fall upon a monk’s shoulders, best knows; but it would have suited a Bramin, and had I met it upon the plains of Indostan, I had reverenced it.

The rest of his outline may be given in a few strokes; one might put it into the hands of any one to design, for ’twas neither elegant or otherwise, but as character and expression made it so: it was a thin, spare form, something above the common size, if it lost not the distinction by a bend forwards in the figure—but it was the attitude of entreaty; and as it now stands presented to my imagination, it gain’d more than it lost by it.

When he had enter’d the room three paces, he stood still; and laying his left hand upon his breast, (a slender white staff with which he journey’d being in his right)—when I had got close up to him, he introduced himself with the little story of the wants of his convent, and the poverty of his order—and did it with so simple a grace—and such an air of deprecation was there in the whole cast of his look and figure—I was bewitch’d not to have been struck with it—

A better reason was, I had predetermined not to give him a single sous.

The Monk


—’Tis very true, said I, replying to a cast upwards with his eyes, with which he had concluded his address—’tis very true—and heaven be their resource who have no other but the charity of the world, the stock of which, I fear, is no way sufficient for the many great claims which are hourly made upon it.

As I pronounced the words great claims, he gave a slight glance with his eye downwards upon the sleeve of his tunick—I felt the full force of the appeal—I acknowledge it, said I—a coarse habit, and that but once in three years, with meagre diet—are no great matters; and the true point of pity is, as they can be earn’d in the world with so little industry, that your order should wish to procure them by pressing upon a fund which is the property of the lame, the blind, the aged, and the infirm—the captive who lies down counting over and over again the days of his afflictions, languishes also for his share of it: and had you been of the Order of Mercy, instead of the Order of St. Francis, poor as I am, continued I, pointing at my portmanteau, full chearfully should it have been open’d to you, for the ransom of the unfortunate.—The monk made me a bow—but of all others, resumed I, the unfortunate of our own country, surely, have the first rights; and I have left thousands in distress upon our own shore—The monk gave cordial wave with his head—as much as to say, No doubt there is misery enough in every corner of the world, as well as within our convent—But we distinguish, said I, laying my hand upon the sleeve of his tunic, in return for his appeal—we distinguish, my good father! betwixt those who wish only to eat the bread of their own labour—and those who eat the bread of other people’s, and have no other plan in Life, but to get through it in sloth and ignorance, for the Love of God.

The poor Franciscan made no reply; a hectic of a moment pass’d across his cheek, but could not tarry—Nature seemed to have done with her resentments in him; he shewed none—but letting his staff fall within his arm, he press’d both his hands with resignation upon his breast, and retired.

The Monk


My heart smote me the moment he shut the door—Psha! said I, with an air of carelessness, three several times—but it would not do: every ungracious syllable I had utter’d, crouded back into my imagination:—I reflected I had no right over the poor Franciscan, but to deny him; and that the punishment of that was enough to the disappointed without the addition of unkind language—I consider’d his gray hairs—his courteous figure seem’d to re-enter, and gently ask me what injury he had done me?—and why I could

  By PanEris using Melati.

Previous chapter/page Back Home Email this Search Discuss Bookmark Next chapter/page
Copyright: All texts on Bibliomania are © Bibliomania.com Ltd, and may not be reproduced in any form without our written permission. See our FAQ for more details.