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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 10 | Chapter Index

Chapter 11: 1824

Mr. McGerry studying at the Baltimore house, to Mr. Egan at the Mountain :

St. Mary’s College. Baltimore, Jan. 23rd, 1824.

Dearest Egan: Your long expected favor has arrived at last wd relieved my mind . . . You say it has been whispered about that they wished to give Mr. Brute the Doctor's cap. You are right, it was not only whispered about but said loudly and above board; he can have it when he pleases ; he has been named and appointed in Rome among those upon whom the Archbishop has power to confer the degree of D. D. without examination and they enjoy all the privileges granted to any doctor of whatever university you please. Yes, on next Sunday at the Cathedral, the Revds. Deluol, Damphoux and Whitefield will receive the cap. Mr. Eccleston is to preach. The Doctors will dress for the future like the bishop. But really I think Mr. Brute1 has done well not to accept for every one knows he has the knowledge of a Doctor . . . Jan. 25. This is the third trial to finish this letter, all have gone to the Cathedral and left me alone with my wild companions, (he was Prefect) with whom I have laughed and talked, etc., for two hours since the high Mass and have now got them quiet at studies. At this very hour the grand ceremony is going on . . Our doctors have arrived from the Cathedral with their caps, rings, belts, rochets, and camail; Mr. Eccleston gave an elegant discourse, in which he showed that the Catholic Church has ever been the nursery and preserver of all science and that whatever literature flourished it was owing to the zeal of the Church, and so he went on from university to university until he arrived at that just established at Baltimore. . .

Thus wrote one future president to another, neither of them dreaming that the professorship was training him for that high office.

In February of this year, Rev. Mr. Brute’, accompanied by the young levite John Baptist Purcell, left the Mountain for New York to sail for France where the latter was to complete his studies at St. Sulpice. This letter from which we select a few paragraphs is full of the spirit of affection to the College and College companions which always actuated the writer till the end of his long life.

New York Feb. 26TH, 1824.

Rev. and Loved Friend: The vessel in which we intend to sail, the Marmion, Capt. Hawkins, came into port only last Tuesday week is a fine looking ship coppered and copper fastened made her last trip to Havre in twenty-five days, returned in thirty-five. The steward is a native of France and the Captain, an American, is very obliging. We shall probably overtake the C———— in which your friend Wm. Seton sailed on Monday last. Another vessel for Havre belonging to the same owners, will follow us in a day or two. There are many foreign vessels every day leaving this port—As to the accommodations of our cabin. I believe they are such as we could wish. As yet we two are the only passengers entered. Each berth perfectly secret from another; and a latticed casement running around the cabin, impervious from the outside and leaving sufficient room to dress and undress. Heaven will, I trust, direct the rest . . . Tell the subjects of this diocese that the Bishop is greatly in need of them, but without solid learning tbey will be of no use in the combat.

Yours now and forever, ————.

Father Brute’ and Mr. Purcell sailed on the 1st of March, 1824, for Havre. The following is their combined and touching letter of farewell. On the reverse of the sheet is a pen and ink drawing of a mound with a cross on it and two hearts, underneath " He loved us," on the other: "Mr. Bulger take care of the roads and of my good old Jack." Jack was the miserable rawboned horse Brute" rode.

Off Sandy Hook, 1st March.

Dearest Egan: Sailing down with a fair but light wind, all's well so far. Just parted from Mr. Shanahan, Mr. O'Gorman. Mr. Rooney. Heavy and melancholy. Said my beads just now, counted over in mind all the young men; bid them and yon a long goodbye. Was overwhelmed with the kindness and little presents of Sister Betsy and excellent Sister Agnes what sisters with them, with those who love God is true friendship. I have said it I feel it. God bless them all. May Heaven unite us, if not here, at least, and best Hereafter O Eternity, Thou happy resting place! Sister Betsy has the greatest affection for you. She grieves that you and I are separated. But in this as in everything, let us blindly follow the will of God 'tis wisest. Present my warmest affection to my dear Father, Rev. Mr. Hickey. Mr. Wiseman. all the good old friends. Sister Superior. Angela, Scholastica. Felicity, Clare, Mrs. Polly, Mrs. Devoy, Mrs. Steadman. Love my Edward for me. and tell the children of Mary that to be a worthy member of their blessed society is the highest ambition of your true friend until death, for a whole Eternity John Purcell. Remember me at your first Mass. McGerry too. All my friends are present to my mind how often how affectionately will I think of them all. Farewell, my faithful, dearest friend, I will meet you where we said.

I will finish cor meum et anima mea with you dear Egan and each of our friends. Pray! pray! God and our Eternity. MM. Dubois, Hickey, brother John M. Wiseman, M. Duffy. We both will pray for you.

S. brute’.

Thinking upon the tireless labors of the saintly founder of our Mountain College, one might naturally expect that his reward was to be, at least, its continued success and uninterrupted progress. Such, in the designs of Providence designs which we may not question, but, in our poor, helpless blindness bow to with un-doubting trust was not to be his consolation yet.

The new edifice which had cost so much thought and toil, which had grown with each added stone into its builder's heart, so to speak, was nearly finished. Very stately it looked with its back-ground of forest and its cross-crowned cupola upon that fair June morning of Pentecost, Sunday, June 6, 1824. Some of the rooms were already occupied, the music and drawing classes being held there. The day passed as other Sundays had, and night fell, with no portent of the calamity its darkness was bearing to Father Dubois. The boys had retired and were locked in slumber when the midnight sky was lit up by the lurid glare of flames; the alarm was sounded and all the neighborhood flocked to the college enclosure. The new building was on fire! The flames had broken out in the cupola, where some shavings and fine refuse still remained, and Rev. Mr. Marshall was the first to notice them. Rushing up with a bucket of water in each hand, he would have succeeded in extinguishing the fire, had he not stumbled in his haste and spilled the water; ere he could obtain more and return, his efforts were useless.

Mr. Basil L. Elder, who was at the time one of the pupils, has written an account of it for us as follows :

"At midnight a cry of fire aroused the college; yet without disorder the dormitories were speedily vacated and professors and students gathered in the play-grounds. The fire started in the tower, and burned rapidly downwards, until the entire edifice was in ruins. Teachers and boys had as much as they could manage to save the old log college, the infirmary, etc. Blankets spread on the roof were kept wet by a chain of students passing buckets and pails from the plenteous fountain to teachers up there."

As I have said the drawing classes were held in the new building and Mr. Thomas R. Butler, future president, then teacher of drawing, having just obtained a large and valuable mixing stone, was anxious to save it he carried it to the window and just as he let it fall from his hands some one passed beneath. His heart rose to his lips in horror, but fortunately no one was injured, though the boy made a narrow escape.

And Father Dubois ? Verily, "Calamity is man's true touchstone." Through all the excitement of the hour, Father Dubois was going about among the crowd, calm and resigned:

"The Lord gave and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord." So spoke this true Christian. "The building had many defects which I will correct in the new one," were the words of this unconquered man.

To quote Mr. Basil Elder again:

"But how was it with President Dubois, single and alone responsible for all debts and obligations on the smouldering building? Did he succumb? Not he! The very next day he with some of the professors, after surveying the ruins, walked down to the second terrace and calmy pointed out the ground on which the present noble structure stands, saying, "I will place the new building here. I have all along felt that it was a mistake to build on the upper (back) terrace!"

Some declared they feared he was losing his mind; yet true to his word two weeks after he marked off the ground with a pickaxe! Many of the students were from Louisiana and the West Indies and great admirers of Napoleon from that day forth the boys gave Father Dubois the sobriquet of "Little Corporal," for he was low of stature, the "Little President," as he called himself.

The fire was feared at the time to have been the work of an incendiary. Afterwards, long years after, "when the man was on his death bed and many miles away from the College, he admitted, or confessed rather, that he had been that incendiary, instigated by a hope of obtaining a second job in a new building. In this hope unfortunately he was not disappointed." So says Frederick Black, a neighbor of ours who witnessed the fire. The burnt building was 95x50 feet, of stone, three stories high. There were in all 115 students then at the college.

Mr. Dubois was at this time just sixty years old, but with undaunted energy went about erecting a second house. Un-fortunately, Father Brute’ was absent in France at the time, else we would have had a graphic pen picture of the scene perhaps a pen and ink one also, but he afterwards collected all the documents, appeals, letters, etc., put forth at the time and thus endorsed the envelope containing them:

"A most interesting correspondence between Mr. Dubois and the students of Mt. St. Mary's two days after the fire that had very nearly destroyed the seminary, I read it in 1829, most affected at the wonderful ways of Providence to which the students had so well pointed, to encourage their beloved and afflicted father how admirably has so far their confidence been realized!

"How remarkable also that it was precisely the ones destined but two years after to succeed Mr. Dubois, become the Bishop of New York, that were the chairman and secretary of that zealous and generous meeting. S. Brute’."

5th June, 1829.

The address in the letter-form referred to is as follows:

Reverend and Fond President: The duty of condolence which is now feelingly impressed on us by gratitude and sympathy is one of so painful a description that we hardly know in what manner to discharge it. The ruins of your new and splendid edifice stand before us; your generous and fervent anticipations have been heartlessly frustrated by the desperate hand of an incendiary; the fair prospect which arose to your fancy is darkened by a sudden and universal gloom spread around these once bright and happy mountains. Such a scene so dreary so unexpected, has awakened in our breasts all the mingled feelings of horror and compassion. We weep to behold your virtuous exertions towards the dissemination of morality and of education so foully, so basely requited; but the fortitude and courage which you have displayed amidst the wreck of your fondest hopes, have cheered our bosoms in a great degree and supported us in this despondency. Religion alone which commands us never to yield in the hour of adversity to the feelings of nature, could have inspired you with such virtuous resignation; and never more than at such a period, can we discern the truly good man from the dissembler. We have often before in trying circumstances had reason to admire your magnanimity, but never half so much as on that fatal night which saw your noble edifice reduced to a heap of ashes. But heaven cannot desert the good, nor look with disregard on the misfortunes of its friends. When it permitted your virtue to be proved, it seemed to have had some other end in view, which time alone will be able to disclose: and if the zeal of the public go on increasing as it has begun, instead of suffering any loss from this malicious event-your institution will arise with greater luster from its ruins and excite more interest and awaken more affection than if it had been permitted to answer all your former expectations. This thought encourages every feeling heart and surely yours, Reverend Sir, must feel invigorated by it. Your course is a good one, a noble one a popular one. Our fellow citizens know how to participate in the distress of the promoters of their country's interests: and no individual, they must feel convinced, has contributed more successfully to them than yourself. Receive then, respected President, the sincere feelings of us all be assured that we will not be wanting in anything that may be beneficial to our beloved institution. We love her more in her calamity than in her prosperity, we feel still more attached to her in her ruins, than in the proudest hours of her magnificence; and present you this artless effusion of our feelings as a pledge of attachment, an assurance of esteem, a mark of the tenderest sympathy and the most unaffected condolence. We are, reverend, Sir.

Your most affectionate children, John F. McGerry, Chairman. Michael Deb. Egan, Secretary. June 8th, 1824. And signed by all your pupils.

The reply of Father Dubois to the students' letter:

June 8th, 1824.

My beloved friends: I receive daily so many proofs of your affectionate and virtuous dispositions that the expression of your sympathy in this heavy trial of mine, has not surprised me. It could add nothing to my affection and regard for you, but I must confess it has given a new vigor to my mind. I would be ashamed to betray my weakness and discouragement, when yourselves, whose tender years it is my duty to guide, shew me such an example not only of resignation to the divine will, but of presence of mind in seeking a remedy for the present calamity, instead of giving way to despondency, or idle lamentations. You rely on the public sympathy in this trying occasion : I have the same confidence in it. But I must candidly acknowledge that worn out by so many years of laborious exertions, I would have recoiled at those required in this circumstance, if you had not volunteered your services with so much zeal. May the consciousness of having so effectually contributed to the consolidation of an establishment, intended for the public good, one day be the comfort of your declining years; may it meet hereafter from the Author of all good, with that reward which alone can satisfy virtuous hearts. Had you expressed your sentiments to me as usual, in the confidence of verbal communications, I would have answered you in the same manner; but since through delicacy for my present feelings, you chose to do it by writing, I adopt the same mode of communication in my answer, with the more pleasure, as your letter will remain with me as a precious monument of the goodness of your hearts, and mine may be preserved by you as a testimony of the deep sense I entertain of your worth. Most affectionately I remain your devoted friend and common father,

J. Dubois.

The noble Frenchman thanked his neighbors "and particularly the inhabitants of Emmitsburg for their assistance in controlling the conflagration," and issued the following:

"An address of the President of Mt. St. Mary's to the generosity and charity of his fellow-citizens.

"Dear Friends: Having for many years conducted an establishment whose object is the instruction and Christian education of future members of society, it became necessary for me to have other buildings than the ones my poverty raised some years ago. With hard struggling I succeeded in raising a stone building scarcely sufficient for the establishment. But the ravages of fire on the night of the 6th instant in the course of a few hours have blasted all my exertions. This inspired your petitioner with confidence, in applying to you for relief in my distress. I hope you will not refuse assisting me in this undertaking of public education and in helping me out of that immense debt with which this loss has overwhelmed me."

The simplicity and trust shown in this address is its greatest charm; its gentle pathos is its strength. Father Dubois set out at once with his fellow-priests and "Masters" on a collection tour, very much as his and their successors did fifty-seven years later, after a similar calamity.

The following letter shows some steps that were taken:

Mr. McGerry to Mr. Egan:

St. Mary’s College, Baltimore, June 19th, 1824.

Beloved Egan; Or rather, Brother Beggar; Rev. Mr. Elder rec'd your letter this morning; I got some of the papers from him; he is not well the cause of his not answering your letter, but he has requested me to do it. Mr. Pise arrived here Wednesday evening. We spent the festival at the Seminary in all pomp and solemnity. I was master of ceremonies at the Grand Mass and was to have been Sub-D. at the Cathal. but Mr. Whitfield seemed rather more inclined to have a simple Mass. We had a grand procession at the Semy. on Corpus Christi. But of these affairs another time. The report that the man is taken is false, it is also false that any person was seen carrying fire towards the church the suspicions still rest on the same whom they first suspected and he has been told to his face in town by many that he was the very man who set fire to the building. 1 am very thankful to you for your advice. Before I saw your letter we had exactly hit upon your plan. Good Mr. Lawrence and Luke Tiernan have come forward to assist us; they have recommended our cause in the papers and they will accompany us to all those with whom they are acquainted and in a word forward our cause all they can. We also had a letter to the Mayor, Mr. Johnson. He will give us every assistance in his power. I trust we shall have some success, in fact every thing bids fair for it. We will commence on Monday. We have our books ready for action. Young Chas. Harper has started this morning to beg for us. His grandfather and father were for starting a subscription as soon as they heard of the fire. Everybody seems to take great interest in our cause. The gentlemen here say that it would be very wrong for you to go to the Sulpicians. They have a suit now pending for having sent money out of the British dominions. The British wish if possible to confiscate all their property and it is thought that if you were known to go there to collect this would give strong grounds for the British to act upon. The cause is now carried to the parliament in England. They say here that this was the cause of Mr. Wheeler's not going to the Semy. at Montreal. But I expect Mr. Dubois will write to you on this subject, as I am told the gentlemen have written to him.

Every thing was going on satisfactorily when I left the Mount. The foundation was partly dug—it is in the yard below the terrace, 100 ft. in length and the same breadth as the one now in ruins. There was great animation among the workmen. But, my friend, I have not time to say more. I must start to the Points to be Subdeacon there. Pray for your sincere friend.

J. F. McGerry.

We find a leaflet in Mr. McGerry's handwriting a sort of journal showing manner of travel that day between the College and Baltimore:

"June 15, 1824. Left the Mount with Mr. Pise, A. Byrne, and H. Dickehut (they were all seminarians) arrived at Taneytown eleven miles at 6 ˝, remained all night after supper went to see Rev. Mr. Zocchi [a native of Rome, Italy, and forty years pastor at Taneytown].

"16th. $2.37 ˝ expenses of 5. Left Taneytown at 4 o'c. arrived at 7 ˝ in Westminster twenty-three miles. Breakfasted, $1.25 expenses of 5. At 8 ˝ o'c. started, at 12 m. arrived at Reisterstown forty-three miles, stopped a moment to deliver some letters then started and arrived at Mr. McCreary's, where the driver fed his horses, we were not in humor for dinner, so I called for some lemonade and crackers. We were not detained long. Started at 3 1/2 o'c. Poor driver was very sick all day. Arrived in Baltimore fifty-two miles from the College at 41/2 o'c. Mr. Tessier was the first whom I met. He received us kindly I also obtained of him for Byrne to lodge in the Seminary. Mr. Pise and myself had each a room. Paid the driver $15.00 for four seats. As soon as I could, I hastened from room to room to see all the Rev. gentlemen. Was received very kindly. Misses Ann Tiernan and Eliza Landry came to see me and I talked with them during supper.

"June 17th. Corpus Christi. Started at 5 ˝ to serve Mass at the Infirmary. Rev. Mr. Deluol said the Mass. Before Mass saw the Sisters. Returned at 7 o'c., at 7 ˝ Mass of Community. Went to communion, and Pise also. At 8 1/2 breakfast, 9 grand high Mass; B. S. exposed. Mr. Tessier Celebrant, Mr. Chanche Deacon, Mr. Randzaw Sub-Deacon, McGerry Master of Ceremonies. The Mass was truly grand. At the conclusion, Eccleston and myself started to be Deacon and Sub-deaoon at the Cathedral. But Mr. Whitfield did not want the trouble of it, or some other reason best known to himself, so we took leave of him and returned to Seminary, where I spent the day very happily. At 12 3/4 o'c. Benediction of the B. Sacrament; 2 ˝ beads; recreation until 5 o'c. Vespers and a grand procession of the B. S., at which the clergy of the town assisted. Rev. Mr. Tessier carried the B. S. Rev. Mr. Smith Deacon, and J. McGerry Sub-deacon attending the Rev. Mr. Tessier walked under the dais each side of the B. S. The procession was truly grand and the music exquisite. So ended Corpus Christi Day." C. C. Pise to Mr. Egan in Phila.

Baltimore. June 20th, 1824.

My dear friend: We arrived here last Wednesday on our business for the poor Mountain, and have things arranged in a fair way to secure us success. Not that we imagine it possible now to make as large a collection as we at first anticipated; for although the misfortune has awakened no inconsiderable degree of interest in the public mind, still the times are hard, business almost stagnant, and applications of a similar nature so frequent that we cannot hope to carry away any very large contribution. What can be elicited we, I believe, will succeed in getting. Luke Tiernan and P. Lawenson have attached themselves very warmly to our cause, and will be of infinite service to us. Lawenson has thrown a piece into the papers which is a mere compendium of the article which Wm.. Walsh had the goodness to insert in his. Charles Harper has written a letter of condolence to poor Mr. Dubois and is now at the Manor soliciting the charity of his rich and virtuous connections. All have promised something, I believe. I called on Charles a day or two ago and found him a grateful child of the Mountain.

The Mayor of this city received us with incredible politeness and has promised to do anything in his power for us all; the friends of Mr Dubois are feeling alive to his misfortunes, and those who before had acted coolly in his regard, seemed to have forgotten every past misunderstanding to think only how to show their benevolence most effectually on the present distressing occasion ... I hope you have an auspicious prospect before you. I am not emulous to out do you, for if I get $2000, I sincerely hope that you will double that sum. Jamison in whose room I am now writing is well and wishes to be remembered. Bedford is here also and sends you his best love . . .

It seems that Egan, as already intimated, was to go to collect in Canada.

Mr. Lynch to Mr. Egan care Mr. C. Tiers, No. 74 Sansom St., Phila.

Mt. St. Mount, June 21st, 1824.

Dear Egan: . . . The little flock you intrusted to my care, are doing well. Many went to communion yesterday, among them John and C. Tiers. Last night one of the members presented to us a certificate of admission into the congregation of the "Sacred Heart." It was given by Mr. Hickey, that it might be read publicly and that those who thought proper to join it might write to Georgetown for admission. Although I approved very much of it, 1 merely read the conditions and indulgences, telling them that I would neither advise to enter it or not to enter; and, that their enrolment might not be considered as an act of our society, no one was permitted to sign his name whilst in the meeting.

Mr. Dubois and Mr. Wiseman received letters from good Purcell. When he wrote he was in the cock-loft of the Seminary of St. Sulpice there to remain three or four years as solitary as an owl. [Perhaps this was the " hermit" life referred to in Purcell's letter already quoted.] Lord have mercy on him! He maintains in his letters to Mr. Wiseman that we at the Mount have as many advantages in piety and learning as they have in the far famed Seminary of Saint Sulpice. He also describes a fire which took place in France; the poor fellow would have wept if he knew how perfect a picture it was of ours. He also wrote to you. I expect that Rev. Mr. Dubois has sent it on to you, no doubt, full of news. Mr. Moranville is very sick near Paris. Bishop Oheverus has begun his Episcopal functions. Mr. Wheeler is at Issy.

Things are going on very well here. Mr. Shorb returned from Conewago yesterday with $1000. Mr. DeBarth subscribed $50; Mr. Leken $50; Mr. McSherry $50; etc. Messrs. Pise and McGerry have gone to Baltimore. We know nothing as yet of their success. Mr. Taney brought home $600, Mr. McDevitt $600, so that the subscriptions already made are calculated to amount to the value of $4000, the timber included. This is something. This added to your $5000 will suffice to build the Seminary and the $3000 of Mr. Hickey and Mr. McGerry and Pise will decorate it in grand style. I hope I am not counting chickens be-fore they are hatched. Mr. Hickey starts today for Washington.

The mason came a few days ago. and has undertaken the work for $500; he intends to begin the 20th of next month and pledges himself to have up the walls in two months from the day he begins. He has twenty-two masons to assist him. Our good Sister Angelina Felicite’ came to me last evening to request me to remember your sister whose anniversary falls on this day. I assure you I en-deayored to comply with her request; Sister frequently speaks of you and appears very anxious about your health. She wishes me just this moment to tell you that she united with you in prayer this morning for your sister who, I hope, stands in need of none of our prayers. You have already promised to remember me in your first Mass and I think you would do wrong to forget so good a friend as S. A. F. You will give her the greatest pleasure if you authorize me in your answer to tell her that you will not forget her. The present Infirmarian has the best intentions, no doubt, but as she is extremely scrupulous and at the same time extremely candid in revealing her scruples, and besides unacquainted with medicine, she might trouble very much, if not poison the future Bishop of Pittsburgh, so that the future Bishop of Philadelphia, yourself, would have no one to regulate the diocese on the other side of the Alleghenies. That the Church may not sustain so great a loss I intend to shift my quarters as soon as possible. As I pray for you every day I hope that you will pray for the society under my care and their unworthy vice-guardian and your

Most affectionate Brother in Jesus and Mary, James A. M. A. S. C. lynch.

Remember me to Ed. Tiers. My love to our venerable Bishop. I forgot to tell you that

yesterday we received a report which comes very straight that Mr. X———— and his son, the persons suspected, went to the house of a certain Mr. Eyler in the neighborhood and got a chunk of fire and straw the night of our mis­fortune, saying that they wished to stay in the mountain that night and only wanted to have some light. We intend to make particular inquiry from Mr. Eyler. If this report be true, there will be little doubt of the incendiary. Should we discover him I will be the first to tell you of it. Curran is meditating his flight. Mr. Smyth also . . .

[Another theory of the origin of the fire was, that the day having been very hot, some rags used to wipe up paint may have spontaneously ignited.]

Mr. Dubois to Mr. Egan :

Mt St. Mary’s. July 1st 1824.

My beloved child: Give many thanks to our kind friends Mrs. Ashley, Snyder, Tiers, Walsh and Fry . Send us the United States Gazette, where our Establishment is praised, if you did not mistake the name for the Rational Gazette which I got.

The wicked incendiary is not known they suspect the same that you heard of when you were here. No attempt was made to burn the church this report originated, I suppose, in the circumstance of the dog being found in the church the night when the fire broke out but you know it proved nothing. God bless good Mr. Kitchen.

Tell Mr. Ashley that as soon as I read to Sr. Rose the part of your letter which relates the kind interest he took in this business she went immediately to the church to pray for him and implore on him the blessing of Heaven.

You are very right to tell Mr. Walsh that he would hurt my feelings if he would stop any where but here. He, Mrs. Walsh and the whole family will be received with open arms. [Accommodations at Emmitsburg were not "very desirable" then, and visitors stayed at the College and at the Convent.]

I will write today to Mr. Brute; I was so much hurt and crowded before that I could not write.

I wrote to Mr. Tessier ... he advises me first to write to the Superior, to ask his leave to call on him, on account of the British . . .

Be assured that two of my Masses every week during your absence shall be offered for you.

I directed Mr. Collins to write Mr. Tiers to procure the engine. I hope he can get it on credit until money is raised from the subscription about six months if I collect it sooner I will pay it sooner. I wish it to be sent as soon as possible to Baltimore that I may muster my good folks, to be ready on my emergency.

God bless you, my ever dear child, and pray for him who never loses sight of

you and is truly in heart your devoted father, J. Dubois.

. . $600 has already been collected (in Baltimore). Mr. Hickey has already collected $200 on the Manor (Carroll) and in two hours he got $100 in Frederick.

[A house was built for the engine of which Father Dubois speaks, and stood till 1890, when it was razed. The engine, Mr. Basil Elder told us, was never used].

As we have seen, several of the teachers and students undertook begging tours during the vacation. Mr. Hughes was one of these. During the month of July he visited the region around Chambersburg and brought Mr. Dubois about four hundred dollars.

Says Mr. Hassard: "He used to tell how, in the course of this begging tour, he entered a tavern in a certain village and asked contributions from a number of persons assembled there. One of them thereupon began to declaim against Popery and Mr. Hughes straightway plunged into controversy with him. The discussion waxed warm ; the company became interested and after our seminarian had silenced his adversary, nearly every one present made a liberal gift to the College. The people about Emmitsburg, stimulated by pity for Mr. Dubois in his misfortunes, were especially generous.

The first sentence in the following letter reveals a charming condition of mutual love and confidence at the College.

Father Dubois to Mr. Egan:

Mount St. Mary’s July 1st, 1824.

My ever dear child: Inclosed I send you a letter come from our Purcell. I opened it at the solicitation of all here. I knew there was nothing but which interested all, and my Egan as well as my Purcell has no secret from me.

... 1) Collect all you can in Philadelphia and muster all the friends you can to help you Mr. James Smith will join you. 2) If the Bishop agree, be ordained. 3) Procure or have procured all the letters of recommendation you can, 1st from the Bishop to the Bishops in Canada, to the Sulpicians. 2nd from the British minister to the Governor of Canada and from respectable characters in Philadelphia to the most respectable characters in Canada. 4th As soon as you are done in Philadelphia start for Canada. Stop no where until you reach. Quebec or Montreal. Perhaps if you could get friends to divide the wards among themselves it would be more expeditious.

Farewell, my beloved friend, pray for me on the way, for I pray more for yon even than for my collection.

Ever yours, J. Dubois.

To M. D. B. Egan.

Mr. Pise to Mr. Egan in Phila.:

Baltimore July 23rd, 1824

Dear and reverend friend : . . . We have collected about $1400 and I hope soon to repose once more under the sacred fig tree of our Mountain . .

Mr. Pise composed these distichs apropos of the fire:

In S. Mariae ad Monies Novi Seminarii Incendium Elegia.

A Carolo Constantino Pise,

ejusdem Seminarii alumno.


Ecce jacent lampades conspersi pulvere nigro,

Ecce ubi limen erat, magna ruina subest.

Ignibus heu ! stratae flagrantibus ecce colnmnae!

Porticus baud fultus sternitur ipse simul '

L'ndique qui superest fcedatur murus iniquo

Fumo perque aulas nil nisi fumus adest.

Haeccine pulchra domus, rurisque superbia quondam!

Heu mihi ! quae tanti causa maligna fuit

Excidii? Quis tecta quis et fastigia pulchra

Quae supra silvas eminuere manu

Sacrilega stravit ? Quis tantas tamque beatas

Spes animi auderet perdere ? Triste maluru!

Proh pietas hominumque fides ! quis credere possit?

Invida subvertit tecta superba rearms!

Fax hominis furiosa mail conjecta per aulas

Involvit fiamma tecta vorace domus.

Sacra fuit nox ilia nimis fatalis: at eheu!

Crimine correctum nil cohibere valet

Qua sceleratus homo densis circumdatus umbris

Ausus munitus tecta subire face.

Intulit in muros ignem; cito flamma coruscat,

Serpit paulatira corripit atque trabes.

Continue fugit latro seque abdidit umbris :

Ast densas tenebras perspicit Omnipotens !

Interea crepitante ora sonitu furit ignis

Perque domurn totam gpargitur ignis edax.

Exoritur clamor, campana dat horrida signa,

Excutitur somnus, ruittirque ad limina frustra:

Kil valet heu flammas sistere terrificas,

Celsa rmmt longanjque trahnnt secum ecce ruinam

Cnlmina, dum minitans sidera flamma petit.

Yolvuntur cineres commixti turbine fumi

Scintillaeqne cadunt proxima tecta super.

Nulla susurrabat per lucus aura quietos;

Emicuit cornu luna serena polo.

Interea domus horrifico sonitu ruit atque

Insidet in muris vasta ruina nigris.

Jam coepit noctis tenebras aurora fugare

Luce nova, atque nova spargere luce polum:

Erubuit coelum; incubuit tamen aedibus horror,

Atque super tristes sol oritur cineres.

Mr. Purcell, future president and late Archbishop of Cincinnati, was still in Paris. He writes to Mr. Egan :

Issy, Sept. 19, 1824.

Rev. and Esteemed friend: I write to the little Society which, I am rejoiced to hear, continues fervent and faithful to our B. Mother. Excuse me to it for writing so unworthily of Mary. If I had money, I should feel but too happy in sending each of the members some little present agreeable to his piety.

The King, Louis, died the 15th, with sentiments of deep contrition. I yesterday went to the Tuilleries, after having served a Mass at the tomb of St. Vincent. The King was laid out in state, covered with cloth of gold and still having the crown upon his head. Four Heralds-at-arms, in ancient costume, stood at each corner of the funeral bed. A number of ecclesiastics in surplice were watching around the corpse, and the palace and its entrances were crowded with soldiers and liveried servants. On the 20th the remains will be transferred to St. Denis to remain there unburied for forty days. We are to attend the procession. Yesterday it created a multitude of reflections on the trifles that engage us here below, to see one King laid in state and another entering the court attended by a large escort of cavalry followed by six carriages in mourning and saluted by ten thousand voices with " Vive le Roi." ... I have just returned from Notre Dame where a grand funeral service was performed for the repose of the late King. The church was hung in black, surmounted with the arms of France ..." Sic transit gloria mundi."

Rev. Mr. Brute starts tomorrow for Rouen it is impossible to get an opportunity of talking with him, he has such a quantity of things to look after every moment. About my situation here next year, I know nothing. "Nous verrons." Providence directs all things and there is no happiness on earth but in patience and a cheerful resignation to all its holy appointments. Do please tell me the history of your ordination. Tell me that the Mountain is your resting place till death and recommend me to God in your prayers . . .

Mr. Dubois to Mr. Egan who was in Philadelphia at the time:

Mt. St. Mary’s, Oct. 24th, 1824.

My beloved child: You may be surprised at not hearing from me, because you have no idea of the life I have led since you left us, to which however may be added the circumstances of the mail going from here only once a week, owing to a speculation of the undertakers of the public stage, who took the charge of the mail, and finding themselves so little encouraged by us for their bad management, gave it up at last for the great part of the year and left our Post management un­provided for ... I wish to go to Philadelphia after the return of Mr. Brute1 which will probably be at the latter part of this month or beginning of next. But if he can stop at Philadelphia to give a retreat to the Sisters, I may not go

. . . When you return, come by Lancaster and not by Baltimore to Emmitsburg, for as there is now no stage on this latter route this way of traveling is more expensive. I do not like that steamer from Phila. to Baltimore, either

... I send you a bill of articles to get. The first two articles are for the Seminary and you will pay for them, the remainder is for St. Joseph's and you will tell Sr. Mary Xavier to pay for them if she has no money you will advance it ...

Philadelphia was in a woeful state in those days. Father Brute was told that out of seventeen thousand Catholics not three thousand attended church "on account of pews" (he thinks) "they can't come. . . . This church aristocracy of pews puts out too many."

The following is one of Mr. Basil Elder's anecdotes and will serve as a cooler after the heated atmosphere of the one preceding :

" Historians, we believe, often introduce comparatively trivial incidents in their biographies, relating to the youth of the characters of whom they write. I well remember a snowy day on which several boys who had a spite against one of the most studious and exemplary boys, Frank X. Gartland, afterwards Bishop of Savannah. They charged Frank with having informed on them and brought on them a severe punishment: dragged him out, rolled him over and over in the snow, rammed snow down his back and beast, then left him! Of course no prefect was witness and Gartland never made complaint or informed. He was a high-toned, honorable boy and I always felt that he was innocent of the charge of which his companions complained."

Chapter 12 | Chapter Index

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