OUR LADY OF SALETTE. [From the Times.]
New Zealand Spectator and Cook's Strait Guardian, Volume IX, Issue 908, 15 April 1854, Page 4
OUR LADY OF S ALETTE. [From the Times.]
Considerable light has been let in upon the shrine of " Our Lady of Salette" since we first had occasion to remark upon it. In the coune of last week we printed a letter from a correspondent who wrote to us from Grenoble, and who is therefore in a position to know something more about this mystery than persons at a distance from the scene of action. In substance his statement amounted to this ; — Of all men who have profited by the miracle, the man who has derived iroro it the largest share of temporal advantage is a certain innkeeper dwelling upon the spot. The well to which such marvellous properties ESVe been attributed is actually his own, and from the sale of its waters he is deriving a revenue proportionate to the credulity of the faithful, in the same manner that the mineral wells bring in a large income to the Duke of Nassau. The ligaro of Grenoble has, in point of fact, converted himself into a dealer in spirituous Seltzer, to his own no small advantage. Boundless virtues are attributed to this well, which has been rendered holy by the direct presence of the Virgin, and, as a quack medicine, its waters bid fair to outdo Holloway's ointment or Parr's Life Pill. It possesses among other sovereign virtues, a specific effect in cases of bad eyes, and so all persons who are afflicted with any kind of- eye disease, and are at the same time credulously disposed, fly for relief to the Salette waters, just as. persons have flown in all ages to the shop of any ingenious knave
who was clever enough and bold enough to' hold'' forth promises of unconditional relief to 1 the infirmities of suffering h nmaniiy. This, however, -is not all. Mine host not only drites a flourishing^ business in the export trade of the Holy Eyewater of " Our Lady of Salette," but the well has become the common resort of pilgrims and devout persons. Now, however devout a pilgtna j may be, he must occasionally take a snack of one kind or another, and whenever hunger seizes upon • the votaries of the well of La Salette, a conve-nient caravanserai is at hand in which weary tra-vellers may dine cL la carte, and no doubt much lo the innkeepei's profit. We should be glad to find among all the letters which are addressed to> us on the subject of hotel charges one from La- Salette — what is the price of a bed, of a dinner at the table d'hdte, how much is paid for service, how much for an omelette aux fines herbes, #c. However this may be, it is perfectly clear that it is thelandlord of this inn who, in his double character of landlord and exporter of holy water, has profited most largely by the transaction. If we might' venture to suppose that there had been a special interposition from on high for the advancement of his fortunes, no doubt the apparition has answered the purpose. A substantial inn has beenerected in place of the hovel in which the landlord formerly ministered to the comforts of hungry- Frenchmen, and no doubt, if things go smoothly with the arch-confraternity, the astute miraclemonger will soon be able to retire from business,, and sent up as a rentier, that last aim of ambition to ordinary Frenchmen. But — and here comes the doubt — a story ha* got about in the neighbourhood that the miracle is no miracle at all. It is said that it was novirgin who appeared to the two wretched children, but a flesh and blood impostor. The suggestion was the most natural one that could be made, and we must take leave to say, without claiming any credit for inordinate sagacity, that we offered it long since when this imposture was first spoken of. It is obvious enough that the difficulty of deceiving a couple of ignorant peasant children of the most tender years as to the reality of an apparition would be slight indeed. We would venture to say that any twa English children of 10 and 8 years, or even of a higher age, who bad " not been carefully nurtured in scepticism on the subject of Bogey and the Old Cmderman, might at any time be cheated into the belief of a supernatural appearance at the expense of a little phosphorus and spangles. How much more is this the case with the French peasant child of Dauphiny, who inhales superstition at every breath, and imbibes it at every pore — whose dreams are* of tinsel-crowned Madonnas, and whose ears are filled with legends to the effect that St. Hippolytein glory was seen only last year to ride a cow round the meadow of Jean Marie Bontemps, in the neighbouring hamlet of Domremi ? Frencb children of the present class believe in sucb things, as a German child believes in a Christmas tree, or an English child in a Noah's ark. W& should be much- more ready to acquiesce id the suggestion that the childnen were daped themselves than that they were- parties to the conspiracy. Upon no other supposition could we imagine that they should have sustained the fire of even the friendly cross-examination to which they were subjected. It was much easier to deceive - the children than the examiners. Then, withregard to the examiners, it is but proper to add> that the idle tale was for same time treated^by ? the conn ttf^JlfopTe of thfr ifS/ghboarrtood whrrth> .contempt it deserved, until the late Bishop o£ ; Grenoble, an old man- well nigh, if not entirely* ■in his dotage, took it up, and lent the weight of the episcopal name to the ridiculous imposture- When the present Bishop was elected to the see, our correspondent adds, he was compelled toadopt the legend as an encumbrance which rar* with the preferment. No Salette Eye-water nobishoprrc— and the present Bishop shut his eyes, md did as other men in so thorny a position bavedone before him. At Grenoble it is now pub; licly asserted that the police are or> the track of i the woman who played the part of the Virgin on [ the momentous occasion in question,, but we con■ fess we much doubt whether anything serious ! will be brought before the public by that machii nery. It is far more probable that all the weight of Government action will be thrown into the j scale. Louis Napoleon is too deeply implicated i with the parti -prdtre to run the risk of covering them with shame and confusion by any inconvenient disclosures. Much more likely is it that the wretched creature wrll be quietly removed tosome place where there will be an end of her testimony, and so " Our Lady of Salette" will be as. firmly maintained on hex pedestal as any other Saint in the Roman caleadar. After what we have written, will it be believed that in the nineteenth century, at a period whenmen know how to make trigonometrical surveys, and can run steam carriages along railways, and can communicate with- distant cities in less than a moment of time — when by the exercise of their thought and reason they have been permitted totame the twful agencies of nature, and subduethem to their service, a cock-and-bull story such •s this has been credited — ay, even here in Englan — jo a country which lays claim to a high, if not the highest place, in the vtnward of civilization ? No later than yesterday wejprinted_aje>ter from o wretched creature who, to the shameof the locality, dates his letter from Stratfordupon-Avon, and asks subscriptions for we knownot what purposes connected with this impudent imposture. We believe a chapel is to be built, and masses are to be sung, and human sins are to be pardoned, if the transgressors will only have faith in the merits, of " Our Lady of La SaletteV" We have lived to see many strange things in the way of theological development. There was Joe Smith of Nauvoo ; but he was a keen sighted fellow, with a sharp eye to business, and whosoever enlisted under his banner was tolerably well secure of temporal comforts here below. Then we have the present movement in China— but that occurs in China, and not in Europe. The Impostor Prince and bis Agapemone, in which salvation was to be obtained by playing at hockey, offer, perhaps, the nearest parallel to ibis case of the Eye^waier of La Salette - r but then- Prince has only his two dozen votaries, while the farceof La Salette has been adopted by the Pope, and henceforth remains obligatory as a point of faith with the whole Koinan Cathoiic world.