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about my family. I inquired of the gaoler if I might not communicate with them.
'I will send some one,' he replied, 'to give you news of your mother, but it is forbidden to write or receive letters.' I made Claude (that was the turnkey's name) understand that my father would certainly pay the pistole, and recompense him for any service he might render me. I prayed him to tell my family that my health was good, that I was very tranquil. He went away; and in the evening when the night came, and the closing of the doors and the general prison duties brought him to my dungeon, he told me that my mother had remained a long time in the parlour, and had given him some fruit for me. My mother's grief had touched his heart, and he provided me with the pistole,—that is, he brought me a rickety old table, a straw chair, mouldy and damp sheets, and a grey couch, which I can fancy I see now, and on the back of which was written in pencil, ‘Labedoyere slept here, the- ;' the rest was effaced.
It was the unfortunate Colonel Labedoyere, who, three days before, had quitted this bed to march to his death.
The dungeon triumphed, as may easily be believed, over my organization of fourteen years. The privation of air and exercise, the grief of not seeing those I loved, the damp atmosphere in which I lived, made me ill. A month had passed since I was placed in prison, and the doctors insisted on my walking in the yard. I was led by Claude into an oblong court, about ten or twelve feet below the surface of the surrounding streets.
When they saw that I was better they remanded me to
my dungeon. I had breathed the air three times in eight days.
Thus I became acquainted with the prison. An excellent lesson for the life of a man in the nineteenth century! a lesson which teaches him to disbelieve the fancies of modern philanthropists, and the sublimity of new institutions, and to look closely so as to understand the society which surrounds us. For an ingenuous mind, full of youthful hopes, this lesson brought with it a bitter and ineffaceable sadness. The unfortunate beings in the conspiracy, in which they pretended I was implicated, were condemned to death or exile. As for me, while I wept, lying on my bed, listening to the bells of Notre Dame, and contemplating with sadness the oblique line of a long sunbeam which fell through the air hole of my dungeon, the noise of steps, heavier and more rapid than usual, struck my ears. Everything is regular in a prison: the gaoler walks like the pendulum of a clock, and never hurries himself. Claude turned the great key briskly in the lock, and said, “You are at liberty, and a cabriolet is waiting below for you.'
I knew not in truth what to do with my liberty. The news made me giddy. Claude made up my bundle. I left him to conduct me. I found my mother in her bed extremely ill. I remember well her kisses and her tears, and the penetrating and vital freshness of the air. It was the month of May: the perfume of the garden where I met and embraced my father, the profound emotion of the old man, the tears which ran down his withered cheeks, and the strange feelings which, after a month's solitary confinement, made
my whole body tremble, and seemed ready to kill me with the intensity of life and happiness. I remember, also, the words of my father, leaning on the crutch which supported his limb shattered by a shell, when standing in the centre of the grassplot, his broad forehead raised to the sky, as though he were still member of a Popular Assembly, or still held his Chair of Rhetoric. "My son, said he to me, emphatically, the soil of France is too scorching for you; you have nothing more to do here; you leave for England the day after to-morrow.''
Such is the tale which an eminent French writer tells us of what happened to him in his youth. Such things, let us remind you, cannot be done in England. They could 300 years ago, but they cannot now.
It has become a saying in England, that “every man's house is his castle." I think it was the great Lord Chatham who said, “Every wind of heaven may whistle around it, every storm may enter it, but the king cannot—the king dare not.” We owe the liberty we enjoy to the struggles of our noble forefathers, and we ought ever to guard it as a precious legacy.
Yes: liberty of speech and of action is the birthright of Englishmen, so long as they do not commit trespass upon the person or property of another. And this is as it should be among men all over the world.
But the greatest blessing of liberty is that which acknowledges the right of every man to read the word of God for himself,
“He is the freeman whom the truth makes free,
And all are slaves besides."
THE BLIND BOY MARTYR. In the reign of Queen Mary of England, when Bishop Hooper was about to be burned by the papists, a blind boy, by much importunity, prevailed on the guard to bring him to the bishop. This boy had been imprisoned in Gloucester for confessing the truth. After the bishop had examined him concerning his faith, and the cause of his imprisonment, he looked on him stedfastly, and, with tears in his eyes, said, “Ah, poor boy! God hath taken from thee thy sight, for what reason he best knoweth, but he bath endued thy soul with the eye of knowledge and faith. God give thee grace to pray continually to him that thou lose not that sight, for thou wouldst then be blind in both body and soul.”
The boy's name was Thomas Doury. On his final examination he was brought before Dr. Williams, Chancellor of Gloucester, who sat near the south-door of the Cathedral Church, and examined him on the article of transubstantiation. “Dost thou not believe that after the words of consecration spoken by the priest, there remaineth the very real body of Christ in the sacrament of the altar ?"
“No," said the blind boy, “I do not."
"Then,” said the Chancellor, “thou art an heretic, and shalt be burned. But who taught thee this heresy ?"
“You, Master Chancellor !" “Where, I pray thee?"
I "Even in yonder place,” said the boy, turning and pointing where the pulpit stood.
" When did I teach thee so ?”
Doury answered, “When you preached there a sermon to all men upon the sacrament. You said it was to be received spiritually, by faith, and not carnally and really, as the papists have hitherto taught.”
The shameless apostate answered, “Then do as I have done, and thou shalt live and escape burning.”
Then the blind boy said, “Though you can so easily mock God and your conscience, yet will I not do so."
“Then God have mercy upon thee," said the Chancellor, “for I will read the condemnation sentence against thee.”
“God's will be fulfilled," said the young martyr.
Hereupon the register being moved with the scene, stood up and said to the Chancellor, “Fie, for shame, man! Will you read the sentence against him and condemn yourself. Away, away, and let some other give sentence and judgment."
“No register," said the cruel Chancellor, “I will obey the law, and give sentence according to mine office."
He did so, and on the very same day the blind boy was led to the place of execution at Gloucester, and along with one Thomas Croker, a poor bricklayer, both joyfully yielded their bodies to be burned in the fire, and their souls into the hands of Jesus Christ.
And this shocking act of cruelty was perpetrated in this England of ours 300 years ago. We want you to know and remember such things as these, that you may be thankful to God that you live at a time when such monsters as this chancellor cannot burn you alive for not believing the lies of popery.