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me there was a glorious and cloudless Heaven, radiant with moonlight and studded with stars, and upon that I could gaze, and wonder, and rejoice-gaze on the great glory of Providence-wonder at the marvellousness of its mystery-and rejoice in those shining emblems of its mercy and its love! I began to speculate-not less upon the promises and marvels which I fancied I saw recorded in the sky, than upon those bright figures and parables in revelation-each in itself as much a beacon to the human spirit as particular stars are signals to the mariner upon the deep! And I am not the only one who has drawn a moral from the stars within a prison walls-De Berenger watched them in France, through his grated bars.

Ay, and now, reflected I, in the words of the French lyrist,

"And now, what other star is that,

That shoots, and shoots, and disappears?"

Perhaps it is emblematic of some poor fellow who, even to-day, may have been taken from a bright station in society to be thrust into this gloomy gaol; or perhaps it is indeed a type of death, and "un mortel expire!"

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It was a quiet autumn night-I had ventured out because I found a greater stillness prevailed than was usual within the walls of the prisonthe hour was late, and I must have been perambulating a weary while' from one end to the other of the racquet-ground and back, when a shooting star called to my mind the fanciful supposition of Berenger's "un mortel expire." "If so be that a mortal dies," said I, musingly, peace follow him to the grave."

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Several times I continued to pace backwards and forwards, dreaming awake, as it were, of death-its fit preparation and its appalling presence. Men often familiarize with the lips a sentence that has struck suddenly upon the mind, and I, as I strode over the prison-ground, in thought kept repeating to myself the words which the shooting star had awakened in my memory-" Un mortel expire-un mortel expire." My husband is dying," cried a woman who had approached me unnoticed and laid her hand upon my arm; 66 for God's sake come-come and administer to him the last consolations of religion!"


"Un mortel expire-there is a man dying," said I, almost mechanically, surprised in the very tenor of my thought; "Heaven save his soul."

"Holy Virgin!" exclaimed the woman, "the clergyman is mad, and my poor husband 'll die widout a sacrament!" and she bounded away from me with the speed of despair.

Her words brought me to my senses, and I soon arrested her progress. "Stop, stop," said I, " is your husband really dying?"

"I fear so."

"Is he a Catholic?"

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No, no, I am a Catholic, but my poor William is a Protestant. Och, for God's sake, come and save his soul! come," said she, 66 come!"

I followed her up two flights of stone steps in one of the front staircases of the King's Bench. The door of her room, as she opened it, creaked gently upon its hinges, and was answered by a quiet groan.


Hush," whispered she, as if in addressing the patient she were drowning the noise of the door; "Hush, dear William, are ye in pain ?"

"No, I'm in no pain now, but I hav'n't long to live; don't cry now, Ellen, you've been always a kind creature to me, and be sure I'll love ye to the last."

"Papa's not well," lisped a child who lay dreaming on the floor in one corner of the apartment. I tapped gently at the door.

"Come in, Sir; Och, come in for the love of God!" sobbed the distracted wife.

I entered; the husband, exhausted with the few words he had spoken, dozed half insensibly, and I sat myself down by his bed.

"He had better not be disturbed," whispered I.

<< 'No, Sir, not now," said the wife; "but the docther 'll be here directly, and afther he's done wid him, ye'd better talk to him, Sir. Nothing can save him now."

I continued sitting by the bed; and in the interval which elapsed before the doctor's arrival, I took note of the interior of the room. Like all the apartments of the prison, it was small in its dimensions, about twelve feet square; the walls were green, here and there darkened with a spot of damp; there was no carpet on the floor, and either the fire was extinguished, or the embers were the wreck of some former day's warmth. A rushlight, twisted round with paper, and stuck in a bottle-there was no candlestick-threw a faint sad flicker over the chamber, like a meteor through mist, shedding mingled light and gloom. The bed on which the patient lay was of French make, but its curtains had long been pledged for food; the counterpane was gone too, and the upper sheet, so that the dingy and worn blankets were the invalid's only coverings. In one corner of the room, upon a mattress on the floor, lay two children—a boy and girl; the girl, about eight years of age, slept soundly-the boy, younger by three years, had just wakened, and seeing a stranger in the room, lay with his bright blue eyes fixed upon my figure in a wide inquisitive stare. The eldest daughter of the dying man, a pretty slim girl some three years older than either of the other children, nursed an infant by the window, while the mother stood near the foot of the invalid's bed, and watched his pale lips as he lay breathing away the last moments of his life.

For about ten minutes after I had sat down by the bed-side there was a silent stillness in the room. The man continued dozing, and the poor wife, who seemed to fancy that in that short sleep her husband's suffering was lulled, controlled her sobs and tears in her intense anxiety that he should rest peacefully.

A gentle opening of the door, and a repetition of the same slight creak which I before noticed, announced the arrival of the doctor, but the patient did not move. The medical attendant stood as he had entered, and the wife did not change her earnest listening posture; she stood like a frail vessel between the Scylla and Charybdis of human destiny-her own heart vibrating betwixt hope and fear. The patient too dozed in a sort of doubt, whether he should wake to woo the fair spirit of existence, or sleep on till he became united with the darker angel of death. So pondered the Lord Thomas of the olden ballad between his two brides!

For about two minutes, this sort of awful quiet prevailed in the room; it was interrupted, and the prisoner awakened, by the faint cry of the child whom his eldest daughter was nursing. The patient, who had

evidently been dreaming, seeing me as he awoke, suddenly started and inquired," Are you the man?

"What man, William, dear? who do you mean?" said the wife, bending over him; "this is our good clergyman, and as you were ill, I thought you might like to talk to him."

"Thank you, Ellen," said the prisoner faintly, "I thought it was

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What, William?" asked the wife gaspingly, as if fearful of what was coming.

"Oh, I must have been dreaming, dear," was the evasive answer. "Ellen, did you not say this gentleman was a clergyman ?"

"Yes, and happy if he can afford you consolation in your sad illness," rejoined I.

"Thank you, Sir, thank you, I know I must die soon, and I do stand in need of consolation. Oh, that horrid dream! "

The prisoner paused.

"Ellen, dear," resumed he, " I should like to take the sacrament? will you receive it with me?"

"I am a Catholic, William," said the wife with a faint smile.

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"Ah! I forgot; then, Sir, I will take it alone," said he, turning to me; but, Ellen, bring our children to my bed-side, and do you sit by me; I would have you all see that I trusted in Christ to the last."

The woman turned away her head-the tears rolled rapidly over her cheeks and she for a moment hid her face in her handkerchief. Then she bent over the mattress on which her children lay, and the little boy smiled, and asked " What is it mother ?"

The poor woman now uttered a sob, and the girl woke. She then motioned her to approach with the infant.

The girl advanced. The doctor sat himself in her vacant chair. The prisoner watched me as I opened a small pocket Prayer-book; moved towards the cupboard for the fragment of bread upon its shelf-poured into a glass some wine which had been sent to him medicinally, and consecrated both in the customary solemn manner.

During this time the mother had taken the infant from her daughter's hands, and laid it by the side of its father. She had placed the young boy kneeling at the foot of the bed (on it); and the child, as all children are taught, closed together the palms of his little hands, and held them up towards Heaven. The wife herself knelt down by the bed, with one daughter on either side of her,—and the doctor raised his hat from his head, and held it over his face. With a tone, as solemn as I could command, I commenced the sacred duty which I had to perform, with a short, but earnest exhortation to the dying man. I then chose from the service a few of those passages which I thought would apply most consolingly. "Godliness is great riches, if a man be content with that he hath for we brought nothing into the world, neither may we carry anything out."-1 Tim. vi.

There were one or two sentences which I avoided, fearful of raising in his mind an angry feeling towards those who had imprisoned him. Such as, "Whoso hath this world's goods, and seeth his brother in need, and shutteth up his compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him ?"-1 St. John, iii.

During the time I went through the service, there was not the slightest

interruption, from the unsleeping smiling infant by the sufferer's side, to the agonized mother by his bed, all were mute listeners; and when the Sacrament was administered, the prisoner took the bread, and drank of the wine, with the fervent earnestness of a Christian, who put all trust in God, and who hoped to be redeemed by his Son!

When it was all over, he seemed much comforted, but his serenity was suddenly disturbed, and by an incident the most affecting I ever beheld. His little boy, who had remained kneeling with his hands clasped in most lamb-like innocence at the foot of his bed, as if glad to be released from his cramped position, let fall his arms upon the couch, and crawling over to his father, kissed him on the cheek, and asked, “ Father, are you going to die ?"

The poor man pressed the boy to his bosom, and sobbed out "Yes!" The effect was electric, the young half-conscious child burst into tears, the mother buried her face in the bed-clothes,-the younger girl ran to her mattress on the floor, and flung herself upon it in hysteric grief. I found my own fortitude failing, and the doctor, unable to control his emotions, ran out of the room.

I followed hastily, and called him back. "What can you do for him?” said I.

Nothing ! he is dying gradually, and is beyond the reach of medicine. I would help him if I could, but he is your patient now, not mine, and such scenes I cannot stand."

The words had scarcely passed his lips, when a clap of thunder, the loudest I ever heard in this country, burst over the prison,—and went roaring round the walls with the strange strong echoes which they return to all loud sounds. A shriek followed, and we both ran back into the room. Wild fulfilment of a fearful destiny! Strange closing of a sad career! The prisoner was in loud, strong, screaming hysterics. The wife snatched the children from the bed, and laid them upon the ground-and they all huddled together upon their mattress-in silent, but deep terror.

"Oh, dear! Oh, mercy! It's all me," cried the woman despairingly, as she hurried to the water-jug, for the usual remedy for hysterics.

The doctor held her back,-" Water will not do now," said he, “you must let nature take its course."

“Oh, God! oh, God! I fear I have killed my husband. Oh, my poor William !" She turned back to the couch.

Meanwhile some dozen prisoners, men and women, alarmed by the shrieks, had gathered in the room, and now stood round the bed. The thunder without continued rolling over the building-growing more appalling as its echoes grew fainter, and its sounds diminished, until they likened the groaning away of the human spirit. More than one start and shudder and scream did it awaken in the chamber; but none screamed like the dying man. He still remained in convulsive hysterics; his shrieks shrill and loud at first, seemed to exhaust themselves-growing fainter and fainter, until they died away in a sort of gurgle, which brought the white' foam to the sufferer's lips. Then it frothed for a moment, and its bubbles burst and disappeared; and at the same time the pulse stopped in his heart; and the sense left his spirit; and light was extinguished in the prisoner's brain. His wife stood there a lonely

widow, while his children were left orphans to the protection of the Lord.

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When the room was cleared of its idle guests, and the poor woman who had long been prepared for her husband's death, although not for its coming in so awful a form, had in some measure regained her composure, I inquired of her why she had charged herself with being the cause of the prisoner's last strong fit.


Oh, sir," she replied, " it was very unfortunate, and quite furtherst from my heart to think he would have been so strangely affected; but you know, sir, he said he had had a dream, and it seemed to hang upon his mind, so when you left the room with the docther, I just asked him what it was, and he told me. 'Ellen, dear,' said he, I dreamt that old Wentworth Stokes was not dead, but that he had come home from over the seas and '-' My own dream, William! My very own dream last night;' said I hastily; and then the loud clap of thunder came; and my poor husband, who was, like all sailors, superstitious, took it, I think, as some fearful confirmation of his vision-for he started, and shrieked, and fell into those wild dreadful hysterics, which took him out of the world."

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The poor woman's tears flowed afresh; and I left her for a time, telling her that I would return in an hour or two-and first bidding her pray to God, according to the dictates of her own heart and conscience, to calm for her the troubled waters of affliction, and enable her to support her trials!

I then sent the nurse from the Prison Infirmary, to pay the requisite attentions to the dead, directing her to leave the room as soon as she should have performed her sad duty. I deemed it well that the sacred sorrows of the widow and the orphans' first tears of mourning should be suffered to flow undisturbed. Still was my curiosity unsatisfied as to the cause of the prisoner's hysteric shock, and it had been little enlightened by the dream that " Old Wentworth Stokes had come home from over the seas." The mystery enveloped in this sentence was afterwards cleared up; and I shall unfold it to the reader in the following narrative.

The father of Ellen Maurice (the widow's maiden name) had been many years back a clothes-salesman in a respectable way of business in Dublin; and much of his trade consisted in the outfit of sailors leaving or coming into port. He was a widower, and Ellen being his only child he did not suffer her to be much away from him. In young girlhood she used to play about the shop; and when she began to ripen into the woman, it was part of her occupation to wait behind the counter. Old Maurice was doubtless fond of her, so far as his notions of affection went; but he was by nature a fierce, harsh man, and his daughter lived more in fear of him than love.

But young warm spirits do not long endure loneliness of heart; there is a well of sympathy in the human soul, that in youth does not remain long unstirred; feelings fresh and early, spring up in the fervour and loveliness of affection;-feelings

"that bind

The plain community of guileless hearts
In love and union."

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