Billeder på siden

while the dispenser of knowledge, chinking the "thin shillings," strode towards a well-heaped hoard to add thereto the mite of a fatherless hoy. Mary crouched over the cheerful fire, rocking: herself backwards and forwards in real sorrow, and determined to consult the priest as to the change that had come over her husband, turning him out of himself into something "not right."

This was O'Leary's first public attempt to work out his determination, and he was thoroughly ashamed of himself. He did not care to encounter Mary's reproachful looks, so he brought over his blotted desk, and sat with his back to her, apparently intent on his books; but despite all he could do, his mind went wandering back to the time he was a poor scholar himself; and no matter whether he looked over problems, or turned the leaves of Homer, there was the pale gentle face of the poor scholar, whom he had " fleeced" to the uttermost.

"Mary," he said, anxious to be reconciled to himself, "there never was one of them poor scholars that had not twice as much as they purtended."

"Was that the way with yerself, avick ?" she answered. James pushed back the desk, flung the ruler at the cat, bounced the door after him, and went to bed. He did not fall very soon asleep—nor, when he did, did he sleep very soundly—but tossed and tumbled about in a most undignified manner; so much so, that his poor wife left off rocking, and, taking out her beads, began praying as hard and fast as she could; and she believed her prayers took effect, for he soon became tranquil, and slept soundly. But Mary went on praying. She was accounted what was called the steadiest hand at prayers in the country; but, on this particular night, she prayed on without stopping, until the gray cock, who always crowed at four, told her what the time was, and she thought she might as well sleep for a couple of hours; for Mary could not only pray when she liked, but sleep when she pleased, which is frequently the case with the innocent-hearted. As soon, however, as she hung the beads on the same nail that supported the holy water, cross, and cup, James gave a groan and a start, and called her. "Give me your hand," he said, "that I may know it's ou that's in it." Mary did so, and affectionately bade God dess him.

"Mary, my own ould darling," he whispered, "I'm a grate sinner, and all my learning isn^—isn't worth a brass farthing.'7 Mary was really astonished to hear him say this. "It's quite in airnest I am, dear; and here's the key of my little box, and go and bring out that poor scholar's nightcap, and take care of h* money, and as soon as day breaks entirely, go find out where he's stopping, and tell him I'll never touch cross nor coin belonging to him, nor one of his class, and give him back his coins of silver and his coins of brass; and, Mary, agra, if you've the

T bl

power, turn every boy in the parish into a poor scholar, that I may have the satisfaction of taching them; for I've had a Dream, Mary, and I'll tell it to you, who knows better than myself how to be grateful for such a warning. There, praise th& holy saints! is a streak of daylight; now listen, Mary, and don't interrupt me:—

I suppose it's dead I was first; but, anyhow, I thought I was floating about in a dark space, and every minute I wanted to fly up, but something kept me down. I could not rise—and as I grew used to the darkness, you see, I saw a great many things floating about like myself—mighty curious shapes. One of them, with wings like a bat, came close up to me; and, after all, what was it but a Homer; and I thought maybe it would helpme up; but when I made a grab at it, it turned into smoke. Then came a great white-faced owl, with red bothered eyes, and out of one of them glared a Voster, and out of the other a Gough; and globes and inkhorns changed, Mary, in the sight of my two looking eyes, into vivacious tadpoles, swimming here and there, and making game of me as they passed. Oh, I thought the time was a thousand years, and everything about me talking bad Latin and Greek that would bother a saint, and I without power to answer or to get away. I'm thinking it was the schoolmaster's purgatory I was in."

"Maybe so," replied Mary, " particularly as they wouldn't let you correct the bad Latin, dear.

"But it changed, Mary, and I found myself, afther a thousand or two years, in the midst of a mist—there was a mistiness all around me—and in my head—but it was a clear, soft, downy-like vapour, and I had my full liberty in it, so I kept on going up— up for ever so many years, and by degrees it cleared away, drawing itself into a bokreen at either side, leading towards a great high hill of light, and I made straight for the hill: and having got over it, I looked up, and of all the brightnesses I ever saw, was the brightness above me the brightest; and the more I looked at it, the brighter it grew; and yet there was no dazzle in my eyes; and something whispered me that that was heaven, and with that I fell down on my knees, and asked how I was to get up there; for mind ye, Mary, there was a gulf between me and the hill, or, to speak more to your understanding, a gap; the hill of light above me was in no ways joined to the hill on which I stood. So I cried how was I to get there. Well, before you could say twice ten, there stood before me seven poor scholars, those seven, dear, that I taught, and that have taken the vestments since. I knew them all, and I knew them well. Many a hard day's work I had gone through with them, just for that holy blessed pay, the love of God—there they stood, and Abel at their head."

"Oh, yah mulla! think of that now, my poor Aby; didn't I know the good pure drop was in him!" interrupted Mary.

"' The only way for you to get to that happy place, masther dear,' they said, 'is for you to make a ladder of us

"Is it a ladder of the"

"Whisht, will ye," interrupted the master. "' We are the stairs,' said they, 'that will lead you to that happy mansion. Al your learning- of which you were so proud—all your examinations —all your disquisitions and knowledge—your algebra and mathematics—your Greek—ay, or even your Hebrew, if you had that same, all are not worth a traneen. All the mighty fine doings, the greatness of man, or of man's learning, are not the value of a single blessing here; but we, masther jewel, We Are Yous Charities; seven of us poor boys, through your means, learned their duty—seven of us! and upon us you can walk up to the shining light, and be happy for ever.'

I was not a bit bothered at the idea of making a step ladder of the seven holy craturs, who, though they had been poor scholars, were far before myself where we were now; but as they bent, I 6tept, first on Abel, then on Paddy Blake, then on Billy Murphy; but anyhow, when I got to the end of the seven, I found there were five or six more wanting; I tried to make a spring, and only for Abel, I'd have gone—I don't know where: he held me fast. 'O the Lord be merciful! is this the way with me afther all,' I said. 'Boys—darlings! can ye get me no more than half way afther all?'

'Sure there must be more of us to help you,' makes answer Paddy Blake. 'Sure ye lived many years in the world after we left you,' says Abel, ' and, unless you hardened your heart, it isn't possible but you must have had a dale more oi us to help you. Sure you were never content, having tasted the ever-increasing sweetness of seven good deeds, to stop short and lave your task unfinished? Oh, then, if you did, masther,' said the poor fellow, 'if you did, it's myself that's sorry for you.' Well, Mary, agra! I thought my heart would burst open when I remembered what came over me last night—and much more—arithmetical calculations—when I had full and plinty, of what the little you gave and I taught came to—and every niggard thought was like a sticking-up dagger in my heart—and I looking at a glory I could never reach, because of my cramped heart; and just then I woke —I'm sure I must have had the prayers of some holy creature about me to cause such a warning.

Mary made no reply, but sank on her knees by the bedside, weeping—tears of joy they were—she felt that her prayers had been heard and answered. "And now, Mary, let us up and be stirring, for life is but short for the doing of our duties. We'll have the poor scholars to breakfast—and, darling, you'll look out for more of them. And, oh! but my heart's as light as the down of a thistle, and all through my blessed dream."

[graphic][merged small]


IVERYTHING we enjoy, as food or clothing—every 1 substance we employ for the purposes of life, whether J useful or ornamental—is derived from the earth, or } the earth's productions. Be the products animai or 'vegetable, mineral or metallic, they are alike gifts from the k-lisame source; though, in respect of their origin and posijfjgj' tion, the latter may be more strictly regarded as the >i& " treasures" of that solid or stony portion which is accessible to man. In this sense we intend to devote the present sheet to the more important minerals, describing their nature, origin, and uses, and presenting such particulars respecting their commercial history as may seem interesting to the general reader.

For the more accurate comprehension of the subject, it may be necessary to premise that we speak of the crust of the earth— meaning thereby that superficial rind or portion accessible to human investigation in contradistinction to the interior masses, concerning the nature of which we can only form conjectures. In this crust the rocky substances are variously arranged: some are found in layers or strata—hence said to be stratified; others appear in vast irregular masses, presenting no trace of bed or layer, and are accordingly termed unstrattfied. The matter of the stratified has evidently been deposited from water, and from this view of their origin, they are generally known as aqueous No. 130. 'l

or sedimentary rocks; while the unstratified, presenting no appearance of deposit, but everywhere an irregular configuration, and, moreover, often breaking through and contorting the stratified, are considered of igneous or volcanic origin. Both sedimentary and igneous rocks present various mineralogical and chemical characters: thus, of the former, we have roofing-slate, sandstone, coal, limestone, &c.; of the latter, granite, basalt, and lava—all very distinct in composition and appearance. Besides differences in mineral composition, the sedimentary rocks contain different kinds of fossils—that is, the petrified remains of animals and plants; and such distinctions have rendered it necessary to arrange the rocks constituting the, crust of our globe into various formations—meaning by a formation any suite of rocks possessing some peculiar mineral or fossil character. Thus we speak of the "coal formation," meaning thereby not merely the beds or layers of coal, but the sandstones, shales, ironstones, and the like, which alternate with and accompany that mineral—seeing that the whole have been evidently deposited under similar conditions, and that the same kinds of plants and animals are found fossil within them. Deviating in some degree from the usual technical arrangements, we shall describe the various mineral treasures of the earth under such heads as appear best calculated to aid the comprehension of the ordinary inquirer.


Bitumen—from a Greek word signifying the pitch-tree—may be regarded as embracing all those inflammable mineral substances which, like pitch, burn with flame in the open air. Naphtha, petroleum, and asphalte are familiar examples; but all substances impregnated with -these bitumens are said to be bituminous. Hence under this head may be included coal in all its varieties, as well as bituminous slate, slaggy mineral pitch, and the asphaltes of commerce.


Coal, of which there are several distinct varieties, is one of the most important minerals with which man has yet become acquainted. By it he fuses the metals, produces steam which sets machinery in motion, prepares gas for light, heats his apartments, cooks his food, and, in short, renders all the resources of nature fit for civilised use. It is uncertain when coal first began to be used in Britain as fuel, but in all probability it was not earlier than the beginning of the twelfth century. In 1281, Newcastle is noticed as having some trade in that article; and a little later, we find it mentioned in the Chartulary of the Abbey of Dunfermline. In the reign of Edward I., its use in London was prohibited, in consequence of the supposed injurious influences of the smoke; and this prohibition we find renewed at several subsequent periods; but all to no purpose. The increas

« ForrigeFortsæt »