by Joaquin Sorolla
It is a perfect day to be at the beach. Share
Each Morn a thousand Roses brings, you say:
|Yes, but where leaves the Rose of Yesterday?|
|And this first Summer month that brings the Rose|
|Shall take Jamshyd and Kaikobad away.|
|10||Well, let it take them! What have we to do|
|With Kaikobad the Great, or Kaikhosru?|
|Let Zal and Rustum bluster as they will,|
|Or Hatim call to Supper--heed not you.|
|11||With me along the strip of Herbage strown|
|That just divides the desert from the sown,|
|Where name of Slave and Sultan is forgot--|
|And Peace to Mahmud on his golden Throne!|
|12||A Book of Verses underneath the Bough,|
|A Jug of Wine, a Loaf of Bread--and Thou|
|Beside me singing in the Wilderness--|
|Oh, Wilderness were Paradise enow!|
The Diabolical Sin
Saint Augustine saw envy as the diabolical sin. “From envy,” he says, “are born hatred, detraction, calumny, joy caused by the misfortune of a neighbour, and displeasure caused by prosperity.” How does one know if one is harbouring envy in one’s heart? If when another person is praised or acknowledged you feel a twinge of displeasure, it is rooted in envy. If when another person is given opportunities for personal growth, education, or travel, you feel resentment, it is rooted in envy. If when another person shows the ability to do something well, you can resist the temptation to snipe and criticize, it is rooted in envy. Envy is an insidious sin. In community life it can be deadly, especially when it goes unconfessed and when there is no repentance for it.
I am here so that I may never leave you. This is not a farewell!Share
I have come to die with you! The suffering has ended.
I seek death, loving you!
Ah, the one who received the last words from my lips is he...Love!
As the vine I have brought forth a pleasant odour:
and my flowers are the fruit of honour and riches.
I am the mother of fair love, and of fear, and of knowledge, and of holy hope.
In me is all grace of the way and of the truth, in me is all hope of life and of virtue.
Come over to me, all ye that desire me, and be filled with my fruits.
For my spirit is sweet above honey,
and my inheritance above honey and the honeycomb.
My memory is unto everlasting generations.
They that eat me, shall yet hunger: and they that drink me, shall yet thirst.
He that hearkeneth to me, shall not be confounded:
and they that work by me, shall not sin.
They that explain me shall have life everlasting.
Yet not once in the vast correspondence of Mercy is Fersen’s name mentioned, nor amidst the malicious gossip of the other ambassadors do we find so much as a hint that he was regarded with particular favor by Marie-Antoinette. After the royal family had been brought to the Tuileries she was even more closely surrounded, with one National Guard sleeping in her antechamber and others keeping watch on her all day. In a letter to her sister… she herself had written on this: 'I defy the universe to find any real wrong in me; indeed, I can only gain by being guarded and followed so closely.'Continued here: The Fersen Legend, Part 2
I who for fifteen years saw her attached to her august consort and her children, kind to her servitors, unfortunately too polite, too simple, too much on an equality with the people of the Court, I cannot bear to see her character reviled. I wish I had a hundred mouths, I wish I had wings and could inspire the same confidence in the truth which is so readily accorded to lies.Other writers allege that Madame Campan fabricated this statement in order to return to the good graces of Marie-Antoinette’s daughter, who was annoyed with her for having taught Napoleon’s sisters at her finishing school. But then, if Madame Campan was a liar, of what value would her testimony be at all? But people more easily believe stories of scandals than they do stories of virtue....
I desire first of all to do away with the lying legend, based on a calumny, which distorted the relations between Marie-Antoinette and Fersen, relations consisting in absolute devotion, in complete abnegation on one side, and on the other in friendship, profound, trusting and grateful. People have wished to degrade to the vulgarities of a love novel, facts which were otherwise terrible, sentiments which were otherwise lofty.Continued here: The Fersen Legend, Part 3
Much has been made of the letters Marie-Antoinette wrote to her friend Count Esterhazy, and the ring which she sent to Fersen via Esterhazy. In August 1791, after the failure of the escape to Montmedy, the royal couple were isolated and cut off from news about relatives and friends since Fersen, the principle channel for conveying the news, had been silent for almost two months. The Swedish count was in Vienna at King Gustavus’ request on a secret mission, consulting with the Emperor about the possible rescue of the French royal family. The queen wrote to Esterhazy: "If you write to him (Fersen) be sure to tell him that many leagues and many countries can never separate hearts: I feel this truth more everyday.” In September 1791, the queen sent Esterhazy two gold rings which, according to Webster, bore the motto: Domine, salve fac regem et regina. (God save the king and the queen.) Other authors say the motto was Lâche qui les abandonne. (Coward be the one who lets them down.) She wrote:
I am delighted to find this opportunity to send you a little ring which will surely give you pleasure. They have been sold in prodigious quantities during the last three days and one has all the difficulty in the world to find them. The one surrounded with paper is for him (Fersen), it will just fit him; I wore it for two days before packing it. Tell him it is from me. I do not know where he is; it is a dreadful torment to have no news and not even know where the people one is fond of (qu’on aime) are living.Of course, a ring once worn by a queen is of great value, just like a cap once worn by the Pope. Nesta Webster’s commentary on the rings and letters must be quoted in its entirety:
These letters have again been quoted as evidence that there was a liaison between Marie-Antoinette and Fersen, and that Esterhazy being in on the secret, the Queen did not hesitate to confide in him on the subject. But in reality, what do they prove? Nothing more than that she had great affection for him. That a captive Queen should send royalist rings to two of her oldest and most faithful friends is nothing extraordinary, that she should have referred to Fersen as “him” was only in accordance with the plan of avoiding all names in writing. As to the words “qu’on aime,” aimer is a verb that in French…may mean either to like, to be fond of, to love with affection or to be in love with. It cannot have been in the last sense that Marie Antoinette employed it here, since she applies it in the plural - - “les gens qu’on aime”—that is to say, her friends in general….If she had used it in the amorous sense of one whom Esterhazy knew to be her lover, would she not have said, “celui qu’on aime?” (Nesta Webster, Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette during the Revolution)There is much controversy over a certain night in February 1792, when some biographers, including Stanley Loomis and Vincent Cronin, think that Marie-Antoinette and Count Axel von Fersen may have finally consummated their love in her suite in the Tuileries palace. This theory has occurred over a smudged phrase in Fersen’s diary. However, no one knows for certain if the erased phrase was indeed Resté là, Fersen’s usual term indicating that he had slept with a lady. Also, the queen, following her escape attempt, was more closely guarded than ever, with a sentry keeping watch at her door all night, and checking every once in awhile to see if she was in her room – how could she have entertained a lover? The purpose of Count Fersen’s final visit to his friends Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette was to discuss the dire political situation and persuade them to try to escape again, which Louis would not do. Fersen may have had to linger in the palace overnight in order to avoid the revolutionary authorities, but not in the queen’s bed. At his earliest convenience, he made his way to the welcoming arms of his mistress Eleonore Sullivan and stayed at her house in the attic hideaway.
The Queen did perform her Easter devotions in 1792; but she went to the chapel attended only by myself. She desired me beforehand to request one of my relations, who was her chaplain, to celebrate a mass for her at five o’clock in the morning. It was still dark; she gave me her arm and I lighted her with a taper. I left her alone at the chapel door. She did not return to her room until the dawn of day.So instead of liaisons with a lover, Marie-Antoinette was at that season of her life preparing her soul for the sufferings and death which lay ahead, of which her keen sense of the escalating events gave her a strong premonition. Nevertheless, descriptions of the queen’s religious faith by Madame Campan are often interpreted by some authors as an attempt to win the favor of the queen’s daughter, the Duchesse d’Angouleme. Yet it is acceptable to draw conclusions as if from the air, when it comes to non-existent evidence of Fersen’s alleged romance with the anguished queen. I see no reason why Madame Campan would have fabricated such events, which are similar to other reports of the queen’s religious beliefs and practices, especially her own final testament. Furthermore, at the Tuileries, as at Versailles, a private passage linked the queen’s room to her husband’s. According to Madame de Tourzel, the royal governess, in her Memoirs, one of the first things the queen did after being forcibly dragged to the Tuileries was to have a private staircase constructed between her room and the King’s. It would not be very convenient to dally with a lover when a husband might walk in at any moment from behind the hidden door in the paneling.
Everything could certainly not be guiding her to Fersen when she was imprisoned in the Temple and had just refused Jarjayes' plan of escape, saying she could have no happiness apart from her children and therefore she abandoned the idea without even feeling any regret.A phrase from the Queen’s final letter of October 16, 1793, written a few hours before her death to her sister-in-law Madame Elisabeth, has often been interpreted as referring to Fersen. “I had friends. The idea of being separated for ever from them and their troubles forms one of my greatest regrets in dying. Let them know that up to my last moment I was thinking of them….” While the count was probably included among the “friends,” it is more likely that the queen was thinking specifically of the Polignac family. Marie-Antoinette had often referred to the Duchesse de Polignac as her “dear heart,” and had entrusted her children to her care. The two families had been close, with Louis XVI writing to Madame de Polignac and confiding in her, and they had been raising their children together. Marie-Antoinette had a great capacity for friendship, and the persistence of authors in interpreting her friendly interactions in terms of sex and romance is to obscure what was a beautiful aspect of her personality in itself. As she wrote to Elisabeth of her children:
Let them learn from our example how much the consolation of our affection brought us in the midst of our unhappiness and how happiness is doubled when one can share it with a friend—and where can one find a more loving and truer friend than in one’s own family?For in those last days of Marie-Antoinette it is vital to understand her as a mother who had been violently separated from her children. They were the chief subject of her thoughts, and while she showed indifference to her own fate, the mention of them would reduce her to tears. She was in anguish over her eight year old son, as would any parent whose child had been torn from their arms. Not only was she, like any mother, concerned for his diet and hygiene while in the hands of his captors, but she knew that they were beating him, giving him alcohol, teaching him lewd songs, and subjecting him to other forms of unspeakable abuse. Any mother would almost lose her mind; as for the queen, she only wanted to survive and so someday be united with her son and put her arms around him. What parent would not be tormented if a beloved child was ill in the hospital and they could not be at his side? And yet, in a recently published novel about the queen, I was sickened when the author with extreme mawkishness portrayed the desperate Marie-Antoinette wrapped up in Fersen fantasies while in prison. Such sentimentality and romanticism is obscene, considering the actual bitter and tragic circumstances, expressed by the queen herself to Elisabeth in her last letter: “I embrace you with all my heart, together with those poor dear children. My God! What agony it is to leave them forever! Adieu! Adieu! I shall henceforth pay attention to nothing but my spiritual duties.”
Fair river! in thy bright, clear flow
Of crystal, wandering water,
Thou art an emblem of the glow
Of beauty- the unhidden heart-
The playful maziness of art
In old Alberto's daughter;
That if an angel should come down from Heaven and show him any other thing than he had believed all his lifetime past he would not believe him, and that if his body should be cut joint after joint or member after member, burnt, hanged, or what pain soever might be done to his body, he would never turn from his old sect of this Bishop of Rome.
It is a startling thing, this sacred vision of God Himself coming in majesty to foretell the fall of an earthly monarch, and the vision of Christ the King to Catherine Laboure seems to have had no other purpose than to foretell the fall of Charles X of France. The mystery of it will never be fully solved; yet here and there the mind may mull over certain clues.
The greatest of these clues is the nature of the French monarchy itself, which, as Hilaire Belloc understood so well, was a holy thing, wedded to the people it ruled, and the prototype of all the monarchies of Europe. This ancient royalty had its roots in Rome and had received its Christian mandate in the crowning of Charlemagne by the Pope on Christmas Day, 800 A.D. It had lived for more than a thousand years in one line of men. No matter how great the goodness or wickedness of these royal men—and there was an ample supply of both—the sanctity of the monarchy itself and its mystical espousal to the French people is not to be questioned. In its institutions, its duties, its relationship to those it governed, its elaborate ritual, it was an imitation on a much lower plane of the Church of God. The French, kings and subjects alike, knew this well. Jeanne d'Arc was in an agony until the Dauphin should be crowned at Rheims and his body anointed and consecrated in the sacred rite which was so essential to this kingly religion; in a sense, it was her sole mission, and it is significant that her fortunes declined afterward. Louis XI had the Ampulla of holy oil brought from Rheims that his dying eyes might rest on it. Napoleon III sought to sanctify his usurpation by having himself anointed with the small, hard lump that was all that remained of the holy oil in 1853. The Kings of France, no matter how absolute their rule, had to be born and to die, had to eat and drink, take their recreation, and pray in the sight of the people. At the birth of her ill-fated Dauphin, Marie Antoinette almost died of suffocation, because of the press of the common people in her chamber, witnessing her lying-in; only the quick-witted action of a bystander, breaking a window to let in the fresh air, saved her.
The double religious family to which Catherine belonged had had official relationships with the French monarchy. Louis XIII had died in the arms of Vincent de Paul. The Founder continued to serve his widow, Anne of Austria, during the early part of her Regency, both as her confessor and as an important member of the royal Council of Conscience, a body established for the reform of the Church. Under Louis XV and Louis XVI, the Vincentian Fathers had been royal chaplains at Versailles, and, after the restoration, had been privileged to form a guard of honor about the bier of Louis XVIII.
That the vision of Christ the King had some intimate relationship with the end of the Bourbon dynasty seems evident, for Charles X was the last of the royal Bourbons; his cousin Louis Philippe, who succeeded him, belonged to a lateral line. Again we are confronted with the astonishing preoccupation of Heaven with the fortunes of France.
Before leaving this vision, we must point out the noteworthy fact that Catherine Laboure was the first saint in modern times to be vouchsafed a vision of Christ as King. In the light of the great present-day devotion to the Kingship of Christ, we would seem justified in questioning whether the vision might not have a mystical meaning. In announcing the end of the oldest of monarchies, might not Christ have meant to point up the passing quality of all earthly authority, and to foretell present-day devotion to His Kingship as the index of the eternal quality of His own Reign?
Certainly, however, Sister Laboure did not ponder thus in her heart. She knew only, as the common people know, that there was to be "a change in government," and that, as inevitably came to pass, "many miseries would follow." She knew only, as the common people know, that there had been too many changes of government in France over the last forty years, too many miseries following, and, with this instinctive knowledge of the people, she grew sad and feared.
The statesmen and politicians of the land would have laughed at the long, prophetic thoughts of the little Sister, for national order seemed well established and peace reigned. Indeed, the government was enjoying the flush of esteem that had come with the brilliant victory of the French troops in Algiers, a victory which the nation had asked through the intercession of St. Vincent. In certain coffee houses and wine shops of Paris, however, there would have been no laughter. The brutal men assembled there would merely have smiled with grim satisfaction at this forecast of success for the revolution they were plotting.(~from St. Catherine Laboure of the Miraculous Medal by Fr. Joseph Dirvin) Share