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When I saw Lady Agnes, I felt at once | ter in possession of the drawing-room. that something unusual had happened. Nice youth, Sir Charles Porter at least she came in, her face wreathed with smiles, he will be when he is older. I don't know bubbling over with happiness. how it is, boys of six or seven and twenty "My dear friend, what do you think? are not nearly so interesting as they used Nita is engaged!" to be; perhaps it is the difference in education-everything is changing so now

"Nita, your daughter! I am glad to hear it! To whom?"

"To one of the most delightful young men I have ever met."

("Of course!" I thought. I never yet knew a mother who did not say the same thing of her daughter's fiancé.)

"We have not known him very long, but he seems to be in every respect exactly the husband we could have desired for her. You know him too, I dare say - Bertie Erskine."

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"Not Bertie Erskine about whom there was that sc "I checked myself in

time.

"What did you say?" asked Lady Agnes quickly.

I hesitated.

"Well, really- My dear Lady nes, it may not be true, you know, but there certainly was some story about his being turned out of his club last year that Lady Gordon was mixed up in it somehow. I really forget exactly what it was, but I dare say I could find it all out for you."

adays.

Sir Charles seemed to be in a state of nervous anxiety, quite unlike his usual lighthearted manner - and started when he saw me come into the room, as though when the door opened he had expected to see some one else. I, seeing he was unwilling to talk, took the whole burden of the conversation on my shoulders as well as I could, but it was very uphill work, and I finally had to fall back upon a pho tograph album, which I never do unless I am positively at my last gasp.

Sir Charles seemed quite listless at first, but he gradually woke up into pay. ing more attention, as I told him about all the people whose portraits we were look Aging at. I have a way of running on, I suppose, that makes people listen to me somehow- they seem to think I have a happy knack of putting things, a sort of sparkling way with me, perhaps — and so, I began telling him all about everybody. The two first portraits in the book were of course Lady Greville's father and moth"Bertie Erskine!" repeated Lady Ag- er. The mother is a most extraordinarynes slowly (she certainly is stupid at tak-looking old lady, and, as I said to Sir ing in things sometimes). "Can it be possible! However, it is not too late he will be here this morning."

Charles, is certainly a warning to her daughter of what she will be like; and still more to Blanche Greville, her granddaughter; for the girl is as like her grandmother as she can be. Sir Charles had not noticed the likeness until I pointed it

"Exactly! and then he can tell you all about it himself so much nicer; and after all, an engagement is not such an irrevocable thing" (cheerfully). "Good-out to him. Then there came a portrait bye, dear Lady Agnes! I am so glad I just happened to come in this morning!" By the way, I heard from a friend I met in the afternoon, that it was not Bertie Erskine, but Billy Fitz Erskine, the story was about.

I wonder if Lady Agnes has found that

out.

of General Chaloner, Lady Greville's brother, Blanche's bachelor uncle, who, it is said, means to leave his niece all his fortune. He is a most splendid, soldierly. looking creature, and, as I told Sir Charles, likely to live for thirty years longer, for all those Chaloners are a wonderfully long. lived race. Their name is legion-and I dare say she has. At any rate, I am their photographs are legion too! And afraid I shan't have time this week to go as for the Greville family, I got quite and tell her, and I never like putting that tired of looking at all the representations kind of thing in a letter - I am always so of them, depicted in every stage of growth afraid of speaking scandal; but certainly and fashion! Sir Charles, poor fellow! for the next few days I shall not have a evidently thought it his duty to please me minute to spare. Really, I can't think by looking at every one of them scrupu how I live through all I have to do; I am lously, as if they were the most interesting quite worn out with it sometimes. I got things in the world to him it was too to Lady Greville's to-day, where I have a funny! I couldn't help feeling and say. standing invitation to luncheon, quite fainting, as we turned over page after page, and exhausted. I was rather surprised Really, I don't think I ever saw such an there to find no one but Sir Charles Por- uninteresting family; they are all one

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worse than the other. Don't you think so, Sir Charles?"

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'Well, I don't know, it hadn't occurred to me," he said, in a constrained voice his manner certainly has altered incredibly for the worst since I first knew him! "Let us go on to something more interesting," I said, turning over the pages. Ah, this is better; do look! this is really a very amusing juxtaposition of people! Guy Paget, Henry Fitzwilliam, Captain Morgan and Charlie Lennox-all of them Blanche's admirers! What a good idea to put them on the same page, isn't it?"

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"Very," said Sir Charles grimly. "Captain Morgan was a great friend of mine," I continued, determined to amuse my gloomy companion if I could. "He was ordered out to Africa at the end of last summer, as I dare say you know. During the whole season he had been very intimate with some friends of mine. I won't tell you their names, as I don't think it would be quite fair. I hate spreading gossip - but I dare say you will guess. He had more especially seen a great deal of the daughter, a very intimate friend of mine, who had certainly looked very kindly on him, as young girls too often imprudently do. Ill-natured people said though I am not sure that I quite believe them that when Captain Morgan was ordered to Africa, he was not sorry of the opportunity it gave him to say good-bye to Miss (never mind who)" (archly) "before arriving at a further stage of friendship at which a farewell might perhaps be more difficult, though more dramatic; so accordingly the night before he sailed, he went to say good-bye to her, and found her, by the most curious chance in the world, quite alone. What do you think happened? Either she was unable to restrain her feelings, or else she had the most wonderful presence of mind have never known which to call it; but when the fatal word good-bye passed his lips, she burst into an agony of tears, and well-nigh sank on the ground at his feet! This threw him into the greatest perturbation, poor youth! which was still further increased when the door suddenly opened, and Lady Greville, finding the young couple in the touching situation I have described, gave them her blessing." "Lady Greville!" shouted Sir Charles, in a state of unaccountable excitement.

I

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"But then, if it is true, why did he not marry her?"

"Ah, now you come to the dramatic part of the story. Affection, they say, depends upon propinquity. So, when one person is in Grosvenor Square, and the other in Africa, affection is perhaps apt to languish! At any rate, when Captain Morgan had been away six months, Blanche thought that Sir Henry Smythe, with £20,000 a year, would make a more desirable husband. So she wrote to break off her engagement to Captain Morgan, who, they say, was not at all sorry to be released; but now a dreadful thing hap pens. Sir Henry Smythe, who, as you know, is always going round the world when he has nothing else to do, turns out to be engaged to a girl in Japan, the daughter of the English minister there - and so, poor Blanche is left mourning!"

Sir Charles certainly is a most extraordinary person, he ha ́l suddenly awoke out of his lethargy into a state of violent pas. sion, like a child who is roused from its sleep, and begins to scream- he began striding about the room like a madman (I shouldn't be surprised if that happened some day, he is so very peculiar sometimes), and then said abruptly,

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Yes, dear," I said, "I thought I would come in to luncheon with you to-day, and as I was told you would be home at half past one, I waited; but I have not been at all dull. Sir Charles Porter has been here, and I found him most entertaining."

"Sir Charles Porter! then?"

Is he gone, "Yes, he was obliged to go; he told me to tell you he had an appointment in the City at half past one."

"Well, on the face of it," I replied, "a university town is not quite the place to send a girl to. The students make it very disagreeable in many ways, and I believe at Heidelberg it is not at all an uncommon thing for them to kiss their hands to girls in the street. Now I consider that shocking!"

"Oh, extremely so, no doubt; but still, if that is all.

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"How very odd why that is the very time he appointed to come here! He wrote to me last night to ask if he might come to speak to me at 1.30 to-day. Of course I knew what for, for between ourselves, he has been paying a great deal "All! But, my dear Mary, how much of attention to Blanche lately, and in fact more do you want? Besides, it is not all I have wondered a little at his not declar-far from being all! There are all kinds ing himself before. Blanche had already of stories about the place, and I believe it settled to go out driving with Lady Castle- to be an undoubted fact that last winter ton this morning, but I expect her in no less than three English girls ran away every moment. Sir Charles, I dare say, from boarding-houses with German stu will turn up here presently." dents. Now, how would you like that to happen to your daughter?"

However, I don't believe that Sir Charles did turn up, or what is more, that he ever will, in that particular way; but I did not remain to see, for I made my escape as soon as I could after luncheon, as I had to get to the other end of London by tea-time. I had promised to go to tea with Mary Woolner, dear good creature! She is one of those people whose children are always at a crisis of their education when you go to see them. She is always just making up her mind to have a holiday governess for Mary, or to take Jack away from school for a year, with a tutor, or to send Nellie to Queen's College, and so on. Accordingly, when I got there this afternoon, I found the customary state of things — namely, that Mary was quite rigid with agitation at having decided to send Lucy to Heidelberg for six months, to live with a former governess of her own who takes in six young English ladies, who have the privilege of speaking German to her, and their mother tongue to each other, for the sum of £120 a year. I felt when I first heard of it that the whole thing was inexpedient and absurd, and that the plan could never answer, but I don't like meddling, so I held my peace, until Mary so pointedly asked my advice that I was obliged to tell her what I thought. I said, "I don't think I can give an unbiassed opinion about Heidelberg, for I happen to know two or three things about the place that would quite prevent me from ever sending a daughter of mine there."

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Not at all, I must confess. Still, I don't think it very likely that Lucy

"Lucy! but after all, Lucy is in some respects, I imagine, like other girls! I know, of course, how carefully you have trained her, and what excellent principles she has, what charming manners; but girls will be girls, you know, and you can't expect her to be quite unlike the rest of her sex."

"Well, we will see what my husband says," Mary answered, as that kind of woman invariably does; and as it happened, just at that moment the door opened, and Mr. Woolner walked in. Now, he is exactly the type of man I have a perfect horror of - a great, bluff, matterof-fact sort of creature, priding himself on his common sense and knowledge of the world, and always settling things in an off-hand manner which he considers infallible, without an idea of the more sensitive perceptions and scruples of womenkind.

"Oh, George, I am so glad you have come in!" Mary cried. What do you think Geraldine has been telling me about Heidelberg?"

"I'm sure I can't tell," he answered, in his indifferent, ill-mannered fashion. "That the university has the cholera, perhaps, or that the Schloss has fallen into the river. Is there any tea left, Mary?”

"No, but do listen, George! She says there have been three elopements from Heidelberg! What are we to do about Lucy?"

"Good heavens, Geraldine, not really?" Mary exclaimed. Why, I have just posted my letter to Fräulein Zimmern, "About her eloping, do you mean? making all the final arrangements, and She must manage that for herself, my saying Lucy will cross next Tuesday. dear. We can't do anything for her!" Do tell me what you have heard! What George! how tiresome you are; you sort of thing do you mean?" know quite well what I mean.

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Do you

think Heidelberg can be a proper place to send her to, after all?"

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'Well, all I can say is, that if it is not, London isn't a proper place either for there were certainly three, if not four, elopements from London last year, and many other wicked things, which perhaps Lucy may take to, if she has a turn that way. Conie, give me a cup of tea, my dear, and let's hear no more of this nonsense!"

Horrid, gormandizing creature, always thinking of his own comfort, and preferring his tea to his children's welfare. 1 need not say that after his most rude and insulting words I would not stay in the room with him a minute longer. Perhaps next time Mary is in a difficulty, she will be sorry that she has cut herself off from the chance of my help.

I dislike of all things having to dress for dinner in a hurry the result of all this Heidelberg discussion was that I got to Lady Marie Stanhope's dinner party a quarter of an hour after every one else had arrived. My host, who took me down, was in rather a thorny frame of mind in consequence, in spite of his delight with his new cook—which, by the way, he most naively imparted to all his guests! though, as I told him, I don't think she is as good as the last. But he doesn't care what anybody says, he is the sort of man who always thinks he is right. I got quite exhausted by the end of dinner, after vainly trying to prove to him on several occasions that he was wrong!

He said only one thing that interested me, and that was, that he had met Sir Charles Porter this afternoon, who said he was going to the East. I am glad of it; he will be out of the way of that flirt ing Blanche Greville.

Heigho! I should like to go to the east, or to the west, or somewhere at any rate a long way off, beyond the reach of people who come to me for advice and sympathy; but I really don't like to do it. I don't feel as if it would be right to leave all my friends for so long. But there is time enough to think of it, after all I won't trouble my head about it to-night, as I have a busy day, and an early start, before me to-morrow. I promised I would go to Lady Walmer's in the morning, to help her to choose the new paper for her dining-room - I know if I don't go that she will take that horrid greenish grey one she has set her heart upon, and which I detest! And now, to bed for I am quite worn out, in mind and in body, by my hard day's work.

From The Month.

THE RELIGION OF HAMLET.

THE interesting question of Shakespeare's religion cannot, it seems, be settled in any final or decisive manner, such as partisans would desire. Nor can we boldly place our poet on one side or the other of a dividing line. In this matter we cannot be, as Hamlet styles the gravedigger, "absolute." Shakespeare lived so close to the Reformation that, though there had been a convulsion and casting off of Roman authority, Catholic traditions and thought and usage must have still obtained. But the fact that Shakespeare was an actor and author, dependant on the "form and pressure" of the time, living on the patronage of influential persons and the public, and occupying a rather servile and helpless position, shows how unlikely, and indeed impossible, it was for him to have openly adhered to the old faith. Such avowed adhesion, combined with his numerous favorable descriptions of Catholicity and the other various allusions to it, would have assuredly drawn reprobation on him, as a recreant or propagandist. On the other hand, he might safely indulge in such poetical license when he could appeal to his own Protes tant status.

The

At the same time we are inclined to believe that he was Catholic at heart, that he knew or held Catholic doctrines and had Catholic sympathies. This odd state, a feeling of hostility to the government while accepting the doctrine of the Church, could be illustrated by the state of neighboring countries, notably of France, where liberal Catholics are found waging war on the Church, and where the Catholic peasants elect men that are pledged to the destruction of their Church. state of Shakespeare's mind is shown by the sort of compensation he seems to take for indulgence in any picture favorable to Catholicity. It is generally followed by some uncomplimentary denunciation. Very many volumes have been written on the question of Shakespeare's religion, and some Germans have applied, in their laborious way, all the formal canons of criticism to the point. In a similar spirit treatises have been written to prove that our great author was a lawyer, a divine, a doctor, etc., the theory being based on the profound knowledge exhibited in each department, and which could only have been supplied by professional training. But all this seems a narrow view. A true basis of investigation will be found in that large and general treatment which he ap

plied to human character, furnishing types | eterne which all recognize as belonging to no era or country, and are not limited by accidents of race or nation. His own character, it might as well be argued, was thus portrayed, and the arguments would be similar to those intended to prove that he belonged to a peculiar profession. The great Catholic religion was in harmony, from its very universality, with the Shakespeare view of all things. And so great a mind as his was would naturally be in keeping with that world-wide system, rather than with the local and more recently established forms. Hence his perfect knowledge of its spirit. The conclusion therefore would be, that while he was one with the bulk of the nation in its official form, his spirit was Catholic and Catholicity was congenial to his soul. It is some such broad view that must be taken of the question, for the laborious examination of every play and debating of Catholic and Protestant passages savors too much of the Dryasdust spirit.

The recent production of "Hamlet" at the Princess's Theatre and its intelligent performance by Mr. Wilson Barrett has turned all thoughts to this, the most absorbing and interesting of Shakespeare's plays. "Hamlet" is also, in a sense, the most Catholic of his works, and therefore, though in this respect not "as wide as a church door," will certainly serve better than any other that might be selected to illustrate his religious position. The return of Hamlet's father from the other world and the incidents connected with the Ghost are treated of in the spirit of Catholic legends, and the idea of coming back to get ease for his troubled soul, through the assistance of some one on earth, is altogether according to popular Catholic usage and belief. Only one within the Catholic circle could have thus spoken:

Ghost. My hour is almost come,
When I to sulphurous and tormenting flames
Must render up myself.

Ham. Alas, poor ghost!

To tell the secrets of my prison-house,
I could a tale unfold, whose lightest word
Would harrow up thy soul; freeze thy young
blood;
Make thy two eyes, like stars, start from their
spheres ;

Thy knotted and combined locks to part,
And each particular hair to stand on end,
Like quills upon the fretful porcupine:
But this eternal blazon must not be
To ears of flesh and blood.

This awful picture comes home to every Catholic; though the worthy Dr. Whalley of Bath sees a something soundly Protestant in the similar phrase used by Bishop Godwin Douglas,

Thus the many vices Contrakkit in the corpis be done away And purgit.

"These are," he says, "the very words of our liturgy in the office for the visitation of the sick: 'Whatsoever defilements it may have contracted being purged and done away.'" But not surely by Purgatorial flames.

After narrating the incidents of his murder, the king does not reck so much of that foul despatch as of his being cut off unprepared and without the last sacra

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Thus was I, sleeping, by a brother's hand,
Of life, of crown, of queen, at once despatched;
Cut off even in the blossoms of my sin,
Unhousel'd, disappointed, unaneal'd ;
No reckoning made, but sent to my account
With all my imperfections on my head;
O, horrible! O, horrible! most horrible!

"Unhousel'd" means without having
received the Holy Eucharist, husel being
the Anglo-Saxon substitute for the Eu-
charist; “disappointed," i.e., unappointed,
not fitted out for the last journey; while
"unoiled" or unan-
"unaneal'd" was
ointed. "No reckoning made," i.c., un-
confessed, and "sent to my account with
all my imperfections," etc., that is, unab-
solved. No wonder the Ghost bewails
his fate as "horrible! most horrible!"

The objection will naturally be made

Ghost. Pity me not, but lend thy serious that it is highly un-Catholic that a spirit

hearing

To what I shall unfold.

Ham. Speak, I am bound to hear.

suffering in Purgatory should be allowed to return to earth to incite his son to revenge his murder. There are many Cath

Ghost. So art thou to revenge, when thou olic incidents thus defaced by similar

shalt hear.

Ham. What?

Ghost. I am thy father's spirit,
Doomed for a certain term to walk the night;
And, for the day, confined to fast in fires,
Till the foul crimes, done in my days of nature,
Are burnt and purged away. But that I am
forbid

un-Christian elements, which are however
not of the essence of the story, and many
superstitions current among the vulgar,
which are unsanctioned, especially in rela-
tion to the revenge of personal or family
But here the Ghost, though he
wrongs.
uses the word "revenge," seems to mean

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