« ForrigeFortsett »
beautiful votary took the opportunity of confessing herself to this celebrated father.
We must now return to Theodosius, who, the very morning that the above-mentioned inquiries had been made after him, arrived at a religious house in the city, where now Constantia resided; and desiring that secrecy and concealment of the fathers of the convent, which is very usual upon any extraordinary occasion, he made himself one of the order, with a private vow never to inquire after Constantia ; whom he looked upon as given away to his rival upon the day on which, according to common fame, their marriage was to have been solemnized. Having in his youth made a good progress in learning, that he might dedicate himself more entirely to religion, he entered into holy orders, and in a few years became renowned for his sanctity of life, and those pious sentiments which he inspired into all who conversed with him. It was this holy man to whom Constantia had determined to apply herself in confession, though neither she nor any other, besides the prior of the convent, knew any thing of his name or family. The gay, the amiable Theodosius had now taken upon him the name of father Francis, and was so far concealed in a long beard, a shaven head, and a religious habit, that it was impossible to discover the man of the world in the venerable conventual.
As he was one morning shut up in his confessional, Constantia, kneeling by him, opened the state of her soul to him ; and after having given him the history of a life full of innocence, she burst out in tears, and entered upon that part of her story in which he himself had so great a share. My behaviour, says she, has, I fear, been the death of a man who had no other fault
but that of loving me too much. Heaven only knows how dear he was to me whilst he lived, and how bitter the remembrance of him has been to me since his death. She here paused, and lifted up her eyes, that streamed with tears, towards the father; who was so moved with the sense of her sorrows, that he could only command his voice, which was broken with sighs and sobbings, so far as to bid her proceed. She followed his directions, and in a flood of tears poured out her heart before him. The father could not forbear weeping aloud, insomuch that, in the agonies of his grief, the seat shook under him. Constantia, who thought the good man was thus moved by his compassion towards her, and by the horror of her guilt, proceeded with the utmost contrition, to acquaint him with that vow of virginity in whieh she was going to engage herself, as the proper atonement for her sins, and the only sacrifice she could make to the memory of Theodosius. The father, who by this time had pretty well composed himself, burst out again in tears upon hearing that name to which he had been so long disused, and upon receiving this instance of an unparalleled fidelity from one who he thought had several years since given herself up to the possession of another, Amidst the interruptions of his sorrow, seeing his penitent overwhelmed with grief, he was only able to bid her, from time to time, be comforted; to tell her that her sins were forgiven her ; that her guilt was not so great as she apprehended ; that she should not suffer herself to be afflicted above measure. After which he recovered himself enough to give her the absolution in form ; directing her at the same time to repair to him again the next day, that he might encourage her in the pious resolutions she had taken, and give her suitable exhortations for her behaviour in it. Constantia retired, and the next morning renewed her applications. Theodosius, having manned his soul with proper thoughts and reflections, exerted himself on this occasion in the best manner he could, to animate his peDitent in the course of life she was entering upon, and wear out of her mind those groundless fears and apprehensions which had taken possession of il; concluding with a promise to her, that he would from time to time continue his admonitions when she should have taken upon her the holy veil. The rules of our respective orders, says he, will not permit that I should see you, but you may assure yourself not only of having a place in my prayers, but of receiving such frequent instructions as I can convey to you by letters. Go on cheerfully in the glorious course you have undertaken, and you will quickly find such a peace and satisfaction in your mind, which it is not in the power of the world to give.
Constantia's heart was so elevated with the discourse of father Francis, that the very next day she entered upon her vow. As soon as the solemnities of her reception were over, she retired, as it is usual, with the abbess into her own apartment.
The abbess had been informed the night before of all that had passed between her noviciate and father Francis; from whom she now delivered to her the following letter :
• As the first fruits of those joys and consolations which you may expect from the life you are now engaged in, I must acquaint you that Theodosius, whose death sits so heavy upon your thoughts, is still alive ; and that the father, to whom you have confessed your
self, was once that Theodosius whom you so much lament. The love which we have had for one another will make us more happy in its disappointment than it could have done in its success. Providence has disposed of us for our advantage, though not according to our wishes. Consider your Theodosius still as dead, but assure yourself of one who will not cease to pray for you in
Constantia saw that the hand-writing agreed with the contents of the letter : and upon reflecting on the voice of the person, the behaviour, and above all the extreme sorrow of the father during her confession, she discovered Theodosius in every particular. After having wept with tears of joy, . It is enough,' says she, • Theodosius is still in being ; I shall live with comfort, and die in peace.”
The letters which the father sent her afterwards are yet extant in the nunnery where she resided ; and are often read to the young religious, in order to inspire them with good resolutions and sentiments of virtue. It so happened, that after Constantia had lived about ten years in the cloister, a violent fever broke out in the place, which swept away great multitudes, and among others. Theodosius. Upon his death-bed he sent his benediction in a very moving manner to Constantia, who at that time was herself so far
in the same fatal distemper that she lay delirious. Upon the interval which generally precedes death in sicknesses of this nature, the abbess, finding that the physicians had given her over, told her that Theodosius was just gone before her, and that he had sent her his benediction in his last moments. Constantia received it with pleasure. And now,' says she, if I do not ask any thing improper, let me be buried by Theodosius. My vow reaches no further than the grave. What I ask is, I hope, no violation of it.'-She died soon after, and was interred according to her request.
Their tombs are still to be seen, with a short Latin inscription over them to the following purpose :
Here lie the bodies of Father Francis and Sister Constance: They were lovely in their lives, and in their death they were not divided.'
ON USING FOREIGN IDIOMS. No. 165.
I HAVE often wished, that, as in our constitution there are several persons whose business is to watch over our laws, our liberties, and commerce, certaiņ men might be set apart as superintendants of our language, to hinder apy words of a foreign coin froin passing among us; and, in particularto probibit any French phrases from becoming current in this kingdom, when those of our own stamp are altogether as valuable. The present war has so adulterated our tongue with strange words, that it would be impossible for one of our great-grandfathers to know what his posterity have been doing, were he to read their exploits in a modern newspaper. Our warriors are very indusırious in propagating the French language, at the same time that they are so gloriously successful in beating down their power.
For my part, by that time a siege is carried on two or three days, I am altogether lost and bewildered in it, and meet with so likany inexplicable difficulties, that