_Ve._ Josepha!-- angel, your prayers-- oh! pray for me: pray for me!
[Exit with guards.
_Venoni._ My joy-- my amazement-- but oh! let me fly to rescue-- follow me, my friends-- there is a poor old man-- a captive.----
_Vice._ Be calm, dear youth; Lodovico is in safety: in guiding us to your dungeon, this worthy friar discovered and released him.
_Venoni._ My friend, my preserver! how can I reward----
_Vice._ If my power-- if my whole fortune can recompense----
_Mi._ I have preserved innocence, I have detected vice, I have served the cause of humanity: I find a sufficient reward in the feelings of my own heart. But, my good lords, let us quit this scene of horror: suffer me, my son, to unite your hand with Josepha's at the altar; then retiring to some more virtuous fraternity----
_Vice._ What, father? after such experience of a convent's interior will you again----
_Mi._ Ah! forbear, my lord, nor brand a whole profession with disgrace, because some few of its professors have been faulty-- tis not the habit but the heart; tis not the name he bears but the principles he has imbibed, which makes man the blessing or reproach of human nature.
Virtue and vice reside equally in courts and convents; and a heart may beat as purely and as n.o.bly beneath the monk's scapulary, as beneath the ermine of the judge, or the breast-plate of the warrior.
_Venoni._ The good friar says right, my friend; then let us scorn to bow beneath the force of vulgar prejudice, and fold to our hearts as brethren in one large embrace men of all ranks, all faiths, and all professions. The monk and the soldier, the protestant and the papist, the mendicant and the prince; let us believe them all alike to be virtuous till we know them to be criminal; and engrave on our hearts, as the first and n.o.blest rule of mortal duty and of human justice, those blessed words.
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