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to translate the Offices from the Breviary—Miss Jones passes off the translation as her own-I am left alone in the cottage Another journey to Weston Mere-My brother calls with his bride and is not allowed to see me.
“CHAPTER XI.—The Boys' College--A boy flogged, and a Sister obliged to be present-I am left alone in the house with the boys and a man, without a single female companion--I determine to leave Miss Jones and return home--My position at home is very painful-Reasons for this.”
One description is so graphic that we cannot resist the temptation of relating it in the author's own words :-
“I well remember, one evening, at eight o'clock, hearing a young 'novice,' a girl of eighteen, desired to go off at once by train to a distant town. She told me afterwards that she did not arrive till midnight, that she waited for an hour at the door of the house to which she was sent before she could obtain admittance, and that she was insulted in the street by drunken men. I was myself sent on a midnight expedition, which I shall relate presently ; but I had à companion. Miss Jones triumphed in these things, and considered it the perfection of obedience for any Sister to submit to them without a murmur. It was simply the Protestant idea of obedience, that it should be reckless of consequences, that even if a Superior commanded a sin to be committed it should be done. But no Catholic Superior could command such absurdities; for even if she did, she would herself be disobeying the Rule of every religious Order, which in some way or other provides that obedience shall be required only according to reason and justice.
* After the departure of the novice, I was sitting in the kitchen, waiting until it was time to retire to bed. We had had our tea just before, which was as simple a meal as we could have. I did not suppose there would be any more cooking that night, and I was not a little amazed, and I must say scandalised, when I heard the lay Sister who attended Miss Jones, desiring the Child' to get her bonnet and shawl, and go at once into for a delicacy which she mentioned, and which she said was required for Miss Jones's supper. The young lady-for lady she was by birth, in manner, and in every act- set out instantly. It was a dark winter's night, it rained heavily, snd she had a walk of at least a mile and a half down one of the steepest hills I ever saw, and up that hill again. I felt grieved for her, but still more grieved, nay anguished to the very heart, at this utter mockery of obedience-at the exhibition of a person, dressed in a costume which, however unlike that of a Catholic nun, yet made some show of resembling it, in the streets, at that time of night, on such an errand. I expressed some slight feeling on the subject to the lay Sister, but she only replied, 'Oh, she often has to go out at night to get things for Mother.'
“Poor C- ! loving-hearted, unselfish, generous C--! she sleeps now in her quiet grave, where none can weary or disturb her rest; had she but devoted all the time and thought to the poor that she had to spend on Miss Jones, she might still be working for them and for God.
“I was not in the house when she died, but I heard from others, on whose testimony I can rely as truly as I could on the evidence of my own senses, that her end was most wretched. She lived for a creature, and that creature failed her in her hour of greatest need. Her constitution was naturally most robust, but she never spared herself for a moment; and, I must add, she was never spared. She was often sent messages up and down the steep hill before mentioned two and three times in the day, and perhaps again at midnight; in the intervals she was occupied in cooking for Miss Jones, in carrying heavy trays up and down from her apartment, in scrubbing stone floors and passages. That very day, on the evening of which she was sent for soup, I had seen her scrub a large kitchen all over, and clean a number of saucepans. .....
“Even in her last days she was denied almost the necessaries of life. Milk was the only luxury for which she cared, and this she was only allowed twice a day in small quantities. On the very day of her death, she begged that her morning and evening portion might be given to her together; for, she said, 'I shall not want it tonight.' The Sister who had charge of supplying it ventured to give what she asked, generously risking the blame she was sure to receive for this act of common humanity. In the evening, poor C-- laid herself down quietly on her bed and died.
“Miss Jones, who above all things loved a public demonstration, had a splendid funeral, but I never heard that she shed a single tear over the corpse.” (pp. 104-107.)
Finally, the author determined on quitting the Sisterhood, and returned to the house of an aged relative; but after awhile, restless and discontented, resolved “once more on returning to Miss Jones's establishment, and on facing all its horrors anew." We have then an account of the process of reasoning, if it be not a misuse of terms, by which she argued herself to the verge of Romanism. The immediate cause of her secession is explained to be some carelessness on the part of a High Church clergyman in the administration of the Lord's Supper to a sick person. The whole narrative, from the period of her return to Miss Jones, is artistically, we had almost said melodramatically, wrought out, and is not unskilfully adapted for the perversion of weak and impulsive minds. It closes with an account of her reception into the Romish Church. The creed of Pope Pius IV. is set out in due form, and “a sharp sleet of arrowy showers” fired into Dr. Pusey by the retreating foe. From that time there were “no questions, no difficulties, no doubt.” We presume the author means that she had heard of none.
The whole narrative is as complete an exposure of the fantastic folly and wretchedness existing in Protestant Sisterhoods as was the Saurin case of the miserable janglings and heart-burnings prevalent in Romish nunneries. We cannot doubt that it has been meant by the writer as an argument of the kind commonly denominated “Tu quoque,” and we really would feel it hard to decide between them—"Et vitulâ tu dignus et hic.” Of course, an anonymous narrative, veiling its comments under fictitious names, cannot command the same confidence as an authenticated report of a trial in a court of justice; but it is sufficiently manifest that similar systems produce similar results, whether in the Church of England or the Church of Rome. As the writer ingenuously remarks, and we could wish to give all currency to the statement, “ leaving a sisterhood is not always the immediate resource of those who find a Sister life very different to what they expected it to be.” And she explains at length “ why many lived on in misery at Miss Jones's in preference to returning home to another kind of misery which might almost be as hard to bear.” These remarks admit of far wider application than she contemplated, or would be willing to assign to them, but there is much serious truth in them, and that of a very painful kind.
The remaining portion of the volume is devoted to the lady's ten years' experience in a Romish convent. As she says in her preface that she had purposed, many years before, to write some such work, it is not improbable that, if she had carried out her original idea somewhat earlier, we might have been favoured with some touching contrast of the calm and blissful life spent in her convent haven,
“Where a saintly anchoress she dwells, Till she exchange for Heaven, that happy ground.” And, to do her justice, she makes the attempt. We are favoured with some few glimpses of the interior of convent life, and some account of the modes of reception into nunneries, with which most persons who take interest in such subjects are tolerably familiar. But, as we have already seen, the author, when in her Protestant state, was what Johnson would have admired, “a good hater ;” and, notwithstanding her double baptism, and double confirmation by Bishops and Cardinals, still retains, even in her cloistered shades, a full share of controversial spirit. Ladies, when they enter nunneries, manifestly
“Coelum non animum mutant.” She has of course parted company with “poor Miss Jones," but the unsubdued phronema sarkos is roused in all its ancient bitterness by the misdemeanours of Miss Saurin. She says that “nothing was farther from her thoughts than a retort on the Saurin case;" but as one whole chapter out of five relating to her Romish experience is devoted to remarks upon this celebrated affair, we must be pardoned if, notwithstanding her earnest disclaimer, we find it impossible to divest ourselves of this impression. Indeed, throughout the whole of the second part of her narrative, this unhappy lady is perpetually brought forward. In immediate connection with her name, we are told that “even in the College of Apostles there was one who fell from his glorious calling, who failed to understand the greatness of the vocation to which Christ Him. self had admitted him. He was scandalized at his Master's words and acts, and yet that Master was his Creator and his Lord.” Weforbear comment. Instead, therefore, of the spectacle of a fair nun in the enjoyment of the peace of God, and resembling “the halcyon whose nest floats on the glassy sea undisturbed by the agitation of the waves,” we have to face a sturdy and somewhat angry controversialist, much vexed in spirit, and hardly shrinking from breaking a lance even with so formidable an antagonist as Chief Justice Cockburn. Feminine spite crops out in all her animadversions, and we are irresistibly led to the conclusion that the nunnery from which Miss Saurin was ejected is not the only one in which she might have been very uncomfortable.
One of the author's revelations of convent life has, we must confess, surprised us. That the Dominicanesses of Stone should have a splendid library, seems not unnatural; and that some of the ladies there should devote “rare talents to literary labours of no common value," may be possible. But as our theory of the double authorship of this volume must be relinquished, and we are bound to receive it as the genuine production of a lady who has joined what she terms a contemplative Order, and dates from the Convent of our preconceived fancies as to the books read by nuns in cloistered shades have been sorely perplexed. In addition to the learned tomes which, no doubt, adorn the shelves, and furnish substantial food for the intellect, the library table, it would seem, is regularly supplied with the Echoes of the Clubs, the Saturday Review, the Guardian, the London Review, the Church News, and the Church Times ; and all these appear to be very carefully perused; what other periodicals may be taken in “permissu superiorum,” we cannot of course tell, but still, with a carefully selected box from Mudie's at regular intervals, the fair inmates must be better off than most ladies are in country parsonages, and no doubt manage to while time away, during these hours of recreation, more pleasantly than persons outside the convent gate are in the habit of supposing. Even the satirical article in the Saturday Review on the “Girl of the Period” has found its way into sequestered haunts, into which the writer of it, we imagine, never dreamt that it would penetrate, and is a favourite topic with our author. We forget who it was who, on landing at the Piræus, was shocked and startled at finding the omnibus waiting to take him up to
Athens. He could not have been more astonished than we were when we came upon this curious information.
What, then, is the sum of the whole matter ? In all sober seriousness, we will state the conclusions to which we have arrived. Accepting this book as a genuine revelation, we are constrained to say that we view it as the production of a very weak, wayward, and impulsive person, of a restless and bitter spirit, upon whom neither Protestantism nor Romanism seem to have exercised any soothing or holy influence. We have not, of course, the slightest knowledge of the author, and judge her only by the exhibition which she has seen fit to make of the spirit that dwells within her. The book is, in our judgment, calculated to be a mischievous one, not, however, from any intrinsic ability displayed in it, nor from any pathetic interest attaching to the writer. Where there is no morbid predilection for Romish views and prac. tices, it might probably repel, so transparent is the malevo. lence with which it is saturated. But where such morbid sen. timentalism does exist, it might do harm. Wise and learned arguments are not requisite for all classes of intellect; indeed, they would often fail to convince them. But what served to convert or pervert the author might well serve the same purpose for persons of a similar mental calibre, similarly ignorant of the true way of salvation, and similarly unconscious of the real merits of the theological questions at issue. For such purposes we think it has been skilfully designed. Curiously enough, while writing this, a little book called the “ Priest and his Pervert,'* containing some painful details of a recent case of perversion, has been put into our hands. The line of argument adopted by the Jesuit Priest in his correspondence tallies exactly with that which the author of the work under our review professes to have elaborated for her own benefit! As it may be well for some persons to know what are the pleas urged by Romanists in propagating their tenets, and what rubbish answers the purpose, this volume may have some use. It also gives much insight into the disloyalty of those who are doing the work of Rome within the pale of our own communion, and so far has an especial interest; it is otherwise, to use a term of the author, " disedifying" in the extreme.
* The Priest and his Pervert. By the Rev. X. G. Whitestone, M.A. London: W. Hunt. 1869.