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PAGE 2

Savonarola
by [?]

But there came a day when the boy and the girl ceased to walk hand in hand, and instead of the delight and abandon of childhood there was hesitation and aloofness.

When the parents of the girl forbade her playing with the boy, reminding her of the difference in their station, and she came by stealth to bid the old man and her playmate Girolamo good-by, the pride in the boy’s heart flamed up: he clenched his fist–and feeling spent itself in tears.

When he looked up the girl was gone–they were never to meet again.

The grief of the boy pierced the heart of the old man, and he murmured, “Joy liveth yet for a day, but the sorrow of man abideth forever.”

Doubt and fear assailed the lad.

The efforts of his grandfather to interest him in the study of his own profession of medicine failed. Religious brooding filled his days, and he became pale and weak from fasting.

He had grown in stature, but the gauntness of his face made his coarse features stand out so, that he was almost repulsive. But this homeliness was relieved by the big, lustrous, brown eyes–eyes that challenged and beseeched in turn.

The youth was now a young man–eighteen summers lay behind–when he disappeared from home.

Soon came a letter from Bologna in which Girolamo explained at length to his mother that the world’s wickedness was to him intolerable, its ambition ashes, and its hopes not worth striving for. He had entered the monastery of Saint Dominico, and to save his family the pain of parting he had stolen quietly away. “I have harkened to the Voice,” he said.

* * * * *

Savonarola remained in the monastery at Bologna for six years, scarcely passing beyond its walls. These were years of ceaseless study, writing, meditation–work. He sought the most menial occupations–doing tasks that others cautiously evaded. His simplicity, earnestness and austerity won the love and admiration of the monks, and they sought to make life more congenial to him, by advancing him to the office of teacher to the novitiates.

He declared his unfitness to teach, and it was an imperative order, and not a suggestion, that forced him to forsake the business of scrubbing corridors on hands and knees, and array himself in the white robe of a teacher and reader.

The office of teacher and that of orator are not far apart–it is all a matter of expression. The first requisite in expression is animation–you must feel in order to impart feeling. No drowsy, lazy, disinterested, half-hearted, preoccupied, selfish, trifling person can teach–to teach you must have life, and life in abundance. You must have abandon–you must project yourself, and inundate the room with your presence. To infuse life, and a desire to remember, to know, to become, into a class of a dozen pupils, is to reveal the power of an orator. If you can fire the minds of a few with your own spirit, you can, probably, also fuse and weld a thousand in the same way.

Savonarola taught his little class of novitiates, and soon the older monks dropped in to hear the discourse. A larger room was necessary, and in a short time the semi-weekly informal talk resolved itself into a lecture, and every seat was occupied when it was known that Brother Girolamo would speak.

This success suggested to the Prior that Savonarola be sent out to preach in the churches round about, and it was so done.

But outside the monastery Savonarola was not a success: he was precise, exact, and labored to make himself understood–freedom had not yet come to him.

But let us wait!

One of America’s greatest preachers was well past forty before he evolved abandon, swung himself clear, and put out for open sea. Uncertainty and anxiety are death to oratory.