« PreviousContinue »
as if by one consent, to take breath. Alas! no need was there to continue their work; it was already finished, and the lifeless body of the young and noble monk lay stretched on that of the wounded Goth, to whom indeed it had formed a shield, which effectually protected him from the fury that had overwhelmed his preserver. When this was discovered, a universal feeling of horror seized the assembly, instead of their former rage; and when poor Adrian was borne insensible from his seat, and it was observed that Honorius himself looked nearly as pale, the feeling of shame and repentance spread.
The youthful Honorius, although greatly horrified at the scene he had just beheld, yet preserved his selfcommand; and rising from his seat, said, in a clear, yet slightly agitated voice, that made itself distinctly heard throughout the vast assembly, in which-how great a contrast to the few previous moments !—there now reigned an unbroken silence-"Romans, if indeed you deserve the name, you will, I am sure, feel, when you are able to reflect, the atrocity of the act you have this day committed; and it shall never be said that Honorius could pass over such an act of wanton barbarity without notice. My soul has long revolted against these human sacrifices, and I here pronounce my fixed and unalterable decree, that the custom of gladiatorial combat be abolished at once and for ever !"
A low murmur of submissive approbation ran round the immense multitude; and when silence was restored, Honorius continued
“ The foul murder of the unfortunate monk will cause sorrow to many a noble heart; he was the dearest friend of the empress, and also of my sister. I command that his body be interred with all splendour, at the expense of the State, and that the captives who were engaged in this day's combat be instantly set free, and their wounds attended to."
When he had concluded these words, the emperor
immediately withdrew, followed by most of his principal nobles. The sad news spread like wildfire through the before rejoicing city; and on his return to the palace, Honorius was met by a deputation of the monks whose superior had been the martyred Stephanos. They entreated permission to inter his remains in the buryingground of their monastery, as such was always known to have been his wish. The emperor at length reluctantly consented to forego his intention of honouring the martyr by a splendid funeral, and the ashes of the saint were laid to rest in peace.
The grief of Placidia and Maria, particularly the former, was overwhelming, when they heard of the murder of their friend; but Placidia, whose affections were habitually under the control of religion, soon learned to moderate her sorrow, and in the consoling belief of “the communion of saints,” she could feel comfort. What misery must not those feel on the loss of friends, who know not that the members of the Catholic Church, whether “ still in the body, or whether the next world has received their spirits,” are still in communion with each other-still members one of another! What happiness do they not lose; for they who feel this dread no separation. Death to them is not the loss of one dear, for their love extends beyond the grave.
But to return to my story. Poor Adrian had no such comfort, and continued insensible for hours. When he at last recovered, he immediately repaired to the monastery to which his friend had belonged, for the purpose of being instructed in all things necessary for a Christian to believe, for such he now really was; convinced at last of the truth of Christianity, by a means which, at the same time that it almost broke his heart, brought with it consolation in the hope of beholding that dear friend once more; and the same day that saw the burial of the martyr witnessed also the consecration of another soldier of the Cross.
In a quiet, secluded burial-ground of the Christians, in the suburbs of Rome, and adjoining the chapel of the monastery, a simple cross marked the grave of the young and noble Telemachus. The setting sun shed its softest and sweetest beams on that spot, gilding the edges of the cross, and seeming to shed a halo of glory around the martyr's grave
"Say not it dies, that glory
'Tis caught unquench'd on high.” He had not died in vain ; for from that hour the inhuman practice, against which he had protested with his life, was totally abolished. And that other wish so dear to the martyr's heart was also accomplished; for, ere that declining sun had sunk to rest, the youthful Adrian knelt by the early grave of his friend a baptized Chris tian. Long and earnestly did he pray for grace to follow, as that dear friend had done, in the steps of a crucified Saviour; that he might never be ashamed to confess his faith, but “manfully to fight under His banner, and to continue His faithful soldier and servant to his life's end.” And his prayer was fully answered, but his trial was not long; for, after five years of unflinching zeal in his Master's cause, he was assassinated with his father, by command of the weak and infatuated Honorius, who had by some means been persuaded into the belief of his great general's treason; by which act he destroyed the only remaining prop of his fast falling empire.
This, dear reader, is no imaginary tale, but a true record of the self-devotion of a faithful servant of Christ. Though fourteen centuries have elapsed since the gentle martyr won his crown, yet we, too, are soldiers, vowed to the service of the same Master; still
one faith, one Lord,” and the noble example of the monk may teach us not to despond, or to fancy that, because our single voice, raised in the cause of truth, is feeble, it is therefore of no avail.
"Faint not, and fret not, for threatened woe,
Watchman on Truth's grey height !
Weakness is aye Heaven's might.” (By permission of Mr. Masters. From the “ Churchman's
THE FLOWERS OF NATURE.
W. Hill, Author of "The Memory of Language.” The flowers of Nature in fragrance unfold, Delighting the senses—more precious than gold; The fields, clothed in verdure, a carpet display, Of velvet-like beauty, so charming and gay. The beautiful stars—shining gems of the skyThe works of our Maker, so brilliant and high, Still twinkle in beauty, in sweetness appear, On mountain, in valley, our pathway to cheer. The beautiful moon, with its silvery light, The great starry arch, so sparkling and bright, The glorious sun, the bright king of the day, The power of God and his goodness display. But nothing on earth that has e'er met our eyesThe verdure of fields, or the clouds, or the skies, The birds of the forest, that sing to the wind, Can show us the wisdom of God more than mind.
FREDERICK LOCKER. To the south of the church, and beneath yonder yew,
A pair of child lovers I've seen ; More than once they were there, and the years of the two,
When added, might number thirteen.
They sat on a grave that had never a stone
The name of the dead to determine,
A notable text for a sermon.
They tenderly prattled; what was it they said ?
The turf on that hillock was new;
Or could he be heedful of you ?
I wish to believe, and believe it I must,
Her father beneath them was laid :
That father knew all that they said.
My own, you are five, very nearly the age
Of that poor little fatherless child;
Then visit my grave like a good little lass,
Where'er it may happen to be,
Be sure they are kisses from me.
And place not a stone to distinguish my name,
For strangers to see and discuss :
And talk to him sweetly of us.
And while you are smiling, your father will smile
Such a dear little daughter to have, But mind,—Oh, yes, mind you are happy the while
I wish you to visit my grave.
(By permission of the Author.)