Billeder på siden
PDF
ePub
[ocr errors]

but at the close of the war retired his life the ancient truth, “the befrom the bar, except as to some lieving wife shall convert the unspecial cases. While arguing one believing husband," and the imof these in the Supreme Court, he pressive and constantly palpable fell into a fainting fit from debility, fact, that the influence of a lively and for awhile it seemed likely practical faith exhibited in the that he would die at the spot which family, Christian household or sohad witnessed so many of his cial circle, will ultimately tell upon foreusic triumphs, but he was yet all around it, and finally his story spared for an incomparably greater proves in the success which attend. and crowning honor.

ed him through life, crowned at We have thus hastily sketched last by the gift of faith, that “to Mr. Ewing's career, that the him who loves God all things work grandeur of his power, the integrity together for good;" that "to him of bis aims, the unflinching consist- who seeks first the kingdom of God ency of his actions with those aims, and his justice, all things else shall the moral purity of his character, be added unto him." unblemished by thought, speech or We have seen what a hold religion act which could call up on his own held upon Mr. Ewing as a boy. His cheeks, or those of his friends, the purely moral efforts had the effect faintest blush of shame; his almost, of winning for him the grace of an imperious social dignity, which exemption from the social vices commanded the high respect of all, and distinguishing weaknesses of while it prevented him from be- great men, and mayhap the still coming a demagogue, or “popular greater happiness of a Catholic wife, idol," might serve as a brilliant who, if we are to judge by the rich background to that higher element domestic happiness and exalted soof his character which prompted cial dignity which she shed around all these natural qualifications with him, by the influence of her mema grace-like power to their fullest ory exerted upon him long after the development, namely, his long and grave had closed her from his sight, sincere search for the truth, which, by the large family of children prompted by a sincere love for Him who survived her, and illustrated who made and redeemed him, could her worth by the steadfastness of not be turned aside from its pur- their faith and the brilliancy of their suit by any weakness of human public name, must, indeed, have respect, or the treacherous opinions been one of Solomon's 66 valiant of a deluding and tyrannical world. women.” In 1820 he married Maria, How true it seems that the faith- daughter of Hugh Boyle, of Lanlessness of the house of Israel shall caster, a devout adherent of the cause the sceptre to pass from it. Church, and distinguished by her How shameful to our generations piety and charity. She seems to of modern and “liberal” American have been immediately successful Catholics, blushing to be known as in turning his religious inclinations possessors of the grand old faith of directly upon the path of truth, for Jesus Christ, while noble-minded it is said that in the early part of Protestants, exemplified by such his legal career he would, when atmen as Ewing, are by thousands tending court at a distance from and tens of thousands crushing home, frequently ride on Saturday worldly considerations and mental and Saturday night forty or fifty trials under the heel of merited con- miles in order to be at home on tempt, to reach the goal of faith for Sunday to attend church with his which they so ardently long. How family, and when, in after years, he beautifully, too, is demonstrated in was incapacitated from sickness or

can

infirmity, he would sit at the win- knew from all eternity that the dow with his face towards the Blessed Virgin was to be the mother church, joining in spirit in the ado- of his Son, Ile must have made and rable sacrifice, and greeting his preserved her pure and perfect behomeward coming children with the yond all others.” His son, Phileblessing of a paternal smile as they mon Beecher Ewing, has declared neared the family mansion. He that he had the best opportunities eren had a luxuriant lilac bush in of observing the grace and predi. his garden cut down because it im- lection which he bore through all peded his view of the church. On his life in the elevation and purity one occasion he warned his daugh- of mind which adorned him, even ter, Mrs. Sherman, against permit- more than the strength and vigor of ting her second son, Thomas, to his intellect; and Judge Ewing thus associate with a certain family, continues: “Through a period of whose acquaintance was not only more than thirty years I was much desirable but advantageous, but with him in the most intimate and who had ridiculed the lad for not confidential relations, through all eating meat on Friday, saying that the vicissitudes of his political, prothe boy was not old enough or suffi- fessional, and social life, and ciently matured in mind to resist say with confidence that never in my such pernicious railleries. He also whole life did I hear from his lips forbade her from sending her chil- a profane or irreverent word. All dren to the public schools, saying that I ever saw or knew of him left that none of his grandchildren the reverent conviction that not his should ever attend them while he words only, but his thoughts, might was able to prevent it. What do be photographed and read without our progressive Catholics who wish impeachment of his observance of their children taught from Protes- every known trust or duty, and tant books, or reared under secta- without confusion in the presence rian influences, think of an Amer- of the purest and best among men.” ican statesman, a Protestant, and an For more than twenty-five years old line Whig, giving such an opin- he kept always about him, even on ion of our glorious modern enlight- his journeys, a little copy of Thomas eners? What do our worldly Cath. à Kempis, presented to him by his olies think upon his views of social lifelong friend, Archbishop Purcell, advantages for their children at the and his servant mentions the risk of the soul's salvation? What deep impression made on him by do heedless Catholic parents think his master's assiduity in reading it of his views of their children hav- during the long nights of his last ing a large circle of acquaintances years. without regard to the morals of that In common with the Whig statescircle? We will pause later for a men of his day, though unlike many reply.

of them from moral as well as poFifteen years before Mr. Ewing's litical motives, he was zealously opdeath the wife of an eminent jurist posed to secret societies, saying in Washington engaged Mrs. Sher- that they were totally unnecessary man in conversation on religion, and anywhere, and contrary to the spirit desired at a future occasion to renew of American institutions. During it, but she refused to do so, because the great political canvass of 1856 the lady had spoken disrespectfully he wrote thus to a friend : of the Blessed Virgin. On recount

LANCASTER, Oct. 24, 1856. ing the matter to her father, he

MY DEAR SIR:

I have yours of the 20th, and, like you, replied, after much agitation, “You I am slow to learn the tricks of our new should have told her that as God political parties. I cannot vote for Buchanan nor Fremont, for reasons which charities towards the Church were you will readily appreciate, nor can I

commensurate with his affection, vote for Fillmore, for although once a Whig he has abandoned the Whig party

and he was largely instrumental in and become a Know-Nothing, of which the erection of St. Mary's Church I know nothing that is good and much at Lancaster. A question having that is evil. I will, therefore, give no arisen as to the kind of material to vote at the coming election.

be used in building the main altar, I am, very truly yours,

T. EWING.

it had been suggested that it should

be neither of wood nor marble, but Mr. Ewing, in delaying his ad- of the rich brown sandstone of the mission to the Church, was not ac- Lancaster quarries, in order that tuated by any motives of worldly the adorable sacrifice might be respect, and while his affections had offered from an altar built of the always in life been given to Catho- rock furnished by nature, and that licity, his convictions, as is fre- this material would be richer in orquently the case with men of intel- namentation than either wood or lect, refused follow his heart, yet marble. This suggestion did not with the earnestness of one who meet with favor from any one until would not be rebuffed with such it was presented to Mr. Ewing. He difficulties, he made a careful study approved it warmly, and said he of the history, doctrines, and dis- would give for the purpose the cipline of the Church. His acquaint- "chestnut tree rock" on his farmance with ecclesiastical history, and a huge square block of stone that with the writings of the early fath- had, in a remote age, been torn ers, was profound, and in reviewing from its place in the ridge beyond Dr. Huntington's “Gropings after by some giant force in nature, and Truth,” he took exception to its placed altar-like on the crest of the completeness because it did not hill that stood out from its neighrefer to the effect the Church had bors, and overlooked the valley for conferred upon society by her de- miles on either hand, and he said votion to the Blessed Virgin, her that doubtless it had been set apart consequent elevation of woman, and from the ledge more years than he the institution of the family. Two could tell, to harden and bleach for or three years before his death, Fa- this purpose. ther Stonestreet, the well-known During a social discussion on the pastor of St. Aloysius Jesuit Church, question of Papal Infallibility, Mr. Washington, called upon him, and Ėwing declared that it is a logispoke of the subject of religion. cal necessity, and the trouble is Some time after, referring to his not in believing but in disbelievinterview with the venerable states. ing.” A few days before his death man, he said to his daughter, “I he said to his son, General Hugh am old and gray-haired myself, but Ewing, “ The young man is fortuI sat with reverence before your nate and happy who has Catholic father, and from his conversation faith, it is so firm and living; he I can only say he is very near may err, but if his faith remain the kingdom of heaven.” Some unshaken he will come back. The time before this Mr. Ewing had him- priests of the Church can alone self said that his family could not guide young men." Yet from a too be more anxious for him to have exalted and exaggerated sense of the faith than he himself was to his responsibility to God, he still possess it, and in his last hours he lingered on the threshold of the feelingly spoke to his children of temple. A few months before his the great blessing they had enjoyed death, he received a letter from in its lifelong possession. His Archbishop Purcell, penned, as

mam

the writer stated, after Mass, and you can say to me in sincerity and after placing his forehead in the truth, that you believe all the docdust, on his knees, on the vigil of trines of the Holy Catholic Church the festival of the unbelieving and and that you repent of all the sins believing St. Thomas Apostle. The of your past life, and beg pardon letter was written on the occasion of God for them: say this to me in of the marriage of General Hugh God's holy presence, and that is all Ewing, at Mt. Vernon, Ohio. To that will be necessary in your feethis Mr. Ewing replied, reiterating ble state, before giving you the his affection for the Church, but bread of life.” The dying man readding that he still had difficulties sponded fervently and solemnly, which one educated in the faith that he could truly say he had a could hardly appreciate, and he firm faith in the Church, a hope in added, “ I am satisfied that the the Redeemer, a love of God, and Christian religion is the greatest a sincere contrition, adding, “ All

, boon, moral and social, that heaven this I can say from the bottom of ever bestowed on man. This is to my heart, and I will be most happy me the highest evidence of its to receive the Holy Host." The truth, which would be lost if we re- absolution was conferred, and then pudiate the Catholic Church, by resounded through the room those which it was originally taught and solemn words, “ Corpus Domini has been transmitted through ages.nostri Jesu Christi custodiat aniThe boon so long denied, however, tuam in vitam æternam.to the prayers of his children and Peacefully and calmly he lingered his own wishes, came at last in his yet a few days, and on Thursday, dying hours. For several days October 26th, 1871, surrounded by before his death he seemed to yearn all his children, amid the variegated with a restless earnestness for this coruscations of an autumn sunset, precious gift. Father Dominic the brilliant career of Thomas EwYoung was frequently beside him, ing closed as richly and as gently but the dying statesman was un- as sunk the dying orb of day. His able to make his confession, or re- funeral was, by a happy coincidence, ceive holy communion. Fortu- blessed with the presence of two nately, however, the Archbishop great apostles of the faith in the arrived, early on the afternoon of forest wilds, Father Dominic Young the 21st of October, at the church of Washington, nephew of Riglit in Lancaster, and without waiting Reverend Edward Fenwick, first for any invitation, donned his pur- Bishop of Cincinnati, who had marple cassoek, pectoral cross and ried Jr. Ewing, and the venerable stole, and bearing the blessed sac- Archbishop Purcell, who is still rament, arrived at the Ewing man- happy, ruling the queen diocese of sion just as Judge Philemon Ewing the West, and who preached to a . was passing out to seek the priest. large and distinguished concourse Entering the sick man's chamber, the funeral sermon. the venerable prelate bent over the In person, Mr. Ewing was largely equally venerable patriot, present- built, with a figure developed by ing a scene worthy an artist's pen- early physical labor, and crowned cil, as holding up the sacred ele- with a dome-like” head. that marie ments, he exclaimed, " Mr. Ewing, the observer immerliately compare I bave come to bring you the crown- him to one of the giant oaks of his ing blessing of your life, the body native forests: an external granand blood of your divine Redeemer; deur of mien that served but to imI know that you are now too ill to press the beholder more fully with make a regular confession, but if the massive nobility of the soul

66

within. And if our brief recital of ples of action, then not in vain will his life will but add a little spark Thomas Ewing have lived and of generous enthusiasm to those died; then not in vain will his who, in the language of a recent story have been handed down to Catholic critic, - need an education future generations, while he himself which will lift them above low and enjoys the reward of one who"waitpetty aims, and cause them to take ing served,” since his sentiments an interest in things of an unselfish concerning the Church and her kind, those who must be taught teachings, enunciated while he yet that worth is better than success, delayed outside her boundaries, and and honor better than wealth, whó coming from a man of such gifted must be taught to outgrow the nar- powers and large experience, canrow calculating spirit of the huck- not fail to fall on the ears of laxster and shopkeeper,” and we may minded Catholics as the warning add, the disposition to use a weak tones of a solemn prophecy; the man's weakest weapons, a super- more likely to be appreciated be. cilious smile or a contemptuous cause the prophet was not of their sneer at moral grandeur; enthusi- own country. asm in noble aims and bigh princi

AD MAJOREM DEI GLORIAM.*

As I was travelling through The front door was shut, but I France, some years ago, I stopped found an entrance through a side for one night, or rather for half a alley called Impasse des Capucins. day and a night, at an old-fashion- On the opposite side from the ed hotel, in the ancient provincial church ran a long strip of building town of D.; a place abounding in with a conventual appearance, on traces of the piety of former ages. the frontispiece of which was inAt every turn the eye is met either scribed the word Hospice. At the by a venerable tower, or what looks farthest end of the impasse stood like the wall of a cloister or a a small gable-ended house, covered church, in some cases dismantled with a trellised vine, and separated and converted into a storehouse, from the street by a little garden or an imposing gateway bespeak literally choked up with roses, tall ing the importance of the place in white lilies, and an abundance of bygone days. After wandering mignonette. After spending an some time about the streets, and, hour in church, partly in prayer from a terrace shaded by planes and partly in examining its curious and aged elms, enjoying the re- architecture and quaint carvings, I freshing breeze and the sight of a came out, and saw a lady standing perfect sea of waving corn, bound- at the gate of that little garden. I ed in the distance by vine-clad stepped forward to ask her at what hills, I retraced my steps, and went o'clock mass was said on weekdays to a church I had noticed on ny at St. Cyprien, for that was the way from the hotel.

name of the old church, which had

once been attached to the monas* The idea of this little tale is derived from tery now turned into an hospice. one in M. E. de Margerie's Contes d'un Promeneur. Published by Bray, 66 Rue des Saint Pères, Paris.

She answered in so kind and

« ForrigeFortsæt »