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qualifying them for the influence they were to exercise, and the posts they were to fill. The world, its errors and its excellences, were alike excluded. Associates they had none, beyond those as incult as themselves ; or teachers who for the most part had run the same career.
Better, in truth, their books had been closed ; better they had remained illiterate as the clod, even as the fishers and sail-makers of Christ ! Better have cast scholastic lore aside ; praying to God on bended knees ; thanking him for the mighty gift of life, and abiding with the souls devotion by his unalterable law for ever. Better far have braced their loins, and waiting on the sick and dying, comforted the unhappy, minis. tered to the sorrow-laden. Better even, laying hold of spade and plough, have taught the right culture of the soil, and remaining with the rude peasant, banished unthrift and intemperance. For man, after all, was their theme ; with him
they were to live, to die, to smile, to weep; he was to be their cross, their care, their condemnation, or their “exceeding great reward.”
Far be it from me to disparage books, but only such books! Those who were to heal the souls and reassure the hearts of men struggling with misery, and the languor of mortal sickness, should be set in a measure to the task at once. They who had the call should be placed apart, while they who had no call should go their way. Yet who more willing than the devoted Irish priest to strive by night, to toil by day, to face disease and death, and to confront, as best he may, the great enemy, the man of sin, in all his countless wiles and disguises. Scant profit hath he— no name, no fame; but he has that whispered approval which, let a man's conviction be what it may, tells to his secret soul that he has fought the good fight, that his work has been rightly done.
The individual who occupied the apartment adjoining mine was a youth from Munster, with soul incult, as the heather on the hill. What he dreaded were creatures of another world ; beings who, instead of solacing themselves in the free fields of space, evinced unconquerable predilection for certain haunts, to the confusion and dismay of every beholder. He would not have passed a night alone were it to be made pope of Rome. Oft have I been roused from deepest slumber by yells emitted by poor Patrick in his dreams. “Do you hear, do you see them ?” he would exclaim. “Oh, Mother of mercy, save us !” Nor was it easy, so much was he impressed by frantic fancy, to rouse him; and when aroused, it was long indeed ere he regained tranquillity.
Even yet I cannot call to mind without a
shudder his distorted conceptions of the invisible world. Gracious heaven, he and those who resembled him peopled the infinite universe with spectral horrors, as grotesquely remote from the glorious reality, as deformity is remote from beauty, falsehood from truth.
“ Patrick,” I have accosted him in the still night, “how has your mind been so fraught with these absurdities ? ”
“Hush, Michael, hush, you know not who is listening ; speak them fairly, Michael, and they will do you no harm.”
“ Speak whom, Patrick ! What mean you by these crazy wanderings ?”
His voice would then assume a character of piteous entreaty, mixed with threats as to what might befal did I not respect the hour and the place. Was I mad? Had not a Dunboyne scholar died in that very room? Father Durlachan, did not he still look in at nights? And
nurse M‘Creavy, and Killen the porter, and "
“ Patrick,” said I, interrupting him, “ are you not aware that by the fiat of the Creator, once soul and body sever, the former has no power over its companion that it enters into new relations, very different from those with perishing matter ?” I tried to show him that we had no direct perception of spiritual natures, however the senses might be occasionally imposed on. Were there not irrefragable instances of individuals who saw sights and heard sounds that had no existence save in a perverted imagination ? Was it likely that beings who had passed into eternity should so demean themselves, had they the power, as to torment children, feeble-minded persons, and even the inferior animals? If the Deity suffered the immediate visible commerce of men and angels, would it not be for some great and good pur