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“On her hard pillow—there, alas ! to be
Nothing is more consolatory to Christian observers of life, than to perceive how very large is the proportion of happiness God bestows upon all the creatures to whom He has given existence. No greater mistake can be made in the character and intentions of that Creator whose invited guests men are upon earth, than to turn from his glorious gifts of cheerful health, wholesome food, domestic affection, and intellectual enjoyment, with abject fear and voluntary wretchedness, despising the feast that might be innocently enjoyed, for the mere garbage of self-inflicted torments, suffered in obvious opposition to the gracious intention of a liberal and most merciful Benefactor.
The newly-found parent of Beatrice, having lived during twenty years struggling for the extinction of every earthly attachment, seemed to have most perfectly succeeded at last, as the mother and daughter had but one short interview every day in the presence of Father Eustace, to whom
only the recluse ever spoke, while the priest interpreted the little she said, and suppressed most of it, according to his own extremely strict notions of secrecy and discretion.
There lurked a strange look of vacant fatuity in the eye of that solitary devotee, which never seemed to gleam with any aspect of intelligence except when a look of almost childish pleasure was excited, if she gazed at her collection of relics, rosaries, medals, and images. She had also a multitudinous picture-gallery, portraits of various saints, many of which were believed, on the authentic testimony of Father Eustace, to nod, wink, and bleed, when for special occasions required so to exhibit their powers.
There are no colours, in reality, so bright as those of hope, and many a glowing picture had Beatrice in former days sanguinely drawn, according to her own Protestant views, of what a restoration might be to the affections of a long-lost parent. In such a case the blessing of a kind Providence should have been recognised in those sacred ties of earthly attachment which God has himself implanted, to which He promises his special care, and by which He illustrates his own immeasurable love to the children He has created. Beatrice had often in her day-dreams imagined the fond embrace of leer own mother, the tears of joy with which they might meet, the kind eye beaming upon her, and the gentle tone of maternal affection. Here, on the contrary, in the newly-arrived visitor, was that unnatural extinction of the most innocent and commendable feelings which is inculcated as the perfection of
Popish devotion ; and when Beatrice gazed wonderingly at the cold automaton before her, contrasted with the warm glow of maternal affection she was accustomed to from Lady Edith, she felt stronger than ever in her conviction, that the true end of Christianity is to elevate but not to extinguish the best sensibilities of man. In looking, too, at the little toy-shop of relics and images to which the whole soul of this melancholy recluse seemed devoted, she felt confirmed, beyond all doubt, in her belief, that the invisible soul is created to worship an invisible God, and that the moment men require a tangible object to excite feelings of adoration, they have become idolaters.
“ A gilt cross on the Bible,” said Beatrice one day, in answer to a remark of Lord Iona's, " is the first step towards a wooden image in the closet. As Lady Edith says, a craving once begun for pictures, processions, crosses, and relics, the barrier is broken down that divides a spiritual from a material worship, and the roads diverge more and more every day, till the whole path to Rome is traversed.”
“ Yes! ending, like Sir Allan and Lady Anne, with the cowl and the veil,” replied Lord Iona, in a passionately impetuous voice. My poor cousin Anne leaves her own home and her mother's society to avoid some dangers, while she rushes into others far greater. She will learn to say the Latin prayers backwards, while she will learn also to reverse her whole ideas of right and wrong; but Anne seems urged on by Miss Turton's example to take the
irrevocable step. I cannot but wonder that any free-born English girl is not suspicious of entering a condition in which she shall be safely kept under lock and key. If nuns never repent, why bar the door at all? Poor Anne! many a sad note she will sing in her dreary cage
• There goes our pet nun; Would but her saintship leave her gold behind, They'd give her furlough !!”
“ I have heard Papists compare a nun entering a convent to a soldier enlisting into a regiment," observed Beatrice; “but the soldier looks forward to regaining his liberty at last, and he generally enlists in a delirium of intoxication, not knowing, any more than a novice, what he pledges himself to when enlisted."
“Poor Miss Turton seems delirious enough for the most forlorn hope," said Lord Iona. “ Twelve stone weight of superstition kneeling before a three inch wooden saint! Her whole faith is fanaticism, and she professes to be careless alike of encountering pleasure or pain herself, and of causing happiness or sorrow to others."
“ True!” said Miss Turton, who had been listening unobserved, and who now spoke in an excited tone, much more of affectation than of enthusiasm; "I glory in all you say! I have divested myself of myself. I do not desire health more than sickness, riches more than poverty, honour more than ignominy, a long life more than a short one, or pleasure more than pain. I dread, in short,
everything that in the smallest degree links me to this tiresome world."
Yet, while we stay here, have we not indispensable duties ? It is not the best soldier who deserts his appointed post, Miss Turton!” replied Lord Iona, in a tone of vigorous vivacity, always natural to him. 66 Two recruits are enlisted into a regiment for active service under the same capain. The one immediately shuts himself up in a sentry-box, where he makes war upon his own body, cutting, maiming, scourging, and starving himself till he dies in the dark, worn out by his own self-inflicted cruelties. The other, following the footsteps of his brave captain, fights in many a hardfought field under the great leader to whom he looks for discipline and direction. He keeps the rank and position assigned to him, takes whatever "food or sleep will strengthen him best for every enterprise in his master's service, and when wounded, it is not by his own hand, but by the enemies of his commander. He bravely dies at last. With many an honourable scar, and having attained a good old age, he thankfully resigns his commission into the hands of his leader, willing, when he could no longer serve, to rest, and trusting to be received with that joyful sentence at last, "Well done, thou good and faithful servant.'
Now tell me, Miss Turton, which of those two soldiers serves his master best?"
“You are too argumentative for me, Lord Iona," replied she, looking nevertheless very belligerent.
My religion is one of feeling, but as to thinking,