Page images

6. For all men owned his errand,

And paid his righteous tax;
And the hearts of lord and peasant

Were in his hands as wax.

7. At last, outbound from Tunis,

His bark her anchor weighed,
Freighted with seven score Christian souls

Whose ransom he had paid.

8. But, torn by Paynim hatred,

Her sails in tatters hung ;
And on the wild waves, rudderless,

A shattered hulk she swung.

9. “God save us !” cried the captain,

“For nought can man aavil ; Oh, woe betide the ship that lacks

Her rudder and her sail.

10. “Behind us are the Moormen;

At sea we sink or strand;
There's death upon the water,

There's death upon the land !”

11. Then up spake John de Matha:

“God's errands never fail !
Take thou the mantle which I wear,

And make of it a sail.”

12. They raised the cross-wrought mantle,

The blue, the white, the red ;
And straight before the wind off-shore

The ship of Freedom sped.

13. “God help us !" cried the seamen,

“For vain is mortal skill; The good ship on a stormy sea

Is drifting at its will.”

14. Then up spake John de Matha :

“My mariners, never fear! The Lord whose breath has filled her sail

May well our vessel steer !”

15. So on through storm and darkness

They drove for weary hours;
And lo! the third gray morning shone.

On Ostia's friendly towers.

16. And on the walls the watchers

The ship of mercy knew-
They knew far off its holy cross,

The red, the white, and blue.

17. And the bells in all the steeples

Rang out in glad accord,
To welcome home to Christian soil

The ransomed of the Lord.

18. So runs the ancient legend

By bard and painter told ;
And lo! the cycle round again,

The new is as the old.

19. With rudder foully broken,

And sails by traitors torn,
Our country on a midnight sea

Is waiting for the morn.

20. Before her, nameless terror;

Behind, the pirate foe;
The clouds are black above her,

The sea is white below.

21. The hope of all who suffer,

The dread of all who wrong,
She drifts in darkness and in storm,

How long, O Lord ! how long?

22. But courage, O my mariners !

Ye shall not suffer wreck
While up to God the freedman's prayers

Are rising from your deck.

23. Is not your sail the banner

Which God hath blest anew,
The mantle that De Matha wore,

The red, the white, the blue ?

24. Its hues are all of heaven

The red of sunset's dye,
The whiteness of the moonlit cloud,

The blue of morning's sky.

25. Wait cheerily, then, O mariners,

For daylight and for land,
The breath of God is in your sail,

Your rudder is His hand.

26. Sail on, sail on, deep-freighted

With blessings and with hopes ;
The saints of old with shadowy hands

Are pulling at your ropes.

27. Behind you, holy martyrs

Uplift the palm and crown;
Before you, unborn ages send

Their benediction down.

28. Take heart from John de Matha !

God's errands never fail !
Sweep on through storm and darkness,

The thunder and the hail !

29. Sail on! the morning cometh ;

The port ye yet shall win ;
And all the bells of God shall ring

The good ship bravely in !


1. In the early part of the 16th century, there appeared on the stage of action, in Europe, two characters whose names deserve a place in history. One was a monarch, whose power and influence were vastly greater than those of any other living prince. He ruled, with a sway all but absolute, over vast millions of the most industrious, enlightened, and opulent peoples of Europe. No other commander could bring such well-trained hosts into the battle-field ; no other financier could command such untold sums of treasure. And Europe alone would not have equaled one-half the extent of his territories.

2. His name was pronounced with awe in all quarters of the globe. The swarthy East Indian and the copper-colored American, in their own distant but gorgeous homes, did homage to the mighty emperor. His tables were adorned and his treasury filled with gold wrung from the unwilling but feeble grasp of Inca and Aztec. The mines of Mexico and Peru swelled his shining stores to an unapproachable magnitude.

3. His men-of-war and merchant ships every where whitened the sea; the former invincible to his foes, and the latter groaning under their cargo of gold. Nor had his mind been left unfurnished. He had been thoroughly and carefully educated in all the wisdom of his time, both scholastic and practical.

4. He was an accomplished linguist, and possessed unrivaled skill in diplomacy. And his natural abilities were such as enabled him to shine in every department of kingcraft. He triumphed in war over the ablest sovereigns who chose to assail him, and at the council-board was none who could go beyond him in meeting emergencies.

5. The other, as he tells us himself, was a peasant, whose ancestors had always been genuine peasants before him. He was an obscure subject of the great emperor. His father toiled for a scanty living in the German iron mines. His mother worked in house and field through the weary hours

of the livelong day. He himself was reared amid the hardest and sternest poverty, and when he went to school, was compelled to subsist by begging his bread from door to door. And when he became an inmate of the Augustine convent, he undertook the humblest and most laborious tasks,-took the lowest place among the lowly brotherhood of monks.

6. One day the great emperor and the poor monk met. It was at a grand council, called in part for the trial of the monk, and under the auspices of the emperor. The latter had come from a remote part of his vast dominions, with all the pomp of a triumphal march. He had been greeted on his way by the huzzas of millions of subjects. He sat in the Diet, surrounded by a brilliant assembly of nobles, princes, and kings, who all acknowledged his supremacy. He was at the summit of earthly grandeur.

7. The poor monk was arraigned, tried, and found guilty of heresy and obstinacy, and was pronounced a culprit and an outlaw under the ban of the empire. The emperor retired from the Diet to listen to new acclamations, and to receive new tokens of his great popularity; the poor monk, in disguise, rushed for safety into a dismal dungeon, where kind friends kept him immured, to save him from the rage of his enemies.

8. Suppose the question had been put to some politician -some prince of the empire, or high ecclesiastical dignitary —which of the two men, the convicted heretic, accursed by the Pope and outlawed by the empire, or the mighty Charles V., successor of the Cæsars, was most influential ? What would have been the answer ? Would not the very asking of such a question have been looked upon as a proof of insanity or idiocy? And yet, what says the world to-day? Measure the lives of the two men. Weigh their deeds, the principles they advocated, and the policy inaugurated by each.

9. Charles lived and reigned, engaged in the intrigues and diplomacy of his time,-schemed against Francis and was schemed against by Francis, deceived the Pope and was deceived by the Pope, and finally died in a self-imposed obscurity, declaring that he was weary of the incessant and unmeaning contests of life. And of his long reign of thirty

« PreviousContinue »