Images de page
PDF
ePub

lose Henry, and the Colonel's family will addyour senses."

"I act conformably to the strictest reason," she returned, "and as to Henry, if he will not grant me freedom of conscience in a free country, he is welcome to please himself." The carriage was now at the door, and Virginia drove off with great speed to Doctor Dorson's.

CHAPTER VI.

"For well she marked the malice of the tale, Which ribald arts the church to Luther owes. In malice it began, in malice grows."-DRYDEN. If the reader has ever seen a tall, spare, yet not undignified person, with a bald head, and a stern, sanctimonious countenance, he may form an idea of the Rev. Dr. Dorson. This gentleman was by birth an Englishman; and when the subject of the established church was introduced, rather touchy, insomuch, that during the revolution, it was very much doubted whether he was not too loyal to his church, not to incur some suspicion of his loyalty to the American government: yet so bitterly averse was he to the Popish sect, as he sneeringly denominated the Catholic religion, that he was often heard to say, that were he a member of parliament in England, he would never, never, relax the penal code. It was his most studious care to allude in all his sermons to the ignorance, and superstition, and idolatry, of the Catholic worship. Rome he styled Babylon. The Pope the beast. The Church the mother of corruption. In his catechetical instructions to the children, he would throw up his eyes to hea ven, and in a prophetic and tremulous tone of voice, conjure them to fly the company of Popish

play-mates; to look upon their chapels as places of abomination; and to regard their priests as monsters. In his library were collected all the works against the Catholic church; and he was among the first to recommend with his signature the work of Don Iago, the Spanish apostate, than which there never was published a blacker compilation of falsehoods, and aspersions against an enlightened people. In the corner, however, the Doctor did not fail to keep (carefully concealed from public view.) the Sermons of Père Bourdaloue and Massillon, which, with a few variations, he translated and preached with great applause. But this privilege will surely be excused in one who was encumbered with a large family, and had to preach every Sunday! He enjoyed, however, the reputation of a learned man, and such a model was he esteemed among the younger classes, that as great as Doctor Dorson, as learned as Doctor Dorson, as pious as Doctor Dorson, and all such adulations passed into a proverb: and to pretend to compare any preacher with him would be downright profanity. His dwelling, a large comfortable mansion, was little more than a mile distant from Wolburn-hall. It was situated adjoining his church, (a spacious building, with a very high steeple,) on a hill, from which it commanded, on one side, a view of the Potomac's waters and tree-crowned banks, and on the other, an amphitheatre of hills skirted with brushwood, and varied with timber, A well cultivated farm was attached to the parsonage; the meadow was covered with cattle, and the barn stocked with plenty. So that all the concern of the good Doctor, in this world, was to take care of his children, preach a sermon, and calumniate the Catholics. This was the case immediately after the American revolution. How the thing is now I leave to others to judge. As soon as General Wolburn's

carriage was discovered from the second story, Mrs. Dorson hastened to put herself in readiness to receive the expected company. The Doctor was informed, but continued writing in his study. When the bell rang, Mrs. Dorson flew down stairs and received Virginia.

"Are you alone, Virginia?" she asked with some surprise.

All alone, madam," was her reply: "you, surely, could not expect Louisa and mamma in your heretical mansion," she added, with some emphasis and an expressive smile. Mrs. Dorson was somewhat astounded.

"I have great things to communicate to the Doctor, my dear madam, which are hardly credible."

The curiosity of Mrs. Dorson was excited, she knew not whether to look upon the circumstance as a frolic in Virginia, or as a serious affair.

"How is your mamma, my dear," said Mrs. Dorson.

"Alas! for my poor mother!" here she drew her handkerchief over her eyes as if to wipe away a tear, which she did not like to expose.

"Come, my dear Virginia," returned Mrs. Dorson with some agitation, "relate what you have upon your mind to the Doctor;" and, putting her arin in Virginia's, they advanced to the Doctor's study-room; he did not rise, but continued writing.

"You do not appear to recognize Miss Virginia Wolburn, my dear," said Mrs. Dorson.

"My dear Miss Virginia," exclaimed the Doc tor, starting as it were from a reverie, "I trust you will excuse me: I have been deeply engaged in composing a sermon for next sabbath, in which the papists will get their share. Be seated, my dear." Mrs. Dorson retired.

Melancholy indeed is the business on which I have come, dear doctor," said Virginia.

"Has any misfortune occurred in your most excellent family, Miss Virginia?”

"A fatal one," she replied as she reclined her head in an attitude on her arm. 66 'Rowland, the Jesuit, has been at the hall."

"Gracious Lord!" exclaimed the parson.

"And has been calumniating our holy religion till he has turned the heads of my poor sister and mother." Dorson's countenance assumed a variety of colours and expressions. "It is a calamity indeed:" he then sighed in a sepulchral tone.

"I come expressly to propose to you the argument he made use of, to shew that the bible is not the rule of faith."

"Blasphemy! my child," exclaimed the parson; "here the character of the popish religion discloses itself completely: it rejects the holy word of God, in which is all comfort, and hope, and godliness."

[ocr errors]

"He says he defies any parson in the world to answer the argument which I have noted down," said Virginia, as she opened her reticule and drew out the paper.

"A Jesuit never made a real argument, Virginia," replied Dorson: "you know the meaning of Jesuitism."

"Allow me to read it, dear Doctor, it is this: 'St. John did not write his gospel till the year ninety. Now either the church existed during the period before it was written, or it did not: but all admit that it did exist, therefore it existed without the whole of the New Testament. And if it existed without the whole of the New Testament for ninety years, it might have existed nine hundred or nine thousand years. Therefore it follows that the bible is not the exclusive rule of faith.""

For a moment the Doctor did not know what

reply to make: answer the argument he could not: he sought only how to evade it most dexterously -"a specious sophism;" he then returned, “my dear Miss, can you not perceive the sophism? Is it possible that such a piece of abstract dialectics could disturb the mind of a good practical christian, who looks to Christ for the salvation of his soul, and not to the priests?"

Virginia was somewhat startled at the evasion of the parson. "Is it true," said she, "that St. John did not write his gospel for ninety years after the christian era ?"

"Be not too curious in these matters, dear Miss Wolburn, curiosity is a rock on which many a follower of Christ has split."

"But this is a fact of history," urged Virginia. "If you wish to satisfy yourself in historical matters, read the abuses and corruptions of the church of Rome. Leave these idle speculations to Jesuits and Monks.

"But iny dear Doctor Dorson," said Virginia, taking him by the hand, "can you not answer and refute the argument?"

"It refutes itself, Miss Wolburn," replied the Doctor. Virginia hung her head and shed tears. "I have come expressly to have our holy religion vindicated," she sighed, "and I trust dearest, dearest Doctor, you will not permit me to go home unsatisfied."

"If you have any doubt about the pure, and simple, and holy religion in which there is no picture worshipping, no praying to saints, no purgatory"-here the Doctor waxed warm he arose from his chair and walked up and down his room much agitated-" read the bible Miss, and the work I have just recommended, Don Iago; will you go to a Jesuit for instruction? he will pervert you Miss, he will pervert you,"

66

My dear sir, you mistake me. I have not

« PrécédentContinuer »