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The account S. Patrick gives of himself, is briefly this : Born in Alcluaid, (Dumbarton,) and taken prisoner in his youth, he was sold to an Irish Chieftain, and was retained by him as a shepherd for six years. He describes his own people as very ignorant and wicked ; and imagines the foray in which he and many others were taken, to have been a direct chastisement, sent by God. This seems to have turned his thoughts to Religion : and, during his nightly watches over the sheep, which he describes, he conceived the idea of evangelizing the land of his captivity. This idea was confirmed by the chance observation of some Irish sailors, who, after he had been in captivity for six years, assisted him to escape : “ Come to us,” they said, “ in good faith.” S. Patrick tells us that he was determined to do so hereafter, and that the “good faith" should be that of Jesus CARIST.
After great privations he reached his home, where he lived for some years: his friends, naturally enough, offering every opposition to what they must have considered a wild scheme. But his determination was at last effected by a dream, in which he imagined a man named Victoricius,-probably one of his Irish friends—bringing him a letter from Ireland, which he was unable to read. Conscious of the deficiencies of his early education, and well aware that all his countrymen were equally ignorant, he set out at once for France, and entered himself as a student in the monastery, then recently founded by S. Martin, at Tours. He speaks a good deal of a friend and adviser, who subsequently consecrated him Bishop : this, from collateral evidence, we imagine must have been S. German, who always assisted him in his difficulties.
About this time, the mission of Palladius to Ireland utterly failed, and Palladius himself returned to Scotland, where he shortly afterwards died. S. Patrick offered himself as his successor, and, with serenteen Priests and Deacons who had been ordained for the mission, landed at Wicklow, and established themselves for the time at Holmpatrick.
The earlier years of the mission were discouraging enough, and S. Patrick altogether failed in that which had been the first object of his wishes—the conversion of his old master, Milcho. He owed his ultimate success to that which at first threatened to put a very abrupt termination to it. Being at Tara during the Assembly of the Irish Chieftains, or Kings, as they are called, for one of their religious festivals, he, in absolute ignorance, offended against the laws of the country, by lighting a fire before that of the king had been kindled
with the accustomed solemnities. This was a sort of high treason, as there was an ancient prophecy that whoever lighted his fire first on the day of that festival would eventually obtain the sovereignty of Ireland.
The missionaries were apprehended, and brought before Leogaire, the principal king, and were in very considerable danger, till S. Pat. rick succeeded in convincing them that the Sovereignty mentioned in the prophecy was a spiritual, not a temporal kingdom, and that a spi. ritual rule was the only one which he was desirous of obtaining.
Being thus permitted to explain his real views before the assembled chiefs, he succeeded, before the end of the festival, in converting most of them : and when their celebrated Bard Dubtach, and his disciple Fiech, (afterwards Bishop of Sletty,) confessed their conviction, Leogaire himself, crying out, “it is better to believe than to perish !” was added to the number of the faithful.
This great turning-point in S. Patrick's life is not related in this detail in his Confession : the object of which seems rather to be his inner life, as affected by outer circumstances ; which last are mentioned, as it were, incidentally-names, he scarcely ever mentions— but all these things are very distinctly alluded to, and are easily verified by collateral evidence.
After this, his mission, though not without its dangers, was comparatively easy. He traversed the country in all directions,—very frequently with guards, and generally attended by Benin, a child, the son of one of his earliest disciples, who lived to succeed him in the see of Armagh, which at this period of his life he seems to have founded.
In his old age, he passed much of his time at a church and an ecclesiastical establishment in the county Down. This he had called “ Saul,” or “the Barn,” in commemoration of Dicho, his first convert, who, in the earlier days of his mission, had given him his barn, which stood there, for a church. The original church is still in existence, though in ruins, and is still called Saul Patrick, (properly, Savul Patrick, or Patrick's Barn. Here, in all probability, he wrote his “ Confession,” for it bears internal evidence of having been written late in life; and here, at a very advanced age, he died, and was buried on the site of the present cathedral of Down.
The original manuscript of the “ Confession," is written in very barbarous Latin, interspersed with Celtic words, and entirely bears out S. Patrick's own assertion that his early education had been greatly neglected
TO THE MEMORY OF THE BELOVED DEAD. The summer sweets had passed away,
with many a heart-throb sore, For warning voices said that she would ne'er see summer more ; But still I hoped, 'gainst hope itself, and at the autumn tide, With joy I marked returning strength while watching by her side.
But dreary winter and his blasts came with redoubled gloom ;
One day a robin-redbreast came unto the casement near,
Then, then I knew that death was nigh, and slowly stalking on-
The blessed Sabbath morning dawned, the last she ever saw,
The grass waves high, the fields are green, which skirt the churchyard
side, Where charnel vaults with massive walls their slumbering inmates hide ; The ancient trees cast shadows broad, the sparkling waters leap, And still the redbreast sings around her long and dreamless sleep.
And still the robin redbreast haunts our path of sin and sorrow, And singeth of the passing year and man's uncertain morrow. While every hour the scytheman dread steals nearer to our side, The Cross of Refuge gleams on high, “ for us the Saviour died.”
1 Robin-redbreasts haunt the house of death, according to legendary lore.
CONTINENTAL RAMBLES. -LETTER X.
I am not going to take you over any more mountain passes; for though each has some peculiarity, and presents fresh interest to the traveller, it is difficult to make description other than monotonous. must suppose our three months' sojourn in Switzerland is ended, and we on our homeward route. We left Thun on the 1st of October, taking the bateau à vapeur to Briene, and crossing the Brunig to Lungern, a walk of about twelve miles, with pretty peeps into the valleys, on the ascent and descent. We passed the night at Lungern, and set out early next morning by the banks of the lake, whose beauty is much impaired by the diminution of its water from draining; its beautiful neighbour, the lake of Saarnen, is threatened with the same fate. We stopped our voiture at one or two little places, to see the churches, which we found well kept; there was a good deal of handsome marble.
We soon arrived at Alpnach, on the Lake of Lucerne, where we took boat for Weggis, and had a most delicious sail of two hours. Here we had a delay in procuring a horse for one of our party; only one was to be found, and his owner admitted he was a slow beast. And he certainly did try our patience; but what with dragging at the bridle, and poking him up behind, we did contrive at last to reach the summit in time to witness one of the most beautiful spectacles I ever beheld. The sun was just dipping below the horizon, and every colour of the rainbow was thrown over the mountain tops. In its own peculiar beauty, the view from the Righi cannot easily be
rivalled; the isolated situation of the mountain affording
; such a complete panorama of so great an extent of country.
And now for the sun-rising, (a sunset, to my mind, is worth twenty risings); but in this instance it presented so extraordinary a spectacle, that we should have been sorry to forego it. We were aroused by the sound of the Alpine horn, and hastily dressed and ran out; meeting, though the season was late, a good many people
- French, German, English, on the summit, all warmly wrapped up, who had the forethought to provide against the keen mountain air. Those who do not are in the habit of using the blankets from their bed, which has given rise to a notice being fixed in each room : “ Avis à messieurs les voyageurs : Que ceux qui prennent les couvertures des lits pour sortir au sommet paieront dix batz pour les faire relaver.” I said we hastened out to see ; but the panorama
of last night had vanished. A dense white cloud lay from two to three thousand feet below us, concealing the plain -a circumference of three hundred miles—entirely from our view. It had the appearance of a mighty avalanche; beneath which, rivers, lakes, and towns were buried, nothing being visible but the tops of the higher mountains, looking like islands in a wide sea.
We waited a long time to watch the battle between the clouds and the sun; but it only partially cleared, giving us a peep now and then into the world below. We descended about noon, engaging a man to carry our sac de nuit, as we wished to dispense with the services of the slow horse. About half-way down we passed through the clouds, just as if we were walking in a fog, and then immerged into warm sunshine; the cloud seen from below having the appearance of a ring round the mountain's