however, these weekly gatherings became talked about; courtiers heard of them, and begged to be allowed to assist at them. By-and-by Richelieu came to hear of them; his curiosity was excited, first from a political point of view—he feared the so-called réunions littéraires might be a covert for something more dangerous; he was not slow, however, to find out his mistake, and to detect in the modest literary club a germ of future greatness; he expressed his desire that the meetings should be held henceforth at the Palais Cardinal, and under his immediate auspices. The members protested; they were not worthy of so distinguished an honor, etc.; but Richelieu assured them that he saw in their modest labors the promised fulfilment of his long-cherished desire “to raise the French language from the ranks of barbarous tongues, and to cleanse it from the impurities which it had contracted in the mouth of the people and on the lips of courtiers.” The little band of writers yielded reluctantly to the pompous summons so flatteringly sent forth against their independence, and the Académie Française was founded. Louis XIII. gave it letters-patent, and became its chief patron, while Richelieu was named President. The number of academicians was limited to forty. Amongst the great and gifted men who figure at the birth of this modern Areopagus, destined to be glorified in its after-career by so many brilliant members, Pierre[115] Corneille stands out conspicuous. The young poet found in Richelieu a kind and munificent patron, until he had the ill-luck to wound his vanity in one of its most vulnerable points. Not content with being a potentate, a warrior, a financier, and innumerable other things besides, the insatiable cardinal aspired to being a poet—a disastrous form of ambition which gave a cruel handle to his enemies, and furnished them with many a shaft of ridicule wherewith to pierce his thin-skinned susceptibilities. Richelieu, however, pursued his way in serene self-confidence, despising the ignorance and jealousy of the vulgar herd, and periodically bringing forth the offspring of his genius in the shape of plays and poems. One set of verses with which he was particularly satisfied he handed in MS. to Corneille, desiring to secure his approval before launching them on the sea of public criticism, and modestly requesting the young poet to overlook them and make any alteration that he thought advisable. Corneille had not graduated long enough in the school of courtiers to know what this flattering request was worth, so he set about complying with it conscientiously, pruning and altering with his fine critical pen as it ran along the course of the ministerial poem. Richelieu’s amazement on beholding his masterpiece thus audaciously overhauled was only equalled by his indignation. Corneille, instead of falling on his knees and crying peccavi when he saw his mistake, proceeded with infantine naïveté to argue the case with the wrathful poet, and prove to him that every correction had been called for by some glaring fault. This did not mend matters. Such insane honesty met with the fate it deserved—the fate that from time immemorial it has met with in similar circumstances. The scene between Gil Blas and the bishop was enacted in the library of the Palais Cardinal between Corneille and Richelieu, and certainly Gil Bias was not more astonished by the effect of his candid criticism on the bishop’s long-winded sermon than was the young academician by the thunderbolt which fell from his patron’s brow on perusing his MS. revised and corrected. He was dismissed peremptorily, and withdrew cursing his own stupidity, and vowing that never again would he be entrapped into the folly of believing in the common sense of a patron. Shortly after this mishap, while wandering about in listless pursuit of an object at Rouen, his native place, he fell in accidentally with a gentleman who had read his first poetic efforts, and discerned through their faults and trammels the promise of true genius that lay beneath. “Why do you waste and hamper your talent in the threadbare conventionalities of French art?” inquired M. de Chalan. “You want a higher and a wider scope; read Guillen de Castro, and there you will find a subject worthy of you, and which will bring out your powers with a fire and force unsuspected by yourself.”

“Unfortunately, I am not acquainted with Spanish,” replied the young man.

“But I am,” returned M. de Chalan, “and, if you like, I will teach it to you.”

Corneille, having nothing else to do, accepted the proposal, and to this chance circumstance the world apparently owes The Cid. That masterly composition came upon the dramatic world of France—hitherto fed on threadbare conventionalities, as de Chalan had well said—like a revelation, and raised such a tempest of senseless vituperation and malignant[116] opposition as has no parallel in the history of literary cyclones. Richelieu, who was far too good a judge not to see the rare merits of the poem, had not the magnanimity to proclaim his opinion, and thus quell the storm, but fell in with the rioters, and was one of the loudest in crying down the new tragedy. He could not forgive the young poet who, without his patronage, nay, in spite of his own disgrace, had succeeded in climbing to the topmost round of the ladder. Corneille’s star rose steady and clear above the stormy waters, and he lived to see it shine out in glorious lustre through the clouds of envy and hostile criticism. His career was one of unparalleled triumph, till the appearance of his last work, Pertharite, written in 1653. It was played on the boards of the Palais Cardinal theatre, that had echoed to so many of his previous triumphs, and was received with a coldness that was equivalent to condemnation. Corneille saw in this isolated defeat the ruin of his poetic fame; he became possessed by a morbid despair, flung away his lyre, and gave up the theatre in disgust. During the interval of depression that followed this fancied humiliation, he devoted himself to the translation of Thomas à Kempis’ The Imitation of Christ, sacrificing, as he said himself, “his own reputation to the glory of a sovereign author.”

The Palais Cardinal, during Richelieu’s multifarious reign, was the theatre of many boisterous scenes, dark intrigues, and events otherwise important than these literary skirmishes that occasionally engage the thoughts of ambitious statesmen. Its propinquity to the Louvre enabled him to keep his lynx eyes on the busy hive of friends, foes, and tools who gathered round the king; to frustrate the petty plots of courtiers; and forestall the schemes of faction by his ubiquitous presence. Nor are comic chapters lacking in the annals of the Palais Cardinal at this period. One related by the sprightly Duchesse de Chevreuse, in a letter to Mme. de Motteville, is grotesque enough to be worth recording, as characteristic of the cardinal and the court. Richelieu, it was said, had dared to raise his eyes to the queen, then in the full bloom of her youth and beauty. As might be expected, the unwarrantable presumption inspired Anne of Austria with no gentler feeling than contempt, not unmixed with disgust. She gathered up her purple robes, as she might have done at the touch of a viper, and shook them, and passed on with a shudder and a shrug. But her volatile friend, Mme. de Chevreuse, whose rôle was fun at any price, thought the cardinal’s love too good a joke not to be turned to account. She proposed playing him a trick which would have the double advantage of giving herself and her royal mistress an hour’s good fun, and of making Richelieu, whom she hated with a woman’s inventive hate, appear thoroughly ridiculous. “Let me tell him from myself,” she entreated, “that your majesty is only inexorable because you do not believe in the sincerity of his love; but that, if he can give you proof of it, you are open to conviction. I will propose that he come here by the private way, dressed as a harlequin, and dance the saraband before you one of these evenings, assuring him, if he does this, you will believe in the reality of his protestations.” Anne was young, her life had not much sunshine in its splendor, and the demon of frolic which so madly possessed her friend was not without its power over her. She consented that the outrageous joke should be played[117] off on her gloomy swain. The duchess accordingly informed him that the queen was passionately fond of the saraband, and had often expressed a desire to see it danced by one whose dignified deportment and elastic figure were so admirably adapted to bring out the peculiar characteristics of the spirited and stately dance, and that nothing would gratify and flatter her more than to see his eminence yield to this fancy. It was necessary, she added, that he should be dressed as a harlequin, in order to bring out in all their perfection the picturesque points of the dance. Richelieu bit at this outlandish bait, and it was agreed on a given night he would roam to the Louvre, and disport himself in the aforesaid manner for the edification of the queen, he being alone in one room, while her majesty looked on at the performance from behind a screen in an adjoining one; a musician, concealed also from view, was to accompany the performance on the violin. The duchess, who had not bargained for her own share in the sport, took care not to be deprived of it, but stood beside the queen, peeping through the screen, while the haughty statesman, bedizened in the variegated costume of harlequin, “with bells on his fingers, and bells on his toes,” and jingling from his comical fool’s cap, tripped it on the light fantastic toe. Mme. de Chevreuse describes the scene with the mischievous glee of a schoolboy: herself and the queen squeezing each other’s hands, and terrified lest one explosive burst should betray them and suddenly cut short the performance; the musician convulsed in another corner, scratching away frantically at his fiddle to drown the irrepressible laughter of the trio; while Richelieu, the proud, the grave, the vindictive and all-powerful Richelieu, capered backwards and forwards on the polished floor, snapping his fingers at each rapid pirouette, stamping his heel and pointing his toe as the figures of the saraband demanded. The performance over, he donned his cloak, and made his way back discreetly to the Palais Cardinal. No time was lost in recapitulating the farce to the court, and the merriment that it provoked may be readily imagined. But who might laugh with impunity at Richelieu? The true motive of the unseemly burlesque to which he had lent himself was soon made known to the hero, and terrible was the vengeance that awaited its authors. He bided awhile, and then began that series of calumnies and persecutions that poisoned so many years of the young queen’s life. Richelieu had insinuated himself into the confidence of Louis XIII., and his influence over him was boundless. This tremendous weapon he used against the queen with cruel ingenuity. He contrived to implicate her in the odious and diabolical conspiracy of the arch-traitor de Chalais; accused her of having plotted to dethrone and murder the king, with a view to putting Gaston d’Orléans, his brother, on the throne, and marrying him. When Louis XIII. brutally challenged his wife to vindicate herself from the twofold criminal charge, she replied, with spirituelle disdain: “I had too little to gain by the exchange.” It is more than probable that Louis never seriously suspected Anne of Austria of having had any share in the guilt laid to her charge by Richelieu; but the calumny did its work efficiently in another way: it cut at the root of her affection for her husband and of his trust in her—it chilled and alienated them for years. The Duchesse de Chevreuse, accused, with some show of[118] truth, of having conspired with Gaston d’Orléans to dethrone the king, was exiled from France. Richelieu followed up the advantage of his first attack by accusing the queen of keeping up a correspondence with the enemies of the state. Anne, too proud to justify herself, imprudently paraded her contempt for Richelieu’s malevolent intrigues by openly and on every occasion showing her love for her own family, at that time at war with France; expressions full of the warmth of natural affection were made a handle of by her enemies, construed into treason against the king and the state. The birth of Louis XIV. (1638) brought about a partial reconciliation between her and the husband who had insulted and treated her with systematic neglect. But Richelieu’s sway remained unshaken to the end. It was entirely an intellectual sway; the heart had no share in it on either side. The minister hated the king, and the king hated the minister; their natures were essentially antagonistic, and mutual interest alone held them together. Louis, hearing that he was about to be freed from the bondage under which he had chafed so long—that the summons had come for Richelieu—went in haste to the Palais Cardinal to receive the adieux of the dying minister. The interview between them was short and utterly devoid of pathos; no shade of tenderness had entered into the bond that was about to be dissolved. The breaking up of it was simply a matter of business. The king left the death-chamber of the man to whom he owed all the glory of his reign, without a tear in his eye or a passing emotion in his heart, and paced the adjoining room with a steady step and satisfied air, while a smile, amounting at intervals to a suppressed laugh, was visible on his features. When all was over, and the signal came forth that Richelieu was no more, he exclaimed tranquilly: “Voilà un grand politique de mort![42] (1642.) A few months later, he himself had joined the great politician in another world.

Richelieu, whose more than royal munificence of state had roused the jealous susceptibilities of the king, atoned for it by bequeathing his beautiful palace, with its accumulated treasures of art and industry, to his unthankful master. Anne of Austria inaugurated her reign as regent by taking up her abode under the roof of the man who had been to the last day of his life her implacable enemy. Immediately after the death of Louis XIII., she came to the Palais Cardinal with the little king and his brother, the Duc d’Anjou. The theatre on which Richelieu had lavished so much taste and wealth was included in the bequest, though he had often expressed his intention of presenting it to the nation, and endowing it for the benefit of rising dramatic artists.

Notwithstanding that Anne of Austria had good reason to execrate the cardinal for his injustice and malignity to herself personally, she did full honor to his merits as a statesman; and years after his death, when at the zenith of her popularity as regent, she said once, looking up at a portrait of Richelieu which hung in the state-saloon of the Palais Cardinal: “Were that man alive now, he would be more powerful than ever.” It was a generous and exhaustive tribute to the memory of those services which had consolidated the monarchy in France, and made her own position what it was.

The name of Palais Cardinal, which, despite its equivocal grammar, was appropriate while Richelieu inhabited it, ceased to be so when it[119] passed into the possession of the crown. Anne was advised to change it, but refused to do so, at the solicitation of the Duchesse d’Aiguillon, who besought her to retain a name which so honorably associated Richelieu with the glorious reign of Louis XIII. Public opinion, however, prevailed before long, and the palace was henceforth by common consent designated as the Palais Royal. With its new name began a new era in its annals.

Anne has been compared by some of her admirers and biographers to Blanche of Castille; but, while rendering full justice to the queenly qualities of the Austro-Spanish regent, we own that the comparison strikes us as being suggested rather by their circumstances than by the characters of the two queen-mothers who each played so remarkable a part in the history of their epochs. Blanche of Castille made it her first and paramount ambition to render her son worthy of that imperishable crown which awaited him in the Kingdom that is not of this world: Anne of Austria aimed at securing for hers the supremacy of earthly glory—at making him a great and powerful king. In each case, as it mostly happens, the omnipotent mother’s will worked out its own ideal. The minority of the future Grand Monarque opened in troubled times; the elements of the Fronde were fermenting deep down under the apparently smooth surface, and the fêtes, and masquerades, and merry-making with which the regent celebrated her tardy accession to sovereign power were soon followed by more exciting events. Mazarin had succeeded to Richelieu—oily, pliant Mazarin, so zealous in his endeavors to keep well with all parties; flattering the ambitious hopes of Gaston d’Orléans, and laying himself out with elaborate zeal to please the regent and secure her confidence; yielding outwardly, with alluring grace, to every caprice of her soft despotic sway; and pulling dexterously the complicated strings of the malcontents, Condé, and Conti, and Longueville, and many other illustrious personages who chafed uneasily under the sceptre of the foreigner; benevolent and outspoken, but irreclaimably despotic. Mazarin, in his desire to please all parties whom it was of use to propitiate, and make money plentiful where it was needed for his purposes, had gone on taxing till he raised the devil in the then much enduring people. Everything was ready for an outbreak. The Te Deum after the victory of Lens gave the signal for it. It was a burning day in August, in the year 1648. The city had turned out to join in the jubilee, and, amidst the inspiriting chorus of trumpets, and cannons, and bells that sent exulting chimes from many belfries, such small matters as hunger and empty hearths and misery in its multiform moods and tenses were forgotten for a moment. But it needed only a touch to rouse the sleeping furies in the hearts of the hungry, rejoicing crowd. Broussel was seized by the troops, who had just played their part in the gay thanksgiving, and carried off to prison—Broussel, the venerable magistrate, the people’s sturdy friend; who had fought their battles over and over again against mighty Mazarin himself; who had stood by them and upheld their rights in the teeth of the foreign queen and her foreign minister; Broussel, whom the people called notre père—were they going to see him seized by soldiers, and carried off before their eyes? No; they would stand by him as he had stood by them. The last notes of the Te Deum were still ringing over the city, when up leaped the shouts of[120] revolution and the cry “To arms!” and chased away their holy echoes. The mob surrounded the carriage in which Broussel was placed, guarded on all sides by armed men; they were beaten back and trodden down; the people returned to the charge undaunted, and finally bore down on the Palais Royal, vociferating unmannerly threats, and demanding Broussel: “Give us Broussel, or we will burn down your house about you!”—pleasant sounds for the queen to hear beneath her windows! Anne of Austria had not foreseen this bursting up of the vulgar depths over which she had hitherto ridden in safe and scornful unconcern; nor, in all probability, had Mazarin. He was with the queen in that sumptuous apartment called the queen’s boudoir, whose one broad window, mounted in a frame of massive silver wrought like a brooch, looked out upon the court; the regent paced the room in feverish excitement, her face flushed, her hands, alternately crossed on her breast with an air of stern resolve, moving in the animated and expressive play that was familiar to her; every now and then she would stand in the embrasure of the rich and cunningly carved window, and cast a glance of mingled scorn and defiance on the vociferous rabble below. They catch sight of her, and greet her with ominous signs and gestures. They see in her cool courage a taunt that rouses them to desperation. All unarmed as they are, except with stones and sticks and such like unmilitary weapons, they are ready to give battle to her troops. At this crisis, when the Fronde was born, a young man named Gondi starts to the surface, shooting up from the dark horizon like a glittering rocket. He is endowed with that peculiar kind of alcoholic eloquence which appears to be in all climes and ages the apanage of demagogues. Gondi had already made himself conspicuous as a discontented spirit whom it would be well either to crush or to conciliate; and Mazarin would in all likelihood have adopted the latter plan but for the fact of his jealousy having been aroused by the queen’s kindly notice of the young firebrand; he foresaw a possible rival in Gondi’s ardor and talents, and forthwith decreed his ruin. Gondi was just now making himself popular by declaiming on the wrongs of the people, and denouncing the seizure of Broussel as iniquitous and tyrannical. There was some talk of sending a despatch to the regent to demand his release; Mazarin caught at this opportunity of lowering Gondi in the estimation of the queen by placing him in the position of a leader of the Fronde, so he sent word to him indirectly to come to the Palais Royal and present the people’s petition. Gondi, who saw in the mission an occasion for distinguishing himself with all parties, accepted it. He told the people that he undertook to ask, and pledged himself to obtain, the liberation of Broussel within an hour. They followed him with enthusiastic cheers to the Palais Royal, where he was admitted to the presence of the queen. She received him with flattering promptitude, unconscious of the motive of his visit. Anne was in no mood for compromises or concessions; the rebellious attitude of her subjects had steeled her heart for the moment against the demands of clemency, and when Gondi, announcing himself the bearer of the demands of the people, asked for the liberation of the magistrate, her anger broke out into violence: “Give up Broussel!” she cried, with a sardonic laugh, “I will strangle him first with my own hands!” And clenching those beautiful little hands that have been[121] sung by every poet of her day, she went close up to Gondi, and shook them in his face. The deputy, confounded, stood rooted to the spot, and uttered not a word; when Anne, abruptly turning away, said, with a quiet sarcasm the more chilling from its sudden contrast with her foregoing vehemence: “Go and rest, Monsieur de Gondi; you have worked hard.”

He left her presence, and carried his perplexity to Mazarin. But Mazarin, who had led him into the dilemma of playing false to the people and vexing the queen, coldly declined interfering, and bowed the unsuccessful diplomatist out. Gondi, betrayed and baffled, left the Palais Royal with an oath that the morrow would see him master of Paris. When a lad of eighteen, he had written an essay on the Conjuration de Fiesque, which drew from Richelieu the remark: “Voilà un esprit dangereux.[43] The day had come when the fiery young author was to fulfil this sagacious prophecy. The future Cardinal de Retz had entered the Palais Royal an ambitious courtier: he left it an infuriated frondeur. The next day Paris was bristling with barricades—its traditional mode of expressing its irritated feelings.

This day, famous as la journée des barricades, saw Mathieu Molé appear in one of the finest attitudes that have marked his noble and honorable career.

While still young, Molé had risen to the brilliant and perilous position of Premier Président du Parlement de Paris by the mere force of talent and rigid integrity of character; he had never courted the patronage of a minister, nor accepted a favor from one; he had lent no base compliance to Richelieu’s despotism or to Mazarin’s more captivating rule; he had remained the staunch friend of the heterodox Abbé de St. Cyran, holding faster by him in his disgrace and imprisonment than in the days of his transient popularity, persecuting Richelieu to obtain his pardon, dodging the inaccessible minister late and early, waylaying him in all possible and impossible places with the same persistent cry, “Give me back my friend St. Cyran,” till at last Richelieu, worn out with his importunity, seized the president by the arm one day, and said: “This M. Molé is a worthy magistrate, but the most obstinate pleader in France,” and gave him back his Abbé de St. Cyran. This was the man who was chosen to head a second embassy from the people to the Palais Royal. The regent was aware of his coming, and received him with cold civility; but her high spirit was slightly subdued since the preceding day; she had passed a sleepless night waiting for the events of the morrow, and was disposed to admit the possibility of coming to a compromise with her unruly citizens. Mathieu Molé was not an orator in the classical sense of the word, but he had that sort of eloquence that stirs the hearts of men. It achieved a victory, in the first place, over the angry mob by making them listen to reason and take a dispassionate view of their position, and now it gained an equally important one with the regent, inducing her to yield a reluctant consent to the liberation of Broussel. The barricades were lowered, and Paris gave a joyous welcome to its friend. But the blaze thus rashly kindled was not to be so quickly quenched. Anne of Austria eventually conquered both the Fronde and the less violent but equally dangerous pretensions of Mazarin, who, succumbing with a fairly good grace before the indomitable courage and inflexible firmness of the regent, renounced[122] the ambition of making her his tool, and was satisfied with being her right hand in governing the state. How high his ambition soared may be guessed from the following trait. Once, when conversing with Anne of Austria, emboldened by that gracious abandon of manner which made the haughty Spaniard so charming in her amiable moods, Mazarin alluded to the boyish passion of the king for his niece, Marie Mancini, and observed how deeply he would have deplored it had his majesty, yielding to the infatuation of the hour, committed the chivalrous folly of marrying her. Anne of Austria drew herself up with all the pride of her Castilian blood, and answered: “Had my son been capable of such an unworthiness, I should have placed myself with his brother at the head of the nation against him and against you.” The proud daughter of kings, who, by the strength of her solitary will, could govern a nation and cow the daring leaders of the Fronde, was in person as tender and delicate as a child; her health was fragile, and her skin so sensitive that it was difficult to find any cambric soft enough to clothe without hurting her. Mazarin, alluding once to this Sybarite delicacy of temperament, declared to the regent that her purgatory in the next world would be to sleep in Holland sheets. Yet, when Anne was attacked by the cruel malady which ended her days, no Roman matron could have endured it with greater fortitude. Her piety, which had guarded her youth through the alluring temptations of the court, despite the neglect and rudeness of a morose and heartless husband, sustained her in the protracted tortures of her last illness. Shortly before she expired, Louis XIV. was kneeling by the bedside of his mother, weeping bitterly, and covering her hand with his tears; she drew it gently away, and, looking for a moment at that hand which had been her chief woman’s vanity, she murmured: “They are beginning to swell; it is time to go!” Some historians have flippantly taxed Anne with having systematically kept her son in the background, and sacrificed him selfishly to the prolongation of her own power; but Louis’ passionate grief at her death, and his lifelong gratitude to the memory of his mother, sufficiently repudiate this charge. Louis XIV. never resided at the Palais Royal after her death; when necessity obliged him to remain in Paris, he occupied the Louvre.

The characters and careers of Richelieu and Mazarin furnish one of those points of comparison which history is so fond of. Richelieu was undeniably the more brilliant statesman of the two; he was endowed with greater originality and a larger breadth of view; he left a deeper impress on his time, and his remote action on France was more enduring; but if the achievement of peace be more valuable to a people than the prosecution of war, Mazarin has paramount claims on the gratitude of his country. The Treaty of Westphalia, and the Peace of the Pyrenees, are two monuments raised by Mazarin to his own fame that out-top all the dazzling trophies of his predecessors, and establish a nobler claim to the admiration of the civilized world than all Richelieu’s victorious accomplishments in war. Both statesmen were pre-eminently gifted with that power of reading men which is so serviceable an agent in the hands of those who are called to govern. It was this electric instinct which prompted Richelieu to single out Mazarin from the crowd as the man best fitted to be his successor—a choice which the young Italian justified by carrying[123] out with unswerving fixity of purpose the vast unfinished designs of the patron whom death had cut short in the midst of his work. Mazarin, on the other hand, gave a striking proof of this same subtle insight when he said of the young king, then a mere boy in his mother’s leading-strings, and as yet having done nothing to reveal the future grand monarch: “There is stuff enough in him to make four kings and one honest man.” Both ministers set their influence and power above the interest and authority of the sovereign; but both labored with unflinching steadiness of aim to raise the monarchy to a height of splendor it had never before reached, and was not destined long to retain. Both carried their soutane with more of martial dignity than priestly gravity—that soutane of which Richelieu boasted: “I mow down everything, I upset everything, and then I cover it all with my red soutane.” Both made it the business of their lives while at the head of the state to humble Austria and Spain, and both succeeded. The marriage of Louis XIV. with the Infanta of Spain was one of Mazarin’s most successful diplomatic acts; he foresaw in this union the probable succession of the Bourbons to the crown of Charles Quint. But alongside of his many services to his country, there is one act of his that goes far to annul them—this was his introduction of gambling into France. To this deplorable importation the Abbé St. Pierre traces, not perhaps without a shade of exaggeration, but with palpable logic, the rapid decadence of the national morals and character; he says that Mazarin inoculated the young king with the passion for games of hazard, in order to keep his mind aloof from things in which it became him better to be interested, and thereby to prevent his interference in the affairs of state; the regent, in her turn, became smitten with the novel mania, and would spend whole nights with her court playing cards. Mazarin himself was an incorrigible gambler, and often devoted to this passion the hours he should have given to sleep after his day’s arduous task. He was looked upon more as a player of doubtful honesty—“un joueur plus que suspect”; but “who allowed others in turn to cheat him, provided they did it cleverly,” St. Pierre tells us; and he goes on to say: “The young nobles, first at court, and then all over the country, followed his example, and took to card-playing; they forsook the athletic sports and manly amusements which had delighted their fathers, and gave themselves up to this enervating and ruinous passion; they became weaker, more ignorant, and less polished; women caught the fever, and grew to respect themselves less, and to be less respected.” Mazarin’s avarice was as insatiable as his ambition; he died colossally rich; but during his last illness, seized with remorse, he made over all his unjust gains to the king, who, of course, refused to accept them, and the cardinal then divided his vast wealth between Louis, the queen, Condé, Turenne, his friend Louis de Haro, and several members of his own family. He bequeathed a large sum for the foundation of a college, which he also endowed with his splendid library, recollected after its dispersion by the Frondeurs at immense trouble and expense. He wished this college to be called Collége des quatre nations, destining it chiefly for the education of young men belonging to the four provinces annexed to France during his ministry—Pignerol, Alsace, Roussillon, and Artois. Le Tellier, who was his executor, punctually obeyed all his instructions except the last-named. By[124] desire of the king, it was called Collége Mazarin, which was to become the magnificent Bibliothèque Royale of to-day.

Henrietta Maria of England occupied the Palais Royal in 1644. The marriage of her daughter Henrietta to Philip of Orleans, then Duc d’Anjou, was celebrated here with great pomp, and here the young princess held a brilliant court for a few years, while her mother dwelt in the cloistered retreat of Chaillot. The thread of this bright young life was suddenly snapped asunder. Bossuet’s “O night of horror!” came like a thunderbolt from a summer sky, scattering the volatile court, and spreading the news of its loss over the whole of France. Then came the Regency, which was to add a chapter of such dark and lamentable notoriety to the history of the Palais Royal. The nephew of Louis XIV. inherited all the vices and foibles of his race without any of their redeeming qualities. His selfish, easy-going bonhomie has been sometimes lauded as clemency; but it may more justly be considered a combination of weakness and cynical contempt for the claims of justice. When the enraged populace gathered before his palace, dragging three naked corpses—the victims of their legitimate but misplaced anger—along with them, the regent looked out at the tempestuous scene, and remarked coolly: “The mob are right; the wonder is they bear so much from us.” And truly it was a wonder; and if the Revolution of ‘93 did not break out under the lawless and exasperating rule of the Regency, it must only have been because, as St. Simon explained it, “three things are necessary to make a revolution: leaders, brains, and funds, none of which were to be found in France at this period.” The petits soupers de la Régence, which have acquired an infamous celebrity through all the chronicles of the time, can have no place in our sketch.

The visit of Peter the Great broke in on the luxurious and effeminate court of the Palais Royal like a Spartan appearing suddenly in the midst of a banquet of Sybarites. Peter, who had “civilized his people by cutting their heads off,” set his heart on visiting France during the preceding reign; but Louis XIV., partly from an insurmountable antipathy to the semi-barbarous autocrat, partly from political motives, had signified to his brother of all the Russias that his absence would be more agreeable than his presence. Peter was compelled, therefore, to wait until the Grand Monarque had rejoined his ancestors before gratifying his desire to visit Paris. The regent, far from making any difficulty about receiving him, made the most sumptuous preparations for the Northern reformer, and invited him to be his guest at the Palais Royal. But the hardy Muscovite could not conceal his contempt for the epicurean habits of his host, and horrified him by declaring that he never slept on anything softer than a camp-stretcher, which he carried with him in all his peregrinations, and used on the field of battle and in his own palace, and which he insisted now on substituting for the luxurious couch prepared for him. Altogether, the ways of Peter bewildered the nephew of Louis XIV. He was up with the birds, and flying over the city to see things and people that the latter would never have dreamed of calling his attention to. He expressed a wish to see Mme. de Maintenon, then living in dignified retreat at St. Cyr. Her Solidity, as Louis XIV. had dubbed her, pleaded ill-health as an excuse for declining the honor and fatigue of an official reception. Peter, therefore, set[125] off one morning and scared the learned and sedate ladies of St. Cyr out of their propriety by requesting to be shown at once to Mme. de Maintenon’s room. On arriving there, he entered without knocking, walked straight to the bed, pushed aside the curtains, and, sitting down beside the astonished lady, entered brusquely into conversation. The Sorbonne he also honored with one of these unceremonious visitations; perceiving a statue of Richelieu in one of the galleries, he rushed up to it, and, clasping the marble in his arms, exclaimed: “O incomparable man! would that thou wert still alive, and I would give thee one-half of my empire to teach me how to govern the other!”

But with all this rough and somewhat ostentatious disregard of etiquette, Peter had a keen sense of what was due to his imperial mightiness, and, with the caprice of a despot, could assert it trenchantly enough when he thought fit. The regent invited a number of the most illustrious men of the day to meet his eccentric guest at a banquet at the Palais Royal. As they were about to enter the dining-room, little Louis XV. stood back to let the czar pass first; Peter was unwilling to take precedence of the King of France, and equally reluctant to walk behind a child, so he wittily solved the difficulty by catching up the small monarch in his arms and carrying him to his seat.

The regent closed his ignoble life at the Palais Royal in 1723. His son Louis, Duke of Orleans, succeeded him. This prince brought his young bride, Jeanne de Bade, there soon after he took possession of his ancestral home, and lost her after a brief and blissful union. At the time of her death, Louis XV. was lying mortally sick, it was believed, at Metz, and thither, in the frenzy of his grief, the bereaved husband flew, and, going straight to the room of the dying king, demanded admittance; the attendants expostulated, but Louis pushed them aside, and kicked in the door to announce his loss to the kinsman who himself lay battling with death. He survived Jeanne some years, but never recovered her loss; he led a solitary and desolate life, and gave himself up to works of benevolence and the study of oriental languages. He became a perfect adept in the Arabic, Hebrew, and Greek tongues, and never appeared at court as a widower except when the imperious etiquette of Versailles occasionally demanded it. He died in 1752. His son’s reign at the Palais Royal is chiefly remarkable by his having inoculated his own children with small-pox; the daring experiment, which was performed by Tronchin, summoned from Geneva for the purpose, was crowned with success. Paris, transported with joy, made bonfires in the Place in front of the palace, and for a time the rash and fortunate father was the hero of toast and song. Another event which signalized his occupation of Richelieu’s palace was the destruction of the theatre by fire (1763). The duke rebuilt it on a somewhat larger but infinitely less gorgeous scale as to decoration. He was an enlightened patron of art, and especially kind in assisting young men whose talent was struggling to make head against poverty. He divined the genius of the young poet Le Fèvre, and encouraged him both by personal notice and by liberal gifts. He was so pleased with Le Fèvre’s tragedy Zuma that immediately on its appearance he bestowed a pension of 1,200 crowns on the poet out of his privy purse; and on the latter’s asking what services were expected[126] from him in return for this munificence, the duke answered: “It obliges you to work henceforth more ardently for your own fame—nothing more.” This prince, though he allowed himself to be drawn, to a certain extent, into the fashionable follies of the court, had inherited from his father many sterling and beautiful qualities. His benevolence was unbounded; but it was only after his death that his real character was revealed, so carefully did he shun everything like ostentation in the exercise of his favorite virtue. It was then discovered that two-thirds of his immense revenue had been spent upon the poor, in the payment of pensions to artists, men of letters, widows, etc.; some granted in his own name, others in the name of one or other of his ancestors. His condescending kindness towards his dependents endeared him to all who approached him. A chamberlain coming one day to announce to him the death of a most inefficient and tiresome valet, who had been twenty years in the duke’s service, “Poor fellow!” sighed the duke, “for twenty years he served me, and for twenty years he worried me!” “Why did you keep him, monseigneur?” inquired a bystander. “Why, he would never have found a place if I had turned him away,” replied the prince, and then added: “We must see now that his wife and children are provided for.” Was it not Sophocles who said, “Only a great soul knows how much glory there is in being kind”? What a germ of true glory there lies buried in this quiet little trait of Louis d’Orléans!

The death of this magnificent patron, forbearing master, and generous father of the poor makes way for another prince of the House of Orleans who has earned a louder but less enviable notoriety on the world-stage of history. Almost immediately on his becoming master of the Palais Royal, the new Duc d’Orléans had the vexation of seeing the theatre so recently rebuilt by his father burnt down again. Discouraged, no doubt, by this precedent, he refused to rebuild it at his own expense, and applied to the city of Paris for the necessary funds; but that body declined to furnish them. The Comédie Française was consequently transferred to the Porte St. Martin, where a building was erected in the space of six weeks by Lenoir. It was not till many years later that Richelieu’s beautiful temple to dramatic art was rebuilt by a prince of the House of Orleans, to be henceforth hired out on lease to enterprising managers.

We are told that in his early youth Joseph Philippe d’Orléans gave promise of an estimable manhood. How wofully this promise was belied by his after-life and shameful and tragic death we know. He was born at St. Cloud in 1747, and married, in 1769, the only daughter of the Duc de Penthièvre—a creature endowed with every charm of person and mind to make her at once reverenced and loved. Philippe was tall, slight, and well proportioned, his features finely cut and lit up with vivacity and intelligence, his manners gracious and dignified. Such is the portrait handed down to us of him in those early days before the shadow of coming infamy had obscured the picture. He fell soon into habits of unbridled dissipation; but, so long as he confined himself to this, to mad charioteering pranks on the boulevards, and aerial escapades in balloons, with boon companions as mad as himself, the people looked on in contemptuous disapproval. It was necessary, in order to stimulate this passive feeling to one of direct antagonism, that he should interfere with the popular[127] pleasure and convenience. This he did by turning his broad and richly planted garden into a huge shop, thus depriving the bourgeois and idlers of Paris of their accustomed resort on the sultry days and long mellow evenings of summer. His royal highness had contrived very soon to compromise a fortune more than royal in its extent; and, in order to replenish his coffers, he decided to cut down his ancestral chestnuts, and build up in their place long rows of shops, to be hired out at a high rent to tradespeople. The fashionables and the bourgeois, and, more important than all in a Frenchman’s eyes, the children, were thus driven to promenade under a stone colonnade, instead of enjoying the green shade of Richelieu’s groves, where the buzz of a multifarious bazaar had replaced the cooing of doves and the twitter of singing-birds. By-and-by we see the thermometer rising from resentful dislike to fierce hatred. Philip is smitten with Anglomania, and spends his time and, what is of more consequence to Paris, his money in London. He wears only London-made coats, drives English horses, hires English grooms, altogether affects the ways and manners of outre-mer, to the great disgust of Versailles and the boulevards. Wretched Philip! well had it been for him and for Versailles had he dwelt content in these puerile masquerades and self-degrading follies! But under the frivolous surface there lay a substratum of cruel vindictiveness, a bristling self-love, that was quick to see an affront, and implacable in avenging it. Marie Antoinette had the dire ill-luck to offend her disreputable cousin of Orleans. When her brother, the Archduke Maximilian, came to see her at Versailles, the queen, then in her twentieth year, very naturally desired to see as much as possible of this dear companion of her childhood during his short stay; so she dispensed, as far as she could, with court ceremonial, remaining chiefly in her private apartments with her brother. It did not probably occur to her that, in omitting to invite the Duc d’Orléans to share this sisterly intercourse, she was inflicting a wound that would one day distil its deadly poison upon herself and those dearest to her. So it was, however. Philip never forgave what he considered a slight, and bitterly did he make the thoughtless young queen repent having inflicted it.

The gardens of the Palais Royal, which had given rise to his first unpopularity, were destined to be the scene of the upheaving of the revolution. All was ready, only waiting for a bold hand to give a push to the pendulum and set it going. Camille Desmoulins did it. It was the 12th of July, 1789. Yesterday the great crisis had been prepared, and to-day it burst. Necker, the universal genius whose advent to the ministry was hailed as the panacea for all discords, and difficulties, and threatened dangers; Necker, the “Achilles of computation,” whose, vigorous hand and capacious brain were to seize France, tottering on the brink of some invisible gulf, and steady her; Necker, to whom the timid, apathetic king, and the proud, valiant queen, had all but gone on their knees to induce him to come and redeem the treasury by “swift arithmetic,” and save the government and—yes, even at this date they must have included it in the salvations to be accomplished by Necker—the throne; Necker, who had yielded to the royal suppliants with these words: “I yield in obedience to duty, but with the certainty that I am doomed”—Necker had been dismissed. On the 11th of July, Louis XVI. signed the letter imploring the[128] minister to leave the kingdom “at once and without éclat.” When his secretary objected that Necker’s extraordinary popularity was a strong presumption against his obeying this last command; that he had only to show himself, and the people would rise en masse to prevent his flight, Louis replied: “I know Necker; he will guard us against himself; he will obey me scrupulously, and fly without éclat.” And he was right. The minister received the letter at three in the afternoon, and quietly put it in his pocket without communicating its contents even to his wife; he dined at the usual hour with some friends already invited; nothing in his appearance or conversation betrayed the slightest emotion during the repast; on leaving the table, he showed the letter of dismissal to Mme. Necker, ordered his carriage, and they went out for a drive; when they were about two hundred yards from the house, he pulled the check-string, and desired the coachman to drive to the nearest post-station. It was not till the following morning that his daughter and his numerous friends knew of his departure. The news electrified everybody. Camille Desmoulins’ grand opportunity had arrived. He had already made himself notorious as a leader of malcontents; this afternoon he was drinking with a certain set of them in a café at the Palais Royal—of late a favorite rendezvous of patriots of his type—noisy and blustering, believing in copious libations as the most efficacious proof of patriotism. Desmoulins, on hearing the news, rushed out, pistol in hand, and, jumping on an orange-tree tub, proceeded to harangue the assembled multitude. He was afflicted with a painful stuttering in his speech, but this impediment appears to have been no hindrance to the effect of his oratory; on the contrary, it gave it a more vehement character, impelling him to wild and passionate gesticulation, by way of helping out his defective utterance. He spoke with his eyes, his teeth, every member of his body; he would shake out his hair in lion-like fashion, stamp his feet, toss his arms with clenched fists above his head to supply the word his tongue refused to articulate, and the energetic pantomine elicited the sympathy, while it fired the passions, of his hearers. “Citizens!” he cried, “I come from Versailles.” (He came from a neighboring café, as we have seen, but what of that?) “Necker is dismissed. This dismissal is the tocsin of S. Bartholomew for all patriots. Before the sun has gone down, we shall see the Swiss and German battalions marching from the Champs de Mars to murder us like dogs. One chance yet remains to us. To arms! Let us choose a cockade whereby we may know each other.” This exordium was covered with thundering salvos by the patriots. “What color shall we choose?” continued the orator. “Speak, patriots! Select your own flag. Shall it be green, the emblem of hope, or blue—the color of free America, of liberty, and democracy?” A voice from the patriots cried out: “Green, the color of hope!” But the choice was negatived by the voice of popular prejudice. Green, it was said, was unlucky. No; they would not have green.

A scene of indescribable tumult followed while the momentous question of the cockade was being canvassed. Finally, by what train of argument history does not record, blue, white, and red were elected to the honor of representing the patriots. They happened to be the colors of the House of Orleans. From the tub which served as a rostrum to the[129] orator the decree was shouted to the serried ranks around, and all through the gardens it was borne along the colonnade rapid as lightning, swelling, as it went, into a deafening peal that soon reverberated from the boulevards and the thoroughfares of Paris to Versailles. It is said, we know not whether or not on authentic testimony, that while this wild uproar, which terminated in the adoption of his House’s colors by the popular party, was going on under his windows, Philip of Orleans, henceforth to be known under the title of Egalité, was coolly looking out at the performance, smoking his cigar, and discussing the probable effect of it all at Versailles. By the time the whole city was out-of-doors, it was the hour for the performance to begin in the Palais Royal theatre, close by the scene of Camille’s rhetorical triumph; other more interesting pieces, beginning with comedy and ending with tragedy, were now to be performed; a band of patriots, with Camille at their head, burst into the theatre, and, rushing on the stage, summarily reversed the programme of the evening. They flung tricolor cockades right and left, and called the spectators to arms. “The audience rose en masse” at the appeal, like a true-born Parisian audience, and, surging from pit and boxes, poured out impetuous and desperate, it knew not well why, at the bidding of Camille Desmoulins. He marched off, with the swelling stream behind him, to the studio of the sculptor Curtius; there the patriots seized a bust of Necker and Philip of Orleans, and carried them in procession through the streets. This was Egalité’s official début, as a leader of the Red Revolution. It was at the Palais Royal he was arrested. Here, on the site of its first eruption, the wild demon which he had, in the measure of his power, evoked and called up from the smouldering lava depths to the full activity of its satanic life, and flattered and bowed down to, was doomed at the appointed hour of retribution to raise its bloody hand against the regicide, and strike him down. On his way to the guillotine, the car, whether by accident or design, passed under Egalité’s old home. He raised his eyes for a moment to the windows, and, surveying them with an unmoved countenance, turned his glance calmly again upon the yelling crowd.

While the Terror lasted, the Palais Royal remained untenanted. After the Restoration it was occupied by Louis Philippe while Duke of Orleans; when the son of Egalité called himself to the throne of his nephew, he forsook it for the Tuileries, and during the remainder of his reign it was open to the public as an historical monument and museum. On the resurrection of the Empire, the Palais Royal became the residence of Prince Jerome Bonaparte, only surviving brother of Napoleon I. When this last venerable twig fell from the old imperial tree, it continued in the possession of his son, Prince Napoleon. Hither, in March, 1859, he brought his young bride, the Princess Clothilde, daughter of Victor Emmanuel, and there he resided until the memorable summer of 1870, when the disastrous war with Prussia came like a cyclone, and tore up the old tree by the roots, and sent the branches flying hither and thither over the astonished face of Europe.

The Commune closes our retrospect of Richelieu’s palace. The Tuileries and the Palais Royal sent up their petroleum flames together to the soft summer skies where the bright May sun was shining down, serenely sad, upon the awful spectacle of Paris on fire—a funeral pile whereon[130] were consumed, let us hope never again to rise from their ashes, the Commune itself, and the delusions of the few honest fools, if such there were, who believed in its insane theories. Surely as they fled, scared from their old historic haunts by the blaze and stench of the devilish modern fluid, the ghosts of Richelieu, and Mazarin, and Anne of Austria, and all that band of majestic figures from the unburied past, must have laughed a bitter laugh, wherein horror was not without a note of triumph, as they looked back upon the ghastly scene. “Our little systems had their day,” the dead legislators may have said, one to another, as they stood in the lurid light of the conflagration that illuminated, to the eyes of their disembodied spirit, the far-stretching vistas of the present and the past; “they were all faulty, how faulty we know now with unavailing knowledge, but, compared to this, were they not the Millennium, Eutopia, the ideal of the reign of justice upon the earth?”


The tendency, to which we have heretofore alluded, to ostracize Catholics, and to take it for granted that this is a Protestant country, to be ruled exclusively by anti-Catholics, has had even a more dangerous and far-reaching effect beyond our borders, and that, too, apparently with official sanction. The popular prejudice has not unnaturally reached and infected the authorities at Washington. We do not allude especially to the present Administration or Congress, for the evil is of long standing; but we have no hesitation in saying that our diplomatic and consular systems as at present conducted are unjust to a very respectable minority of the American people, and are likely to mislead and deceive the nations with which we are on terms of peace and amity. The foreign appointees are, almost without exception, taken from the ranks of non-Catholics and without regard either to the feelings of a large class of our own citizens or the wishes of the people to whom they are sent. The ministers plenipotentiary to the great powers of Europe have been invariably selected from the ultra Protestant class like Motley; while the numerous consuls, with a few honorable exceptions, have been men of the same way of thinking, according to their limited understanding. When the Holy Father was yet in possession of his dominions, we used to delight in sending him now and then a specimen of a genuine Know-Nothing; and when Spain—Catholic and conservative Spain—began to feel the Gem of the Antilles slipping from her grasp, we despatched an atheistical filibustero, Soulé, to assure her of our friendship and good-will With Catholic countries generally we have acted in the same spirit of contradiction, as if our object were to excite hostility rather than to perpetuate kindness and harmony, as among them, particularly in South America, each legation and consulate habitually formed the nucleus of anti-Catholic society. As long as this[131] blundering—we will not call it by a harsher name—was confined to our European appointments, it mattered little; for the relative condition of Catholics and the sects in this country is there pretty well known, and, the faith of the people being well fixed, prejudice and bigotry, even when protected by the stars and stripes, could do little harm.

It is of the character of our representatives in Turkey, Africa, India, China, and other places in partibus infidelium that we have most reason to complain. These American envoys and consuls seem to become volunteer lay evangelizers; and if, like our friends of the Methodist and Presbyterian missionary societies of this city, they do not succeed in converting the benighted heathen from the error of their ways, they endeavor, by the exercise of all their delegated authority, to thwart and depreciate the labors of those who can—the Catholic missionaries from other countries. Take, for example, India and China, the great missionary fields of the world, containing as they do at least one-half of the whole human race in a comparative state of civilization. The former being a province of Great Britain, it is natural that sectarian missions should receive at least a semi-official recognition and protection from the appointees of the head of the Protestant Church “as by law established”; but even in this respect the English officials have been outdone in zeal and officiousness by our own agents in the Indian Peninsula, as we learn from a late work on that country.[44] But in China, with its four or five hundred millions of idolaters, the case is different. There the Catholic priest and the devoted Sister of Charity, unsupported by the temporal arm, and unawed by threats, torture, and death, have been most active and most successful in advancing the standard of the cross and winning souls to Christ. Their converts are numbered by tens of thousands, and their churches, schools, and orphanages dot the southern and western coasts; while the sectarian missionaries, lacking the sustaining power of the state, have practically done nothing. This has long been a source of much chagrin to the various dissenting proselytizing societies in England and the United States, as it also seems to have been the cause of exasperation to our Minister at Peking, Mr. Frederick F. Low.

That gentleman’s mission to China appears to have embraced but three objects, if we except his attempt and absurd failure to bring the Coreans into communication with the outside world. The first of these was the protection of American Protestant missionaries, and them only; the second, to convince the Chinese officials that the United States have nothing to do with Catholics, or, as he is pleased to style them on all occasions, “Romanists”; and the third, to send home false despatches and mistranslated documents.

In looking over the foreign correspondence of our government for 1871, as presented to Congress with the President’s Message,[45] we find that, in October, 1870, Mr. Low, without any authority whatever from Washington, ordered a United States war-vessel from Chefoo to Tungchow, for the sole purpose of returning some Protestant missionaries to the latter place, who, with their usual regard for the first law of nature, had fled from it upon the slightest[132] rumor of danger. The ship was the Benecia, and her precious cargo consisted of “the missionaries (number not stated), their teachers and servants, also their children, amounting to a total of twenty-four persons.” Of the reverend gentlemen at whose disposal a public vessel had been so obsequiously placed by the accommodating Mr. Low, Commander Kimberly, in his report, bluntly says:

“The missionaries expressed themselves perfectly satisfied with everything that had been done in regard to returning them to their homes, and wished me to visit the shore and walk about the city with the officers of the ship in full uniform, which I declined to do, as, after the promises made by the Chinese officials, I considered it unnecessary, and the Chinese being perfectly willing and pleased, as far as I could judge, that they had returned. From my interview, I came to the conclusion that there never existed any real danger at Tungchow-foo, but the missionaries were frightened by the threats of some Chinese not in authority. Mischievous persons are found in every community, and Tungchow-foo is not free from this infliction. The massacre of Tientsin capped the climax, and the missionaries left in consequence.”

The cowardly conduct of the missionaries, who were thus so honorably reconducted to their homes, is even partially admitted by the minister in his explanatory despatch, for he says: “In this connection, I desire to say that I have had no information from the missionaries, except a short note from one of them saying that they had all reached Tungchow. Without expressing any opinion as to the real peril they were in, or whether there was or was not cause for the step they took, I am of the opinion that their removal and the manner of their return will, on the whole, result in good.”

We admit that it is the duty of every envoy, consul, or other foreign agent of our government to succor and protect our citizens abroad in all things lawful; but here, in this respect, their duty ends. They have no shadow of right to employ the public vessels of the country, paid for by the public at large, and destined for far other purposes, in any other business, much less for the transportation of runaway missionaries, “their teachers, servants, and children.” This is not a Protestant country de facto or de jure, and, as far as the national government is concerned, no religion whatever is recognized. If it were an equal number of merchants or traders who had fled in terror from imaginary danger, is it likely that Mr. Low would have depleted our small squadron in the Chinese seas by putting at their service, and that of their “teachers, servants, and children,” one of the best vessels in the fleet? Or does any one suppose that, if those persons had been Catholic missionaries, he would have been guilty of a similar abuse of authority? But he apologetically says, “The manner of their return will, on the whole, result in good.” Just so. Good to Mr. Low, though we have not yet heard of a vote of thanks having been presented to him by any of our numerous foreign missionary societies, or that they have sent on to Washington deputations for his retention or promotion. That his conduct deserves such commendation from these bodies no one can doubt who reads further his despatches to the State Department.

In 1858, a treaty was formed between China, on the one part, and the leading Western powers, on the other, whereby, among other things, it was stipulated that the Christian converts in the former country should practise their religion without molestation, and also enjoy certain immunities; and that in the free or open ports and districts the ministers of religion[133] should be guaranteed the full exercise of their functions, etc. In 1870, as previously agreed upon, this treaty came up for revision, and France, ever foremost in the work of civilization and conversion, proposed five amendments to the treaty, all relating directly or indirectly to commerce. The second of these reads as follows:

“You have expressed a desire to know the demands which I have engaged my government to make from the Chinese government when the treaty of 1858 is revised. I have no objection to satisfy you, for I believe that the alterations are indispensable, and I shall be happy to learn that the other governments allied with China have decided also to demand them.... Second, I demand that we shall have the right to place salaried consuls wherever we judge proper, and that those cities where consuls reside shall also be opened to foreign trade.”

These demands seemed rational enough, and have since, we understand, been substantially complied with; but our clear-sighted minister immediately detected the danger that lurked beneath them, particularly the one just quoted, and hastened to advise his government not to second the propositions of the French ambassador. Here is one of his reasons:

“I see so many objections to such a treaty provision, and so many chances of its proving a delusion and a snare, that, unless the proposition can be more definitely defined, I should not be inclined to favor it. If the exact truth could be ascertained, it would be found, I expect, that the whole idea of the French chargé in this scheme is the better protection of the French missionaries; and were it possible to obtain the concession asked for, these additional consuls would be, to all intents and purposes, agents of Roman Catholic missionaries. Their official positions and influence would be used to sustain missionary claims and assumptions, some of which have been described in a former despatch. So far as trade is concerned, it may well be questioned whether the presence of French consuls in the interior would not prove a damage instead of a benefit.”

And this is the representative of a free and commercial people who desire to be considered Christian! Rather than see Catholic missions extended, and paganism eradicated from the hearts of millions of human beings, he would be willing to keep some of the most populous and fertile portions of the Celestial Empire closed for ever against civilization and commerce. But let us follow this model minister a little further.

In February, 1871, the Chinese Foreign Office submitted to the foreign representatives at the capital, for consideration and approval, the draft of a minute, and eight rules for the guidance and government of missionaries in the entire empire. They were drawn up with true Tartar cunning and ingenuity, and were intended, if adopted, to baffle the straightforward demands of France. In terms they were plausible enough, but in reality exceedingly restrictive, and evidently aimed at the Sisters of Charity, whose schools and orphan asylums were rapidly increasing, and at those zealous and enterprising missionaries who, under various disguises, and despite the vigilance of the local authorities, are in the habit, at imminent personal danger, of penetrating into the very heart of the country, and preaching the Word of God where his name has never before been heard. This was a chance for Mr. Low to exhibit his sectarian bigotry before the mandarins, and he eagerly availed himself of it. Answering their communication in his official capacity, and while dissenting generally from their views, he takes occasion, we think very gratuitously, to say:

“It is a noticeable fact that, among all the cases cited, there does not appear to[134] be one in which Protestant missionaries are charged with violating treaty, law, or custom. So far as I can ascertain, your complaints are chiefly against the action and attitude of the missionaries of the Roman Catholic faith, and, as these are under the exclusive protection and control of the government of France, I might with great propriety decline to discuss a matter with which the government of the United States has no direct interest or concern, for the reason that none of its citizens are charged with violating treaty or local law, and thus causing trouble.”

And again, with equal truthfulness and appositeness, he adds:

“Whenever cases occur in which the missionaries overstep the bounds of decorum, or interfere in matters with which they have no proper concern, let each case be reported promptly to the minister of the country to which it belongs. Such isolated instances should not produce prejudice or engender hatred against those who observe their obligations, nor should sweeping complaints be made against all on this account. Those from the United States sincerely desire the reformation of those whom they teach, and to do this they urge the examination of the Holy Scriptures, wherein the great doctrines of the present and a future state, and also the resurrection of the soul, are set forth, with the obligation of repentance, belief in the Saviour, and the duties of man to himself and others. It is owing, in a great degree, to the prevalence of a belief in the truth of the Scriptures that Western nations have attained their power and prosperity.”

Having thus, as he thought, directed the prejudice and hostility of the authorities against the Catholics exclusively, and put in a good word for the evangelizers; and assured them that, as far as the former were concerned, the United States had no concern whatever, and by inference that they might maltreat and murder as many of them as they pleased without let or hindrance from us, Mr. Low next proceeds to mislead his government in a manner which may be diplomatic, but is certainly far from honorable.

In transmitting to the Department of State a translation of the rules alluded to, he remarks:

“A careful reading of the memorandum clearly proves that the great, if not only, cause of complaint against the missionaries comes from the action of the Roman Catholic priests and the native Christians of that faith; although the rules proposed for the government of missionaries apply equally to Protestants and Catholics.”

“A careful reading” of the document as translated under his auspices would indeed seem to bear out Mr. Low’s views, for it is filled with complaints and denunciations of “Romanists,” and the derivative adjective “Romish” is used with a freedom that would delight the heart of the most virulent colporteur. But, unfortunately, there was another translation of the same document in England, and in it, behold, all the “Romanists” are turned into “Christians”![46] Even Mr. Davis, of the State Department, could not help noticing this discrepancy between the two papers, and in a letter dated Oct. 19, 1871, calls upon the Peking minister for an explanation, which, of course, was never given, for the good reason that the deception was intentional. If, as according to Blackstone, forgery consists in the material alteration of the body of a written instrument, as well as in the imitation or alteration of a signature, we fear our respected representative has been guilty of a very serious legal mistake. The assistant secretary writes:

“Two versions of these regulations have found their way to the Department—the translation enclosed in your No. 56, and a translation apparently made from a French version presented to the houses of Parliament in Great Britain in June or July last, and printed in British[135] Blue-Book, entitled “China, No. 3, 1871.” These versions differ widely in form and expression, and, to some extent, in sense.

“The version presented to Parliament has been or will be made the subject of instructions by her Majesty’s government to Mr. Wade. A copy of these proposed instructions was communicated to this Department by her Majesty’s chargé at Washington in August last. A copy is herewith enclosed, and also a copy of the version to which they relate.

“The most material variance between the two versions is in the designation of the missionaries against whom the Chinese Foreign Office complains. Your version limits the complaints to missionaries of the Roman Church. The British translation, following the French version, represents the complaints against ‘Christians.’ For instance, the British version renders the beginning of the first article or rule as follows: ‘The Christians, when they found an orphanage, give no notice to the authorities, and appear to act with mystery.’ Your translation of the same sentence reads: “The establishment of asylums for training up children by the Romanists has hitherto not been reported to the authorities, and as these institutions are carefully kept private,’ etc., etc. From the English version of the accompanying note from the Yamên, it is evident that the Chinese Foreign Office recognizes that there are in China Christian missionaries of different faiths; for they say that ‘the people in general, unaware of the difference which exists between Protestantism and Catholicism, confound these two religions under this latter denomination.’”

The sectarian views of the minister in Peking were ably seconded by his subordinate, the consul-general at Shanghai. That official, Mr. G. F. Seward, under date August 22, 1871, sends to the Assistant-Secretary of State a cursory review of the general condition of China, and a detailed account of the horrible massacre of Tientsin, June 21, 1870; with a report of the trial and execution of some of the miscreants engaged in it. His communication, as might be expected, is, whenever possible, thoroughly anti-Catholic, filled with innuendos, insinuations, and even broad statements against the missionaries of that faith, and the Sisters of Charity; the usual elegant phrases “Romish” and “Romanist” being used at every opportunity. As a sample of this commercial agent’s style and skill in the art of hinting a fault and hesitating dislike, we quote the following passages from his letter:

“Various allegations have been made against Roman Catholic missionaries. It has been alleged that the bishop of one of the western provinces resides in a palace which vies with that of the viceroy; that he uses a palanquin decorated in a way allowed only to the highest officials of the empire; and that his progresses from one part of his diocese to another are made in a regal way. It has been asserted that the priests claim the right to correspond with the officials on terms of equality; that they combine with and arrange combinations among their converts to defeat the objects of the government; that they claim for their converts various unusual and objectionable immunities; that, in fact, they are building up a rule within the territorial rule which is very dangerous to the state. One who has studied the history of the Roman Church cannot be surprised when he hears that China is seriously alarmed; but we can estimate the actual danger more perfectly than she. Any exposition of her fears which she is likely to make will exhibit many puerilities. Yet we must admit that her statesmen would be unwise if they should fail to study the problems which the presence of the church presents.”

So much for some of our diplomats in Asia. If they had been sent out by the Methodist missionary body or any other fanatical society, they could not have shown more narrow-minded bigotry or less regard for the advancement of religion and true civilization; but as representatives of this republic, where all are regarded as equal, and where the general government is supposed to[136] represent the interests of every class and creed alike, it is not too much to say that they have been sadly recreant to the trust reposed in them.

Turning over the pages of this voluminous collection of foreign correspondence from all parts of the world with the Department of State, we came upon the following curious despatch. It is dated Mexico, April 29, 1871, signed by our minister, Mr. Thomas H. Nelson, and referred to in the index as “The Spread of Protestantism”:

“The Protestant movement in Mexico has for the past year been making considerable progress, chiefly owing to the efforts of the American clergyman, Rev. H. Chauncey Reilly, a letter from whom upon this subject was forwarded by me, forming an enclosure to my No. 38, of August 9, 1869. There are now about fifty congregations or assemblies of Mexican Protestants in this city and vicinity, and an equal or greater number scattered throughout the country. Most of these assemblies still meet in private houses, though in some small places of the interior they form a numerical majority, and have, therefore, acquired possession of the parish churches. In this city, through the efforts and personal liberality of Mr. Reilly, the Protestants have acquired two fine churches of those which were secularized and sold by the government some years since; one of these is the former convent of San Francisco, the most magnificent as well as the first one erected in Mexico. It is now being repaired for its new use. The other is the commodious church of San José de Garcia, which, having been thoroughly repaired, was dedicated to the Protestant service on Sunday, the 23d instant, in the presence of an immense multitude. Two or three Catholic priests of some prominence have, within the past two or three months, joined the Protestant communion, and two of them have ventured upon the decisive step of matrimony. One of the recent converts, Father Manuel Auguas, formerly an eloquent preacher of the Dominican Order, has become the pastor of the new church. This event has caused a vigorous polemic in the newspapers of this city; the two papers considered especially Catholic have been filled with attacks upon the new religious movement, while most of the other papers have exhibited a commendable spirit of tolerance or even of good-will toward the Protestants. I enclose an interesting article upon this subject from the Two Republics of to-day, translated from the Federalista, and written by M. Ignacio M. Altamirano, who is considered as the chief of the Mexican literary writers of the present day. Yours, etc.”

This is the entire communication, no other subjects being touched upon; but the matter seems of so much importance and of so great national interest as to warrant the sapient Mr. Nelson in making it the basis of a special official despatch. Is this gentleman the envoy of the United States, or a commissioner appointed by some Bible or tract society to report on the “spread of Protestantism” in the neighboring republic, or does he unite the two characters in his own person? Does he receive the public money for puffing the Rev. H. Chauncey Reilly, and transmitting his diatribes and the effusions of a certain M. Altamirano for preservation in the archives of the nation? If so, it is time the public should know it. Mr. Nelson’s letter, however, explains an incident that occurred in Washington a few years since. It was this: the mission to Mexico was vacant, and it was applied for by a gentleman every way qualified for the post. He was thoroughly educated, knew the Spanish language well, and had served with high rank and marked distinction during the late war. He was appointed by the President, and his nomination by the Senate was urged by several influential citizens, including the then Secretary of State, the late Mr. Seward. The committee of the Senate refused to report his name favorably, and, in reply to the query of the writer what objection could be[137] urged against the applicant, a leading senator replied that “he understood him to be a very violent (meaning practical) Catholic!” The policy of this gentleman, like that of many others at the national capital, was not to send a Catholic to a Catholic country, but one who would report on the “spread of Protestantism,” and doubtless, find materials for his despatches.

Nor must we blame the government too severely for their injudicious sectarian appointments. Its views are but the reflex of popular opinion, and, as long as we tolerate bigotry and proscription in our popular elections, we must expect that those who are supposed to represent us will follow the bad example thus set them. The fault hitherto has been partly ours, and the remedy is in our own hands. This remedy consists in discountenancing all subsidized newspaper writers and demagogues whose abuse and slanders prevent good men from filling the national and state councils; in trampling under foot all party and religious prejudices, and invariably voting against those who would maintain them; and by supporting for offices, both at home and abroad, only those who will attend to the public business, and let sectarian missionaries and the “spread of Protestantism” alone.


After many strifes and battles, and after having been for years Administrator of Thrace, Asia, and Egypt, with Dacia and Macedonia, to which the dethroned and executed Emperor of the West, Gratian, had appointed him, Theodosius I., the Roman emperor, returned from Thessalonica, his former headquarters, to Constantinople.

The day was cold and stormy, and many a one of the emperor’s suite wrapped his cloak closer around his shivering body, as the snowflakes fell thicker and faster, covering the road quickly in the white mantle of winter.

The troop had just entered a small village, when the emperor’s horse was stopped by a man miserably clad and trembling with cold.

Impatient of the detention, Theodosius pressed his spurs into the sides of his steed, and flew past the wretched beggar.

But a knight called Martin, from Pannonia, who followed next, halted and looked pityingly upon the poor trembling form. Willingly would he have given him money or clothing, but a soldier seldom has much to give, and, except his hat and coat, the knight possessed nothing. One moment only he reflected, and the next he drew forth his sword, and cut in two the large cloak hanging over his shoulders. Handing the one half to the beggar, and wrapping himself closely in the other, he followed the emperor with lightning speed, without listening to the words of blessing which fell from the lips of the mendicant.

After the sun had set, the emperor and his followers took quarters for the night.

All had gone to rest, and Knight Martin also had laid himself down, and soon was fast asleep. Shortly, however, he felt as if his eyes were[138] forced open by a most brilliant and dazzling light. He sat up, and perceived at his feet a man upon whose head was a crown of thorns. Shining angels surrounded him, and the mantle which Martin had given to the beggar hung around his shoulders. Pointing to it, he asked S. Peter (who stood by his side) in sweet and gentle voice: “Do you see this mantle?”

“From whom did you receive it?” S. Peter questioned.

“From Martin here,” was the reply, given in a heavenly voice, his finger pointing at the same time to the astonished soldier. “Rise, my son,” he then continued—and his angelic smile was ravishing to the eyes of Martin—“I have chosen thee henceforth to be my servant. Until now thou hast been a blind heathen: thou shalt now become a shining light in my army. Put up thy sword; thou shalt be a soldier of God.” And then Martin knew that it was the Lord himself who spake to him.

An angel kissed the mantle’s border—and Martin awoke.

The morning broke. He rose quickly, and left the place, never resting, never stopping, until he had reached the portal of a cloister; there he knocked and entered.

Soon he became famous for his goodness and piety, and, as bishop, served his Master with spiritual rather than material weapons.


My Clerical Friends, and Their Relation to Modern Thought. New York: The Catholic Publication Society. 1873.

We are glad to announce the publication of the American edition of this work, our previous notice having been based upon the advance sheets of the English edition.

The Catholic Publication Society has done good service to religion by its handsome edition of this most important book. It is divided into four chapters, which treat of “The Vocation of the Clergy,” “The Clergy at Home,” “The Clergy Abroad,” and “The Clergy and Modern Thought.” Under these divisions, the distinguished author has grouped together a most interesting series of facts and arguments which cannot fail to carry conviction to any honest mind. He deals principally with what may be called the advanced clergy of the Anglican Church, shows their real position in the present state of controversy, and the utter absurdity of their claims. If there is anything properly called ridiculous, it is the aspect of a small portion of a sect pretending to be that which every one else in the world denies them to be, and flaunting their professions to the entire denial of history, tradition, and even common sense. Our Ritualistic friends have no regard for anything in the past, present, or future but themselves, and, therefore, they cannot be reasoned with. Their half-way house may be a stopping-place for a time for honest hearts, but no sincere mind can rest there, for Almighty God never leaves the true in mind without the assistance of his grace or the use of their natural faculties. We commend this book to all in the Anglican communion who desire to look facts in the face or to save their souls. And we beg in all charity to tell them that they cannot save their souls without sacrifice. If they prefer to keep this world, they will lose the next. There may be in our author’s clear and bright presentation of truth something that may seem to them harsh or severe. We can assure them that there is no kinder heart than that of our distinguished friend, the author; but he has such keen perceptions of right and wrong that he cannot fail to put,[139] with telling effect, the absurdity of their religious position. And deny it as they may, and perhaps will, the whole world appreciates the inconsistency of their actions with their professions. Kind people pity them, while worldly people laugh at them.

Beginning with the theory that the one church of God can be divided, which is a contradiction in terms, they claim to be a branch of something that confessedly can have no branches. Then, they are not simply a branch, but a branch of a branch. And the branch of which they form part renounces them, and casts them out, but they will not be cast out. Their mother, the Church of England, does not know herself as these her children do. Then, there is one thing they can hang on to the last, even if everything else fails. They were admitted to apostolical ordination by Barlow, whom they will have a bishop, though there is no proof whatever that he was one, and while he himself denied the necessity or the virtue of the sacrament of order. “If schism,” as Dr. Newman says, “depends on the mere retention of the Episcopal order, there never was and there never will be a schism,” for bishops are as likely to be corrupted as priests. But the truth is, nobody ever pretended to any apostolical succession in the English Church until the Dissenters became so strong that, out of opposition to them, “a few Anglican prelates began to talk of pretensions which, during several generations, they had treated as a jest and a fable.” “According to Barlow, an English bishop could dispense with orders; and, according to Cranmer, with grace.” There was no pretence of any doctrine of priesthood on the part of the founders of the Church of England, and surely these intelligent men ought to have known what they intended to do. Hooker is one of their greatest defenders, and he expressly denies the necessity of Episcopal ordination. “Being about to appear before God, he sent—not for an Anglican minister—but for his friend Saravia, and accepted from his unconsecrated hands those quasi-sacramental rites which, according to Ritualistic views, he had no power to dispense.” These divines were the faithful interpreters of the mind of their church.

“‘It is quite clear,’ observes Bishop Tomline, expounding the 25th Article, ‘that the words of the Article do not maintain the necessity of episcopal ordination.’ Bishop Hall, again, though he wrote a well-known book in defence of episcopacy, gave up the whole question when he said: ‘Blessed be God, there is no difference, in any essential matter, betwixt the Church of England and her sisters of the Reformation.’ And this was the language even of men who had written the most earnest apologies for episcopal government. They never attempted to maintain that the apostolical succession was necessary to the integrity of a church. Thus Bramhall said, with easy composure: ‘The ordination of our first Protestant bishops was legal,’ i.e. it had the royal sanction; ‘and for the validity of it, we crave no man’s favor.’ Andrewes is a more important witness. Though Ritualists may not approve his subservience to that robust theologian, James I., he is still held in honor among them as almost a High-Church prelate, and is regarded as the most imposing figure of his time. Yet Andrewes, on their own principles, was as flagrant a betrayer of the doctrine of the Christian priesthood, if he ever held it, as Hooker himself, or even as Barlow or Whittaker. He not only gave the Anglican sacrament to a Swiss Protestant, Isaac Casaubon, but related afterwards, with impassioned and approving eloquence, that his friend died loudly professing with his latest breath the strictest tenets of the Calvinists of Geneva.”

There are many other points that will attract the attention of the reader, and which we cannot speak of in this short notice. The last chapter, upon “The Clergy and Modern Thought,” is particularly adapted to the superficial age in which we live, and answers all the objections which are made by the really shallow thinkers who, according to the language of the apostle, “professing themselves to be wise, have become fools.”

We bespeak for this most interesting and instructive book a large circulation and many attentive readers, who will unite with us in thanking the accomplished author for the pleasure and profit they have received from him. May God grant him yet many years to live in which to do good with his able pen!

The following letter of the author, correcting a mistake into which he had fallen, appeared in the London Tablet of February 8:


To the Editor of the Tablet:

Sir: I am assured by friends of Mr. Lecky, the well-known author of the histories of Rationalism in Europe and of European Morals, that I have misunderstood a passage in the latter work, and attributed to the distinguished writer sentiments which he disavows. Mr. Lecky has displayed in his remarkable writings such unusual candor, and even, in spite of much that is painful to a Christian, such elevation of thought, that to do him wilful injustice is a fault of which no Catholic ought to be capable. I ask your permission, therefore, to make the following explanation.


“The passage which I am said to have misunderstood is this: ‘Had the Irish peasants been less chaste, 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.’ Interpreting these words by the light of other statements of the same author, and especially by his announcement that ‘utility is perhaps the highest motive to which reason can attain,’ they seemed to me, as they seemed to all whom I have been able to consult, to bear only one meaning. I was mistaken. They really meant, I now learn, ‘that the habit of early marriages in a nation is detrimental to its economical prosperity.’ I am further reminded that Mr. Lecky has written admirably on the grace of chastity which adorns the Irish nation, and could not, therefore, have wished to say that sin is a less evil than famine and destitution.

“I am too familiar with the writings of Mr. Lecky, which I have read more than once, and always with extreme interest, not to recognize his great moral superiority over the contemporary school of Rationalists. The study of his books has even created in me a strong personal sympathy for the writer. In quoting him frequently, I think I have manifested this feeling. But if I have done him injustice in the case referred to, I regret that he did not more carefully guard himself from a misapprehension which was purely involuntary, and into which others fell who share my admiration of his candor and ability. I have only to add that, if the opportunity should occur, I will suppress the passage to which Mr. Lecky’s friends have called my attention. Yours faithfully,

The Author of ‘My Clerical Friends.’

Sermons on Ecclesiastical Subjects. By Henry Edward, Archbishop of Westminster. American Edition. Vol. II. New York: The Catholic Publication Society. 1873.

This dauntless champion of the faith is once more in the field. In the present volume, the great Archbishop of England presents himself in that which is his special character and vocation, to wit, as the defender of the rights and doctrines maintained and promulgated by Pius IX. in the face of his enemies and of some timid or misguided persons among his friends. The sermons are not all new ones, since they range in time from 1866 to 1872; but as now collected they make a new whole out of previously separate parts belonging to one great theme, the rights of the Holy See and the church as opposed to the nefarious system of modern liberalism. The masterpiece of the volume is, however, the Introduction, a most able and eloquent analysis and confutation of the principles of the revolutionary party in Europe which aims at the overthrow of the Catholic Church and of the Christian religion. Archbishop Manning has done immense service to religion, and his power seems to have been continually and steadily increasing since he first entered the lists as a champion of the true church. Before the Council of the Vatican, he was one of those who contributed most efficaciously to the preparation of the greatest event of this age, the definition of the dogma of Papal Infallibility, by which Gallicanism, the mother error of that brood of false doctrines condemned in the Syllabus of 1864, was destroyed. During and since the Council he has combated these errors with equal ability and courage, and seconded the great Pope, who now fills the place of Christ on the earth, by re-echoing the divine harmonies of his doctrine through the English-speaking world. It is most important that all our educated laity should be thoroughly imbued with this pure and saving doctrine, in which alone is contained, not only the salvation of the soul, but of sound science, of nations, of society, and of all human interests. We know of no such thorough and perfect interpreter of Pius IX., the infallible teacher of the nations, in the English language, as the Archbishop of Westminster. His writings are those which ought especially to be circulated and read among the educated laity, as the exposition of that truth which is the special antidote to the fatal errors of the times. They are especially suitable for this purpose, because they are the writings of a bishop; and it is to the priests of the church, and especially to the chief priests and pastors, to whom is committed the office not only of teaching the faithful personally, but of giving to the writings of the subordinate clergy and of learned laymen the only canonical sanction which they possess, that the laity are to look for instruction in sound doctrine under the supreme authority of the Holy See. The private opinions of a bishop have, indeed, no more weight than is given them by their argumentative value. This is always very great in the writings of Archbishop Manning, who is accustomed to sustain his positions by a very great force of evidence and reasoning. But a still greater merit of his writings is found in the fact, that he never obtrudes his private opinions as Catholic doctrine, or goes beyond the mark placed by the authority of the church or the common teaching of approved theologians. Not [141] only does he avoid extenuating, but he equally avoids exaggerating statements respecting Catholic doctrine. And, moreover, although of uncompromising strictness in his orthodoxy, and apostolic severity in his language respecting contumacious heretics and rebels against divine authority, he is considerate and gentle towards those whose errors may, in charity, be regarded as excusable. In this respect, his writings are a model for those who undertake the advocacy of the great Catholic truths which are opposed to the errors of the day. May God preserve the worthy successor of the great English cardinal to see the triumph of the church in the land of S. Edward and S. Thomas of Canterbury!

Lenten Thoughts: Drawn from the Gospel for Each Day of Lent. By the Bishop of Northampton. New York: The Catholic Publication Society. 1873.

We recommend this little book to all who wish to spend the season of Lent in conformity with the spirit and intention of the church. The style is simple and chaste; the thoughts are elevated and suggestive. There is, too, an air of serenity and even cheerfulness about the book which we cannot but consider as in perfect accord with the true nature of penance as understood by the church:

“Chords that vibrate sweetest pleasure
Thrill the deepest notes of woe.”

“When you fast, be not as the hypocrites, sad,” says the church to her children on Ash-Wednesday, re-echoing through the ages the words of her divine Spouse.

Meditations for the Use of the Clergy, for Every Day in the Year, on the Gospels for the Sundays. From the Italian of Mgr. Scotti, Archbishop of Thessalonica. Revised and Edited by the Oblates of S. Charles. With a Preface by His Grace the Archbishop of Westminster. Vol. I. From the First Sunday in Advent to the Sixth Saturday after the Epiphany. London: Burns & Oates. 1872. (New York: Sold by The Catholic Publication Society.)

The remaining three volumes of this work, we are told, may be looked for in the course of the present year. The whole will form a manual of meditations for priests to which we have seen nothing comparable. That such a work is needed who will deny? For if any one ought to meditate, it is a priest; and how few books of meditation in our language are at all what he wants! Of the present compilation, then, his grace the Archbishop of Westminster, in his prefatorial letter to his clergy, says: “In dedicating to you this first part of Scotti’s Meditations for the Clergy, I need only add that it is a book held in high esteem at Rome. Having found by the experience of many years its singular excellence, its practical piety, its abundance of Scripture, of the fathers, and of ecclesiastical writers, I have thought that it would be an acceptable and valuable addition to your books of devotion.”

After this recommendation, let us simply express a wish that the work may become known to every priest who speaks the English language. And again let us thank the good Oblate Fathers for one of the most estimable services they have ever done for religion.

S. Anselm’s Book of Meditations and Prayers. Translated from the Latin by M. R. With a Preface by His Grace the Archbishop of Westminster. London: Burns & Oates. 1872. (New York: Sold by The Catholic Publication Society.)

These meditations differ very much from ordinary compositions with that name. They are divided into brief sections, a single one of which will suffice the devout soul for a whole day’s food. There is nothing stiff and formal, nothing meagre, nothing dry. While, together with honeyed colloquies—now with ourself, now with God or the saints—there is a deep philosophy in a very simple guise. We are, therefore, most grateful for such an addition to our devotional literature.

The ‘Old Catholics’ at Cologne. New York: J. A. McGee. 1873

This clever jeu d’esprit is by the brother of Dr. T. W. M. Marshall, who was one of the joint authors of the Comedy of Convocation. It is a little coarse in some parts, too much so for our taste, and in this respect inferior to the famous Comedy, which was unexceptionable in that respect. Nevertheless, it has a great likeness in some of its salient points to that remarkable piece of logical sarcasm. The argument is unanswerable, and very cleverly put; and terrible as the ridicule[142] is which is heaped on the Janus clique, whose final fiasco was made at Cologne, they deserve it richly; for never was there a more absurd as well as detestable little generation of vipers among the whole of the noxious brood of heretics who in various ages have hissed against the decrees of the Œcumenical Councils. We can assure all readers that they will be amused and instructed by this brochure.

Sœur Eugénie: The Life and Letters of a Sister of Charity. Baltimore: J. Murphy & Co. 1873.

The subject of this memoir was a French lady of rank, brought up a Protestant, but converted in early life to the Catholic faith. It is an interesting, edifying, and well-written, as well as beautifully printed, little book, not at all commonplace, but with the freshness of unusual incidents told in the charming style which belongs to modern English literature of the best class.

There is something very attractive in the French character when unperverted by scepticism and frivolity. The energy, zeal, and enthusiasm they throw into their work for God are very captivating to colder natures. And the higher one ascends in the social scale, the more decided, apparently, do these traits become. Whereas, in other nationalities, prosperity and position frequently have a deleterious effect; they often bring a Frenchman’s better qualities into higher relief. In the religious orders, many illustrious examples of this remark may be found—of men brought up in ease and affluence who have adopted the mortified life of missionaries, braved every danger, and courted death itself, if thereby they could win some souls for Christ. The French nuns and Sisters of Charity have also been preeminent, as the unwritten history of the late war alone would demonstrate. The charitable spirit which lies at the foundation of that suavity and grace too often characterized as surface politeness, peculiarly fits them for the delicate and trying duties they assume.

In the subject of this memoir we recognize the same winning characteristics to which we have adverted. Of high birth, she left all which usually attracts youthful ambition for a life of self-abnegation and charity. The name Eugénie, already endeared to thoughtful readers through the Letters and Journal of Mlle. de Guérin (for we learn to appreciate a character full as much through the productions of the subject as by the portrayal of others), will receive new lustre from the memoirs of another saintly wearer. Such a record, though simple, is full of beauty and edification to those who follow in the same path, as well as those whose sphere of duty, though lying in the world, is yet elevated above it.

Truth and Error. By the Rev. H. A. Brann, D.D. New York: D. & J. Sadlier & Co. 1873.

This book is of small size, but on an important subject, viz., the nature and sources of certitude. It is clear, logical, sound, and written in a good style. As an antidote to the wretched, poisonous trash sold under the name of philosophy, which is nothing but methodical scepticism and materialism, this little book must do good if it is read and understood by those who have need of it. The unhappy intellectual vagrants of our day are afflicted with the two great miseries which poor “Jo” complained of: “Not knowing nothink, and starwation.” Jo often sadly muttered to himself, “I don’t know nothink!” Mr. Bain and all that set are so many Joes, repeating for ever, “I don’t know nothink, you don’t know nothink, nobody don’t and nobody can’t know nothink.” The sophist of Königsberg was a Jo of genius, nothing more. Dr. Brann will give a substantial breakfast to any one of these hungry Joes who will read his book.

Aunt Jo’s Scrap-Book. Vol. II. Shawl-Straps. By Louisa M. Alcott, author of Little Women, An Old-fashioned Girl, Little Men, Hospital Sketches. Boston: Roberts Brothers. 1872.

This book is written in a light, trifling, flippant style, which may be very pleasant and appropriate when used to describe certain things, but when applied indiscriminately to all that one sees abroad, it certainly is not agreeable, to say the least of it. Neither is it pleasant, in a book of travels, to find that nothing is considered true, or even worthy of respect, unless the author believes in it. A Mass at S. Mark’s, Venice, is described in this way: “The patriarch was a fat old soul in red silk, even to his shoes and holy pocket-handkerchief; and the service appeared to consist in six purple priests dressing and undressing him like[143] an old doll, while a dozen white-gowned boys droned up in a gold cockloft, and many beggars whined on the floor below.” A visit to the Carthusian Convent, Pavia, calls forth the following comment: “A nice way for lazy men to spend their lives, when there is so much work to be done for the Lord and his poor! Wanted to shake them all round,” etc. In the description of the inundation of parts of the city of Rome we read: “Livy indulged the sinful hope that the pope would get his pontifical petticoats very wet, be a little drowned and terribly scared by the flood, because he spoiled the Christmas festivities,” etc. Victor Emmanuel is spoken of as “the honest man,” with the remark that “that is high praise for a king.” Such expressions as “sullen old gentleman in the Vatican,” “silly Madonna,” and others of the same character, enliven the pages in various places.

We can scarcely believe that this book is from the same pen as Little Women, and we think it would be far better, when one is only willing to see things through their ignorance and prejudices, not to attempt to make others see with their eyes.

God our Father. By a Father of the Society of Jesus, author of The Happiness of Heaven. Baltimore: John Murphy & Co. 1873.

After reading this little book, we felt an ardent desire to tell everybody we had found a treasure. Its title, a rather unusual thing nowadays, is the true exponent of its contents. That God is our Father—our kind, indulgent, beneficent, merciful, loving Father—it proves as we have never seen proved before. We do think, if Voltaire had seen this little treatise, he would not have called God a “tyrant and the father of tyrants,” and he, Voltaire, would not have been a fool and the father of a generation of fools. Some Christians other than Calvinists are accustomed to regard God as a stern judge or an exacting master, ignoring altogether his parental relationship. This way of regarding God not unfrequently produces a morbid spirituality, if not worse. Under its baneful influence, the soul is parched up and rendered incapable of any other sentiment than that of fear. It is true that “fear is the beginning of wisdom”; but it is no less true that “love is the fulfilment of the law” and the sublime summary of the new dispensation. And who can love a being whom he sees only in the light of a stern judge, an exacting master? God, as he is represented in this work, is a being whom you cannot but love. In very truth, the author himself must love much, or he could never write so eloquently of divine love.

To all Catholics who look with a filial confidence to God, and love him as their Father, we recommend this book as a means of strengthening their confidence and increasing their love. To those Catholics, happily few, who see in God only a rigid master, we prescribe the perusal of this work as the best remedy for their dangerous disease. To our separated brethren, who want to get a Christian idea of our common Father, we would respectfully suggest the careful study of this treatise; they will find it sufficiently scriptural and sufficiently simple for their tastes.

We cannot, perhaps, pay the publishers a higher compliment than by saying that the setting is in every way worthy of the gem.

Lectures on the Principal Doctrines and Practices of the Catholic Church. By Cardinal Wiseman. New York: P. O’Shea.

These two volumes belong to the uniform series of Cardinal Wiseman’s works now being issued by Mr. O’Shea, and, as we understand, are printed from the same plates as the one-volume edition heretofore issued by Kelly, Piet & Co.

It is a strong evidence of the permanent interest which attaches to Catholic doctrine—the faith ever ancient, ever new—that these lectures are read now with almost equal avidity with that which greeted their appearance almost forty years ago, while as many weeks suffice to lay on the shelf the productions of many a popular preacher of the day.

This course constituted the Lent at S. Mary’s, Moorfields, in 1836, when the Oxford movement had already acquired considerable headway, and the public mind was alive to the subjects discussed. In view of the audience which he addressed, they were doubtless prepared with great care, and may therefore be considered most favorable specimens of the distinguished author’s style.

One is struck, in looking over Cardinal Wiseman’s works, by the fact of the singular diversity of his gifts, and his preeminence[144] in the varied fields of research and discussion—as if he had made each a specialty. His Lectures on the Connection of Science and Religion, delivered the preceding year, has maintained a position in the front rank of works devoted to that subject, and may be said to have become obsolete only in so far as science has presented new phenomena and discoveries for elucidation; while the present work has remained, to our thinking, the most exhaustive popular exposition of Catholic doctrine in the language. His more elaborate historical and critical essays have attracted marked attention, and been thought worthy of publication in separate volumes, while his distinctively belles-lettres works have enjoyed almost universal favor. His Fabiola confessedly stands at the head of Christian fiction. It is a little remarkable that The Hidden Gem, and one of the most acute critiques of the day upon Shakespeare, should have been the production of one who it is fair to infer scarcely ever-witnessed an acted drama.

The same house has brought out in similar style the Four Lectures on the Offices and Ceremonies of Holy Week by the same author, which we hope will prove a valuable aid to the intelligent participation in the devotions of the present season. The interest in the Lectures is enhanced by the fact that they were delivered at Rome, and relate to the ceremonies in the Papal chapels.

The Catholic Publication Society will publish in a few days, from advance sheets, a new work by the author of My Clerical Friends, entitled Church Defence: Report on the Present Dangers of the Church.

An Error Rectified.

Card of the Editor of The Catholic World.

An error in respect to a matter of Catholic faith into which the author of an article in our last number inadvertently fell, and which escaped my notice until it was too late to make any earlier correction, requires me to make the present explanation. I do it for the sake of the reverend gentleman who first animadverted upon this erroneous statement, and for others at a distance who are not in a position to know personally the utter impossibility of any statement bordering on “Gallicanism” being admitted into The Catholic World with the knowledge of the editor. The passage in question is as follows, and is found on p. 784: “Who can wonder if the Church, in this dire emergency, delegates to one man the power she can no longer collectively exercise in peace?” The mistake of the writer, who is a lay Catholic and not a theologian, is very excusable. The responsibility for the doctrine of the articles published rests exclusively with me, as the editor in the absence of the Very Rev. F. Hecker. If any statement which is contrary to Catholic doctrine or sound theology is allowed to pass in any article, it is by accident, and any reverend gentleman or layman who notices anything of the kind will oblige me by sending a communication to me directly, pointing out the error. Any such communication will receive due attention from myself or from the editor-in-chief, when he is in town and able to attend personally to the duties of his office. In this connection, I take occasion to remark that another worthy clergyman, entirely unknown to me, who has recently expressed himself as aggrieved by the remarks of The Catholic World upon Italy, has wholly misapprehended their intention. The articles on this subject which have appeared have been generally written by myself, or prepared under my direction. I have no hostility except against the wicked party which tyrannizes over the Catholic people of Italy, and would with pleasure have admitted the letter of the Italian missionary, pleading the cause of his country, to the columns of The Catholic World. It is the aim of the editors of The Catholic World to make it Catholic in its spirit and tone of charity and courtesy, as well as orthodox in doctrine, and to remember that it becomes those who profess a special loyalty to the Holy Father to pay attention to all his admonitions, especially to that one in which he gave such an emphatic warning against the violation of charity by those who are very zealous for his authority.

Augustine F. Hewit, C.S.P.




VOL. XVII., No. 98.—MAY, 1873.

Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1873, by Rev. I. T. Hecker, in the Office of the Librarian of Congress, at Washington, D. C.


The question of the origin of species—the question, namely, whether the vegetable and animal species now on the earth, and those which from the study of its strata we know to be extinct, were in the beginning called into existence by the direct creative fiat, and substantially with the forms they now have; or whether they have been developed from other and pre-existing beings with forms essentially different from their own, in obedience to natural law—is one upon which, since Charles Darwin published the first edition of his book upon the subject, now about twelve years ago, much has been said. We may add that the answer given to it by Mr. Darwin has been much misunderstood. It has been misunderstood in itself by those who would not take the trouble to inquire in what its precise merits consisted: how much of certainty, and how much of mere theory, it contained; what facts or series of facts, if admitted, it was incompetent to throw light upon; and whether there were any facts, botanical or zoological, in conflict and irreconcilable with it. It has been misunderstood, too, in its bearings on revelation, and that by two classes of men: on the one hand, by mere scientists, for the reason that they knew nothing of theology, and were therefore not in a way to decide whether the Bible and the theory of development are compatible with each other; and, on the other, by well-intentioned advocates of Christianity, because frequently they knew nothing of science in general—little of this question, and the precise meaning and worth of Darwin’s answer to it in particular. The former have been at fault in asserting that a science—theology, Catholic theology, we mean, is a science—of which they knew nothing did not harmonize with a hypothesis of which they knew perhaps all that is to be known; the latter, in not acknowledging distinctly[146] the grain of truth or of certainty contained in the speculations of Darwin.

The question is an interesting one, and has accordingly called forth a large literature in England, Germany, France, and Italy. Mr. Chapman’s book is, we believe, the only one written in this country, and professedly devoted to the advocacy of the theory that, to use the author’s own words, “the development of the higher forms of life from the lower has been brought about by natural selection, and that man has descended from a lower extinct form of which the gorilla and chimpanzee are the nearest living representatives”—which is Darwinism pure and simple, and which ought to be distinguished from the more general theory of “evolution.” That Mr. Chapman’s book has been published in America, and that we wish to say a few words on the question which it treats, and especially on the bearings of that question on revealed religion, constitute its only claims on our attention; for neither the style of the writer nor the lucidity of his argument, much less its originality, entitles it to any particular notice. The work is a mere compilation, which, however, may be of service to those who desire to possess in a convenient shape the facts, and to examine the nature of the reasoning, by which the Darwinian hypothesis is supported.

When we have said this, and that Mr. Chapman devotes a chapter of his book to the argument from zoology, geology, embryology, etc., respectively, in favor of Darwinism; that these arguments are neither as elegant, scholarly, or cogent as they might be made; that he has followed the materialists of Germany in their version of the theory, and further than there is even the shadow of a warrant to follow it, we have said all that we wish to say about his book, and bestowed upon it the highest praise it is in our power to bestow consistently with truth.

What our views on the Darwinian theory are will appear in the sequel. Here we wish simply to say a few words on certain doctrines drawn from it by Mr. Chapman, or, if not drawn from it, associated with it both by him and others—doctrines which, in our view, are not part and parcel of it because mere assumptions in no way countenanced by facts. Thus, Mr. Chapman desires us expressly to understand that “natural selection,” the meaning of which we will explain in a moment, does not imply the existence of a “natural selector”; and this, without any forced interpretation, may be construed into a profession of atheism. Now, as we will see a little further on, the admission of the Darwinian theory does not necessarily lead to any such conclusion. Again, he informs us, p. 14, that life is only a “physical phenomenon, and that the nervous system produces ideas and all the acts of intelligence”—which is rank materialism. That Mr. Chapman advocates fatalism is no less plain, for he assures us that morality is necessarily progressive. On the last page of his book, he defines morals to be “duty to one’s self.” We confess that we do not understand how he reconciles his assertion that morality is necessarily progressive with his definition of morals. It seems to us that, if necessarily moral, men will necessarily do their duty; or rather, they will have no duty to do, since necessity and duty exclude each other. According to this theory, there can be no distinction between good and evil, and all the crimes that are committed are the necessary consequences of man’s origin. Indeed, the author tells us, p. 180: “Crimes and outrages[147] are committed even among the most civilized, simply, in the words of Mr. Spencer, because man ‘partially retains the characteristics that adapted him for an antecedent state. The respects in which he is not fitted to society are the respects in which he is fitted for his original predatory life. His primitive circumstances required that he should sacrifice the welfare of other beings to his own; his present circumstances require that he should not do so; and in as far as his old attribute still clings to him, in so far he is unfit for the social state. All sins of men against each other, from the cannibalism of the Carib to the crimes and venalities we see around us, have their causes comprehended under this generalization.’”

Now, if all this be so, we cannot see why murder, or robbery, or any other crime, is not perfectly legitimate. If to the exercise of his “old attributes” in the struggle for existence man owes his “survival” and his place among the fittest, in any degree, however small; and if there be nothing in man not produced by natural selection, we cannot see why he should not even now continue the exercise of these “attributes”; in other words, we do not see why any propensity, passion, or inclination originated by the agency of “natural selection,” to the exclusion of all other agencies, cannot legitimately be exercised to the full extent to which “natural selection” has developed it. If man exercises these “attributes” simply in obedience to a law of nature, we should not if we could, nor could we if we would, resist them. If, indeed, these views of morality be correct, then might is right, the Decalogue a code against nature, civilization an abnormal condition for man, and barbarism his only true state.

So much for the atheism, materialism, and fatalism, we do not say of Darwin—for we have reason to believe that that gentleman himself is none of these—but of Mr. Chapman’s version of evolution. There is one very important point, however, on which Mr. Darwin, the man of science, and the compiler, Mr. Chapman, are at one—a point of very great consideration because of its bearings on revelation—the doctrine that the difference between man and the lower animals is not one of “kind,” but of “degree.” We do not wish to argue this point here in full. What we wish to say is that men of the school of Darwin, etc., should be the very last persons in the world to make an assertion of this character, for the reason that they confine our knowledge to appearances, to phenomena. The question, however, whether man and the lower animals differ in “kind” or only in “degree” is not a question of phenomena or appearances: it is a question of noumena, of essence, of reality. We do not grant that even appearances warrant the assertion that man differs from the lower animals in nothing essential. There are appearances which forbid any such conclusion. But we maintain that, whether they so differ or not, Darwin and his school are, by the principles of their philosophy, estopped from asserting that they do or do not. They cannot say that the same phenomena imply the same noumena, the same accidents, the same essence, the same appearances, the same reality, because, to assert the identity of nature of two things, both must be known in what constitutes their essence, whereas these men expressly say that of noumena, reality, or essence nothing can be known.

Mr. Chapman is more a disciple of Haeckel than of Darwin, and follows that gentleman in all his vagaries—a[148] course well calculated to increase rather than decrease the amount of prejudice against what there may be of truth in Darwinism. Among the advocates of this, as of almost all theories, there are extremists. Our author seems to have gone to school to all of them, and swallowed all they told him, no matter how paradoxical, no matter how little proof to substantiate it. On the other hand, of all that has been said against pure Darwinism, not a word has been recorded by Mr. Chapman; and of those who, like Prof. Agassiz, do not agree with Mr. Darwin, or who, like St. George Mivart, have, as we think, dealt his theory blows from which it will not recover, he does not make the smallest mention. Yet it cannot be that Agassiz and Mivart are too small to be noticed by Mr. Chapman. Agassiz is too venerable a name in science to need any demonstration that his opinion on scientific matters is entitled to consideration. Mivart is, we take it, a younger man; yet, if he has not made himself an abiding reputation by what he has the modesty to call his “little book,” the Genesis of Species, he has made a name which must live, if Darwin’s, and Lyell’s, and Huxley’s do; since all these men have found in him a foe worthy of their steel—and the latter of the vials of his wrath.

We would not consider this article complete without a condensed history of the controversy between Mr. Huxley and Mr. Mivart, occasioned by the publication by the latter of his admirable work, the Genesis of Species. We give it here for this, as well as for the reason that it will serve as the best general answer it is in our power to give to Mr. Chapman and other writers of his character.

But first a few remarks on Darwin’s theory. It is only a theory, a mere hypothesis. Mr. Darwin does not pretend to have proved it himself; nor does his advocate, Mr. Huxley, who seems to have taken Mr. Darwin and the Darwinian theory under his special protection, pretend that it is proved.

Bearing in mind that the Darwinian theory is only a hypothesis, we must estimate its value as we estimate that of other hypotheses, viz., by its ability to account for all the facts of which it pretends to be the solution.

The Copernican system of astronomy, for instance, is only a hypothesis; yet, as there is no known astronomical fact absolutely contradictory to it, we accept it as true. If there were only one fact which it did not explain and could not explain; above all, if there were one fact at variance with the hypothesis, the hypothesis must give way, and the fact stand; for one fact is worth a thousand hypotheses, and one fact in cases of this kind, as Mr. Huxley says, as good as five hundred.

Are there, then, any facts which the Darwinian theory of development by natural selection should explain and does not? Mr. Huxley himself says there is one set of such facts—the facts of hybridism; and, as we will presently see, there are a great many others.

To St. George Mivart, a scientist, but more than a scientist, a philosopher in a degree, somewhat of a theologian as well, and therefore a man of greater intellectual grasp than either Darwin or Huxley, we are indebted for the fullest presentation of the facts inexplicable by natural selection that has yet been given to the reading world. This that gentleman has done in his book before referred to, The Genesis of Species.

One of Mr. Mivart’s great merits[149] is that he accords to Mr. Darwin’s theory its full meed of praise. He is a scientific man, and as such a good judge of its merits and demerits, therefore competent to acknowledge the one and point out the other.

We are not at all prejudiced against Mr. Darwin or his theory. We agree entirely with Mr. Mivart that it “is perhaps the most interesting theory, in relation to natural science, which has been promulgated during the present century.” Before pointing out, however, why it is the most interesting theory of the kind, let us see in brief what the Darwinian theory of natural selection is.

In the words of Mr. Mivart it may be stated thus:

1. “Every kind of animal and plant tends to increase in numbers in a geometrical proportion.

2. “Every kind of animal and plant transmits a general likeness with individual differences to its offspring.

3. “Every individual may present minute variations of any kind in any direction.

4. “Past time has been practically infinite.

5. “Every individual has to endure a very severe struggle for existence, owing to the tendency to geometrical increase of all kinds of animals and plants, while the total animal and vegetable population (man and his agency excepted) remains almost stationary.

6. “Thus, every variation of a kind tending to save the life of the individual possessing it, or to enable it more surely to propagate its kind, will in the long run be preserved, and will transmit its favorable peculiarity to some of its offspring, which peculiarity will thus become intensified till it reaches the maximum degree of utility. On the other hand, individuals presenting unfavorable peculiarities will be ruthlessly destroyed. The action of this law of ‘natural selection’ may thus be well represented by the convenient expression, ‘survival of the fittest.’”

Now as to the series of facts which this theory throws light upon. Here they are as enumerated by Mr. Mivart. It explains:

1. Some singular facts “relating to the geographical distribution of animals and plants; as, for example, on the resemblance between the past and present inhabitants of different parts of the earth’s surface.

2. “That often, in adjacent islands, we find animals closely resembling and appearing to represent each other; while, if certain of these islands show signs of more ancient separation, the animals inhabiting them exhibit a corresponding divergence.

3. That “‘rudimentary structures’ also receive an explanation by means of this theory.

4. “That the singular facts of ‘homology’ are capable of a similar explanation.”

5. That “that remarkable series of changes which animals undergo before they attain their adult condition, which is called their process of development, and during which they more or less closely resemble other animals during the early stages of the same process, has also great light thrown on it from the same source.”

6. That “by this theory, and as yet by this alone, can any explanation be given of that extraordinary phenomenon which is metaphorically termed ‘mimicry.’”

To explain in detail the exact import of each of these heads would carry us beyond the limits of a magazine article; and the reader who wishes for more minute and definite information on them we must refer to Mivart’s own book, or to Darwin’s Origin of Species.

Pass we now to those facts which[150] Darwin’s theory is incompetent to explain, and to the arguments against it. Mr. Mivart enumerates them thus:

1. “That ‘natural’ selection is incompetent to account for the incipient stages of useful structures.

2. “That it does not harmonize with the coexistence of closely similar structures of diverse origin.

3. “That there are grounds for thinking that specific differences may be developed suddenly instead of gradually.

4. “That the opinion that species have definite though very different limits to their variability is still tenable.

5. “That certain fossil transitional forms are absent which might have been expected to be present.

6. “That some facts of geographical distribution supplement other difficulties.

7. “That the objection drawn from the physiological difference between ‘species’ and ‘races’ still exists unrefuted.”

Our readers will readily understand that, if species, or rather individual animals, were originated by natural law, and if that law be “natural selection,” the action of “natural selection” must be able to explain not only the production of the animal as a whole, but of its several organs, both when they have reached the point of maximum utility, and at all stages previous thereto.

Mr. Mivart shows that it does not accomplish this; that it does not account for “the incipient stages of useful structures, e. g. the heads of flatfishes, the baleen of whales, vertebrate limbs, the laryngeal structures of the new-born kangaroo, the pedicellariæ of echinoderms”; and thus he established his first charge on purely scientific grounds, as a scientist writing for scientists. The other charges are equally well sustained. It would, however, require the rewriting of Mr. Mivart’s book to follow him through all his facts and arguments, and we must beg again to refer the reader who would study the matter in detail, to the book itself.

Another series of objections brought forward by Mr. Mivart against the same theory is equally well sustained—objections that go to show that “it cannot be applied at least to the soul of man,” as Mr. Darwin has applied it.

Here, again, everyone will see that, if the human soul is not created by God, it, too, must have been gradually evolved from what, for lack of a more convenient term, though not without protest, we must call an animal soul, by the process of natural selection; and therefore there is nothing in man’s soul which was not in the ape’s—the same faculties, moral and intellectual, in kind, different only in degree. This question Mr. Mivart discusses in a separate chapter on “Evolution and Ethics.”

The result of the discussion he thus sums up:

1. “Natural selection could not have produced, from the sensations of pleasure and pain experienced in brutes, a higher degree of morality than was useful; therefore it could have produced any amount of ‘beneficial habits,’ but not an abhorrence of certain acts as impure and sinful.

2. “It could not have developed that high esteem for acts of care and tenderness to the aged and infirm which actually exists, but would rather have perpetuated certain low social conditions which obtain in some savage localities.

3. “It could not have evolved from ape sensations the noble virtues of a Marcus Aurelius, or the loving but manly devotion of a S. Louis.

4. “That it alone could not have[151] given rise to the maxim, Fiat justitia, ruat cœlum.

5. “That the interval between material and formal morality is one altogether beyond its power to traverse.”

Mr. Mivart further shows “that the anticipatory character of moral principles is a fatal bar to that explanation of their origin which is offered to us by Mr. Herbert Spencer”; and “that the solution of that origin proposed recently by Sir John Lubbock is a mere version of simple utilitarianism, appealing to the pleasure or safety of the individual, and therefore utterly incapable of solving the riddle it attacks.”

It is hardly necessary that we should dwell on these points. Our Christian readers need no demonstration of them. Knowing, on the one hand, what Christian morality is, and, on the other, what mere animal behavior, they must know the difference between them, and, knowing this difference, that by no possibility could the one be developed from the other, there being no oneness of kind in them.

Just here we would remark that, in addition to his other arguments, Mr. Mivart might have added that from philology against Darwinism, and with good effect. There are those who, from that science, argue the other way. But, in a series of able articles on “Darwinism and the Science of Language,” the Rev. J. Knabenbauer, S. J., has shown that philology points to a diversity of origin for man and the lower animals.

He argues that the ultimate elements, the roots of all language, are expressive of general ideas. Now, general ideas are the products of the intellectual processes known as abstraction and generalization. Hence, before the formation of roots, before the beginnings of language, man was man, since he could abstract and generalize. Hence, also, language is not a development of animal cries, nor man of the brute, since the brute can neither abstract nor generalize.

Finally, Mr. Mivart shows in his chapter on “Evolution and Theology” that evolution and creation by no means exclude one another; and that a Catholic—Mr. Mivart is a Catholic—may accept the theory of evolution, ancient writers of authority in the church having “asserted abstract principles such as can perfectly harmonize with the requirements of modern science,” and, “as it were, provided for the reception of its most advanced speculations.”

In support of this view, Mr. Mivart quotes from S. Augustine, S. Thomas, Cornelius à Lapide, and refers to the Jesuit Suarez, with the doctrines of all of whom it is perfectly consistent to hold that animal species were created only potentially, potentialiter tantum.

By that we do not mean to insinuate that the naked Darwinian theory is compatible with Catholic faith; but of this more hereafter.

It was not to be expected that Mr. Mivart, in his criticism on Darwinism, would meet with no opponents. He must have expected to be attacked from two quarters, and by two different classes of men: by those committed to the Darwinian hypothesis, in the first place; and, again, by those who value that hypothesis less for its scientific merit than for—as they suppose—its incompatibility with Christian doctrine, and the service they think it might render in the disintegration of the Christian societies. Among the latter we are compelled to class Mr. Huxley, who, if a very good scientist, is, notwithstanding, one of the most arrogant of men.

He replied to Mr. Mivart, and in his reply does neither more nor less[152] than constitute himself the infallible teacher of all mankind, the supreme pontiff of science, empowered to speak with authority on all matters pertaining to religion and philosophy, as well as to anatomy. He has the commendable modesty, even, to tell Catholics what they may believe, and what they must reject. He interprets the Bible for them, expounds the teachings of the Fathers of the church, comments on the schoolmen, all for their benefit; in fact, entirely forgets the good old maxim, “Let the cobbler stick to his last,” and imagines that, because he has learned a considerable amount about brains and stomachs—dead brains and stomachs, for the most part—he can legislate for the Christian world; that anything in heaven or on earth which he cannot weigh or measure, upon which he cannot bring the knife, or the blowpipe, or the spectroscope to bear, does not exist, or exist otherwise than as it takes form in his own by no means humble mind.

In his reply to Mr. Mivart, he virtually passes over all of the latter gentleman’s scientific objections, and fastens on his assertion that evolution is at all compatible with Catholic doctrine.

Mr. Mivart had, as we have seen, referred to Suarez, and that, Mr. Mivart assures us, because, in Mr. Huxley’s words, “the popular repute of that learned theologian and subtle casuist was not such as to make his works a likely place of refuge for liberality of thought.”

Of course Mr. Mivart did not intend to represent Suarez or the other writers we have mentioned above as advocating the very modern doctrine of evolution, but only abstract principles harmonizing with it; and, if anything, broader than it, inasmuch as they are broad enough not only to take in the recent theory of evolution, but any other theory of development which may be yet advocated; yet Mr. Huxley assumed that Mr. Mivart meant to convey the impression that F. Suarez was a Darwinian or a disciple of Herbert Spencer, which he could not well be, having lived some centuries too early to enjoy any such good-fortune. Having erected this theory, Mr. Huxley went, in his “More Criticisms on Darwin,” deliberately to work to demolish it, in doing which he left his way considerably, raising questions on which Mr. Mivart had said nothing whatever, and which in the discussion are wholly irrelevant; as, for instance, the meaning of the word “day” in the first chapter of Genesis, as advocated by some authorities.

Mr. Mivart retorted through the pages of the Contemporary Review, and demonstrated that Suarez was “an opponent of the theory of a perpetual direct creation of organisms,” and “that the principles of scholastic theology are such as not to exclude the theory of development, but rather to favor it.” He quoted again from Suarez, to show that that writer, treating of the opinion that individuals of kinds like the mule, leopard, lynx, etc., must have been created from the beginning, expressed the view that the contrary seemed to him more probable, thus asserting the principle that those kinds of animals which are potentially contained in nature need not be supposed to be directly and immediately created. More than this, Mr. Mivart shows that the same authority recognizes the possibility that certain organisms may be originated directly from the inorganic world by cosmical influences.

Our readers already know what were the views of S. Augustine on this matter. Mr. Mivart shows that other theologians besides S. Thomas, such as S. Bonaventure, Albertus Magnus,[153] Denis the Carthusian, Cardinal Cajetan, Melchior Canus, Bannes, Vincentius Contenson, Macedo and Cardinal Noris, Tosti, Serri, “and others down to the present day,” agree with S. Augustine in his views on the question we are considering.

The great result—the only result in which we feel especially interested—of this controversy was the bringing into clearer light the fact that the kernel of truth contained in Darwinism or in evolution is not at variance with revelation, as indeed it cannot be and be true. This is what Mr. Huxley has done for the church.

Of Mr. Huxley’s treatment of his opponent’s objections on the score of morality we have nothing to say which would be of the least service to our readers.

Remains the question: How far may a Catholic accept the special Darwinian theory or the doctrine of evolution? Mr. Mivart asserts that a miraculous origin of the body of man is not necessary; that it might have been evolved from that of some lower being by natural law. Darwinians and evolutionists generally maintain an analogous origin for the human soul. Is there anything in this contrary to revelation?

We have not space, if we had the ability, to go into a lengthy examination of this question. Nor is there any reason that we should. It has already received the attention of able Catholic writers, and we can do no better than give the results of their investigation. They have shown[48] that, with respect to all organisms lower than man, the doctrine of the fathers is that Catholic faith “does not prevent any one from holding the opinion that life, both vegetable and animal, was in the world in germ at its creation, and afterwards developed by regular process into all the various species now on the earth”; therefore, that “all living things up to man exclusively were evolved by natural law out of minute life-germs primarily created, or even out of inorganic matter,” is an opinion which a Catholic may consistently hold if he thinks fit so to do.

As to the question of the body of man, the same writers have shown, and we take it to be the safer opinion—in which, perhaps, we differ from Mr. Mivart—“that to question the immediate and instantaneous (or quasi-instantaneous) formation by God of the bodies of Adam and Eve—the former out of inorganic matter, the latter out of the rib of Adam—is at least rash, and probably proximate to heresy.”

That the human soul was specially and separately created is an article of Catholic faith.

There is not a fact in science at variance with these views of the origin of the body of man and of the human soul. Even Mr. Wallace—to whom the credit of pointing out the influence of “natural selection” in modifying organic beings belongs by right of a title not less valid than that of Mr. Darwin—believes, and he has reason to believe, in the action of an overruling Intelligence in the production of “the human form divine”; and that, in view of man’s special attributes, “he is, indeed, a being apart”—not, therefore, evolved, either as to his body or his soul, from any inferior organism. When a man like Mr. Wallace holds such a view, we may rest assured that the facts in the case do not require any one to hold the contrary. Let us now endeavor to sum up the results in relation to the Darwinian theory and the bearings thus far obtained:

1. The tendency of every kind of animal and plant to increase in geometrical[154] progression, and to transmit a general likeness with individual differences, as well as to present minute variations of any kind in any direction, the great length of past time, the struggle of animals and plants for existence, and the preservation and intensification of favorable variations, are facts on which the theory is based.

We accept these facts.

2. We do not accept the theory, because, although it throws light on some facts, there are others with which it is not compatible; and because those even on which it does throw light do not require us to accept it.

3. There is nothing in the Darwinian theory, or in the more general theory of evolution countenanced by facts bearing on the development of life, which a Catholic may not accept, if he wishes so to do.

4. The teaching of Darwinism as to the origin of man’s body is probably next to heretical. At all events, the only safe opinion is that it was not evolved from the body of a lower being, but was directly and quasi-instantaneously created by God.

5. Its teaching concerning the origin of the human soul is in direct and irreconcilable contradiction with an article of Catholic faith.

6. There is—apart from revealed doctrine—an absolute scientific certainty of the truth of that same doctrine respecting the creation of the human soul, and the highest probability of the immediate creation of the human body.

So much for the facts, so much for the theory, so much for its bearings on revelation.

In all we have said, we do not wish to be understood as advocating the Darwinian theory, even in so far as it does not conflict with Catholic faith, nor as committing ourselves to the general doctrine of evolution. The fact is, we do not care as Catholics to pledge ourselves hastily to any hypothesis whatever. We know some little of the history of hypotheses, and we know that it has been a history of failures.

When the Darwinian hypothesis or the theory of evolution shall have stood the test of years and facts, and the most searching investigations, let the Catholics who will be then alive accept them. There is no special reason why we should profess our faith in them. We do not need them to account for the phenomena about us.

On the other hand, we can readily understand why a certain class of minds should subscribe to it.

The human mind naturally seeks for an explanation of the origin of things. Intelligent men know the human race has not always been on the earth, that the phenomena about us are not eternal, that animal and vegetable life must have had a beginning here. Catholics know the same, and knew it before science had demonstrated it or discovered its minutiæ.

Men who wish to get rid of God welcome any hypothesis which seems to remove him to a greater distance from them, even before that hypothesis has more in its favor than against a it. Catholics, who believe in God, have no such anxiety. They are willing to wait, since they have already an explanation of the origin of things in their belief in God, and in the teachings of his revelation that he in the beginning created the heavens and the earth, and all that they contain. The minutiæ, the How of that creation, they leave it to science to discover. When discovered and proved, they will accept it. But science can never give them anything not contained in the first article[155] of the Creed: “I believe in God the Father Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth.” All it can do is to explicate and confirm this.

If it be objected that scientists accept the theory, and that we therefore should, we reply, mere scientists do; and of all men, the least safe of guides is the mere scientist. No other man is more apt to become a blind worshipper of the idols of the Cave. He confines himself within the narrow limits of his laboratory, among instruments of death, and then would excogitate a solution to the problems of life and of the universe; as if with bolts and screws he could wring from nature the secret it will not yield.

Goethe well knew that from such men we need not expect the answer to the riddle of the universe; that one glance at the world as a whole as it lies bathed in the sun on a summer’s day tells us more than all the tomes of philosophers.

“Ah me! this dungeon still I see,
This drear, accursed masonry,
Where even the welcome daylight strains
But darkly through the painted panes,
Hemmed in by many a toppling heap
Of books worm-eaten, gray with dust,
Which to the vaulted ceiling creep,
Against the smoky paper thrust,
With glasses, boxes, round me stocked,
And instruments together hurled,
Ancestral lumber stuffed and packed:
Such is my world: and what a world!
And do I ask wherefore my heart
Falters, oppressed with unknown needs?
With some inexplicable smart
All movement of my life impedes?
Alas! in living nature’s stead,
Where God his human creature set
In smoke and mould, the fleshless dead
And bones and beasts surround me yet!”

And although we can see some force in the general theory of evolution, we cannot accept it till it settles its account with the principle on which the whole inductive method is raised—the constancy of the laws of nature.

The theory of evolution strikes, it seems to us, at the very root of this principle. It proclaims that there is not and has never been any constancy in nature. It devours all other law, or rather destroys it. It means simply change. Permanency, constancy, and their synonymes are opposed to it; and thus the theory of evolution must invalidate all the sciences which are founded on the assumption that nature is constant; in other words, that it does not change, does not evolve. The definition of evolution given by Mr. Spencer makes it simply a change. True, he states the method or law of that change. But the method is discovered by induction. Induction is in turn annihilated by evolution. The fabric as it rises loses its foundation, and floats in the air, a baseless vision.

But if we are in no haste to yield assent to Darwinism or evolution in general; as applied to man’s soul by advocates like Spencer or Chapman, we reject it in toto. It is incompetent to account for the facts, nay, in glaring contradiction to them.

We take our stand against man’s relation to the ape on facts as undeniable as any the zoologist or anatomist advances in its favor. These compare man’s body and the ape, and find no very great superiority of the one over the other as they lie recently dead on the anatomist’s table. Let the two lie there only a little longer, and none at all will be discoverable. A little dust which the winds of heaven will soon scatter to the four points of the compass is all that will be left of either. Shall we therefore infer their oneness of kind? By no means.

We know that man is in some respects not unlike the ape in form; but we know, too, that there are Godlike faculties in man which are not in the ape. We know this, and we know, moreover, that the philosopher through whose brain roll vast choruses of thought; who stands on the[156] heights of Christian philosophy and human speculation, and discourses on death and immortality; who, from the eminence to which Christianity has raised him, looks down, not with indifference and not with contempt, but with deep serenity, on the little loves and little hates of the world, because conscious of his eternal destiny—we know, we have an intuition, which we trust more than we trust Darwin and Huxley, that this philosopher is more than a developed ape.

And when the anatomist tells us there is little anatomical difference between man and the ape, therefore between man as man and the ape as ape there is little difference or a difference only of degree, we reply: Between man and the ape, between a Newton or even a savage and a monkey, there is, in the intellectual order, a vast difference, an infinite difference. This we take as the fact, and draw the conclusion that the amount of anatomical difference between a monkey and a man is no criterion or measure of the real difference.

We treat the argument from embryology in the same way. Because at a certain stage in its development the human embryo cannot be distinguished from that of certain of the lower animals, we are assured that man differs from these only in degree. We grant the fact, we reject the inference; and we reason: notwithstanding you can detect no difference at certain stages between the two, time develops one so great that the one may become a Shakespeare, the other becomes only a Shakespeare’s dog. What follows? Simply this: that there is a something in the human embryo which is not in the other—a something which the sense cannot detect, but the existence of which the mind may infer; that there is more of life than the embryologist can find out by his methods, as there is more of the rose than is found in its ashes—more of life than we would be apt to see in a dissecting-room or a charnel-house.

No; whatever force the special Darwinian theory may have to the student of animal life, to the student of man as an animal, it can have very little to him who views man in his higher manifestations. Whatever else it may account for, it never can throw any light on the facts of man’s moral nature. It never can explain the origin of a being who believes in purity or pity.

Let the Darwinian, indeed, explain, if he can, how, if man owes his existence and his development, physical, moral, and mental, to success in the struggle for existence—in other words, to natural selection—and this success, in turn, to the exercise of the selfish or combative faculties, or to both combined—faculties which, according to this theory, he must have exercised, his present and previous states taken together, for ages unnumbered—so long, indeed, that they ought to have grown into uncontrollable instincts—and which are the only ones he can have exercised from the beginning, to which, therefore, as the most imperious, all others should be subordinate—let him, we say, explain who can how this tendency to battle, inherited through infinite ages, has not taken complete possession of man, nor caused his life to be a continual strife with his fellows; let him explain how, instead of all this, there are men who have learned, not to hate, but to love their enemies, to compassionate the weak, the poor, and the lowly, to nurse the sick and the dying, to care even for the dead; nay, how it comes that there are men who are guided by the sublime command: “Love them that hate you, bless them that curse you, pray for them that persecute[157] and calumniate you”; or, further yet, how, in spite of the exercise of the selfish and combative faculties, in the struggle for existence, the tendency of which must have been to strengthen by use the organs of destruction, the same organs should gradually disappear, and that in man not one of them should be left.

Let him explain, again, how out of mere animality, by “natural selection,” out of the mere brute, in a “struggle for existence,” beings should come—men to whom this would be a law: Be pure; for “he that looketh after a woman to lust after her hath already committed adultery with her in his heart.” There are such men—men to whom this is a law, and who obey it. Will a Vogt or a Büchner believe it? Will a Darwin account for it by “natural selection”?

Finally, let him explain how, if man has always been only growing out of some lower condition, he has yet learned, in a measure, to go beyond himself, to harbor an ideal which he has never reached, but towards which he ever strives, inasmuch as he endeavors to fulfil the command of the Son of God: “Be ye perfect, as my heavenly Father also is perfect.”


This supplication of the Suffering was that also of the Militant Church, which daily offered it as now with sighs and tears, and, by the light which this reflection casts on history, we can catch a glimpse for an instant at the immense multitude of the pacific men who in the middle ages were existing upon earth; for as many as were joined in spirit to the church, were united with her in this ardent, insatiable desire of peace. How do we know that the Catholic Church, which the holy Fathers call the house of peace, was so profoundly attached to peace? From a simple review of her liturgy: for in the first place, her great daily sacrifice itself was nothing else but the mystery of peace, the pledge of future and eternal, the diffusion of present peace to man. At this holy and tremendous celebration in which God hath given peace reconciling the lowest with the highest in himself, the good of temporal peace was also formally invoked, at the Gloria, at the Te igitur, at the spreading of the hands before the consecration, at the Libera nos at the salutation of the people, at the Agnus Dei, at the three prayers which follow it, and in the prayer for the king; for as the apostle assigns the reason for the latter, that we may lead a secure and peaceable life, so with that intention the holy church prays for all rulers, even for such as are transgressors of the divine law;[49] which intention is formally expressed in her solemn litany, where she prays that kings and Christian princes may have peace and true concord, and all the people peace and unity. The innumerable priests, who celebrated throughout the earth, knew that the inestimable price of the world, and the great Victim for the salvation of men, could only be immolated in a spirit of peace, and with a contrite heart; and that, as Peter of Blois says, it is never lawful to offer it without that preparation.[50]Digby, Mores Catholici.




In this Canto, Dante introduces the souls of Nino Visconti, judge of Gallura in Sardinia; and of Conrad Malaspina, who predicts to the poet his banishment.

‘Twas now the hour that brings to men at sea,
Who in the morn have bid sweet friends farewell,

Fond thoughts and longing back with them to be;
And thrills the pilgrim with a tender spell

Of love, if haply, new upon his way,
He faintly hear a chime from some far bell,

That seems to mourn the dying of the day;
When I forbore my listening faculty

To mark one spirit uprisen amid the band
Who joined both palms and lifted them on high

(First having claimed attention with his hand)
And towards the Orient bent so fixed an eye

As ‘twere he said, “My God! on thee alone
My longing rests.” Then from his lips there came

Te lucis ante, so devout of tone,
So sweet, my mind was ravished by the same

The others next, full sweetly and devout,
Fixing their gaze on the supernal wheels,

Followed him chanting the whole Psalm throughout.

Now, reader, to the truth my verse conceals

Make sharp thy vision; subtle is the veil
So fine ‘twere easily passed through unseen.

I saw that gentle army, meek and pale,
Silently gazing upward with a mien

As of expectancy, and from on high
Beheld two angels with two swords descend

Which flamed with fire, but, as I could descry,
They bare no points, being broken at the end.

Green robes, in hue more delicate than spring’s
Tender new leaves, they trailed behind and fanned

With gentle beating of their verdant wings.
One, coming near, just over us took stand,

Down to th’ opponent bank the other sped,
So that the spirits were between them grouped

Full well could I discern each flaxen head;
But in their faces mine eyes’ virtue drooped,

As ‘twere confounded by excess and dead.
“From Mary’s bosom they have both come here,”

[159]Sordello said—“this valley to protect
Against the serpent that will soon appear:”

Whence I, unknowing which way to expect
This object, turned me, almost froze with fear,

And to those trusty shoulders closely clung.
Again Sordello: “Go we down and see

These mighty shades, and let them hear our tongue:
Thy presence will to them right gracious be.”

Only three steps I think brought me below
Where one I noticed solely eyeing me

As if who I might be he fain would know.
‘Twas dusk, yet not so but the dusky air,

Between his eyes and mine, within the dell,
Showed what before it did not quite declare.

Towards me he moved, and I towards him as well:
Gentle Judge Nino, when I saw thee there

What joy was mine to find thee not in hell!
We left unsaid no form of fair salute:

Then he inquired: “How long since thou didst come
O’er the far waters to the mountain’s foot?”

“O but this morn,” said I, “the realms of gloom
I passed: in the first life I am, but fain

Would find the next by following on this track.”
Like to men suddenly amazed, the twain,

He and Sordello, hearing this, drew back.
One looked at Virgil, one into the face

Of a companion sitting there, and cried,
“Up, Conrad! see what God hath of his grace

Bestowed,” then turning unto me replied:


“By that especial reverence, I beseech,

Which thou ow’st him whose primal way is hid
So that none sound it, if soe’er thou reach

The shore beyond the vasty waters, bid
My child Giovanna for my peace implore

There where the cry of innocents heaven heeds.
Her mother I am sure loves me no more

Since she put off her widow’s paly weeds,
But in her misery fain would wear this day.

From her full readily may one be taught
How soon love’s flame in woman dies away

If sight or touch full oft relume it not.
The chanticleer upon Gallura’s shield

Had graced her sepulchre with fairer show
Than will that viper, which to battle-field

Marshals the men of Milan.” With such glow
He uttered this as in his face revealed

[160]The heart’s just passion smouldering yet below.

Still that sole part of heaven I fondly eyed
Where the stars move, even as a wheel doth move

More slowly next the axle. Said my Guide:
“Son, what dost thou so gaze at there above?”

“Up there! at yon three torches,” I replied,
“Whose splendor makes this pole here all ablaze.”

And he to me: “The four clear stars that rose
This morn before thee have abased their rays,

And these have mounted in the place of those.”
While thus he spake, Sordello to his side

Drew Virgil, and exclaimed: “Behold our Foe!”
And pointed to the thing which he descried.

And where that small vale’s barrier sinks most low
A serpent suddenly was seen to glide,

Such as gave Eve, perchance, the fruit of woe.
Through flowers and herbage came that evil streak,

To lick its back oft turning round its head,
As with his tongue a beast his fur doth sleek.

I was not looking, so must leave unsaid
When first they fluttered, but full well I saw

Both heavenly falcons had their plumage spread.
Soon as the serpent felt the withering flaw

Of those green wings, it vanished, and they sped
Up to their posts again with even flight.

The shade who had approached the judge when he
Accosted him, had never moved his sight

Through this encounter, looking fixed on me.


“So may that light,” the spirit began to say,
“Which leads thee up, find in thine own free will

Sufficient wax to last thee all the way,
Even to th’ enamelled summit of the Hill.

If thou true news of Val di Magra know’st,
Or of those parts, inform me of the same,

For I was mighty once upon that coast,
And Conrad Malaspina was my name.

Not the old lord, but his descendant, I:
The love which once I to my kindred bore

Is here refined.” “O,” thus I made reply,
“That realm of yours I never travelled o’er;

But where throughout all Europe is the place
That knows it not? The honor Fame accords

Your house illustrates not alone the race,
But makes the land renowned as are its lords;

He knows that country who was never there:
Still the free purse they bear, and still bright swords

[161]So mount my soul as this to thee I swear!
Custom and nature privilege them so,

That, if through guilt the world’s guide lead astray,
They in the path of right straightforward go

Sole of all men, and scorn the evil way.”
To these my words, “Now go,” the spirit said,

For the sun shall not enter seven times more
That part of heaven where Aries o’er his bed

Stretches and spreads his forked feet all four,
Ere this thy courtesy’s belief shall be

Nailed in the middle of thy head with nails
Of greater force than men’s reports to thee

If, unimpeded, Judgment’s course prevails.






The following morning, Rasumowski sat with his guests at a sumptuous breakfast in his elegant summer-house, the roof of which rested upon beautifully ornamented pillars. Adolph von Sempach appeared very sad; for he had again received evidences of Alexandra’s indomitable pride and want of feeling. Beck remarked the disposition of his friend, and he thought with satisfaction of the deeply afflicted mother in her lonely palace at Posen.

“Some years ago, the emperor emancipated the serfs—did he act prudently?” asked the high official of Berlin.

“Whatever the czar does, is well done,” answered the governor; “and if the future czar again introduces the former system of servitude, that also will be right. But you must not understand the abolition of servitude in a literal sense. The serfs; were freed only from servitude to the nobility; the Russian nobility have lost by it. But both peasant and noble will always remain slaves of the emperor. Consequently servitude still exists in Russia, the same kind that you desire to establish in the new German Empire. Ah! there comes the Roman Catholic pastor!” exclaimed the governor, his features assuming at once their accustomed look of ferocity. “Now, gentlemen, see how I shall deal with this hero of liberty, who preaches rebellion to the people!”

The pastor timidly approached the Russian dignitary, and allowed himself to be treated in a manner unworthy of his priestly dignity.

But the priest had seen many thousands of his Catholic brethren put to death and transported to Siberia. He knew that, by a stroke of the pen, Rasumowski could doom him to the same fate; and to this must also be added the fact that in Poland Catholic clergyman are educated by professors appointed by the Russian government. These professors very naturally train and discipline the[162] seminarians according to the commands of a government hostile to the Roman Catholic religion. Solid theological learning and a proper appreciation of the dignity of the priesthood are not sufficiently esteemed, for which reason we must make allowances for the cringing deportment of the village pastor.

After having made a low reverence before the governor, the latter rudely accosted him by saying, “Have you your sermon with you?”

“It is at your service, your honor,” replied the priest, taking with trembling hands from his pocket a written sheet of paper, which he handed to the governor.

Rasumowski began to read, while now and then a sign of contempt or a shade of anger would spread itself over his face.

“By the heavens above me! pastor, this is incredible; in your sermon there is not one word said about his most high majesty the emperor! What is the meaning of this? Do you wish to go to Siberia?”

The priest shook like an aspen-leaf.

“Pardon me, your honor, pardon me!” stammered the priest. “I preached, as your honor may condescend to see, not about the most high emperor, but concerning Jesus Christ, the Saviour of the world, who has redeemed men through his death upon the cross, and has freed them from the servitude of Satan.”

“Bah!—Saviour of the world—nonsense!” interrupted the governor. “You must always preach about the most high the emperor. Your remarks about the Saviour of the world are altogether superfluous. And then,” he continued, with a threatening frown, “in your sermon you repeatedly use words not approved of by the government; that is, freedom and servitude. You must never again use such expressions, for, if you do—remember Siberia!”

“Pardon, your honor! My intention was to show the people that we must obey God from motives of gratitude.”

“That, again, is nonsense!” exclaimed the governor. “If God wishes the people to obey him, let him march his soldiers against the disobedient. Our first duty is to the emperor; this you must preach to your parishioners!”

He rang the bell, which was immediately answered by a Cossack.

“Bring me a sheet of official paper, and the pen and ink!” said Rasumowski to the servant. “Now, listen, pastor, to what I say! If you again preach upon liberty or servitude, you will be sent to Siberia; for in the holy Russian Empire there is neither freedom nor servitude; and, in order that you may become a practical preacher, you must preach for a whole year on nothing else but on the kindness, mildness, glory, wisdom, power, and benevolence of the emperor, but, above all, on the strict obligation of unconditional obedience due to him. Will you do this?”

“At your honor’s command,” replied the intimidated priest.

Rasumowski wrote upon a sheet of paper which bore the printed superscription: “Police Notice.” He then read aloud what he had written: “In this church the only topic to be preached upon for a whole year is on the high qualities of the emperor, and on the obligations of his subjects to him.”

He then folded the paper, and gave it to the priest.

“That your congregation may be informed of my command,” said he, “you must nail this police notice upon the church door. Now go!”

Before the priest had left the garden,[163] the Berlin official burst into a loud laugh.

“Oh! this is sublime!” he exclaimed. “I must confess that you have these priests under splendid subjection. The Russian method is admirable, and must be introduced into the new German Empire.”

“My opinion,” said the professor, in a tone of indescribable sarcasm, “is that this Russian method is even excelled by the Prussian. The governor has not forbidden the pastor to preach, he has simply given him matter for his sermons; but upon the doors of several churches in certain cities of Prussia police notices are placed, which forbid preaching altogether; and not only preaching, but even the hearing of confessions and the celebration of Mass. I think, therefore, that we have surpassed the Russians.”

“That is so,” replied Herr Schulze; “but the order of which you speak is unfortunately directed only against the Jesuits.”

“It is all the same,” answered Beck. “Catholic preaching, the holy Mass, and confession were forbidden. The war of destruction is not made solely against the Jesuits, but against the church.”

“You are correct, professor!” answered Schulze. “Do you know Dr. Friedberg, of Leipzig?”

“Not personally,” replied Beck; “but I am familiar with some of his writings.”

“Well,” continued Schulze, “Dr. Friedberg is Bismarck’s most faithful adviser and assistant in the combat against the ultramontanes, who are so hostile to the empire. Friedberg has lately published a work in which he expressly says that war is to be made not on the Jesuits alone, but on the whole Catholic Church, and that this war must be energetically carried out.”

“Without reference to Dr. Friedberg’s pamphlet,” said Beck, “it is clearly evident to every man of judgment, that the destruction of the Catholic Church is the one thing aimed at. It is really amusing to see how opinions change. Some years ago, the liberal press spoke of the Catholic religion with the greatest disrespect and contempt. The Pope was a feeble old man, and Catholicity tottering to its fall; it was, in fact, not only lifeless, but even unfit to live. To-day, however, this same liberal press proclaims the very reverse. The Pope is now so dangerous that Bismarck is already using every effort to secure at the next election of a pope a man who has what is popularly called extended views, and who will make very little use of the extraordinary powers of his office. It has become evident to the liberals that Catholicity is by no means a worn-out, dead thing, but that it is to be feared and is strong enough even to overthrow the new German Empire.”

“You make the newspapers of too much consequence,” replied Schulze. “Our journalists write under great restrictions, of course; but they are well paid for their work, and cost us a great deal of money. Bismarck’s organ, The North-German General Gazette, alone costs the empire every year over twenty thousand dollars. Bismarck, nevertheless, has a very low opinion of newspaper-writers; he calls them, as is well known, his swine-herds. You cannot, however, deny the fact, professor, that the Catholic Church is hostile to the empire.”

“If you ask me as an historian, Herr Schulze, I must contradict some of your assertions,” said Beck. “The Catholic Church is a spiritual power, but is not hostile to the empire, as far as the new empire aspires after the liberal development of noble[164] ideas. Culture, freedom, civilization, true humanity, are children of the Catholic Church. As you know, Herder, our great writer, has said: ‘Without the Catholic Church, Europe would have become in all probability the prey of despots, the theatre of perpetual discord and strife, or else a vast desert.’ If, however, the new German Empire intends to introduce a Russian form of government, and with it servitude and the knout, then, of course, the Catholic Church will fearlessly manifest her displeasure.”

The governor and Herr Schulze opened their eyes, and gazed with astonishment and suspicion upon the daring speaker.

“Do not forget,” remarked Von Sempach, “that my friend speaks only from a historical standpoint.”

“On the whole you are right, Herr Beck!” exclaimed the governor. “The Catholic Church confuses the minds of the people by preaching about liberty, about being the children of God, about the dignity of man, and all such absurdities. The Pope and his priests make their people proud, obstinate, and rebellious, and difficult to manage. Mark my prediction, Herr Schulze: you cannot introduce the Russian form of government into Germany until Catholicity is exterminated.”

“We will rid ourselves of it,” said Schulze confidently. “The Jesuits are already expelled, and now we are using stringent measures to suppress their kith and kin—that is, all the orders and convents—so that we shall gradually have the Catholic Church under the same subjection as it is in Russia. And have you noticed, gentlemen, how quietly all has been effected? The Jesuits were sent away without the least opposition on the part of the Catholics; the riot at Essen was only the demonstration of a few workmen.”

“There was, however, great excitement among the liberals,” replied Von Sempach; “for, when the German religious were innocently proscribed and forcibly driven from their homes, the national liberals applauded and cried out ‘Bravo!’”

“If you imagine, Herr Schulze,” said Beck, “that the patient endurance of Catholics in witnessing the expulsion of their priests is not dangerous, you deceive yourself. Their manner of combat, however, is a very singular one. Recourse to arms, or rebellion against authority, is forbidden them by their religion; but history teaches that the weapons employed by the Catholic Church have proved most disastrous to all her enemies. And it is to me as clear as the sun at noon-day that, in consequence of this persecution of the church, the German Empire will succumb.”

“You speak in riddles, Herr Beck!” said Schulze. “What do you mean when you speak of the Catholic manner of combat?”

“That which is, in fact, the very essence of Catholicity,” answered the professor. “Catholics believe that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is the founder of their church; they know that God will never abandon his church, because he has promised to abide always with her. Since they are forbidden to conspire and rebel, they have recourse to prayer, and they pray to Almighty God to keep his word—in my opinion, a very dangerous mode of combat; for no power, not even that of the new German Empire, can stand against the Lord. And it is a remarkable truth that the Catholics, for over 1,800 years, have conquered all their oppressors. If Bismarck should commence to boil and roast Catholics, as did Nero and other cruel tyrants who persecuted them for three hundred years, he[165] would meet with the same fate that befell the pagan emperors of Rome.”

“What you say, professor, is no doubt incontrovertible, for the facts are historical,” replied Schulze. “We do not, however, intend, for the present, to either boil or roast Catholics, and it is not even necessary to adopt such severe measures. If the liberal government once gets undisputed control of all the academies and public schools, Catholicity must naturally die out.”

“Another deception, Herr Schulze,” replied Beck. “The apostate Emperor Julian, fifteen hundred years ago, adopted this very plan of exterminating Catholics. He established infidel instead of Christian schools; but the Emperor Julian perished, together with his empire, while the Catholic Church still exists, and is the terror of her enemies.”

“We have heard enough!” exclaimed the governor. “We will not deny the assertion of our learned friend. The Catholics in the new German Empire can suffer and pray, and look for assistance from above, until they say their dying prayer, as they do in Poland.”

From the eyes of the professor there shone a brilliant ray of light.

“You are mistaken, Governor Rasumowski,” said he; “not Catholic Poland, but the Russian Empire, is saying its dying prayer.”

If lightning had come down from heaven, it would not have made a greater impression upon the Russian when he heard Beck’s remark.

“You seem astonished, governor,” said the professor. “Are you really ignorant of what a volcano the Russian Empire is standing upon? I have made diligent inquiries upon the subject, and know something of the interior dissensions that prevail in Russia. The present emperor is also aware of it; for his father, when dying, admonished him, saying: ‘Soucha (that is, Alexander), take care, lest thou become the Louis XVI. of Russia!’ Excuse my candor, and permit me to wish you good-morning, as I intend to accompany my friend to the city.”

The two young men walked through the garden, followed by the angry looks of the Prussian and the Russian.

Severe weather prevailed for some days. Excursions into the country were out of the question. Schulze visited the public institutions of the city, which were managed according to the Russian system.

One day, Von Sempach found the professor busily writing in his room.

“Are you taking notes, Edward?”

“I am collecting important Russian items to send to Bolanden, that he may use them for the good of the German people, and for the benefit of other nations, who do not desire to be governed according to the Russian mode.”

“I protest against it,” replied Von Sempach. “I have no desire to figure in a novel.”

“Do not excite yourself, my dear Adolph! Bolanden will change our names, and perhaps call the gentleman from Berlin Schulze. How is Alexandra?”

The young man sighed heavily, and seemed greatly distressed.

“I wish that I had never known her!” said he; “for I can tell you, in confidence, that a deformed soul dwells in her beautiful body. Her pride is insufferable, her want of feeling repulsive; in fact, she is utterly devoid of those amiable qualities of heart and mind which a woman must possess in order to make a happy home.”

“She is the child of a Russian governor, who, by means of the pleti and Siberia, keeps in subjection the[166] serfs of the divine emperor,” replied Beck. “I told Schulze and the governor my real opinion in regard to the decayed condition of the empire of the czar, and yet I was very temperate in my language; I should have added that Almighty God also is the arbiter of nations, and suffers the continuance of Russian barbarities only to show how deeply empires can sink, and how wicked men can become, when an emperor has unlimited command in church and state. The same result will take place in Germany, if she takes Russia as her model.”

“I hope you will not use such expressions before Rasumowski,” said Adolph warningly.

“No; we must not cast the pearls of truth before swine, for they would perhaps attack us with their Cossacks and the pleti!”

“Why do you jest?” said Adolph. “The discoveries I have made concerning Alexandra’s real nature have made me very sad. Why must I bind myself for ever to such a creature?”

“Reason and the desire for true happiness forbid it!” answered the professor. “You are free, and not a Russian serf. Act like a man; destroy the magic charm which her fatal beauty has woven around you. My travelling-bag is ready, let us go back to your dear mother Olga. I am disgusted with everything in this corrupt, stupid Russian Empire.”

The servant of Von Sempach now announced dinner. As the two friends entered the dining-room, Schulze, with an air of triumph, held out a newspaper.

“Herr Beck, you cannot say now that the Germans are unwilling to adopt the Russian form of government,” he exclaimed. “Here, read The Cross Gazette. You remember what trouble we had with reference to the village of huts which some miserable and poverty-stricken wretches had built outside the gates of Berlin. Well, these huts have been all removed, according to the Russian method.”

“So I understand!” said the professor, who had read the article. “The Cross Gazette announces that the President of Police, Herr von Madai, had given orders to several hundred policemen and soldiers to take down, in the night from Monday to Tuesday, the collection of huts outside of the Landsberg-gate; the poor settlers, who were roused from their sleep, were driven away without difficulty, although the men murmured, and the women and children wept; but there was otherwise no disturbance or resistance. What a fine contribution to the history of the new German Empire!” added Beck.

“Is it not also stated,” asked Adolph, whose face was glowing with indignation, “that the humanity on which they pride themselves held the torch while the sorrowing women and children were driven from their wretched homes into the cold, dark night?”

“Why, Von Sempach, do not be so sentimental!” exclaimed the governor. “Be like a Russian, who wastes very little time or sympathy on such occasions.”

Dinner was served. Alexandra had never appeared more lovely; her toilet was exquisite. She had remarked the serious deportment of her betrothed; for she made use of every species of blandishment in order to regain possession of his heart.

But something happened which brought matters to a crisis.

The dessert had just been laid, when a servant of the governor handed him an official paper. He had only read a few lines, when a grim smile diffused itself over his face.


“I have a surprise for you, gentlemen!” said he. “The nearest Prussian police-station has had the kindness to deliver up to me the Jesuit F. Indura, so that I may forward him to his native place, Kosow.”

“A Jesuit? Oh! that’s imperial!” exclaimed Alexandra, filled with curiosity. “I have heard so much of the Jesuits, and wish to see one. Papa, will you not have him brought here?”

“If it gives you pleasure, why not? That is, if our honored guests have no objection.”

“None at all, governor!” replied Adolph von Sempach, with stern formality. “You alone have to decide.”

“And I think that it is always praiseworthy to be willing to see and hear a Jesuit,” said Beck.

“Tell the commissioner of police,” commanded Rasumowski, “to bring before me without delay the Jesuit of Kosow!”

“Oh! that will be interesting!” exclaimed Alexandra. “I am so anxious to see a man who belongs to that terrible order which has sold itself to the devil, and labors only in the interest of hell.”

“Do you really believe what you say, mademoiselle?” asked Von Sempach, in astonishment.

“Certainly! I have often read in the newspapers shocking things about the Jesuits. They are said to possess in an extraordinary degree the power of deceiving people, and they owe this spiritual power to Satan, with whom they are in league.”

“You have derived your information from the Vienna New Free Press, is it not so?”

“It may be, I do not know exactly. The new German Empire, in its fear of God and love of morality, acts very prudently in expelling these diabolical Jesuits.”

“But suppose these diabolical Jesuits come to Russia?”

“Oh! we are not afraid of them; we will send them to Siberia!”

“Here comes the Jesuit,” said Rasumowski, when he heard the clattering sound made by the guards’ sabres.

Deep silence reigned in the dining-room. All sat with their eyes intently fixed upon the door. In the hall were heard heavy, weary steps, as though an aged or sick man was moving forward with great difficulty. Then a hand appeared, grasping the side of the door, and finally the Jesuit father, a tall, thin man, very much bent, and leaning on a cane.

“Come in, quick!” cried out Rasumowski roughly.

F. Indura staggered into the room. The door was closed after him.

Those who were present gazed in silence at the suffering priest, who could hardly stand on his feet, and who leaned exhausted against the wall. Although still young, the incredible hardships that he had undergone of fatigue as well as of hunger and thirst seemed to have entirely destroyed the bodily strength of the Jesuit. His face was deathly pale, and the hand which held his wide-brimmed hat trembled from excessive weakness. His black habit was covered with dust, as if he had been driven like a prisoner on the highway. Upon his breast there hung an honorable sign of distinction, bestowed by the new German Empire—the iron cross. After having saluted those present, this victim of modern humanity and liberal justice silently awaited the command of the Russian governor.

“Your name is Indura, and you come from Kosow?” commenced the governor.

“Yes, your honor!” answered the priest, in a feeble voice.


“You have been expelled by the Prussian government, and in the holy Russian Empire you can find an abiding-place, and perhaps secure for yourself a splendid position, if you will renounce the Society of Jesus, and embrace the Russian state religion. Are you determined to do this?” asked the governor.

“No, your honor! I prefer death to apostasy!”

“Well, we will not hang you yet awhile!” brutally exclaimed the governor. “But we can send you to the mines of Siberia.”

“That will be impossible, sir!” replied the Jesuit, with a faint smile. “for my strength is too far gone ever to reach Siberia.”

Von Sempach had until now been a quiet spectator of the scene; alternate feelings of compassion and indignation filled his breast whenever he looked at the priest. He turned to Alexandra, in whose impassive features not a vestige of sympathy was visible.

“Mademoiselle,” said he in a subdued voice, “a work of mercy is necessary in this case. This poor clergyman is dying from exhaustion. Will you have any objection if I offer him my seat?”

The Russian lady turned fiercely around, like a serpent that had been trodden upon.

“What do you mean, sir?” she answered, with a proud disdain. “Do you think that I will grant such a disgraceful request?”

An angry flush overspread the face of the young man; his eyes gleamed with a new light, and a proud, contemptuous smile wreathed his lips. Alexandra at this moment had for ever forfeited the love of a heart of which she was unworthy.

The governor meantime continued his questions.

“As you still wish to remain a Jesuit,” said he, “that is, a man dangerous to the empire, an enemy of modern civilization, you will be sent to Siberia!”

“Will your honor not procure me a passport to India?”

“What do you want to do in India?”

“We have missions there,” replied the priest. “As it is my vocation to work for the salvation of souls, I wish to preach there the doctrine of Christ according to my humble capacity.”

“I must reflect upon your petition,” replied the governor. “The government may not wish the Jesuits to continue their activity even in India. For the present, you must go to prison!”

The priest made a motion to leave, but his strength failed him, and a cold sweat appeared in large drops upon his forehead. Then Adolph von Sempach rose.

“Governor Rasumowski,” said he, “I do not believe that I shall appeal in vain to your feelings as a man. I therefore urgently beseech you to allow me to offer some refreshment to this exhausted gentleman from your hospitable table.”

Von Sempach spoke in such an earnest tone of voice that it seemed impossible to refuse him.

“If you wish to assume the character of the good Samaritan, Von Sempach, I do not object,” answered the Russian, making a great effort to conceal his real displeasure.

Adolph approached the weak and feeble priest, and, giving him the support of his arm, led him to his seat.

“Allow me, reverend sir, to serve you.”

The Jesuit looked at him with gratitude, and Adolph commenced to fill his plate. The half-starved owner of the iron cross began to eat, and like a lamp whose dying flame[169] is revived when oil is poured upon it, so also was it with the proscribed priest, who soon felt the benefit of Adolph’s tender care.

Alexandra had left the room when she saw that her father would grant the request of Von Sempach. With an expression of unutterable scorn and disgust, she gathered up the train of her rich silk dress, and retired to her own apartment.

“Will the new German Empire send us any more of such guests?” asked the governor, who was filled with suppressed wrath at seeing a Jesuit at his table.

“Hardly!” replied Schulze. “The majority of the Jesuits are Germans or Swiss; there are only a few Poles among them.”

“Are only the foreigners expelled, and not the Germans?” asked the Russian.

“No Jesuit, even if he be a German, can remain in the new German Empire, and discharge any sacerdotal or educational functions,” replied Schulze.

“It has made a very strange impression upon me,” said the professor, “to see men condemned and treated like criminals, against whom not the least fault can be proved. Even the bitterest enemies of the Jesuits confessed this at the Diet, saying, ‘We find no fault in them!’ An old proverb asserts that ‘Justice is the foundation of kingdoms.’ The conduct of Russia against Poland excepted, there is not a similar example in modern history.”

“Is your remark intended as a reproach, Professor Beck?” asked the Russian.

“I refer only to historical facts,” replied the professor. “My personal opinion has nothing to do with it.”

“And I must openly acknowledge to you my belief that Germany acts very prudently in imitating the Russian method in treating defiant Catholics!” retorted the governor.

“Then, we shall have violence done to conscience, and the destruction of human liberty in the highest sense of the word,” said the professor. “From this tyranny of conscience would result, as a natural consequence, a state of slavery and a demoralized condition of affairs. Religion would cease to ennoble man, because her enemies would misrepresent her doctrines in such a way that she would cease to be the revelation of God; she would become a machine of the state, and this machine would be called a National Church—a hideous thing that would prove to be the grave of all liberty. Finally, an abyss would open, and swallow up the whole; for Almighty God will not suffer the wickedness of man to go beyond a certain length. History records his punishments; as, for example, the Deluge, the destruction of the kingdoms belonging to the Babylonians and Persians, the destruction of Jerusalem and of the Jewish nation.”

Rasumowski was about to answer, when the Jesuit father rose from his chair.

“Sir!” said he to Adolph von Sempach, “you have, in truth, performed a work of mercy. May the Lord in heaven reward you!”

“He has already done so, your reverence!” replied Von Sempach, with a look at Alexandra’s vacant seat.

“Accept my grateful thanks, your honor!” said Indura to the Russian.

“That will do!” interrupted the governor. “The commissioner is waiting for you.”

Adolph left the room with the priest.

“All learned gentlemen do not seem to approve of the war of extermination against the Catholic[170] Church,” said Schulze, in a slightly ironical tone.

“At least, not those who have preserved some sense of justice,” replied Beck. “I cannot understand how so many millions of Catholics can submit to be insulted and threatened in a way that should excite the indignation of Christendom.”

“It is all very clear,” explained Schulze. “A national church is to be established in Germany, just as it is in Russia. Protestantism sees the necessity of the change, and makes no resistance; but it is not so with Catholicity.”

“I agree to the last assertion, Herr Schulze,” said Beck. “From the very earliest ages there have been cowardly bishops and cowardly priests; but the Catholic Church has never made concessions in matters of faith, and will never do so in all time to come.”

“For this very reason she must be exterminated, even if we have to resort to extreme measures,” answered the great official of Berlin, in a transport of passion.

“And do you believe in the possibility of extermination?” asked Beck.

“Why not? The educated portion of the world has long since repudiated all belief in the nursery tales of religion.”

“I most solemnly protest against your remarks,” said the professor. “Religion is as much a nursery tale as is the existence of God, who manifests himself in his works; the most wonderful work of whose hands is the Catholic Church, particularly her miraculous preservation. While everything else in the course of time falls into decay; while the proudest nations disappear from the face of the earth, leaving scarce a trace behind them; while sceptres are constantly passing from the hands of rulers, the chair of Peter stands immovable. No intelligent man can refuse to respect and admire the Catholic religion. On the other hand, I do not deny that liberalism in its spiritually rotten condition, devoid as it is of every high aspiration, is ripe for the establishment of a national church, which is to be fashioned after the Russian model. The new German Emperor-pope will be able, without opposition from the liberals, to introduce the Russian catechism. Liberalism will not object to the introduction of the pleti and to a Siberia; for it is servile, without principle, and utterly demoralized. Those Germans, however, who have preserved their holy faith, their dignity as men, and their self-respect, are no slaves, and will never wear the yoke of Russian servitude.”

“Sir, you insult me!” vociferated the Russian governor.

“In what manner do I insult you?” said Beck. “You yourself maintained a few days ago that the Russians were all serfs of the czar.”

“Yes, they are; but I will not allow you to speak of it with such contempt,” responded the irritated dignitary.

“Since we are not as yet serfs in the new German Empire,” said the professor earnestly, “you will permit a free man to express his views.”

“No, I will not allow you to do so!” cried Rasumowski, with a loud voice. “If you were not, unfortunately, the friend of my future son-in-law, I would send you to Siberia as a man dangerous to the empire.”

The professor rose.

“Governor!” he exclaimed, in a tone of unmistakable self-restraint, “your rudeness makes it impossible for me to stay one moment longer under your roof. The very thought of having received your hospitality is painful to me.”


At this moment, Adolph von Sempach appeared.

“Governor Rasumowski,” said he, “I have come to say farewell. Your daughter, whom I have seen, will communicate to you the reasons of my departure.”

The Russian, with widely distended eyes, looked with astonishment at the young nobleman, who bowed and disappeared with his friend the professor.

At the entrance of the palace, the servant of Von Sempach held open the door of a carriage. The friends entered, and drove to the depot.

“But, Adolph, how do you feel? Tell me what has happened!” asked Beck.

“That which had to be done, unless I chose to make myself unhappy for my whole life,” replied Von Sempach. “I have broken my engagement with Alexandra.”

“I congratulate you from my whole heart!” said Beck, warmly pressing the hand of his friend.

The next morning, the Baroness Olga welcomed the returned travellers; and when Adolph related what had happened, joy and happiness illuminated the face of the good mother, who embraced and kissed her son. The professor stood smiling at her side.

“You see, most gracious lady,” said he, “that the study of Russian affairs is very apt to convince every good German of the impossibility of obtaining real happiness and prosperity from the land of the knout.”

A few days later the poor people exclaimed: “Our mother Olga is well again; her eyes have lost their sad expression, and the kind smile has returned to her lips.”


The only fault we could possibly find with the Gastons was that they were Roman Catholics.

True, they were our own cousins, quite as well off as ourselves, and as well educated and respectable as any family in the country; but then, being Romanists, you know, they associated with such queer people, had such singular notions, and attended a church filled every Sunday with families that you and I would never think of speaking to, you know.

Aunt Mildred went to Mass with them one Sabbath, just out of curiosity, and declared there wasn’t a decent bonnet in the whole congregation outside of Cousin Mary’s pew; and father, who looked in at the chapel on Christmas Day, told us he didn’t see a single carriage at the entrance—nothing but a lot of farmers’ and workingmen’s wagons.

Nevertheless, the Gastons were charming people. Our affection for them went to the full extent of our cousinly relationship, and I in particular—by the way, I forgot to introduce myself—George Willoughby, at your service, just twenty-one—nice age, isn’t it? Graduated at—but I won’t mention what college in New England, lest you might expect too much of me. Well, as I was saying—and I in particular had conceived quite an attachment for my Cousin[172] Richard Gaston. He was three years my senior, had received his education in some out-of-the-way Catholic college situated on the top or at the foot—I really forget which—of some mountain among the Alleghenies. We had frequently met and exchanged visits during our vacations, and the only objection I had to Cousin Dick was that on these occasions he made no end of fun of my Protestant Latin pronunciation, asking me to read a page of Virgil, and then rolling over in his chair, splitting his sides with laughter. What he found so comical in my recitation I could not imagine. I saw nothing in it to laugh at. This was several years ago. I now know the cause of his mirth.

But even if Dick did make fun of my Latin, and call it barbarous, he was a good fellow, although I must say that at times he presumed a little upon his seniority so as to be a trifle mentorish. Indeed, I loved him as a friend, independently of my affection for him as a relative. He was considerate, too, and never troubled me with any of his Romanish notions, except when I sometimes asked him a question about the church, or touching some point in Catholic history, and then I generally received more information than I either expected or desired. One of these occasions I well remember, for the conversation eventually led to serious results for me. I had gone down to spend a week with the Gastons. One rainy afternoon—too wet to drive over to the village, as we had intended—I had just waded through the strange, eventful story of that gay and festive American citizen, Mr. St. Elmo, and, as usual when at a loss for something to do, I began to look around for Dick.

I soon found him in the library, but so entirely engrossed with a book that he did not notice my entrance.

“What are you reading?” I asked.

“Oh!” said he, “nothing that would interest you.”

“Let me see?” I took the book, and read the title-page: Introduction to a Devout Life. From the French of S. Francis of Sales. “Why, Dick,” said I, “this is Thursday, not Sunday.”

“What do you mean?”

“Why,” said I, “on Sunday you get out the Bible, or some pious book, and read a spell—needn’t read very long, you know, about enough to keep your face straight for the rest of the day. It’s the thing to do—good young man, and all that sort of thing, you know—Cela vous pose, as the French say; but as to pious reading, except for that or to fight a rainy Sabbath with—never heard of such a thing. But what’s your book about? Who is your Sales man? Some old ‘stick-in-the-mud’ of a stupid hermit, eh?”

“Your phrase is not of the politest,” replied Dick, “but I will answer your question. S. Francis of Sales was not what you describe, but an elegant, accomplished gentleman, a graduate of the Sorbonne at Paris, and of the University of Padua, where, after a brilliant examination, he took the degree of doctor of laws with great distinction.”

“That might all be,” I answered, for I was determined not to accept Dick’s saint without a fight, as was indeed my duty, being a staunch Protestant—a rôle no one need ever have any trouble in filling, for, as I understand it, you have nothing to do but deny everything the Romanists assert—“that might all be. I suppose he took refuge in orders and sanctimony because he had a game-leg, like your Loyola man there—what do you call him? yes, S. Ignatius—brave fellow, by the way, and a good soldier—or else he was jilted by some handsome girl.”


“Nothing of the kind. His early years, his youth, his student life, and his advent in the world were all marked by a modesty, a purity, and a piety that seemed to be the sure precursor of a saintly life.”

“Oh,” said I, “I have it now. He must have been a hard-featured fellow, so ugly, most probably, that, piety being his only resource, he became a regular old square-toes of a monk in advance of the mail.”

My cousin took a new book off the table, and said, “How ugly he was you shall hear from his Protestant biographer.[51] Listen:

“‘A commanding stature, a peculiar though unstudied dignity of manner, he habitually moved somewhat slowly, as though to check the natural impetuosity of a vigorous, healthy frame; regular though marked features, to which a singularly sweet smile, large blue eyes, and pencilled eyebrows gave great beauty; a complexion of almost feminine delicacy, in spite of ceaseless exposure to all weathers. His voice was deep and rich in tone; and, according to one who knew him, he was in appearance at once so bright and serious that it was impossible to conceive a more imposing presence.’”

“That’s all very well,” I answered, determined not to give it up yet; “but that work of his you were reading, that Devout life, is nothing but a string of prayers anyhow, isn’t it?—a sort of a down-on-your-marrowbones manual?”

“Quite the reverse, my dear George. When the book was first published, it was seized upon with avidity, and became immensely popular, precisely because its author, not content with prescribing rules for exterior acts of devotion, sought also to lead souls into the interior life of piety. But judge for yourself. Let me read now a short extract from the very first chapter, and you will at once see that, in the opinion of S. Francis of Sales, the mere down-on-your-marrowbones performance, as you not very elegantly phrase it, will not, of itself, take you to heaven.”

“Well,” said I, “Dick, this is getting to be rather more than I bargained for; but I’ll fight it out on this line if it takes me till tea-time. So go on.” And he read:

“As Aurelius painted all the faces of his pictures in the air and resemblance of the woman he loved, so every one paints devotion according to his own passion and fancy. He that is addicted to fasting, thinks himself very devout if he fasts, though his heart be at the same time filled with rancor; and, scrupling to moisten his tongue with wine, or even with water, through sobriety, he hesitates not to drink deep of his neighbor’s blood by detraction and calumny. Another considers himself devout because he recites daily a multiplicity of prayers, though immediately afterwards he utters disagreeable, arrogant, and injurious words amongst his domestics and neighbors. Another cheerfully draws alms out of his purse to relieve the poor, but cannot draw meekness out of his heart to forgive his enemies. Another readily forgives enemies, but never satisfies his creditors but by constraint. These by some are esteemed devout, while, in reality, they are by no means so.”

“That’s pretty plain talk,” was my comment—“a good deal plainer than they give it to us down at our meeting-house. It sets a fellow to thinking, too.” And here I was about to make a damaging admission, when I fortunately recollected that I was in line of battle, with my enemy in front. So I charged again with: “Oh! it’s easy enough to write or preach the most pious precepts, and, at the same time, not be at all remarkable for their practice. If your Sales man was such a fine gentleman as you describe, I strongly suspect that that very fact kept him pretty closely tied to the world, and that he[174] may have been, after all, a mere ornamental guide-post to point out to others the road he had no idea of travelling himself.”

“George, you are incorrigible, and I doubt that you really believe the half of what you are saying. But I shall not ask you to accept my opinion of S. Francis of Sales’ personal piety. Here is a Protestant estimate of it: ‘There is a beauty, a symmetry, an exquisite grace of holiness, in all that concerns the venerable Bishop of Geneva which fascinates the imagination and fills the heart. Beauty, harmony, refinement, simplicity, utter unself-consciousness, love of God and man, welling up and bursting forth as a clear fountain that never can be stayed or staunched—such are the images and thoughts that fill the mind as we dwell upon his memory.’

“It was in 1592,” continued my cousin, “that Francis of Sales returned to the paternal mansion, after having been for twelve years a scholar at the universities, and a student of the great world. His father had ambitious projects for the advancement of his only son. By agreement of the parents on both sides, he was to marry a rich heiress, the daughter of the Seigneur de Vegy; and the reigning Duke of Savoy tendered him the high position of senator; yet, notwithstanding the most energetic remonstrances and prayers of his father and many friends, he calmly but resolutely declined both the marriage and the senatorial dignity, and in 1593 was received in minor orders by the Bishop of Geneva, and ordained priest in December of the same year.”

“After which,” I interposed, “he, of course, had an easy time of it.”

“Listen, and you shall hear. The duchy of Chablais, adjoining the Genevese territory, had in previous years been conquered and occupied by the Bernese, and, as one of the results, Calvinism became predominant. Restored to the Duke of Savoy in 1593 as the result of treaties, it was important to provide for the spiritual wants of the few scattered Catholics who remained. A learned and pious priest named Bouchut was sent to one of the towns of the Chablais, but was compelled to leave it, on account of the fierce and hostile attitude of the inhabitants. It was soon understood that any Catholic priest who undertook to minister there publicly would do so at his peril. There was an absolute necessity that some one should go, but the Bishop of Geneva naturally hesitated to order any of his priests to so dangerous a mission. He would gladly have sent Francis of Sales, for he saw that he possessed all the qualities desirable in so critical an emergency—bravery, firmness, prudence, and gentleness, besides a name and family position which commanded respect throughout the country. Sorely embarrassed, the good bishop convened a chapter, and all his ecclesiastics were summoned to be present. He laid the matter before them, together with the letters of the reigning duke, spoke plainly of the difficulties and perils of the mission, and asked their counsel as to what should be done. As in the case of an overwhelming peril at sea, or a desperate charge on a fortified place, where the captain or commander hesitates to order men to certain death, and calls for volunteers, so the good bishop in this manner really asked, ‘Who will undertake this dangerous duty?’

“As the head of the chapter, it was for Francis of Sales to speak first. No one present knew as well as he the most serious dangers of the proposed mission.


“Amid profound and discouraging silence, he arose, and said, ‘Monseigneur, if you hold me capable of the work, and bid me undertake it, I am ready’—few words, but to the point. Information of what had taken place soon reached Château de Sales, and in spite of his seventy-two years, the father instantly ordered his horse, and rode to Annecy, where he imploringly remonstrated with his son, and begged him to withdraw his offer.

“From the son the old man went to the bishop, and protested in tears against the step about to be taken. ‘I give up,’ he exclaimed, ‘my firs-tborn, the pride and hope of my life, the stay of my old age, to the church; I consent to his being a confessor; but I cannot give him to be a martyr.’ The father’s remonstrance was so powerful, his grief so violent, that the good bishop was deeply moved, and gave signs of wavering, when Francis, perceiving it, cried out: ‘Monseigneur, be firm, I implore you; would you have me prove myself unworthy of the kingdom of God? I have put my hand to the plough; would you have me look back, and yield to worldly considerations?’

“But the father held out as well as the son. ‘As to this undertaking,’ he said to Francis, in parting, ‘nothing can ever make me either sanction or bless it.’ At the last moment, several priests offered the brave volunteer to accompany him, but he would take no one but his cousin, the Canon Louis de Sales. It would be a long but most interesting history to go into the details of the Chablais mission. Under other circumstances, the people of that province might have run the risk of being dragooned into Catholicity as they had been into Protestantism. But the mild counsels of its noble apostle prevailed. After trials, labors, and dangers most formidable, his holy life and winning words of peace and reconciliation shamed persecution, transformed hatred into respect and admiration, and the conversion of the Chablais was the result of his holy daring. It was during this period that he even penetrated into the camp of the enemy, going to Geneva several times to visit Calvin’s successor, Theodore Beza, then seventy-eight years of age.

“The Apostle of the Chablais, as Francis de Sales was henceforth called by the reigning duke, was now urged by the aged Bishop of Geneva to become his coadjutor, and with great difficulty was almost forced to accept the position. He was soon after sent to Rome, to ask the good offices of the sovereign pontiff in arranging a serious dispute between Savoy and France, as to whether Geneva was included in the provisions of the treaty of Vervins. Having transacted the business of his mission, he was notified by Clement VIII. to prepare for a public examination in his presence within a few days. It is related, as characteristic of his strong sense of justice and independence, that, with all his reverence for pontifical authority, and his well-known personal humility, the first impulse of Francis was to resist this order as an infringement upon his ecclesiastical rights. He laid the matter before the ambassador of Savoy, who immediately sought an audience of his holiness. Clement VIII. at once recognized the validity of the objection, and promised that the case should not be treated as a precedent. He had heard so much, he said, of the ability and talent of De Sales, that he was desirous of an opportunity of judging of it himself, as was also the College of Cardinals. The order, it was then agreed, should stand, and the examination[176] go on. The only preparation of Francis for this formidable trial was—prayer. Indeed, there was no time for any other, for there were but three days between the order and the ordeal.

“Among the cardinals before whom he appeared were Baronius, Federigo Borromeo, Borghese, and, among their assistants, the great Bellarmine. Added to these was a crowd of archbishops, bishops, generals of religious orders, and many eminent ecclesiastics of lesser dignity. A Spanish priest of distinguished learning, who was to have presented himself with Francis for examination before this body, was so overpowered on entering the hall that he fainted. The scope of the examination included civil law, canon law, and theology, but it was confined to the last-named branch. Thirty-five questions were proposed, and every possible objection was raised by the examiners to all the answers. The examination over, his holiness expressed his supreme satisfaction, went to Francis, and embraced him in presence of the assembly, repeating the verse: ‘Bibe, fili mi, aquam de cisterna tua, et fluenta putei tui; deriventur fontes tui foras, et in plateis aquas tuas divide.’[52]

“In January, 1602, Francis was sent to Paris, charged with the arrangement of certain ecclesiastical difficulties which had arisen in consequence of the late transfer of the small territory of Gex from Savoy to France. Negotiations with royal ministers are proverbially slow, and a matter that Francis supposed might be terminated in six days retained him at Paris six months. But for him this was not lost time. He gave the course of Lenten sermons at the Royal Chapel, preached constantly in various churches and communities, and was so tireless in his spiritual labors that during these six months he is said to have delivered one hundred sermons. It was during this visit that he suggested to Pierre de Berulle (afterwards cardinal) the foundation in France of an order for the education of the clergy, on the model of the Oratory established in Italy by S. Philip Neri. The project was carried out, and in 1611, when the Oratory was established in France, its founder asked Francis of Sales to be its first superior.

“The reigning King of France was then Henry IV. He so highly prized and admired De Sales that he offered him every inducement to remain in France. He recognized in Francis the possession of all the qualities and virtues belonging to the model ecclesiastic, and best calculated to make religion respected and loved in a community scarcely recovered from the evil effects of religious wars. The learned Cardinal du Perron also appeared to be of the same opinion, for he said: ‘God has certainly given him (De Sales) the key of hearts. If you want merely to convince men, bring me all the heretics, and I will undertake to do it; but if you want to convert them, take them to Mgr. de Genève.’”[53]

“Richard, cousin of mine,” said I, “your measure is Scriptural, heaped up and running over. I ask you a question about that little book there on the table, and you give me the entire biography of your Saint of Sales. It’s all very edifying, certainly, but I want to know about the work.”

“Oh! The Devout Life?” he replied. “I will tell you. In the first[177] place, a singular fact connected with it is that the work was completed before S. Francis was aware that he had written a book. It happened thus: A young, beautiful, and wealthy lady of the fashionable Parisian world was so impressed by a sermon preached by the Bishop of Geneva that she resolved to lead a new life, and solicited his spiritual advice. His counsels of enlightened piety soon taught her that it was possible to serve God with zeal without absolutely leaving the world. Seeing her but seldom, he wrote from time to time such instructions as he wished to convey, and also answered her letters asking for further advice. On a visit to Chambéry, Mme. de Charmoisy—for that was the lady’s name—showed these papers to the learned and pious Père Forrier, rector of the College of Jesuits at that place. He was so much struck with their contents that he had them copied, and wrote to Francis of Sales, now Bishop of Geneva, urging him to publish them. The bishop did not at first understand what he meant, and replied that he had no talent for authorship, and no time to write. When the matter was explained, and he ascertained that Père Forrier had studied and written out what he called his ‘few miserable notes,’ he exclaimed: ‘Truly, it is a wonderful thing that, according to these good people, I have composed a book without knowing it.’ Very opportunely there reached him at this juncture a letter from the secretary of Henry IV. of France, expressing his majesty’s earnest wish that Mgr. de Genève would write a work setting forth the beauty of religion, and showing worldly people that a life of piety was not incompatible with a busy, active career. ‘No one,’ said the king, ‘could write such a book but Mgr. de Genève.’

“Thus pressed on all sides, the bishop set to work, made some changes and additions[54] in the manuscript, and published it under the now familiar title of Introduction to a Devout Life.

“The work had no model in French literature. It was neither apologetic nor controversial, but purely moral and advisory; and this was much in a period torn by religious dissensions and wars. Its success was enormous. Praises of the book and its author poured in upon all sides. Exaggerated encomiums disturbed the good bishop. ‘What!’ he said, ‘cannot God make fresh-water springs to come forth from the jaw-bone of an ass? These good friends of mine think of nothing but me and my glory, as though we might desire any glory for ourselves, and not rather refer it all to God, who alone works any good which may be in us.’

“Meantime, the Introduction was translated into all languages, and so widely read[55] that it was called at the time the breviary of people of the world.

“The imagery and symbolism of the book are full of grace and attraction. It draws illustrations from pictures and flowers, and its style is rife with similes and images which light up the essential solemnity of the subject. As Sainte-Beuve says, ‘He puts plenty of sugar and honey on the edge of the vase.’[56]

“But this grace of language and of style is not obtained at the sacrifice of strength or of principle. The work has many passages full of sombre energy, and, in particular, a meditation on death (first book), which displays something of the peculiar[178] vigor of a similar chapter (twenty-third of the first book) in Thomas à Kempis.

“Then, there is a sharpness of penetration and a delicacy of insight surprising to those who have not closely watched the springs of human action and the workings of the human heart in themselves as well as in others. Distinguished moralists, such as Montaigne and Franklin, have discoursed eloquently and effectively on the morals and motives of men, but you will find in none of them the elevation and purity of S. Francis of Sales. Take, for instance, the thirty-sixth chapter of the third book, in which he points out the almost imperceptible motives of partiality and injustice which prompt us in everyday life to the most selfish acts, consulting only interest and passion, while we pretend to ourselves and others to be totally unconscious of anything in our conduct that is not entirely praiseworthy. Listen and see how admirably he introduces the subject: ‘It is reason alone that makes us men, and yet it is a rare thing to find men truly reasonable; because self-love ordinarily puts us out of the path of reason, leading us insensibly to a thousand small yet dangerous injustices and partialities, which, like the little foxes spoken of in the Canticle destroy the vines; for, because they are little, we take no notice of them; but, being great in number, they fail not to injure us considerably.’

“Now, remark how unerringly he places his finger on spots and blemishes that to our eyes are apparently as white as snow:

“‘Are not the things of which I am about to speak unjust and unreasonable? We condemn every trifle in our neighbors, and excuse ourselves in things of importance; we want to sell very dearly, and to buy very cheaply; we desire that justice should be executed in another man’s house, but mercy and connivance in our own; we would have everything we say taken in good part, but we are delicate and touchy with regard to what others say of us; we would insist on our neighbor parting with his goods, and taking our money; but is it not more reasonable that he should keep his goods, and leave us our money? We take it ill that he will not accommodate us; but has he not more reason to be offended that we should desire to incommode him?... On all occasions, we prefer the rich before the poor, although they be neither of better condition, nor more virtuous; we even prefer those who are best clad. We rigorously exact our own dues, but we desire that others should be gentle in demanding theirs: we keep our own rank with precision, but would have others humble and condescending; we complain easily of our neighbors, but none must complain of us; what we do for others seems always very considerable, but what others do for us seems as nothing. We have two balances: one to weigh to our own advantage, and the other to weigh in to the detriment of our neighbor. Deceitful lips, says the Scripture, have spoken with a double heart; and to have two weights, the one greater, with which we receive, and the other less, with which we deliver, is an abominable thing in the sight of God.’”

“The book must be interesting,” said I. “You must lend it to me.”

“Candidly, George,” my cousin answered, somewhat to my surprise, “you had better select something else for your reading; for, if you wish merely to pass away the time in its perusal, it will most certainly disappoint you, and you will find it dry and dull. If, indeed, you desire to read it with a motive corresponding to the author’s aim in writing it, that’s quite another affair. The book is for the heart and the soul, not for the calculating head and worldly mind. There’s nothing about it of what your admired Carlyle calls dilettanteism, and its object is your welfare—not[179] in this world, but in the next.”

“In what language,” I inquired, “was this work written?”

“In French, of course.”

“But Francis of Sales was, you say, a Savoyard?”

“True,” replied Dick; “what then?”

“Why, perhaps he didn’t write pure French?”

“Perhaps not. You are an American, are you not, George?”

“Of course I am; what then?”

“Why, then, perhaps you don’t speak the English language correctly. And that,” continued Dick, “reminds me, as our late President used to say, of a little story. You know that queer old original Major Eustace, who lives just beyond the lake. I heard him relate that, when a young man, he was travelling in Europe, and found himself one fine day at Moscow without funds or tidings from home, except a letter advising him of the failure of his father’s house. This was at a time when travelling facilities were far inferior to those of the present day. He could not get away, and so sat down and studied the Moscow advertisements. One of them demanded an English tutor for the two sons (aged respectively fourteen and sixteen years) of a Russian nobleman residing at a well-known château near the city. Eustace was a college graduate. He felt himself abundantly qualified for the position, and made instant application. He was cordially received for the chances of obtaining an English tutor at Moscow were very slim. The Russian questioned Eustace very closely as to his acquirements—this conversation being, of course, in French—and things went on swimmingly until he asked our American cousin from what part of England he came. Eustace replied that he was an American. The Russian’s face fell. ‘And what language do they speak in America?’

“‘In the United States we speak English,’ replied Eustace.

“‘But it must be a patois,’ objected the Russian.

“‘Not at all,’ said Eustace. ‘We have no dialects, and, taken as a body, the American people speak better English than the people of England.’

“The Russian could not comprehend it. The result was that Eustace was not engaged. Our nobleman went all the way to St. Petersburg for what he wanted, and returned home triumphant with his born-English tutor. Meantime, Eustace found something else to do, and remained at Moscow long enough to acquire the Russian language, and make many pleasant acquaintances. Being in London five years afterwards, he found the Russian colony there in a fit of Homeric laughter over the strange mishap of two young noblemen recently arrived from Moscow. Eustace at once recognized the name of the Russian who insisted that Americans speak a patois. His sons had been taught English by the tutor picked up in St. Petersburg, and, fortified with plenty of money and excellent letters of introduction, had been sent over to acquire the polish of a London season in the best English society. In this society, then, they made their début speaking English fluently in the broadest Yorkshire dialect!

“Now, to return to your Savoyard objection,” continued my cousin. “You must know, my dear George, that Savoy is essentially French in tongue and general characteristics of race. The French language is both spoken and written there in all its purity; and many authors of worldwide reputation as French writers are, in reality, Savoyards. There is, for instance, Vaugelas the grammarian,[180] Saint-Réal the historian, Ducis the poet, the great Joseph de Maistre, his brother Xavier de Maistre, whose Voyage autour de ma Chambre I know you have read; and, in our own day, Cherbuliez, whose success as a novelist has made the Parisian romancers look sharply to their laurels. I have reserved mention of S. Francis of Sales for a special reason. He wrote at a period when the French language under the influence of Malherbe was soon to settle down into its modern form; and so pure is his language and phraseology, even tried by the highest French standard, that he is one of the model authors adopted by the French Academy when its celebrated Dictionary of the language was undertaken. The list of prose writers included, among others, the names of Amyot, Montaigne, Charron, Arnauld, S. Francis of Sales, Duplessis-Mornay, Cardinal du Perron, etc., etc.[57] S. Francis of Sales is thus, you perceive, a French classic. The English translations we have of his works,” continued my cousin, “fail to do him justice.”

“Oh!” said I, “the old story—traduttoretraditore[58]—as the Italians say.”

“Precisely so, for the sense and substance; and then, for the form and setting, a period of nearly three hundred years has so modified shades of signification and value in words which to-day apparently have the same general meaning, that in our modern rendering the subtle aroma and the more delicate beauties of thought and language appear to evaporate in the process of translation.

“There is a certain charming simplicity and quaintness in the original to which our grand modern style refuses to bend; and it appears to me that we might have had an English version of the Devout Life really redolent of its author’s spirit if it could possibly have been done by one of that noble band of young Jesuit martyrs judicially murdered by Queen Elizabeth—say Campion or Southwell, for instance, who wrote in the English of Shakespeare’s day—a period exactly corresponding with that of S. Francis de Sales.”

“To sum it all up, then,” said I, “you ask me to accept this work as perfection, and yet refuse me an opportunity of judging for myself.”

“On the contrary, George; for, although I contend that it is admirable and, indeed, unsurpassed for its purpose, I have already said that a reader seeking in it purely literary gratification would most certainly be disappointed. I will say more, for I will not allow you to monopolize the functions of advocatus diaboli: the book, to our nineteenth century eyes, has several defects.”

“What do you mean by calling me the devil’s advocate?”

“Well, merely this, Cousin George. In our church, whenever it is proposed to canonize as a saint a person of holy life, there is a member of the commission appointed to examine the case, whose duty it is rigidly to scrutinize all the testimony presented as to the holy life of the deceased, to require the strictest proof, and to present and urge every valid objection to its saintliness, such as charges of any irregularity or lapse in conduct, morals, or faith. This official, in short, is a sort of infernal prosecuting attorney, and has hence received the descriptive nickname of advocatus diaboli.[181] Now, it appears to me, Cousin George, that, from the moment our conversation on the Devout Life began, you have been plying his vocation pretty vigorously.”

I could not deny it, so I said nothing, and allowed Gaston to go on.

“No; so far from claiming perfection for the work, I will volunteer a criticism or two upon it. In the first place, there is an excess of symbolism, and the multitude of comparisons and images becomes fatiguing. Many of these images are full of grace and simplicity, especially those drawn from the writer’s observation of nature; for S. Francis of Sales, as we gather from this book, had a quick and sympathetic appreciation of the charm of landscapes, the song of birds, the fascination of flowers, and the thousand beauties of nature visible only to one who truly loves nature, and sincerely worships nature’s God. But there is an excess of all this; and when he gets beyond the line of personal sympathy and observation, the comparisons become stiff, and frequently violate good taste. Those drawn from natural history, for instance, are strained and incongruous. The writer must have found his Paphlagonian partridges with two hearts in Pliny. There are many things, too, which to us appear to be in excessively bad taste; but that is a defect not chargeable to the author individually, but to the prevalent style of the age in which he lived. After all, there are ‘spots on the sun.’ S. Francis of Sales did not write for fame as an author, nor, indeed, from any worldly motive. A ‘classic style’ and ‘the French Academy’ were inducements which never engaged his attention. There is nothing of the rhetorician in his phrase, for it is almost familiar in its ease and simplicity. But there’s the tea-bell, my dear George, probably a happy release for one of us, for I fear I have bored you dreadfully.”

“On the contrary, my dear Dick, for I have been as much edified as interested in the saintly life you have revealed to me.”

“Why, my dear boy, I haven’t told you the half of it; nor, indeed, do I know it thoroughly. But if it at all interests you, here it is.”

I read it, and have since read the lives and some few of the works of several other saints, with what result it does not interest the public to know. I can only say that I am going to fight it out on my present line if it takes till doomsday. Cousin Dick and I are firmer friends than ever, and Aunt Mildred from time to time asks me, with a slight tone of sarcasm, if I saw any fashionable bonnets at our church last Sabbath?






At our return, we found my mother had prepared the dinner as usual on the days we went into the country. We joyfully seated ourselves at the table. What is more delightful than a family dinner? And we were all united. Louis was also in our midst. Victor was uncommonly lively that evening. His face, so open, intelligent, and kind, was radiant. I had never seen him so social and witty. His animation enlivened us all—we loved him so much! Excellent man! what made him so happy was the remembrance of the good deed he had done at the peril of his life. I asked him more than twenty times that evening if he felt any worse, and if it were not advisable to send for a physician. He invariably replied that he felt as well as the day before, and even better. But his cough grew worse from that time, and caused me serious alarm. During dinner we conversed on general subjects, and afterwards went to the salon. Victor installed himself beside the blazing fire which I always had made for him in the evening. My mother and sister went up to their own apartments. We were thus left alone with M. Louis Beauvais. He turned towards Victor with a look full of respect and affection, and I observed with astonishment that tears were streaming from his eyes.

“Madame,” said he to me, “I must appear strangely to you. Ah! that is not the worst of it. I am a great sinner.”

Victor tried to stop him.

“No,” said he; “I will not keep silence. Mme. Barnier must know everything, as well as you, noble-hearted man, whom I dare not call my friend: I feel too unworthy.”

He seated himself, and, sadly gazing into the fire, began his story in a tone as grave and sorrowful as if he were making a solemn avowal of his faults before dying:

Ten years ago, said he, I was a Christian, not only in name, but in heart and soul. My mother, a pious, energetic woman, such as we do not see in our day, brought me up with extreme care, and I did my utmost to correspond to her efforts. It is so easy and delightful to practise one’s religion when one has faith, and feels that his endeavors are at once pleasing to a mother and to God! My other studies over, I became a candidate for the Polytechnic School, but was not successful in my application. I then entered another, in order to learn civil engineering. By the end of a year, I had given up all my pious habits through want of moral courage. My principles, however, remained firm enough to condemn me and fill me with remorse, but they were incapable of restraining one who had imbibed a taste for error. Even my mother’s death and her last words, though they affected me, did not bring me to a sense of duty. A short time after I completed my studies in civil engineering, my father gave me possession of what I inherited from my mother, and asked what course I intended to pursue.[183] “Remain at home,” I replied,” and work under the direction of M. C——,” an architect of the department, and a friend of the family. My father gave his consent to this.

Left to myself, and master of my time and property, I made no delay in commencing a life of dissipation and pleasure. My father was, above all things, a man of forethought and calculation, and my conduct disgusted him. We had several painful disputes, and at last he declared, to use his own expressive language, he would give up the reins, and cease to reproach me, but I must not thenceforth expect of him the least advice or even aid, if I needed it. He then centred all his affections on my brother and sister. As for me, I had begun by being idle and extravagant: I soon became openly irreligious. My religious principles were a restraint, and I determined to throw them aside. I thought this would be easy. And I did prove myself uncommonly impious when the preacher we had some months ago told us so many plain, wholesome truths. I was not one of those guilty of disorderly conduct, whom all respectable people must condemn; but—the acknowledgment is due you—I approved of it, contemptible and wicked as it was. My conscience was now roused, and remorse filled my soul with secret anger.

My mother being dead, there was no longer any one at home to speak to me of religious things. My father is an honorable, upright man, and attentive to his business, but as regardless of another world as if there were none. My young brother is pious to a certain degree, I suppose, but he is timid and reserved. Only my sister remains. Aline left boarding-school about six months ago. She is nearly ten years younger than I, and bears a striking resemblance to my mother. She has the same kindness of heart and the same tone of piety, at once fervent and rational, which I always loved and admired in my mother. I had been separated from my sister many years, and when I met her again, I was struck, with this resemblance, and at once conceived so much affection and respect for her as to astonish myself.

As soon as Aline returned home, the appearance of everything changed: the house became more attractive. I certainly do not wish to impute any blame to my father—I love and respect him too much for that—but you know as well as I that a house is not what it should be that has no woman to preside over it. An Arabian poet says the mistress of a house is its soul, and he is right. After my mother’s death, the house became gloomy, but there was a marked change when Aline returned. It seemed as if my mother had come back after a long absence to diffuse once more around her cheerfulness, order, and piety.

But the superintendence of the household affairs, and her obligations to society, did not wholly fill up Aline’s time. Like her whose living image she was, she was eager to extend her knowledge. Before her return, my father had subscribed for that wretched journal which is the delight of the unbeliever, or those who wish to pass as such. Aline sometimes read it, but she disliked it, as you may suppose. She imparted her impressions to me, but I did not conceal from her my sympathy with its irreligious views.

“Well, I do not agree with it in the least,” said she; “and, as I like to know what is going on, I wish I could subscribe for M. Barnier’s paper. Mme. C—— has lent it to me for some time. It is an able, thoughtful journal, and edited by a sincere Catholic.[184] That is the kind of a newspaper that suits me.”

“Then, order it to be sent you.”

“That would be ridiculous. A young girl cannot subscribe for a newspaper.”

“I see no other way of having it.”

“Excuse me, there is. If you were obliging, you would see the way at once.”

“And subscribe for you!... I subscribe for a journal de sacristie?... That would be going rather too far; I should be laughed at.”

“You must have publicly compromised yourself, then, to fear making people talk by subscribing for a respectable paper.” ...

The cut was well aimed. I reddened, but made no reply, and went away. That night I subscribed for your paper, and received my first number. Of course I opened it at once, out of perverse curiosity. I should have been overjoyed to find a single flaw in it.

A short time after this, the incident at the cathedral occurred. As I have already told you, I was not among those who made a disturbance at the church door, but I was with them in heart. Père Laurent was repulsive to me, as well as to most of those who displayed their anger in so reprehensible a manner. He was everywhere the topic of conversation. At home, my sister, who never lost one of his sermons, annoyed me with his praises. Above all, she irritated me by repeating his very words—words that seemed chosen expressly to disturb me and force me to reflect.

The day after that atrocious manifestation, I eagerly opened your journal. I was sure you would speak of the outbreak of the previous day, and wished to see how far you would condemn it. The article surpassed my expectations. You showed yourself more courageous than ever. Never had you written anything that so directly hit my case. You made use of certain phrases that reminded me of my shameful course, my base inclinations, and my secret remorse, and in so forcible a manner that the very perusal made me tremble with anger. That night, at our club—that well-known circle of young men devoid of reason, and so many men of riper years even more thoughtless—we had a great deal to say about the occurrence of the previous day, and your article of that morning. There was a general indignation against the preacher, and that excited by what you had written was still stronger.

One of the habitués of the club—one of those men who assume the right of imposing their opinions on others about every subject—seriously declared he had made a very important discovery: the clerical party wished to overrule the city, and assert its adverse authority as in the fearful times of the middle ages; but, however well contrived the plot might be, it had not escaped the sagacious eye of the speaker. The Conference of S. Vincent de Paul, more flourishing than ever; the new development given to the journal you edit; the arrival of an eloquent preacher—were they not all so many signs that ought to arouse us to the imminence and extent of the danger?

The simplest and worst members of the club allowed themselves to be influenced by this absurd declamation. I was, I confess, of the number. Others shrugged their shoulders. The orator perceived it.

“Ah! you smile, messieurs; you think I exaggerate! In a year you will confess I was right, but then it will be too late! Your wives will have become devotees, the very thought of whose bigotry is enough to make anybody shudder; your[185] daughters will only aspire to the happiness of entering a convent; the theatres will be closed for want of patronage; and, if any one wishes an office, it will only be obtained by presenting a certificate of confession. Allez! allez! when that black-robed tribe undertakes any scheme, it knows how to bring it about. Instead of shrugging your shoulders when I reveal what is going on, you would do better to take proper precautions. It is high time.”

A young fop in the assembly, the head clerk of a notary, notorious for his volubility, his shallowness, and his assurance, rose and took up the thread of discourse in his turn:

“I agree with what M. Simon has just said. We must consider the means of utterly routing this dark race. The shortest course would be to attack their leader. I will take that on myself. Barnier shall hear from me.”

“No rashness!” was the exclamation on all sides. “We must beware of making a martyr of him!”

“What course shall we take, then?” asked some of the party.

“Intimidate him,” said a voice. “Write him a letter of warning of so serious a character as to make him desist.”

“That is also a bad plan,” objected M. Simon. “Anonymous letters are treated with contempt, or are laid before the public. In either case, the effect would be unfavorable to us.”

The young fop who had begun the subject now resumed:

“M. Simon, who has so clairvoyant an eye with respect to danger, ought himself to suggest some way of bringing Barnier to reason.”

M. Simon assumed a solemn air: “I only know of one way, but that is a good one. We must bribe him, not to withdraw from the paper—that would be a false step, for another would take his place, and continue to annoy us—but to induce him, in consideration of a certain sum, to wage henceforth only an apparent war on us. That is the best thing to do.”

“Well,” replied the young fop, “it is hardly worth while to criticise others, and then propose something not half so good. Barnier is not to be bribed.”

“Why not?” asked M. Simon.

“Because a man whose opinions are the result of conviction can never be bought. He fights for his flag, and is not much concerned about anything else.”

“Convictions!—flag!—disinterestedness, indeed!” retorted M. Simon, with a gesture of supreme contempt.

It was in vain to say that most of us had carefully observed you, and were not mistaken as to your character. We were nearly all of the clerk’s opinion. For once in his life, the fellow had a correct notion. We then separated without coming to any decision, but each one promised to think of some means of bringing you to reason, as we expressed it. I dwelt on the subject the whole evening, and was still thinking of it the next day when I took my place among the family at the dinner-table.

Aline was at that time greatly interested in the soirée to which you were afterwards invited, and the preliminaries were discussed at table. To my great astonishment, she proposed to place your name on the list of invitations. This proposition made me angry, and I flatly declared it absurd. I was sure my father would make a similar reply. I had no idea he would open the doors of his salon to you, for I knew there was no similarity of opinion between you. The result was precisely contrary to my expectations. Was my[186] father desirous of gratifying Aline? Or did he wish to seize an opportunity of showing how little value he attached to my opinion? I know not. But he allowed me to finish what I had to say, and then said, in a dry tone:

“Aline, send M. Barnier an invitation. It is my wish.”

I was confounded. In my fury, I inwardly swore to be revenged. The means of intimidating you, which the members of the club had not been able to find without compromising themselves, I thought I had discovered myself the night before. I communicated my plan to two of my friends whose names I will not give. They declared it excellent, and promised to second me.

What took place you know, but I will give you some details impossible for you to have ascertained. I did not attend the soirée, but one of my accomplices was there to keep me informed of your movements. When you were ready to leave, he came to my room to notify me. It took only a moment to disguise ourselves. We went out by a private door, and dogged your steps. Ah! my dear friend, what infamous behavior! What had you done to me that I should thus dare violate in your person the laws of hospitality which even savages respect?

At this revelation, I turned pale. M. Louis Beauvais perceived it.

“Is not such an act unpardonable, madame?” said he. “And do you not look upon me as worthy only of your contempt and hatred?”

“I have forgiven those who committed this wrong, whoever they might be,” I replied. “Now I know it was you, and see how fully you repent of it, I forgive you even more willingly.”

Thank you, madame, said he; but let me assure you that, culpable as my intentions were, they were less so than they must have seemed to you. We were desirous of intimidating M. Barnier, and making him believe he exposed himself to constant serious danger by the boldness of the course he had taken. We did not—I mistake—I did not intend to show any physical violence, for that I considered base and criminal. I was indignant when I saw one of our number strike him. I have ever since regarded that young man with profound contempt. I had more than one fit of remorse that night. The next morning, Aline, after accosting me, said:

“You know what happened to M. Barnier last night after leaving us. It is infamous! It must have been a plot. I am sure you know the guilty authors! Who are they? They ought to be punished.”

“How should I know them?” I exclaimed angrily.

“You know them only too well,” said Aline, regarding me with an air of severity; ... “but you are not willing to betray your friends.... What friends!”

I endeavored to appear unconcerned. She continued looking at me with a steadiness that made me shiver.

“Do not add to my distress,” said she. “Do not lay aside the only virtue you have left, my poor brother—your customary frankness! I understand it all, and know what I ought to say to you, but words fail me. Ah! if our poor mother were still alive!” ...

Aline went away without another word. As for me, I remained motionless and silent for some moments, by turns filled with shame, remorse, and anger.... It would seem as if so grave an occurrence should have led me to serious reflection. I felt inclined to it at first, but resisted the[187] inclination. I found excuses for myself, and soon thought no more of it.

I continued, therefore, to live as I had for five years, one pleasure succeeding another, and spending my property without reflecting what I should do hereafter. But the day was at hand when I found myself in a critical position in consequence of my prodigality.

When my father, in order to avert cause for contention, put me in possession of my mother’s property, I at once took my papers to a man in whom I placed entire confidence. I did this in order to throw off all care. He had been for a long time my father’s cashier. He was and is honesty itself.

“F. Martin,” said I, “here is all I possess. It will be a care for me to keep these papers and collect my income. Do me the favor to take charge of my property.”

F. Martin was confused and gratified at such a proof of confidence. But his pleasure was somewhat modified when I added the following words:

“F. Martin, I attach one condition to this arrangement: you are not to take advantage of it to sermonize me. I now tell you, with a frankness that will preclude all surprise, I wish to amuse myself.... To what degree, or how long, I cannot say, but such is my present intention, that is certain.”

“O M. Louis, if your mother could only hear you!”

“F. Martin,” said I, with a gesture, as if to take back my portfolio, “if you are going to begin to preach to me, take care!... I shall give my papers to some one who may rob me. Then, instead of merely curtailing my property a little, I shall spend it all in two years, or four at the furthest; or rather, we shall spend it between us.”

“Dreadful boy! I always said you had the faculty of making everybody yield to you. Well, I will do as you wish.”

“Ah! that is right. One word more. When I have but twenty thousand francs left, you may warn me—not before!”

Things went on thus till a few days ago. I spent my property with a rapidity that frightened me when I thought of it. My father perceived it. My extravagance excited his indignation, but, faithful to his resolution to avoid all contention, he forebore saying anything. Not quite a fortnight ago, I met with a sad disappointment. An old aunt of mine died. I had calculated on being her heir, but she left all she had to my sister and other relatives, and gave me nothing. My unwise conduct had for some time prejudiced her against me. This disappointment made me quite thoughtful. I wrote F. Martin that I wished to know the exact state of my affairs. The next day Martin arrived at the appointed hour. He was pale and agitated—pitifully so.

“M. Louis,” said he, “you anticipated me. I was going to request an interview with you. You have now only twenty thousand francs!”

I made a strong effort to control myself, and replied, with a smiling air: “Well done! that is rather fast work!”

“So fast that I can hardly believe you have come to this. But it is really so!”

“Where are the twenty thousand francs, Martin?”

“Why, I have not got them, M. Louis! I have only five thousand left besides what you took.”

At this, my strength almost failed me. I at once realized I was completely ruined. Fifteen months before, I had withdrawn twenty thousand[188] francs from Martin’s hands under the pretext of investing them in a particularly advantageous manner. A trip to Germany, play, and some pressing debts absorbed this sum without Martin’s knowing it. I quietly dismissed him, saying I would see him again the next day. Left alone, I balanced my accounts. Alas! my affairs were desperate! The five thousand francs in Martin’s possession were all I had left, and my debts amounted to four times that sum!

All day yesterday I remained stupefied, as it were, at so unexpected a disclosure. My father had gone to Paris. I resolved to take refuge in the country, and come to some decision. I went, scarcely knowing what I was about, angry with myself, with everybody else, and desperate. All night I sought some way of escape from the terrible blow that had befallen me. I walked to and fro. From anger I sank into the most profound dejection. The very thought of applying myself to any occupation whatever appeared, above all, intolerable.

When morning came, I mechanically went to walk beside the river that runs about a hundred yards from our house, and fell into a gloomy reverie. The sleepless nights, the rioting, the habits to which I had successively given myself up for years, the painful anxiety of the previous night, had excited and weakened my nervous system. I was, as it were, deprived of my reason.

While I was thus lingering on the shore, it seemed as if a mysterious voice invited me to bury myself in the current before me. A terrible struggle took place between my reason, the instinct that restrained me, and the hallucination that kept drawing me nearer the bank. Reason failed me. In a fit of despair, I cast myself into the stream. As soon as I felt the cold water, my reason, my faith, awoke as ardent as in the days of my boyhood. A cry issued from the very depths of my soul: “O Mary, save me!” It would be impossible to tell you with what fervor, what terror, I uttered this short prayer—impossible, also, to express the immense joy that filled my heart when I realized I was saved. But what confusion mingled with this joy—what gratitude, too, what admiration of the designs of God, when I saw it was you who had rescued me at the peril of your life!



M. Louis Beauvais had finished his story.

“And now,” said Victor, in the cheering, confidential tone of one friend who wishes to encourage another, “what are you going to do?”

“That is precisely the question that preoccupies me. In fact, I see no way of solving it. Were you to ask me what I am not going to do, oh! then I should not be embarrassed for a reply. At all events, had I even the means, I should not wish to continue the life I have led. Nor do I any longer desire to escape from the trying position I am in by having recourse to the cowardly, criminal means I took in a moment of madness. Suicide fills me with horror! One must behold death face to face, as I have to-day, to realize how easily a man can deceive himself. I had really arrived at such a state of indifference and insensibility that it seemed as if I had never had any religion; but the terrible thought no sooner sprang up in my soul that I was[189] about to appear before God, than I found myself as sincere a believer as on the day of my first communion. My whole life passed in review before me, and I condemned myself without awaiting the divine sentence. When I recall the inexpressible terror of that moment; when I remember if God had not sent you to my assistance, and that, had it not been for your heroism, I should have been for ever lost, there springs up in my heart a continually increasing gratitude to my heavenly Father, and to you who were the agent of his mercy.”

“Then, my friend,” replied Victor gravely, “you will allow me to make one request.”

“Consider whatever you would ask of me granted in advance.”

“Then, forget the past six or eight years of your life, and become again what you were under your mother’s influence.”

“I pledge you my word to do so, and hope by the divine assistance never to break my promise—a promise I make with inexpressible joy. But that is not all. What course do you advise me to take?”

“If I may form an opinion of your sister from what you say, she must be a person of intelligence, kind feelings, and decision. In your place, I would go to her, make known my exact situation, and ask her advice.”

“Yes; that is the best course to take. The idea pleases me. I will put it in execution this very evening. My father is to be absent a day or two longer. I shall have a good opportunity of talking freely with Aline. I will go directly to her when I leave you. To-morrow morning I will return and give you an account of our interview.”

Louis left us a few moments after. We commended him to God with all our hearts at our evening devotions. It was so impressive a spectacle to behold a soul break loose from past habits, and return to God humiliated and conscious of his weakness—repentant, and burning with ardor to enter upon a new life.

During the night, Victor was seriously ill. Fearing he was going to die, I exclaimed, in a moment of anguish:

“Oh! that unfortunate adventure! That wretched young man will be the death of you!”

“Take that back, dear,” said Victor; “it pains me. Instead of deploring this occurrence, and calling it unfortunate, you should thank God. He has thus granted my dearest wish. From the time I found my days numbered, I prayed God to grant me every possible opportunity of showing how earnestly I wished to serve him during the short time left me on earth. He has now granted my desire. If my going into the water to-day leads to my death, I shall have the infinite joy of being in a certain sense a martyr, for I fully realized the danger. But an interior voice whispered: ‘There is a soul to save,’ and I plunged into the river.... Others would have done the same, but God does not give every one such an opportunity. I thank him for having granted it to me.”

By degrees Victor’s alarming symptoms wore off. When he awoke the next morning, he was much better than I had dared hope. He recalled with a lively joy the events of the previous day, and expressed an eager desire to know what Louis and his sister had decided upon.

We were not kept in suspense long. Louis arrived about nine o’clock. Seeing his face was calm and happy, my poor husband manifested a livelier satisfaction than I had ever known him to express.

“Sit down there,” said he, pointing to an arm-chair beside his bed, “and[190] give us the details of all you have done.”

As we agreed upon last evening, replied Louis, I went directly home after leaving you, and inquired if my sister was in. They told me she was. I went to her room. It was vacant. A servant informed me that she had given up her old chamber some weeks before, and now occupied my mother’s. I found Aline sitting in the middle of the room beside a stand, in the same arm-chair my mother made use of to the last. I cannot express the emotion that overpowered me when I entered. The aspect of the room, the sight of the well-known furniture, Aline’s grave air, and her resemblance to my mother, all carried me back ten years. It seemed as if I were once more in the presence of her whom I loved so much, but whose counsels I had followed so poorly. My agitation increased when Aline sprang towards me, clasped me in her arms, and covered my face with her tears.

“Wicked, wicked boy, she cried; you wished to put an end to your life! How sinful in you! and what sorrow for us! Oh! conceal nothing from me.... You are very unhappy, then?... You have no confidence in me?... Come, tell me all. Leave me no longer in a state of uncertainty. And, first, have you renounced your horrible project?”

Her voice betrayed such profound emotion, her eyes such tender affection and deep anxiety, that I was affected to tears. I began by begging pardon for all the anxiety I had caused her. I pledged my word to enter upon a new life. When we were both somewhat calmer, I told her all I had related to you. At the end of the account, she looked at me as a mother would at her son, and said:

“Louis, the hand of God has visibly interposed in your behalf. Everything shows you would have been drowned. And what a horrible end!—in that river where so few people go, especially the spot you chose, had not Providence, at the very moment you plunged into the water, sent a man, a noble-hearted man, to save you at the peril of his life. That is not all. When you were able to thank your deliverer, you found it was—the very man who had already been brought to death’s door through your fault. If I am not deceived, this is a wonderful interposition of Providence. You have been a great sinner, my poor boy, and your conversion had to be effected by a great sacrifice. This sacrifice has been offered by M. Barnier in risking his life in order to restore you to existence, which you wished to deprive yourself of. I believe—pardon my great frankness—God wished, I believe, to inspire you with thorough repentance by showing you your victim under the form of your deliverer. Oh! if this repentance is not lasting, I shall tremble at the thought of the chastisement that the justice of God, weary of pardoning you, has in reserve. But, no!—there is no fear of that. And now, what are you going to do?”

“Put an end to my idle life.”

“Very well. It was idleness especially that caused your ruin. But what occupation will suit you? No imprudent heroism! You must do something that will be congenial.”

“I am an engineer. It is time to remember it. I am going to Paris. Either there or elsewhere I can easily find a place in some manufactory.”

“Very well. Father is to return to-morrow evening. What has occurred cannot be concealed from him. I am even of the opinion it would be best to tell him the whole [191]truth. Only ... you will allow me to speak with the frankness of a sister who loves you, will you not?”

“Oh! yes. Speak to me as our mother would.”

“Well, then, I must acknowledge father is extremely offended with you. He is kind, very kind, as you know, but he cannot endure want of calculation, especially in money matters, and your manner of conducting has excited his indignation. I fear, therefore, he will at first be greatly irritated at learning what has taken place. Public rumor will at once inform him of it, so that, when he sees you for the first time, you will not be able to induce him to listen to you. With your consent, I will talk with him first. To prevent a premature explanation with him, I propose you should go and pass two or three days with Aunt Mary. She is now at her country-seat in M——. It is not far off. I can easily send you word when it is time for you to return.”

I need not say with what gratitude I accepted this proposal, which revealed the kindness of a sister, the delicacy of a woman, and the prudence of a mother.

Aline continued: “I have two more requests to make. If you were a different person, I might hesitate. But you were once pious. You are better instructed in our religion than most of the poor young men of our day. In a word, you have never lost your faith. Do not delay having recourse to the remedy. Go to confession as soon as possible. Confession develops repentance, puts a seal on our good resolutions, and confers a special grace to keep them. I speak as I think. A repentance that remains purely human cannot be lasting.”

I promised to go to confession to Father——, and shall keep my promise.

“One favor more,” resumed Aline. “It is a somewhat delicate matter, but let us talk with the same freedom and simplicity that we did in our childhood. That is the shortest way to come to an understanding. You say you are fifteen thousand francs in debt. Knowing my father’s disposition as I do, I am sure this will cause trouble if he knows it. He is a man who would forgive your spending a hundred thousand francs, but a debt of five hundred would make him extremely angry. This is strange, but it is so. And you may be sure as soon as your creditors hear of your ruin, they will come upon you. We must, therefore, hasten to forestall them. We must settle with them where they are. Will you permit me to render you a little service?... Sit down here, and draw up, as papa would say, a schedule of your debts. I will give it to our head clerk to-morrow, bind him to secrecy, and before noon you will be free from debt.”

I was profoundly moved by so much generosity, and so profuse in my thanks as to greatly touch Aline herself. But she concealed her emotion under a lively, playful manner. I had to make out a list at once. I did so, and gave it to Aline. She took it with a smile, and folded it up without looking at it. There were two small sheets, one of which was nearly blank.

“Why two papers?” she asked mechanically.

“One contains the list—the sad list; the other is a note which”....

“Ah! that is too much! Louis, my poor Louis, you are only half converted! You do not really love me! You are unwilling to receive anything from me. You would deprive me of the pleasure of giving this to you. Ah! that is wrong. Oh! the contemptible rôle you wish me to play! [192]I lend it to you! Fie, fie!” ...

So saying, Aline tore up the unfortunate note.

The night was far advanced before we separated. I had already bidden my sister good-night. She retained my hand in hers, and, looking at me with a caressing air, said:

“Louis, one favor more! Let us say our night-prayers together at the foot of that bed where our dear mother made us say them so often. We will pray for her. She watches over us. What has happened to you is a proof of it.”

We sank on our knees beside each other. Aline said the prayers aloud. I repeated them with my lips and in my heart, and with so much joy and emotion that I melted into tears.

This morning I took leave of Aline. She means to come here herself, in order to express her gratitude. My mother could not feel more. Oh! how she loves you! As for me, I am going away ruined, but happier than if my fortune were increased tenfold. Pray for me. And you, my dear friend, take care of yourself. I trembled yesterday at the thought of the danger to which you had exposed yourself in order to save my life. I trembled as I came here, fearing your heroic imprudence might have led to fatal results! Thank God! there is nothing serious. But redouble your precautions; I shall need you for a long while. You will be my best guide in the new way upon which I have now entered.

Louis then departed, leaving us exceedingly happy at the favorable turn in his affairs.



The second day after Louis’ departure, we had in the afternoon an agreeable surprise: Aline called to see us. All that Louis had told us about her prepossessed us in her favor. The sight of her only increased our disposition to love her.

Aline was at the time I am speaking of—and still is—a fine-looking woman, tall, well-formed, and with a pleasing, intelligent face. Her manner is a little cold at first, but her reserve is not unpleasing, for it indicates a thoughtful mind. When she came into the room, my husband and I were reading. She went directly to Victor, and with emotion, but without any embarrassment, said:

“Monsieur, I am late in expressing my gratitude. Pardon this delay. It has not been without good reasons. I was expecting my father every moment, and was greatly preoccupied with all I had to communicate, as well as about the reply he would make.” ...

“Mademoiselle,” replied Victor gently, “there is no need of excusing yourself. I am happy, very happy, to see you, but had no right to expect your visit.”

“No right, monsieur?... What! did you not save my brother’s life?... And was it not you the unhappy fellow had before” ...

“O mademoiselle! do me the favor never to mention that circumstance!”

“You are generous, monsieur! But that is no reason why we should show ourselves ungrateful—rather the contrary. Louis and I can never forget that, before you saved his life, he had injured you to such a degree that he can never be sufficiently repentant. As to my father, I have not dared inform him of these details too painful to be acknowledged. My father, alas! is not religious. Louis[193]’ fault would seem so enormous to him that he would never forgive him.”

“It is, however, of but little account. If harm has resulted from it, Louis was only the involuntary cause. Let us adore the divine decrees, and forgive our poor friend. He had not, after all, any very criminal intentions.”

Aline looked at Victor with a sadness she could not wholly conceal. His wasted features, his eyes hollowed by suffering, his air of languor, nothing escaped her observation.

“I wish I could think so,” murmured she, as if speaking to herself. “Ah! poor Louis, what remorse he must feel!”

This allusion to Victor’s sad condition brought tears to my eyes. Victor suspected my emotion, and at once changed the subject.

“M. Louis has become my friend,” said he to Aline; “therefore pardon my curiosity, mademoiselle, if it is indiscreet. May we hope to see him again soon? Is M. Beauvais greatly offended with him?”

Everything is arranged for the best, though not without difficulty. My father was not originally wealthy. It has only been by dint of order, economy, and industry, that he has attained the position he now occupies. When he learned that Louis had lost, or rather squandered, his maternal inheritance, his anger was fearful. But by degrees I made him comprehend that Louis, though ruined, had shown new resolution—that he was willing to work; he wished to become useful, and regain all he had lost. My father then grew calm. And yet all my fears were not allayed. I had to tell him of Louis’ sad attempt at suicide, of which he was still ignorant, but which he could not fail to learn. I told him of it, dwelling on your devotedness, which struck him most of all.

“Has Louis shown himself duly grateful to M. Barnier for the service?” he asked. I replied that he had.

“So much the better. Such a sentiment does him honor. This circumstance may lead to a friendship between them which cannot be too intimate, in my opinion. And you say our prodigal son is willing to work? What is he going to do?”

“Anything you wish, father.”

“That is easily said, but a poor reply. Nothing is well done that we do not like to do. Has he manifested an inclination for any special occupation?”

“Louis is a civil engineer. He would like to find a place somewhere in that capacity.”

“Ah! he at length remembers he is a civil engineer!... He wishes to turn his acquirements to some account?... It is a wonder! He need not exile himself for that. You know Mr. Smithson?”

“Is not he the cold, ceremonious gentleman who came to see us Sunday?”

“The very one. Mr. Smithson is a wealthy Englishman who has been in France these twenty years. He came on account of his health. He settled at first in Paris, where he married a charming woman—a Catholic of no property, but of a good family. This excellent Mr. Smithson was so foolish as to speculate too much at the Bourse some years since, and his losses were considerable. To withdraw himself from such a temptation, he established his residence at St. M—— six months ago. The situation pleased him, and there was another inducement: a large paper manufactory there was offered for sale. He bought it, hoping not only to find occupation, and feed his incessant activity, but to repair the losses of the last few years. The mill is well situated[194] and well patronized. Everything would prove advantageous if Mr. Smithson were better versed in the knowledge of machinery. But though an Englishman, he has not been through the studies necessary to enable him to superintend his industrial project as he ought. Besides this, he is subject to frequent attacks of the gout. He has therefore besought me to find him a man capable of superintending the mill under his direction, and even of taking the whole charge if necessary.”

“So much for Louis’ affairs. What do you think of the arrangement? I approved of it without any restriction. And you, monsieur?”

“I think, mademoiselle,” replied Victor, “that Providence continues to treat Louis with parental kindness.”

“Oh! yes; truly parental! He will now remain under your influence. Even in the house he is to enter, everything will encourage him, I hope, to persist in his good resolutions. Mme. Smithson is said to be a woman of lovely character. She has a daughter who must be a prodigy, unless I have been misinformed. My father, who is very practical, and but little given to exaggeration, is enthusiastic in her praise.”

Victor knowingly smiled at this last communication.

“You have divined my thoughts,” said Aline, blushing a little. “Well, yes: this thought at once occurred to my mind. I said to myself, if Louis can find at Mr. Smithson’s not only an occupation that will enable him to forget the past, but an affection that will continue to sustain him in a better course, I shall consider him the most fortunate of men. But it is too soon to speak of that. This dear brother must first return home, and be accepted by Mr. Smithson, to whom my father wrote to-day.”

The next day both these things took place. Louis returned. Mr. Smithson at once accepted him as his assistant. After calling on us with his father, he left for St. M——.

While M. Beauvais was speaking to me, Louis said to Victor, in a low tone:

“Everything is done. The bonds of iniquity are completely broken. I have been to confession and to Holy Communion, and a new life has begun!”

The air of satisfaction with which he uttered these words, the calmness and unaffected gravity he manifested, all announced he had indeed become a new man.

“In a year he will be an eminent Christian!” said Victor, as Louis disappeared.

He was not mistaken.





The church has been commissioned to teach all mankind. It is by preaching she fulfils this great work. But to aid her in this divine mission, her Founder has furnished her with books written under the inspiration of the Holy Ghost, which contain the very word of God graven in ineffaceable characters. So precious a treasure has always been preserved by the church with the respect it merits. Her doctors have carefully weighed every word of these holy books; they have taken pleasure in developing the different significations; and their commentaries form the finest monuments of Christian literature. There, as in a well-furnished arsenal, they have sought spiritual arms in their warfare against the enemies of the faith, and they have defended the Bible with unequalled zeal against all attacks and alterations by heretics. The Scriptures have been the object of the fury of persecutors, and more than one hero has shed his blood to defend them from the insults of the unbeliever, and thereby had his name inscribed on the glorious roll of the martyrology.

Protestantism, at its very birth, was desirous of profiting by this respect of the Christian world. It affected an ardent zeal for the sacred books, and, carrying its veneration beyond reasonable limits, maintained that the Bible is the only rule of faith. But its very exaggerations, by a law of Providence, have led it to the opposite extreme. Three centuries have hardly elapsed, and the followers of those who acknowledged no other rule of faith than the Bible, gradually led to the verge of rationalism, accord a merely human authority to the sacred volume.

Even from the very dawn of the Reformation, the pernicious influence of free examination gave a deadly blow to the canon of Scripture. Luther was the foremost. Everything in Holy Writ that conflicted with his doctrines of wholly imputative justification, of free-will, and the sacraments was boldly consigned among the apocryphal books. The canon of Scripture, thus at the option of individuals, no longer had any stability. Individual caprice led to the admission or rejection of books that had been regarded as inspired from all antiquity. The authenticity of the Scriptures was not only questioned, but also their legitimate meaning. Luther denied the doctrinal authority of the church, and was obliged to make the Bible the ground of faith; that is, the Bible interpreted according to the particular notions of each believer. In reality, Luther wished to subject his followers to his own interpretation. Like rebels of every age, he arrogated an authority he refused to legitimate power. But logic has its inevitable laws. The Lutheran theory claimed absolute independence. It made all Christians, even the most ignorant, even those the farthest from the knowledge of the truth, judges of the real signification of the Scriptures.[196] It promised each believer the interior illumination of the Holy Spirit in ascertaining the true meaning of the sacred text beneath all its obscurities. But, as the divine Spirit is not pledged to fulfil the promises of the Reformer, each Protestant interprets the Bible according to his own views, and the various sects sprung from the Reform have, in the name of the Scriptures, maintained the most contradictory opinions.

Besides the change in the canon, and the false interpretation of the holy books, there was another abuse—that of unfaithful translations. Protestantism rejected the authority of the church, therefore it would not receive her version of the Scriptures. It had no regard for the Vulgate. The innovators, with Luther at their head, undertook new translations. In their boldness, they did not shrink from attempting to surpass the work of S. Jerome. They were not well versed in the knowledge of the original idioms; they had access to but few manuscripts; the copies they had were not the choicest; and yet they imagined they could excel the great doctor who spent so large a part of his life in Palestine, absorbed in the profound study of the ancient languages; who took pains to collate the best manuscripts, and was aided by the ancient rabbis the most versed in the knowledge of Hebrew antiquities and in the languages of the East. Every day a new translation appeared, which, under the pretext of adapting God’s own Word to the common mind, diffused heretical novelties by means of insidious falsifications.

The Reform was equally unscrupulous as to the correctness of the text. The Bible was left to the arbitrariness of its editors and the carelessness of printers. Through unscrupulousness or negligence, many incorrect expressions crept into the versions sold to the public. The new heresy was not wholly responsible for the numerous faults in the various editions of the Bible. The sacred book had for ages been subjected to all the hazards of individual transcription. The distractions of the copyist had, in many instances, caused the substitution of one word for another, the omission of a part of a verse, or the transferring of the marginal gloss to the text. Hence so many copies alike in the main, but full of discrepancies.


Such was the state of the Bible question at the opening of the Council of Trent. Its importance could not escape the bishops who composed that assembly, and the theologians who assisted them with their acquirements, consequently it was the first proposed for consideration. On the 8th of February, 1546, the fathers being assembled in general congregation, Cardinal del Monte, the chief legate of the Holy See, proposed the council should first consider the subject of the Holy Scriptures, and make a recension of the canon, in order to determine the arms to be used in the struggle against heresy, and also to thereby show Catholics whereon their faith was grounded, many of whom lived in deplorable ignorance on this point, seeing the same book accepted by some as dictated by the Holy Spirit, and rejected by others as spurious.[59] The president of the council afterwards determined the principal points to be submitted to the consideration of the Fathers.

But this is not the place to review the account of this interesting discussion. We will only state the results.

In the fourth session, held April 8,[197] 1546, the council promulgated its celebrated decree respecting the Holy Scriptures, which comprehended two very distinct parts: the first, dogmatic; the second, disciplinary.

The dogmatic part established the authority of the sacred books in matters of faith and morals, their divine origin, the canon, the authenticity of the Vulgate, and the rules for interpreting the inspired text.

The disciplinary prescriptions had reference to the use of the Vulgate in the lessons, sermons, controversies, and commentaries; the obligation of interpreting the Scriptures according to the unanimous teachings of the Fathers; the respect to be paid to the divine Word, and, consequently, the crime of those who apply it to profane, light, or superstitious uses. The council likewise enacted severe laws against publishers who issue the holy books, or commentaries on them, without a written authorization of the ordinary, and against the vendors or holders of prohibited editions; finally, it ordained that the Holy Scriptures, especially the Vulgate, be henceforth printed with all possible correctness.

To these prescriptions of the fourth session we will add the first chapter of the decree of reform, continued in the fifth session, ordering the institution of a course of Holy Scripture in certain churches, in order that the Christian community might not be ignorant of the salutary truths contained in the sacred volume. Such was the reply to Protestant calumnies which accused the church of withholding the sacred treasure of God’s Word from the faithful.

Such, briefly, were the labors of the Council of Trent with regard to the Holy Scriptures. The importance of the decree of the fourth session must not be estimated according to the brief place it occupies in the canons, for, brief as it is, it has had an incalculable influence on sacred science. This decree, in fact, gave rise to those admirable works of criticism that have defended the authentic canon against the attacks of heresy, and reduced the pretended discoveries of Protestantism respecting the true canon of holy books to their proper value; thence the number of excellent commentaries that for three centuries have been enriching Catholic theology; and thence so many apologetic works which have defended the truth of the Biblical narrative against the false pretensions of rationalistic history. To this same decree we owe the many learned researches concerning the original text, the primitive versions regarded as genuine in the ancient churches, and, above all, the incomparable edition of the Vulgate—the result of thirty years’ labor by those most versed in the study of sacred literature.

It would seem as if there were no necessity of reconsidering a question so fully weighed by the Council of Trent. And yet the Fathers of the Vatican also deemed it proper to take up the subject of the Holy Scriptures, in order to reaffirm what had been defined by the Council of Trent, to give greater prominence to points that the council had left obscure, and to clear up some difficulties of interpretation that had arisen within three centuries even among Catholic schools. The dogmatic part of the decree of Trent alone was renewed and completed by the Fathers of the Vatican. The exclusively doctrinal character of the decree Dei Filius admitted no reconsideration of the disciplinary laws relating to the publishing of the holy books, or their commentaries, and the abuses that might be made of the sacred text. Besides, the penalties decreed by the Council of Trent were such as in our[198] day could not be put in execution, as they consisted not only of spiritual censures, but pecuniary fines. The ecclesiastical authority, deprived of its ancient tribunals, and living in the midst of a society whose leading maxim is liberty of the press and liberty of conscience, could not revive the old penalties. The Fathers of the Vatican also omitted everything respecting the authenticity of the Vulgate. Many of them, however, requested the council to ratify the decree of the fourth session of Trent on this point, but the greater part of the bishops did not deem it advisable to accede to the request. What, indeed, could they add to that which had been so wisely defined by the Fathers of Trent? Besides, is not the Vulgate received without protest by the whole Catholic world as the only version recognized by the church as authentic? As to the rationalists, it is not the translation of the sacred books they attack, but the books themselves, their canonicity and supernatural origin.

Laying aside, therefore, all these questions so important in themselves, but which are not now points of controversy, the Council of the Vatican only dwelt on the authority of the Scriptures, their divine origin, the canon, and the rule of interpretation. On all these points it had to oppose modern rationalism, and banish false and dangerous theories from Catholic schools of theology.


First, in opposition to rationalism, the council teaches that divine revelation is comprised in the Scriptures and tradition. This was declared in the same terms by the Council of Trent, but it was by no means useless in these times to renew so fundamental a definition. Modern science rejects revelation: to be consistent, it ought also to reject its monuments. It regards the Holy Scriptures as merely of human authority. It does not, it is true, imitate the cynicism of the philosophers of the XVIIIth century: it does not make our holy books the butt of their foolish railleries. On the contrary, it affects a profound respect for them, though it refuses to accept them as the organ of divine communications. It regards them as it would the discourses of Socrates—as books full of admirable wisdom which every philosopher ought to know and study, but which do not owe their origin to inspiration, properly so-called, or to revelation.

Discussion as to such an error was impossible. The council had merely to pass its judgment, and repeat what the church had taught its members for eighteen centuries, as a fresh proof that the Christian faith does not falter in encountering the many new forms of incredulity. Having affirmed the truth of revelation, it was necessary to point out what it was contained in, that the Christian might know where to study the science of salvation. It says: “This supernatural revelation, according to the belief of the universal church, as declared by the holy Council of Trent, is contained in the written books and in the unwritten traditions that have come down to us.”

But what books contain this revelation? Pursuing the subject, the council defined anew the canon of Scripture, which the state of the times made, if not necessary, at least very opportune. Protestant critics have not ceased since the Reformation to attack the canon sanctioned by the authority of the church. Rationalism has come to the support of Protestant criticism, and sometimes flatters itself it has, by its historical[199] discoveries, blotted out the entire list of the holy books. The unadulterated traditions preserved by the church have no scientific value in the eyes of rationalism, which only admits the canonicity of those books that can trace the proofs of their origin back to the very time of the apostles. Tertullian took a wrong stand in asserting that the dogmas of faith should have prescriptive proof. In vain the Catholic points out the wholly exceptional circumstances that surround the Scriptural canon—the impossibility from the very first of admitting books of doubtful origin as coming from the apostles, or that these books could have been changed in any respect under the jealous guardianship of a church and hierarchy spread over the face of the earth, and charged with the conservation of the sacred deposit. The incredulous critic refuses to receive proofs which the most common mind perceives the full value of as well as the good sense. What does he substitute for them? Theories founded on mere conjecture, and constantly changing, but which are welcomed as the final conclusions of science. Have we not seen the school of Tübingen found on some obscure words of Papias a whole system tending to establish the more recent composition of the Gospels? These new doctors regard the books of divine truth as some of those legends that are embellished as they pass from mouth to mouth till they are collected in a definite form by some unknown writer. And has not this strange theory met with ardent panegyrists in France, as if it were the definite solution of the great controversy on the origin of the Gospels?[60]

Whoever attentively examines these strange theories will soon perceive their weak point. But where are the men in the present generation who read with sufficient care to see the hollowness of such solutions? Their authors have seats in our academies; they occupy the most important professorships; there is not an honorary distinction that does not add its recommendation to their apparent knowledge. Skilled in praising one another, the journals and reviews regarded as authorities, even by certain Catholics, extol their labors. One would think they had a monopoly of science. Has not all this been a source of real danger to the faith of Christians?

The church had to counteract the influence of a criticism as bold as it was easy, by her immutable decrees. It must once more affirm the ancient canon of Scripture. This catalogue of the sacred books had been solemnly approved at the end of the IVth century, in a celebrated decree of the Councils of Hippo and Carthage, in which the Fathers declared they received this canon from their ancestors in the faith. A little later, Pope S. Innocent I. sent this same canon of Scripture to S. Exuperius, the illustrious Bishop of Toulouse. S. Gelasius, in 494, included it in his synodical decree. Finally, the Council of Florence, in its decree relating to the Jacobites, and, at a later period, the Council of Trent, sanctioned it by their supreme authority. Several of the Fathers of Trent proposed to subject it to a re-examination; not in order to retrench anything, but to satisfy the heretical, and convince them by such a discussion that the Church of Rome had not lightly decided on the list of the inspired books. But a large majority of the Fathers thought, and with reason, that such a discussion was appropriate to schools[200] of Catholic theology, but to a council it belonged to pronounce authoritatively. The canon of Scripture, being a dogma of faith, formally defined by popes and councils, and consequently unchangeable, could only be proclaimed anew and without discussion.[61] The Council of the Vatican came to a like decision, and, in declaring its acceptance of the canon of the Council of Trent, with each of its books, in all the parts, it strengthened the faith of Christians against the shameful pretensions of false science.

This course has shocked the Protestant historian of the council. M. de Pressensé is indignant at so summary a procedure. “The council,” he says, “has fallen into a profound and dangerous error on two important points. In the first place, it proclaims the indisputable canonicity of all the books of the Vulgate, including the Apocrypha[62] of the Old Testament, thus showing it regards the immense labors of the critics of the XIXth century as of no account, and acknowledging that it is not permitted, for example, to question the origin of the Gospel of Matthew, or the author of the Epistle to the Hebrews, by referring to such and such an expression of a Father of the IId and IIId centuries.[63]The Catholic Church is thus prevented anew from taking any part in the great work of Christian science of our day, which consists in establishing a safeguard to the true canon of Holy Scripture by free and conscientious research. What confidence can we have in Catholic theology, on those points disputed by rationalism, like the authenticity of the fourth Gospel? Examination, even, is forbidden. Everything must be accepted in a lump. How much valuable co-operation is thus lost or made fruitless through the council!”[64]

The church, then, at the bidding of this Protestant theologian, should renounce her right to decide on the true Scriptures, and give up the canon to the researches of rationalistic science, and this in order to provide a safeguard for this same canon. An amusing idea, to give up the catalogue of holy books to the caprice of incredulous critics in order to preserve it intact! And besides, what new documents can rationalistic science bring to light not perfectly known and considered by the Catholic theologians of the last three centuries? Catholic doctors have seen and weighed these difficulties as fully, to say the least, as Protestant critics, but they have not thought a few obscurities ought, scientifically, to outweigh immemorial prescription, or,[201] dogmatically, the perpetual usage of the church and the decrees of councils.

Rationalism, on the contrary, appeals to obscure passages, or hasty conclusions sometimes to be met with in the Fathers, in order to exclude books from the Scriptural canon that have been venerated from time immemorial as inspired. On which side is the real scientific method? If historical records merit any confidence in spite of difficulties of detail, no person of sincerity would hesitate to give the preference to the theological rather than the rationalistic method.

As to the reproach made against the church for confining criticism within such narrow limits as to stifle it, nothing is more contrary to experience. The Council of Trent likewise decided on the canon of Scripture, and yet what extensive labors, how many learned works, have been published within three centuries in reply to the attacks of Protestantism, and in order to establish the authenticity of the books rejected by the Reformer! No, indeed; the church, in defining the canon of Scripture, does not discourage the researches of the learned respecting the Bible. The love of sacred literature, in the first place, and also the necessity of defending Catholic belief against the constantly renewed attacks of heterodox criticism, will keep Catholic apologists constantly at work. The church, in maintaining its canon, directs their labors, but without putting any restraint on their abilities.


Besides reaffirming the ancient decrees relating to the canon of Scripture, the Council of the Vatican has completed and explained more clearly what faith requires us to believe respecting the origin of the holy books. This point had not been fully decided. The wants of the times had not before required it. But the attacks of rationalism, and the misinterpretations of semi-rationalism, required a more definite decision in order to put an end to dangerous teachings even in Catholic schools.

Christians have from the beginning believed God to be the author of the Holy Scriptures. The Fathers of the fourth Council of Carthage, in the profession of faith required of the new bishops, expressly made mention of this truth. The same profession of faith is made in our day by those who are promoted to the episcopate. Pope S. Leo IX., in the profession of faith to which he required Peter of Antioch to subscribe, declared God to be the author of the Old and New Testaments, including the law, the prophets, and the apostolic books. The Council of Florence inserted this same article in the decree about the Jacobites: The most holy Roman Church “confesses that it is one and the same God who is the author of the Old and the New Testament; that is to say, the law, the prophets, and the Gospel; the saints of both Testaments having spoken under the inspiration of the same Holy Spirit.” Finally, the Council of Trent, renewing the decree of Florence, accepted all the canonical books of the two Testaments, God being the author of them both: Cum utriusque unus Deus sit auctor. Besides, all these decrees were only an expansion of the words of the Nicene Creed: Qui locutus est per prophetas.

The Catholic dogma is explicit: “God is the author of the books of the Old and the New Testament.” The definitions of the ancient councils had for their direct object the condemnation of the errors of the Manichees, who made a distinction between the two Testaments, attributing[202] the first to the evil principle, the second to the true God. But, secondarily, these definitions, referring to the actual origin of the Holy Scriptures, declare they have God for their author. The Council of Florence gave this explanation: “Because the saints of both Testaments wrote under the inspiration of the same Holy Spirit.”

But what is meant by inspiration? An important question, on which not only Protestants differ from Catholics, but on which even orthodox writers are not agreed.

To say what Protestantism understands by the inspiration of the Scriptures would be difficult, or, to speak more correctly, impossible. In a system where all belief is founded on free examination, there must be an infinite variety of doctrinal opinions. The first Reformers understood the inspiration of the holy books in the strictest sense—every word of Scripture was sacred. Now, Protestantism, even the most orthodox, allows greater latitude. Constrained to make more or less concession to the encroaching spirit of rationalism, it takes refuge in vague expressions that leave one in doubt as to the part God had in the composition of the sacred books. Here is a pastor who considers himself orthodox, and boasts of remaining faithful to the principles of Luther and Calvin; he enters upon the subject of the Scriptures, and speaks at length on the inspiration of the Holy Ghost. Nevertheless, in these holy books inspired by God, he admits the possibility of complete error when there is any question of history or science which does not touch directly on religious dogmas or precepts. Even in what relates to religious truth, inspiration, to him, is reduced to I know not what particular assistance granted those who had witnessed the life of Christ, in relating what they had seen and heard.[65]

According to this theory, every way so vague, we ask ourselves, What was the nature of the inspiration imparted to the Evangelists SS. Mark and Luke, who were not witnesses of our Saviour’s deeds, but merely related what they had heard from others; what was the nature of that imparted to S. Paul, who had never seen Christ, and took something very different for the subject of his epistles from the acts and discourses of the Redeemer?

The incertitudes of Protestantism had pervaded more than one Catholic school, especially in Germany. Jahn, in his introduction to the books of the Old Testament, confounds inspiration with assistance. A book composed by the mere light of reason and pure human industry might be placed on the catalogue of Holy Writ, if the church declared God had preserved the writer from all error in the composition of the work. Who does not see the falseness of a system which would include all the dogmatic decrees of the popes and councils in the canon of Scripture? Others confound inspiration with revealed truth. Every book written according to the precise spirit of divine revelation could be placed in the canon. According to this, not only the definitions of popes and councils, but many ascetic works, sermons, and catechisms, might be reckoned among the Holy Scriptures.

Finally, others, desirous of explaining the difference to be seen in the various books of the Bible, think several kinds of inspiration are to be distinguished. Sometimes the truths the sacred writer had to record were above human comprehension, or at least unknown to him, and could[203] only be learned by actual revelation. The inspiration God accords for this class of truths supersedes all effort on the part of the writer. It is a suggestive inspiration, or, as it is called, antecedent.

If the sacred writer was himself aware of the facts he related, and the philosophical maxims he proposed to insert in his book, or if he had drawn from any other source the truths he undertook to record, he had no need of suggestive inspiration. His book, however, is to be regarded as the work of God if he received special assistance to guide him in the choice of the truths he recorded, and prevent him from making any mistake in expressing himself. This is what is called concomitant inspiration.

Finally, suppose a work composed by mere human wisdom, without any other participation on the part of God than general assistance, and it comes to pass that God, by the testimony of his prophets, or the voice of the church, declares this book exempt from error, it is thereby endowed with infallible authority, and may be reckoned among the Scriptures. This kind of approval has been styled, though very improperly, subsequent inspiration.

These three distinct kinds of inspiration have been taught by eminent theologians, such as Sixtus of Sienna (Biblioth. Sac. l. viii. Hæres, 12 ad. obj. sept.), Bonfrère (Proloq. c. viii.), Lessius and Hamel (Hist. Congreg. de Auxiliis, a Livino de Meyere, l. i. c. ix.). But these doctors never actually applied this distinction to the books that compose the canon of Scripture. It was for them a mere question of possibility: could books thus authentically approved have a place in the Scriptural canon? They replied in the affirmative. But are there actually any of our holy books that are wholly due to human industry, and which God has declared sacred by subsequent approval? We give Lessius’ opinion: “Though I do not believe this kind of inspiration produced any of our canonical books, I do not think it impossible” (loc. cit.).

But the wise reserve of these great theologians has not been imitated by all. A learned German professor, who is likewise a highly esteemed author, has not hesitated to apply the distinction of these three kinds of inspiration to the existing books: “The kind of inspiration,” he says, “that produced such and such a book, or such and such a passage, it is almost impossible to determine in particular. We can only say that the parts where we read, Thus saith the Lord, or a similar formula, probably belong to the first kind of inspiration; the historical narrations that came under the writer’s observation belong to the third (subsequent inspiration); the poetical books seem to come under the second (concomitant inspiration).”[66]

These systems, it is manifest, weaken one’s idea of the inspiration of the sacred volume as always understood by the church. We want an inspiration by virtue of which the book is really the work of God, and not of man—the truths it contains of divine, and not of human, origin: man is the instrument, he who dictates is the Holy Ghost: man lends his hand and pen, the Spirit of truth puts them in action. But in the systems referred to, it is not really God who speaks: it is man. Supernatural testimony gives indeed a divine authority to a book, but it could not make God the author of what was really composed by man. And though these writings should contain the exact truths of revelation, they[204] would be as much the result of human wisdom as sermons, catechisms, ascetic books, and even the creeds and decrees of councils which clearly state the doctrines of the church.

It was the duty of the council to put an end to interpretations which, depriving the sacred books of the prestige of divine origin, diminished their authority among the faithful. It has therefore defined what every Catholic must believe concerning the degree of inspiration accorded to the sacred writers. This definition is first stated in a negative form: “The church holds them (the Holy Scriptures) as sacred and canonical, not for the reason that they have been compiled by mere human industry, and afterwards approved by her authority; nor only because they contain revelation without error.” To this definition in a negative form succeeds a positive one, in which the council declares the essential condition of a book’s being placed in the canon of Scripture—“because, having been written under the inspiration of the Holy Ghost, they have God for their author”: propterea quod Spiritu Sancto inspirante conscripti, Deum habent auctorem.

The council, therefore, by this dogmatic definition, has excluded any other meaning to the inspiration of the Scriptures that does not ascribe them to the special agency of God. The schools are still free to discuss what this divine operation consists in, and the conditions on which a book may be said to have God for its author. But they must first reject every explanation that reduces the agency of God to mere assistance, and, still more, to subsequent approbation. It is in this sense we must understand the fourth canon of the second series: “If any one shall refuse to receive for sacred and canonical the books of the Holy Scriptures in their integrity, with all their parts, according as they were enumerated by the Holy Council of Trent, or shall deny that they are inspired by God, let him be anathema.” It is the same anathema pronounced by the Council of Trent, to which the Council of the Vatican has added the express mention of the inspiration of the Holy Ghost.

There are other important observations to be made concerning this definition. Though by no means favorable to the system of Sixtus of Sienna, Bonfrère, and Lessius, it does not, however, condemn them in formal terms. These theologians, as we have said, only considered the subject in abstracto: Would subsequent inspiration or approbation give a book a right to be placed in the canon?—a verbal question rather than one of doctrine. It is certain that such a book would have a sacred authority, but it is also certain that it could not be called the work of God in the same sense as the holy books now in our possession. The council, in its definition, only considered the actual point; it declared all the books of our canon have God for their author, because the Holy Ghost was the chief agent in their composition. But the opinion of the modern exegete who applies the doctrine of subsequent approbation to the books contained in our actual canon appears to us really condemned by the new definition.

Now, the decree of the Vatican does not forbid the division of the holy books into several classes according as the truths they contain are recorded by the writer as a special revelation, or from knowledge acquired by his natural faculties. But this distinction does not infringe on the overruling agency of God in the composition of the book.

Finally, the question of verbal[205] inspiration, so often discussed by theologians, remains as free since the council as before. It is not necessary for a ruler who issues a decree to dictate every expression, but merely the substance of the new law: the secretary clothes it in his own style. The latter is not a mere copyist: he, too, is the author of the decree, but in a secondary sense. It is the same with regard to the Holy Scriptures. The Holy Spirit suggests the truths to be recorded in the prophecy, and directs the writer, but David and Isaias clothe them in their own royal style, Amos in his rustic language.


We come now to the question of the interpretation of the holy books. On this point, also, the Council of the Vatican has renewed and completed the decree of the Council of Trent, which, in its fourth session, endeavored to check the boldness, or, to make use of its own expression, the restlessness of the free-thinkers of the age. Protestants are constantly appealing to the Scriptures, but to the Scriptures according to private interpretation. Agreed merely in their opposition to the church and its doctrines, they are divided infinitely as to the signification of the simplest texts. The strangest interpretations are daily astonishing the faith of the believer, and giving rise to scandals among Christians. To obviate this abuse, the Council of Trent made the following decree: “In order to restrain restless spirits, the council decrees that no one, relying on his own wisdom in matters of faith and morals pertaining to the edification of the Christian doctrine, shall wrest the Holy Scripture according to his own private notions, and have the boldness to interpret it contrary to the true sense in which it has been and is held by our holy mother, the church, to whom it belongs to judge of the interpretation of the Holy Scriptures, or contrary to the unanimous consent of the Fathers.”

This decree, as to its form, is chiefly disciplinary: it prohibits interpreting the Scriptures contrary to the definition of the church and the unanimous opinion of the Fathers in all that relates to faith and morals.

This disciplinary prescription is based on a dogmatic principle which the Council of Trent did not define, but which it referred to as an incontestable truth: to wit, that to the church it belongs to judge of the true meaning of the Scriptures: cujus est judicare de vero sensu et interpretatione Scripturarum sanctarum. This truth is the necessary consequence of the supreme magistracy of the faith. All Catholics venerate the church as the depository of revealed truth, and consequently of the Scriptures. But the deposit is not merely a material one. The Christian receives the Scriptures from her, first, because it is by her testimony he is assured of the true canon, that they have God for their author, and that he is enabled to distinguish the real text from the inaccuracies that have, in the course of time, been introduced by the carelessness of copyists, as well as the unscrupulousness of heretics. Moreover, he receives them from the church, because through her he is made aware of their true meaning. What would it avail him to possess the inspired volume, if, like the book in the Apocalypse, it were sealed with seven seals? And who has the power to break these seals but the church—bride of the Lamb?

In vain Protestantism repeats that the Scriptures are plain in themselves, or, at least, that the interior illumination of the Holy Spirit renders[206] them intelligible to all. If this is really the case, why, whenever the voice of the church is unheeded, the infinite number of ways of interpreting the same passages? How was it that Calvin plainly saw a mere figure of the Presence in the passage relating to the Eucharist, when Luther clearly understood it to mean the Real Presence? Would the Holy Spirit speak to Luther in one way, and to Calvin in another entirely opposite? Whatever the Reformers may say, the Scriptures are full of obscurity. The truths of salvation they contain are not expressed in the didactic manner of a theological treatise. The truths are there, but veiled in mystery, expressed in a language now dead, and full of allusions to a history and to customs widely differing from ours, as well as to the institutions and local circumstances of a nation no longer existing. Private research would, no doubt, enable a small number of men of intelligence and learning to comprehend many parts of our holy books; but this means is not accessible to the masses, who would remain for ever deprived of the truths contained in the Scriptures if there were not on earth an authorized interpreter of the divine text. What certitude would the learned themselves have on this point without the help of the church? How many divergent opinions would not liberty of interpretation produce! It was, therefore, necessary that the church, when entrusted with the Scriptures, should at the same time receive power to interpret them authentically. This is why the Council of Trent forbids interpreting them contrary to the defined meaning of the church.

Now, the church acquits itself of its duties as interpreter in two ways: by solemn definitions, and by the ordinary teachings of its doctors. The definitions of the church are not, in fact, restricted to the declaration of dogmatic decisions: they often decide the real meaning of the Scriptures. Thus we see the Council of Trent is not satisfied with defining the divine institution and existence of the sacrament of Extreme Unction: it also declares that the well-known words of the Apostle S. James refer to this sacrament, and designate its ministry, its matter, its form, and its effects.[67] In like manner, with regard to the sacrament of Penance, not content with defining its existence, it declares, in the first chapter of the fourteenth session, that our Lord referred to this sacrament when, addressing his disciples, he said: Quorum remiseritis peccata. We could point out many other passages of Scripture of a similar nature which the Council of Trent and other councils have authentically defined the meaning of.

But the interpretation of the sacred text is more frequently shown by the usage of the church, especially in its liturgy, and by the unanimous or almost unanimous teachings of the Fathers and doctors. It was thus the meaning of the passages concerning the Eucharist were clearly determined by the liturgy, the writings of the Fathers, the teachings of the schools, and the general sentiment of the Christian world a long time before it was expressly defined by the Council of Trent. In the same way, the church did not wait for the definition of the Council of the Vatican to regard the promises of Christ to S. Peter as made to the See of Rome, and including the essential prerogatives of the Pontifical power.

Such was the twofold manner of defining the meaning of the Scriptures[207] the Council of Trent had in view when it forbade their interpretation on points of faith and morals contrary to the sense in which they are held by holy church and the unanimous consent of the Fathers.

This decree appears sufficiently explicit. And yet semi-rationalism found two ways of eluding its bearing. The first was to regard this part of the decree of the fourth session as purely disciplinary, doubtless necessary in the condition of Christendom at the time of the Council of Trent, but susceptible of being afterwards modified. Now, in our day, the Catholic faith is no longer attacked as it once was through the authority of the Scriptures. Knowledge has increased. The commentator is forced to be mindful of the progress of human intelligence, and to reconcile the meaning of the Scriptures with the discoveries of the age. If one persists in asserting that the decree of the council relates to faith as well as discipline, semi-rationalism has recourse to another evasion: it understands this decree merely in a negative sense; namely, that it is not lawful to interpret the Scriptures contrary to the Catholic belief, which does not imply any obligation to regard the meaning the church attaches to a passage of Scripture as an article of faith. According to this rule, the Catholic theologian could not interpret any text in opposition to the existence of the sacrament of Extreme Unction, but, notwithstanding the declarations of the Council of Trent, he would remain within the bounds of orthodoxy, even if he denied that the words of S. James had any reference to this sacrament.

Such is the half-way manner in which unsubmissive souls flatter themselves they can remain true to the faith without accepting the teachings of the church. For a long time this doctrine was practically followed, though not formally stated. We will give an example. In the XVIIth century, the Oratorian, Richard Simon, carried the boldness of his criticisms to such an extreme that he openly acknowledged he made no account of traditional interpretation, the authority of the Fathers, and the teachings of the church; pretending to correct, according to the Hebrew or Greek text, the meaning constantly followed by the doctors of the church. Our readers are well aware with what vigor Bossuet attacked a system so thoroughly Protestant.[68]

But this way of understanding the decree of the Council of Trent was in direct opposition to the terms in which it is conceived. The form doubtless is disciplinary, but the foundation of this law is expressly stated, and is wholly dogmatic: Cujus (ecclesiæ) est judicare de vero sensu et interpretatione Scripturarum sanctarum. This was not a mere disciplinary prescript made for the first time by the council, but the reminder of an obligation imposed on all Christians by the very nature of revelation and the authority of the church.

If it is not true that this decree is purely disciplinary, it is still less so that it should be understood in a mere negative sense, as if the council only intended forbidding the interpretation of the Scriptures contrary to the express dogmas or even the definitions of the church and the unanimous opinion of the Fathers. The principle on which this decree is founded goes still further: “It is to the church it belongs to judge of the true sense and interpretation of the Holy Scriptures.” Consequently, we ought not only to refrain from contradicting her authentic interpretation,[208] but should regard her as our guide, and her decision in matters of interpretation as binding on every Christian, so that he would fall into heresy who should refuse to accept the meaning of a passage of Scripture as defined by holy church. Such is the evident meaning of the decree of the Council of Trent.

This truth is so manifest that the profession of faith by Pius IV. substitutes the positive and general form for the negative and restrictive terms of the decree: “I also admit the Holy Scriptures according to that sense which our Holy Mother the church hath held and doth hold, to whom it belongeth to judge of the true sense and interpretation of the Scriptures; neither will I ever take and interpret them otherwise than according to the unanimous consent of the Fathers.” Here the teachings of the church and the opinions of the Fathers are plainly made the positive and authentic rule of interpretation.

There could be no doubt as to the meaning of the Fathers of Trent. But a controversy having arisen on a point of so much importance, the Fathers of the Vatican were forced to explain this decree in such a way as to prevent any ambiguity. They did so in these terms: “And since those things which the Council of Trent has declared by wholesome decree concerning the interpretation of the Holy Scriptures, in order to restrain restless spirits, are explained by some in a wrong sense; we, renewing the same decree, declare this to be the mind of the synod: that, in matters of faith and morals which pertain to the edification of Christian doctrine, that is to be held as the true sense of the sacred Scripture which Holy Mother Church, to whom it belongs to judge of the true sense and interpretation of the sacred Scriptures, has held and holds: and therefore that no one may interpret the sacred Scripture contrary to this sense or contrary to the unanimous consent of the Fathers.”

It follows from the definition of the Vatican that the decree of the Council of Trent was not purely disciplinary, but likewise dogmatic: that consequently it was not intended for a particular epoch and exceptional circumstances, but was the expression of a divine law applicable to every age, and as lasting as the church and the world; that this decree not only forbids understanding the Scriptures contrary to the belief and interpretation of the church, but makes it a positive obligation to accept the meaning the church attaches to the sacred text; in short, that the disciplinary law is founded on a dogmatic truth which makes the authentic interpretation of the church a rule of faith to which every mind should submit in the study of Holy Writ.

It is thus the Council of the Vatican has renewed, explained, and completed the definitions of the Council of Trent touching the great question of the Scriptures. The second chapter of the Constitution Dei Filius, in addition to the decree of the fourth session of the Council of Trent, henceforth forms the basis of theological teachings in everything relating to Biblical science.



This bald, unjointed chat of his, my lord, I answered indirectly—Shakespeare, Henry IV.

Authors are proverbially not the best judges of their own works. It is as rare, therefore, as it is gratifying to meet with one whose verdict on his own production exactly coincides with that of the critic. Such a fortunate concurrence of opinion between the writer and the person to whose lot it has fallen to pass sentence on a work for a certain portion of the public, relieves the latter gentleman of a vast amount of responsibility, and renders his difficult task infinitely lighter and more pleasant than such a task generally proves to be.

When, then, Mr. Fiske, the author of Myths and Myth-Makers, is kind enough gratuitously to inform us in his preface that the “series of papers” of which his book is composed is “somewhat rambling and unsystematic,” it can be considered no injustice to him, and no presumption on our part, to say that we cordially agree with him. And when he further informs us that, “in order to avoid confusing the reader with intricate discussions, he has sometimes cut the matter short by expressing himself with dogmatic definiteness where a sceptical vagueness might perhaps have been more becoming,” we find nothing whatever to object to in this statement, with the solitary exception of the word “perhaps,” which, if suppressed, would bring it nearer the exact truth.

However, Mr. Fiske has here furnished us with a very fair idea, of what the reader is to expect from his Myths. He himself has passed sentence on himself. He tells us practically that we must not expect too much from his “rambling” papers; he forestalls, if he does not deprecate, criticism by assuring us at the outstart that his fault has not been on the side of modesty of opinion and judicial weighing of what he set forth. What, then, is left for the critic to do but to confirm the self-condemnation of the author?

But we cannot allow Mr. Fiske to escape us in this fashion. Mr. Fiske is an M.A., and Mr. Fiske is an LL.B., and a professor, and a professor of philosophy—at Harvard, too. So that, although the dates so carefully affixed to the end of each of his “rambling and unsystematic” papers indicate that Mr. Fiske knocked this book off in three months, still three months of philosophic chaff from a Harvard professor ought surely to contain some grains of wheat.

The book in itself is not an uninteresting one. It is chock-full of mythical stories, or folk-lore, or whatever people may please to call what in our younger days we should have comprised under the one delicious head of fairy-tales. To be sure, the stories were all told before and by somebody else; but then, Mr. Fiske gives everybody due credit, and confines his own portion of the work to a running commentary with an undercurrent of foot-notes, and all sorts of quotations, from the Rig-Veda down to Jack and Jill. We cannot in justice say that Mr. Fiske’s portion is as interesting[210] as the myths themselves, though partaking considerably of their character.

But to come to the point—what does Mr. Fiske mean by his book? What idea would he convey to us? What would he have us infer from it? “A book’s a book, although there’s nothing in’t.”

If it is suggestive of anything at all, it is this: all or the chief portion of the great myths of antiquity refer to the struggle between darkness and light. It was the phenomenon of night and day which puzzled people in the dawn of the world, ages before men possessed the great blessing of this XIXth century, which blessing is, according to Mr. Fiske, via M. Littré, “scientific faith,” seemingly the only sure thing in this enlightened age.

Some people might require a definition of this wonderful faith of modern invention; but then, some people always will ask disagreeable questions. For their benefit, it may be said to mean taking nothing for fact or truth except what you can arrive at, or prove, or demonstrate by a scientific process: in plain English, no faith at all.

Mr. Fiske then takes up this theory: that all men, being puzzled by this daily phenomenon of light and darkness, day and night, and having no “scientific faith” to guide them, and nothing better (Mr. Fiske will pardon us this little bit of heresy against the XIXth century) to supply its place, set to thinking and endeavoring to solve this tremendous problem. They were all a dreadful sort of people all the world over: they “knew nothing about laws of nature, nothing about physical forces, nothing about the relations of cause and effect, nothing about the necessary regularity of things.” As a set-off against all these “nothings,” they possessed a something in the shape of “an unlimited capacity for believing and fancying, because fancy and belief had not yet been checked and headed off in various directions by established rules of experience.” To all of which, and a great deal more of the same nature, we feel very much inclined to append that awkward Q. E. D. of the geometry which somebody would tag on to the end of those beautiful propositions at school, and which our professor terrified us by translating, “Which must be proved.”

Mr. Fiske, then, having set this profound and eternal conundrum before the crazed intellects of the human race, which were gifted, according to him, with nothing but this “unlimited capacity for believing and fancying”—one would imagine that there might have been room for Revelation here; but Revelation, of course, clashes with “scientific faith,” and is therefore a myth in Mr. Fiske’s eyes—what were the poor beings to do but endow everything, particularly the sun, with the “volition” which they felt within themselves? How or why this must have been so Mr. Fiske fails to explain, or indeed that it was so at all. However, just for argument’s sake, let us take his word for it, though by so doing we are false to scientific faith. Mr. Fiske’s proposition, then, runs thus: Given the sun, and given the people with eyes to gaze at the sun, the people must necessarily have endowed the sun with “volition,” and worshipped the sun as a god. Once more, Q. E. D.

Hence Mr. Fiske proceeds to argue: “The conception of infallible skill in archery, which underlies such a great variety of myths and popular fairy-tales, is originally derived from the inevitable victory of the sun over his enemies, the demons of night,[211] winter, and tempest. Arrows and spears which never miss their mark, swords from whose blow no armor can protect, are invariably the weapons of solar divinities or heroes.” Consequently, Mr. Fiske is cruel enough to knock on the head a considerable number of fictitious characters who were much better known and loved by us years ago than many real characters to-day. He levels his shaft tipped with scientific faith, whiz!—and down drop William Tell, William of Cloudeslee, Beth-Gellert, Jack and the Beanstalk, Roland, Sir Bedivere, Ulysses, Achilles, Balder the Beautiful, Hercules, and a whole host of other famous heroes—or rather they mount, for one and all represented the sun, and were types and figures of his solar majesty.

Well, though we grieve to say it, it may be so; but the consolation is still left us that, even if it be so, “it’s of no consequence,” as our old friend Mr. Toots was wont sagaciously to remark. There is so much of reality around us, and so much real sham, to speak a paradox, to wing with our arrows, to shoot at all our lifelong and make no visible impression on, that we have neither time, nor inclination, nor patience to bother our brains with wire-drawn theories as to whether Tell was Tell or the sun; whether a man ever performed the impossible feat of piercing an apple, which happened to be on his boy’s head, with a shaft or not, or whether a dog was killed by its master in mistake. Such things may serve to amuse children or people who can find nothing better to occupy their time. So far there is nothing to object to in it. But when a man takes every imaginable story, collects them all as he would old fossils, and tickets each off with a bad explanation, or throws them together into a bag, as it were, and, charlatan-like, shakes them all up in order to see if by any chance they might tumble out in a shape antagonistic to Christianity, a work which, in view of the many realities around us, is rubbish at the best, becomes in Mr. Fiske’s hands rubbish at the worst.

For he does not hold to his tether; he will go out of his way to drag religion into a place where, if it must enter, it shows itself, as always, full of majesty, and beauty, and sublime truth, but not a thing of ridicule, as this writer, by hint, and innuendo, and insinuating little foot-note, and sly little chuckle, and weak little laugh, and wit of the very smallest, would make it.

“The religious myths of antiquity, and the fireside legends of ancient and modern times, have their common roots in the mental habits of primeval humanity. They are the earliest recorded utterances of men concerning the visible phenomena of the world into which they were born.”

Now, there is nothing particularly startling in this passage; it is just such an one as the reader might or might not assent to, being really utterly careless on the subject. He would scarcely stop to inquire how far Mr. Fiske’s “religious myths of antiquity” extended. There is a seemingly unconscious vagueness about the phrase that allows it to pass without question. And Mr. Fiske’s theories, if we may dignify them by such a title, run on smoothly enough in killing Beth-Gellert for the thousandth time, and bringing his powerful mind and the infallible test of his “scientific faith” to bear on old nursery jingles—such, for instance, as:

“Jack and Jill went up the hill
To get a pail of water;

Jack fell down and broke his crown,
And Jill came tumbling after.”

“This may read like mere nonsense,[212]” says Mr. Fiske. Again we agree with him it may; but the rising smile fades on the lip when met by the solemn assurance immediately following: “But there is a point of view from which it may be safely said that there is very little absolute nonsense in the world.”

We grieve to say that the thought which struck us immediately on reading this aphorism of Mr. Fiske’s was that, if one thing more than another could tend to make us dubious as to its truth, it would be the perusal of his own book. But revenons: “The story is a venerable one,” he proceeds in re “Jack and Jill.” “They—the children—fall away from one another as the moon wanes, and their water-pail symbolizes the supposed connection of the moon with rainstorms.”

Leaving our readers to ponder over this profound mystery so solemnly set forth by the author, dazzled and bewildered, doubtless, by this latest exhibition of moonshine, we pass from it to other things. It is of a piece with all the author’s deductions, and as fair a sample as any other of the ingenuity of his argument and the profundity of his conclusions. We do not attempt to refute them; that task is above us; we leave such questions to be argued out in their more fitting sphere, where the characters in the story are best known and believed in—the nursery.

To all this sort of thing we do not object; it is very harmless, and though scarcely the style of study and method of deduction one might expect from a professor of philosophy at what is esteemed the leading university in the United States, we can only arrive, however regretfully, at the conclusion that we had perhaps made a false estimate of the intellectual standing of that university, and of the calibre, mental and moral, of its professors. Still, Mr. Fiske may argue all his lifelong in this fashion, and we can only wish him better employment. But unfortunately he does not stop here.

All the unravelling of these worthless myths has one aim and tendency: the connecting with them true religion, Judaism first, and afterwards Christianity, the belief in Christ, the Christian sacraments, Christian observances, Christian practices; not as the one truth of which all these myths formed so many broken and distorted fragments, but—hear it, Christian fathers who send your sons to Harvard to learn wisdom and truth from such men as the one under our notice—a myth with the rest of them!

Ulysses, Achilles, Ormutz, Thor, Tell, William of Cloudeslee, the sun, Jesus Christ—“These be thy gods, O Israel!”

A mad world, my masters! We are all wrong; living in a myth, worshipping a myth, teaching a myth, our social and political state to-day built upon a myth. “We may learn anew the lesson, taught with fresh emphasis by modern scholarship, that in the deepest sense there is nothing new under the sun.” So says Mr. Fiske. There is nothing sure but scientific faith as expounded by M. Littré and—Mr. Fiske. All the rest is myth.

It would be no surprise to us if Mr. Fiske were indignantly to reject the construction which the Catholic, or the Christian reader of whatever denomination, who possesses any knowledge of Christianity, must put upon his words. Apparently he himself is not sufficiently acquainted with Christianity to understand the meaning of those words; and yet he is a “professor of philosophy” at a presumably Christian university. He is, to judge him by this book, of that school of would-be atheists so fashionable tod-ay,[213] who talk mild infidelity over their tea, and take it down with their muffins—a toast-and-water infidelity, nice to take hob-and-nob with and to the admiration of some antiquated Blue-Stocking. Mr. Fiske, like his class, might be considered an atheist did he only possess the faintest conception of what Christianity meant. An atheist is not a man who does not, but who will not, know God—a rebellious spirit who, like the fallen archangel who has seduced him, rejects God, flings back his offering, and cries out: “I will not serve!”

Such is atheism—negation, not unconsciousness; denial, not lack of knowledge. Mr. Fiske’s toast-and-water stuff partakes of the latter character. It is so very weak, so very thin, so supremely unconscious of its feebleness, so full of self-sufficiency, so sublimely ignorant of the fact that the poor little hobby-horse which it rides astride of, and on which it pranks out, with “all the pomp and circumstance” of mimic warfare, to have a tilt with the church, has been long ago ridden to death by far doughtier champions than Mr. Fiske, but with a like result—a tumble in the dust. Like the carpet-knight, who, “but for those vile guns, might himself have been a soldier,” but for the vile faith, these carpet-atheists might themselves have become Christian. Did we not recollect that they possess immortal souls destined for one of two eternities, we might almost congratulate ourselves on their defection.

But not to lay so very serious a charge at Mr. Fiske’s door without just grounds, we proceed to give a few instances of that gentleman’s mythical contortions, which will sufficiently vindicate the severe strictures we feel compelled to pass upon his book—a book, indeed, which should have passed unnoticed, only that it is typical of the tone and tendency of the class of writers remarked upon above.

Mr. Fiske would seem to have received some sort of a Christian education, if we may so call it, in his youth; for he tells us “of that burning Calvinistic hell with which his childish imagination had been unwisely terrified.” Calvinism probably drove him into revolt against Christianity, as it has driven so many others, and, instead of returning, and examining, and searching for truth, he has adopted the easier course of saying that it was all a sham—the devil was only a bogy conjured up by nurses to frighten children and make them good. Christianity was an excellent religion for children and timid old maids; but for MEN, men of the XIXth century, it was a little too much. On reading the fables of the pagans, he found that they had their bogies to frighten their children, as the heathen possesses them still. All the same, all the same, all the way down to the cradle, if there be such, of the race.

“Black spirits and white,
Red spirits and gray,

Mingle, mingle, mingle,
You that mingle may.”

Such, if put into a coherent shape, would be, we think, Mr. Fiske’s mode of explaining his belief. To him all mystery is myth, and the one true guide is scientific faith.

There is no mention of Revelation from beginning to end of the book: the author evidently does not believe in it. But though he is careful not to say so in express words, the meaning of all his deductions is very clear; and passages from the sacred Scriptures are contorted to suit his purpose.

Thus, we are told[70] that “the very[214] idea of an archfiend, Satan, which Christianity received from Judaism, seems to have been suggested by the Persian Ahriman, or at least to have derived its principal characteristics from that source. There is no evidence that the Jews, previous to the Babylonish captivity, possessed the conception of a devil as the author of all evil. In the earlier books of the Old Testament, Jehovah is represented as dispensing with his own hand the good and the evil, like the Zeus of the Iliad.”

Of course, to a man of Mr. Fiske’s vast knowledge and profound erudition, it would be an impertinence to suggest that, as the name—the mere name, apart from all belief in it—Jehovah is the more ancient of the two, it might have been more in order to invert its position, so that it would run: “The Zeus of the Iliad, like the Jehovah of the Old Testament, was the dispenser of good and evil.” But Mr. Fiske studiously sets Jehovah first in place, though second in time, giving one to understand thereby that Zeus was his precursor. This may have been done inadvertently, but, if so, there is a strange method in Mr. Fiske’s carelessness. He is clearly a believer in that

“Divinity which doth shape our ends,
Rough hew them as we may.”

Then, again, Mr. Fiske is correct enough in the passages which he cites as showing that the Jehovah of the Old Testament dispenses “with his own hand the good and the evil.” There is nothing startling in this: it is the soundest Catholic as well as Jewish doctrine. We believe that God does dispense the good and the evil alike; but the “dispensing of the good and the evil” is a very different thing from the phrase which concludes the preceding sentence: “The author of all evil.” Mr. Fiske plumes himself on his philological knowledge; he is great in word-science, if we may so call it; does he, then, recognize no distinction between “a dispenser” and “an author,” or again, between evil and evil, or still further, between “evil” and “all evil”?

“Evil is natural and moral,” says the dictionary. In the first sense, it means what we generally comprehend by the word “misfortune”; as, evil tidings, evil news, evil accident. In this sense, God is said to be the dispenser of evil; that is, of trials which he sets his children, as a father sets his son a hard task, to prepare them, to test them, to educate them, to lift them up to the fulness of manhood, which is in God. “Whom the Lord loveth, he chastiseth.” But “moral evil” or what Mr. Fiske calls “all evil,” is a very different thing. It is that which is evil naturally, in se and per se, which is in the will of the devil, and which it is blasphemy to attribute to God. Evil in the first sense may be, is generally, good in itself: the latter, never. It may not be blasphemy in Mr. Fiske, for, as we said, he does not, from insufficient acquaintance with the subject, know the meaning of his own words. But observe how carefully all these words are placed in connection and juxtaposition one with another, and how easily each slides into its wrong place. Again, there is a singular method in Mr. Fiske’s glaring—for a milder term in the face of what we have just pointed out would be impossible—inaccuracies.

He goes on: “The story of the serpent in Eden—an Aryan story in every particular, which has crept into the Pentateuch—is not once alluded to in the Old Testament.” To this he adds a note: “Nor is there any ground for believing that the serpent in the Eden-myth is intended for Satan?” Though Mr. Fiske is overrunning our space far more than we[215] intended he should do at the beginning, the next sentence is too good to omit, as replete with a piece of criticism unique in its simplicity and loftiness of tone: “The identification (of the serpent in the Eden-myth with Satan) is entirely the work of modern dogmatic theology, and is due, naturally enough, to the habit, so common alike among theologians and laymen, of reasoning about the Bible as if it were a single book (!), and not a collection of writings of different ages and of very different degrees of historic authenticity.”

To all his readers the question will naturally suggest itself: Has Mr. Fiske ever been outside the walls of Harvard? But there—we leave the matter: it suggests its own comment; and, moreover, Mr. Fiske promises us, “in a future work entitled (start not, ye publishers!) Aryana Vaedjo, to examine, at considerable length, this interesting myth of the Garden of Eden.” We hope to see it.

Well, here we have in plain English the whole story of the fall of man, the origin of good and evil in this world, and the cause of all the consequences which followed therefrom; the whole story of the Creation in fact, as in another place that of the Deluge, set aside quietly and easily, without a word of doubt, or difficulty, or hesitation, as a myth. It would be interesting to know what Mr. Fiske does believe on these points—but his book is to come. We trust he will take the pains to set us right on the subject of the origin of man and of the Creation generally. Of man we should judge him to have as high an opinion as Mr. Darwin, when he explains his present condition as being brought about by “that stupendous process of breeding which we call civilization; which has strengthened the feelings by which we are chiefly distinguished from the brutes, leaving our primitive bestial impulses to die for want of exercise, or checking in every possible way their further expansion by legislative enactments. (Draw this to its legitimate conclusion, and there is no such thing as morality, it being merely synonymous with law or education.) But this process which is transforming us from savages into civilized men is a very slow one; and now and then there occur cases of what physiologists call atavism, or reversion to an ancestral type of character.... Now and then persons are born possessed of the bestial appetite and cravings of primitive man, his fiendish cruelty, and his liking for human flesh.”

This is a Harvard professor who thus explains what people generally accredit to the maxims of the Gospel and the teachings of Jesus Christ. Morality is simply education or force, and evil is inherent in the naturally brutal being, man, who, like Topsy, gradually “growed” up to what he is.

It were easy to go on thus multiplying instances of the truth of our observation, that Mr. Fiske reduces Christianity to a myth; but we think there is enough proof already. We pass by many things, therefore, where the author’s display of shallow learning is only equalled by his flimsy remarks. In a note (p. 48), he would have us infer that the Jews believed in a plurality of gods just as did the pagans, because Elohim—God—is plural—a common use of the word even in the English Version, as when God says, “Let us go down and confound their tongue,” etc.; but the Jews certainly never interpreted it as meaning anything else than the one God, whom they adored. It was merely a foreshadowing of the doctrine of the Trinity. In another place, he informs us that S. Ursula is[216] Artemis and Aphrodite, S. Gertrude the heathen Holda. He is evidently unaware that one of the most popular books of Catholic devotion is written by the “heathen Holda.” Stupid inaccuracies of this description are unaccountable. In any other person they would indicate a mind inflated with that dangerous “little learning” which Pope warns us against; in a Harvard “professor of philosophy,” they doubtless take the form of Shakespeare’s sins against grammar and good taste, and go down as “beauties.” “Angels—women with large wings” (sic)—are kinsfolk of the werewolf family, and Christianity has “degraded the beneficent lightning-god, Thor,” into the “grotesque mediæval devil.” Odin and other glorious divinities undergo a similar hideous transformation under the “degrading” influence of Christianity. In fact, Christianity is but a system of plagiarizing, and plagiarizing which by no means improves on the old pagan superstitions. The devil is really a good-natured sort of being, or was till Christianity came and spoiled his temper and himself generally. Of course such a being never existed except in the brain of superstitious people unendowed with scientific faith, who were racking their brains to find out the meaning of that eternal puzzle, darkness and light, so that they at length came to embody darkness in the form of the devil, and light in the person of God, or Jupiter, or Apollo, or William Tell. That is the plain English of Mr. Fiske’s book.

Mr. Fiske seems to think that he has struck a new vein, and opened up to the world a golden ore long hidden. His theory is as old as any other; and he has only given us a poor rehash of what much cleverer men than he have oversurfeited us with ages ago. Before attempting to handle the subjects he has touched upon, it would be advisable to go to school again, and he might thus be saved a lamentable display of childish ignorance on points known to all the world, save apparently to Mr. Fiske. In a very weak review of a most interesting and clever book, Juventus Mundi, written by a scholar and a thinker, neither of which titles we feel justified in applying to Mr. Fiske, this latter gentleman remarks, with astonishment, that Mr. Gladstone draws an analogy between the gods of heathendom and the God of Christianity; in other words, between distorted truth and its first original. This, again, is as old as the hills. Prometheus, for instance, has struck all readers as a wonderful type of the Saviour; and so with other gods and heroes of antiquity. Scholars are pleased to draw likenesses between the characters of the fables of pagan antiquity and those of the sacred Scriptures; such connection is by no means necessary to prove the truth of Christianity and of the doctrines of Revelation. Christianity is here, around us, living, real: we are in it. It is clear, well defined, unchanging, distinct, a solemn and awful fact: deal with it, study it, destroy it, if you can. It has no connection, claims no connection, needs no connection, with paganism. It stands alone, self-sufficient, for God is its centre. It embraces the world; it rules nations; and the better the governments, the nearer they approach to the observance of its codes. History hallows it; scientific discovery only tends to confirm our faith in it. It is superseding all things, as its Founder meant it should; and people have the impudence, for it is nothing else, to come and tell us to-day, in out-of-the-way notes in silly books, that this stupendous fact is a myth! We can only say to them, tolle, lege!


It is easy for a man to sit down in his chair, and spin out a theory, connecting the most distant objects together in his own mind. Thus Mr. Fiske drives Tell back to the sun, or Ulysses, or Odysseus, as he prefers to call him, for he takes kindly to what we may be pardoned calling the Grotesque etymology; and even in this, like all poor imitators, goes beyond his master. Homer tells us Ulysses was a man, a great traveller, who had seen many lands. Oh! no, says Mr. Fiske; Homer made a great mistake; he did not know what he was talking about; Ulysses was meant for the sun. And yet Mr. Fiske tells us that the “minds of primitive men worked like our own, and, when they spoke of the far-darting sun-god, they meant just what they said.” Why should not this reasoning hold good for Ulysses, as well as for Apollo?

Why, we might take up the story of Mr. Stanley’s discovery of Livingstone, and concoct a far better myth out of it than Mr. Fiske has out of many of his materials. Livingstone, like Ulysses, is a man who had seen many lands; he is hurried away and lost to the world in a dark and fiery country—a land of demons and impenetrable burning deserts. The world laments his loss, and Stanley, the youthful, the Dawn, goes out to seek him, and, after the usual obstacles, finds him in the dark land, clothed in rags, with a blue cap on his head, adorned with a gold band, a long beard falling gray over his breast, surrounded by the dark children of the desert. When that fabulous New Zealander sits on the ruins of London Bridge, some future Professor Fiske will probably take up this story of to-day, and weave a myth out of it as the present one has done with Ulysses; but Mr. Fiske may remember that the prophet who foretold the New Zealander in his incongruous position only did so to serve as an example of the indestructibility of God’s church.

If he must refer everything back to light, why not go a little beyond the sun to the Lux Mundi—the light which shineth in the darkness, but which the darkness comprehended not? Light and fire run from the beginning to the end of the New and Old Testaments, as typical of God. The first thing God made was light; he spoke to Moses in a burning bush; his angel accompanied his people in a cloud and a pillar of light. Man cannot look upon his face and live, for the glory of it. Is it possible that Mr. Fiske, who is so keen at connections, could miss such palpable indications of the connection between the traditions he has mentioned and Revelation, without being struck by it, unless he did so intentionally?

Had we space, we could show by comparison that the very words he has quoted from Indian and other traditions of the Michabo, the great white One, of the origin of the world and the history of the Deluge, are almost identical in phrase even with the Scriptures. From F. De Smet’s interesting Indian sketches, appearing in the Catholic Review, we find that the Indians adore the Great Medicine, who is, above all, the All-powerful, and sacrifice to him through the sun and the thunder, because the sun is his great servitor.

And as for the devil, whom Mr. Fiske finds such an amusing character (happy man! may he never be undeceived!), it may make him laugh at us, but, for our part, we have a very decided belief in his existence and power to do harm; in fact, did we only discern a spice of something stronger and more powerful than Mr. Fiske presents us in his book, just the faintest flavor of the genuine article—real[218] brimstone and fire—we should have been led to refer its authorship to the very personage whom Mr. Fiske so despises. As it is, the work is unworthy of his Satanic majesty. He inspired the idea which animates it long ago, but the present execution is by too weak a hand for his. In this we find an indication that the idea is used up and gone beyond working order—driven to death, in fact.

Superstition undoubtedly did exist in the middle ages; perhaps—for we are not too ready to believe this age so very far superior in many points to those days as is generally conceded; at all events, the world, as the world, is materially even very little better off than it then was, notwithstanding all our boasted science, and the rest, and the days allotted to man are not lengthened—perhaps, then, superstition did flourish at that time to a greater extent than it does to-day; but what does that prove? Simply that Christianity, “that stupendous process of breeding,” did not convert the world in a day.

Did superstition prevail to a greater or less degree than it did prior to the introduction of Christianity, before the old Jewish order passed away, and gave place to the new—to the religion which was no longer to be restricted to a single nation, but which was to spread abroad, to become Catholic, and embrace the world, the family of God’s human creatures, within its bosom? Was it, so much of it as did exist, more or less hideous in the supernatural figures with which it peoples the universe? Were the Norse gods of blood and bestiality, Thor, and Odin, and Friga, “degraded”? Could they be degraded? Was Venus degraded, or Jupiter, or Bacchus, or the multitude of others, by being replaced by the truth, by the light which was so long coming and expected of the nations—by the Sun of Justice?

It was this bursting of the light of the world upon nations which dispelled for ever the dark mists of superstition that had so long hidden the creation from its Creator; this was the Sun the nations dimly saw and adored; this was the victorious Conqueror who overcame all obstacles by his own sufferings, and death, and sacrifice; who, like Prometheus, “came to cast fire upon the earth,” and who died in agony to save his fellows, and destroy the false Jove with his heaven of immorality—Jesus Christ! at whose name “every knee shall bow.”

And the darkness was this very devil, the author of all evil, who fell, freely and consciously, in eternal rebellion against God; who cannot be destroyed, for God created him immortal; who uses the power still left him, which was once heavenly, in order to lead into rebellion all creation against the God he hates with an eternal hatred; who is permitted by God to tempt man, for man is a free agent—God not having endowed a mere machine with the breath of life, the breathing of his spirit—and, if man falls, he falls freely and consciously as did Satan.

Here lay the puzzle of darkness and light, good and evil, right and wrong. The world saw itself bounded everywhere by the impassable; by its wickedness it had lost the clear knowledge of its God; it would overleap those barriers, and reach him again. The craving of its heart was eternal; it saw the marks of its God around it: “The heavens declared the glory of God, and the firmament displayed the wonders of his works.” Men felt the supernatural, and worshipped; but their eyes were blinded, and, groping in the darkness for their God, they mistook his enemy, and worshipped him.


Paganism was and is the worship of the devil. The evil one allows men to worship him under whatever form they please, provided only they rebel against God. Impurity, bestiality, drunkenness, intellectual pride, all things that lead astray, are for him good; but the law of God is one and unchangeable, the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever; and, therefore, though it is hard to kick against the goad, the free-will of man whispers rebellion to him ever, for he finds God everywhere.

What, then, dealt the death-blow to superstition? Was it scientific faith, or the coming of Christ?

In order completely to fill a void, you must have something adequate. The world through all the ages had this yearning for a something wanting, this searching after a something lost. It felt the supernatural, the beyond—it felt, but did not see. So each one made him a religion of his own. To fill that eternal void, to make all one, to satisfy the craving of the world, that void must be filled. But what can fill it, save the supernatural? An infinite want can only be filled by infinity. Jesus Christ came in form and with surroundings the very reverse of what those who had waited most anxiously for him expected. Consequently, their pride revolted, and they refused to accept the Messiah. Nevertheless, no sooner was his doctrine made known, than the world outside, the gropers in the darkness, felt the Sun; the scales dropped from their eyes, the void was at length filled, the craving satisfied; they saw their God, and knew him. Then superstition ended, for they found a reason for every mystery in the all-powerful, all-pervading God.

Had the world to wait for scientific faith to clear up its doubts and give a reason for its longings and beliefs, superstition would still reign paramount among men. What is scientific faith? What can it do? That science has advanced since the days when men built the pyramids, constructed cities whose ruins are the wonders of to-day, converted the Eastern deserts into gardens, constructed the alphabet, built the Parthenon, devised the geometrical figure, organized the sciences of numbers, philosophy, the heavens, and set up leaning towers, we concede; but the men who performed those wonders can scarcely be set down as “knowing nothing of the laws of nature, nothing about physical forces, nothing about the relations of cause and effect.” This age has made an advance on them, it is true; but an advance utterly disproportionate to the centuries which have rolled between; nay, in some things it has retrograded.

Did people wait, then, for scientific faith to lift the veil from their eyes, or was it the teachings of Christianity and the appearance of Jesus Christ which lifted it? How much more has scientific faith taught us than it taught the men who centuries ago, by their intimate and accurate knowledge of natural causes, wrought those wonders touched upon above? The supernatural still confronts us as it did them. Science ends with the scientist. Can it tell him who he is, or why he is? Can it touch the lightning, weigh the sun, reveal the mystery of life and death? It can tell us we live and we die; that, when such or such a circumstance occurs, what we call life is over. But can it tell us what is life, whence it came, whither it goes? what the world is, who made it, why it was made? what the seed is, why it grows up into a tree, why the leaves sprout from the hard wood, who set all this principle of life going, and why? Here lies the mystery that puzzled men; here science stops, and God reveals himself: it is[220] awed into silence, and listens for his voice.

On reading this article once more, the thought has occurred to the writer that objection may be taken to its tone as not exactly in accordance with that myth of myths which goes by the name of “amenities of literature.” Catholics very rarely come across this pleasing illusion in the columns of adverse writers. But even should this charge be well grounded, it is idle for Catholics to wrap what they have to say in wadding, lest it fall too roughly on the delicate sensibilities of people who undertake to insult a religion of which they know nothing. Mr. Fiske is only a type of a class to whom is entrusted the sacred mission of educating the youth of this country, those particularly whose means admit of the highest education, and from whom, therefore, much should be expected. Men wonder at the immorality of our youth—the young man of society of to-day. Why wonder, when his professors teach him that morality is a name, Christianity a fable, and all religion a sham? We cannot affect to toy when the stakes played for are so high. The morality of the coming race depends on the education it receives. When, therefore, we find men, set in high places in our foremost universities, abusing their position, and striving by every means in their power to sap and undermine Christian education, we think studious phrases idle and polished courtesy thrown away. Insult and evil must be met with other weapons. If Mr. Fiske wishes to know whether Christianity is a myth or not, let him sit down and study before pronouncing. When he has sought and inquired earnestly, he will find plenty to furnish him with the right answer.


What man that is journeying abroad, doth not hasten backward to his native land? Who that is speeding a voyage toward them he loves, longs not with more ardor for a prosperous wind, that so he may embrace his friends the sooner?... It is a large and loving company who expect us there: parents, brothers, children, a manifold and numerous assemblage longing after us, who, having security of their own immortality, still feel anxious for our salvation.... Ah! perfect and perpetual bliss! There is the glorious company of the apostles; there is the assembly of prophets exulting; there is the innumerable multitude of martyrs, crowned after their victory of strife and passion; there are virgins triumphant, who have overcome, by vigor of continency, the concupiscence of the flesh and body.... To these, dearest brethren, let us with eager longings hasten: let it be the portion which we desire, speedily to be among them, speedily to be gone to Christ. God behold this thought of ours! This purpose of our mind and faith may the Lord Christ witness!—who will make the recompenses of his glory the larger according as man’s longings after him have been the stronger.—S. Cyprian.



Day of Doom! O day of terror!
Prophet’s word, and Sibyl’s finger
Point to one dread day of anger,

When the skies shall warp and wither,
Ocean shrink and dry together,
Solid earth consume to cinder.

Day of nature’s dissolution,
Day of final retribution—
Some to joy, and some to sorrow.

Hark! the trumpet-blast terrific.
How the dead, in mingled panic,
Gather to the dread assizes!

Death shall stand aghast, and Nature,
When from dust the summoned creature
Rises trembling to make answer.

Ah, the wonder! oh, the wailing!
When the heavens above unveiling,
Show the Judge of all descending.

Now begins the awful session.
Sinner, make thy full confession;
Naught avails the least evasion.

Lo, the Book of Doom! each action,
Secret sin, or bold transgression,
Idle word, foul thought, is noted.

Strictest justice is accorded;
Grace to gracious deed afforded,
Death to deadly sin awarded.

[222]Oh! where saints must fear and tremble,
Could I stand the test, thus sinful?
Could I find a plea for pardon?

Could an advocate avail me?
Pleas and advocates all fail me.
Jesus! thou alone canst save me.

Mighty Monarch! oh, remember
That blest day of blest December—
‘Twas for me the Virgin bore thee.

Seeking me, beside the fountain
Thou didst rest thee; to the mountain,
For my sake, thou didst betake thee;

On that dear cross, to redeem me,
Thou didst hang. Lord! is it seemly,
So much costing, I should perish?

Thou didst smile on Mary’s unction,
Tearful love, and deep compunction,
On the dying thief’s confession.

Like them guilty, like them grieving,
Like them loving, and believing,
Lord! show me a like compassion.

To thy mercy I confide me;
From thy justice, Saviour, hide me,
Ere that day of dread accounting.

Oh, that day of strange uprising!
Oh, that solemn criticising!
Oh, that sentence past reversal!

Peace to thee! departed brother,
Tenant once of this cold clay!
Jesus! give him rest alway. Amen.

C. W.



In all things that are not of precept, we must needs, if we wish to influence the world, take the world as it is. We may deplore that the stream has passed the romantic scenery through which its course once flowed, but we are powerless to turn the current back. Indeed, its oncoming strength is so ominous that no wise man can stand long on its banks without seeing the urgent need of providing fresh outlets for its impetuosity, lest it should come upon him unawares, and sweep him away in a roaring inundation. The mental ferment of our age is this stream which demands of us new channels whereon to spend its exuberant activity; and it perhaps depends upon Catholic action whether the new development shall be a blessing or a curse. The church knows that her place is in the van of humanity, and to each young century she turns her speedy encouragement, bidding it go forth and do its allotted work under her banner. She hallows all discoveries, and knits them to herself by the services she causes them to render to the truth, and, a bolder innovator than the veriest sceptic, she opens her arms to every development whose capabilities may be turned to a divine account. We may depend upon this: that no new thing or idea which does not at once draw upon itself the church’s approving notice, is worth more than a passing thought. She lets the ephemeral go by, and fixes her eyes only on the stable and the solid. More than that, all that is claimed as new and good is contained or foreshadowed somewhere within her pale, either in the hidden achievements of her sons, or in the written record of her attitude towards human progress.

Now, the position of woman is a topic universally discussed, and one which it has become the fashion to look upon as the pet offspring of this particular century. There are two questions involved in the discussion: one theoretical, upon which we have already touched, and one practical. The former treats of the abstract right of equality between man and woman, the latter (more sensibly) of the employment of women, and of their fitness for bread-winning purposes. Woman has so many spheres that it is difficult to mass her duties and rights in one sweeping code; and, though her peculiar gift of home ministry is the one which renders her most amiable in the eyes of the opposite sex, it should be remembered that it is this very domesticity which often obliges her to take to self-supporting labor. In this, how far superior is womanhood to manhood! For whereas a man’s chief thought when entering a profession or learning a trade is for his own advancement and pecuniary success in life, a woman’s intention when working for her bread is almost invariably the support of one weaker than herself, or the lightening of the burden already borne by the other. In this sense, we may say that woman is more heroic than man, constrained as she is by the very nobility of her nature to ennoble the lowest things with which necessity brings her in contact. Work in itself, simply as occupation and discipline, is a noble thing and the fulfilment of the divine[224] law, but when undertaken with a motive such as the support of aged parents and of sick children, or the reparation of an act of dishonesty committed by a dishonorable member of the family, it rises even to sublimity. Women are not exempt from the law of labor, though it has been an immemorial custom that their fathers, brothers, and husbands should shield them from its heaviest penalties. Work, in a mitigated sense, has always been the lot of woman, but among Christians it is so hallowed as to be rather a privilege than a yoke. In heathen nations, woman’s work was merely that of a female animal, necessarily not quite so hard as man’s, but only lighter in consideration of her physical powers, and certainly not in reverence for her rightful dignity. It was not the wife and mother who was thought of then: it was the female beast of burden, at most the favorite of the hour. Judaism, the dawn of a broader and holier dispensation, naturally betrayed its divine origin by protecting the person and property and regulating the labor of woman, thereby elevating drudgery into home duties, and raising to the dignity of a contracting party one who had been hitherto but a servile tool. Christianity went a step further, and threw open the doors of the temple to woman, suffering her to assume every position her mental or moral ambition led her to desire, save the office of the priesthood. Judaism had sanctified and glorified marriage by looking upon every union as a possible link in the future genealogy of the Messiah; and the perfection of the Hebrew ideal culminated in Mary, the veritable human mother of the Eternal Word. But Christianity had an additional crown to bestow on womanhood, and, unlike Judaism, instead of leading up to this new perfection, it first reared its ideal, and then called upon all unborn generations to follow it as closely as might be. Thus the two systems, marriage and virginity, converged for one miraculous moment in the stainless person of the Blessed Virgin Mary; and since after that unique motherhood there could be no aspiring to become an earthly ancestor of the Promised One, a new relationship with God—that of Spouse—came to be the highest honor attainable by womanhood. Step by step, God had brought about woman’s enfranchisement, had united in his law the dignity with which the Jews had invested her, and a new, mysterious, unearthly dignity which he alone can understand, and had, in one word, made perfection easy of attainment by her. Her work, too, necessarily came under this ennobling process, and she can look back with pride to the example of the typical woman—the last perfect Jewish matron, the first perfect Christian virgin—and see the daughter of kings and the Mother of God stooping to lowly household duties.

The Old and New Testament are full of circumstances or sayings with reference to the subject of woman’s work. Although it is not expressly mentioned in the curse pronounced on Adam after the Fall, there can be little doubt that it is included in it. The race of man was there doomed to earn its bread by the sweat of its brow, and though a special punishment was also awarded the offending “mother of all the living,” still she seems to have been included in the general curse of labor. Events have proved this, and so long and regular a succession of events must needs have had a deeper reason than mere temporal expediency. In the history of Jacob and his two wives, we see a plain reference to the importance of woman in a question of wages and[225] inheritance. Jacob, after serving his father-in-law Laban for twenty years, departs secretly, but before doing so takes counsel with his wives, and puts his case before them, calling them to witness that Laban has overreached him and striven to do him harm. Their answer is as practical as could be wished for: they complain of their father having wasted their lawful inheritance and having counted them as strangers, while they commend Jacob for championing their rights by taking, as the Lord had commanded, all that was otherwise denied them.

In the history of the infant Moses, Pharaoh’s daughter makes a regular engagement with the child’s unknown mother “to nurse him for her, and she would give her her wages.” It was a fair contract, by which the Hebrew woman earned an equivalent for her services as nurse.

Then, again, we have Anna, the wife of Tobias, a genuine bread-winner, though perhaps a lesser example of patience than she is of energy. “Now, Anna his wife went daily to weaving work, and she brought home what she could get for their living by the labor of her hands.”[71] The picture of her domestic trials is pathetic, and her husband seems to have had but a poor opinion of her discretion, for he asked her one day, when she had brought home a young kid, whether she were sure that it was not stolen? Her answer was certainly petulant, and consisted of what many modern wives would say under the same provocation, but it was ungrateful towards God. Human nature was much the same then as it is now; and one charm of the old Bible narratives lies just in this, that they are so naïvely human. In the Book of Ecclesiasticus we read: “He created of him [man] a helpmate like to himself: he gave them counsel and a tongue, and eyes, and ears, and a heart to devise....”[72] The woman is here expressly included in the intellectual benefits heaped upon man, and it is contrary to the whole spirit of the Scriptures to suppose that these gifts were in her merely ornamental. Matters of foresight, discretion, and business evidently come under the head of things to be “devised.” Again, a little further on we find that “a good wife is a good portion,” and “the grace of a diligent woman shall delight her husband and shall fat his bones.”[73] By this is meant “increase his substance,” which a woman can do in two ways—by husbanding her means, or earning something herself. Even if the “diligent woman” gave her husband nothing but counsel, that in itself would be a material help: “A prudent wife is from the Lord.”[74]

To guard against the abuses of unremunerated labor, to which through poverty or improvidence the Hebrews might be subjected, Moses provided the law of the seventh year of remission and the fiftieth of jubilee. “Thou shalt not oppress him with the service of bond-servants, but he shall be as a hireling and a sojourner,” and “his wages being allowed for which he served before.”[75] With regard to women, the laws were the same. “When thy brother a Hebrew man or Hebrew woman is sold to thee and hath served thee six years, in the seventh year thou shalt let him go free. And when thou sendest him out free, thou shalt not let him go away empty; but shalt give him for his way out of thy flocks, and out of thy barn-floor and thy wine-press,”[76] and it is specially recommended[226] that bondmen and bondwomen should not be of the chosen race, but of the “nations around” the Hebrews. As to the responsibility of women concerning vows, we read that a woman under the power of her father or husband shall be bound to fulfil a vow contingently on the consent of her superior, but an independent woman is bound like a man: “The widow, and she that is divorced, shall fulfil whatsoever they vow.”[77] This argues at least a recognition of woman’s full powers of reasoning, choice, and accountability, all of which are involved in the serious matter of a vow. In the Gospel of S. Luke, there is a passing allusion to female manual labor in the parable that foretells Christ’s second coming: “Two women shall be grinding together, the one shall be taken and the other left”—which allusion is not meaningless. All through the New Testament, additional light is thrown on the figurative expressions by the common customs of the country during our Lord’s human life in Judea, and so we may infer that in those days women frequently helped their husbands in various agricultural pursuits.

Martha, the sister of Lazarus, has always been looked upon as a type of active, busy life, according to our Lord’s words, “Thou art troubled about many things.” But this was not wholly meant as a rebuke, for there is a great difference between being troubled and being absorbed by worldly matters. Some among us must bear the domestic burden, in order that others may have the leisure needed for contemplation. Their place in the world is none the less holy because it is not the most perfect, for if there were no rungs to the ladder but the topmost one, how would it be possible to reach heaven? The workers of this world have a mission as well as the seers, and Martha holds almost as high a place in heaven as her sister who chose “the better part.” In the Acts of the Apostles, it is related that S. Paul, going out of the gates of Philippi and seeing there some women assembled, spoke to them, whereupon “a certain woman named Lydia, a seller of purple of the city of Thyatira ... did hear ... and when she was baptized, and her household, she besought us, saying: ... come into my house and abide there. And she constrained us.”[78] This woman must doubtless have been sufficiently well-off, and was most likely a widow or an unmarried woman. Her business, which she probably conducted herself, since she is distinguished by the epithet “a seller of purple,” must have brought her affluence, for her house and household are specially mentioned, and it strikes us also as a proof of her self-supporting and successful operations, that, being of the city of Thyatira, she had travelled to Philippi and established a home for herself within its walls. S. Paul and Silas are put in prison and freed again while in Philippi, and as soon as they leave their confinement, it is to Lydia’s house that they again repair. “And they went out of the prison, and entered into the house of Lydia; and having seen the brethren, they comforted them and departed.”[79] The natural inference is that the house of the generous “seller of purple” was the centre, for the time being, of the little Christian community; that here were the assemblies held and religious ceremonies performed; and that Lydia, in fact, gave up her dwelling to be[227] practically a school and church. Her riches were her own; legitimately accumulated by an ordinary trade. We are told nothing of her origin, her education, her social position; she appears only as a “seller of purple” and a docile recipient of God’s Word. There was probably nothing at all wonderful about her—she was the ordinary business woman of her day: thrifty, since she had worked to so successful a purpose—simple-minded, since she so quickly believed the Word of God—generous, since she “constrained” the Apostles to dwell with her. S. Paul, who found in women such powerful auxiliaries, speaks in his Epistle to the Romans of “Phœbe, our sister in the ministry of the church [a deaconess] ... that you assist her in whatsoever business she shall have need of you: for she also hath assisted many.”[80] Now, this clearly points to her having, or having had, either great possessions, which must have entailed many cares of management, or great zeal in stirring up others who were wealthier, which zeal also proves a capability for affairs. But let us turn back to yet more emphatic Scriptural proof that woman is noways debarred from a certain share in even great enterprises, so long as her modesty is not endangered by it. Judith, the queenly widow, occupied a position of this kind. “And her husband left her great riches, and very many servants, and large possessions of herds and oxen.”[81] The sequel of Judith’s history showed that she was as wise as she was rich, and that prudence and discretion were her most conspicuous gifts. She must have had great powers of government, and an eye for ruling the many subordinates whom she probably employed in the management of her possessions. She was no doubt a mother and a guardian to her servants, and, although young and beautiful, as the Scripture tells us she was, yet possessed a gravity and dignity beyond her years. Her mind was not set upon the frivolities of social life, and she gave herself much to prayer and fasting, abiding “shut up with her maids” in an upper chamber of her house. It is a great mistake to suppose that piety interferes with business habits in either man or woman. The legitimate cares of life are perfectly compatible with an unusual degree of spirituality, indeed, in many cases such cares become absolute duties. The spiritual life reacts upon the outer sphere of business relations, and while eliminating from it all tendency to mere selfish aggrandizement, enhances and hallows the worldly qualities requisite to its successful development. The world needs holy and grave influences to leaven its pursuits in every field, whether artistic, literary, or commercial, and while women can impart to every lawful calling into which they enter that natural grace and refinement which is their birthright, they should also strive to infuse into it a supernatural influence. In the Book of Proverbs,[82] we read the memorable description of the “wise woman,” and nothing is further removed than this Scripture ideal from the various types of modern womanhood which, in the clamor of the present questions as to woman’s place and proper employment, have terrified the sight and darkened the understanding of observers. Of her devotion to her husband, it is said that “his heart trusteth in her, and he shall have no need of spoils.” She is not of that aggressive, self-protecting type with[228] which we are (for our sins) familiar; she is not of those to whom a husband is an appendage, insignificant at all times, removable at any; she is not of the independent sisterhood who take their passions for inspirations and their caprices for rules. Her influence must mightily serve her husband’s lawful interests, for we are told that “he is honorable in the gates when he sitteth among the senators of the land.” This points to the wise woman’s high social position, no doubt more due to her efforts, her industry, and her prudence, than simply to her noble birth. She might—like many of her modern sisters—have been born in the more fortunate walks of life, she might have been educated with care and assiduity, she might have been taught that perfect command of domestic details which secures an orderly and attractive household, she might even have acquired that unconscious good-breeding that marks the well-born and gently nurtured all over the civilized world; and yet with all these advantages she might still have failed to take a place in life—she might still have remained a social nonentity. How many such worthy and estimable blanks are there not in this world, in all ranks and shades of social standing! But the model woman of the Scripture has risen above this level of neglected or barren opportunities, and bears away the first honors of the race of life, simply because she is wise. The prudence of her counsels, shown in the ordering of her well-appointed household, her bargains and her forethought, her stores of bread, linen, and wool, redound to her husband’s honor; and when he “sitteth among the senators” he is known as possessing a treasure that doubles all his wealth, and is herself worth all his riches thrice doubled. But she is not entirely dependent on him in her transactions, for we see that “she hath considered a field and bought it; with the fruit of her hands she hath planted a vineyard.” This bears very closely on our subject, and proves how far the Scriptures hold a woman competent to think, speculate, work, and achieve, unassisted by man. “She hath tasted and seen that her traffic is good: ... she made fine linen and sold it, ... and hath not eaten her bread idle.” Now, all this points to more than mere domestic thrift. Here we see woman, not as a divorced wife, not as an aggressive spinster, not as a frivolous social ornament, not as a mere household drudge, but woman as a responsible being, with grave duties and a wide field of action, taking a place in the world fully equal to and yet utterly distinct from that of a man. She considers, she buys, she sells, she rules, yet all the while she is solicitous for her “maidens,” charitable and gentle to the poor, beloved by her husband, and blessed by her children. She appears here as judged by the real standard of her real worth. “Favor is deceitful, and beauty is vain; the woman that feareth the Lord, she shall be praised. Give her of the fruit of her hands; and let her works praise her in the gates.”

So that she is not only to earn, but to enjoy. She is to have a stake in the world, and a voice in matters of importance—she “opens her mouth in wisdom, and the law of clemency is on her tongue.” Her opinion is to be sought, considered, followed; her example is to be looked upon with reverence, and criticism is to merge into admiration. Her position is to be that of an arbiter and referee, neither sinking to that of a petted child nor drifting into that of an unmated, unloved, and defiant waif. It is not from a band of social[229] outlaws, whose common exile links them in common defence, that she is to seek support; but in the circle of her own home, in the centre where God and nature have placed her, she is to take the helm and gracefully mount the throne. No violence and no straining after impossible immunities are to disfigure her calm attitude of secure headship, and, even if her advice be disregarded, time and not she herself must vindicate its wisdom.

It may be objected that all this is very well in theory, and would work admirably if all women were wise, and all men worthy of them. But who does not know that ideals will never become healthful influences unless translated into facts, and that theories will never succeed in bettering the world unless exemplified here and there in trial cases? Would the theory of Christianity be worth anything to the outside world unless realized in the daily life of its Founder and in the model existences of thousands of saints? It is impossible that anything should take hold of the human mind and mould it to new perfections before it has been put into tangible shape, and it is equally impossible in our fallen state that all the world should be converted at once into so many perfect entities. Yet because all men will not become saints, because all cannot write like Shakespeare, paint like Raphael, or compose like Beethoven, are religion, poetry, and art to be eschewed by lower aspirants, and relegated to the barren region of things to be admired but not imitated? If, because absolute perfection was never attainable by man, every man had therefore resigned himself to a hopeless contemplation of the fine possibilities of Christianity, we should have had no Anthony, no Jerome, no Augustine. If, later on, because it was impossible to reform the whole world and strike at the root of every abuse, the pontiffs had calmly looked on while Christendom crumbled away, we should have had no Gregory the Great, no Hildebrand, no Innocent III., no Sixtus V. Again, if an inflexible adherence to rule were the only point worth aiming at, should we have had a Dominic, a Teresa, a Francis Xavier, a Philip Neri, a Vincent of Paul? In this world there are many experiments—tentative steps leading to higher things, and opening doors of possibility to hitherto untried systems. Even in the church, where all else is immovable, there is constant human progress, and if here or there one soldier falls at his post—not through lack of enthusiasm, but through the force of adverse circumstances, or the darkness of mind which still shrouds his contemporaries while he himself has prematurely pierced beyond it—still the great search after perfection, the great work of Christian development, rolls on. So it is in the world, in art, in philosophy, in science, in society. What if woman’s position never has been made absolutely and securely certain? The church has always theoretically pointed it out, and has often secured its partial realization within her pale; it remains for the world to open its eyes, and extend those barriers of the church to the furthest limits of civilization, taking with it those improvements which it has so long groped for in its wilful darkness, and which all the time have been steadily in operation in the sanctuary of the old church.

So that it is idle to object that all we have said about woman’s work, reward, and position is “very well in theory.” If a few pioneers will do for the system what companies or even enterprising individuals are ever ready to do for any material scheme that presents but the slightest chance[230] of success, the world would soon see the noblest reform of all achieved in the very core of society. Nay, we will say more: the pioneers are there, the reform is going on; only let the busy, sceptical world stop a moment and look into the silent, gigantic work ever renewing its strength in the church; let it pause and see homes where woman, either as manager or worker, holds her supreme rod of gentle authority; let it see the maiden toiling cheerfully for her aged parents, or bringing home food and clothes to helpless little sisters or ailing brothers—the wife helping and encouraging the husband, and eking out by skilful management a pittance into an income, and evolving comfort out of what in careless hands could hardly compass necessaries; the widow keeping her sacred state, unassailed by calumny, through the earnings which secure her privacy, or the widowed mother joyfully burdened with the twofold legacy that gives her both an object to live for and a memory to live in. Hidden homes these may be, poor homes they almost all are—homes bounded by the four walls of one squalid room, homes cramped in the garrets of tenement-houses or saddened by the dreary respectability of furnished lodgings, but none the less precious in the sight of the angels, and an example in the sight of men.

We have spoken much of the Scriptural conception of woman as a bread-winner, because upon this as a solid foundation we can build up the further development of such a woman’s position. Everything that is compatible with the spirit of this conception may be said, in broad comprehensiveness, to be allowable in woman. Everything that can be referred to this ideal, as naturally flowing therefrom, is admissible in her relations with the great working hive of mankind. Intellectual labor especially is befitting to her, within the limits prescribed by modesty. Manual labor, especially agricultural or mining, is proportionately less fitting, both because of her physical weakness and more still because of the too free association with men which it often necessitates. Domestic labor, where this is not unreasonably heavy, is certainly within her sphere—and for this no better reason can be given than that the women of patriarchal times thought domestic labor no shame.

With this view, we say that as many openings for the employment of woman as can possibly be made, consistently with delicacy and womanly modesty, should be speedily contrived. No one need fear that such openings will deprive us of necessary comforts in the way of domestic attendance; there will always be a residuum of womankind to whom service will be the most natural and desirable outlet, to whom in fact it will be the only career which will give scope to the capacities they have. This will be the least difficulty; the real problem will always remain rather on the other side—that is, as to how many women can be redeemed from the bondage of circumstances by any known method of redemption. It is appalling to think of the many women, delicate-minded, earnest, persevering, who see in their womanhood, which should be their crown and their boast, only the barrier to their aspirations, the prison-door of their capabilities. It is terrible to reckon the number of women who lose themselves, and wander away from their place in society, either through the door of open shame or through the only less revolting path of that which is called but is not marriage; or visionary, defiant “independence.” How many fallen[231] women sadly excuse themselves by saying that they could find no work to do, and yet could not bear to starve! On the other hand, in women who have obviated that degradation by leaping into another, we see the inevitable action of the narrow-mindedness of the world upon an undisciplined nature. Women are often accused of being always in extremes, and the accusation, in the case of women untrained by religious influences, is in the main true, although it may as well be said that the fact holds equally good with men who are not restrained by such influences. So, between open degradation and blatant “woman’s rightism,” the mind of the untutored woman will almost certainly, except by a happy chance, find no mean.

Is this picture overdrawn? We are ready to affirm again and again that it is not; the annals of society scandals and the records of the divorce courts show that it is not; for what difference is there but a despicable and conventional one between the legalized re-marriage of a guilty woman to her seducer, and the illegal union of so many unhappy couples whose relations it is a breach of propriety even to mention?

This is womanhood outside the church. It is no more a fancy picture than that other blessed one of the homes we have already praised, the homes of honest work and perfect peace. The world, to secure a nation of women bred in such homes, must turn to the church, and ask her to teach it the secret of such womanhood. The secret is in the Gospels, in the old hallowed traditions of the Hebrews, and in the fulfilled evangelical counsels. Voluntary poverty is the safeguard of holy and allowable wealth; voluntary obedience is the counterpart of lawful freedom; voluntary chastity is the hidden grace that obtains for others wedded love and a grave Christian home. The hostages of humanity are praying in the cloisters for the commendable domestic happiness of their numerous brethren, and, in proportion as the world scorns their sacrifice, so does it lose the fruit of their prayers.

We have said that woman’s work should be decided, God willing, by her capabilities. This is to say that more ways should be open to her than are open now to improve the talents God may have given her. In a great measure she can, and does, open these ways for herself, and an energetic nature of course will, like water, sooner or later “find its own level.” Still, many who have mental powers have little strength in battling with life, and might be helped if their luckier sisters would be a little less selfish in their easily acquired security. Work means self-respect, and self-respect means success. There is no one so proud as the woman who knows her own worth, and lifts herself by this knowledge high above all sordid temptations. She will be a good wife, for she will choose no man for a husband save on the lofty principle of his own worthiness of her, while her estimate of herself will unconsciously become his also. She will be a tribunal to herself and to him, and the slightest wrong action or paltry motive in either will take, in the eyes of the other, the proportions of a blot on their self-esteem. She will be a good mother, for her standard of superiority will be the first her children will know, and with them it will be inseparably blent with their personal affection for their mother. The home will thus be created on a footing that years will strengthen as they pass, and the austere yet happy gravity of a Christian household will[232] become a hereditary tradition with the children. But for all this, the basis of work is wanted—work of some sort, voluntary occupation or necessary drudgery, it matters little. It is the discipline, not the fact, of work which is essential, and in this sense the rich and high-born may be as hard workers as the poor seamstress or the factory-girl. Yet, since this labor question touches the poor chiefly, it is for them we would chiefly speak. Woman’s work is circumscribed by her physical powers, man’s is not. Therefore, in all things that a woman can do as well as a man (and of course in all those which she can do better), the preference should be given to her. There are many trades in which men cut not only a very useless but a most ridiculous figure, and which the fittingness of things would point out as woman’s proper field. Everything relating to feminine clothing comes under this head; and were this department wholly given over to women, it would at once relieve the poverty and shield the virtue of many homes, and also spare the public the absurd spectacle of strong men engaged in handling delicate ribbons and filmy laces. Printing and kindred trades have been found practicable for women, and we know that watchmaking and jewellery work are also accessible to the “weaker vessel.” Still, it has at present gone no further than this, that women are associated with men in many employments. Now, we could wish that there should be many trades of which they would have an exclusive monopoly. In this we think there would be no inconvenience; at any rate, no one could assert that there was until the system had been given a fair trial.

Society, in its present state of godless disorganization, not only affords very little help to women who are eager and willing to help themselves, but positively, despite the loud boasting of the century as having originated “woman-reform,” places barriers in their way. For what else is it but a barrier to honest advancement that, when a respectable and virtuous woman of pleasing appearance goes to apply for some desirable situation offered by advertisement, she is often, very often, insulted by disgusting propositions, and her very expressions of indignant surprise put down as a part skilfully played by her before the inevitable surrender? This has been repeatedly done, in many cases successfully, for precautions had been taken beforehand to cut off the victim’s retreat and drown her cries; in others, when cowardice, the twin-sister of vice, has shrunk from the determined attitude of a virtuous woman at bay, the effort has happily failed. The public papers have sometimes—with their proverbial inefficiency and spasmodic, theatrical manner of showing up an abuse they know it will pay better to speak of than to act against—taken in hand this outrage to civilization, and published letters from the aggrieved women detailing the attempted insult, but how many more women, sensitive and gentle, shrink with horror from putting into print an experience they would gladly blot from their memory! It will be asked, what remedy can be devised for this? Immediate remedy, perhaps none; but remotely, the remedy of a newly formed habit of regarding women with at least the same respect as men who earn their daily bread. Physical weakness will always be an incentive to wicked men to insult unprotected women—that is to say, the vices of fallen human nature will never be wholly blotted out; and in this juncture, as in all others, the real remedy is the influence and authority[233] of the church. Nowhere more than in Italy—that maligned country in which Protestants refuse to see anything save the last stage of corruption brought on by an “effete priesthood and a degraded religion”—is that touching charity known of portioning poor girls and affording them temporary refuge while out of employment. In Rome, this was one of the foremost Papal charities; the Holy Father took an especial personal interest in it; the Roman ladies vied with each other in enlarging the numbers of its recipients and adding to the fund provided for its continuance. In Venice, it used to be the affair of the Doge, who was conventionally father to all the dowerless, and the sworn protector of impoverished and threatened innocence. Many saints have made this their favorite charity, and many Italian marriages in the higher grades of life are accompanied by this crowning token of Christian brotherhood—the portioning and safe marrying of a poor young girl who might have otherwise fallen a victim to the licentiousness of some professional roué.

While it is to be deplored that the openings for female employment should still be so restricted, it is still more to be lamented that there are actually employments in which female labor is most unwarrantably used. In mining districts, this is peculiarly the case. There men and women work promiscuously, often with very little clothing on, and with still less sense of decency and morality. Little girls are brought up there with no knowledge of themselves as responsible moral agents, and conscious only that their work is not quite so valuable because their muscles are not quite so strong as those of their companions. Ignorance of religion, of moral restraints, and of social decencies, combine to make of these immortal beings only lithe savages, less enduring than the negro, less clever than the Indian. For the white race in some sense seems born to civilization, and when removed from civilizing influences relapses into far more brutal savageness than others. Again, we find the problem only solvable through the influence of the church; for she who originally drew together the nomad hordes of the North and East, and gathered from their ranks the founders of empires, the lawgivers of her own system, and the discoverers of the New World, is still the only mistress the dominant race which she once civilized will ever again acknowledge. Christendom has been rent in twain, and the Christian nations deprived of the bond that once knit them in one vast confederation and unity of interests; and until this whole has been restored, barbarism will struggle periodically to the surface, and strive to regain that ascendency it lost more than a thousand years ago. The abuses and horrors of female labor in mining districts are a blot upon civilization which never had any existence before the recent disruption of Christendom; for, wherever an abuse reared its serpent head, the church was at least there to protest, and exert her moral influence if not material force. It is idle to object that she did not, as a matter of fact, quell all abuses; this objection might be urged against the apparently frustrated mission of our Lord himself, as far as immediate tangible reforms were concerned, but the essential fact stands, that as long as the church’s authority remained undisputed there was at least in the world one tribunal which, being the acknowledged visible representative of God, could brand beyond appeal all encroachments on the rights of the defenceless, and wither the plans of[234] cunning and cruelty against the poor. To those defended, this was a consolation; to those upbraided, it was at least a secret dread.

Having said so much upon the question of woman’s position as a bread-winner, we can only end by acknowledging that whatever is to be done will have to be done in fragments, and under the auspices of private enterprise alone. We cannot expect that in the present condition of the world any but individual efforts will be made for the advancement of the weaker sex, nor can we anticipate any but partial and isolated results. But, nevertheless, these efforts will not lack their reward, and we, who in the eyes of the world are now working in the dark, can be content with the knowledge that from these disjointed earthly efforts God is silently building up a great spiritual temple of rescued souls. It may be that we never shall succeed but in part, but this is the fate of all workers at a perfect system, and need not dismay us in the least. Theologians say that if the merits of our Lord’s Incarnation and Passion had redeemed but the single soul of his Blessed Mother, still such unheard-of merits would not therefore have been in the least superfluously applied; and in the same way may we humbly think of ourselves, that if each life spent in the effort of bettering the condition and widening the intellectual horizon of woman had no result save in the increased welfare of one individual, still the labor of such a life would not have been in vain.



Merc.—“Young Abraham Cupid, he that shot so trim.”—Romeo and Juliet, act ii. sc. I.[83]

Certainly, this very singular prefix to the ordinary appellation of the god of love suggests difficulties of interpretation not easy of solution. It would appear to be one of those cant phrases familiar enough, we may presume, at a certain period, for, if not readily to be understood, the poet was unlikely to make use of it in such a connection. But the reason for its application has passed out of mind, and all the commentators have been at a loss to discover its meaning. Mr. Singer, editor of a well-known edition of the poet’s plays, disposes of the embarrassment in a manner equally summary and, as it seems to us, unsatisfactory. Accepting the suggestion of Mr. Upton, another commentator, that the word “Abraham” should be “Adam,” these critics agree in conferring upon Cupid a prænomen which it is clear neither Shakespeare nor his early editors affixed to the name by which he is usually known. It is equally certain that no other writer has ever employed the term “Adam” in such a way. In this state of the case, we seem still left to seek the meaning of the word “Abraham,” as thus used. In order to exhibit the whole merits of the question, let us subjoin the note of Mr. Singer in reference to it, and also that of Mr. Richard Grant White, editor of an American edition[235] of Shakespeare. Mr. Singer remarks:

“All the old copies read Abraham Cupid. The alteration was proposed by Mr. Upton. It evidently alludes to the famous archer, Adam Bell. So in Decker’s Satiromastix: ‘He shoots his bolt but seldom, but, when Adam lets go, he hits.’ ‘He shoots at thee, too, Adam Bell; and his arrows stick here.’ The ballad alluded to is ‘King Cophetua and the Beggar Maid,’ or, as it is called in some copies, ‘The Song of a Beggar and a King.’ It may be seen in the first volume of Percy’s Reliques of Ancient Poetry. The following stanza Shakespeare had particularly in view:

‘The blinded boy, that shoots so trim,
From heaven down did hie;

He drew a dart, and shot at him,
In place where he did lie.’”

Singer’s Note.

Now, though it cannot be doubted that Shakespeare had in mind the blinded boy that shoots so trim, as set forth in the ballad referred to, nor that the expression “shot so trim” grew out of it, yet this fact is far from affording good reason for the belief that he had also Adam Bell in view, or that he had any thought of conferring the Christian name of that noted outlaw upon Cupid himself. The presumption would be that however trim a bowman that “belted forestere” may have been, yet the skill of Cupid in this respect is too preeminent and well allowed, to admit of any compliment or illustration derived from the name of the very best merely human archer who ever drew cloth-yard shaft to ear. Mr. Singer appears to us, therefore, to have been misled by a merely superficial analogy into too great confidence in an improvident suggestion, when he ventured to substitute a conjectural emendation of the text for a reading which was uniform in “all the old copies.”

The note of Mr. White is as follows:

“Upton gave us the Adam which takes the place of ‘Abraham’ in all the current editions, except Mr. Knight’s. But, as Mr. Dyce says, there is not the slightest authority for the change. The last-named gentleman conjectures that ‘Abraham’ in this line is a corruption of Auburn; as it is unquestionably in the following passages which he quotes:

‘Where is the oldest sonne of Pryam,
That Abraham coloured Troian? Dead.’

Soliman and Perseda, 1599, sig. H, 3.

‘A goodlie, long, thicke Abram colored beard.’

Middleton’s Blurt, Master-Constable, 1602, sig. D.

And in Coriolanus, act ii. sc. iii.

‘Not that our heads are some browns, some blacke, some Abram,’

as we read in the first three folios.

“The suggestion is more than plausible; and we at least owe to Mr. Dyce the efficient protection which it must give to the original text. Cupid is always represented by the old painters as auburn-haired.”[84]

But Mr. White, it will be observed, begs the question as to the passages quoted from other authors. These passages simply prove that “Abraham coloured” and “Abram colored,” as applied to the hair and the beard, were common enough expressions at and before the time of Shakespeare. Besides, only conceive whether it would be characteristic of Shakespeare to write so tamely as “Young auburn Cupid”!

In fact, the term in question must have had a pertinent, significant, and peculiar meaning, well understood by his contemporaries.

Mr. Knight conceives the term Abraham to be thus appropriated from the vagrants and beggars called “Abraham-men,” who were too often cheats;[85] and it is to be feared that[236] he thus means us to imply the propriety of the appellation in this instance, upon the ungallant hypothesis that Cupid is himself the prince and chief exemplar of deceivers in general. But this specific characteristic we have always understood to belong to Mercury. For however, popularly, Cupid is estimated as a gay deceiver, Mercury was held by the Greeks the god of fraud and falsehood. The sailors have a phrase of “shamming Abraham” when one of the crew shirks his duty on pretence of sickness or for any other pretended excuse. No one seems to have thought of the possible origin of this proverbial expression, as used in reference to the beggars from whose habits it is evidently derived. It has occurred to us that, since Abraham was the father of the faithful, that is, the person most eminent for faith, his name may have been thus taken up, in a manner savoring more of wit than of reverence, in relation to persons disposed to live rather by faith than by works—in fact, who showed the amplitude of their trust in whatever might turn up, oftentimes in a somewhat questionable shape, by doing no work at all. This would manifestly be a sort of shamming Abraham.

But however this may be, since all the old copies read Abraham Cupid, and since the alteration of the text commended by Mr. Singer and others cannot be justified upon any grounds which they offer, or in any other mode, we must find some means of explaining the phrase as it stands, or remain in the dark as to its true interpretation. Certainly the matter is not at all cleared up by unauthorized substitution. Against Mr. Knight’s theory, on the other hand, militates the plain fact that, in every example cited, unless the one in controversy be taken as an exception, the word stands for a certain color, and not as qualifying any moral characteristic, or implying any personal defect. There is a difficulty, besides, in the auburn hypothesis which it must be admitted is hard to get over. Supposing the word had been found written as it is, nowhere but in these two passages of Shakespeare, it might, perhaps, so pass muster. He might not very unnaturally be thought to have put such a corrupt form of the word auburn purposely into the mouth of the worthy citizen in Coriolanus; and the term auburn, in such a connection, but misprinted in the course of time, might possibly be considered not absolutely inconsistent with the character of Mercutio and the strain of his speech. But when we find the same word used by two other writers contemporary with Shakespeare, both of whom would be likely to know the correct form and so to write it, if “Abraham” or “Abram” were merely a corrupt form of it, and especially as in one of the examples it occurs in a serious passage of a tragedy—it seems much more probable that the term “Abraham” itself, as so applied, had its own distinct and well-understood meaning, so familiar as to excite, at that period, no necessarily ludicrous association. And that this term Abraham was a cant phrase which had come into common use is actually implied by the correspondent expression in the preceding line of this very speech of Mercutio:

“Speak to my gossip, Venus, one fair word,
One nickname for her purblind son and heir;
Young Abraham Cupid, he that shot so trim.”

Now, it is obvious that auburn, as being a common adjective, could constitute no nickname; whereas Abraham, as a noun proper, and at the same time signifying a certain color, serves that purpose completely, as, for example, Cicero, or Nasica.


We must own that a passage in Bishop Hall’s Satires at first a little puzzled us, viz.:

“A lustie courtier whose curled head
With abron locks was fairly furnished.”[86]

But upon reflection it will be found that, although abron, at first sight, looks much more like auburn than does either Abraham or Abram, and it might appear, therefore, to be, in fact, a less corrupt form of that word than either of the other terms, yet, on the other hand, abron is itself both in form and sound much nearer Abram than it is to auburn, and may, therefore, be only a misspelt variation of the first rather than of the second expression.

In this philological dilemma, we believe we are able to throw a gleam of light on the obscurity; and, though the explanation is derived from a source apparently remote, there is, nevertheless, good ground for thinking it may prove satisfactory. We happen to have in our possession a copy of the quarto edition of the Latin Dictionary published at Cambridge, England, in 1693, which is the foundation of those dictionaries of the Latin language in common use which have succeeded it. The word vitex is thus translated in it: “A kind of withy or willow, commonly called agnus castus, in English, park-leaves, Abraham’s balm, chaste or hemp tree.”

Now, it is no less certain than melancholy to reflect upon that our respected ancestry, like their descendants, were compelled to supply the loss of hair by some adventitious covering, and that their periwigs were sometimes perhaps commonly manufactured out of either the coarser or the finer filament of flax or hemp, since those made of hair were very costly. We are confident we have read of a splendid and no doubt full-bottomed article of the latter material costing as much as fifty guineas, a couple of centuries ago.[87] We speak of flax and hemp indiscriminately, however botanically different, as those predecessors of ours were in the habit of doing, and as being, in fact, used for similar purposes, e.g., “Except the flax or hemp plant, and a few other plants, there is very little herbage of any sort.”[88]

To the coarser filament of both, after the article is heckled, is still, we believe, applied the name of tow. In either case, the substance, when thus subjected to the nicer process of manufacture, presents that well-known whitish brown color so often and so enthusiastically celebrated by the elder English poets in the aspect of “flaxen locks.” We do not know, and, after considerable research, have been unable to ascertain with accuracy, what was the peculiar relation of the “hemp-tree” to those other vegetable productions; but infer from the name that there was a certain resemblance in the fibre of the one to the others, and that probably to some extent it was formerly used for similar purposes. At any rate, it is only with the name and the associations it calls up that we have particularly to do. If the hemp-tree, otherwise called “Abraham’s balm,” furnished when manufactured an article similar in color to that of the other vegetable productions referred to, a sufficient foundation is laid for this inquiry.

Bosworth’s Dictionary of the Anglo-Saxon Language affords a striking illustration of the general subject.[238] He says that “flax signified, in earlier times, also hair and all kinds of hairy thread. In Austria, the flax is called haar, hair. The Danish hör signifies the same.” He adds: “The Old English flix-down, soft hair, is another instance that flax in earlier ages was used to designate hair.”

Of the metaphorical use of the word the poets are full of pregnant examples, for instance:

“Her flaxen haire, insnaring all beholders,
She next permits to wave about her shoulders.”[89]

“All flaxen was his poll.”[90]

“Adown the shoulders of the heavenly fair
In easy ringlets flowed her flaxen hair;
And with a golden comb, in matchless grace,
She taught each lock its most becoming place.”[91]

If to these examples we add the following passage, we shall perceive that the hue in question enjoyed a special distinction and favor:

“The four colors signify the four virtues; the flaxey, having a whiteness, appertains to temperance, because it makes candidam et mundam animam.”[92]

And as this is a hue which frequently distinguishes the heads of youngsters, a large proportion of whom, at an early period of life, we know as white-headed urchins, and in England as well as in the United States even as tow-heads, we are very strongly inclined to believe the color and the term “Abraham” or “Abram” to be thus derived from association, and to be so applied to the boy Cupid; the word Abraham, in this connection, having come to express, to a certain extent, the tow, or the color of the tow, of hemp, or flax, or equally of the finer part which remains after the tow is combed out. So that, in all probability, the cant term “Abraham,” as thus applied in Shakespeare’s day, meant precisely the same as flaxen, with, perhaps, a slightly humorous allusion. And in this view of the case, we must put in a caveat to the allegation of Mr. White, that, if “Cupid is always represented by the old painters as auburn-haired,” then they have so depictured him without sufficient authority; indeed, in contradiction of the best authorities; for the classical evidence on this point will show his hair to be described as of that color which is usually known by the style of “flaxen”; since auburn is really a dun color, or “reddish brown,” whereas Cupid’s hair was flaxen, or, as we now say, blonde. For instance:

“The god of love was usually represented as a plump-cheeked boy, rosy and naked, with light hair floating on his shoulders.”[93]

“Eros is usually represented as a roguish boy, plump-cheeked and naked, with light hair floating on his shoulders.”[94]

We cannot but think, therefore, that this manifest distinction of hue effectually disposes of the theory that “abron” stands for any misspelling of auburn, as suggested by Mr. Dyce, and adopted by Mr. White.

It appears, by the bye, that this same agnus castus, or hemp-tree, which has given occasion for these remarks, was supposed from an early period to possess some peculiar virtues, which prompted its other appellation of “The Chaste Tree”; and to this circumstance was owing, doubtless, its introduction by the poets in their descriptions of various ceremonials. Thus, Chaucer has three several references to it in his “Floure and[239] Leafe,” and very noticeably, as follows:

“Some of laurer, and some full pleasantly
Had chaplets of woodbind; and, sadly,
Some of agnus castus weren also
Chaplets fresh.”

So Dryden, also, modernizing this very passage of the older poet:

“Of laurel some, of woodbine many more,
And wreaths of agnus castus many bore.”

It ought to be suggested that the statement herein made as to the earlier practice of wearing wigs of flax and tow, in addition to some direct evidence to the point, is partly a matter of inference, and partly due to rather vague recollections of youthful studies (to which we have not thought it worth while to recur) among the romance writers of the last century. Their famous heroes undoubtedly were more or less familiar with “Abraham-men” and personages of that description; and it must be confessed that the impression of the “tow-wigs” worn, for purposes of disguise or with whatever object, by the highwaymen, sturdy beggars, and other worthies introduced into their novels, is amongst the strongest left on our mind by those lucubrations of their genius.

The inference which we have ventured upon is that, since wigs were articles of supposed necessity, and certainly have been used from early times; and since those manufactured of hair must have been much more costly in former days than at present, the probabilities are very strong that this important description of head-gear was made, more or less commonly, out of that material which still, we believe, affords the foundation of those ingenious works of art, the color and beauty of which furnished the poets with an ordinary and apt illustration of bright and flowing locks.

We are not without testimony on this point, however, and that, too, of no less authority than Walter Scott, which is literally to the point:

“The identical Peter wears a huge great-coat, threadbare and patched. His hair, half gray half black, escaped in elf-locks around a huge wig made of tow, as it seemed to me.”[95]

Addison also tells us, in a paper of the Spectator, as quoted by Johnson:

“I bought a fine flaxen long wig.”

It is true, Dr. Johnson cites this example in his Dictionary as only meaning something “fair, long, and flowing, as if made of flax”; but we are far from thinking the qualification of his definition inevitably correct, any more than in some other well-known instances. The great lexicographer imagines a wig of hair as presenting the appearance of one made of flax; but we see no reason why the excellent Spectator should not be taken literally according to his expression; nor why he may not have appeared upon the occasion to which he refers in a veritable wig of flax, especially since such an object of manufacture was common, could be made to bear so close a resemblance to hair, probably looked better, and was of much less cost. We find a still more decisive example in the Spectator, which scarcely admits of any other than the most literal interpretation:

“The greatest beau at our next county sessions was dressed in a most monstrous flaxen periwig that was made in King William’s reign.”[96]

The following example is equally pertinent:

“A fair, flaxen, full-bottomed periwig.”[97]


In this instance, the word “fair” would seem clearly to apply to the color, and “flaxen” to the material, for otherwise the use of both expressions would be tautological.

Indeed, we have not left this matter to conjecture and inference merely; for we took occasion to inquire upon this topic, several years ago, of a late celebrated hair-dresser; and, in fact, these notes have been kept on hand for a period considerably longer than the nine years prescribed by Horace for the due refinement and perfection of immortal verse. Our excellent friend, M. Charrier, of Boston, informed us that he had been called upon to manufacture actual wigs of the filament of flax; and he remembered one particular occasion, when an article of special beauty was required for the use of a popular actress, who was to perform in a play which he thought was called “The fair maid with the golden locks.”[98] Thus we trace the article to the stage itself, and there, in all probability, its construction of the material in question is traditional, and is much more likely to have originated at a period earlier than the time of Shakespeare than at a later date. Of course, if M. Charrier had lived to our day, he would have found plenty of business in constructing those mountainous piles of various vegetable material with which ladies now see fit to load their heads—“some browne, some blacke, some Abram.”[99]

In corroboration of these views, explanatory, we hope, of the strange expression, Abraham Cupid, to modern eyes and ears, we have just met with a singularly apt illustration. A very young lady of our family received last Christmas, as a present, a doll with a remarkable head of hair. It was long, fine, profuse, admirably curled, and exactly of that brilliantly fair color, the lightest possible shade of brown, sometimes but rarely seen in its perfection on the heads of young persons, and of the hue which might well be imagined as a peculiar and suitable attribute of the god of love. An examination of this attractive ornament to the seat of whatever intellect a doll might be supposed to possess showed at once, that it was skilfully manufactured, doubtless by accomplished French artisans, of the filament of flax.[100]

From these premises the following propositions seem to be fairly deducible:

1. That, in the time of Shakespeare, the word Abraham was sometimes employed as a cant term expressive of a certain color.

2. That, since the name “Abraham’s balm” was used for a certain shrub or bush, otherwise called the hemp-tree, the color in question was probably that of dressed hemp or flax, which nearly resembled each other in hue; the word tow being still applied to the coarse filament of both.

3. That the color attributed to “flaxen locks,” so celebrated through the whole range of English poetry, is, in fact, that light and fair, that is, blonde, color of the hair assigned to Cupid.

4. That “Young Abraham Cupid,[241]” therefore, means nothing else than flaxen-haired or fair-haired Cupid.

In regard to the term “Abraham’s balm,” as applied to the hemp-tree, we beg leave to suggest that such an appellation may have been bestowed on such a tree, as intimating a natural and appropriate cure for such infirmities as resulted in mistakes about property, to which we may suppose Abraham-men and their associates were only too subject. The figure may be thought similar to that highly metaphorical expression conveyed by the passage:

“Ye shall have a hempen caudle, then.”[101]

As to “Abraham-men,” a rope may, in fact, have been thought, in extreme cases, a “balm for hurt minds.”


It stands girdled with its forty thousand acres of forest, or gathering of many palaces rather than a united single one, and presents perhaps a wider and more varied retrospect than any of its historical compeers. Poet, philosopher, and historian alike find inexhaustible food for meditation before the grand, irregular pile that rises up before us with its towers and gables massed against the sky—the most elaborate epic ever written in stone. But prior to the stupendous poem that we behold to-day, an idyl rose upon its site; a song, half sacred, half sylvan, floats to us across the distant tide of time, the record of an undying past. A vast virgin forest where the chant of prayer and penitence mingles with the voicing of the primeval choir of oaks, and sycamores, and elms, and spire-like poplars, ranged in many-octaved lyres for the winds to strike with strong melodic finger; and human souls set up in the high places, higher than forest trees or earth-built towers; harps wooing the touch divine of the Master’s hand, joining in the ecstatic song of seraph praise; souls these who have cast aside crowns of gold, and trodden their purple garments under foot, to choose the crown of thorns and the scant robe of poverty—love driven to the strange madness, of the cross; others there are who sing the deep plain-song of humility and forgiven sin; while some, whose snow-white brow the dark shadow of sin has never crossed, carol forth in innocent joy with the matins of the lark the hymn of deliverance, the psalm of praise and worship, of intercession and thanksgiving—such is the concert of celestial harmony that echoes to us from the long-ago of the grand old forest. Many changes, will follow: we shall see a busy stir of multitudinous life alternating with the chill silence of the tomb; princes and prelates hurrying to and fro, noble matrons, and frail women, and death in many forms, beautiful and terrible, serene and tragic, passing and repassing the gates; and we shall hear the woods reverberating to other sounds than those of prayer—to the clanging of civil strife, to the voice of laughter and of tears.

Distinct amidst all the earlier memories of Fontainebleau stand out the figures of S. Louis and his[242] mother, Blanche of Castille. There are many versions as to the origin of the place; the most popular one records that S. Louis, being out hunting one day, lost a favorite hound called Bleau, and, after scouring the forest in search of the truant, found him at last quietly drinking at a fountain, and was so enchanted with the beauty of the surrounding scene that he determined to build a hunting-lodge on the spot; he did so, and, in memory of the incident, it was named Fontaine de Bleau. But this pretty legend is rejected by the most reliable historians, who have searched out traces of a much earlier origin for Fontainebleau. There seems sufficient evidence of its having been used as a royal residence by Hugh Capet, and frequented as a favorite rendezvous for the hunt by all the earlier kings of France. The existence of the famous monastery of S. Germain l’Auxerre, at the western extremity of the forest, is advanced as a proof, and a strong one, of its being in those remote times inhabited by royal patrons, for monasteries sprang of necessity where kings lived; and there is no doubt that the greater portion of the abbey lands were grants from good King Robert. Blanche of Castille retired to an old château of some sort at Fontainebleau during her husband’s absence while at war with England or the Albigenses; she founded in the neighborhood the Abbaye de Lys, which was later on munificently endowed by her son, Louis IX., who even went the length of giving up to it some acres of the forest that he loved so well. It was here that a great portion of his childhood was passed. Under the shadow of the old woods, or pacing the solemn cloisters of the abbey, his mother instilled into his mind those first lessons of fear and love upon which his life was so faithfully modelled. “My son, I love thee dearly, but, so help me God, I would rather see thee dead at my feet than have thee live to sully thy soul with one mortal sin.” Truly, a valiant mother of the Machabean mould—a woman of strong faith, worthy to be the mother of a Christian king.

When the child has grown to manhood, we see him still at Fontainebleau, holding his court of justice under the broad shade of a giant oak, he seated on the gnarled trunk, while his people gathered round him—a young patriarch settling the disputes of his tribe, dealing out the law; justice and mercy being counsel, and judge, and jury, and the king’s word supreme. Sometimes we see him dashing through the glade, followed by his courtiers, while the merry hunting-horn scares the wild birds from their nests, and rouses the tusky boar in his lair; but more frequently we see the king alone, meditating on the frail tenure of earthly joys and pride, or surrounded by the wise and learned men, too noble to be called courtiers, whose society he enjoyed better than that of youths of his own age. Louis preserved through life a taste for the monastic offices that he had joined in habitually with Blanche de Castille in his childhood; and, when he could spare a few days from the cares of his kingdom, he would spend them in the prayerful solitude of the monastery of the Mathurins, assisting at all the offices with the monks, and helping them in tending the sick and teaching the poor. His young courtiers made merry over this strange pastime for a king, but Louis only laughed, and said: “Let them laugh, these young ones! It hurts no one, and God is not offended. If I spent my time in hunts, and tournaments, and dancing, they would not blame me. Let them laugh; pray God[243] I may never give them cause to weep!” Once S. Louis fell ill at Fontainebleau, and, being considered at the point of death, he called his little son to him, and gave him some touching advice concerning his conduct and private life; then suddenly changing his tone to one of great impetuosity, he exclaimed: “I pray thee, fair son, make thyself loved of my people! for verily I had rather a Scotchman came from Scotland to govern the kingdom well and loyally than that it should be unfairly or unkindly governed by thee!”

Joinville, who was the close companion of S. Louis through the most active part of his career, finds no words wherewith to praise adequately the character and virtues of the king. “What concerned himself alone could never move him to joy or wrath,” says this trustworthy chronicler; “but when it touched the honor of God, or the happiness of his people, Louis knew no fear, and brooked no delay, nor could any earthly consideration hinder him in the discharge of a duty.” Yet Joinville censures his master severely for having undertaken the second Crusade, which he condemns as a great military and political mistake. Had it succeeded, however, Egypt would have become a Christian colony, and the cross would have been planted on the pyramids; this was what S. Louis looked to beyond the conquest of Jerusalem; and, if his dream had been realized, Joinville would hardly have pronounced it a “great mistake.”

A quaint anecdote is told of a trick played by S. Louis to ensnare his nobles into enlisting in this fatal expedition. The court was at Fontainebleau for the celebration of Christmas. It was customary for the king to present the courtiers with furred cloaks called liveries to wear at Midnight Mass on Christmas eve. S. Louis had a great number of these made, and gave orders that a cross should be embroidered in dark silk on the shoulder of each, and that they should be distributed at the last moment in a dimly lighted apartment; this was done, according to the king’s command; the courtiers hurriedly donned their liveries, and it was only when they entered the brilliantly illuminated church that the wearers beheld the symbol on each other’s backs. They were at first astonished and displeased, says Joinville, but when the king came forward with the cross on his own shoulder and the crucifix in his hand, and asked if they would tear theirs off, and send him forth alone to the Holy Land, a thrill of chivalrous ardor ran through the assembly, and all answered as one voice: “No; we will follow you! We will keep the cross!” And they did.

Blanche de Castille, whose religious enthusiasm is rightly or wrongly credited with the responsibility of this ill-fated enterprise, held the regency during her son’s absence, and proved by her courage in confronting the dangers and difficulties of the charge, and by her wisdom and counsel, that even in those unprogressive days a wise and virtuous woman made no bad substitute for a man in the mighty task of government. She spent most of her time in the comparative retirement of Fontainebleau; but when the news came of the disastrous issue of Mansoorah, where the Christian army was cut to pieces, and the king with his noblest captains taken prisoners, she left it, and hastened to the capital, in order to work more actively for the ransom of her son and his brave companions in arms. It was a terrible time for a mother. The queen knew that those who had taken her[244] son captive had no power over his soul; she knew that Louis was more commanding in his chains than he had even been at the head of his armies; that adversity would teach him no language unbecoming a Christian prince; that neither threats nor torture would wrench from him any compromise unworthy of his honor; and that captivity, nay, death, in so august a cause was the most enviable destiny she could have wished him; but she was a human mother withal, and in this hour of trial her motherhood vindicated itself relentlessly. Blanche labored day and night to raise a ransom that might tempt the Turk to give up his prize. She heard that eight thousand besants[102] would be accepted for the king himself, and this sum was with great difficulty mustered and sent to Palestine. But when Louis heard it, he sent word to the sultan that “the King of France was not to be ransomed with gold or silver; that he would give the town of Damietta for his own person, and eight thousand besants for his army.” The offer was rejected with scorn, and Louis was subjected to still greater cruelties and humiliations; but at last, worn out by the indomitable heroism of his victim, the sultan gave way; the regal fortitude in which suffering had clothed their captive had subdued even his jailers into wondering admiration, and they set him free, declaring that “this king was the proudest Christian that the East had ever seen.” No sooner was he at liberty, than, instead of hastening away from the scenes of his misery and misfortunes, Louis set to work to spread the Gospel far and wide in Palestine; but Blanche had earned a right to clasp him to her heart after those three years of separation. She felt, too, that the days were growing short; so she wrote, entreating him to come home. S. Louis was repairing the ramparts of Sidon when the summons reached him; he immediately prepared to obey it; but, before he had left Sidon, the mother who, next to God, had been the supreme love of his life had taken her flight to a better world. She died at Fontainebleau. “He made great mourning thereat,” says Sire de Joinville, “that for two days no speech could be gotten of him. After that he sent a chamber-man to fetch me. When I came before him in his chamber, where he was alone, he stretched forth his arms, and said to me, ‘O seneschal! I have lost my mother. My God, thou knowest that I loved this mother better than all other creatures, but thy will be done. Blessed be thy name!’” Philip le Bel (IV.) was born at Fontainebleau. There are conflicting versions as to the place of Philip’s death, but it is generally supposed to have taken place at Fontainebleau, in the same room where he was born. There was a current belief at the time, and it was preserved through many succeeding generations, that his death was the result of a summons issued against him by the grand master of the templars, Jacques de Molai. A hundred and thirteen templars perished at the stake during Philip’s reign, and these autos-da-fe were crowned by that of the grand master, who was burnt alive in the gardens of his own palace. As the flames rose round his naked body, the templar lifted up his voice, and, in the hearing of the vast multitude of spectators, solemnly summoned Philip “to meet him at the judgment-seat in four months from that day.” The death of the king precisely four months from the day of De Molai’s execution gave a sanction to the[245] credulity of the people, and the legend passed into an historical occurrence. The fact of the summons is accepted; we can have no difficulty in admitting its inevitable effect on the mind of the individual against whom it was sent forth. There was a prevailing belief that a dying man had the power to issue the formidable command, and that obedience was compulsory. Philip, whose passion for gold had led him to confiscate the treasures of the templars, and then to calumniate and persecute them in order to justify his own spoliations, was haunted by the words of De Molai. He grew sick, and his illness, defying all the arts of medicine, soon brought him to the verge of death. Feeling that his days were numbered, he begged to be taken to Fontainebleau, that he might gaze once more upon the home of his happy childhood. On arriving there, he sent for his children and his friends, and took a sorrowful farewell of them. “They entered the chamber where the king was,” says Godefroid de Paris, “and where there was very little light. They asked him how he felt, and he answered: ‘Ill in body and in soul. I have put on so many tillages and laid hands on so much riches that I shall never be absolved. Methinks I shall die to-night, for I suffer grievous hurt from the curses which pursue me.’” And that same night he died (1314).

The sons of Philip frequented Fontainebleau very faithfully. So did Charles V.; but a veil of mist hangs over the history of the castle during the greater part of the XIVth century. We only find it mentioned now and then as a meeting-place for the hunt of royal sportsmen. Isabeau de Bavière honored it often with her presence, and enlarged a portion of the building. But the romantic history of Fontainebleau dates from Francis I. He was to it what Louis XIV. was to Versailles. It is customary amongst the admirers of those two brilliant representatives of French monarchy to set them side by side, and compare their characters and achievements. And no doubt there are points of resemblance between them, but it is difficult to pursue the comparison much below the surface. Louis XIV., as a king, certainly has the best of it, and, as a man, Francis seems to have had all the vices without many of his successor’s redeeming virtues. Louis was dissipated, but he put a limit to his dissipation: Francis knew none; he exhausted the treasury by his wanton prodigality and the army by his senseless ambition; he burnt La Provence, he broke his plighted word to Charles V., and yet we hear him spoken of as the rival of Bayard, “sans peur et sans reproche.”[103]

History passes strange verdicts sometimes, but stranger still is the blind credulity with which posterity endorses them, and clings to them in spite of the light that by degrees pierces through the darkness, showing up the idol or the monster, stripped of masks and drapery, and exposed in its nakedness, or clothed with its own deeds, that make the only garment it has a right to wear; we acknowledge that we have been worshipping a false standard, or forswearing an honest one; but we go on with a dogged tenacity worshipping and forswearing still, rather than forsake an old love or renounce an old antipathy. There are few personages in history who have usurped this kind of worship and held it more successfully than Francis I. Fontainebleau is not, however, the appropriate place for challenging his claims to the applause[246] of posterity; here he is on his vantage-ground; we see him at his best, all his faults, if not obliterated, mellowed in the blaze of borrowed glory that encircles him; here he is the graceful knight-errant, the magnificent patron of art, and science, and learning, surrounded by men of genius, whom he treats as equals and as friends; we forget his profligate follies, his reckless waste of the kingdom’s money and the kingdom’s blood, when we see him petting Leonardo da Vinci, doing the behests and humoring the crotchets of the cantankerous old genius so tenderly, and bearing his unreasonable jealousy and his reproaches like a chidden child. It would go hard with us to be severe on so lovable a scapegrace, even if he were not the King of France. Francis ought never to come before us except in the midst of his beloved artists. There he is perfect. To Leonardo his demeanor is especially touching. When the proud old man, still in the zenith of his fame, but stung by the coldness of Leo X. and frightened by the rising glory of Michael Angelo’s sun, turned sulkily away from his native land, Francis invited him to Fontainebleau, received him with open arms, and treated him like a prince as he was of the true right divine creation, and laid himself out to console him and brighten the evening of his days. The exile was querulous from ill-health, as well as soured by disappointment and the ingratitude of the Medici; but Francis bore with his temper and his lamentations with the sweetness of a woman; there was no tender gracefulness that sympathy could devise to cheer the old man’s spirit and heal his aching pride that the king had not recourse to; he would have kept him at Fontainebleau, near his own person, but Leonardo, who was so fond of solitude and meditation that he never married, “because the clatter of a wife’s tongue would have disturbed his thoughts,” could not bear the gay bustle of the court, and said he must go somewhere to be quiet; so Francis gave him a splendid suite of apartments in the Château de Clou at Amboise. He spent the remaining four years of his life there, painting his celebrated Mona Lisa, the most exquisitely finished perhaps of all his works, and in writing his treatise Della Pittura, a book of great originality and learning, written, like all Da Vinci’s books, after the manner of the Eastern manuscripts, from right to left—a singularity which he adopted, it is said, to foil the curiosity of those around him, and prevent his brother artists from discovering his secrets. The king paid twelve thousand livres for Mona Lisa—an unprecedented sum for a work of art in those days. When Leonardo was thought to be near his end, Francis had him conveyed to Fontainebleau that he might watch over him himself and be with him at the close.

On the morning of his death, when the king came into the room, the dying man tried to raise himself on his couch to welcome him, but the effort was too much; he sank forward, and would have fallen but for the timely arms that rescued him. Francis laid the venerable old head upon his breast, and there it lay till Leonardo breathed his last.

The artist had been pursued for months before his death by a morbid terror of being buried alive, and had implored Francis to let him be kept three days before the coffin was closed. The king complied with the wish, and caused his friend to be exposed with royal honors, and the body laid in state for three days. He was buried in the Church of S. Florentin,[247] near his own abode at Amboise.

Benvenuto Cellini is another shining stone in the pedestal of Francis I. Discontented with the recognition that his genius met with at home, he too was enticed from the blue skies of Florence to the colder but more genial atmosphere of Fontainebleau, and was petted by the graceful king only in a less degree than Da Vinci. But Benvenuto, who knew so many things, who excelled almost equally as a poet, a sculptor, and a painter, was lamentably ignorant in the art of being a courtier. The Duchesse d’Estampes was queen of the gay palace of Armida, and all the great men that frequented it bowed before her; but this bold Florentine, who had a dash of the brigand in his composition, thought he might dispense with her patronage, and refused to do homage at the common shrine; he knew that he had had the bad luck to displease the haughty fair one by his untutored manners from the first, and, instead of trying to conciliate, he determined to conquer her. The duchess was a liberal and enlightened patroness of art, and seems to have merited in some degree by her personal accomplishments the flattering title bestowed on her by one of her protégés of “the most beautiful of savantes and the most learned of belles.” Her sway over Francis rested, therefore, on something stronger than the ephemeral tenure of mere beauty; but, had it been otherwise, what chance was there for Benvenuto against the favorite of the king? He, foolish mortal, braved her so far as to ask the king direct, without having recourse to her intervention, for an order to cast a bronze statue for the great gallery which was in process of completion, and Francis gave him the order, with carte-blanche for the execution. The statue was finished, and a day appointed for the king to see it. This was a precious opportunity for a woman’s vengeance; the duchess knew that the triumph of the artist depended altogether on the first impression produced on the king, and that the triumph of the work depended mainly on the light in which it was seen: Cellini had named an hour when the sun would pour in soft, full floods of light down the gallery; and, long before the appointed time, he was there, watching every changing shadow that it cast upon his statue, counting the minutes impatiently, while his friends and all the court flocked in to assist at the king’s entrance, and witness the triumph or the humiliation of the sculptor. But the hour passed, and another, and another, and there was no sign of Francis; the sun was gathering up its light, and speeding away to the west, and the brown twilight was creeping into the gallery. Benvenuto grew nervous, then outrageous. He paced up and down before his Jupiter like a man gone mad. Where was the king? Would no one take pity on him to go and call the king? But Benvenuto knew full well that none in that courtly crowd would be guilty of so rash an act. Not even he himself would dare to do it. He knew whose fault it was that the king was not forthcoming, and he gnashed his teeth in savage but impotent rage. But genius, like prophecy, has a ready handmaid in inspiration. “Let fall the curtains, and bring lights,” cried the sculptor, with a sudden bound from despair to triumph. The partisans of the “belle savante” groaned, and stood still; the friends of Cellini flew to obey his orders. It mattered not that they did not understand: the master did. In less time than it takes to tell, the gallery[248] was illuminated from end to end; lamps, torches, waxlights, every luminary that hands could carry, was put in requisition, till Jupiter shone out magnificent, terrible, and dazzling in the blaze of an impromptu illumination more weirdly effective than the brightest daylight could have been.

Cellini’s spirit rose to frenzy. He ran hither and thither, arranging the lights with a view to more striking effect; clustering many flames in a group at one point, leaving another in partial shade; clapping his hands in wild delight one minute, impatiently knocking down one of his helpmates the next. It was finished. The king was heard approaching. Cellini, with an imperious gesture, commanded silence; the doors of the gallery were thrown open, and the colossal bronze god flashed out in all his dark effulgence on the astonished and enchanted gaze of the monarch. The triumph of the hour was complete; but it cost the sculptor dear. The duchess gave Francis no peace till he quarrelled with her enemy, and dismissed him from the court.

Many Italian artists had followed Leonardo da Vinci to France, some out of love for the great master himself, others tempted by the generosity which the King of France showed universally to their class. The most distinguished of these disciples of Leonardo was Andrea del Sarto. But he was of too restless a disposition to settle anywhere permanently; camp, court, and studio alike wearied him after a time; his wings were too buoyant to remain long folded even in the enchanted clime of Fontainebleau; he was not more than a year there, when he declared it was a necessity of life for him to return to Florence, the ostensible motive being to see his wife. Francis proposed to send for her, promising that she should be made welcome to his court as an honored guest; but Andrea said this would not do: he must go himself and fetch her. All the king could obtain was a promise that he would return to France in a year; and, to make the promise more binding, he entrusted him with a considerable sum of money, to be expended, according to Andrea’s taste and judgment, on objects of art for the decoration of the palace. But when Andrea found himself once more in Florence, in the company of his wife and his former boon companions, he forgot all about his mission, and spent the king’s money in merry-making; he did not dare show himself at Fontainebleau after this, but frittered away the rest of his life in his native city, where he eventually died in poverty and contempt. It would take too long to enumerate the various European celebrities who fill up the brilliant picture presented by Francis’ court at this period; but we cannot refuse a passing mention to Serlio, the accomplished Bolognese architect, whom the king lured away from Italy by his gold and his honeyed flattery. Serlio rebuilt the palace almost entirely; his genius was allowed full scope, and the result justified the confidence of his patron.

The area of the old building being much too small for the magnificent new plan, Francis bought in the Mathurin Convent and the noble grounds with which Louis IX. had endowed it, and added them to the original site. The design of the library had been sketched by S. Louis, and this Serlio adhered to strictly, making no change of his own. When the edifice was finished, Francis swept Italy and Spain for artists to adorn and beautify it. Rosso came to paint the walls in fresco, and his design for the grand gallery, which was to be called the Gallery of Francis I., carried the prize over[249] all his competitors; he embellished it with paintings, friezes of great beauty, and rich stucco-work. So delighted was the king with the result of Rosso’s labors that, in addition to other favors, he created him a canon of the Sainte Chapelle. This wonderful gallery had sixteen frescoes representing the most remarkable incidents in the life of Francis; the famous porte dorée[104] was decorated by the same gifted hand. It is lamentable to think that these glorious works of art, which formed Rosso’s principal claim on the admiration of the world, were sacrificed to the vindictive jealousy of a rival. Francesco Pellegrini had been the early friend of Rosso; but, when they met as fellow-laborers at Fontainebleau, the friendship turned to a rivalry which soon developed into bitter enmity, and ended in the tragic death of Rosso. Primaticcio, as Pellegrini is usually called, was accused by his rival of having stolen a large sum of money from him; he was put to the torture, but acquitted triumphantly. Rosso was then seized with shame and remorse; haunted in imagination by the shrieks of the innocent man, the friend of his youth, whom he had given up to the torture, his mind gave way, and in a fit of insanity he took poison, which killed him in a few hours. Some say that Rosso knew that the accusation was false, and that he brought it designedly against Primaticcio, hoping to get rid of him; but his frantic grief on discovering his mistake, and the fatal consequences of his remorse, may be taken as contradictory evidence of this opinion. Primaticcio, moreover, by his subsequent conduct, vindicates his unhappy rival from having done him so very great a wrong in suspecting him capable of the theft, for he unblushingly stole from Rosso what was incomparably more precious to him than gold—his fame. No sooner was he master of the field, than he set about to destroy all traces of Rosso’s beautiful compositions, pulling down the walls which they adorned, under pretence of enlarging the space. Some few that were spared by the relentless destroyer have been obliterated by damp and the effects of time. There is one fine painting of his to be seen in the Louvre—“Mary receiving the homage of S. Elizabeth.”

The fêtes given at Fontainebleau by Francis I., though perhaps inferior in splendor to those of Louis XIV. at Versailles, surpassed them in picturesque elegance; they were rather the ideal festivities of an artist than the gorgeous pageants of an Arabian caliph. But the leisures of Francis were not all wasted in frivolous amusements. In his sane moments, when he was not flying after that will-o’-the-wisp that cost France and him so dear, the conquest of the Milanese, he was something more than the mere fascinating madcap that his enemies make him out; for it is his lot, like that of all charming but unprincipled sovereigns, to inspire panegyrics and denunciations equally exaggerated. He was not only a patron of those artists who contributed to the adornment of his dwellings: Francis courted the society of learned men for learning’s sake. The luxurious repasts of Fontainebleau were enlivened and refined by the presence of such men as Clement Marot, whose style, full of terseness and incisive grace, the king was fond of emulating in verses of his own composition, not altogether devoid of poetic merit. He delighted in the chivalrous lays of the middle ages, and in the harmonious cadence and florid imagery of the ballads of the[250] troubadours. The witty Curé of Mendon was a frequent guest at the royal table, Francis provoking his lively sallies, and heartily enjoying them, though the sarcasm was often boldly pointed at himself. Learned men of every class—doctors, bookworms, and even printers—were admitted to the same honor. Erasmus was one of the few who withstood the wiles of the charmer; he steadfastly refused all invitations to reside permanently at Fontainebleau; but he kept up a brisk correspondence with Francis, the honest freedom of whose tone throughout does equal honor to the scholar and the king. The French court was, in fact, the most polished and the gayest in Europe at this period. The sprightly Queen of Navarre—that sister whom Francis so tenderly loved, his “Marguerite des Marguerites”—was its presiding genius and brightest ornament. She was passionately fond of Fontainebleau, and made it her home during the greater part of her first husband’s life, and after her marriage with Henri de Navarre, who was so frequently absent, either in her brother’s service or in the pursuit of war on his own account. Her image is everywhere associated in our memory with that of Francis in his favorite palace. In her boudoir, a spacious and magnificently decorated room, leading out of Rosso’s noble gallery, the royal brother and sister passed many delightful hours, either in affectionate converse together, or surrounded by the artists and learned men whom they both loved to honor. Here Francis placed the library of rare books and manuscripts for which he had scoured Italy, Spain, and Greece. The erudite Erasmus would sometimes deliver one of his learned discourses on deep and elevating themes in the privacy of this enchanting retreat, while Marguerite de Navarre worked out, in rainbow-tinted silks and golden threads, the poem of one of her artist friends, or some chivalrous exploit of her idolized Francis. Happy had it been for Francis and for France had he dwelt content amidst the peaceful and refined delights of this Eldorado. But there was the Milanese—that unlucky Milanese, the bane of his life, and of his people’s while his lasted. Again and again he flew at it like a moth at the flame, or a madman at his idée fixe—failure and humiliation, instead of disgusting him with his hobby, only goaded him to its pursuit with greater zest. And what odd, shifting relations grew out of this standing duel between him and Charles V.! Alternately, they were rivals, friends, deadly foes, and “dear brothers.” Beside the gloomy, vindictive Spanish warrior, subtle in his policy, swift and ruthless in his vengeance, the brilliant figure of Francis shone at its best; he had all the qualities that his rival lacked; his uncalculating generosity, his rash impulses that led him into so many grievous straits, all stand out in bright relief against the dark background of the contest. The story of the broken Treaty of Madrid is one of the many vexed questions over which the apologists of both princes have broken innumerable lances, but they leave it pretty much where it stood in the year of grace 1527, after the Notables decided that the conditions of the treaty were monstrous, and had been unjustifiably imposed by a jailer on his prisoner, and that Francis was right in maintaining que prisonnier gardé n’est tenu a nulle foye, n’y se peut obliger à rien.[105]

Charles had no right to exact the abdication of his conquered foe, and[251] the latter had no power to effect it without the consent of his Notables, which he knew full well would never be granted. Still, the solemn oath sworn on the crucifix by Francis in presence of the emperor is not to be disposed of so easily. It would have been more consistent with the character for Bayard-like chivalry, which the French prince arrogated, to have withheld the pledge which he knew he could not redeem, than to purchase his liberty by a subterfuge that has left an equivocal mark upon his memory. He was only a lifetenant of the crown of France; he might resign it, but he had no power to alienate its most insignificant fief; in swearing, therefore, to hand over the duchy of Burgundy and the counties of Flanders and Artois to Charles V., he was performing a vain sham; for, had he been willing to carry out the promise of renunciation himself, he was well aware that the states-general and the parliament of the realm would never ratify the act, and that without their ratification it remained null and void. The strong epithets used by Charles in denouncing the disloyalty of his quondam captive in violating this preposterous treaty are, however, somewhat misplaced, considering the duplicity and cruelty which he himself had displayed in extracting impossible concessions from a brave and conquered foe.

It was not long before Francis had an opportunity of vindicating his much-prized character for chivalrous magnanimity by heaping coals of fire on the head of Charles. The emperor was on his way to Ghent, and applied to the king for a safe-conduct through his dominions. It was granted at once, but on condition that the emperor should remain for a few days the guest of Francis. Charles was in such a hurry to castigate the rebels that he would have promised more than this in order to arrive swiftly on the scene of vengeance; he consented to halt at Fontainebleau; but no sooner had he set foot on the soil of his “good brother of France,” than he was seized with tremors and suspicions that made his life miserable; he accused himself of madness in having so rashly rushed into the arms of a prince whom he had persecuted meanly when he was in his power, and whose state he had grievously injured; nor did the magnificence of the reception which greeted him on his arrival calm his fears. Francis, who was utterly incapable of a base breach of hospitality, could not forego the pleasure of playing a little on the agonies of Charles; he occasionally repeated to him the murmurings of the Queen of Navarre and the Dauphin, who would fain have improved the rare opportunity by compelling their guest to undo some of the mischief he had done their brother and father. Francis even recounted to the emperor with great merriment an epigrammatic little passage between himself and his favorite dwarf, Triboulet: while the latter was diverting the king with his usual antics on the night of the Spaniard’s arrival, he suddenly pulled out his tablets, and began to write with an air of great gravity. “What are you writing there, Triboulet?” inquired his master. “The name of a bigger fool than myself,” replied the dwarf. “Who is that?” said Francis. “Charles,” replied Triboulet. “But suppose I keep my word, and let him go?” queried the king. “Then,” answered Triboulet, “I would rub out Charles, and write Francis instead.”

The question of the Milanese was discussed between the two sovereigns during this period with great earnestness on one side and consummate[252] skill on the other. Charles promised solemnly to bestow the investiture on the Dauphin; but, when Francis urged him to confirm his pledge by a written guarantee, he cunningly retaliated his host’s answer concerning the Treaty of Madrid: “Prisonnier gardé n’est tenu à nulle foye, n’y se peut obliger à rien.” He declared, however, that on reaching Flanders he would give the promise in writing. We know how he kept his word.




In a former notice, we expressed an intention to present our readers with the translation of certain curious fragments relating to Merlin; to be followed by some of the historical poems which succeeded the Druidic compositions of earlier times. We proceed to fulfil our promise.

The name of Merlin (Myrrdhin, or Marzin) is so closely associated with the early mystic and mythological poetry of Cambria and Armorica that it will be desirable to give some account of this personage, as far as the uncertainty of his history renders it possible to do so, before reproducing any of the poems of which he is the subject.

It has long been supposed that there existed two Merlins, one of whom, a magician, was the offspring of a Christian virgin and a Roman consul who lived in the Vth century, in the reign of Ambrose Aurelian; or, according to the popular tradition, whose father was no mortal, but a malignant Duz, whom, under the form of a bird, she unwittingly let in at her window: and the other, a warrior and bard, who after the battle of Arderiz, in which he had unintentionally killed his nephew, lost his reason, and retired from the world.

But critics of the present day agree in considering that it is one person who is the subject of a triple tradition, and that it is the same Merlin who appears in the light of a mythological, historical, and legendary hero.

The fragments which still remain in Wales of the poems of this bard are either very much modernized or almost wholly transformed. Of the ballads relating to him which exist in Brittany, there seem to be four principal ones. First, a cradle-song, intensely pagan in spirit, in which his mother plaintively relates to him his mysterious origin while rocking him to sleep, and when, to her amazement, the infant derides her regrets, and defends his father, declaring himself to be born to be the good genius of the Breton nation. This poem it is needless to reproduce. We give translations of the remaining three, beginning with



(Marzin Divinour.)


“Merlin, sage Merlin, say, whither away,
With your Black Dog, at the dawn of the day?”
“Seeking am I, in each wave-hollowed cleft,
Egg red as blood, by the sea-adder left.

“Cress I would seek in the meadowland low,
Magical gold-herb, and weird mistletoe;
Deep in the forest to find must I go,
Where by the fay-haunted fount it doth grow.”

“Merlin, sage Merlin, your steps, ah, retrace!
Mistletoe leave, the old oak-tree to grace;
Leave the green cress and the gold-herb to grow,
Hid in the well-watered meadowland low.

“Leave the red egg of the snake of the sea
Mid the wild foam of the breakers to be.
Merlin! turn back from the path you have trod,
One and the only Diviner is God!”

The latter half of the poem appears to be the voice of S. Kado, the Christian bishop to whom tradition attributes the conversion of Merlin.

The gold-herb figures as one of the most approved charms of Druidic days. It is said to sparkle at a distance like gold—whence its name—and is greatly esteemed by the Bretons for its medicinal qualities. It must be gathered at dawn, by a person who is in a state of grace, fasting, barefoot, and clad in white linen which has not been previously worn. A circle is traced round it, and no steel must approach it, but it must be carefully plucked by the hand. Should any one chance to tread upon the plant, he sleeps forthwith, and can hear and understand the language of animals and birds.

In the next poem, Merlin no longer appears as a magician. He is himself overcome by a sorceress, who, after depriving him of his harp and his gold ring, the symbols of his dignity as bard, takes advantage of a particular taste he seems to have had for apples (if we may judge by the praises lavished upon that fruit in poems of his composition still extant in Wales[107]) to ensnare him, and to make even his will powerless by their means.

The tradition of his disappearance is common to Wales and Brittany. “The tomb of Merlin is known to none,” says the bard Myvyrian, who lived before the Xth century. And in the Welsh Triads[108] it is written that “he embarked with nine other bards, and whither he went cannot be known.” He himself says that he fled from the court to dwell in the woods.[109]

The king mentioned in the ballad appears to be Budik, chief of the Bretons of Armorica, a British prince who emigrated from Cornwall, and who was a valiant defender of the independence of Brittany against the Franks. He was assassinated by order of Clovis, who had been unable to overcome him in battle, about the year 506. He married his daughter Alienor to a prince whose name is unknown, and gave her Léon for dowry.




“Good grandmother, pray list to me:
Fain would I go the feast to see—
The feast commanded by the king,
And join the races in the ring.”

“To see the feast you will not go,
To this, nor other one I trow;
Go you shall not to see the sight:
I see that you have wept this night.
Go you will not while I can let,
If dreamings fond your cheeks make wet.”

“Sweet little mother, love you me?
Can you forbid me there to be?”
“In flying thither, you will sing:
Returning, you will droop the wing.”


Bridled has he his chestnut colt,
His chestnut colt so red:

Its hoofs, well shod with glittering steel,
Strike fire at every tread.

Gleams on its neck a ring, and on[254]
Its tail a ribbon gay;

Fair trappings o’er its back he throws,
Then mounts and speeds away.

E’en as he gains the glittering course,
The horns all loudly sound;

While, in the ever-thickening crowd,
The eager horses bound.

“Who the great barrier of the field
Shall leap at one clear spring,

Perfect and free, the same shall wed
The daughter of the king!”

Wildly thereat the young colt neighs,
Prances, and bounds amain;

His gleaming eyes flash eager fire,

He paws the ground with keen desire,
Then flies across the plain.

Far, far behind, the others all
Were long ago pass’d by:

He flies alone. With one great bound,
He clears the barrier high.

“My lord the king, your royal word
Is pledged that so it be:

The fair Linor I therefore crave,
For surely mine is she.”

“The princess Linor think not thou
In any wise to win.

No sorcerer my daughter weds,
Nor any of his kin.”

An aged man, whose snowy beard
Upon his breast flowed down,

White as the wool by furze-brake torn
Upon the moorland brown—

An aged man, with robe of wool,
Bordered by silver band

Throughout its length, sat by the king,
Upon the king’s right hand.

Unto the royal ear he bent—
He bent, and whispered low;

Then did the king his sceptre raise,
And struck a sounding blow—

A blow upon the table thrice,
That all the field might hear:

It hushed the crowd to silence, while,
With voice both loud and clear,

Thus spake the king: “So bring thou me
The harp of Merlin old,

Which by four chains hangs by his bed—
Four chains of finest gold:

If Merlin’s harp thou bring to me,
My child, perchance, shall marry thee.”


“Good grandmother, I pray give heed,
And counsel me in this my need:
My heart is broken!” “Oh, indeed!
Hadst thou not set at naught my rede,
Thy hap had met with better speed.
Poor grandson mine! Yet weep not so:
The harp shall be unbound, I trow.
A golden hammer here behold,
No sound rings from its stroke of gold.”


“Now fair befall this palace high,
And joy to all therein!

Behold, with Merlin’s harp I come,
Which scarce I hoped to win.”

When the king’s son these tidings heard,
Low to his sire spake he:

And thereupon thus said the king,
To that bold youth and free:

“If thou from Merlin’s own right hand
Safe unto me shalt bring

The ring he wears, Linor is thine
When I receive the ring.”


He went his way, and, weeping, sought
His grandame, with new care distraught:

“Behold, the king his word hath spoken!
Behold, the king his word hath broken!”

“Nay, fret thee not: there is small need;
Only, to that I bid, give heed:
My little coffer open thou,
And take thereout a slender bough,
Whereon twelve glittering leaflets grow:
Like fiery gold they gleam and glow.
‘Tis now full seven years agone
Since seven woods I searched, alone,
On seven nights, at darkest hour,
Ere I could win that plant of power.
When you the midnight cock-crow hear,
Your red horse waits: speed forth, nor fear:
In slumber deep will Merlin be;
So fear thee not: good speed to thee!”

When loud the cock at midnight crowed,
The red steed bounded on the road;
And ere his notes he ceased to sing,
The youth had borne away the ring.


Ere dawn had brightened into day,
He stood the king beside,

Whereat the king in wonder gazed,
Silent and stupefied.

And all with him: “His wife, behold,
He verily has won!”

The king retires a moment, with
The old man and his son.

Anon the king returns, and still
The two are at his side:

And thus he spake; “‘Tis true, my son,
That thou hast gained thy bride;

“Yet is there one adventure more
Which thou must undertake;

When that is sped, my son-in-law
Forthwith I thee will make.

“The princess Linor shall be thine,
And all the country fair

Of Léon I bestow for dower;
This, by my race, I swear.

“Do but the thing which I demand,
(And this the last shall be:)

To celebrate the marriage, bring
Bard Merlin unto me.”


“O Merlin, Bard, alone, forlorn,
With all thy garments soiled and torn:
O Merlin, Bard, whence comest thou,
With weary step, with clouded brow,
Bareheaded and barefooted? Say;
And whither wouldst thou wend thy way?
Thy holly staff can barely stay
Thy bending form, thou Druid gray.”

“Alas! To seek my harp I go:[255]
Best solace that my heart can know
In this world. I am wandering
To seek my harp, to seek my ring:
Both have I lost: no more I sing,
But wearily am wandering.”

“Nay, then, O Merlin, grieve not so;
Yet shalt thou find thy harp, I trow:
Thy harp and eke thy golden ring;
So cease awhile thy wandering.
Enter, O Bard, and rest thee here,
And taste a morsel of my cheer.”

“Nay, pray me not: I will not stay,
Nor pause upon my weary way;
I will not cease my painful quest,
I will not eat, I will not rest,
Until I seek no more in vain:
Until my harp I find again.”

“Hear me, O Merlin, and obey:
In sooth, thou wilt not long delay
Thy harp to find. Come in, I pray,
A little space, nor say me nay.”

She so besought, so urged him, till
Her wily wit had worked her will.

With night approaching, home there came
The grandson of that ancient dame;
And when he drew the hearth anear,
Back started he with sudden fear;
For there Bard Merlin sat at rest,
His head low bowed upon his breast:
Yes, there forsooth sate Merlin gray;
And he?—how should he flee away?

“Hush, grandson mine! fear naught; in deeps
Of slumber most profound he sleeps.
Eaten has he red apples three,
On the hot ashes cooked by me.
Whither we list we now may fare,
And he will follow everywhere.”


In early morning, ere the queen
Had risen from her bed,

Her waiting-lady to her side
She called, to whom she said:

“What in the city has befall’n?
And what the noise, I pray,

That shakes the columns of my bed,
Ere yet ‘tis dawn of day?

“And what has happened in the court?
And wherefore do the crowd

With eager tumult thus press on
With joyous shouts and loud?”

“It is that all the town is glad,
And keeping holiday,

Because unto this palace high
Bard Merlin comes to-day;

“And by his side an aged dame
In robe of white wool fair:

The royal son-in-law, behind,
Follows the ancient pair.”

This heard the king, and ran to see:
“Haste thee, good crier arise!

Rise from thy bed: make speed: proclaim
The feast in gallant wise.

“Make proclamation through the land,
And summon great and small

Alike, to keep the marriage feast,
And make high festival.

“Come all who will, come high and low:
The daughter of the king

Affianced eight days hence will be
With the betrothal ring.

“Bid to the nuptials nobles, lords
Of ancient Brittany,

Dukes, marquises, and judges grave,
And all of high degree.

“Bid churchmen, warriors, and knights;
But summon first of all

The great crown-vassals of the land:
The rich, the poorest, call.

“Run, messenger, the country through,
With diligence and speed;

To hasten quickly thy return
See that thou give good heed.”


“Good people all two ears who own,
Wide open let them be,

And silence keep—keep silence all,
And hearken unto me.

“Hearken to that which is ordained:
The daughter of the king

In eight days hence betroth’d will be,
And wear the ‘spousal ring.

“Come to the nuptials all who list,
Rich, poor, or great, or small;

Churchmen and judges, counts and knights,
The king inviteth all.

“Nothing to you shall lacking be,
Nor silver bright, nor gold,

Nor meat, nor bread, nor hydromel,
Nor wine, for young and old,

“Nor seats for you to sit upon,
Nor valets quick to wait.

Two hundred bulls, two hundred swine,
Will be served up in state.

“Two hundred heifers, and of roes
One hundred from each wood

Throughout the country, oxen white
And black, two hundred, good;

“Whereof the hides shall equally
Be shared among the guests;

And there will be a hundred robes
Of white wool for the priests.

“A hundred chains of burnished gold
For warriors brave and true;

And for young girls a roomful gay
Of festal mantles blue.

“Eight hundred nether garments good
For folk of poor estate,

And seemly gifts for every guest
Or be he small or great.

“A hundred skilled musicians there,
Each seated in his place,

Music will make, by day and night,
The festival to grace.

“And in the midst of all the court,
With fitting pomp and state,

Merlin the Bard that marriage high
Will duly celebrate.

“In short, the feast will all surpass[256]
That e’er have been before;

Nor will there be in time to come
Its equal evermore.”


“Chief of the royal kitchens, say,
The marriage, is it done?”

“Finished, and paid for; and the guests
Departed every one.

“For fifteen days the feast was kept
With gaiety and glee,

Then, laden with rich gifts, the guests
To go their ways were free,

“All with protection from the king;
And thus, with joyful heart,

To Léon with his royal bride
Did the king’s son depart.

“All are gone hence, well satisfied;
Not so the king alone:

Merlin the Bard is lost again,
And whither is he gone?”

It is believed that Merlin was assassinated, but popular tradition has not suffered the mysterious bard to die.

The story of the conversion of Merlin in his old age comes down to us from very early times, and has been sung by the Christian bards of Wales, Armorica, and the Gaelic clans. The following ballad, as well the foregoing fragments relating to Merlin, is still sung in Treguier, and other parts of Brittany.


S. Kado walked the forest maze,
Through many a darkling dell:

S. Kado walked thro’ the forest green
Ringing his clear-toned bell;

When out from the shade of the ancient trees
A phantom bounding sprang;

But still S. Kado went his way,
And still his clear bell rang.

The phantom’s beard was like lichen gray
Spread o’er an ancient stone,

And its restless eyes, like boiling water,
Glitter and danced and shone.

‘Twas Merlin the Bard that Kado met,
That S. Kado met this day,

With fiery eyes that wildly glared,
And beard so long and gray.

“In Heaven’s name, I bid thee, phantom,
Tell me who art thou?”

“A bard was I when in the world,
To whom did all men bow.

If I into the palace came,
A joyous crowd pressed round,

And gleaming gold fell from the trees
When my harp began to sound.

“My country’s kings all loved me well;
And strange kings held in fear

The mighty bard with harp of gold,
To Brittany so dear.

Now in the woods I dwell alone:
Men honor me no more.

Grinding their teeth, there pass me by
The wolf and fierce wild boar.

“My harp is lost; the trees are felled
From whence dropped glittering gold;

The kings of Brittany are not;
The land to strangers sold.

‘Merlin the fool!’ now shout the folk,
And pelt, with scoffings bold.”

“Poor innocent, return to God,
Who pity has on thee,

And rest thy weariness on him
Who died on Calvary.”

“Ah, then in him I will confide,
Will he but pardon me.”

“Pardon from him do I pronounce:
The Blessed One in Three.”

“A cry of joy my heart sends forth,
To honor heaven’s high King;

And through eternal ages I
His praise will ever sing.”

“Go, Christian soul, and may his angels
O’er thee spread their wing.”



The mother of a family of three children sits musing while she mends their clothing which lies heaped upon a table beside her. The pile has lowered slowly under her patient and busy fingers during the long afternoon. The slanting sun now shines across her bowed head while she still continues her work. It touches up the homely furniture of the room with a glow richer than the gilding of art, and lends to the place a cheerful aspect which does not accord with the mood of its occupant. She is a woman of about twenty-four years, with considerable claim to beauty in her regular features and dark, intelligent eyes. But there is a look of discontent on her face, and a querulousness in her voice, as she occasionally reproves the noisy children playing about her. Yet the eyes wear a patient look, in spite of the discontent expressed, and a sort of hushed resolve seems stamped upon her features, as if, whatever is the trouble with which she battles, no acknowledged recognition of it shall find vent. Nature, however, has her way, and that which the voice refuses to utter the eye often betrays, and there will be found lines written upon the human face which those who study physiognomy may translate. It is the chirography of the soul. She writes upon the face as upon a tablet, often also extending the characters to the whole of the frail temple she occupies, leaving her traces in motions of the hands, carriage of the head, the very posture of the body, and in the gait, so that all are eloquent of her subtle influence. How often a pure pious soul, dwelling on heavenly things, recoiling from grossness, and courting all that is divine, praying fervently always not to be led into temptation, but delivered from evil, glorifies a plain face into a seraphic beauty which makes the beholder wonder whence comes this loveliness! We see plain features. We wonder that this face should please as much as it does, forgetting the soul’s high mission. We see not the lamp behind the screen of flesh: we only see the effect of the rays. Again, we see faces where nature has done much to beautify, and where a soul not delivered from evil has written such ugly marks that the fair tablet is disfigured with blots and stains of sinful ink flowing from the pen held in the grasp of passion.

Whence comes the writing on the face of this mother sitting in the golden sunshine, doing the work which mothers are usually content to perform? She is striving as best she may with a lot in life distasteful to her, but from which she sees no means of escaping, and, indeed, as yet does not dream of trying to escape. This lot is that of being married to a man of coarser nature than her own, who seldom sympathizes with her in anything at all above the most grovelling interests. Why she married him seems to her now an ever-unsolved puzzle, a never-ceasing source of regret. If she had read the lines, she might conclude with the poet that it was “accident—blind contact and the strong necessity of loving.” Not being acquainted with that answer to her riddle, she blames fate and her own inexperienced youth, and the need of a home and protection at a[258] time when her own heart had not yet asserted its rights. Now, she knows she does not love her husband, and she thinks she hates him at times. Not that he is cruel, not that he is unfaithful—he is neither of these; but he is narrow, jealous, exacting, unintellectual, and coarse; while she is aspiring, even poetic, in her nature. Fond of the beautiful, seeking it in every way, cultivating her intellect as best she can against the odds of a deficient education, limited means and time, and overtaxed strength of body, she longs for a better position in life. Care has fretted, if not furrowed, her fair white forehead already; yet still she reaches out and clings to every refining influence. All books that have fallen in her way she has read, stealing the time from toiling hours already filled to overflowing with household work. On this particular afternoon, there lies among the stockings she is mending a poem of Whittier’s, which has taken such a hold upon her fancy and morbid feeling that the discontent deepens and the hunger of her starving heart gnaws more sharply than usual. This poem, Maud Muller, read so gaily by the happy many, with pleasure at its pretty conceits, allies itself so to this woman’s experience that it finds an echo she cannot silence, in the lines—

“She wedded a man unlearned and poor,
And many children played round her door;
But care and sorrow and childbirth pain
Left their traces on heart and brain.”

Although she has never had any other lover, or even a passing fancy for any other man, save some vague ideal of some one different from her husband John Thorndyke, as she reads:

“And for him who sat by the chimney lug,
Dozing and grumbling o’er pipe and mug,
A manly form by her side she saw,
And joy was duty, and love was law,”

she seems to herself the heroine of the poem, and John Thorndyke the very unpleasant companion portrayed. And yet no thought of escaping from what she considers her “shackles” obtrudes upon her musings. She is a severe Puritan in her education and faith, and thus far has escaped the base free-thinking and “free-love” tendencies of the day. Marriage, disagreeable as it has proved to her, seems still, if not a sacrament, a binding, honorable state, to be borne with according to her promise, “for better or for worse.” She has been married by an Episcopal clergyman, because it had been most convenient, and her husband had preferred that form; and thus her spoken promise has always seemed to her yet more definite. “For better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love, cherish, and to obey, till death us do part.” That sounds always to her like a doom. Joy is not duty, and love is not law, in her case; but she patiently takes “up her burden of life again, saying only, ‘It might have been.’”

But in her lonely heart, she has one pure God-given instinct to glorify her otherwise gloomy religion, and ennoble her dull, hard lot. This is charity in its loveliest form—a disposition for nursing the sick and attending to the needy—a positive vocation for the work, which she does from enthusiasm, not from cold duty. Ever her willing hands minister to the suffering, and often is she called to watch through lonely nights at their bedsides. In this way, her acquaintance has extended far beyond her husband’s sphere of life. Often in the houses of her neighbors, both rich and poor, are her skill and kindness called into requisition. Tact and cleverness, and, above all, a willingness to help in time of need, soon make a woman appreciated and respected among those by whom she is[259] surrounded, and so it happens that her own life presents itself to her in sharper contrast with the lives of other women.

That unsatisfied hunger at her heart gnaws more and more, and her husband grows to her more and more repulsive; but while he repels her thus, and every tendril of her nature reaches out vainly for supporting strength, she fails not in any duty as wife and mother. While her heart calls vainly, her conscience is answered and obeyed in every exaction. Courting no admiration from others, even where willing tribute is paid to her beauty and refinement; dressing in Quaker-like simplicity, not only in accordance with her limited means, but her own severe taste; leading a quiet, industrious life, Agnes Thorndyke is irreproachable, and esteemed by all who know her. The serpent coiled down in the shadows of her soul is waiting to rear its head—waiting for an evil hand, an evil breath, to warm it into strength, that its venom may poison this pure life.

That evil hand, that evil breath, are coming, as they are always sure to come—

“When such thoughts do not come of themselves
To the heart of a woman neglected, like elves
That seek lonely places—there rarely is wanting
Some voice at her side, with an evil enchanting
To conjure them to her.”

“Deliver us from evil.” How well our Lord knew the need of that petition for us! How wise the church to require its frequent use! It is the cry of the direst human need, in its last extremity, to its last refuge. How will the evil come to Agnes Thorndyke? and how will she be led into temptation? The gate is opened apparently by her very virtues. While she sits brooding over the thoughts which Whittier’s pretty poem has suggested, her attention is aroused by a loud cry, and noise of clattering hoofs and wheels. Running to the window, she sees a crowd around a gentleman who lies bruised and senseless before her door, while a horse and shattered carriage are fast disappearing down the street. Standing on her porch, elevated above the heads of the little crowd, she perceives that the stranger is not killed, but that he must be cared for instantly. She calls to the men to bear him within her open door, that she may assist to dress his wounds, while a surgeon is summoned. This she does so deftly and so gently that the sufferer thanks her warmly, and the surgeon compliments her on her skill.

The man is not very dangerously hurt, but the doctor advises that he be kept very quiet for a time. At this the stranger looks perplexed, and, casting first a searching glance about the room and over the person of Mrs. Thorndyke, he says:

“If I could be allowed to remain here for any remuneration which this lady would consent to receive, I would pay it willingly, and also consider it a great favor. I am a stranger in the place. I had finished the business for which I came, and I was hurrying to the railway station, when this unlucky accident befell me, and threw me upon your kindness.”

He looks now at Mrs. Thorndyke. She does not speak immediately, but seems to be considering the expediency of yielding to his request. Her quick sympathy shows her at once that it will be best for him not to be disturbed.

“If you cannot consent, Mrs. Thorndyke,” says the doctor, “he had better be removed to the hotel above here.”

“Pray, no!” interposes the patient. “I came from there, and glad enough I was to leave it. It is a noisy, dirty, wretched place. Can’t you think of[260] some better refuge than that?—if I may not stay here.”

There is peevishness in his tones while speaking to the doctor which soften to a gentle pleading as he turns at the last words again to his hostess. It is not lost upon her. She is touched by his evident desire to stay, and equally evident need of quiet and rest.

“If my husband does not object when he returns,” she says, “I will undertake to be your nurse; but I am afraid our plain house and ways will hardly satisfy you when you are stronger.”

“Oh! thanks—a thousand thanks,” he replies; “no danger of any fastidiousness of mine standing in the way of my gratitude and content.”

And so it is arranged; for the pecuniary help which the stranger offers is not unwelcome to John Thorndyke in the growing needs of his family.

This stranger, Martin Vanderlyn, is a handsome man of thirty-five years, with the kind of beauty and manner which takes captive the fancy of many women, yet which is really satanic; hard and cruel gray eyes, but capable of a soft, imploring expression; dark hair; pale, clear skin; and tall, well-knit figure; a voice agreeable in most of its cadences, but with a treacherous note occasionally grating on the ear, though corrected quickly, as if he himself had felt it; inherent strength, but not purity of purpose; persistent patience in executing his own selfish and sensual will; apparent gentleness, and refinement, and culture, made subservient to his own desires; poetry, and flattery, and irreligion, and sophistry always on his lips and in his eyes—such is the patient which it becomes Agnes Thorndyke’s loving task to nurse day after day. In this dangerous companionship, this hungry heart finds solace. “Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil,” should be her constant prayer now. How can she help seeing his admiring eyes follow her, and look into her own? How can she prevent the dangerous familiarity sanctioned by their relative positions of nurse and patient? Well he knows how to increase the ever-ready sympathy for his sufferings. Soon and easily he reads the disappointment in her life, and detects the cause. Is there no scruple of conscience, no emotion of gratitude, to stay him in his bad designs, framed and nursed on his sick-bed during the very time she so tenderly cares for him? Not one. Day by day he weaves the net and casts the toils about her so surely that her whole manner towards her husband has changed to a querulousness and impatience which speedily provoke a response of the same nature; and discord and hatred sit in the place where once reigned duty and peace.

John Thorndyke, although of a heavy, is also of a spiteful and jealous, temperament. He has been, in his dull way, proud of his wife, and selfishly pleased at the comfort she has brought him. It has not occurred to him to try to brighten her life. Indeed, he has not known that her life needed any cheer. He thinks that she is his, and all her duty is to him, and so long as he knows himself faithful to her, and gives her all the pecuniary support he can command as a mechanic, it does not occur to him that he fails in any respect. He has never even questioned himself on that point. No misgivings apparently disturb his sluggish conscience. In this, he differs widely from his wife. She has sharply questioned her conscience, being perhaps dimly aware of the weak spot in the citadel, of the serpent coiled in the shadow.[261] But as she has never before given the slightest cause for his jealousy, she has not been even suspicious of how terrible a sway it can have over him. Even now she does not read the signs aright, being blinded by her own new infatuation.

In the meantime, Martin Vanderlyn is convalescent, and making himself more and more interesting to her. He addresses her always with so much respect and courtesy that it is a continual flattery to her; for this woman has her vanity under all her severe simplicity of garb and mien, and to be recognized as being superior to her position in life is the strongest—or weakest—desire of her heart. To so regard her is to flatter her more surely and insidiously than to praise her beauty or her grace.

Sitting one day over her sewing, she is suddenly surprised by the remark from Vanderlyn, who has been silently studying her: “Mrs. Thorndyke, you are not happy.”

She looks up with a sort of frightened expression, as if detected in some crime. After a moment of deprecating, silent supplication in her eyes, she responds with the commonplace question, quite at variance with her look and manner:

“Why do you think so?”

“Because,” he says, “I am a physiognomist, and I have been studying your face until I can read it as I would a book; and a more eloquent book could not be found.”

The last words are spoken in a softened voice which makes her blush and keep her eyes steadily averted. She has not been used to compliments before his advent, and cannot toss them off or return them lightly. She feels guilty now at liking this so well. Looking steadily at her meanwhile, and pleased at her embarrassment, he says, “I have read in this book that your life is not a happy one, and I am not surprised at reading it. Perhaps my own past experience has made me quicker at translating the language of your book; for, Mrs. Thorndyke, I have not been happy myself, and I think your discontent springs from a similar source.”

Again that deprecating look, as if battling with her conscience, which whispers to her that the cause of her trouble should not be avowed or even tacitly admitted. Complaint against her husband should not be made to Martin Vanderlyn, above all. There is already too dangerous a sympathy between them. A subtle intuition tells her that she is being led into temptation, and that she ought to end this now and for ever. Yet she does not do so. The serpent in the shadow has even now warmed and stirred. Curiosity, also, concerning Mr. Vanderlyn’s former history leads her to encourage him to proceed; so she says, “I am sorry to hear that your life has not been, a happy one. I had thought of your leaving us to go to brighter scenes and kinder friends.”

She has pondered over the absence of any communication with friends or relatives during his illness, and so this last remark is not quite truthful. She has often wondered if he has ever had wife or lady-love. He answers all this by his reply to her last words:

“I am glad that I cannot return to the unhappy time I speak of. That is closed for ever. It was when I had a wife, Mrs. Thorndyke; I have none now.”

“She is dead, then,” says Agnes, looking up, and speaking in a low voice which she instinctively feels should not seem sympathetic with a grief he evidently disavows, for it is rather a relief which he confesses.

“I know not,” he says, with a[262] careless tone; “she may be, for aught I know or care. She is dead to me, and I know I feel quite dead to her. We are divorced, and I am a free man again. To that unhappy time of my life I cannot return. The chains are broken. It was a woeful time. I can imagine no surer blight on a human being’s happiness than an unsuitable marriage. I know how it poisons a life, because mine, for a time, was so poisoned. I think if there is any hell, my marriage was arranged there by the prince himself, who is particularly interested in the marriage question. I think divorces are made in heaven, not matches, for my relief on getting my divorce was heavenly. The sacrament of divorce for me! The feeling it gave me was that which old John Bunyan ascribes to Christian when the pack of sins fell off his back.”

He speaks with an audacity which frightens her Puritan prejudices, while it lures her feminine admiration for his courage in daring to speak out and assert himself. There is some romance here also, and a subtle flattery in being made his confidante. For to her more delicate sense, this, which he would brazenly declare to any one who might listen, seems a sacred confidence. Her face looks her sympathy. The answering chord is struck, and he sees it. The serpent has stirred to the evil breath.

“Do you not think, Mrs. Thorndyke, that we have the inborn right to seek our own happiness? Has not nature implanted that feeling within us? Are not our lives a continual protest against being made miserable or uncomfortable for the sake of sustaining a law of church or state? The law of love is above these, and it can glorify a life, or the absence of it can debase one.”

“And joy was duty, and love was law,” echoes in Mrs. Thorndyke’s memory; and here is the “manly form by her side.”

He continues without pause: “If it is our right to pursue happiness, it is equally our right to seek our love freely, casting off fetters which love disdains; they chafe his delicate wings—love cannot live bound.”

“But he must be, to some extent,” she almost gasps, frightened at this new and dangerous doctrine. “Society, respectability, require that there should be a marriage bond by which the law can hold either party to the contract. Else what would become of us? So many would escape who have no right to do so.”

“I doubt that they have no right to escape. The very desire for escape constitutes the right. If the law of love is there, no escape will be desired.”

“Yes; but, Mr. Vanderlyn, in many instances, the possibility of escape causes a desire for it; and where there is no way of escape, the inevitable is accepted. ‘What can’t be cured must be endured,’ you know.” And there is a mournful cadence in her voice, a drooping of her head and eyes.

“That is just the cruel part of it,” he says—“that freezing endurance sitting like a vampire on our hearts.”

She puts her hand up suddenly to her heart, and clutches at her dress nervously, as if to hide the vampire hidden there. Is it not rather a tightening of the serpent’s coil? The next moment she is composed, and ashamed of the momentary effect his words have caused in her outward manner. He has seen the motion, however, but gives no evidence of it. As if absorbed only in his own remembrances, not desiring to stir up hers, he continues:

“I speak as one who knows and[263] has felt, not as one who deals with the cold abstractions of theologians and political economists. We who know through bitter tasting of the cup are the true philosophers. Our eyes have been opened, and we see the light. We no longer grope in the darkness of the middle ages. We cast off the chains forged for us ages ago. We will be free in our love, and in our beliefs or disbeliefs, for creeds are chains. Do not let me shock you, my gentle Puritan. I beg your pardon. Do not look at me so reprovingly, I cannot bear it. Remember I am a sick man still, and you are my good, sweet nurse. You must not grieve me with your displeasure. It is bad for me, you know. Your frown makes me unhappy—come, smile on me.”

Ah! such idle, easy, words for him to speak—such dangerous ones for her to hear! None such ever fall on her ear from John Thorndyke’s lips, and, if they should, they would not please her so from him. She knows this only too well, and that this man ought not to have the power to please her so easily. But she allows herself this pleasure, arguing that her life is bare enough.

“Do you forgive me enough to care to hear my story?” he says, after a pause.

“Oh! yes,” she answers; “I am interested in that which has so colored your feelings on this subject, and has given you such strange views of law and religion.” She tries to speak it lightly, but he detects the interest in himself. It is what he wishes.

“It is not much of a story,” he says. “I was married very young—attracted and deceived by a pretty, saintly face, such as one sees in pictures, and which always pleases youth. I found my saint to be a stubborn bigot, who put her confessor above me, and set me and my happiness entirely at naught in computing her debit and credit with her church. Such selfish looking after one’s own interest in the next life is to me disgusting. Every generous impulse must be stifled for that end. The certain present is offered up a victim to the uncertain future. I and my happiness had to be forgotten in prayers, penances, fastings and foolishness. Bah! it sickens me to remember it. Enough that, after bearing every discomfort, I sought a divorce, and took it.”

He says the last in a strange tone, which long afterwards she recalls.

“Had you no children?” she asks.

“Yes, one; but it died, happily for it. I should not have liked to see a daughter of mine trained in that church, as of course she was doomed to be had she lived. That alone would have goaded me to madness—to see the fastings and prayings duplicated. Two at it, against one.”

Here the conversations ends, and Agnes Thorndyke takes “up her burden of life again,” with an added protest against it. How she wishes that she could cut the cords, and let it fall like Christian’s pack! Poor John Bunyan! “to what base uses has he come at last!” Christian’s pack of sins made to represent the sacrament of marriage! But if “the devil can quote Scripture for his purpose,” he will not scruple to use John Bunyan’s quaint fancies.

About this time, Mrs. Thorndyke begins to have her attention drawn to certain vile papers and periodicals of the day, introduced cautiously at first, and with some discrimination, as if the better (or rather, less bad) ones have been selected. She finds them lying about Mr. Vanderlyn’s room, and she reads them without comment, but the seeds take root.[264] Afterwards Mr. Vanderlyn calls her attention to certain cleverly written but mischievous articles; flattering her intellect by appealing to her supposed ability to decide on these abstruse questions. When he finds that she reads with avidity all he procures, faster and thicker the vile flood, which disgraces the press and the name of literature, pours in upon her. Here she is almost defenceless. With no thorough education, no religious influence to penetrate into her life, and guard her against this assault, she is left to stem this torrent of sophistry, to answer these devil’s thoughts penned too often by the hand of her own sex. It is a sad but significant fact that, in this sort of vile writing, women, when they do stifle their better natures and take up unclean pens, excel the other sex. Some of the most dangerous books of the day are written by females, under the guise of pretended morality, which deceives silly girls and weak women who read them and are unable to detect the poison under the honey. Alas! that women should thus prostitute their intellects in the service of the devil!

When a woman of Agnes Thorndyke’s stamp can be found reading long editorials in a paper devoted to the destroying of the marriage relation, and to the advance of “free-love” principles, alas! for the happiness, the very legitimacy, of her children! But what cares Martin Vanderlyn for any such considerations? To corrupt this woman’s nature and to win her is his present and sole object, and so he calls to his aid all those of her own sex as well as of his, who dip their pens in envenomed ink for mercenary ends.

But John Thorndyke has become jealous, and, being so, he is not a more agreeable husband. He soon signifies his desire that Mr. Vanderlyn shall find for himself some other lodgings. In doing this, he expresses himself so coarsely, and hints so broadly at the cause of his displeasure, that it increases the very danger he seeks to avoid, by forcing an understanding and recognition of the situation between his wife and her patient. This is just what Mr. Vanderlyn desires. He wishes Agnes Thorndyke to know him to be her lover, long before he will dare to avow it to her. Well he knows that he must prepare her for that, lead her step by step up to that avowal; and he knows that she may recoil at any moment, and turn out from the slippery path through which he is leading her. Too many good instincts and habits of early training are warring with the bad teachings he is so assiduously implanting, to make his task a perfectly easy one. Now that John Thorndyke has shown his jealousy so plainly, these two cannot look into each other’s eyes without knowing there is some cause for it. They cannot ignore it, and, while Mr. Vanderlyn is preparing to leave, he improves the opportunity to remark how unhappy he is at the sad necessity. He tells her how pleasant it would be if he could continue to pass all his days with her; and at last, finding himself unreproved, he asks if that is not possible?

At this she does recoil, with a wild and frightened look like that of a hunted deer. But he knows that it is the first shock which either kills or leaves the victim able to bear another. Her mind has taken in the full force of the proposal, and yet she does not send him at once from her presence. She only says, “How can it be possible?” admitting by the very question that she might like it to be possible.

“Leave him, Agnes,” he says, “and come to me—to me, your adorer—I[265] can appreciate the jewel of which he knows not the value!”

“But I am his wife, and I cannot be that to you; so, if not that, nothing, Martin.”

“Yes; you can be a wife to me, Agnes, if you must be tied by the law. The law will soon free you as it has freed many another. Cast off your chains as I cast off mine, and come to me!”

He holds out his arms as he speaks, and she goes to them. The serpent has coiled almost his last coil!

In no relation except that of wife can this woman be persuaded to live with Vanderlyn; but the law may be perverted, her marriage contract basely set aside and broken. “For better, for worse” she has taken John Thorndyke, and she has plighted him her troth; but she will not have the worse, and her troth she will not keep. Yet the law must make her seem a wife, even in this degradation. So it is agreed that steps shall be taken to obtain a divorce, Vanderlyn’s money being at her service. It is so agreed, but not without many struggles on her part. If she is not a loving wife, she is a tender mother. This new infatuation cannot crush the true maternal instinct in her heart. It requires the wildest assurances on Vanderlyn’s part that the law will give her the control of her children, and that he will care for them and educate them as if they were his own, to keep her from receding.

Vanderlyn is no longer an inmate of her house, but he hovers around her neighborhood, seeing her during her husband’s absence, upon which she can always count for a certain number of hours every day. He writes to her letters which seem to her gems of poetry and eloquence, but which are really only fulsome flatteries, and sophistries of a godless school which he studies and copies. He knows that it is necessary to keep her mind always clouded by these false arguments, and her vanity fed by these protestations, because she is not by nature prone to the falsity to which he is luring her. This woman with a better husband, or even with a worse husband, and better religious teaching, could not have been so tempted. She is no syren, no coquette; it really needs much careful tact, and study, and address on Vanderlyn’s part to make her take the first steps in this path.

The children seem to be her guardian angels now. In their innocent helplessness there is great strength. Vanderlyn often wishes them in their graves, for it seems to him, chafing in his vexation, as he repeats,

“Baby fingers, waxen touches, press me from the mother’s breast,”

that these are rivals indeed, which may yet laugh him down and bring her rest, unless he is unremitting in his efforts to prevent it.

As if in answer to his bad desires, scarlet-fever prostrates them all at once, but drives him, for the time, from the thoughts of their mother. Wan and pale with watching, anxiety, and dread, Agnes weeps and prays over her little flock—prays as she has not prayed for a long while. Yet two are taken. The youngest darlings are buried in one grave, leaving a boy of seven years to fill the empty places.

For a time, Vanderlyn almost thinks his game is lost to him, and that Death has checkmated him; for the dead children, whose lives have seemed in his way, are even yet his most powerful opponents. So truly does Agnes mourn now, so bitterly reproach herself, that, if her husband will meet her with any tender sympathy[266] in this their common sorrow, some love for him may yet spring up, watered by her tears for children which were his as well as hers.

“Oh! the child, too, clothes the father with a dearness not his due.”

But John Thorndyke is not the man to be tender and delicate to any one whose grief takes such a form as hers. Her brooding melancholy he calls “moping.” Her silence and shrinking from every one, he speaks of as “airs” put on to disturb him. He thinks the loss is his as well as hers, and he is not inclined to “mope and take on so.” He goes to his work every day as usual, and, although he does miss his little prattlers, to whom he has always been indulgent, the world does not seem all dark to him. He is utterly incapable of understanding how differently this blow affects her, and it chafes him that she does not bear it as he does. He cannot see that the very need of going to his daily toil, of mixing with other men whose minds are not on his loss, and the leaving of his sad home every day, helps to dissipate much morbid feeling which might cling to him were he obliged to stay at home, as his wife is compelled to do. He never thinks of the greater difference which it has made to her in every little change which the absence of the children demands. The very lightening of her care and toil for them leaves greater time and room to grieve. Her bereaved heart cries for love and sympathy in this her sorest need, and her husband does not heed the cry; does not soften to her just at the time he can save her.

Vanderlyn does not slight the chance of increasing his influence. He has been jealous of these children living, he has feared their memories may even now crowd him from the mother’s heart, but he sees the need of some one to appear at least to share her grief. She does not scruple to tell him how cold and unfeeling her husband is at this time; and thus she furnishes him with one more weapon in the contest he is waging against her better nature. He plays now the part of tender, devoted friend, rather than that of lover. He sees that just now no lover’s image can obtrude before the angel faces always present to her thoughts; he has the tact and patience to wait and turn the present digression ultimately to his favor. It may be that, after all, if these children had lived, she never could turn entirely from her duty. But this delicate attention to her now in her grief, contrasting so unhappily with Thorndyke’s unfeeling, stupid impatience with her, is the most dangerous temptation of all, because it wins her confidence in his being a real friend as well as lover.

When the first acute feelings have worn off after the children’s death, and her life has gradually become more cheerful, she turns from her husband with a bitterness and contempt which produce in him a still worse frame of mind. Now he taunts her for her assumed superiority to him, and scoffingly pictures how happy she might have been with some rich man—Vanderlyn, for instance. And so matters go on from bad to worse, until he consents to her applying for a divorce, seeming as willing as she to part for ever.

Of what use lingering over the details? The divorce is granted, as such things are, in open defiance of Heaven’s decree and the apparent law of the land. When a New York daily paper has frequently a list of divorces longer than its list of marriages, can we wonder over the fact? In this case, it has been necessary to change their residence for a time, because[267] the laws of one state are more favorable to this object than another. But Christ’s law is the same everywhere. Can a couple be considered married to each other in one part of our country, and divorced in another? Are the children of a second union legitimate in one state, and illegitimate in another? It would really seem so.

But Agnes Thorndyke, or rather, Agnes Rodney, as she is now called—taking back her maiden name, without her maiden heart—is deprived of one comfort on which she had surely counted. Her one child is left to its father. Thorndyke has schemed for this with deliberate malice. It is not that he loves the boy overmuch, but it is his revenge upon her. He would rather burden himself with the care of this little child than forego the pleasure it gives him to punish her. And so, while the father of her child lives, she lays her head on another man’s breast, and calls him husband. Vanderlyn is spared either the keeping or the breaking of his promise to care for her children—two in the graves where he wished them, and one in a strange woman’s care. He has all he wished for—John Thorndyke’s pretty wife at last.

Thorndyke takes to his forsaken home a housekeeper at first, as if he were a widower. This woman is a widow who makes him so comfortable that he speedily marries her, without considering law or Gospel as they may bear on his case. No compunctions trouble her easy conscience, and she accepts the lot offered to her as the best thing in a business point of view likely to fall to her. Being disinclined for reading poetry, having no refined yearnings, having little intellect to cultivate, she never reads Maud Muller, nor thinks of herself as out of her place in any sense. Being good-natured and not oversensitive, she gets along with John Thorndyke remarkably well, and no thought of Agnes ever makes a ripple of disturbance between them. She might be forgotten, except for the boy, with her eyes and features, left in her old home. He calls the woman in her place “mother,” and does get quite motherly treatment. He loves the brothers and sisters who in time spring up around him, and seems as happy in his boyish plays as if his own mother were guarding and guiding him. Who can say how much his future life might be changed if that mother had been left to him? To be sure, her death might have brought as great a change to him, and we will now only follow her fate.

Is she happy in her new relations? Is joy her duty, and love her law, now? Can that ever be, after broken vows and outraged honor? “It is not in the bond.” For a time she thinks herself happier in all her more refined associations; with leisure, books, servants, all at her command, and with Martin Vanderlyn devoted to her. He does not introduce her into society, but lives remote from all his acquaintances and former friends. This never troubles her. Two people like these, who have closed or tried to tear out a chapter in their life-history, naturally shrink from having it recalled. They prefer to think themselves sufficient for each other, looking always to the future—never to the past, if they can avoid it.

But before a year is passed, Agnes begins to see that Vanderlyn is not so entirely devoted to her as she would wish and he has at first seemed. It is the first shadow of a misgiving, not really harbored, but resting upon her heart in spite of[268] herself. She does not wish to see any difference in him, and she tries to think it is business which keeps him so often away from her. He says it is, and why not think so? why not believe him? Alas! small clouds of doubt already dot the sky of her belief in him. Whence they have arisen she can scarcely tell; but there they are, and threatening to increase. However, she has risked too much for him, braved too much, to foster anything now which may wreck her life-venture. If this man fail her, where can she turn? But after a while a little child is born—a boy to help divert her thoughts from that other boy bearing another father’s name. The mother does blush when she thinks of these boys, each hers, having each a different father living now. She had named her first-born after her own father, and some idea of trying to fill his place leads her to call this one by the same name—George Rodney. Vanderlyn, however, playfully calls him Martin after himself, and, as the child grows, he learns to answer to that, and calls himself “Martie” quite as often as by the name which his mother has given him, and which she will never relinquish.

So truly does the pure instinct of motherhood show her the falsity of her present position that she often feels that two fathers should not be living at the same time for the two boys for whom she is mother. Of that other boy she often thinks still with yearning love, and of his sisters in their little grave; more now than at first, when Vanderlyn was with her so much, for his absences grow longer and more frequent. He takes no father’s pride in this child of his, but rather seems bored by the care and trouble it has brought. A baby is a tyrant in a household, especially if it is loved as Agnes loves this one, giving it almost all her time and care. Now, indeed, Vanderlyn might say, if he remembers the poet he quoted before in his jealousy of her love for her children:

“Nay, but nature brings thee solace; for a tender voice will cry:
‘Tis a purer life than thine—a lip to drain thy trouble dry:
... My latest rival brings thee rest.”

But it does not bring her rest. She often now remembers that Thorndyke was a fonder and better father than his successor; that his children seemed at their birth and during their lives to form a tie between his wife and himself; that he always faithfully brought his hard-earned money to her, to spend or save for them as well as for himself. She gives him this credit now, because Vanderlyn, with his more abundant means, shows in many ways a carelessness of her comfort and pecuniary wants. True, she has not really suffered, but small misgivings have oppressed her that she may yet come to that. She has found that Vanderlyn is not the substantial business man she was at first led to believe. She had thought him a lawyer, and so he is by education; but, in reality, he is an adventurer and a speculator, and, although often commanding money easily, he has no real fortune, and has only a very fluctuating income. This it is that worries him and takes him often away from home long at a time. He has not the honesty to deny himself any accustomed luxury for the sake of those dependent upon him. It chafes him to be obliged to meet his household expenses, and not always have the means to do so conveniently. He knows that Agnes will not insist upon unnecessary expenditure, but he has not the courage to tell her frankly of his affairs. There is a respect for her in his heart in spite of all, and he knows that there is an uprightness[269] about her which would lead her to insist on plainer living and fewer servants. She is not weakly self-indulgent as he is. He is so unprincipled at heart that no tie, no obligation, can bind him when it once becomes irksome. He is a greater moral coward than the woman he has perverted. And so at last, when her boy is about five years old, Agnes finds herself deserted. Martin Vanderlyn has gone to California, and left her with her household effects, and about one hundred dollars in money—that is all.

She looks her fate steadily in the face. Young enough and strong enough yet for work, but with a helpless child upon her hands, what shall she do? She sells promptly her furniture, books, pictures, and jewelry. For the last she has never cared, but Vanderlyn had lavished it upon her during the days she was seeking a divorce. Very rarely has she worn it. With the sum thus raised, she can, for a time, pay her board until she can find employment, and she seeks the most retired house she can find for a refuge.

In bitterness of spirit beyond anything she has ever endured while the honest wife of John Thorndyke, Agnes now feels in almost overwhelming force the folly of the course she has pursued—almost overwhelming, but not quite, for she still believes herself to be Martin Vanderlyn’s lawful wife. Bad as he has proved himself, she as yet has no doubt that he is her lawful husband, and so, in her present abode, she calls herself Mrs. Vanderlyn, with no thought but that she is so honestly, if not wisely.

She has been in her new home rather less than a week, when, passing along the corridor, she meets, coming from a room near her own, two Sisters of Mercy, who have apparently just taken leave of an invalid lady; at least, so she judges from the voice which comes through the open door, saying:

“Good-by, and come again soon, Sisters,” followed by a cough that to her experienced ear sounds like consumption. She has heard that cough in the night when she has been wakeful, and she hears it again many times this day. She thinks of the invalid often, with her old instinct of sympathy for the sick—a sympathy which of late years has not been much called forth in her retirement. The next day, coming in from her quest for employment, she meets on the porch a gentleman who, she feels almost sure, is a Catholic priest. He enters the house at the same time with herself, and, proceeding before her up the stairs, passes directly and quietly to the room occupied by her sick neighbor. “She is a Catholic, then,” says Agnes to herself; “but that does not matter. I wonder if I could do her any good?” And she acknowledges to herself a very strong desire to see her neighbor, and offer any service in her power. But she does not act at once. Her peculiar position makes her shrink from meeting strangers or forming acquaintances. Still, the cough strikes upon her ear appealingly, all the more that there comes no sound of any voices from the room, save when the priest or the Sisters of Mercy are there. She knows her neighbor must be alone, and, she suspects, lonely also, for many hours. She resolves to go to see her, and take little George, thinking, in the fondness of her mother’s heart, that his pretty ways may divert the sick woman.

But who is she, and what is her name? Agnes asks this of her landlady the first time she finds that everbusy and worried woman alone.


“The sick lady in the front room? Why, she is your namesake, perhaps a relation.” And the landlady eyes keenly her questioner, thinking her curiosity about both of her boarders will now be gratified, as she slowly adds: “She is a Mrs. Vanderlyn, as well as yourself.”

Agnes feels herself trembling and almost choking at the swift rush of conviction coming over her as to who this Mrs. Vanderlyn is: The priest and the Sisters of Mercy! Martin Vanderlyn’s wife was a Catholic! She can hardly command her voice to ask:

“Is she a widow?”

“I guess so, but she hasn’t said so,” replied the landlady. “She has no friends, except them horrid spooks of nuns and that there sneakin’ priest; I do declare I’m ashamed to see ‘em a-comin’ in and out o’ my door—but you be’ent a Catholic, be you?” she says, in sudden alarm, lest her burst of confidence has been misplaced. Agnes reassures her by saying:

“Oh! no; I am not a Catholic, nor is any of my family; so I think this lady can be no relative, as my husband was never a Catholic.”

What makes her voice change as she shapes her reply in this evasive way? It is not altogether the keen, inquiring eyes of the landlady trying to find if she is wife or widow. She can scarcely tell herself; but the sharpened sense of expectation of some coming revelation, or else the nearness of Martin Vanderlyn’s wife, makes her feel for the first time a sense of guilt in speaking of him as her husband. Not that she says even to herself as yet that he is not her husband; but the two wives—if this is his wife—in such close proximity, impresses her much as the fact of the two living fathers of her two boys has done. It cannot seem to her quite right for herself to be Martin Vanderlyn’s wife, while the woman in the next room is such a reality. As long as the divorced wife had seemed to belong to the past—perhaps dead—it had not impressed Agnes so keenly as to be living under the same roof with her; for Agnes feels almost sure that it is so. Still, her desire to see her neighbor is by no means lessened; and it is not idle curiosity, but a nobler feeling, which leads her to ask the landlady to introduce her. That person has, in the meantime, remarked:

“The lady is a real lady, and, if she is a Catholic, I can’t say aught agin her. I do hate to see them beads, and crosses, and figgers, and picturs of folks with Saturn’s rings on their heads, which she keeps in her room; but, if she gits any comfort from ‘em, poor soul, why, I can’t begrudge her that. Only I wish she had more light and some real religion, now that she’s so near dyin’. I do hate to see her sunk in darkness, without no light o’ the Gospel. But ‘tain’t no use talkin’ to her, she never gits offended; but, when I wanted to send a good Methodist minister to pray with her, she said her spiritooal needs was already cared for by. Father what’s-his-name, and she jist give me back that lovely tract about Going to Hell, as if she warn’t scared a bit. ‘Tain’t no use, Mrs. Vanderlyn, to talk to her. They’re all of ‘em so set and superstitious they can’t experience religion or have any realizin’ sense o’ their sins.”

Says Agnes: “I don’t want to minister to her soul. That is not my mission. I only thought she was lonely, and I might do her some good in being a little company for her some of the time, if nothing more.”

“And so you might, and it’s right good of you to think of it. It’ll take[271] some off my mind to know you’ll see her sometimes, as I can’t find time to go in and sit with her as often as I think she may expect of me.”

And the landlady, followed by Agnes, taps at the door of Mrs. Vanderlyn’s room. In a minute more, Agnes finds herself face to face with the invalid, who is sitting in a large easy-chair by the window. After some words from the landlady, explaining Agnes’ kind intention and sympathy, that garrulous person withdraws to her pressing household cares.




Go; vainly in thy breast lies hid the steel
That pierces. I perceive thy sad estate,
Thy silent fortitude; and for thy weal

I pray thee meet thy fate.

And weep before me! Cast thy burden down,
I know that sorrow finds a drear relief
In solitude, and wears abroad the crown

Of a majestic grief.

The hand of friendship may not put aside
The heavy folds of the funereal veil,
And on the threshold of an arid pride,

Words seem to faint, and fail.

But days have passed, I come—nay—never start,
Suffer my presence, place thy hand in mine,
Pour thy full soul into my faithful heart

Whose pulses all are thine.

If friendship only bore me to thy side,
I would withdraw before thine icy face,
Obey the teachings of my human pride,

My eager steps retrace.

But I, too, have known sorrow, and have earned
The right to minister before its shrine.
A mighty secret, too, my heart has learned,

Whose sources are divine—

A secret that shall set thy soul aglow
When once its holy meaning I unfold,
And make thee bless its author for the woe

That thus could be consoled.




The ruins that lie by the banks of the Tigris and the Euphrates give us a better notion of the power of the kings of Babylon and Assyria, of the civilization, religion, and moral condition of the ancient peoples of these countries, than the writings of historians. The obelisks and pyramids, the ruined temples and the columns covered with hieroglyphic characters, tell us more of Egypt than Herodotus and Manetho. In like manner do the tombs and inscriptions in the catacombs bear witness to the faith and morality, the usages and manner of living, of the early Christians.

The study of these catacombs has therefore a double aim: one dogmatic, the other historical. Considered from the latter standpoint alone, the discoveries recently made in the catacombs destroy the theories and appreciations of many historians. It is literally true, as a distinguished non-Catholic has said, that, “since Rossi published his works, the history of the age of the Christian martyrs has to be rewritten.” The distinguished Alfred de Reumont, on page 806 of the first volume of his History of the City of Rome, says: “No one knows better than the author how much this work is indebted to the researches of De Rossi.”

The pontificate of Pius IX., among its other glories, can claim that of having especially aided De Rossi in his archæological studies; and on this account alone it would deserve the gratitude of all the friends of science. Pius IX. has deserved the name of the “second Damasus,” not only because he founded “The Archæological Commission for the Investigation of the Ancient Christian Monuments of Rome,” and aided it with pecuniary subsidies, but more particularly because he took a lively personal interest in all its undertakings.

The zeal of Pius IX. found in John Baptist de Rossi, a born Roman, a most suitable person for the advancement of archæological lore. And, in fact, Rossi alone, as all acknowledge, made more progress than all his predecessors. Although he has been more than a quarter of a century at work, he is still a hale man; and if Piedmontese brutality or revolutionary barbarism does not prevent him, he may yet make more splendid progress in his learned studies. Rossi has wonderful powers of observation, united with great calmness and perseverance in investigation, ardent love of science, and vast erudition. He is well versed in all the branches of his favorite science—in archæology, bibliography, history, æsthetics, topography, and architecture. With keen discernment, which his complicated investigations never lead astray, he knows how to choose and value his materials. We know not which to admire more—the persevering industry, or the great and unflinching mental and physical strength, which he displays in assorting the various materials which come before him. His judgment in forming hypotheses, in drawing conclusions and consequences,[273] is always prudent. He prefers to prove too little rather than too much. On this account, as well as because of his critical acumen, he has obtained such a reputation among archæologists that Martigny, in his Dictionary of Christian Antiquities, says: “We can rely implicitly on every word that Rossi writes.” Rossi never builds a card-house; he makes no vague, superficial reasonings. All is deeply thought; monuments and documents are always brought in to corroborate his assertions; and we know that nothing is more solid and convincing than the hard marble.

It is true Rossi has not published the half of his immense collections; but from what has been published we can perceive that nothing so important has appeared in the archæological world since the time of Bosio, perhaps never anything so vast from one archæologist.

The first great archæological work of Rossi appeared when he was yet a young man. It was printed in the third volume of the Spicilegium Solesmense, published by the celebrated Benedictine Dom Pitra, now cardinal of the church. Rossi always quotes it with pleasure as his first work. The title is A Letter on the Christian Monuments bearing the Inscription ΙΧΘΥΣ. Paris, 1855.

The figurative and poetical style of the Sacred Scriptures, as well as the discipline of the secret, introduced into the “Church of the Catacombs” those numerous symbols, so full of meaning, which, disguised in the simplest pictures or the simplest words, expressed so much to the initiated. The lamb, the anchor, ship, the stag, peacock, the cock, the dove, etc., were symbols of sublime Christian ideas. But the most important of all the Christian symbols was the fish. It is mentioned as a Christian hieroglyphic all through the works of the Fathers, and appears on all the old monuments. On these latter, sometimes the Greek word ΙΧΘΥΣ sometimes the painted, and some times the engraved, image of the fish, is found. During the period of the discipline of the secret, especially during the first three centuries of the church, the most holy mysteries of Christianity were concealed from the uninitiated under the symbol of the fish.

The fish is the symbol of Jesus Christ. The Fathers before the IVth century insinuate this in obscure and ambiguous terms, while those of the IVth and Vth centuries proclaim it plainly. Thus writes towards the end of the IVth century Bishop Optatus Milevitanus:[110] “The fish, according to its Greek orthography, Ιχθυς expresses by its letters a number of holy names, which in Latin are Jesus Christus Dei Filius Salvator”—Jesus Christ, Son of God, Saviour—Ιησοῦς Χριστός Θεοῦ Υἱὸς Σοτήρ. S. Augustine[111] expressly says that, if you take the first letters, of these five Greek words, and unite them together, you have ἰχθυς, i.e. fish, which name is a symbol of Christ.

Some ecclesiastical writers strive to connect the fish-symbol of Christ with the Sibylline prophecies; other Fathers endeavor to find in it certain analogies between the nature and acts of the fish and the human nature and works of Christ. The different passages of ancient writers on these points are brought together in De Rossi’s treatise. Rossi himself has beautifully explained the origin of this symbol.

The fish is the symbol of Christ according to his human nature. In the figurative language of the church, the present life is likened to a sea.[274] Ubique mare sæculum legimus,[112] says Optatus Milevitanus. Ambrose calls men the fish who swim through this life. When the divine Word became man, he became a fish as we. Hence Gregory the Great wrote: “Christ condescended to hide himself in the waters of human nature, in order to be captured by the angel of death.”

More frequently the fish is used as the symbol of the divine nature of Christ. The large fish caught by Tobias that he might have food for his journey, use the liver and gall to free Sara from devils, and restore sight to his father, was considered by the Fathers as a striking symbol of the divine Redeemer, who by the light of his doctrine cures the blindness of ignorance, redeems the world from the power of demons, and feeds us with his body on the pilgrim route from earth to heaven. Therefore is Christ symbolized as Teacher of truth in his church; as Redeemer from the power of Satan by baptism; and as Food of souls in the Eucharist.

Out of the many beautiful and expressive symbolical representations of the intimate connection between Christ and his church, we shall select only the two figures numbered 104 and 105 in De Rossi’s tract. In the midst of a surging sea a fish is swimming, carrying on its back a ship, the symbol of the church. It is the divine Ιχθυσ, who, according to his promise made to his church, carries her safely through the storms of the world. The ship is managed by rowers, the hierarchy of the church. The only pilot and leader of the ship is the Holy Ghost, represented by a dove sitting on the top of the mast. In order that no one may mistake the vessel, the scene of Christ giving the keys to Peter is painted in the foreground exactly as our modern painters represent it. In order to make this point clear, namely, that the Holy Ghost is guiding the bark of Peter, the words ΙΗΣ (Ιησοῦς) and ΠΕΤ (Πέτρος) are written over the picture.

Man is born the child of divine wrath: Christ frees him from Satan’s power by baptism; makes him a child of God, a new man, a neophyte.[113] Now, as Christ the Fish scatters these his blessings in the baptismal font, it was called by the names of baptisterium, illuminatorium, and, more frequently during the time of the discipline of the secret, piscina, or fishpond. Therefore Bishop Oriontius of Auch wrote in the Vth century: “The fish, born in the water, is the author of baptism.” Therefore were the oldest baptisteries commonly ornamented with the picture of a fish (Rossi, p. 3).

In many of the monuments collected by Rossi, near the word ΙΧΘΥΣ we have also the word ΝΙΚΑ. The fish conquers. The neophyte is freed from ruin and the power of Satan—he is a trophy of Christ’s victory.

Since the word fish, as well as the picture of it, was perfectly identified with Christ the Redeemer, it was natural to use this symbol to conceal that mystery which the pagans so fearfully misrepresented when they said that the Christians met together at stated times, slaughtered a child, drank its blood, and ate its flesh.[114]

The fish became the symbol of the Holy Eucharist. This could be done with the greater propriety, since Rossi tells us that, at the banquets of the wealthy pagans, fish was considered a delicacy, and it is seldom found on pagan monuments. Hence, to eat the fish, and to receive Holy[275] Communion, became synonymous expressions. Prosper of Aquitaine calls Christ the great Fish, who gives himself as food to his disciples and the faithful.

We cannot enter into details, and shall only consider the monumental inscription found at Autun in 1839, which has attracted so much attention from the archæologists. The text begins with the words: Ιχθυσ οὐρανίου θεῖον γένος ἤτορι σεμνῷ χρῆσαι: “O divine race of the heavenly Ikthus, guard, after you have received it, the immortal fountain of grace flowing from divine sources. Bathe thy soul, my friend, in the ever-flowing waters of wealth-giving wisdom. Receive the sweet food of the Saviour of the saints; eat and drink the Ikthus which thou holdest in thy hands.[115] O Ikthus, I have prepared my hands, I long for thee, my Lord and my Redeemer! That I may behold thee in happiness, O my mother; I beseech this favor of thee, O light of the dead. Aschaudius, my father, thou dearest to my heart, with my sweet mother and my sisters, in the peace of the Ikthus remember thy son Pektorius.”

The first verse of this beautiful inscription which many of the learned in the time of Marcus Aurelius and at the end of the IIId century use, alludes to the grace of baptism; the following sentences refer to the sacramental use of the Ikthus. In the concluding phrase, the founder of the monument, Pectorius, addresses himself to his parents and relatives, with the petition that they would remember him in heaven, where they enjoyed the peace of the Ikthus.

From this important monument, as well as from many others collected by Rossi, it is proven that the Holy Eucharist was thought to be a sacrament by the early Christians. In others, it is equally clear that they considered it a sacrifice also.

In one of the oldest cemeteries, that of Domitilla, as well as in that of Callistus, we see a thrice sweet sacrificial table, on which three loaves and one fish are lying. On each side of the table are seven baskets with loaves. The meaning of the picture is plain. The connection of the Ikthus with the bread is clearly shown. “The table represents the Christian altar. This was usually a portable slab of marble with brazen rings, placed over a martyr’s grave, and supported by little columns. But what else could the Christian artist wish to symbolize by placing the fish beside the bread than the offering of the divine Ikthus on the altar? We have, therefore, on the one hand, the invisible presence of the divinity in the fish; on the other, the visible form of the bread, and then the position of the mysterious representation. The sacrifice is the table of the Lord, the Eucharistic banquet. To make this clearer, the seven baskets filled with loaves surround the sacrificial table. They represent the seven baskets which were filled with the remnants left after the multiplication of the loaves in the wilderness—a miracle which has always been considered a type of Holy Communion.”[116]

Dom Pitra, in his Spicilegium, has added to Rossi’s documents many found in Gaul. Ferdinand Becker, in the Historisch-Politische Blätter, vol. lxiii., p. 736 et seq., has written, since Rossi’s time, a remarkable article on the “Symbol of Jesus Christ under the Figure of a Fish.” Professor Jacob Becker has published something on the same subject. Rossi naturally did not treat of the German discoveries in this line of archæology.


It is singular that the symbol of the fish continued to be used in Germany up to the middle age. In the Hortus Deliciarum of the Abbess Herrad, written in the XIIth century, and still preserved in the Strasbourg Library, there is a representation of the sacrament of the altar, by means of a small basket with a loaf and a fish. In a picture in the cathedral library at Einsiedeln, there is the symbol of a fish whose blood is represented as opening the gates of limbo.

Northern Africa, once so celebrated in the annals of the church, did not escape the research of Rossi. Léon Rénier has collected, in a work entitled Roman Inscriptions of Algeria, published at Paris, A.D. 1838, most of those documents which caused Rossi to undertake his second great work, A Letter to J. B. Pitra, Benedictine Monk, on the Christian Titles found at Carthage. These documents are very important as explaining the symbol of the cross. The Christians, for various reasons, were unwilling at first to represent the cross among their symbols. The cross was the damnata crux of Apuleius, the infelix lignum of Seneca, the teterrimum, crudelissimumque supplicium of Cicero. The Christians, therefore, did not wish to give the pagans an occasion of insult, nor to give scandal to the weak faith of the catechumens. Prudent respect, as well as wise foresight, induced them to conceal their most holy symbol in the interest of the progress of faith. Consequently, as Rossi proves, we find the cruces dissimulatæ among the symbols, which, by their similarity with the real figure of the cross, became Christian symbols, but, on account of their being also recognized as heathen symbols, excited no scandal or suspicion. Such concealed symbols, or cruces dissimulatæ, are, according to Rossi, the Tau or crooked cross, the oblique or S. Andrew’s cross, the anchor cross, and the monogram of Christ with all its varieties.

The oldest monogram is the simple Χ, the first letter of Christ’s holy name. At a later period, the Χ was united with the Ι, the two together standing for Ιησοῦς Χριστός. Before the time of Constantine, the monogram was represented by the union of the Greek letters Χ and Ρ, the two first letters of the word ΧΡΙϹΤΟϹ. After the conversion of Constantine, when the punishment of the cross was abolished, and all that was offensive or scandalous in it removed, the symbol became more striking by the introduction of a cross-line. In the second half of the IVth century, in spite of the Julian persecution, the symbol of the cross became more plain. But when Christianity, in and since the time of Theodosius the Great, took possession of the laws, and ordinances, and customs of the empire, the symbol became so clear that all could understand it. Therefore, after the end of the IVth century, and in the beginning of the Vth, we find the simple figure of the cross on all public monuments, without any attempt to conceal it.

The progress of this symbol of the cross was not so slow in development in some of the remote provinces as in the city of Rome and its environs. In some of the distant provinces, the power of paganism ceased to control the people at an earlier date than in the city, and, consequently, allowed the Christians to manifest their symbols without fear. This happened as early as the IId century in Northern Africa, where the Christians were powerful at a very early date. Rossi, in the same work, gives us valuable documents and proofs to show the important place which the symbol of the triangle should hold in archæological[277] disquisitions. It was a recognized symbol of the Holy Trinity.

It is a common custom among certain prejudiced modern writers to speak of the “hatred of the early Christians for art.” By degrees, however, the bandage begins to fall from their eyes, and the truth becomes clearer. To Rossi much credit is due for having labored to destroy this prejudice also. The attention of the early Christians was called to works of sculpture rather than to works of painting. And this was quite natural. The statues were mostly naked. And “among the entirely naked Aphrodites of the later Greek and Roman artists, there is hardly one in which the woman does not predominate over the goddess. Sensuality and grossness are conspicuous in most of them.”[117] Some of them also knew that the Venus of Praxiteles, which he represented at first entirely unclothed, was copied after a model of Phryne.

It is different with painting—after music and poetry, the most spiritual of arts. “By the blending of light and shade, and the laws of perspective, it can give a tone of spirituality to the bodily form, and an ethical appearance to the inanimate. Painting is the art of soul impressions. Everything great, noble, and refined can be better expressed on the canvas than in marble.” The Christian muse, therefore, naturally took to painting. Hence on the walls in the catacombs we find the first efforts of the Christian painters. Likenesses of the Mother of God are among the first which we meet. These pictures, in which virginal innocence, maternal tenderness, holy worth, tender grace and piety, are manifested, have been collected and published in 1863 in large chromo-lithographs in his work entitled Imagine Scelte della B. Vergine tratte dalle Catacombe Romane.

The earliest likeness of the Mother of God is found in the catacombs of Priscilla. On account of the many likenesses of the Blessed Virgin found in them, these have been called the Marian Catacombs. There is no doubt that these pictures are of apostolic date, and originated with that Priscilla who was known both to Peter and Paul, the mother of the Senator Pudens, and grandmother of the holy virgins Praxedes and Pudentiana. In the arch of the central crypt, the adoration of the magi is painted. The Blessed Virgin holds the Infant Jesus in her bosom; before her in the sky is the star whose light leads the three wise men from the East to visit the divine Child.

In another crypt is delineated the annunciation of the angel. The Blessed Virgin sits on a throne like the ancient episcopal chairs; before her stands the archangel as a beautiful, ethereal youth, without wings, dressed in tunic and pallium, his right hand raised, and the index finger of it pointed at the Virgin. In her face there is a look of surprise and holy, virginal shyness. On the ceiling of another grave-niche, in the very oldest part of the catacomb, close to the graves of the family of Pudens, we find a painted picture of the Virgin and Child in the pure classic style. Rossi, supported by the most various archæological and historical documents, places this picture in the time between the second half of the Ist and the first half of the IId century. The Blessed Virgin, clothed with many-folded drapery and cloak, bears on her head the veil usually worn by the married or betrothed. Over her hangs the star of Bethlehem; before her stands a young, powerful-looking man, with a prophet’s mantle thrown[278] over his shoulders. In his left hand he holds a scroll, and with the right he points to the star and the Virgin and Child. He is Isaias the Prophet, pointing out the favored Virgin, the branch of the root of Jesse, who was to conceive and bring forth the blessed Fruit; and showing the great light which was to shine over Jerusalem. The beauty of the composition; the grace and dignity of the figures; the swelling folds of the drapery; and the correctness and spiritual beauty of the expression, make this, although the oldest picture of the Madonna, one of the most striking which we possess. The elder Lenormant did not hesitate to compare it with Raphael’s best productions.

The picture of the Madonna in the second table of Rossi is of more recent origin. In this picture, the Mother of God sits on a chair of honor, holding the divine Child in her lap. The three kings, led by a star, come to meet her. It is from the cemetery of Domitilla. We omit the other pictures of the adoration of the magi in the other catacombs of Callistus, Cyriaca, etc.

The assertion of the Calvinist historian Basnage, that the pictures of the Blessed Virgin were not introduced into the church until after the Council of Ephesus, A.D. 431, sinks to the ground in the face of Rossi’s documents.

He has collected in his works the chief inscriptions to be met with in the catacombs, and has surpassed all his predecessors in the completeness of his information and documents. Although, after the discovery and investigation of the catacombs by the celebrated Bosio, many authors like Aringhi, Bottari, Boldetti, the Jesuit Lupi, Marchi, and others, had treated on them, and the relations of their contents to theological sciences and ecclesiastical studies, none has equalled the distinguished Rossi, whose ardor, energy, and talent were always aided by the most liberal sympathy of the Roman Pontiff.


Offero (the bearer), afterwards S. Christopher, being proud of his vast strength and gigantic limbs, resolved to serve—for he was poor—only the most powerful monarch on earth.

Accordingly, he searched far and near until at last he came to the court of a king who, as he was told, was the greatest monarch on earth. To him Offero offered his services.

They were gladly accepted, for his powerful frame pleased the eye of the king, who knew that no other prince could boast of such a servant.

Offero, supposing his master to be afraid of no one, was greatly surprised on perceiving the king tremble and cross himself, whenever the name of Satan was mentioned. “Why dost thou do so?” he inquired of the monarch.

“Because Satan is very mighty,” replied his master, “and I am afraid lest he should overcome me.”

“Then I must leave thee, for I will serve only him who is afraid of no one,” said Offero.

Again he commenced his wanderings; this time in search of Satan. One day, on crossing a desert, he[279] perceived a horrible object with the appearance of great power coming towards him. Offero’s great size seemed not in the least to startle him, and with an air of authority he asked: “Whom dost thou seek?”

“Satan,” Offero answered, “for I have heard that he is the most powerful upon earth. I wish to have him for my master.”

“I am he,” said the other, “and thy service shall be an easy one.”

The giant bowed low, and joined his followers.

As they pursued their way they came in sight of a cross. No sooner had Satan’s eyes perceived it, than he turned with evident fear and haste and took another road, so as to avoid passing the cross.

Offero was not slow in noticing these signs of alarm. “Why dost thou do so?” he asked his master.

“I fear the cross,” Satan made answer, “because Christ died upon it, and I fly from it lest it should overcome me.”

“Then there is one more powerful than thou, and I shall leave thee and seek him,” replied Offero. With these words, he left Satan and went in search of Christ.

After much toil and long wanderings, he came to a hermit, whom he entreated to tell him where Christ could be found.

The holy man, seeing him thus ignorant, pitied and taught him. “Christ is indeed the greatest king in heaven and on earth,” he said, “for his power will endure throughout eternity; but thou canst not serve him lightly—he will impose great duties upon thee, and he will require that thou fast often.”

“I will not fast,” said Offero, “for that would weaken my strength, which makes me so good a servant.”

“Thou also must pray,” continued the hermit, taking no heed of the interruption.

“I have never prayed and will never do so. Such service is for weaklings, not for me,” replied the giant.

“Then,” said the hermit, “dost thou know of a river whose waters are wild and deep, and often swollen by rains, sweeping away in its swift current many of those who would cross it?”

“Yes,” said Offero.

“Then go there and aid those who fight with its waves; carry the weak and little ones across upon thy strong, broad shoulders. This is good work, and, if Christ will have thee in his service, he will assure thee of his acceptance.”

Offero went to the river, and on its banks built himself a hut. Day and night he aided all who came, carrying many upon his shoulders, and never wearying in assisting them across the river. A palm-tree was his staff, which he had pulled in the forest, and which was well suited to his great strength and height.

One night, when resting in his hut, he heard a voice like that of a weak child, and it said: “Offero, wilt thou carry me?”

He rose quickly and went out, but, search as he would, he could find no one; and he re-entered his dwelling; but presently the voice called again: “Offero, wilt thou carry me?” A second search proved fruitless. At the third call he rose again, taking with him a lantern. He searched, and at last found a child. “Offero, Offero, carry me over this night?”

He lifted him up and began crossing the stream. Immediately the wind commenced to blow, the waves rose high, and the roar of the waters sounded like thunder. The child also began to increase in weight,[280] grew more heavy upon his shoulders, and Offero feared that he must sink; but, with the aid of his staff, he kept himself up, and at last succeeded in reaching the opposite shore. Then he cried: “Whom have I carried? Had it been the whole world, it could not have been heavier.”

Then the child replied: “Me, whom thou desirest to serve, and I have accepted thee. Thou hast not only carried the world, but him who made it, upon thy shoulders. As a sign of my power and my approbation of thee, fix thy staff in the earth, and it shall grow and bear fruit.”

Offero did so, and soon it was covered with leaves and fruit. But the wonderful child was gone. Then Offero knew that it was Christ whom he had carried, and he fell down and worshipped him.

Thenceforth he called himself Christopher, served his Master faithfully, holding fast to his new faith through all kinds of tortures and sufferings.

King Dagnus of Lycia, after having thrown him into prison, and not succeeding in turning him from his faith, commanded that he should be executed.

Arrived at the place of execution, he knelt down and prayed that all who saw him and believed in Christ, should be delivered from earthquake fire, and tempest. It was believed that his prayers were heard, and that all who look upon the figure of S. Christopher are safe, for that day, from all dangers of earthquake, flood, and fire. The sight of it is believed also to impart strength to the weak and weary.


Church Defence. New York: The Catholic Publication Society.

“Our Clerical Friends” appear to be suffering pain from the strong sinapisms of Dr. Marshall. At least, we suspect they must be in pain, from certain suppressed, inarticulate cries and moans of the Church Journal, Churchman, etc. Their doctor is inexorable, however, and has already applied another blister. Their internal disorder is too deeply seated and obstinate to allow of any milder treatment. They have been seized with such a violent madness of fancying themselves priests and playing at Catholic that argument is lost on them, unless plentifully infused with ridicule. Church Defence is unmerciful in its ridicule, like the Comedy of Convocation, but it is also perfectly genteel and polished in its style, and as overwhelming in argument as an essay by Dr. Newman. Those who have laughed over the sparkling pages of the classic Comedy, will enjoy another laugh over this new drama, and those who have been thrown into a rage by My Clerical Friends will be at a loss for epithets wherewith to give vent to their pent-up bosoms when they read this new amiable discussion, which they will and must do, in spite of themselves. Dear friends and would-be Catholics, you might as well laugh with the whole world that is laughing at you! Your little farce is played out. It is a small business to be trying to cheat poor girls who are entrapped by your counterfeit Sisters, by pretending that you are Catholic priests and can give them sacraments. Something else is wanted besides acolytes and nicolytes, candles and high celebrations, mimicry of our sacerdotal dress, and high collars or high altars. You are outdone even in counterfeiting Catholicity by the little[281] Greek schismatical chapel, where there is a better Signor Blitz than any of your feeble imitations. Do, if you please, try something new for the amusement of mankind, and let the curtain fall on the Anglo-Catholic farce!

The Progressionists, and Angela. By Conrad von Bolanden. New York: The Catholic Publication Society. 1873.

The second of these novelettes by the most popular writer of fiction among the Catholics of Germany is really a charming story. The character of “Angela” is remarkably well drawn, and is the type of a perfect Christian woman, in the three phases which are so full of moral and poetic beauty, as maiden, bride, and mistress of the household. The first one is very different, dealing with incidents and scenes which are not so pleasing, but unfortunately equally real. As both are reprints from the pages of this magazine, our readers will remember them, and no doubt be glad to get them in a separate form. Those who have not read them will find them not only entertaining reading, but full of thought and instruction on most important and practical topics of modern life.

Life of J. Theophane Vénard, Martyr in Tonquin; or, What Love Can Do. Translated by Lady Herbert. New York: The Catholic Publication Society. 1873.

Life of Henry Dorié, Martyr. Translated by Lady Herbert. New York: The Catholic Publication Society. 1873.

These two works are translations from the French by Lady Herbert, for the benefit of S. Joseph’s Foreign Missionary College at Mill Hill near London, to which she has been a warm friend and liberal patron from the beginning. Americans cannot help feeling a great interest in that institution, for the first band of missionaries it sent forth came to labor among the colored people of our Southern States.

Nothing could be better calculated to stimulate the fervor of the aspirant to the missionary life than the example of these two young Christian heroes worthy of the primitive ages of the church—worthy, it might be said, of the XIXth century; for never was there an age that required more firmness of purpose and constancy to the truth than this, with its glorious confessors of the faith in Asia, and as large an army of martyrs on the other side of the globe undergoing the slower torture of heart and soul that is far worse than that of the cangue.

The lives of the two missionaries before us are affecting to the last degree. Every Catholic youth should read them, if not to fully emulate their example, to which all have not the happiness of being called, at least to catch something of the unworldliness and burning piety they manifested from their very childhood. Indeed, we wish everybody could read them, for there could be no better proof of the holy influences of the Catholic religion upon the young heart. We linger with admiration over the account of their boyhood overshadowed by their future martyrdom. One golden thread runs through their whole lives—one constant aim—the wish to win souls to Christ, and at last to gain the martyr’s crown. And this intense desire for martyrdom was no mere youthful enthusiasm, as was proved when their lifelong prayer was granted. But amid all the self-denial with which they fitted themselves for their glorious destiny, nothing in their character is more striking than the tender affection—passing ordinary human love—apparent in their intercourse with their families, as if religion had refined every fibre of their hearts, and made them more keenly susceptible of love, of suffering, and of devotion to the service of God. They never allowed earthly affections, however, to come between them and their great aim in life. What angels of the sanctuary they were while preparing for the sublime functions of the priesthood! What a lofty conception they had of the sacrament of holy orders that consecrated them to a life of sacrifice! How joyfully they entered upon the life that promised them the radiant crown.

“Prepared for virgin souls and them
Who seek the martyr’s diadem.”

Souffrir pour Dieu—To suffer for God—will henceforth be my motto,” said Henri Dorié, about to leave his country for ever. Everything at the Séminaire des Missions Etrangères was calculated to strengthen this desire for suffering. Old missionaries, who bore in their bodies the marks of the Lord Jesus, were their professors. Every day they went to pray in the Hall of Martyrs, around which are[282] ranged the relics of those who have suffered for the faith in China, Japan, and the isles of the sea, together with the instruments of their martyrdom—an appalling shrine at which to pray! And the whole room is crimsoned with the light diffused through the red hangings—significant of blood and suffering.... Among other sacred articles in this hall is the blood-stained crucifix of Bishop Borie, whose interesting life has been written by the Rev. F. Hewit.

One of the most affecting scenes related in these books is when a band of missionaries is about to leave for their field of labor. On the eve of their departure, the young apostles all stand before the altar—victims ready for the glorious sacrifice—and one by one the loved companions and friends they are to leave behind come up to prostrate themselves, and kiss the feet of these heralds of salvation, the whole congregation meanwhile chanting: Quam speciosi pedes evangelizantium pacem, evangelizantium bona!—How beautiful are the feet of them who preach the Gospel of peace, of them that bring glad tidings of good things!

M. Vénard went to labor in Tonquin. When the first missionary to that country—a Dominican friar—landed there in 1596, he found a great cross on that unknown shore, which seemed to prefigure what awaited those who should attempt to evangelize it. And to see how truly, we need go no further back than 1861, when, in the course of nine months, sixteen thousand Christians were martyred in only two provinces of Anam, and twenty thousand condemned to perpetual slavery. This was the year in which M. Vénard was martyred. The letter he wrote his beloved sister in his cage at midnight on the eve of his martyrdom has been styled by an eminent Frenchman “one of the most beautiful pages of the history of the martyrs of the XIXth century.”

Henry Dorié was sent to Corea—the very name of which is symbolical to the Christian ear of persecution and martyrdom. The whole history of the church in that country is written in blood. Its first missionaries were all martyrs, its first bishop, its first converts. In one year—1839—over eight hundred Christians were martyred, and a still larger number perished from want in the mountains where they had taken refuge. But M. Dorié had but one desire—when his labors were ended, to win the palm. His prayer was not denied hi