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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 44 | Chapter Index

Chapter 45: 1856-1857

Father Mullen, '24, of New Orleans, writes to Dr. McCaffrey, Feb. 2, 1856, in reference to the rumor of the latter's appointment to the see of Charleston:

There does not live in the American Church, one whose elevation to the Hierarchy would afford more exquisite pleasure to your old friend, than yourself; but, when I refer to your peculiar and universally honored position, to the opportunity which Almighty God has opened to you, both in the glorious cause of preparing the young levites for His Sanctuary and grounding and confirming thousands of the laity in the youths committed to your care, I cannot resist the conclusion, that your present noble position will be more grateful and acceptable to God than to accept a place which another may fill, and abandon the government of an Institution which in all probability must fall, notwithstanding the immortal honors as a literary Institution and nursery for the Church it has acquired, and will still continue to enhance, under the direction of its present honored and respected President. . . . Cling to Mt. St. Mary's do not be prevailed on. like a Brut6. I ask your forgiveness for the frankness with which I have presumed to express my sentiments in reference to the subject; they spring from a source devoted to your present and future welfare. . . .

It has been most awfully cold here, we Orleanois are almost all frozen. The health of the place is good, but in other respects it is an abandoned city. Know Nothings, nightly assassinations, blasphemous representations in the theatres, bankruptcy, etc., etc., constitute the real portrait of New Orleans! ..."

Father Mullen was one of the grand old Mountaineers from "wayback," who once riled the strict old Doctor by walking in unannounced to the study-hall and giving the boys a holiday. He had just arrived from the Crescent City.

Some one proposing to write the history of Mount St. Mary's College, Bishop Carrell did not consider the person competent and wrote to Dr. McCaffrey advising him not to encourage the idea: "Hitzelberger, Mr. Mullen of New Orleans and myself were conversing last July on this very subject. Unless written by Charles Pise or Drs. White or Hitzel, the venerable men who laid its foundations broad and deep will not have justice done to them, nor will their successors in carrying on the great work."

It is strange the work was not undertaken by such men. How well Miles would have done it!

Washington's Birthday was celebrated as usual, and Charles Carroll Lee, of the graduating class, in a speech showed how the root of our liberties was in the Gospel principles reduced to practice by our Catholic forefathers.

McCaffrey Hall was hastily completed when two stories had arisen, so that all efforts might be devoted to the beautiful memorial church which it was proposed to build nearby, and for which the Abp. granted due authorization March 6, 1856. Two days later the clerical members of the Faculty issued a circular setting forth their intention to build " a Church to take the place of the venerable and now decayed and insufficient chapel, erected half a century ago by Bishop Dubois, and peculiarly dear and sacred by association with him and Bishop Brute. We believe that this will be the most fitting monument to the memory of these saintly men the most appropriate and enduring tribute to their virtues, and the best, if not the only, means of crowning with success the long-cherished design of erecting in their honor some lasting monument. We wish the Church, reared to the glory of God under the influence of these motives, to be an acceptable offering to the Immaculate Patroness, to whom Mount St. Mary's was consecrated by those pious and heroic priests; we wish it to be the ornament of the College which they founded, and the boast of her alumni; we even trust it may be an expressive memorial of Catholic opinion and feeling in relation to an acknowledged center of Catholic influence a beautiful shrine to which pilgrim Catholics from all parts of our Union and from other lands may repair with holy joy and affectionate veneration for the virtues of Dubois and Brute. The means of accomplishing all this must be found chiefly in the generous devotion of the sons of Mount St. Mary's and the friends of our Institution. To them we appeal in the name of the Old Mountain the mother of bishops and priests and of a numerous and noble band of educated laymen. We ask you as one of them to take your part in the good work. For half a century Mount St. Mary's has endeavored to diffuse blessings over the land. May she not look for a liberal return of favor now ? . . . "

George H. Miles proposed George Snell, "the architect of this Country," a Bostonian, but the new church, 60x100 feet, was begun on the elaborate plan submitted by Patrick Keeley, an Irishman, designer of the cathedrals of Boston, Hartford, Albany, Providence, Pittsburg, etc., etc., etc., but its construction was interrupted on account of the War of '61, for lack of means, and the structure, already revealing its coming beauty, wasted under sun, rain and frost. After its ruins, or rudera call them what you will had stood for many a summer and winter in their melancholy beauty, they were finally razed in 1903, the material being used to adorn the new gymnasium. One hundred dollars was the suggested individual contribution and some seventeen thousand dollars had been raised, and as much or twice as much expended on the attempted edifice, which all the alumni were delighted to hear of and to aid.

Abp. Purcell could not come to the Commencement of 1856, but Abp. Kenrick agreed to do so and gave his hundred dollars for the new church. It was during this prelate's time that the Corpus Christi processions to the grotto over Brute's paths began, or at least are chronicled, and another charm was added to the Mountain.

Father John Shanahan, '23, of New York, wrote May 28, 1856, saying he was sorry "ye sold the low lands below the college to Dr. Shorb." [Dr. Shorb lived at San Marino, and it seems obtained from the College, of which be was attending physician, the lands round about what is now known as Clairvaux.] This venerable priest had a fine library, but became blind in his old age. His books seem to have been left to his namesake, Bishop Shanahan, of Harrisburg.

Rev. Dr. Pise, of Brooklyn, wrote June 10, 1856: " Time only adds, as it rolls on, to the affection I have always cherished for the venerable Mountain, and I yield to none of its children in respect and love towards the memories of its saintly founders, Dubois and Brute. Let the sacred and merited monument arise in their honor on the brow of the mountain, a beacon of light and gratitude in the solitude through which, under their guidance, so many of us have passed, and back to which, in spite of absence and time, we look with admiration and reverence! . . . "

Dr. James A. Shorb, '12, to Dr. McCaffrey from then distant and arid California;

San Francisco, Aug. 4, 1856.

... It would be tame in me to say that your letter of the twenty-ninth of June afforded me pleasure. It was like the fall of heaven's dew . . . "

And so on with other letters, including one of July 19, from Victor de Pitray at Havre of the class of '34.

In 1856 Daniel Belzhoover joined the Faculty. Commencement was held June 26 with seven graduates, Charles Carroll Lee being valedictorian and honor-man of the Senior class. The other honor-men were Francis B. Forbes, Thomas M. Ryan, John H. Edwards, Daniel McMeal, Reuben Kelly, Frederick Hunt. The students numbered two hundred and ten. Class medals began or were revived this year.

Charles Carroll Lee became a physician, and at his death was president of the New York County Medical Association, one of the most honorable positions in the country.

William Miles, the poet's father, writing again to the President from Callao, Sept. 25, 1856, treats of the plan of the new church in a very touching manner:

... I like to see the boys as they are now placed, and give them the "precedence'' in all respects; it is beautiful to worship with the young and with seminarians and religious; and in that respect, greatly superior to anything like cloistered worship; so that to me, to see the boys and the seminarians and to worship with them openly, is about as near to heaven as we can hope to feel and enjoy in this world of struggles, in which those persons do not share in our way, and so far are angelic in position as to us, though we outsiders may some of us be "concealed saints." I love the Mountain worship because it is as it is. That gush or sweetness could not be obtained in any other way either by concealing the boys or the seminarians. It is the whole scene which creates the charm of the "Mountain Church," the idea of union in communion with purer persons; purer by youthful freshness and innocence and moral and mental culture and sentiment and principle; it is heavenly. If it is not improper therefore, you will best please the laity by preserving the present plan. The wiles and the wishes of the boys and seminarians, and what is proper, are other things. The procession of the boys up the aisles to their places will be lost except upon the old plan which is endeared to everybody. . . .

While steps were taking to build a grand church on the College grounds, Father William McCloskey began the mission at Mechanicstown (now Thurmont) by offering the Holy Sacrifice on Nov. 16, at the house of John Wilhide, where on Christmas day this year he said Mass twice, at six and at nine.

The records show that Rev. George Flaut was back at the College in 1856. David Whelan, William McCloskey and Henry McMurdie were elected to the Council this year, while David Walker, '55, first prefect, got a private room and was admitted a member of the Faculty.

Rev. William McCloskey declined a place in the Faculty this year and resigned his professorship, while Father Whelan didn't know if he would return next year, and Mr. Quinn resigning, Charles O'Leary became Professor of Greek at seven hundred dollars a year. He had previously taught natural science.

Rev. Wm. H. Elder, Professor of Theology, wrote resigning his membership in Council and Faculty. A committee was appointed to request him to withdraw it. We mention these facts in order to give an idea it can be but an idea of the difficulty of keeping up a faculty in a purely voluntary association of priests, and to suggest what a singular Providence has cared for the Mountain. Father Elder, however, was leaving to become a bishop and Father McMurdie succeeded him in theology, while Father William McCloskey, who had recalled his resignation, became director of the Seminary. Father McMurdie held this latter office when Father William McCloskey went to Rome in 1860 to become the first president of the American College there. Father John B. Byrne was director of the Seminary after Father McMurdie resigned this office.

July 9, 1856. A student, who seems to have been dismissed, writes to Dr. McCaffrey recording the "great pleasure and pride with which I witnessed the decision and promptitude that always marked your treatment of the ill-disposed among the boys (but few, it is true), sending off all such without hesitation for the public good. To this, as one great cause, I believe Mt. St. Mary's owes that extraordinary respect and affection felt for her by every American Catholic. ..."

Sept. 5, 1856. The rector of "Mount St. Mary's Jr." and "Little Mt. St. Mary's," as he calls the Cincinnati Seminary, writes to Dr. McCaffrey. We mention this fact just to call attention to the name.

Corpus Christi at the Mountain was the festival which, above all the rest perhaps inspired faith and devotion in those who were present at its celebration. One of them writes: "After the solemn celebration of the wonderfully beautiful Mass, composed by St. Thomas of Aquin and set to music by Dielman, the procession moved from the Mountain church to the grotto, a distance of nearly three hundred yards over a charming mountain walk through wild forest trees with their dense undergrowth, beautiful in their graceful shapes and leafy luxuriance and refreshing by the density and coolness of the shade they cast. The grotto is still, as of old, a favorite place for prayer and meditation. An impressive silence reigns, broken only by the low murmur of the rivulet that winds around its base or the gentle wind that sighs through the waving tree-tops.

"The line of procession was made up of the clergy, the ecclesiastical students, the College boys, the men of the congregation and the women and girls of the parish, who turned out in large numbers to adore the Lord and to receive His blessing. The canopy beneath which the Sacred Host was carried was borne by six of the students, and Benediction was given in due form at the grotto. It was an inspiring scene, this throng of devout worshipers of so many conditions of life, moving in reverential awe in the presence of God, whilst the glimmering lights, the sweet-scented incense, the flowers, the sacred ensigns and the noble canticles of the Church added to the effect. All who had the good fortune to be present were impressed in the happiest manner.

"This is the first time (1857) that this ceremony has been performed at the Grotto, and we but speak the sentiments of many when we express the hope that it will be repeated every year."

In those times there was an instruction after the Thursday morning Mass, and half an hour's spiritual reading every night before supper, generally done by Dr. McCaffrey himself. And the boys like the lives of the saints. "I remember how they liked 'St. Peter Claver's Life,'" says Father David Walker, '55, a prefect of those days, now a Jesuit priest; "I do not think a better spirit prevailed among the same number of boys in any college in the world." This priest says of Father John McCloskey: "He was one of nature's noblemen."

Besides the Philomathian, other similar societies flourished, decayed and died and rose again, as is the way. Such were the Mountain Literary Society, the Purcell, the Carroll, etc. Such associations flourished more, apparently, before newspapers and magazines became so numerous, because latterly it is difficult to present any information on ordinary topics, for the frequent editor has threshed out every subject usque ad nauseam, while formerly the diligent student of history and literature felt that he was furnishing needed and welcome knowledge to his hearers, who would be spurred on to imitate his zeal, and if so be to take opposite sides on great and interesting questions. In the latter years of the nineteenth century these societies waned throughout the country, and the athletic craze, as it was called, took possession of young America, and threatened to monopolize the minds and hearts of the students, who seemed disposed to think of nothing else, and set the title of " all-around athlete " far above all literary honors.

Rev. Francis B. Jamison, fifth President, wrote from St. Vincent's College, St. Louis, Mar. 31, 1857, telling how he had, as President, bought in the Romney property in Virginia and the Owings property in Baltimore, on which the College held mortgages from Dubois' day, and had later on transferred both to the College:

. . . Unless there is a statute of Virginia to the contrary, you can, I think, recover the land by paying taxes. Such is the law in every state. . . .

As to a visit to the Old Mount, hardly anything would give me greater pleasure. The old home is still dear, very dear to my heart's deepest and purest feelings; I sometimes look to the day when I may lay my bones in the hallowed spot where I so often prayed for the repose of those sleeping around me the more so as there is nothing now; either in persons or things at my old College home which excites unpleasant feelings. Mother Regina and cousin Ralph would prove an additional inducement. I sometimes think of quitting the task of teacher and living quietly on my income which is more than ample. Could I, if so determined, have a room and what the cost of my board, etc.? I teach here, without remuneration, a class of Ehetoric, including Poetry, Logic and Political Economy, a class of Latin, a class of Sacred Scripture twice a week and Sacred Elocution for the seminarians; and once a week a class of declamation for the college students. But I am getting tired of teaching, and I think seriously of devoting my time to literature, writing, etc. . . . Believe me, Mac, I wish you well. Success in your monumental enterprise and success to the Old Mount. Pray for me.

The Romney property above spoken of is referred to in a letter of March 9, 1857, from which we quote: "Many years ago Robert Patton, of Alexandria, Va., mortgaged 2,000 acres in Hampshire Co. to Father Dubois. In 1837 the mortgage was foreclosed by Father Jamison and bought under decree by the College. At a later period this land was sold for delinquent taxes by Angus Macdonald. Proof lies somewhere that he was fiduciary and beneficial (?) for original owner. Matter deserves special investigation. Land is worth ten or fifteen thousand dollars probably. Andrew W. Kercheval Romney, Hampshire Co., Virginia." (Robert and George Patton, of Alexandria, Va., were students here in 1826.)

June 5,1857. Father Rosecrans, later Bishop of Columbus, writes from Cincinnati that he had "fused with the Mountaineers through the influence of those by whom I am sur­rounded." The Abp. and many of his priests including the Vicar-General and the rector of the seminary were of the Mountain.

July 17, 1857. Bp. Spalding, of Louisville, writing to Dr. McCaffrey, says: "The Nolo episcopari has become a prevalent epidemic in the east, less dangerous, however, in its symptoms than the yellow and bone-breaking fever of Charleston. ..."

The question of the Charleston mitre seems still to be troubling the friends of Dr. McCaffrey, and Bishop McCloskey (Cardinal) writes him as follows, on April 11, 1857: "Had you accepted the mitre of Charleston I would have grieved for the sake of the Old Mountain. . . . Rome is tired of so many Americans refusing the mitre. Still you have the privilege of refusing except forced upon you by a positive command of the Holy Father. ..."

Abp. Hughes writes, April 23, 1857:

These things are in the hands of God and I confess that for His glory and the good of His Church I do prefer to see you at the head of Mount St. Mary's College, rather than see you Bishop of Charleston. Your position is more important, nor would I wish you ever to be disturbed from it except for some other that might require experience in the position which you have held. I agree with you that Mount St. Mary" s has been able to bear much, but there is such a thing as too much in testing the strength of an institution in itself so important to the general progress and propagation of religion in this country. I could almost regret the appointment of the Bt. Rev. Dr. Elder whose name is now so identified with the theological department of your Seminary. I have no doubt of his qualifications for the position to which he has been appointed, but I know something of the difficulties of procuring the right man for the right place and at the right time in connection with theological seminaries. . . . "

Dr. Elder, who had been consecrated May 2, departed for Natchez this year and at once began that wonderful episcopate: during forty-six years of suffering, toil, love of God and of man he shone like Onias before the priests and the people. Professor Beleke resigned in June, 1857, but returned in September.

Bishop Carrell wants priests and again writes: "I require two or three priests to travel about through poor districts 'priests,' as Bp. Spalding says, ' who can live on nothing and cook it themselves.' I have counties towards Tennessee which are full of young mountaineers, poor soil, poor tillers of the soil, and poor Catholics into the bargain."

Meanwhile Bishop Elder writes to Dr. McCaffrey:

Natchez, June 8, 1857.

Rt. Rev. and dear Friend: It is time for me to salute my old Mountain home from my new home on the hills of Natchez. You are just in your busiest season. But you can look forward to a good long rest after the bustle is over and gone. I hope you succeeded in getting Abp. Purcell to promise his presence and the sermon for the laying of the cornerstone. Little did I imagine when thinking often what a gathering of old Mountaineers there would be, and what a happy time little did I imagine that I was to be among the missing: drinking cistern water and dust, down here in latitude 31̊ 30 while "everybody else" would be up there under the shade of the Blue Ridge, with those fire iron ladles inviting you every moment to a good deep draught from the mountain spring. More than once did I think about the ceremonies of the occasion, and discuss whether I should undertake to direct them, or ask you to invite some one else more accustomed to such gatherings. If you could only spirit me back again, I think I would never let '' momentous questions'' of that kind give me so much bother any more. I am just beginning to appreciate Rev. Mr. McCloskey's enjoyment for the last twenty years of the daily bread of bills due, and notes maturing and insurances expiring, and repairs urging, etc., etc., etc. And I have not got fairly into business yet for I have not been outside of Natchez. I have not seen the Archbishop, but I learn from his letters that he has been saving us from bankruptcy, by paying some of our notes I do not know how many with his own funds I am beginning to penetrate the text, "Qui episcopatum desiderat."

But do not think now that I am in bad spirits. I am as lively as ever; indeed, to own the truth though perhaps the contrary would be more creditable to my feelings I have not yet felt homesick. Between the novelty of traveling and the engrossment of business though my thoughts many and many a time run back to the Mountain and St. Joseph's, yet they are soon brought back by something that demands my attention. Indeed with all the labor and perplexity that lies before me, I find so many things to please and give comfort beyond what I expected, that it seems to me it would be ungrateful to indulge in regrets as long as I can resist them. Everywhere on the road I met the greatest kindness. Here I have been received with the warmest welcome. Though the Cathedral looks indeed sadly desolate with its unplastered walls yet I like the building very much and the people express their willingness to do all that they can towards finishing it. Then my personal comfort is well provided for by a large and well arranged new brick house with wide porticoes in the rear; and a large yard around it, set with fruit-trees and shrubbery, very tastefully arranged. Above all I find the rector of the Cathedral, Rev. Mr. Grignon to be a young and zealous priest, with excellent judgment, great simplicity and sincerity and a good acquaintance with all the affairs of the Church. Just such a friend as I need.

. . . Natchez is a very beautiful town so far we have breezes almost continually. I will expect you here this fall when you go out on your begging tour. If you do not get much here, you can have a rest. Indeed I would be very happy if my friends from the Mountain would come down and just see what a fine place it is.

I hope Rev. Wm. McCloskey has not failed to talk to you about the preparatory seminary that we were building for the Mountain the morning I parted from him. I am every day more strongly convinced of the necessity of such seminaries and at the Mountain you could give a better education than they commonly give in them now and it would be the nursery for supplying you with theologians and teachers; and the earlier you begin the better. It would be less trouble and less expense and more comfortable to the whole character of the place than that provision for little boys. Little boys need other schools altogether.

Pardon me for writing so dogmatically. I am giving only suggestions which you can ponder and digest at leisure. Love to all: and my warmest blessing to the seminarians. Pray for yours affectionately, Wm. Henry E., Bp. N.

The new church, spoken of a little back, was intended for a memorial of Dubois and Brute’, the noble fathers of the College, and we quote a few lines from his own translation of a Latin poem read at the time by Dr. Pise:

Under auspices divine A commemorative shrine Is founded which shall stand secure Long as the mountain cliffs endure, Which forever shall proclaim Their praises and immortal name.

The details of the plan may be found in the Catholic Mirror, July 11, 1857. Archbishop Purcell laid the cornerstone June 23 and preached to a vast assemblage, clerical and lay.

Old Nace, a freedman of the College, who still lived here, wept and said: "I saw the laying of the cornerstone of the old mountain church, and now I have seen this one. My time is coming to an end; I won't be long here."He and Father Thomas MeCaffrey, the martyr of Emmitsburg, died within the same week, though several years apart. Father Corry, prefect of studies, preached at Nace's funeral and, with trembling voice and tearful eyes, said: "Father Thomas and Nace are now no more. When I pray for one I cannot but pray for the other. Now it is Nace's name that comes first to my lips, now it is that of Father Thomas; but couple them always I must. ..."

A spectator of the corner-stone laying tells that the collectors continuing to go around while the Archbishop was speaking, Dr. MeCaffrey bade them stop and not disturb him, whereupon Dr. Purcell said: "O no! Keep right on. I like to see the generosity of the people. The clink of the coin given for the Church of God is music to my ears and gives me new spirit."

At the Commencement, June 24th, 1857, there were six graduates. The prefects were : David B. Walker, William A. Smith, John Hickey, John G. Heffernan, Thomas Lonergan. The honors of the College were awarded to the following students : James E. Mclntire, Michael A. Corrigan, John H. Edwards, Chas. V. Luken, Walter C. Briscoe, St. Clair Johns, Basil J. Elder.

Mr. Morse, of Louisiana, Minister to Granada, addressed the graduates. "Mountaineers," he said, "make a mutual admiration society and constantly return to the center whence they came forth; like scoriae and bright and burning stones

When launched forth by their Alma Mater They still fall back to the dear old crater."

A future Justice of the U. S. Supreme Court and a Chief Justice in embryo of the Maryland Supreme Court were pupils at the Mountain in 1856-7. These were respectively Edward D. White, of Louisiana, and James McSherry (the " Receiver " of 1881), son of James McSherry, of the class of 1838, the historian of Maryland. Edward D. White was here in 1856-7, one year only; James McSherry was here from Sept., 1856, to June, 1861. They were classmates and would have graduated in 1863, and are examples of boys who reached eminent places even in the learned professions without the training usually required, for neither of them made a complete college course. Of McSherry we shall speak again further on.

The honor-man of the class of 1857 was James Mclntyre, who afterwards taught successfully at the College. He, a native of the mountains, was extremely plain and simple in dress and manners, taciturn and retiring, and used to ride five miles daily to teach, as he had done to learn. After resigning from the Faculty, he farmed and taught country schools till his death.

1856, June 18. Martin Gessner, who was destined as priest to do such splendid work for temperance as well as for the theological virtues, and for the cause of education in Elizabeth, New Jersey, was admitted to our Seminary. He came to our centennial festivity, being pastor of one of the finest churches in the Eastern States, his own erection, and taking active part in the training and teaching of the children in his great schools.

We saw in a letter of Brute', that he was interested in snakes. Father Obermeyer describes in a number of the New York Freeman's Journal about this time, Nov., 1856, a very curious fact that came under his observation in the old church on the hill. "Entering the church on a week-day when there was no service under way, I saw under the seat of the pew immediately in front of me a small black snake about eight inches long, having a bright yellow ring about its neck, suspended by the tail from a cobweb which was formed under the pew-seat. The snake was alive and when hanging at full length, its head reached within two or three inches of the floor but never touched it. The cobweb where it was attached to the pew was about eight or ten inches in diameter and had the form of an inverted cone, to the lower part of which the tail of the snake was fastened by having many cobwebs wrapt around it. In the farthest part of the web the spider had a place of retreat from which it every few minutes sallied forth to attack its disabled victim. Such was the condition of things when my attention was first attracted to it. The snake lay at full length and quiet except when the spider would come down and sting its tail. It would then twist and writhe and attempt to raise its head up to where the spider had wounded it. Then the spider would again retreat to the hole in the upper part of the web. For half an hour I watched this curious performance, seeing the same attacks and retreats repeated over and over again.

'' Twenty-four hours after, accompanied by a friend, I returned to the interesting spot and found the snake, spider and web in the same condition I had left them, only that the snake was almost exhausted, showing little vitality after the repeated attacks of its tormentor. We took the snake, spider and web, and put them in alcohol to be preserved as a curiosity.

''By what process of engineering did the comparatively small and feeble insect succeed in lifting the snake through mechanical means? The solution is easy enough if one only gives the question a little thought.

''The spider is furnished with one of the most efficient mechanical implements known to engineers, namely a strong elastic thread. There are few substances that will support a greater strain than the silk of the spider. Careful experiment has shown that for equal sizes the strength of these fibres exceeds that of common iron; but notwithstanding its strength, the spider's thread would be useless as a mechanical power if it were not for its elasticity. The spider has no blocks or pulleys and therefore cannot cause the thread to divide up and run in different directions, but the elasticity of the thread more than makes up for this and renders possible the lifting of an animal much heavier than a snake.

"Let us suppose that a child can lift a six-pound weight one foot high, and can do it twenty times a minute. Furnish him with 350 rubber bands, each capable of pulling six pounds through one foot when stretched. Let these bands be attached to a wooden platform on which stand a pair of horses weighing 2100 pounds, or rather more than a ton.

"If now the child will go to work and stretch these rubber bands singly hooking each one up as it is stretched, in less than 20 minutes he will have raised a pair of horses one foot.

"The elasticity of the rubber bands enables the child to divide the weight of the horses into 350 pieces of six pounds each, at the rate of a little less than one every three seconds he lifts all these several pieces one foot, so that the child easily lifts the enormous weight.

''Each spider" s thread acts like one of the elastic rubber bands. The spider would have to connect the snake with the point from which it was suspended by a sufficient number of threads. By pulling successively on each thread and shortening it a little the snake might be raised to any height within the capacity of the building in which the work was done." Father Obermeyer had the teaching gift.

Chapter 46 | Chapter Index

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