[From Manx Recollections, 1894]
IN July and August of 1878, well as our friend had for a time been before, a great change came over her. It was fore-shadowed by a feeling of extreme lassitude; then a dreadful sort of boil at the back of her neck showed itself. It became worse and worse so serious in its nature, indeed, that her life was considered in danger. Her niece, Alice Weatherell, was sent for ; and a devoted, patient nurse she proved herself to her poor afflicted aunt.
In September, when she had got over the worst of the shocking suffering, an insatiable desire took hold of her to go to the country and breathe the sweet balmy air. Athol Street, with its dulness and its dark memories of sorrow and death, chilled her, and as a weight pulled her down in spirit more than she cared to allow any one to be aware of.
Alice was sent to St. John's to look for suitable rooms. She fixed upon a sweet cottage embowered in foliage and flowers, and within sound of a running brook, singing for ever a little tunë full of music and suggestive of repose.
There the two went, and there Karine visited them. How strange it seemed to the latter to find her dear brilliant conversationalist so changed all at once become quiet and almost speechless a sad look of pain and weariness upon her gentle, noble countenance.
The visitor was depressed at the sight, and a crushing feeling came over her. Was the time approaching when she should lose this friend who had become, she believed, essential to her own life and happiness, and certainly to her spiritual well-being
It pleased God, however, to gradually recover to a certain degree of ordinary health this precious friend. Previous to her recovery, and long before she could barely crawl for weakness, young Alice Weatherell informed Karine that day by day she would venture forth and visit the adjoining cottages, seeking to do good for Jesus' sake. Alice mentioned one instance of a poor woman who was dying of consumption how deeply touched and impressed she was by the fact that the lady, who was nearly as ill as herself, came to see and speak to her of the one thing needful for time and eternity. The poor creature was very ignorant, but gratitude to her benefactress quickened her perception and instigated her faith. She made rapid progress in spiritual things; and Miss Weatherell said she believed that through her aunt's ministrations the sufferer at last passed away a peaceful and enlightened soul.
On another occasion, which impressed Alice very much, she and her aunt went together to visit a poor dwelling, where they expected to find several inmates, but where a child alone was to be seen father and mother and the rest being in the fields, or elsewhere. Instead of a word with the little one, and then coming away, Mrs. Elliott, nothing deterred by the smallness of her audience, sat down, and, drawing the child to her, engaged it in conversation, till by degrees the little one's confidence was entirely won. Then she brought forward in childish language the "Old, old story of Jesus and His love," unfolding the leading truths of salvation in such a way as to arrest and fill the young mind with interest and grave wonder.
How utterly weak she was, and painfully exhausted, her niece only too plainly saw, but it was useless to urge her to desist talking until she was satisfied she had impressed the Gospel message on the youthful understanding, and touched with its sweetness the tender and aroused conscience.
In a letter from the convalescent to her brother, after her return to Douglas from St. John's, we have a picture of her dreadful sufferings in July and August
"At the time," she says, "of my great suffering, dear Robert, your sympathy with me was such real pain, such feeling with my agony, that now your congratulations are as heartfelt as was then your sympathy. When Doctor Fleming first saw the wound, the day but one after it had been cut open, he had a look of fear in his face, and he said, You must have suffered torments; it is beyond all comparison the worst anthrax that I ever saw." Some weeks afterwards Alice heard him say, that when he first saw it, he thought that I never could get over it. However, through Divine mercy, my life has been spared for a season. But this recent bodily trial has given me a fresh experience of the terrible reality of pain, with the oft-recurring thought of the awful goodness of Christ in 'tasting death for every man,' and going down into the depths of agony that He might save us from sin and selfishness, and from ourselves, to be transformed by His Spirit into His own likeness.
" My husband is waiting to answer your letter until he can say my wound is quite healed. It was at first wide and deep, about the length of your hand, now it is about the width of your little finger."
When winter set in, Alice Weatherell returned to Douglas, and her sister Eleanor accompanied her. They came to take care of their aunt, not without self-sacrifice, for they left behind them at Elton their dear sister Marian very unwell.
Alluding to some scriptural references made by the Rev. Robert Weatherell, his sister again writes to him in January:
" Many thanks for your golden letter, full of heavenly wisdom and love drawn from the treasury of Scripture, from things new and old in the books of the Old and New Covenant. Yours is real sympathy with pain, because you feel with the sufferer. During the time of agony, day and night, for weeks, thoughts on the mystery of pain were often revolving in my mind. The only answer is to be found in the 'Lamb' in the `heart of the Throne,' and the self-sacrifice in the heart of God, the Creator becoming in Christ the Redeemer, that by the sacrifice of Himself the lost creature might be delivered from the bondage of sin and selfishness into re-union with God, to be made partakers of a Divine nature. The Lord Jesus is the Lamb because He was slain, so ordained before the foundation of the world, and as you justly observe, I One meaning of the blood surely implies suffering,' and this very pain proves . the intense reality of Divine love; and the Lamb in the heart of the throne is emblazoned in Revelation as the royal coat-of-arms of Heaven.
"How glad and thankful we were to see your dear girls again. What a comfort they are in the house, what a reviving, cheering influence with their pleasant, obliging, thought ful kindness. Your dear Marian must try to forgive our cruel selfishness in drawing them' away from Elton this winter."
1879 was the year of the Zulu war, a time of painful interest for our friend. In June she writes to her niece Marian, of whom she was so very fond, and who was still ill, on the subject of the lamentable death of the Prince Imperial, and the anguish of the Empress, his mother:
" We are truly sorry, dear Marian, to learn from dear Alice's letter that you have been suffering so much pain and sickness. It is very grievous to flesh and blood to go through these trials, and very saddening to your friends, who feel a loving sympathy with your sufferings. But the most compassionate Friend is the One who suffered most of all, and for all, who is `touched with the feeling of our infirmities.' In due season He will take you by the hand again, and raise you up to renewed health and strength; and then you will be glad that He has taught you to endure, as He teaches every one whom He brings into His school and His family. `Behold, we count them happy which endure,' is the voice of Scripture, but it is not the world's voice, the world counts them happy who enjoy present things. But the present things are passing away, while patient submission to the Father's will is a preparation for pleasures for ever-more in the light of His countenance. But it is not easy or natural to bear pain with joyfulness; this is the result of supernatural strength imparted by the Holy Spirit; and the end of such endurance will be endless enjoyment hereafter. You remember the saying of Job, ` He performeth the thing appointed for me.' And a modern has expanded the thought into these beautiful Christian lines:
Nay, ` Nay, I endure; but not because
The world imposeth woe;
But rather that Thine Hands perform
The thing appointed so ,
Those kindly wounding hands did brave
Themselves a deeper wound to save.'
" Your pain, dear Marian, hard as it is to bear, may soon through the Divine blessing be quite removed. But it is very different with the afflicted mother of young Louis Napoleon. Hers is an anguish of the broken heart incurable as long as she lives upon this earth. May the Saviour who pitied the bereaved mother at Nain be her comfort now, and draw her nearer and nearer to Himself, who was once pierced and wounded for our sins."
Soon after writing the above Mrs. Elliott was again a prey to dreadful physical suffering another boil or abscess, similar to the last, made its appearance; and the drain upon the enfeebled constitution of the sufferer was appalling. The anxiety of her friends was great, and many were the prayers offered for the alleviation of the dear one's agony.
It was during this illness that Miss E. A. Moffat, whose name has been mentioned before, apprised Archdeacon Philpot, Mrs. Elliott's dear old associate of other days, of her illness, and enclosed to him the following lines, expressive of the anxiety and grief that were felt for her :
DEAR MRS. ELLIOTT. November 1879.
We brought her before our Father God
In the loving hands of prayer,
We bore her up to the Mercy-seat .
And we laid the sufferer there
The answer came down from the Heavenly Throne,
"Fear not, fear not, she is one of Mine own."
Her Saviour suffers each pang she bears,
Her sorrows are not unknown;
And every pain that His servant feels,
The Master has made His own.
And amid the angels' sweet songs above
He hears the cry of the child of His love.
"Fear not, fear not," saith the Saviour's voice, "
Tho' the furnace heated be ;
I am with thee in the midst of fire,
And the flames shall not burn thee."
The eternal God is thy refuge found,
And His everlasting arms around.
And He is still as "mighty to save,"
And oh, it will ever be
The joy of His heart to sing of His love,
Of His tender love, to thee !
So we pray in faith, and we leave the rest
In the hands of Him who doth love thee best.
ELIZABETH A. MOFFAT.
A keen sympathiser and literary admirer of Mrs. Elliott's was Captain Edward Dumergue 1, well remembered for his versatile talents, extensive reading, and remarkable memory. He appreciated the sincerity and lofty piety of his gifted friend in no stinted measure.
It was touching to note the kindliness of the act which led this lively talker to secure for her this, or that bunch of choice grapes, flowers, or whatever he thought would please and do her good.
Calling upon Karine with his gift he would say, " This is for Mrs. Elliott do take it to her," knowing it would gratify the former to be the bearer of the dainty.
This reminds one, en passant, of the intense admiration and affection of the once gay, jocose Clerk of the Rolls, Mr. Alfred Adams, for our friend. Many a day he would leave his busy office in Athol Street to come in and have a chat with her of whom he declared that she "already lived half in heaven." Looking around St. George's Church he would say, "There, at least, kneels one in that pew of whose devotion and sincere holiness of life I have not the shadow of a single doubt! "
Once more, before the year closed, it pleased God to raise our dear friend up again.
Her nieces having returned to Elton in the spring, when summer came, she was very anxious to have Alice back, and wrote to ask her to come. Alice was unable, Marian being so extremely ill.
In September of this year (1879) Mrs. Elliott was sufficiently well to be able to be present at the inauguration of the Douglas branch of the Young Women's Christian Association, in which Karine took a special part. This was a delightful and memorable evening when a work was founded and established in the island, the benefits of which are accruing, we believe, more and more to the glory of God and the good of His creatures.
Towards the close of autumn, news arrived that Marian Weatherell was growing alarmingly ill the beloved niece in whom her aunt was so especially interested, and of whom she had such bright hopes in regard to her intelligence and piety.
The latter's sorrow on receiving the news was intense, and her yearning for any relief that could be administered to the sufferer urgent in expression. She herself had gone through such agony of body and mind that acutely she could enter into the sufferings of another, especially, too, when they were of the same nature as those she had endured; for Marian was languishing from the effects of a dreadful abscess.
"Anything," she wrote, "that gives relief for one day, or one night, is a mercy and a blessing."
Alas! the next news was that the sweet gifted Christian girl was no more. Death had claimed the fair and good the young life that had for a season sweetened the lives of others, and left behind the perfume of a gentle, saintly memory.
Writing on the sad event to the bereaved father, his sister says "It must have cost you, dear Robert, a great effort to write that sad letter with the grievous tidings which we have been expecting with fear and dread. If earthly love could have kept our dear Marian in this lower world, she would have tarried for many a day. But it is written in the Song of Solomon, `My Beloved is gone into His garden to gather lilies,' and He has gathered a fair and lovely one from the garden at Elton, to be transplanted into His own Paradise, until the time of restitution, the `day of respiration.' You and Lydia have been allowed to nurse a child for Him, and He will give you your wages when He gives her to you again beautiful with His beauty, lovely with His loveliness as He put upon her some of His comeliness here below, where the very stamp of Heaven was imprinted on her young saintly face. She used to sing with that pure sweet voice of hers,
' Angels ever bright and fair, Take, oh take me to your care.'
And now we believe that they are surrounding her with songs of gratulation on her escape from this evil world, and from the agonised body, and better than all beside, she has a clearer vision of the King in His beauty, and her soul is satisfied with His goodness. When the lull of pain came after the fiery storm, and Marian spoke to you in that delightful manner, looking so happy and glad, and saying that 'God is love,' and that she never expected to feel in that way it was as a waft of fresh air from the Heavenly country, or rather a whisper of the Holy Spirit coming from the heart of the Good Father, and breathing into her inmost soul a new sense of the blessedness into which she was entering. Now that she has passed over to the other side of the veil, she will know more of the meaning of the mystery of pain as she looks upon the face of Him who once travailed unto death, to bring many children into His everlasting life, and who was made perfect as a Saviour through the things which He suffered. For weeks and months past the thought of Marian's sickness and pain has lain as a weight on one's mind; but now it is changed into a sense of peace the pity and sympathy are for you, and the bereaved mother, and sisters and brothers."
To Alice she writes:
" Your dream of the lilies has been sadly fulfilled, as one feared on hearing it told. The meaning was' but too plain; and no wonder that it kept you awake for a long time after wards. In the Song of Solomon the word is "My Beloved is gone down into His garden to gather lilies," and so it ought to have been written in my letter to your father. In a spiritual sense it may be said that the Saviour often comes down to gather His own unto Himself. Eighteen hundred years ago, He did actually come down for their deliverance when he left his Throne and humbled Himself to be born into a body of flesh and blood, on purpose that He might die, to descend 'into the lower parts of the earth.' 'He that descended is the same that ascended far above all heavens,' and why? that He might fill all things that the creation should not always be subject unto the bondage of vanity and corruption, but be brought into the liberty of the glory of the children of God. When Solomon, the ° sad and splendid,' had tasted every cup of earthly pleasure, he recorded his experience after all, that all is vanity of vanities emptiness of emptiness under the sun. He said also that `if a man live a hundred years twice told if his soul be not filled with good, I say that an untimely birth is better than he.' But they who are acquainted with Him who ascended far above all heavens, learn more and more that He satisfieth the empty soul and filleth the hungry soul with goodness. This is now Marian's happy experience as she rests in His love, in the haven where she would be. It seems quite natural to think of her there, in her own congenial clime, where she must be more at home than she ever could be in this lower world, though she had a pleasant earthly home with those who loved her so well. Some dreams, which were mercifully given to me last winter, have suggested some faint ideas of her present blessedness. In one of these dreams there was a consciousness of resting in a serene blue ether, with a patch of rippling light in front, while one's whole being was imbued with an intensely calm delight in the sense of God's lovely character; it was indeed a `rapture of repose' an ecstasy of peace ineffable and indescribable the soul was satisfied with His goodness.
" In another dream there was a vision of glorious creatures of gigantic stature, and resplendent with light, on each side of a cloud; those on one side making signals of invitation to the others to come and join them, and the others waving their arms in token that they were coming.
" When one thinks of Marian where she is now, in the upper region above the storms, and of what she sees and hears and feels, it seems that the most loving mother and father would scarcely bring her down again into the waves of this troublesome world, though the heart does cry out for those who are gone. About three years ago, a few days before Easter, Marian and Maude left us to go to their home at Elton. And now Marian is gone to another home for her holy-days, until the great Easter-day of resurrection life, the re-union of spirit, soul and body, when she will come again, clothed with immortality. Who knows how soon it may be "
1 (fpc): Capt Edward Dumergue - address in 1881 directory given as 4 Windsor Terrace, Douglas, which was then a lodging house kept by Mrs Isabella Gill. The Captain and family however were not present at the 1881 census.
One of his daughters, Francis, had married Henry Jephson Moore, son of the Gawnes of Kentraugh