LIFE AMONG THE LOWLY 397
and I confess that the apathy of religious people on this subject, their want of perception of wrongs that rilled me with horror, have engendered in me more skepticism than any other thing."
" If you knew all this," said Miss Ophelia, " why did n't you do it ? "
" Oh, because I have had only that kind of benevolence which consists in lying on a sofa, and cursing the church and clergy for not being martyrs and confessors. One can see, you know, very easily, how others ought to be martyrs."
" Well, are you going to do differently now ? " said Miss Ophelia.
" God only knows the future," said St. Clare. " I am braver than I was, because I have lost all; and he who has nothing to lose can afford all risks."
" And what are you going to do ? "
" My duty, I hope, to the poor and lowly, as fast as I find it out," said St. Clare, " beginning with my own servants, for whom I have yet done nothing, and, perhaps, at some future day, it may appear that I can do something for a whole class; something to save my country from the disgrace of that false position in which she now stands before all civilized nations."
" Do you suppose it possible that a nation ever will voluntarily emancipate ? " said Miss Ophelia.
" I don't know," said St. Clare. " This is a day of great deeds. Heroism and disinterestedness are rising up, here and there, in the earth. The Hungarian nobles set free millions of serfs, at an immense pecuniary loss ; and, perhaps, among us may be found generous spirits, who do not estimate honor and justice by dollars and cents."
" I hardly think so," said Miss Ophelia.
" But, suppose we should rise up to-morrow and emancipate, who would educate these millions, and teach them how to use their freedom ? They never would rise to do much among us. The fact is, we are too lazy and unprac-