« PreviousContinue »
BLESSING THE BEASTS.
BY GRACE GREENWOOD.
We went, last Sunday, to see the blessing of beasts—an annual ceremony, which takes place at the Church of San Antonio. There was an immense crowd of all descriptions and classes of people ; among the rest, a vast convocation of beggars, the crippled and maimed in endless varieties, wrecks and remnants, divisions and subdivisions of men.
A priest stood on the steps of the church, with a holy-water sprinkler in his hand, and a little boy at his side, bearing the bénitier. The animals were trotted up before him ; he read a form of benediction in Latin, shook the sprinkler at them, and they were good for a twelvemonth. Of course, this is done for a consideration—as what is not, in the way of church parades, privileges, and immunities? The first applicants for a benediction, after our arrival, were two miserable old carthorses, who looked as though the blessings of all the fathers of the church could not keep them on their legs for twentyfour hours. I fear the rite was extreme unction to them; and yet the owner doubtless led them away, rejoicing in the faith that the crows were cheated of the poor skeletons for a year to come.
Next came a drove of donkeys, with their heads and tails
decorated with gay ribbons. One of these committed the ever-to-be-apprehended asinine impropriety of braying in the midst of the ceremony. So absurd, ludicrous, and pompously farcical was this scene,—so stupid, yet consciously ridiculous seemed the chief actors,—that it struck me the benediction might have commenced without great inappropriateness with an apostolic “dearly-beloved brethren !"
I trust I shall not be thought irreverent from this or any thing of the kind I may say. I feel a daily-increasing indignation and contempt towards the monstrous absurdities of this system of religion and the actors therein. To reverence such things and such men were an insult to the God in whom I believe.
There came up a sudden and violent shower, and we were driven for shelter into the church, where we were brought into more intimate relations with the lower classes than was altogether safe or savory. I am a democrat, even in Italy, till it comes to garlic and pulci, when I must confess, my democracy assumes a purely abstract character. After the storm was passed, the Pope's stud came, mostly driven in carriages, magnificent turnouts. Then followed those of the cardinals, scarcely less stately and gorgeous. Next came twenty-four superb horses, belonging to Prince Piombino, attached to one carriage, all decorated with plumes and ribbons—really a beautiful sight.
The horses which are to run in the Corso, during the Carnival, were blessed amid unusual demonstrations of popular feeling ; and so it ended—the oldest, absurdest, most utterly ridiculous religious ceremonial I ever beheld.
THOUGH earthly interest takes flight,
Or sobs upon the sod;
And leave the rest to God."
Though scoffs and jeers thy frenzied foes
Roll on thee like a flood,
They cannot harm the good;
Do right, and bravely bear each blow;
A blessing will be given-
In yonder smiling heaven.
“Do right, and leave the rest to God."
THE SILENT SCOURGE.
BY THE EDITOR,
Never was the near future of political parties in this country so seething with anxious hopes, and doubts, and fears ; never so pregnant with inexplicable terrors to time-servers and place-men ; never so ominous to demagogues and hucksters in the field of politics as now. From the tap-room to the Senate Chamber, wherever party organization has heretofore stalked, confident and defiant—wherever the edict of the bully-governed caucus has decided nominations and appointments, and ruled with a rude, yet iron hand, the rank and file of the people—led like sheep to the slaughter-at the ballotbox, all is dismay and trembling. The mouthing impudence, so brazen and brow-beating until now, is as suddenly hushed as though the finger of death was on its lips—no grim skeleton ever brought such stilness to an Egyptian feast." All ears are open to hear, all eyes are staring to see, and all tongues are questioning the course of the silent scourge that has risen up in the land, invisible and secret as sleeping lightning, to rebuke and punish the traders and traitors who have so long corrupted the national franchise, and brought the country to shame and nigh to ruin.
Who is it—what is it—and where is it—this scourge, so potent and purifying ? Who conceived it—who evoked it and how and where is it to end, if, indeed, it end at all ? Mighty and mysterious scourge! preceded by no rumbling, yet it stirs all the land, bursting like a sudden earthquake wherever its fires are called to purge Freedom's palladium, and make the ballot what the framers of the Republic intended,
-"A weapon surer yet,
As snow flakes fall upon the sod,
As lightnings do the will of God !"
East and West, and North and South—in the chief marts and capitals of the Union, its stroke has fallen swift and sure, and politicians and parties, stripped of every gauge of accustomed calculation, have only been aware of its presence when they saw their petted candidates and schemes rolling headlong in the ditch of overwhelming defeat. New Orleans, long at the mercy of insolent, foreign-born brawlers, bears witness! So does Washington, as it will, despite the executive guillotine that flashes its knife madly and in vain. So do St. Louiswhere the German boasted that the American should be put down--and Philadelphia—desecrated too long by foreignborn mobs-and Mobile, and Norfolk, and many a lesser place we might name. And so, by-and-by, in our own city and State, this silent scourge will fall, and many a demagogue's back will writhe under the biting blow, and all true men will gladly confess that this is yet an American land, and that Americans can and will rule it, as they ought ever to have done.