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Constantia had now no relief but in her devotions and exercises of religion, to which her afflictions had so entirely subjected her mind, that after some years had abated the violence of her sorrows, and settled her thoughts in a kind of tranquillity, she resolved to pass the remainder of her days in a convent. Her father was not displeased with a resolution which would save money in his family, and readily complied with his daughter's intentions. Accordingly, in the twenty-fifth year of her age, while her beauty was yet in all its height and bloom, he carried her to a neighbouring city, in order to look out a sisterhood of nuns among whom to place his daughter. There was in this place a father of a convent who was very much renowned for his piety and exemplary life; and as it is usual in the Romish Church for those who are under any great affliction, or trouble of mind, to apply themselves to the most eminent confessors for pardon and consolation, our beautiful votary took the opportunity of confessing herself to this celebrated father.
We must now return to Theodosius, who the very morn ing 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 anything 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 into 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 broke 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 which 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 penitent 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 it; concluding
with a promise to her, that he would from time to time continue his admonition 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, which1 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 yourself, 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 father
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
1 It should be as.
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 deathbed he sent his benediction in a very moving manner to Constantia; who at that time was herself so far gone 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 anything improper, let me be buried by Theodosius. My vow reaches no farther 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 deaths were not divided.1
No. 165. SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 8.
-Si forte necesse est,
Fingere cinctutis non exaudita Cethegis,
Continget: dabiturque licentia sumpta pudenter. HOR.
I HAVE often wished, that as in our constitution there are several persons whose business it is to watch over our laws, our liberties, and commerce, certain men might be set apart as superintendents of our language, to hinder any words of a foreign coin from passing among us; and in particular to prohibit 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
When the reader has felt the pathos of this little melancholy story, it may be worth his while to go over it again, and see if it be not told throughout in the purest English.
posterity have been doing, were he to read their exploits in a modern newspaper. Our warriors are very industrious in propagating the French language, at the same time that they are so gloriously successful in beating down their power. Our soldiers are men of strong heads for action, and perform such feats as they are not able to express. They want words in their own tongue to tell us what it is they achieve, and therefore send us over accounts of their performances in a jargon of phrases, which they learn among their conquered enemies. They ought however to be provided with secretaries, and assisted by our foreign ministers, to tell their story for them in plain English, and to let us know in our mothertongue what it is our brave countrymen are about. The French would indeed be in the right to publish the news of the present war in English phrases, and make their campaigns unintelligible. Their people might flatter themselves that things are not so bad as they really are, were they thus palliated with foreign terms, and thrown into shades and obscurity; but the English cannot be too clear in their narrative of those actions, which have raised their country to a higher pitch of glory than it ever yet arrived at, and which will be still the more admired, the better they are explained.
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 many inexplicable difficulties, that I scarce know which side has the better of it, till I am informed by the tower guns that the place is surrendered. I do indeed make some allowances for this part of the war, fortifications having been foreign inventions, and upon that account abounding in foreign terms. But when we have won battles which may be described in our own language, why are our papers filled with so many unintelligible exploits, and the French obliged to lend us a part of their tongue before we can know how they are conquered? They must be made accessory to their own disgrace, as the Britons were formerly so artificially wrought in the curtain of the Roman theatre, that they seemed to draw it up, in order to give the spectators an opportunity of seeing their own defeat celebrated upon the stage; for so Mr. Dryden has translated that verse in Virgil,
Atque intertexti tollant aulæa Britanni.
Which interwoven Britons seem to raise,
And show the triumph that their shame displays.