THE STORY OF THE INNUMERABLE COMPANY, AND OTHER SKETCHES
DAVID STARR JORDAN
PRESIDENT OF LELAND STANFORD JUNIOR UNIVERSITY
THE WHITAKER & RAY COMPANY (INCORPORATED)
DAVID STARR JORDAN
TO MY WIFE,
JESSIE KNIGHT JORDAN.
This volume is made up of separate sketches, historical or allegorical, having in some degree a bond of union in the idea of "the higher sacrifice."
I am under obligations to Professor William R. Dudley for the use of a photograph of a record of Father Serra. This was secured through the kindness of the late Father Casanova, of Monterey.
PALO ALTO, CAL., June 1, 1896.
THE STORY OF THE INNUMERABLE COMPANY THIS STORY OF THE PASSION THE CALIFORNIA OF THE PADRE THE CONQUEST OF JUPITER PEN THE LAST OF THE PURITANS A KNIGHT OF THE ORDER OF POETS NATURE-STUDY AND MORAL CULTURE THE HIGHER SACRIFICE THE BUBBLES OF SAKI
Peter Rendl as Saint John
Johann Zwink as Judas
Rosa Lang as Mary
A Record of Junipero Serra
Mission of San Antonio de Padua
Mission of San Antonio de Padua—Interior of Chapel
Mission of San Antonio de Padua—Side of Chapel, with the Old Pear-trees
The Great Saint Bernard
Hospice of the Great Saint Bernard
Hospice of the Great Saint Bernard—in Winter
Jupitere (Great Saint Bernard Dog)
Monks of the Great Saint Bernard
Saint Bernard and the Demon
The John Brown Homestead, North Elba, N. Y.
John Brown's Grave
Ulrich Von Hutten
Men told me, Lord, it was a vale of tears Where Thou hast placed me, wickedness and woe My twain companions whereso I might go; That I through ten and threescore weary years Should stumble on beset by pains and fears, Fierce conflict round me, passions hot within, Enjoyment brief and fatal but in sin. When all was ended then should I demand Full compensation from thine austere hand: For, 'tis thy pleasure, all temptation past, To be not just but generous at last.
Lord, here am I, my threescore years and ten All counted to the full; I've fought thy fight, Crossed thy dark valleys, scaled thy rocks' harsh height, Borne all the burdens Thou dost lay on men With hand unsparing threescore years and ten. Before Thee now I make my claim, O Lord,— What shall I pray Thee as a meet reward?
I ask for nothing. Let the balance fall! All that I am or know or may confess But swells the weight of mine indebtedness; Burdens and sorrows stand transfigured all; Thy hand's rude buffet turns to a caress, For Love, with all the rest. Thou gavest me here, And Love is Heaven's very atmosphere, Lo, I have dwelt with Thee, Lord. Let me die. I could no more through all eternity.
THE STORY OF THE INNUMERABLE COMPANY.
There was once a great mountain which rose from the shore of the sea, and on its flanks it bore a mighty forest. Beyond the crest of the mountain were ridges and valleys, peaks and chasms, springs and torrents. Farther on lay a sandy desert, which stretched its monotonous breadth to the shore of a wide, swift river. What lay beyond the river no one knew, because its shores were always hid in azure mist.
Year by year there came up from the shore of the sea an Innumerable Company. Each one must cross the mountain and the forest, faring onward toward the desert and the river. And this was one condition of the journey—that whosoever came to the river must breast its waters alone. Why this was so, no one could tell; nor did any one know aught of the land beyond. For of the multitude who had crossed the river not one had ever returned.
As time went on there came to be paths through the forest. Those who went first left traces to serve as guides for those coming after. Some put marks on the trees; some built little cairns of stones to show the way they had taken in going around great rocks. Those who followed found these marks and added to them. And many of the travelers left little charts which showed where the cliffs and chasms were and by what means one could reach the hidden springs. So in time it came to pass that there was scarcely a tree on the mountain which bore not some traveler's mark; there was scarcely a rock that had not a cairn of stones upon it.
In early times there was One who came up from the sea and made the journey over the mountain and across the desert by a way so fair that the memory of it became a part of the story of the forest. Men spoke to each other of his way, and many wished to find it out, that haply they might walk therein. He, too, had left a Chart, which those who followed him had carefully kept, and from which they had drawn help in many times of need.
The way he went was not the shortest way, nor was it the easiest. The ways that are short and easy lead not over the mountain. But his was the most repaying way. It led by the noblest trees, the fairest outlooks, the sweetest springs, the greenest pastures, and the shadow of great rocks in the desert. And the chart of his way which he left was very simple and very plain—easy to understand. Even a child might use it. And, indeed, there were many children who did so.
On this chart were the chief landmarks of the region—the mountain with its forest, the desert with its green oases, the paths to the hidden springs. But there were not many details. The old cairns were not marked upon it, and when two paths led alike over the mountain, there was no sign to show that one was to be taken rather than the other. Not much was said as to what food one should take, or what raiment one should wear, or by what means one should defend himself. But there were many simple directions as to how one should act on the road, and by what signs he should know the right path. One ought to look upward, and not downward; to look forward, and not backward; to be always ready to give a helping hand to his neighbor: and whomsoever one meets is one's neighbor, he said.
As to the desert, one need not dread it; nor should one fear the river, for the lands beyond it were sweet and fair. Moreover, one should learn to know the forest, that he might choose his course wisely. And this knowledge each one should seek for himself. For, as he said, "If the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch."
There were many who followed his way and gave heed to his precepts. The path seemed dangerous at times, especially at the outset; for it lay along dizzy heights, through tangled underwood, and across swollen torrents. But after a while all these were left behind. The way passed on between cleft rocks, into green pastures, and by still waters; and in the desert were sweet springs which gave forth abundantly.
But some who tried to follow him said that his Chart was not explicit enough. Every step in the journey, they contended, should be laid out exactly; for to travel safely one should never be left in doubt.
Now, it chanced that on the slope of the mountain there was a huge granite rock, which stood in the midst of the way. Some of the travelers passed to the right of it, while others turned to the left. Strangely enough, the Chart said nothing concerning this rock. No hint was given as to how one should pass by it.
When they came to the rock, many of the travelers took counsel one of another, and at last a great multitude was gathered there. Which way had he taken? For in the path he took they must surely go. Many scanned the rock on every side, to find if haply he had left some secret mark upon it. But they found none; or, rather, no one could convince the others that the hidden marks he found were intended for their guidance.
At nightfall, after much discussion, the old men in the council gave their decision. The safe way led to the right. So he who kept the Chart marked upon it the place of the rock, and he wrote upon the Chart that the one true path leads to the right. Henceforth each man should know the way he must go.
Moreover, those who bore the records showed that this decision was justified. They wrote upon the Chart a long argument, chain upon chain and reason upon reason, to prove that from the beginning it was decreed that by this rock should the destiny of man be tested.
But in spite of argument, there were still some who chose the left-hand path because they verily believed that this was the only right way. They, too, justified their course by arguments, line upon line and precept upon precept. And each band tried to make its following as large as it could. Some men stood all day by the side of the rock, urging people to come with them to the right or to the left. For, strangely enough, although each man had his own journey to make, and must cross the river at last alone, he was eager that all others should go along with him.
And as each band grew larger, its members took pride in the growth of its numbers. In the larger bands, trumpets were blown, harps were sounded, and banners were waved in the wind. Those who walked shoulder to shoulder under waving flags to the sound of trumpets felt secure and confident, while those who journeyed alone seemed always to walk with fear and trembling. It was said in the old Chart that where two or three were gathered together on the way, strength and courage would be given them. But men could not believe this, and few had the heart to test whether it were true or no.
So the bands went on to the right or to the left, each in its chosen path. But after they had passed the first great rock, they came to other rocks and trees and places of doubt. Other councils were held, and at each step there were some who would not abide by the decision of the elders. So these from time to time went their own ways. And they made new inscriptions on the Chart, and erased the old ones, each according to his own ideas. And there was much pushing and jostling when the bands separated themselves one from another.
At last one of the oldest travelers in the largest band—a man with a long white beard, and wise with the experience of years—arose and said that not in anger, nor in strife, should they journey on. Discord and contention arise from difference of opinion. Let all men but think alike, and they will walk in peace and harmony. Let each band choose a leader. Let him carry the Chart, and let him night and day pore over its precepts. No one else need distress himself. One had only to keep step on the road, and to follow whithersoever the leader might direct.
So the people chose a leader—a man grave and serious, wise in the lore of the forest and the desert. He noted on the Chart each rock and tree, drawing in sharp outlines every detail in the only safe path. Moreover, all deviating trails he marked with the symbol of danger.
And it came to pass that day by day other bands followed, and to them the Chart was given as he had left it. And these bands, too, chose leaders, whose part it was to interpret the Chart. But each one of these added to the Chart some better way of his own, some short cut he had found, or some new trail not marked with the proper sign of warning.
And with all these changes and additions, as time went on, the true way became very hard to find. At one point, so the story is told, there were twenty-nine distinct paths, leading in as many directions; each of these, if the Chart be true, came to its end in some frightful chasm. With these there was a single narrow trail that led to safety; but no two leaders could agree as to which was the right trail. One thing only was certain: the true way was very hard to find, and no traveler might discover it unaided.
And some declared that the Chart was complicated beyond all need. There was one who said, "The multiplication of non-essentials has become the bane of the forest." Even a little meadow which he had found, and which he called the "Saints' Rest," was so entangled in paths and counterpaths that once out of sight of it one could never find it again.
All this time there were many bands that wandered about in circles, finding everywhere cairns of stones, but no way of escape. Still others remained day after day in the shadow of great rocks, disputing and doubting as to how they should pass by them. There were arguments and precedents enough for any course; but arguments and precedents made no man sure.
And it came to pass that most travelers followed the band they found nearest. At last, to join some band became their only care. And they looked with pity and distrust upon those who traveled alone.
But the bands all made their way very slowly. No matter how wise the leader, not all were ready to move at once, and not all could keep step to the sound of even the slowest trumpet. There was often much ado at nightfall over the pitching of the tents, and many were crowded out into the forest. At times also, in the presence of danger, fear spread through the band, and many of the weaker ones were trampled on and sorely hurt.
Then, too, as they passed through the rocky defiles, some of them lost sight of the banners, and then the others would wait for them, or perchance leave them behind, to struggle on as best they might without chart or guide.
And there were those who spoke in this wise: "Many paths lead over the mountain, and sooner or later all come to the desert and the river. It does not matter where we walk; the question is, How? We cannot know step by step the way he went. Let us walk by faith, as he walked. If our spirit is like his, we shall not lack for guidance when we come to the crossing of the ways." And so they fared on. But many doubted their own promptings. "Tell me, am I right?" each one asked of his neighbor; and his neighbor asked it again of him. And those who were in doubt followed those who were sure.
So it came to pass that these who walked by faith likewise gathered themselves into great companies, and each company followed some leader. Some of these leaders had the gift of woodcraft, and saw clearly into the very nature of things. But some were only headstrong, and these proved to be but blind leaders of the blind.
Then one said, "We must not be filled with our own conceit, but must humbly imitate him. We must try to work as he worked; to rest as he rested; to sleep as he slept. The deeds we do should be those he did, and those only. For on his Chart he has told us, not the way he went past rocks and trees, but the actions with which his days were filled." Then those who tried to do as he had done, moved by his motives and acting through his deeds, found the way wonderfully easy. The days and the hours seemed all too short for the joy with which they were filled.
But, again, there were many who said that his directions were not explicit enough. The Chart said so little. "That we may make no mistake," they said, "we must gather ourselves in bands and choose leaders. We cannot act as he acted unless there is some one to show us how."
Thus it came to pass that leaders were chosen who could do everything that he had done, in all respects, according to his method. And they added to the Chart the record of their own practices—not only that "He did thus and so," but also, "Thus and so he did not do." "Thus and thus did he eat bread, and thus only. Thus and thus did he loose his sandals. In this way only gave he bread and wine. Here on the way he fasted; there he feasted. At this turn of the road he looked upward thus, shading his eyes with his hand. Here he anointed his feet; there his face wore a sad smile. Such was the cut of his coat; of this wood was his staff; of such a number of words his prayer." And many were comforted in the thought that for every turn in the road there was some definite thing which he had done, and which they, too, might perform.
Thus the duties of every moment were fixed. But as the days went on these duties grew more and more difficult. No one had time to look at the rocks or trees; no one could cast his eyes over a noble prospect; no one could stop to rest by the sweet fountains or in the refreshing shadows. One could hardly give a moment to such things, lest he should overlook some needful service.
Then many lost heart, and said that surely he cared not for times and observances, else he would have said more about them. When he made the journey, it was his chief reproach that he heeded not these things. With him, ceremony or observance rose directly out of the need for it, each one as the need was felt. To imitate him is to feel as he felt. With him feelings gave rise to word and action. "So will it be with us. It is not for us to imitate him in the fashion of his coat or the cut of his beard. He went over the road giving help and comfort, as the sun gives light or the flowers shed fragrance, all unconscious of the good he did." And in this wise did many imitate him. They turned aside the boughs of the trees, that the sunshine of heaven might fall upon their neighbors. And behold, the same sunshine fell upon them also. They removed the stones from the road, that others might not stumble over them. And others removed the stones from their way also.
But many were still in doubt and hesitation. The record, they said, was not explicit enough. They counseled together, and gathered in bands, and chose leaders who should tell them how to feel. And the leaders gave close heed to all his feelings and to the times and seasons proper to each. Here he was joyous, and at a signal all the baud broke into merry laughter. Here he was stern, and the multitude set its teeth. There he wept, and tears fell like rain from innumerable eyes.
As time went on, repeated action made action easy. The springs of feeling were readily troubled. Still each one felt, or tried to feel, all that he should have felt. No one dared admit to his fellows that his tears were a sham, his joy a pretense, his sadness a lie. But often, in the bottom of their hearts, men would confess with real tears that they had no genuine feeling there.
Then the people asked for leaders who could bring out real feelings. And there arose leaders, who, by terrible words, could fill the hearts with fear; by burning words, could stir the embers of zeal; by the intensity of their own passions, could fill the throng with pity, with sorrow, or with indignation. And the multitude hung on their lips; for they sought for feelings real and not simulated.
But here again division arose; for not all were touched alike by those who had power over the hearts of men. Some followed the leader who moved them to tears; others chose him who filled them with fear and trembling. Still others loved to linger in the dark shadow of remorse. Some said that right emotions were roused by loud and ringing tones. Some said that the tones should be sad and sweet.
Then there were some who said that feelings such as all these were idle and common. When he trod the way of old, it was with radiant eyes and with uplifted heart. He saw through the veil of clouds to the glory which lay beyond. We follow him best when we too are uplifted. Now and then on the way come to us moments of exultation, when we tread in his very footsteps. These are the precious moments; then our way is his way. In the rosy mists of morning, we may behold the glory which encompassed him. In moments of silent communion in the forest, we may feel his peace steal over us. In the gentle rain that falls upon the just and the unjust, we may know the soft pity of his tears. When the sun declines, its last rays touch with gold the far-off mountain tops beyond the great river.
And the uplifting of great moments, filling the souls of men with peace that passeth understanding, came to many. As they went their way, this peace fell upon their neighbors also. And no man did aught to make them afraid. And others sought to go with these, and thus they became a great band.
So they chose as their leaders those whose visions were brightest. And they made for themselves a banner like the white mist flung out from the mountain-tops at the rising of the sun. They spoke much to each other concerning the white banner and the peace which filled their souls.
But as they journeyed along, the dust of the way dimmed the banner, and the bright visions one by one faded away. At last they came no more.
Then the people murmured and called upon the leaders to grant them some brighter vision, something that all could see and feel at once—some sign by which they might know that they were still in his way. "Cause that a path be opened through the thicket," they said, "and let a white dove come forth to lead us on; or, let the mists beyond the river part for a moment, that we may behold the far country beyond."
And one of the leaders standing at the head of the column, clothed in the morning light as with a garment, raised his staff high in the air. The sun's rays fell upon it, touching the morning mists with gold, and threw across them the long shadow of the upraised staff. The shadow fell far out across the plains, and about it was a halo of bright light. And all the band looked joyfully at the vision. Adown the slope of the mountain and out into the plain they followed the way of the shadow. And all the time the white banner waved at the head of the column. The people said little to one another, but that little was a word of praise and rejoicing.
But it came to pass, as the day wore on, that the sun rose in the sky, and drew the mists up from the valley. With them vanished the long shadow of the staff, and in its place appeared the sandy plain. The feet of the people were sore with the rocks and stones. The air was thick with dust. Their hearts were uplifted no longer. Instead they were filled with doubt and distress.
And the people repined and murmured against their leader. But the leader said that all was well; even in the way he went there had been stones and hindrances. More than once had he carried a heavy burden along a dusty road. But he never doubted nor complained, and so the radiance round about him never faded away.
But all the more the people clamored for a sign. Let the bright vision of the morning appear to us again. At length, worn with much entreaty, the leader raised once more his staff above his head. The sun at noon fell upon it. But as the people gazed they saw no long line of radiance stretching out across the plains amid a halo of shining mist. The shadow of the staff was a little shapeless mark upon the sand at their very feet.
Then the leader cast his staff away and went by himself alone, sad and sorrowful. That night, as he lay by the roadside, he looked upward to the clear, calm, honest stars. They seemed to say to him, "See all things as they really are. This was his way. 'In spirit and in truth' means in the light of no illusion. Not all the visions of mist or of sunshine can make the journey other than it is."
So he came to look closely at all things on the road. Day by day he read the lessons of the desert and the mountain. He learned to know directions by the growth of the trees. By the perfume of the lilies, he sought out the hidden springs. By the red clouds at evening, he knew that the sky would be fair. By the red light in the morning, he was warned of the coming storm. And there were many who followed him and his way, though he did not will it so.
And he taught his companions, saying: "We must seek his way in the nature of the things that abide. To learn this nature of things is the beginning of wisdom. For day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night showeth knowledge. The way of nature is solid, substantial, vast, and unchanging. He who walks in it stands secure, as in the shadow of a high tower or as if encompassed by a mighty fortress. The wisdom of the forest shall be granted to him who seeks for it with calm heart and quiet eye."
But among his followers there were many who were eager and would hasten on, and although they spoke much of the Nature of Things and of the Law of the Forest, they were contented with speaking. "The road is long," they said to themselves, "and the hours are fleeting." They had no time to contemplate the glory of the heavens. The beauty of the lilies fell on unobservant eyes. For all these things they trusted to the report of others. The words passed from mouth to mouth, losing ever a little of their truth. And in this wise the voice of wisdom was turned to the language of folly. For the nature of things is truth. But no man can find truth except he seek it for himself. And so they fared on, each well or ill, according to the truth to which his way bore witness.
Meanwhile those who bore the white banner remained long in council. At last one remembered that it was written, "Faith without works is dead, being alone." And it was written again, "Those who follow me in spirit must follow me in truth." The essence of truth lies not in thought or feeling, but must be expressed in deeds. Right feelings follow right actions. Thus it was with him; thus will it be with us.
Then they went their way together, doing good to one another. And each called his neighbor "brother"; and some bore cups of cold water, and some balm for healing; some carried oil and wine and pots of precious ointment. To whomsoever they met they gave help and comfort. The hungry they fed. The thirsty were given drink. He who had fallen by the wayside was lifted up and strengthened, and the blessing of cleanliness was brought to him who lay in filth and shame. The blessing of him that was ready to perish came upon them, and the heart of the widow sang for joy.
But soon those who were filled with zeal for good works were gathered together in great bands, and each band wished to magnify its work. In every way, to all men who asked, help was given. They searched out the lame and the blind, and brought them that they might perforce be healed. Cup after cup of cold water was given to the little ones, even to those who might bring water for themselves. They cared for the wounded wayfarer long after his wounds were made whole. It was their joy to bathe his limbs in oil and wine, or to swathe them in fragrant bands. And the wayfarer ceased to bear his own tent or to seek his own raiment. What others would do for him, he need not do for himself. And those who did not help themselves lost the power of self-help. And those who had helped others overmuch came themselves to need the help of others.
At last the number of the helpless became so great that there was no one to serve them. Many waited day after day for the aid that never came, and they grew so weak with waiting that they could not take up their burdens. The little ones were thrust aside by the strong, and as the band went on many of them were forgotten and left behind. They fainted and fell by the healing springs, because there was no one to give them drink, and they could not help themselves.
And the burden of the way grew very hard and grievous to bear. Then there were those who said that one cannot help another save by leading him to help himself. All that is given him must he repay. Sooner or later each must bear his own burden. Each must make his own way through the forest in such manner as he may.
So they turned back to the old Chart. They would read his words again, that they might be led to better deeds. In these words they found help and cheer. These words spake they one to another. They came like rain to a thirsty field, or as balm to a wound, or as good news from a far country. And there was wonderful consolation in the thought that for every step of the way he had spoken the right word.
So those who knew his words best were chosen as leaders, and great companies followed them. And as band after band passed along, his message sounded from one to another. His words were ever on their lips. Those who could run swiftly carried them far and wide, even into the depths of the forest. To those who were in sorrow they came as glad tidings of great joy, and beautiful upon the mountains seemed the feet of those who bore them. Wherever men were weary and heavy laden, they were cheered by his promise of rest.
But there were some who turned to his message only to gratify sordid hopes or vain desires. He who was lazy sought warrant for sleep. He who was covetous looked for gain. He who was filled with anger sought promise of vengeance. There were many who repeated his words for the mere words' sake. And there were some who used them in disputations about the way. And the words of help on the Chart they turned into words of command. Each one took these commands not to himself alone, but sought to enforce them upon others. "For it is our duty," they said, "to see that no word of his shall be unheeded of any man." And many rose in resistance. And the conflicts on the way were fierce and strong; for with each different band there was diversity of interpretation. Thus the words of kindness became the voice of hate.
And it came to pass that all along the way the green sward was red with the blood of wayfarers. Everywhere the leaves of the forest were trampled by struggling hosts. And "In his name" was the watchword of each warring band. And each band called itself "his army." And whosoever bore the sword that was reddest, they called the "Defender of the Faith." They placed his name upon their battle-flags, and beneath it they wrote these fearful words, "In this sign, conquer." And each went forth to conquer his neighbor, and the wayfarer fled from the sight of their banners as from a pestilence. But "Conquer, conquer," was no word of his. He spoke not of victory over others; only of conquest of oneself. He had said, "Resist not, but overcome evil with good." And till all men ceased to resist and ceased to conquer, no one found himself in the right way. Then some one said: "By words alone can no one truly follow him. His words without his faith and love are like sounding brass or tinkling cymbal. Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh. When the heart is empty the speech of the mouth is idle as the crackling of thorns beneath a pot."
And there appeared other bands from the number of those who had passed to the right of the first great rock; and seeing the tumult and confusion of the others, they said to themselves: "These are they who followed not us. We have chosen the better part. Our leader bears the only perfect Chart. All other charts are the invention of men. In the right Chart there can be nothing false; in the others there can be nothing true. Those who have not the true Chart can never go right, not even for a moment. For even good deeds done in the paths of evil must partake of the nature of sin. Straight is the way and narrow is the gate, but there is no safety except ye walk therein."
So they went on, stumbling ever along the rocky road, never resting, never murmuring. "For the way at best is a vale of tears," said they, "and no one would have it otherwise. He found it thus in his time. He was ever a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. More than all others had he suffered. It was his glory to be despised and rejected of men. For the greater the abasement the greater the exaltation in the land beyond the river." So day by day they walked in the hardest part of the road. But they spoke often together of a land of pure delight, of sweet fields beyond the swelling floods, and of turf soft as velvet that rose from the river's bank.
If perchance on the way they came to green pastures, they would hasten on, lest they should be tempted to rest before the day of rest was come. From sweet springs they turned aside, that theirs might be the greater satisfaction when they came to the sweetest springs of all. They shut their eyes to beauty and their ears to music, that the light and music of the unknown shore might burst upon them as a sudden revelation. They looked not at the stars, lest perchance these should declare a glory which was reserved for other days. Dreary and harsh was the way they trod. But in its very dreariness they found safety. They sought no pleasure, they fought no battles, they wasted no time. In the pushing aside of all temptation, the scorn of all beauty and idleness, they found delight. Against the strength of granite rock they set the force of iron will. Withal, at the bottom their hearts were light with the certainty of coming joy. Even the multitude of conflicting paths gave them a peculiar satisfaction; for whatever way they took was always the right way.
But there were some among them who lost all heart. And they threw their charts away and set forth in disorder through the forest and up the mountain. Some of them came safely to the river, far in advance of the bands they had left behind. But to most the way was strange, and harder than of old. And as the journey wore on they began to hate the forest and all its ways.
So they fared on, together or apart, in ever-deepening shadow. They distrusted their neighbors. They despised the joyous bands who trooped after their leaders with mouthing of verses and waving of flags. They were stirred by the sound of no trumpet. They were deceived by no illusion of sunshine or of mist. They said: "We know the forest; no one knows it but ourselves. There is no future; there is no way; there is no rest; there is no better country. The azure mists are shadows only, hiding some dreary plain, if haply they hide anything at all. Evil is man; evil are all things about him. Love and joy, hope and faith, all these are but flickering lights that lure him to destruction. Vultures croak on the rocks. The fountains flow with ink. Danger lurks in the desert. The name of the river is Death." And when they came to the shore of the river they saw no rift in the clouds above it, for their eyes were filled with gloom.
But as time passed on, the way of man grew brighter, whether he would or no. No day nor hour was without its joy to him who opened his heart to receive it. And men saw that most of the difficulties and dangers of the way were those which they unwittingly had made for themselves or for others. Thus, as the road became more secure, it no longer seemed dreary or lonely.
And so it came to pass at last that men ceased to gather themselves in great bands. Nor did they longer set store on the sound of trumpets or the waving of flags. The men who were wisest ceased to be leaders of hosts. They became teachers and helpers instead.
And with all this a sure way was from day to day not hard to find. Men fell into it naturally and unconsciously. And the ways which are safe are innumerable as the multitude of those that may walk therein.
And those who had gone by diverse paths came from time to time together. Each praised the charms of the path he had taken, but each one knew that in other paths other men found as great delight. And as time went on many wise men passed over the way, and each in his own fashion left a record of all that had come to him.
But the old Chart men kept in ever-increasing reverence. They found that its simple, honest words were words of truth, and whoso sought for truth gained with it courage and strength. But they covered it no longer with their own additions and interpretations. Nor did any one insist that what he found helpful to himself should be law unto others. No longer did men say to one another, "This path have I taken; this way must thou go."
And some one wrote upon the Chart this single rule of the forest: "Choose thou thine own best way, and help thy neighbor to find that way which for him is best." But this was erased at last; for beneath it they found the older, plainer words, which One in earlier times had written there, "Thy neighbor as thyself."
THE STORY OF THE PASSION.
The Alps are not confined to Switzerland. They fill that little country full and overflow in all directions, into Austria, Italy, Germany, and France. Beautiful everywhere, these mountains are nowhere more charming than in Southern Bavaria. Grass-carpeted valleys, lakes as blue as the sky above them, dark slopes of pine and fir, over-topped by crags of gray limestone dashed by perpetual snow, the Bavarian Oberland is one of the most delightful regions in all Europe. When Attila and the Huns invaded Germany fifteen centuries ago, it is said that their cry was, "On to Bavaria—on to Bavaria! for there dwells the Lord God himself!"
In the heart of these mountains, shut off from the highways of travel by great walls of rock, lies the valley of the little river Ammer. Its waters are cold and clear, for they flow from mountain springs, and its willow-shaded eddies are full of trout. At first a brawling torrent, its current grows more gentle as the valley widens and the rocks recede, and at last the little river flows quietly with broad windings through meadows carpeted with flowers. On these meadows, a couple of miles apart, lie the twin villages of the Ammer Valley—the one world-famous, the other unheard of beyond the sound of its church-bells—Ober and Unter Ammergau.
Long, straggling, Swiss-like towns, these villages on the Ammer meadows are. You may find a hundred such between Innsbruck and Zuerich. Stone houses, plastered outside and painted white, stand close together, each one passing gradually backward into woodshed, barn, and stable. You may lose your way in the narrow, crooked streets, as purposeless in their direction as the footsteps of the cows who first surveyed them.
Oberammergau is a cleaner town than most, with a handsomer church, and a general evidence of local pride and modest prosperity. Frescoes on the walls of the houses here and there, paintings of saints and angels, bear witness to a love of beauty and to the prevalence of a religious spirit. These pictures, still bright after more than a century's wear, go back to the time when the peasant boy, Franz Zwink, of Oberammergau, mixed paints for a famous artist who painted the interior of the Ettal Monastery and the village church. The boy learned the art as well as the process, and when his master was gone, he covered the walls of his native town with pictures such as made men famous in other times and in other lands. The spirit of the Italian masters was his, and the work of Zwink at Oberammergau has been called "a wandering wave from the mighty sea of the Renaissance which has broken on a far-off coast."
The Passion Play at Oberammergau has been characterized as a relic of medieval times—the last remains of the old Miracle Play. This is true, in the sense of historical continuity, and in that sense alone. The spirit of the times has penetrated even to this isolated valley, and its Passion Play is as much a product of our century as the poetry of Tennyson. Miracle Plays were shown at Oberammergau and in the town about it more than five hundred years ago, but the Passion Play of to-day is not like them. The imps and devils and all the machinery of superstition are gone. Harmony has taken the place of crudity, and the Christ of Oberammergau is the Christ of modern conception. The Miracle Play, dead or dying everywhere else, has lived and been perfected at Oberammergau.
It has been pre-eminently the work of the Church of Rome to teach the common people, and to train them to obedience. In its teaching it has made use of every means which could serve its purposes. Didactic teaching is not effective with tired and sleepy peasants. Sermons soothe, rather than instruct, after a week of hard labor in the fields. Hence comes the need of object-teaching, if teaching is to be real.
Images have been used in this way in the Catholic Church—not as objects to be worshiped, but as representations of sacred things. Paintings have served the same purpose. The noblest paintings in the world have been wrought to this end. It was in such lines alone that art could find worthy recognition. In like manner, processions and "Passion Plays" have served the same purpose.
The old Miracle Plays were grotesque enough—made by common people for the instruction of common people. Even amid the pathos of divine suffering the peasants must be amused. Care was taken that the character of Judas should meet this demand. So Judas was made at once a traitor and a clown. His pathway was beset by devils of the most ridiculous sort. And when at last he hung himself on the stage, his body burst open, and the long links of sausages which represented intestines were devoured by the imps amid the laughter and delight of the peasant audience. Now all this has passed away. Wise and learned men have taken the play in hand, and have left it a monument to their piety and good taste. Everything grotesque, or barbarous, or ridiculous has been eliminated. All else is subordinated to a faithful and artistic representation of the life and acts of Christ. Stately prose and the language of the Gospel narratives have been substituted for doggerel verse. As a work of art, the Passion Play deserves a high place in the literature of Germany.
One striking feature of the Passion Play is the absence of superstitious elements. Beyond the dominating influence of the purpose of God, which is brought into strong prominence, there is almost nothing which suggests the supernatural or miraculous. That little even is forgotten in the intensity of human interest. The Devil and his machinations have vanished entirely. One sees in the religious customs of the people of Oberammergau few of the superstitions common among the peasant classes of other parts of Europe. In his little book, "Oberammergau und Seine Bewohner," Pastor Daisenberger says: "Superstitious beliefs and customs one does not find here." Even the ordinary ghost-stories and traditions of Germany are outworn and forgotten in this town.
In 1634, so the tradition says, the black death came to Oberammergau, and one-tenth of the inhabitants died. The others made a vow, "a trembling vow, breathed in a night of tears," that if God should stay the plague, they would, on every tenth year, repeat in full, for the edification of the people, the Tragedy of the Passion. Other communities might build temples or monasteries, or could undertake pilgrimages; it should be their duty to show "The Way of the Cross." When this vow was taken, the pestilence ceased, and not another person perished. This was regarded by the people as a visible sign of divine approval. Thus every tenth year for nearly three centuries, ever since the time when the Pilgrims landed on Plymouth Rock, with varying fortunes and interruptions, the Passion Play has been represented in Oberammergau.
The play in its present form is essentially the work of Josef Alois Daisenberger, who was for twenty years pastor of the church at Oberammergau. In this town he was born in the last year of the last century, and there he died, in 1888, revered and beloved by all who came near him.
"I wrote the play," Pastor Daisenberger said, "for the love of my Divine Redeemer, and with no other object in view than the edification of the Christian world."
The first aim of the Passion Play has been the training of the common people. To its various representations came the peasants of Bavaria, Wuertemberg, and the Tyrol, on horses, on donkeys, on foot, a long and difficult journey across mountain-walls and through great forests. It was the memory and inspiration of a lifetime to have seen the Passion Play.
About forty years ago the tourist world discovered this scene; and since then, on the decennial year, an ever-increasing interest has been felt, an ever-growing stream of travel has been turned toward the Ammer Valley. All, prince or peasant, are treated alike by the simple, honest people, and the same preparation is made for the reception of all. The purpose of the play should be kept in mind in any just criticism. To have the right to discuss it at all, one must treat it in a spirit of sympathy.
We came into Oberammergau on Friday, the 1st day of August, 1890, to witness the performance of the Sunday following. The city of Munich, seventy miles away, was crowded with visitors, all bound to the Passion Play. The express-train of twenty cars which carried us from Munich was crowded with people from almost every part of the civilized world.
At Oberau, six miles from Oberammergau, at the foot of the Ettal Mountain, we left the railway, and there took part in a general scramble for seats in the carriages. The fine new road winds through dark pine woods, climbing the hill in long zigzags above wild chasms, past the old monastery of Ettal, and then slowly descends to the soft Ammer meadows. The great peak of the Kofel is ever in front, while the main chain of the Bavarian Alps closes the view behind.
Arrived in the little village, all was bustle and confusion. The streets were full of people—some busy in taking care of strangers, others sauntering idly about, as if at a country fair. Young women, in black bodices and white sleeves, welcomed the visitors at the little inns or served them in the shops. Everywhere were young men in Tyrolese holiday attire—green coats, black slouch hats, with a feather or sprig of Edelweiss in the hat-band, and with trousers, like those of the Scottish Highlanders, which end hopelessly beyond the reach of either shoes or stockings. Besides the rustics and the tourists, one met here and there upon the streets men whose grave demeanor and long black hair resting on their shoulders proclaimed them to be actors in the Passion Play.
On Sunday morning we were awakened by the sound of a cannon planted at the foot of the Kofel, a sharp, conical, towering mountain, some two thousand feet above the town, and bearing on its summit a tall gilded cross. It was cold and rainy, but that made no difference with the audience or the play. At eight o'clock, when the cannon sounds again, all are in their places, and the play begins. It lasts for eight hours—from eight o'clock in the morning to half-past five in the afternoon, with a single interruption of an hour and a half at noon. The stage is wide and ample. Its central part is covered, but the front, which represents the fields and the streets of Jerusalem, is in the open air. This feature lends the play a special charm. On the left, across the stage, over which the fitful rain-clouds chase one another, we can plainly see the long, green slope of Ettal mountain, dotted from bottom to top with herdmen's huts or chalets, and on the summit a tall pine-tree, standing out alone above all its brethren. On the other side appear the wild crags of the Kofel, its gilded cross glistening in the sunshine above the morning mists. Swallows fly in and out among the painted palm-trees, their twitter sounding sharply above the music of the chorus. The little birds raise their voices to make themselves heard to each other.
As the play progresses the intense truthfulness of the people of Oberammergau steadily grows upon us. For many generations the best intellects and noblest lives in the town have been devoted to the sole end of giving a worthy picture of the life and acts of Christ. Each generation of actors has left this picture more noble than it ever was before. Their work has been wrought in a spirit of serious truthfulness, which in itself places the Oberammergau stage in a class by itself, above and beyond all other theaters. Everything is real, and stands for what it is. Kings and priests are dressed, not in flimsy tinsel, but in garments such as real kings and priests may have worn. And so no artificial light or glare of fireworks is needed to make these costumes effective. And this genuineness enables these simple players to produce effects which the richest theaters would scarcely dare to undertake; and all this in the open air, in glaring sunshine or in pouring rain. The players themselves can scarcely be called actors. In their way, they are strong beyond all mere actors, and for this reason—that they do not seem to act. From childhood they have grown up in the parts they play. Childish voices learn the solemn music of the chorus in the schools, and childish forms mingle in the triumphal procession in the regular church festivals. All the effects of accumulated tradition, all the results of years of training tend to make of them, not actors at all, but living figures of the characters they represent. And we can look back over the history of Oberammergau, and see how, through the growth of this purpose of its life, it has come to be unique among all the towns of Europe.
Many have wondered that in so small a town there should be so many men of striking personality. The reason for this is to be sought in the operation of natural selection. In the ordinary German village, the best men find no career. They go from home to the cities or to foreign lands, in search of the work and influence not to be secured at home. The strongest go, and the dull remain. All, this is reversed at Oberammergau. Only the native citizen takes part in the play. Those who are stupid or vicious are excluded from it. Not to take part in the play is to have no reason for remaining in Oberammergau. To be chosen for an important part is the highest honor the people know. So the influences at work retain the best and exclude the others. Moreover, the leading families of Oberammergau, the families of Zwink, Lang, Rendl, Mayr, Lechner, Diemer, etc., are closely related by intermarriage. These people are all of one blood—all of one great family. This family is one of actors, serious, intelligent, devoted, and all these virtues are turned to effect in their acting.
This work is that of a lifetime. Little boys and girls come on the stage in the arms of the mothers—matrons of Jerusalem. Older boys shout in the rabble and become at last Roman soldiers or servants of the High Priest. Still later, the best of them are ranged among the Apostles, and the rare genius becomes Pilate, John, Judas, or the Christ.
In the house of mine host, the chief of the money-changers in the temple, the eldest daughter was called Magdalena. In 1890, at fourteen, she was leader of the girls in the tableau of the falling manna. In 1900, she may, perhaps, become Mary Magdalen, the end in life which her parents have chosen for her.
After the cannon sounds, the chorus of guardian spirits (Schuetzengeister) comes forward to make plain by speech or action the meaning of the coming scenes. This chorus is modeled after the chorus in the Greek plays. It is composed of twenty-four singers, the best that Oberammergau has, all picturesquely clad in Greek costumes,—white tunics, trimmed with gold, and over these an outer mantle of some deep, quiet shade, the whole forming a perfect harmony of soft Oriental colors. Stately and beautiful the chorus is throughout. The time which in ordinary theaters is devoted to the arranging of scenes behind a blank curtain is here filled by the songs and recitations of the guardian spirits. Once in the play the chorus appears in black, in keeping with the dark scenes they come forth to foretell. But at the end the bright robes are resumed, while the play closes with a burst of triumph from their lips.
At the beginning of each act, the leader of the singers, the village schoolmaster, comes forth from the chorus, and the curtain parts, revealing a tableau illustrative of the coming scenes. These tableaux, some thirty or forty in number, are taken from scenes in the Old Testament which are supposed to prefigure acts in the life of Christ. Thus the treachery of Judas is prefigured by the sale of Joseph by his brethren. The farewell at Bethany has its type in the mourning bride in the Song of Solomon; the Crucifixion, in the brazen serpent of Moses. Sometimes the connection between the tableaux and the scenes is not easily traced; but even then the pictures justify themselves by their own beauty. Often five hundred people are brought on the stage at once. These range in size from the tall and patriarchal Moses to children of two years. But, old or young, there is never a muscle or a fold of garment out of place. The first tableau represents Adam and Eve driven from Eden by the angel with the flaming sword. It was not easy to believe that these figures were real. They were as changeless as wax. They did not even wink. The critic may notice that the hands of the women are large and brown, and the children's faces not free from sunburn. But there is no other hint that these exquisite pictures are made up from the village boys and girls, those who on other days milk the cows and scrub the floors in the little town. The marvelously varied costumes and the grouping of these tableaux are the work of the drawing-teacher, Ludwig Lang. Without appearing anywhere in the play, this gifted man makes himself everywhere felt in the delicacy of his feeling for harmonies of color.
At the beginning of the play the leader of the chorus addresses the audience as friends and brothers who are present for the same reason as the actors themselves—namely, to assist devoutly at the mystery to be set forth, the story of the redemption of the world. The purpose is, as far as may be, to share the sorrows of the Saviour and to follow him step by step on the way of his sufferings to the cross and sepulcher. Then comes the prologue, solemnly intoned, of which the most striking words are these:
"Nicht ewig zuernet Er Ich will, so spricht der Herr, Den Tod des Suenders nicht."
"He will not be angry forever. I, saith the Lord, will not the death of the sinner. I will forgive him; he shall live, and in my Son's blood shall be reconciled."
When its part is finished the chorus retires, and the Passion Play begins with the entry of Christ into Jerusalem. Far in the distance we hear the music, "Hail to thee, O David's son!" Then follows a seemingly endless procession of men, women, and children who wave palm-leaves and shout hosannas. One little flaxen-haired girl, dressed in blue, and carrying a long, slender palm-leaf, is especially striking in her beauty and naturalness.
At last He comes, riding sidewise upon a beast that seems too small for his great stature. He is dressed in a purple robe, over which is a mantle of rich crimson. Beside him, in red and olive-green, is the girlish-looking youth, Peter Rendl, who takes the part of Saint John. Behind him follow his disciples, each with the pilgrim's staff. Two of these are more conspicuous than the others. One is a white-haired, eager old man, wearing a mantle of olive-green. The other, younger, dark, sullen, and tangle-haired, dressed in a robe of saffron over dull yellow, is the only person in the throng out of harmony with the prevailing joyousness.
Followed by the people, who stand apart in reverence as he passes among them, Christ approaches the temple. His face is pale, in marked contrast to his abundant black hair. His expression is serious, or even care-worn, less mild than in the usual pictures of Jesus, but certainly in keeping with the scenes of the Passion Play. A fine, strong, masterful man of great stature and immense physical strength is the wood-carver, Josef Mayr, who now for three successive decades has taken this part. A man of attractive presence and lofty bearing, one whom every eye follows as he goes about the town on the round of his daily duties, yet simple-hearted and modest, as becomes one who takes on himself not only the dress but the name and figure of the Saviour.
Essays have been written on "Christus" Mayr and his conception of Jesus, and I can only assent to the general impression. To me it seems that Mayr's thought of Christ is one which all must accept. He appears as "one driven by the Spirit,"—the great mild teacher, the man who can afford to be silent before kings and before mobs, and to whom the pains of Calvary are not more deep than the sorrows of Gethsemane, the man who comes to do the work of his Father, regardless alike of human praise or of human contempt. The great strength of the presentation is that it brings to the front the essentials of Christ's life and death. There is no suggestion of theological subtleties nor of the ceremonies of any church. It is simply true and terrible.
From one of his fellow-actors, I learned this of Josef Mayr. He has always been what he is now, a hand-worker ("gemeiner Arbeiter") in Oberammergau. He has never been away from his native town except once, when he went as a workman to Vienna, and once when, in 1870, the play was interrupted by the war with France, and Mayr himself was taken into the army. Out of respect to his art, he was never sent to the front, but kept in the garrison at Munich. When the war was over, and he came back, in 1871, the grateful villagers resumed the play as their "best method of thanking God who had given them the blessings of victory and peace."
Canon Farrar, of Westminster, has given us the best and most sympathetic account yet published of the various actors. Of Mayr he said: "It is no small testimony to the goodness and the ability of Josef Mayr that in his representation of Christ he does not offend us by a single word or a single gesture. If there were in his manner the slightest touch of affectation or of self-consciousness; if there were the remotest suspicion of a strut in his gait, we should be compelled to turn aside in disgust. As it is, we forget the artist altogether. For it is easy to see that Josef Mayr forgets himself, and wishes only to give a faithful picture of the events in the Gospel story."
As the Master enters the temple, he finds that its courts are filled with a noisy throng of money-changers, peddlers, and dealers in animals for sacrifice. He is filled with wrath and indignation. In a commanding tone, he orders them to take their own and leave this holy place. "There is room enough for trading outside. 'My house,' thus saith the Lord, 'shall be a house of prayer to all the people.' Ye have made it a den of thieves." ("Zur Raeuberhoehle, habt Ihr es gemacht!")
The peddlers pay no attention to his protest. Then, with a sudden burst of wrath, he breaks upon them, overturning their tables, scattering their gold upon the floor, and beating them with thongs. The animals kept for sacrifice are released. The sheep scamper backward to the rear of the stage, and escape through the open door. The white doves fly out over the heads of the spectators, and are lost against the green slopes of the Kofel.
The play now follows the Gospel narrative very closely. It is, in fact, the Gospel story, with only such changes as fit it for continuous presentation. Events aside from the current of the story, such as the wedding at Cana and the raising of Lazarus, are omitted. There are few long speeches. The leading features of what may be called the plot, the wrath of the money-changers, the fierce hatred of the Pharisees, the avarice of Judas, which makes him their tool, are all sharply emphasized.
The next scene introduces us to the High Council of the Jews, and to its leading spirit, Caiaphas. Caiaphas is represented by the burgomaster of the village, Johann Lang. "No medieval pope," says Canon Farrar, "could pronounce his sentences with more dignity and verve. He is what has been called 'that terrible creature, the perfect priest.'" Violent, unforgiving, and harsh, he is the soul of the conspiracy. His strong determination is reflected in the weak malignity of his colleague, Annas, as well as in the priests and scribes. "While he lives," Caiaphas says, "there is no peace for Israel. It is better that one man should die, that the whole nation perish not."
We next behold Jesus accompanied by his disciples on the road toward the house of Simon of Bethany. As they walk along, he talks sadly of his approaching death. None of them can understand his words; for to them he has been victorious over all his enemies. "A word from thee," says Peter, "and they are crushed." "I see not," says Thomas, "why thou speakest so often of sorrow and death. Do we not read in the prophets that Christ lives forever? Thou canst not die, for with thy power thou wakest even the dead." Even John declares that Christ's words are dark and dismal, while he and his associates use every effort to cheer the Master.
At the house of Simon of Bethany, Mary Magdalen breaks the costly dish of ointment. Judas, who carries the slender purse of the disciples, is vexed at the waste, and talks of all the good the value of this ointment might have done if given to the poor.
Very carefully worked out is the character of Judas, represented by Johann Zwink, the miller of Oberammergau, who ten years ago took the part of Saint John. The people of Oberammergau regard Zwink as the most gifted of all their actors; for he can, they say, play any part. ("Er spielt alle Rolle.") Gregor Lechner, who in his younger days had the part of Judas, is now Simon of Bethany. Of all the actors of Oberammergau, the people told us, Lechner is the most beloved ("bestens beliebt").
In Zwink's conception, Judas is a man full of ambition, but without enthusiasm. He is attracted by the power of Christ, from which he expects great results. But Christ seems to care little for his own mighty works. "My mission," he says, "is not to command, but to serve." So Judas becomes impatient and dissatisfied. The eager enthusiasm of Peter and the tender devotion of John alike bore and disgust him. So the emissaries of Caiaphas find him half-prepared for their mission. He admits that he has made a mistake in joining his fortunes to those of an unpractical and sorrowful prophet who lets great opportunities slip from his grasp, and who wastes a fortune in precious ointment with no more thought than if it had been water. "There has of late been a coolness between him and me," he confesses. "I am tired," he says, "of hoping and waiting, with nothing before me except poverty, humiliation, perhaps even torture and the prison." He is especially ill at ease when the Master speaks of his approaching death. "If thou givest up thy life," he says, "what will become of us?" And so Judas reasons with himself that he can afford to be prudent. If his Master fail, then he must be a false prophet, and there is no use in following him. If he succeed, as with his mighty power he can hardly fail to do, then, says Judas, "I will throw myself at his feet. He is such a good man; never have I seen him cast a penitent away. But I fear to face the Master. His sharp look goes through and through me. Still at the most I shall only tell the priests where my Master is." And thus the good and bad impulses struggle for the mastery, giving to this character the greatest tragic interest. He visibly shrinks before the words of Christ, "One of you shall betray me." In the High Council he cringes under the scorching reproach of Nicodemus. "Dost thou not blush," Nicodemus says, "to sell thy Lord and Master? This blood-money calls to heaven for revenge. Some day it will burn hot in thine avarice-sunken soul."
But the High Priest says, "Come, Judas, take the silver, and be a man." And when the thirty pieces are counted out to him, he cannot resist the temptation, but clutches them with a miser's grasp and hurries off to intercept the Master on his way through the Garden of Gethsemane. Meanwhile, after a tender farewell from his mother, Christ leaves the house of Simon of Bethany, and, with his disciples, takes the road to Jerusalem.
The part of Mary the mother of Christ is admirably taken by Rosa Lang. In dress and mien, she seems to have stepped down from some picture-frame of Raphael or Murillo. The Mary of Rosa Lang is in every respect a worthy companion of Mayr's Christus.
The various scenes in which the Apostles appear are modeled more or less after the great religious paintings, especially those of the Bavarian artist, Albrecht Duerer. The Last Supper is a living representation of the famous painting of Leonardo da Vinci in the refectory at Milan. Peter and Judas are here brought into sharp contrast. Next to Christ, is the slender figure of the beloved disciple. The characters of the different Apostles are placed in bold relief. We are at once interested in the fine face of Andreas Lang, the Apostle Thomas, critical and questioning, but altogether loyal. The Apostle Philip looks for signs and visions, and would see the Father coming in His glory from the skies, not in the common every-day scenes of life into which the Master led them. "Have I been so long time with thee, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip?"
Next comes the night scene in the Garden of Gethsemane on the Mount of Olives. The tired Apostles rest upon the grassy bank, and one by one they fall asleep. Even Peter, who is nearest the Master, can keep awake no longer. Christ kneels upon the rocks above the sleeping Peter. "O Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me." He looks back to his disciples. "Are your eyes so heavy that ye cannot watch? The weight of God's justice lies upon me. The sins of the fallen world weigh me down. O Father, if it is not possible that this hour go by, then may thy holy will be done."
Suddenly a great tumult is heard. The faint light of the morning is reflected from the clanging armor and from glittering spears. The Apostles are rudely awakened. Judas comes forth and greets the Master with a kiss. At this signal, the Master is seized by the soldiers and roughly bound. Then he is carried away, first to Annas, and afterwards to the house of Caiaphas.
Of the scenes that immediately follow, the most striking is that of the denial of Peter. Peter, as represented by the sexton of the church, Jacob Hitt, is an old man with a young heart, eager and impulsive. He dreams of the noble part he will take while standing by the Master's side before kings and priests, but behaves very humanly when he is brought face to face with an unexpected test.
The scenes of the night have crowded thick and fast. The Apostles have been scattered by the soldiers. The Master had been bound, and carried away they know not whither. Peter had tried to defend him, but was told to "put away his useless sword." In forlorn agony Peter and John wander about in the dark, seeking news of Jesus. They meet a servant who tells them that he has been carried before the High Priest, and that the whole brood of his followers is to be rooted out.
Near the house of the High Priest Annas we see a sort of inn occupied by rough soldiers. The night is damp and cold. A maid has kindled a fire in the courtyard, and Peter approaches it to warm his hands, and, if possible, to gain some further news of the Master. He hears the soldiers talking of Malchus, one of their number who had had his ear cut off. They boast of what they will do with the culprit, if he should ever fall into their power. "An ear for an ear," he hears them say. Suddenly the maid turns towards Peter and says, "Yes, you, surely you were with the Nazarene Jesus." Peter hesitates. Should he confess, he would have his own ears cut off, an ear for an ear—and most likely his head, too, while his body would be thrown out on the rubbish heap behind the inn. Peter had said that he would die for the Master; and so he would on the field of battle, or in any way where he might have a glorious death. He would die for the Master, but not then and there. The death of a martyr has its pleasures, no doubt, but not the death of a dog.
While Peter stood thus considering these matters, one and then another of the servants insisted that he had surely been seen with the Nazarene Jesus. Again and again Peter refused all knowledge of the Master. When the cock crew once more he had denied his Master thrice. While Peter still insisted, the door opened and the Master came forth under the High Priest's sentence of death. "And the Lord turned and looked upon Peter, and Peter went out and wept bitterly." "Oh, Master," he says in the play:
"Oh, Master, how have I fallen! I have denied thee, how can it be possible? Three times denied thee! Oh, thou knowest, Lord, I was resolved to follow thee to death."
Meanwhile Judas hears the story of what has happened. He is at once filled with agony and remorse, for he had not expected it. He was sure that the great power of the Master would bring him through safely at last. In helpless agony, he rushes before the Council and makes an ineffective protest. "No peace for me forevermore; no peace for you," he says. "The blood of the innocent cries aloud for justice." He is repulsed with cold indifference. "Will it or not," says the High Priest, "he must die, and it would be well for thee to look out for thyself."
In fury he cries out, "If he dies, then am I a traitor. May ten thousand devils tear me in pieces! Here, ye bloodhounds, take back your curse!" And flinging the blood-money at the feet of the priests, he flies from their presence, pursued by the specter of his crime.
The next scene shows us the field of blood—a wind-swept desert, with one forlorn tree in the foreground. We see the wretched Judas before the tree. He tears off his girdle, "a snake," he calls it, and places it about his neck, snapping off a branch of the tree in his haste to fasten it. "Here, accursed life, I end thee; let the most miserable of all fruit hang upon this tree." In the action we feel that Judas is not so much wicked as weak. He has little faith and little imagination, and his folly of avarice hurries him into betrayal. Those who see the play feel as the actors feel, that Christ knows the weakness of man. He would have forgiven Judas, just as he forgave Peter.
In the early morning Christ is brought before Pontius Pilate. The Roman governor, admirably represented by Thomas Rendl, appears in the balcony and talks down to Caiaphas, who sends up his accusations from the street below. His clear sense of justice makes Pilate at first more than a match for the conspirators. With magnificent scorn he tells Caiaphas that he is "astounded at his sudden zeal for Caesar." Of Christ he says: "He seems to me a wise man—so wise that these dark men cannot bear the light from his wisdom." Learning that Jesus is from Galilee, he throws the whole matter into the hands of Herod, the governor of that province.
The words of Pilate are very finely spoken. "We marvel," says one writer, "how the peasant Rendl learned to bear himself so nobly or to utter the famous question, 'What is truth?' with a certain dreamy inward expression and tone, as though outward circumstances had for the instant vanished from his mind, and he were alone with his own soul and the flood of thought raised by the words of Jesus."
In contrast to Pilate, stands Herod, lazy and voluptuous. He, too, finds nothing of evil in Jesus, whom he supposes to be a clever magician. "Cause that this hall may become dark," he says, "or that this roll of paper, which is thy sentence of death, shall become a serpent." He receives Christ in good-natured expectancy, which changes to disgust when he answers him not a word. Herod pronounces him "dumb as a fish," and, after clothing him in a splendid purple mantle, he sends him away unharmed, with the title of "King of Fools."
Again Christ is brought before Pilate, who tells Caiaphas plainly that his accusations mean only his own personal hatred, and that the voice of the people is but the senseless clamor of the mob set in operation by intrigue. Pilate orders Jesus to be scourged, in the hope that the sight of his noble bearing amid unmerited cruelties may soften the hearts of the people. Nowhere does the noble figure of Mayr appear to better advantage than in this scene, where, after a brutal chastisement, scarcely lessened in the presentation on the stage, the Roman soldiers place a cattail flag in his hand and salute him as a king.
Pilate then brings forth an abandoned wreck of humanity, old Barabbas, the murderer. As Christ stands before them, blood-stained and crowned with thorns, half in hope and half in irony, Pilate invites them to choose. "Behold the man," he said, "a wise teacher whom ye have long honored, guilty of no evil deed. Jesus or Barabbas, which will ye choose?"
All the more fiercely the mob cries, "Crucify him! Crucify him!"
Pilate is puzzled. "I cannot understand these people," he said. "But a few days ago, ye followed this man with rejoicing through the streets of Jerusalem." The High Priest threatens to appeal to Rome. Pilate fears to face such an appeal. He has little confidence in the favor or the justice of the Caesar whom he serves. At last he consents to what he calls "a great wrong in order to avert a greater evil." He calls for water, and washes his hands in ostentatious innocence. Finally, as he signs the verdict of condemnation in wrath and disgust, he breaks his staff of office, and flings the fragments upon the stairs, at the feet of the priests.
Next we behold in the foreground of the stage, John and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with them a little group of followers. A tumult is heard, and, in the midst of a great throng of people, we see three crosses borne by prisoners. Jesus beholds his mother. Suddenly he faints, under the weight of the cross. The rough soldiers urge him on. Simon of Cyrene, a sturdy passer-by, who is carrying home provisions from the market, is seized by the soldiers and forced to give aid. At first he refuses. "I will not do it," he says; "I am a free man, and no criminal." But his indignant protests turn to pity, when he beholds the Holy Man of Nazareth. "For the love of thee," he says, "will I bear thy cross. Oh, could I make myself thus worthy in thy sight!"
The closing scenes of the Passion Play, associated as they are with all that has been held sacred by our race for nearly two thousand years, are thrilling beyond comparison. No one can witness them unmoved. No one can forget the impression made by the living pictures. In simplicity and reverence, the work is undertaken, and it awakens in the beholder only corresponding feelings. Every heart, for the time at least, is stirred to its depths.
When the curtain rises, two crosses are seen, each in its place. The central cross is not yet raised. The Roman soldiers take their time for it. "Come, now," says one of them, "we must put this Jewish king upon his throne." So the heavy cross, with its burden, is raised in its place. We see the bloody nails in his hands and feet; and so realistic is the representation, that the nearest spectator cannot see that he is not actually nailed to the cross. There is no haste shown in the presentation. The Crucifixion is not a tableau, displayed for an instant and then withdrawn. The scene lasts so long that one feels a strange sense of surprise when Christus Mayr appears alive again.
Twenty minutes is the time actually taken for the representation. "It is hard," said our landlady, the good Frau Wiedermann, "to be on the cross so long, even if one is not actually nailed to it. It is hard for the thieves, too," she said, "as well as for Josef Mayr."
The thieves themselves deserve a moment's notice. The one on the right is a bald old man, who meets his death in patience and humility. The one on the left is a robust young fellow, who defies his associates and tormentors alike, and joins his voice to that of the rabble in scoffing at the power of Jesus. "If thou be a god," he says, "save thyself and us." There is at first a struggle over the inscription at the head of the cross. "Let it read, 'He called himself the King of the Jews,'" say the priests. But the Roman soldier is obdurate. "What I have written I have written," and the centurion grimly nails it on the cross above his head, regardless alike of their rage and protestations.
Meanwhile, in the foreground the four Roman guards part the purple robe of Christ, each one taking his share. But the seamless coat they will not divide. So they cast the dice on the ground to see to whom this prize shall fall. They are in no hurry. Traitors and thieves have all night to die in, and they can wait for them. The first soldier throws a low number, and gives up the contest. The second does better. The third calls up to the cross, "If thou be a god, help me to throw a lucky number." One cast of the dice is disputed. It has to be tried again.
Meanwhile we hear the poor dying body on the cross, in a voice broken with agony, "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do." Again, amid the railings of the Jews, "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" Then again, after a sharp cry of pain, "It is finished!"
The captain drives the scoffing mob away, bidding the women come nearer. Then a Roman soldier, sent by Pilate, comes and breaks the legs of the thieves. We hear their bones crack under the club. Their heads fall, their muscles shrink, as the breath leaves the body. But finding that Jesus is already dead, the soldier breaks not his legs, but thrusts a spear into his side. We can see the spear pierce the flesh, but we cannot see that the blood flows from the spear-point itself, and not from the Master's body. The soldiers fall back with a feeling of awe. Then, one by one, as the darkness falls, we see them file away on the road to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man is left in silence.
Then follows the descent from the cross, which suggests comparison with Rubens' famous painting in the Cathedral at Antwerp, but here shown with a fineness of touch and delicacy of feeling which that great painter of muscles and mantles could never attain. We see Nicodemus climb the ladder leaned against the back of the cross. He takes off first the crown of thorns. It is laid silently at Mary's feet. He pulls out the nails one by one. We hear them fall upon the ground. With the last one falls the wrench with which he has drawn it. Passing a long roll of white cloth over each arm of the cross, he lets the Saviour down into the strong arms of Joseph of Arimathea, and, at last, into the loving embrace of John and Mary. No description can give an idea of the all-compelling force of this scene. A treatment less reverent than is given by these peasants would make it an intolerable blasphemy. As it is, its justification is its perfection.
And this is the justification of the Passion Play itself. It can never become a show. It can never be carried to other countries. It never can be given under other circumstances. So long as its players are pure in heart and humble in spirit, so long can they keep their well-earned right to show to the world the Tragedy of the Cross.
 The word "passion," as used in the term "Passionspiel," signifies anguish or sorrow. The Passion Play is the story of the great anguish.
THE CALIFORNIA OF THE PADRE.
There is something in the name of Spain which calls up impressions rich, warm, and romantic. The "color of romance," which must be something between the hue of a purple grape and the red haze of the Indian summer, hangs over everything Spanish. Castles in Spain have ever been the fairest castles, and the banks of the Xenil and the Guadalquivir still bound the dreamland of the poet.
"There was never a castle seen So fair as mine in Spain; It stands embowered in green, Overlooking a gentle slope, On a hill by the Xenil's shore."
It has been said of Spanish rule in California, that its history was written upon sand, only to be washed away by the advancing tide of Saxon civilization. So far as the economic or political development of our State is concerned, this is true; the Mission period had no part in it, and its heroes have left no imperishable monuments.
But in one respect our Spanish predecessors have had a lasting influence, and the debt we owe to them, as yet scarcely appreciated, is one which will grow with the ages. It is said that Father Crespi, in 1770, gave Spanish names to every place where he encamped at night, and these names, rich and melodious, make the map of California unique among the States of the Union. It is fitting that the most varied, picturesque, and lovable of all the States should be the one thus favored. We feel everywhere the charm of the Spanish language—Latin cut loose from scholastic bonds, with a dash of firmness from the Visigoth and a touch of warmth from the sun-loving Moor. The names of Mariposa, San Buenaventura, Santa Barbara, Santa Cruz, and Monterey can never grow mean or common. In the counties along the coast, there is scarcely a hill, or stream, or village that does not bear some melodious trace of Spanish occupation.
To see what California might have been, we have only to turn away from the mission counties to the foothills of the Sierras, where the mining-camps of the Anglo-Saxon bear such names as Fiddletown, Red Dog, Dutch Flat, Murder Gulch, Ace of Spades, or Murderer's Bar; these changing later, by euphemistic vulgarity, into Ruby City, Magnolia Vale, Largentville, Idlewild, and the like. Or, if not these, our Anglo-Saxon practically gives us, not Our Lady of the Solitude, nor the City of the Holy Cross, not Fresno, the ash, nor Mariposa, the butterfly, but the momentous repetition of Smithvilles, Jonesboroughs, and Brownstowns, which makes the map of the Mississippi Valley a waste of unpoetical mediocrity.
So the Spanish names constitute our legacy from the Mission Fathers. It is now nearly three hundred and fifty years since Alta California was discovered, one hundred and twenty years since it was colonized by white people, and a little over forty years since it became a part of our republic. In 1542, Cabrillo had sailed up the coast as far as Cape Mendocino. In 1577, Sir Francis Drake came as far north as Point Reyes, where, seeing the white cliffs of Marin County, he called the country New Albion. Better known than these to Spanish-speaking people was the voyage of Sebastian Vizcaino, who, in 1602, had coasted along as far as Point Reyes, and had left a full account of his discoveries. The landlocked harbor which Cabrillo had named San Miguel, Vizcaino re-christened in honor of his flag-ship, San Diego de Alcala. Farther north, Vizcaino found a glorious deep and sheltered bay, "large enough to float all the navies of the world," he said; and this, in honor of the Viceroy of Mexico, he called the Bay of Monterey. To a broad curve of the coast to the north, between Point San Pedro and Point Reyes, he gave the name of the Bay of San Francisco, dedicating it to the memory of St. Francis of Assisi. A rough chart of the coast was made by his pilot, Cabrera Bueno, who left also an account of its leading features.
For a hundred and sixty years after Vizcaino's expedition, no use was made of his discoveries. In Professor Blackmar's words: "During all this time, not a European boat cut the surf of the northwest coast; not a foreigner trod the shore of Alta California. The white-winged galleon, plying its trade between Acapulco and the Philippines, occasionally passed near enough so that those on board might catch glimpses of the dark timber-line of the mountains of the coast or of the curling smoke of the forest fires; but the land was unknown to them, and the natives pursued their wandering life unmolested."
Toward the end of the seventeenth century, Father Salvatierra, head of the Jesuit missions in Lower California, fixed his eye on this region, and made plans for its occupation. In this the good Father Kuehn—a German from Bavaria, whom the Spaniards knew as "Quino,"—seconded him. But these plans came to naught. The power of the Jesuit order was broken; the charge of the missions in Lower California was given to the Dominicans, that of Upper California to the Franciscans, and to these and their associates the colonization of California is due. The Franciscans, it is said, "were the first white men who came to live and die in Alta California."
And this is how it came about. One hundred and thirty years ago, the port of La Paz, in Baja California, lay baking in the sun. La Paz was then, as now, a little old town, with narrow, stony streets and adobe houses, standing amidst palms, and chaparral, and cactus. To this port of La Paz came, one eventful day, Don Jose de Galvez, envoy of the King of Spain. He brought orders to the Governor of California, Don Gaspar de Portola, that he should send a vessel in search of the ports of San Diego and of Monterey, on the supposed island, or peninsula, of Upper California, once found by Vizcaino, but lost for a century and a half. There they were to establish colonies and missions of the Holy Catholic Church. They were "to spread the Catholic religion," said the letter, "among a numerous heathen people, submerged in the obscure darkness of paganism, thereby to extend the dominion of the king, our lord, and to protect this peninsula of California from the ambitious designs of the foreign nations."
"The land must be fertile for everything," says Galvez, "for it lies in the same latitude as Spain." So they carried all sorts of household and field utensils, and seeds of every useful plant that grew in Spain and Mexico—the olive and the pomegranate, the grape and the orange, not forgetting the garlic and the pepper. All these were placed in two small ships, the San Carlos, under the gallant Captain Vila, and the San Antonio, under Captain Perez.
Padre Junipero Serra, chief apostle of these Spanish missions, blessed the vessels and the flags, commending the whole enterprise to the Most Holy Patriarch San Jose, who was supposed to feel a special interest in this class of expeditions. His early flight into Egypt gave him a peculiar fondness for schemes involving foreign travel. Galvez exhorted the soldiers and sailors to respect the priests, and not to quarrel with each other. And thus they sailed away for San Diego in the winter of 1769.