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THE CHIMNEY CORNER., Ashburton Guardian, Volume 1, Issue 65, 24 February 1880
THE CHIMNEY CORNER.
FATHER PHIL’S COLLECTION. AN IRISH STORY. By Samuel Lover. Father Blake was more familiarly known by the name of Father Phil. By either title, or in whatever capacity, the worthy Father had great influence over his parish, and there was a free-and-easy way with him, even in doing the most solemn duties, which agreed wonderfully with the devil-may-care spirit of Paddy. Stiff and starched formality in any way is repugnant to the very nature of Irishmen. There are forms it is true, and many in in the Romish Church, but they are not cold forms, but attractive rather, to a sensitive people ; besides I believe those very forms, when observed the least formally, are the most influential on the Irish.
With all his intrinsic worth, Father Phil was at the same a strange man in exterior manners ; for, with an abundance of real piety, he had an abruptness of delivery, and a strange way of mixing up an occasional remark to his congregation in the midst of the celebration of the mass, which might well startle a stranger; but this very want of formality made him beloved by the people, and they would do ten times as much for Father Phil as fur the severe Father Dominick.
On the Sunday in question, Father Phil intended delivering an address to his flock from the altar, urging upon them the necessity of bestirring themselves in the repairs of the chapel, which was in a very dilapidated condition, and at one end let in the water through its worn-out thatch. A subscription was necessary ; and to raise this among a very impoverished people was no easy matter. The weather happened to be unfavorable, which was most favorable for Father Phil’s purpose, for the rain dropped its arguments through the roof upon the kneeling people below, in the most convincing manner; and as they endeavored to get out of the wet, they pressed round the altar as much as they could, for which they were reproved very smartly by his Reverence in the very midst of the mass. These interruptions occurred sometimes at the most serious places, producing a ludicrous effect, of which the worthy Father was quite unconscious, in his great anxiety to make the people repair the chapel. A big woman was elbowing her way towards the rails of the altar, and Father Phil, casting a sidelong glance at her, sent her to the rightabout, while he interupted his appeal to Heaven to address her thus:
“ Agnus Dei—You’d betther jump over the rails of the althar, I think. Go along out o’ that; there’s plenty o’ room in the chapel below there.” Then he would turn to the altar and proceed with the service, till turning to the congregation, he perceived some fresh offender.
■ “ Orate, fratres ! —Will you mind what I say to you, and go along out o’ that ? There’s room below there. Thrue for you Mrs. Finn—it’s a shame for him to be thramplin’ on you. Go along, Darby Casey, down there, and kneel in the rain —it’s a pity you havn’t a decent woman’s cloak under yen, indeed ! Orate, fratres ! ”
Again, he turned to pray, and, after some time he made an interval in the service to address his congregation on the subject of the repairs, and produced a paper containing the names of subscribers to that pious work who had already contributed, by way of example to these who had not.
“ Here it is,” said Father Phil ; “ here it is, and no denying it—down in black and white ; but if they who give arc down in black, how much blacker are those who have not given at all ! But I hope they will be ashamed of themselves when I howld up those to honor who have contributed to the uphowlding of the house of God. And isn’t it ashamed of yourselves you ought to be, to lave His house in such a condition ! and dosen’t it rain a’most every Sunday, as if it wished to remind you of your duty ? Arn’t you wet to the skin a’most every Sunday ? Oh, God is good to you ! to put you in mind of your duty, giving you such bitther cowlds that you are coughing and sneezing every Sunday to that degree that you can’t hear the blessed mass for a comfort and a benefit to you; and so you’ll go on sneezin’ until you put a good thatch on the place, and prevent the appearance of the evidence from Heaven against you every Sunday, which is condemning you before your faces, and behind your backs too, for don’t I see this minute a strame of wather that might turn a mill running down Micky Mackavoy’s back, between the collar of his coat and and his shirt ?”
Here a laugh eneued at the expense of Micky Mackavoy, who certainly was under a very heavy drip from the imperfect roof.
“ And is it laughin’ you arc, you haythens?” said Father Phil, reproving the merriment which he himself had purposely created, that he might reprove it. “Laughin’ is it you are, at your backslidings and insensibility to the honor of God —laughin’ because when you come here to be saved, you are lost entirely with the wet; and how, I ask you, are my words of comfort to enter your hearts when the rain is pouring down your hacks at the same time I Sure I have no chance of turning your hearts while you are nndher rain that might turn a mill—but once put a good roof on the house, and I will inundate you with piety ! Maybe it’s Father Dominick you would like to have coming among you, who would grind your hearts to powder with his heavy words.” (Here a low murmur of dissent ran through the throng.) “ Ha, ha ! so you wouldn’t like it, I see—very well, very well—take care, then, for if I find you insensible to my moderate reproofs, you hard-hearted haythens, you malefacthors and cruel persecuthors, that won’t put your hands in your pockets because your mild and quiet poor fool of a pasthor has no tongue in his head ! I say, your mild, quiet poor fool of a pasthor (for I know my own faults partly, God forgive me !) and I can’t spake toyou asyou deserve, you hard-living vagabonds, that are as insensible to your duties as you are to the weather. I wish it was sugar or salt that you were made of, and then the rain might melt you if 1 couldn’t ; but no them naked rafthers grins in your face to no purpose—you chate the house of God —but take care, maybe you won’t chate the devil so aisy.” (Here there was a sensation.) “Ha, ha! that makes you open your ears, does it ? More shame for 3 T ou; you ought to despise that dirty enemy of man, and depend on something better —but I see I must call you to a sense of your situation with the bottomless pit uudlier you, and no roof over you. Oh, dear! dear! dear! I’m ashamed of you—throth, if I had time and sthraw enough, I’d rather thatch the place myself than lose my time talking to you ; sure the place is more like a stable than a chapel. Oh, think of that ! the house of God to be like a stable ! for though our Redeemer was born in a stable, that is no reason why you are to keep his house always like one. “ And now I will read you the list of subscribers, and it will make you ashamed when you hear the names of several good and worthy Protestants in the parish, and out of it, too, who have given more than the Catholics. ”
SUBSCRIPTION LIST. FOP. THE REPAIRS AND ENLARGEMENT OF RALLYSLOUGHGUTTHBRY CHAPEL. Plillip Blake, P. P. “ Mickey Hickey, LO 7s Gd. He might
as well have made it ten shillings ; but half a loaf is better than no bread.”
“ Plaze your Reverence,” says Mick, from the body of the chapel, “ sure seven and sixpence is more than the half of ten shillings. ” (A laugh.) “ Oh, how witty .you arc ! Faith, if you knew your prayers as well as your arithmetic, it would bo bettor for you, Mickey. ” Hero the Father turned the laugh against Mick. “ Billy Riley, LO 3.; 4d. Of course he means to subscribe again !” “ John Dwyer, LO 15s U 1 That’s something like ! I’ll bo hound he’s only keeping hack the odd five shillings for a brushful o’ paint for the althar : it’s as black as a crow, instead o’ being white as a dove.”
He then hurried over rapidly some small subscribers, at follows : Peter Hefierman, LO 2s Bd. James Murphy, LO 2a Cd. Mat Donovan, LO Is 3d. Luke Dannely, LO 3s Od. Jack Quigly, ‘LO 2s Id.
Pat Finnegan, LO 2s 2d. Edward O’Connor, Esq., L2 Os Od. There’s for you! Edward O’Connor, Esq., —a Protestant in the parish—two pounds. “ Long life to him I cried a voice in the chapel” “ Amen ! said Father Phil; I’m not ashamed to be clerk to s« good a prayer.” Nicholas Fagan, LO 2s Gd. “ Young Nicholas Fagan, LO 5s Od. Young Nick is better than ould Nick, you see ” Tim Doyle, LO 7s Gd. “ Owny Doyle, LI Os Gd. Well done, Owny na Coppal—you deserve to prosper, for you make good use of your thrivings. ” “ Simon Leary, LO 2s Gd ; Bridget Murphy, LO 10s Od.' You ought to be ashamed o’ yourself, Simon ; a lone widow woman gives more than you.” “ Judy Moylan, LO 5s Od. Very good, Judy ; the women are behaving like gentlemen, they’ll have their reward in the next world.”
“Pat Finnerty, LO Ss 4d. I’m not sure if it is 8s 4d or 3s 4d, for the figure is blotted, but 1 believe it is 8s 4d. ” “ It was three and fourpincc I gave your Reverence,” said Pat from the crowd.
“ Well Pat, as I said eight and fourpence, you must not let me go hack o’ my word ; so bring me five shillings next week. ”
“Sure you won’t have me pay for a blot, sir]” “ Yis, I would ; that’s the rule of backgammon, you know, Pat. When I hit the mark, you pay for it. ”
Here his Reverence turned around, as if looking for some one, and called out, “ Rafferty ! Rafferty ! Rafferty ! Where are you, Rafferty ?” An old gray haired man appeared, bearing a large plate, and Fatlxer Phil continued :
“There, now, be active—l’m sending him among yon, good people, and such as cannot give as much as you would like to be read before his neighbours, give what little you can towards the repairs, and I will continue to read out the names by way of encouragement to you—and the next name I see is that of Squire Egan. Long life to him !” “ Squire Egan, L 5 Os Od. Squire Egan —five pounds—listen that —a Protestant in the parish—five pounds ! Faith the Protestants will make you ashamed of yourselves, if yon don’t take care.” “Mrs. Flanagan, L2 Os Gd. Not her own parish, neither—a fine lady. “ James Milligan, of Roundtowu, LI. And here, I must remark that the people of Roandtown have not been backward in coming forward on this occasion. I have a long list from Ronndtown—l will read it separate.” He then proceeded at a great pace, jumbling the town, and the pounds, and the people, in the most extraordinary manner: “James Milligan, of Ronndtown, one pound ; Darby Daly, of Ronndtown, one pound ; Sam Finnegan, of Ronndtown, one pound ; James Casey, of Roundpound, one town ; Kit Dwyer, of Townpound, one round--pound, I mane ; Pat Roundpound—Pounden, I mane—Pat Pounden, a pound of Poundtown, also —there’s an example for you ! “But what are you about, Rafferty? I don’t like the sound of that plate of yours you are not a good gleaner—go up into the gallery first, there where you see so many good-looking bonnets. I suppose they will give something to keep their bonnets out of the rain, for the wet will be into the gallery next Sunday if they don’t. I think that is Kitty Crow I see, getting her hit of silver ready ; them ribbons of yours cost a trifle, Kitty. Well, good Christians, here is more of the subscription for you. “ Matthew Lavciy, 02s Od. He doesn't belong to Roundtowu—Ronndtown will he renowned in a future age for its support to the church. Mark my words 1 Roundtown will prosper from this time out— Round to .vn will be a rising place. “Mark Honncssy, LO osGd ; Luke Clancy, LO 2s Gd. ; John Doolan, LO 2s 6d. One would think they had all agreed only to give two-and-sixpence apiece. And they comfortable men, too ! And look at their names—Matthew, Mark, Luke and John—the names of the blessed Evangelists, and only ten shillings among them. Oh, they are apostles not worthy of the name—we’ll call them the poor apostles from this out.” (Here a low laugh ran through the chapel). “Do you hear that Matthew, Mark, Luke and John? Faith ! 1 can tell you that name will stick to'you.” (Here the laugh was louder.) A voice, when the laugh subsided, exclaimed, “I’ll make it ten shillings, your T? PVf'VWI pp “ Who is that ? ” said Father Phil.
“Hennessy, your Reverence.” “ Very well, Mark. I suppose Matthew, Luke and John will follow your example. ” “ We will, your Reverence.”
“ Ha ! I thought you made a mistake ; we’ll call you now the faithful apostles, and I think the change in your name is bettor than seven-and-sixpence apiece to you. “I see you in the gallery thex - e, Rafferty. What do you pass that welldressed woman for ! Thry back. Ha ! see that, she had her money ready if you only asked her for it—don’t go by that other woman there ! Oh, ho ! So you won’t give anything, ma’am 1 You ought to be ashamed of yourself. There is a woman with an elegant sthraw bonnet, and she won’t give a farthing. Well, now, afther that, remember, I give it from the althar, that from this diy out sthraw bonnets pay fi’penny pieces.” “ Thomas Durfy, LI Os. Od. It’s not his parish, and lie’s a brave gentleman.
“ Miss Fanny Dawson, LI Os. Od, A Protestant out of the parish, and a sweet young lady, God bless her ! Oh, faith, the Protestants is shaming you. “ Dennis Fannin, LO 7s. Gd. Very good, indeed, for a working mason. “ Jemmy Riley, LO os. Od. Hot bad for a hedge carpenther. “ I gave you ten, plaze your reverence,” shouted Jemmy. “And by the same token you may remember it was on the nativity of the blessed Vargin, Sir, that I gave you the second five shillin’s. “So you did, Jemmy/’ cried Father Phil ; “I put a little cross before it to remind me of it; but I was in a hurry to make a sick call when you gave it to me, and forgot it afther ; and, indeed, myself doesn’t know wdiat I did with the same five shillings.” Here a pallid woman, who was kneeling near the rails of the altar, uttered an impassioned blessing, and exclaimed, “ Oh, that was the very five shillings, I’m sure, you gave to me that very day, to buy some little comforts for my poor husband, who was dying in the fever ! ” and the poor woman burst into loud sobs as she spoke.
A deep thrill of emotion ran through the tlock as this accidental proof of their poor pastor’s beneficence burst upon them; and, as an affectionate murmur began to rise above the silence which that emotion produced, the hurley Father Philip I lushed like a girl at this publication of his charity, and even at the foot of that altar where it stood, felt something like shame in being discovered in the commission of that virtue so highly commended by the Providence to which that altar was raised. He uttered a hasty “ Whist, whist!” and waved with his outstretched bauds his flock into silence.
In an instant one of those sudden changes so common to an Irish assembly, and scarcely credible to a stranger, took place. The multitude was hushed, the grotesque of the subscription-list had passed away and was forgotten, and the same man and the same multitude stood in altered relations. They were again a reverent flock, and he once more a solemn pastor ; the natural play of his nation’s mirthful sarcasm was absorbed in a moment in the sacredness of his office, and, with a solemnity befitting tho highest occasion, he placed his hands together before his breast, and, raising his eyes to heaven, ho poured forth his sweet voice, with a tone of deepest demotion, in that reverential call for prayer, “Orate, fratres !”
The sound of a multitude gently kneeling down followed, like the soft breaking of a quiet sea on a sandy beach ; and when Father Philip turned to the altar to pray, his pent-up feelings found vent in tears, and while he prayed he wept. I believe such scenes as this are not of unfrequent occurrence in Ireland—that country so long - suffering, so much maligned, and so little understood. Oh, rulers of Ireland ! why have you not sooner learned to lead that people by love, whom all your severity has been unable to drive 1 THE GRE .IT SILENCE MATCH. (From the New York Weekly.) The match was arranged upon tho following basis : Mr Hunn offered to bet Mr. Banks that Mrs. Banks could keep absolutely silent longer at a single stretch than Mrs. Hunn. Mr. Banks said he did not know much about Mrs. Hunn's capacity as a talker, but he felt certain that Mrs. Banks couldn’t hold her tongue for ten minutes, excepting when she was asleep, and even then she always talked a little. So it was agreed to make a trial. Hunn to pay for a silk dress if Mrs. Banks spoke first, and Banks to pay for it if Mrs Hunn spoke first. When the match was proposed Mr. Hunn suggested that the contestants should go in for training ; but Mr. Banks protested on the ground that if Mrs. Banks got to trying too hard to keep quiet it would kill lie?. The contest took place in Mr. Hunn’s dining-room, the two ladies sitting opposite to each other. When the signal was given Mrs. Banks was in the midst of soixxe remarks about the cheapness of calico, but she broke off short, and by holding her hand over her mouth resolutely, suppressed a powerful impulse to finish the sentence.
There was profound silence for ten minutes ; and then Mrs Hunn started to say something, but remembering herself she turned it off by pretending she was clearing her throat. Mr. Hunn claimed the stakes upon the ground that it was foul but Banks objected. Then Hunn, with malignant indignity, started a discussion with Banks about sjjring bonnets, and as they talked it was noticed that Mrs Huun had to hold tightly to a chair to restrain herself, while Mrs. Banks was absolutely pale from suppressed emotion.
This having failed, Banks turned the conversation on the infamous price of butter, with a diabolical purpose to strike Mrs. Banks in the weaker point, it soon became apparent that the strain upon the nervous system was terrible. "Violent twitchings were observable about the muscles of her mouth, and Banks felt certain for a moment that ho was going to win ; but Mrs. Banks suddenly arose and pounded the dinner table vigorously with her fist, and this seemed to give such relief to her pent up feelings that she became quite calm again. Mrs Hunn meantime liad her finger in her ears. She recognised that as her only hope. The brief discussion on the hired-girl question, of the incapacity of servants, and of the awful dimensions of their wages, followed ; but both contestants held out, although Mrs Hunn rushed to the cupboard, and getting apiece of paper wrote on it—
“ I must scream 1 Is screaming allowed ?"’
Banks said it wasn’t, and Mr. Hunn hurst into an extravagant eulogy of Mrs. llunu’s present servant girl witli such effect, that Mrs. Hunn became partly hysterical. But she succeeded in holding her tongue. And then Hunn, with unparalleled brutality, actually expectorated upon the carpet. Mrs. Hunn hounded from her chair and shook her fist at him, and when he laughed, she flew round the room at the rate of sixty knots an hour, dishevelling her back hair and behaving wildly. Hunn thought she would succumb, but she didn’t emit a sound.
Banks’ little Harry was playing in the yard, waiting for his parents to come out, and when lie saw him a happy thought struck Banks. Ho went out and paid Mrs. Jones, next door, a dollar to spank Harry, ami to do it in front of her window where Mrs. Banks sat. When Mr. Hunn saw Mrs. Banks rise right np and charge through the side door upon Mrs. Jones, ho felt he might as well throw up the sponge ; but as Mrs. Jones succeeded in getting away before the indignant mother reached her, and as Mrs. B. found that she could expend her fury by indulgence in frantic pantomime, expressive of her purpose to annihilate the entire Jones’ family at the earliest practical moment, Banks began to feci less confident.
Half-an-hour had expired, and both contestants, although evidently suffering acutely, held out bravely. Mr. Hunn saw that a single bold stroke would give the victory to either one side or the other. He rang the hell on the table. Mrs. Hunii’a chambermaid came in. She was a good-looking chambermaid, rather uncommonly good-looking, and Mrs. Hunn was—well, homely. As the girl entered, Hmm, brute and ruffian that he was, went up to her, put his arm round her waist and kissed her. Mrs. Hunn grew white about the lips, and her feet beat a wild tattoo upon the floor. Then Hunn chucked the chambermaid under the chin, and kissed her again. With one bound Mrs. Hunn leaped between them, and hurling the girl aside she screamed : “ Out of this house this instant, you huzzy, or I’ll break every hone in your body !” and then turning to Hunn, she said: “Who wants your old silk dress, anyhow Then she followed the chambermaid from the room in a fury. Banks gave in—he had lost; hut as ho went home ho whispered to Hunn ; “ You’ve won, old fellow, but I wouldn’t be in your place for the amount of the national debt.”
THE CHIMNEY CORNER., Ashburton Guardian, Volume 1, Issue 65, 24 February 1880
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