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ST. CHARLES BORROMEO.
I had sought to drain the cup of all the pleasures; now, a monk, and a penitent monk, I asked myself if I had then been truly happy. No, never had I tasted happiness; a moment of intoxication and phrenzy does not confer it. I have been happy in the dungeon of Vincennes; I have been happy in the monastery of La Trappe, on sackcloth and ashes : for then I had again found God.
To appease my raging hunger, the world threw me but a crumb, and, to quench my thirst, it gave but an empoisoned beverage, which burned my entrails ; but in my captivity, in my retirement, God visited his wretched servant, and showed me an ocean of love; all the powers of my soul were intoxicated, and learned what happiness was. O my God! thou hast made us for thyself; in thee alone can the heart find rest. What then does it care for gilded palaces or the gloomy walls of a prison.
On the shore of the lake, near a monastery, is seen the colossal statue of St. Charles Borromeo; a monument which reminds travellers of a venerable prelate, for ever celebrated for his talents and his lofty virtues, and particularly for the immense charity with which he devoted himself as a victim for the welfare of the people committed to his care.
The crew of the steam-vessel are frightful fellows; such, that in a long voyage, I never met with any who could be compared with them. They are neither Swiss nor Italians; they are a mixture of coarse wretches, who excite horror by their costume, their rags, their greediness, and above all by their blasphemies. I could neither see nor hear them without a feeling of pain that
I am unable to describe : the most sacred names were incessantly upon their lips, associated with expressions the most sacrilegious and impure.
On my arrival at Milan, the first thing I did was to hasten to the cathedral, to pay to God the tribute of my deep adoration. It was late; they were closing the doors, but at my request I was allowed a few moments.
How beautiful is that cathedral ! how imposing its architecture! what profound sensations it excites ! How that majestic obscurity all at once imposes silence on earthly thoughts ! how it disposes to meditation and prayer !
My soul was lifted up; my heart was moved ; I felt myself penetrated with the presence of the great God, who, by the prodigy of his infinite goodness, has so far abased himself as to be pleased to reside on our altars, in order to place himself, as it were, within the reach of man.
It seemed to me that he was there expressly for me, expressly to receive the homage of my repentance and of my love. Prostrate on the pavement, I repeated with religious reverence those words of the patriarch Jacob: “How dreadful is this place! this is none other but the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven. Surely the Lord is in this place.” (Genesis, xxviii. 16, 17.)
During the short stay that I have made at Milan, I have passed long moments in this cathedral, and I have no need to say that they are the happiest.
Since my release from the castle of Vincennes, that is to say, for seventeen years, I had not seen any of our soldiers. I cannot describe to you the emotion that I felt when I met with some on the frontiers. These
were Hungarians. I talked to them about our country, about their campaigns, about the sovereign who governs them. Never could I pronounce his name but my heart thrilled and my eyes filled with tears. Often have I risked my life for that beloved sovereign ; I would still sacrifice it a thousand times. All his subjects would devote themselves in like manner; for that august monarch is beloved because he is just; I will say almost adored because he is full of kindness and beneficence, and because his heart is the sanctuary of virtue. The long years that he has reigned have appeared to us very short : may the Lord yet spare him long to his people !
I must acquaint you with another of my joys. The greatest pleasure that I experienced during my sojourn in Milan, was to see our soldiers come in crowds to the cathedral to worship the Lord of hosts. My heart throbbed on beholding these warriors on their knees before their God, praying with that devotion which draws down his favours and merits his blessings.
What a soothing and religious impression is produced in the soul by the aspect of that manly pride which fears not to bend humbly before our altars ! But what pain and pity does it excite to see the soldier, respectful sometimes even to servility before his superior or his king, daring to indulge in irreverence in the temple of the King of kings, of the Lord of lords !
I knew that my brother, the lieutenant-general, was at Milan. I had not seen him since I left the dungeon of Vincennes, when he was at Paris with the Austrian army. My illness had detained me two months at Lucerne; I was apprehensive lest fraternal affection
should raise obstacles to the rapidity of my journey; I was anxious to reach Venice or Trieste as speedily as possible, for the purpose of embarking. I hesitated, therefore : I knew not whether I should go to see him. Alas! it is so sad to see one another for a moment, and then to part perhaps for ever. I could not, however, withstand the desire to press him to my heart. He looked at me—that kind brother-without being able to recognize my features. " It is indeed Ferdinand's voice,” said he, “but I can scarcely persuade myself that it is he.” Seventeen years in the monastery of La Trappe had. furrowed my brow with wrinkles, and stripped the hair from my head; but they had not changed my affection for him.
Venice - Count SPAUR, GOVERNOR OF THE VENETIAN PROVINCES – ADMIRAL PAULUCCI—M. THEODOROVITCH.
Venice, September 4th. I have been here for these two days, and to-morrow I shall embark for the island of Cyprus. It is a sort of miracle : I had the good fortune to meet with a ship that is still in quarantine, and I have arranged for my passage in her. I am still far from well. On my arrival, the mistress of the hotel where I am staying, perceiving that I was ill, sent for a doctor. I told him that I was setting out for the Holy Land; he supposed that I was delirious. Finding that I adhered to my purpose, he came no more. He is, it seems to me, of the same opinion as my Lucerne physician, who maintained that
it was utterly impossible for me to accomplish the undertaking.
A fresh misfortune : I have been so clumsy as to get a fall in the church of St. Mark, which is paved in mosaic, and I was so stunned by it as to be obliged to be carried senseless to the residence of one of the canons. All this is melancholy, to be sure; but God is there, and my good angel accompanies me.
On recovering from my swoon, I hastened to present my letters of recommendation to his excellency Count de Spaur, governor of the Venetian provinces, and to Admiral Paulucci. They received me with that kindness which characterises them. Count de Spaur is justly venerated in his government; he is a father, an example and an honour, to it. Admiral Paulucci reminds one of the brave Sir Sidney Smith ; in my opinion there is a resemblance between the two admirals. The commandant of the port, M. Peter Theodorovitch, rendered me all the services that depended upon him.
DEPARTURE FROM VENICE LAZARETTO OP POVEGLIA The BRIG ULYSSES-CONTRARY WIND-TAE BUCENTAUR.
Lazaretto of Poveglia, September 6th, 1831,
on board the ship Ulysses. I had so many things to do, my dear friend, during my stay at Venice, that I could not find a moment, when closing my letter, to bid you adieu, perhaps for a long time.
I am on board the ship Ulysses ; she has not finished her quarantine, and is subject to all the