Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

spinning out the time, by making us thread every dirty alley in the quarter. The bare idea made me very angry and shaking my

little cane, “Mr. Joseph," I said, “ Is there not a more direct way to the convent than the one you have chosen ?"

Joseph did not choose to understand me, pleading, that he was a miserable French scholar.

We raised our voices--we became emphatic, and we lost more time, instead of advancing our point ; for Joseph stood still to listen, and during that period we were not going on, so we judged it best to submit, and our guide having resumed his former brisk walk, we had nothing else to do but to follow. At length, however, the young man, making a short turn, brought us in front of the chapel of St. Clair.

“Nous voilá, Signor," he said, turning round, and bowing, and asking, “ if we would please to enter the church, or proceed to the door of the house, which formed an angle with the church.” It seems that he had already recovered his French.

The sound of the organ, and that of the voices of many women and priests, proceeding through the open folding doors of the chapel, informed us that the service was commenced, if not nearly concluded, and I therefore thought it best to send my family into the church, as they were anxious to see the ceremony, whilst I went on to the door of the house.

There I knocked more than once, standing at the top of a flight of steps ; and at length the door was opened to me by a young man in an ecclesiastical dress.

“ Could I see Mademoiselle Harvey, Sir," I asked.

“ Mademoiselle Harvey,” he repeated. “Enter, Sir, and I will call the portress.”

He directed me to stand in a wide passage, which ran off to the right, and having disappeared in some other direction, I was left, it might be two minutes, or more, for the time seemed long, to enjoy my own reflections. There were several small square barred apertures opening into this passage, cach of which was shaded within the bars, by a black drapery. Suddenly a part of one of these draperies was removed, and a very old face, or rather a nose and chin were protruded through one corner of the curtain, and the question put to me in a

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

shrill voice, respecting my business there. “I came from Mr. Harvey," I said, “I wish to see his daughter."

“ You are Anglois," answered the person from behind the curtain.

“I am a friend of Mr. Harvey,” I answered. “I bring a letter to Miss Harvey, and I am sent by her father.”

“ Give me the letter,” she replied, “I will give it to the young lady."

“I am obliged to you,” I said, “ but I am desired to deliver it myself.”

She did not answer for an instant, but was evidently listening, probably for some token from the chapel, indicating the near conclusion of the service; for where we stood we could hear the voices of the priests very distinctly. At length she spoke, and said, “la sposa will be presently disengaged, and then I can ask madame, if you may be permitted to deliver the letter into her hand."

sposa !" I said, “What do you mean? “ The affianced -the espoused," she replied, “You know undoubtedly that the

young lady for whom you enquire, has obeyed the divine vocation of our holy lady, and has taken the veil to day.” “No, impossible," I exclaimed, “it cannot be that art and treachery can have gone so far. I shall make a complaint to government—this shall not pass. I know not what more I said, I was excessively angry; but the portress had dropped the curtain, and the nose and chin had disappeared. The next moment the passage in which I stood was crowded with persons coming in by invitation, according to custom, to partake of a collation given by the lady who had taken the veil ; and the same young man who had admitted me, came forward to tell me that I could not see the sister that day, nor even be admitted to speak with the superior, begging me at the same time to withdraw. My present object is to give an account of my first Sunday at Nice, and therefore, as I heard no more of Miss Harvey that day, I shall enter no farther into her history, than to say that nothing could be done for her, as she possessed a fortune entirely independent of her father, was a prize worthy a struggle, inasmuch as she not only paid the usual fee to the convent, on her own account, but further

[ocr errors]

endowed six other young women. She was just of age

when she took this awful step. I rejoined my family on the terrace, before the chapel. My son looked flushed and exceedingly angry, and the female part of my family had been weeping; they had learnt, whilst in the chapel, that the poor deluded young woman who had thus solemnly professed her devotion to a blasphemous and idolatrous delusion, (such is the whole system of popery) was that very Miss Harvey in whom they were so much interested; and whilst looking upon her as she knelt behind the grate within the altar, in her new attire with her coronet of thorns and roses on her head, and flaming taper in her hand, they had not been able to restrain their tears, or to conceal the anguish excited by the sense of her situation. But it was an hour of triumph to the false church and the powers of darkness, and no doubt the tears of my family added to that triumph.

Our passage back to the hotel was vastly more short than that from the hotel to the convent had been, which Joseph accounted for from the circumstance of one being up hill and the other down ; but it was too late for the morning service in the English chapel when we reached our apartments, and we had nothing for it but our usual resource, namely, a private service amongst ourselves.

It was natural for me, on that occasion, to enlarge upon the dreadful sinfulness and negligence of too many parents in the choice of instructors for their children; were it not so, I remarked, would so many places of education, where religion is made only a matter of form, and where the spirit of the world prevails over every other consideration, be upheld and supported as they are in our metropolis, even by professing parents. This is a crying sin of our nation, and many grey heads of persons whom I should be sorry not to think real christians, are brought down with sorrow to the grave because they have chosen rather the vain and empty accomplishments valued by the world, for the children whom God has given them, than that pure and holy, simple and humble, instruction, which is seldom found, nay, which is entirely incompatible with much attention to fashion, to the acquirement of splendid accomplishments, or even to that sort of

literature which enables a young person to make a figure in worldly society. The kingdom of God on earth is a hidden one, and the qualities most precious in the sight of God are inconsistent with a view to public show and exhibition : hence, I added, as a lily among thorns, so would I have my daughters, when compelled to mingle with the world. Thus we spent the hours, till it was time to go to the English chapel. On this occasion we took no guide, for being prepared, we observed a venerable looking English clergyman, with two ladies, walking along the street, and taking it for granted that if we walked in their steps we should find ourselves right in the end, we took the following passage from Canticles as our regulator, and had reason to feel that the passage was not ill applied :—“Tell me, Othou whom my soul loveth, where thou feedest, where thou makest thy flock to rest at noon: for why should I be as one that turneth aside by the flocks of thy companions ? If thou know not, O thou fairest among women, go thy way forth by the footsteps of the flock, and feed thy kids beside the shepherds' tents.” Cant. i. 7, 8.

Our unconscious guides led us out of the city, over the bridge, which lies across the torrent Paglion, towards the Croix de Marbre, a beautiful suburb, much occupied by the English who frequent Nice; and turning down a narrow path, between two walls, they brought us to a spot where was a small, yet delicately neat place of worship, it stood in a garden, set forth with various species of beautiful trees and herbs, and near to it a burying ground, where were a few tombs of white marble, and many flowering acacias; but the service was begun, there was no time to delay, and we entered the chapel, and took our places near the door. The extreme neatness of the place within, the entire freedom from all ornaments, and carved works, and the perfect simplicity of the form of the apartment occurred to me as being particularly proper where the religion of the country was idolatrous, and prepared me to hope, that all else would be consistent. Neither was I disappointed. The congregation was entirely composed of English persons, and of persons for the most part belonging to the higher grades of society. Their dress and appearance was simple and elegant--their manners courteous, and in many instances evidently serious. A fragrant air from the blossoms without, circulated through the open windows, through which the heights of Cimiés and Mont Caut were visible in different aspects.

There was a small sweet toned organ in the gallery ; and the orchestra, as I afterwards ascertained, was entirely composed of young English ladies, who were thus devoting their powers to the service of Him who bestowed them; there was no display, no exhibition in all this; but a simplicity of manner hardly ever observable even in the orchestra of the humblest village. And here, I might remark, perhaps, with advantage, that it is a great mistake to suppose, that simplicity and modesty are the natural accompaniments of inferior manners and education.

Nothing that is really beautiful or excellent proceeds from the natural man ; and hence, coarseness and low breeding are as injurious to true delicacy, as the principle of display encouraged in vain and fashionable society.

Thus, as I have stated, every adventitious circumstance, that is, every circumstance not immediately depending upon the minister himself, or entirely under his control, was delightful in this little green spot, in the midst of the wilderness of this world. Nevertheless, all would have been barren as to the fruits of holy living, had not the words of truth flowed thereon from the Holy Spirit, uttering itself through the organs of the preacher; but the minister of this little chapel had no sooner taken his place in the pulpit, than I was made aware that it was his purpose to speak the truth, and nothing but the truth, that is, as far as it was given him so to do. All he knew he told. He had no reserves. No question whether it were judicious to bring forward such and such doctrines, or to exbibit such and such unquestionable truths. He described the Saviour Christ as all in all, and man as utterly vile, and shewed his audience that salvation is by Christ alone. In a word, I was carried beyond myself with joy, to find a countryman so valiant for the truth; and we returned that evening to our hotel, with the determination of making Nice our residence, through all the approaching winter months.

M.M.S.

« ZurückWeiter »