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   Chapter 2 No.2

Chronicles of the Schonberg-Cotta Family By Elizabeth Rundle Charles Characters: 36670

Updated: 2017-12-01 00:04


Extracts from Friedrich's Chronicle.

Erfurt, 1503.

At last I stand on the threshold of the world I have so long desired to enter. Elsè's world is mine no longer; and yet, never until this week did I feel how dear that little home-world is to me. Indeed, Heaven forbid I should have left it finally. I look forward to returning to it again, nevermore, however, as a burden on our parents, but as their stay and support, to set our mother free from the cares which are slowly eating her precious life away, to set our father free to pursue his great projects, and to make our little Elsè as much a lady as any of the noble baronesses our grandmother tells us of. Although, indeed, as it is, when she walks beside me to church on holidays, in her crimson dress, with her round, neat, little figure in the black jacket with the white stomacher, and the silver chains, her fair hair so neatly braided, and her blue eyes so full of sunshine,-who can look better than Elsè? And I can see I am not the only one in Eisenach who thinks so. I would only wish to make all the days holidays for her, and that it should not be necessary when the festival is over for my little sister to lay aside all her finery so carefully in the great chest, and put on her Aschputtel garments again, so that if the fairy prince we used to talk of, were to come, he would scarcely recognise the fair little princess he had seen at church. And yet no fairy prince need be ashamed of our Elsè even in her working, every-day clothes;-he certainly would not be the right one if he were. In the twilight, when the day's work is done, and the children are asleep, and she comes and sits beside me with her knitting in the lumber-room or under the pear tree in the garden, what princess could look fresher or neater than Elsè, with her smooth fair hair braided like a coronet? Who would think that she had been toiling all day, cooking, washing, nursing the children. Except, indeed, because of the healthy colour her active life gives her face, and for that sweet low voice of hers, which I think women learn best by the cradles of little children.

I suppose it is because I have never yet seen any maiden to compare to our Elsè that I have not yet fallen in love. And, nevertheless, it is not of such a face as Elsè's I dream, when dreams come, or even exactly such as my mother's. My mother's eyes are dimmed with many cares; is it not that very worn and faded brow that makes her sacred to me? More sacred than any saintly halo! And Elsè, good, practical little Elsè, she is a dear household fairy; but the face I dream of has another look in it. Elsè's eyes are good, as she says, for seeing and helping; and sweet, indeed, they are for loving-dear, kind, true eyes. But the eyes I dream of have another look, a fire like our grandmother's, as if from a southern sun; dim, dreamy, far-seeing glances, burning into the hearts, like the ladies in the romances, and yet piercing into heaven, like St. Cecilia's when she stands entranced by her organ. She should be a saint, at whose feet I might sit and look through her pure heart into heaven, and yet she should love me wholly, passionately, fearlessly, devotedly, as if her heaven were all in my love. My love! and who am I that I should have such dreams? A poor burgher lad of Eisenach, a penniless student of a week's standing at Erfurt! The eldest son of a large destitute family, who must not dare to think of loving the most perfect maiden, in the world, when I meet her, until I have rescued a father, mother, and six brothers and sisters from the jaws of biting poverty. And even in a dream it seems almost a treachery to put any creature above Elsè. I fancy I see her kind blue eyes filling with reproachful tears. For there is no doubt that in Elsè's heart I have no rival, even in a dream. Poor, loving, little Elsè!

Yes, she must be rescued from the pressure of those daily fretting cares of penury and hope deferred, which have made our mother old so early. If I had been in the father's place, I could never have borne to see winter creeping so soon over the summer of her life. But he does not see it. Or if for a moment her pale face and the grey hairs which begin to come seem to trouble him, he kisses her forehead, and says,

"Little mother, it will soon be over; there is nothing wanting now but the last link to make this last invention perfect, and then-"

And then he goes into his printing-room; but to this day the missing link has never been found. Elsè and our mother, however, always believe it will turn up some day. Our grandmother has doubts. And I have scarcely any hope at all, although, for all the world, I would not breathe this to any one at home. To me that laboratory of my father's, with its furnace, its models, its strange machines, is the most melancholy place in the world. It is like a haunted chamber,-haunted with the helpless, nameless ghosts of infants that have died at their birth,-the ghosts of vain and fruitless projects; like the ruins of a city that some earthquake had destroyed before it was finished, ruined palaces that were never roofed, ruined houses that were never inhabited, ruined churches that were never worshipped in. The saints forbid that my life should be like that! and yet what it is which has made him so unsuccessful, I can never exactly make out. He is no dreamer. He is no idler. He does not sit lazily down with folded arms and imagine his projects. He makes his calculations with the most laborious accuracy; he consults all the learned men and books he has access to. He weighs, and measures, and constructs the neatest models possible. His room is a museum of exquisite models, which seem as if they must answer, and yet never do. The professors, and even the Elector's secretary, who has come more than once to consult him, have told me he is a man of remarkable genius.

What can it be, then, that makes his life such a failure? I cannot think; unless it is that other great inventors and discoverers seem to have made their discoveries and inventions as it were by the way, in the course of their every-day life. As a seaman sails on his appointed voyage to some definite port, he notices drift-wood or weeds which must have come from unknown lands beyond the seas. As he sails in his calling from port to port, the thought is always in his mind; everything he hears groups itself naturally around this thought; he observes the winds and currents; he collects information from mariners who have been driven out of their course, in the direction where he believes this unknown land to lie. And at length he persuades some prince that his belief is no mere dream, and like the great admiral Christopher Columbus, he ventures across the trackless unknown Atlantic and discovers the Western Indies. But before he was a discoverer, he was a mariner.

Or some engraver of woodcuts thinks of applying his carved blocks to letters, and the printing-press is invented. But it is in his calling. He has not gone out of his way to hunt for inventions. He has found them in his path, the path of his daily calling. It seems to me people do not become great, do not become discoverers and inventors by trying to be so, but by determining to do in the very best way what they have to do. Thus improvements suggest themselves, one by one, step by step; each improvement is tested as it is made by practical use, until at length the happy thought comes, not like an elf from the wild forest, but like an angel on the daily path; and the little improvements become the great invention. There is another great advantage, moreover, in this method over our father's. If the invention never comes, at all events we have the improvements, which are worth something. Every one cannot invent the printing-press or discover the New Indies; but every engraver may make his engravings a little better, and every mariner may explore a little further than his predecessors.

Yet it seems almost like treason to write thus of our father. What would Elsè or our mother think, who believe there is nothing but accident or the blindness of mankind between us and greatness? Not that they have learned to think thus from our father. Never in my life did I hear him say a grudging or depreciating word of any of those who have most succeeded where he has failed. He seems to look on all such men as part of a great brotherhood, and to rejoice in another man hitting the point which he missed, just as he would rejoice in himself succeeding in something to-day which he failed in yesterday. It is this nobleness of character which makes me reverence him more than any mere successes could. It is because I fear, that in a life of such disappointments my character would not prove so generous, but that failure would sour my temper and penury degrade my spirit as they never have his, that I have ventured to search for the rocks on which he made shipwreck, in order to avoid them. All men cannot return wrecked, and tattered, and destitute from an unsuccessful voyage, with a heart as hopeful, a temper as generous, a spirit as free from envy and detraction, as if they brought the golden fleece with them. Our father does this again and again; and therefore I trust his argosies are laid up for him as for those who follow the rules of evangelical perfection, where neither moth nor rust can corrupt. I could not. I would never return until I could bring what I had sought, or I should return a miserable man, shipwrecked in heart as well as in fortune. And therefore I must examine my charts, and choose my port and my vessel carefully, before I sail.

All these thoughts came into my mind as I stood on the last height of the forest, from which I could look back on Eisenach, nestling in the valley under the shadow of the Wartburg. May the dear mother of God, St. Elizabeth, and all the saints, defend it evermore!

But there was not much time to linger for a last view of Eisenach. The winter days were short; some snow had fallen in the previous night. The roofs of the houses in Eisenach were white with it, and the carvings of spire and tower seemed inlaid with alabaster. A thin covering lay on the meadows and hill-sides, and light feather-work frosted the pines. I had nearly thirty miles to walk through forest and plain before I reached Erfurt. The day was as bright and the air as light as my heart. The shadows of the pines lay across the frozen snow, over which my feet crunched cheerily. In the clearings, the outline of the black twigs were pencilled dark and clear against the light blue of the winter sky. Every outline was clear, and crisp, and definite, as I resolved my own aims in life should be. I knew my purposes were pure and high, and I felt as if Heaven must prosper me.

But as the day wore on, I began to wonder when the forest would end, until, as the sun sank lower and lower, I feared I must have missed my way; and at last as I climbed a height to make a survey, to my dismay it was too evident I had taken the wrong turning in the snow. Wide reaches of the forest lay all around me, one pine-covered hill folding over another; and only in one distant opening could I get a glimpse of the level land beyond, where I knew Erfurt must lie. The daylight was fast departing; my wallet was empty. I knew there were villages hidden in the valleys here and there; but not a wreath of smoke could I see, nor any sign of man, except here and there faggots piled in some recent clearing. Towards one of these clearings I directed my steps, intending to follow the wood-cutters' track, which I thought would probably lead me to the hut of some charcoal burner, where I might find fire and shelter. Before I reached this spot, however, night had set in. The snow began to fall again, and it seemed too great a risk to leave the broader path to follow any unknown track. I resolved, therefore, to make the best of my circumstances. They were not unendurable. I had a flint and tinder, and gathering some dry wood and twigs, I contrived with some difficulty to light a fire. Cold and hungry I certainly was, but for this I cared little. It was only an extra fast, and it seemed to me quite natural that my journey of life should commence with difficulty and danger. It was always so in legend of the saints, romance, or elfin tale, or when anything great was to be done.

But in the night, as the wind howled through the countless stems of the pines, not with the soft varieties of sound it makes amidst the summer oak-woods, but with a long monotonous wail like a dirge, a tumult awoke in my heart such as I had never known before. I knew these forests were infested by robber-bands, and I could hear in the distance the baying and howling of the wolves; but it was not fear which tossed my thoughts so wildly to and fro, at least not fear of bodily harm. I thought of all the stories of wild huntsmen, of wretched guilty men, hunted by packs of fiends; and the stories which had excited a wild delight in Elsè and me, as our grandmother told them by the fire at home, now seemed to freeze my soul with horror. For was not I a guilty creature, and were not the devils indeed too really around me?-and what was to prevent their possessing me? Who in all the universe was on my side? Could I look up with confidence to God? He loves only the holy. Or to Christ? He is the judge; and more terrible than any cries of legions of devils will it be to the sinner to hear his voice from the awful snow-white throne of judgment. Then, my sins rose before me-my neglected prayers, penances imperfectly performed, incomplete confessions. Even that morning, had I not been full of proud and ambitious thoughts-even perhaps vainly comparing myself with my good father, and picturing myself as conquering and enjoying all kinds of worldly delights? It was true, it could hardly be a sin to wish to save my family from penury and care; but it was certainly a sin to be ambitious of worldly distinction, as Father Christopher had so often told me. Then, how difficult to separate the two? Where did duty end, and ambition and pride begin? I determined to find a confessor as soon as I reached Erfurt, if ever I reached it. And yet, what could even the wisest confessor do for me in such difficulties? How could I ever be sure that I had not deceived myself in examining my motives, and then deceived him, and thus obtained an absolution on false pretences, which could avail me nothing? And if this might be so with future confessions, why not with all past ones?

The thought was horror to me, and seemed to open a fathomless abyss of misery yawning under my feet. I could no more discover a track out of my miserable perplexities than out of the forest.

For if these apprehensions had any ground, not only the sins I had failed to confess were unpardoned, but the sins I had confessed and obtained absolution for on false grounds. Thus it might be that at that moment my soul stood utterly unsheltered, as my body from the snows, exposed to the wrath of God, the judgment of Christ, and the exulting cruelty of devils.

It seemed as if only one thing could save me, and that could never be had. If I could find an infallible confessor, who could see down into the depth of my heart, and back into every recess of my life, who could unveil me to myself, penetrate all my motives, and assign me the penances I really deserved, I would travel to the end of the world to find him. The severest penances he could assign, after searching the lives of all the holy Eremites and Martyrs, for examples of mortification, it seemed to me would be light indeed, if I could only be sure they were the right penances and would be followed by a true absolution.

But this it was, indeed, impossible I could ever find.

What sure hope then could I ever have of pardon or remission of sins? What voice of priest or monk, the holiest on earth, could ever assure me I had been honest with myself? What absolution could ever give me a right to believe that the baptismal robes, soiled as they told me "before I had left off my infant socks," could once more be made white and clean?

Then, for the first time in my life the thought flashed on me, of the monastic vows, the cloister and the cowl. I knew there was a virtue in the monastic profession which many said was equal to a second baptism. Could it be possible that the end of all my aspirations might after all be the monk's frock? What then would become of father and mother, dear Elsè, and the little ones? The thought of their dear faces seemed for an instant to drive away these gloomy fears, as they say a hearth-fire keeps off the wolves. But then a hollow voice seemed to whisper, "If God is against you, and the saints, and your conscience, what help can you render your family or any one else?" The conflict seemed more than I could bear. It was so impossible to me to make out which suggestions were from the devil and which from God, and which from my own sinful heart; and yet it might be the unpardonable sin to confound them. Wherefore for the rest of the night I tried not to think at all, but paced up and down reciting the Ten Commandments, the Creed, the Paternoster, the Ave Maria, the Litanies of the Saints, and all the collects and holy ejaculations I could think of. By degrees this seemed to calm me, especially the Creeds and the Paternoster, whether because these are spells the fiends especially dread, or because there is something so comforting in the mere words, "Our Father," and "the remission of sins," I do not know. Probably for both reasons.

And so the morning dawned, and the low sunbeams slanted up through the red stems of the pines; and I said the Ave Maria, and thought of the sweet mother of God, and was a little cheered.

But all the next day I could not recover from the terrors of that solitary night. A shadow seemed to have fallen on my hopes and projects. How could I tell that all which had seemed most holy to me as an object in life might not be temptations of the world, the flesh, and the devil; and that with all my labouring for my dear ones at home, my sins might not bring on them more troubles than all my successes could avert?

As I left the shadow of the forest, however, my heart seemed to grow lighter. I sh

all always henceforth feel sure that the wildest legends of the forests may be true, and that the fiends have especial haunts among the solitary woods at night.

It was pleasant to see the towers of Erfurt rising before me on the plain.

I had only one friend at the University; but that is Martin Luther, and he is a host in himself to me. He is already distinguished among the students here; and the professors expect great things of him.

He is especially studying jurisprudence, because his father wishes him to be a great lawyer. This also is to be my profession, and his counsel, always so heartily given, is of the greatest use to me.

His life is, indeed, changed since we first knew him at Eisenach, when Aunt Ursula took compassion on him, a destitute scholar, singing at the doors of the houses in St. George Street for a piece of bread. His father's hard struggles to maintain and raise his family have succeeded at last; he is now the owner of a foundry and some smelting-furnaces, and supports Martin liberally at the university. The icy morning of Martin's struggles seems over, and all is bright before him.

Erfurt is the first University in Germany. Compared with it, as Martin Luther says, the other universities are mere private academies. At present we have from a thousand to thirteen hundred students. Some of our professors have studied the classics in Italy, under the descendents of the ancient Greeks and Romans. The Elector Frederic has, indeed, lately founded a new University at Wittemberg, but we at Erfurt have little fear of Wittemberg outstripping our ancient institution.

The Humanists, or disciples of the ancient heathen learning, are in great force here, with Mutianus Rufus at their head. They meet often, especially at his house, and he gives them subjects for Latin versification, such as the praises of poverty. Martin Luther's friend Spalatin joined these assemblies; but he himself does not, at least not as a member. Indeed, strange things are reported of their converse, which make the names of poet and philosopher in which they delight very much suspected in orthodox circles. These ideas Mutianus and his friends are said to have imported with the classical literature from Italy. He has even declared and written in a letter to a friend, that "there is but one God, and one goddess, although under various forms and various names, as Jupiter, Sol, Apollo, Moses, Christ; Luna, Ceres, Proserpine, Tellus, Mary." But these things he warns his disciples not to speak of in public. "They must be veiled in silence," he says, "like the Eleusinian mysteries. In the affairs of religion we must make use of the mask of fables and enigmas. Let us by the grace of Jupiter, that is of the best and highest God, despise the lesser gods. When I say Jupiter, I mean Christ and the true God."

Mutianus and his friends also in their intimate circles speak most slightingly of the Church ceremonies, calling the Mass a comedy, and the holy relics ravens' bones;[2] speaking of the service of the altar as so much lost time: and stigmatizing the prayers at the canonical hours as a mere baying of hounds, or the humming, not of busy bees, but of lazy drones.

If you reproached them with such irreverent sayings, they would probably reply that they had only uttered them in an esoteric sense, and meant nothing by them. But when people deem it right thus to mask their truths, and explain away their errors, it is difficult to distinguish which is the mask and which the reality in their estimation. It seems to me also that they make mere intellectual games or exercises out of the most profound and awful questions.

This probably, more than the daring character of their speculations, deters Martin Luther from numbering himself among them. His nature is so reverent in spite of all the courage of his character. I think he would dare or suffer anything for what he believed true; but he cannot bear to have the poorest fragment of what he holds sacred trifled with or played with as a mere feat of intellectual gymnastics.

His chief attention is at present directed, by his father's especial desire, to Roman literature and law, and to the study of the allegories and philosophy of Aristotle. He likes to have to do with what is true and solid; poetry and music are his delight and recreation. But it is in debate he most excels. A few evenings since, he introduced me to a society of students, where questions new and old are debated and it was glorious to see how our Martin carried off the palm; sometimes swooping down on his opponents like an eagle among a flock of small birds, or setting down his great lion's paw and quietly crushing a host of objections, apparently unaware of the mischief he had done, until some feeble wail of the prostrate foe made him sensible of it, and he withdrew with a good-humored apology for having hurt any one's feelings. At other times he withers an unfair argument or a confused statement to a cinder by some lightning-flash of humor or satire. I do not think he is often perplexed by seeing too much of the other side of a disputed question. He holds the one truth he is contending for, and he sees the one point he is aiming at, and at that he charges with a force compounded of the ponderous weight of his will, and the electric velocity of his thoughts, crushing whatever comes in his way, scattering whatever escapes right and left, and never heeding how the scattered forces may reunite and form in his rear. He knows that if he only turns on them, in a moment they will disperse again.

I cannot quite tell how this style of warfare would answer for an advocate, who had to make the best of any cause he is engaged to plead. I cannot fancy Martin Luther quietly collecting the arguments from the worst side, to the end that even the worst side may have fair play; which is, I suppose, often the office of an advocate.

No doubt, however, he will find or make his calling in the world. The professors and learned men have the most brilliant expectations as to his career. And what is rare (they say), he seems as much the favorite of the students as of the professors. His nature is so social; his musical abilities and his wonderful powers of conversation make him popular with all.

And yet, underneath it all, we who know him well can detect at times that tide of thoughtful melancholy, which seems to lie at the bottom of all hearts which have looked deeply into themselves or into life.

He is as attentive as ever to religion, never missing the daily mass. But in our private conversations, I see that his conscience is anything but at ease. Has he passed through conflicts such as mine in the forest on that terrible night? Perhaps through conflicts as much fiercer and more terrible, as his character is stronger and his mind deeper than mine. But who can tell? What is the use of unfolding perplexities to each other, which it seems no intellect on earth can solve? The inmost recesses of the heart must always, I suppose, be a solitude, like that dark and awful sanctuary within the veil of the old Jewish temple, entered only once a year, and faintly illumined by the light without, through the thick folds of the sacred veil.

If only that solitude were indeed a holy of holies-or, being what it is, if we only need enter it once a year, and not carry about the consciousness of its dark secrets with us everywhere. But, alas! once entered we can never forget it. It is like the chill, dark crypts underneath our churches, where the masses for the dead are celebrated, and where in some monastic churches the embalmed corpses lie shrivelled to mummies, and visible through gratings. Through all the joyous festivals of the holidays above, the consciousness of those dark chambers of death below seems to creep up; like the damps of the vaults through the incense, like the muffled wail of the dirges through the songs of praise.

Erfurt, April, 1503.

We are just returned from an expedition which might have proved fatal to Martin Luther. Early in the morning, three days since, we started to walk to Mansfeld on a visit to his family, our hearts as full of hope as the woods were full of song. We were armed with swords; our wallets were full; and spirits light as the air. Our way was to lie through field and forest, and then along the banks of the river Holme, through the Golden Meadow where are so many noble cloisters and imperial palaces.

But we had scarcely been on our way an hour when Martin, by some accident, ran his sword into his foot. To my dismay the blood gushed out in a stream. He had cut into a main artery. I left him under the care of some peasants, and ran back to Erfurt for a physician. When he arrived, however, there was great difficulty in closing the wound with bandages. I longed for Elsè or our mother's skillful fingers. We contrived to carry him back to the city. I sat up to watch with him. But in the middle of the night his wound burst out bleeding afresh. The danger was very great, and Martin himself giving up hope, and believing death was close at hand, committed his soul to the blessed Mother of God. Merciful and pitiful, knowing sorrow, yet raised glorious above all sorrow, with a mother's heart for all, and a mother's claim on Him who is the judge of all, where indeed can we so safely flee for refuge as to Mary? It was edifying to see Martin's devotion to her, and no doubt it was greatly owing to this that at length the remedies succeeded, the bandages closed the wound again, and the blood was stanched.

Many an Ave will I say for this to the sweet Mother of Mercy. Perchance she may also have pity on me. O sweetest Lady, "eternal daughter of the eternal Father, heart of the indivisible Trinity," thou seest my desire to help my own careworn mother; aid me, and have mercy on me, thy sinful child.

Erfurt, June, 1503.

Martin Luther has taken his first degree. He is a fervent student, earnest in this as in everything. Cicero and Virgil are his great companions among the Latins. He is now raised quite above the pressing cares of penury, and will probably never taste them more. His father is now a prosperous burgher of Mansfeld, and on the way to become burgomaster. I wish the prospects at my home were as cheering. A few years less of pinching poverty for myself seems to matter little, but the cares of our mother and Elsè weigh on me often heavily. It must be long yet before I can help them effectually, and meantime the bright youth of my little Elsè, and the very life of our toilworn patient mother, will be wearing away.

For myself I can fully enter into what Martin says, "The young should learn especially to endure suffering and want; for such suffering doth them no harm. It doth more harm for one to prosper without toil than it doth to endure suffering." He says also, "It is God's way, of beggars to make men of power, just as he made the world out of nothing. Look upon the courts of kings and princes, upon cities and parishes. You will there find jurists, doctors, councillors, secretaries, and preachers who were commonly poor, and always such as have been students, and have risen and flown so high through the quill that they are become lords."

But the way to wealth through the quill seems long; and lives so precious to me are being worn out meantime, while I climb to the point where I could help them! Sometimes I wish I had chosen the calling of a merchant, men seem to prosper so much more rapidly through trade than through study; and nothing on earth seems to me so well worth working for as to lift the load from their hearts at home. But it is too late. Rolling stones gather no moss. I must go on now in the track I have chosen. Only sometimes again the fear which came over me on that night in the forest. It seems as if heaven were against me, and that it is vain presumption for such as I even to hope to benefit any one.

Partly, no doubt, it is the depression, caused by poor living, which brings these thoughts. Martin Luther said so to me one day when he found me desponding. He said he knew so well what it was. He had suffered so much from penury at Magdeburg, and at Eisenach had even seriously thought of giving up study altogether and returning to his father's calling. He is kind to me and to all who need, but his means do not yet allow him to do more than maintain himself. Or rather, they are not his but his father's, and he feels he has no right to be generous at the expense of his father's self-denial and toil.

I find life looks different, I must say, after a good meal. But then I cannot get rid of the thought of the few such meals they have at home. Not that Elsè writes gloomily. She never mentions a thing to sadden me. And this week she sent me a gulden, which she said belonged to her alone, and she had vowed never to use unless I would take it. But a student who saw them lately said our mother looked wan and ill. And to increase their difficulties, a month since the father received into the house a little orphan girl, a cousin of our mother's, called Eva von Sch?nberg. Heaven forbid that I should grudge the orphan her crust, but when it makes a crust less for the mother and the little ones, it is difficult to rejoice in such an act of charity.

Erfurt, July, 1503.

I have just obtained a nomination on a foundation, which will, I hope, for the present at least, prevent my being any burden on my family for my own maintenance. The rules are very strict, and they are enforced with many awful vows and oaths which trouble my conscience not a little, because, if the least detail of these rules to which I have sworn is even inadvertently omitted, I involve myself in the guilt of perjury. However, it is a step onward in the way to independence; and a far heavier yoke might well be borne with such an object.

We (the beneficiaries on this foundation) have solemnly vowed to observe the seven canonical hours, never omitting the prayers belonging to each. This insures early rising, which is a good thing for a student. The most difficult to keep is the midnight hour, after a day of hard study; but it is no more than soldiers on duty have continually to go through. We have also to chant the Miserere at funerals, and frequently to hear the eulogy of the Blessed Virgin Mary. This last can certainly not be called a hardship, least of all to me who desire ever henceforth to have an especial devotion to Our Lady, to recite daily the Rosary, commemorating the joys of Mary, the Salutation, the journey across the mountains, the birth without pain, the finding of Jesus in the Temple, and the Ascension. It is only the vows which make it rather a bondage. But, indeed, in spite of all, it is a great boon. I can conscientiously write to Elsè now, that I shall not need another penny of their scanty store, and can even, by the next opportunity, return what she sent, which, happily, I have not yet touched.

August, 1503.

Martin Luther is very dangerously ill; many of the professors and students are in great anxiety about him. He has so many friends; and no wonder! He is no cold friend himself, and all expect great honour to the University from his abilities. I scarcely dare to think what his loss would be to me. But this morning an aged priest who visited him inspired us with some hope. As Martin lay, apparently in the last extremity, and himself expecting death, this old priest came to his bed-side, and said gently, but in a firm tone of conviction,-

"Be of good comfort, my brother, you will not die at this time; God will yet make a great man of you, who shall comfort many others. Whom God loveth and proposeth to make a blessing, upon him he early layeth the cross, and in that school, who patiently endure learn much."

The words came with a strange kind of power, and I cannot help thinking that there is a little improvement in the patient since they were uttered. Truly, good words are like food and medicine to body and soul.

Erfurt, August, 1503.

Martin Luther is recovered! The Almighty, the Blessed Mother, and all the saints be praised.

The good old priest's words have also brought some especial comfort to me. If it could only be possible that those troubles and cares which have weighed so heavily on Elsè's early life and mine, are not the rod of anger, but the cross laid on those God loveth! But who can tell? For Elsè, at least, I will try to believe this.

The world is wide in these days, with the great New World opened by the Spanish mariners beyond the Atlantic, and the noble Old World opened to students through the sacred fountains of the ancient classics, once more unsealed by the revived study of the ancient languages; and this new discovery of printing, which will, my father thinks, diffuse the newly unsealed fountains of ancient wisdom in countless channels among high and low.

These are glorious times to live in. So much already unfolded to us! And who knows what beyond? For it seems as if the hearts of men everywhere were beating high with expectation; as if, in these days, nothing were too great to anticipate, or too good to believe.

It is well to encounter our dragons at the threshold of life; instead of at the end of the race-at the threshold of death; therefore, I may well be content. In this wide and ever widening world, there must be some career for me and mine. What will it be?

And what will Martin Luther's be? Much is expected from him. Famous every one at the University says he must be. On what field will he win his laurels? Will they be laurels or palms?

When I hear him in the debates of the students, all waiting for his opinions, and applauding his eloquent words, I see the laurel already among his black hair, wreathing his massive, homely forehead. But when I remember the debate which I know there is within him, the anxious fervency of his devotions, his struggle of conscience, his distress at any omission of duty, and watch the deep melancholy look which there is sometimes in his dark eyes, I think not of the tales of the heroes, but of the legends of the saints, and wonder in what victory over the old dragon he will win his palm.

But the bells are sounding for compline, and I must not miss the sacred hour.

* * *

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