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Thomas Wentworth Higginson, Book and heart: essays on literature and life, Chapter 22: more mingled races (search)
by the aspect of the latest arrivals are apt to forget the looks of some that preceded them. Those early squalid crowds have simply vanished in their descendants. Who that sees the vast and well-dressed congregations that come and go to our Roman Catholic churches can recall the advance-guard of the Irish immigration as it came among us sixty years ago-poor Paddy, whose country is his wheelbarrow, as Emerson says, whose first act on arrival was to dig himself an earthen shanty, and live in it? Who that sees the equally prosperous French Canadian congregations pouring out of the great Roman Catholic churches of Fall River, Massachusetts, or Woonsocket, Rhode Island, can recall the Canadian families that used to cross the frontier forty or fifty years ago — a man, a woman, twelve children, and a large bundle? Each of those early migrations was a step in progress; as De Tocqueville pointed out in his day, a log hut in America was not a home, but a halting-place on the way to somethin
Thomas Wentworth Higginson, Book and heart: essays on literature and life, Chapter 35: living by the church (search)
ded me of De Goncourt's saying, After all, every political discussion comes back to this: I am better than you (Je suis meilleur que vous). It is much the same with the comparison of religions. For myself, I never should be led to become a Roman Catholic, as many are led, by the dignity and beauty of the ritual; because even that is tame and dull compared with the impressiveness of the Greek Church, even as one sees it in Paris, with its stately, melodious, black-bearded priests, its pewless onscious juggling with our own minds. I invariably find that the ablest of the younger converts from the Roman Catholic Church--who are numerous, as are the converts in the other direction — give this as the essential ground of their change. And I also find that the very able Roman Catholic newspaper which I read every week, while prompt to answer — and usually with success-all the superficial arguments against the church, keeps absolutely silent as to this vital and final obstacle. 18