« PreviousContinue »
cold and still — hands clasped, eyes all sightless, turned heavenward! They laid her, the lot she craved, beside those she loved so well: and now the Conellans, chieftain and kern, fosterparent and foster-child, have vanished from the soil. But they are happy in a land fairer than what Shannon waters, sunnier skies than ever lighted Connaught.”
“Heavens!” exclaimed Cornelius, " and they are gone!”
“ Yes, in sooth are they,” replied I; “ clan Conellan and all, hushed together and at rest. Long, bravely, but, alas, vainly, did he struggle with disease. She was in time to gather his last confessions, his latest sighs—ah me, to contract the weary malady, and to die! Some day we shall drop a tear to the memory of the wise, the good ; those that were, but are not ! They died; but, in virtue of the act, entered on a new life, where love, heart's essence, subsists
free of convention, or place, or space, for ever. These sheets must now be consigned to the flames. What boots it? The soul that dictated, the sentiments they embody, can never die. Fire may destroy the form, but the spirit is beyond the reach of the elements.”
THE LABOURER'S HOPE.
As Cornelius advanced in years, his zeal did not evaporate in words, nor his desire to do good in vain profession. With him, to think was to do; to project, to execute. It was his desire to signalise life, not by name or fame, but by noble deeds and lofty aspirations for the good of his kind.
His leisure was spent in inquiries after the best modes of education, tilling the soil, and reclaiming the waste, as well as in engaging the services of able and experienced men.
“ There shall be no such estate in Ireland," said he, “as mine. Never a child, however humble, but shall receive the most careful fostering. Perish the baseness that would lay prostrate the soul of man, and leave incult the principles of our common nature! There shall be schools with every desirable accessory food for both body and mind; for it were brutal to expect starving infants to learn. Clothing, also, to those in need of it, enforcing cleanliness and self-respect by every available means. . “Religious education, so termed, I would leave to the clergy: as to secular culture, it were essential that each child should be intimately acquainted with its mother-tongue; with natural science in all its branches — from the plant in the field to the pebble on the shore — astronomy, botany, mineralogy, natural history, natural philosophy, and designing; also with insight into the structure of language, and into the constitution of the human mind. The art of learning languages, desirable in itself, helps to dissipate the magic prestige connected with the cabalistic forms in which the human intellect has loved to shroud itself; disperses prejudice, and lays open those so wonderful vehicles of thought and feeling betwixt man and
“ The meanest, poorest, most abortive essay should be carefully encouraged. Consider, it is the groundwork, the glorious first fruits, however imperfect, of an immortal soul. The utmost kindness and firmness should be used, associating toil with pleasure, till these children had been snatched from the bondage of apathy, ignorance, and want of thought, for ever.
“ Competent, well-salaried teachers, male and female, should be appointed from the first, and, as soon as possible, assistants of both sexes, from the more deserving of the pupils.
“ Each child should be impressed with the sacred claims of labour, and the incumbency under which he is born to be serviceable to his kind. Half his time, therefore, would be fitly devoted to study, half to industrial occupation. Exclusive of workshops, there should be attached to every school a farm and gardens effectually tilled; for manual dexterity opens fresh resources and constitutes an important branch of mental development. Occasionally, the young people, the teachers presiding, should have a little feast, the preparation of which, along with that of ordinary meals, would initiate the girls into the culinary art; winding up the whole with the graceful and humanizing dance.
“ Select vocal music should be sedulously cultivated, while business should open and close with hymns of praise and thankfulness to the ever compassionate God. The children should