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Earl Hubert's Daughter The Polishing of the Pearl - A Tale of the 13th Century   By: (1836-1893)

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Earl Hubert's Daughter, by Emily Sarah Holt.

This is one of Emily Holt's admirable and deeply researched historical novels, this time set in the early years of the thirteenth century. The main players in the story appear at first sight to be the upper class ladies of the Court, and their various somewhat confusing relationships.

But early in the book an old Jewish pedlar comes and displays rich wares of a surprising value and variety. One of the girls asks if he can get some special embroidery done on a scarf she wants to give as a present. Abraham sends in his young daughter Belasez and conditions are agreed such that she will not be called upon to do or eat anything she should not, and all this seems to work very well. But the story involving Belasez, her mother Licorice, and her brother Delecresse, gets more and more involved and interesting. Belasez realises that there has been something in the past that she wants to unearth, and gradually the whole strange story is revealed.



The thirteenth century was one of rapid and terrible incidents, tumultuous politics, and in religious matters of low and degrading superstition. Transubstantiation had just been formally adopted as a dogma of the Church, accompanied as it always is by sacramental confession, and quickly followed by the elevation of the host and the invention of the pix. Various Orders of monks were flocking into England. The Pope was doing his best, aided by the Roman clergy, and to their shame be it said, by some of the English, to fix his iron yoke on the neck of the Church of England. The doctrine of human merit was at its highest pitch; the doctrine of justification by faith was absolutely unknown .

Amid this thick darkness, a very small number of true hearted, Heaven taught men bore aloft the torch of truth that is, of so much truth as they knew. One of such men as these I have sketched in Father Bruno. And if, possibly, the portrait is slightly over charged for the date, if he be represented as a shade more enlightened than at that time he could well be I trust that the anachronism will be pardoned for the sake of those eternal verities which would otherwise have been left wanting.

There is one fact in ecclesiastical history which should never be forgotten, and this is, that in all ages, within the visible corporate body which men call the Church, God has had a Church of His own, true, living, and faithful. He has ever reserved to Himself that typical seven thousand in Israel, of whom all the knees have not bowed unto Baal, and every mouth hath not kissed him.

Such men as these have been termed "Protestants before the Reformation." The only reason why they were not Protestants, was because there was as yet no Protestantism. The heavenly call to "come out of her" had not yet been heard. These men were to be found in all stations and callings; on the throne as in Alfred the Great, Saint Louis, and Henry the Sixth; in the hierarchy as in Anselm, Bradwardine, and Grosteste; in the cloister as in Bernard de Morlaix; but perhaps most frequently in that rank and file of whom the world never hears, and of some of whom, however low their place in it, the world is not worthy.

These men often made terrible blunders as Saint Louis did when he persecuted the Jews, under the delusion that he was thus doing honour to the Lord whom they had rejected: and Bernard de Morlaix, when he led a crusade against the Albigenses, of whom he had heard only slanderous reports. Do we make no blunders, that we should be in haste to judge them? How much more has been given to us than to them! How much more, then, will be required?



"He was a true man, this who lived for England, And he knew how to die."

"Sweet? There are many sweet things... Continue reading book >>

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