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SoMEThing of recent occurrence has recalled to my mind a circumstance, which, at the time amused me greatly, and furnished not a few subsequent reflections. I can and do vouch for the truth of the incident; it really happened: but to render it less incredible than it might appear to an English reader, I must observe that in sundry districts of Ireland they do not always carry the finish of a kitchen so far as we do, in country houses of even high respectability, and of the most substantial description. That part of the fitting most frequently dispensed with is the floor. Boards or bricks are little known, in some places; and where a few flags are laid down, so many portions become detached in process of time, or sink unequally into the soil, that the pavement is but a partial, irregular affair. I do not mean this as a general description: but I have often seen it so in houses of large dimensions, and possessing luxurious accommodations; while, either from a stretch of hospitality on the part of the servants, or as a security against nightly depredation, the fowls were admitted snugly to roost among the long rafters, or other conveniences, beneath the warm and sheltering roof. This sketch may furnish a hint to unravel the mystery which, had it occurred in a well-bricked or dry-boarded apartment, would have been altogether too marvellous for the grasp of any rational credulity.
It was in the very spacious kitchen of a fine old family mansion, embowered in venerable oaks and elms of mighty growth, that the servants requiring a stout block for culinary purposes, had obtained it from the lower part of a stately tree, recently felled; and fixing its spreading base on the kitchen floor-so they called it, though of flooring that quarter was perfectly destitute—they used it for several years, in the capacity aforesaid. Many a hard blow had the block sustained; many a time had its stubborn surface turned the edge of a hatchet and saw, sending the grumbling operator to
the grindstone. Nobody doubted but the
block was destined to serve for some gemerations among those to whom its uses were various and in portant. The kitchen range did not appear more completely naturalized in its appointed station; nor, apparently, was the iron which composed it more effectually divorced from its parent mine, than was its neighbour, the heart of oak, from its brethren of the forest. One fine moist spring, however, produced a singular effect on the block: several delicate young leaves were seen to sprout from its side. It was remarked as a curious circumstance by some of the servants, but the leaves soon being chipped off little notice was taken. The following year it exhibited more conspicuous tokens of vegetation: the shoots were many and of vigorous growth; while the servants agreed to preserve them, pleased to behold their ancient friend in so respectable a livery of national green. Towards autumn, its appearance became so striking, that the report was carried into the parlour; and the master of the family found on inspection so fine a development of root, striking deep into the soil of the kitchen, that for the sake of experiment he caused it to be very carefully dug up, without stripping those young roots, and placed in the natural ground, near an ancient avenue of its own kindred. He was not disappointed: for in a year or two the bushy honours of this kitchen block furnished one of the finest specimens of oak foliage to be found on the demesne. I was in the neighbourhood at the time of this singular transplantation, and ridiculed very freely the idea of any other result than the speedy withering both of root and sprout: alleging that the atmospheric change from a culinary hothouse to the chill damps of closing autumn, with winter's succeeding blight, would alone suffice to extinguish the feeble essay of vegetation. But I wronged the noble plant: or rather the hardihood with which the Creator has endowed that majestic race of trees. It shamed my confident predictions, and became an ornament to the place. Such a type has afforded me many pleasing illustrations, both on national and personal subjects; but one case is at this moment present to me, which follows it out, I think, with peculiar truth. It regards the solitary survivor of a family that once flourished in the courts of the Lord: until, one by one, they were removed to a better country, and this youth remained, cut off from every external tie that had formerly united him to the people of God. Thrown among worldlings, he became altogether as they : he served their master, and he served them, in all the drudgery of sin. The world, the busy, noisy, abject world, became his element: in their daily toil he partook, and from the scenes of nightly revelry he was never absent. No more resemblance could be traced between H. and his departed relatives, than between the low and greasy block in a butcher's stalland the noble stem that throws the canopy of its verdant branches over a wide expanse of sheltered sod. The most sanguine of Christ's followers dared not to surmise of poor young H. that a principle of spiritual life existed within, lying dormant thus from year to year. Yet so it was: I had the story from himself, that the first motions of that divine vegetation arose in his soul without the intervention of any other means than a vague and confused recollection of what he had heard in very early life. It was in the midst of as busy and bustling a throng as ever had congregated around him that these thoughts stole over his mind, gradually absorbing it to such an extent, that the forms which flitted past him were but as the shadows of clouds, and their merry or earnest voices as the murmur of running streams to the contemplative recluse. Hours had thus elapsed, ere he became sensible of their flight; and he hastened into retirement with feelings incomprehensible to himself, there to brood over the sweet and awful theme. His experience was even from this moment a remarkably happy one: convictions he had, deep and powerful, of indwelling and of actual sin: but the manifestation of redeeming love was too vivid for the long continuance of any cloud. Fruits soon appeared, extraordinary enough in the sight of his ignorant companions, but passed over by them as the effect of momentary caprice. After a while, however, the Lord, who was thus mightily working in and for him, directed his removal, even in point of professional
avocations, from among the ungodly, and placed him in the midst of those who knew and feared His name. Until then, H. had made no open profession, and it was a matter of painful conjecture with his new associates, and of profane jests and foolish bets with the old, as to how he would appear in this situation. A very little time sufficed to delight the one party as much as the others were astonished and chagrined. If ever a young man boldly professed the name of Christ, and beautifully adorned his doctrine, such a man was H. Rooted and grounded in the faith, he stood, a tree of the Lord's planting, bearing fruit abundantly, that he might be glorified. I may speak freely of the departed, and H. is gone to his rest: I never beheld more vigorous growth than in him: or a richer adorning of those gifts and graces which the Lord alone can beStow. Unquestionably there is a blessing connected with the steady observance of family religion, far greater and more extensive than our unbelief is willing to admit. I could fill a volume with the brief enumeration of instances coming within my own knowledge, and I do verily think that the Lord conceals from us many a work of grace in the souls of our dearest connexions, because of our slowness of heart to believe the immutability of His exceeding great and precious promises. It is very generally allowed that the miracles of healing performed on diseased bodies by the blessed. Jesus were typical of what He is ever waiting to do for our sin-sick souls. We often find the leper, the blind Bartimeus, and the Syro-phenician woman, brought forward with striking commentaries, as furnishing invaluable encouragement to come, and be saved: but I think we are not equally willing to lay hold on the case of the man whose friends let him down through the roof–of the centurion so successfully pleading on behalf of his sick servant, and of the father who brought his poor possessed child to the Saviour immediately after His transfiguration. All these are told with such emphasis of application—why do we so overlook them 2 The last-named instance is peculiarly forcible: does not conscience tell us that we are very much in the habit of bringing our unconverted friends before the Lord with an “If thou canst” 2. It is not that we doubt his power abstractedly: but I, for one, often detect myself meddling in matters too high for me, by putting forward at such times, the secret decrees of electing sovereignty; so that by musing whether such a soul be of the number of the elect, I have virtually put that treacherous “If thou canst” between me and my prayer. God, says this specious sort of unbelief, may have so bound himself by his own eternal decree, that this soul does not come within the number who shall be saved. Away with such daring perversion of a glorious truth ! And oh, that we heeded more the impressive, the invaluable, the heart-strengthening reproof–" If thou canst beliere:–all things are possible to him that believeth.” And where, all the while was the subject of this momentous dialogue 2 Why, he “wallowed foaming:” in the very grasp, under the fiercest dominion of the devil. “But this was a child.” Be it so : he was no child to whom, when his friends brought him, and let him down in the midst before Jesus the Saviour “seeing their faith, said unto him, Son, be of good cheer, thy sins are forgiven thee.” Of course, no thinking Christian will suppose that I am verging to the popish doctrine of saintly mediation, based on the merits of the mediating saints, but this is the simple fact—God works by means; and your earnest believing prayers for your friend are as much an appointed means as any that you can name. In using those means, according to that appointment, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt? “Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst.” cries the leper, and the answer is sweetly given for every leprous soul that shall, to the end of time, come to the Healer—“I will.” “If thou canst do any thing, have compassion on us and help us,” says the doubting father, interceding for his child: and in like manner comes the meet reply for every hesitating intercessor, “If thou canst believe: all things are possible to him that believeth.” I may well be pardoned the repetition: we require to have these words hammered into us, until they extort the bitter, self-convicted cry, “Help thou mine unbelief!” Doubting Christians ! there is many a soul in glory, brought to its threshold
through the appointed means of your secret supplications, concerning which you are now in heaviness, because this word of the Lord not being mixed with faith in you, He could not do his mighty work openly. It is done, nevertheless; and if you would struggle for a little more belies, you would perchance see more, even now, of the glory of God, in reference to your buried brother. I am no theorist in this matter: I write what I do know. The old oak-stump furnishes one of those trivial incidents of by-gone days on which faith can lay hold, and appropriate it. I sometimes see individuals placed in situations as unpromising as the dry block in the kitchen, or H. in a riotous party, concerning whom I am encouraged to ask, May not these, like Aaron's rod, be ordained to blossom and bud, and to be laid up in the heavenly sanctuary for a testimony ? Then I am induced to pray accordingly; and perhaps I see the individual no more in this world, nor ever hear of him again: but such wayside prayers are not always lost. If we rightly considered who prompts every real supplication that ascends from the believer's heart, we should fear to question the issue: but there is evidently among us a great dread of believing too much, even of the love and faithfulness of our covenant God. Does this meet the eye of a wife whose soul is in heaviness because the beloved of her heart is paralytic—destitute of spiritual power? Of a mother weeping over her son, possessed of a devil, internally deaf and dumb 2 Of a sister, who lies lamenting at Jesus' feet, because her dear brother is still sleeping in death, and bound in his grave clothes 2 Of a daughter, whose father is sick in the world's fever, and cannot wake from the region of its delirious dreams? Oh that I could show you Him who, ever living to Rake intercession, waits but till you vigorously lay hold on His own true word—“all things are possible to him that believeth”—to give you exceedingly abundantly above all that you ask or think. Paul was refused, when he petitioned to have the thorn in his own flesh removed; but in which of his glowing intercession for others do we trace the shadow of our own ifs and buts 7 It is most true that we are not of ourselves sufficient to think, or to ask any thing as of ourselves: but the
very fact of being drawn out to pray for king, with reluctant anguish of spirit, rethose dear to us, is a token that a migh- nouncing the very principles that placed
tier power is working within: and we his family on the British throne.
ought not to restrain it, or to check the filial that are past ! what retrospect can I take, petition with ignorant surmises as to what that will not fill me with shame and consu
may be the will of God.
“Oh that Ish- sion of face on behalf of my besotted
mael might live before Thee!” cried country—made drunk, indeed, as it was, the other on Westmoreland Street, while the royal mandate for the admission of
Abraham, when the full tide of divine promise was flowing towards Isaac. “And as for Ishmael H have heard thee,” was the gracious reply. God has more blessings to bestow than we can muster claims to put in. Let us not impute niggardliness to Him who when He ascended up on high, leading captivity captive, received gifts for men, even for the rebellious, that the Lord God might dwell among them.
CHAPTE R X.
By how trivial an event is the strong current of thought sometimes turned out of the smooth channel wherein it is peacefully flowing, into some other, through which it is compelled to hurry on, like a foaming torrent dashing its troubled waters against rock and stone, or murmuring through shades of darkness and dismay ! This is my present case: I was preparing to think on paper, and think 1 cannot, just now, on any other topic than the one brought before me. A dear little lad, who well knows the habitual bent of my feelings, came to me in breathless haste to exhibit a prize that he had secured while making some purchase at a toyshop—it was a farthing, displaying in high preservation the effigies of William and Mary; and on the reverse, the Irish harp: bearing date 1693. And this, thought I, as I gazed on the simple relic, this is the 13th of April, 1836, the seventh anniversary of that day when a king of the house of Hanover put his royal hand to the act of undoing what this humble coin commemorates' A day, indeed, this is to be remembered but not with joy: an event that showed the most undaunted warrior of the age yielding to intimidation, the most consummate statesman of his time egregiously outwitted, and a Protestant
with the wine of the wrath of that cup which the great harlot fills for the destruction of all who approach her I will not dwell upon the period itself, when with prayers and tears, and fastings, I besought the Lord, night and day, to avert from my loved country the guilt of this alliance with his anti-Christian foe. Conscience bears me witness, that in every possible way before God and man I recorded the solemn PRotest which, though weighing but as a grain of sand in the mountainous bulk of divided opinions, was yet both a secret sigh and an open cry against the abomination that was done.* I will not recount my thoughts and feelings, when, on St. George's festival following, the name-day of the reigning king, the day when the fatal new law first came actively into operation, I found mysels right opposite the royal standard of England, displayed in honour of the Sovereign, on the rampart of a great national military establishment, its gorgeous ‘silken folds hanging listlessly down the flag-staff; and poor Erin's pictured harp actually resting on the ground. I stood and wept in the bitterness of national feeling; until a sudden breeze arose unfolding what was once
Our glorious semper eadem, the banner of our pride.
and as the magnificent breadth of that banner was flung to the playful winds, I turned away with one word only bursting from my lips—“Ichabod–Ichabod" But the effigies of William and Mary have sent me farther back, to the days of my sojourn in the great battle-field of Protestantism, Ireland. In the metropolis of that country there is one spot of rare, and, in the estimation of many, unparalleled architectural beauty. It is that where the spectator stands facing Carlisle Bridge, the Dublin University on his right hand; a little in advance to the left, that splendid structure over the Senate House, now the National Bank of Ireland, with its two fronts, the one looking on College Green,
vol. II. 33
* See Ezekiel in.
the gracefully rounded sweep, destitute of any sharp angle, rather unites than divides those spacious openings. Onward across the bridge, towers the monumental pillar of Nelson, surmounted by his statue, which marks the centre of Sackville Street, a noble continuation of that of Westmore land. This like of buildings is one of the most simply grand, in width and uniformity of any in Europe. It terminates in the great Rotunda, behind which arises the trees of Rutland Square. To the spectator yet standing before the dark walls of the University, the prospect described lies straight forward: but if he turn his eye to the left he beholds a very handsome, open space, known as College Green, though paved and flagged according to the general style of the city; the Bank forming one side of it, and dwelling houses bounding the other. Here, midway between and nearly equidistant from him, the citizens of Dublin placed, in the year 1701, a splendid equestrian statue of their royal deliverer, William of Orange. . The figure, colossal in size, and executed with great beauty and spirit, has stood for nearly a century and a half, universally allowed to be the ornament of the city: while from year to year the inhabitants have been acoustomed to form in procession, marching around it with music and banners, in commemoration of the happy event achieved by William's instrumentality; Roman Catholics cheerfully uniting with their Protestant neighbours, until the wily movers of slumbering disaffection interposed to dissuade them from concurring in the celebration of what they are pleased to term the triumph of heresy. Among the visions of by-gone days, how vivid were those that would crowd on my view, when slowly pacing that remarkable spot, I have glanced from the light and exquisitely finished building that once contained the stormy parliament, to the sombre and plain, yet stately edifice of Trinity College—famous in Irish annals for the stern intrepidity wherewith its inmates withstood alike the fraudulent devices and despotic decrees of James and his unprincipled minion Tyrconnel. The archives of that college contain a noble testimony to their fidelity, resisting
Green, and defending their Protestantism even to the point of forcible ejection by the soldiers of their treacherous prince: who seized their property, plundered their college, converted their chapel into a magazine, and their chambers into prisons. Again, I have looked toward the Liffey, crowded with shipping up to Carlisle Bridge; and have fancied the scene of anguish, when, terrified at the departure of Lord Clarendon, and the growing power of Tyrconnel, no less than fifteen hundred families of Dublin Protestants, forsaking their homes and property, embarked together at that port; accompanying the displaced governor, who had resigned the sword of state, no longer available in his hand, into that of Tyrconnel. Dark and fearful was the succession of events which deluged Ireland in the blood of her people, rendering her green surface one wide stage for the direful tragedies of civil war, during the reign of Popish violence; until, in the fixed resolution of terminating the unnatural struggle, our Protestant William landed on her shores, and wrought, under God, the deliverance of his people. I could not but turn, with deep emotion, to the speaking memento of that people's gratitude, raised on the spot by hands that had long hung down in despondency, had drooped in exile, and been wrung in hopeless sorrow for the many loved ones sacrificed in vain. The statue told me of a joyous scene: of returning fugitives, re-united households, and the balm of reviving charity dropping into wounds that rankled with bigoted hate. To that event I traced the gradual dawning of hope on the benighted population: by it the word of God was preserved in the land, and the temples of a pure worship hedged round with security, reserved for the kindling of holy fire upon their altars when light should indeed arise upon the church, and the glory of the Lord be seen upon her. That memorial is gone; the hand of ruffian violence, guided by the principle of implacable hatred against Protestantism, has perpetrated a deed at which civilization may blush. By cowardice and treachery, under cover of night, the beautiful monument has been destroyed. An act it is worthy to be chronicled together