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SKETCH OF THE MISSION TO CARLOW.
affording an edifying example in their own persons. This they accordingly did, to the intense delight of Father Mathew, who kissed each postulant on the cheek, and presented him with a silver medal. A respectable clergyman, who was then one of the students of the college, has furnished the author with an interesting sketch of this mission to Carlow, from which the following extracts are made:
Whilst successive congregations filled the cathedral at intervals during each day, the late Most Rev. Dr. Healey, Bishop of the dioceses of Kildare and Leighlin, was in almost constant attendance as a spectator, whilst he seemed truly anxious in every way to promote the success of the good Father's mission. Although the pious missionary frequently disclaimed all pretensions to the possession of supernatural or miraculous powers, yet such was the faith and fervour of the peasantry, that many afflicted with various diseases felt desirous of receiving the pledge at his hands, and of obtaining his benediction, in confident expectation that they would experience instant relief and a permanent cure. In very many instances, by a sort of preternatural effort, criples were seen casting away their staves and crutches, as no longer needful, whilst they walked erect, or nearly so, to the great astonishment of all present, Protestants as well as Catholics. In those instances, pious ejaculations resounded through the cathedral, both from the afflicted patients themselves and from the crowds that flocked around them, within and without the sacred building. For any restoration of this kind, Father Mathew invariably requested the people to give all praise and glory to God, under whom he was an unworthy instrument, permitted to exercise the duties of a holy ministry, and to effect only what he believed to be a great social reformation.
All day on Tuesday, the crowds pouring into the cathedral were in no manner diminished, and the sun went down without the slightest interruption to the immense mental and physical exertions of Father Mathew.
At an early hour on Wednesday he was similarly employed; but his engagements elsewhere obliged him to leave by the midday coach, which awaited his arrival on the Dublin road. The good Father sent his luggage forward, and remained himself in the cathedral to the last possible moment, when he told the people he must absolutely leave, but he promised that he would take the first available opportunity to return again and resume the labours of his abundant harvest in Carlow. The coach had been already delayed beyond its time, and Father Mathew, with a hurried grasp of the hand to a few of the numerous friends about him, and a courteous adieu waved to others, ran through the college park by the nearest route to his destination. Groups of men had contrived to scale the college walls, and these threw themselves on their knees before him, asking to take the pledge before he should leave. In breathless haste, it was administered in a number of instances, and whilst he was in rapid motion across the park. Others, again, had passed round the road to the coach, where a great multitude of men, women, and children were collected. It was utterly impossible to comply with their urgent requests to be enrolled, as the coach-driver was obliged to ply his whip with vigour, to make good his time between the intermediate stages to his ultimate destination.
On Friday, July 10, 1840, the Marquis of Westmeath asked a question in the House of Lords, which elicited valuable testimony in favour of the temperance movement. He called attention to what he termed a proclamation' which had been issued by the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland (Lord Ebrington), in which this passage occurred :—
'To the benefit which the temperance pledge has conferred upon Ireland, in the improved habits of the people, and the diminution of outrage, his Excellency bears a willing and grateful testimony.' He desired to learn whether this proclamation was authentic or not.
The Marquis of Normanby could give no official answer on the subject but he would say, from all the information which he had received with respect to the movement then going on in Ireland, he was convinced that a most beneficial change had been effected amongst the people by the pledge.
The Earl of Devon said that, so far as he had an opportunity of judging, a great and substantial good had been done. 'I believe (continued the noble earl) that it has been effected by perfectly legitimate means and legitimate exertions, and that it is as little connected with fanaticism, with party, or with appeals to religious feelings of a peculiar character, as could be imagined. I have myself heard Father Mathew address the people; and his manner is such as any noble lord who hears me might adopt in addressing a public body in support of such an object. It is, I conceive, pessimi exempli to speak in reproachful terms of that which has been productive of very great good.'
The Earl of Wicklow thought that the temperance societies were calculated to effect much good; and the individual who had devoted himself to the furtherance of the temperance movement deserved the greatest praise for what he was doing.
Other Valuable Testimonies-The Marquis of Lansdowne-The Duke of Devonshire-The Traveller Kohl-Mrs. S. C. Hall-Father Mathew's Despondency-Dean Coll's Consolation-Stopping the Royal Mail.
DURING the year 1840, Father Mathew received the most flattering and consolatory expressions of approval from some of the foremost men of the day; for, in spite of the triumphant nature of his progress, and the love and admiration of the people, he was occasionally depressed by some sneer, taunt, or false accusation, wantonly or maliciously levelled at the society, its principles, its practice, or its usefulness. Such testimonies, then, as the following from the Marquis of Lansdowne, which awaited him in Cork, on his return from an arduous campaign, were like sunlight to his soul. If he were easily depressed-we do not by any means say daunted-he was easily cheered and encouraged,
LETTER OF THE MARQUIS OF LANSDOWNE.
101 He had plenty of courage, both moral and physical, and no lack of self-will-even a strong tinge of obstinacy; but he possessed the sensitive heart of a woman, and a susceptibility that at times became morbid in its intensity. He took great pride in the letter which we now quote. This letter was personally handed by the noble writer to Mr. Donnelly, who acted as one of the secretaries in charge of the temperance register and other books.
Donnelly was on this day enjoying unusual idleness, it being generally known that Father Mathew was absent, and was not to return for some days. There was no one in the little parlour save the book-keeper, when a quiet-looking, neatly-dressed, elderly gentleman entered the apartment, and, taking a seat near the window, fell into pleasant conversation with its idle occupant. He asked him a variety of questions, as to the progress of the cause, the number on the roll, and the effects already produced; and made special enquiries as to the labours and charities, as well as the daily life, of Father Mathew; all of which questions were frankly and unreservedly answered. The quiet-looking and kindly-spoken gentleman appeared much pleased at the information afforded him, and, on rising to take his leave, he handed his card to Donnelly, requesting him to present it to Father Mathew. Donnelly looked at the card, and was struck of a heap,' as he said, at having treated a great nobleman as if he were 'nobody at all;' and he stammered out an apology for his apparent want of respect. 'Not at all, my good sir,' said the marquis; 'you owe me no apology whatever; you have nothing to blame yourself for; you answered all my questions freely and satisfactorily; and perhaps had you been told who I was, I might not have learned as much as I am happy to know.' The marquis then left the house; but he had not gone ten steps from the door, when he turned back, and, drawing a letter, which he had ready in the breast-pocket of his coat, he handed it to Donnelly, saying: Give that to Father Mathew, with the Marquis of Lansdowne's kindest wishes.' This was the letter:
Cork: Sept. 15, 1840.
REV. SIR, I am near the conclusion of a journey through a considerable portion of the south of Ireland, in the course of which I have myself had, everywhere, repeated occasion to observe a most remarkable change for the better in the appearance of the population, and to be assured by others on whom I could rely of an equally manifest improvement in their character and conduct, produced by the extraordinary success of your unremitting endeavour to introduce amongst them confirmed habits of temperance and self-control.
I had hoped to have had an opportunity, at this place, of expressing to you personally the deep sense I entertain, both as an Irish proprietor and a public servant, of the value of your exertions, obviously conducive, as they must prove under all circumstances, to the maintenance of peace and order, and, to a greater development than could by any other means be attained, of every social virtue. Your temporary absence from home has alone prevented my doing so, and I trust
I may be permitted to take the only method in my power of recording these sentiments in a mode that may not be disagreeable to you, by enclosing a draft for 100%., and requesting the favour of you to apply it to the use of any one of the institutions for the benefit of your poorer countrymen in which you take an interest, and which, in your judgment, stands most in need of pecuniary assistance.—I am, rev. sir, with sincere respect, your obedient servant,
Rev. T. Mathew.
The writer of the above kindly letter is now no more, having died in the early part of 1863, at the venerable age of 82 years.
Among the other distinguished personages who sought the acquaintance of Father Mathew about this time, was the late Duke of Devonshire, a nobleman of princely character, and one of the best and kindest of the landlords of Ireland, in which country he possessed vast estates. The duke, who was then stopping at the Imperial Hotel, in Cork, wrote a courteous letter to Father Mathew, requesting that he would honour him by a visit. Father Mathew at once availed himself of the invitation, and waited on his grace, who received him with every mark of respect. The interview was equally agreeable to both, and was the commencement of a friendship which was sincere and earnest to the last. The duke, who was every inch a gentleman-a gentleman whose courtesy and kindness sprang from goodness of heart-was charmed with Father Mathew. He admired him particularly for his disinterestedness in embarking in an undertaking which he knew must entail injury upon his own family, whose interests he sacrificed to the public good. Having seen and spoken with the temperance leader, the duke no longer wondered at the influence which he exercised, or the success which he had achieved. He said he found him to be a man of such divine countenance, and of a manner so marvellously winning, that he could now easily understand how the people were moved, as by an impulse, to fall down before him. The impression produced upon the duke by this interview was communicated to the writer by a gentleman intimately connected with his grace, and who was present on the occasion.
The descriptions given of Father Mathew at this period of his life were sometimes both felicitous and accurate. Perhaps that written by the Russian traveller Kohl is among the best. It is in these words :
He is decidedly a man of a distinguished appearance, and I was not long in comprehending the influence which it was in his power to exercise over the people. The multitude require a handsome and imposing person in the individual who is to lead them, and Father Mathew is unquestionably handsome. He is not tall; he is about the same height and figure as Napoleon, and is, throughout, well built and well proportioned. He has nothing of the meagre, haggard Franciscan monk about him; but, on the contrary, without being exactly corpulent, his figure is well rounded, and in excellent condition. His countenance is fresh and beaming with health. His movements and address are simple and unaffected, and altogether he has something about him that wins for him the goodwill of those he addresses. His features are regular, and full of noble expression, of
KOHL-MRS. S. C. HALL.
mildness and indomitable firmness. His eyes are large, and he is apt to keep his glance fixed for a long time on the same object. His forehead is straight, high, and commanding, and his nose-a part of the face which in some expresses such intense vulgarity, and in others so much nobleness and delicacy is particularly handsome, though somewhat too aquiline. His mouth is small and well proportioned, and his chin round, projecting, firm, and large, like Napoleon's.
Mrs. S. C. Hall, who enjoyed his intimate friendship, presents him in his moral as well as his physical aspect :
The expression of his countenance is peculiarly mild and gracious. His manner is persuasive to a degree, simple, and easy and humble, without a shadow of affectation, and his voice is low and musical, such as moves men. A man more naturally fitted to obtain influence over a people easily led, and proverbially swayed by the affections, we have never encountered. No man has borne his honours more meekly, encountered opposition with greater gentleness or forbearance, or disarmed hostility by weapons better suited to a Christian.
Occasionally the despondency, which was somewhat constitutional with Father Mathew, was displayed in a manner sufficiently marked to excite the attention of his audience. His address in Limerick, in the October of 1841, partook largely of the gloom that for the moment seemed to pervade his mind. It may have been the necessary consequence of the tremendous labour of mind and body to which he was at the time exposed, it being then in the very whirl and rush of the movement, to which each day imparted additional strength and velocity; or it may have arisen from the slighting remarks of some anonymous opponent, or the venomous sneers of some malicious caviller. The passage quoted will indicate the irritation under which
it was spoken
But though, in becoming a teetotaller, the individual taking the pledge becomes a new man-though he has ideas of self-respect, and decorum, and propriety which he had not experienced before, and though he is no longer the reckless and improvident character he had been, yet I must say there are persons who expect too much from teetotallers, and who think that they should all be perfect. Their faults are magnified, whilst their virtues are shaded; the lapses they make are invested with attributes that do not belong to them, whilst the good they do is never taken into consideration. It is thought by those who are thus severe upon the teetotallers, that human nature does not belong to humble life; but I say that the cabin beneath whose lowly roof it is supposed no human sentiment is cherished, covers as much of the workings of the heart as yonder proud mansion that graces and adorns the banks of your majestic Shannon. Î have been blamed for many matters connected with the Temperance Society, for which I think no blame should be attributed to me, or to those who are blamed with me. I cannot express the sentiment of sovereign contempt which I entertain for those who thus betray the feelings that agitate them. Some of them raise the cry; and the least vice they themselves have is their utter want of every virtue. Some others say that I should prevent females to attend soirées, while their own daughters and wives, perhaps, mingle in the crowded ball-room, and whirl in the maze of the profane waltz. Some say that I should prevent persons to sit in their temperance rooms and enjoy each other's society in that respect; while they