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" What cup do you mean? My mother does
not come, and I should like to know the cause
of the delay."

"You expect her in vain. She has left Naples
for Reggio."

In spite of the remonstrances of her father's
family, a course of moral torture at last
succeeded in driving Enrichetta to take the veil,
with much about the feeling of despair which
drives people at their wits' end to throw
themselves from the top of a precipice. The mother
afterwards consoled herself with a second
husband. The daughter was dead to the world;
possessing no longer either a parent, sister,
relations, or friends, she had abdicated her own
personality. On the other hand, the mother
still held firm hold of the pomps and pleasures
of this wicked world.

It is not our intention to describe the
ceremonies by which the warm-hearted young
woman was cut off from all that was dear to her;
our space will better be devoted to the
experience she gained by the fatal step.

The examination (in this case performed by
the vicar-general of the church at Naples)
previous to pronouncing the vows was originally
intended to ascertain whether the novice were
acting at complete liberty. But as everything
in this world is apt to degenerate, it is now a
mere formality.

To avoid the case of the girl's expressing, in
the course of her examination, her dislike to the
condition which she is embracing either through
the constraint of her parents, the cajoleries of
her confessor, or crosses in love, clerical
diplomacy orders that the scapulary be instantly torn
from the novice who hesitates in the course of
this trial, and that she be banished from the
convent for four-and-twenty hours, with the
rebuke, " Go and keep company with the lost
and abandoned! You are unworthy to live with
the spouses of Christ." This degrading insult,
which no girl would have the courage to brave,
renders the novitiate a useless preliminary, and
binds her hand and foot the moment she has
entered it.

It was proposed to secure Enrichetta, while
still a novice, through the agency of an
unusually adroit confessor, a canon some forty
years of age, with expressive and extremely
changeable features, who, if he were not, fully
deserved to be, a Jesuit.

After a multitude of compliments and
ceremonies, he carelessly asked the young lady's
name, her position in life, and several other
particulars. Then, crossing his legs and rubbing
his hands, he added, " I suppose, signorina, you
have quite decided to be a nun ?"

"No, father."

"And why not?"

"Because seclusion is most distasteful to

"With time, you will become so accustomed
to this pleasant prison, that nothing on earth
could make you leave it. You did not then
enter the convent voluntarily ?"

"No; my mother compelled me to it."

"Ah! your mother compelled you to it!"

After this exclamation, he appeared for a
moment plunged in deep thought. He proceeded:
"Tell me, signorina, have you ever been in


"What was your object when in love?"

"To marry the man whom I loved."

"Him, and no other man? Will you open
your heart to me completely?"

"I have never had anything in view but

"And how has your love concluded?"

"I have been deserted by those I loved."

"Remark, my daughter," he then exclaimed,
"remark the difference between a worldly and a
heavenly spouse. One abandons you in spite of
your affection; the other remains faithful to
you, while you regard him not and persist in
repulsing him. One fills the days of your youth
with bitterness, the other would load you
with ineffable and eternal pleasures. He opens
his mansion to you, introduces you to his
family, stretches towards you his open arms, and
desires you to forget, in the sublime consolations
of his love, the afflictions which men have
made you suffer."

"Is it true or not," the lady answered, " that
man was created to live in society? For my
own part, I love the world, and take pleasure in
associating with my fellow-creatures. Moreover,
I do not believe that you yourself have a horror
of the human race; for if such were the case,
why are you here, instead of leading an
anchorite's life in the midst of deserts?"

"To these questions," said the canon, rising
and taking his hat, " I will give you a reply at
our next conference."

What is the peculiar mark, the characteristic
trait, which distinguishes convents for women
from convents for men? According to Madame
Caracciolo, it is the practice of confession.

In 1571, an ordonnance of Archbishop Carafa
closed all the women's convents within his
jurisdiction to monks, and allowed them to receive
secular priests only as confessors. " This
reform," Sister Fulvia's Chronicle records,
" discontented all the nuns; because the monks
displayed so much piety, that we could never
believe secular priests could become equally
familiar with claustral discipline."

If the practice of confession is simple and
easy for monks, it is quite a different thing for
nuns. It is an affair which absorbs them day
and night, incessantly occupies their thoughts,
and supplies inexhaustible employment for
every leisure hour. Little by little it becomes
for them the sine quâ non of their existence,
an occult science which is acquired in the
silence of the cloister both by personal experience
and mutual instruction. Suppose a council
of the Church to suppress the supreme
delights of the confessional in women's convents,
the State need trouble itself no further about
future laws against monachism. Women's
convents, at least, would close of themselves
before many weeks were over.