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[322] fact, he was more—for the physical reasons which affected the choice of a career for Pius would in Polk's case have prevented him from taking orders. His life as a rector was interrupted by ill-health, and everything went to show that his physical well-being required activity out of doors. In putting aside the ambitions of a soldier he not only did violence to his own preferences, but to a family tradition which was exceptionally strong, both his father and grandfather having served with distinction in the war of independence. The present generation of Americans can perhaps hardly realize how much nearer the European ideal in force and tenacity family tradition was a century ago than it is now in this country. America was then just out of colonial leading strings. She had barely begun to diverge from habits which under previous conditions she would only too gladly have strengthened and perpetuated. When Leonidas Polk, after completing an honorable course of study at West Point, decided to enter the ministry of the Protestant Episcopal Church, he gave his father a shock of surprise such as he could have given him in no other way.

Dr. Polk gives a deeply interesting narrative of the incidents which attended his father's conversion. It came about through the influence of a new chaplain at West Point, McIlvaine, later the eloquent bishop of Ohio. The professors and cadets who had idled their way as best they could through sermon-time in other days listened with open-eyed interest to a preacher who had a message, and who knew how to delivor it. Polk—tall, handsome, a soldier by heredity not less than by education—was the first to yield. When he knelt for the first time in chapel to take a courageous part in the service, his act was the beginning of what seemed almost like a religious revolution at the post. Other young men followed his example, and in nearly every case they were prompted by his zeal. Dr. Polk suggested that his father had been skeptical in early youth, but there seemed to have been no doubts of a stubborn sort. What happened was that the soldierly instincts and training of the young cadet were turned to a new purpose. He realized in himself the favorite figure of speech about the soldier of the cross. He troubled himself little about difficult questions. What he looked for from the time when he decided to enter the ministry was orders. At the Theological Seminary in Alexandria he gained only a smattering of Greek and Hebrew, little insight into speculative problems, and no philosophy.

His health soon broke down in the ministry. An interval of foreign

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