« VorigeDoorgaan »
Lord Iona were once attached, Lord Eaglescairn felt that to her he could and would confess all. Whether his son became Protestant or not, seemed to the father of little moment, when Lord Iona's mind had been so lately verging to the gulf of infidelity, and when that of Lord Eaglescairn himself was so bewildered with legends, and so startled by the undisguised wickedness of his own confessor, that it was only by a reign of terror Father Eustace still kept over his victim, almost to a dying hour, the iron rule of superstitious awe.
The Popish love of processions is one of those ruling passions strongest even at death ; and now, by Father Eustace's commands, the earthly greatness of Lord Eaglescairn would have been most magnificently heralded to the tomb, had not Lord Iona imperatively forbidden any pompous rites. The emblazoned escutcheons, the sable mutes, the chanting priests, the massy gilt crucifixes, the plumed and stately hearse, and all the solemn splendour of superstitious pride were suppressed : surrounded only by relatives and domestics, and the ceremony consecrated by prayer, and by the silent tears of a dutiful son, within his own private chapel the body of Lord Eaglescairn was restored to its kindred dust, and left to moulder undisturbed in the grave.
“ Shun the insidious arts
“Of Charity, what kin are you to me?
THOSE heathens who believe in a transmigration of souls maintain, that after death, men unfit for heaven are born over and over again in a ceaseless succession of probationary lives, till they become perfect; but the Christian is conscious that at death the character of each mortal becomes finally stereotyped for eternity. Presumptuous sinners are forbid either for good or evil to pass a final judgment on each other, and it is not by the vote of mere fallible human beings that the place of any one hereafter shall be decided; yet those who had known the Bishop of Inverness, felt confident that no man could have left this world with a clearer conscience or a humbler hope of pardon in the life to come ; for in him they had witnessed the persevering dedication of all his great energy to the best interests of others. Thus, if a man of sinful human nature could deserve to be canonized, his claim might have been sanctioned by those who knew him; but, all that the enlightened Christians he left behind could hope was, that he departed a
forgiven sinner, and they rejoiced to believe that he was not now committed to the dungeon-keep of a miserable purgatory, to be bought out only by expensive masses, or by the suppositious interference of imaginary saints. No! prayer could be of no more avail to his departed soul now than moonlight on his grave. The curtain of death had fallen alike over the virtues of Bishop Herbert, and over Lord Eaglescairn's crimes.
“How heartless and wretched I used always to consider the doctrine of purgatory !” observed Sir Allan in conversation with Lady Anne. “But every doctrine of that Church, which we both so narrowly escaped joining, is subversive to all iucional happiness in this life, or cheerful hope in a better."
Whenever Sir Allan caught a glimpse of Lady Anne's black draperies among the flowers, he hurried out to join her in the garden, where happiness itself seemed scarcely happy compared with the delight their emancipated minds enjoyed together. It cannot therefore be doubted that Sir Allan's time was most agreeably spent among all the refined, benevolent and devotional occupations of Heatherbrae.
" Hail, sweet society! in crowds unknown,
It has been often observed that a disappointment in love is apt to make a man of quick sensibilities turn his affections to where he believes they will
be more highly estimated, and that the heart sometimes makes a cannon at the rebound, so that the more severe the stroke, the more certainly it goes off at an angle in search of a gentler reception elsewhere. Sir Allan had long perceived that his influence over the affections of Beatrice was at an end; but his pliant nature soon found consolatio: from the gay vivacity with which Lady Anne welcomed his attentions, and all the hoarded teilderness of his nature became now devoted to her lively fascinations. Between them there had arisen an increased confidence, while often comparing notes on their own wonderful escape from the snares of Romanism, and on the doctrines they had both now abjured.
“ That imaginary purgatory is the chief source of revenue to all Popish priests,” observed Sir Allan. “My uncle, Father Ambrose, made me, on his buy-and-sell system of religion, pay 5,0001. for masses on behalf of my father's departed spirit, and more than double for Sir Evan's.”
“I remember an instance of that,” replied Lady Anne. “I once in the city of Antwerp wandered up an ascent rising at an angle of about twentyfive degrees, and on each side of the path were portraits and images of saints in perpetual succession. At the summit stood an ill-painted picture, about ten feet high, of our Divine Lord and Saviour, stretched upon the cross. A red wire to represent a stream of blood was made to pierce the canvas, and a cup was held below hy the Virgin Marv. Underneath this scene was a representation of
purgatory. I observed there twelve or fourteen heads cut out in oak, which were surrounded by flames that rose in every direction. Over that a text very much misquoted and perverted from Isaiah, was placed, and a box below, of course, to receive money from the terrified spectators on behalf of the artful Romish priests."
“Lady Anne," said Sir Allan with emotion, no two persons in the wide world have more experience of their machinations than we two. They would have extinguished for us the many sources of happiness with which a liberal Providence has wisely gifted us, but we must disappoint their plans. Let this day be to us the first dawning of a happy futurity. Let me not deny that I do seem somewhat like the man in the moon, who changes every month, and that both in love and religion I have been unsteady. A crushed and blasted heart, such as mine, fickle hitherto as a summer breeze, would be a very inadequate offering to one like you, who should be loved at once and for ever; yet, might we not still save something from the wreck of our youth and hopes? I never
can feel such rapture or such wretchedness as in former days; but might we not yet live for each other, and be happy in the calm sunshine which remains, enjoying a wiser and holier felicity than we ever before promised ourselves?"
Lady Anne listened, smiled, blushed, and let her long eye-lashes droop over her downcast eyes, but she could make no answer, though a torrent