Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

THE FELON BUSH.

as a householder in a 'neighbourhood -the duty of condemnation of errors than in measures for their trying to diffuse a happy state of feeling instead of the prevention, among which, they may be assured, none opposite, may well come upon us with a deeper sense, able and innocent happiness. By this the lives of men

can be more effectual than the promotion of a reasonif we remember what are the ultimate effects of our are made more healthy; their dependence on hurtful conduct—that these are really a life and death matter stimulants is lessened; they become altogether a more to our neighbours. None of us, it is to be presumed, satisfactory spectacle to both God and man. wish to murder our neighbours. Well, but consider that to take from their happiness in any sensible degree is

FRENCH JUSTICE IN ALGERIA. to shorten their expectation or chance of life. Is it not, then, a partial murder to make them unhappy ? Make them, on the contrary, happy even in the smallest SCENE I.—The interior audience-chamber, presided degree, cheer them with but a kind word, lessen by the over by the French Resident, who is surrounded by simplest act of friendly help the load of their cares, his suite. Inside-the každs and other native official and you positively add to their days upon the face of personages ; outside-complainants, witnesses, messenthe earth. Can you in any way come nearer to the gers, and the whole medley of the Arab population.

French Resident. (To his chaouch-a sort of beadle, power of divinity itself, than in thus doing what in you lies to foster and prolong what divinity alone can constable, and crier united.) Admit a complainant.

The Chaouch. Instantly. (He opens the door, and give?

leads in by the arm a young man tolerably well The humblest person may also exercise an influence dressed, with a pale face, a sprouting beard, very in this matter by the opinions regarding it which he restless eyes, and in general aspect timid and embarforms, avows, and acts upon. It is to be feared that rassed. The youth casts an uncertain glance over with many, happiness is not a thing quite respected as the assembly, and begins shouting, without knowing it ought to be. They confound it with pleasure, or where to address himself.) they are more disposed to think of the serious than of

Plaintiff. I have been robbed! I have been robbed! the cheerful parts of life. The puritan view actuates did the robbery take place ?

F. R. Of what have you been robbed? And where some: there is even such a thing as a puritan severity

P. (Without attending to the question.) I come without any visible connection with religion-solely to make a complaint. I have been robbed. (He turns from natural austerity, or from twisted and perverse his head in every direction, not knowing to whom he sentiments. Thus in many ways, even to the enactment has replied, and seems completely in a maze.) of laws, a check is imposed on the happiness of society.

Chaouch. But don't you see? Look towards the We would most respectfully appeal to all the well-Agha (the title the Arabs generally give to the chief meaning, but erring mortals here concerned, to reflect officer of the bureau), since he is the person you have on what it is to deliberately will that such and such to address. There ; see where he is! Turn yourself

in that direction. people shall be less happy than they seem inclined to P. I invoke Allah and his justice! I invoke Allah be, or, what comes to the same thing, that they shall and his justice! I invoke Allah and his justice! I only be happy in a certain prescribed way. There may have been robbed ! be some unpleasant-looking adjuncts in the case. A F. R. You have already said so. But answer me. thousand people cannot meet in one place for any of what have you been robbed ? and in what tribe did kind of pastime, but there will be some rude and the robbery take place ? reckless emotions amongst them. They may not

P. I beg your pardon. I do not understand you. always eat and drink what is sure to do them good.

(Shouting)- I do not understand French.

F. R. But I fancied I spoke to you in the purest Still the great question remains, is there not more possible Arabic. You cannot have listened attenbenefit from the happiness they have had together, than tively. (Raising his voice)—Open your ears; I am harm from these little drawbacks? And it may also speaking to you in Arabic, and not in French. be asked, can we safely dispense with the happiness, C. (To the plaintiff.) How's this! Don't you even were it only to be purchased at a greater cost? know he is speaking Arabic ?--he speaks it better Can human beings be moral, without being allowed a

than you or I. By the head of the prophet, your certain daily pabulum of happiness, as well as other senses must be turned topsy-turvy. necessaries ? It is much to be feared not: at least, dressed French fashion, he talked in the same way.

P. (To the chaouch.) I thought that as he was we have always found that a too austere frame of life, But I did understand the last words he said. True; imposed upon them by whatever force, and for howso- he speaks Arabic. That will be convenient for the ever good purposes, only led to a reaction in which all settlement of my business. decent restraints were swept away. There is one

F. R. Well, then, since you understand me now, thing, too, which very good people never think of, but just answer my first questions. Of what have you which they ought seriously to lay to heart-namely, been robbed? and where did the robbery take place?

P. Bou Tekrouide has stolen my mule. the effects of high-strung virtue, its tastes, habits, and opinions, in creating or promoting the growth of Ouled Medaguin? You doubtless mean to say, some

F. R. What! Bou Tekrouide, the kaïd of the its opposite-as, for example, through the privilege of his people; for he himself lias mules enough without it assumes of avoiding all contact of the erring, or stealing them on the highway. through the discouraging effect of a condemnation Bou Tekrouide. (To the plaintiff.) Ah! Si Hhamed, which they mean to be wholesome, and therefore make you are a mylord (a title ordinarily given by the more severe than the delinquent can own to be just. Arabs to their marabouts, priests, or saints); can you It is doubtless in great part owing to this very cause, really assert that I have ever stolen anything from that there is never so large and wretched a class of

any one ?

P. It was not you; but it was your people. abandoned or refuse people in rude as in civilised F. R. Tell me how the affair happened, that I may communities. We would have the good, then, to try be a little enlightened upon the subject. to work out their good designs and wishes less in the P. (Somewhat more at ease.) I went to borrow a

[ocr errors]

sidi krelil (a law-book) from the Ouled Sidi Calhha, would take good care now how they played such a marabouts of the Ouled Medaguin. I arrived there trick. Some time ago they decided, in their council in the evening at nightfall, and I tied up my mule, of notables, to give up bush-thieving, as carrying without suspicion, at the door of my host's tent. The things a little too far; and therefore I am greatly ground was perfectly naked; there was not a single surprised to hear what has happened to Si Hhamed. hiding-place for thieves. And, besides, I thought that It is really incredible. the Ouled Medaguin, like other people, would respect F. R. It is perfectly credible, according to my ideas. the property of their marabouts, for fear of drawing It is, moreover, a very easy matter to set right; you down the vengeance of Heaven. I went to rest, will tell your people that I allow them a fortnight to then, in perfect tranquillity. During the night, I restore the mule, and to catch the thief. If, at the arose to go and breathe the air, and went up to a end of that time, they have not done so, they shall bush which I met with, at twenty paces' distance reimburse its value to the owner, and pay into the from the tent. When I lay down again, the idea of treasury a fine of ten times that amount. (To Si this bush continued to haunt me. It appeared to me Hhamed)—How much was your mule worth? that I had not seen it on arriving the previous evening. P. My mule! She was the handsomest mule in the Nevertheless, I went to sleep again. A few instants place. Every one will testify that such a mule was afterwards, I was once more awake; and, casting a never seen for perfection of form and swiftness of pace. glance upon my mule, I perceived in front of her a She was worth at least two hundred douros. I refused bush, on which she seemed to be browsing. I looked a hundred and eighty at the last market. towards the position of the other, and could see B. T. Two hundred douros for your mule! May nothing of it. The two bushes were so exactly alike, Sidi-Ben-Abd-Alla blind my eyes and cripple my that the thought struck me that perhaps the ancestor limbs, if she was worth so much as thirty! of the Ouled Sidi Calhha-Allah have mercy upon P. By the justice of the Master of Worlds !-by the him !—had done me the favour to transport the former benediction of the Holy Chamber, I have only spoken to my mule, to replace her straw, which was running the truth! May Sidi-Bou-Krari wither my tongue, short. I could not, in fact, admit the possibility of and punish me to the twentieth generation, if I have the bush's having travelled alone, without the aid of lied ! some supernatural power. I was puzzled and absorbed F. R. In this fashion, I see it is impossible to arrive in my reflections, still gazing at my animal. All on at the truth by means of either testimony. You both a sudden, I observed my bush to shake and tremble; of you swear with equal facility; and the assertion of and then a man got out of it, jumped upon the back the one is as good as that of the other. I shall elseof my mule, and started off at full gallop. I was where obtain information as to the value of the robbed. The bush was a man. It was an Ouled mule; and as that is not required till the interval Medaguin-may Allah curse them! I comprehended allowed the Ouled Medaguinhas elapsed, I shall then, to my sorrow, the marvellous travels of that have plenty of time for it. (To Si Hhamed)-You diabolical bush; and that I should take the air close may now retire; you will return in a fortnight. (To by it, and see nothing all the while! By the benedic- Bou Tekrouide)--And you, remember my conditions. tion of my grandfather, Si Hhamed-Allah have mercy B. T. I will do what Allah has written. Do not upon him!-it is too bad.

require impossibilities. F. R. It is certainly a singular mode of stealing. F.R. I shall know how to appreciate your efforts,

Bou Tekrouide. Gracious Allah! there is nothing at all surprising in it. The Ouled Medaguin are always in that way. I am their kaïd, but I do not attempt to conceal their little failings. They are SCENE II.-A female plaintiff is introduced, a girl of thieves, 'tis true; but that is the very reason why eighteen, beautiful both in face and figure, of the Arab people should be cautious when they pass the night in type in its purest form, and as simply and neatly their company.

dressed as a woman of the middle rank can be. Unlike F. R. A pleasant answer! Are you not aware that the plaintiffs of the other sex, she seems perfectly it is your duty to protect strangers, and that the competent to state her case, and expresses herself orders on this subject are precise? And, then, who with a clearness and decision that are rarely met would mistrust a bush, and suppose it to be the means with in Arab women. It is evident that she is under of such diabolical tricks?

the influence of some genuine and powerful sentiment; B. T. But bush-thieving is well known throughout in other words, that her soul is illumined by a ray of the whole country. (With some pride)-The Ouled faith. She commences speaking, without requiring Medaguin are the inventors of it. Under the Turks, to be interrogated. when the police was inefficient, they practised it on Plaintiff. I am come to you, because here neither a grand scale. I shall never forget the thirty justice nor truth is to be found, except amongst the camels and seventeen mares that were carried off French. It is useless for them to deceive us, and shut in this way in one single night, from a caravan which us up in our tents; we see your works, and we know came from the south to purchase grain. Forty- you well. seven Medaguins, exactly the number of the stolen French Resident. My daughter, your words impress animals, transformed themselves into bushes, and in- me with a favourable opinion of you. Speak without sensibly approached, to be eaten by their future prey, fear; and be assured that everything possible shall be under the very noses of the masters and the watchmen done to aid you. whom they had appointed. Then, at a given signal, P. Oh! I do speak without alarm. It is not here every bush sent forth its man, and every man took that a woman need be afraid—I have never felt more possession of his beast, to the great astonishment of at ease. the people, who believed the whole thing the work F. R. Quite right, my child. What complaint have of the devil, and took the Ouled Medaguins to be you to make? Has any injustice been done to you? his ministering demons.

P. I will tell you all, and that truly; for you are F. R. Faith! they were not far from the truth. the only one who can understand me, and support my The devil alone can have sent into the world such rights. My name is Ourida Bent Douni; I am the people as the Ouled Medaguin. Is there no possibility daughter of Douni Ben, the khhab of the tribe of the of improving them, except by utter extermination ? Beni Todjar, and I have to complain of my own

B. T. Oh, but they are greatly changed, ever since father, who wants to force me to marry his neighbour, you have governed the country. Certainly, they Mammar Belasenan, an ugly and infirm old man.

ARAB LOVE.

F. R. How came your father to entertain so unfor more pointedly affirmative, but certainly shriller, than tunate an idea ? Could he be seduced by the dowry the former one.) After your mutual consent, in the offered hy Belasenan? Does he wish, like so many name of Allah, who has inspired your love, I declare others, to sacrifice his child for a few crowns ?

you man and wife. (To the kadi)-Draw up the act P. No; the dowry has nothing to do with this affair. of marriage immediately. My father wishes to marry Belasenan's daughter; and The Kadi. (A little out of countenance.) But, Belasenan refuses to yield her, except on condition Sidi, Sidi Krelil, in the chapter on the union of the that I am given in exchange. I have resisted this sexeswith all my strength; because the man to whom I am F. R. My friend, I know very well what Sidi Krelil to be transferred fills me with aversion. My refusal says. He would direct me to restore the daughter to has brought upon me my father's anger, with blows her father, and, in spite of her repugnance and her and bad treatment of every description. They bound protestations, would make her marry a man whom she me fast. Here; look at my arms still bruised by the detests, and who is old enough to be her grandfather. rope, which I broke-or rather which the plaintiff But, then, you easily foresee what would happen if I here falls into a most becoming state of embarrass- were mad enough to follow his rules. Either Belasement)—which was broken for me. For, without that nan would murder this poor girl, or else she would aid, I know not what would have become of me. elope with the man whom she loves, thereby causing a

F. R. Let us see, my child; lay aside all bashfulness. great public scandal. Is not the dilemma plain to you It is desirable you should tell me what that aid was, all? (Here a slight murmur of assent arises in the although I fancy I can guess it. Since you seem to assembly, piercing the thick strata of prejudice which understand our nation so well, you ought to know that envelop it.) Now, since by obeying the law you want a sincere attachment is always respected and honoured to revive, I cause an evil or a crime; and since by amongst us, and that we despise only hypocrisy and violating its directions, I produce nothing but good, falsehood. Speak without hesitation. Tell me all is it not better to take the latter alternative? you have on your mind.

The Kadi. But it is nevertheless written in the P. (With a burst of natural feeling.) Yes; I will commentaries of Sidi El Khhal, thattell him. And why not? Ought I to conceal any- F. R. Your Sidi El Khhal tells us no more about thing from you? It was not I myself who broke my the matter than Sidi Krelil. Those who make laws, bonds; I had not sufficient strength for that. It was and those who write commentaries upon them, can Hhabib Oulid Galb, a brave horseman, and one of your say but one and the same thing; namely, that they Makrezen.

must be obeyed. But when a law is not in harmony F. R. Whom you prefer to Belasenan, do you not? with the human heart, it is constantly violated, how

P. Yes; I love him. Why not avow it? What ever cruel may be the penalties which enforce it. harm is there in that ? I had much rather die at The law in question has been absurdly enacted in once, than belong to any other man than him ! flagrant opposition to the human heart; and one of

F. R. Good, very good, my child; your sincerity the two, either the law or the human heart, must and openness of heart do you the greatest possible necessarily sometimes give way. The law has yielded honour. I give you my word, you shall have satis- in the present instance, and why? Because the law faction. But let me have a full and clear explanation: is the work of man, while the human heart is the did Qulid Galb carry you off?

work of Allah. But I fear you do not comprehend P. Oh, I am not ashamed to tell you all. We have this logic. loved each other for more than a year, ever since The Chiefs (in chorus, nine-tentlıs of whom fancy Ben Tâm's wedding, where he saw me dance with the they are listening to a Chinese oration). What admirwomen of the tribe, and where I witnessed his per- able words! It is the spirit of Allah speaking by formance of the exercises better than any other rider your mouth! of all the assembled goums. Afterwards, being aware F. R. (To the kadi.) Well! Does your conscience of my father's violent temper, he often tried to per- now permit you to draw up the act in question ? suade me to elope with him. I always refused : but The Kadi (in a fit of common sense, which now and my patience was at last exhausted. On finding myself | then seizes him). By the justice of Allah! With all bound fast and beaten, I sent Bent Soudan, our my heart. It can do nothing but good. negress, to inform him; but I swear, by the head of the F. R. Note well, all you who hear me. I wish the prophet, that we came at once straight to you. Arabs practised less the crimes of falsehood, theft, and

F. R. I believe you. He accompanied you hither. murder, and more frequently married the women they He is here, then ?

love. P. Yes, certainly, he is here; but of course he did The Chiefs (in chorus, with a charming smile, before not dare to present himself with me.

which the last layer of prejudice promises to vanish). Orders are immediately given for the introduction Sidi Boukrari ! I call that speaking! of Oulid Galb, who does not keep the court wait- Ben Safi. Oh, certainly. You do quite right in ing long. He is a handsome young man, with a marrying this poor girl. I know her father, who is countenance at once mild and energetic, and in an old curmudgeon that would skin his own child alive complete and orderly horseman's costume. A glance for a douro. is sufficient to justify the plaintiff in preferring him F. R. I never had any doubts on that subject. (To to the decrepit Belasenan. His attitude betrays a | the kadi)—Where is the act ? There is no need to certain degree of uneasiness, but only from the fear mention any dowry for the father ; for if he should lest his wishes should be disappointed.

come to claim it, you will tell him that the blows P. (To the cavalier.) Fear nothing. I have told he gave his daughter will be reckoned as a set-off the Agha all : he knows everything.

against it. Oulid Galb. (Evidently more at his ease.) Glory The kadi draws up the act, with the usual forms, to Allah! You were right to tell him ; for, as for gravity, and spectacles. The precious paper is then me, I should have found some difficulty in doing so. presented, by the French resident himself, to the new.

F. R. Very well. I see I shall be able to make married couple, who, in their eagerness to seize it, short work of it. (To Oulid)—Will you marry run a risk of tearing it in pieces. Glories to Allah, this woman? (The young man shouts the most cries of joy, and innumerable benedictions, flow from decided “Yes!' that ever was heard under like cir. their mouths. They depart at last, after two or three cumstances.) And you : will you take this man for times mistaking their way out, in their delirium of your husband? (Ourida emits another ‘Yes!’ not happiness. The assembly, involuntarily affected by

the scene, and unused to a sincere display of warm doubt 'the speeches which she had spoken came and natural sentiment, are decidedly satisfied with of God; and bidding him keep him diligent account of this daring violation of the law.

all her utterances.' Cobb, the bailiff, being encouraged by such high authority, would not keep any longer

in his kitchen a prophetess with the archbishop's THE NUN OF KENT.

imprimatur upon her; and so, on returning, as soon In the year 1525, Henry VIII. being king, there as the girl was sufficiently recovered from her illness lived in the parish of Aldington, in Kent, a certain to leave her bed, he caused her to sit at his own table Thomas Cobb, bailiff or steward of the archbishop of with his mistress and the parson. The story spread Canterbury, who possessed an estate there. Among rapidly through the country; inquisitive foolish the servants of this Thomas Cobb was a country girl people came about her to try her skill with questions; called Elizabeth Barton-a decent person, so far as and her illness, as she subsequently confessed, having one can learn, but of mere ordinary character, and then left her, and only her reputation remaining, she until that year having shewn nothing unusual in her bethought herself whether it might not be possible temperament. She was then, however, attacked by to preserve it a little longer. “Perceiving herself to some disease, which reduced her, after many months be much made of, to be magnified and much set by, of suffering, to that abnormal and singular condition by reason of trifling words spoken unadvisedly by in which she exhibited the phenomena known to idleness of her brain, she conceived in her mind that modern wonder-seekers under the name of somnam- having so good success, and furthermore from so small bulism or clairvoyance. The scientific value of such an occasion, and nothing to be esteemed, she might phenomena is still undetermined; but that they are adventure further to enterprise, and essay what she not purely imaginary, is generally agreed. In the could do, being in good advisement and remembrance.' histories of all countries and of all times, we are So it is written of her in a Rolls House manuscript. familiar with accounts of young women of bad health Her fits no longer recurred naturally, but she was and irritable nerves, who have manifested at recurring able to reproduce either the reality or the appearance periods certain unusual powers; and these exhibitions of them; and she continued to improvise her oracles have had especial attraction for superstitious persons. with such ability as she could command, and with In the sixteenth century, when demoniacal possession tolerable success. was the explanation received of ordinary insanity, it! In this undertaking she was speedily provided with would not seem illogical to recognise in a manifestation an efficient coadjutor. The Catholic Church had for still more uncommon, the presence of a supernatural some time been rather unproductive of miracles, and agency; and we cannot easily make too great allowance as heresy was raising its head and attracting converts, for the moral derangement likely to follow, when a so favourable an occurrence as the present was not weak girl found herself suddenly possessed of powers to be allowed to pass without results. The archbishop which she was unable to comprehend. Bearing this in sent his comptroller to the prior of Christchurch at mind, the story we are proceeding to relate will not be Canterbury, with directions that two monks whom he altogether unintelligible.

especially named-Doctor Bocking, the cellarer, and This Elizabeth Barton, it seems, 'in the trances, of Dan William Hadley—should go to Aldington to which she had divers and many, consequent upon observe. At first, not knowing what was before them, her illness, told wondrously things done and said in both prior and monks were unwilling to meddle with other places whereat she was neither herself present, the matter. Beginning to inquire into it, however, nor yet had heard report thereof.' To simple-minded they soon perceived to what account it might be turned. people, under the beliefs then impressed by the church, Bocking-selected, no doubt, from previous knowledge the natural explanation of such a marvel was, that of his qualities—was a man devoted to his order, and she must be possessed either by the Holy Ghost or not over-scrupulous as to the means of furthering its by the devil. The archbishop's bailiff, not feeling interests. He quickly discovered material in Elizabeth himself able to decide in a case of so much gravity, Barton too rich to be allowed to waste itself in a called in the advice of the parish priest, one Richard country village. Whether he himself believed in her Masters; and together they observed carefully all that or not, he was anxious to insure the belief of others, fell from her. The girl had been hitherto well disposed, and lie therefore set himself to assist her inspiration as the priest probably knew; she had been brought towards more effective utterance. Conversing with up religiously; and her mind running upon what was her in her intervals of quiet, he discovered that she most familiar to it, she spake words of marvellous was wholly ignorant, and unprovided with any stock holyness in rebuke of sin and vice ;' or, as another of mental or imaginative furniture; and that conseaccount says, she spake very godly certain things quently her prophecies were without body, and too concerning the seven deadly sins and th ten com- indefinite to be theologically available. This defect mandments. This seemed satisfactory as to the source he remedied by instructing her in the Catholic legends, of inspiration. It was clearly not a devil that spoke and by acquainting her with the revelations of certain words against sin, and therefore, as there was no female saints. In these women she found an enlarged other alternative, it was plain that God had visited reflection of herself ; the details of their visions enriched her. Her powers being thus assuredly from Heaven, her imagery; and being provided with such fair it was plain also, by a natural sequence of reasoning, examples, she was able to shape herself into fuller that she held some divine commission, of which her resemblance to the traditionary models. clairvoyance, or whatever it was, was the miracle in As she became more proficient, Father Bocking attestation.

extended his lessons to the Protestant controversy, What the commission might be, was not immediately which was then in its early stages of agitation; initiconjectured; but it was obvious that an occurrence of ating his pupil into the mysteries of justification, such moment was not to be kept concealed in the sacramental grace, and the power of the keys. The parish of Aldington ; the priest mounted his horse, adept damsel redelivered his instructions to the world and rode post-haste to Lambeth with the news to thé in her moments of possession; and the world, with its archbishop of Canterbury; and the story having lost great discernment, discovered a miraculous manifestnothing of its marvel by the way, the archbishop-ation in the marvellous utterances of the untaught poor old Warham-who was fast sinking into dotage, peasant. Lists of these pregnant sayings were forinstead of ordering a careful inquiry, and appointing warded regularly to the archbishop, some of which may soine competent person to conduct it, listened with still lie mouldering in the Lambeth library. It is idle greedy interest ; assuring Father Richard that beyond to inquire how far the girl was as yet conscious of

falsehood. She was probably deep in lying before she indulging the curiosity of foolish persons who desired · was aware of it. Fanaticism and deceit are curiously to consult her, and for both services consenting to be

related to each other; and not unfrequently is a paid. The church had by this time spread her repudeceiver the person first deceived, and the last who is tation through all England. The book of her oracles, aware of the imposture.

which soon extended to a considerable volume, was Father Bocking's instructions had made her ac even shewn by Archbishop Warham to the king. quainted, amongst other things, with sundry stories of Henry sent it as a curiosity to Sir Thomas More, miraculous cures. The healing of diseases by super- desiring him to look at it, and give an opinion on its natural means was a matter of ordinary belief, and merits. More pronounced it 'a right poor production, seemed a more orthodox form of credential than the such as any simple woman might speak of her own mere faculty of second-sight, which alone the girl wit;' and Henry himself is said to have 'esteemed the had hitherto exhibited. Being now cured of her real matter as light as it afterwards proved lewd.' But disorder, yet able to counterfeit the appearance of it, the world in general was less critical. ‘Divers and she could find no difficulty in arranging in her own many, as well great men of the realm as mean men, case a miracle of the established kind, and so striking and many learned men, but specially many religious an incident would obviously answer a further end. In men, had great confidence in her, and often resorted the parish was a chapel of the Virgin, which was a to her.'* They consulted her much as to the will of place of pilgrimage; the pilgrims added something to God touching the heresies and schisms in the realm ;' the income of the priest; and if, by a fresh demon- to which questions, her answers, being dictated by her stration of the Virgin's presence at the spot, the confessor, were all which the most eager churchman number of these pilgrims could be increased, they could desire. Her position becoming more and more would add more. For both reasons, therefore, the established, her visions, which had formerly been miracle was desired; and the priest and the monk occasional, took a shape of regularity. Once a fortwere agreed that any means were justifiable which night, she was taken up into heaven, mingling in the would encourage the devotion of the people. Accord. spirit with saints and angels, and reporting of heavenly ingly, the girl announced, in one of her trances, that delights. The place of ascent was usually the priory she would never take health of her body till such chapel, to which it was essential, therefore, that she time as she had visited the image of our Lady' in that should have continual access, and which, in consechapel. The Virgin had herself appeared to her, she quence, she was allowed to enter at her pleasure. said, and fixed a day for her appearance there, and What she was accustomed to do there, when alone, had promised to present herself in person, and take was never clearly known; but she related many away her disorder. The day came, and a vast con- startling stories, not always of the most decent kind, course of people had been collected by the holy fathers touching attempts made by the devil to lead her more to be witnesses of the marvel. The girl was con or less astray. Devils and angels, indeed, alternately ducted to the chapel by a procession of more than two visited her cell; and on one occasion, Satan burnt a thousand persons, headed by the monk, the clergyman, mark upon her hand, which she exhibited publicly, and many other religious persons, the whole multitude and to which the monks were in the habit of appealing “singing the Litany, and saying divers psalms and when there were any signs of scepticism in the visitors orations by the way.'

to the priory. On the occasion of these infernal And when she was brought thither,' says the record, visits, exceedingly unsavoury smokes' were seen to and laid before the image of our Lady, her face was issue from her chamber; with which, however, it was wonderfully disfigured, her tongue hanging out, and suspected subsequently that a quantity of brimstone her eyes being in a manner plucked out and laid upon and asafetida, found among her properties, had been her cheeks, and so greatly deformed. There was then in some way connected. But as yet the dupes of the heard & voice speaking within her belly, as it had imposture had no suspicion of a trick; and she was been in a tonne, her lips not greatly moving; she all held up by the clergy as a witness, accredited by that while continuing by the space of three hours or miracles, to the truth of the old faith, a living evidence more in a trance. The which voice, when it told of to shame and confound the infidelity of the Protestant anything of the joys of heaven, spake so sweetly and sectaries. She became a figure of great and singular so heavenly, that every man was ravished with the significance; a 'wise woman,' to whom persons of the hearing thereof; and contrary wise, when it told any- highest rank were not ashamed to have recourse to thing of hell, it spake so horribly and terribly, that it inquire the will of God, and to ask the benefit of put the hearers in a great fear. It spake also many her intercessory prayers, for which also they did things for the confirmation of pilgrimages and trentals, not fail to pay at a rate commensurate with their hearing of masses and confession, and many other credulity. such things. And after she had lyen there a long This position the Nun of Kent, as she was now time, she came to herself again, and was perfectly called, had achieved for herself, when the question whole. So this miracle was finished and solemnly was first agitated touching the divorce of his wife, sung; and a book was written of all the whole story Catherine of Aragon, by Henry VIII. The monks thereof, and put into print; which ever since that at the Canterbury priory eagerly espoused the side of time hath been commonly sold, and gone abroad among the queen, and the nun's services were at once in the people.'*

active requisition. Absurd as the stories of her reveThe miracle successfully accomplished, Aldington lations may seem to us, she conducted herself, in the was considered to be no longer a fit residence for a dangerous course on which she now entered, with the saint so favoured and distinguished. The Virgin, it utmost audacity and adroitness. The pope and the seems, informed her that she was to leave the bailiff's English bishops had hesitated about pronouncing house, and devote herself exclusively to religious ser- Henry's marriage with his brother's widow inviolable vices. She was to be thenceforth • Sister Elizabeth,' or the contrary; but the nun issued boldly, in the especial favourite of the Virgin Mary; and Father name and by the authority of God,' a solemn proBocking was to be her spiritual father. The priory hibition against his majesty; threatening that, if he of St Sepulchre's, Canterbury, was chosen for the divorced his wife, he should not 'reign a month, but place of her profession; and as soon as she was estab- should die a villain's death.' Burdened with this lished in her cell, she became a recognised priestess or message, she forced herself into the presence of Henry prophetess, alternately communicating revelations, or himself; and when she failed to produce any effect

* Letter of Cranmer.

* 25 Henry VIII. cap. 12,

« AnteriorContinuar »