Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

brought to his gate these ordinary salutations are interrupted by the arrival of a messenger from the East, who being recognized by Pudens as the freedman of Philemon, is received as one endeared to all the Church in Rome by his faithful service to the Apostle Paul, and entertained with loving hospitality.

While the wayworn courier is discussing his well-earned meal, Pudens proceeds to the examination of his despatches, and calls over the superscription of letters to • Peter, Paul, Luke, Clement, and Linus,' till he comes to one for · Prassede e Pudenziana figlie di Cornelio Pudente,' which evokes an expression of heartfelt satisfaction. Then we learn through his conversation with Onesimus the position of the Church at the moment: Peter and Paul are both absent, tending the needs of early Christian Churches elsewhere; Clement, however, is in Rome; and Linus is in the very house of Pudens, and will break bread in the assembly there that night-yes, that night; mark the word, Onesimus, it typifies the condition of the faithful, no longer lulled by the mild forbearance of the times of Seneca and Burrhus, but under the prefecture of Tigellinus, and they live between torments and death.

The letter proves to be from Thecla, who having heard the fame of the piety of the daughters of Pudens applies to them for news of the Apostle Paul, whose prophetic words at that sad parting by the sea-shore (Acts, xx. 17-38.) had filled the heart of the whole Church of the East with sorrow and apprehension ; and she begs the daughters of Pudens not to disregard her anxiety, for at Ephesus the mother of Christ herself deigned to receive and comfort her. They are with Christian humility discussing the favour shewn them in being addressed by one so favoured as Thecla, when Linus comes in and informs the rest that his letter is from Timothy, seeking advice in the guidance of his diocese during the present tempest-advice which he fears to give, for Peter and Paul are absent, and he knows not whether to beg them to return and strengthen the Church, or remain away and preserve themselves for better days.

The second chapter introduces us to the Forum, whither the avocations of Pudens call him; and he, amid all the toil of the day dwelling in thought always on the risks run by the beloved Apostles, seeks out Demetrius to learn which way the wind blows at court. On his question, • Chi regna oggi a palazzo?' Demetrius informs him that to the favouriteship lately enjoyed by Tigellinus has succeeded a Hebrew charlatan whom the Jews call Simon, but who is at court styled Icarus; he gives a contemptuous account of his pretensions, and mentions that amid his other boasts he has announced that he intends to defy all the Christian magi' to overcome him in supernatural manifestations, particularly in the gift of flying. Ilaving acquired all the information Demetrius has to impart, Pudens proceeds with a heavy heart to the houses of some of the chief Christian families, where, to their lamentations over their brethren torn from their arms by persecution, he has now to add the burden of apprehension at the snare laid for the beloved pastor Peter, whom Demetrius had distinguished by the title of "il grosso del Trustevere. And as he conducts the Senator along the streets of Rome, our author takes occasion to sketch them for us in the light in which records of the time display them.

Pudens comes home too sad for words; he cannot trust himself to tell Claudia and their daughters of the impending cloud, but he bids them pray for mercy, and they know by his voice the danger of the brethren. In the evening of the same day we are made to assist at a gathering of the faithful, in a remote apartment of his palazzo. Here, under the dim light of fear, we are bid to discern Linus and Cletus, and Clement, and many more, of venerable names concerning whom many interesting particulars are collected from contemporary and early writers. Between these, sad counsel is taken over the snares which the enemies of the Church have spread round the path of the chief Apostles, and the frequently recurring relations between St. Peter and Simon Magus, narrated in some detail, forming a seqnel to the abruptly concluded story of him which rouses our curiosity in the Acts. It is finally decided that couriers shall be despatched in various directions to warn the Apostles of the danger of approaching Rome; and by the impetuosity with which various influential members undertake to provide the various embassies, one realizes something of the natural hopes and fears doubtless prevailing in many breasts before the day of their martyrdom, an event one has perhaps been used to look at only as an accomplished fact. Linus however, who holds the place of St. Peter in his absence, with prophetic instinct warns them that their care may be all too late, and that the Apostles are probably already too near Rome to escape the notice of the spies of the Palace.

His words are yet furrowing every heart with sorrow, when the slaves, chosen from the most devoted converts for the office of keeping the door, enter tumultuously upon the meeting with the announcement, at once joyful and terrible, that Peter and Paul have arrived ! '

Space forbids me to complete the analysis ; I can only rapidly call attention to some of the more noteworthy points of the remaining chapters. The exposition of the dangerous doctrines of Simon Magus then are put into a more succinct and popnlar form than they have perhaps yet received ; as is at the same time the open conflict into which Simon Peter was brought with him, even over and over again, in such a way that while it seemed to men a recurring coincidence,' the guiding of Providence may be distinctly traced. The scene in which he introduces us to the arch-magician making Nero tremble in his Golden House, at sight of the great statues moving and bowing on their marble bases at his command, comes home to us strikingly in these days of table-turning. Further on, an edifying gloss is put on the tradition of the · Domine quo vadis,' ascribing the Apostle's determination to attempt escaping from the raging persecution, to the loving urgency of the Church, not to his own fears. Then we have his courageous return to face the danger, rewarded in the triumph over the attempt at flight of his adversary; his subsequent imprisonment, and his labours in prison for the propagation of the Christian doctrine.' Then thé terrible sentence, and the closing scene, followed by the preparations of the faithful women for his burial, and the ceremony of the election of his successor.

It must be confessed, however, that our author has not thoroughly mastered the art of telling a story; still the matter is of such surpassing interest that it makes amends for the defective manner, and one cannot but admire the modesty and abnegation which has led him to present us with a volume of so much care and research under so humble and accessible a form. The conversations throughout, though generally appropriate, and sometimes smart and even sparkling, seem to be put together out of biblical texts, and sometimes patristic, sometimes classical, sometimes popular idioms, rather than conceived as the genuine utterances of the persons represented. Neither has he art of weaving a romance, or creating dramatic situations; he seems to have too great nervousness of introducing any details for which he cannot give an authoritative reference, and thus his story is denuded of many adventitious aids which might have given it grace, but perhaps this ought only to give us greater confidence in his historical accuracy and conscientiousness.

It is always impossible to restrain a sigh of regret over wasted opportunities. And those who have meditated amid the very localities of the stupendous incidents here Lrought before us, and under the light of faith which seems ever to irradiate them, as, for instance, within the stately sanctuary by which the victory over the Magician was celebrated first by S. Silvester fifteen hundred years ago, added to from age to age, even down to the frescoes of Guido Guidi scarcely yet complete; kneeling there, beside the stone on which the chief Apostle knelt as liis prevailing prayer arrested the arch-impostor in his magic flight. Or on that spot upon the Appian Way, where the palm-grove and the temple of the god of war have made place for the lowly chapel erected by our own Cardinal Pole, our Lady of the Footsteps-la Madonna delle piante—the footsteps with which the Lord of victories was hasting back to Rome to be crucified again, when the fugitive Apostle met him and received the promise of the noblest victory in the warfare with the prince of darkness. Or who have loved to track the closing pilgrimage of the first Pastors of Rome by its way-side memorials ; who have turned aside to pray one where, because there St. Paul received from the holy matron Plantilla the veil which was to bind his eyes at his execution, and where he also restored it to her after his martyrdom, marked with the blood he had shed for Christ; and another where, because there the twin shepherds of the principal fold

"In a side-chapel in the Cburch of Sta. Prassede in Rome are some pictures by Severone, of no great artistic merit but of considerable interest, shewing forth the intercourse of St. Peter with the family of Pudens. In a chapel of the Church of Sta. Pudenziana is a chapel, restored by Cardinal Wiseman, the marble pavement of which has been proved, almost beyond dispute, to have been that actually trod by the chief Apostle. Cardinal Bonaparte, to whom it now gives title as Cardinal, is about to restore the whole of this ancient church, which perhaps has a claim over all others on our veneration.

were rudely parted, the one to suffer without the city, and the other dragged back to pour out his blood in the midst of that quarter which was assigned for the abode of the once favoured people. Those who have thus trained their minds will, without doubt, feel disappointment that there had not been more graphic power exercised in dealing with such materials.

I must make an exception, however, in favour of pages 95-8, where the temporal glory and turmoil of Cæsar is ably contrasted with the supernal glory and peace of Peter; the conversation in the next pages, supposed to have attended the writing of this Second Epistle, and affording a useful commentary on it, is also very recommendable. So is also the description (130-5) of the secret gathering of Christians round the borly of the Saint deposed from the cross; and the prophetic allocution of S. Linus which winds up the narrative, redeems all the baldness of style I have bad to lament in the preceding chapters.

The notes supplied at the end of the volume are most uscful, as well in illustration of the narrative as in winning confidence in the guidance of the author, and in affording assistance to those who may be drawn to pursue further the study of the subject. (To be continued.)

R. H. B.

NOTICES TO CORRESPONDENTS.

No JIS. can be returned unless the Author's name and address be written on it, and stumps be sent with it.

Contributions must often be delayed for want of space, but their writers may be assured that when room can be found they shall appear.

Helen would be much obliged if the Editor, or any of the Correspondents of The Monthly Packet, would kindly inform her why the Eighth Book of Mendelssohn's Lieder ohne Worte is not always published with the others, and what are the names of the Lieder contained in it.

R. S. T. wishes to know who is the author of the Prayer-Book Version of The Lord's Prayer. It does not correspond exactly with any of the versions given in The English Hexapla, nor with any other that I have met with. F. L. asks where to find the line

“The Light that never was on sea or shore.' A. H. W. C. would like to read for the Cambridge Examinations for women, and would be very grateful for some advice as to mode of studying, system of mental attainments, and extent of subjects to be taken up.

R. V., Rome, writes— Your Correspondents, who give the name of Ruscus to our pretty scacci ragni, have enabled me to turn it up in Dr. Deck's Coliseum Plants, who supplies the following curious detail concerning its growth :-"After the berry is formed, the leaf turns round, so that the under surface becomes the upper ; by which means the berry is protected from injury."

John and Charles Mozley, Printers, Derby.

GRAVESEND.

PATRON :
THE LORD BISHOP OF ROCHESTER,

PRESIDENT :
THE EARL OF DARNLEY.

MISSIONARY CURATE:
REV. WILMOT BUXTON, M.A.

(Of Braserose College, Oxford.)

Donations for the Building Fund may be sent to either of the following members of the Building Committee : REAR-ADMIRAL INGLEFIELD, C.B. 10, Grove End Road,

London, N.W. Rev. C. E. R. ROBINSON, M.A., Rural Dean,

The Castle,

Gravesend, Kent. Small Donations are very welcome.

From THE LITERARY CHURCHMAN, of May 15th, 1869. Are our readers aware of the work that is here going on among our forests of sea-going vessels, the petty ships that sail under scant superintendence, the freights of emigrants not always under Government care, the crews picked up anywhere or everywhere?

Very useful assistance to the Mission may be given by sending Books. We are sure that many of our readers will be glad that the lumber of their attics should beguile the weary hours of the sea-voyage; and if this offering pains them by costing nothing, perhaps they will do what comparatively costs them something towards freeing their own souls from that great national shame and public evil, the godless ungoverned condition of our inferior merchant navy, which, coming forth from a festering mass of corruption at home, pollutes every port where it touches.

The promoters of this Mission have received a very remarkable communication on the subject of the proposed new Chapel.

It will be remembered that the following passages, reprinted from papers in the ‘Penny Post,' and 'Monthly Packet,' appeared in the last Report

From THE PENNY Post.

Oh, that some pious heart may be stirred to help us! The obvious ways are, sending money in cheques or stamps, or sending books suitable for the lending libraries we put on board. But there are several ways of helping less obvious—such as making known the work of the Society to personal friends, or circulating papers of the Society, which will be supplied on applying by letter to the Hon. Sec. Will any pious mourner purchase our Mission House, now hired, and erect a Memorial Chapel to the memory of some lost friend? It could be done for about £1,000. It stands on the river's brink, and would be a most suitable spot for a memorial. That such a thing is not chimerical is proved by the building of a Memorial School in this parish two years ago. Above all, will some pious heart help us by praying?

We appeal for money, we generally forget to appeal for prayer, yet

• More things are wrought by prayer,
Than this world recks of.'

From ThE MONTHLY PACKET.

There is one thing we dream of. May God move some one's heart to do it! The writer of this is the Dreamer of Dreams' among the supporters of the Mission, and a good dreamer has his work to do as well as the more prosaic.

He dreams that our Mission House (the lease of which is just expiring, and which we have the power to buy) will be bought and changed into a Memorial Chapel. Some mourning heart, whom God has blessed with money and with the heart of S. Barnabas, should erect a Memorial Chapel to the lost friend. Instead of a costly marble fabric, which has no use, a building should be erected which will embalm the memory of the lost one in the folds of its present usefulness. How beautifully it would stand on the banks of the river--how it would point with its bell-turret to the sky, to

« AnteriorContinuar »