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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 20 | Chapter Index

Chapter 21: 1830

Father J. Smith, a New York priest, to Father Jamison.

New York, May 17,1830.

Dear Jamison: ... I wish you, with all my heart, joy, etc., etc., of your charter! The least favor you can now confer upon me for assisting in digging the foundation of your College, and on my friend Mickey Curran, for superintendence and begging, is an honorary degree of D. D. We might even modestly ask a little more, but we will be satisfied with this little. ... I suppose Quarter, by this time, is trapping raccoons. What news from pool 'Gory? Tell Mr. Hickey that 1 shall go all the war to Emmitsburg to hare the comfort of scolding him. Why did he not steal (if he could not get them otherwise) two Sisters for our infant asylum? or must we begin to manufacture them in N. Y.?—hare them we must

Father Purcell to Father Jamison.

Bamo., May 25, 1830.

Rev. Dear Brother: . . . Saturday and Sunday days and nights I was in durance vile, an invalid at the Infirmary. Death looked nigh and no way terrible. I almost wished myself out of the way of the trials to which they, who want to do good, mutt, until the end of time, be exposed.

[That his soul had been touched by the sad spirit of prophecy does it not seem, in the light of nearer days, to read the wistful words which we have italicized!]

''Laugh and be merry girls while you can, For tomorrow's stage takes Joe Gegan."

This jeu d’esprit was perpetrated by one of the pupils of St. Joseph's, sixty years later a sedate maiden-lady of St. Louis, Mo., and was sung through the halls of the Academy, upon the closing day of the scholastic year. Mr. Gegan had resigned his position as Music Teacher in the College, intending to establish himself in Baltimore. Mr. William Andre’ succeeded him. The "tomorrow's stage" made an unexpected detour from the College gates to those of the Academy and horrible dictu — the gay and festive youths who composed its freight, namely, " Joe "Gegan" the only Joe "the two Frys, the two Meliues, Elder, Reilly, alighted and creeping under the windows of the apartment where their girl friends slumbered, aroused them by a burst of song which rivaled, far and away, the matinal chorus of the feathered tribe.

Mr. Hughes to Mr. Purcell.

Philadelphia, June 8th, 1830.

Rev. and dear Purcell: It required a protection from God himself to preserve me, even so well as I have been preserved for the last three years. And although I am not without my apprehensions as to the future good understanding of all parties [he refers to the Hogan Schism] , still I trust that in the zeal and learning and piety of our new bishop, Dr. Kenrick, I shall have an arm to lean upon.

On May 7, Rev. Francis Patrick Kenrick had written to Father Purcell that he had been appointed Coadjutor of Philadelphia and was "consoled by the confidence that Mount St. Mary's particularly would send to his aid many of its worthy pupils adorned with science and the virtues of the priesthood. Another letter of his to" Revd John Purcell, President of Mt. St. Mary's College, nigh Emmitsburg, Md.," is dated June 14, 1830:

Revd. and Dear Sir: Your kind invitation to pass some time in retreat on the Mountain arrived when the day fixed for my consecration was fast approaching. Greatly then as I felt your politeness and hospitality, I could not avail myself of it in the way you proposed, though I flattered myself to be still able to execute my original design of visiting your institution previous to my reaching Philadelphia. This, however, at this time appears highly doubtful, as duty calls me to Pittsburg and then to Huntingdon. Should I be deprived of this gratification I mean to seize an early opportunity of testifying to you in person my respect and attachment and the interest which I take in your Institution. You may easily discover in this no small degree of self-interest, and it would be useless to attempt to conceal from you that I look to Mount St. Mary's for an additional supply of worthy missionaries for the Philadelphia diocese. I find with pleasure that several of the present missionaries have issued forth from that Seminary of Science and Virtue, and I am thereby animated to indulge these delightful anticipations. An idea has even presented itself to my mind which, however delusive and chimerical, I will not withhold from my respected friend: I have thought of proposing to you and to the Archbishop the plan of placing it under my patronage and jurisdiction, so that, with the consent of the Holy See, as well as the parties concerned, it might be made " Mt. St. Mary's Seminary and College for the Diocese of Philadelphia" in perpetuum. You may communicate this reply to my good friend Dr. Brute’.

Should you incline to this fanciful idea, I beg of you and the Dr. to beg earnestly the light and blessing of Heaven that all obstacles to its execution may vanish. It would relieve you from the painful apprehensions of the withdrawal of your Theological faculties, and it would save me the trouble, solicitude and hazard of erecting a Seminary within the Diocese.

I could find many things to say on this subject were I present tete-a-tete, but for the present I shall content myself with having dropped an Irish hint. As to the rest, you will be glad to hear that Dr. Conwell and myself are traveling in company uno animo et corde. He professes his determination to live with me in perfect harmony, and to leave me the free administration of the diocese. I am on my part resolved to do everything for his honor, peace and happiness. May God grant the union of our hearts and all our clergy by divine charity. It is this that cements yours and mine and makes me happy in declaring myself. Your Affect. Brother in Christ, Francis Patrick Kenrick, Bp. Arath. and Coadj. Phila, Steam Boat Sylph, Thursday Evening, June 24th, 1830.

At the Commencement, 1830, Otho I. Smith of Hagerstown, spoke the "Dirge of Alaric"; Francis B. Sumter of South Carolina, the " American Eagle "; Fielding Lucas of Baltimore on " Philosophy "; James Gardner of Charles County, Md., on " The Crusades "; William B. Hill of Marlboro, on "Astronomy"; Edward Meany of Philadelphia, on "Irish Emancipation"; Dominic Kelly of Ireland, made an "Address to Freedom." The Archbishop addressed the students and the next day a number of them took stage at 3 a. m. for the nineteen hour trip to Baltimore, the President with them.

Purcell to Jamison.

Balt., July 2nd, 1830.

1. We did not reach Balt, before 11 o'c. p. m. yesterday. 2. We breakfasted that day at 11 a. m. and supped a la fourchette at Mrs. Kuhn's, whose face vas as red as if it were roasted, from culinary exertions. At each place paying ten or twelve dollars for each meal. 3. We all, with five exceptions, went on the rail-road to Ellicott's Mills this morning, Mr. Pise with us. The boys exceedingly gratified by the trip and its attendant incidents. 4. They begged me to let them remain here until tomorrow morning, and as the charges are moderate, I consented. 7. Mr. Grwynne, Editor of the Gazette, is a warm friend of the Mount, and wishes to have Mr. McC.'s Latin verses to publish and the "Night Contemplation" he has not a paper left when he publishes anything of ours. 12. Our boys acted like genuine sons of Mary, gentlemanly and docile and blooming with health. . . .

Father Purcell, President, had gone through Philadelphia and New York in search of students and now writes to Father Jamison from

Montreal,, July 26, 1830.

Rev dear Brother: Here, too. I must do myself the heartfelt pleasure of writing to you. The room in which I stay, like that once occupied by our dear, departed Egan, is so near the principal church the English will not allow it to be called a Cathedral that the bells almost stun me and the dress the repasts the voices and the manners of the clergy and the laity, the dirty narrow streets, and old-fashioned houses of the town make me feel not six or seven hundred, but as many thousand, miles from our home in the U. S. Yet do I often think of mine, and wish it, with a rivalry of the true ecclesiastical spirit that pervades this place, a share in the immense wealth which seems to be possessed by the worthy inmates of the Seminary and College. [The Sulpicians owned at one time the entire island on which Montreal is built. ]

Mr. Larkin received me with great kindness. . . The pension for board and tuition at the Sulpician College is seven dollars per month: washing the only extra, twelve dollars per annum. They have no infirmary but when boys are sick, they send them either to their parents or to a hospital, attended by the Soeurs Hospitalieres. . . . Mr. LaRoque had been to consult Mr. Larkin about St. Mary's Bait He. as any one else would have done in similar circumstances, told him it was far preferable to Emmitsburg as a place of education. A few moments ago I went to see LaRoque and found him very clever and still undetermined. Before I left him his mind seemed much changed in favor of Emmitsburg and tomorrow evening when I am to take tea with him, he will come to a conclusion. I think he will send his boy with me. His mother dotes on the boy and this seems the main obstacle to his receiving an education at any great distance from home.

I regret the expense of travelling so much, but I think that our house will not lose by it in the end. I trust I shall have many boys to take along at my return, who otherwise might never come and to view the state of parties here how religion advances or decays how the native French, the Canadian French, the English, Irish and Scotch emigrants and even those from the United States affect to assume an ascendancy in faith, discipline and politics, is not without its interest and use, notwithstanding the sigh which it frequently draws from the pacific observer. The seeds of much injury to our holy religion are sown, and none can yet calculate the consequences; of this more hereafter. I go today to Quebec shall be] in New York, I hope, by the 3d or 4th of August, and then shall make the best of my way home. Entreat Rev. Mr. Brute' to be ready to preach the retreat.

The Scholastic year of 1830-31 was the first of Father Purcell's regular administration, Mr. McGerry's resignation not having perhaps been formally acted upon. A friendship, warm and close, united him and John McCloskey, now seminarian, without a break until on that July night of 1883, death laid a welcome hand upon the broken heart-strings of the former. Two years later, the latter laid down the cardinal's berretta to join his friend in that land where " the wicked cease from troubling and the weary are at rest." Mr. Purcell's administration began with much eclat owing to his success in obtaining the charter of the College for one reason, and again to his winsomeness, energy, kindness and learning.

This year entered the College, aged 13, another John McCloskey (afterwards President), whose 50 following years were to be spent within its enclosure, and whose heart was to break beneath the burden of its sorrows. He was sis years First Prefect. But of him anon. Let us turn to Dr. McCaffrey's notes: "August 15, 1830 to August 15, 1831. "The Prefects of this year were F. X. Gartland, John (Card.) McCloskey and John Duffy."

Mr. Purcell to Mr. Jamison.

Mt. St. Mary's, Aug. 29th, 1830.

Rev. and dear Brother: . . . Tell Dr. Kenrick I have received and answered his letter. I should be very glad to see the numbers of the Gazette in which Mr. Sourin's and Mr. McCaffrey's poetry was published, if at all published. Those pieces are all too good to be neglected. Please pay the American the amount due for our subscription. [The Baltimore Sun had not yet risen.] Bring on as many boys as you can and come back soon.

Mt. St. Mary's., Sept. 7th, 1830.

Dear Brother: . . . Mr. Carter ('34) is here from Kentucky. He is well recommended by Bishop Flaget. Mr. Brute’ and all here are much pleased with him. He can make himself very useful. Tell Dr. Kenrick of it.

[Father Carter was Pastor of the Assumption, Spring Garden St., Philadelphia, and Vicar-General. He helped the Sisters of the Holy Child to found their convent at Sharon Hill, near that city.]

Mt. St. Mary's Sept. 10th, 1830

Dear Brother: . . . The business at Romney must needs be soon closed, even at a loss to the Institution. [This was a mortgage held by the College on lands in Virginia], and I am particularly anxious that something decisive be done regarding our negroes. Dan and Louis are gone off and I can only say, God's peace be with them! Abraham, Nace and Peter I have told to look out for masters for themselves but on second thought I sent them to their work as usual, until you return. If you could get. or agree with me on the propriety of it, I can easily procure white men who will come as lay-brothers and work for us. Mr. Bradley, one of the seminarians, was ordained priest at Conewago and Mr, Gartland, subdeacon. They went over for ordination by Bp. Kenrick. Fitzhugh Dorsey, a student of the College, fell from a tree and broke his neck.

A simple statement. But other pens have woven a garland of tender thoughts and loving memories to lay upon the dead boy's grave. The tragedy of his taking off threw a gloom over the place for many days, for there was no brighter pupil or more promising, more winning, genial, manly and beloved at the Mountain. During a hunt after chestnuts on that fair October Sunday he took the lead in gay lightheartedness. Venturing too far out upon a limb of rich promise it broke beneath his weight, and his fall injured his spine so that he remained senseless. Reverently and tenderly they bore him on a rough litter back to the College, while some hurried on to inform Messrs. Purcell and Brute. The latter's knowledge of surgery sufficed to bring the conviction that there was no hope; but as there seemed some little pulse, and as, only the day before, the boy had avowed his intention of becoming a Catholic, the Sacrament of baptism was administered.

The students prepared a set of resolutions of respect, regret and sympathy, which they sent to the boy's parents. They walked to Emmitsburg with the body, six of them going with it to Hagerstown, and all wore crape on their left arm for thirty days, as was the custom of the period.

Kev. J. J. Mullon, '24 to Mr. Jamison.

Cincinnati, Nov. 8th, 1830.

Dear and much esteemed friend: ... It seems as if neither time nor distance can weaken the interest which I have ever cherished for the dear Mountain. I often wish to be again among the peaceful and happy inmates of Mt. St. Mary's and, indeed, I cannot forbear from soliciting the permission to return when, like a weather-beaten mariner, I shall have been pelted a little more by the missionary storm. I should be consoled if I thought my bones could repose among the ashes of the saintly dead, which so often witness the fervent prayer of piety for the departed spirit in the cemetery of Mt. St. Mary's. You would do me a favor by making this request, but in confidence, of my worthy and much beloved friend Mr. Purcell. . . . Should things not succeed in our new College, as now anticipated, I have reasons for wishing to withdraw. . . [This College was "The Athenaeum" in Cincinnati, attached to the Episcopal residence there; now (1887) the parish-house of St. Xavier's Church, the property of the Jesuits, who purchased the old Cathedral.]

Here's another letter from the once bigoted "Dominion":

Winchester, Va., Nov. 30th, 1830.

Dear Sir: . . . I look up to your Institution as a bright ornament in the Coronal of Literature which bounds the brows of our happy and free country and as a fertile source of that true piety which can alone confer dignity on learning and give grace, durability and excellence to freedom. Permit me to recommend to your especial care as my known and tried friend and to the attention of all those who still hold me in remembrance my little nephew Notley De Courcey. I remain your affect, friend, Rev. F. B. Jamison, Wm. Harry Daingerfield (A. M. '55).

We present a few of the two score points which Father Brut6, the venerable mentor and censor of the College, presented to Revd Messrs. Purcell and Jamison. The document is in his own hand.

"At the close of the first year of the exercise of Messrs. Purcell and Jamison from Christmas 1829 to Christmas 1830. A. M. D. G.

"On this approaching conclusion of the year in the 5th year since our father and founder left us, it becomes the house, by its representatives.

"1. To give thanks to God for the innumerable graces bestowed, . . . and temporal blessings granted," which he enumerates in great detail, but puts in the first place the seven priests and four deacons ordained ..."for this is the true triumph, harvest and joy of this house." Then the visits of the Archbishop and the Bishop of Philadelphia, as well as the friendly "intercourse of other seminaries." Then the title of "College," provided it bring no diminution of spiritual and ecclesiastical favors. Then the new seminaries in New York and Philadelphia . . . The preservation of Issy (during the Revolution of 1830) . . . The holy family of St. Joseph so sacredly connected here with that of St. Mary's by mutual service and spiritual assistance . . . He refers to trials by the death of Mr. Murray, a seminarian, and young Dorsey . . . To improvements in discipline required, and mentions the defects and omissions as if he kept a diary, as indeed he did . . . Says that in 10 months the first five year treaty with the Archbishop expires . . . He regrets that " such a house as this keeps no regular assemblies with book of record, the indispensable condition of their progress in any good or reform, etc., etc." . . . "The debt increases two or three thousand dollars a year." . . . "There are six priests, twenty-two seminarians and one hundred and six borders."

We have some account of literary and debating societies whereof many appear to have succeeded one another in the College. The Carrollton Debating Society lasted from Dec. 27, 1830 till March 27, 1831. Another society died in its birth, Aug. 31, 1833, going as we read, "the way of its predecessors." "Mt. St. Mary's Literary Association " (debates excluded) was founded by the Seminarians in 1834, and met first and third Thursdays at 7 p. m.

Our readers will be glad to read of the light used in those days, and the kind of town Emmitsburg was in 1830.

The pine knot was the earliest light, such as Abraham Lincoln was at that time reading by in his rude Kentucky cabin. Then came the tallow-dip. It was the only light for rich and poor, merchant, tradesman or student. Then came the oil lamp. Then kerosene or camphene or burning fluid, which the children used to wet their fingers with and set fire to. Many were the fatal accidents from its use. Now we have coal oil, gasoline, acetylene, electric light, some times an excess of light. There are those still who find the gentle candle flame better for the eyes than the hundred-candle power of recent inventions.

The town pump was placed in position in the center of the Emmitsburg square, where the fountain now stands. Everybody, man and brute, could drink the pure, healthy water. Today there is excellent water in every house, but no place for the thirsty traveler, except the saloon. "Water, water everywhere and never a drop to drink."

The old pump was a great center of social life. Your modern conveniences and luxuries may be fine in their way, but they keep the people apart and so diminish rather than increase the simple, real pleasures of mankind. No wonder the tramp said he didn't like the almshouse " on account of of the steam heat."

What was said of the pump might be said of the Post Office, where everybody went of an evening to get the mail and meet the neighbors. Now one's letters and papers are delivered at the door, even out on the mountain-top. Knowledge may increase, but so does ambition, and people are separated rather than brought together. The train now offers facilities for going to the city with its theatres and such, and the local picnics and pleasant summer gatherings are become very much a thing of the past, while the thoughts of the young are turned more and more from "natural charms " to the artificial attractions of the town. Neither health, nor morals, nor godliness is improved by this, but rather the reverse.

Hampton Taylor, one of the grand old oaks of the Mountain, told us that "once upon a time," there was nice fishing in Turkey Run, through Annandale, but that later powder and paper mills, a distillery and a tannery killed all the fish. Today (1908) those mills, etc., have in their turn passed away and the fish have their day once more, but we seldom or never encounter disciples of Isaac Walton.

Through a correspondent we become aware of a society then existing, for he asks,

Jan. 27, 1830: "Who is the president of the 'Academus?' "

Feb. 5, 1830. A young man writes from Virginia that he became a Catholic at the College, and is now distressed at being one hundred miles from a Catholic Church.

Mar. 19,1830. An attempt was made to get a mail three times a week from Baltimore.

Mar. 22, 1830. A Philadelphia father urges the Faculty to make his son study, saying, "according to the old proverb, ' A bird that can sing ought to be made to sing!' "

April 12, 1830. A correspondent very sensibly spells Father Brute's name .Brutal.

In 1830 the steamboat left Baltimore for Norfolk once a week.

May 10, 1830. Having no cash to pay his bill, a patron writes: " I have a negro woman, aged about twenty eight, and her male sucking child, whom I would freely let you have on reasonable terms in part pay immediately."

May 11, 1830. An old student writes from Cheraw, S. C., Bp. Lynch's birthplace, mentioning the "hand-ball and foot-ball" he used to play at the College.

July 8, 1830. Father Purcell writes from Philadelphia: " Dr. Kenrick paid me a visit immediately after his arrival and renewed the protestations of attachment to Mt. St. Mary's contained in his late letter, which I showed you."

May 28, 1830. A New Yorker writes Father Purcell to visit " our famous city of 'Gotham and crooked streets.' "A man abandoning Washington at the same date calls it the " emporium of vice and fashion."

One writes from Winnsboro, S. C., June 8, 1830: "I am very desirous of taking your paper, the ' Mountaineer.' "This is the first inkling we have of the existence of a college journal here.

June 29, 1830. A Baltimore mother writes that her boys have requested " to be allowed to spend part of their vacation at the College," and she does not Wonder at it "when she recalls" her school-days at St. Joseph's.

July 7, 1830. One of the stages to Baltimore was the "Carroll of Carrollton"

July 20, 1S30. A student would not return to the Mountain because South Carolina was "insulted at the injuries heaped upon her by her sister States and won't send her sons to their schools."

Martinsburg, July 23, 1S30. A father writes about his sons and wants Father Brute to come to his home with the boys for a week. "Tell Mr. Brute1 he does wrong in not mixing more with the flock of God; that he thinks too humbly of his social properties ; they are good and he destroys them."

July 15, 1830. Bp. England preached in Baltimore two sermons on the Real Presence; one on Sunday, two hours long, the other on Monday evening, 2 1/2hrs.

Father Parsons, Treasurer of the College, writes from Baltimore, July 30, 1830: " Everybody says that our terms are too high, especially the extras. It is true, situated as we are, we cannot afford to diminish terms much."

Aug. 12, '3O. All seats being taken in Emmitsburg stage, a boy had to go by Frederick, forty miles and more out of his way.

Aug. 14, '30. It would appear that Father Jamison wanted to sell some slaves to a Mr. Lee of Louisiana, who writes to him: "I shall be glad to purchase the servants mentioned if their ages suit and I shall be obliged to you to send me a list showing the sex and age of each one."

Fayetteville, N. C., Aug. 18, '30. A father writes: " Instruct Joseph well in his Religion, so as to enable him to answer the Huguenots any question they may put him respecting it. . . .I acknowledge I am very hearty but soon over, I am like a great many of my countrymen, passionate but soon over."

Aug. 22, ' 30. A parent would send his sons to Georgetown " in consequence of the great difference in the terms," and because he "was forcibly struck with the great number of small boys at the Mountain." It seems our College then would not take any one over sixteen.

Aug. 31, '30. A Philadelphia boy cried all day Thursday for joy at returning to the Mountain, and when told at last he was to start at five o'clock on Friday, repeatedly asked: "Mother are you in earnest?"

Georgetown, D. C., Sept. 17, '30. There were three ball alleys at Georgetown. 70 boys. Rules very much stricter than at the Mountain. " My pen is bad and I have no knife I could not write letter to save my life." [Steel pens had not yet come into use, and one had to make a pen with a pen-knife out of a goose-quill.]

In those 1830 days there were many pupils from Baltimore and from Charleston as well as from New Orleans with French names, children some of them of refugees from Santo Domingo where the negroes had revolted. We have the names of Pitary. Ogier. Aimar. Fourgerand. Boudo Grandscharrys. Dnquereron. Huard. Pezant. Huchet. etc. There were other immigrants who had translated their names; for instance, the 'Whites are the Les Blancs spoken of in Evangeline, exiles from Acadia.

Sept., 30. A son of Genl. Negrett of Mexico, six; years of age. was taken into the College.

Taxes (one year in arrears) for 1830 "Seminary $17.40 ; St. Joseph's Female School $8.24.

Sept. 10, '30. "At what hour and day does Prince Hohenlohe say Mass for the sick? Then tell me what hour that is in Statesburg S. C. ? " It seems priests used to say Mass simultaneously with the prince, who had esteem of holiness.

Sept. 31, '30. A Baltimore mother writes that her boy's winter clothing will cost $100. This would mean about $200 today.

Oct. 4, '30. Ignatius O'Conway a "Watchmaker and Dentist" proposed to settle at Emmitsburg and to charge moderate prices (we find several letters objecting to the prices of the dentist in those days). O'Conway's sister was the ''first Sister of Charity, who settled at Emmitsburg," as her father Matthias O'Conway, writes from Philadelphia.

Oct. 13, '30. "John must be curtailed in part of his extravagance, say in powder and shot."

July 5, '30. "Father Xaupi intends saying Mass for my sick boy between two and three tomorrow in unison with Prince Hohenlohe."

Nov. 2, '30. A father writes that his son's bill for gunning and pocket-money is too high. The entire bill for everything for six months was $260.98 which the treasurer himself said was " a little high." Ordinary bills were much under $150.

Nov. 24, '30. Mr. Larocque of Montreal sent his son a. pair of snow shoes which will at least " gratify the curiosity of his more southern companions as he will hardly be able to use them." They are in the Cabinet.

Dec. 1, '30. A father writes from Charleston: "The gun given my son by his grandmother was against my consent; in consequence I tell you that hereafter I will not pay any expenses whatever for gun, powder or shot. Being not a rich man, I wish not to encourage what can incline my children to dissipation, but industry and labor."

Dec. 3, '30. St. Mary's Balto. had 70 Boarders and 60 day scholars; Mt. St. Mary's and Georgetown 100 scholars each.

Two pictures came in 1830 by ship from Leghorn, presents from Card. Fesch and Kev. Dr. O1 Fay of the Irish College, both for Father Egan. One of the pictures is called Giulio Eomano (a copy), the other a copy of Carlo Maratta

15 Dec. 30. The letter telling this is from Verona to Lasala, X. Y. It doesn't state whether the pictures came to the College or went to Father Egan's heirs. (See letter April 21, 1831.) Unfortunately the names are those of the painter, not of the subject, so that it may be impossible to authenticate the pictures.

Dec. 21, '30. A father writes sending a box of cakes, fruits, etc., for his son: "Please tell him to share it with his schoolmates."

Chapter Index | Chapter 22

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