At An Early
Age, Therefore, Before My Mind Had Dawned Upon The World And Its
Delights, Or Known Any Thing Of It Beyond The Precincts Of My Father's
Palace, I Was Sent To A Convent, The Superior Of Which Was My Uncle,
And Was Confided Entirely To His Care.
My uncle was a man totally estranged from the world; he had never
relished, for he had never tasted its pleasures; and he deemed rigid
self-denial as the great basis of Christian virtue.
He considered every
one's temperament like his own; or at least he made them conform to it.
His character and habits had an influence over the fraternity of which
he was superior. A more gloomy, saturnine set of beings were never
assembled together. The convent, too, was calculated to awaken sad and
solitary thoughts. It was situated in a gloomy gorge of those mountains
away south of Vesuvius. All distant views were shut out by sterile
volcanic heights. A mountain stream raved beneath its walls, and eagles
screamed about its turrets.
I had been sent to this place at so tender an age as soon to lose all
Distinct recollection of the scenes I had left behind. As my mind
expanded, therefore, it formed its idea of the world from the convent
and its vicinity, and a dreary world it appeared to me. An early tinge
of melancholy was thus infused into my character; and the dismal
stories of the monks, about devils and evil spirits, with which they
affrighted my young imagination, gave me a tendency to superstition,
which I could never effectually shake off.
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