صور الصفحة
النشر الإلكتروني

most consternation now reigned among the English; but their hopes were somewhat revived by the entrance of Madame d'Arblay. To this indulgent lady Emily immediately represented the case, acknowledging the impropriety of Miss Leslie's conduct, but entreating her intercession, to avert the consequences of Madame d'Elfort's displeasure. Madame d'Arblay was, at first, extremely indignant; but at length she consented to speak to Mademoiselle St. André. She requested her silence on the subject, as a personal favor to herself, and, as the teacher could not resist this plea, she reluctantly promised to spare Miss Leslie, on condition that she should write twelve French verbs, as a punishment for her offence.

The thoughtlessness of Maria Leslie that very evening drew upon her a severe reprimand from Madame d'Elfort, for having left her Bible in the dining-room. That lady took occasion, from this circumstance, to inform her Protestant pupils, that. as several of the French young ladies were learning English, she should consider those guilty of a serious offence who should leave their English Bibles within reach of any of them. French Bibles being strictly prohibited in the house, she had no fear of their reading such.

But poor Maria's heedlessness was almost incorrigible. She was in possession of a copy of Miss Kennedy's beautiful tale, entitled "Father Clement." Of this book she was extremely fond, and so indeed were all the other English girls. It was a great favorite with every one, and Emily felt thankful that it had been introduced into the school; for she believed that its striking exposure of Popish errors had, under the divine blessing, greatly contributed to diminish their influence on the minds of her school-fellows. This cherished book had hitherto been guarded, with the most jealous care, from the prying curiosity of the French; but María carelessly left hers in the salon, and Mademoiselle Mornay seized it. It was conveyed to Madame d'Elfort, who did not think proper to make any public observations on the subject, but the book never re-appeared; and the other girls carefully locked up theirs for safety.

They were returning from a walk, a few days after this, when they met another party of the scholars, who had gone to church with Madame d'Elfort. To Emily's surprise, they passed each other without speaking, or the slightest mark of recognition. Emily was going to address Rose, who glided past her with her eyes bent on the ground, when her arm was forcibly pulled by Anna Lushington, who, at the same time, placed her hand on her lips. As soon as the two parties had thus silently passed each other, Anna exclaimed in a whisper,

"What could you be thinking of, Emily? You have been very near exposing yourself to a tremendous reprimand, and tempting

poor Rose to commit a great sin. Do you not see that they are performing stations?"

I don't know what you mean, Anna; pray explain yourself." "What! you don't know what stations are? Then I must tell you, that you may not commit the same blunder again. The young ladies are under a vow, or engagement, to repeat a certain number of prayers at every church in the town, and other places specified. These are called stations, and they are bound not to utter a single word between each. Now, then, you see the motive of their silence, and what a dreadful crime it would have been to interrupt it."

"I do ;-but, dear Anna, does not this remind you of the Pharisees, whom our Lord condemned, because they loved to pray standing in the synagogues, and in the corners of the streets, that they might be seen of men ?" "

Anna smiled at the question, without answering it, and with an expressive shrug of her graceful shoulders, fell back among ber companions.

They had now reached the public place, or square of the town, when suddenly a procession of priests appeared, carrying the host with its accustomed pomp. An immediate halt was made, and the teachers, with the few Roman Catholics in the party, instantly fell on their knees. The English remained standing behind them, and Emily suddenly felt her hand grasped by some one. It was little Eliza Kaimes, whose pale cheek, and trembling limbs, betrayed a state of great nervous agitation. "Oh! save me, save me, dear Miss Mortimer!" she whispered. "That tyrannical Miss Mornay has been trying to make me kneel. I happened to be near her, and she pulled my frock so hard, that she almost dragged me down on my knees. I was so frightened, that I could scarcely resist; but I determined not to be guilty of idolatry, and I have at last succeeded in forcibly breaking from her, and running to you for protection."

Emily pressed the child's hand, and bade her be silent while the procession passed. When it had disappeared, Eliza expressed her fears, that Mademoiselle Mornay would punish her for disobedience; but Emily reassured her, by the promise of pleading her cause with Madame d'Elfort, if such should be the case. Mademoiselle Mornay, however, knew full well that her superior would not sanction any arbitrary exercise of power, on such an occasion; and, having failed to enforce obedience by a coup de main, she wisely let the subject drop into oblivion.



One sinner destroyeth much good.-ECCLES. ix. 18.

THERE were now about twenty English girls in the school, and another addition was made to their number, in the person of a little girl, six years old, the daughter of a distressed English family for whom a contribution had been made among their country. men, some time before. The benevolent abbé Mery, who had already done much for them, now carried his generosity still farther, by taking on himself the care of this child, and placing her with Madame d'Elfort for her education.

As the protégée of a Roman Catholic priest, little Fanny Wilson was re-baptized in the cathedral (her former baptism being considered of no value whatever), and the name of Mary added to her own, in order to place her under the protection of the Virgin. She was, of course, immediately initiated into all the rites and observances of the Romish church, and made to learn its catechism, preparatory to her being introduced to auricular confession.

This catechism was regularly recited, and commented upon, once or twice every week, in the school-room; and, though the English girls were, of course, exempted from the necessity of learning it, yet care was taken that they should not lose the advantage of hearing all its doctrines. The time selected was in the afternoon, when all the pupils were seated at their needle-work, and when the silence in the school-room was so profound, that not one word was lost. The different questions and answers were explained with great care, and often enlarged upon, in a nanner which, it was supposed, must triumph over all objections, so that the Protestant pupils, from this constant repetition, gradually became almost as familiar with Popish doctrines as the Roman Catholics themselves, and many of them insensibly fell into the habit of considering them as true, and occasionally referring to them as undoubted authority. The pernicious effects of this artful snare were also increased by a short lecture, which was read in the school-room every evening, while the young ladies were eating the bread and butter which was brought them as a collation, instead of tea, as the French are not in the habit of taking that meal. The books chosen for this purpose were always the lives of Popish saints, with all their miracles and absurdities, or treatises on the tenets of their church, with exhortations to the performance of the works it enjoins.

It was something new, and by no means agreeable to our Eng

lish girls, to see one of their own country in the house, conforming, in every respect, to the rules of the Romish church. They pitied the poor little creature, who was thus given up as an offering to an antichristian faith, though they could not blame the venerable abbé whose adoption of her displayed at once his benevolence and his zeal.

A circumstance now occurred, which seemed likely to exercise no little influence on the affairs of the English pupils. This was the departure of Miss Parker, the English teacher. This lady had never taken any interest in the welfare of her young countrywomen, and, never having seemed to belong to them, was but little, if at all, regretted by any of them. But a lively feeling of anxiety was excited, by the expectation of her successor; and, when the new teacher appeared, all eyes were directed towards her. Miss Bradford's appearance and manners were not very prepossessing; but Madame d'Elfort congratulated her English pupils, on their having now a teacher who would herself conduct them to church, and attend to their spiritual interests. Many an inquiring glance was directed towards Miss Bradford, at these words; but she had not been many days in the house, ere it was but too evident, that her principles and conduct were not such, as would be likely to promote the spiritual welfare of the young people committed to her charge. She knew nothing of vital religion, and was even lamentably indifferent about its outward forms. Emily saw that her example would be even more injurious than that of Miss Parker, and she wept with painful apprehension, at the evils which thus seemed thickening around this little flock in the wilderness.

Mrs. Anderson, the respectable woman who had hitherto escorted them to church, was now dismissed, and Miss Bradford marshalled her charge for divine service, on the following Sunday morning. But, alas! there was no devotion, no seriousness, and very little decorum, visible in her demeanor. She sat with her back to the minister, and, instead of kneeling, or even reading the church-service, employed herself in observing and criticising the dress, appearance, and manners, of the congregation. This conduct, it may be easily imagined, had the most pernicious effect on that of several of the young ladies, more particularly the younger Mrs. Anderson had always been strict, in enforcing the utmost decency of behavior, and in this she had been greatly assisted by the example and influence of Emily and her friends; and so great had been the success which attended their endeavors, that the school had frequently been commended for the propriety of its conduct, by the minister and leading members of the congregation. But, alas! this beautiful picture was too soon reversed. The younger children now felt themselves authorized to be as inattentive as they pleased, and too many of the elder ones


indulged their natural inclinations, by imitating the example of their teacher. And to so deplorable a height did this growing evil rise, that novels were sometimes read in the church, and a silent intercourse carried on by looks and signs, with some thoughtless young men of the congregation. It was in vain that Emily, and her more serious companions, remonstrated with these giddy girls; Emily's influence was now completely superseded, by the authority and example of the teacher. She, at length, felt it her duty to entreat Miss Bradford's interference. That lady either felt, or affected, surprise at what was evidently the consequence of her own inattention. She certainly had no desire that matters should be carried so far, and she angrily reprimanded the culprits for their breach of decorum, positively declaring, that a repetition of such conduct should be reported to Madame d'Elfort. But, as she neither altered her own behavior, nor exercised more watchfulness over that of the others, the same evils continued to exist, though they were now accompanied with rather more caution.

Oh! how did the hearts of the serious little party mourn over this fearful change, which, like a desolating pestilence, had thus withered the moral beauty of their once promising garden! And these painful feelings were not less excited, by the melancholy change in their formerly delightful afternoon services. Emily had. as a matter of course, resigned the direction of these to Miss Bradford; and they were now carried on in a manner that was shocking to every serious and correct feeling. The evening prayers were indeed read, but with so little of even the appear ance of devotion, that they were finished in half the time they ought to have occupied. The New Testament was then read, but in so hasty and irreverent a manner, that five or six chapters were hurried over in a quarter of an hour; and then, to finish the hour appointed for their service, the Church Catechism was repeated, with the same revolting disregard to its importance. No more questions asked, or answers given on the solemn subjects connected with their reading; no more serious and interesting conversation, on the sacred truths of the gospel; no more of the sweet intercourse that made religion pleasant, or the beautiful hymns that threw a hallowed charm over those once happy meetings. Miss Bradford was an avowed enemy to everything serious; she reprobated it as hypocrisy, and ridiculed it under the hackneyed name of Methodism.

The link that bound the English together seemed now, in a great measure, broken; they were no longer like an affectionate sisterhood, endeared to each other by a community of feelings, interests, and pursuits. A few, indeed, still remained faithful to their principles, and among this number were (besides the cous ins) Helen Douglas, Louisa Selwyn, and Eliza Kaimes; nay,

« السابقةمتابعة »