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the realization of his vain and sanguine expectations, unhappily but too frequently frustrated. But is it not borrifying to think that individuals, whose inclinations and feelings revolt at, and are entirely adverse to, such a retreat, should be compelled, as well by intimidation 23 entreaty, to adopt so ungenial a condition. I bave witnessed an instance of this cruelty ; and cruelty is by far too mild a term for such a barbarous mode of driving human beings to become saints, by immuring them in monastic retirement.
A Roman Catholic curate with whom I was on terms of intimacy, had a sister, an intelligent and interesting young lady, residing with bim. lo consequence of slender pecuniary resources, he determined upon resigning his dwelling, and taking up his future abode with the priest of the parish. His first step, therefore, was, to solicit, and finally to compel bis sister to enter a community of inclosed muns in the same town where I, when a novice, was located. Notwithstanding her repeated refusals and entreaties, and the interposition of a younger brother who bad just returned from Maynooth College for the vacation, she was compelled, though in all the bitterness of grief, to comply with the priest's unnatural demand ! Previous to her entering the convent, she declared to me how painful it was to her feelings, and bow deeply it wounded her heart to be obliged to become a nun in opposition to her inclinations. Frequently have I beheld her bathed in tears, and indulging in secret the grief of her heart, at the consideration of the unhappy destiny that awaited her. This young lady still remains in the gloomy cloister, having taken perpetual vows, and received the black veil--fit emblem of that sorrow, which in all probability consumes, like a canker, the heart of her who wears it! This is not a solitary instance of the barbarity exercised in order to compel persons to become secluded from the world; although many who are ignorant of the system foolishly imagine that the act is a voluntary one.* “ Thus in Rome,” as Mr. Ciocci remarks, “even the signification of words is changed; weakuess, which yields to force, is termed docility; and the yes extorted by violence, is called consent !"
Michelet, in treating of convents in his “ Priests, Women, and Families," relates a brief but touching tale. I cannot but transcribe it:
“ Fifteen years ago I occupied, in a very solitary part of the town, a house, the garden of which was adjacent to that of a convent of women. Though my windows over-looked the greatest part of their garden, I had never seen my sad neighbours. In the month of May, on Rogation Day, I heard numerous weak, very weak voices, chanting prayers, as the procession passed through the convent garden. The singing was sad, dry, unpleasant, their voices false, as if spoiled by sufferings. I thought for a moment they were chanting prayers for the dead, but listening more attentively, I distinguished, on the contrary, “ Te rogamus, audi nos,” the song of hope which invokes the benediction of the God of life upon fruitful nature. This Maysong, chanted by these lifeless' núns, offered to me a bitter contrast. To see these pale girls crawling along on the flowery verdant turf
* Vide“ Monastic Institutions.” By Samuel Phillips Day, pp. 183-5. ,
these poor girls, who will never bloom again! The thought of the middle ages, that had at first flushed across my mind, soon died away, for then monastic life was connected with a thousand other things; but in our modern harmony what is this but a barbarous contradiction, a false, harsh, grating note ? What I then beheld before me was to be defended neither by nature por by history. I shut my windows again, and sadly resumed my book. This sight had been painful to me, as it was not softened or atoned for by any poetical sentiment. It reminded me much less of chastity than of sterile widowhood : a state of emptiness, inaction, disgust, of an intellectual and moral fast, the state in which these unfortunate creatures are kept by their absolute rulers.". So far the pen of Michelet.
To the young enthusiast a retreat such as the monastic state affords has a peculiar attraction; and intoxicated with the air of solemnity that pervades the cloister, he vainly imagines undisturbed peace to reign within its walls, and unalloyed happiness to possess and influence its inmates. After some consideration he is induced to become a“ religious,” and, stoic-like, severs from his, bosom every social, every domestic tie. The new mode of life he has adopted appears pleasant at first, for it has all the power of novelty to charm. He finally receives the "religious habit," and binds himself by vows the most solemn to his monastery. Soon he regrets the undue step he has taken; but no alternative remains. He feels the routine of discipline to which he is subjected, becoming daily more monotonous and distressing, and discovers, when too late, that he had acted injudiciously by imposing upon himself a burden greater than he had ability to sustain. At length he becomes remiss and negligeot-experiences a growing distaste for his profession-and the result is, inward and ceaseless grief gnawing his soul and feeding upon his vitals. Rude health and a cheerful mind are now exchanged for consumption, nervous irritability, bypochondriasis and ennui. And how can it be otherwise ? For there is nothing to be found within cloistered walls, but (to use the language of the last-mentioned writer) “ trifling, insipid ceremonies, a sort of modified austerity, and an idle and empty routine of monotonous life.” Indeed, “ destruction of the body" is one of the two principles upon which monasticism is based! The language which Bulwer employs in his description of satiety, may with equal propriety be used to pourtray convent life: 11.96-sepi :
"Oh, that fearful prostration of the mind, that torpor of the affections, that utter hopeless indifference to all things to set it
- Full little can he tell who hath not tried i
What hell it is ! in Br!! I ' ''. To rise and see through the long day no object that can interest, no pleasure that can amuse, with a heart perpetually craving excitement, to pass mechanically through the round of unexcitable occupationsto make an enemy of tiine-to count the moments of his march-to be his captive in the prison-house-to foresee no delivery but deathto be a machine and not a man, having no self-will and no emotionwound up from day to day-things in a dream, in which we act involuntarily-feeling the best part of us locked up and lifeless, and that VOL. IX.- August, 1847. ***
New Series, No. 20.
which is active, a puppet to a power that fools us with its objectless fancies-passive, but not at rest :-the deep and crushing melancholy of such a state let no happier being venture to despise.” This, reader, is not an unreal picture. The celebrated MADAME De CHANTAL has left her confession upon record; and here it is : “ All that I have suffered during the whole course of my life are not to be compared to the torments I now feel. I am reduced to such a degree that nothing can satisfy me, nor give me any relief, except one word death !” CASSIAN likewise, describes from bitter experience the « ascedia," or listlessness of mind and body, to which he was subjected when he sighed to find himself alone! And LUTHER, in his letter to George, Duke of Saxony, states that had he continued in his convent much longer, he would become a martyr unto death! Even some of my own acquaintances have not hesitated to confess that they never felt so miserable as when within the enclosure of their convents. I well remember that whenever I made known my mental disquietude to the master of novices, I was immediately consoled with an opiate like this:-“ O brother, custom will reconcile you to your convent and its duties. I have never known one that did not feel as you do now !” All this afforded me little relief. And I was necessitated to drag the heavy chain of my captivity as best I might.
It is said that Charlemagne, seeing from his palace always the same sight-a lake with its verdant border--at last fell in love with it. But I have not the good fortune to know one who had ever fallen in love with the cloister! True, on the countenances of some monastics, contentment may seem depicted, but it is only a shadow,—an artificial gloss to conceal what dare not be revealed a delusion similar to the hectic flush on the fevered cheek. " Ah, how often does the gayest and most fascinating appearance but serve to hide a broken or bleeding heart. Smiles that seem the offspring of joy hover around a sepulchre in which are enshrined the dearest and best hopes of life."
(To be continued.)
ROMISH CATECHISM IN ITALY. We give the following from a work published by Messrs. Seeley, Burnside, and Seeley, Fleet-street, London :Dottrina Christiana Breve composta per ordine Di Papa Clemente
VIII. Dal R. P. Roberta Bellarmino, Della Compagnia Di Gesu, poi Cardinale Di Santa Chiesa. Riveduta ed approvata della Congregatione della Riforma. In Roma, 1836. Presso Pretro Aurelj, Stampatore e Librajo, in via de Sediari, N. 24. .Con licenza dé Superiori, e Privilegio. Si vende del medesimo Librajo Sciolta baj, 2 legata in Castoncino baj, 3.
DE COMANDAMENTI DI DIO. M. Veniamo ora a quello, che si ha da operare per amare Iddio, ed il Prossimo : dite i dieci Comandamenti.
- D 1. Io sono il Signore Iddio tuo: non avrai altro Dio avara di altro Dio avarti me.
2. Non pigliare il Nome di Dio in vano. 3. Ricordati di sanctificare le Feste. 4. Onara il Padre, e la Madre. 5. Non ammazzare. 6. Non fornicare. 7. Non rubare. 8. Non dir falso testimonio. 9. Non desideare la Donna d'altri. 10. Non desideare la Roba d'altri. M. Chi ha dato questi Comandamenti?
D. L'istesso Dio nella Legge vechia, e poi Cristo nostro Signore il ha confermati nella nuova.
TRANSLATION. Short Christian Doctrine, composed by the order of Pope Clement
VIII. By the Rev. Father Robert Bellarmine, of the Company of
Jesus, and Cardinal of the Holy Church. Revised and approved · by the Congregation of Reform. Rome, 1836. By Peter Aurelj,
Printer and Bookseller, in Via Sediari, No. 24. With license and privileges of the Superiors. London : R. B. Seeley and W. Burnside. 1839.
ON THE COMMANDMENTS OF GOD. M. Let us come now to that which is to be done, in order to love God and our neighbour. Repeat the Ten Commandments.
D. 1. I am the Lord thy God, thou shalt have none other God before me.
2. Thou shalt not take the name of God in vain.
D. God himself, under the old dispensation, and Christ our Lord has confirmed them under the new. • The above catechism was purchased at Rome in the year 1838, and is the catechism in general use in the schools of that mystical Babylon. The principles it inculcates speak for themselves. The fact is not a little important, that two of the laws of God are blotted completely out of the Decalogue. Not a trace of the second commandment is to be found; for the fourth is substituted a command of the “ Man of Sin,” to remember to keep holy the days which God has set apart for labour, and which he has set apart for idleness and idolatry ; while the day which God has commanded to be kept holy, he has not thought
proper to mention. The original Bulls of Clement VIII. and Benedict XIII. are given to authenticate the work, and the whole catechism is printed verbatim from the copy brought over from Rome by the gentleman who gave it to the editor; the latter gives his name, merely to take on himself the responsibility of the document. The translation, it is hoped, is tolerably correct.
R. J. M‘Ghee.
SIR R. PEEL'S MANIFESTO.
To the Editor of the Protestant Magazine.
July 24, 1847. SIR-If it is not too late, might not some notice be taken with advantage, in the forthcoming number of the “ Protestant Magazine,” of Sir Robert Peel's address to the electors of Tamworth?
The Right Hon. Baronet says, “I look back with cordial satisfaction to the part which I took in support of those measures, and to the spirit in which they were conceived. It was a spirit of justice and kindness towards our Roman Catholic fellow-subjects in Ireland, a spirit which will, I trust, animate our future legislation with reference to that country.” It thus appears that Sir R. Peel grounds his support of all those measures which have for their object the encouragement and advancement of Popery, on the fallacious assumption that Romanists are fellow-subjects.
When this sentiment is viewed in connexion with what fell from Lord John Russell in his recent speech at the London Tavern, on which occasion he observed, “I think the Roman Catholics are entitled to all the privileges which the rest of the country possesses," it shows how little confidence is to be placed in the leading statesmen of the day, and how utterly incompetent mere politicians are to contend with such a subtle enemy as Popery. They will not believe that the Papal system is a thousandth part so bad as it really is. They will not believe, although Lord Arundel had the candour to admit it, that " the Church of Rome was antagonistic to Protestantism, and would continue so until Protestantism was extinct.” And they will not believe that to encourage and endow an idolatrous priesthood is a thing most offensive to God and injurious to the best interests of the country. The conduct of our leading statesmen proves that their professions of Protestantism are thoroughly hollow and hypocritical.
Sir R. Peel never ought to have stood forward as the champion of the Protestant cause, because he never was sincerely attached to that cause. He now evinces no distrust of the Roman Catholic religion, though at one time he professed to do so. 'There was a time when he believed that Romanism was “ something more than a scheme for promoting mere religion,” but he has turned his back on his principles, such as they were, and treacherously betrayed the cause he once espoused.
There is one thing we may be quite sure of, namely, that those