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Astræa hath possest

An earthly seat, and now remains
In Finch's heart, but Wentworth's breast

That guest contains :
With her she dwells, yet hath not left the skies,
Nor lost her sphere, for, new-enthroned, she cries,
I know no heaven but fair Westworth's eyes.”

CHAP. XV.

THE EXCOMMUNICANT.

ONE morning, after a long debate in the House of Commons on the Catholic question, the Nymph and the Bachelor fell into conversation in reading the report of the speeches in the Morning Chronicle. “ I think,” said she, “ that none of the orators venture to touch the marrow of this important subject.”

" How! what do you mean ?” replied Benedict, anticipating, from the tone in which she had made the remark, something paradoxical," what other marrow is there in the subject, than that the law as it stands deprives millions of their undoubted political rights ?”

“ The law as it stands, you ought rather to say, prevents those millions from disturbing public affairs, merely because such is the state and circumstances of their minds, that they can neither reason nor exercise their judgment like other men.--There can be

no emancipation of the Catholic but by himself.—He should show that he is as free a moral agent as the rest of the species, before he can hope that they will permit him to take a part in their common affairs.”

“ In what way,” said the Bachelor, “ are they to do this? I am sure in all things the Roman Catholic shows himself as much a man, and as good a subject, as any other Christian.”

“ He does no such thing,” replied the Nymph, somewhat fervently, at hearing her beloved repeat this stale assertion.“ In the first place, he acknowledges a power to reside in other men, which, were he in a condition to exercise his judgment freely, he would feel himself obliged to confess is not consistent with human nature. I mean the priestly remission of sin ;-and, moreover, in believing the irrational doctrine of transubstantiation, he denies the evidence of his own senses. Now, what sort of confidence should we be disposed to give to a person, who asserted that he was intrusted with supernatural powers, and maintained that fire was ice,-treating with contempt the opinion, that supernatural power can never be possessed by man, and asserting that all deserved eternal perdition who did not believe that the fire which he called ice, in despite of the sensations of touch and vision, was ice ?”

“ But not to grow polemical,” interrupted the Bachelor," those sort of absurdities are mere speculative opinions, and as such have probably as little influence on the conduct of the Catholic as any theoretical dogma whatever has on that of the more philosophical Protestant. It is therefore hard, that men should be denied their birthright, because they happen to be a little fantastical in their metaphysics.”

“ You have hit the mark,” replied the Nymph briskly; “ The Catholic is just so much more fantastical in his opinions than the Protestant, that it is not fit he should be allowed all the freedom of the Protestant. He is only mad a point or two more: I concede as much. But how much more insane than the heir at law was the Earl of Portsmouth, whom a jury the other day declared incapable of managing his affairs like other men ? Besides, the whole history of Catholicism is a continued demonstration, that it is founded on a depravation of human reason. But only last night I was reading in Fordun, the Scottish historian, an adventure of St Augustine, that I am sure no moderate Catholic of the present day can peruse without feeling, at least, awkwardly, if not ashamed, that his church should countenance such fables.”

ST AUGUSTINE. “ When the blessed Augustine,” says Fordun, “ was preaching the divine word to the Gentiles, according to his custom, he came to a village in the county of Oxford, Six miles distant from a place celebrated at this time, and called Vudiflix Cumentona ; there came to him a priest of the same town, saying, “Reverend father and lord, I inform your holiness that the lord of this property, though by me admonished with many exhortations, will never consent to pay to the holy church of God the tithe of those things which the celestial bounty has conferred upon him. Moreover, having often threatened him with sentence of excommunication, I find him more rebellious and obstinate than before : let your

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holiness therefore see what is to be done.' When St Augustine heard this, he made the soldier be brought before him, and said, What is this that I hear of thee? O son, wherefore do you refuse to render tithes to God, the giver of all good things, and to the holy church? Are you ignorant that they are not yours but God's ? Therefore do thou with a ready and willing mind pay thankfully thy debt to Almighty God, lest the severe sentence of a rigorous judge should in the following year take from thee for thine obstinacy, that from whence thou shouldst pay it. At this the soldier being irritated, with the spur of anger, replied to the man of God: Who, said he, cultivated the land ? who supplied the seed for it? who caused the ripe corn to be cut down? was it not I ? All men therefore may know that he who has the nine sheafs shall have the tenth also. To whom St Augustine, Speak not thus, my son ! for I would not have thee ignorant, that if thou refusest to give thy tithes, according to the custom of the faithful and the tradition of the holy fathers, without doubt I shall excommunicate thee. And this being said, he turned to the Lord's table, that he might celebrate divine service. And he said before all the people, with a loud voice, On the part of God, I command that no excommunicated person presume to be present at the solemnities of mass. Which when he had said, a thing marvellous and ung heard of in former ages happened. For in the very enti trance of the church a buried corpse arose, and going out of the cemetery, stood there immovable, as long as the holy man was celebrating the solemnities of mass. Which when he had concluded, the faithful who were then present, being made almost beside themselves, came trembling to the blessed pontiff, and related what had befallen. To whom he said, Fear not ! but let the standard of the cross of the Lord go before us, and holy water also, and let us see what this may be which is

shown us. So the pious pastor preceding, the affrighted sheep of Christ went with him to the entrance of the . burial place, and seeing the black and hideous corpse, he said, I command you in the name of the Lord, that you tell me who you are, and wherefore you come here to delude the people of Christ ? To whom the corpse made answer, I have not come here to affright the people, neither to deceive them, most holy father Augustine; but when on the part of God you commanded, that no excommunicated person should be present at the solemnities of mass, then the angels of God, who always are the companions of your journeys, cast me from the place where I was buried, saying, that Augustine, the friend of God, had commanded the stinking flesh to be cast out of the church. For in the time of the Britons, before the fury of the heathen Angles had laid waste this kingdom, I was the patron of this town: and, although I was admonished often by the priest of this church, yet I never would consent to give my tithes ; but at last, being condemned by him in the sentence of excommunication, ah ! me miserable! in the midst of these things I was cut off, and being buried in the place from whence I have now risen, I delivered up my soul to the infernal demons, continually to be tormented with hell fires. Then all who were present wept when they heard this : and the saint himself, plentifully bedewing his face with tears, and manifesting the great grief of his heart by frequent sighs, said to him, Knowest thou the place where the priest who excommunicated thee was buried ? He answered that he knew it well, and that he had his grave in that same cemetery. Augustine said, Go before us then, and show us the place.

The dead man then went before, and came to a certain place nigh unto the church, where there appeared no sign of any sepulchre, the bishop and all the people following him. And he said with a clear voice, Behold

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