Vol. XV. BOSTON, FEBRUARY, 1886. No. 2
"THE future of the Irish race in this country, will depend largely upon their capability of assuming an independent attitude in American politics."—RIGHT REV. DOCTOR IRELAND, St. Paul, Minn.
The Columbian Abbey of Derry.
One bright sunny day last summer I found myself in the city of Derry, with some hours to spare. I passed them in rambling aimlessly about whither fancy or accident led me,—now on the walls, endeavoring to recall the particulars of that siege so graphically described by Macaulay, now in the Protestant Cathedral musing on the proximity of luxuriously-cushioned pew and cold sepulchral monument along which the sun, streaming through the stained windows, threw a mellow glow that softened but did not remove the hideousness of the death's emblems on them—now wandering down the busy street and admiring the beauties of the Casino College, which, like the alien cathedral a little distance up, rejoices in the patronage of St. Columb and is built on the site of his old monastery. Here I lingered long, trying to picture to myself the olden glories of the spot on which I stood, for
"I do love these ancient ruins; We never tread upon them But we set our foot upon some reverend history;"
although here not an ivy-clasped gable, or even a mossy stone remains to claim the "passing tribute" of a sigh, or a vain regret for the golden days of our Irish Church. Yet its very barrenness of ruins made it dearer to my heart, for one never clings more fondly to the memory of a dear friend than when all mementoes of him are lost. As warned by the stroke of the town-clock, I hurried down to the station to be whirled away to Dublin, I thought that perhaps my fellow-readers of the MAGAZINE would bear with me while I gossiped for half an hour on the story of this grand old monastery, the mother-house of Iona.
You know where Derry is, or if you don't your atlas will tell you, that it is away up in the north of Ireland, where, situated on the shores of the Lough Foyle, coiling its streets round the slopes of a hill till on the very summit they culminate in the cross-crowned tower of St. Columb's Cathedral, it lies in the midst of a beautiful country just like a cameo fallen into a basket of flowers. The houses cluster round the base of the hill on the land side, spread themselves in irregular masses over the adjoining level, or clamber up the opposite rise on the brow of which stands St. Eugene's Cathedral, yet unfinished, and the pile of turrets which constitute Magee College. A noble bridge spans the Foyle, and through a forest of shipmasts one may see on the other side the city rising up from the water, and stretching along the bending shore till it becomes lost in the villa-studded woods of Prehen.
The massive walls, half hidden by encroaching commerce, the grim-looking gates, and the old rusty cannon whose mouth thundered the "No" of the "Maiden City" to the rough advances of James, in 1689, give the city a mediaeval air that well accords with its monastic origin. For, let her citizens gild the bitter pill as they may, the cradle of Derry—the Rochelle of Irish Protestantism—was rocked by monks—aye, by monks in as close communion with Rome as are the dread Jesuits to-day.
Fourteen hundred years ago the Foyle flowed on to mingle its waters with ocean as calmly as it does to-day, but its peaceful bosom reflected a far different scene. Then the fair, fresh face of nature was unsullied by the hand of man. "The tides flowed round the hill which was of an oval form, and rose 119 feet above the level of the sea, thus forming an island of about 200 acres." A Daire or oak grove spread its leafy shade over the whole, and gave shelter to the red deer and an unceasing choir of little songsters. It was called in the language of the time "Daire-Calgachi." The first part of the name in the modern form of Derry, still remains—though now the stately rows of oak have given way to the streets of a busy city, and the smoke of numerous factories clouds the atmosphere.
One day, in the early part of 546, there visited the grove, in company with the local chieftain, a youth named Columba, a scion of the royal race of the O'Donnells. He was captivated by its beauty. It seemed the very spot for the monastery he was anxious to establish. He was only a deacon; but the fame of his sanctity had already filled the land, and the princes of his family were ever urging him to found a monastery whose monks, they hoped, would reflect his virtues and increase the faith and piety of their clan. This seemed the very spot for such an establishment. The neighborhood of the royal fortress of Aileach, that
"Sits evermore like a queen on her throne And smiles on the valleys of green Innishowen,"
promised security; the river an unfailing supply of fish; the woods material to build with; and, better than all, the lord of the district was his cousin Ainmire, from whom Columba had only to ask to receive. He did ask the island for God, and his request was joyfully complied with.
It was just three years after the deacon-abbot of Monte Casino had passed to his reward, that the young Irish deacon began his monastery. To erect monastic buildings in those days was a work of very little labor. A wooden church, destined in the course of time to give place to a more durable edifice—the seat of a bishopric—was first erected. Then the cells of the monks were put up. They were of circular form and of the simplest construction. A stout post was firmly planted in what was to be the centre, and a number of slighter poles were then placed at equal distances round it. The interstices—space however having been left for a door—were filled up with willow or hazel saplings in the form of basketwork. From the outer poles rafters sprang to the centre-posts, and across them were laid rows of laths over which a fibry web of sod was thrown, and the whole thatched with straw or rushes. The inside of the wall was lined with moss—the outside plastered with soft clay. A rough wooden bed—and in the case of Columba himself and many of his monks—a stone pillow, a polaire or leathern satchel for holding books, a writing-desk and seat, formed the furniture of this rude cell, which was the ordinary dwelling of monk and student during the golden age of the Irish Church.
Only a few weeks elapsed from the time that the first tree was felled till the new community, or rather order, took up their abode in it, and the swelling strain of their vespers was borne down the Lough by the rippling breeze and echoed by the religious, whose convents, presided over by SS. Frigidian and Cardens sentinelled the mouth of the Lough at Moville and Coleraine. The habit of these monks—similar to that of Iona and Lindisfarne, consisted of "the cowl—of coarse texture, made of wool, retaining its natural color and the tunic, or under habit, which was also white. If the weather was particularly severe an amphibalus, or double mantle, was permitted. When engaged at work on the farm the brethern wore sandals which were not used within the monastery."
Though their time was mainly devoted to prayer, meditation and the various other religious exercises, yet their rule made them apply every spare moment to copying and illuminating MSS. or some other kind of manual or intellectual labor, according as their strength and talents permitted. By this, people were attracted to the spot. Houses sprang up in the neighborhood of the monastery, that continually increasing in number, at length grew into a city, just as from a similar monastic germ have sprung nearly all the great German cities.
Columba in the busy years that elapsed between 546 and his final departure from Ireland in 563, looked upon Derry as his home. It was his first and dearest monastery. It was in his own Tyrconnell, but a few miles from that home by Lough Gartan, where he first saw the light, and from his foster home amid the mountains of Kilmacrenan, that, rising with their green belts of trees and purple mantles of heather over the valleys, seemed like huge festoons hung from the blue-patched horizon. Then the very air was redolent of sanctity. If he turned to the south, the warm breezes that swayed his cowl reminded him that away behind those wooded hills in Ardstraw, prayed Eugene, destined to share with him the patronage of the diocese, and that farther up, St. Creggan, whose name the Presbyterian farmers unconsciously preserve in the designation of their townland, Magheracreggan, presided over Scarrabern, the daughter-house of Ardstraw. Then turning slowly northwards he would meet with the persons, or relics, of St. O'Heney in Banagher, St. Sura in Maghera, St. Martin in Desertmartin, St. Canice in Limavady, St. Goar in Aghadoey, St. Cardens in Coleraine, St. Frigidian in Moville, St. Comgell in Culdaff, St. McCartin in Donagh, St. Egneach in the wildly beautiful pass of Mamore, St. Mura in Fahan, and his own old teacher, St. Cruithnecan in Kilmacrenan. All these, and many others, whose names tradition but feebly echoes, were contemporary, or nearly so, with him; and with many of them, he was united in the warmest bonds of friendship,—a friendship that served to rivet him the more to Derry. Even the budding glories of Durrow and Kells could not draw him away from his "loved oak-grove;" and at length, when the time had come for him to go forth and plant the faith in a foreign land, it was the monks of Derry who received his last embrace ere he seated himself with his twelve companions, also monks of Derry, in his little osier coracle, and with tearful eyes watched his grove till the topmost leaf had sunk beneath the curving wave.
When twenty-seven years after he visited his native land, as the deputy of an infant nation and the saviour of the bards, on whom, but for his kindly intercession, the hand of infuriated justice had heavily fallen, his first visit was to Derry. It was probably during this visit that he founded that church on the other side of the Foyle, whose ivy-clad walls and gravelled area the reader of "Thackeray's Sketch Book" may remember; but few know that it was wantonly demolished by Dr. Weston (1467-1484), the only Englishman who ever held the See of Derry; and "who," adds Colgan, "began out of the ruins to build a palace for himself, which the avenging hand of God did not allow him to complete."
Columba's heart ever yearned to Derry. In one of his poems he tells us "how my boat would fly if its prow were turned to my Irish oak grove." And one day when "that grey eye, which ever turned to Erin," was gazing wistfully at the horizon, where Ireland ought to appear, his love for Derry found expression in a little poem, the English version of which I transcribed from Cardinal Moran's "Irish Saints."
"Were the tribute of all Alba mine, From its centre to its border, I would prefer the sight of one cell In the middle of fair Derry.
"The reason I love Derry is For its quietness, for its purity; Crowded full of heaven's angels, Is every leaf of the oaks of Derry.
"My Derry, my little oak grove, My abode and my little cell, O eternal God in heaven above, Woe be to him who violates it."
With the same love that he himself had for his "little oak grove," he seems to have inspired the annalists of his race, for on turning over the pages of the Four Masters, the eye is arrested by such entries as,—
"1146, a violent tempest blew down sixty oaks in Derry-Columbkille." "1178, a storm prostrated one hundred and twenty oaks in Derry-Columbkille."
* * * * *
These little tokens of reverence for the trees, which had been sanctified by his presence and love, show us how deep a root his memory had in the affections of the Donegal Franciscans, when they paused in their serious and compendious work to record every little accident that happened to his monastery. But, alas, all the protection that O'Donnell's clan might afford, all the fear that Columba's "Woe" might inspire, could not save his grove. Like many a similar one in Ireland, storms, and the destructive hand of man, have combined to blot it off the face of the landscape, and nothing now remains but the name.
The monastery, too, shared the same fate. Burned by the Danes in 812, 989, 997 and 1095, phoenix-like it rose again from its ashes, each time in greater beauty. The church, after one of these burnings, was rebuilt of stone; and from its charred and blackened appearance after the next burning, received the name of Dubh-Regles or Black Church of the Abbey—a name by which in the Annals the monastery itself is often called.
But Derry had other enemies than the Danes. In 1124 we find "Ardgar, Prince of Aileach, killed by the ecclesiastics of Doire-Columbkille in the defence of their church. His followers in revenge burned the town and churches." The then abbot was St. Gelasius, who, after presiding sixteen years over the monastery, which he had entered a novice in early youth, was, in 1137, raised to the Primatial See of Armagh; and dying in 1174, nearly closes the long calendar of Irish Saints. The first year of his abbacy (1121) had been marked by the death in the monastery of "Domwald Magloughlin Ardrigh of Erin, a generous prince, charitable to the poor and liberal to the rich, who, feeling his end approaching, had withdrawn thither,"—a fact which shows the great veneration in which this monastery was held.
The name of the next abbot, Flathbert O'Brolcan, or Bradley, is one of the brightest in the Annals of Derry. He was greatly distinguished for his sanctity and learning, but still more for his administrative abilities. As abbot of Derry he was present at the Synod of Kells in 1152. Six years after, at the Synod of Brightaig (near Trim, county Meath), a continuation or prorogation of that of Kells, Derry was created an Episcopal See and Flathbert appointed its first bishop. A much more honorable distinction was given him, when by the same synod, he was appointed "prefect general of all the abbeys of Ireland," an appointment which must probably be limited to the Columbian Abbeys, which were at the time very numerous. Some idea of the wealth and power of the Columbian order may be gathered from the records that the Masters have given us of Flathbert's visitations. "In 1150 he visited Tireoghain (Tyrone), and obtained a horse from every chieftain; a cow from every two biataghs; a cow from every three freeholders; a cow from every four villeins; and twenty cows from the king himself; a gold ring of five ounces, his horse and battle-dregs from the son of O'Lochlain, king of Ireland." "In 1153 he visited Down and Antrim and got a horse from every chieftain; a sheep from every hearth; a horse and five cows from O'Dunlevy, and an ounce of gold from his wife." And in 1161 he visited Ossory, and "in lieu of the tribute of seven score oxen due to him, accepted four hundred and twenty ounces of pure silver."
But though thus honored by the hierarchy and people, enemies were not wanting to him. In 1144 the monastery had been burned and hostile clouds were again gathering round it, when in 1163 Flathbert erected a cashel or series of earthen fortifications, which baffled for a time the enmity of the plunderer. A passing calm was thus assured him, of which he took advantage, in 1164, to commence the building of his Cathedral, called in Irish "Teampull-mor," a name which one of the city parishes still retains. But the times were troublous, and hardly was the Cathedral finished than we find in 1166 "O'More burning Derry as far as the church Dubh-Regles."
In 1175, on the death of their abbot the monks of Iona elected Flathbert; but he felt that the shadows of death were gathering round him, and he would not leave his own monastery of Derry. He died the same year, and "was buried in the monastery, leaving a great reputation for wisdom and liberality;" but before his death he had the pleasure of knowing that "1175, Donough O'Carolan perfected a treaty of friendship with the abbey and town, and gave to the abbey a betagh townland of Donoughmore and certain duties."
Some years before his death Flathbert had resigned the See of Derry in favor of Dr. Muredach O'Coffey, who, having been consecrated bishop of Ardstraw had, in 1150, transferred that See to Maghera or Rathlure, thus uniting Ardstraw and Rathlure. His accession to Derry joined the three into one, to which under Dr. O'Carolan in the next century, Innishowen was added, thus forming the modern diocese.
Dr. O'Coffey took up his residence in the abbey where, on the 10th of February, 1173, he breathed his last. Archdall in his Monasticon calls him "St. Muredach;" but the old Annalists content themselves with saying that "he was the sun of science, the precious stone and resplendent gem of knowledge, the bright star and rich treasury of learning; and as in charity so, too, was he powerful in pilgrimage and prayer." The Masters add that "a great miracle was performed on the night of his death; the dark night was illumined from midnight to day-break; and the neighboring parts of the world which were visible were in one blaze of light; and all persons arose from their beds imagining it was day."
But I must now hasten to the end, for there is little in the history of the next four centuries over which one loves to linger. The story it tells is the old one of robberies and murders and burnings. It records the first rumblings of that storm so soon to break over that land and make of our island a vast coliseum, drenching it with the blood of martyrs. I have often thought what a pang it must have cost the heart of Brother Michael Oblery to pen such entries as these:
"1195, Rury, son of Dunlere, chief of Ulidia, plunders Derry-Columbkille with an English force."
"1197, Sir John De Courcy plunders the abbey of Derry."
"1198, Sir John De Courcy again plunders Derry abbey."
How his eyes must have filled as he glanced in memory over the long tale of his country's sufferings, on the record of which he was about to enter. 'Twas bad enough to see the Dane lay sacrilegious hands on the sacred vessels; but it was worse still to behold one's fellow-Catholic apply the robber's torch to the church of God where, perhaps, at that very moment our Lord himself lay hid under the sacramental veils. Yet these were the men who, from the Loire to the Jordan had fought the church's battle so gallantly,—whose countrymen would only hold the Calabrian kingdom, that their lances had purchased so dearly, as vassals of the Pope,—the very men who themselves were studding the Pale with those architectural gems, of which the ruins of Dunbrody and its sister abbeys still speak so eloquently. It was a strange fancy that made them tumble the Irish monastery to-day, and lay the foundation of an Anglo-Irish one to-morrow. Yet so it was; for in the charters of many of those monasteries, in which, it was enacted in 1380, that no mere Irishman should be allowed to take vows, the name of John De Courcy is entered as founder or benefactor. One hardly knows whether to condemn him for destroying Columba's favorite abbey, or praise him for the solicitude he expresses in his letter to the Pope for the proper preservation of Columba's relics. The acts of the man and his nation are so contradictory, that the only reasonable conclusion we can draw from them is the practical one, never again to wonder that the faith of such men withered at the first blast of persecution.
Nevertheless, the monastery survived these attacks; for in the early part of the fifteenth century, we find the then abbot of Derry negotiating a peace between the English and O'Donnell. But in its subsequent annals nothing more than the mere date of an inmate's death meets us till we come to the great catastrophe, which ended at once the monastery and order of Columba. Cox thus tells the story: "Colonel Saintlow succeeded Randolph in the command of the garrison and lived as quietly as could be desired, for the rebels were so daunted by the former defeat that they did not dare to make any new attempt; but unluckily on the 24th of April, 1566, the ammunition took fire and blew up the town and fort of Derry, so that the soldiers were obliged to embark for Dublin." "This disaster was regarded at the time as a divine chastisement for the profanation of St. Columba's church and cell, the latter being used by the heretical soldiery as a repository of ammunition, while the former was defiled by their profane worship."
[Footnote 1: Sampson.]
[Footnote 2: Cardinal Moran "Irish Saints in G. Brit." p 121.]
[Footnote 3: Theiner. Mon. Vat. p. 48.]
An actor once delivered a letter of introduction to a manager, which described him as an actor of great merit, and concluded: "He plays Virginius, Richelieu, Hamlet, Shylock, and billiards. He plays billiards the best."
[Footnote 4: Cox. Hist. pt. I. p. 322.]
[Footnote 5: O'Sulliv. Cath. Hist. p. 96.]
The Penitent on the Cross.
Few deeds of guilt are strangers to my eyes, These hands of mine have wrought full share of sin, My very heart seemed steeled to pity's cries: Whence then this thought that melts my soul within?
What is there in that Form that moves me so? So sweet a victim ne'er mine eyes beheld; That beauteous face, that majesty of woe, That hidden something from my sight withheld.
Cease thou at least, nor join the mocking throng, Thou heartless sharer in our common doom! Just meed for us, but He hath done no wrong; All seems so strange—what means the gathering gloom?
That lonely mother, there oppressed with woe, O'erheard me now I saw her raise her eyes; To bless me—and with clasping hands as though She craved a something, through the darkening skies.
Hear how the priests discuss with mocking scorn The triple scroll above His crowned head. "Jesus of Nazareth," the lowly born; "King of the Jews," in Royal David's stead.
Ah, me; but I have heard that name of old From waylaid victims in my outlaw den. They won me from fell purpose as they told His deeds of love and wonder amongst men.
They told me how the sea in billows dashed Became as marble smooth beneath His feet; How He rebuked the winds to fury lashed, And they were hushed to murmurs low and sweet.
He, then it was that gave the blind their sight, And made the palsied leap with bounding tread; And as you'd wake the sleeping in the night From even their sleep awoke the slumbering dead.
Oh, Master, had I known Thee in those days, Fain might I too have followed Thee as Friend; But then I was an outlaw by the ways, And now 'tis late—my days are at an end.
"No, not too late." Oh, God! whose is that voice That sounds within me such a heavenly strain, And makes my being to its depths rejoice As if it felt creation's touch again?
What is that light, that glorious light which brings Such wondrous knowledge of things all unseen, And yet wherein I see fair, far-off things To mortal vision hid, however keen.
And centred in that flood of golden light, One truth that catches all its scattered beams— Illumed above the rest so fair, so bright: It is thy God whose blood beside thee streams.
Oh, God of glory! hear the outlaw's prayer, And in Thy home but kindly think of me; I dare but ask to be remembered there, Nor heaven I seek, but to be loved by Thee.
From off the Cross whereon the Saviour hung Fell on his ears response of wondrous love, More sweet than though the cherubim had sung The sweetest songs they sing in heaven above.
Yes, loved but not remembered thou shalt be— The absent only may remembrance claim— But in my kingdom thou shalt dwell with me, Companion of my glory as my shame.
Amen, amen, I say to thee that thou, Ere yet another day illume the skies, With crown unlike to this that binds my brow Shalt share the glories of my paradise.
F. E. EMON.
The Celt in America.
It is the common delusion of our day that Americans as a people are of Anglo-Saxon lineage. This has been said and reiterated, until it descends into the lowest depths of sycophancy and utter folly. It is false in fact, for above all other claimants, that of the Celt is by far the best. Glancing back to our primeval history, we find the Kelt to be the centre-figure of its legends and traditions. We are told by an old chronicle, that Brendan, an Irishman, discovered this continent about 550 A. D., and named it Irland-Kir-Mikla, or Great Eire; this is corroborated by the Scandinavians. Iceland was settled in the sixth century by Irish, and when the Norsemen settled there, they found the remains of an Irish civilization in churches, ruins, crosses and urns: thus, it is not at all improbable that the Celts of those islands sent out exploring parties who discovered for the first time the American continent. Passing over the myths and legends of that curious and quaint era, let us read the pages of authentic American history.
On that memorable October day, when the caravels of Columbus came to anchor in the New World, the Celt acted well his part in that great drama. He who first reached land, from the ships of Columbus, was a Patrick Maguiras, an Irishman. Columbus in his second voyage had on board an Irish priest, Father Boyle, and several of his crew were Celts. In the early discoveries and settlements the Kelt was ever in the van of the pioneers of Western civilization; he explored rivers, bays, and forests, while the Anglo-Saxon scarce tread on American soil until the close of the sixteenth century. The first gateway to civilization for the West, was made by priests from France, among whom were many Irish missionaries, who were forced to fly their native land and seek shelter elsewhere. St. Augustine and New Mexico were founded by the Spaniards long before a cabin was built in Jamestown, and the Spanish and French sovereigns ruled numerous flourishing dependencies in the New World ere the English Pilgrims had seen Plymouth. The Anglo-Saxons, then, were not so forward in explorations and discoveries as their neighbors, the Celts and Latins. Review the epoch of the colonial development, and we find that the Celt surpasses the Saxon.
The Huguenots fled from France; the Scotchman left his native heather to escape despotism; the Irishman exiled from his patrimony sought a home in the American wilds. Many a Spaniard made his Nova Iberia in the South, and the log-cabins of the French pioneers dotted the north-western wilderness. The Swedes founded Delaware, and New York was created by the stolid Dutch. The Moravians and the Welsh came hither likewise; the Puritans fled Merry England and Quakers sought religious freedom in America; but the great body of the English people believing in the State and the religion of their sovereign, had no desire to risk fortune here, especially when the laws were made for their benefit even if at the expense of the colonists. Thus, with exceptions of the Quaker and the Puritan, some few Cavaliers and the paupers, the great body of the Anglo-Saxon people remained at home. In American colonization, Anglo-Saxonism was but a drop in the bucket. Among all the famous thirteen colonies there was not one settled by Saxons exclusively; and in all of the colonies the Celt predominated. The Puritans when they founded Massachusetts, rigorously excluded all who differed from them; nevertheless the Celt waxed strong in New England. "It was," says Hawthorne, "no uncommon thing in those days to see an advertisement in the colonial paper, of the arrival of fresh Irish slaves and potatoes." Bunker Hill itself was named after a knoll in county Antrim. Faneuil Hall was the gift of a Celt, and the plan of it was drawn by Berkeley, the Irish philosopher, who said prophetically,
"Westward the course of empire takes its way; The four first acts already past, A fifth shall close the drama with the day; Time's noblest empire is the last."
The Boston Irish Charitable Society was organized near a century and a half ago, and the first paper mill in Massachusetts was built by a Celt named Thomas Smith. The names of Belfast, Londonderry, Ulster, Sullivan and Bangor show the nationality of their settlers. The founders of the Empire State were Teutons; but when it passed to the English realm, James II. sent over as Governor, Colonel Dongan, an Irishman. This Governor during his term of office, brought over large numbers of Irish emigrants. Pennsylvania was the most Keltic of the colonies. The first daily paper in the United States was founded by John Dunlap, an Irishman. So great was Celtic emigration to this State that in one year (1729) there came to Pennsylvania no fewer than 6,208 persons, of whom 242 were Germans, 247 English, and 5,653 Irishmen. So numerous were Celts that Washington once said, "Put me in Rockbridge County, and I'll find men enough to save the Revolution." In Maryland it was the same. The first ship that sailed into Baltimore was Irish, though the figure-head, Cecil Calvert, was English; but the town from which he derived his title, and after which the metropolis of Maryland is named, is in Galway, Ireland. In the Old Dominion, the first settlers were in good part English. The Scotch and Welsh were very powerful, and the Irish were very numerous. The impress if the Celts in Virginia is seen in Carroll and Logan counties, Lynchburg, Burkesville, Brucktown and Wheeling.
In 1652, Cromwell recommended that Irishwomen be sold to merchants, and shipped to New England and Virginia, there to be sold as wives to the colonists. A manuscript of Dr. Lingard's puts the number sold, at about 60,000; Brondin, a contemporary, places the number at 100,000. The names of these women have become anglicized, for the English law forbade the Irish to have an Irish name, and commanded them to assume English names. North Carolina was settled mainly by the Scotch and Welsh, with English and Irish additions. So was Georgia. In South Carolina the Irish predominated. "Of all the countries," says the historian of South Carolina, "none has furnished this province with so many inhabitants as Ireland. Scarce a ship leaves any of its ports for Charleston that is not crowded with men, women, and children." So much for the so-called English colonies. Among the foremost of distinguished men in the colonial times were the Celts. The first man elected to an office, not appointed by the Crown, was James Moore, Governor of North Carolina. James Logan, the successor of Penn, and William Thompson, were both Celts. Let us glance at the Revolution; it is in this struggle that the Celt was covered with glory; and either on the field or in the forum he was always in the van. The Celts of Mecklenburg made a declaration of freedom over a year before the Declaration of Independence was made.
Thomas Jefferson, the author of the Declaration of Independence, was of Welsh ancestry, and thus a Celt. John Hancock inherited Celtic blood from his mother, Nora O'Flaherty. Behold the array of Celts who signed the Declaration in 1776: Carroll, Thornton, McKean, Rutledge, Lewis, Hart, Lynch, Jefferson and Reed. A merchant of Philadelphia, John Nixon, first read to the people that immortal paper. Charles Thompson, Thomas McHenry and Patrick Henry, the Demosthenes of the Revolution, were Celts. The poetry of the loyal English writers afford abundant proof of the influence and numbers of the Celts in those days. The first blow for Independence was struck by James Sullivan of New Hampshire, and the first blow on sea was struck by Jeremiah O'Brien, of Machias, Maine. A Celt, Thomas Cargill, of Ballyshannon, saved the records of Concord when the British soldiery went out from Boston to destroy the military stores in Middlesex. Nor was it in the opening scenes alone that the Celts were prominent; but from the death of McClary on Bunker Hill, to the close of the war, they fought with a vigor and bravery unsurpassed. Who charged through the snowdrifts around Quebec but Montgomery, a Celt.
Who fought so bravely at Brandywine? at Bemis's Heights, who saved the day but Morgan's Irish Rifles. Was it not mad Anthony Wayne, a Celt, who won Stony Point? General Sullivan, a Celt, avenged the Wyoming Massacre. General Hand, a Celt, first routed the Hessians. The hero of Bennington was a Celt, General Stark; so were Generals Conway, Knox, Greene, Lewis, Brigadier Generals Moore, Fitzgerald, Hogan, Colonels Moylan and Butler. In fact, American annals are so replete with trophies of Celtic valor that it would be vain to narrate them all.
"A hundred battlefields attest, a hundred victories show, How well at liberty's behest they fought our country's foe."
The only society that ever had the honor of enrolling the name of Washington among its members was the Friendly Knights of St. Patrick. It is an incident worthy of remark that at Yorktown it was a Celt, General O'Hara, who gave to America the symbol of England's final defeat. When the war of the Revolution was ended the Celt laid aside the sword to engage in the arts of peace and build up the industries of the country.
Twenty Irish merchants subscribed $500,000 to pay the soldiers, and they aided in every possible way the young and weak government. Then the Celtic statesmen rose to view Hamilton, Jefferson, Gov. Sullivan of New Hampshire, Gov. Sullivan of Massachusetts, De Witt Clinton of New York, John Armstrong, jr., of Pennsylvania, Calhoun, Louis McLane and George Campbell. Since those days the numbers and influence of the Celts has been constantly increasing, and were it not for the sturdy Scotchman, the Welshman, and Irishman our nation would still be a conjury of the future. On the battlefield Grant, Meade, McClellan, Scott, Sheridan, McDowell, Shields, Butler, McCook, McPherson, Kearney, Stonewall Jackson, McClernand, Rowan, Corcoran, Porter, Claiborne and Logan show the valor of the Celt. Jones, Barry, Decatur, McDonough, Stewart and Blakely are the ideals of the American sailor. Morse, McCormack, Fulton are among our greatest inventors. Jackson, Pierce, Buchanan, Wilson, Cameron, Douglas, Blaine, Arthur and Hill are our Celtic statesmen. Charles O'Conor, McVeagh, Stuart, Black, Campbell, McKinley, McLean, Rutledge are our greatest jurists. Poe, Greeley, Shea, Baker, Savage, England, Hughes, Spalding, O'Rielly, Barrett, Purcell, Keene, McCullough, Boucicault, Bennett, Connery and Jones are Celts, names famous in journalism, religion, literature and drama. The Celt, in the words of Henry Clay, are "bone of our bone" and "flesh of our flesh," thus acknowledging him to be part and parcel of our nation.
Let us leave the flowery field of rhetoric and strike the hard pan of statistics. The official census of 1870 numbers the Celts at 24,000,000, the Saxons at 5,000,000, and the whole population at 38,500,000. In proportion the Celts were five-eighths and the Saxons one-eighth of the people of the country, two-eighths being of other origin. There are now 50,000,000 inhabitants, of which (20,000,000 are Irish-Americans) five-eighths are Celts who number 32,500,000, and one-eighth Saxon, or 7,000,000, and the residue being filled with other races. Thus we see that in numbers the nation is Celtic or nearly so. Let not national vanity or prejudice of race assert itself too strongly, for here came all to obtain their just and lawful liberty.
Worcester, Mass. J. SULLIVAN.
IN HAVANA, CUBA.—DESCRIPTION OF THE CITY, ITS PEOPLE, CHURCHES AND CIVIL INSTITUTIONS.
On approaching the Isle of Cuba, the sight of this queen of the Antilles seemed like the realization of some beautiful Eastern dream. As our vessel neared the verdant, palm-clad hills, our party were caressed by warm, odorous breezes. The softest of blue skies looked down upon us, and we gazed on the smoothest and clearest of seas. No wonder that the brave and holy Columbus, with his crew, should feel transported with joy at the sight of the tropical isles on which they first set foot. The poetic effect of the scenes then viewed must have been greatly increased by the appearance of the native Indians, whose costumes and wild graces were so strange to European eyes.
Richly painted boats filled with gay, chattering Cubans moved briskly over the waters as we neared the entrance to the harbor. A beautiful picture now appeared before us. It seemed as if enchanted palaces, gardens, castles and towers had suddenly issued from the depths of the green, transparent waves. Nearly every building had a peculiarly exquisite tint, and all were flooded and enriched with the mellow, tropical sunlight. Fort Morro, to the left, beetled over the waves like some sombre and impregnable defence of the Middle Ages. Its golden-brown and colossal walls sprung like a master-piece of feudal art from the dark, wave-washed, slippery rocks below. The tall, slender light-house connected with it greatly added to its attractions. Soldiers in bright uniforms paced to and fro on the ramparts, while the flag of old Spain, with its mingled hues of blood and gold, floated proudly above the battlements. The harbor was narrow at the entrance and widened further on, appearing in shape like the palm of one's hand. I felt so dazzled with the splendors around me, that I could not grasp at once the beauties of individual objects.
Opposite Fort Morro stood El Castillo de La Punta, an older, but smaller defence erected by Philip II., in 1589. Immediately behind the Morro, Fort La Cahanas spread away for nearly half a mile on the top of a picturesque range of hills. This is one of the largest forts in the world, and cost (as I was informed) thirty million dollars. When the King of Spain heard of its vast price, he took his telescope at once, and told his courtiers that so expensive a building ought to be plainly seen from the top of his Madrid palace. White-stoned cottages lined the waters to the left, and decorated the slopes of the hills, which were full of cacti, century plants and thousands of other floral beauties. Everything around us reflected the poetry of color and motion. The great walls of the prison (el Carcel) appeared at the rear of the Punta, and the hoary, weather-stained walls and towers of the cathedral were conspicuous amid the many highly-colored houses of the city. The sight of this strange and picturesquely colored town made me feel like visiting the queer and lovely old Moorish cities of Spain, so charmingly described by Washington Irving.
Havana has two quarters, the intramural and the extramural; the former lies along the bay. It has the narrowest streets and the oldest buildings, dim, dusty, but poetic. The latter quarter spreads along the ocean, and has the newest structures and widest streets, adorned with palm and Indian laurel trees. The contrast from the moving ship appeared very fine, and the glowing panorama was enriched by the presence of stately men-of-war and merchant vessels from the United States, France, Spain, Italy and other nations. Every mast, spar, flag and rope was reflected on the dazzling waters. Through the vast collection of masts, golden vistas were seen up the bay. Lovely isles and emerald shores presented their wealth of waving palms, bananas, and tropical growths. The fact of the thermometer being up to eighty degrees on this February morning added immensely to the sense of enjoyment derived from these luxuriant scenes. The booming of cannon from the Morro, the sound of trumpets calling soldiers to their posts, and the whistling, laughing and shouting of boatmen contributed no little interest to the picture. Numerous boats sped here and there over the bay as our vessel anchored in the basin outside the custom-house. Each one had some lively Cuban boatmen and messengers from hotels, who came to row passengers to shore, and solicit patronage for particular houses. The whole scene presented a most animated picture, and the green, red, blue and yellow boats, with the white-dressed, broad-hatted, dark-eyed occupants looked uncommonly grand. When the health-officer came on board, each person was inspected as to his sanitary condition, and then left to excited crowds, who delivered their solicitations for patronage in excellent Spanish mixed with a little broken English. Cards, bearing pictures of "the Hotel de San Carlos," "El Teleprafo," "Hotel de Inglaterra," "de Europa," and others were tossed rather than handed to us by white-clad characters who thronged the decks. Among the smaller brown-faced, curly-headed boatmen were some lithe and powerful Cubans dressed in simple white shirt and pants, blue neck-ties and Panama hats. Having agreed with one of these to go from the vessel to the city at the rate of fifty cents apiece in gold, our party passed down the companion-ladder and entered a well-built bumboat, painted in green, blue and yellow, adorned with carpets, cushions, one sail and a gorgeous awning. The soft, tropical sun shone down on this poetical scene, and as the powerful arms of the oarsmen propelled the boat, the breezes played over us and the green waters.
On embarking at the custom-house, an unpretending wooden structure, our luggage was carefully overhauled by a courteous officer, attired in spotless, light-blue linen. Passing through the building I emerged on the street where crowds of negroes, Cuban and foreigners were engaged in smoking, chatting, and watching the newly-arrived travellers. Numerous coaches were drawn up in this neighborhood, and a person could visit any part of the city in one of them for a trifling sum. The Hotel de Europa, where I intended to stay, was only a few minutes' walk from the custom-house, and was delightfully situated on the Plaza de St. Francisco, facing the bay.
The first sight of Havana reveals to the United States visitor, who never saw a Spanish city, a style of architecture, habits and scenes entirely characteristic of Spain. The streets through which I passed were but wide enough for one vehicle; the sidewalks could only accommodate one foot passenger, and the houses, usually of one story, were built of stone as thick, solid and gloomy looking as fortresses. On my way I noticed that the windows had no glass, but were as large as doors, fortified within by iron bars like those of a prison, and additionally defended by heavy, wooden shutters generally painted green. The shops were on a level with the pavement, and their rich and rare collection of goods were all exposed to the view of the public. Awnings now and then extended overhead across the street. Now some darkies and Chinamen moved along bearing big burthens on their heads, and announcing their wares in loud tones in the Spanish language. These were followed by what appeared to me to be mysterious moving stalks of corn. As the latter came nearer, the heads and legs of donkeys were seen amidst the green mass. Then came a Cuban chicken vender from the country, with a great big hat and blue shirt, leading his mule by the reins, while the panniers on each side of the animal's back were filled with live fowl. Immense wagons, laden with hogsheads of sugar and molasses, rattled over the rough pavements as they were drawn by huge oxen, that were steered by stout ropes, which were cruelly passed through their nostrils. I was not a little surprised to see three or four cows walking silently on and stopping at the doors of the houses to be milked before the public. Customers need have no fears that any adulteration could take place on such occasions, as the liquid comes from the pure and natural fountain right before their eyes. Two old sailors, each minus an arm, were singing patriotic songs and the signors, signoras and signoritas who listened to them at the doors and balconies, seemed thrilled with delight, at the musical recital of the grand victories of old Spain. Peddlers moved along with an immense heap of miscellaneous wares fixed in boxes on the backs of their mules. Tall, stately negresses, with long, trailing dresses, of flashy green and yellow, walked along quite independently, as at Key West, smoking cigars which in New York would cost twenty-five cents a piece. One or two Cuban ladies hurried by, wearing satin slippers, silken dresses and mantillas of rich black lace. The Hotel de Europa, which I soon reached, is a large, plain, solid building adorned by a piazza, which runs along the second story, and by numerous little balconies higher up. It is a very well-managed institution, has an agreeable interpreter in its office, an excellent table, and on the hottest day a cool, refreshing breeze from the bay sweeps through the rooms. The office on the second story is reached by a large stone staircase. The house is built around a spacious courtyard, in the centre of which is a beautiful fountain, encircled by choice native flowers. The music of the fountain and the shade of the trees have a pleasing and cooling effect.
After securing my room I was shown to it by a bright-eyed, garrulous Cuban youth named "Josepho," who was well acquainted with his own, but lamentably ignorant of the English language. He tried to compensate for this drawback by a copious and intelligent use of gesture. Josepho soon led me to my room, which stood at the end of a corridor, that was flanked on one side by the courtyard, and on the other by sleeping apartments. Two great jars, of Pompeian style, stood on a side-board outside the door, and were full of cold water. These were for the use of the guests on the corridor. When I entered my room I found it had a floor of red and yellow tiles, immense, thick rough rafters overhead, painted blue and white, an iron bedstead, a great chest of drawers, no carpet, and shutters as heavy and ponderous as those of some old European prison. Yet everything was pleasant and cool. The view from the window of the bay, forts, shipping and houses was very beautiful, and, surely, I had keener apprehension of it than the lazy mulateers, whom I saw sleeping in their ox-carts below on the square, their red-blue caps and white jackets flooded in sunshine. The visitors to Cuba need not expect the luxury of a feather bed or a mattress. Neither was visible in my room. The couch consisted of a piece of canvas tightly spread over the iron frame, and strongly attached to it. A single sheet constituted the only covering, and the stranger will find that the pillow, filled with the moss of the island is not at all too soft. The nights are so pleasant that Cuban hotel keepers think this amount of bed furniture quite sufficient.
After a little rest, I decided that the famous Jesuit College, "De Belen," would be the first institution worth seeing. I went alone, and soon found it on the corner of Lutz and Compostilla Streets. A stranger cannot miss it, as it is one of the most formidable buildings in Havana. Though its style has something of the barbaric about it, yet it is chiefly so on account of its ruggedness, vastness and stern grandeur. It is built of stone, cemented and brown in color. The main arched entrance is very lofty, and on the steps as I passed by I noticed a gaunt, diseased and ragged negro, with outstretched arms soliciting alms. I rang the bell. A porter admitted me, and after asking for one of the priests in fair Spanish, I was conducted to a grand saloon up stairs and politely requested to await the arrival of Father Pinan who was conversant with English. The saloon was a magnificent apartment, about one hundred feet long by thirty wide. Its walls were adorned with splendid paintings done by ancient masters, and all represented dear, religious scenes. The lofty white pillars and the blue mouldings of the saloon produced a charming effect. Several rows of rocking-chairs, placed in pairs so that those occupying them would face one another and converse freely, were in this saloon, as is the custom in all others in Cuba. As I was admiring the pictures Father Pinan entered, and at once welcomed me very cordially to the college. The news, from the States interested him, and he promised to give me all the information he could regarding the college. "Ah," said he, "it is good to hear that there are so many good Catholics and converts in the United States. I do hope that they will persevere earnestly."
Father Pinan's frankness, intelligence and hospitality charmed and encouraged me. Passing from the saloon through a lofty arch, we entered the Museum of Natural History, which was very large and contained a splendid collection. Here I saw gorgeous stuffed birds from tropical lands, ostriches' eggs, skins of boas, the maha (a large, harmless snake), porcupines, sea bulls, flying fish, immense sword fish, jaws of enormous sharks, brilliant big butterflies from South America, and an immense sea cockroach caught by Spanish men-of-war and presented by a general of the navy. Very large sponges, natural crosses of white rock from Spain, splendid pearls, magnificent shells from the Pacific Ocean and Mediterranean Sea, ivory baskets and miniature churches from China, beautiful Oriental slippers, Chinese grapes and apples, royal green birds from Mexico, relics of Columbus from St. Domingo, fragments of the stone on which General Pizarro sat after his victories, cannon balls used by Cortez in his conquest of Mexico, dust from the streets of Naples, lava from Vesuvius, pebbles from Mount Ararat, fragments from the homes of the vestals of Pompeii, and some of the ruins of Ninevah. Here Father Pinan was obliged to take his leave to attend class, and his place was splendidly filled by Father Osoro, a young and engaging Spanish priest, who was passionately attached to the sciences of Natural History and Philosophy. He introduced me at once to the relics with the spirit of an enthusiast. He pointed out to me some of the remains of Babylon, grand illuminated copies of the Holy Bible and of the office of the Blessed Virgin, done on parchment by the monks in 1514, and handsomely embellished with gold. He showed me gifts from kings and princes of marvellous precious stones, opals, rubies, sapphires, diamonds, agates, amethysts, cups of agate, golden snuff-boxes, natural crosses in agate, skulls made into cases and pocket books, brilliant mosaics and rosaries of gold. Father Osoro directed my attention to the paper money of the French Revolution, of the Cuban (so-called) Republic and of St. Domingo. He showed me Roman, Spanish, Lusatanian, English, French, Belgian, Australian, German, Swedish, Danish, Chinese and Japanese coins. Here were immense stone earrings of Indians, mineral and geological relics of Guatamala, grand green crystals, teeth of antedeluvian beasts, fossils of various kinds, sulphur and iron ore of Cuba, and specimens of one hundred and eight different kinds of wood that grow on the island. I saw hundreds of other rare and lovely curiosities, but it would take a volume to describe all of them. Father Osoro next introduced me to the hall of Chemistry and Natural Philosophy, a fine room, full of all the modern instruments designed to practically illustrate the workings of these useful and interesting systems.
From there we went to the refectory, which was capable of seating five hundred pupils. Everything here was remarkable for neatness, solidity and order. The dormitories, containing five hundred beds, were very lofty and airy. I saw handsome crucifixes in conspicuous places here, and holy pictures, also, all to remind the pupils of the spirit of devotion which they owed to God and his saints. We noticed men washing and ironing in the large laundry; no women were employed in the house. Here were several grand marble swimming basins for the boys, with large apparatuses for hot and cold water, splendid gymnasiums, forty or fifty feet long by thirty wide, with pillars painted sky blue, and supporting a magnificent ceiling. Swings, dumb-bells, Indian clubs and instruments for raising weights were strewn all over the sawdust floors. We passed by six court-yards adorned with statues, flowers, fountains and ponds full of gold fish. I noticed in front of the church entrance a large and splendid representation of the grotto of Lourdes made by one of the Jesuit Fathers. Two noble palm-trees which grew near the grotto, added greatly to its beauty. The exterior of the church was plain, but massive in its appearance, and the interior with its handsome marble floor, paintings, frescos and altars, formed a sight of no little interest to the stranger. Soft vermillion, pink, rosy and violet reflections from the stained glass windows filled the sacred edifice, and gave an exquisite coloring to the superb old pictures. On the right, a grand and costly crucifix looked down with life-like agony on the priests who were vesting in the sacristy. Enormous chests lined the walls of several rooms, and in those were stored gorgeous vestments, wonderfully beautiful in color and material, and enriched with gold and precious stones. Costly presents from kings and Spanish grandees were shown to me by the brother sacristan, who took an honest pride in exhibiting those blessed things. Magnificent society banners, used during processions on great festivals, were subjects of intense interest to the good brother. I saw lace albs there, with crotchet work marvellously executed by hand, and adorned with brilliants. Each of these cost $1,500. The chapel of St. Placidus, attached to the church is a perfect gem with its pillars of white and gold. While in Havana, I had the pleasure of saying Mass in the Jesuit Church. Other priests were celebrating at the same time, and a magnificent congregation of men and women attended. The music was exquisitely rendered, but I could not see how the people could continue standing and kneeling so patiently all the time. In this, as in the rest of the Cuban churches, there are but a few pews. The majority of the people, who bring neither seats nor cushions with them, stand, kneel, or sit on their heels at intervals. I do not think our Catholics in the United States could muster up sufficient courage to endure all this.
After seeing the handsome, dark-eyed boys of the college, its fine library and other interesting apartments, I ascended with Father Osoro to look at the observatory en the top of the building.
This solid and business-like structure possesses the newest and most complete astronomical and meteorological instruments, and the accuracy of the scientific results arrived at by the Fathers, has become justly celebrated. They received a manifestation of merit from the Centennial Exposition of '76, on account of their meteorological observations, and the Parisian Exhibition presented them with a magnificent medal. Father Benito Vines, the president, communicates regularly with Washington and nearly every civilized nation. After viewing the interior of the observatory, we came out on the roof, and here I beheld a novel and wonderfully lovely sight. Stone and brick walks, four or five feet wide, with railings at each side spread away, intersecting each other at different points, and all were above the dark, red-tiled roofs of the institution. Strong little edifices like watch towers, painted in blue and white, stood out prominently near the walks, and no sooner did the eye turn from these immediate objects, than it was dazzled by the superb panorama of city, ocean, bay, sky and woodland that spread before it.
Father Osoro enjoyed the expressions of admiration that escaped me, as I gazed on the high and low roofs on every side, the black turrets, the walls of houses, red, green, blue, crimson, yellow, and white all mellowed by age. Down below us were the narrow streets, the iron-barred windows, the curious shops, verandas, balconies, flag staffs, flying pigeons, flowers blooming on the roofs, and bananas growing. Away to the north-east stood the grand Morro Castle, the sentinel of the harbor, with its frowning guns, and its grand, revolving light shining like a gem above the sea. Behind it, Fort Cabana looked long, bold and ancient, backed on the east by evergreen hills, and decorated on the south by palms and other tropical trees. The harbor, which glittered with sunlight, was full of ships, buoys, sail-boats, music and sailors. On this side of the bay appeared the old cathedral, with its dark gray walls and black and brown roof. Yellow pillars, old towers, picturesque wind-mills, brown iron stairs running up to the roofs of mansions, palaces, domes, cupolas, plants of great beauty in vases on roofs, and numerous old spires intervened. On the right, near the bay, could be seen the old church, de San Francisco (now a customs storehouse), the church de San Augustin, the church de Sancto Spiritu, and the palace of the admiral to the south, the church de Mercede, that of St. Paul, the arsenal, military hospital, gas houses, the Castello de Princepe, and the suburban gardens of the captain-general. On the north, we beheld the ocean, the Castello de Punta and the Casus de Benefecentia. The Campo de Marte, Parque de Isabella, the parade grounds, trees, statues, fountains and hotels appeared to the west. A refreshing breeze stirred an atmosphere of seventy-eight degrees, and not a particle of dust arose on street or house-top as the rain which fell on the preceding night made all things clean. I would have remained on the top of the college 'till dusk, contemplating that superb prospect, but I had no time, so bidding good-by to the kind Fathers I determined to see more of the city. Before leaving them, however, I could not help reflecting upon the immense amount of good which they were doing in Havana. Before the Liberals got hold of the Spanish government, the constitutional authority of the church in Cuba was not interfered with, but since the accession of Freemasons and Freethinkers to power, ecclesiastical property has suffered violence from the hands of the State, and the nomination and appointment of priests and bishops to place has been arrogantly wrested from those appointed by God to legislate in spirituals, and assumed by a class of irreligious despots. Though the State pays the clergy, still it owns the church property, and entirely cripples the power of the bishop, who cannot remove a bad and refractory priest, if it suits not the pleasure of the civil authorities. Such a state of things naturally caused some demoralization among the clergy, and, as a consequence, much religious indifference among the people. Societies like the Jesuits, who have been but a few years in Havana, are gradually removing pernicious influences like these by the learning, piety and zeal which they exhibit from the pulpit and among the people. Hundreds of men, as well as of women, are drawn to the sacraments by their persuasive eloquence and self-sacrificing, holy lives. The good work will continue and bear glorious fruit, if these noble men be not persecuted in Havana. My earnest hope is that the glorious influence of Catholic Spain will protect them from danger.
REV. M. W. NEWMAN.
A Valiant Soldier of the Cross.
By the Author of "Leaves from the Annals of the Sisters of Mercy."
In describing scenes over which mine eye has wandered, I have kept so faithfully to the land of the sun, where winter seldom or never leaves his icy footprints, that my discursive papers were not improperly styled "Southern Sketches." Yet other latitudes in America are not wholly unknown to me. Month after month have I gazed on the white monotony of unthawing snow. No one could admire more than I the chaste beauty of the feathery flakes, or the gorgeous sparkle of trees bereft of leaves and covered with crystals that flashed every hue of the rainbow. But even in this bright September day, with the mercury among the eighties, I get chilled through and through, and shake with the "shivers" when I imagine myself once more among the hard frosts of New Hampshire. Unlike the brave soldier of Christ whom I am about to introduce to the readers of the "Irish Monthly," and who found the heat of a short Northern summer simply "intolerable," the tropics and their environs rather allure me. True, soldiers and old residents speak of places between which and the lower regions there is but a sheet of non-combustible tissue paper. Nevertheless, the writer who has lived in both places would rather, as a matter of choice, summer in the Tropics than winter in New Hampshire.
Though this State, in which my hero passed the greater part of his holy life, be the Switzerland of America, a grandly beautiful section, full of picturesque rivers, tall mountains, and dreamy-looking lakes, attracting more tourists than any other place in America save Niagara, yet I will pass over its stern and rugged scenery to write of a man whose titles to our admiration are wholly of the supernatural order.
To me, the finest landscape is but a painted picture unless a human being enliven it. Just one fisherwoman on a sandy beach, or a lone shepherd on a bleak hill-side, and fancy can weave a drama of hope and love and beauty about either. Faith tells of a beautiful immortal soul imprisoned in forms gaunt and shrunken; a prayer that we may meet again in heaven surges up in my heart. The landscape is made alive for me in the twinkling of an eye, and stretches from this lower world to the better and brighter land above. Father MacDonald was for forty-one years the light of a manufacturing town. And when I think of its looms and spindles and fire-engines, and forests of tall, red chimneys, and tens of thousands of operatives, Father MacDonald is the figure which illumines for me the weird and grimy spectacle, and casts over it a halo of the supernatural. Little cared he for the sparkling rivers, or bewitching lakes, or romantic mountains of the Granite State; his whole interest was centred in souls.
Some fifty years ago, Irish immigrants began to come timidly, and in small numbers, to the little manufacturing town of Manchester which rises on both sides of the laughing waters of the Merrimac. Here, in the heart of New Hampshire, one of the original thirteen States, and a stronghold of everything non-Catholic, these poor but industrious aliens knocked at the gates of the Puritan for work. Strong and willing arms were wanted; and Bishop Fitzpatrick, of Boston, learning that some hundreds of Catholics working in the Manchester factories were sighing for the ministrations of a parish, sent Father MacDonald, in July, 1844, to take charge of their spiritual interests.
William MacDonald was born in the county Leitrim, in 1813, being the youngest of a family of six sons and one daughter, whose parents were John MacDonald and Winifred Reynolds. The now aged daughter is the sole survivor of this large family. They were very strictly brought up by their virtuous, pious parents, and through long and chequered lines, were upright, honorable citizens, and thoroughly practical Catholics. Years ago, the writer was told that no descendant of Mr. and Mrs. MacDonald had ever seen the inside of a non-Catholic school. Charles and William became priests, the former emigrating when quite young. William attended the school of his native parish, where he received a solid rudimentary education, after which he pursued his classical studies in Dublin. In 1833, he joined his brother Charles, who was pastor of a church at Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island. Father Charles died in his prime, with a high reputation for sanctity. William always carried about him a little Latin Imitation of Christ, which had also been the vade mecum of his beloved brother. The spiritual life of both was formed in that wonderful book, and Father William was wont to prescribe a suitable chapter in the same for every mental trouble, difficulty, or temptation referred to him.
Father MacDonald's education was finished in the College of Three Rivers, Canada, under the Sulpician Fathers. After his ordination he exercised the ministry in several places till sent by the Bishop of Boston to Manchester. Here he found his co-religionists and countrymen regarded as Helots, and far more despised by Yankee and Puritan than the slaves in the South by their rulers. The Irish were denied the privilege of sidewalks, and obliged, in order to avoid perpetual quarrels, to walk in the middle of the streets. Wherever they appeared, they were hissed and hooted, and "blood-hounds of hell" was the affectionate epithet the ubiquitous small boy bestowed on them. Previous to Father MacDonald's arrival, Father Daly, whose parish included nearly all New Hampshire and Vermont, used to say Mass in Manchester with unfailing regularity every three months. On one of these occasions, the floor of the temporary chapel gave way, and priest, altar, and congregation, were precipitated into the cellar. Providentially, beyond a few bruises and abrasions, no one was injured. The previous day, the bigots having heard that Mass was to be said in the room, had cut the supports from under the floor.
To these people, a priest was an object of hatred and scorn, whom they believed it would be a good work to kill, and Father MacDonald settled among them at the risk of his life. But when duty was in question, he knew not fear. The servant is not greater than his master, he would say: If they have persecuted me they will persecute you also. It was in vain they used every means their perverse ingenuity suggested to intimidate this dangerous papist. They even began to like him. Slowly but surely, he won his way among them, and within a year of his arrival he was able to hire the Granite Hall as a temporary chapel. In 1849, he built a church on a square purchased with his own patrimony, at the corner of Union and Merrimac Streets.
Besides the theological virtues which the "natives" valued not, Father MacDonald possessed all the natural virtues which they pretend to canonize. He was most frugal. To great objects he would give royally, but it was doubtful if he ever wasted a dollar. He sought to live on as little as possible, but it was that he might have more for the needy. He was industrious; not a moment of his day was lost. For many years, he was one of the only two priests in the State; but when his parochial duties left him a little leisure, he was seen to handle the trowel and use the broom. He paid cash for everything he bought, and whoever worked for him received full pay on the day and hour agreed upon: no cutting down of rates. If they wished to give to the church, very well; but they must take their pay from him to the last farthing. He was neatness personified. The fresh complexion and fine physique common among his countrymen he did not possess. Barely reaching middle height, his spare form, sharp features, sallow complexion, and keen, spectacled eyes, made him look like a son of the soil. As for energy, no Yankee ever had more, or perhaps so much. Non-Catholics knew that his power over his flock was absolute. But they admitted that his wish, his word, and his work, were always on the side of order, sobriety, frugality, and good citizenship.
When Father MacDonald's beautiful church was finished, the Know-Nothings, or Native American Party, by way of celebrating in a fitting manner the independence of the United States, burst upon the defenceless Catholics, July 4, tore down their houses, destroyed their furniture, dragged their sick out of bed into the streets, and finally riddled the beautiful stained glass windows of the church. For these damages no compensation was ever made. An Irishman having some dispute with a native, the latter seized a monkey-wrench that was near, and killed him. Father MacDonald asked for justice, but the officials refused to arrest the murderer. Through his wise counsels, the Catholics, though boiling with indignation, did not retaliate, and, as it takes two parties to make a fight, the Know-Nothing excitement having spent itself, soon subsided. But for years, the Irishmen of Manchester and their brave pastor had to take turns at night to guard the church buildings from sacrilegious hands.
So far from being frightened at the lawlessness of the mob, Father MacDonald, at the height of the excitement, announced a daring project. He would bring nuns to Manchester, and he called a meeting of his parishioners to devise ways and means. But, for the first and last time, they strenuously opposed him. "It would be madness. They had frequently heard their employers say they would never allow a nunnery in the city." He soon saw that if he waited for encouragement from any quarter his object would never be accomplished. He built his convent. It was set on fire when completed, but he was not to be baffled. He repaired the damages. Though he declined some compensation offered on this occasion, he was not slow to express his opinion as to the effect such evidences of New England culture might have on his beloved and most generous flock. He invited Sisters of Mercy from Providence, R.I., and had the pleasure of welcoming them, July 16, 1858.
He received them in his own house, which they mistook for their convent. Great was their surprise when they heard that the handsome pillared edifice in the next square was theirs. "I will conduct you thither," said he; "but first we will visit our Lord in the church." The Rev. Mother, M. Frances Warde, and the Sisters, admired the exquisite church, and the extreme neatness and beauty of the altar. "No hand," said he, "but mine has ever touched that altar. No secular has ever been admitted within the sanctuary rails even to sweep. I myself sweep the sanctuary, and attend to the cleanliness of everything that approaches the Blessed Sacrament. But my work as sole priest here is now so arduous, that I will resign this sweet and sacred duty to you."
Schools were immediately opened for boys, girls, adults. Night schools and an academy for the higher studies followed. On account of the superior instruction given in this institution, it has always been well patronized by the best Protestant families in New Hampshire. Indeed, the success of the Sisters of Mercy in this stronghold of Puritanism has been phenomenal. During Father MacDonald's incumbency, Catholics increased from a few despised aliens to more than half the population of Manchester. He was never obliged to ask them for money; they gave him all he needed. He never failed to meet his engagements; and in one way or another every coin he handled went to God's church or God's poor. He laid up nothing for himself. He had the most exalted ideas of the priesthood, and he carried them out to the letter in his daily life. Thousands of young men have been enrolled in his sodalities. As an example to them, he totally abstained from tobacco and from intoxicating drink. St. John's Total Abstinence Society was the pride of his heart. One of his "Sodality Boys," Right Rev. Denis Bradley, became first bishop of Manchester, and many have become zealous priests. From the girls' schools and the sodalities, too, many religious vocations have sprung, and the number of converts under instruction is always very large. This worthy priest brought free Catholic education within the reach of every Catholic in his adopted city. As soon as he finished one good work he began another, and splendid churches, convents, schools, orphanage, hospital, home for old ladies, etc., remain as monuments of his zeal. These institutions are not excelled in the country. They are all administered by the Sisters of Mercy, to whom he was a most generous benefactor.
During the forty-one years of Father MacDonald's life in Manchester, he never took a vacation but one, which his bishop compelled him to take. He was so methodical in the distribution of his time that it was said he did the work of six priests, and did it well. He knew every member of his flock, and was to all friend and father as well as priest, their refuge in every emergency. Every day he studied some point of theology, visited his schools and other institutions, and went the rounds of his sick and poor. Every home had its allotted duty, and grave, indeed, should be the reasons that could induce him to deviate one iota from his ordinary routine. His charities were unbounded, yet given with discrimination, nor did his left hand know what his right hand gave. With the sick and the aged, he was like a woman, or a mother. He would make their fires, warm drinks for them, see that they had sufficient covering. Though they all doated on "Father Mac," they must not thank him, or even pretend they saw what he was doing for them, so well did they know that he worked solely for Him who seeth in secret. Monday, August 24, 1885, this holy man was stricken with paralysis of the brain, and died two days later, while the bishop and the Sisters of Mercy were praying for his soul. It is almost certain that he had some presentiment of his death, as he selected the Gregorian Requiem Mass for his obsequies, and asked the choir to practise it. August 28, his sacred remains were committed to the earth, the funeral sermon being preached by the bishop, who had been as a son to the venerable patriarch. In real, personal holiness, Father MacDonald possessed the only power that makes the knee bend. Over twenty years ago, his sexton said to the writer: "I never opened the church in the morning that I did not find Father MacDonald kneeling before the Blessed Sacrament." What time he entered it, no one knew. How edifying this must have been to the poor factory hands, who were wont to beg God's blessing on their daily labor, in the short, scorching summer, and the bitter cold of the long winter, for at that time the church was not heated. Never did these children of toil miss that bent and venerable form, absorbed in prayer before the hidden Jesus, of whose august presence he had such a vivid realization.
Before such a life of toil and prayer, no bigotry could stand. By sheer force of virtue alone, this holy man wrought a complete change in the sentiments of his adversaries. Hence the extraordinary respect shown to his memory. The non-Catholic press says that no man ever exercised so much influence in Manchester for forty years as Father MacDonald, and that he was the man whom Manchester could least afford to lose. The mayor and the city government attended his obsequies in a body, and the governor of New Hampshire wrote to express his regret that absence hindered his paying the last tribute of respect to a priest he so highly revered. Business was suspended and all the factories closed, that the whole city might follow his remains to the tomb. On Sunday, August 30, the non-Catholic pulpits of the thrifty city resounded with the praises of this humble priest, whose chief characteristics were stainless integrity, an entire absence of human respect, burning zeal for God's glory, and life-long efforts to promote it. He feared no man and sought the favor of none, and his noble independence of character won him the admiration of all who had the privilege of knowing him. His death was universally deplored as the greatest calamity that ever befell Manchester. Among the Protestant ministers who eulogized him in their sermons, August 30, was Rev. Dr. Spalding, who thanked God for raising up a man whose life was remarkable "for its large consecration to Church and people, for its high earnestness, its sacrifices and unselfishness, its purity and truthfulness. God grant unto us all," he continued, "a desire to imitate this life in its devotion to others, and its trust in Him."
As a preacher, Father MacDonald was rather solid than brilliant. In manner, he was somewhat blunt. He conversed pleasantly and sensibly; but people given to gossip or foolish talk soon learned to steer clear of him. Hospitality was with him a Christian duty. If he heard that some ecclesiastic was at the hotel—and he heard everything—he would at once go for him, and place his own neat, comfortable house at his disposal. "Many a time," he would say, "has a young priest acquired a taste for card-playing by spending but one night in a hotel." So fearful was he of the least thing that might disedify the weaklings of his flock, that, when the writer knew him, he was accustomed to send to Boston for altar wine. "If I buy it here," he said, "some poor fellows will think I don't practise what I preach. They will want stimulants as well as I. Even the people who sell will never think of altar wine." Father MacDonald had a great love for the South. Its material advancement gave him pleasure, but his chief interest lay in its spiritual progress. Six years ago, the writer met him after an interval of sixteen years. After the usual greetings, he began to question: "Now, tell me, how is religion in New Orleans? Are the priests zealous? Have you a live bishop? Are the public institutions well attended by priests and religious? But, above and before all else, are your Catholic children all in Catholic schools? And have you superior schools, so that children will have no excuse for going to the godless schools? How are the Masses attended? Are the people well instructed? Do many lead lives of piety?" He was then in his sixty-seventh year, rather broken from incessant labors, but as active as ever. His hair had changed from black to white since last we met. When I gave some edifying details, he would say: "God be praised. I am so glad of what you tell me. Thanks be to God." And he called the attention of a young priest at the other end of the room: "Listen! Hear what they are doing in the South for the school-children, and the waifs and street arabs. And all that is done for the sick and the prisoners. Oh, blessed be God! How happy all this makes me."
I felt as though I were listening to St. Alfonso, so irresistably did this remind me of him. I was no longer among the crisp snows of New Hampshire, that had crackled beneath my feet that morning. Fancy had transported me to the genial clime of Naples. I stood by the bed-ridden Bishop of St. Agatha, in the old Redemptorist's Convent at Pagani, and listened to the touching dialogue between Mauro, the royal architect, and the saint: "And the churches in the city of Naples, are they much frequented?"—"Oh, yes, Monsignor, and you cannot imagine the good that results from this. All classes, especially the working people, crowd them, and we have saints even among the coachmen." At these words the saint rose from his recumbent position, and cried out in tones of joy and triumph: "Saintly coachmen at Naples! Gloria Patri." He could not sleep for joy at this intelligence, but during the night would frequently call for his attendant: "You heard what Don Mauro said? Saints among the coachmen at Naples! What do you think of that?" Associated in our mind with the great St. Alfonso, we keep this holy priest, whom Bishop Bradley so justly styled, "The pioneer of Catholic education in New England." His flock universally regarded him as a saint, and a great saint. And, in all humility, and in perfect submission to the decrees of Holy Church, the writer is able to say, of her own knowledge and observation, that this humble, hard-working, mortified Irish priest, William MacDonald, practised in a high, a very high, degree, every virtue which we venerate in the saints of God. I never met a holier soul. I could not imagine him guilty of the smallest, wilful fault. I feel more inclined to pray to him than for him; it seems incredible that he should have anything to expiate in purgatory. May his successors walk in his footsteps, and his children never forget the lessons he taught them more by example than by word. May our friendship, a great grace to me, be renewed in requie aeterna et in luce perpetua. Amen.
Dublin Irish Monthly.
[Footnote 6: The Irish Catholic names, Sullivan and Carroll, are stamped on two of the ten counties of New Hamshire, in memory of Revolutionary heroes.]
The Avaricious Man can not enjoy riches, but is tormented by anxiety or sickness. Others are worn out by the jealousy or envy which consume them. Others, again, wrapped in their pride, are being continually galled by the supposed indignities offered to them, and there is no sharper crown of thorns than that worn by the proud man. There is one sin which seems to be rampant in our day, and that is scepticism, or doubting God and revelation; and this also brings its own punishment in the present. On the other hand, to those who are tempted, suffering, or afflicted, Jesus Christ promised, "Be thou faithful unto death and I will give thee the crown of life."
Leal heart, and brave right hand that never drew One false note from thy harp, although the ache Of weariness and hope deferred might shake Harsh discords from a soul less clear and true Than thine amid the gloom that knew no break— The London gloom that barred the heaven's blue From thy deep Celtic eyes, so wide to take The bliss of earth and sky within their view! On fleet, white wings thy music made its way Back o'er the waves to Ireland's holy shore; Close nestled in her bosom, each wild lay Mixed with her sighs—'twas from her deep heart's core She called thee: "'Gille Machree' come home, I pray— In my green lap of shamrocks sleep, asthore!"
ROSE KAVANAGH, in Irish Monthly.
Mary E. Blake.
Two years ago we concluded a slight notice of the poems of "Thomasine" (known in Ireland as Miss Olivia Knight, and in Australia as Mrs. Hope Connolly), with the following words: "A writer in the Irish Fireside said lately that Eva and Speranza had no successors. We could name, if we dared, three or four daughters of Erin whom we believe to be singing now from a truer and deeper inspiration and with a purer utterance." Happily, since these words were printed, two of these unnamed rivals whom we set up against the gifted wife of the new M. P. elect for Meath, and against the more gifted widow of Sir William Wilde, have placed their names on the title pages of collections of their poems. We allude, of course, to Katharine Tynan and Rosa Mulholland. Not only these whose place in literature is already secured, but higher than some to whom the enthusiasm of a political crisis gave prominence, we should be inclined to rank such Irish songstresses as the late Attie O'Brien and the living but too silent "Alice Esmonde." And then of Irishwomen living outside Ireland we have Fanny Parnell, Fanny Forrester, Eleanor C. Donnelly, and the lady whom we claim as our own in the title of this paper—Mrs. Mary E. Blake. Though the wife of a physician at Boston, she was born at Clonmel, and bore the more exclusively Celtic name of Magrath.
Boston claims, or used to claim, to be the literary metropolis of the United States. A prose volume by Mrs. Blake and a volume of her poems lie before us, and for elegance of typography do credit to their Boston publishers. "On the Wing"—lively sketches of a trip to the Pacific, all about San Francisco and the Yosemite Valley, and Los Angeles, and Colorado, but ending with this affectionate description of Boston aforesaid:
And now, as the evening sun drops lower, what fair city is this that rises in the east, throned like a queen above the silver Charles, many-towered and pinnacled, with clustering roof and taper spire? How proud she looks, yet modest, as one too sure of her innate nobility to need adventitious aid to impress others. Look at the aesthetic simplicity of her pose on the single hill, which is all the mistaken kindness of her children has left of the three mountains which were her birthright. Behold the stately avenues that stretch by bridge and road, radiating her lavish favors in every direction; look at the spreading suburbs that crowd beyond her gates, more beautiful than the parks and pleasure grounds of her less favored sisters. See where she sits, small but precious, her pretty feet in the blue waters that love to dally about them; her pretty head, in its brave gilt cap, as near the clouds as she could manage to get it: her arms full of whatever is rarest and dearest and best. For doesn't she hold the "Autocrat of the Breakfast Table" and Bunker Hill, Faneuil Hall, and Harvard College? Do not the fiery eloquence of Phillips, the songs of Longfellow, the philosophy of Fisk, the glory of the Great Organ, and the native lair of culture, belong to her? Ah! why should we not "tell truth and shame the devil"—doesn't she bring us to the babies and the family doctor?
But it is not as a writer of prose that Mrs. Blake has secured a niche in our gallery of literary portraits. Indeed, without knowing it, we have already introduced her poetry to our readers: for we are pleased to find in her volume of collected poems an anonymous piece which we had gathered as one of our "Flowers for a Child's Grave," from a number of The Boston Pilot as far back as 1870. We should reprint page 171 of this volume if it were not already found in our eighth volume (1880) at page 608. The division of Mrs. Blake's poems to which it belongs contains, we think, her best work. Her muse never sings more sweetly than in giving expression to the joy and grief of a mother's heart. The verses just referred to were the utterances of maternal grief: a mother's joy breaks out into these pleasant and musical stanzas:—