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of fascinating manners, conducted me to two or three cells of the religious; they were neat, plain, but sufficiently comfortable little rooms; the beds, instead of presenting me with bare straw pallets, being neatly closed round with white curtains. The recollection of my early ideas flashed só vividly on my mind, that with a smile I told them to the nun. “Ah !” she said, “ that is so like a young person.” "
But," I replied, looking round, “I almost believe that English people think it more religious not to have curtains."
“And we,” she rejoined, “think it more decent to have them." That last notion of mine
but certainly I have heard from relations who remembered the commencement of the religious revival in England, -I mean the Evangelical movement that took place soon after the peace, that religious persons then thought it wrong to eat with a silver fork or spoon, to have any but sad coloured papers on their walls, or wear any but sad coloured dresses. Certainly the children of that age did not take after their parents ; for in later years even the wives and daughters of the Evangelical Clergy seemed to set a fashion of their own in gay attire, and fashionable furniture. England seems, above all others, the land of reaction.
In contrast to one or the other extreme, I have been exceedingly struck with the gracefulness of the sleeping rooms in some of the sisters' houses. The charm consists in simplicity and appropriateness,
The white draperied beds looking so pure and girllike; the walls in general present a total absence of even religious pictures or ornaments. I never recollect seeing a cross or a crucifix at a bed; I do not
that such may not be seen, but I never once saw them. The air of cheerfulness too; the usually lively yet not gaudy papers on the walls; the polished floors, in some little rooms overlaid with a neat carpet, not always seen in French apartments,-all is so unlike what I have myself heard in England, that I write it to you simply because one likes to repeat what is pleasant to oneself. And why should it be otherwise? It is very hard to be cheerful in a house that is purposely made to look dull; and cheerfulness is the attribute of the Sister of Charity
You remember the expected distribution to which the poor people were invited by our sister. I went to see it. This was a special distribution of bread, and there was a more than ordinary crowd of applicants. I took a back entrance to the sisters' house, in consequence of seeing many of these poor decent people hurrying on or returning back with a loaf or two in their hands. I ought not to have gone that way unless I wanted to claim a loaf also; but I was glad I did, for I had a better sight of the
There was a wide open window, like that of a butcher's stall, at the back of the house, with a court before it, filled with a quiet respectful group of poor. At the window stood the Sister Superior and her attendant sister; behind her was a gentleman with the organ of benevolence largely developed on his brow, and near to him was a baker's man. The sister was somewhat in haste, for the hour allotted to this work was nearly past; her voice was heard both loud and authoritative; and as she called the names, if the owners answered they received one or two loaves according to the allotment already made in the book before her; if they delayed to answer, or were not there in time to answer, it was very evident that they might go without any, for her time was not to be trifled with. But notwithstanding her hastiness and her tone of authority, it struck me that somehow her white cap, and active, open, goodhumoured countenance looked at least as well at that open window as would have done that of the masters of our workhouses; and that there was something in the air and manner of the recipients of this public bounty quite unlike the aspect of our poor workhouse applicants; a little timid most of them looked, as the decent poor who accept or seek charity will do, but there was something in the voices that said, " Thank you, my sister," that came almost like a balm to the heart of the hearers; and then the men raised their hats to the Administrator of the Bureau de Bienfaisance, or Office of Benevolence, who stood behind her, and they went off in order with their bread.
The sister was certainly not to be imposed upon, for some persons who had no right to apply for it had come there and got to the wrong side of the house; after her work was ended she went there, and the tone in which she said “It is useless, my friends," and the wave of her arm, were resistless,they went off at once without their bread.
This Bureau de Bienfaisance in France is certainly very unlike that sore disgrace to a Christian landthe English workhouse. Poverty in England is regarded as a crime, an offence against society; and it
is treated as such. The buildings look so fine, sometimes of an architecture so fantastic; the functionaries are so numerous, so pompous, or so very comfortable looking, that a bewildered foreigner stares in amazement at seeing some wretched creatures, in the misery of a winter evening, breaking the street windows, in order to be condemned for another offence than poverty, and sent to a prison instead of a house of charity, to any house of correction rather than that provided simply for destitution.
An old Frenchman gave me once an amusing account of his travels in England. He said he mistook our workhouse for a castle. He went into it, and the director, as he called the master, brought him into his salon; it was so comfortable, with a carpet and I
2 know not what, that he said to himself—“Hah! the English lodge their poor in palaces; it is well to be poor here.” The director took him over the building, and he thought it very fine; “but,” said he, w what surprised me was, that the poor did not seem like people who thought themselves well off. They were silent, mournful, miserable. The persons who were employed there were very numerous, but they were the only ones that seemed well off and happy. I do not know the reason of that, but in our charitable institutions it is not so."
This good old man was himself the director of one of the largest of these charitable institutions; he had a closet, called a cabinet, for his sitting room, with a stove, a few books, and a bare floor; but outside