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o'clock in the morning, and did not let logical views, as opposed to the scholas

until six o'clock in the evening; tic philosophy of St. Thomas Aquinas. holding him there, “ not • with his glit- Leo XIII. has reinstated Aquinas, or tering eye,'”' the visitor writes me,

at least renewed his influence.

But by his bold and brilliant tongue." whatever criticisms of Brownson have another occasion Brownson read aloud been made upon this score, it may be to this same caller Emerson's noble and doubted whether any writer of English affecting Threnody on the death of his in this century has given the world so little son Waldo ; and as he read, “his encyclopædic a presentation of Catholic face became wet with tears, which he doctrine and thought as he, or one so intook no pains to conceal. The incident telligible to all classes of minds and likewas a revelation to me. I had heard ly to benefit them all. Dr. Brownson described as a rude, rough To whatever cause it be owing, Brownman, apparently without feeling. The son is omitted from our manuals and hismore I saw of him, the more I saw that tories of literature, or figures but slightbehind that somewhat rude manner was ly in them. Professor Richardson even beating a warm, kind, tender heart.” affirms that the Catholic Church in the This, too, is a fitting and corrective pen- United States has “depended on fordant to that savage characterization of eign authorities in this line," — meaning Emerson as a writer of “hymns to the the literature of religion and morals ; devil," which I have quoted.

ignoring the fact that it has found here My correspondent declares that Brown- one of the most virile and accomplished son“ was as intense an American as exponents it possesses in any part of the Washington, Jackson, or Lincoln,” — an world. In Stedman and Hutchinson's assertion the truth of which no one will Library of American Literature only dispute who has studied his writings and one extract from Brownson is given ; his career. Of his attempts at fiction, and that one, relating to practical dewhich were purely didactic, — Charles mocracy, hints at but a single and least Elwood and The Spirit - Rapper, -it significant phase of the author's activity. is not necessary to speak here; my ob- Yet he was highly regarded and very ject being to present only some points of prominent among his literary contemposuggestion respecting his force as a phi- raries, until the main current of his prolosopher and teacher, a comprehensive duction flowed into Catholic channels. student of religious history and govern- It seems to me that he merits a clearer ment, a potent essayist on many subjects; and more grateful recognition, to-day, a man of conscience, whose convictions than he commonly receives. The large, - as Lowell wrote of Dante “ were Websterian cast of his mind, the cleanso intimate that they were not only in- cut massiveness of his thinking and his tellectual conclusions, but parts of his style, make him an interesting object of moral nature ;” and withal as ardent an study. The very fact that in himself he American patriot as he was a Catholic. formed so close a link between the Tran

Some of his most able contemporaries scendental or other phases of American in the Catholic world of letters and intel- thought and those embodied in the Cathlect, among them the brilliant Dr. Ward olic Church adds to his significance ; of the Dublin Review (whom Tennyson and he may well be commended to all greeted as “most generous of ultramon- serious, fair-minded readers of the pretanes, Ward"), although giving to his sent and the rising generation as illusunusual powers a hearty recognition, trating with strength and brilliancy the abated somewhat from their praise be- Catholic mind in the United States, and cause of his strong advocacy of onto its relation to our national life.

George Parsons Lathrop.

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THE OUBLIETTE.

FERTÉ-MILON was a surprise in more with here and there an officer showing ways than one.

The gentle planner of himself on a spirited horse. They railway itinerary from Montmirail to seemed to be merely passing. Relaxed Mezy, from Mezy to Château-Thierry, from drill they loitered about, eating and from Château-Thierry by way of sweets or carving arm-long loaves with Ferté-Milon and Soissons to Compiègne, their pocket-knives. had not foreseen, in consulting the guide, So involved and steep was the way to that there would be a delay of four hours the castle that I was misled on a street in Ferté-Milon.

below, above which one enormous white I was in haste, and heard this decree wall stood as in the clouds ; but inquiry of railway fate with impatience. The led to a winding lane like so many Old Maid of Orleans and the army gathered World ascents to feudal fortresses. On to Charles VII. on his coronation at the way was a church, locked. A woRheims had passed through Ferté-Milon, man with a child in her arms ran to fetch but no trace of her presence was left. the key. And when we had rested in a Baedeker mentions the place as “a small light interior, containing little except the town on the slopes of a hill rising from brightness of hilltops to impress on one, the banks of the Ourcq, which was the she volunteered to guide me to the ruin, birthplace of Racine, the dramatist, to declaring there were pits about it which whom a statue by David d'Angers has were dangerous. been erected here. The hill is crowned Half a dozen other thin women and by the ruins of a castle of the twelfth dirty children looked down from a high century, including one entire side with terrace by which the road was walled at four large towers. Some remains of the this place; and as a guide in the hand is town walls, dating from the thirteenth a protection against many guides in the century, are also preserved.”

bush, she was retained, and led me up the After the first quick annoyance at be- stony way. ing held back from Compiègne, I left A wide expanse of summit gave site the busy little gare for Ferté's upsloping to the castle. It was a breezy place like a street; and it was full of enticement, the field, with few trees, though some old and castle showing white as lime rock on a huge ones clustered near the hollow side summit to which approaches seemed hard of the ruin. As we approached, we saw to find.

some bold soldiers walking on the top of Racine stood on his pedestal, crowd- the lofty wall betwixt towers ; and they ing the narrow sidewalk, his works listed looked more than ever like little boys. on a tablet for inattentive passers. The Another cautious fellow was slowly tryclean Hôtel de la Sauvage showed within ing to scale steps left by falling masonits court preparations for a goodly din- ry, up to their dizzy height, and all of ner, the cook being visible cleaning de- them were taken up with their own exlicious white beans of the north, and ploits. grapes and pears were stacked for the

The woman's pale little child sat on dessert. I could see the ruins and dine, her arm, and, perhaps made indifferent having no margin of heavy time. by custom, leaned over the six or eight

The town was swarming with soldiers, horrible-looking holes which she showed ordinary good-humored fellows under- me within the castle court. Some were going their period of military service; so deep we could not see the bottom, and

like one

can woman.

a drainlike odor came up. One showed suburban trees and cottages to spread wet clay, and into others the earth had below, I looked at my watch and saw it caved. Ladders were set in two which

was not yet four o'clock.

What was to had ancient stone curbing, as had all the prevent my going back and descending mouths of underground storehouses in one of those ladders to discover what the Middle Ages.

lay at the foot ? The ladders were a “There is correspondence between guaranty of safety. And as for that them, madame,” remarked my guide; rank odor from the covered pits, the unand I thought of the subterranean cel- clean dwellers on the terrace had doubtlars in Chinon. A bold

person

less thrown refuse down them ; and I of those soldiers could descend, indiffer- had no desire to look into them, anyhow. ent to the stale odor of a long-gone life, The “correspondence” need not be foland feel his way from one rock chamber lowed through all its burrowings. There to another.

was really preparation for such a venture Old rotting boards covered some of in my light marching equipment: jacket the pits. We moved silently, the distant and skirt of dark rough wool serge, with insect-like voices of the climbers making the shirt waist, close traveling-hat, strong the only noise about this spot. We heard low-cut shoes, and dogskin gloves, which the wind, indeed, rasping mournfully are so easily renewed from one's baggage. across jagged battlements.

Yet I was loath to be seen stealing When we departed through the gate- back, and to have my movements watched less entrance of the courtyard, the guide, with the furtive interest all provincial fee in hand and child at shoulder, went dwellers show in the astounding Ameriher way, and I sauntered on a road lead

Therefore it was with care ing by the castle's best preserved side and swiftness that I reëntered the court, and winding with many turns down to crossed the parapet of the nearest pit, the rear of Ferté-Milon. The imposing and got down the ladder without being façade had tablets set in its side, an im- seen even by a soldier. mense one showing over the entrance. Having ventured so far, a recoil sent So high were they reared in the dazzling me up two or three rounds.

So hangafternoon that the limbs of creatures ing, I looked down to accustom unwonted carven in relief were not easily distin- eyes to the decaying pit. The bottom guished, though it appeared to be a show was moist clay, perhaps mixed by rain. of some royal progress. The soldiers had It had been walled by rock or picked in either found footing on a lower wall or the rock base of the castle, and the anwere hidden by towers.

cient surface was seamed and weatherIt was not easy to leave such an evi- worn. This pit would not crumble before dent nest of tradition, about which I real- the washing of storms, like those boardly knew nothing. Had Racine celebrat- covered gaps

where the soil was deeper. ed this ancient landmark of his birth ? There was an earthy odor mingled with Ferté-Milon itself, narrow and crowded the indescribable smell of age. But the and sloping uphill, a small stony town of hardihood that ventured into it might the Middle Ages, had a modern tang, readily go farther. caught from its railway trains, its passing I stood on the bottom of the shaft, soldiers. But this nameless castle, shin- which was quite seven feet in diameter, ing white and vast directly under the sky, and eyed a dark tunnel to which it gave belonged, with all its secrets, to a century entrance. Very likely the townspeople before Froissart chronicled the battles of had run about here many a Sunday. England, France, and Spain.

They love to tramp through their old As a rising bank began to hide it, and feudal strongholds. I saw two girls, once, dancing in Chinon beside the stone bars studded with iron nails which once coping of just such a pit as this. Cour- penned prisoners into narrow window emage, when it is not sudden and executive brasures, with a door just large enough in woman, must pioneer a little before it to let their food in. I remembered the can coax her on. The floor of the gal- leg-chains, too heavy for any one to lift, lery descended, but having correspond- still hanging from the walls, and the ence with other pits and possible cham- carvings those wretches had made above bers, it could only descend to their level. their stone benches, recorded prayers, Like a cautious skater on brittle ice, I cries of stone despair, names, and dates, moved step by step down this grade, with slowly graven with ever renewed anhand outstretched ready to brace my pro- guish. Worse than these open oaken gress by the wall. Stones underfoot were pens where light cheered the eye, I reheaved up unevenly; and it seemed in- membered the tyrant's cachettes undercredible that a spot so high as this castle ground, down worn flight after worn rock could ooze such dankness.

flight of stairs, until the torch of the From the comparative day of the pit guide buried itself in endless night; but behind me I went into night; and of it lifted itself in a clean, spacious room all experimental blindnesses that under- of rock, and showed walls covered with ground is most appalling. Gray dawn

Gray dawn pictures made by poor Ludovic Sforza ; and then the open skylight of another and farther down still, the deep cell of pit encouraged me. Judging by the di- Cardinal Balue. I closed my eyes, and rection I had come, this was the pit at saw again the place where his altar had the castle base. Here several paths stood against the wall, and opposite it branched off, but no large storehouse or that hole into an air-shaft down which, other chamber seemed promised by any once a day, at high noon, came a hint of of them. They were smaller tunnels than light. I saw the hollows his hands and the one I followed. I had no intention feet had worn in this wall, clambering of exploring all these underground by- to catch that one glimpse of day. And roads.

behind his cell was another containing It was in the second pit that I thought an oubliette. Ob that oubliette! I had I heard voices, and, so strange were the

looked down its shaft, just large enough acoustics of that hole, they sounded un- to let a human body pass lengthwise. derneath me, muffled, struggling against How strange it now seems that nearly some deadening medium. A small breast

every royal castle and many which work had been formed here by the par- were not royal — had its little forgettial sinking in of one side. It was a tery, its oubliette, into which monarch warning to turn back, for I had to climb or feudal lord could drop any one who over it to pursue my way. But I did became irksome or dangerous to him, want to see at least one subterranean with certainty that the body would be room. Perhaps I should find a hook in safely washed from the bottom of the a ceiling, — or rocky substitute for a ceil- masonry pit by a sluice which carried it ing, — such a hook as may be seen under to the nearest river! I have seen very Chinon, where Louis XI. once hoisted the spacious oubliettes, and some were beDuke d’Alençon in a cage.

lieved to have had innocent-looking floors, Now, at that thought all the horrors which fell beneath the feet of victims of Loches began to crowd into mind. I lured or pushed upon them. The eleventh remembered the fierce barking of a cross Louis, having his prisons at heart as much dog within the donjon gate when I pulled as he had his prayers, was very nice inthe bell; the soldier who lets travelers deed in such constructions, and intruded into that awful inferno; the cages of oak them no more in size than was necessary

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There is a deeper depth under the dun- oubliettes. I even had a dread it might geon of Cardinal Balue, where one's feet

not prove what I wished. seem to slide down the concave stone An

uncanny slope of the floor toward floor to a pit sunk in the centre, directly that spot, like a one-sided funnel, bebeneath the oubliette above.

trayed footing on the slippery stones. I But of course none of these horrors kept to the contour of the left-hand wall, belonged to Ferté-Milon. The network thereby bracing myself as I shuffled cauof underground tracery here included no tiously down, and making use also of the oubliette, for that would be fiendishly largest break in the partition. Again hidden within the walls or surrounded voices were heard, but they came down by a tower. The worn path was round- the shaft. The soldiers were evidently ed like a gutter to the foot. However, at the top, talking through the hollow. it was a short passage, though a winding They had found its open mouth above, one, from the second pit to a spacious and their words scattered, as shot might enlargement.

do, from side to side in a spray of echoes, Here was nothing to suggest a greater yet with a muffled sound. Cautiously I weight of upper world overhead, yet I bent forward and looked up, but my felnow felt sure of having arrived within low-explorers and I were not able to see the circumference of the castle. Air blew one another. So unconscious were they in from some place, carrying an

of a mortal at the base of the tube that cient breath of decay, a dankness differ- they heaved a stone down its length. It ent from that of the pits. I could see whirred past my head like a bat, silent that the room was low and wide, and at into the depths, and from far below a first I could see nothing else except a metallic answer rung so faintly it could slight thinning of the darkness in one not have been heard by the senders. corner, and a black hollow directly under Broken timbers lay across my side of it in the pavement. When that change the hole in the pavement, that vile botby which the eyes are adjusted was com- tom of the oubliette left open here in plete, I could discern a windrow of rotted past centuries that monsters might look timbers, and sinking in their slow fall down and see if the descending body oak joists and uprights, with interlacing had sped well. How many metres was cross-beams, like a broken partition which it to the sluice which once carried to had once been built around the gray spot the Ourcq? Perhaps the sluice had long in the corner.

been choked — with what? A skeleton In my next breath I knew an oubliette cramped with its skull in its ribs, rags was indicated by that corner. The gray- of velvet or Flemish cloth, shoes moored ness was daylight coming down a long by their own pointed toes, a sword stuck shaft, perhaps inclosed in a tower. The crossways in the masonry ? Could anyhollow in the pavement had been sunk thing now ride through that horrid canal ? hundreds of years ago, and completed by The fierce-beating American sun and some canal of masonry which let into the American mind would search out the Ourcq. There is a sturdy human these mysteries on American soil. I felt stubbornness which will not be turned glad to have them where they were. back or scared on provocation. The When you contemplate an oubliette, and place might be full of noisome things, remember how you and yours have es- the Ferté-Milonese might be permit- caped it, and how really out of date it ting it to continue so, as foreigners per- is in this year of the world, you may be mit so many things which an American said to enjoy the full merit of the thing. would change, – but I wanted to look Nobody, at the period when that oubliinto it, and compare it with my other ette was in operation, could have realized

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