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that should bring them together, he found out a young gentleman of a good fortune and an agreeable perfon, whom he pitched upon as a husband for his daughter. He foon concerted this affair fo well, that he told Conftantia it was his defign to marry her to fuch a gentleman, and that her wedding should be celebrated on fuch a day. Conftantia, who was over-awed with the authority of her father, and unable to object any thing against fo advantageous a match, received the propofal with a profound filence, which her father commended in her,. as the most decent manner of a virgin's giving her confent to an overture of that kind. The noife of this intended marriage foon reached Theodofius, who after a long tumult of paffions, which naturally rife in a lover's heart on fuch an occafion, writ the following letter to Conftantia.
"TH HE thought of my Conflantia, which for fome years has been my only happiness, is now be"6 come a greater torment to me than I am able to bear.. "Muft I then live to see you another's? The ftreams, "the fields and meadows, where we have fo often. "talked together, grow painful to me; life itfelf is "become a burden. May you long be happy in the "world, but forget that there was ever fuch a man in "it as THEODOSIUS,'
This letter was conveyed to Conftantia that very evening, who fainted at the reading of it; and the next morning fhe was much more alarmed by two or three meffengers, that came to her father's houfe, one' after another, to enquire if they had heard any thing of Theodofius, who it feems had left his chamber about midnight, and could no where be found. The deep melancholy, which had hung upon his mind, fome 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 fuch extremities, was not to be comforted: fhe now accused herfelf for having fo tamely given an ear to the propofal of a husband, and looked upon the new lover as the mur.
derer of Theodofius: in fhort, fhe refolved to fuffer 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 feeing himself entirely rid of Theodofius, and likely to keep a confiderable portion in his family, was not very much concerned at the obftinate refusal of his daughter; and did not find it very difficult to excufe 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 exercifes of religion, to which her afflictions had fo entirely fubjected her mind, that after fome years had abated the violence of her forrows, and fettled her thoughts in a kind of tranquillity, fhe refolved to pafs the remainder of her days in a convent. Her father was not difpleafed with a refolution, which would fave 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 Romish church for thofe who are under any great affiction, or trouble of mind, to apply themfelves to the most eminent confeffors for pardon and confolation, our: beautiful votary took the opportunity of confefling herfelf 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 houfe in the city, where now Conftantia refided; and defiring that fecrecy. and concealment of the fathers of the convent, which is very ufual upon any extraordinary occafion, he made himfelf one of the order, with a private vow never to enquire after Conftantia, 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 progrefs 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 thofe pious fentiments which he infpired into all who converfed with him. It was this holy man to whom Conftantia had determined to apply herself in confeffion, though neither she nor any other, befides 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 fo far concealed in a long beard, a fhaven head, and a religious habit, that it was impoffible to difcover the man of the world in the venerable conventual.
As he was one morning fhut up in his confeffional, Conftantia kneeling by him, opened the ftate of her foul to him; and after having given him the history of a life full of innocence, fhe burst out into tears, and entered upon that part of her flory in which he himself had fo great a fhare. My behaviour, fays fhe, 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 whilft He lived, and how bitter the re membrance of him has been to me fince his death. She here paufed, and lifted up her eyes that streamed with tears towards the father; who was fo moved with the fenfe of her forrows, that he could only command his voice, which was broke with fighs and fobbings, fo 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, infomuch that in the agonies of his grief the feat fhook 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 utmoft contrition to acquaint him with that vow of virginity in which he was going to engage herfelf, as the proper atonement for her fins, and the only facrifice he could make to the memory of Theodofius. The father, who by this time had pretty well coinpofed himself, burft out again in tears upon hearing that name to which he had been fo long dif
ufed, and upon receiving this inftance of an unparalleled fidelity from one who he thought had feveral years fince given herself up to the poffeffion of another. Amidít the interruptions of his forrow, feeing his penitent overwhelmed 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 fo great as fhe apprehended-That the fhould not fuffer herself to be afflicted above measure. After which he recovered himself enough to give her the abfolution in form; directing her at the fame time to repair to him again the next day, that he might encourage her in the pious refolutions fhe had taken, and give her fuitable exhortations for her behaviour in it. Conftantia retired, and the next morning renewed her application. Theodofius having manned his foul with proper thoughts and reflections, exerted himself on this occafion in the best manner he could to animate his penitent in the course of life fhe was entering upon, and wear out of her mind thofe groundless fears and apprehenfions which had taken poffeffion of it; concluding with a promise to her, that he would from time to time continue his admonitions when the fhould have taken upon her the holy veil. The rules of our refpective orders, fays he, will not permit that I fhould fee you, but you may affure yourself not only of having a place in my prayers, but of receiving fuch frequent inftructions as I can convey to you by letters. Go on chearfully in the glow rious courfe you have undertaken, and you will quickly find fuch a peace and fatisfaction in your mind, which is not in the power of the world to give..
CONSTANTIA's heart was fo elevated with the difcourfe of father Francis, that the very next day fhe entered upon her vow. As foon as the folemnities of her reception were over, fhe retired, as it is usual, with the abbess into her own apartment.
The abbefs had been informed the night before of all that had paffed between her noviciate and father Francis; from whom he now delivered to her the fol lowing letter.
S the first fruits of those joys and confolations which you may expect from the life you are "now engaged in, I muft acquaint you that Theodofius, "whofe death fits fo heavy upon your thoughts, is ftill
alive; and that the father to whom you have con"feffed yourself, was once that Theodofius whom you
fo much lament. The love which we had for one "another will make us more happy in its difappoint66 ment than it could have done in its fuccefs. Providence has difpofed of us for our advantage, though not according to our wishes. Confider your Theo " doftus fill as dead, but affure yourself of one who "will not cease to pray for you in father
CONSTANTIA faw that the hand-writing agreed with the contents of the letter; and upon reflecting on the voice of the perfon, the behaviour, and above all the extreme forrow of the father during her confefsion, fhe discovered Theodofius in every particular. After having wept with tears of joy, It is enough, fays fhe, Theodofius is ftill in being: I fhall live with comfort, and die in peace.
The letters which the father fent her afterwards are yet extant in the nunnery where the refided; and are often read to the young religious, in order to infpire them with good refolutions and fentiments of virtue. It fo happened, that after Conftantia had lived about ten years in the cloifter, a violent fever broke out in the place, which fwept away great multitudes, and among others Theodofius. Upon his death-bed he fent his benediction 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 fickneffes of this nature, the abbefs, finding that the phyficians had given her over, told her that Theodofius was just gone before her, and that he had fent her his benediction in his laft moments. Conftantia received it with pleasure : And now, fays fhe, if I do not afk any thing improper, let me be buried by Theodofius. My vow reaches no farther