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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 41 | Chapter Index

Chapter 42: 1852

George H. Miles, like so many other literary men, had received a foreign appointment in 1851, and in bidding farewell to his father, William Miles, who resided at Clairvaux, near the College, had written of Father John McCloskey, the Vice-President: "He is the most knightly man I ever knew."

A few extracts from a letter of the poet to his godfather, the President of the Mountain, make interesting reading:

London, Dec. 4, 1852.

. . . Cardinal Wiseman received me yesterday morning with such paternal courtesy as lias rarely fallen to my lot. We sat close together on the same sofa for half an hour, his arm around my neck I Only think of poor sentimental me in such a position: the crust of travel melted, I was thawed out for the time being, and reduced to my old baby state. But it was sweet for "a" that!" The Cardinal, may His Eminence pardon me, is as much like Dick Krider in face and person as a saint can resemble a sinner the same eyes, lips, nose, cheeks and spectacles. After all there is a power in the strong, beef-eating Anglo-Saxon face: I have seen it coupled with dignity, genius and sanctity too often to doubt its capacity for good or evil, I mentioned you with particular emphasis, but he knew you not how should he? He had not heard of Dubois and Brute’. I shall have the honor of breakfasting with him tomorrow morning at 9 o'c. He is full of Brownson and longs to see him: don't forget those articles. . . .

. . . Your influence on the world is sadly disproportioned to your strength: and you may have some sins of omission to atone for. How a little chap, all alone in London, can read you a lecture across the water, and breakfast after it with my Lord Cardinal! I saw the veritable Scarlet Hat the great eye-sore of John Bull and also an ivory crucifix over it.

This scholastic year a new departure was made at the College, in that only Catholic boys were to be received. Archbishop Purcell writes on Feb. 2d, 1852:

. . . We are all much pleased that your experiment of having none but Catholic boys at the Mountain succeeds so well. I hope other institutions will imitate your good example and that experience will show us a race of future statesmen and citizens of every class more worthy of the Catholic name than many of the former graduates or Sieves of our Catholic colleges and schools. The first graduate a Cincinnati college admitted to his degrees, a haughty young German, had previously written libels against our German clergy and is now a furious infidel; another of its pupils I know not if he be a graduate is an infidel lawyer, and another still is married to a Protestant woman and has a child long unbaptized! I might add many other names to this sad list. Has not the Mountain been more successful in this respect ? . . .

Most various are the letters which came from all parts of the country to Rev. John McCaffrey asking advice in difficult situations or on knotty problems. Mr. Parkin Scott, ex-'32, writes:

Baltimore, 2 may, 1852.

Rev. Sir and my dear friend: . . . There are some faint-hearted, some who dread the idea of the school question being made a religious question but upon the whole our Catholic population is united and will stand firm so long as the Archbishop gives us his support. In the Mirror of yesterday you will find a synopsis of the bill and a brief article on the constitutionality of the question as affecting religious liberty. We have no press at our service except the Mirror, and we have already paid something like one hundred dollars for printing articles in the newspapers. If you will write a series of articles on the subject, addressed (not in name but in fact) to the popular Democratic spirit of our country, our society will have them printed here. Understand me, I do not mean European, Kossuth Democracy, but United States strict construction of delegated power Democracy there is a word for you!

... A bill is now before the Legislature of Maryland for the establishment of a new Court of Chancery in this city: it will pass, and some of my friends desire that I should be a candidate for the office. . . . Now, my dear friend, give me your advice tell me what to do. . . .

The first Plenary or National Council met in Baltimore on the 9th of May this year, 1852. The erection of three new dioceses was decided upon, those of Brooklyn, Covington and Erie. The priests named for the respective mitres were Rev. John Loughlin, Rev. George A. Carrell and Rev. Joshua M. Young, all Mountaineers.

The Commencement was on June 30th. John F. Ennis, '44, addressed the Philomathians; Charles F. Hoffman, the only graduate, spoke on "American Literature" and was valedictorian; Silas Chatard, the future Bishop of Vincennes, on the "Weakness of the Human Intellect;" Luke T. Chatard on the "Conquest of Granada;" John F. Knight on "Saint Thomas of Canterbury;" George S. Hebb on " Palestine;" John Iglehart on "Patriotism."

Archbishop Purcell writes, July 2,1852, that David Walker, "a young man of fine talents and promise," was starting for the Mountain. His name will appear again in these pages. " Would that our railroad were completed that we might possess you for a few days at least on the banks of La Belle Riviere. . . . There is a terrible idea abroad of the flogging boys get at the Mountain, even unto the free flowing of the claret. For goodness sake rather expel a young rascal than tear his hide. A stroke would crush my young friend Tom Anderson, of Glen Mary, as well as his most estimable convert parents. ..." [Tom Anderson went through safe, as we shall see.]

Dr. McCaffrey, writing at this time, says: " On next Monday I will take all the boys to the Springs. . . ." This may refer to an excursion made during the vacation, but what springs are meant, whether Bedford, a long journey off, or the Chalybeate Spring near Gettysburg, we cannot divine.

George E. Cooper, Asst. Surgeon U. S. A., writes Oct. 22, 1852, from Eagle Pass, Texas, a most affectionate letter to the President, mentioning previous letters of his to Dr. McCaffrey and Prof. Beleke, and, like a child, requesting an answer to this communication. The style is noble and touching.

The Prof. Beleke above spoken of published in the 30's, as we saw, a German grammar and was long a distinguished educator. The boys, always looking for fun, would of course take advantage of every circumstance, from his name on, connected with the gentleman. When some one purposely translated "leo fulvus," red lion, the professor would correct him "not red but tawny," whereupon Edward Taney would at once answer to his name. So when the oft-recurring particle quin was mentioned, John Quin would invariably say "Sir?" and the professor would reply, "Not you, but quin with the subjunctive." These trifles always caused great merriment. Dr. McCaffrey, who would sometimes, though rarely, show his appreciation of a joke, used to tell how the grave German related his graded endeavors to make a certain boy study: " First I talked to him pathetically about his departed mother; next about his good pastor all in vain ; then I knocked his head against the wall, after which he did much better."

In 1852 the foundations of McCaffrey Hall were laid, and in 1853 its corner-stone by Archbishop Purcell, who also spoke. The refectory in it was not ready till 1857, and a chapel was part of its original plan, but this was abandoned.

Rev. William G. McCloskey, afterwards first president of the American College at Rome and later Bishop of Louisville, was ordained Oct. 6, 1852. We saw how Father Flaut left the Mountain and was appointed to a place in Baltimore. We consider it a privilege to be able to reproduce this letter of this simple, godly man.

Rev. George Flaut writes:

Baltimore, St. Andrew's, '52.

Rev, and dear Friend: How is our beloved Mother's Mountain and all her devoted children who repose under its shade and the protection of their heavenly Mother's love? As for the last thirty years I have not been so long a time without seeing the dear old spot, my eyes and old heart both long to see it, together with its most kind and simple-hearted children. I am often reminded of it by seeing the stage pass with Emmitsburg painted on its side; then I feel as if I could jump into it and exclaim: "Here we go for good old Emmitsburg and the dear old Mountain here we go once more to meet sweetly smiling faces and to witness scenes which will rejoice a poor old heart and make it forget its miseries!" My situation is much like that of our young dog which was tied a few days ago: the poor fellow is full of life and play; when I go out into the yard he makes a spring, forgetting that he is tied, to run and jump before me. but then there he finds that miserable rope, which ruins all his sport. Thus it is with me.

I feel ready to fly away as fast as the stage can carry me, even as fast as a railroad could carry me, to revisit my Mountain friends. But there is my tie to the convent, where I must be every morning. I believe I might as well be a nun as to be bound as tight as a nun. The nuns are very good and kind, but you know that however kind you may be to an old bird that has enjoyed forest and mountain liberties where he could, unmolested, fly from spray to spray, without having the eyes of men turned towards him at every movement, he prefers that even to a golden cage and all the luxuries of a dirty old city. One thing I want here, a good hearty laugh; if I only had our dear old Father Xaupi, when my feelings are soured by indisposition, to give me a good hearty laugh, it would be the very life of me; it would cause my old half-chilled blood to run at a gallop through my veins. But alas! This is another happiness which I may think of but not enjoy. Poor me, here I am in a strange land, far from all old friends and without new ones. I travel up and down the streets, sauntering like a stray country dog which has the misfortune to find itself lost in a city and would give the world for the friendly smile of some of the household to which it belongs. The nuns are very kind and good and have a very comfortable chapel. I preach for them every Sunday, and also almost every Sunday for Father Anthony. I preach enough, such as it is, were it what it might be, it would be enough to preach myself and them intosaints, afterwards into heaven. But, to use St. Philip Neri's expression, I fear much of it is mere stuff which leaves those who hear it very much as they were before. I often wish I had your facility in giving catechetical instructions; a man who could do that well, make it interesting, might do an immensity of solid good here; the people here are very fond of instructions, they seem to be much more attentive than in the country. I feel convinced that were a person with your facility to lecture in any of our churches for an hour every Sunday afternoon the church would be crowded with attentive hearers. In spiritual knowledge our people are behind those of the country. There are few who read spiritual books; some are too busy and some are too idle to read. I wish I had you to give a storming retreat to my flock of girls; they seem to be most excellent souls. . . .

I am sure these good people have never heard a retreat such as you give at the old Mountain. I believe they have never had much preaching of any kind at the convent, hence a good retreat would be a great treat both to the children and the nuns.

And how is your own dear little flock, sheep and lambs? You are happy to have the care of such a flock so well disposed. The greatest care ought to be taken of the simple country Catholics, because it is from them principally that God is to be glorified and heaven peopled with subjects. With a little care you may have more prayers said, more sacraments received by five hundred country Catholics than by three thousand city Catholics. In the city the body of the people come to church, but that is all. Our little church is full every Sunday, but not the communion rail, and among the communicants there are scarcely any men or boys. It would seem that the devil has tied them; he gives them rope enough to go to church but there he holds them, the confession-box scares them. I believe the Germans are an exception. The good Eedemplorists make such a noise and pronounce the sweet and powerful name of Mary so frequently and with such force that the devil has to fly even from the men of their flock, and liberated from the power of the devil they approach the sacraments. But oh! where am I going? Why am I writing all this to you ? I thought I was sitting by your chunky fire talking to you, and like a sister who has not seen her brother for half an age, talking all myself, without giving you time to put in a word. Before I forget, give my sweetest, best and most polite respect to my dear old Father Xaupi, and tell him that it would open up my old heart to see his face, even if it had not felt the weight of a razor for a week or more. And tell him that were it not that he is my dearest friend I would envy him his liberty and perfect freedom from all conventional ties. He must now feel like an old ox that had carried the yoke for many years, that had to get up almost before the morning star to run to work, but that at length finds himself relieved of the yoke and turned out to graze in the richest pastures. May the sweetest blessing of heaven gather around his old days, and I hope he will pray for a poor old sinner. Give my respects to Father Thomas, who is also freed from his Emmitsburg yoke, but who is yet too young and efficient to be entirely liberated. I wish he could come here to Old Town and build a little Church; were I well, and as young as he is, I would do it; there are some very dear people here, people whom he would exactly suit, and where I am sure he would be as happy as man can be in the ministry. My respects also to Fathers McCloskey and Elder and all the good, dear Fathers. To Sister Felicity especially, and to Leo and all the girls. As to the congregation, I shall not begin to name. I love them all, and I hope always shall on earth and in heaven. My respects to the whole Mountain and Valley, which has now lost its beautiful green clothing and is preparing to re-clothe itself and to re-delight the eyes of the children in the spring; and lastly, my kindest respects and best wishes to yourself; and my prayer is, and always will be, that God may be with you, that He may bless you in all your steps and undertakings, and that our ever-blessed Mother (whose spiritual children we both have the happiness to attend) may extend over you all, or rather that she may continue to extend the sweet hand of her protection. I have endeavored to love her and to make her loved here, and I am certain you love her and endeavor to make her loved there, and let this be our hope, if the Mother is for us. the Son, who is to be our Judge. Will not condemn us. Farewell, and may the heavens on Christmas morning find all your hearts disposed to receive their mellifluous dews, and to descend from the mountain with the same feelings the shepherds had when they returned from the manger to their flocks. Pray for me so that I may become worthy of the promises of Christ. This letter requires no answer unless at some time you think fit to drop me a note. I have nobody to talk to here, so I talk to you with my pen.

George Flaut.

This ex-pastor of the Mountain congregation, who photographs his own soul in this charming, holy letter, was a carpenter at the College before he began to study for the priesthood. He built the altar of the old church on the hill, and planned and assisted in building the school-house south on the pike. The people of the Mountain loved him and never ceased praising him in their own brief, simple way to his successors in the parish. He was a genuine and an excellent saintly product of Mount St. Mary's Seminary. We note how he anticipates Pius X in his reference to the teaching of catechism to the people on a Sunday afternoon.

1852, Aug. 2. Today the Philomathian received a communication issuing from Philo Hall, Pennsylvania College, Gettysburg, Pa., suggesting a union of all societies in the various colleges, which bore the praenomen Philo, and prposing the one at Shelbyville, Ky., as the center. They were to have anniversary celebrations on the same date and issue passports whereby a member of one would be recognized and received by any other in the Union. As to what came of the project, history is silent.

The following letter from Gen. Thomas MacArthur Anderson, referred to a little back, will be read with interest by the students of the present day and the alumni:

Headquarters Fourteenth Infantry, Vancouver Barracks, Wash., Oct. 30, 1895.

I take pleasure in jotting down for The Mountaineer my recollection of Mt. St. Mary's as I knew it forty-three years ago.

The changes which have taken place in that time will be apparent when I state that in going from my home in Ohio in 1852 I had to cross the mountains in a stage coach. The railway was nearly completed, but there was a gap at what are now known as the horseshoe curves. From Harrisburg we went to Emmitsburg in miserable old stages. On several of ray trips I skirmished for peaches in the famous Peach Orchard on the battlefield of Gettysburg.

I have before me in this year's catalogue an engraving of the college as it appears to-day. In my time the Junior Department [McCaffrey Hall] had not been built, but the profile of the hills remains the same, and I doubt not the same paths lead to old Carrick's Knob which were followed by the students long before my time.

The Rev. John McCaffrey, the bishop-maker, was the president. An able man and a great logician, he was facile princeps among his fellows. Possibly I am partial, as he gave me the first premium in his logic class. He was a great admirer of Mr. Calhoun, yet I remember that he listened with good-natured patience to an argument of mine to prove that Chief Justice Marshall, the great expounder of the Constitution, was the greatest American logician. Students after leaving college often underrate their former professors after having an opportunity to compare them with men of affairs in active life. This is unfair, because without the inculcation of principles half of our lives would be wasted in misapplied experimental endeavor. But Mr. McCaffrey would not have suffered by any comparison.

Archbishop Elder was head of the seminary; he has since proved himself to be a man of sterling merit and administrative ability. Bishop Wm. McCloskey, afterwards first rector of the American College, Rome, and now Bishop of Louisville, had at that time a number of important classes. He was my preceptor in rhetoric. He was a most amiable and charming gentleman. His brother, John McCloskey, was vice-president and treasurer; he was not as popular as his lovable brother, yet he had a briery kind of friendship which I highly appreciated.

The Rev. Mr. Corry was a fine belles letters scholar and a very witty and entertaining man.

Mr. McMurdie, ordained in 1853, was another charming companion; he had more agreeable information on general topics than any man I ever met.

Professor Caspar Beleke was a typical pedagogue and a learned philologist. I met him once in after life and he seemed really pleased to find that a man who got hopelessly tangled in Greek roots could yet succeed in practical work.

The Rev. Dr. Damphoux was a source of constant amusement from his eccentric vagaries. He gave me my college name of "Professor " on the lucus a non lucendo principle.

Professor Aiken taught natural philosophy and chemistry. He was succeeded by Dr. Charles O'Leary, '51, a most scholarly man. Years after I met the latter under peculiar circumstances. I was riding through the woods of the Wilderness at the head of a regiment I was commanding in the Army of the Potomac when I met Dr. O'Leary, then medical director of the Sixth Corps. He said: " Well Anderson ! There is not much of the 'Tityre tu patnlae' about this.'' I said, "Not much of the 'recubans' certainly." Then he asked, ''Have you seen Charley Lee?" ('56, also surgeon.) "Yes, I have seen Charley." Then he said, "George Jenkins and the Morses are on the other side." I answered, 'Yes. and the Deshiels. The Elliots and Bayou Goula."

Professor Aiken

I had another strange encounter. In one of our battles I passed a wounded Confederate. He was so begrimed with dirt and clotted with blood that I could not recognize him. As I approached I heard him say, "Great Scott! The Professor!" I asked him who he was, but he only answered, "Lay on, MacDuff," alluding to my having acted that part in a dramatic performance at the Mountain. I was soon after wounded myself, and so could not look up my fellow-student.

I have referred to our dramatics. The last year we were at college we had quite a number of performances, "Macbeth," "The Fall of Tarquin," and a number of farces, such as the " White Horse of the Peppers." Our star actor was a young Irishman named James Fabb. He was awfully stage-struck, and I felt sure that he would become an actor. Imagine my surprise, therefore, on meeting him years after as an agent of a minstrel troupe. I would advise my young readers to avoid this fascination, "That way danger lies." . . .

I can recall the names of a hundred of my fellow-students, yet strange to say I have not met a dozen of them in after life. Three are officers of the army and have all been at this Post, to wit, Surgeon C. C. Byrne and Captains Seton and Jamar. The last named is still here.

I wish I could tell you more about the Boys of '55, "but Time carries a wallet on his back, in which we place alms for oblivion."

Cordially yours, Thomas McA. Anderson, ex-'55. 31

We insert here the versatile Father John McCaffrey's Christmas hymn long familiar to Mountaineers:

With glory lit, the midnight air Revealed bright angels hovering there, In fear beheld the raptured swains When rose the heaven-inspired strains: Glory to God and peace to earth, Made glorious by the Savior's birth.

Then sweetly spoke the angelic voice: "Fear not: let heaven and earth rejoice, The child in Bethlehem's crib that lies Is God descended from the skies."

The choirs of Heaven still bless the morn When God through love for man was bom; That God we humbly bow before And praise with angels and adore.

Dr. Dielman composed suitable music for this hymn and its effect on the Christmas morning worshipers was perfect. Indeed this festival at the humble old church, from whose tower gleamed the Star of Bethlehem for twenty miles over the valley, was always and ever a hearty and holy celebration for old and young alike. Every one listened with faith and love to the "old, old story," the wondrous story of the birth of the Son of God in the stable. Every one received the Lord's Body with faith and love, and every one departed from the manger with a spirit enlightened, warmed and strengthened for the closer following of Christ.

A beautiful feature of the feast was the playing of the Adeste on the brow of the hill before the assembling of the faithful, the familiar notes filling every heart with the peace of Christ and the joy of Mary. This was kept up by Dr. Dielman's son Lawrence many years after the venerable church on the hill had been abandoned.

1852. Loyola College, Baltimore, opened in September, succeeding St. Mary's College of the Sulpician community, and Calvert College, New Windsor, Md., was chartered as a university.

Those who recall the fire companies of New York and other cities before the paid department was introduced will be, perhaps, surprised at what follows, but small towns differ totally from great cities, and the most respectable gentlemen ''ran with the machine,'' or at least became honorary members. Father Edward Collins, '31, of Cincinnati, used to attend fires in uniform, and one of the earliest recollections of the chronicler's boyhood in New York is having seen his teacher rush to a closet when the fire-bell rang, seize his fire-coat and helmet and hurry out of the room.

"At a special meeting of the Cumberland Hose Company, held January 27, 1852, at their engine-house, the following resolutions were unanimously adopted:

''Resolved, That through respect for the high character of our worthy member, the Rev. L. Obermeyer, who has recently departed from amongst us, we tender to him our sincere thanks for honoring us with his name, and beg leave to express our warmest wishes for his future happiness.

''Resolved, That a copy of the above be signed by the officers and transmitted to the Rev. Mr. Obermeyer and also published in the papers of the town.

A. J. Walton, Pres. Geo. W. Hoover, Sec'y."

Chapter 43 | Chapter Index

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