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pute had reference to the property left by | him to proceed as if he had been pera certain Padre Agostino, a native of fectly capable of acting as a lay person, Malta, who died recently at Tunis; and and had been, as the lawyers say, sui the litigants were, first, the pope, as head juris throughout. He died; and his next and representative of the Propagandâ of kin, very naturally ignoring all quesFide; secondly, the Capuchin Convent of tions relating to his ecclesiastical status, Malta, to which the deceased monk be- claimed his property as they would have longed; thirdly, two of his relations; and done had he been an ordinary lay person. fourthly, the queen of England, who was They have succeeded, moreover, in estabnot, indeed, represented by counsel, but lishing their right, but not without whose claim was incidentally mentioned grand fight on the part of the pope and the by the consul-general as being almost, if convent. not quite, as strong as that of any of the other parties. So respectable an array of suitors would hardly have been gathered together had not the trial involved some important and novel issues; and, indeed, the circumstances under which Father Agostino died were such as might puzzle the most ingenious judge who ever presided over a consular court.
The first question which presented itself for the consideration of the British consul was, of course, that of domicile; and there was not much difficulty in determining that a man who had been a Maltese subject of her Majesty, and had acted throughout under a British appointment, retained his domicile of origin, and became, as regarded his personal propHe had joined the Capuchin Convent in erty, in no sense amenable to the laws of Malta twenty-seven years ago, and taken | Tunis, Turkey, or France. The compethe usual vows, including that of perpet-tence of the British tribunal being thus ual poverty; the effects of which were, as established, the next thing was to dispose it was argued, twofold — first, that he of an objection to the effect that neither could not acquire or hold or transmit the pope nor the convent could sue in a property; and, secondly, that he became British court of justice. The consul-gencivilly dead and incapable for the future | of entering into any binding contracts on his own behalf. To this was added another assumption made by one of the counsel; that at the time of entering the convent he became bound by a rule prevailing in analogous cases, that whatever he might apparently acquire would be acquired not for himself but for the religious corporation. It will be seen that the sequel of the padre's history made it somewhat difficult to apply any one of these maxims. Shortly after he had become a Capuchin monk, the British government in Malta, recognizing his position, despatched him to Tunis to look after the spiritual welfare of the English in that principality. He went accordingly; but instead of confining himself to this essential part of his duties he rendered a variety of other and more practical services to the colony, and, what with lending out money at interest, acting as legal and literary adviser, making himself generally useful to others, and speculating on his own account, amassed a very considerable fortune, which he not only never handed over to the convent, but enjoyed in perfect security and made the most of till the day of his death. Whatever might be the claim of the corporation, or of the Propagandâ Fide (under whose orders he acted, to some extent at least, at Tunis), they made no mention of it during the lifetime of the friar, but allowed
eral, though complaining that the proclamation settling the constitution of Malta had not been produced, decided against the objection, on the ground that the Roman Catholic religion and the religious bodies professing it have a recognized and legal existence in the island. A third and much more formidable argument was that which has been already mentioned namely, that this monk, having in point of fact, though in violation of his vows, acquired large sums of money, did so as the agent of the society, and was bound sooner or later, either during his life or at his death, to hand it over to the common stock. Of this contention Mr. Fawcett disposed by holding, first, that no contract had been proved whereby he engaged to do any such thing; and, secondly, that the society, being composed of a number of men individually sworn to poverty, was itself also bound by a similar obligation, and could neither acquire nor hold. It is here, perhaps, that the argument which prevailed with the judge is weakest. For it appears that in most communities of the sort the contract referred to is understood to exist, and the property of individual members is thrown into a common stock; while, as regards the second part of the conclusion, an inference from the particular to the general does not very logically hold good. It is, indeed, almost obvious that the corpora tion does and must hold some sort of
property, such as a home to live in, cloth- | by consent of the law a Capuchin, and ing, furniture, 2nd probably books or had renounced all worldly possessions, archives of some kind. The monks must past, present, and future, what was his live; and, though they may be sworn not to enrich themselves personally, it would be hard if the law allowed any thief to rob them with impunity of the loaf or lentils destined for their daily meal. The monk despoiled of that humble possession might not be himself entitled to sue, but the convent, in the collective right of him and his fellows, could hardly be denied the protection of British law.
Granting, however, that the corporation or association of Capuchin monks could not hold the property, or support an action for it, we are then confronted with another claimant, the Propagandâ and the pope. These parties—or this party, for their interest appears to be identical contend that the monk has acquired, but clearly not for himself. He cannot hold, nor can his convent; nor can he transmit to his next of kin, who have ceased to have any relationship with him, inasmuch as he is civilly defunct. He acquires, therefore, for that body of which he is still a member, and which is not prohibited by a disciplinary rule from holding | temporal possessions. His property, in fine, is the property of the Church, and may be claimed by the head and represen. tative of the Church. Mr. Fawcett in his judgment does not perhaps give this contention quite all the weight it merits. He regards the pope as claiming through and by way of the convent; and thus in rejecting the demand of the latter assumes to have disposed of all those who trace their title through it. The pope may, without any violation of common sense or established law, deny both the premiss and the conclusion. He may assert that the convent's disability is a special disability not paralyzing it or "attainting" it as a channel of descent; and he may, moreover, claim without any reference to the convent at all, merely as the direct superior and as it were the guardian of this too avaricious member of his great Catholic flock. Whether the English law as established in Malta can recognize the Papal Church and its convents, and yet refuse to recognize such claims, if they are good in other Catholic countries, is a point not discussed in the judgment, and, perhaps considering the history of Papal provisions in England - it is still open to some little doubt.
The question of civil death becomes important in this curious case, when we look at the claim capable of being urged by the British crown. If the monk was
de facto possession of them but a mere sham and fiction in the eye of the law? What else were the goods in his ostensible ownership but bona vacantia, lapsed to the State? If for all legal and civil purposes he died when he entered the convent, and all his worldly possessions were then distributed, how can he now, in the contemplation of the law, die again, leaving heirs, executors, administrators, or next of kin? His blood relations now come forward to make out their connection with a man whom they had looked upon as cut off from them and the rest of the world, and for whose contracts, had he died insolvent, they were very unlikely to consider themselves bound. They rely to a great extent upon the alleged fact that the Capuchins cannot hold. But if their claim was bad at the first, the weakness of the other parties would not impart goodness to it, but would only let in the counsel for the crown. It is, indeed, a pity that the crown was not a party to the suit, and that notice of appeal to the Privy Council has not been given, if only for the purpose of ascertaining the principle to be applied in such cases. It is not at any time unlikely that some similar questions may arise in one of our colonies. But it will probably be long before a case presents itself so complicated in its details, and so fertile in perplexing problems. Padre Agostino has earned a place in the law reports; for there was, perhaps, never a man who did so many things which no one could suppose that he would, should, might, or could have done.
From The Portsmouth (Eng.) Monitor.
ILLUSTRATING THE METHOD UPON WHICH
BRETHREN, the words of my text are: Old Mother Hubbard, she went to the cupboard,
To get her poor dog a bone;
when she got there the cupboard was bare,
And so the poor dog had none.
These beautiful words, dear friends, carry with them a solemn lesson. I propose this evening to analyze their meaning, and to attempt to apply it, lofty as it may be, to our every-day life.
Old Mother Hubbard, she went to the cup-ice from Gunter's, the case would have board,
To get her poor dog a bone.
Mother Hubbard, you see, was old; there being no mention of others, we may presume she was alone; a widow-a friendless, old, solitary widow. Yet did she despair? Did she sit down and weep, or read a novel, or wring her hands? No! she went to the cupboard. And here observe that she went to the cupboard. She did not hop, or skip, or run, or jump, or use any other peripatetic artifice; she solely and merely went to the cupboard.
We have seen that she was old and lonely, and we now further see that she was poor. For, mark, the words are "the cupboard." Not" one of the cupboards," or the "right-hand cupboard," or the "lefthand cupboard," or the one above, or the one below, or the one under the stair, but just the cupboard. The one little humble cupboard the poor widow possessed. And why did she go to the cupboard? Was it to bring forth golden goblets or glittering precious stones, or costly apparel, or feasts, or any other attributes of wealth? It was to get her poor dog a bone! Not only was the widow poor, but her dog, the sole prop of her age, was poor too. We can imagine the scene. The poor dog crouching in the corner, looking wistfully at the solitary cupboard, and the widow going to that cupboard in hope, in expectation maybe to open it, although we are not distinctly told that it was not half open or ajar, to open it for that poor dog.
been different, the incident would have been otherwise. But it was bare, my brethren, bare as a bald head, bare as an infant born without a caul.
Many of you will probably say, with all the pride of worldly sophistry, "The widow, no doubt, went out and bought a dog-biscuit." Ah, no! Far removed from these earthly ideas, these mundane desires, poor Mother Hubbard the widow, whom many thoughtless worldlings would despise, in that she only owned one cupboard, perceived-or I might even say saw- at once the relentless logic of the situation, and yielded to it with all the heroism of that nature which had enabled her without deviation to reach the barren cupboard. She did not attempt, like the stiff-necked scoffers of this generation, to war against the inevitable; she did not try, like the so-called men of science, to explain what she did not understand. She did nothing. "The poor dog had none!" And then at this point our information ceases. But do we not know sufficient? Are we not cognizant of enough?
Who would dare to pierce the veil that shrouds the ulterior fate of old Mother Hubbard, the poor dog, the cupboard, or the bone that was not there? imagine her still standing at the open cupboard door-depict to ourselves the dog still drooping his disappointed tail upon the floor-the sought-for bone still remaining somewhere else? Ah! no, my dear brethren, we are not so permitted to attempt to read the future. Suffice it
But when she got there the cupboard was for us to glean from this beautiful story
And so the poor dog had none.
"When she got there!" You see, dear brethren, what perseverance is. You see the beauty of persistence in doing right. She got there. There were no turnings and twistings, no slippings and slidings, no leaning to the right or falterings to the left. With glorious simplicity we are told she got there.
And how was her noble effort rewarded?
"The cupboard was bare!" It was bare! There were to be found neither oranges nor cheesecakes, nor penny buns, nor gingerbread, nor crackers, nor nuts, nor lucifer matches. The cupboard was bare! There was but one, only one solitary cupboard in the whole of that cottage, and that one, the sole hope of the widow and the glorious loadstar of the poor dog, was bare! Had there been a leg of mutton, a loin of lamb, a fillet of veal, even an
its many lessons; suffice it for us to apply them, to study them as far as in us lies, and bearing in mind the natural frailty of our nature, to avoid being widows; to shun the patronymic of Hubbard; to have, if our means afford it, more than one cupboard in the house, and to keep stores in them all. And oh dear friends, keeping in recollection what we have learned this day, let us avoid keeping dogs that are fond of bones. But, brethren, if we do - if fate has ordained that we should do any of these things-let us then go, as Mother Hubbard did, straight, without curveting or prancing, to our cupboard, empty though it be; let us, like her, accept the inevitable with calm steadfastness; and should we like her ever be left with a hungry dog and an empty cupboard, may future chroniclers be able to write also of us, in the beautiful words of our text,
And so the poor dog had none.
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Or snowflake that has lost its way, Its path in life mistaken,
Some dream that flies at break of day,
A pair of youthful lovers we
Ere time had stole a march on me,
Ah, Molly, I shall ne'er forget
I think you
A Niobe in garments brief,
Your tears were quite in season;
But then your doll had come to grief -
I still preserve with tender care
Your Prayer-book, frayed with kissing, A relic much the worse for wear,
With half the pages missing.
My sweetheart of the past is dead,
The maid should think of fainting.
A dainty cap (I think I'm right)
The golden head surmounting,
A pair of gloves whose buttons quite
That seem to weary never, Disport themselves in myrtle groves That blossom on forever,
A gleam of gems whose elfin light