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A. Stewart (Alexander Stewart) Walsh.

Mary: The Queen of the House of David and Mother of Jesus online

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by the songsters; as I’ve said to myself, they echo the angelic anthem
of heaven, peace. Had any such doubt as haunts thee, come to me, since
passing Jordan, it would have been sung out of countenance by the winged
warblers or dragged from my heart captive in floral fetters by Him that
hath two staves, beauty and bands.”

“Oh, Ichabod, do not pause. Go on, I pray thee.”

“Then thou art glad to hear that nature is not a beautiful widow mourning
her dead bridegroom through the ages?”

“I love to listen to thee.”

“Listen to a wiser. See those stately heliotropes. They stand above all
of their kind with shining faces; great in aspiration, great in devotion.
All day they turn toward the sun and when their blossoms fade they leave
a hardy seed. The winter may bury it, but it springs forth in vernal
days, strong in the life it won by loving the summer sun.”

“Ichabod, I’m charmed! Let’s abide here always amid these joys of nature.”

“What, be hermits?”

“Yes; life’s troubles are made by its people; the fewer people the fewer
troubles.”

“While sharing their troubles may we not lessen them. No man may live to
himself; we’re wedded to each other.”

“Yes, wedded to life. A royal phrase; since I’ve been constantly either
hating or loving it; fearing to live and then fearing to die. Wedded! ah,
ha, ha; the wedded are those who most madly love and then most bitterly
hate.”

“Say sometimes; then thou’lt be like the stopped horologue, telling the
true time once in twenty-four hours, at least.”

“Thy poetry runs into caustic quality. What hast thou been lunching on
since morn?”

“At least not on Dead Sea apples, fair without, ashes within. My poetry,
if I have any, always sings in accord with the company it keeps.”

“How many more arrows in thy quiver, hast thou?”

“Only one, and that a question; does my master intend to foreswear
marriage himself? He ridicules it.”

“I have already done so.”

“Well, ’tis well thou didst not live in Rome, for its citizens that dared
to live amid the temptations and soul-crampings of voluntary bachelorhood
were highly taxed for their disregard of the claims of society and the
state.”

“Yet even the Romans ever deemed bachelorhood a blessing. In this opinion
royal Claudius decreed that the sailors who brought to Rome a ship loaded
from the wheat granaries of Egypt in the time of Agabus’s famine, should
be as a reward permitted to remain unmarried. If I were a Roman and a
sailor I’d pray for a famine and a Claudius.”

“A world without wives? What a world!”

So saying Ichabod caught up a stick and began marking on the earth.

“How now, Israel; some sorcery?”

“No—yet, may be, yes. I’ll picture a world without women.”

The Jew outlined the Egyptian deity, “_Kneph._”

“What have we, man or beast?”

“Truly, I think partly both. The knight has described his Elysium and I
have here pictured a fit king for it. Behold thy god, sworn celibate.
Egypt’s adored Kneph. Is this hideous enough?”

“A god! well he’s not handsome; a ram’s head; four horns; two up, two
down; armed as both ram and goat?”

“Both were sacred to him in Egypt; also the horned snake with which
Cleopatra put out her life; poor, unfortunate man-wrecked beauty.”

“But, Jew, thou dost dawdle! What of this play?”

“Oh, nothing, only Kneph would do well for a sailor, at Rome, under
Claudius, in famine time!”

“My poet wanders, but yet stings.”

“So? Kneph was a god that boasted, or rather his spokesmen did, that he
was the _father of his mother_. What economy! No need to be grateful to
or love a mother; no need to wear a wife on the heart. The folly of a
dark age by folly darkened in the mad attempt to lift up man without his
purer better part.”

“How strange, Jew, whenever we touch a new belief, or an old one, new
to us, we find peoples following an idea or ideal. There has been a
crying through the world ever for a some one for pilgrim man to follow.
How passing strange; our century wails the self-same cry; and somehow
it always happens that this matter has something to do with woman. See;
‘_Kneph_’ was the monstrous birth of those who thought man superlative,
and greatness to be by being all man. How sharply the devotion to the
Madonna cuts across this! She was mother of the noblest, and man in the
begetting left out. Oh, my head’s full of thoughts, but they tumble along
toward my lips without system or leader. I talk like a madman, though I
think like a Seraph.”

“I think, Sir Charleroy, that a healthy son of Adam sneering at all
women, publicly, reproaches himself as being one who never knew a true
one.”

“More javelins! I’d swear, anyhow, that if I’d been Adam, no winged
serpent of gaudy colors and honey tongue could have lured me from
Paradise, Eve or no Eve!”

“If thou hadst been there thou wouldst have been lonesome with the
speechless herds; finding the new woman, would have loved her like the
boy who mates just to see how it seems.”

“Oh, likely!”

“Then if thy ward or angel attempted to elope with the devil thou wouldst
have gone along, too, from curiosity, as lad to a hippodrome, just to see
the finish; or as thousands of men since Adam, tied to wayward women,
have gone down with them to darkness, preferring hell with their idols to
heaven without.”

“I suppose so. Oh, how strangely are the fates of men and women
interwoven.”

“Then thou dost not now elect to live a hermit, without the companionship
of the frail, fair and faithful sex which are said to double our joys?”

“Yes and multiply our sorrows!”

“I suspect thou’lt change thy late creed very soon.”

“Why so?”

“I expect ere long that we’ll meet some living blossoms.”

“By my token, that’s good news, Ichabod.”

“So, then, thou art ready to recant?”

Evening came, and the pilgrims supped on the meager meat they were able
to procure in the fields.

“Now poet of the Palm Land mellow my dreams by possessing me of thy
meditations. What fixes thy gaze?”

“The monarch of the sky; after a day such as this has been, he seems to
me to take his departure with a peculiar sort of triumphal sweep of his
trailing splendors.”

“Horus exulting over prostrate Set.”

“But night, not the green-colored son of Osiris, conquers now, master.”

“Night never conquers. It merely lives by sufferance; often routed by
the invincible spears of the sun. Darkness creeps forth here because the
golden charger in masterful strategy has gone elsewhere to rout other
armies of the dark kingdom. Lay this to thy heart, good Jew.”

“I do, as precious ointment to a blister. Enlarge me.”

“There, Jew; see the fleecy clouds over Jordan. How grand!”

“Yea, as I’ve often seen them; some like alabaster thrones, and others
like ships on fire, while others are like silver castles, banded with
cornelian and gold, with here and there hyacinthian shields hung on their
battlements, all fresh as the stones in heaven’s foundation walls! How
they career and float along the empurpled ocean of the west! I forget
myself even now into their midst. Oh, knight, such pictures, such visions
make my soul shout in peals of holy laughter.”

“My Israel, the sun which woos the earth into making love to him with
flowers never sets in thy brain; thou livest in the poet’s constant noon.”

“But we both are changing. Even the knight gets mellow. Hardship, the sun
and faith are working in us both for good.”

“Getting to be? No; thou wert and art poet, painter and singer; all in
one. If the world does not hear thee the Seraphim will, by and by.”

“I’ve noticed that souls unbent from some long, twisting pain, run,
aspire and play. It is mercy’s rest, reward.”

“God fits some especially to catch passing joys, Ichabod.”

“Yea, and it all comes from a serene faith that all is very good as He
made it. I’m just opening to the Sun Eternal, at whose right hand are
pleasures evermore. I love thy wakening touch, my guide.”

“Ah, I’m a bungling player on the harp of thy soul, but I love thy
melody. Child of nature, speak more and more to me.”

“I can but ill tell all. I’m dumb amid the waves of peace which enhalo,
the hopes that thrill, the views of truth that fill my being.”

“I believe thee on my soul, Jew. I’d stop now to remember a little,
perhaps to sleep, since so I can follow dreams that would craze me to
contemplate awake; but if we now sleep, pray God our day-dreams go on and
on. I think we are pilgrims following spiritual truths. They’ll lead us
on high; let’s not miss their direction.”

“One may sleep, master, when he can not think; for me, now, I’d rather
court, awake, my mind’s guests, for a time, meanwhile gainsaying the
lullabys of cricket and nightingale now floating out from every bush.”

“So be it. How shall we proceed to pass the time?”

“Can we set up an Ebenezer? God hitherto hath helped us.”

“I have it; we’ll to the feast.”

“Well, we have what some great kings have not, and so shall find joy in a
feast. We have appetite!”

“Thou dost miss my meaning, though thy point is prime. We seldom think
to thank the Giver for the power to enjoy as well as for the enjoyable.
I knew a French prince, once, who said he’d give his birthright for one
good dinner, and he was no Esau, either. He had dinners and dinners, but
what were they along with premature decay gnawing at his vitals like a
rat, while he himself could eat less than a babe?”

“I see; the knight would have us thankfully commemorate to-day’s
enjoyment of nature.”

“Just so; I think, in loving nature, because we begin to understand
her, we will be on our way to all the natural joy of which she is God’s
interpreter.”

“But our feast?”

“The stars are out on the blue; their queen will soon come up from the
sea, then I’ll induct thee into the feast of the ‘Rose.’ The rose is the
queen of flowers, and flowers the thoughts of God!”

“The feast of the Rose! I’ve heard it was a licencious, heathen orgy!”

“It was then a shameful misnomer. My Mary found it; transformed it. Out
of it, through reverence of her, comes a beautiful observance. See here,
Jew.”

So saying, the knight took from his bosom a string of precious stones
and arranged them, as they glowed under the moonlight, on the ground
heart-shaped.

The knight then questioningly observed the Jew.

The latter shook his head and remarked:

“I’ve seen such often among the Arabs. They have a prayer for each bead
to be said the night after the death of one of their number, believing
the shade departs not to Hades ’till the prayers are said. Thou dost not
practice their enchantments?”

“Bah! Never. My gemmed circle has a deeper, holier significance. Each
pendant is to recall to mind some virtue or event in the saintly Mary’s
life. Then there are guilds called, ‘Brothers of the Rosary.’ I belong
to one such; each member is sworn to pray for all the others wherever
scattered. The Turks may have had a praying string, but the Crusaders
have appropriated and applied it to nobler uses.”

“Tell me more of it, if there be more.”

“There are but fifteen in my brotherhood.”

“Only fifteen, no room for me?” said the Jew.

“Fifteen; to suggest the fifteen great events in Mary’s life; namely, the
_Annunciation_; Gabriel announced to Mary that she was to be the Mother
of Jesus; the _Visitation_; Mary in the Gospel spirit went quickly to
tell her kinswoman of her promised favor; the _Birth of Jesus_, this was
the crowning joy; then here is the gem that recalls the _Presentation of
Jesus_ in the Temple. Thou knowest, Jew, thy fathers often wondered how,
after all, a lamb, an animal, could stand between offended Deity and man.
Jesus in the Temple was the fulfillment or explanation of the mystery!”

“Yea, truly, I’ve seen this. Oh, that all my people could also see it!”

“Then, here is the jewel that reminds us of the ‘_Scourging at the
pillar_’ of Him ‘by whose stripes we are healed.’”

“Israel reads Isaiah with darkened mind, my loving guide. I’ve seen this.
Oh, that my people could.”

“Here is the jewel that recalls the ‘_Crowning with thorns_’ of Him that
hath to give, at His right hand, ‘pleasures forever more.’ He wore that
thorny coronet that His redeemed should return with singing, crowned with
everlasting joy.”

“I’ve felt it; feel it now. Hallelujah!”

“This one is to commemorate ‘_Jesus bearing the Cross_;’ this one ‘_His
crucifixion_,’ and this ‘_His resurrection_.’”

“The hope of hopes by our Saducees denied!”

“Then we have here another to remind us of our Saviour’s ‘_Ascension_,’
with His pregnant promise of a royal return to take at last His children
home.”

“Come, Lord Jesus, even so, quickly!” cried Ichabod.

“‘Wait patiently for Him and He will give thee the desire of thy heart,’
oh, heir of faithful Abraham!”

“I weary sometimes, my loved teacher.”

“So do we, of our brotherhood; but here is a thought of rest; this bead
recalls ‘_Pentecost_.’ We are led of the Spirit, which guides to all
truth and comforts by the way.”

“But what has all this to do with Mary?”

“Oh, here are two beads; one reminds us of her ‘_Assumption_’ into
heaven, the other of her ‘_Crowning_.’”

“Was she crowned?”

“Yea, in heaven, for the Son of Mary promised to His faithful ones this
exaltation; ‘_I appoint unto you a Kingdom as my Father hath appointed
unto me_, ye which have continued with me in my temptation.’ Surely, she
that followed him from the pains of parturition, as an outcast, to the
Cross and the sepulcher, CONTINUED!”

“I would I could have been there to enter the race for such crowning.”

“‘He hath made us kings and priests unto God; if we suffer we shall also
reign with Him,’ Jew.”

“Hallelujah! would I could shout it to heaven; no, I do; but rather to
all Jewry!” exclaimed the Israelite.

“John was only a ‘voice crying in the wilderness,’ as he thought, but he
was heard at the palace and down the ages. Even now I voice his words in
this lone place.”

“Thou didst not tell me of the meaning of that black and red pendant,”
said Ichabod, interrupting.

“Oh, _Gethsemane_, Jesus, the intercessor for the world, ‘who ever lives
to intercede.’ The black sign is of that.”

“Then I’ve a Saviour in glory praying for me. Oh, this is balm and water
to me! Why do I dare to think of myself as a poor Jew! God pity; no,
forgive me! I, repining sometimes and yet defended in glory; honored by
royal adoption, elected of God, called to kingship!”

“How we do go up and down; sometimes thou, sometimes I. Now I’m leading,
awhile ago ’twas thou. Yea, we are all dependants; but this is healthful
meditation, Ichabod, and thy confession rebukes me as well.”

“Is this all of the feast?”

“Oh, no. Here are some tokens to remind us of Mary’s life; so brief, so
useful. See, here, five gems that remind us of the wounds of her son;
her wounds as well, for the sword that pierced Him pierced through to
her soul also. At each of these emblems we ‘Rosary Brothers’ repeat
the Lord’s Prayer. Last of all, reverently clasping this crucifix,
we sacredly repeat the Apostle’s Creed, the same as I taught thee at
Jericho.”

“I remember, as I do the water courses, when thirsty.”

“What think’st thou of all this formality? Is it like the Arabic
mummeries?”

“No, they are mocking devils, are they not?”

“I am not to judge of their sincerity, nor their needs, nor art thou.”

“Master, I wish I could be a Rosary Brother. Methinks it would help my
ambling faith sometimes, if I could touch a token.”

“He above is all tender of baby faiths that can do no better than amble.
Remember the words of thy own Hosea: ‘I drew them with cords of a man,
with bonds of love, I taught Ephriam to go; taking them by the arms; just
as a mother teaches her babe to walk,’ is it not?”

“Even so. Does the Rosary help some to walk?”

“I believe it does.”

“Tell me more about it.”

“The Crusaders were the first to call Mary ‘The Rose.’ To almost all
mankind that flower has ever been the emblem of pure, unselfish love,
and when the soldiers of the Cross grew to understand the character of
her that gave the world its Saviour, they could think of no title more
fitting for that queenly woman.”

“I’ve an Egyptian rosary, knight. See, I wear it on this golden chain,
next my heart, for its safety——”

“To ward off witchcraft?”

“Bah! ’Tis a toy in usefulness. I keep it, thinking it may work
incantation with the money-lender, and so save me sometime from
starvation.” Then the Jew laughed aloud at his own wit. It seemed very
ridiculous to him to liken his talisman to the real rosary or its saint.

“Wouldst thou let me examine it, Jew?”

The latter handed to the knight a chain and image.

“Egyptian?”

“An image of Neb-ta, sister of Isis, the wife of the Sun God Osiris. It
was given me by a Copt priest, whom I saved from drowning in the Nile.”

“A Copt?”

“A Copt. He was a professed Christian; but, like some of the ancestral
Egyptians, sought to be right by being a little of every thing. He was
very superstitious, though he thought himself very broad-minded. He was
quite certain that Coptic Christianity was true, though not equally
certain that his pagan ancestors were in faith all false. He thought he’d
be on the safe side by mixing a little of all creeds with his own, and so
he prayed in Christ’s name and also Neb-ta’s.”

“A pretty fool, Jew.”

“Yea. He had a story about the goddess, very pretty when not absurd,
running somehow thus: When Osiris was cut to pieces by Set, a type of day
slain by night, I think, Neb-ta went round the world with her widowed
sister, Isis, to gather up the fragments of her spouse. Isis is the
moon above; below, reproduction. She is pictured in Egypt, as all the
female deities, with two eggs and a half-circle at the side, to express
the latter idea. Isis has in her hand also this sign—a cross supporting
an egg, to typify immortality. The old Egyptian priest told me this
sympathetic Neb-ta, if I trusted her, would reward me for saving his
life, by defending my case in Hades. There is a good deal of mysticism in
all this, but I rather prize the gift, since it reminds me that I once
saved a man.”

“But, Nourahmal? Since thou knew of Mary thou hast saved a woman, Jew.”

The Jew was silent. The knight continued:

“These philosophic, inseeing, sign-writing, symbol-making Egyptians were
pilgrims, too; a nation of graal-seekers; after an idea, example. I see
always the huge Sphinx coming before me when I think of them.”

“The Sphinx! Well, that’s strange. I’d never think of that, unless I
happened upon something very big and very meaningless!”

“No, no; the people that rocked the cradle of religions in their infancy,
wrought all their theology into that one mighty symbol, to endure and
challenge compare with all that man should find beside.”

“I do not see how!”

“The Sphinx faces the East—light!”

“True!”

“It can not reach that light toward which it looks, neither could the
Nubians.”

“All true.”

“It was part man, part beast; but the upper part was man, and this is
what we think we know, and all of man?”

“Oh, knight, Phthah, the ‘beautiful-faced,’ ‘secret-opener’ of the Nile
gods has touched thee.”

“The Sphinx was like man’s thought; too great for words; at least such
words as men can now fit to their lips.”

“I see; it’s all coming into my mind, master.”

“It sat still and was silent, but the world went on; the thought it
expressed reached hearts after the men that formed the image had passed
away. The truth lives ever, and can not die until it completes its
purpose.”

“Thou art a magician, who pleases, astonishes, excites, instructs, and at
the same time plays with me as if I were a pigmy!”

“It’s not I, but the truth. The Sphinx again! Its hugeness, truth
expressed, appears mighty when placed by our sides.”

“Tell me where I am! Shall I fling Neb-ta away as a bauble, or beg its
pardon for hanging so much meaning to a fool’s neck?”

“Vehement! The sun is in thy head!”

“But shall I sit and look as a Sphinx, or run mad because I can’t?”

“Be calm, and let me tell thee that the dwellers by the mighty Nile
plagued themselves with lasting darkness when they banished the people
whose leader’s face shone from communion with Jehovah. They clung to
some half truths, left them by the progeny of Joseph, but the half was
dimmed by courted lusts.”

“But my people had no Neb-ta, no women divinities to leave in Egypt.”

“No, yet Egypt, aiming to exalt the tender, the beautiful, the mother,
incarnated certain virtues, and lo, a woman deity! It was an effort to
find the ‘Rose.’ The nation was in a vast, serious pilgrimage through all
their dynasties after an idea, a pattern; an opportunity to reach and
to express the best things. I tell thee, Jew, the heathen nations sit
in darkness; this side and that, along the track of time, holding here
and there a torch, waiting through the night whose hours are tolled off
at century intervals, for something, Some One. There have passed before
them like phantoms, gods and gods; man invented, man evolved; but none of
these tarried, none satisfied. Oh, ‘the Isles wait for thee,’ Jesus, Thou
Ideal Man, and also for the true conception of Mary the ideal woman!”

“For two Gods? Is Mary divine?”

“Did I say that? Nay, as the child Jesus was subject to her, so she was
subject to the Christ, at last. Christ was the Word, Mary His blessed
echo; Christ the Sun, Mary the Moon that reflected that light, showing
its beauty in woman’s life!”

“But now, what shall I do with my beautiful fright, Neb-ta, Sir
Charleroy?”

“Put her away, in mind, amid the galaxies of woman deities; mythical
in all but the pitiful sincerity of the adoration of their devotees
and in the greatness of the truths they vaguely articulated. See, I’ll
interpret: Isis going round the world to gather up the fragments of
her dismembered husband. Woman’s ministry; the restoration of man;
wife consecration to an only love. Then there was not only beautiful
widowhood, second only to beautiful wifehood, but also the spinster
sister. Hail Egypt! Thy Sphinx saw further than our peoples of boasted
civilizations. At our best we never rose so near to a just altitude as to
attempt the deification of the maiden sister, the omnipresent angel, who
mothers other people’s children as if they were her own. Egypt worshipped
motherhood, perhaps grossly, in adoring the earth’s fructifications, but
she did not overlook those pious souls who in a glorious self-abnegation
play waiting-maids to the real queens of earth, the child-bearers. I’d
never tire praising the child-bearers, or all who love them, for they
that bring forth a life are greater than the greatest kingly man-slayer
on earth. The world is upside down; no religion is wholly false that aids
to right it in any degree. Hail, creeds of Egypt, or any other land,
that seek to efface from fame’s pages the names of life-destroyers that
thereon may chiefly shine the names of those who give or save life.”

“Oh, oscillating Sir Charleroy, thou art just and courtly now.”

“Praise me, then! Mankind would average better by far than it does if all
were right half the time.”

“Would I could gather all the threads of to-day’s blessed communings into
a golden band to support over my heart faith’s breastplate.”

“I can give thee its summary: God, a beauty Creator, out of all things
hideous in His good Providence will emerge the fine, tender and loving.
Neb-ta, Egypt’s ideal, carried the lotus, the flower of unrestrained
pleasure, as her scepter; Neb-ta-like the influences that sway most human
hearts to-day; but the Rose of the world has blossomed. Mary, the flower
of women. They that love and serve, as that warm, red-hearted woman,
shall at last reign in eternal bliss within the ruby walls of the New
Jerusalem.”



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