The Catholic World Volume Iii Part 156

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From The Dublin University Magazine.


Upon a rose-tree bending o'er a river A bird from spring to summer gaily sang; For love of its sweet friend, the rose, for ever Its beating heart with happy music rang, In sunshine warm and moonlight by the sh.o.r.e, Whose waves afar its voice melodious bore, Blent with its own. But when, alas! the sere Grey autumn came, withering those blooms so dear, Still full of love but full of sadness too, Changed the sweet song as changed the rose's hue Mourning each day some rich leaf disappear Until the last had dropped into the stream, Anguished by wintry breezes blowing keen.

Then, on the bough forlorn, mute as a dream.

Awhile the poor bird clung, and soon was seen no more.


From Once a Week.



It was in the afternoon of Friday, the 23d of March, that Rome heard of the death of the "learned and venerable Tosti." This aged cardinal, long the director of the great establishment of San Michele, (which is a hospital and school combined,) had attained to nearly ninety years.

Now he was dead, and laid out in state in his own room at San Michele, whither we went about five o'clock, and, threading the vast corridors, which run round a court blossoming with oranges and lemons, ascending a long flight of stone stairs, got into upper regions filled with a perceptible hum, soldier sentinels stationed by the opened doors, who motioned us on from room to room till we came to the last of all.

These rooms were perfectly empty of all furniture, save a few book-cases under gla.s.s; but the yellow satin walls of one, and the delicately-tinted panels of another, showed that they had but lately formed the private apartments of him who was gone. Three or four temporary altars were erected in the empty s.p.a.ce, adorned by tall unlighted candles. A thrill crept over us as we neared that last open door, a silent sentinel at either side; as we crossed the antechamber, and came in a direct line with the aperture, we saw a figure, splendidly attired, reposing on a great sloping couch of cloth of gold. The face of this figure indicated extreme age; the brow was surmounted by the bright scarlet berretta, which caught the light from the setting sun. The shrunken frame was clothed in the soft purple of its ecclesiastical rank. The hands were crossed and held a crucifix; the feet were turned up in new and pointed shoes. There he lay, Cardinal Tosti, who for five-and-twenty years was the handsomest of all the Sacred Conclave, and towered above his brethren when they walked in procession, drawing the admiration of beholders.

There was no sound, as we knelt by the dead man's couch; through the window could be seen the swift Tiber, swollen by the recent rains, and on the other side of the river rose the green slopes of the half-deserted Aventine, with its few solitary churches, Santa Sabina, Santa Alessio, and its gracious crown of trees. Here had Tosti dwelt for many a year, in rooms which looked to the golden west. Here he occupied himself with his books, and with the school for industrial and artistic pursuits which was due to his efforts at San Michele. I have never seen anything so marvellously picturesque and impressive as that dead man, lying on his couch of cloth of gold, the closing scene of a long life, which stretched back far beyond the wars of the first Napoleon, even to the period when Papal Rome received the royal refugees of the French Revolution.

Presently, a group of white-robed priests entered, and began reciting the office for the dead. This was the signal for the gathering of a little crowd of Romans. Brown-cowled monks, peasant women with their children in arms, boys and girls with large wondering dark eyes.

Together they crowded to the door of the dead man's chamber, and knelt upon the floor, so that above and {852} beyond their bowed heads could be seen that pale splendor upon its shining couch. We left with reluctant footsteps, feeling a fascination in the picture which it is hard to describe.

Late in the evening, an hour after the _Ave_, the corpse was to be conveyed by torch-light to Santa Cecilia, the cardinal's t.i.tular church; and at Santa Cecilia we found ourselves in the starry night.

The torches were just entering the church as we drove up; and for some minutes the doors were inexorably shut, and we feared we had lost all chance of an entrance. But we were presently admitted, and saw indeed a striking scene! The small church of Santa Cecilia in Trastevere, famous as being built upon the site of the young martyr's dwelling, was draped in black and gold from ceiling to pavement, and where the altar-piece is generally to be seen was a great flat gold cross on a black ground. The sanctuary was greatly enlarged for the morrow's service, and hung with black; and in the nave, not very far from the great portal, rose a large empty couch, exactly resembling that which we had seen in the cardinal's private chamber. At its foot was a low bier, whereon now lay the same white image of a man in its purple robes, and a group of attendants crowded reverentially around it, flashing torches in their hands, which formed a centre of light in the dark church, reminding one of the famous Correggio; only, instead of the new-born Babe, the illumination of humanity for all time to come, was the aged dead, no longer capable of communicating the living light of intelligence or of faith, but lying in a pale reflection under the torches, and gathering into itself all the meaning of the whole scene.

We perceived that something remarkable was about to take place, and retired discreetly behind a pillar, that our accidental presence might attract no notice. The truth was, that the cardinal was about to be laid out for the great funeral service of the morrow; and by chance we had gained admission at this purely private hour. The body was taken on the little bier into the sacristy, and there we supposed that some change was made in the raiment; when it was brought back the hands were gloved, and instead of the scarlet berretta was a plain skull-cap. Then, with difficulty and much consultation, but with perfect reverence of intention, the straight image was lifted on to the great couch; the a.s.sistant men being grouped on ladders, and an eager voluble monsignore directing the whole. The ladders, the torch-light, the mechanical difficulty of the operation, again reminded me of one of those great depositions in which the actual scene of the Cross is so vividly brought out by art. At length the dead cardinal lay placidly upon his cloth of gold, and they fetched his ring to put upon his hand, and his white mitre wherewith to clothe his gray hairs. We left them performing the last careful offices, making the strangest, the most gorgeous torch-light group in the middle of that dark church that poet or artist could conceive.

The next morning the Pope and the College of Cardinals came to officiate at the funeral ma.s.s. The square court in front of Santa Cecilia was filled with an eager crowd of Romans and _Forestieri_, with the splendid costumes of the Papal Guard, with prancing horses and old-fashioned chariots, gorgeous with gilding and color. They were much such a company of equipages as may be seen in our Kensington Museum, but so fresh and well-appointed in spite of the extreme antiquity of their design, that one felt as if carried back to the days of Whittington, Lord Mayor of London. Into Santa Cecilia itself we could not penetrate, by reason of the crowd and the stern vigilance of the soldiers, who, attired in the red-and-yellow costume designed by Michael Angelo, kept a considerable s.p.a.ce in the nave empty for the moment when the Pope should walk from the altar to the bier. But {853} through the open door we saw the lights upon the black-draped altar and in front of that gorgeous couch, with its motionless occupant, his white mitre being now the conspicuous point in the picture. And when the Pope left the dim church and came out into the sunshine, the brilliant rays fell upon his venerable white hair and scarlet cap, while the weapons flashed and the crowd shouted, as he ascended his wonderful chariot with the black horses, and drove away.


_Microscopic Plants the Cause of Ague_.--Owing to the prevalence of ague in the malarial district of Ohio and Mississippi, Dr. Salisbury undertook a series of experiments in 1862, with a view to determine the microscopic characters of the expectorations of his patients. He commenced his experiments by examining the mucous secretions of those patients who had been most submitted to the malaria, and in these he detected a large amount of low forms of life, such as algae, fungi, diatomaceae, and desmidiae. At first he imagined that the presence of these organisms might be accidental, but repeated experiments convinced him that some of them were invariably a.s.sociated with ague.

The bodies which are constantly present in such cases he describes as being "minute oblong cells, either single or aggregated, consisting of a distinct nucleus, surrounded with a smooth cell-wall, with a highly clear, apparently empty s.p.a.ce between the outer cell-wall and the nucleus." From these characters Dr. Salisbury concludes that the bodies are not fungi, but belong properly to the algae, in all probability being species of the genus _Palmella_. Whilst the diatomaceae and other organisms were found to be generally present the bodies just described were not found above the level at which the ague was observed. In order to ascertain exactly their source, he suspended plates of gla.s.s over the water in a certain marsh which was regarded as unhealthy. In the water which condensed upon the under surface of these plates, he found numerous palmella-like structures, and on examining the mould of the bog, he found it full of similar organisms.

From repeated researches Dr. Salisbury concludes: (1.) Cryptogamic spores are carried aloft above the surface at night, in the damp exhalations which appear after sunset (2.) These bodies rise from thirty to sixty feet, never above the summit of the damp night-exhalations, and ague is similarly limited. (3.) The day-air of ague districts is free from these bodies.

_Use of Lime in Extracting Sugar_.--Peligot long ago demonstrated that owing to the insoluble nature of the compound formed of lime with sugar, the former substance would be a most valuable agent in the manufacture of the latter. Peligot's suggestion is now being carried out on a large scale in MM. Schrotter and Wellman's sugar-factory at Berlin. The mola.s.ses is mixed with the requisite quant.i.ty of hydrate of lime and alcohol in a large vat, and intimately stirred for more than half an hour. The lime compound of sugar which separates is then strained off, pressed, and washed with spirit. All the alcohol used in the process is afterward recovered by distillation. The mud-like precipitate thus produced is mixed with water and decomposed with a current of carbonic acid, which is effected in somewhat less than half an hour. The carbonate of lime is removed by filtration, and the clear liquid, containing the sugar, evaporated, decolorized with animal charcoal, and crystallized in the usual manner. The sugar furnished by this method has a very clear appearance, and is perfectly crystalline.

It contains, according to polarization a.n.a.lysis, sixty-six per cent of sugar, twelve per cent of water, the remainder being uncrystallizable organic matter and salts. The yield, of course, varies with the richness and degree of concentration of the raw material; on an average, thirty pounds of sugar were obtained from one hundred pounds of mola.s.ses.


_Russian Coal Resources_.--Recent explorations and surveys appear to show that the Russian coal resources are much vaster even than those of the United States of America. In the Oural district coal has been found in various places, both in the east and west sides of the mountain-chain; its value being greatly enhanced by the fact that an abundance of iron is found in the vicinity. There is an immense basin in the district of which Moscow is the centre, which covers an area of one hundred and twenty thousand square miles, which is therefore nearly as large as the entire bituminous coal area of the United States. The coal region of the Don is more than half as large as all of our coal measures. Besides these sources, coal has lately been discovered in the Caucasus, Crimea, Simbirsk, the Kherson, and in Poland.


Medical Recollections Of The Army Of The Potomac.

By Jonathan Letterman, M.D., late Surgeon U.S.A., and Medical Director of the Army of the Potomac. New York: D. Appleton & Co. 8vo, pp. 194.

The preface to this volume announces the intention of its author: "It is written in the hope that the labors of the medical officers of the army may be known to an intelligent people, with whom to know is to appreciate; and as an affectionate tribute to many, long my zealous and efficient colleagues, who, in days of trial and danger which have pa.s.sed, let us hope never to return, evinced their devotion to their country and the cause of humanity without hope of promotion or expectation of reward." It is a sketch of the Medical Department of the army of the Potomac under Dr. Letterman's administration, from July, 1862, to January, 1864, and affords a concurrent view of the military movements of that army during the period specified.

Without infringing upon military details properly so called, an excellent general idea is given of the battles fought, and the strategic value of the great changes of position which were executed with such remarkable prompt.i.tude and precision.

Dr. Letterman confines himself strictly to the period of his own administration, and the account of the alterations and improvements introduced under his direction, and chiefly through his means, in the working of the medical department.

The system which he adopted became the system substantially of all the armies of the United States, and with occasional modifications to suit particular occasions has proved to be the best and most efficient as well as manageable that could have been devised. To Dr. Letterman belongs the great praise of having studiously and laboriously perfected the principles and details of these changes, and succeeded in securing their recognition and enforcement.

The total inadequacy of the old system was painfully obvious to all competent and thoughtful observers at the breaking out of the war. It was especially so to those who were placed in responsible executive positions at the front, while the authority in the rear remained bound to its old ideas, and incapable of understanding the great issues involved, and the expenditure of independent intelligence and _material_ necessary to accomplish any adequate result. The immediate consequence was an unnecessary waste of life, of national strength and resources, and an amount of misery inflicted and suffering endured which can never be computed and had best now be dismissed for ever.

These causes led early in the war to the appointment of a young, vigorous, bold, and undeniably able man as Surgeon-General. He made a complete reformation in the department, and shared the fate of reformers. He was sacrificed as a victim to the genius of indifference, neglect, parsimony, and cruelty, which had hitherto held undisputed or but feebly disputed sway over the fallen on battlefields and the sick of armies. {855} This is not the time or place to discuss ex-Surgeon-General Hammond; but it is due to him at all hands, that he has probably been the means of mitigating the horrors of war as respects the sick and wounded, and promoting the sacred cause of humanity in these particulars to a greater degree than any man who ever lived. The magnitude of the reforms accomplished, the magnificent scale on which preparation was made, and the courage to order the necessary expenditures in the face of the time-honored but mean and timid traditions of the Surgeon-General's office, and the habits of thought and action engendered thereby in the bureaus of administration and supply, cannot be appreciated until some learned and philosophical physician shall write the medical history of the war from its humane and social points of view.

We are disposed to give Dr. Letterman all the merit which his book would seem to claim, and a much higher degree of praise than his well-known modesty would expect, but we cannot pa.s.s over in silence the gigantic and unrequited labors of his predecessor, Colonel Chas.

S. Tripler, Surgeon U.S.A., the first Medical Director of the army of the Potomac, which paved the way for the improved methods Dr.

Letterman had the honor of introducing. We are aware that many of the most important were in contemplation, and if we mistake not, the ambulance system originated with Dr. Tripler. The terrible experiences of the Seven Days and the Chickahominy opened the eyes of the military authorities to the tremendous necessities of the case, and made the work of medical reform comparatively easy. There is no teacher like suffering, for Generals as well as _mortals_.

The military mind is to a great degree governed by the traditions of the middle ages, when surgery was an ign.o.ble because ignorant and consequently cruel craft. The rights and privileges of rank have been slowly and reluctantly conceded, and every effort has been made to deprive the surgeon of the dignity which belongs to the combatant and a partic.i.p.ation in common toils and dangers. These prejudices have given way rapidly during the late war, where the courage, skill, and self-sacrificing charity of medical officers have been most conspicuous. Many surgeons have proved their manhood in most trying scenes, and have certainly stood fire as well as the line and staff.

The record of killed and wounded places them on a level with any staff corps in these respects.

Military prejudice in the regular army, and the ignorance, stupidity, and arrogance of many volunteer officers, were an obstacle to the medical department in the beginning. They gradually gave way under the steady pressure of intelligence, courage, and determination, till in the end ambulances became as much respected as battery wagons, and every able and good officer the friend, supporter, and defender of the medical department.

Dr. Letterman has done an excellent service to his profession at large by his book, which is another vindication of the claims of legitimate medicine upon the respect, confidence, and grat.i.tude of the public.

The work is well written and handsomely issued. It is a great subject, and capable of being developed to a much, higher degree in extent and scope, which we hope Dr. Letterman will have time and opportunity to do.


This periodical emanates from the venerable and cla.s.sic shades of Yale University, and is edited by some of the younger professors, two of whom are inheritors of the distinguished names of Dwight and Kingsley.

It is marked by the refined literary taste, polished style, and amenity of spirit which are characteristic of the New Haven circle of scientific and clerical gentlemen. There is very much in the general tone of its principles and tendencies which gives us pleasure and awakens our hope for the future. We may indicate particularly, as ill.u.s.trations of our meaning, the principle of the divine inst.i.tution and authority of government; the sympathy manifested with an ideal and spiritual system of philosophy, and the decided opposition to the new English school of anti-biblical rationalism.

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The Catholic World Volume Iii Part 156 summary

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