Page images
PDF
EPUB

“ Then Ingeborg doth answer make,

This matter is most hard to do;
But, if the VINLAND KINGS you'll take,

An answer, sure, I'll give to you.'

“ Then powerful Holdan thus replied,

• T’will grief and sorrow bring to all : For who shall reach the Vinland tide,

Then perils dire shall sure befall.'

“ Then Finn the Fair, with rapid stride,

The palace quits, and seeks the shore ! • To VINLAND straight my course I'll guide,

Though Ingeborg I ne'er see more.'

“ His silken sails he raises then,

On yards of gold extended wide;
His sails he never furls again,

Till VINLAND from the helm he spied.

" Then Finn, within the garden nigh,

His costly robe he o'er him threw; And, so attired, with bearing high,

Straight to the palace halls he drew.

“ And, so attired, with bearing high

Straight to the palace halls he drew: Five hundred men were standing nigh

The VINLAND Kings before his view.

"Then entered Finn the palace hall

And stood before them face to face; The Kings sat on their thrones, and all,

Unmoved and silent, kept their place.

" It was the morning of the day,

Scarce yet Aurora's light appeared, When there the VINLAND Kings, they say,

Twelve hundred armed men prepared.

“ And there the VINLAND KINGS, they say,

Twelve hundred armed men prepared; 'Gain'st these, brave Finn the Fair, that day

To try his strength, unaided, dared.

“ And in the midst Finn now is seen,

Active in fight before them all;
Loud clang their arms that time, I ween;

Now two, now three, before him fall.

66 And in the midst Finn still is seen,

In strength he far surpasses all: Loud clang their arms again, I ween;

Now five, now six, before him fall.

" For two whole clays the fight did last;

From clashing swords the lightnings played ;
Nor on the earth his footsteps passed, -

His slaughtered foes his path had made.

“ And in the midst Finn still is seen,

Nor dares, for honor's sake, to flee;
And now, 'tis said, that there remain

Of all that host but only three,

“ And in the midst Finn still is seen ;

Full well his deeds are known to fame ;-
And VINLAND KING the first, I ween,

By his good sword is hewn in twain.

“And in the midst Finn still is borne,

Nor dares, for honor's sake, to flee;
The second VINLAND KING that morn

His sword hath hewn in pieces three.

“ Just then a dragon, o'er his head,

His fatal venom pouring, flew;
And Finn himself at length lay dead,
Whom poison, and not arms,

subdue.

“ When Finn thus Holdan, furious, saw,

By poison, and not arms, subdued,
Then VINLAND King the third, straightway

With his good sword in twain he hewed.”

It would certainly be an interesting field of inquiry to investigate the question whether Columbus had any knowledge of the Norse discoveries in the western hemisphere, and to what extent. There are a number of circumstances strongly tending to show that Columbus knew something of these events. His long and thorough study of the subject in all its aspects must have guided his mind to this information. The absolute certainty he professed to have that he could discover land in the west could not have rested upon theory alone; it must have been based upon information of facts also. He himself states that he based his certainty on the authority of learned writers. Among the learned writers he had access to was the book of Adam of Bremen, published in 1076,“On the Propagation of the Christian Religion in the North of Europe,” to which is added a treatise “On the Position of Denmark and Other Regions Beyond Denmark.” In this work Adam of Bremen gives an account of Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Iceland and Greenland, and adds: “Besides these there is still another region, which has been studied by many, lying in that ocean (the Atlantic) which is called VINLAND, because vines grow there spontaneously, producing very good wine; corn likewise springs up there without being sown." And he adds to this account of Vinland these words: “This we know not by fabulous conjecture, but from positive statements of the Danes.” His recorded conversation with the Danish king, Svend Estredsor, a nephew of Canute the Great, is the direct source of his information. The visit of Columbus to Iceland in February, 1477, brought him in more immediate contact with the traditions and written accounts in relation to the Norse discoveries in the western continent. He is believed to have conversed with the bishop and other learned men of Iceland, and as his visit there was fifteen years before he discovered America, and only one hundred and thirty years after the last Norse expedition to the lands in the Western Ocean, he must have met Icelanders whose grandfathers lived in the time of that expedition and perhaps were members of it. It is unlikely that Columbus could have been so active in his researches for geographical and nautical information as all his biographers represent, and yet have been in the midst of so much information on those subjects without coming in contact with it. Columbus never divulged to the public the extent of his knowledge of facts pointing to lands in the Western Ocean. At Rome also Columbus must have heard of the Norse expeditions to Greenland and Vinland. Gudrid, wife of Thorfinn, made a pilgrimage to Rome and spent three years there before her death. Her accounts of the wonderful voyages she had made to the unknown western lands must have been recorded in some of the religious houses she visited. It is also argued that, as Pope Paschal II., in the year 1112, appointed Eric Upsi Bishop of Garda in Greenland, and the bishop visited Vinland as part of his spiritual domain, Columbus, in search of such knowledge, must have found it where it was most accessible. There is also some ground for believing, though the fact is not established, that a map of Vinland was preserved in the Vatican, and that a copy of it was furnished to the Pinzons. Facts such as these must have formed a considerable part of the knowledge acquired by Columbus in his many years of study. When his crew mutinied on the ocean, he showed his confidence in the facts he had acquired, by promising them that if he did not discover land within three days he would abandon the voyage. The land was in sight in half the time he claimed. Would he have risked his all, a new world even, upon a promise which would have been an insane act but for the facts he possessed? Leo XIII. has now opened to historical students the treasures of the Vatican; may we not now hope to solve this interesting question ? May we not hope to recover the history of the Church of Greenland and Vinland, and of the seventeen bishops and of the numerous missionaries who first carried the Cross to the West ?

THE PRESENT ATTITUDE OF ENGLAND TOWARDS

THE HOLY SEE.

TH

HE recent interchange of courtesies between the Pope and

Queen Victoria has been variously interpreted by English

Yet there does not seem much room for speculation. “Diplomacy has no charm but mystery ;” and here the charm of mystery is wanting. That the hereditary chief of English Catholics, the Duke of Norfolk, should be sent as the Queen's envoy to the Holy See at the time when Ireland's Catholic heart is thrown into the bal. ance of Home Rule, is a move on the part of the Queen's government which explains its own simple intention. That his Holiness should graciously receive the envoy, and should thank Queen Victoria for her present is no more than a paternal act of courtesy such as has been shown to other sovereigns. It is not on the diplomacy of the matter that any speculation need be hazarded. The point which is interesting for Catholics is, how have the English Protestants judged a mission which, prima facie, suggested an approach to the Holy See; which, at least, bears the look of a willingness on the part of England to "renew diplomatic relations with Rome."

It would be a mistake, to begin with, to suppose that the English attitude is at all “ religious,” in the old sense of the word. The “No-Popery" cry is not now heard in England; but this is not because England is becoming Catholic. English Protestants have only recently begun to inherit the full fruits of what Carlyle called the Two Revolutions. The first revolution was the “ Reformation," the second was the French Revolution. By the first revolution, divine authority was shaken; by the second, feudal authority was dethroned. Let us allude, just for a moment, to this second revolution as auxiliary to the development of the first. Feudal authority is now practically extinct in Europe, though the traditions of class-power still linger. The word "feudal,” though it is antique, still conveys to us a right impression of the old imperium of the classes and the aristocracy. That imperium has been displaced by a new democracy. It has not been usurped but displaced. So complete was its displacement, say in 1846, that Pope Pius IX., when he first came to the throne, was spoken of-with a fantastic inaccuracy-as “the idol of European liberalism." This only meant that Pope Pius IX., in the ardent generosity of his nature, sought to unite the best instincts of modern

liberalism with affectionate loyalty to the Church. “The pontiff who was to accomplish the reconciliation of the Church and modern society," as M. Guizot expressed it; “the man who had placed the idea of emancipation and liberty on the highest pinnacle,” as M. Victor Hugo preferred to put it, was that glorious pontiff who had his illusions dispelled by the revolution which murdered Count Rossi. Still, the transitory recognition by Pius IX. of a new state of the political and social order—which he earnestly hoped to sanctify by Catholic loyalty, but which he found to his cost to be most disloyal-showed how perfectly evident was the fact that society had changed, and was changing in 1846. The temporal power has now disappeared, and usurpation is crowned in the Quirinal. The new liberalism has been proved to be irreligious, in the sense that it does not care for religion. And it is in this sense that the present English Protestant attitude, in regard to the authority of the Holy See, must be explained as at once conciliatory and disloyal. It is conciliatory, because amity is agreeable, as well as, perhaps, prudent under all the circumstances. It is disloyal, because no care for the Catholic religion is at the bottom of the new departure in diplomacy. In one word, expediency is the motor of the diplomacy, and indifferentism is the motor of the amity.

In a recent number of this REVIEW we noticed a little book which had been written by Rev. John MacLaughlin, of which the title was, Indifferentism ; Or, Is One Religion as Good as Another?That little book set forth the truism that the real enemy of Catholic truth is, in these days, not antagonism but indifferentism ; a spirit of " caring for none of these things," which is mistaken for the spirit of liberality. With much power, yet simplicity, the author worked out the argument that the disposition to propose the question—the frame of mind which could propose it-" Is one religion as good as another?" is proof positive that the questioner has not grasped the primary truism that “one faith and one baptism " must go together. Now, the present attitude of English Protestants towards the authority of the Holy See must, in the first instance, be explained by “indifferentism.” It is not an indifferentism which is moral, or which is contemptuous, but which is a result of an acquired attitude of the intellect. Couple what was said before in regard to the change in the social order, with this new (religious) indifference to positive truth, and each, in some measure, explains the other; each acts upon the other correlatively. The modern social order is grounded on the principle that the vox populi is the vox Dei in all things. The modern religious order, if there be such a thing, is therefore in

| Published by the Catholic Publication Society, New York.

« PreviousContinue »