Con. That is as I shall choose. But I’ll
not stop you.
I do not build with straw. I’ll trust my pupils
To worldlings’ honeyed tongues, who make long prayers,
And enter widows’ houses for pretence.
There dwells the lady, who has chosen too long
The better part, to have it taken from her.
Besides that with strange dreams and revelations
She has of late been edified.
C. Wal. Bah! but they will serve your turn—and hers.
Con. What do you mean?
C. Wal. When you have cut her off from child and friend, and even Isentrudis and Guta, as I hear, are thrust out by you to starve, and she sits there, shut up like a bear in a hole, to feed on her own substance; if she has not some of these visions to look at, how is she, or any other of your poor self-gorged prisoners, to help fancying herself the only creature on earth?
Con. How now? Who more than she, in faith and practice, a living member of the Communion of Saints? Did she not lately publicly dispense in charity in a single day five hundred marks and more? Is it not my continual labour to keep her from utter penury through her extravagance in almsgiving? For whom does she take thought but for the poor, on whom, day and night, she spends her strength? Does she not tend them from the cradle, nurse them, kiss their sores, feed them, bathe them, with her own hands, clothe them, living and dead, with garments, the produce of her own labour? Did she not of late take into her own house a paralytic boy, whose loathsomeness had driven away every one else? And now that we have removed that charge, has she not with her a leprous boy, to whose necessities she ministers hourly, by day and night? What valley but blesses her for some school, some chapel, some convent, built by her munificence? Are not the hospices, which she has founded in divers towns, the wonder of Germany?—wherein she daily feeds and houses a multitude of the infirm poor of Christ? Is she not followed at every step by the blessings of the poor? Are not her hourly intercessions for the souls and bodies of all around incessant, world-famous, mighty to save? While she lives only for the Church of Christ, will you accuse her of selfish isolation?
C. Wal. I tell you, monk, if she were not healthier by God’s making than ever she will be by yours, her charity would be by this time double-distilled selfishness; the mouths she fed, cupboards to store good works in; the backs she warmed, clothes-horses to hang out her wares before God; her alms not given, but fairly paid, a halfpenny for every halfpenny-worth of eternal life; earth her chess-board, and the men and women on it merely pawns for her to play a winning game—puppets and horn-books to teach her unit holiness—a private workshop in which to work out her own salvation. Out upon such charity!
Con. God hath appointed that our virtuous deeds
Each merit their rewards.