« AnteriorContinuar »
if ever woman led a pure, blameless life, it was your mother."
"Ah, Mary," replied her husband, "every year of life convinces me that our faces and often our deeds are but the masks that conceal our heart's deep secrets. My mother was no exception to this rule."
He then proceeded to repeat to her in part the revelations of the circumstances of his birth made by Mrs. Livingston, and how in that disclosure all her wayward moods of alternate affection and repulsion toward him were now understood, pitied and forgiven; appreciating as he did at that moment how much she had suffered in the conflict, and how faithful through all she had been to the child who had brought such a blight upon her life. All she then asked as a proof of his love and gratitude was that he should never divulge even to his sisters the secret of his birth; never appear to the world other than the child of the husband she had so wronged, so that the world should never know that this son of whom he had been so proud was after all not even of his own blood.
"Of course, Mary, you were not included in this prohibition, for the husband's honor is the wife's. Beside, I could not hold in my own keeping alone the clue to the mystery that has darkened my life. I see its shadow fall daily over yours, when the power of expelling the gloom was in my own hands, and now I may tell you what before you would only believe with a reservation. It was not the image of Edith or my past love for her that so changed my nature, and called up at times those fits of gloomy sadness that made you so jealous and unhappy; it was the unfathomable mystery that enshrouded the circumstances and actors from beginning to end; it was the sudden silence and separation that fell like the pall of death between me and those I had so honored and loved; but, worse than that, it was the doubt and distrust of all future professions of friendship, that made the bitter fruit of these experiences. But this letter has made clear all that has been so dark, and has awakened the old love and reverence that made, glad my lost, boyish years. Don't start,
love, and look so pained. When you have rid this," laying his hand on Mr. Neville's letter, "you will acquit me of all wrong, and will then believe what I have before told you, that my lore for Edith was such as belonged to the dead; hallowed by the purity of the life out of which;! grew, and sanctified by the mystery that would never allow either blame to fall upon her, or com plete oblivion to swallow and annihilate those early memories, at once so sweet and so bitter, When you learn, as you will soon, the circumstances that made Mr. Neville my father, you in'i, have no further fears, no more jealous pangs, let your husband should love his sister better than h.-. wife."
A few more explanations, and Mary understood all. Amazement, joy and self-reproach possess! her in turn, and unwilling as she was to lose her husband again, even for a day, she yet urged hii going immediately to Mr. Neville, and assisted his departure in time for an early boat next morn- ing.
The force of love in the dying man's heart had coped bravely with disease; the wings of Axrae! were furled until the father and son were on« more and for the last time clasped in each other's arms. The awe and majesty of a death struggle thus waiting on a human love placed the brother and sister at once in a natural position toward tad other. When Edith saw this peaceful, heavensent termination to a series of events that hie through long years proved so calamitous; whtt she saw the smile of satisfied, accomplished lore, mingled with the death dews on that beloved father's face, she felt that all past sorrow, all present grief should find their balm in a spirit of resignation to these mercies that thus dispelled ill clouds from her future life, and left the mawwj of one so beloved beyond reproach forever. "Dna, then,
"All was ended now, the hope and the fear and the wn»*i All the aching of heart, the restless, unsatisfied longing, All the dull, deep pain, and constant anguish of Pu"''" And as she pressed once more the dying head to see
bosom, Meekly she bowed her own, and murmured, • Father, I
"Carpe Diem."—How many moments we lose, when, by watchfulness, we might appropriate them to good result! It is told of d'Aguesseau, whose
wife always made him wait for his dinner, that t* presented her with a book, saying: "There is ii* work of the moments before dinner."
A LILY FESTIVAL AT NOLA.
By Cyril Raymond.
Nola is but an hour's journey by rail from Naples. Why, then, you may ask, do travellers write or say so little of this ancient Campanian city? The simple answer is that it has now lost most of its attractions, and dwindled into the type of an ordinary Italian town.
The people one sees about the streets of Nola to-day are very much unlike those brave inhabitants who so successfully repulsed Hannibal from the gates; and no doubt the town has lost those charms that so endeared it to the Emperor Augustus, and made it even the rival of Pompeii. However, the surrounding country is particularly beautiful. Vineyards, fruit-trees, meadow and tillage-land lie interspersed over a fertile and luxuriant plain, on one side of which rises a lofty mountain, just screening Vesuvius from view. Children by the roadside, in the fields, or on the hill-slopes can as usual be heard improvising little melodies, and at certain hours of the day the narrow streets, the porticos, verandas, and favorite squares of the old town are alive with the brawling and the restlessness of Italian men, women, and children.
There are, at all events, two days in the year when Nola is the scene of unusual merriment. One is when the gay bacchanalian procession of Neapolitans pass through the town, on their way from the grand festival of the Madonna, near Avellino; and the other is that which we are going to describe as the f&te-day of Nola's patron Saint, Paulinus, who held a bishopric there in the fifth century. The people know really very little about the bishop; but they associate him, notwithstanding, with the highest type of a noblehearted, exemplary man. A beautiful vase of alabaster now to be seen in the cathedral, and said to have been used at the marriage-feast in Cana of Galilee, helps to keep alive the memory of Paulinus, who once possessed that precious relic, as the gift of a devoted pilgrim to the Holy Land. But many of those who join in the games and the procession of the twenty-second of June are, no doubt, influenced by an old tradition that tells of the pure nature and the self-sacrificing spirit of the good bishop. A poor distressed |
widow asked him one day for a small sum of money, in order that she might ransom her cherished son from the hands of the Saracens. Paulinus was touched by the mother's sad tale. He had not the money, but so keen was his sympathy that he offered to put himself in her son's place. He was accordingly taken to Barbary, and lived there in confinement many years. On his return he was welcomed with the most brilliant celebrations, and all the people of Nola expressed their joy in just such acts of devotion as are to be seen at the present day. Very few can tell you anything more about the Saint; but one becomes aware of the fact that they have learned to look upon the anniversary of his death as one of the most festive days in the year. No one could fail to be amazed at the curious yet magnificent pageant that on this day is made to do honor to the bishop's memory. There is then also every form of life and amusement about the streets of Nola. Apart from the special attraction of the procession, a cattle fair, horse-races, games, and every kind of fun that an Italian delights in, draw large numbers of pleasure-seekers from Capua, Caserta, and the neighboring villages. The ordinary quiet of the old town is suddenly astir with the hissing, hullaballooing, and clattering of a little Naples. Joyous throngs of young and old fill the streets and squares, and the shrill shouting of vendors, the braying of donkeys, the cracking of whips and the songs of merriment make one unceasing uproar.
The festival comes at a time when Nature lends a most delightful charm to the occasion. Towards the month of July, lilies occur in abundant perfection, and these the peasants gather in enormous quantities to grace the celebrations of the twentysecond of June. It quite astonishes one to see the lavish display of lilies and the curious use to which they are put. Trade-guilds of barbers, green-grocers, etc., undertake the management of affairs, and strive to outdo one another in their preparations. They construct at their own expense huge wooden frames, which they cover completely with buds, leaves, and flowers, interspersed with religious emblems, and surmounted each by a large cross. These structures are shaped like pyramids, and are often higher than the highest houses. They are divided into two stories, as it were, marked off by balconies. On the lower of these are children in the garb of angels, throwing flowers, trinkets, and scraps of paper to the hustling crowds beneath. On the upper balcony, no child could rightly be allowed to venture, and so paper angels are substituted, their arms and wings being made to move by strings worked from below. These colossal structures are each supported on a broad platform, and actually borne along on the shoulders of men, whose long white robes and sober aspect remind one of the religious nature of the display. Surely, the weight of these socalled "lilies" cannot be anything like so great as it seems to be, for twenty-five able-bodied fellows are found amply sufficient to carry each one, as long as the procession lasts. One cannot help pitying these poor creatures who thus "bear the burden and heat of the day;" yet they seem to take a certain amount of pleasure in the work, and are content with the paltry pittance they get from the accompanying crowds. At funeral pace the procession moves along the narrow streets and through the squares, stopping here and there before the houses of the principal citizens, who may possibly manifest their sympathy with the proceedings by throwing out a small donation. The air rings with the excitement of the surrounding life; the scene is one of mixed gayety and gravity. Frolic
some youths, and merry maidens in their fancycolored costumes, play in and about the crowd; hawkers with shrill cries are endeavoring to attract the bystanders to their display of wine, fruit and cakes; priests cast a benignant smile at the procession, or make a reverential bow of the head; and water-women fall on their knees as the " lily" passes by. The air seems filled with the paperlike articles that are being showered down by the little angels, who would have every spectator take away some memento of the Saint's beneficence. Some of the " lilies" have bells attached to them, which are kept continually ringing. This is only intended as an additional honor to Paulinus, who has long enjoyed the credit of having invented church bells; but not rightly, however, for they were unknown until the seventh century. Probably because they first came from Campania, the origin of their introduction has been attributed to the good Bishop of Nola, whom the people were ready to believe as the author of most of the blessings they enjoyed. It is a fact, however, that the people are now as ignorant of the meaning of the bells on this occasion as they are of the whole ceremony.
The festival of the patron Saint has been continued for centuries, and apparently never suggests anything more to its votaries than a day on which little angels shower down devotional images, and citizens in and around the town gather together for a general jollification.
By Cousin Constance.
The years they come and go,
Upon our hair,
At noonday fair.
The years, the swift, strong years,
Of early days.
And yet, oh, years, ye bring
Experience born of care,
Many a treasure rare—
Soft the refrain.
Of your departing song,
That cannot die.
Hushes our sighs.
Blest they whom fleeting years
For wasted hours.
Or fade their flowers.
WOMEN AND CHIVALRY.
By Maurice M. Howland.
Reverence for the gentler sex was inculcated in every lesson of chivalry. In the early education of youth, women were represented as the objects of respectful love and the dispensers of happiness. The child was taught that to be an honorable and happy man, he should prove himself worthy of the love of a virtuous woman. "This lesson," says Ulrich von Lichtenstein, in his book entitled "Duties Owed to Women," "every boy sucked in with his mother's milk; so it was not wonderful that love and honor should become identified in his soul. When I was a child, so young that I used to ride upon a stick, I was fully persuaded that I ought to honor women with all that I possessed—love, goods, courage, and life." Till the age of seven, the child was to be under the discipline of women. Wirin von Grafenberg, in his chivalric poem of " Wigolais," relates that while the knights would teach the boy all the exercises of chivalry, the women of the castle had such an affection for his virtue that they allowed him when much older to go about in a familiar manner among them. Biisching laments that with the decline of chivalry this tender, and at the same time this manly, education should have been changed for a mode which did not profess to effect any such general object. Religion and the rules of chivalry conspired in these ages to convince youth that the object of its pride was to be obtained by virtue; that the image which was held with all the rapture of the imagination was to be approached in the discharge of duty; and that while infidelity might present its temptations to the senses, whatever the heart held dear in time and in eternity was connected with its faith in Christ.
Everything in the education of boys tended to raise to the highest degree that reverence for women which had distinguished old Germany; to soften and refine the manners of youth; to make the mind generous and the person graceful by requiring a constant and at the same time a cheerful and willing obedience. Tacitus says that the Germans thought there was something holy in women, and that they never despised their counsels nor neglected their answers. How remark
ably was this spirit evinced by St. Louis when the Sultan inquired what money he would give for his ransom, and he replied, "It is for the Sultan to explain himself; if his propositions are reasonable, I will make the queen acquainted with the terms enjoined!" The infidels were lost in astonishment at such respect for a woman. "C'est," replied the king, "qu'elle ma dame et ma compagne." To repeat the apology of Sir Philip Sidney, "It may seem superfluous to use words in praise of a subject which needs no praises, and withal I fear lest my unworthy tongue should utter words which may be a disgrace to them I so inwardly honor;" and yet how can one allude to the knights, their toils and dangers, without making mention of the women "who witched them j into love and courtesy." It is far too noble and gracious a subject to be attempted by my coarse pencil; but nevertheless, since I have put on the lion's skin, as Socrates used to say, I must not flinch, but proceed.
Nor were they unworthy of being the instructors of the good and brave. The following legend occurs in the annals of an old monastery. Taland, natural son of Pepin, the father of Charlemagne, fell in love with Hildegard, Charles's first queen, and during the absence of the king in his Saxon wars he had opportunity to disclose his design. After trying all the arts of persuasion, and even harsh threatenings, the empress at length pretended to consent, and appointed him to come to a chamber, where, as soon as he entered, the doors closed, and he found himself a prisoner. Upon the return of Charles she gave him his liberty, upon which he immediately accused her to his brother, whose love gave place to indignation, and he ordered that her eyes should be put out, and that she should then be executed. A generous knight resolved to save her, and hurried her off from the place intended for execution, after causing the eyes of a hound to be sent to the king, as a proof that his sentence had been obeyed. Hildegard fled to Rome, where she supported herself by her knowledge of simples and other medicines, with which she cured poor sick people. In the meanwhile Taland became blind, and in the year 773 he accompanied Charlemagne to Rome, when, after vainly applying to the best physicians, the fame of Hildegard, as an unknown woman for whom the poor had great reverence, induced him to have recourse to her. She knew him instantly, performed the cure, and pardoned him. Charlemagne and the pope hastened to see the stranger who had effected such a marvelous cure. What was the emperor's astonishment when he recognized his once beloved Hildegard I She related her history, and obtained a pardon for the "wretch" Taland. The pope bestowed the title of "the great" upon the happy pair, and soon after her return from Italy she founded the monastery at Kempton, in gratitude to God for having manifested her innocence.
There was something extremely amiable and humane in the gallantry of these days. By the customs of Burgundy, a young maid could save the life of a criminal, if she met him by accident for the first time, going to execution,.and asked him in marriage. "Is it not true," asks Marchangy, "that the criminal who can interest a simple and virtuous maid, so as to be chosen for a husband, is not so guilty as he may appear, and that attenuating circumstances speak secretly in his favor?" Many women refused even to appear at tournaments. The Duchess of Burgundy, wife of Philippe the Good, could never attend on such occasions. The Cid could not inspire his wife Ximena, and her women, with his own spirit, for they were unable to look on from a tower when a battle was to be fought with the Moors; and even in Amadis de Gaul, Oriana always shudders at the sight of preparations for any hour of danger.
It appears from the treatise which Rene d'Anjou wrote on the form of tournaments, that before commencing, the king-of-arms was to lead some great knight or squire before the women, and to say: "Thrice noble and redoubted knight, or thrice noble and gentle squire, as it is always the custom to have a compassionate heart, those who are assembled in this company in order to behold the tournament which is to be held to-morrow, make known their pleasure, that the combat before their eyes must not be too violent, or so ordered that they cannot bear assistance in need. Therefore they command the most renowned knight or squire in the assembly, whoever he may be, to bear right to-morrow, on the end of a lance; this present cceuvre-chief in order that when any one
should be too grievously pressed, he may lower this cceuvre-chief over the crest of those who attack him, who must immediately cease to strike, and not dare to touch their adversary any more; for from this hour, during the rest of that day, the women take him under their protection and safeguard." With these words they then presented to him the cceuvre-chief. It was a kind of hood enriched with embroidery.
Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey, in the reign of Henry VIII. made the tour of Europe in the spirit of an Amadis, proclaiming the unrivalled charms of his Geraldine, who was daughter of Gerald Fitz-Gerald, Earl of Kildare. At the emperor's court, Cornelius Agrippa, was said to have shown him, in a mirror, a living image of Geraldine, reclining on a couch, sick, and reading one of his sonnets by a waxen taper. On his arrival at Florence, he challenged all knights who should presume to deny the superiority of her beauty. The lady being of Tuscan origin, the Florentines were pleased, and the grand duke permitted a general and unmolested ingress into his dominions of the combatants of all countries, till the trial should be decided. The challenge was accepted, and the earl proved victorious. But though we might multiply these examples, it will remain no less true that the perfection of the female character was regarded as consisting in angelic mildness and delicate grace, incapable of a thought which bordered on cruelty.
Chivalry even gave warning to women not to forget the softness and humanity of their character, in requiring any unreasonable service of danger from a knight. In Schiller's poem of the " Glove," the Knight Delorges obeys indeed, and in the presence of Francis I. drops down into the horrible pit, and from the midst of the wild beasts takes up the glove; but it is only to toss it to the lady Kunigund, and to turn from her forever. And in the Morte d'Arthur also, the knight performs th service, but the woman has no longer a servant. "If a woman obliged me to perform it," says an old officer in a famous romance, "I would perform it, but never see her more."
Anciently in England women were sheriffs of counties. Margaret, Countess of Richmond, was a justice of peace. Sir William Dugdale says that Ela, widow of William, Earl of Salisbury, executed the sheriff's office for Wiltshire, in the reign of Henry III. Sibylla, wife of Robert, Duke of