Page images

religious order, and hearing him answer that he was, though unworthy, a member of the Society of Jesus, he expressed himself highly satisfied, and mentioned with much feeling how kindly he had been received by the Society at Rome and elsewhere in the course of his travels, and how the General Mutius Vitteleschi had given directions to the Rhetoricians of the Roman College to compliment him with speeches and verses when he visited that seat of learning. King Charles I. sent a nobleman from the field of battle to visit the dying lord in his name, and to signify how much he was affected at the loss of so good an officer. In returning thanks to his majesty for this proof of interest and attention, Lord Dormer replied, that he considered himself happy in the reflection of his having been, in life and in death, a faithful and loyal subject: that the favour he implored of his majesty, in return for his services to the end, was to permit his only son to be reared and educated by his illustrious mother in the Catholic religion. As the confessor occasionally dropped in from the field of battle to administer consolation, the noble lord conjured him, by the mercy of Christ, to publish to the world that he died a Catholic-a genuine son of the Roman Church.

"This noble lord had the misfortune of losing his father when he was but in the ninth year of his age; he was then withdrawn from the embraces of his Catholic mother, and consigned to the guardianship of a nobleman, who took the lead against his lawful sovereign: so that there is no cause of wonder, that the reluctance of a child of that tender age, under the impression of fear, and amidst the allurements of pleasure, should at length surrender to the arbitrary conduct of his trustee, and follow the example of his heretical masters. But he was now most truly repentant and ashamed of his past life, and it is impossible to describe his deep sense of contrition, and the fervour of his addresses to Almighty God, and to the Blessed Virgin, during the eighteen hours that intervened between his wound and his dissolution. His almost continual prayer was, 'O Jesus, my Saviour, save my soul!' At length, fortified with the holy Viaticum for his passage into eternity, his voice gradually failing, and repeating the sweetest name of Jesus, with his hands joined before him, and with. his eyes fixed on Heaven, he departed this life, in the 33rd year of his age. Such was his military fame, so inviolable was his fidelity, to his sovereign, so lively was his sense of compunction for his past life, as to make it a question whether this most pious death did not reflect more credit on the Catholic name, than it threw disgrace on the Sectarians, who had hitherto challenged him for their own."


TRAVELLING between Moffat and Dumfries with a friend, we observed a numerous flock of sheep grazing near the road-side. It was in the lambing season, so that the eye was struck by the pleasing sight of the innocent lambs gambolling by their mothers' sides, fondling about them, and receiving that nourishment which all provident nature has thus bestowed on them. A verdant field, whitened over by the fleecy tribe, is an interesting spectacle to the admirer of nature,―to one who contemplates with gratitude and praise-giving the works of the great Creator; nor will he whose heart is rightly organized, and has not undergone the denaturalizing of criminal enjoyments, cast a look upon the humble flock, without feeling that these gentle, inoffensive animals, feed and clothe him. The features of the lamb have for me a very tender interest: meekness and spotless innocence adorn them, and the train of thought which they excite leads the mind higher, and into a deeper and sublimer cast of reflection, than would accord with these hasty and imperfect pages.

We stopped a few minutes to admire the scene: my friend was fond of agriculture, and a smile of kindness and pity, which was mutual between us, evinced what we felt, as the little harmless ones bounded and frisked about, and ever and anon returned to their milky feast. It is sweet, even in the brute creation, to witness maternity; and here it was faithfully depicted. The mute look of love thrown on the minor animal, dependant for support and nutriment on the larger one; the affectionate caresses given and reciprocated; the return of the little rambler, after playing about for a few momentsall these have more in them than an unfeeling worldling is aware of. After some remarks on the part of my companion, connected with farming and the breeding of cattle, we journeyed on, whilst one of the flock, a lamb as white as the driven snow, bounded and curvetted, with much grace and agility, by the side of our chaise. It was, for some minutes, an object of mirth; after which we turned from it, and fell into conversation. It, however, continued following us, so that, at the distance of about a mile, I saw its shadow in the sun. I thought it probable that the dam was not far off; but a kind of uneasiness, over which I had no control, seemed to tell me that the wanderer was alone. I looked out of the window, and found that my apprehsions were true. The wheels still turned round, distance C. M.-VOL. VIII. NO. 72.

3 D

and time accompanying them; for thus both slip away. I now called to the post-boy, and requested him to alight, and to drive back the poor thing; recommending him, at the same time, merely to crack his whip, and upon no account whatever to use violence. The pretty creature stopped short, accented a complaint, looked undecided-but upon the second crack of the whip, retraced its steps. Our driver remounted, and we went on a little farther. I now felt what is vulgarly called fidgety. I gave unconnected answers to what was said to me; I played (unknowingly) with a tassel at the chaise window: [ was accused of being absent in thought—and I was so, for my mind was with the lamb. At length, I again put my bead out of the window; and I shall never forget (trifling and foolish let the misanthropist and pedant call it-the proud, the ambitious, the tyrant, and the miser, together with the whole tribe of insensibles)-no, I shall never forget the attitude of the strayed lamb: it hesitated, looked one way and another, bleated loud and sorrowful, and, after a short pause, started after us again. I could now contain myself no longer, but, calling out to our driver a second time to stop, I let down the step, and without further preface or apology to my friend, proceeded towards the weak and gentle animal: "It must be fatigued," said I to myself; it may drop by the road; it will never be able to regain its native field; it must die, if it is severed from its dam; to take it and advertise it, to attempt to bring it up by hand, might fail to be successful." But I confess I thought far less of the loss of the owner of the flock, than I did of the bleeding bosom of maternal love: as I approached, the little runaway receded, and I was now in a dilemma, from which my companion relieved me by coming up at the moment, and, just as I was going to address him, by saying, "No apology, I beg of you; I know your meaning without a word; we will walk back to the sheepfold." I could have hugged him to my bosom for this act of sympathy, but silence is often more eloquent than the most flowery language; I shook him cordially by the hand, and folding my arm in his, we walked leisurely and gravely in a retrograde direction: the driver, who had not caught soft sensibility's infection, appeared to grumble; but I appeased him by assuring him, that the road and his time should both be paid for. We had proceeded about five hundred yards, when I perceived the mother travelling after the young lost one, with every nerve and sinew strained, bleating and bemoaning, drooping the head, and in all possible apparent agony; the strayed one perceived her, and leaped with joy at beholding her; a few moments united them, and the scene was truly affecting. Never did I

ascend the step of a travelling carriage with heart and feet so light; a weight was taken off my spirits; I satisfied a small but gratifying duty of humanity, and I felt more pleased than if I had gained a lawsuit or a victory. What do I say? There is no comparison; for in this act, all the created beings concerned were made happy; in the other case, man must injure man in some shape; and if blood gained not the ascendancy, wounded feelings and divided friendships must pay the sacrifice: but here was all gain and no loss.


"To bring back the strayed lamb to the sheep-fold, is no bad account of a day's transactions;" but it was impossible that my interior should lead me no further; this link of life's chain was not a single one; there are wanderers still more heart-commanding than this pretty, defenceless, and helpless quadruped; objects of more profound anxiety, and whose well-doing or aberrations call upon the vigilant eye and throbbing bosom of man, attract our sympathy, share our gentlest, our warmest affections, and claim our protective watchfulness: the first of our best feelings is to love and succour them it is a law dictated by inclination, and written in brightest characters of light above; a law, the observance of which pays for the delightful task-a task where mercy and love unite in one pure and chaste embrace, where, hand in hand, and heart linked to heart, these sister virtues are inseparable. Blessed! for ever blessed! be the affectionate soul and strong nervous arm which are exerted to rescue the forlorn and lost wanderer-the lamb of human form, which has artlessly and unsuspectingly been misled from the family fold, the parental roof, which protected her infant innocent years, under which her angel-like smiles first opened on a parent's fond sight, and where peace and safety hovered round her couch of repose! May the powers of that hand, which holily led her back, never fail in the hour of danger, nor be poor and unprovided when the wretched seek its aid! May that tongue, borrowing eloquence from a divine source, which pleads in the wanderer's cause, and effects reconciliation and peace of mind restored, never lose its plea at that tribunal, from whence grace and mercy derived their existence! and O! may that deed stand chronicled when brass and marble moulder and decay, and when the worm shall be the bedfellow of what was

[ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][merged small]


To the Editor of the Catholic Miscellany.

An appeal has been made to me in your last number, by an inquirer, who, after a long and protracted investigation, professes himself convinced of the indefectibility of the Catholic church, and of the purity of the Catholic doctrine. His alleged object is to ascertain with precision, whether a person possessing perfect conviction on these two points, be, under all circumstances, obliged to associate himself externally to a society, proving itself to be the Church of Christ. After the deliberate and lengthened enquiries, which your correspondent appears to have made, and which have terminated in conviction on these two heads, that embrace the whole circle of religious controversy, I cannot discover the slightest ground of doubt, as to the practical conduct, which he is called on imperatively to adopt. The affirmative side of the question is so clearly established for the direction of his steps, that he cannot pursue any other course without violating a fundamental principle of moral conduct, that we cannot act against the dictates of a conscience prudently and deliberately formed. If a subject has become acquainted with the will of his sovereign, external neglect of an order given is not the mode of securing royal favour and if a Christian soul, after a long and painful investigation, should be favoured with the grace of seeing the force of those arguments, that support the indefectibility of the Catholic church, and the purity of the Catholic doctrine, and should then, from human motives, discard the heavenly favours, what consequence is to be expected? Can your correspondent bring himself to believe, that our Redeemer would bestow such attention on the salvation of mankind, as to assume human nature, to guide, instruct, and direct human beings, to found a church for these sublime purposes, to which his perpetual assistance and protection are promised; and then that he should leave it to the choice of each individual either to hear this church, or to disobey its injunctions? to live in its communion; or to belong to any private sect, or even national conventicle, established by civil authority? to be associated to the body of the faithful, deriving its succession from the apostles, or to be a member of a sect which has already separated itself from the great society of believers? Finally, does he consider it a subject of indifference, whether he is to be guided by the authority esta.

« PreviousContinue »