“I have always thought that such must be the case,” replied Gascoigne, “in Catholic countries, where a young person is taken out of a convent and mated according to what her family or her wealth may consider as the most eligible connection.”

“On that subject there are many opinions, my friend,” replied Don Rebiera. “It is true, that when a marriage of convenience is arranged by the parents, the dispositions of the parties are made a secondary point; but then, again, it must be remembered, that when a choice is left to the parties themselves, it is at an age at which there is little worldly consideration: and, led away, in the first place, by their passions, they form connections with those inferior in their station, which are attended with eventual unhappiness; or, in the other, allowing that they do choose in their own rank of life, they make quite as bad or often a worse choice than if their partners were selected for them.”

“I cannot understand that,” replied Gascoigne.

“The reason is, because there are no means, or if means, no wish, to study each other’s dispositions. A young man is attracted by person, and he admires; the young woman is flattered by the admiration, and is agreeable; if she has any faults she is not likely to display them—not concealing them from hypocrisy, but because they are not called out. The young man falls in love, so does the young woman; and when once in love, they can no longer see faults; they marry, imagining that they have found perfection. In the blindness of love, each raises the other to a standard of perfection, which human nature can never attain, and each becomes equally annoyed on finding, by degrees, that they were in error. The reaction takes place, and they then underrate, as much as before they had over-rated, each other. Now, if two young people marry without this violence of passion, they do not expect to find each other perfect, and perhaps have a better chance of happiness.”

“I don’t agree with you,” thought Gascoigne; “but as you appear to be as fond of argument as my friend Jack, I shall make no reply, lest there be no end to the story.”

Don Rebiera proceeded.

“My mother, finding that my father preferred his closet and his books to gaiety and dissipation, soon left him to himself, and amused herself after her own fashion, but not until I was born, which was ten months after their marriage. My father was confiding, and, pleased that my mother should be amused, he indulged her in everything. Time flew on, and I had arrived at my fifteenth year, and came home from my studies, it being intended that I should enter the army, which you are aware is generally the only profession embraced in this country by the heirs of noble families. Of course, I knew little of what had passed at home, but still I had occasionally heard my mother spoken lightly of, when I was not supposed to be present, and I always heard my father’s name mentioned with compassion, as if an ill-used man, but I knew nothing more: still this was quite sufficient for a young man, whose blood boiled at the idea of anything like a stigma being cast upon his family. I arrived at my father’s—I found him at his books; I paid my respects to my mother—I found her with her confessor. I disliked the man at first sight; he was handsome, certainly: his forehead was high and white, his eyes large and fiery, and his figure commanding; but there was a dangerous, proud look about him which disgusted me—nothing like humility or devotion. I might have admired him as an officer commanding a regiment of cavalry, but as a churchman he appeared to be most misplaced. She named me with kindness, but he appeared to treat me with disdain; he spoke authoritatively to my mother, who appeared to yield implicitly, and I discovered that he was lord of the whole household. My mother, too, it was said, had given up gaieties and become devout. I soon perceived more than a common intelligence between them, and before I had been two months at home I had certain proofs of my father’s dishonour; and, what was still more unfortunate for me, they were aware that such was the case. My first impulse was to acquaint my father; but, on consideration, I thought it better to say nothing, provided I could persuade my mother to dismiss Father Ignatio. I took an opportunity when she was alone to express my indignation at her conduct, and to demand his immediate dismissal, as a condition of my not divulging her crime. She appeared frightened, and gave her consent; but I soon found that her confessor had more power with her than I had, and he remained. I now resolved to acquaint

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