No—he was far too promising a youth to estrange by the expulsion without ceremony which any vulgar transgressor would have got for the little finger of his offences. The record ended at length with the student himself, towards the approach of his graduation, when an article appeared in that unpardonable sheet La Lanterne du Progres, acutely describing and discussing the defects of the system of Seminary education, making a flippant allusion to a circular of His Grace the Archbishop, who prided himself on his style; and signed openly with the boy’s name at the bottom!
Imagine the severe faces of the outraged gowned, the avoidance aghast by terrified playmates—the council with closed doors, his disappearance into the mysterious Office to confront the Directeur alone, and the interview with him at white-heat strain beginning mildly: “My son” and ending with icy distinctness: “Then, sir, Go!”
He did go. He came to the Grammar School during my last session there, and at the end of it swept away the whole of the prizes, with the Dux Medal of the school, notwithstanding his imperfect knowledge of English, and was head in every subject, except good conduct and punctuality.
At this he nearly killed himself. Proceeding, he carried off the highest scholarship among the Matriculants at the University, where his classical papers were said to be perfect. All through these two years and a half of College progress since, he had been astonishing us with similar terrible application and results. Professors encouraged, friends applauded, we wondered at and admired him. We did not envy him, however, for he became, as I commenced by saying, a pitiable wreck. Look at him as he stoops upon the horse!
* * * * *
Good old Father St. Esprit—oldest and humblest of the Order in the College—who was his friend, and whom everybody, and especially Quinet, venerated, took a private word with him before he departed from that institution.
“My son,” said he, “I see the quality of thy mind, and that the Church of God will not be able to contain thee. Thou mayst wander, poor child; yet carry thou at least in thy heart ever love of what thou seest to be good, and respect for what is venerated by another. Put this word away in thy soul in memory of thy friend the Pere St. Esprit.”