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her knees before the image of the Virgin, covered her face with her hands, and appeared to be in silent but earnest supplication.
“ Marie," again said I, come here.” She rose, and came trembling to the foot of the bed. “To you, and to you alone, do I intrust a secret which, if discovered, would subject me to a painful and ignominious death. You were not deceived, when you started at the face beneath the nun's attire ; and you must now be certain, from the voice which you have heard, that I am indeed Francois. How I became the Lady Abbess of this convent you have yet to learn." I then narrated what I have already done to your Highness. “By what means, continued I, “I am to deliver myself from this dangerous situation, I know not; I have, however, one consolation in finding myself once more in company with the object of my love."
Come hither, Marie; it is indeed your own Francois.” Marie remained at the foot of the bed, but advanced not; and I perceived that the tears fell fast, as she cast her eyes to heaven.
“Speak to me, Marie, if ever you loved me." " That I loved you, Francois, you know full well: not even your unkind desertion could affect that love, which was unchangeable. I dared all for your sake; my brothers, my father, could not extort the secret from me, and their suspicions, although directed towards you, could never be confirmed. I bore the offspring of my guilt in solitary anguish, afterwards loaded with reproaches when I needed comfort and consolation, and stunned with imprecations when I required soothing and repose. I buried it with shame and sorrow and contumely. You had abandoned me, and I felt that all ties to this world were over. I took the veil, and never was the world quitted by so willing a votary as myself. I have since been peaceful, if not happy.”
“And now, Marie, you shall be happy," cried I, stretching out my arms to her. “ Come to me, I will explain my motives for leaving Marseilles, and what my future intentions were, if they had not been frustrated by unforeseen events. All shall yet be well.”
“ Francois, all is well. I have taken a solemn vow-it is registered in heaven. You have by fraud and imposition entered into a holy place, and assumed a holy character. Add not to your crime by even harbouring the idea of polluting it, and add not to my humiliation by supposing for a moment that I am capable of being a participator.”
“Holy Virgin,” cried she, falling on her knees, “ I demand thy powerful aid in this conflict of worldly passions and holy wishes. Oh! make me dead to all but thee, and to the spouse whom I have accepted at thy hands.”
She then rose and continued— How you will be able to leave this convent, Francois, I know not; but your secret is safe with me, provided that you do not again request my presence, as you have this night. My prayers shall ever be for you, but we must meet no more ;" and Marie waved her hand mournfully, and quitted the apartment.
Although I had always a great contempt for the Catholic religion, of which I at that period was a member, I was awed by the beauty of virtue as it appeared in Marie, and I passed the night in melancholy reflections. I felt more love for her than ever, and determined upon persuading her to quit the convent and become my wife. The next morning I sent for her.
“ Marie, you gave yourself to heaven, when you imagined that you had no tie upon earth. You were deceived; there was one whom you still loved, and who still adored you. Vows made in delusion are not registered. Leave this convent with me, become my wife, and you will do your duty better towards heaven, than by pining between these walls, which contain nothing but envy, hatred, and remorse.
“ Francois, you have had my answer. What has been done, cannot be undone. Save yourself, and leave me to my unhappy fate," answered Marie ; then burst
ing into tears, “O Francois, why, why did you leave me without one word. Had you pointed out your danger to me, I should have been the first to have insisted upon your absence, and all, all would have been borne with patience, if not with pleasure, for your sake. If what you now say is truth, all would have been well ; but now I have naught to cheer me in my lonely pilgrimage, and naught to wish but that it soon may come unto its close. I forgive you, Francois, but pity me, for I deserve your pity.”
Once more, Marie, I entreat you to consent to my proposal.” “Never, Francois ; I will not be less faithful to my God than I was to you : he will not desert me ; and if I suffer now, will reward me for it hereafter.” And Marie again quitted my apartment.
My situation in the nunnery now became insupportable, and I determined to escape. I pleaded ill health and kept my bed. The physician of a neighbouring convent, who had a great reputation, was sent for against my wishes.
When I heard of his arrival, I dressed to receive him, for I was fearful of some scrutiny. He inquired what ailed me: I answered that I had no pain, but that I was convinced I should soon depart. He felt my pulse, and not being able to discover symptoms of disease took his leave.
To the elder sisters who visited me, I spoke in enigmas, and told them that I had a summons, that they must expect soon to find me gone : and the sanctity of my reputation made them receive my inuendoes as inspired remarks. One night, I complained of being much worse, and requested their early departure: they would have sent for the physician, but I forbad it, telling them I was beyond a physician's cure: kissing them all and pronouncing over them a solemn blessing, I dismissed them. As soon as it was dark, I threw off my nun's attire, leaving it in my bed, as if I had slipped out of it; and, as the windows of my apartment, which looked into the convent garden, were not barred, unclothed as I was I dropped down, and reached the ground in safety. I took the precaution, when I was outside, to shut the window, that my having escaped should not enter their ideas, and climbing a tree which overhung the wall of the garden, dropped from a bough on the other side, and found myself at liberty. As I knew that the farther I was from the nunnery, the less chance I had of being supposed an impostor, I gained the high road, and ran as fast as I could in the direction from Marseilles to Toulouse.
(To be continued.)
HOW WILL THE QUESTION BE SETTLED? DURING a storm at sea, there is sometimes what seamen call a · lull,” when a calm comes over the face of the ocean for a moment. The tempest may have spent its force, and be on the decline, or it may only be gathering energy to augment its terrors. A political lull at this period seems to have hushed the dissonance of party, and all are in anxious expectation of the time when Parliament will meet, and the determination of Ministers be made known in respect to the Reform measure. What this determination is, or whether the Premier has fixed upon a plan of operations which will fulfil to the letter his own promises and those of his partisans, is equally unknown to any but the members of the Cabinet. The public are watching his steps in breathless quietude. If the nation find that the promises of the Minister are realized, as far as he and his coadjutors are concerned, it will give him its support to the last moment, and show him that to one (however rare the example in politics) who deals honestly by them, they will adhere with invincible fidelity. If Lord Grey, on the other hand, change the principle of
the Bill; or narrow the measure by which he has said he will stand or fall, the loss of that firmness of tone which he lately assumed will be fatal to his administration. The storm will then recur with augmented violence; the people will declare that neither Whig nor Tory can be trusted; and those political questions which have been so long unsettling men's minds, injuring trade, and absorbing all the converse of social life, will be the handle for further and perhaps irremediable mischief. We have every hope that the want of decision—the lack of proper firmness, will not be discovered. If the Tories were content to obtain a “ moderate” Reform, as they style it, their strength in the House of Lords would have given them the power of modifying the late Bill in the Committee to their hearts' content, and its framers could not have helped themselves. This, in their confidence, they scorned to do. They would have that Bill utterly “ rejected,” which 22,000,000 of people, and their representatives by a large majority, and 147 British Peers to 145, 1 had sanctioned and approved, after long deliberation, and the satisfactory knowledge that every argument agreeable to common sense and to the constitution of the realm was in its favour.
Of the two parties into which the Tories are divided, one is invincibly repugnant to any but the old system. Obstinate, ignorant of the spirit of the times, and insatiate in desire after the profits of corruption, with this party there can be no parley from the side of Ministers. Many of them are grown grey in old time-worn habits and feelings. Perhaps, in something of the spirit with which human nature clings to mere antiquity, they are blind to every thing but their own prejudices, which consort so admirably with their interests, that they cannot see, if they do not yield what is asked, it may some day ere long be taken from them. Like the miser with thousands in gold, they will not give a ducat to preserve the rest. With this party, therefore, all parley is useless : where patriotism resolves itself into pride and selfishness, argument is met by assumption, and years bring no wisdom, it is in vain to dream of working conviction. Upon the second party, or the moderate men of the Tories, alone it is, that reason and the interests of the country may be supposed to produce an effect. Some concession on the part of Ministers might obtain the support of many of this party, and thus the question might be settled.
But if Lord Grey has succeeded in gaining over any number of the moderate Tories, and we are far from believing this impossible, has he done it without sacrificing the vital principle of the Bill ? That there will be some converts to the Bill, from the opposition side of the House of Lords, is very probable. There are Peers who cannot see without just fear the present state of the country, and the agitation under which it labours. They cannot contemplate without anxiety, as reasonable men must, the formation of political societies of a character which no proclamation can reach. They cannot see without apprehension, that the prolongation of the Reform question will only increase the mass of existing evil, and that until public opinion and the state of the House of Commons are in consonance, there will only be an increase of mischief. When the country is
* In the majority were 21 Bishops, 12 Scotch and 19 Irish Peers.
quieted by a pure legislature being restored in unison with the just demands of the people, there will be no fear of mob law, or of the mooting many questions not much more consonant to Tory feeling than reform, which obstinate resistance will infallibly call up. These considerations may prevail with unprejudiced clear-headed men. We do not expect that Lord Eldon or the Duke of Newcastle will subscribe to such motives, but Lord Wharncliffe and some of his friends may. Still the number to be gained over is so considerable, and real political honesty so rare, that we despair of outnumbering the forty-one opponents of the Bill by conscientious appeals like the above. The Bishops too will keep good hold of Ultra-Toryism; and unless between this and the day of the introduction of the second Bill into the House of Lords, a few translations fall into the Minister's gift, we expect to see the tripled seven again in the hostile ranks. Tbese Lords spiritual, whose ambition is very different from that of the fishermen of old (as Lord Chatham once hinted to them), are a sad stumbling-block in the way. There are but three chances open that we can dream of for disembarrassing Lord Grey and getting the Bill passed. The first we have alluded to above ; but then there must be some modification of the Bill, if only to save the consistency of those Peers who join the side of its supporters. The second chance is through a species of indirect corruption, that with Whig and Tory too has been before now held fair; but that will scarcely pass muster in our day. Walpole and Pitt were equally traffickers in it. The third mode is a creation of Peers. Now which of these plans will be adopted ? or will Ministers eat their own words, and, instead of standing or falling with the Bill, suffer it to be frittered away into a harmless milk-and-water medley? This is the difficulty :-a little time will explain it.
The political meetings which have been put down by proclamation, and very properly put down, are few in number of that precise character which can be thus affected. Meetings may be held ; clubs may be formed ;—what can prevent them? The country may be agitated from one end to another. The law may be defied, unless backed by an army of immense numerical force. The Habeas Corpus may be suspended, but the suspension of that safeguard of Englishmen must be backed with supernatural means to operate on an entire population, if that respect for the law which has prevailed so much in England, and is one of the greatest sources of peace and security, should cease to exist. And it infallibly would cease to exist, if it had not public opinion on its side-if it were bereft of its moral power-if it were obviously unjust. It is a doctrine of Toryism as foolish as it is false, that a whole nation may be bound down to injustice forced to smother its wrongs by the arm of the law. As long as an unjust law is supported by physical force, it is true it may operate—not longer. It is, therefore, the most dangerous mistake on the part of certain opponents of the Reform Bill to say
“ There shall be no reform at all. If people clamour for it-form clubs, meetings, and what not; put them all down, suspend the Habeas Corpus if needful.” But how are twenty millions of people to be put down, and by whom? Surely not by themselves ? The agents of the law are of the people, part of the people, and if the latter resist the law where are they? --where is government, or order, or property?. The ex
ercise of law, where it has no moral power in itself, is like the poor political antic, Sir Charles Wetherell, who when the Court at Bristol was crammed with hundreds of persons whom his presence rendered tumultuous, and where they so indecorously hissed him even on the seat of justice, which Englisbmen till then viewed, as they should do, with respect, and ought to have so viewed even then, threatened to commit them. Sir Charles had so sunk the judge in the obnoxious political partisan, that the moral effect of his judicial character had vanished. In vain he threatened commitment: as well might the traveller annoyed by grasshoppers, who got off his horse to kill them all, have destroyed the myriads around him, as Sir Charles have committed the crowd that so unceremoniously greeted him. The threat to commit, so fearful from another judge whose moral power was untainted, to obey whom every arm would have been uplifted, only produced a repetition of the same insult. A better illustration of the want of that quality, without which law as well as judge is not respected, and where brute force is alone effi cacious, never was exhibited. Here then are motives for passing the Reform Bill; namely, lest the laws lose their force by being put in action where their moral power is inert, and lest anarchy spring out of disobedience to them. There is no state of things so bad as this: the crimes of the miscreants at Bristol are not more frightful. It is a very sure road to “ revolution,” a much more certain one than passing the Reform Bill. This we contend is the safeguard against it,--the sure preventive.
It is a fearful thing to play with the temper of a people, and to hazard experiments on its patience. Corruption, the Tory party argue, is to be preserved sacred, because its removal is innovation. We are therefore to suffer the growth of every kind of political evil, because the removal of it is a novelty! Absurdity can go no further than this. The French Revolution, or rather the part of it most to be deprecated, was brought about by the increase of oppression and corruption, until it could proceed no further. Had those evils been checked in their advance by the Government, there would have been no revolution at all. The philosophers of France have been charged with being the primary movers of it: they were no more so than all writers must be, who make public great political truths with which a nation is before unacquainted. So strong were those truths, so undeniable, that the largest proportion of the French noblesse at first arrayed themselves on their side. Alarmed at last by the irresistible march of events, they opposed the progress of that which they had aided in generating, finding it would affect their own interests and prejudices. They tried the Tory plan of compression. The people lost all confidence in them. The progress of knowledge could not be made to retrograde for the sake of the noblesse, who had the vanity to suppose that they could make it stand still. A collision ensued, and the kingdom was wrecked. Now, no man of that time, possessed of one atom of political foresight, ever dreamed that France would suffer the existing abuses of its government much longer, or that a corrupt Court would amend or prop up a system rotten to its foundation. Had the nobility continued to aid the removal of existing evils, and pot hurried on violent changes by violent resistance, it would have had the physical strength of the nation on its side. It might have