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THE BIBLE IN IRELAND. ABOUT four months ago, an old man, of seventy-five years of age, was in the habit of attacking one of our female teachers on the score of her Bible-reading, warning her of her danger, and assuring her that she was on the high road to hell and destruction. In spring last she met this man on the road, who, as usual, commenced abusing her; when she asked him, for the tenth time, how he came to speak against the thing of which he knew nothing, and begged permission to read a wee bit out of this condemned book. At length he consented; saying that he would just listen to her for this once, in return for which he hoped she would give it up for ever. Down they sat upon the roadside ; and drawing forth her Irish Testament, commeneed reading the first chapter of St. John's Gospel, to which the old man listened with great attention. When it was concluded, “Now, ," said she, “what do you think of that ?” “Go on, jewel,” said the old man: “I'll listen to a little more.” She then read the second chapter of the same Gospel, and appealed to him the second time for his opinion." You may read another, jewel,” said he : "I'm not tired yet.” She then read the third chapter ; and, closing the book, asked him if he would advise her to stop teaching. “In troth,” said he, “I would advise no szeh thing; but, if you will teach me, with God's blessing, I'll learn to read it myself.” From that day forward, the old man came regularly to her house for instruction ; and he is now able to read a chapter himself, although when he began he knew not his letters, in his seventy-fifth year. A river lies between his house and —'s, over which the pupil has to pass ; and sometimes the floods swell the river so much, that he, being lame, when he comes to the edge stands hallooing to her husband to come down and carry him across the river, until he gets his lesson, which he hardly ever neglects.--Mason.
DEATH AND FUNERAL OF A BUDDHIST PRIEST.
(From the Atheneum.) HAPPENING to be staying for a few days in a large Buddhist temple situated amongst the tea-hills near Ningpo, I witnessed some ceremonies connected with the death and funeral of a Buddhist Priest, which appeared so curious and interesting that I was induced to note them down at the time, and I now send them to you in the hope that they may prove acceptable to the readers of the “ Atheneum." There are two orders of the priesthood in a large Buddhist monastery. The first and most numerous is that whose members assemble daily in the largest temple, and perform a sort of cathedral service, which I have described in an earlier volume [“ Athenæum,” No. 1206]. The bodies of these men are burned after death, and their ashes preserved in urns erected for that purpose. The second occupy neat little houses, where they lead a very lazy sort of life, and seem to have nothing but their private devotions to attend to. Their bodies are not burned after death like the former, but are conveyed to the most lovely spots on the sides of the hills; spots which they had selected for themselves during their lifetime. One of these men died during my sojourn in the monastery.
A young Priest, a mere boy, came running breathless one morning into the house where I was staying, and called out to my host, also a Priest, “ Come with me, make haste, for Tang-a is dying.” We hastened to the adjoining house, which was the abode of the sick man, but found that the King of terrors had been before us, and the Priest was dead. By this time about a dozen persons were collected, who were all gazing intently on the countenance of the dead man. After allowing a few minutes to elapse, orders were given to have the body washed and dressed, and removed from the bed to a small room with an open front, which was situated on the opposite side of the little court. Mosquitocurtains were then hung round the bed on which the body was placed, a lamp and some candles were lighted, as well as some sticks of incense, and those were kept burning day and night. For three days the body lay in state, during square table
which time, at stated intervals, four or five Priests, decked in yellow robes, chaunted their peculiar service. On the third day I was told that the coffin was ready; and, on expressing a wish to see it, was led into an adjoining temple. “ Are there two Priests dead ?” said I, on observing another coffin in the same place. “No," said one; “ but that second coffin belongs to the Priest who lived with the deceased, and it will remain here until it is needed.”
On the evening of this day, when I returned from my labours amongst the hills, I called in again to see what was going on; and now a very different scene presented itself. And here I must endeavour to describe the form of the premises, in order that this scene may be better understood. The little house or temple consisted of a centre and two wings, the wings being built at right angles with the centre, and forming with it three sides of a square, a high wall connecting the two wings; and so a little court or Chinese garden was formed, very small in extent. A was placed inside the central hall or temple, one in front of it, and one in front of each of the two wings. Each of these tables was covered with good things; such as rice, vegetables, fruits, cakes, and other delicacies, all the produce of the vegetable kingdom, and intended as a feast for Buddha, whom these people worship. This offering differed from others which I had often seen in the public streets and in private houses, in having no animal food in any of the dishes. The Buddhist Priesthood profess an abhorrence of taking away animal life, or of eating animal food; and hence Do food of the kind was observed on any of the tables now before me. On two strings, which were hung diagonally across the court, from the central temple to each end of the front wall, were hung numerous small paper dresses cut in Chinese fashion ; and on the ground were large quantities of paper made up in the form and painted the colour of the ingots of Sycee silver common in circulation. The clothes and silver were intended as an offering to Buddha; and this was certainly a cheap way of giving away valuable presents. A rude painting of Buddha was hung up in the centre of the court, in front of which incense was burning; and these,
with many other objects of minor note, completed the picture which was presented to my view. “Is not this very fine ?" said the Priest to me: “have you any exhibitions of this kind in your country? You must pay a visit in the evening, when all will be lighted up with candles, and when the scene will be more grand and imposing.” I promised to return in the evening, and took my leave.
About eight o'clock at night an old Priest came to inform me that all was lighted up, that the ceremonies were about to begin, and kindly asked me to accompany him. On our entrance, the whole court was blazing with the light of many candles, the air was filled with incense, and the scene altogether had an extraordinary and imposing effect. A Priest dressed in a rich scarlet robe, and having a sort of star-shaped crown on his head, with four others of an inferior order, were marching up and down the court, and bowing lowly before the images of the gods. At last they entered the central hall, and took their seats at two tables. The High Priest, if I may call him so, occupied the head of the room, and had his chair and table placed on a higher level than the others, who were exactly in front of him. A servant now placed a cup of tea before each of them, and the service began. The High Priest uttered a few sentences in a half-singing tone, making at the same time a great many motions with his fingers as he placed and replaced a number of grains of rice on the table before him. Two little boys, dressed in deep morning (white), were engaged in prostrating themselves many times before the table at which the High Priest sat; and, as a singular contrast to all this seeming devotion, a number of Chinese were sitting smoking on each side, and looking on as if there was a play or some other kind of like amusement. The other Priests had now joined in the chaunt, which was sometimes slow, and at other times quick and loud, but generally in a melancholy tone, like all Chinese music.
A Priest, who was sitting at my elbow, now whispered in my ear that Buddha himself was about to appear. * “You
• This reminds us of a similar but far more horrible imposture, also Chinese. It was played off in the camp of the Chinese insurgents no fewer than twelve
will not see him, nor shall I, nor any one in the place except the High Priest, who is clothed in the scarlet robe, and has a star-shaped crown on his head :-he will see him.” Some one outside now fired three rockets, and at once every sound was hushed; one might have heard a pin drop on the ground; and the Priest at my elbow whispered, “Buddha comes.' ** Prostrate yourselves : ah! pull your caps off,” said one to the young Priests in white, already noticed. The boys immediately took off their little white caps, and bent lowly on the straw cushions placed in front of the various altars, and knocked their heads many times on the ground. At this particular moment, the whole scene was one of the strangest it had ever been my lot to witness; and, although I knew it was nothing else than delusion and idolatry, I must confess it produced an almost superstitious effect on my feelings. “And is Buddha now here in the midst of us?" I asked the gentleman at my elbow. “Yes, he is,” he said: “the High Priest sees him, although he is not visible to any one besides.” Things remained in this state for a minute or two, and then the leader of the ceremonies commenced once more to chaunt in that drawling tone I have already noticed, to make various gyrations with his hands, placing and replacing the rice-grains ; and the others joined in as before. My old friend the Priest, who had brought me to see these ceremonies, now presented himself, and told me I had seen all that was worth seeing, that the services were nearly over, and that it was very late and time to go home. On our way to our quarters, he informed me the funeral would take place early next morning, just before sunrise; and that, if I wished to attend, he would call me at the proper time.
Early in the twilight of next morning, and just before the sun's rays had tinged the peaks of the highest mountains, I was awakened by the loud report of fireworks. Dressing hastily, I hurried down to the house where the scene of the limes, during the short period comprehended in the “Book of Celestial Decrees." It was unspeakably more wicked to personate “the great God," and " the elder brother Jesus," and, amidst the blaze of camp-fires at night, barangue the deluded multitudes, than to pretend a descent of Buddha.Eps. Y. I.