Part 2 out of 5
Yet we must eat and drink, as you say. And as limited beings
Scarcely can hope to attain upon earth to an Actual Abstract,
Leaving to God contemplation, to His hands knowledge confiding,
Sure that in us if it perish, in Him it abideth and dies not,
Let us in His sight accomplish our petty particular doings,--
Yes, and contented sit down to the victual that He has provided.
Allah is great, no doubt, and Juxtaposition his prophet.
Ah, but the women, alas, they don't look at it in that way!
Juxtaposition is great;--but, my friend, I fear me, the maiden
Hardly would thank or acknowledge the lover that sought to obtain her,
Not as the thing he would wish, but the thing he must even put up
Hardly would tender her hand to the wooer that candidly told her
That she is but for a space, an _ad-interim_ solace and
That in the end she shall yield to a perfect and absolute something,
Which I then for myself shall behold, and not another,--
Which amid fondest endearments, meantime I forget not, forsake not.
Ah, ye feminine souls, so loving and so exacting,
Since we cannot escape, must we even submit to deceive you?
Since, so cruel is truth, sincerity shocks and revolts you,
Will you have us your slaves to lie to you, Hatter and--leave you?
VII.--CLAUDE TO EUSTACE.
Juxtaposition is great,--but, you tell me, affinity greater.
Ah, my friend, there are many affinities, greater and lesser,
Stronger and weaker; and each, by the favor of juxtaposition,
Potent, efficient, in force,--for a time; but none, let me tell you,
Save by the law of the land and the ruinous force of the will, ah,
None, I fear me, at last quite sure to be final and perfect.
Lo, as I pace in the street, from the peasant-girl to the princess,
_Homo sum, nihil humani a me alienum puto,--
Vir sum, nihil faeminei_,--and e'en to the uttermost circle,
All that is Nature's is I, and I all things that are Nature's.
Yes, as I walk, I behold, in aluminous, large intuition,
That I can be and become anything that I meet with or look at:
I am the ox in the dray, the ass with the garden-stuff panniers;
I am the dog in the doorway, the kitten that plays in the window,
Here on the stones of the ruin the furtive and fugitive lizard,
Swallow above me that twitters, and fly that is buzzing about me;
Yea, and detect, as I go, by a faint, but a faithful assurance,
E'en from the stones of the street, as from rocks or trees of the
Something of kindred, a common, though latent vitality, greet me,
And, to escape from our strivings, mistakings, misgrowths, and
Fain could demand to return to that perfect and primitive silence,
Fain be enfolded and fixed, as of old, in their rigid embraces.
VIII.--CLAUDE TO EUSTACE.
And as I walk on my way, I behold them consorting and coupling;
Faithful it seemeth, and fond, very fond, very probably faithful;
And I proceed on my way with a pleasure sincere and unmingled.
Life is beautiful, Eustace, entrancing, enchanting to look at;
As are the streets of a city we pace while the carriage is changing,
As is a chamber filled-in with harmonious, exquisite pictures,
Even so beautiful Earth; and could we eliminate only
This vile hungering impulse, this demon within us of craving,
Life were beatitude, living a perfect divine satisfaction.
IX.--CLAUDE TO EUSTACE.
_Mild monastic faces in quiet collegiate cloisters:_
So let me offer a single and celibatarian phrase a
Tribute to those whom perhaps you do not believe I can honor.
But, from the tumult escaping, 'tis pleasant, of drumming and
Hither, oblivious awhile, to withdraw, of the fact or the falsehood,
And amid placid regards and mildly courteous greetings
Yield to the calm and composure and gentle abstraction that reign o'er
_Mild monastic faces in quiet collegiate cloisters._
Terrible word, Obligation! You should not, Eustace, you should not,
No, you should not have used it. But, O great Heavens, I repel it!
Oh, I cancel, reject, disavow, and repudiate wholly
Every debt in this kind, disclaim every claim, and dishonor,
Yea, my own heart's own writing, my soul's own signature! Ah, no!
I will be free in this; you shall not, none shall, bind me.
No, my friend, if you wish to be told, it was this above all things,
This that charmed me, ah, yes, even this, that she held me to nothing.
No, I could talk as I pleased; come close; fasten ties, as I fancied;
Bind and engage myself deep;--and lo, on the following morning
It was all e'en as before, like losings in games played for nothing.
Yes, when I came, with mean fears in my soul, with a semi-performance
At the first step breaking down in its pitiful role of evasion,
When to shuffle I came, to compromise, not meet, engagements,
Lo, with her calm eyes there she met me and knew nothing of it,--
Stood unexpecting, unconscious. _She_ spoke not of obligations,
Knew not of debt,--ah, no, I believe you, for excellent reasons.
X.--CLAUDE TO EUSTACE.
Hang this thinking, at last! what good is it? oh, and what evil!
Oh, what mischief and pain! like a clock in a sick man's chamber,
Ticking and ticking, and still through each covert of slumber
What shall I do to thee, O thou Preserver of Men? Have compassion!
Be favorable, and hear! Take from me this regal knowledge!
Let me, contented and mute, with the beasts of the field, my brothers,
Tranquilly, happily lie,--and eat grass, like Nebuchadnezzar!
XI.--CLAUDE TO EUSTACE.
Tibur is beautiful, too, and the orchard slopes, and the Anio
Falling, falling yet, to the ancient lyrical cadence;
Tibur and Anio's tide; and cool from Lucretilis ever,
With the Digentian stream, and with the Bandusian fountain,
Folded in Sabine recesses, the valley and villa of Horace:--
So not seeing I sung; so seeing and listening say I,
Here as I sit by the stream, as I gaze at the cell of the Sibyl,
Here with Albunea's home and the grove of Tiburnus beside me.[A]
Tivoli beautiful is, and musical, O Teverone,
Dashing from mountain to plain, thy parted impetuous waters!
Tivoli's waters and rocks; and fair under Monte Gennaro,
(Haunt even yet, I must think, as I wonder and gaze, of the shadows,
Faded and pale, yet immortal, of Faunus, the Nymphs, and the Graces,)
Fair in itself, and yet fairer with human completing creations,
Folded in Sabine recesses the valley and villa of Horace:--
So not seeing I sung; so now,--nor seeing, nor hearing,
Neither by waterfall lulled, nor folded in sylvan embraces,
Neither by cell of the Sibyl, nor stepping the Monte Gennaro,
Seated on Anio's bank, nor sipping Bandusian waters,
But on Montorio's height, looking down on the tile-clad streets, the
Cupolas, crosses, and domes, the bushes and kitchen-gardens,
Which, by the grace of the Tiber, proclaim themselves Rome of the
But on Montorio's height, looking forth to the vapory mountains,
Cheating the prisoner Hope with illusions of vision and fancy,--
But on Montorio's height, with these weary soldiers by me,
Waiting till Oudinot enter, to reinstate Pope and Tourist.
----domus Albuneae resonantis,
Et praeceps Anio, et Tiburni lucus, et uda
Mobilibus pomaria rivis.]
XII.--MARY TREVELLYN TO MISS ROPER.
Dear Miss Roper,--It seems, George Vernon, before we left Rome, said
Something to Mr. Claude about what they call his attentions.
Susan, two nights ago, for the first time, heard this from Georgina.
It is _so_ disagreeable, and so annoying, to think of!
If it could only be known, though we never may meet him again, that
It was all George's doing and we were entirely unconscious,
It would extremely relieve--Your ever affectionate Mary.
Here is your letter arrived this moment, just as I wanted.
So you have seen him,--indeed,--and guessed,--how dreadfully clever!
What did he really say? and what was your answer exactly?
Charming!--but wait for a moment, I have not read through the letter.
Ah, my dearest Miss Roper, do just as you fancy about it.
If you think it sincerer to tell him I know of it, do so.
Though I should most extremely dislike it, I know I could manage.
It is the simplest thing, but surely wholly uncalled for.
Do as you please; you know I trust implicitly to you.
Say whatever is right and needful for ending the matter.
Only don't tell Mr. Claude, what I will tell you as a secret,
That I should like very well to show him myself I forget it.
I am to say that the wedding is finally settled for Tuesday.
Ah, my dear Miss Roper, you surely, surely can manage
Not to let it appear that I know of that odious matter.
It would be pleasanter far for myself to treat it exactly
As if it had not occurred; and I do not think he would like it.
I must remember to add, that as soon as the wedding is over
We shall be off, I believe, in a hurry, and travel to Milan,
There to meet friends of Papa's, I am told, at the Croce di Malta;
Then I cannot say whither, but not at present to England.
XIII.--CLAUDE TO EUSTACE.
Yes, on Montorio's height for a last farewell of the city,--
So it appears; though then I was quite uncertain about it.
So, however, it was. And now to explain the proceeding.
I was to go, as I told you, I think, with the people to Florence.
Only the day before, the foolish family Vernon
Made some uneasy remarks, as we walked to our lodging together,
As to intentions, forsooth, and so forth. I was astounded,
Horrified quite; and obtaining just then, as it chanced, an offer
(No common favor) of seeing the great Ludovisi collection,
Why, I made this a pretence, and wrote that they must excuse me.
How could I go? Great Heaven! to conduct a permitted flirtation
Under those vulgar eyes, the observed of such observers!
Well, but I now, by a series of fine diplomatic inquiries,
Find from a sort of relation, a good and sensible woman,
Who is remaining at Rome with a brother too ill for removal,
That it was wholly unsanctioned, unknown,--not, I think, by Georgina:
She, however, ere this,--and that is the best of the story,--
She and the Vernon, thank Heaven, are wedded and gone--honey-mooning.
So--on Montorio's height for a last farewell of the city.
Tibur I have not seen, nor the lakes that of old I had dreamt of;
Tibur I shall not see, nor Anio's waters, nor deep en-
Folded in Sabine recesses the valley and villa of Horace;
Tibur I shall not see;--but something better I shall see.
Twice I have tried before, and failed in getting the horses;
Twice I have tried and failed: this time it shall not be a failure.
* * * * *
Therefore farewell, ye hills, and ye, ye envineyarded ruins!
Therefore farewell, ye walls, palaces, pillars, and domes!
Therefore farewell, far seen, ye peaks of the mythic Albano,
Seen from Montorio's height, Tibur and Aesula's hills!
Ah, could we once, ere we go, could we stand, while, to ocean
Sinks o'er the yellow dark plain slowly the yellow broad sun,
Stand, from the forest emerging at sunset, at once in the champaign,
Open, but studded with trees, chestnuts umbrageous and old,
E'en in those fair open fields that incurve to thy beautiful hollow,
Nemi, imbedded in wood, Nemi, inurned in the hill!--
Therefore farewell, ye plains, and ye hills, and the City Eternal!
Therefore farewell! We depart, but to behold you again!
[To be continued.]
THE CATACOMBS OF ROME.
Vix fama nota est, abditis
Quam plena sancti Roma sit;
Quam dives urbanum solum
Sacris sepulchris floreat.
Mille victoriose chiare palme.
The results of the investigations in the catacombs during the last three
or four years have well rewarded the zeal of their explorers. Since the
great work of the French government was published, in 1851-55, very
curious and important discoveries have been made, and many new minor
facts brought to light. The interest in the investigations has become
more general, and no visit to Rome is now complete without a visit to
one at least of the catacombs. Strangely enough, however, the Romans
themselves, for the most part, feel less concern in these new
revelations of their underground city than the strangers who come from
year to year to make their pilgrimages to Rome. It is an old complaint,
that the Romans care little for their city. "Who are there to-day," says
Petrarch, in one of his letters, "more ignorant of Roman things than the
Roman citizens? And nowhere is Rome less known than in Rome itself." It
is, however, to the Cavaliere de Rossi, himself a Roman, that the most
important of these discoveries are due,--the result of his marvellous
learning and sagacity, and of his hard-working and unwearied energy. The
discovery of the ancient entrance to the Catacombs of St. Callixtus,
and of the chapel within, where St. Cecilia was originally buried, is
a piece of the very romance of Archaeology. The whole history of St
Cecilia, the glorious Virgin Martyr and the Saint of Music, as connected
with the catacombs, is, indeed, one of the most curious to be found in
the annals of the Church. Legend and fact are strangely mingled in it,
and over it hangs a perplexing mist of doubt, but not so dense as wholly
to conceal all certainty. It is a story of suffering, of piety, of
enthusiasm, of superstition, and of science;--it connects itself in many
points with the progress of corruption in the Church, and it has been
a favorite subject for Art in all ages. The story is at last finished.
Begun sixteen hundred years ago, it has just reached its last chapter.
In order to understand it, we must go back almost to its introduction.
According to the legend of the Roman Church, as preserved in the "Acts
of St. Cecilia," this young and beautiful saint was martyred in the year
of our Lord 230.[A] She had devoted herself to perpetual virginity,
but her parents had insisted upon marrying her to a youthful and noble
Roman, named Valerian. On the night of her marriage, she succeeded in
so far prevailing upon her husband as to induce him to visit the pope,
Urban, who was lying concealed from his persecutors in the catacombs
which were called after and still bear the name of his predecessor,
Callixtus,[B] on the Appian Way, about two miles from the present walls
of the city. The young man was converted to the Christian faith. The
next day witnessed the conversion of his brother, Tiburtius. Their lives
soon gave evidence of the change in their religion; they were brought
before the prefect, and, refusing to sacrifice to the heathen gods, were
condemned to death. Maximus, an officer of the prefect, was converted
by the young men on the way to execution. They suffered death with
constancy, and Maximus soon underwent the same fate. Nor was Cecilia
long spared. The prefect ordered that she should be put to death in her
own house, by being stifled in the _caldarium_, or hot-air chamber of
her baths. The order was obeyed, and Cecilia entered the place of death;
but a heavenly air and cooling dews filled the chamber, and the fire
built up around it produced no effect. For a whole day and night the
flames were kept up, but the Saint was unharmed. Then Almachius sent an
order that she should be beheaded. The executioner struck her neck three
times with his sword, and left her bleeding, but not dead, upon the
pavement of the bathroom. For three days she lived, attended by faithful
friends, whose hearts were cheered by her courageous constancy; "for she
did not cease to comfort those whom she had nurtured in the faith of the
Lord, and divided among them everything which she had." To Pope Urban,
who visited her as she lay dying, she left in charge the poor whom she
had cared for, and her house, that it might be consecrated as a church.
With this her life ended.[C] Her wasted body was reverently lifted, its
position undisturbed, and laid in the attitude and clothing of life
within a coffin of cypress-wood. The linen cloths with which the blood
of the Martyr had been soaked up were placed at her feet, with that care
that no precious drop should be lost,--a care, of which many evidences
are afforded in the catacombs. In the night, the coffin was carried out
of the city secretly to the Cemetery of Callixtus, and there deposited
by Urban in a grave near to a chamber destined for the graves of the
popes themselves. Here the "Acts of St. Cecilia" close, and, leaving her
pure body to repose for centuries in its tomb hollowed out of the rock,
we trace the history of the catacombs during those centuries in other
sources and by other ways.
[Footnote A: _The Acts of St. Cecilia_ are generally regarded by the
best Roman Catholic authorities as apochryphal. They bear internal
evidence of their want of correctness, and, in the condition in which
they have come down to us, the date of their compilation cannot be set
before the beginning of the fifth century. At the very outset two facts
stand in open opposition to their statements. The martyrdom of St.
Cecilia is placed in the reign of Alexander Severus, whose mildness
of disposition and whose liberality towards the Christians are well
authenticated. Again, the prefect who condemns her to death, Turchius
Almachius, bears a name unknown to the profane historians of Rome. Many
statements of not less difficulty to reconcile with fact occur in the
course of the _Acts_. But, although their authority in particulars be
thus destroyed, we see no reason for questioning the reality of the
chief events upon which they are founded. The date of the martyrdom of
St. Cecilia may be wrong, the reports of her conversations may be as
fictitious as the speeches ascribed by grave historians to their heroes,
the stories of her miracles may have only that small basis of reality
which is to be found in the effects of superstition and excited
imagination,--but the essential truth of the martyrdom of a young,
beautiful, and rich Roman girl, of her suffering and her serene faith,
and of the veneration and honor in which her memory was held by those
who had known her, may be accepted without reserve. At least, it is
certain, that as early as the beginning of the fourth century the name
of St. Cecilia was reverenced in Rome, and that from that time she has
been one of the chief saints of the Roman calendar.]
[Footnote B: The Catacombs of St. Callixtus are among the most important
of the underground cemeteries. They were begun before the time of
Callixtus, but were greatly enlarged under his pontificate [A.D.
219-223]. Saint though he be, the character of Callixtus, if we may
judge by the testimony of another saint, Hippolytus, stood greatly in
need of purification. His story is an amusing illustration of the state
of the Roman episcopacy in those times. He had been a slave of a rich
Christian, Carpophorus. His master set him up as a money-dealer in the
Piscina Publica, a much frequented quarter of the city. The Christian
brethren (and widows also are mentioned by Hippolytus) placed their
moneys in his hands for safe-keeping, his credit as the slave of
Carpophorus being good. He appropriated these deposits, ran away to sea,
was pursued, threw himself into the water, was rescued, brought back to
Rome, and condemned to hard labor. Carpophorus bailed him out of the
workhouse,--but he was a bad fellow, got into a riot in a Jewish
synagogue, and was sent to work in the Sardinian mines. By cheating he
got a ticket of leave and returned to Rome. After some years, he was
placed in charge of the cemetery by the bishop or pope, Zephyrinus, and
at his death, some time later, by skilful intrigues he succeeded in
obtaining the bishopric itself. The cemetery is now called that of
_Saint_ Callixtus,--and in the saint the swindler is forgotten.]
[Footnote C: The passage in the _Acts of St. Cecilia_ which led to her
being esteemed the patroness of music is perhaps the following, which
occurs in the description of the wedding ceremonies: "Cantantibus
organis, Caecilia in corde suo soli Domino decantabat, dicens: 'Fiat cor
meum et corpus meum immaculatum, ut non confundar.'"]
The consequences of the conversion of Constantine exhibited themselves
not more in the internal character and spirit of the Church than in
its outward forms and arrangements. The period of worldly prosperity
succeeded speedily to a period of severest suffering, and many who
had been exposed to the persecution of Diocletian now rejoiced in the
imperial favor shown to their religion. Such contrasts in life are
not favorable to the growth of the finer spiritual qualities; and the
sunshine of state and court is not that which is needed for quickening
faith or developing simplicity and purity of heart. Churches above
ground could now be frequented without risk, and were the means by which
the wealth and the piety of Christians were to be displayed. The newly
imperialized religion must have its imperial temples, and the little
dark chapels of the catacombs were exchanged for the vast and ornamental
spaces of the new basilicas. It was no longer needful that the dead
should be laid in the secret paths of the rock, and the luxury of
magnificent Christian tombs began to rival that of the sepulchres of
the earlier Romans. The body of St. Peter, which had long, according
to popular tradition, rested in the catacombs of the Vatican, was now
transferred to the great basilica which Constantine, despoiling for the
purpose the tomb of Hadrian of its marbles, erected over the entrance to
the underground cemetery. So, too, the Basilica of St. Paul, on the way
to Ostia, was built over his old grave; and the Catacombs of St. Agnes
were, marked by a beautiful church in honor of the Saint, built in part
beneath the soil, that its pavement might he on a level with the upper
story of the catacombs and the faithful might enter them from the
The older catacombs, whose narrow graves had been filled during the last
quarter of the third century with the bodies of many new martyrs, were
now less used for the purposes of burial, and more for those of worship.
New chapels were hollowed out in their walls; new paintings adorned the
brown rock; the bodies of martyrs were often removed from their original
graves to new and more elaborate tombs; the entrances to the cemeteries
were no longer concealed, but new and ampler ones were made; new
stairways, lined with marble, led down to the streets beneath;
_luminaria_, or passages for light and air, were opened from the surface
of the ground to the most frequented places; and at almost every
entrance a church or an oratory of more or less size was built, for the
shelter of those who might assemble to go down into the catacombs, and
for the performance of the sacred services upon ground hallowed by so
many sacred memories. The worship of the saints began to take form, at
first, in simple, natural, and pious ways, in the fourth century; and
as it grew stronger and stronger with the continually increasing
predominance of the material element in the Roman Church, so the
catacombs, the burial-places of the saints, were more and more visited
by those who desired the protection or the intercession of their
occupants. St. Jerome, who was born about this time in Rome, [A.D. 331,]
has a curious passage concerning his own experiences in the catacombs.
He says: "When I was a boy at Rome, being instructed in liberal studies,
I was accustomed, with others of the same age and disposition, to go on
Sundays to the tombs of the apostles and martyrs, and often to go into
the crypts, which, being dug out in the depths of the earth, have for
walls, on either side of those who enter, the bodies of the buried; and
they are so dark, that the saying of the prophet seems almost fulfilled,
_The living descend into hell._" But as the chapels and sacred tombs
in the catacombs became thus more and more resorted to as places for
worship, the number of burials within them was continually growing
less,--and the change in the spirit of the religion was marked by the
change of character in the paintings and inscriptions on their walls.
By the middle of the fifth century the extension of the catacombs had
ceased, and nearly about the same time the assemblies in them fell off.
The desolation of the Campagna had already begun; Rome had sunk rapidly;
and the churches and burial-places within the walls afforded all the
space that was needed for the assemblies of the living or the dead.
When the Goths descended upon Italy, ravaging the country as they passed
over it, and sat down before Rome, not content with stripping the land,
they forced their way into the catacombs, searching for treasure, and
seeking also, it seems likely, for the bodies of the martyrs, whom their
imperfect creed did not prevent them from honoring. After they retired,
in the short breathing-space that was given to the unhappy city, various
popes undertook to do something to restore the catacombs,[D]--and one
of them, John III., [A.D. 560-574,] ordered that service should be
performed at certain underground shrines, and that candles and all else
needful for this purpose should be furnished from the Basilica of St.
John Lateran. Just at the close of the sixth century, Gregory the Great
[590-604] again appointed stations in the catacombs at which service
should be held on special days in the course of the year, and a curious
illustration of the veneration in which the relics of the saints were
then held is afforded by a gift which he sent to Theodelinda, queen of
the Lombards. At this time the Lombards were laying all Italy waste.
Their Arian zeal ranged them in religious hate against the Roman
Church,--but Theodelinda was an orthodox believer, and through her
Gregory hoped to secure the conversion of her husband and his subjects.
It was to her that he addressed his famous Dialogues, filled with
the most marvellous stories of holy men and the strangest notions of
religion. Wishing to satisfy her pious desires, and to make her a very
precious gift, he sent to her many phials of oil taken from the lamps
that were kept burning at the shrines of the martyrs in the catacombs.
It was the custom of those who visited these shrines to dip
handkerchiefs, or other bits of cloth, in the reservoirs of oil, to
which a sacred virtue was supposed to be imparted by the neighborhood of
the saints; and even now may often be seen the places where the lamps
were kept lighted.[E]
[Footnote D: An inscription set up by Vigilius, pope from A.D. 538 to
555, and preserved by Gruter, contains the following lines:--
"Dum peritura Getae posuissent castra sub urbe,
Moverunt sanctis bella nefunda prius,
Istaque sacrilego verterunt corde sepulchra
Martyribus quondam rite sacrata piis.
Diruta Vigilius nam mox haec Papa gemiscens,
Hostibus expulsis, omne novavit opus."]
[Footnote E: The phials sent by Gregory to Queen Theodelinda were
accompanied by a list of the shrines from which they were taken; among
them was that of St. Cecilia. The document closes with the words, "Quae
olea sca temporibus Domini Gregorii Papae adduxit Johannes indignus
et peccator Dominae Theodelindae reginae de Roma." The oils are still
preserved in the treasury of the cathedral at Monza,--and the list
accompanying them has afforded some important facts to the students of
the early martyrology of Rome. A similar belief in the efficacy of oils
burned in lamps before noted images, or at noted shrines, still prevails
in the Papal City. In a little pamphlet lying before us, entitled
_Historic Notices of Maria SSma del Parto, venerated in St. Augustine's
Church in Rome_, published in 1853, is the following passage: "Many who
visited Mary dipped their fingers in the lamps to cross themselves with
the holy oil, by the droppings from which the base of the statue was so
dirtied, that hanging-lamps were substituted in the place of those that
stood around. But that the people might not be deprived of the trust
which they reposed in the holy oil, bits of cotton dipped in it were
wrapped up in paper, and there was a constant demand for them among the
devout." This passage refers to late years, and the custom still exists.
Superstition flourishes at Rome now not less than it did thirteen
hundred years ago; and superstitious practices have a wonderful vitality
in the close air of Romanism.]
But although the memory of those who had been buried within them was
thus preserved, the catacombs themselves and the churches at their
entrances were falling more and more into decay. Shortly after Gregory's
death, Pope Boniface IV. illustrated his otherwise obscure pontificate
by seeking from the mean and dissolute Emperor Phocas the gift of the
Pantheon for the purpose of consecrating it for a Christian church. The
glorious temple of all the gods was now dedicated [A.D. 608, Sept. 15]
to those who had displaced them, the Virgin and all the Martyrs. Its new
name was S. Maria ad Martyres,--and in order to sanctify its precincts,
the Pope brought into the city and placed under the altars of his new
church twenty-eight wagon-loads of bones, collected from the different
catacombs, and said to be those of martyrs. This is the first notice
that has been preserved of the practice that became very general in
later times of transferring bodies and bones from their graves in the
rock to new ones under the city churches.
Little more is known of the history of the catacombs during the next
two centuries, but that for them it was a period of desolation and
desertion. The Lombard hordes often ravaged and devastated the Campagna
up to the very gates of the city, and descended into the underground
passages of the cemeteries in search of treasure, of relics, and of
shelter. Paul III., about the middle of the eighth century, took many
bones and much ashes from graves yet unrifled, and distributed them
to the churches. He has left a record of the motives that led him
to disturb dust that had rested so long in quiet. "In the lapse of
centuries," he says, "many cemeteries of the holy martyrs and confessors
of Christ have been neglected and fallen to decay. The impious Lombards
utterly ruined them,--and now among the faithful themselves the old
piety has been replaced by negligence, which has gone so far that even
animals have been allowed to enter them, and cattle have been stalled
within them." Still, although thus desecrated, the graves of the martyrs
continued to be an object of interest to the pilgrims, who, even in
these dangerous times, from year to year came to visit the holy places
of Rome; and itineraries, describing the localities of the catacombs
and of the noted tombs within them, prepared for the guidance of such
pilgrims, not later than the beginning of the ninth century, have
been preserved to us, and have afforded essential and most important
assistance in the recent investigations.[F]
[Footnote F: Four of these itineraries are known. One of them is
preserved in William of Malmesbury's _Chronicle_. The differences and
the correspondences between them have been of almost equal assistance in
modern days in the determination of doubtful names and localities.]
About the same time, Pope Paschal I. [A.D. 817-824] greatly interested
himself in searching in the catacombs for such bodies of the saints as
might yet remain in them, and in transferring these relics to churches
and monasteries within the city. A contemporary inscription, still
preserved in the crypt of the ancient church of St. Prassede, (a church
which all lovers of Roman legend and art take delight in,) tells of the
two thousand three hundred martyrs whose remains Paschal had placed
beneath its altars. Nor was this the only church so richly endowed. One
day, in the year 821, Paschal was praying in the church that stood on
the site of the house in which St. Cecilia had suffered martyrdom, and
which was dedicated to her honor. It was now one of the oldest churches
in Rome. Two centuries before, Gregory the Great, St. Gregory, had
restored it,--for it even then stood in need of repairs, and now it was
in greater need than ever. Paschal determined, while praying, that he
would rebuild it from its foundations; but with this determination came
the desire to find the body of the Saint, that her new church might not
want its most precious possession. It was reported that the Lombards had
sought for it and carried it away, and the knowledge of the exact place
of the grave, even, was lost. But Paschal entered vigorously on the
search. He knew that she had been buried in the Cemetery of St.
Callixtus, and tradition declared that her sepulchre had been made near
the Chamber of the Popes. There he sought, but his seeking was vain.
On a certain day, however,--and here he begins his own story,--in the
Church of St. Peter, as he sat listening to the harmony of the morning
service, drowsiness overcame him, and he fell asleep.[G] As he was
sleeping, a very beautiful maiden of virginal aspect, and in a rich
dress, stood before him, and, looking at him, said,--"We return thee
many thanks; but why without cause, trusting to false reports, hast thou
given up the search for me? Thou hast been so near me that we might have
[Footnote G: "Quadam die, dum ante Confessionem Beati Petri
Apostoli psallentium matutinali lucescente Dominica residentes
observaremus harmoniam, sopore in aliquo corporis fragilitatem
aggravaute."--_Paschalis Papae Diploma_, as quoted in _L'Histoire de
Sainte Cecile_, par l'Abbe Gueranger. The simplicity of the old Pope's
story is wofully hurt by the grandiloquence of the French Abbe: "Le
Pontife ecoutait avec delices l'harmonie des Cantiques que l'Eglise fait
monter vers le Seigneur au lever du jour. Un assoupissement produit par
la fatigue des veilles saintes vient le saisir sur le siege meme ou il
presidait dans la majeste apostolique," etc., etc., etc., _ad nauseam._]
The Pope, as if hurt by her rebuke, and doubtful of his vision, then
asked the name of her who thus addressed him.
"If thou seekest my name," she said, "I am called Cecilia, the
handmaiden of Christ."
"How can I believe this," replied the sleeping Pope, "since it was long
ago reported that the body of this most holy martyr was carried away by
The Saint then told him that till this time her body had remained
concealed; but that now he must continue his search, for it pleased God
to reveal it to him; and near her body he would also find other bodies
of saints to be placed with hers in her new-built church. And saying
this, she departed.
Hereupon a new search was begun, and shortly after, "by the favor of
God, we found her in golden garments, and the cloths with which her
sacred blood had been wiped from her wounds we found rolled up and full
of blood at the feet of the blessed virgin."
At the same time, the bodies of Valerian, Tiburtius, and Maximus were
found in a neighboring cemetery, and, together with the relics of Pope
Urban,--as well as the body of St. Cecilia,--were placed under the
high altar of her church.[H] The cypress coffin in which she had been
reverently laid at the time of her death was preserved and set within a
marble sarcophagus. No expense was spared by the devout Paschal to adorn
the church that had been so signally favored. All the Art of the time
(and at that time the arts flourished only in the service of the Church)
was called upon to assist in making the new basilica magnificent. The
mosaics which were set up to adorn the apse and the arch of triumph were
among the best works of the century, and, with colors still brilliant
and design still unimpaired, they hold their place at the present
day, and carry back the thought and the imagination of the beholder a
thousand years into the very heart of this old story. Under the great
mosaic of the apse one may still read the inscription, in the rude Latin
of the century, which tells of Paschal's zeal and Rome's joy, closing
with the line,
"Roma resultat ovans semper ornata per
[Footnote H: It is a remarkable fact, to be explained by the believers
in the virtue of relics, that, notwithstanding the body of St. Cecilia
was deposited perfect in her grave, and, as we shall see, was long after
found complete, no less than five heads of St. Cecilia are declared
to exist, or to have existed,--for one has been lost,--in different
churches. One is in the church of the SS. Quattro Coronati, at Rome,
which possessed it from a very early period; a second is at Paris, a
third at Beauvais, a fourth was at Tours, and we have seen the reliquary
in which a fifth is preserved in the old cathedral of Torcello.]
And thus once more the body of the virgin was left to repose in peace,
once more the devout could offer their prayers to the Saint at the altar
consecrated by her presence, and once more the superstitious could
increase the number of the miracles wrought by her favor. Through the
long period of the fall and depression of Rome, her church continued to
be a favorite one with the people of the city, and with the pilgrims to
it. From time to time it was repaired and adorned, and in the thirteenth
century the walls of its portico were covered with a series of frescoes,
representing the events of St. Cecilia's life, and the finding of her
body by Paschal. These frescoes--precious as specimens of reawakening
Art, and especially precious at Rome, because of the little that was
done there at that period--were all, save one, long since destroyed
in some "restoration" of the church. The one that was preserved is now
within the church, and represents in its two divisions the burial of the
Saint by Pope Urban, and her appearance in St. Peter's Church to the
sleeping Paschal, whose figure is rendered with amusing naivete and
Meanwhile, after the translation of St. Cecilia's body, the catacombs
remained much in the same neglected state as before, falling more and
more into ruin, but still visited from year to year by the pilgrims,
whom even pillage and danger could not keep from Rome. For two
centuries,--from the thirteenth to the fifteenth,--scarcely any mention
of them is to be found. Petrarch, in his many letters about Rome, dwells
often on the sacredness of the soil within the city, in whose crypts and
churches so many saints and martyrs lie buried, but hardly refers to the
catacombs themselves, and never in such a way as to show that they were
an object of interest to him, though a lover of all Roman relics and a
faithful worshipper of the saints. It was near the end of the sixteenth
century that a happy accident--the falling in of the road outside the
Porta Salara--brought to light the streets of the Cemetery of St.
Priscilla, and awakened in Antonio Bosio a zeal for the exploration of
the catacombs which led him to devote the remainder of his long life to
the pursuit, and by study, investigation, and observation, to lay
the solid basis of the thorough and comprehensive acquaintance with
subterranean Rome which has been extended by the researches of a long
line of able scholars down to the present day. But to Bosio the
chief honor is due, as the earliest, the most exact, and the most
indefatigable of the explorers.
It was during his lifetime that the story of St. Cecilia received a
continuation, of which he himself has left us a full account. In
the year 1599, Paolo Emilio Sfondrati, Cardinal of the Title of St.
Cecilia,[I] undertook a thorough restoration of the old basilica erected
by Paschal. He possessed a large collection of relics, and determined
that he would place the most precious of them under the high altar. For
this purpose the vault containing the sarcophagi in which St. Cecilia
and her companions lay must be opened, and on the 20th of October the
work was undertaken. Upon breaking through the wall, two sarcophagi of
white marble were discovered. The Cardinal was on the spot, and, in the
presence of numerous dignitaries of the Church, whom he had sent for as
witnesses, he caused the heavy top of the first of these stone coffins
to be lifted. Within was seen the chest of cypress-wood in which,
according to the old story, the Saint had been originally placed.
Sfondrati with his own hands removed the lid, and within the chest was
found the body of the virgin, with a silken veil spread over her rich
dress, on which could still be seen the stains of blood, while at her
feet yet lay the bloody cloths which had been placed there more than
thirteen centuries before. She was lying upon her right side, her feet a
little drawn up, her arms extended and resting one upon the other,
her neck turned so that her head rested upon the left cheek. Her form
perfectly preserved, and her attitude of the sweetest virginal grace and
modesty, it seemed as if she lay there asleep rather than dead.[J]--The
second sarcophagus was found to contain three bodies, which were
recognized as being, according to tradition, those of Tiburtius,
Valerian, and Maximus.
[Footnote I: The _Titoli_ of Rome correspond nearly to Parishes. They
date from an early period in the history of the Church.]
[Footnote J: "Dormientis instar," says Bosio, in his _Relatio
Inventionis et Repositionis S. Caeciliae et Sociorum_. The discovery
of the body of the Saint in this perfect state of preservation has,
of course, been attributed by many Romanist authors to miraculous
interposition. But it is to be accounted for by natural causes. The
soil of the catacombs and of Rome is in many parts remarkable for its
antiseptic qualities. The Cavaliere de Rossi informed us that he had
been present at the opening of an ancient tomb on the Appian Way, in
which the body of a young man had been found in a state of entire
preservation, fresh almost as on the day of its burial, and with it was
a piece of sponge which had apparently been soaked in blood,--for his
death had been by violence. In the winter of 1857, two marble sarcophagi
were found in one of the passages of the Catacombs of St. Callixtus, in
which excavations were then going on, and upon being opened, a body
was found in each, in a state, not of entire, but of almost perfect
preservation. The skin had become somewhat shrunk, and the flesh was
hardened and darkened, but the general form and features were preserved.
Possibly these also may have been the bodies of saints. The sarcophagi
were kept through the winter in the catacombs where they were found, and
their marble lids being removed, covers of glass were fitted to them, so
that the bodies might be seen by the visitors to the catacombs. It was a
frequent custom, chiefly in the fourth and fifth centuries, to bury the
rich in sarcophagi placed within tombs in the catacombs.]
The day advanced as these discoveries were made, and Sfondrati having
had a chest of wood hastily lined with silk, and brought to a room in
the adjoining convent, which opened into the church, (it is the room
at the left, now used for the first reception of novices,) carried the
cypress chest with its precious contents to this apartment, and placed
it within the new box, which he locked and sealed. Then, taking the key
with him, he hastened to go out to Frascati, where Pope Clement VIII.
was then staying, to avoid the early autumn airs of Rome. The Pope was
in bed with the gout, and gave audience to no one; but when he heard of
the great news that Sfondrati had brought, he desired at once to see
him, and to hear from him the account of the discovery. "The Pope
groaned and grieved that he was not well enough to hasten at once to
visit and salute so great a martyr." But it happened that the famous
annalist, Cardinal Baronius, was then with the Pope at Frascati, and
Clement ordered him to go to Rome forthwith, in his stead, to behold and
venerate the body of the Saint. Sfondrati immediately took Baronius
in his carriage back to the city, and in the evening they reached the
Church of St. Cecilia.[K] Baronius, in the account which he has left
of these transactions, expresses in simple words his astonishment and
delight at seeing the preservation of the cypress chest, and of the body
of the Saint "When we at length beheld the sacred body, it was then,
that, according to the words of David, 'as we had heard, so we saw, in
the city of the Lord of Hosts, in the city of our God.'[L] For as we had
read that the venerated body of Cecilia had been found and laid away by
Paschal the Pope, so we found it." He describes at length the posture
of the virgin, who lay like one sleeping, in such modest and noble
attitude, that "whoever beheld her was struck with unspeakable
reverence, as if the heavenly Spouse stood by as a guard watching his
sleeping Bride, warning and threatening: 'Awake not my love till she
please.'"[M] The next morning, Baronius performed Mass in the church in
memory and honor of St. Cecilia, and the other saints buried near her,
and then returned to Frascati to report to the Pope what he had seen. It
was resolved to push forward the works on the church with vigor, and
to replace the body of the Saint under its altar on her feast-day, the
twenty-second of November, with the most solemn pontifical ceremony.
[Footnote K: This account is to be found in the _Annals_ of Baronius,
_ad annum_ 821.]
[Footnote L: Psalm xlviii. 8.]
[Footnote M: Song of Solomon, ii. 7.]
Meanwhile the report of the wonderful discovery spread through Rome,
and caused general excitement and emotion. The Trasteverini, with whom
Cecilia had always been a favorite saint, were filled with joy, with
piety, and superstition. Crowds continually pressed to the church, and
so great was the ardor of worshippers, that the Swiss guards of the
court were needed to preserve order. Lamps were kept constantly burning
around the coffin, which was set near a grating in the wall between the
church and convent, so as to be visible to the devout. "There was
no need of burning perfumes and incense near the sacred body, for a
sweetest odor breathed out from it, like that of roses and lilies."
Sfondrati, desirous to preserve for future generations a memorial
likeness of the Saint, ordered the sculptor Stefano Maderno to make a
statue which should represent the body of Cecilia as it was found lying
in the cypress chest. Maderno was then a youth of twenty-three years.
Sculpture at this time in Rome had fallen into a miserable condition of
degraded conventionalism and extravagance. But Maderno was touched with
the contagion of the religious enthusiasm of the moment, and his work is
full of simple dignity, noble grace, and tender beauty. No other work
of the time is to be compared with it. It is a memorial not only of the
loveliness of the Saint, but of the self-forgetful religious fervor of
the artist, at a period when every divine impulse seemed to be absent
from the common productions of Art. Rome has no other statue of such
sacred charm, none more inspired with Christian feeling. It lies in
front of the high altar, disfigured by a silver crown and a costly
necklace, the offerings of vulgar and pretentious adoration; but even
thus it is at once a proof and prophecy of what Art is to accomplish
under the influence of the Christian spirit. The inscription that
Sfondrati placed before the statue still exists. It is as follows:
"Behold the image of the most holy virgin Cecilia; whom I, Paul,
Cardinal of the Title of St. Cecilia, saw lying perfect in her
sepulchre; which I have caused to be made in this marble, in the very
position of the body, for you."
The twenty-second of November arrived. The Pope had recovered from
his gout. The church was splendidly decorated. A solemn procession,
illustrated by the presence of all the great dignitaries of the Church,
of the ambassadors of foreign states, and the nobles of Rome, advanced
up the nave. Clement intoned the Mass. Then proceeding to the cypress
chest, it was lifted by four cardinals, and carried to the vault under
the altar, while the choir chanted the anthem, _O beata Coecilia,
quoe Almachium superasti, Tiburtium et Valerianum ad martyrii coronam
vocasti!_ The old coffin, undisturbed, was placed in a silver case; the
last service was performed, and the body of the virgin was once more
laid away to rest.
We pass now over two centuries and a half. About five years ago the
Cavaliere de Rossi found lying upon the ground, in a _vigna_ bordering
on the Appian Way, about two miles from Rome, a portion of a sepulchral
stone on which were the letters NELIUS MARTYR, the NE broken across.
He immediately conjectured that this was a piece of the stone that had
covered the grave of Pope Cornelius, [A.D. 250-252,] and on the truth of
this conjecture important results depended. It was known that this pope
had been buried in the Catacombs of St. Callixtus; and it was known
also, from the itineraries and some other sources, that his grave was
not in the same chamber with the graves of the other popes who were
buried in those catacombs, but that it was not far away from it. It was
further known, as we have seen, that the chapel in which St. Cecilia
had been buried was close to the Chamber of the Popes. But a tradition
dating from a late period of the Middle Ages had given the name of
Callixtus to the catacombs opening from the Church of St. Sebastian,
at a little greater distance from Rome. In these catacombs the place
supposed to be that of St. Cecilia's grave was pointed out, and an
inscription set up to mark the spot, by a French archbishop, in the
year 1409, still exists. Many indications, however, led De Rossi
to disbelieve this tradition and to distrust this authority. It
contradicted the brief indications of the itineraries, and could not be
reconciled with other established facts. Not far from the place where
the broken inscription was found was an accidental entrance into
catacombs which had been supposed to have been originally connected with
those of St. Sebastian, but were believed by De Rossi to be a portion of
the veritable Catacombs of St. Callixtus, and quite separate from the
former. The paths in this part, however, were stopped up in so many
directions, that it was impossible to get an entrance through them to
such parts as might determine the question. Again, in the neighborhood
of the discovery of the broken stone was an old building, used as a
stable, and for other mean purposes. On examination of it, De Rossi
satisfied himself that it had been originally one of the churches
erected in the fourth century at the entrance of the catacombs, and he
had little doubt that he had now found the place of the main descent
into the Catacombs of St. Callixtus. The discovery was a great one; for
near the main entrance had been the burial-place of the popes, and of
St. Cecilia. De Rossi laid the results of his inductive process of
archaeological reasoning before the pope, who immediately gave orders
for the purchase of the _vigna_, and directions that excavations should
be at once begun.[N]
[Footnote N: Another curious point was made by De Rossi previously to
the commencement of the explorations. It illustrates the accuracy of his
acquaintance with the underground archaeology. In one of the itineraries
it was said, speaking of the burial-place of Cornelius, that here also
St. Cyprian was buried. Now, as is well known, Cyprian was buried in
Africa, where he had suffered martyrdom. His martyrdom took place on
the same day with that of Cornelius, though in another year; and their
memories were consequently celebrated by the Church on the same day, the
16th of September. De Rossi declared, that, if he discovered the tomb of
St. Cornelius, he should find near it something which would explain the
error of the itinerary in stating that Cyprian's grave also was here.
And such proved to be the fact. On the wall, by the side of the grave,
was found a painting of Cornelius, with his name, "S[=c][=s] Cornelius,"
and by the side of this figure was another painting of a bishop in his
robes, with the letters "S[=c][=s] Ciprianus."]
[Transcriber's note: Here and below the = sign is used to indicate an
The work was scarcely begun, before an ancient stairway, long ago buried
under accumulated earth and rubbish, was discovered, leading down to the
second story of the catacombs. The passages into which it opened were
filled with earth, but, as this was cleared away, a series of chambers
of unusual size, reaching almost to the surface of the soil, was entered
upon. At the right a wide door led into a large chapel. The walls were
covered with rudely scratched names and inscriptions, some in Greek
and some in Latin. De Rossi, whose eyes were practised in the work,
undertook to decipher these often obscure scribblings. They were for the
most part the inscriptions of the pilgrims who had visited these places,
and their great number gave proof that this was a most important portion
of the cemetery. The majority of these were simply names, or names
accompanied with short expressions of piety. Many, for instance, were in
such form as this,--[Greek: Elaphin eis mneian echete],--"Keep Elaphis
in remembrance." Many were expressions of devotion, written by the
pilgrims for the sake of those who were dear to them, as,--_Vivat in
Domino_, "May he live in the Lord"; _Pet[ite] ut Verecundus cum suis
bene naviget_, "Seek that Verecundus with his companions may voyage
prosperously." The character of the writing, the names and the style,
indicate that these inscriptions belong mostly to the third and fourth
centuries. Among these writings on the wall were one or two which
confirmed De Rossi in the opinion that this must be the sepulchre in
which the greater number of the popes of the third century had been
buried. Carefully preserving all the mass of rubbish which was taken
from the chamber, he set himself to its examination, picking out from
it all the bits and fragments of marble, upon many of which letters
or portions of letters were cut. Most of them were of that elaborate
character which is well known to all readers of the inscriptions from
the catacombs as that of Pope Damasus,--for this Pope [A.D. 366-385] had
devoted himself to putting up new inscriptions over celebrated
graves, and had used a peculiar and sharply cut letter, easy to be
distinguished. It was known that he had put new inscriptions over the
tombs of the popes buried in the Cemetery of St. Callixtus. After most
patient examination, De Rossi succeeded in finding and putting together
the inscriptions of four of these early popes, and, with Cuvier-like
sagacity, he reconstructed, out of a hundred and twelve separate,
minute, and scattered pieces, the metrical inscription in which Damasus
expressed his desire to be buried with them, but his fear of vexing
their sacred ashes.[O]
[Footnote O: In another part of the catacombs the remainder of the stone
that had been set over the grave of Cornelius was found. It fitted
precisely the piece first found by De Rossi. The letters upon it
were CORN EP. The whole inscription then read, "Cornelius Martyr,
Ep[iscopus.]" It is rare that a bit of broken stone paves the way to
such discoveries. But it must be a man of genius who walks over the
pavement. Cardinal Wiseman has given an imperfect account of these
discoveries in his diverting novel, _Fabiola_.]
There could no longer be any doubt; this was the Chapel of the
Popes, and that of St. Cecilia must be near by. Proceeding with the
excavations, a door leading into a neighboring crypt was opened. The
crypt was filled with earth and _debris_, which appeared to have
fallen into it through a _luminare_, now choked up with the growth and
accumulated rubbish of centuries. In order to remove the mass of earth
with least risk of injury to the walls of the chamber, it was determined
to take it out through the luminare from above. As the work advanced,
there were discovered on the wall of the luminare itself paintings
of the figures of three men, with a name inscribed at the side of
each,--Policamus, Sebastianus, and Cyrinus. These names inspired fresh
zeal, for they were those of saints who were mentioned in one or more
of the itineraries as having been buried in the same chapel with St.
Cecilia. As the chapel was cleared, a large arcosolium was found, and
near it a painting of a youthful woman, richly attired, adorned with
necklaces and bracelets, and the dress altogether such as might befit
a bride. Below, on the same wall, was a figure of a pope in his robes,
with the name "S[=e][=s] Urbanus" painted at the side: and close to this
figure, a large head of the Saviour, of the Byzantine type, with a glory
in the form of a Greek cross. The character of the paintings showed that
they were of comparatively late date, probably not earlier than the
sixth century, and obviously executed at a time when the chapel was
frequented by worshippers, and before the traditional knowledge of the
exact site of St. Cecilia's sepulchre had been lost.
The discovery made by Paschal after the place had been deserted was thus
repeated by De Rossi after a second, longer, and more obscure period of
oblivion. The divine vision which had led the ancient Pope, according
to his own account, to the right spot, was now replaced by scientific
investigation. The statements of inspiration were confirmed, as in so
many more conspicuous instances, by the discoveries of science. Cecilia
had lain so near the popes, that she might, as she had said to Paschal,
have spoken to him when he was in their chapel, _as ad as_, "mouth to
mouth." But the questions naturally arose, Why was it that in Paschal's
time, before this chapel was encumbered with earth, it had been so
difficult to find her grave? and, Why had not the Lombards, who had
sought for her sacred body, succeeded in finding it? De Rossi was
able to furnish the solution. In several instances he had found walls
carefully built up in front of tombs so as to conceal them. It was plain
that this must have been done with some definite purpose; and it seems
altogether likely that it was to hide these tombs from sacrilegious
invaders. The walls had been built when the faithful were forced by
the presence of their enemies to desert the catacombs and leave them
unprotected. It was a striking illustration of the veneration in which
these holy places had been held. Upon examination of the floor in front
of the areosolium of this chapel, traces of the foundation of a wall
were discovered, and thus the Lombard failure and Paschal's difficulty
So ends the story of St Cecilia and her tomb. Within her church are the
remains of the bath-chamber where she suffered death. The mosaics of
the apse and the arch of triumph tell of the first finding of her body;
Maderno's statue recalls the fact of its second discovery long after;
and now this newly opened, long forgotten chapel shows where her
precious body was first laid away in peace, brings the legend of her
faithful death into clearer remembrance, and concludes the ancient story
with dramatic and perfect completeness.
"The Lord discovereth deep things out of darkness, and bringeth out to
light the shadow of death."
[To be continued.]
* * * * *
Wing-Footed! thou abid'st with him
That asks it not: but he who hath
Watched o'er the waves thy fading path
Will never more on ocean's rim,
At morn or eve, behold returning
Thy high-heaped canvas shoreward yearning:
Thou only teachest us the core
And inmost meaning of No More,
Thou, who first showest us thy face
Turned o'er the shoulder's parting grace,
And whose sad footprints we can trace
Away from every mortal door!
THE PURE PEARL OF DIVER'S BAY.
When the great storms raged along the Atlantic coast, they sometimes
tossed a token into Diver's Bay. In more than one of the rude cabins
composing the fishermen's settlement memorials of shipwreck and disaster
might be found; and these memorials did not always fail to kindle
imagination, and to arouse soft feelings of pity for the calamities they
One morning, that dawned bright and mild after a week of tempest,
Clarice Briton went out with her coarse basket to gather the sea-weed
tossed on the shore. She was the first child out that morning, and on
account of the late storm, which had prevented the usual daily work, the
harvest was a rich one.
There was always need that Clarice should work with her might when she
found work to do, and she now labored from dawn till sunrise, filling
her basket many times over, until the boards where she spread the weed
to dry were nearly covered. Then she threw herself down to rest by her
father's door. But when the sun was rising she went and sat among the
rocks, and watched the changing of the sky and water, and the flocks of
birds as they came screaming from their nests to dive among the waves
and mount beyond her sight among the mists of morning. She never tired
of watching them, or of gazing on these scenes. She knew the habits of
the shore birds, understood their indications and devices, and whatever
their movements foreboded concerning the weather. Clarice was also
versed in winds and clouds, and knew as well as the wise fishermen what
the north-wind had in store, and what the south-wind would give them.
While she sat resting a few minutes, and wondering that the other
children of the beach were so long in waking to the pleasant day,
suddenly, as she looked down along the rocks that lay between her and
the water, she saw lying near her feet, securely lodged by the waves
among the stones, a basket. It was a very different affair from that
other, lying a few paces off, with which she went about gathering
sea-weed. It was small, and light, and delicately woven,--embroidered,
too, with floss. When she bent forward and picked it up, long strings
of shiny weed dangled dripping from the handles,--and something beside;
for, as she attempted to remove the traces of wild voyaging, something
that was not weed resisted her efforts, and caused her to raise the lid.
As she did so, a chain, which had been partly secured by the closing of
the lid, was disengaged, and fell into her lap.
"What's that, Clarice?" said a voice just above her, as she in amazement
lifted the chain, and endeavored to free it from the weed.
"Oh, Luke, there must have been a wreck! See! I found it just here at,
my feet," said Clarice, sorrowfully,--apparently not taken by surprise
by the sudden coming and speaking of Luke Merlyn; she did not even lift
her head, nor for an instant turn to him from what occupied her.
"There's a ring, too, I declare!" said Luke, coming down to her side;
and he took from her lap a small ring, in which was set a solitary
pearl;--the ring had dropped from the chain. "What next? Look in."
Clarice opened the basket again, and turned out the white silk lining,
which was soaking and stained with wild sea-travel. "That is all," said
"That chain is a gold one," remarked Luke Merlyn. "There must have been
a wreck. Who do you suppose these things belonged to? Some lady? Look at
that basket now. She kept her trinkets in it. I suppose lots of 'em got
shook out by the way. I am glad it was you found it, Clarice. Just try
that ring on your finger now; I should think it might fit you."
He took up the ring and looked at Clarice, but she shrunk back
"Oh, no!--I should feel as if it would drag me down to the bottom of the
sea after the owner."
"It's the neatest thing I ever saw, though, Clarice. Look, what a pearl!
You must keep it for your own, any way, if you won't wear it. Nobody
about here is fit but you. The poor little basket, too,--poor little
He took it up and looked it over, much as though it were a dead bird, or
some other pretty thing that once had life, and knew bow to enjoy it.
"Are you going out to-day, Luke?" asked Clarice.
"Don't you see I've got the net? Father will be down by the time I'm
ready. We are tired enough banging about waiting for the blow to be
"May-be you will see something," said Clarice, in an undertone. "If you
could only find out about the ship, and the poor passengers!"
"May-be," answered Luke,--saying this to comfort her. "Is your father
going out to-day?"
"He said he would, last night. I'm glad it came off so pleasant. See
how long this chain is!--a great many times longer than his big
"Worth fifty times as much, too."
"Is it?" said Clarice, looking up in wonder, almost incredulous;--but
then Luke had said it.
"This is gold. Come and walk down to the boat, Clarice. How many times
have you filled your basket this morning? You look tired. How did you
come to wake up so soon? I believe I heard you singing, and that was
what brought me out so quick."
"I haven't sung any, Luke," she answered, looking at him in wonder.
"Oh, yes!--I'm sure I heard you. I got up and looked out of my window;
there you were. You are the best girl around, Clarice! Come now, why
don't you say I'm the best fellow? Then we'll be even. I Am, you know.
But then I want to hear you say so."
The merry fellow was in earnest, though he laughed. He blushed more
deeply than the girl,--indeed, she did not blush at all,--when he thus
spoke to her. She looked at him a little surprised.
"Come," said he, with gentle coaxing. "I know what you think. Speak out,
and make me feel happy, all the days of my life. If it wasn't that you
feel so about the ring--But why shouldn't you feel solemn about it? It
belonged to some beautiful lady, I suppose, who lies at rest in the
bottom of the sea by this time. _H.H._"--he read the initials engraved
on the clasp of the chain.
Clarice, who held the ring, inadvertently turned it that moment to the
light so that her eyes could not fail to perceive that two letters were
also written by a graver underneath the pearl. These letters likewise
were _H.H._ She gave the ring, to Luke, pointing to the initials.
"Yes, to be sure," said he, examining it with his bright eyes. "It's the
prettiest thing I ever saw. These letters must have stood for something.
Clarice,"--he hesitated a moment,--"Clarice, they might stand for
something yet, _Heart and Hand_. Here they are,--take them,--they're
yours,--my heart and my hand,--till Death comes between!"
"Don't talk that way, Luke," answered the girl, gravely. "Your father is
waiting for you, I'm sure."
But Luke did not believe that she was in such haste to be rid of him.
"He hasn't gone down yet. I've watched," said he. "He'd be willing to
wait, if he knew what I was saying. Besides, if you are in a hurry, it
won't take but a minute to say yes, Clarice. Will you take my heart and
my hand? Here is your ring."
Clarice took the ring and looked away; but, in looking away, her eyes
fell on Luke, and she smiled.
"It's the prettiest thing, that ring is, in the world, except you,
Clarice,"--so the smile made him speak.
"That's new for me," said the girl. "Talk sense, Luke."
"Handsome is that handsome does, say I. And if you a'n't the best
girl in the Bay, Clary, who is, then? When are you going to say yes?"
demanded the young fellow.
"Now," replied Clarice, suddenly.
"Have you taken my heart and hand?" asked the lad as quickly, his face
glowing with delight.
"To keep forever, Clarice?" It seemed, after all, incredible.
"Yes, Luke." And so speaking, the girl meant _yes, forever_.
Now this promise had not really taken either of these children by
surprise. They had long understood each other. But when they had given
a mutual promise, both looked grave. Clarice stood by the water's edge,
careless that time was passing. Luke was in no hurry for his father.
But at length a shrill voice called the girl. Dame Briton stood in the
cabin door, and her angry tongue was laden with reproaches ready for
utterance when Clarice should come within easier reach of her voice.
"I must go," said Clarice to Luke.
"I'll follow you, to-night. Don't work too hard," he answered. "Take
care of my heart, Clarice."
A storm broke upon Clarice when she went home to her mother. She bore
the blame of her idleness with tolerable patience, until it seemed as if
the gale would never blow over. At last some quick words escaped her:--
"Three bushels of weed lie there on the boards ready spread, and drying.
I gathered them before another creature was stirring in Diver's Bay."
Then she added, more gently, "I found something besides."
But though Dame Briton heard, she passed this last bit of information
"Idling down there on the beach to see the boys off fishing!" she could
not help saying. "You needn't be up afore the break o' day for work like
"It was Luke Merlyn."
"I showed him what I had found. Ask him if I'm ever too free. He'd know
as quick as anybody,--and care as much."
Clarice, while speaking this, had departed yet farther both in look and
voice from her usual serenity.
The dame let her last words pass without taking them up. She was by this
"What did you find?" asked she.
Clarice showed the basket and the gold chain. Her mother handled both
with wondering admiration, asking many a question. At last she threw the
chain around her neck.
"It's gold," said she. "It's worth much. If you could pick up the like
of that every day, you might let the old weed-basket drift."
"I had rather gather weeds till my back was broken doing it, than ever
find another," said Clarice.
The dame took this for a child's exaggeration; observing which, Clarice
"Why, don't you see how it came to shore? There's been a wreck in the
storm last week. Oh, may-be I've found all that will tell of it!"
"What's that in your hand?" asked the dame, who spied the ring.
Clarice half opened her palm; she did not like to let the ring pass from
her keeping, and all this while she had stood doubting whether or not
she should show it to her mother.
Dame Briton took it quickly. The dull glitter of greedy eyes fell on the
mild lustre of the pearl, but found no reflection.
"A ring!" said she, and she tried to fit it to her little finger. It
would not pass the first rough joint.
"Try it," said she to Clarice.
"No," was the quiet answer. "But I will keep the ring. It must have been
a lady's. May-be it was a token."
"May-be it was.--If your father should take that chain to the Port,
he might make a handsome bargain,--if he was worth a snap at
bargains.--Here's something; what be these marks? look here, Clarice."
The face of the girl flushed a little as she answered,--"_H. H_."
"_H.H.!_ What does that mean? I wonder."
"May-be the name of the owner," answered Clarice, timidly.
She was thinking, not of what the letters might have meant to others,
but of what they had come to signify to her and Luke.
"Who knows?" answered her mother; and she stood musing and absent, and
her face had a solemn look.
Clarice now took the basket to the fireplace and held it there till it
was dried. With the drying the colors brightened and the sand was easily
brushed away; but many a stain remained on the once dainty white silk
lining; the basket would hardly have been recognized by its owner.
Having dried and cleansed it as well as she was able, Clarice laid it
away in a chest for safe-keeping, and then ate her breakfast, standing.
After that, she went out to work again until the tide should come in.
She left the chain with her mother, but the ring she had tied to a cord,
and hung it around her neck.
By this time the children of the fishermen were all out, and the most
industrious of them at work. They scattered among the rocks and crags,
and wandered up and down the coast three miles, gathering sea-weed,
which it was their custom to dry, and then carry to town, the Port, not
many miles distant, where it was purchased by the glassmakers.
Clarice had neither brother nor sister, and she made little of the
children of the neighboring fishermen; for her life was one of toil, and
her inheritance seemed very different from theirs, though they were all
poor, and ate the crusts of labor.
Her father, had Nature only given him what she seemed to have intended
at the outset, might have been as successful a fisherman as lived at
the Bay. But he trusted to luck, and contrived to make half of what he
earned a serious damage to him. The remainder was little enough for the
comfort of his family, small though that family was.
Briton was a good fellow, everybody said. They meant that he was always
ready for sport, and time-wasting, and drinking, and that sort of
generosity which is the shabbiest sort of selfishness. They called him
"Old Briton," but he was not, by many, the oldest man in Diver's Bay;
he might have been the wickedest, had he not been the jolliest, and
incapable of hiding malice in his heart. And if I said he was out and
out the wickedest, I should request that people would refrain from
lifting up their hands in horror, on account of the poor old fellow. We
all know--alas, perhaps, we all love--wickeder souls than could have
been produced from among the older fishermen, had all their sins been
concentrated in one individual.
Old Briton was what the people called a lucky fisherman. In seasons when
he chose to work, the result was sufficiently obvious, to himself and
others, to astonish both. But even in the best seasons he was a bad
manager. He trusted everybody, and found, to his astonishment, how few
deserve to be trusted.
Dame Briton was a stout, loud-talking woman, whom experience had not
softened in her ways of speech or thought or action. She was generally
at strife with her husband, but the strife was most illogical. It did
not admit of a single legitimate deduction in the mind of a third
person. It seemed sometimes as if the pair were possessed of the
instincts of those animals which unite for mutual destruction, and as if
their purpose were to fulfil their destiny with the utmost rapidity.
In the years when Dame Briton, by nature proud and ambitious, was
putting forth the most successful efforts she ever made at decent
housekeeping, endeavoring to transform her husband into such a person as
he was not born to be, striving hard to work her will,--in those years
Clarice was born.
Is the pearl a product of disease?
Clarice grew up in the midst of influences not the purest or most
elevating. She was not by nature gay, but silent, truthful, and
industrious. She was no coward by nature, and her training made her
brave and hardy. Sometimes Old Briton called her his boy, and exacted
from her the service of a son. Dame Briton did not quarrel with him for
that; she was as proud as the fisherman of any feat of skill or strength
or courage performed by Clarice. In their way they were both fond of the
child, but their fondness had strange manifestation; and of much tender
speech, or fondling, or praise, the girl stood in no danger.
Idleness especially was held up before her, from the outset, as the most
destructive evil and dire iniquity of which human creature was capable;
and Old Briton, lounging about all day with his pipe in his mouth,--by
no means a rare spectacle,--did not interfere with the lesson the
child's mother enforced. Winter and summer there was enough for the
little feet and hands to do. So, as Clarice grew up, she earned the best
reputation for industry of any girl in Diver's Bay.
Before she became the praise of the serious Bay people, Luke Merlyn's
bright eyes were on the little girl, and he had a settled habit of
seeking times and opportunities for quiet talks with her. He liked to
ask and follow her advice in many matters. Many a heavy basket of weeds
had he helped her carry home from the rocks; many a shell and pebble had
he picked up in his coast-work, when he went beyond the limits of the
Bay,--because he knew the good girl had a liking for every pretty thing.
If Clarice Briton was the finest girl, Luke Merlyn, beyond question, was
the most promising fellow in this little village of fishermen. He was
strong, active, ready for any undertaking that required a bold spirit
and firm hand,--was quicker in thought and readier in speech than any
lad about. He had a little personal vanity,--and good looks to encourage
the same; but he had besides a generous heart, and the conviction was
general, whether expressed or not, that in Luke a man was growing up who
would some day take the lead among the fishermen of Diver's Bay. He had
a livelier fancy, a more active imagination, than any lad thereabout;
these qualities of mind, united to his courage and warmth of heart,
seemed to point toward a future worth arriving at.
When Luke returned from fishing, towards evening, he went down to
Briton's cabin, hardly taking time to remove from his person the traces
of his day of toil, his haste was so great.
Briton had arrived before him, and now sat at supper with his cup of
grog beside him. When Luke entered, Dame Briton was exhibiting the gold
chain, reserved, in spite of her impatience, till she had cooked the
It was partly on account of this chain that Luke had made such haste in
coming. He felt interested in the fortunes of the family to-night, and
he knew Briton's habit of bargaining and throwing away treasure.
Clarice was standing on the hearth when he arrived. As Luke passed the
window, he thought her face looked very sad; but when he crossed the
threshold, the expression greatly changed, or else he was mistaken. She
had been telling her father how she found the chain,--but concerning the
ring was silent, as in the morning. That ring was still fastened to its
cord, and hung about her neck. With reluctance she had shown it even
to her mother, and by this time, having scarcely thought of anything
beside, it possessed an almost sacred charm to her eyes. Why should I
not say it was the most sacred of all things to her, since that is but
"Is that the chain," asked Luke, as he came up behind the fisherman's
chair, and clapped Old Briton on the shoulder. "You could trade that for
a silver watch."
"What's that?" asked Briton, quickly taking up the lad's words; and he
pulled out his pewter watch and laid it on the table. "A silver watch?"
"A silver watch, as good as ever run, for that gold chain. Just see how
fine it is!"
"So, so!" said the fisherman, thoughtfully resting his rough chin in his
broad palm. That was his attitude, when, at home, he contemplated any
of those famous bargains which always turned out so differently from
anything that he anticipated.
"Let Luke do the trading for ye," said Briton's wife, quickly
recognizing his symptoms.
She looked from the lad to her daughter, and back again, five or six
times in a second,--seeing more than most people could have seen in
observation apparently so careless and superficial.
"I kept a sharp look out, Clary, all day, but I saw nothing," said Luke,
going over to the hearth.
"Nothing,--but," he added, she looked so disappointed, "but, for all
that, some one else may."
"Oh, I hope so"!"
"What are you talking about?" asked Briton.
"The shipwreck," said Luke.
"Oh!--well, Luke,--will you make the trade, Sir? What do _you_ say,
Clarice? The chain belongs to you, after all," said Briton, with a
laugh,--he could not help the shipwreck. "What are you going to do with
it, my girl?"
"It is yours, father."
"Thank ye!--a present!" Old Briton looked well pleased.
"And if Luke will take it over"--
"I'll go to-night," said Luke, ready to start that moment, if such was
the wish of any person in the house.
Briton laughed. "No, you won't," said he. "What the deuse!--Sit down and
take something. What are you all standing about for? Sit down. You shall
do the trading, Luke. There now, I've said it, and I hope you are all
He laughed again; for he knew very well--he had often enough heard it
stated in full--the estimate set on his skill in making a bargain.
"You haven't seen the ring yet?" said Dame Briton, quite kindly, now
that this matter was settled to her mind. "Where's the ring, Clarice?"
Other eyes were on the girl besides those of her mother. Old Briton
pushed back his dish, and looked at Clarice. Luke was smiling. That
smile became joyful and beautiful to see, when Clarice, blushing,
removed the string from her neck and showed the ring.
"That's neat," said Briton, turning the delicate ornament round and
round, examining its chaste workmanship admiringly. "I never saw a
pearl like that, Mother. What do you wear it round your neck for,
Clarice?--put it on your finger."
Luke Merlyn had come to Briton's cabin to explain how matters stood
between him and Clarice, as well as to look after the other bargain.
Taking advantage of her hesitation, he now said,--
"She could not wear it at her work. And it's a token betwixt her and me.
_Heart and Hand_. Don't you see the letters? That's what they mean to
Luke spoke out so boldly, that Clarice ceased to tremble; and when he
took her hand and held it, she was satisfied to stand there and answer,
that the joined hands were a symbol of the united hearts.
"What's that, old woman?" asked Briton, looking at his wife, as if for
"Luke, what do you mean? Are you asking for Clarice?" inquired the dame.
"Yes, Mrs. Briton."
"That's right enough, old woman," said Briton; and strong approval,
together with some emotion, was in his voice.
"Babes in arms, both of 'em! But a promise a'n't no hurt,"--was the
dame's comment. Neither was she quite unmoved, as she looked at the
young pair standing on the hearth; such another, her heart told her, was
not to be found in Diver's Bay.
"Clarice is a good girl, Luke Merlyn," said Old Briton, solemnly.
"She is so," confirmed the mother. "So take the ring there for your
Luke came forward and received the ring from Old Briton, and he laid the
string that held it round Clarice's neck.
"Take this chain," said Briton, with a softened voice. "It's fitter than
the string, and none too good for Clarice. Take it, Luke, and put the
"I'm going to trade that chain for a silver watch," said Luke, answering
according to the light he saw in the eyes of Clarice. "That chain is
Clary's wedding present to her father."
"Thank you, Luke," said Briton,--and he drew his hand across his eyes,
not for a pretence. Then he took up his old pewter watch, the companion
of many years; he looked at it without and within, silently; perhaps was
indulging in a little sentimental reflection; but he put it into his
pocket without speaking, and went on with his supper, as if nothing had
* * * * *
This took place before Clarice was fourteen years of age. At seventeen
she was still living under her father's roof, and between her and Luke
Merlyn the pearl ring still remained a token.
Luke used to praise her beauty when there was little of it to praise.
He was not blinder when the young face began to be conspicuous for the
growing loveliness of the spirit within. The little slender figure
sprang up into larger, fuller life, with vigor, strength, and grace; the
activity of her thoughts and the brightness of their intelligence became
evident, as well as the tenderness and courage of her heart. Her own
home, and many another, was the better for Clarice.
Some Sunday in this summer of her seventeenth year, when the missionary
came down to the Bay, they were to be married. It was settled where they
were to live. A few years before, a young artist came to the Bay and
built a cabin near the settlement; there, during the summer months, he
lodged, for several seasons,--spending his time in studying the rocks
of the coast and sailing about in his pleasure-boat. The last autumn he
spent here he gave the cabin to Luke, in consideration of some generous
service, and it was well known that to this home Luke would bring his
wife ere long.
But one bright day of this gay summer of anticipated bridal, Luke Merlyn
went with his father, taking the fishing-nets, and a dozen men beside
sailed or rowed out from the moorings; and all that went returned, save
Merlyn and his son,--returned alive, but rowing desperately, sails
furled, rowing for life in the gale. Nearly all the women and children
of the Bay were down on the beach at nightfall, watching for the coming
of husband, son, and brother; and before dark all had arrived except
Merlyn and his Luke.
The wind was blowing with terrific violence, and darkness fell on the
deep like despair. But until the windows of heaven were opened, and the
floods poured down, Clarice Briton and her father, and the wife and
children of Merlyn, stood on the beach, or climbed the rocks, and waited
and tried to watch.
There was little sleep among them all that night. With the first
approach of day, Clarice, who had sat all night by the fire watching
with her fears, was out again waiting till dawn should enable her
to search the shore. She was not long alone. The fishermen gathered
together, and when they saw the poor girl who had come before them, for
her sake they comforted each other, as men dare,--and for her sake, more
than their own, when they saw that there had come in to shore by night
no token of disaster. Doubtless, they argued, Merlyn had put into the
nearest port when the sudden storm arose. As the day advanced, they one
after another got out their boats, and rowed down the bay, but did not
take their nets.
Bondo Emmins went out with Old Briton, and Clarice heard him say, though
he did not address her, that, if Luke Merlyn was alive, they would never
come home without him. Now Bondo Emmins never loved Luke Merlyn, for
Luke won every prize that Bondo coveted; and Bondo was not a hero to
admire such superior skill. When Clarice heard his words, and saw that
he was going out with her father, her heart stood still; it did not
bless him; she turned away quickly, faint, cold, shivering. What he said
had to her ears the sound of an assurance that this search was vain.
All day there was sad waiting, weary watching, around Diver's Bay. And
late in the afternoon but one or two of the boats that went out in
search had returned.
Towards evening Clarice walked away to the Point, three miles off;
thence she could watch the boats as they approached the Bay from the
ocean. Once before, that day, under the scorching noontide sun, she had
gone thither,--and now again, for she could not endure the sympathy of
friends or the wondering watch of curious eyes. It was better than to
stand and wait,--better than to face the grief of Merlyn's wife and
children,--better than to see the pity in her neighbors' faces, or even
than to hear the voice of her own mother.
The waves had freight for her that evening. When the tide came in, and
her eyes were lifted, gazing afar, scanning the broad expanse of water
with such searching, anxious vision, as, it seemed, nothing could
escape, Luke Merlyn's cap was dashed to her very feet, tossed from the
Moving back to escape the encroaching tide, Clarice saw the cap lying,
caught on the cragged point of rock before her. Oh, she knew it well!
She stooped,--she took it up,--she need not wait for any other token.
She dared not look upon the sea again. She turned away. But whither?
Where now was her home? So long a time, since she was a child, it had
been in the heart of Luke! Where was that heart lying? What meant this
token sent to her from the deep sea? Oh, life and love! was not all now
over? Heart still, hand powerless, home lost, she sat on the beach till
night fell. At sunset she stood up to look once more up and down the
mighty field of waters, along the shore, as far as her eyes could
reach,--but saw nothing. Then she sat down again, and waited until long
after the stars appeared. Once or twice the thought that her mother
would wonder at her long absence moved her; but she impatiently
controlled the feeble impulse to arise and return, until she recalled
the words of Bondo Emmins. Luke's mother, too,--and the cap in her care.
If no one else had tidings for her, she had tidings.
Her father had reached home before her, and there was now no watcher on
the beach, so far as Clarice could discover. Perhaps there was no longer
any doubt in any mind. She hurried to the cabin. At the door she met
Bondo Emmins coming out. He had a lantern in his hand.
"Is that you, Clarice?" said he. "I was just going to look for you."
She scanned his face by the glare of the lantern with terrible
eagerness, to see what tidings he had for her. He only looked grave. It
was a face whose signs Clarice had never wholly trusted, but she did not
doubt them now.
"I have found his cap," said she, in a low, troubled voice. "You said,
that, if he was alive, you would find him. I heard you. What have you
Then she passed by him, though he would have spoken further. She went
into the house and sat down on the hearth with Luke's cap in her hand,
which she held up before the fire to dry. So she sat one morning holding
the tiny basket which the waves had dashed ashore.
Briton and his wife looked at each other, and at young Emmins, who,
after a moment's hesitation, had put out the lantern light, and followed
her back into the house.
"It is his cap," said Bondo, in a low voice, but not so low as to escape
the ear of Clarice.
"The sea sent it for a token," said she, without turning her gaze from
The old people moved up to the hearth.
"Sit down, Emmins," said Briton. "You've served us well to-day." In any
trouble Old Briton's comfort was in feeling a stout wall of flesh around
Bondo sat down. Then he and Briton helped each other explain the course
taken by themselves and the other boat-men that day, and they talked of
what they would do on the morrow; but they failed to comfort Clarice,
or to awaken in her any hope. She knew that in reality they had no hope
"They will never come back," said she. "You will never find them."
She spoke so calmly that her father was deceived. If this was her
conviction, it would be safe to speak his own.
"The tide may bring the poor fellows in," said he.
At these words the cap which the poor girl held fell from her hand.
She spoke no more. No word or cry escaped her,--not by a look did she
acknowledge that there was community in this grief,--as solitary as if
she were alone in the universe, she sat gazing into the fire. She was
not overcome by things external, tangible, as she had been when she sat
alone out on the sea-beach at the Point. The world in an instant seemed
to sink out of her vision, and time from her consciousness; her soul set
out on a search in which her mortal sense had failed,--and here no arm
of flesh could help her.
"I shall find him," she said, in a whisper. They all heard her, and
looked at one another, trouble and wonder in their faces. "I shall find
him," she repeated, in a louder tone; and she drew herself up, and bent
forward,--but her eyes saw not the cheerful fire-light, her ears took
in no sound of crackling fagot, rising wind, or muttered fear among the
three who sat and looked at her.
Bondo Emmins had taken up the cap when Clarice dropped it,--he had
examined it inside and out, and passed it to Dame Briton. There was
no mistaking the ownership. Not a child of Diver's Bay but would have
recognized it as the property of Luke Merlyn. The dame passed it to the
old man, who looked at it through tears, and then smoothed it over his
great fist, and came nearer to the fire, and silence fell upon them all.
At last Dame Briton said, beginning stoutly, but ending with a sob, "Has
anybody seen poor Merlyn's wife? Who'll tell her? Oh! oh!"
"I will go tell her that Clarice found the cap," said Bondo Emmins,
Clarice sat like one in a stupor,--but, that was no dull light shining
from her eyes. Still she seemed deaf and dumb; for, when Bondo bade her
good-night, she did not answer him, nor give the slightest intimation
that she was aware of what passed around her.
But when he was gone, and her father said,--"Come, Clarice,--now for
bed,--you'll wake the earlier,"--she instantly arose to act on his
He followed her to the door of her little chamber and lingered there a
moment. He wanted to say something for comfort, but had nothing to say;
so he turned away in silence, and drank a pint of grog.
Bondo Emmins was not a native of Diver's Bay. Only during the past three
or four years had he lived among the fishermen. He called the place his
home, but now and then indications of restlessness escaped him, and
seemed to promise years of wandering, rather than a life of patient,
contented industry. He and Luke Merlyn were as unlike as any two young
men that ever fished in the same bay. Luke was as firm, constant,
reliable, from the day when he first managed a net, as any veteran whose
gray hairs are honorable. Emmins flashed here and there like a wandering
star; and whatever people might say of him when he was out of sight, he
had the art of charming them to admiration while they were under his
personal influence. He was lavish with his money; almost every cabin had
a gift from him. He could talk forever, and with many was a true oracle.
Though he worked regularly at his business, work seemed turned to play
when he took it in hand. He could shout so as to be heard across the
ocean,--so the children thought; he told stories better than any; and at
the signal of his laughter it seemed as if the walls themselves would
shake to pieces. When he hit on a device, it was strange indeed if
he did not succeed in executing it; and no one was the wiser for the
mortification and inward displeasure of the man, when he failed in any
When Emmins came to Diver's Bay Clarice Briton was but a child, yet
already the promised wife of Luke Merlyn. If this fact was made known
to him, as very probably it was, Clarice was not a girl to excite his
admiration or win his love. But as time passed on, Emmins found that he
was not the only man in Diver's Bay; of all men to regard as a rival,
there was Luke Merlyn! Luke, who went quietly about his business,
interfering with no one, careful, brave, exact, had a firm place among
the people, which might for a time be overshadowed, but from which he
could not be moved. Two or three times Bondo Emmins stumbled against
that impregnable position, and found that he must take himself out of
the way. A small jealousy, a sharp rivalry, which no one suspected,
quietly sprang up in his mind, and influenced his conduct; and he was
not one who ever attempted to subdue or destroy what he found within
him, he was instead always endeavoring to bring the outer world
into harmony with what he found within. A fine time he had of it,
persistently laboring to make a victim of himself to himself!
People praised Clarice Briton, and now and then Emmins looked that way,
and saw that the girl, indeed, was well enough. He despised Luke, and
Clarice seemed a very proper match for him. But while Bondo Emmins was
managing in his own way, and cherishing the feeling he had against Luke,
by seeking to prove himself the braver and more skilful fellow, Clarice
was growing older in years and in love, her soul was growing brighter,
her heart was getting lighter, her mind clearer,--her womanhood was
unfolding in a certain lovely manner that was discernible to other eyes
than those of Luke Merlyn. Luke said it was the ring that wrought the
change,--that he could see its light all around her,--that it had a
charm of which they could know nothing save by its results, for its
secret had perished with its owner in the sea. His mermaid he would
sometimes call her,--and declared that often, by that mysterious pearly
light, he saw Clarice when far out at sea, and that at any time by two
words he could bring her to him. She knew the words,--they were as dear
to her as to him.
While Clarice was thus unfolding to this loveliness through love, Bondo
Emmins suddenly saw her as if for the first time. The vision was to him
as surprising as if the ring had indeed a power of enchantment, and
it had been thrown around him. He was as active and as resolute in
attempting to persuade himself that all this was nothing to him as
he was active and resolute in other endeavors,--but he was not as
successful as he supposed he should be. For it was not enough that
Emmins should laugh at himself, and say that the pretty couple were
meant for each other. Now and then, by accident, he obtained a glimpse
of Clarice's happy heart; the pearl-like secret of their love, which was
none the less a secret because everybody knew that Luke and Clarice were
to be married some day, would sometimes of itself unexpectedly give some
token, which he, it seemed, could better appreciate than any one beside
the parties concerned. When some such glimpse was obtained, some such
token received, Bondo Emmins would retire within himself to a most
gloomy seclusion; there was a world which had been conquered, and
therein he had no foothold. If Clarice wore the pearl in her bosom, on
Luke's head was a crown, and Bondo Emmins just hated him for that.
But he never thought of a very easy method by which he might have
escaped the trouble of his jealousy. The great highway of ocean was open
before him, and millions of men beside Luke Merlyn were in the world,
millions of women beside Clarice Briton. No! Diver's Bay,--and a score
of people,--and a thought that smelt like brimstone, and fiery enough
to burn through the soul that tried to keep it,--this for
him;--fishing,--making bargains,--visiting at Old Briton's,--making
presents to the dame,--telling stories, singing songs by that fireside,
and growing quieter by every other,--that was the way he did it;--cured
himself of jealousy? No! made himself a fool.
Old Briton liked this young man; he could appreciate his excellences
even better than he could those of Luke; there were some points
of resemblance between them. Emmins was as careless of money, as
indifferent to growing rich, as Briton ever was; the virtues of the
youth were not such as ever reproached the vices of the veteran. They
could make boisterous merriment in each other's company. Briton's praise
was never lacking when Bondo's name was mentioned. He accepted service
of the youth, and the two were half the time working in partnership. In
the cabin he had always a welcome, and Dame Briton gave him her entire
Luke did not fear, he had once admired the man; and because he was a
peace-maker by nature, and could himself keep the peace, he never took
any of Bondo's scathing speech in anger nor remembered it against him.
Usually he joined in the laugh, unless some brave, manly word were
required; honorable in his nature, he could not be always jealous in
maintaining that of which he felt so secure.
If Clarice did not penetrate the cause, she clearly saw the fact that
Bondo Emmins had no love for Luke. She might wonder at it, but Luke
suffered no loss in consequence,--it was rather to his praise, she
thought, that this was so. And she remembered the disputes between the
young men which she had chanced to hear, only to decide again, as she
had often decided, in favor of Luke's justice and truth.
When the time of great trouble came, and this man was going out with her
father in search of Merlyn and his son, her impulse, had she acted on
it, would have prevented him. He looked so strong, so proud, in spite
of his solemn face! He looked so full of life, she could not endure to
think that his eyes might discover the dead body of poor Luke.
When she came home and found that he had returned with her father,
before her, on the evening of that day of vain search for Merlyn and his
son, a strange satisfaction came to Clarice for a moment,--touched her
heart and passed,--was gone as it came. When she said, "I shall find
him," conviction, as well as determination, was in the words,--and more
beside than entered the ears of those that heard her.
[To be continued.]
THE STORY OF KARIN.
A DANISH LEGEND.
Karin the fair, Karin the gay,
She came on the morn of her bridal day,--
She came to the mill-pond clear and bright,
And viewed hersel' in the morning light.
"And oh," she cried, "that my bonny brow
May ever be white and smooth as now!
"And oh, my hair, that I love to braid,
Be yellow in sunshine, and brown in shade!
"And oh, my waist, sae slender and fine,
May it never need girdle longer than mine!"
She lingered and laughed o'er the waters clear,
When sudden she starts, and shrieks in fear:--
"Oh, what is this face, sae laidly old,
That looks at my side in the waters cold?"
She turns around to view the bank,
And the osier willows dark and dank;--
And from the fern she sees arise
An aged crone wi' awsome eyes,
"Ha! ha!" she laughed, "ye're a bonny bride!
See how ye'll fare gin the New Year tide!
"Ye'll wear a robe sae blithely gran',
An ell-long girdle canna span.
"When twal-months three shall pass away,
Your berry-brown hair shall be streaked wi' gray.
"And gin ye be mither of bairnies nine,
Your brow shall be wrinkled and dark as mine."
Karin she sprang to her feet wi' speed,
And clapped her hands abune her head:--
"I pray to the saints and spirits all
That never a child may me mither call!"
The crone drew near, and the crone she spake:--
"Nine times flesh and banes shall ache.
"Laidly and awsome ye shall wane
Wi' toil, and care, and travail-pain."
"Better," said Karin, "lay me low,
And sink for aye in the water's flow!"
The crone raised her withered hand on high,
And showed her a tree that stood hard by.
"And take of the bonny fruit," she said,
"And eat till the seeds are dark and red.
"Count them less, or count them more,
Nine times you shall number o'er;--
"And when each number you shall speak,
Cast seed by seed into the lake."
Karin she ate of the fruit sae fine;
'Twas mellow as sand, and sweet as brine.
Seed by seed she let them fall;
The waters rippled over all.
But ilka seed as Karin threw,
Uprose a bubble to her view,--
Uprose a sigh from out the lake,
As though a baby's heart did break.
* * * * *
Twice nine years are come and gone;
Karin the fair she walks her lone.
She sees around, on ilka side,
Maiden and mither, wife and bride.
Wan and pale her bonny brow,
Sunken and sad her eyelids now.
Slow her step, and heavy her breast,
And never an arm whereon to rest.
The old kirk-porch when Karin spied,
The postern-door was open wide.
"Wae's me!" she said, "I'll enter in
And shrive me from my every sin."
'Twas silence all within the kirk;
The aisle was empty, chill, and mirk.
The chancel-rails were black and bare;
Nae priest, nae penitent was there.
Karin knelt, and her prayer she said;
But her heart within her was heavy and dead.
Her prayer fell back on the cold gray stone;
It would not rise to heaven alone.
Darker grew the darksome aisle,
Colder felt her heart the while.
"Wae's me!" she cried, "what is my sin?
Never I wronged kith nor kin.
"But why do I start and quake wi' fear
Lest I a dreadful doom should hear?
"And what is this light that seems to fall
On the sixth command upon the wall?
"And who are these I see arise
And look on me wi' stony eyes?
"A shadowy troop, they flock sae fast
The kirk-yard may not hold the last.
"Young and old of ilk degree,
Bairns, and bairnies' bairns, I see.
"All I look on either way,
'Mother, mother!' seem to say.
"'We are souls that might have been,
But for your vanity and sin.
"'We, in numbers multiplied,
Might have lived, and loved, and died,--
"'Might have served the Lord in this,--
Might have met thy soul in bliss.
"'Mourn for us, then, while you pray,
Who might have been, but never may!'"