Chapter XIV: His marriage
Belgium and the banks of the Rhine — Christian marriage — Lyons or Paris — The wedding — Honeymoon — Sicily and Rome
Ozanam’s intention was to return to Lyons immediately after the examination, to rejoice with his relatives and friends over the result. He desired more particularly to place his laurels at the feet of one, who had become a very dear friend and even a sweet hope. But he was obliged on the other hand to deliver in the place of M. Fauriel a course of lectures on German Literature in the Middle Ages, commencing with the Niebelungen Lied and the Heldenbuch.
It was the subject which had been recommended by M. Ampère, and accepted by M. Fauriel. But in order to treat poetically and identify geographically, that epic from beyond the Rhine, should he not at least have first glanced at the scene of the drama?
” It was,” as he said, “a case of literary conscience.” Was it not rather a little piece of literary snobbishness to be able to say to his audience; Gentlemen, I have been there? “Exactly as when a child, I used to wet the tips of my fingers in order to be able to say without fibbing to my mother, I did wash myself.” He set out, regretting very much that he could not return directly to Lyons at a moment when “the need for an unbosoming of the heart was great.”
” I made the great effort which duty demanded, and flung myself into a train at Paris for Brussels. Then nature asserted itself. For more than a long day I went from one fit of depression into another, at the thought of the keen enjoyment which I had given up.”
On the sixth day of his trip Ozanam availed himself of a stop at Mainz, during the long October evenings, to commence an account of his impressions for Lallier. They were those of a pilgrim, rather than of a tourist or litterateur.
I note first his views on Belgium: “This new-born Kingdom, this nation in miniature, this empire of Lilliput,” at which he first smiles; at the activity, at the institutions and at the prosperity of which he is then amazed, and about which he concludes: “Situated between France, Germany and England, Catholic Belgium is an institution and an example; it is, in that way truly European and a moral power.”
I note particularly his views on Louvain: “The Sorbonne of the Low Countries.” the first beginning of which, it will be remembered, the young student in Paris had welcomed and defended, “Restored to its former glory by the Belgian Bishops, endowed with forty Chairs, a Library of 130,000 volumes, and three colleges, the Louvain University has shown how the Church, when she is her own mistress, can enlist patriotism in the service of faith. Nowhere have I seen Orthodoxy, Liberty, and Science held in such honour and in such respect.”
Ozanam spent some hours at Aix-la-Chapelle, but was detained longer at Cologne. Having first paid tribute to its ancient distinction, he next pays homage to its present honour in the heroic person of His Grace Archbishop Droste de Wischering, still imprisoned by Prussia. ” I saw the archiepiscopal throne empty, but the church crowded. The widowed church with its Gothic arches, radiant amid its ruins, seemed to me a type of Andromache of old smiling through her tears.”
Speaking of the wonderful legend of the eleven thousand virgins at St. Ursula, he says simply: “Who would have the courage to count them? I note the historical fact of the virgin martyr. I kneel at her tomb. As for the number of her companions, I am only sure of this, that she has more in Heaven than she had on earth.”
This enthusiastic visit to pious monuments lifted him up with admiration. He was pleased to recall the fact that such marvels of Art stand to the credit of the Germans of the eighth to the eleventh centuries “whom two hundred and fifty years of Christianity had initiated into the most refined and the most sublime mysteries of true beauty.”
It can easily be surmised how interested the professor of the morrow was at the scene of the German and Frankish epics. He saw Xanten, the country of Siegfried, Worms, where Chriemhild grew up under the protection of her brothers. The Niebelungen Lied, the Carolingian Epic, and the cycle of the Holy Grail are side by side there. Still more ancient myths have peopled the the hill of Lurdes and the caves of Kedrick with Elves and Dwarfs. In this wise the scene of barbarian tradition, which he was to unfold afterwards from the professorial chair, became fixed in his mind.
The pilgrim is afterwards pleased to come down to the Middle Ages which were peopled with Saints, having their mottoes inscribed on the ruins of towns and monasteries: “Throughout the whole of its course the river flows under a Catholic firmament. The patron saints of navigators, St. Peter, St. Nicholas, the Blessed Virgin, have their statues on its banks; the Crucifix tops the highest crests of the neighbouring mountains . . . . Our rapid passage leaves us scarce time to salute these apparitions of the past; and yet I have promised that they shall not be left out. There is not a foot of the way from Brussels to here to which my feelings were not attached, not a farewell uttered which did not cause a pang.” It was only a passing glance it is true, but one which would serve him in good stead on his return. He compares himself playfully to the young Caligula, who pressed on to the Rhine, gathered some pebbles on its banks, and then returned to receive the honours of a triumph in Rome which decreed him the title Germanicus for that feat!
” I shall return via Strasburg to Lyons,” he said at the end of his long letter to Lanier “after five weeks business and work, I shall return to Paris to settle down there and to become your neighbour.” The principal matter of business which he was about to settle in Lyons was specifically the choice of life, which had been long delayed. The will of God had declared itself by interior and exterior signs which must now be noticed.
Living entirely the intellectual life, and sustained by the grace of a – A full spiritual life, Ozanam had refused to think of marriage. In 1835 the twenty-two year old student does nothing but laugh at one of his comrades “who is inclined to light the candles at the altar of hymen with hundred thousand franc notes I To fortify myself against such a fate, and to inoculate myself against such contagion, to steep myself in the love of solitude and liberty, I have just concluded a pilgrimage with my brother to the monks of the Grand Chartreuse!” “Ozanam’s pure soul,” writes M. Caro, “cherished all his life a chivalrous and tender sentiment of purity towards women. He had an especial horror of loose conversation and writing, which break down the barriers of sex distinction and debase love. He received with difficulty any historical truth which witnessed the weakness of an illustrious woman. I recall frequently his shyness and embarassment at the discreet allusions of Bossuet in his funeral oration on the Duchess of Orleans. His chaste imagination did not dare to advance further than the thought of the priest.”
Nevertheless the announcement of the intended marriage of a friend was not without its effect in bringing him face to face with the prospect of entering into those holy bonds.
It is with such sentiments that he regards marriage in the following letter instinct with religion: “Although my age is the age of passions, I have scarcely felt their most distant tremors. My heart has, so far, known only the sentiments of comradeship and friendship. Yet I seem to begin to experience symptoms of another order of affection, and I begin to be afraid. I feel a void growing within me, which neither friendship nor intellectual work fills. I do not know what will fill it. Will it be the Creator? Will it be a creature? If the latter, I am praying that she may come when I shall have made myself worthy of her. I am praying that she may be sufficiently good-looking not to cause any after regrets. I am praying especially that she may bring great virtue in a great soul, that she may be much more worthy than I, that she may elevate me, that she may be as brave as I am
often fearful, as ardent as I am lukewarm in the things of God, sympathetic, so that I shall not have to blush before her for my unworthiness. Such are my wishes and my hopes, but as I have already said, there is nothing of which I am more ignorant than of my own future.”
It is a just conception of the ideal of marriage at once calm, lofty and humble. Two years later the ideal of a religious life had taken shape and had driven out for a while that of marriage. He wrote modestly, on the 5th October, 1837, as follows: “It is not that I have to distrust the inclinations of my heart, but I feel that there is such a thing as a male virginity, which is not without honour and charm.” The marriage bonds made him fear. The permanency of the link to any — human creature, no matter how perfect she might be, seemed to him an abdication. When present at a marriage he could not forbear shedding tears. Nothing less than the thought of the Blessed Virgin and the Blessed Mother sufficed to make him pardon the daughters of Eve for their confiscation of our liberty in capturing our hearts.
” Not indeed,” he explains to his friend, Lallier, who was engaged, “that I claim to preach permanent celibacy. But that she, whom God destines for me, should come only when I have had time to make myself worthy of her “; adding, “I wish that the moment of conjugal union should be deferred until the mind has attained its full development, the character its moulded form, and that some sort of right to family joys has been acquired by work and solitude.”
That work, what was it? He replied with outspoken frankness to the friend deprived of mother and home: “Are not God and the pursuit of knowledge, charity and intellectual work, enough to conquer your grief and to occupy your youth? Is society so happy, religion so honoured, Christian youth so numerous and so active, that you have the right to withdraw so soon the talent and the grace with which God has endowed you, like unto the wearied labourer who bore the heat and the burden of the day? Do you despair of the regeneration of our country, of the resurrection of ideals? Or, indeed, do you despair of yourself, of God Who has created, purchased and sanctified you?”
Lallier married towards the close of 1838. The austere Ozanam was not too severe with him. His New Year’s wishes for the household were, “You gave me an invitation at Christmas which I did not fail to accept. I pray the God of all mercy, who visited me in the ruin of my family, to visit also the home where yours is growing, to be in your company as He was with Joseph and Mary, and to bless the first hopes of your union.”
When that first hope was realised, Ozanam saluted the baby in its cradle in the following lines: “Happy is the first-born of an early marriage! Happy is the father to whom is given the great consolation of seeing his youth regenerated in the person of a son I” He hailed “the little angel whose presence sanctifies the home, makes virtue more loveable and life less serious.”
But better was to follow. The day arrived, and that very soon, when the roles were reversed and it was Ozanam who formally sought the benefit of Lallier’s experience in the great question of marriage: “Christmas, 1839: My perplexity is great. I am spoken to on all sides about marriage. I don’t understand the question sufficiently well to be able to make up my mind. Advise me. You know the responsibilities and the consolations of that state. You know also the character and the history of the client. Give him, I beg of you your opinion with that same frankness which he exercised towards you.”
If “he was spoken to on all sides about marriage “it was because-everybody sympathised with his isolation, which, indeed, showed itself plaintively in all his correspondence. He was obviously lonely and bored by the side of his own hearth. There the tender orphan found on his return from his professorial lectures only the humble and dull society of the old Guigui, who was always recalling the dead, without being in anyway able to fill their places. Ozanam wrote: “I am beginning to experience that complaint, which you knew only too well, ennui. Intercede with the Saviour of souls on my behalf that He may save me from the dangers of loneliness, that He may enlighten my mind to know His designs for me, and grant me the strength to accomplish them. His will be done on earth as it is in Heaven, that is to say with faith and with love.”
But was not married life incompatible with a life of good works? That strange objection, which he had urged but a short time before to Lallier, had disappeared from his mind at the sight of the young homes in the City of Lyons, whose heads had continued to be the solid supports of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul. He wrote to Pessonneaux as follows: “Generous souls even though in the married state, none the less continue to collaborate in that noble work. Thus we behold with joy Arthaud, Chaurand and many others persevering in their former chosen work. They have been lost neither to the poor, nor to the great work of the regeneration of France.
To induce Lallier to postpone his marriage, he had also urged the duty of deserving, by a studious and lonely youth, the happiness of a union, to which a good claim, if not an absolute title, should be established. Now Ozanam himself was 26 years of age. He was a Doctor in two Faculties, a brilliant graduate of the Faculty in Paris, occupying the chair of the Law of Commerce in Lyons, about to deputise on the morrow for the chair of Literature in the Sorbonne. In addition to all that he was a man of good works, enjoying the friendship of the highest in the land, bearing a name still superior to all those distinctions. She, who was destined for him by God, could be presented to him by the Divine hand itself.
Ozanam made no progress. We read in his correspondence of April, 184o, that it was in vain that his friends and acquaintances invited him to their family reunions—” the only reunions suitable for him “— in order to draw him out of his lonely state. “He longs to see the season of feasts closed, and replaced by the rigorous practices of Lent.” He does not, however, decline to take part in the marriage celebrations of his friends. He offered his felicitations in beautiful terms to Le Taillandier and Dufieux on the occasion of their marriages. He brought to Chaurand’s marriage feast his presence, his graceful bearing, even pretty little poems, “the last verses of his expiring poetic muse, in which he experiences something of the feebleness which characterises the paternity of old men.” In every reunion or gathering he holds himself studiously aloof from “those young Misses” as he describes them en masse, thus discouraging the secret but transparent designs of their mothers. He hastens again to declare on the 21st June, 1840: “I am free, with the most complete freedom, but with a freedom which is sometimes inconvenient, in that it exposes me to matrimonial schemes characterised by the most compromising advances.”
Providence, however, who loves pure and upright hearts, and who guides their destinies with His own hand, led Ozanam, all unwittingly to his.
The Abbé Noirot had never wavered in his view, that Ozanam was not made for the life of a religious. But forbearing to probe into the inmost recesses of that independent and free character, he awaited an enquiry from him. His reply was invariably: “Get married, my dear young man, get married.” He had indeed in his mind the name of a young girl of good family, who seemed to him most worthy to become the spouse of his dearest disciple. As for an interview, Frederic would not have been a party to it. The Abbé endeavoured to arrange an apparently chance meeting. Providence did the rest. Ozanam was in regular touch with the Rector of the Academy in Lyons, M. Soulacroix, his immediate chief. One day, accompanied by the Abbé Noirot, he visited his chief, and the Abbe, entering the drawing-room introduced to Madame Soulacroix, as if by chance, M. Frederic Ozanam, a young professor of Law, with whom she exchanged a few conventional phrases. In the same room, sitting at a window, a young girl nursed tenderly a young man suffering and crippled, who, one felt, was her brother. She sustained, cheered, and comforted him; she was, indeed, so taken up with him that she failed to notice the presence o’ the strange visitor. But he had noticed her. From the next room he still regarded through the open door the figure of the young girl leaning gracefully over her dear invalid: “Loving sister and happy brother! How she loves him!” His eyes never left her. It was the charming image of charity that had just appeared to him.
The young girl whom the Abbé Noirot had just indicated was not altogether unknown to him. He knew—it was well known in Lyons—that M. Soulacroix had himself watched over her education, and had beautified her mind with all the aesthetic taste of which he was an acknowledged master. Her mother, a woman of outstanding merit, of kind disposition and simple distinction, had trained her in those household duties and graceful accomplishments, which make homes dignified and manners charming. The child possessed, it was said, uncommon musical ability, with which she gave great pleasure. Above all, she was passing rich in those treasures of devotion and delicacy, which piety implants in the hearts of Christian women, for the happiness of husbands and the salvation of children.
The fugitive vision, which had made Ozanam desirous of being loved by such a sweet sister, was followed up by a series of more frequent visits to his principal for business reasons. Did the story of Dante and Beatrice occur to him? But Ozanam could not possibly have thought that such a poetic reverie should ever become a dominating reality of his existence.
Another thought of it for him. The Abbé Noirot, who lived on terms of great personal intimacy with M. Soulacroix, had sounded him on the matter. He did not find the father at all repugnant to the suggestion of a union between his beloved daughter and the young professor whom he held in affectionate regard.
That regard and friendship had shown itself in several administrative provisions for the advancement of the young Doctor, the pride and the hope of the Lyons Academy, whose salary he had just raised from 3,000 to 4,000 francs. That was only the beginning.
The question of succession to Quinet’s chair of foreign literature arose about the same time, through the same agency, and with the same intention. “It is nevertheless true,” the Abbé Ozanam informs us, “that when the Abbé Noirot communicated to my brother the assent of his principal to the consideration of marriage, Frederic could not believe it, so far below that choice did he regard himself, so stunned was he by his good fortune.”
It was during those days that Ozanam was suddenly called upon by M. Cousin to take part in the professorial concursus. He devoted all his time to the immediate preparation for a test, the consequences of which were naturally not unconnected with the issue of the new, . but less pressing, undertaking. It was decided that the engagement should be postponed until the result of the concursus should be announced. The marriage was to be the prize.
Indeed, one month after the brilliant young doctor had returned from the banks of the Rhine to Lyons, a letter to Lallier, dated 6th December, informed him of his arrangements, and of his joy: “My dear friend, the awful question of vocation, which had been unsettled for so long, has been suddenly solved. At the same moment that Providence called me to the steep moral incline of the metropolis, an angel guardian was given me to console my loneliness. I am leaving for six months, and my engagement will be completed on my return.”
His elder brother introduced Frederic officially to his people-inlaw and describes in detail the event: “We were about to withdraw after a mutual exchange of congratulations, when M. Soulacroix took the hands of the engaged couple and with overflowing heart, held them in his own, as if to knit those bonds which the Church was to consecrate later.” M. Soulacroix was a thorough-going and outspoken Christian, who did not fear in troublous times and in a difficult post, to throw the mantle of his protection over Catholic schools.
For one moment the question of the place of the future home arose. – Would it be in Lyons or in Paris? The decision was magnanimous and stands to the honour of the fiancee.
The new Minister of Education, M. Villemain, who succeeded Cousin, was a close friend of the Principal in Lyons. Knowing of the proposed marriage of Ozanam and the daughter of Soulacroix, and desirous of fulfilling his predecessor’s promise, he felt he was falling in with both views in offering him the chair of Foreign Literature, which had just then become vacant by the promotion of Quinet to the College of France. It meant, with the chair of the Law of Commerce, an income of about 13,000 francs. It meant a permanency. Above all, it meant Lyons, the families of the young couple, friends, the advantage of a well-known name, security to the end of his career. Paris could only offer a temporary acting position, a moderate income, a precarious livelihood, straitened means, probably hardship. But on the other hand, Paris was the centre of Catholic action, the battle-field of the defence of religion, with Catholic Truth to advance, Catholic Charity to foster, the storm centre of the battle for the restoration of God in philosophy, history and literature; it meant the society which was bound up with eight years of his young life, and to which God and his friends were calling him . . . . Ozanam prayed fervently at that time. ” Heavy sacrifices have to be made, cruel partings to be endured, business and family complications to be solved, all that is more than enough to terrify one of ordinary energy. It is fortunate that the appreciation of my weakness makes me lift my eyes to Him who strengthens. Up to the present I asked for light to know His will; I ask now for the courage to do it.”
He had naturally to consult his future father-in-law, who was of course on the side of Lyons. To abandon Lyons for Paris was to surrender the substance for the shadow, the certain for the uncertain, happiness and peace for trouble and danger. What father of a family could possibly support such an adventure?
Ozanam pleaded for Paris with arguments which fathers-in-law best understand, more rapid advancement, close touch with influential people. M. Ampère was a guarantee of the latter. In addition, he urged the advantage of unique libraries of reference, a young and impressionable audience not to be had elsewhere, a future in which, with God’s help, hard work could win for him independence and honour. M. Soulacroix was very much touched by the appeal. The worthy father understood that heroism has also its rights in this world. Moreover, his confidence in the talent and industry of the young Doctor was boundless. But would the father play the part of sending the daughter to be sacrificed?
Ozanam appealed to the young lady herself. That was a moment of pathos. He placed every consideration before her. They could indeed remain in Lyons in the bosom of their families and enjoy happiness and tranquility. They were called to it, it was wisdom, so it was said, it was their right. But for him it meant the abandonment of what he regarded as a most compelling duty, of the raison d’être of his activities and of his existence. It meant the surrendering of the noble mission which he had dreamed of accomplishing with her, sustained by her, living a life given up to self-sacrifice, but shared with her. Was it too much to ask? Had she sufficient confidence in herself and in him to commence in a small way, to suffer a little, to bide their time patiently with the grace of God?
The fiancee replied to that question by placing her hands in Frederic’s, saying: “I have full confidence in you!”
The description of that scene is clearly from the dictation of Madame Ozanam herself.
The holidays were brought to a close brightened by visits, entertainments and a series of musical “at homes,” given by Madame Soulacroix to the elite of society, over which her daughter presided as a queen. Ozanam was transported with delight.
But December had come. The opening of the course of lectures at the Sorbonne called the young Acting-Professor to Paris. No time was left for the preparation or celebration of the marriage. It was postponed to the end of the academic year, seven or eight months later.
The time of separation arrived. Paris became for the lover a place of exile. That is what he calls it in the following letter, dated the 6th December, to Lallier, whom he calls “his best friend in this world “: “After six weeks’ holidays crowded with big events, I must return to Paris to embark on the perilous voyage at the Sorbonne. I appeal to your prayers. May God guard, during my six months’ exile, her whom He Himself seems to have chosen for me. Her smile is the first ray of happiness which has shone on my life since my poor father’s death. You will conclude that I am deeply in love! I do not hide it from myself, even though I am forced sometimes to laugh at it, I, who thought I was hardened!”
Lyons saw Ozanam for one fortnight at Easter. It was the sweet prelude to the happiness which was to be his in the summer vacation. From December, however, an uninterrupted correspondence had linked together those whom time and space still kept apart. This private correspondence has remained so far privileged and reserved. Its value is unequal. Yet if, from the thirty odd letters of which it is composed, we were privileged to quote a few lines, we should choose those in which Ozanam thanks his fiancee for having supported him with her intercession and her merit, on the two days each week that he faced the audience as a Professor. Or again those in which he besought her to join him in spirit in his work of charity, as the best -asset of the store that was to be theirs in common. Or, above all, those wherein lie made it a matter of conscience to show himself to her such as he really was, with more defects than virtues, for she must be united to him only with full knowledge.
” My dear, illusions about me are not possible any longer. You see me, you know me, and such as I am you want me. You do not give up hope of my becoming better. You believe in me because of the high character of my friends, because of the reputation left by my parents, because of the inheritance of faith and morals which they bequeathed to me, and which, thank Providence, I have preserved. Your faith will indeed sustain mine. I may commence to think that I am some good, seeing that I have become dear to another. When doubts assail me, when difficulties trouble my conscience, when fears for the future terrify me, I shall grow calm in thinking of you. I shall say that if God should see fit to abandon me to darkness and ruin, He could not, as a loving Father, permit that a young girl full of purity and innocence, of rectitude and tenderness, should be deceived in her trust, should wander from the straight path, and fall into my hands.”
It was on the 23rd day of June, 1841, that M. Antoine Frederic Ozanam, 28 years of age, married Madamoiselle Marie-JosephineAmelie Soulacroix in her 21st year.
A full description is given a week later in a letter to Lallier, dated from the Castle of Vernay, 28th June, 1841: “Last Wednesday, at 8 o’clock in the morning, in the Church of St. Nizier, your friend was kneeling before the altar, on which his elder brother was celebrating Holy Mass, and at the foot of which his young brother gave the liturgical responses. At his side you would have seen a white-veiled young girl, pious as an angel, and now, I have leave to say, as tender and affectionate as a loving friend. She was happier than I in this, that her parents were present. Yet all the family relations that Heaven had spared me were there too; and my former comrades, my brothers of St. Vincent de Paul, filled the choir and peopled the nave. I did not indeed know where I was. I could scarce restrain sweet tears from falling, and I felt the divine blessing descend on me as the consecrated words were spoken.”
He wrote as follows to Lallier and to Pessonneaux to whom he wished to introduce his charming wife: “She is delighting everyone… I am happy. I do not count days or hours. Time does not exist for me. What matters the future? Happiness in the present is eternity. I understand what heaven means. Help me to be good and grateful.”
A similar letter was sent some days later to M. Amphe: “I am aflame with interior happiness. I thought of you amidst the friends at the foot of the altar. . . . Your name recurs frequently, as well as that of your revered father, in my conversations with my new relations… But indeed I feel that my obligations to you are almost discharged by praise from the beloved lips of her, whose one little word makes me tremble.”
After that event we must note a season of one month, which the wedded couple spent at d’Allevard Springs for the treatment of laryngitis, of which the professor was almost altogether cured. But the real honeymoon was spent in Naples and Sicily, finished off and crowned by a ten days stay in Rome. “It was from first to last a dream of enchantment,” according to Ozanam’s correspondence.
The requirements of the honeymoon had to be simple from first to last, if they were not to make serious inroads on the savings which had been put by for the home in Paris: “What present could he offer to his young wife more delightful or more lasting than the memory of the shores of the two Sicilys, seen through the eyes of an artist, and explained to her by the loving lips of a historian, a Christian and a poet?”
The description which he gave in his letters to his two brothers, to his people-in-law, and to Lallier, is altogether beautiful. In that correspondence the two antiquities, pagan and Christian, appear side by side amid incomparable landscapes, forming the background for family scenes, in which the young wife always plays the leading part.
The pilgrimage was closed in Rome. Ozanam saluted St. Peter’s dome on the 5th November in the following terms: “The cupola of St. Peter’s is the diadem of the Papacy hanging between heaven and earth. The colossal dome is easily visible from the seas washing the shores of Italy. From the neighbouring hills the sun was to be seen setting behind it. An admirable type of the institution which stands immutable,—the while we are passing on the seas of time,—and on which the setting rays of the last sun of this world will rest.”
Pope Gregory XVI. received them in paternal fashion and placed them by his side: “Be seated; you are my children, let us leave formalities aside and have a chat.” Dante was the subject of much discussion.
” We shall never forget the solemn moment when the Sovereign Pontiff, after having chatted familiarly with Amelie and me, stretched forth his venerable hands and blessed us and our families.”
Ozanam found old friends in Rome, the Abbé Gerbet who had come to study Christian Rome, Cazales, who had come to be ordained. He made learned acquaintances, ecclesiastical and lay. He mentions the patriarchal welcome which he received from Cardinal Pacca. He discussed Orientalism with Cardinal Mezzofanti “whom the ancients would have made a god, and whom God will certainly make a saint.”
He concludes as follows: “It is not for nothing that one kneels at the tombs of the Apostles, that one prays before the simple flagstone covering the remains of St. Peter. It is not in vain that, going down into the catacombs, one plunges into the very entrails of Christian Rome. I feel a new movement in my mind, I feel my thoughts, which had been wearied by a precocious development, reinvigorated, expanded and refreshed.”
After a short stay in Florence, the travellers reached Marseilles on the 28th November. They spent a day in Nimes, where M. Curnier entertained them with a fete which he himself has described. The poet Reboul recited his poems at it. Lyons kept them only for the period necessary to make preparations for final departure and farewells. They were in Paris in December.