Page images
[ocr errors]

take the pledge, for had the rest of the world been like him, there would have been no necessity for total abstinence; but Father Mathew liked and respected the amiable and kindly Quaker, and longed to invest him with a silver medal. Father Mathew took every opportunity of working on Abraham's susceptible feelings, and Abraham was much inclined to yield; but when this alarming state of things became known to his friends, through casual observations which he let fall, as to people being bound to afford an example to their weaker brethren,' and 'to make a sacrifice of their own inclinations for the public good,' they took him resolutely into their own hands, and watched over him, as one would over a pet pigeon when a hawk was on the wing. On the day of the Water Party at Blarney, Father Mathew was several times seen in dangerous propinquity to Abraham, who was much impressed by the proceedings of the open-air meeting; but his vigilant friends were constantly on the watch, and ready to interpose and effect a diversion, when strategy became necessary. Indeed, at one moment, things had gone to such a length, that Abraham was within a hair's breadth of enrolment, when one of his guards, rendered desperate by the prospect of losing the very life and soul of their pleasant society, boldly dashed in between the moral mesmeriser and his victim, saying, 'No, Father Mathew, Abraham Abel does not require the pledge: there is not a more temperate man living. You have sufficient in your society, and you will have many more; but we can't afford to lose him-we can't let you have our Abraham. Boys, to the rescue!' Poor Abraham fluttered back to the protection of the Antiquaries. But Father Mathew turned away in high dudgeon, and it was not for many months after that he quite forgave the uncalledfor interference' which robbed him of one who would have followed such a leader with the most devoted enthusiasm.

Few, indeed, of that cheerful band are now left. The Quaker, the Librarian, and the Parish Priest of Blarney, have all passed away, as well as the Apostle of Temperance; and those who survive are advancing far into the vale of years.

Father Mat died on the 1st of March 1849, in the seventy-third year of his age, and the forty-sixth of his ministry, thirty-four of which he devoted to the duties of parish priest of Blarney and Whitechurch. At his death a sum of three shillings was found after him, as his sole earthly possession. It was his wish to be buried in his beloved Round Tower, and he left elaborate directions for this ceremonial; but the wish was disregarded, and he reposes at the foot of the altar at which he long and faithfully ministered. His friend Mr. Windele, when lately editing a metrical legend written by Father Mat in Irish, and translated by Edward Kenealy, thus truly describes the good old




Although humble and unpretending, with a character of great simplicity and naïveté, he was no ordinary man, and whilst he lived filled a great space in the affectionate regards of a large and discriminating public; truly was he a man to all the country dear.' One more racy of the soil and more singularly lovable seldom existed; a warm and sincere patriot, an enlightened friend of civil and religious liberty, he was an advocate of whatever tended to advance and benefit his country and promote the welfare of the people. He was foremost in every movement calculated to better their condition. Although no teetotaller, for his genial and hospitable nature would not suffer him to shackle his social tendencies, yet no man advocated the cause of temperance more earnestly. He preceded his flock in every procession, lectured the people in their places of assembly, and was foremost in their soirées and réunions, addressing and encouraging them. In all their innocent gaieties and amusements he participated. No man better knew or understood the dulce est desipere in loco.' His hospitality was unbounded and almost indiscriminate. His doors were ever open to his friends without distinction of sect or party, and his reputation procured him the visits of many of the celebrities who from time to time visited his world-renowned neighbourhood of Blarney.

In the same pages Mr. Windele touches off with quiet humour the character and habits of his lost friend Abraham Abel, who died on the 12th of February 1851, in the sixty-eighth year of his age. The following, however, will suffice to exhibit some of the harmless peculiarities of the innocent mortal whom Father Mathew so earnestly desired to secure as a follower:

His toilet was peculiar. He commenced by cleaning his own boots and shoes, performing the operation in a condition of entire nudity. Then he sponged and brushed his body, after which, ascending an isolated stool, he threw in as much electricity, by the friction of a silk handkerchief on the heels, as sufficed for the day.

Occasionally he fasted the whole twenty-four hours to keep down corpulency, to which he had no tendency; but his father had been a remarkably obese man. On one occasion his left arm vexed him by evincing rheumatic symptoms, and he determined to chastise the insubordinate limb. He said the fellow was a sinecurist and waxed wanton, whereupon he made him work, imposing the duties of brushing clothes, shoes, &c., until he found the beneficial consequences. When in business he sometimes sat at his desk with a cat at either side of him, and frequently with a favourite tom-cat on his back; their friendly purring, he would say, made a cheerful music to soothe him in his labours.

Beautiful is Killarney at all times, under all circumstances, and at all seasons of the year. Beautiful, when the glittering peaks of the snow-clad mountains rise above the brown woods that clothe their rugged sides. Beautiful, when the tender green of early summer softens the stern aspect of those guardian giants, beneath whose shadow sleep the lovely lakes. Beautiful, when autumn flings its varied hues over the foliage of that favoured spot. Beautiful, when not a breath of air stirs the leaf, and the water resembles an unbroken mirror, in which every charm is doubled by reflection. Beautiful, when the surface of the Lower Lake reminds one of an inland sea, and the waves roll and pitch, and the white horse exhibits its angry crest; for then

the wind-driven clouds fling their changing shadows over land and water, mountain and lake, tree and shrub, thus producing a succession of effects such as delight the eye of the beholder, but baffle the utmost art of the painter to reproduce on canvas. Even when the rain descends in torrents, and volumes of mist shroud the lofty Toomies or the jagged Reeks, and float along like mighty spectres-even then this region of beauty is not divested of charms. But it is when the storm has passed, and the blue sky looks out from the riven clouds, and the sun flings a slanting beam over the mountain side, lighting up the moistened leaves till they glisten like emeralds, and the waters catch a stray sparkle, that the witchery of Killarney is most potent; for then the torrent dashes and foams over its stony bed, the cascade springs from its rocky ledge in mightier strength and with bolder leap, and every hill side is musical with the murmur and the gush of tiny rivulets. Killarney is then as a beautiful but passionate woman after the storm of emotion has passed over her fair brow, and tears still glisten in her eyes, veiling the brightness of her glance.

Such was the day, in June 1844, when a grand excursion on the lakes was given in honour of Father Mathew, who, amongst his other miracles, had worked a complete moral reformation in Paddy Blake's Echo. Fortunate was the tourist who beheld the gay flotilla leave the pier at Ross Castle, and shoot out into the waters of the Lower Lake, amidst joyous shouts and strains of music. Banners of silk floated from bow and stern of each of the boats of the little fleet which accompanied the stately eight-oared barge of the Church Street Society, in the stern-sheets of which Father Mathew was seated. There were gentlemen with the Apostle, who, residents of the locality, could fittingly introduce him to every fairy islet and enchanting bay, and pour into his ear the legends with which each spot was deathlessly associated. The fleet first steered for 'Sweet Innisfallen,' the loveliest isle that gems the Lower Lake; and, landing, the party roamed over its velvet turf, and enjoyed from various points unrivalled glimpses of the glorious panorama. Embarking again, the joyous company were borne across the lake to Glena Bay; where, when the waters are at rest, they sleep most calmly, and where the arbutus assumes its brightest tint. Round by Dinas Island steered the flotilla, which then entered Torc Lake, deemed by many the loveliest of the sister lakes. The band was unusually good; but no language could give an idea of the magical effect of its music, as the boats slowly glided by those spots consecrated to Echo. The sounds were caught up by the spirit of the mountain, and were given back upon the enchanted ear from different points, in murmurs faint and more faint until melody expired in the sweetest sigh that ever reached the ear of mortal. And what thunders the peals of the great drum awakened amid the mountains!




From hill to hill, from peak to peak, the sounds crashed like volleys of artillery, as if a hundred guns had been hurling their iron rain upon an enemy. After paying a visit to 'O'Donoghue's Wine Vaults,' and casting a pitying glance at the wave-washed semblance of the enchanted butler, the party quitted Torc Lake, and again rowed out on the island-studded bosom of the Lower Lake. It had rained occasionally during the day, with sufficient intervals of bright weather to allow of Father Mathew visiting many places storied in wild legend, or charming for their intrinsic beauty. But just as the boats were well out of Glena Bay, the rain burst from the clouds which had been gradually enveloping the mountains as in a shroud, and poured down in a glorious deluge. Fortunately, however, the capriciousness of the spirit of the mountain and lake had been calculated upon, and precautions had been abundantly taken; otherwise the excursion might have partaken too much of the character of a genuine water party. About six o'clock, the boats reached Castle Loch, a ruin-crowned promontory, the extreme point of the demesne of Denis Shine Lalor, who then resided in a mansion which has since been converted into the Castle Loch Hotel, and who was on this occasion the hospitable entertainer of Father Mathew and a numerous company.

At another time a grand entertainment was given to Father Mathew on the Island of Innisfallen. Here, indeed, the Apostle of Temperance might be supposed to have enough of water; it surrounded him on every side, and no beverage sparkled on the board save that which sprang from its home in the mountain. A stag-hunt was also arranged for his gratification; but, though the music of the hounds, as it swelled in sublime chorus, or was faintly heard from the depth of a lone valley, was a glorious treat for those who heard it for the first time, Father Mathew was not happy so long as the chase lasted, and only enjoyed real pleasure when the gallant stag plunged into the lake, and was saved from the fangs of the hounds. The stag was not the first, as William Martin might have remarked, that saved himself by 'taking to the cold water.'

In no part of Ireland was the triumph of the Temperance Leader more complete than in this region of lake and mountain, as many a tourist has had good reason to appreciate since then. And nowhere did temperance produce a more striking effect upon the manners and habits of a class than upon the sturdy boatmen of Killarney. 'I was

[ocr errors]

pleased,' said an English lady, speaking of a visit to Killarney, in 1862, to find that our boatmen and our guides were all teetotallers, and to learn from them, that the greater number of their class practically remembered their great benefactor.'



The Riots in Philadelphia-Promises to visit America—The Temperance
Institute--The Oratorical Catastrophe Old Dan Tucker'--The Mes-
merist- Boo-boo--boo !'-The Tipperary Men-The Crowning In-
dignity-His Reception of the Fugitive Slave.

In the following letter, Father Mathew gave expression to the horror with which he read the accounts of the terrible riots in Philadelphia, of which his fellow-countrymen and co-religionists were the principal victims :

Cork: June 4, 1844.

MY DEAR FRIEND,-Your very kind letter found me reading, my eyes suffused with tears, the fearful accounts from Philadelphia.

[ocr errors]

The name of that polluted city should be Aceldama. Blessed Jesus! whose dying legacy was peace, peace-whose darling precept was 'My dear little children, love one another,' can such deeds of horror be perpetrated by Thy followers, Thy eternal Gospel in their hands? Horror congeals my blood, my heart dies within me, at the fearful details from bloodstained Philadelphia. By this,' says our Divine Redeemer, shall all men know you are my disciples, that you love one another.' Delightful words! Though repeated a thousand and a thousand times, they must still charm every humane, every Christian breast. We may apply the words of holy Job to the day and night, when the cry of brother's blood, and the smoke of the burning temple of the living God, ascended to Heaven: Let that day be turned into darkness; let a darksome whirlwind seize upon that night; let them not be numbered in the months.' If fraternal charity, if civil and religious liberty have resting-places upon earth, these should be the breasts of the citizens of America. Well may the mighty population of the States exclaim that there was never such a thing done in Israel, from the days that our fathers came up out of Egypt, until this day;' and all your Israel, from Dan even to Beersheba, should gather together as one man, and vindicate yourselves before the nations of the earth, and solemnly covenant, to secure for evermore, within the boundless extent of your once envied Union, the rights, property, and lives of men. O, Philadelphia, thou city of brotherly love, how art thou


Under existing circumstances, I must postpone for a few months my intended visit to the States, and I feel confident that you will approve of my resolution.

The disappointment is indeed a bitter one; but it would be uncandid of me were I to attribute it solely to the dismal doings at Philadelphia. The claims of my own poor country to another year of my labour had partly determined me to remain in Ireland for that period. I am now firmly resolved to devote the ensuing twelve months to the consolidation of our glorious society in my dear native island, and then, God permitting, the United States will be my destination, where I confidently hope for a continuance of the Divine blessing.

I am, with high respect, my dear Sir, yours sincerely and devotedly,

Thurlow Weed, Esq., Albany.

Father Mathew had always contended that he sought rather to multiply and enhance the pleasures and enjoyments of his followers, than

« PreviousContinue »