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“Miss Maitland, you and my mother were once dear friends, and not in any mere sentimentality, but in a real feeling-a bond—which is the purest and strongest that Heaven can bestow, that of one faith and one God."
A smile of pride and joy came over her countenance as she continued—“My mother died as she had lived, adoring and believing in the worship that was bequeathed to her by her ancestors. Oh, Miss Maitland, it is very hard to bear the reverses of fortune and the contumely of this world, and whatever bitter fate life may have in store, still”— her face was beautiful now with enthusiasm, energy and emotion—"all this would be as nothing, if my former faith were still mine. What can or ought to change that? In all other things we may be trivial, as long as we remain steadfast in that, for it is God's unchangeable gift and solace to man's heart in all things, times, and places. Bear with me awhile, Miss Maitland, for a great grief has come to my heart since it has convinced itself that you -you, so good, so beloved, so true in all else—have forsaken the faith in which you once so trustingly believed. Our unhappy conquered country has nothing left to it of the past but its religion, which was that of all civilised nations, till that man, Luther, came and upset it for his own purposes."
“Catherine! how can you allow your reason to overcome your judgment ? To him—to Luther, what do we not owe ? Only think of the precious, the inestimable benefit he has bestowed upon us—an open Bible, for all people to read, mark, learn, and be guided by. They want no other counsellor. That has been given by inspiration of God, and His glory alone ought to be the motive of all human actions. Only think, Catherine, of the thousands of ignorant souls in this our unhappy land, who have never heard that Word, except in a tongue foreign to them, and then only such portions of it as their priests may think fit to choose."
“But one must not do evil that good may come of it, and Luther did so. He broke a vow registered in heaven, which should have been sacred, a vow which, in an hour of peril, he voluntarily took upon himself.”
“Yet think, child, that it was faith, conviction, and inspiration, that induced him to break it. Oh, think, Catherine, what his sufferings, his struggles, must have been, before he did so. What fear! what abnegation! and, above all, think how God must have been with him to bring about that great—"
Before she could finish the sentence, it was taken up by Catherine
“ You would say the Reformation ?”
Her eyes dilated, and her voice had a choking sound as she pronounced the hated word.
“Oh, how blest was this land before it came! We cannot roam any distance amid our green and neglected plains without seeing the ruins of some ancient church or monastery. At the time when the Reformation reached our shores, they were all flourishing; no tax was levied to build up or sustain them, for the revenues of the Church supplied all; but when it came, they passed into other hands, that let the churches go to ruin ; and when they had allowed them to do so, they then turned round on us Catholics, and by Act of Parliament made us rebuild them. Shame! shame! What if it did bring a new doctrine ? it brought also much that was bad with it; for the immorality and vice that followed were its most striking features ; a disregard of every law of man characterised it, for if men became better in faith, they also became worse in works.”
Catherine now ceased speaking from mere exhaustion and excitement, while Miss Maitland, in a calm assured voice, said
“ Catherine, you know that there are light and shade, sunshine and cloud, over all things, both good and evil; yet we do not ask why it is so, because we know
that it must be. We should not always accept the dark side of philosophy. Do you not know that many things, good, wise, and pure in themselves, can have false interpretations put upon them by man's sophisms and distrust ? We must believe in the good because we know it to be so, without analysing it; and reject vice because we feel it to be vice. “To the pure all things are pure. Let this be the case with you, my child. Truth will speak for herself through all ages, and through all changes, as she has done; and let us be thankful that it is so.
“Now, we will not talk any more upon this point, for it only excites enmity between us, and that is extremely painful to me, as I am sure it must be to you, my dear Catherine. You know, dear, that the best of friends have seldom been known to agree, when the subject between them has been either religion or politics; only, in concluding, I should like to say a few more words to you.
“A few years back, at a period when I was almost
“ broken-hearted and past hope of consolation, Providence pointed out a way to me that I had never dreamed of before.
“One day I happened to be strolling along one of the picturesque green lanes that are met with in the neighbourhood of almost every English village. It was a Sunday morning, and upon reaching the end of the lane a country church stood before me, surrounded by its old-fashioned burial-ground, over which many a spreading willow threw its wide sheltering boughs. I approached to look at some of the old tombstones, when an unaccountable feeling prompted me to enter the church, and sit down upon one of the seats near the door, where I imagined I was less likely to be observed, and, as it happened, before the sermon had begun, for the clergyman was just in the act of entering the pulpit.
“The subject chosen for his discourse was taken
from the Sermon on the Mount: When ye pray, use no vain repetition, as the heathen do, for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking.' I need not dwell, Catherine, upon the simple, beautiful manner in which it was explained,
, nor the serious impression it made upon me. Suffice to say, it induced me to go many following Sundays, till at last my heart and my reason were both touched and convinced, that there is only one Mediator between God and man. All the past years of my life that had been given to praying to images, were from that time forth looked upon by me as something so false, so humiliating, shewing such a want of confidence and trust in a higher Power, that I could only wonder, and regret the years that I had bestowed upon an imaginary worship. But how different it is now ! "
As she finished speaking, a smile of peace and thankfulness came over her countenance, Catherine meanwhile gazing at her with a reproachful look, that partook of fear, doubt, and pity. Margaret Maitland understood it well, and went on to another subject.
“Do you know, dear, that Mr. Herbert has been over to see Edward, who seems to like him rather better than he did at first ?" Then, remarking Catherine's stare of astonishment, she continued, “ Pray don't look so horrorstruck, child. You know that Edward is a cosmopolite, and for that reason finds one nation as good as another."
“I am not so liberal in my sentiments, Miss Maitland, for I can appreciate likes and dislikes, and therefore feel no sympathy with negative people, who for the most part are either opinionless or brainless. I like a good hater, when necessity requires it.”
“My dear Catherine, whatever your prejudices against English people may be, individually I don't think you ought to encourage such, as perhaps you are aware that you yourself are connected (though distantly) with some of them, consequently they have a slight claim upon your indulgence."
“Can you wonder, Miss Maitland, at my hatred of a nation that has betrayed us in the tenderest and holiest feelings of the human heart? Look around this once blessed and beautiful country, now almost a desolate wilderness. How came it to be so? Was it not the work of treachery, that spared neither age nor sex? England, that robbed the Catholics of Ireland of their rights, and by so doing, shut them out from all knowledge and universal enterprise, how has she not degraded us! and having done so, she then, in the spirit of cowardice, reproached us with our misfortunes. After having taken all from us, she insulted us. Let us have at least equality and a free Church, for without, Ireland will never be at peace.'
“ That would never do, Catherine, we cannot; besides, you forget that forty thousand English Protestants were massacred by the Irish Catholics in the Rebellion of 1641."
Oh, no, I do not-nor that the Roman Catholics were afterwards put to death by way of retaliation. I have a very faithful memory for such things.”
“But you know, child, that Ireland, at the time Henry II. conquered it, had degenerated, and was almost in a state of barbarism, while its several kings were continually at war amongst themselves, and that one of them-I blush to say it, as you will to hear itsold his kingdom to England."
“That may be, yet, before this faithless king betrayed her, she was free from all foreign invasion, and led a peaceful, happy life, devoted to piety and learning. No, Miss Maitland, I shall never cease to hate the English as a nation-never! And surely you must be aware of what the revenues of the Irish Roman Catholic Church are composed ?-pence, patches, and potatoes, things that even in themselves are humiliating. Then look at our places of Worship, roofless hovels, tumbledown barns; and to think that this religion includes nearly a third of the population-monstrous! While this new