Atlantic Monthly, Vol. 8, no. 45, July, 1861

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Atlantic Monthly, Vol. 8, Issue 45, July, 1861

The Project Gutenberg eBook, Atlantic Monthly, Volume 8, Issue 45, July,
1861, by Various
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Title: Atlantic Monthly, Volume 8, Issue 45, July, 1861
Author: Various
Release Date: February 18, 2004 [eBook #11154]
Language: English
Character set encoding: ISO-8859-1
E-text prepared by Joshua Hutchinson, Tonya Allen, and Project Gutenberg Distributed Proofreaders

VOL. VIII.--JULY, 1861.--NO. XLV.

Weave no more silks, ye Lyons looms, To deck our girls for gay delights! The crimson flower of battle blooms, And solemn marches fill the nights.
Weave but the flag whose bars to-day Drooped heavy o'er our early dead, And homely garments, coarse and gray, For orphans that must earn their bread!
Keep back your tunes, ye viols sweet, That pour delight from other lands! Rouse there the dancer's restless feet,-- The trumpet leads our warrior bands.
And ye that wage the war of words With mystic fame and subtle power, Go, chatter to the idle birds, Or teach the lesson of the hour!
Ye Sibyl Arts, in one stern knot Be all your offices combined! Stand close, while Courage draws the lot, The destiny of humankind!
And if that destiny could fail, The sun should darken in the sky, The eternal bloom of Nature pale, And God, and Truth, and Freedom die!


The Mother Theresa sat in a sort of withdrawing-room, the roof of which rose in arches, starred with blue and gold like that of the cloister, and the sides were frescoed with scenes from the life of the Virgin. Over every door, and in convenient places between the paintings, tests of Holy Writ were illuminated in blue and scarlet and gold, with a richness and fancifulness of outline, as if every sacred letter had blossomed into a mystical flower. The Abbess herself, with two of her nuns, was busily embroidering a new altar-cloth, with a lavish profusion of adornment; and, from time to time, their voices rose in the musical tones of an ancient Latin hymn. The words were full of that quaint and mystical pietism with which the fashion of the times clothed the expression of devotional feeling:--
"Jesu, corona virginum, Quem mater illa concepit, Quae sola virgo parturit, Haec vota clemens accipe.
"Qui pascis inter lilia Septus choreis virginum, Sponsus decoris gloria Sponsisque reddens praemia.
"Quocunque pergis, virgines Sequuntur atque laudibus Post te canentes cursitant Hymnosque dulces personant[A]."
[Footnote A:
"Jesus, crown of virgin spirits, Whom a virgin mother bore, Graciously accept our praises While thy footsteps we adore.
"Thee among the lilies feeding Choirs of virgins walk beside, Bridegroom crowned with glorious beauty Giving beauty to thy bride.
"Where thou goest still they follow Singing, singing as they move, All those souls forever virgin Wedded only to thy love."]
This little canticle was, in truth, very different from the hymns to Venus which used to resound in the temple which the convent had displaced. The voices which sang were of a deep, plaintive contralto, much resembling the richness of a tenor, and us they moved in modulated waves of chanting sound the effect was soothing and dreamy. Agnes stopped at the door to listen.
"Stop, dear Jocunda," she said to the old woman, who was about to push her way abruptly into the room, "wait till it is over."
Jocunda, who was quite matter-of-fact in her ideas of religion, made a little movement of impatience, but was recalled to herself by observing the devout absorption with which Agnes, with clasped hands and downcast head, was mentally joining in the hymn with a solemn brightness in her young face.
"If she hasn't got a vocation, nobody ever had one," said Jocunda, mentally. "Deary me, I wish I had more of one myself!"
When the strain died away, and was succeeded by a conversation on the respective merits of two kinds of gold embroidering-thread, Agnes and Jocunda entered the apartment. Agnes went forward and kissed the hand of the Mother reverentially.
Sister Theresa we have before described as tall, pale, and sad-eyed,--a moonlight style of person, wanting in all those elements of warm color and physical solidity which give the impression of a real vital human existence. The strongest affection she had ever known had been that which had been excited by the childish beauty and graces of Agnes, and she folded her in her arms and kissed her forehead with a warmth that had in it the semblance of maternity.
"Grandmamma has given me a day to spend with you, dear mother," said Agnes.
"Welcome, dear little child!" said Mother Theresa. "Your
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