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Coaina. Dorsey, Anna Hanson, (1815–1896).
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Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1867, by P. O'SHEA, in the Clerk's office of the District Court of the United States, for the Southern District of New York.



WE have no dislike to religious fictions; but where authentic facts are already too abundant for our limited space, we see no reason to lay aside realities in which divine grace has been the chief agent, and some human heart the real scene of the action, for the sake of suppositions or inventions of the mind, were they ever so pious and interesting.

When the following pages were presented to us by their well-known gifted authoress, we felt delighted with their beautiful diction and their deeply interesting incidents; still we would not have presented the rich sketch, had it been merely a fine tale. We therefore felt no ordinary gratification, when we received, a few days since, the reply which we subjoin, inclosing four pages of a closely-written letter from our venerable friend, Bishop de Charbonnel, containing, in substance, the whole history of Coaina. But let the illustrious authoress herself introduce, not the story, but the history of her admirable heroine:

WASHINGTON, January 27, 1866. VERY REV. SIR:

After the time and labor I have expended on Coaina, I have it fully in my power to authenticate its truthfulness, under our

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dear Monseigneur de Charbonnel's own hand. Some twenty-five or six years ago, this saintly man, then a missionary priest in Canada, came to the Seminary of St. Sulpice, in Baltimore, for the purpose of learning the English language through a regular grammatical course of study. He was a nobleman of rank, and had long before relinquished his title and estates to a younger brother, in France, to become a missionary priest.

I learned this from my venerated old confessor, Father Deluol, who was Superior of St. Sulpice, and who introduced Father Charbonnel to us.

Father Charbonnel was in the habit of coming frequently to our house to converse in English with us, and we considered it a great privilege to entertain him at all times. One evening he brought the little manuscript which I inclose—his first English composition—which he read to us with all the pleasure and simplicity of a child, and to which we listened with the deepest interest.

Once launched on the subject of Coaina he gave us many interesting particulars of her history, not recorded in his little narrative. I was greatly interested, and promised him that I would at some future day elaborate and make it into a story. I have kept it religiously, partly on account of my promise, partly for the touching facts it relates, and partly as a relic of a saintly friend. Although Father Charbonnel was reticent on that point, I am very sure that he was the priest of the mission at the time these events occurred. He would not own to it, but allowed us to infer it. A year or so after he left Baltimore he was made Bishop of Toronto. In the course of a few years he resigned the mitre for the cowl.

In talking of Coaina he expatiated on Coaina's devotion to the Blessed Virgin. Probably I have not been happy in bringing out this fact conspicuously, but no one can read the narrative attentively without feeling it. The names of the characters—except Coaina's—are fictitious, and so are some of the trivial incidents and embellishments.

The situation of the mission, the village, the calvary, the description of the people, the account of the "Taho," are all to be found in the "History of the Indian Missions in North America," which has been one of my favorite books for years past.

In writing Coaina, I had one special object in view, besides illustrating the beauty and triumph of religion, and that is to reprove the sins of uncharitableness, slander, and rash judgment, the three sins which crucified Christ. These are the sins of our age. I sometimes wonder, such is the prevalence of these evils among Christians, if true charity has become an obsolete virtue.

Would to God our clergy, and the Catholic press, would make a crusade against the specious, special, universal and—shall I say it—infernal sin of slander, in all its forms. I don't know that I ever found any thing more applicable to this point, than the history of Coaina.

Sincerely and truly your friend,


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