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that should bring them together, he found out a young gentleman of a good fortune and an agreeable person, whom he pitched upon as a husband for his daughter. He soon concerted this affair so well, that he told Conftantia it was his design to marry her to such a gentleman, and that her wedding should be celebrated on fuch a day. Conftantia, who was over-awed with the autho. rity of her father, and unable to object any thing againit so advantageous a match, received the propoíal with a profound silence, which her father commended in her, as the most decent manner of a virgin’s giving her consent to an overture of that kind. The noise of this in. tended marriage soon reached Theodofius, who after a long tumult of paflions, which naturally rise in a lover's heart on such an occasion, writ the following letter to' Constantia. THE 'HE thought of my Conflantia, which for some
years has been my only happiness, is now be" come a greater torment to me than i am able to bear. “ Must I then live to see you another's'? The streams, " the fields and meadows, where we have so often “ talked together, grow painful to me; life itself is 6 become a burden. May you long be happy in the “ world, but forget that there was ever such a man in
THEODOSIUS.' This letter was conveyed to Conftantia that very evening, who fainted at the reading of it ; and the next morning she was much more alarmed by two or three messengers, that came to her father's house, one' after another, to enquire if they had heard any thing of Theodofius, who it seems had left his chamber about midnight, and could no where be found. The deep melancholy, which had hung upon his mind some time before, made them apprehend the worst that could befal him. Conftantia, who knew that nothing but the report of her marriage could have driven him to such extreimities, was not to be comforted : she now accused herfelf for having so tamely given an ear to the proposal of 2 husband, and looked upon the new lover as the mur..
46 it as
derer of Theodofius : in short, the resolved to suffer the utmost effects of her father's displeasure, rather than comply with a marriage which appeared to her fo full of guilt and horror. The father seeing himself entirely rid
of Theodofius, and likely to keep a confiderable portion in his family, was not very much concerned at the obstinate refusal of his daughter ; and did not find it very difficult to excuse himself upon that account to his intended fon-in-law, who had all along regarded this alliance rather as a marriage of convenience than of love. Conftantia had now no relief but in her devotions and exercises of religion, to which her afflictions had so entirely subjected her mind, that after fome years had abated the violence of her sorrows, and settled her thoughts in a kind of tranquillity, fhe resolved to pass the remainder of her days in a convent. Her father was not displeased with a resolution, which would save money in his family, and readily complied with his daughter's intentions. Accordingly in the twenty-fifth year of her age, while her beauty was yet in all its height and bloom, he carried her to a neighbouring city, in order to look out a fifterhood of nuns among whom to place his daughter. There was in this place a father of a convent who was very much renowned for his piety and exemplary life ; and as it is ufual in the Romißo church for those who are under any great affliction, or trouble of mind, to apply themselves to the most eminent confeflors for pardon and confolation, our beautiful votary took the opportunity, of confefling her. self to this celebrated father. : We must now return to Theodofius, who, the very morning that the above-mentioned inquiries had been made after him, arrived at a religious house in the city, where now Conftantia resided; and defiring that secrecy and concealment of the fathers of the convent, which is very usual upon any extraordinary occasion, he made himself one of the order, with a private vow never to enquire after Constantia, whom he looked upon as given away to his rival upon the day on which, according to common fame, their marriage was to have been folemnized. Having in his youth made a good progress in
learning, that he might dedicate himself more entirely to religion, he entered into holy orders, and in a few years became renowned for his fanctity of life, and those pious sentiments which he inspired into all who conversed with him. It was this holy man to whom Conftantia had determined to apply herself in confeffion, though neither she nor any other, besides the prior of the convent, knew any thing of his name or family. The gay, the amiable Theodofius had now taken upon him! the name of father Francis, and was so far concealed in a long beard, a shaven head, and a religious habit, that it was impossible to discover the man of the world in the venerable conventual.
As he was one morning shut up in his confessional, Conftantia kneeling by him, opened the state of her soul to him; and after having given him the history of a life full of innocence, the burst out into tears, and entered upon that part of her-story in which he bimself had so great a share. My behaviour, says she, has, I fear, been the death of a man who had no other fault but that of loving me too much. Heaven only knows how dear he was to me whilst le lived, and how bitter the remembrance of him has been to me since his death. She here paused, and lifted up her eyes that streamed with tears towards the father, who was so moved with the sense of her forrows, that he could only command his voice, which was broke with fighs and lobbings, so far as to bid her proceed. She followed his directions, and in a flood' of tears poured out her heart before him. The father could not forbear' weeping aloud, insomuch that in the agonies of his grief the seat shook under him. Conftantia, who thought the good man was thus moved by his compaffion towards her, and by the horror of her guilt, proceeded with the utmost contrition to acquaint him with that youý of virginity in which she was goingto engage herself, as the proper atonement for her fins, and the only sacrifice she could make to the memory of Theodosqus. The father, who by this time had pretty well composed himself, burst out again in tears upon hearing that name to which he had been so long dif
used, and upon receiving this instance of an unparalleled fidelity from one who he thought had several years since given herself up to the posession of another. Amidit the interruptions of his forrow, seeing his penitentoverwhelmed with grief, he was only able to bid her from time to time be comforted To tell her that her fins were forgiven her-That her guilt was not so great as she apprehended— That she should not suffer herself to be afflicted above measurę. After which he recovered himself enough to give her the absolution in form ; directing her at the same time to repair to him again the next day, that he might encourage her in the pious resolutions she had taken, and give her suitable exhortations for her behaviour in it. Conftantia retired, and the next morning renewed her application. Theodofius having manned his soul with proper thoughts and reflections, exerted himself on this occasion in the best
manner he could to animate his penitent in the course • of life she was entering upon, and wear out of her mind
those groundless fears and apprehenfions which had taken possession of it; concluding with a promise to. » her, that he would from time to time continue his admonitions when the should have taken upon her the holy veil. The rules of our respective orders, says he, will not permit that I should see you, but you may affure yourself not only of having a place in my prayers, but of receiving such frequent instructions as I can convey to you by letters. Go on chearfully in the glow.. rious course you have undertaken, and you will quickly find such a peace and satisfaction in your mind, which is not in the power of the world to give.
CONSTANTIA's heart was so elevated with the discourse of father Francis, that the very next day fhe entered upon her vow. As soon as the solemnities of her reception were over, she retired, as it is usual, with the abbers into her own apartment.
The abbels had been informed the night before of all that had passed between her noviciate and father Francis; from whom she now delivered to her the folo lowing letter
S the first fruits of those joys and consolations * now engaged in, I must acquaint you that Theodofius, 6. whose death fits so heavy upon your thoughts, is ftill “ alive ; and that the father to whom you have con“ fessed yourself, was once that Theodosius whom you 66 so much lament. The love which we had for one “ another will make us more happy in its disappoint" ment than it could have done in its success. Pro* vidence has disposed of us for our advantage, though s not according to our wishes. Consider your Theo
doftus fill as dead, but assure yourself of one who “ will not cease to pray for you in father
CONSTANTIA saw that the hand-writing agreed with the contents of the letter ; and upon reflecting on the voice of the person, the behaviour, and above all the extreme forrow of the father during her confession, she discovered Theodosius in every particular. After having wept with tears of joy, it is enough, says the, Theodofius 'is ftill in being : I shall live with comfort, and die in peace.
The letters which the father fent her afterwards are yet extant in the nunnery where she refided ; and are often read to the young religious, in order to inspire them with good resolutions and sentiments of virtue. It so happened, that after Conftantia had lived about ten years in the cloifter, a violent fever broke out in the place, which swept away great multitudes, and among others Theodofius. Upon his death-bed he fent his benedi&tion in a very moving manner to Conftantia ; who at that time was herself fo far gone in the same fatal distemper, that the lay delirious. Upon the in-terval which generally precedes death in ficknesses of this nature, the abbess, finding that the physicians had given her over, told her that Theodofius was just gone before her, and that he had sent her his benediction in his last moments. Conftantia received it with pleasure : And now, says she, if I do not ask any thing improper, let me be buried by Theodofius. My vow reaches no