From the time of his last Mass he was unable to read or write; unable to move a single step without assistance. In this condition he lingered, sinking by a slow and gradual decline, but preserving his serenity and the full possession of his mental faculties. "None of those around him," says Archbishop Corrigan, "ever heard the first syllable of complaint. It was again his service of the Lord, such as our Lord ordained it. To those who sympathized with him in his helplessness, the sweet answer would be made: 'It is God's will. Thy will, O Lord, be done on earth as it is in heaven.' Fulfilling God's will, he passed away, calmly and in peace, as the whole course of his life had been, and without a struggle; 'the last words he was able to utter, being the Hail Mary.'"
The death of our first American Cardinal, October 10th, 1885, called forth from the press, and from the clergy of other denominations, a uniform expression of deep and touching respect. He had won many moral victories without fighting battles; his victories left no rancor. Everywhere at Catholic altars Masses were offered for the repose of his soul, and when the tidings crossed the Atlantic, the solemn services at Paris and Rome attested the sense of his merit, and of the Church's loss.
His funeral in New York was most imposing. Around the grand Cathedral, as around a fretted rock of marble, surged the waves of people, like a sea. The vast interior was filled, and beneath the groined roof he had reared, lay, in his pontifical vestments,—the hat, insignia of his highest dignity, at his feet,—the mild and gentle and patient Cardinal McCloskey, his life's work well and nobly ended.
The solemn Mass, the deep tones of the organ, the Gregorian notes of the choirs moved all to pray for the soul of one whose life had been given to the service of God. The Archbishop of Baltimore, the Most Rev. James Gibbons, pronounced the funeral discourse, and then the body was laid beside those of his predecessors in the crypt beneath.
A month later, and again the Dies Irae resounded through that noble monument of his love for religion. The Month's Mind, that touching tribute which our Church pays her departed, called forth from the Most Rev. Michael A. Corrigan, who knew him so well and so intimately, words full of touching reminiscences.
Bishop Lynch, of Charleston, S. C., who knew him so intimately, thus described him a few years ago before the hand of disease had changed him. "In personal appearance the Cardinal is about five feet ten inches in height, straight, and thin in person and apparently frail, though his chest is full, and the tones of his voice when preaching are clear and far reaching. His features are regular and finely chiselled. The brow is lofty, the nose thin and straight, the eyes keen, quick and penetrating; the thin lips, even in repose, seeming to preserve the memory of a smile; the whole expression of the countenance, one of serious thought and placid repose. Yet you feel or see indications of activity ready to manifest itself through the brows, the eyes or the lips. In fact his temperament is decidedly nervous; and if you observe the natural promptness and decision of his movements, you might almost think him quick and naturally impetuous. There could be no greater mistake; or, if he is such by natural disposition, this is one of the points where his seminary training has taught him to control and master himself. The forte of his character is his unchanging equanimity. And yet there must have been in him a wondrous amount of nervous energy to enable him to survive very serious injuries to his frame in early life, and to endure the severe physical labors of an American bishop for thirty years.... Piety, learning, experience, zeal—every bishop should have these as a matter of course. He has more. In address, gentle, frank and winning, he at once puts you at ease, and makes you feel you are speaking to a father or a friend in whom you may unreservedly confide. Soft and delicate in manners as a lady, none could ever presume in his presence to say a word or do an act tinged with rudeness, still less indelicacy. Kind and patient with all who come to him, he is especially considerate with his clergy. To them he is just in his decisions, wise in his counsels and exhortations, ever anxious to aid them in their difficulties. Tender and lenient as a mother to those who wish to do right, and to correct evil, he is inflexible when a principle is at stake, and can be stern when the offender is obdurate. Notoriety and display are supremely distasteful to him. He would have his work done, and thoroughly done, and his own name or his part in it never mentioned. He studiously avoids coming before the public, save in his ecclesiastical functions, or where a sense of duty drives him to it. He prefers to work quietly and industriously in the sphere of his duties. Here, he is unflagging, so ordering matters that work never accumulates on his hands through his own neglect."
The Pope and the Mikado.
The following is the text of the letter addressed by His Holiness to the Mikado of Japan:—
To the Illustrious and Most Mighty Emperor of All Japan, LEO PP. XIII., greeting.
Though separated from each other by a vast intervening expanse of space, we are none the less fully aware here of your pre-eminent, anxious care in promoting all that is for the good of Japan. In truth, the measures Your Imperial Majesty has taken for the increase of civilization, and especially for the moral culture of your people, call for the praise and approval of all who desire the welfare of nations and that interchange of benefits which are the natural fruit of a more refined culture,—the more so that, with greater moral polish, the minds of men are more fitted to imbibe wisdom and to embrace the light of truth. For these reasons we beg of you that you will graciously be pleased to accept this visible expression of our good-will with the same sincerity with which it is tendered.
The very reason, indeed, which has moved us to despatch this letter to Your Majesty, has been our wish of publicly expressing the pleasure of our heart. For the favors which have been vouchsafed to every missionary and Christian, we are truly beholden to you. By their own testimony we have been made acquainted with your grace and goodness to both priests and laymen. Nothing truly, in your power, could be more praiseworthy as a matter of justice or more beneficent to the common weal, inasmuch as you will find the Catholic religion a powerful auxiliary in maintaining the stability of your Empire.
For all dominion is founded on justice, and of justice there is not a principle which is not laid down in the precepts of Christianity. And thus, all they who bear the name of Christian, are above all enjoined,—not through fear of punishments, but by the voice of religion,—to reverence the kingly sway, to obey the laws, and not to seek for ought in public affairs save that which is peaceful and upright. We most earnestly beseech you, therefore, to grant the utmost freedom in your power to all Christians, and to deign, as heretofore, to protect their institutions with your patronage and favor. We, on our part, shall suppliantly beseech God, the author of all good, that he may grant your beneficial undertakings their wished-for outcome, and may bestow upon Your Majesty, and the whole realm of Japan, blessings and favors increasing day by day.
Given in Rome, at St. Peter's, on the twelfth day of May, 1885, in the eighth year of Our Pontificate.
Order of the Buried Alive.
The order of the Buried Alive in Rome, the Convent of the Sepolte Vivo, is a remnant of the Middle Ages in the life of to-day. The London Queen's correspondent had the privilege of an entrance within, one after another, of the five iron doors, and talking with the Mother Superior through the thick swathing of a woollen veil, but ordinary communication with the convent is carried on through the "barrel," which fills an opening in the wall. Over the barrel is written: "Who will live contented within these walls, let her leave at the gate every earthly care." You knock at the barrel, which turns slowly around till it shows a section like that of an orange from which one of the quarters has been cut.
You speak to the invisible sister, who asks your will; and she answers you in good Italian and cultivated intonation. You hear the voice quite distinctly, but as if it was far, far away. She is really separated from you by a slender slice of wood, but she is absolutely invisible. Not the smallest ray of light, nor the smallest chink is visible between you and her. Sound travels through the barrel, but sight is absolutely excluded. These nuns live on charity, keeping two Lents in the year—one from November to Christmas, the other the ordinary Lent of Catholic Christendom. Living, therefore, on charity, they may eat whatever is given to them, saving always "flesh meat" during the fasting time.
If you take them a cake or a loaf of bread, a roll of chocolate bonbons, a basket of eggs, it is all good for them. They must be absolutely without food for twenty-four hours before they may ask help from the outside world; and when they have looked starvation in the face, then they may ring a bell, which means: "Help us! we are famishing!" Perhaps you take them nothing eatable, but you place on the edge of the cut orange, by which you sit, some money, demanding in return their "cartolini," or little papers.
The barrel turns slowly round, then back again, and you find on the ledge, where you had laid your lire, a paper of "cartolini." These are very small, thin, light-printed slips, neatly folded in tiny packets, three to each packet, which, if you swallow in faith, will cure you of all disease. After your talk is ended, the barrel turns around once more and presents its face as of an immovable and impenetrable-looking barrier. One of the pretty traditions of Rome is, that each sister has her day, when she throws a flower over the convent wall as a sign to her watching friends that she is still alive. When she has been gathered to the majority, the flower is not thrown, and the veil has fallen forever.
Harvard College and the Catholic Theory of Education.
Slowly, but with unmistakable certainty, the logic of the Catholic teaching regarding true education is forcing itself upon non-Catholic minds. Day by day some prominent Protestant comes boldly to the front and declares his belief that education must be based upon religion. One of the latest accessions to this correct theory is President Eliot, of Harvard College, who declared at a recent meeting of Boston schoolteachers that,—
"The great problem is that of combining religions with secular education. This was no problem sixty or seventy years ago, for then our people were homogeneous. Now, the population is heterogeneous. Religious teaching can best be combined with secular teaching and followed in countries of heterogeneous population, like Germany, Austria, France and Belgium, where the government pays for the instruction, and the religious teachers belonging to different denominations are admitted to the public schools at fixed times. That is the only way out of the difficulty.... I see, growing up on every side, parochial schools—that is, Catholic schools—which take large numbers of children out of the public schools of the city. That is a great misfortune, and the remedy is to admit religious instructors to teach these children in the public schools. This is what is done in Europe. And all those who are strongly interested in the successful maintenance of our public school system will urge the adoption of the method I have described for religious education."
These are strong words, and coming from such a source cannot fail to have their legitimate result. The fearlessness and sincerity of President Eliot in thus stating his position on this most important subject merits the appreciation of every American, Catholic or Protestant.
We add in connection with the above, the remarks of the Christian Advocate, a Protestant paper published at San Francisco, Cal.:—
"The course which the Roman Catholic Hierarchy, in this country, are taking in regard to the education of children is, from their standpoint, worthy of praise. They see that in order to keep their children under the rule of the Church, they must keep them from the public schools, where they think Protestant influence predominates. Therefore they are providing for them in their parochial schools and academies at an extra expense that does credit to their zeal and devotion. Their plans are broad, deep and far-reaching, and they are a unit in the prosecution of them. They are loyal to their convictions, making everything subservient to the interests of their religion. Understanding, as they do, the importance of moulding character in the formative period, they look diligently after the religious culture of their children. In all this they are deserving of commendation, and Protestants may receive valuable hints from them of tenacity of grip and self-denying devotion to their faith."
An Affecting Incident at Sea.
Seldom have passengers by our great Atlantic steamers witnessed so solemn and impressive a scene as that at which it fell to the lot of the passengers in the outward voyage of the Inman liner, "City of Chester," to assist. It appears that one of the passengers was a Mr. John Enright, a native of Kerry, who, having amassed a fortune in America, had gone to Ireland to take out with him to his home in St. Louis three young nieces who had recently become orphans. During the passage Mr. Enright died from an affection of the heart; and the three little orphans were left once more without a protector. Fortunately there were amongst the passengers the Rev. Father Tobin, of the Cathedral, St. Louis; the Rev. Father Henry, of the Church of St. Laurence O'Toole, St. Louis; and the Rev. Father Clarkson, of New York. Father Henry was the Celebrant of the Mass of Requiem; and Colonel Mapleson and his London Opera Company, who were also on board, volunteered their services for the choir. They chanted, with devotional effect, the De Profundis and the Miserere; and Madame Marie Roze sang, "Oh, rest in the Lord," from "Elijah." The bell of the ship was then tolled; and a procession was formed, headed by Captain Condron, of the "City of Chester." The coffin, which was enveloped in the American flag, was borne to the side of the ship, from which it was gently lowered into the sea. The passengers paid every attention to the orphans during the remainder of the voyage, at the termination of which they were forwarded to the residence of their late uncle in St. Louis.
Sing, Sing for Christmas.
Sing, sing for Christmas! Welcome happy day! For Christ is born our Saviour, to take our sins away; Sing, sing a joyful song, loud and clear to-day, To praise our Lord and Saviour, who in the manger lay.
Sing, sing for Christmas! Echo, earth! and cry Of worship, honor, glory, and praise to God on high; Sing, sing the joyful song; let it never cease; Of glory in the highest, on earth good-will to man.
Dead Man's Island.
THE STORY OF AN IRISH COUNTRY TOWN.
T. P. O'CONNOR, M. P.
THE DOOMED NATION.
A passion of anger and despair swept over Ireland when it was at last announced that Crowe had sold the pass. For some days the people were in the same dazed and helpless condition of mind that followed the potato blight of '46. In that terrible year one of the strange and most universally observed phenomena was that the people looked, for days after the advent of the blight that brought the certainty of hunger and death, silent and motionless and apathetic. And so it was now, when there came a blight, less quickly, but as surely, destructive of national life and hope. There was a dread presentiment that this was a blow from which the nation was not destined to recover for many a long day, and though they could not reason about it, the people had the instinctive feeling that the rule of the landlord was now fixed more tightly than ever, and that emancipation was postponed to a day beyond that of the present generation.
The landlords appreciated the situation with the same instinctive readiness and perception. At once the pause which had come in the work of eviction was broken, the plague raged immediately with a fierceness that seemed to have gained more hellish energy and more devilish cruelty from its temporary abatement. The roads were thick with troops of people rushing wildly from their homes and fleeing from their native country as from a land cursed alike by God and by man. Mat Blake, passing along from Dublin to Ballybay, was almost driven to insanity by the sights he saw at the different sections along the way.
Every station was besieged by vast crowds of the emigrants and their friends. There are few sights so touching as the sight of the parting of Irish families at a railway station. The ties of family are closer and more affectionate than anybody can appreciate who has not lived the life of an Irish home. The children grow up in a dependence on their parents that may well seem slavery to other peoples. The grown son is still the "boy" years after he has attained manhood's years, the daughter remains a little girl, whom her mother has the right to chide and direct and control in every action. Such ties beget helplessness as well as affection, and the Irish peasant still regards many things as worse than death, which, by peoples of less ardent religious faith, are regarded more philosophically.
When Mat looked at the simple faces of those poor girls, at the bewildered look in the countenances of the young men, and thought of how ignorant and helpless these people were, he could understand the almost insane anguish of their parents as they saw them embark on an ocean so dark and tempestuous and remote as the crowded cities of America, and Mat could penetrate down into the minds of his people and see with the lightning flash of sympathy the dread spectre that tortured the minds, filled the eyes, and darkened the brows of the Irish parents.
Station after station, it was always the same sight. The parting relatives were locked in each other's arms; they wept and cried aloud, and swayed in their grief.
"Cheer up, father; God is good."
"Ah, Paddie, my darlint, I'll never see ye agin."
"Oh mother, dear, don't fret."
"May God and His Blessed Mother in heaven protect my poor girl."
Then more kisses through the carriage windows.
The guards and porters frantically called upon the people to stand back; they clung on, careless of danger to life and limb; and as the black, hideous, relentless monster shot away they rushed along the line; they passed into the fields, and waved handkerchiefs, and shouted the names of the parting child or sister or brother; until at last the distance swallowed up the train and its occupants, and then they returned to homes from which forever afterwards the light had passed away.
Such were the scenes which Mat saw, and when he got to Ballybay station there was that look on his face which to any keen observer would have revealed much in the Irish character and afforded the key to many startling episodes in Irish history. It was a look at once of infinite rage and infinite despair; it spoke of wrong—hated, gigantic, at once intolerable and insurmountable. One sees a similar impress in the faces of Irishmen in Massachusetts, though the climate of America has reduced the large, loose frame to the thin build of the new country, and has bleached the ruddy complexion of Ireland to a sickly white or an ugly yellow; it is the look one can detect in the faces of the men who dream of death in the midst of slain foes and wrecked palaces; it blazes in the eyes of Healy, as with sacrilegious hand he smites the venerable front of the mother of Parliaments.
Mat had come to Ireland for the Easter recess; he had drawn out of the savings bank a few pounds of the money he had placed there for the furnishing of the house which he destined for Mary and Betty Cunningham. He longed to have a share in punishing the perjured traitor who had betrayed the country. The sights he had seen along the route satisfied him as to the temper of the people, and he entered Ballybay secure in the hope that if the traitor had been raised by the town to the opportunity of deceiving the people, he would be cast into the dust by the same hand.
He had not been long in the town when he found that he had wholly misconceived its spirit. The one feeling that seemed to dominate all others, was that the acceptance by Crowe of office meant another election; and another election meant another shower of gold.
In his father's house he found assembled his father and mother, and Tom Flaherty and Mary. They were discussing the election, of course, and this was how they discussed it.
"I always thought Crowe was a smart fellow," said Fleming. "There's one thing certain; he'll have plenty of money now, and as I have always said, 'I'm a Protestant,'" and then Mat repeated his characteristic saying.
"Do you mean to say," said Mat, with a face fierce with rage and surprise, "that you'd vote again for Crowe, after his treason?"
"And why shouldn't he vote for him?" asked Mat's mother, in a voice almost as fierce as his own. "Isn't he a Government man, and doesn't every one know that the people who can do anything for themselves or anybody else in Ireland are Government men?"
Mat, fond as he was of his mother, felt almost as if he could have killed her at that moment; he could not speak for a few minutes for rage. At last he almost shrieked, "If there was any decency in Ballybay Crowe would never leave the town alive."
"Ah! the crachure!" said Tom Flaherty.
"Ah! the crachure! Why shouldn't he look out for himself; shure, isn't that what we're all trying to do? God bless us."
Mary glanced uneasily at Mat, but he refused to look at her; she seemed for a moment spoiled in his eyes by her kinship with this polluted and degraded creature. His father gave him a wistful glance, but said nothing. Whenever there was a tempest between his wife and his son he remained silent.
And so this was how Ballybay regarded the great betrayal! Mat felt inclined to throw himself into the Shannon, and have done with life as quickly as he was losing hope and faith.
He took a look once more at the bare and squalid streets and gloomy people; and then at the frowning castle and the passing regiment of the English garrison; and he despaired of his country.
But he had come to help in the fight against Crowe; and after the involuntary tribute of this brief interval of despondency, he at once set to work. After many disappointments he found a few men who shared his views of the situation, and a committee was formed to go out and ask Captain Ponsonby to stand once more; for though Mat hated the politics of Ponsonby, he thought any stick was good enough to beat the foul traitor with. Captain Ponsonby consented, and so the contest was started. The Nation newspaper sent down several of its staff; the old Tenant Right Party held meetings, asked that Ballybay should do its duty, and save the whole country from the awful calamity of triumphant treason. Everything was thus arranged for a struggle with Crowe that would test all his powers, backed though he was by the money and the influence of the Government.
Mat's speeches, the articles in the newspapers, and the vigorous efforts of the few honest men in the town, had at last roused Ballybay until it began to share some of the profound horror and indignation which the action of Crowe had provoked throughout the country generally. There was but one more thing necessary, and the defeat of Crowe was certain; if the bishop joined in the opposition, there was no possibility of his winning.
All Ireland waited in painful tension to see what the verdict of the bishop would be. Mat heard it before anybody else, for a young curate who lived in the College House with the bishop, and was a fierce Nationalist, gave Mat a daily bulletin; the bishop resolved to support the Solicitor-General.
At first nobody would believe the tale; but the next day it was put beyond all doubt, and Mat was almost suffocated by his own wrath as he saw the "Seraph," with his divine face, arm in arm with the perjured ruffian that had brought sorrow to so many thousands of homes.
Mat fought on, but it was no longer with any strong hope of winning. His face grew darker every day, and the lines became drawn about his eyes, for there was another struggle going on in his mind at this moment, as well as the political contest in which he was engaged.
The reader may remember the monitor of the school in which Mat was a pupil when the eviction of the widow Cunningham took place. The monitor was now the teacher of the National School, and Mat and he had begun to have many colloquies.
Michael Reed was regarded as a very sardonic and disagreeable person by most of the people of Ballybay. His hatchet face seemed appropriate to a man who never seemed to agree with the opinion of anybody else, who sneered, it was thought, all round, who laughed when other people wept, and who derided the moments of exultant hope. He had always been among those who hated and distrusted Crowe, and Mat, who was intolerant himself, rather avoided him, while he still had faith in the traitor. But the wreck of all his illusions sent him repentant to Reed, and they had many conversations, in which Mat found himself listening willingly and after a while even greedily, to ideas that a short time before he would have been himself the first to denounce as folly and madness.
The idea of Reed was that the only way to work out the freedom of Ireland was by force of arms. Mat at first was inclined to laugh at the idea; but an impressionable and vehement nature such as his was ill calculated to cope for a lengthened time with a nature precise, cold, and stubborn like that of Reed. Strength of will and tenacity of opinion make their way against better judgment, especially if there can be no doubt of the sincerity of the man of such a temper, and the rigid eye, the proud air, and the whole attitude of Reed spoke, and spoke truly, of a life of absolute purity, and of a fanaticism of Spartan endurance.
There was one consequence of the acceptance of the ideas of Reed, and from this, with all his devotion and rage and sorrow for the pitiable condition of his country, Mat still shrank. A revolutionary could not marry or be engaged to marry; for what man had the right to tie to his dark and uncertain fate the life of a woman—perhaps of children?
The defeat of Crowe would once more restore faith to the people in constitutional resources, and would save them from the cynicism and apathy which might require a revolutionary movement to rouse them once more to hope and action. And thus in fighting against Crowe, Mat now felt as if he were fighting not merely for his country, but for his own dear life.
Then if Crowe were defeated, Mat could return to his work in London, and resume his efforts in carrying out the sacred purpose of raising his father and mother from poverty; for of marriage he could not think unless he were in a position to help his father and mother more than he had done hitherto. If he ever dared to think of marriage otherwise, there came before him the gaunt image of his mother pointing to her faded and ragged workbox with its awful pawn-tickets and bank bills.
It was while he was in the midst of this fierce and agonizing struggle that Mat was called hurriedly one day to the house of Mary, by the news that Mrs. Flaherty had been taken very ill, and was supposed to be dying.
Mat came to the house, endeared to him by so many memories and hopes, trembling, and with a cold feeling about his heart. Why was it that he started back with a pang when he saw Cosgrave in the house before him? Why at that moment did there rush again over his whole soul that awful image which swept over him before? Why in imagination did he stand at night on a wild heath, shivering and alone?
"What brought Cosgrave here?" he asked of Mary sharply.
"Oh!" said Mary, "he came to tell us that he had been made a J. P."
"So he has attained his pitiful ambition," said Mat sharply. "It's through sneaks like him that scoundrels like Crowe are able to betray the country."
"Oh, never mind the low creature," said Mary, with a look of infinite contempt, that Mat was surprised to find very soothing.
He went up stairs. A look at the face of Mrs. Flaherty showed him at once that the alarm was not a false one—she was evidently dying.
There was the old look of patient affection in her tender face, and there was another look, too, which Mat could not misunderstand. It was a look of wistful appeal, half-uttered question, of a fond but tremulous hope.
And it added to the misery of that dark hour that Mat could say nothing, and that he had to let that true and deeply-loved soul pass out of life with its greatest fear unsatisfied, and its brightest hope unassured. For Mat could not utter a decisive word.
Between him and the speech there stood two shadows, potent, dark, and resistless—his mother pointing to her workbox, and Reed pointing to a revolver.
Mary stood beside the bed tearless.
"Doesn't Mary bear up well?" said Mat in surprise to her blubbering father.
"Mary doesn't cry," said her father; "she frets," and in these words Mat thought the whole character of the girl was summed up.
Mrs. Flaherty died on Thursday; the polling was on the following day. Mat was still under the impression of the dark and painful scene when the new excitement came. He hoped against hope to the last, went about the town like one insane, and spoke in his passion of country even to O'Flynn, the pawn-broker, and of honor to Mat Fleming, and then waited at the closing hour to hear the result. The result was:—
Crowe 125 Ponsonby 112
Mat turned pale, and almost fell, his head swam, his heart seemed for a moment to have stopped. He would not yet acknowledge it in so many words; but the sentence still kept ringing in his ears, "Thy doom is sealed, thy doom is sealed."
THE STORY OF BETTY CUNNINGHAM.
The disaster which swept over all Ireland through the final success of the treachery of Crowe raged soon after in Ballybay. The town had been reduced by successive misfortunes to a condition so abject that one calamity was sufficient to completely submerge the greater portion of its inhabitants. Mr. Anthony Cosgrave, J. P., signalized the event by driving out the few tenants who still remained on the properties he had bought. He turned all his land into pasture, for this was the prosperous era of the graziers, and cattle were rapidly transformed into gold. Other landlords pursued similar courses, and within a couple of years, ten thousand people had been swept from the neighborhood around.
The calamity reached down to the very lowest stratum, and touched depths so profound as the fortunes of the widow Cunningham and her daughter Betty.
It had now become habitual for the widow and her daughter to remain for a couple of days with barely any food. One night they were sitting opposite each other on the bare floor of the railway arch in which they had for several years found refuge, staring at each other with the blank, wild gaze of hunger. There was a terrible pang at the heart of the mother on this night of nights. Throughout all her long years of struggle two great thoughts still remained burning in her soul, and in spite of poverty and hunger that soul still remained afire. One was vengeance on Cosgrave for the long train of woes through which she herself had passed, and the other was the protection of her child.
With that profound reverence for female honor which is still one of the best characteristics of the Irish poor, she had seen the growth of her beautiful daughter with a love mixed with terror, and guarded her child as the tigress watches by her lair. Her own life had long since ceased to be dear to her. She walked for hours through the streets, she pleaded for custom, she smiled under insult, she bore rain and hail and snow, in hope of the fulfilment of this great passionate purpose—to keep her daughter pure.
The misery of the last six months had been aggravated by the dread, growing in intensity with every hour, that all this endurance would be in vain, that behind the wolf of hunger there stalked the more cruel wolf of lust, and that her daughter was doomed. On this subject not a word passed between the two women, for the delicacy of feeling which marks even the humblest grade of Irish life sealed their lips; but the dread was always there in the mother's heart, pursuing her as a nightmare through the long watches of the darkness, and haunting her every moment as wearily she carried her basket through the streets in the day.
"Buy a few apples, yer honor, for God's sake," she often said to a passer-by, in a tone that might have struck one as menacing, or at least as entirely disproportionate to the urgency of the appeal; but in every such prayer for pence the mother felt that she was crying for her child, and her child's soul, and her accents came from the very anguish of her mother's heart.
On this night—it was about a month after the election of Crowe—the two sat together, buried in their own sad thoughts. They were suddenly aroused by the floor becoming inundated, and at once knew what to expect. The Shannon periodically rose above its banks outside Ballybay, and then its waters overspread the "Big Meadows," and the railway arch underneath which the widow and her daughter had taken refuge was, as will be remembered, close to these Meadows.
They rose and rushed from the spot. They were now absolutely homeless, without even a place on which to lay their heads. They went further on to another railway arch, and at last slept. When the mother awoke in the morning she was alone.
At this period a Ballybay landlord, afterwards destined to figure largely in the social life of Ireland, had just come of age. Thomas McNaghten was perhaps the handsomest Irishman of his day; tall, broad-shouldered, muscular. He had a physique as splendid as that of the race of peasants from whom his father sprang; while from the gentler race of his mother he derived features of exquisite delicacy and the complexion of a lily-like pink and white. He afterwards ran a career of mad dissipation that made his name a by-word even among the reckless and debauched class to which he belonged, and died a paralytic before he was forty. But at the period of our story, he was still in the full strength and the first flush of manhood. He had cast his eyes on Betty Cunningham, and had held out to her bribes that seemed to unfold to the girl visions of untold wealth. The innate purity of the maiden had hitherto been proof against the direct influences of poverty and wretchedness and the advances of her tempter. But at last the combined intensities of hunger and despair became his allies.
Three weeks after her desertion of her mother Betty Cunningham was drunk in one of the public-houses, which were frequented by the soldiers quartered in Ballybay. The fatal progress of the Irish girl who has fallen is more rapid than in any other country. Society, always cruel to its hapless victims and its outcasts, in Ireland is fanatically and barbarously savage. Betty was driven out from every house! People shuddered as she passed. She lay under hedges, her bed was often in the snow. To Ballybay she was as much an object of loathing and of horror as though she were some wild beast that men might lawfully destroy.
The girl herself had no compensation for all this dread outlawry. The Traviatas of other lands are painted for us in gilded saloons, with costly wines in golden goblets, and noble lovers sighing for their smiles. But Betty, outcast, hungry, and houseless, had not one second's enjoyment of life. The faith in which she had been trained still held its grip upon her, and neither vice nor drink nor human cruelty could relax its grasp. She was a sinner against Heaven's most sacred law; and after brief life came death, and after death eternal torment. Pursued by this ever-present spectre she drank and drank, and awoke more wretched than ever, and then she drank again.
She would sometimes seek refuge from her burning shame and from her tortured soul in fierce revolt. She rolled in mad delirium through the streets, yelled the blasphemies in the shuddering ears of Ballybay, fought the police who came to arrest her, developed, in short, into a raging demon. Her face became bloated, her expression horrible to witness. One day, as she passed through the streets in one of these frenzies, she met Mat Blake. She shivered in every limb, and a pang, as from the thrust of a dagger, passed through her heart. But she attempted all the more to steel her nerves, and to harden her face. She raised her eyes and glared, but the eyes fell, and she slunk away.
And thus it was that Mat saw, for the first time since his return to Ballybay, the gentle, timid, lovely girl who had once willingly stood between him and death.
A few minutes afterwards, Betty's mother appeared. Her features bore the traces of the deepest grief that had yet assailed her. All pride had gone from that once imperious face; she was a stooped, shame-faced, old woman. As Mat looked at her there rushed before his memory the many momentous hours of his life with which that face was bound up, his days of childhood in her prosperous home, his association with her daughter, and the glad hours during the first election of Crowe, when life was still full of glorious hope, and she had dashed the glad vision with the first breath of suspicion and anticipated evil.
They looked at each other silently for a moment, and then she shook her head, and with a look of infinite grief in her eyes, said to him—
"Ah, Master Mat, it was the hunger did it; it was the hunger did it."
By a trick of memory Mat recollected that these were the words he had heard on that day, long ago, when Betty had rescued Mary and himself from the enraged bull.
One thing Mat had noticed as Betty Cunningham had passed; it was that amid the wreck of her beauty one feature still remained as strangely witching as ever. The soft eyes had not lost their delicacy of hue, nor had the evil passions of her soul deprived them of their gentle look. Those who mentioned her, and she was not an uncommon topic among the men of the town, still spoke of Betty's beautiful eyes.
At last there came a temporary change in her fate. A branch of the Mary Magdalene Asylum was established in Ballybay for the rescue of fallen women, and she was one of the first to enter. But her temper, spoiled by excesses and disappointment, fretted under the restraint. She quarrelled with the nuns, and one night she fled. Then the revival in all its fierce vigilance of the old spectre of eternal punishment made her more infuriate than ever. She drank more deeply, cursed more fiercely, was oftener in the police-cell, and Ballybay loathed her more than ever.
One morning—it was a Christmas morning—Mat was walking with his father in the "Big Meadows." Snow had fallen heavily the night before; and as they passed a bush, they saw the impress of a woman's form; it was evident that an unhappy being had there spent her Christmas Eve.
"My God!" said Mat, "a woman has slept there."
Mat's father was the kindest and most humane being in all the world, but "Serve the wretch right!" was his comment.
Her story wound up in a tragic climax. One night she made more violent resistance than ever to the attempts of the police to arrest her, and when she was at last captured, she was torn and bleeding. They put her into a cell by herself; she could be heard pacing up and down with the infuriate step of a caged tiger. The policeman on duty afterwards told how he had heard her muttering to herself, and that he thought he caught the words, "These eyes! These eyes! They have undone me! They have undone me!" Soon afterwards he heard a wild, unearthly shriek that froze his blood. He rushed into the cell, and there, horrible, bleeding.... But I dare not describe the sight.
* * * * *
Betty Cunningham was taken once more into the Mary Magdalene Asylum. Her voice was trained, and after some years she sang in the choir. A strong hush always came over the chapel when her voice was heard. People still told in whispers the terrible story of the blind lay sister; and Mat, sitting in the chapel years afterwards, was carried over the whole history of her career and his own and that of Ballybay generally as he listened to her rich contralto singing second to the rest. He had always thought that there was something wondrously pathetic, at least in sacred music, in the voice that sings seconds, and the impression was confirmed as he listened to the blind girl's accompaniment to the other voices; low when they were loud, sad when they were triumphant, following painfully their quicker steps with that ever plaintive protest and soft wail—fit image of life, where our highest joys are dogged by sorrow's quick and inevitable step.
Conclusion next month.
* * * * *
CHARITY's mantle is often made of gauze.
"CANST thou watch one hour with me?" How long since fell these words from Thee? Before Thy blood-wept vigil in dark Gethsemane, How many since to Thee have bent the knee? And yet too few, for here, O Lord! art Thou; Deserted? No! for angels crowding to Thee bring Sweet, holy homage to their God, their King. While—as Thy chosen ones forgetful slumbered— Thy people passeth on the road unnumbered, With never a thought of Thee, O God, beside. 'Tis well, O Lord! 'tis well for human kind, Thy love is ever wondrous, great and wide, Thy heart with golden mercies ever glowing, Thy reaping not always Thy people's sowing.
A Midnight Mass.
From the French of Abel d'Avrecourt, by Th. Xr. K.
In the height of the Reign of Terror, my grandmother, then a young girl, was living in the Faubourg Saint-Germain. There was a void around her and her mother; their friends, their relatives, the head of the family himself, had left France. Mansions were left desolate or else were invaded by new owners. They themselves had abandoned their rich dwellings for a plain lodging-house, where they lived waiting for better times, carefully hiding their names, which might have compromised them in those days. The churches, diverted from their purpose, were used as shops or manufactories. All outward practice of religion had ceased.
Nevertheless back of a sabot-maker's shop in the Rue Saint-Dominique, an old priest who had taken up his father's humble trade, used to gather some of the faithful together for prayer; but precaution had to be observed, for the hunt was close, and the humble temple was exactly next door to the dwelling of one of the members of the revolutionary government, who was an implacable enemy of religion.
It was then a cold December night; midnight Mass was being celebrated in honor of the festival of Christmas. The shop was carefully closed, while the incense was smoking in the little room back of it. A huge chest of drawers on which a clean, white cloth had been spread, served as altar. The priestly ornaments had been taken from their hiding-place, and the little assembly, composed of women and a few men, was in pious recollection, when a knock at the door, like that of the faithful, attracted attention.
One of the worshippers opened the door; a man hesitatingly entered. The face was one to which all were unaccustomed in that place. To some, alas! it was a face too well known; it was that of the man who had in the public councils shown himself so bitter against gatherings of the faithful, and whose presence, for that reason, was more than ever to be dreaded at such a moment.
Nevertheless the majesty of the sacrifice was not disturbed, but fear had seized on all the attendants; did not each of them have reason to fear for himself, for his family, and for the good old pastor, in even greater danger than his flock?
With severe, but calm, cold air, the member of the convention remained standing until the end of Mass and communion, and the farther the ceremony progressed, the more agitated were all hearts in the expectation of an event which could not but too well be foreseen.
When all was over, in fact, when the lights were hardly extinguished, the congregation cautiously slipped out one by one; then the stranger approached the priest who had recognized him, but who remained stoically calm. "Citizen priest," he said, "I have something to say to thee."
"Speak, my brother; how can I be of service to you?"
"It's a favor I must ask of thee, and I feel how ridiculous I am. The red is coming up into my face and I daren't say any more."
"My bearing and my ministry nevertheless are not of the kind to disturb you, and if any feeling of piety leads you to me—"
"Eh? That's exactly what it isn't. I don't know anything about religion; I don't want to know anything about it; I belong to those who have helped to destroy yours; but, for my misfortune, I have a daughter—"
"I don't see any misfortune in that," the priest interrupted.
"Wait, citizen, thou shalt see. We people, men of principles, we are the victims of our children; inflexible towards all in the maintenance of the ideas which we have formed for ourselves, we hesitate and we became children before the prayers and the tears of our children. I have then a daughter whom I have reared to be an honest woman and a true citizeness. I thought I had formed her to my image, and here I was grossly deceived.
"A solemn moment is approaching for her. With the new year, she marries a good young fellow, whom I myself selected for her husband. Everything was going right; the two children loved each other,—at least I thought so,—and everything was ready for the ceremony at the commune, when, this evening, my daughter threw herself at my feet, begging me to postpone her marriage.
"Surprised at first, I lifted her to her feet.
"'What! you don't love your intended?' I asked her.
"'Yes, father,' she replied, 'but I don't want to get married yet.'
"Pressed with questions on this strange caprice, she finally confessed her girlish idea. She wanted to wait, hoping that a day would come when she could get married, and have her union blessed in the church. My first burst of anger having passed, I cannot tell you all the fine reasons she gave me to obtain from me a thing so contrary to my rule of conduct. The marriage of her dead mother had been performed in the church; her memory required that pious action; she would not think herself married if it was not at the foot of the altar; she would prefer to remain single the rest of her days.
"She said so much, mingling her entreaties and tears with it all, that she vanquished me. She even showed me the retreat which a few days ago I would not have discovered with impunity to you all. I have come to seek thee out, and now I ask thee: Thou hast before thee thy persecutor: wilt thou bless according to thy rite, the marriage of his daughter?"
The worthy priest replied:—
"My ministry knows neither rancor nor exclusion; I am glad, besides, for what you ask of me; only one thing grieves me, and that is that the father should be hostile to his daughter's design."
"Thou mistakest: I understand all sentiments. That of a girl who wants to be married as her mother was, seems to me to be deserving of respect, and just now, I saw, there is something touching which I cannot explain in your ceremonies, and it has made me better understand her thought."
A few days later the same back shop contained a few intimate and conciliating friends who were attending a wedding. We need not say that from that day, whether through change of principles or through gratitude, the member of the revolutionary government was secretly the protector of the little church which could live on in peace, unknown to its persecutors.
The Hero of Lepanto.
"Every nation," it has been said, "makes most account of its own, and cares little for the heroes of other nations. Don John of Austria, as defender of Christendom, was the hero of all nations." He was the hero of "the battle of Lepanto which," as Alison remarks, "arrested forever the danger of Mahometan invasion in the south of Europe." As De Bonald adds, it was from that battle, that the decline of the Turkish power dates. "It cost the Turks more than the mere loss of ships and of men; they lost that moral force which is the mainstay of conquering nations."
It is not necessary in this sketch of the life of Don John, to enter into any details about the tedious negotiations which preceded the coalition of the naval forces of Spain, Venice, and the Pope. Suffice it to say, that repulsed from Malta by the heroism of the Knights of St. John, the Turks next turned their naval armaments against Cyprus, then held by the Venetians. Menaced in one of her most valuable possessions, the Republic of Venice, too long the half-hearted foe of the Turks, turned in her distress, for help to the Vatican and to the Escorial. St. Pius V. sat in the See of Peter. He turned no deaf ear to an appeal that seemed likely to bring about what the Roman Pontiffs had long desired—a new crusade against the Turks. Philip the Second, ever wary, ever dilatory, more able than the Pope to assist Venice, was less ready to do so. Spain would willingly have done what she could to destroy the Turkish power, but her monarch was not sorry to humble Venice, even to the profit of the infidel. So diplomatic delays and underhand intrigues delayed the relief of Cyprus, and the standard of the Sultan soon was hoisted over the walls of Famagusta—to remain there until replaced in our times—thanks to the wisdom of a great statesman—by the "meteor flag of England."
The terror caused by the fall of Cyprus, brought about after many negotiations, a league between the Republic, the Papacy, and the Spanish monarchy. A mighty naval armament was to be gathered together, and its commander was to be Don John of Austria. His success in subduing the Moriscoes naturally designated him, in spite of his extreme youth, for this high command. His operations, indeed, had been so far chiefly on land, but in the sixteenth century, a man might one day command a squadron of cavalry and on the next, a squadron of galleys. General and admiral were convertible terms. There was, indeed, some division of labor. Sailors navigated and soldiers fought the ship. And, as there is more resemblance between the row-galleys of Don John's epoch and the steam driven vessels of our times than there is between these and the ships which Nelson and Collingwood led to victory, perhaps we shall return to the old state of things and again send our soldiers to sea!
To return, however, to our hero, who has meanwhile subdued the Moriscoes and returned to Madrid before setting out to take command of the great fleet at Messina. One, however, there was who did not return with the Prince to Madrid, one who was no longer to be his "guide, philosopher, and friend." The faithful Quijada had been struck by a musket-ball in a fight at Seron, in which Don John himself, in rallying his troops, had a narrow escape. After a week of suffering, the brave knight expired in the arms of his foster-son, February 24, 1570. "We may piously trust," says the chronicler,[A] "that the soul of Don Luis rose up to heaven with the sweet incense which burned on the altars of St. Jerome at Caniles; for he spent his life, and finally lost it, in fighting like a valiant soldier of the faith."
Before relating the episodes of the great victory of Lepanto, it will not be inopportune to glance at one of the great evils, that of slavery, which the Turkish power entailed on so many thousands of Christians. Nowadays, thousands of travellers pass freely, to and fro, from the Straits of Gibraltar to the Suez Canal, and from one part of the Mediterranean to another. Our markets are supplied with fruits and vegetables from Algiers. Our Sovereign has no fears, except as to sanitary arrangements, when she sojourns on the northern shores of the Mediterranean. A cruise in an unarmed yacht on its waters is the pleasantest of pastimes. It is, therefore, hard for us to conceive what three centuries, nay, even three generations since, were the fears of those who dwelt along the coast of Southern France, of Spain, and of Italy, or, who, as pilgrims, merchants, or sailors navigated the blue waters of the inland sea. Every year, even after the battle of Lepanto, and still more before it, the corsairs of the northern coasts of Africa scoured the Mediterranean and carried into captivity hundreds of Christians, of all ages, nations, and of both sexes, from vessels they encountered or from villages along the shores of France, Italy, or Spain. Hence it is, that to this day, those shores are studded with the ruins of castles and forts, erected as defences against those corsairs. So great was, however, their boldness that even as late as the seventeenth century, Algerian pirates ventured as far as "the chops of the Channel."
When we read the annals of those religious orders devoted to the redemption of captives, we can more fully realize the terrible extent to which the Christian slave trade was carried by the infidels. As Englishmen, we do well to cherish the memory of Wilberforce. As Catholics we should not forget the religious men who risked all, slavery, disease, and death, to rescue Christians from the chains of slavery. Let us recall to mind a few facts about them. One single house of the Trinitarians, that of Toledo, during the first four centuries of its existence, ransomed one hundred and twenty-four thousand Christian slaves. The Order of Mercy, during a similar period, procured freedom for nearly five hundred thousand slaves. As to the number of slaves in captivity at one time, it may be mentioned that Charles the Fifth released thirty thousand by his expedition against Tunis, and about half as many were set free by the battle of Lepanto. It was estimated that in the Regency of Algiers, there was an average of thirty thousand slaves detained there. As late as 1767, in Algiers itself, there were two thousand Christians in chains. Of such slaves many were women, many mere boys and girls. And as late as 1816, Lord Exmouth, after the bombardment of Algiers, set many Christian slaves free. It is, as we said, hard to realize that in times almost within the memory of living men, Christians toiled in chains for the infidel, in the way some may have seen depicted by pictures in the Louvre. Similar pictures are kept in the old church of St. Giles, at Bruges, where a confraternity existed for the redemption of captives. This association is still represented in the parochial processions, by a group of children. Some are dressed as white-robed Trinitarians, leading those they have redeemed from slavery. Others are gorgeously attired as Turkish slave owners; others represent Turkish guards, leading Christian slaves, coarsely garbed and bound with chains. Happily Lepanto made such sights as these the processions of Bruges commemorate, of less frequent occurrence, until at length they have been relegated to pageantry, and the once powerful Turk is simply suffered to linger on European soil, because the jealousies of Christian nations will not allow of his expulsion.
Salamis, Actium, Lepanto and Trafalgar are the four greatest naval battles of history and of these Lepanto was perhaps the greatest. Salamis turned back the invasion of the East; Actium created the Roman empire; Trafalgar was the first heavy blow dealt against a despotism that threatened to strangle Europe. Lepanto, however, saved Europe from a worse fate—the domination of the Turk. The name of this great victory is derived from the picturesque town, with its mediaeval defences still left, of Naupaktos which the modern Greek designates as Epokte, and the Italian as Lepanto. The engagement, however, was in reality fought at the entrance of the Gulf of Patras, ten leagues westward from the town.
The facts of the fight of the seventh of October—a Sunday—of the year 1571, are so well-known, that we need merely recall to the memory of our readers the leading features of the contest. Spain, Venice, Genoa, Malta, and the Papal States were represented there, but "the meteor flag of England" was not unfurled in sight of the Turkish, nor were the fleurs-de-lys to be seen on the standards that gaily floated from the mast-heads of the great Christian armada. England, alas! was in the clutches of a wretched woman, and France was on the eve of a St. Bartholomew's Massacre, and for all that France and England cared, at that time, Europe might have become Mahommedan.
Don John led the centre of the long line—three miles in length—of galleys, while on his right, Doria the great Genoese admiral, from whose masts waved the cross of St. George; and on the left, the brave Barbarigo, the Venetian, his flank protected by the coast commanded. Against the wind, the sun shooting its bright rays against the ships, the Turkish fleet, in half-moon formation, two hundred and fifty great galleys and many smaller craft, carrying one hundred and twenty thousand men, slowly advanced "in battle's magnificently stern array." The brave Ali Pacha led the van.
As the hostile fleets met, the two admirals exchanged shots. At noon, the Christians, among whom was one of the greatest soldiers and one of the ablest authors of that age—Farnese and Cervantes—knelt to receive absolution from their chaplains, and then rose up to fight. In many a quiet village away in the Appenines, or in the Sierras of more distant Spain, the Angelus was ringing, and many a heartfelt prayer was aiding the Christian cause, then a wild cry arose from the Moslem fleet and "from mouth to mouth" of the cannon the "volley'd thunder flew." The combat deepened and became hand to hand. The two admirals ships grappled together in a deadly struggle. Don John, foremost in the fray, was slightly wounded. At a third attempt, Ali Pacha's galley was boarded, captured, himself slain, and the Standard of the Cross replaced the Crescent. Victory! Victory! was the cry from one Christian ship to another. In less than four hours, the Turkish ships were scattered, sunk, or burning, until darkness and storm drove Don John to seek shelter in port, and hid the wreckage with which man had strewn the sea. The Christian loss was eight thousand, the Turkish four or five times greater. Don John hastened to console and comfort his wounded. Did he not, perchance, visit, on his bed of suffering, the immortal Cervantes? After the wounded, he turned to his prisoners, whom he treated with a generosity to which the sixteenth century was little accustomed.
One there was, let us not forget it, who not bodily present, had a lion's share in the victory. A second Moses, with uplifted hands, St. Pius V., had prayed God and Our Lady, to aid Don John's arms. "The night before the battle, and the day itself, aged as he was, and broken with disease, the Saint had passed in the Vatican in fasting and prayer. All through the Holy City the monasteries and the colleges were in prayer too. As the evening advanced, the Pontifical treasurer asked an audience of the Sovereign Pontiff on an important matter. Pius was in his bedroom, and began to converse with him; when suddenly he stopped the conversation, left him, threw open the window, and gazed up into heaven. Then closing it again, he looked gravely at his official, and said, "This is no time for business; go, return thanks to the Lord God. In this very hour our fleet has engaged the Turkish, and is victorious." As the treasurer went out, he saw him fall on his knees before the altar in thankfulness and joy."
The great writer, from whom we have taken the above account of St. Pius the Fifth's supernatural knowledge of the victory, remarks "that the victories gained over the Turks since are but the complements and the reverberations of the overthrow at Lepanto."
Here we may take leave of the hero of Lepanto, leaving him in the midst of his glory, receiving the thanks of Christendom, from the lips of a Saint—its Supreme Pontiff. We need not follow Don John of Austria on his expedition against Tunis—a barren conquest his too imaginative mind dreamed of converting into a great African empire. Nor need we follow him when he goes, disguised as a Moorish page, accompanied by a single cavalier, to undertake the bootless task of pacifying the revolted Netherlands. The incidents and intrigues of this task rather belong to the history of the Low Countries than to the story of our hero. In the midst of them, worn out by too ardent a spirit, or stricken by an epidemic, Don John expired, in his camp near Namur, at the early age of thirty-two, on October 1, 1578. The task of saving a part of the revolted provinces to the Spanish crown, he left to the strong arm and genius of his cousin Alexander Farnese.
Don John's desire was to be buried beside his father in Spain. His body, says Strada, was dismembered and secretly carried across France, onwards to Madrid, where it was, as it were, reconstructed and decked with armor to be shown to Philip, who might well weep at such ghastly display. The heart of the hero is kept, to this day, behind the high altar of the Cathedral of Namur.
Generous, high-spirited, courageous, he was a true knight-errant, the "last Crusader whom the annals of chivalry were to know; the man who had humbled the crescent as it had not been humbled since the days of the Tancreds, the Baldwins, the Plantagenets." Endowed with a brilliant imagination, he dreamed of founding an African empire, and it faded away as the mirage of some oasis amid the deserts of the dark continent. With his sword, he thought to free, some day, Mary Queen of Scots, from her prison, and to place her on the throne held by Elizabeth. But the object of his ravings died on the scaffold, while he himself passed away, leaving behind him little more for history to record than that he was the brilliant young soldier—the Hero of Lepanto.
W. C. R. in Catholic Progress.
[A] Hita, "Guerras de Granada," quoted by Prescott, "Philip" II., III., 133.
The Church and Progress.
One of the favorite mottoes of revolutionists consists in the formula, "The Catholic Church is opposed to the progress of the age;" and the general tone of the day's literature, apt in adopting popular cries, criticises the Church as the arch-opponent of every effort of the human intellect. The foundation of this charge may be broadly rested on two counts, radically differing in their nature, and which I may be allowed to state thus: First, there is a large class nowadays, and this genus is always especially rampant and noisy, that uses the current shibboleths, "Civilization," "Liberty," "Equality," "Fraternity," etc., either with sinister designs beneath them, or, if dupes,—and it amounts to the same in the long run,—then without at all knowing what those words mean. With that large vision that usually characterizes her in matters even not of faith, and which makes her hated by political quacks and mad sciolists, the Church detects the real objects and aims of these innovators, and is not afraid of facing obloquy by condemning them in spite of their false banners. For this attitude we have no excuse to offer; we glory in it, and regard it as a sign of that innate divine energy and life imparted to her by the source of all life and power. The second count on which this charge is based may be found in the utterance of private Catholics, or in that of prelates and bodies, in the latter of whom is lodged a power that extorts obedience, it is true, and ought always to be treated with respect, but which can claim to act in no infallible manner, and which, in pronouncing on matters outside the domain of faith, must rest upon the suggestions of reason and external evidence alone. For instance, Catholics are often confronted with extracts from this or that author, or the pronouncements of this or that provincial council, and asked to say whether, after that, the Church may pretend not to be opposed to the natural aspirations of man? These objectors do not, or will not, see that the Church, by enlarging the domain of her teaching to cover all things with the mantle of infallibility, would most effectually crush the action of the human intellect, which was meant for use, not rust, which must be allowed something to act upon, and which in independent action is bound to rush into a variety of differences according to the bent of the individual mind. However, to answer thus merely opens up a multitude of questions, and launches one into a sea of chaos, across which he will have to sail without chart or compass. Accordingly, I usually answer that these various utterances of individuals and provincial bodies are not infallible; that the only utterance absolutely binding on the conscience of the Catholic is that of a general council with the Pope at its head, or that of the Pope speaking ex cathedra; and that all the other acts of men or bodies, high or low, are subject in their degrees to human infirmity, though we are to receive them with respect and judicious obedience, and that at most they are but temporary in time and limited in space.
No idea could be more extravagant or more unjust than that usually entertained by Protestants on our doctrine of the Pope's infallibility.
They imagine that a Catholic dares not utter a word upon any subject until the Pope has spoken. Or, if they advance beyond this, that he dares not say anything about religion except what comes direct from Rome. Or, if they can stretch their imagination to realize that the Pope speaks only after discussion, that we must look to have our every word snatched at, and a damper put upon us, before we have well begun. This last is the central objection of intelligent Protestants, who know well that it will never do to fly in the face of facts like their more ignorant neighbors. They have taken the trouble to examine the definition of the dogma; and it cannot be denied that to their minds it does bear this sense. Any one familiar with the minute despotism of those thousand little Protestant Popes, the reverend offspring of the "Reformation," would see at once what a charter such authority would put in the hands of a set of Chadbands only too eager to use it. Enlightened Protestants have begun to feel the burden of this one idea, dead-dragging officialism, and to kick against it. They are probably religious men, by which I mean men with devout minds, who earnestly feel the need of belief. They become inquirers, run through the sects nearest at hand, and finally come before the Church and gaze upon her. Written on her front they see "Infallibility." Here lies their stumbling-block. They begin to question. Arguments are exhausted on each side, and if they be deeply imbued with the knowledge that there is a God, with the consciousness thence following of their fallen nature, and with an ardent hope to re-unite themselves to God, they will admit, perhaps, the truth of the dogma, viewed in the abstract. But they will say, how will it work in practical affairs? Judging by their former experience, they will picture the Pope as a thousand Protestant preachers rolled into one, and invested with an authority undreamed of before, and using that authority to tyrannize over the least thoughts of men. What room, they will exclaim, will men have to advance in the arts and science, not to speak of development of doctrine, if this incubus is to rest upon them, and weigh them down, and terrify them into silence and inaction?
The best answer to this is doubtless an enlarged view of Catholic Christendom, from the earliest times down, for in that period the Pope did possess the prerogative of infallibility, though it has only recently been defined as a dogma. Here it must be recollected that I am not arguing; it would be mere presumption in me to attempt a scientific exposition altogether out of my power. Suffice it to say, that theologians have exhausted the inward reasonings upon it, and though I am not able to set them forth, I am at least convinced by them. Still the concrete world remains, and things are to be seen in them from historical and exterior aspects. It is this last which strikes the imagination most, and to all men a ready test. Minds have various ways of approaching the truth; and right reason has a way of arguing and apprehending simply impossible to men in bulk and to myself. For which I have thought it not unuseful to draw out my way of viewing the historical aspects of the Church in relation to the progress and freedom of man; and perhaps many will look at the subject from a similar standpoint.
Why I believe in God I cannot express in words. Only I know there is an inward monitor constantly reminding me of that fact, vividly impressing it on my imagination, and punishing me with the lash of remorse when I do wrong. I have never doubted when the matter was brought home to my mind. Still, there are periods when this intense conviction has been clean wiped out of me; else, how could I have sinned, as I know I have done, and feel this keen remorse? I do not see how men can sin with the full consciousness that a God of truth, purity, and justice is looking upon them with terrible eyes. This is the reason for my faith; conscience is the charter of my belief. Far be it from me to deny the arguments drawn by great intellects from the outward course of events, and which appeal, perhaps, to most minds, as evidence of a Creator and Sustainer of the universe. I can only say they do not touch me, nor cause the revivified life to relieve the winter of my desolation, and the leaves and buds of the new spring to bloom within me. For when I look forth into the world, all things—even my own wretched life—seem simply to give the lie to the great truth which possesses and fills my being. Consider the world in its length and breadth, its contradictory history, its blind evolution, the greatness and littleness of man, his random acquirements, aimless achievements, ruthless causes, the triumph of evil, the defeat of good, the depth and intensity and prevalence of sin, the all-degrading idolatries, the all-defiling corruptions, the monstrous superstitions, the dreary irreligion—is not the whole a picture dreadful to look upon, capricious as chance, rigid as fate, pale as malady, dark as doom? How shall we face this fact, witnessed to by innumerable men in all ages and times, as the natural lot of their kind? Much more so when suffering falls upon us, as it does inevitably on all, and forces upon us an attempt to solve the riddle of our chaotic existence?
There is only one way out of the difficulty. If there is a God, the source of all truth and goodness, how else can we account for this desperate condition of his highest creation, except we admit man's fallen condition? It is thus that the doctrine of original sin is as clear to me as is the existence of God.
But, now, supposing that God intended to interfere with this state of things, and to draw his prodigal children to Him again, would it not be expected that He would do so in a powerful, original, manifest, and continuous new creation set amid His old? So intensely is this felt, that atheists have drawn an argument from it against the Creator, and their feeling is expressed by Paine, when he says, that if there be a revelation from God, it ought to be written on the sun. So it should; so it is. So was it gloriously shining forth once, in a city set upon a hill, full of noon-day splendor, and visible to the eyes of all. Still is it there, discernible to the eye of faith; but clouds obscure the sun on occasions, and the miserable doings of the sixteenth century have hid its light to uncounted millions.
And, now, where shall I find that shining light, that overcoming power, which my reason tells me to expect? I quote the words of one who sought for many years and at last found:—
"This power, viewed in its fulness, is as tremendous as the giant evil which has called it forth. It claims, when brought into exercise in the legitimate manner, for otherwise, of course, it is but dormant, to have for itself a sure guidance into the very meaning of every portion of the Divine Message in detail, which was committed by our Lord to His Apostles. It claims to know its own limits, and to decide what it can determine absolutely and what it cannot. It claims, moreover, to have a hold upon statements not directly religious, so far as this, to determine whether they indirectly relate to religion, and, according to its own definitive judgment, to pronounce whether or not, in a particular case, they are consistent with revealed truth. It claims to decide magisterially, whether infallibly or not, that such and such statements are or are not prejudicial to the Apostolical depositum of faith, in their spirit or in their consequences, and to allow them, or condemn and forbid them accordingly. It claims to impose silence at will on any matters, or controversies, of doctrine, which on its own ipse dixit it pronounces to be dangerous, or inexpedient, or inopportune. It claims that whatever may be the judgment of Catholics upon such acts, these acts should be received by them with those outward marks of reverence, submission, and loyalty, which Englishmen, for instance, pay to the presence of their sovereign, without public criticism upon them, as being in their matter inexpedient, or in their manner violent or harsh. And lastly, it claims to have the right of inflicting spiritual punishment, of cutting off from the ordinary channels of divine life, and of simply excommunicating those who refuse to submit themselves to its formal declarations. Such is the infallibility lodged in the Catholic Church, viewed in the concrete, as clothed and surrounded by the appendages of its high sovereignty; it is, to repeat what I said above, a supereminent prodigious power sent upon earth to encounter and master a giant evil."[B]
Such is the weapon placed by divine power in the hands of the Church for her conflict with the world. And this being so, the inquiring Protestant, after realizing its tremendous nature and scope, will draw back perplexed, imagining that a weight like it would crush the human intellect. He does this only because he loses sight for the moment of the terrible power of the earth giant. The human intellect is no baby, weakening under every stroke; it is a tough, wild, elastic energy, struggling up in every direction, and is never more itself than when suffering beneath the blows of heaven. Moreover, its natural tendency is to explain away every dogma of religious truth, from the lowest to the highest. In that old pagan world this natural process is to be seen. Everywhere that human genius opened up a way for itself, and had a career, the last remnants of primeval truth were well-nigh banished. Look, too, at the educated intellect of the non-Catholic world to-day. Genius, talent, eloquence, and art, what are they in England, Germany and France, if we may not describe them as simply godless? Why is this?
Now turn your gaze on the Middle Ages, and observe the difference. It is scarcely necessary to say that in those times the Church was pre-eminent, not only having the spiritual power, but often also the secular. If she had wished it, she could have crushed out every form of inquiry, and firmly established herself as the one and only source of all truth. But she did not do it. Never since the world began were such daring inquiries set on foot, such subtile propositions offered, such a vast and varied display of the human intellect in all the departments of theology. The office she claimed was that of arbiter; and surely nothing was more reasonable. A man would work out some original view or deduction; he hoped it was true, but could not be certain; he would put it forth; it would be taken up by an opponent, come before some theological authority of minor note, pass on to some university, be adopted by it and opposed by some other; higher authorities would be appealed to, and at last the subject would appear before the Holy See. Then, perhaps, no decision would be made, or a dubious one, or minor details would be rectified, and so the whole matter sent back for a new discussion. Years and years would pass before anything like a final decision would be reached; and then, when every defect had been rubbed off, and every minute bearing of the matter evolved, the Church would either reject it, or adopt it, and stamp it with the seal of dogma. I say this is an epitome of doctrinal development in the Catholic Church. If there is any one thing more manifest in her ecclesiastical history than others, it is her extreme slowness and caution in final pronouncement, and the general wise treatment with which she has fostered the growth of mental development, so excellent in itself, so erratic in its courses, and so needful of her strong guiding hand.
Indeed, it has been used as a reproach against her that Rome has originated nothing. It is true. It was not her function. She was instituted as the guardian of the Apostolical depositum of faith, over which, of course, her control was supreme; and her jurisdiction was to extend over all other subjects, because they necessarily touched this. But without citing other names, St. Augustine and St. Thomas Aquinas stand forth as the formers of the western intellect. Men saintly in character they were, but they had no special relations to the central See, and were only fallible mortals like the rest of their fellows; yet, as I say, they are to be counted the very originators of modern Christian thought. Rome did nothing but stamp their teachings with the seal of her approval. So was it throughout. Her work has been to check and balance the erratic courses of the human mind, allowing it free play within certain limits, but firmly preventing its suicidal excesses. How tenderly has she dealt with schismatics; how forbearing has been her conduct in regard even to the worst heretics; patiently hearing all they had to say, allowing the force of their plea where it was possible, and only casting them out when they proved incorrigible.
Most Protestants suppose that whereas there are two religious principles at work in Christianity, private judgment, and authority, they have all the private judgment, while we are weighed down by an unmitigated authority. Nothing could be more false. This aspect of Christianity is complete without them; they represent simply a negation, and no positive force at all. Show me the doctrine that Protestantism has originated, and it will then deserve to be treated in a philosophical manner. It has had no innate life, nothing to develop from, and has simply withered down from the first, until now the advance guard of it has reached the shadowy ground of natural religion, and Mr. James Antony Froude, its special champion in its past acts, can write that it is dead. On the contrary, when I view the external aspect of Catholicism as a whole, I behold within it the active forces of life at work from the first. The human intellect is no passive instrument, merely being filled by the reception of faith, but a living organism, feeling a void in it for faith when it has it not, and eagerly receiving and digesting it when it comes. Forthwith it begins a process of development, explaining, proving, modifying, enlarging, in all the various ways that suit the multiplicity of man's nature. This process is observable in all times and places, as the inevitable outcome of civilization. Barbarous nations do not reason, but receive their religion as an outer cloak; as they stagnate in all things else, so also in their creeds. Witness the Turks. Intellectually, morally, religiously, they are the same as they were six hundred years ago; and unless overthrown from the outside, they will probably so remain to the end of time. No heresy has arisen amongst them; no progress in civilization is to be marked; no change even in decline; for power is relative, and the Moslem empire is weak now only in comparison with the vigorous young empires of the West. But the action of civilization is different. Under its influence States are in constant movement, changing from day to day. The change may be good in this detail, and bad in that; it may on the whole be for the good, or it may on the whole be for evil. But what I say is the distinct mark of civilization, as contrasted with barbarism, is emphatically and simply change; change, in the natural order, is its law. For the intellect is alive and vigorous, seizing on everything within its scope, shaping it by its individual bent, and, hemmed as it is by walls of sense, naturally rushing into error on every side. These are effects of private judgment, and they are not less to be seen in the whole Catholic world, from its beginning until, to-day, than anywhere else; but Catholics have had a safeguard against the rebellious and suicidal excesses of fallen reason, and this safeguard is the infallibility of the Church.
The meaning and scope of that infallibility has been given in words fitter than mine. Viewing the nature of things on the whole, and then taking it for granted that God has made a revelation, and intended it to be set up and maintained alongside of and within a civilization anxious to get rid of it, what more reasonable to be expected than that an infallible abiding authority should be His human instrument. It is a thing we should be led to expect if it did not exist; as is fully proved by Paine's saying about its being written on the sun. How convincingly, then, is the truth forced home on us, when we do learn that there is an institution that exactly fulfils our foregone conclusion!
So far as theory goes, the infallibility of the Church can be a burden to none; so far as actual facts go, it has not demonstrably, to my knowledge, acted as a damper on intellectual effort, but merely as the restrainer of its excesses.
I shall be quite candid in giving my views on this inexhaustible subject, merely letting them stand for what they are worth, and knowing full well that there are depths in it, as in all things else, not to be sounded by me. And I shall now go on to state what are the real difficulties and burdens to me, as to many other Catholics perhaps, in this doctrine of infallibility; always premising that ten thousand difficulties do not make one doubt. And here some may be inclined to say that, as touching the papal headship of it, the evil deeds of many Popes and their apparently immoral lives, do inevitably tend to throw discredit on it as being lodged in them. But let all that can be said be admitted; what then? Why, I answer, David was a man after God's own heart, and stood nearer to Him as being inspired than any Pope as being infallible; yet one of God's Prophets could say to him, "Thou art the man!" The lesson of which is not to judge men's inner lives entirely by outward facts, as the young and inexperienced are too apt to do. Our Blessed Lord foretold scandals to come in the very sanctuary of His dwelling, and we know the doom pronounced upon those by whom they come. And if we view the action of these individuals in relation to the Apostolical depositum, we can actually draw thence an argument awful as it is startling. These Popes, so frail as men, were yet wise as the Vicars of Christ; never have they dared lay hands on the faith committed to their care.
The difficulty lies in another direction. As has already been explained, the Church claims infallibility only in matters of faith; but a little reflection will show us that there are many things not coming directly under this head yet appertaining to it. In these latter she claims unquestioning outward obedience at least. Thus she has the right to determine when any scientific theory or other controversy bears upon matters of faith, or has a dangerous tendency to do so; also to check the usurpation of State, when they begin to reach in this direction; and in the exercise of this prerogative she is not guarded from error. I have already shown how slow, cautious and gentle, has been her dealing on the whole with controversies that do relate to faith; much more so has she been in the kindred but outer domain. Still, to our fallible reason, it may sometimes appear that she acts hastily and wrongly in forbidding certain things. She forbids at one epoch what she allows in another; tacitly withdrawing the former condemnation. This, I repeat, is a difficulty, and, stated baldly thus, must often perplex even Catholics.
But let our opponents be as candid as I have been. Let them admit—what is no more than a fact—that this prerogative of the Church has been exercised very seldom; and that even on the most of these occasions, the Church has in the end proved to be in the right, and the supposed martyr in the wrong. Things are not to be judged simply in themselves, but a course of events prove them; and there is a season for all matters, and a season when they are not in order. This right or power is a necessity to every constituted body of whatever kind. A State, for instance, may wrongly condemn a man for some offence; but that is no argument against the State having the right of judging in such matters, even if it must incur the danger of wrong judgment once more. If this prerogative were taken from the Church, all outside the simple domain of faith would fall into a mere chaos. Now, let the man who holds that this would be as it should be, let him consistently carry out his doctrine into all the concerns of life, and a hideous chaos would be the result. Has not such been the result in religious matters outside the Catholic Church? And as chaos has resulted there from revolt against the constituted authority, so would it be in society at large, were the theory consistently carried out. To say that non-infallible exercise of authority should, on account of occasional error, be resisted and overthrown, is simply suicidal; and an objection founded on it is no more than an objection founded on the fact of evil in man's nature, of which it is a necessary part. And into this bottomless pit of doubt I for one do not purpose to fall.
Let the problem, then, be fully grasped. It is to secure sufficient liberty and a stable authority. Freedom in itself is a good; but such is man's fallen nature, that it cannot be enjoyed without a partial sacrifice of itself, which it yields up to authority. This becomes the domain of authority, and the two interact on each other. So much is clear; but conflicts arise, and the precise issue is, not exactly between the two, but as to where their boundaries meet. We Catholics believe that we hold the solution in our hands, and I shall now merely state how I look at it, admitting, of course, that I may be in incidental error.