Billeder på siden

equipped for travelling. The parting between them was heart-breaking, and our poor heroine started off alone on the "thorny path."

Mrs. Merrill looked with anxiety to the return of her husband in the evening, for she felt that his grief and rage would be terrible. With her it was different; she had her religion to console her, while he had nothing. At last he came, and looking around and not seeing his Ethel, he divined the cause of her absence at once. Turning to his wife, he asked in a hoarse voice, "Where is she? But stop, you need not tell me; I see it in your face," and sinking in a chair he buried his face in his hands, and for a few moments his frame shook with violent sobs. When this paroxysm of grief was over, he left his seat, and with a stern hard expression on his face, said: "I am ashamed of this weakness, but it is but momentary; never let me hear that ungrateful girl's name again, and let no letters, no tidings of any kind ever be received from her; I want to forget her; for the future she is dead to me; I have no daughter."

From that day Ethel's name was never mentioned in the house. At first her mother tried to speak of her, but Mr. Merrill stopped her so angrily, that she thought it better to desist, and trusted that time might mitigate his grief, and make him see in what an unreasonable manner he was acting; but in this she was mistaken.


Two years after the occurrence of the foregoing events, Mrs. Merrill died, without having the happiness of seeing the reconciliation of her husband and daughter. Ethel, who of course had been in correspondence with her mother, heard of her death only through a paper, and then she wrote to her father, thinking that in a time of

trial like that his heart must soften towards her, and she could be in some measure a consolation to him. She had deceived herself, however, for her letter was returned to her, with a notice in the corner, saying it had "been refused." This did not discourage her, for she still felt that the time must come, when his affection would return to her, and all she could do now was patiently wait and pray. After the death of his wife, Mr. Merrill found his life very lonely, and at the opening of the war, he gladly went forward, and offered his services. He received a captain's commission at once, and by the end of the first year he had advanced to the rank of general, this advancement being won by his singular bravery. Where dangers were thickest he was always to be found, and if any one was required to head an expedition of more than usual bravery, it was always Captain Merrill that was called for. It might have almost been supposed that he possessed a charmed life, for while his companions fell thickly around him, he had so far escaped all injury.

"Why is it," he would say to himself, "that I, who have nothing to live for, and court death, am always spared, while so many of my comrades to whom life is sweet are cut down?" He did not recognize then the goodness of God, that, moved by his daughter's prayers, was preserving him, until, touched by grace, he should embrace the true Faith and make his peace with his Redeemer; but it seemed at last as if his desire for death was to be gratified, when, during the heat of an engagement, he fell mortally wounded with a ball in his side.

He was carried from the field for dead, but when examined by the surgeon it was found life was not yet extinct. He was conveyed at once to the rude shed that had been thrown up for an hospital, and in which several sisters of

charity were already doing all they could for the unfortunate wounded. "Another patient, Sister Seraphine," said the surgeon, calling one of the sisters aside, "to whom I would like you to give particular attention, our beloved General, who I fear has received his deathwound." "God help him, poor man," murmured the sister; "lead the way, doctor, and I will go to him at once; I have done all I can now here; perhaps the General's wound will not prove so dangerous as you fear."

Ethel, for it was she, had been one of the first of the sisters to volunteer, when nurses were required at the beginning of the war, and for the last two years her life had been spent on the battle-field, or in the ward of the wounded and dying, and many a poor man had closed his eyes to the world blessing her with his dying breath. She followed the doctor quickly to the bedside of her father, and for a moment did not recognize in the pale unconscious man before her the one whom she loved best on earth, but when the knowledge burst upon her, she started violently, and placing her hand convulsively on her heart, would have fallen, had it not been for the doctor, who caught her. "What is it, sister?" said he; "do you recognize the General as a friend or relation ?" "Oh! doctor," she said, in a pained quivering voice, "it is my father, my darling father, whom I have not seen for so many years, and then to find him thus; my God, it is too hard;" but in a moment recovering herself she added, "Thy will be done, O Lord."

The doctor regarded her pityingly for a few minutes, while she gave way to this natural burst of grief, and then said:

"Sister, if you want to nurse your father, in his presence you must control your feelings, for any great excitement might cause his death." VOL. VII.-4

"Then, doctor, is there no hope? can he not possibly recover?"

"Why, poor child, I wish I could give you some consolation, but in a case like this truth is the greatest kindness. It is only a matter of time; he may possibly linger a week, or he may not live through the night; all we can do for him now is to make his last moments as comfortable as possible."

"Then let us return to him at once, doctor; I will promise to be perfectly calm."

When she returned to the cot on which her father was extended he had regained his consciousness, but was lying with his eyes closed. Ethel leaned over him for a few seconds, eagerly scanning with tearful eyes the beloved features of him she loved so well, and who was so soon to leave her; and then sinking on her knees she breathed an earnest prayer, that her sacrifice might not be in vain, and that her father would not be allowed to die without the grace of conversion.

Taking his hand she softly whispered, "Papa, papa, here is your Ethel, will you not speak to her?"

The sick man opened his eyes, and looking wonderingly at Ethel for a moment, gave a low cry, and exerting all his little remaining strength he raised himself in bed, and catching her to his breast, cried,

"My Ethel, my daughter, now I can die happy;" for a few moments they remained locked in a close embrace without being able to speak, but at last Ethel, remembering the doctor's injunction, forced him gently down, and said:

"Papa, you are very weak; you must not try to talk, but keep perfectly quiet, and I will stay with you."

"One question, my child," said he; "has the doctor any hope of my recovery; must I die?" And he looked in her eyes with such a beseeching expression that it nearly broke poor Ethel's heart to have to

truthfully tell him that his days were numbered. "Then, Ethel, if there is no hope, there is no use of my remaining quiet; my time will be only too short, darling, for all I have to hear and say. Tell me now everything about yourself, from the unfortunate day you left me till


Ethel commenced, and with her father's hand clasped tightly in her own she related to him how her life had been spent for the last sad three years.

He listened in silence, and when she had finished he asked, "And was my daughter happy and contented all this time?"

"Oh! papa, as I could have been in no other sphere; it is true our life is hard, but what is that when compared with the consciousness that we are constantly doing good. And often will the grateful blessing of some poor afflicted creature more than recompense us for the coldness and slights we so often receive from those who, not understanding our holy religion, look upon us with distrust."

General Merrill lay for a few moments in deep thought, and then, with a flush mantling his brow, he said:

"Ethel, tell me something, child, of your Faith; for a religion that can give the grace to weak women to live the lives of saints, for it is nothing less, must be the true one." For a moment Ethel could not speak, so great was the flood of joy caused by her father's words, but quickly mastering her emotions she commenced, and simply explained

to him some of the principal truths of her Faith. As he listened light suddenly burst on his mind, and what before had been dark and unintelligible to him he now saw clearly by the light of grace.

"Ethel, it is enough," he cried, "I am convinced; God forgive me for remaining so long in ignorance; but is it too late, Ethel?" said he, with a sudden fear; "will God receive one who so long resisted his teachings?"

Ethel joyfully assured him that it was never too late for the "strayed sheep to return to the fold," and, at his request, brought him a priest, who, after talking to him for a few minutes, and finding that he had the proper dispositions, heard his confession, and administered conditional baptism.

When Ethel returned to him she found that he was sinking rapidly. He looked at her lovingly, and said, "My child, I know I have but a few moments to live, but I am more than content to die, for I am no longer without hope. And oh my darling, it is your piety and goodness that obtained for me this priceless blessing. Ethel, I am going to your mother. My darling, goodbye;" and sinking back, his soul quietly passed away without a struggle.

Ethel fell on her knees, and covered the cold face that could no longer answer to her caresses with kisses; but though she wept, the bitterness was taken from the blow by the consoling knowledge that "he was at rest!"

WISDOM, though richer than Peruvian mines,
And sweeter than the sweet ambrosial hive,—
What is she but the means of happiness?
That unobtained, than folly more a fool;
A melancholy fool, without her bells.
Friendship, the means of wisdom, richly gives
The precious end which makes our wisdom wise.


EVERY person conversant with the matter will allow that there is much truth in the remarkable saying attributed to Charles V., "Autant de langues on parle, autant de fois on est homme," which may be translated thus: As many languages as one speaks, so many times is he a man, or is his intelligence increased. He will also admit that a knowledge of languages, modern as well as ancient, forms a principal part of a liberal and thorough education; and yet while so many minds are actively engaged in devising plans for learning them, it is truly singular that an important and fertile source for their acquisition has been hitherto overlooked, or perhaps I should say thoughtlessly despised.

This source, however strange it may appear, will be found, as will presently be seen, in the noble and resonant language of Erin-that language which England in her insane and brutal bigotry has so often attempted to eradicate, along with the Catholic religion, from the face of the earth.

is to the modern tongues of India and of some European countries.

This deduction or inference will not appear so strange when it is remembered that after the subversion of the western Roman empire Irish missionaries were, under the Holy See, among the principal teachers of Western and Southern Europe both in religion and in letters.* Hence, we may well conceive that these worthy pioneers of Christian civilization, who loved their native language, as all true Irishmen do or ought to do, took occasion to impress a portion of its peculiar features and excellences upon the languages of those countries which were then in a state of formation, and in which they must have largely concurred in giving forms and principles to, in their capacity of teachers, for it is well known that the modern languages of Europe had their origin about the time when the people speaking them were converted to Christianity. We see then how important it is to the cause of education that the language of Ireland should be cultivated and diffused.

It is a fact which cannot be successfully disputed that this language, often called Hiberno-Celtic, forms the best key for acquiring the pronunciation and thorough knowledge of the vernaculars of England, France, Spain, Portugal, and Italy, all these being radically largely commingled with the ancient Celtic. But it is admitted by all linguists who are conversant with archæology that Irish is the purest and best cultivated dialect of that selfsame Celtic, hence it must be to the languages of Southern and Western Europe what the Sanscrit Lives of the Saints, September 5.

But there is still perhaps a more important reason why this should be done; it is this: It is well known to those who live the life prescribed by true religion that some languages are better adapted to the purposes of devotion than others. Who acquainted with the matter will not. for this purpose prefer Latin, or

tioned I will content myself with the following:

* From many instances that could be men"It is from thence" (Ireland), writes the Englishman Alban Butler, "that Charlemagne invited the learned professors Clement and John; the one the founder of the University of Paris, and the other of the University of Pavia in Italy."

any of the languages derived from it, to those of Teutonic origin, admirable as they undoubtedly are in other respects? The mysterious connection between sound and the emotional faculties of the soul has frequently been noticed as well as felt, and is no doubt the physiological basis of those beautiful Gregorian chants which the Catholic religion understands and uses with such soul-stirring and rapturous effect. What applies to music and melody does, no doubt, in some degree apply to language, hence, it may be worthy of inquiry how far we ought to study and cultivate Irish, that language which for three centuries was almost the only vernacular of a people whose piety and erudition procured for their country from the rest of Christendom the glorious and well-earned title of Insula sanctorum et doctorum, the Island of Saints and Scholars.

The plan I propose for making the acquisition of this language easy and popular is simply this, to substitute for its original characters or letters the Roman or modern ones in common use, but with the variations which will be presently specified. Nearly all the modern languages of Europe have, if I mistake not, adopted this method. The German, which some may consider an exception, is fast tending to it in Prussia and in other parts of Germany. The attempt to diffuse and popularize the Irish language may appear to some to be a futile idea, but to me it appears not only possible but even eminently practicable.

Here I would remark that until the tastes of the reading public are materially changed the language of Erin, with its present antique characters, will be felt but partially and imperfectly studied and explored. A dead language, so called, should have its ancient or primitive characters, but Irish by no means be

longs to this class, but, on the contrary, is a living one, replete with vitality and energy, and, therefore, subject to change, to culture, or, if the term be preferred, to progress. By presenting it then in Roman characters, its words, phrases, &c., will become more plain, familiar, and striking to the general reader; he will then more easily see its relation to other tongues; that is, he will the more easily see how many of their words are borrowed or derived from it, or similar to it. He will see that it contains within itself, in the most perfect harmony, all the sounds, and, to a great extent, all the generative principles that are peculiar to all the modern languages above referred to. He will thus be induced to examine it more and more, and be enabled to appreciate its beauties and advantages, and in the course of time it will assume its true and legitimate position in polite literature and in the classical course.

Before I proceed to develop my proposed plan, I would remark that the attempt already made of printing and writing Irish in Roman characters might have been expected to be a failure. It introduced too many letters, and when the student had to consult his glossary or dictionary, he felt at a loss what word to look for as a primitive or radical; thus if he wanted to find the meaning of the word curp, in the phrase ino churp, my body, in vain would he look for it among the words beginning with ch. My plan would obviate these two great objections; it would preserve all the advantages of the ancient characters, while the characters themselves would be discontinued and only resorted to for the special benefit of antiquarians, a class who are very few in number.

I recommend then that the dots or pips of the ancient characters be retained in place of the numberless hs that otherwise would be re

« ForrigeFortsæt »