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In Convent Walls The Story of the Despensers   By: (1836-1893)

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In Convent Walls, by Emily Sarah Holt.


The historical portion of this tale has been partially narrated in one of my previous volumes, "In All Time of our Tribulation," in which the Despenser story is begun, and its end told from another point of view. That volume left Isabelle of France at the height of her ambition, in the place to reach which she had been plotting so long and so unscrupulously. Here we see the Nemesis come upon her and the chief partner of her guilt; the proof that there is a God that judgeth in the earth. It is surely one of the saddest stories of history sad as all stories are which tell of men and women whom God has endowed richly with gifts, and who, casting from them the Divine hand which would fain lift them up into the light of the Golden City, deliberately choose the pathway of death, and the blackness of darkness for ever. Few women have had grander opportunities given them than Isabelle for serving God and making their names blessed and immortal. She chose rather to serve self: and thereby inscribed her name on one of the blackest pages of England's history, and handed down her memory to eternal execration. For "life is to do the will of God" the true blessedness and glory of life here, no less than the life hereafter.

"Oh, the bitter shame and sorrow, That a time should ever be When I let the Saviour's pity Plead in vain, and proudly answered `All of self, and none of Thee!'

"Yet He found me; I beheld Him Bleeding on the accursed tree, Heard Him pray, `Forgive them, Father!' And my wistful heart said faintly, `Some of self, and some of Thee!'

"Day by day, His tender mercy, Healing, helping, full and free, Sweet and strong, and, ah! so patient, Brought me lower, while I whispered, `Less of self, and more of Thee!'

"Higher than the highest heaven, Deeper than the deepest sea, Lord, Thy love at last hast conquered: Grant me now my heart's desire `None of self, and all of Thee!'"




"Heaven does with us, as we with torches do Not light them for themselves."


"It is of no use, Jack," quoth I. "I never did love her, I never can, and never shall."

"And I never bade you, Sissot," answered he. "Put that in belike, prithee."

"But you bade me write the story out," said I. "Ay, I did so. But I left you free to speak your mind of any body that should come therein, from a bishop to a baa lamb," said he.

"Where shall I go for mine ink?" I made answer: "seeing that some part of my tale, to correspond to the matter, should need to be writ in vernage, [Note 1] and some other in verjuice."

"Keep two quills by you," saith he, "with inkhorns of the twain, and use either according to the matter."

"Ay me!" said I. "It should be the strangest and woefullest tale ever writ by woman."

"The more need that it should be writ," quoth Jack, "by them that have lived it, and can tell the sooth fastness [truth] thereof. Look you, Sissot, there are men enough will tell the tale of hearsay, such as they may win of one and another, and that is like to be full of guile and contrariousness. And many will tell it to win favour of those in high place, and so shall but the half be told. Thou hast lived through it, and wist all the inwards thereof, at least from thine own standing spot. Let there be one tale told just as it was, of one that verily knew, and had no purpose to win gold or favour, but only to speak sooth fastness."

"You set me an hard task, Jack!" I said, and I think I sighed.

"Easier to do, maybe, than to reckon on," saith he, in his dry, tholemode [Note 2] way. "Thou needest write but one word at once, and thou canst take thine own time to think what word to write."

"But I have no parchment," said I. I am a little afraid I coveted not any, for I fancied not the business at all. It was Jack who wanted the story writ out fair, not I... Continue reading book >>

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