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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 14| Chapter Index

Chapter 15: 1827-1828

All that relates to the early part of this year is contained in a few scattered letters in one of which dated Feb. 14, 1827, Bishop Dubois says to his successor: "I worked like a galley-slave for nineteen years for the public good and left for the purpose all the money I gathered." Another is from the Chaplain of the ex-Empress of Mexico inquiring as to the welfare of the little Salvador Iturbide. A third which we quote is from the Rev. Superior of the Sisterhood to the President:

Dear Brother: Although I do not consider as necessary any invitation for the gentlemen of the Mountain to come to St. Joseph's feast, yet ad cautelam vel abundantiam juris, I write to you these few words to let you know that we intend to begin High Mass to morrow at 7 o' c. I don't know who from amongst you can be spared, but one thing I can say, the more the better. I suppose we shall have, at any rate (independently of the Revd. gentleman or gentlemen) a master of ceremony, a thuriferarius and two acolytes. I leave the whole to be arranged according to your prudence. Please to dispatch the Sisters early, as well as the rest. Charles White, who is with you, will come down. Please also to give Sister Sally this evening the enclosed. There is also a letter for McGerry, with all his titles, which are more than my weak mind can comprehend. Good night and pray for your affect, brother. St. Joseph's Vale, Sunday evening., March 18, '27.

L. Deluol, S. S.

It used to be said, even seventy years after this, that on St. Joseph's Feast at the Convent " the sanctuary belonged to the College." Mr. Schreiber, a theologian finishing in Baltimore, writes to the new President, Rev. M. Egan.

St. Mary's Seminary, Balt., April, 5, 1827.

Dear friend: It was indeed very gratifying to hear that every thing went on so well at the Mountain. Oar Lord will no doubt protect a place which ha» already done so much good, and which bids fair to do a great deal more. Mr. White, since his return has several times spoken of the Mountain in the highest terms "there," (says he) "a stranger is received with the greatest kindness and is immediately placed at his ease no questions are asked, 'whether he intends to remain? do you want abed? Have you a letter of recommendation ?' &c. &c., which Mr. Mullon could enumerate but every body is glad to see you and desirous of doing a service and this politeness is the dictate of Charity. In speaking of the government of the house, he never failed to speak in terms of praise.

I cannot but admire the prudent step you have taken in not deciding with precipitation whether you will unite Mt. St. Mary's with any other Society in Europe or whether you will form a new association more adapted to the religious and literary interests of this country . . . You also know well that a union with any foreign society is often attended with many inconveniences . . . An affiliation with any society in this country may also be attended with many disadvantages which we do not foresee and therefore I think the greatest precaution and prudence necessary. Do not imagine, dear Sir. that I have the least idea or the slightest pretension to giving you any advice. I am conscious how inadequate I am to act the councillor: but as far as I can judge from your letter these are your own sentiments as well as mine. In regard to my uniting my feeble endeavors with you &c. I think you know what are my wishes and I flatter myself that our hearts are in unison . . . [The reader must notice the tone of respectful fellowship between this seminarian and the president.]

The relations between the Jesuits at Frederick and the clergy of the Mountain were always of the friendliest kind. Here is a letter indicating as much. Rev. John McElroy, S. J., to Rev. M. McGerry.

Frederick, May 21st, 1827.

Rev. Dr. Sir: I returned from Georgetown on Friday last. All your acquaintances are well . . I rec'd your good President's letter and rejoice that Revd. Mr. Purcell and Revd. Mr. Eccleston (two future Archbishops) are now on their way. They will I trust be a great acquisition to religion in this country . . . You have been much favored and honor’d by the long visit of the Archbishop. Had I not previously arranged matters for my visit to Georgetown I think I should have gone up to see his Grace. I am glad to hear that he profited so much by his visit . . You must congratulate for me, your newly ordained Sub-deacons, Messrs. Carrell and Jamison. Oh ! this brings to my mind my solemn ceremony of Ascension, my first communicants, for which I had invited your Reverence, but I fear I shall not be so highly honored. But, two Subdeacons and a Deacon at the Mount and none for Frederick, poor Frederick and its poor Pastor, to celebrate without ministers! And at the same church where Rev. J. F. McGerry commenced his missionary labors, where the Very Rev. Prest. of Mt. St. Mary's commenced his Apostolic preaching, where the Rev. Mr. Lynch commenced the sacred function of presiding as Judge and Physician in the tribunal and oh! that I could add to the list where Rev. Mr. G. A. Carrell officiated ,for the first time as Subdeacon for Kev. Mr. Jamison's duties as Prefect prevent altogether the hope. It seems to me I see the worthy vice P. of Mt. St. Mary's smile. "This is Jesuitical indeed I know Father Mac of old, he wants a Sub-deacon for his solemnity and this is the cunning manner he goes about it. Well we shall see what think you of it, Kev. Mr. Egan ? we shall make him pay up to the last farthing! "The Prest. responds "Aye" "The ayes have it,'' exclaims the Vice-P.

P. S. You will perceive the inclosed was written yesterday in hopes John Ignatius (whom he expected to carry his letter) would return home today. He goes only tomorrow of course too late for me to expect any assistance for Ascension. But the same petition may lie on the table for a second or third reading and finally pass with the signature of the President before Pentecost. This is the regular mode you know of transacting business on Capitol Hill. Tuesday night, May 22, 1827.

Bishop Dubois, writing to Rev. Mr. Egan, gives a graphic picture of things in the commercial metropolis eighty years agone:

New York, May 31st 1827.

My dear Child; Neither you nor my other friends at Mt. St. Mary's have an idea of my situation here. Otherwise you would neither wonder nor grieve at my silence. Bishop, Parish-priest. Curate, all at once, President of the different boards of trustees of every church here, I have scarcely time to take my meals and very little rest at night. Obliged to visit the sick, sometimes four or five a day to bury the dead, to baptise, to marry, and often times people who have hardly enough to support them a week you may judge how little time I have to rest, with a population of 25.000 people and seven priests only to share in my labors. I will say nothing of the confessions; if I had time and could stand it, I could have customers from Monday morning to Sunday night. As it is, I do not quit the confessional from Saturday morning until Sunday night except for my meals and the divine service; I only leave it at 9 o'c. in the evening Saturday, to begin at 5 o'c. Sunday morning. I am so tired, by visiting the sick over this immense city, that it is out of the question for me to write in the night, as I used to do at Mount St. Mary's. Everything would go well here if I had help. It is an immense field, but all confusion yet for want of hands and heads it is a pack of thread all entangled which will require years to put in order.

Now to the purpose I wish to have Mr. Charles Smith can you send him to me? I do not ask" scisne ilium dignum esse ?" from what I know of him I hardly doubt it still he must receive his first mission from you and our dear Kev. Brethren of Mount St. Mary's. If he has it, send him to me. . . .

Tell good Mr. Brute’ not to be displeased at my not answering yet his last letter. It would take a volume, and I am really crushed down with business. . . . Good Archbishop Cheverus sent me a neat vestment, which is the more valuable to me as it was that of his saintly predecessor, the late Archbishop of Bordeaux. I am as poor as un rat d’‘eglise but, thank God, without debts. Love and respects to our friends Messrs. Brut* and McGerry and to all our young men. I will write to Mr. Burke, but I think he must be tried a little longer before he is initiated into the ministry. I wish to hear from you about him. Talents for the pulpit are not wanting here as much as piety. . . .

Fr. McElroy sends Rev. J. McGerry information which he was doubtless glad to receive:

Frederick, June 1st, 1827.

My dear Sir: You will be not a little surprised to receive an express so soon after your departure. The business is this Miss Victoire (Vivendiere) has concluded to loan your establishment almost five thousand dollars on your securing it by a mortgage on the Seminary property, &c., in legal form. Mr. Brien will keep the balance, and intends to settle the whole business in a few days. I think in such a case you had better come down yourself tomorrow and transact the affair during your stay, as it must be done with as little delay as possible.

Fr. Walsh has been called to a sick person in Va, and will not return before Tuesday next. Again I shall be disappointed in a Solemn Mass Fiat Voluntas Dei. The presence of my former good coadjutor, now V. P. of Mt St. Mary's and Rector of St. Mary's Church, will supply all deficiencies. . . .

In June of this year the President received a letter from Rev. H. Xaupi, S. S., asking to be received into the family of the Mountain. This gentleman was one of the many political exiles who have found a refuge under the Stars and Stripes. He became a priest after coming to this country. He was connected with the Mountain College for many years, and preached at times at St. Joseph's even after his hair was grey and the loss of teeth emphasized the queer English which was all he could acquire of the language of his adopted country. When it was known that Father Xaupi was to preach at the Sisterhood, the girls groaned in spirit, for he had a great deal to say, and said it all. His strength was marvelous. A legend exists at the Mountain of his running, on one occasion, through an inch thick board fence. When asked if it were true had he done it he replied that he did not remember the incident. "But," he added, "if I were running for life I do not doubt that I could do it."

Father Hilary Parsons was procurator now, and writes June 30, 1827, from Baltimore that he has purchased powder for $4.50 and shot for $8.50, and instructs the acting president at what rate he is to retail these to the boys. Tells how a father wished his boy to have no pocket money, "as it is an injury to boys." We find many indications that transfer of money and collecting and paying of bills was very awkward and indirect. The College was slow because its debtors were slower. Merchandise, goods for boys, presents, and even letters (on account of high postage) were sent by persons who happened to be going that way, and the irregularity of the stages, the freight wagons, etc., caused much inconvenience. Postage was collectible on delivery, and a boy writes from another college: "I have two letters at the Post Office, but cannot redeem them," while he asks for a loan.

In his anxiety about the well-being of the College, Father Brute was very watchful of the young officials, and frequently held up to them the example and practice of their beloved predecessor. This is a reply to one of his letters of suggestion:

July 2nd, 1827, Visitation.

Dear Mr. Brute’: I found your note in my Breviary you have certainly humbled me to the dust you to ask my pardon for a fault of which I was the cause ! For if I had put myself to some little inconvenience I could have been present for the Council it was postponed through my fault. I do certainly pardon yon, since you ask it, but I must acknowledge that you are in the right, for our conduct justifies you to say that we despised the Council. But if I have any excuse to give it is that I have such an anxiety for the temporal that I fear I do greatly neglect the spiritual. But when I examine I can safely say that it is not self interest, but perhaps pride, that makes me take so much time to secure the temporal concerns of this house, because so many have predicted its downfall. Yet I see that I have done wrong to neglect spirituals for the advancement of temporals. Thank God ! all has so far succeeded beyond all expectations. I trust more for years to come, and promise more of heart and union for future. Purcell will arrive, then a new order of things. For happy am I to think I can in any way be useful to the Mount if it is only in purchasing beef and pork. . Pray for J.F. McGerry.

[The word "Council " is here met with for the first time in our history. It seems used here to mean the coming together for spiritual exercises.]

Rev. Mr. Egan had gone north in the summer, and writes to his associate in the proprietorship, Rev. J. F. McGerry :

Philadelphia, July 6, 1827.

Dear friend and brother: I arrived here yesterday evening about seven o'clock after a very pleasant passage from Baltimore. ... I start to-morrow at six for New York. It is probable the three Frys will go back to the Mount. The old man is in raptures. It really astonishes me to find what a high reputation our Seminary has particularly here I met gentlemen on the steamboat who told me, not knowing who I was, that the College of Emmitsburg had a very good name in North Carolina. I passed Mrs. Sumter and Tom on the bay. . . . I am extremely anxious to get home. Give my love to my dear Mr. Brute and Mr. Lynch and Mr. Hickey and all our young men. Remember me also to Sister Benedicta and tell her to take care of herself. . . . The watchman calls midnight as I close this. . . .

Father Egan makes no allusion to the troubles in the City of Brotherly Love, but they were so serious at the time that another correspondent thinks the town should be called "Misadelphia." The same to the same.

New York. July 8, 1827, Sunday.

Well here I am in New York in the Bishop's house up stairs, writing to you and thinking of you all at the Mountain. I left Phila. yesterday morning at 6 o'c. and arrived here at half past five in the evening . . .When I arrived at the Bishop's there was no one in, but a French clergyman from New Orleans, Rev. M. de St. Croix. The Bishop was hearing confessions from 8 o'c. in the morning and did not come in till half after nine. I got supper at 10 o'c. after having eaten scarcely anything all day it was a day of abstinence. M. Dubois received me very affectionately but although I have seen him several times since, he has never yet inquired after a single one at the Mount or St. Joseph's. I suppose he prefers waiting till we have time for a long chat. He has a great deal of drudgery to do particularly missionary duties yet I never saw him more active. Mr. Chas. Smith was ordained Deacon this morning and will be made priest in the course of the week . . Next week the Bishop sets out on his pastoral visit and for Canada on his return he will proceed to Ireland first, then make his grand tour of Europe . . .

Letters were received during this month from David M. Whelan, the brother of Rev. Richard, and from John McCloskey (Cardinal), announcing their return to our Seminary as theological students. The President, writing from Baltimore, July 28, says that, "As far as I can see, our prospects for next year are very flattering. I have agreed with Mr. Jos. Gegan to give him the profits of the music school if it meet your approbation. He will stay two years the difficulty is where to lodge him."

The friendly relations between the Jesuits and the Mountain are again inferred from an invitation by Father Rantzau, S. J., dated July 29, 1827, bidding all that could to come down for St. Inigo's feast.

"What joy if we were honored by Father Brute our highly respected friend I How would I not prepare myself to say "something edifying and elevating and rejoicing the heart!" He refers to the "children of St. Sulpice and the sons of St. Ignatius," 'the' daughters of Heaven, the Sisters of Charity."

[This latter order, it seems, had already houses in Maine, Massachusetts, Florida, Illinois, Missouri, and " the Council Bluffs."] He speaks of Father McGerry's having essayed his first missionary work at Frederick and of other priests and seminarians having assisted as preachers or ministers on the great festivals. He then promises to return with them in the evening and spend the interval until the Assumption at the " Holy Mountain." Verily the spirit of simplicity, joy and brotherhood breathes in the letters that disclose the life of those days, when need suggested and compelled close association and mutual help fostered enduring affection. Living was simple, nakedly simple at times, but the fire on the hearth brought people knee to knee, while the universal steam heat of modern times allows them to occupy opposite corners of the room, or worse, different apartments. Have we gained?

Father Brute’ has a list of thirty-four Seminarians who remained at the College for the vacation of this year, extending from June 30 to August 15. This staying during vacation, from what cause so ever it arose, had the effect of keeping the young men together in their hunting, fishing, walking and other pastimes and making them look on the Mountain as the source of all their pleasures, their home in fact. No wonder they loved it.

Mr. Purcell returned to America in August, and returning to America meant for this young priest returning to Mount St. Mary's. On all the wide continent he knew no other home. As we have seen, special arrangement was made between the Archbishop and the College for his being attached officially to the latter.

As to Father Hughes, he evidently continued to write for the press, and was frequently aided by Brute in his discussions with Protestant ministers. The controversy with Breckenridge especially brought renown to the young Mountaineer. Brute, while at the College, was consulted on grave questions also by the Archbishop of Baltimore. Some of their letters may be found in " Hassard's Life;" others in the archives of the Baltimore diocese. The following is quoted merely as suggestive of the fact: Brute to Hughes.

Mt. St. Mary's, Sept. 17, 1827

... I thank yon much for that " Friend of Troth and Justice.' I would recommend to compress a little; what is too long in gazettes, commands not 90 much attention from hasty readers.

Notes and letters illustrating college life and association: Mar. 5, '27. A Balto. farmer complains of his son's shoe bill: $10.90 for six months. April 21, 1827. A boy's father forbids wasting time on the clarionet, but allows him to spend five dollars " in the garden partnership." Says he had sent the bed and bedding, but " the gun, powder-horn, shot-bag and bird-bag are wanted here."

A gentleman writing from the Navy Yard, Washington, June 26, '27, thinks son John had better stay at the Mountain during vacation or come home for a. week at most: "if he comes home he will get among his old companions and forget more or less of what he has learned at Mt. St. Mary's. ... I expect to see him yet a good and respectable clergyman; but the bill for shoes is very high indeed, that is, nine pair in six months and also $2.31 1/4 cts. for mending shoes. If John cannot do with less shoes and mending we shall have to send him to the blacksmith for shoes in the future."

July 2,1827, a correspondent "must acknowledge that, in my opinion, there is no institution in my state which can stand comparison with Mount St. Mary's, even one great College. . . . But whatever is wanting in education and learning in our people is generally more than supplied by their vanity and self-conceit. I never in my life saw, read or heard of a people more universally given to self-complacency."

We find much valuable material in a record of each year from 1827 to 1852 kept by Rev. John McCaffrey:

"1827, Rev. Michael DeBurgo Egan, Pres.; Rev. John F. McGerry, Vice-President; Rev. F. B. Jamison (Subd.), 1st Prefect; Denis A. Deloughery, 2d Prefect, and Mr. Joseph A. Stillinger, 3d Prefect.

''Rev. S. G. Brute, Prof, of Theology and Scripture, Director of the Seminary and Confessor of the Sisters at the Mother House, St. Joseph's; Rev. J. B. Purcell, Prof, of Moral Phil.; Rev. Jas. A. Lynch, Prof, of Math.; Rev. H. Xaupi, Prof, of French and Spanish; Joseph Gegan. teacher of Music."

The following named gentlemen were then in the Seminary:

Messrs. Geo. A. Carrell, A. L. Hitzelberger, John McCaffrey, John McCloskey, John Corry, Thos. Gegan, Jas. M. Butler, James Bradley, Matthew Taylor, Bernard O'Cavanaugh, Thos. R. Butler, Fras. X. Gartland, E. J. Sourin, John Duffy, Wm. A. Burke, H. Dickehut, Chas. Grate, Jno. Kelly, William Quarters, Hilary Parsons. Sister Benedicta was Sister Servant at the College.

A list of the pupils of the College, dated 3rd of Xbre this year, 1827, in the handwriting of Father Brute1, gives one hundred and twenty-eight boys, thirty-five Seminarians and six priests. McCaffrey's list doubtless contains only theologians. St. Mary's College, Baltimore, had thirty-five boarders and seventy day scholars. At this period, and later, the things sold the students seem to have been only toilet articles, hats, gloves, etc., and underclothes.

We find a note of Father Brute's referring to the annuity, but undated. "Then the annuity of $800; now for twenty years $16,000." It must have been, therefore, about the year 1827 that a new arrangement was made and Mrs. Brooke received a much smaller sum, about $50 a year, with house and board. Archbishop Elder tells us, in lieu of the famous annuity.

Chapter Index | Chapter 16

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