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Admirable Conduct of the Irish Publicans Curious Letter of a
THAT there should have been opposition to the temperance cause, was not only what was natural to expect, but what Father Mathew had anticipated from the first. Strange to say, and much to their credit, the opposition, such as it was, did not arise from the publicans of the country. That they were seriously injured by the spread of temperance was certain, and that they would be injured still more was inevitable; but still their conduct throughout the entire continuance of the agitation, for a period of some eight years, was in the highest degree creditable to their good feeling. The following letter from a publican is amusing for more reasons than one, and will indicate the effect produced, even thus early, by the movement upon the retail business of the trade. It need scarcely be said that 'the respectable farmers' sons' referred to had improvised an ingenious excuse for not paying their lawful debts :
Newbawn, New Ross: May 16, 1840.
REV. SIR, I beg leave to inform you that about a year ago I commenced public business, in a house which cost me upwards of 100l. I gave credit to respectable farmers' sons to a considerable amount, but in consequence of they having taken the Temperance pledge, they say that you would not allow them to pay for any kind of intoxicating liquor. I therefore humbly request that you will write a few lines to my parish priest, the Rev. Mr. Ryan, on the subject, as it will be the means of keeping myself and family from begging. I do hereby pledge myself to resign this business the moment Mr. Ryan shall have received your letter, and that I will take the Temperance pledge myself, as my son has done.
Awaiting with anxiety your favourable reply, I have the honour to be,
Rev. Sir, your most obedient servant, &c.,
At a period subsequent to the date of this letter, Father Mathew thus alluded to the fact that numbers of the retailers throughout Ireland had joined his society, while he happily replied to those who interestedly cried out against it and its principles:
There is no public good effected without some individual injury being occasioned; the introduction of steam-engines, for example, put, necessarily, many hands out of employment; the railroad conveyances have seriously affected stagecoach proprietors, and those who had hack-coaches and cars to let out for hire; but the public is confessedly benefited by such improvements. In the making
BREWERS AND DISTILLERS- -GEORGE ROE, OF DUBLIN.
and vending of spirits and other deleterious drinks, many have previously made a livelihood, and some a fortune, whilst not a few of them have been sufferers to a considerable extent. I am, however, happy to say that numbers of them have nobly come forward and joined our society. To be sure, in every change, be they ever so pregnant with blessings for the community, some interested persons will be always found to stand up and oppose their progress; and so it is with us. Some concerned in the manufacturing and retailing of deleterious drinks cry out incessantly against our society. They forcibly remind me of the conduct of the people of Ephesus to St. Paul, when he came among them to preach the Gospel, and diffuse the blessings of Christianity. Many of them were silversmiths, whose principal emoluments arose from the making of statues of the goddess Diana (the idol then worshipped at Ephesus), and their constant cry then was, 'Great is Diana of the Ephesians!' Thus it is always with many in this country engaged in the spirit trade, who are heard to cry out incessantly, 'Great is Whisky! Potent is Ale! Great is Whisky! Potent is Ale!' But I say to you, 'Greater, far greater still, is Temperance-greater, far greater still, is Teetotalism.'
Many testimonies of the respect paid to Father Mathew by those who had large capital embarked in the manufacture of whisky and porter, and whose interests had been seriously injured by the spread of temperance, could be adduced; but that manifested towards him by one of the most eminent distillers, and one of the most honourable and high-minded men in Ireland—the late George Roe, of Dublin-made a deep impression upon the temperance leader, and is honourable to both.
Father Mathew made a short visit to Dublin, with the object of collecting for his new church, which he had very much neglected, and in fact had been compelled to sacrifice to the cause to which he had now devoted all his energies. Among others on whom he called was George Roe, to whom, as he afterwards said, he appealed in fear and trembling.' The answer was characteristic of the princely-minded gentleman. 'No man,' said George Roe, 'has done me more injury than you have, Father Mathew; but I forget all in the great good you have done my country.' And he presented his proud and delighted applicant with a handsome donation.
And among the distillers and brewers of his own city he possessed many friends, to whom he was never afraid to present himself in the cause of charity. The Beamishes, the Crawfords, the Wises, the Murphys, the Hewitts, the Lanes, the Dalys, and others, never failed to evince their respect for Father Mathew; and when the citizens of Cork met, in 1857, to commemorate his memory by a public statue, Colonel Beamish, the head of the great establishment of Beamish and Crawford, was one of the most eloquent eulogists of his fame and character.
Father Mathew had now-indeed, even before the year 1840become every inch a leader. Each day his ardour seemed to be, if
possible, on the increase. Next to the duties of his ministry, the promotion and spread of temperance was the great object of his life. To widen, deepen, and strengthen the foundations of the mighty fabric he had reared up; to extend its influence among the higher classes; to enlist men of talent and zeal in its advocacy; to induce employers to set an example to their workpeople; to prevail on masters and mistresses to do the same to their servants; to attract the young and innocent into the ranks; to interest the feelings of his brother-priests in the progress of a cause which, as he said, next to that of religion, ought to be the one dearest to their hearts-in fine, to go on until the inhabitants of the country were gathered into one great temperance fold, was his fixed resolve. Assist the cause, and you complimented him. Do so even by an admission of its usefulness, and you please him; do so by your own personal example, and there was no sacrifice which he would not willingly make for your advantage. But look coldly on it, and you pained him; sneer at it, and you wounded him attack it, and you roused his indignation. As a leader, he valiantly stood in the van, and challenged the enemy to strike at his shield Assail the society, and you assailed him; attack its members, and it was he who felt the blow. The 'cause' had become part of his very being; and this was one of the reasons of his marvellous success.
After having enrolled hundreds of thousands in various parts of the island-50,000 in one place, 100,000 in another and become the moral leader of 2,000,000 of his countrymen, Father Mathew, in the June of 1840, wisely turned to the fountain-source of the religiou teaching of the Catholics of Ireland-namely, to the College of Maynooth, to which he had been invited by the President. Within it walls were being trained the future priesthood of Ireland; and if he could but enlist their young and warm hearts in his cause-the caus of the country they loved-it would be of greater permanent advantage than if another million, carried away by the impulse of the moment, were added to his ranks. His reception was an ovation, his success great beyond his most sanguine expectation. Of those outside the college walls no less than 35,000 were computed to have taken the pledge; and as to what took place within its walls, the following from a glowing description written by one of the students who was among the postulants,' and who was inflamed by the generous excitement of the hour, will afford the reader a vivid idea of the effect produced by this memorable visit, and of the extraordinary enthusiasm which the presence and preaching of Father Mathew excited in the minds of hundreds of educated young men, whose days were divided between severe study and the practices of piety. If such were the effect produced by the Apostle in the halls of an ecclesiastical college, what must not it have been in the market-place, or on the
VISITS THE COLLEGE OF MAYNOOTH.
hill side, with working people and peasants for his auditors! The student, who writes in all the impassioned ardour of his first feelings, thus depicts the scene:
I had the good fortune to be present in the great hall of the college when the professors and students knelt down with edifying humility under the inspiring eloquence of an humble priest. The scene was majestically grand; it threw back the mind upon itself; it drew forth in full light all that is high and all that is amiable in the Irish heart; and to a day-dreamer, like myself, recalled in tender recollection the memory of other times, and looked for a while like their revival. On an elevated bench, which extends along one side of the quadrangular room,. stood the Apostle of Temperance, 'reasoning of justice and temperance and the judgment to come.' The able and amiable Dr. Hughes, Bishop of New York, was present on every occasion, and showed by his feelings how deeply he loves the land of his birth. Mr. Mathew was supported on either side by the masters and professors of the college. The room was piled to the utmost extremity by the students, and several distinguished strangers were occasionally present. A small vacant space under the bench was the hallowed spot consecrated to the virtue of temperance. The words of wisdom which he uttered were followed by deep emotion-they won the heart and subdued the judgment. No pen can describe, and none but an eye-witness can conceive, the stirring effect produced on a thoughtful spectator by the appeals of Theobald Mathew-the conflicting emotions of joy and astonishment in his audience, and the thunders of involuntary applause that greeted each new accession of converts as they moved deliberately forward in successive files, and with eager emulation, to the arena of virtue and heroic self-denial.
For the more convenient management of so great an institution, the discipline of the college wisely separates the senior and junior parts of the community. The good man, after his first successful essay in the senior college, requested to be led to the junior house. He briefly stated the object of his mission. They listened in silent wonder; their innocence was startled by the turpitude of the unfelt gratification, and their humility was alarmed by the exalted act of virtue they were invited to imitate. No postulant appeared, and the holy man retired with perfect composure, but not without hope. Their own reflections created a speedy revolution of sentiment, and they requested him to return. He hurried with eager zeal to see them again, and the little Benjamins, as he endearingly called them, repaid his paternal solicitude by fully emulating, at each successive visit he paid them, the generous enthusiasm of their seniors.
The result of this visit to Maynooth was the enrolment of 35,000 of the people, 8 professors of the college, and 250 students.
During this visit to Maynooth he was the guest of the Duke of Leinster, at Carton. This amiable nobleman-Ireland's only Duke,' as he was termed by O'Connell-received Father Mathew with special distinction. Indeed, it might be said that his attention to him was extraordinary; for the housekeeper of Carton stated she never received an order as to the arrangements or preparations which she should make for the reception of the most distinguished noblemen, even for the Lord Lieutenant; but when Father Mathew was expected, the Duke requested that she would take particular care' in her arrangements for his reception. Were he a crowned monarch, instead
of a lowly friar, he could not have been treated with greater respect and distinction by his noble host.
In the month of October of the same year, he visited Carlow, near which town there is a lay and ecclesiastical college, in which the illustrious Dr. Doyle had been a professor many years before. meetings were held in the cathedral; and such was the enthusiasm excited by the addresses of the Apostle of Temperance, and the ardour of the thousands who rushed forward with impetuosity to adopt the pledge, that the students of the college speedily caught the contagion, and made known their desire to imitate the general example. Father Mathew was delighted at the intelligence, it being that which he most longed to hear. He appointed to meet the students in the evening, and having dined at a late hour in the college, with a large party assembled to do him honour, he proceeded to the refectory of the ecclesiastical students when their supper was over. Several of the lay students were admitted on the occasion, as they had expressed a wish to take the pledge at the same time. He won the hearts of the students by his affectionate manner, as he went from table to table, enquired of them of their parents and friends, many of whom he had personally known, and spoke to them of their town, or their parish, or of something in which they were interested. He then addressed them on the object of his visit:
My dear young friends (said he), I am inexpressibly delighted at hearing that many among you are disposed to take the pledge. I am well aware no one present requires words of advice or encouragement from me, as a necessity does not exist for your becoming pledged to the principles or practice of total abstinence. But your example will have a powerful influence on many others, who will be induced to emulate your virtuous and noble resolution, either through motives of religion and moral purification, or from necessity and a distrust in their own weakness in withstanding those strong temptations to indulge in excess which were so frequently, and are still, presented in Ireland. The humbler classes in this country naturally look to their clergy for good example as for direction, and hence it affords me the greatest possible delight to find the young aspirants to the priesthood, and also the young gentlemen of the lay college, prepared to make sacrifices which cannot fail to give great edification to the people.
Father Mathew then administered the pledge to a considerable number, and requested that if any others desired to do the same on the morrow, they would do so on the steps of the high altar in the cathedral, in presence of the assembled thousands of their countrymen ;' and he added, 'The Almighty would bestow His choicest graces and blessings on them, in return for their generous and sublime resolve.'
Those of the ecclesiastical students who had not taken the pledge on this occasion, held serious communion with themselves during the night, and asked for direction from on high. The result of their earnest deliberation was, that a large additional number resolved on