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society at home, of which your husband should be the father and yourself the mother. CA. I will rather die than give up my purpose. EU. A virgin life, if purity attend it, is no doubt an excellent thing; but it does not require you so to bind yourself to a particular convent as to be unable afterwards to leave it. Surely, you may live at home with your parents, and preserve at the same time your virgin honour? CA. True; but not with equal safety. EU. In my opinion, you will preserve it there much more securely than amongst so many fat and bloated monks –fathers they are called, and fathers they not unfrequently are, in more senses than one. Remember also, that in former times young maidens were considered to iive nowhere more honourably than at home with their parents; nor had they any father, according to the religious sense of the word, except the bishop. But tell me, I beseech you, what nunnery is it that you have fixed upon as the place of your servitude and seclusion? CA. The Chrysertian. EU. I know it. It is close to your father's house. CA. Just so. EU. And well, too, do I know the whole of the worthy fraternity for which you would give up father and mother and the excellent family to which you are related. As for the patriarch of this venerable society, he has long been foolish, both from infirmities of age and nature, and from indulgence in the pleasures of the table. His knowledge is now confined to his bottle. He has two companions, John and Jodocus, both worthy of him. John, though not perhaps a bad man, has nevertheless nothing of the man about him but his beard—not one grain of learning, and a very slender stock of prudence. As for Jodocus, he is so stupid, that, if it were not for the recommendation of his sacred dress, he might walk about in public, in the cap and bells of a fool. CA. They seem to me, however, to be very good men. EU. My dear Catharine, I know them better than you can do. But I suppose that these are your patrons with your father and mother;-the persons who would make you their proselyte? CA. Jodocus is very favourable to my wishes. Eu. Oh! worthy patron: But let it be granted that these men are now both learned and good, it will not be long before you will find them both ignorant and wicked; and you will, moreover, have to bear with every one that meets you. CA. The frequent entertainments that are given at home are very disagreeable to me; nor is everything that is spoken there between those who are married, such as is suitable to a maiden's ear: besides, I cannot sometimes refuse a kiss. EU. They, who would avoid every thing that can give offence, must needs depart out of this life altogether. Our ears must be accustomed to hear every thing, but transmit to the mind only what is good. Your parents, I suppose, allow you a private chamber? CA. Certainly. EU. Thither, then, you may retire, if any entertainment should happen to become disorderly. There, while the rest are drinking and trifling, do you hold holy converse with Christ, your spouse; praying, singing, and giving thanks. Your father's house cannot defile you; while you, on the contrary, may impart to it a character of greater sanctity. CA. Yet, it is safer to be in a convent of nuns. EU. . I say nothing against a society of such nuns as are truly virgins; but I wish you not to be deceived by your imagination, and take appearances for realities. Were you to remain for some time in the convent you wish to retire to, and acquire a nearer insight into what is going forward there, possibly you might not think every thing quite so correct and charming as you did at first. Take my word for it, Catharine, all are not virgins who wear a veil. CA. Use proper language, Eubulus! EU. Nay, if there be propriety in truth, I do so; unless, perhaps, the praise which we have hitherto been in the habit of considering as peculiar to the Virgin Mother be transferred to other females also. CA. Mention not such an abomination. EU. In no other way, however, can the virgins you speak of be altogether such as you take them to be. CA. No? and why not, I pray you? EU. Because there are more amongst them who will be found to rival Sappho in her morals, than to resemble her in her genius. , CA. I do not exactly comprehend the meaning of your words. EU. My dear Catharine, I do not wish that you should; and therefore I talk in the way you hear me. CA. My wishes still point in the same direction, and I cannot but conclude that the spirit by which I am actuated on this subject comes from God, inasmuch as it has continued for so many years, and still gathers strength from day to day. EU. For my part, I regard this spirit of thine with no small degree of suspicion, on account of its being opposed with so much earnestness by your excellent parents. Were the object you have in view really a pious one, God would no doubt breathe into their hearts an acquiescence in your wishes. The fact is, that the spirit you talk of took its rise from the splendid things which affected your imagination as a girl, from the soft language of the nuns, from revived affection towards your old companions, from the celebration of divine worship, the specious pomp of ceremonies, and the vile exhortations of a set of stupid monks, who court you in order that they may have the more to drink. They are well aware that your father is of a kind and liberal disposition, and that they shall either have him for their guest, (on condition that he bring with him wine enough for ten potent drinkers), or that they shall be able to carouse, as they please, at his table. Wherefore, my advice to you is, not to think any farther of venturing upon a new course of life in opposition to the wishes of your parents. Remember that the authority of our parents is that under which it is God's will that we should remain. CA. But in a case of this kind, it is no want of piety to disregard both father and mother. EU. I grant that it is piety to do so on some occasions, for Christ's sake; though if a Christian have a father who is a heathen, and whose whole subsistence depends upon him, it certainly is no mark of piety in the son to desert him, and allow him to perish of hunger. Supposing that you had not already professed yourself a Christian at your baptism, and that your parents were to forbid you to be baptized, you would certainly act a pious part in preferring Christ to impious parents: or, even now, if your parents were to endeavour to force you to the commission of any loose or impious act, you would undoubtedly do right, in such a case, to disregard their authority. But what has this to do with a convent? Christ is with you equally at home. It is the dictate of nature that children should obey their parents—a dictate ratified by the approbation of God, by the exhortations of St. Paul, and by the sanction of human laws: and will you then withdraw yourself from the authority of the excellent parents you possess, in order to deliver yourself up to those who can be father and mother to you only in name, or who, to speak more truly, will rule you rather as tyrants than as parents? At present, your situation with your parents is such, that they still wish you to be free; but you, of your own accord, would make yourself a slave. The merciful nature of the Christian religion has, to a great degree, abolished the ancient state of servitude, except in a few countries, in which some traces of it still remain. But now, under the pretext of religion, a new kind of servitude, according to the mode of living that at present prevails in many convents, has been invented. In these places nothing is lawful but what is commanded: whatever wealth may fall to you will accrue to the community; and should you attempt to stir a step beyond your bounds, you will be dragged back again, as if you had murdered your parents. And, that this slavery may be still more conspicuous, their proselytes are clothed in a dress different from that which was given to them by their parents, while, in imitation of the ancient custom of those who formerly made a traffic in slaves, a change also is made in the baptismal name; so that he who was baptized into the service of Christ under the name of Peter, is called Thomas on being enlisted in the service of St. Dominic. If a soldier in the army cast away the uniform given him by his commander, he is looked upon as having renounced the authority of his commander; and yet we applaud those who put on a dress not given by Christ, the Lord of all; while the punishment inflicted upon them, should they change it afterwards, is far greater than would be experienced were they to cast off, ever so frequently, the dress of their great Leader and Master—I mean, innocence of mind.

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