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The Monk

Chapter I.1
----Lord Angelo is precise;
Stands at a guard with envy; Scarce confesses
That his blood flows, or that his appetite
Is more to bread than stone.
Measure for Measure.
Scarcely had the Abbey Bell tolled for five minutes,and already was the Church of the
Capuchins thronged with Auditors. Do not encourage the idea that the Crowd was
assembled either from motives of piety or thirst of information. But very few were
influenced by those reasons; and in a city where superstition reigns with such despotic
sway as in Madrid, to seek for true devotion would be a fruitless attempt. The Audience
now assembled in the Capuchin Church was collected by various causes, but all of them
were foreign to the ostensible motive. The Women came to show themselves, the Men to
see the Women: Some were attracted by curiosity to hear an Orator so celebrated; Some
came because they had no better means of employing their time till the play began; Some,
from being assured that it would be impossible to find places in the Church; and one half
of Madrid was brought thither by expecting to meet the other half. The only persons truly
anxious to hear the Preacher were a few antiquated devotees, and half a dozen rival
Orators, determined to find fault with and ridicule the discourse. As to the remainder of
the Audience, the Sermon might have been omitted altogether, certainly without their
being disappointed, and very probably without their perceiving the omission.
Whatever was the occasion, it is at least certain that the Capuchin Church had never
witnessed a more numerous assembly. Every corner was filled, every seat was occupied.
The very Statues which ornamented the long aisles were pressed into the service. Boys
suspended themselves upon the wings of Cherubims; St. Francis and St. Mark bore each a
spectator on his shoulders; and St. Agatha found herself under the necessity of carrying
double. The consequence was, that in spite of all their hurry and expedition, our two
newcomers, on entering the Church, looked round in vain for places.
However, the old Woman continued to move forwards. In vain were exclamations of
displeasure vented against her from all sides: In vain was She addressed with--'I assure
you, Segnora, there are no places here.'-- 'I beg, Segnora, that you will not crowd me so
intolerably!'--'Segnora, you cannot pass this way. Bless me! How can people be so
troublesome!'--The old Woman was obstinate, and on She went. By dint of perseverance
and two brawny arms She made a passage through the Crowd, and managed to bustle
herself into the very body of the Church, at no great distance from the Pulpit. Her
companion had followed her with timidity and in silence, profiting by the exertions of her
conductress.
 
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