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had been about three months at the convent, and gave the new comers much information, concerning the discipline and habits of the society in which they were now to move.
They again met the nuns at supper, when the reading was resumed; and they were then obliged to kneel, during the recitation of a long string of prayers, similar to those they had been in the habit of hearing at Madame d'Elfort's. The sleeping apartments of the boarders, who were seventeen in number, occupied one side of the square which composed the convent, and were directly over the lower apartments appropriated to the school. They ran along a corridor of considerable length, separated from the other side of the building by a door of massive strength. The two elder nuns slept one at each end of this corridor, in small cells similar to those of the other religieuses, and furnished only with a hard mattress, a chair, and a small table, on which were placed a crucifix and an hour-glass.
Emily's rest was disturbed several times during the night, by hearing the nuns going to, and returning from, their nocturnal services, in the chapel. Her reflections were painful, and tended greatly to depress her mind; but on rising in the morning, she and Lydia. after earnest prayer, arranged a plan of affectionate surveillance over Caroline, Henrietta, and Julia.
They now commenced their studies in regular order, though the three elder cousins were only a few hours each day in the school-room. Emily and Lydia were delighted to find that they were to be under the tuition of sister Constance for Italian, music, and embroidery, as it would give them frequent opportunities of conversing with this interesting nun, whose appearance and manners had made so pleasing an impression on their minds; and they were not disappointed in the hopes they had entertained respecting her character. She became every day more endearing to their hearts, and seemed to return their attachment with answering affection. There was much in her that reminded Emily of her beloved friend, Rose; and the deep fervor of her religious feelings was evidently heightened by the consciousness that, for her, the things of time would soon pass away, and give place to the solemn, the momentous realities of eternity. Emily felt for her a sympathy and tenderness she could not express; and often would a sigh escape her, as she thought of the darkness and error that shrouded a mind, which seemed panting for the glorious light and liberty of the gospel.
They saw little of the other nuns, although they constantly dined and supped with them in the refectory. Their hours of recreation were different, and they, therefore, never met them in the garden at that time; but they could see them from their bed-room windows, and Emily, Caroline, and Lydia, were indulged by the supérieure with permission to join them sometimes in their garden
walks. Of this privilege Caroline always availed herself to converse with her friend Sophie; but Emily and Lydia, having but little knowledge of any one there, seldom entered the garden at that time. They sometimes met with one or two of the nuns in the corridors, gliding along with a swiftness and silence, that gave a peculiar air of mystery and romance to the rencontre; but farther than these occasional meetings, their acquaintance did not extend; and they knew as little of what passed in the house, beyond the immediate precincts of the school department, as if they had resided in a totally different building. They could not help noticing, sometimes, that one or other of the nuns was absent from the public meals, and that, perhaps, for several days; and they conjectured that some penance imposed, or punishment inflicted, might be the cause of their seclusion. They frequently saw them kneeling for hours together in the chapel, and knew that they were sometimes obliged to remain there the whole night; but what the faults were, for which they were thus required to atone, or what were the internal management and economy of the convent, they were totally ignorant. A thousand acts of oppression, of tyranny, and even cruelty, might have been perpetrated within those walls, without being known to any, but their actors and their victims. The dungeons might have been filled with miserable captives, and the unhappy objects of persecution dragged to the most horrible fate, without one groan of suffering, or one shriek of terror, penetrating the solid walls and ponderous doors of this immense building. Emily shuddered, as she thought of this, and prayed that her cousins might be preserved from the delusions of a system, which gloried in annihilating the strongest ties of nature, and profaned the sacred name of religion, by associating it with cruelty and oppression.
To the law and to the testimony; if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them-ISAIAH. viii. 20.
THE Cousins had stipulated, before they entered the convent, that they should be allowed to attend the Protestant chapel every Sunday morning. This had not been granted without difficulty, as
the boarders at St. Anne's were required to join in the services of the convent chapel. But Emily and Lydia were firm in their resolution, and the point was, at length, conceded, with the understanding that Mrs. Fortescue, or Mrs. Brownlow, should always be their companions. The last-named lady expressed great surprise at this permission, and considerable doubt as to its being continued; and Clara Somers informed Lydia that she, and several other young ladies, had been promised, on their first coming, the liberty of going to see some friends every second Sunday, in order that they might attend the English chapel; but that this promise had since been withdrawn, and they had been compelled to join in the Roman Catholic service. Emily and Lydia felt some alarm at this intelligence; but they had, as yet, had no reason to distrust the word of the supérieure, and therefore only re solved to be doubly on their guard. Henrietta and Julia had, hitherto, been allowed to absent themselves from the daily mass in the chapel, and to decline joining in anything that was contrary to the principles in which they had been brought up, though all the other Protestant children were subject to the same rules as the Roman Catholics. How long this exemption might be continued, it was impossible to determine; but, for the present, no undue control was exercised over them.
The Sunday came, and they were allowed to go to chapel with Mrs. Brownlow. They saw Mrs. Fortescue for a few minutes, and she promised to visit them in the course of the week. They then returned to St. Anne's, and Emily availed herself of the afternoon to give some religious instruction to Henrietta and Julia. All the Protestants then assembled in the garden, and had a great deal of conversation, which Emily endeavored to direct to profitable subjects.
It was truly deplorable to witness the absolute influence which had been obtained over the minds of these little girls. Clara Somers was the only one who seemed dissatisfied with the yoke laid upon her. Two of the others were orphans, and the third an officer's daughter, whose parents had removed to another town. They were entirely under the spiritual control of the nuns and their confessor, and going through the regular routine of a Popish education.
Fanny and Mary Lowe, the orphans, were eight and nine years of age, and Ellen Wilton was about ten. Their extreme youth gave the most decided advantage to the priests and nuns; and certainly no pains were spared to improve it to the utmost. It was probably owing to her being somewhat older, and of a more independent character, that Clara Somers manifested less docility than they did. She was too old to be enticed with sweetmeats, pictures, and bon-bons; and having discovered that there was a scheme formed, of which was the object, her pride was alarm
ed, and her spirit roused to resistance. It could not be the result of principle, for the poor girl was entirely ignorant on the subject of religion, and could not give any reason for her aversion to Popery; but so providentially was this feeling overruled for her preservation, that while her young companions were conducted every morning to the confessor's room, while he was at breakfast, and there bribed, with presents and caresses, to listen to his in structions, and promise obedience to all his directions, neither threats nor promises could induce her to go further in compliance than was absolutely required by the rules of the school.
All this she told Emily and Lydia, and added, that the nuns were now earnestly engaged in preparing the three little ones for auricular confession, to which they were to be admitted in a few
They have done all they could," added Clara, "to persuade me to confess also; but I will never do it, though they have threatened to compel me. Papa is now travelling, but I expect him back shortly; and when I tell him of the way in which they have behaved, I am sure he will take me away immediately."
Emily and Lydia, of course, encouraged her in her resolutions, and endeavored to make it a matter of principle with her, by pointing out some of the most glaring errors of Popery, and showing her how utterly incompatible they were with the doctrines of Scripture. But, to their great surprise and sorrow, they found that poor Clara had not a Bible, and, indeed, scarcely knew what kind of a book it was!
Caroline was now a source of the greatest anxiety to her sister and cousin. They had tried in vain, since their arrival at the convent, to win her attention to what they earnestly wished her to engage in,-a candid examination of the points in dispute, by the unerring light of Scripture. But as soon as the subject was introduced, she always contrived to evade it; and when, at length, after some weeks' fruitless trial, Emily solemnly and affectionately entreated her to turn her attention to it, and to lay aside all evasion and subterfuge, she openly declared her determination not to enter into any discussion, adding, that she should consider it as a personal favor, not to be any longer importuned on the subject. Emily and Lydia, with a deep-drawn sigh, gave up the subject, but resolved to write a second time to Mr. Howard, and to urge upon him, with still greater earnestness and entreaty, the necessity of his exerting his authority to remove them from a sphere so imminently dangerous. They were still more anxious for the success of their application, from observing that Caroline was gradually adopting many customs inconsistent with a profession of Protestantism, and had sanctioned her younger sisters' being required to use the sign of the cross in the school-room, to attend mass in the morning, and conform to all the usages to which the
other boarders were subjected. Since Caroline had thus decided. Emily and Lydia could not interfere; but many were the tears they shed, fervent the prayers they offered up for Divine interposition, and urgent the entreaties they forwarded to Mr. Howard, that he would hasten to rescue his children from the perils which on every side surrounded them. No letters had been received from him since their return to S, and every succeeding day increased their uneasiness on his account, as well as their own.
In the mean time, Emily had to endure many violent attacks from Miss Smithson, the English teacher of drawing. That lady began by attempting to throw every species of ridicule on Protestantism and the Reformation, and to blacken the character of the Reformers.
"Where was your religion," she triumphantly inquired, "before the time of Henry the Eighth? And what was it which led him to forsake the true church? Only the criminal passion he entertained for Anna Boleyn, and the wish to rid himself of his unoffending wife, that he might be enabled to gratify it! A worthy motive, truly, for inventing a new religion! Surely, you have no reason to be proud of the origin of Protestantism, or the charac ter of its notorious founder."
Henry the Eighth was not the founder of Protestantism," replied Emily, "he was but the instrument of establishing what had existed many centuries before him. He was a wicked, cruel, unprincipled tyrant, without any sentiment of religion, or restraint of moral feeling. But the Protestant cause is not to be identified with him; a host of glorious witnesses had long before attested its truth, and many of them had sealed their testimony with their blood. I need not remind you of the venerable Wickliffe and his followers, or of the persecuted Vaudois and Albigenses; indeed, there have always been, since the introduction of Popery, some faithful Christians, who have protested against its errors. And when you speak of the bad motives of Henry, you should not forget that, if he was actuated by them, his people were not; nor were the multitudes in other countries, who embraced the reformed faith. They cannot be attributed to Luther, to Calvin, Melancthon, or to the noble army of martyrs,'-to Cranmer, Latimer, Ridley, and Bradford, and the blessed company of others, who loved not their lives unto the death,' but suffered the most cruel persecutions for the truth, and finally 'resisted unto blood." "Oh! pray," exclaimed Miss Smithson contemptuously, "do not bring forward your Reformers as authority; your Luther, Calvin, and company, were men of the very worst character, and most shameful conduct. I will lend you their lives to read, and also a history of the Reformation, which shows it in its true. light; and I am sure you will then be ashamed to acknowledge the men of whom you have now so high an opinion."