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'Perhaps, my dear, you would be good enough to read some pages of an interesting book for me?'-which request was irresistible as a royal command. Thus there were two persons benefited by the reading the listener and the reader.
Father Mathew had extraordinary success as a peace-maker. restore peace in distracted families was the very thing in which he most delighted, as well from the natural prompting of his disposition, as from a sense of religious obligation. His visits under such circumstances were those of an angel. It was impossible to resist the tenderness of his pleading or the earnestness of his importunity; and many a husband and wife had reason to bless his timely interference; and so also had many a parent, to whom the wayward child was restored, in duty and affection, by his persuasive counsels. Generally, he was sent for in cases of the kind; but were he not sent for in a case which had come to his knowledge, he would contrive to make a visit at the right moment; and not even the haughtiest or most self-willed could quarrel with Father Mathew, or feel humiliated by his good offices. I declare, sir,' said a gentleman to his friend, one day in the public street, as Father Mathew left them, 'I believe that man has some extraordinary power about him. I had not the best feeling towards him, on account of something that annoyed me; but, sir, I do assure you, the moment he grasped me by the hand, there was an end to my anger. I can't tell what it is; but if we lived in another age, I should be inclined to say there was magic in it.' 'Would that we had more of such magic and such magicians in these days,' was the answer of his friend.
To be a peace-maker was one thing, but to be a match-maker was quite another. To overtures of every kind which had match-making for their object, he lent a deaf ear. He had no objection to see his young friends happy-quite the contrary; but with the young people themselves, their parents, and their friends, Father Mathew left such matters. Nor were tempting offers wanting-offers which might well shake the firmness of most men. One gentleman offered him a thousand pounds if he brought about a marriage with a lady on whom the gentleman had fixed his-intentions. The offer was declined with good temper.
Doing good everywhere, consulted by rich and applied to by poor promoting every useful or charitable object, possessing the respect and confidence of all creeds and classes in his adopted city-such was Father Mathew, when called upon to assume a new position, and to undertake duties which, while disturbing the entire course of his priestly life, drew him from the even tenor of his missionary career to new scenes, new acquaintances, a new field of action, new labours, and new anxieties.
The House of Industry and its Inmates-The Pioneers of the Cause-
FATHER MATHEW had been for some years one of the Governors of the House of Industry-the Cork Workhouse of those days—in which the poor waifs and strays of society, the wretched and the brokendown, the victims of their own folly, or of the calamities, accidents, and vicissitudes of life, found a miserable home. To a man of his nature, such an assemblage of destitute and helpless human beings was a cause of the truest sympathy, as of constant enquiry and consideration. He possessed the key to open harder hearts and unlock closer breasts than theirs and many a tale of folly and of sin was whispered in his ear in accents of self-reproach, by the miserable inmates of that house. The dilapidated drunkard excited his compassion, but the orphan child of the drunkard made his heart bleed with sorrow. While he saw, in that last of asylums, many a victim of the changing fashions of the day, of industry turned into a new channel, of sickness or decrepitude, he likewise saw in its dismal walls the dupes of their own besotted folly, the slaves of a passion that seemed to be as uncontrollable as it was fatal in its consequences. Here, in this wretched abode, was the worldly ruin which, from the pulpit and in the confessional, he had so often depicted as one of the results of this destructive vice: and in the hospitals, in the jail, in the lunatic asylum, as in the haunts of infamy, he witnessed other phases of the same terrible infatuation.
On the Board of Governors with Father Mathew was one who, himself a convert to the doctrine of total abstinence, never failed to direct his attention to a case more remarkable in its distressing features than another, with the observation- Strong drink is the cause of this.' And having excited the compassionate sympathy of his hearer, he would add, 'Oh, Theobald Mathew! if thou would only give thy aid, much good could be done in this city.'
Long before Father Mathew had the slightest idea of taking any part in the temperance movement, William Martin had made up his mind that Theobald Mathew was, of all others, the man best suited to render it successful.
For some eight or ten years previous to the now recognised commencement of the movement in Ireland, attempts of various kinds had been made in Cork to diminish, if possible, the evils of intemperance,
and bring the working classes of that city to believe in the virtue of sobriety. Among those who were the early and most prominent labourers in the then unpromising field, were the Rev. Nicholas Dunscombe, Richard Dowden, and William Martin. The first was a Protestant clergyman; the second was a distinguished member of the local Unitarian body, remarkable for his broad philanthropy, and his advanced opinions on all questions of social progress and reform; and the third was the honest and earnest Quaker who afterwards gloried in the title of 'Grandfather of the Temperance Cause.' These men, and a few others of inferior note, worked resolutely and bravely, but with comparatively little success. They had not the ear, and therefore found it impossible to reach the heart, of the local community. They were, in the first place, of a different religious persuasion to that of the great bulk of the population; and, in the second place, they preached a doctrine which excited the wonder of some, but the ridicule of more. A few believed, and became converts, and the tiny rivulet swelled in the course of time to larger dimensions; but it never flowed with the strength and volume of a stream. Mr. Dunscombe was earnest, and spoke with all the force of sincerity, but comparatively in vainwith no result adequate to his zeal and his persistent advocacy. Richard Dowden employed every art of the practised orator to enforce his views, or to obtain even a single convert. He now tried what fun, and humour, and comical description could do, and, if that failed, he had recourse to eloquent denunciation and passionate appeal; still the numbers in his society might have been easily counted. William Martin gave his testimony, and essayed his powers of persuasion; but laughter and derision were for years the only apparent result of his well-meant efforts. Now and then, others, including some excellent members of the Society of Friends, spoke in persuasive accents, and made affectionate appeals to audiences more or less incredulous and unsympathising, which were generally drawn together more from curiosity, or perhaps a hope of witnessing some fun,' than from any other motive. Tea parties were occasionally held, and these celebrations attracted many young people, who came rather in search of amusement than with the desire of being instructed or improved. What the pioneers of the movement could do, they did; but notwithstanding the earnestness, the sincerity, and the single-mindedness of its advocates, the doctrine was unpalatable, or it was ridiculed as absurd, or condemned as fanatical, and its practice was regarded, almost generally, as a kind of eccentricity very nearly bordering upon madness. 'Now, moderation-if these people only stopped there is all well in its way, and is commendable rather than otherwise, for we ought to be moderate in the use of the gifts of God; but total abstinence !—why that is the dream of a madman, and a downright flying in the face of Pro
WILLIAM MARTIN'S APPEAL:
vidence.' This is how those who condescended to 'argue' the question delivered themselves of their indignant feelings. There was, besides, a kind of vague suspicion that there was some concealed object, something lurking in the background, in this desire on the part of Protestants to entangle Catholics in their societies.' This suspicion, utterly without foundation, was still not devoid of a certain influence in closing the ears of the working classes against well-meant advice and disinterested advocacy. So that, while a few laboured zealously and perseveringly to preach the cause, they advanced but slowly and painfully, as it were inch by inch, and made little headway against the tide of popular indifference or popular mistrust. In vain a reformed veteran, whom excess had brought to the verge of the grave, to decrepitude and misery, appealed to his then vigorous upright form, and his comfortable dress and decent position, to convince his hearers of the benefit which he had received from a total avoidance of the cause of his former ruin and disgrace. With as little profit did a respectable mechanic refer to his years of folly and tribulation, and contrast them with his present security and independence. The advocates were listened to, and applauded, but rarely was their example Ca imitated. The right man was wanted for the cause, and he was soon
'Oh, Theobald Mathew, if thou would but take the cause in hand!' diwas the constant appeal of William Martin to the benevolence of the most popular and influential priest of the day. These appeals were not addressed to a dull ear or an insensible heart. Thou could do such good to these poor creatures,' were words which haunted the memory and stirred the conscience of Father Mathew. For some e time he made no sign which could indicate that he was seriously considering the proposal to undertake the leadership of the movement. But never was a grave proposal more anxiously considered in all its bearings. Seriously and solemnly did Theobald Mathew commune with himself in the solitude of his chamber, and fervently and humbly lehr did he pray to God to vouchsafe him light and guidance.
Father Mathew was now in his 47th year, and possessed an extensive and profound experience of his fellow-men. In every phase of wid life and grade of society, and under every circumstance common to a large community, that experience had been gained. In the mansions of the rich, in the garrets of the poor, amongst those endowed with the re wealth of the world, and those to whom a week's sickness brought with it the horrors of actual want, he had witnessed the working of a vicious ell and pervading habit. He had seen the happiness of the brightest home wrecked by the weakness of a father, the folly of a husband, or the the deeper and more terrible misery caused by the infatuation of the Pr-mother and the wife. He had witnessed ruin and dishonour brought
upon young men who had entered upon life with buoyant hopes, and the most brilliant prospects of success. He had beheld the prosperous merchant, the successful trader, the energetic manufacturer, sink gradually into bankruptcy and decay. With even greater sorrow, he had seen the light of genius extinguished in hopeless gloom, and splendid talents flung recklessly away. To use his own expressive words, he had seen the stars of heaven fall, and the cedars of Lebanon laid low. In the prison, the madhouse, the hospital, the workhouse, he recognised the victims of this absorbing passion. Poverty and disease, debasement and crime, he in a great measure attributed to its baneful influence. He admired and was proud of the intelligence of the artisans of his city, but he deplored their recklessness and their improvidence. He knew many, many families, that ought to be independent, even in the enjoyment of comforts, plunged in a state of chronic misery, and frequently indebted for a single meal to the accommodation of the pawnoffice-children in rags and squalor, with coarse words upon their young lips-wives despairing and broken-hearted, husbands debauched or brutal.
All this, and more, had pressed upon his mind, filling him with sorrow and dismay, not imagining how a remedy was to be had for an evil of such magnitude, so deeply-rooted and so widely spread. Was there not Religion ?-why could it not prove of avail in this instance? It had accomplished greater miracles-why not this? But the difficulty—and no man knew it better than Father Mathew-was how to bring the influence of religion to bear upon the habitual and confirmed drunkard. The drunkard was not the one to attend to the ministrations of his clergyman; he frequently failed to comply with one of the most obvious duties of the Christian-namely, to go to his place of worship on the Sunday. If he occasionally made resolutions of amendment, he neglected to fortify those resolutions with the grace of religion. His fatal habit was a bar between him and the religious influence. He fought against it, or kept it a distance: and if he yielded to it at last, it was perhaps on his bed of damp straw, to which drink had brought him, or on a pallet in the hospital, to which an accident or injury received in some savage conflict had consigned him. Then indeed he promised amendment for the future; but Father Mathew knew, alas! too well, how, once out of danger, such promises, extorted by fear, were broken in health-broken as easily as strong men break bands of straw-or, like the impress of the foot on the sand, were washed away by the next wave.
What could he do ?-Father Mathew asked himself in the solitude of his midnight musing-what could he do for the people he so truly loved? How could he benefit the poor, in whose sorrows, sufferings, and poverty he recognised the image of his Redeemer? Was there