Part 2 out of 5
it shall find an answer in the Saviour Dionysus, who shall change the
flight of search into the pomp of triumph.
* * * * *
But let us pause a moment. It is Palm Sunday! We are not, indeed, in
Syria, the land of palms. Yet, even here,--lost in some far-reaching
avenue of pines, where one could hardly walk upon a summer Sunday
without such sense of joy as would move him to tears,--even here all the
movements of the earth and the heavens hint of most jubilant triumph.
Thus, the green grass rises above the dead grass at our feet; the
leaf-buds new-born upon the tree, like lotos-buds springing up from
Ethiopian marble, give token of resurrection; the trees themselves tower
heavenward; and in victorious ascension the clouds unite in the vast
procession, dissolving in exhalation at the "gates of the sun"; while
from unnumbered choirs arise songs of exultant victory from the hearts
of men to the throne of God!
But whither, in divine remembrance,--whither is it that upon this Sunday
of all Sundays the thoughts of Christendom point? Back through eighteen
hundred years to the triumphant entry of Jesus into Jerusalem, followed
by the children crying, "Hosanna in the highest heavens!" Of this it is
that the processions of Nature, in the resurrections of birth and the
aerial ascension of clouds,--of this that the upward processions of our
thoughts are commemorative!
Thus was the sixth day of the Eleusinia,--when the ivy-crowned Dionysus
was borne in triumph through the mystic entrance of Eleusis, and from
the Eleusinian plains, as from our choirs to-day, ascended the jubilant
Hosannas of the countless multitude;--this was the Palm Sunday of
Close upon the chariot-wheels of the Saviour Dionysus followed, in
the faith of Greece, Aesculapius and Hercules: the former the Divine
Physician, whose very name was healing, and who had power over death,
as the child of the Sun; and the latter, who by his saving strength
delivered the earth from its Augean impurities, and, arrayed in
celestial panoply, subdued the monsters of the earth, and at last,
descending to Hades, slew the three-headed Cerberus and took away from
men much of the fear of death. Such was the train of the Eleusinian
Dionysus. If Demeter was the wanderer, he was the conqueror and centre
of all triumph.
And this reminds us of his Indian conquest. What did it mean? Admit that
it may have been only the fabulous march in triumph of some forgotten
king of mortal birth to the farthest limits of the East. Still the fact
of its association with Dionysus stands as evidence of the connection of
human faith with human victory. Let it be that Dionysus himself was only
the apotheosis of victorious humanity. In strict logic this is more than
probable. Yet why apotheosize conquerors at all? Why exalt all heroes to
the rank of gods?
The reason is, that men are unwilling to draw a limited meaning from any
human act. How could they, then, connecting, as they did, all victory
with hope,--how could they fall short of the most exalted hope, of the
most excellent victory; especially in instances like the one now under
our notice, where the material circumstances of the conquest as well
as of the conqueror's life have passed out of remembrance; when for
generations men have dwelt upon the dim tradition in their thoughts, and
it has had time to grow into its fullest significance,--even finding
an elaborate expression in sacred writings, in symbolic ritual, and
monumental entablature? Osiris, who subjected men to his reign of peace,
was also held to be the Preserver of their souls. Even Caesar, had he
lived two thousand years before, might have been worshipped as Saviour.
All extended power, measured by duration in time or vast areas of space,
becomes an incarnate Presence in the world, which awes to the dust
all who resist it, and exalts with its own glory all who trust in it.
Achtheia mourns all failures; and here it is that the human touches the
earth. But they who conquer, these are our Saviours; they shall follow
in the train of Dionysus; they shall lift us to the heavens, and
sanctify in our remembrance the Sunday of Palms!
But Dionysus not only looks back with triumphant remembrance to ancient
conquest, but has his victories in the present, also, and in the great
Hereafter. For triumph was connected with all Dionysiac symbols, hints
of which are preserved to us in representations found upon ancient
vases: such, for instance, as the figure of Victory surmounting the
heads of the ivy-crowned Bacchantes in their mystic orgies; or the
winged serpents which bear the chariot of the victor-god,--as if in
this connection even the reptiles, whose very name (_serpentes_) is
a synonyme for what creeps, are to be made the ministrants of his
conquering flight. The tombs of the ancients from Egypt to Etruria are
full of these symbols. Many of them have become dim as to their meaning
by oblivious time; but enough is evident to indicate the prominence
of hope in ancient faith. This appears in the very multiplicity of
Dionysiac symbols as compared with any other class. Thus, out of
sixty-six vases at Polignano, all but one or two were found to be
Dionysiac in their symbolism. And this instance stands for many others.
The _character_ of the scenes represented indicates the same prominence
of hope, sometimes as connected with the relations of life,--as, for
example, the representation, found upon a sepulchral cone, of a husband
and wife uniting with each other in prayer to the Sun. Frequent
inscriptions--such as those in which the deceased is carefully committed
to Osiris, the Egyptian Dionysus--point in the same direction; as
also the genii who presided over the embalmed dead, a belief in whose
existence surely indicated a hopeful trust in some divine care which
would not leave them even in the grave. Statues of Osiris are found
among the ruins of palaces and temples; but it was in the monuments
associated with death that they dwelt most upon his name and expressed
their faith in most frequent incarnation and inscription.
The epic movement of Eleusinian triumph was in its range as unlimited
as the movement of sorrow. Each found expression in sculptured
monument,--the one hinting of flight into darkness, and the other of
resurrection into light; each in its cycle inclosed the world; each
widened into the invisible; as the wail of Achtheia reached the heart of
Hades, so the paean of Dionysus was lost in the heavens.
* * * * *
But in what manner did this Dionysus make his _avatar_ in the world? For
he must needs have first touched the earth as human child, ere he could
be worshipped as Divine Saviour. Latona must leave the heavens and come
to Delos ere she can give birth to Apollo; for, in order to slay the
serpent, the child must himself be earth-born,--indeed, according to one
representation, he slew the Python out of his mother's arms. Neither the
serpent of Genesis nor the dragon of Revelation can be conquered save
by the seed of the woman. From this necessity of his earthly birth,
the connection of the Saviour-Child with the _Mater Dolorosa_ becomes
universal,--finding its counterpart in the Assyrian Venus with babe in
arm, in Isis suckling the child Horus, and even in the Scandinavian Disa
at Upsal accompanied by an infant. It is from swaddling-clothes, as the
nursling of our Lady, and out of the sorrowful discipline of earth, that
the child grows to be the Saviour, both for our Lady and for all her
Hence, according to the tradition, Dionysus was born of Semele of the
royal house at Thebes; and Jove was his father. A little before his time
of birth,--so the story goes,--Jove visited Semele, at her own rash
request, in all the majesty of his presence, with thunderings and
lightnings, so that the bower of the virgin mother was laid in ruins,
and she herself, unable to stand before the revealed god, was consumed
as by fire. But Jove out of her ashes perfected the birth of his son;
whence he was called the Child of Fire, ([Greek: puripais],)--which
epithet, as well as this part of the fable, probably points to his
connection with the Oriental symbolism of fire in the worship of the
And it is worth while, in connection with this, to notice the gradations
by which in the ancient mind everything ascended from the gross material
to a refined spirituality. As in Nature there was forever going on a
subtilizing process, so that
"from the root
Springs lighter the green stalk, from thence the leaves
More aery, last the bright consummate flower
Spirits odorous breathes,"--
and as, in their philosophy, from the earth, as the principle of Nature,
they ascended through the more subtile elements of water, air, and fire,
to a spiritual conception of the universe; so, as regards their
faith, its highest incarnation was through the symbolism of fire, as
representative of that central Power under whose influence all things
arose through endless grades of exaltation to Himself,--so that the
earthly rose into the heavenly, and all that was human became divine.
The enthusiasm of victory and exaltation in the worship of Dionysus
tended of course to connect with him whatsoever was joyous and jubilant
in life. He was the god of all joy. Hence the fable which makes him the
author and giver of wine to men. Wherever he goes, he is surrounded by
the clustering vine and ivy, hinting of his summer glory and of his
kingly crown. Thus, the line of his conquests leads through the richest
fields of Southern Asia,--through the incense-breathing Arabia, across
the Euphrates and the Tigris, and through the flowery vales of Cashmere
to the Indian garden of the world: and as from sea to sea he establishes
his reign by bloodless victories, he is attended by Fauns and Satyrs and
the jovial Pan; wine and honey are his gifts; and all the earth is glad
in his gracious presence. Hence he was ever associated with Oriental
luxuriance, and was worshipped even among the Greeks with a large
infusion of Oriental extravagance, though tempered by the more subdued
mood of the West.
But that depth of Grecian genius, which made it possible for Greece
alone of all ancient nations to develop tragedy to anything like
perfection, insured also even in the most impassioned life the most
profound solemnity. Into the praises of Apollo, joyous as they
were,--where, to the exultant anthem was joined the evolution of the
dance beneath the vaulted sky, as if in his very presence,--for the sun
was his shechinah,--there enters an element of solemnity, which, in
certain connections, is almost overwhelming: as, for instance, in the
first book of the "Iliad,"--where, after the pestilence which has sent
up an endless series of funeral pyres,--after the strife of heroes
and the return of Chryseis to her father, the priest of the angry
Apollo,--after the feast and the libation from the wine-crowned cups,
there follow the _apotropoea_, and the Grecian youths unite in the
song and the dance, which last, both the joyous paean and the tread of
exultant feet, until the setting sun. I know of nothing which to
an equal degree suggests this element of solemnity, that is almost
awe-inspiring from its depth, short of the jubilant procession of
saints, in the Apocalypse, with palms in their hands.
This element is also evident in the worship of Dionysus,--so that the
inspiration of joy must not be taken for the frenzy of intoxication,
though the symbol of the vine has often led to just this
misapprehension. Besides, Dionysus must not be too closely identified
with the Bacchanalian orgies, which were only a perversion of rites
which retained their original purity in the Eleusinia: and this latter
institution, it must be remembered, was from the first under the control
of the state,--and that state at the time the most refined on the face
of the earth.
Surely, it is not more difficult to give a pure and spiritual
significance to a vintage-festival or to the symbolic wine-cup of
Dionysus, than in the rhapsodies of a Persian or Hindu poet to symbolize
the attraction between the Divine Goodness and the human soul by the
loves of Laili and Majnum, or of Crishna and Radha,--to say nothing of
the exalted symbolism attached to the love of Solomon for his Egyptian
princess, and sanctioned by the most delicate taste.
Indeed, is it not true that whatsoever is most sensuous in connection
with human joy, and at the same time pure, is the very flower of life,
and therefore the most consummate revelation of holiness? Nothing in
Nature is so intensely solemn as her summer, in its infinite fulness of
growth and the unmeasured altitude of its heavens. And within the range
of human associations which shall we select as revealing the most
profound solemnity? Surely not the sight of the funeral train, nor of
the urn crowned with cypress,--of nothing which is associated with death
or weakness in any shape;--but the sight of gayest festivals, or the
paraphernalia of palace-halls,--the vision of some youthful maiden of
transcendent beauty crowned with an orange-wreath, within hearing of
marriage-bells and the whisperings of holy love,--or the aspirations of
the dance and the endless breathings of triumphant music. These are they
which come up most prominently in remembrance,--even as the whole race,
in its remembrances, instinctively looks back to the Orient,--to some
Homeric island of the morning, where are the palaces, the choral dances,
and the risings of the sun.[e] And as Memory has the power to purify the
past of all material grossness, Faith has the same power as regards the
present Hence, the closest connection of religious faith with the
most joyous festivals, with a finely moulded Venus or Apollo, with an
Ephesian temple or a splendid cathedral, or the sweetest symphonies of
music, does not mar, but reveals its natural beauty and strength.
[Footnote e: _Odyssey_, xii., 4.]
But most certainly the Greeks gave a profound spiritual meaning to the
Eleusinia, as also to the mystic connection of Demeter with Dionysus.
She gave them bread: but they never forgot that she gave them the bread
of life. "She gave us," says the ancient Isocrates, "two gifts that are
the most excellent: fruits, that we might not live like beasts; and that
initiation, those who have part in which have sweeter hope,--both as
regards the close of life, and for all eternity." So Dionysus gave them
wine, not only to lighten the cares of life, but as a token, moreover,
of efficient deliverance from the fear of death, and of the higher joy
which he would give them in some happier world. And thus it is, that,
from the earliest times and in all the world, bread and wine have been
symbols of sacramental significance.
Human life so elevates all things with its exaltation and clothes them
with its glory, that nothing vain, nothing trifling, can be found within
its range. He who opposes himself to a single fact thus of necessity
opposes himself to the whole onward and upward current, and must fall.
We have heard of Thor, who with his magic mallet and his two celestial
comrades went to Joetunheim in quest of adventures: and we remember the
goblet which he could not exhaust because of its mysterious connection
with the inexhaustible Sea; the race with Hugi, which in the end proved
to be a race with Thought; and the wrestle with the old nurse Elli, who
was no other than Time herself, and therefore irresistible. So do we all
get us mallets ingeniously forged by the dark elves;--we try a race with
human thought, and look vainly to come out ahead; we laugh at things
because they are old, but with which we struggle to no purpose; and the
cup which we confidently put to our lips has no bottom;--in fact, the
great world of Joetunheim has grown for so long a time and so widely that
it is quite too much for us,--and its tall people, though we come down
upon them, like Thor and his companions, from celestial heights, are too
stout for our mallet.
Nothing human is so insignificant, but that, if you will give it time
and room, it will become irresistible. The plays of men become their
dramas; their holidays change to holy days. The representations, through
which, under various names, they have repeated to themselves the glory
and the tragedy of their life,--old festivals once celebrated in Egypt
far back beyond the dimmest myths of human remembrance,--the mystic
drama of the Eleusinia, which we have been considering in its
overwhelming sorrow developed in hurried flight, and its lofty
hope through triumphal pomp and the significant symbolism of
resurrection,--the epos and the epic rhapsodies,--the circus and
the amphitheatre,--and even the impetuous song and dance of painted
savages,--all these, which at first we may pass by with a glance, have
for our deeper search a meaning which we can never wholly exhaust. Let
it be that they have grown from feeble beginnings, they have grown to
gigantic dimensions; and not their infantile proportions, but their
fullest growth is to be taken as the measure of their strength,--if,
indeed, it be not wholly immeasurable.
Upon some day, seemingly by chance, but really having its antecedent
in the remotest antiquity, a company of men participate in some simple
act,--of sacrifice, it may be, or of amusement. Now that act will be
"Quod semel dictum est stabilisque rerum
The subtile law of repetition, as regards the human will, is as sure
in Determination as it is in Consciousness. Habit is as inevitable as
Memory; and as nothing can be forgotten, but, when once known, is
known forever,--so nothing is done but will be done again. Lethe and
Annihilation are only myths upon the earth, which men, though suspicious
of their eternal falsehood, name to themselves in moments of despair
and fearful apprehension. The poppy has only a fabled virtue; but, like
Persephone, we have all tasted of the pomegranate, and must ever to
Hades and back again; for while death and oblivion only seem to be,
remembrances and resurrections there must be, and without end. Therefore
this before-mentioned act of sacrifice or amusement will be reiterated
at given intervals; about it, as a centre, will be gathered all the
associations of intense interest in human life; and the names connected
with its origin--once human names upon the earth--will pass upon the
stars, so that the _nomina_ shall have changed to _numina_, and be
taken upon the lips with religious awe. So it was with these old
festivals,--so with all the representations of human life in stone or
upon the canvas, in the fairy-tale, the romance, and the poem; at every
successive repetition, at every fresh resurrection, is evolved by human
faith and sympathy a deeper significance, until they become the
centres of national thought and feeling, and men believe in them as in
revelations from heaven; and even the oracles themselves, in respect of
their inherent meaning, as also of their origin and authority, rise
by the same ascending series of repeated birth,--like that at Delphi,
which, at first attributed to the Earth, then to Themis, daughter of
Earth and Heaven, was at last connected with the Sun and constituted one
of the richest gems in Apollo's diadem of light.
In the end we shall find that the whole world organizes about its centre
of Faith. Thus, under three different religious systems, Jerusalem,
Delphi, and Mecca were held to be each in its turn the _omphalos_ or
navel of the world. It follows inevitably that the _main_ movement of
the world must always be joyous and hopeful. By reason of this joy it is
that every religious system has its feast; and the sixth day--the day
of Iacchus--is the great day of the festival. The inscription which
rises above every other is "To the Saviour Gods."
We must look at history as a succession of triumphs from the beginning;
and each trophy that is erected outdoes in its magnificence all that
were ever erected before it. Nothing has suffered defeat, except as it
has run counter to the main movement of conquest. No system of faith,
therefore, can by any possibility pass away. Involved it may be in some
fuller system; its _material_ bases may be modified; its central source
become more central in the human heart, and so stronger in the world and
more immediate in its connection with the eternal; but the life itself
of the system must live forever and grow forever.
Still it is true that in the widest growth there is the largest
liability to weakness. "Thus it is," says Fouque, "with poor, though
richly endowed man. All lies within his power so long as action is at
rest within him; nothing is in his power the moment action has displayed
itself, even by the lifting-up of a finger on the immeasurable world."
In the very extent of the empire of an Alexander, a Caesar, or a
Tamerlane, rests the possibility of its rapid dissolution. At the
giddiest altitude of triumph it is that the brain grows dizziest
and there is revealed the deepest chasm of possible defeat; and the
"Having his ear full of his airy fame,"
is just then most likely to fall like Herod from his aerial pomp to the
very dust. This consciousness, revealing at the highest moment of joy
its utmost frailty, led the ancients to suspect the presence of some Ate
or Nemesis in all human triumphs. We all remember the king who threw his
signet-ring into the sea, that he might in his too happy fortunes avert
this suspected presence; we remember, too, the apprehension of the
Chorus in the "Seven against Thebes," looking forward from the noontide
prosperity of the Theban king to some coming catastrophe.
But it is not without us that this Nemesis waits; she is but another
name for the fearful possibility which lurks in every human will, of
treachery to itself. And as solemnity rises to its acme in the most
sensuous manifestation of the glory of life,--so in all that most
fascinates and bewilders, at the very crisis of victorious exaltation,
at the very height of joyous sensibility, does this mysterious power
of temptation reveal her subtlest treachery; and sometimes in a single
moment does she change the golden-filleted Horae, that are our ministers,
into frightful furies, which drive us back again from triumph into
What was it, then, which saved the Eleusinia from this defeat,--which
kept the movement of the Dionysiac procession from the ruin inevitably
consequent upon all intemperate joy? It was the presence of our Lady,
the sorrowing Achtheia, who was the inseparable companion of the joyous
conqueror,--who subdued the joy of victory, and preserved the strength
and holy purity of the great Festival. Demeter was thus necessary to
Dionysus,--as Dionysus to Demeter; and if in remembrance of him the
sepulchral walls were covered with scenes associated with festivity,--in
remembrance of her there must needs be a skeleton at every feast.
How inseparably connected in human thought is sorrow with all permanent
hope is indicated in the penances which men have imposed upon
themselves, from the earliest Gymnosophists of India, and the Stylitae of
Syria, down to the monastic orders of the Romish Church in later times.
This is the meaning of the old Indian fable which made two of the
_Rishis_ or penitents to have risen by the discipline of sorrow from
some low caste,--it may be, from very Pariahs,--first to the rank of
Brahmins, and at last to the stars. The first initiation in which we
veil our eyes, losing all, is essential to our fresher birth, by
which in the second initiation all things are unveiled to us as our
inheritance: indeed, it is only through that which veils that anything
is ever revealed or possessed.
Through the same gate we pass both to glory and to tragic suffering,
each of which heightens and measures the other; and it is only so that
we can understand the function of sorrow in the Providence of God, or
interpret the sudden calamities which sometimes overwhelm human hopes at
their highest aspiration,--which from the most serene and cloudless sky
evoke storms which leave not even a wreck from their vast ruin.
Nor merely is sorrow efficient in those who hope, but in even a higher
sense does it attach to the character of Saviour. Apollo is, therefore,
fabled to have been an exile from heaven and a servant of Admetus;
indeed, Danaues, in "The Suppliants" of AEschylus, appeals to Apollo for
protection on this very plea, addressing him as "the Holy One, and
an exiled God from heaven." Thus Hercules was compelled to serve
Eurystheus; and his twelve labors were typed in the twelve signs of the
zodiac. AEsculapius and Prometheus both suffered excruciating tortures
and death for the good of men. And Dionysus--himself the centre of all
joy--was persecuted by the Queen of Heaven and compelled to wander in
the world. Thus he wandered through Egypt, finding no abiding-place, and
finally, as the story runs, came to the Phrygian Cybele, that he might
know in their deepest meaning--even by the initiation of sorrow--the
mysteries of the Great Mother. And, very significantly, it is from this
same initiation that _His_ wanderings have their end and his world-wide
conquest its beginning; as if only thus could be realized the
possibility both of triumph for himself and of hope for his followers.
For these wanderers can find rest only in a _suffering_ Saviour, by the
vision of whose deeper Passion they lose their sense of grief,--as Io on
Caucasus in sight of the transfixed Prometheus, and the Madonna at the
It is worthy of more attention than we can give it here, yet we cannot
pass over in silence the fact, so important in this relation, that
Grecian Tragedy, in all its wonderful development under the three great
masters, was directly associated, and in its ruder beginnings completely
identified, with the worship of Dionysus. And this confirms our previous
hint, that the same element which made tragedy possible for Greece must
also be sought for in the development of its faith. There are those who
decry Grecian faith,--at the same time that they laud the Grecian drama
to the skies: but to the Greeks themselves, who certainly knew more than
we do as regards either, the drama was only an outgrowth of their faith,
and derived thence its highest significance. Thus the mystic symbolism
of the dramatic Choruses, taken out of its religious connections,
becomes an insoluble enigma; and naturally enough; for its first use
was in religious worship,--though afterwards it became associated with
traditionary and historic events. Besides, it was supposed that the
tragedians wrote under a divine inspiration; and the subjects and
representations which they embodied were for the most part susceptible
of a deep spiritual interpretation. Indeed, upon a careful examination,
we shall find that very many of the dramas directly suggest the two
Eleusinian movements, representing first the flight of suppliants--as
of the Heraclidae, the daughters of Danaues, and of Oedipus and
Antigone--from persecution to the shrine of some Saviour Deity,--and
finally a deliverance effected through sacrifice or divine
interposition. Examples of this are so numerous that we have no space
for a minute consideration.
But certainly it is plain that the Eleusinia, as being more central,
more purely spiritual, must in the thought of Greece have risen high
above the drama. The very dress in which the _mystae_ were initiated was
preserved as most sacred or deposited in the temple. Or if we insist
upon measuring their appreciation of the Festival by the more palpable
standard of numbers,--the temple at Eleusis, by the account of Strabo,
was capable of holding even in its mystic cell more persons than the
theatre. To be sure, the celebration was only once in five years,--but
it was all the more sacred from this very infrequency. Nothing in all
Greece--and that is saying very much--could compare with it in its depth
of divine mystery. If anything could, it would have been the drama; but
no wailings were ever heard from beneath the masks of the stage like the
wailings of Achtheia,--no jubilant song of the Chorus ever rose like the
paean of Dionysiac triumph.
* * * * *
Thus was the name of Dionysus connected with the palace and the temple,
with the sepulchral court of death and the dramatic representations of
life,--and everywhere associated with our Lady.
Sometimes, indeed, she seems to overshadow and hide him from our vision.
Thus was it when the Eumenides in their final triumph swept the stage,
and victory seemed all in the hands of invisible Powers, with no
human participant: even as throughout the Homeric epos there runs an
undercurrent of unutterable sadness; because, while to the Gods there
ever remains a sure seat upon Olympus, unshaken by the winds, untouched
by rain or snow, crowned with a cloudless radiance,--yet upon man
come vanity, sorrow, and strife; like the leaves of the forest he
flourisheth, and then passeth away to the "weak heads of the dead,"
([Greek: nekuon amenaena karaena],) conquered by purple Death and strong
To the eye of sense, and in the circumscribed movements of this world,
the desolation seems complete and the defeat final. But the snows of
winter are necessary to the blossoms of spring,--the waste of death to
the resurrection of life; and from the vastest of all desolations does
our Lady lead her children in the loftiest of all flights,--even from
all sorrow and solitude,--from the wastes of earth and the desolation of
AEons, to ineffable joy in her Saviour Lord.
* * * * *
VICTOR AND JACQUELINE.
Jacqueline Gabrie and Elsie Meril could not occupy one room, and remain,
either of them, indifferent to so much as might be manifested of the
other's inmost life. They could not emigrate together, peasants from
Domremy,--Jacqueline so strong, Elsie so fair,--could not labor in the
same harvest-fields, children of old neighbors, without each being
concerned in the welfare and affected by the circumstances of the other.
It was near ten o'clock, one evening, when Elsie Meril ran up the
common stairway, and entered the room in the fourth story where she and
Victor Le Roy, student from Picardy, occupied the room next theirs, and
was startled from his slumber by the voices of the girls. Elsie was
fresh from the theatre, from the first play she had ever witnessed; she
came home excited and delighted, ready to repeat and recite, as long as
Jacqueline would listen.
And here was Jacqueline.
Early in the evening Elsie had sought her friend with a good deal of
anxiety. A fellow-lodger and field-laborer had invited her to see the
play,--and Jacqueline was far down the street, nursing old Antonine
Dupre. To seek her, thus occupied, on such an errand, Elsie had the good
taste, and the selfishness, to refrain from doing.
Therefore, after a little deliberation, she had gone to the theatre, and
there forgot her hard day-labor in the wonders of the stage,--forgot
Jacqueline, and Antonine, and every care and duty. It was hard for her,
when all was ended, to come back to compunction and explanation, yet to
this she had come back.
Neither of the girls was thinking of the student, their neighbor; but
he was not only wakened by their voices, he amused himself by comparing
them and their utterances with his preconceived notions of the girls.
They might not have recognized him in the street, though they had often
passed him on the stairs; but he certainly could have distinguished the
pretty face of Elsie, or the strange face of Jacqueline, wherever he
might meet them.
Elsie ran on with her story, not careful to inquire into the mood of
Jacqueline,--suspicious of that mood, no doubt,--but at last, made
breathless by her haste and agitation, she paused, looked anxiously at
Jacqueline, and finally said,--
"You think I ought not to have gone?"
"Oh, no,--it gave you pleasure."
A pause followed. It was broken at length by Elsie, exclaiming, in a
voice changed from its former speaking,--
"Jacqueline Gabrie, you are homesick! horribly homesick, Jacqueline!"
"You do not ask for Antonine: yet you know I went to spend the day with
her," said Jacqueline, very gravely.
"How is Antonine Dupre?" asked Elsie.
"She is dead. I have told you a good many times that she must die. Now,
she is dead."
"Dead?" repeated Elsie.
"You care as much as if a candle had gone out," said Jacqueline.
"She was as much to me as I to her," was the quick answer. "She never
liked me. She did not like my mother before me. When you told her my
name, the day we saw her first, I knew what she thought. So let that go.
If I could have done her good, though, I would, Jacqueline."
"She has everything she needs,--a great deal more than we have. She is
very happy, Elsie."
"Am not I? Are not you, in spite of your dreadful look? Your look is
more terrible than the lady's in the play, just before she killed
herself. Is that because Antonine is so well off?"
"I wish that I could be where she is," sighed Jacqueline.
"You? You are tired, Jacqueline. You look ill. You will not be fit for
to-morrow. Come to bed. It is late."
As Jacqueline made no reply to this suggestion, Elsie began to reflect
upon her words, and to consider wherefore and to whom she had spoken.
Not quite satisfied with herself could she have been, for at length she
said in quite another manner,--
"You always said, till now, you wished that you might live a hundred
years. But it was not because you were afraid to die, you said so,
"I don't know," was the answer,--sadly spoken, "Don't remind me of
things I have said. I seem to have lost myself."
The voice and the words were effectual, if they were intended as an
appeal to Elsie. Fain would she now exclude the stage and the play from
her thoughts,--fain think and feel with Jacqueline, as it had long been
her habit to do.
Jacqueline, however, was not eager to speak. And Elsie must draw yet
nearer to her, and make her nearness felt, ere she could hope to receive
the thought of her friend. By-and-by these words were uttered, solemn,
slow, and dirge-like:--
"Antonine died just after sundown. I was alone with her. She did not
think that she would die so soon. I did not. In the morning, John
Leclerc came in to inquire how she spent the night. He prayed with her.
And a hymn,--he read a hymn that she seemed to know, for all day she was
humming it over. I can say some of the lines."
"Say them, Jacqueline," said the softened voice of Elsie.
Slowly, and as one recalls that of which he is uncertain, Jacqueline
repeated what I copy more entire:--
"In the midst of life, behold,
Death hath girt us round!
Whom for help, then, shall we pray?
Where shall grace be found?
In thee, O Lord, alone!
We rue the evil we have done,
That thy wrath on us hath drawn.
Holy Lord and God!
Strong and holy God!
Merciful and holy Saviour!
Sink us not beneath
Bitter pains of endless death!
"Then he went away," she continued. "But he did not think it was the
last time he should speak to Antonine. In the afternoon I thought I saw
a change, and I wanted to go for somebody. But she said, 'Stay with me.
I want nothing.' So I sat by her bed. At last she said, 'Come, Lord
Jesus! come quickly!' and she started up in her bed, as if she saw
him coming. And as if he were coming nearer, she smiled. That was the
last,--without a struggle, or as much as a groan."
"No priest there?" asked Elsie.
"No. When I spoke to her about it, she said her priest was Jesus Christ
the Righteous,--and there was no other,--the High-Priest. She gave me
her Bible. See how it has been used! 'Search the Scriptures,' she said.
She told me I was able to learn the truth. 'I loved your mother,' she
said; 'that is the reason I am so anxious you should know. It is by
my spirit, said the Lord. Ask for that spirit,' she said. 'He is more
willing to give than earthly parents are to give good gifts to their
children.' She said these things, Elsie. If they are true, they must be
better worth believing than all the riches of the world are worth the
The interest manifested by the student in this conversation had been on
the increase since Jacqueline began to speak of Antonine Dupre. It was
not, at this point of the conversation, waning.
"Your mother would not have agreed with Antonine," said Elsie, as if
there were weight in the argument;--for such a girl as Jacqueline could
not speak earnestly in the hearing of a girl like Elsie without result,
and the result was at this time resistance.
"She believed what she was taught in Domremy," answered Jacqueline, "She
believed in Absolution, Extreme Unction, in the need of another priest
than Jesus Christ,--a representative they call it." She spoke slowly, as
if interrogating each point of her speech.
"I believe as they believed before us," answered Elsie, coldly.
"We have learned many things since we came to Meaux," answered
Jacqueline, with a patient gentleness, that indicated the perplexity
and doubt with which the generous spirit was departing from the old
dominion. She was indeed departing, with that reverence for the past
which is not incompatible with the highest hope for the future. "Our
Joan came from Domremy, where she must crown the king," she continued.
"We have much to learn."
"She lost her life," said Elsie, with vehemence.
"Yes, she did lose her life," Jacqueline quietly acquiesced.
"If she had known what must happen, would she have come?"
"Yes, she would have come."
"How late it is!" said Elsie, as if in sleep were certain rest from
these vexatious thoughts.
Victor Le Roy was by this time lost in his own reflections. These girls
had supplied an all-sufficient theme; whether they slept or wakened was
no affair of his. He had somewhat to argue for himself about extreme
unction, priestly intervention, confession, absolution,--something to
say to himself about Leclerc, and the departed Antonine.
Late into the night he sat thinking of the marvel of Domremy and
of Antonine Dupre, of Picardy and of Meaux, of priests and of the
High-Priest. Brave and aspiring, Victor Le Roy could not think of
these things, involved in the names of things above specified, as more
calculating, prudent spirits might have done. It was his business, as a
student, to ascertain what powers were working in the world. All true
characters, of past time or present, must be weighed and measured by
him. Result was what he aimed at.
Jacqueline's words had not given him new thoughts, but unawares they did
summon him to his appointed labor. He looked to find the truth. He must
stand to do his work. He must haste to make his choice. Enthusiastic,
chivalrous, and strong, he was seeking the divine right, night and
day,--and to ascertain that, as it seemed, he had come from Picardy to
Elsie Meril went to bed, as she had invited Jacqueline to do; to sleep,
to dream, she went,--and to smile, in her dreaming, on the world that
smiled on her.
Jacqueline sat by the window; leaned from the window, and prayed; her
own prayer she prayed, as Antonine had said she must, if she would
discover what she needed, and obtain an answer.
She thought of the dead,--her own. She pondered on the future. She
recalled some lines of the hymn Antonine had repeated, and she
wished--oh, how she wished!--that, while the woman lived, and could
reason and speak, she had told her about the letter she had received
from the priest of Domremy. Many a time it had been on her lips to tell,
but she failed in courage to bring her poor affairs into that chamber
and disturb that dying hour. Now she wished that she had done it. Now
she felt that speech had been the merest act of justice to herself.
But there was Leclerc, the wool-comber, and his mother; she might rely
on them for the instruction she needed.
Old Antonine's faith had made a deep impression on the strong-hearted
and deep-thinking girl; as also had the prayers of John
Leclerc,--especially that last prayer offered for Antonine. It seemed to
authenticate, by its strong, unfaltering utterance, the poor old woman's
evidence. "Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, to-day, and forever,"
were strong words that seemed about to take possession of the heart of
Therefore, while Elsie slept, she prayed,--looking farther than the
city-streets, and darkness,--looking farther than the shining stars.
What she sought, poor girl, stood in her silent chamber, stood in her
waiting heart. But she knew Him not, and her ear was heavy; she did not
hear the voice, that she should answer Him, "Rabboni!"
A fortnight from this night, after the harvesters had left the fields of
M. Flaval, Jacqueline was lingering in the twilight.
The instant the day's work was done, the laborers set out for Meaux,
Their haste suggested some unusual cause.
John Leclerc, wool-comber, had received that day his sentence. Report of
the sentence had spread among the reapers in the field and all along the
vineyards of the hill-sides. Not a little stir was occasioned by this
sentence: three days of whipping through the public streets, to conclude
with branding on the forehead. For this Leclerc, it seemed, had
profanely and audaciously declared that a man might in his own behalf
deal with the invisible God, by the mediation of Christ, the sole
Mediator between God and man. Viewed in the light of his offence, his
punishment certainly was of the mildest. Tidings of his sentence were
received with various emotion: by some as though they were maddened
with new wine; others wept openly; many more were pained at heart; some
brutally rejoiced; some were incredulous.
But now they were all on their way to Meaux; the fields were quite
deserted. Urged by one desire, to ascertain the facts of the trial,
and the time when the sentence would be executed, the laborers were
returning to the town.
Without demonstration of any emotion, Jacqueline Gabrie, quiet,
silent, walked along the river-bank, until she came to the clump of
chestnut-trees, whose shadow fell across the stream. Many a time,
through the hot, dreadful day, her eyes turned wistfully to this place.
In the morning Elsie Meril had promised Jacqueline that at twilight they
would read together here the leaves the poor old mother of Leclerc gave
Jacqueline last night: when they had read them, they would walk home by
starlight together. But now the time had come, and Jacqueline was alone.
Elsie had returned to town with other young harvesters.
"Very well," said Jacqueline, when Elsie told her she must go. It was
not, indeed, inexplicable that she should prefer the many voices to the
one,--excitement and company, rather than quiet, dangerous thinking.
But, thus left alone, the face of Jacqueline expressed both sorrow and
indignation. She would exact nothing of Elsie; but latterly how often
had she expected of her companion more than she gave or could give!
Of course the young girl was equal to others in pity and surprise; but
there were people in the world beside the wool-comber and his mother.
Nothing of vast import was suggested by his sentence to her mind. She
did not see that spiritual freedom was threatened with destruction. If
she heard the danger questioned, she could not apprehend it. Though she
had listened to the preaching of Leclerc and had been moved by it, her
sense of truth and of justice was not so acute as to lead her willingly
to incur a risk in the maintaining of the same.
She would not look into Antonine's Bible, which Jacqueline had read so
much during the last fortnight. She was not the girl to torment herself
about her soul, when the Church would save it for her by mere compliance
with a few easy regulations.
More and more was Elsie disappointing Jacqueline. Day by day these girls
were developing in ways which bade fair to separate them in the end.
When now they had most need of each other, their estrangement was
becoming more apparent and decided. The peasant-dress of Elsie would not
content her always, Jacqueline said sadly to herself.
Jacqueline's tracts, indeed, promised poorly as entertainment for an
hour of rest;--rest gained by hours of toil. The confusion of tongues
and the excitement of the city pleased Elsie better. So she went along
the road to Meaux, and was not talking, neither thinking, all the way,
of the wrongs of John Leclerc, and the sorrows of his mother,--neither
meditating constantly, and with deep-seated purpose, "I will not let
thee go, except thou bless me!"--neither on this problem, agitated then
in so many earnest minds, "What shall a man give in exchange for his
Thus Jacqueline sat alone and thought that she would read by herself the
tracts Leclerc had found it good to study. But unopened she held the
little printed scroll, while she watched the home-returning birds, whose
nests were in the mighty branches of the chestnut-trees.
She needed the repose more than the teaching, even; for all day the
sun had fallen heavily on the harvesters,--and toiling with a troubled
heart, under a burning sun, will leave the laborer not in the best
condition for such work as Jacqueline believed she had to do.
But she had promised the old woman she would read these tracts, and this
was her only time, for they must be returned that night: others were
waiting for them with an eagerness and longing of which, haply,
tract-dispensers see little now. Still she delayed in opening them. The
news of Leclerc's sentence had filled her with dismay.
Did she dread to read the truth,--"the truth of Jesus Christ," as
his mother styled it? The frightful image of the bleeding, lacerated
wool-comber would come between her and the book in which that faith was
written for maintaining which this man must suffer. Strange contrast
between the heavy gloom and terror of her thoughts and the peaceful
"river flowing on"! How tranquil were the fields that spread beyond
her sight! But there is no rest or joy in Nature to the agitated and
foreboding spirit. Must we not have conquered the world, if we serenely
enter into Nature's rest?
Fain would Jacqueline have turned her face and steps in another
direction that night than toward the road that led to Meaux: to the
village on the border of the Vosges,--to the ancient Domremy. Once her
home was there; but Jacqueline had passed forth from the old, humble,
true defences: for herself must live and die.
Domremy had a home for her no more. The priest, on whom she had relied
when all failed her, was still there, it is true; and once she had
thought, that, while he lived, she was not fatherless, not homeless: but
his authority had ceased to be paternal, and she trusted him no longer.
She had two graves in the old village, and among the living a few faces
she never could forget. But on this earth she had no home.
Musing on these dreary facts, and on the bleeding, branded image of
Leclerc, as her imagination rendered him back to his friends, his
fearful trial over, a vision more familiar to her childhood than her
youth opened to Jacqueline.
There was one who used to wander through the woods that bordered the
mountains in whose shadow stood Domremy,--one whose works had glorified
her name in the England and the France that made a martyr of her. Jeanne
d'Arc had ventured all things for the truth's sake: was she, who also
came forth from that village, by any power commissioned?
Jacqueline laid the tracts on the grass. Over them she placed a stone.
She bowed her head. She hid her face. She saw no more the river, trees,
or home-returning birds; heard not the rush of water or of wind,--nor,
even now, the hurry and the shout; that possibly to-morrow would follow
the poor wool-comber through the streets of Meaux,--and on the third day
they would brand him!
She remembered an old cottage in the shadow of the forest-covered
mountains. She remembered one who died there suddenly, and without
remedy,--her father, unabsolved and unanointed, dying in fear and
torment, in a moment when none anticipated death. She remembered a
strong-hearted woman who seemed to die with him,--who died to all the
interests of this life, and was buried by her husband ere a twelvemonth
had passed,--her mother, who was buried by her father's side.
Burdened with a solemn care they left their child. The priest of
Domremy, and none beside him, knew the weight of this burden. How had he
helped her bear it? since it is the _business_ of the shepherd to look
after the younglings of the flock. Her hard earnings paid him for
the prayers he offered for the deliverance of her father from his
purgatorial woes. Burdened with a dire debt of filial love, the priest
had let her depart from Domremy; his influence followed her as an
oppression and a care,--a degradation also.
Her life of labor was a slavish life. All she did, and all she left
undone, she looked at with sad-hearted reference to the great object of
her life. Far away she put all allurement to tempting, youthful joy.
What had she to do with merriment and jollity, while a sin remained
unexpiated, or a moment of her father's suffering and sorrow could be
How, probably, would these new doctrines, held fast by some through
persecution and danger, these doctrines which brought liberty to light,
be received by one so fast a prisoner of Hope as she? She had pledged
herself, with solemn vows had promised, to complete the work her mother
left unfinished when she died.
Some of the laborers in the field, Elsie among them, had hoped, they
said, that the wool-comber would retract from his dangerous position.
Recalling their words, Jacqueline asked herself would she choose to have
him retract? She reminded herself of the only martyr whose memory she
loved, the glorious girl from Domremy, and a lofty and stern spirit
seemed to rouse within her as she answered that question. She believed
that John had found and taught the truth; and was Truth to be sacrificed
to Power that hated it? Not by a suicidal act, at least.
She took the tracts, so judging, from underneath the stone, wistfully
looked them over, and, as she did so, recalled these words: "You cannot
buy your pardon of a priest; he has no power to sell it; he cannot even
give it. Ask of God, who giveth to all men liberally, upbraiding not.
'If ye, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how
much more shall your Heavenly Father give his Holy Spirit to them that
She could never forget these words. She could never forget the
preacher's look when he used them; nor the solemnity of the assenting
faith, as attested by the countenances of those around her in that
But her father! What would this faith do for the departed?
Yet again she dared to pray,--here in this solitude, to ask for that
Holy Spirit, the Enlightener. And it was truly with trembling, in
the face of all presentiments of what the gift might possibly, must
certainly, import to her. But what was she, that she could withstand
God, or His gift, for any fear of the result that might attend the
giving of the gift?
Divinely she seemed to be inspired with that courageous thought. She
rose up, as if to follow the laborers who had already gone to Meaux. But
she had not passed out from the shadow of the great trees when another
shadow fell along her path.
It was Victor Le Roy who was so close at hand. He recognized Jacqueline;
for, as he came down the road, now and then he caught a glimpse of her
red peasant-dress. And he accepted his persuasion as it had been an
assurance; for he believed that on such a night no other girl would
linger alone near the place of her day's labor. Moreover, while passing
the group of harvesters, he had observed that she was not among them.
The acquaintance of these young persons was but slight; yet it was of
such a character as must needs increase. Within the last fortnight they
had met repeatedly in the room of Leclerc's mother. On the last night of
her son's preaching they had together listened to his words. The young
student with manly aspirations, ambitious, courageous, inquiring, and
the peasant girl who toiled in fields and vineyards, were on the same
day hearkening to the call, "Ho, every one that thirsteth!" with the
consciousness that the call was meant for them.
When Victor Le Roy saw that Jacqueline perceived and recognized him, he
also observed the tracts in her hand and the trouble in her countenance,
and he wondered in his heart whether she could be ignorant of what had
passed that day at Meaux, and if it could be possible that her manifest
disturbance arose from any perplexity or disquietude independent of the
sentence that had been passed on John Leclerc. His first words brought
an answer that satisfied his doubt.
"She has chosen that good part which shall not be taken from her," said
he, as he came near. "The country is so fair, could no one of them all
except Jacqueline see that? Were they all drawn away by the bloody
fascination of Meaux? even Elsie?"
"It was the news that hurried her home with the rest," answered she,
almost pleased at this disturbance of the solitude.
"Did that keep you here, Jacqueline?" he asked. "It sent me out of the
city. The dust choked me. Every face looked like a devil's. To-morrow
night, to-morrow night, the harvesters will hurry all the faster.
Terrible curiosity! And if they find traces of his blood along the
streets, there will be enough to talk about through the rest of the
harvesting. Jacqueline, if the river could be poured through those
streets, the sacred blood could never be washed out. 'Tis not the
indignity, nor the cruelty, I think of most, but the barbarous, wild
sin. Shall a man's truest liberty be taken from him, as though, indeed,
he were not a man of God, but the spiritual subject of his fellows? If
that is their plan, they may light the fires,--there are many who will
not shrink from sealing their faith with their blood."
These words, spoken with vehemence, were the first free utterance
Victor Le Roy had given to his feelings all day. All day they had been
concentrating, and now came from him fiery and fast.
It was time for him to know in whom and in what he believed.
Greatly moved by his words, Jacqueline said, giving him the tracts,--
"I came from Domremy, I am free. No one can be hurt by what befalls me.
I want to know the truth. I am not afraid. Did John Leclerc never give
way for a moment? Is he really to be whipped through the streets, and on
the third day to be branded? Will he not retract?"
"Never!" was the answer,--spoken not without a shudder. "He did not
flinch through all the trial, Jacqueline. And his old mother says,
'Blessed be Jesus Christ and his witnesses!'"
"I came from Domremy," seemed to be in the girl's thought again; for
her eyes flashed when she looked at Victor Le Roy, as though she could
believe the heavens would open for the enlightening of such believers.
"She gave me those to read," said she, pointing to the tracts she had
"And have you been reading them here by yourself?"
"No. Elsie and I were to have read them together; but I fell to
"You mean to wait for her, then?"
"I was afraid I should not make the right sense of them."
"Sit down, Jacqueline, and let me read aloud. I have read them before.
And I understand them better than Elsie does, or ever will."
"I am afraid that is true, Sir. If you read, I will listen."
But he did not, with this permission, begin instantly.
"You came from Domremy, Jacqueline," said he. "I came from Picardy. My
home was within a stone's throw of the castle where Jeanne d'Arc was a
prisoner before they carried her to Rouen. I have often walked about
that castle and tried to think how it must have been with her when they
left her there a prisoner. God knows, perhaps we shall all have an
opportunity of knowing, how she felt when a prisoner of Truth. Like a
fly in a spider's net she was, poor girl! Only nineteen! She had lived
a life that was worth the living, Jacqueline. She knew she was about
to meet the fate her heart must have foretold. Girls do not run such a
course and then die quietly in their beds. They are attended to their
rest by grim sentinels, and they light fagots for them. I have read the
story many a time, when I could look at the window of the very room
where she was a prisoner. It was strange to think of her witnessing the
crowning of the King, with the conviction that her work ended there and
then,--of the women who brought their children to touch her garments or
her hands, to let her smile on them, or speak to them, or maybe kiss
them. And the soldiers deemed their swords were stronger when they had
but touched hers. And they knelt down to kiss her standard, that white
standard, so often victorious! I have read many a time of that glorious
day at Rheims."
"And she said, _that_ day,' Oh, why can I not die here?'" said
Jacqueline, with a low voice.
"And when the Archbishop asked her," continued Victor, "'Where do you,
then, expect to die?' she answered, 'I know not. I shall die where God
pleases. I have done what the Lord my God commanded me; and I wish that
He would now send me to keep my sheep with my mother and sister.'"
"Because she loved Domremy, and her work was done," said Jacqueline,
sadly. "And so many hated her! But her mother would be sure to love.
Jeanne would never see an evil eye in Domremy, and no one would lie in
wait to kill her in the Vosges woods."
"It was such as you, Jacqueline, who believed in her, and comforted her.
And to every one that consoled her Christ will surely say, 'Ye blessed
of my Father, ye did it unto me!' Yes, to be sure, there were too many
who stood ready to kill her in all France,--besides those who were
afraid of her, and fought against our armies. Even when they were taking
her to see the Dauphin, the guard would have drowned her, and lied about
it, but they were restrained. It is something to have been born in
Domremy,--to have grown up in the very place where she used to play, a
happy little girl. You have seen that fountain, and heard the bells she
loved so much. It was good for you, I know."
"Her prayers were everywhere," Jacqueline replied. "Everywhere she heard
the voices that called her to come and deliver France. But her father
did not believe in her. He persecuted Jeanne."
"A man's foes are of his own household," said Victor. "You see the same
thing now. It is the very family of Christ--yes! so they dare call
it--who are going to tear and rend Leclerc to-morrow for believing the
words of Christ. A hundred judges settled that Jeanne should be burned;
and for believing such words as are in these books"--
"Read me those words," said Jacqueline.
So they turned from speaking of Joan and her work, to contemplate
another style of heroism, and to question their own hearts.
Jacqueline Gabrie had lived through eighteen years of hardship and
exposure. She was strong, contented, resolute. Left to herself, she
would probably have suffered no disturbance of her creed,--would have
lived and died conforming to the letter of its law. But thrown under
the influence of those who did agitate the subject, she was brave and
clear-headed. She listened now, while, according to her wish, her
neighbor read,--listened with clear intelligence, intent on the truth.
That, or any truth, accepted, she would hardly shrink from whatever it
involved. This was the reason why she had really feared to ask the Holy
Ghost's enlightenment! So well she understood herself! Truth was truth,
and, if received, to be abided by. She could not hold it loosely. She
could not trifle with it. She was born in Domremy. She had played under
the Fairy Oak. She knew the woods where Joan wandered when she sought
her saintly solitude. The fact was acting on her as an inspiration,
when Domremy became a memory, when she labored far away from the wooded
Vosges and the meadows of Lorraine.
She listened to the reading, as girls do not always listen when they sit
in the presence of a reader such as young Le Roy.
And let it here be understood--that the conclusion bring no sorrow, and
no sense of wrong to those who turn these pages, thinking to find the
climax dear to half-fledged imagination, incapable from inexperience of
any deeper truth, (I render them all homage!)--this story is not told
for any sake but truth's.
This Jacqueline did listen to this Victor, thinking actually of the
words he read. She looked at him really to ascertain whether her
apprehension of these things was all the same as his. She questioned
him, with the simple desire to learn what he could tell her. Her hands
were very hard, so constant had been her dealing with the rough facts of
this life; but the hard hand was firm in its clasp, and ready with its
helpfulness. Her eyes were open, and very clear of dreams. There was
room in them for tenderness as well as truth. Her voice was not the
sweetest of all voices in this world; but it had the quality that would
make it prized by others when heart and flesh were failing; for it would
be strong to speak then with cheerful faith and an unfaltering courage.
Jacqueline sat there under the chestnut-trees, upon the river-bank,
strong-hearted, high-hearted, a brave, generous woman. What if her days
were toilsome? What if her peasant-dress was not the finest woven in the
looms of Paris or of Meaux? Her prayers were brief, her toil was long,
her sleep was sound,--her virtue firm as the everlasting mountains.
Jacqueline, I have singled you from among hordes and tribes and legions
upon legions of women, one among ten thousand, altogether lovely,--not
for dalliance, not for idleness, not for dancing, which is well; not for
song, which is better; not for beauty, which, perhaps, is best; not for
grace, or power, or passion. There is an attribute of God which is more
to His universe than all evidence of power. It is His truth. Jacqueline,
it is for this your name shall shine upon my page.
And, manifestly, it is by virtue of this quality that her reader is
moved and attracted at this hour of twilight on the river-bank.
Her intelligence is so quick! her apprehension so direct! her
conclusions so true! He intended to aid her; but Mazurier himself had
never uttered comments so entirely to the purpose as did this young
girl, speaking from heart and brain. Better fortune, apparently, could
not have befallen him than was his in this reading; for with every
sentence almost came her comment, clear, earnest, to the point.
He had need of such a friend as Jacqueline seemed able to prove herself.
His nearest living relative was an uncle, who had sent the ambitious and
capable young student to Meaux; for he gave great promise, and was worth
an experiment, the old man thought,--and was strong to be thrown out
into the world, where he might ascertain the power of self-reliance. He
had need of friends, and, of all friends, one like Jacqueline.
From the silence and retirement of his home in Picardy he had come
to Meaux,--the town that was so astir, busy, thoroughly alive!
Inexperienced in worldly ways he came. His face was beautiful with its
refinement and power of expression. His eyes were full of eloquence;
so also was his voice. When he came from Picardy to Meaux, his old
neighbors prophesied for him. He knew their prophecies, and purposed to
fulfil them. He ceased from dreaming, when he came to Meaux. He was not
dreaming, when he looked on Jacqueline. He was aware of what he read,
and how she listened, under those chestnut-trees.
The burden of the tracts he read to Jacqueline was salvation by faith,
not of works,--an iconoclastic doctrine, that was to sweep away
the great mass of Romish superstition, invalidating Papal power.
Image-worship, shrine-frequenting sacrifices, indulgences, were esteemed
and proved less than nothing worth in the work of salvation.
"Did you understand John, when he said that the priests deceived us and
were full of robberies, and talked about the masses for the dead, and
said the only good of them was to put money into the Church?" asked
"I believe it," he replied, with spirit.
"That the masses are worth nothing?" she asked,--far from concealing
that the thought disturbed her.
"What can they be worth, if a man has lived a bad life?"
"_That_ my father did _not!_" she exclaimed.
"If a man is a bad man, why, then he is. He has gone where he must be
judged. The Scripture says, As a tree falls, it must lie."
"My father was a good man, Victor. But he died of a sudden, and there
was no time."
"No time for what, Jacqueline? No time for him to turn about, and be a
bad man in the end?"
"No time for confession and absolution. He died praying God to forgive
him all his sins. I heard him. I wondered, Victor, for I never thought
of his committing sins. And my mother mourned for him as a good wife
should not mourn for a bad husband."
"Then what is your trouble, Jacqueline?"
"Do you know why I came here to Meaux? I came to get money,--to earn it.
I should be paid more money here than I got for any work at home, they
said: that was the reason. When I had earned so much,--it was a large
sum, but I knew I should get it, and the priest encouraged me to think
I should,--he said that my heart's desire would be accomplished. And I
could earn the money before winter is over, I think. But now, if"----
"Throw it into the Seine, when you get it, rather than pay it to the
liar for selling your father out of a place he was never in! He is safe,
believe me, if he was the good man you say. Do not disturb yourself,
"He never harmed a soul. And we loved him that way a bad man could not
As Jacqueline said this, a smile more sad than joyful passed over her
face, and disappeared.
"He rests in peace," said Victor Le Roy.
"It is what I must believe. But what if there should be a mistake about
it? It was all I was working for."
"Think for yourself, Jacqueline. No matter what Leclerc thinks or I
think. Can you suppose that Jesus Christ requires any such thing as this
of you, that you should make a slave of yourself for the expiation of
your father? It is a monstrous thought. Doubt not it was love that
took him away so quickly. And love can care for him. Long before this,
doubtless, he has heard the words, 'Come, ye blessed of my father!' And
what is required of you, do you ask? You shall be merciful to them that
live; and trust Him that He will care for those who have gone beyond
your reach. Is it so? Do I understand you? You have been thinking to
_buy_ this good _gift_ of God, eternal life for your father, when of
course you could have nothing to do with it. You have been imposed upon,
and robbed all this while, and this is the amount of it."
"Well, do not speak so. If what you say is true,--and I think it may
be,--what is past is past."
"But won't you see what an infernal lie has been practised on you, and
all the rest of us who had any conscience or heart in us, all this
while? There _is_ no purgatory; and it is nonsense to think, that, if
there were, money could buy a man out of it. Jesus Christ is the one
sole atonement for sin. And by faith in Him shall a man save his soul
alive. That is the only way. If I lose my soul, and am gone, the rest
is between me and God. Do you see it _should_ be so, and must be so,
"He was a good man," said Jacqueline.
She did not find it quite easy to make nothing of all this matter, which
had been the main-spring of her effort since her father died. She could
not in one instant drop from her calculations that on which she had
heretofore based all her activity. She had labored so long, so hard, to
buy the rest and peace and heavenly blessedness of the father she loved,
it was hardly to be expected that at once she would choose to see that
in that rest and peace and blessedness, she, as a producing power, had
no part whatever.
As she more than hinted, the purpose of her life seemed to be taken from
her. She could not perceive that fact without some consternation; could
not instantly connect it with another, which should enable her to look
around her with the deliberation of a liberated spirit, choosing her new
work. And in this she was acted upon by more than the fear arising from
the influences of her old belief. Of course she should have been, and
yet she was not, able to drop instantly and forever from recollection
the constant sacrifices she had made, the deprivation she had endured,
with heroic persistence,--the putting far away every personal
indulgence whose price had a market value. Her father was not the only
person concerned in this work; the priest; herself. She had believed
in the pastor of Domremy. Yet he had deceived her. Else he was
self-deceived; and what if the blind should strive to lead the blind?
_Could_ she accept the new faith, the great freedom, with perfect
Victor Le Roy seemed to have some suspicion of what was passing in
her thoughts. He did not need to watch her changeful face in order to
"I advise you to still think of this," said he. "Recall your father's
life, and then ask yourself if it is likely that He who is Love requires
the sacrifice of your youth and your strength before your father shall
receive from Him what He has promised to give to all who trust in Him.
Take God at his word, and you will be obliged to give up all this
Victor Le Roy spoke these words quietly, as if aware that he might
safely leave them, as well as any other true words, to the just sense of
She was none the happier for them when she returned that night to the
little city room, the poor lodging whose high window overlooked both
town and country, city streets and harvest-fields, and the river flowing
on beyond the borders of the town,--no happier through many a moment of
thinking, until, as it were by an instant illumination, she began to
see the truth of the matter, as some might wonder she did not instantly
perceive it, if they could omit from observation this leading fact, that
the orphan girl was Jacqueline Gabrie, child of the Church, and not
a wise and generous person, who had never been in bondage to
For a long time after her return to her lodging she was alone. Elsie was
in the street with the rest of the town, talking, as all were talking,
of the sight that Meaux should see to-morrow.
Besides Jacqueline, there was hardly another person in this great
building, six stories high, every room of which had usually a tenant at
this hour. She sat by her window, and looked at the dusky town, over
which the moon was rising. But her thoughts were far away; over many a
league they wandered.
Once more she stood on the playground of her toilsome childhood. She
recalled many a year of sacrificing drudgery, which now she could not
name such,--for another reason than that which had heretofore prevented
her from calling it a sacrifice. She remembered these years of wrong and
of extortion,--they received their proper name now,--years whose mirth
and leisure she had quietly foregone, but during which she had borne a
burden that saddened youth, while it also dignified it,--a burden which
had made her heart's natural cheerfulness the subject of self-reproach,
and her maiden dreams and wishes matter for tears, for shame, for
confession, for prayer.
Now Victor Le Roy's words came to her very strangely; powerfully they
moved her. She believed them in this solitude, where at leisure she
could meditate upon them. A vision more fair and blessed than she had
ever imagined rose before her. There was no suffering in it, and no
sorrow; it was full of peace. Already, in the heaven to which she had
hoped her toil would give him at length admission, her father had found
his home. There was a glory in his rest not reflected from her filial
love, but from the all-availing love of Christ.
Then--delay the rigor of your judgment!--she began,--yes, she, this
Jacqueline, began to count the cost of what she had done. She was not a
sordid soul, she had not a miserly nature. Before she had gone far in
that strange computation, she paused abruptly, with a crimsoned face,
and not with tearless eyes. Counting the cost! Estimating the sacrifice!
Had, then, her purpose been less holy because excited by falsehood and
sustained through delusion? Was she less loving and less true, because
deceived? And was she to lament that Christ, the one and only Priest,
rather than another instrumentality, was the deliverer of her beloved
from the power of death?
No ritual was remembered, and no formula consulted, when she cried
out,--"It is so! and I thank Thee! Only give me now, my Jesus, a
purpose as holy as that Thou hast taken away!"
But she had not come into her chamber to spend a solitary evening there.
Turning away from the window, she bestowed a little care upon her
person, smoothed away the traces of her day's labor, and after all was
done she lingered yet longer. She was going out, evidently. Whither? To
visit the mother of John Leclerc. She must carry back the tracts the
good woman had lent her. Their contents had firm lodgement in her
Others might run to and fro in the streets, and talk about the corners,
and prognosticate with passion, and defy, in the way of cowardice, where
safety rather than the truth is well assured. If one woman could console
another, Jacqueline wished that she might console Leclerc's mother. And
if any words of wisdom could drop from the poor old woman's lips while
her soul was in this strait, Jacqueline desired to hear those words.
Down the many flights of stairs she went across the court, and then
along the street, to the house where the wool-comber lived.
A brief pause followed her knock for admittance. She repeated it. Then
was heard a sound from within,--a step crossing the floor. The door
opened, and there stood the mother of Leclerc, ready to face any danger,
the very Fiend himself.
But when she saw that it was Jacqueline, only Jacqueline,--an angel, as
one might say, and not a devil,--the terrible look passed from her face;
she opened the door wide.
"Come in, child! come in!"
So Jacqueline went into the room where John had worked and thought,
reasoned, argued, prayed.
This is the home of the man because of whom many are this night offended
in the city of Meaux. This is the place whence issued the power that has
set the tongues to talking, and the minds to thinking, and the hearts to
hoping, and the authorities to avenging.
A grain of mustard-seed is the kingdom of heaven in a figure; the
wandering winds a symbol of the Pentecostal power: a dove did signify
the descent of God to man. This poor chamber, so pent in, and so lowly,
so obscure, has its significance. Here has a life been lived; and not
the least does it import, that walls are rough and the ceiling low.
But the life of John Leclerc was not to be limited. A power has stood
here which by its freedom has set at defiance the customary calculation
of the worldly-wise. In high places and in low the people are this night
disturbed because of him who has dared to lift his voice in the freedom
of the speech of God. In drawing-rooms odorous with luxury the man's
name has mention, and the vulgarity of his liberated speech and
courageous faith is a theme to move the wonder and excite the
reprobation of hearts whose languid beating keeps up their show of life,
--to what sufficient purpose expect me not to tell. His voice is loud
and harsh to echo through these music-loving halls; it rends and tears,
with almost savage strength, the dainty silences.
But busier tongues are elsewhere more vehement in speech; larger
hearts beat faster indignation; grief and vulgarest curiosity are all
manifesting themselves after their several necessity. In solitary places
heroes pray throughout the night, wrestling like Jacob, agonizing like
Saul, and with some of them the angel left his blessing; for some the
golden harp was struck that soothed their souls to peace. Angels of
heaven had work to do that night. Angels of heaven and hell did prove
themselves that night in Meaux: night of unrest and sleeplessness, or of
cruel dreaming; night of bloody visions, tortured by the apprehension
of a lacerated body driven through the city streets, and of the hooting
shouts of Devildom; night haunted by a gory image,--the defiled temple
of the Holy Ghost.
Did the prospect of torture keep _him_ wakeful? Could the man bear the
disgrace, the derision, shouting, agony? Was there nothing in this
thought, that as a witness of Jesus Christ he was to appear next day,
that should soothe him even unto slumber? Upon the silence of his
guarded chamber let none but ministering angels break. Sacred to him,
and to Him who watched the hours of the night, let the night go!
But here--his mother, Jacqueline with her--we may linger with these.
When the old woman saw that it was Jacqueline Gabrie who stood waiting
admittance, she opened the door wider, as I said; and the dark solemnity
of her countenance seemed to be, by so much as a single ray, enlivened
for an instant.
She at once perceived the tracts which Jacqueline had brought. Aware of
this, the girl said,--
"I stayed to hear them read, after I heard that for the sake of the
truth in them"--she hesitated--"this city will invite God's wrath
And she gave the papers to the old woman, who took them in silence.
By-and-by she asked,--
"Are you just home, Jacqueline?"
"Since sunset,--though it was nearly dark when I came in,"--she
answered. "Victor Le Roy was down by the riverbank, and he read them for
"He wanted to get out of town, maybe. You would surely have thought it
was a holiday, Jacqueline, if you could have seen the people. Anything
for a show: but some of them might well lament. Did you want to know the
truth he pays so dear for teaching? But you have heard it, my child."
"We all heard what he must pay for it, in the fields at noon. Yes,
mother, I wanted to know."
"But if you shall believe it, Jacqueline, it may lead you into danger,
into sad straits," said the old woman, looking at the young girl with
earnest pity in her eyes.
She loved this girl, and shuddered at the thought of exposing her to
Jacqueline had nursed her neighbor, Antonine, and more than once, after
a hard day's labor, which must be followed by another, she had sat with
her through the night; and she could pay this service only with love,
and the best gift of her love was to instruct her in the truth. John and
she had proved their grateful interest in her fortunes by giving her
that which might expose her to danger, persecution, and they could not
foresee to what extremity of evil.
And now the old woman felt constrained to say this to her, even for her
love's sake,--"It may lead you into danger."
"But if truth is dangerous, shall I choose to be safe?" answered
Jacqueline, with stately courage.
"It _is_ truth. It _will_ support him. Blessed be Jesus Christ and His
witnesses! To-night, and to-morrow, and the third day, our Jesus will
sustain him. They think John will retract. They do not know my son. They
do not know how he has waited, prayed, and studied to learn the truth,
and how dear it is to him. No, Jacqueline, they do not. But when they
prove him, they will know. And if he is willing to witness, shall I
not be glad? The people will understand him better afterward,--and the
priests, maybe. 'I can do all things,' said he, 'Christ strengthening
me'; and that was said long ago, by one who was proved. Where shall you
"Oh," groaned Jacqueline, "I shall be in the fields at work, away from
these cruel people, and the noise and the sight. But, mother, where
shall you be?"
"With the people, child. With him, if I live. Yes, he is my son; and
I have never been ashamed of the brave boy. I will not be ashamed
to-morrow. I will follow John; and when they bind him, I will let him
see his mother's eyes are on him,--blessing him, my child!--Hark! how
they talk through the streets!--Jacqueline, he was never a coward. He
is strong, too. They will not kill him, and they cannot make him dumb.
He will hold the truth the faster for all they do to him. Jesus Christ
on his side, do you think he will fear the city, or all Paris, or all
France? He does not know what it is to be afraid. And when God opened
his eyes to the truth of his gospel, which the priests had hid, he meant
that John should work for it,--for he is a working-man, whatever he sets
So this old woman tried, and not without success, to comfort herself,
and sustain her tender, proud, maternal heart. The dire extremity into
which she and her son had fallen did not crush her; few were the tears
that fell from her eyes as she recalled for Jacqueline the years of her
son's boyhood,--told her of his courage, as in various ways it had made
itself manifest: how he had always been fearless in danger,--a
conqueror of pain,--seemingly regardless of comfort,--fond of
contemplation,--contented with his humble state,--kindly, affectionate,
generous, but easily stirred to wrath by injustice, when manifested by
the strong toward the weak,--or by cruelty, or by falsehood.
Many an anecdote of his career might she relate; for his character,
under the pressure of this trial, which was as searching and severe a
test of her faith as of his, seemed to illustrate itself in manifold
heroic ways, all now of the highest significance. With more majesty and
grandeur his character arose before her; for now in all the past, as she
surveyed it, she beheld a living power, a capability, and a necessity of
new and grand significance, and her heart reverenced the spirit she had
nursed into being.
Removed to the distance of a prison from her sight, separated from
her love by bolts and bars, and the wrath of tyranny and close-banded
bigotry, he became a power, a hero, who moved her, as she recalled
his sentence, and prophesied the morrow, to a feeling tears could not
They passed the night together, the young woman and the old. In the
morning Jacqueline must go into the field again. She was in haste to go.
Leaving a kiss on the old woman's cheek, she was about to steal away in
silence; but as she laid her hand upon the latch, a thought arrested
her, and she did not open the door, but went back and sat beside the
window, and watched the mother of Leclerc through the sleep that must be
brief. It was not in her heart to go away and leave those eyes to waken
upon solitude. She must see a helpful hand and hopeful face, and, if it
might be, hear a cheerful human voice, in the dawning of that day.
She had not long to wait, and the time she may have lost in waiting
Jacqueline did not count or reckon, when she heard her name spoken, and
could answer, "What wilt thou? here am I."
Not in vain had she lingered. What were wages, more or less, that they
should be mentioned, thought of, when she might give and receive here
what the world gives not, and never has to give,--and what a mortal
cannot buy, the treasure being priceless? Through the quiet of that
morning hour, soothing words, and strong, she felt and knew to speak;
and when at last she hurried away from the city to the fields, she was
stronger than of nature, able to bear witness to the faith that speaks
from the bewilderment of its distresses, "Though He slay me, yet will I
trust in Him."
Not alone had her young, frank, loving eyes enlivened the dreary morning
to the heart of Leclerc's mother. Grace for grace had she received. And
words of the hymn that were always on John's lips had found echo
from his mother's memory this morning: they lodged in the heart of
Jacqueline. She went away repeating,--
"In the midst of death, the jaws
Of hell against us gape.
Who from peril dire as this
Openeth us escape?
'Tis thou, O Lord, alone!
Our bitter suffering and our sin
Pity from thy mercy win,
Holy Lord and God!
Strong and holy God!
Merciful and holy Saviour!
Let us not despair
For the fire that burneth there!
Jacqueline met Elsie on her way to the fields. But the girls had
not much to say to each other that morning in their walk. Elsie was
manifestly conscious of some great constraint; she might have reported
to her friend what she had heard in the streets last night, but she
felt herself prevented from such communication,--seemed to be intent
principally on one thing: she would not commit herself in any direction.
She was looking with suspicion upon Jacqueline. Whatever became of her
soul, her body she would save alive. She was waking to this world's
enjoyment with vision alert, senses keen. Martyrdom in any degree was
without attraction to her, and in Truth she saw no beauty that she
should desire it. It was a root out of dry ground indeed, that gave no
promise of spreading into goodly shelter and entrancing beauty.
As to Jacqueline, she was absorbed in her heroic and exalted thoughts.
Her heart had almost failed her when she said farewell to John's mother;
tearfully she had hurried on her way. One vast cloud hung between her
and heaven; darkly rolled the river; every face seemed to bear witness
to the tragedy that day should witness.
Not the least of her affliction was the consciousness of the distance
increasing between herself and Elsie Meril. She knew that Elsie was
rejoicing that she had in no way endangered herself yet; and sure was
she that in no way would Elsie invite the fury of avenging tyranny and
Jacqueline asked her no questions,--spoke few words to her,--was
absorbed in her own thoughts. But she was kindly in her manner, and
in such words as she spoke. So Elsie perceived two things,--that she
should not lose her friend, neither was in danger of being seized by the
heretical mania. It was her way of drawing inferences. Certain that
she had not lost her friend, because Jacqueline did not look away, and
refuse to recognize her; congratulating herself that she was not the
object of suspicion, either justly or unjustly, among the dreadful
But that friend whose steady eye had balanced Elsie was already sick at
heart, for she knew that never more must she rely upon this girl who
came with her from Domremy.
As they crossed the bridge, lingering thereon a moment, the river seemed
to moan in its flowing toward Meaux. The day's light was sombre; the
birds' songs had no joyous sound,--plaintive was their chirping; it
saddened the heart to hear the wind,--it was a wind that seemed to take
the buoyancy and freshness out of every living thing, an ugly southeast
wind. They went on together,--to the wheat-fields together;--it was to
be day of minutes to poor Jacqueline.
To be away from Meaux bodily was, it appeared, only that the imagination
might have freer exercise. Yes,--now the people must be moving through
the streets; shopmen were not so intent on profits this day as they were
on other days. The priests were thinking with vengeful hate of the wrong
to themselves which should be met and conquered that day. The people
should be swiftly brought into order again! John in his prison was
preparing, as all without the prison were.
The crowd was gathering fast. He would soon be led forth. The shameful
march was forming. Now the brutal hand of Power was lifted with
scourges. The bravest man in Meaux was driven through the streets,--she
saw with what a visage,--she knew with what a heart. Her heart was awed
with thinking thereupon. A bloody mist seemed to fall upon the environs
of Meaux; through that red horror she could not penetrate; it shrouded
and it held poor Jacqueline.
Of the faith that would sustain him she began once more to inquire. It
is not by a bound that mortals ever clear the heights of God. Step by
step they scale the eminences, toiling through the heavenly atmosphere.
Only around the summit shines the eternal sun.
So she must now recall the words that Victor Le Roy read for her last
night; and the words he spoke from out his heart,--these also. And
she did not fear now, as yesterday, to ask for light. Let the light
dawn,--oh, let it shine on her!
The mother of Leclerc had uttered mysterious words which Jacqueline took
for truth; the light was joyful and blessed, and of all things to be
desired, though it smote the life from one like lightning. She waited
alone with faith, watching till it should come,--left alone with this
beam glimmering like a moth through darkness!--for thus was a believer,
or one who resolved on believing, left in that day, when he turned from
the machinery of the Church, and stood alone, searching for God without
the aid of priestly intervention.
There was something awful in such loneliness.
Jacqueline knew little of it until now, as she walked toward the fields,
by the side of Elsie Meril.
She saw how she had depended on the priest of Domremy, as he had been
the lawgiver and the leader of her life. A spiritual life, to be
sustained only by the invisible spirit, to be lived by faith, not in
man, but in God, without intervention of saint or angel or Blessed
Virgin,--was the world's life liberated by such freedom?
By faith, and not by sight, the just must live. Would He bow his heavens
and come down to dwell with the contrite and the humble?
Wondrous strange it seemed,--incomprehensible,--more than she could
manage or control. There are prisoners whose pardon proves the world too
large for them: they find no rest until their prison-door is opened for
Of this class was Elsie,--not Jacqueline. Elsie was afraid of
freedom,--not equal to it,--unable to deal with it; satisfied with being
a child, with being a slave, when it came to be a question whether she
should accept and use her highest privilege and dignity. At this hour,
and among all persuasions, you will find that Elsie does not stand
alone. Little children there are, long as the world shall stand,--though
not precisely such as we think of when we remember, "Of such is the
kingdom of heaven."
It was enough for Elsie--it is enough for multitudes through all the
reformations--that she had an earthly defence, even such as she relied
on without trouble. She lived in the hour. She had never toiled to
deliver her darling from the lions,--to redeem a soul from purgatory.
She eased her conscience, when it was troubled, by such shallow
discovery of herself as she deemed confession. She loved dancing,
and all other amusements,--hated solitude, knew not the meaning of
self-abnegation. And let her dance and enjoy herself!--some service
to the body is rendered thereby. She might do greatly worse, and
is incapable of doing greatly better. Will you stint the idiots of
comfort,--or rather build them decent habitations, and even vex yourself
to feed and clothe them, in reverent confidence that the Future shall
surely take them up and bless them, unstop their ears, open their eyes,
give speech to them and absolute deliverance?
There are others beside Elsie who congratulate themselves on
non-committal,--they covet not the advanced and dangerous positions.
Honorable, but dangerous positions! The head might be taken off, do you
not see? And could all eternity compensate for the loss of time? Ah, the
body might be mutilated,--the liberty restrained: as if, indeed, a
man's freedom were not eternally established, when his enemies, howling
around, must at least crucify him! as if a divine voice were not ever
heard through the raging of the people, saying, "Come up higher!"
But a fern-leaf cannot grow into a mighty hemlock-tree. From the ashes
of a sparrow the phoenix shall not rise. You will not to all eternity,
by any artificial means, nor by a miracle, bring forth an eagle from a
There was not a sadder heart in all those fields of Meaux than the heart
of Jacqueline Gabrie. There was not a stronger heart. Not a hand
labored more diligently. Under the broad-brimmed peasant-hat was a sad
countenance,--under the peasant-dress a heavily burdened spirit. Silent,
all day, she labored. She was alone at noon under the river-bordered
trees, eating her coarse fare without zest, but with a conscience,--to
sustain the body that was born to toil. But in the maelstroem of doubt
and anxiety was she tossed and whirled, and she cared not for her life.
To be rid of it, now for the first time, she felt might be a blessing.
What purpose, indeed, had she? She turned her thought from this
question, but it would not let her alone. Again and yet again she turned
to meet it, and thus would surely have at length its satisfying answer.
John Leclerc might pass through this ordeal, as from the first she
had expected of him. But she listened to the speech of many of her
fellow-laborers. Some prophecies which had a sound incredible escaped
them. She did not credit them, but they tormented her. They contended
with one another. John, some foretold, would certainly retract. One day
of public whipping would suffice. When the blood began to flow, he would
see his duty clearer! The men were prophesying from the depths and the
abundance of their self-consciousness. Others speculated on the final
result of the executed sentence. They believed that the "obstinacy" and
courage of the man would provoke his judges, and the executors of his
sentence,--that with rigor they would execute it,--and that, led on
by passion, and provoked by such as would side with the victim, the
sentence would terminate in his destruction. Sooner or later, nothing
but his life would be found ultimately to satisfy his enemies.
It might be so, thought Jacqueline Gabrie. What then? what then?--she
thought. There was inspiration to the girl in that cruel prophecy. Her
lifework was not ended. If Christ was the One Ransom, and it did truly
fall on Him, and not on her, to care for those beloved, departed from
this life, her work was still for love.
John Leclerc disabled or dead, who should care then for his aged mother?
Who should minister to him? Who, indeed, but Jacqueline?
Living or dying, she said to herself, with grand enthusiasm,--living or
dying, let him do the Master's pleasure! She also was here to serve that
Master; and while in spiritual things he fed the hungry, clothed the
naked, gave the cup of living water, visited the imprisoned, and the
sick of sin, she would bind herself to minister to him and his old
mother in temporal things; so should he live above all cares save those
of heavenly love. She could support them all by her diligence, and in
this there would be joy.
She thought this through her toil; and the thought was its own reward.
It strengthened her like an angel,--strengthened heart and faith. She
labored as no other peasant-woman did that day,--like a beast of burden,
unresisting, patient,--like a holy saint, so peaceful and assured, so
conscious of the present very God!
[To be continued.]
* * * * *
Around this lovely valley rise
The purple hills of Paradise.
Oh, softly on yon banks of haze
Her rosy face the Summer lays!
Becalmed along the azure sky,
The argosies of cloudland lie,
Whose shores, with many a shining rift,
Far off their pearl-white peaks uplift.
Through all the long midsummer-day
The meadow-sides are sweet with hay.
I seek the coolest sheltered seat
Just where the field and forest meet,--
Where grow the pine-trees tall and bland,
The ancient oaks austere and grand,
And fringy roots and pebbles fret
The ripples of the rivulet.
I watch, the mowers as they go
Through the tall grass, a white-sleeved row;
With even stroke their scythes they swing,
In tune their merry whetstones ring;
Behind the nimble youngsters run
And toss the thick swaths in the sun;
The cattle graze; while, warm and still,
Slopes the broad pasture, basks the hill,
And bright, when summer breezes break,
The green wheat crinkles like a lake.
The butterfly and humble-bee
Come to the pleasant woods with me;
Quickly before me runs the quail,
The chickens skulk behind the rail,
High up the lone wood-pigeon sits,
And the woodpecker pecks and flits.
Sweet woodland music sinks and swells,
The brooklet rings its tinkling bells,
The swarming insects drone and hum,
The partridge beats his throbbing drum.
The squirrel leaps among the boughs,
And chatters in his leafy house.
The oriole flashes by; and, look!
Into the mirror of the brook,
Where the vain blue-bird trims his coat,
Two tiny feathers fall and float.
As silently, as tenderly,
The down of peace descends on me.
Oh, this is peace! I have no need
Of friend to talk, of book to read:
A dear Companion here abides;
Close to my thrilling heart He hides;
The holy silence is His Voice:
I lie and listen, and rejoice.
"Tobacco, divine, rare, superexcellent tobacco, which goes far beyond all
the panaceas, potable gold, and philosopher's stones, a sovereign remedy
to all diseases! a good vomit, I confess, a virtuous herb, if it be well
qualified, opportunely taken, and medicinally used. But as it is commonly
abused by most men, which take it as tinkers do ale, 'tis a plague, a
mischief, a violent purger of goods, lauds, health: hellish, devilish, and
damned tobacco, the ruin and overthrow of body and soul!"--BURTON. _Anatomy
A delicate subject? Very true; and one which must be handled as tenderly
as _biscuit de Sevres_, or Venetian glass. Whichever side of the
question we may assume, as the most popular, or the most right, the
feelings of so large and respectable a minority are to be consulted,
that it behooves the critic or reviewer to move cautiously, and,
imitating the actions of a certain feline household reformer, to show
only the _patte de velours_.
The omniscient Burton seems to have reached the pith of the matter. The
two hostile sections of his proposition, though written so long since,
would very well fit the smoker and the reformer of to-day. That portion
of the world which is enough advanced to advocate reforms is entirely
divided against itself on the subject of Tobacco. Immense interests,
economical, social, and, as some conceive, moral, are arrayed on either
side. The reformers have hitherto had the better of it in point of
argument, and have pushed the attack with most vigor, yet with but
trifling results. Smokers and chewers, _et id omne genus_, mollified
by their habits, or laboring under guilty consciences, have made but a
feeble defence. Nor in all this is there anything new. It is as old as
the knowledge of the "weed" among thinking men,--in other words, about
three centuries. The English adventurers under Drake and Raleigh and
Hawkins, and the multitude of minor Protestant "filibusters" who
followed in their train, had no sooner imported the habit of smoking
tobacco, among the other outlandish customs which they brought home from
the new Indies and the Spanish Main, than the higher powers rebuked
the practice, which novelty and its own fascinations were rendering so
fashionable, in language more forcible than elegant. The philippic of
King James is so apposite that we may be pardoned for transcribing one
oft-quoted sentence:--"But herein is not only a great vanity, but a
great contempt of God's good gifts, that the sweetness of man's breath,
being a good gift of God, should be wilfully corrupted by this stinking
smoke.... A custom loathsome to the eye, hateful to the nose, harmfull
to the brain, dangerous to the lungs, and in the black stinking fume
thereof neerest resembling the horrible Stygian smoake of the pit that
[Footnote a: _Counterblast to Tobacco_.]
The Popes Urban VIII. and Innocent XII. fulminated edicts of
excommunication against all who used tobacco in any form; from which we
may conclude that the new habit was spreading rapidly over Christendom.
And not only the successors of St. Peter, but those also of the Prophet,
denounced the practice, the Sultan Amurath IV. making it punishable with
death. The Viziers of Turkey spitted the noses of smokers with their own
pipes; the more considerate Shah of Persia cut them entirely off. The
knout greeted in Russia the first indulgence, and death followed the
second offence. In some of the Swiss cantons smoking was considered a
crime second only to adultery. Modern republics are not quite so severe.
It is not to be supposed that in England the royal pamphlet had its
desired effect. For we find that James laid many rigid sumptuary
restrictions upon the practice which he abominated, based chiefly upon
the extravagance it occasioned,--the expenses of some smokers being
estimated at several hundred pounds a year. The King, however, had the
sagacity to secure a preemption-right as early as 1620.
Yet how could the practice but have increased, when, as Malcolm relates
the tradition, such men as Sir Walter Raleigh and Sir Hugh Middleton
sat smoking at their doors?--for "the public manner in which it was
exhibited, and the aromatic flavor inhaled by the passengers, exclusive
of the singularity of the circumstance and the eminence of the parties,"
could hardly have failed to favor its dissemination.
The silver-tongued Joshua Sylvester hoped to aid the royal cause by
writing a poem entitled, "Tobacco battered, and the pipes shattered,
(about their ears who idly idolize so base and barbarous a weed, or at
least-wise overlove so loathsome a vanity,) by a volley of holy shot
thundered from Mount Helicon." If the smoothness of the verses equalled
the euphony of the title, this must have proved a moving appeal.
Stow contents himself with calling tobacco "a stinking weed, so much
abused to God's dishonor."
Burton exhausts the subject in a single paragraph. Ben Jonson, though
a jolly good fellow, was opposed to the habit of smoking. But Spenser
mentions "divine tobacco." Walton's "Piscator" indulges in a pipe at
breakfast, and "Venator" has his tobacco brought from London to insure
its purity. Sweet Izaak could have selected no more soothing minister
than the pipe to the "contemplative man's recreation."
As the new sedative gains in esteem, we find Francis Quarles, in his
"Emblems," treating it in this serio-comic vein:--
"Flint-hearted Stoics, you whose marble eyes
Contemn a wrinkle, and whose souls despise
To follow Nature's too affected fashion,
Or travel in the regent walk of passion,--
Whose rigid hearts disdain to shrink at
Or play at fast-and-loose with smiles and
Come, burst your spleens with laughter to
A new-found vanity, which days of old
Ne'er knew,--a vanity that has beset
The world, and made more slaves than Mahomet,--
That has condemned us to the servile yoke
Of slavery, and made us slaves to smoke,
But stay! why tax I thus our modern
For new-born follies and for new-born
Are we sole guilty, and the first age free?
No: they were smoked and slaved as well
What's sweet-lipped honor's blast, but
smoke? what's treasure,
But very smoke? and what's more smoke
Brand gives us the whole matter in a nutshell, in the following quaint
epigram, entitled "A Tobacconist," taken from an old collection:--
"All dainty meats I do defy
Which feed men fat as swine;
He is a frugal man, indeed,
That on a leaf can dine.
"He needs no napkin for his hands
His fingers' ends to wipe,
That keeps his kitchen in a box,
And roast meat in a pipe."
And so on, the singers of succeeding years, _usque ad nauseam_,--a
loathing equalled only by that of the earlier writers for the plant, now
Tobacco-worship seems to us to culminate in the following stanza from a
"Tabak ist mein Leben,
Dem hab' ich mich ergeben, ergeben;
Tabak ist meine Lust.
Und eh' ich ihn sollt' lassen,
Viel lieber wollt' ich hassen,
Ja, hassen selbst eines Maedchens Kuss."
As it is with your sex, my dear Madam, that this question of Tobacco is
to be mainly argued,--for, to your honor be it spoken, you have always
been of the reformatory party,--let us hope, that, provided you have