[From Manx Recollections, 1894]
DURING the years that followed previous to 1852 (a crisis in Mrs. Elliott's life), events of national and individual calamity occurred that threw into shadow and reserve many of the hitherto sunny aspects in her character. They were a formative process, welding her nature into deeper sympathy, wider experience, and more practical piety.
In March of the year 1843, Dr. Carpenter delivered a week-day lecture, in which he alluded to the recent appalling, earthquake in the West Indies.
Ah," he said, "many of you, my hearers, imagine that here in this favoured island we are safe from any such visitation from God. You said the same of the cholera, you believed foreign lands alone were a prey to such things, but it came and swept numbers of your relations and friends into eternity !
The Doctor's words sent a thrill of awe through his audience, and not a few bent their heads in solemn forethought.
That very night, whilst Douglas slept, the foundations of the isle were shaken, and people were roused from their beds in terror and dismay. The Doctor's prediction had come to pass ; the earthquake from which they believed themselves safe had followed them ! Happily the shock was of short duration, and the damage done trifling. The voice of God, as spoken by his servant, was, however, heard in the event; and Eleanor Elliott and her household were especially impressed.
On July 10, 1845, Governor Ready, the Lieut.-Governor of the island, died. His death was a truly melancholy one, and one that called forth great and general sympathy for the bereaved widow.
Mrs. Weatherell and her daughter had apparently a deep regard for him who was gone and affection for Mrs. Ready. The Governor was taken ill during the night, and suddenly at 5 A.M. Mrs. Ready was roused from her bed to give him some medicine. In the hurry and agitation of the moment she mistook a bottle containing a mixture for outward application, and gave it to her suffering husband instead of the usual internal remedy. Two hours after he was a corpse.
One evening in November 1846 Doctor Carpenter took tea with the Elliotts and Mrs. Weatherell; and as the conversation insensibly turned from the things of time to those of eternity, the good Doctor alluded to a circumstance which had recently affected him very much. He said only a month ago a gentleman of the name of Hunter came to see him; he bore a letter from a Doctor Tattershall, a Liverpool clergyman, in which Doctor Tattershall asked him to show some attention to his friend Mr. Hunter, who was visiting the island for his health. " Only a few days ago," said Doctor Carpenter, " Mr. Hunter died; and about the same time Doctor Tattershall was preaching in his own pulpit in Liverpool when suddenly he too was called away! "
Doctor Carpenter's story had not time to fade from the impression it left on his friends' minds, when the Rev. Robert Brown, Vicar of Braddan, unexpectedly died. The circumstances of his death were peculiarly distressing. He had been very ill, and some attributed his illness to the great sorrow and anxiety he had undergone owing to his son Hugh having left the Church of his baptism and become a dissenting minister. This Hugh was later known as the famous Baptist, Rev. Hugh Stowell Brown of Liverpool. But on the day Mr. Hunter was buried, the Vicar, having sufficiently recovered, attended the funeral; and the procession passing the Elliotts house, Mrs. Weatherell remarked how well Mr. Brown looked considering his recent severe illness.
On his return from the funeral, a letter was put into the old clergyman's hands; it contained the news of his eldest son's death abroad at New Providence of yellow fever. A few days elapsed when the Vicar's third son died at home, also of fever. One fortnight after, he himself suddenly dropped dead near his own house.
A son of this Vicar of Braddan survives, the Rev. Thomas Brown, late of Clifton College, Bristol, who is the author of the "Foc'sle Yarns," " Betsy Lee," and other Manx poems of peculiar originality, power, and pathos.
What wonder that the wing of the angel of death seemed to hover with threatening plume over the very heads of those who listened to these sad recitals and trembled as they heard. Mrs. Elliott may be said to have kept and pondered all these things in her heart. In after years, so strongly had she been moved at this and subsequent periods to heartfelt compassion for bereaved ones, that she never heard of a death, or witnessed a funeral, without retiring alone with her God to pray for those who wept.
These deaths of familiar acquaintances and friends were in their turn almost submerged in the sorrow of the nation incident to the potato famine that, in 1847, began its dire work in Ireland. On March 24th there was a general fast appointed in the Isle of Man on account of this sad visitation. Prayers public and private went up to the great Disposer of events to avert the calamity and save the lives of a country's population. None exerted themselves more to meet the necessity of the times than Mrs. Elliott. She and her mother and the young, Willie were heart and soul in their endeavours to forward material assistance to the poor perishing Irish.
It was at this time that our friend wrote, and published
in the Christian Lady's Magazine, an article entitled " A Chapter on Faded Flowers." It is a memorial of the fragrant lives of Charlotte Elizabeth and Caroline Wilson, two Christian writers well known in their day.
Charlotte Elizabeth was the Editor of the Christian Lady's Magazine. She was a poetess and an enthusiastic lover of poor Ireland. An additional reason why she so much interested Mrs. Elliott was that she threw herself equally heartily into the cause of God's ancient people, the Jews. Of all societies almost for the propagation of the Gospel, the Jews' Society was to Eleanor of supreme importance. Her heart went out to the race of Abraham with a great compassion and yearning desire for their acceptance of the Messiah of God.
Caroline Wilson, the other gentlewoman, of whom she wrote, was the author of "The Listener," &c.
Our friend's article will speak for itself of her power of expression, fervent piety and chaste imagination
My beloved is gone down into His garden to the beds of spices, to feed in the gardens, and to gather lilies. "-CANT. vi. 2.
Charlotte Elizabeth and Caroline Wilson are dead and gone, like summer flowers. Let us consider these lilies of Eden, for they were lovely and pleasant in their lives, and in their deaths not long divided. We know that they shall live and grow again, clothed with such robes of beauty as Solomon never wore. " Light is sown for the righteous." it was sown when the righteous One, the Light of the world, was buried in the dark earth, and rose again on the first day of the week-a glorious sheaf of first-fruits to wave before the Lord of the harvest. And so the children of light go down to the grave and are hidden for a time, but they shall yet spring, forth in the golden splendours of immortality. Therefore we have hope concerning our sisters that they shall return with all that holy family whom the Lord will confess before His Father and the holy angels. He shall stretch forth His hand towards His disciples and say, " Behold my brethren and my sisters-for whosoever will do the will of my Father, the same is my brother and my sister and my mother." Then the Marys and Marthas and Dorcases, and all the blessed women of all time, whose names are written in Scripture and in heaven; who did what they could for Jesus, so that the whole house of God is yet filled with the odour of their offerings; who ministered unto Him, and sat at His feet and waited for His words, and wept for their sins and for His sorrows, shall enter into the joy of their Lord. They shall be gathered together in one sweet society of kindred spirits, of one heart and mind in the unity of one Spirit of love. Now they compass us about as a luminous cloud of witnesses; then they shall clearly shine forth as glorious stars of light, revolving round the Sun of Righteousness, and reflecting His brightness for ever and ever. It is meet and right that we should give thanks
unto our Heavenly Father, for those who have departed this life in His faith and fear, beseeching Him to give us grace so to follow their good example, that with them we may be partakers of His heavenly kingdom.
Charlotte Elizabeth and Caroline Wilson now rest from their labours, and their works do follow them. They were servants of the Church and friends of Jesus, loving what He loved, and doing His commandments. They both reflected the same light of heaven, though in varied tints of beauty and of grace. One was like Peter in fervency of zeal; the other rather resembled John in depth and stillness of love.
"Go ye to the lost sheep of the house of Israel," said the Good Shepherd. This command was especially fulfilled by St. Peter, it was his peculiar vocation. So, according to her ability, and besides her other works of faith, did Charlotte Elizabeth seek the welfare of the house of Israel. Her spirit was stirred within her for the Lord's heritage, the dearly beloved of His soul. Her last testimony in this magazine was an indignant protest against Gentile coldness towards this ancient people, whose first father was called the friend of God. And her dying voice breathed the same spirit of zeal in a good cause. "Truly she fell asleep in Jesus, and not only so, her last testimony to His faithfulness and truth was a message to her beloved Israel."
Thus the last aspect of her soul was eastward-looking towards Jerusalem.
It reminds us of a sweet passage in the life of Christian.
The pilgrim they laid in a large upper chamber whose window opened towards the sun-rising; the name of the chamber was Peace, where he slept till break of day, and then he awoke and sang." So she sleeps in peace, and when the day dawns she will awake and sang. She was not only the friend of the Jews, but of the Gentiles also. The limits of these pages forbid any detail of her works of faith and charity, and so we merely prolong the last breath of her soul, as it still seems to whisper among the leaves of this book. She was not partial in the law; she sought to fulfil all righteousness. Yet we do not unduly exalt our departed friend-we glorify God in her; because it is His pleasure to place burning lamps in earthy pitchers, that the power and the victory may be of Him alone. It is to be supposed that, like other daughters of Eve, she had her faults and her "foolishness," and they are known to God, who remembereth that we are but dust; and they are buried out of His sight in the sepulchre of Calvary, never more to rise. But when the trumpet sounds she will herself arise, disencumbered of the earthen vessel, and clothed with the light and perfection of a spiritual body.
Of that other sweet sister of the Lord who is fallen asleep we need not inquire-" Whence had she this wisdom and this holy love?" Her gentle voice is hushed in death, or she might answer-" All my fresh springs are in Thee, O Lord! " She drank- deeply of the well of Bethlehem, the eternal spring of wisdom and truth and love. Like the beloved disciple, she leaned on Jesus, and so her ear caught the softest whisper of His voice, and her heart answered to His heart of love, as the calm lake reflects the sunlit sky. Thus she could respond to the witness of John-" We have known and believed the love that God hath to us ( He that dwelleth in love, dwelleth in God-God is love." The God of her life, in whom she trusted with such childlike confidence, having loved His own while she was in the world, loved her unto the end, and was her guide unto death. " Till within the last hour, utterance was used to speak of the love, truth, and faithfulness of God in Christ, and in terms the most touching. Nothing occupied her during(y the latter part of her course in this sickness, but the joy set before her-so bright, so serene."
So gently shuts the eye of day, So dies a wave along the shore."
The last book of Caroline Wilson is a transcript of the " Great Commandment," written in her tender heart by the finger of God Himself. She was indeed a living epistle of Christ, and being dead she yet speaketh. It has been said of our heaven-taught sister that " she manifested in 'Christ our Lord,' and other writings, the philosophic strength of spirits masculine,' combined with feminine grace and tenderness." This union of grace and strength forms what we deem angelic excellence.
This is true, but we enter not now into any analysis of her varied gifts and graces. All that we can do is to glance at the last work of this wise-hearted woman, wrought for the sanctuary after a heavenly pattern. Thus she writes of the love of God-"Love something else ! Why, there is nothing else ! It is all but a portion or reflection of Himself. . . . All creatures are but faulty portraits with just one look, one almost real look of Him we love supremely - caught ever and anon by them that know His face, and so we love them too. I know not what manner of vision pure spirits have of Him in whose presence they abide; but 1 know, and am quite sure, they see no beauty, and feel no love, and seek no happiness apart from Him: all creation would be a useless bauble if they saw not, and knew not their Creator in it * Other than His likeness could not please-other than Himself could never satisfy. He wrought the affections too pure for other tastes, He made them too large for any other feeling: and He formed them so that, without what would suit their affections and suffice them, it was impossible they could be happy. Then when He issued forth His great commandment, had it been a decree to be happy instead of to love, which is in truth His gracious meaning by it-it would have come to the same thing there was no other way to be happy but by loving Himself supremely."
"Come, Lord Jesus, come quickly ! " said the beloved John in his lonely Patmos. And how sweetly is this dying cadence of inspiration re-echoed in the last words of her whose heart made melody unto the Lord. "Thou blessed One, forgive our sad impatience. Thou wert not impatient, albeit heavy and exceeding sorrowful, while Thy love to us was tested to the utmost. Thou art not impatient now that Thy enduring faithfulness is tested still by the unwillingness, unfitness, and unreadiness of Thy promised ones which delay Thy coming. Oh! say in heaven Thy gracious prayer for us, that our faith fail not when our love desponds trusting Thine when we cannot trust our own 1 We 'seek a country;' we are far from home-we say so-we believe so -at times we feel so. . . . And now if Thou should come -if some kind calculator dates Thy day-and eager listeners hear, or think they hear, the distant movements of Thy bridal train - shouldst Thou find faith - dost Thou find love enough in Christian hearts, to wish it might be so?"
It may be that they who are patiently waiting for Christ will not have so very long to wait. Even now the earth seems to shake and tremble at the distant roll of His chariot-wheels. Say not ye-there are yet a thousand years, and then cometh the harvest. Is not the summer nigh at hand? The Jewish fig tree shows signs of life-the Euphrates is drying up like a summer brook-"Men's hearts are failing them, for fear of those things that are coming on the earth, for the powers of heaven shall be shaken." "Wherefore I praised the dead which are already dead, more than the living which are yet alive "-for they are taken away from the evil to come. The beloved One hath been visiting His garden to gather His lilies, before the last storm of desolation. " Lo ! thus He giveth His beloved sleep." Our friends sleep until the morning without clouds, when the Lord shall come to awake them out of sleep. Then again the second time Jesus will show Himself to His disciples. And on this wise He will show Himself. He will appear as King of kings, wearing many crowns, in that day of His espousals, and of the gladness of His heart. He will be manifested in the brightness of His glory, to dry up the tears of His people, as the "clear shining after rain." " For lo ! the winter is past, the rain is over and gone-the time of singing is come. Arise and come away." Then the sleeping and living saints shall awake and arise and shine ; and sing for joy to see their Lord, the King of Saints. He shall be glorified in His saints, and admired in all them that believe. They shall be to the praise of the glory of His grace, when the Lord of the Sabbath shall rest in His love, and joy over them with singing. Before them the prospect is a bright vista of everdeepening bliss, and rivers of pleasure for evermore.
"The flowers shall appear again "on the earth," and Paradise shall resound with songs of joy. Of the "increase of peace " there shall be no end, for the Holy Dove shall rest on the celestial Olivet, and flee away no more from the stormy winds and tempest. The Spirit of Love shall be grieved no more, and the Man of Sorrows shall weep no more, and the happy children of the resurrection shall sin no more, for ever. Blessed and holy are they that have part in the first resurrection. Blessed are they that do His commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, in the midst of the garden. Our mother Eve disinherited herself and her children by disobedience; but the heirs of the second Adam shall inherit all things, and eat of the tree of life and live for evermore. The fiery sword that guarded "the sacrament and instrument of immortality" is quenched in the blood of the Lamb: and so the kingdom of heaven is opened to all believers. Therefore, " unto Him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in His own blood, unto Him be glory and dominion for ever and ever." Amen.
ISLE OF MAN, 1847.