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THE QUAKER'S HOTEL.'
places through which he passed; and the impression which was made on their minds added to his reputation as a Christian minister, and enhanced his popularity with the English people. The employers of labour, whether rude or skilled, soon began to appreciate the benefits which his mission conferred on themselves, through the improved habits of their workpeople; and few there were, save the interested or the foolishly-bigoted, who did not wish God-speed to the good work so modestly and unostentatiously performed. Wherever he went, he received the most pressing invitations to take up his residence in the houses of his friends and admirers; but to avoid giving trouble, and also to maintain, as much as possible, his personal freedom, he preferred remaining at hotels.
This determination induced a respected member of the Society of Friends to resort to an ingenious device to obtain the honour of Father Mathew's company during his stay in Wakefield. The Quaker invited him to stay at his house and received the usual reply, that he was to stop at the hotel, for the convenience of those who required to see him at all hours. The Friend would not be put off, but intimated that his house was a hotel, whereon Father Mathew gladly consented to 'put up' at it while in Wakefield. A board with the word 'Hotel' was placed on the outside of the mansion, and the private residence became, for the time, a most comfortable inn. Father Mathew was greatly pleased with the quiet and order, the wonderful neatness and simple elegance that pervaded the entire establishment; while the agreeable manners of its master, which combined the cordiality of a friend with the politeness of the most gentlemanly host, filled him with astonishment. The servants of the house were also different from the usual class to be found in ordinary hotels; they were kindly, attentive, and respectful; and though they seemed to anticipate his every wish, they were neither fussy nor obtrusive. Then the bells of this Quaker hotel were singularly quiet; so that the boots,' and the chambermaids, and the waiters, must have known by intuition when and where their services were required. Truly, it was a model establishment, which a visitor might leave with natural regret. The kindly device was not discovered until the time of departure drew near, when the master of the house, no longer fearing the abrupt departure of his guest, appeared in his true character as a generous and thoughtful host.
Father Mathew's reception in the fine old city of York was not only most flattering, but most significant. A grand procession of the temperance societies from the surrounding districts, accompanied with banners and bands, received him on his arrival, and escorted him through the city to his hotel. The venerable Bishop Briggs-who, in a few years after, displayed such practical sympathy with the starving poor of IrelandLord Stourton, Sir Edward Vavasour, and other distinguished Catholics,
witnessed from the windows of a private residence this public manifestation of respect for the Irish Friar by that vast concourse of people, of various religious creeds, and of strong prejudices—in a city, too, where, as some of the party said, were a Catholic priest to have made a similar entry some years before, he would have been rather roughly treated.
In Leeds his reception was equally gratifying, and his success even more striking. Demonstrations of all kinds were got up in his honour, such as processions, soirées, meetings, and addresses. In one of his speeches in this important place he thus rather humorously vindicated the Temperance Society of Ireland from the charge of being a political body:-
It is imagined in England that the teetotallers of Ireland, as such, have mixed themselves up with the great agitation that at present prevails in that country. Why, to be sure, when nearly all the population have taken the total abstinence pledge, it is not very likely that 300,000 persons could assemble without a few teetotallers being amongst them.
After having made a successful tour of most of the principal places in Lancashire and Yorkshire, Father Mathew visited London, where his services were much required. And here, during several weeks, he underwent an amount of labour which very few men could have gone through with impunity, but for which his missionary labours of the previous three or four years had well prepared him. He commenced his good work in the poorest districts of the metropolis, in which the Irish principally dwelt, and where he was received by his countrypeople with all the enthusiasm which his character, his sacred office, and his nationality excited in a warm-hearted and affectionate race. His success was proportionately great, as was soon evinced in localities which, up to that time, had been the scene of constant brawl and confusion, of stupid quarrel and of savage conflict. Bishop Griffiths and the Catholic clergy lent their willing aid to one who accomplished so much for their flocks, and who, wherever he went, left after him proofs and evidences of his good work, in the improved tone and habits of those who submitted to his influence. But others of a different faith zealously assisted the efforts of the Irish Priest to prosecute a mission which had the good of all for its object.
Nor, during his stay in London, was Father Mathew to be found only in the midst of the poor, appealing to the wretched drunkard to abandon the cause of his misery, and affectionately exhorting those of his own race and country to allow fair play to the many virtues which distinguish them when sober and self-respecting. He was also to be seen in the mansions of the aristocracy, with whom he was a welcome and an honoured guest. It was while London was yet in town,' and he was the lion of the hour. His table was covered with cards and notes of invitation to all kinds of entertainments, including the fashionable breakfast and the late dinner. Father Mathew was as much at
HIS RECEPTION IN LONDON.
181 home in the gilded saloon of the noble as in the modest parlour of a brother priest; so that, if gaucherie or restraint were expected from the Irish Friar in the presence of the great, the mistake was at once apparent; for in ease of manner, and quiet dignity of bearing, few surpassed Theobald Mathew. But there was superadded, in his case, the charm which springs from the purest benevolence and goodness of heart; and this, with the prestige of his world-wide fame, and the thought of the wonderful work which he had accomplished, invested him with extraordinary attraction in the eyes of those who beheld him for the first time, and who were pleased to find in the celebrated Apostle of Temperance a thorough gentleman. By the members of the Catholic aristocracy, at whose houses he visited, he was received with affectionate reverence, due alike to his personal character and sacred profession. To many he had been known before, either personally or as a correspondent; but in every case his welcome was as cordial and sincere, as it was respectful.
The late breakfasts and the late dinners were very trying to him, from the manner in which the hours of almost every day were filled up. He rose, as usual, at an early hour, and invariably celebrated Mass in one of the chapels of the city; after which he was occupied with the poor until half-past ten, the ordinary hour of his fashionable appointment for his first meal. As soon as he could well leave the party that had been invited to meet him, he proceeded to the place fixed for the public meeting of that day, and there he remained, exhorting and administering the pledge, so long as there was a chance of obtaining an additional disciple. He then returned to his hotel, where he wrote letters or received visitors; and at eight, or half-past eight, when the hour for dinner arrived, he generally found a large party, that had been invited to do him honour. His breakfast was invariably but a moderate repast; so that the dinner, which he partook of at this, to him, unseasonable hour, might be said to be his only meal during the entire day. To those who were not aware of the long fast to which he had been subjected, his vigorous appetite must have excited admiration, and probably it was attributed to the beneficial influence of total abstinence. At ten o'clock he contrived to slip away from his grand party; and in his bedroom at his temperance hotel, he concluded the good work of the day, by the devotional exercises which his office prescribed, or which his piety inspired.
If he received encouragement and support, he also met with opposition and insult. In Ireland, from one end of the kingdom to the other, the Apostle of Temperance never received insult or incivility in any instance, even from those whom he injured most. With Protestant and Presbyterian, as with Catholic, the purity of his motive and the benevolence of his character protected him from every attempt at open opposition or personal indignity; but, availing themselves of the
stupid prejudice against the Popish Priest,' which was felt most strongly by the lowest class of their besotted customers, some crafty publicans in Bermondsey, in Westminster, and in other parts of the metropolis, who were afraid of losing their unhappy slaves, organised several attempts to interrupt the proceedings of his meetings, to upset the platform, or to create disturbance and confusion. In some instances, the attempts were successful, and the proceedings were abruptly terminated; in others, the assailants suffered for their folly, having been soundly drubbed by the indignant Irish, who resented the insult to their country and their religion in the person of Father Mathew. The presence of the police at other times kept the publicans, who came on the ground with beer for sale, as well as their noisy and half-drunken myrmidons, in check, and prevented the rioting which had been evidently intended; but on one occasion, where drink had been distributed gratuitously and in abundance by the alarmed sellers of the locality, a mob of drunken 'roughs' was bearing down on the platform with mischievous intent, and Father Mathew was compelled to escape from the back of the platform, where there was a cab in readiness to receive him.
Opposition of this nature had the contrary effect to that which its foolish authors intended; for it excited the indignation of well-thinking people, and made the Irish residents of London more willing to take the pledge, and more resolute in keeping it.
In the account given, in the 'Times,' of one of his visits to Westminster, is the following:
After giving the pledge to the second batch, Father Mathew said that while he was below he had heard one person say to his neighbour, What a shame it was that a Protestant should receive a blessing from a Catholic priest.' Now, since he had been in England, he had everywhere received the blessings of the Protestants, and he was proud of it. If a blessing did them no good, surely it could do them no harm. Since he had been in this country he had got half a million of blessings from the Protestants. He was daily saluted with God bless you, Father Mathew!' 'God speed you, Father Mathew!' and such like earnest expressions. There certainly could be no evil in a blessing, come from whom it would,
A rare Occurrence—A Noble Convert-The Press and the Peerage—
It was a rare circumstance with Father Mathew to hesitate as to giving the pledge to anyone, or to pause to ascertain from the postulant
who knelt before him whether he had fully made up his mind as to the step he was about to take. Marvellous as the fact must have seemed to himself, when he thought of it afterwards, he did hesitate in one instance-perhaps the only one that could be recorded of him. It was on the occasion of his holding a meeting in Golden Lane, Barbican, which was attended by a great concourse of people, chiefly Irish. He had been addressing himself specially to the working classes, and earnestly impressing on them the necessity of renouncing the cause of so much misery; and when, at the conclusion of his address, several hundreds knelt to receive the pledge, Father Mathew, on looking round him, found the future Duke of Norfolk, then Lord Arundel and Surrey, also on his knees. Anxious as he was to obtain so illustrious a 'convert,' Father Mathew was of opinion that the young nobleman had yielded to a sudden impulse, and was about to take the pledge unreflectingly; and, however ardently he desired to add him to the number of his followers, he was apprehensive of the evil which would follow were he to abandon the cause which he impulsively joined. So before administering the pledge to the hundreds who were waiting to take it, he spoke privately to the earl, and asked him if he had given the subject sufficient reflection. 'Ah! Father Mathew,' replied his noble convert, do you not know that I had the happiness to receive Holy Communion from you this morning at the altar of Chelsea Chapel? I have reflected on the promise I am about to make, and I. thank God for the resolution, trusting to the Divine goodness for grace to persevere.' Tears rolled down his cheeks as he uttered these words, with every evidence of genuine emotion. He then repeated the formula of the pledge. Father Mathew embraced him with delight, pronounced a solemn benediction on him and his,' and invested him with the medal which he took from his own neck. This scene was witnessed with the most intense interest by the vast assemblage, by whom the earl was hailed with cheers, as he rose from his knees a disciple of the Apostle of Temperance. The example thus given had the effect of adding many hundreds to the ranks of the society on that day. This act, publicly performed, was regarded by the good and pious nobleman as one of no ordinary gravity; for he long continued faithful to the pledge thus voluntarily taken; and it was not until many years after that, at the imperative command of his medical advisers, he substituted moderation for total abstinence.
Father Mathew's rare self-denial on this almost solitary occasion was amply compensated by his efforts to enlist recruits from the influential ranks or professions. It would be difficult to say whether he prized more, as a convert, a newspaper editor or a peer of the realm. 'Oh!' he exclaimed one day at a meeting in Chelsea, which was attended by several members of the aristocracy and representatives of