"Leave him!" said Margaret; "oh never! When I took him, I took him for betther an' for worse, and I'm not goin' to neglect my duty to him now, because he's down. All the world has desarted him, but I'll never desart him. Whatever may happen, Art dear—poor, lost Art—whatever may happen, I'll live with you, beg with you, die with you; anything but desart you."
She then, after wiping the tears which accompanied her words, sent out the girl, who bought some turf and milk, in order to provide a meal of wholesome food for the craving children.
"Now," said she to the girl, "what is to be done? for if poor Art sees this meal in the morning, he will sell the best part of it to get whiskey; for I need scarcely tell you," she added, striving to palliate his conduct, "that he cannot do without it, however he might contrive to do without his breakfast." But, indeed, this was true. So thoroughly was he steeped in drunkenness—in the low, frequent, and insatiable appetite for whiskey—that, like tobacco or snuff, it became an essential portion of his life—a necessary-evil, without which he could scarcely exist. At all events, the poor children had one comfortable meal, which made them happy; the little stock that remained was stowed away in some nook or other, where Art was not likely to find it; the girl went home, and we were about to say that the rest of this miserable family went to bed; but, alas! they had no bed to go to, with the exception of a little straw, and a thin single blanket to cover them.
If Margaret's conduct during these severe and terrible trials was not noble and heroic, we know not what could be called so. The affection which she exhibited towards her husband overcame everything. When Art had got about half way in his mad and profligate career, her friends offered to support her, if she would take refuge with them and abandon him; but the admirable woman received the proposal as an insult; and the reply she gave is much the same as the reader has heard from her lips, with reference to the girl's message from her sister.
Subsequently, they offered to take her and the children; but this also she indignantly rejected. She could not leave him, she said, at the very time when it was so necessary that her hands should be about him. What might be the fate of such a man if he had none to take care of him? No, this almost unexampled woman, rather than desert him in such circumstances, voluntarily partook in all the wretchedness, destitution, and incredible misery which his conduct inflicted on her, and did so patiently, and without a murmur.
In a few days after the night we have described, a man covered with rags, without shoe, or stocking, or shirt, having on an old hat, through the broken crown of which his hair, wefted with bits of straw, stood out, his face shrunk and pale, his beard long and filthy, and his eyes rayless and stupid—a man of this description, we say, with one child in his arms, and two more accompanying him, might be seen begging through the streets of Ballykeerin; yes, and often in such a state of drunkenness as made it frightful to witness his staggering gait, lest he might tumble over upon the infant, or let it fair out of his arms. This man was Art Maguire; to such a destiny had he come, or rather had he brought himself at last; Art Maguire—one of the great Maguires of Fermanagh!
But where is she—the attached, the indomitable in love—the patient, the much enduring, the uncomplaining? Alas! she is at length separated from him and them; her throbbing veins are hot and rife with fever—her aching head is filled with images of despair and horror—she is calling for her husband—her young and manly husband—and says she will not be parted from him—she is also calling for her children, and demands to have them. The love of the mother and of the wife is now furious; but, thank God, the fury that stimulates it is that of disease, and not of insanity. The trials and privations which could not overcome her noble heart, overcame her physical frame, and on the day succeeding that woful night she was seized with a heavy fever, and through the interference of some respectable inhabitants of the town, was conveyed to the fever hospital, where she now lies in a state of delirium.
And Frank Maguire—the firm, the industrious, and independent—where is he? Unable to bear the shame of his brother's degradation, he gave up his partnership, and went to America, where he now is; but not without having left in the hands of a friend something for his unfortunate brother to remember him by; and it was this timely aid which for the last three quarters of a year has been the sole means of keeping life in his brother's family.
Thus have we followed Art Maguire from his youth up to the present stage of his life, attempting, as well as we could, to lay open to our readers his good principles and his bad, together with the errors and ignorances of those who had the first formation of his character—we mean his parents and family. We have endeavored to trace, with as strict an adherence to truth and nature as possible, the first struggles of a heart naturally generous and good, with the evil habit which beset him, as well as with the weaknesses by which that habit was set to work upon his temperament. Whether we have done this so clearly and naturally as to bring home conviction of its truth to such of our readers as may resemble him in the materials which formed his moral constitution, and consequently, to hold him up as an example to be avoided, it is not for ourselves to say. If our readers think so, or rather feel so, then we shall rest satisfied of having performed our task as we ought.
Our task, however, is not accomplished. It is true, we have accompanied him with pain and pity to penury, rags, and beggary—unreformed, unrepenting, hardened, shameless, desperate. Do our readers now suppose that there is anything in the man, or any principle external to him, capable of regenerating and elevating a heart so utterly lost as his?
But hush! what is this? How dark the moral clouds that have been hanging over the country for a period far beyond the memory of man! how black that dismal canopy which is only lit by fires that carry and shed around them disease, famine, crime, madness, bloodshed, and death. How hot, sultry, and enervating to the whole constitution of man, physically and mentally, is the atmosphere we have been breathing so long! The miasma of the swamp, the simoom of the desert, the merciless sirocco, are healthful when compared to such an atmosphere. And, hark! what formidable being is that who, with black expanded wings, flies about from place to place, and from person to person, with a cup of fire in his hands, which he applies to their eager lips? And what spell or charm lies in that burning cup, which, no sooner do they taste than they shout, clap their hands with exultation, and cry out, "We are happy! we are happy!" Hark; he proclaims himself, and shouteth still louder than they do; but they stop their ears, and will not listen; they shut their eyes and will not see. What sayeth he? "I am the Angel of Intemperance, Discord, and Destruction, who oppose myself to God and all his laws—to man, and all that has been made for his good; my delight is in misery and unhappiness, in crime, desolation, ruin, murder, and death in a thousand shapes of vice and destitution. Such I am, such I shall be, for behold, my dominion shall last forever!"
But hush again! Look towards the south! What faint but beautiful light is it, which, fairer than that of the morning, gradually breaketh upon that dark sky? See how gently, but how steadily, its lustre enlarges and expands! It is not the light of the sun, nor of the moon, nor of the stars, neither is it the morning twilight, which heralds the approach of day; no, but it is the serene effulgence which precedes and accompanies a messenger from God, who is sent to bear a new principle of happiness to man! This principle is itself an angelic spirit, and lo! how the sky brightens, and the darkness flees away like a guilty thing before it! Behold it on the verge of the horizon, which is now glowing with the rosy hues of heaven—it advances, it proclaims its mission:—hark!
"I am the Angel of Temperance, of Industry, of Peace! who oppose myself to the Spirit of Evil and all his laws—I am the friend of man, and conduct him to the true enjoyment of all that has been made for his good. My mission is to banish misery, unhappiness, and crime, to save mankind from desolation, ruin, murder, and death, in a thousand shapes of vice and destitution."
And now see how he advances in beauty and power, attended by knowledge, health, and truth, while the harmonies of domestic life, of civil concord, and social duty, accompany him, and make music in his path. But where is the angel of intemperance, discord, and destruction? Hideous monster, behold him! No longer great nor terrible, he flies, or rather totters, from before his serene opponent—he shudders—he stutters and hiccups in his howlings—his limbs are tremulous—his hands shake as if with palsy—his eye is lustreless and bloodshot, and his ghastly countenance the exponent of death. He flies, but not unaccompanied; along with him are crime, poverty, hunger, idleness, his music the groan of the murderer, the clanking of the madman's chain, filled up by the report of the suicide's pistol, and the horrible yell of despair! And now he and his evil spirits are gone, the moral atmosphere is bright and unclouded, and the Angel of Temperance, Industry, and Peace goes abroad throughout the land, fulfilling his beneficent mission, and diffusing his own virtues into the hearts of a regenerated people!
Leaving allegory, however, to the poets, it is impossible that, treating of the subject which we have selected, we could, without seeming to undervalue it, neglect to say a few words upon the most extraordinary moral phenomenon, which, apart from the miraculous, the world ever saw; we allude to the wonderful Temperance Movement, as it is called, which, under the guiding hand of the Almighty, owes its visible power and progress to the zeal and incredible exertions of one pious and humble man—the Very Rev. Theobald Matthew, of Cork. When we consider the general, the proverbial character, which our countrymen have, during centuries, borne for love of drink, and their undeniable habits of intemperance, we cannot but feel that the change which has taken place is, indeed, surprising, to say the least of it. But, in addition to this, when we also consider the natural temperament of the Irishman—his social disposition—his wit, his humor, and his affection—all of which are lit up by liquor—when we just reflect upon the exhilaration of spirits produced by it—when we think upon the poverty, the distress, and the misery which too generally constitute his wretched lot, and which it will enable him, for a moment, to forget—and when we remember that all his bargains were made over it—that he courted his sweetheart over it—got married over it—wept for his dead over it—and generally fought his enemy of another faction, or the Orangeman of another creed, when under its influence:—when we pause over all these considerations, we can see how many temptations our countrymen had to overcome in renouncing it as they did; and we cannot help looking at it as a moral miracle, utterly without parallel in the history of man.
Now we are willing to give all possible credit, and praise, and honor to Father Matthew; but we do not hesitate to say, that even he would have failed in being, as he is, the great visible exponent of this admirable principle, unless there had been other kindred principles in the Irishman's heart, which recognized and clung to it. In other words it is unquestionable, that had the religious and moral feelings of the Irish people been neglected, the principle of temperance would never have taken such deep root in the heart of the nation as it has done. Nay, it could not; for does not every man of common sense know, that good moral principles seldom grow in a bad moral soil, until it is cultivated for their reception. It is, therefore, certainly a proof that the Roman Catholic priesthood of Ireland had not neglected the religious principles of the people. It may, I know, and it has been called a superstitious contagion; but however that may be, so long as we have such contagions among us, we will readily pardon the superstition. Let superstition always assume a shape of such beneficence and virtue to man, and we shall not quarrel with her for retaining the name. Such a contagion could never be found among any people in whom there did not exist predisposing qualities, ready to embrace and nurture the good which came with it.
Our argument, we know, may be met by saying that its chief influence was exerted on those whose habits of dissipation, immorality, and irreligion kept, them aloof from the religious instruction of the priest. But to those who know the Irish heart, it is not necessary to say that many a man addicted to drink is far from being free from the impressions of religion, or uninfluenced by many a generous and noble virtue. Neither does it follow that every such man has been neglected by his priest, or left unadmonished of the consequences which attended his evil habit. But how did it happen, according to that argument, that it was this very class of persons—the habitual, or the frequent, or the occasional drunkard—that first welcomed the spirit of temperance, and availed themselves of its blessings? If there had not been the buried seeds of neglected instruction lying in their hearts, it is very improbable that they would have welcomed and embraced the principle as they did. On the other hand, it is much more likely that they would have fled from, and avoided a spirit which deprived them of the gratification of their ruling and darling passion. Evil and good, we know, do not so readily associate.
Be this, however, as it may, we have only to state, in continuation of our narrative, that at the period of Art Maguire's most lamentable degradation, and while his admirable but unhappy wife was stretched upon the burning bed of fever, the far low sounds of the Temperance Movement were heard, and the pale but pure dawn of its distant light seen at Ballykeerin. That a singular and novel spirit accompanied it, is certain; and that it went about touching and healing with all the power of an angel, is a matter not of history, but of direct knowledge and immediate recollection. Nothing, indeed, was ever witnessed in any country similar to it. Whereever it went, joy, acclamation, ecstasy accompanied it; together with a sense of moral liberty, of perfect freedom from the restraint, as it were, of some familiar devil, that had kept its victims in its damnable bondage. Those who had sunk exhausted before the terrible Molpch of Intemperance, and given themselves over for lost, could now perceive that there was an ally at hand, that was able to bring them succor, and drag them back from degradation and despair, to peace and independence, from contempt and infamy, to respect and praise. Nor was this all. It was not merely into the heart of the sot and drunkard that it carried a refreshing consciousness of joy and deliverance, but into all those hearts which his criminal indulgence had filled with heaviness and sorrow. It had, to be sure, its dark side to some—ay, to thousands. Those who lived by the vices —the low indulgences and the ruinous excesses—of their fellow-creatures—trembled and became aghast at its approach. The vulgar and dishonest publican, who sold a bona fide poison under a false name; the low tavern-keeper; the proprietor of the dram-shop; of the night-house; and the shebeen—all were struck with terror and dismay. Their occupation was doomed to go. No more in the dishonest avarice of gain where they to coax and jest with the foolish tradesman, until they confirmed him in the depraved habit, and led him on, at his own expense, and their profit, step by step, until the naked and shivering sot, now utterly ruined, was kicked out, like Art Maguire, to make room for those who were to tread in his steps, and share his fate.
No more was the purity and inexperience of youth to be corrupted by evil society, artfully introduced for the sordid purpose of making him spend his money, at the expense of health, honesty, and good name.
No more was the decent wife of the spendthrift tradesman, when forced by stern necessity, and the cries of her children, to seek her husband in the public house, of a Saturday night, anxious as she was to secure what was left unspent of his week's wages, in order to procure to-morrow's food—no more was she to be wheedled into the bar, to get the landlord's or the landlady's treat, in order that the outworks of temperance, and the principles of industry, perhaps of virtue, might be gradually broken down, for the selfish and diabolical purpose of enabling her drunken husband to spend a double share of his hardly-earned pittance.
Nor more was the male servant, in whom every confidence was placed, to be lured into these vile dens of infamy, that he might be fleeced or his money, tutored into debauchery or dishonesty, or thrown into the society of thieves and robbers, that he might become an accomplice in their crimes, and enable them to rob his employer with safety. No more was the female servant, on the other hand, to be made familiar with tippling, or corrupted by evil company, until she became a worthless and degraded creature, driven out of society, without reputation or means of subsistence, and forced to sink to that last loathsome alternative of profligacy which sends her, after a short and wicked course, to the jeering experiments of the dissecting-room.
Oh, no; those wretches who lived by depravity, debauchery, and corruption, were alarmed almost into distraction by the approach of temperance, for they knew it would cut off the sources of their iniquitous gains, and strip them of the vile means of propagating dishonesty and vice, by which they lived. But even this wretched class were not without instances of great disinterestedness and virtue; several of them closed their debasing establishments, forfeited their ill-gotten means of living, and trusting to honesty and legitimate industry, voluntarily assumed the badge of temperance, and joined its peaceful and triumphant standard!
Previous to this time, however, and, indeed, long before the joyful sounds of its advancing motion were heard from afar, it is not to be taken for granted that the drunkards of the parish of Ballykeerin Avere left to the headlong impulses of their own evil propensities. Before Art Maguire had fallen from his integrity and good name, there had not been a more regular attendant at mass, or at his Easter and Christmas duties, in the whole parish; in this respect he was a pattern, as Father Costelloe, the priest, often said, to all who were anxious to lead a decent and creditable life, forgetting their duty neither to God nor man. A consciousness of his fall, however, made him ashamed in the beginning to appear at mass, until he should decidedly reform, which he proposed and resolved to do, or thought he resolved, from week to week, and from day to day. How he wrought out these resolutions our readers know too well; every day and every week only made him worse and worse, until by degrees all thought of God, or prayer, or priest, abandoned him, and he was left to swelter in misery among the very dregs of his prevailing vice, hardened and obdurate. Many an admonition has he received from Father Costelloe, especially before he become hopeless, and many a time, when acknowledging his own inability to follow up his purposes of amendment, has he been told by that good and Christian man, that he must have recourse to better and higher means of support, and remember that God will not withhold his grace from those who ask it sincerely and aright. Art, however, could not do so, for although he had transient awakenings of conscience, that were acute while they lasted, yet he could not look up to God with a thorough and heartfelt resolution of permanent reformation. The love of liquor, and the disinclination to give it up, still lurked in his heart, and prevented him from setting about his amendment in earnest. If they had not, he would have taken a second oath, as his brother Frank often advised him to do, but without effect. He still hoped to be able to practise moderation, and drink within bounds, and consequently persuaded himself that total abstinence was not necessary in his case. At length Father Costelloe, like all those who were deeply anxious for his reformation, was looked upon as an unwelcome adviser, whose Christian exhortations to a better course of life were anything but agreeable, because he spoke truth; and so strong did this feeling grow in him, that in his worst moments he would rather sink into the earth than meet him: nay, a glimpse of him at any distance was sure to make the unfortunate man hide himself in some hole or corner until the other had passed, and all danger of coming under his reproof was over. Art was still begging with his children, when, after a long and dangerous illness, it pleased God to restore his wife to him and them. So much pity, and interest, and respect did she excite during her convalescence—for it was impossible that her virtues, even in the lowest depths of her misery, could be altogether unknown—that the heads of the hospital humanely proposed to give her some kind of situation in it, as soon as she should regain sufficient strength to undertake its duties. The mother's love, however, still prompted her to rejoin her children, feeling as she did, and as she said, how doubly necessary now her care and attention to them must be. She at length yielded to their remonstrances, when they assured her that to return in her present weak condition to her cold and desolate house, and the utter want of all comfort which was to be found in it, might, and, in all probability, would, be fatal to her; and that by thus exposing herself too soon to the consequences of cold and destitution, she might leave her children motherless. This argument prevailed, but in the meantime she stipulated that her children and her husband, if the latter were in a state of sufficient sobriety, should be permitted occasionally to see her, that she might inquire into their situation, and know how they lived. This was acceded to, and, by the aid of care and nourishing food, she soon found herself beginning to regain her strength.
In the meantime the Temperance movement was rapidly and triumphantly approaching. In a town about fifteen miles distant there was a meeting advertised to be held, at which the great apostle himself was to administer the pledge; Father Costelloe announced it from the altar, and earnestly recommended his parishioners to attend, and enrol themselves under the blessed banner of Temperance, the sober man as well as the drunkard.
"It may be said," he observed, "that sober men have no necessity for taking the pledge; and if one were certain that every sober man was to remain sober during his whole life, there would not, indeed, be a necessity for sober men to take it; but, alas! my friends, you know how subject we are to those snares, and pitfalls, and temptations of life by which our paths are continually beset. Who can say to-day that he may not transgress the bounds of temperance before this day week? Your condition in life is surrounded by inducements to drink. You scarcely buy or sell a domestic animal in fair or market, that you are not tempted to drink; you cannot attend a neighbor's funeral that you are not tempted to drink—'tis the same at the wedding and the christening, and in almost all the transactions of your lives. How then can you answer for yourselves, especially when your spirits may happen to be elevated, and your hearts glad? Oh! it is then, my friends, that the tempter approaches you, and probably implants in your unguarded hearts the germ of that accursed habit which has destroyed millions. How often have you heard it said of many men, even within the range of your own knowledge, 'Ah, he was an industrious, well-conducted, and respectable man—until he took to drink!' Does not the prevalence of such a vile habit, and the fact that so many sober men fall away from that virtue, render the words that I have just uttered a melancholy proverb in the country? Ah, there he is—in rags and misery; yet he was an industrious, well-conducted, and respectable man once, that is—before he took to drink! Prevention, my dear friends, is always better than cure, and in binding yourselves by this most salutary obligation, you know not how much calamity and suffering—how much general misery—how much disgrace and crime you may avoid. And, besides, are we not to look beyond this world? Is a crime which so greatly depraves the heart, and deadens its power of receiving the wholesome impressions of religion and truth, not one which involves our future happiness or misery? Ah, my dear brethren, it is indeed a great and a cross popular error to say that sober men should not take this pledge. I hope I have satisfied you that it is a duty they owe themselves to take it, so long as they feel that they are frail creatures, and liable to sin and error; and not only themselves, but their children, their friends, and all who might be affected, either for better or worse, by their example.
"There is another argument, however, which I cannot overlook, while dwelling upon this important subject. We know that the drunkard, if God should, through the instrumentality of this great and glorious movement, put the wish for amendment into his heart, still feels checked and deterred by a sense of shame; because, the truth is, if none attended these meetings but such men, that very fact alone would prove a great obstruction in the way of their reformation. Many, too many, are drunkards; but every man is not an open drunkard, and hundreds, nay, thousands, would say, 'By attending these meetings of drunken men, I acknowledge myself to be a drunkard also;' hence they will probably decline going through shame, and consequently miss the opportunity of retrieving themselves. Now, I say, my friends, it is the duty of sober men to deprive them of this argument, and by an act, which, after all, involves nothing of self-denial, but still an act of great generosity, to enable them to enter into this wholesome obligation, without being openly exposed to the consequences of having acknowledged that they were intemperate."
He then announced the time and place of the meeting, which was in the neighboring town of Drumnabrogue, and concluded by again exhorting them all, without distinction, to attend it and take the pledge. His exhortations were not without effect; many of his parishioners did attend, and among them some of Art's former dissolute companions.
Art himself, when spoken to, and pressed to go, hiccuped and laughed at the notion of any such pledge reforming him; a strong proof that all hope of recovering himself, or of regaining his freedom from drunkenness, had long ago deserted him. This, if anything further was necessary to do so, completed the scene of his moral prostration and infamy. Margaret, who was still in the hospital, now sought to avail herself of the opportunity which presented itself, by reasoning with, and urging him to go, but, like all others, her arguments were laughed at, and Art expressed contempt for her, Father Matthew, and all the meetings that had yet taken place.
"Will takin' the pledge," he asked her, "put a shirt to my back, a thing I almost forget the use of, or a good coat? Will it put a dacent house over my head, a good bed under me, and a warm pair of blankets on us to keep us from shiverin', an' coughin', an' barkin' the whole night long in the could?
"No, faith, I'll not give up the whiskey, for it has one comfort, it makes me sleep in defiance o' wind and weather; it's the only friend I have left now—it's my shirt—its my coat—my shoes and stockin's—my house—my blankets—my coach—my carriage—it makes me a nobleman, a lord; but, anyhow, sure I'm as good, ay, by the mortual, and better, for amn't I one of the great Maguires of Fermanagh! Whish, the ou—ould blood forever, and to the divil wid their meetins!"
"Art," said his wife, "I believe if you took the pledge that it would give you all you say, and more; for it would bring you back the respect and good-will of the people, that you've long lost."
"To the divil wid the people! I'll tell you what, if takin' the pledge reforms Mechil Gam, the crooked disciple that he is, or Tom Whiskey, mind—mind me—I say if it reforms them, or young Barney Scaddhan, thin you may spake up for it, an' may be, I'll listen to you."
At length the meeting took place, and the three men alluded to by Art, attended it as they said they would; each returned home with his pledge; they rose up the next morning, and on that night went to bed sober. This was repeated day after day, week after week, month after month, and still nothing characterized them but sobriety, peace, and industry.
Unfortunately, so far as Art Maguire was concerned, it was out of his power, as it was out of that of hundreds, to derive any benefit from the example which some of his old hard-drinking associates had so unexpectedly set both him and them. No meeting had since occurred within seventy or eighty miles of Ballykeerin, and yet the contagion of good example had spread through that and the adjoining parishes in a manner that was without precedent. In fact, the people murmured, became impatient, and, ere long, demanded from their respective pastors that another meeting should be held, to afford them an opportunity of publicly receiving the pledge; and for that purpose they besought the Rev. gentlemen to ask Father Matthew to visit Ballykeerin. This wish was complied with, and Father Matthew consented, though at considerable inconvenience to himself, and appointed a day for the purpose specified. This was about three or four months after the meeting that was held in the neighboring town already alluded to.
For the last six weeks Margaret had been able to discharge the duties of an humble situation in the hospital, on the condition that she should at least once a day see her children. Poor as was the situation in question, it enabled her to contribute much more to their comfort, than she could if she had resided with them, or, in other words, begged with them; for to that, had she returned home, it must have come; and, as the winter was excessively severe, this would have killed her, enfeebled as she had been by a long and oppressive fever. Her own good sense taught her to see this, and the destitution of her children and husband—to feel it. In this condition then were they—depending on the scanty aid which her poor exertions could afford them, eked out by the miserable pittance that he extorted as a beggar—when the intelligence arrived that the great Apostle of Temperance had appointed a day on which to hold a teetotal meeting in the town of Ballykeerin.
It is utterly unaccountable how the approach of Father Matthew, and of these great meetings, stirred society into a state of such extraordinary activity, not only in behalf of temperance, but also of many other virtues; so true is it, that when one healthy association is struck it awakens all those that are kindred to it into new life. In addition to a love of sobriety, the people felt their hearts touched, as it were, by a new spirit, into kindness and charity, and a disposition to discharge promptly and with good-will all brotherly and neighborly offices. Harmony, therefore, civil, social, and domestic, accompanied the temperance movement wherever it went, and accompanies it still wherever it goes; for, like every true blessing, it never comes alone, but brings several others in its train.
The morning in question, though cold, was dry and bright; a small platform had been raised at the edge of the market-house, which was open on one side, and on it Father Matthew was to stand. By this simple means he would be protected from rain, should any fall, and was sufficiently accessible to prevent any extraordinary crush among the postulants. But how will we attempt to describe the appearance which the town of Ballykeerin presented on the morning of this memorable and auspicious day? And above all, in what terms shall we paint the surprise, the wonder, the astonishment with which they listened to the music of the teetotal band, which, as if by magic, had been formed in the town of Drumnabogue, where, only a few months before, the meeting of which we have spoken had been held. Indeed, among all the proofs of national advantages which the temperance movement has brought out, we are not to forget those which it has bestowed on the country—by teaching us what a wonderful capacity for music, and what a remarkable degree of intellectual power, the lower classes of our countrymen are endowed with, and can manifest when moved by adequate principles. Early as daybreak the roads leading to Ballykeerin presented a living stream of people listening onwards towards the great rendezvous; but so much did they differ in their aspect from almost any other assemblage of Irishmen, that, to a person ignorant of their purpose, it would be difficult, if not impossible, to guess the cause, not that moved them in such multitudes towards the same direction, but that marked them by such peculiar characteristics. We have seen Irishmen and Irishwomen going to a country race in the summer months, when labor there was none; we have seen them going to meetings of festivity and amusement of all descriptions;—to fairs, to weddings, to dances—but we must confess, that notwithstanding all our experience and intercourse with them, we never witnessed anything at all resembling their manner and bearing on this occasion. There was undoubtedly upon them, and among them, all the delightful enjoyment of a festival spirit; they were easy, cheerful, agreeable, and social; but, in addition to this, there was clearly visible an expression of feeling that was new even to themselves, as well as to the spectators. But how shall we characterize this feeling? It was certainly not at variance with the cheerfulness which they felt, but, at the same time, it shed over it a serene solemnity of manner which communicated a moral grandeur to the whole proceeding that fell little short of sublimity. This was a principle of simple virtue upon which all were equal; but it was more than that, it was at once a manifestation of humility, and an exertion of faith in the aid and support of the Almighty, by whose grace those earnest but humble people felt and trusted that they would be supported. And who can say that their simplicity of heart—their unaffected humility, and their firmness of faith have not been amply rewarded, and triumphantly confirmed by the steadfastness with which they have been, with extremely few exceptions, faithful to their pledge.
About nine o'clock the town of Ballykeerin was crowded with a multitude such as had never certainly met in it before. All, from the rustic middle classes down, were there. The crowd was, indeed, immense, yet, notwithstanding their numbers, one could easily mark the peculiar class for whose sake principally the meeting had been called together.
There was the red-faced farmer of substance, whose sunburnt cheeks, and red side-neck, were scorched into a color that disputed its healthy hue with the deeper purple tint of strong and abundant drink.
"Such a man," an acute observer would say, "eats well, and drinks well, but is very likely to pop off some day, without a minute's warning, or saying good-by to his friends."
Again, there was the pale and emaciated drunkard, whose feeble and tottering gait, and trembling hands, were sufficiently indicative of his broken-down constitution, and probably of his anxiety to be enabled to make some compensation to the world, or some provision on the part of his own soul, to balance the consequences of an ill-spent life, during which morals were laughed at, and health destroyed.
There was also the healthy-looking drunkard of small means, who, had he been in circumstances to do so, would have gone to bed drunk every night in the year. He is not able, from the narrowness of his circumstances, to drink himself into apoplexy on the one hand, or debility on the other; but he is able, notwithstanding, to drink the clothes off his back, and the consequence is, that he stands before you as ragged, able-bodied, and thumping a specimen of ebriety as you could wish to see during a week's journey. There were, in fact, the vestiges of drunkenness in all their repulsive features, and unhealthy variety.
There stood the grog-drinker with his blotched face in full flower, his eye glazed in his head, and his protuberant paunch projecting over his shrunk and diminished limbs.
The tippling tradesman too was there, pale and sickly-looking, his thin and over-worn garments evidently insufficient to keep out the chill of morning, and prevent him from shivering every now and then, as if he were afflicted with the ague.
In another direction might be seen the servant out of place, known by the natty knot of his white cravat, as well as by the smartness with which he wears his dress, buttoned up as it is, and coaxed about him with all the ingenuity which experience and necessity bring to the aid of vanity. His napeless hat is severely brushed in order to give the subsoil an appearance of the nap which is gone, but it won't do; every one sees that his intention is excellent, were it possible for address and industry to work it out. This is not the case, however, and the hat is consequently a clear exponent of his principles and position, taste and skill while he was sober—vain pride and trying poverty now in his drunkenness.
The reckless-looking sailor was also there (but with a serious air now), who, having been discharged for drunkenness, and refused employment everywhere else, for the same reason, was obliged to return home, and remain a burden upon his friends. He, too, has caught this healthy epidemic, and the consequence is, that he will once more gain employment, for the production of his medal will be accepted as a welcome proof of his reformation.
And there was there, what was better still, the unfortunate female, the victim of passion and profligacy, conscious of her past life, and almost ashamed in the open day to look around her. Poor thing! how her heart, that was once innocent and pure, now trembles within a bosom where there is awakened many a painful recollection of early youth, and the happiness of home, before that unfortunate night, when, thrown off her guard by accursed liquor, she ceased to rank among the pure and virtuous. Yes, all these, and a much greater variety, were here actuated by the noble resolution to abandon forever the evil courses, the vices, and the profligacy into which they were first driven by the effects of drink.
The crowd was, indeed, immense, many having come a distance of twenty, thirty, some forty, and not a few fifty miles, in order to free themselves, by this simple process, from the influence of the destructive habit which either was leading, or had led them, to ruin. Of course it is not to be supposed that among such a vast multitude of people there were not, as there always is, a great number of those vagabond impostors who go about from place to place, for the purpose of extorting charity from the simple and credulous, especially when under the influence of liquor. All this class hated the temperance movement, because they knew right well that sobriety in the people was there greatest enemy; the lame, the blind, the maimed, the deaf, and the dumb, were there in strong muster, and with their characteristic ingenuity did everything in their power, under the pretence of zeal and religious enthusiasm, to throw discredit upon the whole proceedings. It was this vile crew, who, by having recourse to the aid of mock miracles, fancied they could turn the matter into derision and contempt, and who, by affecting to be cured of their complaints, with a view of having their own imposture, when detected, imputed to want of power in Father Matthew;—it was this vile crew, we say, that first circulated the notion that he could perform miracles. Unfortunately, many of the ignorant among the people did in the beginning believe that he possessed this power, until he himself, with his characteristic candor, disclaimed it. For a short time the idea of this slightly injured the cause, and afforded to its enemies some silly and senseless arguments, which, in lieu of better, they were glad to bring against it.
At length Father Matthew, accompanied by several other clergymen and gentlemen, made his appearance on the platform; then was the rush, the stretching of necks, and the bitter crushing, accompanied by devices and manoeuvres of all kinds, to catch a glimpse of him. The windows were crowded by the more respectable classes, who were eager to witness the effects of this great and sober enthusiasm among the lower classes. The proceedings, however, were very simple. He first addressed them in a plain and appropriate discourse, admirably displaying the very description of eloquence which was best adapted to his auditory. This being concluded, he commenced distributing the medal, for which every one who received it, gave a shilling, the latter at the same time repeating the following words: "I promise, so long as I shall continue a member of the Teetotal Temperance Society, to abstain from all intoxicating liquors, unless recommended for medical purposes, and to discourage by all means in my power the practice of intoxication in others." Father Matthew then said, "May God bless you, and enable you to keep your promise!"
Such was the simple ceremony by which millions have been rescued from those terrible evils that have so long cursed and afflicted society in this country.
In this large concourse there stood one individual, who presented in his person such symptoms of a low, grovelling, and unremitting indulgence in drink, as were strikingly observable even amidst the mass of misery and wretchedness that was there congregated. It is rarely, even in a life, that an object in human shape, encompassed and pervaded by so many of the fearful results of habitual drunkenness, comes beneath observation. Sometimes we may see it in a great city, when we feel puzzled, by the almost total absence of reason in the countenance, to know whether the utter indifference to nakedness and the elements, be the consequence of drunken destitution, or pure idiocy. To this questionable appearance had the individual we speak of come. The day was now nearly past, and the crowd had considerably diminished, when this man, approaching Father Matthew, knelt down, and clasping his skeleton hands, exclaimed—
"Father, I'm afeard I cannot trust myself."
"Who can?" said Father Matthew; "it is not in yourself you are to place confidence, but in God, who will support you, and grant you strength, if you ask for it sincerely and humbly."
These words, uttered in tones of true Christian charity, gave comfort to the doubting heart of the miserable creature, who said—
"I would wish to take the pledge, if I had money; but I doubt it's too late—too late for me! Oh, if I thought it wasn't!"
"It's never too late to repent," replied the other, "or to return from evil to good. If you feel your heart inclined to the right I course, do not let want of money prevent you from pledging yourself to sobriety and temperance."
"In God's name, then, I will take it," he replied; and immediately repeated the simple words which constitute the necessary form.
"May God bless you," said Father Matthew, placing his hand on his head, "and enable you to keep your promise!"
This man, our readers already guess, was Art Maguire.
Having thus taken the medal, and pledged himself to sobriety, and a total abstinence from all intoxicating liquors, his first feeling was very difficult to describe. Father Matthew's words, though few and brief, had sunk deep into his heart, and penetrated his whole spirit. He had been for many a long day the jest and jibe of all who knew him; because they looked upon his recovery as a hopeless thing, and spoke to him accordingly in a tone of contempt and scorn—a lesson to us that we never should deal harshly with the miserable. Nor, however, he had been addressed in accents of kindness, and in a voice that proclaimed an interest in his welfare. This, as we said, added to the impressive spirit that prevailed around, touched him, and he hurried home.
On reaching his almost empty house, he found Margaret and the children there before him; she having come to see how the poor things fared—but being quite ignorant of what had just taken place with regard to her husband.
"Art," said she, with her usual affectionate manner; "you will want something to eat; for if you're not hungry, your looks! belie you very much. I have brought something for you and these creatures."
Art looked at her, then at their children, then at the utter desolation of the house, and spreading his two hands over his face, he wept aloud. This was repentance. Margaret in exceeding surprise, rose and approached him:—
"Art dear," she said, "in the name of God, what's the matter?"
"Maybe my father's sick, mother," said little Atty; "sure, father, if you are, I an' the rest will go out ourselves, an' you can stay at home; but we needn't go this day, for my mammy brought us as much as will put us over it."
To neither the mother nor child did he make any reply; but wept on and sobbed as if his heart would break.
"Oh my God, my God," he exclaimed bitterly, "what have I brought you to, my darlin' wife and childre, that I loved a thousand times betther than my own heart? Oh, what have I brought you to?"
"Art," said his wife, and her eye kindled, "in the name of the heavenly God, is this sorrow for the life you led?"
"Ah, Margaret darlin'," he said, still sobbing; "it's long since I ought to a felt it; but how can I look back on that woful life? Oh my God, my God! what have I done, an' what have I brought on you!"
"Art," she said, "say to me that you're sorry for it; only let my ears hear you saying the words."
"Oh, Margaret dear," he sobbed, "from my heart—from the core of my unhappy heart—I am sorry—sorry for it all."
"Then there's hope," she exclaimed, clasping her hands, and looking up to heaven, "there is hope—for him—for him—for us all! Oh my heart," she exclaimed, quickly, "what is this?" and she scarcely uttered the words, when she sank upon the ground insensible—sudden joy being sometimes as dangerous as sudden grief.
Art, who now forgot his own sorrow in apprehension for her, raised her up, assisted by little Atty, who, as did the rest of the children, cried bitterly, on seeing his mother's eyes shut, her arms hanging lifelessly by her side, and herself without motion. Water, however, was brought by Atty; her face sprinkled, and a little put to her lips, and with difficulty down her throat. At length she gave a long deep-drawn sigh, and opening her eyes, she looked tenderly into her husband's face—
"Art dear," she said, in a feeble voice, "did I hear it right? And you said you were sorry?"
"From my heart I am, Margaret dear," he replied; "oh, if you knew what I feel this minute!"
She looked on him again, and her pale face was lit up with a smile of almost ineffable happiness.
"Kiss me," said she; "we are both young yet, Art dear, and we will gain our lost ground wanst more."
While she spoke, the tears of delight fell in torrents down her cheeks. Art kissed her tenderly, and immediately pulling out the medal, showed it to her.
She took the medal, and after looking at it, and reading the inscription—
"Well, Art," she said, "you never broke your oath—that's one comfort."
"No," he replied; "nor I'll never break this; if I do," he added fervently, and impetuously, "may God mark me out for misery and misfortune!"
"Whisht, dear," she replied; "don't give way to these curses—they sarve no purpose, Art. But I'm so happy this day!"
"An' is my father never to be drunk any more, mammy?" asked the little ones, joyfully; "an he'll never be angry wid you, nor bate you any more?"
"Whisht, darlins," she exclaimed; "don't be spakin' about that; sure your poor father never beat me, only when he didn't know what he was doin'. Never mention it again, one of you."
"Ah, Margaret," said Art, now thoroughly awakened, "what recompense can I ever make you, for the treatment I gave you? Oh, how can I think of it, or look back upon it?"
His voice almost failed him, as he uttered the last words; but his affectionate wife stooped and kissing away the tears from his cheeks, said—
"Don't, Art dear; sure this now is not a time to cry;" and yet her own tears were flowing;—"isn't our own love come back to us? won't we now have peace? won't we get industrious, and be respected again?"
"Ah, Margaret darling," he replied, "your love never left you; so don't put yourself in; but as for me—oh, what have I done? and what have I brought you to?"
"Well, now, thanks be to the Almighty, all's right. Here's something for you to ait; you must want it."
"But," he replied, "did these poor crathurs get anything? bekase if they didn't, I'll taste nothin' till they do."
"They did indeed," said Margaret; and all the little ones came joyfully about him, to assure him that they had been fed, and were not hungry.
The first feeling Art now experienced on going abroad was shame—a deep and overwhelming sense of shame; shame at the meanness of his past conduct—shame at his miserable and unsightly appearance—shame at all he had done, and at all he had left undone. What course now, however, was he to adopt? Being no longer stupified and besotted by liquor, into a state partly apathetic, partly drunken, and wholly shameless, he could not bear the notion of resuming his habits of mendicancy. The decent but not the empty and senseless, pride of his family was now reawakened in him, and he felt, besides, that labor and occupation were absolutely necessary to enable him to bear up against the incessant craving which he felt for the pernicious stimulant. So strongly did this beset him, that he suffered severely from frequent attacks of tremor and sensations that resembled fits of incipient distraction. Nothing, therefore, remained for him but close employment, that would keep both mind and body engaged.
When the fact of his having taken the pledge became generally known, it excited less astonishment than a person might imagine; in truth, the astonishment would have been greater, had he refused to take it at all, so predominant and full of enthusiasm was the spirit of temperance at that period. One feeling, however, prevailed with respect to him, which was, that privation of his favorite stimulant would kill him—that his physical system, already so much exhausted and enfeebled, would, break down—-and that poor Art would soon go the way of all drunkards.
On the third evening after he had taken the pledge, he went down to the man who had succeeded himself in his trade, and who, by the way, had been formerly one of his own journeymen, of the very men who, while he was running his career of dissipation, refused to flatter his vanity, or make one in his excesses, and who was, moreover, one of the very individuals he had dismissed. To this man he went, and thus accosted him—his name was Owen Gallagher.
"Owen," said he, "I trust in God that I have gained a great victory of late."
The man understood him perfectly well, and replied—
"I hope so, Art; I hear you have taken the pledge."
"Belyin' on God's help, I have."
"Well," replied Owen, "you couldn't rely on betther help."
"No," said Art, "I know I could not; but, Owen, I ran a wild and a terrible race of it—I'm grieved an' shamed to think—even to think of it."
"An' that's a good sign, Art, there couldn't be betther; for unless a man's heart is sorry for his faults, and ashamed of them too, it's not likely he'll give them over."
"I can't bear to walk the streets," continued Art, "nor to rise my head; but still something must be done for the poor wife and childre."
"Ah, Art," replied Owen, "that is the wife! The goold of Europe isn't value for her; an' that's what every one knows."
"But who knows it, an' feels it as I do?" said Art, "or who has the right either? howandiver, as I said, something must be done; Owen, will you venture to give me employment? I know I'm in bad trim to come into a dacent workshop, but you know necessity has no law;—it isn't my clo'es that will work, but myself; an', indeed, if you do employ me, it's not much I'll be able to do this many a day; but the truth is, if I don't get something to keep me busy, I doubt I won't be able to stand against what I feel both in my mind and body."
These words were uttered with such an air of deep sorrow and perfect sincerity as affected Gallagher very much.
"Art," said he, "there was no man so great a gainer by the unfortunate coorse you tuck as I was, for you know I came into the best part of your business; God forbid then that I should refuse you work, especially as you have turned over a new lafe;—or to lend you a helpin' hand either, now that I know it will do you and your family good, and won't go to the public-house. Come wid me."
He took down his hat as he spoke, and brought Art up to one of those general shops that are to be found in every country town like Ballykeerin.
"Mr. Trimble," said he, "Art Maguire wants a plain substantial suit o' clothes, that will be chape an' wear well, an' I'll be accountable for them; Art, sir, has taken the pledge, an' is goin' to turn over a new lafe, an' be as he wanst was, I hope."
"And there is no man," said the worthy shopkeeper, "in the town of Ballykeerin that felt more satisfaction than I did when I heard he had taken it. I know what he wants, and what you want for him, and he shall have it both cheap and good."
Such was the respect paid to those who nobly resolved to overcome their besetting sin of drink, and its consequent poverty or profligacy, that the knowledge alone that they had taken the pledge, gained them immediate good-will, as it was entitled to do. This, to be sure, was in Art's favor; but there was about him, independently of this, a serious spirit of awakened resolution and sincerity which carried immediate conviction along with it.
"This little matter," said the honest carpenter, with natural consideration for Art, "will, of coorse, rest between you an' me, Mr. Trimble."
"I understand your feeling, Owen," said he, "and I can't but admire it; it does honor to your heart."
"Hut," said Gallagher, "it's nothin'; sure it's jist what Art would do for myself, if we wor to change places."
Thus it is with the world, and ever will be so, till human nature changes. Art had taken the first step towards his reformation, and Owen felt that he was sincere; this step, therefore, even slight as it was, sufficed to satisfy his old friend that he would be safe in aiding him. Gallagher's generosity, however, did not stop here; the assistance which he gave Art, though a matter of secrecy between themselves, was soon visible in Art's appearance, and that of his poor family. Good fortune, however, did not stop here; in about a week after this, when Art was plainly but comfortably dressed, and working with Gallagher, feeble as he was, upon journeyman's wages, there came a letter from his brother Frank, enclosing ten pounds for the use of his wife and children. It was directed to a friend in Ballykeerin, who was instructed to apply it according to his own discretion, and the wants of his family, only by no means to permit a single shilling of it to reach his hands, unless on the condition that he had altogether given up liquor. This seemed to Art like a proof that God had rewarded him for the step he had taken; in a few weeks it was wonderful how much comfort he and his family had contrived to get about them. Margaret was a most admirable manager, and a great economist, and with her domestic knowledge and good sense, things went on beyond their hopes.
Art again was up early and down late—for his strength, by the aid of wholesome and regular food, and an easy mind, was fast returning to him—although we must add here, that he never regained the healthy and powerful constitution which he had lost. His reputation, too, was fast returning; many a friendly salutation he received from those, who, in his degradation, would pass him by with either ridicule or solemn contempt.
Nothing in this world teaches a man such well-remembered lessons of life as severe experience. Art, although far, very far removed from his former independence, yet, perhaps, might be said never to have enjoyed so much peace of mind, or so strong a sense of comfort, as he did now in his humble place with his family. The contrast between his past misery, and the present limited independence which he enjoyed, if it could be called independence, filled his heart with a more vivid feeling of thankfulness than he had ever known. He had now a bed to sleep on, with bona fide blankets—he had a chair to sit on—a fire on his hearth—and food, though plain, to eat; so had his wife, so had his children; he had also very passable clothes to his back, that kept him warm and comfortable, and prevented him from shivering like a reed in the blast; so had his wife, and so had his children. But he had more than this, for he had health, a good conscience, and a returning reputation. People now addressed him as an equal, as a man, as an individual who constituted a portion of society; then, again, he loved his wife as before, and lived with her in a spirit of affection equal to any they had ever felt. Why, this was, to a man who suffered what he and his family had suffered, perfect luxury.
In truth, Art now wondered at the life he had led,—he could not understand it; why he should have suffered himself, for the sake of a vile and questionable enjoyment—if enjoyment that could be called, which was no enjoyment—at least for the sake of a demoralizing and degrading habit, to fall down under the feet as it were, under the evil tongues, and the sneers—of those who constituted his world—the inhabitants of Ballykeerin—was now, that he had got rid of the thraldom, perfectly a mystery to him. Be this as it may, since he had regenerated his own character, the world was just as ready to take him up as it had been to lay him down.
Nothing in life gives a man such an inclination for active industry as to find that he is prospering; he has then heart and spirits to work, and does work blithely and cheerfully; so was it with Art. He and his employer were admirably adapted for each other, both being extremely well-tempered, honest, and first-rate workmen. About the expiration of the first twelve months, Art had begun to excite a good deal of interest in the town of Ballykeerin, an interest which was beginning to affect Owen Gallagher himself in a beneficial way. He was now pointed out to strangers as the man, who, almost naked, used to stand drunk and begging upon the bridge of Ballykeerin, surrounded by his starving and equally naked children. In fact, he began to get a name, quite a reputation for the triumph which he had achieved over drunkenness; and on this account Owen Gallagher, when it was generally known in the country that Art worked with him, found his business so rapidly extending, that he was obliged, from time to time, to increase the number of hands in his establishment. Art felt this, and being now aware that his position in life was, in fact, more favorable for industrious exertion than ever, resolved to give up journey work, and once more, if only for the novelty of the thing, to set up for himself. Owen Gallagher, on hearing this from his own lips, said he could not, nor would not blame him, but, he added—
"I'll tell you what we can do, Art—come into partnership wid me, for I think as we're gettin' an so well together, it 'ud be a pity, almost a sin, to part; join me, and I'll give you one-third of the business,"—by which he meant the profits of it.
"Begad," replied Art, laughing, "it's as much for the novelty of the thing I'm doin' it as any thing else; I think it 'ud be like a dhrame to me, if I was to find myself and my family as we wor before." And so they parted.
It is unnecessary here to repeat what we have already detailed concerning the progress of his early prosperity; it is sufficient, we trust, to tell our readers that he rose into rapid independence, and that he owed all his success to the victory that he had obtained over himself. His name was now far and near, and so popular had he become, that no teetotaller would employ any other carpenter. This, at length, began to make him proud, and to feel that his having given up drink, instead of being simply a duty to himself and his family, was altogether an act of great voluntary virtue on his part.
"Few men," he said, "would do it, an' may be, afther all, if I hadn't the ould blood in my veins—if I wasn't one of the great Fermanagh Maguires, I would never a' done it."
He was now not only a vehement Teetotaller, but an unsparing enemy to all who drank even in moderation; so much so, indeed, that whenever a man came to get work done with him, the first question he asked him was—"Are you a Teetotaller?" If the man answered "No," his reply was, "Well, I'm sorry for that, bekase I couldn't wid a safe conscience do your work; but you can go to Owen Gallagher, and he will do it for you as well as any man livin'."
This, to be sure, was the abuse of the principle; but we all know that the best things may be abused. He was, in fact, outrageous in defence of Teetotalism; attended all its meetings; subscribed for Band-money; and was by far the most active member in the whole town of Ballykeerin. It was not simply that he forgot his former poverty; he forgot himself. At every procession he was to be seen, mounted on a spanking horse, ridiculously over-dressed—the man, we mean, not the horse—flaunting with ribands, and quite puffed up at the position to which he had raised himself.
This certainly was not the humble and thankful feeling with which he ought to have borne his prosperity. The truth, however, was, that Art, in all this parade, was not in the beginning acting upon those broad, open principles of honesty, which, in the transactions of business, had characterized his whole life. He was now influenced by his foibles—by his vanity—and by his ridiculous love of praise. Nor, perhaps, would these have been called into action, were it not through the intervention of his old friend and pot companion, Toal Finnigan. Toal, be it known to the reader, the moment he heard that Art had become a Teetotaller, immediately became one himself, and by this means their intimacy was once more renewed; that is to say, they spoke in friendly terms whenever they met—but no entreaty or persuasion could ever induce Toal to enter Art's house; and the reader need not be told why. At all events, Toal, soon after he joined it, put himself forward in the Teetotal Movement with such prominence, that Art, who did not wish to be outdone in anything, began to get jealous of him. Hence his ridiculous exhibitions of himself in every manner that could attract notice, or throw little Toal into the shade; and hence also the still more senseless determination not to work for any but a Teetotaller; for in this, too, Toal had set him the example. Toal, the knave, on becoming a Teetotaller, immediately resolved to turn it to account; but Art, provided he could show off, and cut a conspicuous figure in a procession, had no dishonest motive in what he did; and this was the difference between them. For instance, on going up the town of Ballykeerin, you might see over the door of a middle-sized house, "Teetotal Meal Shop. N. B.—None but Teetotallers need come here."
Now every one knew Toal too well not to understand this; for the truth is, that maugre his sign, he never refused his meal or other goods to any one that had money to pay for them.
One evening about this time, Art was seated in his own parlor—for he now had a parlor, and was in a state of prosperity far beyond anything he had ever experienced before—Margaret and the children were with him; and as he smoked his pipe, he could not help making an observation or two upon the wonderful change which so short a time had brought about.
"Well, Margaret," said he, "isn't this wondherful, dear? look at the comfort we have now about us, and think of—; but troth I don't like to think of it at all."
"I never can," she replied, "without a troubled and a sinkin' heart; but, Art, don't you remember when I wanst wished you to become a Teetotaller, the answer you made me?"
"May be I do; what was it?"
"Why, you axed me—and you were makin' game of it at the time—whether Teetotallism would put a shirt or a coat to your back—a house over your head—give you a bed to lie on, or blankets to keep you and the childre from shiverin', an' coughin', an' barkin' in the could of the night? Don't you remember sayin' this?"
"I think I do; ay, I remember something about it now. Didn't I say that whiskey was my coach an' my carriage, an' that it made me a lord?"
"You did; well, now what do you say? Hasn't Teetotallism bate you in your own argument? Hasn't it given you a shirt an' a coat to your back, a good bed to lie on, a house over your head? In short, now, Art, hasn't it given you all you said, an' more than ever you expected? eh, now?"
"I give in, Margaret—you have me there; but," he proceeded, "it's not every man could pull himself up as I did; eh?"
"Oh, for God's sake, Art, don't begin to put any trust in your own mere strength, nor don't be boasting of what you did, the way you do; sure, we ought always to be very humble and thankful to God for what he has done for us; is there anything comes to us only through him?"
"I'm takin' no pride to myself," said Art, "divil a taste; but this I know, talk as you will, there's always somethin' in the ould blood."
"Now, Art," she replied, smiling, "do you know I could answer you on that subject if I liked?"
"You could," said Art; "come, then, let us hear your answer—come now—ha, ha, ha!"
She became grave, but complacent, as she spoke. "Well, then, Art," said she, "where was the ould blood when you fell so low? If it was the ould blood that riz you up, remember it was the ould blood that put you down. You drank more whiskey," she added, "upon the head of the ould blood of Ireland, and the great Fermanagh Maguires, than you did on all other subjects put together. No, Art dear, let us not trust to ould blood or young blood, but let us trust to the grace o' God, an' ax it from our hearts out."
"Well, but arn't we in great comfort now?"
"We are," she replied, "thank the Giver of all good for it; may God continue it to us, and grant it to last!"
"Last! why wouldn't it last, woman alive? Well, begad, after all, 'tis not every other man, any way—"
"Whisht, now," said Margaret, interrupting him, "you're beginnin' to praise yourself."
"Well, I won't then; I'm going down the town to have a glass or two o' cordial wid young Tom Whiskey, in Barney Scaddhan's."
"Art," she replied, somewhat solemnly, "the very name of Barney Scaddhan sickens me. I know we ought to forgive every one, as we hope to be forgiven ourselves; but still, Art, if I was in your shoes, the sorra foot ever I'd put inside his door. Think of the way he trated you; ah, Art acushla, where's the pride of the ould blood now?"
"Hut, woman, divil a one o' me ever could keep in bad feelin' to any one. Troth, Barney of late's as civil a crature as there's alive; sure what you spake of was all my own fault and not his; I'll be back in an hour or so."
"Well," said his wife, "there's one thing, Art, that every one knows."
"What is that, Margaret?"
"Why, that a man's never safe in bad company."
"But sure, what harm can they do me, when we drink nothing that can injure us?"
"Well, then," said she, "as that's the case, can't you as well stay with good company as bad?"
"I'll not be away more than an hour."
"Then, since you will go, Art, listen to me; you'll be apt to meet Toal Finnigan there; now, as you love me and your childre, an' as you wish to avoid evil and misfortune, don't do any one thing that he proposes to you: I've often tould you that he's your bitterest enemy."
"I know you did; but sure, wanst a woman takes a pick (pique) aginst a man she'll never forgive him. In about an hour mind." He then went out.
The fact is, that some few of those who began to feel irksome under the Obligation—by which I mean the knaves and hypocrites, for it is not to be supposed that among such an incredible multitude as joined the movement there were none of this description—some few, I say, were in the habit of resorting to Barney Scaddhan's for the social purpose of taking a glass of the true Teetotal cordial together. This drinking of cordial was most earnestly promoted by the class of low and dishonest publicans whom we have already described, and no wonder that it was so; in the first place, it's sale is more profitable than that of whiskey itself, and, in the second place, these fellows know by experience that it is the worst enemy that teetolism has, very few having ever strongly addicted themselves to cordial, who do not ultimately break the pledge, and resume the use of intoxicating liquor. This fact was well known at the time, for Father Costelloe, who did every thing that man could do to extend and confirm the principle of temperance, had put his parishioners on their guard against the use of this deleterious trash. Consequently, very few of the Ballykeerin men, either in town or parish, would taste it; when they stood in need of anything to quench their thirst, or nourish them, they confined themselves to water, milk, or coffee. Scarcely any one, therefore, with the exception of the knaves and hypocrites, tampered with themselves by drinking it.
The crew whom Art went to meet on the night in question consisted of about half a dozen, who, when they had been in the habit of drinking whiskey, were hardened and unprincipled men—profligates in every sense—fellows that, like Toal Finnigan, now adhered to teetotalism from sordid motives only, or, in other words, because they thought they could improve their business by it. It is true, they were suspected and avoided by the honest teetotallers, who wondered very much that Art Maguire, after the treatment he had formerly received at their hands, should be mean enough, they said, ever "to be hail fellow well met" with them again. But Art, alas! in spite of all his dignity of old blood, and his rodomontade about the Fermanagh Maguires, was utterly deficient in that decent pride which makes a man respect himself, and prevents him from committing a mean action.
For a considerable time before his arrival, there were assembled in Barney Scaddhan's tap, Tom Whiskey, Jerry Shannon, Jack Mooney, Toal Finnigan, and the decoy duck, young Barney Scaddhan himself, who merely became a teetotaller that he might be able to lure his brethren in to spend their money in drinking cordial.
"I wondher Art's not here before now," observed Tom Whiskey; "blood alive, didn't he get on well afther joinin' the 'totallers?"
"Faix, it's a miracle," replied Jerry Shannon, "there's not a more 'spbnsible man in Ballykeerin, he has quite a Protestant look;—ha, ha, ha!"
"Divil a sich a pest ever this house had as the same Art when he was a blackguard," said young Scaddhan; "there was no keepin' him out of it, but constantly spungin' upon the dacent people that wor dhrmkin' in it."
"Many a good pound and penny he left you for all that, Barney, my lad," said Mooney; "and purty tratement you gave him when his money was gone."
"Ay, an' we'd give you the same," returned Scaddhan, "if your's was gone, too; ha, ha, ha! it's not moneyless vagabones we want here."
"No," said Shannon, "you first make them moneyless vagabones, an' then you kick them out o' doors, as you did him."
"Exactly," said the hardened miscreant, "that's the way we live; when we get the skin off the cat, then we throw out the carcass."
"Why, dang it, man," said Whiskey, "would you expect honest Barney here, or his still honester ould rip of a father, bad as they are, to give us drink for nothing?"
"Now," said Finnigan, who had not yet spoken, "yez are talkin' about Art Maguire, and I'll tell yez what I could do; I could bend my finger that way, an' make him folly me over the parish."
"And how could you do that?" asked Whiskey.
"By soodherin' him—by ticklin' his empty pride—by dwellin' on the ould blood of Ireland, the great Fermanagh Maguires—or by tellin' him that he's betther than any one else, and could do what nobody else could."
"Could you make him drunk to-night?" asked Shannon.
"Ay," said Toal, "an' will, too, as ever you seen him in your lives; only whin I'm praisin' him do some of you oppose me, an' if I propose any thing to be done, do you all either support me in it, or go aginst me, accordin' as you see he may take it."
"Well, then," said Mooney, "in ordher to put you in spirits, go off, Barney, an' slip a glass o' whiskey a piece into this cordial, jist to tighten it a bit—ha, ha, ha!"
"Ay," said Tom Whiskey, "till we dhrink success to teetotalism, ha, ha, ha!"
"Suppose you do him in the cordial," said Shannon.
"Never mind," replied Toal; "I'll first soften him a little on the cordial, and then make him tip the punch openly and before faces, like a man."
"Troth, it's a sin," observed Moonoy, who began to disrelish the project; "if it was only on account of his wife an' childre."
Toal twisted his misshapen mouth into still greater deformity at this observation—
"Well," said he, "no matter, it'll only be a good joke; Art is a dacent fellow, and afther this night we won't repate it. Maybe," he continued "I may find it necessary to vex him, an' if I do, remember you won't let him get at me, or my bread's baked."
This they all promised, and the words were scarcely concluded, when Art entered and joined them. As a great portion of their conversation did not bear upon the subject matter of this narrative, it is therefore unnecessary to record it. After about two hours, during which Art had unconsciously drunk at least three glasses of whiskey, disguised in cordial, the topic artfully introduced by Toal was the Temperance Movement.
"As for my part," said he, "I'm half ashamed that I ever joined it. As I was never drunk, where was the use of it? Besides, it's an unmanly thing for any one to have it to say that he's not able to keep himself sober, barrin' he takes an oath, or the pledge."
"And why did you take it then?" said Art.
"Bekaise I was a fool," replied Toal; "devil a thing else."
"It's many a good man's case," observed Art in reply, "to take an oath against liquor, or a pledge aither, an' no disparagement to any man that does it."
"He's a betther man that can keep himself sober widout it," said Toal dryly.
"What do you mane by a betther man?" asked Art, somewhat significantly; "let us hear that first, Toal."
"Don't be talking' about betther men here," said Jerry Shannon; "I tell you, Toal, there's a man in this room, and when you get me a betther man in the town of Ballykeerin, I'll take a glass of punch wid you, or a pair o' them, in spite of all the pledges in Europe!"
"And who is that, Jerry," said Toal.
"There he sits," replied Jerry, putting his extended palm upon Art's shoulder and clapping it.
"May the divil fly away wid you," replied Toal; "did you think me a manus, that I'd go to put Art Maguire wid any man that I know? Art Maguire indeed! Now, Jerry, my throoper, do you think I'm come to this time o' day, not to know that there's no man in Ballykeerin, or the parish it stands in—an' that's a bigger word—that could be called a betther man that Art Maguire?"
"Come, boys," said Art, "none of your nonsense. Sich as I am, be the same good or bad, I'll stand the next trate, an' devilish fine strong cordial it is."
"Why, then, I don't think myself it's so good," replied young Scaddhan; "troth it's waiker than we usually have it; an' the taste somehow isn't exactly to my plaisin'."
"Very well," said Art; "if you have any that 'ill plaise yourself betther, get it; but in the mane time bring us a round o' this, an' we'll be satisfied."
"Art Maguire," Toal proceeded, "you were ever and always a man out o' the common coorse."
"Now, Toal, you're beginnin'," said Art; "ha, ha, ha—well, any way, how is that!"
"Bekaise the divil a taste o' fear or terror ever was in your constitution. When Art, boys, was at school—sure he an' I wor schoolfellows—if he tuck a thing into his head, no matter what, jist out of a whim, he'd do it, if the divil was at the back door, or the whole world goin' to stop him."
"Throth, Toal, I must say there's a great deal o' thruth in that. Divil a one livin' knows me betther than Toal Finigan, sure enough, boys."
"Arra, Art, do you remember the day you crossed the weir, below Tom Booth's," pursued Toal, "when the river was up, and the wather jist intherin' your mouth?"
"That was the day Peggy Booth fainted, when she thought I was gone; begad, an' I was near it."
"The very day."
"That may be all thrue enough," observed Tom Whiskey; "still I think I know Art this many a year, and I can't say I ever seen any of these great doing's. I jist seen him as aisy put from a thing, and as much afeard of the tongues of the nabors, or of the world, as another."
"He never cared a damn for either o' them, for all that," returned Toal; "that is, mind, if he tuck a thing into his head; ay, an' I'll go farther—divil a rap ever he cared for them, one way or other. No, the man has no fear of any kind in him."
"Why, Toal," said Mooney, "whether he cares for them or not, I think is aisily decided; and whether he's the great man you make him. Let us hear what he says himself upon it, and then we'll know."
"Very well, then," replied Toal; "what do you say yourself, Art? Am I right, or am I wrong?"
"You're right, Toal, sure enough; if it went to that, I don't care a curse about the world, or all Ballykeerin along wid it. I've a good business, and can set the world at defiance. If the people didn't want me, they wouldn't come to me."
"Come, Toal," said Jerry; "here—I'll hould you a pound note"—and lie pulled out one as he spoke—"that I'll propose a thing he won't do."
"Aha—thank you for nothing, my customer—I won't take that bait," replied the other; "but listen—is it a thing that he can do?"
"It is," replied Jerry; "and what's more, every man in the room can do it, as well as Art, if he wishes."
"Here," said Toal, clapping down his pound. "Jack Mooney, put these in your pocket till this matther's decided. Now, Jerry, let us hear it."
"I will;—he won't drink two tumblers of punch, runnin'; that is, one afther the other."
"No," observed Art, "I will not; do you want me to break the pledge?"
"Sure," said Jerry, "this is not breaking the pledge—it's only for a wager."
"No matther," said Art; "it's a thing I won't do."
"I'll tell you what, Jerry," said Toal, "I'll hould you another pound now, that I do a thing to-night that Art won't do; an' that, like your own wager, every one in the room can do."
"Done," said the other, taking out the pound note, and placing it in Mooney's hand—Toal following his example.
"Scaddhan," said Toal, "go an' bring me two tumblers of good strong punch. I'm a Totaller as well as Art, boys. Be off, Scaddhan."
"By Japers," said Tom Whiskey, as if to himself—looking at the same time as if he were perfectly amazed at the circumstance—"the little fellow has more spunk than Maguire, ould blood an' all! Oh, holy Moses; afther that, what will the world come to!"
Art heard the soliloquy of Whiskey, and looked about him with an air of peculiar meaning. His pride—his shallow, weak, contemptible pride, was up, while the honest pride that is never separated from firmness and integrity, was cast aside and forgotten. Scaddhan came in, and placing the two tumblers before Toal, that worthy immediately emptied first one of them, and then the other.
"The last two pounds are yours," said Jerry; "Mooney, give them to him."
Art, whose heart was still smarting under the artful soliloquy of Tom Whiskey, now started to his feet, and exclaimed—
"No, Jerry, the money's not his yet. Barney, bring in two tumblers. What one may do another may do; and as Jerry says, why it's only for a wager. At any rate, for one o' my blood was never done out, and never will."
"By Japers," said Whiskey, "I knew he wouldn't let himself be bate. I knew when it came to the push he wouldn't."
"Well, Barney," said Toal, "don't make them strong for him, for they might get into his head; he hasn't a good head anyway—let them be rather wake, Barney."
"No," said Art, "let them be as strong as his, and stronger, Barney; and lose no time about it."
"I had better color them," said Barney, "an' the people about the place 'll think it's cordial still."
"Color the devil," replied Art; "put no colorin' on them. Do you think I'm afeard of any one, or any colors?"
"You afeard of any one," exclaimed Tom Whiskey; "one o' the ould Maguires afeard! ha, ha, ha!—that 'ud be good!"
Art, when the tumblers came in, drank off first one, which he had no sooner emptied, than he shivered into pieces against the grate; he then emptied the other, which shared the same fate.
"Now," said he to Barney, "bring me a third one; I'll let yez see what a Maguire is."
The third, on making its appearance, was immediately drained, and shivered like the others—for the consciousness of acting-wrong, in spite of his own resolution, almost drove him mad. Of what occurred subsequently in the public house, it is not necessary to give any account, especially as we must follow Art home—simply premising, before we do so, that the fact of "Art Maguire having broken the pledge," had been known that very night to almost all Ballykeerin—thanks to the industry of Toal Finnigan, and his other friends.
His unhappy wife, after their conversation that evening, experienced one of those strange, unaccountable presentiments or impressions which every one, more or less, has frequently felt. Until lately, he had not often gone out at night, because it was not until lately that the clique began to reassemble in Barney Scaddhan's. 'Tis true the feeling on her part was involuntary, but on that very account it was the more distressing; her principal apprehension of danger to him was occasioned by his intimacy with Toal Finnigan, who, in spite of all her warnings and admonitions, contrived, by the sweetness of his tongue, to hold his ground with him, and maintain his good opinion. Indeed, any one who could flatter, wheedle, and play upon his vanity successfully, was sure to do this; but nobody could do it with such adroitness as Toal Finnigan.
It is wonderful how impressions are caught by the young from those who are older and have more experience than themselves. Little Atty, who had heard the conversation already detailed, begged his mammy not to send him to bed that night until his father would come home, especially as Mat Mulrennan, an in-door apprentice, who had been permitted that evening to go to see his family, had not returned, and he wished, he said, to sit up and let him in. The mother was rather satisfied than otherwise, that the boy should sit up with her, especially as all the other children and the servants had gone to bed.
"Mammy," said the boy, "isn't it a great comfort for us to be as we are now, and to know that my father can never get drunk again?"
"It is indeed, Atty;" and yet she said so; with a doubting, if not an apprehensive heart.
"He'll never beat you more, mammy, now?"
"No, darlin'; nor he never did, barrin' when he didn't know what he was doin'."
"That is when he was drunk, mammy?"
"Yes, Atty dear."
"Well, isn't it a great thing that he can never get drunk any more, mammy; and never beat you any more; and isn't it curious too, how he never bate me?"
"You, darlin'? oh, no, he would rather cut his arm off than rise it to you, Atty dear; and it's well that you are so good a boy as you are—for I'm afeard, Atty, that even if you deserved to be corrected, he wouldn't do it."
"But what 'ud we all do widout my father, mammy? If anything happened to him I think I'd die. I'd like to die if he was to go."
"Bekase, you know, he'd go to heaven, and I'd like to be wid him; sure he'd miss me—his own Atty—wherever he'd be."
"And so you'd lave me and your sisters, Atty, and go to heaven with your father!"
The boy seemed perplexed; he looked affectionately at his mother, and said—
"No, mammy, I wouldn't wish to lave you, for then you'd have no son at all; no, I wouldn't lave you—I don't know what I'd do—I'd like to stay wid you, and I'd like to go wid him, I'd—"
"Well, darlin', you won't be put to that trial this many a long day, I hope."
Just then voices were heard at the door, which both recognized as those of Art and Mat Mulrennan the apprentice.
"Now, darlin'," said the mother, who observed that the child was pale and drowsy-looking, "you may go to bed, I see you are sleepy, Atty, not bein' accustomed to sit up so late; kiss me, an' good-night." He then kissed her, and sought the room where he slept.
Margaret, after the boy had gone, listened a moment, and became deadly pale, but she uttered no exclamation; on the contrary, she set her teeth, and compressed her lips closely together, put her hand on the upper part of her forehead, and rose to go to the door. She was not yet certain, but a dreadful terror was over her—Could it be possible that he was drunk?—she opened it, and the next moment her husband, in a state of wild intoxication, different from any in which she had ever seen him, come in. He was furious, but his fury appeared to have been directed against the apprentice, in consequence of having returned home so late.
On witnessing with her own eyes the condition in which he returned, all her presentiments flashed on her, and her heart sank down into a state of instant hopelessness and misery.
"Savior of the world!" she exclaimed, "I and my childre are lost; now, indeed, are we hopeless—oh, never till now, never till now!" She wept bitterly.
"What are you cryin' for now?" said he; "what are you cryin' for, I say?" he repeated, stamping his feet madly as he spoke; "stop at wanst, I'll have no cry—cryin' what—at—somever."
She instantly dried her eyes.
"Wha—what kep that blasted whelp, Mul—Mulrennan, out till now, I say?"
"I don't know indeed, Art."
"You—you don't! you kno—know noth-in'; An' now I'll have a smash, by the—the holy man, I'll—I'll smash every thing in—in the house."
He then took up a chair, which, by one blow against the floor, he crashed to pieces.
"Now," said he, "tha—that's number one; whe—where's that whelp, Mul—Mulrennan, till I pay—pay him for stayin' out so—so late. Send him here, send the ska-min' sco—scoundrel here, I bid you.". Margaret, naturally dreading violence, went to get little Atty to pacify him, as well as to intercede for the apprentice; she immediately returned, and told him the latter was coming. Art, in the mean time, stood a little beyond the fireplace, with a small beach chair in his hand which he had made for Atty, when the boy was only a couple of years old, but which had been given to the other children in succession. He had been first about to break it also, but on looking at it, he paused and said—
"Not this—this is Atty's, and I won't break it."
At that moment Mulrennan entered the room, with Atty behind him, but he had scarcely done so, when Art with all his strength flung the hard beach chair at his head; the lad, naturally anxious to avoid it, started to one side out of its way, and Atty, while in the act of stretching out his arms to run to his father, received the blow which had been designed for the other. It struck him a little above the temple, and he fell, but was not cut. The mother, on witnessing the act, raised her arms and shrieked, but on hearing the heavy, but dull and terrible sound of the blow against the poor boy's head, the shriek was suspended when half uttered, and she stood, her arms still stretched out, and bent a little upwards, as if she would have supplicated heaven to avert it;—her mouth was half open—her eyes apparently enlarged, and starting as if it were out of their sockets; there she stood—for a short time so full of horror as to be incapable properly of comprehending what had taken place. At length this momentary paralysis of thought passed away, and with all the tender terrors of affection awakened in her heart, she rushed to the insensible boy. Oh, heavy and miserable night! What pen can portray, what language describe, or what imagination conceive, the anguish, the agony of that loving mother, when, on raising her sweet, and beautiful, and most affectionate boy from the ground whereon he lay, that fair head, with its flaxen locks like silk, fell utterly helpless now to this side, and now to that!
"Art Maguire," she said, "fly, fly,"—and she gave him one look; but, great God! what an object presented itself to her at that moment. A man stood before her absolutely hideous with horror; his face but a minute ago so healthy and high-colored, now ghastly as that of a corpse, his hands held up and clenched, his eyes frightful, his lips drawn back, and his teeth locked with strong and convulsive agony. He uttered not a word, but stood with his wild and gleaming eyes riveted, as if by the force of some awful spell, upon his insensible son, his only one, if he was then even that. All at once he fell down without sense or motion, as if a bullet had gone through his heart or his brain, and there lay as insensible as the boy he had loved so well.
All this passed so rapidly that the apprentice, who seemed also to have been paralyzed, had not presence of mind to do any thing but look from one person to another with terror and alarm.
"Go," said Margaret, at length, "wake up the girls, and then fly—oh, fly—for the doctor."
The two servant maids, however, had heard enough in her own wild shriek to bring them to this woful scene. They entered as she spoke, and, aided by the apprentice, succeeded with some difficulty in laying their master on his bed, which was in a back room off the parlor.
"In God's name, what is all this?" asked one of them, on looking at the insensible bodies of the father and son.
"Help me," Margaret replied, not heeding the question, "help me to lay the treasure of my heart—my breakin' heart—upon his own little bed within, he will not long use it—tendherly, Peggy, oh, Peggy dear, tendherly to the broken flower—broken—broken—broken, never to rise his fair head again; oh, he is dead," she said, in a calm low voice, "my heart tells me that he is dead—see how his limbs hang, how lifeless they hang. My treasure—our treasure—our sweet, lovin', and only little man—our only son sure—our only son is dead—and where, oh, where, is the mother's pride out of him now—where is my pride out of him now?"
They laid him gently and tenderly—for even the servants loved him as if he had been a relation—upon the white counterpane of his own little crib, where he had slept many a sweet and innocent sleep, and played many a lightsome and innocent play with his little sisters. His mother felt for his pulse, but she could feel no pulse, she kissed his passive lips, and then—oh, woful alternative of affliction!—she turned to his equally insensible father.
"Oh, ma'am," said one of the girls, who had gone over to look at Art; "oh, for God's sake, ma'am, come here—here is blood comin' out of the masther's mouth."
She was at the bedside in an instant, and there, to deepen her sufferings almost beyond the power of human fortitude, she saw the blood oozing slowly out of his mouth. Both the servants were now weeping and sobbing as if their hearts would break.
"Oh, mistress dear," one of them exclaimed, seizing her affectionately by both hands, and looking almost distractedly into her face, "oh, mistress dear, what did you ever do to desarve this?"
"I don't know, Peggy," she replied, "unless it was settin' my father's commands, and my mother's at defiance; I disobeyed them both, and they died without blessin' either me or mine. But oh," she said, clasping her hands, "how can one poor wake woman's heart stand all this—a double death—husband and son—son and husband—and I'm but one woman, one poor, feeble, weak woman—but sure," she added, dropping on her knees, "the Lord will support me. I am punished, and I hope forgiven, and he will now support me."
She then briefly, but distractedly, entreated the divine support, and rose once more with a heart, the fibres of which were pulled asunder, as it were, between husband and son, each of whose lips she kissed, having wiped the blood from those of her husband, with a singular blending together of tenderness, distraction and despair. She went from the one to the other, wringing her hands in dry agony, feeling for life in their hearts and pulses, and kissing their lips with an expression of hopelessness so pitiable and mournful, that the grief of the servants was occasioned more by her sufferings than by the double catastrophe that had occurred.