P. 41. ‘Childish laughter.’ Cf. Lib. I. section 7. ’The holy maiden, receiving the mirror, showed her joy by delighted laughter;’ and again, II. section 8, “They loved each other in the charity of the Lord, to a degree beyond all belief.’
Ibid. ‘A crystal clear.’ Cf. Lib. I. section 7.
P. 43. ‘Our fairest bride.’ Cf. Lib. I. section 8. ’No one henceforth dared oppose the marriage by word or plot, . . . and all mouths were stopped.’
NOTES TO ACT II
Pp. 45-49. Cf. Lib. II. sections 1, 5, 11, et passim.
Hitherto my notes have been a careful selection of the few grains of characteristic fact which I could find among Dietrich’s lengthy professional reflections; but the chapter on which this scene is founded is remarkable enough to be given whole, and as I have a long-standing friendship for the good old monk, who is full of honest naivete and deep-hearted sympathy, and have no wish to disgust all my readers with him, I shall give it for the most part untranslated. In the meantime those who may be shocked at certain expressions in this poem, borrowed from the Romish devotional school, may verify my language at the Romish booksellers, who find just now a rapidly increasing sale for such ware. And is it not after all a hopeful sign for the age that even the most questionable literary tastes must nowadays ally themselves with religion—that the hotbed imaginations which used to batten on Rousseau and Byron have now risen at least as high as the Vies des Saints and St. Francois de Sales’ Philothea? The truth is, that in such a time as this, in the dawn of an age of faith, whose future magnificence we may surely prognosticate from the slowness and complexity of its self-developing process, spiritual ‘Werterism,’ among other strange prolusions, must have its place. The emotions and the imaginations will assert their just right to be fed—by foul means if not by fair; and even self-torture will have charms after the utter dryness and life-in-death of mere ecclesiastical pedantry. It is good, mournful though it be, that a few, even by gorging themselves with poison, should indicate the rise of a spiritual hunger—if we do but take their fate as a warning to provide wholesome food before the new craving has extended itself to the many. It is good that religion should have its Werterism, in order that hereafter Werterism may have its religion. But to my quotations—wherein the reader will judge how difficult it has been for me to satisfy at once the delicacy of the English mind and that historic truth which the highest art demands.
’Erat inter eos honorabile connubium, et thorus immaculatus, non in ardore libidmis, sed in conjugalis sanctimoniae castitate. For the holy maiden, as soon as she was married, began to macerate her flesh with many watchings, rising every night to pray; her husband sometimes sleeping, sometimes conniving at her, often begging her, in compassion to her delicacy, not to afflict herself indiscreetly, often supporting her with his hand when she prayed.’ (’And,’ says another of her biographers, ‘being taught by her to pray with her.’) ’Great truly, was the devotion of this young girl, who, rising from the bed of her carnal husband, sought Christ, whom she loved as the true husband of her soul.