Recollections of My Life and Reflections on Times and Events During It: A Memoir by Father W. J. Howlett

Page 69

I had the high altar of the church on New Year's day and the finest set of Gothic vestments I ever saw. Father Hilpisch said mass on a small altar nearer the middle of the church, and by this subterfuge my mass was considered a private mass and thus escaped an arrest for violation of the law.


          Toward the end of winter I received a letter from Bishop Machebeuf of Denver recalling me home, and as he seemed to make the call urgent, an important part of my plan was defeated. I had intended to visit Rome and to pass through Ireland on my way to America, but now this was impossible and must be postponed to some future time which, I regret to say, has never come. It has always been a disappointment to me, but I have never felt that I could take the time and incur the expense of an extended trip, such as that would be for me, and the years slipped by until nearly all those whom I would care to visit had gone beyond the boundaries of sight and association. It is true that in a sense there is sadness in the saying: “It might have been!”

          In Colorado there was a good young German priest within the limits of whose mission my mother and brothers lived. This was Father Vincent Reitmeyer, and his parents lived at Augsburg in Bavaria. He had advised them of my presence in Wuertzburg and I received from them a very cordial invitation to pay them a visit. Here was my chance, so I left Wuertzburg to return to Paris by the way of Augsburg, Munich and a ride through the Alps of Switzerland.

          It was a gloomy day in a rainy season that I left Wuertzburg. I myself was not overglad, for the love of Germany and the German people was growing upon me more than had that of France and the French, but this may have been because I was living more among them and got better acquainted with them, and the feeling still persists. As the train sped along and the scenery rushed by the thought of an old song came to me:

“Do you recall that night in June,

Upon the Danube River--

We listened to the Laehdler's tune

And watched the moonbeams quiver?”

          Well, it was not a night in June; there was no moon for it was raining; the Blue Danube was not blue, although I may have been; darkness was spreading over the water, but I could see their yellow flood, swollen by recent rains, surging noisily along under the great iron bridge as the train passed over it at Donauwerth. Poetry, and romance had gone, and the Danube became for me just an ordinary river, stirring me less than my first sight of the Ohio, the Mississippi, the Columbia, the Potomac, and as disappointing as the Suanee in the Florida lowlands.

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