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Full text of "An answer to Six months in a convent, exposing its falsehoods and manifold absurdities"

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134 Washington Strfst- 


Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1836, by John H. 
Eastburn, in the Clerk's Office of the District Court of Massachusetts. 


It is an old adage, that a lie will travel many leagues, while truth 
is putting on his boots. No doubt such will be the case, with the 
•stories of Rebecca T. Reed, aided as they are by men, who have 
enlisted in the crusade against Catholics and Catholic lustitiitioiis. 

The book recently published by her and her disciples, entitled " Six 
Months in a Convent," is of an extraordinary character. It is be- 
lieved, that no book professing to state facts, ever issued from the 
press, containing so little truth, in proportion to the whole matter. 
Even the title page contains a mistatement, as she was in the Con- 
vent only four months and a few days. Her part of the work is 
ushered in by an introduclion, written by one or more of her vota- 
ries, equal in quantity of matter to the whole of her narrative ; it is like 
one of those coming events, which -'cast their shadows before;" — 
if the body of it was intended to impose upon the public, the intro- 
duction very faithfully aids in the design. There maybe some dif- 
ference, however, in the moral responsibility of the parties, if if be 
tru(! as the writers of the latter say, that they fully believe eVerv 
thing stated in the former. If it shall appear, as we believe it will, 
that Miss R's narrative is a tissue of misrepresentations calculated 
and designed to destroy the character of the Ursuline Community, 
the Committee of Publication as they are called, nuist hang upon 
one horn of a dilemma. Either they believe it or they do not. Tf 
they are honest believers, their understandings are brought into con- 
tempt, if not, they are willing accessaries to as wicked a production 
as ever disgraced the press. The man who can give credence to 
the alleged conspiracy of Bishop Fen wick, and the Superior to send 
Miss Reed against her inclination across the country to some place 
in Canada, or to the story about the bushel of gold, is past the in- 
fluence of reason. lie may at once be delivered over to the class of 
incurables, without the least danger of mistake. 

But we do not believe in their truth in this particular. The man who 
could write that introduction is not the person to be so easily duped. 
On the other hand he shows that he wants neither the will nor the 
capacity to dupe others. The object of this |)art of the hook is not 


truth or the public good, or the vindication of private character, as 
is pretended, but to exasperate the public mind against Catholics 
and Catholic itistitutions; to persecute them through the medium of 
l)opular opinion, and drive them from the country as the enemies of 
true religion and of civil liberty. Not content with seeing the few 
defenceless and pious females composing the Ursuline Community, 
driven from their habitation at midnight and their property destroy- 
ed ; not satisfied with screening the perpetrators from punishment, 
and even exhibiting these worthies as public benefactors; fnot in 
direct terms jierliaps but by their acts, and the general scope of their 
arguments;) they have no.v finished another act of the drama, by a 
most foul attempt to blast the fair character of this Community and 
its individual members. It has been with a view to accotnplish these 
designs, that the narrative of this weak-minded fanatical female has 
been given to the public. It was seen that her stories wouUl answer 
to gull the ignorant and unreflecting portion of the people, and that 
it would give themselves an opportunity to figure in her train: — 
they come forward like the Chorus in the old drama, or a Commit- 
tee of arrangements in modei'n times, to make the spectacle complete 
and to fill up the chasms in the chain of fiction and romance. They 
saw that the narrative must be fortified and the credit of the author 
sustained in advance, by the machinery of a Committee of Publica- 
tion, — by consultation with " sedate and respectable ])ersons, and by 
prayerful consideration of their duty." Such canting language from 
the reputed author of the introduction, is a sure presage of an evil 
design to impose upon the reader, and we shall prove to the meanest 
capacity, that the avowed design of the publication of Miss R's nar- 
rative was not the true one, but that it was to serve merely as a 
scaffolding to the introduction, tmd that the latter is the real book 
designed to write down Catholicity, and to increase and extend the 
hatred and intolerance, already existing on the part of Protestant, 
toward Catholic christians. If we are right, the design is a most un- 
holy one, and in violation of the most extolled precepts of the chris- 
tian religion. 

The introduction is marked in sufficiently strong lines, with the 
chicanery of the lawyer, the zeal of the sectarian, the intolerance of 
the bigot, and that disregard of truth and accuracy which so pecu- 
liarly belongs to the author of the narrative which follows it. The 
three first of these characteristics it will hardly be necessary to point 
out to the intelligent reader ; and to the prejudiced and determined 
believers in the book, it would be useless. When the names of the 
publishing Committee shall be known, we shall no doubt find ex- 
cellent specimens of each. 

It was seen from the moment of the publication of the Report of 


the Boston Investigating Committee, that Miss Reed and her repre- 
sentation, was an object of the greatest possible solicitude to the en- 
emies of the Convent. It is difficult to conceive that there was any 
thing in her own character to make her a person of so much inter- 
est and consequence. Several editors of religious and secular pa- 
pers came out in her favor, and spoke of her as a personal acquain- 
tance, and the report seemed to be published in several papers, 
solely with a view to find fault with it for the manner in which 
she had been treated in it. She was called the "hitherto respectable" 
the "interesting," the "amiable," the "intelligent young lady" 
" daughter of a native citizen," and that her character should be 
sacrificed, or even brought into suspicion, for the sake of defending 
the eight or ten foreign females in the Convent, was considered lit- 
tle less than treason. In a word, the report, though made after a 
iong and careful enquiry, by a large number of the most intelligent 
gentlemen in the city, was attacked without mercy, as unfair in its 
premises and conclusions, and unworthy of confidence, so far as 
Miss Reed was implicated. 

A letter published in the Courier, early in January, by Judge Fay, 
for another purpose, (imprudently, it seems, had he regarded his 
own peace) refers the editor to Miss Reed for information as to the 
causes which led to the destruction of the Convent, plainly intima- 
ting, like the Boston Committee Report, that her stories materially 
contributed to it. These were the only publications, as far as we 
know, that contained any thing like a reflection upon the character 
of Miss R. In addition to a prompt denial by Miss R. of the justice of 
the suggestions as regarded her, in a letter to the editor of the Couri- 
er, republished in the introduction to Miss R's book, and written no 
fioubt by the same hand, many other articles appeared in the same 
and other papers, charging the hapless Judge with an ungenerous 
attack on an innocent and defenceless female. Those things which 
were too scurrilous or too false to appear in the Boston papers, were 
sent to New York, to come back to this community in a paper of the 
most reckless character, called the Protestant Vindicator. The 
Judge might well have exclaimed with poor Lear, 

" The little dogs and all, 
Tray, Blanche, and Sweetheart, see, they bark at me." 

In the same spirit, and with the same view, he is treated in the in- 
troduction in a manner, unfair and malignant to the last degree. 
Even the remarks of Buzzell's counsel, to the Jury, — counsel ■paid 
to defend a desperate cause, and allowed to assume any position con- 
sistent with law and evidence, are introduced as an evidence of an 
excitement of mind on the part of Judge F., in order to diminish the 
weight of his testimony. This might have been pardonable in them. 


but in the writers of the introduction it is contemptible, and shows 
to what desperate shifts they were willing to resort, to protect the 
credit of their protegee. 

Mrs. F., is also introduced, without the least reason, and connect- 
ed with the most slanderous suggestions. See pages 33- — 34. The 
writer says, "One of the few conversations she (MissR.) held on the 
subject, was the one which Judge F. has brought before the public, and 
misrepresented, with marked disregard to delicacy, because the conver- 
sation he uses to establish his charge of conspiracy against the Con- 
vent, was held vyith his own wife, at her urgent solicitation." Now, 
by looking back to page 26, it will be perceived that the Judge's let- 
ter alludes to no conversation of MissR. with any person in partic- 
ular. On the contrary he speaks of Miss R. as a person "who had 
been about Boston and the vicinity- for the last two or three years, 
announcing herself as the humble instrument in tiie hands of Provi- 
dence to destroy the institution at Mt. Benedict ;" plainly intimating 
that it was a common language held to diflerent jicrsons, not in 
Cambridge particularly, but in Boston and the vicinity. Does not this 
show a consciousness of guilt on the part of Miss Reed? This is a 
fair specimen of the disregard of truth and accuracy, which marks 
almost every page of the introduction. Like master, like man ; as 
the book is, so is its preface. Further, two short notes are inserted 
(it is wonderful they should have been preserved so long,) to prove 
^^ urgent solicitation and pressing earnestness for an interview," 
which they have the hardihood to say "the Judge has obliged the 
Committee to publish." They say that Mrs. F. solicited an interview 
and that Miss R. declined calling at Mrs. F's, but was willing to 
have Mrs. F. call on her, and yet the note of Mrs. F. which follows 
immediately after, proves that she was not very anxious in the mat- 
ter, as she gave up the opportunity of seeing her for some other en- 
gagement. It also proves, that except on that day, Miss R. was 
willing to call on Mrs. F. as the letter in answer to Miss R's note 
fixes the hour for Miss R. to call. Then follows the unfounded and 
injurious suggestion that a conversation drawn from an artless 
young lady, (very artless, very young, and very much of a lady !) was 
treasured up nearly two years, to be made public in a distorted form,, 
in order to charge upon her a conspiracy. 

The next paragraph is also of an infamous character. We know, 
say they, that it has been thrown out by way of threat, that should 
her narrative be published, "her veracity would be destroyed by 
means of spies in the guise of friends, who had watched her ever 
since she had escaped from the Convent, and taken down her con- 
versations in writing in order to detect her in some contradictions^ 
&c. &c. This is a Reedism in perfection. Her conscience awakes 


Vier suspicions. If she never lield any or but very few conversationh 
on this subject, as she says, wlio would have conceived such an idea ? 
Her Committee say, siie had always lived retired in the bosom of 
her family — never told her stories even to her own sisters, and but 
to two other persons, and yet her conversations are of so much con- 
sequence in her own eyes, and so extensively known or suspected, as 
to make it an object with somebody, to profess a counterfeit friend- 
ship for her, attend her at ail times, and be prepared to write down 
her trasli, and after all, unless she permitted her narrative to be pub- 
lished, her veracity was not to be attacked, and all this immense 
precaution would be lost. At the close of this specimen of her 
and their understanding, Mrs. F's name is connected with it in 
terms of apparent respect on the part of the writer, and yet in a 
manner calculated to excite the suspicion that she might have sought 
this conversation for such a sinister purpose. 

The introduction speaks, in several places, about threats and de- 
nunciations against Miss R. and all who should aid in the publica- 
tion of her book, and anticipates from the friends of the Ursulines 
the most formidable attacks upon her veracity. Was not "con- 
science father to that thought?" The suggestion that the publica- 
tion was opposed by the Ursulines or their friends, is entirely a fic- 
tion. It was clearly for their interest that her stories should be ex- 
hibited in print, in a tangible form, so that they might be distinctly 
known, and refuted if false. It was vastly more injurious to have 
them circulated privately, so that the poison might gradually diffuse 
itself, without the possibility of remedy, than by pubhcation to bring 
them directh' to a trial of their truth. Had all Miss R's stories been 
printed within the first year of their birth, the Convent would proba- 
bly have been standing at this day. She had not discernment 
enough to understand this, but doubtless her advisers had, and there- 
fore resisted the publication, which her own wishes and her own 
vanity, would have long ago accomplished. The fact is, the narrative 
would not have been worth the publication, but for the destruction 
of the Convent, and the public excitement thereby created. It was 
the circulation of her stories in manuscript and in conversation, that 
was to destroy thetI!onvent ; and the destruction of the Convent was 
to secure a sale for her book ! As a manuscript it aided in the 
work of iniquity ; as a book it secured "the wages of iniquity." 

In pages 41 — i'i, the publishing elders undertake to show that 
the institution at Mt. lienedict, was an attempt to establish a Pro- 
testant school, on a plan of secrecy ; that it was not accessible at 
"proper times, by the parents and friends of the inmates," and that 
the Boston Committee, in this respect, were mistaken: — that Pro- 
testant parents "were not permitted to enter any other room in that 


spacious establishment, than the common parlor ; and that even the 
physician, as they understand, (from Miss R. no doubt,) never saw 
any religeuse, to prescribe for them in their private apartments." It 
was reasonable to expect an attack upon the Ursulines as a secret 
society, when we have been told that the editor of the Advocate is 
one of the publishing Committee. The rules of the Convent, the 
testimony of many individuals, and particularly of Dr. Thompson, 
physician to the Community, were a perfect justification of the Bos- 
ton Report, and establish, beyond doubt, its correctness in this par- 
ticular. Because JVlessrs. Fay and Thaxter had testified that they 
had never gone beyond the parlor, but in one instance, and had nev- 
er sought to do so, they state as a necessary conclusion, that they 
were never permitted. They not only mistate the facts but make 
inferences not warranted even by the facts as assumed by themselves. 
Such is their accuracy in matters of fact and logic. The rules of the 
Community, and the statements of Dr. Thompson and others, prove^ 
that there was no greater restraint upon visiters, than was consistent 
with the duties and occupations of the inmates and the decencies of 
a well-regulated family.' 

The sage publifchers, ('page 28) ask, with a triumphant sneer at the 
Boston Committee and Judge F., as if the question were unanswer- 
able, how a youjig girl, in the humble walks of life, could have been 
the instrument of getting up a mob to destroy the Ursuline Convent 
by violence! If they had any recollection of the history of mankind, 
they would see that nothing is more easy. Do they not remember 
the popish plot, m English history? That only about 150 years ago 
(1678) Titus Gates, a man of infamous character, and ordinary tal- 
ents, by the mere force of impudent falsehood, and lying i/ivention, 
threw all England into a state of such drcadfid alarm, that for a long 
time, the whole population of London thanked God, as soon as they 
opened their eyes in the morning, that they had not been murdered 
or burnt up by the Catholics, during the night ? Some of the best 
blood of England was shed by means of this wretch's perjuries, 
aided by a few others, acting perhaps as a Committee of Publica- 
tion, and vouchers for his veracity. The Government were imposed 
upon, and Parliament gravely resolved, that the whole kingdom was 
in imminent danger from a hellish popish plot ; and the House of 
Commons actually expelled a member for venturing to doubt its real- 
ity. Innocent men were capitally convicted, by juries, against the 
strongest circumstantial and positive evidence, and the death, im- 
f)ri.soninent or exile, of many excellent, pious, and distinguished 

1 Sea Dr. Thompson's alTidav]t,Bnd letters of parents, m the Appendix 


persons, were the awful consequences of tlie lies of one worthless 
individual. The eyes of the public were not opened for two years 
to the truth of rhe case, nor until the wretch was convicted of perju- 
ry. Even then, such hold had error got on the popular mind, and so 
fortified by its own ingenuity in finding other circumstances to sup- 
port it, that probably a greater part of the whole people of England 
died in the belief of the plot. It is now a matter of history, that this 
famous plot, which, for a time destroyed the happiness of millions, 
had no foundation whatever, but in the im[)udent invention of an 
abandoned individual. It is also worthy of remark, that this wretch 
was first of the Episcopal Church, afterwards; a Catholic, and then 
was reconverted to his first faith.' 

It would be useful to those readers, who do not recollect it, to 
read the account of this plot in Hume, Lingard, or some other his- 
torian. It is a valuable lesson on the subject of popular delusions, 
particularly where religion is concerned, and it may assist us in 
forming just opinions of passing events. Now why should not a 
young woman of great apparent sincerity and religions zeal, if she 
were utterly destitute of a regard to truth, ov possessed a mind of 
such singular construction as to change the truth into " all 
monstrous shapes" of falsehood, be able to produce the effects 
which have been ascribed to her ? Her stories are related, 
for the most part, to persons who are entirely unacquainted with 
the subjects of them ; they come from a person who has had sufli- 
cient op])ortunities to know tlie truth. To the superficial reader, 
they may ap|>ear to have an air of truth. Mankind naturally speak 
the truth, and unless guarded by a want of confidence in the speak- 
er — by our own superior knowledge, or by the incredibility of the 
tale, we naturally yield assent. 

Now were the accounts of the Ursuline Community, as found 
in Miss R's. book true, it is not surprising that it should become 
odious in popular opinion. If her friends tell the truth, her narra- 
tive is fully believed by the writer and his colleagues ; and that, in 
consequence thereof, the Convent is to them an object of hatred and 
disgust, and although they might not be the persons to put the torch 
to the building, they would be ready to thank God that in his Prov- 
idence it was destroyed. A hundred cases of popular delusion 
might be cited to sliew, that there is nothing at all improbable or 
incredible, in the supposition of her instrumentality in an event, 
which has involved so many individuals in distress and inflicted 

1 To make the parallel complete, it is only necessary for Miss R., finding how readily 
lier present disclosures are believed, to come out occasionally with anew set, giving each 
aeries a deeper dye. 

upon us a national disgrace. Joanna Soutiicote, witliin a few years^ 
past, in enlightened England, although "old, illiterate and vulgar," 
succeeded in imposing upon a vast number of people, and some of 
them well educated, the most ridiculous notions as gospel truth. ^ 

The publishers might at least have remembered Matthias, the 
New York Prophet, a tale of tlie last week's newspaper. Nobody 
ought to know better than the publishers, who are said to be many 
of them Editors of newspapers, that lies are often even more plaus- 
ible than truth, for this simple reason, that lies may be adapted to 
the prejudices and cravings of the popular mirid, whereas truth is 
unbending and is very apt to be unpalatable. They were, there- 
fore, the very persons to understand the value of Miss R's. book, 
and the very last that should stand gentlemen ushers to its intro- 
duction into the world. 

The writers of the introduction assume as true, whatever Miss 
R. states to them, relative to her design in going to the Convent and 
leaving it, and as to what took place while she was there and since 
she left it. On these assumptions they argue, and if untrue, as we 
trust to prove them, the conclusions are necessarily fallacious. It 
is the work of a lawyer, who makes his evidence to suit his argu- 
ment, and takes care to overlook every thing on the other side. 
They are evidently actuated by strong sympathy for the incendia- 
ries ; and although in terms they deprecate the destruction of the 
Convent by a mob, they mean to satisfy the individuals who compos- 
ed it, that they have done a work not "meet for repentance." The 
writers strive only to justify the end, well knowing that the end with 
the mob would justify the means. 

To go over the matters of fact contained in the introduction, with 
the arguments founded on them, and point out their inaccuracies fur- 
ther than we have done, would be tedious; and as we shall present 
a very different view of the case, both as to fact and conclusions, — if 
we succeed, the fallacies of the introduction will be sufficiently ex- 
posed without further comment. The chief design of it is declared 
to be, the vindication of Miss R. from the aspersions cast on her, by 
the report of the Boston Committee and others, who have affirmed 
or intimated, that her falsehoods were instrumental in the destruc- 
tion of the Convent. If it be proved to a reasonable degree of cer- 
tainty, that the stories originating with her were unfounded, and at 
the same time calculated to make the people in the vicinity believe 
that the Convent was a wicked and corrupt place, and that without 
this belief, founded upon these stories, there was no other adequate 
cause for the popular rage which destroyed it, we think that no one 
will pretend that she has been treated with unnecessary severity. 

I See Espriella's Letters — by Southey. 


We have, then, two principal subjects of inquiry that present 
*.liemselves for consideration : Jirst, in relation to Miss Reed's con- 
•duct after leaving the Convent ; and second, as to the falsehood or 
truth of the stories then reported by her, and now in a modified 
form sanctioned by an avowed publication. 

On the 18th day of January, (not February) 1832, after dinner, 
Miss Reed left the Convent, without the knowledge of the Superior, 
or any of the Community, and went to Mr. K's who keeps the toll- 
house on the Medford turnpike and within a few rods of the Convent 
grounds, on the eastern side, where there is only a common rail 
fence to be passed to reach tlie road. This departure is carefully 
represented as an escape in all her accounts, written or unwritten, and 
in the advertisements of her book. An escape implies self-liberation 
i'rom restraint, or danger, as from a prison or from some in)pending 
«vil ; her first attack upon the Convent therefore is that which is im- 
plied in her manner of leaving it, and the term used to describe it. Her 
going to Mr. K's in the manner she herself describes, must naturally 
have excited in his family the worst surmises. Such, we are credi- 
bly informed, was the fact, and his location and employment were 
well calculated to diffuse in Charlestown and Medford, where Miss 
Reed's father had lived and where she was known, any scandal 
against the Ursulines to which the pretended escape had given rise. 
She must have been there several hours. Her extraordinary con- 
duct, her dark insinuations against the Convent, as the reason of 
her quitting it, were so disgusting to Mrs. G. who came over to Mr. 
K's in the evening, with her brother, in consequence of the message 
sent by Miss R., that she actually left her at K's, and set out on her 
return home ; but in consequence of her brother's suggestion she 
went back and took her home with her. She remained with Mrs. 
G. about five weeks during which time, she told a great many of 
the stories contained in her book, but upon a certain occasion 
disavowed them all. Mrs. G. who had been strongly interested 
for her before she went into the Convent, and had made very 
great exertions to serve her, accprding. to her means, became satis- 
fied of her falsehood and duplicity and got rid of her as best 
she could. She then went to Mrs. Paine's for a short time, and 
from there to ,pay a farewell visit to her relations, previous to her 
removal as she said, to some nunnery at the South, ; all this time 
she continued a Catholic and prosecuted her purpose of becoming a 
sister of Charity with Mary Francis, (Miss Kennedy.) During her 
residence with Mrs. G. and down to the 11th of August, 18-34, wher- 
ever she was, she constantly expressed her fears of the Catholics, 
lest they should catch her and kill her. While at her brother's at 
East Cambridge, it was reported among the neighbours, that she 


was afraid to sleep in aj-oom alone, on this account. When with 
the Catholics however, she pretended to be afraid of her own rela- 
tions, and when she had returned to them, pretended to be in fear of 
the Catholics. 

When at East Cambridge about two months after leaving the Con- 
vent, she sent a note to Miss D. of Cambridge, pressing her to get 
away from the Convent, a Miss Shea,' a lay sister and domestic in 
that establishment, who had formerly been a faithful and valued do- 
mestic in Niss D's family. Miss R. represented to Miss D. that this 
woman was very unhappy there, and wanted to get away, but could 
not; and that the interference of Miss D. was necessary to her res- 
cue. Miss D. as a member of a charitable society for the relief of 
sick poor, had been at the house of Miss R's father during her 
mother's last illness, and had seen iier there and at meeting in Cam- 
bridge. From some prejudice or other cause. Miss D. paid no regard 
to the note, a second came very pressing to the same pvu'po^e, and 
equally disregarded. Then a message was sent, requesting Miss D. to 
call down to her brother's at East Cambridge to see her on the sub- 
ject, as Miss R. was afraid to go to Miss D's, for fear of tl>e Catholics. 
Miss D. did not happen to believe these stories, but rephed that if 
Miss R. wished to see her, she must come to her. Finding all other 
plans had failed. Miss R. went to Miss D. at Cambridge, notwith- 
standing her fear of the Catholics, and told her stories ; Miss D. was 
still incredulous as to Miss Shea's being restrained against her will, 
and declined taking any step in the matter. The female who had 
been the object of Miss R's solicitude, shortly after left the Convent, 
came to Miss D's, and entirely contradicted the representations, 
made about herself by Miss R. By this proceeding, we venture to 
say that any impartial reader will agree, that Miss R. in one instance 
has been an active instrument in slandering the Convent. 

Her conversations about the Convent were full of insinuations, 
that she could tell more than she did. Dr. Thompson tells an 
amusing instance of that kind, in speaking of Mrs. Mary Magdalen, 
who died, during the "six nvonths."^ ^ Oh! Doctor," said she " no 
tongue can tell, what that poor creature suilered ;" but on being 
pressed to be more particular, she did not dare to trust herself beyond 
that significant exclamation ! 

It was very evident from the examination of the Convent by Mr, 
Cutter, and subsequently by the Selectmen of Charlestown, that 
their minds were strongly impressed with the idea of foul practices 
there. They could take the words of the Superior and other ladies 

1 See Mi3s R's book, page 173. 
2f5pe appenrtix. Dr. T's afnrtavit 


for nothing; they must see Mrs. Mary John ; and when tlie Select- 
men had seen and questioned her alone, and were satisfied as it re- 
spected her, they still thought it necessary to go over every part of 
the premises to look tor something more. They even examined the 
tomb. It was understood that they were looking for a person, sup- 
posed to be murdercil. It could not be Mrs. Mary John, vvho was 
with them alone. Was it not " Mary Francis.-" Will Miss K. say 
that she had not before this suggested to any person, that she, 
"Miss Mary F." was put out of the way, for having influenced her 
to leave the Convent. Again, it was believed by many people, — 
notwithstanding Mr. Cutter who knew Mary John perfectly well, had 
seen her alone and also in company with the Selectmen, and had so 
Slated publicly and ])rivatcly, — that he had not seen her. lie says 
tiiatlie was told by several persons, that they did not believe he had 
seen her, although he might think he had, but that he had been im- 
posed upon by a fictitious jjersonage, and that the real Mary 
John was mysteriously disposed of, so strong was the delusion ! 
Whence came the idea.^ We answer, from Miss R. For a con- 
firmation of this, we refer to a fact well known to the editor of 
the Advocate. Several weeks after Messrs. Cutter and the Select- 
men certified that they had seen ftlrs. Mary John happy and con- 
tented in the ^Convent, and after a hundred persons had seen and 
conversed with her. Miss R. afiected to remain incredulous, and in- 
sisted that she had not been seen. She so far influenced the minds 
of others, that a committee of investigation was appointed, and 
evidence was received by them upon the subject, and Mr. 
Hallett, editor of the Advocate, was a member of that Commit- 
tee; it was finally arranged by the Committee, in order to make 
certain of the correctness of their suspicions, that Miss Reed's 
sister, Mrs. Pond, accompanied by Capt. Davis, Dr. Appleton, 
and Mr. llallett, taking with them 3Iiss I'enniman, a former |)iipil oi" 
the Convent, concealing the object of the visit to identify Mrs. 3Iary 
John, should go to the residence of ihe Ursulines in Boston, and see 
the lady with their own eyes. When they reported the result, and 
Miss Reed heard their description of the [>erson, she said, with a 
deep-drawn sigh, as if her mind was greatly relieved — "Thank 
God, 'tisslie"! Such was tlio farce she played off on lier friends 
on that occasion ; and Mr. llallelt, in his next i)aper, annoimced the 
fact, (as if it had hitherto been a matter of question in the Commu- 
nity) that the real IMary John was alive. This fact proves, as we 
think, the peculiar character of her mind — her power of imJ)osin<■■ 
npon others, or on herself, or both, in the face of the most satisfac- 
tory evidence. Witii this fact before him, what man can doubt as 
to the sort of language site must Iiave held previous to the 11th of 

August? It will be recollected that she was at that time in Charles- 
town, at the Baptist seminary — near the very spot where the news- 
collector for the Mercantile Journal, picked up his paragraph about 
the mysterious lady, and where the inflammatory placards for the 
destruction of the Convent, were first posted. The simple aftair of 
Mrs. Mary John leaving the Convent as she did, had nothing in it 
to have excited a remark, without some person or persons had art- 
fully misrepresented it, or given it an extraordinary aspect, or pre- 
pared the public mind, by other stories, to put the worst construction 
upon it. She was evidently deranged. She uttered no complaint 
against her sisters, but spoke of them in the kindest terms. She 
went to the house of one of the most resi)ected families in West 
Cambridge, where she was visited by her brother and the Bishop. 
This lady then, had the protection of the Bishop,of her own brother, 
and of the family to which she was carried. Is it possible to imag- 
ine a case, where there was less ground to find fault with the Ursu- 
hnes, or to suspect them of and improper designs, or that Mrs. Mary 
John's life or liberty Were menaced? To Miss Reed's mind, it was 
a different afl^air. She could see nothing but dungeons or death, for 
poor Mrs. Mary John; and it took many weeks and most extraor- 
ninary measures to remove her delusion. The visits of Mr. Cutter, 
the Selectmen, and Miss Reed's friends, were the result of suspi- 
cions and suggestions of the most injurious nature ; and we know 
and have never heard, of but one person in the neighborhood, who 
could, iVom her supposed knowledge, have given authority to them : 
that person was Miss Reed. Mrs. Mary John's supposed con- 
cealment or death was thus added to the old stories of her own 
restraint in the Convent, — with the conspiracy for her abduction and 
exile in Canada, and the dark suggestions about Mary Francis's dis- 
appearance, to produce the conflagration at Mount Benedict. She 
was openly quoted as authority on the very night of that sad event. 
There were, no doubt, at all times with a portion of the coinmni- 
ty, some vague prejudices against nunneries ; prejudices, which were 
supposed to be the mere remnants of Protestant superstition, in this 
country of toleration. Sectarian i)reaching and writing had contrib- 
uted something more than its mite, in extending and exciting them 
into more active operation ; but the Convent would have passed un- 
scathed through all these trials, if the stories of foul and wicked 
practices therein, particularly those affecting the live? and liberties 
of its inmates, had not been circulated and believed. It was this 
most foul and slanderous attack on the moral conduct of the menj- 
bers, which brought about its destruction. These stories were 
circulated by Rebecca T. Reed, by word and by writing, from the 
day she left tlic Convent to the publication of her book. She may 


•leny and prevaricate, and her publishers may eclio it ; but it is, and 
has been for a long time, matter of general notoriety. The week 
after the Convent was burned, half the persons who spoke of the act 
as an horrible outrage, at the same time intimated the belief, that 
the Convent was a very wicked i)lace. Upon asking tlie reasons of 
such behef, the answer invariably was, — 'Why, a young woman, 
who resided there, and ran away, tells very bud stories," &c. Many, 
probably thousands, who had merely heard her name, had heard 
and believed the slanders which were attached to it. ' We ven- 
ture to say, that the Boston Committee, in all their investigations 
and inquiries, never heard any other authority than this young wo- 
man, for all the false charges current against that Community. The 
Ursuliiies had been in Boston many years before removing to Mount 
Benedict; and while there or in Charlestown, who ever heard any 
thing against their moral character until 1832. The opinion, there- 
fore, of the Boston Committee was well foimded, or was in fact but 
the opinion of a large portion of the public. Nay, the warmest 
friends of Miss Reed, and the greatest enemies of Catholicity, hold 
the same opinion, and consider her instrumentality in that un- 
holy work as her chief, if not only merit ; and she herself would un- 
doubtedly have felt complimented by that suggestion in Judge F's 
letter, if it had not been coupled with a suggestion against the truth 
of her expected publication. 

We then arrive at the main question: Are her stories true? And 
we aver, that all the stories told by her, injurious to the moral char- 
acter and conduct of the Ursulines, are wholly without foundation 
in fact. If this prove so, she is one of the greatest imposters of her 
day and generation- 

Now these stories depend for their truth — 1st, — upon her own 
personal veracity, or credibility, ami that may be imfieached in seve- 
ral ways, and one method of testing the truth of her statements, is 
to inquire into her general character and conduct. 

She is the daughter of a farmer, who has lived chiefly in Milk 
Row, in Charlestown, and who from the time of her birth, has been 
as poor a man as could be found in the vicinity. We do not mention 
his poverty as a disgrace, but as a fact, having a necessary bearing 
on the credit of some of her representations. She proves by 
her narrative, that she was a disobedient child ; and utterly dis- 
regardless of both the feelings, wishes and commands of her pa- 
arents. (See pages 51-2 and 62, &c.) She will doubtless, at- 

l Proofs, in a durahle form upon tlii^ point, will be collcrti'd shortly, and prr 
to the public. 


tempt id llirovV the biitme on tlie Catholics, but her ctetefhiinatioil 
Was made, as appears by her bunk, in her own mind, before she saw 
a Cathohc. 

Her book throughout sliews her to be artful, suspicious and a 
double dealer. With her nothing is simple and direct. She could 
not get the name of Mary Francis, which was Kennedy, in all their 
communications, written and verbal, except by pricking it out in 
the letters of a book, which t\vo months after, Miss R. was obliged 
to steal, and carry away, according to her own account, (p 173,) 
in order to possess the name and address of Miss Kennedy. 
She also took a hood, which she says, she "secreted with the book" 
and which Mrs. G. (not by her direction) carried back some time af- 
ter. Taking only this account of herself, one would not draw very 
favorable conclusions, as to her integrity or character. But these 
are trifles with her. 

Feeling it necessary to fortify her reputation for truth, her Com- 
mittee have published three certificates in the introduction. The 
first is by Rev. Mr. Croswell, which although it may be literally 
true, we were rather surprised to see, because we think it is cal- 
cidated to mislead the unwary, and misrei)rcsent the true state of his 
n)ind. If a Catholic Priest had written such an one, it would 
most likely, have been called Jesuitical. The material part isj 
"I re{)ose great confidence in her sincerity and intention to re- 
late what she believes to be the truth." He does not say that 
he has confidence that ivhnt she relates is the truth ; nor, we 
venture to say, does he believe that the tales in her book are all 
true ; and, unless wc are much misinformed, Mr. C. will not pledge 
his credit for their truth. We shall certainly leave him and the 
phrenological philosophers to reconcile the idea of sincerity, with 
the relative position of known falsehood and truth. Mr. Adams's 
certificate requires no remark. It proves only that she had not be- 
haved ill, to his knowledge. But these two certificates go to prove one 
thing against Miss R, — that the writers were not willing to sign the 
general certificate in page 41, which goes fully and clearly to her 
character for truth. That certificate was dated September 26th, 
and the other two in October after. It was then prepared but 
these two g-entlemen chose to make their certificates in their own 
way. We have nothing to remark as to the signers of the general 
certificate. They are unknown to us, and may all be credible peo- 
ple ; but it is well known how easy it is to obtain certificates of this 
kind, and it is rather more surprising that she has so feAV, than that 
there arc not more. The signers probably, had only a temporary 
and limited acquaintance with her, and very honestly believe all 
they have certified : but it is singular that she has only one name at 
Cragie's Point, where she has resided a considerable time since the 


year 1831. Why has she not i)ro(lncecl the certificates of liev 
friends in Milk Row anrl Charlestown ; Miss H. Mrs. G. Mrs. P. 
her sponsor, 31 rs. K. and Mrs. S. with the last of whom she lived as 
a domestic? The truth is, her jfeneral character, to say the least of 
it, is very equivocal, and we venture farther to refer for it, to her 
publishers, Russell &. Metcalf. She was a domestic in Mr. Russell's 
family not long before she became a Catholic, and he and Mrs. R. 
must know something about her. It is said she left them much 
as she did the Convent, and came near involving Mr. R. in a per- 
sonal conflict, by her extraordinary sayings and doings on the oc- 
casion. Col. Metcalf also, who lives in Cambridge, knows much of 
her character by hearsay. We believe neither of these gentlemen 
would, for the profits they will make on her book, vouch for the 
truth of its contents, or say that they believe the statements of Miss 
Reed contained therein. 

But it is not necessary to pursue this topic farther. Her conduct 
since she left her own family, has been of so unusual a cast, as to 
indicate a very peculiar genius. After living upon some neighbors 
for a short time, she threw herself upon the charity of a perfect 
stranger, Mrs. Graham, a very respectable Scotch woman, who kept 
house for her brother and a Mr. Barr, both Scotchmen, who have, for 
several years past, resided near the bleachery in Milk Row. She 
represented herself as abandoned by her father and family, on ac- 
count of her desire to become a Catholic, which she was resolved 
to do, in obedience to the dying request of her mother. She said 
she had been to the Bishop, who had sent, or advised, her to applj' 
to them to get instructed in the Catholic faith, &c. &c. Mrs. G. 
and her friends were rather surprised at this, as they were not Cath- 
olics, and did not even knT)w the Bishop, but it being possible that 
there might be some mistake, the mistrust that her story excited, 
passed away. Mrs. G. however, at first wholly declined acceding 
to her request, as a thing incompatible with her convenience and 
condition in life. They lived by their daily labor, as bleachers, and 
the request seemed equally unreasonable and extraordinary. She 
told Miss R. that they were not Catholics and could give her no aid 
in learning their doctrines. They were all three, Scotch Presbyte- 
rians at that time, and not Episcopalians. She, howeve.-, persever- 
ed and renewed her applications at short intervals, till, by her great 
apparent destitution and distress, by the most moving appeals to 
her feelings as a woman and a Christian, she succeeded in estab- 
lishing herself in Mrs. G's. family. The latter became extremely 
interested in her, from her religious enthusiasm, and desolate cundi- 
lion, and after a few weeks, to promote her wishes and views to 
become a Catholic, procured a friend, Mrs. Hoyne, an Irish woman 


near the Catholic Church in Charlestown, to take her into her fami- 
ly, that she might more conveniently receive the instructions of the 
Rev. Mr. Byrne. Between these two women, and another Irish fam- 
ily, (Mr. Paine's,) she continued to be aided and supported until she 
went into the Convent, and was, after leaving it, received by them 
again and maintained for several weeks. Deserted as she was, or 
pretended to be, by her family, and full of rehgious zeal and piety, 
she interested the feelings of all of them to that degree as to support 
her for six or eight months free of compensation. These people, who 
are of perfectly good character, can tell what return she has made 
them, and whether they now believe themselves imposed on by her 
or not ! 

Her history presents another curious trait of her extraordinary 
character. She has been twice baptised, as appears by her own 
book ; first in the Episcopal and then in the Catholic Church. In 
neither case, we understand, was any relative present to assist at 
the ceremony. Her male sponsors at the first, were an Englishman 
and a Scotchman, and at the last, an Irishman. We mean no disre- 
spect to those persons, who acted from benevolent and Christian 
motives, but to show what must have been the extraordinary state of 
the relation between her and her own fatnily. Her first baptism 
probably took place at the age of 14 or 15, at the Episcopal Church 
in Cambridge, to which she and her parents did not belong. But 
her second baptism in the Catholic Church, as she states, took place 
because her first was declared by the Catholics invalid. Now it is 
well understood by the divines of the respective Churches, that Cath- 
olics hold no such doctrine, and we affirm that the Rev. Mr. Byrne, 
never asserted such an idea. We are credibly informed by a wit- 
ness, who attended as her friend, that Miae R. in her Catholic zeal, 
affected to doubt the validity of her first baptism, and requested 
Mr. B. to do the work again. His statement, vvhich will be found 
in the Appendix, will be presented to the public, among other docu- 
ments, in a more extended form. 

One of her sponsors in her first baptism, is still living, and can 
probably tell whether water was used at that time or not. We be- 
lieve that Rev. Mr. B. was imposed upon, and that the statement of 
Miss R. that water was not used at her first baptism, is untrue ; and 
that upon no other ground than that untruth, was it declared inval- 
id by Mr. B. It is easy to see from this and similar dealings, that 
the Catholics were deluded by her, and not she by the Catholics, as 
her book intimates. 

Let us next see how Miss R. stands aflTcctcd by the denials and 
contradictions of those to whom her stories relate, or of others. Ma- 
ny of these facts stated by her, could be known only to the inmates 


of the Convent at the time, or to the Bisliop who is implicated, or to 
some of them. And who are tliey? The Bishop is a well educa- 
ted gentleman, of unimpeached rej)utation, as far as we have ever 
heard a suggestion. Tlie members of the Ursuline Conininnity are 
religious persons, of mature age and unsullied characters, (except so 
far as Miss R. has slandered them) ; they are well educated, intelli- 
gent ladies, secluded from the world by their religious vows, having 
nothing to ask of it, but its good opinion, — rendering it their servi- 
ces, by the instruction of young females, pursuant to what they be- 
lieve to be a religious duty — and living under a constitution and 
rules, which as far as [)ossible tend to make them virtuous and ex- 
emplary. There are several of them. If they do not speak the 
truth, their turpitude is known to each other ; and each must be 
abased not only in her own eyes, but in the eyes of the others. Here 
is a security for truth which Miss Reed has not. Few persons, 
even of those who might be ready to deny the truth, or utter a false- 
hood, if known only to their own hearts, would be so depraved as 
to consent to a partnership in guilt. On tlie other hand, how stands 
Miss R? A young woman brought up in a very loose manner, who 
has shewn none of the virtues of filial obedience, love of honest 
employment ; or indeed, any good propensity, unless religious fa- 
naticism be such ; — one wlio had abandoned her friends, or been 
abandoned by them at the age of 17 or 18, and whose general char- 
acter is of a very " questionable shape." This person claims to have 
her word outweigh the wordof the several persons above described. 
It is only to present the question in this simple form, to any sensible 
mind, to settle such a preposterous claim forever. 

Those who patronized the school, were interested to satisfy them- 
selves of its character, and that of its teachers; and although they 
might not know every thing respecting the discipline of the relig- 
ious part of the establishment, they would, from what they did 
know, be able to detertnine with great certainty the truth or impos- 
sibility of many of these strange tales. And we venture to say, 
that none of the parents or pu|)ils, who may read Miss R's. hook, 
will give it the slightest credit. Their confidence has never been 
affected in the least degree ; and the same children who w(;re in the 
school at the destruction of the Convent, returned to it on its re-es- 
tablishment, as far as their accommodations would permit. These 
facts speak volumes, and will satisfy any rational mind, that Miss 
R. is unworthy of credit. 

Then is her testimony corroborated by others ? As far as we 
have known or believe, by no individual or circumstance ! She 
speaks of a great many events, transactions and conversations in 
and out of the Convent, which took place in the presence of others. 


and m which they were more or less concerned. Many of these 
events, &c., had no relation to the Convent, and were extremely un- 
important ; and yet, incredible as it may seem, we affirm that almost 
without exception, they will be discredited by the persons referred 
to, and in all material respects, will be pronounced sheer fabrica- 
tions, or misrepresentations, or mistakes. We are assured by a gen- 
tleman, in whom we have entire confidence, and who has taken 
some pains to examine into this matter, that such is the fact with 
respect to Mrs. G., Mrs. H., and Mrs. P., whom she calls her friends^ 
and with whom she resided immediately before she entered the 
Convent, and after she left it. Also with respect to Rev. Mr. Byrne, 
Miss M. H. the domestic of H. J. K., and to what took place in the 
school, as mentioned in the first and second pages of her narrative. 
We will double the profits of her book to her, if she will prove by 
the school mistress and children, the circumstances she there states. 
The time when the Nuns took possession of Mt. Benedict is well 
known, and it is easily ascertained who kept the school at that time, 
and we defy herself, and her four and twenty elders, (for it 
may be presumed she had as many as Joanna Southcote,) to estab- 
lish the truth of her two first pages. The Ursulines state, that they 
went from Boston to the new habitation, at 5 o'clock in the morning, 
to avoid public notice. This must have been before school hours. 
Will Sarah Shea, or Mary Francis confirm the various statements 
connected with them.'' According to her account, they could not 
entertain any friendship towards the Superior, and must be very 
ready to testify for R. Will Mr. B. who introduced her to the 
Bishop, confirm her story of the catechism, (page 59,) or the very ex- 
traordinary account, (page 57) of his visit to her, to give her some 
scripture proofs of the infallibility of the Romish Church, requesting 
when she had done, that she would secrete the paper on which the 
texts were written? Why secrete a paper on which texts of scrip- 
ture were written, and which, if found by a Christian of any denomi- 
nation, could have excited neither surprise nor suspicion? Surely 
he or she must have the organ of secretiveness wonderfully devel- 
oped ! Then there is the OTIaherty miracle ! Will Mrs G. and 
the person restored to sight, confirm that portion of her book? (Sec 
page 58.) Did any of Mr. Kidder's family see the Convent men 
searching the Canal with long poles, (the 18th of January, be it re- 
membered,) and tracking her with dogs ? Will Mrs. G. confirm the 
statement about the wounds and the frozen feet? How came those 
feet frozen, and whence those woimds ? We venture to afilrni, that 
in not one circumstance in six, mentioned by her in the narrative 
will she be confirmed by those who were witnesses. On the other 
hand, we are credibly informed that what took place in the know!- 

edge of lier friends, Mrs. G, and others, her veracity is directly de- 
nied, as to the most material allegations. This at least must produce 
a doubt on the minds of tlie most prejudiced men, and put the young 
woman and her endorsers to further proof. 

But there is discrediting proof from another source, that we think 
will be most satisfactory and conclusive to any fair mind, even 
against preconceived opinions. That is the testimony of Miss Caro- 
line Alden, of Belfast, inserted in the Appendix. She is, as we un- 
derstand, a well educated lady, who has now, or has had, charg-e of 
a female seminary in that town. Her character is well known there 
and to many persons in this vicinity, and it is of the first class. A 
letter written by her to Judge Fay, in answer to his inepiiries into 
the character of the Ursuline Community, (not Miss Il's.) was pub- 
lished in the Daily Advertiser soon after the Convent was destroyed, 
and may be found in the Appendix, with a second letter, on the same 
subject, from her, with one from her brother, Dr. Alden, postmaster 
ofB. This lady was a member of the Ursuline Community four 
years. She « ent with a view, probably, to continue for life, but after 
having taken the white veil, (according to Miss R. '"white vows,") 
and remained two years, she concluded to return to her family. 
She nevertheless continued in the Convent two years longer, from 
attachment to the Superior and the sisterhood. What a different 
person she must have been from Miss Reed.'' 

These letters prove conclusively, that the suggestions of restraint 
upon personal liberty in the Convent ; the charges of ill treatment 
of the sick ; kissing the Bishop's footsteps; kneeling, walking on the 
knees, &c. &c. are the mere creations of the brain. The evidence 
which this letter furnishes, jiroves, also, that the members of the 
Community were always at liberty to leave the Convent when they 
pleased. The Constitution of the Society also provides in the clear- 
est manner for the freedom of all its inmates, and we defy any per- 
son to produce any evidence, except that of Miss R., that any one 
ever suffered the slightest possible control over their personal liber- 
ty! It is presumed that even her Connnittee will admit, that Miss 
Alden's testimony is directly in contradiction of Miss R. in many 
material particulars, relative to the manners, discipline and charac- 
ter of the Ursulines, and if true, entirely destroys her credit, not only 
in those particulars, but in all others. It is a well established rule of 
law and connnon sense, that if a witness be convicted of a wilful 
falsehood in one fact, he is not worthy of belief in any other; at any 
rate that his declaration is not to l)e received against that of a person 
who stands unimpeached. And we call on every honest mind, to 
throw down her book as a cabinet of falsehoods, if she be proved 
guilty of a single wilfully false statement. She has grossly accused 


persons of fair and unblemished fame, and if her own character stood 
ever so liigh, one detected false charge, must leaven the whole lump. 
How then does her personal character compare with Miss A's for 
unquestioned veracity, for age, education, intelligence? It will be 
observed that Miss A's statement is verified by acts, which speak 
louder than words. Her voluntary stay of four years in all, and two 
after she had abandoned the idea of taking the black veil, through 
mere attachment to the Superior and Nuns ; her high recommenda- 
tion of the Convent as a school, to her friends at all times; the lan- 
guage in which she had constantly spoken of its members to her 
brother and other Protestant friends, can leave no doubt that her 
opinions and belief are not made up for the occasion. Her situation 
is such as to place her testimony above suspicion. She is entirely 
disconnected and independent of the Convent and can have no mo- 
tive but truth and justice in what she states. Can there be the least 
question as to the comparative value of her evidence and that of 
Miss Reed ? We think not. 

Miss Alden's Convent name was Mary Angela, and is alluded to 
in Miss K's book, page 111, where she either tells a lie of Mary 
Francis, or makes Mrs. M. F. tell a lie of Miss Alden, as to the es- 
cape of the latter, 'i'ho latter was in the Convent at the same time 
with Mary Francis, but knew nothing of her being unhappy there. 
We desire to observe, once for all, that we believe M. F. to be 
grievously slandered in Miss R's book ; and that all that she makes 
that lady say against the Superior and the rest of the Community, 
the suggestions about forgeries and suppressions of letters, her in- 
trigues with Miss K., and indeed, every thing inconsistent with a 
good understanding and harmony between her and the rest of the 
Community, is the invention of Miss Reed.' We have seen a letter 
of condolence from that lady to the Superior, and one to another 
sister, since the Convent was burnt, in which she uses most friendly 
and respectful language, and such only as could be expected in a 
letter between persons entertaining a mutual regard. Her present 
Convent name is Mary Paulina, her real name is Ann Janet Ken- 

We now come to consider the extreme improbability and absurdity 
of these tales. These traits are so numerous to our apprehension, 
that it would be both laborious and unnecessary to do more than 
select a few. 

She says (page 165) that "she was in the habit of talking in her 
sleep, and had often awoke and found the Religieuse kneeling 

1 Her testimony in full, will be laid before the public as Boon as practicable. 


around her couch and was told tliey were praying for her. Fear- 
ing lest she should let fall words which might betray her, she tied 
a handkerchief round her face to avoid detection." Simple, artless 
creature ! Does not this show that she was determined that the in- 
mates of the Convent should never hear the truth from her even in 
her sleep ? Did her Conmiittee swallow all this without any wry 
faces ? What advantage were the sisters to derive from hearing a 
simple and artless girl talk in her sleep, that could indemnify them 
for their broken rest, and this '• ofte7i ;" or what the purpose of their 
prayers on the occasion ? Another story of this class, is that (page 
127) about the request of the Bishoj) to a dying Nun, that she would 
"implore the Almighty to send down from Heaven a bushel of gold 
for building a college on Bunker's Hill, &c. He said he had bought 
the land, &c., and that the sisters who had died had promised to 
present his request, but had not fulfilled their obligations :" and, 
says he, "you must shake hands in heaven with all the sisters who 
have gone, and ask them why they have not fulfilled their promise, 
for I have waited long enough." To an enlightened rjiind, we 
should be willing to put the whole case of her credibility on this 
simple story. That a well educated, intelligent dignitary of the 
Church could be guilty of such impious folly, would not be be- 
lieved by any rational man, upon the testimony of any ordinary wit- 
ness, even if it were uncontradicted by the Bishop himself, and all 
other persons present on the melancholy occasion. We do not 
hesitate to pronounce it a wilful slander! It is not only a jiure in- 
vention, but a weak and silly one ! There is not a clergyman of 
any church in this vicinity, who would not feel humiliation and 
shame at being obliged to deny the truth of so absurd and ridiculous 
a charge. Is there an Editor among her Committee who can screw 
his credulity up to the sticking j)lace for that tastefully conceived 

Then comes the brutal treatment of Mrs. Mary Magdalene, in 
which the Superior, Bishop and other sisters are exhibited as guilty 
of a cruelty and want of feeling towards a sick and dying female 
amountinij to brutality, (pages 91, 104, 125-6-7-8-9 and 132.) No 
person, man or woman, who has lived among decent people, we 
should presume, could be made to believe th-ese circumstances, if 
they had been charged upon the very dregs of society ! Females of 
all classes naturally kind, are particularly so in case of sickness ; 
and this case su[)poses that in a conununity of eight or ten females 
well educated and of acconqjlished manners, under all the influences 
of religious duty and regard to their character, sef)arated from the 
world by voluntary seclusion, and associated upon principles of 
JDUtual dependence and common lot, a sick sister could bo treated 


with cruelty ! Does the reUgion of the cross so brutify the gentle 
nature of woman ? And can the mind of any member of the Com- 
mittee be so stupified by its influence, as to stand sponsor for such an 
infamous libel ? Heaven forbid ! — This is not all. That dying Nun 
had two own sisters in the Convent at the same time, who were 
novices* Would they have contiimed there, and taken the black 
veil afterwards, if there had been a particle of truth in that portion 
of the "narrative ?" Add to all this the testimony of Miss Alden and 
Dr. Thompson and the solemn declaration of these own sisters of 
Mary Magdalene, made in writing and exhibited to the Boston In- 
vestigating Committee in order to contradict the lying report ! ! 

The only other story of the incredible class, which we shall no- 
tice, is that which she says induced her to escape from the Con- 
vent, — the conspiracy between the Bishop and the Superior to send 
her to Canada against her will. How the Editor of the Advocate 
must have felt when he read of this narrowly escaped abduction ! 
Miss R. overhears a conversation between the Bishop and Superior. 
To do this she does not hesitate to exhibit herself as a secret listen- 
er, who had neglected a duty and resorted to a Vie and an artifice to 
prevent detection. The story is varied in her book, from what it was 
in her original manuscript, if some of her friends give a correct ac- 
count of it ; but only in the trifling circumstance that inste<id of hear- 
ing through an open door, she put her ear to the keyhole. Probably 
the publishers did not like the appearance of the latter and she sub- 
stituted the open door. The emendation is decidedly bad, as less 
probable ; for the door is opened, as the story stands, for no apparent 
reason, but for her convenience in hearing a wicked conspiracy 
against herself. The Bishop and Superior were in an adjoining 
room, contriving a plot of the most atrocious kind, for the accom- 
plishment of which it was important to exercise the greatest caution 
and secrec}^ both to effect its execution and to secure themselves 
against detection. The doors were shut, but they did just what 
they ought not to have done, they opened the door into the room 
where the listener was, not because they had occasion to go into it, 
but just to accommodate the story and betray themselves. And 
what was the great reason for the i)roposed abduction, that if ef- 
fected and discovered, must have ruined the Bishop and the Ursu- 
line Community, in character and estate ? Simply because " it 
would not do, to have such reports go abroad as these persons (viz : 
Miss R. and Mary I'rancis) would say !" Mary Francis had already 
gone, and Miss R's a\)duction would only half prevent the mischief. 
One woman was already abroad, and one woman is as good as a 
hundred, as Miss ]i, has abundantly proved by her own conduct, to 
set stories in motion. But what reports were carried ? What where to 


be feared ? Had Mary Francis or Misa R. given any reason to sup- 
pose they had a design, or wish lo injure the Convent. No evidence 
as far as we can perceive, existed at that time, to excite any such 
expectation, and it was very extraordinary that one of the inost 
desperate and wicked designs tliat ever existed, shoulil have been 
entertained without the slightest apparent reason ! 

Even if there had been a declared purpose, on the part of Miss R. 
and I\i. Francis to carry about any reports whatever injurious to tl)e 
Couunuiiity, it would have shewn the last flegree of folly to expose 
it to almost certain ruin in order to avoid an uncertain and inferior 
danger. From these considerations, such a project would be clearly 
improbable anil absurd ; but when the difficulty, if not impossibility, 
of carrying such a project into effect is considered, it becomes ridic- 
ulous. She says, "the Bishop said it would take two or three days 
for a carriage to cross the line." Now the stage takes four days, 
as the IJishof) must have known, if he had known anything u])on the 
subject; and she clearly could not be sent by the stage. She would 
certainly cry out. at some of the stopping places. No — a close 
carnage woidd be necessary; the driver must be in the secret; she 
must be gagged, and not suffered to be seen, or to leave the coach 
on the whole way. Who was to take charge of her? If not the 
Bishop, some other strong nian must be let into the secret, &c. &c. 
These are only a part of the difficulties. Some place must be prepared 
in Canada for her reception and detention, and certain people there 
must enter into the wicked views of the Bishop, to accomplish 
the object; — then the danger of escaping and coming back upon 
them, with all the awful consequences to their persons and property. 
Now, are the jmblishing friends entitled to belief, when they say they 
give full faiiii and credit to such stories as these? If Miss R. is sin- 
cere in the belief of this story, she is a fool, or a mad creature ; if she 
is not, she is an imposter ! Every part of the tale affords additional 
evidence of the same position. Although the Bishop had given the 
Superior instructions how to entice her into the carriage, yet the 
whole project failed, after all the mighty preparations, and after the 
carriage was at the door, bij her simplij saying, she ivoiild not go to .•■te 
her friends at that time. Indeed, the whole account (p)). IGO, 167) 
aff"ords an amusing specimen of her talent at story-tellhig, and of 
her address in eluding danger! This story, attentively consid- 
ered, exhibits, we suspect, the true index to her character: that she 
is of a nervous or hysterical constitution, and imagines a thousand 
things, which she mistakes for realities. It seems to us almost an 
insult to the understanding of readers to offer further evidence 
against the credibility of Miss R. and every thing her book contains. 
But, as there aro some people whose prejudices so far deprive them of 


reason as not to perceive that one, or two, or even half a dozen lies 
ouglit to condemn all the rest, we shall proceed a little further; for 
even while we are writing, proofs accumulate to our hand. 

She told the Lady Superior, (p. 55) that she did not consider her 
"education conjy;ie<e," leaving the reader to infer, from what was 
said, that she had a common school education, at least — or as much 
as girls of her age generally possessed, — how is the fact? 

It will be seen on page 94 of her book, that she speaks of a piece 
of poetry, composed by her at Mount Benedict, and presented to the 
Superior, who says, in page 23 of her Answer, that they were writ- 
ten for her by Mi's. Mary Austin, and that Miss Reed could not pen 
two linos of i)rosc or poetry correctly. After Miss Reed left the Con- 
vent, and w^hile at Mrs. Graham's she told her that she composed a 
piece of poetry, as mentioned in her book, and sat down and wrote 
it out from memory, and presented it to Mrs. Graham. The origi- 
nal is in the possession of Dr. Byrne, and will be duly authenticated. 
If the lines are original, they show her want of common sense as 
well as education ; if they purport to be a coj)y of the accomplished 
Mrs. Mary Austin's verses, they prove her inaccuracy as well as her 
ignorance of the most common acquirements in New-England — spel- 
ling and grannnar. We present them, word for word, as copied from 
the original in her hand-writing. 

To Our reverrent Mother. 

My dear ina mare you shall allnays find, 
In me a child affectionate and kind. 
So with cheerful heart, I come to say, 
That I wish you a very happy day. 

And so 1 do to all the rest, 

I must not love one sister best. 

They are all as one to me, 

And I wish I could with them all ways he 

Therefore I have one requst to mak<^, 
fearing lest any step I take, 
that I may In your prayers shaire 
The lioley liabbit for to wear. 

I>et us now look at the inconsistencies contained in the book. 

She took the vows of a novice, as she f)retends, after she must 
have been three months in the Convent, and after she became dis- 
satisfied with the Superior and every thing there, and had actually 
engaged with Mary Francis to get away. Now had this been true, 
(as it was not) what gross inconsistency and liyi)ocrisy, and how en- 
tirely she disregarded her obligation. One would think that such 
open and artless accounts of her own inconsistency and baseness, 
would shake the confidence of her friends either in the soundness 
of her intellect or that of her heart. 


But there is one fact of tstariliiig import, the jjioof of whirli is to 
he found in her book, and in the letters which she has in her posses- 
sion from Miss Kenned}^, as well as from her friends Mrs. G. Mrs. 
P. and Mr. Byrne ; and that is, that for several weeks after leaving 
the Convent, Miss Reed continued a Catholic, and endeavored to 
procure admission into another Convent at Alexandria, or in that 
neighborhood. At page 177, she says she wrote to Miss Kennedy, 
" to inform her of her f{^/i'ch'o?i5 and of her reluctance to return to 
the bustle of the world ;" and " jiroposcd some questions and re- 
quested her advice," and that ".'^lie could not but think the Bishop 
and Superior very wicked." Then follows a specimen of the art- 
ful and scheming habit of her mind, and the following expression, 
insinuating what she had frequently done, in her conversations, that 
Mary Francis was not living, but had been made way with by the 
Superior. "I resolved to ascertain if Mary Francis was living and 
happy." To this and other letters w ritten by her to that lady, she re- 
ceived three in answer. Those letters have been seen by Mrs. G. Mr. 
Byrne and other Catholics, and probably by Mr. Croswell, which will 
prove the facts above stated.' They will prove also, if she dare pro- 
duce them, that Miss Kennedy was not the person she is represented 
in Miss R's. book. These letters were written by Miss R. as a Catho- 
lic, she of course not informing M. F. of any change in her religion, 
and in them she advises her to go to her Confessor and take his 
counsel. She did so, and when he advised her to seek her living by 
honest industry, she turned her back on the Catholics. Now the 
fact that she wanted to go into another Convent, is wholly incon- 
sistent with tlie idea, that her book and her conversations are in- 
tended to inculcate, that Convents were corrupt, superstitious and 
wicked places, and that the errors of Romanism were such as to 
make it her duty to w'rite her experiences, as a warning against 
them. Was her conduct consistent with her language, and if not, 
what becomes of her credibility ? 

Her statements in matters that have little or nothing to do with 

I This is the lady of whom she has insinuated to many persons, holli Catholic and 
Protestant, had been buried in a dungeon or murdered, in consequence of her supposed 
influence over Miss Reed, and in order to get over the contradiction of receiving letters 
from a dead person, to those who knew the latter facts, she suggested that the letters 
were forged ! And we believe that she now insinuates the same thing, for in a scurrilous 
communication in the Commercial Gazette of April 4, ls:i.>, which Mas given to that paper 
for publication, by her publishers, Russell, Odiorne >t Co., and undoubtedly written by her 
publishing Committee, speaking of .\rary Francis, the writer intimates that she has been 
made way with, notwithstanding the letters from her in Miss Reed's possession. We 
pledge ourselves that the public shall be informed most fully on llie subject, as soon as 
the circumstances will possibly admit of its being done. 


the Convent, and seem unimportant in themselves, are neverthelese 
chiefly falsehoods in direct terms, or by implication. The cases are 
constantly occurring, where a sentence, or even a word is made to 
suggest an untruth and to mislead the reader. In every thing relat- 
ing to herself and family this takes place ! Those who were well ac- 
quainted with their condition, will smile at the mention of her jew- 
elry, (page 65) as the treasures received from her dear mother ; her 
ten dresses, (page 95), taken from her at the Convent, and as she 
intimates never returned ; also, at the answer relative to her educa- 
tion ; (page 55) to say nothing of the family prayers, and the appli- 
cation of Miss H. to be kept by her as a domestic ! As to her jew- 
elry, except the crosses given to her by her Catholic friends, it is 
well known to those persons, Mrs. G. P. & H. with whom she re- 
sided, that it consisted of an old pair of five shilhng ear knobs, 
which were probably given her while in service as a domestic. So 
her ten dresses will dwindle to a wretched small stock ; and it can 
be abundantly proved, by those persons to whom she went destitute 
and as a beggar, that at the time she entered the Convent, all 
the clothes she had, which were not derived from their charity 
were not worth three dollars. Such is the magnifying powers of 
Miss R's. mind ! It is disgusting to he obliged to speak of such 
matters, but as she affects the lady, she has rendered it necessary. 
So of her education. We do not wish to be too discursive upon the 
matter, but we cannot help recurring to her precious verses once 
more, and to ask the reader, first to read page 55 of her book, and 
then to read the verses, and a deceit peculiar to her, and cons()icuous 
on every page of her book will present itself. 

Miss R. by her fatnous letter to the Editor of the Courier, copied 
in her book, page 29, has exposed her veracity to be impeaciied by 
protestant testimony. She undertakes in that to justify herself 
against the suggestions that her stories had been instrumental in 
the destruction of the Convent, or that they had been extensively 
circulated before that event. With this view, she is made by her 
scribe to say. "that she had conversed with but very few persons 
about it, and had held no conversation of importance on the subject 
with but two persons, the Rev. Mr. C. in Hoston, and a friend in the 
country." That •' she had sometimes been pressed with questions, 
but had avoided them as nmch as possible, that she had made only 
general sratements, such as she did not approve the institution and 
that the disci[)iine was too severe, &c." She says farther, that her 
" manuscript had not been extensively circulated, and that she had 
not even permitted her sister to read it." Now if it be proved that 
she had told particular and very slanderoiis stories to any single in- 
dividual, besides Mr. C. and the resident in the country, she will 


stand convicted of a deliberute and wilful falseliood. The same 
consequences will follow upon the proof, that her manuscript had 
been extensively circulated previous to August llth, 1834. 

Now previous to that time, it was matter of notoriety, that stories 
very like those contained in her book, were the subject of common 
conversation in Cambridge, West Cambridge, Charlestown, Medford, 
and Boston. It can be proved by undoubted testimony, that threats 
to destroy the Convent, had been imuhi in Medford and Charles- 
town for nearly a year before the event took place, (and probably 
much earlier,) and in consequence solely of the odium her stories 
had occasioned, and to revenge her ill treatment. Now this fact 
proves that by some means those stories had been extensively cir- 
culated. It can be abundantly proved that siie told these stories 
to the persons with whom she resided or associated — to the teach- 
ers and pupils of the school she attenrled in Cambridgeport and 
Charlestown ; — that she was in the habit of meeting small parties 
of friends and other curious people, and exhibit herself in prostra- 
tions, and recitations of Latin prayers. To more than one person 
in Cambridgeport she declared or intimated, that the nuns had 
attemjjted to poison her, while in the Convent. In a word, it seem- 
ed to be her business to attract attention to herself by these stories. 
And it is singular, that with tiie horror of a Convent and the terrible 
associations it must I)ring to her mind, she has continued to this 
time, to affect the deportment and manners of the nuns, and in that 
way, made herself conspicuous in the schools she attended. She 
even attempted to introduce a practice of kissing the floor at Mr, 
Vs. school, where she acted as assistant. As to her manuscript, 
which she says was not extensively circulated, it is certain, that it 
was seen by the three teachers whose school she attended in Cam- 
bridgeport, and the families and acquaintances of two of them. It 
was left for indiscriminate use, at two boarding houses in that place, 
by Dr. H. and others of East Cambridge, and was seen by many mem- 
bers of Rev. Mr. Fay's and 3Ir. Jackson's society in Charlestown, 
and many jiersons in Boston. It was proposed at a meeting of some 
members of the society last mentioned, to publish her stories as a 
tract — a jiroposition which Mr. J. had the good seuKe to oppose. 
The manuscri|Jt was in his family, and we aver that any person 
might have seen it who had the desire. It is said in her book, by 
her publishers, that she had lived retired in the bosom of her fami- 
ly, since her elo])enicMt, &c. On t!ie contrary few persons have 
lived in so many jilaces, and conversed with so many individuals. 
She seemed to possess a sort of ubiquity — we hear of her every 
where. They say also, that her manuscript remained for nearly 
a year before August llth, in the hands of her Reverend pai-tor — 


and she told the Boston Committee much the same story. Mr. C. 
expressly contradicts the facts, and stated to tliat Committee that he 
had not had it for eighteen months. Snch are the audacious false- 
hoods which are unhesitatingly published on her authority, to 
screen her i-eputatioa until her book shall have performed its pious 
oHicc. So much for the truth of her assertions relative to the cir- 
culation of her slanders. — Mark also the inconsistency of that let- 
ter, in the statement, that "she felt it her duly to give Mrs. F. all 
the information in her power," about the Convent, because she had 
a daughter there, and the statement, immediately following, that she 
sought to avoid Mrs. F. — and that when she soon after met Mrs. 
F. to her " disappointment," in Mrs. F's. own house, the very place 
where she ought to have been disappointed not to have seen her, 
she withholds all, except general information, which Mrs. F. did 
not ask, and gets rid of the conversation as soon as politeness would 
allow. How consistent ! She denies the expression imputed to her 
by Judge F's. letter, that she was the humble instrument in the 
hands of Providence to destroy the institution at Mount Benedict, 
and at once betrays her consciousness of the truth of it, by suppos- 
ing it was obtained from her conversation with Mrs. F. which she 
alludes to. Now there was not the slightest allusion to Mrs. F. or 
to any particular conversation with any person, in the letter she was 
answering; — she had never, as she says, used this expression to 
an\ one ; and yet she sees at once, whence it is derived, and her 
consciousness betrays her. If she had been well advised, she would 
have contented herself with a general denial ; but she must attempt 
to show how the expression originated. She admits she said, ''she 
was an humble instrument in the hands of Providence," to shew her 
friends the truth — and yet immediately before, she affirms, she was 
very careful not to he the cause of excitement, that she had con- 
cealed her stories "even from her own sisters." At one moment 
she is an instrument to show the truth, (meaning the stories about 
the Convent) to her friends, who, judging from her expressions 
would seem to be innumerable, and in the next, she is very careful 
to conceal it. — Another fact, showing the contradictions and incon- 
sistencies which she, as all habitual liars, run into — is, that she had 
always an ambition to publish her stories, — that within theyear after 
leaving the Convent, her father twice applied to the Hon. T. Fuller, 
then resident in Cambridge, to call and see his daughter, with a 
view to publication. Now from all these facts, and inconsistencies, 
is it not perfectly evident, that all the imputations, of which she 
complains, were perfectly well founded, and that the Boston Inves- 
tigating Coiiiiiiittee, and Judge F. have done her no injustice, but 

liave said as little to her discredit as their search after truth would 
permit ? 

We will here add another circumstance, for which we shall pro- 
bably be thaidved by the followers of IMiss Reed. She said to a lady 
of unexceptionable character for veracity, who had u daughter at 
the Convent, "you may think it presuniing in nie to advise you, but 
I do advise you to take away your daughter from the Convent, lor 
it will come down within a year"!! ! and it was destroyed within 
eight or ten months of that time! Lo ! gentlemen and ladies, you 
have a prophetess as well as a saint! 

We cannot omit to notice her extraordinary testimony in Court, 
on Buzzell's trial, (see Rep. p. 55.) Although it was obvious she 
could testify nothing relative to the issue, there was a strong desire 
to excite the prejudices of the jury against the Convent, by Miss 
Reed's testimony, under pretence of discrediting the Superior's evi- 
dence. But the Court interfered and prevented her proceeding 
beyond a few sentences. She first states, "she lived there as a 
cJioir sisler" a fact which her own book disproves, and which is 
denied by the whole community, the Bishop and others. It was 
impossible also, as she ought to have known, and did know, a choir 
sister is a professed nun, who has taken the black veil. She was imta 
nien)ber of the religious community at all, as was well known to all 
the religious and all the lay sisters, and to the pupils. She said she 
had a religious name Mary Agnes, which is denied by all the Connnu- 
nity, and the pupils never heard lier called by any other name than 
Theresa, or Miss Reed.' That she had books handed to her by Mr. 
Paine and Mrs. Graham, as from the Bishop — a fact which both 
Mrs. Graham and the Bishop deny. In her book she says Mrs. G, 
gave her two books, lettered witli her new name, proving that she 
got her new name before she went to the Convent. In point of 
fact, Mr. or Mrs. Paine gave her those books, and not Mrs. G. or 
the Bishop. If permitted. Miss R. woidd have gone on, no doubt, 
and sworn to all the storibs in her book! Is it j)ossiblc, that a j)er- 
son who has falsified so audaciously, and called God to witness her 
truth, can be in a sound state of mind, and possess moral accounta- 
bility ? For her sake we hope such is not the case. 

As to the narrative of 3Iiss R. it is almost below criticism. To 
intelligent and educated person.s, who know how to judge by inter- 
nal evidence, it would not be necessary to say a word to disprove its 
credibility and to prove it a paltry jumble of inventions, and the 

1 It has already been seen how and when she got the name ; and the use she intended 
to make cf it, to prove herself a sister, is obvious. 


production of an extremely feeble and ill regulated mind. There is 
no metliod or arrangement, but great vagueness and incoherence. 
Many of its incidents are utterly insignificant ; actions without mo- 
tives, and effects without causes, and the very members of a sen- 
tence, often without the slightest relation to each other. To give 
specimens of these faults, would hardl/ be worth the time of the 
reader, as the truth of its matters of fact is the chief object of our 
inquiry. The attention of the reader is invited to them only to 
show, that confusion of mind and desultorinot>s, are characteristic of 
lier narrative, and to some extent, should aflFect its credibiity. 

She says in her letter to her Committee, page 37, speaking of the 
composition of her manuscript, that she was able at first, to make 
only memoranda, but in the course of about a year, — as the Commit- 
tee, page 14, and her own letters make it out, — she drew it out, and 
endeavored to get it " in her own simple language''^ into the " form of 
a narrative." If it had been a plain unvarnished tale of truth, a 
very few days would have sufficed, but fiction is the work of inspi- 
ration. She was obliged to wait, vve suppose, till the fit came on. 

A leading and remarkable trail in her book, are the insinuations 
and suggestions that lurk in even the apparently insignificant inci- 
dents and conversations she relates. We can only afford space to 
a few specimens, vve do it to show the suspicious and crafty nature 
of her own mind, anxious of creating similar suspicions on the 
minds of others. 

She speaks of the Sui)eriors /;Vro77e (only a chair!) and the Nuns 
approaching the Bishop or Superior kneeling and kissing their feet, 
&c., to create the idea of slavish fear and subserviency, with a vien' 
undoubtedly to make the Convent odious, as antirepublican. In 
point of fact, the Ursuline Community is a perfect democracy, as 
a[)pears by their constitution. The members are elective and so is 
the Superior, who is merely the chief among equals, and liable at 
any time to be dejjosed by ballot. In page 147 she expresses " n 
/eor" judging from the " threats and looks" of the Superior that she 
should be confined in the "ccWar." The reader has here three words 
suggesting violence, severity, and the use of the dungeon. These 
strange insinuations and dark expressions occur in evei-y part of the 
book, by which the Superior, j)articularly, is charged indirectly with 
the odious vices of cruelty, duplicity, levity, austerity, j)ride, folly, 
caprice, dishonesty, vulgarity, stratagems, sorceries and deadly de- 
signs! — The instances are endless, and involve every body whom 
she has any motive to place in a false light. 

She undertakes (p. 159) to give some account of the School, but 
admits she knows little of it. She knows, however, just enough to sus- 
tain the charge of an attempt to influence the religion of Protestant 


pupilif, ami of severity in the discipline. She takes care not to re- 
member the names of pnpils, who were made "tmhappy " by these, 
or some other causes. Thes<^, suggestions arc entirely contradicted 
by all those persons who iiave had the best means of knowing the 
truth, and what is strange, by Miss R. licrself, in her conversations 
with many persons. 

She pretends she was prevented seeing her sisters, ]when tiiey 
came for that purpose, and yet she lias declared to several persons, 
that she felt so lifted up above her relations, for a long time after 
she went there, tliat siie desi»ised and refused to see them when they 
called — and that she afterwards thought that her conduct had beeu 
very sintul in that respect. She hid herself from the sister who 
called to see her at Mrs. G's, (as mentioned in page 183) and Mrs. H- 
had to use her authority to give that sister an opportunity to be 
" overjoyed" at seeing her. Slie gave no notice to any of her rela- 
tions, that she had left the Convent ; and, while affecting to fear the 
Catholics would kill her, continued to live with and among them for 
several weeks, and has remained in their vicinity ever since. She 
and her Committee intimate, in sundry places, that her health was 
shattered by hard usage; that she suffered from cold, penances, 
strange looking food, &c. &c. ; and that, when she eloped, she was 
so " pale aud emaciated" she was not in a condition to see her fath- 
er, and required lime to recruit. She also says she showed Mrs. G. 
her xoounds and her frozen feet, in terms intimating great ill usage ; 
and that Mrs. G. " sympathized with her, but did not urge her to 
say much, as she was very iotak''' — by this expression intimating 
rpiite an exhausted state ! Now, will it be believed that, in the eyes 
of Mrs. G. and her family, three sober, observing people, who saw 
her immediately before, and after her residence at the Convent, she 
had improved, in a remarkable degree, in apparent health and flesh •" 
Will it be credited, that the frozen feet proved to be chilblains, to 
which she had been subject many years? — and that she never 
thought to mention the sprained wrist ? Yet such is the case, as 
the public will soon learn, by testimony taken in the most solemn 
form. It would seem as if it were beneath her genius, to deal in 
plain matters of fact ; — so strong is her propensity to proceed in 
her own way, that when she eloped, (p. 174) she undertook to climb 
a fence, although there was a gate close by her. She talks about 
jiortcrs and dogs, as making it difficult to escape — (p. 152.) She 
had been at the Convent very often for more than a year, a suppli- 
cant, on foot and alone, and knew, as well as every other visiter 
there, that porters and dogs were never employed — that the gate 
stood usually open, and a dog or man was seldom seen. There was 
nothing on earth to prevent hfr going down into the road, ft? honest 


people usually did. But her purposes did not allow so simple a pro- 
ceding and she went down to tltc back side, where was a common 
rail fence, that she could fall over. She forgot to shew Mrs. G. 
her fingers, which she broke in climbing the fence, as she did to 
:;omc of the children of Mr. Valentine's school ! and she has forgot- 
ten to mention this circumstance in her book. 

We haie observed that the very title of her book "Six months in 
a Convent," contains a falsehood, and it certainly was to be expect- 
ed, and perhaps proper, that the title should correspond with the 
body of the work. The Superior states that she entered on the llth 
September, 1831, and eloped January 18th, 1832, four months and 
six days after, and fortunately her accuracy is verified to a high de- 
gree of certainty, by letters sent to Rev. Mr, Byrne, and Mrs. G. 
relative to R. T. R. about the time of her entering and leaving it, 
and now in their possession. The error of nearly two months is of 
. some little im[)ortance to prove the badness of her memory, or her 
utter disregard of accuracy or truth, and affords to the Superior, 
some advantage in the comparison. It will be a necessary inference 
from Miss R's own book that she could not have entered the Con- 
vent for some weeks after the sixth of August, because it was aftet* 
that time, that on a visit merely, she relates a conversation she had 
with the Superior, (p. 07,) relative to a publication in the Jesuit of 
August 6, 1S31, coj)ied into the Introduction (page 2J,J now it ap- 
pears from the subsequent pages that some weeks must have elapsed 
after this conversation before she was received as an inmate. 
Which reception, she says, took place the 5th of August. This is a 
direct contradiction, incapable of any fair explanation. Wo will not 
however dwell longer upon the contradictions and absurdities of 
Miss R's book, they grow upon us at every step. 

Among the other unprincipled means resorted to l)y the enemies 
of the Catholic Religion and institutions, is, the propagation of the 
idea, through the public press, that in any question where tlie inter- 
ests of their religion are concerned, the Catholics are not to be be- 
hcved ; and men of considerable standing — respectable editors of 
newspapers, are not ashamed to avow a sentiment as intolerant, as 
unjust, and indefensible both in law and reason. It is an opinion 
that invades individual right ; — that makes a Catholic an outlaw, 
and subverts as to him, a fundamental principle of our constitution. 
It is an assumption, which is attempted to be justified upon the false 
application of an imputed but denied dogma, that faith is not to be 
kept with heretics. No lawyer of any reputation, would dare to risk 
his reputation by offering, in the presence of an intelligent Court, to 
maintain such a position, to a jury. At the trial of Buzzell, upon 
some indicationof that idea, the Court promptly interfered, and Chief 


Justice Shaw observed — " The Court think it proper to remark that 
the rehgious faitli of witnesses is not a subject for argument or 
proof. 1 may aiM, that not only in conformity with the principles 
of the law generally, but by our constitution and laws, witnesses of 
all faiths are placed on the same footing, and each is to stand on 
his own individual character." — [See page 55, Buzzell's trial.] 

Fortunately in the case of Miss Reed, we do not depend upon 
Catholic testimony alone. Fortunately, we say, because we know 
that we have deep rooted prejudices to overcome, address almost 
whom we may ; but we point out facts and circumstances afford- 
ed by Miss Reed and her friends to disprove her stories; — we 
have shown many striking proofs of her duplicity and wickedness — 
duplicity that allitis itself to deep depravity, — -wickedness exhibited 
in the settled and desperate purpose of adding to the crimes of rob- 
bery and midnight burnings, the destruction of character and repu- 
tation, as unsullied as the icicle " which hangs on Dian's temple." 

Our object in the foregoing pages, has been to expose, what we 
are convinced, on the most conclusive evidence to be true, that Miss 
Rebecca T. Reed's "Six Months in a Convent" is a mere tissue of 
falsehoods and misrepresentations ; and in its design and tendency, 
in our judgment, is the most atrocious libel that ever issued fi-om 
the press ! — We have forborne to go further, in her private history, 
^or in that of her family, than was necessary for our purpose of 
siiowing her general character and credibility. It will be observed 
that she and her friends, put all her stories upon her own personal 
credit, misupported by a solitary witness, or circumstance ; and in 
the face of all probabilities. On the other hand, we have undertaken 
to show, that u|ton the testimony of all persons, who had any means 
of knowing or judging of them and upon the internal evidence, de- 
rived from their inconsistency, imi)robability and absurdity, they are 
utterly unworthy of belief, and tliat consequently the author. Miss 
R. is either a lunatic or an impostor. The reader will judge if we 
have succeeded. We have intended to state nothing, as fact, that 
cannot be proved by satisfactory evidence, if opportunity should 
occur. We have been obliged to ou^it immberless facts and consid- 
erations, all tending to the general effect of discrediting the book 
and the author; but we could not persuade ourselves that more was 
necessary, than we have done. 

It is extremely painful to be obliged to expose a young woman, 
who is easily called an innocent, a humble and defenceless female ; 
but when that female unsexes herself and sets about the work of 
detraction openly and publicly; when she undertakes upon any 
pretence to destroy the reputatiotis of reiiied, religions and de- 
fenceless women, at whose hands siie has received nothing but 


benefits, she presents lierself in n character wliicli entitles her to 
no synipalhy and renders it absolutely necessary in defence of in- 
nocence and truth, to call things by their right names, and to do 
what is attempted in this review of her work. It is admitted by 
herself, that after long solicitation she obtained admittance to the 
Convent as an object of charity ; — that she was fed, clothed and 
instructed, by the IJrsuhne Sisters, who could have had no motive 
on earth, but a charitable one, Ibr sslic had neither property, or 
friends, or influence. She had neither menial capacity, docility, or 
solidity of character, to permit her even to become a member of their 
Community, and she nev6r received the least encouragement to that 
effect. Finding her hopes disappointed, she elopes ih a dishonora- 
ble manner, and either from revenge, vanity, or as a means of living, 
commences the abominable work of ruining her benefactors by the 
private circulation of unfounded calumnies. Even if iier stories had 
been well founded, she was the last i)erson wlio should have been 
the willing instrument to diffuse them to the prejiidice of those, who 
rescued her from povei-ty and want. The precepts of the religion 
\Vhich she so zealously professes, and so flagrantly dishonours, 
should have held her hand, and the voice of gratitude should have ])cr- 
suaded her to a better course. Taking it lor granted, that we have 
established her total want of credibilily and the falsehood of her 
charges, her conduct presents a case of monstrous ingratitude, that 
most hateful of vices, and reckless wickedness. If she be a moral 
agent, vvhicli charity has led us to doubt, she aflords an instance to 
illustrate the doctrine of total depravity, kucIi as the world has sel- 
dom seen. She exhibits the reality of the fabled adder, torpid with 
cold, that pierced with its venomous fangs, the benevolent bosom, 
which Iliad warmed it into life. 

But We think liardly less ill of tlic persons who have encouraged 
her in this course. No doubt many, perhaps most, have been 
imposed upon by her apparent sincerity, and sanctimonious man- 
ners ; but that men of some standing in society, should have lent 
their countenance to so anti-christiaii a proceeding, is extremely 
to be re|)robated and deplored. The conflagration at Mount Bene- 
dict, effected by a banditti of robbers and incendiaries, if it had 
found no abettors and apologists afterwards among the orderly 
and respectable portion of society, would have been comparative- 
ly a trifle. But it was only the signal for a religious i)ersecution, 
and the display of a spirit of intolerance and hatred, that have set 
man against man, broken in upon the harmony of society, and in- 
flicted a deep stain upon the reputation of the community for intel- 
ligence and virtue. The brands from that burning have set fires 
thou^hout the counirv, tiiat seem alreaily to have consumed all the 


chrlsliun virtues aixl lo lliiealeii, thai religion itself will not escape 
unscathed. Public justice has been niockctl, and the religious zea- 
lots, who have looked only to the destruction of catholicity, in their 
sayings and doings, may find to their sorrow, when too late, that 
they have been the means of undermining the security of jirivate 
rights, i)ul)lic order, and the religion tliey venerate. It is in vain to 
attempt to shut our eyes to the truth ; the enemies of our republican 
institutions, — of the christian faith will not fail to pour into our ears, 
their ridicule of our boasted sui>eriority in the former, and our pre- 
tended toleration in the latter. We shall stand exposed and hel|i- 
less, bound hand and foot by our own folly, to heur the sneers of tiic 
one, and the rebukes of the other. 

So far as discussions upon the subject of Catliolicistn interest the 
I)ublic, we are hajjjty to see them going on. The efiect is to bring 
out the whole strength of argument u|)on one side or tiie other, and 
the public mind becomes enlightened upon a topic deeply interesting 
to the inquiring Christian ; but when resort is had to sucli side wind 
attempts to crush a sect, by imposing false tales, with regard to 
members of that sect, upon the public, it is time for the oppressed 
to forget the attack upon their religion, in the more direct defence 
of themselves. The Catholic religion has nothing to fear from Miss 
Reed's book, and nothing that requires of its believers a defence ; 
it is i)rivate character and conduct that is assailed — as dear to the 
innocent ladies attactked, as the religion which suj)ports them under 
the ))ersecution they have suffered. They ask none, who read this 
vindication, to be convinced of the good intluence of Catholicity or 
its foundations ; but they do call u|)on the intelligent, however much 
they may despise the faith of llie Ursulines, to do them the justice 
of carefully weighing the defence they here put forth against a 
torrent of calumny, that has rushed uj)on them, as individuals. They 
are desirous that Miss Reed's book may be read, not glanced over, 
with ai)re-determinatioii as to its truth or falsehood, but carefully and 
discriminutely read, being satisfied that, in a land whose i)eopIe are 
universally distinguished for the exercise of their intellectual ca- 
pacities and judgn.ents upon every sid)ject. they will come to a right 
understanding of the character of that'unfortuiiate girl, who, for the 
last three years, has availed herself of the general prejudice, ])reva- 
icnt among I'lutestants, to slander, defame and misrepresent the 
Ursuline Com rn unit v. 


Miss Reed's publishing committee liave coiTected thie date of August 5, 1831, by a substi- 
tution of August T. Tlu-\j say it was a mistuke, and thai Miss Reed immediately observed it, on 
seeing it in print. Is tliere one of her publishing committee, blinded as we believe some of 
them to be, willing to come forward and swear, that Miss Reed never saw the proof impres- 
sions of her work, or that she did not see the words " August 5, 1831," in print, before it 
was too late to correct the error ? — or, if not soon enough for that correction, that she did 
not see the words in time to add an errata, in binding up the sheets ? No, we feel assured 
of this fact. But the change, from the 5th to the 7th, does not help her in the least; it was 
a change of error, and this appears, tirst, from her conversation about the article in the 
Jesuit, (which was August 6th) with the Superior, which she says took place during a 
visit ; and Ironi her own statement, she did not go to the Convxnt to reside for some time 
after that. "After this conversation, she says, she (the Superior) wrote abetter to my 
lather." " At my next interview," {after the one in which the conversation was held) " witli 
the Superior, she however told me my father had become reconciled to my remaining with 
them two or three quarters " ; all this after August 6th, 1831. Could she have gone to the 
Convent to reside August 7th .' Add to this the testimony of Dr. Byrne, confirmed by this 
testimony furnished by herself, and it is conclusive. She states, (page 66) that she 
stood sponsor for Mrs. Graham's daughter. Now this, according to the record of it, made 
at the time, was September 4, 1831 . Further : I received three notes from the Superior, 
relative to Mi.'is Reed, bearing date August 12th, September 2fl, and September 11th, 1831. 
In the one dated September 2d, the Superior writes: "I think it best that Miss Reed 
should make her roiilession and communion before she enters;" and in the one of Sep- 
tember llth : " If she (Miss Reed) has made it (her first communion) to-day, will you be 
kind enough to direct her to come immediately after high mass .' " 

Reader, are these letters forged .-' And if they are, how are the circumstances to be dis- 
posed of .' Is Dr. Byrne the forger as well as fte Hart Was all this foreseen, provided 
for, and arranged, to contradict Miss Reed nn a point, material only to show the deliberate 
manner in which she states i.n untruth, and pe-sists in it.' The reader will remember, 
that there is no qualification of her remark as to the time; and now, since she has had 
an opportunity deliberately to reflLert, she fixes upon the 7th of August, as the time of her 
entering the Convent. 

A N S W E R . 

As the head of the Ursiiline Communiiy, I have no wish 
or desire to conceal tliat the attack of Miss Reed upon u\y 
character and conduct, and her foul aspersions upon the reli- 
gious order to which I belong, have given me and !ny reli- 
gious sisters many hours of anxious pain and suffering. The 
last few months, have been prolific with injuries and persecu- 
tions inflicted upon our inoffensive association of unprotect- 
ed females. We have not, however, yet become so habituated 
to the contumely and abuse that is daily heaped upon us, as to 
be weary of maintaining before the world, that innocence and 
purity of conduct and motive, which form our only shield 
against those, who from fanatic zeal, or baser motives, are 
endeavoring to crush us. ft is a duty that I owe to myself, 
and the Community of which I form the responsible head, to 
assert before the world, the falsehoods and baseness of Miss 
Reed, and to prove them to be so, as far as the nature of the 
charges against us will admit of jiroof. Of herself. Miss Reed 
is nothing ; as an i-nstrumeut in the hands of designing men, 
she is capable of extensive mischief and injury. Her false- 
hoods did us no harm, as long as they were circulated by her 
alone, among those who were acquainted with her character ; 
they become important only, when adopted by an irrespon- 
sible association, well known however as leading agitatois and 

Possessed of a flighty and unsteady disposition of mind, 
disinclined to the work and labor, which the extreme pover- 
ty of her parents made it necessary for her to perform, Miss 
R. has, as appears from her own statements, indulged herself in 
foolish and romantic reveries, the principal part of which have 
consisted of a life of seclusion, where she might enjoy her 


idle propensities to their full extent. She came to our Com- 
munity, doubtless in the belief that she would have nothing to 
do there, but to read, meditate and join in our prayers. She 
found that every hour had" its employment, and that constant 
labor was one of the chief traits of our order. The novelty of 
the scene wore away, and the hours, she imagined she should 
spend with so much delight, as an inhabitant of a cloister, she 
found to her sori'ow, ap})roprialed to the duties of every day 
life. She left us, and we should have forgotten her ere this, had 
she profited by her experience with us, had she acquired the 
steady industrious habits we endeavored to form in her, and 
found a situation as a sempstress, or other useful employment 
in some respectable family. 

Unfortunately, her love of the marvellous and her powers 
of misrepresentation prevailed against her better nature, and 
as among the ignorant, she could always find ready listeners, 
by whom the supposed secrets of a cloister or a nunnery must 
have been greedily listened to, she found an opportunity of 
indulging her idle habits, her wandei'ings from house to 
house, her talents for mimickry, her desire of display without 
the labor of preparation, and her enthusiasm in the cause of a 
new religion, — all at our expense. It was pleasanter and easier 
to her, thus to go about abusing the Community who had fed 
and sheltered her, than to return to a home of poverty and 
ignoble labor. She became a young lady at board, instead of 
a hard working menial. She ceased to be an object of chari- 
ty, begging for lodgings at Mrs. Graham's and there supplied 
with clothes, at the expense of an honest Scotch family, who, 
believing her stories, pitied her case. She became, as it 
were, an idol of the good. Dr. B, the Rev. Mr. C, the pious 
Dr. F, and their friends all visited her, read her manuscript, 
and though diasppointed that it wa^ not as bad as they expect- 
ed, yet they thanked her for what she had written, and inspirit- 
ed her to still better things — "• they shall have their reward." 

I am sorry to be the means of thus taking from Miss Reed 
some of her claims to be considered " a young lady," and I 
respect myself too much to wish to condescend to any un- 

necessary personalities towards her, but she lias placed ine in 
that position before the comnumity wliiclr makes the whole 
truth necessary. I am unused to subterfuge, either in words 
or actions, and where I am bound to speak at all, it must be 
with plainness and freedom, and in strict accordance w ith the 
truth. From my cradle upwards, 1 have been taught to des- 
pise a lie and deceit of every kind and I am too old now to 
change, if 1 would, the weapons of truth for those of false- 
hood, though I should in the latter case, oppose Miss Reed 
with her own contemptible means of warfare. 

I have labored under some difficulty, as to the most perspic- 
uous and convenient mode of answering the tissue of falsehoods 
woven in Miss Reed's book, and have concluded, since there 
is no connection or order in her statements, to take them up 
as-they successively present themselves in her book. I shall 
not however notice them all : many of them can only be met, 
being mere assertions, with the counter assertion of their falsi- 
ty, and many of them are so absurd in themselves, that, 
when Miss Reed's true history has become familiar with the 
reader, they will require no comment. As to the statements 
of this nature, I generally declare their falsity, and leave to 
the candid reader of this vindication, to bear me out in the 
assertion, if the facts can warrant it. 

(Page 4.) Miss Reed did not come to the Convent in 
August, but on the 11th of September, 1S31. Our design 
in admitting her, was not to fit her for becoming a teacher in 
the Convent, nor a recluse ; but to enable her to obtain suffi- 
cient education to keep a small school, whereby she might 
have a moderate salary for her oivn support.^ So far from ex- 
pressing dissatisfaction, after being with us "six" months ; — 
the very day on which she eloped, she entreated with tears, to 
be permitted to take the white veil. .She had no reason for bc- 

I As pruaf of this as.-ortiiin, we inftr to Rev. .Mr. Cios«<!l, \vitli ulioni Mis.s Recti con- 
siiltcil, as to entering the f 'orivi nt. n(' advLsed her to go thcru as a good place to obtain an 
education in order to instruct others. 81ie concealed from liiin that she wanted to become 
a Nun, and in fact was acting the liypocritc to him lor weeks before she finally left him for 
the Convent. If she changed her religious faith, it was before coming to the Convent 

lieviiig that "her return to the world would be opposed," but 
knew, on the contrary, that she must leave at the expiration 
of six months from the day she entered. There was no ob- 
stacle to her communicating with her friends ; but, as she was 
a mere beginner in writing and composition, she preferred 
not ; or, in other words, did not like the trouble. She did 
not leave the Convent i.i February, but January 18lh, 1832. 

(Page 7.) Our prices for education, were at the lowest, 
not the highest rate. Should a young lady, " crossed in love, 
or disappointed in securing a fashionable establishment in mar- 
riage," apply to become a " Nun," she could not be admitted ; 
nor can " wealthy parents, who have more daughters than 
they can portion, in the style they have been brought up, find 
it convenient or j^^'^f'^^^if^^^'^l^ to persuade the least beautiful to 
take the veil." Our rules forbid us to receive any who have 
these sinister motives. 

(Page 8.) I declared, in my testimony, on the trial of the 
rioters, that the vows of my religious order were poverty, 
chastity, obedience, and the instruction of female youth — 
not " poverty, chastity, and obedience ; to separate ourselves 
from the world, and to follow the instructions of the Superior." 

To purchase the land of Mount Benedict, and to erect the 
Convent, all our funds were laid out. The " profits" of the 
school were not employed solely in the support of eight nuns 
and two novices. With those " profits," furniture, instru- 
ments, books, and various conveniences for the school, were 
procured: the land, which, in 1827, was, literally, a barren 
hill, was cultivated and embellished with the same "profits." 
To accomplish this, one, two, or three men were constantly 
kept on the farm, at the rate of twelve, fourteen, sixteen, or 
eighteen dollars a month, besides their board : and, in the 
spring and summer, ten or twelve men, for months at a lime, 
were employed, at a dollar a day. We supposed that in 
beautifying Mount Benedict, we were manifesting due respect 
for the town in which we were situated, and an interest in fur- 
thering its importance. With the " profits of the school," 
provisions were purchased for the pupils, as well as for the 

Community, and for male and female domestics. Those same 
"profits" enabled the Community to clothe and educate, gratui- 
tously, from one to six pupils, every year, (not Catholics, exclu- 
sively.) I was likewise a member of two Protcslant charita- 
ble associations. Petitions and subscriptions were often 
brought to the Convent, which 1 always signed. No j)erson, 
in distress, ever came to the Convent, who was sent away 
unrelieved. ^Nlany times, when a j)U|)il, after entering, was 
obliged to return home before the expiration of a quarter, and 
when parents have, unexpectedly, been called away, the 
amount of the cpiarterly bills has been returned. Journeys to 
distant places have been paid for poor people — wives wishing 
to join their husbands, husbands their wives, and men and 
women, their families. All these circumstances were un- 
known, except to the trustees, the members of the Commu- 
nity, and the beneficiaries — as we are told in Scripture, 
" that our left hand should not know what our right hand 
doeth." We had not sixty pupils constantly ; but the number 
varied, and was sometimes as low as thirty. On an average, 
however, we had about forty. 

We do make a vow of poverty ; but the word poverty 
may admit of various modifications. It is well understood, 
when we take that vow, that we do not engage to live like 
mendicants. We make use of the necessaries of life, but deny 
ourselves its superfluities. Our food is plain, but wholesome ; 
and our clothing unexpensive and without ornament. Things 
in the house are used in common ; and we consider ourselves 
particularly bound, by this vow, to keep our hearts " detach- 
ed from the things below, and fixed on those above." 

(Page 8.) Our object in embracing the Ursuline Order 
was, with more facility to lead a life of piety ; and, at the 
same time, to do good to society, by promoting the educa- 
tion of female youths, without distinction of religions belief. 

(Page 9.) Every one that wished to become acquainted 
" with the whole interior discipline of both piq)ils and teach- 
ers," could easily obtain information from any of the young 
ladies who have been in the Institution since the school was 
opened, to the present day. 

Many ladies and gentlemen, the parents and friends of the 
pii))ils, were introduced into the interior of the Convent ; but 
it would have been an interruption to the pupils, as well as an 
encroachment upon the time and duties of the teachers, had 
these visits been frequent. 

As we were not indebted to the bounty of the public, for 
the erection of our Convent, we did not consider there was 
any obligation to invite or permit them to investigate our 
private concerns ; but, as the property was our own, we 
considered that we were at liberty, (with the approbation and 
concurrence of the trustees) to manage our affairs as we 

Though I am a foreigner, I was not "brought up in the 
seclusion of a Convent." On the contrary, I was educated 
in the good common schools of the time ; and few females, 
perhaps, have travelled and mingled with the world more than 
it was my lot to do, before I became a member of the Ur- 
suline Order. 

I did not introduce the Community or myself into Boston ; 
but, in April, 1824, I came at the earnest solicitation of 
the former Superior and her sisters. They had then been 
established nearly four years ; and the Superior, having lost 
two of her sisters, and being for a long time ill of consumption, 
and seeing her last hour approach, wished me to replace her. 
I acceded to her wishes, but did so very reluctantly. 

(Page 11.) The contents of this page are erroneous. 
The author says, " There are pupils from the Nunnery, who 
declare, that serious attempts were made to affect their reli- 
gious opinions." No such attempts were ever made, and 
the rules of our Institutions forbad it. 

It continues; — "And, in truth, could it possibly be 
otherwise, with ingenuous girls, living in the romantic atmos- 
phere of a Roman Catholic Nunnery, with all the mysterious 
and externally imposing ceremonies of that religion, constant- 
ly passing before their eyes and ears, in a portion of which, 
they daily participated .''" We had no mysterious and exter- 
nally imposing ceremonies, but simply had divine service on 

Sunday mornings, during which time, the pupils were direct- 
ed to read their bibles : consequently, the ceremonies of our 
religion, were not constantly " passing before their eyes and 
ears," nor were they obliged "• daily to participate in a por- 
tion of them." 

Miss Reed even could have enlightened the Committee 
on this point, as she says she saw but little of the schol- 
ars, and mentions as an extraordinary fact, that " they were 
sometimes at vacation permitted to enter the conmiunity and 
embrace the Religeuse," p. 159. 

(Page 12.) Miss Reed's health was not " seriously im- 
paired by religious austerities and 'seclusion." So far from 
practising the least austerity, while in the Convent, she had a 
great plenty, and the best of every thing with regard to diet, 
as she appeared very delicate, when she entered, and said she 
had, for a long time, been most cruelly treated by her family. 
She was not permitted to do any laborious work ; but, after 
she entered, fmding she was averse to study, and that she had 
a great difficulty in learning, she was permitted to attend to 
music, as she said her friends thought she had a talent for it, 
and would be pleased to have that talent culti\ated. We 
thought, likewise, as she was not a person, calculated to make 
any great exertion of body or mind, that teaching music would 
be a j)leasant and genteel means of support to her. She con- 
tinued, however, to devote a part of her time to the study of 
spelling and grammar. 

It is a tact, and all the pupils who were in the Institution 
at the time, and Mrs. Graham to whose house she afterwards 
went, can bear witness to it, that, before leaving the Convent, 
slie was quite fleshy, had a healthy and florid countenance, and 
had improved much in her personal appearance ; whereas, 
when she entered, she was feeble, pale and emaciated. 

(Page 34.) The " .Jesuit" of 1S31, does not say that 
when a Catholic changes his religion, he "is to be driven, 
by persecutions^ to intemperance, madness or suicide," The 
writer of the piece alluded to, supposed that these might be 
the consequences of remorse^ but not of 'persecution^ for our 
religion docs not sanction such want of charity. 

(Page 37.) The first lime I ever saw Miss Reed, was in 
December 1830. She requested, several other times, to 
have an interview with me, but was refused, and told that we 
wished to have nothing to do with her. She conversed with 
the portress, and told her that she was a destitute and perse- 
cuted being ; that her father had driven her from his house ; 
that her brothers and sisters in Boston, had cast her off; and 
that if I did not take her, she had no place but the street. 
;She applied to Rev. Mr. Byrne, in Charlestown ; and, hav- 
ing prevailed on him to write to me, requesting I would have 
a conversation with her, I consented to see her tivice in the 
course of nme months. In each of these visits, she solicited, 
most earnestly^ to be admitted as a servant ;' and when I told 
her she was too delicate, she assured me she both could and 
would be able to wash, iron, scrub the floors, and do other 
laborious icork, 

She spoke much of her father's cruelty to her ; but I advis- 
ed her to return to him, to beg his forgiveness, and be in fu- 
ture, a dutiful daughter. She said he would not allow her 
to step her foot in his house, and that he did not care where 
she went.* The Rt. Rev. Bishop and Rev. Mr. Byrne 
were moved to compassion by her stories, and requested me 
to do something for her, saying she was a destitute girl, and 
might be exposed, if left in that unprotected state. I told 
her it was out of the question to think of being received as a 
servant ; that we already had sufficient help, even supposing 
she were capable of discharging that employment ; but, that 
I would make an offer, to her father, of giving her six months' 
schooling. I did write to him, but never received an answer 
to my letter. He told the bearer, that he would call on me, 
but he did not do so ; and when, in my third interview with 
Miss Reed, I told her I had not had an answer from her 
father, she told me not to expect any ; that he was a violent 
man ;' that he wished to discard her forever ; but that, as she 

1 This is not the first time of lier going out to service. 

2 She told tlie same stories to the family, where she was before entering the Convent. 

3 As a proof of his violence, see " Six Months in a Convent," p. 69. 


was eighteen, she was at Hberty to decide for herself.' He 
deHvered a message to Mrs. L., namely, that I ought to have 
nothing to do with his daughter ; but that message was not 
transmitted to me until five months after, when Miss Reed 
had left the Convent some time. 

After reluctantly acceding to her wishes, and acting from 
the purest motives of charity and friendship, I do think it very 
ungrateful in Miss Reed, to misrepresent, as she has done, 
every thing that she witnessed in the Convent ; and to slan- 
der those from whom she never received an unkind word, but 
who manifested towards her every mark of kindness. 

(Page 38.) I did not answer Mr. Farley, that we were 
preparing Miss Reed to instruct in the school, but in a school.^ 

With regard to the receipts for sixty scholars, we never 
had that number, except once ; and then, not longer than two 

Very few of our pupils attended to any of the extra branches 
of education, except music and French, for instruction in 
which, a mere trifle was charged : and when the various ex- 
penses of the Institution, as before detailed, are taken into 
consideration, I think all will agree that, with small educa- 
tion and board fees for the pupils, it required some economy 
to keep die Community entirely free from debt. 

It is a mistake, that Miss Reed " was well skilled in or- 
namental needle-work." She could do a little lace-work, 
like some school-girls, but appeared totally ignorant of every 
other kind of " ornamental work." She did a few sprigs on 
a robe, by way of amusement, during the hours of recreation ; 
but she never made any ornaments for the altar ; therefore, 
"her industry, in that department," could not have been 
" a full equivalent for all the charity she received at the Con- 
vent." If the editor of the "Jesuit" said she was "very 

1 On page 68, Miss Reed a<lmit.s the letter being written to her father, which proves, 
in connexion with her own statements in various places, how anxiously it was desired 
not to have her, except by her parent's consent, and why she told so many harsh sto- 
ries of lier father's treatment to her. 

2 In my testimony, however, I did make one mistake as to the time when I first naw 
Mise Reed. I have correctly eJ.ited the time on page 8. 


capable of obtaining a livelihood by her knowledge of the va- 
rious branches of needle- work," he relied, entirely, on what 
she said of herself. 

The story of meeting her brother on a certain bridge, origi- 
nated from herself ', she told it to a great many persons, and 
related the same to me, as well as to the other members of 
the Community. 

(Page 40.) If I " admitted, under oath, that Miss Reed 
would know every thing which took place during the time 
she was with us, excepting what occurred in the school- 
room," I did not, thereby, give sanction to the misrepresen- 
tations and falsities which she has circulated. 

(Page 41.) Our dwelling "wag accessible, at proper 
times, to the parents and friends of its numerous inmates." 
When pupils were sick, they were always permitted to re- 
ceive visits from their parents or guardians, and the school- 
room, sleeping and eating rooms were likewise visited by 
them. Such visits were not frequent, as before stated, for 
they would have been an interruption to the regular operation 
of the school. 

We had no " public exercise of the scholars," as the larg- 
est room in the Convent did not conveniently hold all the pu- 
pils, with the Community. 

The thousand dollars in my desk, at the destruction of the 
Convent, were destined, with what we might afterwards be 
enabled to add to that sum, for the erection of a building, or 
large hall, for public examination. Four hundred dollars of 
that sum, were likewise due to Mrs. B., the instructress in 

If the Hon. S. P. P. Fay " never saw the school at the 
Convent, and never, but once, Avent beyond the parlor," it 
was not because he might not have done so, had his avoca- 
tions permitted. He always appeared satisfied with the pro- 
gress that his daughter had made, and expressed no wish to 
investigate the interior of the school. 

(Page 42.) We did not " freely admit to our most pri- 
vate apartments, at all times of day or night, a number of 


clergymen:" on the contrary, at the time of the destructioil 
of the Convent, we did not know, even by sight, any of the 
CathoHc clergy in Boston, except the Rt. Rev. Bishop, and 
one other clergyman, who performed divine service for us, 
when the Rt. Rev. Bishop was absent from the city. It is 
a solemn truth, that no man, clergyman or secular, was ever 
permitted to be in the Convent after eight o'clock, P. M.j 
(and very seldom after 7 o'clock,) except once on Christmas 
night, and the evening on which Miss Harrison had left the 
Convent, when I sent for the Rt. Rev. Bishop, to apprize 
him of the circumstance. It was after seven o'clock, that I 
received information of her being at West Cambridge. 

(Page 43.) There was no rule which obliged us "to 
knock three times before entering an apartment, and to wait 
for the knocks to be returned," nor did we do so. 

(Page 50.) Speaking of when we went to Mount Bene- 
dict, Miss Reed says, " we were in school, but had permis- 
sion to look at them as they passed." We passed at 5 
o'clock in the morning, and school did not commence till a 
much later hour.' She says, on the same page, " by the 
ivord ignorant, is meant what they term heretics. This is 
the first time that I ever knew such a definition was attached to 
the word ignorant. Miss Reed's memory is not the least 
surprising of her accomplishments." 

(Page 54.) When Miss Reed visited Mount Benedict^ 
I did not embrace her, nor did I sit, but I stood for a few 

1 This can be proved by the lady who kept thescliool, who can and will inform inquirers 
ois to Mis3 Reed's charau^ter for veracity and acquirement.-!, even at that early period. 

2 It would gratify a laudable curiosity to know wliat the " other reasons" p. 51, were, that 
caused Miss Reed to visit New Hampshire, and who sent her up there. At this page 
we meet with her only attempt at eloquence and fine writing. " Memory oft brings 
to view and faithfully delineates those hours of retirement and happiness," (where.-' in New 
Hampshire .' No !) " which I should spend, were I an inhabitant of a cloister" This fs a 
memory worth possessing, that delights to bring to view and delineates hours, which it 
imagined it should spend. It is a very good memory, that brings to view the hours spent, 
how much better is that, which presents the hours, we imagined we should spend, and 
thus realises our visions. It is equal to the echo, which to the words 'how do you do/ 
return* ' very well, I thank you ' 


moments only, to say that I thought it best she should not 
come to the Convent, even as a visitor, lest her friends should 
suppose that I had enticed her. I did not ask the questions 
which she there says I did ; and, as to the expression, " O, 
it feels more like a pancake than any thing else," it is one 
of her own delicate fabrications ; those who know me will 
never believe that such an expression came from me. 

(Page 55.) She did not say that she " wished to go into 
the school attached to the Nunnery, on the same terms as 
other pupils, until she had made sufficient progress to take the 
veil, and become a recluse, but asked admittance as a servant, 
even after I proposed, at the third interview, that she should 
be a pupils 

(Page 56.) " At a subsequent interview," I did not re- 
mark that I beheved she " had a vocation for a religious life," 
for I did not think she had ; it appeared to me, from the first 
time that I saw her, that she was a romantic and ignorant girl ; 
and it was from this persuasion, that I told her I wished to 
have nothing to do with her. When she said she wished to 
be a Catholic, and desired some instructions from me, I re- 
ferred her to the Catholic clergy, saying we had no time, and 
did not give such instructions then, though we had done so 
formerly. I did not mention a Mr. R. who would introduce 
her to the Rt. Rev. Bishop, and had never heard of the gen- 
tleman, until she spoke of him, said she was acquainted with 
him, and would get him to introduce her. I did not say that 
" the Bishop or Mr. R. would discuss the matter with her 
father, and reconcile him to cathoUcity."* 

(Page 59.) She did not " call upon me to make me ac- 
quainted with her conversation with the Bishop, and with her 

1 Slie first went to the Convent according to her own statement pp. 52, 53, 54, with an 
aequaintance wliohad been "a domestic in Mr. H. J. R's family." 

2 Mr. R. she says, " desired I would secrete the paper on which the texts were quoted." 
This is one of the numerous instances, where a thing must be secretly done, and where the 
caution was idle. Mr. R. called, she says, at her father's house, without any secrecy, and 
yet two or three texts that are in every Bible and might have been turned to, are handed 
her, and she is told to accrete the paper ! 


refusal ef the catechism.'" I likewise disavow the following 
observations on page CO, and I certainly did not embrace her. 
(Page Gl.) She was not " a constant visiter at the Con- 
vent ;" and I never sent for her more than once, uhicli was 
tjie third time that 1 saw her. Siie came uj), unexpectedly, 
one day, (the second time that I ever saw her,) when the 
Rt. Rev. Bishop was on the land. He requested me to ad- 
vance and see what she wanted, but said he did not wish to 
have any conversation with her.* I did not embrace her at 
all ; — far from doing so " in the most affectionate manner." 
It was at this time that she told me, if I did not take her, that 
she would throw herself into the canal, or kill herself in some 
other way. I told her, these were no expressions for a chris- 
tian, and that, so far from gaining upon me, by such language, 
she only persuaded me the more firmly, that I ought to have 
nothing to do with her. She was known as Theresa Reed 
at this time.^ 

1 8lie unwittingly tells of lior going to the Bishop, and if any one will read the conversa- 
tion she details, tliey will see the propriety of his conduct. Slie goes there, as one profess- 
ing to be desirous of hecoming a JV«?i. Does he encourage her ? No! He asks her, if she 
knows what the nature of the duties of a Nun are, — how long she had been considering 
tlie matter, — her opinion on the Catholic faith, she was about to adopt, and the opinion of 
her friends. All this was peculiarly proper, — then comes this remarkable sentence. " As 
my feelings were easily wrought upon, more particularly at this time, questions were put 
to me, which more mature deliberation leads me to think were put under the impression 
that I was very ignorant, and which were very unpleasant for me to answer." If any other 
questions were put to her I should like to know wliat they were, — if no others were put 
but those of this general nature, I readily understand why mature consideration leads her 
to think they were put under the impression she was very ignorant, and which were very 
unpleasant for her to answer; the questions most probably discovered her entire ignorance 
of the vocation she sought, of the tenets of the faith she wislied to adopt, and the exposure 
of her ignorance was doubtless unpleasant to a sciisitive creature, whose feelings were easily 
wrought upon. 

2 The first interview probably satisfied the Bishop. 

3 There is an amusing circumstance in relation to Miss Reed's names. She was baptised 
at the Episcopal Church in Cambridge, under the name of Rebecca Theresa. Neither fa- 
ther, mother, brother or sister, were her sponsors. When she became a Catholic, slie asked 
Father Byrne for a second baptism, wliich he refused, stating to her, lliat her first baptism 
was as efficacious as if performed in the Catholic form. But she was not to be daunted in 
this way. She asked him if the baptism would liave been good, if the clergyman hail used 
no water. He told her it would not. Then, said she, I have not been properly baptised, 
for the clergyman used no water at my baptism. Afterwards, before a number of person.*) 
in open church, weeks if not months before her entering the Convent, Father B. reciting 
that whereas she had before passed through the ceremony of baptism in tlie Episcopal 
Church, which if duly performed, was in the sight of Cod, a good and siifTKit nt baptism ; 


(Page 67.) She told a long story of the persecutions she 
had to endure from her friends, as well as the unkind feehngs 
and expressions of.iMr. E. against us and our religion ; but 
I neither felt nor manifested displeasure ; nor did Mrs. Mary 
John, or Mary Benedict, who were present. As to jewelry 
of hers, that she speaks of, I nev^r saw any ; — the poverty 
of her parents was such, as not to allow it to be supposed to 
extend further than to a pair of ear-rings. 

(Page 78.) I did not say to her, " O, you will die a 
martyr to the cause of truth ;" for I had no supposition of her 

I did not tell her, " that her father had become reconciled 
to her remaining with us two or three quarters, after which 
he would inform us whether he would consent to have her 
stay there longer, as a teacher of music." There was no 
conversation about her being a teacher of music : she had 
never taken lessons, and it was not likely that she would be 
competent to that employment, in six months. ' 

(Page 79.) I told her, in order to remove all unpleasant 
feelings of dependence, that she could be of use to the Com- 
munity, by her needle, when not employed in study, and that 
we did not wish the assistance of her friends. During the 
four months that she passed with us, however, she did very lit- 
tle needle-work. 

and whereas she had stated that in said ceremony, she was not baptised with water, which 
if true would render null the ceremony, declared if all these things were true, and in case 
said first baptism was thus invalid, he baptised her by the name of Mary Agnes Theresa, 
a name by her chosen. 

1. Pp. 59, CO. When she called upon the Bishop, he gave directions to Mr. R. as she 
says, to purchuse for her a Catechism of the Catholic church, a book containing the rudi- 
ments of a faith she wished to adopt, and which it is apparent she knew nothing about. 
She refused it, but why, it is impossible to divine, for a week alter, she expressed to me 
the same strong desire to become an inmate of the Convent. On p. ti-J, she says she 
saw the Bishop and Lady Superior, and at that time, she thought them " the most angelic 
persons living." Her mind had changed towards the Bishop without any assignable cause, 
in the most miraculous manner. After this conversation she returned to her father, 
who was much displeased with the steps she had taken (what steps .') and bade her renounce 
all connerion iciUi the Catholics or have her friends. She adopted the latter course, and went 
finally to Mrs. G's. and henc;^ arose her lie, that she had been turned out of doors. 


1 did not invite lier to the Convent, but said tiiat I consent- 
ed to it, and that she could enter on the 11th of September. 
I promised to do all that I could for her, but made no engage- 
ment of " protecting her forever, and particularly from the 
persecution of the heterodox."" 

She often, after entering the Convent, made such extrava- 
gant expressions as these : — " O, if I could take a cross and 
go through the streets of Boston, making known the true 
faith ! O, if I could show my zeal for Jesus Christ, and 
convert my Protestant friends ! O, if I could preach to the 
heretics, and make them know their errors ! " When I told 
her it was wrong to speak in this way ; that it was enthusias- 
tic, and that she should not hold forth insinuations against any 
denomination of Christians, but have charity for all, she was 
astonished, and said she thought such opinions too liberal. 

(Page 70.) I told her that I had consulted with the Rt. 
Rev. Bishop, with regard to the expediency of placing her in 
the senior or junior department, and that we had concluded 
to let her remain with ourselves, as she was quite a young 
woman ; that she would feel unpleasantly, being very igno- 
rant, to be subjected to the criticism of the senior pupils ; 
that the same objection might exist, with regard to her situa- 
tion with the junior scholars,* many of whom were intelligent, 
fine children ; and that, moreover, an account of the dispar- 
ity of age, she might not be happy in their society. She re- 
joiced, that " so great a privilege " was extended to her ; and 
said we were making her one of the happiest of beings. 

I did not say, that she would be received as the other 
sisters were, and that they were to support themselves by their 
talents and industry. 

Neither I nor my sisters recollect ever to have heard Mrs. 
Mary Ursula say daoun for down. She is an elderly lady, 
educated in the old school ; and, it is true, pronounces some 

1 Ai tlie town school, near the Convent, which she attemled :it the age of fourteen, she 
could not read as well m children at the age of iix. 


words in tlie old style ; but when any observation was ever 
made to her about it, it was done kindly, as sisters, in a pri- 
vate family, would do to each other. We never supposed, 
when Miss Reed was with us, that she was a spy, who, at a 
future period, would turn common-place and innocent conver- 
sations into tyrannical and abusive language, and make her 
reports accordingly. 

Neither Mrs. Mary Ursula nor the other sisters were 
obliged to kneel down and kiss the floor : Miss Reed would 
make it appear, that "kissing the floor," was an important 
and frequent occupation of the inmates of the Community. It 
was not the case ; and even were it so, it is an innocent 
thing, and can be censured by no one, particularly when purely 
a voluntary act. The remarks upon this subject are intended, 
I presume, 16 caricature Catholic forms of worship. 

It is singular, that the inmates of the Community should be 
so far duped, as to allow themselves to tremble in approaching 
me ; particularly, as it has depended on them, entirely, since 
the first three years that I have been their Superior, to de- 
pose me, and to choose anotlier in my stead, should I, by 
word or action, have rendered myself obnoxious to their 

(Page 71.) "The latter," (meaning, I suppose, Mrs. 
Mary Austin) " was both teacher and pupil." This is incor- 
rect: she was like the other members of the community. 

The following never took place. " .She then desired me to 
kneel down, and take the following obligation : I do, with 
the grace and assistance of Almighty God, renounce the world 
forever, and place myself under your protection, from this 
day, to consecrate myself to his honor and glory, in the house 
of God, and to do whatever obedience prescribes, and tell no 
one of this obligation but Mr. B. in confession." 

I have no recollection of the pocket album, or of the fifteen 

No such visit, as that spoken of in page 72, ever took place; 
and sIk! entered September lltjj, instead of August 5th. She 
agrees that she entered on Sunday ; but on examining the cal- 


cndar for 1831, it is found, that the fifth of August falls on 

She was not "requested to kneel and continue her devo- 
tions, until the Superior made her appearance." 

The " large crucifix, made of bone, which I was after- 
wards informed was made of the bones of saints," was actu- 
ally paper ; and this is the first time, that I ever heard of its 
being made of bone. 

" She took from her toilet a religious garb, which she 
placed upon my head, and bade me kiss it, saying it had 
been blessed by the bishop." I had no toilet ; and I placed 
on her head a cap, which 1 am sure the Rt. Rev. Bishop 
never saw. She wore a cap, as it is a regulation that any 
individual, who is admitted into our Community for a cer- 
tain time, and is separated from the pupils, should bear this 

(Page 73.) In putting on her cap, I pronounced no " short 
Latin prayer." Miss Stimpson was not kept, for she had an 
aunt and friends in Boston, who said they would receive her 
at any time. I made no attempt to deceive Miss Reed, by 
saying " she had gone to another order ; " nor can I con- 
ceive what inducement I could have had, either trifling or im- 
portant, to impose upon her by such a story. 

(Page 74.) There was no " office of adoration to the 
Blessed Virgin." Catholics honor, in a special manner, the 
Virgin Mary, as she is the mother of Christ ; but they do not 
adore her. Adoration they pay to none but God.' 

On going into the refectory, the Community do not, " after 

1 Miss R's accuracy is remarkable. Slie says, (p. 67) on one of her visits to the Com- 
munity, heforc residing, she had a conversation about a piece in the Jesuit, which is pub- 
lished in the preface of her book. The date of it is Auiiust 6, 1831. According to her 
statement, it was not until some time after, that she became an inmate of the Convent ; 
and yet she fixes tlie date at August fj, 1831, a day before the article in the Jesuit ap- 

2 As to the stories on this page about the pear, it is a little singular that Miss R. should 
have learned the rules of ihc Convent the first hour of her admission, and that a can- 
didate for the order, was ignorant of them. 



saying Latin, kneel and kiss the floor, at a signal given by the 
Superior on her snufF-box." 

The conversation, with regard to the words, " In nomine 
Domini nostri Jesu Christe," has been entirely fabricated by 
Miss Reed.' 

(Page 75) No such things ever occurred in the Convent 
as performing "several devotions, kissing the floor, and re- 
peating Latin, while the angelus was ringing;" nor had we 
rules " enclosed in a gilt frame." 

(Page 76.) We had no such rules as those Miss Reed 
has specified in this and the following page. The fourth, 
ninth and tenth, were generally practised, but were not among 
the '■^ rules, '^ The rules of our order are printed in the ap- 

(Page 78.) We never knelt in the presence of the Bish- 
op, except two or three times a year, to ask his benediction. 

" His Holiness the Bishop," and " the Father Confessor," 
never concerned themselves about our diet ; and we had no 
"^ permission " to obtain from them " to gratify our appetites." 

There was no rule which forbade us "to approach or look 
out of the window of the Monastery." This may have origi- 
nated from Miss Reed being told not to waste too much 
time in looking out of the windows, instead of studying her 

No sandals and haircloth were worn, and no punishments 
inflicted " upon ourselves with our girdles." 

The Community slept on good not hard mattresses, pur- 
chased at Mr. Foster's in Charlestown. Fach member of the 
Community had the following complement of bed-clothes : 
sheets, pillow-cases, four blankets, a comforter, and counter- 
pane. When the weather was severe, those who wished for 

1 The remarks, in the note of Miss Reed, in whicli slie says, that the Superior told 
her that slie should not hidiilire riiriogily, is one of the tliousand that are stated, liaving 
neither jxunt nor meaning, [f the term idle curiusUy liad been used, a well merited ic- 
proach niinht have; been conveyed perhaps ; taking away the word idle, leaves it point- 
less and absurd. Notwithstanding in ripply to lier question, the Superior tells lier she 
must not indulge her curiosity, she, nevertheless, goes on, in the same breath, and satisfies 
by a full answer, whether true or false, her inquiry. 


more covering could ask for it, and it was never denied. In 
proof of this, I shall relate the following circumstance. One 
cold day, I asked Miss Reed how she had slept the preced- 
ing night. She said her feet Irad been cold. I was surprised ; 
and, telling her I feared that her bed had not been properly- 
attended to, I asked her to specify what bed-clothes she had ; 
to which she replied, " cotton and flannel sheets, five blan- 
kets, two comforters and a counterpane." This occurrence 
is well recollected by those members of the Community who 
were present, to all of whom it was a subject of great amuse- 

No person, at Mt. Benedict, to my -knowledge, ever walked 
with pebbles in her shoes, or walked kneeling. There was no 
rule, forbidding " to touch any thing without permission." 

(Page 79.) I believe rule 9th, '■'■ never to gratify our 
curiosity, or exercise our thoughts on any subject, without our 
spiritual director's knowledge and advice, never to desire 
food or v.'ater between portions," is too absurd to obtain cred- 
it with the most prejudiced or ignorant: — " never to gratify 
our curiosity, or exercise our thoughts on any subject, with- 
out our spiritual director's knowledge." — By this, it would 
appear, that an arrangement was to be made, each Sunday 
morning, for the thoughts of the entire week. 

It was seldom that any food was taken, between meals^ by 
the inmates of the Community : but if an individual, on account 
of sickness or debility, found it necessary to take something, 
all she had to do was to ask for it, and it was always given. 

There was no rule obliging us, " on leaving the Community, 
to take holy water from the altar of the Blessed Virgin, and 
make the sign of the cross," thoitgh it was sometimes done. 

No member of our Community was ever brought before the 
Bishop for committing faults. 

We could smile, when we pleased ; and, at recreation, we 
could even laugh very heartily, without supposing that we 
thereby violated " religious decorum." 

(Page 79.) " Should the honored Mother, the Superior, 
detect a Religieuse whose mind is occupied with worldly 


thoughts, or who is negligent in observing the rules of the 
Monastery, which are requisite and necessary to her perse- 
verance and perfection in a religious life, she should immedi- 
ately cause her to retire to her cell, where she could enter into 
a retreat." — Rule 12th. 

I was not aware, till reading this passage, that I was so 
highly gifted, as to be able to " read the secrets of hearts." 
Nor have our cells been discovered, though the premises, one 
would suppose, have been sufficiently searched. 

(Page SO.) The next morning after Miss Reed entered, 
was Monday morning, not " holy day morning ;" and we 
rose at 4 o'clock during the entire year, " holy day morn- 
ings " not excepted. 

(Page 81.) Complin was not a morning prayer ; there- 
fore, not recited in the morning. No confessions were made 
to me ; but the members of the Community acknowledged to 
me slight omissions of duly, and in return, received my 

I had no throne, but always sat in a chair : the other mem- 
bers of the Community, likewise sat on chairs and benches, 
not " on their feet." 

No one ever repeated to me the form, commencing on page 
81, and continuing on page 82. 

I was never called Holy Mother. The inmates of the 
Community did not kiss my feet, after acknowledging their 
actual faults, ' nor did they make a cross with their tongues 
on the floor. 

We took our meals on all days, (Fridays included,) sitting 
at tables, and not on the floor. 

No ceremony was performed till 8 o'clock, A. M. Be- 

1 This is a most singular confession. " f)ur Motlier, we acknowledge that we liave 
been guilty of breaking the rules of our IIulij Order, by lifting our eyes while walking in 
the passage ways; In neglecting to take holy water on entering the Community and 
choir," &c. &c. It has the particularity of a special confession of faults, which guilty or 
not, all it seems must make. According to Miss Reed, if a person raised her eyes or not in 
the passage ways, she must confess she did, and thus be placed in this dilemma. If she 
raised her eyes she broke the rules, if she did not, she must lie in her confession I 


fore that hour, breakfast was always despatched, tlie morning; 
recreations terminated, and then, the school exercises were 

(Pages 83, 84 & 85.) Miss Heed's statements, with re- 
gard to the ceremonies oj tabic ^ are fnrnished from her own in- 
ventive imagination. Our diet generally consisted, at dinner, 
of meat foia- times a week, with soup, vegetables and bread : 
on the other three days, we had fish and puddings, {'"or 
breakfast, we had bread, with coftee, black tea, chocolate or 
shells : — for supper, bread with butter or preserves, and 
some one of the liquids before mentioned. 

If there ever was any mould on the bread, it was bxj acci- 
dent that it was presented at the table. Miss Reed being a 
person of feeble constitution, and not a member of the Com- 
munity, had even delicacies which they had not. 

(Page S6.) All in the Community are at liberty to con- 
verse on what subjects they please, provided they are moral 
The division of the afternoon prayers, as stated by Miss 
Reed, is incorrect. We prayed from the quarter, till half 
past one, and then recited Vespers, which terminated some 
minutes before two. 

We had, at least, one hour's recreation every evening. A 
lay-sister did not " remain kneeling in the entry, until we get 
to the psalm called the Te Deum,'" which is a hymn, not a 
psalm. No bell was rung while it was recited. 

(Page 87.) " Matins, lauds and prayers," continued from 
7 till 8 o'clock, — not till 9. The bell rang at half past 
8, and all were in bed before 9. No one ever remained up 
to "attend lessons and penances." I do not recollect hav- 
ing reprimanded any one for not arranging my seat : it is hard- 
ly necessary to add, that I should not have reprimanded an- 
other for her " remissness." The apartment which she calls 
"the Bishop's room," was so named hy the ijoung ladies, 
because it was the room in which he generally entered first, 
when he came to perform divine service. 

(Page 88.) I have no recollection of the circumstance of 
her saying she " liked all pretty well, except my couch ;" 


but if her " couch " was not agreeable to her, I doubt not 
it was changed at her request, without the intercession of any 
saint whatever.' 

It is a fact, that Miss Reed never performed one penance, 
while in the Convent, and that so far from having any " ex- 
haustion," she improved very rapidly in her health. There 
were, consequently, no austerities from which it became ne- 
cessary to release her. Mrs. Graham, "(Mrs. G.)" and her 
whole family will testify, that she had improved wonderfully 
in her health while in the Convent. 

No one, in our Convent, arose, during Lent, or at any other 
time, to say " Midnight Matins," and "hear Mass." We 
had Mass one Christmas night, but that was the only time. 

(Page 91.) No such circumstance ever took place, as the 
one related on this page, where she makes herself the com- 
panion of the Bishop and myself, — it is too ridiculous for 
credit with any one. ^ 

There is not the slightest foundation in the story of Mrs. 
Mary Magdalene. For some months before her decease, 
she was not permitted to attend the public devotions of the 
Community, or even to kneel, in reciting her prayers. Had 
she been treated in the way that Miss Reed represents, 
would it be consistent that her two sisters who were novices 
at the time, and at full liberty to leave, should never- 
theless have united themselves to our Community for life, 

1 At page 69, she says that the Bishop told her tliat her sister had been to see if she bad 
taken the veil, or had any thought of taking it ; and he said I might rest contented, as my 
friends would trouble me no more Slie says her sisters say that he told them she had not 
taken the veil, but hoped she would soon dn it. Notwithstanding this, she says at p. 94, she 
was to take the veil privately, lest her father sliould hear of it, and take her away. Does it 
appear rational that the Bishop should have thus spoken to her sisters, if there was to be any 
thing private about it .' 

2 The total disconnectedness of her conversation with the Bishop, as stated by her on 
p. 88, will prove its falsity. "He then addressing me," says she, "asked how I liked 
Mount Benedict. I said, ' very well, my Lord.' He then said, ' O, but you will have to 
strive with temptations between the good and evil spirits ;' and he then explained all the 
horrors of ?at;m, and asked me where Saint Theresa, my namesake, was ; and told me 
to say, as she did, these words : ' Now come all of you ; I being a true servant of God, 
will see whatyou can do against nie ;' by way of challenge to the evil ones ; and beg her 
intercession." The Bishop has some reputation even with Miss Reed's publishing Com- 
mittee for intelligence and good sense, p. 9 ; if this conversation took place, he ought not 
In retain that character a moment. 

and are ready to testify as to the kind manner in which she 
was treated, as will also Dr. Thompson who attended her ? 

(Page 94.') No preparations could have been made for 
her taking the vows^ as she here asserts, as we had no inten- 
tion of receiving her as a member of our Community, and she 
was well acquainted with this determination.* 

The poetry which she speaks of, was composed for her by 
Mrs. Mary Austin ; she, herself, could not pen correctly, 
two lines of prose or poetry. 

(Page 95.) The idea, that her conversion was " like 
St. Teresa's," never struck me ; nor can I, even since she 
has mentioned it, imagine where the similarity lies. 

I am surprised that she speaks of ten dresses, and 1 am 
sorry to be compelled to say that she only had two that could 
with decency be worn ; — the pongee which was given to her, 
before she entered, in order that she might have the uniform 
of the pupils, and a brown dress. ^ She sent, along time after 
she left, for two silk gowns ; and in order to exonerate the 

1 It may be well liere to allude to the charge of Miss Reed, tliat slie was not at liberty to 
write to, or to receive her friends. The fact was, having stated repeatedly that her friends 
had treated her unkindly and cast her off, and admitting in her book p. 62, that her father 
had given her the option of renouncing " all connexion with the Catholics" or leave her 
friends, — she had ado|)ted the former alternative and she was compelled as she thought for 
consistency's sake, to renoonc* them in turn. She absolutely refused to see them wlien 
they called, as she also diil afterwards, at Mrs. Graham's, before she decided whether to 
return to them or get admitted, if possible, to the orders of the sisters of cliarity. Her mes- 
sage to lier friends at p. 93, informs them that " I liked the Convent very well, and should 
be very happy to see them, iflhcy inould ntt speak (isainst my religion." Does she doubt that 
she could see them, if she would, and knowing tlieir sentiments, does it appear unlikely 
that on the whole, she should refuse to see them ? Her message, she says, was never re- 
ceived and she then asserts that she was deceived in regard to Mrs. Graham's friendship. 
She says this to get rid of the effect of Mrs. Graham's contradiction, who, if she is not her 
friend, is too honest to deceive or to lie. And she says that the messages were delivered 
to tier friends an<I that she refused to see her own sister, after she had left the Convent, 
and secreterl herself when she called. Mrs. G. was shocked at such unfeeling conduct, 
invited her sister iii, and told Miss Reed that sIk! must see her sister, who had come all the 
way from the City for this purpose. 

2 She says the vows were administered tohir '■ jirivatoly," for fear fier father sljould hear 
of It, &.C. As the ceremony is always imide known. Miss Keed knew unless she could make 
this appear lo have been an exception, the chiUlnii would alt have contradicted her state- 
ment. It is therefore represented private, in order to avoid thii exposure. 

3 The clothes, she had at Mrs. (Jraham's before entering the Convent, were liardly de 
cent. Mrs. G. and her friends gave her some. When slie left lier father's, ehe was desti- 


r . Institution from having defrauded her of rightful property, it 
'*/!'• may be well to mention here, that at the time we were ex- 
pecting the Cholera, and while of course, we were making all 
due exertion to free the habitation of every thing that might 
cause impure air, necessity forced us to commit them to the 
r' flames. As to the story of the " long habit" and "veil," 
there is not a shadow of truth in it ; the scholars know this 
'" •:■■ story to be false. 

(Page 96.) The ridiculous story of her not rising at the 
Angelus, and its being unnoticed, and a Nun omitting the 
same duties and being penanced for the omission, narrated on 
this page, has no more truth in it, than the preceding one of 
the " long habit" and " veil."' 

(Pages 97 and 98.) The contents of these pages are in- 
correct. The good sister who is here spoken of, had too 
superior a mind, to act as Miss Reed describes in these and 
some of the following pages. However, there was some 
foundation, on which the fertile imagination of Miss Reed 
could seize, in order to produce the interesting details of 
these pages. 

Mrs, Mary Francis had passed some time, in the course 
of her education, with the sisters of Charity. After making 
a trial of our order, she said she thought theirs would better 
suit her inclinations than ours. She was advised to remain 
some time longer with us ; there being, however, no inten- 
tion or supposition, that such an arrangement would interfere 
with her happiness. She said, very readily, that she could 
take three months to decide. She was a person very easily 
aflected to tears ; and in this state of indecision, they could 
not be restrained. When I saw that her mind was thus 
troubled, 1 thought it best that she should come to an imme- 

1 Suppos^ing the story to be true, however, it only proves the assertion, that slie was not 
one of the " Religcuse.^' She states frequent omissions of duty, whicli were uniiotireri in 
her case, and yet punished by penance or reproof in the cases of otlirrs, thus dniwing llic 
distinction lh:it existed between her and the " Religcuse." Fler frequent conipliuients to 
herself upon her siugingand working, as that upon p. 7fi, put into the mouth of the Bishop, 
are iilight evidence of her retiring modeHy of character. 


diate determination. She did so ; and, concluding to em- 
brace the life of a Sister of Charity, she left Mount Benedict, 
in the beginning of November, 1831, instead of waiting till 
Christmas, as she had at first intended." 

(Page 98.) Miss Reed was indisposed once^ while at Mt. 
Benedict, from a disordered stomach, which occasioned 
faintness : she took an emetic, after which she seemed to be 
perfectly well. It is singular, that when, as she says, she had 
actually fainted, she could hear me whisper and say to her, 
she ^' ought not to have any feelings." 

(Page 101.) Had we felt inclined to use such cruelty, as to 
confine Mrs. Mary Francis, the Selectmen of Charlestown, 
as well as the public at large, who have had ample opportu- 
nty of examining the Convent since its destruction, will be able 
To assert, whether or not we had places suitable for executing 
so shocking a design. We were put to much inconvenience, 
on account of having only one very small cellar, on the south 
side of the building ; in consequence of which, we had not 
a proper place to secure our vegetables." 

1 Her course of proceeding as it regards Mrs. Mary Francis is a very fair specimen of the 
■duplicity of Miss Reed's cliaracter, taking her own account. It shows that even if what 
she relates be tnie, as it certainly is not, her forte is duplicity, — writing on a slate, and pre- 
tending to write music, — laying a plot to deceive the Lady Superior, — telling a lie by con- 
cert with another, — selecting the of her real name from a book, when they were in 
•conversation, and it might have been spoken or written, — ail these tricks, if they were not 
actually played, yet Miss Reed has sliown her fondness for them by the fabrication. She 
says, she has received letters from Mrs. Mary Francis, since her departure ironi the Con- 
vent. I know she has written to her, and she admits the receipt of letters from her. I 
•call upon her for their production, and desire exceedingly to have that correspondence 
brought before the public. Mrs. Mary Francis or Miss Kennedy, is a Catholic, and her tes- 
timony would be very strong against us. If Miss Reed and she were so intimate, and if 
the events occurred, as stated by Miss R. there will be no difficulty in having it confirmed 
by letters written at the time, aitd before Catholic influence can be pretended to have 
originated their production. I have been told by those who have seen the letters, that 
the first is aa answer to Miss Reed's retjuest to be admitted to the SisterJiood of which Mrs^ 
Mary Francis was a member. Miss Uecd deceived Mrs. Mary Francis, by telling her that 
she had not left the Convent, but thought of it, (in fact she liad actually left it,) and wish- 
ed to have her advice upon the proposed cltatige. The answer has been seen by several 
persons. The Ursuline Community want no bettir proof of the falsehood of Miss Reed, 
than this letter. She admits, that she has received three letters from Mrs. Mary Francis: 
•the public, I doubt not, will agree with me as to the importance of producing them. 

2 Miss Reed has asserted to her friends, that Mrs. Mary Francis " was secretly confined 


Mrs. Mary Magdalene sewed when she felt an inclination 
to do so, as it was an amusement for her to be occasionally- 
employed in something of the kind ; but that she was compel- 
led to labor in any way is totally false. 

We did not know, till some months since, that Miss Reed 
ever had any pretensions to the name of Mary Agnes. She 
was known, at Mount Benedict, by the appellation of Miss 
Reed. She never wrote a letter to her father or to any of her 
friends, while with us, ' as near as I can recollect. 

Pages 102, 103 & 104, are not true. I should be pleas- 
ed to be informed by Miss Reed, where the " Meditation 
Garden " was situated, for we knew of no such place. The 
stories respecting Mary Magdalene, on page 104, are too inhu- 
man, it would be supposed, to be believed by any one ; they 
are absolutely false. ' 

Page 105 is entirely false ; and the note in which she says 
Mary Magdalene entered the Convent nine months before in 
perfect health, asserts a fact of which Miss Reed could know 
nothing. Before Mrs. Mary Magdalene left Ireland, she 
was pronounced to be consumptive ; and though she died 
more than one year., not nine months, after she entered the 
Convent, it was not in consequence of being " worn out with 
austerities." This has already been publicly stated by Dr. 

or made way with," and one person to whom she told the story, happened to know ot" 
these letters she now admits liaving received, and asked her, how it could be ? Her ready 
reply waa, that the letters were forged ! .' 

1 She could not write as legibly as con>mon children often years of age, and her publish- 
ers will hardly certify more favorably of her present chirography. 

2 " Two or three days after this," says Miss R. " t met Miss Mary Francis at my les- 
sons in the Community, and again asked her to tell me her distress, or I would tell the 
Superior, I could not learn of her." Why write it on a slate ? as she states they were con- 
versing together. Because Miss Reed could never do or say any thing in a simple and 
straightforward way. She threatens Mrs. Mary F. if she will not tell her w hat the mat- 
ter is, she will tell a lie to the Superior, about her inability to learn of her. She finally 
fells Mrs. Mary F. that if she will tell her the cause of her troubles, she will not inform 
the Superior, and upon this promise obtains her confidence. On p. 140, we tind that she 
betrays her to the Bishop. 


Pages 106, 107, and 108, depict Miss Reed's talent in the 
art of dissimulation ; and it is quite natural that a person of 
her description should wish to implicate others with herself. 

We did not know, while Miss Reed was with us, that she 
experienced any soreness on her lungs/ 

(Page 109.) The falsity and absurdity of this page,, can 
easily be detected by any one who will take tiie trouble to 
read it. 

(Page 110.) Should a candidate, after a trial of three 
months, prefer not remaining in our order, she is returned to 
her parents or friends, and not placed in another Convent. 

(Page 111.) Mrs. Mary Angela left the Institution in the 
most honorable manner, after residing with us four years. ^ 

(Page 118.) Miss Reed never expressed any wish to see 
her friends ; but, on the contrary, when the subject was pro- 
posed to her, she always rejected it immediately. She call- 
ed her relations wicked, and said that her brother P. and Mr. 
E. declared the Convent should come down ; but that it had 
been her mother's dying request, that she should endeavor to 
be received there. 

(Pages 120 and 121.) The details of these pages might 
be imagined and executed by the narrator, but by few others. 

" I began," she says, "to be much dissatisfied with the 
Convent. My views of retirement, however, were the same 
as ever, and I thought I would go to the Sisters of Charity, 
where Miss Mary Francis was educated, as she had promised 
to introduce me there. She told me that I should be call- 
ed to the public apartments (as an assistant in ornamental 

1 The following amusing sentence occurs on pp. 108, 109. "She," the Superior, "ob- 
served that I lookcii melancholy, and commanded me to tell her the reason. I replied that 
I did not feel well, that my lungs were sore since taking the emetic, ^'c. . She said that 
was only a notion, and bade me tell the true reason, without any equivocation. My words 
were I did nnl like iier so well us formerly. She exclaimed, ' O, my child, I admire you 
for your simplicity,' and asked nic the reason for not loving her, which I declined giving." 
Admirable girl, delii;htful simplicity ! ! Here the simplicity consists in a practical illustra. 
\ion of the lie direct and lie circumstantial. 

9 See her letters in the Appendix. 


work.)" This sentence shows how definite her views of re- 
tirement were. She wanted to go to the Sisters of Charity, 
to work in the public apartment, open to every person who 
chose to call. This, I candidly believe, is the only kind of 
retirement Miss Reed ever desired. 

On page 121, she relates a plot laid by her, to deceive 
me, by which Mrs. Mary Francis was to get released from 
the Convent, as follows : " Miss Mary F. was to complain 
to the Superior that I would not give proper attention when 
at my lessons, and I was to tell her that I could not receive 
any benefit from Miss Mary F. on account of her grief and 
absence of mind. This we fulfilled to the letter. We also 
agreed on a signal, by which I should know, whether she was 
going with or without permission. If she went without per- 
mission, she was to tie a string round an old book, as if to 
keep the leaves together, and lay it on the writing desk ; if 
with permission, she was to make the sign of the cross three 
times upon her hps." They then prayed to God to forgive 
them this deceit. After the prayer. Miss Mary F. " select- 
ed from a book the letters forming her real name, that I might 
write to her in case I could not get ap opportunity to give a 
letter to Miss I." 

This string of absurdities is remarkable. Miss Reed never 
saw Mrs Mary F. again,— the plot, she would have it thought, 
succeeded. But what the plot has to do with Mrs. Mary F's 
leaving the Convent, is beyond conjecture. Then as to the 
signal — one would suppose she could speak as well as to 
make the sign of the cross. If these do not show artifice and 
deceit, without motive, nothing can. Then again, why 
should Mrs. Mary F. take so much trouble to make known 
her name ; it would have been much more expeditious, as 
well as convenient, to write it, or tell it ;'but it would not have 
answered the views of the narrator, to take so simple and 
plain a method, to accomplish her object. 

(Page 123.) Miss Reed here comes to taking the vows. 
She never took any vows. No one, that is not lost to every 


principle of religion and truth, will dare affirm it. Thankful 
to Heaven, I am, that no vows of this lying girl, were ever 
uttered, to my knowledge, while she resided with us. Had 
she taken it, would not the scholars have known it } She is 
even ignorant now as to what the vows are. She talks of 
white and black vows, — there are no such vows known. They 
are names of her own adoption. 

(Page 125.) Mrs. Mary Magdalene had not a lock of her 
mother's hair, nor was she directed to burn all her treasures.'" 

The story of her falling prostrate, &c., is of course /rt/se, 
as well as the one page 126, about preparing her a place in 
the tomb ; except for the inhumanity of the act, they would 
have been too ridiculous for denial. 

(Page 126.) She made no objection, as she states, to pur- 
sue her music. She came, as she was advised by Rev. Mr. 
Croswell, to be instructed, in order to become a teacher on 
her own account, but tried very hard to be allowed to join our 

(Page 127.) I insert this pggc for the advantage of those 
who, by any chance, may not have read Miss Reed's book ; 
to comment upon it, is useless. If this story be true, we not 
only imposed upon others, but allowed ourselves to be im- 
posed upon. 

" On one of the holy days the Bishop came in, and, after 
playing on hisjlutc, addressed the Superior, styling her J\Ia- 
demoiselle, and wished to know if Mary Magdalene wished to 
go to her long home. The Superior beckoned her to come 
to them, and she approached on her knees. The Bishop 
asked her if she felt prepared to die. She replied, ' Yes, my 
Lord ; but, with the permission of our mother, I have one 
request to make.' She said she wished to be anointed before 
death, if his Lordship thought her worthy of so great a favor. 
He said, ' Before I grant your request, I have one to make. 

I Her treasures, she says, " consisted of written prayers, books, papers, a lock of her 
nictlier's hair," &c. On page 113, she says, " A few days after the death of Mary Magda- 
lene, her desk was brought forward, that the Superior might examine it, and distribute its 
'/mienis to those shp thought most worthy," and that she did distribute them accordingly. 


and that is, that you will implore the Almighty to send down 
from Heaven a bushel of gold, for the purpose of estabhshing 
a college for young men on Bunker's Hill." She then goes 
on to state, that the Bishop told the members to think of what 
they liked best, and upon being asked to name what she de- 
sired most. Miss R. replied, " I then said. Hacked humihty, 
and should wish for that virtue." Artless, unaffected creature ! 
How well this request comes from the plotting eavesdropper, 
that she represents herself to be. I am sorry to say, how- 
ever much she needs humility, she never made the request 
for an increase of it. The whole story is the fertile but natu- 
ral offspring of her brain. 

(Page 130.) Mrs. Mary Magdalene took the vows before 
she died, at her own repeated and earnest sohcitation, as she 
thought it would be a great consolation to her, and contribute 
much to her happiness and peace of mind. 

Many young ladies have been present, when the vows were 
taken by the inmates of the Community, and they can certify 
that no coffin was ever used on those occasions.' 

(Page 133.) Miss Reed says, " She," (the Superior) 
" frequently called me her holy innocent, because she said I 
kept the rules of the order, and was persevering in my voca- 
tion as a Recluse.'^ It is utterly untrue, that I ever used 
such an expression towards her. I had, ere this, discovered 
her to be a foolish romantic girl, and felt no interest in her ; 
but Miss R. is fond of appropriating praise to herself, and 1 
should not have remarked upon the sentence, if she had not 
placed a reason in my mouth for calling her my holy innocent, 
as false as the expression itself. She admits, in various pas- 
sages of her book, that she failed in observing the rules, and 
one occurs on the very page preceding ; and as to her perse- 
verance in her vocation as a Recluse, she was not one. 

On the same page, she says she asked for a bible once or 
twice, but that she never saw one while there. This is a 
falsehood, made to suit the vulgar notion, that Catholics are 

I The ceremony of taking the vows have always been one of the few ceremonies, that 
were public ; and parPntB have frequently attended, with their children, this ceremony. 


not allowed to read the bible. Every scholar in our school 
was required to bring a bible ; the number belonging to our 
Community was considerable, and they were all within her 
reach. It was unnecessary even to ask for one. 

(Page 135.) I was at the bedside of Mrs. Mary Magda- 
lene, during her last moments, had hold of her hand and 
closed her eyes. I told her, if she was sensible, to press my 
hand, as she could not speak, and she did so. No lighted 
wax taper was placed in her hand. 

(Page 135.) From this page, to page 139, Miss Reed oc- 
cupies herself with the death and burial of our much deplored 
sister Mary Magdalene. I am charged with inhumanity to- 
wards her while living, and with indifference to her memory. 
If cruel to her while living, it must have been from a love of 
beholding bodily pain and suffering in others, for it certainly 
could not have operated favorably on the minds of her natural 
sisters and the Community generally, thus to expose my un- 
feeling disposition ; the more especially before Miss Reed, if 
she flatters herself that I had a wish to retain her, or to induce 
her to become a member of the Community. Her whole de- 
scription of the death and funeral is, of course, written from 
memory, after a considerable lapse of time, and I should not be 
surprised to find trifling errors, even if she had written with the 
best intentions ; but the whole narration is so inaccurate, that I 
cannot but believe she had no intention or wish, even in this 
case, to be accurate. She says, for instance, on page 138, 
" after depositing the coffin in the tomb, the clergy retired to 
dinner." The truth is, that the coffin was deposited in the 
tomb at eight o'clock in the morning. 

(Page 139.) Consists of insinuations against the Bishop, 
charging him with asking her "improper questions," the 
meaning of which, she " did not then understand." Of this, 
I can, of course, know nothing, and they must pass for true 
or false, as her character for truth and the probability of her 
stories may stand against his denial. 

(Pages 140, 141.) She here confesses to the Bishop, 
that she did not like me, and expressed her determination to 


leave the order. In consequence of which, he gave her a pen- 
ance to perform, which she performs because she is desirous 
of being thought obedient. Her " motive was prudence, not 
want of courage ? " Neither of these virtues was requisite ; 
a Httle honesty, on her part, would have saved us the pain of 
dismissing her — and her, the disgrace which she attempted 
to avoid by running away. 

(Page 142.) Had such a remark been made by any one 
in the Community, tliat " she hoped there was not another 
Judas among them," it would have been very appropriate ; 
and it is quite natural, that Miss Reed should have found it 
difficult " to betray no emotion : " but we had so little idea of 
the double part which she was acting, that, the evening on 
which she eloped, we felt rejoiced, that she had spared us the 
painful necessity of forcing her to leave at the expiration of 
the six months. When we found there was no doubt that she 
had left the Convent, I said to my sisters — " She is disap- 
pointed at not being allowed to take the veil ; but how grate- 
ful she will always be to you for every little mark of kindness 
that you have so often manifested toward her ! " 

The "balls, of a darkish color," I imagine must have con- 
sisted of minced meat, fried in butter, the taste of which must 
have assumed a strange alteration when placed upon her plate.' 

(Page 143.) " Some days after this," says Miss Reed, 
" the Superior sent for me to practice music, and then made 
a signal for me to follow her to the Bishop's room. This 
room is separated from the others by shutters, with curtains 
drawing on the chapel side. When I had kissed her feet, she 
desired to know why I had cried at .practice in the choir. I 
rather imprudently answered, I could not tell — I did not cry 

1 Tlie following is the sentence of Miss Reed, alluded to, and is a fair specimen of lier 
peculiar method of writing and thinking. " The next time we met at recreation, one of 
them remarked she hoped there was not another Judas among tliem. I endeavored to he- 
tray no emotion, but they still mistrusted I had other views ; fur, while sitting at my diet, in 
the rrfrctorij, I observed my food was of a kind that I had never seen before ;" that is, — I know 
that they mistrusted me, and thouglit I liad otlier views — lierause, while silting at my 
diet, in the refectory", I obsrrved my food was of a kind that I had never seen before. Thi9 
is what the Committee of Publication term "a plain, simple, and unaffected style." 


much. (It then struck me she could not have seen me, as I 
was alone.) I said I ivas very cold, particularly my feet ; and 
f had been practising ^Blue-eyed j\Iary,' and was affected 
by the ivords.'' Having read this, I need hardly ask the 
reader to disbelieve the rest of her statement, in which 
she finally admits the falsity of the above reasons. She says, 
" I imprudently answered I could not tell,'' &c. ; that is, she 
spoke a falsehood so hastily as to be imprudent, for, if she 
had only thought that I could not see her, she might have an- 
swered, ' I did not cry.' Having imprudently confessed it, 
however, she readilv accounted for her tears bv two more 
lies — downright, admitted lies. 

(Page 146.) When her sister, with ]\Iiss F. ciUled to see 
her, one Sabbath afternoon, I told her she could do as she 
pleased, and that she was perfectly free to see them that after- 
noon, though it was Sunday, but she refused. I told her that 
they sent word to know if she could attend her sister M's 
wedding. She said, that was only a pretext which they had 
taken in order to deceive me, as her sister had been married 
the preceding month. She behaved at the Convent towards 
her friends, precisely as I have since learned she behaved to- 
wards them, while living with her friend Mrs. (j. 

(Page 149.) She says she determined to leave the Con- 
vent and then proceeds, " I had reason to think that my let- 
ters were never sent to my friends and determined to convey 
one privately. 1 stole a few moments and hastily wrote some 
hues with my pencil, and hid them behind the altar, but the 
billet was discovered, and I never heard from it." I imagine 
that even Miss R's imagination, though fertile enough to 
place the billet behind the altar, can give no reason why it was 
placed there. Did she expect that it would be taken by some 
spirit of the air, or inhabitant of the earth, to its place of des- 
tination, by placing it behind the altar ? 

(Page 150.) Staling it was her turn to be "lecturess," 

that is to read aloud, which she never did, she says, " a book 

was placed before me in the Refectory, called '•' Rules of St. 

Augustine" and the place marked to read was concerning a 



Religeuse receiving letters clandestinely. I could not con- 
trol my feelings, for what I read was very afftcting.'' The 
rules of Saint Augustine are annexed to this answer, and it is 
sufficient to refer the reader to them ; the affecting passage 
referred to by Miss Reed will not, I fear, be found to repay 
the search. 

(Page 152.) We had no porters and dogs to watch the 
gate of the Convent, which was always left unguarded, as 
every one who came to Mt. Benedict, must have observed. 

(Page 153.) " A letter was read to the Community that 
was addressed to the Superior, from Bishop P. of Emmets- 
burg. There was no Bishop P. of Erametsburg, and the 
whole story in relation to my giving it to her to read is of 
course, fabulous. 

(Pages 155 and 156,) are remarkable only for the ac- 
knowledgements of the petty tricks, which seem so familiar to 
her. First, " pretending not to hear," when called to the 
examination, and second, answering questions "^with " seem- 
ing ignorance." This is the " singleness of heart" attributed 
to her by the Committee of publication. 

Pages 157 and 158, Sive false. The stories are rather too 
marvellous for any practical inferences, though to be drawn 
by Miss Reed. 

Page 160. No pupils were ever punished " for refusing 
to say prayers to the Saints, and to read Roman Catholic 
history" — 300 children can testify upon this subject against 
the statement of Miss Reed. Upon the treatment of the 
scholars, 1 beg leave to refer to the parents of the children, 
who have been placed under our charge. 

(Page 161.) As a specimen of Miss Reed's " artless and 
unaffected piety," we extract the following : " After this, the 
Superior was sick of the influenza, and I did not see her for 
two or three days. I attended to my offices as usual, such as 
preparing the wine and the water, the chalice, host, holy wa- 
ter and vestments, &c. One day, however, I had forgotten 
to attend to this duty at the appointed hour, but recollecting 
it, and fearing lest I should offend the Superior, by reason of 


negligence, I asked permission to leave the room, telling a 
novice that our mother had given vie have to attend to it. She 
answered, O yes, Sister, you can go then." Now this lie 
was told, admitted by Miss Reed in her book to be a lie, and 
yet she claims to be believed. She hesitated not an instant, 
and it comes from her as readily as the truth would from the 
lips of ingenuousness. Docs the Rev. Mr. Croswcll, who 
has read her book very carefully, believe her to be a girl of 
truth and veracity.' 

(Page 1G2.) Miss Reed appeared to be much affected at 
the idea of leaving us, and asked if I could not get her into 
some other Convent. I told her not to let her mind be thus 
tormented, and that I would see if any thing could be done to 
effect her wishes ; but observed that she still had more than 
two months to continue with us. This, I thought, was a 
great consolation to her, as she expressed very great reluc- 
tance to leave the Convent. I told the Rt. Rev. Bishop of 
the desire which she had, and asked him if he could not per- 
suade some community to take her.' This is the conversa- 
tion which she overheard, and from which she has drawn the 
singular conclusion, that we intended to entice her into a car- 
riage, to get her to Canada in three days., and to confine her 
in a Convent, lest she shoidd report something injurious to our 

Of the account of Miss Reed respecting the conversation 
between me and the Bishop, I can only say that I am deceiv- 
ed as to the degree of intelligence her readers possess, if it be 
believed. In the first place, supposing us to be so ignorant and 
stupid as to imagine that we could carry Miss Reed to Canada 
against her will, without discovery of it to the world, it cannot 
be believed for a moment, that wo could rid tlic community 
of her and confine her in Canada, without exposing ourselves 
to certain conviction and punishment by the means of her 
friends, who knew she was with us, and who could have at 

1 Her letters to Miss JCcniicdy will show lliat such was JitT pretended desire, even MXet 
she left the Convent. 


any time compelled us to produce ner. Tn order, however, 
to give probability to this tale, she relates a story still more 
improbable, and in a manner, which proves its improbability 
in the highest degree. 

The following is the account of a course of proceeding by 
which Miss R. was to be forced into a carriage and carried to 
Canada : "A few days after, while at my needle in the re- 
fectory, I heard a carriage drive to the door of the Convent, 
and heard a person step into the Superior's room. Immedi- 
ately the Superior passed lightly along the passage which led 
to the back entry, where the men servants or porters were 
employed, and reprimanded them in a loud tone for something 
they were doing." (She heard the light step along the pas- 
sage, and yet she does not undertake to say what the men 
were doing, or what the reprimand was about, although the 
most trifling fact seems important enough to put in the 
story.) " She then opened the door of the refectory, and 
seemed indifferent^ about entering ; but at length seated her- 
self beside me, and began conversation, by saying, ' Well, 
my dear girl, what do you think of going to see your 
friends?' I said, (with all due caution,) ' what friends, 
Mamere?' said she, 'You would like to see your friends 
Mrs. G. and Father B., (Mrs. Graham and Father Byrne, 
probably,) and talk with them respecting your call to another 
order. Before I had time to answer, she commanded me to 
take ofFiui/ garb,'' (she wore a common female dress, all the 
time, she was in the Convent, and a modest cap on her head,) 
" telling mc she was in hastc,'and that a carriage was Availing to 
convey me to my friends." (Thus from entering with seem- 
ing indiff'erence, I proceeded with indecent haste to urge her 
to a carriage, which was already waiting for her, to carry her 
away. Think of the probabilities, reader. I am ready to 
trust my reputation on the evident improbability of the story 
thus far, which, if true, shows me to be a fool as well as a 
knave.) " I answered, with as cheerful a countenance as I 
could assume, ' O, Mamere, I am sorry to give you so much 

1 " Seemed indifferent," one of her acknowledged flivorite mndej of deceit. 


trouble ; T liad rather see tlieni here first,' While convers- 
ing, I heard a little bell ring several times. The Superior 
said, 'Well, my dear, make u\) your mind ; the bell calls me 
to the parlor.' " (Thus rapidly docs my haste cool down, 
leaving her alone to reflect on the subject.) " She soon re- 
turned, and asked if I had made up my mind to go, I an- 
swered, 'No, Mamere.' She then said, I had failed in obedi- 
ence to her," [obedience, is one of the few rules she adverts 
to and remembers, probably, from the reason of her numerous 
admitted infractions of it,) " and as I had so often talked of 
going to another order with such a person as iNIary Francis, 1 
had better go immediately ; and again she said, raising her 
voice," (why raising her voice?) " You have failed in respect 
to your Superior. You must recollect I am a lady of quality^ 
brought up in opulence, and accustomed to all the luxuries of 
life." (What my opulence or luxury had to do with her 
obedience, Miss Reed only knows.) " 1 told her I was very 
sorry to have listened to any thing wrong against her dignity." 
(She does not say that she had, or was charged with having 
listened to any thing wrong against my dignity.) " She com- 
manded me to kneel, which I did ; and if tears were ever a 
relief to me, they were then. She stamped on the floor vio- 
lently, and asked, if I was innocent, why I did not go to 
communion. J told her tlial I felt unworthy to go to com- 
munion at that time." (In a note, she gives as a reason why 
she was unworthy of communion, that her eyes were opened, 
that she had been in error, and found herself too enthusiastic 
in her first views of a Convent life, and that she "was using 
some deception towards the Superior and the Religeuse, in 
order to effect an escape." Yet, strange to say, she no where 
says that she asked permission to quit the Convent, but left 
it, as she has other places, clandestinely. But to proceed.) 
" The bell again rung, and she left the room, and in a few^ 
moments returning, desired me to tell her immediately, what 
1 thought of doing, for, as she had promised to protect me 
forever, she must know my mind." (Wliy 1 must know her 
mind for that reason, even supposing it to be true, I cannot 


conceive.) " She then mentioned the carriage was still m 
waiting." (It would have helped readers, if she had informed 
them, how long space of time this drama was acting.) " I 
still declined going, for I was convinced their object was not 
to carry me to Mrs. G. and Priest B. to consult about anoth- 
er order, but directly to Canada. I told her I had concluded 
to ask my confessor's advice, and meditate on it some longer. 
She rather emphatically said, ' You can meditate on it if you 
please, and do as you like about going to see your friends.' " 
(Why there should be any cause for emphasis, none but the 
artless Miss R. I fear, can tell. As to the reply that she had 
concluded to ask her confessor's advice, this must be admit- 
ted by her Committee, and by her pastor, to be a ready or 
premeditated lie, as her eyes Vvcre then opened to the sins of 
our order, and to the faithlessness of her confessor, p. 162. 
What lies are excusable in- tlieir sight, the book does not in- 
form us, nor how far they go to show artlessness of character, 
in her that tells them.) " She said that my sister had been 
there, and did not wish to see me. Our conversation was 
here interrupted by the entrance of a novice. The Superior 
then gave me my choice, either to remain on Mt. Benedict, or 
go to some other order," (that is all she wanted, one would 
suppose, from her having written to Mrs. Mary Francis, after 
leaving the Convent, for this purpose,) " and by next week to 
make up my mind, as it remained xcith me to decide." 
(Knowing that she was not to remain much longer, and 
dreading the ridicule that would be attached to her for being 
sent from the Convent, she carefully puts forward on every oc- 
casion, that she was to go or stay, as she pleased, and that the 
latter alternative was our most ardent wish.) " She then 
gave me a heavy penance to perform," (probably to induce 
her to stay,j " which was, instead of going to the choir, as 
usual, at the ringing of the bell, to go to the mangle room and 
repeat ,/lva Marias while turning the mangle. While per- 
forming my penance, Sister Martha left the room, and soon 
returning, said she had orders to release me from my pen- 
ance, and to direct me to finish mv meditations on the pir 


ture of a saint, which she gave me. But instead of saying 
the prayers that I was bidden, I fervently prayed to be dehv- 
ered from their wicked hands.'' (She was bidden to finish 
her meditations on the picture of a saint, but instead of saying 
the prayers she was bidden, she fervently prayed to be deliv- 
ered, &c. The connectedness of her thoughts here as else- 
where, shows the reliance to be placed upon her memory.) 

I have gone through these pages with greater care, than the 
same labor would repay upon most of the book, because It 
charges a most wicked crime upon me, that of conspiring to 
send her forcibly away and of restraining her liberty by vio- 
lence. If I conspired to do it, why did I not carry it into ef- 
fect .-" It would seem I had every thing prepared, and nothing 
was wanting but to get her to the carriage. If I had the wick- 
edness and iiardihood to proceed thus far, I might, one would 
have supposed, have proceeded this one step further. Instead 
of doing so however, I gave her the choice, as she says, to re- 
main or go to any other Convent, as she pleased. The con- 
clusion of this most important affair would form a proper 
moral to any tale, where great means are employed to accom- 
plish no end. The conclusion of her important affair results 
in her having every thing as she wished. 

(Page 170.) " They appeared much pleased with my 
supposed reformation, and I think they believed me sinceie." 
How well the artless creature nmst have performed the hypo- 
crite to have deceived us all, under such " trying circumstan- 
ces !" 

(Page 172.) I will not notice her precious recollections 
recorded on the next pages, but proceed at once to that event- 
ful period, when Miss Reed made her escape. " Some days 
after the conversation which I heard between the Bishop and 
Superior, while behind the altar, I was in the refectory at my 
work," (" Some days after," — is not a very accurate mode 
of fixing a date to so memorable an event. At p. 165 she says, 
they were very desirous that week to know if my feelings 
were changed." At p. 166, she says, " for some days I was 
not well" and on the same page, she relates the story of the 


carriage, as occuring " a few days after," that event ; some 
time must have elapsed, between that time, and when on p. 
170, she says " they appeared pleased with my reformation ;" 
it was after this that " the Bishop visited the Convent on the 
next holy day," all these days occurred after the supposed con- 
versation between the Bishop and the Superior, and before 
her departure. I mention this to show her want of accuracy, 
so important in works of fact, and not of fiction) " and heard 
tlie noise of the porters who were employed sawing wood, 
and I conjectured the gate might be open for them. (Every 
body knows, that has ever visited the Convent, that the gates 
were always unlocked, and most usually wide open.) " 1 
thought it a good opportunity to escape, which I contemplated 
in this manner, viz : to ask permission to leave the room, and 
as I passed the entry, to secrete about my habit a hood which 
hung there, that would help to conceal n part of my garb from 
particular observation ; then to feign an errand to the infirma- 
rian from the Superior, as I imagined I could escape from the 
door of the infirmary." (Artless creature ! to steal a hood, 
to conceal her garb, — that is, to cover her head, — to feign 
an errand to the infirmarian, and then to run away ! afl^ccl- 
ing artlessness of character ! ! ! !) " This plan formed, and 
just as I was going, I heard a band of music, playing as it 
seemed, in front of the Convent." (This does not seem 
probable, as it was in mid-winter, and our residence was re- 
moved from the street, but it might have been so, though 
I recollect no such occurrence.) " I heard the young 
ladies assembling in the -parlor, and the porters left their 
work, as I supposed, for the noise of the saws ceased. I 
felt quite revived, and was more confident I should be able 
to escape without detection, even if it siiould be necessary to 
get over the fence. 1 feigned an errand, and asked permis- 
sion of Miss Mary Austin to leave the room, which she grant- 
ed. I succeeded in secreting" (stealing is it not ?) " the hood 
and the book in which Miss Mary Francis had left her ad- 
dress, and then knockcil at the door three times which led to 
the lay apartment^. A person came to the door, who ap- 


peared in great distress." (Here follows a note about a do- 
mestic, who appeared very unhappy, I shall advert to this 
subject presently.) * 

" I asked her where sister Bennett and sister Bernard 
were ; she left me to find them. I gave the infirmarian to 
understand that the Superior wished to see her, and I desired 
her to go immediately to her room." Here, reader, let us 
pause a moment. If I had charged any one with telling so 
many falsehoods in a breath, it would have appeared incredible; 
and yet she states them with apparent triumph. Shame it is 
upon my sex, that such an one can be found to disgrace it. 
But to proceed. " These gone, I unlocked and passed out 
of the back door, and as the gate appeared shut, I climbed 
upon the slats which confined the grape-vines to the fence ; 
but these gave way, and, falling to the ground, I sprained my 
wrist. I then thought I would try the gate, which I found un- 
fastened, and as there was no one near it," (neither dogs or 
men) " I ran through and hurried to the next house. In get- 
ting over the fences, between the Convent and this house, I 
fell and hurt myself badly." Miss Reed affords by this ac- 
count another proof that her imagination is her worst enemy. 
Nothing turns out so badly as she imagines. She imagines a 
carriage to come for her to carry her into Canada, yet she 
was not carried there : she imagined our gates to be locked, 
yet they were not : she imagined the premises to be guarded 
by dogs and men, and yet she saw none : she runs away, 
merely because she chose to run — walking would have an- 
swered the purpose equally as well. A striking instance is 
here afforded of her disposition to avoid a straight forward 
course if possible. She goes into the garden — the gate lead- 
ing out of it appeared shut ; she did not examine to see, but 
takes the unnecessary labor of climbing the grapery, in order 
to make her escape marvellous ; but finding she could not get 
over the fence, she was compelled to go out in the unroman- 

1 This case is particularly mentioned in the prefatory remarks, and will be publicly au- 
thenticated in a collection of testimony now in preparation. 


tic way she mentioned — by the gate. She found, after leav- 
ing our premises, other fences to clamber over, (rail fences, 
we presume) and contrived to make up the perils of her 
wanderings there. Our Community and the children of the 
school, on the night of the destruction of our property, passed 
over the same ground without sprains or bruises. 

At page 173, Miss Reed speaks of a person who came to 
the door, appearing to be in great distress, and in the note 
she says — " This was Sarah S., a domestic, who appeared 
very unhappy while I was in the Convent. T often saw her 
in tears, and learned from the Superior that she was sighing 
for the veil. When I saw my brother, I informed him of 
this circumstance, and he soon found who she was, and as- 
certained that some ladies in Cambridge had been to see the 
Superior, who used to them pretty much the same language 
she did to my sister. I have since seen her. She is still 
under the influence of the Roman Church," (that is to say, 
she will flatly contradict Miss Reed) "but assures me that 
she did not refuse to see the ladies, as the Superior had 
represented to them, and she wept because of ill health, &c." 

As this story, as well as many others told so flippantly — 
artlessly, the Committee would say — will be disproved in a 
more extended form, and placed in an unequivocal light before 
the public in a short time, I will merely state that the domes- 
tic above alluded to, formerly lived with highly respectable 
Protestant ladies, in Cambridge, and came from them to live 
with us in the capacity of domestic, and left us, as other do- 
mestics always have, honorably. Soon after Miss Reed left 
the Convent, she called upon one of these ladies, and in- 
formed her that she came to tell her that Sarah S. was at 
the Convent, and was treated very ill, and could not get away. 
The lady, from causes already mentioned,' did not put 
much credit in the statements of Miss Reed. Some time 
after, Sarah S. called upon the lady, who told her what Miss 
Reed had said. She replied that it was wholly untrue — that 

- ■- — . I . . _ -- - -^^- 

1 See PrcUininarit Remarlis. 


she liked the place very well, but that she got tired of its 
sameness and seclusion, and concluded to come away ; and 
having given notice to the Superior of the fact, she settled 
with her and left. 

1 have now done with Miss Reed for the present ; but 
this hasty denial of her falsehoods will not conclude the ex- 
posure of her character and conduct. 1 shall proceed in the 
investigation of the subject, and the results shall, from time to 
time, be made known to the public. For one as young as 
she is, she has accomplished much, and the witnesses of her 
doings are not (ew. Nor will it be Catholic testimony or in- 
fluence alone that is to place her and her advisers in their true 
light. The cause of truth will raise me advocates and testimo- 
nials, and those who would have shrunk from coming forward 
a few days ago, to tell what they know of Miss Reed, will now 
be impelled to do so, from the highest and purest motives. 

1 am aware that Miss Reed has a host of friends and be- 
lievers, who will rally around her, and endeavor to support 
her. Having been deceived thus far, they will feel ashamed 
to be convinced of their folly and blindness. But there are 
many, who have read her book with honest intentions, without 
carefully examining its statements, and who honestly believe it 
to be true, whose minds are nevertheless open to a conviction 
of its falsity. To such our remarks are directed, and to them 
we confidently submit this answer. 


We, the undersigned, do hereby declare our assent to and 
belief in the statements of the Lady Superior, as above made, 
so far as our personal knowledge extends to the facts stated. 



Thf, following testimony is ofleied to the perusal of the can- 
did reader, with the belief that, as it conies from Protest- 
ants, it may be believed. 

Jhe letters that follow are printed from Mr. Fay's Argument before the 
Legislative Committee and icere never seen by the members of the Ursuline 
Community, until they appeared in print. 

In compliance with a request from the Committee of Investigation of ciJi- 
zens of Boston, and as a tribute to truth and justice, I certify, that for two 
years and a half prior to the destruction of the Convent in Charlestown, in Au- 
gust last, I had under my charge a young lady from the South, who was pro- 
secuting her education at that seminary. From all that I observed in frequent 
visits, and learnt in conversation with my ward, I fully believe, that the highly 
respectable Superior and Sisters of the Ursuline Community excelled in atten- 
tion to the health and manners of the pupils, were uniformly kind and unceas- 
ingly devoted to their moral and intellectual improvement, and inculcated upon 
their nmids, both by precept and example, the virtues which are peculiar orna- 
ments of the female character. 

No reserve or secresy were ever enjoined or expected from the pupils ; nor 
had I ever the least suspicion, that the Ladies of the Community had any thing 
which they could wish to conceal. 

Among the pupils were children of both Protestant and Catholic parents. 
But I never had the least reason to suspect, that any efibrt was ever made to 
seduce the Protestant children from their faith. On the contrary, I have un- 
derstood and fully believe, that the Superior and Sisters inculcated upon that 
portion of the scholars those principles only which are held in common by all 
christians, and that they particularly discouraged the Catholic children from 
conversing on their peculiar religious tenets with their Protestant schoolmates. 

What recommended the Seminary to me, in addition to the character of the 
instructers were, its retirement so favorable to study, the spacious acconnnoda- 
tions of the interior and grounds, which permitted the young ladies to prose- 
cute the onamental as well as the elementary and essential parts of education, 
and the vigilant eye which was constantly kept over the children, both in 
school, and during the hours of relaxation from study. 

The intolerant and lawless spirit which marked the destruction of that build- 
ing, the ferocious attack at midnight upon its occupants, resting for protection 
only on Heaven and their innocence, and the vile slanders which have since 
been circulated respecting this religious family, are equally unworthy of our 
age and country, and hostile to the spirit of our civil and religious institutions. 
One class of christians is, with us, as much entitled to the protection of the lav*- 
as any other, and happily, no one may claim the pre-eminence. There ib need 


too, I consider, of the united efforts of the sincere and virtuous of all denomina- 
tions, to promote the conniion cause of religion, good manners, <ind the reign 
of the law. 

Boston, September 1, 1834. 

Numerous reports having been circulated in the community respecting the 
Convent atCharlestown, calculated to create prejudices against that institution, 
and injurious to the characters of the ladies who composed it ; the subscribers, 
parents and guardians of children who have heretofore been placed there for 
instruction, impelled by a sense of justice to those ladies, as well as gratitude 
to tiiem for their unwearied labors and cares for the education and happiness of 
the pupils under their charge, do hereby solenmly declare our entire disbelief 
of any and all the stories aflecting the humane, religious and moral character 
of the Nuns belonging to the Ursuline Convent — which stories industriously 
circulated and eagerly believed by certain portions of the people, were used 
beforehand to effect the destruction of that establishment, by a lawless and 
brutal mob, and since, to justify or palliate the shameful act ; — many of these 
calunuiies we believe to be merely the suggestions of base or prejudiced minds, 
without the shadow of foundation in fact ; — some have originated in ignorance, 
religious bigotry or fanaticism, and others in the fabrications of a certain fe- 
male, who had received only benefits at the hands of the Ursulines. 

If she be not insane, which is the most charitable supposition, her ingratitude 
and lies exhibit a depravity of heart, which has rarely been paralleled. Our 
interest and our duty has required of us to ascertain the truth of these reports. 
It was important to us not to deceive ourselves, or to be deceived by others in 
a matter where the character and happiness of our children were concerned, 
and we have perfectly satisfied ourselves, that the Ursuline Community at 
Charlestown, was what it professed to be, a religious and virtuous community, 
who had abandoned the vanities of the world, and devoted themselves to the 
service of God and their" fellow creatures and that their lives were pure and 
holy. We have visited the Convent frequently, — and have seen the inmates 
with all necessary freedom — we had heard the accounts of what passed there 
from the children, and nothing has transpired but what has served to create feel- 
ings of esteem, respect and kindness towards the institution and its members. 
No pro.selyte was ever made of a Protestant pupil as far as we know, and we 
have never heard of any attempt to influence the peculiar religious tenets in 
which the pupils had been brought up. Those great truths of religion, which 
are common to most christian sects, and those principles of pure and exalted 
virtue, which are approved by all, were inculcated by example as well as by 
precept. The school was in our opinion of the first order of excellence, and 
the terms were so moderate, as to bring it within the means of persons of the 
middling classes, and to show that profit was not the leading purpose of the 
establishment. That such a community should have had their rights of habi- 
fation, of person and property, violated in the manner they were, is not only 
an injury to the public, but aflbrds melancholy evidence of the ignorance, in- 
tolerance and depravity of the people among whom it could take place, and 
that the laws of the land do n»t afibrd that security to the rights of individuals 
which we had hitherto supposed. 

If our testimony shall have any effect towards enlightening the public, by 
exciting inquiry among those who honestly seek the truth, justice may be ulti- 
mately done to the character of the much injured Ursulines and the object of 
this communication will be nttained. 


September 3, 18S4. S. K. WILLIAMS. 

To Richard S. Fay, E)= 


Milton Hill, September 4, 18?.t, 

Sir: — la compliance with tlie wishes of the Investigatin;^ Coiiiniittee of 
Boston, to hear the sentiments of the parents and guardians of the children 
who were placed at the Ursuline Coinmunitv, upon its merits as a school, and 
as the abode of quiet, unostentatious virtui; ; and to know, whetiier sectarian 
doctrines have been taught to the children, and whether they ever heard or 
saw any cruelty or unkindness inflicted upon the children, or by the Ursulinea 
upon each other ; 1 reply, that I was entirely satisfied with the school, and be- 
lieve it to have been administered kindly, morally, and intelligently. For more 
than a year previous to placing my children at the institution, I examined anx- 
iously every source of information respecting it ; I learned from all the persons 
whom 1 had an opportunity to consult, whose children or friends had been 
placed there, that there was every cause of perfect confidence in that Conunu- 
nity. I have known from various parts of the country, former pupils wiio 
have spoken of it with affection and respect — and I have, from my own ob- 
servation, been perfectly satisfied that the pupils received the utmost care from 
the conscientious solicitude of the Community. I believe that their retired and 
regular habits of study form in the pupils, a pure and solid character. I have 
understood that no attempt was made to influence their religious tenets ; the 
children were permitted to attend worship in the chapel, or to decline it, if the 
parents wished ; I have never known any punishments but loss of rank in the 
classes, or admonition ; I have been satisfied that the discipline was mild and 
parental ; and from the testimony of the pupils, the Ladies of the Community 
live in perfect union and harmony. From all that I have seen, and weighing 
all that I have heard, it would be my earnest wish that my children might be 
educated by them. 

I may be exceeding the wishes of the Committee, to express any further 
comments upon the late outrage upon the Ursulines. I had but one child 
present at the firing of the Convent, my two elder children were absent with 
ine on a dist.'mt journey, had they been present, the shock upon the delicate 
temperament of one of them, might have been fatal. The self-devoted intelli- 
gence of the Lady who presides over the institution, during that frightful night, 
deserves ftom every mother the deepest gratitude and respect. It is this rare 
merit which has so eminently qualified her for the responsible station she holds 

We do not belong to the Catholic Church. 

With respect, your obedient servant, 


Boston, Sept. 3, 1834. 

Dear Sir : — Yonr favor of Monday, respecting the Ursuline Community, 
came to hand last evening. 

I consider the institution a very good one, and a first rate school, where the 
pupils are taught every thing consistent with a good moral education. 

Sectarian doctrines are not introduced in any degree, every thing about the 
institution is conducted (to all appearance) with the most perfect order and 

In haste, yours, &c. 

To R. S. Fay, Esq. S. WILLIS. 

P. S. I am not, nor hav.'^ ever been a Ciitholic. 

R. S. Fay, Esq. 


Boaton, Sept. 4, 1834. 

Dear Sir : — Yours; of the fust inst. i.s at hand. In reply to your re- 
quest for an expression of my sentiments in regard to the character of tiie Ursu- 
line Community at Charlestown,! would observe that at the time the buildings 
occupied by that Community, were so wantonly destroyed, I had two daugh- 
ters there attejiding the school, their ages eleven and thirteen years ; — for six 
months previous to sending my children to the school, I took every opportuni- 
ty of gaining hiformation respecting it, and so uniform were the statements in 
its favor, I determined and accordingly did put them there on the 20th of last 
May. My children inform me that they were very kindly treated by the Urau- 
lines, and they have no doubt or reason to believe that any of the other children 
under their charge experienced different treatment. The instructors never at- 
tempted to introduce or instill their own views of religion into the minds of 
the scholars. 

On the Sabbath, the Protestant children, embracing much the largest portion 
of the school, usually were assembled together to Protestant prayers, read to 
them by some one of the older scholars, and a portion of Scriptures committed 
to memory. No secrecy was ever enjoined on them. 

Yours, very respectfully, 


P. S. I would inform you that I am not a Catholic. 

Boston, Sept. 3, 1834. 
R. S. Fay, Esq. 

Dear Sir: — Yours of the 1st is before me. Mrs. Houghton had two sis- 
ters at the Convent at the time of the riot. They had been under the care of 
the institution about seven or eight months. 

Their improvement gave us perfect satisfaction. Considering the safety of 
the pupils, their freedom from temptations of every kind, the purity of morals 
taught, with the great devotion of the nuns to the general welfare of the schol- 
ars, induced us to esteem it as one of the best institutions in this community. 

No attempt was made to impress the minds of our sisters with the peculiar 
religion of the Convent ; and the young ladies inform us that they never knew 
an instance of the nuns attempting to influence the minds of pupils upon 
doctrinal points ; or in any way interfering with their previous religious senti- 

.'Vll the young ladies we have conversed with, agree in stating that they never 
saw or heard of any thing like severe punishment, nmch less cruelty, inflicted 
on any of the scholars ; and they further slate, that they never saw any thing 
but the most friendly and affectionate intercourse between the nuns. 

I am not a Catholic. 

Your ob't serv't, 


Boston, Sept. 4, 1834. 

Dear Sir : — It is with pleasure that I comply with the request of theCom- 
mittee of Investigation, appointed by the citizens of Boston, in expressing my 
sentiments in regard to the school of the Ursuline Community. My eldest 
daughter attended that seminary about two and a half years, prior to the burn- 
ing of the Convent. The teaciiers have been uniformly kind and unceasingly 


devoted to the moral and intellectual iriiprovcment, and are not excelled in 
their attention to tlie lie:ilth, tempers, and manners of the eliildren. No secta- 
rian doctrines are taui^lit to tlie children, and my dangiiter informs me that she 
never saw any unUiiuhiess or cruelty intlicted upon the eliildren, or hy the Ursu- 
lines upon each other ; on the contrary, it is strictly the quiet ahodi; of unostenta- 
tious virtue. If there is purity in any human heinjrs, I believe it to be found in 
these excellent women, the teachers of this school, the sisters of the order of 
St. Ursuline. My cliild was taken ill at the Convent, last summer, with the 
scarlet fever, and durinjf that dangerous illness, she was nursed with unwea- 
ried care and'kindness, which few can receive evcMi :it the hand of a mother. 
The goodness of (/// to her, and jjarticularly sister Mary Clair, in whose imme- 
diate charge she was during her sickness, will always be remendjered with 
feelings of deep gratitude, and a sense of obligation which can never be repaid. 
While my child was sick, 3Irs. Bullard visited tin; Convent daily, and had free 
access to her and to any pint of the Convmit, several rooms of which she did 
visit, and this hy particular invitation of the Lady ^^uperior. With the excep- 
tion of this sickness, my child has uniformly enjoyed good health. I think it 
decidedly the best institution in this country for the education of fenude youth. 

Respectfully, yours, &c. 

N. B. I am not a Catholic. 

' S. B. 

Richard S. Fay, Esq. 

Dear Sir : — I have delayed answering your note of the first instant, in 
order to give my family an opportunity to express their opinions of the Ursu- 
line Institution and its merits, and as they are herewith enclosed, I shall make 
no connnents. If you wish my own opinion, I can only say that, until I was 
acquainted with the school, I had the same prejudices against it that seems too 
generally to prevail now ; but since I have placed my two daughters there, I 
have had occasion to visit the Institution frequently ; and my wife has visited it 
more often than myself, and we have always returned from it with the highest 
opinion of its merits as a school for the education of young ladies, as they 
seemed so amiable and happy and perfectly contented. Until the Saturday 
previous to the riot, my wife visited the school, and my eldest daughter ex- 
pressed fears to remain and wanted to return home, on account of the reports, 
that the buildings were to be destroyed ; her fears were quieted, as being with- 
out a cause, and on Monday night it proved too true. 1 have always found it 
to all appearance a place of unimpeachable virtue, and have never heard of 
any questions asked respecting religious tests, and I am fully persuaded that 
they use no such influence in the school, whatever their peculiar mode of wor- 
ship nuiy be among themselves. As to cruelty to the pupils or teachers, I 
have never heard any thing ; and if people knew the teachers, they would not 
harbor such a thought. 1 sent my children to this school because I had heard 
of its merits, and I have not been disappointed. My daughters have made 
great improvement, and are now anxious to return to school. I am not a Cath- 
olic, nor do I expect to be. I sent my children because I thought and still 
think it .stood among the fiist schools in the country, and the country will suffer 
by its loss. 


Wedneaday Evening, Sept. 3d, 1S.34. 

N. B. I hope the same opportunity has been given to express their views, 
to those who liave circulated unfavorable reports, in order that the facts may 
be fully made known. 

T. W. 



Cliarlesiown, Sept. 2, lii2i. 

Dear Sir : — Your favor of September 1st has been duly received, and 
agreeably to your request i feel it both a duty and a pleasure to communicate 
any thing tliat i may know as a parent, in relation to tiie L'r.suline Community. 
I shall simply state sucli facts as are known to me as truths, unbiased by 
prejudice and unawed by fear. I know that rumor with its thousand tongues 
has been spreading its deadly poison, and that the ignorant and unprincipled, 
influenced by revenge and jealousy, have aimed a fatal blow at the religious 

sisters of the Ursuiine Connimiiity. In the winter of 1828, after Mrs. 

had given up her school, where I had my daughter placed, I was desirous of 
procuring another in a retired, healthy situation, where she would constantly 
have the precepts and examples of viituous, well-educated ladies. After e.\- 
amining many of the plans in our first seminaries for the education of young 
ladies, I could not find one more congenial to my views, or, as 1 then thought 
and now think, better calculated for the moral and intellectual improvement of 
my daughter, than the Convent. Early in the spring of 1328, 1 accordingly 
placed her at tlie school, under the care of the Lady Superior atul the sisters of 
the Community, for the purpose of having her instructed in all the useful and 
ornamental brunches of female education. She remained at this school three 
years and a half. During that time she could have left at any moment, by 
giving proper notice, for any other school she might have preferred. I always 
had free access as a visitor during her residence at the Convent. I iiever saw 
any thing but the most perfect harmony among the sisters as well as the pu- 
pils ; every thing wore the appearance of neatness, regularity, and order. I 
never saw any thing that looked like unkindness or cruelty ; but, on the other 
hand, the pupils always appeared to be treated with the utmost tenderness and 
affection ; the ladies always endeavoring to do away every thing that looked 
like envy or jealousy in the school, by cultivating the most benevolent feelings 
of love and charity, with a view of teaching them their duty to God and each 

1 am not a Catholic, nor do I wish to have my daughter instructed in the 
Catholic religion. This I freely stated to the Superior when my daughter first 
entered the Convent. She fully assured me that her mind should be left per- 
fectly free as to her religious opinions, and I do most sincerely believe that in 
no one instance she was ever influenced by the Superior to become a proselyte 
to the Catholic religion. It has been an established rule to have young ladies 
attend the services of the Catholic Church in the chapel. For a time, my 
daughter, as well as other young ladies living in Charlestown, had the privi- 
lege of coming home to spend the Sabbath ; but this I did not think expedient; 
for this arrangement must directly or indirectly interfere with the devotions of 
the religious sisters, when a part of the scholars were to be prepared to leave 
and a part to remain m the Convent. I think myself it is far better for the young 
ladies to remain in the once (piiot and peaceable walls of the Convent and read 
their Bibles, and hear such religious instruction as was within their reach, than 
to be walking the streets or visiting their friends. I cannot close this epistle, 
in justice to the Lady Superior and the sisters, without miuitioning with grati- 
tude their many acts of kindness to my daughter. During her residence at the 
Convent, she had a most severe illness, where she received every attention 
that the most devoted friends could bestow, by night as well as by day, from 
the sisters. I have endeavored to give my views of the Ursuiine Community, 
80 far as I have been connected with its inmates, and 1 hope that justice will 
be done them for the cruel wrongs they have suffered. 

I remain, with duo respect, yours, &c. 



Vt'alertoivii, September 4, 1S34. 

Dear Sir : — I received your letter of the 1st iii>t. last evening, and now 
cheerfully give you such inroriiiutioii ;is I possess relative to tlie kite Irsuliiie 
Commuiiity, at Charlestowii. Ahoi;t lour years since, hav!i;<i a daughter then 
about 12 years of age, wh.oiii 1 wished to place at sou.e respectable school, I 
was induced fVoni hearing this institution spoi<en of in terms of high conur.end- 
ation, to place my child under the care of the Superior. She entered the Con- 
vent in Februar), 1831, and continued there until April, 1832. On the 1st 
December bust, she again returned to the Convent, accompanied by a younger 
sister, then about 12 years of age, and both were in the {."ouveiit, when the 
recent uiip.iralleliid and barbarous oiiirage was committed, from whenca they 
providentially escaped with their lives, loosing all tiieir eliecis, save a few 
clothes cauirht up on the instant, to cover their persons. During those peri- 
ods, the profivaency of my children in their various studies uiid pursuits were 
quite satisfactory^? I believe they were ever treated with the greatest kindness 
and attention, having all their wants strictly attended to, and especially in sick- 
ness, watched over and attended with the most delicate tendcniess and sympa- 
thy. They have ever appeared strongly attached to the Superior, and the 
other ladies who gave them instruction, and attended to their behavior. They 
have never complained of any severity, or unreasonable restraints, and they 
fissure me that they never witnessed any thing but khidness from any individ- 
ual of the Con;munity towards any of the scholais ; and that among the Sis- 
terhood there always appeared to exist the most perfect harn.ony and ali'ec- 
tion. I am satisfied that not the slightest has ever been made to instil 
into their minds an}- principles peculiar to the Catholic religion — on th.e con- 
trary, I believe that every thing was scrupulously avoided that might have any 
tendency to attract their attention to it. They informed me that the Superior 
always restrained the Catholic children, even from conversing with the others 
on the subject of their religion. The strictest attention has always been paid 
to the moral conduct of the children, every exertion made to cultivate habits of 
industry, and to instil into their minds the charms oi truth, and the beauty and 
importance of a virtuous life. 1 visited my children while at the Conver.t, as 
often as once in two weeks, and witnessed their hilarity and cheerfulness in 
their hours of recreation, have often seen them abroad, upon the grounds of 
the Convent, in company with their teachers, and noticed with pleasure the 
familiar and aflectionate intimacy that appeared to subsist between them. I 
have frequently seen and conversed with the Superior and several of the other 
ladies of the Institution, and have always admired the simplicity and elegance 
of their deportment, modest demeanor, afliible and uinissuming manners, and 
sure I am that every one will admit, who has the pleasiue of their acquaint- 
ance, that they are ladies of tlu; first education, superior intelligence and highly 
cultivated minds. It nuiy be thought that ! possess strong prepossessions in fa- 
vor of this Institution. If 1 do, they are imbibed from observation, a belief in 
the superiority and purity of its character, and the advantages and kindnesses 
that njy children have received from its inmates. I think however that 1 shall 
hazard nothing in the assertion, that no parent who wishes his daughters to be 
instructed in the various branches of useful and ornamental education, can 
place them from their homes, in any situation with more perfect assurance that 
they will meet with afiectionate and l;ind treatment, and receive every attention 
conducive to their improvement, liapiiiness, health and niorals, than at this In- 
stitution. I entertain no sentiments peculiarly favorable to the Catholics or 
their religion, and those who kno\v me, 1 am sure, will not be very ready to 
believe that I ever ghaU. 

llespectfullv, your obedient servant, 

RicuARi) S. Fav, Esq. 

P. S. I requested my eldest daughter to give me her gentiments of tht» 


Convent and its inmates in her own iangiuigc upon paper, which she has done. 
I have thougiit proper to enclose it, wiiicli you are at hberty to use, if it will 
ansuor any good purpose, as you may think expedient. 

Boston, Sept. 5, 1S34. 

Dear Sir : — In compliance with your request, I would inform you that 
in April of 1833, after due inquiry 1 became satisfied of the merits of the Ur- 
suline School, and of its freedom from sectarian influences, and accordingly 
placed my daughter there, and during an intimate acquaintance with the Insti- 
tution since that time, have never had occasion to change my opinion of its 

Myself and family have visited the school freely, whenever we thought 
proper, and have always found the intercourse subsisting between the pupils 
and their teachers, such as could only have proceeded from uniformly kind 
and tender treatment, and I believe no domestic circle was ever more happy or 
more united in the l)onds of love. 

The instructresses have always inculcated, both by precept and example, 
the cultivation of kind and obliging dispositions, a strict regard for truth, and a 
high respect for the simple principles of the Christian Religion, with an un- 
ceasing zeal which gave the strongest proof their own habitual and unostenta- 
tious virtue. 

As I am not a Catliolic, my connection with the school was begun and con- 
tinued only from the belief that it possessed, on many accounts, superior ad- 
vantages over any other similar institution with which I have ever been ac- 
quainted. Yours, &;c. 


It is due to the much abused Ursulines to say that the above testimonials 
are a few only of the many received, all speaking the same language and writ- 
ten in the same spirit. 

The following letter originally appeared in the Bunker-Hill Aurora : 

Ursuline Community. Died, on the ISth instant, at the residence of 
the Ursuline Conmiunity, Brinley place, Roxbury, Mrs. St. Henry, aged 20 
years and 6 months. This beautiful girl was sick at Mount Benedict when the 
Convent was burned, and suffered a dreadful shock in the horrors of that aw- 
ful night, from which she never rccovenjd. On the following morning, siie 
was removed to the house of the Sisters of Charity, in Boston, where she lin- 
gered till the 11th inst. when she was removed to the place where she died. 
At tills time she was so low that she could not stand alone, and it seemed 
hardly possible to remove hor ; but she could not bear to be separated from 
the beloved ladies of the Connnunity, and they literally took her and carried 
her over like an infant in their arms. She was pleased with their new situa- 
tion, and enjoyed the scenery very much. The afternoon before she died, her 
bed was turned round, so that she could see Mount Benedict from her win- 
dow. She viewed it a long time, and seemed much consoled with the fact 
that Alount Benedict could be so distinctly seen from Brinley place. During 
the course of her illness, so far from manifesting any ill-will against the rufli- 
ans who, by demolishing tlie Convent, had been accessory to her death, she 
often exi)r('sed a |)ily li)r them, and jirayed that they might be forgiven. On 
the night of the ITlli, she slept sweetly, and on the 18th departed from this 
to a better world. She, expired without a struggle, having no agony at all. 


The de;ith of this lady has revived the sad scene of that memorable night, 
when, doubtless she received her death blow. It is true, she was in a consuuip- 
tion, but it is also true that on the day preceding that night, she was able to 
give instruction to a music class, and was so very comfortable that I felt war- 
ranted hi giving an opinion to the Superior, that she would continue through the 
winter. It it is now my fulLconviction that the shock of that night hiniied 
this innocent young creature to an untimely grave ; a creature who, 1 (irmly be- 
lieve, never harmed nor thought harm to any living thing, and whose last 
breath was spent in praying for the deluded wretches who had frighted away 
her gentle spirit before its time. This atlecting event has called u]) my atten- 
tion afresh to a train of reflections, which have been passing in my mind ever 
since the Convent was burnt, and seems to oiler me a fit occasion to present 
these reflections to the public. I thought to do this before, but do not regret 
the delay for several reasons: first, because at the time the Convent was burnt 
the public mind was so grossly abused ;md so stiongly excited by strange re- 
ports, that a plain statement, such as i should make, would not he so likely to 
be regarded then as it may now, when prejudice, ignorance, niisre[iresentation 
and fanaticism are happih' giving place to a spirit of rational investigation of 
facts ; and, secondly, I confess that my own mind, wliicli was greatly dis- 
turbed, has now becomi! so njuch mor(! calm, that I am better fitted to otier 
my reflections to my fellow-citizens now than I was immediately after the hor- 
rible outr;<ge was connnitted ; and lastly, as the Ursuline Community is now 
removed beyond the immediate circle of my profession, I. may ho])e to be 
heard as a disinterested witness in hehalf of that much injured Connnunity. 

In the beginning of the year 1828, I was anxiously looking round for a 
school for one of my daugliters, who was then about 13 years of age. Hap- 
pening to take up a newspaper, the I'rospcctiis of the I'rsuline Community 
met my eye, and after full inquiry I was s;;tislicd, and placed my diiughter at 
the Convent School, where she remained till she completed her academic (kIu- 
cation, entirely to the satisfaction of my whole liunily. During the lime of n:y 
daughter's schooling, by the kindness of tin; Su()erior, I obtained a special 
privilege of placing one of my nieces, (whose age, then 17, was beyond the reg- 
ular rule of admission) in the Convein, where she remained about 15 months, 
with the greatest possible advantage to her education, manners, and character. 
My young(!st daughter entered the Convent when iier sister came out,.but after 
a short time Inu' Injaltli (always precaricnis from her infancy) beeanu! so poor, 
that T took iier from the Convent ; and foi' 6 months succeeding she did not 
attend any school, and has never since lieen able to |)ursue her studies regularly. 
From the 1st of .April, 1828, till the Kith of .luly, 1829, I had nothing to lio 
with the Convent, only as a school. A medical gentleuian from Boston being 
the attending physician. As numy of my friends blamed use ibr putting my 
daughter and niece to the Convfnit School, and as constant in(]iiiiies were 
made of me about that school, I was very particular indeed to inquire of my 
child and neice, especially the latter, who was older than her cousin, and a 
very intelligent, shr(!wd, and above all as honest-hearted a girl as ever lived ; 
I inquired, 1 say, of them respecting every tifuig that was going on at the Con- 
vent ; and from the information they gave me, and from such other sources of 
information as were within my reach, I was perf(!ctly satisfied that the Convent 
Scliool was and continued to be, to the very day their school-house was burned 
down, a most excellent school. I believe the ladies who iiad the charge of it 
were not only exceedingly well qijalified to teach, and eminently fiiilhful and 
successful in teaching the various branches of education which they professed, 
but I also firndy believe that they are ladies of irreproachable character and 
reputation — I know they are ladies of elegant accomplishments and soft and 
gentle manners, and 1 believe they were ever kind to their pupils, and very 
watchful over their li(!allh, morals, and manners. 

I have always considered this school as invaluable to most of the young fe- 
males who were placed in it — many of them are the children of wealthy and 


fashionable faniilies — exposed at home to all the dazzling influences of liigh 
life, of brilliant scenery, of tiie noise and bustle of perpetual company, of irreg- 
ular hours, and oitan ol' excessive indulgence in rich food and dress. To take 
such chikhen away from situations so unfavorable to the cultivation of the mind 
and the health of the body, and to place them in a beautiful and healthy re- 
treat, and in a school established on a system of simple diet, regular hours of 
study, food, recreation and rest, and neat and strict uniforiiiity of dress — un- 
der tlie example and tuition of ladies of high education — of elegant manners — 
of soft voices and pure conversation — ladies entirely separated from the world, 
and wholly devoted to their (jiod and their pupils — is indeed a blessing to such 
children, which may be imagined, but cannot be described. Almost all the 
children who attended tlie Convent sithool were children of Protestant parents — 
of course, in their studies, in their conversations, in their recreations, in their 
social associations, in every thing indeed, but the forms of daily devotion, 
which oocupied no more of their time in this, than is usually devoted to the 
same service under diti'erent forms, in other well regulated Protestant schools ; 
for every valuable purpose of education — this was in reality a Protestant 
school. The teachers, it is true, were Catholics in their religion, but not 
teachers of the Catholic religion to their pupils„ This distinction ought to be 
clearly understood, and the fact ought to be known, for it is solemnly true, that 
the teachers of the Ursidine school did not attempt to instil the peculiar tenets 
of their faith, into the minds of their scholars — the pretence that they did so, 
stands, up to this hour, wholly unsupported by the slightest shadow of proof. 
Whether it be ligiit for Protestants to support a seminary for education set up 
by Catholics, is a (juestion on which good men may, and do dilfer widely and 
honestly. But when the Catholics, who have an undoubted right to do so, 
have set up such a seminary, then whether it be right to represent them truly, 
or to misrepresent them shamefully, is no sort of a question at all with good 
men, for every good man will acknowledge at once, that a Catholic seminary 
is as much entitled to legal protection, and to fair and just representation as any 

Those parents who sent their children to Mt. Benedict school, sent them 
there, not because it was set u[) by Catholics, but because in their opinion it 
was the best school they could send them to. I am sure this was the reason 
which decided my mind. Nor is this the only instance with me. Several 
years ago, 1 sent one of my sons to be fitted for college to a celebrated acade- 
my, when I knew that the principal of that academy (according to my views 
of such matters) was one of the greatest religious bigots on earth, but I 
knew also that he was a capital classical scholar, and I considered him 
better qualified to teach my son than any other man I knew of, so I sent 
him to be prepared for co.loge, not expectin;; that any particular sectarian 
influence would be used with liim. In this matter however, I think very 
dilferently of the course which was pursued at the Academy, with my son, 
and at the Convent with my daughter. It is said, that the teachers of the 
Ursuline school are religious devotees. They are so. And it is my solemn 
conviction, that these pious females live habitually in the fear of God, serving 
him devoutly, and in sincerity and truth, according to the forms and ceremo- 
nies of their religious education ; and while the enlightened protestant christian 
may pity what he believes to be the errors of their faith, lie caimot but respect 
and admire that sublimated pietv, which leads its young and beautiful votaries, 
to a voluntary martyrdom of the world. Would it not be well too. for those 
who have not been religiously educated in any form, whose minds have not 
yet been instructed into the sublime truths, and whose hearts have not 
yet felt the heavenly influences of Christian love — charity, forbearance, broth- 
erly kindness and forgiveness, — would it not be well for such, to pause and 
consider, how fir they are qualified to sit in judgment on the motives, feelinga 
and actions of those whose whole course of education, tiioughts and habits have 
been so entirely different from their own. While it is readily granted, that the 


teachers of tlie Ursuline school, are, in a devotional sense, religious devotees, 
it is contended that they are not exclusively so — tiiey are devotees also to the 
cause of female education. 'J\) them, their school is, nextto their (od, ai.d it 
is all beside. Thoroughly educated teachers — exclusively devoted for life to 
the Ursuline school — is the true secret of its superiority. 

Such are my opinions, views, and feelings, in reference to the institution at 
Mt. Benedict, which, (as I have already stated,) 1 knew only as a school iioiu 
the time it was opened in .April 1828, till July Kith, 1829, i.t which lin.e I was 
called as a Physician, and have been continued as such, ever since. During a 
period of more than (i\e years, which has el;. psed since 1 visited the (oiivent 
as a Phvsician, there has heen a good deal of sickness there, ai.d 1 have been 
there very often, and of course have had a good oppoitunity to becon.e inti- 
mately actjuainted with each individual n.en.ber of the conjiuuiity ; and it is 
not too much for me to sav, that I do know what h;.s been passing within the 
walls of the convent, better than those who were never inside of it ; and ! do 
now solemnly declare, in the presence of the whole world, that according to my 
sincere belief, the females who comjiosed the Trsuline Comniunity, are ladies 
of pure characters and blameless lives, and tlu.t in their ditibreut places and 
static: s, they have severally been well (jualilied for their respective duties, and 
have performed those duties kindiv, conscientiously, and faithfully, to their 
pupils and*to each other. 'J'lie Superior — thoroughly educated, dignified in 
her person, and eleg.ant in her maimers, pure in her morals, of generous and 
magnanimous feelings, and of high religious principles — is in truth a n.ost 
worthy lady, who richly merits her title and her station. 

I have been induced to submit the foregoing statement to the public, under 
a strong sense of justice to a Community of good and useful females, whose 
motives and conduct appear to me, to be str;nig(!ly misunderstood, and most 
cruelly misrepresented, and who have been driven away from their peaceful 
retreat, by the greatest outrage which stains the history of civilized society. 

Chadciluwn, Oct. 25, 1834. 

The annexed affidavit of Dr. Thompson proves tiro fads, botli of vhich di- 
rectly disprove two imporl'.ird assertions of Hie Committee of Publicutiun of 
Miss Reed's book. 

Charlestown, April \st, 1825. 

I have this day received a note, requesting me, as Physician of the Ursuline 
Community, to give an opinion on some of the statements lespecting the ( onvent 
ill Miss Reed's hook. i\ot having read the book, 1 immediately procured a 
copy of it, and having run it over, 1 find some things in it, which in justice to 
the Ursuline Community, I feel hound to notice. In the introduction, page 42, 
1 find the following paragraph : 

" This then is the whole amount of tin; dwelling being accessible at 
proper times to the parents and friends of the pupils there. They were ad- 
mitted to a common parlor, and lot permitted to enter any other room in that 
spacious establishment. i\o Protestant eye ever saw tin; apartments of the 
IN'uns, except on tin! occasion when the Selectmen of Charhjstown examined 
the building by ai)pointtiient, the day before the riot. Keen the Physician, 
as we understand, never saw any of the Heligieuse, to prescribe for them, in 
their private apartments ; when sick, tiiey were attended by the infinnaiian — 
one of their own order." 

Now I believe this whoh; paragraph is not true, — in jioiiit of fact, so far as it 
respects the Physician, I know it is absolutely and uiuiualiliedly false. In the 
narrative part, Miss Reed labors to impress on Iter readers, that JMiss M. Mag- 


dalene was treated with great cruelty, flliss M. Magdalene, and a lay-sister, 
(Maltha,) both died of consiniiptioii at the Convent, and were both attended 
by ine. During their ^sickness, 1 believe they were both properly nursed and 
taken care of. 'J'lie Superior often attended nie in njy visits to them, and al- 
ways manifested a kind concern for their care and support — and tiiey had the 
best services of the experienced and faitidul nurse or " iiijirmurian," sister 
Mary Clair, acting under my directions. I visited Martha in her own apart- 
ment, and attended her there, till she died, [n regard to Miss M. Magdalene, 
I once had a conversation with Miss Reed about iier — Miss Reed, as I under- 
stood leaving the Convent, had been a good deal about Charlestown — and I 
had been told by several persons, that she said she wished very much to see 
Dr. Thompson — she wanted to ask him some important questions, and could 
tell him some terril)le things about the Convent. In the latter part of June, or 
first of July, 1834, 1 met iMiss Reed, for the first time in my life, at a house 
where I was attending a sick child. On being introduced to Rliss Reed, and 
speaking of the Convent, she brought up the case of Miss M. Magdalene, and 
asked me if I knew bow much Miss ftf. Magdalene suffered. 1 asked her 
^■, ( what sufferings she referred to. She replied : " Oh, Doctor, no tongue can 

<t» tell what Miss M. Magdalene suffered." Again I entreated her to specify the 

kind of sufferings — did she mean that Miss M. Magdalene suffered from 
' I ' bodily pain, or distress of mind, or from cruel treatment .' — I begged her to tell 

me. But in vain — all that 1 could get out of her was — that no tongue could 
tell, what M. M. Magdalene suffered. I left .Miss R. under a full conviction, 
that she was an artful girl — in reality telling nothing — yet insinuating dread- 
ful things ; but at the same time, craftily avoiding all responsibility. Nothing 
, else about the Convent passed between us. 


!\riDDLESEX, ss. Charlestown, April 3, 183.5. Then Abraham R. Thomp- 
son personally appeared and made oath to the truth of the statement by him 
subscribed, as above written. 

Before me, John Soley, Justice of the Peace. 

The affidavit of Eliab Stone Brewer and Francis W. Story is hereby an- 
nexed, to disprove calumnies lately alleged in some of the public prints, charg- 
ing the Ursuline Convent with selfishness. 

Having heard it had been asserted that no instance could be produced of any 
charities by the Ursuline (?onnnunity, while resident upon JNlount Benedict, I, 
Eliab Stone Brewer, of Boston, a Piotestaiit, on the thuty-first day of March, 
183.5, rode over to the neighborhood of .Mount Benedict, with Francis W. 
Story, to make inquiry upon the subject, having always heard that the Ursu- 
liiu! connnunity was an order of charity, and being desirous of ascertaining the 
truth of this charge against them. 

We first went to Mrs. Kelley's. In answer to my inquiry of her, she said 
her children had frequently received money from the Connnunity, and other 

We then went to Mr. Fitch Cutter's. Mrs. Cutter said that, upon one occa- 
sion, Mr. Cutter went with a subscription paper to the Lady Superior, where a 
man had lost his barn by fire, and she gave him ten dollars, aiul told iiim to 
call undin- similar circumstances, and she would always bo willing to give. 
Mrs. (.". further remarked, that she had been kind in many instances, but the 
general opinion was, that she did it to get the good will of her neighbors. 

We then went to Mrs. Fillebrown, at the place called Washington's Head 


■^iunriers — said she had worked for tiic Ursuline Community, and that she 
:Tiusl in truth say, that the I-ady Superior was a very charitable woman. 

We then went to Mrs. Stearns's, the second house on the Charlestown side of 
the Convent gate. She had no personal knowledge of the Lady Superior, but 
had heard many acts of her kindness and charity. 

We then went to Mrs. Stevens's, where we saw a girl of about 15 years of 
age. She informed us, that once, when her sister was taken sick, her mother 
was in want of old linen, and sent to the Lady Superior, who sent her the lin- 
en and other presents, and was very kind to her. 

We then went to Mr. lluney. Selectman: said he thought he had been ill- 
treated by the Lady Superior ; but knew that she had given away a great deal, 
and mentioned several instances. Among olliers, $5 to his son, for the '' Boy's 
Library ;" !{i;52 to the Bunker-Hill monument, &c. &c. We inquired no fur- 
ther, being satisfied, from what we heard, that her hand was always ready to 
extend relief while slie had the means to give. We found but this general ac- 
knowledgement of her bounties from these persons, whom we inquired of at 
hazard, and without any previous knowledge of them, or what they would say, 
and we inquired of iu» other persons. 


Commonwealth of Massachusetts^ 
Suffolk, April 2, 1835. 

Personally appeared the above-named Eliab Stone Brewer and Francis W. 
Story, and made oath that the foregoing statement, by them subscribed, is 

JONA, CHAPMAN, Justice of the Peace. 

It is with the sincerest pleasure that the following letter from, 
the Boston Courier by the Rev. Dr. Byrne is submitted to 
the reader. His account of Miss R\s baptism differs^ though 
not materially^ from the description of it in note to page 1 3, 
which was given from memory by one present at the ceremony. 
A newspaper remarks upon the letter that it contains mere as- 
sertions ! Does Miss Reed do more than assert 9 


To THK Editor of the Courier, — Sir — I find in Miss Reed's book 
about the Convent, recently published, that she attributes language to me, which, 
•if used, as stated by her, would be highly unbecoming and exceptionable; 
and, from the perusal of it, some may suppose that I used, or endeavoured to 
use, over Miss Reed, an undue and improper influence. I pray you to allow 
me, through the columns of your paper, to endeavor to exculpate my charac- 
ter, by relating in what, and how far, I have been concerned in her regard. 
Let a candid and impartial public then judge. 

In March, 1831, Mrs. Craham, with whom I was then but slightly acquaint- 
ed, after the service and instructions I gave on a Wednesday evening in the 
Church, went into the Vestry, and told mc there was a young lady in the 
Church who wished to be introduced to me, but that she would nof do it with- 
<jut my consent, at that late hour, and especially as she knew but little of her 
herself. She then introduced Miss Reed, to whom, after a short conversation, 
I said, I would gladly see her at my house, when .she could conveniently call, 
md would give her any information she required about the Catholic religion, 


Mrs. Graham afterwards informed nie, that Miss Reed had called on her be- 
fore, to accompany her to the evening instruction in the Catholic Church, but 
that she could not go on that evening ; that when Miss Reed called on her on 
the evening she introduced her, she told her she could not go, on account of 
her daughter's sickness ; but seeing Miss Reed burst into tears at the disap- 
pointment, she requested a friend to remain with her daughter, and accom- 
panied Miss Reed to the Church, not knowing all the tinje that Miss Reed 
wanted to be introduced to me ; that it was only on the termination of the in- 
struction, Miss Reed expressed her wish to tli;it effect; and that, on remon- 
strating with her on account of the lateness of the hour. Miss Reed declared 
she would not leave the Church until introduced. Would it be unreasonable 
now to suppose, that Miss Reed acted thus in consequence of the resolution 
she had formed, as mentioned in page 52 of the Narrative, to become acquaint- 
ed with some one who would introduce her to the Superior of the Ursuline 
Community, and of having been foiled in her interview with Bishop Fenwick, 
alluded to in page 58 — that it was for this purpose she got herself introduced 
to Mrs. Graham — and that it was not Mrs. Graham that first urged and re- 
quested her to see me, as intimated in pages 60 and 61 .' 

Miss Reed, in page 186 of her Narrative, leaves it to the reader to judge of 
her motives for becoming a member of the Ursuline Community. She has not^ 
at least as far as I have been able to discover, told the reader what motives 
first induced her to think of becoming a Catholic. She states in her letter tO' 
her friwids, page 36, that her mother, previous to her death, reminded her of 
the solemn obligation she had taken upon herself at the time of her baptism in 
the Episcopal Church, in Can]bridge ; and also that she had consulted with 
Rev. Mr. Croswell, Pastor of Christ Church, T?oston, previously to her joining 
the Catholics., She informed me, whilst coming for instruction, that she had 
seen the Rev. Mr. Croswell previously to her joining the Catholics. Would 
it be a wrong conclusion, if the attentive reader of her Narrative were to attri- 
bute her motives for becoming a Catholic, to her strong desire of becoming an 
inmate of the Convent .' 

In a few days, after being introduced ton)e, Miss Reed called at my house, 
accompanied by another person, (I believe a Miss Hawkins.) When ques- 
tioned as to her motives for wishing to join the Catholic Church, she. told me 
several times, that it was in compliance with her mother's wishes and request, 
expressed to her (Miss Reed) on her death bed. Will not this appear strange- 
ly in contr.-idiction to what she has stated in her letter to her friends .' She 
also told me more than once, that her mother would have died a Catholic, had 
she had an opportunity ; and that her mother had told her so. I said to her 
that in choosing her religion, it was well to pay some attention to her parent's 
advice ; but that she must be influenced, not by any wordly motives or con- 
siderations, but chiefly and solely by a love of truth, and a desire to serve God 
in the best manner ; and in giving her books, I desired her to examine them 
carefully, to compare the passages of scripture in them with her Bible, not to 
pass over any until fully sati.sfied and convinced of its truth, and if she should* 
not understand any part, to mark the page, that it might be explained when she 
called again. When Miss Reed first came to me, she was staying, or as she 
would have it, visiting, in a family of the name of Hawkins ; and I believe she 
did not live with her father frotn that time until she left the Convent. She 
stated to me, that her father had driven her from his house, or that she was 
obliged to leave it, on account of his ill treatment to her in consequence of her 
determination to become a Catholic. In a few weeks after being introduced to 
me, she came to reside at No. 29 Austin street. I was informed tliis ar- 
rangement was made by persons who heard her account of the ill treatment, 
and of her fear of her friends, and who, witnessing her desire, wished she 
might have a better opportunity of coming to me for instruction. She continu- 
ed to reside in Mr. Hoyne's family in Austin street, and occasionally in 3Ir 
Payne's opposite the Catholic Church ia Riehmond street, until she went tjrv 


\he Ccaveut. As she states iu page 65, that she employed herself while there 

in doing ornamental work for her Catholic friends, and also in working lace for 
"he Bisiiop, the altar, &c. — aini again in tiie next page, that her time was 
v/holly empleyed in working for the Catholics ; same may suppose that a part 
at least, of this werk was for me., or for tlio altar in our Church. I never re- 
ceived frem Miss Reed, any thing for myself, or for the church, or for the al- 

Having directed her attention to it, and inquired about her former baptism, I 
considered there was a reasonable doubt as to its validity, from the manner in 
in which she informed me it was administered ; and not, as some might be led 
to suppose from what she mentions on the subject, page 66, because Catholics 
consider baptism administered by Protestants generally invalid. I informed her 
she might be received by the name of Rebecca Theresa, or any other she pre- 
ferred ; and she herself ciiose Mary Agnes Theresa. Then, after about three 
mouths instruction, I administered baptism to her by this name, using the con- 
ditional form, " If thou art not baptised, I baptise thee in the name of the Fa- 
■*.her, and of 'lie Son, and of the Holy Ghost." I was not her sponsor. She 
continued receiving instructions fer about three months longer, before she was 
admitted to the Holy Eucharist or Communion. 

After Miss Reed went to Mr. Hoyne's she came to me for instruction gener- 
ally ence or twice a week, and sometimes oftener. On many of these occa- 
sions she used to express the strongest desire that she could get into the Con- 
vent ; she did not care in what capacity. She often said that if she could not 
succeed in this, she would go and retire iirto a cave or grotto in Boscawen, 
New Hampshire. I always advised her not to think of joining any religious 
t)rder, at least for some years, until she would be -fully and thoroughly ac- 
quainted with the Catholic religion, and with the duties that would, in such a 
,place, be required of her. After seeing some specimens of her writing, and 
being able to judge, as I then imagined, of her disposition, T used to tell her 
-that I thought she would not and could not be received as an Ursuline at Mount 
Benedict ; and every time I said so to her, she would hold down her head, and 
appear to crj' and sometimes to sob. On the same page, (61 ,) where she men- 
tions having heard an alfecting senr>on on Good Friday evening, (which was 
April 1st,) she says, that by this time she had become a constant visiter at the 
Convent. And from other parts of the Narrative, a person might suppose that 
she had frequently visited, and been v/ell acquainted with the Superior, even 
before she was introduced to me. This, however, I believe was not the case. 
Miss Reed had been a considerable time at Mr. Hoyne's before I yielded to her 
eft repeated entreaties to give her a letter of introduction to the Superior ; and 
when I did so, it did not procure for Miss Reed the desired intervi(!W. It was 
only when I next saw the Superior, and told her that I did not consider Miss 
Reed a fit person to become a member of their Comnmnity, that is, an Ursu- 
line ; that my object in v/ishing her to see Miss Reed, was, that perhaps she 
(the Superior) miglu succeed in disabusing her of her notions about becoming 
1 Nun ; it was, I say, only after this explanation, that the Superior consented, 
and even then with some reluctance, te see Miss Reed. 

In her letter to her friends. Miss Reed mentions, page 37, that when she be- 
gan to write her Narrative, she was able to make only memoranda. I suppose 
she meant to shev>f how good her memorv was, by marking as quotations, lan- 
guage that she attributes to me as well as to others. Now if it be shewn that 
her memory failed her, — that she contradicts herself — and that too in matters 
which may well be supposed to have made on a mind like .Misa Reed's, a deep 
and lasting impression, will it be unreasonable to conclude that she mistakes, 
'CO say the of it, in other parts of her Narrative ? In page 72, she says 
that on Sabbath morning, August oth, 1831, she was attended to the gate of the 
Convent by her friend Mrs. Grahair), that is, when she went to reside at the 
Convent. After sigh'uig so long, and desirsing so ardently to become an inmate 
of the Convent, surely Miss Reed would not easily forget the happy day when 


all her wishes were realized. To shew that she did not, she marks the day 
and date ; and as if to shew the more particularly, this is the only date she 
gives in the whole of her Narrative, at least as far as I have been able to dis- 
cover. Now I beg you to observe, first, that the 5th of August, in 1831, fell 
not on a Sabbath or Sunday, but on Friday ; next, she states, page 66, that 
she stood sponsor for Mrs. Graham's daughter ; now thi«, according to the 
record made of it at the time, was September 4th, 1831. Further : I received 
three notes from the Superior relative to Miss Reed bearing date August 12th, 
September 2d, and September 11th, 1831. In the one dated September 2d, 
the Superior writes : " I think it best that Miss Reed should make her Confes- 
sion and Communion before she enters ;"' and in the one of September 11th, 
"If she (Miss Reed) has made it (her first communion) to day, will you be 
kind enough to direct her to come here, immediately after High Mass." Now 
let the impartial reader compare these dates with that given by Miss Reed and 

On page 67, Miss Reed says she was questioned by the Superior with re- 
gard to a conversation which took place between her brother and herself on 
Charlestown bridge, an account of which was published in the Jesuit, highly 
exaggerated, as she says. If you look at the lollowing pag^s, you will, 1 am 
confident, say that the interview at which the questions were, "if at all, asked, 
must have taken place some time before she went to reside at the Convent. 
Now, if Miss Reed was right in stating that she went to the Convent August 
the5th,(l) how did she know of the publication in the Jesuit of August 6th, rel- 
ative to that conversation .' Did she rend the Jesuit in the Convent ? Does 
she say that such reading occupied any part of her time while there .' When 
did she ask me, as mentioned in a note at the bottom of page 67, to explain to- 
her what that publication meant .' When did I promise to have it corrected ? 
By whom was the conversation exaggerated ? By way of explanation, let me 
relate how the meeting with her brother occurred, and the account given of it 
at the time by Miss Reed herself. For some time previous to June 12th, 
Ellen Munnigle of Milkrow, then about 14 years of age, used to come, with 
others, to the Church to get instructions, preparatory to receiving Communion 
and Confirmation. On one of these occasions, this girl called to see Miss Reed, 
who then living very retired, (see note page 70.) was advised to accompany 
this girl, for the sake of a walk, on the Prison Bridge, leading from Charles- 
town to the Canal or Craigie's Bridge. When she saw her brother, she desir- 
ed the girl to go off quick. There was, then, no one to give any account of 
the conversation, but Miss Reed and her brother. By whom was it exaggera- 
ted? Miss Reed returned to Mr. Payne's, in tears, much excited, and appar- 
ently in danger of swooning. She urged J\frs. Payne in the most pressing man- 
ner, to go for me immediately. Not being at home at the time, I did not see 
Miss Reed until after night-fall. When I called, I found Miss Reed still in 
tears, and was informed by her and by Mrs. Payne, to whom she had already 
told the story, that her brother met her on the bridffe, shook her violently by 
the arm, and threatened to throw her over into the Water. Thinking the story 
to be true, I mentioned it a few days afterwards to Dr. O'Flaherty in Boston, 
without the least intention or expectation that it would be made public. And 
though the meeting occurred in the beginning of June, nothing relative to it 
was published in the Jesuit until August. Now if no such conversation took 
place between her brother and herself, why did she sav that it did .' Was it 
to excite in her behalf the greater sympathy of the Catholics ? Let the candid 
reader judge if she was likely to ask me to explain what the publication of it 

1 To get rid of this rontradictiou, it is now .said that the date was misprinted, and that 
it should be Aug. 7th. l!ut the difficulty the reader will perceive, is not got over by this 
correction. The time i» not carried fnrw.-iid far enough. 


Tlie uext morning after Miss Reed left the Convent, Mrs. Graham's brothei , 
Jlr. James Manson, called on me, told me the circumstances, and requested T 
would go and see her. I told him in reply, that tVom the manner in which slie 
left the Convent, and the language he said she used at Mr. Kidder's (the house 
to which Miss Reed went on making her escape) I supposed Aliss Reed did 
not want to see me, and I declined going. He said Mrs. (iraham felt very 
anxious and apprehensive lest she might be blamed for what she had done in 
regard to Miss Reed, and wished to ask my advice ; I then promised to go in 
the afternoon. I would here remark, that neither Mrs. Graham nor her broth- • 

er were members of the Catholic Church at that time, nor for a long time after; 
and I believe that ]Miss Reed's language and conduct contributed not a little to 
induce them to become Catholics. XA'hen I went to Milkrow, Mrs. (Iraham 
repeated to rue the circumstances of the preceding evening, and said Mi-*s IJced ■' 

wished to see me. At this interview with Miss Reed, during whic h I took 
care that other persons should be present, I expressed my regret for her leav- 
ing the Convent as she did, knowing that she might have left it otherwise, if 
she wished ; and my hope that she would not make it more public, fearing lest 
it might redound to the injury of the Convent. She accused the Bishop and 
Superior, but hi general terms, of being bad, wicked persons. '\Vhen pressed 
to tell what the Superior had done to her, she said she deceived her, by prom- 
ising her at one time that she would be admitted to become an I'lsuline, and 
telling her at other times, she would not. I said to her, that if the Superior 
had acted wrong towards her, I hoped she would not do so, by now forsaking 
the religion she had embraced after mature deliberation. ]\!iss Reed appeared 
to get angry, even at the suggestion of such an idea, and said she would die 
sooner than abandon her religion. Seeing a sheet of paper on the table by her 
side, with a few words written on it, I asked what she had been writing. She 
then shewed me a slate on which was written the draught of a letter, she said, to 
Miss Kennedy in New-York, (the person so often mentioned by the name of 
Mary Francis) informing her of the step she had taken, (1) and asking her ad- 
vice and assistance to get to the Sisters of Charity at Emmetsburg. I did not 
say, as she states in page ITS, that I liad eoiiviiyed a Novice to the Sisters of 
Charity. Not only 1 had not done so, but at that time had not advised or re- t' 

commended any persons to go to that Institution. I did not offer to convey 
Miss Reed to them, for I knew tliey would not receive her. She expressed 
her fears that the Catholics would kill her for having run away from the Con- 
vent. I told her she need not be the least alarmed or uneasy on that account. 
Had she really any such fears? Besides Mrs. Graham's daughter, there was 
another Catholic, Mr. Harr, in the house ; and after remaining five weeks in 
that house, she spent more than a week with Mr. and Mrs. Payne, both Cath- 
olics. It Was not until the next day after this interview with INliss Reed, I in- 
formed the Superior where she was. On Saturday, the 21st, 1 again went to 
Milkrow, saw and conversed with i\fissReod in the presence of IMr. Rarr, who 
offered to retire, but at my request remained. The account of this second in- 
terview, as given in pages 181 and 182 of the narrative, is entirely incorrect. 
It is not true that Miss Reed did not consent to see me until after much per- 
suasion from Mrs. Graham. Mrs. Graham was not at home at the time. She 
had gone to the Convent, in compliance with the request in the Superior's let- f 

ter, which she received the preceding day. I then knew nothing of Miss 
Reed's father or relations, but what I had learned from Miss Reed herself ; 
so that even if I had spoken, as she states, which I deny, it must have been 
upon the strength of her own inforn:ation. T did not ask her to go to the Su- 
perior, for I well knew the Superior did not wish to see l)er. So far from say- 
ing she did not then believe in the Catholic religion, she expressed lier hopes 

1 That she did not antnally inform ^■ifs K. of thi; " strp .-,he h;id taken,"' in her firs 
letter, is however, it is 1 .•licvod, susceptible of clear proof. 


'oi' getting to the Sisters of Charity, through the assistance of Miss Kenned)' 
She did not say she believed I would take lier life, or that she would not trust 
herself in my clutches again. No, no. She did not at least seem to entertain 
such a bad opinion of mo; For, the next morning after she received the letter 
mentioned in page 184, she came to my room alone, to shew me the letter and 
to ask my advice. In that letter Miss Kennedy expressed her regret for the 
manner in which Miss Reed had left the Convent, and advised her not to let it be 
known to any one, but to the good lady, (Mrs. Graham) to whose house she had 
gone, and to her confessor. I asked why she did not follow Miss Kennedy's 
advice in this respect, as she pretended to have done in leaving the Convent ; 
and reminded her that I was not her confessor since she had gone to the Con- 
vent. I have thought it was this expression of mine, that induced Miss Reed 
to go to confession to me in the afternoon of the same day. In a few days she 
came again to my room, and alone. She did not appear much afraid to trust 
herself in my clutches, or that I would take her life. She asked my advice 
what to do, and wished she could get to New-York. I again directed her at- 
tention to Miss Kennedy's letter, and shewed her that Miss Kennedy promised 
nothing specific, but only that she would do all in her power to procure her 
(Miss Reed) ti situation if she did go to New-York. I told her that, consider- 
ing all the circumstances, the only advice I could give her, was to trj' to get 
into some f^imily where she might support herself by her work, or to return to 
her friends ; and that I feared, if she did the latter, she would be prevailed 
upon or induced to forsake the Catholic religion. When I mentioned this, she 
held down her head, and seemed to cry, as formerly ; and declared, as she did 
at Milkrow, that she would never abandon her religion ; and hoped I had st 
better opinion of her than to think she would ever do such a thing. 

Having by this time some suspicions of lier sincerity, I watched her more close- 
ly than I used on former occasions, and perceived that not only there Vvere no 
streams of tears flowing down her cheeks, but that not ii drop even appeared 
in her eyes. Next day she sent Mrs. Payne again lo ask my advice. Mrs. 
Payne told me that Miss Reed had sent her the day before with a message to 
her sister in Boston, and that her friends did not appear very anxious for her 
return to them. Miss Reed often expressed a wish, since she left the Con- 
vent, and particularly to Mrs. Payne, that I would employ her as organist in 
our Church. I desired Mrs. Payne to tell Miss Reed that I had no advice to 
send her, but what I gave herself the preceding day. Miss Reed, now finding 
she would not be supported idle by her Catholic friends, sent for her brother, 
with whom she left Mr. Payne's. Her fiuher, I was told, had called to see 
her a few days liefore. 

Since Miss Reed left the Convent I have heard much of her crucifying her- 
self, and other of her anticks, before she w^ent to the Convent ; but as they 
did not come under my own observation, I will not mention them here. I will 
say, however, that unquestionably, had I been informed of them at the proper 
lime, I would not have so easily received her, nor admitted her to Communion, 
even after about six months instruction. 

Now with regard to the facts and circumstances, and conversations which I 
have mentioned, as having occurred in the presence, and within the knowledge 
of other persons, I can confidentlv-appeal to these persons to confirm the truth 
of them as by me stated. As to tlie conversations that took place between Miss 
Roed, and mvself, when no other person was present, and concerning which 
she is either silent, or gives a dilTerent version 'from what I have stated, I 
would ask the reader to bear in mind, that, besides the difference of her stories 
to me, and I may add, to others, concerning, for instance, her mother, the con- 
versation with her brother, and what she states, concerning these, in her book ; 
sde herself acknowledges that she acted with duplicity and dissimulation in the 
Convent, and then I do not hesitate to leave to a candid and impartial public to 
judge between Aliss Reed's veracity and mine. When it is considered that 
she acted thus in the CJonvent, according to her own a-^knowledgement, will 


it appear incredible to suppose, tliut she was capable of acting with similar dis- 
simulation on other occasions ? 

I remain, sir, your obedient servant, 

Charlestwn, March 31, 1835. 

The letters of Hiram 0. Alden^ Esq.^ to Judge Fay^ and 
Miss Alden's letters inclosed, referred to in the " Preliminnry 

Belfast, Afe, Sept. 4, 1831. 

Sir : — Herewith yon will receive two letters from my sister, Caroline, in 
answer to yours recently addressed to her. Inasmuch as she has submitted 
them to my perusal, I cannot forbear to add (although unsolicited, and not- 
withstanding 1 am a Protestant in my own religious views and feelings) my 
testimony in corroboration of some facts stated by her. 

In the year 1S27, she, before entering the Convent, resided with me, in Bel- 
fast. In 1831, she wrote me, e.xpressing a desire to return to her friends. 
Although 1 had disapproved of the first step, I wrote her that she was at liber- 
ty to return, and make my house again her home. She accordingly returned, 
and has since resided with her friends here. She has never intimated that she 
was under anv restraint, which prevented her from leaving the Convent be- 
fore, but, on the contrary, always said she was at perfect liberty to leave when 
she chose. She then, and still entertains the highest respect for the character 
of the Ursuline Community. She regards them as worthy christians, actuated 
by a sincerity of profession, and a purify of purpose, to be found only in those 
who are, in truth, devoted to the service of (jlod. But as strongly attached as 
she waste the Lady Superior, and her estimable Community — us much as she 
loved and respected those whom she believed to have dedicated themselves to 
a pure life and a holy conversation, still she found she had a stronger tie to her 
Protestant friends. Unable to subdue her nal'irnl affections, she could not 
overcome her desire to return to her kindred. Hut the exalted terms of affec- 
tion, in which she always speaks of the Superior and the members of her 
communitv — the veneration she has for their religious institutions and forms 
of worship, are a sullicient guaranty that her statements in relation fo the 
character of both, are the undisguised sentiments of her heart. 

She has recommended the school at the Convent as one deserving the pat- 
ronage of every parent, who has a daughter to educate, whether they be Cath- 
olic or Protestant, (there being no interfer(!nce with the religious opinions of the 
scholar,) and I had sometime since come to the determination to send my 
daughter there, as soon as she arrives at a suitable age. Her commendation of 
the principles upon which the school was conducted, inclined me to the; belief 
that it was the most suitable seminary, within my knowledge, for the education 
of female yonth. 

Thus much I have been constrained to say, hoping it may subserve the 
cause of truth and justice — for I hold it to be the duty of every good citizen, 
in this land of ours, where all religions are tolerated, to raise his voice and 
his arm against the /i/.s< attempt at religious oppression or intolerance ; and if 
the recent vile outrage against liberty and law, committed upon the unoffending 
members of the L'rsuline (-ommunity, should be traced to that source, those 
religious zealots and fanatics who have aided, abetted or countenanced such a 
«hameful violation of private rights, should be exposed, and held up to the 
irithering indignation of a christian community. 

Very respectfully, your obt. servt. 



Belfast, Sept. itli, 1834. 

Sir : — 1 Ikivg received your letter, and hasten to give you an early an- 
swer. The task is not a pleasant one under such circumstances. No delicacy 
of feeling, howuver, shall withhold me from doing justice, as far as lies in my 
power, to that estimable and never-to-be-forgotten Community. 

In the month of Dec. 1827, I entered the Ursuline Convent, Mt. Benedict, 
as a candidate for that Community. After remainuig about two years, I be- 
came convinced that I had no vocation for that state of life. Having become 
exceedingly attached to the Lady Superior and those of her Community, I 
felt an unwillingness to leave. 1 found, however, that it was vain to think of 
(;ompelling myself to remain, and immediately made known my feelings on the 
subject to the Lady Superior. So far from meeting with least opposition, she 
replied, that " strongly as she was attached, and dearly as she loved me, she 
iimst advise me to go, if I saw that I could not be happy there ;" for, she 
continued, " no one can judge of that, so well as yourself — it must bo left to 
your own decision ;" telling me at the same time that " their rules and con- 
stitutions did not allow any one to remain there, but such as found their hap- 
piness there, and there only.'" She told me that I was at liberty to go when- 
ever 1 pleased, and should be provided with every thing requisite for my de- 
piuture — which was done two years after ; having remained there that length 
of time, merely from personal attachment to the Lady Superior, and her no less 
worthy Community. During my residence there, (a period of 1 years,) I can 
truly say, that 1 never saw one action to censure. 

Their character is as unimpeachable as their conduct is pure and blameless. 
I can assure; you, that as they appear in the parlor, so are they in their most 
unguarded moments — no unbending from that sweetness and afiability of man- 
ner, which characterise them all. Every duty, both temporal and spiritual, is 
discliarged withthe greatest fidelity. The love of Clod and hope of heaven, is 
the motive for every action. As teachers, nothing can exceed the care, atten- 
tion and kindness, which is bestowed on alt placed under their instruction. As 
persons secluded from the world and devoted to God, their purity of conver- 
sation and moral principles, their nobleness of soul, their charity, kindness, 
and forbearance to each other, cannot fail of being a most edifying example to 
those around them. 

My situation in tluit Community was such as to render me thoroughly ac- 
quainted with every member, and every part of the house. And I solemnly 
assure you, that there was not the least thing existing there, that any person 
could disapprove, were he ever so prejudiced. 

As it regards the school, I have ever recommended it to every parent, as the 
only secure place for the education of daughters in New England, or even in the 
United States. T say secure, for so 1 consider it, in respect to the allurements 
held out to a young mind, by a fascinating world, in most of the boarding 
schools. With respect to Mrs. Mary John, I was there the day after her re- 
turn to the Convent. I saw her in the parlor ; she told me she had been very 
ill. At that time, 1 knew nothing of her unfortunate departure. I found Dr. 
Thompson there also, who prohibited my seeing the Superior for the space o£ 
5 days, in consequence of one of her eyes being dangerously affected. At the 
expiration of that time I passed the day there. Saw Mrs. Mary John, — who 
told me the particulars of her going — said she could not reali/.e that it was 
so, expressed the greatest horror at having taken such a step, and said that sho 
would prefer death to leaving. She has been in that Community 13 years, 
has had the black veil 11 years. She always appeared perfectly happy, and I 
have no doubt but she was so, as we have had many conversations on that 
subject. She has told me repeatedly that she could never cease to be thank- 
ful for having been called to that happy state of life. If she had changed her 
mind, she had only to say so, to he free as 1 am at present. Never, T can as- 
sure you, in that Community, has there been, or can there be, according to 


the rules and constitutions of tiie order, any improper redrainl imposed on 
any person entering there. AViiih', I was a resident there, several left without 
the least opposition on tiie part of the Superior, or any other person. 

As it respects the sick, nothiiin;, \ ran assure yoii, can be further from the 
truth, than the assertions of that al)andoMed girl, (i\liss l{eed.) For never, in 
any place or by any persons, (1 will not except even my own parents' lioiisc!) 
liave i received greater kindness or more attention in sickness, than during my 
stay in that house. 

I send the answer to your second with this. Tlie music which accidentidly 
fell in my way, was in possession of a .Mr. James Cordon, of Charlestown ; 
he has returned there. He said that it was picked up near the ruins. Dr. 
Thompston will inform you of his place of residence. 

With the greatest respect, I remain, &c. 


Belfast, Sejjlcmbcr Xlh, 1834. 

Sir : — I will now proceed to give you all the information in my possession 
of that abandoned girl, who calls herself Miss Reed. Abandoned 1 think she 
must be, who has lost (dl regard for trulh. 

I have never yet heard one report coming from her, respecting the Ursuline 
Community, but the blarkesf, foulest fahcliooil. I may not have heard them 
all. Perhaps it would be well to enumerate a few — such as their iiilti/man 
treatment of the sick. As I said hi my first letter, a more false statement, con- 
cerning that Community, cannot be uttered. 

As I was treated there, so were others, and that was with extreme tender- 
ness. If any were sick, they always had a physician to prescribe, and an ex- 
perienced infirmarian to attend them. This same sister Mary Magdalene, of 
whose sufferings she has said so much, had two own sisters to attend her, in 
her last illness, one of whom related to me every circumstance, together with 
the false statenunits of that abandoned girl. 

I am not personally acquainted with Miss Reed, having left there a few 
months previous to her entrance. My name there was Mrs. Mary Angela. 
INIrs. Mary Francis I knew well ; we were there at the same time. 1 did not 
know but she was happy there ; she never told me to the contrary. She was 
a Miss Kennedy from New-York ; .she is at present a Sister of Charity in Dal- 
timore. Miss Reed remained at the Convent six months on charity ; com- 
menced her studies there between two and tlu-ee yeju-s since. Her music 
she commenced thi;re. And now, where is she? — a teacher of female youth, 
in what is called a respectable school ! 

You may make what use you please of either of these letters ; I leave it 
entirely to your better judgment. 

With much respest, I rcmiain, &c. 


Certificate of Sinter Mary Austin and Sister Marrj .Umpii, natural sislera 
of the late Mary Magdalene, referred, to by Miss Heed. 

We, the undersigned, natural sisters of Mrs. .Mary Magdalene, do hereby 

certify, that we were with her, from the day sin- entered the Convent to her 

decease, and are witnesses to the liumanitv and kindness with which she was 

invariably treated by the Superior and all the Conaiiunity, particularly during 




her last illness. Hereby, we likewise certify, that we were present when the 
last Sacraments were administered to her, and were witnesses to her calm and 
li;ij)|>y death. 


Certificate of Benedict Fenwick, Bishop of Boston. 

I certify, that I have read Miss Reed's book entitled " Six Months in a Con- 
vent," and pronounce it, so far as her statements connect me with her various 
relations, to he so exai^geratcd and distorted as to make the truth wholly lost 
to the sight. Her story of taking the veil is entirely a fabrication, and is 
against the rules and orders of the Community, which, as Bishop, I should re- 
gret to see broken. I am induced to mention this particularly, as an instance 
of deliberate falsehood, in which, by possibility, there could be no mistake on 
her part. Miss Reed left the Convent ISth j;muary, 1832, of which fact I 
have certain knowledge, from memoranda made at the time. I have not the 
same means of knowledge as to the time of her entry. 


Bishop of Boston. 


The "Rules of St. Augustine," and the " Institution of the Ursuline Community," 
were prepared for the press, but as tlie Answer has extended loan unexpected length, it 
h:is been thought a(lvisal)le to postpone their publication until the other documentary ev- 
idence shall be fully prepared — so that they may be printed tegether. The future pub- 
lications will be in the same form with the present work, so that they may be bound up 



014 069 533 6 •" 


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