Imágenes de páginas
PDF

failed; as might have been illustrated by many interesting facts recorded in the history of the church, and of individual Christians, had our limits permitted.

I shall conclude with the following sentiments, and an anecdote stated by Dr. Witherspoon.

There are those who are rich in their poverty, because they are content, and use generously what they have ; there are those, who, in the midst of their riches, are really poor, from their insatiable covetousness, or profusion.—Calmet.

The prayer which Socrates taught his pupil, Alcibiades, is remarkable, and deserves the consideration even of a Christian:-" That he should beseech the Supreme God, to give him what was good for him, though he should not ask it; and to withhold from him whatever would be hurtful, though he should be so foolish as to pray for it.”

The following piece of private history that happened in Great Britain, is related by the late Dr. Witherspoon, in one of his sermons.

“A gentleman of very considerable fortune, but a stranger to either personal or family religion, one evening, took a solitary walk through a part of his own grounds. He happened to come near to a mean hut, where a poor man with a numerous family lived, who earned their bread by daily labor. He heard a voice pretty loud and continued. Not knowing what it was, curiosity prompted him to listen. The man, who was piously disposed, happened to be at prayer with his family. So soon as he could distinguish the words, he heard him giving thanks with great affection to God, for the goodness of his providence in giving them food to eat, and raiment to put on, and in supplying them with what was necessary and comfortable in the present life. He was immediately struck with astonishment, and confusion, and said to himself, “does this poor man, who has nothing but the meanest fare, and that purchased by severe labor, give thanks to God for his goodness to himself and family, and I, who enjoy ease, and honor, and every thing that is grateful and desirable, have hardly ever bent my knee, or made any acknowledgment to my Maker and Preserver ?’ It pleased God, that this providential occurrence proved the means of bringing him to a real and lasting sense of God and religion.”

[ocr errors]

The following statements extracted from the “Report of the Commissioners,” who were sent to Ireland to investigate the state of the lower classes in that country, exhibit a picture of the effects of covetousness, combined with its usual accompaniment—apathy in regard to the sufferings of others, which o disgrace a Pagan land, and much more a Christian an Ol.

These Commissioners appear to have conducted their inquiries openly and fairly. They held their stitings in upwards of one hundred parishes. They were sent through the whole of the four provinces of Ireland, and obtained information from all ranks and classes, from “the highest landlord, down to the lowest beggar.” w

The details stated below, are only specimens of hundreds of similar details, equally horrible and revolting, which are scattered throughout a quarto volume of between four and five hundred pages. The answers to the questions put, taken viva voce, are printed verbatim, under the following seven heads. 1. Deserted and orphan children. 2. Illegitimate children and their mothers. 3. Widows with families of young children. 4. Impotent through age and infirmity. 5. Sick, poor. 6. Ablebodied out of work. 7. Vagrants.

1. The following extracts relate to widows with children.

They are seldom half fed, say a cloud of witnesses. One meal of potatoes a day, is the most they can expect, eked out with unwholesome weeds. Mr. Cotter, rector of a parish in the County of Cork, says, “One evening a parcel of workmen came to me for soup, which I was in the habit of giving. Some cabbage stumps that were thrown out of the kitchen were lying. The pigs and fowls had picked them almost quite bare. I saw myself sia, or seven of the poor women turn their faces to the wall, and eat the stumps the pigs had left. Peggy Kiernan, a beggar woman, says, the widows get, when at work for the farmers, 13 d. per day. They rarely beg in public, unless, when their children are so young they cannot leave them.” The Assistant Commissioners found widow Halloran working a quilt. She worked eight hours a day, and it would take her a week to finish it, and all she had bargained for, was one shilling. A man who happened to be standing by, said he would not give two pence a day, for what any widow in the arish would earn by her labor. Parochial assistance is unnown, and the question, whether the absentee proprietors who hold nearly the entire parish, ever contribute to the relief of those who pay them rent, was answered with a laugh, that expressed astonishment at the thought of such a thing being entertained. When the cholera appeared at Cork, a small hospital was established, and a few patients admitted into it. Notwithstanding the great dread that was entertained of the disease, three poor widows feigned sickness, in order to gain admission; one, the widow Buck, had two children. When these women were detected, they refused to go out. In the count of Limerick, there has been no widow driven by her necessities to prostitution, though one of these virtuous poor women states, that she lives in a hovel without a roof. “I have no house,” says she, “but I got a few poles, and made a narrow shed, by placing them against the wall and covering them with loose weeds. The end is open to the air, and there is no door.” She expects, with her boy, to pass the winter under the same shed. Even in the north of Ireland, where Protestants chiefly reside, similar privations are found to prevail. The following is a picture of a Londonderry widow. The Assistant Commissioners visited one widow. She lived in a wretched hovel on the road-side, about half a mile from Dungiven. There was a little straw in a corner, which, covered with a thin linen quilt, served as a bed. Over two or three kindled turf, a girl of about ten years of age, was bending, and a middle-aged woman was sitting, spinning, in the centre of the hut. She said that the girl was the youngest of eight children, and was only a month old, when, }. her husband's death, she was left wholly dependent on her own exertions. None of the children were at that time able to assist her; and the only employment open to her was spinning, b which she could then make 4d. a day. By her spinning, whic was gradually diminished to 2d. a day, she brought up her eight children, sending them out to service as they grew up. They are now married, or engaged in service. The three eldest married when they were under eighteen. “They never,” said she, “got a noggin of broth in charity; nor did a handful

« AnteriorContinuar »