List Of Contents | Contents of The Wandering Jew, V5, by Eugene Sue
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a pitiless power with mechanical precision, just like the inanimate works
of a watch."

"But order, submission and regularity are the first foundations of our
Company, my dear son."

"Alas, father! it was death, not life, that I found thus organized.  In
the midst of this destruction of every generous principle, I devoted
myself to scholastic and theological studies--gloomy studies--a wily,
menacing, and hostile science which, always awake to ideas of peril,
contest, and war, is opposed to all those of peace, progress, and

"Theology, my dear son," said Father d'Aigrigny, sternly, "is at once a
buckler and a sword; a buckler, to protect and cover the Catholic faith--
a sword, to attack and combat heresy."

"And yet, father, Christ and His apostles knew not this subtle science:
their simple and touching words regenerated mankind, and set freedom over
slavery.  Does not the divine code of the Gospel suffice to teach men to
love one another?  But, alas! far from speaking to us this language, our
attention was too often occupied with wars of religion, and the rivers of
blood that had flowed in honor of the Lord, and for the destruction of
heresy.  These terrible lessons made our life still more melancholy.  As
we grew near to manhood, our relations at the seminary assumed a growing
character of bitterness, jealousy and suspicion.  The habit of tale-
bearing against each other, applied to more serious subjects, engendered
silent hate and profound resentments.  I was neither better nor worse
than the others.  All of us, bowed down for years beneath the iron yoke
of passive obedience, unaccustomed to reflection or free-will, humble and
trembling before our superiors, had the same pale, dull, colorless
disposition.  At last I took orders; once a priest, you invited me,
father, to enter the Company of Jesus, or rather I found myself
insensibly brought to this determination.  How, I do not know.  For a
long time before, my will was not my own.  I went through all my proofs;
the most terrible was decisive; for some months, I lived in the silence
of my cell, practicing with resignation the strange and mechanical
exercises that you ordered me.  With the exception of your reverence,
nobody approached me during that long space of time; no human voice but
yours sounded in my ear.  Sometimes, in the night, I felt vague terrors;
my mind, weakened by fasting, austerity, and solitude, was impressed with
frightful visions.  At other times, on the contrary, I felt a sort of
quiescence, in the idea that, having once pronounced my vows, I should be
delivered for ever from the burden of thought and will.  Then I abandoned
myself to an insurmountable torpor, like those unfortunate wretches, who,
surprised by a snow-storm, yield to a suicidal repose.  Thus I awaited
the fatal moment.  At last, according to the rule of discipline, choking
with the death rattle,[17] I hastened the moment of accomplishing the
final act of my expiring will--the vow to renounce it for ever."

"Remember, my dear son," replied Father d'Aigrigny, pale and tortured by
increasing anguish, "remember, that, on the eve of the day fixed for the
completion of your vows; I offered, according to the rule of our Company,
to absolve you from joining us--leaving you completely free, for we
accept none but voluntary vocations."

"It is true, father," answered Gabriel, with sorrowful bitterness; "when,
worn out and broken by three months of solitude and trial, I was
completely exhausted, and unable to move a step, you opened the door of
my cell, and said to me: 'If you like, rise and walk; you are free; Alas!
I had no more strength.  The only desire of my soul, inert and paralyzed
for so long a period, was the repose of the grave; and pronouncing those
irrevocable vows, I fell, like a corpse, into your hands."

"And, till now, my dear son, you have never failed in this corpse--like
obedience,--to use the expression of our glorious founder--because, the
more absolute this obedience, the more meritorious it must be."

After a moment's silence, Gabriel resumed: "You had always concealed from
me, father, the true ends of the Society into which I entered.  I was
asked to abandon my free-will to my superiors, in the name of the Greater
Glory of God.  My vows once pronounced, I was to be in your hands a
docile and obedient instrument; but I was to be employed, you told me, in
a holy, great and beauteous work.  I believed you, father--how should I
not have believed you? but a fatal event changed my destiny--a painful
malady caused by--"

"My son," cried Father d'Aigrigny, interrupting Gabriel, "it is useless
to recall these circumstances."

"Pardon me, father, I must recall them.  I have the right to be heard.  I
cannot pass over in silence any of the facts, which have led me to take
the immutable resolution that I am about to announce to you."

"Speak on, my son," said Father d'Aigrigny, frowning; for he was much
alarmed at the words of the young priest, whose cheeks, until now pale,
were covered with a deep blush.

"Six months before my departure for America," resumed Gabriel, casting
down his eyes, "you informed me, that I was destined to confess
penitents; and to prepare then for that sacred ministry, you gave me a

Gabriel again hesitated.  His blushes increased.  Father d'Aigrigny could
scarcely restrain a start of impatience and anger.

"You gave me a book," resumed the young priest, with a great effort to
control himself, "a book containing questions to be addressed by a
confessor to youths, and young girls, and married women, when they
present themselves at the tribunal of penance.  My God!" added Gabriel,
shuddering at the remembrance.  "I shall never forget that awful moment.
It was night.  I had retired to my chamber, taking with me this book,
composed, you told me, by one of our fathers, and completed by a holy
bishop.[18] Full of respect, faith, and confidence, I opened those pages.
At first, I did not understand them--afterwards I understood--and then I
was seized with shame and horror--struck with stupor--and had hardly
strength to close, with trembling hand, this abominable volume.  I ran to
you, father, to accuse myself of having involuntarily cast my eyes on
those nameless pages, which, by mistake, you had placed in my hands."

"Remember, also, my dear son," said Father d'Aigrigny, gravely, "that I
calmed your scruples, and told you that a priest, who is bound to hear
everything under the seal of confession, must be able to know and
appreciate everything; and that our Company imposes the task of reading
this Compendium, as a classical work, upon young deacons seminarists, and
priests, who are destined to be confessors."

"I believed you, father.  In me the habit of inert obedience was so
powerful, and I was so unaccustomed to independent reflection, that,
notwithstanding my horror (with which I now reproached myself as with a
crime), I took the volume back into my chamber, and read.  Oh, father!
what a dreadful revelation of criminal fancies, guilty of guiltiest in
their refinement!"

"You speak of this book in blamable terms," skid Father d'Aigrigny,
severely; "you were the victim of a too lively imagination.  It is to it
that you must attribute this fatal impression, and not to an excellent
work, irreproachable for its special purpose, and duly authorized by the
Church.  You are not able to judge of such a production."

"I will speak of it no more, father," said Gabriel: and he thus resumed:
"A long illness followed that terrible night.  Many times, they feared
for my reason.  When I recovered, the past appeared to me like a painful
dream.  You told me, then, father, that I was not yet ripe for certain
functions; and it was then that I earnestly entreated you to be allowed
to go on the American missions.  After having long refused my prayer, you
at length consented.  From my childhood, I had always lived in the
college or seminary, to a state of continual restraint and subjection.
By constantly holding down my head and eyes, I had lost the habit of
contemplating the heavens and the splendors of nature.  But, oh! what
deep, religious happiness I felt, when I found myself suddenly
transported to the centre of the imposing grandeur of the seas-half-way
between the ocean and the sky!--I seemed to come forth from a place of
thick darkness; for the first time, for many years, I felt my heart beat
freely in my bosom; for the first time, I felt myself master of my own
thoughts, and ventured to examine my past life, as from the summit of a
mountain, one looks down into a gloomy vale.  Then strange doubts rose
within me.  I asked myself by what right, and for what end, any beings
had so long repressed, almost annihilated, the exercise of my will, of my
liberty, of my reason, since God had endowed me with these gifts.  But I
said to myself, that perhaps, one day, the great, beauteous, and holy
work, in which I was to have my share, would be revealed to me, and would
recompense my obedience and resignation."

At this moment, Rodin re-entered the room.  Father d'Aigrigny questioned
him with a significant look.  The socius approached, and said to him in a
low voice, so, that Gabriel could not hear: "Nothing serious.  It was
only to inform me, that Marshal Simon's father is arrived at M. Hardy's

Then, glancing at Gabriel, Rodin appeared to interrogate Father
d'Aigrigny, who hung his head with a desponding air.  Yet he resumed,
again addressing Gabriel, whilst Rodin took his old place, with his elbow
on the chimney-piece: "Go on, my dear son.  I am anxious to learn what
resolution you have adopted."

"I will tell you in a moment, father.  I arrived at Charleston.  The
superior of our establishment in that place, to whom I imparted my doubts
as to the object of our Society, took upon himself to clear them up, and
unveiled it all to me with alarming frankness.  He told me the tendency-
not perhaps of all the members of the Company, for a great number must
have shared my ignorance--but the objects which our leaders have
pertinaciously kept in view, ever since the foundation of the Order.  I
was terrified.  I read the casuists.  Oh, father! that was a new and
dreadful revelation, when, at every page, I read the excuse and
justification of robbery, slander, adultery, perjury, murder, regicide.
When I considered that I, the priest of a God of charity, justice,
pardon, and love, was to belong henceforth to a Company, whose chiefs
professed and glorified in such doctrines, I made a solemn oath to break
for ever the ties which bound me to it!"[19]

On these words of Gabriel, Father d'Aigrigny and Rodin exchanged a look
of terror.  All was lost; their prey had escaped them.  Deeply moved by
the remembrances he recalled, Gabriel did not perceive the action of the
reverend father and the socius, and thus continued: "In spite of my
resolution, father, to quit the Company, the discovery I had made was
very painful to me.  Oh! believe me, for the honest and loving soul,
nothing is more frightful than to have to renounce what it has long
respected!--I suffered so much, that, when I thought of the dangers of my
mission, I hoped, with a secret joy, that God would perhaps take me to
Himself under these circumstances: but, on the contrary, He watched over
me with providential solicitude."

As he said this, Gabriel felt a thrill, for he remembered a Mysterious
Woman who had saved his life in America.  After a moment's silence, he
resumed: "My mission terminated, I returned hither to beg, father, that
you would release me from my vows.  Many times but in vain, I solicited
an interview.  Yesterday, it pleased Providence that I should have a long
conversation with my adopted mother; from her I learned the trick by
which my vocation had been forced upon me--and the sacrilegious abuse of
the confessional, by which she had been induced to entrust to other
persons the orphans that a dying mother had confided to the care of an
honest soldier.  You understand, father, that, if even I had before
hesitated to break these bonds, what I have heard yesterday must have
rendered my decision irrevocable.  But at this solemn moment, father, I
am bound to tell you, that I do not accuse the whole Society; many
simple, credulous, and confiding men, like myself, must no doubt form
part of it.  Docile instruments, they see not in their blindness the work
to which they are destined.  I pity them, and pray God to enlighten them,
as he has enlightened me."

"So, my son," said Father d'Aigrigny, rising with livid and despairing
look, "you come to ask of me to break the ties which attach you to the

"Yes, father; you received my vows--it is for you to release me from

"So, my son, you understand that engagements once freely taken by you,
are now to be considered as null and void?"

"Yes, father."

"So, my son, there is to be henceforth nothing in common between you and
our Company?"

"No, father--since I request you to absolve me of my vows."

"But, you know, my son, that the Society may release you--but that you
cannot release yourself."

"The step I take proves to you, father, the importance I attach to an
oath, since I come to you to release me from it.  Nevertheless, were you
to refuse me, I should not think myself bound in the eyes of God or man."

"It is perfectly clear," said Father d'Aigrigny to Rodin, his voice
expiring upon his lips, so deep was his despair.

Suddenly, whilst Gabriel, with downcast eyes, waited for the answer of
Father d'Aigrigny, who remained mute and motionless, Rodin appeared
struck with a new idea, on perceiving that the reverend father still held
in his hand the note written in pencil.  The socius hastily approached
Father d'Aigrigny, and said to him in a whisper, with a look of doubt and
alarm: "Have you not read my note?"

"I did not think of it," answered the reverend father, mechanically.

Rodin appeared to make a great effort to repress a movement of violent
rage.  Then he said to Father d'Aigrigny, in a calm voice: "Read it now."

Hardly had the reverend father cast his eyes upon this note, than a
sudden ray of hope illumined his hitherto despairing countenance.
Pressing the hand of the socius with an expression of deep gratitude, he
said to him in a low voice: "You are right.  Gabriel is ours."

[16] The statutes formally state that the Company can expel all drones
and wasps, but that no man can break his ties, if the Order wishes to
retain him.

[17] This is their own command.  The constitution expressly bids the
novice wait for this decisive climax of the ordeal before taking the vows
of God.

[18] It is impossible, even in Latin, to give our readers an idea of this
infamous work.

[19] This is true.  See the extracts from the Compendium for the use of
Schools, published under the title of "Discoveries by a Bibliophilist."
Strasburg, 1843.  For regicide, see Sanchez and others.



Before again addressing Gabriel, Father d'Aigrigny carefully reflected;
and his countenance, lately so disturbed, became gradually once more

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