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THE PANACEA FOR EVIL.
“This is a strange title,” I fancy some of my readers will exclaim, “ What can it mean ?”
The following little tale will explain it, and perhaps furnish a reply to a question frequently asked, but seldom answered in the right way.
But what is the Panacea?
An universal medicine--a cure for every wound, a balm for every weary, anxious, sorrowing spirit; in fact, it is a remedy, if properly applied, that never fails, and capable of completely changing the moral condition of a nation. My tale will prove it.
A few years ago the sorrows of Ireland were even more than usually increased, by the misguided peasantry being led on by the artifices and persuasions of a few wicked spirits among them, to commit acts of violence that produced terror and dismay amongst the more peaceable inhabitants of the land. The persons and property of none were safe, and the terrible Whiteboy Oath was administered to many a young and ardent spirit, who, had he been rightly trained, would have been an ornament to his country, and a blessing to society. But, alas! ignorance rocked his cradle, and superstition held him in her grasp ;
the duties he owed to all around him were unheeded, and, perhaps, unknown, for next to the affection he felt for his immediate relatives, the only person who claimed and received his homage was the priest. Yes, with his earliest years, the Whiteboy had been taught to ask this man’s blessing, to confess to him the hidden secrets of his heart, to believe that he could pardon sins of a crimson dye, and to be satisfied that the performance of enjoined penances could ensure his eternal salvation. Thus all being well for the future, his chief anxiety was for the present; poverty and want were his constant attendants, and cherishing the vague idea that he was in reality the lord of the soil, he looked upon his more wealthy neighbours, especially if they were of Engish extraction, as robbers—those who had deprived him of his birthright and happiness.
Oh! how many were thus deluded on to ruin! how many bitter sorrows and empty hearths have the Whiteboys caused! But we must leave the misguided fraternity to themselves: the
strong arm of the law now keeps them under, but that is all the spirit haunts them still, the same restless, turbulent, vindictive spirit, and for the quelling of this there is a remedy, and only one.
Dennis Mahony was a Whiteboy--brought up in ignorance, his youthful heart had nothing whereon to rest, or any encouragement to follow the path of right. The soul-stupifying delusions of Popery prevented his ever looking into himself; he committed the keeping of his conscience to his priest, and thought all was well. But Dennis could not thus live and dream away existence; there was that within that demanded excitement and variety: he scorned to dose hour after hour in listless stupidity, and his busy thoughts would form all kinds of plans when, in appearance, he was half asleep. The quickness of apprehension so peculiar to the sons of Ireland, soon led some of the turbulent spirits of the day to fix upon Dennis as one of themselves. By degrees they made his acquaintance, distilled the poison of their fancied grievances into his mind, and by a slow, yet sure process, bound him to their cause--the cause, as they miscalled it, of liberty and freedom.
When once the die was cast, Dennis was their own, ready to proceed to any lengths, and prepared to carry out any scheme, however wild and enthusiastic, which had for its object the extermination of the hated Saxons, whom his seducers had taught him to regard as conquerors and intruders upon the land of his fathers. But a subordinate situation was not consistent with the aspiring mind of Dennis; he conceived he was born to command, not to obey, and after the performance of a few daring acts of violence and lawless outrage, he was rewarded with the long-coveted distinction of being declared captain of the band. For some time he maintained his terrible ground, and eluded the vigilance of all the Government emissaries ; strangely he escaped pursuit, and his superstitious followers were ready to declare he wore a charmed life. But after a time affairs took another turn : the haunts of the Whiteboys were at length discovered, and Dennis was taken and committed to prison.
There, in solitude, his gloomy spirit dwelt upon the past; at first, like a chained lion he surveyed his narrow cell, and, contrasted it with the fastnesses of his native hills; he paced that little room and found it far too limited for his aspiring mind ; he felt the force of his confinement in all its horrors, and threw himself on his pallet-bed in the agony of despair. The governor of the gaol was a good and kind man; he was one who valued his Bible and endeavored to make it the guide of his life, and the rule of his conduct. His officers, too, were men of superior minds to the generality of persons in their situation, and the spirit that pervaded the heads of the establishment was observable amongst the subordinates. The governor was anxious about Dennis; notwithstanding his rough exterior, there was a something in him that excited more than attention it was interest. He entered into conversation with him, and by degrees won his confidence; he saw the sad vacuum in his mind and longed to remove it. Finding he could read a little, he lent him easy but interesting books; he helped him,-he would tell him a part of the tale, then leave him to puzzle out the rest; till by degrees, he was able to amuse himself and understand his subject.
And now what a field was open to the ardent mind of this poor Irishman! He read one tract after another with increasing pleasure, and looked forward to the visits of the turnkey with earnest desire. One day he brought a Bible in his hand ; Dennis had never seen one; What book is that?” said he.
Hush !” said the jailor, “'tis the forbidden one." “What?" said Dennis. "The Bible," replied the jailor. Did
you ever read it?" said Dennis. “Often and often," said the other. “Is there any harm in it ?”
“None that I could ever find out,” replied the jailor; "on the contrary, it has made me, I hope, a wiser, and certainly a happier man. Suppose you look through it."
“But what will I do at confession ?" said poor Dennis, “the priest will give me a terrible penance."
“Never mind," said the jailor, “it will interest you more than any book
you have ever read, and the more you read, the more you will want to read ;-my master has sent it you.” With these words he left the Bible on the table, and quitted the cell.
Poor Dennis had heard of the Bible, but knowing that it was
the Protestant book, and forbidden by pope and priest, he never even ventured to look at one. 'Tis true the heads of the Romish Church say, they do not exclude the Bible; but facts tell a different tale, and virtually they certainly do, for they will not allow their people to read it in the language they can understand. When our Irishman therefore opened the pages of the volume before him, with what astonishment he beheld it written in his once beloved native tongue. The very sight of the words appeared to sink within his heart; he felt in a kind of delirium of pleasure; and as he turned from one chapter to another, reading first a bit here, and then a bit there, he found he possessed a treasure that would completely destroy the irksomeness of his confinement. At length, having satisfied his curiosity, he determined upon beginning the first chapter of Genesis, and for a time adhered to his plan ; but after he had finished that, he turned to the gospels and made himself acquainted with their precious contents. To his astonishment he discovered no mention made of praying to the Virgin, or confession to the priest, or penance, or purgatory, or distinctions made between great and little sins-not a word about transubstantiation; and though he looked through the volume from one end to the other, he could not find the Pope, even so much as named. All this perplexed him greatly, so he determined the first time the governor came to him, to ask him about it. This was what he had waited and wished for. Purposely he had left Dennis to himself, that he might make his own observations upon the wonderful truths for the first time laid before him, and when he saw the real earnestness with which he desired to be taught, with deep gratitude and joy he commenced his task. Many a visit did this good man pay to that Whiteboy's cell, and when at length the period of his imprisonment expired, the ignorant miserable Roman Catholic was transformed into the happy enlightened Bible Christian, full of gratitude to the governor and friends he had found, and rich in the possession of his now highly prized and valued Bible.
Oh! with what different feelings did Dennis Mahony now go forth-no longer a rebel and a Whiteboy; for he had learnt that the followers of Jesus are ever careful to be subject to the higher powers, and that his temporal duty and allegiance were
to be given to his queen and country. No longer was he a Romanist, for he learnt from the pages of Inspiration that Christ, not the Church, was his Saviour; that Christ, not the Virgin, or the saints, was his advocate with the Father; that the righteousness of Jesus, and not his own, was to be wrought for him, and which he was freely invited to put on, as being ready prepared and fitted for him—that his sins were pardoned, not because he had paid for it, but because his Lord had died; died that he might live and become his own purchased one. Yes, all this Dennis now believed and deeply felt, and it was with a heart light and unfettered that he bent his steps to his home in the Wicklow Mountains.
Calling to mind his former state, and the character of his wife and neighbours, he pondered upon the best and wisest course for him to pursue. Past experience of his own corruptions led him to pity and excuse those of others, and while he was ready to confess Jesus Christ as his Saviour and his God, he determined to imitate him in his love and gentleness to those who opposed him, and in his affectionate entreaties to induce them to learn the way of life. The return of the former Whiteboy was hailed with joy; the turbulent spirits were subdued but not destroyed; and to his grief and sorrow. he found his comrades as wild, and reckless, and daring as ever. He spoke to them gently; he showed them the folly and sinfulness of their conduct, and they imputed it to fear, to a heart broken with confinement; his wife too, urged them on, and for many an hour after his return home, poor Dennis had to bear the taunt and jest of the outlaw and the rebel. But patiently he endured all; he would steal away to pray for his people and himself; he would take out his Bible in those deep glens, and unseen by human eye, meditate upon the precious truths revealed by divine love to guilty man.
He thought, at length, that he was losing time; “Why keep this treasure to himself ?” he asked, “why not at least impart it to his wife ?" He was aware she was under the hard thraldom of the priest, that she prided herself upon her confessions, her penances, her outward services; but still he thought she loved him ; his heart beat for her more ardently than it had ever done ; she had been very pretty, and once he thought he