[From Manx Recollections, 1894]
AFTER Karine had become very intimate with Mrs. Elliott, her visits to gloomy Athol Street were much more frequent than they were ever previously. One Monday morning, on her way to her friend's house, she saw a great crowd gathered around the hall door, and asking an acquaintance who was passing the meaning of the gathering, she was answered:
" Oh, do you not know this is Monday morning; and your friend Mrs. Elliott, from nine to ten o'clock, makes it the occasion of bringing together all the vagrants of the town, and by distributing pennies to them, encourages them in idleness and drink! "
This was one view of the matter, the other was that there was no poor-law in the island, and that the needs of the poor weighed on that loving heart, and rather than pass over an indigent case, she incurred the risk of doing some harm, but she trusted more good. She was not a tactician in matters of charity and the dispensing of favours generally. She gave where love or where pity impelled her, and she left the results with Him who sees not as man sees, and weighs the thoughts and intents of the heart according to the decision of His all-righteous judgment. Every Saturday the faithful servant Kelly was despatched over the town of Douglas to change silver or gold as the case might be, and return the amount to his mistress in pence to distribute on Monday morning. And truly it was a sight to see men, women, and children in various degrees of rags and dirt and misery depicted on their faces, waiting in a crowd at that door until the hour had arrived to open it. And then the benefactress herself appeared ; and taking each poor creature in his or her turn, she distributed an alms, and gave a solemn admonition to keep pure, not to drink, not to lie, not to steal; and to be able to follow out this good intention, to pray unceasingly for the gift and power of the Holy Spirit to make them strong in the hour of temptation, and to preserve them always from the Evil One, who seeks to entrap and destroy the careless and prayerless.
Some, on the other hand, were taken, one at a time, into an inner room, where what passed between the soul of the pure and the impure, the heart of the wise and the heart of the ignorant and foolish, the life of the holy and the life of the unholy, God alone knows, who took count of each word uttered, of each prayer prayed in the secret of that mysterious chamber.
" Finally," said a niece of this saintly woman, " the morning's work was done, the last single knock answered, the last word spoken, and she was free to retire for communion with her Master before going out into the lanes and highways to teach the poor of Douglas."
In summer the scene at the door of No. 31 was also remarkable. At that time of the year the streets of the town swarm with itinerant musicians of different nationalities. Soon they discover their friends ; and Mrs. Elliott's house wås literally besieged by them. Words were spoken, texts from Scripture quoted in their mother tongue, tracts, Testaments, helpful little books, &c. all in their own language distributed, and contributions in pence for music played, or songs sung, or smiles smiled through brilliant lips with shining teeth, and eyes black and lustrous with Southern glow. Romance tinctured even our friend's acts of charity as well as the deep spring of divine love which filled to overflowing her great warm heart.
She was a subscriber for years to the Religious Tract Society, and always had a supply of religious literature at hand either to give or lend to people waiting for the doctor. Did she hear any one in the surgery, off she trotted with willing feet to drop " a word in season" " here a little, there a little."
Dr. Cathcart, one of the deputations from the Religious Tract Society, reports what an interest it was to pay her his annual visit. she had always something new to tell him of the work the Society was doing. Instead of his being called upon to inform her, she more frequently forestalled his acquaintance of fresh facts, by giving him a full and glowing account of the latest tidings she had heard or read of.
With equal ardour she received year by year Mr. Weyland of the London City Mission; and her conversations with this good and energetic secretary were brimful of interest. She was fond of quoting one of Lord Shaftesbury's sayings, "Were it not for the work of this noble Society, London would not be safe for a night; but a mighty hand keeps the lawless in check."
Her young nieces in the summer-time, when they came to visit her, would contemplate their aunt's doings, and listen to her words with wonder and admiration. She was to them, as to Karine, a marvel of holiness and wisdom, They had every opportunity to study her inner life and its outcome in the home ; and their youthful keen observation resulted but in one verdict that she was a saint indeed holy in thought, word, and action; and gifted as few are gifted with knowledge and a brilliant and powerful intellect.
Among those who bear a like testimony is Miss Fannin of Burleigh. Writing of her friend she says:
" Hers was indeed the life of a saint; and do you not think its keynote was love ? I remember being frequently struck with this feature in her character love to the most unworthy. How we did reverence her with that enthusiasm which is pleasant now to recall ! "
There was one of her nieces for whom she had we do not call it a preference but a very special regard and sympathy ; it was Marian, Mr. Weatherell's second daughter. Marian in very much resembled her aunt. She was a sweet gentle Christian girl, with a fair face and fair golden hair like her sisters, but with a manner so subdued and winning one felt inclined to say and think of her, "Truly an ideal clergy-man's daughter, and apparently one who knows well what it is to be in the company of Jesus."
And so it was. Marian was a friend of Jesus, she walked in His footsteps, and lived continually by faith in the Son of God. She had a missionary spirit, and a gift for English composition which greatly interested her aunt. On one occasion she went to a missionary meeting at Bottesford, near her home, and heard a missionary of the name of Duncan, who then worked in connection with the Church Missionary Society and did a remarkable work in British Columbia, evangelising the savage Indians and bringing them under the amenity of the Gospel. The lecture he gave at Bottesford so interested young Marian Weatherell that she took notes of it, and afterwards produced an account so able and fascinating that her aunt had it published as a tract.
Writing to Mr. Weatherell she says:
" How can I thank Marian enough for the delightful narrative which she has so kindly sent to me. . . . It is well expressed and well done, a highly creditable production of the young reporter. It has been read aloud to me by two blooming young ladies, with blue eyes and soft sweet voices, something like Marian herself. Two hours after the MS. arrived two ladies called for my subscription to the Church Missionary Society. The younger one was a Miss Roskill (a daughter of Mr. Joe Roskill), and she read to me more than four pages of the manuscript. She was much interested, and it will probably have a good effect in deepening her interest in the work. So Marian's labour is not in vain. And yesterday Miss called to see me, and read aloud the whole narrative from beginning to end with lively interest. Certainly the brave young Duncan was called to his work by the same Holy Spirit who separated Barnabas and Saul for their missionary work. And being so called and sent, the Word of Life has been confirmed by signs following in a manner quite supernatural and astonishing. These converted Indians will be a crown of rejoicing to their good evangelist in the good morning that is drawing nigh. Who knows how near it may be?"
During the summer of 1872 Marian, accompanied by the nurse Hannah, came on a visit to Dr. and Mrs. Elliott; and such a joy and refreshment was it to her aunt to have the young girl with her that she sadly missed her when, at last, she was obliged to leave for home.
" How dull and empty this house looked when you were gone," she wrote; "and what a long time it seems since you went away ! If Elton seems quiet to you after Douglas, so is this house since you left. The weather changed after your departure, and it seemed for a few days as if the summer warmth and sunshine had come and gone with the halcyon birds from Elton."
Mrs. Elliott again left alone, Karine visited her very often, almost daily. One Sunday in August the Rev. William Lefroy of Liverpool, now the distinguished Dean of Norwich, was to preach at St. Barnabas, and the two friends went together to hear him. His sermons were for the benefit of the St. Barnabas schools. The occasion was one of interest to Mrs. Elliott, and a red-letter day in the case of Karine marking an eventful epoch in the history of her theology and of her life. They both agreed that they had listened to a ninteenth century reformer.
That their insight and foresight were not far wrong after events seem to prove. For truly Dean Lefroy's unceasing effort and great powers of oratory all point to the fact that his aim is to reform manners and customs in the Church and in society for the honõur of God and good of men.
One of his texts that day at St. Barnabas was, "Also in thy skirts is found the blood of the poor innocents " (Jer. ii. 34). And with "most extraordinary unction, pathos, and power he pictured " the crime" of Judah in her day, and in reference to it the crime of England in hers. Moloch was the god of retrograde idolatrous Judah in the wicked King Manasseh's generation and reign; and to the rapacious deity was sacrificed the blood of youth and innocence. Gold ! gold! the preacher declared, was equally the god of England in the generation and reign of Queen Victoria; and to this cruel and all-tyrannous idol was sacrificed the blood of the land in its young and innocent children !
And with dramatic effect and startling application, he recited a lengthy quotation from Barrett Browning's "Cry of the Children."
So inspired were the two kindred souls and entranced listeners Mrs. Elliott and her girl friend and impregnated with the Luther-like spirit that breathed from the preacher's denunciatory appeal, that D'Aubigne's Reformation, the writings of Luther, Erasmus, Melanchthon, and other of the great Reformation fathers of Christian Europe, became for a long time afterwards the theme of their conversation, study, and reading. And this was especially so when, in a short time, Mr. Lefroy's powerful orations were followed up by an equally graphic and stirring lecture on the subject of Erasmus.
Writing to her niece Marian, after the Sunday's sermons, Mrs. Elliott says: " Last Sunday was the St. Barnabas Anniversary; and Miss Skottowe and I went there morning and evening. The highly gifted Mr. Lefroy prayed, read, and preached on both occasions. The collections amounted to £41, the largest Anniversary collection since the time of Mr. Alcock at St. Barnabas." Good as the collection was considered, it fell far short of the £92 cheerfully contributed for the same object in the days of Dr. Carpenter.
About this time, Karine, who was in delicate health, left Douglas to visit the English lakes with a French cousin of hers, Mademoiselle Lëonide Mailly, and whilst at Keswick, Mrs. Elliott writes to her young friend a pretty letter in French :
"Mignonette," she begins, " bien des remerciements de votre lettre si fratche respirant fair du lat et de la montagne. Il me semble que vous et Windermere sont en rapport, et comme le lat est le miroir limpide du tiel et de la terre, ainsi, votre lettre en est le rëflet de la belle nature qui vous entoure. Vous dites en vëritë que c'est un paradis. On peut bien croire que quand la mer ne sera plus dans la nouvelle terre, il y aura des lacs pour rëfiëchir ses paysages d'une beautë immortelle.
" Nous avons sur tette vieille .terre le lat de Galilëe avec les saints souvenirs de Celui qui 1'a traversë une fois a pied, et souvent dans la barque des pëcheurs. Il y a quelque chose de grand et paisible ëtre au milieu de telles scënes. .
" Qu'elle doit ëtre grande sorciëre mademoiselle, votre cousine, de vous avoir transformëe en `lionne'-la lionne qui mange! Quelle mëtamorphose ! Peut on trouver un nouveau La Fontaine pour ëcrire la nouvelle fable de Lëonide et sa lionne ! "
The above facetious allusion to " la lionne qui mange ! " and the new fable with Lëonide and her lion as the subject, was a play on a remark probably made by Karine, that she had become strong under her cousin's care, and ravenous as a lion !
Karine's next journey was to London, in the company of Miss Marian Bacon; and Mrs. Elliott again writes to her, but this time in English:-
" MY DEAR UNREASONABLE KATIE,-In your former letter you advised me (with kind consideration for my infirmity) not to send an answer. And now in your second you pretend to be angry that my answer to you was not as long as it was to Miss Bacon. The wonder was that either of the deux amies aux yeux bleus got any answer at all from the stupid old creature who is neither blue-eyed nor clair-voyante.
" Your papa, I heard, said you were not coming home for two or three weeks, as you said something about your going to see Mrs. Wright.* If you should visit our dear friend, will you ask her whether I am still to hold her good little book as a hostage of her return some fine day. If she goes on postponing her return I may be dead before she comes, and then she might not so easily regain her book !
"Did I ever repeat to you an anecdote related by Mrs. Hemans of a French nobleman of the old rëgime who wrote thus to a friend: `Par respect je vous ëcris de ma propre main, mais pour faciliter la lecture, je vous en envoie une copie !' Eh bien ! ma cherie, qu'en pensez-vous. Does the saying apply in either your case or mine ? "
The latter sentence referred to something she had received in Karine's handwriting which she had not been able to decipher; and her own writing she took for granted was somewhat illegible owing to her failing sight. But at this time her writing, though not as regular and extremely delicate as formerly, was perfectly distinct, and such a thing as an erasure never occurred.
* The Hon. Theodosia Wright.