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ART. I.-La Regola e le Costituzioni delle Religiose nominate Sorelle della Misericordia. Roma: 1846.
N a quiet and retired street on the southern side of our metropolis, the visitor will observe a house of considerable size, removed a few yards back from the buildings in its vicinity. It is rendered still more remarkable by a row of tall trees growing immediately in front, and imparting to it an air of semirural seclusion. The appearance of these trees, which almost completely intercept the view of the street, will lead him to suspect that the building is tenanted by persons of very different tastes and dispositions, from those who ordinarily dwell in the broad streets of the fashionable quarters of a great city. There are few of these who do not wish to see the dress, the appearance, the equipages of the passers by, and it sometimes happens that they are not unwilling to be seen themselves. But the inmates of the house to which we allude, are not, it will easily be seen, of this description; and if the observer has any further doubt upon the matter, it will be at once dispelled, if he notices the constant succession of poor careworn and seemingly afflicted creatures that present themselves at the door. This will effectually convince him that it is not inhabited by any of those gay and thoughtless children of fashion, who with the selfishness but too common to their class, seek their own happiness alone, and have little concern or solicitude for the cares and miseries of others, nor by any of those numerous men of business, who
are just and honest in their dealings with their fellow-men, but keep their tenderness and affection for the members of their own immediate family. It is not to the homes of these that the poor child can come to apply for the priceless gift of knowledge, that unlike the other gifts the wealthy bestow, make not the giver poorer than he was before. It is not to the homes of these that the suffering afflicted mother can apply for help, for him or her whose health and well-being are dearer to her than her own. It is not from such as these that the poor friendless female can seek protection; for, alas! either the pampered menial drives her with scorn from the threshold, or if admitted, some greater evil than distress and poverty often awaits her within their doors. He will also perceive the countenance of the needy applicant to brighten with the smile of hope and satisfaction as they come and go, and thence be led to conclude by obvious inference, that their petition has been received and their wants attended to, in a spirit very different indeed from that modern legislative relief, which holds with unpitying hand the scales between the claims of utter destitution upon the one side, and the stern threats of despairing famine upon the other, and will give the one only just as much as will save society from the dangers of the other. He will perceive that it is not one of those institutions which have been established according to the cold maxims of political economy for the mitigation of social misery; and if he asks some one child of the many he will see either entering or coming out, repeating perhaps to her companion the lesson of her catechism she has just received, or accosts one of the poor women who meet him at the entrance, and inquires the name and occupations of those to whom the mansion belongs, he will be answered joyfully and with some expression of wonder at his seeming ignorance, that the house about which he is so curious and solicitous, is a convent of the Sisters of Mercy.
Before we conduct him to the interior of this establishment, we must premise a few words of notice on the good and holy woman to whom it owes its existence. Mrs. Catherine McAuley, was born at Stormanstown House in the neighbourhood of Dublin, on the 17th of September in the year 1778. She was the eldest of a family of three children. At a very early age she had the misfortune of losing her father, who was a truly edifying and religious