[From Manx Recollections, 1894]
IN the spring of 1881 Karine visited Elton, and from there went on to Paris with Eleanor Weatherell. Mrs. Elliott had given the former a special message to M. Bersier, and the young lady had promised to bring back a full and accurate reply.
When Eleanor and Karine started on their journey to the continent, Mrs. Elliott was not well; but before much of their time was over, news reached them that she was very unwell indeed. So saddening was this intelligence that they considerably curtailed their visit, and Karine made haste to return to the island.
During her stay in Paris she had been hoarding up every bit of information that she thought would interest her dear friend at home, especially had she a budget on the subject of Bersier, whose acquaintance she had made, and whose church she had embraced every opportunity to attend.
Alas! when on coming back to Douglas she visited 31 Athol Street, little did she imagine she should find such a change in her beloved Mrs. Elliott. To her disappointment and pain her Paris news met with little, or no interested response. Bersier's kind reply to the message conveyed fell flat. His name the first golden link of the loving relationship that existed between the sufferer and her companion had lost all its wonted charm. She was no longer the gay, graceful, intelligent talker talk was a weariness, and news of even the most interesting and cheering kind was apparently of no moment, and hardly welcome.
Karine was crushed. She was little prepared for such a reception. Half her enjoyment in going abroad was to bring back what she believed would tend to brighten her friend. She could not have conceived that in so short a time such a change could possibly have taken place.
On another occasion she called, and being at that time full of the new School of Art which she attended and was very fond of, she began to expatiate on her love for art and her hope of success in the study of it. Mrs. Elliott sat very quiet as if listening; and then, as the speaker paused for a reply, thinking that she had been interesting her hearer, the latter ejaculated almost petulantly, "I cannot think, Karine, how you can possibly care for such things how very uninteresting they appear to be !"
Karine was thunderstruck. Could she believe her ears her dear Mrs. Elliott no longer interested in her pursuits, voting them even worthless !
Alas! alas ! it was evident that the brilliant intelligence that once shone with such radiance and beauty was fading away, and the loving heart and gracious manner that had always had such irresistible charm were becoming weary and fretful.
Ah, vain and foolish, indeed, are the things of Time, when Eternity is looming before, with its vast and all absorbing concern !
Karine saw with a flash what she was to expect. She understood that the strings of earth were slackening, and the eternal future was about to claim, unalloyed and un-accompanied by any admixture of Time, all the faculties of her friend's being.
It was a few weeks perhaps after her return from Paris, she called one day as usual to ask for Mrs. Elliott, when the servant said, " Do come in, Miss, my mistress would, I am sure, like to see you she is lying on the sofa."
And opening a room door the visitor was announced The sofa was empty, no Mrs. Elliott was there.
"Annie," called Karine, hastening after the retreating servant, " you are mistaken, Mrs. Elliott is not there."
" Dear me ! " said the girl, " she must then have got out through the surgery door, and gone into Shaw's Brew."
" Gone out! " said Karine and by herself surely she is not fit to do that?"
" She is not, Miss," was the answer; " but she does it without knowing, I think whenever she gets a chance, the Doctor or none of us watching her."
Karine was not long in tracing the whereabouts of her friend. She entered the back street, and then from it turned down the wretched alley termed Little Ireland, when lo! what did she see but her beloved friend kneeling on the cold, dirty, rough ground in the very middle of the alley ! She was praying, and entreating of the people as for a life-time almost she had been in the habit of doing to turn from sin to righteousness, and from death to life in Christ Jesus.
" Oh, Mrs. Elliott, dear! " cried Karine, putting her arms round her whom she so much loved; " don't, dear, kneel here in the cold. Come back with me, and get warm, and lie down and rest."
The tender sightless eyes were raised to those bending over her, and the gentle saint rose; and, like a little child, suffered herself to be led quietly away by the hand she had been so long familiar with, and that she no doubt felt was laid upon her in loving compassion.
A smile was on her lips too, though she did not speak, as if she was pleased to be interfered with by one who cared for and loved her.
Days and weeks went over, and occasionally there were gleams of the old brilliant intelligence, the old interest in healthy mundane employment and recreation, the old grace of demeanour and loving winsomeness.
And one day, when the strong will was also again asserting itself, our dear friend made the announcement that she had ascertained there was hope for the recovery of her sight the eyes were now ripe for operation, and she was going to Manchester to have them operated upon the journey to London would be too much of an undertaking.
Her husband and friends were terrified. They represented to her the thought of such a thing was the extreme of rash-ness, that her strength was so enfeebled that to undergo any such tax upon her constitution was perilous in the extreme. Their words only vexed her she was resolved to go.
All remonstrances being in vain, the many anxious hearts could only trust and pray for the best. To Manchester the sufferer went, accompanied by Dr. Elliott and a servant; and in course of a few days after her arrival she went through the operation. After which she was kept in a dark room; and finally, at the end of the prescribed term, liberated; and, it was asserted, in a fair way to complete recovery.
When she returned home, though looking dreadfully worn and ill, she certainly gladdened all hearts by assuring them . that she could now really see to read.
Alas! it was a fictitious gleam, which almost immediately ended in total and irrevocable darkness.
Oh, blow unbearable! She never recovered the frightful, the overwhelming disappointment!
"The thing which she greatly feared had come upon her." The brave heart succumbed.
Time with all its interests, its joys, its exquisite pleasures of intelligence and heart, was a thing of the past!
Nothing now remained before but the sweep of eternity the illimitable shore of the future.
And, thank God, she could meet that. Though the beautiful mind was a vacuum as regarded the things of this life, it was still clear and unclouded as regarded the things of hereafter.
Miss Alice Weatherell being sent for to remain with her aunt during this trying time, says, she will never forget what her distress was when on arriving her aunt did not recognise her.
In a few days, however, her powers of recognition turned; and Miss Alice Weatherell was with her during six",'. months of a sad and trying time the mind alternately going and coming, and the physical strength proportionately weak and wavering.
It was about this time when one morning after family prayer, the invalid remained in complete silence as if in deep thought, then all at once suddenly rising, she exclaimed to Alice :
" Call all the servants. I wish them upstairs again." Alice did as she was bid, and the household reassembled. "Let us pray," she then said solemnly.
"In the prayer that then followed," said Miss Weatherell, "the sense of sin was so present, that she cried out again and again, ` Lord, have mercy Christ, have mercy. Oh, the burden of sin! Oh, to be delivered from self/ Oh, the infinite love of God ! "'
Alice and the servants were overawed. The reality the intense earnestness of that prayer were overwhelming in their power and startling impressiveness.
Finally the saint of God was altogether laid on one side. For many weary months she lay on her bed the mind gone the frail body wasting away.
Gone! do we say that bright intellect ? No, not when it concerned the language of the King. Her lips were always moving in prayer; and any allusion to Scripture would wake a ready repetition of verse after verse and passage after passage. Spiritual things were ever present; and visions of holiness and beauty kept her spirit calm and at peace.
One day when she had been rendered much more comfortable by change of bed, linen, &c., she turned to her niece and said:
"Do you know I owe all this comfort to a poor beggar, who deprived himself of his cloak to cover me? How very kind it was ! Was it not ? "
And again and again she spoke of the wonderful goodness of God. The goodness of God and the benevolence of His creatures swelled her heart with recognition even in dying. Thanksgiving was on her lips to the last.
Shortly before the child came, she was evidently visited with some wondrous vision of delight, which we were informed she described in the language of Bunyan's Pilgrim. From the account given we would conclude that the passage repeated, word for word, and with a countenance of calm joy, was the following:
" I see myself now at the end of my journey, my toilsome days are ended. I am going now to see that head which was crowned with thorns, and that face that was spit upon for me. I have formerly lived by hearsay and faith; but now I go where I shall live by sight, and shall be with Him in whose company I delight myself. I have loved to hear my Lord spoken of ; and wherever I have seen the print of His shoe in the earth, there I have coveted to set my foot too. His name has been sweeter than all perfumes. His voice to me has been most sweet, and His countenance I have more desired than they that have most desired the light of the sun. His word I did use to gather for my food, and for antidotes against my faintings. He has held me, and hath kept me from mine iniquities; yea, my steps have been strengthened in His way."
As was her life so was her death a tribute of praise to Christ her King. "The diamond was cut " the saint's work on earth was done. She had fought a good fight, and henceforth was laid up for her a crown of righteousness which the Lord, the righteous Judge, shall give her at that day; and to all who, like her, love and wait for His appearing.
The announcement that the loved and gentle spirit had fled was made on Wednesday, May 31, 1882, from the reading desk in St. George's Church by the Rev. Beauchamp George, the vicar, during the evening service.
A solemn hush pervaded the building as the words fell and held every heart in sacred awe, whilst those who loved her best bowed the head and "shed the mortal tear"; but as they did so, they, as it were, beheld as in a passing pageant the glorious entry of that happy released spirit into the regions of everlasting day, amid the angelic throng, and the company of the redeemed : those who, having come out of great tribulation, have washed their robes white in the blood of the Lamb, and are before the throne of God, serving Him day and night in His temple: who "hunger no more, neither thirst any more; neither shall the sun light on them, nor any heat. For the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters: and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes."
She sleeps in St. George's churchyard, in the family vault, by the principal entrance gate, where too we have seen her mother laid, and her three sons; and where now her husband has joined them. Her dear old friend, the Rev. William Drury, the venerable Vicar of Braddan, Isle of Man, laid her to rest.
A small additional monument was raised to her memory. It is of granite, surmounted by a Bible the symbol of her strength on the open page of which are engraved the words, "Great peace have they which lave Thy law" (Ps. cxim x65). And beneath
To the Memory
WHO FINISHED HER LIFE-LONG TASK OF
SELF-DENYING LOVE AND
DEVOTED CHRISTIAN SERVICE,
MAY 31, 1882,
AGED 68 YEARS.
" Hush ! blessed are the dead
In Jesus' arms who rest,
And lean their weary head
For ever on His breast.
O beatific sight !
No darkling veil between,
They see. the Light of light,
Whom here they loved unseen.
For them the world is past
With all its toil and care;
Its withering midnight blast,
Its fiery noonday glare.
Them the good Shepherd leads
Where storms are never rife,
In tranquil dewy meads
Beside the Fount of Life.
Ours only are the tears,
Who weep around their tomb,
The light of bygone years
And shadowing years to come.
Their voice, their touch, their smile
Those love-springs flowing o'er-
Earth for its little while
Shall never know them more.
But soon at break of day
His calm Almighty voice,
Stronger than death shall say,
Awake arise rejoice."