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The Story of the Mountain
Mount Saint Mary's College and Seminary

Mary E. Meline & Edward F.X. McSween

Published by the Emmitsburg Chronicle, 1911

Chapter 9 | Chapter Index

Chapter 10: 1822-1824

The Mount 1822

Father Dubois has a journal of his trip to Niagara Falls made in July-August, 1822, but it is nothing more than a litany of the places through which he passed by stage and steamboat. Of the Hudson River he says very little, and of the Falls absolutely nothing. How different had it been were Brute to describe the same journey and reveal the thoughts raised in him by this wonderful work of God.

It has been the custom for many years to give a holiday and a feast on St. John Evangelist's Day, the patron of Father Dubois, a date included now in the Christmas holidays, but not in that time of sterner discipline. This year Mr. Wiseman of the Seminary asks in poetic measure recreation for the President's feast:

1. Once more the festive day comes round To cheer the Winter" s chilly reign; Once more our youthful hearts rebound We do not hail it now in vain:

2. For ready is our Father's heart To hear his children's humble prayer; The day of joy he will impart And bid it joyful garlands wear.

3. St. John's through years and long time past Has ever been a happy day, And now again it hastens fast To be the subject of our lay.

4. Kind father, listen to our claim And grant the leave you always gave; Withhold the cruel bell again, May we our recreation have.

5. We know the joy you always feel To see your children's artless glee; Then do not former laws repeal, But tell us we are once more free.

6. Tomorrow is your patron's right; He claims it for us, and will you Bid us in sorrow pass the night, Without the joyful day in view ?

7. O no! We know your heart too well To think you would reject our plea. O then the shades of doubt dispel And bid your children happy be!

We may be allowed to trust that this appeal did not fall on deaf ears or a stony heart.

The following memorandum of Father Brute's is, as is so frequently and unfortunately the case, undated, but it must have been written about this time. It gives a sketch of one day's work:

"Saturday night, 14th, I received from Baltimore a number of the Edinburg Review and Stuart' Against the Eternal Generation Jesus Christ.' Sunday, 15th. Already read through Stuart's book, and wrote a long letter to Rev. Mr. Elder. Attended the duties of the day at Emmitsburg. In the evening read part on the road, part at home, most of the Edinburg. Monday. This day I finished the Edinburg; made a dozen long notes on the article on O'Meara's Journal ("A Voice from St. Helena"), and two on the article upon Duprat's works, with some search among my books in regard to points in these memoranda. Wrote a letter to Mr. Chanche; packed up, the whole to be sent to Baltimore to-morrow morning by Sister Xavier, who is going there. Finished a map of the Ecclesiastical States for the geography class. Read on the sixth chapter of St. John, Witasse, Tournley, Drouin, Bellarmine, and the Discussion Amicale; consulted also Wesley's Notes, Cajetan, Beil, Bergier, my old notes of Mr. Frayssinous, and noted down twenty-one arguments upon the subject. Taught the class in theology ; studied some other questions; taught the class in philosophy; went on a sick call, etc., etc., etc., and then the usual happy round of a priest, prayer and meditation, mass breviary, beads, visit to the Blessed Sacrament, etc"

This other memorandum of Father Brute's was written some time in the two years he was pastor of Emmitsburg. The word "Eternity" is found upon all his leaflets an ever-present thought and influence with him.

"One day a priest—Eternity!"

4 ˝ o'c. "Benedicamus Domino" "Praise be to God" on awakening; vocal prayer ; meditation before the tabernacle; Rev. Mr. Hickey's Mass, Jesus Christ my own Lord present; breakfast; bodily care. Returned to the church (on the Mountain) opened the tabernacle and took out the Blessed Sacrament. Went with Guy Elder through the woods, our Blessed Lord on my breast. Said our beads with acts of devotion to the Blessed Sacrament at the end of each decade.

"8 o'c. At Mrs. McCormick's ; her lively marks of faith and joy; heard her confession; arranged the table; called the people; the young convert and her little one; her husband preparing for his first Communion; administered the Blessed Sacrament to Mrs. McCormick ; spoke of Martha and Mary and Lazarus and Zacheus, old friends of our Lord on earth; He still upon earth and we His present living friends. On our way to Emmitsburg recited the Miserere, Our Father, Hail Mary, hymn "Jesus Lover of My Soul."

"9 ˝ o'c. At the church in Emmitsburg, opened the Tabernacle and Ciborium. Went to see Mr. ————, ten years with out making his Easter Communion ; good moral character, as they say; heard his confession; strong faith, gave lively evidence of it; had a talk with him, etc.

"l0 ˝ o'c. Coming back, baptized the child of Peter's wife; her abundant tears; her great difficulties; did not hear her confession at that time.

"11 o'c. Returned to church in Emmitsburg; restored B. 8. to the Ciborium; stopped at St. Joseph's with Guy, paid a visit to the Blessed Sacrament; saw Mrs. Brawner.

"12 o'c. Found at the college an old German woman waiting for me; no duty for ten years; sick and lame; looked very poorly, came to know if I would hear her; Sister Angela gave her a dinner. To come again on Sunday.

"1 ˝ o'c. Was called to see Glacken above Emmitsburg ; went to the church at Emmitsburg to get the Blessed Sacrament; this is the fifth time to-day that I have touched my Sovereign Lord, "The king of glory," as M. Duhamel has it embroidered on the inside door of the Tabernacle; carried it to the sick; administered the Sacrament of Extreme Unction ; made a little address to those present several Protestants.

" 4 o'c. Went to Mrs. Brawner's; heard her confession ; recited my office. Oh! the wonders of that office of the Blessed Sacrament; and am now writing down these notes; but a thousand details, thoughts and acts not told; how wonderful the day of a priest ! In the evening., "Instructions for Confirmation."

On the same paper is written: "What have I done today for the house? Reviewed the second Latin class; had a conversation before God with one of the young men Latin lesson; reviewed the third French class; Latin lesson to Guy Elder; had a conversation with another young man who came to consult me; one with Mr. Hickey; one with the two Gardiners; wrote a letter; the Dialogue for Baltimore, six pages; spiritual reading, the usual prayers. "If all done well, what a blessing it would bring, but, Oh! my Lord, so poorly, by halves alas!"

Some letters of the students give an idea of their life in those days. Mr. Purcell to Mr. Egan (in Baltimore) care Mr. Ed. Tiers (Purcell was still studying at the Mountain, while Egan had gone to finish in Baltimore.)

Mount St. Mary's Aug. 7th, 1823

My dearest friend: 1 have just received your kind note and I sit down to answer by candle light [Candles were the only lights then]. I foresaw my detention at the Mount this vacation spent it with Rev. Mr. Brute visiting all the sick. Mr. Hickey, Mr. Shanahan and myself had a fifteen miles walk over the Mountains today, with our Lord, to a dying man family truly edifying . . . I am to stay up till 10 or 11 o'clock to make out complicated bills for A. & F. Fanlac. Non erit requies this life's a warfare. Your evenings domestic are silent, I hope. Deloughery and Hiltzelberger. other students of the Mountain, tell us in their letters that they are sick of Baltimore. Mr. Hickey, Mr. Pise and myself planted a flag on the highest tree on Carrick's Knob yesterday. Et tu super moniem lucebis. Don't be troubled about the Prefectship. I've had a time already and can again a fortiori no one will refuse you . .

Rev. Mr. Dubois to Mr. Egan.

Mount St. Mary's Aug. 9th, 1823.

My dearest child: . . You recollect that from the advice of our good friend Mr. Tiers, I determined to have a three story gallery put in the back of my new Seminary, facing the Mountain. Those three galleries must be supported by pil­lars or columns. I wish the whole to be done according to rule  at first 1 had fixed upon columns of the Tuscan order, as the plainest and neatest, but when I began to consider the diameter of those columns, I found it would not do, at least I thought so be so good as to request our good friend Mr. Williamson to inquire of the gentleman, architect, of whom he was speaking to me when he was here last what kind of columns or pillars ought to be put to my piazza or portico to be regular and neat. Each of the lower storeys is twelve feet high the highest only eleven feet high but on account of the roof, the pillars of this last cannot be higher than nine and a half feet. Now what must be the form, and diameter of those pillars and columns to be both suitable and elegant? There must be of course but a small entablature over these columns since they are to support simple galleries. From the books on architecture it appears that if regular columns are erected, being twelve feet high—the diameter should be twenty inches at the bottom, which would be enormous if of the Tuscan order. I wish not for show, still I want everything to be neat and regular. The expense will be the same or nearly so why not follow the rules if possible? As soon as possible, try to get the answer and write to me immediately for we are ready to put on the roof and they say we cannot do it, without having first the pillars I must get the trees procured, get them bored through with a pump auger to prevent the columns from splitting and nothing can be done until I know the thickness which those columns or pillars ought to have. If some were "sick of Baltimore," others were somewhat "discontented" at the Mountain, as the next letter shows. 'Tis the way of young men.

Rev. "Alphabet" Lynch to Mr. Egan, Care Mr. Shanahan.

Mount St. Mary’s Aug. 17th, 1823.

Dearest friend: I have been daily expecting to see you arriving at our lonely Mountain; it is so lonely indeed, since it has lost you and our common friend Mr. Wiseman. I mean it has lost you. not that you do not intend to return (as some have said) but because things do not appear to go on well since you have left us. We are now about to begin studies: and it is decreed that Mr. Schreiber is to be first Prefect, Mr. Gildea the second and Mr. Ch. Smith Prefect's Devil. We do not as yet know our respective classes, but Mr. Dubois has fixed them, and, as I am informed, in a manner which will be disagreeable to many of the masters; and he says that he is determined that none shall grumble against his appointments. Now, dear friend, I think this a very improper time for our good Superior to use violent and coercive measures; it appears that several would not require many incitements to abandon him: Mr. Jamison is about to start for the Seminary in Baltimore and Mr. Schreiber. as I believe, may probably soon follow him, as since his return from Baltimore he appears quite discontented; perhaps, if you were here you might do considerable good. As for my part, dearest friend, I remember the conversation which we had together not long ago on the terrace, on the future . We spoke then, we may act hereafter ... In haste after night prayers, Your most &c, J. A. G. A. S. C. lynch.

Clearly he deserved his sobriquet. The expression "Prefect's Devil" recalls the expression "Printer's Devil," which like "Chapel," "Sanctum," and other terms of the printers' craft came from the Abbey of Westminster where the hospitable monks welcomed Caxton with his printing press in 1474.

Mount St. Mary's. Arp. 21st, 1823.

My dearest child: I hope you and Mr. Wiseman will come with Mr. Smith. You will prepare him for the inconvenience of our lodging for him. I expect you shall have to lodge him in your room. If I can do better I will. You can take either the public stage in Baltimore or if you have people enough to hire a private hack so that it will not cost more, you may do it. If Mr. Curran (a seminarian) is with you and can send what collection he has made, so much the better.

Michael Egan was then probably at home in Philadelphia. He, Wiseman and others had been studying Philosophy and Theology at St. Mary's Baltimore. The following letter gives an inside view of things scholastic and governmental among the Seminarians.

Mr. Purcell to Mr. Egan.

Mount St. Mary’s Aug. 23rd, 1823.

Rev. and dearest friend: Our endeared Father has given me an opportunity of writing another scroll to you. In his letter of the 20th he forgot to answer your request about permission to consult the doctors on your weak state of health. He wishes me to tell you that he has not the least objection, provided the directions you receive be of such a nature as to serve as a general prescription, and to supersede the necessity of afterwards applying for medical advice on the same complaint. He therefore requests you in his turn to be very particular in enquiring about the regimen and exercise necessary for a person in your situation, that you may be enabled to act accordingly on your return to the Mountain.

He was in Cathedra Penitentiae when he told me all this, it was before meditation had begun; the church was almost dark: and he bid me tell you that at such a solemn and sacred moment he and I were thinking of you!

Rev. Mr. Brute's trip to Be. has given us time to think of resuming the study of divinity. Tell my good and amiable friend Kev. &c. Wiseman, that Mr. Schreiber, Mr. O'Keilly, and Mr. John Gildea are Prefects and that they have turned me out of the little room.

The letter you sent about Poplars, Pillars, Joiners, Bishops, Priests, and Sub deacons was read, pleno concilio, on the terrace the other morning. I had not the satisfaction of being present at the time, having gone to town after three half runaways, but our dear Father favored me with a particular reading of it. You will have one or two French classes this j-ear. Goodbye, my dearest Egan, and believe me to be, in every condition of life, your warm and steady friend. John Pueceli,.

Michael Egan was, it appears, of a delicate constitution, and the event showed it. The period allowed by the Archbishop for teaching theology at the Mountain had expired and Brute had gone to Baltimore presumably to consult about an extension.

Another of Mr. Basil Elder's anecdotes comes apropos here: "President Dubois reserved to himself the exclusive right to punish with corporal infliction, except in his absence, in which case it devolved on the first Prefect. In my experience I can recall only half a dozen instances of "flogging," as we termed it. One of them I shall never forget, as I happened to witness and hear it through a half-closed window of the portico. Pablo Farres, a generous-spirited but proud Spaniard, was reprimanded harshly in his Latin class and his sharp reply angered his teacher so that he was sent to the prefect Jamison, who ordered him to apologize.

"'No, Mr. Jamison. I cannot, he should apologize, he insulted me! "Then I will have to flog you!" ' I will not be flogged! " The Prefect sent out and had several rods brought in." 'Now, Pablo, either apologize or take off your coat I "' No, Sir, I owe no apology, I am Hidalgo and cannot be flogged "buttoning up his coat to the chin.

He resisted until one blow was struck, then folding his arms and hanging his head, he exclaimed, 'I am disgraced!'

"Pablo remained several years at the College, returned to Venezuela and finally located in Havana, where, some years after I called to see him. And now I come to the point I purposed to illustrate by the foregoing gossip.

"Pablo was not in the office and a negro was sent to show me to his room (he was unmarried). He was out, so I discharged the boy and took a seat as I saw by the surroundings that this was Pablo's cuarto! On one side of the room hung a handsomely framed large engraving of Mt. St. Mary's College (from a drawing by the accomplished Father Thos. R. Butler): on the opposite side one of St. Joseph's. In a few moments Pablo entered. I cannot convey an idea of the surprise and delight he evinced on seeing me. He rushed into my arms and hugged me ! After some chat I referred to the two pictures and asked how he felt towards the old Mountain. He declared there was no spot on earth he loved more dearly; and hoped some day to revisit it.

"A somewhat similar greeting I met from Jose Bargas. He was in a banking house at Vera Cruz and had no knowledge of my arrival until I was shown into a room where he was engaged in counting out coin. He sprang from his seat, clasped me in his arms, exclaiming: 'Don Basilio, amigo mio! He had innumerable inquiries to make about his ' dear old Mountain' and Mountain companions. In fact I never met a Mountaineer who did not love his Alma Mater."

We have reason to rejoice in Mr. Elder's love for the old College, for his reminiscences have been of incalculable assistance to us, giving that tone of local coloring and familiar knowledge to our pages which tend to leaven the weariness of dull statistics and detail of dates.

Chapter 11 | Chapter Index

Historical Society Note: In honor of the 200th anniversary of the founding of the Grotto of Lourdes we'll be posting at least 2 new chapter every week.

Special thanks to John Miller for his efforts in scanning the book's contents and converting it into the web page you are now viewing.