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The morning star and Catholic messenger. [volume] (New Orleans [La.]) 1868-1881, December 13, 1868, Morning, Image 1

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Persistent link: https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn86086284/1868-12-13/ed-1/seq-1/

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ea owNL UaS.1UNDAT. D,cMUxsn.'19M.
Two 3TeoZs roxI THR aEarWnAR JIUat
BY OAYVARU.
Thoaugh the wind blew oerce, and the.
snow fell fast, ad.thesoot-flakes tumbled
down the ehlmdey at Christmas time, thp
frosty dear old festival will bring its sp
cial deloghts, its graeious houghts, that
blossom,. like its own rose, by stormy ga
bles, and amid lealles gardens, duin
its sweet breath around when the violets
are still under the earth, and the farse is
blossomless on the uplands. The gloiy of
the timelies in theoontrasts whichit evokes
and multiplies. Abroad the stubble is stif
with ice; the elds, if. not white, are cover
ed-with the yellow tint of decay; the brook
is thicksa. immovable - our trees do nbt
afford a solitary green bud to rellerwethe
Suniversal drearines in which, from their
melancholy looks and pinched bodies, even
Sthe dumb animals of the stall and paddock
might be supposed to participate. Within
doors the-hesarth'i bright, for there the tra
-ditional log burns, sending out all sorts of
extravagant sparks, squibs, and crackers.
An unusitll glow pervades the house, and
every one seems determined to be happy.
However poor the hduse old,'howev.er.nu
merous 'ie little ones -thagather round the
`i ýuseftbtrofty owlisturw
to find its way to the pot, and even a bit
of sweet eake, or a morsel of plain dessert
is eked out of the family resources. In
many humble homea.Christmas is the asni=
versary of a great household purification.
Only to see how the ceilings glitter with
fesh wash; how the dingy moth-eaten
floors become almost white; Low the mil
dewed panes .grow transparent; how the
plates and dishes- shine, each in its proper
place- a rare pleasure Itis fneto seek
e dark boughs of holly, often gorgeously
jeweled with bunehes of blood-red berries,
and the tWinkling laurel-like branches of
ivy with which the good woman decorates
her candlesticks and polished tins, sticking
a little-bit in every crevice and coign of
vantage, where a glimpee of bright foliage
and a spray of crimson fruit will catch the
eye and show to advantage. And then the
Christmas candle, which has been hanging
by the wick a whole fortnight in the chand
ler's window ! How the children look at it,
and wonder how much- it weighs! With
what pride the door man lights it before
midnight with as unsteady hand, and face
averted from. the light; whilst his wife
stands in his shadow, and a tear gathers to
her eyes, as she looks back at the lonafiro
cession of Christmas candles which streamr
with a fading light into a fairer Past t With
Christmas time, old' face catch up ~happa
reflections of youth, and young faces fus
- Wilt 'dl'ie excitement ke pJ . e
grapes-" up to the surface f  o f
mees' I kew.ewpvendeable did friecnd,
ofa.ll tias J the year, ,would .datieoaly
at Cbhrlstmas In the chimney  m ks.,ou
may beshe b ftes g gagr pfg is
peoople; and. Fromall corners c fterouIse
Sme. merry- chatter of the littlefolksas they
.,apeenlato on' sweetmeats and Christmas
boxes, an t na 6r lest; the rasltig
rospeat'oiv61M'e s 'sid ia $id n ýl s' 'If jvqu
alaookab , puapLig y ou eye to the slio it
'tht e yous il acroaas'thlie attee
heapsof white abpt le and ,pendaa
chhmney taekij ''throwmgu brod :bars [email protected]
ashen hae athwart the spotless roofs, wit
the wathmada standing contemplatively.on
tjieilags, Lisa oi3ed hi;t glisateingii the pure
tranquil moonlight. Perchance some. pooe
unfriended mother or sister, some homeless
oauteast, ragged and shivering, may catch
yopr eye; and if so, holy and wholesome i
the practice which good people have ne
. forgotten, ofopening their doors and pock
ets to the poorat thistouching season. ve
the legalized cruelty of the Workhouse mol
lifles its-severity before the Christmas fire
and our poorer brethren who sit, day after
day, between life and death, in its cold an,
blinding dungeons, get a morsel of join
and pudding on the day of our Lord's na.
tivity which the system that starves then
officially recognises as merely the 25th dae
of the twelfth month. Our jails, also, throw
open their terrible doors, and permit th:
worst criminal to receive little comfort!
from his friends outside. Blessings upoi
the day which can wring compassion from
the Workhouse, and mercy from the jail!
Sometimes the wind will roar down the
streets, dtifing the snow . twisting-th
chimney- until they p.n, and.endlng
all the i-boards swinging to-and-fro like
dpib, ohlmes; the giss will lqasb, thtroof
shake, and the soot dance down the chim
ney--ah I those are the pleasant aco ipeal;
meonte to the festival. Itis the snow.and
the wind crying: " Asyou won't let us in,
we will have a Christmas of our own on the
leade, and gutters, and spouts,- and ouse
top-s-sban't we " says the snow. And the
wind roars out a mighty affirmative. The
-little children clap their hands, for their
glee is boundless; and the old people took
jolly, and exclaim: "God bless as, what a
windy Christmas I"
I know how they manage to keep Christ
mas in great houses. There, indeedlt is a
common-place affair enough, for with it
come no contrasts-because puddings and
on a ritm as-boxew.s re no novel
t. i tio the dw ner therein. i ro.,}: hind
them sitting, those great, old poie peo
ple, in-one vast, luxurious apartment, red
curtained, soft-carpeted, amid the riobhest
furniture, and, the dearest glass, and the
finest-plate..- - Theysit--on-straight-backed
chairs, those people do, with very grave
faces and very..low voices; very proper,
very admirable conducet I admit; but I love
to be pleasant asoell-~a=wise, and prefer
natrae to p ne. The little chil
d -lled elbows eon-the-glitter
ing tables, and criticise the pictures, amnd
turn over the leaves of their Christmas,
books, for all the world like old people.
Mamma is languid, and papa looks as if he
wished the night was over, that he might
look gloomy and discontented- agan with
out any breach of ropriety. Theprt
-ment is beautiful - bdt not a bit of bolly,
not a bit of ivy, because, as my lady tells
the chiliren, who have brought up rptua
rons accounts of the style in which the ser
vants ' hall-is done up with boughs and ber
ries, they are vulgar, and only used by the
poorer classes. When the tea equipage has
been removed, papa generally calls on the
youngest daughter to play her last piano
exercise, or, as he particularizes it, "that
thing about the fiats." And when she has
wearied her thin, little fingers over the
keys, mamma says: " My dears, it is bed
time ;" and the bell is rung, and the dyars
are kissed, and the maid takes them up to
bed, where they lie awake for hours, listen
ing to the poor man in tire sad coat, and his
poor wife in the limp dress, who are sing
iu - Christmas carols tin-der the windows.
It is a fine thing, I krow, to be rich and
wear diamonds, and-~ o o church in a load
of furs and a fashionable carriage; but to
enjoy Christmas as it ough to hbe enjoyed,
one must have tasted jmv ty, and dined
occasionally with that highborn and teum
jerate noblewoman who was .wifeto.DuI4e
Hamphrey. I know of only one man of rsqa
whocan be said to. have r' htly, .ejoyed
Chritmas, and that was Sirog -Co
ekd."' Lpbtk at .hiletter to Mr.I Sph,;ior,
%n ,whch,he'tella'him:thatatC Christmas he
ut vayskeeps a good joint and a stout lagon
.oh tbo';'seboa1d for the entertainslatitaf
the destitute. BLess that dear old heart.
Chyjisthas is thb' apotheosis of poverty.
Therefore.it is that goo0daugels sit, in that
holy season, by the: firesides of the poo
and ath t toendaerly-disgsled minister
God's bounty; whom men call Chanoe, drops
unaicauntable crowns into emnpty ocketl,
and replenishes the erase of theliadige .
When I look back upon .the Christmases
of two certain years, and put tleiTr'sepaite
experiences together, I cannot help think
ing that they. present as many shades and
contrasts of thought and situation as could
be easily' collecte within so narrow a com
pass. Recalling the special incidents and
surroundings which serve to distinguish one
from the other, the misery and desolation
which, darkened one festival, the sadden
happiness which lighted upon the other4l
cannot help feeling thankful; and, mixing
the bitter and,the sweetin one foaming hip
Spcrene, I find the draught taste delicious.
I know a man, walking.dally in the traffic
ratted highways of trde, bui-d with_
keen perceptions and-noble  ons of
great truths, which to our loo loss,
lack a higher direction and a bolder flight,
who asserts that st the day of judgment the
3 economy of God's providence will be vin
dicated in our suddenly seeing, that how
ever dissmilar was our lot in the bygone
world, ech and'aUl enjoyed an equal men
ute-of ilapptle's. .-pplying to thiadoo
-triethe-toaebstn e of my own fortunes, I
am ionvinced it i sound and rational. The
Jewelibeaded toad remained for many cen
tasres the dominant type-of--ood involv~d
in evil; but physical science gave us a bet
ter fllpatration of the goodness which may
be iaImact in filth, when it extracted mar
veliusly brilliant dyes, and refreshing per
fumet from the "dreg and sediment of the
ass houe. Dare I belive that my neigh
bor opposite, who reelines daily at a ban
qet, and piekb his teeth with a 'diamoud
stett, is a whit happier than I, who must
needs be content with a steak for dinner
and a turn in the park by way of dessert #
On the contrar7,I go so far as to fancy that
the man in.tbick shoes and tattered coat,
who pumps from morning until night atthe
square corner, is as happy as either. I am
fully satisfied that pain and pleasure have
their compenting balances~-that if my
neighbor dises sumptuously,. Iam, not
Micteda with his dyspepsa-that if my
friend in the thick ihoes works hard and
lives frugally, his wants are below reproach,
and he may smile at the taxman. In this
-way I develop the serenity -with which L
can afford to remember my two Christmases.
MT FIRST CHRISTMAS.
John and William, and Edward and I,
Richard, were bound apprentices in a great
house at the-end -of -a Mreat dingy-street,
about the centre of a great city. None of
us had rich parents or wealthy-friends to
care for us. We were very poor, and what
is worse, very hopeless. Three of us were
orphans; and William, who, because he was
habitually addieted to playing pantomimic
tunes on the kitchen bellows with the
kitchen poker for a bow, we bad affection
ately named Fiddler, afterwards contracted
to Fid, had a dying mother. He wasver
small, -and some one with whom he a
quarrel, nick-named-him- ' the Widow's
Mite." Of his father, who had emigrated
to Canada wheu1Fid was a baby at breast,
nothing was known, thougi a good deal was
surmised. John was a quiet, large-headed"
boy, of whom, as our mistress, Mrs. Millet,
used to say, "nobody knew nothing," but we
did not loveliim theless on that account. He
was a natural, tonder-hearted fellow, very
fond of sleep when he could get it, who
looked on every kind-faced man as his fa
ther and on every genteel woman as his
mother. Thomas was a fair-haired, ner
vous little fellow, very consumptive in look,
very playful, very affectionate. Our friend
Edward-we always called him Ned-was
-merry-hearted- ad, -who; althouglh hene
veo said a queer word, much lees to venture
ih a joke was a famous sidger of comic
songs. We four, by some process which is
not satisfactorily explained even by the
theory-of-Elective Affinities, somehow hap
peped to come together as poor apprentices
unidei tliat cold roof in the great house in
that great city. W" weire hard-worked,
IIIfe sparely-cloth, We e.iblved4 io
age our status in tbe establishment be
ing *coesiderably below that of the .house
keeper's cat and our master's pet cokatoo.
From seven o'clock, daily, Ir.til:ten o'clock
a~ aight, we worked in ts stt' tlIveatiated,
camelling shop, shoulderming our way
~d' eat'we could througk balS'orgoods aasd
astW a sof customers under' ite-cold, critl
eye of our maper, Mr. Millet. It was a
very lorrowing .occapation, you may be
sure; jor we wese eapeeted to plesep every
body, and to spare no lying, no cosening in
boisting on our customers a store full of
dosed goods, which had been years upon
years on hands, and was ra |dlr losing all
value. I remember Mr. Millet distinctly.
He was a tall, well-built broad-obcheted
map; hiis face was a fat oblong, bordered
with faint indications of whiskers, .mpd
lighted up by thie -iost malignant af
watchful of eyes. There was a terrible so
vagenede in his thik compressed lips and
massive chin, which none of us, for certain
rational reasons, much liked. As I have
maid, he was very fat; aInd this was most
perceptible in the region of the eyes, which
preseat thilkstps of multiplied wrinkles,
iwhlseh,trti~ frsa the corner of his lids,
sia~l be ander his hair. It was hise
dudrg businaes hours to walk hur
zaledly up and don,the shop, jipgling gold
and silverýpie iir ls breeches pockets,
and stopping, when the hnumour seized him,
to directsomeebrrtal reproach or slightly
qualified inpreeation at us, poor aprentices.
We lived' in a state of constant fear and ir
ritation, and he knew it. When ten o'elock
at nif!ht came, one of us would steal out in
the ark to put up the shutters, takinig
care not to speak to the policeman, a crime
unpardonable in a poor apprentice. Then
the shop would be closed and Fid or I
would take the keys upstairs and having
laid them down ilently at Mr. Millet'se
bow follow the rest of the apprentfies to
the kitchen, where we sat until bedtime.
We were given supper, but the bread was
so bad that it was hard to eat; and the
milk which was kept in a tankard sus
pende to the water-butt, was very thin,
and made us feel very sick. When we had
made a show of eating we drew a long form
to one side of the fire, and, having drawn
lots for places, would sit down. If wein
dulged in a chat we were obliged to select
the topics with great prudence, for we were
within earshot of the housekeeper a lady
who exhibited a marvellous taste for carry
uing stories to head-quarters, and qmbroil
I in'g us with the authorities. At 'eleven
O'clok came thelorderfor bed, accompanied
by strict injunctions not to speak when we
got there. No light of any description-was
allowed, lest, as It was.charitably intimat
ed, we should "try to set fireto the house."
Mr. Millet's parlor door had to be phased
on our way up; it was nothing uncommon
to find, that gentleman, candle in hand, on
the lobby, waiting to-reviews. -In- so do
ing he was generally assisted by Mrs. Millet,
a coarse-minded, good-looking woman, who
dressed expensively and, vulgarly at the
same time.
* "Stop," be would say to us, and them to
his wife, "Mrs. Millet, bear witness, there
is them bys.- I'd like to know who clothes
them, I'd like to know who feeds them,
Mrs. Millet; who but their natural protec
tor T"
-" You puppies," Mrs. Millet would say,
S"why don't you say -es t'" Of epurse we
all said " Yes."
"Haven't I treated them," he would con
I inue, "as if they -were born proper; as if
' their fathers and mothers could be had to
the good ? Don't I " This question was
invariably put with a good deal of vivacity,
the speaker seizing one of us, poor appren
tioes, by the hair, and pressing his knuckles
under our ears until we were glad to say
"Yes, sir."
"And who sends them to bed, Mrs. Mil
let I who saves them from transportation,
and from hanging, I'd like to know ? Go to
bed, yon sneaking saivellers. Goe!" BMr.
Millet would say, and we were only too hap.
py to follow his instructions.
3 Having crept-intobedweputlled theclothes
over our heads-and chatted in whispers
until we fell asleep. These were dull times,
you .may be sure; but there was no help
for it. We were friendless and penniless;
I and, bad as the great house in the great
i street was, there remained for us no other
, home in the wide world.
Christmas -came.. And who is it, how
ever miserable, ~an refuse a peaceful heart
and a holiday smile (clown's paintas it may
be) when touched by the gentle inspirations
c :of the blessed season Itwas a cold, d. y
Christmas eve ; the black frost lay hard
and mslipry on the flagstones; thea sky was
I ofitllit be, with on of lights spar -
1 ing on the windowi of the dingy shop;
Sfpffy heaps of snow lay orammed in be
tB ween the tops of the street railings, and on
the corner of mouldings of the sign-boards,
r and on the tops of the gas-lamps, and in
f every nook and cranny where its prd pre
i sence could find a refuge. The streets
1 were thick with people coming and going
to market, and their pleasant voices pene
l: trated to where we stood. It was misera
I ble to be there when every one around us
I was so happy; but what could be done?
I When we heard the clock strike eight, John
- suggested that we, poor apprentices, should
I send Mr. Millet a petition, begging him,
i because it was Christmas eve, to permit the
e shop to be closed at nine o'clock. Fid was
t generally our literary3 man; but as he was
despondent and sad in consequence of hear
, ing that his mother was at the point of
, death, John drew up the petition, and it
d was taken up stairs by the housemaid. In
- a fewminutes she returned, pained and sor
I rowful. "Master says," said the woman,
, "that as because you're blackguards, not to
, elose the shop until eleven o'clock." We
looked at each other in- blank, miserable
amasement. "What do* you sny. to that,
Fid 9t" asked Ned. "God forgiv m him" re
pliedFid and this was the only allusion
we made to the ukase.. The eloek struck
the quarters, and the two hours semoed
quadrupled in length. Sinee seven in the
evening a siangle euo aer had not erossed
the threshold, except a poor man, who-ask
ed us, as if in sarcasm, to help the distress
ed. The night grew colder and colder; the
frosty stars-shore keener; the wind blow
the snow off the streets into our feces, until
we shivered and hdddled ourselvestog r
for warmth. The streets grew deserted
and at last eleven o'clock came, and with
it came Mr. Millet. He wbs flushed froen
drink or excitement. He flung the shop
door'suddenly open, and glared at as, poor
apprentices, with those horrible eyes of his -
from the top of the step. Fid gazed up in
to the flabby face with a feart .curiosity,
and continued looking until I, who know
the consequence of such imprudence, touch
ed him with my foot.
"Who wrote that t" asked Mr. Millet
producingr'he bit of paper on whic we haid
written our petition'. "Who wrote that I"
There was a fearful silence for a few min
utes. " You pack of squalid curs," said Mr.
Millet, "am I to be answered ? Who
wrote-that t"
" I-I did sir," said John.
Mr. Millet descended and caught John by
the head. "You lying scoundrel," lie roar
ed, "have- you the fae-to-tell,,ethat yon -
wrote that, up to my teeth 7" Hitting the
poor boy about the ears, dismissed him to
bed without supper. John disappeared.
"Close that door I" eexclaimed Mr. Millet,
pointingto the public entrance. And then
with a disgastinmg shrivel of the wrinkles
Sabout his eyes, he added, "I'd have you
take care of yourselves. You know me.
Do you know me t" We said, " We did,"
very humbly. He then went up stairs, de
siring us to follow him. Wondering what
would happen next, and after a little fight
on the lobby to know who would go first, I
led the way to the parlor, and" Fid and Ed
Sward followed. We Stood outside the door
until desired to come in. Mr. Millet was
seated at the fire; Mrs. Millet lay on 'tite
sofa, with a very languid air, which I inte
riorly attributed totoo such bflndy. "El
len-Mrs. Millet," said the geptleinan, "I
have brought you four-no, there's one
gone to bed-hopeless ruffians. Look at
them as they stand before you. Such de
pravity is awful, Mrs. Millet."
Mrs. Millet looked at us, and only said,
"Shocking."
I have brought on four 4neaks," he
continued, "as do creditito the con
Sdemned cell,,and yet, u k'ow and as -
Sthey know, I spares them. 'llI know
them when thejudge says to them- 's
your character? 'Twill be no use- -
witness, Mrs. Millet-for them to be dom
ing suivellipg to me. No-I shall uaj,"
r continued Mr. Millet, rising with a slight
stagger and revolting draw upof thewrnk
lea, "let justice have its due-- grant noa
t commotation."
" Yer' proper", observed Mrs: .Mhii)t. -
"Faugh; I'm a Dutehman if they doesn't
swell o onions."
Considering that the lady berself flad pro
vided the obnoxious vegetable, the objec- -
tion was scarcely reasonable.
"How dare y6u saf611 of onions I" ked
Mr. Millet. "Phewl the house is alive
with them." *
Ned ventured to sayr that he had onions
for dinner, in return for which information
Mr. Millet squeezed his'knuckles under the
boy's ear, and when he shrieked with pain,
told him to hold his tongue in future until
he was spoken to. -
"This is Christmas," said Mr. Millet
with a very lofty air. "My dear, I wisi
you a sappy Christmas. May dear, give -
those bad lads a bun a piece.
Mrs. Millet looked up in astonishment.
Her face grew red and her frame shook with
emotion. "Mr. Millet," she said, "I never
encourages vice. give them buns I Why
the next thing they'll ask is clean shirts
Severy Sunday. Buns indeed !" .
Mr. Millet was humiliated. "Who spoke
of buns ?" he asked, turning to me. I said
I believed nobody, and for capital good rea
sons he abstained from pressing the inquiry
further. "What are you snivelling about?'
S (Continued on Eighth Page.)

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