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Charles MʻLoughlin * would be free. He struck the blow, and gained his liberty. And now, if he should be persecuted, even unto death, by the slaves around him, at the secret instigation of reverend slaveholders, it is better and nobler far to die a freeman (whom God's truth makes free) than live a slave :
Who hates the Bible? fears the sacred light?
Christian, joyful in a holy home,
MONTMORENCY.-A CATHOLIC TALE. At the foot of one of those mountains which separate the province of from stood the ancient castle of the house of Montmorency, whose ancestors had signalized themselves in olden times by many a deed of chivalry. The lapse of ages had greatly impaired the fortunes of the noble owners, as well as levelled with the dust many a stately tower of the solid fabric of the old chateau. Much of the building was suffered to remain in ruins, mantled with creeping ivy and haunted by the lonely night-owl, the rest had been repaired, from time to time, and now exhibited a combination of modern taste and convenience with the ancient architecture of bygone ages.
It is not our intention to dwell on the former splendour and comparative poverty of this noble house. At the time our tale commences, its present owner, Sir Hubert, after a youth and manhood spent in the service of his country, had retired to enjoy, in the bosom of domestic tranquillity, that repose which his declining age needed, and henceforth to derive his happiness from the society of an amiable wife and two lovely children, the latter of whom, an only son, was looked upon as the sole prop of his house, and early destined to a soldier's life. If fortune had bestowed her gifts with a sparing hand, nature had amply compensated ; his figure was tall and graceful, his countenance strikingly handsome, combining sweetness of expression with strength and dignity. His natural vivacity and ardour of disposition was yet tempered with thought and reflection, and while he entered with spirit in the pursuits of those of his own age, he yet preferred the pleasures of intellect and reflection to the gayer sports of his companions, and a solitary ramble amongst the mountain scenery of his native home had charms for him with which his boyish friends could ill participate. By many the young Hubert was considered reserved and proud, some even called him cold-hearted; for they little knew the depth of feeling which lay buried in his bosom, concealed from the gaze of common eyes, yet ready to show itself in every noble deed. His sister, Clara, was in many respects the reverse of her brother. Volatile as the air, warm-hearted, and imprudent, she was yet far from deficient in sense and understanding, but, delighting in gaiety and amusement, she had little sympathy in the graver musings of her brother, and was seldom better pleased than when she had put them all to flight by her native playfulness. Yet there existed between them a bond of union, warm and tender ; the most childish amusement of his sister's was dear to him because it was Clara's, and to wander with her in the forests, chase the squirrels from their nests, and pluck the fairest flowers, was the sweet employment of the happy days of sunny childhood. Too little passed in the domestic circle to merit the attention of the reader. If there was one feeling in Hubert's bosom deeper than another, it was that of devoted affection to his mother. She, and she alone, entered into his every feeling ; she touched his faults with a hand of love so delicate that her chiding, if it caused a pain, never caused a shade of anger. Her approbation was the sunshine of his life, the stimulant to every exertion. She implanted in his heart the love of virtue, as the noblest pursuit of man. She pointed to heaven, the abode of future blessedness, as the reward of merit. She did this ; she could do no more. She had never heard of better tidings. She had been educated in Romish darkness, and the pure, the bright, the glorious Gospel had never shone on her. Believing that heaven was to be merited by human obedience, she was herself most scrupulous in the performance of those good works which should entitle her to its glories ; and if she felt, as all really sincere must feel, her conscience ill satisfied by her best performances, her fears were quieted by that false peace with which the ministers of the Romish Church so well contrive to lull to fatal silence the anxieties of an awakened soul-a peace which, alas! often only broken by the solemn realities of another world.
* The report of the trial of M'Loughlin v. Walsh, appeared in a former number of this periodical, and was, as our readers will recollect, an action brought by a Roman Catholic tradesman against his Priest, for damages incurred by a sentence of excommunication.
A devoted member of the Church of Rome, Sir Hubert would have considered his duty to his family ill performed, had he not engaged as confessor a Jesuit priest, who resided in his house, as spiritual guide to every member, and as bosom friend to himself. It was matter of surprise to many of the humble villagers that, of all the domestics who had resided in the castle for many years, and were looked upon as necessary parts of the establishment, two only were absent, and they the two who once stood highest in favour ; but around their history there hung a shade of mystery to penetrate which had been a vain attempt ; they had been, were not, and, as if by common consent, their names were never heard. It had been noticed, by the more observant, that when the absentees were alluded to, a flush of anger clouded the brow of Father Joachim, (the priest,) whilst the gentle countenance of Lady de Montmorency was saddened by a melancholy so deeply touching, that fear for the former and love for the latter alike prevented the mention of their names ; and in the years that had intervened since their first disappearance, they had been comparatively forgotten. Time passed on, the boy had grown into the youth, and Hubert was pursuing his studies at the military school in Paris. The bitterest tears Clara ever shed, flowed at parting with her brother, but they were soon dried with the elasticity of feeling so natural to her; and, much quicker than her most sanguine hopes anticipated, she clasped again her darling brother to her heart, grown improved in every way, not only thought his fond sister, but even his anxious mother, who dreaded the ordeal which her son must experience in entering the busy scenes of life, and exposed to the dissipation of the gayest city in Europe. Home, and his mother's society, had lost none of its charms to Hubert, yet after the first flush of excitement had passed, his mother's looks excited his painful interest ; to his affectionate inquiries he received repeated assurances that she did not suffer, and he tried to dissipate a vague feeling of apprehension which stole over his heart. Of his father he saw less than usual, and when he did, he conversed but little. Father Joachim, on the contrary, appeared unusually cheerful, and to have gained a greater influence even than he had before over Sir Hubert. One evening the usual hour for family worship had arrived, but Father Joachim did not appear ; his mother, too, was not there, he looked at his father, whose countenance was unusually sad ; he was about to inquire the cause, when both the parties entered. Traces of tears were on his mother's face, and a smile of exultation on that of the confessor, who ran through the accustomed service in a manner less reverential and more absent than usual. For the first time in his life Hubert passed a restless night, and felt really unhappy ; vainly did he question his gentle mother as to the cause of her grief. “ It is gone, my son ; it was but a moment of weak compassion, of sinful rebellion ; ask me no questions, I have much cause for gratitude." A week more passed, and the day arrived for Hubert's return to Paris. It might have been fancy, but he thought his mother never blessed him so warmly, never smiled so sadly, nor answered so incredulously when he spoke of the certainty of their future meeting. But the horses flew swiftly, the towers of Montmorency faded in the distance, and ere he had recovered his spirits, the streets of Paris were beneath his feet. Youth, happy youth, sorrow with thee is of short continuance, hope has not yet deceived too often to be again believed, when her sunny smiles deck the unknown future in rainbow colours,-colours as bright, as beautiful, and transitory, as the bubble which bursts before the astonished
eye of childhood, and leaves only the remembrance that it was fair and lovely, yet vanished ere the eager hand could grasp it. The morning's sun dawned brightly on Hubert's sleeping pillow, he awoke, and ashamed of yielding to needless sorrow, roused himself to exertion; the study of his profession, and society of his friends, soon dissipated his melancholy, but above all, a letter received from Clara, confidently assuring him of his mother's health and happiness, restored him to his accustomed spirits. Time passed on, and Hubert hoped in a few short weeks to re-visit home. It was the close of a grand military review, when Hubert and a friend were leisurely riding home their noble chargers, wearied, yet pleased with the excitement of the day. A sudden turn of the road brought them in view of the winding river, over one part of which a natural waterfall was roaring with majestic beauty. A narrow pathway of velvet turf, planted with trees, overhung the river, which was crowded with peasants and their children assembled to view the troops. One child of singular beauty attracted the attention of Hubert and his companion, as her auburn tresses floated in the breeze, and her laughing blue eyes were now fixed on the group below, and now raised with delight to her happy parent. It was but the vision of a moment, for the next a shriek of agonizing terror burst from the frantic mother, as her child, losing her balance, was precipitated in the stream below, and rapidly borne by the current towards the river. Hubert lost not a moment, but spurring his horse, gallopped to the spot, and disregarding the danger, plunged into the stream, succeeded in rescuing the child, and restoring her to her frantic mother. We stop not to describe her ardent gratitude, or the cries of approbation with which the spectators greeted Hubert. “It was but humanity,” said he, “what man could witness a mother's anguish, and not make an effort to relieve her ? not those who know a mother's love." Scarcely had he arrived at the first hotel, when a well-known face met his view, the agitation of which convinced him all was not right. “My mother ?" was his first inquiry; “ Is ill, very ill, and wishes to see you.” Hubert uttered not a word, but the paleness of his cheek, and compression of his lip, showed the painful struggle of his mind, whilst, exhausted as he was, he lost no time in departing.
Arrived at Montmorency Castle, his worst fears were confirmed; his mother, he learnt from his weeping sister, was dying, and yielding to the vehemence of her feelings, Clara protested she would die, and be buried with her. “Cease, dear Clara, if you love our mother, dry those tears till she can no longer be pained by seeing them.” A few moments more brought him to the chamber of his dying, almost idolized parent. At the moment in which he entered, she seemed incapable of speaking, but extended her hand, and smiled on him with that expression of deep heartfelt love which pierced his heart, and when he remembered that soon that face would smile on him no more for ever, a groan of agony was nigh bursting from his bosom. Death, though ever a solemn and affecting spectacle, is yet not without its alleviations to the true Christian, to those who are leaving this mortal scene of pain and sorrow, with a well-grounded hope of never-ending blessedness, who feels that a Father stands ready to welcome his dying child to a world in which he shall never suffer more, who, therefore, feel no doubt, no dread, but with a confidence at once humble, yet firm, can claim through a Saviour's merits, a
of glory that fadeth not away; to such, death has lost his sting, is stripped of his terrors. One hope alone can make a death-bed happy. One truth alone can make a sinner fear no evil ; that glorious truth is written in the Bible as with a pen of gold—that the Maker, against whom man had rebelled, so loved a world at enmity with him, that he sent his only Son to die for their salvation, and that his most precious blood cleanses from all sin. This blessed truth cheered not, in all its beauty, the dying pillow of Lady de Montmorency. This blessed truth the Romish Church obscures beneath a mass of false refuges, in which she teaches the trembling soul to trust. “My son-my dearest son," said the dying mother, "had my life been longer spared, I had much to say to thee on thy future prospects ; but the short span of my existence so swiftly draws to a close, that I must spend my last breath in urging you to prepare for a dying hour. At such a moment the world appears less than vanity, the future a most solemn though unknown reality ; to stand before a holy God to be sentenced for ever to endless happiness or woe. Forget not, dear Hubert, the reward of virtue is life, of vice and sin death. Beware of those who would draw you from our holy faith : pity and pray for them, but never forget there is no safety for those who separate from our holy Church. And now, my best-loved child, farewell. May we meet in a world where partings are unknown !” Speechless as a statue had Hubert stood, though the cold drops stood on his forehead from his struggle to suppress his feelings ; but his firmness gave way as his mother pressed him to her heart, and he wept like a child in the bitterness of his soul ; but soon his self-command returned ; he warmly thanked his mother for every past kindness, and solemnly promised to remember her admonitions. The priest now arrived to administer the last sacraments, after which, at his mother's request, he read to her portions of prayer for the dying :-“Mother of God, Queen of Heaven, I commit my soul into thy hand.” As Hubert read these words, his mother's countenance betrayed a struggle of no common nature. She tried to speak. He bent lower. Her voice was but a whisper. “Nay, dear Hubert, pray to the Saviour. What if she told me truth! Oh! horrible uncertainty ! all is dark ! I see no light. Great God ! if I die trusting in delusion, grant me thy pardon !” Sir Hubert was standing on the other side ; his manly cheek was wet with tears ; his voice inarticulate from emotion. But again the sufferer started, “Holy Mother of God, forgive me, unbeliever as I am.” Father Joachim now approached. “Be of good cheer, daughter, thy sins are pardoned. She who believes in the one true Church, and rich in charity and good works as thou hast been, need fear no evil. Thou hast the prayers of the saints, the prayers of the Holy Mother ; fear not, the Saviour heareth these.” With an energy that startled them, the dying lady raised her head, “Father, my good works are all imperfect. I renounce them all. Mercy ! mercy ! my Maker's—Saviour's mercy, that alone can save me.
My husband my children, be ye more diligent than I have been, if ye hope for peace at a dying hour.” Exhausted with the exertion, she sunk on the pillow and died.
We attempt not to describe what so many have felt—the sorrows of those who have lost a dear loved friend. None grieved more deeply, silently than Hubert; and where could he turn for comfort ? his religion, alas ! offered him little ; it taught him that the soul of that VOL. VIII.--August, 1846.
New Series, No. 8.